- "Madam Director Ysanne Isard, I regret not being able to bring you this message personally, but not that much. In the time I have been associated with you I have found you to be sociopathically self-centered, prone to irrational and impulsive reactions to situations, and prey to a preference for appearance over substance. I have no doubt these affectations were seen as skills by the late Emperor, and indeed may have enhanced your ability to comply with his orders, but by no means are these traits that make for great, or even adequate leadership."
- ―Captain Sair Yonka of the Star Destroyer Avarice announces his defection from Isard's empire
Ysanne Isard was a female Human who served as the Director of Imperial Intelligence for several years during the Galactic Civil War, and ruled the Galactic Empire herself for a time after the Emperor's death in 4 ABY. Isard followed her father, Armand Isard, into Imperial Intelligence at a young age, blossoming into a model field agent. After the Alliance to Restore the Republic stole coordinates of the location of the Death Star's construction site, Ysanne was sent on a mission to the planet Darkknell. While the mission was a failure, she survived but the prospect of losing considerable face back on Imperial Center infuriated Isard. She instead found a way to pin the blame on her father. Backed up by members of the Emperor's Royal Guards, she accused her father of treason; the Emperor had him executed within the hour, and she took her father's position as Director of Imperial Intelligence. Isard was exceptionally close to Palpatine, so much so that she was given the second Executor-class Star Dreadnought constructed, the Lusankya. Buried underneath the surface of her homeworld of Coruscant, the Lusankya became a prison and brainwashing facility, and Isard used it to torture the secrets out of many enemies of the Empire, as well as convert selected prisoners into sleeper agents.
After the Battle of Endor, Isard became an advisor to Grand Vizier Sate Pestage, all the while engineering his downfall. In the same day, Isard had Pestage and the Imperial Ruling Council assassinated, leaving her Empress in all but name. Isard commanded a sizable force at the height of her power, though the fact she held Coruscant made her a target for the New Republic. Knowing Coruscant would inevitably fall to the New Republic, she had the Krytos virus developed, so that they would inherit a sick world and hopefully fragment. Isard would eventually make contact with Grand Admiral Thrawn, who, was within the Unknown Regions maintaining his shadow empire. After blasting off Coruscant in the Lusankya, Ysanne Isard supported a political coup of Thyferra, and became a warlord. Rogue Squadron followed her to Thyferra, though, and managed to defeat her forces and capture the planet. Isard was presumed dead.
She had, in fact, survived, and remained in hiding during the Thrawn campaign, biding her time and contemplating past mistakes. Sometime during her time in hiding, she was contacted by the reborn Palpatine, and pledged to steal back her Lusankya and present it to him. When her clone allied herself with warlord Delak Krennel and reemerged in the Ciutric Hegemony, Isard provided Rogue Squadron with the location of the Lusankya prisoners, among them Rebel Alliance General Jan Dodonna, to discreetly obtain their aid in eliminating her clone. She betrayed the New Republic, though, and attempted to steal the Lusankya from New Republic control at the Bilbringi shipyards. However, a New Republic Intelligence agent, Iella Wessiri, was waiting for her and shot her dead.
- "The Isards make their own luck."
- ―Ysanne Isard
Ysanne Isard was born into a wealthy and influential family on the planet Coruscant in approximately 30 BBY, during the waning days of the Galactic Republic. Her father, Armand Isard, was the Director of the Senate Bureau of Intelligence, becoming the Director of Imperial Intelligence when the Republic was reformed into the first Galactic Empire in 19 BBY. The Isards flourished under Palpatine's rule, possessing far more power and prestige than during the time of the Republic. Ysanne was born with heterochromia iridium, possessing one red and one blue eye, though her features were said to be otherwise attractive. She was raised on Coruscant and grew up in the Emperor's Court; as a young child, she idolized her father, boasting of his power to anyone that would listen. Armand Isard saw fit to allow his young daughter to accompany him to work, and had no qualms about her being in the presence of dangerous individuals like High Inquisitor Antinnis Tremayne; others did, however, and often questioned the presence of a child in high-security areas. During the Great Jedi Purge, Ysanne went with her father to Imperial facilities on Coruscant often, though she displayed little awareness of his work: aiding Palpatine's Dark Jedi in hunting down Jedi fugitives. She was also known to attend Imperial party receptions with her father, rarely leaving his side.
Any naïveté present in Ysanne Isard was gone by the time she reached adolescence, when the coldness and ambition she inherited from her father began to manifest itself. Armand began training his daughter from a very young age as a field operative, hoping for her to follow in his footsteps and gain a position in Imperial Intelligence. Ysanne was incredibly ambitious, and, after flourishing and growing into an expert field agent, she began to plot her ascension behind his back. She did not take advantage of her father's position, using her own talents—augmented by her vigor and ruthlessness when dealing with enemies of the Empire—to rise above her peers. She built up a plethora of contacts and alliances within Imperial Intelligence, who were able to help her in acquiring information that her rank did not allow her; despite the most stringent of security procedures, she managed to find out about the Death Star project at least a year before it was officially announced. From a young age, Ysanne developed a close personal devotion to the Emperor, and found his power and charisma attractive; she eventually came to love him. By the time she was in her twenties, Isard had become one of the best field agents among Imperial Intelligence.
Isard had a multitude of fellow agents who acted as her back-up on assignments; although she was a capable and cunning operative, Ysanne lacked physical strength, which these men provided in abundance. In addition, she also personally led a brute squad composed of former stormtrooper NCOs—men who had been chosen for their physique rather than their intelligence. She along with the rest of her squad specialized in "dagger and fist" missions. The male members of her squad were also widely rumored to be her lovers in addition to her muscle. Although these rumors were unsubstantiated, it was known that Isard had little time for a conventional social life due to being completely dedicated to the structure of the New Order. Isard saw agents such as Jahan Cross to be cheaper than hired guns, such as the bounty hunter, Boba Fett. In 3 BBY, Ysanne ran into Cross outside the office of Armand. She revealed to him that his mission to assassinate Adan Dooku wasn't done because the Count was an enemy of the Empire, but rather done at the request of power hungry factions in Serenno's government.
By 0 BBY, Ysanne was one of the foremost field agents of her time, and Armand was proud to have her as his daughter. He nevertheless felt threatened by her ambition, especially due to her and her brute squad's departure from his own policy of subtle and civilized ruthlessness. Fearing that she would attempt to overthrow him as director, the elder Isard decided to rid himself of her threat.
Mission to Darkknell
- "I have an important job for you."
"It could be a career-maker for you. It also could be a career-breaker for a large number of others."
- ―Armand Isard with his daughter just prior to the mission to Darkknell
One year before the Battle of Yavin, Ysanne Isard was summoned by her father to meet with him in his office, where he outlined the parameters for her next mission, to the world of Darkknell. Agents of the Alliance to Restore the Republic had managed to steal a set of datacards containing coordinates to the exact location of the Death Star's construction site at Despayre, and a transfer between Alliance agents was due to take place on Darkknell. Isard was tasked with retrieving the datacards, capturing the Rebel agent sent to pick them up, and identifying the traitor who had stolen them, though the datacards were by far the most important part of her mission. Ysanne was not permitted to take the usual full complement of Intelligence forces with her due to the secrecy of the mission, though her father allowed her to take one of her most trusted enforcers—a hulking man named Trabler—to assist her.
Acting under the false identity of Darkknell Special Security agent Katya Glasc, Isard passed through Darkknell's customs, heading immediately to the capital city of Xakrea. She knew that the Rebel would be taking refuge among the fringe population of Xakrea, and planned to visit any individual who provided identity-changing services. Knowing that anyone who would provide him with a new identity would sell her his real identity, she had Trabler drive her to each establishment in turn, starting with Arky's Emporium of Forgotten Treasures. Once there, she encountered Hal Horn, a high-ranking Corellian Security Force officer, and enlisted his help in searching for the Rebel. Horn was searching for a criminal, Moranda Savich, who Isard claimed to have caught sight of. She ushered the Corellian out of the building, revealing no details about Savich, and guided him back to her rented landspeeder. En route, they saw Moranda Savich speaking with Trabler; Isard ordered her enforcer to shoot the woman. With Savich dead, Horn was in Isard's debt, though he initially refused to help her in hunting down Rebels. She used the recently reported death of Horn's fellow Corellian Garm Bel Iblis against him, claiming that as the Rebel they were hunting had killed Bel Iblis, it was Horn's duty as a Corellian to help her track him down. She claimed that Bel Iblis was a loyal Imperial, though in truth his assassination had been ordered by Armand Isard because of the Corellian's anti-Imperial tendencies.
