The Massassi (/məˈsæ.si:/) were an ancient offshoot of the Sith species, initially mutated by the experiments of Naga Sadow and later driven to extinction by Exar Kun. A century before the Battle of Yavin, the Sith Lord and alchemist Khrado Ragnos used his powers and cloning techniques to revive the ancient race, growing himself an army which in later years would pass to his apprentice Tak Sakaros, and then to Tak's daughter Rin.
Biology and appearance
Biologically related to the Sith species, the Massassi were nonetheless clearly distinct. They shared the red skin and yellow eyes common to their progenitors, but were substantially larger, ranging from 1.98 meters (6'6") to 2.29 meters (7'6"). They were also heavily muscled and able to combat nearly any sentient species on equal terms. Their bodies usually featured some combination of horns, bone spurs, and spines, and they usually had some arrangement of the facial tentacles common to pure Sith.
Many of the early generations of Massassi had a slightly hunched appearance, a result of Khrado Ragnos rebirthing Naga Sadow's mutants without making changes. Later generations stood more erect. Khrado Ragnos intentionally bred his Massassi to be mildly Force-sensitive, endowing them with superior reflexes and combat abilities while ensuring they would never have command of the Force to rival a Sith Lord.
The earliest generations of Ragnos's experiments were simple clones of fossils he had uncovered on Yavin 4. Later, in an attempt to allow biological diversity and natural breeding, the Sith Lord began to make alterations to their biology, subtly changing DNA to create more diversity and avoid the problems of inbreeding. Rin Sakaros performed similar alchemy on later generations, and also enhanced the intelligence of some of her Massassi. Some generations of Massassi were bred with greater lifespans than others; Kartok was over one hundred when he died, whereas other generations were considered old at fifty. Rin eventually attempted to stabilize the lifespan of her Massassi around sixty years of age.
Massassi gave birth to live young, usually one at a time. Their spines were soft and flexible at birth to allow passage through the birth canal, but hardened over time.
Due to their genetic ancestry as offshoot descendants of the Sith, the Massassi were naturally Force-sensitive as a species. Though no Massassi exhibited enough strength in the Force for formal training until 154 ABY, they uniformly possessed greater midichlorian counts that other species; several beings, including Kelto Nembask, believed that this above-average concentration was what gave the Massassi their quick combat reflexes and stamina. Sarvhak was the first Massassi to show such strength in that the Force that he could be trained as a Centurion.
Society and culture
Bred for obedience, the Massassi were entirely devoted to the Sith, whom they viewed as gods. This also extended to part-Sith, such as Rin and Tariun Sakaros. Khrado Ragnos encouraged this belief and Rin was tolerant of it; though he desired it to be entirely clear that he was their master, Tak Sakaros had a less strict view of the relationship. Under the Golden Empire, the Massassi viewed service to Rin's government as the highest ideal, and competition was fierce for places in the seventeen Massassi Cohorts. Treason against the government was considered the basest crime, and punished by being torn limb from limb by other Massassi.
The Massassi were warlike and ruthless, and not at all comfortable with long periods of stasis or inactivity. They trained to fight with a variety of weapons, but were most famous for single- or double-bladed vibroglaives, a modernization of the ancient Massassi lanvarok. In battle or in the execution of a Sith's commands, the Massassi were vicious and brutal, and Rin often used them to execute the most violent of her commands, such as punishing the Red Eclipse slavers on Harth Gool, who were disemboweled and burned alive.
In their small enclaves of culture, and especially on Kavez Massass when they gained the world, the Massassi were a communal people. Strength and discipline were prized while weakness was punished, and both male and female Massassi were expected to work hard and without complaint.
Ritual sacrifice was part of Massassi culture, and both Khrado Ragnos and Tak Sakaros tolerated it in moderation. Rin was less permissive, eventually consenting to sacrificing insentients but strictly forbidding the execution of any Massassi for reasons other than judicial. Some sects continued to practice sentient sacrifice in secret, but most were unwilling to disobey a direct command from their goddess, and those few who did were brutally punished.
The Origin of the Species
Roughly a hundred years before the Battle of Yavin, Khrado Ragnos departed his training on Korriban and visited Coruscant and Yavin 4. On the jungle moon, he unearthed fossilized remains of ancient Massassi whose life forces had been consumed by Exar Kun when the Dark Lord fell to a concentrated assault by the Jedi. Scouring the ancient temples, Ragnos also found holocron and written records left by both Kun and Naga Sadow.
Ragnos returned to Korriban, where he devoted himself to the study of Sith alchemy and the records of the Massassi. In time, he became confident enough in his abilities to journey to a nearby aquatic world in Wild Space. Threatening the natives with annihilation if they did not bow to his will, he took an entire ocean for his own use. With tissue samples from the natives and Massassi DNA harvested from the fossils, Ragnos used his alchemical abilities to grow an entire army, using the ocean and its bacteria as a liquid medium.
When the first batch of thousands of Massassi was prepared, Ragnos took it to an industrialized world, slaughtered the native population, and set his Massassi to building spaceships for him. Meanwhile, he began a second batch of clones, this time introducing more genetic variety into the species by both using different fossil sources and further manipulating them with the Force. As he was rapidly exhausting his resources, he also grew thousands of female Massassi to act as breeders for subsequent generations of his army.
The Ragnos Conquests
When his first ships were completed and his Massassi adequately trained to crew them, the Sith Lord set off to conquer what had once been Sith Space. Grown to be unwaveringly loyal to the Sith in general and Ragnos in particular, the Massassi served zealously, wantonly butchering any who stood opposed to them. In 71 BBY, Ragnos recruited the Force-sensitive Sith Tak Sakaros as his apprentice. The younger Sith was already a veteran of guerilla war on his homeworld, and took to leading the Massassi from the front lines. The Massassi took to their new commander quickly, impressed by his willingness to fight at their side.
