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The following material has been excerpted from the book The Last Days of Arhul Hextrophon, which is an analysis of a lengthy treatise Arhul Hextrophon had written in the years prior to his mysterious death at his home on Chandrila a short time ago.

 

Following his retirement, Hextrophon had begun spending an increasing amount of time gathering and sorting through the extensive volumes of material he'd collected over the decades from fellow researchers and on voyages to mysterious sectors of the known and unknown regions of the galaxy. Hextrophon's treatise examines several occurrences centered on the beliefs of obscure cults and their correlation to the mythologies of ancient and vanished peoples. The renowned historian was fascinated by certain elements that, on the surface, appeared unrelated, but which he felt contained bizarre and sinister strains of interconnectedness. It should be noted that several historians of the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances have expressed misgivings over the validity of Hextrophon's conclusions, and though few have examined his entire body of work to collate the evidence he put forth, many have already dismissed his post-retirement work as "paranoid" and "conjectural," citing mental strain as the actual explanation for what they have labeled "unsubstantiated” and “apocryphal."

 

The current archivist emeritus of the Historical Council, Voren Na'al—a protégé of Hextrophon—has chosen not to proffer forth any opinion until he has examined all of his mentor's documents firsthand, while Master Historian Palob Godalhi has cautioned against any rash repudiation of the respected man's later compositions.

~Wolam Tser


Religious extremism has always made for fascinating study, at least to one whose mind is wont to haunt the sacrosanct halls of antiquity, cogitating over the sociological mutation of races and peoples in the vast, inexorable march of time.

 

Our galaxy has seen a myriad of singular and spellbinding examples of cultic movements. There are the Dim-U Bantha Priests, the Nuns of G'aav'aar'oon, the Ancient Order of Pessimists, the Fellowship of Kooroo, and the Church of the First Frequency. More macabre examples include the Cult of M'dweshuu, the bizarre Cult of Waru, and the Church of Infinite Perception. Some are created by accident, such as Han Solo's Cult of Varn, while others are designed with an agenda, such as the Cult of the One and the All, created by the Besadii Hutts.

 

Despite a multiplicity of differences, most cult members share at least this collective: they have an obsessive devotion to a person or principle, and the object of that devotion often appears aberrant and mysterious to the modern-day galactic inhabitant. The Followers of Quay, for instance, center their worship on a precognitive children's toy, while the Amaran Sisterhood devote twelve hours during the vernal equinox to fertility rites in honor of the Hoojibs of Arbra.

 

Though unusual, most cults are relatively innocuous, requiring little more than reclusive solitude or fetishistic objects of devotion in which to practice their unorthodox beliefs. But there are other affiliations, those spoken of only in hushed tones and the fables of childhood—though fables they are not. There actually exist caliginous orders of the profane, baleful dark-side congregations croaking vitiated liturgies of Sith-lore in dismal, subterrane vales and legend-haunted peaks. The Shapers of Kro Var bear close scrutiny, as do the noxious Sorcerers of Rhand—of whom the late Lord Cronal claimed membership—hidden as they are behind myth in the far off stellar clusters of the Nihil Retreat. Yet even these pale into prosaic when measured against the shadow of elder days, when wild things roved the black recesses of space, the fiendish, insensate powers who held dominion over the sapient Firstborn. 

 

For now, however, let us discuss the following unusual sects, of which certain facts have come to light. Each demonstrates seemingly unique forms of reverence, nomenclature and practice. Yet, grotesque and incomprehensible as they may seem, there are connections, distant strains of commonality, echoes of repeated notes, resounding tones made more astonishing because of their separation by vast leagues of stars and even further distances of time.

 


The Guild of Vindicators

 

The following communiqué was recovered from an Imperial record vault following the Liberation of Coruscant during the Galactic Civil War. New Republic Intelligence has ascertained that is from the shadowy Imperial agent known as Blackhole. His identity long shrouded in rumor and speculation, Blackhole is now known to have been Lord Cronal, a mysterious figure working behind the scenes at Imperial Intelligence, but serving his own agenda. For a number of years prior to the Battle of Yavin, he operated as head of that organization, where he was given a measure of impunity and position that even Armand Isard—who formally ran Imperial Intel until his daughter’s betrayal—did not command.

 

 

Lord Vader, I bid you dark greetings.

 

At your behest, I have infiltrated the accursed Guild of Vindicators in an effort to unlock their secrets and unmask their weaknesses. They never knew a servant of the Emperor was amongst them. With the Dark Side as my ally, I was able to mimic their own unique powers enough to convince them of my place in their organization. They are zealots, and like all fanatics suffer from an unwavering belief in the righteousness of their cause. Such rigid arrogance is their blinder, a weakness that I am certain would be easy to exploit should the time come to do so.

 

The Guild of Vindicators is comprised of a relatively small cabal of self-appointed vigilantes with unusual and mysterious Force powers unlike those we have seen in other traditions. They believe it their duty to impose punishment upon those they perceive as having committed great evils, prime amongst these are individuals who have “misused the Force,” as they say. Thus, their chief adversaries have been various dark-side cults and acolytes, against whom they have long engaged in battle. In that they have kept would-be usurpers entangled in plots and skirmishes, they serve the Emperor’s purpose to remain as they are. Should they later prove too victorious, however…

 

The Guild was first brought to my attention while I was yet serving as a Prophet of the Dark Side, for they had targeted the Prophets for extermination. It amused me to note that in their dark hooded raiment and self-righteous, judgmental hatred, they much resemble the very dark-siders they despise, hypocrisy that as you well know existed in the Jedi of old.

 

The Guild is categorized into several branches, each named for the power wielded by that branch. Their abilities are intriguing, a utilization of the Force that seems to belong to neither the light nor dark side, but stemming from the realm of shadow that lies at the borders of each. Their distinguishing mark is a skull-stone pendant. Each member wears it around the neck to signify adherence to the primary principle of the Guild. The skull, of course, is the signifier for death—the ultimate penalty for transgression.

 

Guild members are comprised of various genders from numerous races, though human and human-related species seem to dominate the primary branches. Abilities vary from member to member, but all utilize their powers for the same purpose. Each member of the Guild is trained to delve deeply into the victim’s memory to uncover acts of violence, injustice or cruelty committed in the past. As a rule, they do not take life from those judged adversely. There are some exceptions—the rust-furred Lepi known as Kezzin, exiled from the Guild for bludgeoning to death a fellow member with his bare foot. Most members, however, need never raise a fist or weapon in battle. Their powers compel perpetrators to become their own punishers, a distinction—they believe—that keeps them from being sullied by the sins and crimes of their prey.

 

The primary branch of the Guild is occupied by those known as the Shamers—a group headed by a man named Clat, who is the cardinal leader of the organization. Shamers have the power to create feelings of extreme remorse over past wrongdoings. Thoughts of suicide are introduced as the sole means to expatiate one's conscience. So compelling are the suggestions of guilt and self-annihilation, they override the victim's natural sense of self-preservation.

 

The Unveilers utilize similar guilt-inducing suggestions, influencing those they've judged to publicly admit their crimes and offer no resistance when punishment is administered—even when that punishment may mean death. Several of these have infiltrated the law professions of various Core World firms. The Guild are delusional enough to believe that one day the entire galaxy’s judges will be made up of Unveilers!

 

Those known as the Redeemers handle the few the Guild feel are not yet beyond rehabilitation. Their tactic: erasing their quarry's mind. This branch is the most altruistic, and the smallest in number. They are surprisingly secretive, and I was unable to uncover how discriminating this power is amongst them. It is said that some can erase the memory of a single crime, while others the entire memory, removing all knowledge of family, friends, and the past. They deem this a mercy since it spares their life. Redeemers are convinced that this ability to give wrongdoers a clean slate means it should be applied to all of the galaxy’s criminals. The official creed of the Guild places high value upon Redeemers and their gifts, but the truth is that the leaders of the Guild have little real patience for their ideals. In turn, there is a growing movement of Redeemers who seek to break away from the Guild, believing its leadership to have become cynical and bloodthirsty. It is my belief that their powers are somehow connected to the Tsils, a sapient mineral based lifeform who taught the force-sensitive Theran Listeners on Nam Chorios how to remove unwanted memories.

 

The Reflectors are a much more vicious faction that focuses on violent criminals and those who have perpetrated larger-scale acts of destruction. Through the use of illusion, Reflectors force the criminals to suffer a reflection of their own violence as if through the eyes of those they slaughtered. A murderer might experience the terror of being stalked and killed, while a ruthless military officer might be forced to witness his homestead and family obliterated. Oftentimes, a Reflector will work with Splinterers or Shamers to add extreme guilt to the mix (and, invariably, suicide). I have discovered that several Imperial officials who had been reported missing were in fact destroyed in this fashion.

