- "Come to Ebaq 9! Come to the sacrifice of the Solo twins!"
- ―Warmaster Tsavong Lah
The Battle of Ebaq 9 was a major battle between the New Republic and the Yuuzhan Vong, considered the turning point of the war in favor of the New Republic. The battle plan was conceived and coordinated by an ailing Admiral Ackbar, former Supreme Commander of the New Republic Defense Force, and was put into practice by several of the Republic's most able officers, including General Garm Bel Iblis and Admiral Kre'fey. After striking small raids on, and seizing, poorly defended worlds captured by the Yuuzhan Vong, Ackbar lured their Warmaster, Tsavong Lah to the trap at the moon Ebaq 9 by giving Lah evidence of a fortress called the Final Redoubt at the moon there. With Supreme Overlord Shimrra's permission, he took a large fleet to the moon to decimate the New Republic forces there.
With the Solo twins and other Jedi at the moon as well, Lah was especially motivated to win the battle and decimate the forces there. However he was drawn into a trap by General Keyan Farlander's battle group at the moon, where he was soon ambushed by Admiral Traest Kre'fey. Eventually, a large New Republic task force led by Garm Bel Iblis and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker trapped the Warmaster. With his fleets doomed, Lah led 10,000 troops to eliminate the Jedi on the moon. However, all of his troops were killed when Vergere, a Jedi Knight who initially joined the Yuuzhan Vong, sacrificed herself by crashing her ship on the moon's surface, causing explosive decompression in the mines inside it, to save Jacen. Lah survived, and confronted Jaina, along with her Jedi friends Lowbacca and Tesar Sebatyne. Jaina was able to kill the Warmaster, and all of his troops battling the New Republic fleet were killed as well.
The subsequent New Republic victory resulted not only in the death of Warmaster Tsavong Lah, but a large portion of the already weakened Warrior caste along with him. The battle was a major morale victory for the Jedi and failing New Republic, and turned the tide of the war onto their side. It also proved to be the catalyst for the formation of the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances, as well as a disastrous and humiliating defeat for the newly christened Yuuzhan Vong Empire.
The tenacious enemyEdit
After numerous defeats and the loss of Coruscant, the New Republic was on the verge of defeat. When the government regrouped on Mon Calamari, having only been able to set up a headquarters there due to the rearguard action in the Pyria system, it became apparent that one more major defeat could destroy the remnants of the New Republic. However, technological advances following the fall of Coruscant and the recuperation and consolidation of heavy industry across Republic-held areas of the galaxy had given the government some breathing space.
The total destruction of Supreme Commander Komm Karsh's reinforcement fleet at Obroa-skai and the rumblings of the heretic movement across the newly formed Yuuzhan'tar had thrown the Yuuzhan Vong off balance. It was now time for the New Republic to capitalize on this. With the election of Cal Omas as the new Chief of State helping to stabilize the government, and Luke Skywalker's pledge to have the Jedi work alongside him, morale was steadily rising. However, the losses at Coruscant had brought the military to its knees. Admiral Ackbar, coming out of retirement to lead the fight against the enemy, decided that the best strategy to resolve this would be to engage poorly defended Yuuzhan Vong worlds, retreating when relief fleets arrived. In this way the military would season and become confident.
Luring the WarmasterEdit
- "I believe I have the information which will bring about the decisive battle."
- ―Nom Anor
In order to lure the Yuuzhan Vong onto a battleground of their choosing, the New Republic had to manipulate the extensive spy network operating throughout the New Republic into going for the bait. Ayddar Nylykerka, Director of New Republic Fleet Intelligence, teamed up with Mara Jade Skywalker to accomplish this goal. Through careful deceit and expert trickery the Yuuzhan Vong spies were identified and fed false information. Nylykerka and Jade were judicious in their planning; small amounts of information were released deliberately to different agents so the Yuuzhan Vong could formulate their own plan. Rumors of the Final Redoubt, a fortress in the Deep Core, began to circulate. Jacen and Jaina Solo, the twins so sought after by Shimrra and his council (Jacen because he had converted to and renounced the Yuuzhan Vong religion, Jaina for declaring herself to be an avatar of Yun-Harla), were said to be at this fortress, along with the newly elected New Republic command. Executor Nom Anor was drawn in by the trap and reported his 'findings' to Shimrra, who in turn gave Tsavong Lah permission to prosecute the engagement.
