- "The full might of the Empire is at my disposal. Surrender to me now or be destroyed."
- ―Baron Merillion Tarko
Merillion Tarko was a Human male baron hailing from the Core World of Anaxes. Coming from a family that possessed ties to the Galactic Republic's government and military, he attended the Anaxes Citadel, from which he graduated with the highest honors. When the Clone Wars broke out between the Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems, Tarko was quickly assigned to a Republic flagship. By the conclusion of the war and the birth of the Galactic Empire, he had embarked on a fast rise to positions of power.
With the assistance of Governor Wilhuff Tarkin, Tarko ascended to the rank of Moff and assumed control of Imperial operations on the planet Cato Neimoidia. He established his headquarters in the bridge city of Tarko-se, which he had renamed after himself. The Baron profited greatly from his ventures on the Neimoidian purse world, which included the operation of casinos and the management of a successful slave trade. Using his new-found wealth, Tarko constructed a for-sport-and-profit gladiatorial arena on Cato Neimoidia.
The Rebel Alliance eventually learned of the Baron's slaving activities, and Jedi General Rahm Kota launched an unsanctioned assassination attempt on Tarko during a Rebel reconnaissance of Cato Neimoidia. Kota was captured during the mission and forced to compete for seven straight days in the gladiatorial stadium. Word of Kota's capture eventually reached Starkiller, a clone of the Sith Lord Darth Vader's former apprentice who had fought alongside Kota. Starkiller traveled to Cato Neimoidia to rescue the General, confronting Tarko in the process and defeating the majority of his forces spread throughout Tarko-se. As a last-ditch effort, Tarko released the massive Gorog to deal with both Jedi, but the plan backfired when the Gorog broke free from the arena and devoured the Baron.
Rise to power
Born on the Core World of Anaxes, the Human male Merillion Tarko hailed from a lineage with ties to both the military and government of the Galactic Republic. A baron, Tarko attended the Anaxes Citadel, a massive government complex on Anaxes that housed, among other things, training schools. He graduated from the Citadel with top honors. The timing of his graduation coincided with the start of the Clone Wars in 22 BBY, which pitted the Republic against the breakaway Confederacy of Independent Systems. Tarko was assigned to one of the Republic's flagships immediately after the war's outbreak. The war ended three years later, in 19 BBY; simultaneously, Supreme Chancellor Palpatine reorganized the Republic into the Galactic Empire. Tarko embarked on a meteoric rise to power in the wake of the Empire's formation. His ascension through the ranks concluded when he was granted the title of Moff, on the urging of fellow Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.
Potentate of Cato Neimoidia
- "There was a time, in the Clone Wars, where the Neimoidians were feared. It seems you still labor under the belief that this is still the case. Without their droid army, they are nothing. Would you like to take bets on how long they hold out before they surrender?"
- ―Tarko, to an Imperial fleet commander
Following his promotion, the Baron took control of the Empire's outpost on the planet Cato Neimoidia. He oversaw the Neimoidian surrender of a sinkhole-spanning bridge city on the planet; he later renamed it "Tarko-se" after himself and established his headquarters in the city. He began incorporating elements of Neimoidian dress into his Imperial officer's uniform and used a Neimoidian mechno-chair as a throne. Over time, he even came to speak Basic with a Neimoidian accent.
In his position as overseer of the Imperial outpost on Cato Neimoidia, Tarko operated a successful slave trade. The Baron's business venture provided the Empire a source of manual labor to be utilized in the construction of facilities on worlds occupied by Imperial forces. Tarko gave the best of his stock to high-paying Imperial officers, selling the remainder to criminal elements, such as the Hutts. Tarko also opened casinos on-planet and used the wealth they generated to erect a gladiatorial arena that played host to combat matches for profit in addition to sport. At the stadium's dedication, the Baron spoke about Cato Neimoidia's "delicate transition" to a protectorate of the Empire, knowing that the population had many concerns with the Empire's handling of the situation. He made it clear that violence against Imperial forces was inexcusable, before announcing that several insurrectionists would be participating in the arena's opening matches.
Tarko's activities eventually drew the attention of the fledgling Rebel Alliance, which gathered data on the Baron's activities and the strength of his headquarters's defenses—intelligence that ultimately proved to be inaccurate. In 1 BBY, the Alliance dispatched Captain Juno Eclipse and the crew of the Nebulon-B frigate Salvation to Cato Neimoidia to observe Tarko's defenses in action, a mission that coincided with an assassination attempt on the Baron led by Jedi General Rahm Kota and his commando squad. The Baron's forces proved to be too much to handle for the Rebels, who had not expected heavy resistance. After a brief engagement, the Salvation was compelled to retreat when Imperial reinforcements arrived, and Kota—the only survivor of his squad—was captured. Tarko, observing from a skybox, forced Kota to compete against various beings and creatures within the gladiatorial arena, but the Jedi continually managed to best his opponents for seven days straight.
- "I don't know who you are, but you clearly have no idea who you are dealing with."
- ―Tarko, to Starkiller
Word of Kota's capture eventually reached the cloning facilities of Kamino, where the Dark Lord Darth Vader was finalizing the training of his cloned apprentice, Starkiller. Starkiller, however, rebelled against Vader and fled Kamino in the Sith Lord's personal TIE fighter, journeying to Cato Neimoidia to rescue Kota. Upon the craft's arrival at Tarko-se, a Neimoidian aide to the Baron assumed that Vader was piloting the TIE fighter and informed the Baron that the Sith Lord had arrived. Tarko and a contingent of stormtroopers traveled to the landing platform, intending to greet Vader, only to find that the visitor was not the Dark Lord. Starkiller questioned Tarko on Kota's location, but the Baron revealed little information, instead asking the man to recite the sector's security clearance codes as he slowly gripped his blaster. When Starkiller failed to do so, Tarko and his men opened fire; the Baron soon fled after Starkiller cut down many of the soldiers.
As the apprentice tore through the Imperial forces scattered about the city, the Baron observed Starkiller's progress from safety, occasionally using a public address system to threaten and taunt the intruder. Tarko became impressed with Starkiller's skill; he wondered how the apprentice would fare in the gladiatorial arena and even offered the man a life of luxury if he competed in the stadium. Having defeated everything that the Baron threw at him, Starkiller arrived at the stadium and relieved Kota of his arduous seven-day-long match. Enraged, Tarko ordered that the massive Gorog be released to deal with the two individuals; a Neimoidian aide's protest about the creature's untested restraints fell on deaf ears.
Starkiller managed to momentarily defeat the Gorog, destroying the arena's supports and sending both it and the creature into the sinkhole below as Kota confronted the Baron within his private skybox. The General slew Tarko's Neimoidian aides and, with help from Starkiller, defeated the Baron's stormtrooper guards. Before either could kill Tarko, the Gorog grabbed hold of the skybox to arrest his fall. The impact caught all three combatants off guard, throwing Tarko to the floor and dislodging his throne from its restraints. As the throne slid toward the skybox's shattered window, it caught the Baron, dragging him out of the chamber with it. Tarko tried to save himself from certain death, to no avail. Screaming in fear, the Moff became the Gorog's last meal as he fell into the beast's open mouth.
Personality and traits
- "Troopers' lives are cheap, but that Neimoidian architecture is expensive."
In his position as the potentate of Cato Neimoidia, Moff Tarko believed that he possessed an aura of authority. Over time, the Baron adopted Neimoidian culture as his own; he began dressing like the world's inhabitants and even spoke Basic with a slight, yet noticeable, Neimoidian accent. Tarko, in return, left his own mark on Cato Neimoidia—he renamed a captured bridge city in his own honor. He valued the city's architecture more than he valued the lives of the stormtroopers defending it.
Tarko profited greatly from his business ventures on Cato Neimoidia; the operation of casinos and a slave trade gave the Baron a decent on-the-side line of credit that funded his massive gladiatorial arena. Tarko used the arena to eliminate dissenters to Imperial rule, allowing them to fight only with their preferred weapon of sedition—their words. The Moff was capable of defending himself when needed; Tarko carried a blaster pistol for protection and occasionally fought alongside stormtroopers in combat, though the Baron would flee when the odds were against him.
Upon Starkiller's arrival in Tarko-se, Tarko was initially impressed with the cloned apprentice's skills, although he became angered when Starkiller ignored his offers to end their hostilities and continued to cut through the city's defenses en route to the gladiatorial stadium. Tarko's rage reached a fatal apex when he ordered the Gorog to be released to deal with the intruder, ignoring a frightened Neimoidian aide's concerns that the arena might not be able to properly restrain the beast. Starkiller defeated the creature, but not before the Gorog made a last meal out of the Baron.
Behind the scenes
Baron Merillion Tarko first appeared in the novelization of the 2010 video game, Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II, before going on to appear in the game itself. He was voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, who also voiced the bounty hunter Boba Fett in the game. Prior to both the novel's and game's releases, Tarko was featured in a character profile on The Force Unleashed II's official website. Initial designs for Tarko saw him as varying types of aliens or a former crime lord, but these concepts were dropped in favor of either an Imperial or a Neimoidian, given Cato Neimoidia's status as an Imperial-occupied planet. Game designers described the Baron as a villain with a strong dislike for the world's inhabitants, "but who is willing to do anything as long as he's paid well."
The circumstances of Tarko's death differ slightly in both adaptations. In the novel, the Baron merely falls out of the skybox and into the Gorog's open mouth. In the video game, however, Tarko is grabbed by the Gorog, who proceeds to drop the Baron into its mouth. This article assumes that the novelization's description of the event is correct.
- (First mentioned)
- "Juno and the Jedi" – Star Wars Insider 120
- "The Good, the Bad, and the Gorog" – Star Wars Insider 121
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II: Prima Official Game Guide
- The Essential Reader's Companion
Notes and references
- The Force Unleashed II novel
- Coruscant and the Core Worlds
- Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones
- Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II in-game databank
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed II
- Information found on the Starkiller Mimobot multimedia package included with the collector's edition of The Force Unleashed II video game