- Han Solo: "And what happens when the planet starts up again?"
- Jacen Solo: "Well, with the expansion created by the ice…"
- Leia Organa Solo: "Luke."
- Han Solo: "Get out of here! Get out of here! Full retreat!"
- ―The New Republic forces realize that Helska IV is about to be no more[src]
In 25 ABY, during the initial stages of the Yuuzhan Vong War, forces of the New Republic and the Praetorite Vong fought the Battle of Helska IV on the icy fourth orbital of the Helska system. Upon entering the galaxy from an extra-galactic source, the Praetorite Vong, who were the first units of the Yuuzhan Vong to be used in their invasion, proceeded to establish a base on Helska IV. However, the New Republic learned of the Praetorite Vong's existence after the invaders committed numerous atrocities, prompting a trio of principal New Republic personnel—former smuggler Han Solo, politician Leia Organa Solo, and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker—to assemble a task force whose greatest asset was the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Rejuvenator.
Although the New Republic strike force held the upper hand at first, it was soon beset by thousands of enemy coralskippers that executed maneuvers perfectly with each other due to the telepathic capabilities of the Praetorite Vong's yammosk war coordinator. As a result, the Rejuvenator was soon lost, and the New Republic's forces retreated. However, the New Republic forces soon returned to Helska IV to finish what they had started, using shieldships that they had acquired to focus the yammosk's energy back at the planet and evaporate the ice, which would cool the planet. The plan succeeded, with the low temperatures causing a Mezzicanley Wave, which in turn caused Helska IV to shatter apart and destroy most of the Praetorite Vong forces there. The disastrous outcome for the Praetorite Vong forces at Helska IV ended their invasion of the galaxy, though more Yuuzhan Vong units would soon follow their lead and engage the New Republic.
The Yuuzhan Vong arrive
- "What do we know of that planet?"
"There isn't much in the data banks about the Helska system. There's not an easily inhabitable planet among the seven, and no one's taken the time or trouble to build one up. None of them even have names—just Helska 1 to 7."
- ―Researchers Danni Quee and Garth Breise
In the year 25 ABY—c. 60:5—the Praetorite Vong, the leading forces for an extra-galactic Yuuzhan Vong invasion, arrived in the galaxy. Da'Gara, a Yuuzhan Vong prefect, led the first part of the Praetorite Vong units in a worldship to Helska IV, an icy planet in the Outer Rim Territories. Da'Gara established a base on the world, while his worldship resided in—and partially stuck out of—the icy crust of the planet, since the Yuuzhan Vong had found that the world would be an ideal staging area for their invasion. Meanwhile, Yuuzhan Vong agent Nom Anor kept the bulk of the forces of the New Republic, the galaxy's main government, near the Core Worlds, as he sowed disorder and conflict through manipulation. Soon after arriving at Helska IV, a group of scientists from the Extragalactic Society's research base on the world Belkadan traveled to Helska IV to investigate an extra-galactic object that they had seen entering the Helska system, which was, in fact, the Praetorite Vong's worldship. However, the group was captured, and only the young scientist Danni Quee survived to be taken prisoner. Meanwhile, a Yuuzhan Vong agent on Belkadan released a bioweapon on the world, terraforming it for the invaders' purposes.
Visitors soon arrived at the Praetorite Vong's doorstep once again, this time in the form of the Dozen and Two Avengers, a starfighter squadron led by the Jedi Knights Kyp Durron and Miko Reglia. The squadron had tracked the group of scientists to the Helska system after checking the data of a hyperspace buoy and, when they arrived in the system, were attacked by the yorik-et starfighters–also known as coralskippers–that the Praetorite Vong possessed. Although they at first held their own, the Dozen and Two Avengers were soon cut apart by the alien capabilities of the coralskippers, and all the starfighter pilots but Durron and Reglia were killed. Reglia himself was captured by the enemy.
