For other uses, see Jessa (disambiguation).

"Merei, are you awake? It’s time to get moving."
―Jessa Spanjaf calls to wake her daughter[src]

Jessa Spanjaf, a human female, was the mother of Merei Spanjaf and the wife of Gandr Spanjaf. She and her husband worked as data-security specialists and were contracted by several ministries of the Galactic Empire. Several years before the Battle of Yavin, Gandr and his family moved to the planet Lothal to help the local Imperial ministries boost the security of their data networks. Both parents were unaware of their daughter Merei's illegal activities; which included hacking the Transportation Ministry's data network, working as a courier for the criminal Gray Syndicate; and consorting with known rebels and rebel sympathizers including the Spectres cell, her former classmates Zare Leonis and Beck Ollet, and the fugitive Holshef. Merei was helping her boyfriend Zare to find his sister Dhara Leonis, who had been abducted for a secret Imperial program known as Project Harvester.

After Merei hacked into the Transportation Ministry's data network, Jessa was part of the anti-intrusion team that was assigned to investigate that data breach. Merei spent much of that year trying to stay ahead of the Imperial investigators by altering her school photo while working as a courier for the Gray Syndicate at the same time. In a misguided attempt to free herself from the Gray Syndicate and to mislead the Imperial investigation team, Merei staged her own kidnapping, which led to a deadly Imperial raid on Ake's Tavern, the Gray Syndicate's headquarters. As a result, Jessa and her husband came to believe that the Gray Syndicate were the culprits behind the Transportation Ministry's data breach and that they had kidnapped Merei to stop the Imperial investigation.

Jessa and Gandr were later forced to flee Lothal with their daughter Merei after the Empire launched a crackdown on all sedition and crime following the Spectres' hijacking of the Imperial Communications Center at Jalath. While Jessa was initially furious with Merei for "ruining their lives," she changed her mind after Merei revealed that she had downloaded secret Imperial documents that revealed Imperial atrocities and abuses on Lothal. After fleeing to the planet Garel with the help of Old Jho and the Spectres, Jessa accompanied her daughter Merei on a mission to rescue Zare and his sister Dhara from Area Null, a secret Imperial facility on the planet Arkanis. Following the rescue mission, she and her family assumed new identities crafted by her husband, Gandr.

Biography[edit | edit source]

Moving to Lothal[edit | edit source]

"When the Empire came to Lothal they were so concerned about putting systems in place fast that they didn't do a great job. So now we've got teams tightening up security one ministry at a time. But it's slow going. For instance, we only sweep the networks for rogue programs and other breaches every other weekend, because the sweeps slow down network traffic so badly. But listen to me—you ask me about an intrusion and I go running off like a scalded nerf talking about sweep schedules."
―Gandr describing his and Jessa's work as data-security specialists[src]

Jessa Spanjaf was a native of the Core Worlds planet of Corulag. She was the wife of Gandr Spanjaf and the mother of Merei Spanjaf. Jessa and Gandr were data-security specialists who worked as contractors for several Imperial government ministries. They used their intrusion skills to track down would-be saboteurs and thieves, who were subsequently arrested by Imperial stormtroopers. Several years before the Battle of Yavin, Jessa and her family migrated to the the backwater Outer Rim world of Lothal to take advantage of new Imperial developmental opportunities there. The local Imperial ministries needed data-security specialists to secure their data networks, which were constantly plagued by rogue programs and data breaches. Jessa and her family settled into an apartment in Lothal's Capital City.[1]

Jessa's daughter Merei spent her first year on Lothal at the Junior Academy of Applied Sciences in Capital City. She played in the school's grav-ball team and became a friend of Zare Leonis and Beck Ollet, two rebel sympathizers who were critical of the Empire's policies towards Lothal. After Zare's sister Dhara, a cadet at the Academy for Young Imperials, disappeared, Merei agreed to help Zare to find his sister.[3] The following year, Merei enrolled at the Vocational School for Institutional Security in order to follow her parents in their career of information security. Unknown to Jessa and Gandr, Merei intended to used her computer slicing skills to find Dhara.[1]

A Daughter's double life[edit | edit source]

