- "Some kind of Knight errant, running around in Sith space alone, is that it? Saving student bodies here and there."
"No, this is new. Usually I save whole planets."
- ―Jarrow Rusher and Kerra Holt
Kerra Holt was a female Human Jedi Knight during the New Sith Wars. She was the daughter of Aron and Mercia Holt but she was separated from her parents during the Sith invasion of Aquilaris. The former Padawan of Vannar Treece, Holt determined to make herself into a "living weapon" and, having done so, returned to the areas of the galaxy still controlled by the Sith, determined to fight them wherever she found them. The rival Sith Lord brothers Odion and Daiman, sons of the Sith lady Xelian, were two enemies she encountered. Later on, Holt found out that she was facing an almost entire family of Sith and intended to use this knowledge to warn to the Galactic Republic.
Born on Aquilaris in 1050 BBY, Holt was raised by her family until the Sith invaded the planet. Her family perished in a massive raid led by the Sith Lord Odion, general of the Chagras Hegemony. After the Sith took control over her homeworld, she was rescued by Jedi Master Vannar Treece and taken to the Jedi Temple for training. She eventually reached the rank of Jedi Knight in 1032 BBY, and participated in a dangerous Jedi operation into the Sith-controlled Grumani sector. When her Master and Jedi comrades were killed by Odion on Chelloa, Holt was stranded but re-established contact with a former Jedi Knight, Gorlan Palladane.
Together, the two Jedi succeeded in outmaneuvering both Daiman and Odion's malevolent schemes towards Chelloa. During the Destruction of Chelloa when Daiman unleashed kinetic corruptors which devastated the planet's surface, Holt and Palladane succeeded in evacuating much of the planet's population and escaped into hyperspace on a hastily assembled cargo fleet which became the Freedom Fleet. During her time on Chelloa, Holt earned the grudging respect of the narcissistic Daiman while gaining the animosity of Odion, following a climatic duel where he sustained serious wounds. Following the safe evacuation of the Chelloan people, Holt would continue her personal crusade against the Sith warlords in the Grumani sector.
Her quest would lead her to infiltrate the Daimanate capital of Darkknell where she intended to destroy Daiman's Black Fang research installation before killing the Sith Lord himself. In the process, she encountered the Bothan spy Narsk Ka'hane, an independent operator who worked for several Sith Lords. Kerra would become embroiled in a plot by Daiman to lure Odion into a trap on Gazzari by leaking information about a business deal between him and the Quermian Sith Lord Ayanos Bactra, the ruler of the Bactranate. During a showdown on Gazzari, Kerra rescued around 1,700 students from the Daimanate who had been used as bait in the assault. She also came into contact with the mercenary leader Jarrow Rusher, the Brigadier of Rusher's Brigade, an independent mercenary operation. After successful convincing Rusher to evacuate the refugees, they escaped offworld to Byllura.
On Byllura, Kerra and Rusher would help bring down the Dyarchy, a Sith realm ruled by the Krevaaki Sith Lord Saaj Calician, who ruled on behalf of the late Chagras's younger children Quillan and Dromika. The Dyarchy was subsequently annexed by the female Sith Lord Arkadia Calimondra, their older sister and the ruler of the Arkadianate. Following the defeat of the Dyarchy, Kerra and Rusher came into contact with the female Sith Lord Arkadia Calimondra, who offered them refuge at her capital city of Calimondretta on Syned. Arkadia attempted to win Kerra and Rusher over by portraying herself as an enlightened Sith ruler and promising refuge to the student refugees. Arkadia also revealed that the conflicts in Sith Space were driven by a fratricidal power struggle involving the Calimondra family, a feuding clan of power-hungry Sith lords headed by the matriarch Vilia Calimondra. Her seven children had undertaken a challenge known as a Charge Matrica to inherit her holdings, and now the grandchildren were doing the same.
After her seven children declared war on each other, Chagras had emerged as the victor, but died mysteriously, leaving no single heir to claim Vilia's legacy. So, the grandchildren were now undertaking the same challenge as their parents, attempting to impress the Sith matriarch by warring against each other or eliminating Sith outsiders like Bactra or Calician. This self-centered power struggle affected the lives of billions of sentients throughout the Grumani sector. However, Kerra became caught up in a plot by Arkadia to kill her grandmother Vilia, and subsequently a counter-plot by Vilia to stop her granddaughter through the Bothan spy Narsk. After helping Narsk to foil Arkadia's schemes, Kerra and Rusher managed to escape Syned, bringing around two thousands refugees including Kerra's student refugees who had fled the Daimanate and many Arkadianate defectors. Vilia allowed Kerra to survive because she wanted the Jedi woman to provide her grandchildren with experience in dealing with Jedi.
After recuperating from her travels in the safety of the Republic, Holt returned to her homeworld of Aquilaris after receiving a distress call. There, she would become embroiled in two separate conspiracies with malevolent intentions towards Aquilaris. Unsatisfied with Hutt Space, the ambitious Hutt crimelord Zodoh was intending to extend his operations to Sith Space and wanted to intimidate his Sith rivals with his improvised superweapon: Stormdrivers capable of creating global artificial floods. In the same vein, the pro-Republic Grace Command—an Alderaanian-based mercy organization—had deliberately inundated the Grumani sector with Deluge spice, as part of Operation Deluge to undermine the Sith war effort without diverting substantial Republic resources. However, it also wrecked the lives of many civilian populations.
During the Aquilaris campaign, Holt succeeded in saving the lives of many Aquilarians with the assistance of Joad Kreel and Padgett. She also managed to win over Jenn Devaad, a captain within Grace Command, and turn her away from her superiors' conspiratorial agenda. Together, the two single-handedly bested the Hutt lord Zodoh and turned the tide of the Battle of Darkknell, saving the lives of billions of sentients. In the process, she saved Daiman from the jaws of defeat and managed to establish contact with him. Following the Aquilaris campaign, Holt would collaborate with Daiman in a scheme to undermine his estranged brother Odion by infiltrating the Novitiate, Odion's Force-sensitive disciples.
Kerra would also embark on a quest to find her long-lost parents and her sibling. During her period in the Odionate, Kerra would learn about the existence of an ancient Sith artifact known as the Helm of Ieldis; which was capable of driving large numbers of sentient beings into a maddened homicidal frenzy. Kerra also discovered the existence of the cloisters, a system of planet-sized orphanages where thousands of children throughout the Grumani sector were imprisoned. She became part of a party of Novitiates sent by Odion to recover the Helm while moving closer to the end of the trail to find her parents. This quest brought her to Skarpos where she became caught in the midst of a fierce battle between three rival Sith Lords including Odion, Daiman, and Malakite. Kerra's quest came to an end when she herself was captured by Odion, but not after learning about her parents' sacrifice on Skarpos.
The Helm brought her enemy Odion closer to his bid for galactic dominance. After a successful test demonstration on Skarpos, the Sith Lord intended to unleash the Helm's powers on the larger Grumani sector, by tapping into the negative emotions of his child captives on Vanahame. During the ensuing climatic showdown, Kerra succeeded in turning Odion's second-in-command General Beld Yulan against his master by convincing him about the sanctity of life. In the end, Kerra's efforts ended in the defeat and demise of Odion, who perished after the Helm overloaded.
- "M-my family. They told me to run—far away. But I came b-back. And I found…I found…"
"You found this. I'm so very sorry…"
- ―Kerra Holt and Vannar Treece
Kerra Holt was born in 1050 BBY on the world of Aquilaris Minor, in the Grumani sector. She was the eldest daughter of Aron Holt, a skin diver, and Mercia Holt, an archaeologist. Kerra spent much of her early childhood on that planet and resided in the main city of Capital Cay. Both her parents were alumni of the University of Sanbra. Prior to 1042 BBY, both of her parents were involved in a research project to locate the Helm of Ieldis, an ancient Sith artifact dating back to the Great Hyperspace War. One of their research expeditions took them to the planet Sarrassia where they established contact with the Grumani Hierophants, one of the many religious sects inhabiting that planet. During that time, the Holt family befriended the Woostoid Grumani priestess Aunt Zoojoo, who became a close family friend. At one point, Kerra climbed onto the roof of the Great Hall, she caused the abbot to suffer a stroke. Kerra was later reprimanded by her parents for her mischievous actions.
In 1042 BBY, Kerra was about eight-years old when the planet Sanbra and its university were raided by the Sith Lord Odion, who at the time fought under the banner of Chagras, ruler of the Chagras Hegemony. The research team managed to escape offworld but not before Odion uncovered information about the Helm and sought to use it to gain an edge over his Sith compatriots. The Holts and ten other researchers fled back to their home on Aquilaris Minor. There, they planned to meet several Jedi on Aquilaris including the Jedi Knight and activist Vannar Treece. However, Odion obtained intelligence that the researchers were there. He was subsequently given authorization to invade Aqualaris from the Sith matriarch Vilia Calimondra, under the ruse of capturing Treece, a perennial foe of the Sith.
Later that year, Aquilaris was invaded by Chagras Hegemony forces under Lord Odion who wiped out the weak Republic defenses, and slaughtered and enslaved much of the population. By that time, her mother Mercia was pregnant with their second child. During the invasion of Capital Cay, her parents were packing up and preparing to leave, intending to prevent Odion from gaining access to their sensitive research. Her father Aron was seen sporting a blaster pistol in the event that Sith troops stormed their house. They planned to flee to the harbor and escape on a submersible manned by the Seacroppers' Guild. While their house was being besieged by Sith troopers, Kerra was instructed by her mother to flee to the harbor first. Her parents would then meet up with her and they would flee with her childhood friend Joad Kreel and his father into the open seas. Finally, Mercia told her daughter not to come back looking for them and promised that they would join her there.
Kerra managed to reach the harbor while dodging Hegemony forces who were pillaging the city. There, she met Joad who was waiting by his Seacropper Submersible. His father had not returned and he stressed that they needed to go since Odion had already arrived at the scene. By that period, Odion had already developed a reputation as a ruthless and violent conqueror. Joad also told Kerra that he would wait for her to bring her family back so she could escape underwater. Despite Joad's warnings that it was too dangerous to return to her home, Kerra ran back to her home since she was determined not to be separated from her parents. By then, Odion's troops had captured both her parents and the other members of the research team. To cover up evidence about his secret project and entertain his nihilistic tendencies, Odion ordered the razing of the entire neighborhood block. By the time Kerra arrived at her burning home, all that she found was her father's pistol.
Meanwhile, her friend Joad evacuated the harbor in his submersible alone to escape the Sith rampage and bombardment of the harbor. The two childhood friends would only be reunited several years later.During the subsequent house-to-house fighting that enveloped Capital Cay, Kerra encountered the Jedi Knight Vannar Treece. Initially, she mistook him for an intruder and nearly shot him with her blaster pistol. However, she quickly recognized him as a Jedi and related to him how her family had told her to flee but she went because she did not know where else to go. Taking pity on here, Vannar informed Kerra that he had a starfighter hidden nearby and offered to help escape offworld. He promised Kerra that they would return to Aquilaris when it was safe and that they would make it safe as Jedi.
- "Might and mercy, Kerra. It's part of the job."
- ―Vannar Treece's advice to Kerra
Having lost her entire family, Kerra Holt turned to her rescuer Vannar and the Jedi Order as her new adopted family. She subsequently became a Padawan under Treece's tutelage and lived on Coruscant, the capital of a rump Galactic Republic concentrated around the Core Worlds and Colonies. Under the custody of the Jedi, Kerra led an active childhood. At the age of twelve standard years, she was already coordinating travel assignments for volunteers. By the age of fourteen, Kerra was helping raise funds for Treece's "knight errant" operations into Sith Space. Within the last three years preceding 1032 BBY, Kerra had been responsible for outfitting Treece's Jedi operations with equipment. Thus, Kerra quickly gained the necessary experience and skills needed to run a volunteer paramilitary operation, which would prove essential to her work as a Jedi operating as a "knight errant" in enemy territory.
One of her earliest assignments as a Padawan was shutting down a ring of Core World-based smugglers who had been transporting fungi to Coruscant for processing into illegal narcotics. Mere law enforcement activities like spice interdiction were often assigned to Jedi Padawans since the Jedi and Republic were preoccupied with more urgent matters like the centuries-long protracted wars against the Sith and the effects of the Candorian plague. Kerra's experiences during that assignment led her to witness the effects of narcotics on people, which she came to conclude effectively stripped them of the power to control their own lives. This led Kerra to take a dim view of narcotics and drugs traffickers in her later career. By 1032 BBY, she had passed her Jedi Trials and become a novice Jedi Knight.
While most of the Jedi Order had retreated to the safety of the Core Worlds to stave off a Sith invasion, her Master Vannar still staged hit-and-run "knight errant" operations into Sith Space with the secret consent of Supreme Chancellor Genarra. Vannar's operations were motivated by his concern for the plight of the billions of sentient beings living under Sith rule. For these operations, Treece utilized volunteers rather than regular Jedi and Republic military personnel since both Genarra and the Ministry of Defense were reluctant to commit substantial forces and other resources to invading the Sith-controlled territories due to the weakened state of the Republic. He was also able to exploit a loophole that allowed Jedi Knights a period of sixteen days of free travel anywhere in the galaxy between their regular routine of serving three months in law enforcement patrols and nine months of active service on the Republic's contracting frontiers. As of 1032 BBY, Vannar's missions were the only Jedi activity in the entire Grumani sector.
- "Pretty good work for the first time out. But you can see what I mean. You're a great planner, but things out here change faster than we can plan for them. Maybe you should have called it Operation In Flux."
- ―Master Treece's reflecting on Kerra's actions on Oranessan
In 1032 BBY, Treece obtained intelligence from his old friend and former Jedi Knight Gorlan Palladane that the Sith warlord Daiman had discovered large deposits of baradium —a volatile compound used in the manufacture of munitions including thermal detonators—on the agrarian world of Chelloa. Following the collapse of the Chagras Hegemony in 1040 BBY, Lord Daiman had established an independent principality known as the Daimanate, developing a personality cult surrounded around his view as "creator of the universe". The baradium was being extracted from mines deep beneath the planet's surface and then shipped offworld for processing at munitions factories situated near the front line. Daiman exploited the local inhabitants slaves while he strip-mined the planet for the valuable ores.
Since the Jedi feared that Daiman's access to baradium would change the balance of power within the Grumani sector, Treece assembled a strike team to sabotage the shipment of baradium offworld. This mission became code-named "Operation Influx" and involved a three-stage process of infiltration, sabotage, and exfiltration back into Republic space. Due to the serious nature of Operation Influx, Vannar had taken great pains to recruit several senior Jedi who had owed him a favor in the past. Some of these figures included the Trandoshan Jedi Knight Mrssk who had served in earlier Treece operations and the Quarren Jedi Master Berluk who had become distinguished within the Jedi Order for his combat skills. This mission was originally dubbed Operation Deadlock by Kerra. However, it was renamed Operation Influx when Treece recalled that it gave away their covert strategy of stalemating the Sith Lords against one another. This had the potential of alienating occupied civilian populations who looked up to the Jedi as their saviors and would allow the Sith to deduce the Republic's strategy.
For Kerra, this marked her first return to the Grumani sector since the Sith invasion of her homeworld eight years ago. Her master Treece had learnt about the baradium operations from his old friend and undercover Jedi operative Gorlan Palladane, the leader of the Chelloan resistance. Palladane and his Rodian mechanic friend Skodo had used a stolen transmitter to reactivate a hyperspace relay and communicate with Treece. However, the Sith Lord Odion had been monitoring the transmissions and made preparations to invade Chelloa. The nihilistic Sith Lord believed that the planet's high concentration of baradium created an imbalance in the Force and thus had to be destroyed.
Vannar's Jedi strike team traveled to the planet Oranessan in an unidentified Jedi starship. The planet was a polluted rain-drench world located at a key hyperlane within the Daimanate. While approaching Oranessan's surface, the Jedi intercepted and shot down a Daimanate personnel shuttle. The shuttle had been carrying several flight crew to the planet's spaceport where a fleet of Daimanate Heavy-Lift Starcrosser transports was waiting to depart for a delivery run to Chelloa. These flight crew would be used to crew the vast transports. The shuttle crashed on top of a hillcrest in the mud flats and the Jedi quickly retrieved the fallen crew's cloaks and identification badges. During the first phase of Operation Influx, Kerra was part of a four-member advance team which also included her Master Treece and the Cerean Dorvin Eltrom that approached the spaceport where a fleet of the Starcrosser transports were departing for Chelloa.
The four Jedi then encountered a Daimanite party consisting of a female ground crew chief and four armed sentries who attempted to execute them for being late to a flight preparation meeting that occurred twenty minutes earlier. However, the Jedi quickly killed the Daimanite sentries with their lightsabers. Kerra herself personally killed the ground crew chief and stole her control device and jumpsuit, which would become handy later on. After stealing the dead Daimanites' equipment, the four Jedi commandeer an empty Starcrosser transport. Vannar then contacted the rest of the team via comlink to inform them that the objective vessel had been secured, that Operation Influx had been confirmed, and that they could now rejoin the advance team at the transport.
During a brief conversation with her master Vannar, Kerra reflected on how she had switched from using Force Persuasion to lightsaber combat during her encounter with the ground crew chief. Kerra admitted that she did not like posing as a Sith and Vannar responded that she could not get very far in enemy territory without employing subterfuge. Prior to departing Oranessan, Kerra had another brief conversation with the Cerean Dorvin. He asked the young Human woman whether her decision to wield a green lightsaber reflected her aspiration to become a Jedi Consular like the current Chancellor Genarra. Kerra explained that she had only grabbed a lightsaber crystal from the top of a pile which turned out to be green in color. Dorvin was disappointed with Kerra's decision not to become a Jedi Consular. However, Kerra did not believe in adhering to tradition since she was more interested in learning enough Jedi skills as quickly as possible to fight the Sith in combat and avenge the invasion of her homeworld.
