- "I am sorry I started you on this path. But you chose to continue down it."
Malak and his best friend, Revan, were Padawans assigned to the Jedi Enclave on Dantooine, where Malak was training under Master Zhar Lestin. By the time of the Mandalorian Wars, Revan and Malak were promoted to the rank of Jedi Knight.
When the Mandalorian Wars began and Outer Rim planets began falling, Revan defied the Jedi and insisted on defending the galaxy alongside the Republic. The first to follow him was Malak, his closest friend. After that, Revan and Malak rallied many young Jedi; those who were recruited by Malak personally included Talvon Esan, Nisotsa, Cariaga Sin, Xaset Terep, and the Jedi Exile. Bastila Shan—at that time—refused to join, warning other Jedi to obey the Council.
Revan, Malak and their followers began destroying the Mandalorians in battle after battle, finally defeating their leader above Malachor V. The pair took the Republic fleet, however, and passed beyond known space, insisting that they had to destroy the remnants of the Mandalorian armada. Whilst in uncharted space, they found the Star Forge, an ancient marvel of Rakatan engineering. Corrupted by the dark side energies present in and the power represented by the Star Maps and Star Forge, Revan and Malak fell to the dark side and took control of the remnants of Exar Kun's dying Brotherhood of the Sith.
Using persuasion and violence they wrested control of a large space fleet from the Republic and began their career of conquest. As Revan was the stronger of the two Sith Lords, he claimed the coveted title of Dark Lord of the Sith, and Malak reluctantly consented to be his Sith Apprentice. He chaffed under Revan's control, though, and awaited the opportunity to replace his Sith Master.
Dark Lord of the Sith
The moment came when a Republic strike team, led by Jedi Padawan Bastila Shan, staged an assault on Revan's flagship. In an attempt to slay the powerful Jedi and his master at the same time, Malak ordered his ship's guns to fire on Revan's ship. Malak believed that Revan was dead and assumed the command of the Sith Empire, at last taking the mantle of Dark Lord for his own.
While the war against the Republic was going very well, he feared Bastila's rare gift with Battle Meditation, a Force power that enabled her to strengthen the Republic forces' resolve and coordinate their fighting effort while sapping the will of their enemies, with which her ability surpassed even the masters of the Order, making her a grave threat to the entire Sith war effort. Darth Malak expended tremendous resources in an attempt to locate and capture her.
Malak nearly succeeded when he blockaded the planet Taris. Although he had the planet destroyed to prevent Bastila's escape, she nonetheless was able to return unharmed to Dantooine accompanied by her rescuers. Among these heroes were two citizens of Taris, Mission Vao and Zaalbar; Republic pilot Carth Onasi; the utility droid T3-M4; and Revan himself, his mind reprogrammed as a crewmember from the Republic cruiser Endar Spire. It was Revan who had raced in a hazardous swoop tournament in order to free Bastila from the clutches of one of the street gangs of Taris.
Bastila and her companions left Dantooine in search of the source of Malak's power. While on their search, Bastila was captured by Malak. Malak corrupted Bastila to the dark side of the Force and made her his apprentice. (Malak's previous apprentice, Darth Bandon, had recently been killed in battle against Revan.)
It was not surprising that Malak's fate would be bound up tightly with Bastila's. The two were very much alike -- courageous, arrogant, and heedless of the warnings of their Jedi instructors to beware the call of the dark side. But the true reason Malak chose Bastila for his apprentice was the unimaginable advantages the Sith Empire could gain from her Battle Meditation.
The final battle
Malak utilized a weapon that he and Revan had discovered on Dantooine long ago: the Star Forge, an enormous Rakatan space station above one of the poles of their home star. There, the Star Forge fed on the star's energetic hydrogen and the dark side of the Force to produce an unending supply of starfighters, equipment and battle droids for the Rakata prior to their collapse, and now for the Sith.
The heroes on the quest for the Star Forge called in the Republic fleet to attack the Sith. For a while, it looked as if Malak would be able to destroy his foes in a single, glorious day. Fate — or the Force — handed Malak a stunning defeat, however, and it would be he who would die when his former master, Revan, returned; during the battle, his old master boarded the Star Forge in the Ebon Hawk, defeated an attack force of Forge droids, slew nearly the entire pool of Malak's Dark Jedi and Sith apprentices, and finally killed his old friend in single combat. And so it ended as Malak somehow always knew it must: in darkness.
In the end, Malak's story was a tragic one. He was one of the most gifted and respected Jedi in their Order, and had a lifelong friend in Revan. But by taking the path of the dark side, which, ironically, Revan started him down in the first place, he lost that respect and friendship in a mad quest for power, trading them in for fear, hatred, and, eventually, death. But even after years of the corruption of the dark side, Malak was not entirely evil. As he lay dying, his mortal wounds dealt to him by his best friend, he couldn't help but wonder, had their positions been reversed, if he could have possessed the strength to return to the light as Revan did, and what his life would have been like had he been able to do so. He tried to blame Revan for his fate, but then admitted that, in the end, the only person he had to blame for how his life had ended was himself. Humbled and belittled by that knowledge, still bested by Revan despite all his clever plans and conquests, Malak, realizing that nothing he had ever done or could ever do could compare to the things done by his former master, at last acknowledged his inferiority, and his final words were the truest he had ever spoken:
- "And in the end, as the darkness takes me, I am nothing."
Although Malak was gone, Revan's final duel with him would not be the last anyone ever saw of him. While exploring the cave on Korriban, the Exile discovered an unlocked tomb where he encountered visions from the past. The first vision he encountered was that of Malak, before his fall to the dark side. Malak attempted to lure the Exile into the Mandalorian Wars many years ago. The vision eventually became hostile, and attacked the Exile. The Exile prevailed, and made it through the tomb alive.
Darth Malak was a master swordsman and an adept Force-user, excelling particularly in such skills as Force Lightning, Force Drain, and Force Stasis. He was wielded powers such as Force Whirlwind, Force Rage, Force Grip, and Mind Control.
Darth Malak was a bald, pale-skinned human. His head was adorned with traditional tattoos, and later in his life, a large metal shield covered his face from the nose down. The shield was a prosthetic made necessary by a ghastly lightsaber injury that completely severed his lower jaw and occurred at an unknown point prior to his becoming Dark Lord of the Sith. A portion of this device allowed him to talk but his voice now reverubarated with a gruff electronic influence. This created a very disconcerting effect because his jaw prosthesis didn't move. When he spoke the only hint of emotion came from his cruel sunken eyes.
He wore skin-tight red-orange body armor that showed off his powerful and imposing physique, draped in a cape of black cloth. He always carried his lightsaber, and sometimes a Sith sword, with him.
Behind the scenes
Like many Sith Lords before and after him, Malak's name could be derived from real languages—mala is Latin for "jawbone." Similarly, the word mal means "bad" in languages such as Spanish and French, possibly in reference to Malak's fall to the dark side of the Force. Curiously, the Arabic word "malak" means "angel."
- Shadows and Light (vision to Duron Qel-Droma)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (First appearance)
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (vision to the Jedi Exile)