- "We taught these people the 'by-the-book' method of starfighter combat. Young Pash read our datamanuals, and then threw them away and wrote his own."
- ―Gola Chall, Alliance mole at the Vensenor Flight Academy
Pash Cracken was a Human male career starfighter pilot who throughout his life served in the Rebel Alliance, the New Republic, and the Galactic Alliance. Born on the planet Contruum around the year 20 BBY, he was taught both morality and starfighter combat by his father, Airen, whom he followed into the Rebel Alliance during his teenage years. Cracken enrolled at the Galactic Empire's Vensenor Flight Academy under a false identity to hone his skills, and after graduating, he led an entire wing of TIE fighter pilots in defecting to the Alliance. The members of the newly-dubbed Cracken's Flight Group were assigned A-wing fighters and given patrol duty at an Alliance base on the planet Xyquine II, which was eventually abandoned when the Empire attacked. During the evacuation, Cracken ordered all personnel to subtract the number two from their assigned hyperspace coordinates and then led his flight group in destroying the Victory-class Star Destroyer Exsanguinator. The former maneuver shook the pursuit of eavesdropping Imperials and became famously known as the "Cracken Twist;" both maneuvers turned Cracken into a legend.
When the Alliance became the New Republic, the pilots of Cracken's Flight Group began to view their leader as an invincible hero, and Cracken requested a transfer to the legendary Rogue Squadron in 7 ABY so that he might reassess his skills. One of his first missions with the Rogues was a covert insertion onto the Empire's capital world of Coruscant in order to gather intelligence prior to a New Republic siege of the planet. Cracken flew a Z-95 Headhunter when the Rogues disabled Coruscant's planetary shields, and the New Republic successfully captured the world. Rogue Squadron spent the subsequent weeks obtaining bacta in order to combat the deadly Krytos virus left on-world by the departing Imperials; after a cure was developed, all the Rogues save for Cracken resigned their commissions and initiated a guerrilla war against former Imperial Head of State Ysanne Isard. Cracken remained with the New Republic due to his father's role as Director of Intelligence, but he lent Rogue Leader Wedge Antilles aid and led an A-wing squadron into the battle that toppled Isard. Two years later, he flew against the forces of the Empire's Grand Admiral Thrawn.
In 28 ABY, Cracken commanded the Interdictor cruiser Memory of Ithor in the war effort of the Galactic Alliance—the New Republic's successor state—against the extra-galactic Yuuzhan Vong. The cruiser was destroyed during a strike at the Yuuzhan Vong–held Bilbringi Shipyards, and Cracken and the surviving crew were taken prisoner on the planet Selvaris. While incarcerated, Cracken and the legendary commando Judder Page received vital information from the intelligence-gathering Ryn Network and arranged for four prisoners to escape and deliver it to Galactic Alliance High Command. Their efforts allowed a Galactic Alliance strike force to rescue them, but two subsequent battles brought Cracken to Caluula Station, where he was again captured and taken to enemy-occupied Coruscant. There, a group of heretical Yuuzhan Vong Shamed Ones rescued him from being sacrificed to the Yuuzhan Vong gods. The Galactic Alliance soon thereafter struck at the capital, and Cracken was rescued and recruited into Page's Katarn Commandos as they stormed the citadel of the Yuuzhan Vong's Supreme Overlord Shimrra. They secured the fortress, which allowed Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to kill Shimrra and bring the war to an end.
Joining the fight
- "So, how are Josta and the kids?"
"Great. Dena just started school, and Pash… Well, I may just make a starfighter pilot out of him, yet."
- ―Cryle Cavv and Airen Cracken
Pash Cracken, a Human male, was born on the planet Contruum around 20 BBY to his mother, Josta, and his father, Airen. He also had a sister named Dena. The Crackens were a family of rebels who actively resisted the Galactic Empire, and during Pash and Dena Cracken's childhood, their father led a group known as Cracken's Crew that fought a guerrilla campaign against Imperial occupation of their homeworld. Airen instilled his son with morals, impressing upon him that the Empire was tyrannical and evil, and the young Cracken became eager to join the resistance. Some of his childhood was spent in Z-95 Headhunter holosimulators, and Cracken's father quickly realized that he was a talented pilot. Airen encouraged his son's interest in flying by providing him access to additional simulators and teaching him the basics of starfighter combat. Cracken defeated several skilled pilots in simulator battles, and Airen eventually allowed him to fly real starfighters. The younger Cracken took his first solo flight before he reached the age of thirteen.
During Cracken's teenage years, his father's rebellion successfully liberated Contruum from Imperial rule. Airen joined the Rebel Alliance, a galaxy-wide resistance movement that was fighting a war against the Empire, and after Airen told his son about life in the Rebellion, Pash left his homeworld to join his father. The elder Cracken suggested that he enroll in the Imperial Vensenor Flight Academy, a branch of the Imperial Academy located aboard the Venator-class Star Destroyer Vensenor. It had proved a fertile recruiting ground for Imperial defectors to the Alliance, and Pash Cracken enrolled under a false identity, as his father had already become a famous Rebel general. The younger Cracken found that he was a better pilot than most of his instructors, and though he excelled in all of his studies, his top marks came in classes that involved starfighter tactics. His approach to piloting was unorthodox, innovative, and often reckless, and in repeated combat simulations, it was unbeatable. His instructors were astounded.
During his time at the Imperial Academy, Cracken became a capable commander who inspired devotion in his teammates. Their squadrons flew TIE fighters in battle simulations and constantly completed missions without losing a single pilot. When his comrades fell behind in their academic studies, Cracken forced them to leave the simulators and open their books. He attracted considerable attention from his fellows, and Cracken assembled a group of pilots whom he could trust. His plan was for the group to defect to the Alliance following their graduation. When that time came, Cracken had surpassed all of his instructors in piloting ability, and he graduated in the top one percent of his class. He was immediately commissioned into the Imperial Navy.
Becoming a legend
- "I'm sure the Imperials thought they had caught us with our trousers down, judgin' by how nasty Pash's squadron fought. I never saw a fighter wing take out a Victory-class Star Destroyer before… and we got all our ships away besides. Not one single transport got tagged."
- ―Motto Shemson, an Alliance technician serving at the Xyquine base
Cracken became the Wing Commander of a seventy-two-ship–strong fighter wing of TIE fighters. During his first assignment, he led the entire wing in defecting to the Rebel Alliance. The incident took on a nearly mythical quality within both the Alliance and the Empire, but the former organization kept the details of the defection officially classified for years. To the Empire, it was a scandal that rocked the highest echelons of the Imperial Navy, and the Imperial Sith Lord Darth Vader took a personal interest in it by placing a new commander in charge of the TIE Wing's former Star Destroyer.
The former TIE Wing became known as Cracken's Flight Group, and they switched to A-wing fighters, becoming some of the first squadrons in the Alliance Starfighter Corps to pilot the new ships. The flight group was assigned to an Alliance base on the planet Xyquine II, from where they performed many successful hit-and-run operations against Imperial shipping. Cracken retained his rank of Wing Commander. When the base was discovered by an Imperial probe droid at some point between 0 BBY and 3 ABY, the Empire attacked at a time when an unusually high number of important Rebel operatives were on-station. As an Imperial fleet approached, Gingal, the base's Watch Commander, ordered a standard evacuation. Cracken rushed into the base's control room and informed Gingal that the plan was flawed, as the Imperials would be able to monitor their ship-to-ship transmissions and thus follow their exit vectors.
