- "But Bentado's fleet must have already left by then!"
"And there was no recalling the headstrong fool. We knew that his invaders would give the Alanciari the fight they'd been waiting for—a fight they would probably win. So we used that. He and his ships and his people looked like the face of evil. We had to look like something else..."
- ―Edell Vrai and Grand Lord Hilts discussing the invasion
In 2975 BBY, the Sith Tribe on Keshtah invaded the continent of Alanciar, also known as Keshtah Major, and successfully conquered the Keshiri population there, who were known as the Alanciari. The conquest of Alanciar had been one of the goals of Grand Lord Varner Hilts who had ushered in the Hilts Restoration in 3000 BBY. The Tribe managed to find a way to cross the ocean after the High Lord Edell Vrai managed to develop a fleet of airships, which were held aloft by gas-filled bags and propelled by tethered beasts known as uvaks. The invasion was preceded by a reconnaissance mission led by Vrai, which had sustained heavy losses at the hands of the Alanciari.
Unknown to the Tribe, the Alanciari were prepared for the Sith since the Keshiri Herald Adari Vaal had managed to escape Keshtah and warn the Alanciari of the threat posed by the Sith. Thus, the Alanciari developed a militaristic society based on resisting any invasion. Despite these losses and the poor intelligence available on the Alanciari, Vrai's rival High Lord Korsin Bentado chose not to await Vrai's return from the continent and instead led the Ebon Fleet on a full-scale invasion. The Ebon Fleet was a fleet of sixty military airships. As before, the Alanciari destroyed the intruders with their ballistae. However, Bentado and several Sith survivors managed to regroup and infiltrate the Alanciari capital of Sus'mintri where they slew the entire War Cabinet, Alanciar's military government. This deprived the Alanciari military of their centralized military command and enabled the Sith to control the capital's main signal station. The Alanciari were unaware about this development.
Bentado then rebelled against his liege Grand Lord Hilts and attempted to use the Alanciari ballistae to shoot down Hilts' airship so that he could create a "Second Tribe" on Alanciar. However, he was stopped by Vrai, Quarra, and his own Keshiri assistant Squab, who was actually an agent of Hilts. Squab personally executed Bentado while Vrai took control of Bentado's followers and the signal stations. Ultimately, the Sith were able to conquer Alanciar with minimal resistance after Hilts managed to manipulate the Alanciari man Jogan Halder into convincing his people that the Sith were not a threat but were in fact the benevolent Protectors, legendary deities in Keshiri religion. He also claimed that the Sith had wiped out the Destructors of whom Vaal had warned years before. As a result, the Alanciari peacefully submitted to Sith rule.
History[edit | edit source]
Background[edit | edit source]
- "It'll be the biggest thing our society's ever undertaken. We'll never be able to do it if we act like we have bee. We'll need everybody. Everybody. It will require order, and discipline. As in the days of old"
- ―Varner Hilts
The Sith Tribe on Kesh were the descendants of a group of offworld Human Sith who had become stranded during the Great Hyperspace War in 5000 BBY. Under the leadership of the first Grand Lord Yaru Korsin, the Sith conquered the Keshiri living on the continent of Keshtah Minor by claiming to be the Protectors, ancient gods in Keshiri mythology. While the Keshiri woman Adari Vaal had initially collaborated with the Sith since it provided her with the opportunity to improve her social standing, she came to oppose the Sith offworlders following the mass poisoning of Keshiri villages during the Red Sith Purge in 4985 BBY and the way that the Sith exploited her people as slave labor. In 4975 BBY, Adari Vaal led an unsuccessful uprising on Keshtah which coincided with an unsuccessful coup d'etat against Grand Lord Korsin by his estranged wife Seelah and her son Jariad.
Adari Vaal's uprising failed after her son Tona Vaal betrayed the Keshiri resistance by leaking news of the planned uprising to Nida Korsin, the daughter of Yaru and his successor to the Grand Lordship. Vaal and a thousand of her followers fled across the turbulent western sea to a new continent known as Alanciar. By the end of the journey, only Vaal and three hundred of a her followers had survived and landed on a remote offshore island. Eventually, Adari and her followers made contact with the Keshiri living on Alanciar. Vaal succeeded in warning the Keshiri living in Alanciar about the threat posed by the Sith Tribe. She became a revered figure in Alanciari civilization and was known as the "Rock of Kesh" and the Herald. While she later passed away, Vaal's memory and legacy was preserved in a historical tome known as the Keshtah Chronicles and Observance Day, a holiday held every ten years where passion plays focusing on the threat of the Sith were staged in many Alanciari cities, towns, and villages. Thus, successive generations of Alanciari were indoctrinated to regard the Sith as a threat to their freedom and way of life.
Over the next two millennia, the Alanciari developed a highly-militaristic society over the past. The Alanciari were led by a centralized military government known as the War Cabinet. They also developed an intricate network of semaphore signal stations, large anti-aircraft ballista capable of downing enemy aircraft, and a large industrial base. In addition, the Alanciari made use of Force-sensitive individuals as thoughtcriers, who were capable of sending messages through the Force. Most importantly, the Alanciari developed a large and well-equipped citizen army that was based on conscription. Galactic Basic Standard also replaced the Keshiri language as the main language of the Alanciari. Adari Vaal wanted the Alanciari to know the language of the Sith in order to prepare them for contact with the offworlders. Thus, the Alanciari were very well-placed to repel any Sith invasion of their homeland.
