- "But now to the bridge. The Unknown Regions are calling, and we have a great deal of work yet to do."
- ―Mitth'raw'nuruodo, to Dagon Niriz
Dagon Niriz was a fourth-generation navy officer, a captain in the Imperial Navy, and the commanding officer of the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Admonitor in the years leading up to the Battle of Endor. A stalwart supporter of order and obedience in naval service, he took his position seriously.
When he was assigned to Grand Admiral Thrawn's mapping expedition in the Unknown Regions, he initially saw it as a blow to his career. However, after a test of Niriz's loyalty which caused the officer to doubt Thrawn's fitness for command but during which Niriz refused to participate in mutiny, Thrawn revealed the true nature of his mission. Thrawn, with Niriz and Voss Parck at his side, was in fact assigned to conquer the Unknown Regions for the Galactic Empire and secure it against the vast array of hidden threats within. Niriz took great pride in this cause, and continued to serve in the Unknown Regions, where Thrawn's holdings became the Empire of the Hand, even after Thrawn returned to the Empire after Emperor Palpatine's death.
A Human male born into a Core World family, the young Dagon Niriz was put under pressure to become the fourth generation of his family to enter naval service. Joining the Academy, Niriz trained as a naval officer and devoted himself to succeeding in his career and living up to his lineage. Entering service in the Imperial Navy, Niriz was posted aboard a Star Destroyer where he gained practical experience to supplement the command and tactical knowledge he had already gained from studying manuals. After only a few months as a Star Destroyer captain, Niriz's diligent service was rewarded with a transfer to a military affairs bureau on the galactic capital Coruscant, where he was tasked with analyzing situation reports from around the Empire and making recommendations to senior officers. Niriz's assignment on Coruscant saw him caught up in Imperial Court politics; when enemies of Admiral Thrawn united against him, Thrawn was exiled by Emperor Palpatine on a mapping expedition to the Unknown Regions, along with any other officer believed to be linked to the alien admiral, including Niriz.
Assignment to Thrawn
- "You've got it backwards, Captain. You're an honorable officer, from a proud Core World family. There's never been any question in Thrawn's mind that he can trust you."
"You could have fooled me. If he trusts me so much, why didn't he let me in on what he was doing?"
"Oh, you were proving you were trustworthy, all right. But you weren't proving it to Thrawn. You were proving it to yourself."
- ―Voss Parck and Dagon Niriz
Niriz was assigned as commanding officer of Thrawn's flagship, the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Admonitor, with Thrawn's long-time ally Commander Voss Parck as his executive officer. Although Niriz was pleased to be back on the bridge of a Star Destroyer, he was ashamed to find his career effectively ended through his association with the scandal and considered the mission to be a waste of resources at a time when resistance to Imperial rule was growing throughout the Empire. Niriz was also initially uneasy with Thrawn, who continually countermanded his orders and assigned the captain to what he considered to be menial tasks.
After several hyperspace jumps that took the Admonitor through the Outer Rim Territories and Wild Space, the ship arrived in the Unknown Regions and began scouting star systems. In the fifteenth system, the Imperials encountered several ships commanded by the Ebruchi pirate Creysis. Niriz was wary of the Ebruchi and ordered a squadron of TIE fighters to warn them back, only to have his order overruled by Thrawn. The admiral instead contacted Creysis and announced the Admonitor as an Alderaanian colony ship, accepting Creysis's offer to assist in finding a suitable planet for the colonists and arranging to meet the Ebruchi aboard the Admonitor.
Niriz and Thrawn met Creysis in the Admonitor's hangar. Thrawn agreed to send the fictional "Council of Colonists" to Creysis's command ship to conduct negotiations. In return Creysis requested a TIE fighter in return for his help, but Thrawn instead offered a golden sculpture, which Creysis accepted. When Creysis left, Niriz cautioned against sending a delegation to the Ebruchi ship and suggested a show of strength. Thrawn, however, insisted that they should take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about the Ebruchi and instructed Niriz to select three TIE pilots who could remain cool under fire to escort the mission.
