- "What is a warrior's life compared to the glory of the Yuuzhan Vong?"
- ―Tsavong Lah
Tsavong Lah was the fanatical Warmaster of the Yuuzhan Vong during the Yuuzhan Vong War. A consummate warrior, he was the embodiment of his caste, over whom he held jurisdiction second only to that of the Supreme Overlord. He succeeded his father as Warmaster at the time of the invasion, although he entered the galaxy somewhat later than the advance forces. This did not prevent him, however, from manipulating events behind the scenes, arranging for the destruction of Ithor and the disgrace of the rival Domain Shai, as well as overseeing several key victories, before finally emerging in 26 ABY as the architect of the Battle of Duro. Lah became infamous among both his own species and the citizens of the New Republic for his vendetta against the Jedi; following a defeat at the hands of Jacen Solo, the Warmaster called for the surrender of all Force-sensitives to the Yuuzhan Vong, prompting a wholesale persecution of the New Jedi Order. Indirectly, this was to contribute towards the beginnings of the Jeedai heresy, an underground movement among the Shamed Ones which, on the moon Yavin 4, Lah was unsuccessful in eradicating.
An obsession soon followed with securing the capture of Solo twins Jacen and Jaina; the Warmaster wished to sacrifice the two Jedi to the Yuuzhan Vong gods in order to bless his advance upon the Core Worlds. The twin sacrifice refused to bear fruit; nonetheless, Lah went on to lead the costly, yet ultimately successful, encirclement and capture of the New Republic capital, Coruscant. Intrigue among the priests and shapers who attended him during this period, however, led to the deliberate sabotage of one of the warmaster's implants, forcing Lah to retreat from the forefront of the invasion. The Warmaster's over-extension of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet, as well as his incapacitation, allowed the New Republic to recover somewhat from the numerous defeats they had sustained at his hands. Lah's eventual return to leadership capacity was thus overshadowed by the deaths of his son and father, both of whom died on campaigns of his design. Even the capture of the prized Jacen Solo proved to be a failure, as the Jedi defected insincerely to the Yuuzhan Vong, destabilized events on the newly terraformed Coruscant, and escaped, all immediately prior to the arrival Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane.
Heavily criticized by the Supreme Overlord of the Yuuzhan Vong for his costly victories and personal vendettas, Lah was ordered to postpone any further attacks upon the remaining defenders of the galaxy until the depleted warrior caste could be replenished. Given ample time to prepare themselves, the New Republic military and its counterparts in intelligence set in motion a trap to lure the Warmaster to his death. Disinformation and the careful subversion of the Yuuzhan Vong spy network encouraged Tsavong Lah's contemporary, the executor Nom Anor, to trust evidence suggesting that the Warmaster could attain a crucial victory at Ebaq 9, a forgotten moon in the Deep Core. Eager to destroy his enemy in a last decisive battle, the Warmaster mobilized a massive armada and descended upon Ebaq 9. Ambushed, outnumbered and defeated by a host of New Republic fleets, Tsavong Lah accepted his fate, choosing to lead his warriors on one final crusade against Jedi present at the battle. In a brief, fierce duel with his long-time adversary, Jaina Solo, Tsavong Lah perished.
- "No matter what our disagreements, you remain a hero to the Yuuzhan Vong, and to your son."
- ―Tsavong Lah, to his father
Tsavong Lah was born into a powerful Yuuzhan Vong domain, to one of the greatest of all warmasters, the legendary Czulkang Lah. As a warrior of Domain Lah, Tsavong was instructed in the ways of warfare and strategy, as well as being taught to believe adamantly in the Yuuzhan Vong gods and the religion of the True Way. Demonstrating keen intellect, Lah also exhibited tactical prowess alongside formidable martial abilities. During his time in training, the warrior made the acquaintance of a Yuuzhan Vong priest of the deception sect, Harrar. The two became loyal friends and shared a common affection for one another which remained strong in their adult years. In his domain, the future warmaster had several kinsmen who rose to become leaders as well, such as Qurang Lah and Maal Lah. He also fathered a son, Khalee Lah, a headstrong young warrior who did not inherit his parent's strategic mind, but who was nevertheless fiercely loyal to Tsavong and remained useful as a henchman among the Yuuzhan Vong warriors in later years. Tsavong Lah's most important relationship, however, was that which he shared with his father, Warmaster Czulkang Lah. A great military strategist, revered by the Yuuzhan Vong warrior caste, Czulkang Lah was warmaster in the final stages of the species' millennia long journey between galaxies, through the Intergalactic Void. The promised galaxy to which the Yuuzhan Vong fleet had been traveling for thousands of years was in reach of advance agents and scouts a little over half a century before 25 ABY. One of the advance fleets operating in the Unknown Regions, however, made contact with a living planet, known as Zonama Sekot, and laid siege to the world before retreating.
Supreme Commander Zho Krazhmir, who had led the expedition, returned to Supreme Overlord Quoreal, then the leader of the Yuuzhan Vong, and reported the battle. Quoreal voiced doubts about the planned invasion due to legends which claimed that living planets would be the downfall of the species, deciding that the galaxy they had targeted for conquest would be bypassed and a new home sought. A rival to Quoreal, Shimrra of Domain Jamaane, staged a coup against Quoreal with the support of several powerful factions, such as Domain Shai and the Praetorite Vong, toppling the Supreme Overlord from his throne and killing him. Shimrra Jamaane, as the new Supreme Overlord, avowed that the promised galaxy was in reach, that the reports of Zonama Sekot were false and that the Yuuzhan Vong gods had declared their support of the invasion. It was Tsavong Lah's father who spoke out against the Supreme Overlord, voicing his doubts about the invasion and calling into question Jamaane's claims. As the Supreme Overlord was the conduit to the gods, challenging him was tantamount to heresy. Tsavong Lah did not stand by his father, instead believing Jamaane's claims and trusting that the Yuuzhan Vong gods were correct. Father and son soon came into opposition. It was Czulkang Lah who lost out to his son; Tsavong Lah stripped his father of the rank of warmaster and took his place, rising to prominence as Shimrra Jamaane's elite protector and as the new leader of the Yuuzhan Vong warriors. Due to his father's role as a legendary warmaster, as well as the protection he could give to the older warrior, Tsavong Lah was able to ensure that Czulkang avoided Quoreal's fate. Lah's father was relegated to the position of a teacher of warriors, instructing new generations aboard the worldships that made up the Yuuzhan Vong fleet; a force which Tsavong Lah now prepared to direct against the New Republic, the ruling government of the galaxy that was to be invaded. In the process of his escalation to the rank of warmaster, Lah's already well-scarred and self-mutilated body was seeded with larval armor scales, which affixed themselves to his bones and grew over the period of half a year until his tendons were stretched and strained. Eventually, Lah's entire body became an armored hulk and his transformation to warmaster was declared complete by the priests.
As warmaster, Lah's duties involved the coordination of campaigns and the distribution of the spoils, such as conquered planets and species. Widely recognized as a fanatic, Lah worshipped Yun-Yammka, the Yuuzhan Vong god of war, with ardent devotion, holding great contempt for the bureaucrats of the species, the intendant caste. His chief subordinate, by the time the Yuuzhan Vong War was due to be launched in 25 ABY, was Supreme Commander Nas Choka, who led the fleet aboard its flagship, a Yuuzhan Vong worldship. Neither Lah nor Choka, however, were tasked with initiating the invasion. That task was allotted to the Praetorite Vong, led by Prefect Da'Gara and his cohorts, whose forces acted as the vanguard of the invasion fleet. Instructed to secure a foothold in the galaxy and begin obtaining resources for the main fleet's arrival, the Praetorite Vong instead struck out on their own once the invasion begun. Securing a yammosk—a Yuuzhan Vong organism capable of war coordination through telepathy—from a Yuuzhan Vong advance agent, Nom Anor, Da'Gara attempted to command the direction of the invasion by accumulating great power for the Praetorite Vong. Research conducted by the Yuuzhan Vong advance agents had suggested that the New Republic was weak and could be best assaulted via the Outer Rim Territories. Its traditional protectors, the New Jedi Order, led by Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, were few in number and were seen to pose only a slight threat despite their power over the Force. When what Tsavong Lah therefore assumed was a simple task was bungled by the Praetorite Vong, his prejudices toward the intendant caste was confirmed. Da'Gara's forces showed their hand too early and were wiped out at the Battle of Helska IV by a New Republic task force. One of the sole benefits of their campaign was the destruction of the planet Sernpidal, in the remains of which was constructed a Yuuzhan Vong shipwomb, the equivalent of a shipyard, in which new worldships could be grown to house the next generation of Yuuzhan Vong warriors.
To the forefront
Disgracing the Shai
- "It is done, Warmaster Tsavong Lah. Shedao Shai is dead. The threat of Ithor is no more. I have the fleet moving out."
"Splendid. You have done well, Lian. The Legacy of Torment is yours. When you get to Dubrillion, I shall have orders waiting for you."
- ―Deign Lian and Tsavong Lah
Despite the progress at Sernpidal, the Yuuzhan Vong forces still remaining in the aftermath of the defeat of Da'Gara and his cohorts at Helska 4 were destroyed. A new warrior was elected to lead the invasion fleet and pave the way for Tsavong Lah's eventual arrival. Shedao Shai, of the powerful Domain Shai, a notable Yuuzhan Vong commander well known for both his military prowess and fascination with the Embrace of Pain, a Yuuzhan Vong self-flagellation device, was placed in charge and ordered to recapture the planets the Praetorite Vong had lost. In Commander Shai, Tsavong Lah perceived a threat to the primacy of Domain Lah. If, like Da'Gara, Shai decided to use his position in the vanguard to consolidate power and challenge the warmaster's hegemony, Lah did not wish to be constrained by his absence from the invasion front to prevent such an occurrence. To rectify the situation and precipitate the downfall of the powerful domain, Lah made use of the warrior Deign Lian, whom he had raised to a position of prominence as his political patron. Lian was placed in Shai's command as the warrior's subordinate, whereupon he kept Tsavong Lah informed of Shai's movements and actions. Lah recognized that Deign Lian had his own purposes in undermining his commander but the warmaster remained confident that an opportunity would soon arise to disgrace Domain Shai and preserve Domain Lah's dominance. Over the next weeks, Lah was told of Shedao Shai's fascination with a Caamasi senator, Elegos A'Kla, who had approached the Yuuzhan Vong commander with an offer of amnesty.
Shedao Shai's forces reconquered Dubrillion and set up headquarters there. The commander then advanced toward the Core, taking worlds such as Dantooine and Garqi. In the time following a pitched battle over Garqi, Tsavong Lah was contacted by Lian. The warrior informed him that he and Shai had discovered that a potentially deadly obstruction to the Yuuzhan Vong War existed. On Garqi, warriors had been suffocated when their living armor reacted adversely to Bafforr tree pollen. On the planet Ithor, to which the trees were native, vast quantities of the pollen was present, waiting for the inhabitants of the galaxy to harvest and use as bioweapons against the Yuuzhan Vong. Realizing the threat posed by the planet, the warmaster knew that he had discovered the means by which Shedao Shai would be disgraced. He ordered Deign Lian to offer Shai the suggestion that Ithor should be destroyed from afar with a biological agent, hoping that the commander would refuse and instead advance upon the world and be defeated. A short time later, Lian made contact again and informed Lah that he had done as told. In accordance with the warmaster's expectations, Shai had rejected the destruction of Ithor and planned a conventional attack upon the world in order to shatter the morale of the New Republic defenders. Lah was scornful of this approach; he ordered Lian to draw up a battle plan to assault Ithor with more ships than were necessary, which the warmaster believed would prompt Shai to slash Lian's estimates and appear foolish once a defeat was suffered. The Battle of Ithor took place one month following Lah's conversation with his agent. Leaving Lian in command of the fleet as it battled the forces of the New Republic and the Imperial Remnant, Commander Shai descended to the surface and led a ground assault against the enemy. As Lah was aware, Shai had entered into a feud with a Jedi Knight, Corran Horn, whom the commander believed had disgraced the remains of his ancestor Mongei Shai.
The Yuuzhan Vong commander and his Jedi opponent agreed to bring an end to hostilities and instead duel for the fate of Ithor; Shai's forces would retreat if Horn won. Tsavong Lah believed that Shai's personal feuding and the possible survival of Ithor as a biological laboratory for the New Republic were unacceptable. Guessing that Shai would fall to Horn's lightsaber blade, the warmaster instructed Lian to destroy Ithor anyway with a potent toxic agent, ending the threat of the Bafforr tree pollen. Several days later, Shai was killed in the duel. Lian contacted the warmaster from orbit from aboard the Legacy of Torment, Shai's flagship, and informed him of the commander's death and that he had seeded the planet with the bioweapon. Ithor was rapidly rendered lifeless. A grateful Lah rewarded Deign Lian with command of the Legacy of Torment and ordered the warrior to return to Dubrillion and receive his new orders. As the transmission took place, however, it was suddenly interrupted by on Lian's end. Confused, Lah shouted down the villip at his subordinate, who had already departed to investigate. As the warmaster later learned, the Legacy of Torment was destroyed under a concentrated assault and Lian was killed. Nevertheless, Lah had achieved two of his objectives; the threat of Ithor and of Shedao Shai had been neutralized. News of the warmaster's part in Shai's downfall spread among other domains such as the Carr and the Choka, who understood the object of the lesson—to present a challenge to Domain Lah and its warmaster was futile. Domain Shai was disgraced, its warriors relegated to tend to the dying worldships of the Yuuzhan Vong fleet.
Guidance from afar
- "I bring salutations from Warmaster Tsavong Lah. He commends you on the work you have done in preparing the way, and he looks forward to the time when he may join you in battle."
- ―Nas Choka delivers Tsavong Lah's message to Yuuzhan Vong warriors
Despite his success in unseating the Shai, Tsavong Lah was still far from the forefront of the invasion. Fortunately for the warmaster, his immediate subordinate Nas Choka was able to direct events without falling prey to personal motives. Supreme Commander Choka's subordinates, commanders Tla and Malik Carr, made progress against the New Republic. The library world of Obroa-skai and its vast information repositories were captured by Commander Tla. A scheme orchestrated by Harrar, Tsavong Lah's friend from his youth, to assassinate the Jedi by means of a bogus defector, Elan, came undone, but the warmaster was made aware that a high-ranking figure in the New Republic had attempted to have Elan returned to the Yuuzhan Vong in good faith, not realizing that Elan was not a genuine Yuuzhan Vong dissident. Unfortunately for Tsavong Lah's friend, however, Harrar was recalled to the Outer Rim territories for his part in the failed scheme, although Lah's patronage of the priest kept Harrar from being disgraced entirely. As the invasion continued following this setback, Lah sent his greetings and encouragement via Choka to the forces currently operating in the galaxy. Commander Malik Carr and Executor Nom Anor entered into a partnership to prosecute the next phase of the invasion, under Nas Choka's supervision. The Hutts, crimelords who held vast territories on the southern edge of the galaxy, were manipulated into agreeing a truce with the Yuuzhan Vong, in which they exchanged amnesty in return for Yuuzhan Vong passage through Hutt Space.