Cracken took the dumbfounded watch commander's comlink and informed every pilot to subtract the number two from the hyperspace coordinates they would soon receive. He reasoned that their exit vectors would be accurate enough to fool the eavesdropping Imperials, yet inaccurate enough to send pursuers in the wrong direction by several light-years. Cracken then requested permission to lead his flight group against the Imperial fleet, and when Gingal consented, Cracken's Flight Group attacked the Victory-class Star Destroyer Exsanguinator. They destroyed the Star Destroyer without suffering a single casualty, and every single Rebel transport safely jumped to lightspeed. Cracken's method of altering hyperspace codes went down in history as the "Cracken Twist," and his unit's defeat of the Exsanguinator made flight group and commander alike into legends.
At another point between 0 BBY and 3 ABY, Cracken engaged an Imperial pilot in a dogfight. Although he was bested, Cracken's A-wing remained flyable, and he escaped the skirmish with his life. Around the same time, Cracken also participated in several space battles between Rebel and Imperial forces that were fought in the Corellian, Dantooine, Karthakk, Naboo, and Tatoo systems. In each battle, a Rebel EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigate squared off against an Imperial Lancer-class frigate, and Cracken was one of many pilots who made up the Rebel starfighter complement.
A change of pace
- "I'm beginning to question myself and my performance, and that means I'm a hairsbreadth from doubting myself. If I've lost something, I need to know I'm not flying as well as I can, but if I lose my confidence, I lose everything. Here, in Rogue Squadron, I'll be measuring myself against the best our side has to offer."
- ―Cracken, to Wedge Antilles
In 4 ABY, the Alliance delivered a crippling defeat to the Empire at the Battle of Endor, and the victors soon thereafter reorganized into the New Republic. Cracken's Flight Group continued to serve the new government's defense fleet, and shortly after Endor, they were tasked with protecting the Outer Rim Communications Center in the Generis system. The flight group was added to Wing Commander Varth's fighter wing, and Cracken was promoted to the rank of captain. The pilots serving under him were eager to always follow his lead, believing that he was an unbeatable hero who would lead them to victory in every battle. Attrition gradually wheedled away at the flight group's numbers, and although Cracken knew that he was leading his pilots to their deaths, the survivors blamed those who died for making fatal mistakes. Cracken felt that his flight group was getting increasingly careless, and he grew worried that a single mistake on his part would see them all die.
When Cracken learned that the New Republic Starfighter Corps' legendary Rogue Squadron was seeking pilots to fill recently opened vacancies, he applied to join their ranks. The Rogues flew X-wing fighters rather than A-wings, but they were led by New Republic hero Wedge Antilles and considered to be some of the New Republic's best pilots. Cracken's perceived mythical status had caused him to lose perspective on his own abilities, and he hoped that serving under Antilles in such a fabled squadron would help him get a more realistic measure of how well he actually was able to fly. Cracken additionally hoped that his flight group could reassess how they operated in his absence. He was accepted into the Rogues, and he traveled to the planet Borleias to meet with Antilles, leaving his flight group under the leadership of Varth. Cracken's father, now the Director of New Republic Intelligence, warned him that Antilles would grill him with questions prior to his first mission.
Cracken was shown to Commander Antilles's office in the Borleias base along with fellow candidate Aril Nunb. Antilles welcomed them to the squadron, but he insisted on knowing why they had chosen to apply. Cracken reluctantly explained his reasons and willingly accepted a demotion to lieutenant; Antilles was able to relate to his dilemma, and, although initially suspicious that Cracken might be a New Republic Intelligence spy working for Airen Cracken, the Rogue leader gladly welcomed both of the new pilots to the squadron. Cracken was given the call sign of Rogue Four and permitted to fly Antilles's own X-wing while several damaged fighters were repaired, and he was assigned sleeping quarters with Nawara Ven, Rogue Three.
Around the same time, the Imperial Warlord Zsinj dispatched the Dwarf Star-class freighter Vengeance Derra IV to probe the New Republic's defenses at their new base. Although Cracken was already battling suspicions from his fellow Rogues that he was reporting their activities to his father, he was sent on his first mission: a retaliation against Zsinj.
Rogue Squadron's One and Two Flights were sent to the GaTir system. The flights were captained by Nunb and Cracken, respectively, and the transponder codes of all eight fighters were altered to identify them as mishmash, mongrel craft known as Uglies that would fail to attract attention. On Cracken's suggestion, they approached Vengeance Derra IV's position over Mrisst via that planet's south pole in order to avoid any astronomical observation posts. After catching a first glimpse of their target, the Rogues spotted an additional vessel: Contruum's Pride, a transport that Cracken, due to naming conventions on his homeworld, realized was posing as a capital ship. Nunb broadcast orders for the Imperials to surrender, but when twelve TIE fighters and interceptors were launched instead, One Flight engaged them while Cracken led Two Flight in an attack on Vengeance Derra IV. The four X-wings of Two Flight avoided the lasers of the freighter's gunners before launching four proton torpedoes in tandem, which brought down the freighter's forward and aft shields and left it derelict in space. While One Flight destroyed the enemy snubfighters, Cracken contacted Contruum's Pride and convinced them to help stabilize Vengeance Derra IV. Victorious, the Rogues returned to base.
Behind enemy lines
- "If we make Black Sun too weak, the Empire squashes it."
"Sure, but if we make it too strong, we lose the trust of the folks Black Sun hurts and we might find ourselves having to compete with them for the ownership of Coruscant."
- ―Cracken and Corran Horn, while planning Rogue Squadron's mission to Kessel
Not long afterward, Antilles gathered the Rogues into Borleias's pilots' briefing room and informed them of their next mission: in advance of a strike at the Imperial capital world of Coruscant, the Rogues would land on the prison planet Kessel and free several members of the Black Sun criminal organization, who would then be inserted into the Coruscant Underworld to stir up chaos. Cracken helped Antilles convince skeptical Rogue Corran Horn—a former member of the Corellian Security Force—that allowing particularly dangerous criminals to run loose would cause effective damage to the Empire. Twelve hours later, the Rogues launched from Borleias and arrived at Kessel. There, they performed a flyby of the planet's Garrison Moon and neutralized the remaining defenses of a former Imperial base shortly before doing the same to a landing zone on Kessel itself. While Antilles, Horn, and Ven negotiated the release of prisoners with facility administrator Moruth Doole, Cracken and the rest of the Rogues flew cover for Tycho Celchu, the squadron's executive officer. Piloting the modified Lambda-class shuttle Forbidden, Celchu ferried the prisoners to the moon for processing.
Over the next two weeks, the New Republic smuggled the criminals onto Coruscant. Rogue Squadron relocated from Borleias to the nearby New Republic–held planet Noquivzor, where Cracken learned that he would similarly be inserted onto the capital, tasked by the New Republic's governing body, the Provisional Council, with gathering intelligence in preparation for a sabotage of the world's planetary shields. Although all members of Rogue Squadron were in fact part of the mission, they were separated into small groups for security reasons, and none of them save for Antilles were aware of any other group's presence on the planet. Cracken was paired with Antilles and given the job of assessing Coruscanti citizens' loyalty to the Empire; the two were fitted with disguises by New Republic Intelligence for their insertion onto the capital aboard the Dairkan Starliner Jewel of Churba. Assuming the identity of Imperial Prefect Parin Dodt, Cracken passed the inspection of a customs official and greeted his old friend "Antar Roat"—actually Antilles—just after the starliner arrived in the Coruscant system.