Isard visited various criminal establishments all over Xakrea, trying to force information pertaining to the Rebel Alliance out of them, though none of the meetings proved fruitful. Horn, clearly recognizing Ysanne and her bodyguard as citizens of Imperial Center, became suspicious of them, and secretly sought to find an opportunity to abandon them and return to Corellia. Eventually, in a cantina named the Continuum Void, Isard learned that the subject of one of the holographs of suspected Rebels had had something extremely valuable stolen from him earlier in the day. The Devaronian barman could not identify the thief, though he told them that it was a brown-haired Human female. Knowing that Moranda Savich was a well-known thief, she secretly had Trabler check local police and hospital records to find out if they had recovered Savich; Isard then led Hal Horn back to her safehouse.
Horn had outlived his usefulness, and Isard suspected that he had attempted to hide Savich's role in the theft of the datacards, for reasons unknown. After Trabler reported back and informed her that Savich did not show up on any local hospital or police records, she had him travel to the safehouse before they reached it, ready to ambush the CorSec officer. Horn was able to defend himself from Trabler's crude blows, however, and managed to incapacitate him and steal his blaster. He and Isard exchanged several blaster bolts, all of which barely missed their intended targets, before Trabler resurfaced. Horn was again too quick for the man, stabbing him with a hidden vibroblade. Her enforcer killed, Isard had no choice but to listen to Horn, who destroyed a holograph of Moranda Savich—the only conclusive means Isard had of identifying her. Horn confirmed that it had been Savich who had stolen the datacards from the Rebel at the Continuum Void cantina, and offered to help Isard track her down in exchange for his life. Knowing Horn was her only chance at recovering the datacards, Isard agreed to his proposition, on the condition that Horn wear a choke-collar. The irremovable device would cut off the blood flow to the Corellian's neck and kill him at Isard's command, or else whenever she perished. Horn agreed to this, and allowed the field operative to fix the collar to his neck.
With few leads to follow, Horn deduced that the Continuum Void was their best bet for locating Moranda Savich, as it stocked Gralish liqueur, a favorite beverage of hers. Once there, however, Savich was nowhere to be seen, and the barman was also missing—Horn theorized that Savich had sent him elsewhere, tying up a loose end which could lead Isard to her. They also learned that she was acting with an accomplice—either a Rebel agent or a fellow criminal. Initially, Ysanne suspected that Seb Arkos, the owner of Arky's Emporium of Forgotten Treasures, was the accomplice, though Horn, who'd had dealings with Arkos previously, told her that the information broker was unlikely to get himself involved with anything as serious as Savich's situation. Isard planned to track down the manager of the cantina and listen to whatever story Savich had spun him; from there, they could backtrack through it and find another lead to the thief and her accomplice.
This was, however, a ploy by Savich intended to distract Isard, while the criminal found the highest bidder for the datacards. Midway through their search for the barman's known associates, the two noticed several occurrences of Darkknell defense airspeeders speeding through the city's streets, which they suspected were related to the Rebel agents running amok. Isard decided to abandon their previous strategy and return to the safe-house, where she could tap into local records to find out what the defense airspeeders were up to. Once there, she was able to confirm that the airspeeders were responding to Savich; almost immediately afterwards, Horn received a comlink message from the woman, who told Isard that she would hand over the datacards for one million credits, and nothing less. Savich told them to meet her with the money at a nearby warehouse, where she hoped Isard and local defense forces would have an auction of sorts. Isard, however, hacked into the local files once again, sending the entire Darkknell security force on a non-existent training exercise to the nearest spaceport. They were then interrupted by a woman named Allyse Conroy—actually Savich in disguise—who claimed to be an old friend of Horn's. When Darkknell Defense Agency officer Nyroska arrived, Savich claimed that she was Ysanne Isard, and that Isard and Horn were Rebel agents. With Isard unable to provide proper identification, Nyroska took Savich's word for it, and had all of them transported to his headquarters. Savich managed to escape soon after Ysanne showed them her identification; the datacards had made their way into Mon Mothma's hands, and Isard had failed in her mission.
Rise to power
- "I had expected this someday, you know, Ysanne."
"Of course; I am your daughter. It's over for you now, father, but fear not. The Isard legacy is in very good hands."
- ―Armand and Ysanne's last exchange to each other
The prospect of losing considerable face back on Imperial Center infuriated Isard, so she instead found a way to pin the blame on her father. She eventually found her opportunity when she uncovered evidence that her father planned to overthrow the Emperor. Upon her return, Armand told his daughter that she would not be executed for her failure. Rather than express gratitude, however, Ysanne launched a stinging attack against Armand, claiming he knowingly sent her on a suicide mission, that he was a member of the Rebel Alliance, and that he had prevented the assassination of Garm Bel Iblis from succeeding. Backed up by members of the Emperor's Royal Guards, she accused her father of treason; the Emperor had him executed within the hour. It was rumored that Ysanne herself fired the shot that killed him.
Isard almost immediately took the reins of Imperial Intelligence and the Imperial Security Bureau respectively from her father, replacing him as Director. Now that she had finally achieved the power she craved, she put all her effort into pleasing Emperor Palpatine, the only person who mattered. Isard ruled through the careful use of fear, making sure to let her subordinates know that if they failed she would have them severely punished. While this did not engender loyalty, it worked to keep her minions in line. Sometimes, though rarely, Ysanne used rewards for good performances as a way to motivate those under her command. She was rarely able to keep her anger under control, however, and any promotions handed out were frequently rescinded. Officially, her power was circumscribed by the Ubiqtorate, a group of powerful advisors, although she did not argue with it. In actuality, her real purpose was to monitor the behavior of those of the Ubiqtorate members.
Isard made many suggestions to the Emperor about how he might rule his Empire more effectively, and he provided her with whatever resources were necessary to achieve her means. One of her suggestions was to build a prison center which could also act as a brainwashing facility. She wanted to be able to capture members of the Rebel Alliance, brainwash them into becoming sleeper agents, and send them back to their superiors, awaiting the right moment to activate them. Palpatine was impressed by her ideas, and awarded her with the second Executor-class Star Dreadnought known to exist. While Darth Vader's flagship Executor was constructed at Fondor, its twin was constructed at Kuat—and was also originally named Executor to conceal the existence of a second ship. For years, both shipyards claimed to have built the famous Executor, but Isard re-christened her Kuati vessel as Lusankya. Although the exact details of how he did it would forever elude Isard, Palpatine secretly had the ship placed deep underneath the cityscape of Coruscant, using his power with the Force to remove it from any witnesses' memories. She also ensured that several members of the Ubiqtorate who attempted to use the Intelligence apparatus for their own ends were "reassigned" to the Lusankya. As such, her power steadily increased until she effectively was the entire Imperial security apparatus, suppressing elite intrigues and civic unrest alike. Around six months after the Battle of Yavin, Palpatine confided the location of her new facility to her, at the same time that Vader's Executor became operational. Isard's first prisoner was General Jan Dodonna of the Rebel Alliance, the man responsible for the plan to destroy the Death Star. Dodonna became a leader figure among Isard's prisoners, who were made up largely of his fellow Rebels, but also of ineffectual officers or personal enemies of Isard's. Overall, the Super Star Destroyer took in millions of inmates, and it ultimately served its purpose well; the thought of the shadowy "Lusankya" facility struck fear into most Rebels' hearts, with many sleeper agents being successfully deployed among the ranks of the Rebellion. Much of her time was taken up dealing with the Rebel Alliance—Isard took them far more seriously than Palpatine did, but was unable to bend his opinion on the matter. Although Isard was feared by many, ultimately most carried out her orders out of respect, and not simply fear. Isard was also referred to as an admiral by some.
While most of her work was done in secret, Ysanne was occasionally called upon by the Empire to perform more public actions. On at least one occasion, she personally thanked civilians on behalf of the Empire, such as Garik Loran, a child holovid actor who starred in Imperial propaganda films. At some point during her tenure as Director, Isard was responsible for naming a new prison on Coruscant; she named it the Armand Isard Correctional Facility, after her father. Palpatine also had her spy on close confidants to gauge their loyalty at some of the Emperor's elaborate parties, which she regularly attended. At one such event, Isard learned of Mara Jade, one of the Emperor's Hands. As she could not find an ounce of information on Jade, Isard immediately marked her as a potential enemy, and questioned Palpatine about her loyalty. Palpatine had no fears about Mara Jade, though, and told Isard he feared betrayal from her more than Jade. Furious, Isard held an intense personal grudge against Jade, one she made no attempt to hide.
Sometime during the Galactic Civil War, one of Isard's agents, a man named Vune Willic, was framed for attempting to assassinate Emperor Palpatine at the Galactic Games on Imperial Center. His attempts were foiled, and Isard had him imprisoned, and scheduled his execution. It was an embarrassment to her that high-ranking Imperial officials plotted to kill Palpatine, though she was able to smooth things over in the end by framing him in their place to downplay the threat. Willic was given a dose of truth serum, and Isard got a chance to test out the new YI-5 Surveillance/Interrogation Droid. Vune Willic gave a clean confession for the HoloNet, and Isard had him killed the next day.
