- "I don't need to hate you in order to beat you. That's something I will teach you now."
"You can teach me nothing."
- ―Galen Marek and Darth Vader
A final confrontation between the Sith Lord Darth Vader and his former apprentice, Galen Marek, occurred on the first Death Star in 2 BBY, at the dawn of the Galactic Civil War between the Empire and the Rebel Alliance. Following the capture of the Rebel founders on Corellia, the apprentice was betrayed and left for dead by his master. In retaliation, Marek re-embraced his Jedi heritage and pursued the Dark Lord of the Sith to the Empire's incomplete battlestation, intending to save his new-found allies and—by extension—the Rebellion itself.
Breaching the inner defenses of the Death Star, the apprentice killed numerous stormtroopers and other Imperial soldiers before reaching the Imperial throne room where he confronted Darth Vader in single combat. In a contest of both skill and power, Vader was ultimately bested and found himself at the mercy of his former apprentice. Vader's own master, Darth Sidious—better known to the galaxy as Emperor Palpatine—not only praised Marek's victory, but also attempted to hypnotically compel the apprentice into killing his grievously damaged and defenseless master. In Marek, Sidious saw the opportunity to replace his hobbled enforcer with a younger and more powerful disciple. Jedi General Rahm Kota, one of the prisoners captured on Corellia, sensed the Emperor's intentions, however, and tried to prevent the apprentice from falling to the allure of the dark side once more. The distraction worked to break Sidious's hold on Marek, who then confronted the Dark Lord in defense of his friends. Refusing to allow the Jedi to claim the apprentice's potential for their own gain, an enraged Sidious tried to kill Kota with Sith lightning. Marek protected his mentor by absorbing the energy into his own body, but at the cost of his own life. In order to prevent a squad of stormtroopers from killing the Rebels, Marek unleashed the power of the Force from within himself, and then died as a result of the explosion.
The Rebel leaders—senators-turned-fugitives Bail Prestor Organa, Garm Bel Iblis, and Mon Mothma—were evacuated from the Death Star in the apprentice's starship, Rogue Shadow, piloted by former Captain Juno Eclipse of the Imperial Navy. Together with Kota, the group rendezvoused on Galen Marek's home planet, the Wookiee world of Kashyyyk, where they formally declared the birth of the Rebel Alliance. In honor of their fallen leader's sacrifice, the new organization adopted Marek's family crest as their emblem; a symbol of hope for those who yearned for the restoration of the Galactic Republic.
Darth Sidious, far from pleased with the untimely demise of Darth Vader's apprentice, was even more irate upon the realization that the Empire would have to actually fight a civil war against an insurrection that was secretly masterminded by the Sith Order—namely Sidious and Vader through Marek as their proxy. Forced to tolerate Vader's existence for a while longer, the Emperor tasked Darth Vader with the complete destruction of the newly formed Alliance, fearing that the Rebellion could destroy the New Order that the Sith built after centuries of plotting the downfall of the Jedi Order and their Republic.
- Juno Eclipse: "Am I going to see you again?"
- Galen Marek: "If I can free the Rebels, they'll need extraction… Probably not, no."
- Eclipse: "Then I guess I'll never need to live this down."
- Marek: "Good-bye, Juno."
- ―Juno Eclipse and Galen Marek[src]
In 2 BBY, several disillusioned members of the Imperial Senate—most notably Bail Prestor Organa of Alderaan, Garm Bel Iblis of Corellia, and Mon Mothma of Chandrila—determined that the Galactic Empire was irreversibly corrupt and ultimately illegitimate; a perversion of the Old Republic established by Emperor Palpatine in his desire to rule the galaxy through fear and control. Hence, they unanimously agreed to join a growing rebellion led by a mysterious Forceful being known only as "Starkiller." Unknown to the rebellious senators, however, was that their leader was the secret Sith apprentice of Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the Sith and the Emperor's chief enforcer. The apprentice, believing that he and his Sith Master would assassinate the Emperor once he was distracted by an army of insurrectionists, assembled the Rebel leaders on Corellia where they planned to declare the formation of the Alliance to Restore the Republic.
