The Great Liberation was a war in the Unknown Regions from 100 ABY to 102 ABY, pitting the nascent Golden Empire against the entrenched Tetrarchy of Mezlagob. Spurred by the expansionist policies of the Empire's Queen, Rin Sakaros, as well as a pair of violent skirmishes along the border of the two territories, the conflict rapidly expanded to consume both governments in a total war that would leave millions of beings dead before its conclusion.
Initial successes by the Empire were dampened, and the Empire's existence imperiled, after a crushing defeat at the Battle of Hudrel. On the retreat, the Empire lost control of its captured systems and several of its own before mounting a desperate, last-ditch assault on Tizgo V. The Empire's victory there turned the tide of the war, and the Tetrarchy was driven from the Vall`to sector before finally being vanquished in its own territory.
Prelude to war
Since its creation in 87 ABY, the Golden Empire had been designed to one day incorporate all star systems and all sentient beings under its rule. Rin Sakaros felt it was her personal destiny to bring that dream to fruition, and in the first thirteen years of the Empire brought sixty-three worlds under its sway. Her Armada had been tested against pirates and slavers at Quadia and small regional powers, but no government the size of her own. Though trained through life for war, even her Massassi had seen relatively little combat.
The Tetrarchy of Mezlagob had existed for roughly seven centuries prior to the war and had pursued a steady policy of expansion itself. It dominated its origin Mezlag sector, and controlled several planets in the Vall`to and Xoquon sectors. The Xoquon sector bordered the Empire's Romasi sector, and with both powers committed to militant expansion if necessary, conflict was inevitable.
Strengths and weaknesses
At the head of the Golden Empire was the Sith witch Rin Sakaros, possessed of the strongest connection to the Force since Anakin Skywalker and master of several combat-applicable Force powers, including Battle Meditation. Her right hand was her brother Tariun, who, aside from being a Sith Lord himself, had fought and commanded in numerous campaigns and knew the ships of his fleet well. Centurions Keltrayu and Aquila Corcer also followed Rin.
The majority of Rin's ground forces and a substantial portion of the Royal Navy and Royal Starfighter Corps were comprised of Massassi, all of whom were well-trained and loyal to Rin unto death. Numerous other species, especially the Iscali, had volunteered for service in the Empire's Armada. The Empire fielded larger capital ships than even the most massive Tetrarchy craft, including several Imperial Star Destroyers and the enormous Sith Star.
However, having faced only local powers and a handful of technologically modern foes, the Empire was untested against an equal or superior enemy. Having acquired many primitive worlds, it was still in the process of teaching many of its raw recruits the uses of modern technology and weapons. In addition, the Empire initially had no source of tibanna and was forced to ration the vital resource in battle.
Having stood for seven centuries, the Tetrarchy was well-established in its region of space, and its military tested against many enemies, though none a real equal. Its fleet was hundreds of capital ships strong, and its use of battle droids in addition to sentient soldiers allowed it to deploy large numbers of soldiers at once. Most Tetrarchy worlds' resources had long since been identified, and the Tetrarchy had large funds with which to finance its war machine and substantially greater resource production capabilities to forge ships and weapons.
The Tetrarchy had a clearly structured military. At its head stood Admiral Garyth Quorr, who had risen to the top of the Tetrarchy's forces through shrewd use of resources and soldiers and was a veteran of numerous battles.
Despite its strength, the Tetrarchy was loathed by many planets under its control for cruelty and brutality. Its two-tiered system of "member worlds" and "vassal worlds" had engendered resentment and rebelliousness in the vassal worlds, many of which were located in the Xoquon sector that bordered the Empire. It also had no trained Force-sensitives, and indeed no knowledge of the Force.
Empires at war
In 100 ABY, Tetrarchy scout ships decanted from hyperspace at Quadia, homeworld of the long-persecuted Qua. Rin Sakaros, half-Qua herself, had taken the Qua on as a people close to her heart and was very protective of them. Three Royal ships were at Quadia and, after communication proved impossible between the two forces, they traded fire. The Skirmish at Quadia was inconclusive, with the Tetrarchy ships withdrawing, but convinced both Rin and the Tetrarchs that they had powerful enemies on their borders.
