- "But one fact has always remained constant: The Chiss must be approached from a position of strength and respect. One must have strength, for the Chiss will deal only with those capable of keeping their promises. One must have respect, for the Chiss must believe that those promises will be kept."
- ―Passage from Mitth'raw'nuruodo's journal
The Chiss Ascendancy was an oligarchic autocracy and empire of the near-human Chiss located inside the Unknown Regions of the galaxy. The Ascendancy was highly secretive and strictly isolationist to outsiders, preferring a libertarian approach to the wider galaxy and even had a strict policy prohibiting first strikes. The Ascendancy was regarded as mostly a legend even within the Unknown Regions.
The history of the Ascendancy was long and ancient, dating at least as far back as the Sith Wars between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. However, due to its isolationism, it almost never involved itself in affairs that existed beyond the bounds of its own space. The Ascendancy's isolationism was so strong, it kept its presence hidden from other powers in the galaxy. The Chiss Ascendency was not inherently expansionistic, instead pursuing exploration and research. Indeed, the Ascendancy had strict guidelines prohibiting preemptive strikes; setting rules of engagement that required confirmation of impending attack before the Ascendancy's Fleet could fire on any target.
The government and politics of the Chiss Ascendancy were dominated by the constructs of Chiss families. Each Chiss family had a hierarchy, and there was another level of hierarchy amongst families. The Nine Ruling Families of the Syndicure held the highest level of executive, legislative, and economic power; followed by the Forty Great Houses, and other families having the least influence. Family politics—both within and between families—drove much of the politics of the Ascendancy, and even bled into the operations of the Chiss Defense Force even though it wasn't supposed to.
The Chiss Ascendancy eventually discovered a mysterious threat in the Unknown Regions, when it deduced that the nascent Galactic Empire would be both a suitable ally and easy prey for the threat to attack instead of the Ascendancy.
- 1 History
- 2 Organization
- 3 Society and culture
- 4 Astrography
- 5 Appearances
- 6 Sources
- 7 Notes and references
- "The history of the Ascendancy is in these rooms, some of the pieces dating back to Chiss participation in the wars between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire."
- ―Thrawn, to Ziara
The Chiss remembered teachings of ancient philosophers, many of whom felt that all war was madness. Over a thousand years before the Nikardun conquests, a majority of the population of the Chiss capital of Csilla were forced offworld by changes in the planet's climate. Most of the exodus moved to planets such as Avidich, Rentor and Sarvchi. This exodus to other worlds was kept a secret from most in the Ascendancy. Instead, historical accounts of the event taught that Csilla's population had moved underground, leaving out the fact that the number of Chiss below the surface was far below the population of four billion before Csilla's climate change. Nevertheless, the headquarters of both the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet and Syndicure, along with many merchant and cargo installations, were kept on Csilla. Additionally, most of the Chiss Ruling Families did not want to abandon their capital world entirely, though some did move their homesteads to other planets. By the time Mitth'raw'nuruodo had command of the Boco, the population on Csilla numbered around sixty to seventy million, with some living aboveground to maintain the illusion of a thriving capital.
In another point of Chiss history, which was not remembered fondly by subsequent generations, the Chiss Ascendancy participated in the Sith Wars, a series of conflicts between the Galactic Republic and the Sith Empire. The Ascendancy encountered a number of aliens before retreating to their borders.
Formation of the Expansionary Defense Fleet
- "I believe I’ll be able to make it clear which ships are enemies and which are friends."
"I'll settle for which are enemies and which are neutrals. The Ascendancy has barely even acknowledged the existence of others out there, let alone shown any interest in pursuing friendships with any of them."
- ―Junior Commander Thrawn and General Ba'kif before launching the Lioaoin pirate campaign
Years prior to the Nikardun conquests, the Chiss Defense Force had only been tasked with the internal defense of Ascendancy space. The Defense Force had long pled with the Syndicure for a larger mandate and stronger capabilities. Eventually, the Aristocra agreed, establishing the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet with the mission to "watch over Chiss interests in the parts of the Chaos extending beyond the Ascendancy’s borders, to learn who was out there and assess their level of threat." Many new ships, bases, and support facilities were constructed for the Expansionary Fleet, which needed many competent officers and warriors. It was at that time that a young Chiss named Kivu'raw'nuru was recruited from the planet of Rentor to join the Mitth family.
In the early days of the Expansionary Defense Fleet, the Ascendancy was uninterested in forming friendly diplomatic ties with other nations of the Chaos. During that time, Junior Commander Mitth'raw'nuru sought to launch the Lioaoin pirate campaign, promising General Ba'kif to distinguish between "hostiles and friendlies." Ba'kif responded that the Ascendancy had barely acknowledged the presence of other peoples and was not interested in friendships with them, instead charging Thrawn with distinguishing between "hostiles and neutrals."
Some time after the Lioaoin pirate campaign and prior to the Nikardun conquests, the Chiss Ascendancy launch a series of operations against Vagaari pirates. The Chiss were able to defeat the Vagaari. But, while the operations were a success in a military sense, they were a political disaster for the Ascendancy, with Syndic Mitth'ras'safis left dead, causing uproar in the higher echelons of Chiss society. Supreme Admiral Ja'fosk of the Ascendancy was displeased with the operation, as were the Aristocra.
- «Your people will die for this. Not just you. Not just your pitiable fleet. All the Chiss. The Ascendancy will die, shredded like grain, ground down like stone, burned like withered grass. Every last cub will die… and you will die here and now, with the certain knowledge that you and you alone were the root and cause of their destruction.»
«All because I cost you your foothold on Primea? Come now, General. You merely need to step away and start over. But I suggest you choose a different part of the Chaos for your next attempt. This region will no longer accept your smiles and promises.»
- ―General Yiv and Senior Captain Thrawn[src]
During the Nikardun conquests, the Chiss Ascendancy's capital of Csilla suffered an attack from the Paataatus, who deployed three warships. Following the attack, Admiral Ar'alani launched an attack on the Paataatus homeworld of Nettehi. However, this was all orchestrated by General Yiv "the Benevolent" of the Nikardun Destiny in an attempt to conquer various governments of the Unknown Regions. Yiv was successful in subjugating or forming alliances with several factions, including the Lioaoin Regime and Urchiv-ki. However, the involvement of the Chiss Ascendancy driven by Senior Captain Mitth'raw'nuruodo, also known by his core name of "Thrawn," hindered Yiv's resolve.
Searching for allies against the Nikardun, Thrawn and his pilot Che'ri, met Jedi General Anakin Skywalker above Batuu in the Outer Rim Territories, where Thrawn sought Skywalker's assistance in learning of the Clone Wars. Thrawn helped the Jedi Order and Republic Senator Padmé Amidala fight the Confederacy of Independent Systems and assault a Separatist droid factory. Thrawn was able to retrieve the deflector shield generator that protected that factory, and was a much more advanced design than those seen by the Chiss in the Unknown Regions. However, Thrawn was unimpressed with the state of the Republic and believed it to be unfit for an alliance with the Chiss.
After Thrawn and Che'ri returned to Chiss space with their "Republic energy shield" taken from a Separatist base, the Chiss were able to outmaneuver the Nikardun forces in a battle near the Vak homeworld of Primea. The Vak Combine allowed the Chiss to fire on the Nikardun to break the blockade over Primea, allowing Thrawn to board the bridge of Yiv's flagship and take Yiv into custody. Following his disappearance, the Nikardun Destiny was left without a suitably competent successor, and their plans of conquest fell apart.
The Chiss Ascendancy's Chiss Defense Force undertook a series of campaigns to seek out and destroy the scattered remnants of Nikardun forces following Yiv's defeat. Although the Ascendancy typically did not permit military action without having been attacked first, the threat that the Nikardun had posed led the Syndicure to allow the rules to be bent.
A civil war that wasn't
- "Twenty years ago, even ten, I would have said the destruction of the Chiss Ascendancy would be a straightforward exercise. No longer. A new generation of military leaders has arisen, warriors who cannot be trusted to walk recklessly down the well-worn paths of manipulation set before them. Supreme General Ba'kif, Admiral Ar'alani, a few others—they think and plan outside the normal patterns. Unpredictable. It may make your task more challenging."
- ―Grysk Hegemony agent Jixtus to Haplif of the Agbui
A new mysterious enemy had begun to strike around the Chaos following the Nikardun conquests. This strange but unknown faction did not send threats or ultimatums, or amass ships on the edge of the Chaos, but instead attacked the very foundation of the Ascendancy itself—the relations among Chiss families.
The Grysk operative Jixtus, with his agent Haplif of the Agbui, sought to learn about, widen, and exploit the rifts between the Chiss' Nine Ruling Families and Forty Great Houses. In doing so, they planned to coax the Chiss Ascendancy into civil war, rendering it easy for the Grysk Hegemony to conquer. After learning of an ambitious mid-ranking Xodlak family Councilor on the planet Celwis by the name of Lakuviv, Haplif settled on Celwis for a time. On Celwis, Haplif manipulated Lakuviv into declaring a family emergency and trying to forcibly seize a purported Agbui mining world rich in the valuable metal nyix. Senior Captain Xodlak'in'daro of the Chiss heavy cruiser Grayshrike was placed in command of the newly formed Task Force Xodlak. Similar plots occurred in parallel on the Chiss planets of Copero, affiliated with the Erighal family and their fleet; and Sarvchi, associated with the Pommrio family and their fleet.
Each of the three Great Families being manipulated by Jixtus' agents—the Xodlak, Erighal, and Pommrio—were allied with rival members of the Nine Ruling Families. Open warfare between the Xodlak, Erighal, and Pommrio would spill over into the Ruling Families and eventually the entire Chiss Ascendancy. With each of those three Great Families intent on claiming Hoxim's supposed nyix mine and willing to fight to the death over it, Jixtus's plans nearly came to fruition.
- "Three of the Forty Great Families are preparing to fight to the death to own a worthless piece of rock."
- ―Senior Captain Lakinda
The three Great Families' forces met in the space above the Agbui mining world of Hoxim, unaware that the planet below was actually a "worthless rock". They nearly engaged each other in hostilities, until they noticed the Springhawk, flagship of Senior Captain Mitth'raw'nuruodo, derelict and apparently under attack. The three families' forces cooperated to "rescue" the Springhawk, combatting and defeating the forces that had "attacked" Thrawn. In the ensuing battle, the purported nyix mine on the planet's surface was destroyed, ensuring that the families could not fight over the nyix that was allegedly there.
In that manner, Senior Captains Thrawn and Lakinda prevented Jixtus's plot from causing a full civil war among the Chiss. Each of the Xodlak, Erighal, and Pommrio were commended and granted honor for rescuing a downed Expansionary Defense Fleet warship. Nonetheless, the Patriarch of the Xodlak family was furious at Lakinda for failing to secure the supposed nyix deposit; leaving Lakinda, a merit adoptive, in a tenuous spot in her family. Shortly thereafter, Syndic Zistalmu of the Ruling Irizi family offered her a spot as a Trial-born of the Irizi, without even having to conduct the Trials.
Allies in Lesser Space
Evaluating the Empire
The Chiss Ascendancy assigned Thrawn to explore the Outer Rim Territories of the galaxy, known to the Chiss as "Lesser Space", to evaluate whether the nascent Galactic Empire would be a suitable ally against the emerging threat of the Grysk Hegemony. By the time Thrawn left, there were renewed stirrings of political conflict in the Ascendancy, but he assumed the Aristocra would settle their issues, as they had numerous times before. Seeking counsel upon his return, the Ascendancy ruled that the time had come to judge whether or not the Galactic Empire would be a suitable ally, and that it was time to infiltrate the Empire in order to either make them an ally or to weaken them as easy prey for the threat to attack instead of the Chiss. With the blessing of the Aristocra, Thrawn chose a planet in Wild Space to begin his fake exile and gain the attention of the Galactic Empire. On his "exile" planet, Thrawn was taken by Imperial Captain Voss Parck without resistance. Thrawn was then brought before Galactic Emperor Sheev Palpatine on the galactic capital of Coruscant in order to be questioned on the threats lurking within the Unknown Regions. Thrawn became his advisor on matters relating to these areas and permanently assign Ensign Eli Vanto as his translator and aide, by this he sent Vanto to the Ascendancy as an Imperial liaison, where he believed that he could be a great help to the Chiss and rendezvoused with Chiss Admiral Ar'alani was.
The Galactic Empire had become an ally to the Chiss Ascendancy, but this alliance was largely uneasy and distrustful, as both sides had their own agendas. However, this became less relevant when the Grysk Hegemony was discovered to be encroaching deep within Imperial territory. The Empire found the Grysk stealing the moons surrounding the planet of Mokivj. Thrawn, who had been promoted to the rank of Grand Admiral after the victory at Batonn, and the Empire battled Grysk forces on Mokivj and in space, rescuing Force-sensitive Chiss girls known as ozyly-esehembo from the Grysks. Ar'alani promised to bolster the defenses of the colony world from which the Chiss children were taken. Speaking with Darth Vader, Thrawn admitted that the Ascendancy could be taking its first steps into a civil war, and believed that the Aristocra may have failed to settle their differences or that one side was under the control of the Grysks.
Hiding beneath the asteroid was an armed Grysk warship, resulting in the Empire bombarded the enemy ship with turbolaser fire. Exiting hyperspace soon after, the Steadfast deployed plasma spheres to draw away the Grysk laser fire. Before leaving, Ar'alani ordered her crew to salvage the debris from the Grysk warship. Eli and Ar'alani then boarded the Grysk warship to see the Empire had captured two Grysk prisoners. There was a tense exchange between Ar'alani and one of the Grysk's. Soon after, the Chiss entered Imperial space to warn the Empire about the Grysks and to also warn the Grysk Hegemony to depart. The Grysk commander mockingly asked if the Chiss were serving the Empire and tried to brush off the recent Grysk defeats. Observing the space battle, Vanto and the Chiss officers realized that the surviving Grysk starfighters were returning to their warships to inform newer reinforcements about their enemy's defenses. However, with the aid of Thrawn's TIE/d "Defender" Multi-Role Starfighters, the Ascendancy defeated the Grysk craft.
After pushing the Grysk back, Vanto was told the information he was working on was about the navigators, and Thrawn dispatched Assistant Director Brierly Ronan to join the Ascendancy. Emperor Palpatine also spoke to Thrawn, who admitted that the Chiss force breached Imperial space, but stated it was to warn the Empire of the Grysks, and said that the Grysk presence in the Kurost sector proved that they had an active interest in the Empire. However, the Emperor privately decided that, to counter the Grysks, he should take control of the Chiss Ascendancy, intending to use Thrawn to do so. However, before the Grand Admiral and the Emperor could have their "long talk," Thrawn, the Chimaera, and Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger were taken away during a local rebellion on Lothal into deep space by a pod of Purrgil that Bridger had summoned.
- "Always comes down to the families, doesn't it?"
The Chiss Ascendancy was a hegemonic empire and was comprised of interconnected sovereignties governed by the noble houses that made up the Aristocra, a sociopolitical body who were mid-level members of the empire's Nine 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 the governmental hierarchy and bureaucracy of the Chiss, known as the Syndicure.
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.
- "They're supposed to be great warriors. Clever, resourceful, proud. Intensely loyal to one another, too."
- ―Eli Vanto, on the Chiss
The Aristocra unilaterally oversaw and supported the upkeep of the Chiss Defense Force, the Chiss Ascendancy's military. The Chiss Defense Force included the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet, the Ascendancy's naval arm.
With the Command Articles guided the Chiss Defense Fleet and set out it laws. Its existence was primarily for purposes relating to exploration and peacekeeping, only used for war in the most extreme of cases, as well as defending both the Chiss homeworld and it colonies. It further role was to monitor battles between other factions and governments across the galaxy. The fleet used several types of starships, including Chiss warships and Chiss shuttles. The Chiss shuttle was also referred to as a Chiss courier ship.
All operations of the Chiss Defense Fleet were managed by an admiralty known as the Defense Hierarchy Council, which also held the power to exile traitors for crimes against the Chiss. Chiss officers were outfitted with a type of uniform which was able to absorb energy, protecting the user from blaster fire. There were multiple military ranks used in the Chiss Defense Fleet, including the ranks of admiral and commander. Though the Aristocra were not supposed to have influence over assignments in the Chiss military, it was still known to happen behind the scenes and against protocol.
