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Around 1 BBY, members of the Alliance to Restore the Republic hijacked Crawler 413-24 in an attempt to use its long-range communications equipment to contact Alliance High Command. The Galactic Empire was blocking all non-Imperial transmissions from the planet Lothal, which was under a severe lockdown. The Spectres had returned to Lothal to gather intelligence on the new TIE/D Defender Elite, eventually stealing the prototype's flight data recorder. Hera Syndulla and Chopper had successfully returned the device to Rebel Command. Ezra Bridger, confident that Hera intended to return for them and lead an attack, insisted that the Lothal resistance had to get in touch with the Alliance. When the Rebels detected the ore crawler in the vicinity of their new base, a solution presented itself.

Ezra, Sabine Wren, Kanan Jarrus and Garazeb Orrelios boarded the crawler, confronting its Trandoshan captain, Seevor, who managed to activate an alarm and halt the vehicle. In response to the alarm, Mining Guild headquarters contacted the crawler, and Ezra impersonated Seevor over the comms in an attempt to allay their suspicions. As Kanan and Zeb investigated the crawler's reactor room, Sabine worked on activating the vehicle's old long-range transmitter and Ezra watched Seevor, eventually locking him in a closet. In the reactor room, Kanan and Zeb discovered several slaves, as well as Cikatro Vizago, a crime lord and associate of the Spectres who had been arrested by the Empire after smuggling them onto Lothal. They were then accosted by the crawler's foreman, Proach, who quickly shocked Kanan unconscious and then fought Zeb, who eventually defeated him. Shortly after, as the other Rebels entered the cockpit, Sabine reported the arrival of two Imperial gunships, sent to investigate the crawler, as Ezra had made the Mining Guild suspicious.

The Rebels pretended that everything was business as usual on the vehicle, with Zeb posing as the foreman and Vizago as the captain. Ezra, Kanan and Sabine hid in a closet. After the Imperials left, finding nothing, the Rebels discovered that Seevor had taken advantage of his scrawny build to escape into the ventilation system. Sabine attempted to activate the transmitter but discovered that Seevor had shut down the crawler's reactors. As the Trandoshan had magnetically sealed the door to the reactor room, Ezra was sent through the vents after him. Ezra fought Seevor in the reactor room, and the captain eventually died by falling into the smelter after stepping on Ezra's dropped lightsaber. The Rebels were thus able to contact Hera and Rebel Command, and discovered that the Alliance leaders had authorized an attack to prevent the manufacture of Defender Elites on Lothal.

PreludeEdit

Polluted Lothal

Lothal, ruined and polluted by the Empire

In 2 BBY, the Rebel Alliance planned to destroy the planet Lothal's Imperial Armory Complex, which manufactured vehicles for the Galactic Empire's military. The Lothal sector's Phoenix Cell had invited the Massassi Group to join them. However, before the Rebels could attack, they were ambushed by the Seventh Fleet, under the command of Grand Admiral Thrawn, who had located the Rebels' base on Atollon. In the ensuing battle, the Rebels took severe losses before they escaped.[4] The survivors regrouped at the Alliance's headquarters on Yavin 4. The remaining members of Phoenix Squadron, including the Spectres, joined the Massassi Group. Spectres member Ezra Bridger, a native of Lothal, urged the Alliance's leaders to honor the promise they made to help liberate his homeworld. Mon Mothma, however, was cautious, not wishing to commit large numbers of Alliance forces so soon after Atollon.[5]

Mothma changed her mind when a message from Ryder Azadi, leader of the Lothal resistance, arrived, warning that the Empire was developing a new TIE Defender. Having seen the threat of the TIE Defender firsthand, the ex-Senator could not ignore it. The Spectres volunteered for the mission, but Mothma warned them that the Alliance could not send any more forces. The six Rebels smuggled themselves onto Lothal onboard the Broken Horn, the starship of Devaronian crime lord Cikatro Vizago, a former associate of theirs. They had paid him in valuable puffer pigs, as he had acquired a contract to ship supplies to Lothal. The planet was under an extremely severe lockdown, and on the way in, the Broken Horn was scanned, and multiple unregistered lifeforms were discovered aboard. The ship was given clearance, but an ISB patrol was alerted. Upon landing, the ship was detained and boarded. Realizing that they had been detected, the Spectres hid as Ezra asked Vizago to stall the Imperials. The Spectres set loose the pigs in order to cause a diversion to escape. While attempting to flee, Vizago couldn't resist trying to take along one uninflated pig, and was trapped when he caused it to inflate.[6] Afterwards, he was pressed into slavery on an ore crawler strip-mining Lothal's grasslands.[1]

