This post is essentially a revisit of a two lore posts I wrote over a year ago: Vitiate, Valkorion and the Zakuul Empire Part 2 and Vitiate, Valkorion and the Zakuul Empire Part 1. Both of these posts contained quite a bit of speculation, some of which has been resolved with the Knights of the Fallen Empire Story but there is still quite a bit we do not know about Vitiate/Valkorion.
We now know the ‘basics’ of when, how and why Vitiate took on the identity of Valkorion and forged the Eternal Empire. We know that Vitiate, tired of the dogma of the Sith and shortly after he captured Revan, went in search of a new planet to start a new Empire. He found Zakuul, a primitive world inhabited by human’s who were incredibly superstitious people. He was able to integrate himself into their society and fulfil one of their ancient prophecies become their leader and establishing an Empire. We do not know all of the specifics of how he accomplished all of this of course but we can speculate.
While this post will primarily deal with refamiliarising us with Vitiate and his past, it will also connect clues from pre-KOTFE about Vitiate that I previously discussed with what we learnt in KOTFE. So essentially I will be going over things that happened pre-KOTFE that concern Vitiate (and Valkorion). I’ll be dealing more with Valkorion and the events of KOTET specifically in Part 2 of my Essential Lore series.
Assumed knowledge: Jedi Knight Story, Sith Warrior Story, Shadow of Revan, Rise of the Emperor (Ziost) and Knights of the Fallen Empire. Additionally, the Revan Novel and Master Gnost-Dural Holovids are recommended knowledge.
But first, let’s go over the key in-game pre-KOTFE clues and see how it all adds up with KOTFE.
In Game Clues about Vitiate’s Greater Plan’s
Here are a collection key conversation lines or codex entries in the game, clues to Vitiate’s greater plans and what we have learnt since KOTFE.
The first clue comes from the Sith Warrior story:
After Lord Scourge’s betrayal Vitiate decides that the Sith Warrior will be his new Wrath. On Quesh when Darth Baras betrays you, the Emperor’s hand show up to see if you are worthy of being the Emperor’s Wrath and decide that if the Sith Warrior survives then that that will prove their worth. One of the first things the hand says to you.
Key phrases: ‘withdrawn from the known galaxy’ and ‘great calling’?
We now know that Vitiate’s ‘great calling’ was the Eternal Empire. Whenever Vitiate retreated from the known galaxy, he was attending to matters in the Zakuul Empire.
Another clue about Vitiate comes from defeating the Emperor’s Voice (as instructed by the Emperor) on Voss as a Sith Warrior.
You receive this codex entry:
Key point: ‘conversations with this entity (the voice) as extremely disturbing; there is often the sense that the Emperor’s Voice is listening to another conversation when he or she is speaking.
I wanted to add a couple more points about the Emperor’s Voice. The Voice is a body that the Emperor inhabits via Essence Transfer. The Emperor started using a ‘Voice’ after Revan’s failed assassination attempt. Because the process of Essence Transfer is ultimately fatal to the host body, Vitiate periodically has to change bodies moving from host to host. The Emperor’s original physical body remains safe from harm in a deep slumber where he is able to control his Voice and direct his pawns throughout the galaxy.
We now know that Vitiate more or less split his ‘life force’ into two parts. The one part became Valkorion and the other part became the ‘Emperor’s Voice’. Both acted as ‘voices’ for Vitiate/Valkorion as he continued to manipulate the greater Galaxy and build up a new Empire, Zakuul. Thus he became Vitiate and Valkorion. One thing we do not know is if Valkorion inhabited multiple bodies like Vitiate had to. However, Valkorion visibly ages as time passes in the ‘Sacrifice’ trailer so perhaps he did?
Commander Iven on Yavin IV the mad Imperial Guard you come across says this:
Key Phrases: ‘plans within plans’ and ‘all possibilities are witnessed and adjusted for!’
This possibly refers to Revan and the link the Emperor shared with him while he was captive in Maelstrom Prison. He used Revan’s link to the light side of the force to see visions (more on Revan and his connection to the Emperor later). We know Vitiate is paranoid and fears death immensely. We know what great lengths he has gone through to gain immortality and ensure he can not be defeated.
He clearly used his connection to the light side to foresee events so he could plan for all outcomes. This could explain why is able to adapt when Revan escapes and when the Jedi Knight defeats him. It is likely that all the events that could occur were foreseen and accounted for.
Final clue – In your final conversation with Vitiate on Ziost, if you choose the right conversation option, he says this to you:
Key Point: ‘I have other plans now–as you will see’
Curiously enough, we also receive this codex entry after the conversation finishes:
Key Point: ‘Did he have another plan all along?’
