- "The universe is old. We are running out of time. I desire progress..."
Cylo was a humanoid male doctor who cybernetically enhanced himself into an immortal system capable of assuming another body when the previous one died. A scientist who believed that evolution was only possible for the universe if organic species were upgraded with cybernetics, Cylo dedicated his research to this goal. Having gained support from the Separatist-leaning Astartes of Celanon prior to the Clone Wars, he subsequently entered the service of Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine after the war ended with the Republic's victory and the inauguration of the Galactic Empire. For twenty years, the doctor worked to develop cybernetically-enhanced individuals who, without the need for the Force, could potentially replace Palpatine's apprentice, Darth Vader, as enforcers for the Empire.
In the wake of Vader's failure to stop the Rebel Alliance victories at Yavin 4 and Cymoon 1, the Emperor approved Cylo's plans to test his apprentice. Intrigued by his Master's mysterious new agent, Vader hired bounty hunter Black Krrsantan to track him down and discover the nature of his work for the Emperor. Captured and interrogated by Vader's agents, Cylo revealed the location of his research base before his fourth body died as a result of torture droid 0-0-0's lethal interrogation techniques. With the death of this body, Cylo-V was activated. Shortly after he awoke, Vader launched an assault on his base in order to eliminate the potential competition for his place as the Emperor's enforcer. Cylo broke off the fight between Vader and two of his enhanced subjects, Morit and Aiolin Astarte, and revealed his plans to the Sith Lord. The Emperor soon arrived, demanding a test of Cylo's subjects. Sufficiently impressed, Palpatine declared that he would have missions for all of them but that only one would win his favor and a place at his side.
Appointed to serve in the Imperial Military at the discretion of Grand General Cassio Tagge, Cylo's subjects served as operatives in the Empire's escalating war with the Rebel Alliance and various uprisings against the New Order while the doctor also served as a consultant. When the nobility of the mining world of Shu-Torun rose up against the Imperial-backed government of Queen Trios, the Emperor gave command of the military intervention to Vader while Tagge sent Cylo and his subjects to support the war effort. Frustrated with Vader's dismissal of him and determined to knock him out of the competition for a place as the Emperor's enforcer, Cylo conspired with the rebellious ore-dukes to isolate and kill the Dark Lord. Once his plans were discovered by the Sith Lord, Cylo and his remaining subjects were forced to flee, having been exposed as traitors.
As Vader tracked Cylo to the Crushank Nebulae, the scientist used the opportunity to launch an attempted hijack of the Executor, a Super Star Destroyer that he and the other scientists of the Tarkin Initiative had helped build. The Emperor, who had ordered Vader to destroy Cylo following the revelation of his treachery on Shu-Torun, was present to oversee the final stages of the new flagship's construction, making Cylo's attempt an effective coup against the Empire. However, Vader overcame all the assets Cylo sent against him, eliminating both his remaining subjects before confronting Cylo and his remaining clone bodies onboard his whale-ship and using a mind trick on the creature's brain to force it into a nearby sun. As Vader made his escape, Cylo's last remaining clone body desperately tried to change the whale-ship's course, burning up along with it when they crashed into the sun.
- "When the last didn't return, my next body was activated. I've created a personality map small enough to be simulated efficiently. Add memory banks and plug-in calculation systems, and I am an immortal system. I am something new. And far from human."
- ―Cylo-V, to Darth Vader
Doctor Cylo was a specialist in cybernetics whose research eventually led him to believe that technological superiority was inevitable, and that mystical aspects of the universe, such as the Force, were obsolete. To that aim, he began research on creating new forms of life, depending on technological augmentations, which he created using illegal alien parts smuggled to his research base in conjunction with cybernetic upgrades. His experiments eventually included himself when created a map of his personality, completed with memory banks and plug-in calculation systems, to make himself into an immortal system. As such, he could grow several upgraded bodies of himself; when one body died, another was activated at his research base with no memory of what had happened to the old body. By the time of the Battle of Yavin, Cylo had already lost three bodies and was using the one known as Cylo-IV.
