- "I fight for the honor of the Yuuzhan Vong and Domain Shai."
- ―Shedao Shai
Shedao Shai was a Yuuzhan Vong warrior and commander who, following the defeat of the Praetorite Vong advance force at Helska IV, led the fleet that attacked the Outer Rim Territories during the Yuuzhan Vong invasion of the galaxy. Respected, skilled and devoted to the worship of pain, Shai had his own agenda as he drove deeper into New Republic territory. The warrior sought to recover the remains of his grandfather, Mongei Shai, who had perished fifty years before on a scouting mission for the invasion fleet. Upon his arrival on Bimmiel, the planet on which his ancestor had died, Shai discovered that a pair of Jedi had taken the remains for the purpose of biological study. The furious commander vowed revenge, hunting for the Jedi as he continued to conquer worlds. His opportunity came in the form of New Republic Senator Elegos A'Kla, who approached the Yuuzhan Vong in order to discover more about the race that had so suddenly attacked the galaxy. Shai learned much from the Caamasi senator, although their companionship caused his subordinates to question the commander's motive in inducting A'Kla in the ways of the Yuuzhan Vong.
When Shai became aware that A'Kla was well acquainted with one of the Jedi from Bimmiel, Corran Horn, he slew the senator, preparing the Caamasi's corpse for burial as he would have done his grandfather's, before dispatching the remains to Horn. This vengeful gesture incited a private vendetta between the commander and Horn, which would see its denouement during the Battle of Ithor. At Ithor, Shai's forces clashed with those of the New Republic and of the Imperial Remnant. His ground assault thwarted, the commander was approached by Horn with a challenge. The two would duel for the fate of Ithor, with Horn pledging to return Mongei Shai's remains to the commander if killed, and Shai promising that the planet would be spared if he fell to the Jedi's lightsaber. The duel was brutal and resulted in the end of Shedao Shai's life; the warrior died on the surface of the planet, but his subordinate Deign Lian razed Ithor nonetheless. Following Shai's death, his domain was disgraced, its warriors relegated to tending the worldships of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet, far from the glory of battle.
In pursuit of glory
- "We are the Yuuzhan Vong. Our cause is right and just."
- ―Shedao Shai
The grandson of Mongei Shai, Shedao Shai was a warrior of the Yuuzhan Vong renowned for his devotion to the worship of pain. Born into the illustrious Domain Shai, one of the warrior domains that pledged its allegiance to Shimrra of Domain Jamaane during the coup that toppled Supreme Overlord Quoreal and placed Shimrra in power, Shai was determined to bring further glory to his family. When his grandfather, a member of a scouting party that, in preparation for the impending Yuuzhan Vong invasion, had moved ahead of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet to explore the galaxy, chose to remain behind on the planet Bimmiel to report back to his fellows via villip, his sacrifice, and eventual death, brought honor to the Shai. Shedao Shai hoped that he would someday be able to recover his grandfather's remains, a task he had been given by the elders of his domain, who bestowed upon him several of the relics of the Shai in order to encourage him with his mission. Famous for his prowess in battle, Shai was a commander at the time of the Yuuzhan Vong's mass incursion into the galaxy in 25 ABY. His rank and prestigious position as leader of the main assault fleet was mainly due to the perceived nobility of his grandfather's sacrifice. Shai was tasked both with correcting the mistakes of the advance force, the Praetorite Vong, which had sought to manipulate the invasion for its own means, and with continuing the Yuuzhan Vong advance. To Shai's distaste, his mandate was also to pave the way for the arrival of Warmaster Tsavong Lah, whom the commander viewed as a rival despite their differences in rank. The commander also set his sights on the Jedi who protected the galaxy, hoping to consolidate more power by eliminating the Order.
Shai was assigned a warrior from the declining and rival Domain Lian, which had once had a notable reputation among the Yuuzhan Vong before its fame began to fade. The commander did not find his new subordinate, Deign Lian, agreeable, often berating and physically attacking Lian, whose obvious fear of Shai quietly amused the commander. In truth, however, much of Lian's cringing and cowardice was a charade; the ambitious warrior was determined to usurp Shedao Shai, and had entered into a secret alliance with Warmaster Tsavong Lah in order to ruin the commander. Lah saw Shedao Shai's distinguished reputation as a threat to the power of Domain Lah, and utilized Lian to maneuver the ambitious commander toward an eventual defeat, using Shai's obsession with the relics of his ancestor as a means of undermining the celebrated warrior. Aboard the Kor Chokk grand cruiser Legacy of Torment, Shai's ancient flagship, the commander prosecuted the invasion of the galaxy. First, the worlds the Praetorite had conquered, and in some cases lost, were re-taken. Belkadan was converted for the purpose of producing yorik-et starfighters, and a shipwomb was grown in the ruins of Sernpidal, a planet destroyed by the Praetorite Vong. Other worlds fell to Shai's forces, and as the Yuuzhan Vong moved through the Outer Rim Territories, the commander dispatched his kinsmen Neira and Dranae Shai to Bimmiel in order to recover the remains of the long-dead Mongei Shai, intending to accrue even more glory for the ascendant Shai.
