"Star Wars: Knight Errant: Influx" is a short story written by John Jackson Miller. It was originally published on StarWars.com on October 19, 2010. On October 1, 2012, it was republished on Del Rey's Suvudu website. The story details Phase One of Operation Influx: the hijacking of a Daimanate Heavy-Lift Starcrosser in Oranessan by Kerra Holt, Vannar Treece and their Jedi team.
Influx takes place in the Grumani sector in 1,032 B.B.Y., immediately before the events of Star Wars: Knight Errant #1, now available from Dark Horse Comics. It serves to introduce characters and themes for comics readers and readers of the forthcoming novel, due out in January from Del Rey Books.
This short story occurs in the backdrop of Operation Influx, which was a covert Jedi "knight errant" operation led by the Jedi Master Vannar Treece during the Republic Dark Age in 1032 BBY. During that period, the Galactic Republic had been reduced to a rump state centered on the Core Worlds and the Colonies, leaving much of the galaxy under control of various Sith warlords. The Grumani sector was controlled by several rival warlords including the two Sith brothers Daiman and Odion, who were bitter rivals.
In 1032 BBY, the Jedi Order learnt that the Sith Lord Daiman was mining baradium—a volatile compound used in the manufacture of munitions including thermal detonators—on the agrarian world of Chelloa. The baradium was being extracted on Chelloa before being shipped offworld for processing at munitions factories situated near the front line. Since the Jedi feared that Daiman's access to baradium would change the balance of power within the Grumani sector, Treece assembled a strike team to sabotage the shipment of baradium offworld. This mission became code-named "Operation Influx" and involved a three-stage process of infiltration, sabotage, and exfiltration back into Republic space.
"Knight Errant: Influx" focuses on the Raid on Oranessan, the first stage of Operation Influx. The short story is told from the point of view of the series's main protagonist, Kerra Holt, a novice Jedi Knight who had been rescued from her Sith-occupied homeworld of Aquilaris Minor years earlier by Master Vannar, who became her foster father and guardian. In the exposition, the story's two main protagonists, Vannar Treece and Kerra Holt, along with two other Jedi (one of whom is Cerean Jedi Knight Dorvin Eltrom) have just landed on the polluted, rain-drenched planet Oranessan, located at a key hyperlane within the Daimanate.
Earlier, the Jedi team had intercepted and shot down a small personnel shuttle while approaching Oranessan. The shuttle had been carrying several flight crew to the planet's spaceport, where a fleet of Daimanate Heavy-Lift Starcrosser transports was waiting to depart for a delivery run to Chelloa. These flight crew would be used to crew the vast transports. The shuttle crashed on top of a hillcrest in the mud flats, and the Jedi advance team retrieved the fallen crew's cloaks and identification badges.
The two Jedi then encountered a Daimanate party consisting of a female ground crew chief and four armed sentries, who attempted to execute them for being late to a flight-preparation meeting that occurred twenty minutes earlier. However, the Jedi quickly killed the Daimanite sentries with their lightsabers. After stealing the dead Daimanates' equipment, the four Jedi commandeer an empty Starcrosser transport. Vannar then contacted the rest of the team via comlink to inform them that the objective vessel had been secured, that Operation Influx had been confirmed, and that they could now rejoin the advance team at the transport.
Behind enemy lines
During a brief conversation with her master Vannar, Kerra reflected on how she had switched from using Force Persuasion to lightsaber combat during her encounter with the ground crew chief. Kerra admitted that she did not like posing as a Sith, and Vannar responded that she could not get very far in enemy territory without employing subterfuge. In the first section, the reader also gets a brief insight into the protagonist's background, particularly her Jedi training and the political dynamics of the Sith-controlled Grumani sector.
The Jedi have taken over the Starcrosser transport and are preparing to depart for Chelloa. The reader is also given a brief history of the events leading to the short story, including the Republic Dark Age and the "knight errant" missions carried out by Vannar Treece and his Jedi volunteers. While most of the Jedi Order had retreated to the safety of the Core Worlds to stave off a Sith invasion, Vannar staged hit-and-run raids with secret consent from the Jedi leadership of the Republic. By 1032 BBY, Vannar's missions were the only Jedi activity in the entire Grumani sector.
