The History of the Jedi and Sith is closely tied to that of the Force. Although the Force has always existed, it was first identified and developed by the group of "wizards and mystics" who eventually formed the Jedi Order. While the Jedi learned more about this energy field that binds together time, space, and living beings, the Jedi Order grew and spread, carrying word of the Force to the far-flung planets and cultures. The citizens of a thousand worlds coined a name for this curious phenomenon, the Force, and recognized the Jedi Knights as the presiding experts in its use. During the history of the Galactic Republic, the people of the galaxy developed a deeper understanding of the Force. This overview of important historic events serves to demonstrate how the path of the Jedi paralleled the development of galactic society.
After the creation of the Universe planets formed, and life arose through a steady progression of increasingly complex organisms. Woven into and intertwined with all of this - from the smallest molecule to the largest star - was the Force. Symbiotic and residing within cells in all life forms are the Midichlorians, a microscopic life form that is intertwined with the Force. These tiny life forms communicate with the Force and reveal its will. The Force is an essential part of nature - like energy or matter.
Eventually, a galaxy far, far away was formed by the gravitational collapse of a large cloud of dust and gas. There would approximately 400,000,000,000 stars in this galaxy. Around half of these would have planets that support some form of life. 10% of those would develop life on their own, and one in a thousand of these worlds would develop sentient life (about 20 million forms of sentient life). The length of the galaxy would be 120,000 light years across.
There was a belief in some sort of extrasensory energy among the sentients of the galaxy for as long as there have been sentients in the galaxy. The belief in this extrasensory "force" transcended cultures and species and worlds and with time the great thinkers of the galaxy came to the understanding that every aspect of the galaxy, living or otherwise, is touched by this force in some way. Predators can tap into this force to enhance their hunting instincts and creatures like the Ysalmiri can repel this force to protect themselves from these predators. This energy is simply a part of their surroundings. Every living thing in the galaxy senses this energy in some way, even if they are not aware of it. To the sentients of the galaxy, this energy was something of superstition, it appears to shift their fiction in unpredictable ways, and it bends the laws of physics, chemistry and biology. It allows the impossible to happen. Somewhere along the way, sentients realized that this malleable nature of the force goes both ways. It can manipulate their fiction, and they can manipulate it right back.
These early "force manipulators" were dismissed by their cultures as wizards and mystics. People of questionable sanity who insisted that they could push a table across the room simply by willing it, or convince someone that these really weren't the droids they were looking for merely by waving their hands around and wearing a brown homespun robe. Among the groups investigating were the Order of Dai Bendu, as well as the Chatos Academy and a group on Tython who worshipped this power as the Ashla, the positive energy of the universe. Little is known of these groups other than their names. Some of these force-manipulating mystics would revel in their discoveries and live out their lives without passing on their knowledge, others would seek to use their knowledge to obtain riches or power. Still others used it to become respected village shaman, priests of their religions, or leaders of their people. This last group would take on apprentices and teach others how to be aware of this energy force, and how to tap into it and use it for their own purposes. Their knowledge was passed on and incorporated into their culture and religions, where it became encoded into mythologies and cultural behavior.
Students of the Force
More than 25,000 years before the first Death Star was destroyed; sentients perfected the hyperdrive engine. With this technological wonder, the galaxy became a much smaller place. Travel that once took centuries could now be accomplished in a matter of weeks, days, or even hours. As the physical borders disappeared, cultures clashed. Some were destroyed or assimilated, some forged uneasy alliances with each other and exchanged information. The worlds in the galactic community that were aware of the enigmatic mystical power realized for the first time that they were not alone. So the best and brightest philosophers, scholars, priests, and warriors from dozens of worlds congregated for the first time and collectively started "comparing notes" on what they'd learned. Many were excited to discover common findings about a strange energy that came to be called "The Force." The shared beliefs around the Force were one of the few things that gave the various cultures reason to talk peace. Different skills derived from the manipulation of the Force began to spread throughout the force manipulating community.
Through study, meditation, communion, debate, and experimentation, the first coherent theories about the Force developed. Scientific, religious and philosophical groups documented living and unifying aspects of the Force and opened other, less defined attributes to theory and speculation. The part of the Force dedicated to knowledge and defense came to be considered the light side of the omnipresent energy field. The aggressive, jealous, covetous aspects of the Force were labeled aspects of the dark side. At some point, the groups gathered on one planet to create a new society dedicated to the study of the Force. The society came to be called the Jedi, although who named them and exactly what the significance of this name is remains unclear. The identity of the world where this happened has been lost to the mists of time; candidates include Coruscant, Corellia, Ossus, Utapau, and even lost worlds such as and Ondos.
