Devastation of Ziost (updated and expanded in 2020) - WIP

S_W_LeGenD blogsDEVASTATION OF ZIOST
OBJECTIVEThis blog offers a detailed account of HOW planet ZIOST was devastated and stripped of life:

Ziost has been the capital of the Sith Empire under both King Adas and Jedi Exile Ajunta Pall, as well as their successors. As with most planets of Sith Space, war and the dark side stripped life from the planet until it became a barren ball of lifeless rock.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Core Rulebook)

RELATEDThis blog represents a subsection of the Valkorion Respect Thread.
LEGALThis blog is in compliance with (CC BY 4.0): https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
SPOILERS ALERTPotential readers are CAUTIONED in advance that this blog contain heavy spoilers in its constructs.
TYPE OF WORKLiterature Review with visual content.

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Important considerations

1. Valkorion's original name is Tenebrae. After abandoning the Sith, he was identified as Vitiate on ZIOST.

"Valkorion. Tenebrae. Vitiate. Emperor of the Sith. My low-born son has worn many masks."

From (Lord Dramath, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne; Chapter 7)

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"Vitiate is not our Emperor. Not anymore."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

2. In this blog, Tenebrae is identified as Tenebrae (Vitiate) in relation to his exploits on ZIOST because he had abandoned the Sith by this point in time (see Tenebrae's exploits on ZIOST were a means to an end section of the blog below).

3. Tenebrae (Vitiate) devastated and/or consumed ZIOST in 3637 BBY, with his own dark side abilities (all sections of the blog converge on this conclusion from different angles).

4. In order to understand some of the dark side abilities demonstrated by Tenebrae (Vitiate) on YAVIN 4 and ZIOST respectively, it is important to take a look at following screenshot:

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From (Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side)

5. Tenebrae (Vitiate) was the CONSCIOUSNESS of Tenebrae - his reason of being (intangible presence) which manifested as the result of him cheating death on DROMUND KAAS while confronting the legendary Jedi Knight (alias Hero of Tython) and his allies (see Before the apocalypse section of the blog below); MASKED to the extent that the Jedi and the Sith utterly failed to obtain a FIX on it (see Tenebrae's exploits on ZIOST were a means to an end section of the blog below). Although an explanation is provided in the relevant section, this is something deeper than the theme of Sith Spirits. It is important to take a look at following screenshot for general knowledge however:

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From (Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side)

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Introduction

Though you leave us

Your humble subjects on Ziost

We know it is not forever.

Though the distance must be great

Your return is a certainty

We know we will be united once more

Though you are away

Your eye gazes upon us

We know you see our doings

Though we are alone

Your lessons remain

We know our considerable duty

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "The Emperor's Eye.")

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Situated in the heart of Imperial Space, Ziost has long played a vital role in the intricate history of the Sith. For thousands of years, in fact, the craggy, arid world served as the ancient Sith Empire's capital until infighting splintered its leadership. Today, Ziost remains an important commercial, political and population center of the Empire--this in spite of its shift from a warm climate with dense forests to a bitterly cold tundra. Whether this environmental turnabout is due to geological reasons or eons of dark side influence remains a subject of scholarly consideration.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Ziost.")

ZIOST was among the greatest population centers of the reconstituted ancient Sith Empire.

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HISTORY of Tenebrae and his exposure to Drain Force

Tenebrae (original) was a remarkably gifted and talented Force-user by any measure:

The child who will come to be known as the Sith Emperor is born. Black-eyed, heartless, and supremely strong in the dark side of the Force, the boy seizes control of his homeworld by the age of 13 and earns the title Lord Vitiate.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Sever Force application came naturally to Tenebrae (original) when he was just a child (FATE of Lord Dramath serve as a reminder that even a powerful Force-user was vulnerable):

Lord Dramath ruled the Sith world of Medriaas more than a millennium ago. Caring little for day-to-day governing, the Sith Lord spent his time hosting feasts and traveling around the agricultural planet. During a trip to the distant northern continent, Dramath had an affair with a poor farmer woman, siring a son whom he promptly forgot.

Ten years later, the Sith Lord heard rumors of a child gathering power in the northern continent, but did not personally investigate until his envoys failed to return. After days of travel, Dramath reached the source of the rumors only to face his illegitimate son, Tenebrae, the future Sith Emperor and immortal ruler of Zakuul. That day, Tenebrae removed his father's connection to the Force and imprisoned him within a powerful holocron, leaving Dramath alone to wither slowly into madness over an eternity.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne; Codex Entry titled "Lord Dramath.")

Tenebrae (original) discovered ZILDROG on his homeworld Medriaas at some point:

The ancient mechanical entity known as Zildrog has always operated from behind the scenes. Unlike the other "machine gods" of Iokath, Zildrog permanently functions in two forms.

The first is a central computer that specializes in the transfer of life energies. Given this device's presence on Nathema, it is likely that Zildrog was a key element of the original ritual Tenebrae used to empower himself at the cost of all life on the planet

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Nathema Conspiracy: Codex Entry titled "Zildrog.")

- and would have figured out as much. However, ZILDROG was an ancient superweapon, and could be used to consume an entire world, and possibly much more:

"I thought it was just a legend, but he dragon god of Zakuul is real... it's a superweapon. Capable of consuming entire civilizations."

From (Vinn Atrius, Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Nathema Conspiracy)

POWER of such magnitude would prove FATAL not just to the operator but to the world at large, but Tenebrae (original) would take his chances one day. Enter Sith Sorcery.

While many Sith were preoccupied with Imperial politics, Tenebrae (original) dedicated himself to honing his abilities in the dark side:

The child who will come to be known as the Sith Emperor is born. Black-eyed, heartless, and supremely strong in the dark side of the Force, the boy seizes control of his homeworld by the age of 13 and earns the title Lord Vitiate. He amasses an army of Sith followers and turns his back on Imperial politics to hone his skills in the dark side.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Tenebrae (original) had one goal in mind (i.e. IMMORTALITY). He would make this possible via Sith Sorcery while putting ZILDROG to good use:

The ancient mechanical entity known as Zildrog has always operated from behind the scenes. Unlike the other "machine gods" of Iokath, Zildrog permanently functions in two forms.

The first is a central computer that specializes in the transfer of life energies. Given this device's presence on Nathema, it is likely that Zildrog was a key element of the original ritual Tenebrae used to empower himself at the cost of all life on the planet. Beyond that first atrocity, however, Zildrog's central mind appears to have played no role in Tenebrae's dual life as Vitiate and Valkorion, and slumbered in stasis mode until Vinn Atrius discovered it many years later.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Nathema Conspiracy: Codex Entry titled "Zildrog.")

