Within galactic history, the reign of the Third Republic can be roughly divided into two periods: before the Nihl (the High Republic Era), and after the Nihl (the Late Republic Era). Considering the changes in galactic culture and government that followed their Incursion, these two eras can hardly be confused.
In what is to come, we will explore the perilous course of the Nihl Incursion from an appropriately ground-level perspective, using the conventions of narrative fiction to impart the chaotic experience of some of its participants. However, to also preserve some sense of the greater conflict unfolding between its individual incidents, these story segments will be interspersed with relevant excerpts from recent historical volumes.
For a long time, our knowledge of the Nihl Incursion was woefully restricted to the blatant propaganda of official Republic sources. According to this skewed version of events, the Nihl were a brutal band of Outer Rim raiders, ungrateful barbarians who violently rejected the civilizing Light of the Jedi and their Republic. This kind of rhetoric echoes a long tradition of Core World chauvinism towards those who dwell at the edges of their influence. Luckily, thanks to the turmoil of recent years, we are now able to see this conflict from the other side. At last we know what compelled the Nihl to take up arms against the greatest power in the known galaxy. In the revised history which will be centered here, their revolt shall be honored for what it was: a fight against exploitation, colonization, and assimilation. It’s a struggle which continues to this day.
Excerpt from “That Old Poison: A Short History of the High Republic Era” by Sil Doneeta:
“In this economic context, it is hard to overstate the importance of Taris. The colonial expansion of the High Republic era was mostly focused on the northern reaches of the galaxy, a region which had only recently become part of the ‘Outer Rim Settlement Zone’. With Taris lying near the crossover of several different hyperspace routes, it was perfectly positioned to profit off the new tax and trade flows heading for the Core Worlds, as well as the ever heightening wave of colonists heading in the other direction. Taris was becoming a planet of middlemen, and the stagnation which had marked it since Malak’s Scouring was finally being made up for thanks to that evergreen tactic of Republic governance: expansion. Yet as would soon become clear, this trend was nearing its natural and inevitable limits.”
If it was up to Jedi Knight Sava Trebizon, she never would have come to Taris. As she looked out the window of the spaceport’s shuttle, the grandeur of this second-rate megalopolis offered little to her liking. Already she was homesick for the verdant valleys which surrounded the Jedi Temple on Tython; were it not for the inherent excitement of her present assignment, she might have even found the courage to refuse this trip altogether. In any event, she would likely only have to spend a few days amid the mediocre hustle and bustle of Taris: her ultimate destination was further along the rimward flow of the Republic’s expansion. To her great delight, she was headed for the frontier.
A mumbled mantra next to her reminded Sava that she was not going there alone. She had met her travelling companion at one of the many stops on the way to Taris, immediately recognizing him as a fellow Jedi Knight. Though they had spoken little after their initial introductions—Alboran Kuai was apparently his name—she knew that he had come here from Coruscant, having been designated an assignment much like her own. Together, they were going to meet with a representative of the Frontier Jedi, noble Force-wielding lawmen who reportedly took a more rough-and-ready attitude to their duties than the ones she was used to on Tython. The thrill of meeting such rugged individuals had even stirred Kuai from his persistent quietude; while he was presently reciting the Jedi Code under his breath, she’d had at least one conversation with him since their arrival in Taris’s orbit. When it came to this solemn and officious fellow, that was quite a feat.
Yes, it was clear they were both eagerly anticipating their departure from this wretched place, although Kuai was never going to admit that out loud. Luckily, the shuttle that was taking them from one spaceport to another had almost reached its destination. Once there, they would have their first impression of the ones who would guide them for the foreseeable future. As young Jedi Knights, neither of them knew what it was like to operate outside of the Jedi Order’s own enclaves, or how life in the Outer Rim would differ altogether. Sure, holovid serials had given them some sense of the latter, but who could trust the reliability of those two-cred adventure stories?
No, this was going to be an entirely new experience. As the shuttle proceeded to land on one of the many rickety docks extending outward from the semicircular spaceport, Sava could feel both excitement and trepidation building in her. Along with Kuai, she jostled her way through the throng of travelers slowly piling up at the exit. Finally the doors opened, and the already anxious passengers were confronted with a blast of the noise, light, and stink which the shuttle had mercifully shielded them from. Such was life on Taris: harsh, loud, and toxic in every manner.
