About 4,000 years before the coming of Darth Vader, two other Jedi Knights embraced the dark side, eventually challenging and almost decimating the ranks of the Jedi Order they once loyally served. One, Exar Kun, turned to the dark side in quest for knowledge long forbidden by the Order. The other, Ulic Qel-Droma, sought to destroy the dark side sect of Satal and Aleema Keto from the inside, only to be turned to evil himself by the dark side poison. Ulic was a native of Alderaan and his mother was a powerful and respected Jedi , but she refused to teach Ulic and his brother Cay Qel-Droma for she felt she lacked the necessary emotional distance to be an effective instructor. Denied that path for the early part of his life, Ulic instead concentrated on other areas of study.
As a young man, Ulic was pure of heart and purpose. Some called him arrogant, but others said he was possessed of an unbounded confidence. Those in the higher echelons of Alderaanian society scoffed at Ulic’s endless ambitions and constant successes. No one field was enough for him to triumph in — Ulic would quickly tire as challenges became lesser and lesser, and would move onto other ventures. Academically and physically strong, Ulic excelled and became popular — much to the chagrin of his naysayers who doubted his sincerity.
As Ulic grew into a man, so too did his strength in the Force grow. His mother could not deny him his heritage much longer, and she sent him and Cay Qel-Droma to study with the Jedi Master Arca Jeth on Arkania alongside a Twi’lek named Tott Doneeta. They would sharpen their martial skills against combat droids, and learn wisdom from Arca Jeth’s many stories. It was an era of adventure and exploration, when Jedi watchmen were assigned to new systems to maintain order and justice. It was a time when Jedi Masters would take on multiple apprentices, readying them for the challenge of being a Jedi Knight.
The three Jedi students were soon given their first real task. Arca Jeth was given charge of the worlds of the Onderon system, and he sent the Qel-Droma brothers and Doneeta to bring a peaceful settlement to the centuries-old civil war tearing Onderon apart between the walled city Iziz and the Beast Riders of Onderon. The Jedi arrived on Onderon aboard their starship, the Nebulon Ranger. The Ranger narrowly escaped attacks by the outlying Beast Riders before landing in the walled city of Iziz. There, they made contact with Onderon’s ruler, Queen Amanoa and her daughter, Princess Galia. The two royals spoke for the long-sequestered King Ommin, said to be convalescing in his advanced age.
Ulic was barely on Onderon for a few hours before he had to prove his warrior skills. A team of elite Beast Warrior Commandoes stormed the Royal Palace and kidnapped Galia. To redeem the Jedi image in Queen Amanoa’s eyes, Ulic led his fellow Jedi in a mission into the wilds, into Beast Rider territory, to rescue Galia.
The Nebulon Ranger tore into the skies over the Onderon forests, only to be shot down by a well-placed Beast Rider seeker-torpedo. Tott Doneeta’s talents in speaking with the giant Boma beasts gave the them the steeds needed for transportation to the Beast Rider’s fortress. They stormed the citadel, only to discover Beast Rider Oron Kira in the process of marrying Princess Galia. The Jedi were surprised to discover Galia in love with Kira, and that it was the outlying warriors who wished for peace, and the city-dwellers who perpetuated the war.
The Jedi continued to learn more of Iziz’s dark secrets. They learned it was under the pall of the dark side. Four hundred years earlier, a Sith student named Freedon Nadd brought the power of the Dark side to Onderon, and his descendents included King Ommin and Queen Amanoa, whose forms were riddled with the dark side.
The Jedi joined forces with the Beast Warriors to infiltrate Iziz and demand Amanoa step down. She refused, and a huge battle erupted. In the battle, Ulic’s brother Cay was maimed but survived. The battle was turned by the timely arrival of Arca Jeth , who used Jedi Battle Meditation to turn the tide of the conflict, boosting the Beast Warriors’ morale and letting them defeat the better-armed forces of Iziz.
Jeth used his power of the light to smother Queen Amanoa’s darkness. The dark side momentarily defeated, Arca declared Ulic’s first mission a failure. Though Ulic contended he and his fellow Jedi did all they could to avoid bloodshed, Jeth chastised his student for his failure to detect the dark side on Iziz. He later conceded that perhaps the challenge of Onderon was too great for his students.
With Amanoa dead, Galia ascended to the throne, sharing her power with her husband Oron Kira. This helped unite the rift that perpetuated the civil war on Onderon, but there were those loyalists to the old order that refused to let the new government rule unchallenged. These loyalists — Naddists — sparked a violent uprising within the days that followed Amanoa’s funeral. Ulic Qel-Droma, Cay and Tott Doneeta were in the heart of this conflict, joined by the Jedi Oss Willum, Dace Diath, Shoaneb Culu, Qrrrl Toq, Kith Kark and Nomi Sunrider.