Tenebrae (original) devised a terrifying RITUAL, and also decided to eliminate all manner of competition in a masterstroke.

THAT day would come by the end of the Great Hyperspace War when Tenebrae (original) called upon all surviving Lords of the Sith to join him on his homeworld (OR die at the hands of Jedi). Sith Lord Naga Sadow and many others were presumed to be dead by now. Therefore, this was the time for someone else to prove his mettle and a new leader shall be selected:

Lord Vitiate returned to his homeworld while rest of the Sith Empire waged the Great Hyperspace War against the Republic. When the hasty Sith offensive ended in failure, the Empire collapsed - but Lord Vitiate was stronger than ever. He bid every surviving Sith to unite or die at the hands of Jedi. Eight thousand Sith Lords gathered on Medriaas and agreed to partake in a ritual that would bind the Sith together as an ultimate dark side weapon.

The ritual lasted ten days. Lord Vitiate orchestrated the sorcery and the planet Mediraas was consumed by the largest dark side nexus the galaxy would ever see. When the ritual ended, Lord Vitiate emerged as the only survivor. The pain, energy, and suffering of every living entity on the planet fueled his power and would prolong his life for centuries. The lifeless planet of Mediraas became a void in the Force and was erased from history. From that moment forward, the world would forever be known as Nathema, birthplace of the one and only Sith Emperor.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

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The Emperor had consumed everything. Life, sound, color, even the Force—nothing remained. This wasn’t about conquest or domination or destroying an enemy—all concepts Scourge embraced.

Everything on Nathema had simply been snuffed out, extinguished so completely that it ceased to have any meaning or purpose. It was a vacuum of existence; a blight on the natural order.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan)

Tenebrae (original) had now experienced the effects, first-hand:

"It is a technique that is almost as old as the Sith themselves…it is a means of severing connections between life, the Force, and feeding upon the death it causes. It cannot be taught…it can only be gained through instinct, through experiencing its effects, first-hand."

From (Darth Traya, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords)

In full view of the Sith Sorcery of such magnitude and Tenebrae's subsequent transformation:

Lord Vitiate takes command of the Sith Empire, now in shambles following the Great Hyperspace War. He executes the Sith Council and consumes the life force of thousands of Sith Lords in a terrifying ritual that extends his life and vastly increases his capacity as a practitioner of the Force. Lord Vitiate declares himself Emperor of the Sith. Under his sovereign rule, the Empire retreats into deep space to rebuild its strength and prepare for vengeance.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

- the remainder of the ancient Sith Empire recognized Tenebrae as Emperor of the Sith, rallied under him, and all disappeared into the Unknown Regions for decades until they found in Dromund Kaas a suitable world to reconstitute the Sith Empire (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia); scores of Sith became master(s) of the dark side of the Force and devised new powers meanwhile (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia).

The reconstituted ancient Sith Empire would be stronger and better organized than ever before, with advancements in all aspects of life, but in absolute secrecy (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia).

Over the course of centuries, Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) explored the most sinister and uncharted depths of the dark side:

In his relentless pursuit of immortality, the Emperor explored the most sinister, uncharted depths of the dark side.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

- and became FAR MORE POWERFUL since the days of NATHEMA in 4999 BBY - a fact that is made apparent in following statements:

The Sith Empire's exile dragged on for centuries. While the military, navy, and Sith grew strong, the Emperor amassed unfathomable power and plotted a vengeful war against the Republic. He ruled from the privacy of his chambers in the Citadel, his life extended to virtual immortality by Sith sorcery.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

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The Sith Emperor has mastered the dark side's power to become the most dominating Force-user the galaxy has ever seen.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Codex Entry titled "The Emperor's Fallen Jedi (Knight).")

Before the apocalypse

"The galaxy is choked with beings. Billions die every instant. It is better to make use of this resource. At my retreat on Byss, the life force of its colonists supplied an energy pool to sustain my dark side experiments." - Palpatine

At some point during the course of the Great Galactic War, Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) orchestrated his most ambitious ritual that would grant him unparalleled power but at the expense of the entire galaxy (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia). However, some of the greatest warriors in the galaxy including the legendary Jedi Knight (alias Hero of Tython) and the former Emperor's Wrath Lord Scourge acted swiftly and succeeded in disrupting said ritual with collective effort (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia); Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) suffered a setback from such disruption (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Jedi Knight - Act 3 - Doomsday), and his Voice was also struck down during a covert operation in Dromund Kaas (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia). Meanwhile the legendary Jedi Consular (alias The Barsen'thor) and her allies struck another blow to Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) by unmasking and eliminating numerous Children and even the First Son (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia).

In light of the above, Tenebrae was no longer in the position to function in the capacity of The Sith Emperor, but cheated death:

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- wrecked the Dark Temple, and sought refuge in planet YAVIN 4 to recuperate.

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While you silenced Darth Baras, the Jedi attempted the impossible feat of destroying the Emperor. Instead, they merely defeated the Emperor's true Voice.

The unexpected blow was a shock. The Emperor's consciousness was wrenched from his Voice. He now slumbers, gathering his strength.

From (Message from Servant One of the Emperor's Hand)

When Revan (now a reanimated corpse driven by seething hatred for The Sith Emperor and a source of great disturbance in the Force at this stage), and his allies (The Revanites), invaded YAVIN 4 in force and attempted to perform a ritual to restore Tenebrae with the intent to deliver a final blow to him, the Republic and the Empire suspended their clashes on a temporary basis and joined hands to foil Revan's agenda:

One of the most profound developments of recent times will not be shared. It will not be celebrated, and only in the softest of voices in the most secure locations will it be discussed. Acting largely on their own, the Dark Council's Darth Marr and Jedi Grand Master Satele Shan have agreed to a temporary truce amongst their forces, going so far as to plan and act in concert against their common foe, the Revanites.

If these coalition forces are successful--if they can put aside their differences long and well enough to stop Revan's mad scheme--it could be seen as a bridge to a more permanent agreement. While some might welcome such a scenario, others are all too content to see their differences worked through on the battlefield. They would never compromise their ideologies, even if doing so could spare the lives of millions.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan: Codex Entry titled "The Coalition.")