After making planetfall, the two were greeted at the spaceport by a woman calling herself Irin Fossyr, who used correct code phrases to identify herself as an Intelligence agent placed by Cracken's father. The three operatives boarded a lift-car, shed their disguises, and made introductions; Fossyr's real name was Iella Wessiri. The three spent the next week touring Imperial museums and other public facilities in an effort to discern how Imperial propaganda was received by the general populace, and Cracken kept an eye out for what kinds of souvenirs were purchased by museum guests. After a week had passed, they made it to the Galactic Museum, where Cracken purchased a miniature statue of the late Emperor Palpatine and two holopad display disks of his life story. They were the gift shop's two most popular items, and Cracken decided that they would make humorous gifts for his father. The group began to suspect that Coruscant's citizens had accepted Palpatine's death and would similarly accept a new government taking control of their world. As they left the museum satisfied, Antilles was suddenly embraced by his old friend Mirax Terrik, a smuggler who had lately been working closely with the Rogues.
Wessiri and Terrik quickly assumed the roles of window shoppers, and Cracken and Antilles followed silently in their wake as they slowly descended through Coruscant's cityscape, stopping at various women's clothing stores to appear casual and to watch for pursuers. A trip in another of Wessiri's lift-cars brought them to a safehouse, where Terrik explained to a wary Wessiri that her departure from Coruscant had been compromised after she had ferried other Rogues onto the planet. Cracken and Antilles realized that the Imperials were wise to their presence, and Wessiri summoned fellow Intelligence agent Winter to debrief Terrik. After Winter revealed that all of Rogue Squadron was on-world, Antilles noticed laser flashes outside the room and tipped the group's couch over seconds before a speeder bike crashed through the window. The vehicle's driver was a Black Sun thug, and the group soon after relocated to a new safehouse inside a cantina known as the Headquarters. There, they learned that Corran Horn—on a bike of his own—had sent the other driver through the window while fleeing from Zekka Thyne, one of the criminals who had been freed from Kessel. Soon thereafter, a communication from the New Republic's Admiral Ackbar informed them of a change of plans: due to an attack on Noquivzor by Warlord Zsinj, the Rogues were now to bring down Coruscant's planetary shields themselves in advance of a New Republic invasion. Winter accordingly connected Cracken and Antilles with the rest of their squadron in order to hatch a plan.
Conquering the capital
- "Pash, I'm picking up nine or ten hits."
"I copy, Corran. Looks like small civilian vessels. The exodus is beginning."
- ―Corran Horn and Cracken, observing the populace's reaction to the New Republic's arrival on Coruscant
The rest of the Rogues—save for Nunb, who had been taken into Imperial custody—were brought to the safehouse along with the anti-Imperial Alien Combine, with whom they had connected during the previous week. Also with them were several Black Sun members, who had agreed to work with them despite bad blood between Thyne and Horn. The three groups brainstormed potential attack plans against Coruscant's central computer, and they ultimately decided to use the Alien Combine's access to a memory core manufacturing plant in Coruscant's Alien Protection Zone to slice into the computer and gain clearance codes for the planetary shield maintenance programs. Cracken was part of the team assembled to slip rigged cores into the computer system, and he traveled to a warehouse at the plant along with Antilles, Alien Combine member Portha, and Gavin Darklighter, Rogue Five. Posing as plant workers, they delivered the rigged cores to an Imperial technician while several other Rogues waited in the warehouse's shadows. When Imperial stormtroopers and a Swift Assault 5 hoverscout suddenly attacked, having been tipped off by Thyne, Cracken and the others fell back as Rogue Squadron members Ooryl Qrygg and Riv Shiel emerged and returned fire with a pair of E-Web heavy repeating blasters.
Cracken and the others took cover as the repeating blasters destroyed the Hoverscout, but concentrated fire from the stormtroopers left them little maneuvering room. The troopers' ranks were thinned when the Hoverscout collided with a repulsorlift truck, and the Rogues and Portha used the opportunity to retreat deeper into the plant. After they found another exit, they were forced to move in and out of several other buildings to shake Imperial pursuit. They eventually found themselves surrounded by stormtrooper squads while inside a building, but backup called by Antilles—Celchu, flying a Z-95 Headhunter—arrived outside a window and eliminated their foes. A repulsorlift vehicle piloted by M-3PO, the squadron's quartermaster, retrieved Cracken and the others and took them to another safehouse. Celchu's presence on Coruscant was a surprise to all save Antilles, as the executive officer had been a dejarik piece that the Rogues' Commander had not wanted to play until absolutely necessary. The Rogues gathered in Celchu's safehouse to revise their plan, where they were joined by Wessiri, Terrik, Portha, Portha's ally Asyr Sei'lar, and Inyri Forge, a former girlfriend of Thyne who had killed him following his betrayal of the Rogues.
Darklighter and Sei'lar proposed using an Orbital Solar Energy Transfer Satellite to vaporize a water reservoir, which would produce concentrated humidity and create a thunderstorm, thereby leading to a total power grid collapse. By hijacking a giant construction droid, they would evacuate the groundside Subsidiary computer center Number Four and gain access to the satellite. Cracken was assigned to fly cover for the assault in one of Celchu's six Headhunters, with Rhysati Ynr, Rogue Seven, as his wingmate. When Sei'lar volunteered for Headhunter duty, a shuffle paired her with Cracken and Ynr with Erisi Dlarit, Rogue Eight. Horn served as leader of the ersatz Hunter Squadron, and, after the pilots investigated their fighters, Cracken observed Celchu tell Horn that he had made a special inspection of his Headhunter. Horn then accused Celchu of being an Imperial spy responsible for betraying their mission at the manufacturing plant, and the pilots launched.
The rest of the task force was able to seize the construction droid, and Hunter Squadron dogfought and destroyed multiple waves of attacking TIE fighters above Coruscant's cityscape. After the subsidiary computer center was destroyed and the storm began, Horn manually destroyed a substation that was keeping the final layer of planetary shields intact. The New Republic Defense Fleet arrived in-system, and as Hunter Squadron prepared to return to base and refuel, Cracken and Horn observed around ten civilian vessels fleeing the planet. Horn detected an anomalous blip on his scanners, and although Cracken's readings showed nothing, Horn investigated, refusing Cracken's offer to serve as a wingmate. Horn's controls froze, however, which caused his Headhunter to crash into a building. Despite the accident, the New Republic captured Coruscant with little difficulty, which left some officials suspicious that Imperial Head of State Ysanne Isard had wanted them to win.
- "You're a friend of Captain Celchu's, aren't you?"
"I'm in his squadron. I know him. I know what he's done. He's saved my life."
"And you think you owe him something?"
"I said he saved my life."
"And you don't want to be testifying here against him, do you?"
- ―Halla Ettyk questions Cracken during the trial of Tycho Celchu
As the New Republic took control of the world, Cracken was united with his father. A search of Horn's crash scene had failed to uncover a body, and, after being pressed by Airen, Pash revealed what he had overheard between Celchu and Horn prior to the battle. Since Celchu additionally knew the command codes for the fighter, Airen decided that he had sufficient evidence to arrest him for treason and murder. Four days after the battle, the two Crackens sought out Antilles at Horn's crash site and informed him of Celchu's charges. Although Antilles was enraged, Cracken assured him that Celchu had expressed a complete willingness to let Horn fully investigate him after the battle. Positive news came in the return of Aril Nunb, who had escaped from Imperial custody after being used as a test subject for the Krytos virus. The malady was deadly to non-Humans and had been spread throughout Coruscant by Isard, who hoped that the polarization between Humans and other species would shatter the New Republic from within.
