- "Rebel base identified. Designation: Imperial infiltrator droid EXD-9. Assignment: Atollon. Target: rebels."
- ―EXD-9, preparing to attack the rebels
In 2 BBY, the Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn began deploying E-XD-series infiltrator droids to several Outer Rim planets. One of them, EXD-9, landed on Atollon, home of Phoenix Cell's Chopper Base. EXD-9 was soon ambushed by several krykna spiders and knocked out. The damaged Infiltrator droid was later found by Captain Garazeb Orrelios and Chopper, who brought the droid back to their base. Mistaking EXD-9 for a protocol droid, they assigned it to help AP-5 manage the base depot's inventory. After learning that EXD-9 was an Imperial Infiltrator droid, Zeb, Chopper and AP-5 joined forces to overpower and deactivate the droid. To prevent the Empire from discovering the location of Chopper Base, the rebels sent it back to its Star Destroyer with its proton warhead set to detonate when the droid reconnected to the Imperial network. EXD-9 subsequently managed to destroy the Star Destroyer, but the incident Thrawn helped narrow down his search for the rebel base to the 94 systems where the droids had been sent.
In 2 BBY,[source?] Grand Admiral Thrawn began deploying E-XD-series infiltrator droids to sweep the Outer Rim Territories for rebel bases. Against Imperial mandate, these droids were fitted with a proton warhead that would self-destruct in the event that they were captured. The droids had two forms: combat mode, in which they were extremely fast and agile; and protocol mode, in which they appeared to be harmless protocol droids. One of these droids, EXD-9, landed on the planet Atollon, which was the location of Phoenix Cell's Chopper Base. After landing, EXD-9 was attacked by two krykna, tough spider-like creatures native to the planet, and temporarily disabled.
EXD-9's arrival coincided with most of the Phoenix rebels, including most of the Spectres, departing on a training exercise. The Lasat warrior Garazeb Orrelios was tasked with overseeing the base's security. The rest of the stay-behind party included the C1-series astromech droid Chopper, the RA-7 protocol droid AP-5, and a communications officer stationed at the command center. After the comms officer reported that a sensor beacon in Sector 6 had apparently been knocked out by meteors, Zeb and Chopper went to investigate.
Upon arriving, Zeb and Chopper, after replacing the sensor beacon, found EXD-9 amidst a pile of dead krykna. They mistook it for an old protocol droid. Taking pity on the stray, damaged droid, Zeb brought EXD-9 back to Chopper Base. Chopper suggested destroying the droid right then and there, but Zeb overruled him. At the base, AP-5 recharged the droid, who began scanning the depot. Due to damage sustained from the krykna attack, EXD-9 did not initially remember its mission. Believing that EXD-9 would make a good inventory droid, AP-5 hired the "protocol droid" as his assistant.
Later, Zeb received a transmission from Fulcrum warning that the Empire had deployed Infiltrator droids and that they had lost contact with one of them. After viewing the schematics, Zeb realized that EXD-9 was an Infiltrator droid. Fulcrum was actually the disillusioned Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kallus, who had been aiding the rebellion by providing them with intelligence on Imperial activity since his encounter with Zeb on Bahryn. Kallus had recently been alerted that one of the Infiltrator droids had failed to report back and, suspecting that the rebels had it, had stalled for time by claiming that the Empire did not have time to chase down every instance of temporary comm failure, and that they would only investigate if the droid failed to report back in one cycle. In his transmission, he also warned that if the droid did not report back, the Empire would come looking for it.
Zeb returned to the depot just in time to warn AP-5 and Chopper before EXD-9 transformed into its attack mode. The droid had remembered its true identity and mission after AP-5 used the term "rebel base". The Infiltrator droid attacked the rebels and fought with Zeb. During the struggle, Zeb managed to sever part of the droid's left hand. Damaged, EXD-9 retreated to recharge and repair itself. It attacked another astromech droid and a GNK-series power droid, draining their power and cannibalizing their parts to recharge and repair itself. Due to the damage sustained earlier, EXD-9's power readings were so low that Chopper could not detect the infiltrator on his scanners. In response, Zeb and the droids devised a plan to lure EXD-9 out of hiding so that they could disable it.
Return to sender
Chopper managed to lure EXD-9 out of hiding, and Zeb attacked the droid with the electrostaff mode of his bo-rifle. It was too dangerous to shoot at the droid because they were in the weapons depot, surrounded by high explosives. Following a fierce struggle, Zeb managed to pin down the Infiltrator droid long enough for AP-5 to disable it. When the droid began activating its proton warhead, Chopper managed to freeze the timer before it could initiate detonation. The rebels then faced a dilemma. Knowing that the Empire would search for the droid, they also had to protect the secrecy of Chopper Base. AP-5 also pointed out that, since the countdown had already begun, the warhead's detonation was inevitable. After some discussion, Zeb and the droids decided to reactivate EXD-9 to its disarmed mode and return the droid to its base with the proton warhead. AP-5 also set EXD-9 to explode once ir had reconnected with the Imperial network.
After reactivating EXD-9, Zeb, AP-5, and Chopper allowed the Infiltrator droid to walk back to its pod. Tailing EXD-9, Zeb shot out the pod's long-range transmitter. This forced EXD-9 to take its pod back to the Imperial Star Destroyer it had launched from. Upon arriving, two Imperial Navy technicians connected EXD-9 back to the Imperial network. This caused the Infiltrator droid to initiate its proton warhead countdown and detonate, which also destroyed the other Infiltrator droids. The subsequent chain reaction of powerful explosives tore the Star Destroyer apart. The explosion was watched by Agent Kallus and several Imperial officers aboard a nearby Star Destroyer. While expressing shock and anger publicly, Kallus privately smiled.
- "You seem in surprisingly good spirits, considering this loss."
"Loss, you say? Mmm, the rebels may have protected the location of their base for now, but in doing so, they have narrowed my search. Before today, they could have been hiding in any of a thousand systems. But now I know they are almost certainly on one of the 94 planets surveyed by my infiltrators. The rebels have won this battle, but the war will be ours."
- ―Agent Kallus and Thrawn
The following day, Zeb contacted Hera Syndulla and the other Spectres to inform her about the incident, but that they had things under control. The Spectres later attended a briefing at Chopper Base's command center, where they received a message from Fulcrum congratulating them for reprogramming the Infiltrator droid that he had warned them about and setting it to self-destruct. AP-5 tried to tell the other Spectres the whole story, but an embarrassed Zeb shut him up.
Grand Admiral Thrawn learned about EXD-9's role in the destruction of the Star Destroyer from Kallus, and complimented the ingenuity of the rebel plan. Despite the setback, Thrawn was in good spirits because he had narrowed his search for the Phoenix rebel base down to the 94 systems the droids had been sent to. He vowed to crush the rebellion once and for all.
Behind the scenes
EXD-9's infiltration of Chopper Base served as the main plot of the Star Wars Rebels episode "Warhead," which premiered on January 14, 2017. The plot background and details were further expanded in a Rebels Recon video hosted by Andi Gutierrez and Pablo Hidalgo.
- Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Updated and Expanded
- Star Wars Encyclopedia of Starfighters and Other Vehicles
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 57 (Weapons & Uniforms: Chopper Base–Atollon)
Notes and references
- Star Wars Rebels – "Ghosts of Geonosis"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Legacy of Mandalore"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Warhead"
- Dawn of Rebellion dates the events of Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow seventeen years after the end of the Clone Wars, which Star Wars: Galactic Atlas dates to 19 BBY; therefore, the events of Steps Into Shadow must take place in 2 BBY. According to Star Wars: On the Front Lines, Mon Mothma's denunciation of the Galactic Empire and the Declaration of the Rebel Alliance take place 2 years before the Battle of Yavin or 2 BBY. As "Warhead" is set between Steps Into Shadow and "Secret Cargo," the events of the episode must also take place in 2 BBY.
- Star Wars Rebels – "The Honorable Ones"