The fleet Warmaster Lah set out in to destroy the New Republic at Ebaq 9 was nowhere near the size of the colossal Coruscant invasion fleet, but was still described as the largest fleet seen since the Fall of Coruscant, thus eclipsing the fleets seen at Hapes, Borleias, and Obroa-skai. It was composed of different battle groups, named after the Yuuzhan Vong deities. Lah was something of a fanatic, a personality trait the returning Admiral Ackbar saw fit to fully exploit.
Despite being physically weak and advanced in age, Ackbar still possessed a cunning mind. While he had spent the entire war up to that point in his home on Mon Calamari, current Defense Force officers, including current Supreme Commander Sien Sovv and Fleet Intelligence Director Ayddar Nylykerka, regularly provided Ackbar with reports and intelligence on the Yuuzhan Vong and the progress of the invasion. After meeting several times with Jacen Solo to gain additional information on the invaders, Ackbar requested to speak with Cal Omas. Ackbar realized that the Yuuzhan Vong's greatest strengths were also the source of their greatest weaknesses; their unswerving loyalty to their leaders and the fact that they never retreated made them predictable, as did their penchant for mass slaughter and sacrifice. Omas and the High Council approved Ackbar's plan, and it was set into motion. Sien Sovv offered to resign so that Ackbar could once again be Supreme Commander, but the aged Calamarian refused, preferring to take on a consultative role.
- "The enemy is maneuvering well. But still we will crush him. Our numbers are overwhelming."
- ―Unnamed Yuuzhan Vong Executor
Lah's armada arrived to find only General Farlander's battle group orbiting the moon. As the Warmaster's massive force fanned out, the yammosks were jammed. However, such was the size and strength of the fleet that Lah felt this hardly mattered. Farlander's squadron was impossibly outnumbered. Lah ordered the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka to advance and engage Farlander's force, and the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin and Yun Q'aah to flank and envelop the defense force, keeping the Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan and the Battle Group of Yun-Harla in reserve in order to pursue the New Republic forces through hyperspace should they attempt to flee. The voxyn onboard signaled the presence of Jedi on the moon; the Warmaster was content to conduct the battle at his own pace.
Farlander's squadron surprised the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka, however, by rapidly changing formation from that of a line to a wedge and driving through the approaching Yuuzhan Vong ships. Eight large vessels were put out of action within moments, and already Tsavong Lah had underestimated his opponents. To compound his error, before the Battle Groups of Yun-Txiin and Yun-Q'aah could carry out their flanking maneuver, Farlander repeated his wedge attack. Madurrin, the Anx Jedi practicing battle meditation on the bridge of Farlander's command ship, was proving more than a match for the un-coordinated Yuuzhan Vong forces. However the strength of the invaders began to take their toll. Jaina Solo's Twin Suns Squadron was only one of the starfighter squadrons which took heavy damage in the engagement. Solo sent a message through the Force to Madurrin requesting help and Admiral Traest Kre'fey's task force leapt in from the outskirts of the system.
Kre'fey's force, designed to appear to be a convoy which had merely happened upon the engagement, was nothing of the sort. As the Ralroost and its battle ships moved in to the rear of the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin, Tsavong Lah had to call off his flanking movement lest the new arrivals attack its rear. To compensate, Lah moved the Battle Group of Yun-Harla in for support, while his other forces engaged Farlander's stubborn squadron. The Warmaster kept his group in reserve. Unbeknownst to Lah, the large transports which had arrived with Kre'fey's force and promptly disappeared into hyperspace were not part of a supply convoy. Thirty light-years from the battle they re-emerged from hyperspace and laid an interdictor mine. Around the interdictor they then proceeded to lay tens of thousands of mines in a massive field across the space corridor. The complex navigational routes of the Deep Core were ideal for such a trap.
