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"You belong on the bridge, not the conveyer."
―Commander Karyn Faro, to Eli Vanto[1]

Eli N. Vanto, known during his time with the Chiss Ascendancy as Eli'van'to and Ivant, was a human male who initially served as an ensign and later a commander in the Imperial Navy during the era of the Galactic Empire. For several years, Vanto served as a translator, aide, student, and protégé of the Chiss known as Thrawn, who became a rising star in the Imperial Navy. Vanto served alongside Thrawn in several Imperial military operations against smugglers and insurgents. Due to his close connection to Thrawn, Vanto's promotion was overlooked for several years by the Imperial Military hierarchy which despised aliens and looked down on Wild Space outsiders like Vanto.

Following the intervention of the future Lothalian Governor Arihnda Pryce and Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin, Vanto received his long-overdue promotion and eventually rose to the rank of Commander. While pursuing the shadowy insurgent leader known as Nightswan, Eli discovered evidence that the Empire was transporting large quantities of doonium and other valuable metals for a mysterious mega-project which turned out to be the first Death Star. Following the defeat of Nightswan during the Batonn sector insurgency, Commander Vanto was dispatched by Thrawn into the Unknown Regions to serve as the Empire's attaché to the Chiss Ascendancy.


Early Life[]

Eli N. Vanto grew up on Lysatra, a planet found in Wild Space, where his mother and father owned a shipping company that operated in the Unknown Regions. Because of this, Vanto spent a lot of time picking up several languages, one of which was Sy Bisti. In later years, he became a cadet at the Myomar Academy in the Expansion Region and was on track to becoming a supply officer.[1]

First contact[]

Near the end of his training at the Myomar Academy, Vanto and his fellow cadets were part of an Imperial scouting party led by Colonel Mosh Barris and Captain Voss Parck. While pursuing smugglers, they explored an uncharted planet in Wild Space. During the expedition, Vanto and Captain Parck were summoned by Colonel Barris to investigate a hut that did not appear to match anything of known design. The Imperial scouting party also found eight boxes near the hut that were inscribed in a language unknown to most of the Imperials, and which turned out to be Sy Bisti. Since the Imperial droids could not decipher Sy Bisti, Vanto was tasked with translating the script.[1]

The Imperial party proceeded to set up camp around the hut but were attacked by an unknown assailant, who killed five Imperial Navy troopers and a stormtrooper. The attacker also downed a V-wing starfighter and killed the starfighter's pilot in order to study his adversaries and the craft's communications equipment. Despite the confusion, Vanto was able to determine the attacker was a humanoid and speculated that he had possibly been stranded on the planet since the Clone Wars. Due to the attack, a decision was made to evacuate the hut and everything in it aboard the orbiting Venator-class Star Destroyer Strikefast, pursuant to the Unknown Alien protocols.[1]

Meeting Thrawn[]

Vanto and Parck question Thrawn

Once aboard the Strikefast, Captain Parck realized that the attacker had stowed aboard their transport and ordered that the hangar lights be dimmed. To the surprise of Eli and the others, the attacker surrendered himself to the ship's stormtroopers. Eli recognized the intruder as a Chiss man, a blue-skinned species whom Vanto had regarded as a Wild Space myth. In his childhood, Vanto had heard stories of the Chiss and that they used the Sy Bisti language. While the Chiss could understand both Sy Bisti and Galactic Basic, he was more proficient in the former. Since Vanto knew Sy Bisti, Captain Parck tasked him with serving as a translator between his Imperial superiors and the Chiss prisoner. The Chiss introduced himself as Mitth'raw'nuruodo, but allowed Vanto and his superior officers to call him by his core name "Thrawn."[1]

During the interrogation, Thrawn admitted to attacking and killing Imperial personnel on the uncharted world in order to test the mettle of his Imperial opponents. Thrawn also claimed that he been exiled by his people for launching a preemptive attack on an unidentified foe. Thrawn explained that he had come to seek the Empire's help in protecting his people from various mysterious dangers in the Unknown Regions. Due to his knowledge of the Chiss and Sy Bisti, Captain Parck realized that Vanto was cut out to be more than a supply officer and appointed him as Thrawn's translator. Recognizing Thrawn's potential, Parck decided to take Thrawn to the galactic capital Coruscant, believing that Emperor Palpatine would be interested in the Chiss warrior.[1]

Vanto, Parck and Thrawn meet the emperor

For the rest of the journey, Vanto spent time alone with Thrawn and briefed him about the Empire and his own upbringing on Lysatra. The Emperor was indeed interested in meeting the Chiss warrior. He summoned Thrawn, Eli, Captain Parck, Colonel Barris, and the other stormtrooper and Imperial Navy witnesses for a private audience at the Imperial Palace. During the meeting, Thrawn claimed that there were unspecified dangers lurking in the Unknown Regions and offered his skills, knowledge, and service to the Empire in return for receiving a guarantee of protection for his people. The Emperor accepted Thrawn's offer to serve as his advisor on matters relating to the Unknown Regions. Thrawn also persuaded the Emperor to permanently assign Eli as his translator and aide. Unbeknownst to Eli, Thrawn saw great potential as a military officer in Eli.[1]