"What's the rest of that stuff?"
"Oh, just some things for school."
―Jessa narrowly missing one of her daughter Merei's illegal extracurricular activities: using snooper programs to breach the Transportation Ministry's data network[src]

One morning, Jessa chanced upon Merei in her room and told her to get ready for school. Unknown to Jessa, Merei had been using her datapad to access several Imperial data networks for information on Dhara. Later that term, Merei embarked on a mission to hack into the Imperial Transportation Ministry's data network, which was linked to the entire Imperial data network on Lothal. From Gandry, Merei had learned that it was relatively easy for intruders to gain access to networks by physically visiting government offices and other premises. Through her classmate Jix Hekyl, Merei also made contact with the Gray Syndicate's boss Yahenna Laxo, who agreed to sell her three snooper programs in return for her services as a courier.[1]

One evening, Merei returned with several grocery items including prairie-fowl breasts and tubers. When Jessa inquired about her other bag, Merei claimed that it contained items she needed at school. Unknown to Jessa, the second bag contained the three snoopers that Laxo had sold her. While preparing dinner, Jessa asked her daughter about her studies at V-SIS. She was pleased to learn that Merei was working on anti-intrusion measures and had joined her school's anti-intrusion club; activities which she regarded as preferable to grav-ball and joy-riding with boys. Knowing her mother's inquisitive nature, Merei chatted about anti-intrusion methods. During their conversation, Jessa mentioned that government offices and facilities were vulnerable to outside programs being installed and that several of the security chiefs at Lothal's ministries were ignorant of basic information security protocols. Unknown to Jessa, she inadvertently provided her daughter with ideas on how to infiltrate the Imperial Transportation Ministry's headquarters on Lothal.[1]

Following Merei's breach into the Transportation Ministry's network, Jessa was part of an anti-intrusion team that was assigned to investigate that breach. Jessa was completely unaware that her own daughter was responsible for the data breach. She and her colleagues attempted to investigate how the intruders had accessed the building and what network defenses had been penetrated. When Jessa requested cam-feeds, she was dismayed to learn that the Transportation Ministry staff had only been keeping two days of video archives. They spent the afternoon searching the network for unauthorized transmissions and rogue programs but were unable to detect the intrusion due to the high volume of inter-ministry activity.[1]

Later that evening, Jessa had a discussion about Lothal politics with her husband Gandr at dinner. Merei then asked her parents about a ZX-5 access disk, a high-powered military decoder. Jessa and Gandr explained that this particular decoder model was used by Imperial officials to decrypt classified government documents. Using this information, Merei put into motion a plan to steal a ZX-5 decoder with the connivance of her boyfriend Zare Leonis. During the conversation, Jessa discussed her ongoing investigation into the data breach at the Transportation Ministry with her family. With few leads, she planned to question the custodial crew at the Transportation Ministry, some of whom were alleged to have connections with criminal gangs in the Old City's alien quarter.[1]

With the connivance of Zare and an undercover rebel cadet named Dev Morgan, Merei managed to obtain a stolen ZX-5 decoder from Morgan's rebel associates. She used the decoder to decrypt a classified Imperial file which revealed that Dhara had been forcibly inducted into a secret program known as Project Harvester, which was based on the planet Arkanis. Meanwhile, Jessa continued her investigation into the Transportation Ministry data breach. She discovered that the intruders had managed to gain access to the building's network through three snooper programs. While two of the snooper programs had managed to delete themselves, the third had failed to delete itself due to a faulty chronometer. As a result, her team was able to freeze and preserve its code. While Jessa and Gandr were pleased that they were closer to finding the intruders, Merei was fearful that the Empire would eventually come after her.[1]

Hiding in Plain Sight[edit | edit source]

"At the risk of sounding disloyal, the Transportation Ministry would be better off if it hired blind Tavelian cavefish. We've shown every witness who spoke to the girl selling raffle tickets the image of every teenage girl who attends school within five hundred kilometers of Capital City. And none of them has recognized her. I'm starting to think she was a ghost."
―Jessa expressing frustration with the pace of her investigation into the Transportation Ministry data breach[src]

Jessa was present when her husband Gandr questioned Merei about her failing grades at V-SIS during a dinnertime conversation. While Gandr accepted Merei's explanation that she was struggling with her school work, Jessa was not so certain and questioned her daughter whether she was fraternizing with boys. Merei defensively responded that she had a boyfriend named Zare but that they only communicated three times a week for fifteen minutes. Before a sharp exchange could break out between mother and daughter, Gandr intervened and reassured Merei that her parents were only there to help her. Merei then told her parents to let her figure things out on her own. In reality, Merei's grades were failing because she had devoted much of her time and energy to hacking into the Imperial data network and creating a fake ISB account. In addition, Merei was fearful that Jessa would eventually track down the source of the intrusion to her own daughter.[4]

When Merei questioned Jessa about the progress of her investigation, Jessa was initially reluctant to discuss this matter with her daughter. However, she relented when Gandr frowned at her and Merei reiterated that she wanted to follow in her parents' footsteps as data security specialists. Jessa disclosed that she and her team of investigators were still trying to match the captured snooper's code with the work done by known criminal programmers. In addition, she revealed that one of the Transportation Ministry staff had encountered an intruder posing as a Phelarion School student who was selling raffle tickets.[4]

However, Jessa's investigation had determined that the real Kinera Tiree had not visited the Transportation Ministry's headquarters because she was having an exam that day. Thus, she deduced that the intruder was a teenaged girl who had impersonated the real Kinera. When Merei suggested that the intruder was from a shapeshifting species, Jessa ruled that out since Imperial intelligence monitored any shapeshifters with underworld ties. With their witness unable to provide anymore details of the mysterious intruder, Jessa and her team had decided to examine the photos of every schoolgirl within a hundred kilometers of Capital City. She commented that this "old-fashioned" method of police work helped investigators build a more solid case without having to go through the courts.[4]

Using the information gleaned from Jessa's investigation, Merei got her classmate Jix Hekyl to switch her V-SIS photo with that of Hestia Tarleton, a student at the Young Ladies' Seminary of Lothal Settlers, in an attempt to mislead Jessa's investigation team. Jix's trick succeeded in stifling Jessa's investigation efforts since the witnesses were unable to spot Merei's face. In response, Jessa decided to give the intrusion pattern to every repeater service on Lothal and demand that they look for a match. Once they had obtained a match, they would be able to obtain a warrant for any records of that account. Jessa reasoned that this tactic would allow them to ascertain the origin point of whoever had accessed the snooper's data. In the light of the recent rebel attack on the Empire Day celebrations in Capital City, Jessa was optimistic that the courts would grant such a warrant within the span of a few weeks.[4]

The "kidnapping"[edit | edit source]

"Good idea. You [Merei] saved your mother some work, at least. Locking down and searching three repeater services would have been tedious, to say the least."
"Not funny."
"You're right. Sorry"
―Gandr and Jessa discussing the end of the investigation into the Transportation Ministry's data breach[src]

By the end of Lothal's winter break, Jessa and her team had managed to narrow down the Transportation Ministry's intrusion pattern to three repeater services, including Bakiska's. She decided to file a request for a search warrant from the Justice Ministry. During a dinner table conversation, Jessa expressed her hope that the investigation was drawing to a close and that they would be able to resume their normal lives. Claiming that she had a lot of homework to do, her daughter Merei contacted Jix and made arrangements to enter Bakiska's data warehouse and delete Merei's account data with a pulse-mag under the pretext of doing Laxo's "business". However, their plan fell apart when the Bakiska's staff warehouse evicted them from the premises.[4]

In desperation, Merei staged her own kidnapping and dispatched a fake ransom demand to her parents' channels. This message purporting to come from the Gray Syndicate demanded that Jessa cease her investigation into the Transportation Ministry data breach if she wanted her daughter returned unharmed. Jessa and Gandr received Merei's message and contacted the Imperial authorities, who sent stormtroopers to raid Ake's Tavern. During the raid, the Imperials killed all of the criminals and rescued Merei, whom they thought was a hostage. Unknown to everyone, Merei took the opportunity to use her pulse-mag to delete all of the Gray Syndicate's data in the hopes of frustrating the Imperial investigation.[4]

