- "True victory in this war will not come through armies, but through the Brotherhood of Darkness. Our greatest weapon is the Force, and those individuals who have the power to command it."
- ―Kopecz, Dark Lord of the Sith
The First Battle of Ruusan occurred in 1002 BBY as one of the final battles of the New Sith Wars and the first engagement of the last campaign of the war. The battle commenced in orbit over the planet Ruusan, which the Galactic Republic used as a base to launch raids on the Sith-occupied planet Kashyyyk. When the Sith dropped out of hyperspace with a much smaller fleet of warships than that of the Republic, the latter was caught unawares by the former, and the Sith attack began.
Skere Kaan, Dark Lord of the Sith and de facto leader of the Brotherhood of Darkness, commanded the battle from his flagship, Nightfall, using the ancient art of Sith battle meditation. The initial sortie was devastating, delivering heavy casualties to the Republic's ranks. Tides turned, however, when a female Cerean Jedi Master, who was supporting the Republic fleet, employed her own battle meditation; this time it was the Sith who were confounded. When victory seemed to be sure for the Republic, the Sith Lord Kopecz infiltrated the capital ship where the Jedi Master was stationed. He killed her two Padawans, and then the Master herself. The resulting loss of the Jedi advantage wrenched any chance of victory from the Republic's grasp, and their remaining forces were then annihilated by the Sith fleet.
- "While troops vie for control of worlds and moons, the Jedi and Sith Masters seek to destroy each other. We are being driven toward an inevitable and final confrontation. The faction that survives, Sith or Jedi, will determine the fate of the galaxy for the next thousand years."
- ―Lord Kopecz
By the year 1000 BBY, the latest incarnation of the war between the Sith and the Galactic Republic crossed the expanse of the galaxy. Towards the final stages of the conflict, the armies of Dark Lord Skere Kaan's Brotherhood of Darkness had succeeded in taking the Republic stronghold of Kashyyyk. However, their forces continued to be whittled down by hit-and-run attacks by Republic forces. The source of these nuisances was discovered to be the Republic forces stationed on the planet Ruusan—a small world of no major significance save its strategic position. In addition to its offensive strikes, the Republic fleet was serving a defensive purpose; should Kaan manage to emerge victorious at Ruusan, the Sith would then have a direct path to Coruscant, the very seat of the Galactic Republic. Thus, Republic efforts were focused on maintaining dominance of Ruusan, to prevent Kaan and his Brotherhood from gaining a foothold which would allow them to attack the Republic capital.
Considering the number of Republic vessels in Ruusan's orbit, Kaan decided to lead the strike himself from his personal command ship, Nightfall, believing his own mastery of Sith abilities would be enough to confound the Republic forces. His plan was to rely on the element of surprise to smother the Republic fleet and minimize their ability to retaliate, while implementing his dark side-empowered battle meditation to undermine them while increasing the coordination of the Sith fleet. Forsaking a defensive strategy, Kaan was confident that an all-out offensive would crush the Republic and their Jedi reinforcements.
The Sith armada dropped out of hyperspace, and met the Republic fleet over Ruusan. In the initial rout, Nightfall destroyed the Republic battleship on picket duty, followed by a direct bombardment of the other two support ships, preventing them from offering any relief to the heavier and less-maneuverable Hammerhead-class capital ships that comprised the backbone of the Republic's defense. A conjunct attack by the Sith's Buzzard fighters crippled two of the Hammerheads themselves, effectively disabling their deflector shields. Three Dreadnaught cruisers followed up the attack on the two now-shieldless Hammerheads, while the Sith corsair battleships used their superior maneuverability to accost the other two in a maneuver known as "slashing the deck." The Republic was suffering swift and heavy casualties, and Kaan reveled in what seemed to be his eminent victory.
