- "Maybe we don't need to sabotage the weapon after all. This whole thing is a disaster waiting to happen."
- ―Crix Madine, on the Darksaber
The Darksaber battlestation was a superweapon built by the crime lord Durga the Hutt in 12 ABY. A member of the Besadii kajidic, Durga wanted to use the superweapon to hold ransom entire planets and spread his influence throughout the galaxy. Based on the set of plans for the original Death Star battlestation stolen by Durga from the former Imperial Information Center on the galactic capital of Coruscant, the Darksaber was designed by the engineer Bevel Lemelisk, the creator of the Death Star and a number of other superweapons. Lemelisk adjusted the plans to the Hutt's wishes, removing all the Imperial padding and leaving only the central superlaser weapon, encased in a cylindrical durasteel shell. The resulting shape closely resembled that of the lightsaber, the traditional weapon of the Jedi Knights, so Lemelisk christened his creation accordingly: the Darksaber.
Located in the Hoth asteroid field, the Darksaber Project, as it was also known, was financed by Orko SkyMine Asteroid Processing Corporation, a faux corporation owned by Durga. However, the construction of the superweapon was plagued with difficulties. The materials purchased from low-bid contractors were of poor quality; the computer cores provided by Durga's ally, Sulamar, were outdated; and the hive-minded Taurill species who assembled the Darksaber were often distracted, and, as a result, tended to make mistakes in the construction. As he witnessed this, Lemelisk started to lose faith in his project, but he continued with the work in fear of displeasing Durga, and construction on the Darksaber dragged to the closing stages. By that time, the New Republic became aware of Durga's superweapon and tracked his yacht to the Darksaber's construction site. A three-man commando team led by General Crix Madine was subsequently dispatched to sabotage the weapon and leave it adrift in space until a larger fleet could arrive to destroy it.
The New Republic team failed in its mission, however, and two members of the team were killed, while Madine was captured and brought before Durga on the Darksaber's bridge, where he was executed as well. Just as Madine was shot by Durga, a New Republic strike force led by General Wedge Antilles arrived to engage the Darksaber. Certain that his weapon was fully functional, Durga commanded his crew to take it into the asteroid belt in order to evade pursuit, while Lemelisk, who was not so sure about the Darksaber's operational status, escaped. As Antilles's forces attacked the Darksaber, Durga took his weapon into the most dangerous part of the asteroid field, where the Darksaber's way was blocked by two massive asteroids. Durga tried to use the superlaser to clear the path, but the weapon did not work, and the Darksaber was crushed by the asteroids. Lemelisk was, in turn, captured by Antilles's forces, and, after a trial, was executed for war crimes.
- "It's huge. I understand it now, what they've done—they got rid of the extraneous superstructure and channeled all of the power directly into the superlaser. This weapon should be more maneuverable than the Death Star, more easily recharged, able to fire more frequently."
- ―Former Imperial weapons designer Qwi Xux
A massive battlestation, the Darksaber Project, or simply known as the Darksaber, was a superweapon conceived by Durga the Hutt and designed by the engineer Bevel Lemelisk. The Darksaber was constructed as a stripped-down version of the first Death Star battlestation, which had also been developed by Lemelisk. Once he came under Durga's employ, Lemelisk modified the Death Star's plans to accommodate the Hutt's needs. Since Durga wanted only the main superlaser weapon with the ability to destroy entire planets, Lemelisk removed all the unnecessary detail—such as the extraneous superstructure, turbolasers, and other surface defenses, as well as numerous personnel quarters, TIE fighter hangars, and docking ports—from the original Imperial design. He also scaled down the project and made the superlaser the center of the construction, with the minimum required structure built around it. The Darksaber was, essentially, the superlaser encased in a kilometers-long cylindrical shell made of durasteel. Lemelisk also moved the superlaser's focusing eye so that the beam could be released directly out of the weapon's end, thus making a straight shot through the superlaser that allowed for greater energy conversion, and, as a result, potentially greater firepower and recharge rate than the Death Star's superlaser. The Darksaber was more maneuverable and easier to operate; it needed only a thousandth of the computer systems that the original Death Star had required. However, the Darksaber's computer cores were outdated and did not function properly.
