- "Without power, one dies."
- ―Sate Pestage
Sate Pestage (pronounced /seɪt pɛs'tadʒ/) was a longtime Human male advisor and right-hand man to Palpatine, and one of the few people who truly knew him. Serving Palpatine from his days as a senator on Naboo to his ascension to Emperor, Pestage rose alongside him, becoming an advisor to Palpatine as Supreme Chancellor, and then Grand Vizier of the Galactic Empire.
During the time of the Galactic Republic, Pestage did much of Palpatine's covert work, from espionage to murder. As Grand Vizier, he controlled the day-to-day operations of the Empire by the time of the Battle of Hoth. He also served as Palpatine's assistant, managing his schedule, screening his calls, and overseeing his personal affairs.
After Palpatine's death at the Battle of Endor, and as the highest surviving member of the Imperial Court, Pestage assumed control of Coruscant and the Empire as the Interim-Emperor. However, the other Imperial Advisors turned on him, as did members of the military and Director of Imperial Intelligence Ysanne Isard. To save his life, Pestage made a deal with the New Republic to turn over Coruscant in exchange for immunity and planetary holdings. Isard closed on him, though, and Pestage was executed by Admiral Delak Krennel. However, the vizier was also said to have gone to Byss and died there; it was believed that one of these two Pestages was a clone.
The obscurity of Pestage's origins, as well as his closeness to Palpatine, fueled rumors in the late Imperial era that he and the Emperor were related, with some saying that Pestage was one of Palpatine's first clones, produced during his early rise to power, others that he was Palpatine's son by some forgotten wedding of convenience, who aged normally while the Emperor kept himself rejuvenated. Despite these unfounded rumors, it was known that Pestage had a large family of his own residing in the Ciutric Hegemony, and there was no evidence of any genetic connection between the two men.
Pestage and Palpatine first met in a small plaza beside the Parnelli Art Museum on Naboo in 52 BBY, when Palpatine was still an Ambassador and a Sith apprentice to Darth Plagueis. It was for the latter, under his guise of Hego Damask, Magister of Damask Holdings, that Pestage worked at the time, carrying out covert and illicit assignments, and he had chosen Pestage to arrange for the assassination of senator Vidar Kim, so that Palpatine could succeed him. The power Palpatine offered Pestage was enough to bring him to the Ambassador's side. In spite of this, he was unaware that they were Sith Lords until he witnessed the both of them destroying a group of Maladian assassins.
Assistant to the Senator
- "You have no qualms about living a double life, Sate?"
"Some of us are simply born into it."
- ―Senator Palpatine, and Sate Pestage
After the plaza meeting, Sate Pestage had became Palpatine's right-hand man ever since the latter first came to Coruscant as the Senator for Naboo. Pestage first entered the public eye some years before the Battle of Naboo, while serving alongside Kinman Doriana, with whom he became close friends, as one of Senator Palpatine's aides. During the term of King Ars Veruna, Pestage was responsible for covering up the illegal activities the Senator engaged in on his homeworld.
One such mission occurred in 36 BBY, when a Gungan named Kroke Modbom was arrested by the Royal Naboo Security Forces. Pestage came to Naboo on behalf of Palpatine to take custody of Kroke, claiming the Gungan was guilty of murder and treason. While there, Pestage was introduced to a lieutenant in the Security Forces named Quarsh Panaka. Later that day, while pursuing a suspect, Panaka discovered a secret network of tunnels filled with several decomposing bodies and, according to the suspect, records of corruption in the government. Pestage arrived at the site soon after, having heard Panaka's comm call for help, and retrieved a lockbox filled with evidence. When Panaka's suspect attempted to escape, Pestage interceded and shot him to prevent him from talking to the authorities. Panaka suspected Pestage of being involved in the murders of the bodies he had found and wanted to place him under arrest, even though Pestage had diplomatic immunity. However, Panaka's superior allowed the whole matter to be covered up, and Pestage returned to Coruscant the next day.
Pestage accompanied Senator Palpatine to events from social affairs to Senate meetings in the Rotunda, in the latter of which he was sometimes assigned to carry messages between Palpatine and the Sergeant at Arms. Shortly before the Battle of Naboo, Pestage joined Palpatine in a meeting with several other senators at the Coruscant Opera, during which they discussed the shortcomings of Chancellor Finis Valorum. Since Palpatine did not wish his opinions on the Chancellor to be overheard, Pestage thoroughly checked the noise-canceling containment field of the box, an act that impressed Passel Argente. When Palpatine wished to meet with Eru Matalis, the leader of the terrorist organization Nebula Front, Pestage unearthed information on him for the senator, and was present when the two men met.