However, the Sith's advantage disappeared as quickly as it had manifested itself, in the Force presence of a Jedi Master commanding the Republic fleet, who intervened with her superior command of battle meditation. Immediately Kaan's forces fell into disarray. One of the corsairs, Fury, was destroyed by a sudden volley of coordinated weapons fire from the two Hammerheads it was attacking. Meanwhile, the Sith Dreadnaughts were surprised by four full squadrons of Aurek-class tactical fighters, launched from the cargo holds of the two Republic cruisers they were engaging.
The remaining Sith battleship, Rage, and the three flanking Dreadnaughts were forced to withdraw and regroup as the Republic seized the initiative. Kaan had lost the element of surprise, and found himself faced with an enemy that outnumbered him, outgunned him, and was further bolstered by battle meditation prowess that outclassed his own.
It was at this time that the Sith Lord Kopecz joined the battle, also aware of Kaan's diminished influence. He instead drew on the dark side of the Force himself, and fought his way through the Republic starfighter blockade to board their flagship in his personal interceptor. Killing the troops present in the hangar, Kopecz moved on foot through the ship with one goal in mind—that of finding and eliminating the source of the Republic's empowerment: the Jedi Master. Homing in on her through the Force, Kopecz encountered and defeated an elite security squad of soldiers, before confronting the two Selkath Padawans left to guard the unknown Master's domain. Kopecz proceeded to throttle one through the Force, and then dispatched the other with a barrage of Force lightning. Kopecz then entered the Jedi Master's chamber and found her—an elderly female Cerean, who made no appeal in her own defense nor any attempt to flee. He silently acknowledged her resolve as he cut her down, satisfied with having snuffed out the Republic's boost of morale. The tide of the melee turned yet again, with the balance tipping in favor of the Brotherhood of Darkness completely. Kaan's forces pressed the offensive once more, and all the defending Republic ships were subsequently lost, along with all the Republic troops aboard them. The first battle in the Ruusan campaign ended in hard-earned triumph for Kaan and his dark Brotherhood.
Despite being initially routed by the Republic, the Sith succeeded in eliminating all of the orbiting fleet. However, the presence of the Sith battleships, as well as Ruusan's strategic importance, made it a prime target for a Republic counterattack. After the battle, the wreckage of ships would both litter the space in orbit and begin to fall through the atmosphere, colliding with the surface of Ruusan—scenes that would be repeated during both the second and third battles on that same planet. Failure on the Republic's part to retake the planet resulted in Ruusan becoming the first location where the Jedi's Army of Light, led by General Hoth, would reveal themselves, and the following ground battles would wreak devastation across the face of the planet. The war would end on Ruusan during the seventh battle, when Kaan unleashed an ancient Sith weapon known as the thought bomb, the power of which annihilated nearly every Force-sensitive being on the planet.
Behind the scenes
The seven battles of Ruusan were conceived by author William C. Dietz for the third and final installment of his Dark Forces trilogy of novellas, Jedi Knight, though the first battle was not mentioned directly in the novella. In a vision to Jedi Knight Kyle Katarn, Jedi Master Tal and Lord Hoth discuss the Ruusan Campaign, mentioning that the Sith had won only two of the seven battles.
The battle was later expanded upon in depth by author Drew Karpyshyn, and appeared in his novel, Darth Bane: Path of Destruction. Karpyshyn used this battle to introduce readers for the last stretch of the New Sith Wars, known as the Ruusan Campaign. This battle lays the groundwork for what will eventually result in the devastation of the planet, the destruction of the current incarnation of the Sith Order, and the rise of Darth Bane.
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction (First appearance)
- Darth Bane: Path of Destruction audiobook
- Darth Bane: Rule of Two (Indirect mention only)
- Darth Bane: Rule of Two audiobook (Indirect mention only)
- Coruscani Dawn (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Cat and Mouse" (Mentioned in data screen)
- Dark Forces: Jedi Knight (Indirectly mentioned in flashback) (First mentioned)
- The Dark Side Sourcebook (Indirect mention only)
- "Heritage of the Sith" – Star Wars Insider 88
- The New Essential Chronology
- Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia (Under Kopecz)
- The Essential Guide to Warfare