During the Nadd uprising, Arca Jeth was held captive by the vile King Ommin. Ommin, a frail dying human was kept alive and enraged by the power of the dark side. His ravaged body was held erect by a disturbing metal frame. Ulic, growing increasingly enraged by Ommin’s posturing and the threat posed to his master, cut down Ommin’s armored protector, Warb Null. Ulic eventually cut through to the heart of the darkness itself, cleaving Ommin’s metallic armature with his lightsaber blade, leaving the crippled old man helpless and dying. Ulic encountered the dark side spirit of Freedon Nadd in the Sith storehouses below the royal palace of Iziz. The spirit of Freedon Nadd claimed Ommin’s life, and made the cryptic proclamation that one or two of the assembled Jedi belonged to the dark side. The spirit of Freedon Nadd even declared that Ulic would be one of the “great ones.”
Nadd had voiced ancient Sith prophecies that said the Dark Lords would rise again. It was Nadd that lured a pair of bored and spoilt Force-sensitive elites — Satal and his cousin Aleema Keto from the Empress Teta System to the war-ravaged world of Onderon, to initiate them into the Sith heritage. The pair would go on to forge the Krath , a secret society of social elites in the Empress Teta system, who dabbled with the dark side and Sith magic. The Krath grew restless, and staged a coup that toppled their parents from command of the system.
This alarming event led Ulic Qel-Droma back into battle. He and Nomi Sunrider were dispatched to the Empress Teta System to investigate. Aleema used Sith illusions to conceal the true size of her attack force, and Ulic’s Republic task force were stymied trying to determine which of their attackers were real. One of the Krath Chaos starfighters crashed through the Republic command ship Reliance’s shields and hull. The explosion claimed many lives, and Ulic was wounded by a piece of flying shrapnel. Nomi nursed Ulic back to health, slowly letting him closer to her heart. Ulic was injured and the wound inflicted by a twisted shred of alchemically altered metal refused to heal.
The Republic task force retreated from Empress Teta to formulate a new attack plan. The Jedi convened a massive assembly at Mount Meru, on the planet Deneba, to discuss this new threat. Ulic proposed a daring and foolhardy plan. The Krath conspiracy had spread far too deep into Tetan society. It must be uprooted, he said. And the only way of doing so was for one Jedi to infiltrate the Krath, and learn its secrets — to defeat the dark side from within. The Jedi Masters thought him foolish, and warned of the inevitable consequences of starting down the dark path. Before the debate could be settled, though, the Krath sprung a surprise attack on Deneba, employing deadly battle droids. Many Jedi fell to their lifeless attackers, including Master Arca Jeth. Ulic cradled his master in his arms as the old Arkanian Jedi faded away, into the light.
Ulic blamed himself for his master’s fall, and resolved that he would join the Krath to destroy it. Nomi Sunrider pleaded with him not to underestimate the dark side, but Ulic’s ceaseless confidence cancelled her words. To prepare for his mission, Ulic studied the Sith holocron kept by Jedi scholar Ood Bnar. Bnar warned of the twisting power of the dark side, but Ulic saw no alternative. As he left, Ulic shared words of departure with his brother Cay. Cay Qel-Droma was most concerned about Ulic’s mission, and feared that he would never see him again. The two embraced, and Ulic promised that he would return. Ulic shared a final kiss with Nomi Sunrider, and then, disguised as a smuggler, departed for the city of Cinnagar, in the Tetan system.
In Cinnagar, Ulic came across a demonstration of the Krath’s cold and absolute rule. Aleema was to publicly execute a carbonite trader who had rebelled against the Krath. The trader sprung free of his captor, and attacked Aleema. Caught by surprise, the Sith Leader’s life was in jeopardy. It was the first of many trials for Ulic. He lashed out and killed Aleema’s attacker to show his loyalty.
While Aleema was enamored by Ulic’s handsome and brash ways, Satal was nowhere near as trusting. Deep beneath the Iron Citadel of Cinnagar, Ulic underwent grueling torture and examination administered by Satal Keto, to find out his true purpose. Satal, toying with his captive, speared into Ulic’s side with a blade coated with Sith poisons. The insidious venom worked its way into Ulic’s bloodstream — the only way to purge it was to burn it away through complete abandon to the dark side.
