Palpatine was the supreme ruler of the most powerful tyrannical regime the galaxy had ever witnessed, yet his roots are extremely humble, traced back to the peaceful world of Naboo.
Before his rise to power, Palpatine was an unassuming yet ambitious Senator in the Galactic Republic. Palpatine saw the Republic crumbling about him, torn apart by partisan bickering and corruption. All too common were those unscrupulous Senators taking advantage of the system, growing fat and wealthy on a bureaucracy too slow to catch them.
Palpatine's moment of opportunity came as a result of a trade embargo. The Trade Federation, in protest of government measures that would tax their outlying trade routes, blockaded and invaded Naboo. Naboo's planetary leader, Queen Amidala, rushed to Coruscant for Palpatine's aid. Together, the two pleaded to the Senate for intervention, only to see their request stalemated by Trade Federation filibustering. Frustrated by the government's inability to do anything, Queen Amidala acted upon Palpatine's suggestion, and called for a Vote of No Confidence in the Republic's leadership.
Chancellor Valorum was voted out of office, and Palpatine was soon nominated to succeed him. The crisis on Naboo prompted a strong sympathy vote, and Palpatine became Chancellor. He promised to reunite the disaffected, and bring order and justice to the government.
Despite his promises, the Republic continued to be mired in strife and chaos. A decade after his nomination, Palpatine's Chancellery was faced with the challenge of a popular Separatist movement led by the charismatic leader, Count Dooku. Many in the galaxy feared that the conflict would escalate to full-scale warfare, but Palpatine was adamant that the crisis could be resolved by negotiation.
The Separatists didn't agree. Upon the discovery of a secret army of droids, it became apparent that the Separatists were on the verge of declaring war against the Republic. To counter this, the Republic needed a military, and Palpatine required the authority to activate the Republic's newly forged army of clones. To that end, Senators loyal to Palpatine motioned that the Chancellor be given emergency powers to deal with the Separatist threat.
With spoken regrets, Palpatine accepted the new mantle of power. He promised to return his absolute authority to the Senate after emergency subsided. What no one realized was that the galaxy would undergo further upheaval, and that a state of crisis would ensure Palpatine's authority for decades.
The indications of his future regime were subtle at first. Palpatine's term as Chancellor ended during the rise of the Separatists, but that crisis allowed him to extend his stay in office. Once the Clone Wars erupted, the Senate's inability to efficiently wage war on scattered fronts forced him to enact executive decree after executive decree. He added amendments to the constitution funneling more power to him, effectively circumventing the bureaucracy of the Senate.
The public and the Senate willingly gave up their rights and freedoms in the name of security. Under Palpatine's guidance, the war would be won, and the Republic would be safe. The monstrous specter of General Grievous leading an assault ensured that few questioned Palpatine's growing authority.
The Jedi Council was among the wary. As an instrument of the Senate and the people, the Jedi order resisted Palpatine's direct control. This tension grew as the war escalated. Some in the Senate also quietly whispered their misgiving. Palpatine knew of a delegation of concerned Senators, and he would deal with them in time.
Palpatine instituted a military build-up unprecedented in galactic history. He created the New Order, a Galactic Empire that ruled by tyranny. The Jedi Knights, his biggest threat, were extinguished by his greatest dark side pupil: Anakin Skywalker, who had become Darth Vader.
During the Galactic Civil War, Palpatine ruled with an iron fist. He disbanded the Imperial Senate, and passed control down to the regional governors and the military. During the Hoth campaign, Palpatine expressed to Vader his concerns over Luke Skywalker, a young Rebel powerful in the Force. Vader suggested that the two convert the youth to the dark side of the Force, an idea the Emperor seconded.
The Emperor was a scheming ruler, planning events far in the future, using the Force to foresee the results. Palpatine allowed Rebel spies to learn of the location of the second Death Star, and foresaw their strike team and fleet assault. Palpatine crafted an elaborate trap that was to be the end of the Rebellion. He also concentrated on converting Luke Skywalker to the dark side of the Force, even at the expense of sacrificing Vader. In the Death Star, high above the Battle of Endor, Luke refused the Emperor's newfound dark side power, and so Palpatine used his deadly Force lightning to attack the young Jedi. Luke almost died in the assault, but his father, Darth Vader, returned to the light side of the Force, and hurled the Emperor into the Death Star's reactor core, killing him.