Meanwhile, the Sith Tribe continued to rule Keshtah Minor. While they still had aspirations of returning to the stars, many had resigned to the fact that Kesh was now their new homeland. Following the Night of the Upside-Down Meteor in 3960 BBY which killed the reigning Grand Lord Lillia Venn, the Tribe descended into nine-hundred-and-sixty-years of civil warfare known as "the Time of the Rot" which devastated Keshtah. In 3000 BBY, the Caretaker Varner Hilts succeeded in ending the Time of the Rot after he discovered a map at the Kesh Sith Temple which confirmed the existence of another continent beyond Keshtah Minor. Hilts succeeded in reuniting his divided people by making the goal of reaching "Keshtah Major" an important part of the Tribe's agenda. Under the leadership of his chief engineer High Lord Edell Vrai, the Tribe experimented with developing a reliable and safe means of reaching Alanciar. Following twenty-five years of failed experiments with long-distance uvak flights and watercraft, Vrai managed to develop airships that were held aloft by gasbags powered by hydrogen and propelled by uvaks, winged reptiles native to Kesh.
First Contact[edit | edit source]
- "We prepared for you."
"Prepared for us? How do you even know of us?"
- ―Quarra Thayn and Edell Vrai's first meeting
In 2975 BBY, Edell Vrai obtained permission from Grand Lord Hilts to lead an overflight reconnaissance of "Keshtah Major." His plan was to fly eastwards across Keshtah Major and then return by crossing the small ocean to the west coast of his home continent. This reconnaissance mission consisted of three airships: the Candra, the Lillia, and the Dann Itra. Vrai's expeditionary force succeeded in reaching Alanciar's Garrow's Neck peninsula one night but was spotted by two Alanciari stationed at Point Defiance, one of the six signal stations in the Six Claws, a series of six peninsulas which jutted out into the eastern ocean facing Keshtah Minor. These Alanciari individuals turned out to be the signals officer Jogan Halder and his secret lover Quarra Thayn, the wardmaster and chief military administrator of Uhrar. Halder was having an affair with Thayn, who was already married to Brue Thayn and had three children.
Halder transmitted a signal across Alanciar's semaphore system while the Force-sensitive Thayn used mental telepathy to alert the other thoughtcriers. As a result, Alanciar's military defenses were aroused within minutes and the continent was quickly mobilized. Force-sensitive Alanciari gunners used ballistae at the nearby Point Vigilance to fire large projectiles at the Sith airships, downing two within minutes. Vrai's flagship Candra was attacked by three uvak diamond-flak riders from the Alanciari air force. Vrai along with five other Sith personnel, which included a Keshiri translator Tellpah, were the only known survivors from the wrecked Candra. They managed to evade their Alanciari pursuers and seize the signal station at Point Defiance. They captured Thayn and Halder, the latter of whom had been wounded by an uvak which had been tethered to the Candra. One Sith Saber was wounded by Quarra's hand-ballista and later succumbed to his injuries.
The Sith also managed to seize some documents from Halder's private library at Point Defiance which included a copy of Adari Vaal's Keshtah Chronicles. This provided the Sith with much needed intelligence about what the Alanciari knew about them. After evacuating Point Defiance, the Sith managed to capture the Alanciari harvester Mischance, which had been fishing that night in the Western Sea. The crew fought to the death and the Sith were unable to extract intelligence from the lone survivor who was tortured to death by his Sith interrogator Peppin. Prior to the downing of the Candra, the ship's thoughtcrier Taymor had succeeded in sending a signal to the Tribe's leadership in Keshtah's capital Tahv which indicated that the Sith had successfully made contact with Alanciar. She also warned the Tribe's thoughtcriers had encountered trouble.
Back in Keshtah, Grand Lord Hilts and his wife Iliana Hilts received Taymor's telepathic message. Despite the poor intelligence available on the military capabilities of the Keshiri on Keshtah Major, the High Lord Korsin Bentado advocated invading the continent with his fleet of sixty airships known as the Ebon Fleet. However, Hilts and Iliana wanted to wait until Edell returned since Iliana's thoughtcriers had sensed that some sort of harm may have befallen Vrai and his followers. When Iliana speculated that Edell and his airships may have crashed into the Southern Ocean, Hilts replied that he was still alive since he would have sensed his death. Despite his superiors' objections, Lord Bentado was persistent and Hilts reluctantly gave in to his demands and allowed Bentado to make preparations to invade Keshtah Major. In private, Hilts and his wife regarded Lord Bentado as a hot-headed fool who was sending his forces to a watery death. However, they were willing to sacrifice Bentado and his men since that would eliminate a potential rival.
Behind Enemy Lines[edit | edit source]
- "There might be a way I can hide who you are. But I'll only do it on one condition—"
"You're not in a position to negotiate—"
"on the condition that you untie Jogan from that mast. There are bunks in the cabin. Let him lie down. You keep knocking him around, you're going to kill him."
"I can be reasonable. Move him."