We now know of course that his other plans involved the Zakuul Empire. But it is worth remembering what happened. Also, we must finally confront why he seemingly changes his mind about destroying the galaxy.
Being unable to gain enough power on Yavin IV to restore his full strength, he chose to go to Ziost to complete his reawakening due to how strong the planet is in the Dark Side.
Notably on both planets, he did not possess a body of his own, he existed in a completely incorporeal form. On Ziost he was able to control thousands of bodies at once. He is also able to speak without possessing a body as we witnessed on both Yavin IV and Ziost. His form has long evolved from needing a physical body for himself. But, he still needs to possess bodies so he can interact with the physical world. But after Yavin IV, he doesn’t need a physical body to perform the Ritual on Ziost.
So, we can speculate that when Vitiate’s life force was damaged by the Jedi Knight, his rituals on Yavin IV and Ziost were used as a step to making his whole life force truly immortal so that he would no longer need assistance from his Hand or his ‘crude vessels’. Then when the Outlander or Arcann kill Valkorion, he able to fully ascend into immortality.
In KOTFE, we see that Valkorion is able to interact with the physical realm primarily through using the Outlander as a conduit. He is able to both aide and cause physical harm to the Outlander. However, we do not know if Valkorion can use his power to possess other bodies or have any effect on the physical realm, without the Outlander, after his full ascension to immortality (when he is killed by the Outlander or Arcann). Whether or not you choose to allow Valkorion to grant you some of his ‘power’ you still get it and that’s what enables us to see and interact with Valkorion while no one else can. While Arcann was present when Valkorion ascends to immortality, Valkorion does not ‘gift’ him with any of his power. When Valkorion dies by the Outlander’s hand we see Valkorion’s essence radiate from his body. Some of his life force clings onto the Outlander but ignores Arcann completely.
This is why Valkorion needs the Outlander. The Outlander is, I believe, Valkorion’s only conduit to the ‘physical realm’ since his ascension to true immortality. When I say Vitiate/Valkorion reached true immortality, I simply mean that he no longer needed a physical body/bodies to possess.
So why did he change his mind about destroying the galaxy?
Up until the Rise of the Emperor (Ziost) story, we were lead to believe that the Emperor’s plan all along was to consume all life in the galaxy. Chapter 3 of the Jedi Knight story is about stopping the Emperor from wiping out all life in the galaxy. The codex entries you get (depending on faction) after defeating Revan and encountering the Emperor’s incorporeal essence on Yavin IV attest to this.
Yet, after Ziost, it seems this is no longer the case. The leadership of both factions, by the end of Rishi, are aware and understand what Vitiate wanted all along (apparently). When you fail to stop him on Yavin IV everyone essentially panics but doesn’t give up hope. Then things only get worse after Ziost.
On Ziost he succeeded where his servants had failed on Belsavis, Voss and Corellia. He created an ‘Armageddon’ event that consumed all life on the planet giving himself immense power. To do what exactly? As we all noticed, only all life on Ziost was wiped out, the rest of the galaxy remained unscathed. We thought it was to destroy the galaxy to attain true immortality. But, he realises that he doesn’t need to destroy all life in the galaxy anymore to achieve immortality, he achieved his goal by destroying Ziost only.
Valkorion has indeed changed and no longer wishes to destroy the galaxy because he doesn’t need to. He has found another way to reach true immortality without consuming the entire galaxy, so he no longer needs to destroy it. Destroying the galaxy was only one of many plans he came up with for gaining true immortality.
See how it’s all coming together?
Vitiate’s defeats and Vitiate/Valkorion’s weakened states
We know that both Vitiate’s imprisonment by Darth Baras and his defeat by the Jedi Knight had an impact on Valkorion as well. For instance, we know he was no longer able to keep a hold of Vaylin’s mind and control her and she became aware of her full capabilities. We know that what happens to Vitiate affected Valkorion but yet it did not compromise the existence of the Zakuul Empire.
As we saw in the Jedi Consular story and with Kira Carson (Jedi Knight companion) the Children of the Emperor were able to act independently and go about their lives. But they still acted as Vitiate’s eyes and ears in the Republic and more than likely the Empire. He could also take control of them at will as we saw with Kira at the end of Chapter 1 of the Jedi Knight story. The children are unaware that there is someone tapping into their every move until they get possessed. They are able to go about their lives independently.
Remember after Vitiate’s defeat by the Jedi Knight at the end of Chapter 3, some of the Emperor’s Children are still able to hear him inside their heads. Some were driven mad by the voices while others were able to block them out. Suri, a friend of Kira Carson’s from her childhood on Korriban, is driven mad by Vitiate’s ramblings and asks for aid in making the voices stop. She speaks of hearing rambling, incoherent voices.
This is more evidence of Vitiate’s weakened state after his confrontation with the Jedi Knight. His mind likely is fragmented as he struggles to control and keep up with all the minds he controlled. It is conceivable that the connections remained but he could no longer process them all and in turn cannot hide his thoughts from those whose minds were touched by him. But it was only Vitiate’s life force that was fragmented, not Valkorion’s. That is why the Children would not have been aware of the Zakuul Empire’s existence.
With this knowledge in mind, let’s move onto Revan.
Revan – How much did he know and how did his actions play into Vitiate’s plans?
I wanted to briefly touch on Revan. Those of you who’ve read the Revan novel will know of the events leading to Revan’s capture by The Emperor. Revan believed that with aide, he could defeat Vitiate. He feared the Emperor’s incredible power and what could befall the galaxy if he was allowed to live. But, he underestimated his power. As we know, he fails and is imprisoned.
There are a series of flashpoints, with a connected story arc, you can complete in SWTOR which concerns Revan and it’s essentially the next chapter in his story. Chronologically the story starts on Republic side (Taral V and Maelstrom Prison) then Imperial side (Boarding Party and The Foundry).
In the story arc, you rescue Revan from the Emperor’s control. Then on the Imperial side you defeat him and stop him from building up a massive army to wipe out the Sith Empire.
What I want to focus on, however, is the connection Revan had with the Emperor. While he was imprisoned, Revan’s mind was linked to the Emperor’s. The Emperor drew strength from Revan and was able to see visions through Revan’s connection to the Light Side of the force. But Revan was able to get a glimpse into the Emperor’s mind. He apparently convinced the Emperor that peace was an option. He claims to have seen what he plans would do to the galaxy.
Revan knew of the Emperor’s backup plan he had should his ‘Voice’ be defeated. As we know the Jedi Knight defeats the Emperor’s Voice and Vitiate’s essence flees to Yavin IV to rest and wait as Vitiate had planned all along. Revan ultimately plays into Vitiate’s hands by leading the Republic and Empire to Yavin IV. The death and destruction caused by the conflict between the Revanites and the Coalition forces was enough, as we witnessed, for him to awaken and flee before anything could be done to stop him.
Revan was nothing more than a pawn in Vitiate’s plans. He was used by Vitiate in multiple ways to advance his plans. Yes, Revan was able to enter Vitiate’s mind and influence him to stop the war between the Republic and Empire and sign the Treaty of Coruscant. But, this ultimately plays into Vitiate’s plans as he’s considered multiple outcomes and scenarios.
Since KOTFE, another thing to consider is did Revan know about Valkorion or the Zakuul Empire? I personally believe that he didn’t. Why? Remember Vitiate and Valkorion, while connected, existed somewhat separately. It is likely that Revan while imprisoned by the Emperor only interacted with Vitiate and not Valkorion as Vitiate was the main one using Revan’s mind. So naturally, Revan only looked into Vitiate’s mind and did not delve any further. This is quite speculative but it does offer a plausible explanation.
Now that we have put all the pieces together, let’s remind ourselves of Vitiate’s past.
Vitiate’s Childhood and Rise to Power
Here are some key descriptors of Vitiate, from the Revan Novel, relating to his childhood and rise to power. As a child, he was known as Tenebras:
They say he was born with eyes as black as the void of empty space, and that he never cried, even as an infant. No animal would come near him…his voice carried a weight and power that should not come from a child.
He showed signs of force sensitivity at the age of six and quickly learnt to feed upon hate and anger to call upon the dark side of the force. He killed his step-father and mother.
Tenebrae…feeding on his father’s anger and hate to call upon the dark side. He snapped his father’s neck with a mere thought, killing him instantly…Tenebrae made her (his mother) suffer for months.. torturing her with the force as he honed his powers.
After finally killing his mother, he made his village and others bow down to him. Those who refused were tortured publicly for days and executed.
Thousands died…to feed his insatiable appetite for suffering, tortured for days in public executions so he could
His biological father, Lord Dramath, heard rumours about Tenebrae and his rising power but he considered it to be beneath him. Eventually, he decided to go see for himself the boy’s power.
When they met face-to-face, Tenebrae proved the stronger…he stripped his father of his power and his mind.
