- "Contrail, when we were with Shadow Squadron, at the Battle of the Kaliida Nebula, your call sign was Shadow Eleven. You flew well."
"I had… a good teacher, sir."
- ―Darth Vader lays the dying Contrail to rest
CT-4981, nicknamed "Contrail," was an experienced clone trooper pilot whose service to the Galactic Republic and its successor state, the Galactic Empire, lasted for over two decades. Born and trained as a soldier for the Republic, Contrail became a member of the Republic Navy's Shadow Squadron and flew under the call sign "Shadow Eleven" during the Battle of the Kaliida Nebula of the Clone Wars in 22 BBY. During that battle, Shadow Squadron aimed to take out the Confederate battleship Malevolence, commanded by General Grievous, before it could destroy the Kaliida Shoals Medical Center. Despite heavy losses, the squadron successfully crippled the warship, allowing the Republic fleet to destroy it. At the end of the battle, Contrail was among the surviving members of Shadow Squadron. After the Clone Wars ended in 19 BBY and the Republic transformed into the Empire, Contrail became a pilot in the Imperial Navy, although two years later, he was demoted to the rank of stormtrooper for disobeying and attacking a superior officer.
Stationed on the planet Hockaleg in 3 ABY, Contrail bore witness to the destruction of the Imperial Tarkin superweapon, which had been under construction in the planet's orbit and was sabotaged by Rebel infiltrators. Taking a shuttle in search of survivors, Contrail located and rescued the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader in his damaged TIE Advanced x1 starfighter and brought him to Hockaleg, only to find that the local population had rebelled against the Imperial rule in the aftermath of the superweapon's destruction. As they tried to retreat to their shuttle, Contrail saved Vader's life by shielding him from enemy blaster fire with his body. Before Contrail died, Vader—who had been known during the Clone Wars as Jedi General Anakin Skywalker, Contrail's commanding officer—comforted the clone trooper, commending his piloting skills.
- "Shadow Eleven standing by."
- ―Contrail checks in before embarking to fight at the Battle of the Kaliida Nebula
A clone of the Mandalorian bounty hunter Jango Fett, the clone trooper designated CT-4981 was bred on the planet Kamino to serve alongside his clone brethren in the Grand Army of the Republic. During the Clone Wars between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, CT-4981—nicknamed "Contrail"—served as a pilot in Shadow Squadron, a Republic starfighter unit led by Jedi General Anakin Skywalker. In 22 BBY, the Confederacy constructed a new warship, the Subjugator-class heavy cruiser Malevolence. Commanded by the Confederate General Grievous and armed with twin powerful ion pulse cannons, the Malevolence inflicted heavy casualties upon Republic forces. Determined to stop Grievous, Skywalker formed a battle plan and gathered Contrail and the rest of Shadow Squadron aboard his flagship, the Venator-class Star Destroyer Resolute, for a briefing.
Realizing that capital ships were no match for the Malevolence, Skywalker planned to use recently acquired BTL-B Y-wing starfighters to slip through the Confederate warship's defenses, strike at its bridge, and kill Grievous. Deducing that Grievous's next target was the Kaliida Shoals Medical Center, a space station where a large number of wounded clone troopers were being treated, Skywalker decided to go through the Balmorra Run, a shortcut that ran through the Kaliida Nebula, in order to arrive there before the Malevolence. Meanwhile, a Republic fleet led by Admiral Wullf Yularen and Jedi General Obi-Wan Kenobi would take a hyperspace route around the nebula and would join the battle later. Contrail, assuming the call sign "Shadow Eleven" and paired with the astromech droid R2-J8, then boarded his Y-wing along with his gunner and followed the rest of Shadow Squadron as they left the Resolute. After checking in with Skywalker, the clone pilots followed him—as well as Skywalker's Padawan, Ahsoka Tano, and Jedi Master Plo Koon—to hyperspace.
When Contrail and his companions emerged from hyperspace and entered the nebula, they found themselves amidst a flock of giant neebray mantas native to that region. In order to avoid colliding with them, Skywalker ordered Shadow Squadron to assume single-file Bantha formation and follow his lead. The squadron successfully navigated the nebula, although pilot Matchstick's fighter was damaged in a brush with a manta. As a result of another brush, Contrail's astromech was destroyed when his dome was cut off. As soon as Contrail and the rest of the pilots emerged from the nebula and reached the medical station, the Malevolence emerged from hyperspace and approached the station, whose patients were being evacuated by Pelta-class frigates. After Grievous disabled the retreating evacuation frigates, Skywalker led Shadow Squadron in an attack on the Malevolence's bridge.
