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- "So few have the resolve to do what must be done in this day and age. The Republic has bred generation after generation of weakness at every level of society. Men like you and I see what must be done to keep peace and order in the galaxy. Men willing to use any means necessary."
- ―Darth Sidious to Jedi Master Darrus Jeht, after the Battle of Kromus
The Confederacy of Independent Systems was constructing a superweapon known as the Starkiller in a drydock facility on the surface of Kromus, the fourth planet of the Kro'eval system. When intelligence of this reached the Galactic Republic, a fleet of warships was dispatched with orders to destroy the Starkiller, led by Jedi General Darrus Jeht aboard the command cruiser Maelstrom. However, two major problems stood in the way of the mission's objectives. Separatist forces were alerted to the Republic's plans, and prepared a trap for the fleet. Perhaps more seriously, Republic files had transposed the information on Kromus and Kromol, the system's fifth planet. While the Republic believed that their target lay on an uninhabited world, it was in fact in the heart of a city of two million inhabitants, on a planet with a population of 1.3 billion. Both these factors were probably caused by the machinations of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine, the head of the Republic, who was also leader of the Separatist cause in his guise as the Sith Lord, Darth Sidious.
- "He was gambling on them having already been betrayed—a very cynical way of looking at the universe, but these days, it was right more often than not."
- ―Darrus Jeht's thoughts on the situation at Kromus
On exiting hyperspace, the Republic fleet found themselves faced with a powerful Separatist fleet above Kromus, divided into two squadrons. It appeared that they had not detected the approach of the Republic forces, but Master Jeht was unconvinced. The gap between the wings of the CIS fleet offered a tempting avenue of approach to Kromus, but Jeht could see how the two Separatist flotillas could quickly reverse course and close a trap around his forces.
Ordering one of his gunships to open its reactor baffles and simulate the energy signature of the larger Maelstrom, Jeht sent the rest of his fleet ahead, while he and the command ship waited in reserve. As he had hoped, the battle droids manning the Separatist ships, depending on sensor readouts rather than visual identification, identified the gunship as Maelstrom and closed the trap. Ten percent of the Republic fleet was destroyed in the first moments of the battle, but the ruse allowed the Maelstrom to reach orbit around Kromus.
Although heavily outnumbered, the rest of the Republic fleet continued to fight the Separatists—and, surprisingly, held their own in spite of further losses. One element of the Separatist force lost its battlefield coordination completely, perhaps indicating the destruction of a Droid Control Ship, while the other squadron was driven into full retreat. However, events around Kromus meant that no satisfaction could be taken from what might otherwise have been a remarkable victory for the Republic.
When the Maelstrom entered orbit, they discovered the true nature of the Starkiller facility's location—in the heart of a city on a highly-populated planet. Master Jeht ordered the Maelstrom to prepare to land and deploy ground troops for an assault. But then the cruiser's sensors detected that the Starkiller spacecraft was powering up to take off. Reluctantly, General Jeht gave the order to fire. The Separatist facility disappeared in a flash—taking the surrounding city with it. In less than a minute, two million lives were lost, and there was just a pall of destruction, spread over hundreds of miles around the target zone. Troubled not only by the destruction, but also by his ability to set it to one side, General Jeht ordered the fleet to withdraw from the system. For Kromus, however, the initial flashpoint was just the beginning.
- "The Senate has issued a statement of remorse and regret over the destruction of all life on Kromus...."
- ―HoloNet announcement
The catastrophe had ignited Kromus' atmosphere, and destabilized the planet's crust. To the Sith agents monitoring the situation in orbit, to the Separatist media, and to the leaders of the Republic, it was clear that the planet was as good as dead. Within days, every life-form on Kromus, including more than a billion sentients, would die as a result of the devastation caused by the battle. The Maelstrom and the fleet were recalled to Coruscant, where General Jeht expected to be heavily censured for his actions in a formal hearing. Instead, he was surprised to find himself summoned into a personal audience with Chancellor Palpatine, and praised for his decisiveness in making a difficult decision.
It is unclear whether Palpatine's encouragement of Jeht's inner darkness was simply an element of the wider strategy of corrupting the Jedi Order, or part of a specific plan to draw him to the dark side, but either way, it suggests that the real reason for the Kromus mission had been to force a Jedi Master to destroy a world. Moreover, it also appears that the Starkiller weapons platform had survived, becoming the warship known as Shadowblade. This ship and the Maelstrom would meet again in the last hours of the Clone Wars, in a battle near the planet Cularin.
Behind the scenesEdit
Aside from the two specific events cited in the endnotes, the information in this entry is drawn from the short story Dark Soul, part of the Living Force role-playing setting. Also, the report of the Sith agents monitoring Kromus after the battle make it clear that the planet-wide destruction was caused by "the loss of the hyper-point destabilizer and its delivery vehicle", rather than simply by the bombardment. However, as the Starkiller spacecraft appears to have become the Shadowblade, it is not clear what was really destroyed in the Separatist facility.