The Chiss Ascendancy was the oligarchic government of the Chiss species that controlled a portion of the Unknown Regions. They were very secretive and had little contact with the rest of the galaxy. It was governed by members of prominent ruling families known as the Aristocra.
- "What exactly do you wish from my Empire?"
"A state of mutual gain, I offer my knowledge and skill to you now in exchange for your consideration to my people in the future."
- ―Emperor Sheev Palpatine and Mitth'raw'nuruodo
The Chiss Mitth'raw'nuruodo, also known as Thrawn, chose a planet in Wild Space to begin his fake exile and set up a hut designed to look as though he had been living in it for years. After several attempts over many standard months, he was able to finally gain the attention of the Galactic Empire. The Venator-class Star Destroyer Strikefast led by Captain Voss Parck arrived at the planet searching for smugglers and discovered and examined Thrawn's encampment, finding Sy Bisti markings on the crates in the camp, warranting for the activation of the Imperial Unknown Alien protocols. Thrawn however managed to crash a V-Wing starfighter surveying the planet and attacked several Imperial troops, tricking them, and thus allowing him to get aboard the Strikefast. When Parck sent troopers to intercept him, Thrawn allowed himself to be captured without resistance.
Thrawn was then brought before Galactic Emperor Palpatine on Coruscant in order to be questioned who once in the Imperial Palace told the Emperor of threats lurking within the Unknown Regions, and how they might one day find the Empire and offered his military skills. Palpatine then deduced that his intentions were to help protect his people. Thrawn then assured the Emperor that his allegiance would be to the Empire and revealed that he had known the Jedi General Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. It was then only that he proved who he was to the Emperor and was then able to forge an partnership between the Ascendancy and Empire, thus completing what was required by the Aristocra. Thrawn would become the Chiss ambassador to the Empire with the Emperor accepting Thrawn's offer to serve as his advisor on matters relating to the Unknown Regions and permanently assign Ensign Eli Vanto as his translator and aide. They would also both be assigned to the Royal Imperial Academy where Thrawn would soon graduate and rise up the ranks to become a Grand Admiral of the Imperial Navy and be given the command of the Imperial Navy Seventh Fleet and the Emperor reassured him that he had no ill intentions towards the Chiss Ascendancy and claimed that the Death Star would bring an end to all opposition. Despite his aid in helping the Empire to map the Unknown Region's hyperspace routes, Thrawn did however decide to withhold the location of Chiss worlds and bases.
Thrawn would later launch a campaign to wipe out a growing rebellion against the Empire, but had sent Vanto to the Ascendancy as an Imperial liaison where he met Admiral Ar'alani of the Chiss Defense Fleet and told her that Mitth'raw'nuruodo had sent him because he believed that he could be a great help to the Chiss. Ar'alani then openly welcomed Vanto to the Chiss Ascendancy.
- "I am Admiral Ar'alani of the Chiss Defense Fleet."
- ―Admiral Ar'alani
The Chiss Ascendancy was a hegemonic empire and was comprised of interconnected sovereignties governed by the noble houses that made up the "the Aristocra", a sociopolitical body consisting of the empire's ruling families. The Aristocra were collectively conglomerated to serve, represent, and unite the Chiss species as a whole, thereby bringing them under one common order. Most notably, the Aristocra effectively constituted what was essentially the governmental hierarchy and bureaucracy of the Chiss. The power held by the ruling families was that from which the legitimacy of the Aristocra's authority fundamentally derived. As a consequence, they had the power to pass legislation and bless decisions to be instituted across the Ascendancy. Philosophically speaking, the Ascendancy vindicated its positions through a kind of utilitarian lens, the Chiss themselves being an empirically-minded species. Finally, the Aristocra unilaterally oversaw and supported the upkeep of the Chiss Defense Fleet, the Ascendancy's military arm. The existence of the navy was primarily for purposes relating to exploration and peacekeeping, only used for war in the most extreme of cases. All operations of the CDF were managed by an admiralty, which also held the power to exile traitors for crimes against the Chiss.
In contrast to many other galactic empires, the Chiss Ascendancy favored a more libertarian approach in how it conducted itself in galactic affairs, embracing a philosophy of strict noninterventionism and peaceful diplomacy. Although military service was an important component of Chiss culture and heritage, the very notions of conquest and aggressive expansionism were almost universally disdained by society, and such actions would be in fundamental defiance of military protocol. Despite not believing in the preliminary initiation of force, the Chiss supported going to war in the event that the Ascendancy fell under attack by external forces.
The Chiss Ascendancy was also generally isolationist, almost never involving itself in affairs that existed beyond the bounds of its own space. Diplomatically speaking, on those rare occasions when the Ascendancy did engage in intergalactic matters, the Ascendancy displayed its pacifistic ethos by taking a benevolent approach in its dealings. Despite this, the Ascendancy always exercised extreme caution when doing so, taking measures to ensure that the location of Chiss Space would remain hidden, even to leaders of other galactic governments.
While it rarely embedded itself in galactic conflicts, the Ascendancy would sometimes send emissaries to observe large-scale wars and assess galactic geopolitics. Such would be the case during the Clone Wars, in which the Chiss officer Mitth'raw'nuruodo was sent into Republic Space to analyze the conflict, during which he had an encounter with the Jedi Order and Anakin Skywalker. Years later he would be sent to the Galactic Empire's territory in order to assess its power and determine its viability as an ally against threats that lurked in the Unknown Regions, just beyond the bounds of Chiss territory. Though not initially part of the plan, he ended up infiltrating the ranks of the Imperial Navy, eventually achieving the rank of Grand Admiral. Even so, such external dealings were only carried out if they were somehow seen as being beneficial to Chiss interests, or if specific circumstances had the potential to produce consequences that could have a negative impact on the Ascendancy in the future.
While the Ascendancy was not inherently expansionistic, it often sent ships beyond its borders for the purposes of exploration and research. This allowed for them not only to successfully map and chart numerous expanses throughout Wild Space and the Unknown Regions, but also to discover the existence of forces that could serve as grave threats to the Chiss species.
The Chiss Ascendancy cared a great deal for its sovereignty and the lengths that the government went to in order to avoid compromising even the location of its coordinates resulted in the Chiss' becoming a species shrouded in a certain curious air of mystery.
- Thrawn (First appearance)
- Thrawn, Part I (Indirect mention only)
- Thrawn, Part VI
- Thrawn: Alliances
- Thrawn: Treason