The Royal Imperial Academy[]

Since Vanto was due to graduate from an Imperial Academy in three months, he and Thrawn were assigned to the Royal Imperial Academy; which was regarded as the most prestigious of the Imperial Academies. Since Thrawn was designated as a "fancy-face soldier" who needed a little orientation in Imperial procedure, equipment, and terminology, he was also given three months to complete the course. Eli and Thrawn found the Royal Imperial Academy a hostile environment, with several of the faculty and students, including Commandant Deenlark of the academy, not welcoming the presence of a "backwater yokel" from Wild Space and an "alien." While Vanto was initially wary of the Emperor's decision, he came to appreciate Thrawn as a friend.[1]

During Thrawn's orientation, Vanto briefed the Chiss about the xenophobic and regional prejudices within the Imperial military establishment. In return, Thrawn confided that he had indeed met Jedi General Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars. After Thrawn experienced three altercations from the other Imperial cadets, Vanto urged him to report the incidents to Commandant Deenlark. Thrawn was unwilling to do so to avoid jeopardizing his position at the Academy. While talking, Vanto received a comlink message from the wealthy Coruscanti cadet Spenc Orbar inviting him and Thrawn to play cards while he and his friend Rosita Turuy were running corrosion tests on their alloy boards.[1]

Vanto watches as Thrawn is attacked by three hooded figures before helping Thrawn by throwing gravel at the assailants.

Thrawn accepted the invitation and met Orbar and Turuy at the laboratory. Thrawn beat Orbar and Turuy in a game of cards, earning the enmity of the two cadets. Following the game, Vanto and Thrawn headed back to Barracks Two. On the way, Thrawn gave Vanto a lesson on strategy using the previous card game as an example. Not long after, the two were ambushed by three masked assailants. Eli managed to blind two of the attackers by hurling gravel at them. Despite being outnumbered, Thrawn managed to wound the thigh of one of the assailants. At that point, five other cadets spotted the commotion and the three troublemakers were forced to flee. Thrawn then accepted Eli's advice to report the incident to Commandant Deenlark.[1]

During the meeting with Commandant Deenlark, Vanto assisted Thrawn as he related his theory that Orbar and Turuy had instigated the attack. Vanto also advocated checking their comlink records or the lab's own comm system. While Deenlark had enough evidence to take disciplinary action against Orbay and Turuy, he was reluctant to risk the political fallout of punishing scions of wealthy and influential Coruscanti families. In response, Thrawn proposed transferring the three trouble-makers to the Skystrike Academy on short notice in order to scare Orbay and Turuy into not causing any more trouble. This would be viewed to their families as a promotion rather than a punishment, but nevertheless serve as a punishment from the points-of-view of the cadets.[1]

Following the meeting, Thrawn confided that Deenlark was beholden to Orbay and Turuy's family, citing the presence of a flatsculp depicting a sailing ship in the Commandant's office. Vanto also learned that Chiss comms were also equipped with emergency buttons and that Thrawn had purportedly been exiled by the Chiss Ascendancy for launching a preemptive strike on nomadic pirates who preyed on defenseless worlds.[1]

Chasing smugglers[]

"The Blood Crow is scheduled for duty in border sectors where Sy Bisti may be spoken. I merely pointed out it may be beneficial to have two officers aboard who understand the language. If you wish, I will refuse to accept you in that position."
"No point. The navy doesn't change orders just because junior officers don't like them. When you're an admiral, we'll see what you can do."
"Very well. I will strive to achieve that rank as quickly as possible."
―Thrawn and Eli[3]

Three months later, Eli Vanto and Thrawn graduated and were the third and second to receive their assignments from the Royal Imperial Academy respectively. After graduation, Vanto was greeted by both his parents, who congratulated their son for his success. Vanto also tried to allay his parents' fears about the Chiss. Their first meeting with Thrawn proved to be a brief and awkward encounter and they took leave, claiming that they had to catch an airbus to their landing platform. Shortly later, Vanto discovered to his dismay that he was to be assigned as an aide with the rank of Ensign to Lieutenant Thrawn, who was the Weapons Officer aboard the Gozanti-class cruiser Blood Crow. Despite his friendship with Thrawn, Eli feared that being an aide would adversely affect his career advancement in the Imperial Navy. While Eli was upset, Thrawn reassured him that his knowledge of Sy Bisti was useful because the Blood Crow was assigned to border sectors where the language was spoken.[1]

For the next eighteen months, Ensign Eli and Lieutenant Thrawn would serve under the command of Captain Rik Virgilio, who maintained a respectful relationship with the two. The Blood Crow saw action trapping smugglers, rendering aid to distressed vehicles, and defusing potentially damaging political situations in the Mid Rim and Outer Rim Territories. Captain Virgilio was subsequently replaced by Captain Filia Rossi and Senior Lieutenant Nels Deyland. Captain Rossi resented the fact that Thrawn had his own aide. Despite her antagonism, Thrawn managed to convince her to let him keep several Clone Wars antiques including a droideka, two buzz droids, half of a STAP, and a hyperspace ring which he had purchased with his own expenses until they reached the planet Ansion. Eli was one of the few who was privy to Thrawn's secret that these weapons were still operational.[1]

