- "War, like politics, sometimes makes for strange bedfellows. One uses the tools one has."
- ―Koth Melan
Koth Melan was a male Bothan spymaster and head of the Bothan Spynet during the Galactic Civil War. After the Galactic Empire executed his father in 17 BBY for supposed espionage, Melan was sympathetic to the Alliance to Restore the Republic and sought to help them in order to regain his honor. Posing as an official of the Bothan Trade Mission, Melan conducted operations throughout the galaxy, including dealing with the smuggler Dash Rendar on the planet Corellia. He preferred the role of spymaster, rarely venturing into the field and traveled with a cadre of bodyguards.
In 3 ABY, his agents caught wind of a new Imperial military project that could pose a threat to the Alliance. He attempted to contact Leia Organa, but his message was instead intercepted by Luke Skywalker and Dash Rendar. This proved to be a stroke of luck for Melan, since data pertinent to the project would be passing through the Both system on the Mobquet medium transport Suprosa. He enlisted Commander Skywalker to train the Bothan pilots of Blue Squadron, and then, aboard Dash Rendar's ship, the Outrider, participated in the raid on the Suprosa. With the data retrieved, Melan directed Skywalker and Rendar to Kothlis, where a team of Bothan slicers could decipher the data. While Melan's team were working on the retrieval, the Kothlis safehouse was attacked by bounty hunters, and in the ensuing gunfight, Melan was shot and killed. Despite Melan's death, the data was ferried to the Alliance by agents allied to Borsk Fey'lya, and it was eventually discovered to be the plans for the Death Star II.
- "Twenty years ago the Empire executed my father for espionage."
"That's one of the risks of this business, isn't it?"
"Yes, and one I take. But all Bothans are not spies, M. Rendar. My father was a teacher. He was guilty of nothing save trying to educate his students about the Empire."
- ―Koth Melan and Dash Rendar
Koth Melan was a Bothan male of the prominent Clan Alya hailing from the planet Bothawui. His father was a teacher, who disagreed with the Galactic Empire's ideology and attempted to educate his students about the Empire's nature. In 17 BBY, Melan's father was arrested by the Empire, and executed on charges of espionage. The execution was a blow to Melan's honor, and caused him much disgrace. He stopped using the honorific suffix "y'lya" as part of his name, vowing to only honor his clan name once he had helped to cause the downfall of the Empire, and in turn avenge his father's death.
Melan joined the Bothan Spynet; officially, he was an assistant consul general for the Bothan Trade Mission, and was responsible for overseeing Bothan commercial interests throughout the Mid Rim region. His position was an intricately crafted cover which allowed him to travel extensively without arousing suspicion, passing information from operatives and op-fronts to the relevant interested parties and frequently reporting to his superiors on Bothawui and the colony world Kothlis. While his cover was unbroken, Melan made enemies, and always traveled with a cadre of combat trained bodyguards skilled in counter-intelligence and surveillance operations who posed as minor officials and bureaucrats. At some point, he became the head of the entire Spynet.
Melan rarely engaged directly in operations, preferring the role of spymaster. He refused to meet with anyone whom he did not wish to see first, and maintained a series of secure safehouses including one which was known only to Melan and his entourage. When Melan did venture into the field, it was a sign that the information he was collecting was very valuable and important. His chief of security was often employed as a double, and reportedly performed a credible imitation of the spymaster.
Observing the Alliance
- "There are agents of the Empire here on Corellia. We must be careful. In fact, there is one watching us."
- ―Koth Melan
During the Galactic Civil War, Melan began to take a keen interest in the Alliance to Restore the Republic's movements, despite the Bothan Spynet's supposed lack of allegiance to any particular government or organization. When Rebel pilot Ace Azzameen, with the help of his family, stealthily planted a listening device at Comm Center to monitor communications between the Empire and the Azzameen's main commercial rivals, the Viraxo, Melan was highly impressed. The spymaster sent Azzameen an e-mail, applauding his abilities, labeling them "Bothan," and awarded him the Bothan Friendship Award, as well as honorary membership of the Bothan Spynet.
At some point, Melan met with the smuggler Dash Rendar near the Agrilat Swamp Circuit on the planet Corellia. He handed Rendar a datapad with information vital for the Alliance, but noticed that the smuggler was being trailed by an Imperial operative. The operative, in league with the Imperial Security Bureau, was attempting to expose Rendar as a Rebel traitor who was supplying arms and equipment to the Alliance. During the ensuing battle, Melan was wounded and ordered Rendar to flee with the information. The Corellian stopped for a moment, but then made his escape, leaving Melan to surrender to the Imperial. In a few hours, clad in binders, he was transported to Captain Jeffren Brek of the Imperial Security Bureau in the city of Bela Vistal. The datapad, however, found its way into the hands of Alliance member Commander Luke Skywalker when Rendar handed it over to the young Jedi Knight on the planet Tatooine.
Investigating Imperial projects
- "From what little else we've learned of it, this project does not bode well for the Alliance."
- ―Koth Melan
Some time later, Melan had regained his freedom, and returned to Bothawui. He lived at Safehouse Besh on the planet, and was accompanied by several security agents when he traveled. On one occasion, while returning home, his security escort found a foreign object on the hatch leading to Safehouse Besh. Concerned that it was an explosive, two of the agents, SecOps Four and SecOps Seven, investigated while SecOps Five remained with Melan. They found that the attachment was merely a flexiplast flyer for Krazy Khzam's Repulsor Lot, although they did test it for contact poisons, electronic devices and sharp edges. With no danger apparent, Melan entered his home where he instructed SecOps Seven to pour him some Gruvian Tovash.
Melan's operatives bribed a high-ranking Imperial officer and learned that the Empire had began work on a highly-secret construction project, into which vast amounts of money, materiel, and personnel were being diverted. Melan attempted to infiltrate a slicer droid into the main computer complex on the galactic capital, Coruscant, but the effort met with failure. However, the failure brought to light the fact that information pertaining to the project was being stored on special computers with no remote access. To obtain the data, operatives would have to physically get their hands on the computer.
Melan's operatives learned that one of the computers containing data relevant to the project was being transferred from Coruscant to Bothawui. The Empire planned to use the Mobquet medium transport Suprosa to make the transfer, disguising it as a fertilizer barge. By utilizing a low-key craft instead of a massive convoy, Melan believed that they hoped to avoid Alliance attention. While Melan's operatives worked to obtain the vessel's flight plan, he attempted to contact Princess Leia Organa of the Alliance, requesting that she meet him in the Intergalactic Trade Mission on Bothawui. Initially believing her to be on Tatooine, he dispatched an AS-M12-series messenger droid to the planet. However, while his message droid was in transit, he learned that Organa was in fact on the planet Rodia, and that Luke Skywalker and Dash Rendar were the likely ones to receive the message. As expected, Skywalker and his bodyguard arrived on Bothawui, seeking Melan. The Bothan allowed the two into his presence, and explained the situation to the two Humans. Skywalker's presence was a stroke of luck; Melan had enlisted the Bothan BTL-S3 Y-wing starfighter pilots of Blue Squadron to help capture the Suprosa, but they were inexperienced and would benefit from the experience of a veteran in command. Skywalker agreed, and Melan took the two to a hidden mountain base to meet with the squadron. Skywalker led the group in training exercises for several days, preparing them to meet the Suprosa in the Both system. However, the squadron was one pilot short, and Ace Azzameen, the Alliance pilot from the Liberty honored by Melan earlier, was chosen to fill the vacant slot by Skywalker himself based on the Liberty's pilot credits listings.
Raid on the Suprosa
- Luke Skywalker: "If this information is right, how long before we need to launch and get ready?"
- Koth Melan: "Your squad of volunteers has already been put on alert. We'll need to be in position in less than three standard hours to make the rendezvous."
- Skywalker: "'We'?"
- Melan: "I'll be going along. If Dash Rendar has room on his ship?"
- Dash Rendar: "No problem. Can you cook? Might want to grab a bite while we collect this freighter."
- ―Luke Skywalker, Koth Melan, and Dash Rendar[src]
One of Melan's operatives obtained the Suprosa's flight plan from a contact within Black Sun, a large criminal syndicate. The source of the information did not bother the Bothan despite both Skywalker and Rendar's concerns as to its source. Melan believed that Black Sun were backing the Alliance to win the war, and noted that war usually made strange bedfellows. With Melan aboard Dash Rendar's YT-2400 light freighter Outrider, Skywalker led Blue Squadron to one of Bothawui's moons to await the arrival of the Suprosa. As the freighter decanted from hyperspace, Skywalker ordered the Suprosa to surrender, which was met with the claim that the ship was hauling fertilizer. Eventually, the Suprosa attempted to flee, and Skywalker, Rendar, and Blue Squadron engaged the craft, attempting to slow its flight. The freighter unveiled concealed weapons, and battle commenced; two Bothan Y-wings were destroyed by defensive fire, while four craft were eliminated by a single diamond boron missile that Rendar was unable to destroy before it exploded in their midst. Eventually, the Suprosa was disabled, and Rendar boarded first, clearing the Imperial presence before Melan and a group of his operatives retrieved the computer.
