- "What little of his Imperial career we know about indicates he is a man who embraces the idea that the ends do justify the means."
- ―Leia Organa
Zsinj (pronounced /zɪnd͡ʒ/) was a Human male from Fondor. Though he bore no first name per the traditions of his father, a Fondorian shipyard mechanic, Zsinj preferred to follow in the footsteps of his more famous mother, Mme. Maarisa Zsinj, a Chandrilan Admiral in the Republic Outland Regions Security Force popularly known as the "Ace of the Spacelanes." Zsinj served under his mother until the end of the Clone Wars.
After the birth of the Galactic Empire, Maarisa Zsinj refused the order to return her starship, the Venator-class Star Destroyer Retaliation, to port for decommissioning. The elder Zsinj denounced the new government as corrupt and went rogue, preying on ships of the Empire as a pirate. Young Zsinj was granted command of the aging Victory-class Star Destroyer Iron Fist to hunt down his own mother. The campaign was intense but ultimately successful, and Maarisa Zsinj was killed by her own son. The younger Zsinj was officially named the first Warlord of the Empire, and the elder Zsinj was expunged from Imperial history. This was the beginning of a string of victories that would lead to ever greater power for Zsinj, but also initiated a pattern of absurd thinking that would confound future opponents and analysts.
Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Zsinj was promoted to admiral and given command of the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Brawl—which Zsinj later renamed Iron Fist after his first command—by Emperor Palpatine himself. Zsinj quarantined the planet Dathomir and prevented the escape of the Force-sensitive Nightsisters, and Palpatine was personally grateful to Zsinj for halting this potential threat to his rule. Soon after this, Zsinj became High Admiral of the Crimson Command, a fleet of Victory-class Star Destroyers, and gained the position of Grand Moff over the Quelii Oversector, a large portion of the northern quadrant of the galaxy. It was from this position that Zsinj established himself as an independent warlord after the Battle of Endor.
After what was believed by the galaxy at large to be the death of Palpatine, Zsinj was recognized by many as the most powerful of the post-Imperial warlords. In fact, his official title of "Warlord of the Empire" popularized the term "warlord" for the renegades who broke away from the crumbling Empire, as in the initial chaos following the Battle of Endor he proclaimed loyalty to the Empire and used his legal title to foster an appearance of legitimacy. However, he set up a base on Serenno, locked down his Oversector, and began to absorb the forces and territories of his rivals like Terrinald Screed and Nigel Nivers. Along with his formidable fleet, Zsinj built a supporting financial infrastructure unlike that of any other warlord, and at the height of his power he controlled a third of the known galaxy, rivaling both the New Republic and the Galactic Empire.
After the defeat of Director of Imperial Intelligence Ysanne Isard, Zsinj became the target of a New Republic campaign against him, which was led by General Han Solo, who became a personal enemy of Zsinj. Zsinj's forces fought Solo's task force on several occasions, each taking turns laying traps for the other. In 7 ABY, Iron Fist, Zsinj's personal command ship, narrowly escaped destruction at the hands of Solo's fleet twice, the first time due to New Republic collaboration with Imperial Admiral Teren Rogriss while the second engagement was precipitated by a double agent on Iron Fist, Gara Petothel. Zsinj faked the destruction of Iron Fist and escaped to his hidden base over Dathomir to plan his next move. However, his outpost was attacked by the Hapan war fleet. During the battle, Solo, who had won Dathomir in a gambling match and had journeyed to the world, flew his personal craft, the Millennium Falcon on a strafing run on Iron Fist. Firing concussion missiles at the bridge of Zsinj's flagship, Solo slew the warlord and brought about the collapse of his empire. Zsinj's former forces scattered to join other warlords or strike out on their own, but no other independent force ever matched Zsinj's power.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Rise to prominence
- 1.2 From admiral to warlord
- 1.3 First strikes
- 1.4 After the fall of Coruscant
- 1.5 The Halmad lure
- 1.6 The raid on Kuat
- 1.7 Special projects
- 1.8 Plans within plans
- 1.9 Redirection and misdirection
- 1.10 Turning the tide
- 1.11 Retreat and recovery
- 1.12 The fall of Zsinj's Empire
- 1.13 Aftermath
- 2 Personality and traits
- 3 Skills and abilities
- 4 Equipment
- 5 Behind the scenes
- 6 Appearances
- 7 Sources
- 8 Notes and references
- 9 External links
Rise to prominence
- ―Zsinj's first and last word
Zsinj—he had no first name, in the ancient tradition of his father's Fondorian caste—was a male Human born on the planet Fondor prior to the Clone Wars that ravaged the galaxy from 22 BBY to 19 BBY. Zsinj was the son of a shipyard mechanic, who passed on some of his technical aptitude to his youngling, but young Zsinj chose to follow in the footsteps of his more famous mother, Mme. Maarisa Zsinj. A native of Chandrila and an admiral in the Republic Outland Regions Security Force in the waning years of the Galactic Republic, the elder Zsinj was popularly known as the "Ace of the Spacelanes," and she inspired her young son to join the Naval Academy at Prefsbelt IV upon reaching the minimum enrollment age.
The younger Zsinj did not really stand out among his classmates—in fact his instructors and classmates at the academy considered him quite dull—however he showed amazing technological insight and a great deal of promise as a tactician. His instructors tried to persuade him to consider a career in support services, but Zsinj insisted that he was "destined to become a great warrior," and he graduated in the top third of his class.
After serving competently under his mother during the Clone Wars, the wave of chauvinism brought on by the founding of the Galactic Empire in 19 BBY propelled the young Zsinj up the ranks while his elder mother was relegated to less important duties. When Mme. Zsinj's Venator-class Star Destroyer, Retaliation, was scheduled for decommissioning, her son volunteered to take command to bring the vessel back to port. This was not to be, however, as Mme. Zsinj refused her orders from Naval Command, and instead publicly denounced the Empire as corrupt. Turning to piracy, the "Ace of the Spacelanes" was now an enemy of the Empire, and to hunt her down the Empire turned to the one who knew her best: her own son.
Zsinj was granted command of the Victory I-class Star Destroyer Iron Fist, which was one of the oldest ships of its class and was itself due for retirement, to hunt down and destroy the Retaliation and Mme. Maarisa Zsinj. Putting aside his feelings, young Zsinj waged a ferocious and ultimately successful campaign, killing his own mother. The elder Zsinj was retroactively stripped of her rank and expunged from Imperial records, and the younger Zsinj was granted the first official title of Warlord of the Empire. By 8 ABY, Zsinj's early life had been so thoroughly obfuscated as to prevent even the New Republic Intelligence Service from compiling any significant details prior to his military career.