Then a heavily armed Imperial force arrived. Led by Darth Vader, a group of snowtroopers apprehended the senators, including Jedi Master Rahm Kota, as the Sith Lord confronted his stunned apprentice. Shocked and embittered by the revelation that his master's plot against the Emperor had been a ruse, Starkiller realized that his only purpose in Vader's eyes was to gather the Emperor's enemies in one location in order for the Empire to capture them all in one fell swoop. When Vader moved to strike down the apprentice with his lightsaber, he suddenly found himself confronted by the holodroid PROXY, disguised as his former Jedi Master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. The duel was brief, however, and Vader left both PROXY and his former apprentice for dead.
But Starkiller survived and was rescued by Juno Eclipse, the pilot of the Rogue Shadow. Burdened by guilt for manipulating the Rebels and motivated by resentment over Vader's treachery, the apprentice renounced his allegiance to the Sith and the dark side of the Force and proclaimed himself a Jedi. As such, he reclaimed his birth name of Galen Marek, the only son of the deceased Jedi Knights Kento and Mallie Marek. In his first and last successful attempt to glimpse future events, the apprentice experienced a premonition that revealed the location of the Rebel leaders; Darth Vader had taken them to be personally executed by the Emperor on a secret battlestation orbiting the prison planet Despayre in the Horuz system. Equivalent to the size of a small moon, the Death Star was still under construction by the time Marek and Eclipse arrived to retrieve the senators. Fearing that she would never see the apprentice another again, Eclipse kissed Marek before the latter dived into the Death Star's atmosphere.
- "It's time, Master. You stole my life and left me for dead, and now I'm coming for you…"
- ―Galen Marek
Shortly after landing on the surface of the Death Star, the apprentice ambushed a patrol of stormtroopers escorting a group of Wookiee slaves on the equatorial trench. With the execution of the Rebel prisoners imminent, the apprentice chose to free the slaves in exchange for the fastest route to the Emperor's throne room. With the Imperials distracted by a slave revolt, a small band of Wookiees guided Marek deeper into the battlestation, toward his captive allies. Along the way, Marek single-handedly destroyed an AT-AT walker while the Wookiees fired their stolen E-11 blaster rifles on the stormtroopers who converged on the scene. As another two walkers approached, Marek ordered his allies to fall back. Three of the four Wookiees followed him; one had been killed in the firefight. Another Wookiee was fatally shot as they fell back, although the remaining two managed to regroup with the apprentice. After retreating to a safe distance, the apprentice telekinetically triggered the downed AT-AT to explode, expending all its stored munitions in a single blast. This triggered several more explosions, destroying all of the stormtroopers in the area, along with the walkers and several TIE fighters. Afterward, the two remaining Wookiees guided Marek through an accessway and brought him close to an exhaust port that would lead the apprentice where he needed to go. After thanking them for their assistance, the apprentice proceeded alone.
The apprentice soon reached the exhaust port, only to find it guarded by a full squadron of highly alert troopers, along with two laser cannons and several walkers. Using the Force to distract the soldiers, the apprentice killed both gunners before using one of the cannons to disable the nearest walker. While the guards scrambled for cover, the apprentice destroyed a second walker, and then a third one by the time reinforcements flooded the area from every direction. Before entering the exhaust port, he programmed the cannon to continue firing at random, thus covering his escape as several TIE fighters converged on its location.
As the apprentice continued toward the Emperor's throne room, he encountered several small groups of stormtroopers, all of which were dispatched with ease. After dispatching another large Imperial force stationed inside a hangar, the apprentice entered a large laser tube, which he realized was one of several components connected to the superstructure's massive laser system. With the system being test-fired every few minutes, the apprentice had to take care not to get caught in the laser beam. He also had to disable four tractor-beam reactor couplings to save Juno Eclipse and the Rogue Shadow, as she ended up caught in the Death Star's tractor beams and unable to get out of range. Upon completing this, he also eliminated a squadron of TIE fighters by throwing explosive canisters at them telekinetically before narrowly evading a superlaser beam in one of the tunnels he dived into. After several treks, he eventually ended up in a massive AT-AT hangar, where he took care of several Imperial forces, including a freshly deployed AT-ST, before continuing on. By the time he reached the top of the laser tube, he had realized the battlestation's full power. The laser he had previously observed was just one of eight tributary lasers that converged to create a beam powerful enough to destroy an entire planet. Convinced that the Death Star's only purpose was to unleash mass genocide across the galaxy, the apprentice briefly considered destroying the station on his own. He dismissed the idea, however, believing that such a task ultimately fell to the Rebel Alliance.
