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Star Wars The Great Holocron:Earls Personal Fanverse

Introductory immersion and Remarks by Master O'Lana

Earl

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The Bendu seek to understand the Force in all her forms; to be immerse in both Light and Dark without being swayed to the excesses of either the one or the other. The Bendu is to beware of those who seek to form attachments make themselves slave to their compassion.

-- Bendu Holocron, stating their mission to the Galaxy


Why should I restrain myself to serve the needs of my inferiors? The Force is my birthright, to command as I see fit. My power elevates me over those who are weaker. Let those who would impose upon my sovereignty come and challenge me: I shall take them, and my victory will be proof that I am right!

-- Rajivari, The Dark Prophet and originator of the Dark Acolytes, whose heirs would go on to form the Sith


We, the Jeedai, do hereby separate ourselves from the Order of the Bendu Monks, and commit ourselves to the cause of peace and justice. In exile, we have meditated upon the question of responsibility, and it is our conclusion that the duty of care cannot be abrogated. The Force, which is the Light, calls upon us to serve its will, and to root out the corruption, which is the Dark. We return with new understanding. There is no emotion when peace prevails; there is no ignorance where knowledge spreads; there is no passion where serenity reigns. Harmony, within ourselves and throughout the galaxy, shall banish all chaos. And we have learned the ultimate truth: there is no death, only the Force. The fear of death is senseless to those who embrace the Light. We therefore take it upon ourselves to spread this Light to all the galaxy. We will not obey cruel edicts; we will not be without compassion. On the contrary: we will extend compassion to all, and in so doing we will banish the Dark.

-- The initial statement of the first Jeedai Council, upon breaking with the Bendu Monks


From here, our glorious destiny shall be forged. We, the dark denizens of the universe, have found our home . Across the galaxy we have travelled, assembling the worthy in our mission to find a home among the stars -- and now the Dark side has called us here. We shall make our home here, on the world of the Sith, and break the last of our chains in order to begin our true ascent.

-- Ajunta Pall, Herald to Rajivari


“Recognizing each sentient being's inalienable right to be free, this Republic is established to defend that right and to thereby bring peace and prosperity to the people of the galaxy…

-- The Constitution of the First Galactic Republic


To limit ourselves to this backward end of the galaxy is a fool's errand. The Sith, to rule, must have ruling vision to shape and focus our will. The very nature of this necessitydemands that, before all other things, we take revenge upon our ancient enemies…

-- Naga Sadow, before beginning his Great Invasion


The Goddess shall provide our fire. The Goddess shall provide our spirit. The Goddess shall provide our victory.
-- A common chant of the Pius Dea cult


POWER! GLORIOUS POWER!

-- Exar Kun, upon conquering the shrine of Ossus


Well... Second time's the charm, or so they say.

-- Arlen Valorum, in an unguarded moment, regarding the Proclamation of the Second Galactic Republic


If this Council remains obsessed with the minutiae of its philosophical debates and dogmas, while the people of the Galaxy suffer and die, then perhaps it is time for some of us to take our leave of this calcified Order. There are real battles to be fought, and I intend to fight them.

-- Revan, announcing what would become the Great Schism


ALL HAIL REVAN, LORD PROTECTOR OF THE GALAXY, HERALD Of THE NEW ORDER, HUMANITY'S DEFENDER! LONG MAY HE REIGN!

ALL HAIL BASTILLA, MISTRESS OF THE NEW ORDER, MASTER OF THE BATTLE MEDITATION, MOTHER TO HUMANITY! MAY SHE EVER PROSPER!

ALL HAIL MALAK, SWORD OF THE NEW ORDER, BEAST OF BATTLE, BRINGER OF VCTORY! GLORY TO HIM FOR HIS TRIUMPHS OVER THE FOES OF DECENCY AND GOODNESS!

-- Coronation of the Revanchist Triumvirate


The road to hell is marked with one sign: “For the Greater Good”! Despots throughout history have used that excuse, and no doubt will continue to use it. Never ever fall into this trap, my pupils.

-- Vima Sunrider teaching the redeemed (and at that time, unknowing) Revan and Bastilla


A true Sith never allows himself to be a slave!

-- Lord Scourge to Dark Lord Bandon as he slew him in the Great Sith Conflagration Period


What a glorious time to be alive!

-- Famous explorer, naval officer (in both the Republic and Sith Navy) and Galactic crime lord Hurar Nienlk, on the High Republic


At long last, after a thousand years, we -- true Sith -- return to the galaxy! To shape it as it is meant to be shaped; to rule it as it is meant to be ruled! The soft Jedi shall be crushed beneath our heels, and once more the indolent fools of self-satisfied Coruscant shall know our name. For we are the Sith, and you forget the meaning of this at your peril...

-- Darth Malevolence, upon the Sith's return to the known galaxy


I am one with the force; the Force is with me... I am one with the force; the Force is with me... I am one with the force; the Force is with me...

-- Master Ilussis on Bothawui, repelling the Sith Invaders in the first major victory of the First Great Galactic War


We do indeed recongize the faults of our past positions and recommit ourselves to the Galaxy. As such we make the following changes:

First, that a Jedi shall take a vow of chasity and non-attachment, lest they be used (…)

-- Great Conclave of Tython


"Redemption is something we must always strive for…"

"The Council disagrees.”

-- An exchange between Jedi Knight Rack and Jedi Shadow Pauna Retiko, on the capture of Amillia Starnos


By the Force...it's all burning…

-- A bystander, looking at the great fire caused by the Sith bombardment of Coruscant


“Upon the conclusion of this treaty, the Republic and the Empire agree to lay down arms, in favour of a negotiated settlement of peace, persuant to their mutual desire to cease hostilities.

Section 1: The Republic shall diplomatically recognize the Sith Empire and acknowledge it as a true and equal power.

Section 2: The Republic shall cede the disputed areas, as outlined in the first addendum to this treaty, to the Sith Empire as its rightful territory.

Section 3: The Republic shall agree to pay the Sith Empire 100 trillion Credits in reparations, to be paid over the next fifty standard years.

Section 4: The Sith Empire shall withdraw from areas marked as being rightfully under Republic jurisdiction; and with due haste shall cease all military operations on Coruscant; and shall withdraw its forces from Republic space.

Section 5: The Sith Empire shall issue a formal apology to the Republic Senate for the incursion of Coruscant.

-- Treaty of Coruscant, ending the First Great Galactic War

Coruscant was a devastating blow for all of us, but we cannot lose hope -- nor must we lose sight of the greater picture. The Sith may think we are beaten now, but on the contrary: their self-satisfied triumphalism gives us time to rebuild,restock and plan for the next confrontation. And of course, just because there's a treaty, that doesn't not mean that we cannot act to defend justice.

-- Grand Master Satele Shan to her fellow Jedi who objected to the Treaty of Coruscant


Our Empire is dying as it is now. We have grown far too powerful, too expansive, for a council of squabbling lords to properly administrate. The bureaucracy is too content with their position, and his sunk into the morass of steady degeneration. To bring us to complete victory, the Sith need one ruler. One with glorious vision and a keen eye for the right talent to bring us to new glory. I am that man. I am the one destined to rule and to achieve the final victory.

-- Emperor Praven to his new apprentice, and future dark lord of the Sith, Dessel


Liberty is not up for negotiation!

-- Chancellor Garm Bel of the Republic, on the campaign trail

War is not something we strive for. It is a regrettable necessity in the face of aggression. Jumping into battle eagerly... losing yourself to its hateful passion... That is an even more assured way to lose yourself to the Dark side than any Sith torture chamber.

-- Master Kor Dio to his pupils Ruhani and Marta

You have a destiny, Ruhani... Wherever your steps lead, your path will bring you to a place where your actions will have great consequence. Their echo will resound throughout history, either in the name of of Darkness, or of Light.

-- The great fortune teller of Voss, to Jedi Padawan Ruhani, during the war

The difference between us, Herron? I never lost sight of what we fought for! The atrocities I saw! I know my hands are dirty, but in the end, I can say that I defend the Republic and its citizens, I fight for the Liberation of the Galaxy. What are you fighting for? What cause could possibly be worth betraying the sacrifice of your fallen brothers?!

-- Colonel Hoseph Rebak, commander of Havoc Squad and Republic war hero, to previous commanding officer and mentor Herron Tavus upon the latter's desertion

So this is how Democracy dies? Wrapped in the flag?

-- Senator Maw Maw on the signature of the confidentiality and Sedition acts

"I see into your soul, Sith, and there is nothing but a feral darkness there."

"I know it, for that is my power. You will know that power, too, little Jedi. Either by suffering its use, or by wielding it yourself. Either way, you cannot escape from it."

-- Jaesa Wilsaam and Wrath of the Emperor Darth Bane in conversation on Corellia


Ah, beautiful Corellia... Well, it was beautiful once. Destroyers and military conflict have a sad habit of tearing everything up.

-- Captain Soulmur of the Eagle Wing

You are not worthy to call yourself Emperor. Your Progenitor halted at the very brink of our final victory, and now you seek to allow us merely a hollow triumph. You would castrate us and turn us into a docile herd. Peace! Peace, and this spawn of weakness. You forget the tentes of the Sith Code. Peace is a Lie. You are already doomed, but I'll never allow you to bring our great Empire down with you.

-- Darth Malgus as he attempts to coup Emperor Praven

We have lost ourselves... and we must get back on track fast, or the Order will have a stain on its soul that will never again be washed off.

-- Barsenthor Paix rushing to prevent the release of the Rakkatan X4 virus by Republic Command


I AM THE ORDER! I AM THE SWORD OF THE REPUBLIC! HOW DARE YOU! I HAVE TAKEN THE NECESSARY STEPS TO PROTECT US ALL FROM THE SITH, WHILE YOU SHIRKED YOUR DUTIES! TRAITORS! HERETICS! YOU OWE YOUR LIVES TO ME! ALL OF YOU!

-- Grand Master Atris Korteasu of the Jedi Order, upon being informed of her removal from office and the formal charges raised against her


There will be no grand declarations, because there will be no outward victory. The Empire must die, so that the Sith may live. The worthy Sith, in worthy numbers. Only the two. Always the two, and they will inherit the power of the Sith, which is what the Sith creed is all about. Power. One to wield it, and one to crave it. This is the Rule of Two. This is what will save us, as we retreat into the shadows and leave all the others to die as they must. The Republic and the Jedi, drunk on their hollow triumph, will think the Sith extinct. And that will be our Victory!

-- Darth Bane to his apprentice Darth Amaris, beginning the Rule of two, just before the Dromund Kaas cataclysm.


Section 1: This Republic shall have a limited government based on common trust with the people and the Force. As such, the galactic goverment's main responsibility shall be control over the trade lanes and the mediation of disputes, to which ends the Senate shall be the highest body of arbitration.

Section 2: In no way shall the Republic have a centralized military force. The responsibility of military security shall remain in the hands of the individual systems, to be supported where needed by the Knights of the Jedi Order.

Section 3: The Jedi Order is henceforth under the legal authority of the Galactic Senate and shall not undertake any mission without Senate approval (...)

-- The Ruusan Constitution


"Greetings, seeker. I am Master Olana Chion of the Jedi Order. At the behest of Grand Master Luke Skywalker, I have become the head of this concerted effort to reconstruct our historical archives, after the loss of many records during the Purge. It is up to you, seeker, as a Jedi, to ensure that none of this knowledge is left to be forgotten ever again. This shall be our first part in shaping the Great Holocron. An examination of more recent events shall soon be appended, as well as an account of our tribulations during the Purge and under the Empire. May the Force be with you, as we embark upon this journey of knowledge."
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What is This?
Why this is a repost of a fanfiction ive been working on for a while! It started around two years back with a project created by a AH.Commer, Gerrbro for a potenial SWTOR Fanfiction. That got abandoned but my mind had already run off with the concepts and he allowed me to continue working on it, for which I am eternally grateful and I will point out that his intial frame work for many charecters when we come to the SWTOR era will remain in place! I expanded on it with my freind @Skallagrim and after puzzling over which way, to publish it I decided to go Full on and do a full history of my world instead of just a charecter Piece which allows me to dive in depth and have a great time. First posted on AH.com and now on SB, Ive decided Im going to expand yet further. First here, and then maybe SV. Skall continues to serve as a Great Editor and Co Writer and I cant wait for what we have ahead.


I hope you all enjoy this first Part and the Project in general!
 
Ancient Days of Yore: The Rakkatan Empire and Tython

Earl

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To get the true roots of our history, we must go back to the beginnings of recorded interstellar travel around 4,000 years ago. Before that point, the many species of the galaxy were scattered across the stars, each settled in their individual systems, consumed with their own individual quest for civilization. Among most species, knowledge of the Force was limited to only a handful. Only in particularly talented species (like the Miraluka, whose sight comes completely from the Force), and on worlds naturally steeped in the Force, was Force-sensitivity more widespread. Out of these places and species, two would arise and leave their everlasting mark upon the galaxy.

There is a saying: power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. While it is a faulty saying to say the least -- as there have been plenty of powerful individuals throughout history, from Nomi Sunrider to Grand Master Luke himself, who have been pure emblems of the Light -- there is a core of truth in it. Because power is difficult to wield responsibly. Power that is improperly wielded, or improperly taught, can be a dangerous thing indeed. And therein lies the essence of the grim history of the Rakatan Civilization.

Born in the dangerous jungle world of Lehon, the Rakkata were beset by the Dark Side, and came to totally embrace it. The Rakkata leap-frogged far ahead of other species, using their Dark powers to advance their technology of war and space-travel, fueling their campaigns of conquest and bringing immeasurable horror to countless victims. Acting as a culture of intelligent predators, the Rakkatans jumped from one planet to the other, using their command of the Force and their immensely powerful technology to kill and to enslave. Their victims, they used in Dark rituals -- among other things, to fuel their Force-based technology -- and as slaves to build their great monuments.

At its peak, the Rakatan Infinite Empire stretched out across a vast swathe of the Galaxy, from the Core to the Rim. In their empire-building, they brought about vast diasporas, transporting their slave races from one end of the galaxy to the other as they saw fit. As enslaved races built the grand projects of Empire (such as the Star Forge, to maintain the Empire's impenetrable fleets, and the City-planet of Coruscant, to serve as a capital for the Empire), the enslaved races mixed and mingled, creating new hybrid populations. The oppressed servant peoples were deliberately kept uneducated, and were indoctrinated to believe that their overlords were gods.


For a thousand years, this darkness reigned, keeping the galaxy’s peoples in misery and oppression, until -- as the servants of the Dark Side always do -- the Rakkatans overreached. In their quest for domination over yet more space, and to crush a series of particularly troubling revolts, the Rakkata developed a hideous virus. It was designed to kill species in a very specific manner as to cause their body to rip itself apart from the inside out, and it was made to target a specific species. The intent was to create a deadly plague that could be modified into strains, each targeting one or more species that they wished to exterminate.

How it came to pass that the disease turned on the Rakkata themselves is unknown, but it did. Some theorize that a civil war -- of the sort that always breaks out among those who are addled by the perverse ambitions of the Dark Side --led to a situation where some spiteful potentate, in defeat, unleashed it upon those who had crushed him. Others suspect that an attempt was made to design a strain that would only kill certain Rakkata, but it ended up mutating into a form that killed them all. The suggestion has been raised that a strain of the virus was accidentally released from the lab before it could be matured with test subjects. And some simply view the whole cataclysm as the Force itself punishing the Rakkata for their many crimes. (Quite a few religious traditions among the erstwhile slave races take that last view.)

Whatever the cause, the disease spread throughout the galaxy like wildfire, and killed the Rakkatta in their billions. Seeing their Masters' weakness at long last, the slaves threw off their chains and turned on the false gods. Throughout the Galaxy, Masters already overcome by sickness were massacred in their beds by long-abused slaves who thirsted for justice and vengeance. The old order came crashing down as the empire's dark technology was rendered helpless. Truly, to say that madness and anarchy were unleashed would be an understatement.

The Rakkata were wiped out, and in a startlingly short span of time, but their legacy would live on. The peoples they had kidnapped and transported across the stars would build new societies -- particular in the Core, where Humans were soon predominant. Although much of the Rakata technology had ceased to function or was otherwise lost to the mists of time, the technology of space travel was preserved on many worlds. This would soon launch thousands of new civilizations forward, upward... outward. Into space they went, to settle new worlds. A wild new era had begun.




One of the peoples the Rakkata disease had been meant to exterminate, as it happens, was the diverse group that we may call our spiritual ancestors: the inhabitants of Tython. This secluded world was unique and beautiful, filled with every sort of terrain imaginable, from Volcanic mountains to the famous green plains where most of its people lived. Hidden from the Rakkata by the star-masses of the Deep Core, Tython enjoyed a tranquil peace unsullied by their presence.

The other thing which made Tython unique was that the planet itself was a Force Nexus, where Light and Dark clashed in energetic waves and flurries. This conflict, ingrained to nature, affected everything on the planet -- from the terrain to the people. How those people first came to live there remains highly debated upon. Coming from many species which had yet to contact each other -- from Humans to Mon Calamari to Ancient Sith purebloods (the species, not to be confused with that Dark Order) -- the one thing they had in common was an innate sensitivity to the Force. Spread all throughout their world, they witness the clash of Dark and Light, and formed many religions around its use. However, one eventually began to dominate.

The Order of the Bendu Monks was devoted to an interpretation of the Force that we now know to be flawed; one they described as "Balance in all things". They believed that in order to successfully thrive within the Force, one must not allow either the Dark or Light Side to successfully take hold of one's allegiances; that one must suppress emotions which would cause either excessive anger or excessive compassion. Quickly, their ideals began to spread, and through a combination of conversion from peoples desperate to escape the constant conflict within themselves and outright military conquest, the once-humbed order of monks came to reign over the vast majority of habitable land on the planet.

For hundreds of years, the Bendu reigned in this fashion, keeping a false balance, isolated from the Galaxy and the Rakkata. This could not last, however. The Rakkata came at last, finally discovering the hidden planet and a way to reach it. Yet unlike other species, who were easily conquered by the might of the Rakkata fleet, the Bendu waged a cunning and ferocious campaign of resistance. They drew the enemy fleet into the system itself, and through the Force, they turned Rakkata's very own technology against them. It was a terrible war. Ancient records show at least half the Bendu died in the conflict, but in the end, they were victorious. The Rakkata were driven off, and fell to their self-made plague before they could unleash it upon the surviving Bendu.

The gruesome war, however, had unleashed wild passions among the Bendu. Many had wholeheartedly thrown themselves into the Dark Side during the war, to help them face off against their foes and give them strength, while the Light Side crept into the souls of many as the love for their comrades and the desire to heal the countless wounded inspired them. The plague and the subsequent collapse of the Rakata empire only heightened these issues, and debate raged over how to deal with the new chaotic state of Tython and the wider galaxy. The Light Siders desired to act as peaceful agents, while the Dark Siders desired conquest. Both approaches went against the wishes of the oldest Bendu Masters, who advocated a return to self-imposed isolation. To deal with the division in their ranks, the Bendu Order ordered the Tradition of Exile to be instituted. Those who strayed from the Balance or expressed other dissenting opinions were cast out into the wilds, to face their opposite emotions. Far from bringing the exiles back to the Balance, this ultimately consolidated them into new and separate factions.

In the Dark Volcanoes of Kaleth, the Students of Light were led by Learned scholar Awdrysta Pina, a teacher and healer who had done his best to help the people recover from the war, both physically and psychologically. He was initially tasked with restoring the Balance within his students to the liking of the Masters, but as his healing progressed, he quickly came to the inescapable truth: the Balance of the Bendu was impossible to maintain without psychopathic levels of non-attachment. This was not something he was willing to let his charges embrace again.

Instead, he began bringing his students to the Light, and was inevitably exiled. Leading the Light Siders, Awdrysta meditated with them until the storm in their hearts stilled. They lived in peace, and delved into the nature of the Force and their place within its cosmic order. It is here that they ultimately chose to outright reject the Dark Side. Likewise, he dismissed the false equation of the Bendu, finding that a compromise between good and evil would only ever be to the benefit of evil. They organized the first Jeedai Council of yore, with Awdrysta as the first Grand Master. With this, they permanently separated from the Bendu Order, to embrace the principles of compassion, healing and duty to others, and to spread that throughout the galaxy.

The story was much different with the DarkSiders. Festering in bitterness over their exile, they strongly desired revenge on the Bendu, and domination on the whole of Tython. One man managed to distill this anger into a doctrine. Rajivari was a veteran commander of the war against the Rakkata. During the war, he had ultimately engaged in a ruthless philosophy of no mercy, instructing his troops not to tend to wounded, to never take prisoners, and to exploit their anger to the fullest extent. Immensely powerful in the Force, he became distinguished in personal combat where he took out his unrivaled bloodlust on his foes. He already had a wide group of followers from his days as a General, and his charisma was unmatched. He took command of the Dark Siders, destroying his sole competition, the Sorceress XoXaan. She had been a Healer, who had been driven mad by the loss of her husband and turned her skills to devising poisons and other chemical weapons against the Rakkata.

Unusually by his standards, Rajivari spared XoXaan's life upon defeating her, and took her on as one of his acolytes. Proclaiming a doctrine of social competition, strength and complete domination, Rajivari took command of his dark acolytes and in one decisive stroke began the Force Wars. Setting upon the capital of the Bendu under the cover of night, the Dark Acolytes slaughtered all those who would not submit to them bloodletting from the most savage pages of history. The Bendu never recovered from this assault, their remnants either fleeing to the moons around Tython or to the Jeedai (by whom they were ultimately absorbed).

It is recorded that in the Jeedai Council, there was much debate over what to do. Of course, all were horrified by the slaughter of the Bendu Order, but after the horrors of the Rakkata invasion, many did not want to ever go to war again. It was pointed out by some that Rajivari was a far more experienced commander, and with the Bendu he had subjugated he vastly outnumbered the Jeedai. Others pointed with outrage at the shameless atrocity, and at the Code they had established. Did it not demand that they face the Dark and protect the innocent from its terrors? It fell to the Grand Master to break the stalemate of the Council. Awdrysta did so with a famous proclamation:

"Our enemy will not stop. Nothing short of complete control will ever satisfy the Dark, because the Dark thrives on a selfish and spiteful greed. We face a foe who would, if he had the power, eclipse all the stars and plunge every single world into the howling void. If the Light is to prevail, it will be because we, its servants, prove ready to defend it. It is tempting to wait, but that is fear speaking -- and fear is yet another of the enemy's instruments. We must have hope. We must spark the Light within ourselves, first of all. The Light is our courage, and bearing it in our hearts, we will make a stand against evil!"

Second Chapter of this Repost. As always would like to extend my thanks to @Skallagrim for beating this and helping spice a few things up!
 
2. The Force Wars

Earl

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Initially, the course of the war was distinctly in favor of the Dark Acolytes. Rajivari, through his cunning and ruthless strategems, had crushed the Bendu utterly. His forces had seized most of the farming lands and industrial areas, leaving only the wilds yet to be subjugatet. Rajivari and his acolytes immediately began to implement his wicked agenda. The Bendu survivors were all sent to Tython's naturally occurring focal points of Dark Side energy, Firmly separated from each other, deprived of all surpport, they were egged on by the Acolytes to embrace the passions and hatreds which set upon them. When that did not work in and of itself, they were either killed outright or delivered untoto XoXaan to be used in her horrifying experiments. She had begun developing and refining what would in later ages be called Sith Alchemy.

By the time that Rajivari decided to deal with the Jeedai directly, it seemed that it was only a matter of time before his victory would be accomplished. But Master Awdyrsta and the Jeedai, guided by Force, were ready for the confrontation. Awdyrsta had pulled back his followers to the ruins of Ashla, an ancient civilization that had been devoted to the light (the name Ashla quite literally meaning Compassion and Light). Here, he laid out his plan of action. Among the Bendu, there were myths of a great healing ritual where a master of the Force could heal a Dark side nexus completely by overflowing his Light into the nexus, driving out the Dark. The Bendu masters of course had dismissed this practice as a “dangerous false lure”, which would only lead people to forsake balance in favour of the Light. Yet this was precisely what Awdyrsta now aimed to achieve. Years before, Awdyrsta had encountered first-hand evidence of the myth's truth in his time as a scholar and archeologist. He believed that he could heal not only the planet of Tython, but also its inhabitants, if he only devoted his entire strength to it...

Awdyrsta resolved that he would lead the most in-tune healers and sages of the Force on a grand quest through the ruins of the old Ashla, while the majority of the Jeedai, under the command of Knight-General Lannore Brock, would conduct their own maneuvers (to distract the Acolytes from Awdyrsta's efforts and to sabotage as much of the Dark Acolytes' oppression and dark efforts). As Awdyrsta and his chosen companions studied, they indeed discovered the methods of the healing ritual, but found that it came at a cost. There was only so much man could give to heal others, before his own strength failed and he perished in the effort. Nevertheless, for the sake of their world, for the sake of the future generations, Awdyrsta carried forward. It was not arrogance or dark vanity which guided him, but his genuine desire to help others.

