The war that had begun two years earlier had spread throughout the galaxy, with brutal battles taking place on Belsavis, Voss, Corellia, and Ilum. While the Republic and the Empire battled one another, they also had cause to join against mutual enemies, such as when Darth Malgus declared his "New Empire" and unleashed a stealth armada using Ilum's Adegan crystals, and the siege of the palace of Karagga the Unyielding, the Hutt Cartel's Supreme Mogul, on Nal Hutta.
After the death of Karagga, Toborro rose to power as the new Supreme Mogul of the Hutt Cartel, and sought to take advantage of the war between the Empire and the Republic in order to establish the Hutt Cartel as a dominant force in the galaxy. To achieve this, the Cartel seized control of the independent resource-rich world of Makeb, on the border between the Republic and Hutt Space. The seizure was aided by the Hutts purchasing the loyalty of the InterStellar Regulators, a mercenary army that had served as Makeb's defense force. While a handful opposed the Hutt takeover, the vast majority of the Regulators joined the Cartel's forces in claiming the planet.
Toborro's ultimate intention was to end the war between the Republic and the Empire and bring the galaxy under the dominance of the Hutt Cartel, harkening to the glory days of the ancient Hutt Empire. The key to the Hutts' plans for galactic conquest was a substance found only on Makeb known as "isotope-5", which possessed tremendous gravity-twisting properties. Even a small amount of this substance could serve as a near-unlimited power source, giving the Hutts a tremendous advantage.
The galaxy responds
The Hutt Cartel's power grab on Makeb raised alarms among leaders of the Republic. The Jedi High Council, after meditating on the matter, believed that the Hutts intended Makeb to be a staging ground for a greater war of conquest. Supreme Chancellor Leontyne Saresh personally travelled to Keylander Station in orbit of Makeb to oversee the deployment of Republic forces, calling upon heroes of the Republic and the Jedi Order to liberate Makeb from the Hutts' tyrannical rule and end the Cartel's ambitions. In return for Republic support, the people of Makeb - long independent from the conflicts that had engulfed the galaxy - were prepared to formally join the Republic.
The Empire also had a vested interest in the battle for Makeb, as their initial victories in the renewed war with the Republic had been overturned by Malgus' rebellion and by increasing infighting among the Sith. By the time of Makeb's conquest, the Empire was estimated to be on the brink of collapse, which would occur within the year barring a miraculous reversal of fortune. Learning of the Hutt conquest and the discovery of isotope-5, Dark Council member Darth Marr devised a plan where a handful of operatives, aided by an elite support team, would secure the Cartel's supplies of isotope-5 without arousing suspicion from either the Hutts or the Republic, whose forces on Makeb vastly outnumbered anything the Empire could bring to bear.
- Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Hutt Cartel (First appearance)