Seven months after the invasion had commenced, Lah was contacted by Supreme Commander Choka and his subordinates. He called for a status update on the invasion's progress and was informed of the recent conquest of Tynna. Unconvinced as to Tynna's importance to the conquest, Lah called for an explanation. Choka obediently informed the warmaster of his complex plan to trick the New Republic into believing that the next strike would occur at either Bothawui or Corellia—both major systems—while in fact Choka had arranged for a strike on the shipyards at Fondor. The scheme involved manipulating the Hutts into passing false intelligence to the New Republic; for Tsavong Lah, it appeared too convoluted. When the warmaster was informed that a New Republic senator had passed information to the Yuuzhan Vong that the Corellian system was being set up as a trap for Choka's forces and should therefore be avoided, Lah dismissed the information as a deceit, refusing to believe that the senator's disloyalty to the New Republic was genuine. When he was assured that the individual's treachery was real, as it had in fact been the senator who had attempted to return Elan to Yuuzhan Vong custody, Lah became more interested by what this entailed for the process of the invasion. For the time being, the warmaster forbade further contact with the senator—Viqi Shesh of Kuat—until the Yuuzhan Vong fleets had neared the Core.
Giving his blessing to the assault on Fondor, Lah was alarmed when he received word about how the battle unfolded. While Choka's fleet had been assaulting the shipyards, a gigantic beam of energy had been fired through hyperspace upon the supreme commander's forces, halving their numbers. It transpired that Centerpoint Station, an ancient construct in the Corellian system about which Senator Shesh had attempted to warn Choka, was capable of such destruction. Shortly after the Battle of Fondor, which encouraged Lah to take a more active role in the invasion, the warmaster arrived and took command. Aboard his flagship, the ancient interdictor cruiser Sunulok, Lah amassed a fleet and set about creating a salient from current Yuuzhan Vong territory toward the Core Worlds and the galactic capital, Coruscant, which was to be his primary target. Disconcerted by the firing of Centerpoint station, however, Lah followed the advice of his subordinates, who counseled against further operations in the proximity of the Corellian system in case Centerpoint Station was fired again. They advised him to find a Coreward staging point far removed from the ancient construct. For the first step in this plan, Warmaster Lah decided to cut the Corellian Run, an important hyperspace trade route, advance down its length and capture the worlds that lay upon it.
Taking the Corellian Run
- "We do not live side by side with impurity. Your civilization is built on abominations. Your galaxy is polluted. We have come to cleanse it, so that others besides our warrior caste may occupy it and live cleanly here. It is our destiny, according to Supreme Overlord Shimrra and the priests."
- ―Warmaster Tsavong Lah, to Leia Organa Solo
As soon as Lah took command, his devotion to Yun-Yammka resulted in a strong focus upon the capture and sacrifice of refugees. The warmaster hoped that his advance upon the Core could be blessed by mass sacrifice. Advising him on this matter was the priestess Vaecta, who ensured that Lah devotion to the god of war did not eclipse other Yuuzhan Vong gods, such as Yun-Yuuzhan or Yun-Harla. As Vaecta answered only to Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane, Lah could do little to prevent the priestess from interfering in the progress of his campaign and a quiet power struggle was often played out between the warmaster and his warriors and the priestess and her worshippers. As such, the warmaster planned to harvest the worlds of the Corellian Run for captives during their conquests. The greatest prize, however, was the world of Duro, a planet polluted by centuries of industrial excess, which would provide Lah with his staging point to the Core. The warmaster learned through Executor Nom Anor, who was operating in disguise upon the world, that the collaborator Viqi Shesh, who was the administrative senator for SELCORE—the Senate Select Committee for Refugees—was in the process of relocating thousands of displaced persons to Duro in the knowledge that the warmaster could capture them there. Intrigued by the Kuati woman's duplicity, Lah ordered that the senator be delivered a villip by which he could contact her personally.
Nom Anor, who operated under Lah's direction, kept the warmaster apprised of the situation on Duro; the refugees were exchanging the safe haven of the planet for labor in repairing its damaged ecosystem. Disgusted by the Duros floating cities which orbited around the polluted world, Lah planned to terraform Duro entirely, wiping out any technology on the world and turning the planet into a natural paradise. He had Anor promise CorDuro Shipping and other prominent figures that the Duros who surrendered would be spared along with their cities, in the knowledge that this would sow discord among his opponents. Until the day of Duro's conquest could come, however, Lah sent his fleets against the Mid Rim planets of the Corellian Run. At Kalarba, which boasted shipbuilding capabilities, one of the warmaster's fleets engaged a New Republic task force. The local Kalarban defense force and the powerful Pitareeze family also put up fierce resistance. Lah's forces implemented the tactic of Yo'gand's Core, implanting a dovin basal creature capable of manipulating gravity upon Kalarba which dragged the planet's moon, Hosk Station, down upon the world, destroying both spheres. Only several thousand of the Kalarba system's five billion inhabitants escaped its conquest. The Yuuzhan Vong laid waste to the star system, leaving it uninhabitable and strewn with radiation for centuries.
The next worlds to fall were Druckenwell, once a major Imperial manufacturing world, and Falleen, home to the reptilian Falleen species. At Druckenwell, the population put up little resistance and was forcefully suborned into laboring for the Yuuzhan Vong, dismantling their cities and producing food for the invaders. Falleen similarly surrendered, its population relocated into reeducation camps. Sriluur, homeworld of the Weequay race, was taken with ease and its people enslaved. In Hutt Space, Lah was kept apprised of Supreme Commander Choka's retribution campaign against the Hutts, whom were known to have betrayed the Yuuzhan Vong at Fondor. Choka's forces wiped out Hutt resistance on Nal Hutta and set about terraforming the planet and its moon Nar Shaddaa. Choka relayed the warmaster a continuous stream of images of the conquest of Hutt Space as a way for Lah to monitor the progress of his subordinate. The warmaster was likewise kept informed of events on Duro by Nom Anor. The executor contacted Tsavong Lah a short time after the Battle of Kalarba and told the warmaster of the increasing number of refugees arriving on Duro. The warrior ordered Anor, who was hoping to regain favor following his involvement with the Praetorite Vong and with the Elan defection scheme, to keep an eye out for "worthy" sacrifices such as Jedi.
Lah's forces then moved in upon Kubindi, home to the insectoid Kubaz. To Lah's irritation, the lieutenant in charge of the attack on Kubindi, Mujmai Iinan, proposed taking the world with half the number of yorik-et starfighters. As a consequence, every spaceworthy ship evacuated the world and only a fraction of the population remained when the world was conquered. As with Druckenwell, Kubindi was terraformed into a food production world. For his failure, Mujmai Iinan was sacrificed to the gods. While observing Nas Choka's images from the ongoing campaign in Hutt Space, Lah was contacted by Nom Anor on Duro, who was masquerading as Duros scientist Doctor Dassid Cree'Ar. The executor informed Tsavong Lah that he had located three Jedi on the planet, aware that the warmaster was especially intrigued by the Force-wielding warriors. Although some priests viewed the Jedi as abominations, Lah believed them to be worthy sacrifices and ordered Anor to facilitate the capture of either Leia Organa Solo or her daughter Jaina Solo. The third Jedi was viewed as weak and unmentionable by the warmaster as he was currently pursuing a pacifistic path. As such, the warmaster never learned the third Jedi's name.
On Duro, Anor also started sabotaging the domed cities on the surface housing the refugees, while sneaking agents in the the planetary shield generators in preparation for Tsavong Lah's arrival. Meanwhile the warmaster dispatched forces to Rodia, a jungle planet in the Tyrius system. He then contacted Senator Viqi Shesh of Kuat via the villip his agents had delivered to her and asked her for a report. She informed him that New Republic forces would not combat the Yuuzhan Vong at Rodia and, following his false assurances that the invasion would cease at Duro and that she would be rewarded for her aid, insinuated that she could have Jacen Solo delivered to the warmaster. Shesh was not the only individual making offers. The Hutt Borga Besadii Diori, who had acted as the spokesperson of the Hutts during the negotiations with Supreme Commander Choka and Commander Malik Carr, contacted the warmaster and attempted to bargain for the survival of her race, as well as for her son Randa Besadii Diori, who was currently a refugee on Duro. In return, the Hutt promised, her son could capture one of the Jedi present on the polluted planet. A villip was duly delivered to Randa the Hutt on Duro.
The Hutt made contact swiftly and promised Lah that he would deliver Jacen Solo personally to the warmaster in return for amnesty. The warmaster was skeptical and told the Hutt to deliver the young Jedi before he considered making a deal. A short time later, however, Tsavong Lah was contacted by Viqi Shesh. It transpired that Randa the Hutt had called Shesh, unaware of her nature as a Yuuzhan Vong spy, and informed her that there was a Yuuzhan Vong agent on Duro who had delivered him a villip and that the planet was clearly imperiled. Shesh reported the Hutt's duplicity to Tsavong Lah who asserted scornfully that he had expected as much. The warmaster put the various plans to capture Jacen Solo in the hands of Nom Anor, before moving the Sunulok to Rodia, where the conquest of the planet was underway. The Rodians fought a fierce guerrilla war against the Yuuzhan Vong from the jungles of the world, following the destruction of their cities, and before long Lah's forces had realized that they were fighting a more than capable foe. Master Shaper Taug Molou was dispatched to the planet to create the Vagh Rodiek, a mindless creature bred from Rodians and Yuuzhan Vong creatures. As Rodians flocked to defend their homeworld from around the galaxy, however, it became clear that the world's subjugation would be a long an arduous process.
Victory and defeat at Duro
- "Citizens of the New Republic. We speak from the surface of Duro, a living planet that your forebears murdered, but which we and our new slaves will revive. In weeks to come, we will show you how the might of the Yuuzhan Vong addresses reconstruction—the rekindling of a world."
- ―Tsavong Lah
As the warmaster's fleet prepared to leave Rodia, Lah was contacted by Anor from Duro. The executor claimed to have eliminated two Jedi—Jaina Solo and her aunt Mara Jade Skywalker—as well as having sabotaged many of the refugee settlements on the world, forcing their inhabitants into flight. Furthermore, Anor had arranged riots and had his agents ready to take down the planetary shields. The warmaster moved his fleet to Duro, irked that two Jedi had been killed already. His priests had come to the conclusion that with every Jedi he sacrificed personally, his odds of success would improve. Once Tsavong Lah's armada entered the Duro system, Nom Anor's efforts to weaken the world became clear. Not only were the planetary shields down over a broad section of the planet, allowing Lah's landing forces entry to the world, but the Duro Defense Force, riddled with and intimidated by Peace Brigade agents, was providing only a token defense. Lah launched a flight of yorik-et starfighters against one of the orbital cities, Bburru Station, while simultaneously broadcasting on New Republic frequencies through use of an oggzil, a newly created piece of Yuuzhan Vong technology prepared specifically for the warmaster.
The warmaster informed the fleeing evacuation ships that if they returned to the surface they would be spared, while his starfighters took Bburru to pieces as a show of force. Also attacking the orbital city was an ychna, a massive bioengineered beast that rammed through Bburru with ease. Soon enough, evacuation vessels returned to the surface and the Duro Defense Force stood off. As the warmaster descended to the surface among a flotilla of ten yorik-trema landing craft and their escorts, he broadcast again, demanding that the inhabitants of the world surrender, as he claimed to have no interest in the orbital cities. He ordered the starfighters to make a punitive raid on the ground settlements before emerging on Duro's surface. As the warmaster's troops set off to round up refugees and prepare them for sacrifice, Lah and his entourage, among them the priestess Vaecta, went to rendezvous with Nom Anor. To the warmaster's satisfaction, the Duros orbital cities remained packed with refugees who had taken him at his word and remained onboard the giant stations to surrender. Also offloaded onto Duro's surface were Tu-Scart and Sgauru, two bioengineered beasts created fifty years previously who were tasked with demolishing the artificial structures on the surface. Anor's organized chaos in space continued, with the Duro Defense Force standing down to allow the Yuuzhan Vong to take the world, while the executor met with Tsavong Lah on the surface. The warmaster followed Anor into Gateway, the main refugee settlement, to where the executor had prepared the scientists and researchers he had worked alongside in his guise as Doctor Dassid Cree'Ar for sacrifice.
Impressed with the executor's cunning, Lah ordered Vaecta to begin a sacrificial ceremony while the researchers were brought before him to be strangled with tkun, recently bioengineered Yuuzhan Vong creatures that constricted when provoked. Once Lah had personally sacrificed all of the researchers to the gods, the corpses were hauled off by Yuuzhan Vong warriors while the warmaster headed to the main administrative offices. Outside, Yuuzhan Vong warriors dug a sacrificial pit for the hundreds of refugees who had surrendered. The Hutt Randa Besadii Diori was also captured and imprisoned, to be prepared as a feast once the conquest was complete. A short time later, Leia Organa Solo was captured by warriors; once she regained consciousness, Tsavong Lah sent Anor to fetch the Jedi and bring her before him. Vaecta offered Lah a tizowyrm with which he could understand and speak Galactic Basic Standard. As Organa Solo was brought before him, he ignored her protestations that his attack on Duro was illegal and explained that he and his forces had come to cleanse the planet, as well as the galaxy, of machines and technology, sacrificing its contaminated inhabitants in the process. As the Jedi attempted to reason with him, Lah silenced her, refuting her argument that death was not the ultimate force by branding her a blasphemer. Before the Human woman was taken away to confinement, the warmaster revealed what the fate of Duro, its orbital cities and its inhabitants would be. While matters went unhindered on the surface, however, in space Anor's machinations came undone. The Duro Defense Force mobilized, realizing that the Yuuzhan Vong would spare none of them, and an X-wing starfighter pilot eliminated the ychna with a proton torpedo. Nevertheless, the warmaster ordered Organa Solo and the Hutt brought before him once again to observe the sacrifice of the refugees.
Lah ignored Organa Solo's pleas as he forced her to watch refugees being pushed into the pit and incinerated by Fire Breathers on top of piles of captured technology. With an order to Vaecta, Organa Solo was similarly prepared for sacrifice. Tsavong Lah's guards then alerted the warmaster that a Jedi was approaching the building; the warmaster ordered Vaecta to torture Organa Solo so that her screams would lure the unknown Jedi to him, to serve as another sacrifice. At that moment, Randa Besadii Diori's tail lashed out, knocking the warmaster against the wall and disarming his guards. A brief struggle ensued as Organa Solo attempted to snatch her lightsaber from Nom Anor and flee, but Vaecta strangled the raging Hutt with a tkun while the warriors subdued the Jedi. Warmaster Lah ordered his warriors to drag the Hutt's corpse to the kitchen while Vaecta began cutting Organa Solo across the legs in an attempt to lure the unknown Jedi to the office. A few moments later, a young male Jedi burst through the doors with a brandished lightsaber and stood, staring at Organa Solo's bleeding limbs. Disgusted by what he perceived as cowardice, Lah took a tkun from Vaecta and prepared to kill Organa Solo to prove to the young Jedi that death should be met with courage, not fear. His take on the unknown Jedi proved wrong, however, when the young man charged at the warmaster and his warriors. The Jedi's lightsaber sliced at the warmaster's arm before he could kill Organa Solo with the tkun, forcing Lah to drop the creature and bring out his tsaisi, a modified amphistaff serving as his baton of rank. As he dueled with the young Jedi, Lah admonished him for his cowardice. When his opponent utilized the Force to levitate a number of objects and lift them up in a whirling maelstrom, the warmaster was incapable of combatting the action. Bludgeoned by Organa Solo's large desk, his foot was mangled and he fell out of the office's high window.
In the office above, the Jedi escaped. Below, Lah scrambled onto his knees as three Yuuzhan Vong warriors approached. Witnessing him in a moment of humiliation, one offered his life to the warmaster, which Tsavong Lah took with a furious strike of his tsaisi. Ordering the tunnels beneath the building flooded and releasing Tu-Scart and Sgauru to demolish Gateway entirely, the warmaster returned to the Sunulok in a rage. Lah broadcast another demand for surrender but the Duro Defense Force continued to evacuate ships, spiriting one floating city, Urrdorf, to safety. The rest of the warmaster's armada emerged from hyperspace itself to deliver a final assault against the orbital cities. The remaining evacuation ships fled the system, along with Lah's prized Jedi. Among the departing starships was was a light freighter that his forces pinpointed as carrying Leia Organa Solo. Returning to the planet, the furious warmaster prepared to initiate his vendetta against the Jedi. He ordered Anor to prepare a series of villips, while Senator Shesh suggested that he set up a deepspace transceiver to transmit his coming address across the galaxy. In great pain, Tsavong Lah approached the members of CorDuro Shipping who had collaborated with Anor in exchange for amnesty.
Lah listened to the leader of the protesting Duros, Durgard Brarun, long enough to learn the name of the formerly unmentionable Jedi who had taken his foot—Jacen Solo. With that, feeling nothing but disgust for Brarun and his cohorts, he had the CorDuro officials devoured by Tu-Scart. Preparing to address the New Republic, Lah first informed his assembled forces that Nom Anor had redeemed himself for his failures with the Praetorite Vong and Elan. Lah did not promote the executor, however, planning to keep the executor on as his personal agent. Taking Leia Organa Solo's captured lightsaber from the confused executor, he brandished it an addressed the New Republic. The warmaster announced that the Yuuzhan Vong were in the process of transforming Duro into a natural paradise, stressing the destruction wrought on the planet by industrial machines. Then he revealed that the Yuuzhan Vong armada would halt the invasion at Duro only if the inhabitants of the galaxy surrendered every Jedi to his forces, no matter what age or stage of training. Before he terminated the transmission in a rage, Lah emphasized the importance of his newfound nemesis, Jacen Solo, and claimed that the individual who brought him Solo, alive, would be especially rewarded. Following the address, Tsavong Lah's visage became known across the New Republic and, along with Nom Anor, he became infamous as the personification of Yuuzhan Vong aggression.
- "We will content ourselves with Duro, if you will help us make one final sacrifice. Give us your Jeedai. All of them without exception. Any species, any age, any stage of training. Hold them back, hide them, and you will see how your worlds will be treated. But I will reward—with special gifts!—the person who brings me the Jeedai with whom I especially want to speak. Give me Jacen Solo, alive. So that I may give him to the gods."
- ―Tsavong Lah
The shaky truce engendered following the warmaster's address at Duro was merely a means by which the Yuuzhan Vong could recuperate, replenishing their losses with new ships from the shipwomb at Sernpidal, and for Tsavong Lah to campaign against the Jedi. The warmaster observed as the divisions wrought by his ultimatum manifested themselves. His offer of bounties for captured Jedi encouraged thousands to take up a new line of work in Jedi-hunting. Over the next months, the citizens of the New Republic, along with fringe elements and the Peace Brigade, responded to Lah's ultimatum and began turning Jedi over to the Yuuzhan Vong. Devaron and Ando, both threatened by the Yuuzhan Vong, carried out the warmaster's directions. The warmaster had no respect for those who surrendered the Jedi; those who did were often simply executed once the transfer was complete. He kept his sights on Jacen Solo, whom the warmaster was eager to repay in kind for the loss of his leg at Duro. On one occasion, a captured Jedi was brought before him directly. The Twi'lek Swilja Fenn, who had been ambushed on Cujicor and transferred to a Yuuzhan Vong base on a moon by the Peace Brigade, was held in custody until Lah arrived. Yuuzhan Vong warriors held the Twi'lek before him; Lah ignored her spitting and cursing and asked her to help him locate Jacen Solo. As expected, Fenn refused angrily. Promising her torture, Lah strode away, ignoring the Twi'lek's portentuous declaration that the Force was stronger than him and that the Jedi would be his end. The Peace Brigade operatives who had delivered Fenn were executed and the Twi'lek died in the torture sessions some time later.
As the Jedi pogrom increased in intensity, Viqi Shesh revealed the location of the Jedi Praxeum on Yavin 4 to the Yuuzhan Vong. A large number of Peace Brigade vessels headed to the Yavin system, but the jungle moon was cloaked by the Force. A fleet under Commander Tsaak Vootuh headed to the Yavin 4 system. Chief of State Borsk Fey'lya of the New Republic was informed that the Yuuzhan Vong were carrying out mining operations on Stroiketcy, an asteroid in the system. As the Jedi Praxeum was not officially affiliated with the New Republic, it was afforded no protection. The Jedi Praxeum was attacked and demolished by Vootuh's forces who had, however, arrived too late. Peace Brigade vessels had jumped the gun and attacked, allowing many Jedi to flee aboard the starships of smuggler Talon Karrde. When Vootuh's forces arrived, they wiped out the Peace Brigade and took the moon in force. A number of Yuuzhan Vong shapers set up operations on the moon and one, Master Shaper Mezhan Kwaad, experimented upon a captured Jedi girl in order to divine the origins of the Force.
Meanwhile, knowledge gleaned from the Peace Brigade operatives prior to their execution suggested a new means by which the Jedi could be eliminated. Vornskr, creatures native to the conquered planet Myrkr, were able to detect Force-sensitives. Tsaak Vootuh passed this information onto the shaper caste and Master Shaper Yal Phaath took notice. Phaath was placed in charge of a new project; through Viqi Shesh's contacts, vornskrs were obtained and experimented upon on Baanu Rass, an ancient worldship over Myrkr. By crossbreeding the vornskr with the fero xyn, a Yuuzhan Vong organism, the voxyn queen was created, from whose tissue thousands of the Jedi-hunting creatures could be cloned and dispatched across the galaxy. On Yavin 4, however, not all went to plan. Jacen Solo's younger brother Anakin and a disgraced Yuuzhan Vong warrior, Vua Rapuung, formed an unlikely alliance to rescue Tahiri Veila. In the resulting confrontation, Commander Vootuh was killed along with Master Shaper Mezhan Kwaad, whom it emerged had been deeply immersed in heresy. Veila and Solo escaped due to Rapuung's actions—the Yuuzhan Vong warrior fought his own brethren to allow the young Jedi time to escape. Meanwhile, the Yuuzhan Vong forces were defeated over Yavin 4 and the shaper base was destroyed.
Hearing reports of Kwaad's heresy from Yal Phaath, as well as rumors that Jedi were being idolated by the Shamed Ones—the lowliest of the Yuuzhan Vong—Tsavong Lah arrived on the jungle moon to investigate personally. He questioned the Shaper Adept Nen Yim, who had been the apprentice of the late Mezhan Kwaad. Yim revealed the orbital bombardment of the shaper base, the liberation of the slaves and the mixed success of her master's project to study the Jedi. Reminding the adept that she should be executed for her failures, Lah allowed her to live for the knowledge she possessed. Yim was subsequently relocated to the worldships, where among the disgraced Domain Shai she labored to save the ailing vessels. Before Yim departed, Lah questioned her on the possibility of a heretical cult among the Shamed Ones who worshipped the Jedi. Yim affirmed that she had heard rumors and Lah had all who espoused the heresy killed. In fact, every Shamed One and worker who had been present on the moon was eliminated. Somehow, however, the rumor spread. Furthermore, to the warmaster's vexation, Jacen Solo remained elusive despite all attempts to locate the young Jedi.
The Millennium Falcon
- "Find the Millennium Falcon, Warmaster, and you will find Jacen Solo. I believe he is aboard her. If he is not, once you have his father, he will not be long in arriving."
The truce remained in place, but Lah had no intention of refraining from hostilities indefinitely. Deciding upon a new target, he listened to the advice of Nom Anor, who proposed that the strategically placed world of Yag'Dhul, located at a hyperspace junction, would prove ideal for a new conquest. Close to the world of Thyferra, which produced the galaxy's healing agent bacta, and ideal as a further staging area upon the Core, Lah was well aware of Yag'Dhul's advantages. He ordered his crèche-brother Commander Qurang Lah to appear before him with Nom Anor. Before proceeding with the war, however, the warmaster had to correct the issue of his damaged leg. Recalling the legend of the first warmaster, the vua'sa creature, and that the warrior who had defeated it in single combat had taken its place, Tsavong Lah decided to repeat history. He ordered the shaper caste to create a vua'sa, long extinct, from the Yuuzhan Vong memory-banks, and challenged it. A powerful warrior, Lah defeated the creature and had his leg amputated, replacing his lost foot with the creature's own. While testing his new limb aboard the Sunulok, Lah's aide, Selong Lian, informed him that Ngaaluh, a deception sect priestess, had arrived with a message. Ngaaluh was a subordinate of the warmaster's friend Harrar, who was still in the Outer Rim Territories, and Lah allowed her an audience. The priestess informed Lah that the familiar of the deceased priestess Elan, the daughter of High Priest Jakan who had been the false defector of Harrar's scheme, had returned to the Yuuzhan Vong. The warmaster had assumed that the familiar, a Fosh named Vergere who had lived with the Yuuzhan Vong for years, had died at Bilbringi during the battle that had claimed Elan's life. Ngaaluh went on to explain that Vergere had asked to speak with the warmaster personally, as she knew much about the New Republic and its inhabitants.
Intrigued yet suspicious, Lah ordered Ngaaluh to interrogate Vergere and discover the Fosh's motives before bringing her aboard the Sunulok. With that, he dismissed the priestess, ushering his crèche-brother Commander Qurang Lah and executor Nom Anor, who had arrived to discuss the strike on Yag'Dhul, into his presence. Tsavong Lah was skeptical as Nom Anor reported his success in weakening Yag'Dhul's defenses, as he was all too aware of Anor's frequent failures in the past. Qurang Lah counselled against further attacks, however, citing the overextension of the fleet and the worldship currently growing in the shipwomb at Sernpidal as reasons to withhold from offensives. Anor was able to convince the warmaster, who was eager to exact vengeance for the events on Yavin 4 and to locate Jacen Solo, that the capture of Yag'Dhul would be both simple and an effective means of forcing the New Republic to surrender the elusive Jedi Order, which had gone underground following the loss of its academy in the Yavin system. With Yal Phaath's voxyn still weeks away, Lah took Anor's advice and assigned Qurang Lah to the conquest of Yag'Dhul. Meanwhile, a number of Vua'spar interdictors were assigned to patrol the conquered Corellian Run, while the Peace Brigade aided the Yuuzhan Vong in running supplies for Lah's forces. It soon became apparent, however, that the Peace Brigade shipments were being preyed upon. A mysterious matte-black ship was assaulting the Peace Brigade convoys and relieving them of their cargoes, evading Yuuzhan Vong pursuit all the while. Before long, the mysterious starship's piracy began to have noticeable effects on the efficiency of the shipping and several Yuuzhan Vong vessels were destroyed. In her interrogations, some of which were undertaken by Lah's friend Harrar, Vergere revealed that she had knowledge of this starship but that she would speak of it only to Tsavong Lah. Skeptical, Lah waited for a time before ordering Vergere to be brought before him on the Sunulok.
Once the Fosh explained herself and revealed that the starship, known by the pseudonym Princess of Blood, was actually the Millennium Falcon, captained by Han Solo and presumably crewed by Jacen Solo, Tsavong Lah realized that he was soon to capture the young Jedi. The grateful warmaster allowed Vergere to remain by his side as an advisor, ordering the Peace Brigade ships to use all means possible to locate and capture the crew of the Millennium Falcon. An ambush set up by a Peace Brigade operative, Shalo, failed on Tatooine; Tsavong Lah decided to involve his forces in the pursuit of the Millennium Falcon personally. A Peace Brigade convoy was dispatched to Tatooine as bait, whereupon the Millennium Falcon and a number of starships owned by the smuggler Talon Karrde prepared to engage and capture the cargo. The Sunulok and a Yuuzhan Vong frigate waited until Solo's ships revealed themselves before emerging in the Tatoo system and engaging the smuggling vessels. The frigate and the Sunulok deployed their yorik-et starfighters and, while the frigate engaged Karrde's starships, the warmaster watched as the Millennium Falcon destroyed starfighter after starfighter in a bid to escape. Eventually, Lah called his forces off and hailed the Millennium Falcon with a modified villip, demanding that Solo surrender. Solo made contact and shouted at the warmaster when Lah branded him a coward, reminding the warrior that he had tortured his wife. When Lah demanded Jacen Solo's surrender, the Jedi's father sarcastically replied that he'd send Jacen over in an escape pod. The warmaster took the Human at his word and awaited the escape pods. The Millennium Falcon fired two pods at the Sunulok, before ramming into a cargo pod attached to one of the Peace Brigade freighters and sending it hurtling toward Lah's flagship.
Realizing that something was amiss, Lah scrambled his starfighters to attack the Millennium Falcon before capturing it in the gravitic field of one of its dovin basals. The cargo pod, spilling its liquid hydrogen cargo into space was caught in the gravitic field and drifted toward the dovin basals. When Solo fired two concussion missiles at the Sunulok, the dovin basals drew the missiles into their singularities along with the vast quantities of hydrogen. As the hydrogen was compressed by the black holes generated by the dovin basals, it underwent fusion and turned into plasma, overloading the dovin basals and collapsing the Sunulok's interdiction field. The Millennium Falcon and Karrde's ships escaped to hyperspace. Jacen Solo had proved elusive yet again. It was not the only bad news received by Warmaster Lah over the coming hours. Word came from the shipwomb at Sernpidal that a New Republic force had emerged from hyperspace and demolished the worldship nearing completion there. As the operation had taken place without Senate approval, Viqi Shesh had been unaware of the impending strike. With the shipwomb's usual guard fighting at Yag'Dhul, it was poorly defended and destroyed. During the Battle of Yag'Dhul, Commander Qurang Lah received word that the shipwomb was under attack and retreated his forces to the Julevian system to protect the worldship. By the time Lah's kinsman reached Sernpidal the enemy had fled. The truce was broken, the Jedi had escaped, the fleet was diminished and Nom Anor had failed once again. Despite these setbacks, the Yuuzhan Vong warmaster was not ready to abandon his vendetta against the Jedi, nor was he willing to postpone the advance upon the Core Worlds.
Weakening the opposition
- "Have I not said the Jedi will prove worthy foes?"
"You have indeed. But the refugees will be their undoing yet. They will become the wedge that drives the New Republic away from the Jeedai."
- ―Vergere and Tsavong Lah
Even with their academy destroyed, their numbers thinned by anti-Jedi sentiment and a bounty on their heads, Luke Skywalker's Jedi Order still posed a threat to the Yuuzhan Vong. Operating via a hidden network and from a secret base in the Deep Core, the Jedi Order eluded total destruction. The warmaster implemented a two-pronged attack upon the Order as his fleets prepared for the conquest of Coruscant. In the first case, Master Shaper Yal Phaath's voxyn, at last ready for deployment, were distributed across the galaxy. The second element of Lah's strike against the Jedi rested upon the plight of the New Republic's millions of refugees. Planets were continuously being conquered and falling to the Yuuzhan Vong. The occupied world of New Plympto, where a fierce resistance movement operated, resisted subjugation and was scoured of life by a Yuuzhan Vong bioweapon. The world of Talfaglio was captured; as its population evacuated, the entire refugee convoy was captured and held in place over the world by a Yuuzhan Vong cordon. At the same time, the fleeing population of New Plympto, many of whom escaped aboard the Corellian cruiser Nebula Chaser, were held in an unnamed star system by a Yuuzhan Vong frigate, the Gift of Anguish. Warmaster Lah was ready for his master plan to split the New Republic government and destroy the Jedi Order. He continued to be advised by Vergere, whose advice soon led to the destruction of a number of New Republic fleets. The Fosh warned the warmaster that the Jedi, however, would be worthy foes. Lah dispatched Nom Anor to Bilbringi, where New Republic shipyards desperately constructed new warships with which the Yuuzhan Vong could be fought.
Although Lah believed that the executor would be killed on arrival, Vergere assured him that Leia Organa Solo and her husband, with whom Anor was meeting, would hear the executor's terms. Traveling to Bilbringi with a chilab observation creature hidden in his nose, Anor informed Organa Solo that unless the Jedi surrendered, the Talfaglion refugees would be massacred. To prove his point, as instructed by Lah, Anor presented them with the image of the Nebula Chaser being destroyed by the Gift of Anguish. Jedi had been aboard the Corellian cruiser and Anor made the warmaster's ultimatum clear. Tsavong Lah waited at the Museum of Applied Photonics on the world of Obroa-skai, captured in the first year of the war, for Anor's return. When the executor returned to Tsavong Lah, the warmaster received the images taken by the chilab of Bilbringi's defenses. Anor informed him that the meeting with Organa Solo had gone well and that the Jedi had refused to surrender in exchange for the lives of the Talfaglion refugees. This was according to Lah's plan; he believed that the New Republic would bargain with the invaders, giving up the Jedi to save Talfaglio's captured populace. As Lah relocated to the Sunulok and prepared to position his fleets at strategic locations around the Core, he was kept informed of the operations of the New Republic Defense Force at all times by Senator Viqi Shesh. Shesh had been rotated off SELCORE to a position on the New Republic Military Oversight Committee, a senatorial body that monitored all military movements. The warmaster moved much of his warfleet to the Jumus system, in between Corellia and Talfaglio, where it lay in wait in case the New Republic or the Jedi attempted to liberate the refugees.
Lah awaited the response to his ultimatum and was soon contacted by Senator Shesh. In his time working with the woman since Duro, Lah had gained no more respect from Shesh, mockingly referring to her as "Viqi" rather than by her full name, as was customary among Yuuzhan Vong. The senator informed Lah that Chief of State Borsk Fey'lya had consulted with Leia Organa Solo and NRMOC about the Talfaglion situation. Shesh claimed that she had manipulated proceedings and caused Fey'lya to delay a decision by calling for a Yuuzhan Vong envoy to be sent to the New Republic Senate to discuss terms. Intrigued, Lah summoned Nom Anor to his private chamber while he spoke with Shesh. The executor arrived just as Shesh told Lah that four Jedi had already fallen prey to the voxyn; the warmaster bade the senator recount the events of the NRMOC meeting to Anor before dismissing Shesh with his usual promises of the great rewards she would receive once Coruscant was conquered. Recognizing that by sending Nom Anor to the New Republic as the envoy he could sow further dissent in the senate and undermine Fey'lya's hold on power, as Anor was a known war criminal, Tsavong Lah dispatched the executor to Coruscant. Anor was received with outcry in the New Republic Senate, as planned. Instead of eroding Fey'lya's support, however, the visit had an unwanted effect. The Bothan Chief of State railed at the Yuuzhan Vong executor and refused to negotiate, uniting the fractured New Republic Senate behind him by throwing his support to the Jedi. Lah's scheme had strengthened the New Republic; although Anor returned to the warmaster and claimed he had been successful, Lah was shortly thereafter contacted by Viqi Shesh, who claimed that the only option now was to have Fey'lya assassinated.
Intrigued by the proposal, Lah ordered Shesh to carry out the assassination herself. When the shocked senator refused, the warmaster pressured her by claiming he could reveal her true role as a Yuuzhan Vong spy to New Republic Intelligence. Beaten at his own game, the warmaster was reminded by the Kuati woman that he would then lose his source on NRMOC. Lah told Shesh to await contact from Bjork Umi, a Yuuzhan Vong agent, and arrange the assassination through him instead. A few days later, Fey'lya foiled the attempt on his life, putting an end to the scheme. In any case, Lah's attentions were more firmly affixed upon Talfaglio and the Jedi question, not to mention the imminent advance upon the Core. Ignoring Shesh's attempts to win favor by assassinating the Solos, Lah readied a small flotilla for a sneak attack on Arkania, a world in the Colonies region allowing for the severance of the Hydian Way and the Perlemian Trade Route. Arkania would serve as another staging point for the warmaster's fleets. The Arkania flotilla was routed, however, by a Jedi squadron, frustrating the warmaster's plans. A New Republic force soon massed over Arkania to defend the planet. The warmaster consulted with Vergere while Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane's priestess, Vaecta, sacrificed captives to discern the will of Yun-Yammka on the matter. Vergere advised him to destroy the Talfaglion refugees and draw out the Jedi; the warmaster instead decided to launch a feint at Arkania and preserve his forces for the strike upon Coruscant. Vaecta was displeased with the feint, claming that it entailed "teasing" Yun-Yammka. Frustrated by the priestess' continual involvement in his warfare, Lah promised her the 20,000 captives that she demanded, despite the strain it would put on his resources.
While the fleet readied for the feint at Arkania, Tsavong Lah received news concerning the Jedi that brought him much satisfaction. Seventeen Jedi, including Jacen and Jaina Solo and their younger brother Anakin, who had caused the chaos on Yavin 4, had been turned over to Yuuzhan Vong commander Duman Yaght, who was in the process of transporting the captive Force-sensitives to the warmaster. Pleased by the result of his ultimatum, Lah sent Executor Nom Anor back to the New Republic Senate with the demand that a like number of Jedi should be delivered every ten standard days. Meanwhile, Yaght began interrogating the Jedi for the location of their secret base. When Anor announced the news in the New Republic Senate, a shocked general, Garm Bel Iblis, queried the executor as to whether it was Anakin Solo or the twins who had been captured. In Yuuzhan Vong culture, twins were extremely rare occurrences and were viewed as sacred to the Yuuzhan Vong gods. Tsavong Lah pondered the news with Vergere in the Sunulok's Glory Room while his feint at Arkania took place. He ordered Anor to come to the Glory Room as soon as he arrived on the Sunulok, convinced that Bel Iblis' comment that Jacen and Jaina Solo were twins was a trick to undermine the morale of Yuuzhan Vong warriors. If the Solos were twins, then it meant that they were sacred to the gods. Unsettled, Lah dismissed the notion that they should query Shesh for the truth, branding the senator untrustworthy as either double agent or a traitor to her people. Kol Yabu, a priest of the Undying Flame sect sacred to the Yuuzhan Vong twin gods, Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q'aah, informed that warmaster that Jacen Solo could not be sacrificed unless his twin sister was captured and sacrificed also. As Warmaster Lah had only focused his attentions on capturing Jacen Solo for sacrifice, this upset his plans. Accepting Nom Anor's suggestion that Jacen and Jaina Solo could both be captured, broken through torture and forced to fight one another, Lah factored the new scheme into his prosecution of the war. Commander Duman Yaght, who issued frequent reports to a supreme commander who in turn answered to Lah, was ordered to preserve the Solo twins for the great battle the warmaster planned for them to fight against each other.
Battle Plan Coruscant
Advance on the capital
- "Seef, you will ask the readers to discover if the gods favor two bold attacks, one to take Borleias, the other to take Reecee."
"Reecee? You will bypass the Bilbringi Shipyards?"
"For now. The time has come to prepare our pincers, my warrior. We are ready for Battle Plan Coruscant."
- ―Tsavong Lah
Over the next days, Lah came to the conclusion that the seventeen captured Jedi had not, in fact, been apprehended, but were rather playing their own game. Aboard the Sunulok, the warmaster played a game of dejarik with Vergere, who had drawn him to the ancient strategy with the information that it had been played long ago by the Jedi Knights. Musing, Lah ordered Nom Anor to come before him and explained the Jedi plan to the executor. The warmaster was less than impressed when Vergere defeated him decisiviely at dejarik with the kintan strider death gambit, a move that entailed sacrificing one valued piece to eliminate a greater number of the opponents'. Consulting Vergere, Tsavong Lah decided that the Jedi target was doubtlessly the Baanu Rass, the worldship over Myrkr where Master Shaper Yal Phaath directed the voxyn project. He ordered Nom Anor to travel to the Myrkr system aboard the frigate Ksstarr and apprehend the Solo twins. When Vergere questioned the wisdom of assigning her rival to the task, Lah listened to the executor's counter-argument; that the Fosh could not be trusted due to her unknown motives in returning to the Yuuzhan Vong. The warmaster grew angry, both at Anor's aspersions on his judgment and with the rivarly between the executor and the Fosh. He dispatched Vergere as Nom Anor's advisor to Myrkr as well and, to his displeasure, learned that the Jedi had destroyed a number of warships and inserted themselves onto the surface of the Baanu Rass. In the meantime, a Jedi task force struck at Talfaglio—as Tsavong Lah had expected. What the warmaster had not accounted for, however, was the presence of two New Republic Star Destroyers, having become certain that the gulf between the New Republic military and the Jedi was too broad for cooperation.
The Talfaglion refugeees were liberated and the Yuuzhan Vong fleet guarding them routed. Warmaster Lah was present in the Sunulok's mess hall, known as the High Chew, when his communications officer, Seef, brought him the news. She also informed that the Lowca, a warship carrying a yammosk, had been captured by the Jedi for study. The warmaster shrugged off the defeat, for it had proven that the New Republic would risk everything to save the lives of refugees. In any case, the time had come for the advance on Coruscant. Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane had called for results and Lah intended to achieve them. Surprising both his own tacticians and those of the New Republic, he bypassed the Bilbringi Shipyards and called for the gods to be petitioned for support of two attacks; one on Borleias and the other on Reecee, the last two worlds to be captured as staging points upon Coruscant itself. Battle Plan Coruscant, as it was named by Lah, entailed a two-pronged attack on the planet from Borleias and Reecee. Lah planned, once the attack was initiated, to implant dovin basals on one of Coruscant's four moons and use the creatures' gravitic fields to sweep aside the capital's extensive orbital defenses, which were composed of minefields and defense platforms. Lah's fleet at Vortex moved upon Reecee, while the warmaster remained with the other half of the armada to take Borleias. In the preparations for the attack on Borleias, Lah decided to sacrifice his left hand to Yun-Yammka. He recalled Harrar from the Outer Rim Territories to his side for advice. The assault on Borleias was entrusted to his kinsman, Supreme Commander Maal Lah.
While observing the conquest of the strategically-placed world from the Sunulok, Lah prepared for the sacrifice of his left hand on a cutting block. In its place would be grafted a radank, attached during a ceremony presided over by Vaecta and a master shaper, Ghithra Dal, with Harrar in attendance as the warmaster's friend. As Maal Lah's warships engaged Borleias' formidable orbital defenses, the warmaster was disconcerted to see several Yuuzhan Vong vessels be destroyed in their haste. The supreme commander asked to contact Lah and the warmaster his kinsman's villip brought before him. A dovin basal had been placed on Borleias' single moon in order to use its gravitic fields to drag down Borleias' orbital mines upon its defense stations. It was a copy of the tactic that the warmaster intended to use at Coruscant. Lah was informed by his kinsman, however, that the assault on Borleias was being watched by the New Republic. The Jade Shadow, a ship aligned to the Jedi, was clandestinely monitoring the battle. Halting the ceremony in a borderline display of blasphemy, the warmaster ordered all his supreme commanders to destroy their yammosks if the beasts were threatened his capture. Lah correctly surmised that the Jedi were attempting to monitor the gravitic frequencies utilized by the telepathic creatures and interpret their signals. Not wishing to show his hand too early, Lah ordered his kinsman to abandon the use of the moon in clearing Borleias' orbital defenses and proceed with a direct assault. Aware that this would require more sacrifice, Lah offered his entire forearm to Yun-Yammka. The limb was severed and replaced with the radank claw. Borleias fell shortly thereafter and was given to Domain Kraal as their holdings.
