Greetings, students, please make yourself comfortable - we’ve got a lot to cover. In the last course, we discussed the origins of the Sith, and now we’ll be covering their rise and various clashes with the Galactic Republic. Like previous courses in this series, there will be opportunities for further reading; though you will not be tested on them.
The origins of the Great Sith War - sometimes called the First Sith War or the Great Shadow Crusade - reach back to the Great Hyperspace War (covered in-depth in Galactic History III) and events shortly thereafter on the planet Onderon. The spirit of slain Dark Lord of the Sith Freedon Nadd had been a huge factor on the planet, corrupting the ruling monarchy and causing the Beast Wars that ravaged the planet for over four hundred years. The Jedi Master Arca Jeth had been assigned as the Jedi watchman for the planet, and as a test sent three apprentices - brothers Ulic and Cay Qel-Droma and Tott Doneeta - to assist the monarchy in ending the conflict; at this time, the Jedi did not know Nadd’s spirit had infected the rulers.
The apprentices were troubled to discover the extent the dark side held sway over the rulers of Onderon, specifically Queen Amanoa. With help from Arca Jeth, they were able to defeat the Queen and, after tracing the source of the dark side power to Freedon Nadd’s sarcophagus, decided to remove the dark side influence once and for all. Arca Jeth and his apprentices went to the husband of slain Queen Amanoa, King Ommin, for assistance. However, though King Ommin appeared senile, he was secretly imbued with Sith magic from Nadd’s spirit, and when the Jedi approached him he lashed out and captured Jeth. The Jedi apprentices retreated at the face of what had become a full-on revolt by the Naddists and called for assistance, a call that was answered by five Jedi volunteers led by a Knight named Nomi Sunrider.
After their arrival, they joined the embattled Jedi in an all-out attack against the Naddists but discovered many of their Force battle techniques were blocked by dark side energy. Sunrider was knocked unconscious attempting to battle the dark side blockage and one of the other Jedi on the relief team - a Knight named Kith Kark - was slain, but eventually the two groups of Jedi were able to link up and push onward into the palace. In a showdown with King Ommin, Ulic Qel-Droma slashed at the elderly monarch with his lightsaber, disarming and neutralizing him as a threat. With the immediate concern ended and Arca Jeth freed, the Jedi were able to move the sarcophagi of Freedon Nadd and Queen Amanoa to Dxun, where they hoped to entomb them so deeply they’d never trouble the world again.
While the Naddist Revolt was still ongoing, two aristocrats and heirs to the Empress Teta system - Satal and his cousin Aleema Keto - traveled to Onderon. Rich, bored, and spoiled, the two Ketos were dabblers in Sith magic who formed a group of similar aristocrats they called the Krath. The Ketos traveled to Onderon to consult with King Ommin on translating a Sith tome they had found, and he not only translated the tome but gave them numerous Sith artifacts from his own stores. After he left to deal with the Naddist Revolt, the spirit of Freedon Nadd reached out to the young Tetans and instructed them further in the dark side.
After leaving Onderon, Satal and Aleema traveled back to their home system and led a coup against the government. The coup was hardly bloodless, and Jedi Master Arca Jeth soon heard of it on Onderon. Gathering his apprentices and the other Jedi on the planet, they rendezvoused with the combined Republic and Jedi fleet that had been put together to end the threat. Nomi Sunrider and Ulic Qel-Droma (who at this point had become lovers) were tasked with commanding this fleet.
At the Battle of Koros Major, part of what historians would later call the Krath Holy Crusade, the Jedi-led Republic fleet squared off against the Krath led by the Ketos. The Krath fleet, using repeated Force illusions by Aleema Keto to confuse the Republic forces, were able to force the Jedi to retreat. This loss forced the Jedi leadership to recognize the severe threat posed by the Krath, and they called for a Jedi conclave on the planet Deneba to discuss their options.
The Krath learned of this meeting, and disguised a Krath ship as part of the Jedi fleet traveling to Deneba. During the course of the meeting, the Krath launched an attack on the conclave, launching war droids and turning the Jedi’s own servant droids against them. Though the Jedi put up a stiff resistance, numerous were either slain or injured in the fighting; one of the casualties was Arca Jeth, who died in his apprentice Ulic Qel-Droma’s arms. Ulic, furious, chose to continue a plan he had put forth earlier to infiltrate the Krath and bring them down from within.
