- "We're not going to hold them off. We're going to push past them, and march to the black heart of our enemy! We fight for our homelands and for our freedom—may the Force be with us!"
- ―Satele Shan leads the charge on Rhen Var
The Battle of Rhen Var was a conflict between the reconstituted Sith Empire and Galactic Republic during the Great Galactic War, fought around 3653 BBY. The engagement was catalyzed by the Empire's invasion and seizure of the icy Outer Rim world of Rhen Var—an operation overseen by the Dark Council member and Dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Mekhis. Mekhis, a Sith scientist and alchemist, intended to use the world to test her new creations, and though she was initially successful in her endeavors, a Republic intervention force led by members of the Jedi Order arrived on the planet to challenge the Empire for control.
Commanded by Jedi Knight Satele Shan, the Republic defense group engaged the Imperial Army on Rhen Var and carved a path toward Darth Mekhis's command center. Although the ranks of the Republic Army suffered enormous losses in the battle, Shan and fellow Knights Syo Bakarn, Jaric Kaedan, and Bela Kiwiiks rallied their forces and continued their advance. After an extensive skirmish in the frosted forests of Rhen Var, Shan herself stormed Mekhis's compound and engaged the Dark Lord, grievously wounding the Sith during their duel and claiming victory for the Republic. The Republic's losses during the battle were immense, but the triumph on Rhen Var halted the Empire's advance and briefly turned the tide of the Great Galactic War.
- "The Emperor and his Dark Council had overreached. They began to strip worlds bare for energy, materials, slaves. They no longer conquered for the lust of conquest alone—they needed ever-greater resources to maintain what they had."
- ―Jedi Master Ngani Zho
The Battle of Rhen Var began around 3653 BBY, almost three decades after the Sith Empire's return to the galaxy and the initiation of the Great Galactic War. The war, waged between the resurgent Empire and the Galactic Republic, swept across star systems and saw numerous defeats for the ancient democracy as it attempted to slow the Sith advance. After significant military losses on battlefields including Korriban, the Minos Cluster, and Begeren, the Republic appeared to be heading toward total annihilation. However, after an improbable victory in the second battle at Bothawui, the defenders of the Republic and Jedi Order rallied to achieve a string of victories that halted the Imperial Military advance.
Meanwhile, the Sith Emperor and his Dark Council grew increasingly desperate for a swift end to the war which had already dragged on for over a decade. Around 3667 BBY, the Empire began an aggressive push toward the Core Worlds that included an invasion of Alderaan and the blockade of the Hydian Way, all while continuing the Outer Rim onslaught. Imperial efforts in the Core were met with great resistance, draining the Sith war chest and straining the Empire's military. Regardless, the Empire continued with its strategy and worked to bolster their stretched forces by capturing additional worlds in the Outer Rim to reap much-needed resources and slaves. As the war approached its third decade, Darth Mekhis, a member of the Dark Council and a practiced Sith scientist and alchemist, set her sights on Rhen Var in the Thanium Worlds of the Outer Rim Territories. She hoped to seize the world for the Empire and appropriate its resources for the Sith war machine, while also using it as a testing ground for her newly developed weapons.
- "These worlds, lush like fruit. Crushed in our hands, juice bleeding down our wrists—this is the Empire as it should be. We shall bring crystalline light to the worlds we lost, and to the Jedi who exiled us. Use my weapons well, Commander."
- ―Darth Mekhis
Darth Mekhis led her invasion force to the world and established her command post in a mountain fortress compound. While she oversaw the development of new weapons technology in the compound, her division of the Imperial Army was led in the field by a troop commander and Colonel Rymar Quinn, and was assigned to secure the planet for Mekhis's usage. Composed of assault droids, Imperial soldiers, and Sith Warriors, the invasion force was initially highly successful and managed to secure much of the planet's frozen landscape for their master's usage.
This dominance was challenged, however, by the arrival of the Republic's army under the leadership of four Jedi Knights—Syo Bakarn, Bela Kiwiiks, Jaric Kaedan, and Satele Shan, all of whom were former apprentices of the Jedi Master Ngani Zho. Shan led the Republic defenders in traversing the snowy landscape and engaging Sith forces. The Republic's Forty-fifth Battalion, marching alongside their Manka-class armored transports, served as a scout force for the Jedi and the main army. Bakarn, an experienced Jedi healer, worked to mend the wounds incurred by Republic soldiers, while Kiwiiks served as a tactical expert. Kaedan and Shan, both prodigal combatants, fought on the front lines against the forces of the Empire.