Triumphs and setbacks
- "Supreme One. Forgive the delay. I was cleansing."
"The gods value the pure. But also the triumphant. What of this fleet you lost?"
- ―Warmaster Tsavong Lah and Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane
The warmaster's second fleet, numbering over a thousand vessels, moved in on Reecee. With the New Republic awaiting a strike on Bilbringi, the Battle of Reecee came as a surprise and the small fleet defending Lah's second staging point was routed. The Yuuzhan Vong fleet jammed the New Republic communications as they approached, leaving Reecee to fall in silence. Having taken the world, Lah ordered the fleet to rearm and ready itself in a nearby hyperspace in the Deep Core, where a protostar known as the Black Bantha concealed its presence. Yuuzhan Vong warships joined the growing armada from all over the galaxy as it prepared to strike Coruscant in conjunction with the fleet Tsavong Lah commanded. The slow process of reprovisioning the fleet, however, was interrupted by a wave of New Republic warships. The unprepared fleet began to engage but, as nine hundred New Republic ships emerged and attacked the Yuuzhan Vong forces, it became clear that a loss was imminent. The warmaster's "right pincer" was routed and destroyed in a total defeat. The Battle of the Black Bantha also resulted in the capture of a live yammosk and the loss of many Yuuzhan Vong supplies. It was not the only bad news received by Lah. His new implant was overbonding with the flesh on his arm, rotting the area around where it had been attached. Shapers seeded the area with diptera maggots to eat away the dying flesh. If the infection spread to his chest, the warmaster was well aware that he would stripped of his rank and and Shamed. In his piety the warrior assumed that the infection was the gods' angry response to the loss of Reecee and the failure to secure the Solo twins for sacrifice. Taking a break from warfare to spend some time purifying his body with steam in his personal cleansing chamber, Lah contacted Anor and demanded a progress report. The executor explained that he was leading a pursuit and that he knew his orders—the Solo twins were not to be harmed. Lah was then interrupted by Seef, bearing the villip of Tsavong Lah's superior, Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane. Custom dictated that Seef's interruption and the fact that she had seen his naked body demanded death. Instead, Lah decided to mate with his communications attendant, sparing her life. He moved into his personal chamber and prepared to consult the villip and his master.
Jamaane, who had already received the news of the loss of the Reecee fleet at the Black Bantha, was less interested in the progress of the advance on Coruscant than by what he hoped was the impending capture of the Solo twins. To the warmaster's surprise, the Supreme Overlord also knew of the rotting implant. Jamaane's take on the situation was that until the elusive Solo twins could be captured, the implant would continue to rot. In a final display of his seeming omniscience, Lah's superior chastised him gently for sparing Seef's life, telling the warmaster to enjoy his use of the communications attendant and that all was forgiven—in victory. Following his discussion with the Supreme Overlord, which uncharacteristically left him trembling with nervousness, Warmaster Lah changed tactics. He moved his forces upon Ralltiir and Rhinnal, where vast numbers of refugees were located. The Yuuzhan Vong captured hundreds of vessels and crewed them with warriors, who guarded the refugees aboard in case a struggle broke out. Ordering the remaining half of his armada to prepare for the final assault, Lah arrayed the hundreds of refugee ships, containing around three million beings, in front of his fleet in a protective screen. During his time in the galaxy, the warmaster had witnessed the New Republic's propensity to save innocent lives despite the cost. After the loss of the Reecee fleet, Coruscant's powerful orbital defenses and droves of orbital mines could no longer be swept aside with dovin basals, or simply pummeled by warships. Instead, the warmaster decided to have the New Republic do his work for him, in a move that was later taught to warrior recruits as a master strategy. Contacting Viqi Shesh, whose identity as a spy was revealed on the HoloNet when she attacked the Solos' apartment, the warmaster instructed the former senator to prove her worth. Tsavong Lah then moved his armada from Borleias to the outskirts of the Coruscant system. Scout vessels were already observing the capital from the safety of the OboRin Comet Cluster. It was from this region of the Coruscant system that the warmaster's armada descended upon the capital of the New Republic.
- "When they could no longer bear the notion that their innocent relatives were being consumed by their own defenses, they lowered those defenses, and we entered their world-sanctuary."
- ―Czulkang Lah teaching on his son's use of a refugee screen
Half the New Republic Defense Fleet was arrayed over Coruscant to defend the capital against Tsavong Lah's assault. The warmaster's armada maintained a loose formation as it moved insystem. A wing of Jedi starfighters approached the fleet and raced in to its center, where the warships bearing yammosks, including the Sunulok, were located. Several warships were lost to the Jedi attack and the Sunulok itself soon came under fire. Despite its rapid speed and the heavy defense afforded to Lah's flagship by two frigates, the Jedi pursued doggedly in the face of their mounting losses. Eventually the Jedi wing struck, destroying the Sunulok's stern and crippling the cruiser. It became apparent that the New Republic were better prepared than expected. Springing an ambush, New Republic warships fired volleys of turbolaser strikes against the incoming Yuuzhan Vong. The blasts hit the refugee screen acting as the fleet's defense and Lah ordered the defenseless vessels to activate their communications systems and beg the New Republic Defense Fleet for mercy. Meanwhile the Jedi continued their attack on the Sunulok, wiping out its complement of yorik-et starfighters and delivering another volley of proton torpedoes. The yammosk aboard the Sunulok died along with Lah's flagship. The warmaster evacuated to the Kratak to continue the battle, confident that the gods had not wished him to die. His refugee screen tactic was already reaping dividends. The Bothan admiral Traest Kre'fey maneuvered his warships away to prevent friendly fire destroying the refugees. General Garm Bel Iblis continued firing upon Lah's fleet despite orders from Admiral Sien Sovv to stand down. Despite the loss of his flagship, Warmaster Lah had succeeded in fracturing the New Republic defense and bore down upon Coruscant to continue the battle. Behind the armada, Fleet Group Three under the command of Wedge Antilles emerged from hyperspace and launched a strike on the rear of Lah's armada. By this time, the fleet had crossed the orbit of Nabatu, the Coruscant system's tenth planet and were well on their way to the Ulabos ice bands. Elements of Kre'fey's fleet group joined Bel Iblis in his attempt to forestall the Yuuzhan Vong advance but the warmaster continued to lead his forces to the capital. Other good news reached the warmaster; the yammosk captured by the Jedi at the Battle of Talfaglio successfully broadcast its location from the secret Jedi base, which was assaulted by a Yuuzhan Vong frigate and destroyed.
By the time Tsavong Lah's fleet neared Bel Iblis and his force, the warmaster's forces had been halved in number. The refugee screen still remained intact, however, and kept much of the New Republic Defense Force at bay. Bel Iblis' force clashed with Lah's armada head on and damage was dealt heavily on both sides. As the refugee screen neared Coruscant's orbital mine network, the remote mines began eliminating the starships in quick succession. Lah's own warships herded the refugee vessels toward the mines, waiting for the moment at which the New Republic defense crumbled. Sure enough, sections of the mine field began being deactivated as elements of the New Republic refused to eliminate its own citizens on the refugee vessels. Suddenly, all the sectors were deactivated and the orbital defenses opened up on Lah's fleet. In scores, the refugee ships were driven into Coruscant's planetary shields, where they began to deal tremendous damage to the defenses. Bel Iblis' Fleet Group, left in tatters following Lah's assault, was out of the battle; Antilles and Kre'fey chased the Yuuzhan Vong toward the planet and made progress in eliminating many more of the warmaster's forces, but the bulk of his fleet remained intact. The Jedi continued harrying the armada, destroying three yammosk-bearing warships; Lah was forced to divert extra attention to protecting his final war-coordinator. On Coruscant, the shield finally fell in a wide area and a dozen Yuuzhan Vong warships followed the surviving refugee ships into the breach before a replacement generator was brought online. The refugee screen tactic had run its course. It had, however, brought Lah's fleet directly over Coruscant. The New Republic counterattacked by suddenly reactivating the mine network, immolating or crippling thousands of Lah's warships. The crippled vessels, under the warmaster's orders, drove themselves into the shields in a fresh attack, while the intact warships traded fire with the orbital defenses and the forces of Antilles and Kre'fey. The shields failed totally under the renewed onslaught and a new wave of warships attacked the surface. The conquest of the galactic capital was well underway. News from Myrkr came in; the youngest Solo, Anakin, had perished in an attack upon the voxyn cloning center. The survival of the project hinged upon the voxyn queen, who was the target of the still elusive Jacen and Jaina Solo. Lah dispatched Harrar to the Myrkr system with his son, Commander Khalee Lah, as an escort, to correct Anor's mistakes and capture the Solo twins.
The capture of Coruscant
- "The gods have given me Coruscant. Now I must give them their Jeedai twins."
- ―Tsavong Lah, to Harrar
Orbital bombardment of Coruscant commenced as the evacuation got underway. Flaming spacecraft and destroyed Yuuzhan Vong warships fell from the skies over the planet-wide city. Yuuzhan Vong agents on the ground concealed themselves in ooglith masquers and infiltrated administrative centers and other important areas across the planet. The New Republic government began to flee the planet, commandeering broad sections of the New Republic Defense Fleet to escort them to safety. The capital's defense fell apart. The Jedi, however, still pursued the warmaster's last yammosk, which Tsavong Lah protected with a wall of yorik-et starfighters, frigates and corvettes composing a sizeable chunk of his attacking force. Viqi Shesh then contacted him from her yacht, the Wicked Pleasure, asking the warmaster to divert forces to intercept the starferry Byrt, aboard which was the infant son of Luke and Mara Jade Skywalker, whom Shesh had succeeded in separating from the Solos. The warmaster sent a frigate to board the Byrt as his assault groups descended toward the embattled surface of the galactic capital. Only by weight of superior numbers was the armada succeeding; Lah's victory was become more and more costly with each hour. Orbital Defense Headquarters, coordinating Coruscant's flagging defense, was destroyed and sent to the surface in flames, along with many of the defense platforms. The warmaster's forces also concentrated their efforts on the communications network, eliminating its satellites quickly. Under the leadership of Commander Romm Zqar, the first wave of yorik-trema dropships lined up for the attack run as the Coruscant Planetary Defense Force launched air-based fighters to hold them off. The success of Lah's invasion was offset by the retrieval of Ben Skywalker by New Republic forces despite Lah's defense of the Byrt, as well as Yal Phaath's angry report that the voxyn project had been destroyed by the Jedi strike team. Viqi Shesh was apprehended by Yuuzhan Vong agents and held in custody. To the warmaster's pleasure, though, Vergere succeeded in capturing Jacen Solo. Over Coruscant, the first wave of dropships began their descent, engaging the planet's static defenses. The ground-based turbolaser batteries fell silent as they were located and eliminated by yorik-et starfighters, but not before they caused high casualities among the first wave. Ultimately, the entirety of the Tsavong Lah's first wave was eliminated as it descended upon Coruscant, destroying in return two thirds of the turbolaser defense batteries. Masked Yuuzhan Vong agents infiltrated the Imperial Palace and attempted to kill Chief of State Fey'lya, who remained on the planet, although the attempt was thwarted.
Commander Zqar dispatched the second wave and accompanied it to the surface. Rather than press the attack on the remaining turbolaser batteries, the second wave of dropships pulled back and disgorged Yuuzhan Vong warriors in personal fliers. A large number descended upon the Imperial Palace. Once the warriors had eliminated the last of Coruscant's static defenses, the drop ships landed and released warriors and Chazrach warrior-slaves to continued the conquest. Observing from aboard the Kratak, Tsavong Lah received word that Chief of State Borsk Fey'lya, who had been captured and detained in his office, was demanding to speak with him. Advised by his trusted friend Harrar from Myrkr, the warmaster was urged not to travel to Fey'lya's office and accept the surrender. Lah realized that the Bothan Chief of State was attempting to utilize the same dejarik tactic that Vergere had used to defeat him during their earlier game; Fey'lya was planning to sacrifice himself to eliminate Lah. Dispatching Romm Zqar to Fey'lya's office in his stead, the warmaster ordered his drop commander to deliver a message to the Chief of State, who had already been poisoned with amphistaff venom. Zqar duly conveyed the warmaster's message that Lah recognized the kintan stride death gambit as a worthy move but that it would not fool him. From the Kratak, Lah observed the result. Fey'lya's suicide bomb detonated with a flash visible from orbit, wiping out twenty five thousand Yuuzhan Vong warriors in an instant and destroying the records and data the Yuuzhan Vong had hoped to obtain from the now-ruined Imperial Palace. Fey'lya's stratagem compounded the heavy casualties already suffered. Furthermore, Lah's corrupt implant was not healing, proving to the warmaster that the gods would not be satisfied without the Solo twins. Giving his blessing to Harrar in the hope that between Anor and the priest Jaina Solo could be captured, Lah remained over Coruscant to observe the final stages of the conquest. A number of evacuating vessels lifted off just below the Kratak, and yorik-et were dispatched to eliminate them. Despite the crew of the Kratak's best efforts, Lah's forces suddenly fell into disarray, allowing the fleeing starships—the Millennium Falcon and the Jade Shadow—to escape. It emerged that, in the shadow of Coruscant's fall, the enemy had learned to jam a yammosk.
Gains and losses
- "Tsavong Lah is in an extremely precarious position. His implants have not yet healed. There are powerful shapers and more than a few priests on the verge of declaring this to be a sign of the god's disfavour."
- ―Harrar, to Khalee Lah
In the aftermath of the battle, the dropships continued to disgorge warriors. Coruscant's great power grids began to fail, plunging the planet-wide city into darkness for the first time in millennia. Yorik-et and other craft were dispatched against any remaining evacuation ships. Meanwhile, Harrar and Khalee Lah pursued Jaina Solo. The warmaster remained unaware that Jaina Solo had in fact captured the Ksstarr and fled the Myrkr system and, when he was contacted via Anor's villip from the frigate, Lah assumed that the executor had good news. When Jaina Solo revealed herself at the other end of the communication and claimed that she would surrender herself and fight her twin brother, Lah feigned delight and told the Jedi woman to wait where she was with the Ksstarr while he dispatched warships to locate her. The warmaster knew full well that Jaina Solo was pretending and contacted Khalee Lah aboard Harrar's personal ship, ordering his son to locate and capture the Jedi and their misappropriated frigate. Nom Anor set off from the Baanu Rass with Vergere in tow, to the depths of space, whereupon the breaking of Jacen Solo was set it motion. In order to bend Jacen Solo to his will and encourage the young Jedi to fight and kill his twin sister, Tsavong Lah instructed Vergere to torture the Human until he accepted the True Way of the Yuuzhan Vong religion. The twin sacrifice could never bear fruit, however, until Jaina Solo was captured. Tsavong Lah's son was all too eager to carry out his mandate to capture Jaina Solo but, as the warmaster ordered him to defer to Harrar's command, Lah noticed as his son hesitated. Displeased with Harrar's failure to tame Khalee's forceful and overeager nature, Tsavong Lah ended the transmission and brooded on the rotting state of his radank implant. Rumors began to circulate that he was in ill favor with the gods and the warmaster became increasingly aware that his health was being monitored by powerful and influential figures.