Before they could depart for Chelloa, the Jedi team encountered a new obstacle when they discovered that the transport's navigation computer lacked an activation cylinder, a small device that enabled a ship to enter hyperspace. While the Starcrosser was still able to take off, it was unable to make a hyperspace jump and that meant Operation Influx would have to be aborted. Meanwhile, the other transports were already departing for Chelloa. Kerra quickly recalled that she had forgotten to retrieve a dispatch case from the wreckage of the downed personnel shuttle they had shot down earlier. The case had been trapped under one of the shuttle's consoles and she had mistaken it for a personal item. While it was standard procedure in the Republic for most flight crews to keep their activation cylinders with the ships, the Trandoshan Jedi Mrssk explained to his companions that the Starcrosser lacked one since Daiman had a policy requiring his flight crew to keep them on their persons in order to minimize the risk of desertion by his ground troops.
When Kerra expressed frustration at her failure to retrieve the dispatch case, Treece was sympathetic towards the young Jedi woman since it was impossible for her to do everything. The Jedi were unable to travel to Chelloa on their own ship since the planet was tightly guarded by Daiman's forces. Time was running out since they had only one hour to infiltrate Chelloa and sabotage the baradium shipping before departing for neutral space. Vannar considered activating the fallback plan which involved flying the transport back to their hidden Jedi vessel and using it to shoot down the Daimanite transports before returning to the Republic. However, this plan had a serious drawback since Daiman could respond by rerouting other vessels to Chelloa. Kerra opposed this idea and suggested hijacking an ore transport but Vannar ruled it out since the ore transports were heavily armed.
Finally, Kerra suggested returning to the wrecked shuttle and retrieving the dispatch case. However, Vannar was uncomfortable about this plan since he did not want to risk the lives of the Jedi Knights involved. However, Kerra was still determined to carry out Operation Influx due to the considerable amount of energy, time, and resources they had already committed to the mission. At that point, they were interrupted by an announcement from the Sith control tower on Oranessan ordering them to hasten their departure or they would be punished. Vannar then ordered the team to opt for their fallback plan. He ruled out walking back several kilometers back to their hidden Jedi ship due to the wet conditions outside. Vannar also ordered Dolvin to secure all the vessel's hatchways.
However, Kerra disagreed with her master's orders and used her stolen remote control to open the transport's main cargo hatchway as it was lifting off. Donning the fallen ground crew chief's overalls, she then headed to the spaceport's hangar bay which stored several replacement navicomputers and activation cylinders. Despite flying at low altitude and the transport's external sensors, Oranessan's torrid weather made it impossible for the Jedi crew aboard the transport to detect Kerra. After several minutes, Kerra returned back to the departing Starcrosser transport and used her lightsaber as a beacon.
A soaked and exhausted Kerra climbed back onto the transport's cargo deck where she presented the activation cylinder to her pleased master. Kerra then explained how she had obtained the activation cylinder by infiltrating the hangar while disguised as a worker. Due to her stolen clothes and because she had entered during a busy period of the day, she was able to evade detection. When Treece commented that he thought that Kerra hated posing as Sith, the Jedi woman replied that she hated letting them win even more. Having obtained the activation cylinder, the Starcrosser transport was now able to make a hyperspace jump. Having successfully accomplished the first phase of Operation Influx, the relieved Treece and Kerra shared jokes prior to their journey to Chelloa.
Stranded on ChelloaEdit
- "Gorlan. You're—you're a Jedi?"
"No, Kerra Holt—the only Jedi on Chelloa now is you…"
- ―Kerra Holt and Gorlan Palladane
Using a captured cargo liner, the Jedi team infiltrated Jenith's spaceport and quickly overwhelmed Daiman's security guards with the support of the slaves. During the assault, Holt saved Palladane and a group of miners from being roughed up by a group of Daiman's thugs at the South Work Yards. She knocked out a T'surr Daimanate Sith trooper with her lightsaber while Gorlan incapacitated a Human officer. Despite the warm reception from the liberated slaves, Palladane was disappointed that the mission was only a hit-and-run raid as opposed to a full scale invasion of Chelloa. Holt defended her master by pointing that the depleted nature of Republic finance had limited the resources available to the Jedi. Still, Treece planned to evacuate as many slaves as he could on their cargo liner.
Using their stolen Daimanate cargo liner, the Jedi strike team managed to land at Jenith's spaceport. During the raid, they rammed a squad Daimanate Sith troopers and destroyed several cargo liners to disorientate their Sith opponents. They then overwhelmed the security guards with the support of the mining workers, many of whom were members of the Chelloan resistance. During the melee, Kerra was keen to display her combat prowess with the lightsaber. However, her Master Treece cautioned her not to be reckless with her life since she had already passed the trials. He then reminded Holt that her job was to reconnoiter with Gorlan Palladane, who was gathering a group of miners in the South Work Yard. She and Palladane's group would then rejoin the main force following the fighting.
Treece also commented to Holt that in the future she could be the charismatic leader running the "hopeless" mission. She responded jokingly that her job was to make the charismatic leader "look good" before parting to go on her assignment. Holt saved Gorlan Palladane and his fellow miners from being killed by a T'surr Daimanate Sith officer, who wanted to kill them as part of a scorched earth strategy to ensure that no opponents could secure Daiman's labor force. She knocked out a T'surr Daimanate Sith trooper with her lightsaber while Gorlan incapacitated a Human officer with his crowbar. Holt then escorted Palladane and his companions to the spaceport. By then the Sith garrison had been overpowered and Treece was being welcomed by a jubilant multi-species crowd of laborers and miners. Vannar and Gorlan reunited and shook each others' hands as close friends. Vannar also introduced Gorlan to Kerra and introduced him as his top secret intelligence source.
Palladane had used his cover as a community leader and relief worker at the spaceport town of Jenith as a cover for his work as undercover field operative for the Jedi Order. However, tensions soon developed when Gorlan noted that the small size of the Jedi taskforce was insufficient to liberate Chelloa. Vannar explained that Operation Influx was not a rescue mission but rather a preemptive strike to sabotage the distribution of baradium and prevent further incursions into the rump Republic. Gorlan criticized Vannar's "filibustering raid" as insufficient in helping ordinary people living under Sith rule. Kerra intervened and defended her Master by stressing that the Vannar was right in asserting that a small tactical raid would keep the Sith deadlocked.
Vannar then took Kerra aside personally and stressed that Gorlan was right but admitted he was unable to help everyone. However, he noted to Kerra that their transport ship still had sufficient space for the dock crew. He ordered her to personally assist Gorlan in helping mobilize anyone willing to flee to Republic Space. Kerra argued that she should be assisting the other Jedi in the demolitions work since she had studied the site from orbit. Gorlan responded that her knowledge of the site's dimensions could also used be used for more peaceful work and stressed that might and mercy were also part of the job.
Kerra concurred and began tending to a wounded Duros laborer. However, they were distracted by the rumble of engines emanating from Squatter's Hill. Daiman's rival and estranged brother Sith Lord Odion had arrived with an attack force comprising of landing ships and a Kinetic corruptor, a massive repulsorlift vehicle capable of harvesting baradium from the surface by igniting it. Earlier, Palladane and the Rodian mechanic Skodo had made contact with the Jedi by using a transmitter to activate a routing station in space. While the Jedi received his transmission, it was also intercepted by Daiman's estranged older brother and fellow Sith Lord Odion, who ruled an independent domain known as the Odionate.
Chelloa's narcissistic ruler Lord Daiman saw himself as the Creator of the universe and all other beings as soulless automatons. Meanwhile, the nihilistic Odion saw himself as the self-appointed Destroyer of life which he saw as an obstacle to finding true peace. While Treece planned to disrupt the shipping operations, Odion wanted to destroy Chelloa because he thought that the high concentration of baradium on Chelloa created an imbalance within the Force. In the ensuing duel, Odion unleashed his Force-sensitive Novitiate acolytes on Vannar's Jedi team. Both Kerra and Vannar expressed surprise at Odion's presence since Chelloa was situated far from the Odionate's supply lines. Kerra attempted to enter the fray and slay Odion in revenge for the destruction and suffering afflicted on her homeworld ten years ago.
However, Vannar reminded Kerra of his previous order to assist Gorlan in evacuating the people and stressed that Daiman would be returning with reinforcements. He ordered her to evacuate Gorlan's people from Chelloa while emphasizing that it was his task alone to deal with Odion. Kerra returned to the freighter only to discover that Gorlan was refusing to leave because he still had a family in Jenith. Gorlan also stressed that there were still sixty thousand people in the slave cities of Chelloa and he was still needed as the de facto leader of the Chelloan resistance. Upon learning this fact, Kerra correctly deduced that Odion was trying to destroy Chelloa since it was too far from his supply lines to defend effectively. She told Gorlan to evacuate while she reentered the fray in an attempt to defeat Odion.
During the ensuing duel, Vannar took on Odion atop an automated repulsorlift platform with the two men goading each other. Meanwhile, the Kinetic corruptor was begin its activation process. Kerra interrupted the duel and attempted to stop the Kinetic corruptor by damaging its cables. However, he stopped her and used the Force to hurl the young Jedi onto the repulsorlift platform. Vannar quickly attended to Kerra and sternly reminded her to resume her original mission before sending the repulsorlift platform back to the spaceport by pressing its control button. By then, the ground had begun shaking with Odion gloating that his baradium experts had discovered how to detonate baradium. Taken by surprise, Treece was impaled by Odion from behind and all of the Jedi team with the exception of Holt were killed in the ensuing magma explosion. This same explosion also killed and wounded many of Odion's cultists, Chelloan workers and Daiman's guards. Kerra was recovered by Gorlan who took her aboard the Starcrosser transport which was protected from the resulting magma flow due to its distance from the site. Vannar's death was sensed in the Force by Kerra, who became the last surviving member of the Jedi mission and was stranded on Chelloa.
Meeting the creatorEdit
- "Kerra, is it? From what I've seen, your guardian could have used protection himself—against you. I can feel the anger, washing off you in waves. It might be diverting to break you—but my brother's visit has changed my plans for Chelloa. Release her. Perhaps she will live to become something…interesting."
While the survivors began attending to the wounded, Lord Daiman arrived on a repulsorcraft. Despite the enormous loss of lives and wounded particularly burn victims, Daiman was apathetic and demanded to see Paladane. Palladane pleaded for help in treating the wounded but Daiman was more concerned with discerning how his rival Odion and the Jedi discovered his secret baradium mining operations. When Palladane expressed his ignorance of the matter, Daiman used Force choke to strangle the former. However, Kerra intervened and tried to force Daiman to stop tormenting Palladane at gunpoint.
Amused by her courage and dismissing her as an orphan, Daiman relinquished his grip on Palladane and fondled with her, making obscene gestures. He mockingly told her to embrace her anger as a diversion and released her since he was preoccupied with the threat of Odion to his goals. Showing little concern for the well-being of his subjects, Daiman ordered them to erect one of his statues in the village square before dismissing the crowd. Later at his alpine compound above Jenith, he tortured the Rodian worker Skodo with Force lightning in an attempt to force him to confess to contacting Odion. Earlier, Skodo had been found with a transmitter which he and Palladane had used to contact Odion with information about Daiman's baradium operations.
However, Daiman's torture session was interrupted by the arrival of Holt who dueled him. She trapped Daiman in a suspension field before engaging in an argument with the temporarily incapacitated Sith Lord. When she attacked his maltreatment of slaves, Daiman countered by reiterating his personal Sith philosophy with himself being the only true living being. To distract Holt, he then revealed that his brother Odion was preparing a second attack and that Odion had a mobile space station known as The Spike which was capable of producing various arsenal particularly kinetic corruptors. One kinetic corruptor was capable of igniting the entire planet of Chelloa due to the vast baradium deposits. Daiman managed to break away but Holt had escaped, hijacking one of Daiman's starfighters deployed to attack The Spike.
Confronting the destroyerEdit
- "I just want you to leave Chelloa alone."
"Not a chance. That's too much baradium in one place. It upsets everything."
- ―Kerra Holt and Odion
Viewing Odion as a threat to his control of baradium extraction on Chelloa, Daiman had dispatched a small strike force of Daimanate starfighters in an attempt to knock out The Spike. However, his light starfighters were wiped out by Odion's gunships. In the midst of the attack, Holt bailed out of her starfighter into space and infiltrated The Spike by entering through an open hatch. Discarding her spacesuit, she disabled a service droid and then made her way to Pod Seventeen, in the vast assembly area. There, Holt overpowered a labor droid known as GAD-3 and reset his motivation center. In exchange for Kerra fixing his robotic arms, Gad-3 revealed that The Spike was dedicated solely to the production of kinetic corruptors and that all floors were decentralized from the main structure for security reasons. Gad-3 then added that Holt should not have come alone.
At that moment, they were interrupted by the arrival of Odion and his Givin second-in-command Jelcho. However, Odion did not sense Kerra or Gad-3 initially, since they were hidden under the catwalk. Odion was preoccupied with using his corruptors to extract Chelloa's baradium deposits. From Odion's conversation with Jelcho, Holt learned that an unidentified informant had supplied the Odionates with intelligence on Daiman's baradium operations. From a recorded transmission, the informant claimed that all of Daiman's mining operations were permanently offline in an attempt to draw Sith attention away from Chelloa. However, Odion dismissed the informant's latest reports as an attempt by Daiman or other parties to undermine his planned baradium operations. Meanwhile, Holt released GAD-3 and sent him back to his station with instructions to open another door when she gave the signal.
Odion then concluded the meeting by ordering all his kinetic corruptors to be prepared for landing on Chelloa in order to harvest all the baradium. Due to the volatile nature of baradium, much of Chelloa would be destroyed and rendered uninhabitable. While gloating of his recent victory over the Jedi, particularly Master Treece, Odion suddenly sensed the presence of an intruder through the Force. In a fit of rage, he ripped apart the catwalk and discovered Holt. He engaged her in a duel. Kerra drew him into a pursuit. Kerra was also pursued by a mob of armed Gamorrean guards, followers of Odion who craved dying in combat. The fighting led the combatants through a series of catwalks to the upper levels of the Spike, the main structure supporting the various assembly lines.
In a verbal confrontation, Kerra told Odion that she had attacked him aboard his space station to drive him away from Chelloa thus saving the lives of thousands of sentients. She also revealed that Daiman's mobile munitions factories were bringing in thousands more slaves by the day. Odion shrugged away Holt's concerns for innocent lives, arguing that all sentients existed only to be killed by him. Due to his nihilistic philosophy, Odion saw himself as the destroyer of all life in the galaxy and embraced death. As he prepared to strike Holt down with his lightsaber, she played her final card by ordering the reprogrammed Gad-3 to open all containment fields, thus opening much of the space station to zero-gravity space. This triggered an explosion that wrecked large areas of The Spike, destroying many labor droids and killing many workers. Further destruction was averted after Jelcho reactivated the emergency shielding. As with all Givin, Jelcho had a tough exoskeleton that could seal all external orifices for protection against depressurization, allowing him to survive in hard vacuum.
In the midst of the chaos, Holt hijacked a construction shuttle, incapacitated the pilot and then fled into space. Meanwhile, Odion ordered his entourage back to his flagship Sword of Ieldis. Understanding his Jedi opponent, Odion knew that Holt would return to confront him. In an ensuing cat-and-mouse race in space, Holt's shuttle engaged Odion's gunship. Anticipating that Holt was going to ram her shuttle into his ship, he ordered his crew to open fire. However, the duel was interrupted by an incoming transmission from Lord Daiman.
Two Jedi comradesEdit
- "Disabling the baradium mines—that was Vannar's mission. Remember your mission—the one Vannar gave you before he died!"
"[…] Save the people! It was always part of Vannar's plan—sabotage, but also getting whatever locals he found out of harm's way!"
- ―Gorlan Palladane and Kerra Holt
In a live broadcast from his Chelloan headquarters, a furious Daiman revealed to Odion that he had seized and tortured his informant: Palladane. In response to the intelligence leakage, Daiman had ordered a military crackdown on all mining settlements on Chelloa with his troops razing and pillaging the homes of the Chelloan people. Witnessing the plight of her friend, Holt aborted her run by executing a quick jump into hyperspace. Holt succeeded in dissuading Odion from using his kinetic corruptors to destroy Chelloa by leaking intelligence on Daiman's mobile factories. Odion's Lightning Guard was assembled for a ground invasion beginning with the capture of Daiman's forges near the baradium mines. He also planned to conquer Chelloa and annex it for his interstellar principality—the Odionate.
Meanwhile, Holt returned to the mining settlement of Jenith to protect Palladane's family from Daiman's retribution. She arrived just in time to save the family of Gorlan Palladane from being harmed by a pair of Sith troopers. Learning of Palladane's incarceration, Holt hitchhiked a ride on one of Daiman's shuttles and infiltrated Daiman's complex, immobilized the Sith guards and freeing the prisoners. Kerra rescued the wounded Palladane from Daiman's dungeons. Gorlan revealed that his attempts to contact the Jedi with a transmitter had attracted the attention of Odion who had intercepted the interstellar transmission. Initially he had thought that Odion's attack was a coincidence until the death of Skodo at the hands of Daiman.
Sensing Palladane's noble intents, she comforted him by telling him that he was serving the interests of his people. Palladane also revealed that Odion was bringing a fleet of kinetic corruptors and that Daiman was preparing for a showdown with the rival Sith Lord. By this stage, Holt realized that her true mission was to evacuate the Chelloan people rather than seeking to eliminate the two Sith Lords Daiman and Odion. However, before departing with Palladane and the village leaders on their shuttle, she personally beheaded all of Daiman's statues as a gesture of defiance.
Later, Palladane, Holt and the other village leaders fled to a safehouse in the town of Arboth where he was reunited with his family. Meanwhile, Holt spied on the vast transports transporting workers to Daiman's mobile munitions plants and discovered they were empty. Coming to the conclusion that Daiman was not planning to invest more into his mining and industrial projects on Chelloa, she suggested to Palladane that they use the empty transports to evacuate the entire population of Chelloa: 60,000 sentients scattered across ten mining towns. Aware that Odion was planning to conquer Chelloa, Daiman had allowed Holt to escape to Odion and thus leak intelligence on the mobile munitions plants. Odion planned to utilize the factories for his own goal of defeating Daiman's faction. Seeking to aid a fellow Jedi in what he regarded as a noble endeavor, Palladane offered his services to Holt and reactivated his lightsaber, signifying his re-commitment to the Jedi cause.
Escaping the apocalypseEdit
- "Sorry, Odion—but this flight's fully booked. You'll have to wait for the next one!"
