Cheating corporeal death and abilities outside a corporeal vessel: Valkorion versus Palpatine (Revisited)

DISCLAIMER: Cross-era comparisons of characters in terms of strength are mired by subjectivity and hype in the ever-expanding Star Wars lore and affiliated discussions [refer to the comments section of this blog below]. It is difficult to find a common ground to make a cross-era comparison of characters in terms of strength meaningful and fruitful. Towards this end, this blog draw a comparison between Palpatine's abilities (and limitations) as a spirit and Valkorion's abilities (and limitations) as a spirit - a parameter which will make it convenient for a curious reader to realize who became the ultimate expression of the Dark Side. This is a critical assessment, therefore, hyperboles and accolades will take a back-footing and actual demonstrations - outside a corporeal vessel - will be accounted for vis-a-vis both characters.

NOTE: The terms 'essence' and 'spirit' are treated as synonymous and used interchangeably in this blog.

This blog represents a subsection of the Valkorion Respect Thread.

Palpatine (Legends)

Palpatine acquired the ability of Essence Transfer at some point:

Even as he perished, Palpatine used the dark side knowledge the Sith Lords had granted him earlier to rend space itself and transmigrate his essence across lightyears to Droga's body.

From (Star Wars Gamer 5: The Emperor's Pawns)

Palpatine managed to retain his identity (i.e. essence) with sheer force of will after his death in the Battle of Endor.

Palpatine's body was destroyed. Separated from his clones, Palpatine was forced to survive in the maddening, bodiless existence of the void. Through sheer will he retained his identity, crossing the gulf of space to again take up residence in his clone body. He barely survived Darth Vader's treachery. Palpatine remained sequestered at Byss while he rebuilt his strength, and his Empire.

From (The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia)

Palpatine's essence took a year to reach Byss and almost perished during the course of this journey:

He had spent over a year disembodied, formless, drifting through the maddening void of the Dark Side.

From (The Dark Empire Sourcebook)

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He had never foreseen having to transport his spirit so far across space. He had nearly dispersed forever, but he had survived, and now need never fear death again.

From (The Dark Empire Sourcebook)

Palpatine - Jeng Droga connection (the missing piece of the puzzle)

A notable servant of Palpatine, the Force-sensitive Hand Jeng Droga, made the journey of Palpatine's essence to Byss possible because they shared an acute psychic connection with each other; Palpatine's essence was arguably anchored to him:

Even as he perished, Palpatine used the dark side knowledge the Sith Lords had granted him earlier to rend space itself and transmigrate his essence across lightyears to Droga's body. The infusion of Palpatine's overwhelming dark side energies reduced Jeng to incoherent madness. Eventually, Palpatine's Grand Vizier was able to find Droga and tear the Emperor's essence from Droga's body. Once again, Droga had saved his master.

From (Star Wars Gamer 5: The Emperor's Pawns)

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Sharing an acute physic connection with Palpatine, Droga supervised the other Hands and guarded the Emperor's yacht, Emperor's Shadow.

From (Star Wars Gamer 5: The Emperor's Pawns)

Another notable servant of Palpatine, Grand Vizier Mas Amedda, approached Jeng Droga and set Palpatine's essence free from this anchorage:

Eventually, Palpatine's Grand Vizier was able to find Droga and tear the Emperor's essence from Droga's body.

From (Star Wars Gamer 5: The Emperor's Pawns)

Supply of clones for sustenance during the course of events in Dark Empire

Palpatine had created and stored a supply of clones on Byss to house his essence, should the need arise:

His death at the hands of Darth Vader was, apparently, merely a setback, and the evil Emperor Palpatine, steeped in the ways of the dark side, seemed prepared for any eventuality. Long before the Rebel Alliance proved to be troublesome for Palpatine, he had discovered that the corrupting power of the dark side had a detrimental effect on his physical form. Utilizing long lost magic and the science of cloning, Palpatine created a steady supply of clones of his own body, into which he could throw his being and thus rule the galaxy forever. It was into one of these clones, located on Palpatine's hidden retreat world, Byss, that Palpatine projected himself.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

Conversely, Palpatine's clones were not perfect and he needed a natural Force-sensitive being to house his vessel for long-term:

Palpatine's own clone bodies were getting further and further away from the original, and thus they were decaying faster and faster. The Emperor needed a new template, a new, powerful body to inhabit and consolidate his control over the galaxy.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

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Because the clones can only contain his evil for limited time, Palpatine strives to take possession of a strong Jedi body. The unborn Solo child would be that vessel, and Luke Skywalker would aid Palpatine in getting it.