- ―Quarra negotiating with Edell
Following the capture of the harvester Mischance, Edell's uvak-tenderer and pilot Peppin managed to figure out how to operate the ship's sails and steerage. Both knew that the Tribe would be interested in the Alanciari sailing vessel and Jogan Halder, along with his collection of books which included the invaluable Keshtah Chronicles. Edell then made up new orders ordering himself to embark on a ground reconnaissance mission of Alanciar. For this he needed a local guide: Quarra Thayn. Edell managed to acquire Quarra's cooperation in exchange for attending to the wounds of her lover Tahyn. Edell agreed but stated that they had to return by two weeks or she would never see her lover again. While Quarra appeared to collaborate with the invaders, she secretly intended to scare the Sith "back to where they came from." After dropping Vrai and Thayn at Meori Cove, a small cove to the southeast of Point Defiance, the Mischance returned to Keshtah Minor.
As a result of the Sith incursion at Point Defiance, Alanciari society was immediately placed on a war footing. The Alanciari prepared their military forces and ballistae units to repel another Sith attack. Across Alanciar's cities, military reservists were called up for duty while civilians and dependents were evacuated to war shelters. From its headquarters at Vaal Hall in the capital city of Sus'mintri, the War Cabinet ordered the deployment of military forces to the western regions while troops scoured the peninsulas for any trace of the attackers. That year, the Sith incursion also coincided with Observance Day, a patriotic holiday held every ten years which commemorated the memory of Adari Vaal and reminded the population of the threat posed by the Lost Tribe. Since Vrai's mission coincided with Observance Day, anti-Sith and anti-Human sentiment reached fever pitch level among the Alanciari population.
After four days of traveling, Edell Vrai and Quarra Thayn reached the town of Kerebba disguised as performers for that year's Observance Day. While Thayn was used to the patriotic message of the play since childhood, Edell, who reluctantly pretended to be a Sith reveler in the crowd, was angered by the anti-Sith undertones of the festival. Following the play, the pair slept in a dry culvert near the Kerebba canal station. That night, Quarra experienced a Force vision where she encountered the former Sith woman Orielle Kitai and her Jedi husband Jelph Marrian who gave her encouragement. Orielle compared her former life as a high-ranking member of the Sith tribe to Quarra's station in the Alanciar military. She also warned Quarra of the dangers of "living within a dream." During their time together, Edell and Quarra developed a reluctant friendship. Edell learnt about Quarra's family life and her affair with Jogan. They also discussed cultural differences between the Keshiri on Keshtah Minor and Alanciar; with the latter being more suited to building practical implements like aqueducts than the former.
The Failed Invasion[edit | edit source]
- "Grand Lord, most of the airships are ready. My crews are staffed and waiting. You agreed, if he found anything at all, it was worth conquering with a full force! We await your command to strike."
"You said that. He's not telling you the rest, Grand Lord. My people were listening, too. Only one clear message arrived. But there were other emotions sensed later. Surprise. Shock. Confusion. And then, nothing."
- ―Korsin Bentado and Iliana Hilts debate invading Alanciar
That afternoon, Edell and Quarra reached the Western Shield and Sus'mintri was only about two days away by walking distance. At that point, Bentado's Ebon Fleet led by his flagship the Yaru arrived above the countryside. The Ebon Fleet contained a total of sixty airships with each vessel being larger than Edell's nimble scout vessels. These black-colored airships had fearsome designs painted across their gondolas, which were made from heavy vosso wood frames. To provide a fearsome appearance, each of these airships had spears in front of the gondola. Due to the highly-organized Alanciari communications networks of semaphore machines and thoughtcriers, the Alanciari military was able to respond quickly to the Sith invaders. Within minutes, several mobile ballista units were deployed to the battlefield in muntok-driven hay carts.
These hay carts carried large wooden boxes which were used to transport the ballista artillery units. These mobile ballista units fired flaming javelins and shards of glass at the airships. As a result, several Sith airships were quickly destroyed when these projectiles pierced the airships' gas envelops, igniting the volatile hydrogen gas. Ballista units stationed at a nearby fortress also entered the fray, downing more airships. Within minutes, the Ebon Fleet had been decimated and many wrecked airships crashed on the ground. While many Sith crew and warriors aboard were killed, several Sith managed to survive but were immediately hunted by the Alanciari soldiers. Edell was furious with Bentado for breaking with their initial plans and attacking too early without waiting for his return to Keshtah Minor.
Edell and Quarra were quickly caught-up in the fighting when several Sith survivors fought their Alanciari pursuers. Quarra fought a black-suited Sith Tyro who had killed a young Keshiri soldier. Quarra fired the Keshiri soldier's repeating hand-ballista at the Tyro who parried the projectiles with his lightsaber. Amidst the fighting, Edell made contact with the Tyro who recognized him. Vrai asked the Tyro why his forces had not awaited his return to Keshtah Minor when the rest of the airships were finished. Before he could finish, the Tyro saw Quarra raising her weapon and lunged at her, bisecting her hand ballista. Before he could finish her off, Edell and Quarra combined their Force powers and hurled the Tyro and his lightsaber into a nearby field. When Edell asked Quarra to explain her actions, she replied that she was merely doing her job. After kneeling to cradle the fallen Keshiri soldier whose hand ballista she had taken, Quarra reiterated that she had only made a deal with Edell and no other Sith.