Palpatine was a gnarled, old man. An ancient-looking human, he had pale skin, and searing, sickly yellow eyes. He wore a heavy dark cloak, and carried a glossy black cane.
The All Terrain Armored Transport, or AT-AT walker, is a four-legged transport and combat vehicle used by the Imperial ground forces. Standing a towering 15 meters tall, these walkers are intimidating, and are used as much for psychological effect as they are for tactical effect.
An AT-AT has blast-impervious armor plating, and resembles a gigantic beast as it moves across the battlefield. An AT-AT's head carries the main armaments, a pair of light blasters located on the walker's "temples," and heavier, twin laser cannons mounted on the walker's "chin."
The command crew pilots the AT-AT from the walker's head, which is connected to the main body by a flexible neck. The crew consists of a commander, a gunner, and a pilot. Additional crews and troops can be carried in the walker's main storage bay.
Within three years of the Death Star's demise, the Galactic Empire again proved its evil nature with the construction of a second Death Star in a remote region of space. Fortunately for the galaxy, the Empire never completed this monstrosity. Word of its construction was spread through the Rebel ranks by Bothan spies. The Alliance was able to pinpoint the exact location of Death Star's construction, and mount a pre-emptive strike to destroy the station.
The leaked information was all a ruse. The scheming Emperor Palpatine engineered the Rebellion's discovery of the Death Star in the hopes of trapping the growing Rebel fleet. The second Death Star would not be as vulnerable as the Rebels believed.
To ensure that the Death Star would destroy the lured Alliance fleet, Palpatine entrusted the supervision of its final phase of construction to his Sith apprentice, Lord Darth Vader. Vader motivated the Death Star's commander, Moff Jerjerrod, to see that the battle station was operational when the Emperor arrived for his inspection tour.
The second Death Star was not a complete sphere. Though much of the battle station's recognizable shape was visible, there were huge sections of exposed superstructure and visible skeleton. To protect the half-completed and immobile station during its construction, the Empire projected an immense deflector shield from the nearby forest moon of Endor. The shield was strong enough to protect any breach from both capital and starfighter-class ships.
The Alliance sent a commando team to land on the moon and deactivate the shield generator while the Rebel fleet emerged from hyperspace to destroy the station. Unlike the previous Death Star, whose reactor core was accessible only from a two-meter wide exhaust port, the second Death Star's heart had to be destroyed by actually flying into the superstructure and detonating the collosal power plant.
The commando team was waylaid by Imperials and the Rebel fleet arrived to find the deflector shield intact. Worse yet, the superlaser was operational, and began destroying Rebel Mon Calamari cruisers with each blast. General Lando Calrissian came up with a daring and foolhardy tactic to engage the Imperial fleet at point-blank range, thus limiting the Death Star's available targets.
Aided by the native Ewoks of Endor, the Rebels were able to infiltrate and destroy the shield generator complex. With the shield down, General Calrissian led the Alliance starfighters into the inner recesses of the Death Star. There, he and Wedge Antilles loosed a volley of ordnance that began an immense fireball that tore apart the station.
Emperor Palpatine's body was consumed in the explosion. The Imperial fleet never recovered from the fiasco. What was to be the Rebel Alliance's demise instead turned into, the death of the Empire. As firey fragments of the battle station burned away in Endor's atmosphere, the celebratory cheers of freedom rang throughout the forests, and indeed, the entire galaxy.
Secluded in a remote corner of the Outer Rim Territories, the gas giant Endor and its verdant moon of the same name would easily have been overlooked by a busy galaxy were it not for the decisive battle that occurred there. Endor serves as the gravesite of both Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader. It was here that the Rebel Alliance began the path of victory over the Galactic Empire.
