- "Hear me, my lovelies! Odion's pretty things want Skarpos for themselves! Show them what you think of that -- if you can think at all!"
The First Battle of Skarpos was a campaign during the Republic Dark Age in 1032 BBY which pitted Sith Lord Odion's principality the Odionate against Lord Malakite's forces in the Menagerie, his personal realm. A Sith invasion force led by the Novitiate lieutenant Yulan engaged Malakite's space forces and landed on Skarpos, a barren desert world in Malakite's Menagerie. The landing force included a disguised Jedi Knight Kerra Holt who had infiltrated the Novitiates under the pseudonym Mercy. Yulan's forces sustained substantial casualties during an ambush by Lord Malakite's forces. Malakite's forces took advantage of the enemy's chaos to organize a strategic retreat but he vowed to return to his territory. They were subsequently reassigned by the Odionate Claimer Wayman for a new assignment to locate the Helm of Ieldis, an ancient Sith relic. Meanwhile, Odion's invasion force occupied the planet.
- "Onward, chattel! Form on the Novitiates and make you perimeter -- in Odion's name!"
- ―"Mercy" (Kerra Holt)
By the last century of the New Sith Wars, the galaxy was in the throes of a dark age. The Galactic Republic had shrunken to a defensive cordon behind the Colonies and large areas of the Outer Rim were under the sway of various feuding Sith Lords. Following the collapse of the Chagras Hegemony, the Grumani sector in the Outer Rim had descended into a power vacuum as his Sith relatives fought each other for dominance. Each of these Sith lords ruled their own interstellar fiefdoms and had their own military forces. These internecine conflicts devastated large areas of the sector and affected the lives of billions of sentients.
In 1032 BBY, the Sith Lords were briefly usurped by the Hutt crimelord Zodoh who tried unsuccessfully to carve up his own empire in the sector. Zodoh was ultimately defeated during the Battle of Darkknell by the Jedi Knight Kerra Holt who subsequently established contact with the Sith Lord Daiman, the ruler of a princedom centered around the planet Darkknell. Both Kerra and Daiman shared a common enemy in the form of the Sith Lord Odion for different reasons and sought to eliminate him. Kerra wanted revenge for the terror Odion inflicted on her homeworld of Aquilaris Minor while Daiman hated his estranged brother and had foreseen a great tribulation emanating from within Odion's domain.
With Daiman's connivance, Kerra managed to establish contact with the Odionate agent Wayman, who worked as a recruiting agent for Odion's elite Force-wielding corps known as the Novitiates. Using the pseudonym "Mercy", Kerra joined the Novitiates. At that point, Odion was waging a war against Lord Malakite, a rival Sith Lord who ruled an independent realm known as the Menagerie. Odion ordered an invasion of Skarpos, a barren desert world home to sentients that had been mutated through Sith experiments over the past centuries.
- "You guess? You'd better shape up -- and fast! I never carried a Novitiate into battle that didn't die a glorious death in Odion's name!"
- ―Yulan reprimanding "Mercy"
Odion's warships entered the space surrounding Skarpos and fought a fierce space battle against Lord Malakite's defending starfighters and gunships. Odion's cargo liners and landing ships were able to enter Skarpos' atmosphere and deploy a planetary invasion force consisting of both Force-wielding Novitiates and members of the Thunder Guard, an elite military unit of Sith troopers. Lord Malakite deployed an army of Mutates, sentient beings who had been mutated into violent savages through Sith experiments over the previous centuries. Malakite himself led his cohort into battle riding on the back of a purple four-legged beast.
While the Novitiates fought a skirmish against a band of Mutates, the Thunder Guard moved past the Novitiate's lines under the orders of Yulan, Odion's favorite lieutenant. The Odionate military did not have field ranks but Yulan's favored position in Odion's inner circle meant that he was the de-facto field commander. The Thunder Guards entered a boggy trench which was soaked in starfighter fuel as part of a trap set up by Malakite. When a large portion of Odion's troops were inside the trench, Malakite ordered his archers to set the trench alight with flaming arrows. The trench subsequently exploded in a firestorm which killed and wounded many Thunderers and Novitiate acolytes alike. Mercy foresaw Malakite's tactic and attempted to stop her comrades from charging to their deaths. However, her cries for caution were in vain since Odion's followers saw their salvation in mortal death.
Meanwhile, Lord Malakite took advantage of the chaos in the enemy's ranks to organize a strategic withdrawal, but vowed to return with reinforcements. Mercy's efforts to turn back the Odionate forces drew the ire of her commanding officer Yulan who also chastised her for tending to a wounded comrade. When Mercy expressed her concerns about their troops charging to their deaths in the flames, Yulan responded that she was training to be a member of the Novitiates and survival meant nothing to his followers. He also reiterated that Novitiates were supposed to die a glorious death in Odion's name since death was seen as a release from pain. However, Yulan's chastisement session was interrupted by Wayman, the Claimer who had recruited Mercy. He defended Kerra by arguing that Yulan's suicide wave tactics drained the Odionate's manpower resources and claiming that he had high opes for her.
Following a personal conversation with Mercy about adhering to the appropriate norms in Odion's armed forces, Wayman announced that Lord Odion wanted a squad of Novitiates for a special assignment. He ordered them to assemble in Jubalene for a debriefing with Odion himself. Jubalene had recently been annexed from the defeated Bactranate and had become Odion's new temporary capital. Yulan's fleet was also to rendezvous at Jubalene. Yulan complied but explained that he had to do a quick stop at Vanahame to replenish his ammunition. Feigning interest in Odion's teachings, Kerra inquired about the presence of data centers on Jubalene which Wayman confirmed to her delight.
- "Incredible -- Odion's people will endure anything! This is your day again, cousin! To the escape craft, my children! We'll heal our wounds and return. Skarpos will be ours!"
Following the reassignment of the cohort of Novitiates, Odion's military forces occupied Skarpos. However, they were unaware that the ancient Sith artefact known as the Helm of Ieldis was secretly hidden on Skarpos. Lord Ieldis was a Sith Lord who lived before the Great Hyperspace War who studied war and what made people fight. The Helm of Ieldis was capable of turning sentients into mindless fighting machines. Following the Massacre of Aquilaris in 1042 BBY, Lord Odion had commissioned a task force called Project Pandemonium to locate the Helm of Ieldis but the trail dried up at Sarrassia.
The task force included Aron Holt and Mercia Holt, a diver and archaeologist who had been captured during the conquest of Aquilaris Minor. These two were the parents of Jedi Knight Kerra Holt who was on a personal quest to find her parents and learn about that fate. Subsequently, the project was suspended during the internecine family struggle that consumed the Grumani sector following the death of Chagras, ruler of the Chagras Hegemony. In 1032 BBY, Odion reopened the project following the Aquilaris campaign in an attempt to break this stalemate. He dispatched a cohort of Novitiates including a disguised Kerra to Sarrassia. There, she encountered the alien Grumani Hierophant Aunt Zoojoo who informed her that her parents had learnt that the Helm of Ieldis was located on Skarpos. However, the pair misled Odion, keeping its true location hidden.
Following a confrontation which killed Aunt Zoojoo, Kerra, through her pseudonym Mercy, revealed to her commander Yulan that the artefact was located on Skarpos. Yulan quickly assembled his fleet and returned to Skarpos. The Odionate garrison was based at the Morbollon Mesa. The following day, Lord Malakite launched a counter-attack with his forces including an army of winged Stenaxes.