Meanwhile, Shai's forces moved in on Dubrillion, a world that had successfully repulsed a Praetorite Vong attack during Prefect Da'Gara's short tenure as the Yuuzhan Vong leader in the galaxy. A cruiser was moved into the asteroid belt that ringed the system, and yorik-et were sent out on forays and strafing runs, gradually whittling down the number of defenders and bringing ruin to Dubrillion's cities. Eventually, as the attacks continued, ships from nearby Agamar arrived, along with a Bothan Assault Cruiser, to evacuate the planet. As the convoy readied itself for departure, Shai's forces nevertheless did not launch an assault, waiting until the refugee ships and their escorts were leaving the system before engaging. A short skirmish ensued, before Shai's cruiser maneuvered itself into position and utilized its dovin basal missiles to block the New Republic retreat to Agamar, forcing the convoy instead to journey to Dantooine, which had already been scouted by the Yuuzhan Vong. In the absence of a New Republic defense, Shai's ground troops took Dubrillion; Chazrach reptoid soldiers and Yuuzhan Vong warriors moved through the destroyed cities, throughout which the citizens of the world conducted a guerrilla war. Shai looked down upon defenders of Dubrillion for their long struggle to survive and avoid the reality of pain, as his forces prepared for an assault on Dantooine.
Dantooine and Bimmiel
- "At the world they call Dantooine they did not recover their dead. These people have no sense of what is proper or honorable."
- ―Shedao Shai
Already, two training cadres of warriors were present on Dantooine, and were in a running engagement with two Jedi who had been located on the planet. To Shai's displeasure, both Jedi escaped, the only recompense being that Domain Lian had lost four warriors in the chase. Reports also reached the commander that a further two of the Force-wielders had been present on Belkadan, but the attack on Dantooine soon dominated his time. The refugees, having fled Dubrillion, had set up a base on Dantooine and a defensive perimeter to protect themselves. The Bothan Assault Cruiser left the planet for Coruscant, the New Republic capital, and thus Shai's forces moved in. At night, a Yuuzhan Vong cruiser deployed yorik-trema landing craft, which deposited a large invasion force; a column five kilometers in length, consisting of Chazrach thralls, accompanied by their herder vehicle and its own tender, as well as many Yuuzhan Vong warriors. The column was protected from aerial attack by two squadrons of yorik-et, which guarded the troops as they drove toward the base from the south, through the forests.
Harassed by starfighter attacks though it was, Shai's column sustained its march. At the same time, groups of warriors, in twos and threes, infiltrated the refugee camp wearing ooglith masquers, disguised as Humans. Although this strategy was foiled by Jedi, the main column eventually reached the base, and attacked its perimeter. Casualties on both sides were high, and once again Shai began to think of his enemies as courageous, even if deeply flawed by their love of technology. Ultimately, the first half of the Yuuzhan Vong host was defeated, ravaged as Jedi Master Luke Skywalker manipulated the defensive singularity of the thrall herder creature to consume itself. Without their control vehicle, the Chazrach were driven insane, and four proton torpedoes obliterated much of the column. Shai's yorik-et were also all destroyed, though at the cost of almost two and a half squadrons of New Republic starfighters. As the refugee convoy lifted off from Dantooine, Shai brought in a cruiser to interdict its passage to Agamar, and dispatched its starfighter complement to herd the New Republic forces back down to the planet. Before Shai's tactic could be realized, however, the Bothan Assault Cruiser returned with a Victory-class Star Destroyer, the Corusca Fire, and together the two New Republic capital ships drove off the cruiser. Once again, in the absence of a New Republic presence, Shai's forces moved in and took the world.
Shortly after the Battle of Dantooine, the commander received word from one of his warriors, Krag Val, that there had been developments on Bimmiel. Val's preliminary report indicated that both Neira and Dranae Shai were dead, but on arrival Shedao learned that his kinsmen had perished fighting two Jedi who had come to Bimmiel, located Mongei's resting place, and removed the scout's mummified corpse for scientific observation. As he questioned Krag Val with regards to what had occurred in the grashal in which the Yuuzhan Vong had fallen, Shai became incensed, disgusted by the treatment of the bodies of the Yuuzhan Vong warriors, who had been torn to pieces by the slashrats that prowled the surface of the planet. The warriors of the New Republic, who at Dantooine and Dubrillion had impressed him to some extent, now seemed unworthy. Shai was critical of the conduct of his cousins, as they had been following the wrong search pattern to locate the cave where Mongei was to have been found, but was more interested in the fate of the Jedi who had killed Neira and Dranae. As Val indicated, blood traces suggested that the Jedi had been wounded, but also that his corpse had been taken away from the grashal, lifted from the organic building via a starship. Shai, deep in thought, determined that this new enemy had not died fighting his kinsmen, as the New Republic had shown at Dantooine that they did not honor the dead, often leaving them where they had fallen. Thus he vowed revenge against the Jedi who had desecrated the corpses of his family members, promising that he would taste the unknown Human's blood before his enemy died, before returning once again to the forefront of the invasion. More worlds and systems fell, and incursions were made on many other planets, including the agricultural world of Garqi.