Meanwhile, Korsin Bentado's flagship crashed into a nearby plateau in the east which was where they were heading. Edell and Quarra took advantage of the explosion to escape the battlefield. Quarra then announced that their plans had changed and she was doing a detour to her hometown of Uhrar to check that her people and her three children were safe. Vrai was initially reluctant to go on a detour since Uhrah was situated three-days away to the south-east of the capital Sus'mintri. However, Quarra insisted on going home to check that her family was safe. When Edell attempted to use her lover Jogan as leverage, Quarra insisted that her family came first always. While Vrai was unhappy with Quarra's detour, he had no choice but to travel with her since it was unsafe to be both Sith and Human in Alanciar at that time.
Quarra managed to use her credentials as wardmaster and chief military administrator to commandeer a muntok cart and team. After three days and nights of relentless travel, Quarra and Edell arrived at Uhrar with the latter riding in the back of the cart. After finding that her three children were safe in the town's shelter, she rejoined Edell that evening and the two continued their journey to Sus'mintri. Due to the aerial attacks, a blackout had been imposed on all communities throughout Alanciar. While traveling, Edell attempted to recruit Quarra into the Sith Tribe by appealing to her desire to improve herself and her dissatisfaction with the failings of her husband Brue Thayn and secret lover Jogan Halder. However, Quarra was not interested in Edell's offer. Using her Force abilities, Quarra secretly managed to send a telepathic message to the War Cabinet in Sus'mintri telling them that she had a Sith Lord with her. The War Cabinet instructed Quarra to bring Edell to them stating that they knew what to do. Quarra was determined to save Jogan and be a heroine for her people at the same time.
Capturing Vaal Hall[edit | edit source]
- "We used the signal station to call out for everything, even to have the gates opened. It was one thing when we got the Keshiri to deliver food inside the gate. But the fools have been delivering us their prisoners too!"
- ―Korsin Bentado
Despite the heavy losses at the Western Shield, High Lord Korsin Bentado and several of his followers survived the destruction of the Ebon Fleet. Korsin and his crew managed to cut the Yaru's gondola loose from the gas envelope as soon as they had cleared the top ridge of the plateau. Bentado suffered burns to his head and his eyebrows were signed off during the explosion but he managed to survive. The surviving members of the Ebon Fleet included several Sith crew from the Yaru and other airships, several Human Sith warriors and a small number of Keshiri ambassadors including Bentado's Keshiri aide Squab, who was secretly working for Grand Lord Hilts. The surviving members of the Ebon Fleet managed to evade their Alanciari pursuers and reach Sus'mintri, the Alanciari capital.
After traveling for several days, they managed to infiltrate and seize control of Vaal Hall and its adjoining signal tower, which had multiple levels of signaling lights pointing in all directions. Vaal Hall was strategically important because it was also the headquarters of Alanciar's various military, industrial, and education directorates, which had previously met separately ten years before. There, the Sith used their dark side powers and their lightsaber combat skills to murder the entire Alanciari government without arousing the Alanciari citizens and garrison. Even the sentries guarding Vaal Hall were unaware of this development since the Sith were hiding within the building. During their brief occupation, the Sith used this signal station to order the Alanciari to open the compound's gates, deliver food inside the gate, and to bring Sith prisoners to Vaal Hall—a subterfuge to gather reinforcements.
Most importantly, Bentado also managed to gain control of Vaal Hall's strategically important "worldwatch", a highly centralized situation room beneath Vaal Hall's signal tower which served as the central hub for Alanciar's semaphore system. This "worldwatch" contained a great map of Alanciar which showed a complex network of signal stations and military forts. It was also used to sent orders to all Alanciari signal stations throughout the continent. In addition, it contained a facility for thoughtcriers to transmit and receive signals from across Alanciar. The capture of the "worldwatch" enabled the Sith to control the continent's highly centralized nerve center of signal communications. Thus, the highly centralized nature of the Alanciari War Cabinet became its downfall.
After three days of traveling, Quarra Thayn and Edell Vrai arrived outside Vaal Hall's gate. The Keshiri sentry guarding the gate allowed them to enter an empty courtyard. When Vrai asked Thayn about why they were also expecting to see him, she replied that he had never told her what he wanted to do in Alanciar. She implied that he wanted to visit the capital and meet the War Cabinet. When Thayn said she could not simply walk through the "front door", Vrai replied sarcastically that he would lead her through the front door and ordered her to lead the way. When they arrived inside Vaal Hall itself, they found several dead Keshiri guards, administrators and aides, many of whom had been killed by lightsaber wounds. Both of them noted that the building had not been stormed and that there had been no sign of a vigorous defense at the doorway. They also speculated that the attack may have occurred at night when the defenders were off-guard or asleep.
Bentado Korsin's Gambit[edit | edit source]
- "You want the Keshiri here to destroy our ships?"
"Not our ships. They will destroy the ships of the Tribe."