Due to their role in the conquest of Coruscant, Rogue Squadron were publicly iconized as heroes. Privately, Cracken and his fellows rallied around Celchu and were determined to prove his innocence as preparations for a trial began. One week after the battle, the Rogues stood on a platform erected at Horn's crash site as Antilles delivered a eulogy at a highly publicized remembrance ceremony, and not long afterward, their Commander gathered them for a pilots' briefing. Zsinj had recently seized a bacta convoy traveling from the planet Thyferra to Coruscant, and the New Republic desperately needed the medicinal substance to battle the effects of the Krytos virus. The Rogues were therefore tasked with hitting the Yag-prime space station in the Yag'Dhul system, where Zsinj had taken the bacta. Although Cracken worried about the possible presence of Zsinj's flagship, the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Iron Fist, the Rogues ran through a simulation of the mission and launched twelve hours after the briefing.
The squadron's ranks were buffered by new members Sei'lar and Forge, but the Rogues were still one pilot short; Cracken was reassigned the call sign of Rogue Five. The group arrived at Yag'Dhul along with Warden and Champion Squadrons, Y-wing units from General Horton Salm's Defender Wing. The Rogues' One Flight engaged four patrolling TIE fighters while Nunb led Cracken and the others toward the station. After they drew out its starfighter defenses, the B-wing starfighters of Defender Wing's Guardian Squadron dropped out of hyperspace and aided in the annihilation of the Imperial ships. After the four squadrons began a run on the station itself, its crew surrendered, and several New Republic freighters arrived to retrieve and ship the bacta.
Following Rogue Squadron's return to Coruscant, Cracken was called on to be a witness in Celchu's trial. After giving a deposition to Nawara Ven—who, as a former lawyer, was acting as Celchu's defense—Cracken was selected by prosecutor Halla Ettyk as the lead witness. Unwilling to testify against Celchu, Cracken was only compelled to take the stand after receiving a subpoena from Ettyk. In the courtroom, Cracken recounted the events leading up to the conquest of Coruscant and his having overheard Horn accuse Celchu of being a spy. When he refused to admit that the conversation had bred any suspicion in him regarding Celchu, Ettyk received permission from Admiral Ackbar, who presided over the trial, to treat the witness as hostile. Cracken eventually conceded that he had been just slightly suspicious, and he was then led by the prosecution to mention Celchu's special inspection of Horn's Headhunter. Ettyk finished her questioning, and, since Cracken had already revealed all of the relevant facts to which he was privy, Ven asked no questions of his own.
- "It makes no sense for anyone to have killed the convoy."
"That's why to know Warlord Zsinj is to wonder about his sanity. He's definitely someone who needs a lot of killing."
- ―Nawara Ven and Cracken, following the destruction of a New Republic bacta convoy
The trial was put on hold when the Provisional Council discovered that the Rylothean spice ryll kor could be used to fight the Krytos virus, and the Rogues were sent to the planet Ryloth to negotiate for some. Save for Antilles, who rode in Terrik's Pulsar Skate, all of the Rogues and their X-wings made the five-day journey aboard the transport Courage of Sullust. After their arrival at Ryloth's Kala'uun Starport, Cracken and the others were shown hospitality by the native Twi'leks, who treated them to music and dancing within a circle of glowstones. The festivities were interrupted by the Twi'lek warrior Tal'dira, who publicly called out Koh'shak, the starport master, for leaving his warriors out of the negotiations. Tal'dira then offered the Rogues the ryll kor that they desired, as he admired them for being warriors themselves. Cracken and his fellows flew an X-wing escort when the fully-loaded transports departed Ryloth, then boarded their own transport for the rest of the trip home.
Rogue Squadron's next mission was to escort a convoy of bacta obtained from Thyferra's Xucphra Corporation. Cracken led Ven, Darklighter, and Shiel in Two Flight as the Rogues traveled to a rendezvous point in the Alderaan system to meet with the assigned New Republic transports, but upon their reversion from lightspeed, they found the transports destroyed and Iron Fist entering hyperspace. Two TIE fighter squadrons, two Lambda-class shuttles, and the Strike-class medium cruiser Termagant remained in-system, and the Rogues quickly counterattacked the Imperials. Concentrated proton torpedo fire disabled the Termagant before the TIEs could attack, but Cracken and the others soon found themselves engaged in dogfights. When the Lambda-class shuttles escaped, the TIEs broke off their attack and, deprived of a larger ship to carry them into hyperspace, surrendered. Antilles ordered Cracken to take Two Flight to the planet Tatooine, refuel, and return to the Alderaan system with a freighter that could carry the TIEs. Cracken did so, and Two Flight flew escort for the freighter as it ferried the TIEs to Coruscant, where their pilots were debriefed by Cracken's father.
Just before Celchu's trial was re-opened, the New Republic was tipped off to an upcoming strike at a Bacta storage facility on Coruscant by a terrorist group known as the Palpatine Counter-Insurgency Front. The Rogues were called to a briefing room and told by Antilles that they would fly cover for a commando force that would infiltrate the facility and neutralize any bomb-carrying vehicles. Cracken and the others hastily launched; they made their way to the target zone and waited, although Antilles and Sei'lar were called away to neutralize some AT-ST walkers and an airspeeder that carried explosives. Three squadrons of TIE fighters and interceptors suddenly appeared, and as Cracken and his fellows engaged the newcomers, the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Lusankya emerged from the cityscape, having lain hidden beneath the surface for years. Cracken warned a distracted Antilles of an incoming TIE, but all of the enemy fighters veered off and left the fight to follow the massive ship on its course away from the planet.
The Rogues pursued the Lusankya to no avail as it blasted a hole through the planetary shields and escaped. Erisi Dlarit followed, claiming to be caught in a tractor beam. However, her R5 unit reported contradictory data to Antilles, who quickly realized that she had been the spy in Rogue Squadron. Dlarit and the Lusankya had fled Coruscant after Corran Horn had escaped from the ship's prison, a location where he had been held after in fact surviving his crash, which had been caused by Dlarit and not Celchu. Horn burst into Celchu's trial while Cracken and the others were fighting and exonerated his accused murderer, and the two rejoined Rogue Squadron as it flew numerous pursuit and cover missions against the Palpatine Counter-Insurgency Front over the next ten days. After they destroyed the group's safehouses and warehouse facilities, a public ceremony was held both to honor the Rogues and to rehabilitate Celchu's image. The celebrations were bolstered by the synthesis of bacta and ryll kor into rylca, which proved to be an effective cure for the Krytos virus.
The continuing war
Friends in need
- "You'll be sorely missed, Captain Cracken, but our loss is your unit's gain. We'll see you soon at the Yag'Dhul station."
"Thanks, Wedge, Tycho. I look forward to seeing you there."