- "I will place you under my protection. I will teach you. I will learn from you. We will understand each other."
- ―Shedao Shai, to Elegos A'Kla
As the conquered population of Dubrillion maintained their resistance against Shai's invasion, fighting throughout the ruined cities against the Yuuzhan Vong and their Chazrach, the commander oversaw the subjugation of the planet aboard the Legacy of Torment, linked to the grand cruiser via a cognition hood. Musing for some time on the progress of the invasion, Shai used the Kor Chokk cruiser's memory retention center to enter into the recorded consciousness of one of the Chazrach soldiers who had died fighting amid Dubrillion's toppled cities. Before long, however, the perceived cowardice in the reptoid led Shai to the Embrace of Pain, a torture device in which the commander remained for hours. To furnish the fleet with more supplies, Shai dispatched Krag Val to Garqi, which was to be turned into a resource world for the Yuuzhan Vong advance. Meanwhile, Dubrillion was set up as Shai's headquarters, as he viewed it as one of the few worlds his species had conquered that had any profound significance. Before long, a New Republic shuttle appeared in the system, and via a Yuuzhan Vong villip its sole inhabitant contacted his forces and requested transport to the surface of Dubrillion. Landing on the planet's surface, Shai journeyed toward the Dubrillion Aquarium, where he had set up his main base, preserving the natural creatures in their habitats—for a time feeding them live and dead Humans—until Dubrillion could be re-created by the Yuuzhan Vong.
En route to the building, a Human leapt from the shadows to attack the commander. Wearing full Vonduun Skerr Kyrric, complete with a mask, and armed with a tsaisi, Shai easily defeated his assailant, sending the man to the priests to be converted into a slave. Without his bodyguards, Shai traveled with Deign Lian alone, who questioned his commander on his actions and the New Republic. Having already grown to dislike the warrior, but wary of Lian's ambition, Shai toyed with his subordinate, criticizing the lesser warrior while carefully observing his reactions. Soon, the two reached the aquarium, where Shai met New Republic senator Elegos A'Kla, a Caamasi who had sought to approach the Yuuzhan Vong to discover their motives and learn of the species. Shai addressed the senator in Basic, as A'Kla had not yet been able to master the Yuuzhan Vong, and learned that the Caamasi had no designs on his life. Shocking Lian, he removed his mask and faced the New Republic delegate, ordering his subordinate to fetch refreshments. Shai was soon alone with A'Kla, intrigued by the prospect of accruing intelligence on the New Republic, and took the Caamasi up on his offer of a mutual trading of information. For A'Kla's first lesson, Shai took the senator to the Embrace of Pain.
The warrior and the pacifist
- "There are those, Deign among them, who think I could be scared by your words, or influenced into acting against our best interests. They believe my time with you has tainted me."
"Perhaps it has."
- ―Shedao Shai and Elegos A'Kla
Although the Yuuzhan Vong and the New Republic Defense Force continued to battle across the invasion corridor, Shai nevertheless remained engrossed in A'Kla, putting the senator to work on menial, grueling tasks so as to foster in the Caamasi an appreciation for pain. From A'Kla, the commander learned of a Chiss Grand Admiral, Thrawn, and was intrigued by the story that the Imperial had often investigated the art of the species with which he fought so as to predict their wartime strategies. When Shai also attempted to divine the nature of the Bothan admiral he was fighting, Traest Kre'fey, A'Kla was not as forthcoming, and instead Shai interrogated the many captives remaining on Dubrillion. Preoccupied with the senator as he was, the news that a New Republic task force had infiltrated the Julevian system, where the shipwomb was still being constructed in the ruins of Sernpidal, did not faze the commander. He ignored Lian's fears that the New Republic were planning an attack on the vital facility there, more interested by the fact that the Bothan Assault Cruiser from Dubrillion and Dantooine, the Ralroost, had been the flagship in the incursion at Sernpidal, as well as another intrusion in the Garqi system. The fact that the same ship had appeared in both systems, but had acted differently at Garqi, alerted Shai to the reality that the New Republic had plans for the world.
When his aide told him, however, of his theory that Shai's closeness with A'Kla was clouding his judgment, the commander became enraged. As Lian related the gossip of the inferior warriors and confessed his worry that A'Kla might escape with information on the Yuuzhan Vong, Shai rounded on the warrior, perceiving a slight upon his honor. He struck Lian, shouting at the ambitious aide and kicking him as he lay, proclaiming that he was unquestionable as Lian's superior and would not tolerate any doubts in his capacity to lead or to treat the senator objectively. To Deign Lian's protestations that he was merely repeating what Shai's enemies among the Yuuzhan Vong were propagating, the commander ordered his aide to fetch A'Kla—without wearing his mask—and reminded Lian to kill those who plotted against him. With one last threat, Shai told the warrior to spend a Dubrillion night in the Embrace of Pain, releasing himself before sunrise only if he wished to die.
