I’m presently working on the seventh draft of Knight of the Empire, and I’m more than halfway finished. I recently finished rewriting the sequence where Nykres Eikhan shows Anakin the birth of the Sith, in accordance with my revised portrayal of the Sith.
Anyone familiar with my particular tastes in SW will know that I’m not a fan of the Sith as they have been portrayed since 1999. Essentially everything that has become associated with the Sith since TPM’s release — the black clothing, the “scary” pale skin, yellow eyes, red lightsabers, social Darwinism — I dislike. So I made it a priority to distance my Sith from the “reverse Jedi” as much as possible. However, in the early drafts of KOTE, I went too far distancing my Sith from the popular depiction; the difference was so great my Sith no longer had any true kinship with the Jedi, which leeched the dualism right out of their relationship.
And so I dialed back my take on the Sith. The kinship with the Jedi has been restored, along with much of the backstory derived from the EU. Of course, I reframed much of it. The Jedi/Sith kinship had been restored, like I said, but the nature of that kinship is quite different.
Below is an excerpt from the rewritten Eikhan/Anakin sequence, detailing the new Sith (and Jedi) backstory.
EXT. SPACE — TYTHON SYSTEM (MINDSCAPE)
Eleven planets orbit an orange-yellow sun.
ANAKIN: Where are we?
NYKRES EIKHAN: The Tython system, 12,000 years past.
ANAKIN: (furrows brow) Tython system….
NYKRES EIKHAN: Know you it?
ANAKIN: Only from myth. The original home of the Jedi.
INT. FIFTH PLANET — BENDU MONASTERY — DAY (MINDSCAPE)
Before Eikhan and Anakin, TWO DOZEN STUDENTS — Human and non-Human alike — sit crossed-legged upon the stone floor. The only garments all of them wear are loose-fitting gray pants worn with orange sashes; those females with mammaries wear bandeaus while none of them wear shoes. The attention of the students is focused on their teacher, a WOOKIEE MONK. Unlike his students, the monk wears an orange robe with a silver-trimmed black tabard. Anakin’s eyes are drawn to the mural on the wall behind the monk. The mural consists of a taijitu symbol: two interlocking spirals, black and white, with dots of opposing colour superimposed on each spiral; black-and-white rays extend from the nexus of the interlocked spirals to the dots, bridging them.
ANAKIN: These aren’t Jedi.
Under the monk’s instruction, each student concentrates on using the Force to form their own individual pearlescent bubbles. None succeed; each bubble either implodes or explodes. Shaking his head with disappointment, the monk brings out his hand and forms his own bubble; reaching optimal size, it remains intact, shimmering with iridescence.
NYKRES EIKHAN: Monks of the Order of Bendu.
INT. BENDU DOJO — DAY (MINDSCAPE)
Before Eikhan and Anakin, TWO DOZEN STUDENTS — Human and non-Human alike — train with quarterstaffs. Like the monk’s students, they wear loose-fitting gray pants, though with blue sashes in place of orange. A MUSCULAR ZABRAK SENSEI, arms crossed over her chest, observes the students. Unlike her students, the sensei wears only a black fundoshi. One of the dojo walls bears a taijitu mural like the one in the monastery.
NYKRES EIKHAN: Warriors of the Bendu.
Some of the students prove either too reckless or too timid with their quarterstaffs. Shaking her head with disappointment, the sensei takes up her own quarterstaff and chooses two students from each camp to face her one-on-one. As the other students watch, their sensei lays both the timid and reckless student flat with ease. To her pupils, the sensei gives this adage: Without a fire kindled, you will freeze; without a fire controlled, you will burn.
INT. BENDU TEMPLE — DAY (MINDSCAPE)
Before Eikhan and Anakin, the Bendu monks and warriors kneel on the floor, praying together before a shrine. Suspended within the shrine is a large medallion bearing the taijitu.
NYKRES EIKHAN: The monks and warriors were unified by their shared belief and observance of the almighty Force. (beat) They recognized the Force’s dual nature. In this regard, they were as the Sith and Jedi. Yet their understanding of the duality was their own. In light, they saw darkness, and in darkness, light; in order, chaos, and order in the chaos. Good and evil, defined and defining each other. (beat) When balance between dark and light was not maintained, the universe travailed. So through balance the Bendu defined themselves. Only through the harmony of balance could they maintain a peaceful Galaxy.
ANCIENT REPUBLIC — MONTAGE (MINDSCAPE)
The Bendu monks and warriors are ubiquitous throughout the Ancient Republic. Wherever there are weak to defend, sick to heal, ruins to rebuild, or ignorant to teach, they are present.
NYKRES EIKHAN: From the Unification Wars to the Fifth Alsakan Conflict, the Bendu upheld the peace in the Ancient Republic. A thousand generations.
