- "There will be bloodshed, and the skies over Korriban will burn. I'll profane your sacred ground and stop your children from ever existing. I bring war to you, my Emperor."
- ―Exal Kressh
In 3678 BBY during the Great Galactic War, the Battle over Korriban occurred in the Horuset system between the forces of the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. The engagement was catalyzed by the treason of the Sith apprentice Exal Kressh, who chose to betray the Empire because her former Master, the Sith Emperor, had secretly been trying to possess her body through dark sorcery and begin the formation of his "Children"—a group of sentients who were entirely beholden to the psychic will and powers of the Emperor. Hoping to use the Republic to exact revenge against the Emperor and end his plans to create more Children, Kressh leaked Imperial Military secrets pertaining to the defense of the Sith holy world of Korriban to the Jedi Order and Republic Navy. Eager to act upon the intelligence, Republic Military leaders approved an invasion of the Horuset system with the intention of destroying the Sith Academy on Korriban and seizing from the Empire its most historically valuable world.
The battle began after Exal Kressh infiltrated Korriban and sent word of her position to the Republic Navy, which swiftly jumped into the Horuset system and began taking advantage of the defending Imperial fleet's surprise and gaps in protection. While the battle raged in orbit, Republic landing teams consisting of Jedi and soldiers assaulted the Sith academy on the surface. Using the Republic's attack as a distraction, Kressh sneaked into the tombs adjacent to the Academy with the intent to find and destroy the Children of the Emperor who were being prepared for ritual possession. Although she nearly succeeded, Kressh was interrupted by the disgraced apprentice Teneb Kel, who had been tasked by the Empire's Dark Council to hunt down and kill the rogue Sith. After an intense lightsaber duel in Korriban's tombs, Kel executed Kressh and fulfilled his mandate to protect the Emperor's works. Without the treasonous Sith providing information from within the Academy, the Republic's assault quickly crumbled and the Empire once again secured its hold over Korriban with the Emperor's secrets safe once more.
- "The recording came a week ago—made it to command through an SIS middleman, same as the others. The fleet's already taking position."
"Too good an opportunity to pass up. Thank you, Commodore."
- ―A Republic Commodore and Jedi Master Jerbhen Hulis discuss Kressh's aid
The Great Galactic War that began in 3681 BBY was a long and bloody interstellar conflict that saw the forces of the Sith Empire repeatedly and efficiently overcome those of the Galactic Republic. Under the rule of the enigmatic Sith Emperor and the Lords of Dark Council, the Empire achieved many significant victories in the early years of the war and put the Republic and its Jedi warriors in a sustained position of unorganized defense. This pattern remained consistent until around 3678 BBY, when the Emperor's apprentice, Exal Kressh, discovered her Master's plan to create a legion of sleeper agents, all of whom would be made slaves to his dark side Force power and turned into mere extensions of his will. Known as the Children of the Emperor, these individuals were to have a powerful connection to the Dark Lord himself such that it would allow for him to transfer his essence into their bodies and directly control it for a time. In doing so, the Sith Emperor would be able to ensure his own immortality and omnipotence by continually inhabiting new bodies.
Shortly after this discovery, Kressh came to realize another grave truth: the Emperor was covertly turning her into the first of his Children before initiating the program on a mass scale through the use of Sith magic. Disgusted at the prospect of being a puppet instead of an apprentice, Kressh abandoned the Empire in 3678 BBY and began leaking confidential Imperial Military secrets to the Republic Strategic Information Service. Although the Jedi High Council was wary of trusting an alleged Sith defector, the state of the war preempted their ability to reject Kressh's help. Nonetheless, they assigned Jedi Master Jerbhen Hulis and his Padawan to track the woman down while the Republic Navy prepared to use her information. The data she provided was specifically regarding the defense forces guarding the reclaimed Sith holy world of Korriban in the Esstran sector, where new generations of Sith Lords were trained in the ancient academy on the surface. Also located deep within the academy was a ritual chamber being prepared by the Emperor to receive and create his new Children.
While Kressh waited for the Republic Navy to gather their forces and prepare for an assault on Korriban, she went into hiding to escape the Jedi tracking her and the Sith assassins she knew the Emperor would send. Because of her incomplete connection to her former Master, she was tormented by his thoughts and temptations and knew that he could see through her eyes and perceive her location; to diminish his presence, Kressh fled to the Lenico system, where she entered a stasis pod on Lenico Colony Blue. Although the tactic worked for a time, the rogue Sith was soon found by Teneb Kel, an ambitious but Master-less Sith apprentice who had been sent by the Dark Council to kill Kressh. After a short duel, Kressh escaped with her life and Kel was marooned on Lenico IV with his slave, Maggot, and the Jedi pursuers. There Kel discovered the Emperor's closely-guarded plans to create the Children before repairing his starship and continuing the hunt for Kressh. Meanwhile, the defector had traveled to Korriban and reached its surface undetected, allowing her to signal the amassed Republic fleet and ignite the battle for the Sith holy land.