Before the apprentice could enter the observation deck that contained the throne room, he was forced to contend with another large number of Imperial soldiers, consisting of stormtroopers, scout troopers, jumptroopers, Purge troopers, and two AT-ST walkers. Destroying all opposition in his path, the final obstacle in his path consisted of several members of the Imperial Royal Guard, led by a single Shadow Guard. After killing all of the guardsmen, the apprentice entered the hallway leading to the throne room, preparing for the final confrontation between himself and his former master.
The fall of Darth Vader
- "Yes! Kill him! He was weak, broken! Kill him and you can take your rightful place at my side!"
- ―Darth Sidious, urging Galen Marek to kill Darth Vader
Immediately prior to the apprentice's arrival, Palpatine informed the imprisoned Rebel Alliance leaders that he intended to execute them, although not before torturing them to glean information on any other allies and friends that the Rebel leaders possessed. When Organa claimed that the Emperor's killing them would only foment more resistance, Palpatine dismissed him, certain that their executions (which he promised would be public and very painful) would crush any form of dissent and serve as an example for the rest of the galaxy. Kota sensed Marek's arrival and mused that there could still be a true rebellion.
The apprentice entered the throne room, surprising his captured allies and the two Sith Lords. He was not fooled by the Emperor's seemingly frail appearance; in Darth Sidious, he sensed the immense power of the dark side of the Force. Regardless, it was Darth Vader alone who caught his full attention, causing the apprentice's bitterness to turn into a desire for revenge. Even as the Emperor ordered Vader to kill Marek, the Dark Lord moved to confront his former student, intending to finish what he failed to do on Corellia.
Despite numerous sparing sessions and psychological battles in the past, Marek was caught by surprise by the sheer severity of his master's first attack. The apprentice was well familiar with Darth Vader's refined form of Djem So, but the Dark Lord's physical strength was powerful enough to jar his wrists and shoulders, nearly disarming him in the process. But whereas Vader was strong and relentless, the apprentice was fast and agile. Taking a mostly defensive stance against his master's brutal attacks, Marek occasionally taunted Vader in the hopes of breaking his concentration. At the same time, they both utilized telekinesis against one another, occasionally hurling missiles and other projectiles back and forth. For a time, neither could gain the advantage, despite their knowledge of the Force or their skills with a lightsaber.
During their duel, the apprentice could not help but feel respect for his master's fighting skills. When not holding back, Darth Vader employed nothing less than a lethal attack. Marek also realized that he and Vader finally had the opportunity to test their full potential against one another, given that their previous duels typically ended with Vader restraining himself or the apprentice capitulating the fight. As the two continued to fight, Marek declared that his goal was to kill Vader, but only out of pity rather than hatred. From the apprentice's point of view, he and his master shared more in common than he initially considered. Both were made to suffer and submit to the dark side by a Sith Master. But whereas Marek embraced redemption as a Jedi, Vader could not find the will to break free of the Emperor's control. Refusing to be a slave of the Sith any longer, the apprentice vowed to free his former master by taking his life.
Vader redoubled the intensity of his attacks, but the apprentice counterattacked with a blast of Force lightning and broke his master's momentum. The Sith Lord responded by trying to telekinetically choke Marek, causing the apprentice to retaliate with a powerful push to the chest, sending Vader backward across the observation dome. As the duel continued, Marek steadily gained the advantage. Vader tried to pull back, but his former apprentice intensified the frequency of his attacks to keep the Dark Lord on his back foot. It was then that the apprentice saw the opening that they had both waited for; Vader's speed was hindered too much by his own armor and prosthetic replacements. He was too slow to block an attack to the torso, thus allowing the apprentice's blade to slash across his armored throat.
The Dark Lord staggered backward with his gloved hand covering the wound, and was as surprised as the apprentice by the success of the attack. Feeling a mixture of anger and triumph, Marek went on the offensive in an attempt to capitalize on his gain. His master's defenses quickly weakened, allowing the apprentice to cut a deep wound across Darth Vader's shoulder and another into his thigh. In spite of his refusal to accept defeat, Vader was no longer capable of maintaining the fight. The apprentice telekinetically ripped the Sith's lightsaber away from his hand and used the Force to raise him in the air. A barrage of missiles under the apprentice's control attacked Vader from every corner of the room; each hit was stronger than the last. Then the apprentice hurled an energy field generator at his master, causing an explosion that the Sith Lord just barely survived.