- ―Edell Vrai and Bentado Korsin
Edell Vrai and Quarra Thayn soon arrived outside the waiting room which led to the War Cabinet's meeting room. The waiting room's wall was decorated by a large tapestry of the elderly Adari Vaal at the end of her life. Inside, they found that the entire War Cabinet, the politicians who led Alanciar, were dead. Further inside, Vrai and Thayn encountered several Sith who were guarding the "worldwatch". These Sith sentries brought Vrai to their leader Korsin Bentado who welcomed the fellow Sith Lord. He then ordered Vrai to bring his Keshiri guide in and explained that she was the reason why he was here. After updating Vrai about his men's escape from the Alanciari at the Western Shield, Bentado revealed that the Sith had managed to capture one of Sus'mintri's thirteen signal towers. He also explained how he had managed to use the facility's thoughtcrier center to attract the other Sith to Vaal Hall without drawing the attention of Sus'mintri's garrison.
Bentado ordered his Sith signalers to deactivate their alarms and to prepare for the arrival of a second wave of Sith airships. Vrai and Korsin knew that the Tribe still had a dozen airships left on Keshtah Minor which were under the command of Grand Lord Varner Hilts. When Vrai suggested that they warn the Tribe about the threat of the Alanciari anti-aircraft ballista, Bentado revealed that he wanted the Alanciari to shoot down the Tribe's remaining airships. Bentado also revealed his plans to create a "Second Tribe" on Alanciar that would be independent of Grand Lord Hilts. Korsin regarded Hilts as an obstacle to his own succession to the Grand Lordship and believed that he could become the ruler of his own Tribe in Alanciar. Bentado hoped to control Alanciar's strong military and industrial base for his own ambitions.
While Vrai agreed with Bentado's assessment that the Alanciari had certain superior qualities, he argued that the same potential existed among the Keshiri on Keshtah since they were the same people. Korsin defended his plans by reiterating Sith philosophy about self glorification and the need for the perfect Sith to control everything and everyone. However, he noted that effecting the control often failed due to the presence of too many variables like slaves with conflicting goals and other Sith working in the opposite direction. To emphasize his point, Korsin used the Force to throw several miniature airships across the table. Bentado argued that the Tribe's founder Yaru Korsin had only succeeded in winning the Keshiri over but had failed to conquer them. Unlike his ancestor, Bentado planned to conquer the Alanciari by bending their working system of government to his rule. Finally, Bentado claimed that he would succeed where Yaru failed because there were no other Sith on Alanciar.
Edell listened to Korsin's arguments but regarded his ambitions as a grandiose delusion. While admiring the originality of Bentado's plan to rule Alanciar as a solitary Sith, he argued it doomed to failed because he was not the only Sith present on that continent, pointing to Korsin's Sith followers. A defensive Bentado responded that the Sith followers in the building were loyal to him. Edell countered that he could not always rely on the loyalty of his Sith followers since they would eventually tire of hiding indoors. Quarra defended Edell by reiterating that the latter had received motivated help. By contrast, she stressed that Bentado would receive no help from the Alanciari since he had killed their leaders. Edell tried to reason with Korsin by convincing him to work for the greater good of the Tribe by bring its airships to Alanciar safely.
He then turned to Bentado Korsin's Sith followers and told them that the latter had successfully established control over the Keshiri of Keshtah Major. He ordered them to help him until the Tribe's reinforcements arrived. Vrai then reiterated that they would work together to consolidate power on the continent in the name of the Tribe and Grand Lord Hilts. Korsin was angered by Edell's recalcitrance and ordered his men to seize Edell and Quarra. They fled the "Worldwatch" and entered the hallway which they had entered through earlier. During their escape, Edell was wounded by Bentado who unleashed Force lightning on him. However, Quarra managed to wound Bentado's left arm with her hand-ballista, giving them time to reach the anteroom outside the War Cabinet's chamber.
Quarra Thayn also managed to elude their Sith pursuers by smashing the fireglobes which lit the hallway. Quarra knew that a flight of stairs at the opposite end of this room led to the surface level. While Thayn wanted to escape to the surface and warn the Keshiri about the Sith, she saw that Vrai had been seriously wounded and was unable to travel further. She recalled that it had been ten days since she and Vrai had left Meori cove and the Mischance. She wanted to return in order to save her lover Jogan. However, he revealed that the ship had already left for Keshtah several days ago. While Quarra was angry that Edell had not kept his promise, she agreed to hide themselves from Bentado's followers who were out to kill them. After calling on Adari Vaal through the Force, Quarra discovered that the wall tapestry of Adari Vaal led to a secret chamber which turned out to be her secret library.
Sith versus Sith[edit | edit source]
- "Grand Lord Hilts send just a single word, my lord. Regards."
"Do they toy with me? Is this some kind of—"
- ―An unidentified Keshiri death and Korsin Bentado, moments before the latter's death at the hands of Squab
For a day, Quarra Thayn and Edell Vrai hid inside Adari Vaal's secret library. Despite her ill-feelings towards Edell for not keeping his promise regarding Jogan Halder, she still tended to his wounds. While Thayn did not trust the Sith High Lord, she was not willing to abandon him. During this period, Quarra discovered Adari's personal memoirs which revealed that she had succumbed to weakness during an encounter with Yaru Korsin, the founder of the Tribe. She realized that the "Rock of Kesh" had been tempted by the ancient Sith Lord and had faltered. While Thayn had contemplated killing Vrai with his own lightsaber, she decided to cooperate with him after he confided that the person he was serving was a better person than Bentado Korsin. Edell assured Thayn that Grand Lord Varner Hilts was an old and wise man and that she would be happier living under him than Bentado. After briefly mentioning the Time of the Rot, Edell convinced Quarra to help him stop Bentado in his tracks by appealing to the Alanciari love for building things, which he also shared.
