The All Terrain Armored Transport (AT-AT) walkers were heavily-armored assault vehicles utilized by the Imperial forces during the Galactic Civil War. Thanks to their imposing size, extensive weaponry and strong armor they posed a serious threat to the Rebel Alliance.
They played a central role in the Battle of Hoth, where they overran Rebel trenches and assaulted their shield generator. Under the leadership of Luke Skywalker, the Rebels countered the AT-ATs by snaring their legs with magnetic tow cables and tripping the behemoths, where they lay vulnerable on the ground. Despite this setback, the AT-ATs were able to generate sufficient momentum to enable the Imperial forces to overrun the Rebels.
Battle vs. Tripod (2005 Film) (by El Alamein)
The normally isolated Imperial outpost, half-frozen into the lifeless ground and far from the concentrated strength of the main base, was bustling with activity. Garbled commands blared from loudspeakers stationed across the small fortified position as ground vehicles fought with the inhospitable terrain to transport their material, ground troops trudged miserably through the frigid air, and ground defenses kept a trained, wary eye on the metal, imposing cylinders that had seemingly sprouted up overnight. Nobody knew how they showed up--whether they had tunneled up from the ground or slammed into the snow from above was beyond anyone's guess. At the base of the cylinders, concentrated wherever there was a break in the long, snaking fissures that cracked the surface, were huddled teams of engineers and other Imperial workers, some of them analyzing the object, others trying to open it.
"This is preposterous," snorted the base commander angrily, as his driver brought their vehicle into view of the cylinder. "You're sure this has nothing to do with Rebel activity?"
"It's not like them to be so brazen, sir," replied the outpost commander in the backseat. "Besides, we have reports of--well, I'll just show you." Activating his wrist-mounted holoprojector, the outpost commander leaned forward as a flickering blue image of another Stormtrooper popped up. His voice crackled and sounded distant as the recording played. "Two of these metal towers emerged... after three hours... unfortunately... unable to establish contact... organic presence detected, but they're dormant and... other outposts reported... will radio in later." The recording ended and the Stormtrooper flickered away.
"It's not just us, sir," said the outpost commander as the vehicle came to a stop near the base of the cylinder. "There's more of them."
"I'm going to send a report out to the main base," said the base commander. Donning his helmet before stepping out of the vehicle, he began to record his report on his holoprojector. He had not gotten more than three or four sentences in, though, before a defeaning, foghorn-like blare emitted from within the cylinder. Gasping in pain, the Stormtroopers fell to their knees and clasped their hands to their helmets, trying to block out the sound. The metal cylinder started to emit steam from the top, where a click was heard. The metal casing slid apart along four smooth grooves that ran down the length of the cylinder as the engineers working at the base scrambled to get away, tripping over the jagged fissures in the icy ground as they fled.
"It's... it's not possible," muttered the base commander, looking up in awe.
If the cylinder was tall, the machine standing up from within was taller still--it must have been compressed or folded up within. An angular, narrow head, if such a thing could be called a head, sat perched atop a boxy torso, supported by three spindly legs that clamped firmly into the snowy ground with metal toes. Instantly the Stormtroopers readied their weapons, the large artillery pieces swiveling on their bases to point at the invader. "Hold fire!" barked the outpost commander. The alien tripod stood unsteadily, wavering about as it surveyed its surroundings. Two skinny arms, surprisingly flexible, stretched out. They were carrying two metal boxes, which started to glow blue. Suddenly, with a horrible metallic zapping sound, two electric-blue beams of raw energy shot forth, down to the ground and tearing up the Stormtroopers unfortunate enough to be standing in its path. They turned to run but the ray killed them instantly, their armor clattering in an empty shell to the ground as their bodies disintegrated, bursting into dust or steam as they died. Just as quickly came the Imperial response, as dozens of blaster rifles and three huge defensive guns opened fire on the Tripod, red blaster bolts speeding with a vengeance on the attacker. As they neared the Tripod, though, the bolts shattered against a translucent force field that appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to protect the machine.
As the Tripod continued to wreak havoc upon the outpost, the base commander took cover behind his vehicle and frantically began sending a report to the main base. "Critical alert!" he shouted, his voice hoarse as he tried to make himself heard over the automatic weapons fire, explosions and screaming. "I repeat, critical alert! Unidentified attackers have assaulted the south outpost! Defenses are crumbling! I repeat--" His voice was momentarily drowned out by an earth-shaking boom as the Heat Ray blasted apart one of the defensive guns, sending molten metal and fire raining down from the sky. Peeking out from behind his cover, the base commander stared in shock as the outpost commander and his driver, who were running for safety, were snatched up by two metallic tentacles that reached out in a sinewy mass from the Tripod's box torso. The two men looked infinitesimal and helpless as they flailed and kicked while the tentacles slowly returned, pulling the men back until they disappeared inside the Tripod's torso.
The base commander stumbled out, awestruck and terror-stricken, right as the Heat Ray swept through his vehicle and knocked it aside, sending it up in flames. Turning around, he found the main outpost building a shattered broken structure, its walls scorched or blasted open. The ground was littered with the husks of empty Stormtrooper armor, the only things left over from the Heat Ray's wrath. Collapsing to his knees, the base commander shakily reached up to his helmet, managing to pull it off and letting the frozen air bite sense back into his sweat-drenched face. Blinking in confusion, he turned and looked up at the Tripod towering overhead. One of the arms lazily swung his way and started to glow blue. The base commander flinched moments before the overpowering brightness shot forward. There was an instant of indescribable, agonizing pain as his body reacted to the Heat Ray, and then, the man was no more.
The Imperial response was swift and brutal. Spearheading the counterattack were five towering AT-ATs, making their deliberate and methodical advance out through the barren wilderness toward the ruined outpost. Inside the lead machine sat the squad leader. "Keep your eyes peeled, men," he issued instructions via holoprojector. "We've lost all communication with the area we're approaching. They could have been overrun for all we know." The AT-ATs continued their somber march in solidarity, their legs methodically plowing through the snow and leaving large, distinct footprints in their wake.
The Tripods, meanwhile, had converged upon that location, communicating via the series of deafening foghorn-like blasts that disrupted the deadly still silence of the Hoth air. Their snakelike tentacles searched the various nooks and crannies of the ruined buildings, occasionally finding and grabbing a terrified Stormtrooper hiding behind cover. The Tripods were so busy ransacking the area that they didn't notice the approaching AT-ATs until they were almost already upon them. The Tripods watched, almost curiously, as the AT-ATs came to a halt on the outskirts of the outpost.
The Imperial machines let loose with a volley of blaster fire, the heavy bolts slamming into the alien force fields in a colorful display of sparks and energy.
"Concentrate your fire, men!" shouted the commander. "We have to try to break through that shield!"
The Tripods staggered under the weight of the fire but quickly recovered, returning fire with their deadly Heat Rays. The beams tore through the air and flattened themselves against the Durasteel armor of the AT-ATs, sizzling and sparking but failing to make it through the heavy armor. One of the Tripods blared loudly and began to advance. The other alien machines lumbered forward, following the leader, their tentacles extended. The AT-ATs began to open fire with their secondary armaments, the medium repeating blasters hurling bolts at the Tripods fruitlessly. One of the Tripods overtook its leader, closing in on one of the AT-ATs, battering it with its tentacles. The Imperial war machine rocked under the assault as the crew within furiously worked the controls to maintain balance.
"Fire on that machine!" ordered the commander. His men obeyed, turning their fire on the Tripod attacking their squadmates. The shield held but the volume of fire finally battered the Tripod hard enough to send it unsteadily to the ground. The force field weakened, still daring to hold off the medium blasters, but the main blaster bolts were too powerful to fend off. Downed, the Tripod exploded as bolt after bolt pierced the head of the machine and killed the alien inside. The crew members began to celebrate over the holoprojector, congratulating one another.
The Tripods started up again with the Heat Rays, meanwhile, cutting the Imperial soldiers' cries of victory short. One of the AT-ATs started to turn, bravely maintaining its automatic fire as it did so. A Heat Ray splashed across its armored back and onto the back of its neck. The crewmen within looked up in shock as the AT-AT heated up, cooking them inside. The AT-AT staggered like a man drunk as the soldiers within thrashed about in agony moments before the armor gave way. The Heat Ray burst inside and severed the head from the body, killing the crew members as their compartment crashed dozens of feet to the hard ground. The headless body tipped over from the force of the Heat Ray as the Tripods, unsure of where the crew sat, hosed the armored behemoth down with the Heat Ray. Finally the AT-AT went up in a shower of flames.
