- "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire."
- ―Voren Na'al
The Battle of Toprawa was an early battle in the Galactic Civil War in which the Alliance to Restore the Republic captured a large portion of the Death Star plans from the Galactic Empire. It was the first significant space battle for the fledgling Rebellion, and its first major victory.
After raiding an Imperial convoy above Toprawa and capturing the plans, augmenting them with other plans from a research station on the planet's surface and yet others from a facility on Danuta, the Toprawa Rebels needed a way to transmit the plans off Toprawa and into the hands of the larger Rebellion. The Empire declared the planet a restricted zone, but the Rebels got their chance when Princess Leia Organa arrived in-system in the Tantive IV. The Toprawa Rebels seized an Imperial communications center and transmitted the plans to the Princess's ship while holding off Imperial ground forces. The Tantive IV narrowly escaped the system, with the Star Destroyer Devastator in pursuit, but the majority of the ground forces were killed in the process, and the others were forced into hiding.
While the plans would later help the Rebellion destroy the Death Star, Toprawa was not so fortunate; the Empire retaliated and razed the planet's surface, driving its inhabitants into subjugation.
The Rebel Alliance learned of the existence of the Death Star—a moon-sized battlestation capable of destroying planets—from an operative on Ralltiir, a world under the jurisdiction of Lord Tion. Tion had long been making advances to Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan, and when she came to Ralltiir to rendezvous with the agent, she was forced to feign an interest in Tion in order to divert his suspicions. Tion took the opportunity to invite himself to the Organa household on Alderaan, to dine with Leia and her father Bail Organa.
During dinner, Leia was able to cajole Tion into revealing that he knew of the Empire's secret battlestation, and that a convoy carrying the plans was soon to depart from Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin's headquarters. However, Leia let slip that she knew the code name "Death Star," and Tion, who had never said that name, realized that they were in league with the Rebels. During the ensuing scuffle, Tion was killed. Bail Organa contacted the Rebellion and informed them of the convoy. Rebel operative Ta'al Pierc had meanwhile learned that the Imperial Research Station on Toprawa was designing the control systems for a superlaser; upon learning of the existence of the Death Star, the Rebels realized that this was its primary weapon. With all this information in hand, the Rebellion prepared to hit the convoy and capture the Death Star plans. Those chosen for the assignment knew it could well be a suicide mission, and the Rebellion was clear that the troops sent to ensure the successful capture of the plans were expendable and unlikely to be recovered.
The space battle
- "The Rebellion has fought its first space battle.…They won."
- ―Bail Organa
Before heading to Coruscant to deliver the plans to the Imperial Information Center, the Imperial convoy was scheduled to stop at Toprawa to get the superlaser control plans. The Rebellion was waiting, however, and the Rebel starfighters intercepted the Imperial convoy above Toprawa.
The starfighters faced tough opposition, and the spaceport began firing its ground-based emplacements, but slowly the Rebels overwhelmed the Imperial fleet. The fighters crippled the convoy and captured the Death Star plans, and one by one, the remaining Imperial ships were destroyed. One battlecruiser, with much of its crew dead, escaped the fighting into deep space, while other ships fled into Toprawa's atmosphere. These vessels were nonetheless destroyed, as were all escape shuttles launched from them. Some of the crashing ships inflicted damage on the city below.
It was the first true space battle the Rebellion had been engaged in, and despite the heavy casualties the Rebels suffered—over one hundred lives—Toprawa was the first significant victory for the Alliance.
The ground mission
- "We're going to attack the Imperial Research Station. It has the best communications on Toprawa, with a burst transmission system which can handle tightly compressed data. We aim to get the whole message off before the Empire can jam the transmission."
When Imperial Intelligence learned of the leak, the Empire responded quickly. Declaring Toprawa a restricted system, the Imperials established a blockade, preventing any Rebels from leaving the planet with the plans. Darth Vader, who realized the plans were now in the hands of the Rebellion, set a course for the world, and the Rebels realized they needed a way to get the plans off-planet as soon as possible.
