The Vagaari War was a conflict between the Golden Empire and the Vagaari Empire and the first of three conflicts that made up the Tribulation. Stretching from 141 ABY until mid-143 ABY, it saw the deaths of millions before culminating in a speciecidal campaign of annihilation against the Vagaari.
In 141 ABY, the Vagaari Empire attacked Tenupe, then led by Consul Tesshen Manytrek. Defenses on the former Chiss world were unable to hold the enemy at bay, and the Vagaari invaded. As Tenupe fell, Manytrek oversaw the evacuation of civilian refugees, and remained behind to hold off the Vagaari while his aide Kyzk led the last group of ministers and government officials in an escape. Kyzk managed to flee to hyperspace in her ship, but Manytrek was killed by the Vagaari.
Queen Rin Sakaros was incensed at the attack on her people and authorized a retaliatory campaign, and the Vagaari War began. Tariun Sakaros and Sorrik initially led two fronts into Vagaari territory, using knowledge from the Expeditionary Library to help plan their attacks. Several early battles were inconclusive.
The Vagaari press
Only months into the war, the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium attacked the south of the Empire, and Sorrik and over half the Armada were diverted south to repel the new threat. Rather than try to hunt down the Vagaari with a single, enormous Prime Fleet, Tariun appointed Captains Tarse Medrego and Salome Hrek as Legates, dividing his fleet into three and giving each of them a command.
The three fleets pushed into Vagaari territory, and, as Tariun predicted, their numbers forced the Vagaari to divide and face each threat. However, the Vagaari still outnumbered them, and the Empire's campaign quickly ceased to be a realistic invasion and became rear-guard harassment. Salome Hrek meticulously disrupted Vagaari shipping and freed several slave convoys, while Medrego won a string of small victories against Vagaari outposts and Tariun managed to hold Schesa in a three-way battle there with the Vagaari and the remnants of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force. However, the Empire's fleets regularly had to retreat and regroup, and the Chiss Rebellion both pulled ships away from the front and disrupted supply lines on the Empire's side. More than once, the Empire had to risk invading a Vagaari world simply for resources.
Knowing he would never defeat the Vagaari in straight battle until he had the rest of his fleet back, Tariun used the Centurions of the Order of Keltrayu to even the odds. Rajj-Yo led Royal Marines in several ship-to-ship boardings, invading Vagaari ships and massacring their crews. Tamlok was installed in Redblade Squadron, using his Force-enhanced reflexes to rack up a string of kills; when Redblade's commander Eis-Phob-Noor was killed in battle, Tamlok himself was given command of the squadron. Te`net Organi led planetary raids to destroy Vagaari slave compounds and recruit the slaves themselves as fresh troops.
Perhaps most vital to the Empire's war effort was relatively new Centurion Aria Nikina. She was deployed behind enemy lines to forcibly held Vagaari systems, often with only a personal translator droid, a group of Royal Intelligence commandos, and a cache of weapons. Her natural charisma and experience leading underdog forces led her to rally disaffected and abused populations into revolts against the Vagaari or their sympathetic governors. Within a year, Aria had set off half a dozen major guerilla wars in Vagaari territory.
If any Centurion could compete with Nikina for importance, it was Jira Seezhli. In the midst of a particularly harrowing battle, Jira fell into meditation, trying to send reassuring thoughts to her allies. The Empire's forces improved noticeably in efficiency, and after the battle concluded Tariun deduced that Jira, like Rin, was capable of Battle Meditation. He ordered the young Kasci to spend all her spare time training, and used her gift to give his fleet an edge over the Vagaari. Jira was much more successful at improving the morale and coordination of her side than disrupting those of the enemy, but more than once her gift made the difference between victory and defeat for the Prime Fleet.
Their front-line position put many Centurions in danger. Tamlok was shot down, but survived with only a broken horn; Evelyan Sovex was shot down also, but did not survive. Rajj-Yo boarded an enemy command ship, which jumped to hyperspace later in the same battle, leading the the Empire to declare him Missing in Action and presumed dead.
By the skin of their teeth
By late 142 ABY, even the tactical ability of Tariun and his two Legates was proving insufficient to the task at hand. They had lost every Vagaari system they had previously taken, as well as several outlying systems formerly part of the Chiss Ascendancy. Though Aria's machinations had created numerous internal disturbances that kept the Vagaari from devoting their full might to battle, Tariun, Medrego, and Hrek began to seriously discuss which Chiss colony worlds they could effectively cede to the Vagaari to mount a better defense.
It was in these desperate straits that Rin forged an alliance with the P'w'ecks which drove the Ssi-ruuk out of the Empire. Sorrik immediately returned with most of his fleet, leaving only some to help rebuild the Romasi sector and secure the border. Sorrik's reinforcements quickly brought the rebelling Chiss to heel, capturing the rebel leaders and retaking Csilla and the other rebel-held worlds. With hundreds of relatively fresh ships at his disposal, Tariun could again press the war.
Rather than return to his original strategy of leading a two-pronged war with Sorrik, Tariun divided Sorrik's command into thirds, keeping some ships for himself and giving the others to Medrego and Hrek. Tariun "loaned" Jira to Medrego, keeping Rin aboard the Sith Star so as to disperse the Battle Meditation asset more widely. With Aria in the field stirring up dissent on yet another Vagaari world, the Empire pressed its offensive.
Newly invigorated by their reinforcements and their Queen's presence, the Empire's spacemen, soldiers, and pilots fought on against the Vagaari, who finally fell back in earnest. Slave liberation raids and Aria's guerilla campaigns had turned up more than new allies and recruits; they had also yielded valuable intelligence. Slowly, the Empire managed to piece together a map of the Vagaari Empire and identified key systems.
Tariun and the Prime Fleet led the attack on the Vagaari capital of Vagar Praxut, and Rin ordered it leveled from orbit rather than risk casualties by invading. As the planet was in flames, Rin ordered speciecide against the Vagaari, the fourth time she had ordered the extermination of an entire sentient species. The Armada took up the challenge, and freed slaves from other planets were eager to provide details on Vagaari strongholds and fortress worlds—rather than being appalled by Rin's campaign of genocide, many former slaves only lamented that most of the destruction was to be carried out in orbit rather than face-to-face by invasion.
Many invasions did take place, mostly on worlds held by the Vagaari but largely populated by enslaved races. Hundreds of Centurions took the field in support of hundreds of thousands of Royal Army soldiers and millions of uprising civilians. The closest call the Empire experienced was toward the end of the war, when Rin foresaw the desperate Vagaari fleeing into the known galaxy to escape her. She could not afford for the Galactic Federation Triumvirate to learn of her Empire's existence, and Hrek and Medrego massed their forces to intercept and destroy the retreating Vagaari fleet.
With its internal organization in tatters and its largest fleet annihilated, the Vagaari Empire imploded into chaos. The Armada subdivided into a dozen smaller fleets which mowed through the remains of the Empire, invading some worlds and simply blasting others to ruin. Unexpectedly, Rajj-Yo returned to active duty, having stowed away aboard the Vagaari cruiser and progressively killed and eaten nearly its entire crew. The Vagaari Miskara Cravsh was killed by his own people attempting to surrender him before Rin caught up with him, but Rin took his mask and displayed it in her temple on Kavez Massass as a trophy.
By late 143 ABY, the Vagaari Empire had been vanquished and ninety-nine percent of the species killed. The last few pockets of survivors would be wiped out by their former slaves over the following years, but the Vagaari War was declared over in 143.