Cylo's work had begun before the onset of the Clone Wars, during which time his work was funded by the Astarte line of Celanon. However, their support of the Separatist Alliance during the war earned them the wrath of the Galactic Empire once the war ended. The Astartes gave their children, Morit and Aiolin, to Cylo to protect them from Imperial reprisals. Cylo integrated the two children into his experiments, turning them into cybernetically-enhanced warriors.
Service to the Empire
At some point before the end of the Clone Wars, Cylo came to the attention of Supreme Chancellor Sheev Palpatine, who declared himself Galactic Emperor when the war ended. He was one of several scientists who was ordered by the new Emperor to save the life of Darth Vader, his critically-wounded apprentice, after his duel with Obi-Wan Kenobi on Mustafar. After a long night of operations, the scientists' technology successfully saved Vader's life by replacing his lost limbs with prosthetics and placing him in a mechanical armor which allowed him to breathe despite his badly-scorched lungs.
Intrigued by the scientists who had saved his apprentice, the Emperor kept them on to see what they could accomplish without the scrutinizing eyes of the Republic and the Jedi to limit them. As such, Cylo continued his research and his experiments with the full backing and financial support provided by the Emperor. He upgraded Morit and Aiolin with the best genetic enhancements, and the finest technology was integrated into their flesh. In addition, he provided them with training in lightsaber combat, allowing them to possess the abilities of the Jedi and Sith of old but without the need for the Force.
Cylo developed other subjects as well as Morit and Aiolin. Among his creations were a cybernetically-enhanced Mon Calamari named Commander Karbin. A veteran of the Clone Wars during which he had been injured when his ship was lost near the end of the conflict, Karbin had spent eighteen years on life support when Cylo decided to upgrade him about two years before the Battle of Yavin. He modeled his cybernetics on the cyborg General Grievous, the leader of the Separatist droid armies, whom he had always admired. This allowed Karbin to fight with four lightsabers much as Grievous had, while Cylo also included propulsors in his back to give him an edge in combat. The doctor also took an interest in a scientist named Tulon. Unlike his other subjects, she was not a warrior but a genius scientist who had been involved in high-level research and development work for the Empire, including the Tarkin Initiative and the Death Star project. Cylo enhanced her cerebellum and connected it to a series of drone-droids which she controlled through distributed intelligence in each individual drone. They allowed her to see and to fight as they provided both her weapons with incorporated blasters and defense capabilities through shield generators which they could deploy around her. As a result of her ability to see through her drone-cloud, Tulon adopted the name "Voidgazer." Cylo seemed particularly pleased with his work on Tulon, noting that she was already a genius when he augmented her but that her upgrades had made her even smarter.
In parallel to his sentient subjects, Cylo also developed a solution for what he believed was the biggest problem of enforcers: their tendency to die. Believing that only a system could succeed where an individual failed, he began work on a cyberanimation program. He developed a "trainer" artificial intelligence to guide a host's bestial instincts while removing any undesirable personality traits and even the ability to feel pain or other emotions. In Cylo's own words, the cyberanimate would feel only what his programmer wanted to feel. The doctor adapted this program to a Trandoshan but he believed that it could work on any host, even a rancor.
During his time with the Empire, Cylo was heavily involved with the Tarkin Initiative and worked closely with the other great Imperial minds, possibly contributing his service to the creation of the Death Star. He became close friends with Professor Thlu-Ry, who had been working on the battle station's alignment tests before the Battle of Yavin. His influence allowed him to develop his own fleet of upgraded spacefearing creatures, which he used as a research base and hid in various galactic nebulae. He also developed his own armed force to man his fleet and protect his creations. As a result of his involvement with these projects, the doctor had grown powerful and influential. He believed that his subjects were the future of the Empire, and he began pushing the Emperor to use them as enforcers in the place of Darth Vader, whom Cylo saw as a relic from a bygone age. Under his vision, Vader would be relocated to a ceremonial position as the Emperor's apprentice while his subjects enforced his will throughout the Empire. Unbeknownst to Cylo, the Emperor had began to be concerned with his growing influence within the Empire. Coming to see his reliance on the scientists as a mistake, he decided that it was time to remove Cylo as a potential threat. However, he could not act until the Death Star had been completed. As the doctor had many friends among the Empire's great minds, the Emperor feared removing him would cause a schism among the scientific community which he needed to accomplish his long-term plans. Although he continued to tolerate Cylo's presence in his persistence in trying to remove Darth Vader, Palpatine began to consider ways of removing the scientist without causing a rift among the scientific community.
