- "You're from Lothal, then?"
"Born and raised. And ready to see the galaxy. You?"
- ―Zare Leonis and Jai Kell
Jai Kell was a cadet at the Academy for Young Imperials on Lothal fifteen years after the rise of the Galactic Empire. He was known to have a mother, who also lived on Lothal. During his time at the Imperial Academy, he was a member of Unit Aurek which was part of squad LRC077. Kell had an amicable relationship with Zare Leonis and Pandak Symes but did not get along with Nazhros Oleg. While Kell was Force-sensitive, he was unaware of his Force powers that allowed him to excel in his Academy training.
Later, Unit Aurek was joined by Dev Morgan, who was actually the Force-sensitive rebel and Jedi-in-training Ezra Bridger. Ezra was on a mission to steal a decoder from Imperial Headquarters which contained the location of a kyber crystal shipment. Due to their enhanced physical abilities, Kell and Morgan attracted the attention of the Grand Inquisitor, who ran a secret program known as Project Harvester which identified Force-sensitive individuals. After Bridger learned that the Inquisitor was coming, he and Leonis persuaded a reluctant Kell to escape the Imperial Academy. The Spectres then arranged for Kell and his mother to go into hiding.
- "Right. Finest ration-squares on Lothal. What I wouldn't give for a couple of maize rolls with genuine Westhills butter."
- ―Jai Kell joking about the rigors of Academy life
Jai Kell was born and raised on the planet Lothal during the Age of the Empire. During his childhood, he and his family visited Pretor Flats one winter and regarded it as a beautiful place. While he still had a mother, Kell's father had died two years before he had enrolled at the Academy for Young Imperials in Lothal's Capital City. The Academy for Young Imperials was a junior one-year academy that prepared Imperial cadets for training at more specialized senior academies which prepared cadets for a career with the Stormtroopers, the Imperial Army, and the Imperial Navy respectively. Jai joined the Empire with the hope of seeing the wider galaxy and reaching a top rank in the Galactic Empire.
During his time at the Imperial Academy, Jai was assigned to Unit Aurek, a four-member cell within the cadet squad LRC077. He befriended his fellow Aurek members Zare Leonis and Pandak Symes. However, Jai had an acrimonious relationship with Nazhros Oleg, who was disliked by the other cadets for being selfish and a bully. Unknown to Jai or the other cadets, Leonis was a rebel sympathizer who had infiltrated the Academy to find his missing sister Dhara Leonis, who had disappeared during a field exercise the previous year. Throughout their two-week orientation, Jai and his fellow cadets participated in frequent running drills and field exercises under the supervision of Sergeant Currahee and Lieutenant Chiron. Like his fellow cadets, Jai regarded Currahee as a "witch" because of her fiery temper and even nicknamed her "Curry." Jai also thought that Lieutenant Chiron was "inhuman" due to his incredible running stamina.
One night while their fellow cadet Symes was sleeping, Jai caught Oleg "borrowing" Symes' chance cube from his footlocker. When Oleg alleged that Symes had gained the cube by cheating during a game, Jai responded that Symes was not a cheater; prompting Oleg to return the stolen cube. Jai then turned to chat with Leonis about their personal backgrounds. After learning that Leonis was a recent migrant who had been born offworld, Jai asked Oleg where he had come from. Oleg revealed that he had come from the Outer Rim colony world of Eufornis Minor and added that his ambition was to make it to a senior academy so that he did not have to return to Lothal again; which he dismissed as a "dirtball." Cool-minded, Jai did not take insult at his homeworld being disparaged and instead commented that the seniors would have to wait.
The following morning, Jai and his fellow cadets were woken up by Sergeant Currahee, who did a footlocker inspection. The tough-minded Currahee found infractions with the entire Unit Aurek and reprimanded Kell and Leonis for leaving dirt on their boots. As punishment, she issued all the cadets in the unit with three demerits each. Later that day, Jai's fellow cadet Symes found himself falling behind the other cadets and was regularly berated by Sergeant Currahee. When Leonis attempted to help Symes, Jai tried to advice him that he couldn't since it was not his responsibility.
