Situated in the heart of the galaxy, Coruscant was the seat of government for the Galactic Republic and the Empire that supplanted it. Over thousands of years of civilization, the planet has been entirely enveloped by cityscapes and urban sprawl. Immense skyscrapers reach high into the atmosphere, and stretch down deep into the dark shadows. Crisscrossing the skyline are streams of unending repulsorlift traffic. Even in the depths of night, Coruscant is alive with glittering lights and rivers of traffic, a bustling megalopolis that refuses to sleep.
Some of the most important decisions, affecting the lives of trillions, have been made on Coruscant. It has long been the center of government, and the site of residence for the galaxy's Supreme Chancellor. From a towering high-rise overlooking a gleaming range of mountainous edifices, rulers such as Valorum and Palpatine have carefully plotted the future of the Republic.
Though the Chancellor steered the government, issues were ultimately settled in the cavernous rotunda of the Galactic Senate. Thousands of Senators and galactic representatives from the far-flung worlds of the Republic would debate pressing issues and push forward countless agendas.
As Coruscant was the center-point for decisions affecting the massive engines of commerce in the galaxy, it was also a nexus of graft and corruption. Vast fortunes were spent to ensure that corporations were allowed to operate without profit-stunting restrictions. Entities such as the Trade Federation and the Commerce Guild held incredible sway over the inner workings of Coruscant politics.
Removed from this corruption and encased in a gleaming tower was the Jedi High Council. Coruscant was home to the Jedi Temple, and the august order was answerable to the Supreme Chancellor himself.
A quite different world exists beneath the shimmering surface of the city-planet. In the lower levels, where sunlight never reaches, is a haze of artificial lights and flickering holograms, promising entertainment catering to a myriad of alien species and the full spectrum of morality. Citizens from above and below intermix in countless establishments offering escape, anonymity, jubilation and more than just a hint of danger.
Mos Espa is one of few port cities on Tatooine, born out of the desert and built piece by piece over many years. Domed buildings protect the citizens against the glare of the twin suns and the scorching heat. Among the dwellings, workspaces, and commercial operations of many bizarre kinds there are also entertainment areas, including some of colossal scale. The famed Mos Espa Grand Arena can can hold an audience almost as large as the city's entire population.
Most of Mos Espa's inhabitants are settlers and subsistence earners who scratch out a meager living as best they can. The only real wealth in Mos Espa is tied up in gambling and off-world trade, especially in the lucrative black market beyond the trade laws and controls of the galactic government.
In the time of the Republic, slavery persisted in Mos Espa, though the despicable trade was outlawed elsewhere. An entire section of the city's outskirts had been transformed into a Slave Quarter. Live slaves functioned more as prestige possessions than cheap laborers, and owners parted with them only reluctantly. Slaves could even find themselves used as capital in business transactions. The true powers in control of Mos Espa were the Hutt gangsters, who found slavery a useful institution for their purposes, and Tatooine's remoteness allowed them to practice their illegal ventures.
At the height of its rule, the Galactic Republic was governed by a body of Senators representing the many worlds of the galaxy. Within the cavernous Senate rotunda, hundreds of politicians would fill the viewing platforms that lined the curved walls. When a Senator wished to speak, the platform would detach and float to the center of the auditorium for all to see.
As the Republic grew, so too did graft and corruption. Like the greatest of trees, able to withstand attack from the outside, the Republic began to rot from within. Interest in the common good fell to individual agendas. Senators accumulated wealth and influence by exploiting a bureaucracy too bloated and sluggish to stop them.
This all changed when Palpatine declared himself Emperor and instituted a New Order. He did away with the corruption, and by the time of the Galactic Civil War, the Senate was disbanded.
An intimidating armored assault vehicle, the All Terrain Tactical Enforcer (AT-TE) saw its explosive debut on the battlefields of Geonosis, at the start of the Clone Wars. Specialized Republic drop ships carried the lumbering walker craft into the thick of combat, unleashing them to crawl inexorably toward enemy fortifications.
The walker features six articulated legs for propulsion. The legs are low to the ground, which reduces the walker's top speed but does provide it with increased stability. The body of the walker consists of two armored halves connected by a flexible sleeve that increases its mobility on the field.
The front of the walker is lined with four ball-turret laser cannons, while a single heavy projectile cannon is turret-mounted on the vehicle's dorsal surface. Its rear fire arc is protected by a pair of laser cannon turrets. Though the walker's armor can easily deflect small arms fire, tanksmasher rockets can pierce an AT-TE's armor and destroy its complex propulsion mechanisms.
After abandoning their headquarters at the Massassi outpost on Yavin 4, the core group of the Rebel Alliance established Echo Base on the Hoth. Alliance engineers worked non-stop to adapt their technology to withstand the subzero temperature extremes of the frigid ice planet. When the technicians were unable to get the T-47s functioning in time, the Rebels domesticated the indigenous tauntaun for use as a patrol mount.
The nerve center of Echo Base was its darkened command center, where General Rieekan issued orders to the rest of his troops. Here, Alliance scanner operators carefully monitored incoming data from the scattered sensors placed by Rebel scouts in the Hoth wilderness.
Protecting Echo Base was a powerful energy shield strong enough to deflect Imperial bombardment. When the Empire arrived in the Hoth system, the Rebels erected the shield, forcing the Imperials to engage in a ground battle. The Rebels speedily evacuated the personnel and equipment they could aboard Rebel transports with starfighter escorts, offering covering fire for the fleeing ships from a massive ground-based ion cannon.