Encounter with Vader
After Vader failed to prevent the Rebel Alliance from destroying the Death Star at the Battle of Yavin, his position in the Emperor's eyes was compromised. To make matters worse for the Sith Lord, he was unable to prevent the destruction of the Empire's Weapons Factory Alpha on Cymoon 1. In order to test Vader in the wake of his failures, Palpatine decided to consider Cylo's plans to replace his apprentice as an enforcer with one of his subjects and summoned Cylo, who was using his fourth body at the time known as Cylo-IV, to the Imperial Palace on Coruscant to discuss these plans. Vader who had been briefing the Emperor when Cylo-IV arrived demanded to know who he was but Palpatine denied him this information and sent him away. The Emperor decided to see which of Cylo's subjects or Vader impressed him most. The one who won the contest would win a place as his sole enforcer while the others would be removed. Cylo eagerly agreed to the challenge, confident that his future would beat the past represented by Vader. Secretly, the Emperor hoped that Cylo-IV would overplay his hand to make one of his subjects win the contest, which would allow him to paint him as a traitor. This would allow him to eliminate the problem the scientist had began to pose.
After Vader's meeting with Cylo-IV, he became suspicious of the Emperor's plans and hired the Wookiee bounty hunter Black Krrsantan to find and capture him. The bounty hunter succeeded in tracking down Cylo-IV and discovered that he was shipping illegal alien organs supplies to his secret base. Before he could discover the location of his base Cylo-IV found out that Wookiee was tracking him. Nonetheless, he was captured by the bounty hunter who brought him to Vader. Once Cylo-IV was captured, Vader ordered his new droid, 0-0-0, to torture the information about his work for the Emperor from him. 0-0-0 inadvertently killed Cylo-IV during the interrogation but not before discovering the location of his research base and the existence of his specimens. Cylo-IV's death led to the activation of his next body, Cylo-V.
Cylo's base was then attacked by Darth Vader along with his droid army and Doctor Aphra. Vader then went to the dojo and encountered Cylo's subjects, the twins Morit and Aiolin Astarte who he engaged in a duel. Cylo-V then arrived and stopped the duel. He revealed to Vader how he had survived and that he was not making replacements for him but rather enforcers for the Empire. He told him that he believed the Force to be obsolete and claimed that his subjects were in a way Vader's successors. Enraged by this Vader attempted to kill Cylo-V but was stopped by the Emperor who had arrived there.
The Emperor then told them that he wanted to see a presentation of Cylo's subjects. As Vader started fighting with the Astarte twins, Tulon Voidgazer, Commander Karbin, and a Trandoshan, Cylo told Palpatine about their special skills and abilities. As no one had gotten injured yet, Emperor Palpatine demanded a real presentation and told them to fight to the death. While Vader was fighting with the Trandoshan, Morit intervened and killed the enforcer. Palpatine then called a stop to the fight and told them that their mission was to defeat the enemies of the Empire not each other. He declared that they could not kill each other at least not with him knowing. With this, the Emperor along with his apprentice left. Cylo was then appointed to serve under Grand General Cassio Tagge in the Imperial Military.
Commander Karbin had tried to eliminate Vader during a battle on the planet Vrogas Vas but failed and was killed by him. Sometime later the Emperor ordered Cylo, on Tagge's insistence, to accompany Vader, along with his subjects, to Shu-Torun to stop the growing rebellion by the Ore-dukes. During their meeting, Cylo warned Vader that even if the Sith Lord makes a single mistake the Emperor will turn to him and his enforcers.