Rajivari at first took the bait that the Jeedai had set, and was lured into a cat and mouse game with Lannore and her force of elite Knights as they took the offensive. His Acolytes fended off her efforts to liberate camps close to the border and to destroy the Dark Temples he had begun to build on the Plains of Lanton. The Jeedai employed a raiding strategy, falling back into the jungles every time. Rajivari was careful to avoid being drawn into the jungles himself, and was certain that he could win a war of endurance. Yet he sensed something off. He knew Lannore from his service with her in the war and he was familiar with her style of strategic thinking. As such, ge suspected that his opponents were up to something. Where was Awdrysta? Surely he'd have a role in these sorts of operations…

Suspecting a trick, Rajivari had a team of assassins, under the command of his up-and-coming disciple, Soruz Syn, track down and capture several Jeedai. These, he personally interrogated… By the time their limp corpses hit the ground, Rajivari was already on the move. Knowing of the capture of her agents, and expecting that the plot had been discovered, Lannore knew she had to make a stand to prevent Rajivari from by-passing her and pursuing Awdrysta--and make a stand she did. In the mountain pass leading into Ashla, the Jeedai stood strong against the dark horde. Like the Masters they were protecting, the Force guided their blades in precision, and gave them the strength of a hundred thousand.

They paid the highest price for their courage. Although they took down many Dark siders, the host of Jeedai died at the gates of Ashla. Lannore herself fought Rajivari in single combat, giving her life to stop him from entering and interrupting the ritual that Awdyrsta and his companions were performing the cleanse Tython.

In the end, the sacrifices were worth it. At the cost of his own life, Awdyrsta’s light blanketed the entire planet, calming the Dark side focal points, and soothing the planet's hurt. It also greatly disrupted the Dark siders' ability to fight -- at least for a short time -- as the Light enveloped Tython. although they would soon recover their will to fight, they would never again have quite the anchor of darkness on Tython that they previously enjoyed. The remaining Jeedai took the opportunity to quickly evacuate from the ruins of Ashla, depriving the Dark Acoyltes of the opportunity to eliminate theit foe right then and there. Elsewhere, uprisings broke out in the prison camps that Rajivari had erected.

After this immense defeat on the border of old Ashla, with his army much reduced and their sources of strength gone, Rajivari’s leadership was immediately questioned. Sensing weakness and opportunity, several competitors emerged to challenge him (although curiously, his old rival XoXaan remained silent). He had to do battle , which he did on the plain of Tythos, burning his rivals alive with Force Lightning -- and with key aid from a young Acoylte loyalist, Ajunta Pall, for whose loyalty he made his first personal apprentice and Herald. With his leadership secure again, Rajivari took to meditating on the next steps for his order. He realised that Tython was lost to him. He could fight a way, and perhaps even defeat the Jeedai, but it would immensely weaken his own side as well. And the risk of defeat was, for the first time, very real.

He reached a startling decision. Better to retreat in good order, maintain what strength his forces still had, and rebuild their full might in a more suitable location. Above all else, Rajivari knew that the great warrior fights from a position of strength, noble sacrifices for the greater good were Jeedai; Rajivari aimed to always win. And to only join battle if victory seemed at least probable. Thus, in the dead of night, the Dark Acolytes took the ships they had been planning to use for galactic conquest, and fled into space. The world of Tython was just not worth their time any more; the dark powers which had served as a anchor for the Acolytes were now gone and the war against the Jeedai was deemed a worthless effort. Rather than clingin to Tython, Rajivari and his Dark Acolytes would find a new home among the stars.

Under the guidance of Rajivari, the Dark Acolytes would slink through space,slowly advancing towards the Outer Rim. On the voyage, the Acolytes would often stop at planets they encountered, raiding, capturing slaves to either toil or sale at the next world... They also made a habit of taking whatever Force-sensetives they encountered for their mission, either through persuasion or abduction. Inevitably, many others, not Force-sensitive, eagerly agreed to serve as soldiers and servants in exchange for immense riches once they reached their promise land. This was no surprise: every society has its war-like adventurers, willing to strike out on a voyage of plunder, and after seeing the power of the Dark Acolytes, many of such types knew that this was their chance to engage in such violence. Thus, the ranks of the Dark Fleet grew steadily.

Throughout the journey, Rajivari would delve deeper into the Force, and found the secret to immortality... of a sort. He tied his darkened soul to a Holocron of immense power. His physical body died before the Fleet reached its destination, but his warped spirit, closely guarded by his loyal Herald, survived to guide his minions even from beyond the grave. The evil spectre told his loyalists that in death, he had finally received the vision he had long hoped to receive from the Dark Side itself; and that it had told him of a planet where his followers should settle. So it was done, and they now had their true destination: the haunted deserts of the planet Korriban, where the Dark reigned strong, and a civilization of Force-senstives awaited their conquest…

The Jeedai, for their part, recovered from the war--but slowly. While the darkness of their world might have been healed, they had lost much, and needed to heal both body and mind. Most of the remaining Bendu either joined the Jeedai in due time, or spread out into the galaxy, where they formed (or merged with) all sorts of Force-based traditions and organizations. None of these were as wicked as the Dark Acolytes had been, but many of them were far from devoted to the Light, either. In the chaotic galaxy, the Force could be a tool of evil as well as a power for good. And so the Jeedai, after having recovered the bulk of their strength, went out into space as well, to fulfill the tenets of their Code and bring Light to those trapped in shadow.

Grand Master Lorr Pinza -- the nephew of Awdyrsta -- was determined that his Order of Knights would teach many students across the Core worlds of the galaxy, so that the Jeedai could grow in number and meaningfully fulfull their duties. This happened as he had hoped it would, to the point that a Jeedai Academy would become a ubiquitous institution across the Core. The Order would gain a good reputation, and the Jeedai would soon serve as honest brokers and negotiators for peace, as healers of the sick, and as lawmen against particularly troublesome criminals. They would also preach the Light and bring many worlds to believe in its promise… This bond with civilization is what we Jedi seek to replicate today: we are always with the civilisations of the galaxy, but not always fully of their ranks; not bound by petty political agendas, yet ready to defend justice and aid the needy.

Now, we must turn our attention to the wider context of these turbulent events: the state of galactic civilization in the aftermath of the Rakkatan Empire's collapse, and the circumstances that led to the formation of the First Galactic Republic.
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Alrighty, second chapter up for all of you happen to read .... I think Ill update quicker this time so any of you guys who happen to like or read can get the newest stuff more quickly.

As Always thanks to @Skallagrim for the editing and spicing up!
 
Chapter Three: The three Core worlds and the formation of Core Civilization

Earl

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The Rakkata collapse had at last liberated trillions of sentient beings across the Galaxy from unimaginable oppression and misery, but it had also left the bulk of them in a miserable state. Massively under-educated and in many cases arbitrarily transported across the stars, the oppressed people were now left to fend for themselves. The remaining technology of the fallen empire was often beyond their comprehension, and they would need time to learn and understand. At the same time, their cultural identity had been carefully stamped out: before them lay the long road towards building up new societies for themselves. These difficult circumstances would shape all the post-Rattakan societies, and greatly influence their future development. Some were more fortunate than others...



The Core Worlds of the galaxy were, like all others, thrown into total chaos when the Rakkata civilization died. Yet it was also there that the greatest populations were concentrated. This broad demographic base spurred on the exchange of knowledge and technology, and it was therefore also from the Core that the new leading civilizations of the galaxy would spring forth. In the context, the worlds of Coruscant, Corellia and Alderaan deserve our special attention. These three are universally recognized as the three founders of the First Republic, and each would be critical in shaping its government, laws, cultural practices and its guiding ethos.



It would, for the very same reasons, also be these systems which originated the flaws that would be woven into the fabric of galactic civilization for millenia thereafter. We may even be so bold as to assert that many of these flaws lived on ever after, and were even instrumental in an event so recent as the creation of Darth Sidious's Galactic Empire. The dark policies that the Empire put forth, and the hateful attitudes and mechanism that shaped them, can ultimately traced back to a point before the very founding of the First Republic. We would do well to study such a dark legacy carefully, so that we can learn what was done well, and what was done poorly. Only by learning can we strive to improve.





Coruscant



Although there are many false etymologies, the name "Coruscant" most probably derives from a term meaning "prime meat" in the language of the Rakkata. They had initially regarded as a rich bounty, where they captured many good slaves. Later, they turned it into their administrative capital. In their hubris, they built a city that expanded to cover the entire surface of the planet to serve as their capital; a gigantic monument to their glory, or more specifically the glory of the Predor who ordered the planet's industrialization. A trillion new slaves were brought in to serve the Rakkata, toiling away in the under levels keeping the planet's massive infrastructure intact or serving as entertainment, servants... and indeed as food for the Rakkata masters on the upper levels. They were all manners of species, from humans to Mon Calamari, living segregated in their own separate quarters of misery and deliberately placed into direct, lethal competition with one another. The Rakkata proclaimed this competition in their typical manner, saying that any species which failed in its duty to the "Gods"' would have more of its youth sacrificed at great banquets. Thus, they taught their slaves to hate each other.



When the Rakkata started dying in the Great Plague, these engineered racial tensions were temporarily swept aside by the realization of the slaves that their oppressors were not invincible gods, but frail beings: sick and dying. All peoples joined together in the Great Revolution. According to many legends, the underworld of Coruscant was said to have had downpours of black rain as the slaves killed their Masters by the millions. Regardless of whether or not that is true, the slaves did rise up, fighting their way to the surface, where they saw sunlight for the very first time. Unfortunately, their sense of unity was not to last.



With the death of the Rakkata came a shutdown of interstellar trade and of the endless flow of food needed to keep Coruscant functioning in any remotely bearable way. Famine of a unimaginable scale hit the planet almost immediately, killing in the tens of billions and shattering the planet's fragile newborn unity. The dividing lines of species were soon back in place, as battle lines formed in the ruthless battle to secure resources. The former slaves fought each other for food, energy sources, and for control of the upper city, where some new food could be grown. The fighting was vicious, with Coruscanti city levels often becoming based entirely on this fight for resources. At one point, Rajivari even considered making landfall on Coruscant, so strong were the dark rivalries raging there, although he eventually decided to go elsewhere. It is believed that he considered the risk too great that his acolytes would become lost in the turbulent sea of warring factions.



To escape this constant warfare, a good deal of the population left Coruscant, seeking to escape into space, sparking the Coruscanti Diaspora. However, only few had the skills to reliably pilot starships. Those that did manage to escape, often taking many others with them as passengers, at least somewhat reduced the population pressure on the planet. And for those who remained, there were a few bright spots.



In the fractured societies, where survival often relied on social cohesion and cooperation, it became common for leading figures to try and curry to the will of the people when it came to discussing basic necessities. This eventually led to the formation of citizen councils who would be designated to represent the inhabitants. Over time, these councils grew in power, to the point where they were the ones in charge, the designated strongmen of older days being reduced to serving as first among equals. Of course the little potentates and dictators resisted this change, but often they came face to face with a mob of their own very angry citizens and forced to walk a plank into the oblivion of the lower levels. Thus, Coruscant by necessity pioneered the democratic ideals that would become its foremost contribution to the galaxy. In the quest to maintain their resources, the people of Coruscant also became expert engineers, developing the cutting edge of technology which would be used later in developing the Core.



Peace finally came about by three factors: the increased strength of the Zhell, the universal desire by Coruscanti to expand outside their home system, and the arrival of the Jeedai. The Zhell were a faction of Humans who had managed to unite several city levels at the center of the planet, and they were quickly expanding to other areas and in control of a massive military. However, instead of fighting, their strength allowed them to intimidate most rivals into submission. This terrified the other factions, and a coalition was forming to fight the Zhell, but the reestablishment of widespread contact with the galaxy also occurred during this period (roughly 3800 years before the Battle of Endor). The initiation of renewed links to other worlds forestalled the looming conflict, as the entire planet turned its gaze to the stars with both apprehension and awe. All desired to touch them, to get the resources of other planets, and this—instead of fighting each other—soon became priority.



Then came the Jeedai, bringing their knowledge of the Force. And not only that, but they also brought education to the masses and indeed a trained corps of diplomats. Cultural exposure from their educational efforts and the patient, wise negotiating of Grand Master Alana Dorma ensured that internecine war would not flare up again. Master Dorna used the Zhell’s apparent strength as a good tool for negotiating out a treaty. After all, why fight a war when you could limit the threat of a rival's power through diplomacy? The people of Coruscant were brought into a union based on democratic principles and from there would go into the galaxy, colonizing the world of Euphrades to be their primary food producer. This finally solved the problem of the resource shortages, and allowed Coruscant to begin spreading its influence further afield. The Coruscanti soon began introducing their republican principles wherever they went, which would eventually put them in conflict with aristocratic Alderaan....





Corellia



The Corellian system lies at an intersection both literally, serving as a major hub on a number of important trade lanes, and culturally, containing five habitable worlds, a dozen moons of various sizes, with three species all living together. Humans, Selonians and Drall interacted in myriad ways long before contact was reestablished with the wider galaxy. Humanity was of course brought to the Corellian system by the Rakkatan Empire as slaves, but the Selonians and Drall appear to be native to the system, both being species descended from rodents, who burrowed down deep to hide while the darkness of the Rakkata stuck to the surface. This deeply affected their culture, making isolationism their standard policy, which has led to complicated interactions with the Corellian Human population. (Indeed, the relations between species in the Corellian system often parallel relations between humans and non-humans on a galactic scale—for good or ill.)



After the fall of the Rakkata, the peoples of Corellia divided amongst themselves. Some groups fought over control of the space around them, others spent their efforts trading resources. Unlike other worlds however, where either some class of nobility or other various strongmen took control, or democracy managed to emerge, Corellia took to a different tradition. The Corellians ran their world by a different set of rules, and they have prided themselves on it ever since. The prime position they took in local trade, often made groups of merchants and traders the local powerhouses, as they controlled supply of resources both inside the system and as it pertained to the limited outside trade. As the power brokers, the merchant-princes were often the ones who could pull the puppet strings of local politics. They could provide jobs to the people, winning their support and admiration. Fairly soon they were the only real powers in Corellian Human society. Their desire to expand their markets led them to rally behind a champion for this cause: Tail Solo.



An up and coming trader, Tail saw the innumerable wars between Corellian Mmrchants and their client kingdoms as a terrible waste. Senseless war was just plain bad for business. No, he was a man with a vision of the future. It wasn't to spent fighting each other, but rather by growing rich together. He envision a Corellian trade empire, its merchants unifying and building up new ships to expand interstellar trade and settle new worlds. Through much painstaking effort and alliance building, Tail collected a group of younger merchants and pilots—the next generation of merchant-princes, as it were—and announced the creation of the Corellian Trade Council.



It was a group of companies and trade guilds that agreed to terms of limited profit sharing and a charter of regulations for mutual protection and benefit. The regulations forbade unfair practices aimed at squashing competitors who were also on the Council. At the same time, the pooling of resources allowed for a powerful military fleet at the Council's avail. Pirates and swindlers would be dealt with harshly. Finally the Council's common fund would allow members to get secure loans in times of unexpected setbacks. Within a generation, the members of the Council would expand to control the entire planet. All Corellian ventures of expansion were undertaken under the aegis of the Council. Its General Board became, functionally, an interplanetary government, sending out more and more people out to the stars; Corellian explorers discovering new hyperspace routes and the like...



Yet it was a government unlike any other. On other worlds, there were governments that regulated companies in other ways. On Corellia, the companies were the government. The shareholders and stakeholders of the Board were the one with power to decide policy. Their primary drive, as one might expect, was profit. This certainly resulted in immense wealth. Yet there was a darker side to it: the Selonians and Drall were placed in Reservations on their moons, left largely to themselves, so that they wouldn't get in the way of progress and profit. This was a sad portent of where many Core World policies would lead for the next millennia. At the time, few even shrugged over it. The wealth trickled down, since there was more than enough of it to go around. Even the poorest Corellian could join a colonization mission and make something of himself. The high frontier beckoned!



It was Corellian capitalism that charted the hyperlanes of the Core. It was the intrepid daring of Corellian navigators that led to the reestablishment of meaningful long-distance interstellar contact. It was Corellian trade and Corellian wealth that sparked much of the Core World renaissance that would precede the Coruscant-Alderaan Contention and the establishment of the First Republic. It was the Corellian tradition of secure property right and mercantile legal structures that shaped the galactic economy for endless centuries yet to come. And it was the Corellian faith in free trade and free markets that shaped a great deal of galactic culture.


Alderaan

It is a bitter piece of historical irony that the Empire which loudly proclaimed itself to be a bastion of what is called "Human High Culture" would so cruelly destroy the ancestral homeworld of that very cultural tradition. And indeed, Alderaan would rightly stake a claim to that legacy. If Coruscant shaped the political traditions and institutions, and Corellia forged the economy and the marketplace values, then Alderaan birthed the cultural values of galactic civilization. Although there have been those who used these ideas as the basis for prejudice and exclusion, it cannot be denied that the cultural heritage of Alderaan is extremely rich. Most of what remains of the heritage is that which Alderaan passed on the rest of the galaxy—which is much indeed—for Alderaan itself is gone forever. Destroyed by those proclaimed allegiance to a lofty cultural tradition that the Alderaani themselves bequeathed to the galaxy. Let us remember the lesson well; that all fires can be turned against the ones who lighted them.

The quest now to preserve Alderaan's history and knowledge is not just a task upon which we embark as historians; it is also one of solemn remembrance of the dead, and of the beauty that was lost. We must not forget, and we must instill it into younger generations that thet must always be watchful against the dark forces that destroy precious things. Before her destruction by the Death Star battle station, Alderaan was a world of passionate, immense beauty; of forests and oceans, of snow-capped mountain ranges that would stretch out beyond the horizon. They shall not be seen again by mortal eyes. The least we can do is remember Alderaan, and its long history.

Alderaan's precise function under the Rakkata Empire is unknown. There are no great monuments of ego, nor any of the devices which usually accompany them. There are no ruins of great cities built through slave labor. There do appear to be some burrows of an insectoid species, and Rakkatan records do make mention of a “relocation of native primitives”, but this native race of Alderaan has not been encountered again since. The modern consensus is that Alderaan was still in the process of being colonized by the Rakkata when their empire died. There were some Human slaves already present, certainly, and they spread throughout the planet afterwards. It seems they were relatively few in number, and they were certainly left to fend for themselves without the ingrown infrastructure of many planets.

This situation proved to be both a blessing and a curse to the early Alderaani. It was a blessing because many a time when the Rakkata conquered a world, they had absolutely no concern for the environmental effects of their policies (as in the case of Coruscant) and indeed left behind both horrible pollution and dark, destructive technology. Yet it was a curse because the people were without many of the tools which made initial civilization so much easier on other worlds. Without this technology, it was often a struggle just to survive the seasons of nature or to get enough food for one's community. This harsh reality caused immense societal pressures. To cope with this, the Alderaani people built immensely on family ties, all intensely driven together by the need to survive. These family traditions were often very well recorded, indeed a ordinary Alderaani family likely had a tree detailing their ancestors all the way to the earliest ages of recorded history. Sadly, most of these famed family trees of the Alderaani dynasts were destroyed along with the planet.

The situation also caused the emergence of strongmen leaders, who would establish their control over a community and would ultimately put themselves and their scions in place as the hereditary leaders of the community. Invariably, there would soon be a hierarchy of vassalized families within each community. Every bloodline would have a specified and well-known social status, and it was precisely recorded who owed fealty to whom, and what the specific feudal obligations were.

Farmers and laborers, the vast majority, were placed at the bottom of the social ladder, as serfs to the new lords. In exchange for defense and security, the serfs would agree to allow the nobility to lead them and dictate their movements, jobs and resource distribution. And like many other worlds, these groups came into conflict; families fighting over land, resources or petty grudges. These feuds often extended for centuries at a time, indeed lasting past the creation of the First Republic, affecting Alderaanian politics and life well into the Second Great Galactic War Era, 1000 years ago. To make up for this, the nobility often attempted to bond their families together using marriage between children as an avenue, although often as not these alliances were built on the wind and blew away easily.

Yet during these times of conflict, that very same nobility began competing in more constructive ways as well: in matters of prestige. The aristocrats of Alderaan sponsored some of the most venerable institutions of learning in galactic history. They became great centers to exchange knowledge on philosophical matters, and the learned academics of Alderaan established doctrines which are still held in the highest regard to this very day. Their love of beauty and art, similarly, led to the creation of some of the greatest masterpieces this galaxy had ever seen— many sadly lost to the cruelty of the Empire now. This sort of industrious learning soon infected the rest of the Alderaanian court, spreading the ethos of Family, Learning, and Spiritual strength across Alderaanian society to be reflected in everything they built from their clothing to their architecture.

While in early Alderaanian history, the common people suffered, the flowering of Alderaan's culture led to what is—tellingly!—called a humanist tradition. And indeed, we see the shadowy side of the idea in the name itself: the culture of humans, which uses humanity as its standard for all things, potentially at the expense of other sentients. But it must be granted that this tradition raised thinkers and artisans into the highest esteem, to the point that Alderaani aristocrats were in the end expected to be educated in art and philosophy, more than in warfare. The nobility saw itself as a benign elite of poet-princes, and increasingly began to act upon a sense of social responsibility.

As on many other planets, the leding principles of the culture were eventually unified and codified by one man. Just as Corellia had its Tail Solo, Alderaan produced the philosopher-king Delant Panteer. Zealously dedicated to Alderaanian culture and institutions, Delant used his extensive knowledge ofhistory and culture, and a keen diplomatic skill, to forge a union with the other two major aristocratic houses of Alderaan—Organa and Ulgo. Using diplomatic skill to marry off his children into their families, and the implicit military threat of his well-trained army, he became the foremost of the nobles. He also capitalized on the fears of his fellow aristocrats, saying that to protect and further institutionalize their position in Alderaanian culture, uniting in common cause would be necessary.

Delant was canny and insightful, and he knew well that an oppressive regime could never last in the long term. He ensured that the responsibilities of the aristocratic houses towards the people were enshrined in legal statutes, and it was thanks to his reforms that poverty ultimately disappeared from Alderaan almost entirely. A well-off people, wanting for nothing and surrounded by beauty, was content to always keep things as they were. And in this way, Delant Panteer ensured the safety and supremacy of the aristocratic families for the remained of Alderaan's history. Yet his vision did not end at the fringes of Alderaan's atmosphere. Like most ambitious men of old, Delant was a firm believer in expansion to keep Alderaan safe and to protect her institutions, building a vast fleet and spreading Alderaanian philosophy, values and influence into the galaxy under the Core Renaissance. Alderaanian cultural notions were thus brought to many worlds. This influenced countless societies in countless ways, but it also propelled Alderaan into the conflict that would become known to history as the First Coruscant-Alderaan Contention...
 
Chapter 4.Core renaissance and the lead up to the First Alderranian Coruscanti Contenion

Earl

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As we have already seen, the Core Renaissance was sparked by the intensified contact between various worlds. Their opening up to interplanetary trade allowed resources, technology, ideas and wealth to spread rapidly. This was the basis for a wave of expansion, as the peoples of the various planets expanded and colonized new worlds. In the process, many old internal disputes (often fought over scarce resources) became meaningless: there were whole worlds to be won out there. Corellian trade companies primarily pioneered all these efforts, skilled Corellian pilots using their home world's unique position between various stars as a good navigation point chart safe courses past obstacles, mapping the way for others to follow. The profit-minded Corellian council was very willing to veritably drown promising mercantile enterprises in credits in order to gain contact with ever more worlds. (And in return, the council got to dictate the lucrative terms of many a new trade agreement.)

The Jedi (having shortened their name to the now-familiar form by this point) were no less active, albeit with quite more selfless motives. Primarily seeking to spread their knowledge, as well as to learn from the peoples of other worlds, many a Jedi found his way onto the exploration ships. Indeed, they were welcome additions to any crew, because they were often instrumental in diplomatic talks and establishing good relations. In return, the Corellian merchant marine ensured that Jedi were always welcome in any spaceport under the terms of their trade agreements. Under the Corellian economic charter of the time, killing a Jedi was one of the few crimes that warranted the highest possible sanction: universal economic boycott and embargo.

The Jedi of course also had the Force as their ally, guiding them past dangers which even the Corellian navigators had difficult avoiding, thus providing a fine first impression to those they met. This was yet another reason for all explorers to always think favorably of the Jedi. Standard policy of the Order was to have one group of Jedi Masters and students stay behind and set up a conclave to provide training for a world's Force sensitives (often in various stages of awakening to their abilities) and services for her people. They would provide navigational buoys which would run all the way back to Tython itself and connect communications between other Jedi enclaves, spreading knowledge and culture -- often providing the first steps to peace and global unification, which is so crucial for the steps needed to get a people off the surface and up into space.