Around this time, some Imperial counterintelligence agents intercepted a transmission from Leia Organa, one of the leaders of the Rebel Alliance, in which Organa called upon Alliance forces to rally in three cities: Bestine on the planet Tatooine, Dearic on the planet Talus and Keren on the planet Naboo. Isard sent a communiqué containing a copy of the recording to senior Imperial naval officers and called for Imperial forces to be assigned to capture the three cities.
During this time, Isard was also involved in the development of the Conqueror, an Imperial-class Star Destroyer equipped with a superlaser, much like the one on the Death Star. After the construction of the ship was finished, the Conqueror was stationed in the Mustafar system, where a single test shot was fired with the superlaser at one of the system's uninhabited planetoids, obliterating it completely. Shortly after the test, Isard was present on Mustafar, where she met with the Blackguard, a sect of Dark Jedi with whom the Imperial Intelligence had formed an alliance necessary to the Conqueror project. Isard and a group of Blackguard Elite Minions rode a speeder to a landing site, where supply shuttles from the Conqueror arrived to once a day. When they reached the site and exited the speeder, the shuttle had not arrived yet, so Isard took her time to remind the Blackguard of the utmost importance of the operation. Suddenly, a group of Rebels—members of Renegade Squadron sent to destroy the Conqueror—emerged from their cover, and a firefight ensued. Isard was outgunned, and she commanded the Blackguard to fall back. The Dark Jedi provided suppressive fire, keeping down the Rebels while Isard retreated back to the speeder. The surviving Blackguard then jumped into the speeder, and Isard fled from the site. Isard warned the Conqueror's commander, Admiral Victor Strang, of the impending arrival of the Rebels aboard the Star Destroyer. Nevertheless, the Rebels were able to infiltrate the Conqueror by using the supply shuttle, and they destroyed the superlaser-equipped vessel from within with explosive charges.
In 3 ABY, Isard visited the base of Baron Soontir Fel, leader of the 181st Imperial Fighter Group, who had caught her eye at previous functions. Isard had been sent to inform Fel of the impending attack at the Rebels' base on Derra IV, orchestrated by Vader and Mitth'raw'nuruodo. She attempted to seduce Fel, both sexually and with offers of promotions and power. The pilot refused to be captivated by these advances, though Isard simply claimed to have been sent by the Emperor to test his loyalty. As he had passed this test, she presented him with an offer to fly at Derra IV, Fel accepted, though for his rejection Isard had marked him as yet another enemy—something which Fel himself recognized and feared. Isard presumably played a part in the operations at Derra IV, as she was present at the awards ceremonies that followed. Although she was no longer an active field agent, Isard kept herself in good physical condition, often working out in gyms, and undergoing strenuous holographic training exercises. She was known to train against holograms of her enemies, letting out her frustration against them in a less volatile environment.
- "Ysanne Isard, head of Imperial Intelligence, acted as a neutral intermediary between the two parties. Neither faction realized Isard's true goal until it was too late. Isard was secretly pitting each side against the other so she could rise from their ashes and rule as Empress."
- ―New Republic historical document
In 4 ABY, the Rebel Alliance destroyed the second Death Star, taking with it the Emperor and Darth Vader. The Empire was left in a state of decay, and a huge power vacuum was left by Palpatine's death—one that many, including Isard, sought to fill. Infuriated by the Emperor's death and the celebrations on Imperial Center that followed, Isard deployed her forces and arrested hundreds of thousands of civilians celebrating the Rebellion's victory. Although she successfully managed to suppress the revolt, she also discovered that none of the other surviving Imperial leaders had even reacted to the protests. This led to her deciding that the other Imperial leaders are incapable of leading the New Order, and thus made plans to ensure the downfalls of Grand Vizier Sate Pestage, General Paltr Carvin, and Grand Moff Hissa. After overcoming the initial shock of the death of her idol, Isard saw how things could be used to her advantage. Grand Vizier Sate Pestage had taken the reins of the Empire, though his paranoia and stress made him a weak ruler; Ysanne took advantage of this, acting as a neutral party between Pestage and the Imperial Ruling Council, who sought to claim power for themselves. Pestage was soon eating out of Isard's hand, and she began to maneuver both his and the Council's downfall.
Soon after Endor, Isard's agents captured Mara Jade and the Director had her placed in captivity. After conferring with Pestage to learn as much as possible about the woman, Ysanne decided that she was too great a threat to be an ally, and began to have her brainwashed into giving Isard secrets about the Empire that she was not previously aware of. Ysanne Isard could not touch the Force, and did not give it much thought or consideration, so it was unsurprising that she underestimated Mara Jade's abilities with it. The Emperor's Hand used a mind trick to have her interrogator release her and allow her access to a computer terminal. Isard's men detected this immediately, and she personally began to track Jade through the labyrinthine Imperial Palace. She enlisted a tech specialist named Tal Burren to assist her in tracking Jade's movements. They eventually realized Jade was in Isard's personal office, but by the time they arrived, she was gone. The Emperor's Hand had stolen one of Isard's datapads with high level security clearance, and was using it to travel through the building unhindered. Jade had left them many false leads, ordering dozens of shuttles to various docking bays; Isard had men dispatched to each, though she herself went to her personal shuttle Lokvar. Jade ultimately escaped, something which Isard took personally. She made the woman a sworn enemy, and vowed to have her thrown into the bowels of the Lusankya when they next met. Her agents chased Mara Jade to Kintoni, though after that her whereabouts eluded Isard.
Sometime after becoming Pestage's advisor, Isard discovered Palpatine's personal cloning center deep within the Imperial Palace. She had a single clone made of herself, before destroying the remainder of the Spaarti cloning cylinders. The clone was kept in suspended animation in the Lusankya, and Isard confided its existence to none. She intended to use it to perform a task she would only trust herself to do, and always planned to dispose of it.
Over the next several months, Isard made Pestage look incompetent to his peers in the Ruling Council, giving him bad advice and undermining his authority. She similarly isolated the Cabal, causing great discord among the remnants of the Empire—all part of Project Ambition. For six months, the Rebel Alliance—now reformed as the New Republic—consolidated their forces, making few large-scale attacks on Imperial territory. However, Pestage began to notice the New Republic becoming more active, and he and Isard deduced that they were planning something against his Empire. Ysanne advised Pestage to leave bait for the Rebels, suggesting the world of Brentaal IV for such a trap. She chose this planet because the majority of the Ruling Council's members had holdings there, and, if everything proceeded as she had planned, would be infuriated by the inevitable loss. Admiral Lon Isoto—thought to be an incompetent fool by nearly all his superiors—was in charge of Imperial forces at Brentaal, and Pestage pointed out that to engage the New Republic with him in command would be suicide. Isard informed the Grand Vizier, however, that Isoto was staunchly supported by the Ruling Council, and any failure on his part would be their failure. Unable to resist a potential opportunity to undermine his rivals, Pestage eventually agreed, though only on the condition that the 181st Imperial Fighter Group was present. Isard, meanwhile, informed the Council that Pestage wanted to keep Isoto in place, to their fury.
Isard ordered Baron Fel, the leader of the 181st, to prevent planetary invasion by the New Republic, but nothing more. When they learned that Admiral Isoto was the man charged with defending Brentaal—a target of Admiral Ackbar's for months—the New Republic launched an attack, led by the Independence, defeating preliminary Imperial forces and capturing Brentaal's moon base. Baron Fel incurred heavy losses, and, after the initial battle, told Isard of his displeasure at having his men sent to die. Isard, however, was able to keep the furious Fel in check; she had somehow learned of his relationship with Syal Antilles, and goaded him with the possibility of killing his brother-in-law Wedge Antilles, the leader of the New Republic's Rogue Squadron. Fel replied that he would not hesitate to kill Antilles, though, clearly caught off guard by Isard's knowledge of his secret marriage, he began to keep his complaints to himself. Isard ordered Fel and the other Imperial forces to Brentaal's surface in the wake of the next wave of the New Republic fleet.
Pestage was not happy at how events were playing out, though Isard managed to bring him around to her way of thinking. She had Isoto withdraw his fleet so that the Rebels could establish a base on the surface—a move which appalled the Ruling Council members. The Councilors called for Isoto's head, and pleaded with Isard to make Pestage see reason and appoint a competent officer. Simultaneously, Pestage had Ysanne meet with the Council to try to persuade them to stop supporting Isoto. Isard manipulated both parties, telling each faction that the other refused to make a change—the members of the Council then began contemplating a coup. Everything was proceeding according to plan for Isard.
