A recent episode of the Mandalorian brings up Operation Cinder, the Empire’s most evil action.
The Mandalorian S2E7: The Believer gave us a tense conversation between a recently sprung Din, Mayfeld, and his former Imperial officer involving Operation Cinder. Things got bad and gunplay and adventure ensued, so let’s take a moment to talk about exactly what had Mayfeld so fired up.
Like most terrible tragedies in Star Wars, it all comes back to the Emperor. Operation: Cinder was a posthumous revenge of the Sith–Emperor Palpatine’s though, not the Sith in general. It was Palpatine’s backup plan in case he should ever perish unexpectedly–being a Sith Lord will instill that kind of paranoia. And as the ultimate player of “the long game” Emperor Palpatine hatched schemes in the event of his death.
Specifically to punish the Empire if they were unable to prevent his untimely demise. Palpatine entrusted Gallius Rax, his Protege, with carrying out a series of secret operations in case the Empire should ever fall. This plan, called the Contingency, would ultimately call for the destruction of the Empire and its enemies, in the attempts to cull the weak, failed elements of the Empire and whosoever its enemies were, while also allowing a select group of Imperialists to survive in the Unknown Regions where it could be reborn.
Operation Cinder was the first part of this plan.
“Operation: Cinder is the last command of our Emperor, and the first step in securing our future.“―Admiral Garrick Versio to his daughter, Commander Iden Versio
The “final command” of Emperor Palpatine (for a guy that died, he sure gives a lot of final commands), the Commander of the Inferno Squad, the Imperial Commando team that brought about the end of the Dreamers (would-be rebels following in the wake of Saw Guerrera), gathered together her forces and received their orders from a Messenger droid carrying the Emperor’s last command: protect experimental satellites being transported from Fondor. Inferno Squad did, and the satellites were delivered and deployed on the planet Vardos.
Vardos, it’s worth pointing out, is the homeworld of Inferno Squad Commander Iden Versatio and her father, Admiral Garric Versio. Upon completion of Inferno Squad’s operation, an irate Iden confronted her father on the bridge of the Star Destroyer Eviscerator, having discovered that their own homeworld was targeted by Operation: Cinder in spite of their loyalty. Admiral Versio, believing that many worlds had to be sacrificed in order to prove that the Empire was still in control, ignored her pleas and ordered the satellites activated, revealing their true nature.
These satellites caused massive electrical storms in the planets atmosphere, laying waste to the planet’s surface, while anti-air batteries shot down any non-Imperial ships attempting to leave.
Vardos was far from the only world ravaged by Operation: Cinder. Another messenger droid relayed a command to Captain Lerr Duvat, who deployed the same climate disruption satellites around Naboo. The planet was devastated by storms, fires, flooding, and more–only a desperate action of N-1 Starfighters were able to disrupt the satellites long enough for General Lando Calrissian to arrive with a Rebel fleet to try and save Naboo.
Inferno Squad had defected, and their intelligence proved crucial in saving Naboo from utter destruction, but the damage had already been done.
Burnin Konn–a world blockaded by an Imperial Fleet in an attempt to maintain the illusion that Palpatine’s death was all a lie, and the Emperor still in control–even Burnin Konn was not spared. Three months after the Battle of Endor, an entire division, led by Valin Hess, waded through the streets to raze the civilian populations to the ground.
Still more worlds were targeted in Operation: Cinder. Candovant, Abednedo, Commenor, Nacronis, and Senthrodys were all devastated by the Imperial Operations, though the Republic forces were able to intervene and save lives where they could. In the aftermath of the Operation, the ground was laid for the final phase of the Contingency, which called for the evacuation of Imperial survivors to Unknown Regions, where they became the First Order.
And now you know.
May the Force Be With You