The expansion of the Core's economic interaction sphere soon saw unprecedented affluence in the region. Wealth that no one world could have achieved on its own was created, and all sorts of new ideas spread across the spacelanes. As often happens in history, when one world can trade with another they both gain access not just to increased wealth and resources, but to all sorts of cultural and intellectual influences. The cultural exchange of the Core Renaissance influenced all the peoples involved in it, as new ideas from other systems took root on many worlds; ideas that would not ordinarily have achieved prominence if there hadn't been interplanetary contact. It was in this way that certain ideals of Alderaanian Humanism quickly took hold among many elites, and it was in the same manner that countless other things spread out, such as the martial arts of the Echani and their philosophy of expression through battle.

The Renaissance-era drive towards colonization and expansion also evolved into a great wandering of peoples. More than just colonization, entire peoples took to the stars, often intermingling and forming new cultures. Long before, the Rakkata had forced such developments: now they occurred in a more natural, voluntary way. Whether to relieve population pressures on their worlds of origin, to gain resources or indeed just for the thrill, billions would start settling on previously unexplored planets and build new societies. At first most of them were beholden to their benefactors back in the home planet, but most grew increasingly independent as time passed. This was especially the cases as populations merged and the ongoing cross pollination of ideas proceeded steadily. This forged new identities; new peoples.

Moreover, the difficulties of the typical colonial settlement in its early stages, and the shared hardships of this rough existence, tended to produced hardy people. Rugged societies arose, used to self-reliance, and subsequently fond and proud of their own independence. Many settlers came to consider their homeworlds a bit soft, and a lot distant: full of people who could not have much understanding of their struggles on the frontier. Many worlds we all know -- Anaxes, Kuat, Chandrila and Alsakan -- were settled in this time period. (It is strange indeed, to think of such genteel Core Worlds as "rugged frontier settlements", yet that is what they were back then!)

Sadly, the time of peace and prosperity could not last forever. The same mechanism of expanding markets and new settlement, which had led to the cessation of many old hostilities on the participating worlds themselves, would soon prove to be a spark for conflict between those worlds. Almost immediately in this curious game of expansion and trade, Coruscant and Alderaan found themselves at odds. Their mutual enmity was to some extent rooted in an ideological distaste for the other's systems of government, but there was also the more prosaic issue of material needs.

Simply put: to stay afloat and keep the Coruscant running, the city planet needed vast amounts of resources and food, which could only be acquired via access to the open Galactic market, and particularly through colonial outposts to straight up exploit numerous agrarian worlds. The interplanetary expansion had put an end to the risk of starvation, allowing the Coruscant population to boom. This vast populace's very survival now relied on the constant arrival of food and resources. More than simply an economic interest, this was an existential condition upon which Coruscant was dependent.

Meanwhile, the Panteer dynasty of Alderaan already had ambitions at exercising power -- at least indirectly -- over the entire Core itself, and had her own needs to attend to. Specifically, the Alderaanian economy was stuck in a budget crunch. To maintain aristocratic rule, Delant had introduced a wide ranging social welfare system which provided for the citizens on the bottom rungs of society. However, running this kind of welfare system for all of Alderaan and its dependencies was in no way cheap. The aristocracy was thus forced to impose high taxation, while keeping economic regulation down and relying on "innovation grants" and "special economic zones" in order to maintain a somewhat business-friendly environment.

The problem was that many of the working poor were moving en masse to the new colonies, specifically to the "special economic zones", where they mostly escaped taxation, while their families on Alderaan still claimed economic benefits. All possible options proved difficult te carry out. Eliminating the special economic zones would allow broader taxation but would drive away business in a heartbeat. Lowering taxes would mean cutting back on social welfare, risking mass social unrest. Trying to cut the families of those who did untaxed labour similarly risked riots and instability. Alderaan was in a bind. To make matters worse: increasingly more Alderaani workers left the Alderaanian economic sphere altogether, working in Corellian and Coruscanti colonies instead (often while their families still claimed welfare back on Alderaan).

The Royal Budgetary Office projected that the only option to resolve the impasse would be to double down on expansion. Exploitation of more colonies could easily create a budget surplus. The plan was to give entire worlds in trust to aristocratic houses, who could then lease exploitation rights to corporations. The revenue would pay for universal welfare back on the home planet. All in all, it made a certain kind of sense. But to manage this, it was calculated, Alderaan would need to gain the same worlds that Coruscant was eying hungrily, and indeed needed in order to keep its still-expanding population fed.

Initially, the conflict that resulted from these clashing and mutually exclusive ambitions was just a war of words: a series of diplomatic rows. Then, it became a series of economic battles, which saw the Coruscanti and the Alderaani competing to spread their values and gain more favorable trade deals. This impended a massive media effort on both sides, often spurred on by the government, to portray the other world as either a “Festering black hole of corruption and filth” or a “Feudal pit of despair”. One would not be off the mark in calling it a propaganda war, aimed at turning the fledgling Galactic community against the rivaling party. This increased a mutual hatred among the two populations, and soon had the people shouting for more aggressive action against their rivals. This sentiment (very important to democratic Coruscant in particular) was actively encouraged, and it allowed for more openly militaristic actions to be pursued. Both sides issued letters of marque, sponsoring various outfits of pirates to raid the other side's colonies and plunder their commerce fleets. As a direct result, both factions increased their naval budgets and boosted their fleet activities. It took but little time before Alderaan and Coruscant were knee-deep into several proxy wars all across the Core.

The Jedi Order (as always dedicated to peace and justice and horrified that innocent people would suffer in the conflict) and Corellian government (as always dedicated to trade and profit, and horrified that its two biggest economic partners were about to ravage each other and lay waste to the trade routes) rushed to prevent further escalation. At their behest, a last-ditch peace conference was organized, but even as the diplomats of both sides negotiated, the match was already set to the fuse. The magnificent Alderaanian vessel Light Of Aldera was attacked and destroyed by Coruscant-affiliated pirates as it attempted to escort a treasure ship across neutral space. Coruscant had not authorized its destruction, but that did not stop the Alderaanian Noble Crown from demanding apologies and reparations. The incident became the foremost issue of all public debate, and it was soon impossible not to have an opinion... not to pick a side. And neither Coruscant nor Alderaan could now afford to back down. As the doomed peace conference dissolved in chaos, the first direct engagement between Alderaani and Coruscanti war-fleets already occurred before the diplomats had even formally adjourned the summit. The Jedi, in their sorrow, could feel the deaths of thousands instantly across the Core. (The Corellians, in their sorrow, could see the stock exchange take a deep plunge.)

The first of the infamous Coruscant-Alderaan Contentions had begun in earnest.
 
Chapter 5. First Coruscanti-Alderran Contention and the formation of the First Republic

Earl

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The First Coruscant-Alderaan Contention was a war unlike any other the Core had seen to date at that time. It was fought at a lightning pace, and its destruction touched every corner of the Core worlds. Both the Coruscanti and Alderaani fleets would focus their energies primarily on two fronts: commerce warfare and attacks on colony settlements. The practice of aggressive state-sponsored commerce raiding exploded massively with increased involvement from the Republican Fleet and the Royal Navy, both dancing around each other in their deadly conflict over the colony worlds. No effort was spared to disrupt the opponent's trade and supply lines. At the same time, brutal attacks on existing colonies were systematically carried out in an attempt to drive the enemy from the contested space altogether.

The respective alliance systems, which both powers had so very carefully constructed beforehand, were initiated— this grappled new systems like Anaxes and Alsakan into the conflict, expanding the scope of the war and costing even more lives. The bloodshed raged across the Core, both on countless planetary surfaces and in the voids of space. From Kuat to Chandrila, entire planets became battlegrounds, covered with networks of trenches like criss-crossing scars. The very works instruments of death that manufacturers could produce were soon proliferated and eagerly used.

Of course, during this time, the Jedi and the Corellians continued to seek a solution that could bring the two forces to the table -- but to no avail. At this point, it be political suicide for either government to back down, as the war had only exacerbated the resource issues which had initially sparked the conflict. In addition, the avid propaganda campaigns had done their work in whipping the masses into a jingoistic frenzy. Thus, turning back now would entail justifying the decision to an enraged public that had already been thrown into the furnace of war. (In Alderaan's case, this could potentially even destroy the carefully established balance between the noble houses. House Organa in particular, which was at that time under the direction of the scheming Count Vidian, was eagerly waiting for a good opportunity to take the throne from House Panteer. As such, the royal family could not afford to show any weakness.)

The two warring governments, now locked into the conflict and more committed to the course of war than ever, both endeavored to knock the other out of the conflict with one decisive blow. On Alderaan, the newly formed government of King Darman Panteer, who had won broad support among all ranks of society by promising that he would bring swift victory, began Operation Dauntless. Presented as an end to the more sedate strategy that the new King dismissed as 'half measures', Dauntless was nothing short of a direct military assault on Coruscant itself. King Darman cannot be said to have had no vision: where all others -- on both sides -- relied on strategies focused on colonial campaigns, he realized that abandoning several colonies to their fate would be worth it if this freed up enough forces to take Coruscant directly. If he had the enemy's capital, he could then dictate peace terms and simply take back every lost colony... and more besides.

Wildly ambitious as the strategy may have been, it was not illogical. A key disadvantage of the Coruscant system's spatial geography was -- and remains to this day -- the sheer number of routes which can be opened through hyperspace directly into the system. There are always a few new ones being discovered throughout the centuries, and when an enemy learns of these routes before the Planetary Defense Force does, this lends would-be invaders an immense advantage. Repeatedly, Coruscant's unmatched accessibility -- at the very nexus of many hyperspace routes -- has proven to be as deadly to its defense as it has been profitable to its coffers. This was the method used by King Darman in his attempt to cut at Coruscant's throat. Utilizing secret contacts with various Corellian smugglers, the King would learn of one such secret route into the system, far enough outside the range of immediate Coruscanti sensors. Under the command of prominent nobleman Tyrosus Thul -- an excellent commander and, importantly for the purposes of domestic politics, completely beholden to the Panteer family which had raised the Thuls into the nobility -- the Alderaanian forces would jump in and lay waste to the enemy fleet before the Coruscanti even knew they were upon them.

It was a sound military plan, one which would indeed be employed successfully several times throughout the centuries -- however, this time, it was a devastating failure. A highly alert sensor technician happened to be on the watch that day, and spotted a gravitational flux where there shouldn't be one. He warned his superiors, who -- paranoid because of the ongoing war -- took it seriously where they would've probably dismissed the readings as a fluke during peacetime. The strange readings were verified within minutes. Detecting the approaching threat, and realizing what it meant, the Coruscanti mobilized with incredible speed. The entire merchant marine was conscripted into the defense of the system.

In the titanic battle that followed, both sides devastated each other's fleet. Understanding that he had lost the element of surprise, King Darman saw only one option remaining: he recommitted all Alderaanian forces to the attack on Coruscant. If this battle were to be lost, the war would be over for him anyway. This had to be won. For their part, the Coruscanti also withdrew their fleets at maximum speed. As a result, the battle would span six days and six nights of continuous fighting. More and more reinforcements arrived for each side, wave upon wave. The space around Coruscant became a massive graveyard of destroyed ships. Ultimately, faced with the destruction of essentially his entire fleet, Tyrosus chose to withdraw with those of his ships that could still escape. The Coruscanti fleet had no ships left with which to pursue him -- in fact, barely enough left to defend Coruscant. In the span of a week, two military superpowers had annihilated each other's forces almost completely.

Devastated utterly, neither Coruscanti or Alderaani would be able to continue the conflict. After all this senseless destruction, a truce was signed that more or less agreed on status quo ante, pending further negotiations. Most outside observers expected -- and could be forgiven for expecting -- that both Coruscant and Alderaan would sink further into the abyss of dark hatred and resentment, the evil word of revanchism heavy in the air. Instead, something almost happened that may almost be called unique in galactic history: beaten and near-crippled by the destructive war, both sides approached each other and tried to reach an understanding. To understand how this came about, we will need to look at economics, politics, and indeed at military concerns at the time.

On the economic side of things, the war itself had been so devastating that both sides were quite simply forced to cooperate and trade with each other quite extensively. Refusal to do so would mean social collapse. This would make any resumption of hostilities quite simply suicidal from an economic standpoint. The side that hypothetically attempted such a thing would face bread riots within the month, and the government would fall within weeks of that. Everyone understood this. The subsequent trade would rapidly bring about increased contact with the other side, breaking down barriers that had lasted even through the Core Renaissance.

Politically speaking, the Coruscanti government was forced by an insurgent reformist movement to release documents pertaining to classified military operations before the outbreak of war. These proved, in a huge shock to the public, that the government of Coruscant had been in a blatantly imperialistic fashion and had been on the cutting edge of influencing public opinion towards war. This would not in any way entirely erase the standing hostility between the Alderaani and Coruscanti peoples (there is a reason this is called the First Contention, after all) but it would lead to at least sudden decrease of tensions. The people of Coruscant had avidly believed that they had been defending democracy from aristocratic colonialism. As it turned out, their own government had been involved in shady dealings, up to and including state-sponsored terrorism. (A long-term effect of these revelations would be that the Coruscanti became more distrusting of government for generations, and public opinion became more alert.)

On Alderaan, the political ramifications of the war were no less dramatic. After the failure of the King's grandiose campaign, the Organas had in fact taken the throne. They had done so in a palace coup, which they subsequently legitimized by assembling a Conclave of Nobility to formally remove King Darman -- in a manner as to preserve the familial lands of his House (and indeed even their ancestral claim to the throne, which they would later reclaim). Count Vidian -- now King Vidian -- had no interest in emulating the egalitarian traditions of Coruscant; he was merely interested in taking power from the Panteers. But a generation later, under the aegis of his daughter Queen Lana Organa, the rigid aristocratic hierarchy of Alderaan would be relaxed considerably. The Queen trusted the Jedi Order very much, and invited the Jedi to Alderaan, thus beginning the long-standing relationship that the Organa family would have with the Jedi. She began working with the Order to reform Alderaani society and commence healing the wounds that the previous generation's war had inflicted.

The thing that, more than any other, led to rapid reconciliation between the two warring sides, however, had nothing to do with their internal affairs. It was in fact a military concern, which neither side had expected: the violent and terrifying raids of both Xim the Despot and the Hutts. From beyond the colony region, the raiders would come and pillage many worlds, not just on the frontier but deep into the Core itself. They would carry off whatever wealth they could, and they enslaved innocent civilians by the hundreds of thousands. This, they did without any fear of repercussion -- because Alderaan and Coruscant had crippled each other, so there were no mighty fleets left to guard the frontiers. The visceral terror that this spread within the Core forced the formerly warring sides to band together at once. This was the final factor that led them to abandon all plans at future peace negotiations, and to instead engage in negotiations of another sort entirely.

Their fleets destroyed, both sides relied heavily on Corellian and Jedi goodwill to defend them from raiders. The Corellians and the Jedi obliged readily, and this gave them a position of immense power and prestige -- both politically and morally. This authority, this good standing, they used in an attempt to prevent future wars between the powers of the Core. At the invitation of the neutral Jedi Order, the governments of Corellia, Coruscant and Alderaan began to discuss a permanent union between them, so that they should never fight among themselves again. So began the process of creating the First Galactic Republic.

The Constitution of this new union would emerge from long and complex debates between statesmen. It was not an easy process. Indeed, the convention was almost abandoned several times as passions erupted over one hot issue to another. Yet in the end, a founding document was drawn up and ratified, setting in stone the Republic's dedication to liberty, its opposition to slavery, its respect for freedom of trade, freedom of religion, freedom of association and freedom of expression. The government itself was highly decentralized, allowing the individual systems to keep their own specific forms of government as long as they made concessions to democratic forces within. (This would be how the Commoners' Assembly was formed on Alderaan, for instance.)

All member systems committed themselves to contribute to the common defense. The Jedi Order was recognized as a neutral party in this Republic, availing itself to help foster good relations between all peoples, and to preserve the cultural knowledge of the Republic, and to train those who were suited to it in the ways of the Force.

The First Constitution was certainly no perfect document. It had flaws that seem obvious to us in hindsight. Statutes of Citizenship for various non-humans were left to local governments, which unfortunately often lead to discrimination and legalized segregation. Indeed one may argue that the highly decentralized nature of the First Republic (even in comparison to the Post-Ruusan Fourth Republic) allowed too many false democracies to enter, setting a dangerous precedent. Many of these problems would surface again and again throughout galactic history. Yet it must be recognized that at the time it was drafted, it was a hopeful and innovative -- even unprecedented -- testament to the idealism and the aspirations of the many peoples of the galaxy.

Now that we have looked at the essential formation of government in the Core Worlds, we would be remiss not to discuss the developments of the Outer Rim during this period. These, too, had consequences that affect us to this day. And indeed, while we have spoken of the Jedi Order and the role it took within the galaxy, we must also address the ancient Sith, and their initial takeover of Korriban…
 

Earl

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Alrighty, Heres my entire edition on the Core! It was really fun making this back in the day and continues to be fun rereading, what with all the golden age of Piracy and beggining of the Republic. I once again have to thank @Skallagrim for all of the editing which made this possible! Without him this project be dead on arrival
 
Chapter Six of the Holocronverse:The Hutts and the Outerrim

Earl

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The common historical view of the Outer Rim, which has been additionally enforced in recent times by the political depredations and propaganda of the Galactic Empire, contends that the Outer Rim as a region is simply a natural inferior to the Core. The underlying assumption is a deeply humanocentrist one: that the periphery is always held back by the lack of "Enlightened" high culture -- meaning human culture -- and by the fact that "savage" cultures -- meaning non-human cultures -- have long been dominant there. These persistent notions are as dangerous as they are false: they create a view of the galaxy in which there are natural "good" and natural "bad" species; those destined to lead civilizations, and those who can and should be dismissed and side-lined as mere barbarians. The crimes and injustices that can develop from such ideas barely need further enumeration!

As we move past the recent dark times, we Jedi must endeavor not to slip back into such assumptions. A thorough study of history demonstrates all too clearly that what was for so long the "conventional wisdom" was very far from wise. It is our duty to expose this historical view as false, and to correct it with true knowledge of the Outer Rim -- and the nuanced history which led to its current-day conditions. Once we understand the history, the issues and challenges of the present become easier to understand... and easier to deal with in a responsible manner.

When the Rakkatan Empire fell and galactic society was once more free to evolve in new directions, the Outer Rim lacked several distinct advantages that the Core enjoyed in abundance; advantages which would lead to the Core's dominant position in galactic history. Most distinct is the fact that, for reasons that remain unclear, the Outer Rim has a far lower proportion of truly habitable worlds than the more central regions of the galaxy. There is a great abundance of desert worlds and otherwise single-biome planets out on the Rim, and most of these biomes are uninviting to human and near-human species. The reason for this phenomenon has never been adequately explained. Although some have speculated that this is somehow a natural feature of the galaxy, others have suggested that the uneven distribution of inviting world has been somehow caused deliberately by some ancient power, usual pointers being the Rakkata.

Whatever the origins of the phenomenon may be, the unequally harsh environments of many Outer Rim worlds have traditionally been a severe inhibiting factor to development, as the population had to focus on ways to survive in harsh conditions -- and often compete for food and resources. This both kept many species that originated on Outer Rim worlds from developing interstellar travel on their own, and led to internecine conflict on the basis of ethnic tensions and harsh competition over scarce means. This can be seen in the history of Ryloth, for example. Furthermore, the relative lack of attractiveness to potential settlers considerably retarded any efforts to colonise the Outer Rim, which eventually solidified their peripheral status to the far more inter-connected inner regions of the galaxy.

Even to those Outer Rim civilizations that mastered space travel, the stellar geography of the region made contact and trade quite difficult, compared to the relative ease with which such things developed in the Core. There, settled worlds were quite close to one another, allowing for easier first contact and travel between them. In contrast, the planets of the Rim were more often separated by far greater distances: vast and sometimes literally insurmountable. Others found themselves confined to their own little pocket sectors, where interaction was only available between a small number of peoples and species. Separated by the dark voids of space as the peoples of the region were, they would learn that contact between worlds was delayed for much longer than in the Core. This made anything like the Core Renaissance impossible to be duplicated across the Rim, with only these pocket sectors like the Tion Cluster having anything close -- and even then, first contact was a hit or miss as always, with conflict often developing. The realities of distance even discouraged regular space travel itself. Why go into space when you cannot get anywhere?

Still, space faring civilizations did form in the Outer Rim regions -- and many of these thrived, building up their own rich, cultural traditions. It can be argued that under the conditions they encountered, only the most persistent, durasteel-willed peoples achieved success in their endeavors. From the clans of Ryloth who created great and prosperous cities in the cave systems of their planet to the Sullustans who managed to use the volcanism of their home world for both agrarian and industrial purposes, ultimately inventing durasteel -- the Outer Rim produced advanced and ambitious societies.

The vastness of space also led to the formation of nomadic space faring societies, well-accustomed to traveling the void. The captains of these cultures were in no way less intrepid than the pioneers of Corellia, and the distances they covered often far greater. They often provided the backbone of communication between isolated systems, and made first contact with those still isolated. Famous among these were the Miraluka, who had been enslaved by the Rakkata as navigators due to their inherent sight through the Force. Much as with the Jedi, this allowed them to sense obstacles out in space and steer safe courses. In their newfound freedom, they wandered as space travelers throughout the Rim, guided by the Force and their innate curiosity.

Generally speaking, the Outer Rim was far more diverse than the Core. While the Rakkata had transferred species around the Galaxy, they did not always entirely remove them from their original homeworlds. This led to the further and separate evolution of those 'left behind'. It also led to a far more diverse pool than the Core, where humans predominated. (While there were Humans out on the Rim as well, they were very much in the minority.) However, this process was interrupted by the ascendancy of one species. There are many comparisons to be made between the Hutts and the Rakkata. Both originated from hostile jungle environments, which caused them to develop specific characteristics. The Rakkata delved fully into the Dark Side, the Hutts developed a massive body of acids and fats to stave off any predators. It also led both to adopt a hard, 'law of the jungle' mentality. This, perhaps, is the root cause of their most evident shared trait: they were both the founders of sprawling slavocratic empires.

In the ancient days, the Hutts even attempted to pass themselves off as gods, before realizing that this campaign of deception was not catching on. It is perhaps fitting, and equally tragic, that the Hutts would be one of the first species to master the Hyperdrive. They were as ambitious as they were ruthless. There is also a interesting parallel with the Corellian unification. Very much like Corellia, the Nal Hutta system, was at an intersection of many worlds, allowing it to establish broad contact earlier. The Hutts were divided between petty kings and those merchant lords who had access this trade network and its wealth. It was in this case a Hutt King, Blurdugg the Magnificent, who engineered a peace between the factions of Hutt society. Much like like Tail Solo of Corellia, his proposal was based on a shared effort to gain greater wealth. Instead of fighting, why not go out into the rest of the galaxy and build their fortunes equally?

Not all agreed to this, but the lure of profit was enough to build a coalition. With the united power of several clans behind him, Blurrdugg crushed his foes and codified make a set of laws, known as Blurrdugg’s Code, which would last until this very day. The Code included crucial rules that came to define Hutt society, such as that a Hutt must always show strength in front of another species. Division would be death. Indeed, this has helped keep the Hutts in power, all uniting whenever a rebellion arises or a new enemy comes in at the horizons.

Unlike the example of Corellia, there was never any goal of meaningful peace or free trade involved in Blurdugg’s plans -- only exploitation. First setting on the people of Evocor, the Hutts conquered the Evoci wholesale and brought them to Nal Hutta to slave away for their new masters; most famously building up the city-moon of Narr Shadda, which the Hutts would use as their great transfer hub of trade and slavery. During this project, so many Evoci were worked to death that the species would remain in perpetual endangered status. This would set the statute for further contact. Using the hyperspace routes they could map out, the Hutts conquered a large part of the space around their home sector, pouring even more profit into their own worlds. A martial species, the Hutts used their massive weight to crush their foes in battle. Although the cultural image of the corpulent and decadent Hutt crime lord now predominates, it must be stressed that a fully grown Hutt at the peak of physical health moving towards you at its top speed is a terrifying sight to say the least...

It is in the time of their early conquests that the Hutts developed their tendency towards racial enslavement -- a system which continues to this day. Often when they conquered a system, they assessed the species on the ground, searching for advantage and strengths. They would then assign a station to these species based on what they viewed as that species' natural inclination. Thus, they would fit all the races they conquered into a hierarchy of caste and designation. From this, new divisions rapidly strung forth, pitting soldier species like the Weequay against Twi'leks and the like. Much like the Rakkata, the Hutts did what they could to aim the animosity of their subject races against one another, keeping them divided and thus hopelessly ensnared in their servitude. (And sadly, some of the racial rivalries that the Hutts deliberately fostered in this manner persist even now.)

More and more, the Hutts would begin to rely on their slaves and the wealth they produced. They actively began delegating the key tasks of empire; encouraging subject species to prove themselves 'useful' in this regard, and subsequently granting special privileges to species who served well and without complaint. Conversely, those who were rebellious were viciously kept down with frequent punishments, including the razing of entire worlds, such as Varl. Often, the 'favoured slaves' were made complicit in these atrocities, thus forever binding them to their Hutt masters. If the system would ever be overthrown, these hated collaborators would be hunted down, so they had an interest in maintaining the system even if that system kept them enslaved, too. The Hutt Empire was a well-oiled, finely-tuned engine of oppression and exploitation.

However, it was still not enough. To maintain their rising levels of decadence and conquest, the Hutts would always need more and more resources, more and more slaves. Here is where the feared Hutt slave raids would be born. It took a long time to map out the hyperspace routes of the Rim, but once they were, a scourge was unleashed on many an unexpecting world. The Hutts would raid and take whatever they pleased. Beyond classical empire-building, they geared entire fleets to strike far beyond their own domains, purely to bring back slaves and other loot. Trillions, throughout the centuries, were thus ripped from their home and transported away to be slaves of the Hutts. The riches of countless planets would be stripped away by locust-like raider fleets, carried off to feed the excesses of Hutt decadence.

To keep this system going, the Hutts often sought out existing tensions in the local population, and conspired with greedy individuals; men who did not give a care for their fellows and only desired power. And these weak links, the Hutts ruthlessly exploited, fueling a system of conflicts which set the Rim back by even more. It grew to the point that the warlords would often trade slaves for even more from the Hutts, creating a perverse incentive for more war and destruction which warped the lives of billions. While the methods would change over the centuries, the Hutts would continue this system of pillage and rape across the galaxy, spreading to all parts of the Outer Rim and extending well into the Mid Rim and even the Colony Regions. (The threat of Hutt slaving played a crucial factor in the formation of both the First and the Second Republic.) To this day, through various criminal enterprises all equally blatant, this perverse system still continues. It is an issue which the New Republic is still struggling to properly address, and which must be resolved if the Outer Rim is to rise above the shadows of the violent past.

The turbulent past, however, has more players than the Hutts alone. Although the Hutts violated countless systems, there were those who successfully resisted their attempts. The Mon Cala famously turned the fleet of Pizza the Hutt to burning wreckage, in just one instance. Yet not all those who struggle with monsters are uniformly virtuous themselves. None would contest the supremacy of the Hutts more successfully than Xim the Despot and his Tionese Protectorate...
 
Chapter sevenof the Holocronverse: The Tionese Cluster and Xim the Despot

Earl

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Every region has its conquerors and kings, and the Tion Cluster produced many of them throughout its history. One of a few busy shipping sectors on the Outer Rim, the Tion Cluster had the advantage of slightly more Rakatan technology of use than most regions were left with -- most pointedly several starships and access to stardrives earlier than most others. Indeed, historians have pointed out several interesting similarities to Corellians in Tionese society, focusing much of their society on trade and competition with each other and exploring the deeps of space. It must be noted, though, that due to the difficulties of long-range exploration out on the Rim, the Tionese did not have as much success in this endeavor s the Corellians did; at least not until much later.

Like sentient beings everywhere, the Tionese used their trade derived wealth to build great cities across their planets. They used the rick reserves of marble to build elegant column-lined promenades, where the wealthy elite sponsored famous schools of philosophy. In this, we may say, they were somewhat more like the Alderaani. But they were, unlike either the Corellian or Alderaanian people, deeply fractured. There was neither a Tail Solo nor a Delant Panteer to unite the factions, or to turn their attentions to some more focused and peaceful endeavor into the future. The Tionese took to warring with each other over commercial rivalries and the desire to increase the power for their own local systems. These regional wars also allowed for the emergence of a despot class of military strongmen and royal families, as it elevated their importance as defenders and conquerors for their people and planet. Furthermore, these wars led to the development of slavery as a result of conquest and the like.

The two most prominent among these warring states were the planets of Desevro and Cron. Desevro was a highly militarized slavocracy with a citizen class completely and totally devoted to martial readiness and training, ready to suppress the much larger slave caste conquered from the planet of Elos. This slave caste, known as the Elots, would produce all the necessary facilities of life and infrastructure, being terrorized into submission by the Desevrans -- who would often cull them and use their military might to crush any uprising. Cron, meanwhile was a more traditional merchant kingdom with rival houses of trader-princes running the government, and with a complicated feudal hierarchy between the houses and their respective vassals and servant cohorts. They also kept slaves, like the Desevrans, but not to anything like the same extent.

In this early period of Tionese history, its explorers first encountered the Hutts. And as has often been the case when people encountered the Hutts, this development was distinctly marked by its negative and unpleasant character. The Hutts immediately sought to expand their own influence into the regional slave trade, by siding with the Military State of Desevro in their war against the Kingdom of Cron. However, it soon became clear that the Hutts desired to make both sides their vassals in the end. When the Desevrans refused to pay tribute, the Hutts sent their diplomatic envoys to bluster, threaten and insult the Desevrans in equal measure. The Hutt in charge of the diplomatic mission greatly insulted the Desevran rulers, suggesting they could be treasured vassals to the Hutts, which would be a much more elevated position than "the independence you now enjoy as base barbarians."

The reply of the Desevran General Leontisk has since become famous: "Engorged mud-swine! You think to treat us in the manner of your docile house slaves? You think this a province already conquered? This is no region where you have any authority! This is Desevro!" And having said this, he is said to have lopped off the Hutt's head in a single stroke. Whether this is true or not, it has been well-attested that the Desevrans confiscated the Hutts' diplomatic vessels, killed all their slave retainers, piled the corpses into the cheapest ship they could find, threw in the ambassador's severed head for good measure, and sent the thing off to Hutt space. The greatest insult, however, was that they didn't send back the other Hutts who were part of the mission. No. They enslaved those, and worked them to death in the mines. The lowest, most insulting treatment conceivable.

This predictably outraged the Hutt lord Arius, who sent a massive fleet into the Tion Cluster in order to enforce the hegemony of his species. Learning of this new threat posed by the Hutts, the Cronese halted their offensives against Desevro. After careful deliberation, they actively sided with their former enemy, knowing that only a united front could defeat the invaders. Together, the forces of Cron and Desevro pushed back the Hutt fleet at the battle of Liros (a moon of Desevro, which indicated how deeply the enemy had penetrated into the Tion Cluster). This would not be the end, however. Lerxes, son of Arius, greatly desired revenge for the humiliation his father had suffered. Before long, he and came back to face the Tionese again, with a much larger fleet. This time, the Hutts would have more success, smashing their way through the Cluster's gates and looting many worlds.

The Hutt fleet was unstoppable, and even a combined fleet of the Tionese wouldn't stand a chance. Which made the decision of their commanders to split up their fleets all the more surprising. The Hutts took this to mean that Cron and Desevro had once more fallen into their old enmity, and could now be destroyed individually... and at leasure. Arius split his own fleet in two, sending one contingent after the Cronese, and the other after the Desevrans. what followed were two of the most devastating defeats in Hutt history.

Leontisk, once more acclaimed Polemarch -- or highest general -- by the Desevrans, was by now an old man. He knew that what was to come would be his last battle. He resolved to make it a good one. Informing his Cronese allies (who in his youth had been his bitter foes) of his intentions, he lured the Hutts towards the binary stars of Zestothyrae. Like any experienced Tionese space commander, he was well aware of the powerful gravitational disturbances that made navigation between the twin stars nearly impossible. Knowing this, he set his course. The Hutts, unaware of what awaited there, and believing that they had him on the run, followed eagerly. They sound found themselves unable to escape, trapped in the destructive gravitational pull that threatened to rend their ships apart. Had they ended up in this position by chance, they would probably have been able to navigate their way out within a matter of hours. Many have done so, although it takes a skilled captain to pull it off. But Leontisk did not give them any time to attempt it.

Before the battle, he had sent away as many ships as he could, carrying as many men as possible. The remaining ships were still a sizable fleet, of three hundred vessels. They were manned by skeleton crews; mostly the old Polemarch's fellow aged veterans of previous wars. They used their fleet, and the gravity of the stars, to cram the Hutt fleet into a kill zone. In general space combat, certain weapons are impractical for ship-to-ship deployment, since they can be easily dodged under most circumstances. This is why ships mostly rely on turbolasers, rather than heavy ordinance missiles. Caught and unable to escape, the Hutts would not be in a position to dodge anything. The Desevrans, in a performance not been seen before or since, unloaded a barrage of thermonuclear warheads.

Naturally, they were also caught between the two stars, and battling the Hutts cost them the time they would certainly have needed to manage an escape of their own. They were also still outnumbered roughly ten to one. But the use of atomics rendered all these points moot. All ships were destroyed, Hutt and Desevran alike, and the latter had sold their lives at a very steep price indeed. The attempted invasion of Desevro was brought to a halt, and the Hutt forces were cut in half. Meanwhile, the remaining Desevran ships raced through hyperspace, to meet up with the Cronese fleet.

The Cronese, not to be outdone, had carefully lured the Hutt fleet pursuing them towards the Cychreus asteroid field, where they proceeded to evade the larger Hutt ships, which could not safely enter the field. The Hutts mocked this, calling the Cronese cowards, and proclaiming they could simply outlast them. The Cronese would run out of reserves before long, and would either have to surrender, or they would die in their asteroid field. This would have been true, but the Cronese knew what the Hutts did not: that the Desevran relief fleet was well on its way. This fleet exited hyperspace closely behind the Hutt ships, who had not expected to be attacked from that direction. At that very moment, the Cronese ships -- having carefully awaited this moment -- burst out of the asteroid field and likewise began to lay into the Hutts. It was a hard fought battle, but at the end of the day, the Hutts had to sound the retreat. The dual defeat at Zestothyrae and Cychreus humiliated the Hutts enormously, and led them to conclude that attempts to overpower the Tionese would be too much effort.

With this, the Hutt threat was dealt with, and although the Hutts still coveted the riches of the Tion Cluster, the Cronese and the Desevrans could afford to consider the threat vanquished at least for the time being. This would have been an opportunity to usher in a new age for the Tionese nations, but instead, the Cronese and the Desevrans soon fell back onto old habits. A new generation, having fought in the recent wars, was eager for further victory. As soon as these younger officers gained positions of power, conflict was once again inevitable. The Tionese peoples fought their most brutal wars for supremacy yet, the so called Sector Wars.

All manner of warfare was unleashed upon the population, devastating entire worlds. A new ruthlessness had become the norm. Having fought an existential war against the Hutts, the new elites believed themselves invincible, and showed an aggressive attitude not seen previously in the internecine wars of the Cluster. Plague soon spread across the war-torn worlds, killing yet more than the battles. The pulling away of ships from patrolling duties also led to the emergence of pirates and their ilk in unprecedented numbers. Pirate chieftains managed to establish major holdings, outside effective state control. Eventually, after a long siege, the Desevrans won the conflict, and declared themselves lords and hegemons over defeated Cron. This triumph would be fleeting, however, as their overstretched fleet was soon called home to deal with internal rebellion.

In this environment, Xim was born. The bastard son of a pirate king who had emerged in the aftermath of the Sector Wars, Xim was confined between four other -- legitimate -- sons, all vying for power in their father's massive fleet. With the retreat of Desevran forces, pirate kings of this sort had a free hand in running large swathes of Cronese space. Misfortunate enough to have been born with a severe bone disease and a speech impediment, Xim was neglected by his father and siblings. His deformities, his stuttering lisp and his status as a mere bastard all marked him as a lesser son. It was expected that he would resign himself to the background as his brothers competed to fill their father's shoes one day. Xim was dismissed as the weakling of the family; a creature born of "lesser blood", when his father had impregnated some nameless concubine.

The way he was neglected, dismissed, and -- on unfortunate days -- cruelly tormented did not incline him to be a weakling. It kindled a fire in him. A burning desire to overcome his impediments and leaver his mark on history. His first advantage was his sharp mind. Whereas his brothers, and in fairness his father as well, were little more than thugs, Xim spent his lonely days in the library. With a keen eye, he saw the opportunities that the chaotic state of the Tionese region presented to those who looked beyond the obvious. He knew that if he did the right things, took the right steps, he could be more than just some pirate. Studying technological advancements in biochemistry and droid technology, Xim gathered several engineers and -- using a supply of aurodium dragnars he stole from his father's treasury -- began the construction of a droid army. He based this force of mechanical soldiers on his own, innovative design.

It would take time to construct his army, especially since he had to work in secret, but as his family members squabbled over the spoils of his father's fleet, he managed to managed to carry out an attack that left all his brothers dead. The means by which he achieved this are contested. Some say he personally carried out the attack, wearing a mechanical suit of battle armor, of the sort for which he would later become famous. Others believe it was nothing so dramatic, and that he just filled the room with poison gas. Whatever his method was, it must have been impressive. Sufficiently so, at least, to gain the loyalty of the entire fleet. The fact that he unveiled his first battle droids to the fleet commanders may have played a role. These veterans must surely have grasped the uses of such advanced killing machines.

With the fleet at his command, and his droid army now constructed, Xim launched the first war in a bloody reign, aimed at reuniting the Tion Cluster -- and under his rule. Any opposition was swept aside with indiscriminate orbital bombardment and wave after wave of relentless droid forces. In ground combat, Xim made a name for himself by usually leading his forces in his mecha battle suit. His fearless attitude ensured that even his enemies respected him, and there was nothing that Xim so strongly desired as respect. The battle suit also ensured that this became the image of him in the eyes of the public: a metal-clad titan, conquering wherever he went. His physical deformities became a mere afterthought, of which few made any mention. Exactly as he had hoped. Xim made himself the ruler of all Tion, and he intended to write the history of his reign in a way that ensured that his legend would live on forever.

However, he still had larger schemes in mind than those involving just this one region. He wanted to conquer the Rim in its entirety, founding an empire of epic stature, thus securing his place in history and myth... forever. His name written among the stars themselves. Xim: the vanquisher of the hated Hutts and their alien slave armies. Xim: conqueror and liberator. Xim: the greatest name in all recorded history. Such were his true ambitions.

For a decade, he built up his forces and droid armies, while securing his rule at home. He achieved domestic stability both by playing to the masses with promises of new glory and riches and by building up the Genoharradan, a secret force of masked assassins who would strike out against any dissenter. (This elite secret police force would, in the end, outlast Xim by millennia.) He also planned magnificently, down to the very last detail, his conquests. He ordered wide spread scouting missions to be carried out, and had the stellar geography of vast regions mapped out in detail. New routes were found, including even routes to the Core Worlds. Xim's navy was calibrated along pirate lines: designed to strike with speed and fury before the enemy could respond, but still with enough fire power to level entire worlds if need be. Xim consistently sacrificed defensive abilities for offensive potential.

Finally, the time came to strike. Xim deemed his forces ready, and in characteristically decisive manner, wasted not one more day. His fleets swarmed out, and across Hutt Space, planets burned. Xim's campaign was absolutely savage. He issued no declarations of war, and cited no caused for his acts of aggression. Killing billions in just the first month, as he destroyed the Hutt Fleet and any ground forces that stood in his way, Xim aimed to overwhelm. The Hutts, who had been in the midst of a internal power struggle, were completely unprepared for the sheer mobility of the enemy forces and the speed of their attacks -- not to mention Xim's highly detailed knowledge of their fleets. The conqueror's careful, meticulous preparations paid off. In the first year of the war, Xim managed to conquer a good third of Hutt Space, and still he kept going.

Overwhelming as Xim's military advance may have been, we can say -- with the benefit of hindsight -- that his relentlessly aggressive campaign ultimately worked against him. At the time of his invasion, the Hutt Empire had been in a fragile state. The great Hutt lord Kossak had died earlier in the year, and the clans had been teetering on the edge of a clash -- perhaps even civil war. Xim assumed that the death of Kossak left a power vacuum that he could and should exploit. He didn't want to risk the ascent of a new supreme overlord of the Hutts. He wished to strike while there was still uncertainty about the future. In his haste, he misread the signs of the time. He underestimated the potential for civil war. Had he delayed, he might yet have been in a position to exploit a civil war within the Hutt Empire. As it was, in his eagerness, he squandered that chance.

Not only that, even. Unrest had also been stirring among the slave species at their tyrannical Hutt masters. Unrest that could have been turned into a revolt and unraveled the entire Hutt Empire. Again, Xim's ambition worked against him. His vision of a lightning-quick war left no room for any subtlety. Hutt worlds were bombed, burned and pillaged with no discretion or mercy. No distinction was made between slave and slave-master. All were butchered alike. This unmatched brutality only served to make the slaves reconsider their notions of revolt: better the master's whip than the invader's sword! Thus, the Hutt Empire rallied. Its internal weaknesses were quickly pushed to the background, and the imminent threat forced a newfound unity to arise. The existential threat that Xim posed even led to the very thing he had wanted to head off: the ascension of a new overlord. A daring Hutt warlord by the name of Boonta improvised a delaying strategy that allowed him to mobilize significant resources while Xim's forces were stuck besieging a number of highly fortified worlds.

It was a ruthless strategy; as ruthless as that of Xim himself. The besieged worlds were doomed from the start. Boonta promised them he would come to lift the siege, but he never planned to do any such thing. Instead, he sacrificed those planets to buy himself time. Admittedly, he used that time as well as he could: assembling an army that could match Xim's fleet in a direct confrontation. Time upon time, the two fleets clashed, wearing each other down. But Boonta had an advantage: Xim's strategy had relied on the doctrine of the rapid advance. Now that he was forced to a grinding pace, he had lost his forward momentum. And he was fighting far from home, with long supply lines behind him. Boonta was fighting within his own territory, and could rapidly mobilize raiding forces. Not to attack Xim's armies, but specifically to target those precious supply convoys upon which his armies relied.

Boonta even began to order raids into Tionese space, which humiliated Xim in front of his own people. The Hutts couldn't threaten the Tion Cluster seriously, but they could land enough blows to make Xim look bad. This forced Xim to divide his forces, allocating more and more ships to the duty of guarding his home territory and his supply lines. This of course reduced Xim's invasion forces significantly. To make up for that, Xim began to launch raids of his own, along several hyperlanes. His raids reached the outskirts of the Core, providing an... unpleasant... first contact between the Core Worlds and one of the most prominent Rim-based powers. (This would be remembered, in later days.) The overall effect was to turn most near-by minor powers, previously neutral, fully against Xim. They soon agreed on a common policy of embargo against him, which economically hurt the Tion Cluster. Xim's ravenous ways had made him enemies by the dozens. Now he was at a disadvantage.

It has been said, pithily, that Xim lost the war the day he invaded, because his chosen strategy doomed his plans. Others claim that his generals suggested that he offer peace terms to the Hutts -- one third of their Empire in return for a treaty of friendship -- a while before Boonta rose to power, and that if he had done it, the still-terrified Hutts would have agreed in a heartbeat. But he didn't do it, and when Boonta gained supreme command over the Hutt forces, the opportunity was lost. Both these arguments have merit. It is safe to say that Xim lost the war a good while before the dramatic confrontation that sealed his fate. But sealed it was, and it happened at Vontor.

Even on the very eve of the battle, Xim could have chosen to retreat, plundering Hutt worlds all the way back to his own borders. But his pride would not allow it. His skills were tremendous, but they were eclipsed by the still greater shadow of his ego. Boonta knew this well, being a great and prideful lord of the Hutts -- and himself no stranger to the realities of having a huge ego. Thus, he laid a clever trap. Taunting Xim with various insults, knowing of the notorious ego of the despot, he challenged him to ritual combat above the world of Vontor. Xim, by now desperate to somehow drag a triumph out of his collapsing campaign, saw an opportunity to achieve a victory after all. Here, he believed, he could end the war in one fell swoop. He donned his armor and led his droid forces to the surface, while his fleet engaged the Hutt ships in orbit.

Boonta had not chosen little-known Vontor without reason. Xim was not the only warlord to do extensive research on his enemies. Once on Vontor, Xim's war droids started sparking out in a combustion, the materials the droids were made of reacting violently with the planet's unusual atmospheric composition. Boonta had planned for that. Now, Xim was trapped on the ground -- without his elite units, and surrounded by the best of the Hutt army. In space, his navy was trapped by the Hutt war fleet. While that fight was more equal, Boonta's goal wasn't to win the space battle. Only to prevent Xim's fleet from saving their master. The Hutt warlord banked on the assumption that if he could defeat Xim himself, his fleet's morale would collapse.

Xim's last stand is reported -- albeit by Hutt histories -- to have been quite pathetic. His mechanical armor malfunctioning, he could barely put up a fight. There are stories that slave-soldiers from the Core turned on him, incentivized by Hutt promises of clemency and a return home. If that account is accurate, Boonta's promises were lies: Xim's ground forces were ritually slaughtered to the last man -- their corpses impaled on Vontor's surface as a grim testament to Hutt cruelty. Whatever the precise sequence of events may have been, xim was captured alive, pulled out of his armor, and humiliatingly paraded around by the Hutt forces. Boonta then gouged out his eyes, and made the once-mighty Xim crawl around in the dirt. As predicted, Xim's fleet lost all hope at this point, and fled in considerable disarray. Xim was not killed, but -- blinded and helpless -- locked in a cage for the rest of his days, like an animal for the Hutt elite to taunt. His physical deformities were cruelly mocked, and he spent the remainder of his life in utter misery.

The Tion Cluster soon broke apart into a dozen squabbling warlord states again. The Hutts, by now, were out for blood. The Tion Cluster was invaded in a punitive campaign. worlds were razed in revenge for Xim's own atrocities, and countless people were enslaved. From the world of Lorrd, the Hutts would establish an outpost to keep the Tionese people divided and helpless before them, to make sure something like Xim's invasion could never be repeated. Tionese power was broken, and would never again reach the heights it had briefly enjoyed under Xim's aegis. The very man who brought them to their zenith also caused their most sorrowful decline. Xim's legacy has been mixed and debated ever since. Not to the Hutts, though. To them, he will forever be the most hated and despised of all foreign enemies. Despite this, the campaign he waged against them was the factor that ensured their Empire's unity upon Kossak's death. And with their rule forged to steely consistency in the fires of war, the Hutts would now embark upon the golden age of their imperial phase. It would last for a thousand years...
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Chapter Eight of the Holocronverse: The Cradle of Darkness

Earl

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Korriban. To those with a decent knowledge of galactic history, the name alone carries the connotation of death and destruction; pain and hate. It is the tomb-world the Sith, a planet steeped in the Dark Side, where these practitioners of evil made their home. Korriban seems to have been caught in a tangle of darkness from its very creation; a ferocious evil haunts its very atmosphere, turning the planet's natural environment into a barren desert dominated by jagged rocks as far as the eye can see. Some may think it surprising that any native life ever arose there in the first place, but the Force—for purposes both Light and Dark—can grant great resilience to tenacious life-forms. To that category, the Sith species most assuredly belongs.

Clinging closely to dark and twisting river gorges and small desert oases whose locations they mapped carefully and guarded fiercely, the ancient Sith species managed to arise and form the beginnings of a society. In primitive tribes, spread out across the hostile surface, they carved out an existence for themselves. Many of them were naturally strong in the Force, and the Dark Nexus which inhabited the planet certainly gave advantage to the Dark Side. Unlike the Rakkata however, the Sith species as a whole did not completely lose themselves completely to Dark Side madness. Indeed, there is good reason to believe that there were erly societies around the oases that relied on powerful users of the Light to ward off the Dark powers that haunted the planet. Unfortunately, it does not seem they were powerful enough to face the greatly advantaged Dark Siders who arose to challenge them.

These Dark siders centered themselves in the planet's dark energies and began perfecting the uses of this evil power, particularly to the end of gaining dominance over others. They emerged over their fellows at the time, and with the Dark Side as their weapon, ruled through fear and oppression. They forced great changes in their society, building massive cities to both glorify themselves and centralize their authority. People, they knew very well, are a lot easier to control if they're all in one place. In their cities, they also constructed a complex caste system. Of course the Tave Ari, or Lords, and their Massassi warriors were on top of the ruling pyramid (quite literally, as many ancient Sith rulers built Pyramid-like palaces for their courts). Just below them were the Kissi, priests and scribes; one tier below them the Zuguruk, artisans and machinists; and one tier further down the Lentiki, "those who bow", all commoners with only base line Force sensitivity. At the very bottom rung were the untouchable Gotthu, slaves who were the lowliest of the low.

