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My Star Wars journey started with the cinematic release of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope in the 1970s. Since then, there have been sequels, prequels, animated series, and a host of Star Wars lore. The background for Luke Skywalker’s debut included a large rebel resistance movement that mushroomed into a Galactic Civil War.
Much of the offscreen action that was taking place during or soon before Luke’s debut has been depicted in Star Wars: Rogue One and Star Wars: Rebels (SWR). You can’t talk about SWR without bringing up Hera Syndulla.
Bottom Line Up Front
Hera Syndulla was a central character in the Star Wars: Rebels animated television series. As a resistance fighter, Hera had to learn everything on the job and use subterfuge to accomplish her missions. She would eventually grow to be one of the best pilots and mechanics in the Rebel Alliance.
Hera Syndulla was a Twi’lek, born on the planet Ryloth. She grew up during the Clone Wars and her father Cham fought against the Confederacy of Independent Systems.
When the Separatist Droid Army invaded Ryloth, her mother Eleni hid her underground. Jedi General Oma Gun Di led a force of clones troopers to sacrifice themselves in order to buy enough time to evacuate the Twi’leks. When the Republic’s Clone Army came to evacuate the Twi’leks, Hera knew that she would grow up to be a pilot. During the battle, a BTL Y-wing starfighter crashed in front of her home. Even though the clone pilot did not survive, Hera managed to salvage the starfighter’s astromech droid. The droid was named C1-10P but Hera referred to it as Chopper.
The Age of Empire
After the defeat of the Separatists, the Galactic Republic became the Galactic Empire. While her father had been a freedom fighter against the Separatists, he had no wish to continue the fight against the Empire. His friend Gobi Gile, however, decided to spy on the Empire and used Hera and Chopper to do it.
Hera was caught by clone troopers but their leader, Captain Howzer, took pity on her and decided not to report the incident. Her father greatly disapproved of Hera’s activities but her mother was more sympathetic.
Hera continued to participate in rebel activities and was again captured. Her parents rescued her but wound up getting themselves arrested in the process. Hera recruited some clone troopers she had met during her rebel activities with Gobi and had them rescue her parents.
Hera’s parents joined the resistance on Ryloth against the Empire, but her mother was eventually killed in the fighting. Her father dedicated himself fully to the Free Ryloth Movement, but Hera decided to take the fight against the Empire all over the galaxy.
The Ghost and the Specters
After Hera assisted the rebels in penetrating an Imperial blockade in order to get vital medicine to Ryloth, Hera created her own rebel cell, the Specters. Her base was The Ghost, a modified VCX-100 light Freighter. In addition to Hera and Chopper, the Specters would eventually include the following:
- Kanan Jarrus, a Jedi knight who had survived the purge of Order-66
- Ezra Bridges, a force-sensitive street urchin who would eventually become Kanan’s Padawan
- Sabine Wren, a Mandalorian warrior
- Gazareb Orrelios (Zeb), a Lasat warrior
The deeds of Specter Cell became legendary. They took down the corrupt Imperial efficiency expert, cyborg Count Vidian, in what became known as the Gorse Conflict. They stole weapons and supplies from the Empire to give to the rebels and the needy. They interacted with pirates and smugglers, including Hondo Ohnaka and Lando Calrissian. They battled the Inquisitors, force sensitives trained to hunt down any surviving Jedi. Finally, they received intel and missions from the high-ranking rebel contact known only as Fulcrum.
Alliance to Restore the Republic
Originally, Hera and her Ghost crew had no intention of being a military unit. They simply wanted to be the Robin Hoods of the galaxy and help needy creatures in any way they could. As the conflict intensified, however, they had to chose a side. Of course, they sided with the rebels.
Rescuing Mon Mothma
When Senator Mon Mothma was being hunted by the Empire, Hera and her Specters managed to rescue her. They linked up with Gold Squadron, a group of Y-wing fighters, and Tavlander shuttle Chandrila Mistress but soon found themselves pursued by two cruisers.
Hera managed to evacuate the crew of the damaged Chandrila Mistress to Ghost before jumping into hyperspace. Still pursued, Hera took the Ghost and the Gold Squadron through Archeon Nebula to eventually lose their pursuers but not without losing three Y-wing fighters to a dogfight with a new type of craft, a TIE Defender.
The rescue of Mon Mothma allowed the senator to publicly resign in order to form an Alliance to Restore the Republic. The Galactic Civil War had officially begun.
Phoenix Cell and Phoenix Leader
When the Specters attempted a daring communications tower sabotage mission on Lothar, Grand Moff Wilhuff decided to deal with the problem personally. After a fierce firefight, the Specters escaped but Kanan was captured.
Fulcrum gave clear orders to Hera not to attempt to free Kanan, but Hera and the Specters naturally disobeyed those orders. Through disguising Chopper as an Imperial droid, they learned that Kanan had been taken to the Mustafar star system.
Through a stolen TIE fighter, the Specters managed to infiltrate Tarkin’s star destroyer Sovereign. After a fight with stormtroopers, they discovered that Kanan had already escaped after a duel with Inquisitor in which the Sovereign had been damaged. They stole some more TIE fighters and escaped only to be met by a fleet of rebel starships. They were ushered into the presence of Senator Bail Organa and the enigmatic Fulcrum, who turned out to be Ahsoka Tano. It became understood that Hera and her Specters were simply one rebel cell in a larger movement to overthrow the Galactic Empire.
Hera received an Alliance officer’s commission as Specter Leader. She and her fellow Specters were assigned to Phoenix Cell fleet and Hera flew Ghost as part of Phoenix Squadron. Hera and the Specters participated in various Phoenix Cell missions including raiding Imperial freighters for fuel supplies and a failed attempt to rescue Imperial defector Minister Tua before the minster was killed in an explosion.
After a devastating battle with Agent Kallus, the rebels lost their Phoenix Leader. Hera managed to find and test a new craft, the Blade Wing. She was able to overcome hyperspace jumping problems by attaching it to another ship, the Phantom. She was able to use this new type of craft to break through an Imperial Blockade. As a result, she was promoted to the rank of Commander and was used to replace the fallen Phoenix Leader by Commander Sato.
When Commander Sato and his CR90 corvette Liberator were captured by an Imperial Interdictor, Hera led a rescue mission. She not only liberated Commander Sato and the Liberator but destroyed the Interdictor and two Imperial light cruisers in the process by having Chopper sabotage the Imperial Interdictor’s gravity well.
Since one of the Ghost crew members, Sabine Wren, was a member of a noble house on Mandalore, Hera found herself continuously embroiled in the politics of the planet’s warrior people.
When the rebels needed safe passage through the Concord Dawn system, Mandalorian territory, Sabine used her connections to prevent a deadly confrontation with Fenn Rau, the leader of the Mandalorian Protectors.
This proved to be a costly decision for Fenn Rau because Gar Saxon, the Imperial Viceroy on Mandalore, decided to brand the Protectors traitors to the Empire and decided to exterminate them. With nothing left to fight for, Fenn Rau joined the rebellion.
When Sabine came into possession of the Darksaber, Rau advised her to begin lightsaber training under Kanan. Kanan had a rigid style of teaching and, at first, Sabine was not making much progress. Hera intervened, however, and advised Kanan to allow for more individuality and creativity in Sabine’s fighting style. As a result, Sabine blossomed. Eventually, Sabine was able to use her newfound skills to overpower Gar Saxon in single combat.
When Sabine needed to rescue her father Saxon’s clan, the Ghost crew was there for her. When Gar Saxon’s brother Tiber came into possession of a powerful new weapon, The Duchess, Sabine and the rest of the Ghost crew helped destroy it.
Stand at Chopper Base
At the beginning of the Galactic Civil War, Hera had her rebel cell fortified at Chopper Base on Atollon, a planet that had strange life-forms including spider creatures. When she received intel from Fulcrum that the base’s location had been discovered by the Empire, she made plans for the worst.
Thrawn’s 7th Fleet used a hyperspace jump to enter the Atollon system. Hera was able to deduce from the holomap that her forces had no chance in a direct battle with the 7th Fleet. She sent her Ghost crew to take Nightbrother to get reinforcements. After heavy losses, the rebels managed to get Nightbrother through the blockade.
Kanan had other ideas, however, and went into the desert to find the mysterious creature Bentu.
Although the rebels were decimated, Nightbrother returned with Mandalorian reinforcements from Clan Wren. It was still not quite enough to turn the tide of battle, however, but then Bentu showed up. Bentu was extremely large, powerful, and angry and this being attacked Imperial forces and rebels alike. Here used the chaos to lead the remaining rebels to escape through hyperspace.
The Lothal Campaign
Hera understood that the TIE/D Defender would give the Imperial pilots too great an advantage against the rebels. She convinced the rebel leaders of her view and Mon Mothma gave her the green light to lead an attack on Lothal. Hera was promoted to General and given command of a squadron of 24 craft: T-65 X-wing starfighters and Y-wing bombers.
