- "The Yuuzhan Vong have launched an attack against the planet Rychel. The Jedi have been asked to aid in the evacuation."
- ―Unidentified Jedi to Luke Skywalker
The evacuation of Rychel was a military offensive against the extra-galactic Yuuzhan Vong species undertaken by a joint New Republic and Jedi Order task force. Occurring in the first year of the galaxy-spanning Yuuzhan Vong invasion, the battle originally began as an evacuation effort of the planet Rychel under the leadership of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, whose Knights were called upon by the New Republic to help minimize the civilian casualties Rychel was suffering while the planet was under siege by the Yuuzhan Vong. Skywalker oversaw the exodus of as many of Rychel's citizens as possible, while a detachment of the New Republic Navy, commanded by Pau'an Jedi Master Lar Le'Ung and Padawan Finn Galfridian, engaged the Yuuzhan Vong warriors in battle.
Complementing the onslaught of their Chazrach slave warriors were two Yuuzhan Vong monstrosities called Tu-Scart and Sgauru, which were capable of projecting fear toward the Rychel populace as well as the New Republic rescue force. Many of their company fell victim to the combined ferocity of the Chazrach and siege beasts, and when Master Le'Ung attempted to rally his soldiers against the enemy, he was killed by the Yuuzhan Vong Commander Tsalok—who then fed him to Tu-Scart. Galfridian briefly assumed the Pau'an's role as commander until Master Skywalker gave the signal to retreat after the evacuation ships had been filled to capacity.
The young Padawan also noticed a family of survivors, but before he could help them to safety he was confronted by Tsalok. The duel which then ensued was brief as the building in which they fought was leveled by one of the warbeasts, rendering Tsalok helpless and pinned beneath the rubble. Galfridian emerged unscathed and, in a show of mercy, spared the life of the Yuuzhan Vong commander despite his festering hatred for a member of the species who had committed the same atrocities on his own homeworld of Artorias. As he joined Master Skywalker on the last of the evacuation ships to depart from Rychel, Finn Galfridian learned that while many beings had been liberated, the Republic was unable to save them all, and many more were left to suffer in the clutches of the merciless Yuuzhan Vong.
In 25 ABY, the galaxy fell victim to a sudden and unexpected invasion by the Yuuzhan Vong, an extra-galactic species bent on expanding their empire through conquest via genocide of all who opposed them. The preliminary phases of the Yuuzhan Vong war effort saw many worlds decimated, while others had their populations enslaved. Among those worlds whose people were massacred and landscape ravaged was the defenseless Artorias, but the timely intervention of a small New Republic task force led by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker effected a nominally successful liberation as they were able to evacuate a number of the planet's citizens.
Shortly after the Yuuzhan Vong's appropriation of Artorias, Commander Tsalok of the invasion fleet led his forces in a blitz on the planet Rychel. In response, the New Republic again enlisted the aid of Master Skywalker and the Jedi Order to oversee the flight of Rychel's natives while avoiding as many civilian casualties at the hands of the Yuuzhan Vong as possible. He was joined by Pau'an Jedi Master Lar Le'Ung, and Prince Finn Galfridian, whom Skywalker had rescued from subjugation on Artorias and taken as a Padawan in light of the young boy's burgeoning Force-sensitivity.
Rychel relief efforts
- "Your primary objective is to locate civilians and get them to an evacuation ship. We have reports that the Yuuzhan Vong are using a slave species—called the Chazrach—which have been bred by the Yuuzhan Vong to be killing machines."
- ―Lar Le'Ung's briefing on the plight of Rychel
Skywalker, Le'Ung, and Galfridian arrived in Rychel's orbit on board one of several Bulwark-class battle cruisers that comprised part of the New Republic Naval fleet sent to engage the Yuuzhan Vong. Master Le'Ung briefed his fellow Jedi and the Republic troopers on Rychel's planet-side situation: the invaders' ground forces consisted of coufee-armed Chazrach slave warriors, as well as two enormous siege beasts that were laying waste to everything in their path. Paramount was the Republic's determination to preserve the lives of Rychel's citizens. To this end, Master Skywalker devised a plan wherein he would marshal as many of the noncombatants as possible toward the evacuation ships in preparation for departure from the planet. Master Le'Ung and Padawan Galfridian were then responsible for leading a contingent of Republic troopers in battle against the Yuuzhan Vong forces to divert the enemy's attention from Skywalker's rescue efforts.