- ―Kerra Holt
Meanwhile, Lord Odion invaded Chelloa with a planetary assault force consisting of elite Lightning Guards. Following his earlier duel with Holt, Odion had been dissuaded from his plan to destroy Chelloa with his kinetic corruptors with intelligence that Daiman was expanding baradium mining operations with mobile munitions complexes. Desiring an industrial base for his war effort, Odion changed his plans to capturing these factories. However, this played into Daiman's plan to eliminate both the Jedi and his estranged brother. In reality, the mobile factories were actually disguised Kinetic Corruptors which would incinerate Odion's forces while destroying Chelloa's surface, rendering it uninhabitable. As planned, Odion's forces descended on the surface and overwhelmed a poorly-trained detachment of Daimanate troops. They arrived at the pyramidal factories only to discover too late that they were actually Kinetic corruptors. The corruptors initiated an explosion which ignited the volatile gases beneath Chelloa's surface, killing many Odionate and Daimanate combatants alike. Meanwhile, Daiman and his forces made preparations to escape using a fleet of transport ships.
With Daiman preoccupied, Holt and Palladane organized a mass evacuation of Chelloa's people by organizing the villagers into teams. These teams infiltrated the spaceport at Arboth and seized control of the transport fleet, overpowering the crew and guards. By the end of the battle, they had managed to evacuate most of Chelloa's population on a hastily-assembled fleet known as the Freedom Fleet. Facing death from lava flows triggered by the kinetic corruptors, Odion and his surviving troops fled for Daiman's transports at Arboth but were prevented from boarding by Kerra and Gorlan. Having achieved their objective and with all teams safely aboard, the Freedom Fleet departed into space.
Meanwhile, Holt confronted Odion, taunting him that he had missed the "flight" and daring him to finish their duel. This escalated into a heated lightsaber pursuit in the upper atmosphere above Chelloa. The Jedi Knight commandeered an airspeeder while her Sith opponent donned a jetpack. Kerra managed to reach one of the ascending cargo liners but Odion caught up with her. He taunted her by telling her he savored the killings on Aquilaris to provoke her into attacking him. However, this duel was interrupted by Gorlan who opened one of the entry hatches while fastened to a cable. Armed with a lightsaber, Palladane took on the Sith Lord and drove him to the engine thrusters, expressing his desire for retribution. During the confrontation, both men were severely burnt but Odion managed to escape because of his jetpack.
Mortally wounded, Palladane crawled back up to the entry hatch with the assistance of Holt. In his last moments, Palladane commented that Kerra was dying for the wrong thing while he himself was living for the wrong thing. Kerra promised to bring the Chelloan people back into Republic space but Palladane reminded her they were now her people and that she had a responsibility to save billions of other sentients living under Sith domination. She took this to heart and formulated a new mission: stay in Sith space and save as many people as she could.
Undercover in DarkknellEdit
- "Jedi?... You're her, aren't you? You're Kerra Holt."
- ―Nark's first encounter with Kerra
After seeing the Freedom Fleet off in the direction of Republic space, Kerra made her way to Daiman's throne world, Darkknell, disguised as an itinerant worker. On her weeks-long journey, she made stops at several planets with munitions and weapons factories, which she sabotaged. On one such world, Nilash III, she liberated the slave workers and sent Daiman a symbolically powerful message by cutting the heads off of statues of himself he had had erected there.
Following the events in Chelloa and Nilash III, Kerra would return to the Grumani sector to wage her campaign against the Sith warlords. Due to her actions, Kerra eventually attracted the attention of the Sith Lord Vilia Calimondra, the matriarch of the Calimondra family and the de facto manager of the Sith principalities within that part of the Outer Rim. Kerra would focus most of her attention on Daiman and Odion, the self-styled Creator and Destroyer of the universe. The Jedi Knight Errant infiltrated Darkknell, the capital of Daiman's princedom. Daiman resided in the planet's largest city Xakrea at a large fortress called Sanctum Celestial, which had been built with much labor and resources. At Xakrea, Kerra found a job as an itinerant laborer and part-time tutor at the home of the Sullustan Gub Tengo, a reclusive scribe and the grandfather of Tan Tengo, a twelve year old Sullustan girl. Since Gub was too preoccupied with altering documents to make them conform with the new Daimanite alphabet, he delegated the tasks of educating his granddaughter to Kerra.
Kerra's job as a tutor was actually a cover for her plans to destroy the Daimanate Dynamic Testing Facility or "Black Fang", Daiman's premier research think tank for his war effort. The Jedi hoped to undermine Daiman's war effort and thus save millions more from being subject to Sith invasion. While doing reconnaissance work on the site, Kerra discovered the presence of another foreign agent: the Bothan spy Narsk Ka'hane, an Odionate mercenary who was secretly working for Vilia Calimondra. Narsk had worked as an intelligence operative for several Sith employers including Odion. He had been ordered by Odion to gather intelligence on Daiman's starship, Convergence, which was under construction at the Black Fang facility, and, subsequently, to destroy the ship.
Using a Cyricept Personal Concealment System, Mark VI stealth suit, Narsk infiltrated the testing facility and downloaded the Convergence's technical readouts onto a datapad. Leaving several baradium thermal charges with the ship, Narsk left the facility. However, he was spotted by Kerra, who had found out about his routine since he always used the same reform to store and change into his stealth suit. Kerra hoped to obtain the Mark VI for her own use against Daiman. After a chase through the streets of the Xakrea, Holt incapacitated Narsk and activated his remote detonator, which destroyed of the testing facility. After a verbal confrontation with the Bothan, Kerra stole Narsk's Mark VI and detonator. She then left the Bothan in a garbage bin, where he was captured by Daiman's police, the Correctors.
Following a mission, Kerra walked back to the Tengo household. Along the way, she passed by a large holographic statue of Daiman that was ringed by seven smaller status. Daiman's holographic figure provided a source of news and indoctrination for his subjects. Kerra noted that Daiman's practice of erecting holographic displays helped perpetuate the myth that he was omnipresent and controlled all the weather patterns. Her pursuit of the Bothan had took her to Manufacturers' District, which meant that Kerra had to walk by the destroyed Black Fang facility on her way home. On the way back, she walked pass four of Daiman's sentries, one of whom had been badly burnt during the explosion and was subsequently put of his misery by his three colleagues. With the stolen Mark IV stealth suit, Kerra was ready for the second phase of her mission: assassinating Daiman.
Upon arriving back at the Tengo household, Kerra hid the stealth suit in the same bedroom that she shared with Tan. She was confronted by Gub who then asked about her whereabouts the night before. Kerra then claimed that she had been working at the munitions factory during the wraith-watch shift, the one shift with no daylight whatever the season. Since Darkknell sharply tilted on its axis during the winter solstice, it became the pitch-black third of the daily 24-hour cycle. However, the Sullustan grandfather countered that was a lie because one of her colleagues had contacted them, asking her to come to work in the morning. Gub reminded her that this was not the first instance she had disappeared for the night. Kerra then claimed that she had been having a romantic date and promised that she would not allow it to happen again. Gub accepted her apology and reiterated that she had a contract to tutor his granddaughter Tan after she had finished her work.
Due to Kerra's hectic work pattern, she had insufficient time to sleep. Meanwhile, Narsk was captured by Daiman's Correctors and tortured by the Sith Lord. While he admitted that he had been a spy and had a hand in destroying the Black Fang facility, he refused to divulge his true employer. However, Daiman suspected that his brother Odion had a hand in the destruction of Black Fang and concocted a scheme to lure him into a trap. This would involve purchasing an arxeum, a mobile university dedicated to the science of war, from the Ayanos Bactra, a Quermian Sith Lord who ruled the Bactranate and owned lucrative corporate assets. Daiman had recently allowed one of Bactra's corporations, Industrial Heuristics, to recruit students from Darkknell and elsewhere in his territory—known as the Daimanate—in exchange for the fruits of the students' research. Daiman would arrange for the business exchange to occur on the volcanic planet Gazzari, setting a bait for Odion. Daiman's fleet would then emerge from hyperspace, trapping Odion on Gazzari.
Kerra got wind of Daiman's secret plot when the Gran Ler-Laar Joom and the Ishi Tib Eraffa —two representatives from Industrial Heuristics visited the Tengo household. These talent scouts were recruiting youth from throughout the Daimanate as prospective students at Daiman's new arxeum. Tan drew the notice of these corporate talent scouts due to her technical expertise at salvaging old electronics and mathematical talent. They promised the Sullustan girl a better life where she would be trained to develop a new generation of bombsights for the Daimanite war effort. Due to her impoverished lifestyle and poor job prospects on Darkknell, Tan was elated at the offer, viewing it as an opportunity to a better life. For the children and youths conscripted into this project, this involved traveling to a new home and long-term separation from their families.
With Tan flying the coop, her grandfather Gub no longer needed Kerra's services as a tutor and told her to leave. This enabled Kerra to proceed with her mission of killing Daiman. For her mission to the Sanctum Celestial, Kerra would don her newly acquired Mark IV stealth suit. She infiltrated the fortress where Daiman had convened a holo-meeting with Bactra to discuss the sale of the arxeum and their planned rendezvous at Gazzari. Daiman also had Narsk present at the meeting albeit restrained within a torture wheel so that he could eavesdrop on the meeting and then report back to his employer, who would take the bait and enter his trap on Gazzari. In return for the arxeum, Daiman would provide Bactra with the students while granting the Sith Lord's fleet safe passage through the Daimanate to strike at Vellas Pavo, a gadolinium-rich planet. Bactra agreed to deliver the arxeum to Gazzari on the frontier of Daiman's border with the Odionate.
Kerra witnessed these proceedings and then sneaked out of the auditorium, narrowly avoiding detection from both Narsk and Daiman. Following the meeting, Narsk was brought to a secluded maintenance unit where he encountered Kerra. As part of the trap, Daiman ordered his Gamorrean guards to loosen Narsk's bonds, so that he could escape. When Narsk asked Kerra if she had come to return his stolen property, Kerra replied that depended on what information the Bothan told her and how quickly he disclosed it. Narsk agreed to trade the information in return for his freedom, stressing that he was not in the business of helping Jedi. Narsk quickly revealed that Daiman was going to Gazzari on his flagship. When Kerra inquired whether this trip was connected to Daiman's dealings with Bactra, Narsk only agreed to disclose this information once she had moved his gyroscopic torture wheel outside. Upon arriving outside the Sanctum Celestial, Narsk reneged on his earlier agreement by demanding that she take him in exchange for him revealing the information; adding that his life was in danger because he had made an enemy in Daiman.
However, Kerra refused to cooperate since she did not work with the Sith nor with their collaborators. After taunting Narsk about his slim chances of survival down the chute, Kerra pushed the captive Bothan and his torture wheel down a long stone trough leading downwards from Daiman's palace. However, Narsk survived this fall and emerged in a junkyard. Narsk also managed to reach a spaceport where he found offworld transport on a freighter heading to a neutral planet in the Grumani sector, which was a regular destination for visitors from the Odionate. After two standard days, Narsk found his way back to the Odionate. There he informed Odion about Daiman's deal with Bactra. Most importantly, he also alerted his master to the Jedi Knight Kerra's presence, which interested Odion since he desired revenge against the Jedi woman for seriously wounding him on Chelloa.
As part of his trap, Daiman also invited several mercenaries to the Sanctum Celestial to help him execute the ambush. Among them were the Brigadier Jarrow Rusher, Mak Medagazy, Kr'saang the Togorian, and a Nosaurian mercenary. After his meeting with Bactra, Daiman hired the mercenaries and directed them to Gazzari, where they were to deploy their forces and await the arrival of Odion. The mercenaries departed for Gazzari, as did Daiman, unaware that the Jedi Holt, who was in possession of several baradium nitrate charges stolen from Darkknell, had stowed aboard his ship, the Era Daimanos, with the intention of assassinating the Sith Lord. Holt, however, was unable to locate Daiman aboard the ship during its journey to Gazzari.
The Gazzari deceptionEdit
- "You lost your thingie [lightsaber]. Are you—are you a Jedi?"
"Yeah. I think so."
- ―Tan Tengo's reunion with Kerra on Gazzara
Upon reaching Gazzari, Kerra Holt left the Era Daimanos and shed her Mark VI, which had become useless due to the planet's volcanic ash that clung to the suit. Carrying the baradium nitrate in a bandolier she had taken from Ka'hane on Darkknell, Holt made her way toward Daiman's command dome, planning to use the baradium and the remote detonator to kill him. She was spotted by a Nautolan trooper, but quickly killed him by suffocating the trooper with his own head tendril. She picked up the trooper's rifle and reached the command dome, where she heard Daiman speaking with his aide, Uleeta. Before Holt could detonate the explosives, however, four transports from Industrial Heuristics arrived and descended into the crater. Within a few moments, the arxeum set down a kilometer to the east of the transports. The transports lowered their landing ramps, and the young students inside them poured out, making their way toward the arxeum. Holt, realizing that the students were being used as bait, resolved to protect them. Cutting down two Daimanite troopers with her lightsaber, she ran toward the students in the valley, but was hindered by a stinging pain in her heart, caused by the arrival of Lord Odion in the system.
Odion had arrived aboard his flagship Sword of Ieldis and was accompanied by Narsh and his Givin navigator Jelcho, whom Kerra had also encountered earlier on Chelloa. Although they saw no trace of Daiman's fleet in the system, they did spot about a dozen of Bactra's ships near Gazzari's sun, where they could observe the events on the planet from a safe distance. Although Odion knew that Bactra had just delivered the arxeum, he ordered his fleet not to fire on the Quermian's forces. Instead, his flotilla—which consisted of a quarter of his home fleet—formed an orbital perimeter around the planet and awaited the arrival of his most important weapon, a massive siege tower called the Death Spiral. Once the Death Spiral exited hyperspace behind Odion's fleet, the Sith Lord ordered his Thunder Guard units to their transports. He then boarded his own transport, ordering Jelcho and Ka'hane to come with him.
During the fighting, the Death Spiral inflicted heavy casualties on Daiman's mercenary forces including Rusher's Brigade who would lose most of his troops. Faced with heavy casualties, Rusher ordered a general retreat, using the battalions on either side of the Diligence to protect the ship and the forces returning to it. As planned, the Industrial Heuristics transports carrying the students and the arxeum arrived. The Death Spiral landed between the transports and the arxeum. During the fighting, the arxeum was badly damaged while Daiman's mercenaries tried unsuccessfully to destroy the Death Spiral. Once Odion's ground forces had landed, Daiman's fleet made the hyperspace jump to Gazzari, hoping to trap Odion's forces in the system. On the surface, the members of Odion's Thunder Guard—many on speeder bikes—engaged Medagazy's battle droids, which were charging the valley from the east. Three members of the Thunder Guard on speeder bikes broke off to engage Holt, who was still trying to reach the students. Holt killed the three troopers and hijacked one of the speeder bikes, using it to reach the students. She shepherded them toward the arxeum, where they could use its massive body for cover from the Death Spiral.
Meanwhile, Narsk received a signal from his true master, Vilia Calimondra. The Sith Lord wished for her grandsons to unite against Bactra, who was still observing the battle from space, and she ordered Ka'hane to deliver her message to them. However, the Bothan's comlink was not working due to his proximity to the Death Spiral's energy shield. He managed to convince Jelcho, who was guarding him, to join the fight against Odion while he headed south of the Death Spiral where he hoped to get better reception. However, he waited to deliver the message, as both Odion and Daiman were on the battlefield, approaching each other and preparing for a duel. With both Sith Lords engrossed in the battle, Ka'hane found it unlikely either of them would receive his message.
While trying to lead the students to safety, Holt felt the subconscious suicidal effects of Odion's presence. As she leaped off her speeder bike to impale one of Odion's Vodran troopers, she noticed Daiman's command dome, untouched beneath its raised energy shield. Believing she had left the baradium nitrate just outside the dome, Holt prepared to detonate it, unaware that the bandolier was still slung over her shoulder. She was saved by Tan, the Sullustan student from Darkknell, who distracted Holt and prevented her from detonating the explosives. Holt, suddenly realizing that the bandolier was on her shoulder, saw a speeder bike flying toward her, piloted by Jelcho. Standing her ground, Holt used the Force to telekinetically push the bike to the ground and then knocked the Givin unconscious.
Using her bandolier to secure Jelcho to the bike, Holt jammed the bike's accelerator and sent it flying into the speeder bays of the Death Spiral. Once the explosives were inside the speeder bays, Holt set off the explosives using the detonator she had stolen from Ka'hane, destroying the siege tower. She then led the students to the east, where the laser fire from the Death Spiral had created a path to the top of the ridge. Climbing to the top, Holt encountered Jarrow Rusher and the remnants of his brigade, whose members were now loading their weaponry onto the Diligence. After a lengthy argument, Holt convinced Rusher—who had already lost five-sixths of his forces;to allow her student refugees aboard his ship.
After the destruction of the Death Spiral, Ka'hane was able to deliver Calimondra's message to Odion and Daiman. The two warring Sith factions quickly abandoned their fighting and turned on Bactra's ships, destroying half of the Quermian's flotilla in under a minute. Amidst the fighting, the Diligence, carrying Rusher, Holt, and the arxeum students, made for space. Nevertheless, the Diligence survived the onslaught as Bactra's forces fled to hyperspace, and Daiman and Odion ordered their fleets to invade the planet Jutrand, Bactra's capital. As the forces of all three Sith Lords made for Jutrand, the Diligence, too damaged to continue fighting and carrying over a thousand students seeking refuge from the battle, fled into hyperspace, making six jumps to evade any pursuers.
- "No Sith on my ship!"
"Do I look Sith to you?"
"You look crazy. That's enough!"
- ―Jarrow Rusher's first encounter with Kerra
The voyage to Byllura would last several days and would be remembered by both Kerra and Rusher as a stressful and unpleasant experience. Rusher initially disliked Kerra as a crazy Jedi "knight errant" who roamed Sith Space saving students. Most importantly, he regarded Kerra and her refugees as an unnecessary burden that hampered his mercenary operations. Rusher wanted to fly to another location where he could drop off the refugees as quickly as possible. Rusher could then make repairs to the Diligence while their ammunition and munitions stocks could be replenished. Due to the heavy losses on Gazzari, Rusher also needed to recruit more mercenaries.