Zsinj's campaign against his mother marked the beginning of his pattern of absurdist thinking, and a reported disdain for everything that hailed from his mother's homeworld of Chandrila. He also began a pattern of innovation, and of efficient use of resources. During his early career, he developed a tactic of retreating inside an asteroid field when faced with a superior starfighter force, waiting for the pursuers to move in using the asteroids as cover, and then blowing up the asteroids to smaller pieces with turbolaser blasts, with the resulting debris clouds being extremely effective in destroying, damaging and/or forcing the attackers to abort their attack. This tactic was later adapted into a training simulation by the New Republic. It was also during this time that Zsinj would meet his future right-hand man, Melvar.
Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, which later marked the zero point in the New Republic's calibration of the galactic calendar, the Iron Fist was assigned to patrol the area in the Quelii sector around the planet Dathomir. Dathomir was a backwater world, where the Imperial garrison was still equipped with broken-down A5 Juggernauts and even basic supply shipments were irregular, but the Empire built a prison complex on the planet for political dissidents and intellectuals. Emperor Palpatine eventually realized that the Force-sensitive Dathomiri Nightsisters were too much of a threat to be allowed off-planet. To eliminate this threat, Zsinj attacked the prison from orbit, destroying every spaceworthy craft. Though this stranded all the Imperial personnel on the planet along with the Nightsisters, Palpatine applauded Zsinj's actions, promoted Zsinj to admiral, and gave him command of the newest Executor-class Star Dreadnought, Brawl. The Victory-class Star Destroyer was sent to the Unknown Regions under Thrawn.
With the Brawl at his command, Zsinj became the heart of Imperial authority in what was now the Quelii Oversector, with the ranks of Grand Moff and High Admiral of Crimson Command—a fleet of a hundred refitted Victory-class Star Destroyers plated with red havod alloy hulls. In this lofty new position, one of Zsinj's duties was to conquer the Drackmarians and control the Rimward stretch of the Hydian Way super-hyperroute. To this end, the Quelii Sector Fleet was the single largest in the Imperial Navy. Even as he gained power and prestige, Zsinj maintained a public persona that belied his genius. With his portly figure and piratical moustache, he put his enemies off guard before he destroyed them.
From admiral to warlord
- "He is a survivor, and shows cunning at playing his enemies off against each other."
- ―Leia Organa
After the Imperial defeat at the Battle of Endor in 4 ABY, the Empire began to fracture and core elements of Imperial power were brought under the control of the Imperial Ruling Council. Zsinj broke away from the Empire with the forces under his command, renaming the Star Dreadnought Brawl to Iron Fist in honor of his first command, and making it the centerpiece of his military forces, making the planet Serenno his headquarters, and ruthlessly dealing with any Rebel threat within his holdings. However, Zsinj's breakout from central authority was not entirely evident, and the Ruling Council's advisers could find no fault with his tactics at first, because he loudly proclaimed loyalty to the true Empire, having learned a hard lesson from the downfall of his mother. Instead of trying to seize more power and territory by force, Zsinj began to work to solidify his power base.
Zsinj sent emissaries to the Alliance of Free Planets and later the fledgling New Republic, causing them to initially leave him alone as they focused on nibbling at the Imperial forces based on Coruscant, though Mon Calamari forces did harass his borders somewhat in 4 ABY before shifting to a more defensive posture. During this time, a growing rivalry began to develop between Zsinj and warlord Treuten Teradoc, whose own pocket Empire, the Greater Maldrood, bordered Zsinj's territory to the south. Throughout the following years, the two would engage in a series of border skirmishes—of all his fellow warlords, Teradoc was the one for whom Zsinj had the greatest antipathy. Beyond those conflicts, however, Zsinj coexisted peacefully with the Ciutric Hegemony and the loyalist Empire, and had only occasional minor conflicts with Grand Moff Ardus Kaine's Pentastar Alignment.
In the earliest days after the death of the Emperor, many warlords found it difficult to maintain the respect of their subjects. With most true stormtroopers remaining loyal to the Imperial Ruling Council, some warlords chose to equip regular infantry with stormtrooper armor. Zsinj took a different route, choosing instead to form his own elite military force. Assembled and led by General Melvar, the Raptors combined aspects of the stormtroopers and the Emperor's Royal Guard, and they were loyal only to Zsinj. Zsinj's industrial complex created or purchased unique equipment for the Raptors, like Incom Y-4 "Raptor" transports and TIE Raptors. Known for both covert and public actions, the Raptors defended Zsinj's holdings, protected his allies, and terrified his enemies. Zsinj made overtures, both friendly and aggressive, to planets spread throughout the galaxy. He also made efforts to recruit Imperial officers into his forces, focusing especially on those with an Intelligence background.
Many joined him, like the pirate queen Leonia Tavira, the ex-Inquisitor Lanu Pasiq, and the Hutt economist Teubbo. Others, like Sair Yonka, remained loyal to Coruscant. A few persistently rejected Zsinj's attempts at both bullying and bribery, like Zel Johans and his 112th Repulsorlift Armor Regiment. Through his subordinates Zsinj operated like a rebel force unto himself. Outside of his official borders, his cells controlled territories of varying size, from entire planets down to individual companies. Using a variety of aliases like "Cortle Steeze" and "Lord Houghten Ween," Zsinj built up a support network independent from his military force. Having consolidated his forces, Zsinj took over the Tion Hegemony, extended his protection to the Corporate Sector, and annexed some territory along the Hydian Way abandoned by Ardus Kaine, extending his Empire as far as to Bogden in the Inner Rim.
During this time, Zsinj built his Dathomir shipyards, started mining operations on Dathomir's fourth moon and initiated some of his many special projects. One of the first of his plots to bear fruit was Project Chubar. Zsinj took control of Binring Biomedical Product, a company based on the Corporate Sector world of Saffalore. There, ex-Imperial scientist Tuzin Gast and his subordinates used genetic and chemical therapy to increase the intellect and Human-like qualities of non-human species such as Gamorreans, Ewoks, and Talz. Zsinj personally captured samples for the project. Gast eventually chose to commit suicide in his laboratory with a small explosive device, and the most notable success of this project, an enhanced Gamorrean subject named Gamma-9104, was allowed to escape. Gamma-9104 later took the name Voort saBinring and went on to join the New Republic Defense Fleet. Despite this setback, Project Chubar continued on Saffalore and in a secondary laboratory aboard Iron Fist.