While they were discussing their strategy with Queen Trios, in the ancestral retreat of the Shu-Torun royalty, they were attacked by a vessel belonging to Lord Rubix, the leader of the rebellious Ore-Dukes. Darth Vader along with the Astarte twins managed to destroy the vessel. Later Cylo had a conversation with General Tagge about the war progress. Tagge remarked that Vader, while being effective had many flaws. He then advised Cylo that the victory at Shu-Torun must look like the victory of the Empire, not Vader's. Cylo, a little while later, betraying the Empire, contacted the Rebels and told them that he can provide them Vader in the Lithoporoite seam where the dukes could finish him off.
Vader, using a combat drill, led his troops and the Astarte twins to Rubix's delving citadel but the drill, having been sabotaged by Cylo, veered off course to the Lithoporoite stream where Rubix's forces were waiting to kill them. While the Sith Lord was battling Rubix's elite, Queen Trios, having presumed Vader dead, started preparations for the attack on the citadel but Cylo told her to call it off and recalled his troops. Vader managed to escape Cylo's trap with the two enforcers who turned on him. Vader fended off their attacks and Morit, seeing an opportunity killed his sister who in her dying breath revealed Cylo's treachery to Vader.
Trios attacked Rubix's citadel with her forces and was soon joined by Vader who had come with the Imperial forces. Cylo fled the planet during the battle along with Morit and Voidgazer. After defeating the Ore-Dukes, Vader informed the Emperor of Cylo's betrayal.
Personality and traits
- "Be grateful I did not program myself to be capable of holding an illogical grudge."
- ―Cylo-V, to Darth Vader
Cylo appeared to be human but had grafts from multiple species, notably the green scaly Rodian skin and black eye in place of his right eye. The rest of his skin was light, and he had grey hair and a light Van Dyke beard—a contrast to Cylo-IV, who had darker hair. He also had cybernetic implants across his head and neck.
Cylo believed that the universe needed to evolve and that progress was inevitable. He also believed that organic species were running out of time and that the Force was obsolete. He also continued the work of Cylo by creating new specimens who he planned to introduce as new enforcers for the Emperor. He believed that men like Vader lacked the vision to see that they needed to evolve, but that the Emperor did not lack that vision. However, he did believe that Vader represented a bridge between the "old world" and his new world, seeing as Vader was more machine than man.
Cylo also removed his tendency to hold grudges from his system, so he did not blame Vader for the death of Cylo-IV. Instead, he claimed that he would have done the same thing in Vader's place.
Behind the scenes
- "So basically, I cannot tell you anything about that dude, except that he's important, and he definitely has a Rodian's eye. We went back and forth on what sort of alien to put in there."
- ―Kieron Gillen, author of Star Wars: Darth Vader
Cylo first appeared in Darth Vader 1. The fact that he has a Rodian's eye and cybernetics is meant to imply "the sort of things this guy might get up to," according to Kieron Gillen. Gillen further stated that the creative team went back and forth on which type of alien look to use for the character's right eye, before finally settling on a Rodian. Comic book artist Salvador Larroca designed Cylo in his own image.
- Adventures in Wild Space: The Dark (Mentioned only)
- Darth Vader 1 (First appearance)
- Star Wars 4 (Indirect mention only)
- Doctor Aphra: An Audiobook Original (Voice only)
- Darth Vader 3 (Indirectly mentioned only; in the opening crawl)
- Darth Vader 5
- Darth Vader 6
- Darth Vader 7 (Indirectly mentioned only; in the opening crawl)
- Darth Vader 16
- Darth Vader 17
- Darth Vader 18
- Darth Vader 19 (Mentioned only)
- Darth Vader 20 (Mentioned only)
- Darth Vader 21
- Darth Vader 22
- Darth Vader 23
- Darth Vader 24
- Darth Vader 25
- The Screaming Citadel 1 (Mentioned only)
- Doctor Aphra Annual 1 (Mentioned only)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 29 (Weapons & Uniforms: Imperial Fleet)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 31 (Databank A-Z: Kaminoans–King Katuunko)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 34 (Databank A-Z: Davish Krail–Kuat Drive Yards)
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 52 (Databank A-Z: Hera Syndulla–Ahsoka Tano)
- Star Wars: The Complete Visual Dictionary, New Edition
- Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition
- "Darth Vader" – Star Wars Encyclopedia
- "BB-8 and Other Astromech Droids" – Star Wars Encyclopedia