As the transports retreated, the Rebel ground forces and snowspeeder squadrons covered their escape by delaying the Imperials for as long as they could. Rebel troopers dug into snowy trenches, blasting at the incoming Imperials with turret-mounted laser cannons and blaster rifles. The Imperial walkers were unstoppable. The Rebels were routed and Echo Base was overrun.
A loving, soft-spoken woman, Shmi Skywalker was determined to provide a better future for her only son, Anakin, than their lives as slaves could possibly offer. She knew her son was special -- despite their hardship, Anakin was selfless, kind and gifted. His birth was extraordinary -- there was no father. Some have speculated that it was the will of the Force that created Anakin in Shmi's womb. This would suggest that Anakin is the one spoken of in an ancient Jedi prophecy -- the Chosen One who will bring balance to the Force.
When Anakin was a toddler, Shmi and her son became the property of Gardulla the Hutt, and were brought to Mos Espa. Gardulla subsequently lost the pair to the Toydarian named Watto. Though none would ever confuse Watto with a humanitarian, he was nonetheless a fair owner who afforded Shmi and Anakin their privacy. Still, Shmi wanted more for her son than the life of a slave.
The opportunity came during Anakin's ninth year. A Naboo delegation led by a Jedi Master was stranded on Tatooine, and the ever-generous Anakin offered them shelter in the small hovel the Skywalkers called home.
The Jedi, Qui-Gon Jinn, sensed great Force potential in Anakin, and arranged for his freedom. Unfortunately, he could not free Shmi from slavery. Shmi said a tearful farewell to Anakin, knowing that his future lay in the stars beyond Tatooine. Anakin promised to return and free his mother, but he did not know at the time that the life of a Jedi precluded such personal missions. Adherence to the Order meant abandonment of his previous life, and it would be years before Anakin returned to Tatooine.
Watto, rendered nearly destitute by his chronic gambling, was forced to sell Shmi. A moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars had fallen in love with Shmi, and purchased her freedom. The two wed, and Shmi became a loving stepmother to Cliegg's son, Owen. They lived a quiet existence on the Lars homestead as moisture farmers, forming a strong bond of a loving family. Still, Shmi looked to the stars with an empty ache in her heart for her son who had left long ago.
A month prior to Anakin's return to Tatooine, Shmi left the safety of the house in the early hours of the Tatooine morning to gather mushrooms that collected on the moisture vaporators. A raiding party of Sand People suddenly attacked, and Shmi was kidnapped by the bandaged brutes. Outraged and grief-stricken, Cliegg rounded up a posse of moisture farmers to rescue her, but the Tuskens lay in wait. After a bloody ambush, only four of the 30 farmers returned, including a maimed Cliegg.
A month passed, during which Cliegg reluctantly accepted Shmi's death. Anakin, who had been plagued with nightmares about his mother's safety, suddenly arrived at the Lars homestead. Cliegg told him the terrible news, but Anakin refused to accept that his mother was dead. Borrowing Owen Lars' swoop bike, Anakin sped into the twilight desert in search of Shmi.
Shmi was barely alive, relying solely on hope to sustain her beaten form. She was held captive at a Tusken camp, beaten and starved. She knew, somehow, that Anakin would come. She weakly opened her blood-caked eyes to see her handsome, grown son enter the Tusken tent and free her from her bindings. She whispered her love for her son before finally succumbing to her wounds.
Anakin, enraged at his mother's death, lashed out at the Tuskens. He slaughtered the entire village, killing the male warriors as well as the females and children. Shaken and terrified by the power he awakened, Anakin quietly returned to the Lars homestead with his mother's body.
Shmi was buried at the Lars homestead at a quiet funeral. Cliegg spoke of his love for his wife. Anakin felt shame for his failure to protect her, and promised to never fail again. Sadly, this was but one of many promises that Anakin would break.
A shrewd and gruff proprietor of a junk shop in Mos Espa, Watto is a crabby, unshaven Toydarian with a love of credits and gambling. Although considered one of the smaller shops of Mos Espa, Watto's junkyard was nonetheless a treasure trove of discarded machinery and spare parts.
Among Watto's possessions were the slaves Anakin and Shmi Skywalker. Having won them from Gardulla the Hutt in a Podracing bet, Watto put them both to work in his shop. Young Anakin showed an incredible talent for machinery repair, and Watto took a shine to the boy. Even though he was unscrupulous enough to keep a slave, Watto was a fair master. It most probably had to do with the fact that the boy was a prime source of income for Watto, not only in keeping his machinery running, but also actually competing for Watto in the Podraces.
Anakin was an incredible pilot, the only human known to compete in the dangerous high-speed sport of Podracing. But in races where Anakin would compete against the shifty Dug Sebulba, Watto would always bet on the latter because, as Watto says, "he always wins!"
Watto's greed and gambling got the better of him one day when a mysterious outlander came to his shop to barter a deal for starship parts. The Toydarian ended up not only betting all his money away, but also Anakin's freedom. Sebulba failed to finish the Boonta Eve Classic, and Anakin came in first. Watto lost everything.
Desperate to recoup some of his losses, Watto eventually sold Shmi Skywalker to a moisture farmer named Cliegg Lars. The down-on-his-luck trader reported as much to a grown Anakin Skywalker. The young Jedi had returned to Tatooine a decade after his departure in search of his mother.
Watto is a stout, blue-skinned Toydarian, with rapidly flapping wings that keep him hovering at about a meter off the ground. The craggy-toothed merchant not only has a knack for haggling, but also cannot be affected by Jedi mind tricks.