The Praetorite Vong then attacked the planet Sernpidal, causing its moon Dobido to crash into its surface and destroy the majority of the planet. From there, Da'Gara's forces pursued refugees to the planet Dubrillion, where the New Republic repelled the Yuuzhan Vong with the help of Jedi Knights Jaina Solo, Jacen Solo, and Anakin Solo, along with their parents, former smuggler Han Solo and the politician Leia Organa Solo. In response to the attack, which was actually a probe by the enemy forces, Organa Solo and the other New Republic–affiliated personnel on Dubrillion, such as Solo and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, started to arrange for a counterstrike against the Praetorite Vong forces on Helska IV.
Destination: Helska IV
- "We should go straight to Helska. The Ranger gunships will handle any of the smaller—what did you call them? Coralskippers?—while Rejuvenator takes out whatever base these barbarians have set up. It will be a clean sweep, I assure you, and then we can get on with the more important issues facing the New Republic."
- ―Commander Rojo
Speculating that the enemy must have a base underneath the ice crust of Helska IV, Skywalker planned to take an iceborer to the planet in the underbelly of the small carrier vessel Merry Miner, piloted by his wife, Mara Jade Skywalker, a Jedi Master who was fighting a Yuuzhan Vong–engineered disease. Skywalker intended to penetrate the ice cover in the iceborer and return from his mission before a fleet led by the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Rejuvenator arrived in the Helska system; the Rejuvenator, helmed by Corellian Commander Warshack Rojo, had arrived at Dubrillion shortly after the Praetorite Vong attack there. However, before Skywalker and his wife could execute their plan, Jacen and Jaina took the Merry Miner and its iceborer on the mission themselves, as they did not think the pair of Jedi Masters were the right ones for the task. Shortly after, the fleet itself departed for Helska IV, despite Organa Solo's attempts to make Rojo wait for additional reinforcements.
With Jaina piloting the Merry Miner and Jacen situated in the iceborer, which was housed in a launch tube in the Merry Miner, they reached the Helska system before the task force. Jaina brought the ship near Helska IV by putting the system's sun, Helska, behind them to shield them from enemy view. When the Merry Miner was close enough, Jaina launched the iceborer toward the planet. The iceborer was supposed to make it to the surface without using thrusters to avoid detection by the enemy, but Jacen heard a call through the Force telling him that an individual was in danger on the planetary surface, and he used the borer's thrusters to change his course toward the call's location. This alerted nearby coralskippers to his position, and, though Jacen punched through the ice in his ship with the help of a thermal charge, the Praetorite Vong starfighters tracked its trajectory back to the Merry Miner. Forced to retreat in a defenseless ship, Jaina tried to evade them by using the sun for cover but found herself trapped on the other side of the sun, with coralskippers surrounding her from all directions.
- "This is Rojo. Let's take it right to their home."
- ―Commander Rojo, during the engagement near the Helska sun
The New Republic task force arrived in the system so close to the Merry Miner that it was able to immediately engage the coralskippers that were pursuing it, coming to Jaina's rescue. The task force was composed of the Rejuvenator, six new Ranger-class gunships, a collection of cruisers and starfighters, Skywalker and his wife flying the shuttle Jade Sabre, and Durron leading a starfighter unit. The upgraded freighter Millennium Falcon was also present in the task force, piloted by Organa Solo and her husband, with the craft being gunned by Anakin and entrepreneur Lando Calrissian, who was operating out of Dubrillion. The New Republic forces quickly mopped up the majority of the enemy forces and headed for Helska IV to attack the Praetorite Vong forces there. Meanwhile, Jacen had entered the chilly waters of the planet, wearing a captured Yuuzhan Vong cloaker to shield him from the cold; upon seeing a group of Yuuzhan Vong warriors, who were going after Reglia to torture him in an attempt to break his mind, Jacen joined them because they were going toward the source of the call. Disguised as a member of the warrior caste thanks to the cloaker, Jacen entered a room in the ice crust with them, where he found the prisoners Reglia and Quee. Though Reglia was a Jedi, it was actually the Force-sensitive Quee who had put out the call for help, and Jacen then engaged the warriors in order to free the pair of prisoners.
