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The Sith are a mysterious and dangerous lot. Their history dates back thousands of years, to before the founding of the first iteration of the Galactic Republic. They’ve survived wars, genocides, and more in-fighting than could be summed up in a series of novels. Their existence is thanks to a handful of chosen beings who guarded their secrets and continued their traditions in the shadows.
A member of the Sith during the Rule of Two, Darth Tenebrous was a calculating, scientific mathematician who passed on the dark teachings of his forebears to his padawan. But Darth Tenebrous was also a Sith, and rebuking rules and constraints is what they do best. Some traditions Darth Tenebrous passed on, and others he broke without remorse. Some philosophies he kindled and continued, others he tossed away like so much space trash.
Today, we’ll explore the unique period in Star Wars history when Darth Tenebrous was alive, his influence on the Sith that came after him, and why you should even care at all.
Behold, Darth Tenebrous.
Key Info Up Front
If you don’t feel like reading his full obituary, allow me to condense it for you:
Darth Tenebrous was the master of Darth Plageuis, who was the master of Darth Sidious, who was the master of Darth Vader. Darth Tenebrous taught Plageuis differently than Sith were traditionally taught, which led, ultimately, to Emperor Palpatine and Darth Vader.
The Bith Behind The Darkness
Rugess Nome was a wealthy, withdrawn architect of high-end starships. Rugess Nome was a name associated with luxury, opulence, and refinement. One didn’t merely admire a Rugess Nome-built ship, one worshipped it; taking in the dramatic curves and bold shapes was an experience. The smallest, simplest, most unadorned Rugess Nome ship went for more money than most beings saw in their entire lives.
And absolutely no one knew that Rugess Nome was the most powerful Sith alive at the time.
Rugess Nome was a Bith, and Bith are only known for two things: being good at math and playing sick space jazz. Alas, Nome wasn’t the best with a space saxophone. He was adept at crunching numbers, though. So while his public persona was that of an artistic architect, behind the scenes, Nome was a Dark Lord with a penchant for using Sith formulae to predict the future.
Aside from being a famous, wealthy person known the galaxy over, Nome was not a notable being. He kept to himself, interacted with few people, and focused on furthering the Great Plan set forth centuries prior by Darth Bane. He did spend some time searching for his apprentice, which isn’t an exercise in looking for a student so much as it is in looking for who you want to kill you one day. And in searching for an apprentice, Darth Tenebrous was the first Sith to break Darth Bane’s Rule of Two.
Carrying On (Some Of) The Traditions
Darth Tenebrous was unique among the Sith because he didn’t buy into their mysticism or magic. Unlike Darth Revan or Darth Nihilus, Tenebrous was a practical Sith. He saw the Force as little more than a tool to be used by the powerful who could wield it. If someone couldn’t manipulate midi-chlorians, they were weak and meant to be ruled over. If someone could influence midi-chlorians, their usefulness was dictated by their control of the Force. This way, Darth Tenebrous wasn’t one for complicated Sith rituals or beliefs. He relied on the numbers–the cold, hard data–and his raw power. Everything else was useless in the Great Plan.
One of the biggest ways Darth Tenebrous broke with Sith traditions was by secretly subverting the Rule of Two. Carried on for thousands of years, the Rule of Two was set forth by Darth Bane after the Sith Wars.
The Sith Wars was the pinnacle for Sith infighting, where every Sith in the galaxy picked a side and went to war with themselves. They completely forgot about the Jedi. And they all died because of their hubris.
After the war, Darth Bane–the sole survivor of the conflict–was the only being in the galaxy who wielded the Dark Side. All of the Dark Side energy in the universe was forced through a single conduit, and that made Darth Bane stronger than any Sith before him. But he knew he was still one man, fragile. If he died, all the Sith knowledge in the universe would be lost. So he found an apprentice and began the Rule of Two.
“Always two there are. No more, no less. A master and an apprentice. One to embody power, the other to crave it.”
In his passionate pursuit of the Great Plan, Darth Tenebrous rejected the Rule of Two. He sought out more than one apprentice, teaching them all a little something about the Dark Side. He hoped to speed up the Great Plan and set up safeties in case anything backfired. He was essentially diversifying his Sith portfolio.
Let’s explore how that plan backfired in his Bith face.