Tsavong Lah remained in the Coruscant system aboard his newest flagship, the worldship Domain Dal, in orbit over the conquered planet. Former senator Shesh, who had been apprehended by the Yuuzhan Vong after her failed attempt to kidnap Ben Skywalker, was brought before the warmaster. Tsavong Lah awaited the Kuati woman in one of the organic waste-disposal chambers of the worldship. As he felt that Shesh was no longer a useful resource, Lah was surprised when the former senator attempted to claim that she knew of a vital secret pertaining to his person. Intrigued despite his disdain for the woman, Lah heard her out. Shesh asserted that the warmaster's rotting radank claw was not a sign of the gods' disfavor but part of a complex plot hatched by shapers and priests to control him. As he deferred to the advice of the priests and shapers, the rot would subside; when he followed his own course of action, it would worsen. The warmaster became thoughtful at this theory and allowed the former senator to live. The warrior Denua Ku was assigned as her minder and she was set to work monitoring another spy. Over the next days, he remained apprised of the pursuit of Jaina Solo. She escaped the trap set by Harrar and Khalee Lah and fled to the Hapes Cluster. The warmaster's friend, along with his son, tracked Solo across the Hapes Cluster but failed to make progress in capturing her. Furthermore, Solo responded to Harrar's attempts with what the Yuuzhan Vong viewed as blasphemy, claiming to be the incarnation of Yun-Harla, the Yuuzhan Vong goddess of deceit, and misleading Harrar's forces with technology that misled yammosks into believing Yuuzhan Vong warships were enemies. Meanwhile, the restructuring of Coruscant into an image of the ancient Yuuhzan Vong homeworld, Yuuzhan'tar, began. Terraforming agents were released on the planet to begin digesting its buildings. Warriors were sent into the underlevels to flush out refugees and orbital defense platforms, skyhooks and satellites were knocked out of orbit to impact upon the planet's surface, wiping out giant swathes of city with each impact.
The warmaster received word that elements of a New Republic fleet had ousted Domain Kraal from their holdings on Borleias but Lah passed off the news as a retaliatory strike for the fall of Coruscant. Several days later, however, while attending to wartime and administrative affairs, Lah was informed by Supreme Commander Maal Lah that the New Republic forces remained on Borleias and were fortifying the planet. Bemused, Lah dispatched Commander Wyrpuuk Cha to the Pyria system, where Borleias was located, to wipe out the enemy presence there. Once Maal Lah had left, the warmaster was visited by a young priest of Yun-Yuuzhan, Takhaff Uul, who informed him that he was perhaps neglecting his worship of the Creator, as Yun-Yuuzhan was known. Uul insinuated that this neglect was the reason for Lah's failing implant and that perhaps Yun-Yuuzhan would be appeased if those who worshiped him—Takhaff Uul and his fellow priests—were given a world of their own. Suspicious, the warmaster had Uul followed. He learned that the young priest had traveled to the quarters of Ghithra Dal, the master shaper who had attached his radank claw. The warmaster arranged an appointment with Ghithra Dal to review the progress of his implant, awaiting to see if Shesh's assertions proved true. Meanwhile he received word of the failure of Wyrpuuk Cha's fleet over Borleias. Fielding an Executor-class Star Dreadnought, the Lusankya, and ambushing Cha's forces with a host of warships, the New Republic commander, Wedge Antilles, had torn Cha's forces apart. The survivors returned to Coruscant. Lah went to see Ghithra Dal a short time later and summoned Maal Lah to the chamber as his advisor. Discussing their next course of action, the warmaster decided that the recapture of Borleias was going to be a difficult task, demanding the talents of a master strategist. With Lah tied down at Coruscant, the warmaster's thoughts turned to his father. Czulkang Lah had been instructing new generations of Yuuzhan Vong warriors for years in the time since Tsavong had usurped his position. Now, Tsavong Lah recognized that he needed his predecessor's unique talents in the Pyria system. He ordered Maal Lah to prepare a ship to take him to the Domain Lah worldship. Conferring with Ghithra Dal once Maal Lah had departed, Tsavong Lah was quietly excited when the master shaper claimed that the warmaster should consult with the priests of Yun-Yuuzhan in order to learn why his implant was failing. Lah dismissed the master shaper with assurances that he would do so, before brooding on the matter. Convinced that Shesh had been right, he decided to attain the services of a shaper who had no allegiances to the caste. The warmaster ordered his agents to bring Nen Yim, the young heretical shaper who had been at Yavin 4, to Domain Dal. News came in after a time from Harrar and Khalee Lah in the Hapes Cluster. The warmaster's son, along with Lah's friend Harrar, had engaged Jaina Solo and a Hapan warfleet over Hapes, whereupon they were soundly defeated. Harrar reported to Tsavong Lah that his son Khalee had died in battle, bested by Jaina Solo's trickery.
- "I am old. But for my augmented armor, I could barely move. Aches befall me that have nothing to do with the marks I have put on myself over the years. And I am little but an honored prisoner here, unable to lead, and begged by my son not to die."
"This has changed."
"You no longer wish me to teach?"
"I wish you to lead."
- ―Czulkang and Tsavong Lah
The Domain Lah worldship was in orbit over Myrkr when Tsavong Lah arrived to visit his father. Wrapped in a cloak, the warmaster journeyed to Czulkang Lah's teaching chamber, where the aged warrior was discussing strategy with a group of warriors. Upon his son's quiet entry into the chamber, Czulkang Lah dismissed the warriors and approached Tsavong. The warmaster faced his father, Tsavong claimed, as both officer and son, asking his predecessor to take up a command and descend upon the New Republic garrison on Borleias. At first, Lah's father refused, claiming that a temporary command would merely make him even more regretful for having lost the right to lead forces in battle. The warmaster hesitated, wondering whether his aged father planned to usurp him and retake his place as the leader of the Yuuzhan Vong warriors. When Tsavong Lah was assured by his father that Czulkang intended no such treachery, as their disagreements no longer mattered now that the galaxy had been invaded, he assigned a large warfleet, including the healthy worldship of Domain Hul, to the venerable warrior, whom Lah promoted to the rank of supreme commander and dispatched to the Pyria system. The warmaster promised his father that Czulkang could retain command following the Borleias campaign. Tsavong Lah returned to Domain Dal over Coruscant where Nen Yim was ready to examine his implant. The young female shaper wasted no time in informing Tsavong Lah that the implant was being rejected in a unique manner, suggesting that its failure was being engendered. She asked whether Ghithra Dal had frequent access to the implant, a fact that Lah grudgingly confirmed. Yim offered her services in determining whether or not Dal was actively sabotaging the implant, requesting that she be allowed to examine the limb following Dal's next routine check. Assigning Yim to personal quarters and providing her with a cover story, Lah awaited results.
It soon became apparent that Jaina Solo had arrived in the Pyria system from the Hapes Cluster. Tsavong Lah directed both his father and Viqi Shesh, through her spy Tam Elgrin, to capture the young Jedi woman. The warmaster also gave his approval to Nom Anor and Vergere's plans for Jacen Solo. After Nen Yim discerned that the shapers and priests were sabotaging the implant, Lah lured the conspirators to a frigate and fed them to several rancors, creatures native to the galaxy. He also encouraged his father to attack the Borleias garrison head on, believing that the New Republic was developing a superweapon there. After Czulkang Lah failed, the warmaster dispatched Harrar to aid his father in capturing Jaina Solo. Some time later, Czulkang Lah contacted his son from Borleias and informed him that the New Republic garrison had fallen. Exuberant, Lah was shocked when his father then told him that the Domain Hul worldship was about to be destroyed with him aboard. Demanding an explanation, Lah was cut off by his father, who gave him his blessing before doing so. When Tsavong Lah received word that his father had, in fact, been killed over Borleias when the Lusankya rammed the Domain Hul worldship, the warmaster was stunned. Alone in his command chamber, Tsavong Lah wondered whether the gods loved or hated him; they had given him Borleias and his health, yet had taken in return his father and an entire fleet. Tsavong Lah's hopes now rested on the conversion of Jacen Solo to the True Way. The Jedi defected and was converted. This later proved false, however, when Solo suborned the World Brain—the Yuuzhan Vong organism in charge of Coruscant's terraforming. Nom Anor attempted to stop the Jedi but, following a titanic confrontation in the Well of the World Brain, Jacen Solo escaped with the Fosh Vergere, who was seemingly revealed as a traitor all along. Nom Anor and Ch'Gang Hool failed to prevent the young Jedi's flight from Yuuzhan'tar, the terraforming of which began to go awry shortly after Solo's departure. There were some advances in terms of technology; Lah's forces learned to counter the trickery utilized by Jaina Solo to trick Yuuzhan Vong vessels into firing upon one another. On the other hand, the yammosk jamming technology fielded by the New Republic remained an aggravating problem for the warmaster's forces.
A shackled warrior
- "You ask to follow the enemy. I have read our strength reports. We do not have sufficient forces both to maintain the offensive and to hold what we have already taken."
"My Lord. With all respect—we pursue a broken foe. We may expect nothing but a glorious slaughter that adds great glory to your name."
"The enemy that wiped out Komm Karsh was hardly broken. And may I remind you that Komm Karsh's fleet was our sole strategic reserve? From this point, moving any warrior to strengthen one force will weaken another. Our forces will break off offensive operations for the present. We may resume the offensive once we conclude a reorganization that brings more warrior into the field."
- ―Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane and Warmaster Tsavong Lah
At the beginning of the third year of the invasion, Yuuzhan'tar prepared for the arrival of Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane, whose long passage through the Intergalactic Void had come to its end. The new capital of the Yuuzhan Vong empire was ready for its emperor, despite the outbreak of an itching plague caused by problems experienced by the World Brain. Shortly before Jamaane's arrival, however, Warmaster Lah received more unwanted news. Supreme Commander Komm Karsh, who commanded the Yuuzhan Vong fleet's strategic reserve, had been ambushed over the planet Obroa-skai and killed, his forces completely routed. The loss of such a large task force was a blow to Lah's already overextended fleet. Not long after Komm Karsh's defeat, Warmaster Tsavong Lah assembled with thousands of other Yuuzhan Vong to witness the arrival of Supreme Overlord Shimrra Jamaane on Yuuzhan'tar. Aboard his gigantic worldship-citadel, the leader of the Yuuzhan Vong descended to the surface of the planet and issued his greetings. Together with the other high-ranking Yuuzhan Vong who composed the Great Council the warmaster headed into the Hall of Confluence, where Jamaane was to deliver his opening address on Yuuzhan'tar. Jamaane bade them be seated, before his familiar, Onimi, came forward to amuse those in attendance. Silencing his jester, the Supreme Overlord ordered Tsavong Lah to deliver a report on the invasion's progress. The warmaster immediately and enthusiastically reported the conquest of Yuuzhan'tar, the capture of Borleias, Nas Choka's operations in Hutt Space and the overall victory achieved by his forces, making only passing reference to Komm Karsh's demise.
In response, Jamaane criticized the warmaster for the heavy losses at Coruscant, the defeat of Czulkang Lah at Borleias and the costly death of Karsh, whose fleet, Jamaane stressed, had been the sole strategic reserve. As the warmaster protested that he would deliver more victories, Jamaane grew irate and informed Lah that no more campaigns would occur until the depleted ranks of the warrior caste—a full third of which had died during the war—were replenished. Jamaane looked toward High Master Shaper Ch'Gang Hool to create new warriors through surge-coral implants and lowered the breeding age for warriors. Tsavong Lah went on to deliver a report on the new tactics and technologies developed by the New Republic. Faced again with criticism for failing to combat the new threats, Lah was ordered to implement new reforms and research countermeasures. Jamaane moved on to the intendant caste as Executor Nom Anor, who before long blamed Lah for the fiasco of Jacen Solo's false defection. Seething with hatred for Anor, the warmaster observed as the executor suffered under Jamaane's scrutiny. Anor went on to blame Vergere for the failure. Eventually Harrar intervened, sparing the warmaster and the executor further humiliation by emphasizing Vergere's role and unknown loyalties. Jamaane ignored Anor and questioned Lah and his friend on the subject, concluding that the Fosh had her own motives. The last two members of the Elite questioned by Jamaane were High Priest Jakan, on the subject of the growing heretical movement, and Ch'Gang Hool, who was queried on the seeming failure of the terraforming of Yuuzhan'tar. As the High Master Shaper's ineptitude became apparent, Jamaane worked the assembled Yuuzhan Vong into a frenzy and ordered Hool's execution. The shaper was dragged from the Hall of Confluence and put to death. The meeting had proved that Jamaane was determined to formulate cohesive strategies to be put to use against the New Republic, as well as to bring the prosecution of the invasion under his strict supervision.
True to his orders, Warmaster Lah refrained from commencing new hostilities, although a measure of retribution of Komm Karsh's death was attained when the Republic-class cruiser Far Thunder, a capital ship that had been present at the Second Battle of Obroa-skai, was ambushed and destroyed by a Yuuzhan Vong task force. Other than the small victory, Lah kept his warriors from overt offensives. On Mon Calamari, the New Republic recovered and elected an Alderaanian senator, Cal Omas, as its new Chief of State. On Yuuzhan'tar, problems also continued with the terraforming. During a ceremony at which hundreds of high-ranking officers from the capture of the capital were due to be executed at the Square of Sacrifice, the Yuuzhan Vong sewage-processing organisms regurgitated noxious fumes and spoiled the ceremony. Angrily, Jamaane dismissed the onlookers and summoned Lah, Nom Anor and others into the temple of the god Yun-Yuuzhan, to whom the captives had been dedicated. Lah called for the opportunity to press his recent victory against the New Republic but Jamaane was not forthcoming. When the warmaster made the mistake of asking again, he was shouted into silence and prostrated himself, expecting imminent execution. To his surprise, it was Nom Anor who spoke in his favor. The executor echoed Lah's belief that a decisive battle was required and added that through the use of his intelligence network, he could accrue the information necessary to facilitate the final defeat of the New Republic. At first Jamaane ridiculed both warmaster and executor but eventually relented, ordering Lah to mobilize the fleet only when Anor had information that could lead to a total defeat of the New Republic. The Supreme Overlord ordered both Yuuzhan Vong to depart, reminding them that if one failed, the other would die as well. Tsavong Lah began planning his decisive offensive with eagerness. Meanwhile, the New Republic Defense Force embarked on a training campaign, seasoning its troops through a string of minor victories against Yuuzhan Vong worlds. The warmaster mated with a subaltern in keeping with Jamaane's orders that all warriors should do so; he also ensured that the fleet's auxiliaries were trained to guard Yuuzhan Vong holdings while his planned offensive could take place.