In 4 ABY, one of Zsinj's allies, Llon Banjeer, acquired military assets from one of his own allies, the D'Asta family, and assaulted the New Republic's hidden Hast Shipyards. This attack sidetracked the New Republic's plans to attack both Zsinj and Teradoc for some time. In 5 ABY, Zsinj repelled an attempt by Mon Calamari Admiral Kalback to gain a foothold on the Hydian Way at Corsin. Kalback was overwhelmed by the Iron Fist and forced to retreat, and the New Republic had to shift their focus to eliminating the mysterious Lord Shadowspawn. In 6 ABY, another Mon Calamari Admiral, Ragab, attempted another push up the Hydian Way to cut off some of Coruscant's support from the Pentastar Alignment and the New Territories. However, Zsinj's Raptors secured a key victory at Paqualis III, stopping their advance. Viewing both his Imperial and New Republic opponents as inferior, and driven by his stubborn pride, Zsinj eventually felt secure enough in his power to challenge the New Republic directly.
- "He knows I would pluck out his heart and fling it into the streets from the highest tower in the Palace."
- ―Ysanne Isard
While the Director of Imperial Intelligence Ysanne Isard controlled the Empire proper, Zsinj kept a respectful distance from her territory. Isard herself believed Zsinj was afraid of her. As the New Republic made inroads toward their conquest of Coruscant, however, Zsinj's ambition compelled him to test their resolve.
After the New Republic took Borleias in 6 ABY, Zsinj sent a small force to probe the Pyria system. A modified Dwarf Star-class freighter bearing a name that followed New Republic conventions, Vengeance Derra IV, arrived in orbit of Borleias and used a secret backdoor in the New Republic's identification system to fake a correct ID. Only Rogue Squadron pilot Corran Horn's instinct allowed the New Republic forces to destroy the freighter's TIE fighters and TIE Bombers and drive the freighter out of the system. The New Republic sent Rogue Squadron on a retaliatory strike against Vengeance Derra IV in orbit of Mrisst. Rogue Squadron crippled Vengeance Derra IV, hurt another Zsinj-allied transport, and destroyed a squadron of TIE fighters.
Zsinj's pride would not allow him to let this challenge go unanswered. The New Republic's reprisal set off a series of hit-and-fade strikes against the New Republic by Zsinj's forces. Zsinj seriously damaged the New Republic base on Noquivzor, believing he was hitting Rogue Squadron. This caused the New Republic to accelerate their timetable for taking Coruscant. During the subsequent Krytos virus crisis, Zsinj made efforts to steal bacta from the New Republic. Rogue Squadron and General Horton Salm's Defender Wing retook a shipment of bacta from a Zsinj-controlled space station orbiting Yag'Dhul.
Zsinj then acted on intelligence provided to him by Isard to attack a bacta convoy in the Graveyard in the Alderaan system. Termagant, one of Zsinj's Strike-class cruisers, destroyed a fake Rogue Squadron that Isard's agent Kirtan Loor had planned to use to turn public sentiment against the New Republic. The real Rogue Squadron destroyed Termagant, but not before Zsinj prepared a HoloNet broadcast to Coruscant claiming that he had destroyed the convoy and Rogue Squadron for Humanitarian reasons. Zsinj claimed that the bacta was deliberately tainted by New Republic agents to get rid of the aliens on Coruscant, and implored the population to support him. This HoloNet broadcast was aired worldwide, however his broadcast had the misfortune of being sent nearly twelve hours after an official report showing the survival of Rogue Squadron. Zsinj was made to appear foolish once again, but the attack caused the New Republic Provisional Council to make the difficult decision to commit forces to hunting Zsinj.
After the fall of Coruscant
- "He's as elusive as the Katana fleet."
- ―Admiral Gial Ackbar
The fall of Coruscant and Isard's apparent death caused many previously loyal Imperial officers and warships to flock to Zsinj's banner, including Admiral Apwar Trigit and his Imperial II-class Star Destroyer Implacable. Zsinj also implemented new special projects, and acquired several former agents of Isard's Imperial Intelligence network—like Captain Zurel Darillian, who lost his wife in the disaster caused by the launch of Isard's ship Lusankya from below the surface of Coruscant in 7 ABY.
Zsinj absorbed the territory of many smaller warlords like Terrinald Screed, whom he executed, and Nigel Nivers. Controlling his forces from Rancor Base on Dathomir, Zsinj became increasingly ambitious, going as far as attacking the New Republic fortress world of New Alderaan.
But with Isard out of the way, the New Republic was able to commit a substantial force, under the command of General Han Solo, to hunt Zsinj. The deployment of this "Solo Command" solely to hunt for Zsinj would later be considered one of the most famous demonstrations of the flexibility of the New Republic Defense Force. Following his success in liberating Thyferra, Rogue Leader Wedge Antilles and his unit was assigned to this force. Rogue Squadron was assigned to Mon Remonda, and Antilles formed a new X-wing unit, later known as Wraith Squadron, to counter Zsinj's tactics with their own innovative ideas.
Zsinj allowed his subordinates a degree of freedom in their fight against the New Republic. Admiral Trigit ordered Gara Petothel to plant false intelligence in New Republic databanks that allowed a small force under his command to destroy Talon Squadron in the Gravan system. Then, unlike Isard, he retrieved his agent rather than killing her. This action, and the attitude behind it, met with Zsinj's approval. Zsinj and Trigit also implemented Project Morrt, which allowed Trigit to locate and nearly destroy the New Republic forces on Folor. Only a creative decoy tactic by the Wraiths, who taunted Zsinj's subordinate by labeling themselves with the comical names of "Dinner Squadron" and "Silly Squadron," allowed the New Republic to escape the base. An empion mine, placed in the Xobome system as part of this project, could have destroyed Wraith Squadron. Unfortunately for Zsinj, they were able to use another creative tactic to foil Trigit. They captured the modified corvette Night Caller, killing the ship's captain, Zurel Darillian, in the process. The squadron then made a mission of collecting intelligence on Zsinj and destroying Trigit.
By impersonating Darillian, Wraith Garik "Face" Loran was able to fool both Trigit and Zsinj long enough to destroy Implacable in the Battle of Ession. The Wraiths discovered that the 181st Imperial Fighter Group under Soontir Fel was apparently serving Zsinj. In reality, the "181st" were merely pretenders led by actor Tetran Cowall. They also collected significant amounts of data about Zsinj's secret support network—for which agents like Darillian were secretly working as overseers and intermediaries—and attacked much of that network along the way. The fact that Zsinj was negotiating for the services of pirate forces gave the Wraiths a new avenue of opportunity in their fight against Zsinj.
The Halmad lure
- "Is he in such dire need that he must rely on pirates? I don't think so. He's assembling a second navy, perhaps a disposable one."
- ―Voort saBinring
Zsinj learned the identity of the squadron that had deceived him so effectively, and decided to target them specifically. An assassination attempt against the Wraiths on Coruscant itself gave the New Republic an idea of how deeply he had infiltrated their sphere of influence. Acting on recommendations from Wraith Squadron personnel, the New Republic Fleet allowed the squadron to set themselves up as a pirate band and harass the planet of Halmad for the purpose of attracting Zsinj's attention. The squadron was joined in this operation by Lara Notsil, who they believed to be an orphan from Aldivy. In fact, Notsil was really Gara Petothel, who initially joined the Wraiths for the purpose of aiding Zsinj and joining his faction.
