- "You're lucky I'm not my Master. She'd never let you get away with—"
"All the things you tried to get away with?"
- ―Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger
Depa Billaba, a Force-sensitive human female, was a Jedi Master who served on the Jedi High Council during the final years of the Jedi Order. She was born on Chalacta and became a member of the Order at a young age, where she was trained by Jedi Master Mace Windu. Billaba was later appointed to the Council alongside her former teacher, and was present when Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn presented Anakin Skywalker, the Chosen One to the governing body. She later attended Jinn's funeral after the Jedi Master was killed during the Battle of Naboo.
Billaba continued to serve as a member of the Council during the political crisis that led to the Clone Wars, a pan-galactic civil war between the Galactic Republic and the Confederacy of Independent Systems. During the war, she took Caleb Dume as her Padawan learner. After the Conquest of Kaller, the two were attacked by Billaba's battalion of clone troopers after the execution of Order 66, a secret protocol branding all Jedi as enemies of the state. Due to Billaba's sacrifice, Dume survived the Jedi Purge and went into hiding under a new name—Kanan Jarrus. Initially traveling low and taking odd jobs, he eventually joined a group of rebels who opposed the Galactic Empire. Although Jarrus hid his true identity as a Jedi for years, he remembered his Master with fondness. After adopting Ezra Bridger as an apprentice, Jarrus initially relied on his own incomplete training under Billlaba in order to teach Bridger the ways of the Jedi and the Force.
Depa Billaba was born on the planet Chalacta many years prior to the Clone Wars. She had a sister, Sar Labooda. As a child, she was held as a captive by space pirates who killed her parents. She was rescued by Mace Windu, a member of the Jedi Order, and he brought her into the Order. Billaba became Windu's Padawan and trained under the Jedi Master in the ways of the Force until becoming a Jedi Knight. She was renowned for her skills with a lightsaber and favored Form III when teaching other Jedi.
Life as a JediEdit
Invasion of NabooEdit
Eventually, Billaba was given a seat on the Jedi High Council, serving alongside Windu. During the Invasion of Naboo, she was present in the Council chambers of the Jedi Temple when Master Qui-Gon Jinn told the story of how he encountered Darth Maul on Tatooine, and how Jinn believed that Maul was a Sith Lord; Maul had been attempting to capture Queen Padmé Amidala of Naboo. The Jedi Master also revealed he had found Anakin Skywalker, a young slave he had freed on the desert planet, and that he believed the boy was the Chosen One destined to destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force. The Council was skeptical of both claims, but nonetheless agreed to test the boy and investigate Darth Maul. Despite being impressed with Skywalker's abilities, the Council initially rejected Jinn's request that the boy be admitted into the Jedi Order on the basis that Skywalker was too old to begin Jedi training. They instead ordered that Jinn and his apprentice, Obi-Wan Kenobi, travel to Naboo to protect Queen Amidala, who was returning to her planet to fight back against the Trade Federation invasion.
The Federation's invasion and occupation ended during a battle to retake the planet. Maul mortally wounded Jinn in lightsaber combat, before Kenobi gravely wounded the Sith Lord; Maul went into exile and would not be heard from again for many years. Jinn's dying wish was that Kenobi train Skywalker as a Jedi, a wish that the Council agreed to. Billaba and other members of the Jedi Council traveled to Naboo and attended Jinn's funeral, before taking part in a ceremony marking a newfound peace between the humans and Gungans of Naboo; the Federation, as a common enemy, brought the once-feuding peoples together.
The Clone WarsEdit
Ten years later, the Secessionist Movement plunged the Galactic Republic into a political crisis, with thousands of star systems seceding from the Republic and joining the Confederacy of Independent Systems; the conflict was designed by Darth Sidious, the Dark Lord of the Sith publicly known as Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, as part of a plot to destroy the Jedi Order and take over the galaxy. Billaba was present on the Jedi Council when the body ordered Kenobi to investigate the plot to assassinate now-Senator Amidala, an outspoken opponent of the Military Creation Act that would have allowed the Republic to raise an army to combat the Separatists; Skywalker was further ordered to travel with Amidala to Naboo so she could be protected from harm. These events led Kenobi to discover a clone army built for the Republic in secret on Kamino, and the Galactic Senate to grant Chancellor Palpatine emergency executive power. The Chancellor enlisted the clones as the Grand Army of the Republic, and they were put to use in the Battle of Geonosis, which sparked the Clone Wars between the Republic and the Separatists—just as Sidious had intended. Her sister, Labooda, was killed during the battle.
Attack on MahraneeEdit
Billaba was present on the Council whilst watching a live holographic recording of the devastating Separatist attack on Mahranee, the homeworld of the Mahran species. Following the attack, Windu convinced Billaba and the rest of the council on a secrete mission to assassinate Count Dooku. At the suggestion of Kenobi, the Council recruited Quinlan Vos, who was experienced in undercover work, and Dooku's former apprentice Asajj Ventress for this sensitive operation. Ventress agreed to assist Vos with the mission but insisted that the Jedi could only overcome Dooku by training in the ways of the dark side.
At some point, General Billaba and her troops faced General Grievous, the Kaleesh cyborg who led the Droid Army of the Confederacy on Haruun Kal. That day, the Jedi Master's battalion suffered ninety percent casualties. Billaba herself was badly injured, to the point that she fell in a coma. After six months of constant care at the Jedi temple's infirmary, she came out of her coma, seeming to have made a full physical recovery. The senior members of the Jedi High Council feared that her mental and emotional state might still be too damaged. Consequently, Billaba underwent a full fitness assessment. When it appeared that she had indeed fully recovered, Billaba was allowed to re assume her position in the High Council.
Following her reinstatement, Billaba took an interest in a Jedi youngling named Caleb Dume, whose questioning nature caught her attention. She was impressed by Dume's questioning about how the Jedi Knights chose their Padawans when she and Windu were in the Jedi Archives. Billaba then instructed Dume, Sammo Quid, and Tai Uzuma in Form III defensive poses.
Billaba was present during a group training session in which Kenobi, now a Jedi Master and a member of the Jedi Council, told a group of younglings, including Dume, about a beacon in the Jedi Temple's central security station that could call all Jedi back to Coruscant in times of great crisis. Dume asked the Jedi Master if it could be used to warn Jedi away from Coruscant, a thought that Kenobi had never entertained and that caused concern and commotion amongst the assembled younglings. Billaba attempted to stop Dume from his line of questioning, but Kenobi encouraged him and speculated that the beacon could indeed be used to warn Jedi away in times of unexpected peril. Billaba saw Dume, as she had in the past, as having a mind for strategy and at the end of the session, Billaba was once again impressed by him.
Despite her recovery and her reinstatement to the High Council, some of the clone troopers started spreading the word that General Billaba was "damaged goods." This rumor reached Caleb Dume who decided to directly ask the Jedi Master. The two were discussing about whether she was "damaged goods" despite her recovery, but their discussion were interrupted when they sensed something and saw thermal detonators outside her quarters.
Jedi Temple BombingEdit
Billaba then took Dume and fled her quarters when the bombs went off. Billaba wanted to hide and wait for information, but went after Dume when he attempted to take on the bomber, CIS Captain Rackham Sear. Billaba saved Dume and prevented Sear from setting off his bombs. When Sear refused her offer to surrender, they fought until he jumped off the roof and threw bombs at her and Dume. She survived and decided to take Dume as her Padawan.
She trained him in the ways of the Force, as well as in lightsaber combat. Billaba valued Dume's strategic mind and encouraged him to put it to good use. At some point, Billaba brought Dume to one of the thousands of Jedi Temples in the galaxy in order to undergo a rite of passage in which he would need to face and overcome his greatest fears. Three weeks after the Jedi temple bombing, Billaba took Dume to get a Kyber crystal and construct his lightsaber.
Skirmish on KardoaEdit
By the end of the war, Billaba and Dume went to Kardoa to take command of a battalion led by survivors from her last battalion, Commander Grey, Captain Styles, Sergeant Soot and Corporal Big-Mouth. Their mission was to verify if there a Separatist presence. Leading her battalion through some canyons, they were attacked by Coburn Sear and his droids, whom Billaba managed to force a retreat, although Dume was injured.
Third Battle of MygeetoEdit
Billaba and her battalion were then sent to Mygeeto to clear the southern mesas of battle droids. Billaba, Styles, Dume and Stance were outnumbered, but were able to clear the mesas. They became surrounded during another attack, and Billaba called Grey for an extraction. She and the others fought the droids as they came, but there were too many. They were then saved when Fenn Rau's Skull Squadron bought them more time and were evacuated. They never got to meet or thank Fenn Rau in person.
Battle of KallerEdit
Billaba, alongside her apprentice Dume, Grey, and Styles fought against the Separatist forces of General Kleeve on Kaller. Billaba and her forces were able to route Kleeve's forces and forced his retreat. Billaba then spoke with Gamut Key, assuring him that his village would no longer be forced into giving them supplies and labor. Billaba and her troops billeted outside of Key's village. After a training session with Dume that lasted after sunset, they relaxed at a campfire with Grey and Styles. They discussed the role of questions in regard to orders and to the Jedi Order, at which Billaba gave Dume a holocron. He was to use it to "study the role of questions" and "peaceful dissent" in the Order.
- "Caleb, we cannot win this battle… you must run. Go. I'll be right behind you."
- ―Billaba's last words to Dume
It was moments later after this that, at the culmination of his plan, Sidious executed Order 66, a command to all clone troopers, including Grey, triggering their control chips to kill the Jedi as traitors. It just so happened that Billaba had begun meditating and received a Force vision of the deaths of her fellow Jedi, including Masters Ki-Adi-Mundi, Aayla Secura and Plo Koon. Billaba took hold of Dume's arm which allowed him to see the visions, warning him also of the danger. By the time the clones started aiming, Billaba told Dume to run, already on her feet and igniting her lightsaber.
While Dume froze up in shock, the clone troopers started firing: Billaba deflected their shots back at them, cut down the ones within reach and used blasts of Force push on groups. She shouted to Dume to bring him back to his senses and he quickly joined in her defense as they killed clone after clone. Grey ordered the others to surround them and Billaba quickly realized that they could not win against nearly an entire battalion that was going to cut off all escape routes. She told Dume to run and that she would be right behind him; Dume knew she was lying, but did as he was told.
Grey ordered concentrated fire on Dume as he scrambled up a hill, but he deflected the ones that didn't miss, so Grey instead ordered Styles to cut him off and hunt him down. Billaba shouted to Styles and turned toward him, intending to use the Force on him, but this left her open to Grey who shot her in the back. Having fallen forward to the ground, Grey and two other clones repeatedly fired on her, much like as had happened to Secura.
Having turned around at the top of the hill when he heard her shout to Styles, Dume witnessed his Master's death. Her sacrifice gave him time to hide and evade the clones, just as she hoped it would.
Because of Billaba's sacrifice, Dume was able to escape the clone troopers. Sidious declared himself Emperor and transformed the Republic into the Galactic Empire, with Jedi branded as enemies of the state. After watching a message from Master Kenobi—a message broadcasted over the Jedi beacon, warning Jedi to stay away from Coruscant just as Dume had predicted—Dume went into hiding and changed his name to Kanan Jarrus. He kept his identity as a Jedi secret so as to avoid execution, and he gave up the Jedi path for many years. He had fond memories of Master Billaba, despite living as a civilian. He eventually joined Hera Syndulla, a Twi'lek resistance fighter, and formed a rebel cell that operated on and around the Outer Rim planet of Lothal. He remained haunted by Billaba's final words, knowing that he ran away while she gave her life.
During their rebellion on Lothal, Jarrus took on his own Padawan, Ezra Bridger, who helped him reconnect with the Jedi path. Some of Jarrus' own teachings were recollections of what Billaba had taught him, such as when Jarrus brought his student to a hidden Jedi Temple on Lothal in order to face and overcome his fears. Jarrus himself also had to face his own fear of being an inadequate teacher, due to his training under Master Billaba having been incomplete by the time the Clone Wars ended.
Her death left Jarrus with a bitter mistrust towards clone troopers, which Jarrus explained to Bridger after meeting Captain Rex and two other clone soldiers, telling him how she had been gunned down by the same men that had fought beside her for years.