 

The branch closest to the dark side is the Splinterers. These take a wholly different approach to retribution. When the Guild deems death too lenient a punishment for a criminal, they send the Splinterers. This unique group often works in tandem with other branches, tracking and isolating targets, then shattering their victims' mental stability until their prey is reduced to catatonia, plagued by an unceasing succession of nightmarish hallucinations. The psychological trauma produced by such emotional torture is enacted as both a punishment and a means of keeping a victim unable to ever again harm others, as it renders them unable to function in society. The results are fascinatingly disturbing, and quite impressive. Their actions, of course, produce a reverberating effect that brings the Splinterers ever closer towards the dark side. Could they be made to serve the Emperor, they would make for ideal Inquisitors.

 

The most potentially powerful, and the smallest in number, are the Annihilists. Specializing in punishing dozens, potentially even hundreds of offenders simultaneously, Annihilists are said to be able to produce inexorable feelings of paranoia and rage so intense that entire armies will turn on their own kind, eliminating one another without hesitation or conscious thought. The Guild has claimed to have employed the skills of this branch in numerous conflicts over the years. In my time amongst them, they were spoken of only in whispers. It is my belief that such a group—if they ever existed—are no longer extant, though I cannot verify this with any certainty.

 

The Guild of Vindicators have proved a fascinating subject of study, worthy of future examination—particularly their abilities with the shadow elements of the Force. Where and from whom they obtained the key to these powers I was not able to ascertain, for Clat holds secrets he will share with none. But there are veiled wisps in the far reaches of the galaxy few have conceived, dwarf galaxies yet unexplored; and beyond the voids, a twilit domain of unnamable hordes seething in darkness, awaiting their strange stars to align. If, as I suspect, the Vindicators managed to penetrate these occluded realms, the secrets they brought back have proved most interesting.

 

It goes without saying that the Guild has categorically marked both you and the Emperor as targets for retribution and extermination. Though I have no doubt any such plans would be doomed to failure, I nevertheless advise caution.

 

Your Humble Servant,

Blackhole

 

 

Some years later, the Guild was severely crippled after setting its sights on Palpatine's apprentice, Darth Vader. The elder Guildsman Clat the Shamer conspired with Lady Dhol of Cheelit, who may have been coerced to aid in trapping the Dark Lord. Dhol and her people are themselves a subject of much speculation. Known publicly as the J’feh, it is my understanding based on the sparse records I have been able to uncover that this is a fiction invented by them to hide the fact that they are not evolved descendants of the harmless extinct octopi J’feh native to Cheelit, but are beings eerily similar to the ancient Mimban idol Pomojema. Known in ancient times as Typhojem, this being is believed to have hailed from a binary star known only as Zoth, an unknown realm thought to exist beyond the galaxy, and which has an etymological connection to N’zoth (which can be transliterated as New Xoth), itself a disturbing implication.   

 

After destroying the Shamer, Vader hunted down the remaining Guild members on Cheelit. The remnant left in the galaxy have since learned of their leader's failure and gone into hiding, much like the Jedi before them. There is no doubt Vader sent spies to infiltrate their sect in order to better learn their secrets, but whether they were successful or the Guild converted them to their cause is not known at this time.

 

 

The Order of the Terrible Glare

 

The following document appears to have been composed some time after the dissolution of the Secret Order of the Emperor during the early period of the New Republic. The sender is again Lord Cronal—codename: Blackhole. The recipient is in all likelihood the Sith apprentice Lumiya, suggested by the moniker used in the address and their former affiliation. What they uncovered is unflattering to the Jedi Order in the extreme. Given the passage of time, I don’t believe it will be harmful to reveal to those interested in ancient history, certainly not to the new Jedi Order under Luke Skywalker, but I would deign to hold back this information until he’s had the necessary time to examine it and proffer forth his opinion.

 

 


Dark Greetings My Lady,

 

Having sifted through the reams of data-recordings and archives from the fortress on Dromund Kaas, I uncovered numerous items of interest I know you'll be pleased to obtain when next we meet. But there is one item I think you will find of particular interest. You are the most cunning woman I have ever known, and I have no doubt you'll find a clever way to put it to use... No one besides us, and the now vanquished Prophets of the Dark Side you helped eliminate have knowledge of this information, a secret which the Jedi Council had kept hidden for a millennia!  How the Prophets obtained it perhaps no one will ever know. Darth Sidious would have tortured them for months had he discovered they'd been keeping such a delicious scandal from him. Ahh, but what a debacle! I almost don't blame the Jedi for keeping it secret, hypocrites though they were. Savor it, My Mistress.

 

 

 


Data recording from Jedi Master Simikarty speaking before the assembled Jedi Council:

 

Everyone knows and celebrates the fact that it was the Jedi who ended the shameful Pius Dea rule on this historical day. What most of you may not know is that it was the Jedi who helped start it in the first place.

 

(Audible gasps and whispers)

 

Unpleasant, as it is to know that a thousand years of persecution, bloodshed, and religious hypocrisy lie at the footsteps of our own failings, short-sightedness, and complacency, it is crucial that I inform you of this so that we of the Jedi Council remember what has occurred and must not be forgotten, and so that the Jedi of tomorrow may learn and benefit by it. To all else, let these events continue to be sealed lest our failure be exploited by those who would seek to do us harm. 

 

The Republic was steeped in corruption, vice and gross abuses, concerned more for the special interests of galactic mega-corporations and the funds they received from legal but unethical donations. The Jedi Order found itself at constant odds with the senators they were tasked to work alongside, and finally decided it was time to take more drastic measures, and ensure that Supreme Chancellor Pers'lya was removed.

 

But who to replace him? The spiritual purity, uprightness and moral clarity of a man like Aldon Contispex seemed to align with the goals of the Jedi, and in turn he championed the Jedi as examples for the galaxy to follow. True, he was a member of the Coruscant Merchant’s Guild, but it was in this role that he gained renown for his ethical practices. Also, he professed worship of the Goddess, but what of it? There were copious religions in the galaxy. Who could imagine that this seemingly modest faith, which decried corruption and immorality, would grow into the xenophobic and rapacious monster it did?

 

But if backing him was the Order’s only mistake, it could be chalked up to a simple matter of misplaced faith. Tragically, it was not. In secret, the Jedi Order helped Contispex get elected, something they could not have done without having first conspired with the Pius Dea caliphate. If the general public could be forgiven for not knowing the deeper significance of Goddess worship, the same could not be said for those intimately associated with them. The Pius Dea were not just insular. They were vengeful and delusional, deigning the Outer Rim as the realms of Chaos and those beings who lived there as outsiders and threats to peace. This was disguised by the fact that they accepted nonhumans into the faith, but a deeper examination would have borne out that such were never allowed top positions of prominence. And, if they held an outward antipathy towards the Hutts, well, that feeling was certainly not uncommon in and around the Core. 

 

The sacred creeds of the Pius Dea were said to have been channeled by the Goddess to the Malikha, the name given to their first religious leader, Queen Maeve, to whom the faith owes its very beginnings. Not just any woman, Maeve was the ruler of Drogheda at the time the Hutts raided her planet in the Kymoodon era. Betrayed by someone close to her, Queen Maeve was taken into captivity by the Hutts, who proceeded to murder the Queen-Mother and her husband. Though they could not break her, it was said that she was debased and humiliated. 

 

Goddess worship was ancient on Drogheda. It is an offshoot of Vianism, known as the Beatific Countenance, which existed long before Maeve’s time as a mystery religion of which little is known. Dark rumors claimed that Drogheda ancients practiced a bloodthirsty form of worship to the Vain Goddess Onrai, and etymological links have been found to support the connection. During Queen Maeve’s time, however, only a few young female adherents kept the Vianist faith alive, and it was a mere shadow of the old cultic rituals, little more than the games of youth who enjoyed dabbling in the taboo. It is said that Maeve had been one of these rebellious girls in her youth. What is known is that she resurrected the Goddess while in captivity, gave her back her teeth and a thirst for blood and vengeance.

 

Queen Maeve’s writings—which she claimed were the channeled voice of the Goddess herself—are now the cornerstone of the Pius Dea faith, and by the time she reemerged as ruler of Drogheda, freed during the defense of her world, she was no longer merely queen, but the Warrior-Queen Malikha, leader of the faith. She took on husbands and had numerous sons who helped spread the religion far and wide on Drogheda and beyond.  Sagaciously, she gave the goddess universal appeal, as several systems already incorporated goddess worship of one kind or another, and this allowed a syncretic blending of traditions that spread the faith further and faster. Speculation amongst academics continues to be debated as to which facets were newly introduced by Malikha, which were altered into new forms, and which draw connections to the ancient worship of the Vain Goddess Onrai.

