By DarthWill3 11 Comments
This thread, so far the most complete on its subject, combines the accolades and feats of Sora Bulq. Respect the Fallen Weapon Master.
"We Jedi are tainted by our connections to the Republic. Many see us as its enforcers. We're on the wrong side. We should be helping to bring the Republic down, once and for all." —Sora Bulq, The Clone Wars: No Prisoners
"Great [Sora's] influence is."
—Jedi: Mace Windu (Yoda)
[...] Sora had been a loyal and respected member of the Jedi Order.
This venerable Jedi [...]
—Star Wars: Fact File #108
"You already know of Sora Bulq, our former lightsaber instructor. That was a grievous defection."
—Jedi: Count Dooku (Mace Windu)
"You were an estimable Jedi, Quinlan Vos. Once. As was Sora Bulq. As was Count Dooku. Now you all sully the name of Jedi."
—Republic #63: Striking from the Shadows (K'Kruhk)
Though Weequay Jedi are not very common, a few have risen through the order and some—among them Kossex and Sora Bulq—have gone on to greatness. Master Bulq is perhaps the best known of those handful of Weequay Jedi: a fierce combatant (he, along with Master Windu, developed the Vaapad style), a highly regarded trainer, and a thoughtful philosopher. [...]
Now a Dark Jedi in league with Count Dooku, Sora Bulq remains a potent adversary: formerly one of the greatest protectors of the Republic, now one of its greatest threats.
—Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
Dooku sowed seeds of dissent throughout the galaxy and even managed to bring respected Jedi Masters into the Separatist fold. Jedi Master Sora Bulq was the most senior convert.
—Star Wars: Fact File #116
"You are to obey Sora Bulq as though he were me. For all intents and purposes, he is."
—Republic #73: The Siege of Saleucami, Part 2 (Darth Tyranus to Quinlan Vos)
Throughout the Clone Wars, Bulq served as commander of Dooku's dark acolytes—Force-sensitives and fallen Jedi who had sided with the Separatists. Bulq led a number of insidious plots and projects against the Republic, including the raising of a clone army of Morgukai warriors.
—The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. 1 (Entry: Bulq, Sora)
[...] Sora Bulq was taken away and later brought to the dark side to become one of Dooku's best commanders.
—Star Wars: Fact File #6, Version 3
Sora Bulq is one of the best lightsaber duelists in the twilight years of the Republic, having mastered all seven forms of combat. While not seen much within the old Legends continuity as Mace Windu or Depa Billaba, his skills as a duelist and instructor are held in high regard by his fellow Jedi. He is the co-creator of Vaapad, a variation of Form VII. Even though Sora's no slouch with a single blade, he usually wields a shoto alongside his regular lightsaber; this would indicate the variation of Jar'Kai suggested to Niman practitioners by Battlemaster Skarch Vaunk in The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force. Like his fellow Dark Acolyte, Asajj Ventress, he will often adopt the reverse Shien grip. He would also pass as an Ataru practitioner, given his occasional acrobatics and unarmed combat sequences. Furthermore, during his and Tholme's duel with Darth Tyranus on Bakura, Sora is noted by the Sith Lord as employing Vaapad through the use of fencing, a major hint of Makashi; in fact, the traditional lightsaber and shoto combo are the equivalent to the rapier and main gauche wielded by Renaissance fencers. He most certainly would've been familiar with Soresu and Shien, as displayed in the First Battle of Geonosis. He's not exactly above using Dun Möch, a tactic possibly encouraged by Tyranus.
Sora is confirmed to be a Jedi Weapon Master, an advanced Jedi Guardian rank, in Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds. The Power of the Jedi Sourcebook, in which Mace Windu is stated as also being a Weapon Master, emphasizes the importance of those who hold that rank. Much of this description reflects on Sora's attitude towards Vaapad, which he believes to have "perfected" after his fall to the dark side:
Although a Jedi's greatness does not derive from her combat ability, some threats to peace and justice can only be met by martial force. While all Jedi receive some training in combat, a few make fighting the central focus of their union with the Force. These Jedi are weapon masters, adepts of various styles of melee combat.