Although the center of the Darksaber was its superlaser, Lemelisk's design still included a small outer ring of living quarters that could hold up to a hundred Hutts with their entourages. The superweapon was also equipped with necessary propulsion facilities, which consisted of a number of large engines located at its rear and separated from the weapon's interior by a thick shielding wall. Behind the wall were located special engine sections that contained the Darksaber's guidance computers, protected by a thin, transparent, flexible mesh. The guidance computers consisted of giant banks of circuit boards, with supercooled air blown through the hot circuitry. Those computers were also connected to the security alarm system that responded to any security breach. Lemelisk personally designed the alarm's sound to be unpleasant and attention-grabbing. However, the system was prone to false alarms due to inept construction. Such shoddy workmanship also resulted in dangling wires, darkened glowpanels, non-working computer terminals, and clouds of steam that was either intentionally vented or was simply leaking from reactor cores, throughout the Darksaber.
Among the Darksaber's other systems were a waste heat exhaust system, an inner communications system, a network of outer sensors, and a life support system capable of sustaining a skeleton crew. It was outfitted with a turbolift system that allowed for easy passage throughout the massive structure. Lemelisk possessed a personal office aboard the superweapon, with little furniture or any other furnishings. There were at least two docking bays: a construction access bay and Lemelisk's personal launching bay. A small one-person spherical scooter was kept aboard the superweapon and could be launched from either of the two bays. The entire project was operated from a central control deck on its bridge, with several crew members manning the computer consoles from their stations there, while kept strapped to booby-trapped chairs. The chairs were linked to Durga's personal levitating platform; by using his personal remote controller, Durga could execute any crewmember with whom he was displeased, sending a fatal charge of electricity through the individual's body that instantly burned the victim to death.
- "With such a weapon we will be invincible. We can collect protection money, taxes, whatever. We can hold entire systems hostage. No one will be able to stand against us."
"We can become the overlords of the galaxy!"
- ―Sulamar and Durga
The Darksaber was the brainchild of the Hutt crime lord Durga Besadii Tai of the Besadii kajidic. In the wake of the deaths of two of the most influential figures of the criminal underworld, Jabba Desilijic Tiure and Prince Xizor, Durga secured control over the remaining Hutt clans for the Besadii, and he achieved a position of leadership in the Black Sun criminal syndicate. Having become intoxicated with the power that he had achieved, Durga wanted to spread his influence even further, eclipsing the memory of the legendary Hutt conqueror Kossak Inijic Ar'durv. To that end, he wanted to construct a planet-destroying superweapon with which he would be able to ransom entire worlds and destroy his enemies, as part of his "out-reach" program. Through the Bothan Spynet, Durga located Bevel Lemelisk, the designer of the first and second Death Stars as well as other Imperial superweapons, and recruited him for the project.
At some point in his life, Durga had also discovered the hive-minded Taurill species, which was controlled by the collective consciousness called The Overmind. The Overmind was interested in spreading individual Taurills throughout the galaxy, as this would allow itself to grow. Durga promised The Overmind to help it achieve its goals, and in exchange was assigned thousands of Taurills, whom he trained as his pets and intended to use in the construction of the superweapon. The Hutt also entered an alliance with the so-called Imperial "General" Sulamar—in reality, a low ranking technician—who bragged about his nonexistent heroic exploits and promised to provide the Hutt with computer cores for the project. Durga then put together Orko SkyMine Asteroid Processing Corporation, a sham organization whose official purpose was the exploitation of the Hoth asteroid field's natural resources. In fact, all of the corporation's funding went to the construction of the weapon, which began inside the asteroid belt in 12 ABY. Lemelisk developed the Automated Mineral Exploiters, machines that were created to harvest minerals from the asteroids and convert them to construction supplies. Four such vessels were produced, although two of them—Exploiters Alpha and Beta—accidentally destroyed each other due to an error in programming.
In order to begin construction, Lemelisk still needed the most important thing: the plans for the original Death Star, which were stored by the New Republic in the former Imperial Information Center on the galactic capital of Coruscant. Durga knew that the late Jabba had the passwords to the Center's secret databanks stored in his palace on the planet Tatooine, so he organized expeditions to Jabba's former home to retrieve them. Under the guise of negotiating with New Republic Chief of State Leia Organa Solo, Durga then made the journey to Coruscant to obtain the plans. While the Hutt distracted Organa Solo, his Taurills accessed the files in the Information Center and copied the Death Star's schematics to a data cylinder, and the Hutt safely handed them to Lemelisk upon his return to the asteroid field. Having analyzed the plans, Lemelisk made the necessary adjustments to the design, in compliance with the Hutt's needs. The resultant cylinder-shaped construct closely resembled the weapon of the Jedi Knights, the lightsaber, so Lemelisk chose an equally suitable name for his creation, the Darksaber.