- "There, now Pestage will be mine, and after him, the Empire of my master. Nothing will stop me…"
- ―Ysanne Isard just prior to the beginning of Project Ambition
With the largest battle to date just hours away, Isard was confronted by Soontir Fel through a hologram. Fel was furious at her interference, and accused her of treason. Though Isard was affronted, Fel stated that he would continue to serve the Empire loyally. Fel knew of Isard's plan to impress local rulers; although she would allow the world to fall, she would evacuate the nobles before the Rebels could capture them, gaining her immense favor in their eyes. After the next wave of fighting went poorly for the Empire, Isard issued clearance orders to dispatch an evacuation fleet to Brentaal, overriding Pestage's previous orders. Irate, the Grand Vizier confronted her over this, though, as usual, she was able to bend his opinion into line with hers. Pestage had finally realized that she was manipulating him, though, and began planning his defection to the New Republic.
Isard personally gave Isoto the order to evacuate; once he had expended his usefulness, she had Grania, a spy of Isard's who acted as Isoto's concubine, kill him. The loss of Brentaal IV pushed the Cabal over the edge, and they vowed to oust Pestage in the near future. Meanwhile, both Sate Pestage and Soontir Fel disappeared—Fel had defected to the New Republic, and Pestage was in hiding. Isard sent agents after Fel's wife, Syal Antilles Fel, though they failed to capture her. Isard was letting out her frustration in combat simulators when she was informed that Princess Leia Organa and an aide had been kidnapped on Eiattu 6. Isard theorized that she could either have been kidnapped, or whisked away for a meeting with Pestage. Either way, she vowed to find Pestage and punish him for his cowardice. It was reported that rogue Moff Leonia Tavira was holding Leia captive; Isard sent the Reckoning to the planet Axxila to recover both Tavira and Organa. She planned to use both of them as sleeper agents against her enemies after first interrogating them, but things went poorly, and Leia was able to escape with the help of Rogue Squadron. Pestage returned from his absence, and although Isard firmly believed he had been meeting with Leia, she had no evidence to back up her claim.
With Pestage showing more and more signs of having made a pact with the Rebels, Isard made her case before the Ruling Council, claiming that Pestage had committed treason and urging his ouster. When Pestage disappeared once again, Isard put out an Imperial arrest warrant for him, though the effort was unnecessary. Leonia Tavira had found Pestage, and was holding him captive on the planet Ciutric IV; Isard attempted to bargain with her for Pestage's life, though the Moff's demands were far too high, and, knowing Pestage's location, Isard refused. She sent several specialist agents to Ciutric to retrieve him, though the cabal had other ideas. They dispatched Admiral Delak Krennel—the man responsible for the debacle at Axxila—and his Star Destroyer to Ciutric. Isard was infuriated, though her superiors were adamant. They did, however, permit her to travel to Ciutric to oversee proceedings personally. Isard's number one goal, after killing Pestage, had now become to rid the Empire of the cabal, whose interference was becoming more frequent.
Isard traveled directly to the Reckoning's bridge to meet with Krennel face-to-face. After they exchanged subtle insults, Isard forcefully told him to back off, to do nothing and allow her people to capture Pestage. She offered him protection from the cabal, as well as money and promotions, if he worked for her instead of them, though it took the offer of the Binder, an Interdictor Star Destroyer, to finally sway him. Isard returned to Coruscant while Krennel led another team on the surface, though by the time they reached Pestage's holding place, the Grand Vizier had been whisked away by Rogue Squadron. However, the Binder would prevent any ships from entering hyperspace and leaving the system, which gave Krennel a decent chance of catching up with Rogue Squadron and claiming Pestage.
On Imperial Center, Isard was reprimanded severely for disobeying orders; the cabal held her responsible for the Rebels' capture of Pestage, though her decision to bring in the Binder spared her a sacking. She made contact once again with Krennel, this time via hologram, despite being told not to interfere in matters. Isard knew that if Pestage fell into the hands of the Ruling Council, he would tell them of her treasonous actions, and she would face prosecution, so she was desperate to have him retrieved and returned to her. She told Krennel of her plans to assassinate the Council members, offering him a position as Emperor if he could succeed capturing Pestage for her.
While Krennel was dealing with Pestage, Isard initiated the later stages of Project Ambition, with Tribune Challer the first to die. Ysanne once again had a man's mistress pull the trigger, though this time she had her agent make no attempt to cover up the killing. She had Plumba killed next, before learning that Krennel had succeeded in finding Pestage. Rather than bring him back alive as agreed, Krennel murdered Pestage, and claimed his holdings, the Ciutric Hegemony, for himself. Isard then had General Paltr Carvin, the acting leader of the cabal, sent to the Lusankya; the Ruling Council was now devoid of leadership, and Isard was Empress all but in name. Although she kept the Ruling Council as is, it was solely as a notional legislature, and effectively toothless. She also began having the Emperor's Royal Guard accompany her as a visible symbol of her acceptance as the quasi-Empress of what remained of the New Order hierarchy.
Asserting her power
- "My wish is the death of this Rebellion. Now with the Empire in my hands, there will be no one to stop me from making that wish come true."
- ―Ysanne Isard
Although Isard was in power, the Empire was beginning to crumble under New Republic attacks, as well as the ever more frequent secession of warlords. Eight months after the Battle of Endor, Admiral Ackbar led another campaign which pushed on Imperial territory, frightening Isard into recalling hundreds of warships to defend Coruscant and other key Core Worlds, which she suspected Ackbar was planning to attack. In doing so, Isard lost the Black Fleet in a disastrous debacle at Cal-Seti; among the ships lost was the Super Star Destroyer Intimidator. Although many of the highest ranked individuals in the Imperial navy were loyal to Isard—including Gilad Pellaeon, Miltin Takel and Afsheen Makati—many sought to topple Isard and claim the remains of the Empire for themselves. The Central Committee of Grand Moffs, led by Grand Moff Bertroff Hissa, proclaimed Trioculus, supposedly the Emperor's son, as the latest Emperor. In an attempt to take Trioculus down, Isard had Zorba Desilijic Tiure released from prison on Kip, hoping he and Trioculus would wipe each other out in a battle for Princess Leia. The New Republic dealt with Trioculus, though Isard had to take measures to deal with the troublesome Church of the Dark Side, whose leader Kadann had proclaimed himself the Emperor. The Church had been formed by Pestage, and they were the only religion citizens were legally allowed to practice. In another attempt to counter them, Isard reinstated galactic freedom of religion, losing the Prophets the support of spiritually-starved citizens. Grand Admiral Afsheen Makati asked for permission from Isard to go after Kadann and kill him; she allowed him, and although he slew Kadann, he himself perished not long after. The survivors involved in the Trioculus affair were rounded up and executed. Several months later, an Imperial Inquisitor named Jerec, supplemented by a band of Dark Jedi, a Super Star Destroyer, and a hoard of financial backers, attempted to usurp her power, though she was able to neutralize the threat he presented. Isard's rule was never seriously threatened, largely because she held Imperial Center, with its almost invincible defenses, as well as the legitimacy it offered.
During her time in power, she took to wearing an unadorned, crimson-colored version of an admiral's uniform. Because of her power, as well as her physical beauty, many officers under her command fantasized about Isard, adding to their general obedience. At some point during the Galactic Civil War, Isard began an operation reprogramming IT droids, in an attempt to take down the New Republic's upper echelons, though it bore no fruit.
Isard kept in contact with those she saw as a genuine threat, including Grand Admiral Mitth'raw'nuruodo and Emperor's Hand Lumiya. Thrawn was laying low in the Unknown Regions—though Isard knew that if he made a bid for her throne he could succeed—while Lumiya's training in the Force would make her a worthy adversary. Ysanne took up a policy of appeasement with these two, offering them something in exchange for their staying put. Thrawn asked for Baron Soontir Fel, and hatched a plan to capture him from New Republic service, which Isard happily carried out. To keep Lumiya content, she transferred a number of Imperial Royal Guards over to her, among them Carnor Jax.
Isard watched her clone grow in the bowels of the Lusankya, periodically updating its memory. She ensured that, once activated, the clone would believe itself to be the true Isard, and would carry out duties exactly as she herself would. Some time after Jerec's failed coup, Isard was instrumental in the foiling of an attempt by the New Republic to infiltrate Coruscant. Pilot Tycho Celchu volunteered to fly a TIE fighter recovered at Bakura to Imperial Center, though Isard uncovered the ruse and had him transferred to the Lusankya. Celchu, however, was able to withstand her tortures, and, frustrated, she had him sent back to the New Republic. Although she had not made him into a sleeper agent, his recollection of being in the dreaded "Lusankya facility" made him the target of considerable distrust among the ranks of the New Republic.