The Sith fleet conquered for twenty-six years, from 87 BBY to the Battle of Khar Delba in 61 BBY. There it was shattered, Tak Sakaros went missing in action, and Khrado Ragnos recalled his forces to the Horuset system to rebuild and plan. Realizing his forces would require time to return to their former strength, Ragnos set his Massassi to breeding, began a final batch of alchemical clones, and ordered his servants to repair and rebuild the fleet while he himself pursued other matters elsewhere in the galaxy.
Dutifully, the Massassi bred a new generation of themselves and constructed more warships with what resources were available to them. They made small incursions into nearby areas of space to capture more materials or other species (both sentient and not) for food, but generally kept to themselves. During this time they were overseen by Kartok, a first-generation Massassi warrior with greater intelligence and creative thinking abilities than the majority of his brethren, who had been intentionally bred with lower intelligence to make them soldiers and nothing more.
Using his personal reputation for ferocity and his leadership abilities, Kartok managed to keep order until 25 BBY, when Khrado Ragnos returned and instructed his forces to prepare for war. It took three years before the fleet was ready for battle, after which Ragnos again deployed his forces in Sith Space. Under cover of the Clone Wars consuming the majority of the galaxy, the Sith quietly annexed some of the territory he had lost decades before. A mere three years later, however, Ragnos left his fleet and journeyed to Coruscant to challenge Palpatine and Darth Vader.
When he did not return, Kartok again assumed leadership of his species. Many Massassi, frustrated by continued inaction, rebelled and were exterminated by the faithful remainder. Kartok spread them throughout the systems they had reconquered, wiping out native species and establishing them as Massassi-held worlds.
A New Master
Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Tak Sakaros discovered the Massassi and what remained of the Sith fleet. After he informed them of the death of Khrado Ragnos, the Massassi pledged their loyalty to Tak and his family. Re-arming the fleet, Tak prepared them for deployment in a new series of campaigns.
Tak and his sons led the Massassi to war for a few years, but the army was defeated at the Battle of Dorian IV. They withdrew into hiding for four years, then returned to the galaxy to fight in the Yuuzhan Vong War. In its aftermath, the fleet stayed in hiding for long periods, usually in the Denarii Nova or on nearby Yavin 4, which had been vacated by the Jedi during the war. During his time on Naboo, Tak often kept a contingent of Massassi with him.
Tak Sakaros and his friend and fellow Sith Lord Gav Daragon engineered a feigned war in which the Massassi fought Daragon's Rogue Imperial soldiers. However, when the conflict turned to real war, Sakaros kept his forces withdrawn, preferring to run from the numerically superior Rogue Imperials rather than risk losing his forces in a straight fight.
Over the following decades, the Massassi once again returned to stagnation, as Tak had taken to political manipulation rather than direct confrontation with his enemies. While serving as Naboo's ambassador to the Galactic Alliance Senate, he kept a small contingent of Massassi in the Naboo embassy.
The Golden Empire
The Queen's Own
In 87 ABY, Rin Sakaros fought and defeated her father and took his fleet for herself. Declaring herself the Dark Lord of the Sith, she won the loyalty of the Massassi, who became the core of her new Golden Empire. Their ferocious appearance and absolute devotion to her helped convince many worlds to submit to Rin without bloodshed, and their brutality in battle brought others quickly under her sway. These Massassi became the foundation of the Glorious Armada of the Golden Empire.
Over the first thirteen years of the Empire, other species gradually integrated into the Empire's military, reducing the need for all Massassi to take active roles in combat. Many stayed with newly acquired worlds to build infrastructure or provide security and law enforcement, and built small Massassi cultures on these planets. Those who elected to remain in the Army were organized into the twelve (later seventeen) Massassi Cohorts.
The Massassi distinguished themselves during the Great Liberation, winning particular acclaim at the Battle of Tizgo V. In the aftermath of the war, those Tetrarchy worlds which did not willingly submit to Rin's rule were often kept in check by assigned regiments of Massassi warriors, sent to back up Royal Consuls.
In 116 ABY, as a benefice in return for their unwavering fidelity and devoted service, Rin gave the Massassi a planet to serve as their new homeworld. They named the jungle world Kavez Massass, and it was given special Royal protection; aside from Rin's own emissaries, no one could visit the world without the permission of the Massassi themselves, and only a Massassi could be their Consul. Zogryth, a distinguished Massassi warrior who had been captain of the Sith Star during the Great Liberation, was made the first Consul of Kavez Massass.
The Massassi built up a society for themselves on their new homeworld, and the recruitment and training of the Massassi Cohorts was moved there as well. In gratitude for Rin's gift, the Massassi built the Temple of Rin, the largest structure on their world. They continued to serve the Golden Empire, many in the military and some in other government roles, though the majority of those not in the Army remained on Kavez Massass.
In the galaxy
During the first century of the Massassi rebirth, the most famous of their number was Kartok, the foremost commander of Khrado Ragnos and Tak Sakaros's third-in-command. In the Golden Empire, the Massassi captain and Consul Zogryth was a hero to his people and many spacemen of the Royal Navy; both he and Colonel Eihwaz of the 11th Massassi Cohort were awarded the Sovereign's Order.
The Massassi Cohorts were infamous in the Empire as Rin's most savage and dangerous servants outside the Order of Keltrayu, and their mere presence was often enough to quell enemies or pacify uprisings. The 11th in particular was renowned as the most skilled and dangerous heavy infantry unit in the Royal Army, nicknamed "the Wrath of Rin".