From (Star Wars: The Ultimate Visual Guide)

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Palpatine also knew that Luke's sister, Leia Organa Solo, would attempt to rescue her brother, and unwittingly hand over that which Palpatine truly desired.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

Palpatine's enemies eliminated his supply of clones

Luke Skywalker and Camor Jax destroyed and/or sabotaged Palpatine's inventory of clones when they had the chance, restricting Palpatine to a single clone which he managed to possess in time:

Before the decrepit Palpatine could use his sorcery to switch into one of his new clones, a grim Luke Skywalker marched into the laboratory chamber and smashed tank after tank. But Palpatine succeeded in transferring his consciousness into one of the last remaining clones, a strong and agile fifteen year old. Filled with dark side power, the reborn Emperor engaged Skywalker in a ferocious lightsaber duel and forced the Jedi Knight into submission.

From (Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology)

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Resisting the Dark Side one last time, Luke was able to destroy almost all of the Emperor's clones-in-waiting before he succumbed to Palpatine's strength.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

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Though Palpatine seemed to be winning the war of his conquest, his final cloned body has begun to fail him, aging at a rapid rate and eaten from the inside by a sabotage of Camor Jax. He tried to clone other bodies so that he could resurrect himself again, but Jax's manipulations had tainted even the genetic source material. Palpatine's scientists and physicians could offer no solution.

From (Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology)

Vulnerability of Palpatine's essence to pull of the VOID in the absence of the supply of clones

Palpatine could not resist pull of the VOID forever, therefore possessing a corporeal vessel was becoming a necessity for him because his current (and last) cloned body was in decline:

The Emperor continued his galaxy gun attacks but it was becoming more and more obvious that his cloned body would not live much longer. Without a new body he would be resigned to utter madness beyond death.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

In desperation, Palpatine initially sought advice from the Sith spirits on Korriban about how to halt the decay of his current (cloned) flesh but their collective response was a vision of a Force-sensitive infant:

Palpatine traveled to Korriban, the hidden world-crypt of the Sith Lords and Palpatine's private place of power. Here among the vaults containing the mortal remains of thousands of Sith lords, Palpatine would ask for the Sith spirit's help in halting the decay of his flesh. Instead the spirits fed him a vision of the infant Anakin Solo. Palpatine would have to transfer his spirit into the child.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

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"NO! NOT THAT ... YOUR SPIRITS GUIDED ME BACK TO THIS LIFE WHEN I WAS DESTROYED BY VADER ... AND BY HIS CHILDREN ... MY AGING CLONE BODY WILL SOON DIE. I NEED HEALING ... NOW." - Palpatine to unidentified Sith Spirit on Korriban

From (Dark Empire III: Empire's End)

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Palpatine could only rule the galaxy while he yet lived, and his current clone, so far from the original, was decaying at an advanced state. He needed fresh genetic stock, strong in the Force, with which he would create a new, endless sources of clones. Of course there was no better candidates than the children of Luke Skywalker's sister, Leia Organa Solo

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

Palpatine was running out of options now and proceeded to acquire infant Anakin Solo in Onderon. Palpatine attempted to subdue Leia Organa Solo first but she was stronger now and repulsed his attack successfully; this setback backfired on Palpatine and he was significant weakened as a consequence:

Journeying to Onderon where Leia Organa Solo had taken sanctuary among the beastriders, Palpatine disguised as a pilgrim and crept inside to confront the mother and child. But Leia had grown strong in the Force under the tutelage of her brother and repulsed Palpatine's attack, weakening his body considerably.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

Even in a significantly compromised condition, Palpatine still had some offense left in him, killing two padawans in his path:

But Palaptine's resolve was powerful enough to fight back, and as Luke Skywalker's Jedi trainees filed in to protect Anakin, Palpatine cut them down. In a final bid Palpatine reached out to grasp Anakin, but was shot down by Anakin's father Han.

From (Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire)

--- and mortally wounded two more:

Rayf Yasnna and Empatoyajous Brand were both mortally wounded in the confrontation.

