|Order of the Sith Lords|
The Sith Order under Darth Bane was created as a result of the devastating Seventh Battle of Ruusan, which saw the annihilation of the previous Sith Order. Bane's Sith Order, known formally as the Order of the Sith Lords, was founded upon the principles of Darth Revan's holocron, where from he formed the Rule of Two, utilizing stealth tactics and treachery to achieve their means. It would be this incarnation of the Order, and its principles, that would finally triumph over the Jedi and the Galactic Republic nearly 1,000 years later.
After the Seventh Battle of Ruusan, Darth Bane, the only surviving Sith Lord, started to reform the Sith in order to ensure their continued survival. To guard against the Sith destroying themselves or losing sight of their "ideals" once again, Bane took only one apprentice, restarting the tradition of one master, one apprentice and of passing the title "Darth" to each of his successors. The new tenets of the sinister order would become cunning, stealth, subterfuge and most of all, a virtue borrowed from their worst enemy, patience.
Eventually, Bane inducted his new apprentice, giving her the name Darth Zannah, and set his new order in motion. In addition, he had his apprentice study ancient scrolls to learn Sith magic, further perpetuating the knowledge of the Sith, and ensuring that it was never truly lost, just kept within the Order. Future Sith Lords of Bane's Order were taught the virtues of patience, cunning, and secrecy, and each was to take on the title of Darth, a tradition that had dated back to before the Jedi Civil War, nearly three millennia before.
It would not be long, however, before Bane's fledgling order was rediscovered by the Jedi and (once again) thought eliminated. The Jedi discovered both the new Rule of Two and the identity of Darth Bane, but did not foresee that the new Sith he had founded would long survive Bane's death.
A group of Jedi, led by Master Valenthyne Farfalla and Johun Othone, attacked Bane and Zannah on Tython and tried to kill them. The Sith were too powerful and killed all the Jedi but Bane was severely wounded. Zannah betrayed her cousin Darovit and the healer Caleb by killing the latter and driving the other mad after calling the Jedi. They found a mad Darovit who attacked them. They killed him and believed that the Sith were once again gone.
Ten years later, Darth Bane, believing that his apprentice was too weak to continue the Sith line, searched for a way to cheat death. He started to seek the holocron of the Dark Lord Darth Andeddu which was reputated to hold the knowledge that he seeked. After taking it however, he was captured by the guards of Serra, Caleb's daughter who was seeking revenge, and tortured by drug injections.
However, Darth Zannah was not weak and she started to plot behind her master's back by taking an apprentice, Set Harth, a Dark Jedi. After learning of Bane's capture, Zannah and Harth went to search for him. In the prison on Doan, Serra's world, Zannah and Bane started their duel but were forced to stop when the prison self-destructed. The two Sith Lords escaped the world separately. Harth betrayed Zannah by stealing the holocron of Darth Andeddu, his true objective.
A while later, Bane had taken a new apprentice, Darth Cognus, and planning his revenge against Zannah and Serra. Cognus found Serra on Ambria at her father's farm and the two went there. Bane killed Serra and sent a message to Zannah to come to Ambria to kill her. Zannah arrived and the two Sith Lords confronted each other over the mantle of Sith Master. Cognus stated that she wouldn't interfere and that her loyalty would go to the victor. Bane and Zannah fought with near equal strength. Finally, Zannah used Sith sorcery to summon dark side tentacles to kill her Master. Bane dodged the tentacles for the most part, but finally got his arm hewn off by one of them, right before he was about to cut Zannah's head off. Bane then used Darth Andeddu's knowledge to keep fighting on. His body was destroyed in the process and his spirit fought Zannah's spirit for control of her body. Although Bane managed to imprint a part of himself on Zannah, he ultimately lost the battle and Zannah banished Bane's spirit into the Netherworld of the Force. When she woke, Zannah proclaimed Bane gone and herself as the new Sith Master. Cognus then bowed down to Darth Zannah, the Dark Lord of the Sith.
For 1,000 years the Sith watched and waited, doing their best to destabilize the Galactic Republic without revealing themselves. Many centuries passed. Around 188 BBY, during the Dark Jedi Conflict, Kibh Jeen told the Jedi that the Sith had survived and were operating under the Rule of Two, though his warnings were ignored or passed off as the ranting of a madman. Their presence was masked until Darth Maul, apprentice of Darth Sidious, attacked Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn.
