Star Wars: "Knight Errant: Essential Atlas Supplement"
My fifth contribution exclusively available for free on StarWars.com and on Suvudu isn't a traditional short story, but rather a supplement to the Star Wars Atlas. It does, however, have a fictional structure, in that it's written in the voice of Vannar Treece as a message sent just before the events of "Operation Influx."
The Knight Errant Gazetteer is the second promotional piece that I did for the Knight Errant comics and prose project. It appeared on starwars.com about a month after the release of the first issue of the Knight Errant comics series.
Earlier in the year saw the release of Star Wars: The Essential Atlas, a monumental undertaking by Daniel Wallace and Jason Fry. They had consulted with me on elements of that book which related to the Knights of the Old Republic comics storyline, and as I was going to be dealing with a part of the galaxy that had not been discussed much previously to Knight Errant, I spoke with them about doing an Atlas supplement fleshing out the neighborhood in which Kerra hold would be traveling in. Christopher West and Modi would draw the actual maps appearing with the article.
We began with the rudimentary maps that I had made based on what they had established for the Grumani sector in the essential Atlas. I only intended to focus in my early stories on this one region -- and in space, a sector is more than large enough to be home to quite a lot of chaos. Some of the elements had already been established, such as the location of the trade routes, and the physical shape of the sector. However, for a lot of other planets in the sector, all we knew was that the planets were there. The locations of the stars relative to each other had not been established. Daniel and Jason provided me with an index of all of the planets which had been mentioned and what had been written about them previously, and I worked that into what I was already doing for the comics and the novel.
This was my first collaboration on a cartographic project. I had previously collaborated with three other authors on the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic Campaign Guide for Wizards of the Coast, but this was different in that all three of us were working on the exact same short piece of text. I suggested that the entire piece be put in the voice of the Vannar Treece, Kerra's teacher and the leader of the ill-fated expedition into that space. Since we only got to see Vannar briefly in the comics, I thought this would be a good opportunity to lay out for the reader what his movement was all about, and how he saw things and the Jedi's role in the sector.
Also, by putting the entire document in Vannar's voice, we were able to couch things in a subjective light; if the history or any descriptions were off, it is because of limited knowledge on behalf of Vannar. In fact, we built some vagueness in on purpose. Chelloa is clearly not the safe place that Vannar thinks it is — it is his downfall — and there are places that Kerra finds out about in the later stories that turn out to be quite a bit different from how Vannar sees things. The maps that Modi provided for the supplement, in fact, are just a snapshot of what the Republic and its intelligence sources believe to be the case in the sector at this time. The true map somewhat different, and it certainly changes after a few of the stories. But the reader can see, by looking at all the stories together, just how many things coming up were already envisioned at this early date.
Beyond the cartographic information, I wanted to use this story – and it is a story in a sense – to illustrate Vannar Treece's understanding of the sector, and his feelings about the people who live there. Vannar, it can be seen here, does not feel that the people enslaved in the sector are to blame for their condition. This is an important element which we pick up on in the second comics storyline, Deluge. When Vannar speaks of there being others who disagree on this score, he may well be speaking of a figure mentioned in that story: Baron Lemayne.
- Vannar Treece is writing to Chancellor Gennara, the Jedi who is in charge of the Republic at this time. Gennara was first mentioned in Influx, the previous short story that I had written for starwars.com.
- The story of the team's insertion in the Sith space and the arrival on Oranessan is told in the Influx short story.
- This story sought to address something which had become a problem earlier in the process: this sector had alternately been referred to previously as both the Grumani Sector and the Spumani Sector. Daniel and Jason came up with an explanation for the various spellings and tagged it to the religious movement that centered on Sarrassia. I would later show the movement (and Sarrassia) in the Escape storyline.
- The mention of the Candorian Plague is a call back to Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology, and is important as something setting the stage for readers who are not familiar with this timeframe.
- The reader, as of the publication of this supplement, does not know the relationship between the various Sith Lords vying for power in this sector. That relationship becomes plain as a result of the Star Wars: Knight Errant novel. But this story nonetheless filled in a number of blanks when it comes to the Chagras Hegemony, and its collapse. When speaking of successor states such as the Daimanate and the Odionate which followed the collapse of the Hegemony, I had in mind the various successor states that followed the collapse of Alexander's empire, the Soviet Union, and any number of other large powers that eventually cracked up.
- The Bactranate and its fall is depicted in the novel. We see Lord Daiman on the ground there in Deluge, and Kerra herself visits one of the worlds in Escape.
- Aqualaris, the planet that Kerra's family was on when Odion invaded, is depicted in detail in the Star Wars Knight Errant – Deluge storyline.
- Byllura is the center of the Dyarchy, which is seen in the novel. Note that Treece does not know anything about its current status, and we see why in the novel.
- Chelloa, of course, is the setting for Star Wars Knight Errant – Aflame. One of the maps that appeared with this article was a map of my own making, showing the locations of the various cities on the surface of the planet. That map was much improved upon by the artist!
- Darkknell had first been mentioned in some of the earlier Star Wars short fiction, and I used it as the setting for the opening of the novel. The long work day, a result of its rotational period, is described as a real pain in the neck for the people living on the planet.
- Gazzari is the site of a major battle in the novel.
- Phaegon, interestingly, is the place where the Lost Tribe of the Sith had gone to fetch the lightsaber crystals they later had on Kesh.
- Syned, as we see in the novel, is the capital for Arkadia. Arkadia is not known to Vannar, obviously, as of this writing.
- Tergamenion is depicted on the opening page of Escape.
- Verdanth is described as the homeworld of the spy Narsk in the novel.
- This article was reprinted (without maps) on the Star Wars Suvudu website on October 2, 2012 to coincide with the release of the Essential Reader's Companion. The version with maps is here.