"Uh-oh, Dad's going to make a speech."
"Just a short one."
―Zare and Leo[1]

Leo Leonis was an agricultural scientist in the employ of the Galactic Empire. He was married to Tepha Leonis and his daughter Dhara attended the Imperial Academy on Lothal. His son Zare entered Lothal's AppSci institute to prepare for attendance to the Imperial Academy. During the last days of the Galactic Republic, Leo and his wife Tepha developed genetically modified crops to help feed the people of Chrona and ran into problems with the Trade Federation, a powerful galactic corporation. Due to these experiences, Leo developed a strong dislike for the Trade Federation and compared the new Galactic Empire favorably to the former Republic.

Under Imperial rule, Leo and Tepha worked as agricultural scientists for the Imperial Ministry of Agriculture. They also had two children: a daughter named Dhara and a son named Zare. Their travels took them through many different planets before they settled down on Lothal, a backwater Outer Rim world. Throughout his adult life, Leo had a reputation for being a staunch Imperial supporter despite the Empire's growing heavy-handed policies on the planet Lothal. He was devastated by the alleged disappearance of his daughter Dhara. In reality, she had been kidnapped by the Grand Inquisitor for a secret Imperial project called Project Harvester.

Leo took pride in having both his children attend the Imperial Academy on Lothal. For a long time, Leo clung tightly to the belief that the Empire was doing its best to find Dhara. While Leo was initially unwilling to confront the truth, he later reluctantly accompanied his wife into hiding after Zare was arrested and tried for treason against the Empire. After Merei Spanjaf and the Spectres rescued Zare and Dhara, Leo and Tepha embraced their two children on the planet Garel.


Chrona crop engineering[]

"My parents developed the crops that the Trade Federation suppressed. They lived on Chrona and testified before the Republic judiciary. My father still complains about the verdict all the time."
―Zare's recollections of his father's experiences with the Trade Federation[1]

Leo Leonis grew up during the last decades of the Galactic Republic prior to the Clone Wars and its subsequent transformation in the Galactic Empire. Together with his wife Tepha, the two worked for the Trade Federation to create genetically superior crops to help feed the people of Chrona. The new crops were not ready for mass production, so the Federation disallow their use in order to protect their profit margins. A case was filed in the Republic courts to allowed the Federation to withhold release until production was ready. Leo and Tepha both presented testimony to the Republic judiciary and the court ruled in the Trade Federation's favor. One year after their development the crops were released to the people of Chrona.[2]

Years later, the Galactic Empire rewrote the narrative of the Trade Federation's work on Chrona. Their story was that the Federation had created a famine on the planet to make the population sick and thus needing of the Federation's medical supplies.[3] No such famine or consequent sickness ever occurred. The Federation only wished to delay production to ensure a hefty profit margin, and the delay did not cause any food shortages.[2]

Moving to Lothal[]

"Tell that to Beck."
"Invite him over and I will. The men and women who run the Empire have to think of the well-being of the entire galaxy, not just one planet—let alone one orchard. That's what your sister's learning to do, and apparently it's what you need to do, too, Zare."
―A political discussion between Zare and Leo[1]

During the time of the Galactic Empire, Leo and Tepha found work as agricultural scientists with the Ministry of Agriculture. Their work led them to move between several worlds throughout the Galaxy including Hosk Station, Moorja, and Viamarr. Leo and Tepha eventually raised a family with two children: a daughter named Dhara and a son named Zare, who were one year apart. To raise their children, Leo and his wife obtained a nanny droid called Auntie Nags. By the time their children were in their early teenage years, Leo and Tepha had settled down on Lothal, a hitherto backwater Outer Rim world that had become the target of Imperial-sponsored development projects. Within his family, Leo was known as a staunch supporter of the Galactic Empire.[1]

