Star Wars Lore – The Rakghoul Plague (Legends)
The rakghoul plague was one of the nastiest and deadliest diseases in all of Star Wars. For one, it transformed any being imaginable into a subservient and beast-like mutant. But what made the virus so devastating was its longevity. For thousands of years it tore through the populations of countless planets, whilst forming seemingly unstoppable armies. In fact, the only way to kill such an infection was with mass-destruction...
Infection and Behaviour
Spread primarily through the Sith magic of an ancient but powerful talisman, the rakghoul plague could transform any sentient and non-Force-sensitive being into a mindless slave. Even protective suits designed to withstand bacteria or harmful chemicals were vulnerable to the amulet's mysterious ways. Despite this, however, the plague was further spread through a rakghoul's bite or scratch, and sometimes the smallest of cuts was enough to cause infection. So while Karness Muur's talisman had its limitations, the virus-like side to the disease ensured that no one was safe.
Once infected, the plague rapidly and excruciatingly gripped its victim – causing their body to become twisted, the pigmentation of their skin to whiten like a corpse, and bleeding from the eyes, mouth and skin. Such traits began to manifest anywhere from six to forty-eight hours upon contact with a rakghoul. What's more, the infected soon underwent a body-wide transformation that saw them sprout huge claws, plentiful spikes – and large, sharp, deadly teeth. So horrific was the ordeal that its mental and psychological effects sometimes outweighed its physical implications. For example, a rakghoul's personality, skills, and prior knowledge were entirely forgotten, all while their intelligence was left intact. But given their beast-like behaviour, they were often considered “mindless”.
Thankfully, and contrary to popular belief, the rakghoul plague was in fact curable. Indeed, a serum had been found as early as the Jedi Civil War, and was often carried by troopers of Darth Revan and Malak's Sith Empire. Thousands of years later, however, Cade Skywalker discovered another means of treating the disease – one which involved a deeply rare Force power known as Dark transfer.
The rakghoul plague was first introduced by ancient Sith Lord Karness Muur, who – like so many of his fellow exiles – sought to manipulate life through the dark side of the Force. The culmination of which resulted in his greatest achievement – the rakghouls. As such, he wanted to use the crazed beasts in a bid to conquer the galaxy, although he needed some way to mass-transform regular beings into a loyal and almighty army. Thus, the Muur talisman was born. And soon thereafter, Karness adapted the plague to infect even Force-sensitive and non-sentient life forms. Unfortunately, Muur's lofty ambitions for galactic conquest were swiftly dashed when a jealous rival slew him in cold blood. Yet his spirit lived on inside his trusty amulet. All of his knowledge, his mind, his power became imbued with the talisman, which patiently awaited rediscovery.
After hopping from world to world, Muur's talisman eventually found its way to the Mandalorian-held world of Jebble, where its power soon began to manifest. In fact, so devastating was the outbreak that nuclear missiles had to be deployed in a last-ditch effort to quell the infection. The drastic measure worked to perfection, though the plague lived on elsewhere. The Undercity of Taris was one such location, and was exposed to the talisman long enough to amass hordes of rakghouls in the years leading up to the Jedi Civil War. To be more specific, it was said that over sixty million of the planet's population had been infected, thus forcing the hand of Darth Revan and his Sith apprentice, Malak. The latter of which even went as far to orbitally bombard Taris and its army of rakghouls. It must be said, however, that the Dark Lord had ulterior motives in mind when sacrificing an untold number of civilian lives.
Despite Malak's efforts, the vast majority of rakghouls on Taris were left unscathed, allowing them to wreak havoc for hundreds of years to come. But if that wasn't bad enough, some became exposed to a mixture of chemicals and radiation. This made them stronger and somehow even more mutated. Yet their power paled in comparison to their Force-sensitive subspecies named the nekghouls.
While the rakghouls on Taris were eventually isolated and driven to extinction, the threat of the plague persisted so long as Muur's amulet remained intact. And so, after millennia of trade, a box containing the prized yet deadly artifact resurfaced at the behest of Celeste Morne, who summoned the plague in an effort to defeat Darth Vader. To no surprise, the infection quickly spread to nearby stormtroopers, and was damaging enough to scare off the Sith Lord. Unfortunately, the victory left Morne alone with only her army of rakghouls and the spirit of Muur for company – a fate she maddeningly endured for decades to come.
From that point onward, the plague only continued to grow. And while the Muur talisman was destroyed once and for all by Cade Skywalker, any remaining rakghouls harboured the potential to spread the devastating plague...
Now it's time for this week's question: which disease do you think is worse, the rakghoul plague or the zombie-like Blackwing virus? Let us know in the comments below!