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Literature / The Truce at Bakura

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Yesterday, the second Death Star was destroyed, and Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader slain... But today is business as usual, and the Rebels have business helping the Empire. A far-flung Imperial system, Bakura, is under attack by previously-unknown aliens called the Ssi-ruuk. With the Empire in disarray following the losses at Endor, only the Rebellion can render aid in a timely manner. Whilst dealing with the aliens, themselves no picnic, Leia struggles to form diplomatic ties with the Imperials, with (or despite) Han's help, while Luke meets a fellow Force-sensitive and starts falling for a girl who considers Force-users abominations.

Written by Kathy Tyers and published in January 1994, it holds the distinction of being the tenth Legends novel published by Bantam, being published months after The Thrawn Trilogy and The Glove of Darth Vader. It's also set immediately after Return of the Jedi, beginning literally the day after the movie's events, and for that reason is often cited (along with The Thrawn Trilogy) as being one of the best starting points for readers who want to get into the Star Wars Legends universe.


Tropes used in this work include:

  • And I Must Scream: Victims of entechment are still aware of themselves.
  • Author Appeal: Kathy Tyers was raised in a fundamentalist background, so she knows about religious conflicts, such as the one between Luke and Gaeriel.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Gaeri's religion deals with this primarily. They believe that Force-users, Jedi and Sith alike, are evil because they aggregate too much power: for them to have done so, other people lost power. (With Palpatine and Vader as examples, the Strawman Has a Point.)
  • Blatant Lies: People being enteched don't feel pain. They only think they feel pain, the screaming body is already dead, the life energy transferred to the catchment arc instantly. Dev only thinks he feels their pain in the Force. Entechment is a wonderful thing, freeing you from a fragile human body and putting you into an awesome battle droid (or just the electricity to run shipboard circuits), and you'll never need to feel fear, or pain, or lonliness, or even think for yourself ever again. It's a great joy the Ssi-Ruuk bring, isn't it?
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  • Chestburster: Downplayed. The Olabrian Trichoid parasites Governor Nereus infects Luke Skywalker with before letting the Ssi-Ruuk abduct him. The eggs hatch in the stomach, the larvae migrate to the lungs, where they grow and develop before chewing their way over to the aorta to finish maturing in a pool of slowly-clotting blood.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: None of the characters in the book are surprised when the Imperials start attacking the Rebels literally the moment that the Ssi-ruuk fleet starts to retreat.
  • Crapsack Only by Comparison: Bakura is considered a primitive, rural backwater by many of the characters in-universe (something brought out even more strongly in the RPG supplement), and the educated young upper-class Bakurans can't wait to get away from there to the Core Worlds. For all that, it's still a peaceful (until recently) planet with technology and living standards far more advanced than anything real life has produced.
  • Distress Call: The plot is kicked off when the Rebel fleet, licking its wounds after the Battle of Endor, intercepts a message drone from Bakura meant for the Death Star they just blew up. It contains a message from the planet's Imperial governor begging for aid against the Ssi-ruuk invasion.
  • Distressed Dude: ...Wedge has to be saved by Luke a lot, doesn't he?
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Gaeriel Captison ditches her shoes whenever she can, even when sitting behind her desk in the Bakuran Senate. At one point, she wonders when she last walked barefoot in Satuary Park. Luke actually notes that her frequent barefootedness indicates a free and lighthearted personality... except when he's around.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Dev Sibwarra, Luke's almost-first-padawan, is mortally wounded while helping Luke escape the Shriwirr.
  • Easily Forgiven: Downplayed. While Luke forgave Vader/Anakin somewhat easily in the preceding film, Leia (who was personally tortured by him and had her family and whole culture killed by him, etc.) is realistically rather more reluctant to do so. However, she still makes her peace with his ghost in the end, only days or weeks after Luke first revealed his secret to her.
