- "Unfortunately war tends to distort our point of view. If we sacrifice our code, even for victory, we may lose that which is most important—our honor."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi, after the battle
A battle took place in the Confederate prison, the Citadel, located on the planet Lola Sayu, in 21 BBY during the Clone Wars. Because Jedi Master Even Piell and his captain, Wilhuff Tarkin, had knowledge of a secret hyperspace lane known as the Nexus Route, which was situated between the heart of the Republic and Confederate systems, the two were captured by Confederate forces while returning from an assignment in the Outer Rim Territories. The Galactic Republic sought to free the Lannik warrior, who was incarcerated in the Citadel prison. Despite having to rely on old data from the Jedi Temple's archives on the planet Coruscant, the strike team sent for the rescue—Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, the astromech droid R2-D2, reprogrammed battle droids and clone troopers—devised a plan to infiltrate the facility in a captured Separatist shuttle, freezing themselves into carbonite to evade scanners. This tricked the fleet guarding Lola Sayu into giving them permission to proceed. Landing on a pad near the Citadel, the group—supplemented by Ahsoka Tano, who had stowed aboard without permission—proceeded to free-climb a cliff protected by electro-mines. However, their attempt to sneak in undetected failed when a clone trooper was killed by a mine, alerting the facility to their presence. The prison's commandant, Osi Sobeck, activated turrets and electric walls to stop the intruders, but the rescue team succeeded in saving Piell from torture and free his fleet officers as well.
After warding off droid commandos, the group split up, with Kenobi and some troopers creating a diversion while Skywalker and the rest of the team proceeded towards the landing pad, where a shuttle was to pick them up. Kenobi's troops were saved from capture by R2-D2 and his battle droids, but the craft sent for the rescue was destroyed by a cannon, forcing the group to hide in the caverns beneath the Citadel and call for support. Several of Piell's officers were killed by pursuing battle droids while trekking across the landscape, but R2's droid team held off the chasers long enough to allow the rest of the group to escape. However, a pack of anoobas released by Osi Sobeck tracked them down, with one of them killing Piell before being killed by Tano. Following the Jedi Master's brief funeral, the team went on towards the extraction point, where they were confronted by Sobeck himself. In an act of rage, Sobeck tried to kill Tarkin by throwing him into a river of lava, but was killed by Tano before a space gunship dispatched by Admiral Coburn's rescue fleet evacuated the group.
- "As you are aware, the Citadel is their most isolated and impenetrable detention facility. No one has ever escaped."
"There's a first time for everything."
- ―Plo Koon and Anakin Skywalker
In 21 BBY, a Star Destroyer commanded by Jedi Master Even Piell and Captain Wilhuff Tarkin was ambushed by the forces of the Confederacy of Independent Systems while en route to Coruscant, as Piell had information on the Nexus Routes, vital hyperspace coordinates valuable to both the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy. Droidekas infiltrated the command bridge, forcing Piell and his men to surrender. Prior to his capture, Piell ordered the data on the Nexus Route to be wiped from the ship's computers, and memorized half of the data, while Tarkin memorized the other half, a failsafe in the unlikely case one of them would crack under torture. The captured crew was transferred to the installation known as "The Citadel", a heavily fortified max security prison based on Lola Sayu.
Word spread to the Jedi Council of Piell's capture, and a rescue team led by General Obi-Wan Kenobi, General Anakin Skywalker, Commander Cody and Captain Rex was quickly assembled. Among the team were ARC troopers Echo and Fives of Domino Squad, who were prepared for the mission through a vigorous training program on Kamino modeled after the Citadel's defensive capabilities. The operation was the pair's first following their induction into the ARC trooper ranks because of their valor during the Battle of Kamino.
Making use of outdated schematics of the facility's layout, a trio of captured Confederate battle droids, reprogrammed to serve under the command of R2-D2, the team's astromech droid, would transport the rescue team into the Citadel in a captured Class type B. However, this would prove to be a challenge, as entry into Lola Sayu's airspace was guarded by Confederate checkpoints requiring a mandatory lifeform scan. To this end, General Skywalker devised a plan to freeze the rescue team in carbonite, suppressing the team's vital signs and allowing the shuttle to pass the checkpoint. In the event that the team was compromised, a backup fleet under the command of Plo Koon, Mace Windu, Adi Gallia, and Saesee Tiin was prepared to engage the enemy and extract the team by force. Following the last minute addition of Jedi Padawan Ahsoka Tano to the rescue team, who defied Skywalker's orders to not take part in the operation with a subtle suggestion by Plo Koon, the shuttle was deployed the operation commenced.
Infiltration of the Citadel
- "I must have carbon sickness because I could swear that's Ahsoka."