Moments after the blast, the apprentice emerged unscathed to discover that the fight was over. Darth Vader lay gravely injured; both his armor and vital respiratory system were heavily damaged. Much of his mask and helmet had also been ripped away by the blast, thus allowing the apprentice to see the true face of his mentor for the first time. Marek was taken aback by what he saw as a shockingly pitiful sight: that Darth Vader was actually a deformed old man whose pale skin was covered in wrinkles and old scar tissue; an amalgamation of man and machine was what hid behind the armored suit. In Vader's eyes, Marek saw only agony and exhaustion.
With Darth Vader defeated and held at the mercy of his apprentice, the Emperor emerged and reached out through the Force to Galen Marek. Acknowledging the fact that Marek was a far more powerful asset than Vader—broken and diminished in the Force due to his condition—Darth Sidious encouraged the apprentice to claim his revenge by striking his former master down in anger. As the Emperor's hypnotic suggestion flowed through the apprentice, Marek began to seriously consider Sidious's offer. The temptation of the dark side's allure not withstanding, there was a side to the apprentice that yearned to seize the title and position of a true Sith Lord.
Before he could make a decision, however, Rahm Kota charged at the Emperor in an attempt to prevent the apprentice's return to the dark side. Using the Force to steal the Emperor's lightsaber, Kota killed several Imperial Guards before attempting to kill Darth Sidious with the Dark Lord's own weapon. In response, Sidious unleashed a barrage of Sith lightning on Kota. The General's interference broke the Emperor's hold over Marek, who ultimately realized that he no longer wanted anything to do with the dark side, especially after seeing the effects it had on Darth Vader. Having made his choice to remain with the Jedi and the Rebel Alliance, Galen Marek moved to attack the Emperor, but only to defend his friends.
- "You were destined to destroy me. Do it! Give in to your hatred!"
- ―Darth Sidious to Galen Marek
The apprentice broke off the Emperor's attack on Kota by hurling pieces of broken transparisteel and debris at him. As Marek approached him, Sidious praised the apprentice and urged him to embrace the dark side once more—this time by killing him. With Kota's help, the apprentice restrained himself from striking the Emperor down in anger. Before they could escape to safety, Darth Sidious attacked Kota with Force lightning once more in a final attempt to prevent Marek from joining the Jedi and Rebel Alliance.
Before Sidious could kill Kota, Marek moved in front of the lightning to protect his Jedi mentor, causing him to absorb the energy and redirect it back to its source. For a moment, both the Emperor and the apprentice were locked in an exchange of Force lightning and as a result, experienced excruciating pain. As the Rebels retreated into the Rogue Shadow, a squadron of stormtroopers converged on the scene and attempted to prevent the prisoners' escape. Their efforts were thwarted by Marek, who released a massive shock wave of energy from his own body. By the time the Rogue Shadow escaped to safety with the Rebels on board, the explosion had engulfed most of the observation deck. Although every stormtrooper within proximity of the blast was killed, Sidious and Vader both survived the explosion and began searching the wreckage until they found Marek's dead body.
Neither of the two Sith Lords were pleased by Galen Marek's demise. In addition to the Emperor's failure to replace Darth Vader with Marek, Sidious believed that the apprentice's sacrifice would inspire the Rebel Alliance to wage a full-scale galactic civil war against the Empire. Crushing the Jedi lightsaber of his fallen apprentice beneath his heel, Vader vowed to exterminate his master's enemies before the fledgling rebellion could overthrow the Sith regime.
- "He is dead."
"Then he is now more powerful than ever. He was meant to root out the Rebels, not give them hope. His sacrifice will only inspire them."
- ―Darth Vader and Darth Sidious
In the wake of Galen Marek's death, the Rebel leaders reconvened on Kashyyyk, the Wookiee homeworld and also the birthplace of Darth Vader's fallen apprentice. Within the former hut of the Marek family, the senators—Bail and Leia Organa, Garm Bel Iblis, and Mon Mothma—agreed to combine their resources in order to create the Rebel Alliance. Rahm Kota, who had acknowledged to Juno Eclipse that the apprentice became one with the Force, brought the former Imperial Captain to view the official emblem that the Alliance's founders had chosen for their new organization; the Marek family crest, proposed by Leia Organa in memory of the apprentice and his sacrifice for the Rebellion.