  • Enemy Mine: The whole point of the truce at Bakura is an Imperial world being threatened by alien invaders and the Rebels helping the Empire beat them. It's later revealed that Emperor Palpatine invited the Ssi-ruuk to attack Bakura before his death, hoping to trade the Bakurans' lives for Ssi-ruuvi entechment technology to use against his enemies. Palpatine was kind of an asshole.
  • Enlightened Self-Interest: The Rebels' motive for intervening in the conflict. Besides the propaganda value of getting an Imperial world to switch sides with the Emperor dead, Bakura is a small-scale producer of repulsorlift engine components, and gaining the system's allegiance would be a major asset for the Rebellion.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: The Ssi-ruuk are an Expy of raptors.
  • Fantastic Drug: Bakura's namana fruit, its main export after repulsorlift coils. It can be rendered into several different forms, including nectar (diluted in water to create a kind of liquer) and candy. It directly stimulates the pleasure centers of the brain, creating a euphoric sensation. Bakura's governor strictly controls his "namana habit," only having nectar in the evenings and limiting himself to two candy breaks per day.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Bakuran humans hate all nonhumans, mistaking Mon Calamari (who are squids) for Ssi-ruuk (who are reptiles!) infiltrators. It's unclear how much of this is native and how much is Imperial "High Human Culture". Bakura is also said to have indigenous Rubber-Forehead Aliens who are a subject race.
    • They also despise droids for historical reasons (malfunctioning droids on an early colony led to deaths) meaning the Ssi-ruuk entechment is particularly loathsome to them.
  • Fate Worse than Death: Entechment.
  • Faux Action Girl: Gaeriel, who has no combat training.
  • Hate Sink: Imperial Governor Nereus. Apart from being a backstabbing villain, pompous grandstanding nobody and generic Smug Snake in general, he is also an implied rapist, borderline Sissy Villain and monstrous sadist who infects people with exotic alien parasites for his own amusement. Oh, and he collects human teeth. Even among the Star Wars tie-in books, he stands out as one of the most ridiculously over-the-top, evil-Evil-EEEVIL Imperial characters ever written.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: From hating the Rebels to mistrusting them but working together to betraying them.
  • Love Interest: Gaeriel provides a short-lived one for Luke. He even briefly contemplates raising a family with her at one point.
  • Ludicrous Precision: After listening to recorded Ssi-ruuvi speech, Artoo is able to imitate it since it sounds like his own "Droidspeak" (which is somehow then used to translate the language). Threepio complains that Artoo didn't do it right: he missed a full four vibrations compared to the original.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Averted. The Ssi-Ruuk are decribed early in the novel as being Force-blind as a species, yet Bluescale has almost supernatural hypnosis powers.
  • Mind Rape: Bluescale keeps Dev Sibwarra properly "renewed" for his joyous service to the Ssi-Ruuk, which involves blocking out many of his memories and hypnotizing him to tell them things he'd rather they not know. Even Luke can feel the pull of Elder Ssi-Ruu's powerful personality.
  • Mismatched Eyes: Non-villainous example. Gaeriel has heterochromia iridum—one eye is green, the other grey. At one point, she pictures her and Luke having a pack of kids with mismatched green, grey, and blue eyes.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Luke is able to communicate with parasitic lung worms and get them to crawl out of him. Though this isn't really a new power, so much as using the movies' mind tricks and telepathy in a creative way.
    • Turns out Force-Sensitives can drain the life energy from others at a distance, very useful in concert with a specially-designed entechment rig. Who knew? (This never appears again with the Ssi-ruuk specifically, but the more general "Force drain" power continues to be used by Sith and Dark Jedi in both Legends and the Disney EU.)
  • Nobody Ever Complained Before: The Ssi-ruuvi show off their Life Energy tech with pride, because they think humans will want to become vampirized batteries.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: Played With. When non-action girl Gaeriel finally gets the upper hand on Governor Nereus by snatching an incapacitated stormtrooper's blaster rifle, she orders him to discard his undrawn blaster pistol. Nereus doubts Gaeri even knows where the safety is, but keeps his hands in plain view and well away from his blaster until Gaeri's backup arrives to disarm him.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Commander Thanas.