Finding And Training His Apprentices
His first and best apprentice, the being who would be Darth Plageuis, was literally created thanks to Darth Tenebrous. While searching for an apprentice, Tenebrous ran into the leader of the Intergalactic Banking Clan, a Munn named Caar Damask. Although Caar couldn’t use the Force, his blood held an unusual amount of midi-chlorians. Tenebrous found a female Munn who likewise had tons of midi-chlorians in her blood, and he influenced them both to fall in love. Tenebrous knew their offspring would be strong in the Force, and if he could reach them at a young age, he could mold them into a formidable apprentice.
Thus, Hego Damask was born. Tenebrous, revoking his public persona, approached Hego’s parents, explained his role in the Great Plan for the universe, and forcibly adopted him.
But he wasn’t the only apprentice.
Tenebrous sent Hego, Darth Plageuis, on many assassination missions during his training. And since Hego was the son of the head of the Intergalactic Banking Clan, he had some serious responsibilities with his public persona. He was in charge of mining operations, loans, banks, businesses, and secret political meetings on a remote moon called Gatherings. Plageuis and Tenebrous, though master and apprentice, spent lots of time apart to keep up their public image.
I want to note quickly that their public image was not a burden or nuisance to either of them. Rugess Nome used his status to create and maintain a network of spies embedded in the galaxy’s richest families, businesses, and planets. And Damask used his extensive political and financial ties to crush potential roadblocks to the Sith’s Great Plan.
But things were not great for the master and apprentice duo. Tenebrous, oddly enough, hated Plageuis. Plageuis failed a few assassination attempts, and even when he succeeded in killing his target, he rarely did it in the cold, emotionless way Tenebrous wanted him to. In short: they were not getting along.
So Tenebrous sought out another apprentice, and, as fate would have it, he found another Bith. Named Darth Venamis, the two Bith trained in secret. Venamis, a mathematical Bith like Tenebrous, got along swimmingly with his master. Together, the two combed the galaxy for more apprentices. Tenebrous wanted Venamis to kill Plageuis one day and take on his own apprentices. So the two searched for users of Dark Side energy and did what they could to encourage and support them, hoping to enlist them in a small Sith offensive soon.
And every so often, Tenebrous would meet up with his original apprentice, Plageuis, to see how the Munn was getting on with his dark business dealings.
His Part In The Great Plan
I’ve mentioned the Great Plan several times so far.
But what exactly is the Great Plan?
The Empire. Emperor Palpatine. Order 66. The destruction of the Jedi Order.
That’s the Great Plan.
The Sith had been planning how to take over the galactic government for hundreds of years. They never succeeded for one reason or another. But after failing several times, the Sith Lords got their crap together and formulated the best plan yet. Instead of hiring an outside enemy/threat to intimidate the Republic and the Jedi, forcing people to rely on the badass Sith to save the day, the Sith would now slowly infiltrate the Republic themselves. They’d gradually blind and suffocate the Jedi Order, playing the long game. They’d plant operatives throughout the Senate, supporting chaos and separatists in the shadows. Instead of the Sith being the ones to infight, they’d sow so much doubt and confusion in the Republic that it would be the Jedi infighting this time.
Darth Tenebrous furthered the Great Plan whenever he could. He generated doubt and paranoia among Republic planetary governments, strengthened ties between the Hutts, and even laid the foundation for what would become the Trade Federation. Tenebrous had his aforementioned spy connections, his network of adoring fans, and untold wealth. He used everything at his disposal to help destabilize the galaxy.
If it wasn’t for Tenebrous zealously furthering the plan, it probably would’ve taken several generations longer for the Sith to enact the Great Plan. But Tenebrous had his Bith mathematical formulae on his side. He knew, after crunching the numbers and running them through Sith holocrons, that he would be instrumental in the Great Plan.
And he wasn’t wrong.
The Death Of Darth Tenebrous
All Sith apprentices will kill their master. It’s the way of things. And if they don’t, they sometimes aren’t seen as true Sith.
So, do you want to guess who killed Darth Tenebrous?
It was Darth Plageuis, who’d been looking for ways to kill Tenebrous for years. The story goes something like this:
Darth Tenebrous and Plageuis head out to Bal’demnic, a planet with hostile locals and rich deposits of rare gases. Rugess Nome had received lucrative information about a series of gas pockets in a remote area of Bal’demnic. Seeing it as a training opportunity for Plageuis, Tenebrous takes his rebellious apprentice out into the wilds, searching for riches that will support their shadowy war efforts.
Unfortunately, Rugess Nome had a few business competitors at this point, and they were desperate enough to try and remove Nome from the picture. So not only did they plant fake information about gas pockets on a phony informant, but they also sabotaged Rugess Nome’s droid. When Tenebrous and Plageuis tried to enter the caves that held the rich gas pockets, they instead found highly flammable gasses right before their droid exploded, igniting those highly flammable gasses.
