The Nihil are the main villains of the High Republic era. While they aren’t Force users, they’re still extremely dangerous. It would be apt to call them space marauders. Even space Vikings because of their ability to appear seemingly out of nowhere and to plunder at will.

The Nihil have a code and a hierarchy, to which they mostly adhere, but it’s the chaos they cause that defines them. To an outsider, they’re nothing more than a roving band of attackers. A nuisance with the temperament of wild dogs. And like wild animals, the Nihil always upset societal order wherever they go. They insert themselves into the daily lives of citizens and ruin whatever goodness they have going on. The Nihil steal. They destroy. They’re usually out to kill. As well as enslave. All that before packing up and disappearing again.

The Nothing of It All

Various looks of the Nihil.

The Nihil came from nothing. As such, they embrace the bleakness of the galaxy. It’s in their nature to expect nothing. Only to earn what they’re willing to take. Forged on the fringes of the Core, far from the center of Jedi and Republic worlds, the Nihil preach independence. They don’t like outsiders meddling in what they consider to be their territory. Thus, when the Jedi and the Republic begin to explore the Outer Rim, a confrontation becomes inevitable.

Yet, the Nihil aren’t mustachioed villains. They aren’t easily grouped. Unlike other Star Wars baddies, their evil has nuance. With a core belief that isn’t based solely on religion or greed, they have a structure that is more meritocratic. As such, humans are welcome, along with aliens. Their front line soldiers — along with their leaders — are men, women, and even children. When someone joins, that someone isn’t judged on who they are or what they look like, but what they can accomplish for the organization. Because of that, advancements can be quick. And sudden. Especially at the lower levels, where placement is fluid and full of possibilities.

The Nihil are divided into three arms called Tempests. At the head of each Tempest is a leader, called a Tempest Runner. Within each Tempest are subgroups named Storms, Clouds, and Strikes. Each of the subgroups has leaders and members who raid together. Generally they rise and fall as a group but because of the nature of their marauding, not every member of every group makes it home. Thus, upward mobility. The style and culture of each Tempest is derived from the Runner. Because of that, each Tempest can act and appear quite different from the other two.

Appearances Are Everything

The fear and chaos of a Nihil raid.

The Nihil, though, have a common aesthetic. They wear armor, helmets, and use a variety of weapons, but their defining look comes in the form of masks. Every member is equipped with a mask and every mask is different, acting as an extension of individual personality. While the masks induce fear and shield the Nihil from recognition, they also serve the purpose of filtration. Because the Nihil employ poisonous gases and chemicals at the start of every raid, the masks allow their members to strike without compromise.

Their look, however, doesn’t stop at the personal level. The ships the Nihil use are likewise distinct. They’re made up of various components and pieces that are patched together to form a monstrous whole. Because each ship isn’t uniform, it can be attached or detached at will. This allows the Nihil to create single capital warships in battle or break off into swarms of smaller ships. Such flexility is extremely hard to counteract, giving the Nihil the tactical advantage in most encounters.

Like the gas they use, which adds to the fear and chaos, the Nihil employ ion weapons. They use specialized bursts that are able to break down most deflector shields within a couple of shots. The bursts are bluish white and come off looking like lightning. Which, of course, only adds to the mystique of their attacks and plays into their storm iconography.

Leading the Nihil to Infamy

Nihil leadership

While there are three Tempest Runners (Lourna Dee, Kassav Milliko, and Pan Eyta), the leader of the entire group is Marchion Ro. Dubbed the Eye of the Nihil, Marchion inherited the position when his father was murdered. However, not one to shrink from an opportunity, Marchion took no time reforging the mantle of leadership. Binding the Runners to him by using the voting system to his advantage, Marchion continued his father’s work and his families ultimate goal. The destruction of the Jedi Order.

Striking first in hyperspace, using specialized technology and secret pathways, Marchion orchestrated the Great Disaster. It was an epic calamity. One that nearly wiped out an entire planetary system. As it was, the attack killed millions and forced ships out of hyperspace all the way to Coruscant. But Marchion and the Nihil were just getting started. Next they struck at the Valo Republic Fair, very nearly killing the chancellor.

Yet, their greatest attack was their latest. One that carried familial purpose. The destruction of Starlight Beacon. Starlight was a space station, built to serve the Outer Rim on behalf of the Republic and Jedi. It was a symbol of all the goodwill they meant to spread. Instead, it became a fiery example of how much chaos the Nihil can rain across the galaxy.

Nihil Origins

The origins of the Nihil

As we learned in Phase Two of the High Republic, the Nihil began many years before Marchion. Or his father. They began with the most unlikely of activists in the most unlikely of positions. With a downtrodden Evereni named Marda. Beginning not as a cutthroat organization bent on destruction and chaos but as a cult.

Emerging from the Path of the Open Hand, the Nihil started as a counter group to what Marda had experienced. Yet, the early Nihil took from the Path a hatred of Jedi and a disillusionment with Republic ideals. Dissatisfied with how the galaxy was being forced to bend the knee, the Nihil pushed back. First in very personal ways but later in ways that not even the Republic or Jedi could ignore.

While the Nihil are likely to disband and turn on one another in a ravenous feast for power, its origins and cause speak to something. An aspect of Outer Rim life that the Republic and Jedi won’t grasp until it’s too late. Certainly we know both those groups will be felled by the Sith. Yet, their true downfall begins here. Against the Nihil and the chaos of the masses.

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