- "That will be my ship."
- ―Natasi Daala, seeing Night Hammer for the first time
The Knight Hammer, originally named the Night Hammer, was a black Executor-class Star Dreadnought constructed in secret by Superior General Sander Delvardus and appropriated by Admiral Natasi Daala after Delvardus's death at her hands. Covered in stealth armor and hosting automated systems that allowed it to run with a fraction of the standard crew size, the Knight Hammer was particularly advanced for ships of its class. Daala used the Super Star Destroyer as a symbol of Imperial power, reuniting the remnants of the Empire under its banner as she prepared for an assault against the New Republic. When she decided to use the vessel against the New Jedi Order on Yavin 4, she rechristened the ship from Night Hammer to Knight Hammer as a private joke and symbol of its intended role in eliminating the New Republic and Jedi.
Daala's attack on Yavin 4 was thrown awry when the vanguard fleet under the command of Vice Admiral Gilad Pellaeon was pushed out of the Yavin system by the Jedi amassed on the moon below. Arriving shortly after, the Knight Hammer bombarded the moon and the Jedi facilities. The arrival of the New Republic MC90 cruiser Galactic Voyager under the command of Admiral Ackbar made the Knight Hammer divert its fire from the Jedi, but the Super Star Destroyer's firepower and Daala's reinforcements were able to hold the Republic forces at bay. Jedi Knight Callista Ming, however, infiltrated her way aboard the ship and rigged its complement of TIE bombers to fire their concussion missiles into the Knight Hammer's engines. With its engines crippled, the Knight Hammer fell into the gas giant Yavin Prime and was destroyed.
- "Only the Executor was this big—and that one ship practically bankrupted the Empire."
- ―Gilad Pellaeon
An Executor-class Star Dreadnought, the Knight Hammer was advanced for Super Star Destroyers of its class. Plated with heavy black stealth armor, the vessel was nearly invisible to enemy forces. Measuring 19 kilometers, it was the equal of twenty Imperial-class Star Destroyers, wielding incredible firepower and having few vulnerabilities. The combination of its size and color gave the Knight Hammer potent psychological value, with its commander able to use it to demoralize enemies. It was a symbol of Imperial might, the most powerful ship in its fleet. The scale of the ship had drawbacks as well, though; the Knight Hammer was both very expensive and cumbersome. It had at least 293 decks, and transport tubes ran through the ship to aid in moving around. Simple schematics of the Knight Hammer were provided throughout the vessel to help new recruits orient themselves in the massive ship.
The Knight Hammer could carry a crew of up to one hundred thousand, a relatively small crew for its size. This was made possible by a network of highly redundant automated command systems. It could hold enough forces to serve as an occupation force on a conquered world. Thousands of TIE/LN starfighters and TIE/sa bombers filled its launching bays, with certain bays in the aft of the ship, directly beside the massive engine systems, dedicated to bomber squadrons. Hundreds of escape pods were available in case an evacuation was required.
The Knight Hammer featured an extravagant ready room, approximately the size of the command deck of a Victory-class Star Destroyer, in which the commander of the vessel could privately strategize. It came with its own sleeping quarters, was equipped with food processing stations, and had access to escape pods for the ship's command-level staff. A viewing window looked out onto the stars.
Following its defeat in the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, the Galactic Empire fragmented as a number of warlords broke away and founded independent kingdoms. In 5 ABY, one of them, Admiral Sander Delvardus, was driven from his holdings around Eriadu into the Deep Core by Sien Sovv of the New Republic. There he claimed the title "Superior General," established his own personal satrapy, and began construction on a Super Star Destroyer, the Night Hammer. It was rumored that Delvardus called the ship Night Hammer in honor of his fallen love, Seledra-Zin, who Delvardus had put in a coma after striking her with a dynamic hammer in a fit of rage. Delvardus funneled away credits from the rest of what remained of the Empire, placing almost all of them into the massive ship's development. In 12 ABY, Admiral Natasi Daala had Delvardus and twelve more of the most powerful Deep Core warlords killed to prevent them from tearing apart Imperial unity. Upon investigating Delvardus's assets and finding that the warlord had siphoned away a large number of Imperial credits, Daala went to his fortress world to speak with his second in command, Colonel Ivan Cronus. Cronus took her to the edge of the planet's system where Night Hammer waited, and upon first seeing the vessel, Daala claimed it as her flagship.