While Revan and his allies were defeated in the ensuing conflict, it was too late to stop Tenebrae's consciousness at this point as it was able to FEED on the deaths of a large number of individuals on YAVIN 4 (Drain Life Essence implied), and in a considerably violent manifestation of power:

"Impossible... the ritual haven't even begun..."

From (Revan, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan)

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- teleported to planet ZIOST subsequently.

The teleportation effort of Tenebrae's consciousness was considerably violent (Fold Space implied); creating earthquakes and strong winds in the surroundings, and the final release of energy gave the impression of opening a wormhole across time and space for the needful. This expression of power inflicted many casualties on the forces of the Sith Empire given the fact that they were stationed on both YAVIN 4 and ZIOST respectively.

"We suffered many casualties upon the Emperor's return..."

From (Darth Marr, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan)

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Tenebrae's exploits on ZIOST were a means to an end

“The scores of dead have nourished me. I am awakened. And I bring with me--death!”

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

Now identified as simply Vitiate by the Sith, Tenebrae's consciousness was no longer looking forward to rejoin the Sith and they suspected as much:

"Vitiate is not our Emperor. Not anymore."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

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In another time, it might have been cause for celebration. It might have emboldened the Empire, breathing new life into their efforts to crush the Republic. But with the Sith Emperor's apparent reawakening comes the common knowledge that he is no longer interested in ruling over the galaxy. Instead, he seeks to consume it.

The Empire's highest ranking officers and dignitaries are now in a state of heightened alert, and the Dark Council has assembled a contingent of powerful Sith seers to get a fix on the Emperor's presence. When he makes his move, it is believed he will not distinguish between former friend or foe, as they will all eventually become his food and none will remain.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex entry titled "The Emperor's Return?.")

Tenebrae (Vitiate) saw in ZIOST a suitable target to replenish himself:

A past shrouded in secrets. A future clouded by uncertainty. It was believed that the once-and-former Sith Emperor sought to consume all life in the galaxy to grant him the dark power required to attain immortality... but is that still the case? Was it ever? Did he actually have another plan all along?

The man now called Vitiate by those who once served him was not strong enough to usurp all life on Yavin 4 after his reawakening. However, he did gain power enough to flee the jungle moon and survive. Now that he has found in Ziost a suitable target to replenish himself--now that he appears to grow more powerful by the hour--what now? When will his unforgiving depletion of Ziost end? And when it does end, what fate will befall the rest of the galaxy?

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Vitiate")

When Tenebrae (Vitiate) invaded ZIOST, he began to possess its inhabitants and utilize them for violent ends (Telepathy implied):

Unleashed from his sanctuary on Yavin 4, the former Sith Emperor has now struck the Imperial world of Ziost. Using his immense power in the dark side of the Force, he has dominated the minds of the planet’s Imperial troops--as well as an elite cadre of militaristic Jedi--and has set them against the populace, engaging in a bloody slaughter.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

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NOTE: The Sixth Line Jedi Masters Onok and Landai under possession of Tenebrae (Vitiate)

Even some of the most powerful Jedi were unable to resist telepathic shroud of Tenebrae (Vitiate) on ZIOST including the leader of The Sixth Line movement Jedi Master Surro who had distinguished herself from the others in the battlefield of Balmora years earlier:

"There is no contemplation, there is only duty."

It is a declaration more in line with a rank-and-file soldier than a Jedi, and yet it is a guiding principle of the squad known as the Sixth Line. Their commander, Master Surro, is said to have made the phrase her personal mantra as she waged war against the Empire on the front lines of Balmorra, where her unwavering resolve to accomplish whatever her commanding officers asked of her set her apart from other Jedi.

Details of the formation of the Sixth Line and how they came to work with SIS Agent Theron Shan are sparse. Scattered reports in recent years do suggest that a group of "Jedi commandos" have been involved in raids and strikes not officially sanctioned by the Republic, though the validity of such reportage is typically seen as unreliable.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "The Sixth Line.")

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Speaking through those he’s possessed, he controls powerful pawns like Master Surro, the leader of a team of elite militarized Jedi known as the Sixth Line.

Taken from (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

The agenda of Tenebrae (Vitiate) was to create CONFLICT and expand it across the breath of ZIOST, and FEED on the resultant deaths to increase his strength (Drain Life Essence implied):

Obsessed with achieving immortality, the Sith Emperor has targeted his own former subjects on the planet Ziost, with every death seemingly extending his dark power.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

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Known as the “Gateway to the Empire,” the planet Ziost is in a state of chaos as innocent civilians are targeted by possessed pawns of the Sith Emperor. From the menacing “People’s Tower” in the city’s center to massive armored walkers patrolling for fresh targets, the Sith Emperor’s presence is overwhelming, his power growing with every death… Only you have the strength to stand against him.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

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The Republic Strategic Information Service established a Joint Task Force to defeat Tenebrae (Vitiate) on ZIOST after his reemergence and welcomed volunteers from all over the galaxy for the said purpose:

In response to the Emperor's return, the Republic Strategic Information Service has begun to assemble a joint task force with the sole purpose of finding the ancient Sith ruler and destroying him at last. Initially proposed by SIS agent Theron Shan, the organization will eventually include representatives from the Jedi Order, Republic Special Forces, "paid consultants" from the underworld--anyone who can contribute to the Emperor's downfall.

As with anything in the Republic, it's possible that politics may play a part in the group's final assembly and resources. But given that its founding members witnessed the return of the Emperor firsthand, it's unlikely that anything will be allowed to impede the task force's progress for long.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Shadow of Revan: Codex Entry titled "The Joint Task Force.")

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As the Sith Emperor gradually dominates the free will of everyone on Ziost, both Lana Beniko, Minister of the newly formed Sith Intelligence, and Theron Shan, a spy for the Galactic Republic, are trying to stop the chaos.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

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The Emperor escaped destruction on Yavin 4, and now his presence has been felt on the planet Ziost, once powerful throne world of the Sith Empire. You are called upon again to face this galactic menace when your allies realize that the entire planet’s inhabitants have been mind-controlled. And while the Emperor’s ultimate plan is still unknown, you do know he must be stopped.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

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The protagonists also come to understand that Tenebrae (Vitiate) was using his powers to POSSESS all manner of living beings and utilizing them for violent ends in order to increase his strength from resultant deaths (multitasking with Telepathy and Drain Life Essence implied). Examples provided below.