- ―Antilles and Cracken, during the early stages of the Bacta War
At the ceremony, Cracken and every other member of Rogue Squadron were awarded the Coruscant Star of Valor for acts of bravery and selflessness in battle. During the reception, the Rogues learned that they would be assigned to General Han Solo's fleet, which was hunting for the elusive Warlord Zsinj. They also learned that Isard had seized control of Thyferra through an internal coup, and since the planet was not a member world of the New Republic, the Provisional Council refused to interfere in its internal politics. Nonetheless determined to take down Isard, every member of Rogue Squadron resigned their commission, save Cracken. Although he desperately wanted to join his brethren, both he and Antilles knew that his involvement would be seen as officially sanctioned by the New Republic due to his father's role as Director of Intelligence. Cracken thus returned to his former role as captain of the Cracken Flight Group, which was assigned to the Hunt for Zsinj in the role of monitoring several Core Worlds systems where the Warlord had previously caused trouble. Their base was on Folor, a moon of Commenor.
One of the flight group's first assignments was to hit Yag-prime and render it uninhabitable, so as to prevent the Warlord from ever using it again. Before departing Coruscant, Cracken reflected on his time with Rogue Squadron, and he realized that Antilles had taught him that every member of a unit needed to pull their own weight. He visited Antilles and Celchu in their new, private office, and offered them the use of Yag-prime as their headquarters. He would report it uninhabitable anyway in order to keep it off Isard's radar, and its proximity to Commenor would allow Cracken to lend Antilles's Rogues assistance should they need it. Antilles and Celchu eagerly accepted, and Cracken thanked the former for the lessons he had learned while flying under his leadership. Determined to pass the lessons on to his own team, Cracken shipped out with his flight group at the end of the week and traveled to Yag-prime, where they remained until Antilles arrived to take possession. Cracken then transmitted reports that the station had been destroyed.
Antilles' Rogues spent the subsequent weeks waging a guerrilla war on Isard and Thyferra's Bacta Cartel. During the conflict, Cracken's Flight Group was patrolling near Yag'Dhul when the engines of Linna, one of his pilots, failed. They landed at Yag-prime for repairs and stopped in at the station's Flarestar tapcafe for some lomin ale, where Cracken spotted Horn and called him over to join them. As Linna believed that the A-wing's speed rendered it superior to Horn's preferred X-wing, Cracken helped ground her confidence by moderating a round of good-natured boasting between her and Horn. Not long afterward, Antilles devised a plan to lure Isard's Star Destroyers to Yag-prime while his forces attacked Thyferra. When the Lusankya and the Virulence arrived in the Yag'Dhul system, Booster Terrik—Mirax Terrik's father—trapped the former in a gravity well projector and a series of tractor beams, but the Virulence moved in front of it and allowed the Lusankya to return to Thyferra. Around the same time, Cracken was leading his flight group's Ace Squadron through hyperspace, but the gravity wells generated by the powerful tractor beams pulled them into realspace in the middle of the standoff.
Terrik convinced the Virulence's Captain Varrscha that the A-wings' appearance was part of his trap, and Varrscha reluctantly surrendered her ship. Ace Squadron loaded their fighters aboard the destroyer, whose new masters immediately set a course for Thyferra. There, they found Antilles' forces assaulting the Lusankya and the Thyferran Home Defense Corps. Cracken contacted Antilles, who granted him permission to attack, and Ace Squadron pounded the Lusankya with concussion missiles while using their speed to avoid the warship's defensive batteries. Compounded damage prompted the ship's crew to mutiny against the stubborn Captain Drysso and surrender. Meanwhile, Dlarit's fighter was destroyed by Horn, and a shuttle believed to be carrying Isard was taken out by Celchu. After the battle, Airen Cracken arrived at the Lusankya with an Intelligence team to search the ship's massive prison, where they discovered that every inmate had been relocated prior to the battle. He also reported that the Provisional Council had retroactively sanctioned Antilles' mission and given the Rogues their commissions back, and both Crackens attended a celebration held in the Lusankya's officers' mess hall.
Losses and gains
- "I don't think Thrawn was there personally, but he sure planned out the assault. I've got to tell you, Wedge, that those clones of his are the creepiest things I've ever tangled with. It's like going up against stormtroopers: same rabid dedication, same cold-blooded machine-precision fighting. The only difference is that they're everywhere now instead of just handling shock-troop duty."
- ―Cracken, on the fall of Generis
With Coruscant firmly under New Republic control, Cracken's Flight Group was sent back to Generis. 8 ABY saw the Iron Fist destroyed and Warlord Zsinj killed, and the war against the Empire took on the public image of a clean-up effort. However, one year later, a new Imperial threat emerged when Grand Admiral Thrawn took command of the Imperial fleet and waged a devastating campaign against the New Republic. He captured large amounts of territory over the course of several months and eventually attacked the communications center at Generis. Human clones who had been grown by Thrawn manned the fighters of the Empire's war machine, and Cracken led his flight group into battle against them.
The superior numbers allowed by the clones, coupled with Thrawn's cunning tactics, allowed the Empire to capture the communications center and most of the Sector Fleet's supply depots. Cracken's Flight Group held the attackers off long enough to allow every intact New Republic ship to escape, and to allow General Kryll to evacuate Travia Chan, the Commander-in-Chief of the entire sector. During the retreat, Cracken lost contact with Wing Commander Varth but held onto hope that he had escaped. The flight group returned to Coruscant, which was blockaded by its own planetary shields following the deployment by Thrawn's forces of cloaked asteroids into orbit. Cracken attended a pilots' briefing aboard a Star Cruiser, where he shared the grim news about Generis with Antilles.
During the briefing, Admiral Ackbar, General Crix Madine, and Colonel Bren Derlin revealed the New Republic would be attacking the Empire's Bilbringi Shipyards to obtain a crystal gravfield trap, which could detect the asteroids' gravitic signatures. A deception would attempt to convince Thrawn that they would instead be attacking the planet Tangrene; Cracken worried that Thrawn would see through the ploy, but Madine dismissed the concern. Cracken flew with the task force that assaulted Bilbringi, but the New Republic ships were pulled out of hyperspace by Interdictor cruisers farther out from the shipyards than they expected—Thrawn had anticipated the attack. The starfighter complement immediately screened the New Republic capital ships and defended them from attacking TIE interceptors, fighters, and bombers, but a group of New Republic fighters were able to slip past a Golan II Space Defense SpaceGun after it was crippled by Rogue Squadron. During the battle, Thrawn was betrayed and assassinated by his bodyguard Rukh aboard his flagship, the Chimaera, and the Imperials suddenly retreated. Deprived of Thrawn's strategic mind, the Imperial campaign was brought to a halt. Cracken continued to serve the New Republic military in the following years, and in 19 ABY, a peace treaty between the New Republic and the remnants of the Empire finally brought the long war to an end.
A new threat
Strike at Bilbringi
- "Just get out of there."
"We're evacuating now. We'll have to take our chances in escape pods—we've got none here. I tried to aim her at one of the interdictors, but she's not going to make it, I'm afraid."
"Just take care of yourself, Pash. This isn't over yet."
"Good luck, Wedge. Cracken out."
