star wars geonosis

The Geonosis Connection

We know from the Rogue One trailers that key components of the Death Star are built on the Imperial Construction Yards on the paradise planet of Scarif. But the actual shell of battle station is constructed in the orbit of Geonosis, the desolate desert plant where the Clone Wars actually began (see: the final 45 minutes of Attack of the Clones). This is where James Luceno has to work with (and around) material that is directly depicted in the prequel trilogy, as that film depicts a Geonosian leader showing off plans for the Death Star to Count Dooku.

So here’s the quick version. The Geonosians, a bug-like race who view life as meaningless and kill each other at the drop of a hat, are master builders, having constructed the bulk of the Separatists’ droid army in their factories. They also designed a powerful battle station, but those plans were captured by the Republic, who decide that he only way to keep the Separatists from building this monstrosity is to build their own. Naturally, this was Palpatine’s plan all along, not that anyone in Catalyst ever actually realizes this.

So portions of Catalyst take place in and around Geonosis, with Orson Krennic dealing with worker disputes (i.e., the Geonosian drones murdering each other by the thousands on the job) and treachery from the planet’s archduke, who is let out of prison under the condition that he serve the Republic and ends up ordering his people to sabotage the project. It’s no wonder that the Death Star isn’t even close to being done when the book is over – building it over Geonosis turns out to be a massive inconvenience.

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Kyber Crystals

When we first meet Galen on Vallt, he’s conducting his energy research using synthesized kyber crystals supplied by the Zerpen corporation. Real kyber crystals are hard to come by, as the Jedi Order uses them to power their lightsabers and adorn their temples, claiming that they harness the Force and should be used only be used by those who understand them. Naturally, the pragmatic Galen sees this as a silly roadblock to his research (although his more spiritual wife has a difference of opinion).

About halfway through Catalyst, the Clone Wars come to an end, the Empire is created, Palpatine initiates Order 66, and Jedi Knights across the galaxy are wiped out in the blink of an eye. Suddenly, Galen has access to all of the kyber crystals he needs, from the tiny versions found in the hilts of lightsabers to the boulder-sized crystals taken from temples. Galen, who is now working from a research facility built specifically for his work on Corsucant, is able to overlook the fact that that he’s working with the tools of men and women executed by the Empire. Lyra, not so much.

Eventually, Galen has a breakthrough and learns how a kyber crystal can tap into “untamable” power. The only issue, he tells Krennic, is containment. Of course, Krennic is less concerned about that since he wants to unleash that power, not use it power homes and cities. Without Galen’s knowledge, Krennic has a separate team replicate his research elsewhere, building a prototype weapon.

While Catalyst doesn’t dwell on it too much, it is heavily suggested that Galen’s attempt to science his way into these mystical crystals taps into the Dark Side of the Force. This means the destructive energy of the kyber crystal, the Death Star superlaser that can blow up an entire planet, is literally powered by evil.

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Lyra Erso

While Galen spends the bulk of Catalyst immersed in his research and failing to notice that he’s being manipulated, his wife, Lyra, gets to act as his conscience. Despite her background as a scientist and geographical surveyor, she has a spiritual side and believes that “only the Force is perfect,” deriving great pleasure from exploring and experiencing the natural world. Like her husband, she tends to avoid conflict. Unlike her husband, she has a nose for bullshit and doesn’t trust Krennic much from the moment they meet.

Lyra’s role in the story is fairly obvious at times – she has to yank Galen out of the fire, expose him to the conspiracy he’s been pulled into, and convince him that his research is being weaponized. However, she plays a more subtle role that actually has a massive effect on the entire Star Wars saga. While surveying a planet for kyber crystals (actually part of a plot by Krennic to pull her away from Galen), she befriends a Dressellian pilot named Has Obitt and helps him learn to connect with the Force. In the short term, he supplies her with vital information about Krennic’s plans. In the long term…we’ll get there.

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How Do you Build a Death Star?

If you want to construct a battle station the size and shape of a small moon, you’re going need a lot of raw materials. Since the Empire is young and still solidifying its grip in the galaxy, Krennic and his allies need an excuse to plunder innocent planets for their natural resources. Enter Has Obitt, a pilot and smuggler on Krennic’s payroll who has been coerced and duped into his fair share of horrible, galaxy-scarring situations in the name of progress!

It’s a fairly simple con job: Has picks up a bunch of confiscated Separatist weapons from an Imperial storage depot, transports them to a planet rich in materials necessary to build the Death Star, and the Empire invades the planet because they’ve been “buying” illegal goods, overthrowing the local government and strip-mining the planet until it’s a barren wasteland. Long before it was blowing up planets, the Death Star was destroying entire worlds.

And this is before you get to one of Krennic’s early attempts to weaponize Galen’s energy research, which resulted in the complete destruction of a facility… and the death of tens of thousands of citizens in a neighboring city.

Continue Reading Everything You Need to Know About Star Wars Catalyst >>

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