"As you've witnessed, Vitiate is taking hold of an increasing number of soldiers and Sith. His goal continues to be the accumulation of power. Agent?" - Lord Lana Beniko

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"Each time a pawn is killed, Vitiate gets a little bit stronger. Not as much as when they kill, but.... That's what Minister Beniko says, anyway." - Agent Rane Kovach

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"The more powerful he becomes, the more people he can control. He will keep on killing until nothing's left." - Agent Rane Kovach

Putting the aforementioned revelations into perspective;

THE CYCLE OF GROWTH IN STRENGTH: Tenebrae (Vitiate) was making use of his own immense power in the dark side of the Force to possess all manner of living beings and create CONFLICT across ZIOST in order to feed on resultant deaths by his unwitting pawns (multitasking with Telepathy and Drain Life Essence implied), and as his strength continued to increase due to each death, he began to conjure nigh-omnipotent beings of pure dark side energy across the world to facilitate his agenda (Sith Sorcery implied - another addition in the ongoing multitasking effort of dark side abilities to the benefit of the wielder):

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"We've seen several of those creatures appearing throughout New Adasta. They're made of Sith alchemy. A sign of Vitiate's growing power. Extremely strong, next to impossible to kill. The one which you just defeated is the smallest we've came across." - Lord Lana Beniko

Its power's already returned" - Chief protagonist

"I'm afraid so."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

In reality:

Given enough intellect, knowledge, fortitude and power, Sith alchemy can be used to achieve the seemingly impossible, such as transforming flesh and bone to form vicious Sithspawn such as the imposing Massassi and the unstoppable Terentatek. But Monoliths are something beyond Sithspawn: they are everlasting monstrosities built not on a foundation of living tissue but of dark side energy itself. Enduring and merciless and quite possibly unkillable, Monoliths plainly illustrate the immeasurable power of their creator and are best avoided at all costs.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Monolith.")

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The protagonists were exploring ways to reduce violence on ZIOST on the other hand. For example:

"You feed on all the deaths you cause. I'm doing everything I can to take that away from you." - Sith Warrior class

Evacuation possibilities were particularly under consideration:

"I can confirm it: the defenses are down. Between those weapons and the armory, a lot of their killing power's out of their hands now.

Should be able to start evacuation efforts as well. The fewer potential targets on Ziost, the better."

From (Rane Kovach, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

The supreme chancellor of the Republic Leontyne Saresh dispatched a large fleet of the Republic to invade ZIOST and aid the Jedi and other protagonists operating on the surface in their fight against Tenebrae (Vitiate):

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However, Tenebrae (Vitiate) proved too powerful and impossible to contain through conventional means.

Sith Empire's effort to get a FIX on Tenebrae's consciousness during the course of his exploits on ZIOST:

The Empire's highest ranking officers and dignitaries are now in a state of heightened alert, and the Dark Council has assembled a contingent of powerful Sith seers to get a fix on the Emperor's presence. When he makes his move, it is believed he will not distinguish between former friend or foe, as they will all eventually become his food and none will remain.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex entry titled "The Emperor's Return?.")

- ended in failure as well, and Darth Marr admitted DEFEAT in the following message:

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NOTE: Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) had demonstrated incredible proficiency in the application of a Force Concealment technique years earlier:

The Jedi remained blind to the Emperor's children due to the presence of the First Son, the being who was first imprinted with the Emperor's power. While the First Son lived, the Emperor's secret army remained hidden and undetected beneath the Republic's nose. By the time of the Great War, hundreds of the Emperor's Children were embedded within the Republic. Devoted Jedi, loyal soldiers, and influential politicians all unknowingly served as the Emperor's spies and, when the Emperor willed it, acted to tear down the Republic they held so dear.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

THAT ability coupled with Tenebrae's seemingly unparalleled power in the dark side of the Force, proved too much for the Jedi and Sith to address on ZIOST.

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Since the protagonists were making evacuations possible by disabling automated defenses and with use of "electrostatic equipment," Tenebrae (Vitiate) was left with no choice but to consume ZIOST in one go.

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NOTE: A massive electromagentic gun in view.

For some reason, Tenebrae (Vitiate) granted the chief protagonist an opportunity to escape from ZIOST by issuing a warning to him in advance:

"When I am finished here -- when every life on this world has been exhausted -- I want you to be alive. To know that I succeeded." - Tenebrae (Vitiate)

The Apocalypse

A while later:

Ziost Transportation Terminal:

[You notice a warning that orbital sensors detect a "planetary anomaly". A widespread crisis may be imminent. If you choose to investigate, further travel to Ziost's surface may become impossible, leaving any open concerns there unresolved.]

The impression given is that nobody could experience that "planetary anomaly" firsthand and live to tell the tale afterwards...

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NOTE: The appearance and nature of the chief protagonist is SUBJECTIVE.

Faced with the prospects of evacuations from ZIOST, Tenebrae (Vitiate) channeled much of his raw power into a single attack and unleashed a CORROSIVE wave of dark side energy of apocalyptic proportions on the planet (Drain Force implied); this expression of raw power resembled Death Field in its form, and devastated habitats across the planet in its wake by disintegrating/consuming life-forms, ravaging flora, vaporizing oceans, corrupting the planet's atmosphere, and creating seismic activity (leading to much material damage) in the process.

"Saresh finally saw reason before things got too bad, got a bunch of our troops out of there--still, we lost so many, never mind the rest of Ziost...."

From (Theron Shan, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

A clear distinction is made in the LORE in regards to what happened in the end:

Global cataclysms are not unheard of. Whole worlds teeming with life have been rendered lifeless by meteorites, broken apart by instability in the planet's own core--even atomized by the destructive force of a supernova. But the eerie calm of a world stripped of life yet left otherwise intact is another matter altogether. Whispered rumors have persisted of planets snuffed out through intricate Sith rituals or by way of deadly, arcane machines--such as the device Revan sought to employ on Yavin 4--but Ziost represents a clear display of the corrosive power of the dark side of the Force taken to its extreme.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Sith Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Death of a World.")

Use of word but indicate following:

"used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned." - GOOGLE

"used to introduce an added statement, usually something that is different from what you have said before." - Cambridge English Dictionary (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/but)

Tenebrae (Vitiate) was able to feed on the resultant extinction event and draw that energy into himself, revitalizing himself as well as emerging stronger than ever before in the aftermath:

Meanwhile, an older threat still looms: the former SITH EMPEROR, revitalized after annihilating all life on the planet Ziost, has similarly vanished without a trace.

From (Epilogue, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter 1)

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"It was a blur. We tried to evacuate as many as we could. Considering so much was out of control, I'd say we did alright...

...but Vitiate is stronger now. Sith Intelligence is in complete disarray. It's all coming apart."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

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"Especially after Ziost, putting an end to Vitiate's threat seems like an impossible task. I don't believe it truly is impossible. Even if it is were, we have to try."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

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With each rebirth, he grew stronger. His machinations became grander. The pain and suffering he unleashed became greater. Some believed his ultimate goal was conquest: the complete subjugation of every world, known and unknown. Others believed he sought annihilation: the consumption of every living being in the galaxy, until he alone remained.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne: Codex Entry titled "The Fall of Valkorion.")

After abandoning the Sith, and consuming ZIOST (Drain Force implied), Tenebrae (Vitiate) came to be known as Valkorion. This was his most powerful incarnation; stronger than he ever was in the capacity of being The Sith Emperor.

Tenebrae (Valkorion) >> Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) >> Darth Vitiate (Governor of Medriaas)

Valkorion has lived for millennia, using his dark mastery of the Force to assume many forms. His latest incarnation is Valkorion, the Immortal Emperor of the Eternal Empire. After ruling for centuries, he was struck down in an act of treachery engineered by his son, Arcann. But the Immortal Emperor could not be vanquished so easily. He evaded death by infiltrating the mind of the Outlander, his most powerful opponent. He now appears to the Outlander as an apparition, offering guidance and harsh lessons while carrying out a master plan that remains shrouded in secrecy.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne: Official Profile)

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Several years later, The Outlander and Tenebrae (Valkorion) had an exchange of dialogue in relation to ZIOST when the former was frozen in carbonite and the latter was making the former relive through significant developments in the past and also in the present through a combination of Flow-walking and Force Illusion applications.

"Ziost. The world where everything changed. For me, you... the galaxy." - Tenebrae (Valkorion)

"You killed every living being here." - The Outlander

"They died opening my eyes to the truth. I have passed beyond death's reach." - Tenebrae (Valkorion)

"Everything dies. Even you." - The Outlander

"Our flesh is not who we are. Voices... Hands... Children... I no longer require those crude vessels. At long last I am truly free." - Tenebrae (Valkorion)

"Your freedom cost millions of innocent lives. You're nothing but a monster." - The Outlander

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Post-apocalyptic scenes

Tenebrae (Vitiate) reduced ZIOST into a barren wasteland devoid of life with his own dark side abilities. The planet's atmosphere suffered extensive harm albeit remained breathable, life and life-giving properties were extinguished nevertheless, violent tremors disfigured the planet's surface causing numerous structures to collapse around the world, and anomalies were also recorded on the surface. These post-apocalyptic conditions suggest a "Wound in the Force."

Before:

No Caption Provided

After:

No Caption Provided

Surface (glimpse of a sector disfigured by violent tremors):

No Caption Provided

An ancient temple destroyed by violent tremors (game-play scenario):

No Caption Provided
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The planet's post-apocalyptic conditions featured anomalies (game-play scenario):

No Caption Provided

Dead Pulse - The wreckage of a crashed GSI transport indicates the organization was studying geomagnetic pulses beneath the surface of Ziost. Because the pulses travel at great speed, GSI provided their researchers with prototype speeders designed to deploy subsurface probes into fissures along the lifeless world.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

ZIOST's post-apocalyptic conditions resembled those of Medriaas (NATHEMA) for a time - another planet that suffered a similar fate centuries ago:

Scourge was well acquainted with death. He had no trouble understanding massacres and mass slaughter. Death and destruction unleashed powerful emotions like fear, suffering, and hatred; they fueled the power of the dark side. But what had happened on Nathema was different, and it disturbed him in a deep and profound way.

The Emperor had consumed everything. Life, sound, color, even the Force—nothing remained. This wasn’t about conquest or domination or destroying an enemy—all concepts Scourge embraced.

Everything on Nathema had simply been snuffed out, extinguished so completely that it ceased to have any meaning or purpose. It was a vacuum of existence; a blight on the natural order.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Revan)

Tenebrae's demise at some point in the future paved way for the ecological recovery of Medriaas (NATHEMA):

The ecological revitalization of Nathema has been nothing short of miraculous. Vibrant plant life has not only taken root but flourished, dramatically altering the planet's once-desolate landscape.

Force-users no longer experience the unsettling "wrongness" that they once felt whenever setting foot on the planet. The air has become fresher, and the weather more dynamic.

That this has all occurred since the death of Valkorion cannot be a coincidence, though experts cannot agree on any precise environmental mechanism that could have brought about such an abrupt change.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Nathema Conspiracy: Codex Entry titled "Zildrog.")

Conditions on ZIOST might also have improved over time but it remained a barren wasteland in the future:

Ziost has been the capital of the Sith Empire under both King Adas and Jedi Exile Ajunta Pall, as well as their successors. As with most planets of Sith Space, war and the dark side stripped life from the planet until it became a barren ball of lifeless rock.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Core Rulebook)

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Among the victims

Members of ZLF (Ziost Liberation Front)

No society is devoid of the potential for raucous dissent from its people, and tightly controlled populations are the most prone to opposition being expressed through horrific acts of violence. Through the centuries, Ziost has been the focus of many attempts at bloody revolution. Though no uprising has been successful to date, their cost in lives, property and stability have taken a toll on the one-time Sith capital.

The most recent revolt came in the form of vicious attacks from the Ziost Liberation Front, a group of guerrilla fighters officially recognized by the Sith Empire as a terrorist organization. The ZLF did not discern between military and civilian targets in their desperate campaign to overthrow the Empire, making the group feared even by those they claimed to be fighting for. They were eventually snuffed out, but not before causing severe damage to New Adasta's infrastructure. As a result of the ZLF's actions, the Empire has taken considerable steps to ensure they can obstruct the acts of a hostile populace in New Adasta with ease and haste, should the need arise.

Taken from (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Revolt on Ziost.")

A Survey Team of GSI (Galactic Solutions Industries)

A GSI Survey Team was compiling archaeological data to reconstruct a holographic approximation of the nearby temple ruins when they perished in the catastrophic event that ended all life on Ziost.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

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Colossal Monolith(s)

Even the smallest of all Monoliths:

No Caption Provided

- was found to be virtually unstoppable in battles:

"We've seen several of those creatures appearing throughout New Adasta. They're made of Sith alchemy. A sign of Vitiate's growing power. Extremely strong, next to impossible to kill. The one which you just defeated is the smallest we've came across." - Lord Lana Beniko

Its power's already returned" - Chief protagonist

"I'm afraid so."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

It was tearing through heavy structures (usually made of duracrete and durasteel) like tissue paper and forced even the chief protagonist to abandon an important sector:

"Plan's over. Scrapped. Some giant thing tore through a junction, caused an electrical surge. Dampeners are shot."