Sometime after Bane's reformation in 1,000 BBY, Darth Millennial, an apprentice in Bane's Order, rejected firm adherence to Bane's restrictive "Rule of Two", which mandated that there could only be two Sith: a master and an apprentice, at any one time. Instead, Millennial believed in Lord Kaan's more martial philosophy of "Rule by the Strong," interpreting this to mean the strength of numbers. He abandoned his master, Darth Cognus, and disappeared to focus on Kaan's ideas, possibly hoping to establish a second Sith order based on these concepts.
Millennial settled on Dromund Kaas, the third planet in a system that had once been part of the backwater regions of the ancient Sith Empire. There he founded a new dark side religion, later called the Dark Force, which was the faith practiced by all his successors. Meanwhile, Darth Cognus, Millennial's former master, found a new apprentice, and the Sith Order continued as before—silent, and in the shadows. Many more Sith would reign in secret in the centuries that followed such as the scientist Darth Ramage, but the greatest was yet to come.
Finally, quiet times came to an end with Darth Sidious, considered by many to have been the greatest Dark Lord of the Sith in the history of the Sith Order. He started implementing the great Sith plan set down centuries in the past. Even while still an apprentice to the Muun Darth Plagueis, Sidious began training his own apprentice - a talented Zabrak named Darth Maul. Eventually, not long after the birth of Anakin Skywalker (an event Plagueis may have engineered), Sidious slew his master and proclaimed himself Sith Master. The time for revenge was near.
But the possession of an apprentice of Maul's caliber—and the promise of an apprentice even greater than he—was still not enough for Sidious. There were other loose ends, the detritus of earlier Sith cults, that needed to be addressed. More often than not, these cults were harmless, disorganized, youngsters thoughtlessly rebelling against the staid world of their parents. Many of them had no real knowledge of Sith ideology or even power in the Force. But in some cases they could be dangerous, to Sidious as well as the innocent. To ensure the success of his plans, they had to be brought to heel according to his will, or scrapped.
One of these was a Sith-centered mercenary band, the Thyrsian Sun Guard. They were not Force-sensitive, but their fighting prowess was phenomenal. They were sheathed from head to toe in black armor, and their helmets bore at least a passing resemblance to the blue-robed elite Senate Guard (whether this was deliberate or just coincidence is not known). Sidious consolidated these Sith mercenaries in the Thyrsus system, and put them to work where they could be useful. Several of them guarded his Coruscant stronghold, and as time went on, others would perform far more heinous tasks.
There were also the practitioners of the Dark Force religion, the end product of Darth Millennial's thousand year-ago heresy. A collection both of able Force-users and naïve Sith enthusiasts under the leadership of a diminutive fallen Jedi by the name of Kadann, they were not strictly Sith, but upon discovering them, Sidious could see that they had potential. The way this secret order had developed Millennial's teachings interested him. At the appropriate time, Sidious came to their stronghold on Dromund Kaas and paid Kadann a visit, claiming to be intrigued by this prophet and his unique view of the Force. After many long conversations and debates, Sidious at last revealed to Kadann his true purpose:
Kadann accepted his destiny. At Sidious's behest he assembled a small group of Dark Force devotees with particular talents for seeing portents and omens in the Force. These became the Prophets of the Dark Side, with Kadann as Supreme Prophet. By the time the New Order came to pass, Kadann would become one of the new Emperor's most trusted—and most secret—advisors.
In 52 BBY, Darth Sidious started infiltrating the Republic's government, carefully implementing the steps of a plan set down centuries in the past, preparing to address "wrongs" the galaxy at large had long since forgotten with the Invasion of Naboo in 32 BBY. Though his apprentice, Darth Maul, was slain in that battle at the hands of Jedi Padawan Obi-Wan Kenobi, the day proved an unparalleled victory for the Sith; Darth Sidious, as Senator Palpatine of Naboo, was elected to the office of Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic.
More than a decade passed, during which Palpatine manipulated the Galactic Senate into granting him more and more powers. His new apprentice, Darth Tyranus, formed the Confederacy of Independent Systems, which seceded from the Galactic Republic, thus beginning a long and bloody conflict known as the Clone Wars. During this time as the conflict progressed, the Jedi began to grow suspicious of Palpatine's expanding powers.
As the Clone Wars neared their climax, the Jedi ranks had been thinned considerably. The moment had come for the Sith to reclaim their former glory. Supreme Chancellor Palpatine—who had been revealed as Darth Sidious by Anakin Skywalker—killed four Jedi Masters who had been sent to arrest him. He then crowned himself Galactic Emperor, and replaced the ancient Republic with a "New Order"—the Galactic Empire—a galaxy-spanning dark side theocracy masquerading as a dictatorship the likes of which had not been seen for millennia, through the Declaration of a New Order.
The Great Jedi Purge began with the issuing of Order 66, in which the clone troopers received their transmission from Palpatine to kill their Jedi commanders, and attack the Jedi Temple, led by Palpatine's third and final apprentice, Darth Vader. The Purge ensured that what few Jedi remained became even fewer, until only a handful of the original ten thousand remained.
Eventually, however, the Alliance to Restore the Republic arose to overthrow the Empire two years before the Battle of Yavin. The 21-year Galactic Civil War drew many into its fold, perhaps the most notable of whom was Luke Skywalker, Vader's own son.
Shortly after Skywalker destroyed the Empire's terrifying Death Star superweapon, the Emperor and Vader became aware of the young man's identity. Both Sith Lords hoped to corrupt Luke to the dark side, but each had a different plan for the future. Vader desired to kill the Emperor and rule the galaxy with his son, but Palpatine wished to replace Vader with the boy as his fourth apprentice. Neither goal was successful; on board the second Death Star at the Battle of Endor, Luke succeeded in redeeming his father, who turned on Palpatine and killed him by throwing him down the Death Star's reactor shaft.
The return of Anakin Skywalker, formerly Darth Vader, to the light side, and the death of the Emperor, who was the last true master of Darth Bane's reformed Sith Order, brought to fruition the prophecy of the Chosen One who would "bring balance to the Force."
But even death was not the end for Palpatine. Unlike his Sith predecessors, Palpatine had never intended to be replaced by an apprentice, expecting his Empire to rule the galaxy eternally, with only himself as its true leader. At an unknown point in time prior to his death at the Battle of Endor, Palpatine had found a way to cheat death by preserving his spirit after the death of his body. He arranged for a series of clones of himself to be created for his spirit to possess, in the event that he would perish. His primary supply of clones was kept on Byss, guarded by loyal Dark Jedi and immense genetically-altered guards, and maintained by a trusted private physician.
After the destruction of the second Death Star, Palpatine's spirit was forced to journey in the maddening, bodiless existence of the void, eventually taking possession of the body of Emperor's Hand Jeng Droga. Though Droga went mad in the process, he was able to journey to Byss, where Palpatine was able to take possession of a clone of himself. There, on Byss, he would remain for years and would rebuild his strength and Empire.
Palpatine's apparent death at the Battle of Endor fragmented the Galactic Empire. Without an heir, opportunistic Moffs and other officers turned into warlords and set out to carve their own kingdoms wherever they could. This worked to the advantage of the New Republic, which succeeded in reclaiming much of the galaxy.
After Thrawn's death, the resurrected Emperor struck. Using his dark powers to create a powerful Force Storm, he swept Jedi Master Luke Skywalker to Byss. There, he revealed himself to Luke, and revealed the power of the dark side. Faced with an immortal foe, Skywalker did the unthinkable—in order to defeat the dark side from within, he knelt before Palpatine, and submitted himself as the Emperor's new Sith apprentice.
Resurrected, Palpatine planned to replace the Galactic Empire with a "Dark Empire", a universe-spanning magocracy ruled through the dark side of the Force alone, without the need for regional governors or technological domination.
Though he and his loyal Imperial forces managed to briefly retake the galactic capital of Coruscant and wreak havoc on the galaxy for a year, the resurrected Palpatine's bodies started dying—for the treacherous Sovereign Protector Carnor Jax tampered with their genetic material. Palpatine died a final death on the planet Onderon, when dying Jedi Knight Empatajayos Brand, a survivor of the Jedi Purge, bound Emperor Palpatine's departing life essence to his own, taking the spirit with him as he became one with the Force. Thus, the end of the Order of the Sith Lords.
Bane's Order died with Sidious on Onderon, though the Sith tradition continued with three separate self-proclaimed successors, each whom built their own successor-cult - Lumiya's Sith, which was founded by the former Emperor's Hand Lumiya, One Sith, which was founded by Darth Krayt, and the Lost Tribe of the Sith, which was descended from shipwrecked members of the Sith Empire. However, only Lumiya's Sith continued to use the Rule of Two.
Sith Masters were the head of the order. Only one could exist at a time, and each was suppose to have one apprentice to serve them. Notable Sith Masters include Darth Bane, Darth Plagueis, and Darth Sidious.
Sith Apprentices were Sith neophytes that were studying under the tutelage of a Sith Master. They were the intended heirs to their master, destined to kill their master when he/she was no longer of use and the apprentice's power had eclipsed theirs. Notable Sith Apprentices include Darth Maul, Darth Tyranus, and Darth Vader.