- "Care to let me in on the secret?"
"Kid, I'm about to let everyone in on the secret."
- ―Ezra Bridger and Kanan Jarrus, just before the latter reveals himself as a Jedi
The mission to free Wookiee prisoners was an operation undertaken by the rebels who were based on and around the planet Lothal in the year 5 BBY. The rebels learned what they believed was the location of the Wookiees, who had been enslaved by the Galactic Empire, and attempted to rescue the Wookiees aboard Transport 651, an Imperial Gozanti-class cruiser. Unknown to the rebels, however, was that they had walked into a trap set by Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau. They soon realized the Wookiees were not aboard the vessel, and the rebels were forced to flee from Kallus and his forces. During the escape, one of the rebels, Ezra Bridger, was captured, forcing the rest of the crew to later return and rescue him. While a prisoner, Bridger learned that the Wookiees were being taken to the spice mines of the planet Kessel.
The rebels soon arrived at the spice mines of Kessel, where their ship, the Ghost, fired upon the Imperial stormtroopers guarding the slaves. The rebels were able to make it into the mine and attack the stormtroopers, during which time they freed the prisoners. They were confronted by Kallus and his troops, who opened fire on the rebels and the Wookiees. As the Ghost engaged in battle with TIE fighters, the rebel leader, Kanan Jarrus, ignited his lightsaber and revealed himself as a Jedi who had survived the destruction of the Jedi Order. While Jarrus and other members of his crew secured most of the Wookiees, Bridger went in pursuit of the Wookiee child Kitwarr, who was being chased by a stormtrooper. Jarrus saved them both from Agent Kallus, and the Ghost fled from Kessel with the Wookiees, freeing them from captivity.
After the rebels' successful rescue of the Wookiees, Kallus contacted the Grand Inquisitor, an Imperial Jedi hunter, to inform him that the rebels were led by a Jedi. This led to several more confrontations with both Kallus and the Inquisitor as the rebels continued their operations against the Empire.
- "The Imperial Security Bureau pays attention to patterns. When the Empire's operations are targeted on an ongoing basis, it could signify something more than the theft of a few crates. It could signify the spark of rebellion. Next time they make a move, we'll be waiting for them to snuff out that spark before it catches fire."
- ―Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau
In the year 5 BBY, a group of rebels operated on and around the Outer Rim planet Lothal, where they carried out attacks against the operations of the Galactic Empire. The rebels set their sights on gaining new allies and growing their movement beyond Lothal, so they were given the location of potential allies by Cikatro Vizago, a crime lord and the leader of the Broken Horn Syndicate on Lothal. Their ship, the Ghost, rendezvoused with the vessel of the potential allies, only to find the other ship damaged. After boarding the ship, the rebels discovered that it was a Wookiee starship; it made sense to the rebels that the Wookiees would want to join the fight against the Empire, as the Imperials had taken over their home planet of Kashyyyk. The crew explored the vessel and learned that one of the Wookiees was Wullffwarro, a soldier who fought for the Galactic Republic during the Clone Wars. The rebels also found an injured Trandoshan slaver aboard, who told them that the Trandoshans sold the Wookiees as slaves to the Empire. Hera Syndulla, the owner and pilot of the Ghost, contacted Vizago to tell him what had transpired, and the crime lord said he would find out what happened.
In the meantime, Vizago gave the rebels another job: to steal crates full of blasters from the Empire in Capital City on Lothal. They were able to successfully steal the weapons, as well as food for refugees on Lothal, but the blasters were then stolen by Ezra Bridger, a street orphan from Lothal. Three of the rebels—Kanan Jarrus, the leader of the rebels and a Jedi who survived the destruction of the Jedi Order; Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian explosives expert; and Garazeb Orrelios, a Lasat warrior—pursued Bridger in order to retrieve the supplies. They chased him out of the city while being pursued by Imperial stormtroopers and TIE/ln space superiority starfighters. Bridger managed to escape the rebels but was nearly pinned down by a TIE fighter before it was shot down by the Ghost, piloted by Syndulla. Jarrus allowed Bridger to escape aboard the Ghost, which made its way into space and fought off pursuing TIE fighters before making the jump into hyperspace.