Parck and six stormtroopers, posing as the Council of Colonists, set out in a Zeta-class shuttle for Creysis's vessel. After the shuttle entered the hangar, the Ebruchi's escort starfighters opened fire on its TIE escorts. Niriz immediately ordered the Admonitor to intercept, but Thrawn countermanded him, ordering a slow approach to maintain the illusion that the Star Destroyer was a colony ship, resulting in the capture of one of the TIEs. With Thrawn's orders putting men in the hands of Creysis, Niriz became more and more convinced his commander was incompetent. The commander of the ship's infantry complement, General Larr Haverel, approached Niriz, suggesting that Thrawn was in league with Creysis and had to be removed from command. Though he found the implication frighteningly easy to believe, Niriz's pride in his service in the fleet and respect for authority caused him to reject Haverel's idea as mutiny.
Niriz intended to inform Thrawn of the issue, but was preempted when Haverel returned with six troopers and demanded Thrawn return to his quarters and hand over command to Niriz. However, Niriz stood with his commander, telling Haverel he would find no support in Niriz or the crew. As Haverel prepared to act anyway, Thrawn received the key he had been waiting for. The admiral had allowed the TIE fighter to be captured, having already modified the fighter to disguise its capabilities. Having examined the captured fighter and determined that the Imperials were no threat, Creysis had dispatched a courier to his superiors, taking the sculpture as a sign of the Admonitor's wealth. As Niriz began to grasp the depth of Thrawn's strategy and the reason for his delays and seeming inaction, the admiral sprang into action, handily defeating Creysis and rescuing Parck's team. Following a homing beacon hidden in the sculpture, Thrawn proceeded to take the Admonitor to Creysis's home base, ending the Ebruchi threat.
Following the defeat of the Ebruchi, Niriz offered Thrawn his resignation as captain of the Admonitor and expected to be sent back to Coruscant with Haverel for court-martial. However, Parck approached Niriz and informed him that the admiral had rejected his resignation; Thrawn had been testing Niriz's loyalty and, by standing with Thrawn against Haverel, Niriz had passed. Parck revealed to him that the mission was not punishment at all, but instead a secret mission to subdue the myriad threats of the Unknown Regions and provide a foothold for future Imperial expansion. Niriz would be key to this vital mission. Infused with a sense of purpose, Niriz experienced a new commitment to Thrawn and the mission.
Return to known space
- "Admiral…I have to say one last time that I don't think you should do this. At least not personally."
- ―Dagon Niriz, to Mitth'raw'nuruodo
Niriz continued to serve Thrawn loyally, completing numerous campaigns in the Unknown Regions under the Grand Admiral's leadership. In 2 ABY, Thrawn returned to the Empire proper in order to assist Darth Vader in his efforts to undermine Prince Xizor, the head of the Black Sun crime syndicate and a personal enemy of the Dark Lord of the Sith. To this end, Thrawn planned to create a distraction for Xizor by removing Black Sun Vigo Zekka Thyne from Corellia, putting an effective end to Black Sun's operations on the planet. Niriz and the Admonitor returned with him.
Since intervention by Imperial forces would implicate Vader, Thrawn sought a civilian vessel on which to travel to Corellia. Niriz played a critical role in shanghaiing the crew of the YT-1300 light freighter Hopskip into aiding Thrawn by capturing their freighter and revealing the extremely sudden imposition of a licensing requirement for their cargo—which he was prepared to waive if the crew would deliver a cargo for him. Niriz also introduced them to the bounty hunter Jodo Kast, who he claimed would serve as their guide for the mission and with whom he put on a convincing argument to demonstrate their mutual disliking and hide the fact that Kast was actually Thrawn disguised in Mandalorian armor. Once out of sight of the smugglers, Niriz—who was unaware of Vader's involvement and the need for Thrawn to get personally involved—felt free to voice his reservations about the plan to the Grand Admiral, displaying great concern for his safety.
The Hopskip departed once their cargo was unloaded and the new cargo loaded aboard. Niriz and Thrawn knew that among the Hopskip's cargo of Pashkin sausages were numerous crates of blasters being smuggled to the Rebel Alliance. While waiting for the Hopskip to return, Niriz had the crates opened and homing beacons installed inside each of the hidden blasters to enable the Empire to locate the Rebels. When Thrawn returned after having successfully brought down Thyne, Niriz expressed his relief at the Grand Admiral's safe return and informed him that the plan to track the Hopskip's cargo was in place—a plan that would eventually lead to the Empire's critical victory at the Battle of Derra IV. When Vader arrived aboard the Admonitor, Niriz was privy to conversations between Thrawn and Vader detailing their plot against Xizor. Once this high-level discussion was carried out, Vader departed and the Admonitor set course for the Unknown Regions once more, but not before Thrawn revealed his payment for the assistance: control of the Noghri commandos.
