- "For all the evil the enemy do, they aren't dark, exactly."
- ―Jacen Solo
The Yuuzhan Vong ("Children of Yun-Yuuzhan", also called the Chosen Race, known to the Chiss and Ferroans as the Far Outsiders, and sometimes incorrectly abbreviated to Vong, which implied that one was disowned by one's family and one's gods) were a sentient species which nearly destroyed the New Republic, and were responsible for the deaths of nearly 365 trillion sentients during their invasion of the Galaxy.
A typical Yuuzhan Vong resembled a Human in form, though they were taller and heavier than the average Human and had less hair on their heads. For several millennia the Yuuzhan Vong were religious zealots, who viewed mechanical technology as blasphemy. Their technological innovations were genetically engineered and purely organic. Additionally, the Yuuzhan Vong deeply respected pain to the point of masochism, and strove to improve their physical capabilities through organ grafting. Such grafting was a status symbol within Yuuzhan Vong society.
Biology and appearanceEdit
The Yuuzhan Vong were a humanoid species, initially leading some to believe that they were a Human offshoot race, but there were differences between Humans and Yuuzhan Vong. For example, Yuuzhan Vong typically lacked kidneys. The Yuuzhan Vong were usually much taller and had heavier builds than the average Human, though this could be a result of selective breeding. Yuuzhan Vong also had a longer life span than the average Human, generally around three times that of a Human's. Genetically, they shared many elements that made them similar to Humans, which was considered unusual, but one notable difference was one element of their genetic structure that was present in all their biotechnology.
- "These creatures know nothing of compassion. All they know is aggression, anger, death and destruction. They will not stop until we are all dead, that I am convinced."
- ―Kyp Durron
Yuuzhan Vong culture was centered on sacrifice and their gods, although warriors in particular were centered on the philosophy of pain. They tended to glorify pain, not as a motive for action but rather as a state of living. This was because they believed that, just like their gods had sacrificed their bodies to create the universe, the Yuuzhan Vong themselves were to sacrifice parts of their body for a greater purpose. As such, they believed that by remaking their own bodies, they were becoming closer to their deities. While this was the case, they never maimed their bodies in a manner that would permanently hinder their ability to function. This resulted in individual Yuuzhan Vong having mottling or scarring, and sweeping tattoos. The more elite individuals were even known to graft organs from other creatures into their bodies. Devotional practices to the gods called for bloodletting at prayer times. Shamed Ones were forbidden from attending religious ceremonies.
As a Yuuzhan Vong grew more successful in their life, they began the process of sacrificing body parts and replacing them with organs from another creature, thus enhancing their abilities. This was done so during the Escalatier Ceremony, where an engineered organism related to an Implanter began to make cuts, incisions and place the implants. At times, the implant was accepted into the body and the Yuuzhan Vong was promoted to a higher rank. However, there were occasions where the implant failed to be accepted into the body. This resulted either in death or the individual becoming a derided Shamed One. Such failures were believed to have been the work of the Yuuzhan Vong gods, though there were times that such a happenstance was due to the failure of the Shaper in charge of the Escalation ceremony.
Family was noted as being a strong element within their society. A member of the Yuuzhan Vong was typically associated with a family group, known typically as a Domain. Some Domains were more powerful than others. In addition to this family structure, the Yuuzhan Vong also employed a caste based system which included respective castes for warriors, shapers, priests, intendants and workers. Love affairs between two different castes was considered forbidden. In fact, domain loyalties ran deep, and went far beyond simple likes or dislikes.There were a series of ritual statements that a Yuuzhan Vong was required to utter as part of protocol from a member of lower ranks to a member of a higher rank. While this was the case, members of one caste were not obligated to salute a superior from another caste, which was the case with intendants to higher ranking members of the warrior caste.
Yuuzhan Vong children were raised in caste-specific crèches by designated caretakers, and likely did not know their biological parents until they were older. Their crèche parents named them. Deformed children were killed at birth, but if the deformity was mild enough, as was the case with one Ona Shai, the child was spared. A survival trait for these children was paranoia and its usefulness in order to live through such a harsh and competitive environment. Twin births were uncommon events; only a handful of cases were known to the New Republic, in which each was thought to be a portent of a great event. Funeral processions were typically carried out in a way that did not preserve the dead and Yuuzhan Vong mortuaries often consisted of Yuuzhan Vong mourners who met with assigned priests. During such conditions, priests were involved in removing various body parts of the dead in order to dedicate them to the various gods.
According to the insights of an Imperial officer, the Empire and the Yuuzhan Vong had some elements that were common to one another. These included the need for strict discipline and the obedience to one's superiors. However, at the time of the invasion, it was believed that their ultimate goals were completely different, with the Yuuzhan Vong desiring to change the way of life of the inhabitants of the galaxy. One of their goals was the destruction and removal of all forms of manufactured technology, which was one of the key strengths of the Galactic Empire. This great belief in discipline and obedience in one's superiors meant that subordinates never contradicted their leaders; they were capable of subverting or altering the will of their commanders, but did not point out errors in that will. They were ultimately highly skilled warriors who never retreated in the face of defeat, as they feared this would insult their gods. While this was largely the case, it was known that certain Yuuzhan Vong were capable of cowardly actions. For actions like this they became Shamed Ones.