Shortly after an assassination attempt on Chancellor Valorum, Palpatine assigned Pestage to carry out another of his under-the-table activities. After dropping off Palpatine at the Galactic Senate Medcenter, Pestage took his skycar to the apartment of a female senator who was offworld at the time. Using Palpatine's credentials and the bypass codes the senator had provided, Pestage infiltrated the empty apartment, which lay directly across from that of Senator Orn Free Taa. With a surveillance droid, Pestage remotely broke into Taa's apartment and sliced into his computer. He then planted incriminating information on Valorum, making sure to cover his tracks and make it seem to Taa as if he had discovered the evidence himself. This information would prove to be vital in leading to the Vote of No Confidence that removed Valorum from the chancery.
During Darth Maul's hunt for Lorn Pavan, Pestage and his fellow agent, Kinman Doriana, were assigned to discreetly create an opening for Maul to enter the space station above Coruscant without being noticed.
At one time, the late King Ars Veruna's chief of the NSF, Maris Magneta, allowed Pestage to secretly murder more than a dozen "pro-Gungan Naboo." She was later relieved of her duty by Senator Palpatine to cover up the whole affair.
Advisor to the Chancellor
- "Such times require sacrifices, Senator."
- ―Sate Pestage, to Bail Organa
Pestage's loyalty and usefulness to Palpatine caused the statesman to keep him on when he was elected Supreme Chancellor. As the Chancellor's personal advisor, Pestage had control over who held audience with Palpatine and managed the Senate's executive agenda. Pestage also served as Palpatine's public spokesman. In this position, he made official statements that ranged from denying allegations of crackdowns by the Republic government on podracing to refuting rumors that Palpatine was ill.
Aware of Palpatine's double life as a Sith Lord, Pestage carried out the Chancellor's under-the-table dealings. When the Separatist Crisis arose, Pestage arranged several deals with Separatist factions. After Palpatine's assumption of emergency powers, Pestage was assigned to convince reluctant senators to support the Chancellor. Being adept at persuasion, he was very successful at this.
During the Clone Wars, Pestage was present at many meetings of Palpatine's staff. Palpatine called him in when he met with Shayla Paige-Tarkin to discuss the situation at Praesitlyn, and Pestage was present when Palpatine called several senior members of the Jedi into his office to talk about the state of the war in its final weeks. As the manager of Palpatine's schedule, Pestage also sometimes waylaid senators from speaking with the Chancellor, claiming ignorance of the appointments they had made through his office. On one such occasion, he prevented the Loyalist Committee from keeping their meeting with Palpatine and offered to reschedule them. When the senators confronted Pestage on the matter later, Palpatine asked why he had not been told of their presence; Pestage claimed that he had not wanted to overburden the Chancellor's already full schedule. Pestage made many enemies in this time, including his arch-nemesis Bail Organa, who saw him as a thug with no knowledge of legislative processes.
In preparation for a Separatist attack, Pestage and fellow advisor Armand Isard helped conduct familiarization drills to get the Chancellor to safety if needed. When the Confederacy of Independent Systems finally struck Coruscant, Pestage was with Palpatine and Isard in the Chancellor's apartment at 500 Republica. Pestage attempted to convince Palpatine to move to a fortified bunker, though the Chancellor claimed it would be a show of weakness. It was not until General Grievous hit 500 Republica, and Pestage helped Palpatine to his feet after the attack, that the Chancellor relented and left for the bunker.
The early Empire
- "I trust that Your Majesty is pleased by the professionalism of the Empire's soldiers as evidenced by the thorough eradication of the Jedi rebellion. May your reign last for a thousand years!"
- ―Sate Pestage, in a report to Emperor Palpatine
When the Republic transitioned into the first Galactic Empire, Sate Pestage remained one of the newly appointed Emperor Palpatine's servants. In reward for his loyalty, Pestage was named Grand Vizier of the Empire. From the very beginning of his reign, Palpatine entrusted much of the daily running of the Empire to Pestage, overseeing the many ministries, departments, bureaus, and offices of the Imperial Bureaucracy. This, to some extent, made him the head of government, or "prime minister," of the Empire. Nonetheless, he still reported to both the Emperor and his newly named Darth Vader as his superiors. One of Pestage's first acts in the new Empire was to announce to the Squibs that wrecks of starships in orbit were not public salvage. In the coming weeks, he worked with Palpatine to establish the nascent Empire, informing the Emperor when all officers with anti-Imperial sentiments were captured and executed, and relaying orders to send a brigade of the 501st Legion to New Plympto. Pestage also instituted the policies of the Empire's New Order, including the Human High Culture philosophy that led to the persecution of non-Human species.
Approximately one month after the Declaration of a New Order, an anti-Imperial political rally broke out on the world of Alderaan. Pestage dispatched agitators there, their goal to turn the rally violent. Meanwhile, Bail Organa, Viceroy and senator of Alderaan, was providing shelter to Senator Fang Zar, who was wanted by the Imperial Security Bureau for questioning. Pestage took passage to Alderaan on the Star Destroyer Exactor, the personal vessel of Darth Vader. Upon arriving in orbit, Pestage commed Organa for permission to land his shuttle and to announce Vader's arrival. Zar, however, was soon spirited away by the Jedi Roan Shryne and his cohorts, who attempted to flee with the senator. When Pestage learned of this, he believed Organa to have assisted them, and ordered him to seal off the palace gates. Organa complied, and Zar was killed by Vader. Pestage later reported to Palpatine, telling him of Organa's willingness to let Zar escape and Vader's disquiet at the death of Zar. When Palpatine later made the first public announcement of Darth Vader's existence, he brought Pestage with him to the throne room to do so.
