- "Page's Commandos have done it again."
- ―Syla Tors after Page's Commandos deactivate Kal'Shebbol's defense shield
The Battle of Kal'Shebbol was fought between forces loyal to Moff Kentor Sarne and the New Republic in 8 ABY. With the New Republic actively looking to neutralize the threat of the various post–Endor Imperial warlords, it turned its attention to Moff Sarne, ruler of the backwater Kathol sector. Rumors had reached the New Republic that Sarne was in possession of dangerous, exotic weapons, so an operation was mounted to remove him from power and liberate his capital, the planet Kal'Shebbol. However, a prolonged campaign against the Moff's holdings was out of the question, as the New Republic's military was thinly stretched. A quick strike—consisting of a commando raid to disable the defense shields while a task force engaged Sarne's fleet—was authorized.
Elements of Page's Commandos, led by Lieutenant Judder Page, infiltrated the planet ahead of the main assault force. Proceeding to the Imperial Government Complex, the team accessed the base and discovered that Sarne had a Carrack-class light cruiser hidden in an underground hangar as an escape vehicle. Reasoning that the hangar would contain controls for the defense shield, Page split his force. Page would lead a team to the hangar to shut off the shield and potentially capture Sarne, while the other team would rescue any prisoners in the complex's detention center. As Page and his commandos neared the hangar, they were incapacitated by Sarne, who used against them several of the alien artifacts that were the source of the rumors regarding exotic technology. Sarne used the diversion to escape the planet on board the light cruiser, although a member of Page's team, Keleman Ciro, managed to disable the defense shields after recovering from the artifact's effects.
In orbit, Sarne ordered his forces to retreat, fleeing into the depths of the Kathol sector. The New Republic task force completed its liberation of Kal'Shebbol, installing a governor to look after the interests of the population. With Sarne still at large and in possession of dangerous technology, the New Republic authorized the CR90 corvette FarStar to proceed into the Kathol sector to track down the rogue warlord and eliminate any threat he posed.
In 8 ABY, the New Republic was prosecuting the war against the remnants of the Galactic Empire and was attempting to bring to heel the various Imperial warlord factions that had sprung up in the aftermath of the Battle of Endor. Following successful campaigns against both Ysanne Isard and Zsinj, the New Republic received intelligence that one warlord, Moff Kentor Sarne, had recently gained access to a potent new form of weapons technology. While some senior officials dismissed the intelligence as rumors, the New Republic could not afford to take the risk and planned to neutralize the Moff before he had a chance to fully use the weapons. However, Sarne ruled the Kathol sector, a backwater area of space in the Outer Rim Territories that he had quietly withdrawn from the Empire following Emperor Palpatine's death at Endor in 4 ABY. Sarne had already made several incursions into the neighboring Minos Cluster, capturing territory despite being outnumbered, and it was suspected that the new weapons technology gave his forces an edge in battle. The New Republic managed to push Sarne out of the Minos Cluster. With many other threats to deal with, the New Republic planned a quick strike against the Moff's capital of Kal'Shebbol. New Republic officer Cal Alder, a native of Kal'Shebbol and veteran of the Battle of Hoth, assisted in the planning of the operation.
During his time in charge of Kal'Shebbol, Sarne had turned the planet's sole continent into a virtual fortress. An energy shield protected it from orbital attack, and weapon emplacements, including anti-orbital turbolasers and ion cannons, provided an effective defense. Although a concentrated assault would have eventually worn down the defenses, the New Republic could not afford to mount a lengthy campaign against the planet. Instead, the decision was made to send in a Special Forces team to infiltrate Sarne's headquarters and disable the defenses to allow the task force assigned to the liberation to capture the planet. Elements of Page's Commandos, under the command of Lieutenant Judder Page were selected for the assignment. While the main commando force would make their insertion to Kal'Shebbol concurrent with the arrival of the New Republic task force, pathfinder Lilla Dade was inserted into the planet three days prior to assault.
During her scouting forays of the government complex, Dade encountered Kl'aal, a Defel who lived on the planet, and recruited him to help her. She also discovered an entrance into the base—a large meters-wide hole that directly accessed an armored tunnel. The hole had apparently been created by a powerful cutting torch that had sliced through the tunnel, destroying the roof and exposing it to the outside. Dade had heard rumors that it had been caused by an experiment that had gone wrong; the hole was the result of a test that Sarne's staff had conducted with one of the DarkStryder artifacts that were the source of the intelligence about advanced weaponry in the Moff's possession. Known as a Firespray module, the device created a wall of fire that could cut through any known material. During the test, the two technicians that had been testing the module had recoiled from the artifact's discharge, causing it to roll over them, killing the pair of them and cutting the large hole in the roof of the tunnel.
- "Nice job, Tors."
"Thank you, Lieutenant. You weren't wanting this thing to fly again, were you?"
"Apparently not. Anyone hurt?"