In order to attack the TIE/D Defender production facility on Lothal, Hera’s squadron had to get past Grand Admiral Thrawn, She personally engaged. Commander Skerris, one of Thrawn’s best pilots in a dogfight, and killed him by making Skerris crash into Thrawn’s flagship Chimaera.
When Hera’s squadron entered Lothal’s atmosphere, they were attacked by more TIE fighters, and Hera was shot down. Despite defeating Thrawn’s assassin Rukh in hand-to-hand combat, she was stunned by Governor Pryce and captured.
Even though they tortured her, Hera refused to give up any compromising information on the rebels. Kanan Jarrus staged a daring rescue and managed to get her to a stolen gunship where the Ghost’s crew was waiting to pick her up. A fierce battle ensued, however, and Kana Jarrus had to sacrifice himself to save Hera and the others.
Hera was deeply hurt by the loss of Kanan. He was more than a friend and ally. He was her lover. She took some comfort, however, in knowing that the TIE/D factory had been damaged by Kanan to the point that production could no longer continue.
Saving Lothal’s Jedi temple
Hera took her Ghost crew and some Loth wolves on a mission to save the Jedi Temple on Lothal from falling into Imperial hands. Ezra gained some knowledge before Hera and the others made sure that the Temple was submerged underground, depriving the Empire of its powerful secrets.
Liberation of Lothar
Ezra assembled a motley group of allies to help Hera and the crew of Ghost: loth-wolves, clones, and pirates. When the rebels on Lothar were captured by Imperial forces, Hera helped Ezra’s group rescue them. When a battle ensued, Hera shot down several patrol transports.
Although Thrawn fired on Lothar’s Capital City, Hera managed to trick the Grand Admiral into firing on his own troops. The great clone warrior Gregor was slain in the battle.
To prevent Thrawn from taking more civilian lives, Ezra caused a pod of puurgils to attack Thrawn’s fleet, including his flagship Chimaera. Purrgils are huge and have the innate ability to jump into hyperspace. To prevent Thrawn from escaping, Ezra used the power of the Force to trap them both on the Chimaera. When the purrgils jumped into hyperspace, they took both Thrawn and Ezra deep into uncharted space, never to be seen or heard from again by the rebels.
Although the loss of Ezra, in addition to Kanan, added to her grief, Hera was comforted by the birth of a son she conceived with Kanan, Jacen Jarrus. Jacen appeared mostly human, but had the green coloration of his mother, Hera.
Galactic Civil War
Once the rebellion ignited into a full-fledged civil war, the rebels had to reorganize. Consequently, they decided to employ Hera on a grander scale.
Assembling a fleet
Alliance High Command conducted a meeting at the Mak-Ta Space Docks at which Hera and Zeb attended. The decision was made to send a rebel force to Mako-Ta to rescue King Lee-Char of the Mon Calamari from the Empire in order to inspire his people to rebel. Hera was given command of the cruiser Geist and other ships within Gamma Group.
The Battle of the Mako-Ta Docks
Unfortunately, the battle turned into an ambush led by Darth Vader himself, his Death Squadron, and his flagship Executor. Although Hera escaped, many ships were destroyed, and Gamma Group commander Jan Dodanna was killed. Hera used reinforcements from Clan Amrkona to rebuild the scattered rebel fleet.
The Battle of Endor
Hera participated in some skirmishes against TIE fighters over Endor and even had some Ewoks man the Ghost’s gun turrets.
The New Republic
After the Battle of Endor and the end of the Galactic Empire, Hera served as a general in the New Republic. As a general, she the Barma Battle Group in her flagship Lodestar. Barma Battle Group captured Treinhaus Citadel and hosted both Alphabet Squadron and Vanguard Squadron.
Hera also coached Alphabet Squadron’s leader Yrica Quell on how to better manage her squadron. Quell was a former TIE fighter pilot and had a rigid style of command with Imperial expectations of her pilots. Hera advised a more flexible style that allowed for improvisation and her advice paid off.
At the Battle of Jakku, Hera commanded another battle group consisting of the following:
- 1 Star Destroyer, her flagship Deliverance
- 2 corvettes
- Several transports
The Clone Wars
- Hera witnesses her people being rescued by clone warriors and decides that she wants to be a pilot.
The Age of Empire
- Twi’lek resistance and Uncle Gobi
- Clones rescue parents
- Death of mother Eleni
- Gorse conflict
- Senator Bail Organa meets with Hera and inducts Specter Cell into the Rebel Alliance.
- Phoenix Cell absorbs Specter Cell, and Hera eventually becomes Phoenix Leader.
- Hera founds Chopper Base on Atollon but the base is eventually destroyed.
- Massassi Group on Yavin 4 promotes Hera and deploys the Specters on more important missions.
