- "I fully believe that this attack is the last demonstration we'll need to launch against the Paataatus. Their diplomats seem fully committed to withdrawing to their borders and leaving the Ascendancy strictly alone."
- ―Admiral Ar'alani to a tribunal of Syndics
The attack on the Paataatus was a retaliatory strike conducted by the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet on Nettehi, the homeworld of the Paataatus species, shortly after an attack on the Chiss homeworld of Csilla around 19 BBY. At the time, the Syndicure of the Chiss Ascendancy did not have definitive proof that the Paataatus government was behind the attack on Csilla, but justified the attack as a means to punish the Paataatus for proven encroachments into Ascendancy territory.
The Paataatus military was far more prepared to defend their homeworld than most officers of the Chiss Picket Force Six anticipated. Only Senior Captain Mitth'raw'nuruodo "Thrawn" expected their level of readiness. Thrawn disobeyed the orders of Admiral Ar'alani to break off, feign weakness, and draw most Paataatus forces away from the bulk of the Chiss force. In doing so, Thrawn bought the other Chiss warships time to regroup and eliminate most of the Paataatus fighters, securing a Chiss victory.
The Paataatus were an Unknown Regions species whose territory was near the Chiss Ascendancy, against whom they sometimes clashed. The Grysk Hegemony, an expansionist empire, directed their client empire the Nikardun Destiny to encircle the Ascendancy. At the Grysks' behest, the Destiny, led by General Yiv, conquered the Paataatus Hiveborn, which the Paataatus resented.
Around 19 BBY, the Nikardun massacred a group of Paccosh refugees in the Ascendancy's peripheral Dioya system, and ordered the Paataatus to attack the Ascendancy's capital planet of Csilla to distract the Chiss from the massacre. The attack infuriated the Ascendancy's ruling Syndicure, as Csilla had not been attacked for decades. The ruling Syndics demanded the Chiss Defense Force promptly ascertain their attackers' identities and retaliate. One Syndic suggested the Paataatus were the attackers, and as such the Expansionary Defense Fleet should strike back.
Supreme General Ba'kif considered the question of why Csilla had been attacked more interesting than who had attacked it, but kept such thoughts to himself and Senior Captain Mitth'raw'nuruodo, known as "Thrawn." Neither Ba'kif nor Thrawn were convinced of the Paataatus' responsibility for the attack on Csilla. Nonetheless, the Paataatus had recently conducted raids in Chiss territory. Ba'kif agreed the Paataatus must be punished lest others in the Unknown Regions come to believe they could attack the Ascendancy with impunity.
- "So we play the wounded animal and draw the enemy to us, giving the rest of the force time to regroup and counterattack."
"Yes. The Paataatus have a swarm mentality. That thought pattern predisposes them to concentrate their attention on wounded opponents."
- ―Mid Captain Samakro and Senior Captain Thrawn
Admiral Ar'alani led an attack on the Paataatus' homeworld Nettehi. Ar'alani's Picket Force Six performed the attack, led by her Nightdragon man-of-war Vigilant and joined by Thrawn's cruiser Springhawk and five other Chiss heavy cruisers.
To the confusion of the Picket Force's officers, the Paataatus military was highly prepared for a Chiss attack, mounting a strong defense including at least fifty Paataatus fighters. The Paataatus had a swarm mentality, and their starfighters used tactics of spreading out over a wide area and picking off the weakest enemies first. Senior Captain Thrawn understood Paataatus tactics and knew the Chiss were less effective at targeting spread-out enemies than those in a tight cluster. Admiral Ar'alani ordered the Picket Force to remain in formation, but Thrawn disobeyed her order; breaking off, feigning severe damage to the Springhawk, and drawing the Paataatus fighters into a tight cluster targeting his ship. Thrawn's feint gave the rest of the Picket Force time to regroup and counterattack, tipping the battle's scales and leading to a Chiss victory. Picket Force Six destroyed most defending Paataatus fighters.
It was later discovered that the Paataatus had known the Ascendancy's optimal attack vector. After a prior conflict, a Chiss diplomat had pointed towards Chiss space and warned Paataatus officials about the next time they see Chiss forces coming "from those stars." Among all the commanding officers of the Chiss warships, only Thrawn was aware of that critical tactical information.
Tribunal on Csilla
- "We blasted the Paataatus into small bits of metal and got as groveling a peace settlement from them as I've ever seen. And the Aristocra still aren't happy?"
"No. But we're not the ones they're unhappy at. We just happen to be the most convenient targets right now for their annoyance."
- ―Senior Captain Wutroow and Admiral Ar'alani as they approach an Aristocra tribunal following the attack
Six days after the attack, the Aristocra called a tribunal over Thrawn's disobedience of Admiral Ar'alani's order. Ar'alani believed the Aristocra would have pressed charges against Thrawn for insubordination if his actions had not led to victory. Even so, and despite the Defense Hierarchy Council vindicating him, Thrawn's political enemies among the Aristocra saw the incident as a chance to attack him.
Thrawn was absent from the tribunal as Ba'kif sent him on a secret mission. Ar'alani and her second-in-command, Senior Captain Kiwu'tro'owmis "Wutroow," were questioned by a group of Syndics on Csilla as to why Thrawn was apparently allowed to disobey an order. Wutroow testified that Thrawn's actions were necessary and proper; as a foolish Chiss emissary had once pointed in the direction of Csilla from Nettehi, thus warning the Paataatus of the Chiss' optimal attack vector. Wutroow informed the tribunal that only Thrawn had realized the Paataatus anticipated the Chiss angle-of-attack, and saved the day by adapting.
Thrawn versus the Nikardun
- «The Paataatus were quite unhappy at [Yiv's] attempt to conquer them. That anger was matched with an equal degree of gratitude for my assistance in breaking the last Nikardun stranglehold on them.»
- ―Senior Captain Thrawn described the Paataatus' gratitude for his assistance liberating Nettehi to Generalirius Nakirre of the Kilji Illumine and Jixtus of the Grysk Hegemony.[src]
Bewteen the Urch incident and the Primea diplomatic reception, Thrawn showed Thalias a map of the Unknown Regions. Thrawn highlighted nations on the Ascendancy's borders whose behavior toward the Chiss had markedly changed recently. Thrawn surmised that the Nikardun Destiny sought to encircle the Ascendancy, conquering neighboring civilizations so the Chiss could not engage in hostilities. Indeed, the Grysks had directed Yiv to encircle the Ascendancy to facilitate an invasion.
Thalias suggested the Defense Force could deal with Yiv as they had the Paataatus. Thrawn replied that Paataatus culture indicated the Paataatus would not attack any Chiss for a generation. However, reports from Naporar—the planet where most Expansionary Defense Fleet operations were based—indicated the Paataatus were already rearming for more attacks. Consequently, Thrawn concluded that Yiv had conquered the Paataatus.
The next year, Thrawn's forces returned to the space above Nettehi as liberators. The Chiss and Paataatus were thus no longer adversaries, but allies. According to Syndic Prime Mitth'urf'ianico, the Ascendancy's diplomatic corps did not know whether to be furious or "salivate" over the breakthrough in Chiss-Paataatus relations. Grateful for Chiss assistance liberating Nettehi, the Hiveborn's military eliminated the Kilji military after it conquered space between Ascendancy and Paataatus territory.
Behind the scenes
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising (First appearance, simultaneous with Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising audiobook)
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising audiobook
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good (Mentioned only)
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good audiobook (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising
- The events of Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising take place around 19 BBY per the reasoning here.
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good establishes that the attack on the Paataatus, depicted in Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising, took place "last year," thus placing the events of Greater Good the year after Chaos Rising.