The Battle of Kelrodo-Ai was a battle of the Western Reaches Operation.
In 17 BBY, the Empire's 77th Air Wing launched an assault on the planet Kelrodo-Ai in the Steniplis sector. However, the Separatist forces on the world took shelter in the well-defended Citadel of Axes, which resulted in fierce fighting on the world.
- "The Western Reaches Operation has restored security and the rule of law to eight sectors so far, with the successful liberation of 95 worlds."
- ―Shea Hublin
After the Clone Wars and the Declaration of a New Order, the remaining Separatists had fled into various places while the newly-created Galactic Empire attempted to defeat them, also forging alliances with Pirate kings and slave lords. One of these locations they hid out at was at the Western Reaches, specifically a volcanic planet within the Steniplis sector known as Kelrodo-Ai. Several clankers formerly belonging to the Separatists were also recovered and reprogrammed by their new masters on the planet. Because of the holdouts' alliances, they also tucked a significant amount of hardware within the main fortress of the Kelrodo-Ai people, the Citadel of Axes, and also immensely fortified the fortress with several shields.
By the time of the conflict, the Empire via the Western Reaches Operation, had restored security and the rule of law to eight sectors, and successfully liberated 95 worlds. The 77th Air Wing was deployed into the conflict to disable the shield by bringing down the generators that were hidden within the heart of the mountains that loomed across the plains. They set up a hastily-built forward airbase on the area beneath the shield. However, throughout the conflict, 15 of the 77th Air Wing's pilots were killed, causing the wing leader, Captain Shea Hublin, to have misgivings on the mission. However, he never let any of this show during an interview with Eris Harro of Eriadu News Service regarding the process of the mission.
After undergoing their briefing and reviewing their mission objectives, the 77th Air Wing, including Sword Squadron's nine remaining pilots, Scimtar Flight, Blade Flight, and Dagger Flight were then sent out to deal with enemy fighters as they are deployed to the Citadel. Shea repeated their objectives, which was to infiltrate a near vertical, 25 meter pipeline that was 82% confident to lead to the main reactor for the shields, with Scimitar Flight acting as first sortie upon entry. Before they could enter the base full throttle, however, a flight of 30 Separatist fighters, comprised of fighters that included modified Vulture droids that utilized organic pilots, battered Z-95 Headhunters, and unidentified snubfighters. Four of the enemy fighters were then destroyed by Sword Squadron during the first pass before Dagger Leader, Starks, was ordered by Blade Leader, Hublin to take out one of the enemy pilots while he and Blade Flight covered Scimitar Flight to the pipeline. As they were five kilometers from the pipeline and closing, anti-aircraft guns were deployed, forcing Scimtar and Blade fleets to descend close to the ground near the grass before shooting up the mountain, past the citadel, and proceeded to commence a corkscrew. Blade Flight also destroyed a shaft over the shaft, although Ahrens was shot down and killed due to being hit by one of the tower's heavy guns. Blade Flight then proceeded to fire on the defensive turrets to distract them while Scimitar Flight entered the pipeline. However, Scimitar Flight ended up halted by a foreign substance that prevented even the Separatist forces from pursuing them. After deducing that their disappearance was not a sensor gripe, as well as destroying a Vulture-class droid that ambushed him, Hublin ordered Blade Flight and Dagger Flight to abort the mission and review what happened.
An hour later, they discovered via his last transmission and the Kelrodo-Ai chieftain, Fara, that the cause of their disappearance was a creature native to the planet — the same creature that Fara often uses its eggs for his stew, in fact. They learned that they have to enter slowly to prevent awakening the creature and being entangled. As they can't bomb nor send missiles down the shaft due to needing visual confirmation of the generator and precision, nor can they deploy a ground force to destroy the shield due to lacking the time, Shea Dublin, Amps, and Starks were to act as a combined unit to infiltrate at a slow speed inside the shaft, and kill throttle and fire the breaks, moving only at repulsorlift speeds so as to not awaken the creature, while Dibs and Rocket were to distract any enemy forces outside. Upon entering and going past the creatures, they fired the accelerators to reach the hypermatter reactor. After blasting the reactor with proton torpedoes, they then had to race out of the reactor, needing to get out within 150 seconds before the reactor went critical. The fighters were attacked by the creatures, and it wasn't until the last ten seconds before they hit the throttle, just barely speeding past the last row of tentacles of the creature.
As a result of the battle, Hublin personally thanked Fara for the success of the mission, and offered him a chance to travel the galaxy, or at the very least see the remainder of the Western Reaches Operation. Likewise, Moff Tarkin sent a personal hologram communication congratulating Shea Hublin for the success of the mission.