Destroy the communication capability of that settlement. These people must not get word back to the government.
—Maul ordering OOM-9 to begin the attack on New Centrif
The Battle of New Centrif was the first armed conflict of the Invasion of Utapau. Beginning shortly after the corporate Trade Federation landed its forces on Utapau, in retaliation for anti-slavery laws passed by the Galactic Republic, the battle was fought between the Federation, led by battle droid commander OOM-9, and the New Centrif Security Forces, led by Security Captain Sotab Jacoma. The purpose of the battle was to destroy the planet’s last remaining active communications array, the other arrays on the planet having already been jammed by the Federation. New Centrif Mayor Arruinada intended to use the array to warn Utapau Queen Sabé Arcadia, who was in the capital city of Ogana, about the arrival of the Federation forces.
After the Federation destroyed the city’s security perimeter gate, the droid forces, which numbered in either the hundreds or thousands, swarmed the city and engaged the security forces and armed townspeople, although the defenders numbered only in the dozens. The New Centrif forces were quickly overwhelmed, resulting in the deaths of virtually all of the security forces within minutes. Jacoma and a few other officers remained alive, although Jacoma ended up killing himself when he used a grenade to destroy the droids in the area. Towards the end of the battle, Mayor Arruinada recorded a partial message to send to Queen Arcadia, but the mayor was killed before completing the transmission. The Federation destroyed the communications array and went on to attack Utapau's capital city of Ogana, where they captured Queen Arcadia.
Following unsuccessful attempts at negotiation by Utapau’s Queen Sabé Arcadia and Jedi ambassadors Jard Dooku and Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Trade Federation, under orders from Dark Jedi Master Maul, began their invasion of Utapau. The two Jedi had been sent by Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum to end the blockade of Utapau, which was commanded by Maul. After a few hours, during which time communication on the planet was disrupted by the Federation, numerous landing crafts, carrying even more Multi-Troop Transports and Armored Assault Tanks, touched down on the surface of Utapau. Unknown to the Federation, two crafts were being used by Kenobi and Dooku to escape to the surface, as the Federation had attempted to kill the two Jedi ambassadors after they had arrived on the lead blockade vessel. At least one landing craft was destroyed when Kenobi sabotaged it from within, causing it to explode and crash into the Aquarian Ocean, the shore of which was where many of the crafts were landing.
During the landings, Maul contacted OOM-9, the battle droid commander who was overseeing the entire Federation droid army, to request an update on the invasion. OOM-9 informed Maul that the Federation was going to invade the city of New Centrif in order to destroy the last planetary communications transmitter, after which point the Federation would then proceed through the cities of Harte Secur and Spinnaker before taking the capital city of Ogana. Maul sanctioned the efforts and the Federation began to proceed towards New Centrif.
In New Centrif, Mayor Arruinada and her technicians had been working to establish communication with Ogana by using their working communications array. They eventually realized, however, that the Federation had sent part of its army towards the city, so their efforts to contact the capital increased in an effort to alert Queen Arcadia about the invasion force. Having only approximately fifteen minutes of notice, Security Captain Sotab Jacoma worked to gather the New Centrif Security Forces, which numbered only in the dozens, in the town square to fight off the invasion force. Although both Jacoma and Arruinada believed that the odds of anyone surviving were minimal, townspeople also grabbed weapons to help the security officers fight off the battle droids.
The battle Edit
Once the battle droids arrived outside of the city, Maul contacted OOM-9 and ordered the droid to destroy the communications capability of the planet. OOM-9 complied and the Federation forces destroyed the fortified gate at the city’s entrance, allowing them access to the town. Once the Federation forces were close enough, Captain Jacoma ordered his men to charge, and the two forces immediately clashed. Numerous security officers were killed, although few battle droids were destroyed. Nevertheless, the security forces continued to fight against the invasion force.
Only a few minutes after the battle started, while the technicians in the mayor’s office continued to work to establish communication with the capital city, the security forces were down to only three known remaining officers, including Jacoma. All other officers had either been killed or fled the area, presumably to either escape or combat Federation forces that had made their way to other parts of the city. Jacoma, after viewing the carnage of the battle, attempted to keep fighting, but an explosive device exploded nearby and caused a statue to topple onto his legs, pinning him to the ground. As the only one left in the area, the droids having killed everyone else nearby, Jacoma was about to be killed by a battle droid, but he used a grenade to destroy the droids. The grenade also killed Jacoma.
In the mayoral offices, the technicians established a faint connection with Ogana. Arruinada recorded a message for Queen Arcadia, telling her that the city and the planet was being invaded by the Federation, as well as that the Federation was attempting to destroy the communications array. As the mayor was speaking, battle droids burst into her office and killed all of the technicians. Arruinada attempted to defend herself, but she too was killed. The Federation went on to destroy the array.
Following the Federation’s successful decimation of New Centrif, they moved on towards the capital. During the approach, they also subjugated Harte Secur and Spinnaker, just as OOM-9 had intended. Once those cities were under Federation control, the droid forces invaded Ogana, where they captured Queen Arcadia.
The Battle of New Centrif was recalled by the people of Utapau as being one that had a noble purpose, yet little to no effect on the defense of Utapau. The security forces had attempted to aid their planet, but even they knew that they did not stand a chance of doing so because of their small numbers. Regardless, from a Federation standpoint, the battle was a success as it allowed them to end all planetary communication. The battle also allowed the Federation to proceed to additional settlements, as well as Ogana and captured the queen.
Behind the scenes Edit
The Battle of New Centrif was created by author Brandon Rhea for his novel Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One. He based the battle off of the New Centrif battle that was depicted in the video game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds during the canonical Invasion of Naboo. Rhea chose to depict this battle as the intent in the game was for the Federation to destroy a communications array, although the purpose for the in-game battle was to prevent Naboo from contacting Coruscant whereas Rhea’s version was to prevent New Centrif from contacting Ogana.
Rhea created new characters, such as Mayor Arruinada and Captain Jacoma, in order to give the battle what he felt was a more personal touch. Once he began writing the battle, he felt “the scene sucked”, so he rewrote it but still did not feel entirely comfortable with it. After speaking with fellow author Edward Oliver, Rhea rewrote the battle scenes with Oliver’s help. Rhea now feels that the battle has a gritty feel to it “with descriptions and emotions that put you directly into the battle”. Rhea stated that this was his intention from the beginning but he was not able to execute it properly until Oliver agreed to help.
- Star Wars: Episode I - The Chosen One (First appearance)