- ―Obi-Wan Kenobi
Skywalker's plan to avoid the lifeform scanners was a success, and the carbonite concealed the team from the life-form scanners around the planet. Given clearance by the facility's ward, Osi Sobeck, the droids were given permission to land, but they deviated the shuttle's flight course and landed in a cavern below the Citadel. R2-D2 promptly released each team member from their carbonite blocks. Following the confusion caused by Ahsoka Tano's unexplained presence in the operation, Obi-Wan Kenobi accepted her last minute addition, and the team proceeded to the Citadel's perimeter.
The entrance to the Citadel was built into the side of a cliff; strong winds and electro-mines set on the cliff walls prevented the use of jetpacks or grappling cables, forcing the team to free-climb. The rescuers nearly made it to the top after narrowly avoiding detection by a droideka and two super battle droids, when a clone trooper lost balance and detonated a mine during his fall, alerting the Citadel warden, Osi Sobeck, to the team's presence. With the base under full alert phase, the rescue team rushed the hallways. Sobeck tried hindering the team's progress by activating turrets and using electrified walls, which killed one clone trooper. The team was successful in rescuing Master Piell, just as a torture droid was about to gouge the Jedi's only remaining eye out.
On their way to find Piell's naval officers and their captain, Tarkin, they were confronted by Sobeck's special unit of BX-series commando droids. The sudden rush of commando droids took the rescue team off guard and took the lives of a few clone troopers, though the surviving team managed to destroy the droid attackers and press onward to Tarkin's cell. Seconds later, the Jedis' lightsabers and the clone troopers' weapons were draw to the ceiling by a magnet, along with Skywalker due to his metallic prosthetic arm. While being electrocuted, Skywalker managed to grab his lightsaber and destroy the magnet. Another commando droid on guard in Tarkin's cell was destroyed with a saber strike to the head through the cell door, before the team breached the cell and rescued the Republic officers. The Jedi then split into two groups. Skywalker, Tano, Fives, Echo, Rex, Captain Tarkin, and two rescued clones formed one group, while Commander Cody, Kenobi, Even Piell, and six other clones formed another.
Kenobi's group traveled through a vertical system of ventilation shafts, expecting to emerge near the landing pad. A single probe droid stationed in the ventilation shafts discovered them; Piell pursued it and destroyed it with his lightsaber. The droid reported his findings before Piell could destroy it, and in response the shafts were sealed off with steel blast doors. One clone trooper was killed by a closing blast door, being bisected at the waist. The team pressed forward, cutting their way out of the shaft using their lightsabers. Unfortunately for the team, they were unaware that R2 had already arrived and was inside the Citadel, so Kenobi and his group were captured after falling into a trap placed by Osi Sobeck. Placed under arrest, Kenobi's team was escorted to Sobeck's office. Sobeck, eager to interrogate the prisoners due to increased pressure from his superior Count Dooku, resorted to using scare tactics, executing one of the clones and preparing to execute the rest one by one if the information wasn't relayed to him. However, the discovery of Anakin's team in the underground caverns led Sobeck to order two battle droids to lock Kenobi's team up in the detention level. However, R2-D2 and OOM-10, disguised as Citadel security, rescued them from the battle droids before they were transferred there, and retrieved the group's weaponry.
Skywalker's group traveled through a series of underground caverns, which were detected using an outdated layout of the base. Tano led Tarkin and the clones while Skywalker guarded their flank. Ahsoka, who was ill informed of the battle plan due to her unexpected presence, was put off by a dead end which was supposed to be blown up, and the group was ambushed by a group of super battle droids. The droids were, in turn, ambushed by Skywalker, who dropped down from the ceiling and destroyed them from behind. Skywalker ordered Ahsoka to blow the wall open as a team of commando droids armed with power shields closed in on them. After planting a thermal detonator on the wall, Ahsoka rolled two more thermal detonators behind the commando droids, destroying them. They were then forced to travel through a fuel line; a single spark had the potential to ignite the entire tube. Braving through the noxious gas which filled the tube, Ahsoka discovered a ladder leading to an escape hatch. Upon surveying the surroundings of the fuel line, two battle droids attempted to hold Tano up with their blasters, however, her quick reflexes allowed her to dispatch both of them. A battalion of droids closed in on the tube as Tano and Skywalker deflected their fire with their lightsabers, allowing Tarkin and the others to take cover behind a large rock. Skywalker then threw a thermal detonator it into the fuel line's escape hatch, blowing the whole line and destroying the entire droid battalion.
