- "Failure is not acceptable. This Empire has no use for weakness."
- ―Cumberlayne Aresko
Cumberlayne Aresko, operating number: "LRC-01," was a human male who served as an officer in the Galactic Empire. In 3272 LY, Aresko held the title of Commandant and was stationed in Capital City, on the planet Lothal. Along with Taskmaster Myles Grint, he was charged with training cadets at the local Imperial Academy, as well as all other academies throughout the planet. Along with Grint, he once tried to arrest the merchant Yoffar for treason, but a timely distraction by Ezra Bridger saved Yoffar from a potentially sad demise.
Aresko and Grint, attempted to stop the activities of the rebel crew of the Ghost on numerous occasions, employing ineffective tactics that often failed due to Aresko's overconfidence and lack of tactical ability. Due to their multiple failures, they were executed by The Grand Inquisitor, on the orders of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.
Born on the Outer Rim planet Lothal, Cumberlayne Aresko was the Commandant of the Academy for Young Imperials on his homeworld. He and his aide Taskmaster Myles Grint were tasked with administrating the Academy and training its recruits. About five years before the Battle of Yavin, Aresko and Grint attended a farewell party that was intended to celebrate the acceptance of Dhara Leonis to the Imperial Academy. Her parents Leo and Tepha Leonis were agricultural scientists who worked for the Empire's Ministry of Agriculture and had recently relocated to Lothal's Capital City. When Dhara's family, including her younger brother Zare Leonis, visited the Academy during that year's Visiting Day, Aresko gave a speech during the welcoming ceremony.
Following Dhara's mysterious "disappearance" during a training exercise in the Easthills, Commandant Aresko visited the Leonsises' household to inform them that their daughter had run away from the Imperial Academy. Aresko informed Dhara's parents and brother that she had disappeared without any signs of a struggle and had taken her backpack and supplies. Aresko also asked the Leonises whether Dhara had shown any signs of unhappiness, which was promptly denied by her parents. In response to Dhara's "disappearance," the Commandant issued an alert to all security forces on Lothal to look out for Cadet Dhara and also sent a similar alert to the Imperial customs and identification-processing databases. He promised the Leonises that the Empire would avail every effort to find their daughter.
Later that year, Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint attended a farewell party to celebrate Dhara's younger brother Zare's successful application to study at the Imperial Academy. During the function, Aresko and Grint monopolized the trays of dainties that the Leonises' family droid Auntie Nags had brought out for the guests. Unknown to Aresko, Zare was planning to infiltrate the Academy in order to find Dhara and to learn about the Empire's inner workings so that he could help the growing Rebellion.
At some point, Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint participated in the arrest of the corrupt Imperial Security Bureau Lieutenant Jenkes, who had murdered his superior Lieutenant Herdringer and ran an illegal gladiatorial event at Monad Outpost. The bounty hunter Bossk and the local street urchin Ezra Bridger had exposed Jenkes' illegal activities to the Imperial authorities on Lothal. Bossk also received a personal guarantee from Aresko and Grint that they would never hear from Jenkes again.
Spark of rebellion
Aresko and Grint were bullying a merchant in Capital City when he had his comlink stolen by Ezra Bridger, who used it to fool the Imperials into responding to a false alarm. Moments later, he witnessed an explosion caused by the crew of the Ghost in attempt to steal a shipment of E-11 blaster rifles. He stood idly by while Grint and Yogar Lyste attempted to stop the heist. Later that night, Aresko reported to Agent Kallus who had arrived on Lothal to respond to a series of attacks by the Ghost crew. The ISB agent assured the commandant that he was not the first to be attacked by them, which Aresko expressed his relief for, not wishing to be held responsible.
Traitors in the Ranks
The following year, Commandant Aresko addressed the cadets who had survived the orientation phase. Besides congratulating the cadets, Aresko announced that transfer cadets would be brought in from Lothal's other regional academies to replace those who had washed out during the orientation period. Aresko then proceeded to announce that the cadets would embark on a series of assessments for the rest of the term. These tests were designed to test their physical prowess, mental acuity, leadership skills, and strategic adaptability. He also informed the cadets that these assessments would be conducted in a purpose-built facility called the Well, which could be remotely configured to simulate a wide variety of obstacle courses and challenges.
