- "If there's a dark center of the universe, this is it…"
- ―Luke Skywalker
Byss was a planet in the Deep Core, near the center of the galaxy, discovered no earlier than 45 BBY. A local day lasted 31 standard hours, and a local year lasted 207 local days. It was the endpoint of the Byss Run.
Byss itself was somewhat of a myth, seeming to be the perfect place to live. Its eerie blue-green glow, caused by its sun, also added to the strangeness of the world. Despite this outward appearance, however, Emperor Palpatine's dark-side energies were everywhere, corrupting not only the inhabitants, but the planet itself.
Byss was a mythic paradise world enshrouded in the dark side of the Force, located within the isolated and nearly inaccessible Deep Galactic Core. It was situated at the end of the Byss Run, a heavily guarded artificial hyperlane kept open by hundreds of non-mass S-thread boosters, connecting the planet to the Core Worlds. The planet was otherwise nearly impossible to reach safely through hyperspace, due to the high density of stars in the Deep Core and the constantly shifting patterns of the region's natural hyperlanes. Byss was the fifth planet of the Beshqek system and orbited the star Beshqek; it was one of two habitable planets in the system, the other being Relus. The planet was orbited by five moons, which had little influence on its tides.
Bathed in a blue-green sunlight, Byss was originally a lush and fertile world. A natural conduit of Force power, it invigorated practitioners of the dark side in a flood of Force energy. Byss was corrupted by dark energies after Emperor Palpatine made the world his personal retreat and began leeching Force energy from the immigrants he lured there. Over time, the planet was transformed into one of the most powerful nexuses of dark-side energy in the galaxy.
Byss was renowned throughout planets under the control of the Galactic Empire as a legendary world of serene, paradisaical natural beauty. The planet was dotted with chains of lakes and rivers where microscopic lifeforms dwelled, as well as wind-smoothed plateaus and canyons. Its isolation from much of the galaxy allowed for its natural islands and pre–Expansionist Era ruins to remain untouched for thousands of years. After its corruption, the planet's soil lost much of its natural quality and produced little more than ferns and lichens. No intelligent species ever evolved on Byss, and what wildlife there existed was largely nocturnal and harmless. Byss was also devoid of any rare elements or heavy metals. The planet's calm, balmy climate and mild seasons, ranging from clear to rainy, were primarily caused by its minuscule axial tilt and stable geologic foundation. Violent phenomena, such as storms and volcanism, were extremely rare. This led to the creation of a myth, fabricated by the Empire, concerning a beautiful and mystic siren world hidden from the galaxy at large, where blissful contentment awaited any who chose to apply for immigration to the planet.
Government and role
Politically, Byss was ruled by three major galactic powers. The planet was controlled by the Rakatan Infinite Empire for nearly five-thousand years before its collapse, and thousands of years later the planet came under the rule of the Galactic Empire, where it served as Emperor Palpatine's resort world. A towering citadel was built using non-Human slave labor at the heart of the ruling city, along with ornate buildings and resort complexes, and soon an entire continent, the Imperial control sector, was covered in city. The planet was ruled as a dark-side theocracy, led solely by Palpatine and his Dark Side Adepts. Byss became one of Palpatine's fortress worlds after the Empire's collapse at Endor, and served as the capital world of his reborn Empire. At this point, the planet became a rallying point for the remaining fragments of the Empire and the base of operations for Palpatine's reconquest of the galaxy. It also became the construction site of numerous Imperial superweapons, including the World Devastators, the Sovereign-class and Eclipse-class dreadnoughts, and the Galaxy Gun. After its destruction, the Imperial Remnant remained active in the Beshqek system and patrolled Byss's remains.
Under Imperial rule, Byss became one of the most reclusive and heavily guarded worlds in the galaxy. Most natural routes into the Deep Core were mined and the rest were covered by the Imperial Hyperspace Security Net—a system of gravity well projectors and hyperwave transceivers designed to monitor and control traffic into and out of the Deep Core. As a fortress world, Byss was guarded by a number of security forces and technologies, all of which were overseen by Byss Security itself. The Byss Security Zone, a restricted area of space around Byss, was guarded by a ring of Star Destroyers, while an entire sector fleet was additionally spread throughout the Beshqek system. A METOSP, or "Message To Spacers," was broadcast to all travelers entering the system as a warning against trespassing. Gargantuan Hunter-Killer probots were responsible for patrolling the skies above Byss, and were used as capture and detainment platforms for unauthorized ships. The planet itself was surrounded by a planetary shield controlled by Byss Security, and a system of Gauntlet Scanner Stations were used to monitor traffic around the planet.
The Gauntlet Scanner Stations comprised of many Golan III Space Defense NovaGuns orbiting Byss, where security personnel would coordinate space traffic with the scanner satellites spread over the planet. Officers stationed aboard these platforms typically oversaw the daily operation of the Byss Security Zone by monitoring IFF transponder codes, security codes, and other forms of authorization used to control traffic to and from the surface of Byss. If any traveler was found possessing forged documents, the Star Destroyers guarding Byss had authorization to use lethal force against them. The Gauntlet Scanner Stations additionally served as orbital defense platforms for Byss, boasting firepower equal to some capital ships, and also housed squadrons of TIE fighters and other defensive forces.
On the surface of Byss, surveillance and a heavy military presence was commonplace. Stormtroopers were stationed at every street corner, each landing pad was guarded by a TIE fighter, and undercover Imperial Security Bureau agents were present at most of the planet's public areas to watch out for any potential traitors. Additionally, shipyards, fighter bases, and military barracks large enough to hold an entire army were present all across the Imperial Control Sector. All of these complexes were camouflaged behind colorful plazas and public buildings, themselves armed with the latest defense turbolasers and shock fields.