This alerted Sobeck to their position. Sobeck was also enlightened to the fact that the prisoners never made it to the detention block, and he opted to send the bulk of his forces to the landing pad, as the shuttle was the team's only current method of escape. R2 and his squad of battle droids then attempted to smuggle Obi-Wan's team onto the shuttle, but tactical droid K2-B4 alerted the whole prison to OOM-10's reprogramming and ordered restricted access to the shuttle. A firefight then ensued between security forces on the landing pad and Kenobi's team. Skywalker and his group arrived, providing backup. Tarkin suggested using the shuttle's weapon systems to destroy the battle droids, however fire from heavy turrets would quickly destroy the shuttle should they attempt to board. A STAP squadron arrived and opened fire on the Republic forces. Anakin managed to force jump onto an enemy STAP and destroy the pilot, taking control of the craft. Another STAP pursued him, and he evaded its fire long enough for Piell, with his small stature, to board Anakin's STAP as a passenger and deflect the pursuing STAP's fire back at it.
A commando droid squad entered the fray. One commando droid opted to man one of the heavy turrets and open fire on Anakin's STAP, bringing him down. Echo, in a panic, ran in front of the shuttle with one of the fallen commando droid's plasma shields, attempting to get a clear shot on the commando droid operating the turret. By doing this, however, he drew attention towards the shuttle, which exploded due to the heavy weapons fire, killing ARC trooper Echo, leaving fellow ARC trooper Fives to grieve the loss of his brother. The surviving team retreated into the caverns below.
Republic extraction operation
- "I must commend you on your escape tactics…but, in the end, it was easy to predict your every move."
- ―Osi Sobeck to Obi-Wan Kenobi
With their shuttle destroyed, the Republic rescue team made contact with Coruscant, requesting support. The Jedi Council assembled a fleet and prepared for a full blown attack on Lola Sayu. Jedi Master Saesee Tiin was given command over the starfighter forces, with the objective of punching a hole through Separatist defenses, allowing Plo Koon to lead a squad of gunships to the designated extraction point on the planet's surface. The extraction point was on a small island near the northern shore of the Citadel.
The team proceeded to the evacuation point. However, a trio of commando droids spotted them and opened fire, but a thermal detonator thrown by Fives destroyed them. The group continued on, but a large squad comprised of crab droids and commando droids intercepted them, pinning them against a steep cliff. R2 ordered his droids to hold the Separatists off as long as they can to ensure the safety of the others as they rappelled down the cliffside. R2's reprogrammed droids were quickly destroyed, and a shot from a commando droid caused a clone trooper and a naval officer to fall to their deaths. The surviving Republic forces retreated into a cave as five commando droids opened fire on them from atop the cliff while Skywalker and Cody covered them; Cody succeeded in destroying two of the commando droids with well placed shots from his rifle.
Meanwhile, Osi Sobeck was contacted by Confederate Head of State Count Dooku who was displeased by the turn of events. Afraid of aggravating the Count any further, Sobeck unleashed a pack of anoobas to track down the Jedi. The Jedi were alerted to the anoobas by their distinctive howling. Even Piell devised a plan to ambush them from behind by having Anakin and Obi Wan lure the hunting party to a rocky plain near the northern shore while the rest hid in a nearby cave. While the two successfully lured the hunting party away from the rest of the group, a squad of crab droids counter-ambushed the strike team, forcing Piell and Tano to hold them off while the clones and officers gave Anakin and Obi-Wan support. One clone officer sacrificed his life by shoving Captain Tarkin out of the line of fire by a STAP droid, taking the shots for himself. Tarkin responded by picking up the officer's blaster and shooting down the STAP that was responsible; the commando piloting the craft was decommissioned by R2-D2 after being flung to the ground. Obi-Wan managed to take down two STAPs by launching himself off a rock and swiping at one with his saber in mid air while landing on another one and destroying its pilot. After landing back on his feet, an anooba attempted to lunge at him, though Kenobi's reflexes allowed him to launch the beast into the river of lava using his legs. The rest of the hunting party was cleaned up by Cody and Rex.
While the battle on the northern shore was taking place, Ahsoka Tano and Even Piell were holding their own against the wave of crab droids emerging from under the cliffside. The single surviving anoobas of the hunting party, which failed to keep pace with the rest of the party, lunged at Piell while he was disabling a crab droid with his lightsaber. The beast brutally mauled the Jedi Master before being launched into the lava by a Force push from Ahsoka. With his last breath, Piell disclosed his half of the data pertaining to the Nexus route to Tano before succumbing to his injuries. The Jedi Master was given a brief funeral by his fellow survivors before the team proceeded towards the rendezvous point.
