The exogorth, colloquially known as the space slug, was a gigantic species of toothed gastropod. They were silicon-based lifeforms that survived in the vacuum of space by making their homes in the caverns and craters of asteroids. They fed on the minerals of asteroids, various stellar energy fields, mynocks (another silicon-based lifeform), ships, and other unfortunate creatures that unknowingly passed into its mouth. The average adult space slug grew to about 10 meters in length; however, there had been instances of near-kilometer-long specimens.
Space slugs are reproduced asexually by fission. Once an adult slug reached a certain size, a chemical trigger would cause it to split into two identical slugs. The two new space slugs would immediately become self-reliant.[source?] Space slugs also molted as a result of their growth. Occasionally, this mechanism would be overridden, and the slug would grow to monstrous sizes.
A space slug would travel through the asteroid belts they inhabited by pushing off the surface of one asteroid and floating through space to land on another. They also could use stellar winds to help propel themselves through space. Through highly evolved sense of spatial awareness, they were capable of calculating the speed, trajectory, and distance of perilous moving bodies around them. This sense of spatial acuity also aided them in hunting food. They appeared to have been able to anchor themselves into a cave in an asteroid with tendrils, which also drew nutrition directly from the asteroid itself. As a space slug did not remain in one asteroid for its entire life, it can be assumed that they could break free from their point of anchorage without causing significant injury to themselves. Although their primary diet, similar to mynocks, was passive radiation, they did tend to chomp on rocks and metal as well.
On occasion, the naturally occurring chemical trigger would cause the space slug to kill whatever occurred near them. These oddities were known to reach sizes of nearly one kilometer in length. These colossal slugs were known to take sizable bites out of capital ships that passed too close to the slug's current dwelling, and even swallow smaller vessels whole. At these sizes, the mynocks they ate would often become internal parasites, rather than nourishment, living inside the cave-like esophagus of the slugs that ate them. Some slugs had entire ecosystems of other life living within their digestive tracts.
A natural predator of the space slug was the colossus wasp.
A number of space slug variations existed, such as the giant slug, the crimson slugs, and the Cularin slugs. Giant space slugs were larger than average ones. It remains unclear if they were a separate species from the common space slug, or just individuals larger than normally reported.
Cularin space slugs were a variety of exogorth found in the Cularin system which proved to be comparatively easy to train. Some theorized that they were descended from a domesticated form of space slug. Other theories held that these exogorths were descended from natives to the world which formed the Cularin system asteroid belt (Oblis) before its destruction, and that these creatures survived and adapted to the void of space. They may have been related to—or the same creature as—the space worms which hollowed out the moon Eskaron.
- "They're the last remnant of a species that predates history—an unlikely being, if ever there was one. No one knows how or why they evolved—just that we have found a number of them in the galaxy, going about their business…Time has no meaning for such a creature…We thought for a time that they might have once been plentiful in the galaxy—and the ones we find now are the only ones left."
- ―Arkoh Adasca
The House of Adasca found a way to control the slugs, known to Adascorp scientists as exogorths, after the Great Sith War. Based on the research of Gorman Vandrayk, Adascorp was able to control the hunger drives, growth rate, and reproductive fission processes of the creatures. Arkoh Adasca placed control mechanisms and hyperdrive engines on a group of slugs and sought to sell them to the Republic, the Mandalorians, or the Revanchist faction as superweapons. With the Adascorp modifications, the exogorths could be sent through hyperspace to a specific system. Once there, their increased rate of growth and division could lead to destruction of space stations, asteroids, moons, and possibly even planets. The original exogorths could be sent to another system once they had divided, making it possible to disrupt or destroy hundreds of systems in a very short time. None of the parties who were invited to bid on these new weapons were enthusiastic about using them, however, all three were interested in making sure the weapon did not fall into the other parties' hands. Camper was able to escape and used the exogorths to kill Adasca atop of the Arkanian Legacy's bridge and then lure them out to Wild Space.
During the Galactic War, the lair of a rare exogorth was found in the Minos Cluster. Upon being investigated, the worm was just shedding its valuable skin, and several pieces of it were retrieved for studying.
Thousands of years later, the notorious Mugaari pirate Clabburn the Elder seeded the Hoth asteroid field with space slugs, in order to protect his hidden smuggler bases. In one recorded occurrence a slug living in that asteroid field grew to a size of about 900 meters in length. It was found and officially recorded by Gamgalon the Krish, who made a living by capturing these massive specimens.
Han Solo unwittingly hid the Millennium Falcon in a space slug of similar size when running from the Galactic Empire after the Battle of Hoth. Since exogorths insulated themselves deep inside asteroids and their own heat-generating waste, Leia Organa, Han Solo, and Chewbacca were able to survive inside the space slug with only breath masks to provide oxygen. Solo had heard stories for years of the giant slugs, and had been warned of their dangers, but he dismissed them as mere "ghost stories."
Certain facilities that resided in space kept a space slug living close by to help keep the pesky mynock population down. To keep these specially used slugs from reproducing and growing to uncontrollable sizes, katrium was introduced into the creature's system on a regular basis.
Behind the scenes
- "Once again, Lucas has woven into the story the imagery of consumption and of the journey into the belly of the beast…Han, Leia, Chewie, and See-Threepio have been swallowed whole, just as Jonah was swallowed by the whale."
- ―Mary Henderson, author of Star Wars: The Magic of Myth
A single exogorth first appeared in 1980's Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back, the second film in the original trilogy, but was known simply as a space slug until 2007, when the eighteenth issue of the Knights of the Old Republic comic series identified its species as exogorths.
The space-slug scene in Empire was drawn from the mythological motif of Jonah and the Whale, an archetypal story of journeying into the belly of the beast. Artists Ralph McQuarrie and Nilo Rodis-Jamero developed the space slug in sketches.
For filming, the slug was realized as a puppet seventy-nine centimeters in length and twenty-eight in diameter. The puppet was covered with an exterior designed by visual effects supervisor Phil Tippett and was operated by special effects artist Jon Berg for more than fifty takes over a period of one week. The space slug was a heavy puppet whose jaws were closed by a return spring mechanism. Night-shift camera operators shot gag footage involving an alternate space-slug puppet made out of a sock.
Industrial Light & Magic chief model maker Lorne Peterson created a four-and-a-half-foot-long model of the creature's hinged jaws for the shot of the Millennium Falcon racing out of the asteroid tunnel, casting the five-inch-tall teeth from a plastic urethane that possessed a translucent ivory quality. Additional teeth were later given as gifts to celebrities or industry guests to the model shop. The set of the interior of the space slug was created by the laying of black Visqueen plastic on the floor of the Echo Base hangar set, draping black curtains around the Millennium Falcon, and releasing a fog of dry ice. Visual effects supervisor John Knoll called it "undoubtedly the least expensive set built" for the film. To create the sound and feeling of slime when the film's characters were walking on the slug's tongue, Foley editors Scott Hecker and Robert R. Rutledge used nearly twenty-five pounds of pure beef fat in large slabs, as well as dozens of raw eggs, which they then walked on with various pieces of footwear to create the sounds of the characters' footsteps.
Although Star Wars creator George Lucas was unhappy with the final scene of the Falcon flying away from the creature's gaping maw, asserting that it worked better on paper, Lucasfilm Ltd. internet content developer Pete Vilmur has called the space slug one of the most memorable life forms introduced in the film. Author Lukas Kendall has praised composer John Williams's scoring of the scene, describing what he calls "a wonderful creepiness and atmosphere with just the subtle effects of the ship, a brilliant use of sound."
When author John Jackson Miller was pitching ideas for his Knights of the Old Republic comic series in 2005, he conceived of a centerpiece for the second year of the series being something biological, spaceborne, and big, invoking the "Here be dragons" feeling of old maps while being something more than just a large gun. As he began writing the story arc, he grew cautious of introducing a large, interstellar life form that would violate the ground rules of the Star Wars universe, but, after watching a repeat of Empire, realized that the space slug was relatively unexplored and not properly named within the Expanded Universe; previous material had identified it as being a relic of the ancient world, and Miller's comic series took place nearly 4,000 years prior to the events of Empire. The species was dubbed "exorgorth," and artist Brian Ching designed a visual look for the creatures that, along with the name, was inspired by the works of author H.P. Lovecraft. The name was misspelled "exogorth" on one occasion during the lettering stage of issue 18, and, after catching the mistake too late, Miller decided to make it the official spelling. Despite this, "exorgorth" appears several times within the issue.
- LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy
- LEGO Star Wars: Microfighters – "Episode 3: Rebel Rally Time"
- LEGO Star Wars: The Yoda Chronicles – "Clash of the Skywalkers"
Notes and references