When Bail Organa received word of the victory in space, he prepared to set out for Toprawa in the Tantive IV. In the plan the Toprawa Rebels had devised, the Tantive IV would enter the Toprawa system, using its diplomatic immunity as protection. When the Tantive IV approached the planet, the Rebels on the surface would transmit the plans. However, Leia insisted that she be the one to take the Tantive IV, reminding her father that as she was known for traveling on missions of mercy, her presence would raise less suspicion. Bail relented, and Leia set off for Toprawa in the Tantive IV, commanded by Captain Raymus Antilles.
The Rebels decided to capture the communications center of the Imperial Research Station. They would use its burst transmission system, capable of quickly transmitting compressed data, to send the plans to the Tantive IV before the Empire could jam the signal. The Rebel leader Vermilion planned to launch an assault on the research facility while Rebel agent Havet Storm infiltrated the base and took the superlaser control plans stored there.
As the Rebels began their assault, intending to punch through the reception building and across a landing field to the communications center, Storm made his way through the facility by a different route. Using a password bypass that had been added to the system by the Rebel Ta'al Pierc, Storm gave himself the security clearance he needed to go anywhere in the facility with impunity. Donning an Imperial uniform, he set off for the quarters of Facet Anamor, Executive Personnel Officer for the facility. After drugging Anamor and obtaining the schematics of the research station from her computer terminal, Storm headed to the room of Facet's father, Head of Research Druth Anamor. Using the password bypass, Storm downloaded the superlaser schematics onto a set of discs, then had a brief but vicious fight with the elder Anamor. Storm killed him and, his goal in hand, made his way to the communications center.
The other Rebels, meanwhile, had arrived at the communications center. Red Hand Squadron, led by Commander Bria Tharen, formed a perimeter outside the center to hold off the Imperial assault while the communications technicians prepared to transmit. The Imperial forces had destroyed the Rebel spacecraft, rendering an escape impossible, but the Rebel soldiers had been instructed to hold the comm center as long as they possibly could. When Storm reached the comm center, he met Vermilion, who was carrying the discs with the rest of the plans. They were not in the clear yet, though; as fake panels slid down all around them, the Rebels realized they were surrounded by a squad of stormtroopers led by Facet Anamor. As Anamor drew on Storm, Vermilion threw himself at her, and Anamor shot him. Storm, in turn, killed her, and without their leader, the rest of the stormtroopers fell quickly. In his dying moments, Vermilion gave Storm the frequency, 1215, and the code word, "Skyhook," that he would need to transmit the plans.
The Toprawa plans contained information on the Death Star's hull and life-support systems, while those Storm had retrieved from the base held the designs for the superlaser. The Rebels had had other plans in motion at the same time as the Toprawa operation, and agent Kyle Katarn had obtained a third set, containing specifications on weapons emplacements and engineering details, from a facility on Danuta. Storm compressed all these plans into a single packet of data and prepared to transmit it to the Tantive IV, due to arrive in-system at any moment.
The arrival of the Tantive IV
- "Come in, Skyhook! Come in, Skyhook!"
"We have only moments! Prepare to copy!"
- ―Havet Storm and Princess Leia Organa, coordinating transmission of the plans
Leia Organa and Captain Antilles, meanwhile, had been devising their own plan for diverting the suspicion of the Empire when the Tantive IV arrived in a restricted zone. The astromech droid R2-D2 was to be sent to the outside of the vessel, near the navicomputer sensor suite, and pretend to conduct repairs on it. If questioned by the Imperials, the Tantive IV would explain that their hyperdrive was malfunctioning, and they had dropped out of hyperspace to conduct repairs. R2-D2 would remain in contact with his counterpart, C-3PO, and if the Imperials conducted scans of the droid, they would back up the Tantive IV's cover story.
As the Tantive IV leapt into the Toprawa system, they detected a scrambled transmission. Leia keyed in the proper code, and it resolved into the voice of Havet Storm telling the Tantive IV to prepare to copy. Storm began transmitting the plans to the vessel. Three Star Destroyers were now in orbit, though, including the Devastator. As the data was transmitting, the Devastator detected the signal, and Commander Nahdonnis Praji contacted the Tantive IV, ordering it to heave to and prepare to be searched. Scrambling for more time, Antilles told the Devastator of their "malfunction" and attempted to use the vessel's diplomatic immunity. The Devastator acknowledged the message and on Vader's command held its fire, but ordered the Tantive IV to hold its course and prepare for boarding.
The transmission finally ended, and Antilles replied to the Devastator, insisting that as they were on a diplomatic mission they could not be detained. As the Tantive IV prepared to make the leap to hyperspace, Antilles ordered all troops to battle stations, raised shields, and began accelerating away from the planet. The Devastator announced that it had detected the transmission of the plans, again ordered the Tantive IV to heave to, and prepared to open fire. Vader ordered the Star Destroyer to shoot for minimum damage, and only moments after it began firing, the Tantive IV finally made the jump to hyperspace. The Devastator followed.
- "The Imps have destroyed our ships. No retrieval. And even if we didn't have orders to hold this comm center for as long as possible, there's nowhere for us to go on this world."
- ―Bria Tharen
After the transmission ended, Havet Storm and the technicians planted their explosive charges and left the communications center. Only seconds after the transmission ceased, a shot from the Imperials destroyed the communications tower, leaving the Rebels on the surface ignorant as to the fate of the Tantive IV.
Bria Tharen and Red Hand Squadron, meanwhile, continued to hold their ground. As the battle wore on and day turned into night, the communications tower was pulverized into rubble and the surrounding area littered with wrecked speeders and bodies. The Rebels knew they would not be leaving Toprawa alive, and when an HAVr A9 Floating Fortress arrived on the scene, they prepared to hold off yet another assault. In the end, all members of Red Hand Squadron were killed or committed suicide; Tharen took a suicide pill, knowing that neither she nor any of her team could be taken alive with what they knew.
Although the Rebels sustained significant losses due to the Devastator's ambush, the battle was nonetheless considered the first formal Rebel Alliance victory, after a string of informal battles by various resistance groups, due to the success of the overall objective of completing the stolen Death Star plans.
The Devastator pursued the Tantive IV to Tatooine and captured it, but the plans were smuggled off the ship, stored inside R2-D2. They were eventually brought to the Rebel base on Yavin 4, where they allowed the Rebellion to destroy the Death Star.
Toprawa did not escape the retribution of the Empire, though. The Empire razed the planet's cities, driving the planet into a pre-industrial state, and subjugated its people as punishment.
One of the many casualties of the battle was an Imperial battlecruiser that had sustained superficial damage and escaped the fight, only to have its reactors give out. The pirate Crimson Jack found it adrift in deep space and captured it, taking out what little remained of the crew.
Behind the scenes
- "Rebel spaceships, striking from a hidden base, have won their first victory against the evil Galactic Empire. During the battle, Rebel spies managed to steal secret plans to the…DEATH STAR."
- ―Opening crawl of A New Hope
The Battle of Toprawa was created by Brian Daley in the Star Wars radio drama to expand on the very first words of the Star Wars saga, the opening crawl of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope. Despite the significance of this battle, only two sources since then, Jedi Dawn and Rebel Dawn, have shown it, with only Jedi Dawn explicitly showing the "first victory" itself, the space battle.
Star Wars: Rebel Assault may feature another appearance of the space battle in its opening cutscene, which consists of a montage of video clips that mirror the cutscene's narration. In the portion of the narration that mentions the first victory of the Rebellion, an unidentified space battle is shown.
In the first story draft for Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, the Battle of Toprawa played a prominent role as the setting for the game's climax. During the course of the battle, the game's protagonist would serve as Leia's protector and duel Vader's other secret apprentice. After the defeat of the other apprentice, the protagonist would be confronted with a choice between fighting Vader, which would allow Leia to escape, or resuming his apprenticeship, which would bring about the destruction of the Rebel Alliance. When the game's developers submitted their plot outline to George Lucas, he rejected the idea of setting the game just before A New Hope, removing any possibility of the battle's inclusion in The Force Unleashed. He also suggested Leia have a less prominent role in the storyline, and he told them that he felt Vader and Palpatine would serve as better antagonists. The developers altered the storyline accordingly, resulting in the elimination of the second secret apprentice as a character, the creation of Juno Eclipse, and a confrontation between the game's protagonist, Vader and Palpatine aboard the first Death Star.
In the radio drama, the events at Toprawa were portrayed as the sole means by which the Death Star plans were acquired. However, Star Wars: Dark Forces gave another version of the theft of the plans, this time at the hands of Kyle Katarn on Danuta. Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire retconned this discrepancy by explaining that each of these sets of plans was only part of the whole, and that the entire schematic was put together on Toprawa.
The endnotes for The New Essential Chronology claim that the attack on the Imperial convoy is playable in the game Star Wars: X-Wing. However, X-wing's version of the capture of the Death Star plans and their transmission to the Tantive IV differs from all other depictions of these events, and the transfer of the plans does not take place at Toprawa. It is possible that as with the Danuta plans, these were only a portion, transferred separately from the plans at Toprawa.
Other sources such as Star Wars: Empire at War, Star Wars: Battlefront II, and Star Wars: Lethal Alliance give their own versions of how the plans were acquired, none of which mention the Toprawa mission.
Though the opening crawl of A New Hope says that this was the first victory of the Rebellion, other engagements in which the Rebels won have been portrayed that take place earlier, such as the Battle of Fresia from Star Wars: Empire at War or the Battle of Turkana from Star Wars: X-Wing, as well as the Assault on Kamino in The Force Unleashed II. It is possible that the Battle of Toprawa was the first significant victory of the Rebellion. The Visual Guides, when addressing this, clarified that it meant the first formal victory of the Rebellion, citing the prior engagements as informal battles by various resistance groups.
Though the Battle of Toprawa is no longer canon and is now classified as part of Star Wars Legends, the battle in which the plans of the first Death Star battle station were stolen by the Rebels, known as the Battle of Scarif, is depicted in the climax of the 2016 Star Wars Anthology film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Instead of Toprawa, however, the battle took place at the planet of Scarif, and instead of Havet Storm, Rebel soldiers Jyn Erso and Cassian Jeron Andor were the ones who sent the plans to the Tantive IV.
- Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars radio drama (First appearance) (First identified as Battle of Toprawa)
- Jedi Dawn
- The Lost Jedi Adventure Game Book
- Rebel Dawn
- Death Star (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Journal: Captive to Evil (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (First mentioned)
- The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars 12: Doomworld (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Journal: Hero for Hire (Indirect mention only)
- Tatooine Ghost (Indirect mention only)
- Darksaber (Mentioned only)
- Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope
- The Rebel Alliance Sourcebook (Indirect mention only)
- Death Star Technical Companion (Indirect mention only)
- Galaxy Guide 12: Aliens — Enemies and Allies
- The Essential Chronology
- The Essential Guide to Vehicles and Vessels
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 3 (VAD1, Darth Vader) (Indirect mention only)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 8 (TAN1, Tantive IV and Escape Pod) (Indirect mention only)
- "Who's Who in Echo Base" – Star Wars Insider 74
- Rebel Storm
- Vader: The Ultimate Guide
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- "Ask Lobot" – Star Wars Insider 108
- The Essential Atlas
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- The Official Star Wars Fact File Part 11 (TAN1, Tantive IV)
Notes and references
- The New Essential Chronology
- Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- The Essential Guide to Warfare places the attack on the first Death Star in 0 BBY, so everything between that battle and the Battle of Yavin must fall in 0 BBY.
- Jedi Dawn
- Star Wars radio drama
- Rebel Dawn
- Star Wars 12: Doomworld
- Star Wars: The Rise and Fall of Darth Vader
- Visual Guides
- X-Wing: Rogue Squadron
- Endnotes for The New Essential Chronology
- The Art and Making of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
- Rogue One: A Star Wars Story