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For other uses, see Rescue of Hera Syndulla.
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"Guilty of… treason! They haven't had a trial yet!"
"[sighs] Taa will see they never get one. We must intercept that convoy before it reaches the capital."
―Eleni and Cham Syndulla[src]

Shortly after the formation of the Galactic Empire, Hera Syndulla, the young daughter of General Cham Syndulla, was rescued from Imperial custody. After the end of the Clone Wars, Cham had initially embraced the peace that the new government seemed to bring, asking his fellow Twi'leks to lay down their weapons. However, Cham's old ally Gobi Glie and the Free Ryloth Movement suspected the Empire's motives and continued to work against the new occupiers, bringing Hera into their work. Imperial Vice Admiral Rampart was keeping an eye on Glie, however, and managed to capture Glie, Hera and Serin smuggling weapons they had picked up in a rendezvous on Ryloth's nearest moon. When Cham and his wife Eleni heard of their daughter's arrest from her droid Chopper, they set up a rescue. However, Rampart had set up a trap in conjunction with the Elite Squad Trooper Commander CT-9904, and captured the adult Syndullas and the other fighters before framing Cham for the attempted assassination of Senator Orn Free Taa, who unlike Syndulla was happy to serve the Empire without question. Hera and Chopper escaped, and Rampart had Captain Howzer search for them.

Prelude[]

Ryloth, the homeworld of the Twi'lek species, was invaded by the Confederacy of Independent Systems early in the Clone Wars between the Separatists and the Galactic Republic. While Ryloth was represented in the Galactic Senate by Senator Orn Free Taa, the initial local resistance was led by General Cham Syndulla,[5] a long-time political rival of Taa's. The two men intensely disliked each other, particularly as Cham considered Taa to be corrupt and ignoring the needs of his people. When the Republic launched a counter-invasion to liberate the planet, Jedi General Mace Windu persuaded the two to work together for Ryloth's benefit, and the remaining Separatist forces were driven offworld.[6]

Windu had also promised that Republic clone troopers would leave once the planet had been freed, although a group would remain for a time to keep the peace.[6] To that end, a unit led by Clone Captain Howzer was stationed on Ryloth in order to help defend the planet, and Cham became friends with the clone officer.[3] In 19 BBY,[7] however, the Clone Wars ended abruptly with the eradication of almost all of the Jedi after an alleged rebellion and the reorganization of the Republic into the Galactic Empire by now-Emperor Palpatine, supposedly to bring peace and safety to the galaxy.[8] In truth, the clone army had been subjected to mass brainwashing through secretly implanted inhibitor chips which had compelled them to follow Order 66 and forced them into unthinking loyalty to the new government,[9] with only a very few clones being immune.[10]

Tired of war, Cham was initially cooperative towards the Empire, although his wife Eleni Syndulla and lieutenant Gobi Glie were both suspicious of the new government. Cham particularly wanted his daughter, Hera, to be able to live the peaceful life that he had been denied. Glie, however, worked with other freedom fighters, including Serin and Lenk, against the Empire, stockpiling weapons and spying on Imperial installations, including a new refinery that had been set up, which was to be the first of many. Eleni used a network of contacts for similar ends. Unbeknownst to Cham, Glie recruited the young Hera and her astromech droid Chopper into his cell, having her accompany him on supply runs and spy on the Empire. Glie's activities, however, drew Imperial attention, and Vice Admiral Rampart was sent with the new Elite Squad of recruited troopers to investigate.[3]

At a public event in the capital Lessu, Taa was booed by a tense crowd after giving a speech in support of the Empire, as the people wanted to hear what the much more popular Cham had to say. Glie and a few of his fighters attended the speech, and their presence was noted by the Elite Squad Commander CT-9904, who reported them to Rampart. Cham exhorted his people to embrace peace and look to the future, stating that he still trusted the clone army, and received cheers of support. However, Taa was unhappy, and Glie's fighters departed the scene. Rampart asked Eleni why her daughter had not attended the event, and she said that Hera had other interests.[3]

