You're murdering thousands of innocents based on fabricated evidence!
The Bombing of Pho Ph’eah was an event that was cited as a major turning point in the Third Sith Empire’s war effort against the Galactic Republic and the Jedi Order during the Great Territorial War. The Jedi High Council was given what they believed to be reliable information by Jedi Master Kit Corwin Rendar stating that Sith forces had infiltrated the major technological and manufacturing centers on Pho Ph'eah and that they were attempting to build up a far more massive army than they already had. With the approval of the Galactic Senate, the Jedi Order and the Republic military launched an orbital bombardment of the planet in an effort to take out the Sith forces on the surface.
Days later, after Ravinos had led the Republic forces to the planet, he ordered the bombing to commence. Warships in orbit performed orbital bombardments of technological centers across the surface, while the naval Gold Squadron carried out surgical strikes against the main city. During the bombing of the city, the government complex was destroyed, killing the Republic-appointed planetary leader Char'on G'rean in the process. Both sides lost forces, though the casualties on Pho Ph’eah were recorded as heavy. Estimates put the casualties on Pho Ph’eah at over two hundred government officials, fifty-seven contractors and nearly eight thousand civilian factory workers.
Following the conclusion of the bombing, Republic scouts made their way to the surface and concluded that there was no trace of any Sith forces either before or during the battle. When Fleet Captain La'El Montrose confronted Rendar about the faulty intelligence, the Jedi Master revealed that there was, in fact, one Sith Lord on the surface. Rendar revealed himself to be Darth Ravinos, the apprentice of the Dark Lady Viea, and that he had planned the attack with intelligence he had fabricated to tarnish the image of the Jedi and the Republic across the galaxy. After skinning Montrose and launching his skinless remains out an airlock, Ravinos stole the Republic flagship Equinox and was not heard from again for some time.
Ravinos was successful in tarnishing the image of both the Republic and the Jedi, though mostly the Jedi. The public had known that the Dark Lordess was once a Jedi Master, though the fact that another Jedi Master turned to the Dark Side and became her apprentice was more troubling for them. The Jedi saw their public approval ratings sink and watched as fewer worlds called out for their help in various matters.
Two weeks after the Third Sith Empire took over Centerpoint Station, Kit Corwin Rendar informed Ussej Padric Bac and the Jedi Council about intelligence he uncovered suggesting that the Sith were planning a massive orbital bombardment of Corellia using the station and a large strike force. Ussej believed him, though the majority of the Jedi Council did not as they felt that there was a lack of crucial intelligence. Kit was shocked by their denial of his request for greater defenses and refused to accept that the Jedi Council would simply stand aside and watch as a major Republic world was blown apart. Ussej pleaded with the Jedi Council to reconsider their decision, but they still refused. Ussej tried to comfort his friend, but the matter forced Kit to grow distant.
The next day, in the early morning hours, Kit left the Jedi academy on Corellia. Ussej found out about it hours after he awoke, but he chose not to report it to the Jedi Council. He simply continued their work by himself. For hours on end, Kit made his way through space until he reached the Sith homeworld of Korriban. When he arrived, he allowed himself to be arrested and was brought before Darth Viea. Throwing aside his dignity, he fell to his knees and begged her to spare his homeworld. She agreed, but only under the condition that he join her and become her apprentice. Kit initially could not come to a decision, but she tempted him by saying that he would have unlimited power and resources to seek out the Medallion of the Saarai-kaar, and that it was the only way that Corellia would be spared. He finally agreed and she dubbed him Darth Ravinos, though she ordered him to return to the Jedi academy on Corellia and find a way to tarnish the image of the Jedi Order from within.
Two days later, Ravinos arrived back at the academy, though he still operated under his former name. Ussej could tell that he had somehow changed and that he was far more shaken than he had been when he left. However, Ravinos was able to brush it off by saying that he had uncovered startling information. According to his “intelligence sources”, the Sith had covertly taken over key technological and manufacturing facilities on Pho Ph’eah and were planning on using them to construct a far more powerful military. After spending two days on fabricating the evidence and coming up with a plan to bombard the planet, Ravinos presented it to the Jedi Council and they decided to act alongside the Republic military in retaking the facilities. Ussej agreed to lead Gold Squadron during the aerial raids of the surface, while Ravinos would lead the attack himself.
