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- "I've been told that a lot of you are familiar with my exploits and consider me something of a legend. I don't see why you should. Every one of you are heroes, and someday your stories will be legendary as well."
- ―Airen Cracken
Born and raised on his parents' farm on Contruum, Cracken developed an early proficiency with machinery and modifications. He put these skills to use performing repairs on nearby farmers' equipment, and eventually Cracken opened a mechanic's shop. He married a Corellian woman called Josta, and had two children: Pash and Dena.
When the Galactic Empire took control of Contruum, Cracken organized his mechanics into a group of guerrilla resistance fighters waging war on the infrastructure of the Imperial occupation. Supply depots, mining operations, star docks, and landing bays were all targets of Cracken's Crew. According to the account in his official Alliance biography, their sabotage distracted and frustrated the Imperial commander while a planetary militia was raised, and they subsequently fought alongside the militia in a years-long war which caused so much damage to the Imperial garrison that it forced the sector's Moff to cede control of the planet to its people.
The Alliance source goes on to claim that Cracken grew preoccupied with the thought that other worlds were still laboring under Imperial domination, and left Contruum with the aim of joining the Rebellion. However, it seems that Cracken and his crew initially operated independently of the Alliance, traveling from planet to planet aboard a freighter, targeting Imperial facilities.
Eventually, the crew caught the attention of the Rebels, and Cracken found himself as an officer of Alliance Intelligence. He was a general before the Battle of Yavin, and soon succeeded General Vernan as Supreme Allied Commander for Intelligence, overall leader of one of the Allied military's six galaxywide commands.
Much of Cracken's work involved overseeing the galaxywide network of agents through which Intell worked to undermine the New Order—spies, scouts, infiltrators, and sympathetic Imperial officers. Cracken was directly involved at every stage, from recruitment onwards, profiling a number of his most valuable assets were documented in Cracken's Rebel Operatives, among them Rivoche Tarkin, Tru'eb Cholakk, and Jan Ors (under her alias Jan Strange).
His imagination also spawned several innovative operations, such as the infiltration of BlasTech's weapons research department by Inat Rangoon. He even used his teenage son, Pash, as an agent, sending him to join the Imperial Academy, where he suborned his classmates, and subsequently led his entire TIE fighter wing to mutiny. While it was Pash who would become best-known as a fighter pilot, the elder Cracken was also formidable behind the controls of a combat plane: it was Airen Cracken who taught Pash how to fly a fighter, and he personally flew close-support in-atmosphere operations for SpecForce commandos in a Z-95t Headhunter designated Tala 1.
Nor was his front-line service limited to the cockpit. His bravery in the field twice earned him the Nebula Award, one of which was awarded for bravely surviving capture and Bavo Six-aided interrogation at the hands of the Imperial Security Bureau on Quanton. His knowledge of useful field modifications and equipment were codified in Cracken's Rebel Field Guide, and his writings proved essential in the training of the Alliance Special Forces: for example, he devised a technique, which became well known to Alliance operatives, of creating an effective grenade out of two blaster power packs.
Airen Cracken helped Colonel Beryl Chiffonage tutor anxious tactics genius Risiev Credal. During their free time, Cracken and Chiffonage entertained Credal with tales of the tactics they used in old times. Credal enjoyed and learned a lot during this time. Credal's mysterious disappearance and rumors of desertion led to Cracken reconsidering Credal's loyalty and his own good judgment by telling him so much.
In 2 ABY, Airen Cracken worked with the Task Force on Alliance Security, writing important reports on threats to the Rebel Alliance, and coordinating reports from other Rebel agents. He wrote, for instance, a report on slaver Talas Piran, leader of the Mytaranor Slaving Council, explaining why he was a despicable person; and another report on professor-turned-pirate Callow Batta, where he said that he would like to recruit him for the Alliance before he could begin scrambling Rebel operations and trade. Cracken also provided insight for other reports, talking about the quality of Hydrospeare Corporation, the treason of Mosara Thiirn, or his own relationship with Risiev Credal.
During the Battle of Endor, General Cracken served aboard the Millennium Falcon with at least one other Tala Squadron pilot, Lieutenant Blount. The two were initially in the ship's cockpit with its pilot, General Lando Calrissian, co-pilot Nien Nunb, and a navigator. Eventually, Cracken served as the ship's gunner, manning the top turret during the battle.