As the Orientation period progressed, Jai and his fellow cadets were issued with helmets and E-11 blaster rifles, standard Imperial Military equipment. Near the end of the orientation phase, Jai and his fellow Unit Aurek cadets took part in a training exercise which involved the cadets deploying from a Sentinel-class landing craft into a lake. After disembarking, Jai and the rest of Unit Aurek had to reassemble their rifles before embarking on an obstacle course to reach a pre-set destination. While navigating through the obstacle course, the cadets had to avoid being hit by trainers with their blasters set on stun mode.
For the obstacle course, Jai and Symes elected Leonis as their leader; over-ruling Oleg who had coveted that position for himself. Under Leonis' leadership, Unit Aurek proceeded forward in wedge formation with Jai and Oleg flanking Leonis on the right. The four cadets also worked together to knock out a trainer; with Jai and Oleg distracting him so that Leonis could sting him with his blaster. Learning that the trainers held the high ground, Leonis ordered his fellow unit members to switch to file formation. This tactic work and Unit Aurek succeeded in achieving their objective. However, Symes experienced a nervous break down and Leonis attempted to help him. Shortly later, the exercise ended, which marked an end to the orientation phase. While Symes decided to withdraw from the Academy, Jai along with Leonis and Oleg decided to continue their training.
Surviving the WellEdit
- "We're learning to become officers in the Empire's service. Out for a stroll on the beautiful planet Lotha, remember? But think about how hard that first week was, Zare. Now, we strip down E-11s, run ten klicks, and practice tactical formations before breakfast."
- ―Kell talking about Academy life
After surviving the Orientation phase, Jai and his fellow cadets quickly adjusted to the rhythm of Academy life. He and his fellow Unit Aurek members were jubilant when Sergeant Currahee failed to find any infractions during an inspection drill. For the rest of the term, Jai and the rest of squad LRC077 underwent a series of grueling physical assessments which were designed to test the cadets' physical prowess, mental acuity, leadership skills, and strategic adaptability. Most of these assessments took place in the Well, a purpose-built facility in the Academy that could be remotely configured to simulate a wide variety of obstacle courses.
For their first assessment, the Well was configured into a deep pit with a large retractable device known as the Pillar in the center. Under Commandant Cumberlayne Aresko's orders, the cadets were ordered to attach their harnesses to rings hanging out on the Pillar. After the Pillar rose carrying the cadets with it, Jai and his fellow cadets were ordered to climb down. While descending, Jai and his cadets also had to ride over a series of floating repulsorlift platforms that detached themselves from the wall of the pit.
Taking a risky maneuver, Jai unlocked his carbiner and jumped down two meters, landing on a platform. He managed to reattach his harness to a nearby ring before the platform beneath him began to retract. Jai was one of the first three cadets to reach the bottom; coming third place to Cadets de Grom and Wheeler. As a reward, he and the other winners were given an extra dessert ration and a free period. To encourage competition, Commandant Aresko announced that future top three finishers would be rewarded with weekend passes and work details at Imperial headquarters.
During the second assessment, Jai and his fellow cadets had to climb up the Pillar while navigating retracting platforms. This time, Jai worked in a team with Zare to reach the top. Despite their efforts, Oleg managed to beat them to the top of the Pillar while pushing down another cadet named Lomus. While this training assessment appeared to reward selfishness, it was designed to simulate the competing priorities that Imperial officers would have to face when trying to complete a mission. During a third exercise conducted by Sergeant Currahee, Jai was again paired together with Leonis. This exercise involved firing an old Clone Wars-era projectile launcher at targets. This time, the two cadets succeeded in completing their objective by striking a target with a direct hit.
Enter "Dev Morgan"Edit
- "Quite a finish, cadets. It seems this trial was too easy. Morgan, Kell, you both set course records."