The records of the Jedi Temple, which included information about Billaba, also remained after the fall of the Jedi Order, and after the Temple was renovated into the Imperial Palace. The Grand Inquisitor, a Dark Side Adept tasked with hunting down and eliminating Jedi who had survived the Clone Wars, was aware of Billaba from the Temple records. During a confrontation with Jarrus, the Inquisitor correctly deduced that Jarrus had been trained by Master Billaba due to his preference towards Form III.
Personality and traitsEdit
- "When the time comes, we have to be ready to sacrifice for something bigger."
"That sounds good, but it's not so easy."
"It's not easy for me either. My master tried to show me, but I don't think I ever understood it until now, trying to teach it to you."
- ―Kanan Jarrus and Ezra Bridger
Depa Billaba was a human female with tan skin, and she wore jewels on her forehead and brow. She also bore the Chalactan marks of Illumination. She wore the simple, traditional garb of the Jedi Order, including a brown robe and a light tan tunic. When she was a Padawan, she developed a close bond with her master, Mace Windu. She was considered a wise and spiritual Jedi, and she imparted what teachings she could onto Caleb Dume before she was killed during the fall of the Jedi Order. Jarrus survived the ensuing Jedi purge and eventually became a rebel leader, using the strategic mind that Billaba helped cultivate in order to fight against the Galactic Empire. Jarrus recalled Billaba as being a stricter teacher than he was, although she was not overly serious, sometimes gently teasing him about his habit of asking many questions. He also remembered many of her teachings and passed them on to Ezra Bridger when he took the boy as his own Padawan. One such lesson was Billaba's belief that Jedi had to be willing to sacrifice themselves for the sake of others (which she herself carried out with her death), a lesson Jarrus himself did not fully understand until he allowed himself to be captured by the Empire on Lothal so the other rebels could escape. 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 abilitiesEdit
- "The Temple records are quite complete. In close quarter fighting, Billaba's emphasis was always on Form III, which you favor to a ridiculous degree."
- ―The Inquisitor to Kanan Jarrus, during their first confrontation
Billaba was skilled in the ways of lightsaber combat, which earned her renown from her fellow Jedi. Her skills were documented in the records of the Jedi Temple, which were accessed by the Empire after the fall of the Jedi Order. In studying the Temple records, the Inquisitor learned that Billaba emphasized the use of Form III in close-quarter lightsaber combat. He was able to use this information to deduce that Jarrus had been trained by the late Jedi Master.
Behind the scenesEdit
Depa Billaba was based on an early design of a Jedi Council member for Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace that had a spiritually inspired design. Billaba was portrayed by actress Dipika O'Neill Joti in the 1999 film.
The character appeared again in the 2002 film Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones, but Joti did not film any new footage. Instead, stock footage from The Phantom Menace was used for her appearance as a Jedi Council member in Attack of the Clones. The character was slated to appear in the "Crystal Crisis on Utapau" arc in the animated television series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which was revealed in concept art released on StarWars.com as part of The Clone Wars Legacy. Ultimately the character did not appear in the episodes, which were released in story reel form on StarWars.com. Billaba holographically appeared in the 2015 novel Dark Disciple, which was based off unproduced episodes of The Clone Wars for the seventh and eight seasons of the series.
Despite effectively being a background character, with no lines in either The Phantom Menace or Attack of the Clones, Billaba was the focus of a number of now-non-canon Star Wars Legends stories. These stories included the 2004 novel Shatterpoint by Matthew Stover, which revealed she was the former Padawan of Mace Windu and chronicled her fall to the dark side of the Force. Some elements of her backstory, such as her species, homeworld, and tutelage under Mace Windu, have since become part of official canon. She was first depicted in the new stories of the official Star Wars canon in the 2014 novel A New Dawn by John Jackson Miller, in which it was revealed she was the master of Kanan Jarrus, one of the main characters of the animated television series Star Wars Rebels. She has since been mentioned in a number of the show's episodes.
There had been some confusion as to what Billaba's species was. According to the Databank, Billaba was a "Chalactan." But according to the Star Wars Character Encyclopedia: Updated and Expanded, her species was "Human". Pablo Hidalgo clarified in a tweet that "Chalactan is a culture and heritage. She is biologically human."
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