Having humiliated Lian, the commander waited in the aquarium for A'Kla to arrive, whereupon Shai questioned the Caamasi on what he had learned during his stay on the planet. He came to respect A'Kla on his understanding of pain, but remained distant from his new companion's attempts to reconcile the Yuuzhan Vong belief in their gods with any profound spirituality. Shai brought the conversation to Kre'fey. The senator, however, refrained from providing any solid intelligence, and Shai took another approach, reminding A'Kla of the destruction of Caamas at the hands of Bothans, and testing the pacifistic Caamasi with the specter of inflicting pain upon others. A'Kla was largely undisturbed by the commander's threats, and so Shai turned to military matters. He was approached by Lian, who asked the commander if he could travel to Garqi in order to monitor the progress of Krag Val's occupation. Shai, aware of the New Republic's earlier activity in the system, ordered his aide to take the Burning Pride, a cruiser, and a flotilla of seven corvettes to the planet—a large task force for such a mission. The commander knew that his New Republic opponents would strike at Garqi again, and was proven correct as Lian engaged Kre'fey over the planet. What he was unable to predict, however, was the appearance of an Imperial Remnant task force, as the remainder of the Galactic Empire had kept out of the war until now. The commander, hearing of Lian's reports, traveled to Garqi to determine what had occurred.
- "Find out why they destroyed this place."
- ―Shedao Shai, to Deign Lian
As he traveled down to the planet's surface with A'Kla, Shai noticed a deep black burn scar on the ground far below, which he discovered to be the ruins of the Pesktda Xenobotanical Garden. The use of fire to destroy living organisms was first among the abominations for the Yuuzhan Vong, and Shai was deeply disgusted by what he saw. A skirmish had taken place on the planet, leaving Krag Val and several others dead, and for some reason the New Republic forces had incinerated the garden in which the latter stages of the ground battle had occurred. Determined to discover what had occurred, Shai interrogated a warrior, Runck Das, who had been absent from the fight, ordered by Val to remain behind. The commander placed his foot on Das's neck, who lay prostrate before him, ready to kill the warrior should Das reveal any fault in his actions. When Lian, present in the garden, intervened in the interrogation, branding both Krag Val and Das fools, Shai struck him in the throat, silencing his aide. Das continued, and informed the commander that the Chazrach who had survived the battle had given some pertinent information. Val and his troops had engaged three Jedi and their companions, but had fallen to the enemy lightsabers, and subsequently the garden had been burned to ashes. During his report, the warrior referred to the Jedi by the color of their lightsaber blades; when Das affixed one with the moniker "Silverblade," Shai noticed A'Kla react, almost imperceptibly, and realized that the Caamasi knew this particular Jedi. First, however, Shai finished his questioning of Das, popping the warrior's skull from his spine when the warrior claimed there was nothing more that could have been done—Shai commented that Das could have been faster in arriving at the garden.
Lian assumed he too was to die for allowing Kre'fey to make off with the infiltration force, but Shai decided to teach his aide a lesson in strategy instead. The commander came to the correct conclusion that the Jedi strike force had destroyed the garden and its Ithorian bafforr trees on purpose, explaining why he had dispatched Lian with such a large force to Garqi. He criticized Lian's actions and ordered his aide to discover the reason why the garden had been burned. Alone with A'Kla, the commander asked the Caamasi for his opinion on the garden's destruction; when the senator failed to provide a satisfactory answer, Shai demanded to know why the peaceful being consorted with such depraved enemies. A'Kla attempted to put a case forward defending the honor of his fellows, but Shai grew enraged, citing the failure to provide the corpses of both Yuuzhan Vong and New Republic forces with proper burial rites, on Garqi and on Bimmiel, as proof of the dishonorable nature of his opponents. After a short while, Shedao Shai became calmer, and readied himself to question A'Kla. He stated that he had seen the senator react to the name "Silverblade", as well as his mention of Bimmiel, and assumed that A'Kla knew the true identity of the Jedi. Pressing the senator for information, Shai was finally able to link a name to the blood of the Jedi he had tasted at Bimmiel—Corran Horn. His companionship with the Caamasi was suddenly subordinated to his quest; Shai planned to kill A'Kla, in the process issuing a challenge to Horn. He led the senator to believe that he was ready to open peace talks with the New Republic, proclaiming that he had learned much about those who resided in the galaxy, and that A'Kla was to be his envoy. The commander was being ironic; A'Kla was to be a very different kind of ambassador to that which the senator expected. Shai beckoned the ignorant Caamasi from the garden and together they returned to the Legacy of Torment.
- "I am Shedao Shai. You were at Bimmiel. You slew two of my kinsmen and left them to be gnawed by vermin. You stole the bones of my ancestor. These bones here I present to you so you may know the proper way to venerate fallen Yuuzhan Vong warriors. I regret that your actions forced me to slay Elegos. I want you to know I did it myself, with my bare hands, As I strangled him, I read in his eyes betrayal, but only at the first. Before he died, he understood the necessity of his death. You must understand it, as well. We will meet, our respective forces, at the world you call Ithor. If you have any honor at all—and Elegos assured me that you do—you will return to me the bones of my ancestor. If you do not, then it is you who renders our friend's death meaningless."