Zsinj did take notice of the actions of the Hawk-bat Independent Space Force, and after bringing Iron Fist into direct conflict with them over Halmad, he invited the "Hawk-bats" to meet him aboard his flagship. Zsinj put on a show for the Hawk-bats, intending to mislead them about his personality and the discipline of those under his command while he gained intelligence about the pirates. Zsinj's interest was piqued by analysis of the Hawk-bats' combat communications, which had been filtered by communication system modifications performed on their TIE interceptors by Castin Donn. The intercepted signals led Zsinj to believe that an Ewok was flying with the Hawk-bats. During dinner with Zsinj, "General Kargin" of the Hawk-bats—in reality, Garik Loran—spun a tale about his "most ferocious pilot", Kettch. This story vexed Zsinj, as it caused him to doubt the security of Project Chubar.
The meeting ended with Zsinj asking General Kargin to execute a captured infiltrator—Castin Donn. Donn had been captured while attempting to infiltrate restricted areas of Iron Fist—a mission which Antilles had already disapproved. One of the Hawk-bats, "Seku"—a role assumed by Dia Passik—agreed to execute the prisoner as a private commission for Zsinj. Being an expert in body language, Passik believed that Donn had already been killed and that Zsinj's people had installed a pump in Donn's chest to simulate breathing as a test for the Hawk-bats, so she acted before any of her fellow pilots could do anything rash. After Donn's death, the Hawk-bats departed Iron Fist without incident, and Zsinj was left with little doubt about their veracity. Soon afterward, Zsinj demanded an inquiry into the Saffalore facility, and initiated experiments on a real Ewok, Kolot, to determine the plausibility of Kettch's existence.
At the same time, Myn Donos, the only surviving member of Talon Squadron, escorted Gara Petothel to a meeting in New Oldtown on Aldivy. Zsinj had received her request to join his forces, and dispatched one of his officers, Captain Todrin Rossik, to make contact with Petothel through the real Lara's brother, Tavin Notsil. Petothel, who had been having second thoughts about joining Zsinj, resisted Rossik's plan. Donos killed Tavin Notsil from his sniper position, and Petothel killed Rossik. Petothel and Donos returned to the Wraiths, and Zsinj was left confused about Petothel's intentions. Even without Petothel's aid, however, Zsinj soon embarked on one of his most audacious operations.
The raid on Kuat
- "You're joking. Kuat?"
- ―Wes Janson
During the meeting with the Hawk-bats on Iron Fist, Zsinj provided the Wraiths with data on a large-scale attack on "an orbital refueling and trade station" for which he was contracting numerous private space forces. The information from Zsinj showed that the facility was defended by a large New Republic force, and implied that the facility orbited Coruscant, though the Wraiths were uncertain what could be in orbit over Coruscant that would merit the risk of a raid. However, the information about New Republic forces was a ruse on Zsinj's part, to guard against betrayal by his pirate allies. Analysis of the battle plan by Petothel, the Wraiths' acting computer specialist, revealed the fact that the raid was not on a New Republic facility at all. The attack was against the space facilities of Kuat Drive Yards.
Zsinj had learned that KDY, still allied with the Empire, was very close to commissioning a new Executor-class Star Dreadnought, Razor's Kiss. The Empire was about to gain a ship that could challenge Zsinj's own flagship, and Zsinj badly wanted Razor's Kiss for himself. He found the weaknesses in the construction facility's security by helping a Colonel in the ship's complement to set up a smuggling operation. The plan for capturing Razor's Kiss was twofold: a boarding party would seize the ship's bridge while Zsinj's space forces, including the pirates, provided a distraction for Kuat's defense fleet.
The plan worked flawlessly until the Wraiths initiated several acts of sabotage. Razor's Kiss left the Kuat system under Zsinj's command, but Shalla Nelprin had uploaded a program into the ship's computers which would transmit the vessel's coordinates to the waiting New Republic fleet, then she stole a senior officer's hyperdrive-equipped TIE interceptor and landed on the hull of Razor's Kiss. At the same time, Voort saBinring crash-landed his interceptor on Iron Fist. Zsinj's right-hand man, General Melvar, paid the pirates, and Iron Fist went to rendezvous with Razor's Kiss.
As soon as Razor's Kiss dropped out of hyperspace, she began broadcasting her location. Mon Remonda was waiting and Solo positioned his fleet to intercept. Zsinj was stunned, but he steeled himself for a fight and vowed to destroy Solo. This was not to be, however, as the Wraiths' saboteurs made their moves. Nelprin destroyed the bridge deflector shields on Razor's Kiss, and the New Republic fleet pounded the undermanned and poorly-defended ship. Zsinj moved to protect his prize, and launched swarms of TIEs. Razor's Kiss lost her bridge during the fight. Trooper Gatterweld, an Imperial loyalist, decided it would be better for Zsinj to own the ship than to let it be destroyed and attempted to save the ship using the auxiliary bridge. It appeared as if Zsinj would once again turn defeat into victory, but then saBinring reactivated his crashed fighter and attacked Iron Fist's own shield generators, forcing Zsinj to retreat as Razor's Kiss exploded.
- "He's finally decided to come in for a scrap."
- ―General Han Solo
The loss of Razor's Kiss disturbed Zsinj more than he expected. Solo had used Zsinj's own ambition against him, and turned his desire to protect his new possession into a means to hurt him severely. Zsinj resolved not to be as predictable, and began some of his most ambitious plots yet. Project Minefield, an offshoot of Project Chubar, brainwashed a significant number of non-human members of the New Republic government and fleet, Project Funeral involved the placement and activation of these operatives, and Project Blunted Razor involved the collection of as much of the Razor's Kiss debris as possible and transporting it to Rancor Base, where the remains were used to create the Second Death, a crude vessel resembling Iron Fist's remains.
By executing carefully calculated Raptor raids, Zsinj led Solo into a trap. At the Battle of Levian Two, Zsinj brought in a fleet larger than Solo thought possible. Neither side took major losses, but Solo was forced to reevaluate his course of action. With Solo's approval, the supply officers of Wraith and Rogue Squadrons located a decoy to use as bait for Zsinj. Meanwhile, Wraith Squadron set out to infiltrate Binring Biomedical and investigate its connection to Zsinj, unaware it was a trap.