- ―Antilles and Cracken, during Operation: Trinity
After six years of peace, the galaxy was invaded by an extra-galactic species of religious zealots known as the Yuuzhan Vong. The invaders laid siege to the New Republic with living weapons, conquering world after world and capturing Coruscant two years into the war. In 28 ABY, the New Republic reorganized itself into the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances and launched a massive campaign to reclaim the galaxy. Cracken served as a major in the Galactic Alliance Defense Fleet, but combat attrition saw him promoted to an acting rank of general. Stationed at the Alliance's temporary headquarters on the planet Mon Calamari, Cracken attended several military briefings, one of which revealed the existence of the intelligence-gathering Ryn Network. Late in 28 ABY, he commanded the Interdictor cruiser Memory of Ithor in Operation: Trinity, a three-pronged assault at the Yuuzhan Vong–held Bilbringi Shipyards. Capturing the shipyards would allow the Galactic Alliance to isolate Coruscant from the rest of the Yuuzhan Vong Empire's territory, and Bilbringi was additionally reachable by the Alliance's allies in the Imperial Remnant. Memory of Ithor joined General Antilles's Alpha Fleet of six capital ships, which traveled to Bilbringi to assess the Yuuzhan Vong defenses. Afterward, Antilles was to call in two additional fleets.
Alpha Fleet found a Yuuzhan Vong flotilla composed of two interdictors and twelve capital ships, and Cracken contacted Antilles aboard the Star Destroyer Mon Mothma for some quick reminiscing about the last time they had attacked Bilbringi. Half of the enemy fleet executed a micro-jump, which left Alpha Fleet trapped between two interdictors, at which point Antilles found himself unable to contact his reinforcements; the Yuuzhan Vong had disabled the HoloNet. Cracken and the other commanding officers of Alpha Fleet held a conference with Antilles via hyperwave transceiver, during which they decided that they would attempt to destroy one of the enemy interdictors and escape. However, more than half of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet jumped to hyperspace, believing the strike to be a feint. Still trapped in the system with no way to contact their allies, Alpha Fleet initially hung back from the remaining ships, but Antilles ordered his forces to destroy the Yuuzhan Vong capital ships one by one in a gradual push toward one of the interdictors. After four vessels were destroyed, the enemy forces who had earlier departed returned, leaving Alpha Fleet badly outnumbered.
Two Galactic Alliance capital ships were destroyed, and Memory of Ithor's reactor core soon thereafter went critical itself. Cracken ordered an evacuation, but he pointed the dying cruiser toward an enemy interdictor before finding an escape pod of his own. Antilles contacted him and wished him luck, and Cracken evacuated the ship moments before it was destroyed. Although Alpha Fleet was afterward able to escape the interdictors' range and flee the system, Cracken and the rest of Memory of Ithor's survivors were captured and taken to a prisoner-of-war compound on the jungle world of Selvaris. Roughly 100 prisoners were held under the watchful eyes of Yuuzhan Vong Commander Malik Carr and Subaltern S'yito, and every present droid, including a protocol droid belonging to Cracken, were ritualistically thrown into an immolation pit by the technology-hating Yuuzhan Vong. Using tools scavenged from the pit, Cracken helped complete the digging of an escape tunnel that had already been under construction for months, although Yuuzhan Vong defenses stationed around the compound deterred any plan of escape. Inside of a hut, the tunnel's entrance was below a removable grate hidden by Cracken's own bed of fronds and grasses.
Notions of rank were abandoned among most of the prisoners, who took to referring to each other by the names of their homeworlds. However, Major Cracken and Captain Judder Page—a legendary New Republic commando who had accepted a naval posting on Memory of Ithor prior to Operation: Trinity—became well-respected leaders. Both of them learned the Yuuzhan Vong spoken by their captors. Two months after their arrival, the two arrived at the compound's mess hall grashal and were ushered to the front of the food line. Their server was Ryn one-one-five, a member of the Ryn Network who had infiltrated the prison; he identified himself to Cracken and told the Major to chew carefully. After the prisoners took their seats, Cracken found a holowafer in his gruel and covertly passed it to Page before summoning several additional prisoners into the grashal. Three Bith and the Jenet Thorsh arrived along with a Human known as Coruscant, the latter of whom brought a sabacc deck inside and began a loud, diversionary game. The other four joined Cracken and Page as they activated the holowafer and viewed several seconds worth of complex mathematical equations. Thorsh and the three Bith committed the message to memory before the holowafer self-destructed, at which point S'yito and three Yuuzhan Vong guards entered the grashal and ordered the prisoners to quiet down. After the guards' departure, Cracken and Page agreed that the data they had witnessed needed to reach Galactic Alliance High Command.
Escape from Selvaris
- "Your father's never going to forgive us, Pash."
- ―Leia Organa Solo argues with Cracken over his decision to remain at Caluula Station
The following morning, Cracken and Page brought Thorsh and the Bith to the tunnel's entrance and saw them off. The escapees reached the exterior of the compound and two swoop bikes that had been left by the Ryn Network, but two of the Bith were killed by Yuuzhan Vong and one captured. Thorsh successfully rendezvoused with Han Solo and his freighter, the Millennium Falcon, which was waiting for him after Solo received a tip from the Ryn Network. Sentinel beetles informed Malik Carr of the escape, and Carr subsequently released sensislugs into each prisoner hut. The creatures' exhalations knocked the prisoners unconscious, and Cracken soon awoke to find himself in a yard with fifty other prisoners, all of whom had their hands tied behind them to wooden stakes. Suspecting that Cracken and Page had engineered the escape, Carr brought the captured Bith—known as Clak'dor—before them. Both Cracken and Page encouraged Clak'dor to talk and insisted that they be the ones to suffer the punishment, but Carr instead placed a tkun creature around Clak'dor's neck and continually prodded it, which caused it to coil tighter. A breathless Clak'dor recited the mathematical codes, but he choked to death before Carr could glean their meaning, and the Commander consequently ordered the prisoners to be thrown into the immolation pit and left to bake under Selvaris's suns.
Cracken and the others spent over twenty-four hours in the pit, and although over fifty prisoners suffocated to death, the survivors—including both Cracken and Page—were loaded onto the prisoner carrier Sacred Pyre and stuck to its deck with blorash jelly. The carrier's destination was Coruscant, where several hundred prisoners were to be sacrificed to the Yuuzhan Vong gods during a religious ceremony. Twelve other prisoner carriers arrived at Selvaris to retrieve the final ship of their convoy, but they were intercepted by a Galactic Alliance strike force, High Command having learned of the convoy's route after decrypting the mathematical formula related to them by Thorsh. The surprise attack decimated the convoy, and Sacred Pyre was one of the surviving carriers to be boarded by Galactic Alliance strike troops. Cracken, Page, and their fellows were located by the troops, Solo, his wife Leia, and their protocol droid C-3PO. After learning to their relief that Thorsh had survived, Cracken and the others were released when the strike troops used arsensalts to dissolve the jelly. Yuuzhan Vong reinforcements then decanted from hyperspace, and the prisoners quickly boarded the Millennium Falcon.
Cracken and Page joined the Solos in the freighter's cockpit as they navigated the resurgent melee, which included the Yuuzhan Vong's new slayer ships, advanced coralskipper fighters that unleashed carnage on the Millennium Falcon. A baffled Cracken was unable to identify them to Solo as the freighter sustained considerable damage, and the ship's captain made a desperate hyperspace jump to the nearby planet Caluula. Cracken and Page remained in the cockpit throughout the five-hour journey and were there with the Solos when the ship emerged from lightspeed outside of Caluula Station, where a Yuuzhan Vong battle group stationed in-system awaited them. Capitalizing on the disabled HoloNet, the battle group had laid siege to the helpless station for several weeks. When the slayer ships arrived, having followed them through hyperspace, the Millennium Falcon rocketed through an opening that Caluula Station briefly opened in their shields.