From (Rane Kovach, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

NOTE: Sith Lord Lana Beniko originally mistook these monsters for living creatures (works of Sith alchemy; Sithspawn); but these were rather beings or manifestations of pure dark side energy, conjured by Tenebrae (Vitiate) - a sign of the former Emperor's growing power indeed:

But Monoliths are something beyond Sithspawn: they are everlasting monstrosities built not on a foundation of living tissue but of dark side energy itself. Enduring and merciless and quite possibly unkillable, Monoliths plainly illustrate the immeasurable power of their creator and are best avoided at all costs.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Monolith.")

Some of the Monoliths conjured by Tenebrae (Vitiate), were absolutely gigantic (could swallow humans whole), and had considerable powers of their own. These were identified as Colossal Monoliths.

No Caption Provided

Tenebrae (Vitiate) left at least one Colossal Monolith to haunt post-apocalyptic ZIOST to remind potential visitors of the horrors he had unleashed in this world before and consequences of their trespassing:

No Caption Provided

Glimpse of a Colossal Monolith lurking near a gigantic temple in post-apocalyptic ZIOST. Besides being huge and virtually indestructible, it also had the ability to siphon life-force of potential trespassers [1].

[1] Evidence in the following link: https://swtor.jedipedia.net/en/abl/syphon-energy

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Significance

"The demands of the dark side can ravage flesh, but fortunately it is possible to balance the scales by siphoning life from another to bolster your own."

From (Darth Bane, Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side)

Dark side abilities which enable siphoning of the life-force of other living beings, are exceedingly difficult and demanding to employ in offensive capacity. Some of these applications are as follows:

Drain Life Essence

"A delicate procedure that saps the life energy of another and funnels it directly into your own essence. It is extremely difficult to employ in combat and is derived from the teachings of Zelashiel the Blasphemer in the Holocron of Darth Revan."

From (Darth Bane, Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side)

NOTE: Palpatine employed Drain Life Essence to siphon the life-force of the population of planet BYSS to sustain his dark side experiments:

"The galaxy is choked with beings. Billions die every instant. It is better to make use of this resource. At my retreat on Byss, the life force of its colonists supplied an energy pool to sustain my dark side experiments."

From (Palpatine, Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side)

Death Field

"An unstoppable concentration of dark side energy projected from your physical animus in the shape of a sphere. Any living being entering the field will wither into a dry husk. It is sustained by your will, but it will try to consume you as well."

From (Darth Bane, Book of Sith: Secrets from the Dark Side)

NOTE: Inherent risks of employing Death Field in single combat notwithstanding, Darth Bane also had to draw from a nexus of dark side energy for the needful:

Bane extinguished his weapon and stood perfectly still, allowing the swarming horde to close in on him as he gathered his strength. He called upon the power of the temple itself, feeding on it to bolster his own abilities as he created a deadly field around his body. It began as a tight circle, but quickly spread outward until it extended to a radius of ten meters, with the Sith Lord at the center. The air within the circumference of the field suddenly became darker, as if the light from the red sun above had been suddenly dimmed. Cloaked in the shadowy gloom, Bane simply held his ground against the enemy assault. The front ranks of onrushing cultists shrieked in agony as they entered the field, their life essence violently sucked out of their bodies, aging them a thousand years in only a few seconds. Muscles and tendons atrophied instantaneously; their skin withered and shrank, pulling tight across their bones. Eyes and tongues shriveled, turning them into mummified husks before their desiccated flesh crumbled away, leaving only skeletal remains and a few strands of hair.

The effort of creating an aura of pure dark side energy would have quickly exhausted even Bane.

However, as his enemies fell he was able to draw their essence into himself, feeding on their energies to revitalize his fading strength and reinforcing the field in preparation for the next wave of victims.

The mass of cultists continued to charge forward. Those in the middle ranks had seen the fate of their companions and tried desperately to stop. But the momentum of those behind swept them forward into the field to suffer the same agonizing death as those who had already fallen.

Only those at the very rear of the crowd were able to see the danger and pull up in time to save themselves. Of the more than twenty cultists who had attacked him, only a handful were able to save themselves. They stood at a safe distance, hovering on the edge of the deadly field with weapons raised, uncertain how to proceed.

Bane ended their confusion by letting the field drop and drawing his lightsaber. His opponents were too slow and too few to challenge him, and their crude vibro-weapons couldn't even parry his glowing blade. Completely helpless against a superior foe, their mindless devotion to Andeddu still compelled them to attack the invader of the sacred temple. Bane cut them down like dogs.

From (Star Wars: Darth Bane: Dynasty of Evil)

Emphasis mine. Due to Drain-type applications being exceedingly difficult to employ in offensive capacity as well as the inherent risks involved in their use (see above), the pool of Force-users who were able to employ these applications in offensive capacity is very small. Notable practitioners were as follows: Darth Revan; Darth Traya; Darth Nihilus; Lord Draahg; Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor; Vitiate); Darth Bane; Mother Talzin; and Darth Krayt respectively. Darth Bane, in particular, could not manage under normal circumstances (see above).

Others utilized Drain-type applications in relatively PASSIVE ways such as to replenish themselves during the course of a battle (Darth Malak; Lord Kherus; Darth Ikoral), or to fuel their power (Palpatine; Abeloth).

When it comes to employing Drain-type applications to AFFECT a world, the pool of Force-users shrink even further to Darth Nihilus, Tenebrae (Vitiate), Palpatine and Abeloth respectively. Among these, only two Force-users were able to demonstrate a technique to KILL a world and these are/were Darth Nihilus and Tenebrae (Vitiate) respectively (Drain Force implied).

