- "The time has come at last to take revenge on Asajj Ventress and the witch, Mother Talzin. I have learned Ventress has returned to Dathomir. Go there and wipe the witches out. All of them."
- ―Count Dooku, to General Grievous
The Battle of Dathomir was an engagement in 20 BBY, the third year of the Clone Wars, that resulted in the annihilation of the Nightsisters of Dathomir. Seeking revenge for a previous assassination attempt concocted by his former agent Asajj Ventress and Mother Talzin of the Nightsisters, Count Dooku sanctioned an invasion of Dathomir to eliminate the entire clan of witches. General Grievous led the Separatist Droid Army's assault, bringing a full fleet from the Confederate Navy to strike at Dathomir. After ordering a bombing run to dislodge the Nightsisters from their fortress, Grievous landed with his battle droid troops and dispatched them to besiege the witches' village. Undeterred, Ventress led her fellow warriors on an offensive against the droids, pushing through the jungles to Grievous's position. After the elder witch Daka resurrected the fallen sisters of the Army of the Dead, Ventress took her undead reinforcements to obliterate a Defoliator Deployment Tank sent in by Grievous, then headed directly for the droid landing site.
Arriving at the Separatist landing craft, Ventress challenged Grievous to single lightsaber combat, naming total victory in the battle as the prize. Although nearly defeated in the ensuing duel, Grievous had his battle droids attack Ventress and her army, with the Nightsister retreating from the battlefield after being injured by blaster fire. Meanwhile, Talzin used voodoo magic to set a plague upon Dooku, who was monitoring the battle from his palace on Serenno, to pressure him into calling off his attack. With Dooku unable to defend himself from Talzin's magic, Grievous was ordered to target Talzin instead of Ventress, and he personally led his troops to the Nightsister village's Hidden Cave. Talzin relinquished her magic before escaping, but Grievous's murder of Daka terminated the spell sustaining the Army of the Dead. Without the aid of their zombie sisters, the remaining Nightsisters were outnumbered and massacred. Only Talzin and Ventress evaded slaughter, with the latter leaving the ravaged Dathomir to pursue a newly foretold destiny.
- "You must give up the ways of the Sith and return to our fold. You will leave Dooku's absurd war behind and remain with us. No longer to be ordered about. You will be loyal to no one but your sisters, and yourself."
- ―Mother Talzin, encouraging Asajj Ventress to be baptized as a Nightsister
During the Clone Wars, the Dark Acolyte Asajj Ventress proved herself as an assassin, serving at the side of Count Dooku—Head of State of the Confederacy of Independent Systems and, less publicly, the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Tyranus—in the Separatists' war with the Galactic Republic. When Dooku was ordered to kill Ventress in a demonstration of loyalty to his Sith Master, Darth Sidious, he abandoned his potential Sith apprentice at the Battle of Sullust, leaving her for dead. Returning to her homeworld of Dathomir, Ventress enlisted the aid of her people, the Nightsisters, to exact revenge on Dooku for his betrayal. The coven's leader, Mother Talzin, used her dark magicks to transform a Nightbrother warrior, Savage Opress, who—while secretly under the Nightsisters' control—was gifted to Dooku as a replacement assassin. Ventress then launched her strike, using Opress in her bid to her kill her former Master.
Ventress's scheme for revenge did not go as planned: Opress broke free of her spell and turned on both her and Dooku, while the Sith Lord nearly succeeded in executing her as he had originally intended. Forced into self-exile, Ventress escaped and spent some time reevaluating her life. She returned home to Dathomir in 20 BBY, the third year of the war, in search of sanctuary. Meeting with Talzin in the Nightsister fortress, Ventress conferred with the clan shaman on the subject of her future, as she was uncertain of what to do now that she was no longer Dooku's agent. When Talzin proposed that she leave behind the Clone Wars and the ways of the Sith, Ventress agreed to be baptized as a full Nightsister, beginning a new life with her people.
Having harbored a grudge against Ventress and Talzin since their attempt on his life, Dooku monitored his former apprentice's movements and learned of her return to Dathomir. Dooku summoned General Grievous, the Supreme Commander of the Droid Armies and a rival of Ventress during her service to the Confederacy, to his palace on Serenno and ordered him to exterminate the Nightsister witches before they continued to plot against the Sith Lord. Dooku intended for Grievous's confrontation with Ventress to be yet another test of his general's abilities. Heeding Dooku's orders, Grievous immediately marshaled a massive detachment of the Separatist Droid Army—including droid starfighters, heavy tank artillery, and hundreds of battle droids—onto several C-9979 landing craft, then proceeded to Dathomir with his forces aboard a full fleet from the Confederate Navy.
The invasion of Dathomir
- "We will need an army to fight Grievous."
"I will speak with Old Daka. She will get us the reinforcements we need."