After disembarking in a hangar, Cracken, Page, and the other rescued prisoners answered questions posed by curious mechanics before being taken away to be fed and treated for injuries. Their brief respite was interrupted by the arrival of another Yuuzhan Vong battle group, who, intent on taking captives, deployed a giant ychna beast to eat through Caluula Station's shields. Yuuzhan Vong warriors boarded, and Cracken and his comrades rushed back to the Millennium Falcon as starfighters launched to engage the attackers. The Solos intended to ferry them to Mon Calamari, hoping that each one could rally additional troops to the Galactic Alliance's war effort, but Cracken and several of his fellows decided to remain on-station and aid its doomed residents. The Solos reluctantly agreed, and they fled the system with Page and dozens of others as Cracken stayed behind. Despite his efforts, Caluula Station fell to the Yuuzhan Vong, and Cracken became one of several hundred other prisoners rounded up and taken to Coruscant.
Nerf to the slaughter
- "I always figured you'd survive."
"Thanks to them, I did. Their heretic group rescued me and a bunch of others from what would have been some serious bloodletting at one of the temples."
- ―Page and Cracken, during the liberation of Coruscant
On Coruscant—re-christened "Yuuzhan'tar" by its conquerors—Cracken and nearly one thousand other prisoners were deemed worthy of an honorable death by their captors due to bravery shown on the battlefield. They were bathed, perfumed, mildly sedated with sensislug gas, blessed by the smoke of tishwii leaves, tattooed in black, and dressed in white robes before being manacled and marched to the planet's Place of Sacrifice. A grand ceremony was held that was overseen by the Yuuzhan Vong's Supreme Overlord Shimrra, who intended to execute Cracken and the others and feed their bodies to a corpse-eating maw luur creature. As they descended various spiral staircases leading to the Place of Sacrifice, the ceremony was suddenly interrupted by hundreds of Yuuzhan Vong Shamed Ones. Traditionally shunned by the rest of their species, the Shamed Ones had recently subscribed to a religious heresy and initiated a rebellion. After emerging from hidden shafts and tunnels in the ground, a number of Shamed Ones battled the present Yuuzhan Vong warriors while others rescued the prisoners. Although scores of captives and Shamed Ones alike were felled by Yuuzhan Vong thud and razor bugs, over three hundred prisoners, Cracken among them, were ferried to safety.
While with the Shamed Ones, Cracken made contact with Baljos Arnjak, a member of the Galactic Alliance's Wraith Squadron who had been covertly inserted on Coruscant two years prior and had since earned the Shamed Ones' trust. Not long afterward, the living planet Zonama Sekot emerged from lightspeed into Coruscant's skies, its aid in the Galactic Alliance's war effort having been secured by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker during an expedition into the galaxy's Unknown Regions. The planet's arrival had been promised by the prophet Yu'shaa as a sign of the Shamed Ones' coming salvation, but most Yuuzhan Vong interpreted Zonama Sekot as a portent of doom, and a fearful Shimrra withdrew significant military forces to the Coruscant system. Using the planets Contruum and Corulag as staging points, the Galactic Alliance took advantage of the chaos caused by Zonama Sekot's arrival and ordered a siege of the galactic capital. When the news reached Arnjak, Cracken helped him plan the reception of Galactic Alliance ground forces.
When the attack came, Alliance gunships and troop transports slipped through the raging space battle and made planetfall near the Sacred Precinct, which Shimrra set ablaze in an effort to render Coruscant uninhabitable to its liberators. Cracken, Arnjak, and four Shamed Ones rendezvoused with members of Judder Page's Katarn Commandos, who brought them to see Page at one of the transports' landing sites. The two former prisoners embraced while Arnjak reunited with Kell Tainer and Garik Loran of Wraith Squadron, and Cracken pointed out the billowing fires of the Sacred Precinct to his rescuers. The group finalized their attack plan accordingly and traveled to the Glitannai Esplanade canyon, where the Millennium Falcon was dropping off a team of six Jedi led by Skywalker. After Cracken and Page briefed them on the situation, the Millennium Falcon departed, and Cracken joined the commandos as they moved out alongside the Jedi, the Wraiths, and several YVH 1-series battle droids. Their target was Shimrra's Citadel, which lay in the heart of the Sacred Precinct. The commandos donned jetpacks to keep up with the Force-using Jedi as they traveled across the rooftops and balconies of the esplanade, and starfighters strafing overhead allowed them to reach the Bridge of Unity, which connected to their target.
At the bridge, a mon duul creature conveyed a message from Shimrra through villip communication devices that told his foes to perish. The group crossed the bridge anyway and were met by several Shamed Ones and Coruscanti resistance fighters. Skywalker and Page dispatched three Jedi and a group of commandos to help them battle Yuuzhan Vong warriors below the bridge, but Cracken and the others proceeded to the base of the citadel. After rocketing down from the bridge, the commandos and battle droids opened fire on a force of Chazrach slave soldiers and rakamat artillery beasts, who responded by launching plasma, firejelly, and flammable sparkbee honey. The commandos' foes were eventually trampled by the Yuuzhan Vong beasts Sgauru and Tu-Scart, who had been telepathically pressed into opening a hole in the citadel by Jedi Knight Jacen Solo and his unlikely ally, the Yuuzhan Vong's planet-shaping World Brain. Cracken and the commandos finished off the few survivors, which allowed the Jedi Skywalker, Jacen, and Jaina Solo to enter the Citadel and infiltrate the Supreme Overlord's Hall of Confluence.
Cracken and the commandos secured the Citadel's lower levels while Skywalker and the Solo twins battled Shimrra and his complement of Slayers. Not long afterward, the other three Jedi arrived with the Solos, and Page directed them to the Hall of Confluence after being told of its existence by several present Shamed Ones. They returned with an exhausted Skywalker, who had dueled and killed the Supreme Overlord. As Cracken and the commandos rounded up captured Yuuzhan Vong warriors, the Solos and the Jedi retreated to the Millennium Falcon. With his leader dead, Yuuzhan Vong Warmaster Nas Choka surrendered to the Galactic Alliance, and the long war was brought to an end.
Personality and traits
- Cracken: "With all due respect, Han, we've decided to remain here and do what we can."
- Han Solo: "Pash, this is bigger than Caluula, and you know it. Alliance command is counting on you people to rally support in your home systems. Besides, you can't make a difference here. Those are evacuation klaxons you're hearing."
- Leia Organa Solo: "Han's right, Major."
- Cracken: "We'll take our chances, Princess."
- ―Cracken decides to remain on Caluula Station and aid its doomed residents
Pash Cracken developed exceptional piloting skills at a young age. During his time at the Vensenor Flight Academy, his flying abilities outshone those of his instructors, and he particularly excelled at classes which focused on starfighter tactics. Cracken became an outstanding tactician, and his unorthodox and often reckless approach to starfighter combat astounded his instructors while proving unbeatable in simulations. In the field, his unorthodox tactics led him to develop the Cracken Twist, which—coupled with his flight group's destruction of the Exsanguinator—allowed the Rebel Alliance's evacuation of Xyquine II to proceed without a single casualty. After he joined the legendary Rogue Squadron, Cracken's abilities in the cockpit made an immediate impression upon his squadmates, and, following his departure from the Rogues, Wedge Antilles was sad to see him go. By 28 ABY, Cracken was considered a starship ace. He was able to think on his feet and adjust plans during missions, and during the battle of Coruscant in 29 ABY, he adapted to a field recruitment into the Katarn Commandos and survived a ground assault on Supreme Overlord Shimrra's Citadel.