Nomi Sunrider secretly voyaged to Cinnagar with Cay Qel-Droma and Tott Doneet, to make contact with Ulic. She sought to find out what he had so far learned of the Krath. Nomi allowed her self to fall captive of the Krath forces, and Ulic ordered her imprisoned in the Krath dungeons. Ulic secretly communicated with Nomi, insisting that he needed to stay in Cinnagar a while longer. While he had learned a lot about the Krath, he needed to learn more. Satal caught them communicating, and ordered both Qel-Droma and Sunrider executed.
His cover blown, chaos enveloped Ulic. His blood poisoned by Sith alchemy and his mind tainted by Aleema’s advances, Ulic lost sight of his friendships, his loyalties, and his love.
Nomi escaped from her guards, and called in Cay and Tott to rescue her. The Jedi fought through the Krath ranks, and almost succeeded in escaping, but Ulic stayed behind. Enraged, Ulic killed Satal Keto for the death of his beloved Master Arca, but the rage continued. When Cay tried to get Ulic to follow him to their ship, Ulic ordered Cay away lest he kill him. His fate was sealed. He was one with the dark side. He allowed the Jedi to leave while he remained on Cinnagar.
As the Jedi regrouped to stage a massive attack on Cinnagar, Aleema continued to tempt Ulic further along the dark path. She gave him an ancient Sith amulet that was a great focus of power. The Jedi attacked Cinnagar, and Nomi Sunrider and Cay infiltrated the Iron Citadel. Ulic refused the words of reason from Nomi and Cay. He saw them as weak and ineffective, like he was when he was unable to stop Arca from dying. Ulic brandished the Sith amulet like a weapon, and rejected his former friends.
The Jedi finally decided to leave Ulic behind. He came here of his own choice. He was to live with his decision. Cay was not so ready to leave his brother behind. The other Jedi had to restrain him as they departed. As the Jedi departed, a stranger strode confidently into the halls of the Iron Citadel. Flanked by Massassi guards stood Exar Kun, former Jedi and now Sith initiate. As the Krath had been unraveling their plan of galactic conquest, Kun had followed his own path into the darkness. A path that brought him to the Sith world of Korriban, and the Sith stronghold on Yavin Four. Now, he sought out the only other Sith practitioner who could challenge him — Ulic Qel Droma.
Ulic and Kun dueled with lightsabers, a vicious battle fueled by terrible hatred. As they fought, the Sith amulets that each of them wore suddenly came to life, awakened from a millennia-long sleep by renewed Sith energies. The two talismans projected an ancient image of the grand Sith Empire of a thousand years prior. An ancient Sith spirit declared the two warriors as worthy of the Sith heritage. Exar Kun was branded Dark Lord of the Sith, and Ulic Qel Droma as his apprentice. A twin-branched Sith tattoo was emblazoned on Qel-Droma’s forehead to mark his status. The ancient Sith dictated that Kun and Qel-Droma would be the instruments of the Galactic Republic‘s destruction, and the rebirth of the ancient Sith Empire. This marked the start of the Great Sith War.
Six months later, Ulic and Aleema were joint warlords of the Empress Teta System. Their claim to that system was challenged by the warlord, Mandalore. The two entered into a personal duel on Kuar. Mandalore dictated that the duel take place on the open plains of Harkul. Mandalore’s weapon: the Basilisk war droid mount; Ulic’s: his lightsaber. The contest: Qel-Droma must hold his ground high on the chain-nets over Harkul as Mandalore attacks. The prize: the allegiance of the combined armies of Teta and Mandalore. Ulic’s Jedi training served him well. He beat Mandalore, and the defeated warlord conceded his loyalty.
With this newly amassed army, Ulic disobeyed Exar Kun’s more conservative orders, and sought to take the battle to the heart of the Republic, to Coruscant itself. An immense battle raged over the planet-wide metropolis. Ulic sought to capture the Republic’s military command center, as well as the new weapons in production nearby. Mandalore captured the weapons cache while Ulic Qel-Droma took command of the war room. He ordered the Fleet dispatcher to deploy the fleet on a collision course. The dispatcher refused, and as Ulic was about to smite him with the Force, a team of Jedi broke into the command center. Using the power of the lightside, Nomi Sunrider and Cay Qel-Droma blocked Ulic’s ability, and held him captive.
Ulic was marched before the assembled ranks of the Galactic Senate, but he refused to repent for his crimes. He condemned the Republic as meaningless, and spoke of the coming Golden Age of the Sith. Exar Kun arrived to free his captive apprentice. Kun overpowered the Supreme Chancellor of the Senate, making him speak his words of Sith victory. The Republic was powerless to stop Kun from marching out of the Senate Hall with Qel-Droma.