After the rebel attack, Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau—who had been sent to Lothal after the rebels attracted the attention of the ISB—investigated what happened in Capital City. Commandant Cumberlayne Aresko, who was present during the heist, recounted the events to Kallus. The ISB agent explained that the rebels had previously hit other Imperial operations on Lothal, which he feared could lead to a larger rebel movement on Lothal. Kallus then began planning a trap that would allow him to capture the rebels. The rebels, meanwhile, brought the stolen supplies to the refugee settlement known derisively as Tarkintown, named after Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, Governor of the Outer Rim Territories; Tarkin had forced the refugees out of their homes in Tangletown, a Lothal farming community. Once in Tarkintown, the rebels gave the food to the refugees, while Jarrus and Syndulla brought the stolen blaster crates to Vizago. The crime lord paid them in both money and information: the potential location of Wookiee prisoners. Unknown to the rebels, however, was that the information was meant as bait for Kallus's trap.
The rescue mission
- "If all you do is fight for your own life, then your life is worth nothing."
- ―Hera Syndulla, to Ezra Bridger
Although Vizago was unable to determine the identities of the Wookiee prisoners he had located, and so was unsure as to whether they were the ones the rebels had intended to meet, Jarrus put a plan together that would allow the crew to rescue the slaves. The Ghost made its way to the location of Transport 651, an Imperial Gozanti-class cruiser, where Vizago's information said the Wookiees were being held. The Ghost dropped out of hyperspace near the cruiser and, when contacted by the cruiser, Syndulla claimed that they were delivering another Wookiee slave. The Imperial officer they communicated with had no knowledge of such a transfer, so Syndulla lied and said that she was under orders from Governor Tarkin to deliver the Wookiee and that, if the officer did not believe her, he could explain himself to Tarkin. As a result, the cruiser allowed the Ghost to dock with it.
Once docked, two stormtroopers met the rebels at the doors to their ship. Jarrus and Wren presented Orrelios to the stormtroopers, attempting to pass him off as a "rare hairless Wookiee." Thinking they would not believe their deception, Orrelios attacked the stormtroopers and knocked them unconscious, allowing them to continue onward. Jarrus and Orrelios headed towards what they believed was the location of the Wookiees, though in actuality they were headed towards an Imperial ambush, as Kallus had arranged a trap for the rebels. Wren, meanwhile, made her way to a control room with the astromech droid C1-10P, also known as "Chopper," to disable the cruiser's artificial gravity.
As the mission proceeded, Kallus's Star Destroyer, Lawbringer, dropped out of hyperspace, signaling to Syndulla and Bridger, who was also in the Ghost's cockpit, that they had landed in a trap. The Star Destroyer captured the Ghost, which was still connected to Transport 651, and Kallus and his stormtroopers prepared to board the freighter in order to confront the rebels. Syndulla told Bridger to head to the cruiser and warn the others that it was a trap, but Bridger initially refused, saying he did not have it in him to risk his life for people who he had only just met. After a few moments of consideration, however, Bridger ran to the cruiser, where he found Jarrus and Orrelios and warned them of the impending attack.
Bridger did not arrive soon enough, however, and the trio was quickly ambushed by stormtroopers. As Agent Kallus made his way towards them, Wren and Chopper successfully disabled the artificial gravity, throwing the Imperials off-balance and giving the rebels an opportunity to escape. The gravity was restored by the time the rebels reached the airlock, and they began boarding the ship. Bridger attempted to board as well, but he was pushed to the side by Orrelios, who tried to get on the ship first. As a result, Bridger was captured by Agent Kallus, forcing Orrelios to leave the boy behind so the rest of the rebel crew could escape. As the Ghost departed, Wren set off an explosive she placed in the Gozanti cruiser, destroying it.
- "I am Agent Kallus of the Imperial Security Bureau. And you are?"
"Jabba the Hutt! Look, I just met those guys today. I don't know anything."
"You're not here for what you know, Jabba. You're here to be used as bait upon our return to Lothal."