The last campaign
Lured to the Deep Core
- "My spies inform me that the New Republic government has fled Mon Calamari and is hiding in the Deep Core. The warmaster and his forces may trap them there and crush them. Without a central government, the enemy will fall apart."
"What spies? What evidence? How do we know this isn't a trap?"
I have correlated the evidence from different independent networks operating on Mon Calamari. The plan for what the enemy calls the 'Final Redoubt' came from one source. Its location came from another agent. News of an emergency appropriation to pay for it came from another. The government's absence from Mon Calamari is public knowledge, though it is presented as a kind of tour of the military. And the fact that the Final Redoubt is guarded by Jedi—in fact by the Solo twins—came from my most reliable agent. After this one battle, the warmaster may sacrifice Cal Omas, the heads of the Senate councils, the Solo twins, and many other Jedi."
- ―Nom Anor, to Tsavong Lah and Shimrra Jamaane
Over the next weeks, Tsavong Lah drew up his plan to invade the Corellian system, in which the still unknown quantity of Centerpoint Station resided. Believing that the enemy would be spread too thinly to defend all Five Worlds, the warmaster felt that he had come up with a foolproof plan. With the fleets ready for a campaign, he went before the Supreme Overlord to make his case. When the warmaster arrived, however, Executor Nom Anor was already present, along with Onimi. Brushing off the executor's congratulations concerning Lah's mating, the warrior presented his plan to Jamaane, who instead ordered Anor to reveal his evidence. It emerged that Nom Anor's extensive spy networks on Mon Calamari had turned up evidence from a multitude of sources that the New Republic government had relocated to the Final Redoubt, a fortress in the Deep Core with provisions and high-ranking officials present in large numbers. Skeptical, Lah was swayed by Anor's claim that Jacen and Jaina Solo were both at the 'Final Redoubt' and the executor's assurances that he had gleaned the information together from a variety of spies. The Supreme Overlord had already been convinced by Anor's evidence. The warmaster agreed that an attack on the 'Final Redoubt', located in the Treskov system in a maze of Deep Core hyperspace lanes, was the best way to finish the war with the decisive battle he had awaited for so long. Once the plan had been drawn up, Tsavong Lah set out to prepare his fleet. An armada whose size neared that of the warmaster's Coruscant invasion fleet was mobilized. Dividing the force into five Battle Groups, each named after a Yuuzhan Vong deity, the warmaster led the armada aboard the cruiser Blood Sacrifice, which acted as the flagship of the Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan. Taking with him the last six living voxyn, as well as tens of thousands of warriors to invade the New Republic's base, the warmaster set off for the Deep Core.
On arrival in the Treskov system, where the moon Ebaq 9, the supposed 'Final Redoubt', was located, Lah was immediately enthused by the howls of the voxyn aboard Blood Sacrifice, who sensed Jedi in the system. One lone fleet guarded the base on Ebaq 9. The warmaster, linked to the cruiser's yammosk via a cognition throne, soon realized that the war-coordinator's signals were being jammed. Confident in the overwhelming number of his warships, Lah conveyed his orders verbally, ordering the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka to engage the lone New Republic fleet while the Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah and the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin flanked the enemy force. Lah kept his own force, as well as the Battle Group of Yun-Harla, in reserve, while he watched the Battle of Ebaq unfold. The warmaster was disconcerted when the enemy fleet formed into a tight formation and broke through the extended line formation of the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka, dealing the force severe damage despite their lesser numbers, but he remained confident that superior numbers would win the day. True enough, the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka began to exact a heavy toll on the enemy fleet. When a second New Republic force arrived, the warmaster underwent a moment of self-doubt before several cargo freighters in the center of the new fleet fled to hyperspace again, convincing Lah that a convoy had stumbled upon the battle. The new arrivals, however, did put an end to the flanking maneuver he had ordered the Battle Groups of Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q'aah to carry out; aware of the risk in continuing the tactic, Lah cancelled the order, instead instructing the Battle Group of Yun Q'aah to reinforce the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka, while the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin engaged the new arrivals with the Battle Group of Yun-Harla providing support if necessary. The fact that more Jedi had arrived with the new fleet cheered the warmaster somewhat—Lah remained convinced that coincidence was the order of the day and that his overwhelming force would defeat any enemy.
It soon seemed that the warmaster was correct; General Keyan Farlander, leading the fleet that had originally been present in the Treskov system, appeared to retreat his forces from the combined power of the Battle Groups of Yun-Yammka and Yun-Q'aah. A surprise was in store for the veteran warrior. Farlander's forces performed a slingshot maneuver around an interdictor missile and barreled into the unfolding battle between the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin and the second New Republic fleet, reinforcing their fellows and leaving Lah's other two battle groups far behind. The warmaster was in the process of redistributing his forces when another fleet entered the system behind the Battle Group of Yun Q'aah, which had been pursuing Farlander's force during its slingshot maneuver. As the new arrivals, which appeared to be a motley assortment of starships, threatened the Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah's rear, Tsavong Lah ordered the force to cease pursuit of Farlander's fleet and deal with the new threat. His subaltern relayed the order before reporting that the Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah's commander, Droog'an, had asked to know if the Battle of Ebaq 9 was an ambush. The warmaster was ready to concede that the appearance of two enemy fleets was suspicious, but as one appeared to be a convoy and the other a slapdash assortment of starships, he dismissed the notion and ordered Droog'an to engage the new fleet immediately. As Droog'an's forces engaged the enemy, they launched a hit-and-run assault and fled, before regrouping for another strike. Meanwhile, Farlander's squadron trapped the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin, which Lah had rerouted to intercept the convoy fleet, and dealt it severe damage. The battle was well underway, although Lah was beginning to witness the disarray and division among the four battle groups he had so far fielded. The enemy had succeeded in engaging his armada in several smaller battles, challenging Lah's numerical advantage with their tactics.
- "Attention all other battle groups! Once our troops are down on Ebaq, you are commanded to withdraw into hyperspace and make your way to Yuuzhan'tar. This battle is lost, but you are ordered to preserve your lives and ships for the victorious battles that will follow. The Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan will cover your withdrawal. Praise to the gods! Long live Shimrra, the Supreme One! Do-ro'ik vong pratte!"
- ―Tsavong Lah delivers his final fleet order
When a mass of New Republic forces emerged in the Treskov system, leaving no doubt that Tsavong Lah had been lured into a carefully orchestrated trap, Lah's tactical displays struggled to relay the vast quantities of data with which they were suddenly inundated. It was now the warmaster who was outnumbered. Fury gripped the warrior but Lah reordered his forces to prepare for the new arrivals. He instructed the Battle Groups of Yun-Harla and Yun-Txiin, engaged with Farlander's fleet and the convoy force, to redouble their efforts before the enemy were reinforced in that region. Lah ordered the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka, the first force to enter the battle which had only just regrouped following Farlander's slingshot escape, to engage the newly arrived New Republic forces in a sacrificial delaying action. With regards to Commander Droog'an and his Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah, Lah instructed the officer to break off his pursuit of the motley fleet and deploy his battle group against a large number of the new arrivals in an attempt to tie down as many opponents as possible. Lah's main concern was to prevent the reinforcement of the original New Republic squadrons; to increase his chances of success he led his own battle group, that of Yun-Yuuzhan, into the fray, attempting to reinforce the Battle Groups of Yun-Harla and Yun-Txiin in their battle with Farlander and the convoy fleet. As Lah's series of orders were relayed and put into effect, however, the warmaster was angered to see that they were proving unsuccessful. Against the new arrivals, the Battle Groups of Yun-Yammka and Yun-Q'aah were failing fast; against their original foes, now reinforced, the Battle Groups of Yun-Harla and Yun-Txiin were faring badly. Having originally intended to lend support to the latter of these two conflicts, Lah realized despairingly that it would be a useless gesture. The warmaster decided that he would not return to the Supreme Overlord and humiliation but that rather he would die in battle. It was then that he remembered the howl of voxyn when his armada had originally arrived in the Treskov system; Jedi were present on Ebaq 9 and the warmaster's vendetta had never faded since his duel with Jacen Solo on Duro two years previously. Ordering his own battle group and Droog'an's Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah to speed to Ebaq 9 without delay, the warmaster prepared his ground troops for a surface attack.
The New Republic forces, alarmed by the warmaster's unexpected tactic, dispatched a number of its own task forces to chase down the Battle Groups of Yun-Yuuzhan and Yun-Q'aah as Lah and Droog'an advanced rapidly on Ebaq 9. Undergoing a punishing assault from the motley fleet, Droog'an force was eventually pressured into turning away from the moon. Tsavong Lah's personal battle group, however, arrived unmolested and far ahead of any pursuit. Faced with the shields protecting the New Republic base on the moon, the construction of which had been only a token gesture to add to the 'Final Redoubt''s credibility, Lah ordered a section of his battle group to immolate itself against the shield. As the assault on the moon base commenced, the warmaster issued a final command to the remnants of his armada. He instructed the surviving commanders to lead their battle groups into hyperspace and return to Yuuzhan'tar once his troops had landed on Ebaq 9. He then addressed the New Republic forces over an oggzil, just as he had done at Duro, and informed them that only Jedi were allowed to land upon Ebaq 9—all other enemies would be destroyed. Once a section shields had failed, Warmaster Lah landed ten thousand Yuuzhan Vong warriors on the moon along with voxyn and rock-chewing grutchyna creatures. The retreat order was issued to the battle groups, with Lah ordering all but a third of the Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan to remain to hold off New Republic reinforcements. Moments later, the warmaster received word that the departing battle groups had been dragged out of hyperspace into vast minefields. The Battle Groups of Yun-Harla and Yun-Txiin were devastated by the mines; Droog'an's battle group fared better, and the remnants of the Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan best of all, despite losing ten thousand warriors in their light armed troop transports. The Battle Group of Yun-Yammka was wiped out entirely, placing the warmaster's overall losses at over a third of his armada.
Still aboard Blood Sacrifice, Lah directed the ten thousand warriors into the New Republic base via villip. Heavy defenses eliminated well over a thousand of the warriors but the warmaster ordered the doomed troops to continue. Once they had destroyed the power source for the moon base's shields, Lah had Blood Sacrifice brought to the surface, whereupon he disembarked his flagship. As he did so, the warmaster broadcast on the oggzil, demanding to know whether Jedi were coming to the moon to protect their fellows. To his surprise, Jacen Solo responded, asserting that he was soon to arrive. Lah promised to allow the young Jedi to land safely, eager to engage his Duro nemesis in personal combat. Meanwhile the six dying voxyn located the tunnel in which the Jedi were hiding and the grutchyna burrowed through the rock past blast doors erected for the base's defense. The warmaster directed the hunt eagerly, dispatching a thousand Yuuzhan Vong warriors and two voxyn to go after Jacen Solo alone, who landed in another part of the base. To his glee, the warmaster realized that Jacen Solo would have only come to certain death on Ebaq 9 to save one person—his twin sister. Tsavong Lah knew that if he could eliminate the Solo twins he could go to the Yuuzhan Vong gods satisfied that he had at last fulfilled his mandate. Mines delayed the progress of his warriors but Tsavong Lah could once again rely on overwhelming numbers to destroy his enemies. Jacen Solo and his sister continued to evade his warriors; time was running out for the twins, however, and the warmaster pressed the advance eagerly. In space, Blood Sacrifice and the remaining warships fended off the New Republic while Tsavong Lah directed voxyn and grutchyna against Jaina Solo's last hiding place; a vertical rocky shaft that gave the Jedi woman a small tactical advantage. Another surprise was to come; one of the warmaster's subalterns handed him the oggzil, from which none other than Vergere communicated her intentions to come to the moon. Lah dismissed her claim that she was a Jedi but the Fosh sent the warmaster into a rage when she mocked his failure to recognize her as a Force-sensitive from the start. He ordered the fleet to let Vergere approach.
- "The Force is stronger than you. The Jedi will be your end, Tsavong Lah!"
- ―Swilja Fenn, 26 ABY
While Lah's grutchyna burrowed their way into Jaina Solo's hiding place and his warriors cornered Jacen Solo, he heard the desperate cry of his subaltern as the junior officer realized that Vergere was approaching the moon base in an A-wing starfighter at maximum speed. With a great explosion of plasma, Vergere's starfighter impacted the central mine shaft and sent a fireball sweeping through the moon base's main tunnel. A wave of heat and radiation instantly eliminated many warriors before the fireball sucked all of the oxygen out of the base's tunnels in a matter of seconds. Any Yuuzhan Vong who didn't perish from explosive decompression experienced syncope, dying while unconscious, or embolisms due to lack of air. Lah's entire ground assault force died within minutes of Vergere's suicidal strike. The warmaster passed out, surviving due to the loyalty of his attenders, who placed a gnullith over his face that allowed him to breathe in the absence of oxygen and an ooglith cloaker to mask him against the cold vacuum. In space, Blood Sacrifice detonated in a massive explosion and the remnants of Lah's armada were destroyed to the last warship. The warmaster awoke beneath the corpses of his warriors. Lah thought of the extent of his failure at Ebaq 9 and considered removing his gnullith to suffocate with his dead warriors. As he remembered that Jaina Solo and her comrades were nearby, however, he abandoned the idea of suicide and prepared an arsenal of weapons, before concealing himself beneath the corpses and waiting for his foe to approach. Sure enough, a medical droid arrived to treat Solo's wounds.
Tsavong Lah sprang from his hiding place and struck off the droid's head, revealing himself to Jaina Solo, the Wookiee Jedi Lowbacca and the Barabel Tesar Sebatyne. Lah threw immobilizing blorash jelly at their feet, rooting his opponents in place, before hurling his tsaisi like a spear through the Wookiee's shoulder. With the Barabel forced to attend to the injured Wookiee, Tsavong Lah was free to engage Jaina Solo. With a double-handed grip the warmaster bludgeoned at Solo's lightsaber blade in an attempt to beat down the Jedi's defenses. Sebatyne fired at Lah with a blaster but the warrior evaded and returned to the attack. Disarming his opponent, Lah lunged in for the kill, but Solo took up her Wookiee friend's lightsaber and sliced off the front of Lah's radank claw before the warrior could react. The Warmaster flew into a rage and delivered a powerful barrage of attacks that Solo barely managed to counter, before his frenzied assault, along with his life, was brought to a sudden halt. Having levitated her own lightsaber with the Force out of Lah's sight, Solo brought the blade streaking in like a spear and ran it through the Warmaster's throat. Swilja Fenn's prophetic words of two years prior rang true; the Jedi, whom Tsavong Lah had pursued relentlessly since the Battle of Duro, had ultimately proved to be the end of the warrior.