The next battleground of the Great Sith War was the Cron Cluster. Aleema, at the cost of her own life, detonated the supergiant stars within the Cluster, sending a deadly shockwave of destruction toward the Jedi stronghold world Ossus. The Jedi worked desperately to evacuate Ossus and preserve some of the Jedi treasures and artifacts held there. In the confusion, Exar Kun and Ulic Qel-Droma arrived on Ossus, and began looting the ancient Jedi storehouses.
Cay Qel-Droma confronted Ulic and the two dueled in a lightsaber battle, and Ulic killed his own brother. Ulic was stunned by his actions. The murder of his beloved brother was enough to shake Ulic to the core of the man he once was. Nomi, distraught at the depths to which Ulic had plunged, attacked him through the Force. She used her powers to strip away Ulic’s. The assault was total. Ulic’s Force-ability was cut off to him. He was a mere mortal, and his spirit was ultimately broken.
The Jedi abandoned Ossus, and sought to bring an end to the Sith War. Ulic revealed the location of Exar Kun’s base operation: Yavin 4. The combined forces of the Jedi and the Republic were able to stop Kun thanks to Qel-Droma’s betrayal.
Ulic, powerless, dropped from sight. He fled from his pasts and went into hiding. For a decade, he wandered, lost in his thoughts, his grief, and his guilt. A decade later, keeping his identity secret, Ulic hired transport from a spacer named Hoggon . Hoggon delivered Ulic to the scorched jungles of Yavin 4 , the site of Exar Kun’s final defeat. There were too many spirits there to haunt Ulic, too many painful memories. He sought somewhere even more isolated.
Hoggon brought Qel-Droma to the frigid planet of Rhen Var, a world slowly emerging from the grips of an ice age. Ulic chose to live in an abandoned fortress atop an icy mountain. On a walk around the castle, Ulic fell into an ice cave-in. He lay still for hours, ready for his life to leave him. But it didn’t. He imagined the spirits of those slain — either by his hands or the hands of his accomplices. He saw visions of Cay, and Master Arca, but if they were the product of the Force or a dying mind, he knew not. Although cut off from the Force, Ulic still possessed his great inner strength. He willed himself to live, though he knew not why.
Elsewhere, the rebellious teenage daughter of Nomi Sunrider, Vima Sunrider, wished to find Ulic Qel-Droma. She wanted to learn the ways of the Jedi, and her mother was far too busy as leader of the Jedi assembly to deal with her. Vima hired Hoggon, the same pilot who took Ulic to Rhen Var, to help her track down her master. Hoggon was surprised to see an image of Ulic, and was shocked that he had been carrying a wanted criminal in his ship. He took Vima to Rhen Var. In the Rhen Var palace, Vima confronted Ulic. All Ulic could see in Vima’s big blue eyes were images of Nomi. She was a reminder of all his pain, and he wanted nothing to do with her. Vima pleaded to Ulic to train her in the ways of a Jedi. A sudden, terrible ice storm stranded the two of them together in a makeshift shelter.
The two spoke in the warm glow and silence of a glowcube. Vima voiced her desire to be a Jedi, and Ulic warned of the high and often-terrible price required. Despite everything that befell Ulic, Vima still saw him as the man Nomi fell in love with the great Jedi warrior. Ulic began training Vima in the construction and operation of a lightsaber. Although blind to the Force, he still could handle the elegant weapon. While Ulic was teaching Vima, she taught Ulic how to appreciate life again. Together, with their lightsaber blades, the two of them carved an immense statue to honor the memory of Arca Jeth and Andur Sunrider.
Nomi Sunrider finally came to Rhen Var for her daughter. She and Ulic stared at each other. Nomi then saw the giant ice sculpture that her daughter and her former lover carved together. Finally, Ulic was beginning to find peace.
At that moment, the Cathar Jedi Sylvar sought out Ulic to kill him, in vengeance for the death of her mate. Sylvar confronted Ulic, and a heated lightsaber duel ensued. Ulic refused to fight. He reasoned with Sylvar that vengeance was not the path of a Jedi. At the final moment, Sylvar too put down her blade.
It was at then that Ulic was murdered. Hoggon, an admirer of the Jedi, fired his blaster weapon and pierced the heart of Ulic , a mere mortal. In Hoggon’s eyes, it was the act of a hero: the death of a villain. For Ulic, it was a final rest and a final chance to die in the light. Nomi cradled Ulic’s dying body. Qel-Droma asked for a final forgiveness and Nomi forgave him. To Vima, the light that let Ulic see through the darkness, he gave a ring-necklace that he carried. His life force gone, Ulic’s body vanished in a shimmer of energy. Perhaps, even though he no longer heard the call of the Force, he still had the heart of a Jedi.