Berch Teller's rebel cell was formed and led by the former Republic Intelligence agent Berch Teller after the Antar Atrocity. Members of this cell came from several species including humans, Koorivar, and Gotals. Several dissidents including Teller himself, journalist Anora Fair, the film director Hask Taff, the Koorivar Cala, the Gotal Salikk, and the information broker Knotts were present on Antar 4 during the Antar Atrocity. Due to their experiences, they bore a deep hatred of the Empire particularly Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, the architect of the Antar Atrocity. In 14 BBY, the dissidents launched an insurgency against the Empire with the help of the Naval Intelligence Agency's Director Dodd Rancit, a rival of Tarkin, who supplied them with former Separatist weaponry, communications equipment, and intelligence on the Galactic Empire. After stealing Tarkin's personal corvette Carrion Spike, the insurgents attacked several Imperial facilities before being defeated by Tarkin during a battle near the Gulf of Tatooine. The surviving insurgents were secretly executed by the Empire.
The roots of Berch Teller's rebel cell can be traced back to the Antar Atrocity in 18 BBY. During the Clone Wars, the moon Antar 4 sided with the Confederacy of Independent Systems. However, a significant number of the indigenous Gotals and immigrant Koorivar remained loyal to the Galactic Republic. The Republic Intelligence operatives Captain Berch Teller and Knotts trained and channeled supplies to Gotal and Koorivar loyalist fighters, who waged a guerrilla war against the governing Separatists. Following the Great Jedi Purge, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine transformed the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire.
Following the end of the Clone Wars, the new Empire took harsh action against Separatist supporters and sympathizers. In an effort to force former Separatist worlds such as Raxus Secundus, Kooriva, and Murkhana to surrender all former Separatists, Imperial forces under Admiral and adjutant general Wilhuff Tarkin launched a violent crackdown on Antar 4. In the process, many Gotal and Koorivar loyalists were rounded up and executed. The Antar Atrocity received widespread media coverage in the Core Worlds due to the efforts of several journalists including Anora Fair and the Zygerrian film-maker Hask Taff.
Despite the disappearances of many journalists, media coverage generated a public outcry that forced the Emperor to reassign Tarkin to pacification operations in the Western Reaches. Tarkin was later promoted to Moff and installed as the commander of a chain of bases servicing the secret Death Star project. Tarkin's role in the Antar Atrocity earned him the enmity of Teller along with several survivors and witnesses of the mass killings.
Teller abandoned his job as chief of security at the Desolation Station, one of the stations servicing the Death Star. Teller used his intelligence connections to spirit Anora, Hask, the Gotal pilot Salikk, and the Koorivar munitions and surveillance expert Cala into hiding. Another important member of the group was former Republic Intelligence operative Knotts, who used his job as an information broker on Lantillies to aid the group.
Teller's cell was also aided by Vice Admiral Dodd Rancit, a rival of Moff Tarkin. Another former Republic Intelligence official, Rancit despised the rival Imperial Security Bureau for impeding the extraction of loyalist operatives on Antar 4. He was also bitter at being relieved of his command of the supply station Sentinel Base in favor of Tarkin, a close friend of the Emperor. As Director of the Naval Intelligence Agency, Rancit diverted funds from the agency's black budget to supply Teller's cell with proscribed armaments, confiscated Separatist war materiel, and communications jammers. Knowing that Teller and Knotts were former Republic Intelligence operatives, he also facilitated their access to Imperial depots and armories.
In addition, Teller's cell was helped by scientists and technicians who held high-priority security clearances. Several of these individuals harbored grievances against the Empire and joined Teller's cell. One of these recruits was the Mon Calamari systems engineer Dr. Artoz, a former Mon Calamari Knight who had fought during the Battle of Mon Cala. Artoz was especially valuable to the dissident group due to his expertise in stealth technology.
By 14 BBY, Teller's group consisted of individuals from a range of species including humans, Koorivar, Gotals, and at least one Mon Calamari. Their military resources included a heavily modified Providence-class Dreadnought which served as Berch Teller's warship, a EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate, a handful of Z-95 Headhunters and Tikiar starfighters, and a large number of vulture droids and droid tri-fighters. Teller's warship had been assembled by the Tenloss Syndicate and the Crymorah Syndicate with the collusion of Vice Admiral Rancit.