A warrior's legacy
- "We have spread ourselves too much, over too many star systems. We have lost too many ships because too many commanders have no more sense of strategy than to fight to the death. We have the late leader of your domain to thank for that."
"Warmaster Lah conquered most of this galaxy. He gave us their capital, now our Yuuzhan'tar."
"Yes, and he spent warriors like so much vlekin doing so, and gave little thought as to how we would hold such vast territories. Things are changing, Zhat Lah. Things must change. The infidels have adapted. They have undermined many of our strengths, but we have undermined ourselves even more. The pride of our warriors weakens us."
- ―Warmaster Nas Choka, Tsavong Lah's successor, and Commander Zhat Lah
The death of Tsavong Lah at Ebaq 9 and the wholesale defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong forces at the battle was the precipitant of much change within the galaxy. Lah's subordinate, Supreme Commander Nas Choka, having proved himself in Hutt Space, was escalated to the rank of warmaster. Choka continued Lah's persecution of the Jeedai heresy on Yuuzhan'tar but brought an end to the vendetta against the Jedi, considering Tsavong Lah's fixation with the Jedi Order pathetic and a waste of resources, a view echoed by Supreme Overlord Shimraa Jamaane later in the war. Instead, Choka attempted to direct the Yuuzhan Vong away from the traditional qualities of the warrior caste—pride and a tendency to fight to the death against whatever odds—as it was these traits that Ackbar had exploited to defeat Lah at Ebaq 9. The new warmaster rewarded warriors who showed initiative and retreated against overwhelming odds. Choka also directed his forces against other threats in order to acquire more resources and consolidate the Yuuzhan Vong hold on the galaxy. Subsidiary threats such as the Imperial Remnant and the Yevetha were attacked. Dissent was also spread among divided systems and planets in a "divide and conquer" strategy previously proposed by Nom Anor.
In this matter, the Yuuzhan Vong were able to consolidate their holdings and prevent the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances, reorganized from the New Republic, from gaining the upper hand. Nevertheless, Tsavong Lah's overextension of the fleets had proved costly. The Galactic Alliance military regained several key worlds around Yuuzhan'tar; Choka organized a strike on the HoloNet communications network, which enabled the Yuuzhan Vong to conquer vast numbers of worlds in a short amount of time and drive the Galactic Alliance back. Ultimately it was not Lah's overextension of the fleet but his vendetta against the Jedi that led to the downfall of the Yuuzhan Vong Empire. The Jeedai heresy Lah had been unsuccessful in stamping out on Yavin 4 gained momentum under the leadership of none other than Nom Anor, who fled the aftermath of the Battle of Ebaq 9 and restyled himself as the Prophet Yu'shaa, leader of the Shamed Ones. By the time the Galactic Alliance, the Imperial Remnant and the Hutts, in a massive mixed faction task force, moved upon Shimrra Jamaane and Yuuzhan'tar, the Jeedai heresy was powerful enough to challenge the Yuuzhan Vong directly and proved crucial in toppling the supreme overlord from his throne. The beliefs of the Yuuzhan Vong were proved wrong—and Tsavong Lah's patron god Yun-Yammka a concoction—when the species discovered that Zonama Sekot, a seed of their long lost homeworld, was present in the galaxy, awaiting their return to pacificity and symbioses with nature after their millennia spent as warmongerers.
Tsavong Lah's impact upon the galaxy was greater, however, than that experienced in the Yuuzhan Vong War. The warmaster's obsession with the Solo twins had been contemporaneous with a clandestine Sith plot to locate a new champion for the ancient Order of the Sith Lords. Following his defeat of Warmaster Lah at the Battle of Duro and other such displays of power and character, Jacen Solo had been selected by Vergere and Lumiya, a Dark Lady of the Sith, as a viable candidate. Vergere's return to the Yuuzhan Vong in 26 ABY had in fact been a deliberate means by which the Fosh could maneuver herself into the position of Jacen Solo's captor, whereupon the Sith began shaping the young Jedi into the man he would one day become—Darth Caedus. In 40 ABY, Lumiya finished Vergere's work and approached Solo, leading him down the path to the dark side of the Force and reanointing him as a Sith. Solo gained control of the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances and initiated his conquest of the galaxy, determined to restore order following the chaos of the Yuuzhan Vong War. As with Tsavong Lah before him, Caedus attempted to remove the Jedi Order as a threat, prompting their retaliation. Fourteen years after Tsavong Lah had begun his long and unsuccessful campaign to bring the Solo twins together in mortal combat, Jaina Solo struck down and killed her brother at the Battle of Uroro Station.
Personality and traits
- "Give me a decisive battle, Supreme One! Let the infidels' blood fill the spaces between the stars!"
- ―Tsavong Lah
Tsavong Lah was a cunning and shrewd individual; he recognized the propensity of his enemies to surrender even their greatest warriors to his forces in return for their own lives and capitalized upon this trait with his ultimatums concerning the Jedi. On the other end of the spectrum, he studied the tendency of the greatest warriors of the New Republic and of the Jedi to risk their lives to protect innocents. It was with this in mind that Lah orchestrated the refugee screen for his advance upon the galactic capital, a tactic which won him his greatest victory. The warmaster was more than capable of exploiting both fear and bravery to his purposes and demonstrated talent at reading the intentions of his opponents at both Borleias, Myrkr and Coruscant. This enabled Tsavong Lah to surprise his enemies frequently, as when he ignored the Bilbringi Shipyards to advance on Coruscant. The warmaster demonstrated a knack for luring his enemies into believing he was attempting one stratagem when in fact he had entirely different goals in mind. Lah did, however, retain a significant number of advisors during his time as warmaster, from the usual battle tacticians and readers employed by all warmasters to the priest Harrar, the executor Nom Anor and the Fosh Vergere. On one occasion, at least, advice saved Tsavong Lah's life when Harrar urged him not to accept Borsk Fey'lya's surrender personally. At Ebaq 9, the warmaster had no such advisors.
By taking advice from individuals such as Anor, Vergere and Viqi Shesh, all of whom had extensive experience in the galaxy Lah was conquering, the warmaster was able to broaden his awareness, to some extent, of the habits and customs of his enemies. This was a necessary approach, as the Yuuzhan Vong often misunderstood the culture of their opponents. Lah demonstrated this tendency to misinterpret on several occasions, such as when he took Han Solo's sarcastic surrender of his son at face value, ordered Shesh to assassinate Fey'lya personally, and believed that Jacen and Jaina Solo would fight each other to the death. Learning dejarik and taking counsel was the warmaster's method of overcoming these gaps in his knowledge. Being able to understand and predict his enemy was important to Lah as a strategist as the warmaster ultimately preferred large-scale, decisive engagements in which he crushed his enemy, disliking surprises or when the battle failed to unfold as expected. Despite these desires and attempts to know and predict his enemy, Tsavong Lah was often misled not by his opponents but by his fanaticism and eagerness to effect the will of the gods.
- "Behold the great soldier, commander of corps
Great Tsavong Lah, the master of war."
Standing at almost two meters in height, Tsavong Lah towered over most other Yuuzhan Vong. With a deep gash carved into his skull from ear to ear, as was customary with the members of Domain Lah, frayed and tattered lips that had been slit in devotion to Yun-Yammka, as well as extensive scarring and tattoos across his visage and skull, the warmaster was shocking in appearance to other species. Originally, Lah's features had been rugged but by the time of the Yuuzhan Vong War they had been rearranged through ritual breakings and heavily scarred. The warmaster had black eyes and a black mane of hair. Once Lah was escalated to the rank of warmaster a living cape was attached to his shoulders by its needle claws. The priests then seeded his bones with larval armor scales, which grew out of his skeleton and stretched his tendons, twisting his joints into new angles and protecting his entire body, other than his lower legs, neck and head, from attack. After the loss of his foot to Jacen Solo, the warmaster replaced the shattered forelimb with a vua'sa claw. During the First Battle of Borleias, Lah sacrificed his left forearm to Yun-Yammka, the god of war, and had it replaced with a radank claw.
Behind the scenes
Development and portrayal
- "In Star by Star, for example, I'm very fond of Tsavong Lah. He has many of the attributes of a classical hero--courage, cunning, dedication. What makes him a villain is that he has no qualms about using ruthless means to pursue his goal. That, and the fact that his goal is to annihilate the Jedi!"
- ―Troy Denning
A major Yuuzhan Vong protagonist in The New Jedi Order series, Tsavong Lah was first introduced in the series' third installment, Michael A. Stackpole's The New Jedi Order: Dark Tide II: Ruin. As in James Luceno's The New Jedi Order: Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse, Lah was portrayed only via Yuuzhan Vong communications devices, emphasizing the true extent of the Yuuzhan Vong hierarchy as it became apparent that the officers operating in the galaxy in the earlier books were far from the leaders of the species. Tsavong Lah debuted in Kathy Tyers's The New Jedi Order: Balance Point, the sixth book in The New Jedi Order. Coming to the fore in Troy Denning's The New Jedi Order: Star by Star as the architect of the capture of Coruscant, a major event in the history of the Expanded Universe, Lah was presented as a master strategist and tactician.
In his subsequent appearances, Lah dealt with the sabotage of his warrior implant, an event first referenced in Star by Star. In Walter Jon Williams's The New Jedi Order: Destiny's Way, Lah's final novel, the warmaster's character arc was brought to its conclusion. Destiny's Way acted as a counterweight to the events of Star by Star, as it concluded with a great New Republic victory rather than a crushing defeat. Removing Lah from center stage as a Yuuzhan Vong villain allowed more focus upon Shimrra Jamaane, whose introduction in Destiny's Way paralleled Lah's departure. Jacen Solo's defeat of Lah at Duro was later referenced several times in post-New Jedi Order material as proof of his powerful abilities.
Tsavong Lah's character was expanded upon by six different authors in detail, Kathy Tyers, Greg Keyes, Troy Denning, Matthew Stover, Aaron Allston, and Walter Jon Williams. In an interview, author Troy Denning, in whose novel Star by Star Tsavong Lah played a major role, claimed that he enjoyed the warmaster's character due to Lah's heroic qualities of cunning and bravery in the face of the traditionally villainous plot of destroying the Jedi. Indeed, in Star by Star, Denning's explorations of Lah's relationships with his crew, his advisors, with the communications officer Seef and with Shimrra Jamaane, present another side to the warrior rather than just villainy. In The New Jedi Order: Traitor, Stover portrayed Lah through Nom Anor's eyes as a dangerous fanatic, an aspect of the character Walter Jon Williams explored in Destiny's Way and one which leads to the warmaster's downfall at Ebaq 9.
The warmaster was given an entry in The New Essential Guide to Characters, published by Del Rey in 2002, along with an illustration by Michael Sutfin. Many of the pictures of the warmaster came from Japanese cover art, but his entries in The New Jedi Order Sourcebook, the 109th issue of The Official Star Wars Fact File and The New Essential Chronology also came with illustrations. To date, Warmaster Tsavong Lah is one of three named Yuuzhan Vong figurines included in the Star Wars Miniatures Roleplaying game, the other two being Yomin Carr and Nom Anor. Lah's unique model was included in the 2005 Star Wars Miniatures: Universe set.
Death scene and inconsistencies
- "As for his final words—well, they were fighting in a vacuum and no one would have heard them. I suppose I could have gone into his point of view and have him think, "Curse you, Jaina Solo! GHACK! <thud>", but it wouldn't have been terribly enlightening."
- ―Walter Jon Williams
With the publication of Destiny's Way in October 2002, author Walter Jon Williams was active on TheForce.net's Jedi Council Forums, responding to the queries and feedback of fans. Tsavong Lah's death scene was a point of much discussion, and Williams chose to respond to the suggestions that Lah's final moments had been brief, anti-climactic and underwhelming. The author challenged these opinions on several levels. Firstly, Williams suggested that hand-to-hand fights were in reality rapid and chaotic affairs, rather than long and drawn out, and that he had been attempting to portray "gritty" realism in the novel.
From an in-universe perspective, Williams also argued that Tsavong Lah was facing an opponent who had significantly more skill and experience and that the warmaster had negligible chances of winning the fight. Williams also recalled Jacen Solo's defeat of the warmaster on Duro as an example of Lah's lack of martial prowess; in fact, other than his clash with Jacen Solo on Duro and his "off-screen" battle with a vua'sa in Edge of Victory II: Rebirth, the warmaster is never shown engaging in personal combat until Destiny's Way. Williams dismissed a complaint concerning Tsavong Lah's lack of last words and Solo's disinterest in the warmaster's death throes, reminding the fans that the vacuum-based duel and Solo's pressing concerns for Lowbacca precluded any such scenes.
There are a number of minor inconsistencies surrounding the time at which, as well as the extent to which, Lah involved himself personally in the prosecution of the invasion. While the novels make it clear that Lah is directing events from the background in Dark Tide II: Ruin and Agents of Chaos II: Jedi Eclipse and that he takes personal command in Balance Point, The New Essential Guide to Characters and Tsavong Lah's Databank entry state that Lah assumed command after the Second Battle of Helska, leading his forces to victory at Dantooine and Dubrillion, whereas other sources, as well as the novels, clearly have Commander Shedao Shai as the military leader during this period of the war. The New Essential Chronology errs in the opposite direction, placing Lah's arrival after the battles at Kalarba, Druckenwell, Falleen and Rodia. The first contradiction can be interpreted as referring to when the control over the direction of the invasion switched from the Praetorite Vong to the Yuuzhan Vong warrior caste proper. As The New Essential Chronology is written as an in-universe document by historian Voren Na'al, Lah's apparently tardy assumption of personal control can be attributed to Na'al's errors rather than those of the real world authors.
- I, Yuuzhan Vong"—Star Wars Gamer 8 "
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 109 (TSA1-2, Warmaster Tsavong Lah)
- "Who's Who in the New Jedi Order" – Star Wars Insider 57
- The New Essential Guide to Characters
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 140 (YUU12, Yuuzhan Vong Incursions)
- Star Wars Miniatures: Universe
- The New Essential Chronology
- The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 32
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- "10 Key Battles" – Star Wars Insider 133
- The Essential Reader's Companion