|Chronological and political information|
Don't fail me again…Admiral.—Darth Vader, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Firmus Piett was the last admiral of the Imperial Navy's Death Squadron, Darth Vader's personal fleet of Star Destroyers. Coming from humble beginnings on the backwater Outer Rim world of Axxila, Piett began his naval career with the Axxila antipirate fleet. Though his posting was not notable, Piett's creativity and dedication made his home sector the safest in the Outer Rim. His ascension through the ranks, however, was not so much a tribute to his dedication, but his ability to shift blame onto others when mistakes were made. With an extraordinary number of arrests and suppressions to his name, as well as what appeared to be a perfectly clean record, Piett earned the attention of high-ranking officers on Imperial Center.
Transferred to the Imperial Navy, Piett was picked out to serve in Vader's Death Squadron, which prowled the galaxy searching for Rebel Alliance headquarters. Given the captaincy of the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Accuser, Piett served diligently until the command of the fleet's flagship, the Star Dreadnought Executor, was vacant. As captain of the Executor, Piett relentlessly searched for the hidden Alliance base while secretly undermining his superior, Admiral Kendal Ozzel. At the Battle of Hoth, Ozzel was summarily executed by Vader for incompetence, allowing Piett to swiftly step into the admiral's role.
Though he was criticized for his swift ascent to the top of the command chain, Piett set himself about his task with enthusiasm, though he feared that he would meet the same fate as Ozzel. He made several potentially fatal blunders soon after his promotion but was able to shift blame as he had done in the past. Following the failed capture of Luke Skywalker at Bespin, the Executor was taken back to Imperial Center, leaving Piett to command the Accuser once more. In 4 ABY, though, Piett was once again on the bridge of the Star Dreadnought, commanding the Imperial fleet in the Battle of Endor. Piett perished in the battle when an RZ-1 A-wing interceptor piloted by Arvel Crynyd rammed into the Executor's bridge.
Firmus Piett was born on the Outer Rim Territories ecumenopolis of Axxila during the late Republic Classic era. Shortly following the Declaration of a New Order and the ensuing Imperialization of the galaxy, Piett began his naval career, serving with the Axxila antipirate fleet. Due to the fact that he had no connections with the Core Worlds, Piett was mired by his background and forced to work in his native sector, the Ciutric Hegemony. Despite this, Piett soon rose in the ranks and was given command of the antipirate fleet, making the Ciutric Hegemony one of the safest sectors in the Outer Rim. Piett's record with the fleet was flawless, and he made a tremendous amount of "arrests and suppressions." Soon enough, Piett's reputation reached the Core Worlds, as he received various commendations, reaching the rank of lieutenant by the age of 26.
Captaincy of the AccuserEdit
Since the Rebel uprising, neutrality is an act of insolence! A punishable act.—Firmus Piett, Deadly Reunion
Piett was singled out by the Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet, Lord Darth Vader, who selected the Axxilan to serve with Death Squadron, his personal fleet of Star Destroyers. As captain of the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Accuser, Piett served under the fleet leadership of Admiral Amise Griff, who commanded from Vader's flagship, the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Executor. Several months after the Battle of Yavin, Piett came across the planet of Kabal, which was claiming neutrality in the Galactic Civil War. Since the Empire considered neutrality insolent, the captain had the Accuser attack Kabal. Among the craft fleeing from the planet was the Millennium Falcon, a ship with known Alliance connections. Piett's fighters pursued the Rebel craft, until it entered the general vicinity of a collapsed dwarf star. Not willing to risk his ships near such an unstable entity, Piett had the fighters return to the Accuser.
Piett would make several trips to the flagship on occasion. At some stage, he was working to hunt down Imperial turncoat Nox Vellam, who was reportedly hiding near the Aldo Spachian comet. On approach to the Rebel base at Yavin 4, Piett was on board the Executor once again when it fell under attack from Rebel pilot Vrad Dodonna. Seeking to curry favor with the Dark Lord, Piett personally congratulated Vader when Dodonna's attack failed. Dodonna would later perish when he attempted to ram the Executor. During the Evacuation of Yavin, in which the forces of the Galactic Empire drove the Alliance to Restore the Republic out of their hidden fortress, Admiral Griff perished in an accidental collision. With the position of Death Squadron's admiral filled by Captain Kendal Ozzel, Piett was given command of the Executor.
Captaincy of the ExecutorEdit
- Firmus Piett: "I think we've got something, sir. The report is only a fragment from a probe droid in the Hoth system, but it's the best lead we've had."
- Kendal Ozzel: "We have thousands of probe droids searching the galaxy. I want proof, not leads!"
- ―Firmus Piett and Kendal Ozzel[src]
For several years, Piett and his crew searched for the new Alliance base following the rout at Yavin. The bulk of the Rebels were able to escape capture or death during that battle, and had established a new base of operations somewhere in the galaxy. As captain, Piett personally oversaw the ship's staffing, handpicking officers such as future-Commander Gherant. Piett began to learn the workings of Death Squadron's chain of command and had heard about Vader's execution of unsatisfactory officers. The captain swore to himself that he would not fall prey to the Dark Lord's wrath by making a simple blunder. It was generally perceived that Admiral Ozzel had as much power over the fleet as Vader did, but Piett knew better and took to studying his superior officer, so as to capitalize on the admiral's blunders. In doing so, he earned Ozzel's ire, but found a way he could ascend in rank.
Vader, in the years following the Battle of Yavin, learned that the man who had destroyed the first Death Star was in fact Luke Skywalker, his son. In the hopes of converting Skywalker to the dark side of the Force, Vader became obsessed with tracking down the young Rebel, devoting much of Death Squadron's time and resources to the hunt. In 2 ABY, Vader received a transmission from Governor Bin Essada of Gyndine, who claimed that Captain-Supervisor Grammel, who oversaw Imperial operations on Circarpous V, had captured Leia Organa and Luke Skywalker. Grammel had also come across intelligence of a powerful stone, the Kaiburr crystal, that could enhance one's usage of the Force. The idea of possessing the crystal and the Rebels was attractive to Vader, and so he ordered Piett to take the Executor to Circarpous V. The ship was operating at peak efficiency, but Vader warned the captain that he would tolerate no delays. Upon reaching Circarpous V, the Dark Lord was unable to acquire either the Kaiburr crystal or the two fugitives.
Vader would not be deterred however, prompting him to set up a trap on Verdanth. A Viper probe droid, connected to the Executor via a cybernetic link, transmitted a distress signal and waited for Rebels to come across it, hoping to attempt a "rescue." Sure enough, the probe did detect a Rebel presence, but it was only a pair of droids. Piett, disappointed at the news, informed Vader, but the Dark Lord was confident that more entities would be lured to the scene. Eventually, Luke Skywalker and Han Solo reached the planet, prompting Vader to activate the cybernetic link. Using the Force, Vader attempted to extract the location of the Rebel base from Skywalker, but failed.
In 3 ABY, Death Squadron resumed its search for the Rebel base. Finally, a Viper probe droid reported that it had found a possible candidate in the Hoth system. Knowing that Admiral Ozzel would dismiss the finding, Piett waited until Lord Vader was on the bridge of the Executor before alerting his superior. Ozzel predictably passed the discovery off as a hidden smuggler base or something similar, but Vader was convinced that it was the Alliance base and the location of Skywalker. Acting on the captain's advice, Vader ordered the Executor to the Hoth system. The admiral had been made to look a fool, souring him in Vader's eyes just as Piett had planned. At the same time, the Axxilan had made himself appear sharp and calculating, gaining him a small degree of favor.
Ozzel made a tactical blunder when exiting hyperspace too close to the Hoth system, alerting the Alliance to Death Squadron's presence. This allowed the commanders of Echo Base to raise an energy shield, preventing the planned bombardment of the base by the Imperial fleet. The admiral was promptly contacted by Vader, who began choking Ozzel with the Force. Piett could do little more than watch on while Vader gave him orders to prepare a ground assault and disperse the fleet, in order to blockade Hoth. To Piett's surprise, Vader also gave him a swift promotion to admiral, before Ozzel's body had even hit the floor. Piett's first act as admiral was to have his predecessor's corpse disposed of.
With Captain Venka now in command of the Executor, junior officers formed betting pools on Piett's life expectancy, since Vader's admirals tended not to last very long in the role. Nevertheless, Piett dedicated himself to his task. General Maximilian Veers and Blizzard Force were able to overcome the Rebel defenders during the Battle of Hoth, but many enemy craft made it through the blockade. After landing on the planet, Piett briefly toured the remains of Echo Base before informing Vader that seventeen Rebel ships had been destroyed while trying to flee. Vader cared little, since his primary target was the Millennium Falcon. With that ship and its crew of Han Solo, Leia Organa, C-3PO, and Chewbacca as bait, Vader was confident he could lure Luke Skywalker into a trap. As such, Vader's only concern was for the Millennium Falcon, and he cared little for the outcome of the battle itself.
The Executor set off after the Millennium Falcon, pursuing it away from Hoth, but the Alliance craft sought refuge in the system's asteroid field. Piett was concerned that the field's debris would cause significant damage to Death Squadron's cruisers, but Vader was undeterred. Making his report, Piett became one of the few people to ever see the Dark Lord's head unmasked. TIE/sa bombers were dispatched to try and force Captain Solo out, while the rest of the fleet swept the system, but their efforts were to no avail. The new admiral was given little time to relax, however, as he received a transmission from Emperor Palpatine himself. The Emperor demanded to speak to Vader, and as Piett informed his master, he was ordered to move the Executor out of the asteroid field, in the hopes of sending a clear transmission.
To Piett's distaste, Vader summoned a group of bounty hunters to the Executor in order to make use of their services in locating the Millennium Falcon. The admiral was particularly disturbed by the presence of the ruthless and infamous Boba Fett. Piett was confident that Death Squadron could and would find the craft, and his faith seemed to be well invested when a report from the Imperial II Star Destroyer Avenger claimed that they were in pursuit of the Millennium Falcon. Pleased, he alerted Lord Vader, only to learn shortly afterwards that the ship had disappeared after what appeared to be a suicidal attack on the Avenger. Terminating the Avenger's captain, Lorth Needa, Vader ordered Piett to disperse the fleet along several trajectories in the search for the Millennium Falcon. The Dark Lord was not pleased, and made no hesitation in conveying his mood to the fearful Piett, who was sharply reminded of his predecessor's fate.
Following the dispersal of Death Squadron, Vader received a transmission from Fett, who had located Solo and the Millennium Falcon on Bespin's Cloud City. Vader subsequently ordered Piett to take the Executor there with all due haste. Upon reaching the floating city, Piett sent a team down to sabotage the Millennium Falcon's hyperdrive unit, preventing the Rebels' escape if they were to find their way out of Vader's trap. Meanwhile, Vader's men captured Solo, Organa, Chewbacca, and C-3PO. Vader eventually returned from the city empty-handed, despite the fact that Skywalker had taken the bait. Eventually, the Millennium Falcon made its way away from Cloud City, with the Executor trailing close behind. At Vader's behest, he ordered Lieutenant Cecius to ready the boarding party, before ordering the activation of the Star Destroyer's tractor beam. To Piett's surprise and fear, the Millennium Falcon successfully made the jump to lightspeed. The admiral's error would have been fatal at any other time, but Vader was too conflicted since Skywalker, his son, had refused to join him. Following the Bespin debacle, Piett filed a report on Vader's actions, which was eventually read by the Emperor himself.
The Battle of MygeetoEdit
Sometime after the development of the TIE/D Defender, a Rebel base was discovered on Mygeeto. Vader took the Executor there, leaving Piett in charge of starfighter command. The admiral first sent out a squadron of fighters to determine the Rebel presence in the area, before learning that the Alliance was sending their own scout ships to investigate the Executor's position. Piett personally briefed one pilot in particular, updating him on the status of the campaign. He sent the pilot and his wingmates after the Rebel scout ships, which were located in the Mygeeto asteroid field.
Though the scout ships were destroyed, the Rebels sent a fleet to attack the Executor, hoping to preemptively stave off a possible attack on the Mygeeto base. Piett scrambled fighters to defend, with his craft decimating the force of GR-75 medium transports, CR90 corvettes, and EF76 Nebulon-B escort frigates. The individual pilot he had been briefing distinguished himself, leading the admiral to recommend the ace to Vader. The Dark Lord eventually led the attack on the base, routing the Alliance and claiming the planet in the name of the Empire.
When Vader returned to Imperial Center with the Executor, Admiral Okins was given temporary command on the recommendation of Emperor Palpatine. Piett was briefly transferred back to the Accuser, from which he carried out the work of Vader's Death Squadron. At some stage, Piett culled himself a personal adviser from the pilot corps: TIE Fighter ace Chiraneau. Months after the Bespin incident, Piett was ordered to take an unpredictable route from system to system, in hope of finding the Alliance Fleet. Since the chance of success for that tactic was very low, the admiral suspected that Palpatine had something else in mind.
Death at the Battle of EndorEdit
Several months later, once again on the Executor, Piett was given command of the substantial Imperial fleet amassed at Endor to trap the Alliance and defend the Death Star II, after ferrying Vader to the incomplete battlestation to oversee the final phases of construction. Piett's nephew, former Rebel Sarkli, was also present to serve alongside the garrison on the forest moon. Operations and preparations at Endor, overseen in part by the Executor, went smoothly until the shuttle Tydirium attempted to land on the forest moon. The ship was transmitting an older, though still legitimate, Imperial code, sowing seeds of suspicion in Piett's mind. Vader soon took notice of the issue and ordered Piett to allow the shuttle to land, assuring his admiral that he would personally deal with the occupants. The shuttle was eventually revealed to have been carrying an Alliance strike team, who had the intent of destroying the Death Star's shield generator on the forest moon. The shield generator was the battlestation's main line of defense, and its eradication would leave the Death Star vulnerable to attack.