Tenebrous used the Force to contain the explosion and expel the gasses, but Plageuis saw this as his opportunity. Upon noticing the cave ceiling fracture, Plageuis used the Force to bring the roof down on his master.
Tenebrous, broken, bleeding, and dying, applauded Plageuis for his deception and quick thinking.
“Perhaps I was wrong to think you had no stomach for it,” Tenebrous says to Plageuis.
How weird is that? To be proud of your apprentice for killing you?
Man, Sith are weird.
But as Tenebrous was applauding Plageuis, he noticed their ship had been destroyed. When Plageuis brought the ceiling down, he also crushed his only means of escape.
Tenebrous goes insane with rage.
“You risked everything to undo me! The entire future of the Sith! My instincts about you prove correct, after all!”
“Go to your grave knowing that you are the last of the old order, the vaunted Rule of Two, and that the new order begins now and will for a thousand years remain in my control.”
Plageuis, tired of hearing his master scold him, used the Force to break his neck in a swift chop.
Darth Tenebrous, however, did not die so easily.
The Legacy Of Darth Tenebrous
Though Tenebrous didn’t buy into all the hocus pocus of Sith mysticism, he believed what he saw. And he saw plenty of Sith ghosts returning from the grave to haunt people. Tenebrous did something unheard of by any Sith or Jedi–he turned his midi-chlorians into maxi-chlorians.
Darth Tenebrous, the cold, scientific mathematician, was interested in the fusion of Sith sorcery and Bith science. He created something akin to a retrovirus and inserted his DNA and midi-chlorians into it.
I’m not getting any more technical than that because I doubt the authors understood what they were writing. A retrovirus made of Force bacteria? What?
The point is: Darth Tenebrous didn’t die when his body died. When his single lung collapsed and his brain spilled out of his broken skull, he lived on through his maxi-chlorian retrovirus. He was like a sentient cloud of bacteria. Like the flu, but evil. And he infected Darth Plageuis to see if his student would destroy or lead the Sith.
Darth Plageuis sensed Tenebrous’ presence, however, as he was also interested in the merging of science and Sith magicks. Plageuis stood over his master’s body and watched as the last of his cells died, studying what death looked like in the Force. And he knew his master wasn’t truly dead.
Because Darth Tenebrous passed on his passion for science and sorcery to Plageuis, Plageuis was obsessed with using science to influence the Force and vice versa. Darth Plageuis is called Wise because he brought what Tenebrous had been working on to fruition.
He learned how to create life with the Force. Plageuis could impregnate female beings of various species with just his Force powers. And likewise, if someone was dying, he could find a way to shove their midi-chlorians back into them and prevent death.
All of that came because his master started the process. If Tenebrous hadn’t had a master obsessed with studying and perfecting such things, Plageuis never would’ve mastered death, which never would’ve turned him into a story Palpatine used to seduce Anakin.
Everything is connected in Star Wars.
Question: Where can I read about Darth Tenebrous?
Answer: You can read what there is to learn about Darth Tenebrous in James Luceno’s novel Darth Plagueis.
Question: Who was Darth Tenebrous’ master?
Answer: They don’t actually have a name. We do know they were Twi’lek, and we do know that Tenebrous killed them when he saw his first chance. And we know they weren’t a warrior or combat-focused like Darth Talon; they were more sagacious. But who they were and how they continued the Great Plan is a complete mystery.
Question: How many apprentices did Tenebrous have?
Answer: Darth Plagueis, that’s one. Venamis, that’s two. There was a Shi’ido skinshifter, that’s three. An Iktotchi prophet, that’s four. And a Nautolan makes five.
Don’t worry, there are no loose ends. Plagueis hunted down and murdered each and every one of them.
Say Goodbye To Darth Tenebrous
Though he’s not a character we get to experience for long, Darth Tenebrous was an essential piece to the giant puzzle the Sith had been creating for thousands of years. He was an instrumental influence in a line of dominoes that eventually made the chosen one, Anakin Skywalker. And though he couldn’t foresee the future perfectly, his foresight helped steer the Sith out of planning and scheming into swift, shadowy action.
We can all cross our fingers for more adventures featuring Darth Tenebrous in the near future. As Star Wars ramps up its production of media in one form or another, the chances of a Sith-focused story increase dramatically. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll mention the oblong-headed mathlete we all fear, Darth Tenebrous.