For Operation Influx, Vannar had taken great pains to recruit several senior Jedi whom he was connected with or who had achieved distinction in combat. These figures included the Trandoshan Jedi Knight Mrssk, who had served in earlier Treece operations, and the Quarren Jedi Master Berluk. Treece had exploited the threat of Daiman's baradium operations as a means of calling in every favor that was owed by other Jedi comrades. This marked Kerra's first mission as a Jedi Knight.
Kerra has another brief conversation with the Cerean Dorvin. He asked the young Human woman whether her decision to wield a green lightsaber reflected her aspiration to become a Jedi Consular like Supreme Chancellor Genarra. Kerra explained that she had only grabbed a lightsaber crystal from the top of a pile which turned out to be green in color. Dorvin was disappointed with Kerra's decision not to become a Jedi Consular. However, Kerra did not believe in adhering to tradition since she was more interested in learning enough Jedi skills as quickly as possible to fight the Sith in combat and avenge the conquest of her homeworld.
In the middle of the story, the mission encountered a new obstacle in the form of the transport's navicomputer lacking an activation cylinder, a necessity in interstellar travel. While it was still able to take off, the Starcrosser transport was unable to make a hyperspace jump, and Operation Influx would have to be aborted. Meanwhile, the other transports were already departing for Chelloa. Kerra quickly recalled that she had forgotten to retrieve a dispatch case from the wreckage of the downed personnel shuttle they had shot down earlier. The case had been trapped under one of the shuttle's consoles, and she had mistaken it for a personal item.
While it was standard procedure in the Republic for most flight crews to keep their activation cylinders with the ships, the Trandoshan Jedi Mrssk explained to his companions that the Starcrosser lacked one since Daiman had a policy requiring his flight crew to keep them on their persons in order to minimize the risk of desertion by his ground troops. While Kerra expressed frustration at her failure to retrieve the dispatch case, Treece was sympathetic towards the young Jedi woman since it was impossible for her to do everything. The Jedi were unable to travel to Chelloa on their own ship since the planet was tightly guarded by Daiman's forces. Time was running out since they had only one hour to infiltrate Chelloa and sabotage the baradium shipping before departing for neutral space.
Vannar considered activating the fallback plan, which involved flying the transport back to their hidden Jedi vessel and using it to shoot down the Daimanite transports before returning to the Republic. However, this plan had a serious drawback since Daiman could respond by rerouting other vessels to Chelloa. Kerra opposed this idea and suggested hijacking an ore transport, but Vannar ruled it out since the ore transports were heavily armed. Finally, Kerra suggested returning to the wrecked shuttle and retrieving the dispatch case.
However, Vannar was uneasy about this plan since he did not want to risk the lives of the Jedi Knights involved. Despite the odds, Kerra was still determined to carry out Operation Influx due to the considerable amount of energy, time, and resources they had already committed to the mission. At that point, they were interrupted by an announcement from the Sith control tower on Oranessan ordering them to hasten their departure or they would be punished.
Vannar then ordered the team to opt for their fallback plan. He ruled out walking back several kilometers back to their hidden Jedi ship due to the wet conditions outside. Vannar also ordered Dorvin to secure all the vessel's hatchways. However, Kerra disagreed with her master's orders and used her stolen remote control to open the transport's main cargo hatchway as it was lifting off. Donning the fallen ground crew chief's overalls, she then headed to the spaceport's hangar bay, which stored several replacement navicomputers and activation cylinders. Despite flying at low altitude and the transport's external sensors, Oranessan's torrid weather made it impossible for the Jedi crew aboard the transport to detect Kerra. After several minutes, Kerra returned to the departing Starcrosser transport and used her lightsaber as a beacon.
A soaked and exhausted Kerra climbed back onto the transport's cargo deck, where she presented the activation cylinder to her pleased master. At the conclusion, Kerra then explained how she had obtained the activation cylinder by infiltrating the hangar while disguised as a worker. Due to her stolen clothes and because she had entered during a busy period of the day, she was able to evade detection. When Treece commented that he thought that Kerra hated posing as Sith, the Jedi woman replied that she hated letting them win even more. Having obtained the activation cylinder, the Starcrosser transport was now able to make a hyperspace jump. Having successfully accomplished the first phase of Operation Influx, the relieved Treece and Kerra shared jokes prior to their journey to Chelloa.
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