- ―Asajj Ventress and Mother Talzin, resolving to awaken the Army of the Dead
Grievous commanded his fleet of four Munificent-class star frigates, two Recusant-class light destroyers, and a pair of Separatist supply ships from his flagship, a Providence-class carrier/destroyer. Upon exiting hyperspace in the Dathomir system, Grievous ordered his crew of OOM security battle droids to launch the invasion, beginning with landing their troops on Dathomir. En route to the surface aboard one of the flotilla's six deployed C-9979 landing craft, Grievous sent an advance squadron of Vulture droid starfighters and Hyena-class bombers to force the Nightsisters from their fortress, where the witches were currently holding a feast to celebrate the baptism of Ventress. Hearing the approach of the incoming starfighters from the skies, the Nightsisters took cover as the bombers attacked their home, scattering for cover from the bombing runs. While his droid squadron was strafing the fortress, Grievous landed to the west in a forest clearing, establishing a perimeter and then deploying his battle group in attack formation. Armored Assault Tanks and lines of B1-Series battle droids disembarked from the landing craft, while Multi-Troop Transports deployed squads of B2 super battle droids, all of them heading to assault the Nightsisters at their fortress. As the battle droids marched through the jungle, a squadron of Hyena-class bombers and droid tri-fighters continued to besiege the stronghold, targeting the supports of the village entrance.
One of the supports fell on the Nightsister Karis, and though Ventress levitated the beam away with the Force, she was unable to prevent her comrade from dying. In spite of her distress that she had brought Dooku's attention to Dathomir, Ventress was left with no time for regret, as the battle droids reached the fortress shortly thereafter. Using one of the fallen supports as cover from the droid blaster fire, the Nightsister warriors took up their trademark energy bows against the invaders, while Talzin used her magic to summon a protective bubble and unleash her brand of lightning upon the droids. Recognizing that they were vastly outnumbered, Ventress stated that they would need an army to withstand the enemy invasion. Talzin agreed to speak with the elder witch Old Daka to assemble the needed reinforcements. Leaving Talzin to raise their reserves, Ventress activated her lightsabers and took up command of her fellow warriors, spearheading an offensive to drive back the droids. Organizing a multilevel strike, Ventress had some of her comrades take to the trees to rain energy arrows upon the droids from above, while she led the ground push against the eastern front of the invading army, hundreds of droids strong.
Behind the Separatist forward lines of B1 and B2 battle droids came BX-series droid commandos, intended to strike down any survivors of the advance forces' firepower. The Nightsister archers were able to shoot down several droid commandos before the latter reached their vantage point in the trees, while other warriors on the ground cut through the B1, B2, and BX-series battle droids with daggers. The Nightsister Luce stole two droid commandos' E-5 blaster rifles after they destroyed her energy bow, gunning down her attackers in quick succession. Ventress held her own against the Separatist troops, making quick work of her droid adversaries with her lightsabers. Supervising his battle group's progress from one of the landing craft at the deployment site, Grievous received reports that Ventress was leading the Nightsisters' assault and elected to send in a Defoliator Deployment Tank, which housed an experimental Defoliator cannon that would raze organic material to the ground without harming mechanics, such as his droid troops. Once it reached the battle zone with an escort of four Armored Assault Tanks, the Defoliator Deployment Tank launched several warheads, claiming the lives of a number of Nightsisters and forcing the rest to take cover from the burning carnage, with no cover left for the witches to escape the droids' blaster fire.
At that moment, the Nightsisters' reinforcements arrived in the form of the Army of the Dead. Sustained by Daka's Chant of Resurrection, the deceased sisters were reanimated as zombies, arriving to aid Ventress to push back the Separatists. The undead sisters mindlessly ripped through the Separatists' ranks, smashing through everything in their path. Their arrival gave Ventress the opportunity to press her attack against Grievous and his droid army.
Massacre of the Nightsisters
"Hardly. You're the one I was sent here for."
"Then fight me alone. Prove you're the greater warrior. If I win, your army leaves. If you win, the Nightsisters will surrender to you."
"I have always been greater than you."
- ―Asajj Ventress and General Grievous
Bolstered by the numbers of the Army of the Dead, Ventress resolved to use her reinforcements to clear a direct path to Grievous's landing site. She and several other warriors commandeered an Armored Assault Tank whose droid pilot had fallen to the zombie ranks, using the tank's heavy laser cannon to destroy the Defoliator Deployment Tank. With the Undead Army clearing the way through the droids, Ventress and the Nightsisters reached the deployment site aboard their stolen tank, abandoning it to push toward the landing craft. Once Ventress arrived, Grievous disembarked from his ship with several IG-100 MagnaGuard bodyguards, ordering his battle group to hold position while Ventress issued similar orders to the Nightsisters. With their respective armies holding their distance, Ventress met Grievous in the no-man's land and challenged him to single combat, dictating that the victor of their lightsaber duel would triumph over the loser's faction—victory for Grievous would secure a Nightsister surrender, while Ventress's success would force the Separatist Droid Army to depart from Dathomir. The two longtime rivals began to duel, engaging in saberlock after saberlock as Ventress employed her dual lightsabers against Grievous's four.
