In the spirit of Halloween season, StarWars.com examines this creepy cult that looked to replicate the Force through technological terrors!
Star Wars Inside Intel is a StarWars.com feature where Lucasfilm’s Emily Shkoukani, whose job is to know as much about a galaxy far, far away as possible, explores obscure facts about Star Wars lore and continuity. In this creepy installment for Halloween season, Emily takes a look at a mysterious cult of Force worshippers...
First mentioned in Marvel’s Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #15 in the story “War of the Bounty Hunters: Party Favors,” the Ascendant was a Force cult existing long before the Skywalker Saga, sometime during the Sith’s reign. Known for their wicked technology, the Ascendant were eventually eliminated by Sith and Jedi alike, who feared the devices conjured by the cult.
There are two things that define the Ascendant: technology and the occult. The Ascendant were not Force users but Force fanatics, obsessed with replicating the effects of the dark side in similar ways to how the Sith used it, and beyond. To do this, the Ascendant used clever tricks, technology, dark sciences, and rituals to achieve this mimicry of the Force.
One such technology was the thought dowser, a device capable of amplifying the wielder's thoughts in order to persuade another being to do whatever they wanted. Using a special material to amplify the user’s thoughts, the thought dowser was effective and, although the Sith were generally wary of the Ascendant, they were known to use this type of technology to aid their apprentices in honing their innate abilities.
Another device created by the Ascendant was the calling glove, an apparatus fitted on a user’s hand that used magnets to mimic telekinetic abilities such as levitating, pushing, and/or pulling objects. Kho Phon Farrus, a corrupted archaeologist who lived during the Galactic Civil War, felt a connection to the long gone Ascendant, as they too felt deserving of the powers of the Force. Kho successfully sourced a calling glove and used it against Doctor Aphra and Sana Starros, who were similarly looking for Ascendant artifacts. Some key artifacts remaining included a calling glove and a thought dowser, and the most precious technology to the Ascendant, the Spark Eternal.
The Spark Eternal
During their time, the Ascendant was led by a Chadra-Fan named Miril, and operated out of a temple on Bar’leth, also known as the “Tomb of the Spark Eternal.” Within this temple was an inner sanctum called the “Undying Heart” where the Ascendant crafted their wicked technologies in hopes of copying the dark side of the Force. Sometime after the fall of the Ascendant, the University of Bar’leth was built atop the ruins of their temple. Chair of Occult Archaeological Studies at the university, Iglan’tine Nos was another Ascendant-obsessed scholar during the Galactic Civil War. Although it took her decades, Sava Nos discovered the temple and unlocked the Undying Heart through study and replicating Ascendant rituals. She knew the Spark Eternal rested in the Undying Heart.
The Spark Eternal was an artificial intelligence created by Ascendant leader Miril. She determined that the most effective way to use the various Ascendant devices was to combine both mind and power via the A.I. To activate the A.I., one must translate an ancient Ascendant poem and complete the ritual it details at the precise location.
With the promise of “laying death to rest,” the ultimate power to some, this created a race for the Spark Eternal and culminated in a showdown in the Undying Heart between Sava Nos, Kho Phon Farrus, Sana Starros, and Doctor Aphra. To unlock the power of the Spark Eternal, the group completed the ritual that consists of three individuals spilling their blood in pools around the sanctum. With a punch to the face, Farrus bled into one pool while Aphra was attacked by Nos, and bled into another. Nos finished the ritual by cutting her own hand and bleeding into the last pool, awakening the Spark Eternal. On a plinth in the center of the sanctum, a red spark conjured the Spark Eternal.
In her arrogance, Aphra grabbed the Spark Eternal, believing she could wield the technology, only to be pierced through the chest by the Spark. The others quickly learned the Spark’s true capabilities as it resurrected Aphra’s body and claimed itself to be “Eternity.”
What else is the Spark Eternal capable of? What other Ascendant technology is out there? As of this writing, Doctor Aphra’s fate remains unknown...