The most dedicated students (and those strongest in the Force) formed the basis of the Jedi, and it wasn't long before they began to develop the techniques necessary to draw upon the Force and manipulate its energy. Through the Force, the Jedi learned to see faraway places without the need for scanners or macrobinoculars. They uncovered methods that allowed them to move objects with only the Force and their own strength of will. They learned to influence the thoughts of others, and to let the Force add speed and power to everything they did.
Eventually the hyperspace lanes allowed multiple star systems to form the Galactic Republic, a democratic union uniting a vast number of diverse species. As centuries passed, a natural evolution took place within the ranks of the Jedi. In studying the Force and expanding their ability to access it, the Jedi learned they could affect the minds of others and even heal injuries caused by mishap or conflict. As a society dedicated to research and study, the Jedi found it in their best interest to promote peace, using their abilities to encourage the growth of civilization. In time, the Jedi evolved from advocates of civilization to defenders of it. Their society took a more active role in protecting peace and justice. When armies of tyranny, such as the Legions of Lettow, tried to carve empires of fear and hatred from the civilized systems of the galaxy, the Jedi opposed them. The Jedi were far less organized than they would later become, but the heart of the Jedi Order remained unchanged for the next thousand generations. Thanks to the Order's efforts, the Republic expanded and prospered.
However, no group as powerful as the Jedi can ever exist without suffering temptation. Despite the best intentions of the Jedi instructors, some of those who were taught the way of the Force were not worthy of the trust they had been given. A few simply succumbed to the temptations of quick and easy power the dark side offered. These so-called Dark Jedi, fallen Jedi, and rogue Jedi formed their own Force traditions and eventually came into conflict with their parent Order. During this earliest era, a group of Dark Jedi rose to challenge the Jedi Order. The Dark Jedi were driven from the Republic after a century of battle, eventually resettling on an uncharted world already occupied by a species known as the Sith.
Guardians of peace and justice
It took thousands of years for the Force to become a widely recognized and accepted phenomenon. The Jedi realized that they not only wielded a limitless source of energy, but they also held a social responsibility to wield it in the service of civilization - and to ensure that this power was never abused. Although they suffered their share of setbacks, in time, they became the Republic's first lines of defense against entities that sought to tear it apart.
This era marks the expansionist age of the Old Republic. Explorers were still mapping new hyperspace lanes and encountering new species. Colonies became commonplace. The Core Worlds were settled and exploration began pushing into the Inner Rim and Expansion regions of space. During this time, the Jedi Knights became the accepted peacekeepers of the galaxy. Individual Jedi Masters ran schools where they took in students they deemed worthy and taught with whatever methods they had found most effective. The Jedi Order was a loose collection of equals tied together by a sense of respect and camaraderie among different Jedi Masters.
These bonds between Jedi were matters of honor and tradition, not law. A fully trained Jedi Knight was free to travel whatever path he chose. Not even the most respected Jedi Master would consider refusing to allow a Jedi to undertake a course of action he was set on, even if the Master foresaw catastrophe at the end of the path. Similarly, the governments of the Republic were free to ask individual Jedi for aid. Such requests were usually honored, but no law bound the Jedi to the Republic's service. Despite the formal nature of this system, the Jedi and the Republic successfully overcame countless minor threats, working together to unify and protect the galactic government.
Unknown to the Jedi, the ousted members of their Order had fled to live among the Sith. They insinuated themselves into Sith society and developed their own powerful traditions in the Force, practices steeped in the hatred and anger of the dark side. When a pair of Republic hyperspace mappers arrived in Sith space, the malevolent Sith Empire saw an opportunity for great conquest and expansion. Naga Sadow, Dark Lord of the Sith, followed explorers back into Republic space and ignited the Great Hyperspace War.
The Republic was ill prepared for the massive assault of the Sith, and it was first unable to stem the tide of the Sith invasion. Dozens of Jedi soon flocked to the defense of Republic worlds, managing to win victories at Primus Goluud and Kirrek. The most vicious fighting occurred on Coruscant itself, where the Sith's Massassi troops came close to overwhelming the Republic forces of Empress Teta and her Jedi advisor, Memit Nadill. The valiant sacrifice of Jedi Master Ooroo turned the tide of the battle. As a Celegian, Ooroo was dependent on a life pod flooded with deadly cyanogen gas. When he broke open his life pod in the midst of the Sith army, the oxygen atmosphere killed Ooroo, but the dense cyanogen gas of his life pod wiped out the Massassi troops. Following that victory, Republic ships followed the defeated Sith fleet back to the Sith Empire. With a barrage from the Republic starships, the Republic ended the Sith threat - at least for a time.
