FALL OF THE REPUBLIC
The corpulent Orn Free Taa represented Ryloth in the Galactic Senate during the Republic’s final years, and became known as a symbol of the greed and corruption that made the galaxy ungovernable. During the Separatist Crisis, Taa became a prominent Loyalist, pushing for the creation of a clone army.
Under the Empire, Taa remained Senator of Ryloth, now an Imperial protectorate. The corrupt Senator was charged with keeping up spice production, and had to contend with his old rival Syndulla, now a leader of the Free Ryloth movement.
At the height of its rule, the Galactic Republic was governed by a body of Senators representing the many worlds of the galaxy. Within the cavernous Senate rotunda, hundreds of politicians would fill the viewing platforms that lined the curved walls. The Senate’s power gradually eroded after it voted emergency powers to Supreme Chancellor Palpatine during the Clone Wars, and the body was sharply divided between supporters of the war and those seeking peace. After Palpatine declared himself Emperor, power was increasingly wielded by regional governors. Shortly before the Battle of Yavin, Palpatine disbanded the Senate.
Ryloth is the principal planet in the Ryloth system located in the Outer Rim near Tatooine. It is home to the Twi'leks, a humanoid species with two large, fleshy head-tails growing from their skulls. The Twi'leks call these prehensile appendages lekku and can communicate through subtle lekku gestures, although they also speak Twi'leki. During the Clone Wars, scheming Separatist warlords blockaded and invaded Ryloth, hoping to steal its riches.
The freedom fighter Cham Syndulla arose on Ryloth during the Clone Wars, after the Separatists invaded his homeworld. A dedicated fighter with no tolerance for corruption or dishonesty, Syndulla forged an alliance with Mace Windu that brought liberty to his fellow Twi'leks. Syndulla resisted the Empire after its rise to power, hatching a plot to ambush Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader on Ryloth. His daughter Hera would continue his campaign to undermine Imperial power.
A grim Jedi Master with an amethyst-bladed lightsaber, Mace Windu was the champion of the Jedi Order, with little tolerance for the failings of the Senate, the arguments of politicians, or the opinions of rebellious Jedi. As the Clone Wars intensified, Mace sensed the dark side of the Force at work, and knew the Jedi's enemies were plotting to destroy the Order and end its stewardship of the galaxy.
For over a thousand years, the Galactic Republic stood firm as a democratic union that governed the galaxy. The Republic was governed by the Galactic Senate, consisting of elected officials from each system and world, and Jedi Knights served as peacekeepers. With the rise of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, however, the Galactic Republic -- and democracy -- would crumble.
Twi'leks are tall, thin humanoids with skin pigment that spans a rainbow of colors. Their most distinctive feature is a pair of shapely prehensile tentacles that grow from the base of their skulls. Few things are as graceful as a female Twi'lek in motion. This beautiful image has forever doomed generations of young Twi'leks into servitude, as the wealthy and corrupt have taken to brandishing Twi'leks as badges of prestige. In the waning years of the Republic, the Twi'lek homeworld of Ryloth was represented in the Galactic Senate by the corpulent blue-skinned politician Orn Free Taa. Even a politician of high office was not above flaunting a pair of lovely Twi'lek aides as a sign of influence and wealth.