Finally, in order to save the rapidly failing squadron, the Ralroost launched a dovin missile to a point near Farlander's fleet. Farlander banked all his ships around and made for the dovin mine. To Tsavong Lah it looked as though he was fleeing the battle, but without losing velocity, Farlander's entire force slingshotted around the mine, leaving the pursuing Battle Group of Yun-Yammka behind, and made for the Battle Group of Yun-Txiin, hoping to crush it between itself and Kre'fey's force. Lah was ordering his forces to maneuver when another New Republic fleet emerged from hyperspace. The new fleet, led by Captain Han Solo in the Millennium Falcon and spearheaded by Booster Terrik on the Errant Venture, appeared on the flank of the Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah and began to attack it. Lah ordered the Battle Group to turn and wipe out the newcomers, denying them the opportunity to reinforce the besieged Battle Group of Yun-Txiin. The fanatical Warmaster had failed to conclude that Ebaq 9 was a trap. He had missed the chance to withdraw, had he been willing to do so.
The plan's successEdit
- "Now, Jacen! Our minefield is complete! Now you'll see the destruction of the enemy!"
- ―Traest Kre'fey
From secret locations among the hyperspace lanes a huge New Republic force leapt into the engagement zone. Such were the strength of numbers that Lah's blaze bugs could not represent the sheer size of the enemy force, and the number of Jedi among the new arrivals reduced the voxyn howls to whimpers. The Warmaster belatedly realized that he had been trapped. He ordered the Battle Groups of Yun-Harla and Yun-Txiin to finish the fight between Farlander and Kre'fey's squadrons and committed his personal Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan to supporting them. However he saw fit to sacrifice the reformed Battle Group of Yun-Yammka, ordering them to throw themselves at the new reinforcements. Commander Droog'an and the Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah were ordered to ignore the Smuggler's Alliance fleet and try and tie up as many of the new arrivals as possible.
Garm Bel Iblis, leading his three fleets with Luke Skywalker at the helm of the Harbinger, converged on the Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah. Skywalker had persuaded the reticent General, ostracized following the Fall of Coruscant, to rejoin the Defense Fleet proper. However, before Droog'an's fleet could be properly engaged, Lah gave his commander new orders.
The race to Ebaq 9Edit
- "I did not foresee this! What a fool I have been!"
- ―Admiral Ackbar
Warmaster Lah had planned to reinforce the rapidly failing Battle Groups of Yun-Txiin and Yun-Harla. However he now realized it would be a fruitless venture. Around him, everything was going wrong; the Battle Group of Yun-Yammka had sacrificed itself as demanded but it was a useless gesture – too far out to retreat when Lah later gave the order to retreat it was pinned and wiped out. Lah realized now that he would be executed if he returned. But his mind was still cunning; he remembered that the voxyn had howled when he first arrived, indicating that Tsavong Lah's most hated enemy—the Jedi—were on-planet. Ordering the Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah to follow him at maximum acceleration he made for Ebaq 9, where the exhausted Twin Suns Squadron was recuperating. The Smuggler's Alliance fleet came perpendicular across the approaching Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah and after a protracted engagement as the enemy sped towards the moon finally forced them to turn around. However, Lah's undamaged Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan was moving unmolested to Ebaq 9, with twenty thousand warriors in transport ships. Lah ordered frigates to dive into the moon's shields and overload them at the same time as he ordered his remaining forces to retreat. The Blood Sacrifice and one third of the Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan would cover their retreat.
- "We are having a Jeedai hunt on Ebaq Nine! Although anyone else coming near will be destroyed, all Jeedai are welcome to participate!"