Though the Republic was victorious, the conflict had not been without cost. Many Jedi turned away from their previous role of warriors, seeking peaceful ways to aid and protect the Republic. Jedi Master Odan-Urr, having lost his own Master in the fighting at Coruscant, built a great library and center of Jedi learning on Ossus. There he taught his interpretation of the Jedi Code, encouraging Jedi to seek nonviolent solutions to problems wherever possible. Odan-Urr believed that any emotion, even positive emotions such as love and loyalty, could blind a Jedi to the true will of the Force. His teachings would influence how Jedi acted and received instructions for eons to come.
The growing shadows
As the Republic recovered from its terrible war with the Sith Empire, the Jedi began to deal with the repercussions of the existence of a group as devoted to the dark side as they were to the light. Though the Sith were defeated, the call of the dark side had not diminished. The Sith left behind treasure troves of scrolls and artifacts seething with the knowledge and power of the dark side of the Force. Jedi Knights who studied such relics were tempted to explore the dark side's mysteries. Those who fell to temptation would later use the weapons and teachings of the Sith against the Republic, their former Jedi brethren, and even the Jedi Masters who had instructed them.
The role of the Jedi Order within the Republic continually developed as new traditions grew. A group of trusted Jedi Masters gathered regularly in a Jedi Assembly, discussing the state of the galaxy and ways the Jedi could improve it. In many ways, the formation of the Assembly was a reaction to the discovery that the new Sith society had its roots in the Jedi Order. Jedi hoped that the Assembly would not only keep track of renegade Jedi but also oppose any further splinter groups that sought out the dark side of the Force. To maintain vigilance throughout the galaxy, the Jedi Assembly encouraged Jedi Masters to accept stewardship over new systems, thereby maintaining a Jedi presence in all civilized areas.
One such Jedi Master was Arca Jeth, who accepted stewardship over the Onderon system. He initially sent his three apprentices to keep peace in the system, but Queen Amanoa soon overpowered them. Amanoa had learned Sith secrets from a dark side spirit named Freedon Nadd, the instigator of the Naddist movement. Master Arca traveled to Onderon to defeat Queen Amanoa personally, but he could not end Freedon Nadd's powerful influence. For two years following Amanoa's defeat, a shadow sat over Onderon. To end the darkness, Master Jeth decided to move the sarcophagus containing Freedon Nadd's remains to Onderon's moon, Dxun. The spirit of Freedon Nadd later guided a Nadd cultist, King Ommin, to attack Master Arca and recover the sarcophagus. To stop Ommin, a fleet of Republic ships and Jedi moved en masse to Onderon.
The spirit of Freedon Nadd realized that King Ommin would fall to the Jedi, so he switched his support to a group of bored aristocrats who had found a few ancient Sith artifacts. Calling themselves the Krath, the aristocrats were easily manipulated into believing they were great Sith sorcerers. Although the Jedi successfully moved Nadd's remains to Dxun, the Sith spirit had a strong enough connection to the Krath to continue influencing the galaxy.
Even as the Jedi restored order to Onderon, another Jedi named Exar Kun began to feel the first seductive touch of the dark side. A student of the famous Vodo-Siosk Baas, Kun had not entirely conquered his pride. It still surfaced repeatedly - invariably bringing anger with it. Rejecting Master Vodo's instructions as too slow and too limited, Exar Kun declared himself a Jedi Knight and went in search of ancient Sith lore. In his pride, he believed that he would be able to resist the pull of the dark side. He was wrong. The dark side consumed him.
Shortly thereafter, four Jedi - Ulic and Cay Qel-Droma, Nomi Sunrider and Tott Doneeta - wrestled with the emergence of a new dark side cult founded by Aleema and Satal Keto, the spoiled children of the ruling family in the Empress Teta star system. In their boredom, Aleema and Satal had begun researching the mysteries of the dark side. Their quest for knowledge had introduced them to King Ommin shortly before his defeat. Ommin gave them Sith tomes and relics, and the Ketos took these treasures with them back to their homeworld to overthrow their parents and wage war on other systems. Nomi, Tott and the Qel-Droma brothers were assigned to stop them.
The darksiders launched a counterattack aimed at a convocation of Jedi on the planet Deneba. Reprogrammed noncombat droids armed with weapons attacked the Jedi, providing a diversion while hundreds of war droids touched down in landing pods. Dozens of Jedi were killed, including Master Arca Jeth. Gripped by despair, Ulic Qel-Droma executed his plan of infiltrating the darksiders to defeat them from within. Infected by Sith poison, Ulic instead became one of them - though he still clung to the belief that he could walk away from the dark side when he was ready to do so.