Since his daughter Dhara had turned fifteen, she was eligible to enroll at the Academy for Young Imperials in Lothal's Capital City. Leo's son Zare, who was still fourteen, had to wait another year and enrolled at the Junior Academy of Applied Sciences where he became part of the school's grav-ball team, the AppSci SaberCats. Following Dhara's acceptance to study at the Imperial Academy, he and his wife hosted a farewell dinner to celebrate Dhara's acceptance. This dinner was attended by several prominent local Imperial officials including Assistant Vice Minister Sarkos, Lieutenant Piers Roddance, and Governor Arihnda Pryce. During the occasion, Leo gave a brief speech extolling the Empire and castigating the former Trade Federation. His speaking abilities were praised by Governor Pryce who commented that Leo should have been a politician.[1]

Later, his son Zare befriended a local Human boy named Beck Ollet and another recent Corld Worlds migrant named Merei Spanjaf, a skilled hacker. Both Ollet and Spanjaf were members of Zare's grav-ball team. Ollet's family had previously owned a fruit orchard in the Westhills which had been expropriated by the Imperial Agricultural Collective for some unspecified development project. Later, Ollet, Zare, and Spanjaf learnt that the Imperial authorities had reclassified Ollet's former orchard as a mining excavation area. This development greatly distressed Zare and his friends.[1]

When Zare related this incident to his parents, Leo argued that Ollet's farm was a small price to pay for the benefits that mining would bring to the Lothalian economy. He even offered to invite Beck over to lecture him about the benefits that the Empire would bring to Lothal. Meanwhile, his more moderate wife Tepha believing that their colleagues at the Agricultural Ministry had mistakenly reclassified the orchard for mining extraction. This incident initiated the growing differences between the staunchly patriotic Leo and his increasingly disillusioned son Zare.[1]

Defending the Empire[]

"I hope that law-enforcement action included a few good whacks with a rifle butt."
"Leo—there's no need for that. But how disappointing to discover such lawlessness here on Lothal."
―Leo and Tepha reacting to the Imperial suppression of a protest in the Westhills[1]

As their first year on Lothal dragged on, Leo remained a staunch apologist for the Empire's policies towards Lothal. During the fall season, Leo expressed delight that his daughter Dhara was progressing in her Academy training and had been accepted into an Officer training program. While he hope that his daughter who have the opportunity to lead men into battle, Tepha expressed unease about their children being sent to fight in wars. While Leo was aware of his son Zare's growing disillusionment with the Empire, he thought that the boy was naive and needed proper guidance.[1]

Following a failed attempt by insurgents to sabotage Imperial mining machinery in the Westhills, Leo denounced the growing insurgency as a disease and likened it to the selfishness that left the Old Republic weak during the prelude to the Clone Wars. When Zare contended that the insurgents had some grievances and that they were not trying to kill people but to express their frustration, Leo retorted that this was not the way for "civilized" people to protest. Zare then pointed out that the farmers were upset about their farms being turned into mines. In response, Leo pointed out that Beck's parents had voluntarily sold their land.[1]

Tepha then tried to moderate discussion by conceding that the Empire made mistakes but that sabotage and civil disobedience would lead to violence and anarchy. When Zare argued that protests were a way to tell the Empire that a policy was bad, Leo retorted that protests were exploited by evil people. He then pleaded with his son to put his faith in the Empire to get things right in the long run. Following Zare's fifteenth birthday, Leo instructed his son to get his datapad and apply for the Imperial Academy. Zare dutifully complied with his father's wishes and submitted the application with the help of his sister Dhara, who was visiting her family for the winter break.[1]

Despite his pro-Imperial leanings, Zare was not prejudiced against aliens; a position which set him apart from other Imperial loyalists like his son Zare's athletic director Janus Fhurek. After Fhurek demanded that Zare remove two Alien players, the Aqualish Hench Sina and the Rodian Frid Kelio, from his school's grav-ball team, Leo dismissed Fhurek as a small-minded thug who represented the worst of the Outer Rim. In response, Tepha urged her husband not to blame the entire Outer Rim for the actions of one man. Leo and Tepha also advised their son not to "get on the wrong side" of the coach. However, Zare decided to stand up for his Alien friends and kept them on the AppSci SabreCats; prompting Fhurek to unilaterally move them to a different school.[1]