When Ussej and Ravinos left Corellia, they rendezvoused with a massive Republic strike force capable of decimating the entire world if it needed to. When Gold Squadron was informed that Ussej would be leading them during the battle, they contacted the Supreme Commander of the Republic Military and protested the assignment. They believed that their squadron should have always been led by one of their own, and because of that they were even resistant to Jedi leading them. When Ussej found out about it, he assured the pilots that he had thousands of hours of flying time and was capable and ready to lead them. Gold Squadron was not impressed nor were they amused at what their superiors were done, but they eventually found that protesting would be futile and that it would be easier to simply go along with it.
While in route to the planet, Ravinos informed the commanders of the mission, who still believed he was a Jedi Master, of the plan to take back the planet. He informed them that the Sith were housed in the main technological and manufacturing plants, meaning the Republic would be forced to sacrifice some of their facilities in order to rid them of the Sith. Ravinos also said that there was a great possibility that the Sith had infiltrated the Galactic Senate-appointed government and taken over the planet politically, so they would have to take out the center of government. La'El Montrose, the captain of the fleet, suggested that when the fleet was close enough to the planet it would be wise to warn Chief Administrator Char’on G’rean so that he would have time to bring his people to safety. When Ravinos feigned worry, saying that advance warning could tip off the Sith, Montrose told him that they would wait until they were close enough so that a Sith fleet would not reach the planet in time. Wanting to keep up the guise as a Jedi Master, Ravinos reluctantly agreed.
Ravinos made his way to the bridge shortly before the arrival and pretended to send a message to the Chief Administrator. However, what he really did was send out a jamming signal to ensure that all long-range communication from the planet would be disabled. When he told Montrose and Ussej, they did not check to make sure he had done so because, in the end, they had no reason not to trust everything he said. Ravinos did not even detect a hint of suspicion within them, though he could tell Ussej was having a hard time coming to terms with the fact that many civilians would die in the bombing. Ravinos assured him that everything would be fine, and with that the Sith Lord made his way to the docking bay to await deployment.
No more than twenty minutes later, the fleet dropped out of lightspeed. Ravinos waited to deploy, as he wanted to ensure that everyone was in position. When Montrose assured them that they were, Ravinos gave a short yet “meaningful” speech to the troops over his communicator, though he detested doing so. When he deactivated the transmission, he thrust his ship out of the docking bay and began surveying the planet. Looking below, he saw no signs of technology. Knowing that his goals lied in the main city, he set a course towards targets of interests.
His final run was over the capital city of the planet. Unlike most of the planet, the capital was a bustling urban metropolis located on the coast of the northernmost continent. As he made his way over the city, which the Republic had determined to be the most important manufacturing and technological center, he engaged his stealth system so he would not be detected. He used the opportunity to mark targets that could be of possible Sith interest and sent the data back to the flagship to be transmitted to the remainder of the fleet. When the transmission was away, he opened his own channel to his forces and told them that there were no major Sith forces in scanning range, but he would be doing low reconnaissance to make sure.
For the half hour that followed, he flew across the planet's surface and scanned the major cities for his targets. He did not find exactly what he had been looking for, though that was his plan from the start. He pulled up the data he collected on his viewscreen and began studying the planetary defense capabilities. Surprisingly, the defensive systems were relatively weak and focused on ground assaults, as the government assumed that if anyone were to attack it would be on the ground to acquire the technological centers. Ravinos felt that would make things easier for him and his men. With that, he contacted Ussej and Gold Squadron and told them to follow him in for precision strikes on the smaller targets against the civil centers. Ussej acknowledged, and Ravinos ordered his ships to commence the bombing.
The fleet above immediately began laying waste to the main targets of interests. Building after building exploded in an array of light, each one boosting the morale of the Republic troops and officers as they believed they were making a large stand against the Sith. Little did they know that, at the same time, the apprentice to the Dark Lordess of the Sith was monitoring and taking scans of everything to be used as propaganda tools against the Republic and the Jedi Order. Regardless of that lack of knowledge, they pressed on and continued their orbital bombardment of the city centers and manufacturing planets.