With her Empire relatively stable, Isard turned her attention to the Rebel Alliance. All along, her goal had been to destroy the Rebels, and then begin to reestablish the Empire. Rogue Squadron, who had thwarted her in the past, had been reformed by Wedge Antilles midway through 6 ABY, and she saw them as a dangerous enemy which needed to be snuffed out. Isard tracked down Kirtan Loor, an Imperial Intelligence agent operating out of Corellia, and had him brought to her palace on Coruscant. Loor had an eidetic memory, and was adept at many forms of interrogation and torture. After meeting with him to help evaluate and work on his weaknesses, Isard told him his task: the destruction of Rogue Squadron. Loor was a Corellian, as was the squadron leader, Wedge Antilles and one of the members, Corran Horn, who had crossed Loor's path before. Isard also managed to get a spy inside the squadron. Erisi Dlarit was a Thyferran; as a member of the only planet that produced bacta, the New Republic selected her in the squadron for purely political reasons, and although security was tight, she managed to provide Isard with the identities of the other pilots.
Loor managed to track the squadrons to Talasea; his men killed one of the Rogues, Lujayne Forge, and injured several others, but were ultimately repelled by the New Republic forces on the world. The intelligence agent deduced that the New Republic were looking to capture a planet, one that would be difficult for the Empire to take back, which would act as the launch pad for an assault on Coruscant. Loor anticipated that the Rogues would strike at Borleias, and took measures to intercept them. General Evir Derricote was the man in charge of Borleias, and it was his secret extra forces which helped to rout the New Republic upon their initial invasion attempt. Isard had known of Derricote's clandestine operations with Alderaan Biotics, and used Loor to spy on them. After finding that Derricote would be suitable for her next project, she had him ferried to Coruscant, and assigned Loor to work with him.
Isard knew that, sooner or later, the New Republic would be confident enough to launch an attack on Coruscant, and knew that she did not have sufficient forces to defend it. She was resigned to losing the world, despite the fact that much of the Imperial Remnant would likely leave her if she lost it. Isard, however, was determined for the New Republic to have as much difficulty as possible after capturing the planet. She had Derricote begin to work on the Krytos virus, which would only affect non-Humans; this was hoped to cause discord and animosity between the Human and non-Human population of the New Republic. She also asked for the virus to be easily cured by bacta; the New Republic would be bankrupt if they were to purchase enough bacta to cure the sick, and non-Humans would be angry at the New Republic for not curing them when they easily could.
With both Loor and Derricote, absent, though, the New Republic defeated forces on Borleias, making Isard's loss of Coruscant all the more imminent. Isard had Derricote begin work immediately, while Erisi Dlarit kept her up to date with Rogue Squadron's movements. Just days after the battle at Borleias, Dlarit was able to give Isard information on Bror Jace's journey to his homeworld of Thyferra, and with precise hyperspace coordinates, the Director of Imperial Intelligence had an Interdictor cruiser named the Black Asp lie in wait. She had ordered Jace to be captured alive, so that he could be introduced to the Lusankya, though he ultimately had to be shot down. The man responsible, Major Wortin of the Black Asp, was duly punished; he was sent to work under Thrawn in the Unknown Regions.
The Krytos epidemic
- "Rebel forces are indeed now in control of Imperial Center. What they have discovered, though they know not the depth of the problem, is that Imperial Center is a poisoned world, a sick world. It is a black hole from which they cannot escape. They have truly bitten off more than they can chew and they will be choked to death because of it."
- ―Isard tells Corran Horn of her Krytos virus
Isard quickly became frustrated at Derricote's methods of working, though she met his demands of alien subjects whenever they were made; first he demanded hordes of Gamorreans, and then Quarren. The incubation period of the virus in development was also cause for great concern, and despite having Loor reprimand Derricote for the slow pace of his work, time was running out for the virus' development. Derricote was also having difficulty ensuring the virus was able to be transferred through the air, another of Isard's demands. She told both Derricote and Loor that, should the Rebels arrive on Coruscant before the strain was entirely completed, any and all involved in the project would have to be killed, lest they fall into Rebel hands; this served as an incentive for the two men to work harder. Isard took other measures to "motivate" Loor. She released information that he had killed Gil Bastra, former mentor to Rogue Corran Horn, a sworn enemy of Loor's. She hoped this would give Horn extra desire to get to Coruscant and seek revenge, as well as further improve Loor's work assisting Derricote.
The actions of Warlord Zsinj, a man some thought of as a threat to her reign, but whom Isard saw as a fool, did not help matters; his attack on the New Republic's facility on Borleias helped speed up their move for Coruscant. With information provided by Erisi Dlarit, Isard learned that the New Republic had released high profile members of Black Sun from Kessel and transported them to Coruscant, in a bid to distract Isard while Rogue Squadron infiltrated the planet on the ground. The New Republic made one grave error, though: releasing Moff Fliry Vorru, who they hoped would keep the criminals from lashing out at citizens, too. Vorru immediately made contact with Isard, and became yet another of her underlings on Coruscant.
Isard was also unhappy with some of Derricote's species selections for the virus. While having it affect the likes of the Quarren and Gamorreans made sense to Ysanne, Derricote wished to infect the Wookiees and Sullustans, also. She refused him any Wookiee subjects, as they were a useful slave species, though she backed down on the Sullustan matter; Loor told her that working on a Sullustan strain of the disease would lead the way to creating a Bothan strain. With the Bothans being key members of the Rebellion, Isard wanted them severely affected by the virus.
Erisi Dlarit and her fellow Rogues entered Coruscant soon after the operation on Kessel, and although Isard knew their false identities and locations, she did not strike against them. She also began to leave Coruscant under-defended, further inviting the New Republic to attack. With the impending invasion on the horizon, she set a deadline of two weeks for Derricote to have a completed strain of the virus ready for insertion into the water supplies.
The Rogues moved faster than Isard had anticipated. The Black Asp, which had failed to capture Bror Jace previously, had defected to the New Republic, giving them a very valuable weapon: a functioning Interdictor cruiser. With the Black Asp's help, the New Republic attacked and captured Coruscant, as Isard had expected all along. Although the Krytos virus was not as deadly as she had asked for, a milder strain of it was injected into Coruscant's water, where it began to take effect. However, in their attempts to take down the shields, Rogue Squadron vaporized much of Coruscant's water supply, further diminishing the effect of the virus. For his failure, Derricote was imprisoned in the Lusankya. The real prize for Isard, though, was the capture of Corran Horn. Erisi Dlarit was able to give Isard full control of Horn's starfighter, and she had it flown straight into a trap. His squadron believed him dead, while Isard had him transferred to the Lusankya; Tycho Celchu, now the executive officer of Rogue Squadron, was charged with his murder, giving both Isard and Dlarit more freedom to act. Celchu's trial was also a way for Isard to get at the New Republic government; any preferential treatment for a Human could be damaging for them, even though Celchu was thought by many to be an unwilling spy for the Empire, and thus a victim.
Although Isard had long resigned herself to losing Imperial Center, she was determined to make life for the New Republic provisional council as difficult as possible. In addition to the Krytos epidemic, she had Kirtan Loor and Fliry Vorru form the Palpatine Counter-Insurgency Front, which acted as an irritant for the New Republic. Meanwhile, Isard took up residence in the Lusankya, and began to get to work on Corran Horn. She used flight simulators against his old squadron to try and break him, though initial simulation runs turned up inconclusive, suggesting Horn would be tough to mold into a sleeper agent. Isard persisted, though, and when the simulators failed to break him, she began to resort to more conventional methods of torture. When these failed, she had him thrown with the other Lusankya prisoners, though she was determined not to give up on the former CorSec agent. She also purged hundreds of records from Coruscant's database, to keep the identities of many of her top spies intact.
Isard kept up the deception of being on a distant planet even with Vorru and Loor. She maintained frequent comm contact with Loor, though Vorru was generally under too much New Republic scrutiny to contact her. Vorru was now working as an agent for the New Republic—or so they thought—and he was able to provide Loor with much top-secret information, which Loor relayed on to Isard. Erisi Dlarit also kept in contact with her superior, and it was she that provided Isard with information on Rogue Squadron's latest mission. Isard chose not to act, though Kirtan Loor, who should never have seen the message in the first place, did decide to act. He had a squadron of stolen X-wings act as a false Rogue Squadron, escorting a convoy of bacta to a rendezvous point, ready to ambush the real Rogue Squadron when they arrived. The hunters became the hunted, however, when Zsinj arrived with his Super Star Destroyer and decimated the false squadron. Everything had played out exactly as Isard planned, though. She knew of Loor's plan, and leaked information to Warlord Zsinj about the convoy. The New Republic were now short of bacta, and baying for Zsinj's blood, while Loor had been caught red handed disobeying orders.