  • Operator Incompatibility: Dev's ion paddle beamer is custom built for him as he cannot use the standard Ssi-ruuvi ones.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Governor Nereus is not merely a backstabbing Smug Snake and generally awful person, but a (strongly implied) rapist and Straw Misogynist, too.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: most Ssi-ruuvi tech uses Life Energy as a Power Source, which needs to be extracted from sentient creatures via the "entechment" process. (Humans provide more energy.)
  • Raised By Ssi-ruuk: Dev Sibwarra.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • As this novel starts about 24 hours after Return of the Jedi ends, it's the first story to deal with Han and Leia's Relationship Upgrade. The road is bumpy.
    • Despite their victory at Endor, the Rebel Fleet is battered, beat up, ships and soldiers in desperate need of rest and repair. They can only send one small cruiser/carrier and a few gunships to help Bakura, against a fleet with five cruisers, numerous support ships, and a practically infinite number battle droid fighters (which are more powerfully shielded, smaller, and more maneuverable than anything the Empire or Rebellion has).
    • At the end of Return of the Jedi, Luke joins the Ewok/Rebel celebration looking no worse for the wear despite being Force-electrocuted within an inch of his life by the Emperor. The opening of this story reveals that Luke is indeed suffering some serious side effects.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The Ssi-ruuk.
  • Retcon: No doubt there will be one for why Anakin looks like Sebastian Shaw and not Hayden Christensen.
    • What's kind of funny is that the lines actually feel more natural coming from Christensen's mouth.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: The Ssi-ruuk are the first major example of this in the EU—but what's really scary is that horrible as they are, they aren't the scariest or most dogmatic...
  • Space Is Cold: When Wedge is hanging in space with his hand crushed, he's suffering from both blood loss and advancing hypothermia/frostbite. Of course, he was out there for some time in a pilot suit presumably not designed for extended EVA. Long enough for Luke to dress, jump in his X-Wing, and get into orbit, at least.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The name of the villainous aliens' species and assorted terminology. Given correctly, it should be something like the following. Singular: Ssi-ruu. Plural: Ssi-ruuk. Genitive: Ssi-ruuvi. Different authors get it wrong.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Subverted. The Rebels send a substantial military force to aid the Imperials, and only ask for their cooperation and friendship in return. Played straight later, as the Imps turn on them as soon as the enemy fleet is in retreat.
    • Not that the Rebel intervention was completely altruistic either. Bakura is a small-scale producer of repulsorlift engine components, and gaining the system's allegiance would be a major asset for the Rebellion, as well as being the first world they'd liberated from Imperial rule after the Emperor's defeat. Leia's job is to get Bakura to join the Rebellion, Luke's job is to defend them from the Ssi-Ruuk. Mon Mothma is also tentatively hopeful of making an alliance with the Ssi-Ruuk, imagining how effectively they could challenge the remaining Imperial fleet with that alien military force on their side. That plan is dropped when the full evil of the aliens becomes apparent, however.
  • Well Done Daughter Girl: Inverted. Leia is visited by her father's spirit. She's horrified. He wants her forgiveness. She won't give it. Though later, she decides that she still hates Darth Vader, but if Anakin Skywalker wants to look on her and be proud, she can live with it.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The Ssi-Ruuk are beaten back from Bakura, but this was only one of their fleets, they're still out there, still aware of the galaxy at large, and the deal Palpatine made with them to keep them out of the galaxy is still void (since Palpatine is, you know, dead). They are never heard from again until very late in the New Jedi Order series, although the X-Wing Series and Jedi Academy Trilogy state that the New Republic mounted at least one counterattack against them offscreen (another story indicates they were beaten to the punch by the Chiss, Thrawn's species, whom the Ssi-ruuk attacked later).
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Leia's attitude toward her father's ghost.
  • You're Not My Father: While grappling with the revelation that Darth Vader is her biological father, Leia states in internal monologue that she will own no man other than Bail Organa by the title of "Father." Period. Enter Data. End Program. Later, Anakin appears to Leia as a force ghost. She all but says this verbatim.


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