- "I know you will come for me, Mace. You should never have sent me to Haruun Kal. And I should never have come. But what's done can never be undone. I know you think I've gone mad. I haven't. What's happened to me is worse. I've gone sane. And nothing is more dangerous than a Jedi who is finally sane."
- ―Depa Billaba, to Mace Windu
Depa Billaba was a Force-sensitive female Chalactan Jedi Master serving the Jedi Order during the final years of the Republic Classic era. Trained by Master of the Order Mace Windu and appointed to the Jedi High Council, Billaba was considered one of the most enlightened Jedi of her time and had earned her seat on the High Council. Having mastered the difficult Vaapad lightsaber form created by Mace Windu, she became one of its few practitioners and one of only three masters of the form.
Billaba's final mission took her to the war ravaged world of Haruun Kal where she was to aid in an uprising against the Confederacy of Independent Systems. While conducting the mission, Billaba fell to the dark side, going mad in the process. When her former master sought her out, she attacked him after a prolonged hunt, resulting in her falling into a comatose state.
Childhood and early years
- "When I was but a baby, you saved my life. Gave me a home. Taught me the beauty of the Force!"
- ―Depa Billaba, to Mace Windu
Six months after her birth, Billaba's family had left their homeworld of Chalacta in order to search the stars for a new home. While traveling, the family's transport was attacked and boarded by a band of pirates. With both her parents dead, Billaba and her sister were at the mercy of the scoundrels until, by chance, the esteemed Jedi Master Mace Windu appeared and slew the attackers. Discovering the two infants to be Force-sensitive, Windu took them to the Coruscant Jedi Temple where they were given new names and placed into a clan with other Jedi Initiates. Growing up separately from each other, both girls passed through the Temple academy after completing their Trials. Ready to become an apprentice, Billaba was noticed by her savior, Master Windu, who selected her to become his Padawan.
During her training, Windu showed her the forbidden Form VII of lightsaber combat, his own creation of Vaapad. Vaapad was described as being more than a fighting style; it was a state of mind that led through the penumbra of the dark side, requiring the user to enjoy the fight, and relish the satisfaction of winning. The practitioner of Vaapad would accept the fury of their opponent, transforming themselves into one half of a superconducting loop, with the other half being the power of darkness inherent in the opponent. Vaapad came with the risk of the practitioner falling to the dark side given it's focus on combat and it required a constant and sizable stream of Force use from the user, with a barely contained explosion of Force power essential to all variations of Form VII as another prerequisite for its use. She eventually mastered this form and, in Mace's own estimation, she was the first and only Jedi to have achieved this, as it had been formulated by himself and Sora Bulq, the latter of whom would go on to fall to the dark side of the Force.
Forming an intense parental bond with the girl, she eventually passed her Trials of Knighthood and was made a Jedi Knight by the High Council. As a Knight, Billaba studied as a Consular, preferring to solve problems with words rather than with her lightsaber. Interested in the teachings of the Chalactan Adepts of her heritage, she studied with them and learned techniques that allowed her to attune her mind to the minds and personalities of her peers. She decorated her forehead and the bridge of her nose with the traditional Chalactan Greater and Lesser Marks of Illumination; both of these jewels were pierced to the bone and stood as a testament to her spirituality and a sign of respect for her roots.
On the High Council
- "While Depa Billaba is alive, none shall harm the head of my Master! The Force knows, that head can use all the protection it can get!"
- ―Billaba, upon rescuing her former mentor
Known for her wisdom, bravery, and loyalty, Billaba was widely considered to be one of the most enlightened Jedi of her time. After serving as a Knight for a few years, Billaba was appointed to the High Council; the youngest Master to ever sit upon the august body.
Appointed in 33 BBY, Billaba continued to accept missions on behalf of the Council, being dispatched to Asmeru not long after. On the planet, she investigated the assassination attempt that was made on Supreme Chancellor Finis Valorum. Accompanied by Masters Yaddle and Qui-Gon Jinn, Knight Vergere and Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, Billaba and her comrades were attacked by the Nebula Front, a pirate organization bent on stopping the Jedi's pursuit of Arwen Cohl. While stranded on the planet Asmeru, the Jedi were able to fend off their attackers and eventually track Cohl down and end the threat.
Padawan Kenobi went on a solo mission to the Coruscant underworld and discovered that the Black Heth gang was preparing for an attack. When he returned to the Jedi Temple, he conducted a training duel against Billaba and won.
Shortly after, Master Jinn came before the High Council after escaping the blockade around the Mid Rim world of Naboo. Jinn claimed that he was attacked on the world of Tatooine by a Zabrak warrior who was well trained in the ways of the Force and with a lightsaber. Jinn concluded that this dark warrior was indeed an agent of the Sith, a dark side cult that had long been extinct; or so the Order believed. Disquieted by this, the Council agreed to investigate and dismissed Jinn, only for him to present another oddity: a young boy named Anakin Skywalker, who he believed to be the Chosen One of prophecy. Requesting that the boy be trained, the High Council agreed to test the boy but deemed him too old to begin the training. Not long after a disgruntled Jinn returned to Naboo, he was slain by the Zabrak Sith and cremated on a funeral pyre there, a ceremony which Billaba attended.
Following the discovery of young Anakin Skywalker and the death of Jinn, Billaba embarked on a mission to rescue her former Master, Mace Windu, who had gone alone to Nar Shaddaa to investigate an animal smuggling ring that he discovered during a mission to Malastare. Journeying to the Smuggler's Moon, Billaba tracked Windu and watched him closely from a distance. Just as he was being surrounded by a large number of underworld thugs, she revealed herself and helped to defeat them. During the fight Billaba told Windu that she owed him her life and that she would always protect him. After saving Aunuanna, an alewoman who claimed to have seen another Jedi that day, Quinlan Vos appeared and told them to complete their mission they would have to go to the bottommost regions of Nar Shaddaa. Aunuanna helped the Jedi by giving them her daughter's father's speeder saying it was the only way to reach the depths safely.
During their descent through the undercity, the pair were attacked by Vrblthers. Even though the Jedi fought hard, the creatures' numbers were too heavy for the speeder; Billaba lost control and they crashed into the Circus Horrificus. There they confronted Gargonn the Hutt, who unleashed deranged Akk dogs into the arena while pretending to negotiate with the Jedi. When her former master failed in his attempt to calm the creatures through the Force and was nearly killed, Billaba reacted quickly and temporarily wounded one of the Akks with her lightsaber. Meanwhile, a fight broke out in the audience between a Dug called Sebulba and a Devaronian called Vilmarh Grahrk, over a bet they had on the lives of the Jedi versus the Akk dogs. Taking advantage of this distraction, the two Jedi Masters then jumped up to Gargonn's balcony and forced him to show them the manifestos of the Circus Horificus. Billaba believed they could force enough influence on Nar Shaddaa to stop any further violation of the Non-Sentient Creatures Transportation Act.
- "Her mind broke. Shattered. Lost in the dark."
- ―Mace Windu
In 22 BBY, the tension between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems came to a head when Master Kenobi, Jedi Skywalker, and Senator Padmé Amidala were set to be executed on Geonosis. Not tolerating this, Billaba's former mentor, Master Windu, departed Coruscant with a massive strike team with the goal of rescuing the captives. While the rest of the High Council departed, Master Billaba was chosen to stay behind and safeguard the Temple academy and its students. During the fighting, Billaba's sister, Sar Labooda, was slain by the battle droids of the Confederacy. The battle ended in favor of the Republic, however, with the arrival of a secret Kaminoan clone army whose sole purpose was to fight for the Republic. The discovery of this Grand Army of the Republic was disquieting for the High Council, especially Billaba, a staunch opponent to the Military Creation Act.
Windu's decision to conduct a rescue at Geonosis instead of bombing the Petranki arena, where the main Separatist leaders had all gathered, caused a rift in his relationship with Depa. She believed that Mace had acted more as a Jedi and not as a General at Geonosis. A true General would have ended the war then and there, even at the cost of three allies. As Depa came to see it, in order to cripple the enemy the Jedi would have to decimate and inflict terror of the many innocent civilians living on Separtist held worlds, as they were ultimately the ones sustaining the Separatist cause; to win, they would have to stop being Jedi. She therefore foresaw that the Jedi would inevitably fall as a result of their line of thinking and that while the Republic might win the Clone Wars in the end, the Jedi would ultimately lose.
With the war in full swing, Billaba was made a General within the army and made ready to lead any campaign that might open up. Early in the fighting, Billaba accepted a mission from her former master which would take her to his homeworld of Haruun Kal. Assigned to halt Separatist activity on the war-torn world, Billaba was to recruit the Korunnai militia to aid her cause and topple any Separatist-friendly regimes. She was out of contact with the Temple for weeks but her initial reports during the early phases of her mission informed the Jedi Council that she had ascended to the top of the military leadership of the Upland Liberation Front, standing besides the warlord Kar Vastor - who was, along with Mace, believed to be the last living of the Ghôsh Windu. Together, they aided the Front in fighting the seemingly eternal Summertime War which had plagued the planet's people for several decades. The war was essentially a sectarian conflict between the indigenous Korrunai and the settling Balawai (Downfolk) with both parties committing atrocities against the other. While the Balawai had aligned themselves with the Separatists, a metal-eating fungus present on the planet meant that a droid army could not be sustained on the surface nor could they advance into the jungle; if the planet could be relieved of the Separatists then it would prove difficult to retake.
During her time as a military leader, Billaba was plagued by nightmares and headaches, stemming from the atrocities she had witnessed in the harsh jungle wilds of the world. Under the influence of Vastor's blood lust and the torments of her dreams, Billaba cracked and, it is believed, that she fell to the dark side of the Force. After some time, she composed a message and transmitted it to the Office of the Supreme Chancellor. The holomessage, which was recovered from the mouth a victim of the war, opened up on the scene of an atrocity and jungle noises, with Depa's voice being discerned - she revealed that she knew Mace would come for her, that he should never have sent her there, and that she had finally gone sane. When Masters Windu and Yoda viewed the recordings, they grew gravely concerned for her sanity; Windu left the capital world immediately to rescue her. Before leaving he revealed to the Grand Chancellor that she was a Master of Form VII Vaapad (the existence of which Palpatine claimed to be ignorant of). Her mastery of Vaapad made her all the more dangerous and her rescue or capture could prove difficult should she not leave the world voluntarily.
Shortly after arriving on his homeworld and investigating the city, Windu came across Depa's lightsaber in the streets of Pelek Baw while pursuing a Korun - this seemed to confirm to him that she had given up being a Jedi. Weakened under Vastor's influence, Billaba remained elusive as Master Windu searched the jungles for her. Vastor revealed to Windu, his dôshalo (clan-brother), that Depa had stopped walking. At one point Windu encountered a Force vision of Billaba - the vision, which stemmed from what the Korunnai referred to as Pelekotan (world-power), showed Depa as being extremely skinny with sunken cheeks, her hair cut short as if hacked off with a knife, a scar on her forehead where the Greater Mark of Illumination had been pried off and dressed in filthy and ragged robes, a strip of which being used to blindfold her eyes. The vision spoke to Mace, telling him that he should not have come, before Windu was suddenly attacked by Balawai; Mace then thought that the vision fought alongside him, just as Billaba once had on Nar Shaddaa, but Vastor later affirmed that it was Pelekotan and they had yet to meet the real Depa.
When Windu was eventually confronted with her physical presence, he was hesitant to see her, afraid of what he might see. She came to him in a passenger carrier fitted on the back on an Ankkox being driven by Kar Vastor. It was Depa who finally opened the screen of the carrier and smiled out at her old Master - the vision Mace had seen in the jungle had proved largely true regarding her appearance, yet she wore a bandanna which concealed whether or not she still retained the Greater Mark of Illumination on her forehead. After a time talking, the senior Councilor deprived her of her Council position and placed her under immediate arrest for committing crimes against civilization; he said that as a Jedi and as her Master he could not forgive her for what she had done, but as her friend he forgave everything. Prior to a military confrontation between the Korunnai and the Balawai, Windu found Depa on her Ankkox unawares with her bandanna removed - the scar on her forehead proved that the Greater Mark of Illumination had been torn out from the bone, which may or may not have accounted for her mental breakdown. The Lesser Mark of Illumination, also known as The Seeker, still remained on the bridge of her nose; Windu inferred that this meant she had was still seeking a new path. Windu never uncovered whether Billaba had removed the Greater Mark herself or it had been removed under duress - at any rate, she became emotional when he saw her without the Greater Mark.
Preparing to leave for the city of Pelek Baw with his prisoner, the Korunnai compound was attacked by the local militia and Vulture droids, and the two Jedi were forced to defend themselves. Aided by Vastor, the Korunnai and Clone Troopers from the Grand Army, Windu and Billaba fought side by side, with the former seeking out the militia leader, Lorz Geptun. Kar and Depa hijacked a gunship with Mace and some Korunnai taking another. In the ensuing sky battle, with Windu acting as a pilot, Depa launched herself from the cockpit of her ship wielding both her own and her masters lightsabers against the enemy, demonstrating even in her weakened and frail condition her incredible acrobatic and telekinetic abilities in conjunction with the Jar'Kai style. The group ultimately saved the Halleck by making the droid fighters turn on themselves. After the battle and when she returned to her ship, however, Mace discovered a room behind the cockpit full of dead Clone Troopers, who had clearly been killed with a lightsaber - Depa at this point became too weak to continue with the mission and Windu left her behind as he continued on to break into the Ministry along with Nick and Chalk. Depa may have been feigning her weakness and any Clone Troopers left behind with her were soon slain in Mace's abscence.
Not long after departing, Geptun demanded a surrender which Mace readily gave; meanwhile Nick found Geptun's signal at the Ministry of Justice and Mace knew that he was at the Washeteria. They went to the Washeteria and convinced the colonel to deactivate the Vulture droids at which point Vastor made an assassination attempt. Mace, Geptun and Nick survived but Chalk was killed soon after the taking of the Ministry. Kar along with his Akk Guards and Depa then proceeded to burn Pelek Baw and slaughter Balawai civilians indiscriminately. Mace, Nick and Geptun then returned to the Ministry to stop Kar and Depa. Mace called the Clones to his aid and as they descended to the bottom of the Ministry he warned them that they could be facing as many as eight force users down there. Kar and the Akk Guards killed most of the Clones, but Nick proved to be skilled with a gun and took out at least three Akk Guards - through the force bond Depa shared with Vastor, she was fed their power as each one fell.
Windu eventually found a seemingly dead Billaba on the ground, her lightsaber at her side and a hole in the ground which she had been carving into; he found some solace in not having to kill her himself. In fact, she was actually baiting Windu closer, leaping up to attack him when he was in range and unawares, screaming while igniting her lightsaber through his stomach and out his back. Windu grabbed her arm to make sure she could not slash the lightsaber sideways to kill him, though she shortly pulled it out and proceeded to viciously attack him using Vaapad. While the Clone Troopers confronted Vastor, Billaba fed off the death of every Akk Guard under her and Vastor's command. It seemed that which each blow she struck she grew more powerful and would soon kill Windu; she continued to scream wildly as the duel progressed.
Mace, close to collapse himself, managed to trick his former Padawan into destroying the spacesport's signal jammer, thus enabling Geptun to call off the vulture droids harassing the city. The dark power from which Billaba had drawn on had now diminished. Coming out of her madness, she realized what her actions had caused. She attempted to take her own life, placing her lightsaber to her temple and was intent of igniting it, but was stopped by the quick actions of Windu's guide, Nick Rostu, who shot it out of her hand. Succumbing to her injures, Billaba fell into a coma, allowing Windu to take her off planet and back to the Jedi Temple for treatment.
Lost to the Darkness
While in the care of the specialists in the Halls of Healing, Billaba's condition did not improve. Initially placed in a bacta tank which healed her physical wounds, her eyes remained open but lost to the darkness as Windu, Yoda and Palpatine discussed her future should she ever wake. Palpatine, who had taken particular interest into Billaba's state, placed his hand to the bacta tank as though stroking her hair through the glass. Windu reported in his private journals shortly thereafter that he felt that much of what she had said to him in the preceding weeks may well have been true, that the Order was doomed. Yet, he was not without hope, placing trust in the prospect that Anakin Skywalker (the Chosen One) would yet save the Jedi by bringing balance to the force.
T'ra Saa, Windu's former Jedi Master, was known to take the fallen Councilor up to the Temple's rooftop meditation gardens and lay her down in the grass and attempt to reach her mind, to no avail. Master Windu reflected that she was indeed at peace, for if she was to ever awake, she would be tried for the crimes against civilization which she committed on Haruun Kal.
The seat Master Billaba left vacant on the High Council was given to Master Obi-Wan Kenobi,[source?] a famed Jedi of the era whom she had worked with briefly in the past. Her fate beyond the execution of Order 66 is unknown.
Personality and traits
- "I use the Night, and the Night uses me."
- ―Depa Billaba
Depa was known for being thoughtful, an excellent problem solver, soft-spoken, enlightened and spiritual. She was also protective of her comrades, especially regarding her former master Mace Windu, whose head, she believed, needed her protection.
Her personality changed with the onset of the Clone Wars and her relationship with her old master deteriorated. During the first few months of the Clone Wars, Depa gradually degenerated into madness on a mission before falling into a coma.
As a Jedi, Depa was intelligent and wise, she was willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of others. She also believed that the Jedi Order made a crucial error in taking military titles, believing that was not a matter of leadership, but of role and rank.
Powers and abilities
Depa Billaba was trained as a Jedi Consular, harnessing the powers of her mind, and honing it into a weapon. She was quite adept at telekinesis, as shown when pulling her former mentor's lightsaber into her hand. Her powers ranged from the mind trick to Force healing, animal friendship, telepathy, Force sight, and Battlemind. Her Force stealth was slightly sharper than that of her fellow Councilors and her empathy was second only to Yoda's; in the latter category, her unique mental conditioning gave her virtual immunity to torture and Force suggestion, as well as the heightened ability to sense the thoughts and feelings of others, even her fellow Jedi Masters.
Despite such focus on spiritual matters, Billaba's training under Master Mace Windu saw her skill with a lightsaber grow to an extraordinary scale, becoming one of the only Jedi to master her mentor's personal variant of Form VII. Windu himself claimed that Depa's bladework surpassed his own and nearly suffered defeat from his former Padawan on Haruun Kal after she succumbed to the dark side. She could utilize Jar'Kai, as shown when she wielded both her and Windu's lightsabers in the Battle of Lorshan Pass. Billaba would fight with either her right hand or her left hand, a testament to her ambidexterity. She even used her lightsaber when riding a speeder.
Behind the scenes
Portrayed in The Phantom Menace by Dipika O'Neill Joti, stock footage from the High Council scenes was reused for similar scenes in Attack of the Clones. Thus, Joti is seen in both episodes, while only filming for one. Concept art for the Jedi Master was developed for The Phantom Menace with the intent of creating a spiritually enlightened figure; Joti's own facial piercings fit well with this concept, making her a perfect match to fill the role. Voiced by Amanda Moody in the 2001 video game Star Wars: Obi-Wan, Diane Michelle took up the role in the 2002 video game Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds: Clone Campaigns.
During the shooting of Episode II, it was intended for all Jedi High Council members to participate in the action scenes on Geonosis. However, like those individuals who portrayed Masters Adi Gallia and Eeth Koth, Dipika O'Niell Joti was unavailable or otherwise not asked to participate and a new actor was cast. Because of the new actor's dissimilar appearance however, a new character was developed, Billaba's sister Sar Labooda. Background for why Billaba was missing from the action was created and introduced into canon, however Star Wars: Galactic Battlegrounds had already been produced, making Billaba's appearance in the battle sequences within non-canon.
In Star Wars: Obi-Wan, the player duels her in a bonus lightsaber battle. The player must win the match. Billaba also appears in the game's "Battle Royale" mode.
In many of the media that presents Billaba, her lightsaber blade's color changes. During her appearance in Jedi Council: Acts of War, her lightsaber blade is scarlet colored, while in Star Wars (1998) 18 it is pink. Described as green in Shatterpoint, her Episode I action figure wields a blue bladed weapon.
Notes and references
- Star Wars Character Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. I ("Billaba, Depa")
- Obi-Wan: Prima's Official Strategy Guide
- Cloak of Deception
- Star Wars: Obi-Wan
- Star Wars (1998) 17
- Star Wars (1998) 18
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook
- Power of the Jedi Sourcebook pp. 111–119, 127
- Star Wars Roleplaying Game Revised Core Rulebook pg. 311
- "Star Wars Q&A"—Star Wars Insider 67