The development of the Cracken Twist gained Cracken legendary status that was further augmented by his participation in Rogue Squadron's mission to capture Coruscant from the Empire. In the years immediately after the Battle of Endor, Cracken's mythical status among his flight group caused him to lose track of his piloting abilities, as those serving under him believed him to be unbeatable and incapable of making a wrong decision. Their consequent carelessness caused him to question his skills and to nearly lose his confidence, which prompted his request to be transferred to Rogue Squadron. During Cracken's time with the Rogues, flying by instinct in difficult situations reaffirmed his confidence in his abilities, and he learned how to better manage a squadron from Wedge Antilles. Antilles gave each Rogue responsibilities which required that they trust each other, and Cracken realized that doing so himself would help the members of his flight group trust in themselves rather than blindly follow their leader.
Cracken's leadership abilities manifested early in his life, and he inspired devotion in his classmates during his time at the Vensenor Flight Academy. While teaching his flight group to trust in their own abilities, he urged them to stay grounded and not grow too confident in the speed capabilities of A-wing fighters. During his incarceration at a Yuuzhan Vong prison camp on Selvaris, he was respected and viewed as a leader by his fellow prisoners, who insisted that he and Judder Page be the first to eat during mealtimes. Galactic Alliance High Command hoped that Cracken's rescue could help rally support for their war effort from his homeworld of Contruum.
Cracken was schooled in morality by his father, who taught him that the Empire was evil. He was eager to join the Rebel Alliance, and he later became a determined supporter of the New Republic and its cause. While on Selvaris, Cracken would have risked his life to have seen any one of the other prisoners live another day, and he encouraged Malik Carr to punish him personally when a fellow inmate was caught trying to escape. During simulations at the Flight Academy, Cracken paid careful attention to the safety of the squadrons he led, and when his flight group thought him invincible, he worried that one wrong move on his part would lead to all of their deaths. When Tycho Celchu was on trial for the murder of Corran Horn, Cracken was very reluctant to testify against his squadmate, only doing so when threatened with a subpoena. He was determined to prove Celchu's innocence, and while on the witness stand, he held back potentially damaging information until he was treated as a hostile witness. Cracken felt that Warlord Zsinj needed to pay for the killing of innocent civilians, but he nevertheless desired to join Antilles's Rogue Squadron–in–exile rather than remain with the New Republic and hunt down Zsinj. Cracken aided Antilles's cause and fought with him at Thyferra, even though the battle was not sanctioned by the New Republic.
Although he was humbled when he met legendary figures, Cracken could be brash and somewhat sarcastic with superior officers whom he believed were not very superior at all. He occasionally shunned hierarchy in times of crisis, and when Watch Commander Gingal was offended by his insubordination during the battle of Xyquine II, he simply grinned. Cracken could be stubborn in the face of orders, such as when he remained on Caluula Station in an attempt to aid its doomed residents rather than be rescued and help Galactic Alliance High Command drum up support in his home system. Although Cracken remained completely focused on missions during moments of desperation, he often engaged others in idle banter immediately before battles and during mission briefings, which sometimes earned him reprimands to "cut the chatter."
Cracken understood what it meant to be the son of the Director of New Republic Intelligence, and although he was not outraged when Antilles implied that he might be spying on Rogue Squadron for his father, he was disappointed. Cracken grew to be good friends with officers like Antilles and Page, and the former took it as a hard blow when he believed Cracken to be dead after Operation: Trinity. Although he fought alongside many sentients throughout his career, Cracken was unnerved by the clones that were used to power Grand Admiral Thrawn's war machine.
Cracken stood taller than 1.67 meters and sported pale green eyes. As a young man, he looked the part of a brash starfighter pilot, with youthful, ruggedly handsome features; a muscular build; and curly, flame-red hair. In his middle age, Cracken's hair was shot through with gray, which added a measure of distinction to already aristocratic features. He remained handsome and muscular after two months of eating gruel in a Yuuzhan Vong prison camp. Cracken usually carried with him a flight suit, a heavy blaster pistol, an encrypted comlink, and a datapad. He could speak Basic, Bothese, Huttese, and, after his time in the prison camp, the guttural Yuuzhan Vong language.
Behind the scenes
- "Pash Cracken? Really? Okay, yeah, he's been in a couple of books, and underwent that whole P.O.W-thing in the New Jedi Order, but does he really warrant being on here? Really? Who thinks about Pash Cracken?"
- ―Pablo Hidalgo, on Cracken's #63 rank on the list of The 100 Greatest Things About Star Wars... Ever!
Pash Cracken first appeared in Star Wars canon as a minor character in Timothy Zahn's 1993 novel The Last Command, although the sourcebook Cracken's Rebel Field Guide, released two years earlier, was the first source to indirectly mention him as one of Airen Cracken's two children. Cracken's character was developed in detail and represented with a black-and-white picture by Mike Vilardi in 1994's The Last Command Sourcebook; the picture was later colored and included in Cracken's entry in the StarWars.com Databank. He went on to play a major role in three of Michael A. Stackpole's X-Wing novels, released from 1996 to 1997, and in the two final volumes of The New Jedi Order book series, both released in 2003. Most recently, Cracken was added to the online MMORPG Star Wars Galaxies in 2011 as a starfighter pilot whom the Imperial player character could engage in combat.
Cracken was listed at #63 in "The 100 Greatest Things About Star Wars... Ever!," an article published on StarWars.com in 2007 and in Star Wars Insider 100 in 2008. The article showcased the 100 most viewed entries of the Databank, and author Pablo Hidalgo expressed disbelief that a minor character like Cracken warranted placement on the list. However, when Aarrba the Hutt was revealed to be #57, Hidalgo immediately withdrew the comments he had made about Cracken.
Several discrepancies regarding Cracken exist in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. Although numerous sources indicate that he attended the Vensenor Flight Academy, a 2003 article published online by Wizards of the Coast asserts that it was the Academy of Carida. Additionally, Cracken is depicted with or stated to have red hair in several sources, but the 1998 comic adaptation of The Last Command colors his hair as black. Similarly, "Who's Who in Rogue Squadron," a 2002 article published in Star Wars Insider 52, includes a black-and-white picture of Cracken with very dark hair. Finally, although The New Jedi Order novel The New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy identifies Cracken as a general, the followup volume, The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force, lists his rank as major. This conflict was resolved by the Databank, which states that combat attrition saw Cracken promoted from major to an acting rank of general prior to the events of the former novel.
- "Small Favors" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 12 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Galaxies: An Empire Divided
- X-Wing: Wedge's Gamble
- X-Wing: The Krytos Trap
- X-Wing: The Bacta War
- X-Wing: Wraith Squadron (Mentioned only)
- The Last Command (First appearance)
- The Last Command audiobook
- The Last Command 4
- (In flashback(s))
- I, Jedi (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy
- The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force
- Cracken's Rebel Field Guide (First mentioned) (Indirect mention only)
- The Last Command Sourcebook
- The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- A Guide to the Star Wars Universe, Third Edition, Revised and Expanded
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- "Who's Who in Rogue Squadron" – Star Wars Insider 59
- The New Essential Chronology
- "The 100 Greatest Things About Star Wars... Ever!" – Star Wars Insider 100
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia