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Cham Syndulla

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"His fight against the droids has made him a symbol of freedom for the people."
―Mace Windu, about Cham Syndulla[src]

Cham Syndulla was a Twi'lek male who dedicated his life to being a resistance fighter and revolutionary leader during the Clone Wars and the early days of the rebellion against the Galactic Empire. Syndulla started as a political revolutionary who opposed the corruption of Ryloth's senator, Orn Free Taa, but the invasion of Ryloth by the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars saw him turn his attention towards rebellion. He formed the Twi'lek Resistance and fought alongside Jedi Master Ima-Gun Di and the Grand Army of the Republic in their initial attempts to repel the Separatist warlord Wat Tambor and the Separatist Droid Army, but the Republic's initial assistance was limited and the Twi'leks were vastly outnumbered. Though Syndulla was reluctant to trust the Republic again and feared a Republic military occupation of Ryloth, Syndulla ultimately allied himself with Jedi General Mace Windu and, together, they liberated Ryloth from the Separatists.

His concerns over the Republic were eventually confirmed when, at the end of the Clone Wars, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine declared himself Emperor and transformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire. Ryloth fell under Imperial Military occupation, so Syndulla formed the Free Ryloth movement to fight back. He and the movement hoped to strike a crippling blow to the Empire by attempting to assassinate the Emperor and his apprentice, Darth Vader, when they visited Ryloth, but the plot failed. In reality, it was a trick by the Emperor to lure the Free Ryloth movement into a trap. Many of the movement's members were killed, but Syndulla managed to escape.

Syndulla's wife was killed at some point during the Twi'lek rebellion, so Syndulla fully dedicated himself to his cause and cared only about liberating Ryloth. This created strain in Syndulla's relationship with his daughter, Hera, who left Ryloth to fight the Empire on other worlds. In the third year before the Battle of Yavin, Syndulla partnered with Hera and her rebel forces in order to capture an Imperial carrier over Ryloth for the rebel fleet. The elder Syndulla briefly betrayed the rebels in an attempt to destroy the carrier, hoping to use its destruction as a symbol to rally the people of Ryloth to the cause of his resistance, but he ultimately helped the rebels capture the carrier. In the process, an Imperial light cruiser was destroyed, giving Syndulla the symbol he hoped for. The events led him to reconcile with Hera and see the virtues of fighting the Empire beyond just Ryloth.

BiographyEdit

Political revolutionaryEdit

"Cham Syndulla was a radical before the war. He is very unpredictable."
"He can't be trusted. I know Syndulla seeks to gain power. We were political rivals."
Supreme Chancellor Palpatine and Orn Free Taa — Gnome-speakernotesListen (file info)[src]

Cham Syndulla hailed from the planet Ryloth,[2] homeworld of the Twi'leks.[1] Syndulla became a political revolutionary and opposed what he saw as the corruption in the Galactic Republic. For Syndulla, the corruption had no greater face than that of Orn Free Taa, the senator of Ryloth.[2] The distrust that Syndulla felt towards the senator was mutual; Taa considered Syndulla to be a political radical, one who was unpredictable and sought to gain power for himself. In actuality, Syndulla's goal was the freedom of his people,[1] which he fought for throughout his life. Syndulla had a daughter, Hera, who was inspired by his leadership amongst their people.[5]

The Clone WarsEdit

Fall of RylothEdit

"I promise you, Cham, the Republic will not abandon Ryloth."
"I've heard enough of your promises, Jedi. The fact remains, if we stay here without reinforcements, we're all going to die."
―Generals Ima-Gun Di and Cham Syndulla[src]
Ima-Gun Di and Cham Syndulla

Syndulla and Jedi General Ima-Gun Di led the initial Republic and Twi'lek efforts against the Separatists.