Things took a turn for the worse in the days that followed Zsinj's attack. Fearing possible retribution by Isard, Loor defected to the New Republic, promising to provide information to them in exchange for political immunity. She also discovered that Evir Derricote and Corran Horn had escaped from the detention facility aboard the Lusankya, and sent teams of men to find them. Derricote was found dead, though Horn's whereabouts eluded her. Becoming desperate to take out Rogue Squadron, Isard had Vorru attack dozens of bacta storage sites around Coruscant, knowing the Rebels would send the Rogues to defend them. Loor's threat was neutralized, when Diric Wessiri, one of many sleeper agents Isard was using to monitor the Celchu trial, shot him dead. That Diric's wife, Iella Wessiri, was forced to kill Diric afterwards was a fact that Isard found particularly delicious.
The Bacta War
- "Do you feel, as I do, that Madam Director Isard is not viewing the same reality as we are?"
"Do I think she is insane?"
- ―Fliry Vorru and Erisi Dlarit discussing Ysanne Isard
When Isard learned that Horn had in fact escaped, she was forced to act quickly. The secret of the Lusankya's location had been compromised, so she had to leave Coruscant with it—far earlier than she had planned. The Lusankya burst through tons of ferrocrete, and left Coruscant, killing thousands. Erisi Dlarit returned to Isard, also, in a faked tractor beam pickup, though her fellow Rogues were quick to notice the con. Horn's escape had affected Isard greatly, and although it would take her years to realize it, she was not thinking straight in the months that followed. To Isard, Horn's escape made the Lusankya unclean, and she no longer loved and cherished it as she had before. Isard consolidated her forces and took the Lusankya to Thyferra, where she supported a political coup by the Xucphra faction, which put them in charge of the bacta cartel, and Isard became the Chief Operating Officer and Head of State of the planet—she effectively controlled the entire bacta output in the galaxy. As she was a legitimate ruler, the New Republic would not go after her.
Although they were forbidden to go after Isard by the New Republic government, the Rogues were still desperate for their revenge on Isard. They resigned their commissions and effectively formed a band of pirates determined to kill her, though this was of little concern to Isard. Despite the constant warnings from Fliry Vorru—who was now acting in a role similar to Kirtan Loor's—Isard found their attempts laughable, and paid them little heed. Something that did worry her, though, was the fact that hordes of her operatives on Coruscant had been captured by the New Republic in the aftermath of her flight to Thyferra. Though he had been killed, Kirtan Loor had managed to provide the New Republic with much sensitive information, dealing Isard a crippling blow. Isard had Erisi Dlarit lead a newly-formed Thyferran Home Defense Force, which would deal with the threat of Ashern terrorists, as Isard's forces were not what they once were. While she had much support when she held Coruscant, many ships had left her service after the Battle of Coruscant, and she relied on only a few loyal ships and vessels borrowed from other warlords. The Lusankya—which Isard wanted nothing to do with—Avarice, Virulence, and Corrupter, respectively, were all she had left from her once-glorious armada.
Although Isard had dismissed them altogether, Wedge Antilles's band of former Rogues was doing a good job in harassing Isard's bacta shipments, hijacking several of them and handing their cargo over to needy planets before returning the freighters back to Thyferra—so they could be stocked up and raided again. While Vorru assured her they were losing little financially, Isard's pride was on the line, and with every successful raid mounted by Antilles, she lost more respect and prestige. Before long, Isard feared, she would be the laughing stock of the Empire for allowing a dozen aged starfighters to repeatedly steal from her. Vorru, though, had come up with a plan to counter and isolate the Rogues: any world that had accepted stolen bacta from Antilles would have to pay Isard for it, and shipments to random worlds would be cut. This would cause great anger and animosity towards Rogue Squadron, and, Vorru hoped, would play with their conscience. Isard, her judgment clouded by a lust for revenge, wished for a more direct approach, but Vorru managed to persuade her to have the customers of the bacta shipments provide their own protection, with their Star Destroyers only escorting them some of the way.
Isard gained her first victory in the Bacta War in the weeks that followed, though it was not one she had actually sanctioned. Captain Ait Convarion of Corrupter had left an entire convoy unguarded to follow several freighters which had left of their own accord. Following the ship through hyperspace, Corrupter found the last of the freighters ready to jump to hyperspace, with Rogue Squadron and their Twi'lek allies also present. Corrupter destroyed much of the Twi'lek Chir'daki squadron, and took one of the Rogues, Riv Shiel, down, too. Isard, with Vorru, traveled to the bridge of Corrupter to personally congratulate Convarion and also reprimand him for disobeying orders. She recognized that he showed considerable initiative, though Isard was angry that Convarion had lied in his report of events. As a means of testing his mettle, she asked if he would be willing to execute the families of the crews of the freighters which had defected. He reluctantly agreed, though Isard informed him that she had already dealt with the crew's families. She also ordered Convarion to deal with those planets who were too poor to afford the bacta that Antilles had presented to them.
Loss of the Lusankya
- "A month. Antilles has a month yet to live. Then, once he is eliminated, the Empire will rise again and the natural order of things will again be established."
- ―Isard's plans for the Empire
Things took a turn for the worse with the Battle of The Graveyard when Isard lost the Corrupter at the hands of Rogue Squadron, and a mysterious Alderaanian warship which had joined them. Additionally, a borrowed Interdictor Cruiser named the Aggregator was withdrawn from her fleet, as High Admiral Treuten Teradoc assumed he could no longer trust her with his vessels. Isard was furious, as this made her look all the more incompetent among her peers and rivals. She held Erisi Dlarit and her Thyferran Home Guard personally responsible, as they had been tasked with defending the two ships. She dressed down Dlarit, though the young Thyferran's responses were audacious, and thoughts of execution began to enter Isard's mind. Fliry Vorru, however, stepped in, and managed to shift the blame from Dlarit. He also expressed a plan to further dwindle the Rogues' effectiveness: make an abundance of bacta available on the market. His reasoning was that then the Rogues would have no way to finance themselves, and would be ripe for the taking. Isard, however, was tired of subtle schemes and political ploys, and ordered Antilles' head. She had Vorru concentrate all his efforts on finding the Rogues' base of operations, and ordered another mass-killing of planets unable to pay for the stolen bacta granted to them.
Isard lost another ship not long afterwards. Captain Sair Yonka of the Avarice sent her a holo message, informing her that he had left her service to be his own master. Isard took things personally when Yonka listed each of her faults; she ordered the extermination of his family members, his mistress, and her family. The loss of the Avarice put Isard in a difficult position, as she now only had one Star Destroyer to play escort duty, assuming she didn't take the Lusankya out of orbit and leave Thyferra undefended. Isard desperately needed to locate Antilles's base, so she gave him an incentive to make a hasty attack: she publicized the slaughter over a million Vratix workers on Thyferra. She would continue to kill two thousand a day until there were no surplus Vratix left not harvesting bacta, or until Antilles intervened.
Isard had soon learned of the exact location of Antilles's base—Yag-prime, a supposedly uninhabited space station over Yag'Dhul—through the efforts of one of her spies, Melina Carniss, who was working for Talon Karrde, one of Antilles' allies. Isard prepared the Virulence and the Lusankya to go there and snuff out this threat once and for all, though Captain Joak Drysso of the Lusankya was wary of such a tactic. He felt that leaving Thyferra undefended was asking for trouble, and noted that X-wings were hyperspace-capable vehicles. Isard brushed off the concerns, unwilling to let her chance to be rid of the Rogues slip away. What remained of Isard's fleet left for Yag'Dhul, while she stayed behind on Thyferra.
Before they left, though, Isard's clone, now fully grown, was released and tasked with scattering the prisoners of the Lusankya. It was a task Isard trusted no one but herself to complete, so her clone, who thought it was the real Isard, was the perfect choice for it. Isard intended to kill the clone when it had finished its job.
The Rogues were waiting for Isard's attack, and had in fact purposely allowed Carniss to learn the location of the base, knowing she was a spy. When the Lusankya and Virulence arrived, Rogue Squadron left the system, presumably to go to Thyferra. In the debacle that followed, Joak Drysso was outsmarted and seemingly outgunned by smuggler Booster Terrik, and was forced to sacrifice the Virulence so that he could return and defend Thyferra. When he arrived, however, there were no signs of an attack—Isard and her people had been tricked once again. Just after the Lusankya reverted to realspace, Sair Yonka's Avarice—now renamed the Freedom—arrived, along with the Rogues and their Alderaanian warship. The Lusankya was holding her own in the battle, though when the Virulence arrived, salvaged and manned by New Republic personnel, the tide had fully turned. The Lusankya surrendered and Isard was left with nothing of her former riches. She still had a trick up her sleeve, though. Isard commandeered Fliry Vorru's custom shuttle and sent out to space. After she goaded the Rogues via a comlink, they believed her to be in it, and gave chase. Tycho Celchu fired the shot that took it down. The New Republic thought Isard dead, so she was able to recount her losses and remain in hiding. The fact that she was busy fighting off Antilles meant that her clone, which she had hoped to kill once its job had been completed, survived Isard's attempt to kill it, and went into hiding.