Endor was the secret construction site for the second Death Star. Code-named the Sanctuary Moon, Endor was a green jewel that stood out against the dark reaches of space. Rivers wind through the thick canopy of ancient trees, and the forests extend high over the dark floors and the low mountains of the world.
Built in a clearing on the moon was an Imperial installation protected by an entire legion of Imperial troops. A massive shield generator projected a deflector shield around the half-completed Death Star. A daring Rebel strike team, under the command of General Han Solo, was assigned to destroy the generator. With the assistance of the native Ewoks, the Rebels defeated the Imperial troops, paving the way for a victorious space battle. This historic engagement is known as the Battle of Endor.
Tauntauns are a species of snow lizard found roaming the windswept snow plains of Hoth. The Rebel Alliance domesticated the swift creature during their stay on the ice planet, and used the animals for patrol duties outside Echo Base. The animals came in useful as the Rebel technicians had difficulty adapting their repulsorlift speeders to the subzero temperatures.
Both Luke Skywalker and Han Solo rode tauntauns on Rebel patrol missions, planting a network of life-form sensors along Echo Base's perimeter. Though tauntauns are sure-footed and well equipped to handle Hoth's daytime temperature, the chilling extremes of a Hoth night will prove deadly.
Luke Skywalker's life has been indelibly changed by encounters with remarkable people. But if ever one person can be said to have had the greatest impact on his life, it is his beloved wife, the fiercely independent and stubbornly determined Mara Jade.
She was once known as the Emperor's Hand -- a highly skilled assassin and operative who could hear Emperor Palpatine's bidding from across the galaxy. Trained since childhood and honed into a weapon, Mara learned self-sufficiency, piloting, marksmanship and talents in the Force while serving her dark master.
One of her last missions was the assassination of Luke Skywalker. Emperor Palpatine was dismayed by the changes in Vader following the Dark Lord's lightsaber duel with his son on Bespin. Skywalker had stirred something in Vader, and the Emperor distrusted his closest agent. As a contingency, the Emperor dispatched Mara to track down and kill Skywalker.
Mara knew that Skywalker would attempt a rescue of his imprisoned friend, Han Solo. She infiltrated Jabba's palace, posing as a dancer named Arica. She failed to get close enough to Skywalker, and Jabba refused to let her attend the execution party heading out into the desert. She missed her chance.
A perfectionist, Mara could not abide failure. She wished to make it up to her dark master, but never got that chance. In mid-transit back to Coruscant, Mara felt the Emperor's death through the Force.
Her entire life of high-placed contacts, elevated status, and lifelong purpose collapsed with the defeat of the Empire at the Battle of Endor. Through the Force, Mara received fragmented images of the Emperor's final moments. Luke Skywalker was there... as was Vader... and the two murdered her mentor.
For years, she blamed Skywalker for Palpatine's death and the loss of her purpose. Mara floated along the fringe of galactic society in the years after the Battle of Endor. She eventually found herself as a pilot and operative in Talon Karrde's smuggling organization.
During the events of Grand Admiral Thrawn's campaign against the New Republic, Mara came face to face with Luke. The two had to cooperate to survive the wilderness of the planet Myrkr. They settled on an uneasy peace -- and Luke explained that it was not he who had killed Palpatine, but rather it was Vader.
Witnessing Luke Skywalker's Jedi abilities, Mara developed a begrudging respect for the war hero. Though she openly and brusquely questioned many of his philosophies, the two were often paired together during the Thrawn crisis, and their talents complemented each other perfectly time and again. Following the defeat of Thrawn, Luke gave Mara the gift of his first lightsaber, a weapon long thought lost but recovered by agents of the Empire.
Mara didn't want to be saddled with commitment to Skywalker's new Jedi order, so she refused his invitation to train. After all, she had survived all this time on her own, and had supplemented the Empire's finest training with hard-earned field experience. She had long been independent and the baby-steps of Luke's Jedi praxeum had no place for her.
Still, in her efforts to master her talents, she came across Kyle Katarn, another self-trained Jedi who had ignored Skywalker's invitation. The two trained together for a while, but the dark side crossed their paths. Realizing the dangers of the Force, Katarn admitted that the group learning experience of Skywalker's academy had its benefits, and became one of the first students. While Mara did visit the academy on occasion, she did not become a full-time student.