Vanto and Thrawn take a shuttle to the Dromedar

Later, Eli and Thrawn were part of a boarding party that was dispatched on a shuttle to search the derelict freighter Dromedar, which had been carrying a shipment of tibanna. Once aboard, they encountered a man named Nevil Cygni who claimed that his crew had been kidnapped by pirates. In fact, Cygni was the leader of the pirates who was also the enigmatic rebel leader known as "Nightswan." While Captain Rossi was reluctant to aid the kidnapped crew since she had more pressing issues to attend to at a Ho'Din settlement on Moltok, Thrawn managed to convince her to let him and Eli remain behind with three other crew members: Ensign Barlin and the technicians Layneo and Jakeeb. Thrawn also brought his buzz droids aboard the Dromedar.[1]

While the Imperials searched for the ship's cargo, Cygni revealed that he was one of the pirates. Twelve other pirates including a man named Angel emerged from hiding and took Eli and the other Imperials prisoners. The Imperials were then thrown into a cage aboard the pirate ship's cargo bay with the ship's ten crew. After Cygni and most of the pirates had reboarded the Dromedar with the stolen tibanna and jumped into hyperspace, Thrawn hatched his escape plan. With the help of the technicians, Thrawn activated one of the buzz droid and used it to cut a hole through the cage. Eli along with the other Imperials and ship crew then managed to overpower the remaining pirates. The other pirates were killed when the second buzz droid exposed the entrance chamber and amidships section of the vessel to vacuum.[1]

Despite rescuing the crew and capturing the pirates, Captain Rossi was displeased with Lieutenant Thrawn for taking risks. In retaliation, she suspended Thrawn and Ensign Vanto from duty and left them at the Imperial base on Ansion. Despite this setback, Thrawn put their suspension to good use by interrogating the captured pirates about where they had hidden the tibanna. With Ensign Vanto and Admiral Plor Wiskovis acting as witnesses, Thrawn managed to convince three of the captured pirates to reveal the location of the tibanna in return for protecting them from the feared Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin. While the pirates discussed Thrawn's offer in Sy Bisti, Thrawn and Vanto eavesdropped and learned that the pirates had taken the Dromedar and its tibanna cargo to the planet Uba. The pirates accepted Thrawn's offer and claimed that Cygni and Angel had taken the Dromedar to Cartherston on the planet Keitum. After the pirates had left, Wiskovis acted on Thrawn's information and dispatched Imperial forces to Uba to recover the Dromedar and its cargo.[1]

Playing second fiddle[]

Following the events aboard the Dromedar and on Ansion, Ensign Vanto and Lieutenant Thrawn traveled to Coruscant to await their court-martial. During the Ascension Week holidays, they befriended the Imperial Security Bureau officer Colonel Wullf Yularen, who took them to an Imperial ball at the Alisandre Hotel in Coruscant's upmarket Federal District for social networking purposes. The Lothalian Senator Domus Renking introduced them to his citizen advisory officer Arihnda Pryce. When Yularen regaled Renking and Pryce with the story of how Thrawn and Vanto had overpowered the pirates, Vanto reassured the Colonel that he was not overstating their case. Thrawn then responded that Vanto was being too modest about his own and his comrades' contributions.[1]

After the ballroom function, Colonel Yularen informed Thrawn and Eli that the Imperial High Command had taken up Thrawn's suggestion and were investigating whether Cygni had taken the stolen tibanna gas to the planet Kril'Dor, near the Uba system. The two learned that Cygni had escaped the Imperial cordon and that he had somehow found a way to extract the tibanna from twelve of the cylinders recovered from the Dromedar. The Imperial authorities had also taken interest in a shadowy individual known as Nightswan. At the time, the Empire was unaware that Nightswan was a pseudonym for Cygni. To both Eli and Thrawn's relief, Lieutenant Thrawn was cleared of any wrongdoing by the court-martial. Since Eli came from a shipping family, Thrawn asked him about the Imperial Navy's unusual purchase of doonium. The two speculated that the doonium was being used for some unspecified mega project.[1]

Following the court-martial, Vanto was approached by Culper, an aide of Moff Ghadi. She offered him a job as an assistant military attache to the governor of a prestigious Inner Rim system. Moff Ghadi was jealous of Thrawn's successful career and hoped to enlist Vanto's help in bringing the Chiss officer down. When Culper revealed her true motives and mocked Vanto for his Wild Space origins, he turned down the offer. Culper then warned him that Moff Ghadi would make certain that Vanto's career would be of no importance. She told him to get comfortable with being an Ensign, exposing Moff Ghadi's intention to curtail his career. Vanto did not mention the incident to Thrawn, who informed them that he had been promoted to Captain and posted aboard the Arquitens-class light cruiser Thunder Wasp in the Mid Rim. Though Vanto would still be accompanying Thrawn, he was disappointed that he still had not been promoted.[1]

Following Nightswan's trail[]

A year later, Ensign Vanto took part in a successful operation led by Captain Thrawn and Commander Alfren Cheno to capture a group of iridium smugglers on the planet Uba. Eli and Thrawn found Cheno to be a more cooperative commanding officer than Captain Rossi or Culper. Thrawn and Eli had managed to hunt down the smugglers by using a trail of mollusk meat and makorr predators to follow their underwater transport. In their haste, the smugglers had dumped the mollusk meat overboard to make room for the iridium instead of periodically releasing smaller chunks of the meat. In private, Thrawn praised Eli for his growing aptitude for the art of tactics. Eli also discussed his months-long investigation into the Imperial Navy's procurement of large amounts of doonium for a hidden project. Eli and Thrawn also talked about reports that Nightswan had been procuring Clone Wars equipment and smuggled metals for unknown purposes.[1]

Later, Ensign Vanto took part in the Imperial pacification of the Umbaran homeworld of Umbara. The Imperial assault on Umbara was commanded by Admiral Carlou Gendling. Prior to the assault, Vanto informed Captain Thrawn that Commander Cheno had requested a meeting with him at the bridge. Vanto found that Thrawn had been studying the art of the Umbaran people. Vanto also informed Thrawn that Admiral Gendling's Imperial Star Destroyer Foremost had arrived in the Umbara system with four corvettes. Vanto told Thrawn that Admiral Gendling was confident that he could force the Umbarans into submission with these forces.[1]

At the bridge, Vanto checked the weapons diagnostics station while Commander Cheno confided that Admiral Gendling was impatient and had ignored his advice to wait for the rest of his force. Despite Admiral Gendling's predictions that the Umbarans would not attack, the Umbarans dispatched 400 Vulture droids to attack the Imperial squadron. Eli noticed that the Vulture droids were coming from an Umbaran moon. The Imperial ships were overwhelmed by the tiny nimble fighters, which exploited gaps in their deflector shields to inflict damage. During the battle, Thrawn studied the Vulture droid's attack patterns and concluded that they were being controlled by a transmitter on an outlying moon. After sharing his findings with Eli, Thrawn convinced Commander Cheno to countermand Admiral Gendling and order the Imperial ships to bombard the transmitter's station. Thrawn's plan worked and the Umbarans capitulated.[1]

However, Admiral Gendling was furious that Commander Cheno had countermanded his orders and warned there would be repercussions. Following the battle, Eli briefed Thrawn about his findings that the transmitted had been operating from a building owned by a group of humans. These humans were strangers to the Umbaran system. Despite the lack of hard evidence, Thrawn believed that Nighswan had a hand in the Umbaran rebellion due to his involvement in mining and metal smuggling. After analyzing the shipping records, Eli and Thrawn reached the conclusion that Nightswan had engineered an Imperial takeover of Umbara's mines since it would be easier for him and his smugglers to bribe Imperial inspectors than the Umbarans. Thrawn also confided in Eli that Nightswan was trying to send a message to him.[1]

Intrigue on Coruscant[]

Following the pacification of Umbara, Eli and Thrawn discussed the injustice of Commander Cheno being forced into retirement. While Thrawn was upset that the Imperial Navy had punished a competent officer who had won the battle and saved many lives, Eli explained that Admiral Gendling had been slighted by Cheno and had used his political connections to exact revenge. Eli also reassured Thrawn that it could have been worse since Cheno had protected Thrawn from being "thrown to the wolves." Eli explained that the Imperial Navy hierarchy did not accept Thrawn because he was not human and not from the Core Worlds. Despite the hostility of the Imperial hierarchy, the two endeavored to continue their investigations into Nightswan.[1]

At Colonel Yularen's recommendation, Ensign Vanto and Captain Thrawn decided to accompany the ISB officer and two subordinates Roenton and Brook on a visit to the Yinchom Dojo, which trained and supplied bodyguards for the Imperial Senate and various ministry officials. Yularen wanted to investigate whether the dojo was involved in seditious activities. During their visit, Eli and Thrawn encountered Arihnda Pryce, a former aide of Senator Renking who was now working for the Higher Skies Advocacy Group. Thrawn also took part in a sparring exercise with the dojo's owner, the Togorian Instructor H'sishi. Following the meeting, Thrawn discussed his suspicions about the apprehensive behavior of one of the instructors, Juahir Madras. Thrawn also concluded that H'sishi harbored no ill intentions towards Imperials.[1]

Following their visit to the Yimchom Dojo, Vanto and Thrawn received news that they would spend the next four weeks at the Imperial Palace with Emperor Palpatine while the Thunder Wasp underwent repairs. After completing its repairs, the ship would return to Mid Rim and Outer Rim patrol duties. Captain Thrawn was also promoted to the rank of Commander. To Vanto's dismay, he was not promoted. Though Eli tried to suppress his dismay, Thrawn sensed his friend's frustration. Thrawn realized that Vanto had held the rank of ensign a full year longer than was customary, even though he had done nothing that would delay his promotion. Vanto in fact knew that he had not been promoted since he had incurred the opposition of Moff Ghadi's aide, who disliked Thrawn.[1]