As Ulic fell to corruption, Exar Kun delved deeper into the mysteries of the Sith. With the air of the dark side spirit Freedon Nadd, Kun located a storehouse of Sith treasures on the fourth moon of Yavin. He quickly used them to make himself powerful in the dark side. Sensing the presence of more Sith acolytes on Cinnagar, the capital of the Empress Teta system, Kun brought a small army of alchemically altered Massassi slaves to eliminate the competition. While Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma battled, spirits of ancient Sith Lords observed the contest. The Sith spirits saw the battle would ultimately end with both men dead; therefore, it would be of no use to the Sith if the fight continued. They immediately stopped the battle and declared that Kun and Qel-Droma would be the new Dark Lords of the Sith. Together, they would establish a new Sith Empire.
With their power united, Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma waged war on the Republic. Kun turned twenty Jedi Knights to the dark side, while Ulic raised armies and stole hundreds of ships from the Republic. He attacked Coruscant itself, but was soon captured. Exar Kun liberated his ally before slaying his old Master, Vodo-Siosk Baas, on the floor of the Republic Senate chamber. Encouraged by this success in the very heart of the Republic, Exar Kun sent his Dark Jedi converts to attack their former Masters, with terrible results.
By this time, Aleema Keto had become one of Exar Kun's lieutenants. Her cousin, Satal, had died at Cay Qel-Droma's hands. Girding herself for war, she used ancient Sith technology to augment her dark powers, wrenching the core out of a star in the Cron Cluster and dropping it in the midst of a Jedi battle group pursuing her. In an instant, the resulting supernova incinerated many Jedi Knights, including Qrrrl Toq, Dace Diath and Shoaneb Culu.
The world of Ossus, the location of the Jedi Order's great library, was threatened by the blast. Even as the Jedi hurried to rescue several millennia worth of artifacts and documents, Kun and Ulic launched their attack; intent on claiming those treasures themselves. In the fray, Ulic Qel-Droma fought his own brother, Cay - and slaughtered him. In his grief over this act of treachery, Ulic offered no resistance when Nomi Sunrider used her Jedi powers to block his access to the Force. It was a fitting punishment for someone who had used the dark side to ravage half the galaxy.
No longer connected to the Force, Ulic Qel-Droma offered to lead the assembled Jedi army to Exar Kun's headquarters on Yavin 4. Kun escaped their wrath by using his Sith alchemical machines to convert his being to pure spirit, even as the Jedi generated a wall of Force energy to cleanse the dark side presence from the gas giant's moon. Once again, the Sith threat had been stopped and the Republic would have peace.
Ulic Qel-Droma had no peace. Wherever he went, he was reminded of all that he had done and all that he had lost. He wandered the galaxy, searching for a place where he could live out his days in isolation. Ten years after losing his Force powers, he settled on the world of Rhen Var, a planet just emerging from an ice age. There, he hoped to live in peace. Meanwhile, Vima Sunrider, daughter of Nomi Sunrider, had grown old enough to want Jedi training of her own. Her mother, now head of the Jedi Order, had no time to provide it. Vima sought out Ulic and begged him to teach her the ways of the Jedi. Even though he himself could no longer feel the Force, he eventually agreed. Under his tutelage, Vima learned much - so much so that when her mother arrived to bring her home, Vima refused to go.
While Nomi and Vima discussed her training, others arrived: the Jedi Knight Sylvar, whose mate Crado had been slain by the supernova; and Hoggon, the tramp freighter pilot who had brought Ulic to Rhen Var in the first place. Sylvar attacked Ulic, but her enemy understood better than anyone else did that Sylvar's sense of vengeance had led her down the dark path. By refusing to fight her, Ulic showed her that it was possible to return from the brink of the dark side. Sylvar relented, allowing him to live. Moments later, the smuggler Hoggon shot Ulic, hoping to make a name for himself. With his dying breath, Ulic asked Nomi to forgive him for all he had done. To Nomi's surprise, as he died, Ulic became one with the Force, proving that he had returned to the path of the light. Ulic Qel-Droma died a Jedi.
The return of the Sith
The story of Ulic Qel-Droma and Nomi Sunrider served as a shining example to the Jedi for over two millennia. Though the dark side had been dealt a crippling blow by the loss of its Dark Lord of the Sith, Exar Kun, it could never be completely eradicated. Other Jedi would eventually turn away from the light to revive the Sith way, giving rise to a new empire of darkness - one carefully hidden from the Jedi.
The Jedi Order enjoyed two thousand years of peace and growth, evolving from scattered remnants to a great power. That peace ended when a rogue Jedi Knight rejected the Jedi Code and broke away from the Order. In secret, he studied the lost Sith arts. Over time, he drew more and more Jedi students to his side. He became the new Dark Lord of the Sith, and his followers were called the Brotherhood of Darkness.
