Darth Nihilus (pronounced /ˈnaɪ.ə.lɨs/) was a Human male who reigned as a Dark Lord of the Sith during the era of strife following the Jedi Civil War. Before becoming a Sith Lord, he lost everything during the Galactic Republic’s war against the Mandalorian Neo-Crusaders. He survived the activation of the Mass Shadow Generator superweapon during the war’s final battle at the planet of Malachor V, which surrounded the planet with a destructive spatial phenomenon known as a mass shadow. Experiencing the shadow that obliterated almost everything on and around the planet made Nihilus crave Force energy. The affliction painfully ravaged his body while rendering him a wound in the Force. He was found by a seeker of these, the Sith Lord Darth Traya, who told him that she could teach him to feed his endless hunger. He accepted her offer of apprenticeship at the Trayus Academy on Malachor V, and, over time, he became one of three concurrent Dark Lords of the Sith.
Together, they formed a triumvirate with Traya at its head and her other apprentice, Darth Sion, as the third member. The trio chose individual names for themselves, with Darth Nihilus becoming the Lord of Hunger. The apprentices grew in strength during their training and eventually overpowered their Master. Sion defeated Traya, while Nihilus sapped her energy, before the two Sith exiled her and combined their powers to sever her ties to the Force. Nihilus’ affliction developed to the point where the Dark Lord was forced to call upon the dark side of the Force to encase his spirit within his mask and armor to stay alive. Sion and he then began a Jedi purge, causing the virtual extinction of the Jedi Order. Nihilus was responsible for the devastation of the planet Katarr in 3952 BBY, killing and absorbing the Force energy of the Jedi at the Conclave on Katarr along with every other living thing on the world save one Miraluka woman named Visas Marr. Marr was collected from the surface and Nihilus began to train her as his Shadow Hand.
One year later, Nihilus sensed a growing presence in the Force and sent Marr out to eliminate it. That presence was a female Jedi, Meetra Surik, who was on a quest to find the few Jedi Masters who had survived the Purge. When Marr attempted to assassinate the woman, Surik defeated her and convinced her to turn to the light side of the Force in the process. Although Nihilus returned to lurking the fringes of known space, the man was eventually tricked by Traya into initiating the Battle of Telos IV in an attempt to absorb a Jedi Academy that actually lacked any Force-sensitives aside from the headmistress. Nihilus met a large fleet comprised of Republic and Mandalorian forces at Telos that distracted him while his flagship, the Ravager, was secretly boarded by a small force consisting of Surik, Marr, Mandalore the Preserver, and his Mandalorians. The trio confronted and slew Nihilus in the ensuing duel while the Mandalorians rigged explosives that destroyed the ship. The Sith Lord’s armor maintained his spirit and was collected for burial on the Sith homeworld of Korriban, where his soul could be contacted with a holocron of his own creation.
"You of all of us have no conception of what it means to be Sith"
What on earth are you talking about, Kreia? was my first thought, hearing her say that to Visas.
My second thought was, oh, duh.
There is a stark difference between simply existing in or following the Dark Side of the Force, and being a Sith. We’ve seen various Sith espouse this view in other parts of the EU - Count Dooku springs to mind, if I’m remembering correctly, and his reasoning is the common one: Sith have access to some sort of organised base of Sith knowledge, Sith Force techniques, and so forth, that go beyond “merely” allowing (anger and hate) to fuel one’s Force use and thus make them more powerful.
Kreia though, speaks of something else. Because it’s Kreia, of course, that something else is philosophy, and the way one orients themself to the world around them.
Visas, in her view, has no notion of being Sith because her entire experience with the Dark Side is that of despair, servitude, and wishing to die. And a Sith - a Sith is one who desires power, desires mastery, and uses the Force and those around them with the end goal of their own freedom. Visas has seen none of that in her experience with the Sith, and has in fact experienced the exact opposite.
What’s interesting to me is that Visas becomes more Sith-like, actually, in turning away from her Sith master. Under the Exile’s tutelage, she achieves greater power, she learns to turn bare survival until death into living and believing - their bonding through the Force helps to create her freedom from the trauma that has defined her life since Katarr.
And, though Kreia would likely be unhappy to hear it, Visas’s arc actually forms a sort of mirror of her own. To gain the freedom each desires, she subordinates herself to the Exile, whom she has placed all her trust and love into that the Exile will prove the means to undo that which she believes endangers the entire galaxy.
The Exile doesn’t look up from where she rubs the cloth over her hands, removing the last of laigrek from them. The sun of Dantooine is setting, illuminate the grassy fields in orange and brown. Visas does not seem to take offense at the lack of acknowledgement–she rarely does. For not the first time, the Exile admires her ability to just accept.
And feels sympathy for it, too.
She senses Visas’s presence draw closer, until her companion is sitting to her back. The edge of the salvagers’ camp allows them a view of the Enclave. The ruins. The evening light bathes the grey stones in gold, and Exile tries to close her eyes and see her home as it used to be. Younglings chasing pylat birds and insects, herself a frustrated padawan trying to get stronger in the Force and painfully remaining average in it. Kavar smiling and encouraging her with gentle chastisement.
“In some ways,” the Exile settles on diplomatically. She leans until they sit back to back. She feels Visas’ breath as it rises and falls. Steady. Present.
“Since we have landed, I have thought often of Katarr. Of whether or not I would set foot on it again, should the possibility present itself.” Visas’s fingers splay out on the grass, until she finds the Exile’s hand. She traces over it, every knuckle, every nail. All the spots where blood has been shed on her account. “There is much loss in this galaxy.”
The Exile swallows and nods, turning her hand around so her fingers interlace with Visas’s. “I am sorry for Katarr.”
“And I am sorry for Dantooine.” Her words are easy. “But where there has been loss, there is still something gained.”
The Exile closes her eyes. Feels their new bond through the Force, new and weak as it might be.
“My life, for yours,” she whispers, and the voice seems to carry along the grass. “And something new, for what is gone.”
“Something new,” Exile agrees. She squeezes the Miraluka’s hand tighter, and keeps it as her anchor as the golden light retreats from the Enclave, leaving behind only ruined stone.
Saw Star Wars: The Force Awakens
for a second viewing and, considering I spent a good portion of my day Tuesday
arguing with people about Rey, I decided to pay extra close attention to her
story-line this time around.
Katarr was always meant to be the opposite of Rinne; the embodiment of all Rinne is fighting against. Where Rinne was brought up with the warmth and comfort of friends, Katarr was abducted, neglected, and taught to seek solace in pain: it was life’s true constant.
Rinne will stand against Katarr for the belief that such an evil does not belong in the galaxy, where Katarr will fight tooth-and-nail to prove that she is Rinne’s better; that all her life, her instructors were wrong: that she was not weak. She would never again kneel before anyone. She would surpass Rinne, no matter the cost.