Later, Thrawn met with Arihnda Pryce, who informed him of her problems with Moff Ghadi and Higher Skies. She asked Thrawn to help her protect herself from prosecution being threatened by Moff Ghadi, the same person responsible for impeding Vanto's career. Thrawn agreed, and in return, she promised to make sure Vanto would be promoted and offered to aid Thrawn in the political arena by using her political connections. At Thrawn's request, Pryce also agreed to use her political connections to speed up the repairs to the Thunder Wasp.[1]

The Cyphar dispute[]

Vanto and Thrawn as they approach Cyphar

Following the repairs to the Thunder Wasp, Ensign Vanto and Commander Thrawn were dispatched to resolve a land dispute on the planet Cyphar between the Afe clan of the indigenous Cyphari and a group of human colonists from the Hollenside Enclave. The colonists claimed that the Afes had been raiding their border settlements and demanded concessions and a safety buffer zone that would annex nearly half the Afes' land and force them to move into lands controlled by other Afes. The Afes claimed they had lived on the land for centuries and claimed their attacks were in response to human trespassing and border raids. Thrawn had requested this assignment with the support of Colonel Yularen.[1]

While analyzing shipping records from Cyphar, Eli speculated that the humans had discovered a new vein of precious metals beneath the Afes' territory, hence their demand for Afe land. Eli also suggested that the human colonists were smuggling precious metals inside the shellfish, explaining the spike in shellfish exports over the past four months. Eli and Thrawn thought that Nightswan had instigated the Cyphar dispute. After meeting with the colonists, Thrawn and Vanto deduced that Lenora Scath, Brigte Polcery, and Clay Tanoo were involved in the conspiracy based on their facial expressions and mannerisms. They speculated that Mayor Pord Benchel had been duped.[1]

Eli and Thrawn then met with the Afe Chief Joko, who admitted that members of his clan had crossed the border to launch reprisal attacks against the human colonists. After Chief Joko brought them to the site of the incursions, Commander Thrawn decided to set a trap for the colonists. After studying the colonists' attack patterns, Vanto observed that they were moving northwards towards the large population centers in an attempt to provoke a stronger reaction from the Afes. This confirmed Thrawn and Vanto's earlier hypothesis that the colonists had launched the incursions in order to draw attention away from their mining operation and to provoke hostilities with the Afe. When Vanto suggested bringing down reinforcements, Thrawn reassured him that the two of them would be sufficient.[1]

Vanto stuns all of Tanoo's team

That night, Eli and Thrawn hid in the Afe meeting house as the colonists arrived at the Afe village. Eli discovered that the Afe grain fields covered a vein of material that was a precursor to a spice variety called scarn. After Thrawn called for Imperial shuttles and troops, Vanto waited in the hut to fire at the raiders while Thrawn disabled the colonists' landspeeders. During the brief firefight, Eli managed to stun two of the colonists with his blaster. Thrawn captured several of the colonists' ring leaders including Tanoo. After the colonists had been apprehended, Thrawn ordered his TIE fighters and the Thunder Wasp to bombard the disputed land in order to destroy the scarn and dissuade the colonists from raiding Afe land in the future.[1]

Eli watched as Lieutenant Gimm's TIE fighter razed grazing lands, marshes, and croplands which covered the scarn trail. Thrawn's unorthodox actions angered Chief Joko, who protested that the bombing had destroyed farmland and damaged homes and water springs. Thrawn countered that the destruction of the pre-spice was necessary to stop further attacks by the colonists. Vanto also informed Thrawn that Coruscant was furious with his actions. When Vanto expressed frustration with the Imperial military hierarchy for not appreciating that Thrawn had ended the Afe-colonist conflict, exposed a criminal conspiracy and destroyed a source of illicit spice, Thrawn explained that the Imperials wanted a commander who followed procedures.[1]

Thrawn told Eli that he was prepared to return to Coruscant to report the truth. Later, Eli met with the TIE fighter pilot Lieutenant Gimm and deduced that he was one of the trouble-makers who had assaulted him and Thrawn at the Royal Imperial Academy years ago. When Gimm pointed out that he was still an ensign, Vanto countered that he was serving the best commander in the Imperial Navy. Gimm mocked Thrawn's predicament and claimed that Commander Deenlark had pulled enough strings for him and his fellow attackers to be transferred to the Skystrike Academy. Despite Gimm's taunts, Vanto controlled his temper and comforted himself with the knowledge that Thrawn had been proven right in his observation that Gimm would make an excellent starfighter pilot.[1]


Honoring her promise to Thrawn, Pryce met with Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin and provided him with incriminating evidence about Higher Skies' espionage against high-ranking Imperial officials and Moff Ghadi's willingness to exploit information that Higher Skies had illegally obtained about Tarkin. In return, she asked for the governorship of her homeworld of Lothal and to give Eli a long overdue promotion. Tarkin accepted Pryce's deal and issued orders for the arrest of the Higher Skies members including the instructor Juahir Madras and Moff Ghadi. Tarkin also used his political clout to improve Thrawn and Vanto's standing in the Imperial Navy hierarchy.[1]

After Thrawn was cleared by a military hearing, Vanto and Thrawn disrupted four smuggling operations, three of which were smuggling black market doonium. Eli also identified at least five other smuggling operations that fitted Nightswan's pattern but which occurred outside the Thunder Wasp's patrol area. Eli and Thrawn also continued to investigate why Nightswan seemed to be obsessed with stealing doonium from the Empire, and what the Empire wanted to use the doonium for. Only Colonel Yularen seemd to take Thrawn's warnings about Nightswan seriously. After studying the doonium shipping records, Eli realized that the Empire was not using the doonium to build ships. He came to speculate that the Empire was stockpiling the doonium for some yet unknown purpose.[1]

Following these anti-smuggling operations, both Vanto and Thrawn were summoned back to Coruscant. They were received by several high-ranking Imperial military officers and officials including Grand Moff Tarkin. Thrawn was promoted to the rank of Commodore. Then, to Vanto's surprise, he was commended for his stellar career, and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Commander, an exceptionally high achievement for a junior ranking officer. Following the promotion ceremony, Tarkin praised the two men and told them that the-now Governor Pryce had sent her regards and congratulations. Receiving their new orders, Lieutenant Commander Vanto and Commodore Thrawn learned that they had been reassigned to the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Chimaera. Prior to leaving the Thunder Wasp, Vanto made a mental note to pay his former tormentor Lieutenant Gimm a visit.[1]

Attack on the Sempre[]

The aftermath of the attack on the Sempre

While stationed aboard the Chimaera, Lieutenant-Commander Eli Vanto and Commodore Thrawn received a distress call from the troop transport Sempre, which had been attacked by the frigate Castilus and two squadrons of V-19 Torrent starfighters. While Eli suspected that Nightswan was behind the attack, Thrawn disagreed because overly violent attacks were not his usual style. However, First Officer Karyn Faro responded that Nightswan's styles could change and pointed out that Nightswan and followers were already attacking and killing Imperial personnel. When Thrawn raised a question about the transport's mysterious cargo, the Stormtrooper Commander Ayer reported that the Sempre was not carrying troops. When Eli inquired into the matter, Ayer responded that he was not at liberty to discuss the ship's cargo.[1]

Per orders from Coruscant, Thrawn delivered Stormtrooper Commander Ayer and his troops to the Sempre. By the time that the Chimaera had arrived, the attacking ships had already left the scene. Ayer reluctantly allowed Vanto and Thrawn to accompany his troopers aboard the transport. Vanto observed that several of the fallen crew displayed injuries on their heads and bodies consistent with beatings. Vanto also found a bloody handwritten mark at a high angle of the wall. When Vanto concluded that one of the attackers or passengers had made the mark, Thrawn insisted on examining the troop quarters. A stormtrooper tried to block their way but Thrawn reasserted his authority.[1]

Eli remarked that this was the first time he heard Thrawn raise his voice in anger. Thrawn reassured him that he had merely disrupted the trooper's normal pattern of behavior. Vanto found that the sleeping area's racks were unusually large than the standard trooper carrier racks. When Vanto concluded that the passengers were prisoners, Thrawn added that the troop transport was transporting slaves. After analyzing the attack with First Office Faro, Eli concluded that the attackers had attacked the Sempre in order to free the slaves. The Senior communications officer Lomar also found evidence that the slaves were Wookiees.[1]

Thrawn concluded that the Sempre had been transporting the slaves from Kashyyyk to an offworld processing center to test for their health and other qualifications. After studying the maps, Eli found that the slave transport had been traveling to the old customs clearing station Lansend Twenty-Six when it was attacked. Following further discussions, Eli, Thrawn, Faro speculated that the Wookiees' rescuers were going to raid Lansend Twenty-Six to free more slaves and exact retribution. The Chimaera arrived at Lansend Twenty-Six to find the station under attack from the Castilus and the V-19 starfighters.[1]

Wookiee slaves and the attackers are rounded up after the attack on Lansend 26

After establishing contact with the station's commander Colonel Zenoc, Thrawn's reinforcements attacked the insurgent forces. Since the station had already been boarded by intruders, Thrawn ordered Colonel Zenoc to pull back all personnel to Section B-eight. Thrawn bombarded Lansend Twenty-Six, neutralizing most of the intruders. He also took care to avoid targeting Section B-five, which housed "non-military personnel." Meanwhile, the Chimaera and its TIE fighters crippled the freighter Castilus and reduced the enemy starfighters to three ships. As the battle drew to a close, Vanto expressed his discomfort that the Empire was using Wookiee slaves. Thrawn tried to rationalize slavery and reiterated that these beings would be treated as "Imperial assets." As a result, Eli learned that the Empire was secretly trafficking Wookiee slaves.[1]