After learning the truth about Voort saBinring and Kettch, Zsinj consolidated the Saffalore laboratory into the secondary lab on Iron Fist. He then called the heads of the Saffalore facility to Iron Fist. Novin Bress and Tuzin Gast's niece Edda Gast were brought before the warlord to report on possible lost specimens. Bress was forced to admit the possibility that specimens were unaccounted for in the aftermath of Tuzin Gast's suicide. Edda Gast remained calm during the meeting, and when Zsinj presented the doctors with a pair of pistols as if inviting them to commit suicide, Gast instead executed Bress. This caused Zsinj to declare her both blameless, for obeying her superiors' orders as best she was able from the limited information they passed on to her, and not stupid, for not killing herself on his implied command. Zsinj then put her in charge of trapping the Wraiths.
Plans within plans
- "Stay, and accept the death you know you deserve!"
- ―Tolokai to Mon Mothma
Zsinj sent Captain Radaf Netbers to assist Gast and Binring's own security forces in turning the Binring facility into a trap. Unfortunately for Zsinj, further unorthodox tactics on the part of the Wraiths allowed them to kill Netbers and escape with Doctor Gast in their custody. Zsinj flew into a fit of rage, and practically destroyed his own office on Iron Fist. He knew Gast's loyalty was only to herself, and made plans to eliminate her. He also accelerated the Project Funeral timetable.
Project Funeral was an ambitious endeavor. By rapidly brainwashing non-humans and placing agents near them who would activate their programming with unique code phrases, Zsinj would accomplish two objectives: hurting the New Republic directly by assassinating key personnel and destroying New Republic assets, and hurting it more subtly by causing a schism between Humans and non-humans. In a short time, Zsinj was able to sow chaos throughout the New Republic. Shortly before the Saffalore operation, Twi'lek Jart Eyan was activated to attack Admiral Gial Ackbar. After Saffalore, and Zsinj's decision to proceed more rapidly, several more attacks occurred almost simultaneously. Tolokai, a Gotal aide of Mon Mothma, nearly killed the Chief of State. Two other Gotal soldiers attacked a barracks and a holotheater. Galey, a support staffer aboard Mon Remonda, activated the Twi'leks Tal'dira and Nuro Tualin just before the Battle of Jussafet Four, and then tried to kill Edda Gast, but failed to do so.
Tualin, a pilot in Polearm Squadron, fired on Mon Remonda with his A-wing, and would have successfully destroyed the bridge if Force-sensitive pilot Tyria Sarkin had not anticipated his action. Tal'dira, a pilot in Rogue Squadron, attempted to kill Antilles, but another Force-sensitive, Corran Horn felt his attack coming and killed the Twi'lek before he could harm Antilles. Despite the actions of the brainwashed Twi'leks, Solo's fleet won the day at Jussafet. Zsinj's attack force was driven off, the Raptors on the ground were destroyed, a number of Raptor craft were captured, and the New Republic's effort to defend Jussafet Four, an Imperial world, drew the attention of Imperial Admiral Teren Rogriss.
Rogriss requested an emissary from Solo's fleet, and Solo sent Loran to the Star Destroyer Agonizer. Rogriss and Loran recognized that despite their differences, they had a common enemy in Zsinj. They made an informal agreement to share intelligence, and Loran learned that the fighter unit that was apparently led by Baron Fel was not the real Imperial 181st, as the real unit was still serving the loyalist Empire. When Loran returned to Mon Remonda, Solo took it upon his own authority to accept Rogriss' offer without even consulting Fleet Command.
Redirection and misdirection
- "The effect on our immediate group is that I'm obliged to take you three temporarily off active duty."
- ―Wedge Antilles, to the Twi'leks under his command
Project Funeral was working precisely as Zsinj intended. The actions of the brainwashed Gotals and Twi'leks caused their species to fall under suspicion, and preventative actions that the New Republic authorities felt they had to take caused tension between minority species and the human majority. In response, Antilles convened the Wraiths and Rogues for a planning session, during which they divined Zsinj's plans and proposed countermeasures. They forwarded their conclusions to General Airen Cracken, who dedicated resources to testing the plausibility of Antilles' report. The Wraiths' predictions came true, and the New Republic Intelligence Service thwarted an attempt by Sullustan pilot Rostat Manr to crash the cruise liner Nebula Queen. Since they did so by using one of Manr's Sullustan subordinates, Nurm, as an intermediary, further Human-alien enmity was avoided. NRI also stopped a similar Bothan effort to cause a computer-induced explosion at a power plant. Project Funeral was effectively over.
Zsinj had been leading Solo's fleet into traps, so Antilles decided to use even more unconventional methods to lure Zsinj. A YT-1300 light freighter, mocked up to look like the Millennium Falcon and cleverly dubbed the "Millennium Falsehood," flew to Kidriff 5 to make it appear that Solo himself was fomenting rebellion. The ruse went according to plan, but a miscalculation on the part of Captain Loran caused Petothel to flee the Wraiths. Petothel joined Zsinj on Iron Fist, but her loyalty was still to the Wraiths. She embarked on a plan to plant false intelligence and cripple Iron Fist.
Based on their estimation of Petothel's character, Antilles and the Wraiths decided to continue the Millennium Falsehood plan. With Rogriss' task force operating on one side of Zsinj's space and Solo's fleet working the other, Zsinj's enemies nibbled at his territory. Within a week, Zsinj had lost millions of credits, eight percent of his income. Worlds rejected Zsinj's rule, like Vispil, where he lost the Carrack-class light cruiser Counterpunch to planetary defense forces.
Zsinj was despondent. Even General Melvar was concerned; Zsinj was acting more pessimistic than he had ever seen. Together, the warlord and his general formulated a plan to stop Zsinj's ongoing losses and restore his sagging confidence.
Turning the tide
- "We kill General Han Solo and as many of his friends and aides as is humanly possible."
"That will be the most enjoyable part of the operation."
- ―Zsinj and Melvar
To save his empire, Zsinj outlined a five-step plan to Melvar. He wanted to retain control of Iron Fist, save as much of his support network as possible, eliminate General Solo, retreat to Rancor Base to mend his fleet, and finally, formulate his next scheme for galactic domination.
To accomplish these goals, he followed the advice of the apparently-loyal Petothel. She told him Solo was likely to be found on worlds with prior relations with Alderaan, starting with Comkin V. When Zsinj's forces engaged the Millennium Falsehood, Petothel made a clandestine transmission to the Wraiths telling them of her effort to mislead Zsinj. Petothel told them that she listed Vahaba as the next likely target in her briefing for Zsinj. Neither side took heavy losses at Comkin, because neither side brought in the bulk of their fleet. Zsinj's own long-established doctrine prevented him from fighting on a battleground chosen by the enemy, and Solo believed Zsinj was spooked.