From (Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology)

Palpatine's essence vs. Jedi Empatojayus Brand in a clash of wills; the Jedi is victorious

Palpatine eventually lost his final clone during the ongoing confrontation but his essence departed his body and attempted to possess the child in a last ditch effort to cheat death. Unfortunately for Palpatine, a mortally wounded Jedi named Empatojayos Brand intercepted his essence and sealed its fate with his own death afterwards.

But as his spirit rose from his body and shot towards the defenseless child, the Jedi Empatojayos Brand, mortally wounded during the battle, intercepted it and took Palpatine within himself. As Brand died, he took Palpatine with him, and the once-great Emperor of a million worlds was no more.

From Star Wars Handbook # 3 - Dark Empire

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As the Emperor fell towards death yet again, he attempted to send his spirit into the baby Anakin - but Empatojayos Brand intercepted the dark essence. Clasping himself to the light, Brand held the Emperor's presence within his body as they both succumbed to death.

With all of his clones destroyed, Emperor Palpatine was finally defeated.

From (Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology)

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Before his soul could enter Anakin's body, Palpatine was intercepted by a newfound Jedi Empatojayos Brand. Cut off from host body, Palpatine's essence dissipated, to be consumed by madness that was the Dark Side. After so many decades of bloodshed, the Emperor was truly dead.

From (The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia)

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HAN: What is going on?

LUKE: The Emperor is free of his physical body! He's trying to take control of Anakin!

BRAND: (strained) Give me the boy.

LEIA: Brand...I thought you were...

BRAND: QUICKLY!!! I will shield him.

Sound: Leia hands Anakin to Brand. Palpatine's spirit lunges at Anakin once again, and Brand puts himself between the spirit and the child.

EMPEROR'S SPIRIT: (fighting with Brand's spirit) No! I will take the child. You are not strong enough to defy me!!!

BRAND: I will find the strength!

Sound: Brand and Palpatine's spirits wrestle furiously for control with the Force. Suddenly a victor emerges, and Brand falls to the floor clanking.

HAN: He's gone.

LEIA: What happened?

LUKE: Brand, are you...?

BRAND: I...have the Emperor. He is in me:

LUKE: Can you hold him?

BRAND: I...think so. I.... am dying, Luke, and the Emperor will die with me. He will never, ever return. Farewell, Luke Skywalker:

Sound: Brand's machinery stops making noises as he dies. Anakin starts to wail again.

LEIA: Anakin! Oh, Anakin, it's all right:

HAN: Brand saved him!

From Dark Empire III: Empire's End

NOTE: Empatoyajous Brand defeated Palpatine's essence in a contest of wills but succumbed to his wounds; during his last moments, Brand mused that "The Force" and "Jedi spirits" would prevent return of Palpatine from the void for eternity afterwards.

Observations:

The ability to transcend death is not exclusive to Jedi: Emperor Palpatine and the ancient Sith Lords Marka Ragnos managed to preserve their psyches after their deaths, but it seems their spiritual forms were restricted by certain boundaries and limitations. Palpatine's spirit required cloned bodies to manifest his powers; Marka Ragnos's and Exar Kun's spirits were essentially trapped within Sith-engineered temples for thousands of years.

From (Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force)

Palpatine (Legends) acquired the ability of Essence Transfer from ancient Sith Spirits at some point in time, and this talent enabled him to cheat death in the Battle of Endor. However, Palpatine's essence barely made to Byss by virtue of his connection to Jeng Droga and depended upon a supply of clones for sustenance.

Palpatine demonstrated the ability to transfer his essence from one cloned body to another from time to time but he fell short of possessing an adult living being. Major reason is that Palpatine's essence was not able to affect the external environment in profound ways, and even lacked the strength to defeat a dying Jedi in this situation.

Valkorion

Valkorion acquired the ability of Essence Transfer at some point; Revan motivated him towards this end.

The Voice is the mouthpiece through which the Emperor delivers his orders. This possessed being sacrifices all consciousness to become a hollow vessel for the Emperor. Over the centuries, the Emperor has taken many Voices from young children to alien species. When the Voice speaks, it does so with the Emperor's cold, emotionless, and commanding tone. The Voice also wields the Emperor's incredible power and is capable of striking down anyone who displeases him. Those who converse with the Voice are overwhelmed with dread and unshakable obedience. To speak with the Voice is to speak with the Emperor himself.