- ―Cumbarlayne Aresko takes an interest in Jai Kell and Dev Morgan
Jai Kell befriended Dev Morgan, the transfer cadet from Pretor Flats Academy, who had been sent to replace Pandak Symes. While Kell quickly took a liking to the newcomer's good sense of humor, Leonis was suspicious of Morgan and disliked his braggadocio. Meanwhile, Oleg despised the newcomer for being a "moisture farmer" who was out of place in the big city. Despite being a newcomer, Morgan excelled in the assessments and seemed to be in the right place at the right time. Unknown to Kell and the other cadets, Morgan was actually Ezra Bridger, an undercover and Jedi-in-training who had been sent by his rebel cell to steal a decoder containing the coordinates for a kyber crystal shipment.
As the term progressed, Kell and his fellow cadets embarked on a week of training assessments under the supervision of Commandant Aresko, who would decide which academies they would go to continue their training the following year. During the first training session, Unit Aurek and Unit Besh were tasked with using floating repulsorlift platforms to climb out of the Well. During the assessment, Kell noticed that Morgan had an uncanny ability to anticipate the platforms before they appeared. After a challenging exercise, Morgan, Kell, and Leonis were the first three candidates to emerge from the Well. Morgan and Kell's success during the exercise caught the attention of Commandant Aresko, who praised the two cadets for setting course records. As a reward, the three cadets were given work details at the Imperial Complex in Capital City.
While Jai was working at the Imperial Complex, Leonis caught Morgan attempting to remove the Imperial Security Bureau Agent Kallus' decoder from his office. Instead of reporting him, Leonis saved Morgan by warning him not to take it out through the door since it would cause the place to go into lockdown. After discussing their motives for resisting the Empire, Leonis and Morgan made an agreement to steal the decoder. To get back into Imperial Headquarters, the two cadets made an agreement to win the next assessment in the Well.
As a result of this secret agreement, Kell's relationship with Morgan would be tested during the next training assessment. This time, the cadets had to use their blasters to activate the repulsorlift platforms in order to race to the top. To guarantee Leonis a spot in the top three places, Morgan sabotaged Kell by shoving him from a repulsorlift platform, causing him to fall to the bottom of the Well. Due to his efforts to befriend Morgan, Jai was angered by what he perceived as Morgan's competitive backstabbing. He was further hurt when Commandant Aresko used Morgan's example to teach the cadets that there was no friendship in war and that the only thing that mattered was victory. When he confronted his former friend, Morgan merely explained that he did what he had to do.
Escaping the AcademyEdit
- "You were supposed to be on the walker with us. Now what?"
"Stick to the plan. I'll figure out a way to get on board."
- ―Jai and Dev discussing their escape plan
Morgan's apparent "back-stabbing" of Jai Kell during the assessment enabled him and Leonis to carry out their plan to steal the decoder from Agent Kallus' office. While Leonis distracted Kallus with a fake procurement order, Kell crawled into the ceiling above the ISB agent's office and used the Force to levitate the decoder into his hands. An opportunity for Morgan to make amends with Kell surfaced when the rebel infiltrator overheard a conversation between Commandant Aresko and the Grand Inquisitor, a high-ranking Dark Side agent of the Empire tasked with hunting down Jedi Purge survivors and recruiting prospective Inquisitors. Aresko had identified Morgan and Kell as two cadets who fitted the Grand Inquisitor's "special criteria." The Grand Inquisitor informed Aresko that he would be visiting the Academy the following to inspect these cadets and to take them into custody if they indeed me his "special criteria."
Realizing that Kell was Force-sensitive, Morgan informed Leonis. Unwilling to allow Kell to meet the same fate as his sister Dhara, Leonis and Morgan agreed that they had to warn Jai before it was too late. After passing the decoder to Morgan's rebel colleagues, the two cadets awoke Kell from his sleep that night and brought him to the storeroom lair. Due to Morgan's recent backstabbing, Kell was initially unwilling to believe him and Leonis' story and thought that they were trying to get him "busted" from the Academy. He also questioned the Inquisitor's existence and even welcomed the idea of the Inquisitor training him.