After making contact with the Lothal resistance, the Spectres proceeded on the mission. While on a reconnaissance to see the prototype at a remote Imperial airfield, Sabine Wren decided to steal the starfighter's flight data recorder. Due to the sudden arrival of Thrawn and Governor Arihnda Pryce to watch a planned test flight, Sabine and Ezra wound up stealing the fighter. After it crashed when its kill switch was activated, Ezra and Sabine fled into the wilderness with the flight recorder, hiding the ship's hyperdrive nearby, intending to install it on Ryder's UT-60D U-wing starfighter/support craft, the only ship the Lothal Rebels had. Ezra and Sabine, with the help of a Loth-wolf, returned to the Rebels' camp with the flight recorder.[7] Afterwards, the Rebels retrieved the hyperdrive, dealing with some complications in the process. As the Imperials, led by Pryce, closed in on the Rebels' camp, Hera and Chopper escaped in the U-wing with the flight recorder. The other Rebels fled into the mountains, following several Loth-wolves Ezra had seen. The wolves helped the Rebels flee, mystically transporting them across the planet to a cliff dwelling in Lothal's southern hemisphere. Meanwhile, Hera successfully delivered the flight recorder to Rebel headquarters on Yavin 4.[8]

The hijackingEdit

Boarding the crawlerEdit

Rebels ambush Seevor

The rebels ambush Seevor

The Lothal resistance set up a new base in the cliff dwelling. However, the only transmitter they had been able to salvage was an older model, and Sabine was unable to use it to send a signal to Alliance High Command, particularly as the Empire had been blocking all non-Imperial transmissions. Ezra was confident that Hera intended to come back for them and launch an attack. However, Ryder was more skeptical, given the Lothal resistance's lack of resources. As the Rebels debated, Sabine picked up a signal on the transmitter, coming from something in the general vicinity. Ryder and the Spectres departed in a landspeeder to investigate. They found a Mining Guild ore crawler, Crawler 413-24, burning its way through Lothal's grasslands. Ezra had seen some of them earlier, and was concerned that they had made it halfway across the planet. Garazeb Orrelios suggested that they hijack the vehicle, as it might have a long-range transmitter they could use to contact Hera and Rebel Command. Sabine, scanning the crawler, spotted a transmission antenna, and Zeb's idea was agreed to.[1]

Ryder drove his landspeeder in behind the ore crawler, and Sabine flew above the mining vehicle on her jetpack. She spotted an IG-RM bodyguard and enforcer droid, and reported it to the others. Landing on the catwalk, Sabine snuck up behind the droid and hit it with a paralyzing dart before tipping it over the guardrail. Ryder pulled his speeder up beside the vehicle, and Ezra, Zeb and Kanan Jarrus hopped aboard. Just then, another security droid emerged from the reactor room, and Sabine shot it in the head. As Kanan, Ezra and Zeb climbed the ladder to the top level, Sabine flew up in her jetpack. Once all the Spectres were at the top, they entered the cockpit. They found the crawler's captain, Seevor, lounging on his chair listening to music on his headphones, oblivious to his surroundings. He did not notice the Rebels until after they had surrounded him, when Zeb pulled off one earpiece of his headphones and commented that he enjoyed the song as well, before tipping the scrawny Trandoshan onto the floor.[1]

Seevor was quickly restrained by Zeb, angrily protesting the hijacking of his vehicle, assuming that the Spectres were pirates. He activated a device on his wrist, halting the crawler and setting off an alarm. Kanan ordered Sabine to stop it, and as she worked, Ezra pulled the device off Seevor's wrist and crushed it. The crawler was soon contacted by Mining Guild headquarters, curious as to why the alarm had been activated. Sabine and Kanan eventually had Ezra take the comms. Doing a passable impression of the Trandoshan, Ezra claimed that the crawler was suffering a mechanical problem. Seevor, in the back of the cockpit, attempted to shout so as to be heard over the comm. The Guild headquarters decided to send a repair crew, but Ezra claimed that this was unnecessary as repairs could be handled by the crawler's personnel. Eventually, the Guild headquarters cut off communication, and Zeb knocked Seevor unconscious.[1]

Liberating captivesEdit

Proach vs Kanan

Kanan fighting Proach

Sabine got to work on the long-range transmitter, and quickly discovered that it was an older model than she expected. She also discovered that a signal was coming from the reactor room, prompting Kanan and Zeb to head over and check. Before leaving, Zeb dumped the unconscious Seevor on the floor, and Kanan warned Ezra and Sabine to watch him carefully. Upon entering the smoke-filled reactor room, Kanan had Zeb check the upper level while he searched the lower one, before jumping down. Kanan soon sensed presences among the machinery and reached for his weapons, but quickly realized that they were slaves. He moved his hands away from his weapons and told them they could come out, promising that he wouldn't hurt them. Kanan was quite surprised when Vizago appeared, assuming that the Rebels had come specifically for him. He announced that he had told the rest of the slaves that rescue was coming, and that the crawler's foreman, Proach, was no match for a Jedi. Kanan was startled at the mention of a foreman, and the large Trandoshan quickly revealed himself, attacking Kanan with an electro-whip. Proach quickly disarmed Kanan of his lightsaber and shocked him unconscious with the whip, but before he could do anything else, Zeb, on the upper level, fired his bo-rifle at the foreman and warned him to surrender.[1]