The rescue fleet, led by Plo Koon and three other Jedi, Saesee Tiin, Kit Fisto, and Adi Gallia, emerged from hyperspace near Lola Sayu. While the clone pilots led by Tiin engaged the droid fighters in space, Plo Koon, in his LAAT/i gunship Plo's Bros, traveled down to the planet's surface, accompanied by Adi Gallia and Kit Fisto in their starfighters. Meanwhile, the stranded team was confronted by Osi Sobeck, who was seething with anger at his inability to obtain the information related the Nexus Route and took up a last ditch effort to prevent the party from escaping by personally commanding a squadron of STAP platforms. Forced to hold their own until Plo Koon and his forces arrived, Anakin and Obi-Wan both hijacked two different STAPs. In the ensuing confusion, R2 produced a thick cloud of smoke which temporarily blinded Sobeck, allowing Fives to take a shot at his STAP, destroying it and flinging Sobeck onto the small island. Tarkin used this opportunity to attempt to execute the commandant; however, the inexperienced Tarkin missed his shot. Sobeck recovered and lunged at Tarkin, grabbing him. Enraged at his own inability to recover the Nexus route information, Sobeck swore to kill Tarkin and was prepared to throw him into the river of lava. Ahsoka quickly stabbed Sobeck through the chest with her two lightsabers, killing him instantly. In the meantime, the Republic fleet in space was exchanging volleys of turbolaser fire with the Confederate ships. Separatist and Republic starfighters clashed, and although a droid bomber was able to drop is load on a Republic cruiser, the rest were destroyed by ARC-170s.
By then, Separatist reinforcements in the form of a battalion of crab droids arrived. Before they could overrun the survivors, Republic reinforcements arrived, and Plo Koon retrieved the stranded team without any additional casualties. After the rescue, Plo Koon contacted his admiral, Coburn, and told him to prepare their ships to jump to hyperspace. The team managed to make it to the ship and successfully jumped into hyperspace back to Coruscant.
Upon arriving back at the Temple, the survivors of the battle honored Piell's sacrifice with Grand Master Yoda before debriefing the Nexus Route information. However, there was a sizable conflict of interest: Captain Tarkin was ordered to convey the information directly to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine only, while Even Piell requested Ahsoka in his dying breath to relay the information directly to the Jedi Council only, forcing Yoda to confer with Palpatine.
Behind the scenes
The battle on Lola Sayu was featured in the third season of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series. The battle was depicted in a three episode story arc consisting of "The Citadel," "Counterattack," and "Citadel Rescue", airing on February 18, March 4, and March 11 of 2011, respectively. The story arc was touted as having a "back to basics" action approach following several episodes built around around politics and mythical themes. Production of the episode came about during a time of nostalgia for the original film trilogy among the show's staff, who often quoted and made references to various original trilogy characters and scenarios.
Three different concepts were thrown around regarding the fate of Osi Sobeck towards the end of the battle. The original script called for Tarkin executing an unarmed Sobeck after Fives shoots down his STAP, even as Sobeck is pleading for his life. This scenario was series director Dave Filoni's favorite, as it foreshadowed the cruel tactics of the Galactic Empire with officers such as Tarkin being in control of the military. However, upon review by executive producer George Lucas, it was decided that it would be "thick" for the Jedi who witnessed this to not realize how harmful it is for individuals such as Tarkin to hold power in the Republic. As such, the script was rewritten to have Ahsoka kill Sobeck in desperation, which accelerated character development for both Ahsoka and Anakin, since Ahsoka's methods and fighting style would obviously come from tutelage under Anakin. Filoni also considered having Sobeck return to the citadel, where Dooku would order the crab droids to execute him, but this idea was also dropped.Q&A with Dave Filoni
Even Piell was originally depicted in Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight as surviving through the Clone Wars and perishing during the Great Jedi Purge in 19 BBY. However, his death in the episode "Citadel Rescue" directly conflicts with the novel. The carbon-freezing used as a method to bypass security seen in "The Citadel" was previously introduced in The Clone Wars comic "The Clone Wars: Shipyards of Doom." However, its presence in "The Citadel" created a continuity error, as dialogue in the episode suggests that the Lola Sayu operation, which chronologically takes place after the "Shipyards of Doom" comic, was where Skywalker originally conceived the tactic.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Citadel" (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Counterattack"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Citadel Rescue"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Darkness on Umbara" (Indirect mention only)
- The Clone Wars: Darth Maul: Shadow Conspiracy (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic UK 6.18
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Magazine 4
- Star Wars: Mysteries of the Jedi
- "50 Great Reasons to Rewatch Star Wars: The Clone Wars Season Three"—Star Wars Insider 125
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic UK 6.20
- Star Wars Character Encyclopedia (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Magazine 5
- Star Wars: Clone Wars Adventures – "Shop" (Set: Even Piell)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Magazine 6
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Incredible Vehicles
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars The Complete Season Three
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Updated and Expanded
- The Official Star Wars Fact File Part 23 (PLO5–6, Clone Wars Ace Pilot)
Notes and references
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "The Citadel"
- The New Essential Chronology
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Updated and Expanded
- The Official Star Wars Fact File Part 45 (20 BBY 15–18, The Citadel)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Citadel Rescue"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Counterattack"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "ARC Troopers"
- The Clone Wars: Shipyards of Doom