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"We are a free world now. Thanks to the Twi'lek resistance. Thanks to Cham Syndulla. And thanks to the likes of you, too."
―Aylay thanks Yendor for helping to free Ryloth[5]

The Ryloth Insurgency was a planetary insurgency that occurred during the Imperial Era following the Clone Wars on the autonomous planet Ryloth, which was a protectorate of the Galactic Empire, that was led by the Twi'lek freedom fighter Cham Syndulla and the Free Ryloth Movement.

It would conclude over twenty years later during the Galactic Civil War following the Imperial retreat after the Battle of Endor due to the Empire facing severe instability. As a result, the planet regained its independence and opted out from joining the New Republic due to it history.


Imperial protectorate[]

For centuries, the Twi'leks of the Outer Rim planet of Ryloth had struggled against the domination of the Hutts.[17] During the Clone Wars, the Galactic Republic and Jedi Order forged an alliance with the Twi'lek political radical Cham Syndulla to drive out Separatist forces under Wat Tambor during the Ryloth campaign.[18] Liberating Ryloth from the Separatists gave the Republic a pretext to annex the planet.[11]

Following the end of the Clone Wars, the Republic was transformed into a totalitarian regime called the Galactic Empire. The Empire designated Ryloth an Imperial protectorate. While the planet was nominally independent and was represented in the Imperial Senate by Senator Orn Free Taa, Ryloth was occupied by Imperial forces. Taa was merely a puppet of the Empire who rubber stamped the Empire's decrees, and was regarded as a collaborator by Twi'leks who opposed the Empire. In reality, the real power lay in the hands of the Imperial Moff Delian Mors, who delegated much of her work to Colonel Belkor Dray, who came to resent her indolence and spice addiction.[11]

Twi'lek opposition to Imperial rule led to the emergence of a Free Ryloth Movement led by Cham Syndulla. About five years after the establishment of the Empire, the Free Ryloth movement disrupted the planet's spice production, fomented riots against Imperial rule, and stole Imperial weapons shipments. Cham was aided by Colonel Belkor, who resented Moff Delian. Later, a group of Free Ryloth operatives led by Pok hijacked an Imperial freighter carrying a shipment of weapons at the Yaga Minor shipyards. However, they were pursued by Imperial forces led by the Emperor Palpatine's enforcer Darth Vader; who personally boarded the freighter and slaughtered Pok and his comrades.[11]

Cham's gambit[]

Following the death of his friend Pok, Cham decided to shift from "half measures" towards taking more decisive action against the Empire. Suspecting that the Free Ryloth rebels were being aided by an insider, the Emperor devised a plot for the two Sith Lords, Senator Orn Fee Taa, and his staff to travel on an official visit to Ryloth aboard the Imperial Star Destroyer Perilous. As expected, information the Emperor and Vader's visit to Ryloth was leaked to the Free Ryloth movement. Cham and his lieutenant Isval immediately saw this as an opportunity to end Imperial domination over Ryloth and devise a plot to assassinate the two Sith Lords. He believed that their deaths would lead to the disintegration of the Empire.[11]

Without revealing his plan to assassinate the Sith Lords, Cham secretly met with Belkor to discuss a plan to assassinate Senator Taa and to discredit Moff Mors; two mutual objectives. Putting his plan into action, Cham sowed the space around Ryloth with hundreds of mines. As expected, the Sith Lords' Star Destroyer Perilous ploughed into the mines and sustained damage. Cham then deployed vulture droids to attack the Perilous's V-wing starfighter escorts. Free Ryloth operatives led by Isval then boarded the ship disguised as repair and rescue crew and killed several Imperial officers and stormtroopers.[11]

Vader and the Emperor quickly deduced that the Free Ryloth movement had a spy among Senator Taa's staff. With the Perilous badly damaged and facing an impending explosion, the two Sith Lords managed to escape on a shuttle and were pursued by a team of Free Ryloth operatives led by Isval. Moff Mor and Colonel Dray deployed rescue ships to rescue the Imperial personnel and the two Sith Lords. However, Dray secretly sabotaged the rescue efforts and leaked information to Cham, who was coordinating the battle from a hidden base on Ryloth.[11]

Despite being pursued by Free Ryloth operatives, Vader managed to crash-land the shuttle in Ryloth's equatorial forest. Most of the Imperial personnel were killed but Vader, the Emperor, and two Emperor's Royal Guards. The two Sith Lords were forced to work together in order to survive the dangerous forest and to evade their Twi'lek pursuers. Under Cham's orders, Belkor arranged for Isval's team to raid and destroy the Equatorial Communications Hub's main satellite in order to disrupt communication between Vader, the Emperor, and Moff Delian. While helping Cham to hunt down the Sith Lords, Belkor also sowed disinformation among Imperial forces claiming that Delian was a traitor working with the Ryloth rebels.[11]

While traveling through the jungle, the two Sith Lords and their Free Ryloth pursuers had to contend with several predatory fauna including gutkurrs and lyleks. The Sith Lords used their lightsaber skills and Force powers to destroy an entire hive of giant lyleks including the queen. After escaping the tunnel, the two Sith Lords and the surviving Royal Guard Sergeant Erstin Deez encountered an adolescent Twi'lek girl named Drua who led them to her village, which was populated by escaped slaves. Concealing their true identities, the two Sith Lords sought refuge at the village and managed to reestablish contact with Moff Delian. Eventually, Cham and Isval's forces caught up with them and prepared to attack the village.[11]