The Republic returns to Korriban
- "...twelve Republic ships past the ion mine-field, and three transports are making planetfall. My Lord, we are under siege. Tell me you're here with reinforcements."
"I come alone. Resume your duties, Captain."
- ―An Imperial captain and Teneb Kel
Although Korriban's defense force had noticed the nearby buildup of enemy ships, the realization came too late to allow for the organization of a significant counterattack. Instead, a large Republic fleet consisting of at least two Valor-class cruisers and numerous Thranta-class corvettes jumped into the Horuset system and engaged the Empire's warships at four hundred and eighty-three light minutes away from Korriban itself. Although the Empire had many Harrower-class dreadnoughts and Terminus-class destroyers at its disposal, the Republic commodore overseeing the operation had utilized Kressh's information to take advantage of the Imperial Navy's rotation schedule for patrol vessels. The commodore also managed to get twelve of her ships past the Empire's ion mine field that surrounded Korriban, allowing for the release of several drop ships; these vessels carried Republic soldiers and Jedi Knights bound for the surface of the world, where they would attempt to seize the academy and rendezvouz with Kressh within.
The battle in the Horuset system raged as the Valor and Thranta cruisers engaged Harrower and Terminus destroyers at point-blank range. Meanwhile, squadrons of Republic Liberator-class starfighters and Imperial Mark VI Supremacy-class starfighters darted between the capital ships in explosive dogfights. Teneb Kel and Maggot arrived on scene in their Fury-class interceptor to witness the fierce combat, but had to refuse aid to the captain of the Imperial fleet; Kel's objective was on the surface and Kressh was already well on her way to achieving her own goal. Maggot deftly piloted the interceptor through the fray and out of range of the Valor cruiser's turbolasers but was unable to shake pursuit from three Liberator starfighters. As the Sith and his slave neared the planet, their vessel sustained a significant blast from one of the Liberators but maintained flight and survived the encounter after anti-aircraft emplacements on the surface took out the squadron of Republic ships.
After promising Maggot his eventual freedom and bidding his slave farewell, Kel leapt from his vessel as it careened over the Valley of the Dark Lords. At the bottom of the valley, Republic strike teams and Jedi Knights battled the Academy's Dark Honor Guard on the steps of the ancient institution, causing damage to the facade and distracting the Sith defenders from the true threat, Exal Kressh. Having realized that his quarry would be using the labyrinth of Sith tombs beneath the valley to access the Academy while the Guard was occupied, Kel set off to catch her before she reached the Emperor's Children.
Kressh and Kel in the tombs
- "You think sniffing out the truth makes you special? You think your rage makes you strong?"
"Maybe you are Sith—but you're still a failure."
- ―Exal Kressh and Teneb Kel in Korriban's tombs
In the maze of crypts beneath the valley, Kel discovered several dead k'lor'slugs and a recently murdered Sith defender. Before him stood Kressh, who was in the midst of executing a second Sith before continuing on to interrupt the Emperor's ritual and destroy his Children. The two engaged in a fierce duel wherein Kressh began to destroy the foundations of the tombs and academy while Kel desperately tried to defend himself and end the rogue Sith's threat. After revealing to his opponent that he too was aware of the Children of the Emperor, Kel enraged Kressh by demanding to know why she had abandoned her Master; admitting that her vendetta against the Empire was entirely personal, Kressh launched into a vicious assault against Kel and nearly succeeded in killing him. Her victory was prevented by the intervention of Maggot, who had disobeyed his master's orders and followed him into the crypts. The Abyssin slave shot at Kressh with explosive rounds from a blaster cannon, distracting the Sith so that Kel could strike her with a killing blow. Much to Maggot's misfortune, the plan backfired when Kel found himself unable to retaliate against Kressh, leaving her open to blast the slave intervener with arcs of Force lightning.
Turning her attention back to Kel, Kressh again loosed a volley of lightning. Although the young Sith assassin was able to catch some of the energy with his double-bladed lightsaber, the intensity of the electrical discharge was great enough to burn the gloves from his hands and disintegrate his weapon. Heavily wounded and very near death, Kel struggled to remain standing but fell vicim to Kressh's telekinetic powers. His opponent lifted him into the air and approached to end his life, but her attack was cut short when Kel used the Force to lift the lightsaber of a slain academy defender from the ground and plunge it into Kressh's back. The Sith traitor fell to the ground and admitted to hearing the Emperor's voice in her head once again as she died.
