take it from a star wars geek:
the sith were originally an alien species outside the realm of the jurisdiction of the old republic. when the first dark jedi uprising occured roughly 20 millenia prior to the movies, the dark jedi were cast out, and stumbled upon the sith worlds. the sith hailed the dark jedi as gods, and so began the sith empire, where sith magic and the dark side of the force mingled to produce terrifying powers.
after the great hyperspace wars that toppled sith lord naga sadow's power base and exiled the dark lord to yavin 4, and the great sith war that ruined sith lord exar kun's bid for power, the sith tradition remained dormant until roughly 2000 years prior to the movies. the sith species had faded into extinction, so at this time the word sith took on its new meaning, that of a cult dedicated to the dark side. the new sith eventually destroyed each other in their bid for power. the 20 thousand survivors, united under sith lord kaan, established a brotherhood of darkness based on the axiom "rule by the strong". this army was driven back by the army of light under lord Hoth to the planet ruusan, on which seven titanic battles were fought. the sith lost all but two of the battles. kaan then came up with the idea of a "thought bomb", created entirely of the dark side of the force. when hoth and his army came upon the sith, kaan triggered the bomb. the implosion of the bomb sucked all of the spirits of the sith and jedi into a state of undead unrest in the valley of the jedi, only to be liberated by kyle katarn ten years after the battle of endor.
the republic thought that all of the sith were exterminated at this violent battle, but one remained: darth bane. he remade the cult on a two at a time basis: master and apprentice. thus all sith afterwards bear the title of darth.
the end of the sith seemed to come with the deaths of darth maul, darth tyranus, and darth vader. in fact, darth sidious, also known as palpatine, survived in a series of clones, the last of which was destroyed, ironically enough, by han solo, who shot him in the back with a blaster. after him there were no more sith to continue the tradition, but plenty of dark side followers remained in various guises.
marka ragnos was a sith lord of immense physical power, with a frightening grasp of the dark side of the force.
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