- "Who's your friend?"
"General Airen Cracken. Head of Security and Intelligence for the Rebellion."
- ―Han Solo and Leia Organa
Chief of Alliance Intelligence
- "This is the pilot causing us so much distress? I'm underwhelmed to say the least."
- ―Airen Cracken upon meeting Han Solo
Even before the Alliance to Restore the Republic was established, the male human Airen Cracken was an accomplished freedom fighter. It was he who led the planetary militia that freed his homeworld from the oppression of the Galactic Empire, which led him to be fast-tracked to a general's commission within the Alliance Military.
By the time of the Battle of Scarif, Cracken served as the Chief of Rebel Intelligence. Cracken was personally involved in setting up spy networks throughout the Outer Rim, so Rebel Intelligence was represented on the rebel council by one of his trusted field operatives, General Davits Draven. Despite his absence, he still compiled a dossier regarding Operation Fracture at Mon Mothma's request.
Sometime after the Battle of Yavin, while serving in his capacity of Head of Security and Intelligence and confronted with the responsibility of rescuing three rebel spies in danger of capture by the Empire, Cracken showed reluctance in recruiting smuggler Han Solo for the mission. However, he was convinced by Princess Leia Organa, citing the fact that they were running out of options and out of time.
A Rebel superweapon
- "We stole the plans—used 'em to destroy the damn thing. Why the hell wouldn't we build our own?"
- ―Cracken, to Aphra
Despite their victory against the Empire at Yavin, the Rebels were forced to abandon their headquarters on Yavin 4. Protecting Senator Mon Mothma, the Alliance's Chief-of-State, became a priority for Intelligence. At some point, Chief Cracken came to the conclusion that killing Emperor Palpatine could end the war in one swift blow. However, previous assassination attempts were known to have failed due to the Emperor's Force-fueled ability to sense intentions. Therefore, Cracken thought it necessary to create a superweapon that could be fired from half the galaxy away, making it impossible to detect. When analysis of Imperial propaganda revealed that the rogue archaeologist Chelli Aphra possessed the ancient lightsaber/sniper rifle known as "the Farkiller," Cracken sent Extraction Team Misericorde to retrieve both Aphra and the artifact, and bring them to the Trading Post Sh'ung-tesk. There, the Chief of Intelligence attempted to rally the archaeologist to the Alliance's cause. He explained to her how the Rebels could create a high energy superweapon by reverse-engineering the Farkiller, giving them a chance to destroy the Imperial Palace at a great distance.
A battle to end all battles
In 4 ABY, the Alliance learned from Bothan operatives that the Empire had begun construction on a second Death Star in orbit of Endor. Being Chief of Intelligence, Cracken was among the first to know, along with Chancellor Mothma and Admiral Gial Ackbar. He was present at the emergency summit on Zastiga, when the Chancellor revealed the existence of the new superweapon to the rest of the Alliance's top brass. Although General Crix Madine said that they would simply destroy that new Death Star like the first one, Cracken pointed out that the Empire was likely to have eliminated the particular flaw that had been exploited at Yavin.
After a sleepless night, the Rebel leaders convened again. It was determined that, since the second Death Star was unfinished, its main reactor was vulnerable. Therefore, provided that the station's deflector shield was knocked out beforehand, it would be possible to destroy it. Princess Leia Organa then came up with a ruse to divert the Empire's attention to the Corva sector, allowing the Alliance Fleet to gather over Sullust in order to launch an assault on the Death Star. Although Chancellor Mothma had reservations, Cracken was quick to acknowledge the merits of that plan, and his approval tipped the scale in Organa's favor. Towards the end of the reunion, the Chief of Intelligence asked Organa who she had in mind for her "Operation Yellow Moon," and he assigned Kidi Aleri as the team's communications specialist. Since it was vital that the Empire fell for the trick, Cracken had his agents seed various communications networks with rumors about their mission.
Although there were casualties, Operation Yellow Moon was ultimately a success, allowing the Battle of Endor to take place. As was decided on Zastiga, the Rebels decided to attack on two fronts: a strike team would disable the battle station's shield generator stationed on Endor, while a squadron of fighters would target the Death Star's exposed reactor. Chief Cracken participated in the fighter assault, serving aboard the Millennium Falcon with Lieutenant Blount. The two were initially in the ship's cockpit with its pilot, General Lando Calrissian, co-pilot Nien Nunb, and a navigator, but they soon manned the ship's quad turrets and served as gunners. The Rebels managed to destroy the second Death Star, and Emperor Palpatine was finally killed. The Alliance then reorganized itself into the New Republic, and Cracken took command of the New Republic Intelligence.
Chief of New Republic Intelligence
A few weeks into the New Republic's existence, Agent Caern Adan met with Cracken to discuss the mission to destroy the lethal force of TIE fighters known as Shadow Wing. The meeting was short, as Cracken made it clear that Shadow Wing was a secondary concern for the provisional government.
Behind the scenes
In Star Wars Legends continuity, the character of General Airen Cracken was created for the 1991 sourcebook Cracken's Rebel Field Guide, and an unnamed Rebel aboard the Millennium Falcon in Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi, played by Michael Stevens, was later consolidated with that character. Current Star Wars continuity has maintained the identity of General Cracken for that Rebel from Jedi.
The 2018 reference book Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition states that Cracken was a spy and colonel who flew missions for General Crix Madine's Rebel Commandos and was later promoted to general and Chief of Rebel Intelligence. This, however, contradicts various sources including Star Wars: The Rebel Files that had established Cracken was already Chief and a general since the early days of the Alliance.
- Star Wars in Pictures: The Original Trilogy
- Star Wars Treasury: The Original Trilogy
- Han Solo 1 (First identified as Airen)
- Han Solo 3
- Doctor Aphra (2016) 33
- Doctor Aphra (2016) 34
- Doctor Aphra (2016) 36
- Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure (First identified as Cracken)
- Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure audiobook
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Original Trilogy – A Graphic Novel
- Alphabet Squadron (Mentioned only)
- Alphabet Squadron audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Victory's Price (Appears in hologram)
- Victory's Price audiobook (Appears in hologram)
Notes and references
- "The Rebel Alliance" – Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure
- Forged in Battle
- Alphabet Squadron
- Victory's Price
- Han Solo 1
- Star Wars: Force Collection (Card: General Cracken (★★★★))
- Star Wars: Rogue One: Rebel Dossier
- Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide
- Doctor Aphra (2016) 33
- Princess Leia 1
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas
- Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know
- Cracken's Rebel Field Guide
- "Making Star Wars: Return of the Jedi Unseen!" – Star Wars Insider 141
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Death Star II Limited (Card: Colonel Cracken) (backup link)
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition
- Star Wars: The Rebel Files