- "Jaina Solo is on a mission to stop a scientist from offering villains that most terrible weapon: eternal life."
- ―Star Wars Insider 75's synopsis of "Or Die Trying"
"Or Die Trying" is a short story by Sean Williams and Shane Dix that features the Jedi Knight Jaina Solo infiltrating the headquarters of Onadax Droid Technologies on the planet Onadax. The company has manufactured a Human replica droid (HRD) that betrayed the citizens of Bakura, and Solo hopes to bring them to justice for the crimes committed by their clients. She confronts an HRD named Stanton Rendar and engages him in a discussion regarding the moral implications of immortality and near-invincibility, but ultimately remains firm in her convictions and prepares to apprehend him. Rendar looses a group of battle droids on Solo and sets the compound to self-destruct, but she defeats the droids and escapes while Rendar flees the planet.
"Or Die Trying" included a full-page illustration by Leanne Buckley in its publication in the seventy-fifth issue of Star Wars Insider, which was released in May 2004. In 2003, Williams and Dix had written the Force Heretic trilogy, three volumes of The New Jedi Order book series; "Or Die Trying" is set between the trilogy's second and third installments. The six-page story builds on the continuity of Force Heretic and additionally ties up several loose ends of the Star Wars Expanded Universe, such as the fates of Dash Rendar and Guri from 1996's Shadows of the Empire multimedia project. "Or Die Trying" was also published in the fifty-ninth issue of Star Wars: The Official Magazine, and later went on to be archived online as part of StarWars.com's Hyperspace fan club. Its characters and events have since been mentioned in several reference guides.
- "Life is all we have, girl. Do you think I'm about to let you take it away from me? I plan to live forever or—"
"Or die trying. Yes, very droll."
- ―Stanton Rendar and Jaina Solo
In the year 28 ABY, Jaina Solo—a Jedi Knight of the New Jedi Order—is on the planet Onadax on a mission to infiltrate the headquarters of a company called ODT. She is part of a group of representatives from the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances that has come to Onadax from Bakura after helping foil an invasion of that world by the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium—the invasion was made possible by a Human replica droid (HRD) that was in league with the Ssi-ruuk, and Solo hopes to confront the creators of the droid. After using the Force to distract the compound's security guards, she enters the main building with a stolen security pass and follows the Force presence of an HRD to a room. The HRD calmly greets her, and Solo asserts that he is responsible for endangering the people of Bakura. The HRD counters that his company can not be held accountable for what their clients do after receiving HRD bodies and deflects Solo's claims that the HRD procedure allows criminals to indefinitely put the galaxy at risk.
The HRD introduces himself as Stanton Rendar, a formerly dead Human who was resurrected into an HRD body, and tells Solo the history and mission objectives of ODT, also known as Onadax Droid Technologies. Believing that every sapient being has the right to life, they create HRDs for wealthy clients with wishes of immortality and use the Ssi-ruuk's entechment process to transfer their souls into the droid bodies. Nonetheless, they operate in secrecy, believing that the galaxy would not understand. Rendar offers Solo an HRD of her own, but she envisions an army of invincible dark side–using HRDs and steadfastly refuses. She prepares to apprehend him, but Rendar has anticipated her refusal and sends a group of battle droids after her as he flees the planet in a prepared shuttle. Solo swiftly destroys them with her lightsaber and is forced to also flee from the exploding building that Rendar has programmed to self-destruct.
Jaina Solo, having arrived on Onadax and caught wind of a company called ODT, is searching for the manufacturers of the Human Replica Droid purchased by Molierre Cundertol, the former Prime Minister of Bakura. Solo infiltrates ODT's compound and encounters an HRD named Stanton Rendar who admits to having served a client on Bakura, and who offers her immortality via having her soul enteched into an HRD. Solo considers the implications of HRDs roaming the galaxy unchecked and refuses the offer, prompting Rendar to loose a group of battle droids on her. He flees the planet while she fights them off; Solo quickly disposes of them before rushing away from the self-destructing compound. Although she is furious that Rendar escaped, she takes comfort in a belief that the two of them may one day meet again.
Stanton Rendar is an HRD working within a small team of researchers at Onadax Droid Technologies, a company which recently provided a droid body for a client on Bakura. He believes that every sapient being has the right to life, and is prepared to provide wealthy clients with immortality by using the Ssi-ruuk entechment process to transfer their souls into HRDs. Solo asserts that he is responsible for the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium's invasion of Bakura, and, doubtful of his motives, prepares to apprehend him. Rendar orders a group of battle droids to attack her and uses the distraction to flee the planet. He programs the compound to self-destruct in five minutes' time, confident that another one will be built elsewhere.
- Potts: "Will there be any E-Book tie-ins to the Force Heretic trilogy? A prologue? Short story between books? Epilogue?"