However, the warship fired its massive ion cannons, disabling almost half of Skywalker's forces, while more clone troopers fell to fire from weapon emplacements protecting the bridge. Convinced by Tano and Koon that the direct assault on the bridge would not succeed, Skywalker changed his plans and led Contrail and the surviving members of Shadow Squadron in an attack on the warship's starboard ion cannon, inflicting heavy damage to it. The attack resulted in both weapons exploding when Grievous tried to fire the damaged cannon; the resulting explosion also damaged the Malevolence's hyperdrive. Kenobi's and Yularen's fleet then arrived and chased the crippled warship away from the medical station, allowing the three Jedi, Contrail, and the remainder of the squadron to land aboard the station to regroup and refuel. Eventually, the Malevolence was destroyed, although Grievous escaped. Contrail continued to serve with Shadow Squadron throughout the remainder of the war and witnessed the transformation of the Republic into the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY. He was subsequently absorbed into the Stormtrooper Corps and continued his piloting career in the Imperial Navy.
- "You're aware that I'm a clone, sir?"
"Well, twenty years ago, after Shadow Squadron was disbanded, I hit a commanding officer—a non-clone. When he ordered me to kill my gunner—who had been wounded in combat, but not mortally—I refused. And when my commanding officer tried to shoot me for refusing, I broke his jaw. I spent a year in solitary."
- ―Contrail tells Darth Vader about his demotion
Two years later, in 17 BBY, Shadow Squadron was disbanded, but Contrail continued his service as an Imperial pilot, serving under a non-clone officer. On one occasion, Contrail's clone gunner was severely—but not fatally—wounded. The officer ordered Contrail to kill the gunner, but Contrail refused to do so, since the gunner was his friend. The officer then attempted to shoot Contrail for insubordination, but the clone fought back and broke the commander's jaw. Contrail was taken into custody and sentenced to a year-long imprisonment in a solitary cell. After he had served his term, Contrail was demoted to the rank of a common stormtrooper. The clone gunner whose life Contrail had saved survived his wound but was killed months later during a bombing run. For the next nineteen years, Contrail loyally served the Empire. In 3 ABY, he was stationed on the planet Hockaleg, where the Tarkin superweapon was being constructed in orbit of the planet. Placed in charge of the local Imperial garrison, Contrail's task was to maintain order among Hockaleg's population, which had been forcefully conscripted to work at Hockaleg's spaceport.
During one shift at the spaceport, shortly after he had cleared a transport for the Tarkin, Contrail was approached by a young trooper designated TK-813, who informed the clone trooper that the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Vader was aboard the Tarkin at the moment. Ensuring that none of the workers were listening to them, Contrail asked TK-813 how he had discovered that, and the young trooper replied that trooper TK-529 had heard that information at the troopers' headquarters. Contrail believed that the laborers were not fond of the Empire and suspected that there could even be Rebel spies among them, who could exploit the information regarding Vader's presence. As such, Contrail promised the young trooper to take him and TK-529 to the headquarters at the next rotation in order to remind them about maintaining protocol and distributing information on a need-to-know basis. At that moment, however, Contrail witnessed an explosion in the sky; the Tarkin had been destroyed by a Rebel Alliance strike team. Without any hesitation, Contrail rushed to a nearby shuttle and set off into space to search for survivors of the explosion.
He soon came upon a damaged TIE Advanced x1, the personal starfighter of Darth Vader, who had survived the superweapon's destruction and was drifting in space. Vader signaled Contrail with his fighter's running lights; when the pilot approached the fighter, he saw Vader pointing at his craft's egress hatch. Understanding Vader's intent, Contrail positioned his shuttle as close to the hatch as possible and opened the shuttle's starboard airlock. Vader then opened the TIE's hatch and drifted through space into the shuttle. After Vader—who had been known as Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars—entered the shuttle's cockpit, he recognized the pilot as a former clone trooper and demanded to know why the craft was being piloted by a stormtrooper instead of an Imperial pilot. Contrail told Vader about his service after the Clone Wars and offered to take the Sith Lord to his personal Super Star Destroyer, the Executor, stationed nearby, but the latter declined. Instead, he ordered Contrail to take him to Hockaleg and leave a distress strobe at his fighter so that it could be picked up by the Executor's crew.
When they approached the planet, and Contrail tried to receive clearance to land from the spaceport authorities, no one responded on the comlink. Vader ordered him to proceed with the landing anyway, and the two soon emerged from the shuttle at the Hockaleg spaceport. They then heard blaster fire and witnessed a stormtrooper running toward them from an alleyway, shooting back at someone. When the trooper, fatally wounded, collapsed at Contrail's feet, the latter recognized him as TK-813. Before dying, TK-813 told Contrail that the laborers had rebelled after the destruction of the Tarkin and attacked the Imperial headquarters. Vader decided to return to the shuttle, advising Contrail to keep close. As they approached the shuttle, however, the two were attacked by a group of laborers. Ordering Contrail to prepare the shuttle for takeoff, Vader disarmed one group of attackers with the help of the Force, but he did not notice another group that approached him from behind. Determined to protect his superior, Contrail disobeyed the order and shielded Vader from enemy blaster fire with his own body. As Contrail fell on the ground with mortal wounds, Vader approached him and comforted him in his final moments, commending his piloting skill at the Battle of the Kaliida Nebula. Acknowledging Anakin Skywalker as a good mentor, Contrail passed away. Vader, stirred by his death, proceeded to slaughter the laborers who had attacked them with his lightsaber, not paying attention to their pleas for mercy.
