There’s absolutely no question that Order 66 was one of the Emperor’s most heinous acts in all of Star Wars. The quelling claimed the lives of thousands of Jedi, thrusting the galaxy into tyrannical rule. As bad as the mass-murdering of the Jedi Order was, however, it paled in comparison to Palpatine’s posthumous order of revenge and retribution: Operation Cinder. If the Emperor, and by consequence the Empire, were to fall, then none would be spared his wrath. He intended the ultimate act of death and destruction to eventually pave the way for his “Final Order” as seen in The Rise of Skywalker. But what was it?
Following the loss at Endor, automated messenger droids bearing the face of Emperor Palpatine deployed throughout the fleet. They delivered the Emperor’s order – destroy any planets believed disloyal to the Empire. Satellites would churn a planet’s atmosphere into catastrophe, ravaging the planet into obliteration. Operation Cinder then saw the Imperial fleet destroy all ships trying to flee. Target planets included Naboo, Vardos, and Burnin Konn (as referenced in The Mandalorian). The entire galaxy would fall into into chaos, from which the Final Order would rise. At least that was the plan.
Operation Cinder: The Ultimate Order
The order, however, went too far for many Imperials, leading to their defection from service. Iden Versio is perhaps the most recognizable of them. She, as we know, was the chief protagonist of the Battlefront II video game that brought Operation Cinder into the Star Wars universe. Yrica Quell also left her assignment in the Imperial Navy following a Cinder assignment. Alexander Freed features Quell and her internal turmoil in the Alphabet Squadron novel series. And let’s just say Migs Mayfeld had his own issues sleeping at night as a result of the order.
Operation Cinder failed in its main objective, of course. Still, it did lay the groundwork for the First Order to rise from the ashes it left behind. Despite the Emperor’s failure with the order, his long game nevertheless continued. The rest, as they say, is history.