Before the Millennium Falsehood put in an appearance at Vahaba, Solo had Captain Loran contact their Imperial ally, Rogriss. After a bit of verbal sparring, Loran got Rogriss to agree to loan an Interdictor to Solo's fleet. After Iron Fist crept into the Vahaba system, the Interdictor Stellar Web activated its gravity well projectors. Zsinj was trapped, until he could disable or destroy Stellar Web. Zsinj focused his fleet's efforts on facilitating Iron Fist's escape. When Stellar Web was forced to reverse her gravity generators to avoid the impending collision of the crippled Victory-class Star Destroyer Serpent's Smile, Zsinj jumped away, believing himself safe.
Believing he had Petothel under sufficient surveillance, Zsinj did not expect her droid-assisted sabotage. Tonin, Petothel's R2 unit, had used an army of MSE-6 mouse droids to gain a limited amount of control over Iron Fist. Before leaving the Vahaba system, Tonin erased the Selaggis system from the Star Dreadnought's primary databank and subtly altered her course to take the ship there. Then Tonin ordered his diminutive droid soldiers to attack Iron Fist's hyperdrive. Petothel sent a HoloNet transmission to apprise Mon Remonda of Iron Fist's incapacity.
Zsinj knew it was time to implement his escape plan. He called in as much of his fleet as he could muster, along with any of his pirate allies that could join him in time. He also summoned Second Death for her intended purpose. Since the connection between Wraith Squadron and the Hawk-bat pirates was still a secret to him, Zsinj did not realize that summoning the pirates was what confirmed Solo's decision to engage him.
The Battle of Selaggis was not a long one. Zsinj managed to bring in his third battle group, and launched all of Iron Fist's fighters except the ersatz 181st and experimental units. Hiding in the belt of Selaggis VI, Zsinj used a tactic he invented on the original Iron Fist to attack Solo's fighter groups by blowing the asteroids into flak. Only by heeding Myn Donos' hard-earned danger sense were most of the New Republic fighters able to frustrate Zsinj's plans for an ambush. Meanwhile, Petothel escaped Iron Fist in her X-wing, with most of the Project Chubar subjects accompanying her in a Sentinel-class landing craft piloted by Kolot, the real Ewok pilot.
Zsinj was getting depressed again. His enemies were anticipating him. And without his knowledge, Petothel's sabotage caused his own ship to transmit detailed tactical data to the enemy. Zsinj's mood brightened, however, when his chief engineer announced the restoration of hyperdrive capability. Zsinj sent the fake Baron Fel and his squadron to cover Iron Fist's retreat.
Retreat and recovery
- "Zsinj, I'm not a rich man. Not really an ambitious man. Maybe you should take that into account. It means that you can never cost me as much as I've cost you. Never."
- ―General Han Solo
The "181st" chose to engage Mon Remonda's fighters over the ruins of the colony on Selaggis VI's moon. The New Republic forces were obligated to try to protect anyone who might have survived when Zsinj attacked the colony five months earlier. Zsinj's fighters effectively distracted the fighters under Antilles' command, but Solo's main warships were still bearing down on Iron Fist. Zsinj made his move to escape.
The decoy ship Second Death deployed its Nightcloak and made ready to cover Iron Fist's departure. Meanwhile, Voort saBinring cut Zsinj's diversionary fighter force in half by jamming their communications—every fighter in the mock 181st had a droid companion. Zsinj used rigged asteroids to slow the pursuing Mon Remonda, and deployed the experimental TIE Raptors. After pursuing "Baron Fel" to the surface of Selaggis' moon, Antilles learned that the leader of the false 181st was actually Cowall, impersonating Fel to distract Antilles. Petothel protected Antilles from a Raptor attack before making her own exit from the battle, which was coming to a close.
Though retreating from a losing battle seriously hurt Zsinj's pride, Iron Fist moved into the concealment of Second Death's Nightcloak. They successfully jumped, and Second Death detonated—turning back into the debris that made up most of her bulk. To outside observers, it looked like Iron Fist destroyed herself with a faulty hyperdrive.
But Iron Fist was intact, and she escaped to Zsinj-friendly space. Zsinj put in a hypercomm call to Han Solo from the cockpit of a Lambda-class shuttle, and the two commanders exchanged unpleasantries. Solo offered to let Zsinj kiss Chewbacca, causing Zsinj to unleash a colorful series of profanity in several languages for almost a full minute, including a Rodese phrase Solo recognized as mocking his familial makeup. Solo felt relieved as the conversation ended, not knowing Zsinj had returned to Iron Fist. Though Solo believed he was victorious, the game was not quite over.
The fall of Zsinj's Empire
- "Let me get this straight. You said 'Kiss my Wookiee!' to the most powerful warlord in the galaxy?"
- ―Prince Isolder to Han Solo
Upon returning to Coruscant, Solo learned that the woman he loved was considering a political marriage to Isolder of the Hapes Consortium to strengthen the New Republic. Solo knew he had nothing to offer Princess Leia Organa to counter Isolder's incredible wealth, so he decided to win her a gift in a way only he could—a sabacc game with high stakes. He won the planet Dathomir from the Drackmarian warlord Omogg. He offered the planet to Leia to replace New Alderaan, which Zsinj had previously attacked.
Unfortunately for Solo, Omogg had deceived him—Dathomir was in the heart of Zsinj's space. Though no one realized it at the time, Omogg had deliberately drawn Solo to Zsinj's location to eliminate Zsinj's presence in what was once Drackmarian space. In Solo's characteristic fashion, he resigned his commission, kidnapped Leia, and took her to his planet. Solo did not realize that his impulsiveness was about to bring him back into conflict with his nemesis.
When Solo arrived at Dathomir, he immediately spotted Zsinj's shipyard—and the massive fleet assembled there spotted Solo. Solo's attempt to disguise the Falcon as one of Zsinj's Incom Y-4s did not last long, but he managed to fire concussion missiles into an unshielded frigate. The Falcon rode the ruined frigate into Dathomir's atmosphere, but there was a surprise waiting on the surface: the Witches of Dathomir.
The Jedi Knight Luke Skywalker pursued Solo with Isolder's Battle Dragon, Song of War. They arrived at Dathomir only to watch the Falcon crashing. Isolder and Skywalker followed them in, but they were also captured by a Force Witch. Skywalker was soon reunited with Han and Leia, but in the skies above Dathomir, Zsinj's forces braced for an attack and, having learned of Solo's presence, General Melvar began to negotiate with the Nightsisters for custody of Solo.