The Botajef Uprising[]

Under orders from Fleet Admiral Jok Donassius, Lieutenant-Commander Vanto and Commodore Thrawn were tasked with quelling the Botajef Uprising. Quesl, the human Governor of Botajef had unilaterally seceded the planet from the Galactic Empire. Vanto attended a tactical consultation meeting with Thrawn, Commander Faro, and Senior Lieutenant Pyrondi. During the meeting, Pyrondi explained that the indigenous Jefies had a strong cultural tendency to follow a competent leader. When Eli asked why the Jefies had not complained about Coruscant appointing a human governor, Pyrondi responded that the Jefies were natural followers whose trust Quesl had gained.[1]

With the journey to Botajef taking fifteen hours, Thrawn retreated to his quarters to study the history of Botajef, which was characterized by a cycle of long periods of passive allegiance followed by brief outbreaks of fiery conflicts. Two hours before their expected arrival, Vanto visited Commodore Thrawn and confided his concerns that they had been given this assignment because certain people were trying to set Thrawn up. While Vanto did not have hard evidence, he warned Thrawn that there were many government officials who disliked nonhumans. These officials were gambling that Thrawn would either brutally subjugate the Jefies or would be expelled by the Botajef Defense Force. In the first scenario, they wanted to depict Thrawn as a "mad alien run amok" who had brutally suppressed innocent Jefies and humans obeying their appointed leader. In the second scenario, they wanted to portray Thrawn as an incompetent officer only fit to command an ore carrier.[1]

When Vanto mentioned the ore carrier, Thrawn recalled that their former Captain Filia Rossi had served as the first officer of an ore freighter before commanding the Blood Crow. Thrawn speculated that Rossi had been escorting doonium and other metals for an unknown but important project. Vanto also recalled that Rossi had previously been posted at Socorro, which had asteroid belts that were rich in doonium. Thrawn tasked Vanto with tracking the shipments of doonium and other starship components. Thrawn speculated that the Empire was building a massive starship under the misguided rationale that "larger meant better." Vanto suggested that Thrawn could find out what this mysterious project was about the next time he visited Coruscant. Vanto also drew a link between the metal shipments and the travel vector for the Wookiee slave ship they had encountered.[1]

At Thrawn's insistence, the two returned to the matter of Botajef. The two discussed the holo-recording of Governor Guesl's declaration of independence, particularly the presence of art pieces hanging on the display wall behind him. Having analyzed the video, Vanto had counted 57 pieces and made holos of every piece visible on that recording. After studying the holo-recording, Vanto and Thrawn concluded that Quesl was goading the Empire into attacking Botajef. Thrawn predicted that Quesl would repeat his challenge directly to the Chimaera in the presence of the Botajef Defense Force. Before Vanto returned to the bridge, Thrawn ordered him to summon Starfighter Commander Yve and Stormtrooper Commander Ayer.[1]

Vanto was at the bridge of the Chimaera when the Star Destroyer arrived at Botajef. In response, the Botajef Defense Force deployed two CR90 corvettes and several squadrons of V-19 Torrents. Eli also reported that Quesl had deployed three ground-based turbolaser clusters including a cluster of five turbolasers that were positioned around the governor's palace. Thrawn ordered TIE fighters to circle the corvettes and V-19s. When Governor Quesl issued his missive to Thrawn, Thrawn distracted him with a faux set of rules and demanded that he remove the turbolaser emplacements. As expected, Governor Quesl refused and goaded the Imperials further.[1]

In response, Thrawn dispatched a special unit of TIE fighters which destroyed the turbolasers but carefully spared the governor's palace. Eli watched the sortie unfold and did not notice that the Chimaera had drifted a significant distance to starboard towards the corvette above the palace, which turned out to be Governor Quesl' command ship. The Chimaera's movement startled Quesl and his crew aboard the corvette. Having ascertained Governor Quesl's location, Thrawn told the Governor that he had foiled his plot to destroy the palace and escape offworld with the treasures. When Quesl protested were still loyal to him, Thrawn pointed out that he had lost his legitimacy among the Jefies.[1]

With his conspiracy unmasked, Quesl reluctantly admitted he had planned to sell the Jefi art offworld. Eli listened as Thrawn explained that he had used his TIE fighters to startle Quesl in order to ascertain his location. With Quesl defeated, Thrawn ordered the Governor and his crew to surrender aboard the Chimaera and to return the artwork. He also announced that Quesl would be put on trial, the Jefies "enlightened," and a new Governor would be assigned to Botajef. In private, Thrawn confided with his command crew including Vanto that he had made up the Clone Wars-era treaty in order to distract Quesl. Thrawn also tasked Commander Vanto with contacting the Imperial High Command to inform them that the Botajef Uprising had been resolved.[1]

The Batonn insurgency[]

An errant mission[]