- ―Shedao Shai, in a pre-recorded message to Corran Horn
Following Garqi, Shai's push into New Republic territory slowed. At some point, he led a fleet against Dathomir. Lian's investigation into the conflagration in the xenobotanical garden bore no successes, and Shai continued his sessions in the Embrace of Pain. Shai also bade the unsuspecting A'Kla record a statement by villip for Corran Horn. A'Kla's message spoke of hopes for an eventual peace, unity with his daughter and friends, and reminded Horn that his diplomatic mission was vital if there was to be an end to the conflict. The senator also recorded a brief message on his shuttle's communication system, conveying the compliments of Shedao Shai to Horn. Meanwhile, Lian continued to deliver excuses for his lack of success, boring Shai. Eventually, however, the aide discovered what had occurred in the garden. The Vonduun Skerr Kyrric worn by the warriors had reacted to the bafforr tree pollen, suffering an allergic reaction to the fine particles. The allergy had killed the living armor, constricting it and suffocating the warriors within. For Shai, the implications were obvious. The New Republic now possessed on the planet Ithor—to which the bafforr trees were native—an arsenal with which to repel and possibly wipe out Yuuzhan Vong. Furthermore, biological life, sacred to the Yuuzhan Vong, was opposing the advance; Shai retained faith in the validity of the holy crusade to take the galaxy, but felt that this development meant that the priest caste could take control of the invasion as they tried to divine the importance of this natural opposition. The commander had already witnessed the disastrous state of affairs that had arisen when the Praetorite Vong had attempted to gain prominence among the species. A rare sentiment of respect was afforded to Lian as the aide revealed that all those who knew of the bafforr pollen's lethality had been temporarily interned in case they spread word of the threat, but Shai's subordinate quickly angered him once again. Lian had come up with a plan to destroy the threat of Ithor with a biological agent, delivered safely from over the planet. Shai, on the other hand, believed that such destruction of a naturally bountiful world could anger the gods, and that taking Ithor, heavily defended as it would be, could shatter New Republic morale beyond repair.
When Shai overruled his aide's plan to destroy Ithor from afar, Lian protested, claiming that the Yuuzhan Vong would take heavy casualties. Enraged at the insubordination, the commander attacked the warrior, forcing Deign Lian to his knees. Shai proceeded to outline the reasoning behind his decision to prosecute a major space and ground assault. In reality, Lian, in league with Warmaster Tsavong Lah, was observing the commander act exactly as predicted; it was hoped that Shai's plan would fail and the commander killed. Unaware at the hidden forces at work, the commander continued to berate his aide. Another bout of violence was elicited as Lian claimed that too much time had been spent with A'Kla, and that attacks on the morale of the enemy were inferior to the tactical destruction of a threat. Shai ordered his aide to plan a feint at Agamar and an assault on Ithor, to occur in a month's time; Lian questioned why he was to plan for the attacks, and not the more experienced Shedao Shai, but the commander only stated that he had work to do with A'Kla, and that he would review the plans when they had been prepared. Finally, before Lian left, Shai indicated that those who had been interned after investigating the bafforr pollen should be killed, so as to keep the knowledge secret.
A short time after his audience with Lian, Shai visited senator A'Kla and, with some regret, strangled the unsuspecting Caamasi. For many hours he lavished attention upon the corpse, preparing it in the manner by which fallen Yuuzhan Vong warriors were venerated. The flesh, organs and other organic matter were removed, until only a skeleton remained. Each bone was coated in gold, the sternum and ends of long bones were adorned with platinum, and violet gems were placed in the empty eye sockets. Shai polished the skull's teeth white and, grinding down amethysts to fine powder, replicated the pattern and hue of the purple stripes that had colored the late A'Kla's head fur. The commander then placed the articulated skeleton in the senator's original shuttle. Enclosing the corpse in an organic capsule, Shai ensured that it could only be opened by a sample of Horn's blood—which had been attained at Bimmiel—with the result that the Jedi would be the first to view the capsule's contents. He placed A'Kla's villip on top of the capsule; inside, nestled in the space between the skeleton's crossed legs, was Shai's own villip, with a pre-recorded message. In his address, Shai informed the Jedi of who he was, and why he had a vendetta against Horn, blaming his enemy for having caused A'Kla's death. The commander also declared his intention to meet Horn and have Mongei Shai's bones returned to him at Ithor, where he indicated that a battle was to take place. Having vowed at Bimmiel to taste Horn's blood again before he killed the Jedi, Shai fully expected that the two fight to the death. The senator's shuttle, overgrown with Yuuzhan Vong growths, was loaded into a cruiser and dropped off on the outskirts of the Ottega system, where Shai's message was successfully received by Corran Horn.
The Battle of Ithor
- "We need to show them that we will crush them no matter their preparations. So far we have not launched a solid military operation against any of their worlds. Yes, we took Garqi, but the opposition was minimal. The subsequent infiltration and exfiltration of agents taints that victory. As you point out, they must fortify Ithor. When we take it we will send a message out to the rest of the New Republic with the survivors. That message is that we are implacable and invincible. That is the message our enemies need to hear."
- ―Shedao Shai outlines his plan for Ithor to Deign Lian
A month after he had told Lian to plan the dual assaults on the two worlds, Shai's forces moved in on Ithor and Agamar. The former was well defended, and would be where the main battle was fought; the latter was largely unprotected, as Kre'fey had moved his forces to defend the vital bafforr resources on Ithor. Many refugees escaped before Agamar eventually fell to the Yuuzhan Vong.