The best Jedi weapon masters choose their martial path early, dedicating years to perfecting one form of combat. Such Jedi are not especially angry or violent, for all Jedi know that such attitudes lead to the path of the dark side. Instead, they have simply found that they are closest to the Force when practicing and perfecting a particular style of combat.
Jedi weapon masters were most common during the time period described in Tales of the Jedi, when violence was a frequent way of life. As the Republic became more settled and less dangerous, Jedi weapon masters grew less common, though some Jedi always focused on combat more than their kindred did. No Jedi weapon masters are known to have survived the Jedi Purge, but some might emerge from Master [Luke] Skywalker's academy.Power of the Jedi Sourcebook
As a lightsaber instructor, Sora would have been important to the Jedi Order for a number of reasons, as described by Jedi Ace Crix Sunburris. Those with enough skill, like Sora, are given knowledge of Form VII by Battlemasters, who can recommend any Jedi Master to the High Council for the position of lightsaber instructor:
It should therefore be evident that lightsaber instructors are among the most vital players in the Jedi Order. If this lifestyle sounds interesting to you, slow down! This is not a specialization you take on without first proving your mettle in combat. Unlike the Consulars, we Guardians don't put much faith in teachers-for-life, and saber instructors bear the scars that attest to hundreds of combat kills. While it's true that the Jedi Order avoids violence wherever possible, it is at times necessary. In that light, who has the abilities best suited for a combat instructor—a diplomat or a warrior? [...]
Battlemasters train Initiates and Padawans in the uses of Forms I through VI combat moves and cadences, and impart knowledge about Form VII to those who have earned their trust.
Beneath the battlemasters, day-to-day instructors serve to reinforce the proper execution of these styles. All lightsaber instructors are Jedi Masters, and must be recommended by a battlemaster and ratified by the High Council.
The position of lightsaber instructor is one that Jedi Masters may achieve toward the end of their careers, when their reflexes have slowed but their minds are still sharp. It can also be a role filled by the preternaturally gifted, who possess skill with a saber running so deep it is foolish to waste them on Rim patrol.The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
Battlemaster Cin Drallig says that someone needs to master every conceivable lightsaber form in order to learn Juyo, something Sora clearly demonstrates:
Form VII, also called Juyo, is the most difficult and demanding of all forms. Only high-level masters of multiple forms can achieve and control this discipline, which can lead to fantastic power and skill.Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
Battlemaster Skarch Vaunk suggests the shoto, Sora's chosen form of secondary weapon, for a Niman practitioner's off hand so as to allow better control:
Those who wish to incorporate a second blade may wish to use a lightsaber shoto in their off hand, for its shorter blade allows for greater range of motion.The Jedi Path: A Manual for Students of the Force
Sora is stated as being one of the Jedi Order's greatest lightsaber trainers, mastering classical and experimental styles of combat, which leads to his and Mace Windu's creation of Vaapad:
Sora Bulq was one of the greatest lightsaber instructors the Jedi order had ever known, perfecting the various forms of combat techniques, both classical and experimental. He even helped Mace Windu perfect the art of vaapad [sic], the seventh form of lightsaber combat so intense and dangerous, that to practice it was to tread perilously close to the dark side.Star Wars Databank (Old): Bulq, Sora
Mace Windu emphasizes that Sora is a most effective teacher and one of the few Jedi to know Vaapad inside and out, which would include Depa Billaba and Quinlan Vos:
"But Sora was a teacher — lightsaber instruction... When I developed Vaapad, Sora was the one I practiced with. He's one of the few Jedi who knows it almost as well as I do."Jedi: Mace Windu
Yoda says that Sora has trained many Jedi, acknowledging his exceptional lightsaber skills:
"Many, many Jedi has he trained."Jedi: Mace Windu
Sora has mastered his defense to the point where he is on par with Mace Windu's:
Sora is one of the few Jedi to survive the First Battle of Geonosis, having been part of Mace Windu's strike team in the Petranaki arena. He can be seen on the immediate left of Saesee Tiin (green lightsaber and long dark tunic) and the immediate right of Roth-Del Masona (blue lightsaber and grayish-brown tunic), deflecting blasterfire as well as redirecting a bolt towards a B1 battle droid:
Sora duels evenly with Mace Windu, an old friend, fellow creator of Vaapad and senior member of the Jedi Council throughout the timeline of five comic pages (the other fight must be taken as being concurrent as this one, so no further pages required). Despite his recent wound, which can be explained later, he performs reasonably well. Here, we see him utilize a reverse Shien grip with each weapon, demonstrating his proficiency in lightsaber combat. It's noted in The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia Vol. 1 as well as the old Databank that Mace only knocked Sora out so he could rescue his remaining comrades from Asajj Ventress:
Windu and Bulq battled, but their personal showdown was cut short. Windu was more concerned with stopping the mysterious Ventress, so he knocked Bulq unconscious to pursue the dark side warrior. Mace fled Ruul, and Bulq lived.The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. 1
Sora outmatches Tholme throughout the timeline of four pages (counting the deliberately absent flashback page), forcing the Jedi Spymaster to retreat:
These are, by far, Sora's longest recorded duels. Once Quinlan Vos declares himself a Jedi, Sora activates his lightsabers, but does not advance. Instead, as he, Tol Skorr and Anzat assassins corner Quin and Khaleen Hentz, he applies Dun Möch to Quin, urging him to give in to the dark side in a similar method Darth Vader did against Luke Skywalker on the Death Star II. Then Tholme enters the stage and assists Quin in taking down the Anzati. It's not until Darth Tyranus orders Sora and Skorr to kill the Jedi that the duels truly commence.
Before we get to Sora's last battle with Tholme, a few things must be made clear on Sora's state of mind as he unleashed his full fury:
"Tholme! He's not intent on escaping! He will remain, spying and sabotaging, until... Blast him!"Republic #73: Trackdown, Part 2
Sora: "Five months [Tholme] has been harassing us, and none of you seem capable of finding and killing him!"
Darth Tyranus: "One Jedi alone and armed with only a lightsaber — and none of you can stop him? You disappoint me."Republic #74: The Siege of Saleucami, Part 1
Now we're back to Tyranus' kill order. Following that, we get the remaining five pages of Republic #76 and move on to the first eight pages of the next issue, where we find Tholme defeated. In total, Sora and Tholme's duel lasts about thirteen pages. I'm surprised Tholme holds out for as long as he does before being defeated.
Almost immediately, Quin, who has just killed Skorr, comes to Tholme's rescue in the same way Anakin saves Obi-Wan from Tyranus on Geonosis. We see Sora display his ambidexterity as well as integrating the reverse Shien grip, Dun Möch and Force powers, including his dark side illusions, which will be explained later on in full detail. Throughout the 9-page long duel (the two surrounding Sora's death left deliberately out of this gallery), it is clear that Quin needs outside Jedi help, just like he did in his fight with Volfe Karrko. Sora is very much in control of the fight, notwithstanding Tyranus' encouragement via hologram.