For a millennia, they stayed mostly in the shadows, battling Jedi only when the option of flight was denied to them. When the Jedi order uncovered the Brotherhood's heresies, they sent the Jedi master Hoth to capture the leader of the Sith. What started as a small exchange between Master Hoth's forces and the Dark Lords of the Sith became a full-blown war that went on for years, culminating in an all-out war on the pastoral world of Ruusan. Jedi fighting for justice died in Hoth's Army of Light, but Jedi who gave in to anger and despair lived on in the brotherhood of Darkness. The Jedi Order grew weak, not only because of a lack of Masters to train new students but also from internal squabbling over the best way to end Hoth's war. In desperation, the Jedi Order took to recruiting Force-sensitive children and sending them directly to the battlefield. It was a grim time for the Jedi.
The Sith had their own difficulties. As their leaders died in battle, several ambitious Sith warriors declared themselves the new Dark Lords of the Sith at the same time. Internal strife intensified. The sect's latest leader, Lord Kaan, declared that all the Sith's various leaders were Dark Lords, and therefore equal. Kaan hoped to avoid further infighting, but Darth Bane viciously opposed him. Lord Kaan responded by poisoning Bane - one of the last of the "legitimate" Sith Lords - in his own bid for power.
After finding a cure for the poison coursing through his body, Darth Bane returned. In revenge, he declared Kaan unworthy of his title. Rather than fighting for dominance, Bane merely advised the other Sith Lords on more effective ways to win the war against the Jedi, showing them how to combine their power to lay waste to the entire battlefield at once. Many so-called Sith Lords suspected that Bane was just using their life energies for his own ends, and thus rejected his advice.
Lord Kaan sensed the scope of Bane's strategy. Kaan had been driven mad by his greater glimpse of the dark side's true power. He declared that the Sith would use what Bane had taught them to unleash an energy wave empowered by the Force: a "thought bomb". The tactic was horrifically effective. Thousands of Jedi and Sith died in moments. Only a handful escaped. Darth Bane was among them.
Bane found a young girl named on the battlefield. She was untrained in the ways of the Force but possesses great Force potential. Bane took her, as his apprentice, beginning a new Sith tradition--there would never again be more than two Sith Lords at a time, a master and an apprentice. As the next thousand years unfolded, the Sith codified their teachings, meditated on the dark side, and planned in isolation ways to once again strike at their hated enemies, the Jedi.
The rise of the Empire
The Jedi rebuilt their order after the Battle of Ruusan, incorporating the lessons they had learned from their latest conflict with the dark side. To convince the Galactic Republic that they would not become a conquering army, the Jedi Knights abandoned their battle armor, renounced all military ranks, disbanded their armies and placed themselves under the supervision of the Republic's Judicial Department, under the office of the Supreme Chancellor. No longer would they spread their training centers across the galaxy. When academies were isolated, Jedi who began exploring the dark side could proceed unnoticed and undisturbed. Instead, the Jedi Order built a temple on Coruscant, the center of the civilized galaxy. To remove the danger of unsupervised students delving into forbidden Sith knowledge, it became a place where all young Jedi could train and learn under the watchful eye of their Masters. In order to further lessen the chance of a Sith resurgence, the Jedi redoubled their efforts to find youngsters strong in the Force. Masters insisted that students begin their training before they could become too wrapped up in the material world, with all its temptations and strong emotions. The Jedi Order would not allow one of their own to resurrect the Sith Empire again.
The Jedi never guessed, however, that the Sith had never gone. They had merely slipped into the shadows. Ironically, the Republic's victories over threats throughout the galaxy ultimately led to its own destruction. As it became increasingly clear no opponent could inflict serious damage on the galactic government, the Republic grew progressively stagnant. Freed from having to work to save civilization itself, elected officials fell prey to complacency, boredom, greed, and eventually corruption. Apathy and indolence created many opportunities for crime and graft. The Republic began falling apart. Internal strife, greedy politicians, a sprawling territory, and a maddening set of checks and balances made the old government weak and ineffective. Stagnation set in, laziness and complacency became the rule, and corruption gained a foothold. As the government decayed, the Sith saw a new opportunity to gain power and glory.
During the blockade of Naboo by the Trade Federation, the surviving Sith finally revealed themselves to the galaxy. Lord Darth Sidious manipulated the greedy leaders of the Trade Federation, setting in motion events that would alter the leadership of the Republic Senate and open the door for the coming Empire.
While Darth Sidious worked in secret, his apprentice, Darth Maul, emerged from the shadows to confront a pair of Jedi Knights on Naboo. The Jedi lost Qui-Gon Jinn that day, but his apprentice Obi-Wan Kenobi was able to slay Darth Maul. Two factors were set in place to affect the galaxy for years to come: Anakin Skywalker, whom Qui-Gon believed to be the Chosen One of Jedi prophesy, was discovered on Tatooine and given to Obi-Wan for training; and Senator Palpatine of Naboo was elected the Chancellor of the Republic.
Anakin Skywalker grew to manhood and became a powerful Jedi Knight under the tutelage of Obi-Wan Kenobi. As time passed, a series of threats to the Republic further weakened that ancient and sickly institution. The Clone Wars were the culmination of these threats; eventually sweeping the Republic into a terrible conflagration as thousands of solar systems under the leadership of former Jedi turned Sith Count Dooku seceded from the Republic. Many Jedi died during this conflict, as the most powerful Jedi Knights became generals of the clone armies. Towards the end of the Clone War, Anakin slew Count Dooku during the Battle of Coruscant. Shortly afterwards Palpatine revealed himself as Darth Sidious to Anakin and the young Jedi Knight embraced the dark side, becoming the infamous Darth Vader. After a violent duel, Obi-Wan Kenobi left Anakin severely burned and dismembered on the lava planet of Mustafar, but Palpatine revived Anakin, placing him in a black cybernetic life-support suit. With Darth Vader beside him, Palpatine unveiled his New Order to the galaxy. Strength would replace frailty. Order would replace chaos. Decisiveness would replace indecision. The public craved leadership, and Emperor Palpatine provided it. The Galactic Empire was born.
After the Empire gained control, Palpatine instituted his New Order, which had no room for the independent Jedi. The Empire undertook a Jedi Purge; a massive campaign of genocide designed to destroy every last Jedi aside from Vader.
The Emperor came close to wiping out all memory of the Jedi Order. Within two decades, the Jedi were considered little more than a myth by most of the Empire's citizens. The farther people traveled from the Core Worlds, the less direct evidence of the Jedi's existence remained. Fewer citizens had any direct memory of the Jedi Purge - or at the very least, they preferred not to contemplate such atrocities. In the Outer Rim Territories, the Jedi were remembered as tragic figures that had fallen victim to the same greed and apathy that had infected the Republic. Those few that remembered the height of the Jedi Order recalled an image of an age now gone forever.
The Emperor's purge was not completely successful. A handful of Jedi survived to pass on their knowledge. A few, such as Master Yoda and Obi-Wan Kenobi, went into hiding on backwater worlds with little imperial presence. Others, such as Callista and Master Ikrit, were already hidden away; dealing with problems that predated the coming of the Empire.
As years passed, the Empire became increasingly tyrannical. While life was more or less the same in the Core, the worlds and systems farther out were subjugated and exploited for the greater good of the Empire. The Emperor remade the galaxy according to his own desires. Non-human species were persecuted and enslaved. The Empire restricted communications and travel. The Imperial military expanded and grew powerful. All the while, various leaders in the Senate attempted to work against the Emperor using laws and debate. They found their laws easily repealed, and the more vocal opponents of the New Order were silenced. A Rebellion against the New Order began. It was unorganized at first, but eventually the leaders who opposed the Emperor stepped forward to join the Rebellion. Separate groups became one group, agitated crowds became armies, and the Alliance to Restore the Republic came into being.
Shortly after the Rebel Alliance won its first victory against the Empire, its leaders remembered the Jedi. Bail Organa of Alderaan sent a plea for aid to Obi-Wan, hoping to bring the old general out of seclusion. Kenobi received Organa's request on Tatooine, where he enlisted the aid of young Luke Skywalker to travel to Alderaan. Obi-Wan had been keeping a careful watch on Luke Skywalker, though from a distance, for he knew that Luke was the son of Anakin Skywalker. Since Anakin's transformation to Darth Vader, Luke represented the best hope for the Jedi's restoration. Obi-Wan began Luke's training in the ways of the Force, revealing to him that Luke's father had been a powerful Jedi killed by Darth Vader. Obi-Wan was killed before Luke's training could cover more than the most basic lessons. Even this small beginning was of critical importance, since it allowed Skywalker to call upon the Force to aid him in destroying the first Death Star, a terrible battle station that had shattered the planet of Alderaan. The story of Luke Skywalker became the story of the last of the Jedi.
After Luke joined the Rebellion, he spent years trying to expand his understanding of the Force. The spirit of Kenobi visited him and instructed him to go to the planet Dagobah. There, he would receive training from Yoda, a Jedi Master. Luke complied, and under Yoda's tutelage, he began to develop into a full Jedi. Before his training could be completed, however, Darth Vader captured Luke's friends. Through torture, he caused them enough pain that Luke could sense their suffering through the Force. Though Yoda warned Luke that he was not ready, Skywalker left Dagobah to confront Vader.