The Legacy of Torment headed the fleet that attacked Ithor, with three heavy cruisers, eight light cruisers and many yorik-trema landing craft making up the rest of the force. Shai entered the Ottega system aboard the Legacy of Torment and led the ships in a slow advance toward Ithor. The Tafanda Bay, the lone Ithorian Herdship remaining over the evacuated world, was targeted for occupation, and another landing force, commanded by Shai, was tasked with taking the planet itself. Meanwhile, Lian was left in charge of the fleet, ordered to battle the combined New Republic and Imperial Remnant forces that defended Ithor. Shai had adapted to the new tactics Kre'fey had developed against him; the New Republic starfighters had begun to fire many lower-powered shots at Yuuzhan Vong yorik-et, more than the singularity defenses could handle. The commander correctly predicted that his enemy would attempt to deploy the same tactic against his capital ships at Ithor, and denied them this advantage by having his ships produce many smaller singularities that, although less powerful, were able to intercept the numerous turbolaser strikes with ease.
The battle was joined as Shai's forces entered attack range and were accosted by starfighter and capital ship fire. Although Shai had blocked the New Republic's tactic, and Lian thus scored victories in space, the yorik-trema flotilla took several losses as it approached Ithor. Two of the four landing vessels that headed toward Tafanda Bay were destroyed and the Yuuzhan Vong warriors and Chazrach who were deployed on the herdship faced heavy resistance from Jedi who defended it. Commander Shai landed on the surface of the jungle world with his troops, retaining one yorik-trema as a command center while the others were dispatched back to the fleet to collect reinforcements. The Yuuzhan Vong leader separated his landing force into four components; one squad of warriors remained with the command center, and two flanks, each made up of three squads, protected the body of troops in which he moved, itself likewise made up of three squads. It was too small a force, by Shai's estimation, to take the planet, but it served as a reconnaissance unit that advanced toward the New Republic command facility sited on Ithor's surface. The commander raced toward the facility when he received a report from one of his warriors that it had been reached, running through the forests, suddenly sensing a hostility from the planet that led him to question whether the gods wished him to act in such a manner. Such doubts were cast aside when he was informed that the New Republic base appeared to be defended by droids. He collected three of his squads together and tore toward the facility across open ground.
In space, Lian found himself swiftly taking losses as the defenders of Ithor raised the strength of their turbolaser strikes, overpowering the weak voids Shai had ordered and subsequently destroying several ships with ease. Shai's furious aide decided not to send troops down to the surface to bolster his superior's strength, and thus the commander assaulted the facility alone. The use of droids in its defense disgusted Shai. They provided little challenge for the experienced warriors and soon two of the ferrocrete towers making up part of the base collapsed. Deep within the facility, Shai realized that he had been tricked; the foundations of the base were too weak for it to have been a permanent structure. The commander shook himself from the rage of battle and rushed from the New Republic command center. Too late, he gave the order to retreat. An explosion detonated in the basement of the construct, incinerating many of his maddened warriors and toppling the building upon the survivors. On his right flank, the commander suddenly had blaster fire pour in; the left remained silent, disturbing him further. Shai issued an order to retreat. The warrior was furious, and placed blame on A'Kla for the ambush he had been led into; the Caamasi's pacifistic nature had disarmed him, drawn him to the belief that the enemy was incapable of such shrewd exploitation of natural Yuuzhan Vong fanaticism when it came to fighting machines.
Besieged, and denied reinforcements by Lian, the commander was soon contacted by Corran Horn by villip. Several Jedi, including Horn, had taken Shai's command post, having killed the squad defending it. Horn informed the warrior that, as Shai suspected, the Yuuzhan Vong ground force was completely surrounded, and that Mongei Shai's bones would be launched into the star of the Ottega system unless the commander agreed to his proposal—Horn and Shai would duel for the fate of Ithor. If Horn defeated the commander, Ithor would be spared invasion. If, however, Shai killed the Jedi, the bones would be returned to the Legacy of Torment, to the shrine the commander had prepared. Meanwhile, a truce would exist in the system. The bargain evoked scorn in the proud warrior, but the opportunity to reclaim the relics was too tempting. The two went on to decide on the time until they met in battle. When Horn suggested that he needed to wait for a full moon before the duel took place, Shai reminded the Jedi of Sernpidal and the tactic of Yo'gand's Core—he could have a dovin basal drag a moon down upon Ithor, wiping out the planet. The threat ensured that, after some brief haggling, the duel would occur in a week's time, on a mountaintop plateau west of Shai's command center. Before their conversation ended, Commander Shai told his adversary that he should come prepared to die.
Duel and death
- "You think to shield your friend from my wrath?"
"Perhaps, Commander Shai, it is you I am shielding."
