- "My old stomping grounds, Despayre. A terrible place to visit, and in fact you couldn't anyway, 'cause once you're there, you're there. But it looks nice from this far away. ...No, actually, it still looks awful."
- ―Celot Ratua Dil
Despayre, originally Horuz, was a penal/slave world in the Horuz system and the place where the first Death Star was constructed and completed, after being relocated many times to avoid Rebel saboteurs and Intelligence.
Construction of the First Death Star
The shipyard that created the Galactic Empire's ultimate weapon became the center of the Imperial war machine when construction was moved from Geonosis to Despayre. Components from almost all major corporations of the galaxy were sent to this planet, and labor was found on the penal and slave colonies below. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin visited the system on many occasions to oversee the construction, bringing with him Imperial enslaved Wookiees from Kashyyyk of the Kashyyyk system, shortly after the Empire's formation.
Despayre's death knell was sounded with the arrival of Darth Vader. Dispatched by Emperor Palpatine to accelerate the construction process, Vader personally oversaw dozens of executions to push forward the process. The Imperial Navy severely restricted starship traffic in the Despayre system: only official military vessels, prison ships and armed commercial freighters from corporations supplying starships components could enter. Separate governing administrations operated the surface penal colony and orbital stardock facilities.
From the moment the decision was made to begin construction in the planet's upper orbit, there would have been no scenario in which the Imperial convict labor force would have been spared a terrible end. When the Death Star was completed, the construction process left behind a shroud of industrial debris in orbit, making passage to and from the surface virtually impossible. This was anticipated and provided for; Despayre was intended to be declared off-limits, and the prisoners and slaves would have been expected to fend for themselves, either until their supplies ran out or until the jungle came in. But the convicts never did endure this slow form of death; after repeated and costly mistakes, Tarkin concluded that they made for a terrible work force. They were not trained, they were physically challenged, and they were mentally unstable. Rather than hope for an improvement, Tarkin decided to cut his losses and ordered the immediate execution of the entire work crew. From then on, mostly Wookiee conscripts were used in the construction.
After the Corellian Treaty was signed in 2 BBY, the Empire repeatedly relocated the Death Star from Despayre to at least five different worlds, which included Coruscant, Fondor, Ryloth, Eriadu and Geonosis, to avoid Rebel sabotage or uncovered information.[source?]
The Destruction of Despayre
Despayre itself would also be, in a sense, "executed." Tarkin decided to celebrate the completion of his battle station by testing its superlaser weapon on Despayre, destroying the planet, shortly before they destroyed Alderaan, which took three waves. One of his close advisers and officers, Admiral Conan Antonio Motti, attempted to point out the potential political fallout from such an action. Tarkin refused to hear it; to him, the population of the planet consisted of nothing more than numerous Imperial alien slaves and condemned criminals sentenced for life, none of whom would ever be returning to civilization, and all of whom constituted an unnecessary burden on Imperial troops and resources. In any case, he would not take his station into battle without knowing what his biggest weapon would do when he needed to use it.
At the time Tarkin gave the order, the superlaser was not yet functioning at full power; in fact, it was at a mere one third of its total projected power. But the first shot was still sufficient to kill every living thing on the planet. The atmosphere ignited and created a chain reaction that damaged and sterilized the entire planetary surface. Physical surface damage was extreme; groundquakes and volcanic eruptions joined with great waves caused by the shifting of tectonic plates on the ocean floor.
The second shot, fired an hour and fifteen minutes after the first to allow the capacitors time to recharge, caused massive kilometers-wide cracks in the planet itself. The molten core rushed to the surface through a myriad of new volcanoes. While the weapon spent another hour and nineteen minutes recharging for a third volley, the chain reaction continued, leaving the planet little more than a cinder. The third and final shot blew that cinder into billions of fragments. The gravitational alignments within the Horuz system itself shifted as the source of one of the gravity wells, the planet Despayre, was erased, which presumably consumed its sole moon Haroon in the process.
The Rebellion, having just learned of the Death Star's location from the captured frigate Priam, dispatched corvette group Ethar, comprising two CR90 corvettes, Ethar 1 and 2, to investigate. The Alliance ships arrived to find only the remnants of the former slave planet and a trap set by Imperial forces. Both corvettes were captured by the Empire.
The surface of Despayre consisted of one large continent and one considerably larger ocean body. The landmass was mostly covered in jungle, and the planet was home to an abundance of species. The planet had a low gravity of less than 0.75 standard gravity and an erratic orbit which created tidal forces that set the conditions for harsh seasonal gales. This in turn influenced the evolution of life on the planet, creating a harsh ecological system. These species presumably became extinct when the planet was destroyed.
The jungle flora responded to this environmental challenge by producing large, close-knit growths that stabbed roots deep into the ground, creating completely impenetrable patches of rain forest in some places. The majority of plant life on Despayre had poisonous thorns, barbs or burrs. Specific known species include:
The animal life on Despayre had adapted by becoming sinuous and serpentine, as this allowed better mobility through the tightly interwoven vines and boles. Species representative of the animal life on Despayre include poisonous crustaceans, small winged lizards and a manta-like creature that had an interesting life cycle that began in the ocean and ended in the jungle. Generally, most creatures had fangs and were venomous in some way. Specific known species include:
Behind the scenes
The Rebellion Era Sourcebook erroneously refers to Despayre as the planet "Horuz," a simple conflation of the system's name.
- Coruscant Nights I: Jedi Twilight (Mentioned only)
- The Last of the Jedi: Secret Weapon (Mentioned only)
- The Last of the Jedi: Master of Deception (Mentioned only)
- The Last of the Jedi: Reckoning (Mentioned only)
- The Force Unleashed novel
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed comic (In flashback(s))
- Dark Forces: Soldier for the Empire (Mentioned only)
- Death Star
- Interlude at Darkknell (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Battlefront: Elite Squadron (Mentioned only) (Nintendo DS version)
- Star Wars: Lethal Alliance
- Star Wars: X-Wing (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Rebellion
- The Last Command (Mentioned only)
- The Last Command audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Darksaber (Mentioned only)
- Death Star Technical Companion (First mentioned)
- The Movie Trilogy Sourcebook
- Death Star Technical Companion, Second Edition
- Star Wars Technical Journal of the Imperial Forces
- Galaxy Guide 1: A New Hope, Second Edition
- The Essential Guide to Characters
- Star Wars Trilogy Sourcebook, Special Edition
- The Essential Chronology
- Star Wars: Rebellion: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Third Edition, Revised and Expanded
- Rebellion Era Sourcebook (as "Horuz")
- The Official Star Wars Fact File (Under The Creation of the Death Star)
- Inside the Worlds of Star Wars Trilogy
- Star Wars: Complete Locations
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 9
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- Star Wars: The Card Game – Core Set (Card: Death and Despayre) (backup link)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars Comic UK 6.45
- Star Wars: Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook (as Horuz)
- Death Star Owner's Technical Manual
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook (as Horuz)