The Galactic Empire was known for its military might. In response to Operation Dominion they crushed the Secession Worlds in Legends, and even in Canon they replied to the Mid Rim Campaign in kind, culminating in the rout the Rebel Alliance at the Battle of Hoth. But the Battle of Endor changed that. Emperor Palpatine, Darth Vader, Fleet Admiral Piett, a Grand Moff, two Grand Admirals and four Imperial advisors died along with the second Death Star and the flagship of the Navy. The subsequent retreat from Endor allowed the Rebels to capture four Star Destroyers and saw Grand Moffs, Grand Admirals, Moffs and prominent admirals go rogue. But how far did it go? Continuity has taken a differing stance on the collapse of the Empire. In Canon, we have a violent and essentially insane counter offensive known as Operation Cinder, which accelerated the permanent death of the Empire to a mere year. The Battle of Jakku consisted of hundreds of Star Destroyers and their destruction represented the loss of the majority of the Navy that remained. In Legends it was a slow and almost inevitable decline, punctuated by resurgence’s under Thrawn and the reborn Palpatine, and ever increasing stretches of peace and ever shorter campaigns by the now-Imperial Remnant. After fifteen years the Remnant sued for peace, and within another eight the Deep Core Imperials were cleared out of the heart of the galaxy, scurrying to the Maw to continue their petty fantasies of an Imperial resurgence for another fifteen years. However. Their are various early entries into Legends that do not follow this approach. In an arguably minimalist approach, the Rebels advanced on Kuat while the Imperial Navy was busy at Endor in the Bounty Hunter Wars, the majority of the Imperial Navy surrendered in Shadows of the Empire: Evolution, and the Rebellion is widespread in the original Marvel comics, policing worlds such as Kashyyyk, let alone in early Dark Horse comics with the Rebels capturing Grand Moffs at Tandankin and fending off Imperial raids on Corellia, Mrlsst and Cilpar. Indeed, even later continuity saw the Rebels and Zann Consortium advance on Kuat wholesale, fighting a brawl over the Eclipse. Coruscant is portrayed especially differently in Shadows of the Empire: Evolution, which is essentially Imperial free not long after Endor. Meanwhile of course, as the Dark Horse comic run continues Emperor Sate Pestage rules from Coruscant six months after Endor, and Brentaal is being fought over in the Core. Added to that is the firming of continuity that sees the Empire routed from the Outer Rim (save for in the north) and the Core and Inner Rim full of fortress worlds. We do however get snippets of an Imperial recovery. Corellia is retaken by the Empire by the time of the Rogue Squadron novels, and Kuat is back in the Imperial fold, an event detailed in the New Essential Chronology. So what happened? I think it’s likely that what happened is precisely what we saw in Operation Domino and the Mid Rim Campaign, but on a much larger scale. The Galactic Empire by some accounts loses Coruscant, Kuat, Corellia, and worlds as prominent as Kashyyyk very soon after Endor. The Rebel Alliance is even incredibly active in the north, at Tandankin, defeating the Stenax Massacres, and winning the Battle of Tantive V. Mon Mothma makes the defence declarations, allowing sectors to maintain their own forces again, an act that Ackbar stated did more damage to the Empire than any one military campaign as they mass deserted - or fought brutal civil wars. In the six months between Endor and the Battle of Brentaal however, the Imperial Navy rallies. We oft wonder where the 25,000 Star Destroyers and millions of lesser ships went, let alone the fifty plus Dreadnoughts that Legends ended up creating. We see a Grand Admiral command a single Destroyer at Kashyyyk; a mere seven Victory-class warships on station at Coruscant; the 57 capital ships of the Azure Hammer Command evaporate; battles won by a handful of Star Cruisers or captured Star Destroyers time and time again; an era where a dozen capital ships means you’re a major target, where a Dreadnought and thirty Destroyers is armada enough to advance on the Core; where a sector in the very Colonies themselves can only command a Lancer frigate, a Strike Cruiser and an Immobiliser. But here we have a feasible solution - the Empire had to retake the Core. Coruscant, Kuat, and even Kashyyyk, they’re all back under Imperial control by the time of the Battle of Brentaal, and the sheer amount of troops needed to retake Coruscant cannot be underplayed. While the Alliance is busy with Lumiya, the Ssi-Ruuvi, Nagai and Tofs, the Galactic Empire deploys hundreds of Star Destroyers not to consolidate the Empire but to rebuild it. A titanic undertaking for a regime that is hulled, taking on water, and half the establishment has gone rogue. The ye old belief that the Empire sent 24 Star Destroyers to every one of the 1024 sectors and kept the rest for strategic concerns didn’t hold much weight in the Outer Rim, where we very rarely saw more than four Star Destroyers, but it does hold more weight if a great deal more is in the hands of the Grand Admirals and Grand Moffs. With twelve of the former and at least 22 of the latter, and the older sourcebooks suggesting Grand Moffs had up to 4 sector groups to their command, you’ve thousands of Star Destroyers committed to the establishment, which already undermines those in the Rim. So that’s my suggestion; that the Imperial Navy launched from its ports and orbiting positions and nexus points and retook half the galaxy. A colossal undertaking that crippled the Empire and allowed the still minuscule Rebel fleet to deploy a mere four task forces to slowly but surely undo the Empire. With a serious of brilliant bait and switches, tactical gambits and a steady and unrelenting pressure upon the Imperial throat, the New Republic reached the Core and found not a tenth of the Imperial Navy ready to crush them, but a few hundred Star Destroyers covering a vast region that was primed for freedom. Between two dozen Destroyers at Corellia and some forty across the worlds of Salliche Ag, a score at Kelada and Tangrene, a dozen and more each at Kuat and Bilbringi, and seven holding at Chandrila and Coruscant respectively, let alone a single Dreadnought at Anaxes, the Empire was fielding what remained of Death Squadron to stave off dozens of newly constructed Star Cruisers and a growing number of captured Imperial warships. Because they’d already reset their regime, expended titanic military strength just to draw a line in the Galactic sand, and even then they were still at over-stretch.