Some time after this, within months of the Empire's rise, Pestage ordered Moff Marcellin Wessel to compile a report on Order 66 for Palpatine. As part of the report, Pestage attached a list of justifications for the executions that would appear in the official records; some of them accused the Jedi of the very war crimes they had been struggling to prevent. Pestage would later be responsible for orchestrating several massacres on the part of the Empire, ones that would in turn lead to the creation of the Rebel Alliance. In the years before the Battle of Yavin, requests from various Imperial departments were heard by Pestage; when the Admiralty sought to build a new prison, the Grand Vizier ignored their requests, forcing the Empire to work with the Corporate Sector Authority in the creation of the prison Stars' End.
Grand Vizier of the Empire
- "The Empire is Victorious on All Fronts."
- ―Sate Pestage, in a communiqué to Maximillian Seerdon
As Grand Vizier, Pestage's duties, in addition to running the government, included preparing and managing Palpatine's schedule, directing his household, custodian of the Imperial Seal, and controlling overall access to the Emperor. Pestage was no less than Palpatine's personal assistant, constantly moving about on his master's wishes, finding an obscure file or carrying out some other errand. He was also Steward of the Imperial Personal Archives, a position that granted him access to Palpatine's secret communications and recordings. In reward for his loyalty, Palpatine granted Pestage stewardship of the Ciutric Hegemony, a group of wealthy worlds in the Outer Rim, which made the Grand Vizier extraordinarily rich. A Victory-class Star Destroyer was also re-christened Pestage sometime during the Galactic Civil War, possibly in honor of the Grand Vizier.
A few weeks after the Battle of Yavin, Captain Vocis Kenit of the Far Orbit was overthrown by his crew, and his ship was turned into a Rebel privateering vessel. Palpatine assigned Pestage to investigate the mutiny. When Kenit returned to the Empire, he was placed before Pestage in a holopod, where the Grand Vizier informed him that he had been tried, found guilty, and sentenced to death. However, Pestage made him a deal; his sentence would be suspended if he were to capture and destroy the Far Orbit.
Around this time, Coh Veshiv, one of Pestage's fellow advisors, began making himself a nuisance to Palpatine by accidentally digging up top-secret files on covert military projects. Palpatine ordered Pestage to send him away, and the Grand Vizier dispatched Veshiv on a "fact-finding mission". As a final insult, Pestage arranged for a CR90 corvette to be his transportation, a craft suited more for a senator than an advisor. Veshiv was eventually captured by the Far Orbit, and Kenit was left to report back to the Grand Vizier. Pestage again threatened Kenit with his fate should he fail in his mission. Palpatine soon took a personal interest in Kenit's situation. When the Star Galleon Emperor's Will was captured by the Far Orbit, Palpatine punished Pestage for being unable to find it, then turned his attention onto Kenit. The next time Kenit attempted to contact Pestage, he was put through to Palpatine, who promptly executed him.
A few months later, Pestage requested an addendum to an Imperial Security Bureau report on underworld activities. Pestage needed more information on the mercenary group Aurodium Sword, as well as profiles and interrogation records on specific elements of the underworld. Commander Maximillian Seerdon of the ISB sent Pestage the report, unedited at his request. Pestage conferred with Palpatine, in convalescence at the time, and in his response to Seerdon offered the commander a retreat in the Deep Core, presumably on the luxury world of Byss.
One year after the Battle of Yavin, Pestage informed the Imperial Department of Military Research that, with the failure of the dark trooper project, Palpatine was cutting all funding to battle droid development. Pestage took the opportunity to gloat, reminding the department that he had told them it would never work.
Around 3 ABY, Pestage found an ally in Lady Brigta Hejaran, a noblewoman of the Tapani sector. As was Tapani custom, Hejaran spent time on Coruscant representing her family, and Pestage directed the Emperor's Dark Side Adepts to train her in the ways of an assassin. Hejaran became a servant of Pestage, acting under his direct control—a relation much like those the Emperor's Hands had with Palpatine. She returned to her home sector, her family unaware of her new training or allegiance. Nor was this the only noblewoman Pestage had dealings with; at one point he gifted a sapphire brooch to Rivoche Tarkin, niece of Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, with a holo of her family's crest embedded within.