Isard was surprised that no one in the New Republic second-guessed her death; they assumed that she had been in the shuttle, and did not follow up with an investigation. In the years that followed, the only person to theorize that she may have still been alive was Wraith Squadron pilot Garik Loran, but no investigation ever took place. Approximately two months after her supposed death, Isard made her way to a secret Imperial base under the command of a General named Arnothian, whom she killed and replaced. The facility contained two squadrons of TIE/D Defenders, led by Broak Vessery: Interloper Squadron and Stranger Squadron. While Isard knew she could use it to launch a campaign of terror on the New Republic, she chose not to, preferring to bide her time and brood over past mistakes. She also secretly assembled various Loyalists and warlords who had continued the advance of the New Republic in spite of the death of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Eventually, Isard recovered from the trauma of Corran Horn's escape from the Lusankya, and was again able to think without being misguided by lust for vengeance. After several months in hiding, Isard learned that Palpatine had returned in a cloned body; he contacted her, demanding her allegiance. Afterwards, the resurrected Emperor, via his agents, ordered her to personally re-capture the Lusankya from a New Republic dockyard at Bilbringi. Fearing retribution for losing Coruscant, she vowed to re-capture the Lusankya, which was being refitted for use by the New Republic, although she secretly realized that such an endeavor would most likely end up a suicide mission.
- "It is interesting we have not met before, you and I, having been foes for so long. I expected you to be taller."
"I expected you to be dead."
- ―Isard and Wedge Antilles finally acquaint themselves
When Thrawn returned from the Unknown Regions and launched a campaign of his own, Isard chose not to intervene. At this point, she had realized that the Empire which she held so dearly was dead, and, rather than enter yet more battles, she simply observed as the New Republic almost collapsed. When Thrawn was defeated at the Battle of Bilbringi, Isard's clone reemerged, allying herself with Delak Krennel in the Ciutric Hegemony. The clone had spent the entire Thrawn crisis gathering up the Lusankya prisoners, and had them imprisoned on Ciutric IV. After Thrawn's death, the New Republic shifted its attention to the ever-increasing amount of former Imperial warlords, and decided to make Krennel its first target. Isard was no longer content staying out of the limelight, and hatched a plan to snatch back her beloved Lusankya, so that she could appease Palpatine.
The New Republic's first target in the Ciutric Hegemony was the planet Liinade III; Isard had a top of the line laboratory and research center built, hidden away in the mountains there. Inside the facility, she forged plans to build a superweapon similar to the Death Stars, called a Pulsar Station. As she had hoped, the New Republic found the base, and accused Krennel and Isard's clone of planning to build the superweapon. The warlord accused Head of State Mon Mothma of fabricating the entire facility, which further sowed discord and confusion among Isard's enemies. Included in the laboratory was the station's supposed construction site, Distna. The rogue clone had sprung a trap there for Rogue Squadron, and Isard needed to ensure they fell into it.
Isard sent Vessery and his men to Distna to rescue the Rogues, who had been ambushed by swarms of TIEs, and had them brought back to the hidden base. To all outside observers, the two sides looked to have destroyed each other, and the Rogues were now believed dead by all. Back at the base, Isard met with Wedge Antilles, offering to help the New Republic take down Krennel in exchange for her freedom. In truth, Isard was looking for a way to build up her power base once again, and hoped to steal back the Lusankya; she also wanted to have her clone killed. Antilles took her plea for peace as sincere, and agreed to have his squadron go in undercover and join Krennel. They would make contact with Admiral Ackbar, taking down Krennel's forces from inside, and providing him with an opportune moment to strike the Hegemony. Isard was once in again in a position of power.
As it was imperative that neither the New Republic nor Krennel learn that the Rogues were safe and well, Isard blocked any attempts to communication on their part, though Corran Horn attempted to defy her many a time. The Rogues began their training piloting TIE Defenders, and Vessery was impressed by their abilities. Isard confronted Corran Horn while the two worked out in the holo-gym, telling him that his attempts to get messages to his wife were futile, and that she would intercept them all. Horn goaded Isard about never having loved anyone, and she returned his jibe by mentioning her time with his father, on Darkknell.
Rogue Squadron's insertion into Ciutric went smoothly; acting as Requiem Squadron led by Colonel Antar Roat, they offered to join Krennel's fleet. The warlord accepted, and Admiral Ackbar was sent information regarding his defenses and where best to strike. Isard and her TIE Defenders were supposed to assist the New Republic in their attack, though Isard had no intention of doing so. She provided Krennel with information that Ackbar was going to make a strike at the Hegemony, which meant he further defended Ciutric. She and Vessery made preparations to travel to Bilbringi—with the Lusankya on her side, and if circumstances went well, Coruscant was ripe for the taking.
Using the freighter Swift and a set of codes procured by her spies in the New Republic, Isard boarded the Lusankya at the shipyards in Bilbringi, and sent her crew up to the bridge to take control of the ship. She herself traveled to her personal command room, keeping contact with Captain Wintle as she went. His crew were unable to operate the ship from the bridge, as power had been transferred to the auxiliary bridge. They traveled there instead and Isard was just moments away from once again becoming a force to be reckoned with. It turned out, though, that Horn had managed to get a message out of the base, and had told his wife Mirax about the situation, as well as his friend Iella Wessiri. General Airen Cracken, head of New Republic Intelligence and an old foil of Isard, responded by giving his subordinate Iella as well as Mirax and her father Booster Terrik the mission of figuring out exactly what Isard's endgame in the current scenario was, with Booster ultimately figuring out that if her goal was to regain her former power, the logical immediate step would be to re-take control of the Lusankya, which he had figured out the New Republic has not broken up for a mountain of spare parts as had been publicly claimed, but had been repaired to be put back into service. Hurrying to the Bilbringi shipyards using Ultra-Level clearance codes provided by NRI, the trio took command of the Star Dreadnaught before Isard arrived, transferred command to the auxiliary bridge and waited. Iella Wessiri confronted Isard in her private office at blasterpoint, telling her that she had her own people on the auxiliary bridge and that her boarding party would be sealed into an area of the ship and dealt with by manipulating the ships life support systems, taking them out of the equation. Desperate, Isard used the internal communication system to offer each of them twenty-five million Imperial credits to turn the ship over to her people, an annoyed 'Acting Captain' Booster Terrik responded to the offer by asking Iella to just shoot Isard and be done with it. Isard knew the New Republic would never try her in a court, as she knew many secrets about the government hierarchy, and goaded Wessiri, telling the woman to be done with it and kill her.
Wessiri however had little interest in killing Isard in cold blood nor humoring her attempts at manipulation. Instead she threatened to simply imprison her on her own Super Star Destroyer, locked away in some part of the ship serviced and manned only by droids; an anonymous prisoner who would never again have contact with anyone she could manipulate for the rest of her natural life. Confronted with such a fate, the former Director of Imperial Intelligence panicked. She attempted to kill Wessiri with a holdout blaster. Wessiri was shot in the shoulder, and retaliated by shooting Isard in the stomach. As Isard lay dying, she realized that she had failed the Emperor, and resigned herself to her fate.
- "I have, upon reflection, come to the conclusion that further service to you would be to condone and support an evil that would seem insignificant when grouped with the Emperor, Darth Vader, and Prince Xizor. I sincerely doubt, however, the billions of victims who have suffered because of you would be so sanguine about you."
- ―Sair Yonka, to Ysanne Isard, via hologram
In the battle at Ciutric, Ackbar was able to outmaneuver Krennel, and the warlord was killed when his flagship was destroyed. Isard's clone attempted to use the same tactic Isard had used to fool Rogue Squadron on Thyferra, pretending to flee in a remote controlled shuttle. The clone had not lived through the Bacta War, so was unaware that the ruse had already been used. Wedge Antilles figured out the clone's location, and he, Gavin Darklighter, Tycho Celchu, and Myn Donos killed the clone and destroyed the shuttle. Horn managed to free the Lusankya prisoners, and Jan Dodonna continued to serve as a military advisor to the New Republic.
Ultimately, people regarded Ysanne Isard as no better than the likes of the Emperor and Darth Vader, due to the sheer number of atrocities she committed. It was estimated that several million people were killed on her orders, as well as thousands who spent years aboard her Lusankya facility. She would still haunt Mara Jade in nightmares over a dozen years after their encounter. Isard's Lusankya became part of the New Republic fleet, and Wedge Antilles served as a commander on it for a time. It served for over a decade, fighting in the Battle of Phaeda, until it was destroyed during the Battle of Borleias in the Yuuzhan Vong War.