PIUS DEA CRUSADES — MONTAGE (MINDSCAPE)
On Coruscant, on a wide open plaza, a large group of people have assembled to observe a demonstration held by PIUS DEA ADHERENTS. Consisting solely of baseline Human personages with clean-shaven scalps, the cultists deliver a speech to the crowd with much passion, flourish, and rhetoric. They declare that their Goddess has given them a divine mandate to purge the non-Human elements from their society and bring jihad to the impure Hutt Empire. Some in the audience are disturbed by what they hear, but many more are held in awe and admiration of the cultists’ words.
In the Senate Hall on Coruscant, a man is sworn in as the new head of state. This is ALDON CONTISPEX, a Pius Dea adherent.
With Contispex in power, the Pius Dea gains control of the Republic government and military. Building a fleet of immense cathedral ships, the sect unleashes a series of crusades against the Hutt Empire and other rival civilizations. Within Republic borders, non-Human and near-Human citizens are subjected to inquisitions, pogroms, and worse.
Finding the actions of the Pius Dea-controlled Republic immoral, the Bendu sever their ties with the Republic. While some Bendu stay and fight, the majority extract themselves from Republic territory and retreat to the Tython system. Their neutrality does not save them. Blockading the Tython system, an armada of Republic cathedral ships attack and lay waste to the inhabited worlds, annihilating their denizens. The surviving Bendu, refined by the fire which claimed their brothers, cast aside their trademark quarterstaffs and take up Force-imbued swords.
After a thousand years of nigh-continuous warfare, the Pius Dea era finally draws to a close. The Crusades aren’t ended by heroism or brute strength or a momentous victory, but by exhaustion. Innumerable worlds have been depopulated or brought back to the Stone Age, the Known Galaxy’s technological infrastructure crippled; there is little left to fight for, even less to fight with.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.) With war’s end, the long night began. The Ancient Republic, the Hutt Empire — all ceased to be.
JEDHA — MONTAGE (MINDSCAPE)
Fleeing the sundered Republic, WAVES OF MIGRANTS come to the desert moon. Regardless of who they were or what they believed or who they once fought for, they have come here from depleted worlds to start their lives anew. Among these settlers is a significant number of Bendu.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.) For millennia, the Bendu had sought answer to a solitary question: “Why?” Why if they’d maintained harmonious balance did the Goddess of the Pius Dea find purchase in their charges’ hearts? Why had their brethren on Tython lacked clairvoyance enough to avoid holocaust? Why had their centuries-borne labours yielded ashes as reward? For millennia this question was asked, for millennia unanswered. The Bendu abandoned hope of ever receiving an answer. Then an answer was received: “Passivity.” Through serene contemplation of the universe, the old Bendu believed it would be persuaded to offer up mysteries. Delusion. The universe responses not to passive inquiry, but authoritative command. Through harmony, the old Bendu believed chaos and order could be preserved in balance. Harmony is a lie; the universe’s natural state is towards chaos. For order to persist, it must be actively imposed. This the old Bendu failed to learn, but the new Bendu would take to heart.
Together, the Bendu reach out with the Force, broadcasting a signal to the refugees scattered across the moon. Touching their minds, the Bendu compel the settlers to come to them. Packing their belongings, leaving/dismantling their disparate camps, the settlers make the journey by ship, speeder, or on foot to the site the Bendu have chosen for them — a great mesa. Once all have gathered together, the Bendu set about organizing them into a cohesive society. Construction soon begins on a majestic city.
Disharmonious elements inevitably arise among Jedha City’s populace, but the Bendu find a use for them. Arresting the thieves, murderers, rapists, and dissenters, the Bendu have them brought to their citadels. Taken down into subterranean cellars, the lawbreakers are subjected to the Bendu’s experiments — experiments to alter living matter through the dark side of the Force. These initial experimentations inevitably result in deleterious mutations, but the Bendu refine their techniques. With time, they put their newfound abilities to the task of reshaping Jedha’s biome in accordance with their will.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.; cont’d) Yet let there be no mistake — there remained Bendu possessed of the impotent Force.
Unnerved by what they’ve found in pursuit of absolute control, a substantial number of Bendu withdraw from the dark Force. Firmly adamant in returning to the path of their forebears, they try convincing the other Bendu to abandon the dark arts they’ve embraced and join them in sanctification in the light. Rebuffing their recalcitrant peers, the Bendu majority continue their dark side practices. Both sides firmly convinced they are right, the arguments turn into conflict.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.; cont’d) Once they were brothers in the Force, but the great schism between the dark side and the light turned Bendu against Bendu.
HUNDRED-YEAR DARKNESS — MONTAGE (MINDSCAPE)
Initially a localized conflict confined to the Bendu district of Jedha City, it spills out into the greater city once the light-aligned Bendu begin recruiting non-Bendu citizens to their cause. To combat the rising threat of the light Bendu, the dark-aligned Bendu use their alchemical talents to raise an army of dark side-enhanced warriors and abominations.
For the next hundred years, the two camps of Bendu fight for predominance. Truces are declared, followed by periods of uneasy peace, but they inevitably end. Jedha City itself changes hands many times as the numbers/strength of each camp waxes and wanes.