 

Her texts are clear on one thing: the need for a holy war to rid the galaxy of its irredeemable elements by a purge of infidels without and apostates within. That the Council was aware of this is evident from a heated, if one-sided, debate that had been recorded—though little seen—in which two Jedi Masters argued that the Pius Dea held to a literal interpretation of their holy writ. The majority of Masters disagreed—against prevailing evidence—claiming that it was merely symbolic and that in either case Contispex was a moderate who held to moral ideals, but eschewed the more controversial aspects of his faith. The charges that his immediate circle was corrupt and in league with the legendary Malkite poisoners, assassins who are known to have hailed from the planet Malkii (one of the earliest worlds to have come under the sway of the Pius Dea faith, and who even changed their name to honor the Malikha), the Masters dismissed as conspiratorial ramblings. And so Contispex was brought into power, and for many years, as his abuses increased and the purges began, the Jedi stood by him.

 

When Contispex's atrocities began to grow too large to cover up or dismiss, the Jedi Masters began to change their views towards him, but by then it was too late. Key positions in the government and military had become staffed by Pius Dea faithful. When his son succeeded him, forty years later, the Council hoped he would be different from his father; if anything he was even more rigid and obsessed. For the next thirteen years, the Jedi again remained silent as the Republic plunged into madness, given over to the fantasies of a fanatical cult who brought horror upon the galaxy in their striving for so-called moral purity. At last, at the end of this time, sanity took hold of the Jedi Order and they left Coruscant for Ossus, much to the anger of the then reigning Contispex, who saw it as an affront to his righteous crusade. He wasn’t alone in believing the Jedi should have stayed on Coruscant. 

 

Master Carel Kapekos was a Sunesi born in the era of the Pius Dea; his parents were adherents of the faith, as was he when he was accepted into the Jedi Order. The Council did not prohibit Jedi who served the Goddess to cease doing so, a decision, I believe, was misguided.

 

Lest you think I am suggesting otherwise, Kapekos was a model Jedi. But he could not escape what culture and his upbringing had hardwired into him. He did not start off a fanatic, and he could see that the Pius Dea Crusades had gone too far. Yet, he bore no love for the Hutts either, as his Sunesi brain seemed to be able to recite the dates and occurrences of each recorded Hutt atrocity over the centuries. Even if the Crusades had gone too far, he believed that stopping the Hutts and other predatory races was the right thing to do. Kapekos also felt that the Jedi could rein in the worst of the Pius Dea excesses, and serve as a model for how they ought to behave. To that end, he worked as a Knight Errant, protecting innocents from the terrible things that awaited them aboard Pius Dea’s giant Cathedral Ships. 

 

Kapekos was respected on both sides, but naïve, failing to recognize that the Pius Dea were profiting from war with policies that rewarded Republic colonialists who went off to convert—and in many cases conquer—alien worlds, plundering alien treasures and artifacts that sold for high prices in the Core Worlds (yet another hypocrisy given the official dogma against what they deemed impure alien art). The Pius Dea made themselves fabulously wealthy, which was, of course, their motivation for sending marauders in the first place.  

 

This was of lesser importance to Kapekos, who believed he could see the ‘bigger picture.’ On one of his missions he received a series of visions that included the rise of a tenebrous army of adversaries borne from amongst the Jedi. As if this paranoia wasn’t bad enough, he had an even dark vision of a nameless terror from beyond the Outer Rim. Kapekos became obsessed with uncovering recondite secrets of the past that would help stem the tide of the encroaching darkness, along with a militarily strong and vigilant Republic was needed. The Jedi were unmoved, knowing that visions were open to interpretation and never specific enough to base actions upon, but they allowed Kapekos to hold to whatever views he felt were right.

 

In the final years of the Crusades, the Pius Dea Jedi came under suspicion.

 

It began when the Caamasi, a people we have long respected, allied with Alsakani leaders to plead with Council to forsake their neutrality and help save the galaxy from the cruel domination of the Pius Dea. The Council agreed and began planting agents in the rank and file, as well as amongst the deepest conclaves of the sects’ strongholds. This meant, however, leaving Pius Dea Jedi, and their close companions, in the dark. 

 

Not very long after, anti-Pius Dea sentiment began to spread in the Republic, for there were not a few who secretly despised the harsh rules and fear-mongering pontificated by the religious hierarchy. When the Pius Dea began scrutinizing its own worlds in order to hunt down those they deemed were spreading heresy, or not living up to their rigid standards, they created even more enemies. When at last the so-called “heretics” declared themselves, the Pius Dea found itself split between the Faithful and the Renunciates, and war emerged anew.

 

This time, however, they were outnumbered. The Alsakan and Caamasi had recruited Hutts, Duros, Herglics and other victims and adversaries of the Crusades. With the aid of the Jedi, there was a decided slant against the formerly dominant cultists. The last nail in the coffin came when the Bureau of Ships and Services covertly seeded Cathedral ships with rogue navicomp codes, sending thousands of them into unknown hyperspace coordinates where they were never seen again. The Pius Dea leadership reemerged at Uquine, and there they were summarily destroyed. Their reign of terror was over. But it was not the end.

 

Those Jedi who had been Pius Dea supporters were incensed. Foremost amongst them was Kapekos, for he’d been a Jedi Master, and was wounded by the Council’s lack of trust in him. But Grand Master Biel Ductavis was firm in his stance: abandon worship of the Goddess and remain a Jedi, or leave the Jedi Order entirely. This only added insult to the already injured pride of Kapekos, who argued the right to his religious freedom. Was he, who had kept an upright record and not participated in any of the atrocities committed, to be held accountable for their actions? Had the Jedi forgotten that they themselves, a millennia earlier, had brought Contispex I and the Pius Dea into power? Yet, as with his earlier vision, it fell upon deaf ears, and as he would not abandon his faith on principle, he grievously departed the Jedi Order. 

 

He was not alone. 126 joined him. Of these, 59 went off on their own paths. Some fell into vice, while others into hopeless campaigns to try and reignite the faith. These were termed “the Fallen.” The other 67 remained with Kapekos, deigning him their leader.

 

But where would they go and what would they do? If not for an odd occurrence they’d have likely dispersed or abandoned their misguided beliefs and returned to the fold. But Kapekos received another vision, this time leading him to the planet Garn, where one of the Cathedral ships had just made an unexpected crash landing. All that remained of civilization on Garn were a few small towns clustered together and made up of fading pre-fabs in a state of disrepair. Even in its prime, Garn was a desolate relic of a world, its towns surrounded by ancient ruins of indeterminate age and origin, beyond which sprawled a vast terrene of dismal grey rocks, ochre swamps with lethal fungi, and atrophied fields of diseased trees.

 

The crashed ship had few Pius Dea leaders, but onboard was a force-sensitive Pius Dea adherent, a young man named Alquist, who Kapekos would go on to train and befriend. The 67 Jedi were hailed as saviors, but what were they now that they were no longer Jedi? Believing the Force had guided them there to fulfill his vision, Kapekos sought to create a new Force tradition, one that would honor the better aspects of the Pius Dea and maintain vigilance across the stars. They would go on to call themselves Shaman.

 

The Jedi Order returned to Coruscant. This was bitterly ironic for Kapekos now that he was no longer one of them, as the return to Coruscant was something he had once argued for.

 

The Order, however, was changing into something quite different. No longer content to be mere servants of the Force, the conscience of the Republic, and guardians of justice and peace, they were given newfound power that for centuries they were bereft of. Across the Core, the Jedi were hailed as heroes and leaders. Grand Master Biel Ductavis himself replaced Contispex XIX as Supreme Chancellor. Kapekos was aghast, and foretold that this would lead them down a path of arrogance and corruption. 

 

For many years, the Shaman worked in secret. Freed of the Jedi’s restrictions, they delved into new ways of utilizing the Force. The rest of the survivors of the Cathedral ship sought to build homes upon their new barren world. Those who were technologically inclined were employed to create a vast and intricate computer system from which the Shaman could embark upon missions and attempts to trace the lost Cathedral ships. To that end, the Shaman were content to remain amongst themselves. 

 

This was not the case for most of the other 59 expelled Jedi, many who were using their abilities as vigilantes, and some to manipulate planetary systems, cheat at newly reopened gambling dens, and became thieves of museums and temples, robbing them of priceless antiquities. Some amongst the Fallen had never even passed the trials, but the senators of the Republic, particularly those looking to see the Jedi removed from power, chose to not see the distinction, and these exiled Jedi and padawans became an embarrassment to the Order and to the Republic now ruled by a Grand Master. 

 

One would have thought the populace wearied of domineering crusaders, but it was if they felt a loss in the absence of the Pius Dea, a void they were looking to fill. In such a climate of spiritual vacuity and fear, the newly sanctioned Jedi Vindicators arose. Akin to the Jedi Guardians of old, but closer in spirit to the Pius Dea Crusaders we had just conquered, the Jedi Vindicators were charged with tracking down and arresting the Fallen, a commission that came to be extended to all unlawful Force users.

 

The Jedi Vindicators started off detaining any renegade Force users they could find. In keeping with the regulations and laws of the Republic, they would be tried and punished accordingly. Yet after months of successful arrests, the prisoners escaped. Investigations revealed that they were aided in this by a Force user on the outside. The Jedi Vindicators vowed to recapture these renegades, and pressed for permission to employ harsher methods. The Council, wanting this embarrassing escapade behind them, conceded to any plan the Jedi Vindicators might put forth.

 

It is not known what involvement, if any, he had. But despite lack of evidence, Kapekos was accused of having freed the imprisoned Fallen, and charges were brought against him and his followers of practicing heretical dark side powers, of attempting to create a rival Order to supplant the Jedi, of following the banned Pius Dea faith, and of being a threat to Republic peace. Kapekos discovered these charges and sought to address and correct them, trusting in the Jedi’s impartiality and respect for truth. Alquist pleaded with him not to go before the Order, but Kapekos departed, unaware of the Vindicators’ real purpose. 

 

The Vindicators had gained reluctant approval in the Council to use a rare Force technique that would strip rogue Jedi of the Force so that they could never again use it. Some of the Masters decried this action, warning that to use the Force to damage or destroy another’s midichlorians violated the Living Force, but their voices went unheeded. To this day, we are not certain of all the techniques the Vindicators developed. As a pale breeze churned into an angry squall, so would grow the power and prestige of this invisible, but effective sect. For the Vindicators, Kapekos and his apprentices were an affront to the Force itself, heretics and apostates deserving of the harshest recompense.

 

Kapekos came before them in good faith, but he was seized and arrested. The Vindicators tortured him with their techniques, and ultimately blinded him to the Force. When Kapekos was finally released, he was no longer the same man. So brutalized had he been by the Vindicators that any attempt he made to call on the Force was met with crippling and excruciating pain. He returned to Garn, where it was said he could feel the blinding light of the Jedi from across the galaxy, and so his existence came to be one of perpetual torment.

 

Kapekos was filled with rage at the Council's betrayal, and a desire for revenge followed his every thought. Some said he turned to the dark side; others claimed that he discovered a hidden remnant of the Legions of Lettow; still others believed that the evil spirit of Xendor haunted Garn. What can be discerned is that with the aid of Alquist and others, Kapekos began to learn and develop arcane abilities and powers wholly different from any Jedi or dark-sider. Whatever it was, Carel Kapekos transformed into something else and was no more.

 

Kapekos now designated himself Rur, an ancient word for open spaces and freedom, a tribute perhaps to his new life on Garn, a life apart from the Jedi. Yet others say it was given him by those who heard his loud, deep cry of anguish and command when he addressed the crowds, for Kapekos’ voice sounded like a great roar.

 

With himself as High Shaman, Rur restructured the shamanic order that would forevermore be known as the Order of the Terrible Glare. The Terrible Glare was aptly named in mockery of the Jedi’s light that had so wounded and betrayed him, but it is also a name given in honor of the Goddess, who in the literature was depicted with the pinprick glow of a shining star in each eye, a mark of terror for any who would oppose her and her servants.

 

The writings of Rur became the holy text of the Terrible Glare. They were insane, rambling documents filled with hints and cryptic intimations, warnings of an ancient and blasphemous portal on Garn, of a terrible god that once ruled there, of a gateway to another plane of existence, a baleful realm he called the Night Realm. The shamans had a great pyramid built to house and control the gate, for it was there that Rur determined he would find the power he needed to save the galaxy from itself. There were intelligences in this realm, he said, beings of strange abilities who sought a foothold into our dimension. His writings said that they could never be allowed in, though whether through naiveté or accident some came through. The Rozzum, he coined them from an old Sunesi word. Rur wrote that he could control the foul entities, and they in turn taught him the power of illusion and deception. Within his own keep, a hidden fortress on Garn, he had his own private pyramid built, a smaller replica of the one housing the gate. Within it he could imbue his mind and commune with the Rozzum.

 

The Vindicators' triumph over Kapekos had given them great prestige and influence in the Council, but their reputation soon turned many against them, and those who opposed the Jedi came to Garn to join Rur at this time.

 

Word of the Terrible Glare reached our ears from Rur’s second-in-command, Alquist. He came to Coruscant, claiming things had gotten out of control on Garn, that… demonic entities were escaping through the gate. The Vindicators were given permission to go to Garn to arrest his followers.

 

It was a trap, a deception of Rur’s to lure the Vindicators there. They suspected this and went anyway, anxious for a fight. Yet, Alquist had not lied. There were, in fact, entities on Garn that no citizen of the Republic had ever before seen. The things of children’s stories, dismissed so readily by adults, proved to be as real and terrifying as once imagined!

 

A new war had begun. United by a banner of resentment and hate, the Order of the Terrible Glare learned to use their combined powers to create vast Shadow Domes, great pockets of darkness blotting out the light side of the Force for miles around. Within these vaulted canopies, defiled towers had been erected, and into them loathsome forms had come to dwell. Rur had crossed a line from which he could never return. Once he had warned us of nameless beings seeking to come from beyond; now he welcomed them! Through proscribed rites and caliginous lore, he and his followers were taught shadow powers by shadow beings from an outside realm. The whisperings of the Rozzum, those atavistic, abhorrent armies of pale squirmers and unmentionable things had seduced and corrupted his mind. Other beings were reported too, horrific winged, biting creatures out of dark legend that roared and chanted incessantly to their obscene, lost gods. But the Rozzum did the bidding of the Shamans, for they were trained to hunt down, slay and devour Jedi in preparation for the greater war to come.

 

The Vindicators had been too proud and arrogant to think they could be defeated, convinced as they were that the light was on their side, forgetting that the Force sides with life, not with armies. Into the ghoul-haunted lands of the Shadow Domes the Vindicators were lured and there they were met with a flood of consuming hatred emanating from the tenebrous armies of the Order. It was then that the Shamans sprang the soul-snares, ancient crystal shards that held evil opaque prisms with the power to transfer the mind and life-essence of a Jedi, ripping it from the destroyed body and imprisoning it. But it was the way in which Rur procured them that froze the Vindicators’ blood, for the soul-snares were not simply discovered or made. They were brought through the dark threshold as gifts!

 

At last, the Jedi Grand Masters arrived. Blood and madness exploded upon the stygian wastelands of Garn, as both sides were decimated. It was described as the most egregious, monstrous battle the Jedi had yet fought, a holocaust of madness, carnage and devastation that went on for months, costing the lives of thousands of Jedi and renegades on both sides.

 

The Rozzum scurried back to those shuttered dens of eldritch chaos, the atramentous lands where stalk things that should not be. We shut the portal and sealed it for all time, glimpsing only briefly that strange and ghastly expanse on the other side. Many of the soul-snares could not be found, and the land was too dangerous for even the Jedi to remain searching. Garn has been since decreed a forbidden world, and we turned our faces back to the stars we know.

 

Although it was a pyrrhic victory, as are all such conflicts, the Order of the Terrible Glare was no longer a threat to the galaxy. Rur’s body was never found. It is thought he perished in battle, but it seems more likely he followed his masters through the doorway into that other dimension. There are Jedi who whisper that Garn yet houses remnants of the Terrible Glare, and that it was but the first of several worlds populated by their numbers, hidden in the far recesses of the galaxy, perhaps in the Unknown Regions or Wild Space. But if this is so, we’ve not heard. Space is vast, and the Jedi are fewer in number, with too much to do without having to roam about blindly seeking phantom menaces.

 

When word first reached the Republic of the Jedi’s internecine struggle, it was reported as a troubling, internal affair. Undercover footage and interviews soon leaked, but even these framed the situation as a kind of holy war, and Supreme Chancellor Biel Ductavis was crafty enough to spin the story in such a way as to say that Garn was the holdout of a violent Pius Dea terrorist group.