At one point, Grievous kicked Ventress backward, but the Nightsister responded with a furious attack, relentlessly battering at her adversary's defenses until she landed a blow on the cyborg and severed one of his arms. Yet despite being bested, Grievous ordered his battle droids to kill Ventress, forcing her to direct her attention to deflecting enemy fire. As all-out fighting erupted on the battlefield between the Separatists and the Nightsisters, one laser shot slipped through Ventress's blades, hitting her in the shoulder and providing Grievous an opportunity to exploit her momentary distraction. Before he could execute her, a horde of Nightsister zombies intervened, attacking the cyborg general while Ventress stumbled out of his range. Luce attempted to help her to safety but was fatally shot in the back by a battle droid, which Ventress Force-pushed away. After Luce died, Ventress—having seen so many comrades fall that day—retreated from the battleground and into the jungle, abandoning her coven. Meanwhile, Talzin joined Daka in the village's Hidden Cave, employing voodoo magic to inflict a plague on Count Dooku, who was holographically monitoring the battle from his palace on Serenno, in an effort to force him to cease his assault. Although Dooku refused to yield to her demands, he was unable to defend himself from Talzin's magic and thus contacted Grievous via hologram to relay new orders, as Talzin was intent upon killing the Sith Lord.
Receiving Dooku's holotransmission, Grievous was told to eliminate Talzin, his clue to finding her being that the witches' magic manifested itself as green mist. Relaying their new target of Talzin to his forces, Grievous led the march to the Nightsister fortress, pressing through the warriors and zombies guarding the village. While the remaining Nightsisters mounted a defense of their home, Grievous proceeded to the Hidden Cave with a squad of battle droids. He had one of his droid commandos blast through the cave's wall with an RPS-6 rocket launcher, exposing Talzin and Daka inside. After Grievous killed Daka, the spell sustaining the Army of the Dead was severed, leaving the Nightsister warriors without their undead comrades. The few Nightsisters still defending the village were massacred by the battle droids, who carried out the onslaught without hesitation. Grievous then turned on Talzin, who summoned her magic to teleport away from his lightsaber attack and the droids' blaster fire. Nevertheless, Grievous knocked over the cauldron that had been maintaining her voodoo magic, subsequently ending Dooku's torture.
- "What… happened here? Where are the rest of the sisters?"
"Dooku sent his minions to destroy us, but we will survive. We always have."
- ―Savage Opress and Mother Talzin
The Battle of Dathomir resulted in a victory for the Confederacy, with all of the Nightsisters killed save for Ventress and Talzin. As part of its mopping-up operations, Grievous's droid infantry destroyed the Raider, a GS-100 salvage ship that Ventress had acquired in the aftermath of the Battle of Sullust. Alone in the forest, Ventress experienced a vision of Talzin and learned of their clan's slaughter, while also being told of a new destiny by the clan mother. Once again forced into exile, Ventress left to pursue her newly foretold destiny, wandering through the Outer Rim Territories and ending up on the desert planet Tatooine. There, she became involved with a group of mercenaries led by the young bounty hunter Boba Fett and accompanied them on a job on the planet Quarzite.
Talzin, meanwhile, remained on-world, aiding Savage Opress from afar in his search for his long-lost brother, the Sith Lord Darth Maul. Despite the decimation of her clan, she believed that the Nightsisters would survive, as had been the case throughout their history. When Grievous and the Separatist Droid Army departed from Dathomir, they left behind the remains of their droid forces, with the wreckage of Separatist troops and vehicles scattered amidst the corpses of the Nightsisters. It was in that state that Opress found the derelict Nightsister fortress when he brought Maul to be healed by Talzin.
Behind the scenes
- "Rest assured, the Nightsisters will not go down without a fight. Prepare yourselves for the Battle of Dathomir."
- ―Leland Chee, via Twitter
The Battle of Dathomir was created for the Star Wars: The Clone Wars television series and was featured in the episode "Massacre," which aired on February 24, 2012 as part of the series' fourth season. Asajj Ventress's duel with General Grievous, one of the central parts of the battle, was previewed prior to then in September 2011 as part of a promotional trailer for the season. The battle was officially named by Leland Chee, the Keeper of the Holocron continuity database, in a tweet on Twitter.com. Besides advancing the series' portrayal of Ventress, the battle opened the season's four-part finale story arc. In December 2012, StarWars.com ranked the Battle of Dathomir as the third most memorable moment of the television series from 2012.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Massacre" (First appearance)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Bounty" (In flashback(s))
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Brothers" (Indirect mention only)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Revenge" (Indirect mention only)
Notes and references
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: Episode Guide
- Star Wars Character Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Bounty"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Massacre"
- The Official Star Wars Fact File Part 57 (DEN1–2, Dengar) dates "Bounty" to 20 BBY. Since "Massacre" takes place shortly before "Bounty," it can be concluded that "Massacre" also takes place in 20 BBY.
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Nightsisters"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Monster"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Witches of the Mist"
- The Official Star Wars Fact File Part 13 (GRI2, Grievous' Cybernetic Body)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars: What Is a Sith Warrior?
- The Official Star Wars Fact File Part 78 (VUL2, The Vulture's Claw)
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Brothers"
- Star Wars: The Clone Wars – "Revenge"
- "Launch Pad"—Star Wars Insider 131