Star Wars Inside Intel is a StarWars.com feature where Lucasfilm Story Group member Emily Shkoukani, whose job is to know as much about a galaxy far, far away as possible, explores obscure facts about Star Wars lore and continuity. In this installment, Emily explores the First Order’s massive superweapon and military base, Starkiller…
On a frigid world in the Unknown Regions, the First Order amassed in the shadows while perfecting the centerpiece of its campaign of tyranny: Starkiller. Inspired by the might of the Empire and its Death Star, the First Order aimed to create something with much more firepower. Using the Empire’s research on dark energy — a mysterious force tied to the very fabric of the universe — Starkiller was born.
Prior to the Starkiller’s discovery, Resistance pilot Poe Dameron and Resistance spy Kazuda Xiono traveled to a system in the Unknown Regions where Kaz learned of First Order activity, as seen in the Star Wars Resistance animated series. Upon reaching the sector, Poe Dameron’s ship sensors indicated they were in the Dassal system, however the star of the system was mysteriously gone. Further investigating the area, the two Resistance pilots found that some of the planets had been cored and, as a result, virtually destroyed. What Poe and Kaz didn’t know at the time was that they were looking at test subjects for the First Order’s Starkiller weapon.
Dark energy, abundant in the galaxy, powered Starkiller’s weapon. Harvesting it, however, was not thought possible until the First Order’s success. Using research from the Empire’s Project Celestial Power (the same program that helped create the Death Star), the First Order used the power of a sun to focus and gather dark energy with collector arrays. The First Order had discovered, though, that the most effective way to store the dark energy was by using a planet’s natural magnetic field, hence the need to core planets. This, combined with an additional and artificial containment field maintained by the First Order, stored the energy as the weapon charged. Once the star was completely consumed, the weapon was ready to fire.
Unlike the Death Star, which required being within the same system or in close proximity to its target in order to effectively use its weapon, Starkiller base fired through vast distances of space. This was due to the dark energy the weapon collected. While stored within the core of Starkiller, that dark energy took on a new state called “phantom energy.” When fired, the phantom energy used “sub-hyperspace” to reach systems halfway across the galaxy. Sub-hyperspace was a term created by the First Order to describe the way the phantom energy traveled across the stars. Whereas hyperspace exists across the galaxy, sub-hyperspace is a dimension that runs through the galaxy. The phantom energy’s unique properties and use of sub-hyperspace is what allowed people from across the galaxy to see it streak through the stars and destroy its target.
Due to the volatile nature of dark energy, Starkiller required a thermal oscillator, which was largely responsible for maintaining the First Order’s artificial containment field. The oscillator prevented the base from destabilizing while harvesting and storing dark energy. However, when the Resistance learned that this oscillator was the base’s weak point, they quickly devised a plan to destroy the superweapon.
Requiring a sun for each charge of its weapon, the planet-turned-base was capable of moving thanks to thrusters located on the opposite side of the weapon’s massive barrel. After discovering the Resistance’s base on D’Qar, the First Order moved Starkiller to consume another star and thus, began charging its weapon.
As Starkiller targeted the base, the Resistance mobilized. In order to reach the thermal oscillator, the Resistance needed to get past Starkiller’s shield. Using a dangerous trick, Han Solo, Chewbacca, and Finn bypassed the shield by exiting hyperspace aboard the Millennium Falcon just past its barrier, essentially flying faster than the shield’s refresh-rate within a second, resulting in a crash-landing. Finn led the rebel veterans and successfully disabled the planet’s shields; this allowed the Resistance fighters that had amassed over the planet to enter its atmosphere and begin targeting the thermal oscillator, although they still needed help from the ground team.
After planting charges along a critical shaft leading to the oscillator, Chewbacca detonated the explosives, revealing a direct path to the weak point. Poe Dameron then flew his X-wing and bombarded the oscillator with his fighter’s firepower. With Starkiller actively charging its weapon and Poe’s attack on the oscillator, the weapon quickly destabilized. The dark energy stored at the core along with the power of the sun it had consumed unsettled and the base quickly collapsed in on itself.
Starkiller both imploded and then exploded, resulting in the planet turning into a micro-star. The star was unofficially called “Solo” to honor the fallen veteran who lost his life on the base.
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Emily Shkoukani is a jr. creative executive at Lucasfilm who helps to maintain the lore and continuity of the Star Wars galaxy. And sometimes, they write for StarWars.com!
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