- ―Tsavong Lah
As the ten thousand warriors Lah deployed on Ebaq 9 began their assault on the bunkers, the Battle Groups of Yun-Harla and Yun-Txiin emerged in the minefield. Surprised and overwhelmed, all of the already damaged ships were wiped out. Those undamaged fared better, though no ship escaped unharmed. The Battle Group of Yun-Q'aah were more prepared and were mostly able to fight their way out of the trap, largely undamaged. The same was said for the two thirds of the Battle Group of Yun-Yuuzhan; forewarned, they were able to defend themselves. Not so for the troop transports – ten thousand warriors died among the mines.
Ten thousand more would die on Ebaq 9. As the situation became rapidly untenable for Colonel Jaina Solo, her brother arrived by X-wing to reinforce her. The Fosh Jedi Vergere was worried that her pupil would die needlessly and fail to fulfill his destiny. Stealing an RZ-1 A-wing interceptor, she accelerated to thirty five thousand kilometers per hour and hit the central shaft of the moon. The resulting explosive decompression caught the Yuuzhan Vong warriors completely unprepared; ion storms, vaporizing heat, syncope and embolisms wiped out all of them. Only Tsavong Lah survived, only to be defeated in a duel with Jaina Solo, impaled fatally through the neck. Above the moon, the Blood Sacrifice exploded under concentrated fire. To the remaining Yuuzhan Vong ships, an offer to accept surrender was broadcast constantly. There was no answer. All of Lah's forces remaining in the system were destroyed.
The battle resulted in a tremendous victory by the New Republic. Almost half of Warmaster Lah's armada had been destroyed, along with its commander, and the tide of the war had finally turned in the Republic's favor. Seizing on the victory, Chief of State Cal Omas reorganized the New Republic into the Galactic Federation of Free Alliances, hoping that a new government would show the galaxy that it would not repeat the mistakes of the previous administration. The battle was a huge morale victory for the newly found government as well.
For the Yuuzhan Vong, the defeat had multiple consequences. Realizing that he had been duped, Nom Anor was forced to kill High Prefect Yoog Skell to cover his escape, as Shimrra soon called for his skin. While on the run, Anor assumed the guise of Yu'shaa, and began turning the Jeedai heresy into a true threat to the Yuuzhan Vong leadership. Having lost two of the senior members of the Elite, Shimrra escalated Nas Choka, Supreme Commander of the Yuuzhan Vong Fleet, to the position of Warmaster, while Drathul, Prefect of the Harla, was escalated to High Prefect. Choka, unlike Tsavong Lah, knew when he couldn't win a battle, and ordered his subordinates to respond in kind. Drathul was secretly a Quorealist, those who opposed Shimrra's ascension and the invasion itself. However under any other circumstances, the Galactic Alliance could have expected a brief respite, but the Yuuzhan Vong were no ordinary enemy. In an effort to secure his position, Shimrra ordered new campaigns to be launched, including an invasion of the Imperial Remnant.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Battle of Ebaq 9, as well as its development, spans much of the novel, Destiny's Way, and is mentioned throughout the rest of the New Jedi Order series. The battle also kills off two of the major characters in New Jedi Order: Tsavong Lah, the Yuuzhan Vong Warmaster, and Vergere, a former Fosh Jedi. Much to the delight of fans, it also brings back Admiral Ackbar, who had not been seen for much of the series. Due to its importance in the Yuuzhan Vong War, the battle also appeared in the sourcebooks, the The New Essential Chronology, and Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force.
In early drafts of Destiny's Way, Ackbar was slated to die during the battle.
- Destiny's Way (First appearance)
- Force Heretic I: Remnant (Mentioned only)
- The Final Prophecy (Mentioned only)
- The Unifying Force (Mentioned only)
- The Official Star Wars Fact File 140 (YUU12, Do Or Die)
- The New Essential Chronology
- Jedi vs. Sith: The Essential Guide to the Force
- The Essential Atlas
- Star Wars: The Official Starships & Vehicles Collection 32
- The Essential Guide to Warfare
- "10 Key Battles"—Star Wars Insider 133