Origins of Rebellion: Ryloth, Onderon, and Mon Cala

Greetings organics and welcome to the Sarlacc Pit. This week I am going to discuss three different story arcs from “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and how they helped set the stage for the Galactic Civil War decades before the Rebel Alliance was formed. To do this I will look at three different planets” Ryloth, Onderon, and Mon Cala, and discuss how they were impacted by the Clone Wars and how the struggles experienced by these planets helped to form the Rebel Alliance. While I only plan to briefly cover each planet’s history, this post will contain spoilers for “Star Wars: The Clone Wars,” so read at your own risk!

Ryloth

“For a free Ryloth!” – Cham Syndulla, Star Wars: Lords of the Sith

ryloth-history-2_a19d8eee
Led by Cham Syndulla, the native Twi’leks battled alongside clone troopers to rid their homeworld of the Separatist droid army.

Although I went into a much more in depth discussion on Ryloth in a previous post (see #FreeRyloth), this planet’s struggle did much to shape the Rebel Alliance during the Galactic Civil War (which I will abbreviate to G.C.W. for the rest of this post). Leading up to the Clone Wars, Count Dooku had sewn the seeds of political dissent, using the Senate’s corruption (displayed abundantly by Ryloth’s own representative, Orn Free Taa) as a reason for the Twi’lek people to leave the Republic and join the Separatists. Led by Cham Syndulla, the Twi’leks instead desired to become an independent system. Desiring the planet’s Ryll resources for the droid army, the Separatists invaded Ryloth (relatively easily as Ryloth was an Outer Rim planet, far away from the capitol planet and the bulk of the Grand Army of the Republic). Reluctantly, Cham Syndulla called in help from the Republic, who, led by Mace Windu, assisted in ridding the planet of the droid army.

Ryloth’s fight for freedom did not end with the Clone Wars. When the Republic changed into the Galactic Empire, Ryloth was classified as an “Imperial Protectorate,” implying freedom, but only on paper. In reality the natives were enslaved and the planet scourged for its Ryll for use in the Imperial war machine. Cham Syndulla’s fight also did not end there, as he formed a group of freedom fighters (or terrorists) called the Free Ryloth Movement. This organization did all they could to hamper Imperial efforts on Ryloth, and cared little for the galaxy that seemed to care so little for their struggles.

So how did the struggle of an Outer Rim planet impact the G.C.W. years later? Since Twi-leks were used as slaves fairly regularly, the species from Ryloth had spread across the galaxy.If these slaves were ever able to gain freedom from their masters, they often joined the Rebel Alliance, willing to fight for not only their own freedom, but the freedom of others. A lifetime of suffering under various forms of oppression, as well as Twi’lek’s natural physical prowess, made these freed slaves a force to be reckoned with in a fight. Also, after leaving the Free Ryloth Movement, Cham Syndulla’s daughter, Hera, went on to start a rebel cell on Lothal, and eventually led the fledgling Rebel Alliance’s Phoenix Squadron. The Free Ryloth Movement, while originally only unconcerned with the problems of the galaxy, even eventually began to assist the Rebel Alliance, sending members to assist with the Alliance’s missions as they were needed. Note: while talking about #FreeRyloth, I would like to let readers know that with Season 3 of “Rebels” promising scenes with Cham Syndulla, and Star Wars: Aftermath: Life Debt containing information on the status of the Free Ryloth Movement at the end of the G.C.W., I am planning to have an upcoming update post on the end of the Free Ryloth Movement at some point in the near future!

Onderon

“I’m not a terrorist. I’m a patriot. And resistance is not terrorism.” – Saw Gerrera, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

Onderon Rebels
Led by Steela Gerrera (left) and her brother Saw (middle), the Onderon Rebels were a militia formed to reinstate King Ramsis Dendup.

Just before the Clone Wars, Onderon’s king, Sanjay Rash, allied Onderon with the Confederacy of Independent Systems. Many Onderonians, however, refused to acknowledge Rash as Onderon’s monarch, and desired to reinstate the former Kind Ramsis Dendup, who was dethroned by the invading Separatist droid army. Because Onderon was a sovereign planet which had “legitimately” aligned with the C.I.S., the Jedi Order could not officially intervene. However, the Order covertly sent Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, Jedi Knight Anakin Skywalker, Padawan Ahsoka Tano, and Clone Captain Rex with supplies to train and arm the Onderon Rebels. The rebel group ended up successfully reinstating King Ramsis after multiple skirmishes and battles against the droid army in which the group employed guerrilla tactics, stole C.I.S. technology and vehicles, and took out power supplies, all skills taught by the Jedi and clone captain. Unfortunately, the group’s leader, Steela Gerrera, died toward the end of the final battle for Onderon.