As the Rebel intruders made efforts to escape the planet, Zsinj deployed the Orbital Nightcloak to cow the planet's inhabitants into submission. Zsinj directly contacted Gethzerion, the leader of the Nightsisters, to demand the transfer of Solo. The Nightsister captured Solo, and Melvar took two shuttles to the surface to claim him—an armed one for himself and Solo, and an unarmed one for the Nightsisters to depart the planet. In a display of treachery Zsinj did not foresee, Gethzerion killed Melvar and stole the armed shuttle. Unfortunately for the Nightsisters' plans, Skywalker drew more deeply on the Force than he ever had before in order to fight them. He staged an attack to free Solo, and then pursued the Nightsisters' shuttle into the Dathomir sky in the Falcon along with Solo. With newfound confidence, Skywalker used his Force-enhanced skills to help Zsinj's forces destroy the Nightsisters, and then he attacked the Nightcloak.
Zsinj deployed hundreds of starfighters to stop the Falcon, but he could not keep Skywalker from shutting down his planet-killing satellites. When Skywalker realized that Iron Fist was within range, Solo reclaimed the helm of the Falcon. Slipping beneath Iron Fist's shields, Solo put in a priority communication directly to Zsinj. The last words Zsinj ever heard were Solo telling him to kiss his Wookiee. With his last two concussion missiles, Solo obliterated the bridge of the Star Dreadnought. In 8 ABY, at what would later be known as the Battle of Dathomir, Zsinj met his demise.
- "Not only is the New Republic in dire need of support from the outside, but the bulk of Zsinj's forces are still out there."
- ―Captain Baden Lathe, New Republic Intelligence Service
With Zsinj gone, the Hapan fleet moved into Dathomir space and destroyed the shipyard, capturing or destroying many of the late warlord's ships. The planet was free from Zsinj, the Nightsisters were destroyed, and Solo transferred legal ownership of Dathomir to the witches. The grateful world of Dathomir quickly joined the New Republic. Shortly thereafter, Organa married Solo. This wedding would be a successful one, unlike their aborted attempt to marry in 5 ABY. Isolder took a Dathomir native, Teneniel Djo, as his wife, but due to internal Hapan politics the Consortium committed only to a very limited alliance with the New Republic.
Though his reign lasted a mere four years, Zsinj's death had widespread repercussions. The greatest single threat to the New Republic was eliminated, but Zsinj's death also left the Empire free to return their focus to the New Republic. Even worse, Zsinj's forces remained active, but lacked direction. Many of the Raptor commandos independently committed terrorist acts against the New Republic, or joined hardline Imperial factions like Ennix Devian's Kaarenth Dissension.
Although the western part of Zsinj's holdings was annexed by the loyalist Empire, most of the territory of Zsinj's Empire fell to the New Republic, and it was only after Zsinj's death that the New Republic was finally able to take Kuat in mid-8 ABY, after failed attempts in 4 ABY and 7 ABY.
Much of Zsinj's fleet was claimed by a number of independent warlords, most notably Teradoc, who waited until Zsinj's demise in 8 ABY to declare himself "High Admiral of the Mid Rim," and rushed to seize the worlds along the Gordian Reach, only to find himself in a three-way war against New Republic's Admiral Ackbar and Imperial Admiral Rogriss. In the end, Teradoc was soundly defeated and was forced to flee to the Deep Core, establishing a new regime there, the core of which was based on the remains of Zsinj's former Crimson Command.
Personality and traits
- "A soldier's primary concern is not the establishment of government. Rather, it is a warrior's duty to build up the strongest force possible. It is his duty to crush his foes."
An overweight, balding human male, with brown and gray hair, Zsinj was noted as a devious man, and in fact, he did believe that misdirection was the greatest weapon at his command. Adopting a somewhat comical outward appearance, he eventually took on the white uniform of a Grand Admiral, a rank he never earned, which lent an element of incongruity to his appearance when combined with his corpulence and his handlebar moustache. Additionally, he was also known to employ various theatrics, such as consuming non-alcoholic beverages and then feigning drunkenness in order to observe the reactions of those around him.
As a result of his numerous deceptions, some considered him rough and piratical, others saw him as a psychopath, and a few thought he was a buffoon. For strategic reasons, Zsinj did not want anyone to have an accurate picture of his personality, but his various personas were also necessary to keep the hyperintelligent admiral from becoming bored.
Few people truly knew Zsinj, but his second-in-command Melvar knew him best. Zsinj was comfortable discussing his various deceptions in front of Melvar, and allowed Melvar to see the genuine emotional reactions that he hid behind his public persona. Although brilliant and calculating, Zsinj could sometimes act to soothe his own sense of pride, as evidenced by his lashing out against the New Republic after their punitive strike against Mrisst. Zsinj was capable of committing brutal and inhumane acts, particularly against non-humans, as seen with his special projects like Project Chubar and Project Funeral. He was also somewhat volatile at times, launching into violent tantrums, the severity of which his associate Melvar could sometimes predict. Zsinj also held a ruthless martial philosophy, being willing to make great sacrifices, often at the expense of his subjugated worlds, in order to achieve ultimate victory.
Skills and abilities
- "Do you know he really is a genius? He can curse fluently in nearly sixty languages. Now I have heard some obscenities in my time, but this man has a special talent."
- ―General Han Solo to Prince Isolder
Zsinj was very technically proficient—so much so that his instructors at the Imperial Academy tried to guide him toward a career in support services. New Republic Intelligence believed he had received technical training in his youth, but as with many details of his early life NRI was never able to verify this. Zsinj had a fair degree of skill with general computer use, astrogation, and starship and starfighter engineering, and the operations of capital ships and transports. His Raptors were outfitted with advanced vehicles and armor, and Zsinj personally designed their TIE/rpt starfighters.
Zsinj was also an expert tactician. He invented a number of combat maneuvers which would later be taught in various military academies, such as the use of asteroids as a natural flak screen. He also had excellent organizational and management skills, as shown in his creation of an entirely new military force, the Raptors, and his ability to maintain a fleet composed of several disparate ex-Imperial elements. In personal combat, he was capable of both short-range melee combat and long-range fighting. Zsinj displayed proficiency with various blasters and vibroweapons, and even had some skill with longbows and thrown weapons. He was also capable of riding large animals.
In addition to his military and technical skills, Zsinj was proficient in bargaining and persuasion, and possessed knowledge of bureaucracy and law. Zsinj also had the business acumen to maintain a hidden financial empire throughout New Republic and Imperial territory in addition to his own. Until Wraith Squadron assumed the mission of one of Zsinj's underlings, the New Republic was totally unaware of this. He was able to use the protection of his military forces as an incentive for planetary governors to provide him with secret assets, as he did on worlds like Viamarr 4, Ession and Xartun. His secret business empire supported his publicly known military forces. He kept these financial holdings under numerous alias, including "Cortle Steeze," "Houghten Ween," and "Oan Pakkerd."
Zsinj spoke several non-Basic languages, including Huttese, Mon Calamarian, and Rodese. Han Solo recorded Zsinj's final communication to Mon Remonda in order to have it translated by a 3PO unit. He determined that Zsinj used nearly sixty different languages during his minute-long tirade.
