This is the last entry in this week of Star Wars. It’s strange, I had never before attempted a multi-part feature, didn’t know how to structure them. It took a new Star Wars film, a new continuity and the loss of the one I loved to bring this out of me. Guess I have to be thankful to Disney then.
This is the article I’ve been waiting to write, where I tell you about the characters in the Expanded Universe that made it such as special place for my imagination. Reading their adventures, following them on their journeys and controlling their actions in video games were a blast. I saw these people grow, evolve, become better men and women, or fall to the depths of depravity. These characters showed that the Star Wars saga is not about black and white good and evil but the millions of shades of gray that exist in the galaxy. From Sith falling in love with Jedi to good men going on a rampage for vengeance, the characters in the Star Wars Expanded Universe made it all relatable, believable and sparked new stories or continuations in my mind.
Some of these you’ll remember. Some are very familiar to you, but if you don’t know your Star Wars Expanded Universe, you won’t know them as I do. So sit back, grab a drink and let’s go meet some scum and villains!
Kal Skirata was one of the Cuy’val Dar aka The Forgotten Ones, the Mandalorian bounty hunters and mercenaries Jango Fett paid a fortune to disappear from the Galaxy and relocate to Kamino to help train the clone armies. See, it wasn’t enough that they were Fett clones, they needed to be as good as he was, and the Cuy’val Dar were the toughest Mandos Jango knew. He claimed that Skirata was one of the craftiest fighters out there.
But he also said Kal was a zealot, and he was. He believed deeply in Mando culture and the Regol’nare, the six core tenets of the Mandalorians. So when he started training clones, his wards being Republic Comandos and some Ark Troopers, he made sure they knew their heritage, even gave some of them Mando names. For him it was unthinkable that all these Mandalorian children would die without knowing their heritage and become Dar’manda, soulless. Imagine it so: if they remained ignorant, they couldn’t join the Mandalorian Valhalla.
But as tough as he was, and man could he be vicious, he was also a teddy bear of a man to his loved ones. For him, all the clones he trained were his sons and he made sure they knew it. They were all clan Skirata as far as he was concerned. If their boys found someone they loved, he welcomed them warmly.
But he hated the Jedi with a passion, saw them as monsters and didn’t trust them. It’s what made his relationship with Etain Tur-Mukan, a Jedi Knight and Darman’s wife so difficult. Because while he wanted to love the girl and she had many qualities he admired, she kept secrets like most Jedi and finding them out made him furious. Still, they eventually made up and they became close, like father and daughter. When she died during Order 66, he was inconsolable and regretted every moment he fought with her, and then made her officially clan Skirata, so everyone knew she was his family. Most of his boys escaped with him in the chaos, but two of the Omega Squad members couldn’t make it out and stayed in the Imperial army. One of them was Darman, mad with grief at losing his wife and being separated from their son, who was with Kal’Buir aka Papa Kal, as they all called him.
Skirata then spent the next years with his sons tracking down Ko Sai, one of the leading Kaminoan geneticists to force her to give them the secret to reverse the clones’ accelerated aging. He wanted his sons to have full lives, to spend them with their partners and loved ones.
He was a good man, and one hell of a character.
Kyle Katarn is a man of many accomplishments but his first one, his claim to fame was something you’ll all recognise: he was the agent that stole the plans for the Death Star for the Rebel Alliance. After that, and following a trail of breadcrumbs he put a stop to the imperial Dark Trooper project, a plan to create a powered armor exoskeleton for Storm Troopers. He destroyed the research facility and took down the man leading it. On that quest, he killed two Kell Dragons barehanded and even defeated Boba Fett. Kyle proved he wasn’t an easy man to kill.
After his father died, Kyle discovered through the bounty hunter 8t88 that Jerec had murdered him for the secrets of the Valley of the Jedi. Already Force sensitive but without training, Kyle returned home and sought answers, finding an old message from his father. Morgan Katarn wanted to entrust the maps to the Valley of the Jedi to his son, but Jerec had already taken them. But his message held another thing, an old friend’s Lightsaber. With it and after receiving vision messages from its owner, Qu Rahn, Kyle began manifesting his own Force abilities and used them to cut his way through Jerec’s forces to the man himself in a duel at the Valley of the Jedi.
After Jerec’s defeat, and after nearly falling to the Dark Side, he gave up the Force, disconnecting himself from it and went back to being just a simple mercenary working for the New Republic. But then, on a mission, they met Desann and Kyle thought he’d killed Jan. On a quest for revenge, he returned to the Valley and used the Force Nexus to jumpstart his powers and did what he did best: beat the crap out of everyone in his way, including Desann. On the way, and almost consumed by grief and hatred, he found Jan alive and together with Luke they returned to Yavin 4 to fight Desann’s forces. Luke took the brunt of the assault while Katarn faced off against the Dark Jedi.
Following this, he became the New Jedi Order’s battle-master, and taught new students how to use their skills effectively in combat, how to never rely solely on their lightsaber and most comically, how to fight dirty. Kyle was the only character in the Star Wars Expanded Universe who would grapple an opponent mid-lightsaber match and then punch them until they lost consciousness. He fought with whatever he had on hand. This made him one of the most valuable Jedi Masters in the new order, but he wasn’t a rash man even if he was one of action.
His near falls to the Dark Side made him a wise and important voice in the New Jedi Council, while his martial expertise made him the de-facto leader of most Jedi strike teams. He was always on the frontlines of every battle the Jedi fought, from the Yuuzhan Vong to Darth Caedus (Jacen Solo).
Depending on the path you choose in the game Jedi Academy, Kyle could be the final boss in the game. If you fought him, he was the only enemy in the game who could grapple you and Force Push the lightsaber out of your hands.
The Jedi known as Revan was a prominent member of the Order during the Old Republic. During the Mandalorian Wars, the Jedi refused to participate in the war even when Knights and Masters all but begged the council to let them join the fray to help their Republic allies. But the Masters feared the war would corrupt many of their number.
Revan decided then to take matters into his hands. He rallied the Jedi willing to battle the Mandalorians and launched his offensive against them, leading to a resounding victory for the Republic. After Revan defeated the reigning Mandalore, he and Malak used his information to track down the man that manipulated the Mandalorians into war. They found him, the Sith Emperor, but they couldn’t kill him. The Emperor was too powerful and easily corrupted the two young Jedi into his new agents: Darth Revan and Darth Malak.
Revan became the master and Malak the apprentice and together they followed the trail of the Rakata to the Star Forge, using it to build their armada. But as they invaded the Republic, Malak betrayed his old friend and master, opening the way for a Jedi strike force to defeat him. The only surviving member of the strike was Bastila Shan and she took the wounded a comatose Revan to the Jedi Masters, who used their powers to wipe his memory and create a new identity for him, hoping this new Revan could be a force for good, though they feared he would return to his old ways.
Now a Soldier in the Republic, Revan’s Force Link to Bastila drew him to her, and as they fought Malak’s Sith forces, they grew very close. After the redeemed Jedi Revan killed Malak and destroyed the Star Forge, he and Bastila enjoyed peace together. But with his memories returning, he knew the Sith Emperor wouldn’t be far behind. So he left his wife and ventured into the Unknown Regions to confront the Emperor and prevent his invasion.
He failed and spent the next few hundreds of years in stasis, a plaything for the Emperor to feed on though he succeeded in delaying the Sith invasion for a long time.
He eventually escaped, but that’s a story for another time.
The Solo Family have had it rough. Han and Leia married and had three children, all of them Force Sensitive and Jedi, firs the twins Jaina and Jacen and then their little boy Anakin Solo, named after his grandfather.
Han became a celebrated hero, but he was still broke and in massive debt and his refusal to accept any money from his wife’s side of the family or the Republic led him to dumb deals and even larger bounties on his head, making his encounters with Boba Fett quite common. In fact, at some point in the future, the two men met, buried the hatchet and parted ways amicably. They’d never be friends but they weren’t enemies any longer.
But life wasn’t easy on Han and Leia. They lost their greatest friend Chewbacca during the war with the Yuuzhan Vong. Chewie was like an uncle to the kids and was there in every moment of their lives, not to mention the years of friendship he and Han shared. When Han rescued the would-be slave Wookie, Chewbacca formed a Life Debt with him, willing to give his life for his saviour and that oath extended to the Solo family. Chewie died saving hundreds of people and while Han wanted to come back for him, his son Anakin knew it was too late and flew the Millenium Falcon away. For years Han resented his son for this, blaming him for the death of his best friend, but he forgave him eventually. He was there when the Wookie of Kashyyyk carved Chewie’s face into their sacred Woshyr trees, a memorial and funeral to his long-time companion. The people of Kashyyyk told Han they were proud of Chewbacca’s sacrifice as nothing is as worthy as dying to fulfill a life-debt. They also were very proud that it took an entire moon crashing on him to kill the man and that he roared defiantly at it.
Chewie’s death sparked Han’s fighting spirit against the Vong and his family followed into battle, but before the end of the war, Han and Leia faced the worst thing that can happen to a parent, to lose a child. Anakin, their youngest, died during a mission. Han didn’t want him to go because he feared losing him, and he was right all along.
But that’s not where the Solo’s pain ends, nor their joys. Jacen fell to the Dark Side and became Darth Caedus and his transgressions were so great the Solos realised their son was gone, so they mourned for him while they prepared for the possibility of having to kill him themselves. But it would be his twin, Jaina Solo, who defeated him. When they found her, she was cradling the body of her brother, crying for her family to forgive her.
But Jacen’s death brought a new gift to their lives: Allana, Jacen’s daughter. They officially adopted her as theirs, to hide her true identity as a member of a royal family some were trying to assassinate.
Han and Leia suffered greatly in the Expanded Universe and while the losses created breaches in their marriage, they always found their way back to each other and with their combined strength, love and conviction they faced everything the galaxy threw at them.
If you think Kyle Katarn was a hard man to kill, then you definitely didn’t want to mess with Boba Fett. Those who saw the films only remember him comically falling into the Sarlacc, but he escaped its stomach, though the trauma left with amnesia that lasted until he met Solo once more, after which he once more fell into the Sarlacc’s gullet. But he escaped again and went on to become the most dreaded bounty hunter of all. Even before the events of the film, Boba was fearsome as he was one of the few men in the galaxy to fight Darth Vader and survive.
Kyle Katarn often joked that he and his friends shared the badge of honour of having faced Boba and survived to tell the tale.
But Boba isn’t just the clone of Jango and badass Bounty Hunter. He was married once, to Sintas Vel, a fellow bounty hunter. They settled on Corcord Dawn, Jango’s home world, and he tried his best to lead a normal life with his wife and their young daughter. But then, while working under an assumed name for the Concord Dawn police force, one of his superiors raped Sintas so Boba viciously murdered him. For this he was exiled from the planet. This incident plus other factors led to their divorce. Boba’s greatest regret was how bad he’d been as a husband and a father. To make matters worse, when a crime lord kidnapped Sintas, their daughter believed her dead and thought it all Fett’s fault. She spent her entire life tracking down her father to kill him and even raised her daughter Mirta to hate him as well.
When Boba discovered that Jacen Solo, now Darth Caedus, was responsible for his daughter’s death, he thought about hunting him down but then realised the Solos would do much worse to him than he ever could. When he learnt the young Sith had also murdered Luke’s wife, Mara Jade, he sent his former nemesis, Han Solo, a complete Beskar’gam, a suit of armour made of Mandalorian Iron with his deepest condolences. He hoped Han would use the Beskar amour to kill his son, but it was Jaina, with Boba’s training who finally defeated her brother.
Boba became Mandalore and while pursuing several leads on the people responsible for taking his wife years ago, he and his granddaughter found her alive but frozen in Carbonite. They took her to Mandalore and when she recovered from the stasis and remembered everything, they finally made peace.
Boba gave her all his stocks on several enterprises, enough money to live a life without the need to collect bounties. He told her that no matter what, she would always have a home on Mandalore. In the process of reconnecting with his ex-wife, she explained the truth to their granddaughter and helped her move on from hating Boba, as it had been the wrong thing all along.
Luke Skywalker is the name we all know from Star Wars. But the Luke I know spent years after his father’s sacrifice wandering the galaxy helping people as a Jedi Knight. He trained dozens of warriors but refused to teach them Force techniques, as he feared creating the new Darth Vader. But his reluctance to teach instead drew hopeful students to pursue darker paths. In avoiding his responsibility as a Jedi, Luke almost made his worst nightmare a reality.
When Palpatine returned, having transferred his essence to one of the flawed clones he kept in stasis, Luke decided to join him to destroy this new Empire from within, but he fell to the emperor’s influence and became his new apprentice, but thanks to Leia he freed himself from the corruption and returned to the light.
After this and seeing the growing threats of the Dark Side in the galaxy he decided it was time to rebuild the Jedi, creating his new academy on Yavin 4, a place haunted by the spirit of an old Sith, Exar Kun. His academy, once freed from this corruption, trained great Jedi and he made peace with the many Force traditions the old order clashed with, including the Jensaarai, an order with both Jedi and Sith philosophies. Force traditions that in the age of the first Republic would never have associated with the Jedi now sent students to Luke’s Jedi Praxeum, as a sign of trust in the new order Luke had established.
In his personal life, Luke’s role as a Jedi Master, his work across the galaxy and the overall danger of his life made relationships difficult and many thought he’d be a lonely hermit as Obi Wan had been before him. But after a string of failed romances he met the love of his life, Mara Jade, who hated him at first. You see, Mara used to be the Emperor’s Hand, Palpatine’s personal assassin and his last order to her was to kill Skywalker. At first they were enemies, then they had to work together for a while and grew to respect and even admire each other and over time that led to their romance. Through Luke, Mara Jade cast off the Dark Side and became a powerful and wise Jedi Master.
They had a son, Ben Skywalker, named after Obi Wan’s assumed name on Tatooine.
When Jacen Solo fell to the Dark Side, Mara was one of his many victims and her loss crushed Luke, but then she appeared to him as a spirit and comforted him, helping him deal with the loss and move on, knowing his wife wouldn’t forgive him if he let her death make him stray from his path or neglect his duties.
But the rise of Jacen created doubt in Luke’s ability to lead, so the New Republic exiled him, holding him responsible for his nephew’s crimes. Ben joined his father and together they travelled the galaxy pursuing the strange being known as Abeloth, the Bringer of Chaos, a creature made from the Dark Side itself and with near limitless power.
It was in this pursuit that Luke did what I think is one of the most amazing things in his life: he forged a truce and an alliance between the Jedi and the Sith, as Abeloth posed a threat to them all.
The Sith would quickly break the alliance, but still, pretty cool, huh?
And so this is the end of this look into the Star Wars Expanded Universe. It’s been a lot of fun for me to talk about these subjects, to geek out on them. I don’t get many chances to do it. I hope you’ve enjoyed these articles and as I said yesterday, if there is anything you’d like to expand on, I can make that work for a future article.
May the Force be with you and Happy Christmas!