Skywalker rendezvoused with them aboard the Outrider, and Melan explained that he would be unable to access the data as it was undoubtedly encrypted and rigged with a self-destruct mechanism. His best slicer team was on Kothlis, a Bothan colony a few light years distant. The group left the Both system for Kothlis, but en route they were pulled out of hyperspace by the Immobilizer 418 cruiser Claw, escorted by the Victory I-class Star Destroyer Hunter. While Skywalker and Rendar engaged the starfighters deployed by the Hunter, Azzameen led the remnants of Blue Squadron against the Claw, collapsing its shields and forcing it to withdraw. With the interdiction field down, the group was free to continue to Kothlis where Rendar dropped Melan and his team off on the Kothlis II space station before departing for Rodia to update Princess Organa on the situation.
Melan met with Skywalker on the surface of Kothlis, escorting him to a safehouse on the outskirts of the city where his team were working on decrypting the computer. The safe house, disguised as a row of storage units and dilapidated offices, was a highly modern installation filled with the latest computer technology. As Melan and Skywalker watched, one of the Bothan slicers found some interesting information in Sector Tarp-Hard-Xenon. Before Melan could find out what the excitement was about, the door to the installation was blown inwards, followed by individuals firing blasters.
Death and legacy
- "G-G-Go! Leave me, get out! […] Idiot! L-L-Leave! […] Luke, thanks. I—"
- ―Koth Melan's dying words
A team of bounty hunters led by the Barabel Skahtul and the Kajain'sa'Nikto Calliose invaded the safehouse, intent on claiming a bounty on Skywalker's head. During the confusion, several of the Bothan slicers were gunned down, while Melan, armed with a hold-out blaster, and Skywalker attempted to hold off the attack. Believing that the attackers were after the computer, he urged Skywalker to retreat further into the complex. One of the slicers pulled the computer from the slicing equipment, and Melan ordered him to run for it while they covered him. The slicer escaped through an unmarked emergency exit just as Melan's blaster ran out of shots. Ordering Skywalker to run, the Jedi was about to when Melan was hit by a blaster bolt. Despite the Bothan's demands to leave him, Skywalker stayed and defended the spymaster. As the wounded Melan lay on the ground, he caught the attention of one of his bodyguards, SecOps Four. SecOps Four, who had been charged with Melan's safety, had failed his duty. However, Melan looked at him not in disappointment, but in hope. SecOps Four understood, and grabbed a case containing stolen Imperial data and fled down the escape corridor. Melan died shortly after, and Skywalker was captured by the bounty hunters.
Skywalker eventually managed to escape from the bounty hunters, and the information ended up in the hands of the Alliance by way of Borsk Fey'lya's group of Bothan spies, despite an attempt by the Empire to retrieve the information, and the Alliance learned the Empire was constructing a second Death Star in orbit of Endor. However, the attack at Kothlis was part of an elaborate ruse perpetrated by Emperor Palpatine, who wanted the Alliance to learn the location of the construction site of the second Death Star so that he could draw them into a trap. Melan's funeral was held on Bothawui; pilots from the Liberty were granted permission to attend but only if they were already on leave at the time.
Personality and traits
- "There's not much to see, I'm afraid. Unless you're an expert in this, the information looks to be pretty much a jumble of numbers and letters."
"What do they mean?"
"Got me. I'm a spymaster. What I know about programming you could inscribe on a microdiode lead with a dull sword."
- ―Koth Melan and Luke Skywalker
Koth Melan was a short brown-furred Bothan with black eyes. A proud individual, he had the utmost faith in the abilities of his Spynet and liked to keep abreast of the movements of important political figures, usually knowing where any one of them was at any given time. Though he lacked technical expertise, he made sure to employ a broad range of sentients with the requisite technical skills. Melan had no qualms with dealing with criminal organizations such as Black Sun, as long as it was all in the pursuit of defeating the Empire.
Melan had a strict adherence to Bothan culture, subjecting himself to the harsh laws of honor. He suffered the consequences of his father's death by styling his name in a fashion foreign to Bothans. Though he stood to gain considerably more by remaining a neutral party in the Galactic Civil War, he hoped his siding with the Alliance would help him in the pursuit of honor. In Bothese, Melan's given name meant "philosophical." His family name translated as "moon," or "night."
An adept spymaster, Melan was well informed and knowledgeable about other alien species, their cultures and languages, and planetary star systems. As the head of a Spynet op-front, and the official assistant consul general of the Bothan Trade Mission, Melan was well versed in bureaucratic protocol for both organizations, as well as Clan Alya itself. The spymaster also knew about general law enforcement procedures, business and the value of items. As part of his duties involved dealing with criminals or fugitives from the law, Melan had contacts in the underworld and was trained in survival techniques.
In his role as a spy, Melan was sometimes required to intimidate, bargain with, persuade or con other individuals into revealing their secrets, skills which he displayed a degree of skill in. He was a shrewd investigator, could be stealthy when the need arose, and was an adept pick pocket and forger. Although he admitted that computer programming and slicing was beyond knowledge range, Melan was trained in general computer programming and skills, as well as droid programming. He could also competently operate communications, security, and sensor systems, and drive repulsorlift vehicles. He was trained in the use of a blaster, and carried a long-barreled hold-out pistol affixed to his waist and right leg. Melan could defend himself in unarmed combat, and apply first aid if needed. He generally carried a datapad and comlink.
