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"For a free Ryloth!"
―Free Ryloth movement battle-cry[src]

The Free Ryloth movement was a resistance movement led by Twi'lek Cham Syndulla during the reign of the Galactic Empire. The Free Ryloth movement sought to rid their home planet of Ryloth from Imperial occupation, fighting back against the Empire to do so. Later, the Free Ryloth movement joined forces with the Spectres to remove a Quasar Fire-class cruiser carrier that was bombarding Ryloth. Eventually, the Free Ryloth movement attracted the attention of the Imperial strategist Grand Admiral Thrawn who studied Twi'lek culture, art, and philosophy and devised tactics that led to the fall of Tann province.

DescriptionEdit

The Free Ryloth movement was a guerrilla force led by the former Twi'lek Resistance leader Cham Syndulla. The organization consisted of hundreds of guerrilla fighters that Cham had personally recruited and trained. While most were Twi'leks, the Free Ryloth movement was also known to include non-Twi'lek individuals. In addition, the Free Ryloth movement had many contacts and informants scattered throughout the Ryloth system, several hidden bases, and hoarded materiel. Due to the numerical and military superiority of the Galactic Empire's military garrison, the Free Ryloth movement carried out hit-and-run guerrilla attacks. In addition, Free Ryloth operatives also stole Imperial weapons shipments and freighters from places as far flung as the Yaga Minor shipyards. Some known military assets of the Free Ryloth movement included space mines, Vulture droids[1], rocket launchers, and Blurrg steeds.[4]

HistoryEdit

OriginsEdit

The Free Ryloth movement was founded by the former Twi'lek Resistance leader Cham Syndulla to oppose the Imperial occupation of his homeworld Ryloth. During the Clone Wars, the Galactic Republic had annexed Ryloth after liberating the planet from the Separatists. However, the Republic's successor state, the Galactic Empire, refused to leave Ryloth due to its valuable spice resources. Imperial forces occupied the planet and imposed a protectorate. While Ryloth was nominally independent and was still represented in the Imperial Senate by the collaborationist Senator Orn Free Taa, the Empire dominated the planet. In response, Cham formed the Free Ryloth movement to restore his planet's independence through armed resistance.[1]

Cham's gambitEdit

About five years after the establishment of the Galactic Empire, the Free Ryloth movement had developed into a well-armed and motivated resistance army that was backed by a network of informants, hidden bases, and storehouses. The rebels launched several raids against Imperial forces which led to the deaths of dozens of Imperial military personnel on Ryloth and disrupted the planet's spice trade. Cham's movement was aided by Colonel Belkor Dray, an ambitious Imperial officer who supplied intelligence to Cham in order to discredit the ruling Moff Delian Mors. Cham's subordinates included Pok and Isval; with the former stealing Imperial ships and equipment and the latter recruiting Twi'lek escorts into the movement and assaulting Imperial personnel.[1]

After Pok was killed by the Emperor's enforcer Darth Vader while attempting to escape with a stolen shipment of weapons from the Yaga Minor shipyards, Cham decided to shift from "half-measures" towards taking stronger action against the Empire. Viewing the Free Ryloth rebels as a growing threat, the Emperor organized a visit to Ryloth. He would be accompanied by Vader, Senator Taa, and his staff. The delegation would travel on the Imperial Star Destroyer Perilous. As planned, a Free Ryloth operative among Senator's staff leaked information about the upcoming visit to Cham. The rebel leader saw it as a perfect opportunity not only to attack the Empire but also to decapitate its leadership; thus leading to the Empire's fragmentation.[1]

Without disclosing the full details of the mission, Cham contacted Belkor and solicited his help for the mission. Both agreed to use the Free Ryloth attack as an opportunity to discredit Moff Delian. Putting their plans into action, the Free Ryloth movement planted space mines around Ryloth. As planned, the Perilous struck the mines and sustained damaged. From the safety of his hidden base, Cham then dispatched Vulture droids to attack the Star Destroyer. After battering the Star Destroyer, Belkor arranged for hundreds of Free Ryloth operatives including Isval to board the Star Destroyer disguised as maintenance crew. The Free Ryloth boarders inflicted heavy damage on the Perilous and killed numerous Imperial personnel. However, they were unable to prevent Darth Sidious and Darth Vader from escaping in a shuttle.[1]

The Free Ryloth operatives gave chase but were unable to stop the two Sith Lords from escaping into Ryloth's equatorial forest. Moff Delian dispatched Imperial forces to rescue the Sith Lords. While taking part in the rescue efforts, Colonel Belkor leaked information to Cham and arranged for Isval's party to bomb the Imperial Equatorial Communications Hub; damaging its main satellite and imposing a communications blackout. In an effort to confuse the Imperials, Belkor also sowed disinformation claiming that Moff Delian was a traitor. Isval and Cham led teams of Free Ryloth fighters to pursue the two Sith Lords and their remaining Royal Guards while braving dangerous predators such as gutkurrs and lyleks. After the two Sith Lords slaughtered an entire hive of lyleks, the Free Ryloth forces tracked their quarry down to a remote village inhabited by former slaves.[1]

Meanwhile, Moff Delian discovered Belkor's treason and managed to win back control of the Imperial forces taking part in the rescue. In an attempt to hide his links to Cham, Belkor tried to order V-wing fighters to bomb both Cham's forces and the Twi'lek village the Sith Lords were hiding in. However, Delian ordered the V-wings to shoot Belkor's ship out of the sky. Belkor's death deprived Cham of his spy in the Imperial government. Still, Cham and Isval decided to proceed with their assault on the village. However, Delian's forces arrived in time to rescue the Emperor and Vader, who proved more than a match for the Twi'leks. The Free Ryloth forces suffered heavy casualties that day and Cham was forced to retreat. Under the Emperor's orders, Vader executed Isval, the Free Ryloth prisoners, and the entire Twi'lek village to leave no survivors.[1]

Working with the rebellionEdit

Three years before the Battle of Yavin, the Free Ryloth movement continued its insurgency against the Empire. In response, Imperial forces deployed a Quasar Fire-class cruiser-carrier to Ryloth. The carrier was used to house TIE bombers that ran bombing sorties against the Free Ryloth movement. This undermined the effectiveness and morale of Cham's rebel forces. Cham found unlikely help in the form of his daughter Hera Syndulla, who had joined the rebellion. Father and daughter had parted company after disagreeing about the Free Ryloth movement's place in the rebellion. While Cham was primarily concerned with Ryloth's freedom, Hera believed that their homeworld's freedom was linked to the growing galactic-wide rebellion against the Empire. Unable to resolve their differences, Hera had left Ryloth with her astromech droid Chopper and become the leader of the Spectres, who were a small cell allied with Phoenix Squadron.[3]

Cham and his followers Gobi Glie and Numa met with Hera and her team aboard the VCX-100 light freighter Ghost. While Cham wanted to destroy the Imperial cruiser-carrier in order to demonstrate the strength of the Free Ryloth movement, Hera convinced her father to help them steal it for the Phoenix rebels; who needed a new carrier for the starfighters. Cham reluctantly agreed to help and the two rebel teams managed to board the ship using a stolen TIE bomber. However, once they were aboard, Cham and his team stunned Hera and her rebels. The Free Ryloth rebels then proceeded with their original mission to destroy the cruiser-carrier. However, Hera and her team managed to break free of their restraints. After Sabine Wren and Garazeb Orrelios captured and disarmed Gobi and Numa in the munitions rack, Hera managed to convince her father to put aside their differences and to work together.[3]

After father and daughter reconciled, the Free Ryloth rebels and Hera's crew joined forces to prevent the Imperials from recapturing the cruiser-carrier. During the fighting, the two rebel groups also managed to shoot down an Arquitens-class command cruiser. The sight of the burning light cruiser descending into Ryloth's atmosphere was witnessed by many Twi'leks. This had the effect of emboldening the Free Ryloth movement and their supporters. The joint cooperation of the two rebel cells in stealing the cruiser-carrier led Cham to establish a relationship with Hera's rebel cell and the rebellion. As a result, the Free Ryloth movement found new allies in the form of the rebellion.[3]

Two years before the Battle of Yavin, a new Imperial commander Grand Admiral Thrawn was dispatched to Ryloth. The Chiss Imperial officer studied the Twi'lek species' art, culture, philosophy, and history and was able to devise successful tactics against the Free Ryloth rebels. Working with Captain Slavin, Thrawn expelled the Free Ryloth forces from Tann province; which was the ancestral home of the Syndulla clan. Cham was forced to flee his family home and left behind several priceless heirlooms including his wife's Kalikori. While Hera and the Ghost crew were conducting a supply run, they learned about the Imperial advances in Tann province.[4]

Cham along with Numa and Gobi joined forces with Hera's cell in a mission to recover the Kalikori from the Imperials. While Hera, Ezra Bridger, and Chopper traveled to the Syndulla house, Cham, Numa, Gobi, and the other Spectres attacked Imperial forces in the Tulara Ravine. Hera and Ezra were captured by Thrawn, who added the Kalikori to his art collection. Thrawn then transferred command to Captain Slavin, who contacted Cham and offered to free his daughter and Ezra if he would surrender himself to the Empire. In secret, Slavin planned to capture all of the rebels. However, Hera circumvented Slavin's plan by using Chopper to plant explosives in Syndulla house. The two rebel cells then took advantage of the chaos to escape in the Ghost. Thrawn was impressed by his opponents' ingenuity and refused to shoot them down on the grounds that they had earned their victory.[4]

VictoryEdit

One year after the Battle of Endor, Imperial forces abandoned all of their bases on Ryloth in a wake of a string of defeats against the New Republic, the government established by the Rebel Alliance. Free Ryloth rebels saw the Imperial retreat as a vindication of Cham's long struggle against the Empire. The rebel fighter Yendor became Ryloth's Emissary to the New Republic.[7] Ryloth subsequently became an independent world but maintained relations with the New Republic.[8]

Behind the scenesEdit

The Free Ryloth movement first appeared as the main antagonists in Paul S. Kemp's 2015 novel Lords of the Sith, which focuses on the relationship between Darth Vader and his master Darth Sidious. The Free Ryloth rebels also appeared in Melissa Scott's 2015 short story Mercy Mission; which was released as part of The Rise of the Empire omnibus. Cham and two fellow Free Ryloth operatives Gobi Glie and Numa later appeared in two Star Wars Rebels episodes "Homecoming" and "Hera's Heroes", which were released in 2016. The Free Ryloth rebels were briefly alluded to in Chuck Wendig's 2016 novel Aftermath: Life Debt, the second book in the Aftermath Trilogy.

AppearancesEdit

SourcesEdit

Notes and referencesEdit

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