Onderon later played important roles in the G.C.W. Once the Republic morphed into the Galactic Empire, rebel cells formed in different systems across the galaxy. One of these cells formed on Onderon, led by Steela’s brother, Saw. Saw was notorious, even decades after the end of the G.C.W., for being particularly ruthless compared to the rest of the Rebel Alliance, even being actually called out as a terrorist by New Republic Senators. Although I cannot be sure what the extent of his involvement was at this point, it does seem that he was involved in the Rebel mission to steal the plans to the original Death Star, as he will appear in “Star Wars: Rogue One.”

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story(Forest Whitaker) Ph: Film Frame ©Lucasfilm LFL
It appears that the years after the Clone Wars took their toll on Saw Gerrera.

Mon Calamari

“Soldiers of Mon Calamari: this is your home! Do not let it fall!” – Captain Gial Ackbar, “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”

Battle of Mon Calamari
The Battle of Mon Calamari was fought between the two native species of the planet after the Quarren refused to accept the coronation of Prince Lee-Char.

Mon Calamari (also known as Mon Cala or Dac), was inhabited by two species, the Mon Calamari and the Quarren. The species lived in peace for years under the rule of a Mon Calamari king. This was until King Yos Kolina was murdered during the Clone Wars and his son, Prince Lee-Char was to be crowned. The Quarren species (urged by Count Dooku) refused to accept Lee-Char’s rule, and civil war broke out across the planet. The Mon Calamari were supported by the Grand Army of the Republic, the Jedi Order, and even the Gungan Grand Army while the Quarren were supported by the Confederacy of Independent Systems led by Commander Riff Tamson.

Riff Tamson
This is Riff Tamson, galactic Marco Polo champion.

The Battle of Mon Calamari came to an end when Tamson, after capturing Lee-Char declared himself ruler of Mon Calamari, prompting the Quarren to rise against him and the droid army. Joining with the Mon Calamari, Grand Army of the Republic, Jedi Order, and Gungan Grand Army, the Quarren assisted in repelling the Separatists, ultimately accepting the rule of King Lee-Char.

The Battle of Mon Calamari is probably one of the most important battles in terms of its affect on the G.C.W. The Mon Calamari, an inherently peaceful species, were still very strong warriors, and built some of the best battleships in the galaxy. When the Galactic Empire was formed, the Mon Calamari were one of the most important allies to the Rebel Alliance, supply the Rebellion with their most powerful flagships. Furthermore, heroes of the Battle of Mon Calamari, including Captain of the Royal Guard Gial Ackbar joined the Rebellion as military leaders. Quarren also fought in the Rebel Alliance, still aligned with their homeworld.

Mon Calamari Rebels
Admiral Ackbar, former Captain of the Mon Calamari Royal Guard and professional trap detector.

Fun fact: Mon Calamari cruisers, being built primarily for an aquatic species, was extremely humid, to the point that it was pretty uncomfortable for terrestrial species such as humans to spend long periods of time in one.

Conclusion

None of this speaks of individuals such as Bail Organa and Mon Mothma whose political involvement beginning during the Clone Wars shaped the policies and coherent goals of the Rebel Alliance. However, the Clone Wars served to shape heroes of the G.C.W. such as Cham Syndulla, Saw Gerrera, and Admiral Ackbar into soldiers and officers with the experience to fight for the freedom of themselves and others. There are plenty of other examples of how the Clone Wars shaped the G.C.W., but these three stick out to me, especially with novels continuing to mention Ryloth’s struggle for freedom, the resurgence of Saw Gerrera in the upcoming “Rogue One” movie, and Gial Ackbar’s return to action in “The Force Awakens.” It seems that in the Star Wars universe, heroes don’t stop fighting when their war ends, but rather continue to fight against oppression and darkness whenever they make themselves appear.

While this week’s post may seem to be all over the place, next week’s post will be all about one of the most popular vehicles in the Star Wars universe: the X-wing. I will talk all about the origins of this ship with the Clone Wars era ARC-170 through the Resistance’s T-70 X-wing starfighters. Thank you for reading, and may the Force be with you!

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