A Long Time Ago: X-Wing: The Krytos Trap by Michael Stackpole

Cover of "The Krytos Trap (Star Wars: X-W...

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When last I left you, I was halfway through an interview with several of the best pilots the Galactic Alliance- and the New Republic and Rebel Alliance before it- have seen. Their next trials- the ones I asked them about in today’s part of the interview- had nothing to do with piloting a snubfighter against impossible odds, however.

“In retrospect, yeah, Lusankya‘s defenses were a little underwhelming,” Corran Horn said on the infamous prison and Super-class Star Destroyer. “They relied too much on the psychological aspects of keeping us captive, and didn’t have much in the way of standard alarms.”

“If they had any more guards and alarms,” General Wedge Antilles commented, “you wouldn’t have been able to escape.”

“That’s precisely my point,” Commander Horn replied. “I was naked and without help, yet somehow I managed to get all the way through the prison and into the palace above without my absence even being detected. Even with my untrained mind tricks, it was too easy.”

“I guess that’s the way in a system where they want to keep most of the inmates’ existence a state secret,” General Tycho Celchu noted. “They don’t want there to be any records of you, so unless Ice Heart herself were to pay you a visit and you weren’t there, nobody else would notice you were missing.”

“Ice Heart was slipping toward the end,” Horn commented, hitting the nail on the head. “Thyferra was the proof, but you can see it even in Lusankya. She was so certain that everyone in the Empire was terrified of her that she relied on them to get everything done. She had Palpatine’s style of leadership, no doubt about that, but she didn’t have his sense of contingency.”

“Panic isn’t a color that an Empress wears well,” Bothan Asyr Sei’lar commented, referring to Director Isard’s escape from Coruscant, an event that killed millions of people as though they were collateral damage..

“And Intelligence failures by a government run by the Director of Intelligence aren’t any better of a match,” Horn said with a grin.

We also discussed Tycho Celchu’s experience during his trial for the murder of Corran Horn- a trial he was eventually acquitted from when Horn was found among the living.

“I don’t blame them,” Celchu commented, referring to the lingering suspicion many officers held at the time that he was a sleeper agent for Director Isard, and their treatment that would have caused this reporter, in his place, to have hurt a great many people. “There were times when I was enraged with [General Horton] Salm, or with the tribunal residing over my case, but ultimately, I couldn’t fault them for their behavior.” During the year following his transfer from Lusankya and eventual escape from Imperial custody, then-Captain Tycho Celchu was held just above the level of a Prisoner of War. Up until that point, nobody had ever been retrieved from Lusankya without committing extreme acts of terrorism that they had been secretly programmed to commit while within Ysanne Isard notorious secret prison. Celchu, in fact, was the first former inmate to even remember Lusankya prior to committing some act of terrorism.

“Nothing I underwent at the hands of the New Republic, in the name of security, was anywhere near as bad as what I suffered under the Empire- and that’s not counting [the destruction by the Death Star of] Alderaan,” Celchu further commented, the latter remark relating to the world of his birth- an act of the Empire’s, not the New Republic’s.

“And when you were acquitted?” I asked of the retired pilot.

“It re-affirmed all of my beliefs. The discoveries Corran made during his escape just made my coming freedom that much sweeter.”

Since the reason I was able to score this interview was to discuss Michael Stackpole’s biography describing these events, we spoke briefly on his writing.

“The reason [Jedi Master] Luke [Skywalker]’s dialogue was so wooden,” General Antilles said when asked, “is because [Skywalker] is the only person Stackpole had never spoken to.” He elaborated, “Stackpole worked for Military Intelligence, so he had spoken at various times with Borsk Fey’lya, Jan Dodonna, and others, and of course he interviewed every living Rogue, but Luke was always too busy to sit down and talk after Mindor.” On a related note, Commander Horn mentioned that everybody in the squadron was emotionally drained during and immediately following the events depicted in The Krytos Trap, and that he therefore had to fabricate the emotions portrayed in the book, leading to the noticeable decline in the empathic nature of the descriptions.

“It’s noticeable reading this book,” I remarked, “that every chapter is written so that a new reader can pick it up as though starting the book. Was your story that boring?” I asked, “or was nobody sure which chapter would end up in which book?”

With a wry look, Ooryl Qyrgg replied, “I think the next book was more interesting.”

“It might have been related to the fact that many civilians aren’t the type to sit down and read a court drama and political thriller,” Tycho Celchu added drily. You may notice, Rogue Squadron comes across as the best starfighter combat story that Michael Stackpole can tell, Wedge’s Gamble as the best possible commando novel, and The Krytos Trap as the best possible political thriller he can tell. Not to mention his role in writing I, Jedi into the best Jedi book he could write. “Every book has a different focus.” That made me wonder what he’d have to say about Bacta War– but that’s for next edition. And don’t worry, my sequel bait isn’t quite as obvious as Krytos Trap‘s.

“Otherwise,” Wedge Antilles commented, “these were written as reports, and nobody knew quite what was going to be done at any given time. Ice Heart could have been killed a week after liftoff, and Bacta War would have needed a different opening chapter. As it is, I’m not so sure the Bacta War was long enough for its own book as it was.

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