Palpatine, acting through Vader, sent the fleet to the far side of Endor, in order to hide it from the enemy fleet when they arrived. Shortly afterwards, the Alliance Fleet entered the Endor system, prompting Piett's armada to come out of hiding. Pitted against the renowned Mon Calamari Admiral Ackbar, Piett's forces blocked the Alliance's escape vector, while his fighters were dispatched to engage their Alliance counterparts. Piett was given direct orders from Palpatine to not directly attack and engage the Alliance craft, and so his fleet began to suffer from enemy General Lando Calrissian's tactic of having the Alliance capital ships engage the Star Destroyers at point-blank range. Due to this, Piett's performance as a commander and a tactician was greatly hindered, and the Death Star could no longer use its superlaser against the enemy craft, since they were now nestled up against the Imperial cruisers.
When the Death Star's shield fell, many of the Alliance starfighters swept into the battlestation's superstructure, with a swarm of Imperial craft in pursuit. Ackbar ordered a concentrated assault on the Executor, and as a result, the Star Dreadnought lost its bridge deflector shield. Concerned, Piett ordered his crewmen to amplify the Executor's defensive fire, but it was too little, too late. Piett perished when an RZ-1 A-wing interceptor piloted by Arvel Crynyd rammed into the Executor's bridge, destroying it. The foundering vessel, trapped in the Death Star's gravity well, plummeted into the battlestation in a gargantuan fireball. The Battle of Endor was eventually lost by the Empire, with Palpatine dying his first death at the hands of the turncoat Anakin Skywalker, who also perished.
Personality and traitsEdit
Bounty hunters! We don't need their scum. Those Rebels won't escape us.—Firmus Piett, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Firmus Piett, in his admiralty, garnered himself a set of detractors who claimed that he only achieved the rank because Darth Vader had such a low tolerance for failure. This was not exactly true: Vader chose to crew his ships with the Empire's finest officers, regardless of their politics and background. Apart from Thrawn, Vader chose not to utilize Palpatine's Grand Admirals, since Piett displayed talent that rivaled them anyway. He was, however, hindered in moments of great restraint, as displayed at the Battle of Endor. Unable to attack due to the Emperor's orders, Piett's fleet was eventually decimated by the Alliance craft.
Despite what looked like a flawless service record, Piett actually made a multitude of mistakes and blunders throughout his career. What set him apart from his colleagues and allowed him to climb the chain of command was his ability to divert blame onto others. Piett was also a far more creative individual than some of his more by-the-book colleagues, and was adept at both political maneuvering and appeasing his superiors. In addition to his political and military skills, Piett could understand Huttese and speak Basic.
When Piett reached the rank of admiral, he realized that it was not quite the best of positions after all, as his mistakes would have more severe consequences. However, his knack for avoiding Vader's anger enabled him to keep the post longer than he otherwise might have. He allowed himself a degree of confidence, and had faith in the Navy's ability to complete its task. To that end, he was derisive of third parties such as bounty hunters and mercenaries, believing that the Navy could do any job just as well.
Behind the scenesEdit
- "You can't just play a uniform or a single attitude, you have to somehow try to dig up within the parameters of the part something human, because that's what the audiences respond to, the humanity. The response I got was because of the humanity, not because of the uniform, if you see what I mean."
- ―Kenneth Colley[src]
Admiral Piett first appeared in the novelization of Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, one month before the release of the film on which it was based. In the film, the character was portrayed by Kenneth Colley. Piett is the only Imperial officer to appear in two Star Wars films, returning in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi. Piett was not originally going to appear in Return of the Jedi, but fan mail supporting the return of the character convinced George Lucas to rehire Colley and write several new lines of dialogue for him. In playing the role, Colley chose not to play a single attitude, but instead attempted to evoke the humanity of Piett's character, something that the actor ultimately believed made audiences react so strongly.
For Star Wars: Empire at War, Piett was voiced by Rupert Degas. Over time, the character has become a favorite amongst fans, due to his unusual longevity. In 2002, Piett was given the first name "Firmus" in Daniel Wallace's The New Essential Guide to Characters. Wallace derived the name from the Latin word meaning "strong" or "reliable."