Leonis managed to win over Jai after he recounted how his sister Dhara had disappeared under similar circumstances a year ago. Since Jai had a mother, he realized that he would never be able to see her again if the Inquisitor took him away. Realizing that he was in danger, Jai agreed to cooperate with Morgan and Leonis. The three cadets then devised a plan to escape from the Academy by winning the next challenge in the Well. Since Commandant Aresko had announced that the three top cadets would be allowed to ride an AT-DP walker, Dev devised an escape plan which involved using the walker to escape the Academy.
The following day, the three rebellious cadets proceeded with their plan. However, their plan encountered an unexpected setback when Oleg fired on Dev; causing him not to join the top three winners. Jai and Leonis managed to win the challenge along with Oleg. Despite Jai's misgivings, Dev told him to "stick to the plan." While riding in the AT-DP walker, Kell and Leonis heard an explosion outside. This gave Jai the signal to stun both the walker's driver and Oleg with his E-11 blaster. Leonis then took control of the walker and attempted to reach the bay doors but came under attack from an Imperial Troop Transport. After being rejoined by Morgan, the three cadets managed to breach the Academy's gates.
Upon exiting the blast doors, Kell and Leonis were met by Morgan's rebel associates Garazeb Orrelios and Sabine Wren. While Jai and Morgan escaped with the rebels on a landspeeder, Leonis decided to stay behind to find his sister. To cover his involvement, Leonis pretend to shoot the landspeeder. After escaping Capital City, Jai and his rebel rescuers fled to the sand dunes of Lothal where they rejoined the other crew of the Ghost, a modified VCX-100 light freighter which served as the main base of the Spectres. The rebel cell's leader Hera Syndulla agreed to help Jai and his mother hide from the Empire, though Jai seemed pessimistic about their chances of success.
Personality and traitsEdit
- "Well, the seniors will have to wait. Time for this cadet to hit this luxurious featherbed."
- ―Jai Kell was known for his good sense of humor and tendency to avoid arguments
Jai Kell was an amicable and good-natured cadet who got on well with his peers. He had a good sense of humor and tended to avoid getting embroiled in arguments. When another cadet Nazhros Oleg described his homeworld Lothal as a "dirt ball", Kell merely changed the topic and went to bed. Kell also coped with the harsh training regiment at the Academy for Young Imperials by finding things to poke fun at. On one occasion, he joked that the drill sergeant Currahee lived on blaster gas and molten carbonite. Physically fit and agile, Kell was also Force-sensitive but was unaware of this fact until his encounter with Dev Morgan.
A loyal Imperial citizen, Jai had joined the Academy with the hope of becoming an Imperial Military officer. He also wanted to see the galaxy and admired the Galactic Empire for rebuilding civilization and defeating the Separatists. Jai also regarded the Empire as a positive force in the galaxy which stopped corruption and made the galaxy a safe place by fighting slavers and pirates. In addition, Jai welcomed the employment opportunities that the Empire had brought to his homeworld of Lothal. While Kell was initially disbelieving of Zare Leonis and Dev Morgan's reports about the Grand Inquisitor, he came to accept their arguments after Leonis recounted his sister Dhara's disappearance under suspicious circumstances.
Behind the scenesEdit
Jai Kell first appeared as a support character in the Star Wars Rebels episode Breaking Ranks, which was released on October 27 2014. His backstory and character development was later expanded in Jason Fry's Rebel in the Ranks, the second book in the Servants of the Empire young adult novel series that was published as a supplement to Star Wars Rebels. He is voiced by Dante Basco.
- Servants of the Empire: Rebel in the Ranks
- Star Wars Rebels – "Breaking Ranks" (First appearance)
- Servants of the Empire: Imperial Justice (Mentioned only)
- Servants of the Empire: The Secret Academy (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Rebels: The Visual Guide
- "Star Wars Rebels Recounted"—Star Wars Insider 156 (Picture only)
- Star Wars Rebels: Rebel Power!