A booming blare from the Tripods crushed the air as one alien machine called to another. Three of the Tripods resumed fire with their Heat Rays while the fourth, evidently a leader of sorts, immediately began lumbering back towards the back of the destroyed outpost. Its pliable legs twisted and bent as they took the alien, surprisingly nimble, over the ice and behind the smoldering wreckage of a guard tower.
"One of them is retreating!" called out one of the AT-AT crewmen on the holoprojector. "Sir, requesting permission to flank and engage!"
"That's a negative, Sergeant. You are to stay with your group and hold position!" replied the commander. "Re-engage!"
The AT-ATs unleashed a barrage of blaster fire on the Tripods, but again the mysterious shields opened up and protected the alien invaders housed within. The Tripods began to target the legs of the AT-ATs in an effort to disable them. The deadly beam sizzled its way over to the weaker armor of the tall, slow feet propping the Imperial walkers upright.
"Concentrate fire! Concentrate fire!" barked the commander. "Take aim at the lead machine!"
There was a reverberating thrum as the blasters pinged and bounced off the Tripod's shield, but the machine became unsteady under pressure. The other two Tripods present kept attacking the AT-ATs. "Sir, sir!" shouted one of the crew members excitedly. "We're getting it, sir! That one's falling!"
Sure enough, after a few more shots from each walker, the Tripod's shield failed it and it sank to the ground, its legs spilling out from underneath it, crumpling to a heap, tangled within a swarm of its writhing tentacles. The Tripod called out right as the lead alien machine came swinging back into action, its tentacles raised high with various charred shells of vehicles clutched firmly in each one. Some were as small and insignificant as snow speeders, but others much larger multi-terrain vehicles and even armored personnel carriers. One of the tentacles lost its grip and the crushed body of an Imperial AT-ST walker went spiraling down to the icy ground below, where it landed with a metallic clang. Undeterred, the Tripod hurled a snow speeder at one of the AT-ATs. The projectile spun through the air before it clattered against the main body of the walker and fell, leaving an insignificant dent.
Upon seeing this development, the Tripods began to blare in excitement as the downed machine struggled to get to its feet. The lead Tripod advanced, getting closer and chucking a half-destroyed TIE defender at the closest AT-AT. The starfighter nicked the AT-AT's head before ricocheting violently into the body of an adjacent walker. Unrelenting, the Tripod followed up with another TIE fighter sent right at the same AT-AT. Inside the AT-AT, the crew members could only watch in horror as the vehicle approached right at their windshield. This time the Tripod's aim was better--the aircraft-turned-missile slammed into the head of the walker before it exploded, incinerating the Imperial troops within. The AT-AT's legs gave out as the controls short-circuited, and it tumbled to the ground below where it crashed into a scrap heap.
Screaming in rage and fear, the Imperial commander pushed his gunner aside and opened fire on the recovering Tripod. It had managed to stabilize itself and was leering ominously overhead, its arms glowing blue as it prepared to open fire with the Heat Ray. Unfortunately for the alien, the shields had been damaged quite severely and they were not yet functional. One blaster bolt crashed right through the Tripod's main window, blowing up inside the control room and scorching the alien inside, leaving a huge crater of a black scorch mark where its chest used to be. A second shot from the AT-AT completely destroyed the Tripod, sending it up in a magnificent fireball of an explosion that rocked the ground and even pushed the adjacent Tripods a few steps. The lead Tripod continued to throw more empty vehicles at the advancing AT-ATs, but the Imperial walkers were now gaining momentum.
The Tripods gave ground, stepping backwards as they continued to fire their Heat Rays, their shields bubbling outward as blaster bolts hammered them continuously, probing and prodding for any weak spot, desperately trying to compromise the aliens' only means of defense. Even the little repeating blasters kept dutifully at it, twittering off in comparison to their bigger, deeper cousins. Though the Tripods were faster, moving backwards and on the unfamiliar icy terrain hampered their retreat, while the AT-ATs continued to close the distance. "Engage them in as close a proximity as you can!" shouted the commander into the holoprojector, having returned control of the blaster to his gunner. "Don't let them throw those damn things at us!" Even as he spoke, there was a loud bang and the control room shook as a snow speeder careened into the AT-AT, thrown furiously by a Tripod.
