In 2 BBY, Imperial cadets Wedge Antilles and Derek Klivian were able to escape from Skystrike Academy with the help of Sabine Wren and the rebels of Phoenix Cell. The escape began after Antilles, Klivian, and Rake Gahree expressed sympathies towards the rebellion against the Galactic Empire, which was reported to Phoenix Squadron by Agent Alexsandr Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau—and secretly a rebel informant who operated under the codename Fulcrum. Phoenix Squadron tasked Wren, a former Imperial cadet herself, with infiltrating Skystrike Academy and making contact with the would-be defectors.
Wren entered the installation while two other rebels, Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus and his Padawan, Lieutenant Commander Ezra Bridger, waited for a signal to help exfiltrate the cadets. Wren's mission encountered an obstacle when Arihnda Pryce, Governor of the Lothal sector, arrived with Agent Kallus to hunt the defecting cadets. During the first escape attempt, Rake was killed while Wren and the cadets were captured. Wren managed to free herself and the two others, however, and made their way through the facility with the covert help of Agent Kallus. Wren and the cadets were picked up by the Jedi and returned to Chopper Base on Atollon, where Antilles and Klivian joined Phoenix Squadron. Both went on to fight for the Alliance to Restore the Republic during the Galactic Civil War, with Antilles becoming a noted pilot in both the Rebel Alliance and the New Republic.
In 2 BBY, Imperial forces attacked a rebel convoy near Teralov. The Imperials ignored the rebels' pleas for mercy, and massacred the entire convoy. Around the same time, three disillusioned Imperial cadets at the elite Skystrike Academy, Wedge Antilles, Hobbie, and Rake Gahree, decided to defect from the Empire. They sent a transmission through the auspices of a rebel agent named Fulcrum, who relayed their message to Phoenix Cell. Unbeknownst to the Spectres and Phoenix Squadron, Fulcrum was actually Imperial Security Bureau Agent Alexsandr Kallus, a former long-standing enemy of the Spectres, who had become sympathetic to the rebellion after an encounter with Spectres member Garazeb Orrelios on the Geonosian moon Bahryn.
Reeling from the loss of the rebel convoy, Phoenix Leader Hera Syndulla dispatched Mandalorian former Imperial cadet Sabine Wren on a mission to infiltrate Skystrike Academy and extract the cadets. The former Imperial RA-7 protocol droid AP-5 prepared fake identification for Sabine, who adopted the persona Ria Talla. Jedi Knight Kanan Jarrus, his apprentice Ezra Bridger, and the astromech droid Chopper were assigned to dispatch Sabine to the Academy and to await picking her up.
Sabine managed to infiltrate Skystrike Academy with little problems. She met Wedge during a simulator training session, and the two quickly befriended each other. Sabine and Wedge shared an unease with the Academy's curriculum, which encouraged Imperial cadets to take no prisoners and to shoot unarmed, surrendering transports. Later, Sabine overheard Wedge and his friends Hobbie and Rake talking in secret about the message they'd sent, which gave her confirmation that they were the would-be defectors. While alone with Wedge, Sabine disclosed that she was a rebel agent and reassured him that the rebellion had received his transmission. She told Wedge and his friends to be ready to leave at a moment's notice.
Sabine's plan to extricate the defecting cadets was complicated by the arrival of Governor Arihnda Pryce and Agent Kallus, who had received word about the defectors. Governor Pryce issued orders to Instructor Goran to lock down the Academy while Agent Kallus questioned the cadets. When Kallus' investigation yielded no evidence of defectors, Governor Pryce and Instructor Goran set a trap by ordering the cadets to engage in a mock combat exercise in space. Pryce had secretly had kill switches installed on the TIE fighters the cadets would be flying.
Sabine and the cadets took their chance to escape, attempting to rendezvous with Ezra's CR90 corvette. However, Governor Pryce then activated the kill switches, detaching the four cadets' TIE fighters' solar collector panels; leaving them stranded in space. She then dispatched Captain Vult Skerris and three TIE interceptors into the fray. Skerris destroyed Rake's TIE fighter before leading an attack on Ezra's corvette, inflicting substantial damage to the hull. Despite Ezra's protests, Kanan and Chopper withdrew the corvette from the engagement.
