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"As my mentor used to tell me—relish the victory…but savor the hunt."
―Commander Zahra[src]

Ellian Zahra was a human female who held the rank of Commander in the Galactic Empire during the Galactic Civil War against the Rebel Alliance. Both cunning and vengeful, Zahra served at the helm of the Star Destroyer Tarkin's Will. Zahra rose through the Empire as the protégé of Governor Wilhuff Tarkin. After she failed Tarkin during a mission, Zahra's mentor dismissed her, though Zahra attempted to regain his favor. However, Tarkin perished aboard the Death Star battle station when it was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance during the Battle of Yavin. Zahra held a personal grudge against Princess Leia Organa of the Rebellion for Tarkin's death.

Following the Battle of Hoth, Zahra was assigned to lead attacks on the divisions of the scattered Alliance Fleet. She failed to prevent the rebel Fourth Division from escaping due to the intervention of the rebels aboard the freighter Millennium Falcon, including Organa. Zahra continued to hunt down other divisions, but desired to destroy the Fourth Division and Organa along with it.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Service to the Empire[edit | edit source]

"The day the terrorists killed my parents, I understood that life has no interest in playing fair. Since that day, I have seen with my eyes, not my hopes."
―Ellian Zahra[src]

Zahra earned her place by defeating the veermok.

Ellian Zahra[3] was born to parents who were eventually killed in a terrorist attack. During the reign of the Galactic Empire, Zahra entered into the Imperial Academy. Due to her lack of familial or other ties, Zahra was one of several students selected by Governor Wilhuff Tarkin, who provided instruction and influence. Rising through the Academy, Zahra scored at the highest level in the Empire's selection exams, entering into Imperial service.[2]

Eventually, Tarkin brought Zahra, along with two of his other protégés, Beldin and Hannevik, to his homeworld of Eriadu. In order to test them and determine the one who would remain his protégé, Tarkin sent them to hunt down an albino veermok on the Carrion Plateau. Managing to catch the veermok in the forest, Zahra successfully killed the creature. She additionally determined that Tarkin intended for the candidates to hunt each other, and as such defeated her fellow colleagues. She returned to Tarkin with the veermok's head, having passed the test set by her mentor. Zahra continued to rise through the Empire under Tarkin's mentorship, accompanying him on Imperial business and combating efforts of rebellion. After several years of working alongside Tarkin, Zahra had attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander in the Imperial Navy.[2]

Tarkin's final mission[edit | edit source]

"A Tarkin looks their enemy in the eye and puts their blade in their throat. You did neither, and so you failed. I thought I knew who you were, Commander. I was mistaken. All I know is what you are not."
―Wilhuff Tarkin[src]

Around 0 BBY,[4] Tarkin sent Zahra from the Death Star battle station on a mission to eliminate the warlord Burnium Ro on the Mid Rim planet Ikkrukk, citing Ro's use of imagery associated with the obsolete Nihil criminal organization. Zahra took a strike force that included Tarkin's flagship, the Carrion Spike, tracking Ro down using a network of probe droids. On the cloaked Carrion Spike, Zahra followed Ro to his stronghold, destroying the stronghold and Ro's forces.[2]

The Carrion Spike fires on who Zahra believes to be Burnium Ro.

However, upon Zahra's return to the Death Star, Tarkin informed her that she had instead killed one of Ro's decoys, and the real warlord had used her failure to elevate himself. Tarkin was disappointed by Zahra's failure, believing he had been wrong in choosing her as a protégé. Zahra was ordered to report to the personnel office for reassignment, but instead continued to search for Ro. Having tracked Ro down, Zahra returned to Tarkin a week later, amidst a Rebel Alliance—the Battle of Yavin. However, Zahra's efforts to meet with Tarkin were denied.[2]

Zahra resolved to hunt Ro herself, demanding the use of a shuttle from a Death Star hangar. The stormtrooper guarding the shuttle refused, having been assigned to hold the shuttle for the potential evacuation of high-ranking Imperial officers. Believing that the rebel attack was futile, Zahra knocked the trooper unconscious and commandeered the shuttle, setting a message to be transmitted to Tarkin, informing her mentor of her mission. However, as Zahra departed the Death Star, the space station was destroyed by the rebels, killing those aboard, including Tarkin.[2] Holding Princess Leia Organa responsible for her mentor's death, Zahra vowed to kill her to avenge Tarkin.[2] Despite her previous failures, Emperor Palpatine and the Sith Lord Darth Vader spared Zahra, who was granted the rank of Commander.[1]

Hunting the rebel armada[edit | edit source]

Escape of the Fourth Division[edit | edit source]

"We attacked both cells. One was completely destroyed. The other…escaped, although they suffered significant losses. I would consider that part of the operation a partial success."
"Partial success does not exist, Commander Zahra. You succeed, or you do not."
―Commander Zahra and Darth Vader[src]

After the Battle of Hoth[1] in 3 ABY,[5] in which the Rebel Alliance fleet was forced to scatter,[1] Zahra was tasked with locating cells of the fleet by Lord Vader, who gave her the opportunity to choose any vessel in the Imperial Navy as her flagship. She took command of the Fortitude, an Imperial II-class Star Destroyer that had been damaged in the Battle of Yavin, and rechristened it as the Tarkin's Will, choosing other Imperials who had lost close individuals in the Death Star's destruction as its crew.[6] Using a signal analysis protocol she had developed some time prior, Zahra tracked down two rebel cells that attempted to communicate, the Fourth and Eighth Divisions. Zahra split her forces, sending a fleet to attack the Eighth Division near Malastare while she led an attack on the Fourth Division, which was attempting to regroup at Rendezvous Point Delta-Three.[1]

Commander Zahra watches the attack on the Fourth Division.

Zahra utilized a tactic she had previously devised, blockading the rebel fleet with a turbolaser cordon and trapping them against a star. Unable to escape, the Fourth Division suffered heavy losses. When one rebel X-wing starfighter escaped the blockade, Zahra requested that she take manual control of a turbolaser. An Imperial technician was hesitant to do so, but gave control to Zahra upon the insistence of Lieutenant Gorr, the commander's second. Manually controlling the turbolaser, Zahra managed to hit and destroy the starfighter. The arrival of the freighter Millennium Falcon, carrying several prominent members of the Rebel Alliance including Organa, interfered with Zahra's plans. The Falcon managed to destroy one of the Imperial light cruisers, allowing the survivors of the Fourth Division to escape to hyperspace.[1]

Having failed to eliminate the rebel cells, Zahra contacted Darth Vader, who reprimanded her, both for her lack of success and for attempting to destroy the Millennium Falcon, which, unknown to Zahra, carried Luke Skywalker, the son of Vader, who the Sith Lord wanted alive. Ordering Zahra to destroy what remained of the rebel fleet, Vader dismissed her.[1]

Locating additional cells[edit | edit source]

"That's the last of them. All rebel vessels in this system have been destroyed. That said, Commander Zahra, for the moment we have no additional leads on locations for cells of the remaining rebel fleet."
"That's all right, Lieutenant Gorr. We'll find them. I have many plans in motion."
―Lieutenant Gorr and Commander Zahra[src]

Zahra and Lieutenant Gorr following the destruction of the Sixth Division.

Sometime later, Zahra led the Tarkin's Will in an attack on the Alliance's Sixth Division. Although her forces were able to eliminate all rebel vessels within the system, they had no leads as to the locations of the remaining cells, though Zahra was certain that the insurgents would be found. When Lieutenant Gorr, unaware of the Star Destroyer's history, requested that repairs be made to the ship, Zahra chastised Lieutenant Gorr, informing him that the Tarkin's Will served as a memorial to those who died aboard the Death Star, and that the damage it sustained in the battle was a reminder of all who they had lost.[6]

Zahra later intercepted transmissions from a group of rebels who she believed were the Alliance Fleet's Seventh Division. Her forces continued to track the division's movements, waiting for it to contact, and subsequently reveal the location of, another cell. Zahra contacted Vader, reporting her plan. Vader was pleased at her progress, but became distracted by the activation of a trap he had set at a Jedi outpost on the astronomical object Tempes. When Vader ordered his pilot to set a course for Tempes, Zahra offered to bring the Tarkin's Will to assist, but Vader insisted that he would handle it himself.[7]

When the Fourth Division responded to the Seventh Division's transmission, Zahra intended sent a second strike force after the Seventh Division while attacking the Fourth Division herself in order to eliminate Organa. However, after Lieutenant Gorr noted that their fleet was closer to the Seventh Division, Zahra relented, allowing the other force to pursue the Fourth. While Zahra's attack appeared to be overwhelming the Seventh Division, her secondary strike force arrived at the Fourth Division's coordinates to find the rebels had already left. Zahra was about to reprimand Gorr when the vessels of the Fourth Division emerged from hyperspace behind the Imperial fleet. Zahra intended to lead a boarding party against the rebel fleet, ordering Gorr to prepare her shuttle.[2]

Personality and traits[edit | edit source]

"And Commander, please allow me to say that if you also lost someone close to you on the Death Star, you have my utmost sympathies."
"I did. Not long from now, I will whisper the name in Leia Organa's ear. And then my blade will find her throat."
―Lieutenant Gorr and Commander Zahra[src]

Zahra, surveying a battle

After her parents were killed in a terrorist attack, Zahra had a jaded view on life, refusing to believe in hope and instead seeing things as they were. In serving the Empire, Zahra believed that the regime stood for order and subsequently brought peace. She saw everything as a resource, considering ways of utilizing her resources in the best way possible.[2] A vengeful[6] and cunning commander, Ellian Zahra was devoted to serving the Empire, despite her previous failures.[1]

Zahra was initially unable to accept Tarkin's dismissal of her despite understanding it, attempting to make up for her failure to regain her mentor's faith.[2] After losing Tarkin in the destruction of the Death Star,[2] Zahra blamed Leia Organa for the act and wished to slit Organa's throat in revenge. After being chosen to lead the hunt for the rebel fleet, Zahra honored those lost on the Death Star by taking command of a Star Destroyer that was damaged in its destruction, recruiting a crew that consisted of others who had lost someone on the station.[6] She despised the Rebel Alliance, viewing the destruction of their fleet with enjoyment.[1] Like many Imperials she held the destruction of the Death Star as an unforgivable massacre, in spite of the fact that it had previously destroyed a peaceful world of nearly two billion people.[6]

When Zahra failed to prevent the survivors of the Fourth Division from escaping her attack, she grew angry at Lieutenant Gorr, who stated the self-evident details of the situation. A human female, Zahra had black hair, blue eyes, and light skin.[1]

Skills and abilities[edit | edit source]

Zahra: "Technician. Transfer control of one gun in one of our batteries to this station. I don't want to weaken our part of the blockade, but we can spare one gun. One shot."
Technician: "You…want manual control, Commander? But the automated targeting systems are much more effective than any—"
Gorr: "Corporal, are you insane? Do as you are ordered and move aside. You're about to see something remarkable."
―Zahra, an Imperial technician, and Lieutenant Gorr, on manually controlling a turbolaser[src]

Under Tarkin's instruction,[2] Zahra was a skilled tactician and commander, developing tactics that she could use in battle.[1] She devised a method of using probe droids as a surveillance network, utilizing the approach against Burnium Ro.[2] Zahra also created a tactic in which an enemy fleet was trapped against a celestial body by a cordon of turbolasers. While attacking the Fourth Division of the Alliance Fleet, Zahra took control of one of her fleet's lasers, manually targeting and destroying an escaped rebel starfighter.[1]

Equipment[edit | edit source]

"This ship—then called the Fortitude, was hit by a piece of Death Star wreckage. It survived, but suffered immense damage. The ship was to be scuttled. Recycled for scrap. But when Lord Vader asked me to spearhead the hunt for the remnants of the rebel armada, he offered me any vessel in the fleet as my flagship. I chose this one, brought it back to life and gave it a new name."
―Commander Zahra, on the Tarkin's Will[src]

Zahra commanded the Tarkin's Will, an Imperial II-class Star Destroyer formerly known as the Fortitude, which had been severely damaged in the destruction of the Death Star. She did not wish to repair the damage the Star Destroyer had sustained, keeping it as a reminder of the attack.[6] She wore the uniform of the Imperial Military.[1]

Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]

Zahra was introduced in Star Wars 1, a comic written by Charles Soule, illustrated by Jesús Saiz, and published by Marvel Comics[1] on January 1, 2020.[8]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

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Notes and references[edit | edit source]

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