As Palpatine withdrew from matters of state more and more, focusing on the growing Rebellion and the discovery of Luke Skywalker, Pestage began to fill more of the roles that the Emperor left aside. During the New Year Fete Week of 3 ABY, Pestage and his fellow Advisors Alec Pradeux, Kren Blista-Vanee, and Bregius Golthan presided over the festivities in Palpatine's absence. By the time of the Battle of Hoth, Pestage was effectively running the Empire on a day to day basis—though he still worked closely with Palpatine—while the Emperor carried out his studies of the dark side. Ars Dangor had performed this role around the time of the Battle of Yavin, and it is unknown whether Pestage worked alongside him or had replaced him in this position. All major decisions made by ministers or advisors had to be passed by Pestage or one of Palpatine's other trusted servants. Pestage made few public appearances, but he did handle all transmissions to the Emperor. The Grand Vizier often made those who wished to speak to the Emperor wait, sometimes indefinitely. When Palpatine was busy, it was left to Pestage to communicate the Emperor's wishes. Many Imperials came to hate Pestage during these conversations. When Darth Vader contacted Palpatine after the Battle of Hoth at the Emperor's request, he was first put in contact with Pestage, who made Vader wait on the Emperor's convenience, as Palpatine was in a foul mood at the time.
Though completely loyal to his master, Pestage was not absolutely confident that Palpatine would always rule, nor was he certain of his own ability to avoid the purges of high-ranking officials that occurred often in the Empire. Thus, Pestage secretly prepared a safehouse to use if Palpatine were to fall from power and the Grand Vizier needed a fall-back. To this end he commissioned the Strike-class cruiser Eidolon, purportedly a new class of warship, from Kuat Drive Yards. In truth, the Eidolon was hardly spaceworthy, as its funding had been siphoned away to Pestage's side project. The Eidolon itself vanished after it leapt to hyperspace on its maiden voyage from the Seswenna sector. Pestage embezzled the credits supposedly spent on the Eidolon, putting them instead into the purchase of weaponry, currency, and artwork, all of which he secured in his retreat—known as Eidolon Base—on Tatooine. When Captain Marl Semtin, who had been investigating the Eidolon, learned of this project, Pestage offered him a share in its stored wealth. In return, Pestage asked Marl to check on his procurement agent Lirin Banolt, who Pestage believed was stealing from him. Banolt, wanting his own share of wealth, then blackmailed Pestage and threatened to expose the existence of the base. The Vizier in turn had him executed.
Pestage visited Palpatine on the Death Star II shortly before the Battle of Endor. He would literally be filling the Imperial throne on Coruscant when the Emperor died. However, Pestage would later prove to be one of the people responsible for ensuring Palpatine's revival, with his soul clawing out of Chaos.
- "You guide the Empire. I keep it safe."
- ―Ysanne Isard, to Pestage
As Pestage had been effectively running the Empire, many saw his ascension to the Imperial throne as a given. So it was that upon hearing of Palpatine's death at Endor, Sate Pestage took his place as leader of the Imperial state. Becoming the new Emperor, Pestage served as Palpatine's proxy and ruled as suzerain of the Empire. Pestage also kept his title of Grand Vizier until he was stripped of it by the other Imperial Advisors. Soon after Palpatine's death, the Emperor contacted Moff Boren Tascl of Cilpar, promising him a reward in exchange for the use of Cilpar as a safe world if the political climate on Coruscant grew dangerous.
Emperor Pestage's goal in his new reign was to provide a continuity of government to keep the Empire from collapsing. His Empire secured a coup shortly after Endor, when the new CEO of Kuat Drive Yards—its former one having killed himself during the Battle of Endor—chose to side with Pestage despite the New Republic's hopes of turning her. To raise Imperial morale and spirituality, Pestage reversed Palpatine's ban on religion and, with the help of Palpatine's agent Lord Cronal, established the state-sanctioned Church of the Dark Side. Based on Coruscant, the Church was led by a group of darksiders known as the Prophets of the Dark Side, although in actuality these Prophets were merely imitators of the true ones. Pestage also changed the stance of the Empire's military after Endor; rather than pursue Rebel forces, the Emperor put the military into a defensive role, fortifying key systems of the Empire to prevent further attacks.
Pestage was not suited for leading the Empire, though, and when Director of Imperial Intelligence Ysanne Isard came to him offering advice, he took it. Isard sought the throne for herself, though, and was secretly arranging for Pestage's downfall. The Ruling Circle, a group of Moffs, advisors, generals, and other power-brokers, also sought to remove Pestage, and Isard posed as a neutral party between the two factions. But though he attracted enemies, Pestage also found new allies in this time. Following Palpatine's death, some of the Royal Guard chose to return to Coruscant and serve Pestage. One of them was the future Imperial leader Carnor Jax, who, though allied with Pestage, truly only had loyalty to himself. Admiral Blitzer Harrsk, one of the first warlords to break away from the Empire, made overtures to Pestage's government, claiming loyalty and offering his services. Grand Moff Ardus Kaine of Oversector Outer also remained ostensibly loyal, while actually severing most of his ties with Pestage and his advisors. Grand Admiral Peccati Syn supported Pestage in truth, though in his case it stemmed from his devotion to the Prophets.