Behind the scenes
- "Melan, do you think you'll be able to access the program?"
"No, it'll be encrypted and protected by a self-destruct device. Our best team is on Kothlis, a colony not too far from here. We'll transport it there, and see what we've got."
"Are we apt to run into any more Imperials along the way?"
"Who can say? It is possible…"
- ―Bob Bergen as Luke Skywalker and Denny Delk as Koth Melan
Koth Melan first appeared in the Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire multimedia project, released in 1996, wherein he is a supporting character. He was featured in both the novelization and its junior counterpart, issues three and four of the comic adaptation, and the minicomic which was packaged with selected Shadows of the Empire model kits produced by the Ertl Company. West End Games released the Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook in the same year, which detailed Melan's background and featured him in two short stories; "Safehouse Besh" and "Hand-Off." Melan was featured in reference works tied to the Shadows of the Empire project, including; The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire, released in 1996, which served as a "making of" for the project; several cards in the trading card release; and in 1997's Star Wars: The Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt.
As with many other characters in the Shadows of the Empire trading card series, Greg and Tim Hildebrandt had a live model pose for Koth Melan's action shots. His alien look was based on a mask of Lon Chaney, Jr.'s "Wolf Man" character, and a sketch by Michael Butkus provided by Lucasfilm which was also used in the concurrent Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook.
Melan garnered an entry in 1998's Star Wars Encyclopedia, and was name-checked in the "Who Is That Alien? Bothans & Dressellians" feature in the thirteenth issue of Star Wars Kids. Issue 61 of The Official Star Wars Fact File mentioned Melan in its entry on messenger droids, using an image that was originally of a generic Bothan spy on a card in Decipher, Inc. Special Edition Limited release for the Star Wars Customizable Card Game to represent Melan. This effectively retconned Melan as appearing in the 1998 card expansion.
Melan would later appear in the 1999 video game Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance, which crosses over with the events from Shadows of the Empire. In X-Wing Alliance, he is voiced by Denny Delk, though Delk was simply credited as "Bothan Officer." Melan was later mentioned in the Ultimate Alien Anthology as an example of a Bothan name, and in the Hero's Guide under the entry for the Bothan Spynet. Both were released by Wizards of the Coast in 2003. He was mentioned in Star Wars: The Comics Companion and The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, published in 2006 and 2008 respectively. In 2009, Melan was featured on several cards in the Agents of Deception and The Shadow Syndicate card expansions for the Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game, and featured in the dark side scenario for the latter.
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – The Shadow Syndicate (Dark Side scenario campaign)
- Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- Shadows of the Empire novel (First appearance)
- Shadows of the Empire audio book
- Shadows of the Empire junior novelization
- Shadows of the Empire 3
- Shadows of the Empire 4
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire Ertl minicomic (Appears in hologram)
- (Mentioned only)
- The Secrets of Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire
- Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire trading cards (Card: Luke and Dash's Bothan Mission)
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire trading cards (Card: Dash's Persuasive Charm)
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire trading cards (Card: Attack on the Suprosa)
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire trading cards (Card: Luke and Melan Are Ambushed)
- Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire trading cards (Card: Luke's Taken Prisoner)
- Star Wars: The Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt
- Star Wars Encyclopedia
- "Who Is That Alien? Bothans & Dressellians"—Star Wars Kids 13
- Star Wars Customizable Card Game – Special Edition Limited (Card: Bothan Spy) (as "Bothan Spy") (Retcon)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 61 (MES2, Messenger Droids)
- Ultimate Alien Anthology
- Hero's Guide
- Star Wars: The Comics Companion
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – Agents of Deception (Card: Koth Melan)
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – The Shadow Syndicate (Card: Koth Melan)
- Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – The Shadow Syndicate (Card: Bothan Traitors)
Notes and references
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 Shadows of the Empire novel
- ↑ The Essential Reader's Companion
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Shadows of the Empire comic
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – Agents of Deception (Card: Koth Melan)
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 Shadows of the Empire Sourcebook
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Star Wars Encyclopedia
- ↑ Hero's Guide
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance
- ↑ Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – The Shadow Syndicate (Dark Side scenario campaign)
- ↑ Star Wars Galaxies Trading Card Game – The Shadow Syndicate (Light Side scenario campaign)
- ↑ Star Wars: X-Wing Alliance: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- ↑ Star Wars: Shadows of the Empire video game
- ↑ 14.0 14.1
- ↑ Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi
- ↑ Galactic Campaign Guide
- ↑ Star Wars: The Art of the Brothers Hildebrandt