Construction and destruction
- "My Darksaber is finished. I've had enough waiting around here. Let us begin our sweep across the galaxy and begin collecting our due."
The Darksaber was an ambitious project, but its realization was flawed. The Taurill were clever and hard-working, but were often distracted by passing asteroids or smuggler ships, and each member of the species was unable to see beyond the particular part that it was working on. The result was shoddy construction, with parts of the weapon built in the wrong place, or the wrong way, or left out altogether, and having to be rebuilt. On one occasion, the Taurills' distraction resulted in an entire section of the Darksaber's outer framework being assembled incorrectly: girders were welded to incorrect counterparts, the computer core receptacle was connected to the waste-heat exhaust, and superlaser anchor points were offset ninety degrees from each other, which was a completely wrong configuration. Lemelisk found himself forced to rebuild that section from scratch, further offsetting the overall construction. Fearful of Durga's wrath, Lemelisk did not tell him about the delay. Durga, however, did not personally oversee the project, having delegated that responsibility to Sulamar, who was too busy enjoying his authority to notice the mix-up.
Moreover, the metal plating for the Darksaber's durasteel hull had been bought from low bid contractors, and it had millions of micro-holes in it. Another aspect that further complicated the construction was the fact that Sulamar's computer cores were outdated and malfunctioning. Lemelisk was initially hopeful that he would be able to make them operational, but he found himself having to constantly reprogram and back them up. As Lemelisk witnessed those flaws, he began to lose faith that his creation would ever work. Somehow, though, the project began nearing its completion. Eventually, the New Republic heard rumors of the Darksaber's creation, and General Crix Madine was assigned to investigate. While Durga met with Organa Solo on the planet Nal Hutta, Madine planted a tracking device on the Hutt's private yacht. When Durga returned from the meeting to the Darksaber, Madine and a two-man commando team followed him to the Hoth asteroid belt in A-wing starfighters.
Although one commando, Korenn, died when his ship collided with one of the asteroids, Madine and another member of the team, Trandia, reached the Darksaber. They clung to the weapon's exterior in their survival suits and, after peeling off a loose plate, infiltrated the Darksaber. In an effort to sabotage the weapon, the two reached its engine section. Madine attempted to plant explosives on the guidance computers, hoping that destroying them would leave the Darksaber immobile until a New Republic fleet could arrive and deal with it. However, Madine's intrusion triggered an alarm, and several guards appeared. The two saboteurs hid themselves, but Trandia suddenly revealed herself and detonated her explosives, hoping to destroy the engines and buy Madine time to escape. She failed, however, as the thick containment wall protected the engines from the explosion. Madine tried to escape himself but was captured and brought before Durga on the Darksaber's bridge. When he was captured, a transmitter implanted inside his body sent a distress signal to the New Republic fleet. Following the transmission, General Wedge Antilles led a strike force from the bridge of his flagship, the Nebulon-B frigate Yavaris, to the Hoth asteroid field to rescue Madine and destroy the Darksaber.
Antilles arrived too late in the Hoth system to rescue Madine, who was executed by Durga. The Hutt then decided that it was time to bring the Darksaber online. Lemelisk advised him against doing so, pointing out that the weapon was not yet tested, but Durga was unmoved and was confident that nothing could go wrong. Believing otherwise, Lemelisk promptly escaped aboard his private inspection scooter under the pretense of going to monitor the superlaser. Soon, the Darksaber's sensors picked up the New Republic fleet approaching from the asteroid field. Durga ordered Sulamar, whom he had forced to pilot the superweapon, to evade pursuit in the asteroid belt, while charging the superlaser in order to be ready to fire at the attacking fleet. Afraid of disobeying Durga, who threatened him with execution, Sulamar complied and barely navigated through the sea of asteroids for some time. However, the New Republic forces soon caught up with the Darksaber and attacked it, slowly piercing through its cheap armor with each fired shot. In an attempt to evade the attack, Durga gave the order to fly the Darksaber into the most dangerous part of the asteroid field, where two moon-sized asteroids were blocking the way. Durga ordered Sulamar to fire the superlaser to clear the path, but when Sulamar tried to fire the weapon, it failed to function properly. The Darksaber was consequently crushed by the asteroids, killing everyone aboard.
Lemelisk was the only survivor of the Darksaber Project, and was captured shortly afterward by Antilles's forces; he was subsequently put on trial for war crimes and executed four years later. The destruction of the Darksaber was considered to have put an end to the era of superlaser-based superweapons. However, during the Yuuzhan Vong War, rumors spread that the smuggler Booster Terrik had bought a secret weapon from the Hutts and installed it on his personal Star Destroyer, the Errant Venture. The weapon was supposedly located at the Star Destroyer's central axis and possessed enough firepower to destroy anything in its path within a light-year radius. Engineers who had worked on the weapon were heard whispering the name "Darksaber," although Terrik himself maintained that he was not aware of such a superweapon's existence. The information about the Darksaber was preserved in the Jedi Archives on Coruscant. In 25 ABY, Jedi Knight Daeshara'cor accessed the information—as well as similar data on other recorded superweapons—in an attempt to find a way to crush the Yuuzhan Vong invaders.
After Durga's demise, the leadership of the Besadii clan was claimed by the Hutt crime lord Borga Besadii Diori. Overall, the Darksaber Project was viewed as a failure by the Hutts, and the mention of Durga's superweapon was used to insult the Besadii kajidic by members of other clans. By the same token, the Hutt species as a whole suffered by association with the Darksaber from the ridicule of other species. When Nawara Ven asked, half-seriously, if Talon Karrde was interested in buying the Errant Venture from Booster, Karrde replied that doing so might be better than letting such a powerful ship fall into the hands of the Hutts. Ven quipped that it might be amusing to watch the Hutts try, given Durga's mismanagement of both the Darksaber and the World Devastators used to construct it.
Commanders and crew
- "Oh. Sorry, wrong button."
- ―Durga, after accidentally executing the navigation officer instead of the security chief
Although the Darksaber was designed to hold up to a hundred Hutts and their entourages, the superweapon never actually reached that capacity during its short operational history. At the time of its destruction, the Darksaber held aboard only a skeleton crew and security force, consisting of Gamorreans, Weequays, Niktos, and Aqualish, in addition to a large number of Taurill workers, semi-sentient individually, but all part of the collective Overmind. Aside from those crewmembers, the only beings aboard were Lemelisk, Sulamar, and Durga himself. The battlestation's sensor chief was a Devaronian male. A Twi'lek male acted as the security chief, and Durga wanted to execute him when he was informed of Madine's attempted sabotage, but he accidentally executed the Darksaber's Weequay navigator instead.
- "Did you call him a general? That buffoon's no general."
- ―Crix Madine, to Durga
Sulamar was a Human, male, low-ranking technician in the Galactic Empire, who was transferred from one post to another several times and gained notoriety for his ineptitude. On one occasion, Sulamar was stationed on the Mendicat mining station. However, an error that he made in the station's computer programming resulted in Mendicat falling into a nearby star. Sulamar barely escaped, and came to work under Durga. While serving the Hutt, Sulamar claimed that he was a general and boasted of numerous Imperial victories in which he had taken part, including the so-called "Massacre of Mendicat." Durga simply assumed his stories to be true and did not bother to double-check them with his intelligence network. Although Durga did not consider Sulamar a particularly good commander, he entrusted him with overseeing the construction of the Darksaber. In that position, Sulamar enjoyed his newfound power and always behaved with authority toward Lemelisk and the workers. When Madine, who had served the Empire himself before defecting to the Rebel Alliance, was captured and brought before Durga, he immediately recognized Sulamar. After the New Republic General exposed Sulamar's lies, Durga ordered Sulamar to take the position of the dead Weequay pilot. Strapped to the booby-trapped chair, Sulamar piloted the Darksaber during its fateful maiden voyage and, as his last action, tried to fire the superlaser, to no avail.
Durga the Hutt
- "Lord Durga…we need to verify all the subsystems and—"
"Nonsense, chief engineer. Your job is nearly finished. Don't try to prolong your usefulness. My Taurill workers followed your own plans exactly. What could go wrong?"
- ―Bevel Lemelisk and Durga
Durga Besadii Tai, the offspring of crime lord Aruk Besadii Aora, lived his first century on Nal Hutta, constantly enduring the ridicule of other Hutts due to a dark birthmark that stretched over his right eye, until he inherited the leadership of the Besadii kajidic following Aruk's death. Durga eventually joined the Black Sun as one of Prince Xizor's vigos. Jabba the Hutt's and Xizor's deaths allowed Durga to achieve great power over the years, but he dreamed of even more. He viewed the Darksaber as his means to control the galaxy and was so intoxicated with that prospect that he did not notice of the obvious flaws with the weapon. Durga did not care about those who served him, and he did not flinch to execute them. The Hutt also personally executed the captive General Madine, shooting him in the chest with a blaster. However, the Hutt died shortly thereafter in the destruction of his Darksaber superweapon.
- "…I have no doubt we've got sufficient evidence to order your execution as a threat to galactic peace."
"Ah, well. If you're going to kill me, at least make sure you get it right this time."
- ―Wedge Antilles and the captured Bevel Lemelisk
A talented and respected engineer, Bevel Lemelisk was responsible for creating many of the Empire's superweapons, most notably both Death Stars. When the first was destroyed by the Rebel Alliance during the Battle of Yavin because of a flaw inherent in Lemelisk's design, the engineer was summoned before Galactic Emperor Palpatine himself. Displeased with Lemelisk's performance, Palpatine executed him, but instead of killing him permanently, he transferred the engineer's essence into a clone body. As he continued his work for the Empire, Lemelisk found himself executed again and again for any mistake that he made. Although initially hopeful at the prospect of creating the Darksaber, as the disastrous construction slowly progressed, Lemelisk found his hopes getting lower with each moment, to the point that he was unsure if the weapon would ever work. As such, Durga's order to activate the Darksaber frightened the engineer, and he promptly evacuated and was captured by Antilles's forces. Tired of constantly being killed and reborn, the only thing Lemelisk asked from his captors was that they kill him for real this time.
Behind the scenes
- "Achilles Heel: It's all heel. The darn thing doesn't work."
- ―Pablo Hidalgo, on the Darksaber's weakness
The Darksaber first appeared in Kevin J. Anderson's 1995 eponymous novel. Its creation and subsequent destruction was one of the two major plotlines in the novel, the second being Admiral Daala's attempt to re-unify the splintered Empire. Over the years, the Darksaber was mentioned in several subsequent novels and reference books. Although several older sources—such as the Expanded Universe timeline found on the Star Wars: Behind the Magic interactive CD-ROM and in Star Wars Gamemaster Screen, Revised—placed the events of Darksaber in 13 ABY, newer sources established the 12 ABY date, which was backed up by Lucas Licensing's Holocron continuity database keeper Leland Chee in his blog on StarWars.com. Rough and Tundra, a 2004 web supplement for Wizards of the Coast's Star Wars Roleplaying Game, included the Hoth asteroid field as one of the potential adventure locations. If the adventure is set in 12 ABY, the players will have to account for the presence of the Darksaber in the system.
The eleventh issue of the Star Wars Adventure Journal, published in November 1996, included the ongoing Fragments from the Mind's Eye department, which consisted of a one-page humorous illustration, drawn by Pablo Hidalgo and depicting several superweapons being sold at B'hob's Discount Superweapons. Along with the depicted weapons, the image included a sign that said that the Darksaber was "coming soon," as a humorous take on its unfinished state in the novel. In 2008, Hidalgo included the Darksaber in his StarWars.com article Checklist: 10 Star Wars Superweapons at number eight, noting its inability to work properly and suggesting a number of alternate names, such as the "Hutt Hammer," the "Girth Star," or the "Bootleg." He also suggested that one alternative usage of the Darksaber could be to fry entire planets worth of meals for the Hutts.
Kevin J. Anderson indicated in an interview that the Darksaber is actually an allegory for the real-life proliferation of weapons of mass destruction: "That's the point of Darksaber: once you have these weapons, they start to proliferate and get out. So it was based on something I was working on, something that's realistic in politics, not “let's build a new toy that dominates the last big new toy!”, also asking, "...what happens when Russian mobsters, Middle Eastern terrorists get control of nuclear weapons?"
- Darksaber (First appearance)
- Jedi Academy: Leviathan 1 (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The Essential Atlas
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
- Specter of the Past
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- Star Wars Gamemaster Screen, Revised
- The New Essential Chronology
- "Fragments from the Mind's Eye"—Star Wars Adventure Journal 11