- "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 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
Six months after her birth, Billaba's family had left their homeworld 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 Vaapad. 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 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. Decorating the bridge of her nose with the traditional Chalactan Greater and Lesser Marks of Illumination, these jewels stood as a testament to her spirituality and a sign of respect for her roots.
On the High Council
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. The Jedi were able to fend off their attackers and eventually track Cohl down and end the threat.
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 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 Vrblther's; Billaba lost control of the speeder 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.
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. Out of contact with the Temple for weeks, Billaba ascended to the top of the military leadership of the Upland Liberation Front, standing besides warlord Kar Vastor. Together, they aided the Front in fighting the seemingly eternal Summertime War which had plagued the planet's people for several decades. During her time as leader, Billaba was plagued by nightmares, 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 fell to the dark side of the Force. After some time, Billaba composed a message and transmitted it to the Office of the Supreme Chancellor. When Masters Windu and Yoda viewed the recordings, they grew gravely concerned for her sanity; Windu left the capital world immediately to rescue her.
Weakened under Vastor's influence, Billaba remained elusive as Master Windu searched the jungles for her. Having committed many war crimes as leader of the Liberation Front, Billaba cut out her Mark of Greater Illumination, as she had lost her spiritual strength and clarity of mind. When Windu eventually confronted her, the senior Councilor placed Billaba under arrest for committing crimes against humanity. Preparing to leave the city of Pelek Baw with his prisoner, the compound was attacked by the local militia and the two Jedi were forced to defend themselves. Aided by clones from the Grand Army, Windu and Billaba fought side by side, with the former seeking out the militia leader, Lorz Geptun. When Windu returned with Geptun, the Jedi Master found a seemingly dead Billaba. In fact, she was baiting Windu closer, leaping up to attack him when he was in range. While clone troopers confronted Vastor, Windu dueled fiercely with Billaba, who was feeding off the fear of the city's inhabitants. Windu, close to collapse himself, managed to trick his former Padawan into destroying the vulture droids harassing the city, inadvertently diminishing the terror from which Billaba was drawing her power. Realizing she could not win, Billaba attempted to take her own life, but was stopped by the quick actions of Windu's guide, Nick Rostu. Succumbing to her injures, Billaba fell into a coma, allowing Windu to take her off planet and back to the Jedi Temple for treatment.
While in the care of the specialists in the Halls of Healing, Billaba's condition did not improve. Master T'ra Saa 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 crimes against civilization she committed on Haruun Kal. The seat Master Billaba left vacant on the High Council was given to Master Obi-Wan Kenobi, a famed Jedi of the era whom she had worked with briefly in the past. The specific circumstances of her death are unknown, but she most likely perished in the Jedi Temple when it was attacked after Order 66 came into force.
Personality and traits
- "I use the Night, and the Night uses me."
- ―Depa Billaba
Drawing upon both her studies with the Chalactan Adepts and the Jedi Order, Master Depa Billaba was known for being contemplative and an excellent problem solver. Her unique mental conditioning gave her virtual immunity to torture, as well as the heightened ability to sense the thoughts and feelings of others, even her fellow Jedi Masters. Soft-spoken, her presence on the High Council was reflective of her reputation for being one of the most enlightened Jedi of the era.
Powers and abilities
Depa Billaba was trained as a Jedi Consular, harnessing the powers of her mind, and honing it into a weapon. Despite such focus on spiritual matters, Billaba's training alongside Master Mace Windu saw her skill with a lightsaber grow to an extraordinary scale. Mace Windu himself spoke 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.
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: Republic 18: Emissaries to Malastare, Part 6 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: Republic 18: Emissaries to Malastare, Part 6
- "Star Wars Q&A"—Star Wars Insider 67