Ambiguous statements made by Iella Wessiri during the celebration of the release of the Lusankya prisoners alluded to the possibility that Isard survived Wessiri's shot, and was given a secret military trial and then imprisoned, as Wessiri threatened she would be, in a special section of the Lusankya crewed entirely by droids. This section served as a bio-containment facility devoted to scientific and medical research such as that which would have thwarted Isard's Krytos Virus plot, and included a containment cell designed to vent immediately to space were it ever breached—potentially a perfect holding cell for Isard. These statements eventually became a widespread rumor. Although New Republic officials had strenuously and publicly denied these rumors, the same officials in private also conceded that, whether the rumors were true or not, the "idea does offer a certain poetic justice."
Personality and traits
- "You don't fall in love with someone like the Emperor because you like the way he laughs or the cute dimples he has. You fall in love with him because you feel a kinship to him. You wanted what he wanted, which was power; and that lust for power won't go away. Just the way you brought us here and keep us here reflects your need for control. You have a goal and everything else will be subordinate to it."
- ―Corran Horn, to Ysanne Isard
Isard's personality and traits were often compared to her two mismatched eyes. She could be icily cold, heartless and cruel, but was also prone to fiery, temperamental fits of anger. These traits asserted themselves at different times in her actions. Even as a field agent, Isard was ambitious, calculating, and ruthless. She ruled the Empire in power, if not in name, and had a deep desire to control things, a weakness that would help lead to her defeat in the Bacta War. Her entire Lusankya prisoner complex was devoted to the torture of prisoners and then turning them into tools to bring down the Rebellion, though many observed that while she was talented at engineering opponents' downfalls politically, when she had to wield the hammer and deal with them in a more direct fashion, she did so rather clumsily.
From the time she entered Imperial Intelligence until the time she died, Isard was possessed of an unyielding lust for power. She conspired against her own father in order to usurp him as Director, and the only person she would never betray and steal power from was the Emperor, who she saw as the man who had brought order to the galaxy. Isard claimed all her actions were done for the benefit and continuing survival of the Empire, though she rarely thought about anything other than herself when making a decision. After the catastrophe at Endor, Ysanne did not show any hint of loyalty to the new rulers of the Empire, but rather, she immediately began planning on how to be rid of them. After the loss of Coruscant, Isard found another equally influential planet to rule, and even after her supposed death she found it difficult being virtually powerless. Even when she did not wield any significant power, Isard always liked to be one step ahead of her enemies; in the aftermath of the Battle of Coruscant, she took comfort knowing the New Republic were searching the galaxy top to bottom for her, while she was actually hidden right under their noses.
Throughout her life, Ysanne Isard showed an utter disregard for the lives of others, often killing hundreds to send a message to just one; Isard was ultimately responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of individuals. She had the people of Toprawa, a planet that had aided the Rebels in destroying the initial Death Star, punished for their actions through starvation. Many Toprawans died during these "rituals," whereby Isard had them beg for food and praise the Emperor's memory. In removing the Lusankya from underneath Coruscant's multitude of skyscrapers, she killed thousands upon thousands of people, many of them Imperials themselves. On Thyferra, she massacred the Ashern rebels by the thousands, and would have continued slaughtering the surplus million Vratix, all so that Wedge Antilles would feel rushed to attack her. Isard often had her own people killed, even for simply performing below her expectations. Her harsh methods for punishing traitors included killing all of their families, a punishment utilized by Darth Vader before his death. She often had officers in whom she was not entirely confident perform these executions, as a way of testing their mettle. Particularly during her youth, Isard had a very short temper, and often entered a sort of bloodlust, satisfied only by the mass killing of her enemies. When in a rage, Isard would happily execute even her best officers for even attempting to disagree or argue with her. Additionally, any whiff of insubordination she sensed was duly punished, often by death.
Isard had considerable pride, and hated to be made look bad in front of her superiors, allies, rivals, or enemies. After her failure on Darkknell, Isard was not able to return to Coruscant and face the music, so she instead fabricated evidence linking her father with the Rebel Alliance, and accused him of sending her on a suicide mission. During the Bacta War, when Isard required as many usable vessels as she could get, it pained her to have to go after people like Teradoc and plead with him for the service of one of her ships. The whole war with Antilles and his people taxed Isard severely, as she envisioned the rest of the galaxy laughing at her and mocking her for being unable to stand up to a company that numbered no more than thirty individuals.
Throughout her careers, rumors of a relationship between Isard and Emperor Palpatine continually resurfaced, although, like much of her personal life, actual proof could not be found by New Republic intelligence agents. When queried about her relationship with Palpatine by Corran Horn, she did not deny it, and told him that she found his power and wealth difficult to resist. Isard was under the assumption that Palpatine loved her in return, though the Emperor always had fears of her trying to overthrow him. Horn noted many similarities between Isard and Palpatine, namely, their lust for power.
Skills and abilities
- "You grossly underestimate Iceheart if you think she is ever unprepared."
- ―Admiral Ackbar, to Borsk Fey'lya, on the planned invasion of Coruscant
Isard was a master of the arts of interrogation and torture, using a variety of methods to get the information she craved. During the interrogation of Vune Willic, she used a YI-5 Surveillance/Interrogation Droid to great effect. The droids were equipped with a variety of torture and interrogation equipment, though Isard always oversaw proceedings herself, she preferred to torture the prisoners personally, forcing any information out of them. Usually, she was able to get a full and clean confession out of subjects within the day; this allowed Imperial Intelligence to use an individual as a public scapegoat for something, while the real conspirators were dealt with behind closed doors. Isard was also known to use several truth serums in her questionings. When she was not looking for specific information or a confession, but when she was looking for information in general from a prisoner, Isard was able to force from most subjects all sorts of personal and private information and memories. She would use this information against the prisoner, goading and taunting them over past mistakes or horrific memories.
In her Lusankya facility, Isard subjected prisoners to all sorts of mental trauma, pitting them against allies and loved ones in simulators; she also found a way to keep the prisoners in line, punishing all of a particular group if one stepped out of line. Jan Dodonna, Ysanne's prize prisoner, was dissuaded from ever escaping by the Director of Imperial Intelligence, who told him that should he flee, she would severely punish the Rebels aboard the Lusankya. She also used illegal objects such as choke-collars to control allies whose loyalty she was unsure of.
As well as interrogation, Isard was skilled in a multitude of ground and intelligence skills; she was an adept slicer, blaster combatant, and unarmed combatant. During her escapades on Darkknell, she managed to hack into a planetary government system, and redirect an entire police unit so that they would not get in her way. Isard's talents at a computer terminal were not as great as they might have been, though, and she often had to rely on the talents of her subordinates to accomplish a task relating to slicing. Isard kept herself in peak physical condition at all times, even after she was no longer an active field operative. To ease her anger or frustration at any given time, she went through blaster simulators, worked out in holo-gyms, or practiced unarmed combat with a practice droid. It was a testament to her abilities that she hardly ever missed in the simulator runs. Isard was also a talented linguist, speaking Basic, Huttese, Durese, Mon Calamarian, Geonosian, Rybese, and Twi'leki.
Isard was adept at making her subordinates do what she wished. During the Emperor's time, offers of promotions were usually enough to buy one's cooperation, though after Endor, Isard often had to resort to offering people a position in her Empire, sometimes even as Emperor. She was not above using her good looks to seduce people, though this was usually driven by her own agenda. Isard also used personal grudges or life-long hatred between individuals as another means of motivation, hoping it would give her people more focus. Ysanne frequently had people perform extremely unsavory tasks, such as killing a family member, executing families of traitors, or razing undefended planets which had opposed her rule, as a means of testing their loyalty and dedication to the Imperial cause.
Behind the scenes
Ysanne Isard was created by Star Wars author Michael A. Stackpole for the X-Wing novels in 1996, first appearing in X-Wing: Rogue Squadron. As the series progressed, Isard became a more major character, although none of the books featured scenes written from her point of view except for her final scene in Stackpole's last X-Wing novel, Isard's Revenge in 1999. After Isard seemingly died in X-Wing: The Bacta War, she began to appear in Stackpole's Rogue Squadron comics, set several years before the novels. In the comic series, Isard plays a more prominent role, and her thoughts are shown to readers, whereas in the books they remained largely hidden. In the final story arc of the series, it is revealed that Isard had a clone; this clone, as well as the real, surviving Isard, appeared in Isard's Revenge. In 1999 Isard appeared in a collaborative short story written by Stackpole and Timothy Zahn; since then, her only appearance was a cameo in Paul Ens's webstrip, Evasive Action: Prey. Thus, virtually all of Isard's appearances have been in works by Michael A. Stackpole. In Aaron Allston's novel Fate of the Jedi: Outcast, her name is misspelled as "Ysane Isard".