During the spring season, Leo and Tepha were watching a HoloNet news report by the holo-caster Alton Kastle describing a recent disturbance in the Westhills. According to Kastle, insurgents had attacked surveyors and destroyed mining equipment; forcing Imperial stormtroopers to open fire on them. Accepting Kastle's account, Leo lauded the Imperial authorities' efforts to restore law and order and hoped that the "insurgents" received a few "good whacks with a rifle butt." In reality, the Imperial authorities had opened fired on a crowd of peaceful protesters protesting the expropriation of their lands. Zare, who was an eyewitness, knew the truth but decided that it was impossible to reason with his father.[1]

Losing a Daughter[]

"Of course not. Dhara wanted to serve the Empire since she was a little girl. She was your star cadet, Commandant. She'd never do this. Never."
―Leo's response to his daughter Dhara's disappearance[1]

Later, Dhara disappeared while taking part in a military training exercise in Lothal's Easthills. After more than a week of receiving no contact from his daughter, Leo and Tepha were visited by the Academy's Commandant Cumberlayne Aresko, who informed them of their daughter's disappearance. Commandant Aresko reported that Dhara had ran way from the Academy, citing that there had been no signs of a struggle in her quarters and that she had left with her backpack. This news greatly upset Leo and Tepha, who knew that Dhara was a loyal supporter of the Empire and a star cadet. The Imperial authorities issued an alert for Dhara but to no avail. No trace of her was ever found on Lothal.[1]

While Leo remained fervently loyal to the Empire, his wife Tepha and son Zare became skeptical of the Empire's supposed "benevolence." For the next few weeks, Leo and Tepha spent much of their time contacting their friends at every Imperial ministry in Lothal and pleading for help to find their daughter. While sympathetic to Leo and his wife's plight, these officials were unable to help. Over time, Leo came to believe that the Empire was telling the truth about his daughter's disappearance and expressed anger that he had not recognized Dhara's alleged distress. He also told his family that some Imperial minister somewhere was about to message them that Dhara had made contact and would soon be coming home.[1]

Meanwhile, Zare and Tepha came to question the official Imperial account of Dhara's disappearance. Desperate, Zare concocted a plan to infiltrate the Academy for Young Imperials to discover the whereabouts of his sister. Tepha reluctantly consented to her son's plan but made an agreement that they would never tell his father Leo, who was a passionate Imperial loyalist. To maintain the facade that Zare was a loyal Imperial citizen, Tepha arranged another farewell dinner and invited several Imperial dignitaries including Governor Pryce, Lieutenant Roddance, and Commandant Aresko. Seeing his son's acceptance as a mark of honor, Leo stood somber but proud during the party.[1]

Zare at the Academy[]

"You have nothing to be sorry about, son. The Empire is working every day to find Dhara and see that she returns home. You just focus on being the best cadet you can be, and leave worrying about your sister to others."
―Leo believed that the Empire was doing its best to find his daughter[4]

Following Zare's two-week orientation at the Academy, Leo and Tepha corresponded with their son via a datapad. During the conversation, Leo asked his son about his well-being and progress at the Academy. Zare responded that he was in good spirits and hoped to see his parents on Visiting Day. When Zare mentioned his sister's name during the conversation, Leo briefly blinked with rage but forced himself to nod. Leo was still frustrated and bitter that the authorities had failed to find his daughter. After Zare apologized, Leo reassured his son that he had noting to apologize about and urged Zare to focus on his studies while the authorities did their best to find Dhara. While Tepha, Zare, and their son's girlfriend knew that the Empire was covering up the truth behind Dhara's disappearance, they did not confide this matter with Leo; knowing his pro-Imperial sympathies. When Merei visited the Leonis household for a social call, Merei and Tepha took care to avoid explicitly mentioning Merei's efforts to hack the Lothal Imperial network to ascertain Dhara's whereabouts.[4]