Seeking to work with someone whom she regarded as a lesser evil in order to stop a greater evil, Quarra agreed to join forces with Edell. However, she explained that she was not seeking to advance his or her own goals. Instead, she was going to stop Bentado for the good of her people. Edell accepted her rationale and then outlined his plans to disrupt Bentado's communications. They were unable to turn to the Alanciari for help because they would kill Edell since he was a Sith. If Quarra went alone to get help, there was a chance that Edell would still be killed if the Sith found him here. Edell and Quarra also ruled out shooting the fireglobes on the signal tower since that would attract the attention of both the Sith and the Alanciari, and would result in their deaths. Since Quarra was unable to reach out for help through the Force, Vrai decided that the only way to stop Bentado was to stop the man himself. While Edell was worried that they only had one weapon, Quarra managed to find Adari's lightsaber in her archive.
Meanwhile, Grand Lord Hilts' airship Good Omen arrived off the western coast of Alanciar near Port Melephos. In response, Bentado instructed Squab to order the Alanciari uvak "diamond-flak" teams to engage the aircraft. Unknown to Bentado, Edell and Quarra managed to enter Bentado's "worldwatch" room through a diagonal tunnel leading upwards from the archive. Upon exiting, Edell jumped onto Bentado, driving his head into the map surface. After rolling across the map table, he ignited his lightsaber. Shortly later, Quarra emerged and startled Squab. Edell was then attacked by a female follower of Bentado but he shoved her back with the Force. This distraction enabled Bentado to recover and snare Edell's ankle, causing him to fall to the ground. Quarra then attacked Bentado with Adari's lightsaber but the High Lord deflected hers by using his higher position on the map table. Meanwhile, Edell recovered from his fall and managed to impale another Bentado defender.
However, they were unable to stop Squab from escaping to the tower to relay Bentado's command. While Quarra could undo Bentado's grip on Alanciar from the tower, Edell feared that she could bring a host of Alanciari on his head. Before Quarra could pursue Squab, Bentado used the Force to throw here against one of the lower belfies, knocking away her lightsaber. Standing over the Keshiri woman, Bentado threatened to kill her unless Edell stayed back from him. In response, Edell threatened Squab with his lightsaber since the Keshiri servant was cowering near him besides the wooden spiral stair case which led to the signal tower. However, Bentado was unconcerned by the potential harm to his Keshiri servant since he believed that he could find more Keshiri servants on Alanciar.
When Bentado threatened to kill Quarra unless Edell yielded, Edell stood up for her by describing her as a "big help" and telling Bentado that it was rude for guests to kill their hosts. Bentado dismissed Edell as a "fool" and used the Force to throw Edell against a concrete wall. As a result of the attack, Edell dropped his lightsaber and Bentado flung Quarra to Edell's side. After Squab emerged from hiding, Bentado ordered the Keshiri to pick up Quarra's lightsaber while he took care of his two enemies himself. Bentado intended to execute his two wounded combatants but was interrupted by a message from Squab. Squab had received a parchment from one of Bentado's other Keshiri servants which carried the news that Grand Lord Hilt's airship had landed at Port Melephos. When Bentado asked whether the airship had been brought down, Squab confirmed that it had landed. Bentado was shocked that his plan to assassinate the Grand Lord had come apart.
In reality, Squab had been secretly serving Grand Lord Hilts and had disobeyed Bentado's command to down the Grand Lord's airship. In desperation, Bentado attempted to command Squab to order the Alanciari troops to kill Hilts and anyone with him. However, Squab countermanded that order with a new order from Hilts ordering him to kill Bentado. Squab then used Quarra's lightsaber to stab Lord Bentado through the heart, killing the Sith Lord. This effectively ended Bentado's dreams of creating a "Second Tribe" and killing his rival Hilts. Squab then handed Bentado's weapons to Edell Vrai, who was designated as the new commander of the Sith forces on Alanciar. Following the defeat of Bentado, Edell reasserted control over Bentado's men and the signaling devices.
With the death of Bentado, Squab and the Keshiri whom accompanied Bentado quickly complied with Edell's orders. These Keshiri slaves were loyal to Grand Lord Hilts and disarmed Bentado's surviving Korsinite League supporters. Edell was able to force the Korsinites to yield to his authority by threatening to bring all of the Alanciari down upon Vaal Hall if they did not surrender. Edell also communicated a deal from Grand Lord Hilts to the surviving Korsinities. Grand Lord Hilts intended to exile or enslave the defeated Korsinities. Due to their heavy losses at the Western Shield and the death of their leader, the Korsinite League was broken. Following the arrival of Grand Lord Hilts' forces over the next few days, these Korsinite survivors were taken into custody and presumably enslaved or killed. Edell also used the semaphore machines to communicate with the newcomers at Port Melephos, updating them about the recent developments in Sus'mintri and the defeat of Bentado's mutiny.