Bulwark battle cruisers ferried the Republic and Jedi teams to Rychel's surface, where they witnessed the two siege creatures, Tu-Scart and Sgauru, corralling the natives in preparation for their slaughter. Master Skywalker immediately leaped from his vessel and descended upon the gathering Chazrach, scattering nearly all of them with a powerful blast of Force energy. While Skywalker tended to the prisoners and ushered them toward the Bulwark battle cruisers, Le'Ung and Galfridian joined the Republic troopers as they promptly opened fire on the disoriented Chazrach. Air support was simultaneously deployed in the form of T-65XJ X-wing starfighter squadrons, which began an assault on the siege beast Tu-Scart. The creature was more than a match for them, however, and downed several fighters without suffering any significant damage from their initial attack. One ship crashed perilously close to Master Le'Ung and his forces, which decimated innocents, Chazrach, and Republic troopers alike.
Many of the Republic troopers began to panic and retreat upon the realization that their weapons were having little to no effect on the beast. It was then that Le'Ung and Galfridian discovered that Tu-Scart was emanating fear toward it foes. With his lightsaber ignited, the Pau'an then began to rally his troops while reminding them of their mission: to distract the enemy long enough for the evacuation ships to collect as many of Rychel's people as possible. To the Jedi's disadvantage, the Yuuzhan Vong manifested no presence within the Force; the inability to sense his foe was Le'Ung's undoing, as Tsalok caught him unawares and impaled Le'Ung with his amphistaff. Tsalok ensured the Pau'an's death when he hurled Le'Ung's body into the maw of Tu-Scart, the sight of which renewed the paranoia that had previously afflicted the Republic Forces. Padawan Galfridian's resolve was also shaken, but he nevertheless retrieved the fallen Master's lightsaber and attempted to rouse the troopers yet again to continue their forward press against the siege creatures. The beasts were repelled long enough for Master Skywalker to round up the last of the civilians and load them into the evacuation ships.
Luke Skywalker issued the order to retreat, and Republic troops began to pull out. However, they were delayed momentarily by Tsalok, who tore through their ranks in pursuit of the two Jedi. Several Chazrach happened upon and prepared to kill a cornered family, but as Galfridian dispatched them and prepared to lead the hostages to safety, he was confronted by the Yuuzhan Vong commander. The two engaged in a brief duel before one of the Yuuzhan Vong warbeasts, Sgauru, leveled the building in which they fought. Galfridian was able to save both himself and the evacuees, but Tsalok had not fared so well. Trapped under a fallen pillar, he was left defenseless and at the mercy of the Jedi. Galfridian chose not to smite his enemy, though, and instead freed the commander, who—fully expecting to die by the Jedi's blade—was unable to comprehend the compassion exercised by his Human adversary. Galfridian then made haste for the last of the Bulwark cruisers and boarded, handing over Le'Ung's lightsaber to Master Skywalker just as the ship departed Rychel.
- "We have to go back!"
"Master Le'Ung. He'll need…"
"He is gone, Finn."
- ―Finn Galfridian and Luke Skywalker
Although the New Republic had managed to liberate a considerable number of Rychel's inhabitants, not all were saved, and many more had been left in the custody of the Yuuzhan Vong and their Chazrach minions. Furthermore, the Republic's inability to rescue everyone was a note of great contention for Galfridian, whose own homeworld had recently suffered the same fate. When he demanded that they return for the captives, Galfridian was reminded by Master Skywalker of the New Republic's impotence in the face of such a widespread threat posed by the Yuuzhan Vong. He was also forced to come to terms with the loss of Lar Le'Ung, a peaceful Jedi whose life had been lost protecting those who were unable to fend for themselves.
Commander Tsalok had been shamed by the young Jedi who refused to grant him what he considered an honorable death in combat, and refused to grasp the principle which Galfridian demonstrated in doing so. Several of his newly acquired slaves—elderly men and thus too feeble to adequately serve the Yuuzhan Vong in his eyes—were immediately slain with his amphistaff, in direct defiance of the mercy bestowed upon him by Finn Galfridian. Despite the fact the Republic had been achieved nominal success in their extraction mission, Tsalok had been otherwise victorious. Like the planet Artorias, Rychel had been successfully conquered and left by the New Republic under the heel of the Yuuzhan Vong.
Behind the scenes
The evacuation of Rychel first appeared in the third installment of author Tom Taylor's Star Wars: Invasion story arc, titled Refugees. Though the planet Rychel was first mentioned in the previous issue, its first comic appearance was in part three of Invasion: Refugees. This is also the first comic appearance of the Chazrach, Commander Tsalok, and both Tu-Scart and Sgauru, although the latter two were featured in two previous books covering the Yuuzhan Vong war within the New Jedi Order series of novels: The New Jedi Order: Balance Point and The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force.
Notes and references
- Invasion 1
- Invasion 4
- Invasion 3
- Using information from The Essential Atlas and the The New Jedi Order Sourcebook, it is possible to place the events of The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught in 60:5 and 60:7 respectively. Star Wars: Invasion: Refugees takes place between those two novels.
- Invasion 2
- The Essential Atlas