Knights of the Old Republic: Phantom Rising is a fan fiction short story written by user Jedi Master 76. Phantom Rising is the second short story written for the Days of Dissidence Series, taking place immediately after the events in Knight of Alderaan. It is the first and only story in the Days of Dissidence Series to be written in the first-person present tense. The story was completed August 16, 2010 and received a minor update in 2013.
Phantom Rising introduces a new character to the universe, a Sith naval officer named Nohli Crescen. In the wake of Darth Malak's death at the end of the Jedi Civil War, the vessel she serves on, the Phantom Rising, is plagued by confusion and dissidence. As the crew slowly abandon their posts and eventually begin dying one-by-one, she and the ship's only other survivor, Jaeln Benax, must discover exactly what threat they face and why they're wanted dead.
In order of appearance and/or mentioning.
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Vehicles and vessels
In the aftermath of the Jedi Civil War, the surviving Sith forces are in disarray. Between a civil war on Korriban and warlords challenging their fellow Sith Masters for dominance, neither Jedi nor Sith care much about Phantom Rising, an old Derriphan-class battleship that is headed for the frontier. Aboard the Phantom Rising, Ensign Nohli Crescen, a young starfighter mechanic and new crewer, speaks with her parents about goings-on in the Sith Empire. They are eager for her to finish her deployment and return home, especially given the worrisome news they've been hearing from travelers. Nohli, though homesick and lonely, is determined to prove herself to the Sith that saved her comparatively backwater world.
Nohli departs from the comm room after her short break and returns to the hangar control room for her next shift. When she arrives, she discovers that the rest of the maintenance staff has been killed. A cloaked figure with a blue lightsaber approaches her, but the gruesome carnage causes her to faint. When she awakens, the mysterious figure is gone and she finds herself face-to-face with Jaeln Benax, one of the Force-sensitive assigned to the ship. Since he arrived, she has been infatuated with him, and her admiration becomes stronger when she discovers that he saved her from the other figure, though he denies it at first. Jaeln explains to her that a Jedi Knight had arrived on the Phantom Rising a few days before and began killing the crew and passengers aboard. Jaeln and Nohli are apparently the only survivors, and they are alone on the ship with the murderous Jedi.
The two of them come up with a plan to deal with the Jedi, and Jaeln leads the way on their hunt for him. Nohli, though ignorant about the Jedi-Sith rivalry and the Force in general, is confident that Jaeln will emerge victorious. However, she also notices that Jaeln's body language is reserved and uncertain, as though he is hiding something. Indeed, the more she talks to him, the more worried she becomes herself.
Jaeln finds their enemy's hiding place and they enter his chamber. The Jedi Knight and Jaeln duel while Nohli watches on helplessly. During the course of the duel, it seems that the Jedi is positioning himself between her and Jaeln. She eventually gathers enough courage to shoot at the Jedi, but he avoids her attack and urges her to flee. She doesn't understand, but Jaeln convinces her to stay put or else the Jedi will pursue her. Eerie sounds and footsteps continue to haunt her senses while she watches them fight, as though she is being surrounded by the ghosts said to haunt the battleship.
She shoots at him again. He blocks the shots, but Jaeln takes advantage of his distraction and deals him a fatal blow. The dying Jedi again urges Nohli to flee, and he apologizes for not doing enough to save her. He dies before he can explain further. Nohli still doesn't understand what he is talking about, and Jaeln's enigmatic words provide no consolation. Before she can try to pry more answers out of him, Nafyan appears before the duo. He praises Jaeln's skill and how he has dealt with the others on the Phantom Rising, but he chastises him for leaving Nohli alive. Before she can process what the Benax family's servant is talking about, Jaeln stabs her in the back with a vibroblade. Nohli's last thoughts are about her family.
Jaeln reminisces on what he has done. He killed the rest of the crew because Nafyan told him that, as the Benax family's eldest, he had gained a rare power that allowed him to absorb the living Force from his victims. Every sentient being he killed only enhanced his own raw power. So Jaeln listened to Nafyan—a Sith Master in his own right—and killed his own servants and allies. Only the sudden arrival of the Jedi Knight, Marcellan Q'endel, shielded Nohli from him. When he finally found her, he hesitated because of her feelings for him. Nafyan, realizing that Jaeln is still too weak to embrace his destiny, stabs his pupil and urges him to rise above his 'weaker' emotions. Jaeln, coming close to death, agrees with him and vows to cast off any emotions that would hinder him from his pursuit of power.
Local investigators arrived on the scene sometime later, and the two survivors were already long gone. The Jedi Order was called in due to the sheer carnage left on the scene. Before the two Sith departed, they had dressed up Nohli's superior, with his remarkable similarity to Jaeln, appear as though he was the dead Sith apprentice. The Jedi suspect that Marcellan, the Sith leaders, and the crew had a three-way uprising aboard the Phantom Rising, resulting in the death of the whole crew; however, evidence proves their theories inconsistent. Without security footage, survivors, or other evidence, the Jedi Council decides to destroy the ship, lest the dark side taint of the place draw in others.
Behind the scenes
Phantom Rising's story changed several times prior to its final draft and release. This story was always intended to be a short story, unlike its predecessor, Vanguard of the Republic, but it went through several title changes, including Dark Rising, Specter of Alderaan, and The Eventide.
In the outlining stages and the early drafts, the story's protagonist was intended to be Jaeln Benax. Plotlines included flashbacks to Jaeln's time on Alderaan, detailing interaction between him and his brother, the death of Calay, his Sith lover, and visions revealing the death of his father. In the end, the dark side would prove too powerful for him, and he would have gone on an insane rampage through a transport ship and killed all its passengers. However, Jedi Master 76 was not pleased with the early drafts and could not decide how best to improve them, so Jaeln was placed in a supporting role. Some plotlines remained, albeit adjusted, when the character Nohli Crescen was created and placed in a leading role.
The ship Phantom Rising was chosen as the story's setting because the Derriphan-class was the oldest model serving Revan and Malak's Sith Empire, and Jedi Master 76 wanted the characters to feel unease while serving on board. In particular, the Phantom Rising was said to have been haunted by the ghosts of its dead crew; it created an eerie environment that suited the grim situation of the characters and their surroundings. Furthermore, the ship was old enough to allude to ancient Sith dynasties, whose powers were arguably greater than that of the Sith Lords during the Jedi Civil War. Jedi Master 76 wanted this to point back to the "true" Sith who become a part of the mystery later in the Knights of the Old Republic metaseries.
Nohli Crescen was created primarily to serve as an ignorant character whom Jaeln Benax, as a Sith and unreliable narrator, could recount backstory to. She was naive and young, but she showed promise and was skilled mechanically. Because of her innocence and defenselessness, she served primarily as a tragic character. It was always intended for her to die at the story's end, although Jedi Master 76 initially could not decide whether to have Nafyan or Jaeln kill her. In the end, it was decided that Jaeln killing her continued his ultimate descent to darkness; therefore, he was made the killer.
The story was influenced by the imagery and themes from the metal genre of music. Other inspirations for the story include the video games of the Halo series, Mass Effect series, the Dead Space series, and the short stories by Edgar Allan Poe.
The title refers to the ship Phantom Rising itself, but it also alludes to Jaeln Benax and the Sith at large; their power and influence in the galaxy increase as the Jedi's strength and authority decrease. The story's theme is centered around the concepts of maturity, obedience, and the impact of individual choices on those around us.