The theft of the Death Star plans is a tale familiar to existing fans. In many ways, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story was a first for the franchise as it plays like a love letter to expanded universe devotees. For a story that has been told so many times over the decades in various mediums, making a coherent film using existing characters would have been almost impossible. But these five characters could have easily shared screen time with the likes of Cassian Andor and Orson Krennic.
Before there was Jyn Erso, there was Kyle Katarn. The dashing former Imperial stormtrooper gained fame as the player character in the game Star Wars: Dark Forces. In the game’s first level, players blasted their way through a research facility on Danuta. They secure the plans for the DS-1 Orbital Battle Station and transmit them to Princess Leia’s waiting hands. Katarn mixed the bad boy nature of Han Solo with the Force powers of Luke Skywalker, becoming a fan-favorite and going on to headline two video game sequels and his own tie-in comic book.
The closest the Star Wars universe ever came to its own James Bond, Jan Ors began life as an anti-Imperial terrorist before becoming a double agent for the Rebel Alliance. A combination pilot, mechanic, soldier, and spy, Ors was instrumental in acquiring information on Imperial activities and sabotaging their installations. As the undercover operative Jan Strange, she crossed paths with a young Kyle Katarn. She recruited Katarn to the rebel cause and thus began a partnership, and love affair, that would last 30 years.
Rogue One presents the Death Star as the passion project of Imperial Director Orson Krennic. However, the man most associated with the dreaded battle station was a far more colorful character. Lemelisk was a mad scientist in the classical sense — a brilliant architect whose delusions molded him into making some of the most extravagant and terrible Imperial projects the galaxy had ever seen. Working with Tarkin, Lemelisk founded the Maw Installation, an Imperial think tank hidden in a cluster of black holes. The Maw Installation served as the test bed for the Death Star prototype as well as the dreaded Sun Crusher.
Qwi Xux was one of Tarkin and Lemelisk’s star pupils in weapons development and the latest in a long line of aliens that the Empire subjugated. A member of the avian Omwati species, the Empire took Xux from her homeworld as a child. Subjecting her to rigorous mental conditioning, Tarkin hoped to unlock the incredible problem solving and creative potential inherent to the Omwati mind — and used brutal techniques to achieve that end.
The Empire deluded Xux into thinking that they were using her twisted creations as mining equipment. So she became one of the lead designers of the Death Star’s dreaded superlaser and went on to design the Sun Crusher, a ship capable of destroying entire solar systems.
Han Solo and Chewbacca rescued her and placed her under the care and tutelage of Rebel fighter ace Wedge Antilles. There, she gradually learned to respect the life her creations had been made to destroy.
Tarkin was responsible for assembling personnel to develop weapons of mass destruction, but none were more influential than Natasi Daala. The first female Admiral in the Imperial Navy, Tarkin (her lover) entrusted Daala with the command of the four-star destroyers guarding the top secret Maw Installation during and after the development of the Death Star prototype.
After Han Solo and Chewbacca had told her of the Emperor’s death, Daala became a warlord and began a campaign of destruction against the New Republic. Following her defeat, Daala retreated from the public eye for almost 40 years. Her reappearance on the galactic stage coincided with the fall of Han Solo’s eldest son, Jacen, to the dark side. Daala united against the corrupted Jedi and was elected Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance. Her tumultuous relationship with Luke Skywalker and the New Jedi Order ensured that her time in power would be short.