The Emperor created his first Voice after the legendary Jedi named Revan attempted to assassinate him on Dromund Kaas. Though Revan's plot failed, he approached within striking distance of the Emperor. To guard against further vulnerability, the Emperor created the Voice to deliver his orders while distancing himself from the forces that conspired against him. Centuries later, this very safeguard would save the Emperor once more.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Valkorion was masterful in his ability to possess other living beings (from young children to alien species); these vessels came to be known as his Voices. Palpatine was relatively lacking in this department and settled for a supply of clones instead.

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During the era of Great Galactic War, Valkorion orchestrated a ritual that would grant him unprecedented power but at the expense of the entire galaxy. However, a coalition of heroes (including Hero of Tython and former Emperor's Wrath) foiled the aforementioned effort through their exploits; Valkorion suffered a setback from such interference and his Voice was also struck down during a covert operation in Dromund Kaas.

Valkorion's essence demonstrates the ability to collapse structures

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NOTE: The aforementioned gif depicts Valkorion's essence departing from a mortally wounded Voice (initially) and unleashing waves of energy which shake the Dark Temple and destroy its chamber where the confrontation took place (subsequently).

Valkorion's essence teleported from the Dark Temple in Dromund Kaas to the Emperor's Sanctuary in Yavin 4 and slumbered there until the entity had the opportunity to recover its strength and activate another Voice. When war came to Yavin 4, Valkorion's essence managed to feed on the deaths of living beings across the planet to recover some of his lost strength; afterwards, Valkorion's essence teleported to another planet named Ziost.

Valkorion's essence demonstrates the ability to teleport from one planet to another

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NOTE: The aforementioned gif depicts teleporation effort of Valkorion's essence; it is unleashing waves of energy which in turn are shaking the region violently, and inflict a large number of casualties in the surroundings consequently.

However, he did gain power enough to flee the jungle moon and survive.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Vitiate")

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"We suffered many casualties upon the Emperor's return..."

From (Darth Marr, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan)

When Valkorion's essence teleported to Ziost, it began to possess the planet's inhabitants and utilize them for violent activities. Valkorion's essence managed to possess civilians, battle-hardened troops (Imperial; Republic) and Force-users (Sith; Jedi) among others; not even the Jedi Masters could resist his influence.

Valkorion's essence demonstrates the ability to possess living beings on a massive scale

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NOTE: The aforementioned gif depicts numerous individuals under possession of Valkorion's essence including an unidentified Sith and powerful Jedi Master Surro.

In addition to possessing living beings, Valkorion's essence fed on their deaths (due to violence) to recover his strength further and even created seemingly invincible beings of pure Dark Side energy to fuel violence. A coalition of agents of the Republic and Empire attempted to stop him, using electrostatic weapons, but their efforts were in vain. Valkorion's essence grew in power to such an extent that it devastated the entire world in the aftermath. Details of the exploits of Valkorion on Ziost are in another blog: Cataclysm of planet Ziost

Valkorion's essence demonstrates the ability to devastate a planet

NOTE: The aforementioned footage depicts Valkorion's essence devastating Ziost with a major blast of power. Only Darth Nihilus (a being of pure Dark Side power and unprecedented hunger) and some arcane machines could replicate this feat or close.

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After reducing Ziost into a barren wasteland, Valkorion activated another Voice which was governing Empire of Zakuul to consolidate his gains and orchestrate a new war in the galaxy.

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The renewed war-effort led to deaths of many Jedi and Sith across the galaxy and two most prominent veterans of the Great Galactic War (the Outlander and Darth Marr) were arrested and brought to the throne of Valkorion above planet Zakuul. The latter demanded the captives to bend their knee and serve him but one of them (i.e. Darth Marr) refused to submit and paid the price with his death. The Outlander also refused (assuming that he is Hero of Tython) to submit and Valkorion instructed his son Arcann to strike him down, but Arcann turned on his father and freed the Outlander. In the ensuing confrontation, Valkorion's latest Voice was also struck down but he cheated death once again by infiltrating the mind of the Outlander.

Valkorion's essence infiltrates the mind of the Outlander in a short span

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NOTE: The aforementioned gif depicts Valkorion's essence knocking the Outlander unconscious by infiltrating his mind (against the latter's will of-course).

Arcann, after regaining consciousness, gave orders to his followers to freeze the Outlander in carbonite to contain the threat. 5 years later, Valkorion's essence projected thoughts and illusions into the mind of the Outlander, making the latter aware of various developments across the galaxy during the course of the Outlander's imprisonment.