Later, Zare and his girlfriend Merei Spanjaf learnt that the official Imperial account of Dhara's disappearance was a fabrication. In reality, Dhara had been kidnapped by the Grand Inquisitor for a secret project called Project Harvester, which identified Force-sensitive individuals to train as Inquisitors. Project Harvester was run from a secret installation on Arkanis that was connected to the Imperial Academy there.[4] Merei and Zare shared this information with Tepha, who took care to conceal it from Leo since his pro-Imperial leanings had blinded him to accepting anything that question the official Imperial narrative.[5]

During Zare's visit home in the winter break, Leo nattered on about the state of lawlessness on Lothal while watching one of Alton Kastle's morning news reports. At breakfast, he commented that the recent attacks on the Imperial Academy and on Empire Day were not isolated incidents but were part of a pattern that threatened commerce, authority, and the social order. Leo also reiterated that he had received an assurance from Governor Pryce that the Empire was doing everything in its power to locate Dhara. While his wife and son disagreed with the Empire, they took care not to argue with Leo. Later that evening, Leo openly welcomed a news report that Governor Pryce was implementing a planetwide crackdown on dissent and sedition on Lothal. This operation would involve all military personnel and Leo hope that this would give his son an opportunity to prove his mettle and to make his family proud.[5]

Leo's wishes were granted when his son and the other Cadets were co-opted into Imperial military patrols. After Zare exposed a fellow Cadet Nazhros Oleg for attempting to pervert the course of justice by shielding his uncles from arrest, Zare was immediately transferred to the Arkanis Academy as a "reward" for his loyalty to the Empire. Believing that their son's mid-year transfer was a good sign, Leo and Tepha managed to farewell his son prior to his departure to Arkanis. However, Merei quickly discovered that the Imperial authorities had transferred Zare to Arkanis because the Grand Inquisitor believed that he was linked to a Lothal rebel cell. Merei brought the news to Tepha during a visit to the Leonis household but the two women did not disclose the matter to Leo.[5]

After arriving at the Arkanis Academy, Zare managed to find a comm booth in the nearby town of Scaparus Port and make a long-range comm transmission to his family on Lothal. Zare's call reached his parents' comm terminal at midnight Lothal time. Tepha was about to tell Zare the truth behind his midyear transfer to Arkanis when Leo joined the conversation. Despite the midnight call, Leo was delighted to see his son again and exchanged pleasantries about the weather on Arkanis, agricultural test beds, and various ministers' failings for several minutes. While Leo was going back to bed, Tepha took the opportunity to tell her son to contact Merei.[6]

Breaking with the Empire[]

"You're all gone crazy."
"Leo, if you want to wait for the Empire to manufacture some lie about how our son died, go ahead. But you'll be doing it alone."
―Leo and Tepha dealing with the revelation of Zare's arrest[6]

Later, Zare's girlfriend Merei Spanjaf learned that Zare Leonis had been arrested by the Imperial authorities on Arkanis and was scheduled to face trial before a military tribunal. Realizing that the Empire would arrest Leo and Tepha next, Merei and her mother Jessa traveled to the Leonis family apartment in a speeder. Leo initially responded to Merei's news with disbelief and anger. When Tepha, who had known the truth about Dhara and Zare, told Leo that they had to leave, he insisted that he was not going anywhere until he knew what this matter was about. When Merei told him that Dhara had been kidnapped by the Empire and that Zare had infiltrated the Academy to find her and to aid the Lothal insurgency, Leo claimed that she was delusional and reiterated his belief that the Empire was doing its best to find Dhara.[6]

When Tepha backed Merei, Leo expressed anger at his wife for not telling him; prompting her to respond that she had with-held this information since he would react with anger and denial. When Merei presented the files on Dhara and Zare from her datapad, Leo dismissed them as fake documents and announced that he was going to contact the authorities to straighten things it out. Before Leo could carry this out, he was stunned by Merei and knocked unconscious. Tepha then announced that they would be escaping with the Spanjafs and instructed Auntie Nags to help carry Leo into the waiting speeder.[6]