Tave Ari (translating to "the Strong who Rule" in Ancient Sith) were the lords of the more brute force aspects of the Dark Side, reaching their full potential through performance in battle and the ability to defeat any rivals who challenged them. This turned their focus to a powerful development of Dark Side abilities related to conquest and strength. The Massassi were warriors just below their lords, who would follow them into battle and carry out their commands. Their battle skills with the Force were not quite as finely honed as those of their lords, yet they were powerful enough to do battle with many a foe -- and particularly when they were massed in battle hardened formations, united in grim purpose. The cohorts of warriors often carved a bloody path through the throngs of their foes.

Kissi were Masters in the more arcane aspects of the Dark Side, and learned scholars. They would enforce the bureaucratic aspect of any city and perform any necessary sacrifices to the Darkness. (It is unclear specifically if the ancient Sith worshipped the Dark Side itself or had gods; possibly, it varied by city.) Cultivating more power as sorcerers, they also commanded the fear and attention of the people with their grandiose displays of Dark Side power and sacrifices. This attention often put them into direct and vicious competition with the Tave Ari and their Massasi (a group the Kissi particularly despised as being weaker in the Force than they were, and thus below them in worthiness). The castes thus vied for power and control of the people, and at times fought theological battles (which to the Sith meant actual massacre, rather than debate).

The Zuguruk were the ones who built the Sith cities and technology. Using their talents in Force-building (a technique which would allow a user to build a structure in his mind to near exactitude) and telekinesis, they could begin the foundations of a city and command its construction in a highly exact and efficient manner. Naturally, in doing this work for their Lords, they relied on great numbers of Lentiki and (especially) expendable slave labor to do the actual work -- and to do the dying, more often than not, for the work was dangerous and ravaging. The Zuguruk, meanwhile, also made great strides in the enchantment of objects within the Force, to make them more effective.

The Lentiki, the great masses of the Sith whose baseline Force sensitivity was below the other castes, populated the cities and countryside, and lived always at the mercy of their Dark Side rulers. Their main role in life was to provide for the city states' food supply, making a difficult living out of the harsh deserts of Korriban and forcing plant life to grow and graze various herd animals, or work in the factories. Below all the other castes, elevated only over the slaves, they were treated with contempt and seen as only fit to be ruled over.

Below everyone else, the Gotthu toiled and suffered. Whether they were slaves captured in war or those born completely blind to the Force, they were the "unworthy vermin" -- to the Sith, less than draft animals. These were the untouchables, the ones who were sacrificed to the Dark Side by the Temple's clergy, the ones who did all the most dangerous and grueling jobs. In great numbers, they were worked to death, building vast ziggurats. They constructed the tombs of the Lords, and when a mighty Sith was interred, the slaves who had built his mausoleum were ritually slaughtered or even locked in there, still alive, to await starvation.

Organised into these rigid castes, and over time growing well accustomed to ruthless attitudes, the city states of the ancient Sith would wage war on each other in a constant struggle over the scant patches of arable land. The dark rulers of each city furthermore each desired absolute domination over their world, and indeed always sought to capture more slaves for the further development of their monumental buildings and the like. As such, their constant warring was a fact of life, which would devastate whole regions and which few (if any) managed to escape.

Perhaps the ancient Sith might in time have been able to grow beyond their savage ways. After all, a period of extreme warfare and tyranny is not uncommon in the history of developing civilizations. Indeed, the now peaceful Mirialans had a similar era, wherein their society was governed by the Dark Princes, before adopting their peaceful religion and consequently reorganizing their whole society. A similar story played out on Kiffu. Unfortunately, that was not to be for the Sith. For this accursed land of conflict, Korriban, is where the Dark Acolytes of Rajivari landed, and placed their mark on destiny forever…

Ajunta Pall and the rest of the Dark Acolytes arrived at Korriban one standard week after the death of Rajivari (or rather, the full transfer of his essence into the holocron). Rulership of the Acolytes was... unstable, in this time of transition. As the Dark Acolytes landed after their long journey through the void, Pall -- having claimed the title of Herald -- knew that knowledge would be power. Making landfall in an area reasonably close to several city states, Pall began to gather information through secret scouting expeditions and abductions. He grew to learn a great deal of the Sith and their society through these prisoners, who he personally interrogated -- using his own brutal methods. From his extensive torturing of the captives, Pall learned that the Sith, while primitive, were full of potential in the Force. He came to grasp that their society was thoroughly steeped in the Dark Side. This held great promise to him. However, he also knew that it made them dangerous.

Nor were they the only danger with which he had to contend. Once more, he had to face the jockeying of other prominent Acolytes, such as Soruz Syn and Karness Muur. All jealously desired to usurp his position. If he failed to firmly impress his own domination once and for all, upon both the Acolytes and the native Sith, he would not remain in power for long. He realized that he needed to make his mark for all to see, and quickly. Otherwise the entire expedition could be lost either to infighting or the Sith themselves. To solve this complicated issue, Ajunta Pall consulted with Rajivari in his holocron, and shared all he knew of the Sith with him. Together, they concocted a plan. Carefully weighing their options, they identified from among the nearby cities the one with the contentious lord they could find, which still had enough power to be a challenge and set an example of their own superior strength when they conquered it.

Rallying the Acolytes against this chosen enemy, Pall led them in an immense display of force. The non Force sensitive auxiliary forces of the Dark Acolytes with their Slug throwers and grenades did battle with the massed Massasi warriors, while the Acolytes themselves threw down the gauntlet of conquest, destroying the Lord of the city and all who resisted with their blazing red sabers. The news of these aliens and their high levels of power soon reached the other city states, and accomplished the impossible: to face the threat, the Sith states forged together in a coalition of the strongest Lords and their armies, ready to do battle. Yet the impossible had been precisely what Ajunta Pall had hoped for. Just as the Sith armies were about to march out, the Dark Acolytes would make a surprising move -- they offered a peace conference.

Suspicious, but interested to hear what the newcomers would say, the Sith Kings agreed to come and talk. Of course, to back them up, they brought a massive entourage of their most skilled soldiers and advisors... which included the leaders of the priestly class. This was exactly what Pall had wanted. From his careful study of the enemy, he had gleaned much about their societal hierarchy. About the envy that the priests harbored towards their overlords. Even as Pall delivered pro forma words of absolute superiority and put demands of surrender to the Sith, his best agents sought out key figures of the priestly caste. They emphasized similarities in belief between them and the Sith, pointing a common conviction that the abilities of the mind trumped the blunt aspects of the Force. They promised tantalizing powers, and seats of authority in the new hierarchy that the Dark Acolytes planned to found. All they would have to do is betray the Kings who they already despised.

Pall had selected the recipients of this offer carefully: those of great ambition and ruthlessness. Those who had felt most aggrieved by the Lords. The offer was eagerly accepted. In their long reign, the Lords of the ancient Sith had grown complacent upon their kingly throne. Since betrayal was always extensively and cruelly punished, it had become very rare. But now, those who might think to commit treason could count on foreign support. The Sith Kings had never imagined that the newcomers would be so daring as to base their strategy on this from the very start. Yet that is precisely what Ajunta Pall had done. And on the return journey to his city state, the most feared leader of the Sith forces, the famed King Adass, was killed in his sleep by his very own chief priest.

This was only one such assassination, for there were many, and those were altogether but the first step in a concerted plan of attack. From the night, phantoms of the Dark Side were projected by the priests to confound the warriors. Twisted and evil experiments, creatures without name, burned through the skies and reigned death below. The arcane magics of the priests, upon which the warrior caste had long looked down in disdain, now proved more terrifying than any had imagined. Had they been alone in their betrayal, the priest would have been slaughtered. Even in a joined, well-timed attack, they could not hope to outfight the bulk of the warrior caste. Yet they were not alone. From the mountain passes, the Acolytes came down upon the Sith encampments. Strike teams, well-prepared, one commanded by Pall personally and the others by his new Shadow Hands, struck the already beleaguered camps of the Sith Kings. By this time, most of the Sith leadership had already been assassinated.

Between the surprising betrayal and the superior fire power of the Acolytes, it became a massacre of the first order. By the end, there were only the Acolytes and their priestly allies left alive -- all others having been killed or having fled. There was one undisputed leader of the Dark Acolytes now, Ajunta Pall. This victory ended all dispute, and he claimed the mantle of Dark Lord without delay. but he did more than that. Whereas Rajivari had proposed using the ambitious priests and then betraying them, Pall had other ideas. Rajivari, in typically ruthless fashion, had urged him to discard the priests. To simply kill the entire Sith species, subsequently claiming the planet's dark side energies entirely for their own. He had dismissed the priests' techniques and culture as backwards foolishness. Pall was not so quick to dismiss them at all. He had seen their power... and their potential.

Forcefully reminding Rajivari which one of them was alive to make these decisions, Pall not only followed on with his promises to the priests, but actively began an effort to integrate his men into the ranks of the Sith. He collaborated with the priests to biologically twist many of the lower-caste Sith through dark alchemy, making them more useful to his purposes. Instead of supplanting the Sith, the Dark Acolytes would rule over the Sith. By effectively merging themselves with the priestly caste, they formed a new elite. Each conquered city was soon administered by one of their own. Each such ruler soon styled himself, as Pall had done, "Dark Lord". More specifically: Dark Lord of the Sith. It would not be long before they took on the title 'Darth' to reflect their new position of power. Ajunta Pall established a council of these Dark Lords, each of whom were assigned their own special sphere of power, which fell within their responsibility. Indeed, he incorporated many rivals into this council, reasoning that it would be better to put their talents to use in a place where he could see them and put their plans in the open. Of course, Rajivari's holocron would act as mediator of all discussions -- and indeed fights for the succession after the position of Supreme Dark Lord was vacated.But for the time being, it would be Ajunta Pall who would effectively run the council without question.

The Sith species -- besides the priesthood -- greeted their new rulers with a range of emotions, mostly running from apprehension to rage. Some attempted to revolt. Yet even they could not imagine the atrocity that was to be visited upon them. In an act of revenge on the part of the priesthood, and as an experiment by the now very aged XoXaan and Karness Muur, any Massasi who did not submit to the new power structure were taken prisoner and with Sith Sorcery turned into mindless beasts capable of only attacking an enemy and obeying without question. This was only the beginning of the one of the most aggressive eugenics programs in history. The new overlords set out to purposely breed the Lentiki out of existence, and make sure that Force-sensitivity would be ubiquitous in the future. To accomplish this, a careful program of forced cross-breeding was set up. Over time, the hope was that those without the Force would die out.

The Dark Acolytes and the priesthood also used their combined sorcery to physically alter the Sith. The intent was to make the Sith capable of reproducing with the newcomers. Despite the fact that this procedure was extremely painful, many of the priests volunteered for it. Soon, a new, hybridized generation of Sith rulers would rule Korriban. Thousands of other Sith would not accept this procedure, though. These were executed. Many more were killed in its death throes. This was considered a part of the benefit: they "weak" were culled altogether. Only the strong survived.

The non Force sensitive auxiliaries of the Acolytes were granted a special status, as enforcers and military commanders, taking the place of the Massasi. In exchange for their loyal service they got rich lands and many slaves, not to mention a secure place in the nobility of the empire and a prime of takes on the next precedent the empire would build: conquest. Conflict would be the way of the Sith, and as such, there was only one way to continue the empire's existence. The conquest of new worlds and territories for slaves and more was to follow. It was inevitable. Thus, the Sith Empire arose, extending its power throughout the region. For the time being, isolated -- but building strength to strike out further afield...
 
Chapter Nine of the Holocronverse: The First Republic,its expansion and its problems.

Earl

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1.The Galactic Republic shall recognize the holdings of the imperial Hutt Dominion and her alliances as true legitimate expressions of the Rim forthwith.

2. The Hutt Dominion shall respect the territorial integrity of the Republic and her allied systems and shall cease all extraterritorial activity to enslave Republic or Republic ally citizens.

The Rendilli Concordat, establishing a lasting peace Between the Hutt Dominion and First Republic.


The Stock Exchange took another jump today at the announcement of the accession of Manann into the Senate and the opening of their Koloto Reserves for full investment from off-worlders. Already the Virtanen Guild has promised to develop new revolutionary treatments and drugs based on Manann's bountiful resources.

Cornet News Holo-feed, 25 years before the fall of the First Republic


Alderaan stands against this blatant attempt by the Senate to override local prerogatives and taxation measures for the sake of Corellian and Coruscanti profligacy.

Senator Galt Organa the Ninth in the outstanding session on Galactic Taxation


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In many ways, the establishment of the First Republic was perceived by the war-weary public as a welcome return to the era and sensibilities of the earlier Core Renaissance. Indeed, although formally united in a federalizing framework, the worlds of the galaxy's thriving Core went on much as they had in previous periods. The Republic's central authorities were relegated to a minor role. There was no interfering united government making galaxy-wide policy for each individual system. Economic regulation was kept to a minimum, save for ensuring free trade between systems and sporadically intervening in the cases of emergency.

The Senate's duties were similarly limited. It was, more than anything else, a diplomatic forum; a place of negotiation body between worlds, where grievances could be aired and ironed out, and where disputes on matters of affairs between planets ( particularly regarding minutiae of commerce and trade) could be peacefully resolved. The Senate's main power came from its legal power to call on the combined armies of the Republic’s member systems. This power was of course only meaningful in emergencies, and was not usually called upon at all. Less obviously meaningful, but ultimately more influential in the long term, was the Senate's prerogative to fund various organizations and legally invest them with certain public responsibilities. At first glance, this devolution of governmental tasks might seem a hallmark of the era's decentralist attitudes. We must not forget, however, that in earlier ages, no such authority had existed in the first place. That the Senate could invest Republic-encompassing power in bodies of its choosing was an unprecedented political evolution.

The most famous organization to be given chartered tasks and duties by the government was, inevitably, the Jedi Order. The Jedi were already firmly enmeshed in the affairs of many worlds; especially in regions where the Corellians had led the expansion efforts. With Senate funding, the public role of the Jedi Knights was made more generally recognized, further expanded, and more reliably supported. Navigators and negotiators already, now the Jedi were getting involved in the task of wielding new policing powers. The unique abilities of the Jedi made them ideally suited to be the core of a new, galaxy-spanning peacekeeper force. The Jedi were called upon to deal with particularly troublesome criminals, and were regularly commissioned as military commanders for united expeditions when the government needed a neutral commander for a multi-system task force.

These changes had been coming for a long time. It had never been unknown for the Jedi to help with the pursuit and apprehension of criminals. Nor had the Jedi ever shied away from humanitarian tasks, such as setting up farming infrastructure, as part of their goodwill missions. Naturally, this bled over into a certain degree of political involvement. So the steps for this new expanded role had often been laid on many worlds previously, but now this formalized relationship interlocked the Jedi into the galactic government, often with immense legal privileges. This relationship, which continued throughout the generations, was built on trust. The trust of the citizenry that we, the Jedi, had their best in intentions in mind. (It must be noted here that the erosion of the public trust is a sure sign of dark days to come, as the events of the last two decades prior to this recording clearly illustrate.)

The most important role of the newly-formed Republic in the development of the Core, and indeed other regions, was that it secured peace. No one would desire to fight each other for fear of retaliation from the rest of the Republic, whether through military force or economic sanction. This brought internal security and domestic tranquility. Externally speaking, the combined systems of the Republic formed a united front when facing the Hutts of the Rim systems. At the time of the First Republic's establishment, the Rim was still seen as an unexplored backwater region; dangerous and infested with pirates and raiders of all sorts. Wild tales, ranging from small misunderstandings to the fantastically wrong-headed, abounded throughout the Core regions. Yet one thing was known: the Hutts were very real, and no matter how decentralized the Republic was, it would be in the interest of all to maintain a common defense against such a threat.

Vigilance brought security, and security -- as always -- led to economic prosperity. Increasing wealth was the norm of this early period. With the Coruscanti and Alderaani putting their military clashes behind them, and the old grievances seeming to finally recede into the past, the recovery of the galaxy was deemed complete. The Republic ensured a free zone of trade without tariffs and other such interferences, and the economy correspondingly boomed without interruption. This prosperity was increased even more when the Republic began expanding into the Mid Rim, colonizing many a world and trading with newly contacted peoples. The cultural exchange of the Core Renaissance was revived and its tenets now solidified into the beginnings of a more or less united Core identity. For the first time, the intelligentsia of the Core Worlds began to speak of a "Galactic Civilization"... of which they deemed themselves the finest exponents, of course.

Despite its influence upon the lamentable doctrines of "Human High Culture" in latter ages, the notions of a galactic oikoumene, based on a mix of the values that we have already previously discussed, was essentially an idealistic belief. Unfortunately, it naturally engendered a dichotomy between the "civilized" and the "barbarian". Thus, a current of Core snobbery was present from the outset. This brought up quite a few problems when expansion into the Mid Rim. The explorers deemed themselves civilizing heroes, whereas those being on the receiving end generally saw their new overlords as arrogant colonists. (The more we study history, it seems, the more we can understand the causes of tensions and attitudes that persist into the present.)

The expansion of the Republic (in all its successive incarnations) could be laid at the feet of three factors: economic desire, opposition to foreign enemies (usually the Hutts), and a desire to spread certain civilizational ideals. This can be seen most clearly in the era of the First Republic and in the much later High Republic Period. We will naturally study the latter in more detail when we get to that, but at this stage, we will focus on the First Republic. Despite the criticisms, it must not be assumed that the Republic was at its heart a perfidious and exploitative imperialist power. There are revisionist schools, now arising in response to the Galactic Empire's recent glorification of colonialist attitudes, which claim that the Core was somehow always evil and despotic. This is a deeply unfair and biased position, and ignores the facts. The reality that there were wrongs does not mean that there were no rights. Most systems that joined the Republic did so eagerly and freely, because it offered them immense advantages. We can recognize this without failing to admit that there were injustices as well.

In the initial stages of the First Republic's period of expansion, the leaders in exploration were both the Jedi Order and the great trade corporations (or as they were at this time called, Guilds). The Jedi would act as missionaries of the Republic’s values and indeed services, helping negotiate peace, alleviating disasters and taking in Force sensitives for training. These Jedi missions would often set up permanent ourposts where the trained Force sensitives could continue to serve their people and provide a link back to the Core. This was particularly appreciated by worlds and species like the Ithorians and Mirialans, two groups that considered themselves deeply indebted to the Force. They welcomed contact with the Jedi and with the Republic.

At the same time, the great commerce guilds would bring the benefits of economic trade with the entire Republic, and would set themselves deeply within newly-contacted societies through their business ventures, setting up local contacts. They brought the guarantee of safe shipping across vast distances, all cargo ensured by the Guilds. This was unprecedented outside the Core, where at times as much as two-thirds of cargo was outright expected to be written off as losses to piracy. There can be no denying that contact with the Republic invariably preceded a huge economic boom. This does not mean there were no drawbacks. The merchant guilds were no humanitarian institutions, obviously, and were driven by profit alone. if they could get away with it, they would create a dependent relationship, ensuring that newly-contact worlds would end up beholden to the commercial hegemons for a long time. Indeed, the birth of Private Corporate Armies can be traced back to these times, instituted as a way to protect corporate interests -- and if necessary, act with various local associates to overthrow an uncooperative local government. We may conclude that a vast increase in wealth does not imply that this wealth was evenly distributed...

Many Core Worlders, enticed by the riches of the Mid Rim and tired by problems of overcrowding back home (a constant factor on worlds like Coruscant), would set out to furnish new homes for themselves on worlds outside the Core. This was often funded by the Guilds, since it ensured the viability of corporate settlements. Often, when these settlers encountered technologically less advanced peoples and they were in the majority, the colonists would slowly but steadily become the dominant population of the planet in question. Occasionally, this process would even be deliberate and outright oppressive, with the native population being subjugated and segregated into their own population hubs -- similar to the Corellian system with the Selonians, or the Coruscanti ghettos.

Seeing this treatment of other peoples at the hand of some Core Worlders definitely made many societies wary of joining the Republic. Did the benefits outweigh the potential risks? For many, the answer was yes, and for most of them, their choice ended up being a wise one. But it was not always a smooth process, and there was certainly no instant harmony between populations. Indeed, some in the Core were very anxious about letting in more and more non-human populations (or, as these groups tended to phrase it, "alien scum"). There was, for a time, a fear that such sentiments would become dominant, and that this would in turn mean that few worlds would wish to join the Republic in the future. All sane minds knew that this would mean the end of expansion and a decline into economic malaise. They despaired at a potential future in which the Republic became a xenophobic power, closing itself off from the wider galaxy. Yet this did not come to pass. No matter how things might have turned out, events forced the Republic’s hand.

There is some irony in the fact that the Hutts -- whose depraved empire might logically have been the prime argument in favor of the position that the Republic should stay far away from their regions of space -- instead became the factor that ensured the Republic would evolve into a true multi-species federation. As it happens, nothing unites people like a common enemy. And an enemy they were. The Hutts had long been a presence in the Mid Rim region, their slaving raids reaching far and wide. Outposts of their empire dotted the border to the Outer Rim. Likewise, their raids sometimes skirted the Core itself. To the Republic, the Hutts were the face of external evil. This idea certainly united the Core and the peoples of the Mid Rim, and when the threat of the Hutts expanded, it solidified their unision.

First, the campaigns of Xim passed, like a vast storm. Xim's desperate raids of the Core's colonies galvanized the isolationists. They argued that expansion invited doom and left the Republic vulnerable. In fact, many foresaw that if Xim won, he'd become the hegemon of much of the Mid Rim, and that those previously terrified of the Hutts would flock to his banner. In so doing, he'd "corner the market" (in Corellian terms) and render further Republic expansion into the region improbable at best. But Xim did not win. After Vontor, the prospects suddenly changed dramatically. Because now, with the Tionese crushed beneath their feet and their empire seemingly secure, the Hutt Council wanted to move closer and closer to the Core, and bring ever more systems into the same cycle of oppression that dominated the Rim. This terrified both the Republic and the free peoples of the Mid Rim. Suddenly, old grievances with the Republic's excesses were mostly forgotten. "Better the Republic than the Hutts" was the common conclusion.

This ensured that, in the face of Hutt expansion, countless systems outright petitioned to join the Republic. And the Republic welcomed them, because the Senate feared that some day, every single warm body would be needed to go and fight the Hutts in a struggle for survival. The isolationists had lost the moment; in a very short span of time, the reactionary dream of a human-exclusive Core union was lost forever. The Mid Rim begged for a protector -- any protector -- and the Republic moved in to counter the Hutts. The influx of non-human member states changed the First Republic's politics dramatically, lending far greater weight to the Mid Rim and creating what many hailed as a more equal union of worlds. (The Core’s more racially bigoted block ensured their own downfall in a last-ditch attempt to block the full membership of Mid Rim worlds, introducing proposed legislation to make the Mid Rim planets into a non-voting type of 'second-class' world within the Republic. Their bid failed by a seven-to-one margin in the Senate. With their true colors revealed, they were electorally wiped out.)

This would seem to be the hour of decision, where the Republic could live up to its ideals and stand up for freedom and justice in a titanic struggle over the fate of the galaxy. The Jedi openly called for it: Jedi volunteers were already engaged in the business of actively attacking all slaver ships and freeing their sentient cargo. Despite the horrors of war, the Order saw the annihilation of the Hutt Empire as a matter of destiny. Yet in the fateful moment, the Republic proved unequal to the task. Several border wars were fought against the Hutts, but the great conflict was staved off again and again. Compromise upon compromise was signed, as the two powers carefully demarcated spheres of influence, instead of fighting it out once and for all. Eventually, after several minor border clashes, the Republic and Hutts reached a more official understanding of mutual non aggression -- and indeed, of mutual trade. In the so-called Rendilli Concordat, terms of lasting co-existence were outlined.

The government presented this as getting the best possible result out of a difficult situation. A clear line of territorial division was drawn up. In exchange for not attacking Republic worlds, the Hutts could trust that the government would legally restrain Jedi and other interested parties from launching abolitionist raids into Hutt territory. As a benefit to this, the Republic would be free to trade with the Hutts and vice versa, thus opening both up to commercial opportunities. This new "relationship" was at once controversial. Peace with slavers? Trade with slavers? Grand Master Gendraal of the Jedi Order addressed the Senate, calling for the proposal to be repudiated. The Senatorial elite, fearful of committing to a course of war, hastily fled from the Chamber in great numbers. They would not vote in favour of Gendraal's motion, nor against it: they would cowardly deny him a quorum, and let that be the end of it.

The government's commissioner, defending the treaty, assured the Grand Master that the only interest at stake was the establishment of lasting peace. At this, Gendraal only scoffed. "Peace at what price? How many thousands of worlds have you condemned to chains and slavery?" When the government's commissioner responded that those worlds were not members of the Republic and thus not the responsibility of the Senate, Gendraal responded acerbically: "Responsibility does not end at the border."