When the Alliance became the New Republic, Cracken took command of New Republic Intelligence, keeping a watchful eye on former Imperial warlords like Zsinj and Ysanne Isard. After NRI relocated to Coruscant, he oversaw the investigation and prosecution of Tycho Celchu, and took up the challenge of forming the New Republic Security Force. Subsequently, he was instrumental in stopping a Zsinj-led program to isolate nonhumans from the New Republic, including Sullustan Rostat Manr's attempt to crash a starliner into the atmosphere of Coruscant.
Like his counterpart Hiram Drayson at Alpha Blue, Cracken still continued to lead the Intel apparatus in his own way, prepared to do what he felt was best for the New Republic, even if it meant bending the rules. In 7 ABY, he arranged for Rogue Squadron's resignations to mysteriously go unprocessed, so that the Bacta War could be retrospectively claimed as a NRI operation, and the next year, he arranged for the transfer of Wraith Squadron to his direct command as an Intel unit after the Battle of Selaggis.
Some time between 10 ABY and 12 ABY, Cracken was replaced as Supreme Commander for Intel by Crix Madine, his counterpart at SpecForces—a move that may have been designed to reinforce Madine's position as the Alliance's traditional SpecForces commandos were eclipsed by the new regular army under the aegis of what had been Fleet Command. It should also be noted, however, that this move secured the dominance of the military by Chief of State Mon Mothma's loyal lieutenants, Madine and Admiral Gial Ackbar.
Cracken's reaction is not recorded, but after Madine's death aboard the Darksaber, he once more took command of Intel, where he oversaw the separation of New Republic Intelligence from the military, maintaining his independence (with the new title of Director of New Republic Intelligence) while Gial Ackbar subordinated the rest of the armed forces to his command. As Director, Cracken oversaw the operation that sent General Wedge Antilles, Colonel Tycho Celchu, Major Derek Klivian, and Major Wes Janson to Adumar and secured the subsequent admission of that planet into the New Republic, but by 16 ABY, he had left office again, being replaced as Director by Carlist Rieekan, the Alderaanian general and former New Republic Minister of State.
After the Black Fleet Crisis, Cracken returned to Intel for the third time, where he achieved a rapid resolution to the New Republic's lack of Super Star Destroyers by recruiting Jedi sneak-thief and former Crew member Cryle Cavv to steal the Guardian for him. Cracken led NRI through the Corellian Crisis, and assembled reports on a variety of potential threats to the Republic, including the Hapans, Dathomiri, Yevetha, Imperial remnants, and Corellian separatists, which were compiled into Cracken's Threat Dossier.
By 25 ABY, Cracken had left NRI again, with Admiral Dif Scaur replacing him as Director. Nevertheless, during the Yuuzhan Vong War, although by now in his seventies, the veteran general returned once again to active service, and assumed command of his homeworld's defense. Contruum was never conquered by the Yuuzhan Vong, and became a vital base in the Mid Rim, paving the way for the Battle of Yuuzhan'tar by the Galactic Alliance. In the last stages of the war, Cracken also seemed to have acted as de facto coordinator of Alliance intelligence, and immediately after the victory, Admiral Scaur was replaced as Director by his protégée Belindi Kalenda.
Behind the scenesEdit
Cracken is said to be fifty-one in his biography in Cracken's Rebel Field Guide, which would place his birth between 51 and 48 BBY; however, The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force gives his age in 29 ABY as seventy-five, which if it is precise, would imply a birth-date around 46 BBY.
The pilot of Tala 1 is named as "Colonel Cracken" in the Star Wars Customizable Card Game's Death Star II Limited set. However, the man shown in the card illustration, who actually appears aboard the Millennium Falcon in Return of the Jedi is confirmed as Airen Cracken in Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary. For the Chief of Intelligence to also lead a ground-attack fighter squadron is entirely in keeping with General Cracken's known skills and his approach to his job, and the equation of the two men has been confirmed by Leland Chee. What is not clear how Cracken's rank of "colonel" in the CCG should be explained, as he is clearly a general earlier in the timeline.
Michael Stevens, an uncredited extra, portrayed the character later identified with Airen Cracken in Return of the Jedi.