A "Peaceful" Conquest[edit | edit source]
- "...There I was told the same tale of their people's landing on Kesh that Adari told, more or less. They knew of Adari Vaal—and said she was not wrong in her warnings. There were evil ones among their number in those early days: servants of the Destructors, in hiding! They were aware of the danger Adari feared, and put down those dark beings the day that she left their continent for ours. Had Adari waited but another day—just one more day! In just another day, all those that Adari feared would have been destroyed, and her warning, meaningless!"
- ―Jogan Halder delivering his testament
Grand Lord Hilts' airship landed peacefully outside Port Melephos's anti-aircraft ballistae where it was greeted by several diamond-uvak riders. The Tribe's "ambassador" Jogan Halder emerged on the Good Omen's front balcony to greet the uvak riders and assure them of the ship's peaceful intentions. The airship was crewed entirely by Keshiri from Keshtah, whose social status had improved significantly under Grand Lord Hilts' leadership. The sole Human aboard the Good Omen was Hilts himself who pretended to be the Kesh-born minion of the Bright Tuash, an avian Keshiri deity, and claimed to be two thousand years old. To perpetuate that deception, Hilts donned a cloak made of gem-festooned feathers and a sharp beak. Halder delivered his testimony about how he was kidnapped by the Sith but came to learn that they were actually not a threat to the Alanciari. Hilts then supported Halder's testimony by promoting a message of unity and reconciliation.
The Good Omen then travelled to the Alanciari capital of Sus'mintri where it was greeted by a large crowd of Alanciari spectators. Edell Vrai and Quarra Thayn were also present. Jogan Halder delivered his testimony from the front balcony of the airship. He described he had been taken by the Sith beyond the Southern Ocean to Keshtah Minor following Edell Vrai's Mission to Alanciar. Upon landing, Jogan was blindfolded and transported on a cart to Tahv, the capital of the Tribe. There, Jogan recalled that he had his blindfold removed and was allowed to roam the city freely. The city was filled with Keshiri craftsmen, painters, sculptors, and musicians who greeted him. The Keshtah Keshiri told him that they were a "happy and free" people who lived under the protection of the Sith, whom they called the "Protectors", ancient gods in Keshiri mythology. He claimed that the Keshiri in Keshtah had lived in peace for two millennia and had been able to commit themselves fully to leisure pastimes like the arts, painting, music, and singing. By contrast, the Keshiri in Alanciari were said to have spent the past two millennia in drudgery.
Halder was also allowed to visit the Tribe's capitol building where he had befriended the Circle of Lords. He described the Circle of Lords as a council where no man or woman ranked above the other. The Sith told Jogan that they Sith did not actually pose a threat to the Alanciari. While they acknowledged that Adari Vaal had been right about the presence of the "evil" Destructors among the Sith in her home continent, he claimed that the Tribe had already purged the Destructors one day after Vaal had left the continent for Alanciar. According to Halder, if Adari had waited just one more day, those that she had feared would have been destroyed and her warning would have been unnecessary. He argued therefore that the militarization of Alanciari civilization therefore had been unnecessary.
However, Jogan also mentioned that a servant of the Destructors had risen in Keshtah again two thousand years later but had been driven from the continent. This same individual had also built a fleet of airships and had sought to conquer Alanciar. Jogan then mentioned that the Sith Edell Vrai and his airships had been sent in pursuit of those criminals. Vrai had been startled by the military and technological power of the Alanciari. He claimed that Vrai and his followers had brought him to Keshtah because they wanted to verify that the Alanciari were not the "vile enemies of legend." According Halder, the clash between the Alanciari and Vaal's forces had thus been an unnecessary and needless misunderstanding. Jogan then recalled that he had assured the Sith that the Alanciari had always been on the side of good and that they would resist any evil that came their way. He then concluded by arguing that the Alanciari were not deserving of their wrath.
Jogan Halder's testament was immediately followed by a speech by Grand Lord Hilts, who had disguised himself as the "Keshtah-born" minion of the Bright Tuash. Hilts claimed that he was two thousand years old and that both the Sith and Keshiri were his children. He also claimed that Adari Vaal, the revered founder of Alanciari civilization, was his daughter and that she had been well-meaning but misguided. He backed Jogan's account and professed to be saddened that the Destructors had attacked and killed the Alanciari War Cabinet. He also assured the Alanciari that the Destructors and their leader had been defeated by his agent Edell Vrai and the Alanciari woman Quarra Thayn, whom he described as a well-trained soldier. To facilitate peace between the two continents, the "Bright Tuash" decreed that both Human and Keshiri relief workers in white robes would arrive from Keshtah over the next few days to promote reconciliation and unity.