 

The truth of the Jedi Vindicators was now known to the Council and they were disbanded. Never easy is it to return to the light whence one has dwelt in the shade. What few Vindicators came back to Coruscant railed against what they saw as the Council’s betrayal of their sacrifice. As a result of their defiance, they were excommunicated from the Jedi Order entirely.

 

It is no small irony that they went on to become the very thing they had so vehemently fought against, a sect of Force-wielding vigilantes with arcane powers. But we would not repeat our mistakes and attempt to pursue them. So long as they left the Order and the innocents of the galaxy alone, we would leave them alone. Thus did the Guild of Vindicators arise, and in the shadows they continue to dwell, not truly dark, but neither light—a grey mist of arcane Force-mages blinded by their arrogance and extreme views.

 

It remains a terrible reproach upon us sitting on the Council today that, wrapped up as we were in the needs of the Republic, we could not see these tragedies unfold, could not see that this was not the Will of the Force. Yet these errors need not forever reproach us if we choose to learn from them. The Garn Conflict could not have begun without poor judgment on all sides.

 

Considering all this, is it then not the course of wisdom to eliminate the potential in future Jedi to succumb to such conflicts? It is no secret that for years I have counseled against taking in adult apprentices. Many of you have argued that the Council's admonishment against married Jedi having children and raising families was inappropriate at best, and an affront to the Living Force at worst, contending that many of the great Jedi of old would never have been allowed into the Order if such a measure had been in place.

 

I do not disagree. Yet we must learn from the past, not live in it! The Pius Dea Crusades demonstrated how extremism can bring about a reign of terror. Kapekos demonstrated how ones’ ties to the past can put a Jedi in conflict with his duties in the present. The Vindicators demonstrated how easy it would be to create a Jedi Dynasty that would rule the galaxy with an iron fist. If we wish to assure the galaxy, and ourselves, that we are not creating a dynasty to take over the Republic, we must change.

 

A Knight should know only the Temple, the Code, their Masters and fellow students. Ideally, for this to be the case, training should begin prior to the age of three, before one forms strong loyalties and emotional bonds with family, friends and home worlds. I would see this rule one day become as inviolate as the Jedi Code itself. To avert other problems that would arise from a sudden move in this direction, this change must occur over a gradual period of time in order for the peoples of the Republic to grow accustomed to the practice and necessity that we must impose. Families of Force-sensitive children will not readily give up their children, but if life of dedication at the Temple is deemed a great honor and noble sacrifice for the galaxy, they will more readily submit. The Senate will understand that it is for the good of the Republic that we do this, and will aid in this endeavor.

 

We are fortunate that the government remains largely unaware of the Jedi’s role in having brought the Pius Dea to power, not to mention the catastrophe that occurred on Garn. That world is far off from the heart of the Republic, and what news reached the Core was quickly forgotten in the wake of other issues closer to home. Thus, it's my recommendation—and the Council agrees—that we continue to seal these records. Only those attaining a seat on the Council should ever be apprised of their secrets, and in this way, they will benefit from the mistakes of our past.

 

We of the Jedi Council rejoice in the future, and a restored Golden Age that a new Jedi Order may yet usher in. May the Force be with us all!

 


 

Seekers of the Soulworm

 

Over the years since my official retirement as Master Historian, I've traveled far and wide in search of the records of legends, mythologies and religions of ancient and long-vanished races. I have in recent days begun putting together the pieces of a cosmogenic puzzle, and in this endeavor have been given tremendous aid from fellow archivists, historians, adventurers and lovers of truth. I received reams of epic poems by famed explorer and archaeologist Mungo Baobab. I inherited the master database of millennia-old texts from Professor Oron's daughter on Delari Prime. Among the exquisitely ancient and priceless artifacts dug up on Attahox, R'khemas University Professor Miska Tonique uncovered an obscure myth-cycle which she is sharing with me as she translates it. The Mistress Mnemos supercomputer on Fusai is likewise providing a composite picture of what appears to be a creation-myth in conjunction with the discoveries made by Director of the Institute for Sentient Studies, Tamaab Moolis, respected anthropologist Mammon Hoole, and xenoarchaeologists doctors Corellia Antilles and Fem Nu-ar, all who have delved in the circles of the ancient and esoteric. And of course, my faithful droid companion Cue-nyne has aided me in ways too innumerable to recount here.

 

What scant evidence I've been able to gather suggests a fragmented commonality between certain primordial myths and forgotten legends and a cabal of pernicious, clandestine cults worshipping a corrupt pantheon of chthonic forces. Little concrete data links the isolated sects along the fringe sectors of the galaxy, but I have come to believe that Soulworm cults—though extremely rare—are amongst the most disturbing of any in the known universe—and perhaps the deadliest. The origin of belief in this evil god and its extradimensional allies is only now being understood, but if many of the recovered texts are to be believed, maleficent entities of similar description and behavior were known and venerated in far distant aeons before the dawn of the Republic and the birth of the hyperdrive.

 

Discernable in the unfolding narrative is that at its beginnings lie a race of beings that appear to correspond to what a number of lost civilizations have referred to as the Celestials. So far removed from the known elements of time and space, it might be said these were among the first to roam the newborn galaxy in the lonely gulfs when the stars were yet young. The legends go on to detail a terrible universe-wide plunge that coincides with the rise of hideous and cyclopean entities that correlate with those mysterious alien progenitors referred to as either the Old Ones or the Architects or both, though there is some confusion with the latter term, which appears to have been applied to another later group of benevolent beings who arrived on the scene. The more ancient of the two were generally regarded as a malignant pantheon through which came widespread violence, war and destruction. I have a lead that, should it prove true, will clarify matters and uncover the secrets of our long-forgotten past.

 

Former Chief-of-State Leia Organa Solo has been instrumental in providing me with the Gung Slab needed to understanding the origins of the strange beings described in the fragmentary legends of this primeval and enigmatic myth-cycle. In the early years following the Battle of Yavin, she, her husband Han Solo, and the Wookiee Chewbacca ran afoul of one noxious cabal of Soulworm cultists calling themselves the Five, ostensibly named for its five members, each of whom appeared human and possessed extrasensory abilities. These powers enabled them to enter the minds of Solo and Organa, where they implanted disturbing illusions, waking nightmares that mimicked reality with strong emotional resonance.

 

 

Had Chewbacca not intervened in freeing a mysterious, heretofore unknown being of awesome power that destroyed the Five, their deaths would have been certain. While some have argued that psychopathy lay at the root of the cruel and barbarous torture the cult employed, documents have come to light which indicate that the elicitation of physical and emotional pain is implemented for supernatural, cultic purposes—namely, to feed demonic eidolons off the waves of suffering that emit from intense negative emotion. Once sated by the victims' agony, derangement and eventual destruction, the cultists believe their deities will, by gaining strength, move closer to reclaiming the galactic throne and bestowing on them the rewards of knowledge and power.

 

In addition to this cult’s mental abilities, there are questions regarding the bizarre colossal ship the Five dwelt in, as well as the wand they wielded, called the Black Fireclaw, which shot obsidian rays that devoured its victims in seconds. The origin of such artifacts remains unknown, though cultist lore offers cryptic hints involving a distant plane of existence, an inverted galaxy said to be the dwelling place of their obscene divinities. Various ancient legends speak of this Other dimension as a realm bordering our own, a realm of dark stars and black holes, where the gods writhe in their sepulchral worlds awaiting the day of their eventual return.

 

It must be said that were it not for the Skywalker and Solo families reporting on such extraordinary encounters, the connections between such fantastic and hoary legends would be decidedly suspect. But the integrity of their testimony is beyond doubt.  

 

 

Based on noxious lore and various legends from antiquity, the beings the soulworm cultists worship can be grouped into greater and lesser deities, two trinities of each. The lesser are designated as such due to their abilities, as well as their arrival later in the cosmic narrative, and are regarded as possible offspring of the greater deities—of which four are paramount, though only three are revered. The fourth appears to have been written off as a betrayer, which would explain why his name has been expunged from the manuscripts with mention of it being punishable by death.

 

Beyond these, there are three of which I have scant information, though what little I’ve uncovered I will catalogue here.

 

Typhojem/Pomojema

'The Left-Handed God' is a reference identifiable with Typhojem, the primary deity of the pure-blooded Sith race, who was said to have killed a god with his left hand. Unburied relics, sarcophagi lids, temple walls and statuaries extant on Almas, Korriban, Khar Shian and Gap Nine confirm the appearance of Typhojem as a tentacled, blood-soaked abomination, squat with clawed wings. Due to disturbingly striking similarities to the Mimban demon Pomojema, as well as to an entity found depicted on age-old stone carvings on Kabus-Dabeh, it is believed that the so-called 'Left-Handed God,' Typhojem and Pomojema—translated from Archaic Mimban as The Great Priest—are but epithets for a pelagic grotesquerie, ichthyoid in semblance and considered so malevolent by those who worshipped it, the god is seldom referred to even in legend. This superstition likely accounts for the creature's various appellations, and it may have been unholy (or impossible) to pronounce its original name.

 

Gorog

One of the primordial gods of the Killik Dark Nest is "Gorog the Night Herald," a name that can be traced to the myth-cycle of the Soulworm cultists as Tharagorrogaraht, the Night Queen. The being is associated with the proselytization of galactic inhabitants to the dark side and as the procurator of slaves. Gorog is usually depicted as an enormous winged, violet-blue scarab that commands vast hives of insect servants and is guarded by a host of winged sorcerers. In her appellation as the “The Night Spirit” on the Endor moon, she is worshipped by the native Dulok tribes and reviled by the Ewoks. Stories tell of her creation of the Shadowstone and her battle against Hexprax, who controlled the movements of the sun. Hexprax is known and feared as Orla by the Duloks. The Night Spirit was said to have disappeared into the void where it scurried away to avoid the wrath of Orla, but other accounts indicate that Gorog was destroyed. So as to provide her a beacon, the Wizards of the Night Spirit incessantly buzz and roar in prayer to their lost goddess.

 

Ooru

Little could be found to corroborate “Ooru,” the third of the lesser deities in the cosmogony of the Architects, until the remains of the Charon Death Cult ship Desolate was explored and its treasures examined. Descendents of the Charr Ontee who had been flipped into Otherspace during the Rift Disaster in the Kathol sector, the Charon had found a new home in that strange dimension. But as their new world was slowly being ravaged by the proximity of a black hole, the race began to suffer deleterious mental effects. The first to succumb was their commander, who transformed into the delusional “Prophet of Death.” He decreed that because life was an abomination, death must be spread to all living creatures. With only sublight engines, the Charr Ontee were confined to their star system. But as evil fate would have it, their planet lay on the fringes of a cluster of inhabited planets in that star system (which, in their derangement, they believed to be the entire galaxy). Over the course of centuries, war waged across that system.

 

The Charon saw fit to pillage valuables from the civilizations they conquered, included among which were the historic records of some of those races. Philologists and linguists attempting to crack the codes of these unknown writings managed to translate engraved pictorializations pertaining to a debased civilization who worshipped a bloodthirsty divinity transliterated as Ooradryl. I believe it is this being that corresponds to Ooru, the third of the lesser deities of the Architect pantheon, but there is yet a third possibility.

 

Ooradryl is a cunning, leech-like monstrosity of indeterminate substance, clothed in iridescent scales that form a cyclopean geometric cube. He is a god of healing and devouring. The engravings depict a vast populace bowing before Ooradryl as he bestows blessings in exchange for the sacrifice of chosen individuals whom he feeds upon as a delicacy. Descriptively and etymologically, Ooradryl bears an uncanny resemblance to the transdimensional being known as Waru, who Luke Skywalker encountered on Crseih Station, and given the similarity in appearance, behavior and nomenclature, it is very likely the same creature or an entity related to it. The ramifications of this will be discussed in a later publication.

 

Kopa Khan

It is surprising that far less is known of the so-called greater deities, but there appears to be several reasons for this, not least of which is their antiquity. Nevertheless, evidence exists for widespread worship of these beings.

 

The most well-known of these is Kopa Khan. Although appearing in variant forms, this god can be found on several ancient pyramidal structures throughout the galaxy, such as the Dark Side Pyramids of Zabba II, the hieroglyphs of Alashan, and inscriptions on the Kwa Star Temples. Despite its variant sobriquets (Kol D’da Shan, Co Pana Cine) the translation is the same, referring to a dying star or black hole. Thus, Kopa Khan is the god of death and dying. Originally said to come from foreign stars (along with the two others that accompany him), Kopa Khan later vanished and is said to have either moved on to other worlds or to have died himself. The prophetic language used in the legends declares he will return again one day. The genocidal Lortan Fantatics, who ravaged the Yushan sector in the Resilian Purge, were Kopa Khan cultists who believed their god would manifest as a hybrid human-Hutt.

 

The Inscrutable One

The second deity of the greater trinity is interconnected with the other two, but is not worshipped, and acts more as a principle or symbolic elemental. “Ab’aci” (alternately spelled Ibon’aci, Ap’aci or simply Ap) is “The Inscrutable One” and the master of time, geometrics and numbers. He was said to be the first to bring the knowledge of technology and weaponry to the universe. Ruins of an incalculably ancient Star Temple on Dathomir bear markings of dedication to him. Derivations of this deity’s name can be found in various ancient languages for the words “time,” “infinity” “aggregation” and “portal.”

 

The Soulworm

The primary deity in this linked trinity is the Soulworm. Also translated "Eternal Burrower," it has been seen in cuneiform descriptions from worlds as remote as Leritor, Ch'hodos, Alashan, Dathomir, Seoul 5, and others, referencing a deity sometimes called El’Shuddem or “the charnel god,” a loathsome carrion worm of cyclopean proportions. The Soulworm is depicted in various forms, at times with single or multiple heads, anterior tentacles and terrible faces feeding off the vitals of its sacrifices piled in a great heap around it. The Soulworm was a creature of such jealousy and evil that it was transformed and banished to a life of torment at the center of the galaxy before it devoured itself for all time. Legend depicts it as a sensory vampire feeding off negative emotions and the suffering of others. It is said to have birthed the various creatures called pale squirmers and numerous giant annelids and aschelminths populating the planets of this galaxy.

 

Few come as close to matching this latter description as the prodigious Leviathans of Corbos, the Kdak and the Silan (and a case may be made for the Exogorths). The Leviathans, once thought to be the bio-engineered constructs of Sith magic during the Hundred-Year Darkness, were more likely the summoned and reengineered remnant of a long vanished progenitor. Jedi archives recovered from Ossus mention beings like these so steeped in the dark side, they may have been its receptacles. Though rare, they were said to have been formidable hunters of Jedi.

 

In nature, annelids are shy and retiring and not known for having aggressive, violent tendencies. If these creatures are, in fact, descendent from a terrible avatar of the dark side, might this account for the numerous encounters Jedi such as Luke Skywalker have reported with vicious, predatory giant annelids? Is it possible Skywalker awakened the dormant nature of these creatures, or that perhaps his Force powers drew up the offspring of those ancient enemies of the light from underground?

 

Kashi Mer Connection

Of these greater and lesser deities, it is not without significance that direct parallels can be made with another double-trinity of evil gods known as the Niman, worshipped by the extinct Kashi. Prior to the cataclysm that saw their sun go supernova, the Kashi Mystics known as the Guardians of the Breath—who served as priests of the Kashi Mer Dynasty—had received precognitive visions warning them of a terrible vengeance that would be visited upon them if they persisted in abandoning their long-standing worship of the Niman, whom they had repudiated as the maleficent root of the galaxy’s ills.

 

So committed to the cleansing of Niman idolaters among them, the Guardians had begun exiling any who would not abandon the old ways. Included among those was a Guardian named Xendor, who had continued to practice the black rites in secret. He was head of the Royale Macheteros, warriors dedicated to protecting the monarchy, and the last of the Kashi Mer to be exiled. Xendor would go on in later years to raise an army of darksiders known as the Legions of Lettow to destroy the Jedi in the terrible war of the First Great Schism.

 

Unlike Xendor, the great majority of the Kashi Mer would not return to the dark sacrifices and carnal practices that characterized worship under the double-trinity, taking hope instead in the ancient prophecy of a galaxy restored. As they had come to love their world, they refused to abandon it in the face of fear. In truth they did not know in what generation the calamity would come or in what form, just that it would. But it is said that even if they had known, they would not have left. The end of their world came as foretold, but it is their courage that became their epitaph, for songs are still sung today—over 25,000 years later—of the Kashi Mer and their courageous march against the coming doom.

 

Lady with the Locust Heart

There is an older, forgotten deity also referenced by the Cult of the Five, called the "Lady with the Locust Heart," though who she might correlate to, if anyone, remains uncertain. If my mission proves successful, I hope to be able to identify her with further support from various obscure sources to determine if veneration of this feminine divinity can be traced back to the aphotic rings of historic record. Is she the inspiration for the Trandoshan Scorekeeper, the Godoan’s Dancing Goddess, and the galactically ubiquitous Vain Goddess, Onrai? Although there are hints that point to this, it is too early to speculate.