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Consuming techniques (Drain Force)

"It is a technique that is almost as old as the Sith themselves…it is a means of severing connections between life, the Force, and feeding upon the death it causes. It cannot be taught…it can only be gained through instinct, through experiencing its effects, first-hand." - Darth Traya

Please keep in mind the fact that Tenebrae (original) had experienced the effects of Force Drain on his homeworld planet MEDRIAAS back in 4999 BBY:

The Sith Emperor, history's most powerful dark side master, performed a ritual of incredible scope to consume the life energy of every being on his homeworld.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

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The ritual lasted ten days. Lord Vitiate orchestrated the sorcery and the planet Mediraas was consumed by the largest dark side nexus the galaxy would ever see. When the ritual ended, Lord Vitiate emerged as the only survivor. The pain, energy, and suffering of every living entity on the planet fueled his power and would prolong his life for centuries. The lifeless planet of Mediraas became a void in the Force and was erased from history. From that moment forward, the world would forever be known as Nathema, birthplace of the one and only Sith Emperor.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

+

The ancient mechanical entity known as Zildrog has always operated from behind the scenes. Unlike the other "machine gods" of Iokath, Zildrog permanently functions in two forms. The first is a central computer that specializes in the transfer of life energies. Given this device's presence on Nathema, it is likely that Zildrog was a key element of the original ritual Tenebrae used to empower himself at the cost of all life on the planet. Beyond that first atrocity, however, Zildrog's central mind appears to have played no role in Tenebrae's dual life as Vitiate and Valkorion, and slumbered in stasis mode until Vinn Atrius discovered it many years later.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Nathema Conspiracy: Codex Entry titled "Zildrog.")

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Tenebrae (Vitiate) blanketed the surface of ZIOST with an expression of Drain Force which materialized in the form of a Death Field and literally disintegrated/vaporized living beings which touching each as it continued to expand across the surface:

No Caption Provided
No Caption Provided

Darth Nihilus blanketed the surface of Katarr with an expression of Drain Force which materialized in the form of Dark Clouds and produced choking-effect on living beings while the Dark Clouds passed above:

No Caption Provided

Visas Marr was found unconscious on the surface:

No Caption Provided

- which also suggest that Darth Nihilus' expression of Drain Force produced choking-effect on living beings.

Therefore, following statement:

but Ziost represents a clear display of the corrosive power of the dark side of the Force taken to its extreme.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Sith Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Death of a World.")

- is substantiated.

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Cataclysm of ZIOST is NOT a Sith ritual

The Sith Emperor is the most powerful Force-user who has ever existed. Unless this implacable enemy can be defeated, the Jedi Order is doomed.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Encyclopedia)

Some people have attempted to advance the notion on Wookieepedia and other platforms that the CATACLYSM OF ZIOST was the outcome of a SITH RITUAL but this is ERRONEOUS ASSUMPTION. Related discussion in the SWTOR official forum only added to the confusion with select members being guilty of advancing unsubstantiated perspectives in the mix.

FORCE POWERS - The primary means by which a Force user manipulates the Force is not unconscious. A true Force user can deliberately tap into the Force to change and manipulate himself and his surroundings. The Force can allow someone to do things others may see as fantastic or unbelievable: levitating items, blocking blaster shots with one's hands, controlling the minds of others, and even predicting the future.

From (Star Wars: Force and Destiny: Core Rulebook)

Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) lost much of his powerbase during the COLD WAR phase of the Great Galactic War (Star Wars: The Old Republic: the Jedi Knight story arc and the Jedi Consular story arc in combination), and the Sith also attempted to undermine him (Star Wars: The Old Republic: the Sith Warrior story arc; Lord Scourge - the former Emperor's Wrath). Tenebrae breached the Dark Temple and escaped to YAVIN 4 in the form of an intangible presence to recuperate from a series of setbacks he had suffered earlier; Tenebrae's consciousness to be exact.

Thanks in part to a crazy incarnation of Revan (a reanimated corpse to be exact) - who brought WAR to YAVIN 4, Tenebrae's consciousness made extensive use of Drain Life Essence application once again to feed on each instance of death in its surroundings and he reawakened consequently - Tenebrae's consciousness was now strong enough to escape from YAVIN 4 and teleported to ZIOST in an exceedingly violent manifestation of power (Fold Space implied), killing many more in the process (refer back to the Before the apocalypse section of the blog above).

REMINDER: Tenebrae's conscisouness = Tenebrae (Vitiate)

Tenebrae (Vitiate) had decided to abandon the Sith in full capacity by now (refer back to the Tenebrae's exploits on ZIOST were a means to an end section of the blog above), and give a live demonstration to both the Jedi and the Sith of what he could do - an ACE up his sleeve. Enter Drain Force.

Since Tenebrae had experienced the effects beforehand:

"It is a technique that is almost as old as the Sith themselves…it is a means of severing connections between life, the Force, and feeding upon the death it causes. It cannot be taught…it can only be gained through instinct, through experiencing its effects, first-hand."

From (Darth Traya, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords)

- when he regained much of his strength on ZIOST, he decided to consume the world itself.

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ZIDROG had two components in total:

The ancient mechanical entity known as Zildrog has always operated from behind the scenes. Unlike the other "machine gods" of Iokath, Zildrog permanently functions in two forms.

The first is a central computer that specializes in the transfer of life energies. Given this device's presence on Nathema, it is likely that Zildrog was a key element of the original ritual Tenebrae used to empower himself at the cost of all life on the planet. Beyond that first atrocity, however, Zildrog's central mind appears to have played no role in Tenebrae's dual life as Vitiate and Valkorion, and slumbered in stasis mode until Vinn Atrius discovered it many years later.

The second of Zildrog's forms is the ancient warship known as the Gravestone. Though it can be operated by an organic crew when required, the vessel's Dark Heart functions as a remote command core that allows Zildrog to control the ship as an extension of itself.

Ancient Zakuulan myths often confuse or conflate Zildrog and Izax, likely because both entities are aerial platforms employing omnicannon technology. Given the many differences in their construction and operation, it seems likely that they were actually built entirely separately--perhaps even as rival projects carried out in Iokath's endless pursuit of better and deadlier weapons.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: The Nathema Conspiracy: Codex Entry titled "Zildrog.")

ZILDROG did not exist on ZIOST, and no arcane machine is officially identified which was supposedly put to good use by Tenebrae (Vitiate) to his benefit after he invaded ZIOST to REPLENISH himself:

The man now called Vitiate by those who once served him was not strong enough to usurp all life on Yavin 4 after his reawakening. However, he did gain power enough to flee the jungle moon and survive. Now that he has found in Ziost a suitable target to replenish himself--now that he appears to grow more powerful by the hour--what now? When will his unforgiving depletion of Ziost end? And when it does end, what fate will befall the rest of the galaxy?