Yuuzhan Vong beliefs highly influenced their actions and personality. According to their religion, life was suffering, and death was the ultimate release from that suffering. Thus, the Yuuzhan Vong were resigned, and willingly went to their deaths. In addition, the priests claimed that they did not ask of others what they themselves did not accomplish, meaning that they equally sacrificed their own numbers as well as "infidels". This was an act of service to their deities, who were believed to have sacrificed their body parts in order to create all of existence. According to their beliefs, the gods of the Yuuzhan Vong declared that life was suffering and that pain was their truth. As such, the Yuuzhan Vong felt that nothing could be learnt unless it was purchased in pain. Some amongst their race, such as Domain Shai, went as far as to inflict pain on themselves to the point that they enjoyed it. Such groups felt that the infliction of pain was a means of earning the favor of their deities. Furthermore, it was believed that the greatest glory was death in battle. This fixation on death varied depending on the circumstances, as dying in the cold void of space was considered a disgraceful death. Consequently, this meant that most Yuuzhan Vong fought to the death.
The species also greatly believed in honor, with that subject ranking quite high in the beliefs of certain members of the race. Even under interrogations, the word of a Yuuzhan Vong was high, and if they promised respite to their victims for revealing information, they typically kept their word. In another case, a Yuuzhan Vong commander agreed to a personal duel over the fate of a planet and, if defeated, he agreed that his forces would spare that world. While the Yuuzhan Vong himself was sincere, his subordinates worked with the Warmaster to subvert that honorable combat. Furthermore, the denial of the right to honorable combat was seen as a disrespectful act, worthy of scorn from the warrior caste. In fact, warriors would even award a single worthy opponent of fighting a single Yuuzhan Vong warrior at a time in respect to their bravery as well as their fighting skills. There also existed a similar concept to the Wookiee Life debt, which was known as Us-hrok. This was a display that showed eternal gratitude and loyalty to another for something they had done, and meant that the Yuuzhan Vong in question would fight to the death on that person's behalf. In regards to food, the Yuuzhan Vong held no great joy of eating and thus felt indifferent about gastronomic tastes. The only exception of this was if the enjoyment came from an event such as the slaying of a great beast during a ritual.
The psychology of the Yuuzhan Vong during wartime engagements was based around attack, and involved the use of high levels of aggression. This made them dangerous, though at times their actions were somewhat predictable. The Yuuzhan Vong were often encouraged by an enemy's resistance to them and tended to see such foes as being worthy of fighting. Internally, the Yuuzhan Vong greatly believed in the concept of competition as a means of breeding strength. However, this had the side effect of bringing about internal feuds between Domains and castes, who would attempt to escalate their positions above their kin. This resulted in civil war in the past, and it was believed that the Invasion would allow the Yuuzhan Vong an external enemy to fight, but after some time the same divisions began to appear once more. They also believed deeply in the concept of revenge, and had no reservations to the use of aggressive emotions, unlike the Jedi. This often meant that the Yuuzhan Vong engaged in suicide attacks or ritual suicides when facing defeat in order to attain glory, which was a source of pride of the warrior caste. This aggressive and warlike nature meant that they did not have any concept of peace or remorse. In their language, peace meant the willing submission to a conqueror. Furthermore, within their society, the use of profanities meant that the individual in question was capable of calling out a blood challenge to his opponent; the two would fight in a battle to the death. In addition, the use of particular insulting words, such as calling the other a "fool", meant that the wounded party was perfectly within their rights and even expected by their comrades to kill their opponent. This meant that an attack on a Yuuzhan Vong's pride was the grounds for demanding satisfaction, which was also capable of being accepted as a sacrifice to their gods.
The Yuuzhan Vong had a fanatical hatred of machines, believing them to be abominations and an affront to their gods. According to their beliefs at the time of the Invasion, they believed that combustion, the creation of fire through a machine, was the first abomination. This was because the Yuuzhan Vong believed deeply in life, but also felt that all life ended as in the wild; one type of lifeform was eaten by another, who in turn was devoured by another predator until it died, which replenished the ecosystem. This meant that death was prevalent constantly, but allowed new life to grow while machines did not die, meaning that they were capable of replacing organic life, which was something the Yuuzhan Vong would never allow.
The species possessed a saying: "Let the enemy fight", which was one of the aspects of their racial psychology. They often expected combat and arranged ambushes for their enemies, after which they baited targets into their traps. Their interdiction forces often remained outside their designated routes in order to jump onto a target, thus trapping them as a type of ambush. Another saying included "A fleet that fights two battles loses twice." Ultimately, the Yuuzhan Vong's earlier relations with other races was based on domination of the lesser species, as they felt most other races were unworthy. Those that managed to impress the Yuuzhan Vong and were considered worthy were often provided a clean death while the others were relegated to slavery.
Despite elements of their society which were seen as being barbaric, the Yuuzhan Vong truly revered life and all its forms. Among the few infidel races of the 'Promised Land', they tended to favor the Ho'Din, whose natural senses meant that they did not like the presence of advanced technology. Some primitive races who did not make use of technology were also known to have willingly allied with the Yuuzhan Vong, such as some of the inhabitants of Wayland. These "Wish-To-Bes" believed that the Yuuzhan Vong were like them in that they respected life, while the majority believed that this was not true, as the "Cut-Up-People" simply wished to harm as well as twist things to suit their needs. According to their religion, they had to prove themselves worthy creations of their deities, and if they did not do so then they would be destroyed, after which they would be replaced by a more worthy species. Their beliefs stated that this had happened three times in their religion, with a new species created, eventually leading to the gods creating the Yuuzhan Vong.
In the post-War period, the Yuuzhan Vong became a deeply spiritual as well as introspective people. Many felt that they would never be able to mend relations with the inhabitants of the galaxy due to the Yuuzhan Vong War, though a few heroic members of this race believed that they needed to evolve in order to survive. Thus, they felt that the journey to better relations was one that was worth the effort. They still retained their different form of honor in this age, with both custom and ritual still being an important aspect of their culture.