While the Forty-fifth Battalion was on a scouting mission in the forests of Rhen Var, the Empire attacked by dispersing weaponized poison gas. All of the scouts were killed or incapacitated before the Jedi and Republic reinforcements could reach them. While Bakarn attempted to ease the suffering of the dying scout Maxin Davers, Kiwiiks and Kaedan discussed the impending Imperial onslaught and whether or not they would be able to hold their position. Shan, having overheard their conversation, interjected to proclaim they would not only hold the position, but also push forward to gain ground and advance toward Darth Mekhis's fortress. In the ensuing clash between the Republic forces and the Empire's legions, the Jedi and their soldiers fought with numerous Imperial troops and Sith. Together, the four Jedi defeated their opponents and led their forces onward.
As the Republic forces began their siege of Darth Mekhis's stronghold, the Dark Lord received a communiqué from her commander in the field stating that a five-minute battlefield projection placed Imperial casualties at 600, but that Rhen Var remained in their control. Upon hearing the news, Mekhis activated her experimental chaosphere and necroswarm colony weapons and instructed the commander to use them to destroy their enemies. Although the battle appeared to be won for the Sith, Shan breached the compound and cut down all of Mekhis's defenders before reaching the Dark Lord's command center. Upon blasting through the barrier doors, Shan confronted and engaged Darth Mekhis in a duel. Shan ultimately prevailed, wounding Mekhis in the process and claiming victory for the Republic on Rhen Var. The Bane Brigade, an Imperial unit infamous for war crimes in the eyes of the Republic, was present at the Battle of Rhen Var and were largely defeated, though some members survived.
- "The Sith would have consumed the galaxy to fuel their death machine, had we not stopped them at Alderaan and Rhen Var. The memorial droids took three days to recite the names of the fallen—but the enemy's expansion had been halted."
- ―Ngani Zho
The Battle of Rhen Var proved to be one of the major engagements of the war and a turning point for the Republic. The success of the Rhen Var defense, like the earlier victory on Alderaan, caused morale to soar, and the Jedi and the Republic Military were able to beat back the Sith's forward push enough to obstruct the Empire's advance. However, victory on the icy world came at a high cost—it took three full days for memorial droids to recite all the names of the Republic casualties. Additionally, the failure of the Sith invasion forces only made the Emperor and his Dark Council even more desperate to end the war, which drove them to develop the battle plans for their ultimate offensive: the Sacking of Coruscant. The resultant Treaty of Coruscant ended the war, but placed the Empire as the conflict's clear winner.
Although Imperial Colonel Rymar Quinn was killed during the conflict, Darth Mekhis survived the battle and continued to serve on the Dark Council for many years. She was a key figure in the crafting of the Treaty of Coruscant, but maintained an intense hatred for the Jedi—particularly the opponent who had bested her on Rhen Var, Satele Shan. Shan, Bakarn, Kiwiiks, and Kaedan all continued their prolific careers as Jedi and were eventually elevated to the position of Jedi Master. By the later years of the Cold War, all four Jedi were serving on the Jedi High Council and were recognized as heroes of the Great Galactic War.
Behind the scenes
The Battle of Rhen Var was first introduced to Star Wars canon as part of the 2011 comic book story arc Star Wars: The Old Republic—The Lost Suns. The battle was first seen in The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 1 as part of a flashback to the Great Galactic War and was again referenced in both part 2 and part 5 of the same story arc. The Lost Suns was written by Alexander Freed, who introduced Syo Bakarn, Bela Kiwiiks, and Jaric Kaedan to canon via the Battle of Rhen Var; all three characters were used in major roles in the LucasArts/BioWare video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. The battle was again revisited in 2012's Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia, which introduced the participation of Colonel Rymar Quinn and reviewed the actions of Shan and Mekhis.
- The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 1 (First appearance) (In flashback(s))
- The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 2 (Indirect mention only)
- The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 5 (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Codex entry)
Notes and references
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural indicates that the Minos Cluster Campaign lasted for the entirety of the twenty-eight-year Great Galactic War, meaning that the invasion occurred in concurrence with the Battle of Rhen Var.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
- The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 1
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Mission: [Heroic] "Revenge of the Bane Brigade" on Hoth
- The Old Republic—The Lost Suns 2
- Timeline 6: Onslaught of the Sith Empire
- The Journal of Master Gnost-Dural
- The Old Republic, Blood of the Empire Act 1: Shades of the Sith
- Timeline 5: The Battle of Bothawui
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Satele Shan"
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Syo Bakarn"
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Jaric Kaedan"
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Bela Kiwiiks"