Tenebras went on to conqueror the rest of Medriaas (Nathema). He presented himself to Marka Ragnos who recognised him as the ruler Medriaas and gave him the title, Lord Vitiate.
Key Phrases: ‘he was born with eyes as black as the void of empty space’, ‘insatiable appetite for suffering’
Incredible traits, for a child. A child to be born so devoid of ‘life’ traits. Doesn’t feel right even taking into account force sensitivity especially considering he didn’t show signs of force sensitivity until the age of 6. He was quickly able to learn to hone in and use the dark side of the force. An extraordinary feat.
Vitiate the Force Scholar
Now his rule of Nathema ensured he spent the next 100 years learning everything he could about the dark side of the force. He stayed out of the politics of the Sith Empire:
When Marka Ragnos fell, Lord Vitiate did not join in the mad rush to claim his position. He was not part of the Great Hyperspace War against the Republic. When Naga Sadow and Ludo Kreesh fought for leadership of the Sith, he took no side.
Even in the beginning he had no interest in politics. He cared only for gaining more power. He only emerged after the Sith Empire’s defeat at the hands of the Republic to take advantage of the desperation of the surviving Sith. He invited them to come to Nathema and ‘participate in a ritual to unlock the full power of the dark side’. He deceived many Sith Lord’s into answering his call under the false hope that he had found a weapon they could use to save themselves from the merciless Jedi onslaught.
Once they (the Sith Lords) had arrived on Nathema, they quickly fell under Lord Vitiate’s control. He dominated their minds, crushed their resistance. He turned them into slaves of his will, forcing them to participate in the most complex ritual of Sith sorcery ever attempted. Calling on the Dark side, Lord Vitiate devoured them. He fed on their power, absorbing it into himself, utterly obliterating all traces of his victims.
They were just the eye of the storm though. He created a vortex that spread across the whole planet consuming every living thing. Not just sentient’s but all biological matter. Leaving the planet completely stripped of life.
The Emperor had consumed everything. Life, sound, color, even the force–nothing remained.
Everything on Nathema had simply been snuffed our, extinguished so completely that it ceased to have any meaning or purpose…a blight on the natural order.
Vitiate annihilated every aspect of life yet left all lifeless elements like buildings and clothes intact.
The ritual Vitiate performed on Nathema is what gave him his immortality. We do not know all the exact nuances that went into the ritual. Except that it was a ‘complex ritual of Sith sorcery’.
It is possible however that the Ziost event was different from the Nathema event despite a practically identical outcome. We know Vitiate took control of Sith and Imperial Troops to kill civilians and feed off of their deaths and suffering. When he had gained enough power, he summoned a wave that swept over the planet annihilating all ‘life’. Ziost, as we saw, was a barren husk when he was finished. Perhaps this is how he conducted his ritual on Nathema? But I believe that there would’ve been more to it then what happen on Ziost. Afterall, Vitiate does remind us that he has already ‘cheated death’.
Vitiate is undoubtedly an incredibly powerful being. He is without emotion. His only weakness is his extreme fear of death. He is willing to anything necessary to prolong his life and to ensure his continued survival. At least that’s how he seemed when the Jedi Knight confronted him.
Jedi Knight vs. The Emperor
The Emperor’s dialogue with the Jedi Knight is actually quite enlightening considering all that has happened since.
Vitiate foreshadows that their confrontation is significant and could change the flow of the future which it seemingly does. He has the patience to wait for his ascendance even if it means following a different plan. He admits that if he is to die then everyone will die with him. Part of the Jedi Knight’s mission if they so choose is to ‘redeem’ the Emperor which is of course an absurd notion. Little do we know at this point that he has already gotten a taste of the light side and has a more balanced view of the force.
Here are some more clues in the game that loosely relate to Vitiate or Valkorion but add to the overall story. Curiously enough, both the Sith Inquisitor and Jedi Consular class stories have some tantalising clues about the future story. (I apologise for quality of some of these images).
Sith Inquisitor Rishi Class Story
The premise of the Inquisitor Class Story involves communicating with the supposed inhabitants of the Rishi Maze. Lord Veijel has spent most of his life observing the ‘dark stars’ of the Rishi Maze.
So you are tasked with examining the machines and seeing if you can communicate with the aliens in the Rishi Maze. This is what they say to you:
So who are these aliens? What do they mean by ‘Beware his desires’? Is this a reference to Vitiate?
It is possible that the aliens in the Rishi Maze could be the creators of SCORPIO and/or the Eternal Fleet and/or Gravestone.