Knowing that the task force was closing in on Helska IV, Da'Gara sent thousands of coralskippers of various sizes to engage the enemy forces, who were hounding the fighters that he had used to draw the New Republic forces closer to his world. Additionally, the planet was protected by the energy field of the yammosk war coordinator that was on Helska IV, the volcano armaments of the three worldships that the Praetorite Vong possessed, as well as many gravity-manipulating dovin basals. The New Republic task force was suddenly set upon by the multitude of enemy fighters, who were all bound together telepathically by the abilities of the yammosk; the telepathic link allowed the coralskippers to execute brilliant maneuvers and fly better. Two of the Ranger-class gunships were soon destroyed after a Praetorite Vong fighter used a dovin basal to draw all three of them into a collision.
Elsewhere, the rest of the task force was hard-pressed, and the Rejuvenator itself became the main target of the coralskippers and the insect-like grutchins. Rojo called for help from the rest of the fleet, but as they were all otherwise occupied with enemy fighters or unable to reach the Star Destroyer, the Corellian began to bombard Helska IV in retaliation for the continued assault on his ship. The Rejuvenator did not last long, however, and because of the coralskipper-inflicted damage, a volley of magma missiles from volcano cannons that lifted off from the surface of the planet annihilated the Star Destroyer, killing Rojo and the vast majority of on-board personnel. The Star Destroyer's destruction led the task force's leaders to signal a retreat from the system, though the Jade Sabre, the Millennium Falcon, and the Merry Miner attempted a last-ditch effort to extract Jacen from Helska IV before the retreat. During the battle, Jacen had fought off all the warriors with the help of Reglia and Quee, though the former sacrificed himself in order to kill some of the warriors. Afterward, Jacen had managed to get Quee and himself back to the iceborer. The trio of ships coming to rescue Jacen made it near to the surface of Helska IV, and after the iceborer extracted itself from the ice, allowing the Merry Miner to scoop it up in mid-air, all the ships escaped to hyperspace after their allies.
A new plan
- Anakin Solo: "We can shut the volcanoes off. Or at least we can freeze the water around them."
- Han Solo: "How're we going to do that? It's already almost as cold around the planet as it can be."
- Anakin Solo: "Almost. But not quite."
- Luke Skywalker: "Absolute zero? How are we going to do that?"
- Anakin Solo: "Evaporation."
- ―The leaders of the New Republic force formulate a new plan[src]
Soon after leaving the area around Helska IV, the three ships rendezvoused to formulate a plan for eliminating the Praetorite Vong threat. A consensus was reached that it would be possible to freeze the yammosk to death by using shieldships to reflect the yammosk's energy back at the planet; doing so would speed up evaporation on the surface, cooling the planet even further and hopefully achieving a temperature of absolute zero. Shieldships were brought from among Calrissian's collection of technology at Dubrillion and its sister world of Destrillion, and a small task force was assembled from the survivors of the original force. However, some survivors, including the remaining three Ranger-class gunships, opted to stay behind at Destrillion to wait for reinforcements. By launching their attack so shortly after their recent defeat, the New Republic forces aimed to catch the enemy unaware, since the majority of the Praetorite Vong fighters were out looking for the survivors. The task force came in via hyperspace extremely close to the fourth orbital of Helska, and, as a result, one of the cruisers that had come with them and a quartet of starfighters were lost in collisions with each other or the planet itself.
The half-dozen shieldships then took up position around the planet, decreasing their orbit with every rotation as the energy from the yammosk started to be reflected back upon the world. Coralskippers attacked the New Republic forces, and the New Republic starfighters worked to either provide cover for the shieldships or act as decoys. Skywalker also took an X-wing starfighter to act as a decoy, and Da'Gara, who was confused by the small size of the attacking force, readily sent a contingent of fighters to engage it. As the yammosk was unafraid of the shieldships' attempts to reflect its energy, Da'Gara was similarly unconcerned with the shieldships, and he proceeded to call the scattered coralskipper hordes back to Helska IV to defend it and deal the finishing blow to the enemy. By that time, the shieldships's efforts had begun to evaporate the surface of the planet, generating a thick fog and cooling the planet. This same fog aided Skywalker by providing cover as he tried to draw the coralskippers away from the shieldships.
