The Battle of Balmorra was fought in 10 ABY between the forces of Galactic Empire commanded by Executor Sedriss QL and the defenders of the factory world of Balmorra. A part of Imperial Operation Shadow Hand, the battle was fought in the wake of Galactic Emperor Palpatine's latest death in a clone body. Believing the Emperor to be gone forever, the governor of Balmorra, Hinch Beltane, started supplying the New Republic, the Empire's enemy in the Galactic Civil War, with his war droids.
Beltane's defiance drew attention from Sedriss, who stayed loyal to Palpatine and awaited his Master's return in another clone body. Sedriss arrived at Balmorra with a fleet of Star Destroyers and gave Beltane a chance to resolve the conflict without too much bloodshed; the Governor needed only to place his factories under Imperial control and surrender himself for execution. Having long ago dreamed of achieving independence for Balmorra, Beltane refused the terms. Even though Sedriss had the ability to annihilate Balmorra through orbital bombardment, he preferred to capture the planet's factories intact, even though that meant losing a large number of Imperial troops in a ground assault.
The Empire deployed a large force on the surface of Balmorra, commanded by Captain Maximilian Veers. Beltane and Sedriss engaged in a back-and-forth display of secret weaponry. Beltane's SD-10 battle droid outmatched Sedriss' outdated SD-9 model, but they were in turn demolished by the Imperial cybernetic Shadow Droid starfighters. The battle culminated with Beltane releasing his experimental X-1 Viper Automadon droids, which repelled the Shadow Droid attack. Willing to obtain such powerful machines at any cost, Sedriss ceased all hostilities and signed a peace treaty with Beltane, granting Balmorra freedom. Sedriss then procured a cargo of X-1 Vipers from the governor, although the latter betrayed the agreement by allowing the New Republic to intercept the shipment mid-flight to Byss and place commando teams inside.
- "I never trusted Governor Beltane. For years he has boasted that his war machines were the only reason for the Empire's success!"
During the Galactic Civil War, the factory world of Balmorra was the primary manufacturer of AT-ST for the Galactic Empire. After the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY and the death of Galactic Emperor Palpatine, the planet was liberated by the Alliance to Restore the Republic. In 10 ABY, the Emperor returned to power, having been reborn in a clone body, and within months of his return Balmorra was once again placed under Imperial control.
The planet's factories began producing advanced weaponry for the Empire, most notably the recently developed SD-9-series battle droid. During this time, Imperial engineer Umak Leth was assigned to work with Balmorra's development teams to further improve upon the SD-9's design, which resulted in the creation of the SD-10 battle droid model, which entered mass production and were due to be put to Imperial service. However, the governor of the planet, Hinch Beltane, saw an opportunity to use the new droids in order to restore Balmorra's freedom. Secretly from Leth, Beltane had his designers improve the SD-10 model with fast-reaction servomotors, point of impact shielding and even experimental self healing metals. In addition to that, Beltane also began development of a new X-1 Viper Automadon droid in secret from the Empire. A gargantuan machine based solely on Balmorran designs, it was outfitted with breakthrough molecular shielding, which absorbed the power of an attacker's blasts and used it to power the droid.
Beltane intended to sell his newest creation, as well as other Balmorran products, to the New Republic. He soon seized an opportunity to do so when Palpatine died another death near the New Republic Pinnacle Base, leaving his Dark Empire leaderless. Believing that death of Palpatine to be final, he took advantage of the Empire's weakened state and started openly supplying the New Republic with his war droids, although the X-1 model was not yet among them, as the droids were not combat tested yet. Although Beltane still officially stayed allied with the Empire and kept supplying them as well, Beltane's dealings with the New Republic drew attention from Military Executor Sedriss QL, who temporarily led the Empire's war efforts in Palpatine's absence. Sedriss chose Balmorra as the next target of Operation Shadow Hand, a series of strikes against rebellious worlds in proximity to the Galactic Core.
A fleet of five Star Destroyers arrived in orbit of Balmorra. Sedriss himself was present aboard his flagship the Star Destroyer Avenger, accompanied by his sergeants at arms Vill Goir and Krdys Mordi. Sedriss' forces included Shadow Droids, unique starfighters developed by Leth and produced in violation of standard Imperial supply network directly in the Deep Core. The Shadow Droids were built around brains of fallen Imperial fighter aces. The brains were cybernetically connected to the machines, and they had been empowered with the dark side of the Force by Palpatine himself.
Once assembled, the fleet was ready to open fire on the planet on Sedriss' command. However, the darksider had the fleet remain on standby and instead had his ground troops prepared for deployment. Sedriss then contacted Beltane via a viewscreen, demanding the Governor to turn his factories completely under Imperial control and surrender himself in order to be executed for his treasonous actions. If Beltane refused, Sedriss threatened to have his forces demolish Balmorra and murder the planet's entire population.
Beltane was unmoved by the darksider's threats, stating that the Empire should be satisfied that Balmorra was still providing it with battle droids. Mordi reminded Sedriss that the SD-10's were supposed to leave Balmorra's factories soon. Sedriss acknowledged the fact that the Empire needed those new droids, therefore he intended to capture the planet without damaging its factories. Giving his troops an order to land on the planet's surface, Sedriss told the Governor that he would now accept Beltane's surrender. Refusing to comply to such terms, Beltane stated that his troops would fight for Balmorra's freedom.
- "The Empire is cheating, sir…It is bypassing its own supply network! It's moved top-secret projects to the Deep Core!"
"Yes…If the Imperials had done anything less, they wouldn't be galactic rulers, would they?…And I have top secret projects of my own!'"
- ―The Balmorran command, after witnessing the firepower of the Shadow Droids
Imperial dropships deployed a force of 700 AT-ST walkers, 382 SD-9 battle droids, 36,000 Stormtroopers and troop transports, all under the command of Captain Maximilian Veers, that landed on the plains in the vicinity of the capital city Bin Prime. Acting on a battle plan he had developed, Sedriss had his forces close in on the city. Beltane responded with unleashing his own troops, consisting of Balmorran soldiers and SD-10 droids. As a battle erupted between the two sides, the entirety of Beltane's force was drawn out from the city into the open space of the plains surrounding it.
The battle initially went in favor of Balmorran forces, as the superior SD-10s—which were also programmed with tactics tailored to counter the older SD-9s—decimated their opposition. Imperial forces began taking heavy casualties, and Captain Veers reported on that course of events to Sedriss. Sedriss had realized from the start that the Empire would lose a large number of lives during the battle, but he was satisfied with that price. Acting on his strategy, the Executor had his remaining ground troops pulled back and activated the Shadow Droids. The cybernetic starfighters launched from the hangars of the Star Destroyers and flew toward the site of the battle. The droids performed aerial attack runs on Beltane's forces, turning the tide of the battle in the Empire's favor. Not programmed to defend themselves against aerial attacks, the SD-10 droids started falling victim to the nimble fighters en masse. Contrary to the original invasion plan, the Shadow Droids also laid waste to Balmorra's infrastructure.
Informed of this turn of events, Beltane decided that it was time to reveal his own secret weapon, issuing Emergency Initiative Alpha, an order to unleashed the X-1 Viper droids, which bested the Shadow Droids. Veers' ground forces engaged the Automadons, but the droids' molecular shielding proved to be too strong for the Imperial troops, and Veers himself was killed. Sedriss attempted to withdraw the Shadow Droids, but all the starfighters had already been destroyed. Having witnessed the X-1 in action, which had been developed clandestinely from the Empire, Goir and Mordi proclaimed that Beltane had broken his treaty with the Empire, and they implored Sedriss to retaliate with an orbital bombardment of Balmorra. However, Sedriss decided against such course of action. Impressed with the X-1 model's fighting capabilities, he viewed the machine as a potentially invaluable tool in the ongoing fight against the New Republic. Believing that obtaining the droids was of the utmost priority, Sedriss contacted Beltane, asking the man of the price he wanted for the machines.
Beltane demanded that Balmorra be granted freedom from the Empire; if that demand was met, then he would consider selling the X-1 droids to Sedriss on a contract basis. Grudgingly, Sedriss agreed to such terms, although he intended to perform a retaliatory strike against Balmorra once the Vipers were in his possession. An hour later, Sedriss dispatched an envoy to the surface of the planet to negotiate terms of the treaty. When all formalities were met, Sedriss signed a treaty with Beltane, officially granting Balmorra freedom from the Empire and withdrawing all Imperial forces from the planet.