- ―Syla Tors and Judder Page, following their crash landing
Page's Commandos entered the system ahead of the main New Republic task force, using a Ghtroc Industries Class 720 freighter to masquerade as a merchant vessel. Blending in with the normal civilian traffic, the strike force waited for the arrival of the task force. When it arrived, the Ghtroc freighter was directed to a groundside landing field along with other traffic to allow the planetary defenses to be activated and directed against the New Republic forces. While the freighter initially followed the other civilian vessels, it soon broke off from its proscribed course and headed toward the Imperial Government Complex. On approach, personnel in the complex soon became aware of the freighter's detour and targeted the ship with an Atgar 1.4 FD P-Tower located on the perimeter. The blast sheared through the starboard repulsorlifts, sending the freighter tumbling toward the ground. The pilot, Syla Tors, managed to wrestle the craft into a crash-landing, skidding through grassland and shrubberies before slicing through the complex's perimeter death fence.
Exiting the downed freighter, Page ensured that his team—including Sergeant Keleman Ciro, Kaiya Adrimetrum, Gottu, and Vandro—were unharmed while Tors set a booby trap on the wreck, rigging the ship to explode when Imperial forces came to investigate. Ciro was concerned that Dade was not there to meet them, although Page reminded him that they were not exactly on target with their landing. When Dade still did not materialize, Page considered heading off on the mission without her, just in case she had been captured by Imperial forces in the last few days. However, a voice from the darkness inquired as to whether or not he was Lieutenant Page. The voice belonged to Kl'aal, the Defel that Dade had recruited during her initial scouting forays. After Kl'aal provided Page with the proper password that confirmed he was allied with Dade, the Defel led the commandos to her position. They rendezvoused with the pathfinder, who showed them the entrance to the armored tunnel that she had discovered. As they speculated on what had created the hole, the booby trap that Tors had left in the freighter went off, alerting the commandos to the possibility of Imperial forces at their backs. Page ordered the commandos into the tunnel.
Page and the commandos proceeded down the armored tunnel, keeping their glowrods turned down to a minimum and remaining vigilant for traps. They reached the end of the tunnel without triggering any alarms, finding a nexus control room with five Imperial personnel on duty. With the element of surprise on their side, the commandos eliminated the five Imperials and secured the control room. Sergeant Ciro, the group's computer expert, immediately went to work, slicing into the complex's mainframe and pulling up schematics of the installation to locate the main energy shield control room. The blueprints indicated that the control room was halfway across the complex from their current location. While Page mused that he was hoping for something a little more convenient, Ciro located a hangar that contained a Carrack-class light cruiser that Sarne was maintaining as an emergency escape vehicle. Realizing that the hangar also had to have a control for the energy shield to allow the vessel to launch in an emergency, Page decided to head for the hangar instead of the main energy shield control room. Page split his force; while he would lead Ciro, Vandro, and Tors to the hangar, Adrimetrum—along with Gottu, Dade, and Kl'aal—was tasked with heading to the detention center and freeing any captives.
Assaulting the complex
- "Maintain all defenses. And tighten security around all critical operation centers. I want that Rebel team found and neutralized."
- ―Moff Kentor Sarne issuing orders to his staff
In the command center of the complex, Moff Kentor Sarne observed status boards and monitors as the New Republic task force engaged his orbital fleet and began assaulting his energy shield. When word reached him that a Special Forces team had infiltrated his base, Sarne decided it was time to leave. The New Republic task force had his defense force outmatched, and the power generators for the shield were straining with the effort of repulsing the fleet's firepower. Not wanting the New Republic to get its hands on the DarkStryder artifacts, Sarne issued orders to his staff to continue fighting, knowing that they would fight until captured or killed and give the Moff the time he needed to escape. Rendezvousing with several of his personal guard and a pair of stormtroopers, he ordered two of them to head to the main database computer to initiate his Omega order five, a contingency plan to wipe all computer records in the complex, including personnel files and navigational data. The rest he ordered to accompany him to his personal quarters, where they recovered a chest of DarkStryder artifacts before heading through a secret doorway into a tunnel that led to the underground hangar containing his escape ship.
Sarne and his escort headed down the tunnel, keeping an eye out for the Republic Special Operations team. Reaching the Carrack-class light cruiser—the Ambition—Sarne prepared to board the vessel. However, one of his guardsmen heard movement in the tunnel behind them; Page's team had entered the secret passage through another secret doorway located in Sarne's office. Sarne's escorts arranged themselves in a defensive position, ready to engage the incoming force, but they had no cover in the smooth-sided tunnel. Sarne retrieved one of the DarkStryder artifacts from the chest—a Firespray module—and used the expanding flame wall that it created to cut meter-wide recesses in the floor, walls, and ceiling. While four of his escort took up position in the recesses he had created, Sarne ordered two of them to grab the chest and head for the Ambition. Despite the Imperials' advantage of cover, the four Republic commandos managed to kill two of them in their opening volley. Realizing that his chances of reaching the Ambition were slipping away, Sarne used a second DarkStryder artifact. Called a Mindwarper module, it emitted a pale mist that caused anyone caught within it to become disorientated or to fall unconscious. The commandos were caught in the field, dropping to the floor. With the opposition incapacitated, Sarne and his remaining escort boarded the Ambition.