His mission complete, Kel collected Maggot and together the two began to journey back to the surface. However, upon realizing that his slave may have overheard Kressh's conversation regarding the Children of the Emperor, Kel decided that the secret was more important than the Abyssin's life. Kel sliced his companion in half and left the body in the tombs while he continued outward to rejoin the battle and report to the Dark Council. On the surface and in orbit, Republic forces quickly began losing ground and retreating—the loss of their ally and the failed attempt to destroy the academy had fully preempted the Republic's chances of victory. The drop teams in the Valley of the Dark Lords were quickly captured or killed and the decimated Republic fleet quickly fled the Horuset system to preserve its few remaining vessels.
- Marr: "...you slew the traitor, as you were commanded. Yet you failed to prevent the attack on Korriban."
- Kel: "It proved infeasible, my Lords."
- Vowrawn: "Indeed, and the results were not entirely displeasing. Still, you have been masterless for too long. We shall judge your future in the Empire."
- ―Darth Marr, Teneb Kel, and Darth Vowrawn discuss the aftermath of the Korriban attack[src]
The conclusion of the battle also signified the end of the galaxy-wide manhunt for Exal Kressh and the Republic's short-lived hopes of seizing one of the Empire's most valued worlds. The Republic forces captured at Korriban were quickly processed into Imperial slave labor pools and were forced to help in the rebuilding of the Sith's damaged academy. Teneb Kel meanwhile returned to the Empire's capital on Dromund Kaas to meet with the Dark Council and learn of his reward and fate. Although the members of the Council expected the young Sith to capitulate before them, Kel instead approached them with a newfound confidence and inner power born from his exposure to the Emperor's secrets. Instead of accepting a new Master and returning to the role of hungry apprentice, Kel stood before the Dark Lords of the Council and proclaimed that he would provide them with information on the Emperor's immortality and plans for his Children in return for further empowerment. The Council acquiesced, elevating Kel to the rank of Dark Lord and granting him the moniker of Darth Thanaton.
Although their losses were significant, the Sith's victory at Korriban ensured the security of that world for years to come, until the Jedi led yet another failed assault on the world in 3660 BBY. Kressh's defeat also marked the end of the known Kressh bloodline and motivated the Emperor to demand the erasure of the Kressh name from Imperial history. The order—which included the destruction of all monuments to the venerable Kressh family on Dromund Kaas—was so effective that knowledge of the Emperor's apprentice was almost nonexistent by 3643 BBY.
Behind the scenes
The Battle over Korriban was first seen in Star Wars lore via the 2010 webcomic series, Star Wars: The Old Republic, Blood of the Empire, written by Alexander Freed. The battle, depicted throughout most Act 3: Burn the Future, served as the climax of the series. In the issue the conflict is given no proper name, but considering that it is the second battle on Korriban during the Great Galactic War—the first being the Empire's reclamation of the world in 3681 BBY—this article refers to it as the "second battle of Korriban." Burn the Future was reprinted as a physical issue in December of 2010 as The Old Republic 6: Blood of the Empire, Part 3. The event and the rest of the Blood of the Empire comic series were created as a tie-in to LucasArts' and BioWare's online video game, Star Wars: The Old Republic. Although Kel is seen in the game itself as Darth Thanaton, Kressh and their duel are only mentioned; the battle on Korriban and the duel in the tombs are are referenced in the game's companion source book, Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia.
- The Old Republic, Blood of the Empire Act 3: Burn the Future (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia (First identified as Battle over Korriban)
Notes and references
- The Old Republic, Blood of the Empire Act 2: The Broken World
- 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 campaign occurred in concurrence with battle of Korriban.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia indicates that the next known battle in the chronology of the war is the Battle of Bomodon
- The Old Republic, Blood of the Empire Act 3: Burn the Future
- The Old Republic, Blood of the Empire Act 1: Shades of the Sith places the events of Blood of the Empire twenty-five years before the Treaty of Coruscant, which is signed in 3653 BBY according to Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia. This indicates that Blood of the Empire occurs in 3678 BBY.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "Children of the Emperor"
- The Old Republic, Blood of the Empire Act 1: Shades of the Sith
- The Essential Atlas
- Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side
- Star Wars: The Old Republic—Codex: "The Obliteration of Kressh"