 

The Shunned Deity

There is a divinity listed among several species that corresponds to the amorphous-shaped fourth deity that is shunned by cultists. Since this being goes by different names, it is not always an obvious identification, though, certain personality attributes and duties are common in all of them. Amongst the avian races, for example, the Mrissi pay homage to Har-meneb-ti, Lord of the Sky; the Tarong revere Ora, Lord of Light; the Tikiarri’s great messianic figure is Armihet, Avatar of the Sun; the rarely seen Qom Qae and the Qom Jha attribute their gifts of flight and breath to Rahoris, Hunter of the Dawn; and the S’kytri have numerous legends of the Great Hormaket, Prince of the Sky, who battles ever against the Lords of Darkness. It’s worthy of note that when Kharys, the Sith-trained Majestrix of Skye came to power she forbid the ancient legends, particularly the annual reciting of the Epic of Hormaket.

 

Father of Shadows

The least known deity referenced by the Cult of Five is one called “The Father of Shadows.” To my knowledge, this entity does not correspond to any of the greater or lesser known gods. From what little I have gathered, he is the most ancient of all the evil gods, and possibly their progenitor in some way, shape or form. The cult had claimed to have left the “normal dimension” for another, and it is possible that they had acquired a tremendous store of ancient knowledge from this other dimension. Who or whatever this “Father of Shadows” is, I am grateful his cult is not widespread in our galaxy.

 

 

 

Most recently, the Bureau of Scouting and Exploration Services sent me a copy of a recording that I now transcribe here, a recording that has circulated among the New Republic Scout Service for over fifty years. As a matter of course, I must warn the reader that it is not for the faint of heart.

 

This transmission was purportedly intercepted by a starship pilot identifying himself as Rohb Lakh. It should be noted that while scientists have dismissed this transmission entirely, claiming it as either a forgery, a joke, or the ravings of a madman, Admiral Jayme Makkadin (formerly of the New Republic Scout Service and Imperial Survey Corps) disagrees with that assessment, as do I. The pilot's encounter bears a striking resemblance to that horrific event described by the Solos.

 

For now, the original has been forwarded to the Antiquities Museum of R'khemas and continues to be studied.

 

 

Lieutenant Jayme Makkadin

Nova Scouts

Bureau of Scouting and Exploration Services

 

Lieutenant Makkadin,

 

As per our recent communication, I am sending you the disputed datapad entry recovered from derelict ship #JL100-719-97. This is the document found in the deserted vessel discovered adrift in the Degan Gas Cloud of the Elrood Sector in the Metharian Nebula Territories over fifty years ago. If this is not a hoax, as some scientists have claimed, then the author had clearly lost all touch with reality near the end, the poor man. All that awful screaming is difficult to sit through. Of course, it is not unheard of for pilots lost in space to suffer derangement. It must be a terrible thing when the mind turns against itself. Despite its content and rather disturbing nature, perhaps you'll find something worth following up.

 

Vin Boej’f

New Republic Scouts Service

Department of Information

 

Datapad Found in a Deserted Ship

 

Catalog #099.9.1624-0

File #702108

 

These are likely my remaining moments alive, and my final chance to get something right. My name is Captain Rohb Lakh, and at this moment, my scanners are picking up a nebulous object approaching. I see nothing out the viewport. But it's coming and time is running out.

 

It might be said that I've been on a troubled path since the time I was young enough to fly my own ship: the lure of new worlds, hidden riches, high-stakes adventure and all the accolades and admiration that come with that. Dissolute, profligate and irredeemable they called me, and all that from those who liked me!

 

Several weeks ago, I began the expedition that would culminate in my final journey, a necessarily solo one to the distant and largely unexplored Elrood system on the hunt for a legend. What I discovered was horror, and the realization that comes at the finale of a life spent in vain and empty pursuits. Just maybe you’ll learn what I didn’t. Probably not, but at least I can say I tried.

 

Know this, fellow adventurers: there is nothing to be found in the antique maps of grizzled pirates and star charts of weary smugglers; no joy in the trophy heads staring back at you from long-vanquished beasts; no reward for the endless hours of loneliness cruising the void between the stars.

 

I entered the Degan Gas Clouds, long rumored to be the hiding place of lost treasure and space dragons. These were what I'd come to seek, and why I had to come alone. It was illegal to hunt Duinuogwuin, not that I cared, but spending years chopping up bricks on an icy prison world was not my idea of a good time.

 

Star Dragons are considered the ultimate prize—something no one has ever killed or caught (not that a few haven’t claimed to). I wasn’t the first to go after them, and I wouldn’t be the last. It didn't matter to me that they were sapient creatures. If I’d wanted to, I could’ve come up with long list of justifications to shut up the self-righteous, alien-hugging types, and soothe my conscience at the same time. You’ll probably say I didn’t have much of a conscience, but hey, I never hurt humans, not even that harpy of an ex-wife after she stole everything I owned.

 

So it was that my obsession would end here. One final mistake to a life of mistakes. Once I was within the midst of the roiling, gaseous environs, my instruments began to sputter and fail. Before long, I spotted a large drifting asteroid, and at that instant my scanners came back to life and revealed that something alive existed there…

 

The ship was suddenly struck, by what I couldn't tell. Another, much stronger jolt knocked me unconscious. Later, I dreamt. And in my dreams, I saw things, disquieting faces floating in a grey aether with black holes in the place of stars; there were ships with odd angles; cyclopean cities rising up in basalt and stone; and worse, loathsome, pale, undulating shapes, squirming and writhing atop mounds of flesh and bone...

 

I awoke in an unknown place, a keep within the asteroid I later learned. Its interiors were lavish but antiquated, dating back centuries, perhaps longer. I had little time to explore, for I was soon met by my hosts: three women who identified themselves as the Sisters.

 

The eldest was thin and matronly, her dark hair pulled back tight. No name was offered, and since the way she looked at me made me think of a maze-fly caught in an Eberon web, I dared not ask. The other two called themselves Jirell and Cairon, and were easier to gaze upon, but something in their bearing irritated me.

 

I asked of my present circumstances, and received only vague responses and suggestive smiles. After a few pleasantries, I was offered a tour of the extravagant manse, though certain rooms were passed by without explanation and I determined that I’d examine them at a later date on my own. The ostentation of the manor did not fail to leave an impression, nor the valuable works of art and sculpture that adorned it. As you can guess, I wasn’t above stealing, but throughout the walkabout in various stately rooms, I couldn't shake the feeling that someone else was there, out of sight, watching. I asked if they lived by themselves, and the matron said yes, but the others just looked at each other and laughed.

 

During the rather unpleasant meal that followed, I learned that the three were part of an insular religious sect dedicated to serving several obscure ancient gods. Jirell explained that their deities had been deceived by a fallen demon, who murdered or banished them to a shadow realm, where they were held back from their destiny as the rightful rulers of the galaxy. But when the stars were right and sufficient sacrifices made, the gods would return to reclaim the universe they first shaped. And when that happened, the Sisters would rule as queens upon worlds of their choosing.

 

I didn’t need or ask for further explanation, as it was obvious these women were not in their right minds, and a fervent desire to get out of there overcame me. I thanked them and expressed my regrets that I could stay no longer, as pressing demands lay ahead, but Jirell and Cairon only laughed and insisted I spend the evening. The matron added plainly that my hunt for Duinuogwuin was in vain anyway, as such creatures did not reside here, though one or two were known to have gotten lost passing through. I didn’t recall having informed any of them of my pursuit, but the crone seemed to know this, and smiled viciously, adding that she would love to catch one herself.

 

Cairon and Jirell rose to show me my quarters, after which they intoned that if I should seek solace I might visit them in their rooms later that evening. I thanked them and closed the door behind me, checking for a lock or bolt, and cursing the fact that there was none. No matter. I wasn’t staying. By cover of darkness I’d grab a few things they wouldn’t notice, and get back to my ship.

 

I allowed a few hours to pass, and after I felt assured they were asleep, I escaped the confines of my room for the prizes hiding behind the sealed rooms I’d passed earlier in the day. I carried a small torch on my person at all times, and met with nothing but my own trepidation through the long corridors. At last I approached a particularly ornate, carven door that depicted unusual and decadent designs that had been expertly rendered. Availing myself of the opportunity, I entered and shut the door behind me.