In the detention cells, Adrimetrum's team began releasing Sarne's prisoners, including the Wookiee Lofryyhn—who had served in the same Rebel unit as Adrimetrum before being captured by the Sabiador Slavers—and Jessa Dajus, a former Imperial Intelligence agent who claimed to be a shuttle pilot for the Moff. Dajus, who was Force-sensitive but unaware of her heritage, sensed danger within the cell blocks when the commandos began shooting out the cell locks to free the prisoners and warned Adrimetrum. Upon further checking, it was found that at least one of the cell locks was rigged with an explosive device to destroy the detention block if tampered with. With no time to check every single cell for booby-traps, Adrimetrum was forced to leave the rest of the prisoners locked up and ordered her team to head to Moff Sarne's escape hangar.
As Page and his commandos recovered from the effects of the Mindwarper module, they rushed to the hangar containing the Carrack-class cruiser. Two Imperial troopers attempted to stop them from entering the hangar, but Vandro fired a grenade from his Viper grenade launcher, eliminating the threat. As the smoke and light from the explosion cleared, the commandos found that the light cruiser was already in motion; the roof of the hangar had been blown off, and the vessel was ascending into orbit. Ciro moved to a computer terminal in the hangar, confirming that it was a secondary control for the energy shield that had been timed by Sarne to allow the cruiser to pass through, then reactivate. Using a handheld beamdrill, Ciro managed to freeze the control circuits in the "open" position, preventing the shield from raising again.
In orbit, Sarne marshaled his forces and ordered a withdrawal from the system. The Imperial fleet managed to escape into the Kathol sector without leaving a traceable hyperspace vector. With the shield down and no opposition, the New Republic task force pressed its advantage and liberated the planet. During the fighting, however, a mistargeted New Republic concussion missile destroyed Brophar Tofarain's repair yard and damaged several other parts of Kal'Shebbol starport.
- "If you ask me, the whole story sounds like standard Outer Rim nonsense. Or else deliberate Imperial misinformation."
"It's not misinformation, Sir. I've seen the weapons first hand."
- ―The task force admiral and Lieutenant Page, after the liberation of Kal'Shebbol
The New Republic took over the Imperial Government Complex, turning it into their own headquarters and appointing an Elomin named Monjai as the governor of the planet. Although the battle was a New Republic victory, Sarne's escape with a large portion of his forces was a worry to some officers, including Lieutenant Page. In addition, Sarne had fled with examples of the exotic technology that he had employed against Page's Commandos, and—before his departure—had initiated a complete purge of the computer databanks in his headquarters. Personnel records, military files, and even surveys and starcharts of the Kathol sector had been erased, hampering the New Republic, which now had no idea of what lay beyond Kal'Shebbol. Page lobbied the admiral of the orbiting task force for resources to send after Sarne, but a situation in the Bozhnee sector meant that the task force was to move on in a few days, and there were no ships that could be spared.
A meeting between Page and Imperial officer Jessa Dajus—who claimed to be a victim of the Moff's "loyalty purges"—revealed the location of a secret dock in the Sorbiss Valley where a CR90 corvette named Renegade was undergoing an extensive refit. Recovering the vessel, Page received authorization to assemble a crew for the vessel and dispatch it after Sarne with the intent of locating and neutralizing him. Due to fact that the New Republic's assets were thinly stretched, Page was forced to assemble a crew with a mixture of New Republic personnel and civilians drawn from Kal'Shebbol's population. Renaming it the FarStar, the ship launched from Kal'Shebbol shortly after the departure of the task force.
Behind the scenes
The Battle of Kal'Shebbol was featured in the short story The Saga Begins, written by Timothy Zahn and published by West End Games as the lead-in to The DarkStryder Campaign. The battle is the catalyst that causes Moff Sarne to flee into the Kathol sector, setting into motion the series of events that would become the DarkStryder Campaign.
- "The Saga Begins"—The DarkStryder Campaign (First appearance)
- "Omens"—The DarkStryder Campaign (Mentioned only)
- "Death Is Remotely Possible"—The DarkStryder Campaign (Mentioned only)
- "Shintel Downtime"—The DarkStryder Campaign (Mentioned only)
- "Crisis"—The DarkStryder Campaign (Mentioned only)
- "Plant Food"—The Kathol Outback (Mentioned only)
- "Galaxy's Edge"—The Kathol Outback (Mentioned only)
- "Introduction"—The Kathol Rift (Mentioned only)
- "Harm's Way"—The Kathol Rift (Mentioned only)
- "The Saga Nears Its End"—Endgame (Mentioned only)
- "Endgame"—Endgame (Mentioned only)
- The DarkStryder Campaign
- The Kathol Outback
- The Kathol Rift
- The DarkStryder Campaign, Deluxe
Notes and references
- Zsinj is defeated at Dathomir in the The Courtship of Princess Leia, and the DarkStryder campaign follows the successful campaigns against Isard and Zsinj - i.e., the Bacta War and the Hunt for Zsinj.
- The DarkStryder Campaign
- "Omens"—The DarkStryder Campaign
- "The Saga Begins"—The DarkStryder Campaign
- Who's Who in Echo Base
- The Kathol Outback
- X-Wing: The Bacta War
- The Courtship of Princess Leia