Leo began to stir while Tepha and the Spanjafs were driving along the highway to the Westhills. The Spanjafs had arranged to rendezvous with the Ithorian tavern keeper Old Jho's freighter at a prearranged location in the Westhills. On the way, they were trapped by several Imperial speeder bikes. Leo remained in the speeder while his wife, Auntie Nags, and the Spanjafs emerged from the vehicle to surrender. However, Jho promptly arrived in his freighter and blasted the Imperials. Leo then accompanied his wife, Nags, and the Spanjafs as they boarded the freighter and traveled to the nearby planet of Garel. After Merei, Jessa, and three members of the rebel cell known as the Spectres successfully rescued Dhara and Zare from the Arkanis Academy, Leo and his wife were present to greet their children on Garel. He embraced both his children particularly Dhara, who asked her parents to never let go.[6]

Personality and traits[]

"Oh, no, Governor. For my husband that really was a short speech. Give him a chance and we'll be stuck listening to him all night."
―Tepha describing her husband's penchant for making long-winded speeches[1]

Due to his unpleasant dealings with the Trade Federation when he was a young agricultural scientist on the planet Chrona, Leo had a dim view of the pre-Imperial era and praised the Empire for promoting development in the galaxy. His staunch loyalty to the Galactic Empire led him to rationalize or to minimize the Empire's excesses when confronted with the facts. While he was a faithful husband to Tepha and a good father to Dhara and Zare, Leo was also known to be deeply set in his views and to give long lectures in order to convert people to his point-of-view. On another occasion, his pro-Imperial leanings led him to fully accept a distorted report of an Imperial massacre of farmers in the Westhills.[1]

Despite his pro-Imperial leanings, Leo was critical of xenophobic Imperial supporters like Janus Fhurek, who disliked Aliens and attempted to get his son Zare to remove two Alien players from his grav-ball team. While Leo did not hesitate to castigate Fhurek for his prejudiced views, he inadvertently exposed his own Core Worlds prejudices against people from the poorer Outer Rim. Following his daughter Dhara's disappearance, Leo accepted the official Imperial account that she had run away and blamed himself for not spotting alleged signs of her distress.[1] Despite this, Leo was ultimately loyal to his family and did not turn his son, daughter or wife when he learned they were participating in anti-Imperial activities. He also accompanied his family as they fled off-world and was present to greet his daughter following her rescue.[6]

Behind the scenes[]

Leo Leonis first appeared as a supporting character in Jason Fry's 2014 young-adult novel Edge of the Galaxy, the first of the Servants of the Empire series which is set in the world of Star Wars Rebels and told through the point-of-view of Zare Leonis, a young Imperial Cadet and Leo's son. The author has described Leo as playing the role of a "smug snob" who epitomized the tensions between the wealthier Core Worlds and the poorer Outer Rim worlds; a theme explored in some Star Wars Legends literature. In Fry's view, Leo's remark that Janus Fhurek, a clear-cut xenophobe, would be fixing droids or cleaning streets in the Core Worlds reflected contemporary Core vs Outer Rim tensions.[7]



Notes and references[]

  1. 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 Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy
  2. 2.0 2.1 Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy: "Well, sir, the Trade Federation had developed its own modified crops, but they weren't ready for mass production. They didn't care about medical services, just their own profit margins. And it was only a year before the new crops were distributed, after the Republic settled the court case in the Trade Federation's favor." [...] "My parents developed the crops that the Trade Federation suppressed," Zare said. "They lived on Chrona and testified before the Republic judiciary. My father still complains about the verdict all the time."
  3. Servants of the Empire: Edge of the Galaxy: "Chrona was where the Trade Federation helped engineer a famine," he said. "They suppressed harvests of crops genetically modified to deliver more nutrients because a healthier population would need fewer medical services—on which they had a monopoly. Productivity on Chrona suffered for years until the Empire nationalized agriculture and reintroduced the modified..."
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Servants of the Empire: Rebel in the Ranks
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy
  7. Mike Cooper: Jason Fry Keeps Talking To Us: Wired For The Classics (2014-11-14). Eleven-ThirtyEight. Archived from the original on June 16, 2020.