A headcount by Rusher's shipmaster Ryland Dackett confirmed that there was a total of 1,717 individuals. Meanwhile, only 560 of Rusher's original crew of three thousand had survived and were reduced to two battalion-sized units: Team Ripper and Team Zhaboka. The large number of student refugees aboard the Diligence created a serious overcrowding problem since there were insufficient facilities and beds to accommodate all the refugees. Rusher was too exhausted by the battle to deal with these problems, leaving Kerra and his new Duros recruit Beadle Lubboon to manage the problem alone.
Most of the crew were hostile and indifferent towards the newcomers. Thus, Kerra was forced to recruit some of the older students to help attend to the younger refugees' needs. Kerra's problems were compounded by the lack of adequate numbers of refreshers since the former liner had been designed for male Devaronians. The diverse interspecies mix of the student body also proved volatile due to the vast physiological and cultural differences between individuals from different species. Unknown to Kerra, Vilia was able to monitor her whereabouts through her stolen Mark IV stealth suit since it was connected to an embedded information system.
During the journey, Kerra approached the shipmaster Ryland Dackett at the solarium with a list of demands for the refugees. The shipmaster listened and then offered to go into Rusher's cabin and smooth the way for her. During Dackett's private meeting with Rusher, the two men talked about the acute shortage of beds created by the refugee problem. While the Diligence still had enough food stocks, supplies were running low and Dackett stressed that even rationing would not work due to the large number of refugees. Unlike other mercenaries, the students had nothing to give to augment the existing stocks aboard the ship. Both men agreed that they needed to find a place to dump the refugees, with Rusher toying with the ideas of releasing them through the airlock or poisoning them. Finally, Dackett then emphasized the growing tensions between the members of Rusher's Brigade and the newcomers.
At that point, Kerra entered Rusher's cabin and repeated her demands and concerns to Rusher himself. Annoyed at the Jedi's requests, Rusher excused himself to the refresher in the adjacent room on the pretext that he needed to relieve himself. However, the refresher was actually a service accessway leading to a ladder which eventually led to a wardroom. For the next three hours, Rusher entertained his own men by retelling a story about an old battle. When Kerra found out about his ruse, she confronted him while wielding his walking stick. During a walk in the corridors, Rusher asked her about her business in Sith Space and she talked about her work under her Jedi Master Vannar Treece. As Kerra explained her Jedi work in Sith Space, Rusher became more sympathetic towards her cause. In returned, he shared more details about his the Diligence.
Getting back to business, the two talked about the refugee problem. She criticized his willingness to get rid of the passengers and expressed her distrust about someone who had worked for the Sith. Rusher retorted that he had no one to work for ever since the Republic had closed all their branch offices in the Outer Rim. Rusher also revealed that the Diligence had made six hyperspace jumps since their departure from Gazzari but had not found a single suitable port. Kerra also expressed her concerns that Daiman had wanted the children for his "military-industrial brain trust" and that he would still be looking for them. In response, Rusher retorted that Daiman was too preoccupied with fighting Odion to be bothered with the children.
An exasperated Kerra asked whether they could just go to the Republic. Rusher then asked his Mon Calamari navigator Ishel about traveling to the Republic. While there was a lane to Daiman's transport center near Chelloa, Kerra ruled out that option since she wanted to avoid Sith Space at all costs. Since the Republic had shut down all subspace communications relays in Sith Space, there was a lack of reliable information on safe hyperspace routes throughout much of the galaxy. After reading through a list of hyperspace routes listed in a holographic display, Rusher found one leading to Byllura, a purportedly unaligned planet. Kerra was initially resistant to that idea since Byllura was situated farther away from the Republic than Gazzari and there were unconfirmed reports that it was controlled by a Sith domain known as the Dyarchy. However, Rusher responded that they had little choice.
A false paradiseEdit
- "Hey, Sith! Yeah, that's right! I don't want to go to work! Come and get me!"
- ―Kerra Holt and the Dyarchy's Unifiers
While there was little extant information about the political situation in Byllura, there were rumors that Byllura was a Sith principality ruled by children with a regent running the realm on their behalf. According to one of Rusher's friends who had visited the planet, they had been in power for at least five years. As it turned out, these rumors proved to be true. Byllura was the main territory of the Dyarchy, a Sith realm that was the home of Quillan and Dromika, the younger children of the late Chagras, the former ruler of the Chagras Hegemony. These two Sith twins had a powerful affinity with the Force; with Quillan having a powerful farsight ability while Dromika could send out strong hypnotic commands that would compel other sentients to do her bidding. Under the guidance of their Regent Saaj Calician, the twins had used their Force abilities and a network of enslaved Celegians to directly impose their will on the inhabitants of the Dyarchy, turning their subjects into thralls.
As the Diligence entered into the atmosphere above Byllura's capital city Hestobyll, Kerra and Jarrow were relieved to encounter no resistance. Rusher was granted permission to land via commset by an unidentified individual dubbed "Deep Voice", who was actually the Celegian "One". Upon arriving at their allocated hangar platform, they were surprised to find that there was no welcoming party. Believing Byllura to be a safe destination free of any Sith presence, an optimistic Jarrow ordered the crew to deploy its cargo ramps to allow the refugees to disembark. Jarrow attempted to lead the refugees out but was stopped by Kerra, who reiterated that she needed to check out the place first, adding that it had to be a proper reconnaissance probe of the surrounding city rather than simply observing the surrounding platform area.
This sparked an argument between the young Jedi Knight and the Brigadier. Citing a datapad entry on Byllura, Jarrow tried to argue that there was adequate shelter for the refugees in Hestobyll city and that there was no sign of danger. Kerra responded by arguing that they had little intelligence on who actually controlled Byllura, and angrily accused Jarrow of not caring for the refugees. In return, Jarrow argued that the refugees were an inconvenient dead weight. In the end, the two reached a compromise when Kerra managed to get Jarrow to give her one hour to do a proper recon probe of Hestobyll in return for returning the refugees onboard the Diligence.
However, these developments were being sensed by the enslaved Celegian "One" who had transmitted the information back to Calician. While Calician was aware that the ship's captain had indicated a readiness to off-load his passengers on Byllura, he became suspicious about a potential threat to the Dyarchy when an unidentified person (later revealed to be Kerra) got the student refugees to reboard the ship. Calician suspected that this was a Daimanate trick and quickly dispatched a contingent of Unifiers to investigate the Diligence under direct orders from Dromika, who was in turn being telepathically controlled by her twin brother Quillan. Still, Calician regarded the arrival of the Diligence as an opportunity to hasten his plans for galactic domination, beginning with several of Daiman's unguarded systems. He then made orders for the Dyarchy Fleet to be prepared for departure into hyperspace.
While Kerra conducted her reconnaissance probe of Hestobyll, Rusher stayed aboard the ship. Despite Rusher's orders that the passengers remain on the vessel, the Sullustan girl Tan sneaked out of the ship, determined to follow Kerra who she idolized. In response, Rusher sent the Duros Lubboon to bring her back. During her reconnaissance probe of Hestobyll, Kerra encountered individuals of various species including Duros, Caamasi, Ithorians, and Sullustans who all ignored her. When Kerra tried to make contact with an Ithorian man and an elderly Duros couple, they only responded with mute indifference. At that point, Jarrow contacted her via comlink to inform her that they had received another transmission from "Deep Voice" on the commset that the Byllurans had seen the refugees on the platform and were sending people to help with their situation. The refugees would supposedly be "directed to a center for assigning quarters."
Being aware about Sith relocation practices, Kerra expressed surprised that the local authorities had gotten wind to their predicament and warned Jarrow to be careful since they were in an unfamiliar place. Kerra's situation was further complicated when she found out that she was being tailed by the Tan, who in turn was being followed by Lubboon. The three then headed towards a nearby crowd heading for a massive hexagonal silo. Kerra encountered a Duros man and quickly discerned that Byllura was being controlled by Sith who were directly imposing their will on all its inhabitants. Before she could contact Rusher by comlink, she sensed an alien entity ordering the crowd of Dyarchy Fleet workers to commence loading operation and to deliver the Celegians to their assigned vessels.
Immediately, Kerra witnessed the crowd surging towards the hexagonal complex. In the unfolding confusion, Tan and Beadle became separated from her within the crowd. At that moment, several red-clad Force-sensitive enforcers known as Unifiers, which she dubbed "Scarlet Riders", arrived at the scene. When Kerra witnessed the same Ithorian she had encountered earlier echoing the same commandments uttered by the Unifiers, she quickly realized that the planet was being controlled through mental manipulations by unidentified Force-users. The Celegians formed a telepathic network which relayed these commands while the scarlet Unifiers were enforcing their rules by using Force persuasion. Meanwhile, Beadle and Tan were quickly captured by the Unifiers who took them aboard one of their airspeeders.
In the lair of the twinsEdit
- "You will destroy the Jedi [Kerra]! You will destroy the Jedi!"
"Yes—I will destroy the Jedi! Not you! Me! Release me! You will release me!"
- ―Dromika and Saaj Calician dealing with Kerra
Attempting to save Tan and Lubboon from Sith captivity, Kerra ignited her lightsaber and fought the Unifiers, killing several of them in the ensuing melee. She then pursued the scarlet Unifiers through the streets of Hestobyll, commandeering an airspeeder. Kerra also managed to warn Rusher in time to bring most of the refugees back aboard the Diligence, minutes ahead of the arrival of another party of Unifiers dispatched to the spaceport. The Unifiers captured several members of Rusher's crew including shipmaster Dackett and Prenda Novallo who had been making external repairs to the ship on the landing platform. However, Rusher and the crew managed to fight off the attackers. After wiping out the Scarlet Riders, he then rescued his captured crew. With the Dyarchy's fleet lifting into space from their underwater hangar bays beneath Hestobyll's reflection pools, Rusher ordered the Diligence out to sea and away from the chaos.
Meanwhile, Kerra pursued the scarlet Unifiers through the streets of Hestobyll, even hijacking an airspeeder. During an aerial dogfight, she rammed into an airspeeder piloted by a Rodian Unifier, which led to a fist-fight where the latter was thrown to his death in the streets below. During this melee, Kerra sensed that Rodian did not know actually know how to operate an airspeeder but was being directed and controlled by an unknown force. Her pursuit eventually took to The Loft, a mushroom-shaped retreat situated at the top of a mesa opposite the harbor. During the flight, Kerra noticed that a network of Celegians were situated at strategic junctures stretching from the Loft to the city, forming an unbroken telepathic communication network that was used to mentally subjugate the Bylluran population through Force suggestions.
Meanwhile, Calician learnt of Kerra's presence through his telepathic network. The twins viewed Holt as a threat and they ordered the Krevaaki to protect them, then took direct control of his mind via the Force. Using her hijacked airspeeder, Holt infiltrated The Loft's airspeeder hangar bay. She then made her way to chamber in which One was held, where she persuaded the aged Celegian to stop sending messages on behalf of the Dyarchy, placing the communications network into disarray. She also ordered One to send Tan and Beadle to the hangar so that they could be picked up later. Under the influence of the twins, Calician headed to One's chamber and attacked Holt, with six lightsaber-batons, which he twirled from his tentacles. He threw himself at her in a nihilistic fury, driven by the influence of the twins, and he came close to rupturing One's tank, which would have released a poisonous gas and killed both him and Holt.
He regained some control over his body, but Holt was able to outwit him and singe his facial tentacles, then slice off one of his limbs from his middle carapace. He felt no pain, due to the influence of the twins, and realized that Holt was too strong for him to defeat, because his withered mind could not access his memories of how to fight Jedi while it was being dulled by Dromika's mental manipulations. He therefore stopped fighting and offered to take Holt to the twins who were housed in a penthouse at the top of the Loft, and she accepted his proposal. On their arrival in the twin's quarters, several nanny droids hurled themselves at Calician and Holt, in an attempt to defend the twins.
However, Holt swept them away, and Calician introduced her to the twins. Using the Force, Dromika pinned Holt down and compelled Calician to bring his blade to bear against the Jedi. Calician resisted, because he wanted to be given the chance to fight Holt by himself, free of the twins' mental influences, and while he and Dromika were briefly distracted, Holt broke free and severed one of Calician's leg tentacles.She then engaged the twins in a mental battle of using telepathy to hurl objects across the room. During the fighting, Kerra quickly realized that Quillan was using his sister Dromika as a puppet to carry out his bidding.
The ensuing duel was interrupted by the arrival of the Diligence which used its heavy frontal gun emplacement to breach the penthouse's windows. Rusher had already picked up Tan and Beadle who had escaped on an airspeeder from the palace's hangar bay. In the ensuing chaos, Kerra kidnapped Quillan and brought him onboard the Diligence, fleeing an enraged Dromika who had by then picked up one of Calician's lightsabers. Once aboard the Diligence, Quillan descended into an infantile tantrum since he was unable to sense his sister through the Force. Meanwhile, a distraught Dromika fell into a comatose state since she could not discern between a physical presence and a Force emanation. Rusher was initially angry with Kerra for bringing a Sith aboard, albeit an adolescent, due to his strict maxim of not taking any Sith Lords as passengers.
The capture of Quillan and the incapacitation of Dromika would have enormous ramifications for the Dyarchy on Byllura. Bereft of its twin rulers, the highly-centralized fiefdom rapidly disintegrated into anarchy. Meanwhile, the other Celegians on Byllura followed One's example and refused to send telepathic messages, leading to a breakdown of the entire telepathic network. Their rebellion made it impossible to co-ordinate the Dyarchy's manufacturing efforts and led to explosions in the world's major construction facilities, destroying several battleships in dry dock. With the end of the Dyarchy's telepathic network, the population emerged from their mentally-induced thralldom and quickly reclaimed their former cognizance and autonomy. Riots quickly broke out across Byllura's major centers including Hestobyll as the inhabitants vented out their fury on the old order.
Calician quickly rushed to The Loft's communications center and he sent a transmission to Dilligence, to learn if Quillan was still alive. With Dromika still in a coma, Calician tried to get Kerra to kill Quillan in revenge for the slavery he had endured under the latter. In return, Kerra also got Calician to free the remaining Celegians. As the Diligence exited Byllura's upper atmosphere, the Dyarchy was invaded by a fleet of Arkadianate warships led by their older sibling and Sith Lord Arkadia Calimondra. Arkadia's warfleet quickly neutralized the Dyarchy's battleships and also captured the Diligence in their tractor beam projector. Ultimately, Byllura fell and the Dyarchy was subsumed into Arkadia's territories.
Guests of the Ice QueenEdit
- "Hold it. Look, what ever the boy once was—he isn't now. I saw what your people did to the Dyarchy ships. I know he was a rival. But he's not a threat to you now. You don't have to kill him."
"Kill him? Of course, I'm not going to kill him! I'm his sister"
- ―Kerra and Arkadia Calimondra discussing Lord Quillan's situation
Unknown to Kerra and Rusher, Vilia had been able to monitor their movements due to Narsk's stolen Mark IV suit. Knowing that they were heading towards Byllura, she had reassigned the Bothan spy to work for her granddaughter Arkadia. Narsk would be present during the Arkadianate's occupation of Hestobyll and observed the execution of Calician, who accepted his end peaceful. The Sith Lord had planned to annex Byllura as a means of eliminating the minuscule Dyarchy. She also purported to care for the welfare of her younger siblings Quillan and Dromika, and officially maintained that she had come to overthrow the tyranny of Lord Calician and to integrate the Byllurans into her "enlightened" Arkadianate. Unlike other Sith Lords, Arkadia invested heavily into social spending on her citizens and professed to care for their welfare. She also implemented universal education through a system of schools called Promisoriums and a policy of frequently rotating her citizens through different jobs to give them wider experience.
Upon arriving within the Byllura system, Arkadia immediately contacted Kerra and Rusher, offering to help them and providing them with coordinates to her capital world of Syned, a remote icy world within the margins of the Grumani sector. Unlike her previous experiences with the Sith, Arkadia was warm and hospitable towards Kerra and Rusher. Kerra personally admired some of the Sith Lord's personal attributes including her frank openness and rational outlook. Still, she noted that Arkadia was the warlord of yet another eponymous empire, a Sith tradition within the Grumani sector where the various warlords named their empires after themselves. Most importantly, Kerra still distrusted the Sith woman despite her friendly outreach towards them due to the ancient animosity between the two Force-using groups. During the trip to Syned, Kerra criticized Rusher for accepting Arkadia's offer and argued that they could have dropped out of hyperspace in the middle of the journey.
Rusher was unmoved and argued that dropping out of hyperspace prematurely could have caused a collision with Arkadia's flagship New Crucible. He also reminded Kerra that she had to get used to the fact that there was no place within the Grumani sector that was not run by some kind of Sith. Finally, Rusher stressed that they should be patient and check the Arkadianate out before judging the place. Upon entering Syned's atmosphere, they passed two tractor beam generators in orbit before disembarking at the spaceport on the outskirts of Calimondretta, an underground city which served as Syned's main settlement and Arkadia's headquarters. After donning space suits due to Syned's thin atmosphere, the two parties met on the icy surface.
During this meeting, Arkadia was warm and hospitable towards her guests and offered to give shelter for the refugees aboard the Diligence. She also requested that Lord Quillan of Byllura be handed over to her custody. Kerra was initially apprehensive until Arkadia revealed that Quillan was her brother and professed to care for the well-being of her younger brother. Kerra and Rusher quickly produced Quillan, who remained in a semi-catatonic state, and was accompanied by the teenage Sullustan girl Tan Tengo and the Duros mercenary Lubboon. Arkadia then took her visitors on a tour of her capital city Calimondretta. Syned had been recently colonized and Arkadia's city had been built within a series of connected ice calderas.
Compared to other Sith worlds like Darkknell and Byllura, Calimondretta and its citizens appeared to be more affluent and cleaner. During the tour, Arkadia praised her guests for "making history" by helping her to bring about the defeat of the Dyarchy. She complimented Kerra by remarking that she was a destabilizing factor wherever she went in Sith Space. She also attributed her recent victory to its leader Quillan's dependence on using a physical linkage to maintain his power, since that linkage could be attacked. While touring Calimondretta's streets, Kerra also had a brief reunion with the Bothan spy Narsk Ka'hane, whom she had overpowered and subsequently helped to escape during an earlier mission to Darkknell, the capital of the Daimanate.
Kerra and Rusher learnt that Narsk was an independent operator who had been working for several different Sith Lords, and that he was "currently" working for Arkadia. Narsk also gave a brief report of the ongoing Arkadianate occupation of Byllura. He also revealed that Quillan's twin Dromika still remained on her mountain top home but was now under Arkadianate custody. Arkadia remarked that she had arranged for the twins to be separated permanently due to the strong Force connection between them. With Dromika free from the domination of her twin brother Quillan, Arkadia expressed her hope that she could now have a better life. Arkadia also justified the execution of Regent Calician on the basis that he had been the mastermind who manipulated Quillan and Dromika to further his own grandiose ambitions of galactic domination.
Arkadia complimented Kerra for inadvertently helping the Arkadianate cause by being a destabilizing force wherever she went in Sith Space. Meanwhile, Narsk demanded that Kerra return his Mark IV stealth suit. However, Kerra mentioned that the suit was in the custody of Tan while Rusher assured the Bothan that he could retrieve his suit after they had transported the students to Arkadia's capital. Arkadia then sent Kerra on a tour of Calimondretta with the Herglic tour guide Seese, hoping to win her over. From Seese, Kerra would learn about the nature of daily life within the Arkadianate. While she liked Arkadia's socially progressive policies and the absence of violent coercion within her domain, Kerra felt uncomfortable about the former's policies of rotating people through different occupations throughout their lives. Meanwhile, the Sullustan student Tan was completely bought over by Arkadia's charismatic personality and "utopian" society particularly its well-run Promisoriums. Due to her impoverished background growing up in the Daimanate, Tan had little exposure to other parts of the galaxy. At one point, the teenaged Sullustan gave Arkadia a hug, which pleased the Sith Lord but caused Kerra to wince.
Arkadia saw this as an opportunity to promote a favorable image of her realm by inviting Tan to tell her friends aboard the Diligence about the supposedly 'good life' waiting for them in the Arkadianate. Arkadia also sent one of her Twi'lek assistants Warmalo to help Rusher replenish his stock of food for the refugees. Rusher himself was surprised by the wide variety of food available within the Arkadinate. Sensing that the Twi'lek had outlived his usefulness as a cargo worker, Arkadia had him reassigned to a new position as the director of metallurgical operations on Syned. When Kerra queried on whether the Twi'lek had any training in metallurgy, Arkadia merely replied that Warmalo had the same grounding she expected from all her people. She added that he had been working on the same assignment for three months and thought he could do more.
Arkadia justified her rotational policies on the pretext that she liked to instill the traits of flexibility and versatility among her subjects. She also claimed that constant revival was needed to ensure that a Sith Lord's rule lasted forever. Kerra quickly recognized that her policy of rotating everyone was an insurance policy that preserved her rule. Her more skilled underlings never became rivals because they were always having something new to do in order to maintain their place in society. While, Arkadia offered sanctuary to all the refugee students on Syned, Kerra still did not trust the Sith Lord. She sensed that Arkadia wanted to utilize her services in return for guaranteeing the safety of her student refugee charges. In the case of Rusher however, Arkadia was not interested in recruiting mercenary groups like Rusher's Brigade because she regarded their thinking as too narrow. Finally, Arkadia departed to prepare for a meeting at her museum in Calimondretta.
While Kerra remained aloof and suspicious of Arkadia, Rusher by contrast was completely taken in by Arkadia's personality and utopian policies. He revealed that the Arkadianites had offered to provide a big icecrawler to transport the Diligence and all its passengers to Calimondretta, where they would be given refuge. He also argued that they should remain on Syned since they lacked any knowledge of reliable hyperspace routes that would allow them to travel back to the Republic safely. Kerra then criticized Rusher for her willingness to work for different Sith Lords. This led to a heated argument between the two erstwhile allies with Kerra arguing that Rusher should put his energies into working for the people. Rusher responded that he had to care for the lives and well-being of his crew and passengers. One of Arkadia's Citizen Guards then interrupted their conversation to summon Kerra to participate in a meeting at the museum. Meanwhile, Rusher was instructed to wait outside for a meeting at Arkadia's Museum. Brigadier Rusher is instructed to wait outside once he had finished work with the Arkadianate engineers. Kerra sensed that Arkadia had not asked for anything yet but has only given in. Before leaving for the meeting, Kerra instructed Rusher to look after the kids and his crew.
- "Wait a minute. You're telling me every Sith Lord who's warring out here is related? You're all cousins?"
"No, not by any stretch. Not even all the Human Sith Lords trace back to Vilia. But it is a big family."
- ―Kerra Holt and Arkadia Calimondra
While in Arkadia's museum, Arkadia conversed with her guest and traditional foe: Kerra. The first topic they discussed was a handcrafted branding tool on display that had been crafted by a single artisan who had worked in that field for thirty years. She was driven out of the market by a Republic company which was able to replicate the tools at a hundredth of the price. Out of humiliation, the artisan committed suicide by throwing herself into the sea. After smashing the branding tool, Arkadia surmised that the idea of spending a lifetime in a single pursuit was a recipe for stagnation, for obsolescence.
When Kerra suggested that Arkadia's policies were running her people to their deaths, Arkadia pointed out in response that the Galactic Senate was also dominated by commercial interests. They created occupations but did not guarantee them since the Republic's capitalist economy allowed competitors and new technologies to prosper without any regard for those whose livelihoods were disrupted. Kerra replied that the Republic's citizens chose to face those challenges. Arkadia defended her system by claiming that under her rule, her people at least knew when change was coming. For the Sith Lord, change in the Arkadianate had meaning and served a cause, which happened to be her own. While Kerra regarded Arkadia as misguided, she had to concede that Arkadia was logical. Arkadia urged Kerra to question her own long-held beliefs that all Sith were the murderous villains, adding that no one would be able to run a galaxy while in that.
Kerra demanded that the students be released but Arkadia refused, stating that she was not going to release the lives of those she controlled in exchange for gaining the trust of a Jedi outsider. However, she offered to give them refuge and claimed that she had something else that would be of great value to the Jedi woman. Acknowledging that Kerra had come into Sith space to fight the Sith and to help some of the people under their sway, she rightfully sensed that Kerra wanted an explanation for the internecine conflicts occurring throughout the galaxy. Arkadia added that she needed Kerra's help but first she had to show something that no one outside Sith space knew: the Bequest. Prior the Bequest, Arkadia explained the intricate family dynamics of the Calimondra family and the complex histories of the two Charge Matricas, a secret that none outside the Sith dynasty knew. Arkadia then explained to Kerra that there was a power struggle within the Calimondra family, headed by her grandmother and family matriarch Vilia Calimondra.
In 1066 BBY, Vilia's seven children had undertaken a challenge known as a Charge Matrica to inherit her holdings, and now the grandchildren were doing the same. Daiman and Odion were the sons of Vilia's daughter Xelian, while Arkadia, Quillan, and Dromika were all children of Vilia's son Chagras. After her seven children declared war on each other, Chagras had emerged as the victor, but died mysteriously, leaving no single heir to claim Vilia's legacy. So, the grandchildren were now undertaking the same challenge as their parents, attempting to impress the Sith matriarch by warring against each other or eliminating outsiders like Lord Bactra or Saaj Calician, the Dyarchy's regent. After the debriefing session, Arkadia allowed Kerra to observed the proceedings provided she remain hidden behind the shadows. She warned the Jedi Knight that she would have to kill her if she was spotted.
The Bequest was conducted via hologram with each member being able to participate in the meeting despite their disparate locations throughout the Grumani sector. The pylon where these holographic images were projected also doubled as a star map. At the center of this pylon stood a figure of the Sith family matriarch Vilia Calimondra; who congratulated her children on the liquidation of the Quermian Sith Lord Ayanos Bactra, the ruler of the Bactranate who had outlived his usefulness to the Calimondra family. She divided up the territories of the former Bactranate to the Sith Lords Daiman, Odion, Lioko, and Malakite—those four warlords who had been situated nearest to the former Bactranate. During the bequest, Daiman inherited Bactra's corporate assets including Industrial Heuristics and its affiliated enterprises. While Daiman was pleased with his acquisition, Odian objected and claimed that he had a rightful stake to the company since it was based in Jutrand, the former Bactranate capital which had fallen under the Odionate. In an attempt to appease Odioan, Vilia allowed him to keep Jutrand but ordered that he allow the company's executive staff enough time to relocate to Daimanate territory.
However, an enraged Odion retorted that he would kill the staff rather than allow them to fall into the hands of his estranged younger brother, who he hated passionately. As quid pro quo, Vilia proposed a deal where she would compensate Odion's loss by sending two legions of Trandoshan slave warriors from her own forces to augment Odion's forces. They would arrive in the Odionate within the span of three days just as the Industrial Heuristics staff departed for the Daimanate. Odion reluctantly complied but tensions would linger between the two brothers, which would affect the politics of the Grumani sector. After Vilia had finished distributing Bactra's remaining corporate assets among her grandchildren, the meeting turned its attention to Arkadia's recent annexation of the Dyarchy.
Arkadia explained that she had taken the former Dyarchy's twin rulers—Quillan and Dromika—into her custody. The catatonic Quillan was brought into the Bequest in a hover chair, completely oblivious to the ongoing proceedings. Vilia was concerned about the welfare of her younger grandchildren. Arkadia assured that they were being well taken care of and that she had kept them apart. Vilia granted Arkadia complete jurisdiction over Byllura and the former Dyarchy territory. Arkadia and her grandmother discussed about the future of the two dysfunctional Sith twins, explaining that it was best that the twins be kept apart for their own safety. Dromika was still on Byllura but the catatonic Quillan needed more attention, with Arkadia adding that Vilia would be best suited for providing that role.
While Vilia was initially surprised at Arkadia's request, she agreed and requested that the teenaged boy be brought to her secure home. For secrecy, Vilia insisted on transmitting the coordinates via a secure channel. She complimented Arkadia for her task, praising her for her intelligence and reasoning. Following the end of the Bequest, Kerra confronted Arkadia about the power dynamics of the Calimondra family, expressing her shock that Matriarch Vilia had the power and influence to make her grandchildren stop fighting. Kerra then asked why the various Sith warlords did not work together for all the time. Arkadia explained that any cooperation between members of her Sith family was brief, often lasting barely ten minutes. She explained that her grandmother held significant leverage due to her own conquests and various marriages to several deceased husbands who died under suspicious circumstances. Since Vilia held a large amount of wealth, military power, and corporate holdings, she was able to keep her descendants in line by doling out presents to keep them in the political game. Due to the enormous stakes involved, Arkadia explained that no one wanted to fail the Charge Matrica and their grandmother.
- "I'm not going to do it. I don't know what would happen. But I'm a Jedi. I don't work for Sith—and I won't help you, either. Find another tool."
- ―Kerra refusing to have any part in Arkadia's conspiracy
Arkadia then tried to recruit Kerra as an assassin, explaining that this was the very purpose she had brought her into the Bequest. As part of the plan, Kerra would serve as her personal courier to transport Quillan to Vilia, and would then assassinate the matriarch of the Calimondra family. While acknowledging Vilia as her grandmother, she attributed the endless fighting within the sector to the former's alleged madness. Arkadia tried to justify her conspiracy to assassinate her grandmother by arguing that Vilia was so preoccupied with power that she staged the Charge Matrica as a means of preventing the emergence of a successor. Arkadia resented the fact that her grandmother had been subtly encouraging her descendants to attack each other. She derided the bequests as a farce meant only to exacerbate the competition within her family. Finally, Arkadia alleged that Vilia may also have had a hand in the fatal poisoning of her late father Chagras, who had succumbed to a potent neurotoxin which overcame his abilities to heal.
Arkadia explained that she was unable to carry out the assassination herself since her grandmother had dozens of secret retreats and that her bodyguards kept a close watch on familiar presences. As a Jedi Knight, Kerra was regarded as her first choice since Jedi assassins had a reputation of being clean operatives. Finally, she tried to play on Kerra's personal feelings by claiming that Vilia had authorized the invasion of her homeworld of Aquilaris Minor; sensing that the young Jedi woman was a guerrilla operative for her own cause of protecting the common people and fighting for justice against the Sith warlords. However, Kerra unequivocally turned down Arkadia's offer, stating that she was a Jedi and would never work for a Sith. Kerra's recalcitrance angered the Sith Lord who activated her double lightsaber and ordered her Citizen Guards to take the Jedi woman into the dungeons.
After departing the museum, Arkadia confronted Jarrow Rusher. She demanded that the refugee passengers aboard the Diligence be brought immediately to Calimondretta. An icecrawler was waiting at the southern garage bay to transport the vast troop ship and its student passengers to the settlement's main atrium. She promised that she would only then allow Rusher and his mercenaries to leave Syned, handing him a set of secure coordinates in a datapad. In reality, she intended to kill them by sending them on a one-way journey to the Nakrikal Singularity, a black hole. When Rusher queried about Kerra and offered to take the Jedi offworld, Arkadia replied that she would be given the same treatment that any Jedi in Sith Space received: death. Due to the historic animosity between the two Force-wielding orders, the Sith Lord was unwilling to allow an enemy Jedi to create havoc in her domain, just as she had done so earlier in the former Dyarchy. Arkadia also intended to interrogate the Jedi woman on any intelligence about the Republic and other Sith warlords before executing her personally. Finally, Kerra would be executed by being exposed to the neurotoxin Chagras's Blood, which Arkadia intended to employ as a military bioweapon.
Kerra's prison known as the Impound resembled a large data processing center where the inmates were housed within a series of narrow cells that resembled large, stacked cabinets. The Impound's prisoners were regularly questioned by several interrogator droids who hovered on floating platforms. Each of the Impound's cells was also fitted with bright interior lights and high-pitch sound systems, which were designed to cause maximum discomfort to the inmates. These visual and sound systems operated alternately at irregular intervals, leaving the inmate in a constant state of stress. Despite her unhappy situation, Kerra refused to cooperate with her interrogators and maintained her resolve. These interrogators quizzed about basic questions pertaining to the Republic and the Jedi Order. For Kerra, this confirmed an earlier report by Treece that the Sith Lords seemed to know very little about the Republic and Jedi.
With Kerra unwilling to work as her assassin, Arkadia instead enlisted the services of Narsk and assigned him with the task of transporting Quillan to their grandmother's secure location. In return for his services, Narsk got Arkadia to successfully pressure Brigadier Rusher into return his stolen stealth suit. Unknown to Arkadia, Narsk had always been secretly in the services of Vilia Calimondra, his true master. While the Bothan had not been present at the family bequest with Arkadia and Kerra, he had received an encoded signal from Vilia through his embedded implant, telling him to beware of his current employer. Through unknown means, Vilia had sensed that her eldest granddaughter was posing a threat to her rule. After receiving his latest set of orders, Narsk convinced Rusher to work against Arkadia's orders, claiming that they would pose a danger to his crew. After briefly outlining plans for an escape attack from Syned which involved both explosives and sending one of his crew to fetch both Narsk's stealth suit and Kerra's lightsaber, Narsk gave Rusher part of the hyperspace coordinates to a jump-point in uncontrolled space which would bring them to another hyperspace lane leading to the Republic. He promised to give the other half of the coordinates to Kerra on the condition that she helped create a distraction that would allow both parties to escape the Arkadianate.
Unaware of Vilia's secret counter-plot, Arkadia had a modified shuttle prepared for a single hyperspace jump to her grandmother's top secret destination at Embarkation Station 7. She explained to Narsk that his primary mission was to assassinate Vilia. Since the Bothan lacked the Force abilities and lightsaber combat skills of a Force-wielder, Narsk's weapon would consist of a remote-controlled series of pods containing the deadly neurotoxin Chagras's Blood. These neurotoxins had been harvested from Synedian algae, a flora indigenous to the planet Syned. Upon arriving on Vilia's world, he would slip out of the vessel unseen, shadowing Quillan. Once he located both Quillan and Vilia, he would activate the nerve toxins hidden in the chair; killing both targets and plunging her empire into anarchy. Arkadia hoped to benefit from this chaos by annexing other territories, thus furthering her larger ambitions of galactic dominance.
Since the planned assassination of Vilia would destabilize the Grumani sector's political order, she had assembled several military parties to take advantage of the ensuing chaos by launching strategic attacks on the Arkadianate's neighbors. As part of her expansionist blitz, Arkadia planned to deploy the nerve toxin known as Chagras's Blood to wipe out any resistance. She intended to use the inmates at the Impound including Kerra as her test subjects prior to its operational deployment. During the meeting, the Lubboon arrived in an environment suit, carrying Narsk's stealth suit within his pouch. Rusher had sent Lubboon to deliver both the stealth suit and Kerra's lightsaber, knowing that the cumbersome Duros would not attract Arkadia's suspicion. The Duros had managed to smuggle the lightsaber past Arkadianate security by hiding it within the left arm of his spacesuit. Feigning that his left arm had been injured during a fall, Lubboon was allowed by Arkadia to depart for the infirmary for medical attention.
Following the meeting with Arkadia, Beadle left for the infirmary as well by feigning an allergic reaction to the algae. There, Narsk obtained Kerra's lightsaber from Lubboon and infiltrated the Impound using his stealth suit. After breaking Kerra out of her prison, he convinced the Jedi woman to help her create a diversion that would allow both the Diligence and Narsk to escape the Arkadianate after convincing her that he was working for someone opposed to Arkadia's plans. In return for agreeing to this task which Rusher was already involved in, the Bothan also supplied Kerra with the remaining half of the hyperspace coordinates. However, Kerra and Narsk were unable to free the remaining prisoners at the Impound since they had already been exposed to the deadly Chagras's Blood and quickly succumbed to the effects of the nerve toxin within minutes. When Kerra asked why Narsk had spared her life despite working for Vilia, Narsk replied that he did so because he had no orders to kill her before departing on a turbolift.
Jedi versus SithEdit
- "How could you? You sent your own brother to die—in a trap against your grandmother? How could you?"
"There can be only one Sith Lord. And no Jedi."
- ―Kerra confronting Arkadia Calimondra about her fratricidal plot to kill bother Quillan and their grandmother Vilia
Meanwhile, Rusher kept to his side of the bargain by hijacking the icecrawler and loading it with two artillery cannons. Rusher and his mercenaries then infiltrated Calimondretta, going past security before launching their assault at Patriot Hall. Arkadia's Citizen Guards were caught by surprise and sustained considerable casualties. Much of the city's interior was also damaged during the fighting with the protective outer barrier being destroyed, exposing the city to Syned's frigid climate. During the second stage of the attack, the Ryland Dackett flew the Diligence towards the spaceport. There, he released one of the warships massive cargo assembly pods, destroying one of the tractor beam emitters and several Arkadianate warships. These warships were equipped with shells containing the nerve toxin Chagras's Blood and had been prepared for a blitz raid on Arkadia's neighbors in the event that Vilia was successfully assassinated. Satisfied with his work, Rusher then used his encrypted comlink to issue Arkadia an ultimatum that she release the Jedi woman Kerra or face destruction.
Meanwhile, Narsk took advantage of Rusher's diversionary attack to escape with Quillan from Syned. Prior to escaping he switched the hoverchair containing the nerve toxin with the original one from Rusher's ship. With the technicians distracted by the fighting, the Bothan then got one of the mechanics to load Quillan and his hoverchair aboard the modified shuttle that had been designated for the mission. After strapping himself into the hidden engine compartment, Narsk departed the hangar bay and sent a signal to the droid pilot in the shuttle's cockpit. When the ground crew tried to stop the shuttle from departing, Narsk detonated the neurotoxin system which quickly killed them. However, his ears and Mark IV stealth suit were permanently damaged by the loud sound of the accelerating engines. Thus, Narsk fulfilled Vilia's orders to stop Arkadia by foiling her granddaughter's assassination plot.
After escaping the Impound, Kerra headed towards Patriot Hall by traveling across the underground hallways. Upon seeing two Citizen Guards, Kerra deliberately attracted their attention by activating her lightsaber and goading them into a fight. Kerra's escape coincided with Rusher's attack on Patriot Hall and she was caught in a crowd of workers fleeing to Reflection Prospect, a large public square. In the midst of this pandemonium, an inexperienced Houk Citizen Guard began firing indiscriminately at the crowd, killing the two Citizen Guards who had been pursuing Kerra. Kerra quickly killed the Houk Citizen Guard with a blaster taken from one of the fallen Guards. Unlike other soldiers utilized by other Sith states, the Arkadianate's Citizen Guards were not Sith wannabes but were rather ordinary sentient beings devoted or conscripted into the Sith Lord's military-industrial complex.
After felling a second Citizen Guard, Kerra headed towards a grotto facing Patriot Hall where several enemy snipers and guards had taken position. Kerra attempted to use her blaster to puncture a tube of Synedian alga alight in order to unleash its nerve toxin by-product but the cylinders were protected by a material tougher than transparisteel. Thus, Kerra resorted to using her lightsaber to deflect the Citizen Guard's blaster bolts but was unable to dent their electromesh tunics which cushioned the blaster shots. The shooting was interrupted by the arrival of Lord Arkadia who ordered her men to cease firing and deploy thermal detonators into Reflection Prospect. When one Guard pointed out that there were civilians and guards still below in the plaza, she curtly replied that they were doing their job and ordered her Guards to do theirs.
Kerra Holt survived the explosion caused by Arkadia's thermal detonators at Reflection Prospect but many civilians and soldiers were killed or wounded by friendly fire. With her escape route to Patriot Hall blocked by debris, Kerra headed to Arkadia's museum in an attempt to find a way out. However, she encountered the Sith Lord Arkadia who was wielding her double-bladed lightsaber. She was both bewildered and angered by Kerra's successful escape from the Impound but reiterated that it would stop here. Kerra parried with Arkadia but the novice Jedi Knight was unable to match the lightsaber dueling skills of the Sith Lord. The two Force-wielders also goaded each other with Arkadia deriding Kerra as a Padawan while the Jedi Knight in return labeled the Sith Lord a petty dictator.
Arkadia was angered by this comparison, voicing that the Arkadianate was an enlightened regime. Kerra retorted by asking what "enlightened Sith" would want to kill their grandmother. Arkadia charged towards the Jedi Knight with her lightsaber but Kerra moved out of the way. Arkadia then launched another offensive by deploying the Jar'Kai sword-fighting style, forcing her Jedi opponent to retreat backwards. Arkadia remarked that she had been a fool to expect a Jedi to do her "dirty work" but expressed her comfort in the belief that her Bothan spy had already left to assassinate her grandmother and brother. Kerra criticized Arkadia for her willingness to use her own brother as collateral damage.
However, their duel was interrupted by the Diligence releasing its second cargo pod assembly on the remaining tractor beam emitter. The resulting impact unleashed an avalanche of explosives and ice which destroyed the southern walls of the museum, exposing it to Syned's thin atmosphere. With Arkadia distracted, the Jedi woman knocked her over with her legs. A bruised but furious Arkadia attempted to advance on Kerra. After Kerra goaded the Sith Lord about her homicidal plans, Arkadia merely expounded her personal worldview "there could be only one Sith and no Jedi."
Before Arkadia could leap on Kerra, Rusher ordered his gunners to fire a precision shot at the museum, which opened a hole in its roof and allowed Kerra to escape to the surface. From Lubboon, the Brigadier had found out that his erstwhile ally was still in Calimondretta. Due to a sensor tag attached to her lightsaber, Rusher was able to trace the signal to Arkadia's museum near the planet's surface. After sending the Diligence to do a flyover the museum and to confirm it was a large dome, Rusher and his mercenaries positioned one of their artillery cannons on a sled and then fired a precision blast at the museum. Kerra was able to escape and also stole Arkadia's double-bladed lightsaber. However, Kerra quickly fell unconscious due to a lack of oxygen. Rusher soon spotted Kerra lying on the frigid surface of the planet and had the Diligence to pick her up. After recovering Kerra, Rusher and his men returned to the Diligence, leaving their artillery guns behind since they were too heavy to transport offworld.
Parting as friendsEdit
- "No, you wouldn't. You're going to do what you came here to do—one system at a time."
"Me and what army?"
"You never know, kid. Maybe I'll cut you a rate."
- ―Jarrow Rusher offering to help Kerra's future missions into Sith space
After Kerra regained consciousness, Rusher explained that the Jedi woman had gone on a long walk without her spacesuit. He then explained how he had destroyed Arkadia's museum with a precision shot in order to enable Kerra to escape. Rusher then recounted the details of their escape from Calimondretta including how he had used a hijacked icecrawler as a trojan horse. For Rusher, the assault on Calimondretta marked the first time that his forces had ever been deployed inside a building. He also explained that the attack had been used to coerce Arkadia into giving up Kerra or enabling her to escape. Rusher then recounted how he had personally carried Kerra back to his ship, adding the comment that she was heavier than she looked due to her muscular frame. Due to his bad leg, Rusher had to use Arkadia's stolen twin-bladed lightsaber as a makeshift walking stick in order to maintain a perfect lurch ratio for that mission. During an earlier argument, Kerra had broken his original walking stick.
Jarrow Rusher also mentioned to Kerra that her student refugees had been rejoined by several hundred Arkadianate defectors. These had taken advantage of the fighting to don environmental suits and flee Calimondretta. These defectors fled across the ice to the Diligence and begged to be let aboard. One of these refugees was the Twi'lek Warmalo, the supply clerk who had earlier helped Rusher restock the Diligence's food supplies before being promoted to a metallurgist. However, Warmalo did not regard this as a promotion and he and the other refugees had grown tired up of Arkadia's system of rotating her subjects throughout different jobs to preserve her grip on power. Thus, they were desperate to escape to the Galactic Republic. Since Rusher's Brigade had used up all their ammunition and left behind their cannons, there was now enough space to accommodate approximately 2,200 refugees.
Rusher also related how their attack had destroyed part of Arkadia's neurotoxin operation, sabotaging her efforts to launch an expansionist campaign in the event that her grandmother was assassinated. Since Rusher had shed the cargo pod clusters, the Diligence was back to being a spaceliner again for the moment. While Rusher's engineer was unhappy with damage wrought on the starship during the fighting, Rusher was happy that they had managed to escape with the rest of the ship still intact. Finally, Rusher revealed that they were now using hyperspace coordinates given to them by Narsk to travel back to the Galactic Republic. Earlier, the Bothan spy had scrawled half of these coordinates on Rusher's arm and the other half on Kerra's arm. Unlike Arkadia's coordinates, Narsk's ones led to a jump-point in neutral space which led to a hyperspace route which led directly to the Republic.
Upon reaching the Republic, Rusher planned to disembark the refugees who would then be resettled in "greener pastures." Rusher also planned to embark on a spending spree in the Republic in order to upgrade the ship's systems and to recruit more mercenaries and materiel in order to rebuild his mercenary operation. In return, Kerra shared the top-secret information she had learnt from Arkadia about the Calimondra family and the second Charge Matrica. Kerra got Rusher to provide her with a recorder in return for using her connections to arrange for the Brigadier to have an audience with Supreme Chancellor Genarra. Rusher also joked that he hoped that he could barter the information for enough funds to refit the Diligence with four new cargo clusters instead of two. The mood among the refugees had cheered after news of their final journey to the Republic was announced. Kerra reported that the Sullustan Tan was so excited that she had been unable to sleep.
Rusher also informed Kerra that the Duros recruit Lubboon along with several of the former student refugees were keen to remain aboard the Diligence as members of Rusher's Brigade. Many wanted to join the mercenary force as a means of liberating their families from Sith rule in the future. Kerra also shared with Rusher on how she had evacuated 63,000 refugees during the Chelloan affair. As a gesture of good will, Rusher finally offered to drop Kerra off on Tramanos on their way to the Republic so that she could continue her mission. He also remarked that should the Jedi woman ever choose to hire the Diligence, he might cut her a reduced rate. With hope finally in sight, Kerra rested while planning her next move against the Sith.
Return to AquilarisEdit
- "'That was what the distress call was about? You wanted me to bring you another fix?"
- ―Kerra Holt's shock at discovering the true intentions of Joad Kreel's distress transmission
Her next target was the planet Aquilaris which had fallen under Sith occupation. Ten years ago, Kerra had been forced to flee as a refugee but always harbored the desire to liberate the planet from Lord Daimain. Kerra got her opportunity when she received a distress call from a member of the Seacroppers' Guild. However, Aquilaris also drew the attention of the Hutt crime lord Zodoh, who sought to expand his slave-trading and munitions businesses into the Grumani sector, which had become a Sith stronghold since the Republic Dark Age forced the Galactic Republic to retreat to the safety of the Core Worlds. He had developed a fleet of Stormdrivers, capital ships equipped with weaponized vaporators capable of extracting moisture from planetary atmospheres and releasing it as torrential storms and floods. By using Aquilaris as a testing ground for his new superweapons, Zodoh intended to browbeat his Sith rivals into submission.
Zodoh's fleet quickly overwhelmed Daiman's forces in Capital Cay, a port city on Aquilaris. Within minutes, Zodoh's forces had wiped out the artillery defenses, forcing the Daimanate garrison into a retreat. In the midst of the chaos, Holt infiltrated Capital Cay in a food transport and slew the garrison commander. Arriving at the Seacropper Guild's dormitories, she encountered her old friend "Old" Padgett. Holt then attempted to evacuate the slaves onto her passenger transport. However, many of the slaves expressed disinterest and apathy at their liberation since they had been reduced to subsisting on Deluge, an addictive spice used as a substitute for food. Since the fishing submersibles and eel traps were damaged, the seacroppers had been unable to go fishing and many of them had consequently been reduced to a state of drug inducement. Kerra managed to meet up with a former acquaintance, a Human male named Joad Kreel. Informing Holt that she was wasting her time, he quickly revealed that the true intentions of the distress signal was in the vain hopes of a spacer delivering more of the addictive substance. Having wasted her efforts only to find out that the prisoners were apathetic to freedom, Holt was further angered by their perceived lack of fighting spirit.
While arguing with Kreel, they were interrupted by a lightning bolt unleashed by one Zodoh's Stormdrivers. Having achieved local atmospheric control over Capital Cay, the Stormdriver began releasing a deluge of flood water which swept the remnants of Daiman's garrison into the surrounding sea. Moving over the bay,the Stormdriver was attacked by Holt who fired upon the machine with her blaster pistol in a last-ditched attempt to stop it. However, Holt was saved by the arrival of Captain Jenn Devaad's squadron of Fire Lotus-class starfighters from Grace Command, an Alderaan-based pro-Republic mercy organization. Despite the withdrawal of the Republic from much of the outlying regions, Devaad's Death Squadron had continued the fight against the Sith and other threats. Unwilling to waste more firepower and having achieved the goals of his Aquilaris mission, Zodoh ordered a tactical withdrawal back to his fighter carrier Voracious which was waiting in the Aquilaris system.
- "Captain! Captain Devaad! Wait—we don't have a plan! He's got a plan—or he wouldn't be out here!"
"Show some spine, Jedi! You're the one that likes it when people do something!"
- ―Kerra Holt quarrelling with Jenn Devaad
Following the battle, Grace Command wiped out the remaining Daimanate forces on Aquilaris and liberated the population. Devaad promised that the Republic would send further food and medical supplies to the population. In reality, Grace Command was a black-operation established by Baron Lemayne for the sole purpose of undermining the Sith war effort. Grace Command sought to destabilize Sith-held worlds by spreading the Deluge drug amongst their populations. Their tactic was to "liberate" Sith-held worlds and then retreat, allowing Sith forces to resume control. In the process, the Sith's military forces would also get addicted to Deluge, rendering them ineffective. Despite its controversial nature, Lemayne's tactic achieved some success in weakening Sith resistance to the Republic.
Unaware of this conspiracy, Kerra welcomed Captain Devaad as a newly-found ally in her crusade against the Sith. Convinced by the purportedly good work and intentions that Devaad were doing to alleviate the plight of Sith-occupied space, Kerra successfully persuaded Devaad to allow her to pilot one of the starfighters which answered to the call-sign Devil Seven. This was possible because the fighter's pilot Yades was due to rotate back to Alderaan with the transport crew. Devaad outlined the squadron's plans of departing from Aquilaris the following day on a mission to escort the transport ship Mother Grace to its hyperspace jump point. The squadron would then disembark to Heptooine to assault Sith Lord Malakite's garrison there.
Prior to disembarking on the mission the next day, she encountered her old friend Joad squatting outside the spaceport. He revealed that the starfighter pilots had forcibly evicted the Seacroppers from their barracks which aroused Holt's suspicions. Joad also tried unsuccessfully to tell Kerra of Grace Command's ill intentions towards the Aquilarians. Joad tried to dissuade Kerra from leaving with Kerra trying to allay his anxieties by telling him that the most serious addicts were being ferried away on Mother Grace for detoxification in Alderaan. Kerra viewed Joad's reluctance to seek medical treatment as symptoms of brain damage sustained through over-consumption of Deluge. She promised that the Alderaanian doctors would send help back to Aqualaris. As Kerra departed for her starfighter, Joad could only lament that he failed to reveal the truth about Devaad's mission.
Following the departure of Mother Grace into hyperspace, the starfighters flew to the far reaches of the Aquilaris system where they encountered Zodoh's Intruder-class starfighter. During the ensuing pursuit, Devaad revealed her background to Kerra that she and her comrades in Death Squadron held a grudge against the Hutt lord since he had enslaved them years earlier. Death Squadron were the last survivors of an ill-fated Republic Navy taskforce sent into Sith territory. After five years of captivity, Captain Devaad and her comrades had managed to escape and had vowed to hunt down Zodoh. However, Kerra advised caution since this skirmish had not been part of their original plan and that Zodoh might have been trying to bait them. Devaad responded by chiding Kerra for her lack of enthusiasm. Kerra's suspicions were confirmed when they stumbled upon Zodoh's flagship Voracious. In reality, Zodoh had wanted to lure Death Squadron into a trap and the Republic fighters were immediately attacked by the Voracious and its escort Intruder starfighters.
Meanwhile, Zodoh's fleet of Stormdrivers exited from hyperspace. When Jenn expressed her surprise at Zodoh's decision to deploy tactical weapons on the intercom, Zodoh replied that the Stormdrivers were merely a means of removing the Sith from their conquered domains without having to commit substantial resources. Holt quickly realized that Zodoh was intending to unleash artificial rain on Aquilaris to which Zodoh replied that his scientists had discovered that a network of Stormdrivers were capable of submerging an entire world in water. Death Squadron immediately attacked the Stormdrivers but to no avail since they possessed defensive systems for flight configuration. The Republic starfighters were unable to make significant damage and several starfighters were destroyed by enemy fire. While Jenn was determined to hurt Zodoh's forces, Kerra realized that Death Squadron was both outnumbered and outgunned. She also concurred that Zodoh had advance warning of Death Squadron's coming.
On the intercom, Devaad tried to argue Kerra out of her plan by claiming that any evacuation efforts would be futile since Daiman had recalled his cargo transports to Oranessan. By tolerating the status quo of preserving a deadlock between the Republic and the Sith, Devaad was willing to sacrifice Aquilaris as part of the greater goal of defeating Zodoh and the Sith. Unable to reconcile their differences, Kerra disengaged herself from the dogfight on the grounds of wanting to stay alive so that she could save the people of Aquilaris from Zodoh's impending deluge. Ultimately, Kerra was proven right since the Voracious deployed a tractor beam projector which netted the remnants of Death Squadron with the exception of Kerra. Captain Jenn and her crew were taken captive by the Hutt Lord who had her pilots tortured in order to coerce Devaad back into his services. In return for seizing the remaining deluge spice which was marked as orange food containers, he offered to release her and her squadron-mates.
- "You save your people, Kerra Holt—I'll save mine…"
- ―Jenn Devaad, following an argument with Holt
Meanwhile, Kerra returned to Aquilaris where she tried to convince the planet's population to evacuate to higher ground. She was met by much discouragement and apathy from the workers which was compounded by a logistics problem. The airspeeders were vulnerable to stormy conditions while most of the boats had been destroyed by the Sith occupiers. Her friend "Old" Padgett added that the Seacroppers' Guild had ceased to operate due to the drug-afflicted state of its members and that their submersibles were in a worse state. When Holt inquired about the underwater harvester stations, Padgett added that they were in a decrepit state. In exasperation, Kerra lamented that everyone would sink together. Still, she managed to convince Padgett and the others to evacuate the barracks prior to the storm. Meanwhile, a frustrated Kerra went to visit the docks where she encountered a dejected Joad, who was cowering in the command deck. The two had a brief discussion about their childhood and their separation during the Sith invasion.
Kerra tried to persuade Joad to help fix the submersible but he remained despondent and uncooperative, commenting that he died when his family died. Finally, he told Kerra to take back the time-locked food crate passed by Grace Command since he did not wish to live anymore. In a final vent of exasperation, Kerra kicked the food crate only to discover that it contained the narcotic Deluge spice, which Grace Command was supposedly suppose to treat. Kerra quickly realized the true intentions of Grace Command. Heading back to the barracks, she encountered Captain Jenn coercing the other Aquilarians into gathering all the orange food crates containing Deluge. She was attempting to save her fellow starfighter pilots by bringing Grace Command's remaining storage of Deluge to Zodoh the Hutt. Kerra overpowered Jenn with her Force powers and attempted to reason with her, but to no avail. Jenn also revealed about the existence of Lemayne's Operation Deluge. Fixated with saving her comrades, Jenn refused to assist Kerra in evacuating the Aquilarian people whom she derided for not fighting for themselves. Following Jenn's departure in a shuttle, Zodoh's Stormdrivers unleashed an artificial flood which caused widespread damage and deaths throughout the planet.
While contemplating in his submersible, Joad reconsidered his attitude towards Joad. Realizing that Kerra was intending to help him and their people, Joad regretted his hostility. He also recalled that he knew how to operate the submersible. As a symbolic gesture, he threw his Deluge capsules into the sea in the presence of Kerra and pledged to assist her in the evacuation efforts. However instead of accompanying her, Joad dived into the stormy sea to reactivate the submersible's engines. Kerra was taken by surprise and was forced to continue alone in her efforts to evacuate a party of refugees to Tarrah Hill, the highest physical point on Aquilaris. With her starfighter overloaded with survivors, Kerra and the refugees were forced to seek shelter on a derelict building on Tarrah Hill. By then, the Stormdriver fleet had been disrupted during an escape attempt from the Voracious by Captain Devaad.
At that point, Joad surfaced his submersible and helped evacuate the refugees into its spacious hulls. When Padgett pointed out that the submersible did not have enough room for all the evacuees, Joad offered to evacuate the refugees to an underwater harvesting station. The submersible would then make several trips to ensure that as many civilians were able to survive the deluge. Joan reiterated that he needed manpower to help open the sea tunnels. Padgett replied that there were several Seacrooppers among the refugees who would be able to assist with this operation. By the next morning, Joad and Kerra had helped evacuate thousands of refugees to safety underwater. Since Aquilaris Minor was not a populous world, the death toll had not been catastrophic. Kerra also reunited with Captain Devaad, who had escaped from Zodoh in a stolen starfighter. She had abandoned Grace Command's agenda of inundating entire worlds with Deluge and realized the need to help civilian populations in Sith Space. After Jenn revealed that Zodoh was planning to unleash the Stormdrivers on Darkknell (a heavily populated world and capital of the Daimanate), Kerra and Joad departed on a mission to stop the Hutt crimelord. Meanwhile, Joad and Padgett continued their evacuation operations.
- "There are billions of people on Darkknell, Jenn. Daiman just enslaves them—Zodoh is going to kill them! If you want people to fight for themselves, you've got to keep them alive!"
- ―Kerra Holt
Zodoh's fleet blockaded Darkknell, overwhelming Daiman's understaffed defense force. Within hours, much of the planet was submerged in flood waters, creating much widespread damage and many deaths. Daiman was caught unprepared and off-guard since he had purged more than half of his defense force due to the Deluge drug epidemic. Meanwhile, Daiman's remaining forces were tied up in protracted engagements against his Sith rivals. Despite worldwide broadcasts by the Sith Lord trying to allay his subjects, Daiman was effectively powerless against the onslaught. The Southern Reservoir was unable to cope with the denudation and burst its banks, flooding Daiman's palace. An exasperated Daiman could only vent his rage against his estranged older brother Odion for allowing Zodoh to attack his realm. Still, the 'Creator of the Universe' boasted that he had inconceivable resources everywhere.
While Zodoh's victory was almost complete, he had underestimated Kerra and his old nemesis Jenn Devaad. They infiltrated Zodoh's fleet by flying a stolen twin-seater Hutt starfighter. Based on her time aboard the Voracious, Jenn had correctly deduced that the Hutt lord's flagship contained a command center with a massive data processor for coordinating the Stormdriver fleet. They flew the starfighter into the hangar bay of Zodoh's flagship and Kerra was able to disembark and infiltrate the vessel. The Jedi Knight quickly wiped out Zodoh's guards and made her way to the data processing chamber, a massive dome in the heart of the Voracious. Meanwhile, Jenn harassed Zodoh's starfighter defenses. Kerra located her quarry only to be surprised by Zodoh who had donned his armor and jetpack. Having surprised her with electrical lightning, he then dueled with the Jedi Knight using a Mandalorian vibroblade. To place his foe at a deliberate disadvantage, Zodoh also deactivated the artificial gravity field and activated his jetpack.
Following a one-sided battle, Zodoh had the young Jedi woman locked in a neck grasp. However before he could deliver a killing blow, he was interrupted by Jenn's starfighter which shot a hole through the command dome and exposed the ship to zero-gravity. The ensuing explosion set of a series of blasts which destroyed the Voracious in a firestorm. Zodoh was blasted into space but survived since his Hutt physique was tough enough to withstand zero gravity. Meanwhile, his two Jedi foes escaped into hyperspace. With the destruction of the Voracious, the Stormdrivers were unable to coordinate their global storm and were presumably disable or wiped out by Daiman's defense forces who were able to regroup and reform their formations. Zodoh was subsequently captured and executed by Daiman, who appropriated one of his own Stormdriver devices to dehydrate the Hutt.
With the retreat of the Stormdrivers, the storms and flooding subsided and the landscape began the process of drying up. Following Zodoh's demise, Kerra and Jenn returned to help Joad in the evacuation efforts. Having misled the Sith into believing that the planet was still completely submerged, Kerra, Joad, and Jenn planned to use Aquilaris as a major base for shuttling refugees out of Sith Space. Having stopped consuming Deluge, Joad was gradually recovering and reverting back to his normal self, much to Kerra's delight. Jenn also planned to sabotage Operation Deluge by misleading her superiors into shipping their supplies to Aquilaris. En route, the drugs would be dumped into space and she would fly back with a shipload of refugees. While Joad had been unable to persuade Kerra from leaving Aquilaris to continue her anti-Sith crusade, he did not display any further animosity towards the Jedi Knight and accepted that everyone had different roles in serving the greater good.
The Helm of IeldisEdit
- "You see, Jedi? I know everything that has ever happened—and will ever happen. And you're beginning to believe it. It's why you're working for me now!"
"I'm not working for you, you lunatic! I just need to get into the Odionate—far inside."
- ―Kerra Holt and Daiman
Kerra Holt departed Aquilaris in her Fire Lotus starfighter which had been gifted by Captain Devaad. Having "saved" Daiman from defeat at Darkknell, she had gained his grudging respect and admiration. Thus, she was able to establish contact with him and solicited his assistance in eliminating Odion, whom both shared a mutual dislike for different reasons. Kerra wanted to avenge the ravaging of her homeworld and to find the whereabouts of her parents. Meanwhile, Daiman sought to punish Odion for indirectly aiding Zodoh during the Aquilaris campaign. With Daiman's acquiescence, she was able to infiltrate Tergamenion disguised as a factory worker. Tergamenion was a bleak factory world and police state that was controlled by a highly-efficient security apparatus of holograms which allowed Daiman to monitor his subjects' every movement and conversation. Unlike other Daimanate worlds, there was no underground resistance movement on Tergamenion and its inhabitants lived a life of unending, rigorous labor.
Daiman obtained intelligence of the presence of an Odionate agent named Wayman, a Claimer who had infiltrated Daiman's security forces. With Daiman as her control agent, Kerra posed as a Force-sensitive factory worker named "Mercy" who would pretend to escape and then be apprehended by Wayman. Since the plan involved diving from a high-rise building, Kerra was equipped with a jetpack for a safety precaution. As planned, Kerra attempted to escape from a factory and established contact with Wayman, who detected her Force-sensitivity and altered her records in the worker database to show she was deceased. Wayman succeeded in recruiting "Mercy" by appealing to her alleged desire to avenge the deaths of her family at the hands of Daiman. He offered to train her as a dark side-using Novitiate. As a test of her abilities and enthusiasm, he told her to make her own way to Odion but also gave her a signalling device that she could use when she arrived at her destination. "Mercy" complied and he departed on a speeder bike.
She then conversed with a hologram of Daiman, who had been monitoring the conversation while posing in his hologram mode. Daiman commented about his omnipresence with Kerra responding that he was deranged and questioning her decision to cooperate with Daiman. In response, Daiman boasted of his omnipotent power of being able to know the past, present and future, and claimed that was why Kerra was working for him. Kerra disagreed and emphasized that this partnership was only a temporary "alliance of convenience." Daiman also claimed that he prophesied a great tribulation in the future originated in Odion's realm.
Behind enemy linesEdit
- "Don't know why. Calls herself Mercy -- and I think it's gone to her head."
- ―Yulan expressing his reservations about "Mercy"
With their briefing concluded, Kerra under the alias "Mercy" departed in her starfighter for the Odionate. There she was inducted into the Novitiate and sent on a mission to Skarpos, part of Sith Lord Malakite's realm known as the Menagerie. During the Battle of Skarpos, the Odionate forces sustained heavy casualties when several Novitiates and Thunder Guard members were killed in a tar pit ambush by Malakite's Mutates, individuals subjected to Sith alchemical experiments which twisted their minds and bodies. "Mercy" was horrified when several Novitiates and Thunder Guardsmen charged to their deaths in the blazing tar pits. She tried to turn back Odion's forces and even tended to a wounded acolyte. Her concerns angered her commanding officer Beld Yulan who berated her for her unwillingness to die. However, Wayman intervened on her behalf and criticized Yulan's suicide wave tactics as a contributing factor to prevailing inexperience among Odion's forces. He defended "Mercy" by expressing that he had high hopes for the young woman but counseled her to follow Yulan's orders on future occasions due to his senior position in Odion's hierarchy.
He then informed "Mercy" and the other surviving Novitiates that Lord Odion had reassigned "Mercy's" team for a big assignment to recover the Helm of Ieldis. Wayman ordered Yulan's fleet to meet Odion at his new capital of Jubalene, formerly part of the defeated Bactranate. Yulan commented that he would arrive there but first needed to stop at Vanahame to replenish his arms supplies. "Mercy" then asked Wayman about whether Jubalene had any data centers, feigning enthusiasm for pursuing Odion's teachings. Wayman confirmed an affirmative to her question while praising her devotion. At Jubalene, he and "Mercy" were present with Odion during a combat duel pitting three Duros bankers against a rancor. The Duros had been duped into adopting Odion's nihilistic teachings and believed that they could embrace death by tackling a fully-grown rancor. With Odion encouraging them "to end the pain," the three bankers entered a berserker rage and attacked the rancor with spears. Ultimately, their efforts proved futile and they were eaten by the beast in the presence of a satisfied Odion who commented that even Lord Bactra's bankers could be used for his own purposes when properly motivated.
Odion also added that he savored the deaths of individuals who had embraced death willingly, since it strengthened the dark side. He also expressed his annoyance towards life energies which glowed through the light side of the Force. While other Sith could tolerate it, he tried to block it and saw death as a relief. Kerra was also present when Odion discussed about his plans to reopen Project Pandemonium, which aimed to recover the ancient Sith war relic the Helm of Ieldis. Lord Ieldis was a Sith Lord who lived before the Great Hyperspace War and had created the helm to turn sentient beings into mindless killers. The trail last ended at Sarrassia and the project was suspending since the planet was part of the Bactranate, a rival Sith domain. With the annexation of the Bactranate, Odion revealed his intentions to invade Sarrassia and reclaim the relic.
Wayman's team including Kerra were assigned the task of continuing the research where the trail ended, beginning with the material available in his data center at Jubalene. At that point, Odion sensed a familiar presence in the room but could not discern who it was. However, Kerra escaped further notice with the arrival of Yulan who had arrived back from Vanahame rearmed and refreshed for the invasion of Sarrassia. While Odion and Yulan departed to watch several of Bactra's former attorneys fighting a gundark at the arena, Wayman confided to Mercy about his discomfort that Odion favored Yulan and thus kept him alive. He also expressed that he sensed a great emptiness in the force emanating through Odion's spirit. After Wayman left to join the others at the arena, Kerra took advantage of that time to browse through the computer. Kerra had carried a locket of her parents throughout her childhood and wanted to discover their whereabouts and fate. She placed the locket onto the computer's scanner and quickly discovered that her parents had been captured by Odion's forces on Capital Cay and dragooned into Project Pandemonium. This discovery made her more convinced to travel to Sarrassia with the Sith to ascertain the fate of her parents.
- "A fire may grow, Kerra, but it always burns with the same light. You wear the Sithling's rags, but you can't hide who you are. Zoojoo sees the seven-year old girl who climbed onto the roof of the Great Hall. You gave our poor old Abbot a stroke!"
- ―Aunt Zoojoo
During the invasion of Sarrassia, Mercy's team arrived in a fleet of gunships which were then used to transport Grumani prisoners. The captives were sorted out by their species' skill details while children were forcibly separated from their parents. Later, Kerra would learn that all the children in the Odionate were confined in a series of cloisters where they were indoctrinated. Under the leadership of the Twi'lek Doyan, the Novitiates were then dispatched to Mount Diligence along with a unit of Sith troopers where several Grumani Hierophants were defending a cave. They had set up a trench and some of them wielded lightsabers. During a melee, Kerra attempted to restrain fellow Sith acolyte Doyan from killing a Hierophant. However, this was witnessed by Yulan who ordered his cannons to open fire on all the combatants, killing and wounding several of his own troops in friendly fire. Again, Yulan reprimanded Mercy's alleged soft-heartedness and unwillingness to die in combat. Mercy countered that Yulan's cannons nearly vaporized his own troops and countered that Odion would be greatly displeased if his mission to find the Helm of Ieldis was hampered by the death of its members. Yulan grumbled that Odion would merely find more Novitiates and then went to inspect the situation on the ground. He quickly discovered that several Sith troopers had been killed or wounded by his friendly fire.
One of Yulan's officers then reported that his Sith troopers had cleared the cave entrance and killed the defending priests who were making a last stand. Yulan speculated there was something inside and ordered Mercy and her comrades to explore the caves, commenting that he wanted to be back in Vanahame while he was still young enough to remember its location. While in the cave, Kerra was separated from her fellow Novitiates and discovered a secret entrance that was accessed by the symbol on her mother's pendant. She discovered a temple separated by an underwater river and was subsequently ambushed by the alien Hierophant Aunt Zoojoo who initially mistook her for a Sith acolyte. However, Aunt Zoojoo quickly recognized Kerra as a light-sider despite her Sith rags. Later at the underground temple, Zoojoo revealed the last known whereabouts of her parents and confirmed that the Helm of Ieldis were actually located on Skarpos.
She also revealed that her parents had also sired a younger sibling during their captivity. Their meeting was interrupted by the arrival of Yulan and several Sith who had entered the chamber by using explosives to create a hole. A panicked Zoojoo detonated an explosion which buried the temple under rubble, crushing herself to death but denying the Sith vital information in the process. Yulan and his companions managed to escape the debris caused by the cave caving in from the explosion. Mercy subsequently surfaced and Yulan inquired about her reasons for talking with that woman. Mercy claimed that she was merely seeking intelligence and revealed that the Helm was located on Skarpos and ordered Yulan to take them there since he was responsible for their transportation. Yulan complied and began making travel arrangements for the hyperspace travel to Skarpos, which was currently being besieged by Odion's forces. Kerra could only lament the loss of a family friend in the form of Zoojoo but vowed to continue her quest to find her parents.
In the Heart of DarknessEdit
- "Thanks for leading me to the Helm, Mercy -- or should I say, Little Jedi. As your reward, you'll be the first to see it in action!"
- ―Odion discovers Kerra Holt
En route to Skarpos, Yulan's fleet did a stop-over at Vanahame. Desperate to find the whereabouts of her parents, Kerra feigned zeal and devotion to Odion's cult and attempted to commandeer a shuttle for herself. She was stopped by her commander Doyan who reprimanded for spurning comradeship, reminding "Mercy" that they were working as a team to locate the Helm. The Kubaz Glenk had also disappeared on Sarrassia, leading the other Novitiates to concluded that he was trying to beat the others to the Helm. By then, Yulan's warship Gravedigger had been refueled and Mercy was sent to the underground basement beneath the base to inform Yulan. There, she discovered a large Odionate cloister, a massive planet-sized orphanage where captive children were indoctrinated and broken down into soldiers and laborers for Odion's cause.
She encountered Yulan himself, who informed her about the origins of the Cloisters and divulged his own background. Kerra learnt that Yulan had once been a Mandalorian mercenary who had embraced Odion's dark side teachings following the deaths of his children from an outbreak of the Candorian plague. From his experiences, Yulan concluded that life was meaningless and that the only escape was to embrace nothingness. Hoping to find her younger sibling, Kerra also inquired about information on the identity of the captives only to learnt that the Cloister maintained no records at all. Following their stopover, Yulan's fleet returned to Skarpos where they established an armed camp beneath the Morbollon Mesa.
The Novitiates performed a gravimetric scan of the mesa, which showed that there were extensive interior tunnels, thirty meters from its plateau. They made preparations to explore the mesa but their work was interrupted by the arrival of Lord Malakite and an invasion army, seeking to reclaim control of Skarpos from Odion. Malakite's forces included swarms of winged Night-Soarers who attempted to overwhelm Yulan's troops, but were driven back by artillery. The fighting was further complicated by the arrival of Odion's estranged brother and rival Daiman, who was accompanied by the duplicitous Glenk. Glenk was in reality a Daimanate agent who had infiltrated the Novitiates and relayed intelligence about the Helm back to his Master. Daiman's starfighters bombarded the Odionate camp and Malakite's troops, causing extensive damage. In the ensuing chaos, Mercy saved General Yulan from a fiery death.
Yulan ordered Mercy and her comrades to head to the top of the Mesa in a skiff while his artillery and infantry held back the invading armies. They soon reached the opening in the mesa and Mercy leapt into the cave where she found Grumani stonework on its walls. All the Novitiates were able to sense the dark side energy emanating from the Helm's presence. Before her comrades could join her, "Mercy" used her red Sith lightsaber to damage one of the skiff's engines, causing it to descend. Doyan and the other Novitiates managed to cling on and expressed anger at "Mercy's" betrayal, promising to find her no matter how long it took. Meanwhile, Kerra activated her green Jedi lightsaber and entered the cave. She entered a hallway where she found her mother Mercia Holt's satchel. Hoping they were still alive, Kerra entered a chamber only to find a mound of rocks and earth. She was quickly struck from behind with Force lightning by Odion, who himself had arrived on a personal shuttle. He quickly exposed "Mercy" as Kerra before revealing to her that he had already taken the Helm for himself.
Depths of despairEdit
- "They [Kerra's parents] had no one to live for -- but they died for everyone else. It hardly makes sense."
"It makes perfect sense, Yulan. If death can have meaning -- then life must have."
- ―Beld Yulan and Kerra Holt discussing her parent's sacrifice
Odion disarmed Kerra and took her captive. Kerra was brought to the top of the mesa where she was reunited with General Yulan and her former Novitiate comrades. Meanwhile, Yulan's soldiers explored the underground network of caves and tunnels while Odion's sages confirmed that the relic was indeed the fabled Helm of Ieldis. Despite his gains, Odion expressed frustration that he did not know how to operate the Helm. When Kerra taunted Odion by saying that he should instead find a trash compactor to fit over his head, her former Novitiate leader Doyan offered to kill Kerra while expressing disgust that there had been a Jedi infiltrator among their ranks. In response, Odion remarked that he would have had her entire squad of Novitiates slaughtered had he not known Kerra's presence ever since she entered the Odion. However, he intentionally let her in because he wanted her to lead him to the Helm of Ieldis.
He also revealed further details about the events on Aquilaris Minor ten years ago: that he had captured her parents Aron and Mercia Holt because of their research on the Helm. Odion also revealed that the Claimer Wayman had been monitoring Kerra's whereabouts, reporting the information back to him. Meanwhile, Yulan and his troops emerged from the cave. They reported that they found some camping supplies and two Human skeletons, which had been crushed during an explosion. Yulan also discovered a necklace which was found to belong to Aron and Mercia; confirming the deaths of Kerra's parents. Faced with this discovery, Kerra descended into grief and anguish, activating the Helm of Ieldis. Odion then used the Helm to convert her anguish into destructive dark side energy.
The Helm of Ieldis had an immediate effect on the three massed armies, driving all the combatants into a homicidal frenzy. Within minutes, the combatants descended into a murderous rampage, killing their own comrades indiscriminately. Daiman himself narrowly survived an assassination attempt from Glenk. In the ensuing scuffle, he fought off Glenk and struck him with Force lightning, causing him to topple to his death beneath the Morbollon Mesa. With their armies in total disarray, Daiman and Malakite were forced to flee the battle while they could still resist the Helm's powers. Under the Helm's influence, the three armies brutally annihilated each other. Odion's rivals Daiman and Malakite narrowly escaped with their lives as their own forces turned on themselves. Following the successful test demonstration of the Helm, Odion and his entourage departed Skarpos on the Gravedigger, taking a captive Kerra with them.
Despite his initial hostility towards Kerra, one of her enemies Yulan came to grudgingly respect Kerra for risking her own life by infiltrating the Odionate to find her parents. Towards the end of the journey, Yulan would spend some time meeting with Kerra in her holding cell. He expressed his surprise that Odion had given so much attention to a young woman, admitting that he had expected a great and powerful general. An exhausted Kerra replied that she was not feeling at her best right now. The woman was also very tired due to the strain of her missions. When Yulan asked if she had come all the way from the Republic to find her parents, she replied that it was not part of her original plan but admitted she was hoping there was the slightest chance they were still alive.
Kerra lamented her failure for not expecting that Odion's spies were monitoring her. Yulan expressed sympathy towards Kerra, stating that she still took such a risk to find her parents. During the meeting, Kerra also expressed her desire to find her lost younger brother or sister, whom she believed was incarcerated in one of the Odionate cloisters. She explained to Yulan that was going to be her next search but conceded that she did not expect to have to do it alone. Yulan then explained the real purpose for his visit; a holorecorder had been recovered from the wrecked mesa chamber. His master Odion had viewed it privately and had ordered Yulan to bring it to Kerra in person.
It turned that the holorecording was a message from Kerra's late parents to Vannar or any other Jedi involved with the University of Sanbra on the Ieldis study. Four years after the Massacre of Aquilaris, her parents had finally recovered the Helm of Ieldis on Skarpos. Following their capture by Lord Odion, the couple had been forcibly impressed into Odion's Project Pandemonium. The Holts had intended to bring the Helm to the Jedi and the Galactic Republic for safekeeping but were unable to do so since the planet was besieged by warring Sith factions. By that stage, the Holts had run out of food and there was a permanent Sith presence outside the Morbollon Mesa. To prevent the Sith from finding the Helm, the couple made the fateful decision to blow themselves and the chamber up, in a last ditched attempt to deny the Sith access to the Helm.
Prior to their deaths, Mercia lamented she would never meet her younger child. She also left a farewell message for Kerra, wishing her good luck. They explained to her that her parents were sacrificing their lives for the good of all the children in the galaxy. They also reiterated that they still loved her and had never given up on the possibility that she had survived. Following the end of the transmission, Yulan conceded that the Holts had only feigned devotion to Odion's death cult. He added that they thought Kerra had died, lost everything, and sacrificed themselves on the chance that other people's children would be hurt. He surmised that they had no one to live for but they died for everyone else. For a Sith devotee like Odion and Yulan, this did not make sense.
Without showing any malice, Kerra disagreed and argued that her parents' sacrifice had made perfect sense. For her, their sacrifice signified that if death could have a meaning, then life must have a meaning as well. Shortly after their meeting, the Gravedigger landed on Vanahame. Upon landing, Kerra asked if Odion had wanted more anguish to feed on, adding that Yulan could tell his master it would not work on her. Yulan replied that Odion may have just wanted her to understand the Helm's potential. Upon realizing they had landed on Vanahame, Kerra reached the conclusion that Odion had come to the Cloister to harness the misery and sadness of the inmates within the planet-sized orphanage. By using the Helm to tap into these negative emotions, Odion's powers would thus be unlimited.
Showdown on VanahameEdit
- "Wayman wasn't the real claimer, Kerra Holt -- you are. We were as good as dead. I was dead -- and you saved me."
- ―Beld Yulan reconciling with Kerra Holt
On Vanahame, Kerra Holt was taken into Odion's throne room where she was bound to a Y-shaped platform. Meanwhile, Odion and his followers made preparations for an apocalyptic showdown that would end all life in the galaxy, beginning with the Grumani sector. Odion's Novitiates particularly Wayman and Doyan expressed their enthusiasm in wanting to end their lives in this dark side ritual. By then, Odion's Sith family had found out about Odion's nihilistic ambitions and the Helm's deadly powers; Matriarch Vilia managed to convince her feuding family members to set aside their differences and to launch an attack on Odion before he could fully activate the Helm of Ieldis' powers. Vilia also attempted to communicate with her grandson in a desperate attempt to reason with him but Odion ignored her transmission, determined to make himself the ruler of the entire universe.
Wayman had also installed subspace links that would transmit back life footage of locations targeted by the Helm to Odion's throne room for his master's entertainment. Odion attempted to goad Kerra by asking if she wanted to view her parents' holorecording again but the Jedi woman responded by telling him that she wished that his enemies would come after him. Odion rebuffed her snide remark by telling Kerra that he was ready for any attack from his relatives. Odion then gave the signal to his controllers to switch off all the lights within the Vanahame cloister. To activate the Helm's powers, Odion needed negative emotions like fear and despair in order to project the Helm's Force-induced homicidal rampages. For the first time, the Vanahame cloister was plunged into darkness, throwing all the children into a state of fear and panic.
While Odion and his Novitiates savored the tormented state of the children, Kerra and Yulan were disgusted. While Yulan had an important status within Odion's hierarchy, he had grown disillusioned with his master's needless sacrifice of lives and sadism. Yulan explained to Kerra that the cloister's lights had never been switched off before, adding that Odion needed anguish to power the Helm and that even the worse form of torture devised by adults was nothing compared to the frightened state of the children. Prior to donning the Helm, Odion taunted Kerra by telling her that she had missed out on her opportunity to accept the dark side willingly. Since she was not a true Novitiate, Kerra would only be allowed to watch the death ritual unfold. Odion also added that Kerra's anguish was only enough to make him happy.
Confronted with Odion's apocalyptic conspiracy, Kerra attempted to reason with Yulan. She tried to persuade him to use his starship to destroy Odion's facility from space; adding that the Cloister should be safe since its vacuum was sealed. Citing her mother's last words, Kerra reiterated that they could not allow Odion's scheme to continue. When Yulan asked if she was willing to die in order to save people she did not even know, Kerra acknowledged that she did not want to die but stressed that she wanted to save the child captives in the cloister and all the children in the galaxy. She also argued that while droids who could not accomplish anything when they were shut off, people could accomplish something good even in death. Kerra managed to convince Yulan that the lives of the galaxy's people mattered by stressing that his children mattered even if they were long deceased.
As the Helm's energies were still building up, Yulan took the opportunity to recuse himself from Odion's ceremony by asking for permission to go down to the cloister so that he could add his own energies to the Helm. Due to Yulan's track record of unwavering loyalty to his Master's cause, Odion was willing to grant this request. However, Yulan was actually intending to disrupt the Helm's powers by freeing the child captives. After Yulan's departure, Odion commenced the ritual by beginning with a credo of his nihilistic beliefs before exhorting his followers into a death match through the Helm's powers. The Helm also had an immediate effect on the wider Grumani sector with entire planets descending into killing frenzies. The Calimondra armada was also affected by the Helm's dark side powers with several warships opening fire on each other. Odion's rival Daiman was also forced to unleashed Force lightning against several of his maddened crew.
Giving in to her anger, Kerra was able to use the Force to break her chains. She then grabbed a Sith lightsaber and attempted to attack Odion but was stopped by her former mentor Wayman who reminded her that he had claimed her for Odion once and demanded that she give up. When Kerra refused to submit, Wayman punched her in the head, causing her to fall down. Meanwhile, Yulan entered the cloister control room where he overpowered the two operators and seized the controls, switching all the lights in the Cloister back on. This had the immediate effect of ending Odion's murderous rampage since the children's feelings of relief nullified the negative emotions which had powered the Helm of Ieldis. At that same moment, Yulan was preparing to inflict a final death blow on Kerra while Odion was preparing to unleash all the children's energies on the entire galaxy, an act which would bring about armageddon on a galactic scale.
Yulan's actions had an immediate effect on changing the course of the battle. While Odion was overwhelmed by the children's newly-found joy, Kerra took the opportunity to kill Wayman by impaling him with her lightsaber. By the time Odion had realized what was going on in the Cloister, Yulan had released the children from their bubble prisons. As the children rejoiced in their freedom, this sudden surge of positive emotions caused the Helm to overload, creating a firestorm which consumed Odion. In his final moments, Odion tried to parley for his life with Kerra, by begging her to save him from his enemies by taking him back to Jubalene where his burns could be treated.
Kerra refused by stating that Odion had nearly destroyed all life in the universe while wishing for the collapse of his empire. She also added that his death was an "eye for an eye" for her parents' deaths. Out of desperation, Odion mentioned that he could help Kerra find her long-lost younger sibling if she saved him. Unwilling to trust Odion at his word, Kerra rejected Odion's offer by stating unequivocally that all the children within Odion's cloister orphanages were her brothers and sisters. Following Odion's death, Kerra was joined by Yulan and the liberated children who had "adopted" the former General as their father. With the disintegration of the Odionate due to invasion by Odion's Sith family, Kerra and Yulan made strenuous efforts to liberate as many of the cloisters they could.
While they succeeded in evacuating thousands of children onto transport ships, the pair were unable to reach all of the twelve cloisters since other Sith forces including the Daimanate had occupied different parts of the former Odionate. While Kerra and Yulan were unable to reunite all the children with their parents, Kerra offered to bring their parents to them. She was also at peace with herself for discovering the fate of her parents and avenging their deaths. Before parting, Yulan shook hands with his former enemy and commended Kerra as the real Claimer who had given him a new purpose in life. Without Kerra, Yulan admitted he would have been as good as dead. After wishing farewell, Yulan departed at the helm of a fleet of transports carrying the children to the Republic. Meanwhile, Kerra stayed behind in the Grumani sector to continue her personal crusade against the Sith.
Personality and traitsEdit
- "The crazy one. The little girl that kept stealing the submersible. You're... Kerra."
- ―Joad Kreel's recollections of Kerra Holt
Kerra Holt was a headstrong and assertive young woman who was committed to the Jedi less because of a love for Jedi ideals, and more for personal reasons: her animus against the Sith was fueled by her childhood experience of witnessing the destruction of her family and home on Aquilaris at the hands of Lord Odion. Her experiences during the Massacre of Aquilaris left her with an abiding hatred towards this Sith Lord and she sought to frustrate his schemes. This motivated her to join the Jedi Order as a means of exacting retribution against the Sith. At the beginning of her odyssey, Kerra's worldview was starkly black-and-white, but softened and grew more nuanced once she experienced life in Sith space first-hand, with all its subtleties and contradictions.
She was able to think on her feet, as evidenced by her quick actions at Oranessan, which saved Operation: Influx from ending before it had even properly started. In fact, the entire operation was her idea: she had so impressed her mentor, Vannar Treece, by coordinating logistics for previous missions of his from the Temple, that he trusted her enough to prepare a plan for striking against Daiman. Operation: Influx was the first mission she participated in in the field where she quickly developed a reputation for her rash behavior.
Kerra was also a natural-born leader and used her leadership skills to assist the evacuation of civilians on both Chelloa and Aquilaris. She had a selfless concern for coming to the aid of other sentient beings particularly non-Force sensitive civilians trapped in Sith Space. Due to her childhood experiences, Kerra always retained a heart for helping those less fortunate than her even though they did not often reciprocate her assistance. During the Aquilaris campaign, her selflessness ran into conflict with the self-centered outlook of Republic Captain Jenn Devaad who believed that only those who helped themselves were worthy of assistance.
Despite her hatred for the Sith in general, she was occasionally willing to work with one Sith Lord against the other. Kerra thus subscribed to the ethos that "the enemy of her enemy was her friend." Following the Battle of Darkknell, she conspired with Lord Daiman against his brother Lord Odion since both shared grievances against the latter. On this occasion, she viewed the narcissistic Daiman as the lesser evil in contrast to the nihilistic Odion whose destructive tendencies were regarded as a threat to the wellbeing of the galaxy.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
- "You use the Force? The lightsaber's not just for fun?"
- ―Jarrow Rusher commenting on Kerra's Jedi powers
As with most other Jedi Knights, Kerra Holt was proficient in lightsaber combat and wielded a green lightsaber. She was capable of taking on a wide variety of opponents in melee combat including Sith Lords, Hutts and non-Force-sensitive individuals. Kerra was also capable of using the Force to levitate both objects and people, as displayed when she lifted three refugees on Aquilaris from the floodwaters onto a submersible.She was also experienced with concealing herself with the Force, able to stand in Odion's presence without him recognizing her. In non-combat areas, Kerra also knew how to pilot a variety of vehicles including starfighters, cargo transports and even airspeeders.
Behind the scenesEdit
The name Kerra is a contraction of Knight Errant, and started as a placeholder used by John Jackson Miller. Kerra's last name was inspired by the Andy Holt Apartments, in which Miller lived for a summer. Kerra Holt was first introduced as the primary protagonist in the new Star Wars: Knight Errant comic series which debuted with the release of Knight Errant 0 during Celebration V in August 12–15, 2010. She appeared as the main point-of-view character from the series' first story arc Star Wars: Knight Errant: Aflame, which ran from October 13, 2010 through to February 16, 2011. Her story background was developed by John Jackson Miller while the character was drawn by artist Ivan Rodriguez, inked by Belardino Brabo, and colored by Michael Atiyeh. She also appeared as a key point-of-view character in Miller's tie-in short story Star Wars: Knight Errant: Influx which debuted on October 19, 2010.
She later appeared as one of the three main point-of-view characters in Miller's tie-in novel Knight Errant, which was first released on January 22 [2011. Kerra would also continue to play a key role within the second story arc Star Wars: Knight Errant: Deluge, which ran from August 17 to December 21, 2010. In the first four issues, she was drawn by Iban Coello, inked by Sergio Abad, and colored by Atiyeh. In the fifth issue however, she was drawn by David Daza. She continued to play a major role in the story plot of the third story arc Star Wars: Knight Errant: Escape which ran from June 13 to October 10, 2012. Within this story arc, she was drawn by Marco Castiello and Andrea Chella, inked by Vincenzo Acunzo, and colored by Atiyeh.
- Knight Errant 0
- Star Wars: Knight Errant: Influx
- Knight Errant: Aflame 1 (First appearance)
- Knight Errant: Aflame 2
- Knight Errant: Aflame 3
- Knight Errant: Aflame 4
- Knight Errant: Aflame 5
- Knight Errant
- Knight Errant: Deluge 1
- Knight Errant: Deluge 2
- Knight Errant: Deluge 3
- Knight Errant: Deluge 4
- Knight Errant: Deluge 5
- Knight Errant: Escape 1
- Knight Errant: Escape 2
- Knight Errant: Escape 3
- Knight Errant: Escape 4
- Knight Errant: Escape 5
- Star Wars: Kenobi (Mentioned only)
- "Dark Horse: Into the Future"—Star Wars Insider 116
- "Blaster"—Star Wars Insider 123
- "Blaster"—Star Wars Insider 124
- "Blaster"—Star Wars Insider 128
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- "Authors of the Expanded Universe: The Legend of Dark Horse"—Star Wars Insider 154 (Picture only)