When Ysanne Isard captured Mara Jade days after Endor, she informed Pestage of her plans to sway Jade to her side and learn if she held any state secrets. Pestage knew no more about the Emperor's Hand than Isard did, and so gave his approval to her plan. He was, however, wary that she had taken these steps without informing him first, and chided her for it. By this time, Pestage was no longer in Palpatine's throne, which was covered with a black shroud. He would later occupy another throne in the Imperial Sanctum.
Before the Imperial Advisors moved against him, Pestage set out to find the Emperor's Hand Jeng Droga. When Palpatine's body had died at Endor, his spirit had crossed space to enter the body of Droga, and the energies from it had driven the man mad. When Pestage found Droga, he was able to remove Palpatine's spirit from the Hand, allowing the Emperor to eventually inhabit a new clone body and Droga to return to his usual level of sanity. While the remnants of the Empire turned on each other in the coming months in their respective bids for power, Pestage remained one of a select few to know that Palpatine had survived.
Though Pestage held the position of Interim-Emperor, many Imperials sought a biological heir to Palpatine. Since Pestage had access to Palpatine's secret records, if the Emperor had had an heir, Pestage would be the only one who could find it. The Grand Vizier, following Palpatine's orders, refused, though he gave no public explanation. Pestage's actions stirred resentment amongst Palpatine's other advisors, who feared that he was making a power grab and joined forces to oust him from office. They impeached, censured, and stripped Pestage of his titles and properties, but due to sabotage of their plans by another Emperor's Hand, Sarcev Quest, they were unsuccessful in removing him. Later that year, Pestage's safehouse on Tatooine was captured by New Republic forces. With no escape options now, this left him all the more vulnerable to his enemies.
Six months after Endor, the Rebellion, now the New Republic, had begun encroaching on Imperial territory in the Core and were making a series of victories over Imperial forces. Pestage feared that they would soon threaten Coruscant. In response, he recalled all ground forces from the Rebel leader Mon Mothma's homeworld of Chandrila, and dispatched seven Star Destroyers there to erect a total blockade and hold the planet hostage. These Destroyers would only remain in place so long as Pestage was in office; when Isard forced him from the throne in the following months, Pestage's plans for Chandrila fell apart.
- "I have ever been loyal to the throne."
"I have never heard loyal used as a synonym for covet before."
- ―Ysanne Isard and Sate Pestage
Ysanne Isard began making her move against Pestage approximately nine months after the Battle of Endor. Having maneuvered herself into position as a seemingly neutral intermediary between Pestage and the Ruling Circle, Isard now began to arrange for the Emperor's destruction. The New Republic had been scouting the Core world of Brentaal IV, where half the Circle held property and all had some stake in its wealth. Pestage realized that the New Republic was building up for an attack. Isard proposed to use Brentaal in the same manner that Palpatine had used the Death Star II, inviting an attack so the Empire could lay an ambush for the invading forces. She proposed to Pestage that he make his stand there, and leave the defense of the world to Admiral Lon Isoto. Pestage considered Isoto an idiot, but Isard claimed that the Circle supported him, and leaving him in place would reflect poorly on them. As Pestage did not want to directly attack the Circle, fearing it would break Imperial unity, he agreed to her proposal. Isard promised to have the elite 181st Imperial Fighter Wing on hand to defend the world, so the plan did not backfire on Pestage.
The New Republic soon took Brentaal's moonbase, though, and Pestage was concerned that he had made a mistake with Isoto, commenting that he would give a Super Star Destroyer to the Republic if they took Isoto too. Isard assured him that it was all to plan, and that Isoto and his supposed supporters would soon lose further ground when the Republic took the battle to Brentaal itself. This concerned Pestage, but Isard again lauded the skill of the 181st, claiming that they would not lose Brentaal. The Republic, however, took the spaceport at Oradin. Pestage grew even more concerned with Isoto's incompetence, and asked Isard to convince the Circle to remove him. Isard, however, was playing the opposite game with the Circle, telling them that Pestage supported Isoto and she was unable to convince him.
Isard's next phase of her plan was to circumvent Pestage's command, issue an evacuation order for Brentaal, and send a fleet to aid in it, which would be as good as admitting the world was lost. Pestage did not learn of this for twelve hours, but when he did, he was furious, and began to realize that she did not have his interests in mind. Isard was still able to sway Pestage into supporting the evacuation, and issued an order under his name requisitioning skyhooks to hold the displaced Brentaali. Pestage issued an additional order compensating those who would have their skyhooks taken away, not wanting to lose their support too. Though Isard reassured him that she would keep his enemies at bay, Pestage was no longer certain of his own safety. He considered for the first time defecting to the New Republic.
Dealings with the New Republic
- "You're actually alive, Pestage, which is rather rare among the Emperor's henchmen."
