Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha: Shadows, Light, and Some Sith Spawn

Shadows and Light

(Suicide by Star Wars Apocrypha is a foolish attempt to examine the entirety of the now decanonized Star Wars Expanded Universe and quantify its assorted artistic merits. Read the introduction. Check out the archives.)

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Author: Joshua Ortega

Artist: Dustin Weaver

Medium: Comic

Publication Date: May 2005 in Star Wars Tales #23

Timeline Placement: 3,993 BBY

Three years after the Great Sith War, we return to Tatooine for the first time since Dawn of the Jedi. Of course, it’s now the same crummy desert it was in the movies, but don’t worry, we’re only here for a minute. We meet three Jedi in battle against a terentatek, a dark-side monster that feeds on the blood of Force-sensitives. They are Duron Qel-Droma, a cousin of Ulic and Cay; Shaela Nuur, his girlfriend; and the Twi’lek Jedi Guun Han Saresh. Over the past two years, this trio has ventured around the galaxy exterminating terentateks and other “Sithspawn,” monstrosities created through Sith alchemy, such as silans and Sith wyrms.

[Continuity Note: Terentateks were introduced in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic (2003), where Jedi historian Deesra Luur Jada described them as a historically recurring threat to the Jedi whose numbers swelled whenever the dark side was ascendant. Star Wars: The New Essential Chronology (2005), however, claimed that the terentateks were a creation of Exar Kun, severely shortening their window of historical influence. This factoid was later ignored by Star Wars: The Old Republic (2011), which had Grand Moff Odile Vaiken slay a rabid terentatek on the planet Dromund Kaas almost 1,000 years before Kun’s time.]

Duron establishes a psychic link with the terentatek, rendering it dazed and confused, then Shaela and Guun Han stab it to death. It’s not the most complex strategy, but it’s served them well for the duration of the Great Hunt, the systematic purging of Sithspawn from the galaxy. So far they’ve cleansed Onderon, Yavin 4, and Tython, the location of which is apparently still common knowledge after 20,000-plus years but will be forgotten sometime within the next three centuries so it can be rediscovered in time for The Old Republic.

Victorious at last, the three Jedi companions return to Dantooine, once the informal training grounds of Vodo-Siosk Baas, now the site of an institutional Jedi Enclave. At this time, the Enclave is chaired by Qual, a Selkath; Bala Nisi, a black human woman; Vrook Lamar, a character from the KotOR games voiced by Ed Asner; and Aleco Stusea, who is some kind of elf woman? They congratulate the Great Hunters on a job well done, but reveal that there is still one planet left to cleanse: Korriban, homeworld of the Sith and most evil planet in the galaxy.

That night, as Shaela and Duron watch the Dantooine sunset, Shaela reflects on the time she spent on Ossus as a student of Master Ood Bnar, the Jedi who was also a tree. As a reward for constructing her first lightsaber, Ood gave her a very rare lightsaber crystal called the Solari. One of the most powerful focusing crystals in the order’s possession, the Solari can be used only by a Jedi who is firmly entrenched in the light side. If its user strays into the dark, the crystal will cease to function, but Ood had faith in his apprentice’s purity of heart.

The Jedi are apprehensive about the corrupting influence the Sith homeworld could have on them, with Guun Han concerned that Duron and Shaela will be unable to control their passion for one another. Nevertheless, they accept the mission and arrive on a planet strangely different than you might expect. Instead of the desolate graveyard world it was during Exar Kun’s visit four years earlier, Korriban now boasts a thriving spaceport called Dreshdae, populated by all sorts of scum and villainy with no apparent connection to the Sith.

Even more bizarre, right next-door is a fully staffed and operational Sith academy, tutoring Force-sensitive youths in the dark side. It’s not like a secret or anything, the Jedi are fully aware of what’s going on. But despite just fighting a devastating galactic war against the Sith, I guess they’re cool with it

[Continuity Note: The Korriban Sith academy also first appeared in Knights of the Old Republic, in which it is revealed that the previous headmaster, Jorak Uln, was a follower of Exar Kun. The game gave no founding date for the academy, however, so having it show up here, almost forty years too early, is rather incongruous. To explain its anachronistic appearance in Shadows and Light, The New Essential Chronology established that the academy was founded by Exar Kun to mass produce Sith acolytes to fight in the war. That doesn’t really seem to fit with his style of recruiting troops by tricking them into getting possessed by ghosts, but I’ll take it, I guess.]

The three Jedi ask around Dreshdae’s cantina, The Drunk Side (lol), but after a week they are unable to get any leads on the terentatek. Guun Han finally bites the bullet and seduces a coed from the Sith academy. He gets her drunk, steals a keycard from her while she’s passed out naked in bed, and sneaks out the door with a smug grin on his face, never to call her again. Man, how many of my relationships have ended like that?

Meanwhile, Duron is having a nervous breakdown. The lure of the dark side on Korriban is overwhelming and the Force bond among the trio is not protecting them from it as the Jedi Masters had hoped. Duron admits to Shaela that when he makes contact with the terentateks’ minds, he can sense their thoughts and intelligence, evil though it is, and he is sick of killing them. Because this issue of Star Wars Tales was marketed for its tie-in with Knights of the Old Republic, Duron abruptly has a vision of events from that game, including the destruction of Taris and the torture of Bastila Shan. And boy does that make me want to buy it!

He is knocked over by the force of this vision and Shaela rushes over to comfort him. They kiss just as Guun Han walks into the room. Outraged at this violation of the Jedi Code, Guun Han demands that they renounce their love for one another, which they refuse to do. With everyone’s tempers already running high from their time in this dark-side miasma, Guun Han gives his friends the stolen keycard and walks out, suggesting that they do the same.

Following rumors of another terentatek, Guun Han arrives on the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk. He tracks the terentatek to the Shadowlands, the dark underbelly of Kashyyyk’s planet-wide forest, and sets a trap for it. When he attacks, however, the blade of vibrosword that he uses in place of a lightsaber snaps off in the beast’s hide. Defenseless, Guun Han is killed and eaten by the monster.

On Korriban, Duron and Shaela have used the keycard to access the fabled Valley of the Dark Lords. They sense their friend’s death in the Force and Shaela mournfully curses him for leaving. They venture into a cave and encounter the terentatek. As Shaela moves in to attack, Duron is horrified to realize that he is unable to make contact with the creature’s mind, presumably because the Force bond the three Jedi shared has been broken. He rushes in to help Shaela and the terentatek crushes him with its claw.

As Shaela cradles his broken body, Duron has a vision of the player character in Knights of the Old Republic looting his corpse to equip his +8 Dexterity robe and using it to defeat the final boss (although I think everyone knows that realistically a light side player would have equipped the Star Forge Robes by that point). Gratified to find the future full of light, Duron tells Shaela he loves her and dies in her arms. “. . . I love you, too . . .” she whispers.

With a heart full of bitterness and bent on revenge, Shaela tracks the terentatek to the tomb of Naga Sadow. Consumed with hatred over the death of her boyfriend, Shaela ventures deep into the crypt, the yellow blade of her lightsaber her only source of light. As she comes face to face with two terentateks, she recalls Master Ood’s words as he gave her the Solari crystal: “Your soul is as radiant and pure as any I have ever known. You will accomplish great things in your life, Shaela Nuur . . . Just remember to always stay in the light. Always.

Her lightsaber flickers and goes out.