- ―Kallus and Bridger
The Imperials placed Bridger into a cell after his capture, where he was approached by Agent Kallus, who informed the boy that he would be used as bait to capture the rebels upon returning to Lothal. Although Bridger—who sarcastically claimed to be crime lord Jabba the Hutt—thought his plan was foolish, as he did not believe that people were willing to risk their lives to save others, the Ghost crew nonetheless held a vote on whether to return for Bridger. Orrelios and Wren both believed it was too late for the boy and that he would be used as bait, while Syndulla and Chopper voted to rescue him. The deciding vote was left to Jarrus, who decided that they would return to the Star Destroyer and mount a rescue mission.
Not expecting anyone to rescue him, Bridger tricked the stormtroopers guarding him into entering the cell. Once they were inside, Bridger slipped out and locked the stormtroopers within, before making his way to a storage room. He retrieved his gear that the Imperials took from him and stole an Imperial cadet helmet, with which he could overhear the communications aboard the Lawbringer—including how the Wookiees were being taken to work in the spice mines of the planet Kessel. While listening, Bridger also overheard one of the troopers he tricked, LS-005, report that the boy had escaped. Bridger made his way into the ship's ventilation system, while Kallus learned that the rebels had returned, surprising Bridger.
The Ghost docked in one of the ship's hangars, and the Imperials immediately made their way towards their position. Jarrus, Wren, and Orrelios left the ship to find Bridger, while Syndulla remained behind to guard the Ghost. Before leaving the hangar, Wren painted her own personal symbol, an orange starbird, onto the hangar floor, which doubled as an explosive residue. The rebels barely made it out of the hangar before Bridger jumped down from the ventilation shaft and the Imperials caught up with them. With Kallus nearly on top of them, the rebels and Bridger retreated back to the Ghost. Kallus and his stormtroopers fired upon the ship, but it nonetheless began its escape. Once the rebels were aboard the Ghost, Wren set off her explosion, which tore a hole in the hangar and blew numerous stormtroopers into space; Kallus nearly perished before the hull breach could be sealed. In the chaos, the Ghost was able to escape.
Freeing the Wookiees
- "All troopers, focus your fire on… on the Jedi."
- ―Agent Kallus, after Jarrus reveals himself as a Jedi
The Ghost made the jump into hyperspace after fleeing the Lawbringer, and Bridger informed the crew that he learned the Wookiees were being taken to Kessel. The rebels told Bridger, who did not know what the spice mines were, that working in the harsh mines was effectively a death sentence for the Wookiees, who were born on a jungle planet. The rebels decided to mount another rescue attempt, which Kallus suspected, as he had learned that the helmet Bridger wore on the Lawbringer had its communication system active while the Imperials discussed the Wookiee prisoners.
The rebels made their way to Kessel, where the Wookiee prisoners had arrived at spice mine K76. The stormtroopers guarding the slaves, which included Wullffwarro and his son, Kitwarr, led the prisoners towards the mines as the Ghost descended from the sky, firing on the Imperial troops. The Ghost hovered above the mine, allowing Jarrus, Orrelios, Wren, and Bridger to exit the ship and fight the stormtroopers. The three veteran rebels fired on the stormtroopers, keeping them occupied while Bridger sneaked around them, using the distraction as an opportunity to begin freeing the Wookiees. With the Wookiees freed, the former prisoners joined the fight against the stormtroopers, which helped the rebels defeat them.
Shortly after the Wookiees were freed, three TIE fighters approached and fired upon the Ghost. Although the Ghost shot one of them down, they were soon joined by Agent Kallus and his troops, who were aboard another Gozanti-class cruiser. The Ghost led the TIE fighters away, while Kallus and his stormtroopers emerged from the cruiser. As the Ghost engaged and destroyed the TIE fighters, the stormtroopers pinned the rebels and the Wookiees down behind a group of crates, which the rebels and Wookiees used for cover. Jarrus and Syndulla spoke over their communicators and Jarrus told her to flee, but she refused to leave them behind. Instead, Jarrus told her to perform a 22 pickup, which would see the rebels and Wookiees hide in a cargo container that could then be picked up by the ship.