- ―Leia Organa, to Pestage
Isard's plan went as she had intended; Brentaal IV was lost, and though Pestage made an announcement welcoming the evacuees and assuring them that those who had been responsible for losing the world had been dealt with, the members of the Circle had decided Pestage would lose the Empire. By eleven months after Endor, the situation had escalated still further. The Circle began openly speaking of leaving Pestage and joining warlords like Blitzer Harrsk and Treuten Teradoc. Some proposed pooling their resources to remove Pestage from the throne, insisting that they act immediately. Pestage overheard these rumblings, but he was unable to do anything about them. Eidolon Base was destroyed and, having realized the danger of Isard, he knew he could not have Imperial Intelligence take care of the dissenters. He realized that the time had come to speak with the New Republic.
Pestage arranged for a meeting with Leia Organa on the world of Axxila. Accompanied by a pair of Royal Guards, a pair of military members, and at least one other Imperial, Pestage met with Organa and her guard, Wedge Antilles, in the sewers of Axxila. He then made a surprising offer to Leia: in exchange for sanctuary and membership in the New Republic, as well as some worlds for himself and his friends, he would leave Coruscant undefended. Pestage told Leia that Isard would not let him live long, and Leia agreed to the deal, pending the details that needed to be worked out.
When Isard got word that Pestage had vanished, she began to worry, and realized that he must be dealing with the New Republic. Upon hearing that Leia had been kidnapped from Eiattu 6—in actuality Leia's friend Winter doubling for her—Isard assumed that she had really been secreted away to meet with Pestage. Winter had in fact been kidnapped by the pirate Leonia Tavira, who was taking her to Axxila as well. When Isard learned that it had been Tavira, she dispatched the Star Destroyer Reckoning, commanded by Admiral Delak Krennel, to Axxila to capture Leia and Tavira.
Pestage, meanwhile, was learning of the capture of Winter from an Imperial privateer named Kavil, who was working with Tavira. Though disgusted he had to deal with pirates, Pestage convinced Kavil to bring Winter to him, then informed Leia and Wedge that he would turn her over to them as a sign of good faith. Pestage and Organa proceeded to work out the details of their arrangement; in the completed deal, Pestage was allowed to keep ten worlds, and four of his friends to keep fifteen. Leia promised to speak to the New Republic Provisional Council and finalize the deal when Winter was returned to her. Winter escaped, but Leia was not able to secure the support of the Council, and before matters could progress further, the Reckoning arrived in orbit and ordered the surrender of all traitors to the Empire.
Pestage, trapped on the planet, made another deal with Leonia Tavira. With her help and her ship, he left the planet's surface and was taken to the Reckoning. In exchange, he promised Tavira that she would escape the planet and offered her the location of a cache of treasures—possibly Eidolon Base. Imperial defector Soontir Fel, meanwhile, was attempting to convince Krennel that he was serving as a double agent, and that Krennel's presence in the system was jeopardizing his mission. He claimed to be operating under an AT3 Directive, and when Krennel turned to Pestage to confirm it, Pestage did so, and Krennel ordered a withdrawal. Moments later, Tavira attempted to flee in her ship, and Pestage ordered that she be let go.
Flight to Ciutric
- "Pestage's treason will stop now."
- ―Paltr Carvin
When Pestage returned to Coruscant, he confronted Isard in his throne room. He claimed not to have known Fel had defected, shifting the blame onto her for not informing him, and when Isard accused him of meeting with Leia Organa, he implicitly denied it and reminded her that she had no proof. Isard was not to be thwarted, however. Within a month, she went before the Imperial Tribunal, an executive body of high-ranking Imperials, and accused Pestage of collaborating with the New Republic. She claimed to have proof of this from confidential sources, and reminded the Tribunal that Pestage had allowed Leia Organa to escape from Axxila, had lost Brentaal, and informed them that he planned to turn over Coruscant to the New Republic. The Tribunal agreed with her, charged Pestage with treason, and issued an order for his arrest.
Some members of the Tribunal feared Isard enough to warn Pestage, though, and he prepared to take his personal yacht off the planet. Circumventing the Tribunal's order to ground all ships, the yacht went into a low orbit, where it rendezvoused with Leonia Tavira's vessel. Pestage gave the yacht to its captain, telling him to flee, and took transport with Tavira to his world of Ciutric IV. Tavira was not satisfied with Pestage's payment, though, having wanted his yacht, and unceremoniously dumped him on Ciutric. Pestage threatened her, but Tavira was not impressed; furthermore, the local governor, Brothic, had heard of the warrant for Pestage's arrest, and took him into custody, promising him the best cell they had and attention to all his needs.
A New Republic agent codenamed X14 was present upon Pestage's arrival, and informed the Republic that he had been placed under arrest. The New Republic Intelligence Service moved to contain the information, sending Brothic a message supposedly from the Empire that he should detain Pestage until further notice. The Provisional Council, meanwhile, was split on the issue; on the one hand, Pestage was complicit in the actions and crimes of the Empire, and on the other hand, rescuing him would both save another life and send a message to the other Imperial leaders that they had the option of defecting. In the end, they agreed to send a mission to Ciutric to free Pestage consisting of commando teams and space units, including Rogue Squadron.