During the Clone Wars, twenty-two years before the Battle of Yavin, Emir Wat Tambor of the Techno Union led the Separatist Droid Army in an invasion of Ryloth. As Hera and her mother fled underground,[6] Syndulla turned his political revolution into an armed resistance movement and formed the Twi'lek Resistance to combat the Separatist Alliance and liberate his world. Syndulla and his freedom fighters were the first to battle the Separatist forces on Ryloth.[1] They were soon aided by a garrison from the Grand Army of the Republic, under the command of Jedi General Ima-Gun Di and Clone Captain Keeli. With their help, Syndulla mounted a defense of a Twi'lek refugee encampment, where the resistance fighters' families dwelled, against an army of battle droids.[7]

Along with his friend and fellow soldier Gobi Glie, Syndulla commanded the resistance against the approaching battle droids. The situation turned dire as the resistance forces began running low on food, water, and ammunition as a result of the Separatist blockade of Ryloth. General Di attempted to find more supplies by sending a message to the Jedi High Council through the orbiting Republic fleet, but the fleet was destroyed and the Republic supply lines were completely cut off. Without the Republic's re-supply efforts, the Republic and resistance forces lost more ground to the droid army and became trapped in the cliffs where the refugee village had been established.[7]

The dire situation tested Syndulla's faith in the Grand Army of the Republic, and it seemed that the survival of the resistance was a lost cause. General Syndulla felt betrayed by the turn of events; he and his people were promised Republic assistance, and the Republic did not deliver. Di, however, came up with a plan to save the refugees and the resistance fighters. To do so, they would use their remaining gunship as a bomb that would collapse an adjacent pass, cutting the Separatists off from the resistance fighters and their families. Once the pass collapsed, Di and Keeli would cover the Twi'lek retreat.[7]

SyndullaKeeliDi

Syndulla leads his people into retreat.

Once the plan was in motion, Syndulla and Glie prepared their forces and their families to leave, while the Republic began their distraction. Syndulla successfully led his people to safety, but Di and Keeli were killed while providing cover for the resistance. Their sacrifice, however, was not a lost cause; the Twi'lek Resistance lived to fight another day, and the Republic—with the help of Senator Bail Organa of Alderaan and the King Katuunko of Toydaria—sent re-supply ships through the Separatist blockade. With the Republic able to slip through, the resistance fighters and their people acquired the food and medical supplies they so desperately needed.[7]

Liberating RylothEdit

"I was wondering when you'd find me, Master Jedi."
"General Syndulla, I've come for your help."
"What makes you think you'll get it?"
―Cham Syndulla meets Mace Windu — Gnome-speakernotesListen (file info)[src]

After escaping, the resistance forces continued to engage the Separatist Droid Army in the hopes of liberating Ryloth, though Syndulla no longer had any desire to see assistance from the Republic that had failed to help them before. The Separatists pursued Syndulla's forces and slaughtered many Twi'leks, littering the plains of Ryloth with the bodies of Twi'leks who stood against them. The freedom fighters set up refugee camps underground, which they maintained while engaging droid patrols. [1]

Mace meets Cham

General Syndulla meets Jedi Master Mace Windu.

Despite their initial losses, the Republic mounted a major offensive to retake Ryloth from Wat Tambor and the Separatists, scoring a number of victories against the Droid Army.[8][9] Jedi General Mace Windu traveled to Ryloth with the intention of taking the capital of Lessu from the droids, and the Republic suffered losses in a failed attempt to retake the capital. Windu sought out Syndulla in the plains, where the general surrounded the Jedi as Windu explained he and his forces, including ARC troopers Stak and Razor, had come to enlist Syndulla's help in liberating Ryloth. Syndulla brought the Jedi into his camp, where he found that Glie had been injured and urged him to tend to his wounds so he could return to the fight. After seeing to his friend, Syndulla offered Windu food and drink. Supplies were short, but Syndulla honored the traditions of Twi’lek hospitality. [1]

Syndulla was reluctant to trust Windu for a number of reasons. Not only had the Republic already abandoned Ryloth once, but Syndulla also feared what would happen after the liberation of Ryloth—to the freedom fighter, a Republic military presence on Ryloth, supported by Senator Taa, was simply another armed occupation, and Ryloth could not truly be free under such conditions. Once Syndulla learned that the Separatists had begun bombing Twi'lek villages, however, Syndulla agreed to speak with the senator. Though the conversation between the two was tense and full of bickering, Windu focused them on the matter at hand. As they spoke, Jedi General Anakin Skywalker reported that his clone forces engaged the Separatists that were bombing the Twi’lek villages. Syndulla and Taa came to realize that Tambor knew his defeat was imminent and was choosing to destroy whatever he could not have. To put aside their differences, Taa promised that the Grand Army of the Republic would not occupy Ryloth, while Syndulla agreed that he would not seek political power. With those promises, Syndulla was officially allied with the Republic and rallied his freedom fighters to finish the fight with the Separatists.[1]

Finding a way into the capital city proved to be a particular challenge, as the only entry point was a plasma bridge that was controlled from within the city itself. Making matters worse was that Tambor moved the city's population to sit on the outside of the city, which prevented the Republic from launching a direct attack lest there be civilian causalities. The allied forces soon discovered a way in, however, when the resistance discovered Separatist Multi-Troop Transports that were traveling along a cliff overlooking the city. Syndulla informed Windu about the transports and how they were carrying treasures for Emir Tamor. Windu, Stak, and Razor infiltrated one of the transports and made it across the bridge, while Syndulla and his forces engaged the Separatists to give Windu time to activate the plasma bridge. [1]

Syndulla charge

Syndulla leads the charge into Lessu, where the Twi'lek Resistance and the Republic successfully seize the capital.

Once the bridge was activated, Syndulla led the charge into Lessu, where the resistance fought against the Droid Army. Windu, meanwhile, captured Emir Tambor. When he was captured, the leader of the Separatists, the Sith Lord Count Dooku, ordered Separatist bombers to destroy the city. The city was saved, however, by the arrival of General Skywalker and his Padawan, Commander Ahsoka Tano, flying Jedi starfighters. With the capital secure, Tambor formally surrendered to Syndulla, and the resistance leader thanked General Windu for his assistance. He later joined Windu, along with Senator Taa, to watch a parade that celebrated the liberation of Ryloth.[1] The liberation of Ryloth and Syndulla's leadership over the resistance was remembered in songs, including "The Hammer of Ryloth," which celebrated the Battle of Lessu.[5]

Age of the EmpireEdit

Free Ryloth movementEdit

"Not a terrorist, but a freedom fighter. Not a terrorist, but a freedom fighter."
―Cham Syndulla, to himself[src]

The liberation of Ryloth was short-lived. At the end of the Clone Wars, Chancellor Palpatine—who in actuality was Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sithtransformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire. Ryloth fell under Imperial Military occupation and had its resources plundered, so Syndulla organized and led the Free Ryloth movement in order to liberate his homeworld.[4] Though his fears about the Republic were proven true, Syndulla nonetheless held the Jedi in high regard. He told Hera stories about how the Jedi fought in the Clone Wars,[10] and he remained fond of Jedi Master Windu,[5] who was killed during the fall of the Jedi Order at the end of the war.[11] During this time, he fought against Imperial forces under Grand Admiral Thrawn.[12]

Sidious and Vader on Ryloth

Sidious and Vader fight Syndulla's Free Ryloth movement, which attempted to assassinate them.

In the years after the rise of the Empire, Sidious and his Sith apprentice, Darth Vader—formerly General Anakin Skywalker, before his fall to the dark side of the Forcetravelled to Ryloth. Realizing that he could deliver a crippling blow to the Empire, Syndulla led the Free Ryloth movement in an attempt to assassinate the two Sith Lords. The assassination plot failed and many of the freedom fighters were killed as the Sith Lords fought for their survival against the Twi'lek rebellion, but Syndulla escaped from the onslaught. The entire plot was, in actuality, manipulated by the Emperor in order to draw out the Free Ryloth movement and destroy them.[4]

At some point during the resistance against the Empire, Hera's mother was killed. Her death left Syndulla totally devoted to the cause of his rebellion, and he prioritized the liberation of Ryloth as his most important duty. This caused strain with Hera, who believed all her father cared about was his mission. Unlike her father, who only believed in fighting for the liberation of the Twi'leks, Hera hoped to see the whole galaxy freed from the Empire. She left Ryloth and set out to organize her own rebel movement, one that would ultimately become part of a larger rebellion against the Empire. Despite the strain in their relationship, Syndulla was heartbroken that his daughter left Ryloth. The two would not speak for several years, though Syndulla did hear stories about Hera’s rebel crew, including the Jedi Kanan Jarrus.[5] She also considered her father to be her greatest inspiration;[13] though it was her mother that the elder Syndulla believed taught her how to be a dreamer, Hera said it was her father who taught her how to be a leader.[5]

During the time of the Empire, Syndulla had become known as "the liberator of Ryloth." His tactics in defeating the Separatists were taught at the Imperial Academy on Mandalore, and Syndulla took pride in the fact that the Empire had still not figured out how to beat him.[5]

A difficult allianceEdit

The crew of the Ghost

Cham joined forces with the Lothal rebels to stop an Imperial cruiser-carrier.

After several years of having no contact with his daughter, Hera unexpectedly contacted her father Cham by hologram. Hera and her fellow rebels wanted to steal an Imperial Quasar Fire-class cruiser-carrier to provide a safe refuge for the rebellion's Phoenix Squadron, which piloted A-wing starfighters. This same cruiser-carrier orbited Ryloth and housed several TIE/sa bombers which frequently bombarded Ryloth. Seeing an opportunity to destroy the Imperial cruiser-carrier, Cham and two of his followers Numa and Gobi Glie traveled on a Nu-class transport to rendezvous with Hera's starship Ghost in deep space.[5]

After exchanging pleasantries with Hera and her crew, Cham and Hera settled down to business. During a briefing session, his daughter advocated hijacking and stealing the Imperial cruiser-carrier. As part of her plan, Hera advocated using a hijacked TIE bomber to infiltrate the Imperial warship. Wishing to destroy the Imperial starship in order to demonstrate the strength of the Free Ryloth movement, Cham disagreed with Hera. In response, his daughter contended that her father would have already destroyed the starship if they had the means to do it. Since this was not the case, Hera urged her father to compromise and work with fellow rebels for a change. After Hera's mate Kanan backed her up, Cham reluctantly agreed to support Hera's plan but nodded to Numa and Gobi.[5]

Following the briefing, Cham visited Hera to have a private talk with his daughter. Cham recognized Hera's astromech droid Chopper as the same droid she had rescued during the Battle of Ryloth. Still unhappy with his daughter's life choices, Cham reprimanded Hera for not devoting her life to freeing Ryloth and derided Chopper as a "second rate junkpile"; triggering an angry response from both. Hera responded by reiterating that the rebellion was fighting for everyone's freedom including Ryloth. Before storming out of the room, Cham remarked that outsiders could not be trusted and stressed that Ryloth was his most important cause.[5]

On the way to Ryloth, Cham and his followers ingratiated themselves with Hera's crew. Cham regaled Kanan with stories of his exploits during the Battle of Ryloth including his assault on the plasma bridge. Unknown to the Lothal rebels, this was only a ruse for Cham to proceed with his original plan: destroying the Imperial cruiser-carrier. After exiting hyperspace, the two rebel factions exited Cham's shuttle and boarded Hera's stolen TIE bomber. Hera managed to trick the Imperials into allowing their bomber to land by arranging for two A-wing fighters to attack the bomber.[5]

Hera and Cham Syndulla

Cham reconciled with his daughter, Hera.

Having landed aboard the cruiser-carrier, Cham and his followers then put their true plan into action. While Num and Gobi stunned Kanan, Sabine Wren, Ezra Bridger and Garazeb Orrelios, Cham knocked out Hera and Chopper. Before leaving, Cham handcuffed Hera to the cockpit to ensure that she did not interfere with their mission. Cham and his followers then overpowered a stormtrooper patrol that had been sent to the hangar bay. While Numa and Gobi headed to the munitions racks to plant their detonators, Cham proceeded to disable the ship's hyperdrive.[5]

After disabling the hyperdrive's couplings on the third and fourth generators, Cham headed to the bridge to confront the captain and crew. However, Hera and the Lothal rebels by then had freed themselves and taken Numa and Gobi prisoner. With both sides deadlocked, Cham and Hera argued. Following a lengthy argument, Hera managed to sway her father over by telling Cham how he had inspired her to join the rebellion. Upon learning that the Empire had marshaled reinforcements to retake the cruiser-carrier, Cham and his fellow Ryloth rebels decided to join forces with the Lothal rebels in resisting the Empire.[5]

When several TIE bombers damaged the cruiser-carrier's stabilizers, Cham and Hera joined forces to stabilize the ship. After instructing Chopper how to repair the ship's hyperdrive, Cham helped the other Lothal rebels to destroy an approaching Imperial light cruiser by shoving a TIE bomber adrift into space. Cham then fired upon the bomber, triggering an explosion that also engulfed the nearby light cruiser. Having eliminated the Imperial forces, Cham and the Lothal rebels took the cruiser into hyperspace.[5]

By working together, the Ryloth and Lothal rebels succeeded in galvanizing Twi'lek resistance against the Empire. With more Twi'leks joining the resistance, Cham reconciled his daughter whom he praised for sharing his wife's leadership qualities. After bidding their rebel allies farewell, Cham and his followers departed into space on their Nu-class transport.[5]

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Notes and referencesEdit

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