 

The room was circular and disappointingly small, but another egress existed on the far wall. Only one adornment decorated the room, a pedestal in its center. Chained to it was a tome of clearly ancient manufacture and writ. It was no wonder they kept it from the peering eyes of strangers. I shined my torch on the book, trying to ascertain its value. The book was open and clearly scribed in an alien tongue, but the illustrations… I am no priest, but the pictures that adorned the pages I cannot describe—as they could only be derived from the most vile and repugnant of minds—grotesque visions of misshapen monsters flaying and satiating themselves on still-living beings. Complex and complicated formulae accompanied these, clearly for magical purposes, several which I could see were meant to summon grotesque things from wherever such things lived. 

 

I walked away from the book to search for less provocative baubles when I remembered the other door. It too was unlocked and I walked in… only to find a scene of madness. The husks of several mummified beings of various races stood arrayed along the walls before me. There was the mummy of a once-beautiful Zeltron, another of Mandallian Giant, and still others; the body of a strange small monkey-like creature with a skull instead of a face stood in one corner, while a rare Spiner was propped up in another. The looks of terror on their faces is something I will never be able to erase from my mind, for it was clear these poor souls had been murdered in the throes of extreme fear.

 

I turned to depart, and there the Sisters stood gazing upon me. Startled, I attempted a lame excuse for my presence, but the crone lifted up an amulet she wore, out of which an inky ray emitted, enveloping me. With that, everything turned to black.

 

An unknown time later, I woke up in bed on my own ship, which was again operational and drifting far from the terrible asteroid and noxious gas clouds of Elrood. I figured I must have dreamt the whole encounter and was grateful for it. My wife lay beside me, smiling warmly and caressing my hair. It seemed natural and right that she should be there, and so I didn't think to question it. We spoke of past times, friends and places long forgotten.

 

Hours seemed to pass in this manner, and I closed my eyes to feel her lips, only to press upon the face of the grinning dry husk of a mummy. In horror, I saw that my fiancée had transformed into a mouldering corpse!

 

I instantly awoke from the illusion and realized I was still aboard the craft of the Sisters. The harridan lay in the place where my wife had just been, and the younger two were cackling again with that damned, deranged laugh! I knew then that I’d been fooled by a hallucinogenic trick perpetrated by these mad, awful creatures that could not be called women.

 

It was but the first of many such awful phantasms to come. I was told I would not survive—that none ever did—and I didn’t doubt it; I was never questioned, nor informed of the reasons behind the horrific things they did to me.

 

*****

 

I hear it outside the ship now. It's close.

 

The Sisters are long gone. They had been alive for centuries—or so they claimed—secluded in their immoral den of horror, luring unsuspecting and unwary travelers. But in that time, they'd grown arrogant and careless. In one of my fits of hallucinatory-induced delusion, I pulled out an old vibro-shiv I keep concealed on my person at all times. I stabbed at the grotesque neck and face of what I thought was my wife's mocking corpse, cackling and glaring down at me… again and again, I stabbed and cut. Yet it was the evil hag whose body fell carved up and raw upon me. And in my rage, consumed by a madness I'd never before known, I leapt upon the other two as they entered the room... I felt and feel no remorse for this act, for they were truly evil, and I'm thankful they're dead and gone. But in my nightmares they still appear to me and are still laughing.

 

My one mistake was in going back for the book. It is surely a thing of evil, but at the time, I thought only that I deserved some kind of payment for the ordeal I’d endured, and I esteemed the book’s value in the hundreds of thousands. It was stupid. I should have just run, especially when I discovered I could now read the words when I turned the pages; in fact, I had to read them!

 

In it was a tale of the ancient gods who usurped the indolent Celestials, and gave the first races power and weapons. In exchange, the gods demanded their help to rid the galaxy of the jealous Celestials, for which they would be made kings. The races battled one another, and the gods were pleased. But they were betrayed by a demon who cast them into the Outer Places. Soon, they will return.

 

Without wanting to, I recited the blasphemous incantations for summoning the avatar of the void-horrors, the pestilence that walks in gloom, the Soulworm. Blood was required; and more, the effervescence of pain.

 

And there was my picture in the book, my face screaming in terror! The creatures, the hideous grinning horrors, were feeding upon me!

 

*****

 

Scanners indicate that nebulous forms are approaching the ship. A thing moved past the viewport, a winged creature with a wide-mouthed face of sharp teeth… Oh no! They're inside now! They’ve come for me, the emissaries of El’Shuddem!

 

A carrion stench permeates even into the hidden recesses of this hold. I hear shuffling in the corridors beyond.

 

Gah! It calls to me from beyond! I can see it in my waking eyes now as in the nightmare vision, beckoning me to come forth, to fulfill my role.

 

There is no escape. It knows where I hide. It calls and I must obey! Immense, twisting coils pulsating in deepest space. The void-horror has come! Laughter in the dark portal! The Soulworm!

 

There's scratching at the door. I beg you, all who listen to this… Keep away! Beware the dark places of the galaxy... It has found me and I must answer its call! It's coming through... The door is bursting o—

 

 

 

 

The small pieces of evidence, such as the recording just presented, coupled with others, begin to form a tapestry that allow me to peel back the curtains of the mist-shrouded past. I have yet only begun to unearth the aggregation of fathomless intervals and piece together its resounding rubric cipher, but I feel as though I have already cracked the vault and peered within its murky deep.

 

The time is not yet right to unfurl so prodigious and onerous an account, for I have one final journey to make and there is much yet to sift through.

 

~Arhul Hextrophon

 

Cult Encounters was first conceived by Rich Handley and myself in late 2000 for Star Wars Gamer magazine as a follow-up to our popular piece in issue #1, "The University of Sanbra Guide to Intelligent Life: The Marvel Series," which was among the earliest explorations of certain alien races from the older Star Wars Marvel series in modern (post Heir to the Empire) Star Wars canon [note: there were plenty of references to Marvel's stories in modern continuity, of course, but these specific races had never been examined or highlighted until this issue].

 

Cult Encounters looked more closely at some of the wild material Alan Moore had written in the Star Wars Marvel UK series, published in 1981, specifically the weird cults in his stories "The Pandora Effect" (The Empire Strikes Back Monthly #151) and "Dark Lord's Conscience" (The Empire Strikes Back Monthly #155,) both of which have since been reprinted in the two issue series of Dark Horse's Star Wars: Devilworlds, and collected in Dark Horse's Star Wars Omnibus: Wild Space, Vol 1 and Marvel's The Original Marvel Years, Vol 3.

 

Sadly, and through no fault of our own, unforeseen events prevented Cult Encounters from seeing the light of day, and Star Wars Gamer magazine soon ceased to exist after a mere, but memorable 10 issues in 2002. Then, a few years later, Starwars.com brought out a paid-service for fans, called Hyperspace: The Official Star Wars Fan Club, which featured out-of-print stories, such as the Star Wars newspaper strip from the 1970s and '80s, and material from West End Games' Star Wars Adventure Journal. It also began to feature short stories exclusive to Hyperspace. It didn't take long for Rich Handley and I to contact Lucasfilm's Internet Content Manager, Pablo Hidalgo, who ran Hyperspace and who we'd known from our early days of fandom in the SWFA, and let him know of our unpublished Cult Encounters, and my sequel Supernatural Encounters (which was soon re-titled The Trial and Transformation of Arhul Hextrophon). With his approval, I reworked and submitted both pieces.

 

Once again, time and unforeseen occurrence were to befall these tales, and before long Hyperspace was no more... After one or two additional false starts, it was determined that, at last, Cult Encounters and its sequel would find a home right where it belonged... on the Star Wars Expanded Universe Timeline.

~Joe Bongiorno

Note: Any unpublished or out-of-print Star Wars story will be taken down if/when officially released/reprinted

Supernatural Encounters

Cult Encounters

 

Droids and Ewoks Animated Series

Bonus: Holiday Special Cartoon

Rookies: Rendezvous

Rookies: No Turning Back

 

The unpublished Adventure Journal #16

The unpublished Adventure Journal #17

The unpublished Adventure Journal #18

Online articles from 2004–2012 removed from the official website's Hyperspace fan club

The Contact

Fate of the Jedi: Imprint

A Hunter's Fate: Greedo's Tale

 

  

Clone Wars Webcomics Seasons 1-3

Evasive Action:

Reversal of Fortune

 

Evasive Action: Recruitment

 

Evasive Action: Prey

 

Evasive Action: End Game

 

Translated Spanish Droids & Ewoks Comic-Books

(For the history of this series, go here)

 

 

Translated Plaza Joven Droids & Ewoks Storybook PDF

(For the history of this series, go here)

 

  

Hungarian Han Solo Books (PDFs)

 

Sourcebooks, supplements & RPG Adventures

 

The "lost" Heart of the Jedi Novel

 

The unpublished Adventures in Hyperspace #3

 

Lost Prelude to Rebellion webcomic

 

 
More to come!