Concurrently with the Deneba conclave, a young Jedi by the name of Exar Kun, who had been studying the teachings of the Sith against the wishes of his masters, had begun his fall to the dark side. In search of a Sith teacher, he traveled to Dxun. From there, he entered the tomb of Freedon Nadd, whose spirit spoke to Kun and revealed scrolls written by Naga Sadow. He traveled to Korriban to continue his search for Sith knowledge, where he was nearly killed when one of the tombs on the planet collapsed on him. Nadd saved him in exchange for a promise to serve the Sith, and with that Kun completed his fall.
Meanwhile, Ulic Qel-Droma infiltrated the Krath and, after surviving torture and poison at the hands of Satal Keto, was promoted to warlord of the Krath armies. His fellow Jedi, however, had not received any communication and feared he had fallen to the dark side. Nomi Sunrider, Ulic’s brother Cay, and Tott Doneeta rushed to his aid. Ulic had not fallen, and sent word to Sunrider that he had a plan to get them out of their dismal situation. The droid sent with this hidden message, however, was captured, and shortly the three Jedi sent to rescue Ulic found themselves under attack. In a fit of fury, Ulic dueled Satal, striking him down and unleashing a blast of dark side energy upon his three friends when they attempted to convince him to come back with them.
After being saved on Korriban, Exar Kun continued on to the jungle moon of Yavin IV still searching for deeper Sith knowledge. Unable to see the power of the light side and refusing to fully accept the power of the dark, Kun was easily captured by the Massassi warriors who inhabited the planet and was to be sacrificed to an ancient creation of Naga Sadow. Heeding Nadd’s spirit one last time, he embraced the power of the dark side and slaughtered the creature and his captors. Next, he banished Freedon Nadd’s spirit once and for all. Not content with the moon of Yavin - which he quickly turned into his fortress world - Kun set out to Cinnagar, the capital of the Krath, to confront the growing dark side power he felt coming from Aleema Keto and Ulic Qel-Droma.
After they had regrouped from being rebuffed by Ulic, Nomi Sunrider and the Jedi realized Ulic truly had fallen the dark side; his feelings of guilt over the death of his Master, Arca Jeth, were too strong. Realizing their mission a failure, Sunrider ordered the Jedi to retreat. Their retreat was followed by the arrival of Exar Kun and his forces. Attacking quickly, he knocked Aleema Keto unconscious before engaging Ulic in a duel. The duel was heated, with neither able to best the other, but it was halted by the spirits of numerous Dark Lords of the Sith gathered to observe. One in particular, the spirit of Marka Ragnos, spoke to the duelists and told them that together they would usher in a Golden Age of the Sith; Kun was tapped as the next Dark Lord of the Sith, Ulic his foremost apprentice. Together, they pledged to destroy the Republic and the Jedi with it.
* Empress Teta
The newly-minted Sith Lords moved quickly to enact their plans by solidifying control of the Empress Teta system. Their first attempt - a superweapon called the Dark Reaper, powered by a device called a Force Harvester which consumed the Force energy of those in its crosshairs before unleashing that energy - was ultimately foiled by Nomi Sunrider. They were still able to use the distraction the Dark Reaper caused to ally themselves with the Hutts.
An alliance with the Hutts, however, was not enough for the Golden Age of the Sith Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma envisioned; instead, they needed converts. Therefore, Kun traveled to the Jedi world of Ossus and began preaching to large groups of Jedi that their Masters had failed them to keep them weak. Many Jedi had become disillusioned with the Order following the Battle of Deneba, where many had been slain, and Kun was a very persuasive speaker. These two factors allowed the Dark Lord of the Sith’s message to resonate, and several Knights pledged to follow him. Exar Kun also used his trip to Ossus to murder famed Jedi Master Odan-Urr and take possession of the Sith holocron the elderly Jedi had retrieved years prior in the Great Hyperspace War. He would use the destruction of this holocron to unleash the spirits of long-dead Sith Lords on Yavin IV, which promptly possessed the bodies of the Jedi who had followed Kun, sealing their fall to the dark side.
While Exar Kun filled out the ranks of what became known as the Brotherhood of the Sith, Ulic Qel-Droma did not sit idle. Mandalore the Indomitable, leader of the Mandalorian Crusaders, had led several raids into the Empress Teta system, much to the annoyance of the Krath. Ulic challenged the Mandalorian to a duel to decide what would happen to the Tetan worlds. When Ulic won the fight, Mandalore the Indomitable swore an oath of allegiance to the Sith, and the fierce Mandalorian warriors began to fight for the forces of the dark side.