Following Halder's testament, the Good Omen landed on the Sus'mintri parade grounds. He was immediately mobbed by thousands of cheerful Alanciari who regarded him as a hero for saving Kesh. Halder traveled to the city's signal station in order to transmit his message to the rest of Alanciari. He also briefly encountered Quarra Thayn but was too preoccupied to see her. Instead, he promised to meet up with her another time. Halder managed to transmit his message to the rest of Alanciar through the continent's semaphore network. As a result of Jogan Halder's diplomacy, the Alanciari peacefully submitted to Sith rule. Thus, Grand Lord Hilts succeeded in fulfilling his long-time ambition of conquering "Keshtah Major" while eliminating a major threat to his rule: Korsin Bentado.
In reality, Jogan Halder's Testament had been part of a "grand deception" staged by Grand Lord Hilts. To counter the deep-seated anti-Sith sentiment promoted by Adari Vaal, the Sith had to convince Halder and his people that while the Keshtah Chronicles were true, the Sith were actually the Protectors. To deflect attention from the Tribe, Hilts managed to depict his rival Bentado and his supporters as followers of the Destructors. This was helped by the sinister appearance of Bentado and his followers, many of whom had come from the former Korsinite League. Hilts had reasoned that Bentado's Ebon Fleet would give the Alanciari the fight that they would win. Despite knowing about the military capabilities of the Alanciari from Vrai's followers, Hilts had withheld this information from Bentado since that High Lord was too headstrong to listen to reason and because Hilts wanted to eliminate his political rival.
Hilts had also tricked Jogan into believing that Keshtah was a utopian paradise by putting the Tribe's most loyal Keshiri on to the streets of Tahv to create a false carnival atmosphere. Meanwhile, the Tribe had withdrawn from public view. To perpetuate the deception that the Tribe were actually the Protectors, Hilts also repainted the Tribe's remaining airships including his flagship Good Omen white and decorated them with jewels, tassels, and silken bunting. Ultimately, this deception worked and most of the Alanciari bought the message that the Sith were actually benevolent. While several Force-sensitive Alanciari including Quarra sensed some deception, they did not object because they were tired of the militaristic nature of Alanciari society and were willing to accept change.
Aftermath[edit | edit source]
- "They sense no malice in him [Hilts]. He never had any for you."
"There's still deception."
"Maybe these people are ready to be deceived. They're like one of your ballistae. They've been cocked for years, waiting to go off. Now that they've fired, they're ready for something else—even a pretty story."
- ―Quarra Thayn and Edell Vrai discussing the "conquest" of Alanciar
The Invasion of Alanciar was an important development in the history of the planet Kesh. As a result of its conquest, the Lost Tribe gained access to a large and wealthy continent which had substantial industrial base and was rich in lumber. This enabled the Sith to develop a large fleet of wooden sailing ships which replaced the dangerous airships as the planet's main mode of long-distance transportation. This new fleet of wooden sailing ships enabled the Sith to explore the uncharted regions and seas of Kesh including the unexplored northern hemisphere. High Lord Edell Vrai was appointed as the new de-facto governor of Alanciar. He was tasked with evaluating and cataloging Alanciari innovations that would be used by the Tribe. Vrai also presided over the demilitarization of Alanciari society. Ballista, both large and small, were destroyed in large quantities as a show of trust and reconciliation. In reality, the Sith were afraid that armed Keshiri would pose a threat to their rule. Hilts would regard the act of bringing the Alanciari Keshiri willingly into the Sith's service as a greater victory than capturing new slaves in combat. This victory was recorded in Hilts' testament, which was read to the Tribe's leadership every twenty-five years.
Following the Sith annexation, the Tribe's "ambassador" Jogan Halder became a professional hermit who visited the various cities of Alanciar in the airship Good Omen to repeat the story of his adventure. Halder's story was dramatized with the help of Keshiri actors and song-writes imported from Keshtah and gradually replaced the Observance Day plays which were based on the life of Adari Vaal, whose teachings were regarded by the new Sith authorities as outdated if not subversive. According to official rhetoric, Adari had merely been found on a rock. By contrast, Jogan had lived on a rock before his revelation to the truth. Thus, Jogan was regarded as the new "Rock of Kesh." Due to his services to the Tribe, Halder gained a place of honor in their society. This prestige was also enhanced by the fact that he was the first recorded Alanciari visitor to Keshtah Minor, the domain of the Tribe. Finally, he broke off contact with his one-time lover Quarra since he was preoccupied with his new role and status.
Meanwhile, Quarra Thayn joined the clean-up crew which removed the dead bodies from Vaal Hall and restored the building to its proper functions. She met up with Edell Vrai following the Sith annexation but declined his offer to join the Lost Tribe despite the privileges and powers that came with the job. Recalling her Force vision with Orielle Kitai, Quarra accepted that the Sith takeover of Alanciar was inevitable but she decided to remain loyal to her family rather than becoming the consort of Edell Vrai. Since her countrymen did not share her skepticism of the Sith, she decided that it was better to collaborate with them. She also returned to her husband Brue Thayn and her three children, who remained ignorant of her affair with Jogan Halder.
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
The Invasion of Alanciar serves as the main plot narrative of John Jackson Miller's short story Lost Tribe of the Sith: Pandemonium, which was first released on July 24, 2012. It was told from the points-of-view of the Alanciari wardmaster Quarra Thayn and the Sith High Lord Edell Vrai.
Appearances[edit | edit source]
- Lost Tribe of the Sith: Pandemonium (First appearance)