Due to the elimination of the Gray Syndicate and Merei's rescue, Jessa believed that her investigation into the Transportation Ministry breach was finished. She was relieved that she and her investigators did not have to lock down and search three repeater services, which would have been a long and tedious undertaking. Jessa believed that the Gray Syndicate was behind the breach and accepted her daughter's testimony about her kidnapping as sufficient evidence to bring her investigation to a close. However, she was unable to establish the site where the intrusion had been launched. While the Imperial authorities had overruled her decision to close the Transportation Ministry breach investigation, they needed services for new priorities such as screening commercial transports. Shortly later, Merei received a call on her datapad from her boyfriend Zare, who informed her that he had received a mid-year transfer to the Imperial Academy on Arkanis.[4]

A Life Turned Upside-Down[edit | edit source]

"Do you realize what you're done? You've ruined all our lives. You're become some kind of insurgent—an enemy of the Empire that's employed us and allowed us to make a living and—"
―Jessa's initial reaction to discovering her daughter's double life[src]

Following the destruction of the Gray Syndicate, Jessa's daughter Merei was caught up in another scheme to get the fugitive poet Holshef offworld. Holshef was a poet and artist who had drawn the ire of the Empire and had struck a friendship with Merei. During a dinnertime conversation, Jessa and Gandr were talking about the Imperial bureaucracy's latest attempts to make their jobs more difficult. Merei then took the opportunity to raise a question about the Empire's recent efforts to tighten up offworld travel on Lothal. Jessa confirmed that this was the case and mentioned that the Empire had prohibited wildcat launches from the hinterland. However, she added that authorized travel was still allowed but subject to a stringent ID check and questioning by security personnel. Jessa explained that Imperial officers were trained to identify people who were nervous or hiding something. This information led Merei to realize that she could not get her friend Holshef offworld through a spaceport.[5]

The following week, the Lothal rebel cell known as the Spectres seized control of the Imperial Communications Center at Jalath and made a broadcast. In response, the Empire destroyed the tower. During a dinnertime conversation, Jessa explained that the tower's destruction had disrupted offworld communications and limited access to locally store information. As a result, data had to be couriered by R4 courier droids and uploaded to transmitters on orbiting communications ships. Due to limited resources, every Imperial agency on Lothal was fighting for priority in using courier droids. When Gandr suggested that the Empire would not have cut them off unless Lothal was in real danger, Jessa disagreed and speculated that the Imperial authorities had overreacted; creating more hardship for data-security experts like her. Since all security sweeps of the network had been suspended to minimize the system load, hackers and other criminals had a "free ride."[5]

After Merei discovered that the Empire was going to arrest her for her involvement in the Transportation Ministry data breach, she called her mother and told her and Gandr to leave Capital City immediately and meet her at a series of coordinates beyond the Easthills. While Jessa was annoyed that Merei had contacted her while driving a jumpseeder, she complied with her daughter's instructions after Merei stressed that they were all in trouble. Jessa and Gandr drove their landspeeder to Merei's coordinates, which turned out to be the bar at Old Jho's Pit Stop. Merei had earlier made arrangements with the Ithorian tavern keeper Old Jho to smuggle her poet friend Holshef offworld.[5]

Joining the Rebellion[edit | edit source]

"I'm going to regret this. We'll take our speeder—unless you can figure out how to get three people on a jumpspeeder."
"Jess, that's insane."
"This whole thing's insane. Fortunately, we forged our speeder's transponder code last night in case we had to make a run for it."
―Jessa and Gandr discussing their plans to evacuate the Leonis family[src]

Jessa initially reacted with anger when she learned that her own daughter Merei was the culprit behind the data breach at the Transportation Ministry. When Merei recounted the story of her involvement with the Gray Syndicate and how she and Hekyl had tried to evade Imperial investigators, Jessa expressed anger that Merei had ruined their lives by becoming an insurgent fighting the Empire. By contrast, her husband Gandr was amused to learn about their daughter's exploits. Jessa relented after Merei showed her and Gandr several highly-classified Imperial documents which documented various Imperial atrocities including Operation Guiding Light and efforts to cover-up the mass murder of protesters in the Westhills. These documents confirmed Jessa and Gandr's suspicions about the Empire's ulterior motives.[5]