In order to give the others an opportunity to hide in the containers, Jarrus stepped in front of the Imperial troops and ignited his lightsaber, revealing himself to be a Jedi. Kallus and the stormtroopers concentrated their fire on Jarrus, while the rebels and Wookiees were able to enter the cargo containers. Bridger, meanwhile, ran off after Kitwarr, who had fled the area and was being pursued by a stormtrooper. The pursuit led them to a bridge overlooking the deep mines. As they reached the top, the rebels successfully entered the containers with the Wookiees and were picked up by the Ghost, which had fought off the TIE fighters. On the bridge, Bridger was able to escape the stormtrooper by shooting him with his energy slingshot, sending the trooper over the edge. Bridger and Kitwarr were briefly cornered by Kallus, who—after witnessing Bridger use the Force to leap over the stormtrooper—assumed that the boy was Jarrus' Padawan learner. Bridger and Kitwarr were rescued when Jarrus, standing atop the Ghost, arrived to save them. With everyone on board, the Ghost fled Kessel.
- "He says if we ever need help, the Wookiees will be there."
- ―Sabine Wren, translating Wullffwarro
Having escaped Kessel, the Wookiees—including Kitwarr and Wullffwarro—reunited aboard the Ghost. The ship was met by a Wookiee Auzituck anti-slaver gunship, which docked with the Ghost and brought the freed Wookiees on board. Because the rebels secured their freedom, Wullffwarro told them that, if the rebels ever needed help, the Wookiees would be there to help. The Wookiee ship left, and the Ghost returned to Lothal where the rebels intended to return Bridger to his home. Because Bridger had no family, however, and due to his evident Force-sensitivity, Jarrus offered the boy the opportunity to stay with the crew and be trained in the ways of the Jedi. Bridger had to consider whether he wanted to leave with the rebels, and he ultimately chose to do so and became Jarrus' apprentice.
Due to the presence of a Jedi amongst the rebels, Kallus contacted the Grand Inquisitor, a Jedi hunter tasked by the Empire with finding and killing any Jedi who survived the destruction of the Order. Kallus informed the Inquisitor that Jarrus led the rebel cell, information that the Inquisitor used to further the orders of his master, Darth Vader, to destroy all surviving Jedi. This led to further encounters with the Inquisitor, who attempted to kill Jarrus and Bridger on the planet Stygeon Prime; as well as in a confrontation on Fort Anaxes, an asteroid base once used by the Grand Army of the Republic during the Clone Wars. The rebels also went on to attract the attention of Senator Bail Organa of the planet Alderaan, as well as the rebel movement that he helped lead throughout the galaxy. Organa would become one of the founders of the Alliance to Restore the Republic, which the crew of the Ghost would later have a hand in creating.
Behind the scenes
The mission to rescue the Wookiees on Kessel first appeared in Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, a one-hour television movie that serves as the premiere for the animated television series Star Wars Rebels, that aired on October 3, 2014.
- Star Wars Rebels webcomic
- Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion (First appearance)
- Spark of Rebellion: A Star Wars Rebels Cinestory Comic
- The Rebellion Begins
- Who Are the Rebels?
- Ezra's Wookiee Rescue
- Droids in Distress chapter book
- The Secret Jedi: The Adventures of Kanan Jarrus: Rebel Leader
- Star Wars Rebels: The Ultimate Guide
- "Return of the Slavers"—Star Wars Rebels Magazine 5 (Mentioned only)
- "A Time to Survive"—Star Wars Rebels Magazine 27 (Indirect mention only)
Notes and references
- Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion
- Star Wars Rebels – "Droids in Distress"
- Star Wars: Galactic Atlas places the events of Star Wars Rebels: Spark of Rebellion, which depicts the mission to free Wookiee prisoners, in 5 BBY.
- Droids in Distress chapter book
- The Rebellion Begins
- Rebel Journal by Ezra Bridger
- Star Wars Rebels – "Rise of the Old Masters"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Gathering Forces"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Fire Across the Galaxy"