Gold Squadron descended to the surface of the planet as the main strike force, dodging the large laser bolts that rained down from the sky all around them. Ussej led his men his men over the main civil center and unleashed a barrage of plasma and ion bombs on the major structures. His tactical fighters flew higher, making precision laser strikes on key power plants in the area to knock out any major automated resistance. As he finished his run, he watched as the orbital bombardments of the city continued and could not help but wonder how many of those who were killed were innocents and children. Before he had the chance to ponder that more, his console blinked and a channel opened from one of the nearby government complexes. The transmission came from Char’on Graen, the planet’s Chief Administrator, who demanded that the attack be ceased as it was unprovoked.
Inside the government complex, the employees worked frantically in an effort to restore communication with Coruscant and to try to find some way to end the attack on their planet. They had faith in their chief administrator, but felt that they would not make it out of the bombing alive. Graen refused to let that happen and continued to demand an answer from Ussej. Ussej told him that there were Sith on the surface who were taking over the technological centers, so the Jedi and the Republic strike force had been ordered to eradicate the infestation. Graen pleaded with Ussej to cease the attack, and for a moment Ussej considered it. However, the message was cut off and Ussej looked down to the ground in enough time to watch as the civil complex burst into flames and telescoped in on itself. On his ship, Ravinos had listened to the conversations in the entire complex and had ordered the building to be destroyed so that his cover would not be prematurely blown. Ussej became furious at Ravinos, as Graen was a Senate-appointed official and, because of that, it was possible that Ussej would have been in legal trouble with the Galactic Senate. Ravinos, however, shrugged it off. That made Ussej believe that something was not right.
Ussej, Gold Squadron and Ravinos began their ascent back up to the flagship. As they ascended, survey teams descended under orders from Montrose to put together an estimated casualty account of both Sith and non-Sith. When they arrived, they immediately went to work, though there were still laser bolts raining down from the sky. The team was nearly killed, and because of that they contacted the flagship and told them that they could not do their job with bombs still falling. With that, the bombing of Pho Ph’eah officially ended.
For hours on end, the survey teams conducted their searches in the major cities. They searched building after building and came to the conclusion that approximately ten thousand people were killed in the attack, though they noted that the number was subject to change. What was even more puzzling was the fact that they could not find any Sith presence from before, during or after the attack anywhere they searched. Even their scans for life in possible underground bunkers came back negative. They had no other choice but to come to the conclusion that the attack had been carried out using false information. The teams returned to the flagship and relayed their findings to Montrose.
After finishing up their work in the docking bay, Ussej relayed his concerns to Ravinos that there were no Sith on the surface. Ravinos did not respond, but rather he stepped into the turboshaft and made his way to the bridge. When he arrived, Montrose confronted Ravinos by saying that the survey teams found that there was never a Sith presence on the world. Ravinos said that the scouts were mistaken, as there was one Sith on the surface. At that moment, he officially revealed himself to be Darth Ravinos, the apprentice of Darth Viea. He also revealed that he had fabricated all of the evidence in hopes of weakening the image of the Jedi Order throughout the galaxy. When Montrose attempted to arrest Ravinos, the Sith Lord revealed that the men on the bridge had sworn their loyalty to him. The soldiers held the captain down, despite Montrose’s pleas. Ravinos removed a knife from his boots and then proceeded to peel the flesh off of Montrose’s body.
Ussej watched over the security system in shock. He ordered his men and all of the other people in the docking bay to head for the nearest Republic ship and they did just that. Shortly after they escaped, the flagship made the jump to hyperspace en route to Korriban. On board the ship, Ravinos finished removing the flesh from Montrose’s bones and the captain still lived, though just barely. In a flash, Ravinos activated his lightsaber and beheaded Montrose. He took the skull with him to his quarters to present to Viea and ordered that the rest of the body be shot out an airlock so it would not create a stench.
When Ravinos returned to Korriban, he presented Montrose's severed head to his mistress and she placed it upon her Throne of Skulls. At that moment, she officially dubbed him the Dark Apprentice of the Sith Empire, answering only to her and doing only as she commanded. She also told him that Corellia would be spared from the fury of the Sith, just as she had promised. Ravinos also was free to begin his search for the Medallion of the Saarai-kaar, something that Viea secretly wanted for herself so she would be able to reign as a galactic empress for eternity.