Later that year, Commandant Aresko gave an address to cadets and parents on Visiting Day. As the term progressed, Aresko gave conditional approval for the Imperial cadets to begin field training after the winter break. He believed that the cadets were ready to practice at being soldiers. Prior to the winter break, Aresko and Grint picked the Academy's most promising cadets, Units Aurek and Besh, for a week of assessments. After the cadets entered the Well, Aresko told them that they would leave the Academy in a few short weeks as soldiers and asked them whether they were prepared to serve the Empire as stormtroopers. To encourage competition among the cadets, Aresko rewarded the top three winners with work details at the Imperial Complex in Capital City. He also warned that the losers would have to work for Taskmaster Grint.
During the first assessment, the cadets had to use floating repulsorlift platforms to climb out of the Well. To intensify the competition, Aresko remotely electrified select platforms; causing Cadet Giles to fall back into the Well. The first three cadets to emerge out of the Well were "Dev Morgan" (alias Ezra Bridger), Jai Kell, and Zare Leonis. As a reward, these cadets were assigned to work at the Imperial Complex. Unknown to Aresko, two of the youths had ulterior motives for winning the assessment. The first boy Bridger had infiltrated the Academy to steal a decoder containing the coordinates of a kyber crystal shipment. The second boy, Zare, the younger brother of Dhara, had wanted to infiltrate the Imperial Complex to find information about his missing sister. Morgan and Leonis made a secret agreement to work together to steal a decoder from Agent Kallus' office. Putting their plan into action, the two cadets resolved to win the second assessment.
During the second assessment, Commandant Aresko announced that the cadets had to use their blasters to activate the repulsorlift platforms. When Morgan purposely shoved Kell back into the Well, Aresko took the opportunity to lecture the cadets that that victory could not be sacrificed for the sake of friendship. He also informed the cadets that the winners for tomorrow's trial would be rewarded with a training session aboard an All Terrain Defense Pod. Unknown to Aresko, Morgan's actions advanced his plot to secure a work detail at the Imperial Complex so that he and Leonis could steal Kallus' decoder.
Following the second assessment, Commandant Aresko contacted The Grand Inquisitor via holographic projector to inform him that Cadets Morgan and Jai Kell had met his "special requirements." He also described Morgan's performance as being "too impressive"; hinting that the boy was Force-sensitive. Pleased with Aresko's report, the Inquisitor announced that he would be visiting the Academy the following day to assess both boys. If they indeed met his "special criteria," he would take them into custody.
Unknown to Aresko, Morgan (alias Bridger) had been eavesdropping on his conversation. Under his nose Bridger, Kell, and Leonis began plotting to escape the academy. When he rewarded cadets Kell, Leonis, and Oleg with a ride aboard an AT-DP walker, the turncoats quickly put their plan into effect. After knocking out the driver and Oleg, Kell and Leonis hijacked the walker and attempted to breach the main blast doors. The hijackers got their signal from an explosion which damaged one of the legs of another AT-DP walker. This explosive had been planted by Chopper, one of Bridger's rebel associates, who had infiltrated the Academy disguised as an Imperial astromech droid.
During the rebel attack, Aresko and Grint did little more than stand aside commenting on the unfolding chaos. When he witnessed Morgan climbing aboard the hijacked AT-DP, he assumed that the cadet was trying to fight off the rebel insurgents. Despite being hit by a blast from an Imperial Troop Transport, the AT-DP managed to breach the blast door where Bridger and Kell were picked up by Bridger's rebel associates. However, Leonis elected to stay behind to find his sister and pretended to fire on the rebels' landspeeder when Aresko and Grint arrived with a squad of stormtroopers.
Following the rebel attack, Commandant Aresko awarded Leonis with a commendation for fighting back against the rebel infiltrators. The Commandant was unaware that Leonis was connected to the rebels and bought his story that he had attempted to stop Morgan and Kell. Aresko brought Cadet Leonis into Agent Kallus' office for a meeting with the Grand Inquisitor. During the meeting, he warned Aresko that this failure was a "black mark" for the Academy. While the Inquisitor did not recognize Kell, he recalled that Morgan was part of a rebel cell that he had encountered earlier on Stygeon Prime.
Following the rebel attack on the Imperial Academy, Commandant Aresko gave an address to Squad LRC077 at the assessment hall. During the address, he announced that the cadets would be assisting Imperial law enforcement operations on Lothal following the winter break. In response to the rebel attack, Aresko announced that all cadets would undergo questioning to determine their fitness for Imperial service. The cadets would be questioned about their own conduct as well as that of their fellow cadets. To allay the cadets' fears, he assured them that none of them were to blame for befriending the two rebel infiltrators.
Later, Commandant Aresko was charged with organizing the Empire Day celebrations in Lothal's Capital City. During the parade, Aresko attempted to ingratiate himself to Minister Tua only to be sharply rebuked for referring to the event as a mere "spectacle." However, Tua did commend him for a fireworks display that he did not arrange. Confused and hoping to save face, he merely thanked the Minister but privately displayed some concern, which proved legitimate as the fireworks ended up being a distraction employed by the Spectres to destroy the new prototype TIE Advanced v1 starfighter that Tua had just presented to the public for demonstration. The resulting explosion knocked him, Tua, and Flight Baron Valen Rudor off their feet and plunged the event into chaos. Aresko once again proved incapable of action as Minister Tua took charge.
In response to the attack, Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint assembled a host of stormtroopers, armed transports and walkers to block the Capital City's exits. For his part, Aresko used an Imperial Troop Transport and an AT-DP walker to guard his exit. Meanwhile, the Spectres succeeded in rescuing the Rodian fugitive Tseebo and hijacking another Imperial Troop Transport. Confident that his roadblock would be sufficient to stop the rebels from escaping, he boldly ordered them to stop as they approached in their hijacked transport. However, the rebel driver Sabine Wren continued at the same pace straight for the officer; realizing that she had no intention of stopping, and that remaining where he was wouldn't be good for his long-term health, Aresko dived aside as the transport obliterated his own. The rebel transport also smashed through the leg of the AT-DP walker, causing it topple over. Commandant Aresko could only look on in frustration and defeat as Agent Kallus continued the pursuit. Despite the Imperials' best efforts, the Spectres succeeded in escaping offworld with Tseebo.
Zare Leonis' transfer
Following the Spectres' attack on the Empire Day celebrations, Commandant Aresko gave his approval to Lieutenant Chiron's recommendation that the Cadet Zare Leonis to be transferred to the Arkanis Academy during the next fall. Aresko still held Leonis in warm regard for his purported role in fighting off the rebel infiltrators who had attacked the Academy earlier that year. Chiron believed that the fair-minded Leonis would make an ideal candidate for officer training and also wanted protect him from Captain Piers Roddance, who rightfully believed that Leonis was connected to Dev Morgan's rebel cell. Roddance objected to this planned transfer but was ultimately overruled by the Grand Inquisitor, who wanted to break Leonis and uncover his connection to Morgan. The Grand Inquisitor arranged for Leonis' transfer to be fast-tracked to a matter of days under the pretext of rewarding the young Cadet for exposing his fellow Cadet Oleg's criminal "associations."
Aresko's string of failures did not go unnoticed by the Imperial authorities. In response, Assessor Potalla was dispatched from Coruscant to evaluate Aresko's suitability for his post. Potalla grilled Aresko and Grint for their multiple failures, but Aresko defended them claiming they had learned from their mistakes. Realizing they were in danger of being replaced by Potalla's aide Dunum, Aresko reassured a nervous Grint that they had worked too long and hard to lose their positions and would have to ensure the assessor saw them in a positive light by any means necessary. He decided to frame Officer Dunum for treason, thus eliminating their rival and making themselves look good in the process.
With the approval of Aresko, Grint arranged for a lapse in the Academy's security system which allowed the rebel Sabine Wren to obtain access codes which allowed her to infiltrate the Academy. Grint also programmed a probe droid to stun Dunum who had Wren at gunpoint. Following the attack, Aresko provided this fabricated evidence which implicated Dunun for treason. Potalla immediately had the officer arrested for treason and claimed that this act would make a difference in her final report. Aresko and Grint believed they were reprieved and walked away from the assessment feeling smug and relieved. However, Potalla reported to Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin that they had become complacent in their duties and suggested that he intervene personally.
Final failure and death
- "Commandant Cumberlayne Aresko and Taskmaster Myles Grint reporting."
"Gentlemen. Sit. I understand you have experience dealing with these insurgents."
"Oh, yes, sir."
"And your efforts have been less than successful?"
"W-Well, I, uh I wouldn't say—"
"Commandant, if your efforts had been successful, we would not be having this little chat."
- ―Wilhuff Tarkin and Aresko
Shortly after the arrival of Grand Moff Tarkin on Lothal, Aresko and Grint made one last attempt to trap the Lothal rebel band. The Spectres Ezra, Kanan, and Sabine had ambushed Taskmaster Myles Grint's weekly convoy and made off with several supplies on their speeder bikes. Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint pursued the rebels in their Imperial Troop Transport, accompanied by five Imperial troopers on military-grade bikes. Their pursuit took them through the streets of the town of Jalath. When the rebels entered a small town, Aresko gave orders for his biker troops to flank them and prevent them escaping. The plan failed as the rebels subdued all of his men in the streets of Jalath. This incident in Jalath was Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint's fourth and final failed attempt to apprehend the Spectres.
Commandant Aresko's latest failure did not escape the notice of the visiting Grand Moff Tarkin. The following morning, Tarkin summoned Aresko and Grint along with their Imperial comrades Minister Maketh Tua, Agent Kallus, and the Inquisitor for a private dawn meeting. Commandant Aresko and Taskmaster Grint were the last to arrive for the meeting and sat at front of Tarkin's desk. Settling down immediately to business, the Grand Moff questioned Aresko and Grint about their experiences in dealing with the Lothal insurgents. Aresko acknowledged this was the case while Grint informed Tarkin about their latest failed attempt to apprehend the rebels in the outlying town of Jalath.
Aresko also admitted the operation was a failure and reported that the rebels had stolen some supplies and escaped on speeder bikes. However, he added that the rebels did not inflict any casualties on his men, which led the Grand Moff to concur that the Lothal rebel band was more principled than other rebel cells. Aresko and Grint were genuinely bemused to learn from Tarkin that there were other rebel cells, tribes, and factions operating in the Galaxy. Tarkin then went on to discuss the presence of the Jedi known as Kanan Jarrus in that cell. Aresko acknowledged that this was indeed the case and commented that the Jedi lived up to his reputation. During the meeting, the Inquisitor hovered over the two Imperial commanding officers.
Tarkin then chastised the Commandant and Taskmaster for their repeated failures to apprehend the Spectres since that allowed the rebels to undermine the Empire's security. To demonstrate the consequences of any further failures, the Inquisitor, on Tarkin's command, swiftly executed Aresko and Grint by beheading them with one stroke of his lightsaber. Tarkin's ruthless execution of Aresko and Grint horrified Tua and Kallus, who had regarded the two men as incompetent but loyal Imperials. The Grand Moff then used this execution as an opportunity to remind his Lothal subordinates that failure would have deadly consequences from then on.
Personality and traits
- "There is no friendship in war. The only thing that matters is victory. Victory at any cost."
- ―Cumberlayne Aresko
Aresko was a tall, thin, exceedingly pale human with a "cadaverous" appearance. Aresko exhibited the typical air of arrogance common amongst Imperial officers. Overconfident, self-important and cruel, Aresko commanded respect from his underlings, though his haughty and confident display masked his inner fear of his superiors. His cowardly nature revealed itself whenever he had to report to Agent Kallus or the Grand Inquisitor, as he would timidly spout excuses or attempt to shift blame from himself.
As an officer, he was ruthless and self-preserving. He was also corrupt and dishonest, willing to incriminate fellow officers for treason. Whereas Kallus would lead his men into battle, Aresko typically shouted orders from the sidelines and was quick to protect himself rather than his men, moreover he appeared unable to adapt to any situation once his initial plans had failed. He was typically seen as the brains to Grint's brawn, yet despite being better spoken than his assistant, he rarely proved to be any more competent.
While Aresko professed loyalty to the Empire, his self-preservation made him more loyal to himself. He proved willing to commit treasonous acts to save his own skin, as proven when he secretly aided Sabine Wren in breaking into the Imperial Academy as part of his scheme to frame another officer for treason.
Behind the scenes
Cumberlayne Aresko, like his partner Myles Grint, was voiced by David Shaughnessy in Star Wars Rebels. Initially, the original script of the episode "Call to Action" didn't have The Grand Inquisitor executing Aresko and Grint on Wilhuff Tarkin's orders, but Dave Filoni added it later to introduce Tarkin to a new young audience.
Notes and references
- Star Wars Rebels: Head to Head
- Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide indicates that Cumberlayne Aresko is in his late 30s. Given that Star Wars Rebels Season One takes place in 5 BBY according to Star Wars: Galactic Atlas, we can deduce using simple math that he was born between 42 BBY and 44 BBY.
- Star Wars Rebels – "Call to Action"
- Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide
- Dawn of Rebellion
- Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion
- Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy
- Ezra's Gamble
- Servants of the Empire: Rebel in the Ranks
- Star Wars Rebels – "Breaking Ranks"
- Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice
- Star Wars Rebels – "Empire Day"
- "Assessment"—Star Wars Rebels Magazine 11
- Battle to the End