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Vitiate")

Towards THAT end, Tenebrae's strategy was to use his own immense power in the dark side of the Force to create CONFLICT and expand it across the breath of the planet (Telepathy implied):

Unleashed from his sanctuary on Yavin 4, the former Sith Emperor has now struck the Imperial world of Ziost. Using his immense power in the dark side of the Force, he has dominated the minds of the planet’s Imperial troops--as well as an elite cadre of militaristic Jedi--and has set them against the populace, engaging in a bloody slaughter.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

Tenebrae (Vitiate) was able to feed on the resultant deaths to increase his strength by the hour (Drain Life Essence implied):

Now that he has found in Ziost a suitable target to replenish himself--now that he appears to grow more powerful by the hour--what now?

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Vitiate")

+

Obsessed with achieving immortality, the Sith Emperor has targeted his own former subjects on the planet Ziost, with every death seemingly extending his dark power.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

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Known as the “Gateway to the Empire,” the planet Ziost is in a state of chaos as innocent civilians are targeted by possessed pawns of the Sith Emperor. From the menacing “People’s Tower” in the city’s center to massive armored walkers patrolling for fresh targets, the Sith Emperor’s presence is overwhelming, his power growing with every death… Only you have the strength to stand against him.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Community News titled "Welcome to Game Update 3.2: Rise of the Emperor.")

In-game dialogues (i.e. communications between the protagonists) reinforce aforementioned revelations (refer back to information in the Tenebrae's exploits on the ZIOST were a means to an end section above).

As Tenebrae (Vitiate) became more powerful by the hour, he was able to conjure monsters and unleash them across ZIOST to facilitate his agenda (Sith Sorcery implied):

"We've seen several of those creatures appearing throughout New Adasta. They're made of Sith alchemy. A sign of Vitiate's growing power. Extremely strong, next to impossible to kill. The one which you just defeated is the smallest we've came across." - Lord Lana Beniko

Although:

But Monoliths are something beyond Sithspawn: they are everlasting monstrosities built not on a foundation of living tissue but of dark side energy itself. Enduring and merciless and quite possibly unkillable, Monoliths plainly illustrate the immeasurable power of their creator and are best avoided at all costs.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Monolith.")

Putting the aforementioned into perspective;

THE CYCLE OF GROWTH IN STRENGTH: Tenebrae (Vitiate) was making use of his immense power in the dark side of the Force to possess all manner of living beings and create CONFLICT across ZIOST in order to feed on resultant deaths by his unwitting pawns (multitasking with Telepathy and Drain Life Essence implied), and as his strength continued to increase due to each death, he began to conjure nigh-omnipotent beings of pure dark side energy across the world to facilitate his agenda (Sith Sorcery implied - another addition in the ongoing multitasking effort of dark side abilities to the benefit of the wielder). Tenebrae (Vitiate) adopted this strategy to grow in power at a fast pace on Ziost - this was the point all along.

The protagonists were exploring ways to reduce violence on ZIOST on the other hand. For example:

"You feed on all the deaths you cause. I'm doing everything I can to take that away from you." - Sith Warrior class

Since the protagonists were making evacuations from ZIOST possible by employing arcane electrostatic weapons to break Tenebrae's telepathic hold on his possessed subjects:

No Caption Provided

Therefore, Tenebrae (Vitiate) was left with no choice but to consume ZIOST in one go, and a clear distinction is made in regards to HOW this happened:

Global cataclysms are not unheard of. Whole worlds teeming with life have been rendered lifeless by meteorites, broken apart by instability in the planet's own core--even atomized by the destructive force of a supernova. But the eerie calm of a world stripped of life yet left otherwise intact is another matter altogether. Whispered rumors have persisted of planets snuffed out through intricate Sith rituals or by way of deadly, arcane machines--such as the device Revan sought to employ on Yavin 4--but Ziost represents a clear display of the corrosive power of the dark side of the Force taken to its extreme.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Sith Emperor: Codex Entry titled "Death of a World.")

Use of word but indicate following:

"used to introduce a phrase or clause contrasting with what has already been mentioned." - GOOGLE

"used to introduce an added statement, usually something that is different from what you have said before." - Cambridge English Dictionary (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/but)

Tenebrae's demonstration of consuming ZIOST is clearly distinguished from the intricate Sith rituals and/or by the way of deadly (arcane) machines such as Zildrog (MEDRIAAS) and The Machine Core (YAVIN 4) in writing; Tenebrae's demonstration of consuming ZIOST is a clear display of the corrosive power of the dark side of the Force taken to its extreme (Drain Force implied), with no peer in scale and potency throughout the Star Wars lore.

Tenebrae (Vitiate) was able to feed on the resultant extinction event and draw that energy into himself, revitalizing himself as well as emerging stronger than ever before in the aftermath:

Meanwhile, an older threat still looms: the former SITH EMPEROR, revitalized after annihilating all life on the planet Ziost, has similarly vanished without a trace.

From (Epilogue, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Fallen Empire, Chapter 1)

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"It was a blur. We tried to evacuate as many as we could. Considering so much was out of control, I'd say we did alright...

...but Vitiate is stronger now. Sith Intelligence is in complete disarray. It's all coming apart."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

+

"Especially after Ziost, putting an end to Vitiate's threat seems like an impossible task. I don't believe it truly is impossible. Even if it is were, we have to try."

From (Lana Beniko, Star Wars: The Old Republic: Rise of the Emperor)

+

With each rebirth, he grew stronger. His machinations became grander. The pain and suffering he unleashed became greater. Some believed his ultimate goal was conquest: the complete subjugation of every world, known and unknown. Others believed he sought annihilation: the consumption of every living being in the galaxy, until he alone remained.

From (Star Wars: The Old Republic: Knights of the Eternal Throne: Codex Entry titled "The Fall of Valkorion.")

After abandoning the Sith, and consuming ZIOST (Drain Force implied), Tenebrae (Vitiate) came to be known as Valkorion, and The Immortal Emperor was his Voice to attend to the matters of The Eternal Empire. This was his most powerful incarnation; stronger than he ever was as Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) respectively.

As a reminder;

Tenebrae (Valkorion) >> Tenebrae (The Sith Emperor) >> Darth Vitiate (Governor of Medriaas)

THE BOTTOM LINE

Tenebrae's exploits on ZIOST are not a Sith ritual but demonstrations of his own dark side abilities and 'raw power' with efforts to replenish/revitalize himself in the mix. He was able to consume ZIOST with his own powers and emerged stronger than ever before. Period.

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