Rin deployed her fleet to several planets at the border of her control, intent on stopping any further encroachment and seizing prisoners to interrogate this time. A stronger force of Tetrarchy scouts and battleships arrived at Yin, but Rin had deployed the Star Destroyer Overlord there, and in the subsequent engagement, a Tetrarchy ship was stunned with ion cannons and captured before the rest retreated. Interrogation of prisoners revealed the existence of the Tetrarchy to Rin, who "downloaded" Orhyo from their minds.
Rin "uploaded" Orhyo into Keltrayu's mind and sent him to spy on the Tetrarchy; she had seen that Humans were part of the Tetrarchy's population and knew that, alone among her top agents and aides, he could blend in. While Keltrayu was gone, Rin ordered her production worlds to begin construction of more ships and weapons, and had Tariun and the Massassi commanders start drilling soldiers for war.
Meanwhile, having been forced to withdraw twice in a row, the Tetrarchy planned revenge. It had been gearing up for a major assault on Mir Kaldu`uz to finally bring the Leik population into its grasp, but with the new threat, the Tetrarchs were persuaded to redirect their resources. Having no spies in the Empire's territory, they were unable to assess the Empire's capabilities, and took time to plan out a massive, overpowering invasion rather than waste time with more experimental attacks.
Incursion and retreat
Keltrayu was back within a standard month, having visited many Tetrarchy worlds and compiled a general picture of what the Empire was facing. Using the Force to ponder the future, Rin suspected the Tetrarchs would eventually attack with too great a force to face, and decided to preempt them. She opted to begin her campaign of "liberating" the Tetrarchy's systems with Wemod.
The Battle of Wemod was the first in a string of quick victories for the Empire, though the only one later historians saw fit to classify as an actual battle. Having defeated the Tetrachy force massing there, Rin sent capital ships to several other vassal worlds. Most of these task forces were led by Star Destroyers and made short work of the Tetrarchy garrisons and patrol ships. New alien species flooded the Empire with recruits.
Using information from the new volunteers, Tariun and Keltrayu engineered a shadowfeed in the Tetrarchy's HoloNet. To counter the Tetrarchy's propaganda and sometimes outright refusal to report the Empire's victories, they countered with holos of the battles they had won. Both provided propaganda of their own, emphasizing Rin's formidable Force powers and the inevitability of the Tetrarchy's downfall.
Emboldened by the victories in the Xoquon sector and seeking to keep the Tetrarchy off-balance, Rin conceived a strike in the heart of the Mezlag sector, the Tetrarchy's home. Assaults on Mezlagob and Ommol were ruled out, as both were believed to be too well-defended. Rin ultimately advocated an attack on the droid foundry world of Hudrel, and though Tariun and several Iscali argued for a different strategy, the Massassi commanders and Keltrayu argued on Rin's side, and eventually she commanded the attack.
The Battle of Hudrel was a calamity of the Empire, which lost fifteen capital ships, including the Overlord. The Empire retreated and the Tetrarchy pressed its advantage, quickly seizing all the systems it had lost in the Xoquon sector. It was slightly delayed because those vassal worlds, having tasted the relatively better conditions of the Empire, fought hard not to fall again. But when they were recaptured, the Tetrarchs at last ordered the incursion into the Empire's territory.
Back from the brink
Reeling from its defeat at Hudrel and working with slowly diminishing stores of tibanna and turbolaser ammunition, the Empire lost Tershin and Yin to attacks by the Tetrarchy and barely held Bolera. Several more systems were captured without fights as the Empire consolidated its resources. Tariun and Keltrayu used the shadowfeed to call Tetrarchy boasts into question and undermine public confidence in the government, but he felt he was trying to draw blood from a stone.