Zsinj's New Republic Intelligence dossier claimed that he was unable to lie convincingly despite years of practice; however, his encounters with Wraith Squadron directly contradicted this, as he was able to execute several masterful deceptions requiring personal contact with New Republic personnel.
- "Without a doubt, Zsinj considered his greatest weapon to be the Iron Fist."
- ―Captain Baden Lathe, New Republic Intelligence Service
As an Imperial officer and later a warlord, Zsinj wore an Imperial Navy uniform. Though he often wore the white uniform of a Grand Admiral despite never earning that rank, he was also known to wear the standard green uniform at times as well. He generally carried a blaster pistol—which he once used to obliterate his own office furnishings during a tantrum—and also carried a comlink and code cylinder. He was also known to own a scepter. As warlord of his own empire, Zsinj commanded a sizable fleet, but generally preferred to command from his flagship, the Executor-class Star Dreadnought Iron Fist.
Behind the scenes
- "Zsinj did have an edge in ships, certainly, but lost due to tactics, circumstances, and the fog of war, all of which kept him from bringing his full strength to bear on his intended targets."
- ―Aaron Allston
Warlord Zsinj was originally created as the antagonist for Han Solo in The Courtship of Princess Leia, a 1994 novel by Dave Wolverton, but his character was not elaborately described. He then served as a background antagonist in the first four books of the X-Wing series, written by Michael A. Stackpole and published from January 1996 to February 1997. As he never made a direct appearance, his character was not heavily detailed.
His background and his empire were described in more detail in the West End Games sourcebook Cracken's Threat Dossier in July 1997, which detailed the technology and supporting characters of three major story arcs—the "Hapan Cluster Incident" as detailed in The Courtship of Princess Leia, the Black Fleet Crisis from the eponymous novel series, and the "Corellian Incident" depicted in Star Wars: The Corellian Trilogy. Zsinj's entry in this sourcebook made him into a devious opponent for players of Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, but said little about the personality that would later be revealed.
Readers learned more about Zsinj as a person in the next three books in the X-Wing series, published from February 1998 to February 1999, following the exploits of Wraith Squadron. Author Aaron Allston turned Zsinj into a more elaborate character, who used deception and theatrics to prevent his enemies from knowing him too well. Zsinj's subsequent entry in 2002's The New Essential Guide to Characters primarily contained information from the Wraith Squadron series.
Prior to his death in 2014, author Aaron Allston published a "Frequently Asked Questions" page, in which he laid out some of his thoughts about writing for Star Wars, including the character of Zsinj and his interaction with Han Solo. Allston stated that the climactic battle for the Razor's Kiss in X-Wing: Iron Fist was based in part on the real-life Battle of Midway. Allston felt Zsinj's position was much like that of the Imperial Japanese Navy, in that his forces were stronger, but he was unable to bring his full strength to bear against his intended targets due to adverse circumstances.
Allston also indicated that an apparent inconsistency between Solo Command and The Courtship of Princess Leia was, in fact, not an error. In The Courtship of Princess Leia, Solo tells Leia and Prince Isolder that he called Zsinj to gloat about destroying Iron Fist and told Zsinj to "kiss my Wookiee!" However, in Solo Command, it is Zsinj who initiates the call, and Solo actually says much less forcefully, "maybe I could let you kiss my Wookiee." Allston rationalizes this by stating that Solo was under a great deal of stress during the campaign, and was simply having difficulty remembering the details with total clarity.
The Official Star Wars Fact File 83, published around July 2003, explicitly accused Zsinj of "delusional self-aggrandizement," but more direct sources do not support this, and the most recent source, the 2013 StarWars.com blog "The Imperial Warlords: Despoilers of an Empire" by Abel G. Peña and Daniel Wallace, merely states his mind took an "absurdist turn."
"The Imperial Warlords: Despoilers of an Empire" created an additional backstory for Zsinj set during the Clone Wars, giving Zsinj a previously unknown mother, yet wiping her from "official" Imperial history in a manner that fits with the previously known difficulty New Republic Intelligence had in assembling Zsinj's profile in Cracken's Threat Dossier.
Zsinj's rank and uniform
Zsinj is specifically described in the Wraith Squadron novels and the text of Cracken's Threat Dossier as wearing a Grand Admiral's uniform, but prior to the publication of The Essential Atlas, none of the four available images unambiguously depicted him in the white uniform of that rank, nor was he seen wearing the epaulets generally worn with that type of uniform.
The earliest illustration, in Cracken's Threat Dossier, showed Zsinj wearing a dark uniform without epaulets and a 3-by-2 rank plaque, despite specifying in his entry that he wore a Grand Admiral's uniform. This type of rank plaque is, according to prior guides like the Imperial Sourcebook, usually typical of a Captain or Commander. However, the Imperial Sourcebook specified that such plaques are generally worn with code cylinders, and Zsinj was depicted with none. The same rank insignia was shown in The Essential Chronology, though here the shade of his uniform tunic was not so clearly defined.
The two more recent sources, The New Essential Guide to Characters and The New Essential Chronology, unambiguously depicted a green uniform, with a rank plaque not seen before, similar to some worn by Moffs or Grand Moffs, but again without code cylinders. Adding to the ambiguity, the Rebellion Era Sourcebook attributes Zsinj at least one code cylinder as a warlord after Endor. As Zsinj's earliest appearance in The Courtship of Princess Leia did not state the color of his uniform or the design of his rank plaque, and his entry in The New Essential Guide to Characters, published after the Wraith Squadron novels, made no mention of his assuming the white uniform, it is difficult to place any of his artistic depictions chronologically or to draw any conclusions about his rank insignia.
Zsinj's actual rank before rejecting the authority of the regime on Coruscant was also formerly unclear prior to his mention in The Essential Atlas. He was identified as an "Admiral" in Cracken's Threat Dossier, while Wraith Squadron called him "a onetime Imperial admiral." However, in a brief line of dialogue in The Courtship of Princess Leia, Han Solo makes a reference to "Zsinj or some other Grand Moff," potentially associating Zsinj with that political position. It was known, however, that he commanded the Quelii Sector Fleet, and no separate Grand Moff of the oversector was ever specified.
These details were finally resolved with the publication of The Essential Atlas in 2009, which provided confirmation of Zsinj's position as Grand Moff of the Quelii Oversector, and depicted him in a uniform that combined details of all the prior visual and text depictions: a white Grand Admiral uniform complete with epaulets, the unique rank plaque previously depicted in The New Essential Guide to Characters and The New Essential Chronology, and code cylinders, which are not normally depicted on Grand Admirals. His subsequent depiction in 2012's The Essential Guide to Warfare conforms to this design.