Daala at first used the Night Hammer in her effort to reunite the fragments of the Empire, taking the ship from system to system in order to secure loyalties, forge alliances, and motivate the subjects of the Empire to work harder. Around her new ship, Daala gathered 112 Victory-class Star Destroyers and another 45 Imperial-class Star Destroyers; the Night Hammer and its accompanying fleet remained docked at a nexus station in the Deep Core as Daala prepared to take action with her new forces. She met with Vice Admiral Gilad Pellaeon in the Night Hammer's ready room to select their first target; after concluding that Coruscant was too difficult a fight and putting it off as a later potential target, Daala decided to eliminate the New Jedi Order at their Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4. With the Victories, Cronus would occupy the New Republic's attention elsewhere, while Pellaeon would lead the first wave of the attack on Yavin with the Imperials and Daala would follow in the Night Hammer to secure the system.
When two Jedi Knights, Kyp Durron and Dorsk 81, infiltrated Daala's muster of the fleet and overheard her plans, the Admiral was forced to move up her schedule. Cronus was dispatched to wreak havoc on Khomm and elsewhere, while Pellaeon was sent directly to Yavin 4 with his fleet of seventeen Imperial-class Star Destroyers. Aboard Night Hammer, Daala gathered enough of her forces to permanently occupy the praxeum. Daala's final order before launching was to rechristen the ship Knight Hammer, as a symbol of her planned destruction of the New Republic through the annihilation of the Jedi.
The battle of Yavin 4Edit
- "That's Daala. She doesn't even know what she's firing at."
- ―Han Solo
Having been warned by the Jedi about the impending attack, Admiral Ackbar of the New Republic took his portion of the fleet, including his flagship, the MC90 cruiser Galactic Voyager, and headed for Yavin 4. Meanwhile, Pellaeon had encountered a setback; the Jedi had combined forces to push his entire fleet out of the Yavin system. When the Knight Hammer arrived in-system, it was to find no forces around Yavin 4. Daala initiated a scan of the system for Pellaeon's fleet, but to no avail. Unwilling to commit her snubfighters to a battle where the enemy had resources she had not anticipated, Daala ordered the Knight Hammer's flights of TIE fighters and bombers to stand down. Instead, the Knight Hammer jammed communications, dropped into orbit around Yavin 4, and opened fire on the moon with all its turbolaser batteries, targeting Jedi structures and setting the surrounding forests aflame.
The Millennium Falcon, carrying Jedi Master Luke Skywalker and Jedi Knight Callista Ming, among others, arrived in the Yavin system mid-bombardment, and the Knight Hammer turned some of its guns on the other ship. As the Falcon avoided its fire, the Knight Hammer dispatched its TIE fighters to bring down the smaller vessel. However, the Falcon was able to evade them, too, and got to ground on the moon below, where Skywalker aided in fighting off the Imperial ground forces. Ming, meanwhile, hijacked a TIE bomber and flew it back up to the Knight Hammer, where she faked damage and was granted entry into the Super Star Destroyer's rear bomber bay, still holding its full complement of bombers.
Meanwhile, the Falcon, under the command of Han Solo, headed back into space to make a run at the Knight Hammer. The Super Star Destroyer ceased firing on the moon below and turned all guns on the Falcon, then launched four squadrons from its forward hangar against the ship. It was at this point that Ackbar's fleet arrived, consisting of the Galactic Voyager and four CR90 corvettes. As the New Republic forces sent the TIE fighters into retreat back to the Super Star Destroyer and provided sanctuary for the Falcon, the Knight Hammer opened fire on the Voyager. Ackbar intended to hold off Daala until New Republic reinforcements reached Yavin, but before he had a chance, Cronus and his fleet of Victory-class Star Destroyers arrived in system to join forces with Daala. Catching the New Republic ships off guard, Cronus's fleet took out one of Ackbar's corvettes. The Knight Hammer began indiscriminately firing into the battle, catching one of Cronus's ships in the crossfire. One more corvette was taken out, and Cronus himself was killed when a damaged corvette piloted itself into his flagship. The Galactic Voyager broke away from the moon and headed for the gas giant Yavin Prime, and the Knight Hammer pursued. As they closed on Ackbar's vessel, Daala got word from Pellaeon outside the system, where his ships had at last settled.