The battlefield was a ruined tundra of scorched pockmarks where blaster bolts and Heat Rays had missed their mark, littered with burning vehicles and the rubble of destroyed buildings. The Tripods resumed their foghorn calls, spraying their Heat Rays across the Durasteel of the AT-ATs, receiving return fire from the blaster bolts in return. Two of the Tripods turned to run faster while the third held its ground, concentrating fire on one of the AT-AT's legs. Suddenly one of the fleeing Tripods fell--either getting a leg caught on the rubble below or else losing traction in the ice, having failed to secure its toe clamps properly--and crashed hard into its adjacent machine. A desperate blare went up as the two Tripods floundered. The third pushed forward into the charging AT-ATs, battering a walker with its tentacles and holding it up, but the other two Imperial machines kept pressing onward on either side of their beleaguered squadmate.
One of the downed Tripods managed to secure its toeclamps into the ice and was attempting to re-establish a means of raising itself, but the other was critically damaged from the fall. As an AT-AT loomed overhead, it placed its foot down on the Tripod, only to have itself stopped by the force field. Unsteady itself now, with one foot kept stuck on the Tripod's stubborn shield, the Imperial walker tipped forward, collapsing with its full weight on the alien machine. Under the incredible bulk of the AT-AT, the Tripod's force field gave out in an instant. The resultant explosion was enormous, bigger than any yet that had scarred the battlefield. Engulfing both vehicles in a white-orange cloud of death, the blast shook the Tripod that had righted itself and pushed the other machines a step or two to the side. That force was all the Tripod grappling with the AT-AT needed to destabilize the legs, using its tentacles to pull one Durasteel foot up and send it in a freefall on its side. The crash killed the pilot outright and stunned the remaining crew members. Before the last remaining AT-AT could even attempt to defend its squadmate, the Heat Ray had come searing into the top of the neck of the downed walker, killing the poor souls trapped inside. Gloating in triumph, the Tripod raised its tentacles in the air, waving its arms and trumpeting its blast to the sky.
"Pull back for cover!" shouted the squad commander, looking desperately out for help that simply would not arrive in time. The AT-AT began its agonizingly slow break for the destroyed outpost tower, which at least offered marginal cover. Its blasters fired in desperation but only met a taunting force field in response. Almost as if at a leisurely pace, the two remaining Tripods sauntered over on either side of the AT-AT, walking alongside--if they weren't enemies, they could have been escorting the Imperial armor. "Fire!" cried the commander, his voice hoarse and cracking in exhaustion. It was too late, though.
One of the Tripods grabbed the walker's head in its tentacles, eighteen fibrous metallic cables with clamps on the end clawing at the AT-AT's vulnerable neck. The pilot pushed the controls forward, but this only served to aid in the Tripod's ultimate goal as the head snapped off and the body lurched forward, wandering aimlessly for a brief moment as if drunk. Clinging precariously to their seats, the Imperial soldiers gazed out in shock and horror at the icy ground dozens of feet below. "Don't let go, boys!" muttered the commander, breathless and in terror, talking almost as if to give himself an illusion of control over the situation.
They needn't have worried about falling to their deaths though, even as the headless body of their AT-AT slumped over and lay dead on its belly like a camel in the snow. Legs kicking and arms holding furiously on to their seats and equipment, with ever-slackening grips, the soldiers looked over in horror to notice the other Tripod's tentacles slowly peeking in, poking at the exposed control room. The first tentacle found its victim, clamping around his midsection and giving a gentle tug. The man shouted and clung even more furiously to his anchor inside, but a second, more forceful yank left him squirming and pinwheeling helplessly, firmly in the grasp of the Tripod's tentacle. The next three tentacles came pouring in eagerly, like demented snakes, nosing forward, slinking alongside the walls and floors of the AT-AT's head as if mocking the notion of gravity that kept the Stormtroopers trapped.
The struggle was brief. The crew members wailed and thrashed about as they were extracted one by one. The commander was hidden, tucked in a corner beneath his control panel, pinned underneath a chair. It was just as well for him. Even as the Tripod let go of the seemingly empty head and he hurtled to his death below in a fiery collision, he was spared the torment his men would have to suffer inside the Tripods themselves. These aliens were hungry to harvest their latest victims. They'd need the strength, too--the Empire certainly wasn't finished with these attackers.
The Tripods emerged victorious in a close battle, thanks in part to the intense, concentrated power of their Heat Rays and the durable armor afforded them by their force fields. The AT-ATs were still able to put up a threat with their heavy blasters and Durasteel armor, though. What really put the Tripods ahead was their vastly superior mobility, which enabled them to engage the Imperial forces at a distance of their choosing, while maintaining a level of accuracy with their Heat Rays that the AT-AT's blasters couldn't hope to achieve.