Raid on Sentinel Base
In 14 BBY, Teller and his dissidents decided the time was right to launch their campaign against the Galactic Empire, particularly Moff Tarkin. Ever since the Antar Atrocity, Teller and his fellow insurgents had harbored a vendetta against Tarkin, a renown proponent of the Emperor's New Order. Using their communications equipment, the dissidents created a fake holo-transmission claiming that Rampart Station was under attack. As part of the ruse, the insurgents impersonated Lieutenant Thon, the commander of the base. Their plan was to attack Sentinel Base, Moff Tarkin's headquarters.
However, Moff Tarkin realized the transmission was a fake and ordered the Venator-class Star Destroyer Electrum to do a microjump to the edge of the Sentinel Base's system. When the insurgents' Providence-class Dreadnought emerged from hyperspace and began bombarding Sentinel Base, Tarkin had the Electrum ambush the intruders from their rear. Though the insurgents fled into hyperspace, the Imperials were able to capture several Vulture droids and droid-tri fighters, which were examined to determine their origins. Due to the Separatist equipment, Tarkin and his subordinates initially believed that the attackers were Separatists who had not given up.
Heist at Murkhana
Putting the next stage of their plan into action, Teller and his insurgents decided to steal Tarkin's personal corvette Carrion Spike, which was equipped with an advanced hyperdrive and stealth technology. Teller planned to turn Tarkin's corvette from a symbol of Imperial power to that of resistance against the Empire. Their plan was to raid Imperial targets across the galaxy and broadcast their holovids of their attacks on the HoloNet, mimicking the successful Separatist Shadowfeed broadcasts during the Clone Wars. Teller assigned Anora and Hask with creating and streaming these holovids.
Vice Admiral Rancit aided the dissidents by planting a cache of communications jammers at a former medcenter on the former Separatist world of Murkhana. As a diversion, he arranged for Naval Intelligence to leak information of the communications cache to the Imperial Security Bureau. Acting on this information, ISB case officer Stellan sent the Koorivar ISB asset Bracchia to "confirm" this discovery. In response to the discovery of the Murkhana communications cache, the Emperor dispatched Moff Tarkin and Darth Vader on a mission to Murkhana to investigate the cache, which the ISB feared was a prelude to an insurgency campaign.
In anticipation of Tarkin's journey to Murkhana, the information broker Knotts negotiated a deal with Crymorah syndicate to supply fuel cells to the Sugi crime lord Faazah. The insurgents then lured Sergeant Crest and the stormtroopers guarding the Carrion Spike with a fake transmission purporting to be from Tarkin. Teller along with the insurgents Salikk, Dr. Artoz, Cala, Anora, and Hask then captured Tarkin's corvette, killing the ship's captain, communications officer, and two stormtroopers. Despite easily seizing the ship, Hask accidentally damaged the airlock.
Harrying the Empire
Tarkin and Vader pursued the insurgents to the edge of the Murkhana system in Faazah's ship Parsec Predator but they managed to escape aboard the Carrion Spike into hyperspace. The Imperials were able to track the insurgents using Darth Vader's meditation chamber and a paralight tracker within the ship's hyperdrive. After traveling through the Fial system, Teller's insurgents traveled to the Galidraan system to attack Galidraan Station, which orbited the planet Galidraan III. Using the Carrion Spike's stealth technology, the insurgents inflicted significant damage to the station and ripped through its V-wing and ARC-170 starfighters.
The Carrion Spike also disabled Tarkin and Vader's commandeered ship Parsec Predator before heading to the edge of the Galidraan system. After jettisoning Vader's meditation sphere, the insurgents destroyed the system's hyperspace buoy before fleeing into hyperspace. The dissidents then raided the TaggeCo mining facilities on Lucazec. The insurgents also broadcast their attack on HoloNet, drawing the attention of the Emperor and the Imperial Ruling Council. As a result, the Emperor dispatched reinforcements including Darth Vader's black Eta-2 Actis-class light interceptor to assist Tarkin and Vader's hunt for the stolen ship.