Proach used his electro-whip to swiftly ascend to the upper level, where he fought Zeb in hand-to-hand combat. Zeb attempted to use his bo-rifle's electrostaff form on the burly Trandoshan, but this was unsuccessful. The fight eventually carried the two to the outside catwalk, where Proach attempted to toss Zeb over the guardrail. Zeb used his prehensile feet to grab Proach and pull him over as well, and the two continued fighting while dangling from the catwalk. Having come to, Kanan exited the reactor room onto the lower catwalk looking for Zeb, and the Lasat quickly drew his attention to where he was fighting with Proach. Kanan headed back inside to ascend to the upper level to assist. Proach got his electro-whip around Zeb's wrist and attempted to shock him, but Zeb resisted it and managed to break the foreman's grip on the catwalk, leaving him holding onto the handle of his whip. Zeb then managed to shake Proach loose of the handle, causing him to fall to his death. Just before he lost his grip on the catwalk, Zeb was caught by Kanan, who pulled him up.[1]

In the cockpit, Seevor had come to, and Ezra had shortly locked him in one of the room's two closets. Sabine was still working on the old transmitter. Shortly after Kanan and Zeb had dealt with the foreman and freed the slaves, Sabine called them to the cockpit, reporting an impending problem. The Mining Guild had become suspicious following Ezra's impersonation of Seevor, and had alerted the Empire. Two Imperial gunships were approaching. Ezra quickly suggested that the Rebels make it appear as if things were business as usual on the crawler. The slaves pretended that they were still enslaved, and Zeb, wearing a spare work helmet and carrying the foreman's electro-whip, pretended to be the slave-driver. Vizago was asked to pose as the crawler's captain when the Imperials contacted the vehicle. He claimed that they were suffering mechanical difficulties, using this as an explanation for why they had no clearance codes: they had lost them all. The Imperials stated they were going to inspect the crawler.[1]

Evading the Empire and stopping SeevorEdit

When the gunships landed, they were met by the disguised Zeb and the slaves. As stormtroopers disembarked, Zeb pretended to get the slaves back to work, and they went to the lower level. Vizago met the stormtroopers and said there was no need for an inspection, and complained that they were interfering in Mining Guild business. The troopers pushed their way into the cockpit to inspect anyway. Kanan, Ezra and Sabine had hidden in the other of the cockpit's two closets. Watching the Imperial inspection through the narrowly-opened door, Ezra whispered to the others that the only thing they had to worry about now was the captain squealing on them. Vizago, hearing this, accidentally drew the stormtroopers' attention to the closet that Seevor had been locked into. When the closet was opened, however, it was empty, as the scrawny Trandoshan had taken advantage of his build to slip into the ventilation system. Not finding anything, the Imperials left.[1]

The Rebels were concerned by where Seevor could have gone via the vents, but Sabine had finally gotten the transmitter working. When she activated it, however, it did not work, and she discovered that power had been rerouted away from the system. It was quickly deduced that Seevor was responsible, and Sabine found that he was tapping into the crawler's PA system. He taunted the Rebels that he was going to contact the Empire, and they would not get away with their hijacking. They quickly realized he had gone to the reactor room. However, when Kanan and Zeb attempted to enter, they found that the door was locked and magnetically sealed, preventing Kanan from cutting his way in. Ezra was thus ordered to gain entry to the reactor room via the ventilation shafts, much to his irritation, as he complained that he did not crawl in vents anymore.[1]

Seevor death

Seevor falling to his death in the smelter

When he entered the reactor room, Ezra saw no sign of Seevor, but found that the reactors had been shut down. He headed to the controls to restart them, stalked by the Trandoshan, who was crawling around the machinery in the smoky room. As Ezra began to activate the reactors, he sensed Seevor coming up behind him, and at the last second turned and slashed at the captain with his lightsaber. Seevor dodged, and fled back into the smoke. Ezra finished restarting the reactors, and the Trandoshan attacked him again, starting a fight in front of the rapidly opening-and-closing door to the smelter. During the fight, Seevor forced Ezra to drop his lightsaber, and eventually knocked him back into the guardrail near the controls. He attempted to advance on Ezra, but stepped on the fallen lightsaber, causing him to slip and fall into the smelter. After Seevor's death, Ezra retrieved his weapon.[1]

AftermathEdit

Ezra Vizago and the liberated workers

Vizago and the other liberated prisoners joined the Rebellion

While Kanan, Ezra, Sabine and Zeb were hijacking the crawler, back on Yavin 4, the leaders of the Rebel Alliance were debating whether to approve an attack on Lothal to destroy the Imperial Armory Complex, in the hopes of preventing the manufacture of TIE Defender Elites. After learning that the Empire was enacting Protocol 13, the evacuation of all Imperial personnel from an occupied planet, on Lothal, Hera persuaded the Alliance leaders that they did not have any more time to waste, and had to show the Empire that they would not surrender. Thus, when the Lothal Rebels contacted Alliance High Command via the crawler's transmitter, Hera was able to tell them to be prepared to assist with the impending attack. The Rebels decided to keep the crawler for themselves. The freed slaves decided to join the Rebellion, and Vizago appointed himself the vehicle's new captain. Ezra, in particular, was pleased that the promised attack was finally going forward.[1]

AppearancesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

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