- Hera leads the Lothar Campaign in order to destroy the production of the TIE Defender craft and liberate Lothar.
- Death of Kanan Jarras
- Sacrifice of Ezra Bridges and the final defeat of Thrawn
- Birth of Jacen Jarras
The Galactic Civil War
- Hera Syndulla participate in the Battle of Mako-Ta Docks and commanded the cruiser Geist
- Hera participated in the Battle of Endor and destroyed TIE fighters while piloting Ghost
The New Republic
- Hera Syndulla became a general in the New Republic
- Hera commanded Barma Battle Group
- Hera mentored the commander of Alphabet Squadron
- Hera fought in the Battle of Jakku and commands a second battle group
“There’s enough darkness in the galaxy right now. Let me know if you want to spread a little light.“
―Hera Syndulla From Star Wars Books, Outer Rim
“Flying is…it’s about a feeling.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I close my eyes and picture myself up there, I feel it. The instruments help guide you, but you plot your course. You’re free.”
“So you’re a pilot?”
“No. Not yet. But one day.“
―Hera Syndulla and Omega
“If we need to fight, I am as capable as anyone. Gobi trusts me to do my part. Why can’t you?“
“[chuckles] That fiery spirit. You remind me of myself at your age. But I want more for you, Hera. Fighting…it takes a toll. My hope is that you won’t ever have to live a life like mine.“
―Hera Syndulla and her father, Cham
“When you and I started together, it was “rob from the Empire, give to the needy.” A noble cause. Now we’re getting drawn into some kind of military thing. I don’t like it.“
“We are fighting a bigger fight, but it’s still the right fight.
“They’re not trying to make a difference. They’re just trying to strike back.“
“And I understand that. But if people who have a beef with the Empire act solely in their own interests, it won’t do anybody else any good. In fact, it might make it harder for any kind of real rebellion flower.“
―Kanan and Hera discussing strategies to fight the Empire
“I know the odds are against our attack’s success. But if that fighter goes into production, our squadrons will not stand a chance. I believe it’s a risk worth taking. And whether we fail or succeed, at least our actions will show the Empire and the galaxy that we will not stand down, that we will not be broken by fear, that we are strong, united by our courage.“
“That was one of your better crashes.“
“Kanan Jarrus, you know I never crash. I have very—“
“Very exciting landings. Thanks for reminding me.“
―Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla
“This thing hasn’t flown in years!“
“You’ve got to talk to it right.“
“I thought I was a good pilot. But you—you’re amazing.“
―Kanan Jarrus and Hera Syndulla
“Kanan, I know what to say now. I love you.“
“Must be the truth serum talking.“
“No. It’s me. All me.“
―Hera Syndulla and Kanan Jarrus
Question: What is a Twi’lek?
Answer: Hera Syndulla is a Twi’lek. Their species is common throughout the galaxy, and they are similar to humans. What makes them differ, however, is their “head-tails.” Called “lekku,” these long appendages that protrude from the backs of their skulls. They also come in different skin colors: white, orange, yellow, green, pink, blue, purple, black, grey, and red.
Question: How did Hera become such a good pilot?
Answer: Hera had the good fortune of discovering her life’s purpose at an early age thanks to the heroism of the clones and Jedi who sacrificed themselves to save her people. That determination made her an apt learner. As a rebel, she couldn’t learn things the traditional way. She had to constantly acquire spacecraft, equipment, and supplies by various means, often by theft from the Empire. She has to repurpose vessels and tools to suit whatever was needed at the moment. In contract to the austere Jarrus, Hera was an out-of-the-box thinker. Her unorthodox approach had a profound influence on the rigid philosophy of Jarrus and some of the more conventional rebel pilots.
Question: How did Hera get her name?
Answer: Hera’s name is taken from Greek mythology. The original Hera was Queen of the Gods, wife to Zeus, and mother to other gods and goddesses. She was the protector of homes and families as well as the goddess of women, childbirth, and marriage. Like the Greek Hera, the Twi’lek Hera is also a protector of homes and families.
Hera’s values could be summed up in one word, family. She was loyal to her parents and “Uncle” Gobi. When her family was shattered by the death of her mother, Hera created her own surrogate family among the Specters. She empathized with other souls like Ezra and Sabine and did everything within her power to help them rescue their families. Out of her surrogate family, Jacen Jarrus was born.
In contrast to the stern warriors that often surrounded her, Hera was more of a free thinker. Despite all of the death and destruction that surrounded her, she never lost her optimism. Eventually, the Empire’s tyranny was defeated because so many people like Hera refused to give up hope.
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