Ozyly-esehembo was a Cheunh word for Force-sensitive Chiss navigators, which translated to Galactic Basic Standard as "sky-walker." They were administered by sky-walker corps to navigate through difficult territory in the Unknown Regions.  Sky-walkers were Chiss children, usually girls and usually between the ages of seven and fourteen, though some recalled the power sometimes lasted until age fifteen. Additionally, the power could sometimes fade ahead of schedule.
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 non-interventionism and peaceful diplomacy. This philosophy was codified via the Chiss laws prohibiting pre-emptive strikes. 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. Still, official military policy was to do everything possible to avoid a preemptive attack against a possible enemy. Though the act of entering another faction's space to gather intelligence was effectively allowed, it was close enough to breaking the rule to cause concern.
Despite not allowing involvement in non-Chiss battles without being provoked, the Chiss, who also disallowed deliberate provocation, allowed their military ships to provide humanitarian aid if they arrived in the aftermath of such battles. Nevertheless, 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. Unknown to the Chiss, by the time of the conflict with the Grysks, Emperor Palpatine sought to take complete control of the Chiss Ascendancy, which would make him their emperor as well.
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.
Society and culture
- «The predator birds, with beaks and talons designed for combat, are creating a protective zone around the more vulnerable [bird] species, thus discouraging attacks while the flocks rest up to continue their journeys. Rather analogous to Chiss society in general.»
- ―Jixtus compares the Grand Migration of birds on Shihon to Chiss society.[src]
Philosophically speaking, the Ascendancy vindicated its positions through a kind of utilitarian lens, the Chiss themselves being an empirically-minded species. The Chiss saw their government as the inverse of the Chaos that was the Unknown Regions, believing their Ascendancy represented order, security, steadfastness, power, glory, light, and culture.
The Chiss language was known as Cheunh, while written communication was done in Cheunh script. The Cheunh script included variants used by government officials that were deliberately hard for observers to read upside-down. In their rare contacts with outsiders, the Chiss used trade languages, such as Sy Bisti, which was used across the Unknown Regions and Wild Space as a means of communication. Other trade languages used by the Chiss both within the Chaos and the rare times they ventured to Lesser Space included Taarja and Minnisiat.
Most Chiss names were multi-syllabic and consisted of three distinct parts, as in Mitth'raw'nuruodo. The first portion identified an individual's family, the second was the given name, and the third indicated other social factors. A combination of parts of the three portions constituted the individual's core name, such as the derivation of "Thrawn" from "Mitth'raw'nuruodo".
The secrets of Second and Third Sights were among the best kept secret in the Chiss Ascendancy, to such an extent that many Chiss themselves were unaware of their full extent or even their existence. They were identified with the ability to use the Sight to act as navigators for the CDF and were known as ozyly-esehembo, the Cheunh word for "sky-walker."
Much like how the Galactic Empire showed prejudice towards aliens, the Chiss Ascendancy was known for distrusting humans. When Imperial Commander Eli Vanto served the Chiss Defense Fleet, the Chiss treated him similarly to how Grand Admiral Thrawn was treated when he joined the Empire. Nevertheless, all mistrust towards Vanto subsided when he proved his worth.
The Chiss Ascendancy ruled a swathe of space beyond the borders of the known-galaxy. The Chiss Ascendancy cared a great deal for its sovereignty. The Ascendancy's government went to such lengths to avoid compromising even the location of its territory that it resulted in the Chiss' becoming a species shrouded in a certain curious air of mystery and legend.
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising audiobook
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Greater Good audiobook
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil
- Thrawn Ascendancy: Lesser Evil audiobook
- Thrawn (First appearance, simultaneous with Thrawn audiobook)
- Thrawn audiobook (First appearance, simultaneous with Thrawn)
- Thrawn 1 (Indirect mention only)
- Thrawn 6 (First pictured)
- Thrawn: Alliances
- Thrawn: Alliances audiobook
- Thrawn: Treason
- Thrawn: Treason audiobook
- Star Wars: Alien Archive
- Star Wars Helmet Collection 54 (Databank A-Z: Tauntaun–TIE Craft)
- Ultimate Star Wars, New Edition
- The Star Wars Book
- "Emperor Palpatine" – Star Wars Encyclopedia