With Pestage gone, the balance of power on Coruscant soon became uneasy. The Tribunal declared themselves the rulers of the Empire, with General Paltr Carvin at the Tribunal's head. Isard still sought power for herself, though, and when Tavira informed her that Pestage had gone to Ciutric, Isard dispatched her own operatives to take him dead or alive. The Tribunal ordered her people to hold back, though, and sent Delak Krennel in the Reckoning to retrieve Pestage. Isard in turn went to Krennel, promising him that if he gave her Pestage, she would make him Emperor.
Escape and possible death
- "I just came to see how far the mighty had fallen. I had to remind myself that you're a man like any other."
- ―Soontir Fel, to Pestage
When the New Republic struck, the ground commando teams found Pestage's cell and freed him. They hurried Pestage to a shuttle, but when the Reckoning and the Binder, an Interdictor Star Destroyer, leapt into the system, the New Republic teams were forced to go to ground again. Pestage warned them that Krennel could call in reinforcements. He was also curious as to why they had rescued him when he could no longer give them Coruscant, and was astounded by their dedication to the New Republic's cause. Soontir Fel later came to see Pestage, telling Pestage that it was to remind himself that Pestage was a man like any other, for all the power he had once held. Fel tried to convince Pestage to see the New Republic's point of view, and Pestage reminded Fel that the Empire had made him who he was, but neither man was able to convince the other.
Krennel's fighters eventually found their way near the Republic encampment, and during the ensuing firefight, the Mon Calamari pilot Ibtisam was killed. Upon returning from the battle, her Quarren lover Nrin Vakil attacked Pestage in anger, threatening to kill him until Fel pulled Nrin away. Pestage was disgusted that the New Republic associated with "animals" like Quarren, telling Wedge Antilles that he knew their treatment of non-Human species was mere propaganda. When Wedge protested, Pestage told him that the New Republic would change once they had power, and eventually turn into the Empire.
Reinforcements for the New Republic forces finally arrived, and they prepared to make their departure. Wedge's friend Mirax Terrik would pilot her ship, the Pulsar Skate, away from Ciutric, hopefully convincing the Imperials that Pestage was aboard. Pestage would actually be on one of the commando shuttles, which would leave after the Interdictor had been driven off but before the ground troops that Krennel was preparing to land arrived at the encampment. Pestage had a problem with this plan, though; it would require him to be in the same shuttle as Ibtisam's body, and he did not approve of being ferried along with a non-Human corpse. Wedge, in anger, forcefully grabbed Pestage and told him they would get different shuttles, as Pestage was unworthy of being in the same ship as her.
Pestage, however, had decided he would take his chances with Krennel, and comlinked the New Republic plans to the admiral. The space battle, however, went as planned for the New Republic. As Krennel's forces approached on the ground, the commando teams prepared to launch, and Pestage was ordered to get to a shuttle. It was not until the shuttles had already lifted off that the soldiers realized Pestage was not aboard any of them. Knowing that he had made his choice and would now have to live with it, they left Ciutric. Either Pestage or his clone made his way to Byss, while the other rendezvoused with Krennel, who had landed with his soldiers. That Pestage promised the admiral wealth and a position as warlord in his new empire, but Krennel saw Pestage's offer as weakness, and decided that he would become his own master and take Pestage's holdings for himself. Grabbing the former Emperor by the throat, Admiral Krennel broke his neck, killing him. Krennel went on to murder every member of Pestage's family he could find, over a hundred people. Four years later, the New Republic attempted to bring Krennel to justice for the killing of Pestage and his family.
The surviving Pestage voluntarily exiled himself to Palpatine's sanctuary world of Byss to avoid the wrath of the Imperial Advisors. Though none knew it at the time, this was where Palpatine had come back to life in one of his clone bodies and was intent on reestablishing his control over the Empire. In this time, Pestage conducted his own experiments with the dark side of the Force. When Sarcev Quest lost word from Pestage, he assumed the man had died in his experiments, but this was not the case. The Pestage who fled Coruscant would serve by the resurrected Palpatine's side, helping him gather his forces, and died on Byss in 11 ABY when the Galaxy Gun destroyed the planet.
Personality and traits
- "Asking permission is easier than asking forgiveness."
- ―Sate Pestage
Though Sate Pestage was ambitious, he rose to power by Palpatine's side through quiet wisdom rather than an overt desire to rule. He was, however, ruthless and hungry for power, and when Palpatine fell Pestage immediately seized his chance, even knowing that the Emperor had really survived. Once in power, however, Pestage showed that he was neither charismatic nor cunning, and was in fact a better follower than he was a leader. Even as Emperor, Pestage wished Palpatine would return to lead the Empire. His enemies called him "spineless," and the perception among Imperial forces was that he was easily toyed with.
Despite this ambition, Pestage was one of Palpatine's closest and most loyal servants, and was said to be one of the few people who truly knew him. He was entirely loyal and dedicated to his master, and Palpatine considered him to be the most trusted of his advisors and a good friend. Indeed, Pestage's defection to the New Republic did not mean he shared their ideals. He still believed in the principles of the Empire, considering those like Fel who had gone over to be "warped," and thought that in time the New Republic would become the next Empire. Pestage also did not like non-Humans, believing them to be only animals, and their corpses to be "animal waste." He was saddened that the Humans of the New Republic associated with them, and believed that the tolerance they claimed was propaganda.
When Pestage was forced to deal with troublesome members of the Emperor's court, his preferred method was to make them simply disappear. Pestage was accomplished in the use of computers and the circumvention of security devices. He had a great knowledge of many subjects, from history to bureaucracy to etiquette.
Pestage was said to have a "hatchet face," a "scarecrow body," a "cruel mouth," and pointed features. He had thinning black hair in the days of the Republic, and had gone bald by Endor. In the days of the Republic Pestage often dressed in black; as vizier he wore a jeweled cassock, and during his time as Emperor he was clad in a purple robe and cowl. He carried with him a personal force field for protection. He was also fairly adept with firearms; when helping Palpatine save Hego Damask he was able to effortlessly kill several Maladian assassins with a Repeater rifle.
Behind the scenes
- "The Emperor will be with you in time."
- ―Sate Pestage, in a cut scene from The Empire Strikes Back
The character of Sate Pestage, originally called Sate Molock, was meant to appear in the film The Empire Strikes Back. Molock first appeared in the second draft of the screenplay, where he warns Darth Vader that the Emperor is in a bad mood before Vader reports the victory at Hoth. In the revised second draft, Molock was renamed Sate Pestage.
In the fourth draft, Pestage was to be in scene 286 as a "shimmering holographic image." When Darth Vader attempts to contact the Emperor, he reaches Pestage, who (as before) warns Vader of the Emperor's foul mood and bids him to wait. According to Pablo Hidalgo, Pestage had been cut by the fifth draft of the script. However, the film's shooting schedule says that the Pestage scene was shot on June 18, 1979, though it never made it into the movie's final cut. As the scene was filmed, an actor was evidently cast for Pestage, but it is not known who this was. Kenner's Darth Vader's Star Destroyer Action Playset features a toy hologram apparently intended to be Sate Pestage. An enclosed instruction sheet reads, "Lower the hologram and have Darth(TM) communicate with the Grand Vizier(TM)."
While the scene was ultimately cut from the film, it appears in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back - Official Collectors Edition and is mentioned in the Dark Empire Sourcebook, establishing it as part of Star Wars Legends.
Sate Pestage was apparently killed by Delak Krennel in the Mandatory Retirement story arc of the Rogue Squadron comics. This occurred contrary to previously published material that stated Pestage had survived until at least the destruction of Byss. The retcon originally established by The Emperor's Pawns was that the Pestage killed by Krennel was an insane clone. However, this matter was confused by Pestage's entry in The New Essential Guide to Characters, which says that he was believed to have grown a clone of himself on Coruscant, but it is unknown whether he sent his clone to Byss or went himself. According to Abel G. Peña, the official Lucasfilm Ltd. explanation as of 2005 was that the Pestage killed by Krennel was a clone; however, since then other sources have been released that confused the issue still further. The New Essential Chronology and The Official Star Wars Fact File both state that Krennel killed the original Pestage, with the Fact File explicitly calling the Pestage on Byss a clone, and the Chronology making no mention of him. The Essential Atlas, published most recently, also states that Pestage was killed on Ciutric IV.
The Dark Empire Sourcebook gives Pestage a different backstory: instead of being killed by Isard after half a year of rule, he was censured and impeached by the Imperial advisors several weeks after the Battle of Endor, and voluntarily went into retirement on Byss to avoid execution. Unlike the other account of Pestage, in this version he never took the throne, and simply remained vizier until his impeachment. Recon & Report: The Journey to Coruscant uses Dark Empire Sourcebook's version of events, but places the date of Pestage's removal from power close to six months after Endor.
While most sources, including the text of the comics themselves, place the events of Star Wars: X-Wing Rogue Squadron: In the Empire's Service to X-wing Rogue Squadron: Mandatory Retirement—which tell the story of Pestage from shortly before the Battle of Brentaal to his death on Ciutric—at six months after Endor, Omnibus: X-wing Rogue Squadron Volume 3 lists new dates, ranging from nine months for In the Empire's Service to one year for Mandatory Retirement. These are the dates used in this article, and previous references to Pestage's fall being six months after Endor are considered to have been overridden.
In a Q&A session on StarWars.com, Sate Pestage is listed as a member of the Inner Circle. However, he is not among the robed Imperial dignitaries in the accompanying picture, nor one of those accompanying the Emperor in several scenes during Return of the Jedi.
The original Databank claimed that Ysanne Isard allowed Pestage to be captured by the New Republic at Brentaal. As this aligns with no other source, and in fact conflicts with every source detailing these events, it is assumed to be an error.