As the battle outside was taking place, Ming locked out the Knight Hammer's personnel from the bay she was docked in and began rigging each bomber to automatically fire its concussion missiles into the bulkhead separating the bay from the engines. She then fled the bay via transport tube, heading for the ship's bridge. As she neared it, the timer ran out and the bombers opened fire. A volley of missile explosions ripped open the aft end of the Knight Hammer, and the Super Star Destroyer's engines went dead. The power throughout the vessel dropped, a shockwave rippled its way toward the bow, and the ship went dead in space and began to drift directly into the gas giant. The entire rear third of the ship sealed itself off as life support failed throughout the vessel and toxins began leaking into the habitable areas.
Out among Daala's fleet, panic broke out as the Imperials witnessed the extensive damage done to the Knight Hammer. Daala called for assistance from Cronus, but upon learning that he was dead, she was forced to reassess the situation. She realized the Knight Hammer was irreparable in the time she had left, and was doomed to fall into Yavin; what was more, the rest of the New Republic fleet arrived in that moment, vastly outnumbering her remaining forces. At that, Daala ordered an evacuation of the Knight Hammer. She remained behind as her bridge crew left, letting them believe she was going down with the ship, then headed for the command escape pods in her ready room. However, she was stopped by Callista Ming, who intended to delay Daala long enough to doom her in the ship's death. After fruitlessly shooting at her with a blaster and having her shots deflected by Ming's lightsaber, Daala hit Ming with a stun blast, knocking the Jedi unconscious. As the Knight Hammer fell into the atmosphere of Yavin, Daala evacuated the doomed vessel. Ming recovered and followed shortly after. The Knight Hammer, heated by atmospheric friction and crushed by pressure, exploded as it hurtled into the depths of the gas giant.
Commanders and crewEdit
Though the Night Hammer was built for Sander Delvardus, Natasi Daala was its first and only commander. Despite her preference for a smaller command post, Daala believed that an officer of her position could have no lesser a ship than the Super Star Destroyer. She used the vessel as a psychological weapon, expecting its arrival in a battle to be a blow to the opposing side's morale. Her renaming of the vessel was symbolic of the destruction she hoped it would inflict on the New Republic and Jedi, and to Daala proved she had a sense of humor. The Admiral placed stock in her image and mystique, letting her crew believe she was going down with her ship when the vessel was doomed.
With a maximum complement of one hundred thousand, the Knight Hammer's crew was small for a ship of its size. Despite the usual Imperial policy against females in the military, the vessel under Daala had female officers in its bridge crew. Throughout her travels around the remnants of the Empire in the Super Star Destroyer, Daala was also accompanied by a detachment of Royal Guards.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Knight Hammer was created for Kevin J. Anderson's 1995 novel Darksaber. Darksaber declares the ship to be as large as the Executor, which as of 1995 was eight kilometers; the novel, in fact, also specifically states the ship is eight kilometers long. Since then, however, the Executor and all ships of its class have been retconned to nineteen kilometers long.
- "Murder in Slushtime"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 14 ("Callista Ming" capsule)
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- The Essential Chronology
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Third Edition, Revised and Expanded
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 79 (DAA4, Admiral Daala)
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Essential Atlas
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- The Essential Reader's Companion
Notes and referencesEdit
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 Darksaber
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Darksaber states Night Hammer to be 8 kilometers long; however, in this same passage it is stated to be as large as the Executor, and the rest of the novel indicates it to be of the same class. While as of Darksaber the Executor and its class were 8 kilometers long, that figure has since been retconned to 19 kilometers in sources such as .
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Essential Atlas
- ↑ The New Essential Guide to Characters
- ↑ The Essential Chronology