With the Mandalorians behind him, Ulic led his Krath forces against the Republic-held planet Foerost, which contained a prominent shipyard. The Battle of Foerost was a decisive battle both on the ground and in space for the Krath, who not only claimed the planet but captured three hundred ships to add to their fleet. After a feint to draw the Republic forces away from their capital, Ulic and the combined Krath and Mandalorian forces began their assault on a lightly defended Coruscant.
Republic forces - with strong backing from the Jedi - were able to put up a stiff defense. Temporarily distracted from his position leading the fight, Ulic was betrayed by Aleema Keto, who told Mandalore to withdraw his troops. Ulic, now fighting alone, was cornered by a group of Jedi led by famed Master Vodo-Siosk Baas and was captured. After pleading guilty at the Inquisition, he was sentenced to death.
Mandalore, after his retreat, learned of Aleema’s treachery and traveled to Yavin IV to consult with Exar Kun. Kun, though he had told Ulic he was on his own, agreed with Mandalore’s request and thus a force of Mandalorians and Massassi warriors, with the Dark Lord of the Sith at their head, returned to Coruscant to save Ulic. The combined Sith forces entered the Republic Senate chambers just in time to hear Ulic’s death sentence. Vodo-Siosk Baas, Kun’s former Master, dueled the Sith Lord but was defeated; the two Sith and their forces departed the Republic capital.
Concurrently with his trek to Coruscant, Exar Kun ordered the Sith to strike out and assassinate their Masters. Across the galaxy, members of the Brotherhood were very successful, with scores of Jedi slain. This, combined with the attack at the heart of the Republic, put many across the galaxy into crisis.
Building on their successes, the Sith set their sights on an important Republic hyperspace jump-station at Kemplex IX. Aleema Keto was placed in charge of the Krath fleet, which she led from a recently-unearthed Sith starship once belonging to Naga Sadow. The warship had a powerful weapon on board that would rip the cores out of stars, causing them to go supernova. The Krath battle fleet was nigh-unstoppable, but the Jedi still sent three of its Knights at the head of a fleet. When they approached the Krath, Aleema opened fire on a nearby star. Unbeknownst to her, however, the Sith Lords had reconfigured the ancient weapon to not only remove the core from the star it targeted, but to set off a chain reaction that destroyed huge swaths of space around it. At the last moment before her death - and that of everything in both fleets - Keto realized this was the punishment for her treachery.
The real target of the attack on Kemplex IX was Ossus, which, due to its close proximity to the chain reaction caused by the ancient Sith weapon, had to be evacuated. Seizing the opportunity to capture numerous Jedi and Sith artifacts, Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma invaded the planet. While Mandalorian and Sith forces invaded the Great Jedi Library and other important buildings, the Sith Lords split up in search of their own targets. Kun’s - the ancient Jedi Master Ood Bnar, known to have in his possession numerous Jedi treasures - managed to outsmart the Sith by using the Force to metamorph into a tree, thus securing his cache for thousands of years.
Ulic’s, however, was more personal. While monitoring the battle from his starship, his brother Cay approached and attempted to redeem his brother. Furious, Ulic shot down his brother’s ship and followed him to the surface of Ossus, where they dueled. Giving in to his anger, Ulic used his lightsaber to slay his brother. Nomi Sunrider, his former lover, was overcome with grief and anger and gave in to the dark side herself, lashing out at Ulic and severing his connection to the Force. Finally realizing what he had done, Ulic repented and, in an effort to find forgiveness, offered to help the Jedi defeat Exar Kun.
With his assistance, the Jedi launched a massive attack on the jungle moon of Yavin IV. Tipped off by the incredible combined strength of the presence he could feel in the Force, the Dark Lord of the Sith knew he could not escape alive and gathered his Massassi warriors around him. In one final ceremony, he reached out to the dark side of the Force and drained the life energy of all around him. With this energy, he was able to separate himself from his physical body and live forever as a Force spirit. The attacking Jedi, however, did not know about Kun’s final act, and went forth with their plan. The assembled Jedi launched a massive wall of light side energy at the various Sith temples. When the wall of energy inevitably struck itself as it rolled over the planet, it caused a massive firestorm, burning everything to cinders as the Jedi watched aghast.
Though it was a pyrrhic victory, the Jedi and Republic put a stop to the Sith and Mandalorians, with what few dark side forces remaining disappearing underground. The Great Sith War, though at a heinous cost, was won for the Republic.
Unfortunately for the Republic, this was not the final war fought between the Sith and Republic - far from it. For now, the Republic thought they had peace. As for you, dear student, good luck on your examination.
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