Words that would prove prophetic. Yet Gendraal was not to be cast in the role of a prophet. Instead, when the Republic began to deny the Jedi support, unless the Order desisted in "illegal" anti-slavery operations, Gendraal famously resigned from his position of Grand Master. Financed by an avidly abolitionist group of Corellian merchant princes, he and a group of fellow Jedi waged a long clandestine campaign against the Hutts. It got to the point that the Republic had to assure the Hutts that anyone caught in the neutral zone with a lightsaber would be arrested and extradited to the Hutts. This came to a head when a Republic patrol indeed caught Gendraal just as he was returning from the neutral regions. His ship was full of freshly-freed slaves, his clothes still smeared with Hutt blood. Yet he did not carry a lightsaber, and after seeing the miserable condition the former slaves were in, the captain was not inclined to look for any Jedi weapon very closely.

(As it happened, Gendraal made it a point to always hide his weapon in his long and magnificent beard. He was stopped and searched at least twenty times, but the weapon was never found. Some say that no Republic officer was willing to humiliate the venerated old man by frisking his beard. Others say that the officers knew perfectly well where the saber was hidden, but just pretended not to. Either way, the story became legendary. The saying "Gendraal's beard!", among Jedi, has even since indicated that one is deeply resolved to do something illegal, but morally just.)

Despite the constant clandestine actions to subvert the slave trade, the treaty held. Perhaps the fact that Hutt slavers illegally crossed the border quite regularly was a key factor in stopping the Hutts from exploiting their manufactured outrage at Gendraal's exploits. No matter what, the peace of cowardice was maintained for many decades, and most in the Republic reconciled themselves with it. They were, after all, safe and blessed by great prosperity. Yes, at the cost of leaving much of the Rim to rot under Hutt tyranny... but that was tragically easy to ignore. This was an age of moral compromise. The First Republic had missed its window of true greatness. It had, in so doing, also averted a galactic war, but as Gendraal asked: at what cost? Deep down, at the cost of its own soul. Everybody secretly knew it. And so, despite wealth and progress, an attitude of bitterness and cynicism settled into the Republic's culture. The root cause of this was collective shame.

Society hardened, somehow. The people grew cold and distant from one another. As the Republic settled into the sphere of power it had carved out for itself, bordering with the Hutts, internal conflicts flared back up again. The power of central authority and the place of the galactic Senate became more and more of a heated issue. It was no longer just a matter of identity. The Republic had been founded on the promise of self determination for all, and made expensive endeavors to preserve the sovereignty of all cultures even as they intermixed with others. Yet as the age of expansion halted, a period of consolidation began. The Senate took more and more tasks upon itself. Attempts to encroach on prior policies of self determination were met with ferocious rebuke by nationalistic partisans on many a world from members as old as Corellia to the more newly added Ithor. At the same time, both practical needs and cultural immersion led to calls for a growth of Senatorial power. Political battle-lines were drawn up. If the Republic could not fight the Hutts, it seemed, the Republic would fight itself.

Even the matter of relations with the Hutts were made, primarily, the subject of domestic policy disputes. Many felt that bordering the Hutt Empire, the Republic now required a standing army to defend its borders. This would of course represent a massive expenditure, to be added to the already massively inflating costs of central governance. The funding of the various guilds and of the expanding newer colonies already cost more every passing year. The Senate had thus far been operating on the basis of a voluntary system of donations and stipends by various member worlds, in addition to some irregular duties here and there. Increasingly, the need came in for more funds, and hence the need for direct taxation. The mere suggestion, however, caused intense uproar from the localists, who called it a 'violation of the spirit of the Republic'.

As this debate was roaring in the Senate, the Jedi Order was facing her own internal divisions. As the order had grown to include hundreds of Enclaves spread out across the worlds, the authority of the far away Jedi Council -- isolated as they were on Tython -- had frayed significantly. Many individual conclaves would have different ideas about the Force, and about politics. Some wanted to fully integrate themselves with the local population, in a manner very similar to what we know from the Corellian Jedi, while others were keen to become more fully involved with the Galactic Senate and its politics. Yet other wanted to retreat somewhat from such public entanglements. Of course, the matter of the Force itself was still very much open discussion, with many wide-ranging ideologies on what was safe and proper and where the Jedi should explore, including some very dangerous heresies which developed (such as the Philosophy of the Flow, the idea that Force Sensitives should simply detach themselves from the physical world and physical considerations, abandoning the Code's duty to defend the weak, and becoming solely devoted to an 'inward journey'.)

One thing most Jedi agreed upon was that the Republic had neglected to carry out its duty when it made peace with the Hutt Empire. The self-exile of Gendraal was a source of immense embarrassment and irritation. Thus, when the Republic's government proposed a convention to revise the Constitution, the Jedi declined to participate. Without the neutral Order's involvement, the proposal floundered. This decision has been hotly debated in ages since. Was this a moral decision; a clear choice not to get involved in increasingly dirty politics? Or was this spite on the Order's part; spite which proceeded to doom the Republic's best hope for structural reform? However we judge it, this decision meant that any reform of the Republic's institutions would be a slow, incremental process.

For the longest timed, it seemed like the Republic's underlying issues would indeed be resolved in due time, step by step. While there were still fractures, the Republic was seen as still relatively strong and prosperous during this time. Nobody knew how bad things really were. If the Jedi had known what was to come, they might well have acted differently. But they did not know. The First Republic was seen as healthy, and capable of coming out of any crisis stronger than before. Despite the compromises and the moral failings, it was at least a time of peace, when the Senate still mostly kept the balance between the various factions within the Republic.

But that all changed when the Sith Empire attacked.
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Chapter Ten: The Golden Age of The SIth

Earl

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None of you here possess what it takes to lead us into the future. You all lack vision or purpose beyond simple conquest and war. Our great brotherhood must be more than simple minded goals. Our Empire, greater still, demands the ruling hand of a true visionary. You seek the throne? You seek to claim the title of Dark Lord? Then take it through your fire and your cunning! Let the Dark guide you, and only then will you be able to use the Dark to gain mastery over others. The worthiest of all contenders will gain the mantle of authority, and so will it ever be. You must fight a war like no other, to produce a ruler like no other!"

The Rajivari Holocron, starting the Wars of the Dark Succession in the aftermath of Ajunta Pall's death


"It seems that I am the worthiest, father..."

Marka Ragnos to his father, Lord Ratish, upon his ascension to Apprentice at the age of eight


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Whereas the First Republic expanded in a mostly peaceful manner, this should not be mistaken for a universal norm throughout the galaxy. Indeed, as much as certain injustices of the Republic's expansionist policies can be criticized, the Republic at its very worst was still a beacon of civility compared to certain other powers. Naturally, the slavocratic Hutts provide one point of comparison, but there is another. One that would in many ways prove even more terrible and monstrous. Far away from the thriving heart of the Republic, hidden in the dark fringes, the Sith Empire arose in its own right.

Even as the Republic thrived, the Sith were embarking upon their own golden age. It was to be an era as cruel as it was prosperous. Striking out from Korriban, they built a society drenched in misery, rooted in oppression, and fueled by conquest. And it worked. Every new subjugation brought new slaves and plunder, to be divided among the warriors. Divided, of course, by the rulers, who first took all the best for themselves. But even still, so much looted wealth ensured that for those willing to be brutal and heartless, there was plenty to be gained in service of the Sith Empire. Thus, the whole of society was stimulated in a direction of feckless egomania. Those who were anything less than utterly ruthless were destroyed or enslaved, whereas those most cruel and violent rose to the highest positions of power.

Ajunta Pall reigned for a long century, overseeing the development of the Empire, and creating a new system of governance that gradually merged the Dark Acoyltes into the priestly caste of the old Sith elite. The most powerful bloodlines gave birth to the new aristocracy of Dark Lords. As he cleared the Tave Ari from their cities and began the process of dividing the spoils, he gave the most powerful of his followers their own cities, which they could rule without any overlord except for Ajunta Pall and the Dark Council. The weaker followers of the Dark Side would have to go out and conquer their own lands. Korriban was soon divided, and the new masters of the Sith began to strike out at nearby worlds. Thus, cruel colonialism began, overseen by the Dark Council. Spoils were divided, and new conquests initiated.

At first, the Dark Council consisted solely of the initial leaders of the Dark Acolytes and the foremost patriarchs of the priestly caste of Korriban. As time went on, new blood seeped in. Ambitious figures clawed their way into the ranks of power, often using the corpses of rivals as stepping stones. Just as the nature of the empire encouraged cutthroat behavior, so did the nature of its government. Killers leading killers. The Sith reveled in their own brutality. Advancement in rank was often a matter of challenging a rival, defeating him, gauging out his eyes, and giving him to the sorcerers to be sacrificed. The sorcerers and alchemists were now free and unconstrained, and they had endless numbers of slaves to sacrifice in dark rituals, or to use in twisted experiments. They thus delved deeper and deeper into the secrets of the Dark Side, with none to stand in their way. This was an age of evil, when dark and vile beings came perhaps closer than ever to becoming they evil gods they imagined themselves to be.

Just as one would expect of the Sith and their ways, the system of their culture was such that the great mass of the population existed in harrowing circumstances, as serves or slaves. Brutalized, oppressed, and constantly in mortal danger. To many of us, this is difficult to understand, but to the Sith, this was not a failing or even a mere side effect of their system. It was an intended feature. Some might say it was the core purpose. Constant violence and oppression would inevitably provide selective pressure, they believed, allowing the strongest and most exceptional to thrive -- not in spite of adversity, but because of it. All of the population was structurally indoctrinated to believe this.

There was also the fact that in between the elite of the Dark Lords and their warrior retainers on one hand and the serf population and teeming enslaved masses on the other hand, there was a considerable cohort of non Force sensitive soldiers. These were the direct descendants of the conquistadors who had followed the Sith to Korriban in their desire for blood and treasure. After the establishment on the Empire, they soon formed their own lesser fiefdoms, each pledging themselves to a Dark Lord, and to the cause of furthering his glory. This path was fraught with peril, of course, as it was not unknown for a entire family to be reduced to Gottenthu for making a wrong choice in the constant cutthroat competition of Sith society.

Nevertheless, those who prevailed were often rewarded richly, and this social caste served as crucial enforcers -- both keeping the serf population in line and following the Dark Lords in their conquests abroad. In return, they were appointed increasingly lavish positions in the new colonies. Rich estates with many slaves. Entire worlds were solely the domain of this caste. Indeed, both by their own choie and because their Sith masters wished it, they strictly held themselves apart. No interbreeding between Force-sensitive Sith and their "commoner" vassals was to be permitted. The strict eugenics of the Empire sought primarily to keep the Sith blood pure, but the conquistador class had its own reasons to stick to their own kind. They felt that by staying out of the Dark affairs of the Sith sorcerers, they could actually improve their own safety. All Sith Lords needed foot soldiers. By not getting involved in the jostling for power at the top, they could be foot soldiers to all the Sith. (This state of affairs would end up preserving the diversity of species within the original Sith Empire that would play a considerable role in the restored Sith Empire a thousand years later.)

While Pall remained alive as a steady hand to keep order, the vicious system remained remarkably stable. Pall's approach certainly wasn't to maintain peace, but to channel war and destruction in the directions he was as most fitting. He encouraged in-fighting, but specifically in ritualized combat. Deadly rivalries were thus channeled into a system that maintained the brutal competition, but wouldn't endanger the Empire. Broader warfare between Sith was discouraged: campaigns were ever to be directed outward. As Pall declared: "Any who expands the Empire is a true Sith; any who by foolish actions weakens the Empire is a traitor to be marked for death."

By these words, the golden age of the Sith was shaped. None among their more perfectly encapsulate the evil spirit of these times than Marka Ragnos. Some have called him the embodiment of all that a Sith should be. To those who know the Sith, those are ominous words...

Marka Ragnos stands out especially, perhaps, because he was born at the right time. The sith, of course, would never agree with that. It is their philosophy that will alone determines one's success. Will to power. But a more clinical look will show us that Marka Ragnos could do what he did because he was in the right place at the right time. Let us set the scene. Under the aegis of Ajunta Pall, the Sith had thrived and thrived. Eventually, they had become so successful that there were enough conquests to satisfy all the mighty lords. These lords grew busy governing (in cruel ways) the domains they already had. Lesser warriors attempted some further conquests, but they were lesser for a reason. Some of these ventures succeeded, but by and large, the Sith Empire had grown up to its full capacity.

Pall realized fully well that if the Sith united into one host, they could launch a campaign of conquest on a much larger scale. But he could not devise a way to unite all the Sith. As they governed their fiefs, their society became more and more disunited. To his ire, Pall found that his system had succeeded so well that it now threatened to undermine his own goals! The sith were beginning to become lax and sated. The success of their imperial ambitions had allowed a certain decadence to creep in. Very often, the mightiest Sith no longer died in mortal combat with their rivals, but were instead assassinated by poison at lavish banquets. The decline had been slow, of course. Such things often are. And perhaps because of that, Pall only truly grasped the danger by the time it was already too late.

He began agitating for a great crusade, but lacking an attractive target, he did not manage to get the Sith eager for such a thing. His advanced age played a role as well. He was old, and soon enough, he was dying. He tried to find a way to restore "the strong vitality of the mortal struggle" to Sith society, but to no avail. Like all men, no matter how powerful in the Force, he came face to face with his own mortality. Pall died, and scarcely a week after he was entombed, the system he had so carefully built up began to crumble. First, it remained functional, as all were by then well accustomed to tradition and ritual. So, in exact accordance with Pall's long established instructions, the Lords of the Sith gathered before the holocron of Rajivari. His specter would judge them all, and would -- as Pall had explained -- crown the worthiest of them to rule the Sith.

Following their ambitious natures, they all competed fiercely for Rajivari's favor. However, Rajivari was unsatisfied with the whole crop of candidates. As Rajivari contemplated in his holocron, he saw what Pall had also seen: complacency. And like Pall, he despised it. Instead of choosing a leader and ending the competition between candidates, he felt that the competition should be intensified. Pall, who had dedicated his whole life to preventing wars between the Sith factions, had instinctively shied away from this idea. Rajivari, however, was more willing to embrace destructive methods. He felt that the descendants of his erstwhile disciples would need to grow stronger again. They would have to build on their extensive knowledge of the Force, bringing their power into blood-soaked practice. They would have to fight. If not some external foe, then each other.

The core of Rajivari's thinking was always conflict. This would have to be the ideology and theology of the Sith Empire; one that would could resound throughout the ages. The belief that life was and ought to be a struggle for survival, where only the strongest survive and thrive. He did not see this murderous will to power in the leaders who came before him. No -- he saw weak leaders, mere fools who would only allow power to make them decadent and fat, and who would thus allow the power of the Sith to dissolve and decline, with no way of preserving it. In the Saga of Darkness, a Sith text on the history of this era, commisioned during the reign of Marka Ragnos, it is said: "Thus Rajivari proclaimed: let the most powerful rule, the most cunning, the strongest of mind and of will -- and let this ruler delve into the mysteries of the Dark, dive and keep themselves, and the one who emerges from that tempest will truly know the Dark, and will know what it means to be of the Darkness..."

The holocron of Rajivari spurred on the candidates with further words of action, making it very clear that no mere compromise could ever determine the rightful ruler of the Sith. Only through a bloodletting, a war like no other, could this matter be settled. Thus began a fierce competition, precisely as intended. The series of brutal conflicts would later be called the Wars of the Dark Succession. The would-be rulers of the Sith were pitted against each other, and the careful balance that Pall had maintained was cast aside with abandon. Unrestrained warfare, on a scale that dwarfed the battles of the ages before the Acolytes came, now ravaged not only Korriban, but vast swathes of the Empire.

In this conflict, sorcery was often most sought after power: a Dark ability that could be employed to destroy enemies, warp the realities of the battlefield, turn men insane and vanquish whole armies. The wars turned into a festival of carnage, with all sides engaging in mass slaughter of the most depraved sort. Whole populations were frequently sacrificed in dark rituals, all to gain some sort of advantage in the clash of the Sith Lords. The priestly class of old Korriban had now fully merged with the population derived from the original Acolytes, and the most prominent bloodlines of the Empire, who vied for absolute power, grew to embrace a concept akin to one the Alderaani would know very well: that of the philosopher king. But whereas on Alderaan, there was an ideal of nobility and wisdom, the Sith variant of the concept was quite different. The great lords of the Empire, all seeking the highest authority over their peers, one after another proclaimed themselves sovereign. And they were to be sorcerer-kings; dark monarchs who were at once warlord and chief priest.

Each of these sorcerer-kings would build a new temple looking for the dark secrets of the galaxy, to discover more knowledge and refine their techniques in alchemy. And while all this was happening, the lesser sons and daughters of the great houses, with no prospects to attain the highest position, would go off and conquer new lands. In doing so, they would all be busy carrying off the plunder and slaves back to Korriban or setting themselves up as new lords of these lands. In most cases, the chief purpose was to fund the war machine of their dynasty's pretender to the Imperial throne.

Two hundred seventy years into this era of conflict, Marka Ragnos was born. His father was one of the leading Dark Lords of the era: the insane Ratish of Moraband. Exceptionally well versed in arcane lore and mystical secrets, Ratish was a mad genius, who adopted a careful, scientific method in his quest to become the most learned and powerful of the Sith. His ambitions and his experiments were often deranged in nature, but the process by which he carried them out was painstakingly planned. He innovated many new uses and techniques in the field of Sith alchemy, with which he consumed himself. In regard to his children, born to various concubines and slaves, he alternated between utter neglect and horrific abuse (experimenting on them to make them more ruthless and twisted).

Marka Ragnos was to be a product of that environment. Accounts of his childhood, which are scarce enough, are littered with revisionist propaganda, and often skewered with latter interpolations and Sith hagiography. At any rate, they claim with feverous admiration that he was from the very moment of his birth "coated in the deepest darkness, layered with the shadowy film of power". It is written that "as the many weaklings scrambled for the things of mortal sustenance, the Great Lord studied higher matters, and came to conclusions of vast import..."

Already at the young age of eight, the child's character and abilities were demonstrated by his actions. Marka created a Sand Demon using rituals that his father had pioneered; a creature constructed by his own mind, to do his bidding. Experienced sorcerers shied away from such methods, because the process could easily go wrong. Perhaps the fact that Marka Ragnos tried it shows the way a child can leap into danger -- but the fact that he succeeded showed his exceptional abilities. And then there is the purpose to which he put his self-made "companion". That showed something else about him. Something terrible. No sooner had Marka Ragnos crafted the Sand Demon out of will and magic alone, or he ordered his creation -- in graphic detail -- to go and kill his siblings. Even at a young age, Marka was keenly aware of the threat his own siblings posed to his own supremacy.

Afterwards, he had the demon drag the bodies to his father's dungeon, where Ratish was carrying out his experiments, and proudly presented his handiwork. From that moment on, Ratish recognized Marka as his true heir, finally treated him as his own son, and began raising him to the prime of his potential. The son became the apprentice of the father, and together, they used their alchemy to build a sort of army never before seen. They warped and mutated their soldiers, creating fanatical berserkers and twisted abominations. After countless experiments, they began to use their abilities to enhance their own physical forms. They successfully expanded the territory of their city-state, as well as its many off-world colonies. (It must be understood that the central worlds of the Empire were often divided among competing states, but that each of these states had a number of lesser planets as colonies.) Conquering both neighboring cities directly and targeting the colonies of rival powers, father and son forged their already respectable realm into one of the foremost contenders for supreme power in the Empire.

Ultimately, Ratish could call himself lord and sovereign of all Moraband, and of all its colonies. The fiefs beholden to his dark throne were so numerous that Moraband even came to eclipse Korriban -- primarily because power over that great world was still divided among multiple competing claimants. So predominant was Moraband that some historical records of the era mean to refer to Moraband, and not Korriban, when they speak of "the seat of supreme power". This has given rise to the misconception that Moraband and Korriban were one and the same; that Moraband was simply an old name for Korriban. But despite several otherwise reputable historians repeating this myth, it is demonstrably false. One reason we know this is from the Stele of Kergahl, whose glyphs contain a boast by Lord Ratish that he would soon be "master of Moraband and Korriban alike; king of two worlds; king of all worlds".

This, however, was not to be. As is typical of practically all Sith masters and their apprentices, Marka and Ratish came to a point of conflict. The son increasingly followed his own ambitions, which were ever more clashing with those of his father. Ratish believed he could still keep his son in check, but Marka Ragnos was as ruthless as any person could conceivably be. At the bright young age of 16, he betrayed his father, carrying out a careful ploy whereby he pretended to grudgingly accept an off-world assignment, only to assassinate his father during the departure ceremony. He immediately took over the capital, murdering anyone whose loyalty was in doubt. Needless to say, it was a bloody affair. Consolidating his power, he ensured the loyalty of many officers thanks to the prospect of punitive campaigns against disloyal subjects. All plunder would be generously distributed.

After placing Moraband itself securely under his control, he embarked on a series of campaigns across his colonial holdings -- both to ensure lasting obedience, and to 'bleed' a new cadre of officers who had been promoted to fill gaps in the ranks. (Gaps created by his own bloody purge.) Over the next four years, the possessions of Lord Ratish -- now the possessions of his patricidal heir -- were the victim of new levels of brutality. Uncaring for the fate of his own people overall, Marka Ragnos deliberately sought to separate the truest killers from the rest. Only when he was satisfied that he had the strongest, most merciless army in the history of the Sith did he finally begin to push outward again. First, he struck out at some strategic gaps in his patchwork of possessions, ensuring that his domain was contiguous and well-defended. Then, he began his true offensive. Target: Korriban.

The young warlord, only twenty at the time, decided that a dragged out piecemeal conquest was unacceptable. In characteristic fashion, his alternative was so ambitious as to be ludicrous to most men. Only someone like Xim would have appreciated the dramatic boldness of it. For Marka Ragnos had concluded that if he could take Korriban itself, he would soon be able to bring into his sphere of power many -- if not all -- of the myriad colony worlds beholden to its previous rulers. After that, with the realms of Moraband and Korriban united, all other Sith fiefs would be unable to keep him back. Even if united in common cause against him, they would still be outnumbered by the forces at his disposal. And that is to say nothing of the legitimacy that holding Korriban would yield!

So Marka Ragnos fell upon the homeworld, unexpected and merciless. The assault was terrible, for the planet was extremely well-defended. All mighty Sith Lords -- and Korriban was home to some of the mightiest -- had dug in during the long decades of war. All cities were like bunkers. And great fleets orbited; usually aiming their weapons at each other in near-paranoid distrust, but now all ready to confront the sudden invasion from Moraband. Ready, yes -- to fight. But not to win. Victory came at a high price, but nothing less could have pleased Marka Ragnos. To him, every death in his own ranks meant a weakling erased from existence, leaving more room for the victorious survivors. Half his own fleet was destroyed. What of it? The enemy fleets were all shredded. The space over Korriban was his. The landings could commence.

In keeping with his victory-or-death mentality, Marka Ragnos did not care for supplies overly much. He would not repeat Xim's error of relying on vulnerable logistics. His aim was not to win a lengthy siege, but to win in a brutal campaign of shock, terror and utter devastation. His entire fleet aimed at one single city state, and began a bombardment of epic proportions. Even those trying to survive in the deepest bunkers were cooked alive as the surface above them liquified under the immense heat. No negotiations were even begun in advance. No terms of surrender were offered. This was no reprisal. This was a demonstration. Marka, already alling himself the master of Korriban, ensured that all were aware of precisely what he had done. He broadcasted the attack in detail. When it was done, he hailed all the other great lords of Korriban, and made his offer: the first to swear loyalty to him would be spared. all others would be bombarded in the same manner. The truth is this: he only had bombs left to carry out one more such bombardment. A score of them was beyond his means. But his confidence, his psychopathic determination, was enough to convince at least one of the Sith Lords of the surface. He broadcast his surrender almost at once.

A lesser lord of war, or a more humane one, might have chosen to take that opportunity, granted against all probability. To be glad that a bluff of such proportions had worked. Not Marka Ragnos. Instead, he broadcast the surrender as widely as possible, just as he had broadcast his own missives. The response of the other Sith Lords on the surface was just what he had expected. Knowing that with a foothold on the ground, the invader would be endlessly more dangerous, they rushed to attack the city that had offered to surrender. That city closed its gates in fear. It was besieged. The greatest armies on the surface encircled its walls -- and Marka Ragnos bombed not the city, but those armies. Only then did he launch his landing. He spared the Lord who had surrendered, but stripped him of all power. The city, in turn, was also stripped -- of all supplies. Its warriors were inducted into the invasion army. The lower classes were butchered for their meat. On such a diet did the armies of Marka Ragnos march across Korriban.