With Marek dead, Darth Vader conceived a plot to create a new version of his late apprentice—one more powerful and obedient than the original Starkiller. Utilizing the genetic material of Marek's preserved corpse, the Sith Lord attempted to create a clone who could take Marek's place as Vader's personal assassin. The various imperfections in the accelerated cloning process, combined with the inherent difficulty of cloning a Force-sensitive template, stalled the project for months and forced Vader to repeat the procedure numerous times until the flaws could be corrected. The result was a series of failed copies, physically deformed and mentally deranged. The more stable versions were personally trained by Vader, but ultimately failed to overcome the memory imprints that they inherited from their progenitor. One such clone escaped from Kamino in 1 BBY after his creator judged him to be another failure. Despite the loss of the renegade clone, the project ultimately produced a single test subject who succeeded in his trials to become Darth Vader's new apprentice, however, the Dark Apprentice was never heard from again, like Starkiller, Juno Eclipse, and Rahm Kota.
The battle itself caused great damage to the Death Star, delaying the battlestation's operation. In 0 BBY, shortly before the Death Star was destroyed during the Battle of Yavin, Vader said that no one would stop the Galactic Empire to operate the Death Star this time, remembering when Marek damaged the station two years before.
Behind the scenes
The events of the battle differ between the two game versions and the novel. Unlike the Star Wars: The Force Unleashed novelization, where Galen Marek lands in an equatorial trench and ignites a Wookiee slave uprising, the Xbox 360/PS3 version of Star Wars: The Force Unleashed depicts the start of Marek's mission in one of the Death Star's hangars. In the PS2/Wii version, Marek lands on a bridge before entering the battlestation. This article attempts to incorporate elements of all three interpretations of the Battle on Death Star I.
Further variations are found in Marek's fight with Emperor Palpatine. Whereas the Emperor wields his lightsaber against Marek in the PS2/Wii version, he only utilizes Force lightning, telekinesis, and the assistance of Imperial Senate Guards and Royal Guards in the Xbox 360/PS3 version. Marek's finishing move on Palpatine also varied slightly. Unlike both game versions, there is no prolonged battle between Marek and Palpatine in the novelization. The apprentice merely ambushes the Emperor with a telekinetic attack, causing Palpatine to feign weakness and defeat soon afterward.
- "You have betrayed your master and your allies both; I knew you would betray me as well! And now, you have doomed yourself and your friends!"
- ―Palpatine to Starkiller
In the alternate ending, non-canon in the Legends continuity, of this battle in The Force Unleashed, Marek chooses to finish off Vader, turning to the dark side once again to avenge Vader's two betrayals of him and his father.
After another long battle, Marek strips Vader of his lightsaber, as he did as a child, and impales him with it. Marek then returns to the main platform, where the Emperor is standing over an injured Kota. He instructs the apprentice to kill Kota in order to destroy his ties to the Jedi, promising Marek he would at last become a Sith Lord. Marek ignites his lightsaber, ready to strike down the blind General Kota, but, instead, in a moment of regret, he tries to kill Palpatine. However, Palpatine immediately ignites his own saber, easily deflecting the attack, and declares that he had foreseen the attack and knew that Marek would attempt to kill him. Palpatine breaks their saber lock, lifts Marek into the air, electrocuting him for a few moments before throwing him through a window out onto the landing platform, just as the Rogue Shadow flies in to rescue the rebel leaders. Staggering on the ground, Marek sees that Bail Organa and the other Rebel leaders have already been killed. Palpatine takes the opportunity to take the Shadow in his grasp and hurl it at Marek. It is likely that Juno Eclipse and the wounded Rahm Kota were killed in the blast.
Marek wakes up on an operating table—much like the one his former master Darth Vader rested on, while his suit was constructed—to find himself wearing his own suit of armor, presumably the only thing keeping him alive. The Emperor stands before him, saying he expected more from Marek, and thought he could have one day become one of the greatest Sith in the galaxy, even his successor, but, now, Marek will simply be his new servant, doing the Emperor's bidding, until he is eventually cast aside, just as Vader was. Marek screams in agony as his suit is completed. Following this, he became Lord Starkiller, Darth Vader's successor and Emperor Palpatine's Sith Assassin. Lord Starkiller's story is then told in Star Wars: The Force Unleashed: Ultimate Sith Edition.
- The Force Unleashed novel (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed comic (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed video game
- The Force Unleashed II novel (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope (Indirect mention only) (Retcon)
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Guide to Warfare (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide: Updated and Expanded
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- Star Wars: Age of Rebellion Core Rulebook