- ―Shedao Shai and Elegos A'Kla
As the sun set over Ithor, seven days after his conversation with Horn, Shai arrived with Lian at the mountain clearing where the duel was to take place. Clothed in scarlet and gold, with his warrior mask covering his face, the commander was impressive in appearance, approaching the duel with a seriousness that Horn failed to acknowledge. A short exchange preceded the fight, and the two warriors then clashed weapons. Both Shai and Horn appeared evenly matched, their lunges, slashes and parries drawing out the duel until either one of them erred in their technique. Eventually, Shai whipped inside his foe's guard and punched his amphistaff through Horn's side. His opponent fell to the ground, and Shai withdrew, removing his mask and savoring the taste of the Jedi's blood from the dripping blade, as he had vowed to do on Bimmiel.
Horn, however, was not yet dead, and rose to his feet to challenge the commander, mocking Shai's vow and his failure to defeat his enemies. Shai lunged in again and soon forced Horn to sink to his knees against an onslaught of blows. As Shai brought his blade down to hammer the lightsaber down into Horn's own body, the Jedi flicked off the silver blade. His amphistaff failing to meet the expected resistance, Shai stumbled forward onto the emitter of Horn's deactivated lightsaber. The commander's last action was to smile. As Horn re-ignited the blade, it burned a hole through the Yuuzhan Vong warrior's torso, severing Shai's spine.
- "It is done, Warmaster Tsavong Lah. Shedao Shai is dead. The threat of Ithor is no more."
- ―Deign Lian, to Tsavong Lah
Although Luke Skywalker, at Horn's request, took Shai's mask, the commander's corpse remained where he fell. Lian returned to the Legacy of Torment, to take control of the cruiser and the other Yuuzhan Vong forces. Defying Shai's wishes, as well as the terms of the truce with the New Republic, Lian followed his orders from Warmaster Lah, firing the bioweapon on Ithor anyway. The bacteriological agents metabolized all life on Ithor's surface, turning the verdant forests and wildlife into a planet-wide sea of black sludge. Shai's lifeless body was consumed along with everything else. Shai's subordinate, however, was not to escape the destruction of Ithor. Kre'fey and Pellaeon employed tactics they had developed throughout the week, and obliterated the Legacy of Torment over Ithor. Meanwhile, the New Republic turned on Horn, branding him as the destroyer of the planet.
Within the ranks of the Yuuzhan Vong, Domain Shai was disgraced, as the warmaster had desired, and its lesson reminded other influential warrior domains such as the Carr and the Choka that to present a threat to the primacy of Domain Lah was futile. The members of Domain Shai were relegated to the position of tending to the ailing Koros-Strohna that had transported the Yuuzhan Vong to the galaxy. Shedao Shai was remembered as a failure, a disgraced warrior whose devotion to the worship of pain was later mocked by even the Supreme Overlord. Among the Yuuzhan Vong, Corran Horn nevertheless attained great respect, as Commander Shai had, for all his flaws, been a highly skilled warrior. For the Shamed Ones, it went further than respect; Horn was revered as one of the most august of the Jedi who featured in the sacred tales of the secretive followers of the Jeedai heresy, becoming known as The-Slayer-of-Shedao-Shai. Militarily, Shai's death at Ithor led to Tla, another warrior, being promoted to the rank of commander, and leading the next phase of the invasion, as the Yuuzhan Vong continued their path toward Coruscant.
Personality and traits
- "A commitment to the mission above the preservation of self—this I understand. This I respect."
- ―Shedao Shai
Shedao Shai was a male Yuuzhan Vong with dark eyes, a mane of black hair and leathery gray-green skin that shone as if it had been polished. Shai was tall, lean and long-limbed with a cadaverously thin body that nonetheless held immense physical strength. He had horns on the knuckles of his hands, and hooks and barbs adorned his limbs at wrist, elbow, knee and heel. His face was misshapen, with hard, mismatched features and his body was covered with the marks of dozens of honors, disfigurements that signified the respect he held among his people.
Shedao Shai was a fiercely proud warrior, who believed that the only true constant in reality was pain. He would harm himself to the extent that all he could feel was pain, in the hope of transcending a physical reality to come closer to the gods. His devotion to the worship of pain led others to perceive his actions as foolish—or, as in the case of Supreme Overlord Shimrra himself, pathetic—but Shai chose not to care, believing instead that his sadomasochism placed him above others, such as Deign Lian. Similarly, Shai perceived all other castes as inferior to the warriors of the Yuuzhan Vong, criticizing the priests and intendants and mocking the shaper caste's dislike of using the Embrace of Pain, a device that they themselves had created.
Such fanaticism tended to cloud Shai's judgment, but he nevertheless viewed the battlefield with a high level of strategic wisdom, regularly confusing and manipulating his subordinate, Lian, with tactics that always appeared to defeat the enemy, as well as using his intelligence to battle Traest Kre'fey and Gilad Pellaeon, two of the leading military minds in the war. The commander also possessed an eye for minutia, registering small changes in body language and acting upon them without allowing others to become aware of the fact. With his military acumen and martial prowess, Shai was thus a respected Yuuzhan Vong warrior, whose actions were tempered or accentuated by his love for the gods. Shai chose a ground assault on Ithor, rather than the aerial destruction later visited upon the planet by Lian, because he did not wish to anger the gods by destroying a world of such natural life, and he declared that if threatened by the lethal bafforr pollen, he would fight unarmored, protected by his faith in the gods. The warrior's bravery, and his dedication to his mission, led to him leading the charge against the enemy in person.