The other cities naturally defied him for as long as they could, but their armies had been lured out and obliterated. They stood no chance against the most savage legions in Sith history. Marka Ragnos was unstoppable. The young lord had used every method imaginable to conquer the people, and sacrificed entire cities to the Dark Side for his own personal strength. Alchemical weapons, dark magics, and ruthless cannibal legions -- these destroyed the great cities. All lesser cities were offered one chance to surrender, and the vast majority took it eagerly. Marka accepted them, indeed bringing them into his service and pitting them against the greater states. In this way, he conquered all of the Sith homeworld.

When the last of his rivals had finally by defeated -- and sacrificed in a gruesome ritual -- the task remained of bringing the many colonies of the conquered states into line. Many of these had already pledged their allegiance to Marka Ragnos as their new overlord, but others were not so eager to submit. Rather than striking out in direct conquest, Marka instead made his way to the site of the original landing, where the Dark Acolytes had first arrived. There, in a great temple complex, the holocron of Rajivari was stored, carefully guarded by his most dedicated acolytes. Marka came before the spectral visage of this great leader, and boldly declared that he had come to be named Lord of all the Sith. He was duly evaluated by Rajivari, who put him through near-endless mental tests and conditions. Established success was not enough. Rajivari wished to know whether Marka's mind was of the right sort.

As it turned out, it was. Paradoxically, Rajivari even expressed wonderment that a person could embody the ideals of the Sith to such a fanatical degree. There was a sliver of doubt, of disconcerted hesitation: Marka Ragnos straddled the line between a master and a madman; between the keeper of the orthodoxy and the raging fanatic. Yet was that not what the Sith needed? A tyrant without scruples or limits? Thus, Rajivari proclaimed Marka Ragnos to be the True Dark Lord and Emperor of the Sith. Advised by the holocron-bound sage, and assisted by a council of lords -- many of whom he had defeated in battle or forced into submission -- Marka Ragnos began his imperial reign by demanding the surrender of all colonies and all lesser fiefs. Those that failed to comply lived just long enough to severely regret their choice.

Having established harsh order, Marka wasted no time in starting the phase of wholesale expansion that Ajunta Pall had dreamed of before his time. But instead of a united crusade against some suitable target, he instead ordered expansion in all directions, along various hyperlanes. These were campaigns of conquest, but at the same time, they were part of a strategy to keep all potential rivals very busy... elsewhere. Ajunta Pall had only been able to dream of such things, for in his day, the Sith Lords were far more sovereign, and could not be ordered to undertake such actions. Thus, Pall had been condemned to watch as they grew complacent and ceased all expansionist warfare. But as Emperor, Marka Ragnos had brought the other Sith to their knees. He could order them do whatever he wished -- and woe unto those who disobeyed him!

Now began the next step of his grand plan: finally bringing the Sith teachings into one united philosophy. Rajivari saw this as perhaps the most important element of the new Emperor's great mission. Whether Marka himself agreed is not quite so clear, but it cannot be denied that this undertaking is the one that produced a legacy for the ages. At the city of Enecie, a grand council debated for months on end, and the Emperor listened to their visions. And as one would except of the Sith, it was he who made the ultimate decisions, and oversaw the codification of a unified doctrine for the Sith. The traditions of the Sith were poured into this document: a philosophy of domination and victory was expounded, proclaiming that every Force sensitive person in existence should be compelled to strive for their uppermost limits -- and to defeat all lessers who stood in the way. The inherent righteousness of the Empire, which was defined as the only legitimate government in existence, was proudly proclaimed. Its "civilizing" mission would be nothing short of universal conquest: the eradication of all other regimes and states. The codification project was part constitutional project, part philosophical treatise, and part religious canon. Here, the Sith defined themselves for all time. And to conclude that work, the tenets of their ways were poured into the now infamous Code of the Sith:


Peace is a lie, there is only passion

Through passion I gain strength

Through strength I gain power

Through power I gain victory

Through victory my chains are broken

The Force shall free me


It is often said that the Emperor penned these lines himself. Other sources attribute them to Rajivari. Whether either is true cannot be known for certain, but it is not in doubt that these boasting words reflected their mindset. They are dangerous words, often misunderstood by the young and impetuous, who mistake the appeal to "freedom" as having a noble intent. Nothing could be further from the truth: whenever a Sith says "freedom", he means it in the way Rajivari intended it. Freedom for the strongest -- slavery and death for all the rest. It is upon that guiding principle that all Sith society would be rigidly patterned. A dark meritocracy. The temples would be opened to training all Force sensitives, regardless of birth or station. Only power would determine advancement. The new Dark Lords, ruling fiefs within the Empire, would report directly to the Emperor, with local autonomy reduced to a bare minimum.

Marka Ragnos also gathered his vast army, and targeted precisely those places where his vassals had bogged down in their attempts at pushing the imperial borders outward. With his enormous host of mutated fanatics, he succeeded where they had failed, conquering planet after planet in the name of the Empire and either assimilating the population (if he thought them worthy) or enslaving them, making a new class of Gottenthu slaves. The aim of this was to show his superiority over all his lessers, thus discouraging any attempts at usurpation. By all accounts, it was effective. It was also a very thorough expansion of the Empire's power. Thorough, and merciless. Invariably, whenever Marka Ragnos conquered a new population, he would implement a policy which could be best summed up in a saying that is attributed to him in the Sagas:

"Simply killing an enemy and all his progeny is the mistake of barbarians without finesse. Much better is to reduce a foe to a dog at your feet, a servant at your whim, to drive home to him his complete inferiority, and then to have his own pup bite his face off. Much better is such a thorough victory, and much to be preferred over the all too brief satisfaction of merely twisting the knife."

In accordance with this attitude, he would refrain from killing enemy leaders when he could instead capture them alive. Their humiliation and helplessness thus become yet another... demonstration... of his own supremacy. Marka Ragnos knew well that half of being powerful is often to be seen being powerful. As he kept his enemies imprisoned, he would take their children, train them in his own forces, warp them to his liking, indoctrinate them until they were his instruments. After a number of years, the defeated enemy would be dragged in front of his people, often enslaved and fed false rumors of his survival and planning of a revolt if he was beloved, and the child would kill him in front of them all without hesitation. This form of domination, turning children against parents and others close to them, would become a constant of Sith tactics and theology for ages yet to come…
 
Interlude: A Tale of a Sith

Earl

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Turja was born a Cathar Gottenthu in one of the great cities of Korriban. She never knew her parents. Her ancestors, like countless others, were descendants of those who had been transported to Korriban after the Sith had brutally conquered the planet Cathar in their advance along the Hydian Way. As was customary in Sith treatment of their slave caste, Turja was taken from her family at birth. Slaves were raised without identities or lineage: expendable masses, working to build new monuments. Most were generally ignored, as long as they worked. They were considered little more than animals. This disdainful lack of attention played a part in saving Turja's life, certainly: even from a young age, she was inhabited by an inner fire. Had the overseers been more interested in weeding out potential troublemakers, she would not have survived very long.

Her personality was sharp, somehow not dulled by a grinding existence. Nor was her insatiable curiosity stamped out. Against all rules, she secretly taught herself to read. Doing so without any aid was no mean task, and demonstrated a considerable intelligence. More evidence of that could be seen in the fact that she kept her scathing wit down when in the presence of anyone who could punish her for it. Thus, she escaped execution. Nevertheless, an unbroken mind somehow yields another posture than one who has given up. Something about her always hinted at the fact that her attitude was unfit for a slave. Despite the lack of any true reason, the overseers still instinctively singled her out for punishment often, beating her savagely for such nonsense as her "tone of voice". In reality, though they could never have admitted, the unconcieus recognition of a highly intelligent mind and it grated on them, to know that this lowly animal could possibly be anywhere near, never mind surpassing their level.

And for that, Turja only suffered. She was assigned the most demeaning and dangerous tasks. It is a wonder she even survived this treatment of her youth, but survive it she did. And it kindled in her an incandescent fury, which would only continue to build and build. Few could have expected that when it finally exploded, it would do so in the savagely destructive way that it did. Although a slave that proved particularly useful in some way might be elevated to a higher station, this was exceedingly rare even in the early days of the Empire. As a result of the eugenics programs, it was commonly expected that the slave caste would never produce any individuals of value. But this, even to the extent that if might have held any truth at all, discounted the fact that whole new populations were being enslaved and thus added to the Gottenthu caste. These were not selected for anything at all, so it should come as no great surprise that the rate of exceptional people in these ranks should gravitate towards the average of any general population.

That Turja was indeed quite exceptional became evident on the day that she finally irritated a petty-minded overseer just enough, and was sentenced to be whipped to death for her insubordination. Previous punishments and humiliations had, intrinsically, been things she knew she'd be able to overcome. This was very different -- as was her reaction. Powers that had previously been dormant erupted as she struggled for her life. Dark rage filled her body and her mind, and was then turned on her assailants. There was certainly a spectacle of death that day, but it was not her death. The overseers were destroyed instead: the flesh ripped from their very bones, by a power that Turja barely controlled or understood.

Normally, any retaliation would mean certain death. But the overseers were mere lower-caste workers in the end. Now revealed as Force-sensitive, Turja was by default raised above them. To the Sith, the fact that she had killed them only proved that she was fit to rise above her previous station in life. After the blood was cleaned of the pavement, it was Lady Zash who arrived to take Turja away from the slave quarters. Zash, a Sith aristocrat of little notability but considerable ambition, was secretly scheming to usurp the position of the more established Lord Thanaton. She was quite impressed by Turja's anger. In combination with her innate curiosity, Zash felt that such a trait would be perfect for a new apprentice. Besides, the great power that Turja possessed, although at that moment untapped, was also an advantage to Zash. As it happened, she was older than she looked: a century older, in fact. Sustaining herself with the Dark Side, she even managed to project the image of a voracious middle aged woman. But it was all a sham, as was her relatively unassuming position and attitude. Zash was a born schemer, who carefully manipulated her rivals into underestimating her. But playing the long game had the distinct disadvantage of leaving one old by the time one's plans finally came to fruition.

Zash therefore hoped and planned to cheat death, as she had already cheated others, through essence transfer: the essential act of hijacking another's body and killing their soul. And for a Sith such as Zash, Turja made a excellent target. For her part, the young Cathar was both excited and terrified. She had escaped from the bonds of slavery, into the most prized position that Sith society could offer, yet she also knew the dangers of this path. Moreover, she knew well how ruthless and mercurial the Sith could be, so she was quite suspicious of Zash from the start. Once again playing the long game, Zash didn't rush anything, and eased Turja into her new role as Sith apprentice. Generally permissive in her attitude, Zash put her new apprentice at ease, and then lured her into het studies by opening up a world of knowledge. Some speculate that Zash deliberately took on a maternal role towards the young apprentice, even as she taught her all manners of dark sorcery. After all, Turja had never known anything like maternal affection or care in the brutal grip of Sith slavery, which actively sought to destroy any form of solidarity between members of the slave caste and maintained a policy of forced separation of any who formed too close a friendship.

Naturally, as with all Sith, a confrontation between master and apprentice would one day come. Zash most certainly knew it, and Turja was too clever not to have been aware of it from an early stage. Zash spun her own plans for that fateful hour, and might have succeeded in stealing her apprentice's physical form -- were it not for the intervention of a greater power. While scouring the domains of the old tombs for her Sith Master, in search of arcane knowledge, the apprentice found quite more than either she or Zash could have expected. A voice called out to her, leading her to a grand tomb. It was still remarkably small for a Sith Throne, but enveloped by a turbulent energy. A loud voice called forth: "AT LAST, A WORTHY DESCENDANT COMES TO RECLAIM HER BIRTHRIGHT."

At first, Turja understood little of this. A descendant of what? As it turned out, a descendant of the Tomb's inhabitant: the spectre of the mighty Lord Kalling, who had had previously run the city before he has been stabbed in the back by the Lord Tulak Hord. To humiliate Kalling, Hord had butchered all his trueborn children, but Kalling had several illegitimate children with mistresses and slave girls as well. There were disregarded by Hord, and simply sold off as slaves without a second thought. One such child had been born to a Cathar slavegirl, and found herself among other Cathar slaves for the rest of her life. After a few generations, the evidence of any Sith ancestry had been obscured and forgotten. Yet, Kalling assured the girl who was perhaps his only living heir: the blood remembers what all men forget.

Turja was not who she had appeared to be. Hord had reduced Kalling's bastard offspring to the status of mere Gottenthu, to be expended on building monuments to his glory... which he saw as a most wretched insult to Kalling's bloodline. He had believed that mere bastards could never be a true threat. He had been wrong. Kalling had always held out hope that the Force would reemerge in the nameless scions of his family, and that someday it would guide his descendants to his tomb, so that they could reclaim their birthright. This was no selfless charity on his par, of course, nor merely an abstract desire to see his legacy vindicated. He desired a more personal role in this matter. Using powers he had long honen in anticipation of this day, the specter permeated the mind of his long-lost descendant, to follow her as a presence in her head at all times. Not in control, but always there, always watching and more than happy to give her his views and assistance.

Ultimately, this turned out for the better, as he soon understood what Zash was planning. He carefully prepared Turja for the confrontation, which they then forced rather sooner than Zash had been expecting. Kalling helped Turja defeat Zash and indeed, turn her into Turja's bound servant. (History discusses a companion named Khem which her master was transferred to, a wild beast with no bounds but his master. However there is little on him until Zash is bound to him so it may be mythological...)

Hearing of this new upstart, and fearing the return of the Kalling lineage, Lord Thanaton acted to crush this rebellion, and chased Turja out of the city into exile. There she gathered the levels of the deep, assembling new companions for her crusade, and developing new powers for herself. She spent years in this exile, carefully plotting her return. In the end, she expelled Kalling's ghost from her mind. He had instilled in her a dream, a dream of conquest and rulership. Yet she was resolved that the victory -- and its rewards -- would be hers alone, and not to be shared. Perhaps it was the natural growth of the Dark Side and its desire for power. Perhaps it was her deep seated experiences of slavery... Most likely both played a role. Either way, Thanaton never knew what hit him. One day, Turja simply appeared in the city, with only one companion, and challenged him to public Kaggoth. Not knowing of her travels and studies, Thanaton accepted expecting a easy victory. A move he would not have long to regret. By the time she was done with him, there was apparently little but ash in the arena, so powerful had been her Sith lightning and her alchemy.

Proclaiming herself a Sorceress-Queen she reigned supreme over the city and all its inahintants. As Sith reigns go, hers was the most tolerable for the average inhabitant of her domains, it seems. She at least tried to provide for their wellbeing beyond basic survival. Perhaps based on her own experiences, she elevated the status of slaves from being able to be killed on whim... However, she was still a Sith, and stood for all that came with it. Turja experimented endlessly with dark sorcery and alchemy, something she had always been fascinated by, and like all too many a Sith, she pursued eternal life to the end, building a secret tomb on an out-of-the way planet and personally killing every worker to make sure that she remained undisturbed.

When she died, we find that she is perhaps the only Golden Age Sith ruler who was actually missed by her people. The Kalling line would live on into the next era and indeed, it is speculated that her story was a direct influence on the wording of the Sith Code. Regardless, death was far from the end for her personally. She had eternity to exist as a Sith specter, in self chosen isolation, with only her memories to keep her company. She did so for the next 2000 years, until a certain incident which would bring her out into the galaxy once more, during the era of Palpatine's Galactic Empire. At that juncture, her spirit would be forced into a surprising alliance with a Jedi Padawan... but that is a tale for another day.
.................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... I have to credit YeahOkayCool,on SB for allowing me to steal his own charecter of Darth Occulus and the intended future plot line from his own wonderful fic: The Gardners Tale SI also on SB. Hope you gentlemen enjoy this lovely interlude
 
Chapter 11. Great Expectations: The Teta System and The First Jedi Lord

Earl

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I stand here as Unifier and Empress, the master of the waves, heir of the noble blood of Great Desevro. It is only proper for all this world to recognize my right to rule. Let my name ring out in a billion voices!"



Aneia Teta, upon conquering the Koros System and subsequently renaming it... after herself.



"Master Renasius and the Corellian Conclave have grievously erred, with their notion of attachment to their particular people and planet, over that of the whole body of the Galaxy and the Force...."



Declaration by the Tython Jedi Council, addressing the growing rift with the Corellian Enclave





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We have now established the decline of the First Republic, and the ascendancy of the Sith Empire. When Marka Ragnos first came into power as Emperor, the First Republic was in fact still in its earlier days as well, thriving and expanding. But as we know, this prosperous period would come to an end, and the moment of confrontation between these two powers would arrive at a time most ill-chosen for the Republic. It is time for us to look at the circumstances that led to this turn of events. To that end, we must cast our gaze to the system of Koros, or as it's commonly known now: Empress Teta.



Historically, Koros was a trading hub system which was positioned at the main hyperspace junction between the Galactic Mid Rim and the Outer Rim, with great hyperlanes which carried further extending from there. This widespread access would lead to an interesting series of migrations, bringing a massively varied assortment of ethnic groups to the system. From the Sullustan slaves the Rakkata had originally settled there, to a wide variety of species from the Coruscanti Diaspora, to Tionese Humans fleeing the final Hutt conquest of their home sector in 1400 P4R. (Indeed they are the main reason why Tionese Classical Culture survived the Hutt Domination period, when the Hutts went to such lengths as forbidding their Human slaves to speak at pain of having their tongues cut out.)



These influences created a fascinating society, which was both highly mixed in terms of cultures, and at the same time -- regrettably -- highly tribalized and prone to series of conflicts. The societies of Koros profited off of the economic lanes, most becoming daring traders who especially built ships which would sail through solar winds and could navigate around obstacles that even most Corellians had difficulty dealing with. The capital planet, Koros Major, would additionally prove to have a massive reserve of Tibanna and invented the metal of Carbonite.



Sadly the prosperity of the planet was not equally shared, and the old tendency towards infighting resurfaced as the different ethnic groups fought in a vicious cycle of warfare between them, for power and for control of the system's trade routes. Many warlord states abounded, and the scions of the Tionese diaspora were very much reminded of the warring kingdoms of their own ancestral land. Not that the bulk of them lamented the state of affairs that gripped Koros: on the contrary, they were often leading participants in many a blood feud. Not all of them felt that way, however. Some bitterly detested that their kinsmen and the many other inhabitants of the system were endlessly caught up in such petty struggles... when the Hutts still lorded it over their old homes in Tion!



This faction sought eagerly to find some unifying cause, in a sense not unlike those Sith leaders who wanted to achieve success by uniting against some external foe. Koros was hardly as bloody and brutal as the Sith Empire, but that general mindset -- unify warlike factions by seeking out a common foe -- should always be recognized whenever it appears. All too often it is the prelude to an escalation of bloodshed, rather than to its diminishing. But once a truly determined figure seizes power and embarks upon this course, one thing is certain: the state of affairs will shift, and it will do so before too long. There were contenders for that role. What was needed was a means to achieve the necessary power. And so it was that the great change did indeed come about, thanks to two key factors (inextricably intertwined): the entrance of the Republic into the system's affairs, and the ascendance of Teta the Unifier.



The Republic came into the system as part of its desire to corner Hutt Expansion and gain access to the prosperous markets. Its merchants would establish outposts, searching for trade opportunities, and soon supporting certain amenable warlords against their less welcoming rivals. In other words: it was as it had always been. But by chance, the magisters of the Republic's colonial forces soon found their staunchest supporter in one of the local leaders: Teta. She descended from a long line of Desevran warriors, who had decided discretion was the better part of valor during the final conquest of their forefathers' planet. By the old virtues of Desevro, this would be called cowardice and worthy of death. But that Desevro was no more, and these exiles were of a more pragmatic sort.



The Teta family had always been as keen-eyed of the future as they were militarily gifted on the battlefield. They studiously avoided mentioning how they had arrived at their new home in exile, and instead drew all manner of attention to their considerable military achievements since then. Aneia came from this tradition, and always fixed her mind not just on winning a battle, or even a campaign, but on achieving long-term success. When others fought over what she derisively called scraps, she instead built alliances, and carefully prepared for larger, more impressive campaigns. Thus, when the Republic showed its face, she saw the opportunity to win power and amass personal glory -- which, with an ego like hers, really said something. Taking Republic weapons, Aneia Teta promised to gradually abolish slavery in the system and introduce a Alderaanian style House of Commoners to check elite power. Most importantly: she alone promised the Republic's mercantile classes that her future government would enter into complete partnership with the Trade Guilds.



This was very attractive. Whereas exploiting through division had its advantages, bringing the entire system under the aegis of one highly capable ruler was better still -- provided that this monarch was someone willing to work with the Republic's representatives. Aneia Teta was all too willing to join forces. Her offer was tailor-made to attract the interest of the power-brokers: since she would enter into full partnership with the Republic's mercantile investors, maximizing profits would be in her interest as much as theirs. And besides... by irrevocably tying herself to the Republic, she wouldn't be able to turn against them later. Those opposed to the Republic's more heavy-handed exploitation would consider her a traitor, after all.



Thus, Aneia Teta entered into a partnership with the Republic. One should not think for one moment that she was a dupe, or a mere instrument of Republic politicking. On the contrary, she knew exactly what she was doing. Yes, she tied herself to a foreign power... but with its backing, she won the throne. The soon to be united Koros system would have Republic protection extended to it, and with the formidable weapons their new trade partners provided, the Tetans conquered the whole system in a short and brutal campaign. All rivals were brushed aside, and Aneia Teta achieved within a few years what all her ancestors had not managed in generations. She unified the system. And never one to be modest, she promptly renamed it to be henceforth the "Empress Teta system". She certainly guaranteed her enduring legacy, because it still has that name to this very day.



Besides her other achievements, she also brought an end to the local wars. Her rival warlords were defeated. All the warriors were now to be drilled by the Republic's mercenary experts, and were to be joined together into one grand army. One that was meant to fight. For what the new monarch needed was a grand war in which to put her grand army to the test. A common foe to fight, so that all the old grudges would be washed away in that enemy's blood. She knew very well that, even though she introduced a new set of laws, her united monarchy wouldn't survive her by long if she didn't find some common cause to bind the people together. She believed that it would be the Hutts: that the Republic and the slaveocratic thugs would ultimately come to blows, and that Koros would fight in that great war on the Republic's side.



To that end, she had made a name for herself as the ruler who began emancipating the slaves on Koros. (Conveniently not mentioning that her family had previously made quite a fortune in the slave trade. "Let bygones be bygones," was the mantra.) New social opportunities arose for all classes: anyone could join the army, and many of the men did. This created new job opportunities in the civilian economy, which was booming thanks to Republic investment. Many women took those jobs, and much of the old social conservatism evaporated. The empress already saw a whole new society forming, to match her new government. But for all of it to truly gel, she would need a good war. If the army wasn't used, it wouldn't be economically feasible to maintain it. Then, there would be droves of unemployed ex-soldiers about, unable to find jobs, angry that the women had work and they didn't, and all sorts of unrest and infighting would no doubt begin again. So the Empress hoped for a great conflict to erupt.



The expected war, as we know, did not materialize. The Republic and the Hutts struck a bargain, in the name of sweet peace. It was bought, as Master Gendraal observed, at the price of chains and slavery. Seeing a visionary who believed in the cause, the newly-style Empress Aneia Teta rather openly allowed the wizened Master Gendraal and his insurrectionists to shelter in her system. The economic interests of the Republic were so great that none came to apprehend these "terrorists". Whether Gendraal believed the Empress was fully genuine, or suspected that she was just an opportunist, he was very clear that action outweighs anything else. When challenged by a follower over happily accepting the hospitality of an Empress who had, a few years earlier, been a major slave owner herself, his reply was candid: "I will judge none who repent, no matter what their past may hold. And regardless: by sheltering us here on Koros, the Empress has aided us in freeing countless slaves. I will stand by those who do good in this galaxy, and I'll make no apologies for it."



As this new-found alliance found its feet (and many freed slaves found their way to safety in the Republic), the political alliances on Coruscant instead crumbled and collapsed. As we have already seen earlier, the aftermath of the government's ultimate compromise with the Hutts was one of moral, social and political degradation. The Republic, many felt, had sold out its honor and its pride. Trust in public institutions and in the political establishment rapidly eroded. All sides of the political spectrum blamed each other. For instance, one could argue that the Corellians displayed a strong anti-slavery view in this period. They viewed it as a relic of backwards feudalism in its worst form, and found it at odds with their "free markets, free people" attitude. But at the same time, many on Coruscant blamed precisely the Corellians and their many trade interests for the decision to choose a compromised peace instead of accepting war.



In reality, all the major worlds were now divided against themselves. It just happens that Coruscant housed the Senate, which was saddled with the unenviable task of defending a hated treaty from criticism. At the same time, many Corellian traders supported the anti-slavery cause, and forged close alliances with Empress Aneia Teta -- who soon became a leading figure in the wider region. No less important in creating the historiography of "abolitionist Corellia" was the role of the Jedi. It must not be forgotten that Master Gendraal had been a Corellian himself. He hailed from their particular tradition, and during his tenure as Grand Master, he had always tolerated (perhaps even encouraged) the Corellian way. That is: he welcomed the idea of Jedi who lived among the people, and immersed themselves in society rather than withdrawing into a life of contemplation.