Mara focused on her career in the fringe, accepting increased responsibility in Talon Karrde's newly formed Smugglers Alliance. She undertook a number of information-gathering missions, pairing with Lando Calrissian on occasion. Despite the dashing gambler's best efforts, he was never able to woo Jade into anything other than a strictly business relationship.
Karrde, who was grooming Mara to be his successor, wanted her to gather an even wider variety of skills. Mara became increasingly independent in the following years, loosening her ties with the Smugglers Alliance.
During the Camaasi Document incident, Mara was investigating Chiss activities on the distant world of Nirauan. She once again teamed with Luke Skywalker as they infiltrated the mysterious outpost known as the Hand of Thrawn. Together, their skills and personalities strengthened each other perfectly; if not for their pairing, they would have perished.
It was then that they realized how perfect a match they were. Despite a decade of tension between the two, and a relationship that started with near-violent acrimony, the two had fallen in love.
Following the peace treaty that brought a formal end to the Galactic Civil War, Mara Jade and Luke Skywalker wed on Coruscant. For a galaxy undergoing seismic political change, the two represented an inspiring ideal and a powerful symbol. A former Imperial agent and the galaxy's most powerful Jedi Master had found a way beyond their past differences to find love.
The New Republic, long plagued by war and insurgents, was eager to embrace a time of peace. While Luke continued to train new initiates at the Jedi academy, Mara kept up her contacts in the fringe. She took Luke's niece, Jaina Solo, as a Jedi apprentice. This tranquility, unfortunately, was short-lived.
It began in a subtle, insidious fashion. While on a diplomatic mission to Monor II, Mara was secretly infected with a coomb spore, a deadly bio-engineered pathogen crafted by the Yuuzhan Vong. When the full invasion of Yuuzhan Vong forces began, Mara was already weakened, tapping into the power of the Force to sustain her life. Mara focused the Force within her to cleanse her body of this infection. The process was exhausting.
It was during this illness that Mara discovered she was pregnant. This galvanized her resolve to fight off the disease. She carried the child to term, and the healing glow of the Force bolstered by the love of mother, father and newborn son finally cured Mara of the Yuuzhan Vong sickness.
Despite the carnage and destruction sweeping the galaxy, there was a quiet moment affirming life and hope as Mara Jade Skywalker and Luke Skywalker welcomed their infant son Ben into the world.
This peace was short-lived as the Yuuzhan Vong attacks continued to weaken the New Republic and diminish the Jedi ranks. Mara, aboard her Jade Shadow starship, continued flying missions against the invaders while her son was safely sequestered on the Jedi safeworld code-named Eclipse.
Together with her husband, Mara voyaged to the conquered world of Coruscant, to investigate strange stirrings in the Force. The once gleaming metropolis world was overgrown with Yuuzhan Vong organic technology, transformed from a modern city to a fetid jungle. In the planet's depths, Mara used her still-functioning access codes to reveal the source of the Force-disturbance. Irek Ismeren, the son of a fellow Emperor's Hand, was corrupted and reformed as Lord Nyax, a dangerously unstable Dark Jedi.
After defeating Nyax, and participating in several key missions against the Yuuzhan Vong, Mara is once again next to her husband as he seeks to find an end to the war. Aboard the Jade Shadow, and along with a team of fellow Jedi, Mara and Luke voyage into the depths of the Unknown Regions, seeking the mysterious world of Zonama Sekot that may hold the secrets of ending this long and bloody conflict.
While not as imposing as its larger AT-AT walker cousin, the AT-ST nonetheless served as a significant addition to the Imperial side of battlefields in the Galactic Civil War. The two-man craft is lightly armed with chin-mounted laser cannons, and side-mounted weapon pods. The two legged craft, dubbed the scout walker by many, serves as a reconnaisance and patrol vehicle, often flanking approaching AT-ATs and mopping up infantry that sneaks past the larger walkers. The Imperials used AT-STs in both the Battle of Hoth and the Battle of Endor.