Having being warned by Vice Admiral Rancit to avoid Gromas in the Perkell sector, the insurgents instead traveled to Phindar in the Mandalore sector to obtain the special fuel needed by the Carrion Spike. Teller posed as the Imperial Commander Abel LaSal and convinced the Phindian administrator of the orbiting tanker to allow his ship to refuel. However, the Phindian administrator alerted Tarkin and Vader to the presence of the Carrion Spike. Backed by Imperial reinforcements, Tarkin and Vader traveled to the Phindar system to intercept the insurgents. A dogfight broke out between the stolen Carrion Spike and the Imperial forces. Teller's insurgents flew the Carrion Spike around the tanker to frustrate Tarkin's Yellow Squadron of V-wings.
Before the Imperial escort carrier Goliath could fire its proton torpedoes at the Carrion Spike, the insurgents jumped into hyperspace. Before leaving, they detonated an explosive device that had been planted in a used fuel cell left aboard the tanker. Three hours later, the insurgents transmitted another holovid of the incident in the Phindar system. In response to this attack, Vice Admiral Rancit convinced the Emperor to deploy Imperial forces to protect Imperial installations across the Perlemian Trade Route and the Hydian Way. In addition, the Empire deployed several interdictor vessels from the Deep Core Security Zone to assist in the hunt for the Carrion Spike.
Following the Phindar dogfight, the insurgents headed to the Expansion Region near Thustra and Aquaris. During the journey, Cala discovered that the Empire was still tracking them with a paralight tracker. After Dr. Artoz destroyed the paralight tracker, Teller transmitted coordinates claiming that the insurgents were traveling aboard the Carrion Spike to the Obroa-skai system. Teller arranged with Knotts to send the YT-1000 light freighter Reticent as a decoy. The Reticent's Koorivar captain was transporting Sephi flyers to the medcenter on Obroa-skai. Acting on this disinformation, Tarkin and Vader deployed three interdictor vessels and several Imperial warships to Obroa-skai. However, one of the interdictors, a prototype Immobilizer 418 cruiser, malfunctioned and yanked out a large number of starships out of hyperspace. This cause a massive space accident with 1,100 passengers being killed when the MC80 Star Cruiser Stellar Vista collided with a CC-7700 frigate.
Beginning of the end
Following the Obroa-skai accident, Vader and Tarkin interrogated the crew of the Reticent and learnt about the information broker Knotts. Vader also learnt from one of his Crymorah contacts that the late Sugi crime lord Faazah had obtained a shipment of fuel cells prior to their visit to Murkhana. After consulting with the HoloNet database, Tarkin discovered that Knotts, Teller, and the other insurgents were connected to the Antar Atrocity. He also realized that Teller had been impersonating Imperial officers. Tarkin also deduced that the insurgents were being aided by Vice Admiral Rancit, who had contact with Teller while stationed at Sentinel Base. Meanwhile, the Emperor conducted his own investigation and questioned both the Koorivar asset Bracchia and his ISB case officer Stellan. The Emperor learned that the ISB had been tipped off by Naval Intelligence, which was a subdivision of Imperial Intelligence.
Meanwhile, Teller's insurgents attack the Imperial facility in the Nouane system but were rebuffed by Imperial lasers. The Carrion Spike sustained heavy damage and the dissidents decided to transfer to Teller's carrier. Despite receiving assurances from Vice Admiral Rancit that they could attack the Imperial Academy on Carida, Teller and his insurgents suspected a trap. They set an empty Carrion Spike to travel on autopilot to Carida. In fact, Rancit had planned to destroy them and the Carrion Spike above Carida to achieve the two-fold goal of destroying evidence of his collusion with insurgents and gaining credit for destroying the insurgents. However, Tarkin and Lord Vader were already aware of Rancit's plan.
Lord Vader traveled to the Carida system and confronted Vice Admiral Rancit aboard the Secutor-class Star Destroyer Conquest. Vader stopped Rancit from destroying the Carrion Spike before executing the traitor. Despite the loss of Rancit, the redeployment of Imperial forces to defend Imperial installations had forced the Empire to divert warships away from protecting the convoy escorts traveling to the marshaling stations that led to the Death Star construction site on Geonosis. While this played into the hands of Teller and his dissidents, Moff Tarkin had already determined the insurgents' true target.
Unaware of Rancit's exposure and execution, Berch Teller's insurgents marshaled all their warships and starfighters to ambush a convoy transporting supplies to the Death Star. The convoy was due to exit hyperspace near the Gulf of Tatooine before traveling to the marshaling stations Pii and Sentinel Base, which led to Geonosis. While the insurgents were unaware about the Death Star's existence, Dr. Artoz suspected that the Empire was building something there. While Artoz believed that any rebellion had a slim chance of success, Teller believed that they should still hold out for hope and do what they could to resist the Empire.
Teller's cell caught the Death Star convoy by surprise. They used their capital ships' firepower and the nimble droid-tri fighters to overwhelm the convoy ships. In desperation, the Imperial escort ships and frigates formed a defensive perimeter around the cargo ships and transports. However, Teller's forces inflicted heavy casualties and damage through attrition. While the insurgents only had a handful of Headhunters and Tikiars, the insurgents' numbers were augmented by large numbers of droid-tri fighters.
Coming to the convoys' aid, Tarkin ordered his V-wings to engage the insurgents' Nebulon-B frigate and Providence-class carrier. When the insurgents repositioned their carrier between Tarkin's Imperial Star Destroyer Executrix and the convoy, Tarkin ordered his gunners to open fire on the Nebulon B-frigate, obliterating it. While the Executrix engaged the remaining carrier, Imperial V-wings fought the insurgents' droid fighters. Tarkin unleashed the Executrix's firepower on the insurgents' carrier, damaging the ship's systems and knocking out the master control computer.
With the insurgents' carrier disabled, Salikk realized that they could not flee into hyperspace and convince Teller to escape on a Z-95 Headhunter to fight another day. Tarkin then led a boarding party aboard the insurgents' carrier. His stormtroopers found thirteen dead crew members in the extant carrier and captured at least 26 insurgents including Anora Fair, Hask Taff, Knotts, and Dr Artoz. When Tarkin questioned them about Teller and taunted them, the insurgents remained silent. When Anora taunted Tarkin that he would fall from his perch and made an obscene gesture, one of the stormtroopers slammed her in the back of the head with his blaster rifle.
The battle near the Gulf of Tatooine marked the collapse of Berch Teller's rebel cell. For the next three weeks, Tarkin with the help of Lord Vader and the Imperial Security Bureau questioned the insurgents. The interrogations confirmed Rancit's collusion with the dissidents in order to boost his career. While the ISB wanted a public execution, the Emperor ordered that they be executed in private to deny them martyrdom. In addition, the Empire took action against the insurgents' collaborators including the warehouse workers and salvagers who supplied them, and several scientists at Desolation Station who had provided information to the insurgents.
As a reward for his services, Tarkin was promoted to the newly–createdposition of Grand Moff and made Governor of the Outer Rim Territories. Grand Moff Tarkin also took steps to maintain the secrecy of the Death Star project. Teller later abandoned his Z-95 Headhunter on Christophsis. He managed to escape offworld and tracked Tarkin down to his homeworld of Eriadu. Teller attempted to assassinate Tarkin in the Carrion Plateau but fell into an improvised pit trap. Following a brief verbal exchange, Tarkin offered to let Teller live if he could climb out of the pit before nightfall, when wild beasts roamed the plateau. Before leaving, Teller warned that Tarkin would die a horrible death. This prophecy was fulfilled when Tarkin perished aboard the Death Star during the Battle of Yavin.
Despite the defeat of Berch Teller's rebel cell, resistance against the Empire continued throughout the galaxy. By 2 BBY, the Empire was facing a galaxy–wide insurgency. That same year, the various rebel cells formed the Rebel Alliance under the leadership of former Senator Mon Mothma. The Alliance regarded Teller as a prime example of how counter-propaganda would be useful against the Galactic Empire and credited him with preserving the memory of the Antar Atrocity.
- Droid tri-fighter
- Variable Geometry Self-Propelled Battle Droid, Mark I
- Z-95 Headhunter
Behind the scenes
Berch Teller and his rebel cell first appeared in James Luceno's 2014 novel Tarkin, the second in a line of new Canon novels published by Del Rey. Teller's rebel cell plays an antagonistic role in the novel, which serves as a rebooted origins story for the eponymous character.
- The Star Wars Book (First identified as Berch Teller's rebel cell)
Notes and references
- The events of Tarkin take place five years after the rise of the Galactic Empire, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 19 BBY. Therefore, Tarkin must be set in 14 BBY.
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow
- Star Wars Rebels – "Secret Cargo"
- Star Wars: The Rebel Files