The Empire of the Hand
In 4 ABY, Emperor Palpatine was killed at the Battle of Endor. While the New Republic battled the Empire and numerous rogue Imperials for control of the known galaxy, Thrawn initially remained in the Unknown Regions, where his holdings transformed into the Empire of the Hand. In 9 ABY, Thrawn returned to the Empire to lead a renewed push against the New Republic, leaving Parck in command of the Empire of the Hand. No mention of Niriz was made at any point after the Empire of the Hand's existence was revealed to the New Republic in 19 ABY, but Niriz never returned to official duty with the Empire.
Personality and traits
- "We're warriors of the Imperial Fleet. It's our duty to die when the situation requires it."
- ―Dagon Niriz to Larr Haverel
Initially pressured by his family into joining the Academy, Dagon Niriz devoted himself to his studies and allowed his passion for the Empire to motivate him to succeed in his career. Niriz quickly gained a reputation as a diligent officer, who adhered strictly to the chain of command—even when he did not care for his commanding officer—and was quick to assess a situation and apply the appropriate action as dictated by regulations. If death was part of his duty, he would accept it as necessary. Niriz took great pride in his family's tradition of naval service and was ashamed to find himself linked to Thrawn and an Imperial Court scandal.
Though he initially resented his assignment to Thrawn as a career-ending exile which he did not deserve, he did not allow it to impact his performance as an officer. Thrawn's unorthodox tactics left Niriz torn between loyalty to his commander and his dedication to Imperial procedures. When forced to choose, Niriz sided with Thrawn and refused to be involved in Haverel's attempted mutiny. When he discovered that the mission held vital importance, though not public recognition, Niriz was inspired to continue and became extremely dedicated to it, showing that it was not praise and promotions which he sought, but the ability to make a difference in important work.
Niriz also came to greatly admire Thrawn, whom he had initially looked down on as a fool and even an incompetent. Upon fully understanding Thrawn's tactics, he became wholly committed to his superior officer, and was extremely protective and supportive of the admiral, who he believed could teach him more than any other mentor.
Behind the scenes
The character of Dagon Niriz was created by Timothy Zahn for the short story Command Decision, published in Star Wars Adventure Journal 11 on November 1, 1996. The character has only been written or referenced in stories by Zahn, with the exception of a brief mention by other characters in the middle chapters of Side Trip, written by frequent Zahn collaborator Michael A. Stackpole. Niriz's actual appearances in Side Trip were in the two chapters written by Zahn. This lack of references has left Niriz's fate open-ended. Even in Vision of the Future, written by Zahn and dealing heavily with the Empire of the Hand, Niriz's fate is not resolved beyond the fact that he never returned to the Empire from the Unknown Regions.
In Command Decision, Niriz fills the same role in relation to Thrawn as does Gilad Pellaeon in the Thrawn Trilogy. Both characters are the captains of Thrawn's flagships and frequently observe his tactics without understanding them until Thrawn explains them in the end. Their questioning of Thrawn allows Zahn to provide expository dialogue on Thrawn's tactics and thought processes without revealing the plot to the reader in advance of the surprise conclusion. In addition, both Niriz and Pellaeon played similar roles within the Star Wars galaxy as protégés of Thrawn who observed his tactics at work and learned from his side. Niriz went on to carry on Thrawn's legacy in the Empire of the Hand, while Pellaeon became Grand Admiral and supreme commander of the Imperial Remnant, carrying on Thrawn's legacy in the mainstream Empire as well.
- "Command Decision" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 11 (First appearance)
- "Side Trip" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 12
- Vision of the Future (Mentioned only)
- Vision of the Future unabridged audiobook (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- "Command Decision" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 11
- Vision of the Future
- "Side Trip" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 12
- "Command Decision" – Star Wars Adventure Journal 11 (Roleplaying Game Statistics)
- The Essential Reader's Companion
- The New Essential Chronology
- Crisis of Faith
- Heir to the Empire
- Dark Force Rising
- The Last Command
- The New Jedi Order: Destiny's Way