While complimenting Merei's efforts to create a fake ISB identity which had enabled her obtain these classified documents, she pointed out that her daughter had left trails for Imperial investigators to follow. When Merei asked about her classmate Jix, who had been arrested in connection with the Transportation Ministry data breach, Jessa replied that the youth was beyond their help and that the best they could hope was a short sentence for low-level slicing. When Merei asked about checking on her boyfriend Zare's status, Jessa explained that his records had not fully updated yet and suggested checking them in the morning. That night, Jessa and her family stayed at Old Jho's Pit Stop since it was unsafe for them to return to their apartment in Capital City.[5]

The following day, Jessa and her daughter browsed through the Imperial data network. While there was no warrant out for Merei's arrest yet, the Imperial authorities had launched an inquiry into a highway accident involving her and Holshef the previous night and released Hestia Tarleton, the student whose photo Merei had stolen in an attempt to evade Imperial investigators. In addition, Jessa uncovered more information about the secret Imperial projects that were based on Arkanis' Area Null. Shortly later, Jessa discovered that Zare's cadet status had been suspended and that he was scheduled to face a military tribunal. At the same time, Old Jho had made an arrangement to ferry the Spanjaf family and Holshef in his freighter to the edge of the Garel system, where they would be picked up by the Spectres rebel cell. Realizing that the Empire would arrest Zare's parents next, Jessa and Merei decided to return to Capital City and evacuate them before the Empire arrived.[5]

Jessa and Merei drove to the Leonis family residence in their landspeeder where they managed to pick up Tepha, Leo Leonis, and their nanny droid Auntie Nags. While driving towards the Westhills, they were contacted by Gandr, who had made arrangements with Old Jho to pick them up in his freighter on a farm road off the main highway. On the way there, they were pursued by several Imperial speeder bikes, which forced them to stop at a roadblock. Before the Imperial authorities could arrest them, Old Jho arrived with his freighter and blasted the Imperials. Together, the Spanjafs and Leonises then fled to the Garel system.[5]

After fleeing to Garel, Jessa and her daughter Merei took part in a successful mission to rescue Zare Leonis and his sister Dhara Leonis from Area Null. While Merei, Zare, and another prisoner named Beck Ollet went to free Dhara from her cell, Jessa took control of the facility's main computer nod and used it to lock Imperial reinforcements out of the towers and elevators. After rescuing Zare and Dhara, they escaped back to Garel.[5]

Personality and traits[edit | edit source]

"Not many security experts could, Mer Bear—but luckily your mother's one of them."
―Gandr complimenting Jessa's data-security skills[src]

Jessa Spanjaf was a petite, dark-eyed human female. She had an inquisitive nature and also had a penchant for noticing when things were not right, whether it was being two minutes late for a curfew or making a typo in a school essay. Jessa disapproved of her daughter Merei playing grav-ball or joyriding with boys; two issues that were a bone of contention between her and Merei. Jessa was pleased when Merei decided to follow her career path by studying information security and anti-intrusion measures at the Vocational School for Institutional Security. As a data-security expert, Jessa was knowledgeable of both data networks and anti-intrusion measures. She was also skilled enough to freeze a faulty snooper program and preserve its code.[1]

Despite her initial angry reaction to discovering her daughter's double life, Jessa relented after Merei showed her classified documents exposing the Empire's atrocities on Lothal. Jessa later praised her daughter for risking her own life and freedom to uncover the Empire's unsavory secrets. While reading through the classified Imperial files that her daughter had stolen, Jessa exuded a level-head calmness that soothed her daughter's anxieties about her friends Jix Hekyl and Zare Leonis, who had also fallen afoul of the Empire. She also remained calm but alert when accompanying Merei to alert Zare's parents and move them into hiding. Jessa's slicing skills were put to great use when she and her daughter participated in a successful mission to rescue Zare and his sister Dhara Leonis on Arkanis.[5]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

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