- Williams: "At this point, none that I'm aware of."
- Dix: "Interestingly, there was one small section taken from book 3 that we thought would make a nice little e-story, but nothing has been talked about it."
- ―Michael Potts of TheForce.Net interviewing Sean Williams and Shane Dix in 2003[src]
In 2003, authors Sean Williams and Shane Dix wrote the Force Heretic Trilogy, three novels that respectively served as the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth volumes in The New Jedi Order book series. Refugee, the trilogy's middle installment, features a plot that takes place on Bakura, in which Galactic Alliance representatives Han Solo, Leia Organa Solo, Jaina Solo, and several others discover that the planet's Prime Minister, Molierre Cundertol, has been promised immortality and undergone the Ssi-Ruuvi entechment process in order to have his soul transferred into a Human replica droid. After helping foil his plans, the Solo family are told by an ally, the Ryn Goure Conor, to proceed to Onadax and meet with another member of the information-gathering Ryn Network. The Force Heretic Trilogy's concluding novel, Reunion, opens with the Solos already on Onadax. In a 2003 interview with TheForce.Net, Williams and Dix indicated that they were interested in writing a short story based on a small section of Reunion, but that there had been no official discussion on the subject.
The New Jedi Order wrapped up in November of 2003 with James Luceno's novel The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force. Nevertheless, Williams and Dix wrote "Or Die Trying," a short story that took place in the New Jedi Order era between Refugee and Reunion but was not officially part of The New Jedi Order series. The story was published in the seventy-fifth issue of the Lucasfilm Ltd. magazine Star Wars Insider, which was released in May 2004. Including a full-page illustration by Leanne Buckley, "Or Die Trying" is a six-page tale that introduces an additional reason for the Solos to have traveled to Onadax: they are following a trail of credits that Cundertol laundered off of Bakura in order to have his Human replica droid built. Onadax Droid Technologies, the company that built the droid, is known only as "ODT" during the opening pages of the story, an acronym that also applies to "Or Die Trying"'s title. The story was also included in Star Wars: The Official Magazine 59, and it was later published online for members of StarWars.com's Hyperspace fan club.
- "I'm very interested in tying up loose ends, both because we're coming in toward the climax of the NJO series, and because there are so many places in the Expanded Universe that have been visited once or alluded to but never seen again. Those places fascinate me."
- ―Sean Williams, on writing within the Star Wars Universe
While they were writing the Force Heretic Trilogy, Sean Williams and Shane Dix were eager to reintroduce characters and elements from past stories of the Star Wars Expanded Universe that had not appeared in some time and whose fates were unresolved. Williams thus spent time researching dangling story arcs that he felt were ripe for being further explored. "Or Die Trying" addresses the fates of Guri and Dash Rendar, major characters from the 1996 Shadows of the Empire multimedia project. The 1998 comic series Shadows of the Empire: Evolution had previously established a partnership between Dash and Guri, and "Or Die Trying" reveals the fruits of their labors by resurrecting Stanton Rendar in the form of an HRD. Dash had been believed dead by Jaina Solo's parents and uncle after the events of Shadows of the Empire, and "Or Die Trying" marks the first time that a member of their family learns of his survival and subsequent work done in HRD development.
Stanton Rendar had himself been mentioned in several previous Star Wars works, such as the Shadows of the Empire novelization and the Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook. "Or Die Trying" was the first appearance of his Human replica droid, who went on to be mentioned in such works as 2006's The New Essential Guide to Droids, 2008's The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, and 2012's The Essential Reader's Companion, the latter of which briefly summarizes all of "Or Die Trying". The story also references Project Decoy, an HRD-related project undertaken by the New Republic in the 1993 young reader novels Mission from Mount Yoda and Queen of the Empire.
In Force Heretic II: Refugee, the Solos are told to go to Onadax by Goure Conor in order to meet another member of the Ryn Network. However, "Or Die Trying" states that Jaina Solo has picked Onadax as her target by telepathically learning of the world from an associate of Rufarr, Molierre Cundertol's former pilot.
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Notes and references
- "Or Die Trying"—Star Wars Insider 75
- Star Wars Insider 75
- Star Wars: The Official Magazine 59
- "Or Die Trying" dates itself between the novels The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee and The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic III: Reunion, which take place in 28 ABY according to page 222 of The New Essential Chronology.
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic III: Reunion
- The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force
- The Essential Reader's Companion ("Or Die Trying")
- Shadows of the Empire novel
- Shadows of the Empire video game
- Shadows of the Empire: Evolution 5
- Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook
- The New Essential Guide to Droids
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 92 ("Rendar, Stanton")
- Mission from Mount Yoda
- Queen of the Empire