During the battle that followed, Vader soundly defeated Luke, severing his right hand at the wrist. Vader then revealed that he was Luke's father. He invited Luke to join him in defeating the Emperor and ruling the galaxy as father and son. Rather than falling to darkness, Luke flung himself to certain doom, only to be saved by the Force and rescued by the very friends he had come to save. Though Vader called out to his son through the Force, Luke's friends took him to safety before he could face further temptation.
Luke returned to Dagobah to confront Yoda about the truth of Vader's claim. Yoda admitted that Vader was Luke's father, but explained that Luke simply hadn't been ready to face the truth. Furthermore, Yoda said there was nothing more he could teach Luke, Skywalker could only become a true Jedi after he faced Darth Vader. Yoda then passed from the mortal world, becoming one with the Force.
Luke was not left without guidance, though. The spirit of Obi-Wan returned once more to help Luke struggle with all he had learned. Luke's perceptions in the Force revealed to him that he had a sister, Leia Organa, and that she too was strong in the Force. Luke was also certain that there was good within his father, and that Vader could be redeemed. Though Obi-Wan warned him against it, Luke set out to reclaim his father from the dark side.
After hard-fought years, the Alliance made a final stand against the Empire at Endor. While the Alliance forces battled their way out of a trap set by Emperor Palpatine, a fully trained Luke Skywalker confronted Darth Vader and his master, Emperor Palpatine, aboard the second Death Star. Palpatine tempted young Skywalker with the powers of the dark side, hoping to turn him as he had turned his father.
In a final confrontation in the Emperor's throne room, Vader and Luke faced off in a terrible battle of lightsabers and Force skill. Luke balked from striking down a man he hoped to bring back to the light, but Vader preyed upon the young Jedi's emotions. To force Luke to fight, Vader suggested that if Luke would not turn to the dark side, perhaps Leia would. Enraged, Luke drew upon his anger to overcome his father and severed Vader's mechanical right hand. The Emperor applauded Luke and encouraged him to destroy his father. He could then take Vader's place by the Emperor's side.
The future of the Jedi and the galaxy rested on the decision Luke made in that one moment. If he turned to darkness, there would be little chance for the Jedi ever to return to their place as guardians of peace and justice in the galaxy. Witnessing Vader's severed hand, and seeing that his anger had led him to inflict that injury - just as Vader had previously injured him - Luke stepped back from the brink of destruction. He refused to kill his helpless father and tossed away his lightsaber.
In that moment, Luke Skywalker became a true Jedi. Furious, the Emperor struck Luke down with bolts of Force lightning, against which Luke was defenseless. Vader, mortally injured and barely able to move, found within himself a new source of vitality. Vader hauled himself up and grabbed the Emperor, flinging his former Master into the depths of a reactor shaft, causing Vader to suffer further damage from a backlash of Force lightning. Though the injuries Vader sustained were beyond healing, this last act redeemed him, as his son had hoped. For a brief moment Luke and Anakin Skywalker were together as father and son. Anakin died a Jedi and became one with the Force. Without the Emperor to lead them, the Imperial forces were eventually routed by the Alliance. And the galaxy emerged from the shroud of the dark side. Balance was once again restored, just as an ancient Jedi prophecy had foretold.
Not only did the Empire come close to wiping out the Jedi Knights; it destroyed and changed thousands of historical documents from the Old Republic. Imperials looted ancient archives of Jedi lore, burned libraries, and imprisoned or killed scholars. Scant knowledge about the Jedi and their origins remained - it was gleaned from information Master Yoda imparted to Luke Skywalker and supplemented by a few documents gathered by various members of his Jedi academy. Compared to the voluminous information freely available at the height of the Old Republic, this was a scant resource indeed. The once-rich traditions of the Jedi took a serious blow from the Empire. They would have to be rebuilt and reconstructed.
A tradition restored
After the death of the Emperor, Luke Skywalker set about the monumental task of rebuilding the Jedi Order. While the Rebel Alliance began undoing the evil works of the Empire, Luke Skywalker searched the galaxy for anyone with Force potential. Sometimes he found these individuals, but in these quests, he also encountered former servants of the Emperor.
At that moment, Luke Skywalker was the last of the Jedi Knights, and the future of the Jedi in the galaxy depended on him. A hero of the Rebel Alliance, Master Skywalker had little time to work toward restoring the Jedi Order in the months and years immediately after the Emperor's death. Battles against Ssi-ruuk, Grand Admiral Thrawn, and more than one warlord claiming to be the rightful heir to the Empire devoured much of Skywalker's time and energy.