Around 30,000 BBY during the Pre-Republic era, Byss was ruled by the space-faring Rakata. Using Force-based hyperdrives, they traveled to many worlds around the galaxy that possessed significant signatures in the Force, uniting them to form the Rakatan Infinite Empire. They constructed large temples on Byss.[source?] After five thousand years of galactic dominance, the Rakata retreated to their homeworld. Their temples collapsed into ruins overtaken by the jungle, leaving no clues for later settlers as to how or why they died out.[source?]
The surface of the world was dotted with "spectacular" ruins that were said to be pre–Expansionist Era. During the Galactic Empire's expansion into the Deep Core region, Palpatine selected Byss as his personal retreat and his secret throne world. Thousands of non-Human slaves were forced to labor in the "recolonization efforts" on Byss including the Utapauns and Gamorreans after the Clone Wars.
It was on Byss that a number of captured AgriCorps workers and Padawans were held captive under the supervision of Sly Moore, until the Emperor introduced them to Darth Vader. Vader killed all but four of them; these four he trained to be Inquisitors. One of the chosen, named Antinnis Tremayne, would eventually become a High Inquisitor. It was the site of the Sarlacc Project, where a Super Star Destroyer prototype was under creation before being destroyed by a group of freedom fighters and pirates under Bail Prestor Organa and Alya Aldrete. The Emperor drew certain peoples to the planet under the pretext that it was a paradise world. Among them were survivors of the Destruction of Alderaan, which he offered to resettle on Byss in a public speech delivered following the destruction of the world. Once they had settled into their new lives on the paradise world, the Emperor revealed his true plans for them. Such immigrants lived out their lives in elaborate pageants and amusements, which distracted them from what Palpatine was really doing: draining their life energies to power his abominable experiments. Eventually, Byss was entirely enveloped in the dark side of the Force. This was evident by the eerie blue-green sunlight that bathed the world in a strange glow.
Byss had orbital drydocks for World Devastators, Super Star Destroyers and, later, the Galaxy Gun. At the height of its power, the world was encircled by warships and battle stations for the Emperor's protection.
Byss was fanatically loyal to the Emperor even after his first death at the Battle of Endor. When the Emperor was reborn in a new clone body, Byss became the capital world of the Galactic Empire, which Palpatine planned on rebuilding into the beginnings of a universe-spanning magocracy. Byss was destroyed during a battle with the New Republic when R2-D2 rammed Eclipse II into the Galaxy Gun, causing the last projectile of the Galaxy Gun to misfire and aim toward the planet, destroying it.
With the destruction of Byss, millions of refuges from Relus fled to Prakith and beyond. The energies of the Deep Core erased the Byss Run and rendered the system unreachable, causing millions to be marooned.
In 14 ABY, Tavion Axmis absorbed the lingering dark-side energy from the remains of Byss during her campaign to resurrect Marka Ragnos. Rosh Penin was sent to investigate, but was seduced to the dark side by Tavion. Kyle Katarn and Jaden Korr later embarked on a mission to Byss to discover Penin's fate. The Raven's Claw was captured by a Dreadnaught-class cruiser among the planet's remains, though the Jedi ultimately escaped the clutches of the Imperial Remnant.
Behind the scenes
The first edition of Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races (1989) identified the homeworld of the Abyssin species as an Outer Rim world name Byss, which differed greatly from its Deep Core counterpart introduced three years later in Star Wars: Dark Empire. Galaxy Guide 4's second edition, published several years after Dark Empire, addressed the two worlds having the same name and specifically stated that the Abyssin homeworld and the Emperor's retreat were two distinct planets in different parts of the galaxy. Nevertheless, the ninety-third issue of The Official Star Wars Fact File later confused the two worlds, listing the Abyssin as a native species of the Deep Core Byss in its entry for the planet.
According to the Dark Empire Sourcebook, Byss is located in a binary star system and orbits a blue star with a blue dwarf companion, but according to Byss and the Deep Core and The Essential Atlas, Byss is located in a single-star system.
The board games Risk: Star Wars Clone Wars Edition and Risk: Star Wars Original Trilogy Edition mistakenly place Byss in the Core Worlds region.
Both the Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide and the Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption Expansion: Prima Official Game Guide indicate that Byss possesses no native fauna, while the Dark Empire Sourcebook mentions the existence of nocturnal wildlife.
Byss has also been inconsistently depicted visually through various sources. There are drastic differences in how the planet appears in The Official Star Wars Fact File 93, The Essential Atlas and how it appears in Empire at War and Edge of the Empire Core Rulebook.
Notes and references
- Dark Empire Sourcebook
- Dark Empire 4
- The Essential Guide to Planets and Moons
- Dark Empire Sourcebook, pp. 76-77
- The Essential Atlas, p. 49
- The Essential Atlas, p. 10
- Star Wars: Empire at War, Byss planetary profile
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Prima Official Game Guide
- Evasive Action: Recruitment
- Dark Empire 2
- The Essential Atlas, p. 116
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
- Dark Empire endnotes, part 2: The Power of the Dark Side
- Dark Empire Sourcebook, pp. 77-78
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 33 (EMP2, The Emperor's Royal Guard)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 7 (PLA6, Planets of the Core Worlds)
- Dark Empire Sourcebook, p. 65
- Dark Empire Sourcebook, pp. 74-75
- Star Wars: The Old Republic
- Jaws of the Sarlacc
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: Empire's End
- Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races, p. 6
- Galaxy Guide 4: Alien Races, Second Edition, p. 6
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 93 (BYS1, Byss)
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption Expansion: Prima Official Game Guide, p. 167