Jedi Consular Rishi Class Story
In the Consular Class Story you get to make your own Holocron! The more interesting part to me though was some of things said by Master Kutri O’a and the voices you hear in the visions you have. He has a gift to see visions thousands of probable futures but:
This is inevitably foreshadowing Ziost and possibly the war between the Eternal Empire and the greater Galaxy. Although he simply could have just seen the future where Vitiate actually does wipe out all life in the galaxy to gain immortality.
As part of the Ritual to calm your mind to create your own holocron, you open your mind the force and your surroundings and hear voices from the past, present and future. A few of them are quite intriguing:
“Servant One: The Hand closes. The rejuvenation begins.” Intriguing to have a reference to the Emperor’s Hand. They are probably referring to Vitiate’s rise on Yavin IV
This is Vitiate’s voice. Curious thing for him to say. Of course we now know that he has a more balanced view of the force.
The Republic gets destroyed in the future. Could this a reference to the Zakuul invasion? Or perhaps another future conflict?
Lord Scourge’s Vision
And finally, I wanted to briefly bring this up. I’m not sure if this will ever come into the story again (although it certainly should). It should be an indicator of how Vitiate’s (and now Valkorion’s) fate will be met but I’m sure the SWTOR writers could change that around.
Shortly after acquiring him has a companion on a Jedi Knight, after he assists with your escape from the Emperor’s fortress. He tells you of the vision he has of you being the one to defeat the Emperor.
Key Points: ‘I bowed before you and took a crown from the Emperor’s head.’
Those who have read the Revan novel will know that Lord Scourge originally has this vision when he went with Revan and the Exile to attempt to destroy the Emperor (Vitiate). Seeing this vision, however, made him realise that they would not succeed in defeating the Emperor so he betrayed them. Thus ensuring his own survival so he might someday find a way to defeat the Emperor.
In a sudden moment of clarity he saw the Emperor lying defeated at the feet of a powerful Jedi…but that Jedi was neither Revan or Meetra. p. 332.
Key Point: ‘saw the Emperor lying defeated at the feet of a powerful Jedi…’
You will note that there are differences between the accounts. The in-game conversation with Lord Scourge is more detailed. The common factor for both accounts is the single powerful Jedi. As it happens the Jedi Knight is the powerful Jedi Lord Scourge sees in his vision. Funnily enough the Revan novel version sounds more like what happened at the end of Chapter 3 when the Jedi Knight does indeed defeat the Emperor (although is unaware that it is just the Emperor’s Voice).
Knowing the vital role Lord Scourge played in both the Revan novel and the Jedi Knight story, I’m really hoping that casting him aside in recent story (as we saw in SOR and RotE) is not a permanent feature of the game. He did not show up in KOTFE unfortunately but I’m still holding out hope he’ll play a role in KOTET. I’m still very disappointed by the lack of dialogue from Lord Scourge in SoR and ROTE (Ziost).
So the TLDR version? Vitiate/Valkorion had plans within plans to take into account multiple outcomes and scenarios. While he was attempting to act on his plan to destroy the galaxy to make himself truly immortal, he is defeated by the Jedi Knight so he moves onto another plan. He uses Revan to fuel a conflict on Yavin IV allowing him to attain some of his power back. He then goes to Ziost and destroys all life on the planet using the planet’s life force to ascend to true immortality (without the need of a physical body). Knowing that he is now truly immortal, Valkorion no longer needs to destroy the Galaxy. When the Outlander or Arcann kill Valkorion he latches a part of his life force onto the Outlander (whether the Outlander is cooperative or not) as the rest of his life force ascends to true immortality. Vitiate and Valkorion become one life force once again but now only exist in the realm of the Living Force (perhaps similar in a way to Yoda and Obi-Wan). He is able to manifest himself to the Outlander and interact with the physical world using the Outlander as a proxy because of the small part of his life force is residing in the Outlander.
Yes, some of that is a little conjecture based on what know. Either way, KOTET will hopefully give us more answers.
One thing to consider though is now that Valkorion is truly immortal, what does he want with the ‘physical realm’? We know he wants to see the Eternal Empire he built span eternity and wants the Outlander to deal with his errant children then rule the galaxy by sitting on the Eternal Throne. But, is there more to Valkorion’s plans? Of course, there is. Will at be bad for the Outlander? Probably. We saw in KOTFE how Valkorion’s power affects the Outlander physically and we also know that host bodies hosting Vitiate’s life force didn’t last too long. So it does not bode well. Lana is right to be concerned and she’s right, there will be a heavy cost.