It was exactly because of this sensory overload that Sava feared they wouldn’t find the one who awaited them here. Caught amid the suffocating spaceport traffic, even someone as extraordinary as a frontier Jedi seemed impossible to find. Then she realized there was a sense that hadn’t been wholly overwhelmed, an extraordinary gift which set her apart from most of the people here. Reaching out with the Force, she not only felt the continuous presence of Kuai, but also a distant yet powerful signal emanating from somewhere in this transport complex. Her companion had clearly noticed the same; though neither of them lead the other through the disorienting maze of platforms and terminals, they still charted an identical course towards their portentous destination.
Arriving in a great central hall, Sava was at first distracted by its faded grandeur, staring in particular at the soot-covered mosaics which covered its ceiling. Here were displayed some of the most important scenes in Taris’s history, a great attempt at pretending this planet had any culture to speak of. Still, there was one tableau which caught her attention especially. This one showed a clash of ancient lightsabers, bulky weapons in radiant shades of cyan and crimson. Sava wasn’t aware of any important Force Wars on Taris, but then she’d never paid too much attention in the Temple’s history classes. While she was still all too happy to leave this planet behind, clearly it held some hidden depths.
By the time she had processed this quick series of impressions, they were but a dozen steps from the one who awaited them. An entire crowd separated them still, and Sava could only catch glimpses of a hood and robes as they approached. Finally they came to within a few meters of the figure, where the aura of his presence seemed to carve some sort of clearing from this forest of foreigners. While recognizably a Force mystic, Sava also noticed some clear differences from what she implicitly expected a Jedi to look like. Overall, their outfit was much more practical than the complicated garments of a monastic order. The frontiersman’s boots, trousers, and tunic—all made from leathers and rough-spun fabrics—made for a sharp contrast with the more ceremonial garb she was accustomed to. What’s more, these clothes featured several adornments which, if not downright heretical, were at least highly unorthodox. Whether they were trophies, mementos, or religious objects, she could not tell. In any case, this exotic Jedi had noticed them right as they had noticed him, perhaps even earlier. While they looked at him with a mix of humility, curiosity, and apprehension, his face lit up with the simple charm of an honest welcome.
“There you are!” said their new companion. “I hope the Force was with you on your journey!”
Surprisingly, Kuai was the first to reply. “If it wasn’t before, it certainly is now, Master Jedi.” he spoke, making a short bow before the senior Jedi. Sava followed his lead, quickly compensating for her usual lack of decorum.
The Jedi himself seemed slightly amused by this. “Oh come now, there’s no need for such formalities. I am but a Jedi Knight, same as you. Let us not begin from a place of false hierarchy!”
Ah, was that how it was going to be? Sava appreciated such directness.
“Now, my fellow Jedi, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Helfir of Jelucan, a follower of the Force. That last part is something me and my comrades all say, by the way, so do use it later on. Anyway, I’d welcome you to Taris, but I’m not actually stationed here. In fact, this is the furthest coreward I’ve been in years! How about you?”
Again, Kuai was fast to reply. “Kindly met, Helfir of Jelucan. I am Alboran Kuai, also a follower of the Force. I was sent from the Temple of Coruscant by my former Master, Lemma-Tian Bivor-Tion. He places great importance on the security of our Republic’s borders, but as he is himself so preoccupied with Temple affairs, I have volunteered to serve as his emissary. I hope you will accept me among your fellowship.”
How formal! Kuai had clearly rehearsed these words on the way here. Sava herself was going to have to improvise.
“Yes, good to meet you, Helfir of Jelucan. I’m Sava Trebizon, and I follow the Force as well. I was sent from the temple of Tython as a representative of some of the schools which reside there. I have heard much of you noble Frontier Jedi, and I sincerely hope to become one of you.”
She hadn’t lied about a word of this, though she wondered if Helfir had picked up on her slight omission. A momentary look of consternation made her suspect as such, but he had seemingly recaptured his earlier enthusiasm by the end of her little speech.
“Well then, it’s nice to meet you both! One small point of correction though.” He turned his head ever so slightly to Sava. “We prefer to use the term ‘Folk Jedi’ among ourselves, insofar as we even acknowledge any difference between us and any Jedi you might be familiar with. After all, are we not all united in our allegiance the Force?”
While she did not like to be corrected, Sava found herself agreeing with this latter sentiment. She was well aware of the complex philosophical diversity among the various Jedi schools, yet could also acknowledge how they were all connected by a far greater historical mechanism, a fate which could only be described through the Force. It’s what had lead her here in the first place. Or so she believed.
With their introductions resolved, Helfir spoke of immediate practicalities. As the three of them made their way back into the spaceport’s tangle of terminals, he explained that a private shuttle would take them to a special Jedi cruiser in orbit, a mobile base which some of the Folk Jedi used to patrol the Outer Rim. Even as most of them were stationed on specific planets of interest (trade nodes, historical centers, that sort of thing) there was always a need for more nomadic Jedi who could respond to distant distress calls or rapidly reinforce a world in crisis. Helfir himself was one of those travelling types.
Personally, Sava wasn’t sure if such a mission suited her. She was too used to the natural elegance of Tython to spend much time on a spaceship. Then again, anything beat Taris.
As they walked and she pondered these things, Sava started to notice something worrisome about Helfir’s demeanor. It was hard to walk side by side in these crowded corridors, so she found herself trailing her two companions as Kuai excitedly responded to whatever this ‘Folk Jedi’ was telling him. She supposed he was speaking to them both, but every time she tried to make a comment or ask for clarification, she could see Helfir’s posture tense up significantly. It was as if her very presence was putting him on edge; she was aware of only one reason for why this might be, and hoped dearly that he had not figured out what she tried her best to obscure. Perhaps his apprehension was wholly subconscious, a suspicion he could not yet place; this would buy her the time she needed to board the Jedi Cruiser and fade amid its chaos of Force signatures.
In any case, the moment of their departure was approaching rapidly, as Helfir lead them from the busier passageways into a more unattended area of the spaceport. Here was a terminal reserved for official state business; while the relation of the Jedi to the Republic had never been wholly clarified, the Order at least enjoyed the right to use these exclusive facilities. That said, it seemed the local government lacked either the funds or the motivation to properly maintain this infrastructure, for the docking platform they emerged on seemed almost more precarious than the one they had landed at. Walking to the shuttle at its far end, Sava felt the wind of Taris’s heights whip past her, threatening to cast her off this trembling durasteel berth into the almost endless depths of this thrice-damned city. She felt relieved when the shuttle’s boarding ramp was just a few steps away, Kuai already walking up it towards the relative comfort of its small cockpit. However, it was at precisely this moment that Helfir—who stood in between them—turned around to block her path into the cockpit.
“I’m sorry, Sava Trebizon. I think we both know I can’t let you come with us.”
He had found her out. Dank farrik! There was no use denying it now, but still she tried.
“What are you talking about? Did I do something wrong?”
Kuai was confused by this interruption. “What’s going on?” he yelled over the howling Upper City winds. “Why can’t she come with us?”
Helfir smiled sadly at this question. Clearly he didn’t like to be in this situation any more than she did. Not that this made his perfidy any better.
“Well, Sava? Would you like to tell him?”
“I would not, actually. If you’re making a call right here, you need to be able to justify it. And I swear to you, if you try to keep me from my mission on the frontier, a duty assigned to me by genuine Jedi Masters, just for the sake of your own prejudice…well, let’s just say that the interests I represent would not be pleased by your conduct.”
This was her best shot at getting Helfir to cooperate, at reaching the frontier and joining the Folk Jedi. But it seemed her main obstacle was not about to yield.
“Ha, you’d snitch to your superiors? I think I’m willing to take that risk.”
Kuai was still as lost as before. “What are you two talking about? Who are her masters?”
Whatever sympathy was caught up in Kuai’s confoundment, Helfir was about to snuff it out.
“I’m sorry, Alboran. I thought you would have sensed it too, but I guess it takes a slightly more experienced mind. That’s okay though; trusting her was not your fault. We Jedi would be nothing without our good faith. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for Sava Trebizon. She serves a different lineage within our Order. A decidedly darker one.”
“No way!” Kuai’s surprise made him look more emotional than she thought him capable of. How ironic that this break of character would likely be the last she’d see of him. For now he’d learned the truth. And those who came to know it rarely abided her afterwards.
“You’re a Sith?!” Kuai asked rhetorically.
A futile impulse lead Sava to clarify the situation. “Technically, we’re supposed to call ourselves ‘Dark Jedi’. None of us have been true Sith since the Ruusan Reformation.” This little history lesson wasn’t going to save her, but it had to be said. She was not their enemy!
It would not matter. Though the Dark Side was powerful, it was hardly ever subtle. Insidious at best. She had been found out, and would not join these Jedi in their expedition.
If it was up to Dark Jedi Knight Sava Trebizon, she never would have come to Taris. Now she was going to have to stay here.