Despite Belkor's best efforts to conceal his involvement with Cham, Moff Delian soon discovered his subterfuge and managed to win over the Imperial forces on Ryloth that were searching for the Emperor and Vader. Belkor also killed his pilot Ophim in an attempt to prevent himself from being exposed as a traitor. After learning that the Sith Lords had reached a Twi'lek village and that Cham's forces were massing nearby, Belkor ordered the V-wing pilots to bomb the area. However, Delian had convinced the pilots that Belkor was a traitor and ordered them to blast his ship; killing Belkor and depriving Cham of his spy. Cham and Isval's forces proceeded with the assault on the Twi'lek village. However, the Free Ryloth forces were thwarted by the arrival of Imperial reinforcements led by Moff Delian. After driving off Cham's forces, the Sith Lords massacred the surviving Twi'lek soldiers and villagers including the captive Isval. Cham however survived the battle and escaped to fight another day.[11]

The rebellion[]

Cham Syndulla also sired a daughter named Hera Syndulla, who became a skilled pilot and starship captain. However, the two disagreed about Ryloth's involvement in the rebellion. While Cham was solely concerned with Ryloth's freedom, Hera believed that their homeworld's freedom was linked to the emerging rebellion against the Empire. Unable to resolve their differences, the two parted company. Hera eventually became the leader of a small rebel cell based aboard the VCX-100 light freighter Ghost. Hera's rebel cell was part of the larger Phoenix Cell, which was a component of the rebellion.[2]

Three years before the Battle of Yavin, the Galactic Empire deployed a Quasar Fire-class cruiser-carrier to Ryloth. The carrier hosted several TIE bombers which carried out regular bombing sorties on Ryloth. This had the effect of undermining morale among the Free Ryloth movement. Hera's rebel cell managed to eliminate the threat posed by the cruiser-carrier by stealing the vessel with the help of Cham and two associates, Numa and Gobi Glie. The cruiser-carrier became the new flagship of the Phoenix rebel fleet and hosted its starfighter squadron Phoenix Squadron. Hera's successful mission led to the destruction of an Arquitens-class command cruiser and boosted the rebellion on Ryloth. In addition, Hera and Cham repaired their estranged relationship.[2]

Due to their contacts with Hera, Cham's Free Ryloth movement established connections with the rebellion. Two years before the Battle of Yavin, Hera and the crew of the Ghost returned to Ryloth to deliver supplies to Cham's forces. By that stage, Ryloth was blockaded by an Imperial fleet. Imperial forces under Grand Admiral Thrawn and Captain Slavin had also occupied Tann Province and the Syndulla residence; with the latter becoming the new Imperial headquarters. Thrawn studied the Twi'lek species' art, culture, philosophy and history and was able to devise successful tactics against the Free Ryloth movement. The Free Ryloth movement lost many fighters during the Tann province campaign. Cham himself was forced to flee his home and left behind a valuable family heirloom: his wife's Kalikori.[16]

The crew of the Ghost along with Cham, Numa, and Gobi embarked on a joint mission to recover the Kalikori. While Hera, Ezra Bridger, and Chopper infiltrated the Syndulla residence, Cham and the others staged an attack on Imperial forces in the Tulara Ravine. Hera and Ezra were quickly captured by Thrawn, who recognized Hera and expressed admiration for her and her father. He took the Kalikori as part of his art collection. Thrawn then handed command to Captain Slavin while he observed the ensuing "experiment." Slavin used Hera and Ezra as hostages to force Cham to surrender himself. However, Hera circumvented his plan by using Chopper to plant explosives in the Syndulla residence. This explosion enabled Hera, Ezra, and Chopper to escape without having to surrender Cham. Thrawn observed the skirmish and allowed the two rebel groups to escape on the Ghost out of respect for their ingenuity.[16]

Liberation and beyond[]

In 5 ABY[10] following the Battle of Endor, the Galactic Empire, which was facing severe instability in the wake of the Emperor and Darth Vader's deaths, abandoned its bases on Ryloth. As a result, the planet regained its independence. The rebel fighter Yendor became the planet's new ambassador to the New Republic, the government created by the Alliance to Restore the Republic.[5]

Following the Galactic Civil War, Ryloth did not join the New Republic and remained independent. Ryloth's government expected the New Republic to suppress organized crime and to patrol the space lanes. Around 28 ABY, the New Republic came to neglect these duties due to infighting within the Galactic Senate; which facilitated the emergence of the Nikto crime lord Rinnrivin Di's cartel. Rinnrivin's cartel exerted a heavy toll on Ryloth's offworld trade which prompted Ambassador Yendor to appeal to the Galactic Senate for help. A subsequent New Republic investigation spearheaded by Senators Leia Organa and Ransolm Casterfo discovered that Rinnrivin was connected to a pro-Imperial militia called the Amaxine warriors; a proxy group created by Centrist senators who were working for the First Order, the successor to the Old Empire.[17]

Behind the scenes[]

The Rebellion on Ryloth was first explored substantially in Paul S. Kemp's novel Lords of the Sith, which was released on April 28, 2015. It also appeared in Melissa Scott's 2015 short story Mercy Mission; which was released as part of The Rise of the Empire omnibus. The conflict also appeared in two Star Wars Rebels episodes "Homecoming" and "Hera's Heroes", which were released in 2016. The conflict made a cameo appearance in Chuck Wendig's 2016 novel Aftermath: Life Debt, the second book in the Aftermath Trilogy.



Notes and references[]