Personality and traitsEdit
- "If you were to serve under my command, would you ever disobey an order?"
"Yes, sir, but only if it helped you to live longer."
- ―Darth Vader and Contrail
Like all clone troopers, Contrail stood 1.83 meters tall, and, like his progenitor, Jango Fett, he had brown eyes. Due to the clone troopers' accelerated aging, Contrail was fairly old by the time of his death. His hair had become mostly white, and his face was heavily lined with age and covered in scars, although he retained Fett's distinctive gravelly voice and the clone troopers' clipped manner of speech. As the commander of the Hockaleg garrison, Contrail was very strict regarding maintaining proper protocol, and he wanted to rebuke TK-813 and TK-529 for recklessly discussing classified information. He addressed his fellow stormtroopers by their designations and was confused when TK-813 called TK-529 by his nickname, "Grimes." The clone trooper was cautious, believing that the laborers on Hockaleg did not like the Empire and that there were Rebel spies among them. The former observation proved true when the people rebelled after the destruction of the Tarkin. Contrail was decisive and quick-thinking, embarking on the search for survivors immediately after the superweapon's explosion.
A veteran soldier who spent his entire life in service to the Republic and the Empire, Contrail still displayed a streak of independence. He was unwilling to kill a fellow clone and attacked the officer who ordered him to do so. Although the clone gunner whom Contrail had saved died shortly thereafter, essentially rendering Contrail's rebellion meaningless, the clone trooper did not regret his decision, feeling glad that it had helped the gunner live a little longer and realizing that everyone was destined to die someday. Although Vader was used to instilling fear in his subordinates, he did not sense any fear in Contrail, nor did he feel the need to try to make the clone trooper afraid of him. On the contrary, the Dark Lord was impressed by Contrail's strong composure and felt reliability and loyalty exuding from the clone through the Force. When Vader asked Contrail if he would ever disobey his orders, the clone admitted that he would if it helped save Vader's life. Contrail later did exactly that when he found himself feeling unable to leave Vader alone near the shuttle and ended up saving his life. When Vader commended his flying at the Kaliida Nebula, calling him by nickname despite the fact that the clone had only used his numerical designation in Vader's presence, Contrail was not surprised. With his last words, he said that he considered Anakin Skywalker a good teacher.
Skills and abilitiesEdit
- "And you are an experienced pilot."
- ―Darth Vader and Contrail
Contrail was an expert pilot, capable of handling different vehicles, from the Y-wing starfighter to a boxy Imperial shuttle. His skill allowed him to survive the Battle of the Kaliida Nebula and was noted by Darth Vader, who was an adept pilot himself. When Contrail maneuvered the shuttle in position to take Vader aboard, the Sith Lord took notice of his expertly handled moves.
During the Battle of the Kaliida Nebula, Contrail wore a pilot's variant of Phase I clone trooper armor, with the Galactic Republic's crest printed on his helmet. When he was stationed on Hockaleg, he was clad in standard stormtrooper armor, complete with a backpack and a pauldron, and was armed with a blaster rifle.
Behind the scenesEdit
CT-4981 first appeared in "Shadow of Malevolence," the third episode of the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series, which first aired on October 10, 2008, although an image of him from the episode was featured prior to that in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Visual Guide. Identified only as "Shadow Eleven," he, like all clone troopers in the show, was voiced by Dee Bradley Baker. In August of 2011, "Shadow Eleven" was identified as "Contrail" in Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Incredible Vehicles. Shortly thereafter, he appeared as a main character in Vader Adrift, a short story written by Ryder Windham and illustrated by Joe Corroney. Published in Star Wars Insider Special Edition 2012 in November of 2011, the short story provided Contrail with his clone designation and featured his death on Hockaleg.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shadow of Malevolence" (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Lightsaber Duels (Appears in flashback(s))
- "Vader Adrift"—Star Wars Insider Special Edition 2012 (First identified as CT-4981)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: The Visual Guide (First pictured)
- Ultimate Sticker Collection: Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Ultimate Battles (Picture only)
- (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Incredible Vehicles (First identified as Contrail)
- (Picture only)
- The Essential Reader's Companion
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 The Essential Reader's Companion
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 3.23 "Vader Adrift"—Star Wars Insider Special Edition 2012
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Shadow of Malevolence"
- ↑ The Official Star Wars Fact File Part 24 (22 BBY 87–88, The Malevolence Campaign)
- ↑ The Clone Wars Campaign Guide
- ↑ The Clone Wars: Procedure
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Incredible Vehicles
- ↑ Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Destroy Malevolence"
- ↑ The New Essential Chronology
- ↑ "Vader Adrift" states that Shadow Squadron was disbanded two years after the formation of the Galactic Empire, which took place in 19 BBY, according to The New Essential Chronology.
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones