The Onderon Civil War was a dynastic conflict during the First Jedi Purge that struck the planet Onderon in 3951 BBY. The war occurred when General Vaklu organized a confederation known as the Onderon separatists in Iziz that resisted Galactic Republic rule in the sector. The separatists were intent on overthrowing Queen Talia, loyal to the Republic, and having Onderon secede from the Galactic Republic.
The Onderon Royalists consisting of loyal citizens of Iziz, remaining fragments of the Galactic Republic, and the Mandalorians brought the city under control and stabilized Republic control over the sector.
Though Onderon had been protected by the Republic for some time before the Civil War, there were many who felt that being part of the Republic had brought them nothing but trouble, leading to questioning at the time of the use of the planet's resources to try and help revive Telos and why they should give the blood of their soldiers to try and protect the Republic. This view was further fueled by their suffering at the hands of the Mandalorians during their crusade. Some believed that secession was the only means of preventing further trouble, while others held that membership of the Republic was worth the effort it took to maintain it.
As a result, the society of Onderon was split into two political camps. The pro-Republic faction grouped around young Queen Talia, at that time, the incumbent monarch. On the other hand, the separatist faction supported her cousin, General Vaklu, the commander of the Onderon military, who was not hiding his claims to the throne, and at the same time trying to gather more support within the Council of Lords, Onderon's deliberative body. Little did the commoners know, however, about Vaklu's shadowy allies.
Nevertheless, the political situation in general remained relatively quiet. While the Queen and the General disputed about every imaginable issue in the Council of Lords, there seemed to be hope that the confrontation would remain nothing more than confrontation, never reaching the stage of warfare.
- "I guess this blockade is a symptom of larger problems on Onderon."
- ―Atton Rand
Everything changed when the Ebon Hawk, carrying Meetra Surik, emerged out of hyperspace near Onderon. Vaklu and his right hand, Colonel Tobin, were expecting the vessel's arrival. They decided that by destroying Surik, they would be able to earn the allegiance of the Sith, who were in fact secretly supporting Vaklu, and that it was the time to provoke a conflict between Onderon and the Republic.
To give broader powers to his minions working to expand his power base, General Vaklu passed an edict granting exceptionally broad discretionary powers over military searches-and-seizures, as well as detention and torture of suspected Republic "dissidents" among the populace. In short, he could point his finger at anyone and declare them a "traitor". The act was specifically designed for his hardline loyalists to round up "spies" (journalists, et al) before they could leave the city or go underground, as they easily had the knowledge and research to utterly publicly humiliate and discredit him. He believed this would earn him great support among the population. This backfired miserably, as seen in the case of Captain Gelesi, a moderate Vakluist who sided with Vaklu in peace because of his distrust of the Republic, but was shocked by Vaklu's brutal treatment of the innocent who had no greater "crime" in many cases than to publicly disagree with Vaklu. This shock turned into downright horror when Vaklu showed his true goal was nothing short of regicide followed by a brutal dictatorship, and that he had allied with the Sith. Gelesi sided with the Royalists in the Civil War and was decorated for his service in the siege of Iziz and the later on mopping up operations targeting radical holdout pockets of resistance that existed for quite some time, mainly near the city center.
As the rift between Queen Talia and Vaklu grew increasingly wider, an equally large chasm opened between the ruling members of the Iziz Council over which leader to support. Many of the council members seeking to bolster the queen became ostracized, their views increasingly unpopular with both the public and the news media. A conspiracy emerged when it became clear that the general wished to eliminate the queen altogether. One of the loyal council members attempted to kill General Vaklu, seeking to protect Talia's life. He failed, the conspiracy was opened wide, and the councilman shot during the arrest.
By the time of the Ebon Hawk's arrival, a number of Republic ships had gathered on Onderon's orbit, awaiting permission to dock at Iziz. Tobin ordered his men to fire at the Ebon Hawk. While Meetra Surik's ship itself survived the damage, albeit requiring Surik to hide her presence on Dxun, the nearby moon, the event triggered a space battle (the Blockade of Onderon during the Onderon Civil War) with other Republic ships.
Meanwhile, Vaklu declared martial law and effectively spread misinformation through Iziz. The official news summaries presented Tobin as a war hero and claimed that the Ebon Hawk fired first, that it was a capital-class vessel which had destroyed 15 Onderon fighters and destroyed 2 Onderanian capital ships before being taken down. (In fact, the Ebon Hawk was a light freighter and only managed to disable six fighters before taking cover on Dxun.) While Jedi Master Kavar, Talia's advisor whom Surik had come in search for in the first place, did not believe in these lies, he understood that common people would believe in them—simply because they wanted to.
Battle in Iziz
When Surik, with the help of the Mandalorians on Dxun, finally reached Iziz and contacted Master Kavar, the Onderon military was put into disarray. Most soldiers simply did not understand what was going on when a squad of them, led by Tobin, attacked Surik, when they heard blaster shots flying over the merchant sector and saw the defense turrets suddenly go berserk and fire at Surik, who, however, managed to escape back to the relative safety of Dxun.
During Surik's absence, the majority of the military remained loyal to Queen Talia; however, they were no match for the Sith armada that fought alongside Vaklu. Street battles quickly turned most of Iziz into a smoldering ruin; only the Royal Palace's defenses remained as Talia's last hope. Meanwhile Sith and Onderonian fighters battled for control of the sky over Iziz. Both sides strafed the city causing massive collateral damage. In the fierce Second Battle of Onderon, Surik, having returned to Iziz and with the help of the remaining Royalist and Mandalore the Preserver's Mandalorians, breached through Vaklu's troops storming the Palace just in time to save the Queen and put an end to the civil war.
While Onderon suffered greatly during the conflict, its outcome was in general positive for the Republic. With the situation on Onderon stabilized and only one leader remaining, one loyal to the Republic, its position in the sector was reinforced, which, along with the stabilization efforts on Dantooine and Telos IV, also performed by Meetra Surik, ensured the Republic's survival, which had previously been highly uncertain because of the damage caused by the Jedi Civil War. It also brought to public attention the fact that the hated Mandalorians had indeed set up shop on Dxun, but since they aided the Royalist/Republic forces in defeating the Vakluist separatists, the two parties apparently learned to tolerate each other.
However, deciding to link Onderon's fate to the Republic, Talia set a course for the ultimate dissolution of her people's culture. Over centuries, they lost their identity and became the people of Onderon no longer.
Behind the scenes
If the player chooses to take the dark path through the game, they can side with Vaklu against Talia. After preemptively eradicating the Sith presence on Dxun, Meetra Surik battles her way to the palace. Eventually Master Kavar and Queen Talia are slain, and Vaklu becomes the new monarch. After the war, according to Traya's visions at the Trayus Core, Vaklu's reign will be cut short, but Onderon will permanently leave the Republic, and through that action, preserve their traditions and customs.
During the fight in the Palace, Surik is able to use the force power Battle Meditation to rally the player's chosen side. The game will only give you this option if the player has at least one level of Battle Meditation.
- Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords (First appearance)