Even as he threw his every effort into supporting the struggling New Republic, the last Jedi was also considering how to best train a new generation of guardians for the galaxy. Skywalker encountered a number of Force-sensitive individuals in the next several years, including Kyle Katarn, the Witches of Dathomir, Kam Solusar, the former Imperial agent Mara Jade, and of course, the children of his sister, Leia Organa Solo. Any of these hopefuls might become supporters of a restored Jedi Order, if Skywalker could arrange to teach them. If he failed to teach his students correctly, any one of them could succumb to the temptations of the dark side.
After the New Republic dealt with the threat of Grand Admiral Thrawn and subdued the remaining Imperial forces, the New Republic began the process of consolidating its worlds into a true galactic government. Dissatisfied with serving in a military capacity, Master Skywalker spoke before the Senate, asking permission to seek out students and form a school to train new Jedi. When Mon Mothma supported his efforts, Skywalker sought out his first new Jedi candidates: Gantoris, Streen, Tionne, Dorsk 81, Kam Solusar, Kirana Ti, Corran Horn, and Kyle Katarn. He brought these students to Yavin 4, the site of the first significant Rebel victory, and formed his Jedi academy. Set in the abandoned Rebel base that had once been a Massassi temple, it would become a place of instruction, meditation, and discovery. Soon afterwards, Kyp Durron joined the list of students.
Because he had never received an extensive Jedi education, Master Skywalker's early efforts to instruct others in the ways of the Force involved much trial and error. The errors could be deadly. The dark side spirit of Exar Kun managed to destroy Gantoris and seduce Kyp Durron, placing Master Skywalker into a coma in the process. In time, Skywalker's students grew to understand the Force well enough to confront Exar Kun. With Skywalker assisting in a spirit form, they defeated the Dark Lord, Kyp, who had stolen a ship to flee Yavin, eventually returning to continue his Jedi training.
New students continued to arrive, Cilghal, a with the rare gift of healing, joined the academy after saving Mon Mothma from a terrible virus. Master Skywalker encountered new traditions of Force-users, including the Jensaarai, an offshoot of Jedi who had integrated Sith teachings but were not given over to the dark side. Skywalker invited the Jensaarai to come train in his academy, an offer they promised to consider.
As the earliest students began to prove their worth against threats such as the Black Fleet Crisis and Admiral Daala and her Super Star Destroyer, Knight Hammer, new students petitioned Skywalker for instruction. Master Skywalker found himself unable to spend as much time at the school as he desired. He was forced to turn instruction over to Streen. His own duties brought him into contact with Mara Jade more than once over the following decade. The two developed strong feelings for one another. In time they were married, and Mara became a Jedi.
A new generation
Considering a tradition almost as old as the Battle of Ruusan, Master Yoda had believed that younger students were more easily instructed in the ways of the Jedi than older ones. Remembering this teachings, Skywalker made changes to the structure of his academy. His original students, now Jedi Knights, helped him teach younger students - including his niece and nephew, Jaina and Jacen Solo. The twins became the center of a new generation of Jedi students, and in time, a new generation of Jedi Knights. They learned about the Force at the same time they formed friendships that would last the rest of their lives. Joining them were the half-Dathomiri princess Tenel Ka and Lowbacca, the nephew of their father's Wookiee copilot and best friend, Chewbacca. Another old friend, a Coruscant street-orphan named Zekk, also had Jedi potential. He eagerly joined them at the Yavin 4 academy. Other students, such as the imperious Raynar Thul, became part of the group that came to think of themselves as the "Young Jedi Knights."
Before these promising students were truly Jedi Knights, however, their training was disrupted by the devastating invasion of the alien Yuuzhan Vong. When they helped the New Republic's fighting retreat, Jaina and Jacen's younger brother, Anakin Solo, joined them. The young heroes proved their courage and resolve, passing tests that would have daunted even the Jedi Knights of the Old Republic. Just as Luke had faced his father, the new generation of students had to face the Yuuzhan Vong before they could truly become Jedi.
The tribulations of war scattered the Young Jedi Knights, and they did not come together again until 16-year old Anakin formulated a plan to infiltrate a Yuuzhan Vong worldship. This colossal living vessel employed to transport the Yuuzhan Vong was used to develop weapons against the Jedi. Anakin intended to destroy their latest sinister creation, the Jedi-hunting voxyn. Though the mission was ultimately a success, its cost was astronomically high. Hordes of Yuuzhan Vong and packs of vicious voxyn cut down several young Jedi Knights. After all that had happened on the mission drove the normally composed Jaina Solo to fury, she began the slow, perilous descent to the dark side of the Force.
With Coruscant fallen to the Yuuzhan Vong and the New Republic in fragments, no one can foretell the future of the latest generation of Jedi.