Valkorion's essence demonstrates the ability to cast visions of galactic events to inform the Outlander

NOTE: The aforementioned footage (chapter 2 of Knights of the Fallen Empire expansion) depicts Valkorion's essence projecting thoughts and illusions into mind of the Outlander while the latter is frozen in carbonite. It shall be noted that Valkorion's essence was shielding the Outlander's body from the 'poisoning effects' of carbonite freezing throughout the duration of the latter's imprisonment.

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After the allies of the Outlander set him free, Valkorion's essence would offer his assistance to the Outlander in dire situations and prevent the latter's demise at the hands of Knights of Zakuul and Arcann. Examples provided below.

Valkorion's essence demonstrates the ability to bend the arc of time in order to lend its support to the Outlander in a dire situation

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NOTE: The aforementioned gif depict Valkorion's essence literally bending the arc of reality (space and time) to offer the Outlander a choice to utilize his power during the course of a battle with a contingent of Knights of Zakuul.

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NOTE: The aforementioned gifs portray Valkorion's essence enabling the Outlander to overcome formidable challenges during the course of the latter's journey. The gif, at the top, depict Valkorion's essence unleashing an esoteric wave of energy to overwhelm a contingent of Knights of Zakuul. The gifs, in the middle and bottom, depict Valkorion's essence subjecting Arcann to a powerful Force Lightning Storm whose residual emissions take out scores of military-grade starships flying in the vicinity.

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Primary agenda of Valkorion's essence was to hollow out the Outlander from within (acquire a new body for long-term use), and reclaim the throne. Towards this end, Valkorion's essence enhanced the Force-sensitivity and powers of the Outlander.

"What is this? Another illusion?" (The Outlander)

"The time for fantasy is over. What happens now is quite real." (Valkorion)

From (Knights of the Fallen Empire: Chapter 12)

Valkorion's essence demonstrates the ability to enhance Force-sensitivity of the Outlander

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NOTE: The aforementioned gif depict Valkorion's essence enhancing the Force-sensitivity and powers of the Outlander. This imply proficiency in midichlorian manipulation.

"You were an exemplary pawn, one I forged into a vessel of supreme power--worthy of preserving my spirit."

From (Valkorion, Knights of the Eternal Throne: Chapter 9)

Observations:

Valkorion was a master of Essence Transfer technique, and his essence could manifest his powers outside a physical body. Valkorion's essence could unleash extremely powerful waves of energy which could collapse structures, create violent tremors and even ruin a world. Valkorion's essence also projected illusions into the mind of the Outlander and shielded him from poisoning effects of carbonite freezing. Valkorion's essence was also able to lend his powers to the Outlander when the latter was in trouble.

Critical assessment and conclusion

This blog has orchestrated a great deal of discussion among the fans of Star Wars and one of them raised an important point:

Each dark side spirit has a focal point of power that anchors it in the physical world. For example, the interred Sith Lords of Korriban use their burial sarcophagi to hold their spirits for millennia after death. Freedon Nadd clung to his tomb for countless centuries, waiting for the right opportunity to turn his successor to the dark side. Exar Kun - who didn't technically die so much as merge with the dark side and retain his identity - resisted the dissolution of his spirit by drawing on the remarkable focusing energies of the Massassi temples on Yavin 4.

From (The Dark Side Sourcebook)

Palpatine's essence was anchored to his Force-sensitive servant Jeng by virtue of an acute psychic bond between them. This anchorage enabled Palpatine's essence to transmigrate to Byss after his death in the Battle of Endor, and this effort took a year to complete. Palpatine's essence could not manifest his powers outside a physical body, and was vulnerable to the pull of the Void. At most, Palpatine's essence could perform Essence Transfer but his options for possession were limited to clones and infants; it failed to overwhelm and/or possess even a mortally wounded Jedi otherwise, and this was his undoing.

Valkorion's essence was truly unique in that it could manifest his powers outside a physical body. The statement below is enlightening.

The Emperor was no longer a member of the Sith species; his power and immortality had transformed him into a being unique in the galaxy.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan)

Therefore, it was possible for Valkorion's essence to resist pull of the Void for indefinite period in the absence of an anchor, and affect external environment in profound ways, and these realities are clearly apparent from his exploits on Ziost. The revelation below is enlightening.

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Unlike Palpatine, Valkorion could manifest his powers outside a corporeal vessel, and have incredibly impressive showings under his belt as a spirit. This distinction suggest that Valkorion became the ultimate expression of the Dark Side.

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