Warning: Minor spoilers ahead for Rogue One. Proceed with all the caution of a Rebel sneaking into an Imperial facility...
When George Lucas set out to create Star Wars, he didn't just make iconic movies — he also spawned a vast galaxy of intricate plot points, that has been expanded and filled in by many different creators over the years. #RogueOne is a fantastic film for many reasons, as it adds a different perspective on the story we know and love, and in doing so it makes that galaxy far far away feel just that little bit more real.
With Rogue One we are immersed completely in the era of the Original Trilogy, and Gareth Edwards achieved this through careful set decoration, costuming, and of course the requisite Easter Eggs.
There are plenty of nods towards the wider Star Wars narrative, and one of the most mysterious moments was when Jyn Erso listed off the Imperial projects, as she and Cassian Andor searched for the Death Star plans. So what exactly did these enigmatic code names refer to?
Superweapons & Secret Plans
Some of the names we already know about, some are hinted at, and some are still a mystery. Here are the plans Jyn finds in the Citadel on Scarif:
- Stellar Sphere
- Pax Aurora
- Mark Omega
- War Mantle
- Cluster Prism
- Black Saber
At least three of these titles refer to different components of the Death Star itself, as we found out in the tie-in novel Catalyst.
Galen wasn't alone in working for a counterfeit division and having his research put to alternative uses. Scattered across the galaxy were teams of scientists working on conventional weaponry, tractor beam and hyperdrive technology, even hull cladding systems. Each project was concealed behind names like Stellar Sphere, Mark Omega, and Pax Aurora. But all those paled in comparison with research on the superlaser.
The other code names, however, seem to refer to the Empire's other weapons and projects. As such, they could refer to anything, but thanks to the code names' similarities to parts of #StarWars lore, we can deduce what these projects are about. And first up is "Black Saber".
Black Saber: Ancient Jedi Weapon
"Black Saber" is another name for the darksaber, an ancient weapon used by the Jedi. Only one remains, and it was stolen by the Mandalorians when they came into conflict with the Jedi centuries ago. This darksaber was used by the leaders of the Mandalorian Death Watch, before Maul took control of both the saber and the Watch during the events of the animated show Star Wars: The Clone Wars.
Since then, the darksaber resurfaced in Star Wars: Rebels, and has fallen into the possession of Sabine Wren — a Mandalorian descendant of Death Watch leaders.
The darksaber itself has a flat, wide blade of plasma, and due to its properties it sucks in all light around it, causing a white aura to appear.
It seems that the Empire were investigating the uses of the darksaber, as it's highly likely that this is what the "Black Saber" project refers to in Rogue One. Like the Death Star's use of Kyber Crystals, it's possible that the Empire were adapting the darksaber for another superweapon — or perhaps they were looking to create their own darksabers for Stormtroopers.
Cluster Prism: Crystal Weapons Or Prisons
This one is a lot more difficult to identify, as it doesn't refer to anything specific in either the Star Wars canon or Legends (the old Expanded Universe material). It's possible that this is another component of the Death Star — specifically, the Kyber Crystals themselves. As the "Stardust" plans are actually a map to Galen Erso's hidden fault within the Death Star, "Cluster Prism" could have been the plans for his work on the laser itself, perhaps the schematics for how to build the crystals into the structure.
"Cluster Prism" could also be a project investigating how to use Kyber Crystals in other ways. After all, there's no reason why they should only power one kind of superweapon.
Or maybe the Empire are looking to re-use the old Jedi prison known as The Prism. As this facility featured in the Expanded Universe, it's currently stuck in a Schrodinger's cat like state of canon — until Disney/Lucasfilm decree one way or the other, we don't know if The Prism is part of the new canon or not.
The Prism was a prison built by the Jedi to house very dangerous criminals, whom Darth Vader later liberated so they could serve the Empire. "Cluster Prism" might refer to Vader's mission to recruit the criminals in The Prism, or the Empire might be building more prisons using The Prism's schematics.
War Mantle: Terrifying Superweapon
Again, this code name doesn't refer to anything in particular, but with its intriguing title we can only imagine what terrifying projects "War Mantle" created.
As a mantle is a sort of blanket or cape, it's possible that the "War Mantle" is actually the immense forcefield protecting Scarif from Rebel attacks. There is a similar one around Endor in Return of the Jedi.
But the use of the word "War" makes us wonder whether this was actually some kind of super weapon, perhaps adapting the forcefield into something else. There's more than one way to kill a planet, after all, and it could be that the "War Mantle" was spread over a planet, only to become opaque and cut off any sunlight from reaching the planet's surface.
Alternatively, the "War Mantle" could be a machine that transforms a planet's atmosphere into poisonous gas, or... well, you get the picture. With a name as intriguingly enigmatic and ominous as "War Mantle", our money's on this plan being a superweapon of some sort.
Tell us in the comments: What do you think the Imperial plans were for?