A final battle is then fought. A century of bloodshed ends decisively — with the dark Bendu’s surrender.
JEDHA SYSTEM — MONTAGE (MINDSCAPE)
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.) They were defeated, driven out, cast out.
Deliberating amongst themselves, the light Bendu reach a decision: Instead of executing the dark Bendu, they will banish them from Jedha.
In the several months which follow, a sleeper ship is constructed in orbit over Jedha. The knowledge of hyperdrive construction lost a century ago, this ship will be incapable of hyperspatial flight. Its voyage will be made in realspace, at near-light velocity.
Ferried up to the waiting sleeper ship, the dark Bendu are escorted aboard, where they are placed in stasis caskets for the long voyage ahead. The navicomputer programmed to follow a route to the nearest star, the ship is then launched from its moorings. Sublights engaging, the sleeper ship leaves the Jedha system for the distant stars.
EXT. SPACE — SITH HOMEWORLD (MINDSCAPE)
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.; cont’d) But they turned their exile to victory, on the far side of the Galaxy.
With the passage of four-thousand years — after the rebirth of the Galactic Republic and the rise of the Jedi Knights — the long-forgotten sleeper ship with its crew of sleeping exiles finally arrives in a system containing a habitable planet.
INT. SLEEPER SHIP (MINDSCAPE)
After launching probes and ascertaining the planet’s habitability, the ship’s AI disengages the stasis caskets. Reawakening, the Exiles climb out of the caskets and make their way to viewports and computer terminals, which afford them their first look at their new home.
EXT. SITH HOMEWORLD — VILLAGE — DAY (MINDSCAPE)
On the surface of this planet, we find a village. Inhabiting this village are TRUE SITH. Humanoids with simian features, the Sith also sport prominent eyebrow ridges, a pair of facial tentacles, and skin in various shades of red. These particular Sith happen to be primitive hunter-gatherers.
With a sonic BOOM, the Sith primitives’ attention is drawn towards the sky. There, in the taupe sky, dropships from the Exile sleeper ship streak across.
EXT. CLEARING — DAY (MINDSCAPE)
Disembarking from the dropships, the Exiles look around, getting their bearings.
In due time, a PARTY OF SITH come to greet the newcomers. At first apprehensive, the Exile soon realize the red-skinned aliens pose no threat to them and allow them into their presence. Approaching the Exiles, the Sith come bearing gifts.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.; cont’d) Here, on this unblemished world, the vanquished Bendu found a primitive civilization, a new people who worshipped them as gods — the Sith.
SITH HOMEWORLD — MONTAGE (MINDSCAPE)
In their dropships, the Exiles explore the planet. They come into contact with other Sith nations and tribes, all in various states of technological development. Not all of these are as friendly as the Sith the Exiles first met, but utilizing their awesome powers, the Exiles put them in their place.
EXT. SEPULCHRE OF THE GREAT OLD DEAD ONES — SUNSET (MINDSCAPE)
Following Sith legends, the Exiles learn of mysterious sites scattered across the globe. They visit one of these sites, locally known as the Sepulchre of the Great Old Dead Ones. A conglomeration of massive, half-buried edifaces, they are ancient, hundreds of thousands of years old. No Sith will venture onto these grounds, believing them to be tombs containing the dormant spirits of evil gods which once dominated the world. But the Exiles are not afraid; they sense power here.
INT. G.O.D.O CITADEL — SUNSET (MINDSCAPE)
Penetrating one of the Sepulchre’s buildings, the Bendu find a treasure trove of technology within — technology predating the Ancient Republic, but far advanced of anything the best scientific minds of the Republic ever devised.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.) With unlimited resources and willing slaves, the Bendu exiles forged the Sith civilization into a new empire.
SITH EMPIRE — MONTAGE (MINDSCAPE)
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.) The Sith became many.
Using their dark side alchemy, the Exiles modify the Sith into three distinct subspecies: Kissai — gracile, red-skinned priests; Massassi — muscular, green-skinned warriors; Zuguruk — stocky, charcoal-skinned engineers/workers.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.; cont’d) Conversely, the Exiles became one …
Turning their alchemy upon themselves, the mostly Human Exiles enable themselves to interbreed with their non-Human members. In time they give rise to a new, monolithic, quasi-Human species with pale gray skin and blue-gray hair.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.; cont’d) Lettow — the Sith Lords.
Building a fleet of advanced starships, the Lettow use them in establishing offworld colonies. These colonies grow to number in the dozens, then the hundreds. The Sith Empire is born.
Eventually, the Lettow relocate their base of operations to Ziost — a frozen world of perpetual night. In the council chambers of their Great Citadel, ELEVEN LETTOW convene. One stands at the centre of the room, surrounded by the others, who kneel in a ring around him, hands planted on the hilts of their swords in obeisance.
NYKRES EIKHAN: (V.O.) The Sith Empire would be governed by a council of Lettow which, in turn, would be governed by a single appointed Dark Lord or Lady of the Sith.