- "War is more than a matter of vengeance, Mordi. One of the subtleties of the military art is using your enemy's resources to defeat him. I want those new war droids for the Empire and I want them now. We'll agree to anything Beltane wants. Once I take possession of those war droids—and the men who designed them—I will reduce Balmorra to space dust!'"
- ―Sedriss, justifying his decision to agree to Beltane's terms
Beltane seemingly kept his word, selling a shipment of X-1 Viper droids to Sedriss, which were soon to be delivered to the capital of the Empire, the Deep Core world of Byss. However, Beltane kept playing behind Sedriss' back in secret He contacted the leader of the New Republic, Mon Mothma, recounting the course of the battle to her. He then informed the New Republic of the exact route of the transports that were carrying the droids as well as the cargo ships' registry numbers and access codes. This allowed the New Republic to intercept the shipment mid-flight. Acting on a strategy developed by Generals Wedge Antilles and Lando Calrissian, the New Republic had commando teams take position inside the droids. Once the machines were to arrive at the Emperor's Citadel on Byss, the commandos planned to activate the droids and perform a daring strike at the heart of the Empire.
Unaware of that, Sedriss faced other problems, as his truce with Beltane was viewed as failure by the Imperial Ruling Circle on Byss. A duo of Dark Side Adepts, Nefta and Sa-Di, started vying to have Sedriss executed for his failure to subjugate Balmorra. The Adepts also began spreading rumors that Palpatine was dead and would not take another clone body, even though a number of bodies still remained hidden inside the Emperor's Citadel. Sedriss returned to Byss, accompanied by members of the Dark Side Elite. He then confronted the traitorous Adepts and killed them. Palpatine, who had returned in a final clone body, witnessed the scene and was pleased with Sedriss' loyalty. The Emperor once again assumed command of the Empire.
The X-1 Viper droids, crewed by the New Republic infiltrators, later arrived on Byss. As planned, the droids attacked the Emperor's Citadel. The surprising attack caught the Imperial defenders offguard, but the reborn Palpatine responded to it by unleashing vicious Chrysalide rancors. The creatures repelled the New Republic attack, causing the leftovers of the strike team to retreat with the help of local smugglers.
Behind the scenes
The Battle of Balmorra first appeared in Dark Empire II 1, a 1994 comic book written by Tom Veitch and illustrated by Cam Kennedy. The battle served as an opening event of the Star Wars: Dark Empire comic series and introduced the Imperial Executor Sedriss QL and the Balmorran Governor Beltane. The battle was later featured in the audio drama adaptation of the comic series. The battle would receive mentions in a number of Star Wars reference books over the following years.
The audio drama of Dark Empire differs from the original comic Dark Empire II in regards to several aspects of the chronology of events in the battle. In the audio version, Krdys Mordi is not present, and Vill Goir is the only Dark Jedi accompanying Sedriss. After Sedriss presents his ultimatum to Beltane, the Governor has his planetary defenses open fire on Sedriss' fleet. Angered by this attack, Sedriss gives the order to land ground troops, which advance directly into the capital city and attempt to capture it, instead of drawing out the Imperials outside the city as depicted in the comics. The number of Imperial troops is also slightly different with the Balmorran defenders estimating "close to 30,000 stormtroopers and 400 SD-9 droids" instead of the exact numbers of 36,000 and 382, provided in the comic.
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- The Essential Chronology
- The Essential Guide to Droids
- Arms & Equipment Guide
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 23 (MIL1-4, Military Droids)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 43 (MIL7-8, Military Droids)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 85 (German Edition - SED1-2, Exekutor Sedriss)
- The New Essential Chronology
- Star Wars: The Comics Companion
- "The Empire's Finest: Who's Who in the Imperial Military"—Star Wars Insider 96
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 4
- "25 Years of Return of the Jedi!"—Star Wars Insider 105
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Mentioned in multiple entries, but without own entry)
- Scavenger's Guide to Droids
- The Essential Atlas
Notes and references
- Dark Empire 6
- Dark Empire II 1
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 330 ("Mordi, Krdys")
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. I, p. 350 ("Goir, Vill")
- Dark Empire II audio drama
- The Essential Guide to Droids
- Dark Empire 6
- Dark Empire II 4
- Dark Empire II 5