When matters did not move as expected, however, Shai tended toward inner turmoil, such as when he realized that the natural forces of Ithor opposed the invasion, or to casting blame on others, such as A'Kla and the intelligence agent Nom Anor. The commander also criticized, threatened, punished or executed his subordinates whenever he saw fit; he condemned the actions of his deceased kinsmen as lacking imagination, killed Runck Das, and often beat Lian into submission. Much of his anger came from his hatred of weakness, cowardice or stupidity, and when aggravated, Shai could appear unpredictable. Sleights upon Yuuzhan Vong tradition, or upon his own person, were met with an explosion of violence or verbal outbursts, even when the guilty party was ignorant of its fault. Often as sadistic toward others as he was toward his own body, Shai toyed with the idea of forcing the pacifistic A'Kla to commit harm to others, and developed the habit of feeding live Humans to the creatures in the Dubrillion Aquarium.
Obsessed by honor, tradition, and the way of the warrior, Shai's personal vendetta arose through his consuming desire to attain glory for his domain and to emulate the actions of his prestigious forefathers. This pursuit of a greater goal gave Shai drive and ambition, but it ultimately played its part in the warrior's downfall. It also manifested itself in other ways, such as vanity and self-absorption, and resulted in his killing of Elegos A'Kla, a being whom Shai had, by his own admission, come to view as a friend. However much he may have enjoyed exerting dominance over others, Shai was eventually overpowered by his own flaws; his clarity of judgment was subordinated to vanity and arrogance during his final duel with Horn, resulting in his death. Shai's weaknesses were also exploited by Tsavong Lah, preluding his death on Ithor. Nevertheless, Shedao Shai remained engrossed in his own interests even in the last moments of his life; true to his love of combat and a respect for those who could best him, the commander exulted in Horn's victory, in the instant before the Jedi killed him.
During his final duel with Corran Horn, Shedao Shai wore a sleeveless, scarlet robe, split down the middle coupled with a knee-length gold loincloth. A mask made of hardened ebon inlay covered his face. The ensemble was complemented with a pair of boots, gauntlets and a vonduun bracer.
Behind the scenes
- "Shedao Shai embraces pain, and does not shy away from it, whereas his aides do not embrace it as openly as he does. He sees it as a duty, then, to inflict pain on them, physical, mental, emotional, however he can, to toughen and enlighten them. When you [the reader] realize that they [the Yuuzhan Vong] reach enlightenment and union with their gods through pain, that kind of calibrates the societal compass, and you plot your courses based on that."
- ―Michael A. Stackpole on Shedao Shai
Shedao Shai is the primary Yuuzhan Vong villain in the Dark Tide Duology, although his introduction occurs only during the epilogue of The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught. This, however, sets up his role as Horn's antagonist in the second book of the duology, and it is also revealed that Shai had been the commander in charge of the Yuuzhan Vong assaults on Dubrillion and Dantooine. In The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin, Michael A. Stackpole portrays Shai as a shrewd and cunning Yuuzhan Vong, whose conflict with Deign Lian allows further depth to be incorporated into the commander's tale. Shai's ritual killing of Elegos A'Kla, a character who had first appeared in Stackpole's I, Jedi as a companion of Corran Horn, consisted of another death of a sympathetic character, following that of Chewbacca during the events of Vector Prime, thus continuing the darker theme of The New Jedi Order series. The peripheral presence of Tsavong Lah, a major Yuuzhan Vong protagonist in the series and a clandestine opponent of Shai's, also arises in the second novel, setting up Lah's later role as a principal character.
As Stackpole stated in an interview, Shai's worship of pain was intended to provide the reader with a clearer insight into the workings of Yuuzhan Vong society; the author noted that, being the first paperback novels in The New Jedi Order series, the Dark Tide Duology had the possibility of being the first novels of the series that many read. Therefore, the focus on Shedao Shai and his beliefs, most notably the worship of pain, was to grant the reader a foothold on understanding the species around which a further sixteen novels were to be set.
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught (First appearance)
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin audiobook
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos I: Hero's Trial (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 (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic I: Remnant (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force (Mentioned only)
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- "Who's Who in the New Jedi Order"—Star Wars Insider 57
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 90 (HOR4, Corran Horn)
- "The New Jedi Order in 100 Easy Lessons"—Star Wars Insider 74
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 115 (YUU9-10, Yuuzhan Vong Incursions)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 135 (YUU6, Yuuzhan Vong)
- Star Wars: New Jedi Order Round-Robin Interview
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- The Essential Atlas
- The Essential Reader's Companion
Notes and references
- The Essential Atlas
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin
- The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide I: Onslaught
- The New Jedi Order: The Unifying Force
- The New Essential Chronology
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The New Jedi Order: Vector Prime
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory I: Conquest
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse
- The New Jedi Order: Edge of Victory II: Rebirth
- The New Jedi Order: The Final Prophecy
- The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos I: Hero's Trial
- I, Jedi