Glie sent Hera and Chopper to spy on the refinery, although the girl could not see anything unusual going on. However, the two were caught by a clone patrol, and Howzer escorted them back to the Syndulla residence. At the house, Cham was overseeing people turning in their weapons, while Glie expressed concern to Eleni over how he could be okay with it as he felt that clones should not be defending Ryloth. When Howzer arrived, he told Cham that Hera and Chopper had been found in a restricted area, saying that he wouldn't report the incident but it could not happen again. Glie told Cham that he had sent Hera, accusing his general of being willing to ignore the dangers of the Empire in the name of peace. Eleni deduced that Hera had been at the refinery and asked for a full report while escorting her and Chopper inside.[3]

Cham and Eleni later toured the refinery, Eleni noting to Rampart that the facility's turbolasers and military personnel did not support the Empire's claims that this was not a military installation. Rampart said that Ryloth had been vulnerable under the Republic, and that under the Empire it would not be. He left the Syndullas to see themselves out after receiving a report about rebel activity involving Glie's fighters. Despite the evidence that Cham was not involved, Taa clung to his jealousy of his rival and insisted that he had to be the mastermind. Rampart saw a way to use both Taa and Cham to the Empire's advantage, and reassured the senator that everyone had their parts to play, setting up a trap.[3]

Due to the disarmament, Glie had made a deal with the information broker Cid to procure more weapons. Hera and Chopper met Glie and Serin at the landing pad where his Rainhawk-class transport was kept, the girl initially saying she could not go due to the incident earlier. Glie agreed that she would not be doing any more spying, but explained that this was a supply run and that he had intended to let her fly. The chance to fly was enough for Hera to tell Chopper to cover for her before running onboard the starship. However, the Empire had caught wind of what was going on, and Crosshair spied on the meeting before using his sniper rifle to attach a homing beacon to the transport. Glie let Hera fly the transport most of the way to Ryloth's nearest moon, but felt she was too inexperienced to yet handle takeoffs and landings. On the moon, the Twi'leks rendezvoused with the Bad Batch,[3] a unit of rogue former clone commandos who had come to work for Cid as mercenaries in the aftermath of Order 66.[11] While Glie and Serin inspected the blasters and thermal detonators the squad had delivered, Hera struck up a rapport with Omega,[3] a child clone who had been taken in by the Batch,[9] and was shown around the Havoc Marauder.[3] Omega also gave Hera the Batch's comm channel in case of emergencies.[2] Finding the weapons to his satisfaction, Glie exchanged payment and told Hunter to tell Cid to let him know when she had more weapons to sell. When Hunter commented that stockpiling an armory would attract attention, Glie said they had no choice. With the weapons loaded up, the three Twi'leks returned to Ryloth.[3]

However, the Imperials used the homing beacon to lay an ambush. When the Rainhawk picked up an Imperial ship on its sensors, Serin attempted to lose it in a canyon. Crosshair was lying in wait below, however, and shot out one of the transport's engines, causing it to crash. A LAAT/i gunship moved in and offloaded its complement of clones and Elite Troopers to surround the crash site. Glie, Hera and Serin were escorted off the ship and surrounded when a Juggernaut tank arrived, carrying Rampart, Taa and Howzer. The senator further insisted that Hera's presence proved Cham's involvement. Rampart noted that it proved nothing as Cham had committed no crime, but Hera certainly had. Howzer protested when the admiral ordered Hera's arrest, but the other clones had no such compunctions, and the captain eventually moved to oversee the arrests. Crosshair informed Rampart that there were three rebels watching the scene, and the admiral ordered him to let them report in, and to remain in position. Lenk informed Cham and Eleni of their daughter's arrest, but the situation became even more crucial when Chopper discovered that all three detainees had been charged with treason. Aware that Taa would ensure Hera was not able to defend herself, Cham ordered the fighters to get into position to ambush the tank before it reached Lessu, heading out with Eleni and Chopper to assist.[3]

The rescue[]

The Juggernaut was travelling through a canyon in the western outskirts, escorted by clones on BARC speeders. Alongside the handcuffed prisoners, Rampart, Howzer and Taa also rode in the passenger compartment. Lenk and her team were monitoring the convoy's passage when Cham, Eleni and Chopper arrived in a Flash speeder. Informed that the tank was heading towards the narrows, Cham said they had to stop it before then. Eleni ordered Chopper to stay in his position and monitor the situation, and the rebels dispersed, Cham and Lenk setting off on foot while Eleni and another fighter rode off on blurrgs. Once the fighters were in position, Cham on the canyon floor and Eleni on the ridge, they signalled each other with lights before beginning the attack.[3]

Running along the side of the canyon, Cham threw a spear to knock one clone off of his speeder bike, before commandeering the vehicle. He swung back around and retrieved his weapon, knocking the clone out of the way. A second outrider saw the hijacking and opened fire on his bike, but Cham knocked him off with the spear, causing the clone to lose his helmet as he was knocked to the ground. Cham approached the tank before changing direction again, causing two other outriders to follow him. Inside the tank, Howzer was informed the convoy had been targeted, and Taa immediately guessed Cham to be responsible. When Taa ordered a counterattack, however, Howzer's hesitation before affirming the order was noticed by Rampart.[3]

Lenk leapt onto the top of the tank as it passed an outcropping, and glanced around before entering the vehicle by the top hatch. She disarmed the clone trooper inside and stunned him with his own blaster before turning to the controls. Cham continued farther down the canyon before bringing his bike to a halt across a dead end, planting his spear in the ground. Eleni and the other blurrg rider took up positions on the cliffs, and Eleni opened fire when the two clone bikers approached, taking one out. The other fighter and her blurrg pushed a rock off the cliff towards the other clone, but he avoided it and shot her before being himself shot by Eleni.[3]

Howzer was attempting to communicate with his men when Rampart asked where their reinforcements were. Lenk, however, disabled the tank's communications. As Howzer donned his helmet, Taa asked what they were going to do. The tank and its two remaining outriders came to a halt by the bike and spear Cham had planted in the canyon, and the two bikers swung round to check another direction. However, Eleni destroyed their vehicles with fire from above. One trooper got up only to be stunned by Cham from behind, and he retrieved a charge from the unconscious clone. Eleni and Cham approached the tank as Lenk brought it to a halt and cut its power, Cham planting the explosive on the door controls. Inside the tank, Taa insisted that the attackers had to be held off as Howzer aimed a blaster pistol at the door, but Rampart pushed his weapon down and said that they were going to surrender, to Taa's surprise. Cham and Eleni entered the tank, and Hera ran to her parents.[3]

Taa, Rampart, Howzer, and a clone were led outside the tank and guarded while Eleni led Hera away from the scene towards the speeder Chopper had arrived in. Hera, worried, asked what Cham was going to do as Taa was certain to not let the incident pass, and Eleni told her that her parents would handle it. Taa called Cham a traitor for his actions, but the general flipped the accusation on the senator, accusing him of treason for his greedy and self-serving actions which had put Ryloth in danger. Cham aimed a DC-15A blaster carbine at Taa, and when the senator looked to Rampart, the admiral coolly noted that Cham was the one with the blaster. Howzer appealed to Cham to stop and think about what he was doing, unaware that Crosshair was taking aim at the scene with his rifle from above. Eleni successfully talked Cham down, saying that Taa's time would not come that way and reminding him that their daughter was watching. Rampart thanked Taa for playing his part before signalling Crosshair, who fired a shot which hit Taa in the side of the head, severely injuring him but leaving him alive.[3]

Cham and Eleni were startled, and Howzer looked back in the direction of the shot to try and find the shooter. Two LAAT gunships arrived, and Eleni ordered Chopper to get Hera out of there, leading the droid to drive the speeder into the night. The gunships offloaded clones and the rest of Crosshair's Elite Squad, who outnumbered the Twi'leks. Rampart ordered the rebels' arrest for the attempted assassination of Taa as he disarmed Cham, who was too surprised to resist. Cham, Eleni, Glie, Lenk and Serin were handcuffed and loaded onto a gunship, while Taa was carried from the scene on a hovercart. Rampart handed the blaster to Howzer, who had removed his helmet, and ordered him to find Hera, suggesting she would not get far. Howzer was left standing by the ruined tank as Rampart departed with his prisoners, while more gunships swept the area.[3]

Aftermath[]

Despite Rampart's belief, Hera and Chopper managed to evade capture, leading him to assign the Elite Squad to find her. Howzer, who deduced that the rebels were not the ones responsible for shooting the senator, attempted to continue his search in the hopes of secretly protecting the girl, but Rampart denied his request. Cham, Eleni and the other rebels were imprisoned in Lessu, where Rampart intended to use their actions to turn the people against the Syndullas. Rampart further ordered the arrest of anyone who supported Cham, something Howzer also protested given how popular he was with most of Ryloth's population.[2]

Hera sent Chopper into Lessu to scout out the situation while she scouted out the Syndulla family home, which had been occupied by the Empire. After Chopper reported in about how things stood in Lessu, Hera decided on her next course of action. Retreating to her father's old command outpost from the Clone Wars, she contacted Omega via the comm frequency, asking for her help. Hunter was initially reluctant to answer Hera's call, but Omega talked him into it, and the Bad Batch returned to the Ryloth system, meeting Hera at the hidden cave outpost. She asked them to rescue her parents.[2]

When the group scouted out Lessu from sector five, they saw numbers of Imperial forces comparable to those on[2] former Separatist capital world[1] Raxus Secundus, even though Ryloth had been a Republic planet. Omega also spied Crosshair,[2] who had been a member of the Bad Batch before the brainwashing of Order 66.[9] The group was spotted by a probe droid, and although Hunter quickly destroyed it, it sent a report of the Batch's presence to the Empire first. The group retreated from the vicinity of Lessu, realizing the Empire now knew they were there. Crosshair made Rampart aware of the report when he received it, and security was increased. Since surprise was no longer going to be a factor, Hunter decided to leave, despite Omega's protests. Still wanting to help, Omega approached Hera and, using her knowledge of the planet, the two girls drew up another plan for rescue, involving a diversionary attack at the refinery. Hunter finally agreed to do the rescue after he heard the second plan, and they split into two groups: Tech, Wrecker, Chopper, and the girls would attack the refinery to draw away Imperial reinforcements, while Hunter and Echo would scale Lessu's walls and free the prisoners.[2]

The diversion was successful, but Crosshair realized that the refinery attack was a distraction and moved to block the Capitol's main exit. Howzer saw what Crosshair was doing and, deciding he could no longer be a part of the Imperial oppression, warned Cham and the others about the ambush. As the escapees prepared to steal Senator Taa's shuttle to escape, Eleni asked Howzer to come along, but he decided to stay and try to get through to some of his men about what the Empire really was. Howzer got some of his troopers to lay down their weapons, but Crosshair had the whole group arrested. The captain's further distraction, however, allowed the Twi'leks and commandos to escape Lessu. The group then rendezvoused on Ord Mantell. Cham and Eleni offered to pay Hunter for the rescue, but he turned their credits down, saying they would need it more. The Syndullas and their fighters left to return to Ryloth and continue their fight. Rampart, meanwhile, realized that he could not underestimate the Batch's skill, wishing that they were on the Empire's side. He gave Crosshair permission to hunt his old unit down when the commander requested it.[2]

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