Sabine, Wedge, and Hobbie were brought before Governor Pryce, who demanded to know which one of them was the rebel agent. To save Wedge from being tortured, Sabine identified herself as the rebel agent. Wedge, worried about Sabine, accidentally let her real name slip while he and Hobbie were led out of the cell. While Pryce prepared to interrogate Sabine, Kallus led the other cadets into a holding cell. After identifying Sabine as a former Imperial cadet and telling her that she'd come "home", Pryce ordered her stormtroopers to fasten Sabine to the torture device. However, the former cadet broke free of her captors and engaged Pryce in a fist fight. Despite Pryce putting up stiff resistance, Sabine managed to knock her out by pushing her into the path of the torture device's stinger.
Sabine then went to Wedge and Hobbie's holding cell. After knocking out two stormtrooper sentries, she freed the two cadets. Together, the three fled down a corridor while dodging stormtroopers and blast doors. They encountered Agent Kallus, who, to Sabine's considerable surprise and suspicion, helped Sabine and the cadets escape by directing them to Hangar Bay 24. By way of explanation for his actions, he told Sabine to tell her Lasat friend Garazeb Orrelios that they were now even. Due to Kallus' history with the Spectres, it did not occur to Sabine that he might be Fulcrum, as Zeb had not told the others about what had happened on Bahryn. The trio managed to commandeer a TIE bomber, chosen because it could take a hit, and fled into the atmosphere outside Skystrike Academy.
The cadets were pursued by Captain Skerris in his TIE Interceptor, which inflicted damage on the slow-moving bomber. Fortunately for Sabine and the cadets, they were picked up by Ezra's CR90 corvette. After being safely evacuated aboard the corvette, the rebels and the defecting cadets escaped into hyperspace.
At Atollon's Chopper Base, Sabine presented Wedge and Hobbie to her commanding officer, Commander Jun Sato. When Wedge asked whether the rebellion had been looking for pilots, Sato confirmed that this was the case and welcomed the two young men into the rebellion. Wedge and Hobbie both became rebel pilots, and Wedge, in particular, became a famous war hero, flying against both Death Stars.
The Spectres and Phoenix Squadron did not find out that Kallus was Fulcrum until later, when Kanan, Ezra and Chopper infiltrated the Imperial Armory Complex on Lothal. When Kanan and Ezra informed the rest of the team about Kallus' assistance, they were shocked and suspicious. Zeb was as surprised as the others, reasoning that he had "accidentally" recruited the ISB agent, and was forced to admit that Kallus had been on Bahryn. Hera, suspicious that Kallus was playing a kind of long game, decided that they would use caution with their new ally.
Sabine's experience with kill switches became useful later, on the Spectres' mission to Lothal the next year. She and Ezra wound up stealing the prototype TIE/D Defender Elite, which was equipped with one as an anti-theft measure. While deactivating the starfighter's homing beacon, Sabine discovered the switch and immediately advised Ezra, who was piloting, to land. When the switch was activated, the crash was not as bad as it would have been because the Elite was already being brought in for a landing, allowing Ezra and Sabine to escape with the fighter's flight data recorder and hyperdrive.
Behind the scenes
- Star Wars Rebels – "The Antilles Extraction" (First appearance)
- "Sons of the Sky"—Star Wars Rebels Magazine 33 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Rebels – "An Inside Man" (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Rebels – "Flight of the Defender" (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars (2015) 45 (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back junior novelization (Mentioned only)
- "Rendezvous Point"—From a Certain Point of View: The Empire Strikes Back (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Squadrons (Indirect mention only)
- Aftermath: Empire's End (Indirect mention only)
- Aftermath: Empire's End audiobook (Indirect mention only)
- Resistance Reborn (Mentioned only)
- Resistance Reborn audiobook (Mentioned only)
- Ultimate Star Wars (First mentioned) (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: On the Front Lines (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know, Updated and Expanded
- Star Wars: The Rebel Files (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 33 (Databank A-Z: Admiral Kilian–Kowakian)
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 57 (Highlights of the Saga: Leaving Skystrike)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 57 (Helmets: Wedge Antilles; Weapons & Uniforms: Chopper Base–Atollon; Highlights of the Saga: Leaving Skystrike)
- Star Wars: X-Wing Second Edition – Skystrike Academy Squadron Pack (Card: ) (Picture only)
Notes and references
- Star Wars Rebels – "The Antilles Extraction"
- Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow
- Star Wars Rebels – "Hera's Heroes"
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 57 (Highlights of the Saga: Leaving Skystrike)
- Star Wars Rebels – "The Honorable Ones"
- Star Wars Rebels – "An Inside Man"
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope
- Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- Star Wars Rebels – "Flight of the Defender"