Faced with total defeat and unwilling to surrender, Rin decided to devote everything she had left to an all-out assault on a single Tetrarchy world. She personally addressed her commanders and soldiers, telling them the very existence of the Empire and everything they had fought for was at stake. With her soldiers eager for battle and her commanders determined to win or die, she set the Armada on Tizgo V, the military depot of the Xoquon sector from which incursions into the Empire were being launched.
The two-day Battle of Tizgo V was the turning point of the war. In space, Massassi commander Zogryth managed to defeat the Tetrarchy fleet, capturing several ships and destroying dozens more. On the ground, the Royal Army and Tetrarchy command pummeled one another all day and through the night. During the second day, Keltrayu sacrificed his life to destroy a shock tank which had been threatening to vaporize Rin. Heartbroken and consumed with rage, Rin let out a Force scream that shattered the willpower of her enemies. In the resulting chaos, the Royal Army recovered and renewed the attack, and the Tetrarchy army retreated. Though she allowed ships and crews to be taken by the fleet, a vengeful Rin ordered that there were to be no prisoners among the ground forces.
Seizing the foothold
Every weapon and ship left on Tizgo V was confiscated by the Empire and put into service. The Empire liberated its own systems and took the Xoquon sector a second time, including taking Xoquon itself, and the Tetrarchy forces offered only token resistance before submitting. In light of Keltrayu's death, Rin had adopted a new policy of offering surrender only once, at the onset of battle; after it was refused, she would exterminate her enemies to the last being. After this policy saw entire columns of begging soldiers massacred, other Tetrarchy forces were quicker to surrender.
A month after Tizgo V, Iscali explorers reported that a probe had discovered Vedros and tentatively identified its atmosphere as part tibanna gas. Tariun dedicated an entire Star Destroyer and major funding to establishing a mining colony, which was first built on habitable Vedros XIV. Confiscated Tetrarchy substitutes were used in the interim as the Empire began to plan its next campaign.
Forming the Combat Saboteurs from recruits from both original Royal and newly liberated Xoquon sector systems, Tariun deployed them into the Tetrarchy to cause chaos and divert attention from reprisal. Tariun himself led a Raid on Ommol to destroy the shock tank factory and kill the scientists responsible for its plans. Tariun went on the shadowfeed to announce the victory and declare that any being found operating, manning, or servicing a shock tank would be summarily executed, which won further support among forcibly held populations which had been on the receiving end of the weapon.
The Capture of the Vall`to Sector
Two months after the Battle of Tizgo V, Rin began a dedicated campaign aimed at the capture of the Vall`to sector. Her first strike was at the military depot of Baes, which fell more quickly than Tizgo V in the face of Rin's newly expanded fleet. One of the planet's orbital defense battle stations was destroyed, along with numerous capital ships, but several other ships were captured and recrewed with Royal loyalists. The followup strike which took Vall`to was a hard-fought battle but resulted in few Royal casualties. Admiral Garyth Quorr had retreated from Baes, but was killed at Vall`to along with the Dronos Tetrarch Dourshe.
Vall`to's capture was especially important because the Vall`to Sector Bank backed the Tetrum. Faced with the changed circumstances, the Bank agreed to abandon the Tetrarchy and back the Royal Credit instead. The Tetrarchy's economy collapsed as a result, experiencing skyrocketing inflation that stymied plans to attack the Xoquon sector while the Empire was busy with Vall`to. Tariun had by now simply hijacked most of the Tetrarchy HoloNet, but used the shadowfeed on systems the Empire did not control in order to boast of the deaths of Quorr and Dourshe and the defection of the Bank.
Over the following month, the Tetrarchy lost the rest of the Vall`to sector in a series of quick strikes by the Empire. Pausing to rebuild her Armada and fully integrate the newly confiscated ships, Rin sent Aquila Corcer on a covert mission to assassinate Hudrelan Tetrarch Pexereca Tainer. The Tetrarchs had elected Catel Embri to replace Dourshe, but the economic calamity accompanying the death of a second Tetrarch so soon led them to eschew appointing another replacement.
With the Tetrarchy's economy collapsing and the leadership in disarray, the Empire prepared its final push. The Tetrarchs withdrew most of the Mezlag sector's fleet to defend Mezlagob and Ommol, leaving Hudrel and Telacia open for capture. Hudrel was taken without much of a fight, and Telacia contacted Rin discreetly to arrange its surrender. Dolomir experienced an internal rebellion, and when Rin received word of it through captured Tetrarchy communications systems on Hudrel, the Empire arrived to aid the rebels, capturing the planet and its astrographic database.
Several other systems revolted or offered preemptive surrender, but Rin judged that the time had finally come to crush the Tetrarchy and led her fleet to Mezlagob. Though Tariun had expected a titanic battle and using Rin's Battle Meditation to shatter the will of her enemies, the "Battle of Mezlagob" was distinctly anticlimactic. Knowing Rin's reputation for mercilessness after an initial offer of surrender was refused, and having seen the fates of other Tetrarchy fleets, the defense fleet at Mezlagob offered surrender ship-by-ship until the entire force had submitted.
Unable to escape, Umdal Tetrarch Lahek Gril committed suicide rather than face Rin. The Empire captured the two Mezzel Tetrarchs, Catel Embri and Idiian Gundo, and Rin personally executed them live on the Royal HoloNet and the Tetrarchy feed, decapitating both with her lightsaber and one of Tariun's.
Rin declared the Tetrarchy defeated and all its systems equal member worlds of the Golden Empire, but Ommol refused to submit. Tariun got his brutal final showdown in the Battle of Ommol, where surviving Tetrarchy loyalists and commanders massed what remained of the Tetrarchy force. The Armada fought a seven-hour battle before the last holdouts of the Tetrarchy were annihilated. Using the Tetrarchy's own codes, Rin deactivated the planet's shields and bombarded the ground bases, reducing the rest of the resistance to dust.
Every planet of the Tetrarchy was incorporated into the Golden Empire, and all were treated as equals to one another and previously existing Royal systems. This created a sharp divide, as formerly privileged worlds like Mezlagob, Hudrel, and Ommol protested, while former vassal worlds relished the new protections of the law. Much of the public and private wealth of the Tetrarchy's major systems was confiscated by the state and redistributed as reparations to former vassal worlds, as well as invaded Royal worlds like Tershin and Yin.
Every Tetrarchy governor was executed, as were numerous collaborators. In total, across the eighty-three worlds the Tetrarchy had controlled, over three thousand beings were tried and sentenced to death, with thousands more imprisoned for life. High-ranking officers of the Tetrarchy military were executed, but lower-ranked officers and enlisted personnel were usually allowed to resign peacefully unless there was evidence of them committing abuses, and some were even allowed to continue serving.
Royal Consuls were installed on every newly acquired world, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Integration hired thousands of new agents in order to immerse former Tetrarchy systems in Royal culture. After careful consideration, Rin decided not only to allow the continued use of Orhyo, but adopted it as the official language of the Golden Empire. Unlike the Tetrarchy, however, she made its vocabulary available to all citizens.
Rin had referred to the war as a "great liberation" as early as the Battle of Wemod, and that term became the one used in official sources. Many holovids were made depicting various aspects of the war. Perhaps the most famous cultural tribute to the events of the war was the epic poem "The Fall of Keltrayu", by the Mineti Osibom of Wemod, who had fought at the Battle of Tizgo V.
The defeat of the Tetrarchy allowed the Empire to inherit its resources and entrenched bureaucracy, as well as its knowledge of explored systems. However, it also inherited the Tetrarchy's problems, which would lead to later campaigns against the Nightside Raiders and Red Eclipse.
Those closest to Rin Sakaros felt the death of Keltrayu in the war had a profound and permanent effect on her. Having lost her apprentice and best friend, she became noticeably more ruthless toward threats to her people, and her policy of offering surrender only once became a mandate for the Armada in the future.