When Ussej arrived on Coruscant, he relayed the information about what really happened at Pho Ph’eah, as well as his distress over so many Jedi falling prey to the dark side, to a shocked Jedi Council. Ussej blamed the code and the training system that was set up after the Jedi Civil War, as he felt many of the Jedi were being forced to choose between their hearts and the idea that a Jedi should not know attachment or love. The council completely disagreed with his assessment, though Ussej continued to believe and articulate it. He fully believed that love should never have been forbidden by the code, but rather that it should have been embraced and cherished as a noble and humble Human emotion. Some members of the council, however, such as Damien Nightblade, began to see that Ussej could have been right, as the trend of Jedi becoming conflicted by love continued, especially with Dexon Kyjar and Lara Jace.
Pho Ph’eah became the center of a brief skirmish five months after the initial attack. Ravinos’ flagship chased the vessel of the Supreme Commander of the Galactic Republic to Pho Ph’eah in an effort to get the codes needed to break through the Coruscant defense perimeter. During the attack on the consular vessel, Ravinos thought greatly about what had happened a year earlier. His actions in murdering thousands and betraying the Jedi brought about a sense of dissatisfaction and disappointment in the minds of the people of the Republic when it came to the Jedi Order. Some had turned to the Sith and some had simply turned away from them both, and many noted that neither had the advantage when it came to gaining people’s trust. At the end of the battle, however, the Supreme Commander had been executed and his codes were in Ravinos’ hand. Just two weeks later, Ravinos used the codes stolen at Pho Ph’eah to launch the First Battle for Coruscant that allowed the capital to fall into the hands of the Sith.
Pho Ph'eah changed him, and none at all for the better. He doesn't trust anyone anymore.
—Damien Nightblade on Ussej Padric Bac
The attack on Pho Ph’eah had the exact effect that Viea and Ravinos had hoped it would. When the news came in that a respected Jedi Master had murdered what news reports stated were upwards of ten thousand innocent civilians, the approval ratings of the Jedi Order throughout the galaxy plummeted. Everyone wanted someone to blame, and because Ravinos could not be located the Jedi took the blame, which turned public opinion further against them. Viea used the newfound disrespect for the Jedi by spinning propaganda into the HoloNet, making many people believe that the Sith, despite their previous horrors, had changed and that they wanted to help the people of the galaxy. However, there was still a great number of people opposed to both groups.
After the Sith gained Corellia, Viea used her art of propaganda once again. She sent a terminally ill peasant to Coruscant carrying a single vial of a Sith-crafted airborne virus. The virus had the ability to poison and kill all those who were exposed to its toxins. The man entered one of the more heavily populated upper-to-middle class areas near 500 Republica and released the virus. The Jedi Order was witnessed what they believed to be the senseless killing of thousands of innocents, unable to do anything to cure or help them. Shortly thereafter, a medical organization known as Silver Cross claimed they had an antidote and gave it to those who had not yet been killed. When asked who funded the quick research, the leaders of the group said that it was Darth Viea herself. The Jedi Council realized that Viea had been able to capitalize on a situation she herself had created, thus spinning her web of propaganda once again.
One of the greatest aftereffects of Pho Ph’eah was the psychological effects it had on those who had been there. The most notable case of this was Ussej Padric Bac. After Pho Ph’eah, as well as Dexon Kyjar’s betrayal on Korriban, Ussej could no longer trust anyone. He felt that if people like that could betray everything they once stood for then anyone could. He vowed to pay more attention to those closest to him to ensure that what happened to the others did not happen to them as well. This led to Ussej becoming dangerously unstable. Ussej met and fell in love with Laili Jeyna Rendar on Coruscant after the retaking of Centerpoint Station and immediately thought that others were trying to take her away from him. This led to him becoming the Sith Lord Darth Mantus, though he was redeemed within a matter of weeks and helped the Republic take down the Third Sith Empire once and for all before disappearing into the Unknown Regions.
Another indirect side-effect of Pho Ph’eah was the fall of Damien Nightblade. Ussej’s plight caused Damien to become conflicted between his loyalty to the Jedi and his loyalty to Ussej. He recognized the signs of Ussej’s instability, as he had seen them when he had fallen in love with Onderonian Queen Arael Maans years earlier. Their confrontation eventually turned violent but, in the end, he was able to help Ussej redeem himself and overthrow Darth Viea’s Sith Empire. Regardless, this helped push Damien down a darker path that led to the death of Arael, the ending of his friendship with Ranka Darkbroode, the discovery of the secret of immortality and his becoming Darth Plagueis, the master of the infamous Darth Sidious.
Behind the scenes
- Shadows of the Jedi: The Legend of Ussej Padric Bac (First appearance)