This "rowdy" form of Jedi behaviour had always been frowned upon in certain circles. Particularly the elder Jedi of Tython felt ill at ease with such practices. When Gendraal dramatically left behind the Republic and the Order to -- in their words -- "become a rogue", they grasped this excuse to push their views through. It is not to say that they executed a coup, though. Indeed, their opportunity was given to them on a silver platter, because Gendraal's closest allies left with him. The rest of the more "Corellian" faction, as well as many independent groups within the Order, could now be brought to heel. Gendraal's impulsive departure had been very brave, but also displayed a clear... temperament. The Council on Tython used this as evidence that the Corellian way was ill-suited to foster neutrality and inner balance. To gain that, the way of Tython would have to become the norm. Jedi would have to let go of all worldly attachments.



This view gained currency within the Order at large. Some embraced it eagerly, some simply respected the leadership enough to accept its decrees, and some grudgingly went along with the majority in order to avoid conflict. Not so the Corellians. They protested, they opposed, and eventually, they more or less seceded. Under the leadership of the young Master Renasius, they organised a conclave for like-minded Jedi on their homeworld. As it turned out, the Corellian conclave was roughly the same size as that of Tython. The Order was cleanly cut in two. Certainly, Renasius did not intend to force a schism. Rather, he insisted upon autonomy for himself and his brethren. He was passionate and charismatic; a scion of a prominent house of merchants, he was also a friend to the Corellian elite. He represented the exact materialist ties that Tython had come to fear and despise.



Perhaps this is why they strongly censured his actions, declaring him to have committed doctrinal errors, and commanding him to report to them at once. This was very much the wrong response. Renasius had been too young to have gone with Gendraal. Had he been older, he certainly would have: he was a firebrand. The dismissive attitude of the Council led him only to declare their authority voided, and to ask the Corellian conclave to elect a new Council. He was probably quite certain that he'd be on that Council. Possibly even as its leader. But he did not expect them to instead repudiate the rule of councils altogether, and to acclaim him not as Grand Master... but as the First Lord of the Jedi.



The Corellian guilds, eager to back their ally, followed this by investing in him the authority of a Prince-Admiral. Tython was appalled. Coruscant was worried. Alderaan shrugged dismissively. But Empress Teta smiled. Here now was the man to start a war. The ambitious Aneia at once called upon Renasius to aid her in her border skirmishes against slavers. She requested that he send his most valiant Jedi Knights. Gendraal could be counted on to support that request: he was very happy to see someone like Renasius taking charge of a large section of the Order. Despite worrying about the implications of a schism, Gendraal saw it as a fait accompli. Thus, he threw his weight -- such as it was -- behind the man whose faction he hoped would win the contest of the future of the Jedi way. He publicly expressed his support for the First Lord, and deemed him "my true successor at the head of the Order''. This flattered Renasius more than a little. When both the hero of his childhood and the strong-willed Empress asked him for his support, he could do nothing other than give it to them.



The Corellian Jedi were naturally very friendly with the guildsmen of Corellia, and all too willing to accompany the trade ships to the world of Empress Teta. Once there, they were received with honours, and welcomed into the fold of the slave-liberators by Old Master Gendraal. Soon enough, a sizable cohort of the Jedi Order was openly involved in anti-slavery operations. Matters became worrying for the Republic. The Hutts shouted angrily about treaty violations. The Masters of Tython hemmed and hawed about the proper way to take down the upstart "Jedi Lord". (Alderaan, once more, shrugged dismissively.) but the Tetan-Corellian alliance held firmly. An axis of two forward-thinking worlds, as they saw themselves. They made sure not to cross too many lines. they did not wish to break the Republic apart. They wished to guide it into... an honourable conflict.



Empress Aneia, meanwhile, met with Renasius himself -- and promptly decided that the alliance between his world and hers could and ought to be of a more... personal nature. Indeed, she silently hoped for a future wherein the Republic would not only be led into a war it could win, but into a transformation. The post-war galactic order she imagined in her fondest dreams was an imperial one. And who better to occupy the throne than the heirs of the two greatest leaders in the galaxy? Besides, Renasius was a Jedi. If their children were to inherit his powers... such a dynasty could rule the stars forever.



For his part, Renasius was charmed by the Empress, and before long, they were married. To the Council of Tython, this was a realization of their worst fears. They understood acutely what the long-term plan was. When, a year later, a daughter was born, many of them feared that this child would grow up to become a great galactic tyrant who would stamp out their council and their doctrines and impose a new order upon all. That Reneia, as the child was named, would become a name as fearsome as Xim. Perhaps there are other worlds, in which this came to pass. But it is not our reality. The dreams of this particular triumph, and the nightmares of this particular terror, would not come true. For the war did approach, yet was not the anticipated war. Gendraal urged Renasius and Aneia to make haste, for he longed to see the Hutts confronted in his remaining days. But both of them knew that to best prepare for such a war, they had to build up their strength. Ideally, the Hutts should be goaded into starting the war. That would unite the Republic behind the cause.



For the time being, the Republic was going through a bout of severe political acrimony. As such, rather than intensifying their operations against the Hutt slavers, they reduced the scale of these. Best to wait a little longer. The Hutts, for their part, were equally wary. So, in those last years of watchful peace, Corellia and its allied worlds instead focused on their old passion: explorating the galaxy. The Empress Teta system became a launching point for many new ventures into the unknown. This provided ample job opportunities, staving off the socio-economic crisis that the monarch had long feared.



At the behest of the Corellian guildmasters, though, the Empress introduced a new set of laws… laws which made it difficult for small time operators to function. To join the exploration efforts, everyone had to sign up with the major guilds. That required fees, which not everybody could afford to pay. A pair of orphaned siblings, having inherited the small ship of their parents, thus became faced with a choice. They could sell the ship and sign up as guild novices... or they could ignore the law, take their rickety old craft, and set out into the unknown for themselves.



The Daragon twins, Gav and his sister Jori, were untrained Force sensitives of Tionese descent, with a family business in trading going back all the way to before the Xim wars. However, their proud family had been laid low by the recent warring. Already deeply in debt, they were wanted by local gangsters. Only saved from a severe beating -- or worse -- by the Jedi Knight Odann Urr, they then fled the system. Their only choice would be to try and seek a fortune in the unknown. Letting the Force guide them, they chose coordinates at random, and set off. They likely would have remained in ignominy, only known through a brief mention in Knight Urr's diary. Fate, however, had other plans. They reached the very edges of known space, and just as they began to despair, a comm signal came out of the dark. It spoke in a strange guttural tongue which the Daragons could not identify. Perhaps it was the Force, still, which caused them to follow it after having apparently led them to it. Perhaps it was the much more pressing dangers of the outside world and the need to pay off their outstanding debts. But follow it they did.



It led them to Korriban.
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12. The Death of Ragnos, the Arrival of the Daragons, and the Rise of Sadow

Earl

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Why face down the weak fools of the Jedi and Republic? Why grapple for things our forefathers threw away into the dust? I say that if you seek a true challenge, it is time to set into the unknown! Find a worthy challenge and seize glory where you find it! Our destiny is to push ever outward, not to tread old ground!"

— Lord Ludo Kressh before the Assembly of Darkness, making his case against Naga Sadow and his plans to strike at the Core Worlds


"The Sith are among the bravest people I've ever seen, in all the galaxy. They may be primitive and violent in certain ways, but they have achieved so much in such terrible conditions. And Lord Sadow is one of the most enlightened leaders I've ever met. He'll surely usher in a new age for the Sith. A golden age."

— Gav Daragon, writing about the Sith, as a guest of Naga Sadow


"These fools have only doomed their civilization. Endlessly weak, endlessly gullible. Soon enough, the Sith shall correct the historical error that is known as the Jedi Order. Our soldiers will crush Coruscant underfoot, and Sith Lords will rule all. The skulls of their weak senators will serve as our cups, and their children will pour the wine for us. It is our birthright, and we must claim it."

— Dark Lord Naga Sadow, as he prepared to conquer the Republic using the star maps that the Daragon twins had provided


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For five centuries, Marka Ragnos had ruled the Sith Empire as a god-king, expanding its borders across the unknown regions of the time, pushing beyond the traditional area of the galaxy that has historically become known as Sith Space. Guiding the ascendance of the Empire through each successive step, carefully steering it along the path he had mapped out, he was the architect of the entire civilization . Naturally, in true Sith fashion, this involved such actions as brutally crushing all dissent, and arranging for the timely demise of all potential rivals, often involving horrid experiments and wraiths of th Dark Side, that would go onto haunt the galaxy long into the future. The Golden Age of the Sith had dawned, and it had a powerful leader to harness its full potential. Continuity was guaranteed by the fact that Ragnos, after many experiments and rituals, was unnaturally long-lived. For centuries, he and only he was the Emperor. His subjects knew no other.

Perhaps that is why the eventual succession struggle was so fierce. (Although, it must be admitted, such conflicts have often been very violent under more normal circumstances, too.) The crux is that for all his talents, Ragnos still fell prey to the prideful arrogance that ensnares all the powerful Sith Lords. He simply had no intention of ever dying. Like those before and after him, he desired immortality. And like so many other mighty Sith, he was convinced that he would unravel the secret before death caught up to him. Like all those others, he was wrong.

The Dark Side's promise of physical immortality proved a lie in the end, and all his wrath and fury could not prevent his demise. Marka Ragnos died, and his essence fell into the darkness beyond. He left behind an empire at the height of its power, but divided to the bone. Different lords had very different ideas of how to proceed. Indeed, Ragnos had fostered this state of affairs on purpose. Again, in typical adherence to Sith dogma, he had simultaneously sponsored two rival Sith Lords. The two could not have been more different, and were in fact alike only in the boundless extent of their ambition. Ragnos truly believed that by pitter these two against each other, the worthiest would prevail, and would thereby become the Emperor's second in command. His executor, whose plan for the future would be adopted by the Emperor and thus carried out.

As it happened, Ragnos perished before the rivalry had been settled. Instead of clashing over a favored position, two mighty Sith Lords would now compete for the throne itself. Ludo Kressh and Naga Sadow would face each other, and only one of them would decide the future of the Sith.

The immediate aftermath of the Emperor's passing left all of Sith society in great uncertainty. For one, there were none alive who still remembered a time before the reign of Ragnos. The very idea of the throne being unoccupied was startling and terrifying. But moreover, although it was very clear who the two prime candidates for the succession were, very few people dared to express support for either one or the other. Sadow and Kressh, although they hated each other, had been working towards a great confrontation. They had never directly faced each other. Although both were immensely powerful, and had destroyed many lesser foes each, it was hard to judge how a battle between the two would end. This uncertainty was compounded by the fact that the two had very different skills and talents, to match their greatly differing personalities.

Naga Sadow was a dark sorcerer of unmatched talent, Ludo Kressh was a warrior of legendary prowess. The specific circumstances of a confrontation might easily lend the advantage to one or the other. Prognostication was near-impossible. As a result, the Sith were initially hesitant to choose sides. Instead of an immediate split, leading figures gradually fell into the orbit of one of the two rivals. This was motivated primarily by alignment of beliefs. Sadow was known for his desire to gather up the Empire's full might, and return to the galaxy's Core regions in a campaign of conquest. He was deeply attached to the fabled past, and saw such a war of vengeance as a fitting conclusion to the Sith's long exile. They would return, victorious, and take the Core's riches for themselves. They would slaughter the Jedi and have the satisfaction of an ancient blood-debt repaid in full.

Kressh, on the other hand, scoffed at the past, and wanted to carve out a new future. He sought to crown his many storied adventures by leading the Sith into the greatest adventure of all: a vast campaign into the Unknown Regions. There, he could find challenges none had faced before, and push out into a new frontier. Rather than going back, the Sith would go forth and innovate. After all, why had the Dark Acolytes of old abandoned the fight for Tython? Had it been so worthy, they would have stood and fought to the last. They did not. They branched out, and built an Empire already greater (to a Sith's judgement) than anything the Jedi ever produced. Kressh would seek to take that one step further.

Thus, the Sith were caught between two visions. That of the glorious return, and that of the bold leap. Sadow primarily had the support of both the priesthood and scholars, and of the mages and alchemists. Kressh was backed by the warriors, and the marcher lords who were eager to push the borders out into the black. None of these desired to waste all their effort on a vast civil war, though. Nearly all could grasp that this would weaken all the Sith. As before, they eagerly appealed to the holocron of Rajivari to give them a verdict. Seeing merit in both proposals, Rajivari proclaimed that in the Dark Valley of the Sith Lords, Sadow and Kressh would face each other in combat to determine who was worthiest. The ritual confrontation of the Kaggoth would be valid to all, and its outcome beyond dispute.

Before this clash, both stated their case before the Assembly of Darkness, so that the points of dispute between them were clear to all. The terms of the confrontation were thus set. Victory of one contender would mean victory of his vision for the Empire's future. By the ritual laws of the Kaggoth, all Sith would be bound to respect their new leader. Thus, further strife would be prevented. A contest of champions, rather than a civil war. Considering the nature of Sith society, such an invention was both a logical necessity, and a remarkably responsible approach.

According to sources written after the period (which should be approached with some skepticism, given the penchant for revisionism in Sith historiography), Rajivari was very concerned about the sheer level mania in Sadow's personality. Presumably, it reminded him rather too much of Ragnos's worse excesses. Sadow, too, had not shied away from experiments that pushed the boundaries. Whether his full sanity had survived the experience was doubtful. This would at least explain why Rajivari decreed the Kaggoth in particular: single combat of such a nature might well favor the more level headed Kressh.

Whatever the case may have been, his plan was thrown into disarray by what appeared to be a stunning twist of fate. As all the eyes of the Sith were focused on the field of battle, and the two contenders were just about to fight at last, a howling sound ripped through the air. Overhead, a small ship hurled through the atmosphere, and barely managed to survived a crash landing in the near-by plains. As the screeching of metal echoed and then fell silent, few Sith onlookers could escape the impression that this was a sign of some sort. A portent of destiny. This interruption threw the entire match into contest, and the two rivals each retreated to get a grip on the situation first.

To Sadow, anything that could change the terms of the impending engagement was welcome. A physical clash against Kressh, who was a far more able warrior (as opposed to Sadow's focus on alchemy and mental manipulation), was risky even though Sadow would be able to bring his refined Force techniques into the fray. When it became apparent, however, that the crashed ship hailed from the Core, Sadow knew that it was not just a potential advantage. It would be the factor that would help him gain supremacy and sidestep the Kaggoth altogether. The twin travellers, who identified themselves as Gav and Jori Daragon, were at once hailed by Sadow as the heralds of the Empire's great destiny. Clearly, the Sith had a task to return to the Galactic Core -- and here was the cosmic sign to prove it!

Kressh, for his part, insisted that the intruders were spies. Sadow, delighted, turned that around at once: if this Republic from which these twins hailed was powerful enough to send spies into the heart of the Sith Empire, then the Sith had a duty to confront that threat at once. Moving the rivalry with Kressh back into the political arena, Sadow was at once far more comfortable. His oratory was finely honed, and he capably played the attendant masses. Kressh, more a man of action than of words, called for the intruders to be executed, hoping to cut this whole development off before it got out of hand. Sadow would hear nothing of it, and ordered his own guards to take the newcomers away. Still disoriented from the crash, the Daragons were spirited away to Sadow's own city, well away from Kressh and his loyalists. Furious, Kressh now tried to convince the onlookers that the travelers were obviously weak and pitiful -- proving that the Republic was a foe unworthy of the Sith. If they were a sign, then it was a sign that the Sith should not waste energy on the Core regions at all.

This idea proved far less potent than Sadow's grand declaration of destiny and fated portents. At the very least, the notables of the Empire were convinced that the arrival of these strange explorers warranted further investigation. Kressh was savvy enough to understand that the Kaggoth favored him, and delays would favor Sadow. As a last-ditch effort to force a confrontation immediately, and sort out everything else later, he accused his opponent of cowardice. The Kaggoth was sacrosanct, and Sadow's withdrawal was tantamount to a concession.

"We ignore the omens at our peril," Sadow responded to this. "Before we take foolish decisions, we must gain insight into the true meaning of this. Only then can we have clarity of purpose." Naturally, Kressh did not except such an excuse. But he didn't have the eloquence of Sadow, who easily overcame Kressh's objections. "My opponent thinks only of his short-lived satisfaction on the battlefield," Sadow taunted. "I say we must think of the Empire. If he wishes to lead it, he must surely recognise this, too."

The crowd began to murmur in assent. Realizing that he would not win the day, Kressh retreated and began to make new plans. Sadow, meanwhile, welcomed the Daragons into his palace. It was soon clear to him that these naive newcomers knew absolutely nothing of the Sith, nor of the history of Tython and the Dark Acolytes. But they eagerly spoke to their "kind benefactor" about the Republic and the state of affairs in the Galactic Core regions. Knowing that these two would be perfect instruments to further his plans, Sadow gave them numerous luxuries and carefully prepared elaborate displays to show them a bright falsification of Sith society. He presented the Empire to them as a proud culture of valor and dignity, wisdom and unity.

As soon as he had the two convinced he was their friend, he invited other Sith Lords to meet with this "visitors from the Republic", these "ambassadors of a great future". These great magnates, many still undecided on who to back in the power struggle between Sadow and Kressh, listened to tales of the Republic's great wealth... and its internal divisions and political difficulties. Sadow feigned sympathy like an expert, of course. But in reality, the Lords of the Sith understood the message without him even having to spell it out. This Republic... this wealthy, prosperous state... was a prize ready to be taken by anyone bold enough to reach out and grab it. The Daragons, quickly taken in by these supposedly good people spoke of grand planets, a mighty planet-city, rich trade lanes and more. With barely any prompting, they provided the Sith with stellar maps to get to these places. Naturally, Sadow told them that his only goal was to help them return home, and to explore the Core himself. He ensured them that he would send them back to Empress Teta on a ship laden with wealth, and that they would become known as famous heroes and explorers.

The twins also boasted to the assembled Sith of the prowess of the Jedi, exaggerated through tall tale and the like, which certainly got the attention of their audience. Marka Ragnos had instilled in the Sith a thorough desire to always dominate, and to always seek a challenge. More than just ambition and power lust, Ragnos had codified it into dogma. And here, their ancient enemy was being presented as the destined opponent to overcome at last. How could they resist? Many Sith flocked to Sadow's side, and Kressh soon began losing supporters. After all, why head into the unknown, when there was a galaxy full of challenge and plunder to be had? Quickly realizing that Sadow would not have mercy on him, Kressh fled to a distant outpost near the outer edges of Sith space, to plot his return in due time. For the moment, the odds had turned against him.

Sadow was now free to turn his full attention to the potential represented by the Daragon twins. Purely as icons of his cause, they were useful. But they were also Force-sensitive, and he knew that if he swayed them to his cause, they would be far more useful still. As he asked them many questions about their life before arriving on Korriban, he quickly surmised that they had faced various hardships. Such things often leave anger and resentment in their wake, and that means there would be openings for him to exploit. The Dark Side could be trusted to ensnare anyone who had enough pent-up anger beneath the surface. As it was, Gav was more frustrated about the unfair ways in which he and his sister had been treated. Jori was instinctively more willing to let go of resentment. Therefore, Naga Sadow turned his attention to Gav. His first step was to separate the twins. He sent Jori off to look at various ships that might be modified to carry them home, and invited Gav on an excursion to the most ancient Sith temples.

Gav had certainly been the most taken in by the supposed glories and triumphs of the Sith Empire, which Sadow had proudly displayed and related to his two foreign guests. His potential with the Force, though untapped, was considerable. Keeping the twins separated, Sadow took Gav far afield, visiting the most important sites of the Sith. All the while, he subtly decried the "lamentable inaction" of the Jedi. After all, under their supposedly watchful eyes, people like the Daragons were oppressed. When Gav told him that a Jedi had acted to protect him and Jori, Sadow twisted that around: "They occasionally throw others a few scraps, on a whim. But do they change the state of affairs? No! They cavort with those who abuse you, don't they? The merchant-princes and their ilk."

Little did Gav know that the ancient hallways that he explored alongside his new mentor were positively filled with Dark Side energies, which naturally affected his state of mind. It made it much easier for his negative impulses to surface, and for kindness and mercy to retreat into the very recesses of his mind. Before too long, he found himself agreeing with his Sith benefactor. What had the Jedi ever done for him? What had the Republic ever done for him? Nothing. They had only ever seen him as a disposable worker, hadn't they? And that wasn't fair. He had just as much potential as any Jedi! The fact that he had never really sought to be a Jedi became less and less important in his mind. The idea that he had somehow been wronged, that something had been denied to him, became overpowering. It was such an easy, attractive idea...

The wise Naga Sadow was, of course, very different from the Jedi. He shared his knowledge. And not with just anyone. No, only with those worthy. Those like Gav. Those who were too powerful for the Jedi, which is why the Jedi never trained them. The Jedi were afraid of people like Gav, and that is why they kept them in the lower ranks of society. It was all a conspiracy! How had he been so blind, that he hadn't seen that? But thankfully, Lord Sadow had opened his eyes. Now he knew better. And he'd show all of them. The Republic was corrupt, and the Jedi were liars, but the Force had led him to the Sith. To Naga Sadow. And he would return to the Galactic Core -- not along, but with the Sith fleet. Together, they would sweep aside those false leaders, and bring the whole galaxy into the embrace of the Sith Empire!

While this manipulation of her brother's mind was taking place, Jori remained in Lord Sadow's city, and was unaware of these developments. She was certainly fascinated by the ships that the Sith possessed. These did not underperform, compared to those she knew back home. If the navigation data could be properly plotted into their systems, she was sure she could get back to the Core. What she didn't know, obviously, was that the Sith were carefully monitoring her progress. They, too, would gain access to the astrography that she was working on.

Since she remained in the confines of the city, Jori could closely observe the inner workings of Sith society. Even though Sadow had made sure to keep his agents in her presence at all times, and they did their best to hide the truth from her, it was still very evident that the Sith Empire was hardly the beacon of wisdom and civilization that Sadow had painted it to be. Slavery was ubiquitous. Brutality was the norm. Many of these things, Sadow and has against didn't even think to hide from her, because they were just so utterly normal to them. So as the days passed, Jori became aware of the ugly truth. The Sith Empire was monstrous and barbaric. She made sure not to say anything about this, not wanting to arouse suspicion. Quietly, she made up a plan of escape. Once her brother returned to the city, they would have to sneak out to the spacedocks and make their getaway.

When Gav and Sadow returned to the city, however, her brother was no longer the person who had left. He had somehow changed. When she confided her worries to him, he initially brushed them off. When pressed, he became nearly hostile. On the verge of panic, Jori retreated to her own quarters and tried to figure out a way to get herself and her brother out of Sadow's clutches. Gav, however, had already rushed over to his new lord and patron. He told Sadow everything, convinced that his sister was suffering from "indoctrination". Clearly, she had somehow been hoodwinked by the lies that she'd been told back home! (If, indeed, he even saw the Core as his home anymore.) Within the hour, Sadow's elite guards arrived to put Jori in custody. Sadow told Gav that he'd simply tell her the same "truths", but in reality he had quite different plans. His guards were instructed to kill Jori, and make it look like a suicide. Gav's bitter grief would easily be manipulated into hatred. Sadow would point that hatred at the Republic and the Core.

In this particular instance, Sadow did not get what he wanted. He had been convinced that Gav had been the more powerful of the Daragon twins. In reality, he had -- as the Sith so very often do -- mistaken kindness for weakness. Jori possessed more innate ability than her brother, but was less inclined to rely on it. When Sadow's minions attacked her, though, she lashed out with unexpected ferocity. Quickly fleeing the ruins of her quarters via the balcony, she hastily made her way to the spaceport. She barely had a plan. Certainly, she still intended to go back for Gav. But it would not come to that. Yet more guards pursued her, and upon getting to her ship, she had to take off at once. Interceptors were launched, and she soon came under fire. To get away, only hyperspace was available to her.


Vowing to return to save her twin, she fled the Korriban system. There had been no time for any pre-flight checks, her calculations for the hyperjump hadn't been completed yet, she wasn't even confident she'd gotten the ship up to spec, and she'd taken multiple directed hits. It's a miracle she escaped at all -- but escape she did.


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Earl

Comrade
Comrade
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And there we go, all of my pieces published. Whee... Hope anyone who happens across these enjoy! For the Record I have to thank @Skallagrim For all of this. WIthout his editing, spice and thoughtfulness this project would not be a reality at all.
 
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