While the Jade Sabre and the Millennium Falcon defended the shieldships, Jade Skywalker, serving as the former ship's gunner, suffered a relapse in her illness that left her unconscious. Because of its lack of a gunner, the Jade Sabre suffered numerous hits despite maneuvering attempts by its pilot, Jaina Solo, and the craft began to descend toward the planet below. Skywalker saved the falling ship, however, as he came underneath the Jade Sabre, flipped his X-wing on its back, and fired his repulsorlifts—thus giving the Jade Sabre the boost it needed to regain control and altitude. Thanks to the shieldships' efforts, Helska IV's atmosphere was becoming increasingly colder, and, though the New Republic forces suffered losses of starfighters and a few shieldships, they soon caught a break. Due to the extreme cold that the evaporation was generating, the yammosk started to lose its control on the coralskippers, and their maneuvers began to cost the Yuuzhan Vong fighters as pilots crashed into one another.
The yammosk had actually entered a deep freeze because the fourth state of matter, known as the Mezzicanley Wave, had been achieved; the planet itself started to slow in its rotations as the fog evaporated completely from the atmosphere. The majority of the coralskippers present in the battle returned to Helska IV, confused by the events and aiming to protect the base. However, the leaders of the New Republic task force realized that the expansion created by the freezing water under Helska IV's ice crust would be disastrous, and they issued a retreat. The New Republic ships had not gone far before the planet exploded as a result of the ice expansion, destroying the majority of the Praetorite Vong forces and killing Da'Gara. Skywalker, who was still in the atmosphere when the Mezzicanley Wave was created, barely managed to escape the destruction in his X-wing.
Following the destruction of Helska IV, New Republic squadrons hunted down the remaining coralskippers that had survived the battle. Because of the Praetorite Vong's defeat, their reputation suffered greatly among the rest of the Yuuzhan Vong species, not to mention the loss of a large portion of their forces. The battle had a negative effect on Jade Skywalker, and her illness gained the upper hand, leaving her weaker. In response to the battle, which became known as the Battle of Helska IV, Organa Solo organized meetings with important officials to warn the galaxy at large of the threat that the Yuuzhan Vong posed, though the governing body of the New Republic chose to ignore it, believing that the Praetorite Vong were the last of the extra-galactic forces. Meanwhile, Nom Anor continued to sow disorder in the form of civil wars, and the main Yuuzhan Vong force soon arrived. They struck again at Dubrillion, this time capturing it, and proceeded to attack the planet Dantooine before engaging New Republic and Imperial Remnant forces at the planet Ithor. From there on, it was an all-out battle for control of the galaxy between the two sides.
Behind the scenes
The Battle of Helska IV first appeared in the novel The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime, written by R. A. Salvatore and published in 1999 as the first installment in The New Jedi Order series. The battle was later mentioned in other books in that series, as well as in The New Jedi Order Sourcebook, released in 2002. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, released in 2008, first identified the battle by name in an entry on the planet Helska IV. The fighting at Helska IV was also mentioned in Daniel Wallace and Jason Fry's The Essential Atlas, released in 2009.
There are a few inconsistences in the sources that mention the Battle of Helska IV. In Vector Prime, the book contradicts itself about the number of cruisers that join the second part of the assault on the planet, as it says only one joined but later has two destroyed during the battle. The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia's Merry Miner entry incorrectly states that the ship was used to launch a warhead, which started the planet's freezing.
- The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime (First appearance)
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Balance Point (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory I: Conquest (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
- The New Jedi Order: Star by Star (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic II: Refugee (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic III: Reunion (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 105 (YUU6, Yuuzhan Vong Incursions)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 135 (YUU6, Yuuzhan Vong)
- The New Essential Chronology (First identified as Battle of Helska IV)
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas
Notes and references
- The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime
- The Essential Atlas
- The battle at Vonak appears in Star Wars: Invasion 0. That issue places the beginning of the Star Wars: Invasion comic series shortly after the events of the The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime novel. As the Battle of Helska IV is the last event in Vector Prime, it must be followed by the Vonak battle.
- Millennium Falcon Owner's Workshop Manual
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. III, p. 90 ("Rejuvenator")
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos I: Hero's Trial
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia, Vol. II, p. 33 ("Helska IV")
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin