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|“||Brothers. What are we doing? We came here to free Ryloth from Separatist control, and we succeeded. But look around you. We're now being ordered to target the very people we swore to protect! And I will not be a part of it any longer! Who will stand with me?||„|
|~ Howzer rallies his men to defy the Empire.|
Captain Howzer is a major protagonist in the two-part Ryloth arc of Star Wars: The Bad Batch. He was a clone captain who led his men in the occupation of Ryloth. However, Howzer grew conflicted over the Empire's increasingly oppressive methods and finally rebelled, and although he was arrested, his words inspired many of his men around him.
Fighting for Ryloth
"Howzer" was created on the planet Kamino as a clone of the human male bounty hunter Jango Fett to serve in the Galactic Republic's clone army during the Clone Wars against the Separatist Alliance. Holding the rank of Clone Captain, Howzer was deployed to the Outer Rim planet Ryloth, the homeworld of the Twi'lek species, to free the world from a Separatist occupation. The Republic and the native Twi'lek Resistance, led by General Cham Syndulla, eventually joined forces against the Separatists under the agreement that the Republic would withdraw from Ryloth after their common enemy was usurped. The coalition succeeded in overthrowing the Separatists on the world, Howzer taking part in the fighting and befriending Syndulla.
In 19 BBY, the Clone Wars came to an end with the fall of the Separatists and the reorganization of the Republic into the Galactic Empire. Howzer then continued to serve as a stormtrooper officer in the new Imperial Army, retaining his rank of captain. He led a squad of clones within a battalion on Ryloth who had fought with him during the Clone Wars. The Empire failed to leave Ryloth as the Republic had promised, and established its own doonium refinery on the world. Many Twi'leks became skeptical of Empire's military presence, including several of Syndulla's fighters, led by his lieutenant, Gobi Glie.
In Ryloth's capital city Lessu, many of the people gathered before the Capitol building, where Howzer was present at a balcony area. The captain spoke with Cham Syndulla while Ryloth's Senator, Orn Free Taa, conversed with Cham's wife Eleni Syndulla. Vice Admiral Rampart, who had been viewing the crowd, questioned the loyalty of Ryloth to Taa, Eleni, and Cham, who each cooperated with the Empire's presence. As Taa went over with Rampart and Eleni to begin his speech, Howzer asked if Cham was okay, to which the general expressed worry about his people not embracing peace.
Howzer assured Cham that Ryloth was safe as the Twi'lek fought for, and the pair joined their cohorts for the speech. Taa implored his people to step down from their military posts and allow the Empire's clones to protect them. With the crowd resenting Taa's request, Cham stepped in, expressing his trust for the clones who had helped the people of Ryloth during the Clone Wars. Cham waved Howzer up to join him during his speech, which was applauded by most of the audience.
Not long after, Cham and Eleni's daughter, Hera Syndulla, and her droid, C1-10P "Chopper," were found in a restricted area near the Imperial refinery by some clones. Howzer and his troops returned the young Twi'lek to Cham, explaining what the general's daughter had done. After Hera dismissed the incident as "exploring," the captain took Cham aside. Howzer explained that he was in a tough spot and promised not to report the incident, but said it could not happen again. Cham told Howzer that it would not and thanked him, who departed with his soldiers.
Meanwhile, Rampart had his Elite Squad Trooper unit, led by Commander CT-9904 "Crosshair," investigate Glie's operations. The unit soon intercepted the Twi'lek militant, who was accompanied by Hera and the Twi'lek Serin, when he returned to Ryloth with purchased weapons. Howzer joined Rampart and Taa aboard a HCVw A9 turbo tank which traveled to Crosshair's position with BARC speeder escorts. Disembarking, the captain flanked the admiral and senator, who inspected Hera and discussed what involvement her father Cham might have. When Rampart implied punishment for Hera, Howzer interjected, adding that she was only a child. Taa declared the girl an insurgent and ordered that the three captured Twi'leks be taken away.
While hesitant, Howzer had Glie, Hera, and Serin taken into the Juggernaut, followed by the captain, Rampart, and Taa. The group sat inside as the transport traveled through Sector 3 of Ryloth's western outskirts, which was when Twi'lek reinforcements led by Cham and Eleni arrived. Cham began assaulting the escorting clones on speeder bikes, and Howzer was informed of the attack through his comlink. Knowing that Cham was behind the attack, Taa ordered Howzer's forces to fight back, and the captain complied after a moment's hesitation.
Howzer listened over his comlink as his speeders outside were defeated in their attempts to fend off the Twi'lek militants. The comms were then jammed by the militant Lenk, who had hijacked the juggernaut's cockpit, and the transport came to a halt as the last of the speeder pilots were taken down, leading Howzer to put on his helmet. After the transport's power was cut, Howzer raised his DC-17 hand blaster to defend his colleagues, but Rampart advised him to stand down, and the juggernaut passengers watched as Cham and Eleni broke into their compartment.
Framing of the Syndullas
Howzer, Taa, Rampart and their remaining clones were held captive by the Twi'leks. Cham and Taa accused each other of treason, the general pointing his blaster at the senator. Howzer told Cham to think about what he was doing before Eleni talked the general out of killing Taa. Rampart then thanked the senator before nodding at a distant Crosshair, who shot Taa in the head. Several Low Altitude Assault Transports then flew in, forcing Hera to flee with Chopper in a landspeeder. The LAATs deployed additional clones alongside Crosshair's elite squad, who arrested the Twi'leks and loaded them onto the transports.
As Taa was carried away on a hoverlift, injured but alive, Howzer walked to the side of Rampart, who handed the clone a DC-15A blaster carbine and ordered him to find Hera. The captain then watched as Rampart joined Crosshair's Elite Squad Troopers and the captured Twi'leks aboard an LAAT, which took off with the other gunships. With the efforts to locate Hera being unsuccessful, Howzer returned to Rampart at the Capitol building, where the pair visited Cham and Eleni Syndulla in their prison cell. The admiral and the Syndullas exchanged taunts before the former walked away, leaving Howzer to look somberly at his old Twi'lek friends before departing as well.
Howzer and Rampart went towards the landing area outside the Capitol, and the admiral ordered the clone captain to arrest the Syndullas' supporters across the planet. The captain insisted that the people he was to arrest were not insurgents, but Rampart said that they supported one, recalling the attack on the juggernaut and the shooting of Taa. Stating that he had been there, Howzer argued that Taa had not been shot by the Twi'leks, but when the admiral asked who the clone thought had fired, Howzer said he did not know. Rampart reminded him of his orders, and Howzer offered to find Hera himself, but Rampart denied his request, saying that another squad was looking for her.
Numerous Twi'leks at Lessu gathered for another public address at the Capitol building, where Rampart, flanked by Howzer, updated the crowd on the supposed assassination attempt on Taa by the Syndullas and their allies. After, the pair traversed the hallways of the building, with Howzer suggesting only some of Cham's allies be arrested. Rampart insisted that all were to be rounded up, and the captain expressed worry that it could incite an uprising. The admiral, though, offered the solution that more would therefore be arrested to quell a rebellion. The two entered Rampart's office to join Crosshair, who reported the presence of the rogue clone commando squad Clone Force 99, or the "Bad Batch," on Ryloth.
Rampart and Crosshair debated about the Bad Batch's capabilities until the former suggested Crosshair's squad continue to search for Hera or the admiral would put Howzer on the task instead, leading the commander to leave the room to carry out his orders. Howzer went back to Cham and Eleni's cell in secret. Cham claimed the captain had sided against the general and his people, but Howzer brought up Cham's attack on the juggernaut. When Eleni stated that she and her husband had to protect Hera, the clone captain asserted that he wanted to as well, asking for their daughter's location and promising to help the girl. However, Cham did not trust Howzer, and turned his offer down.
Defying the Empire
Not long after, the Imperial refinery was attacked by the Bad Batch with the help of Hera. Learning of the events, Howzer rushed to Rampart's office to report it to the admiral, who ordered the captain to guard Lessu. Imperial forces deployed from the Capitol building's landing area, but Crosshair stopped his elite squad in suspicion that the Capitol was the real target. Howzer observed their shuttle from one of the building's balconies, and learned of a trap that Crosshair had set in front of one of the exits with his elite squad and members of Howzer's squad. The captain then went down towards the exit and intercepted Cham and his allies, who had been rescued by two Bad Batch commandos.
Howzer warned the group of Crosshair's trap and condemned the Empire's actions on Ryloth. After the captain added that all the Capitol's exits were blocked, Eleni decided the group would steal Taa's shuttle from the senator's private tower hangars. Howzer apologised to Cham for not going against the Empire sooner, and the general promised to return to Ryloth eventually as their fight for Ryloth's freedom was not over. Although Eleni added that the clone's actions would be discovered, Howzer wished to not abandon his squad.
Howzer exited the capitol building before Crosshair's trap and openly defied the Empire's occupation of Ryloth, imploring his clone brothers to stand with him and do the same as he dropped his blaster carbine. Six other clones were persuaded by Howzer's reasoning and dropped their blasters and shields, prompting Crosshair to order their arrests by his elite squad and the clones who did not defy the Empire. Being handcuffed, Howzer watched as Cham and his fighters escaped with the Bad Batch on Taa's shuttle. The clone was then escorted into the Capitol building.