(Note: This post contains spoilers for the video game “Star Wars: Battlefront II.”)
“Star Wars” fans are waiting as patiently as possible for December to roll around, because that’s when they’ll finally get to find out what the deal is with Luke Skywalker.
We’ll finally get to see “The Last Jedi” and discover what drove Luke to bail on his friends and the New Republic after his apprentice, Kylo Ren, fell to the dark side of the Force. “The Last Jedi” might fill in some other gaps, too. Like what the First Order, the new “Star Wars” trilogy’s Empire, is really up to.
But for fans who can’t wait that long, there’s another “Star Wars” story that’s not a novel or a comic book. “Star Wars: Battlefront II,” a video game in which players take part in some of the biggest battles in the “Star Wars” films as soldiers in the two opposing armies, also includes an original story that’s set between “Return of the Jedi” and “The Force Awakens.” It gives something of a window into what happened in the aftermath of the destruction of the Death Star, and the final months of the war with the Empire.
“Battlefront II” follows Inferno Squad, a crack team of Imperial commandos, led by Iden Versio, the daughter of an Imperial admiral. The game more or less starts with the destruction of the Death Star. The remnants of the Imperial fleet flee the battle, and as they’re leaving, Admiral Versio calls Iden to his ship to receive new orders. A recording left by Emperor Palpatine tells the fleet what to do in case of his death — a series of objectives known as Operation: Cinder.
Iden and her squad don’t know what Operation: Cinder is, but they set out to execute parts of it. First, they help secure several special satellites at a shipyard, fighting off a Rebel attack in the process. Inferno Squad doesn’t know what the satellites are for, but they help keep the Rebels at bay long enough so the ship transporting the satellites, an Imperial Star Destroyer called the Dauntless, can get away.
Next, Iden dispatches Del Meeko, one of her Inferno Squad teammates, to a planet called Pillio, to destroy a classified observatory the Emperor had there. Inside are “artifacts” the Empire doesn’t want falling into Rebel hands. While he’s there, though, Del encounters Luke Skywalker. Rather than kill him, Luke saves Del’s life, and the two work together to get into the observatory. When Luke finds what drew him to the location through the Force — an artifact he calls a “compass” — he asks Del to let him have it. Del, already conflicted about the Empire at this point, lets Luke go and the compass go, and destroys the facility.
Inferno Squad then gets dispatched to Vardos, Iden and her father’s home planet and an Imperial stronghold. As they arrive, Iden sees that the special satellites have been deployed in orbit over the planet, creating deadly storms all over it. Apparently, Operation: Cinder’s goal was to destroy a few planets, even Imperial ones, in order to strike fear into the galaxy and help the Empire reestablish control through terror.
Iden isn’t exactly thrilled that the Empire is attacking its own planet or killing civilians, though. On her mission to retrieve her mentor, an alien named Protectorate Gleb, from Vardos, Iden and Del defy orders by helping civilians escape the planet. The third member of Inferno Squad, Agent Hask, turns against the other two and their defiance of Imperial will. Iden and Del are branded traitors as they escape the planet aboard their ship, the Corvus, and Hask returns Gleb to Admiral Versio’s hands.
With nowhere else to go, Iden, Del and the crew of the Corvus defect to the Rebellion. They eventually enlist, helping to stop the Empire from using its Cinder satellites against Naboo, Emperor Palpatine’s home planet. The Rebels manage to destroy the Cinder satellites and repel the Imperial attack on the ground, saving the planet and everyone on it.
The war finally comes to a head over Jakku in a battle “Star Wars” fans have heard about before — it’s the reason why all that starship wreckage that Rey forages through in “The Force Awakens” ended up on the surface of the planet. Iden and the new Rebel Inferno Squad are a major part of the battle. The Imperial remnant is defeated, but despite her best efforts, Iden can’t convince Admiral Versio to abandon the Empire and save himself as his ship is destroyed. Iden manages to escape the ship, and there’s a suggestion that she and Del start a relationship together as the Battle of Jakku ends.
“Star Wars: Battlefront II” then skips ahead 30 years in an epilogue scene that takes place sometime closer to “The Force Awakens.” In it, the First Order and Kylo Ren have located Del Meeko. Using his Force powers, Kylo Ren delves into Del’s mind in search of information about Luke Skywalker from when Del encountered him years before — suggesting the compass has something to do with the map to Skywalker Kylo is searching for in “The Force Awakens.” Kylo also learns that Del was a father, but doesn’t say who his daughter was, or whether her mother was Iden Versio, who isn’t in the scene.
When he finally gets the information he needs, Kylo kills Del. Hask, the former member of Iden’s Inferno Squad and now a First Order officer, to bury the body but leave the ship — ostensibly to lure Iden out of hiding.
Kylo also takes Protectorate Gleb into First Order custody in the epilogue, and mentions something called “Operation: Resurrection.” As noted earlier in the game, Gleb trained Imperial officers and turned them into high-caliber leadership in the Empire before its fall.
It sounds like the First Order’s plans, then, might have something to do with recreating Imperial leadership. The epilogue scene also suggests that Emperor Palpatine’s plans for after his own death aren’t complete, and the First Order might still be carrying them out. There’s not much to go on, but it seems “Star Wars: Battlefront II” might be giving a few clues about both what the First Order is planning and what Luke Skywalker got up to, in addition to showing some of how the Empire finally fell in the wake of “Return of the Jedi.”