Yoda recalls Sora being strong in the Force upon first meeting him:
"Remember well, do I, when first he came to our Temple. Strong in the Force was he, always. Very balanced."Jedi: Mace Windu
Jeisel states that Sora's powers were equal to those of Mace Windu:
"[...] I think he is every bit as powerful as Master Windu."Jedi: Mace Windu
Sora uses a precise Force Push on Mace Windu:
Sora calmly executes a Force Throw with his shoto, trapping Quinlan Vos, Tholme and Khaleen Hentz in the same room with him and Tol Skorr:
Sora throws back Quinlan Vos twice with Force Push:
Sora's Force barrier nearly equals Mace Windu's:
Sora senses the death of Rhad Tarn from a distance:
"Do you feel it in the Force, Windu? The young Jedi fall."Jedi: Mace Windu
Sora detects vast darkness within Quinlan Vos, leading to his suggestion to Tyranus that they train him:
"There is a great deal of darkness in him. He may be of use."Jedi: Count Dooku
Sora nearly senses Aayla Secura, who has been trained to hide her Force signature, directly in his midst:
Sora barely sniffs out the signature of Tholme, a Jedi highly developed in stealth:
"I felt something... faintly... in the Force. I should've known it was you, Tholme."Republic #73: Trackdown, Part 2
Sora detects metal shards being flown right behind him and reacts accordingly:
Sora surpasses Mace Windu in Force empathy:
Sora's Force empathy allows him to detect Quinlan Vos' anger:
"Yes — I can feel your anger, Vos! Your rage rising. Tap into it, use it, obey it! [...] I can still feel your anger — and good Jedi do not feel anger, do they?"Republic #76: The Siege of Saleucami, Part 3
Sora is proficient at Force sight:
Sora is adept in telepathy:
Sora can heal himself, if not others, through the Force:
Force stealth/Quey'tek meditation
Sora is exceptionally adept in the art of Force stealth. The only one in the Jedi Order recorded to have matched him in that scoring is An'ya Kuro aka the Dark Woman (see Power of the Jedi Sourcebook):
In fact, as soon as he turns to the dark side, he has learned to hide his dark side presence in the same time it takes Tholme to escape from the rubble (days):
Tholme: "Then the Sora I remember on Bakura was a lie. Dooku tended to you, but left me to die. [...] It took me days to free myself."Republic #73: Trackdown, Part 2
His limits with the ability are further put to the test amidst a larger group of Jedi, which includes Mace Windu, three months after the First Battle of Geonosis (according to The New Essential Chronology). Talk about a wolf in Jedi's clothing. This is a feat that can compared to that accomplished by Darths Plagueis and Sidious as well as Sith infiltrator Baral Ovair, though Sora's deception is cut short by Mace:
Sora hides his presence from a passing Aayla Secura and other Jedi as he sneaks inside the Republic headquarters on Saleucami. His concealment is so complete that Tyranus might have taught him the Quey'tek meditation, a technique perfected by Asajj Ventress (read The Cestus Deception for more detail):
Moments later, he assassinates Oppo Rancisis, following Darth Tyranus' plan of infiltration to the letter, and nobody senses him leaving. In fact, ever since Sora's previous encounter with Tholme, Tyranus may have felt it prudent to send the Anzat assassins first before letting Sora finish the job. If one Jedi can see through one's efforts to mask their Force signatures, then it's best to be on the safe side. Still, this is an impressive feat for Sora to stealthily kill a Jedi Councilor:
Sora is not far behind Mace Windu in the classic Jedi mind trick:
Sora is adept at projecting Force illusions:
To be sure, this may come off as his other most impressive Force ability... and his most terrifying. On Saleucami, when Quinlan Vos is said to be "seeing red," we get several hints that Sora is disguised as Quin's darker side. It takes Aayla Secura and Tholme's mental assistance to break Sora's hold on Quin, just like in the battle with Volfe Karrko. Thus, as Quin strikes down his darker side, the illusion dies, along with the master behind it:
This description helps describe the pain threshold of Sora's species in full detail:
In keeping with their rough appearance, Weequay have a unique resilience to injury from blunt trauma and burns. Their skeletal frames are more dense than those of most humanoid races, and their skin is more like a tough hide. A Weequay’s skin can withstand blaster fire and attacks from blunt weapons with little injury—though at close range a blaster will cause their skin to smolder. Average knife attacks are also ineffective, though a vibro-blade can puncture their skin. It is not resistant to lightsabers, however. This natural body armor makes them extremely durable fighters in close quarters and renders them very desirable as personal guards to organized crime figures and the like.The New Essential Guide to Alien Species
Inside the Worlds of Star Wars: Attack of the Clones—later compiled into Star Wars: Complete Locations—confirms that Sora was aboard the LAAT/i that was shot down to the right of Yoda, Mace Windu, Ki-Adi-Mundi and Kit Fisto. With Sora are Tarados Gon and Jedi Councilor Eeth Koth. Despite the Jedi and the Republic's worst fears, Sora survives and is fit enough to join Tholme in a mission to capture Darth Tyranus shortly after the First Battle of Geonosis. Master Koth likewise survives to later fight General Grievous and—in a new Canon story—Darth Vader:
For a time, Bulq was listed as one of the casualties of that fateful battle. Though Bulq proved to be alive, his spirit was irrevocably damaged by the outbreak of the Clone Wars.Star Wars Databank (Old): Bulq, Sora
Sora is said to have "cheated death" on Geonosis, which may be due to his tough biology, if not his strength in the Force:
After cheating death on Geonosis, as much as it pained him [...]Geonosis and the Outer Rim Worlds
In his mock duel with Asajj Ventress, Sora is lightly slashed across the chest so as to sell the deception. He also says the wound isn't serious, at least not serious enough to keep him from fighting Mace Windu eleven pages later:
"My wound is not serious — nor important."Jedi: Mace Windu
He carries the late Mira all the way up to the his estate immediately afterwards, in spite of the above lightsaber injury. He doesn't bother to levitate Mira, which would've been easier for his body. The walk takes about four pages:
It takes Sora about four pages to regain consciousness, and he is just in time to watch the Jedi escape:
Sora matches T.C.W.-era Mace Windu in Constitution, along with Strength and Dexterity:
Dark side knowledge
Sora's fascination with the dark side may have gone back to his studying the rise of Darth Ruin:
Bulq, who had always been fascinated by the dark side and by the courage displayed by the rogue Jedi who two millennia prior had defied the Jedi Council and resurrected the Sith Order, was easily convinced.Star Wars: Fact File #116
His experiments with Vaapad further encourages his interest:
"I was long fascinated by [the dark side]. Our work on Vaapad — my own secret researches into it — fascinated me more."Jedi: Mace Windu
It only takes Darth Tyranus to recognize Sora's flirtation with the dark side before deciding to teach him how to properly use it:
"You separate the dark from the light because you have been taught to fear, Master Bulq. One need not fear the dark if one is disciplined enough and just in one's heart. You know this. The fencing you study — Vaapad — skirts the dark side. That's where it gets its power. But the bridled anger of Vaapad is weak and unfocused in comparison to the full fury of the dark side. Anger is useful — unless it is used against you. [...]
"You flirt with the dark side, Tholme, but never come closer than the shadows. Sora Bulq has explored it more avidly in his studies of Vaapad. Perhaps he will be more agreeable than you when he wakes."Republic #72: Trackdown, Part 1
Sora, a Jedi Master, is evidently a fast learner, fully embracing the dark side in the aforementioned time it takes Tholme to make it out of his proverbial stone prison:
"After defeating me on Bakura, Dooku tended to my wounds and reasoned with me! He showed me the anger at the core of my being and made me acknowledge its power!"Republic #73: Trackdown, Part 2
As far as Jedi Masters go, Sora Bulq is one of the finest and most respected in his era. He is not only a highly effective combatant and powerful Force-user, but also an immensely influential figure within the Order. The news of his treachery cuts deep, creating sadness within the Jedi and fear within the Republic. Next to Asajj Ventress, Durge and General Grievous, Sora is one of Darth Tyranus' most trusted lieutenants, his seniority placing him in charge of the Dark Acolytes. He may have not been seen as often as his compatriots in the Star Wars lore, but this all the more signifies his importance within Tyranus' inner circle of advisers and commanders. While not a Sith Lord, who's to say that Sora's lightsaber skills, strength in the Force and knowledge of the dark side don't suggest his potential in that profession? As if those illusions he used on Quinlan Vos weren't frightening enough.
I want to thank those who have taken the time to read this RT. Took me almost four days to have it fully ready. I've wanted to include passages that concern Sora Bulq from the Official Starship & Vehicle Collection, but those articles are very hard to come by. If anyone can supply me with the pages of those issues—7, 43 and 78—and can find anything further on Sora's abilities and/or importance, please let me know via Messages.
I would also want to thank Fated Xtasy for inspiring me to try out her RT style. Seems to be most efficient while organizing attributes and giving off your analysis of certain characters.