Following the pacification of Botajef, the now-Commander Vanto along the now-Admiral Thrawn, Colonel Yularen, and Governor Pryce attended a high-level meeting of Imperial admirals and governors chaired by Fleet Admiral Donassius to discuss the Batonn sector insurgency. On the planet Batonn, a group of insurgents had seized control of Scrim Island and taken a hundred hostages including Imperial Navy troopers, technicians, and several civilian workers. The insurgents controlled the island's deflector shield, its shoreline defenses, and three of its ion cannons. Admiral Thrawn was given command of the mission but insisted on studying the situation first instead of launching a swift attack. As a result, Fleet Admiral Donassius reassigned Thrawn's Ninety-Sixth Task Force to deal with rebel insurgents on Sammun and dispatched Admiral Durril to deal with the Scrim crisis.[1]

Following the meeting, Eli criticized Thrawn for antagonizing Imperial High Command. Thrawn however countered that Admiral Durril had a tendency to value speed over precision and predicted that Durril's assignment would end in failure. Eli realized that Thrawn intended to use Durril's failure to his advantage. Instead of traveling to Sammun, Thrawn gave Commander Faro command of the Ninety-Sixth Task Force while he and Eli infiltrated Batonn in the light freighter Slipknot, which the Empire had earlier seized from smugglers. While Eli was uncomfortable with circumventing Fleet Admiral Donassius' orders, Thrawn explained that Donassius had dispatched the Ninety-Sixth Task Force to deal with the Sammun insurgency and had not specifically mentioned them. Despite his misgivings, Eli accompanied his friend and commander on their errant mission.[1]

As they approached Batonn, Vanto and Thrawn observed Admiral Durril's One Oh Third Task Force in disarray. Durril's ships had been unable to disable the deflector shield and the ion cannons on Scrim. Durril's Imperial Star Destroyer Judicator and its escort ships were damaged by ground-based turbolasers. Amidst the fighting, Thrawn instructed Vanto to pose as the weapons smuggler "Horatio Figg" and contact a freighter that was flying away from Batonn. Vanto managed to contact the freighter's crew by feigning interest in the weapons they had stolen from an Imperial base. The crew responded that his boss was interested in talking and transmitted the Slipknot a series of coordinates.[1]

Eli wanted to help the Judicator but Thrawn urged him to follow the smugglers' instructions since they were unable to provide assistance to Admiral Durril's task force. While watching the battle, Vanto speculated that their "friend" in the freighter was unable to jump into hyperspace due to a faulty hyperdrive. When Thrawn suggested other possibilities, Vanto suggested that the freighter was monitoring the fighting or could be sending or receiving some last minute instructions. The two also monitored the movements of seven other freighters above Batonn and speculated that these were traveling to seven of the Batonn insurgents' other strongholds on the planet. While Captain Brento of the light cruiser Shyrack monitored the movements of the seven freighters, Vanto and Thrawn traveled to the coordinates given by the eighth freighter.[1]

Confronting Nightswan[]

Arriving at the smuggling ships' coordinates, Vanto contacted the smugglers on the freighter's comm and proposed dealing business with them. Following the smuggler's coordinates, they approached a Nomad, a large traveling ship and repair shop that dated back to the Clone Wars. Under Thrawn's instruction, Vanto donned a blaster-singed Imperial officer's tunic which Figg had purportedly stolen from an officer he had killed. Thrawn also equipped Vanto with an old remote and told him to press the tile closest to the center of his chest when the time came. For the mission, Eli brought a hold-out blaster that was hidden under his arm. While Thrawn hid aboard the freighter, Vanto landed the ship at a landing slot.[1]

When Eli met with the insurgents, he allowed them to search him. The insurgents discovered his Imperial Navy sidearm and brought him to the Shipmaster's compartment where he was greeted by Nevil Cygni, who identified himself as the elusive "Nightswan." Nightswan told Eli that he was aware that Admiral Thrawn had sent him to seek him out. Since his disguise had failed to fool Nightswan, Eli responded that he was expecting to be challenged but admitted that he did not expect to meet Cygni again. When Eli asked what Nightswan was doing with a bunch of "crazies," Nightswan responded that he was helping to bring about the fall of the "corrupt" Empire.[1]

Nightswan admitted that he had engineered the Scrim Island incident in order to kill Thrawn after failing to destroy him politically. Eli misled Nightswan into believing that Thrawn was commanding the ill-fated 103rd Task Force above. With Nightswan believing that he had finally laid a trap for Thrawn, Vanto flattered the insurgent leader in order to obtain information. Nightswan revealed that he had learn from one of his contacts that Thrawn had fought alongside the Jedi General Anakin Skywalker at the Thrugii asteroid belt during the Clone Wars. Shortly later, one of Nightswan's insurgents who was searching the freighter Slipknot discovered a radiation leak in the engine compartment. Eli realized that Thrawn was staging a diversion to escape.[1]

Shortly later, the engine compartment exploded. Realizing that Thrawn had given the signal, Eli pressed the innermost tile on his tunic, causing the hold-out blaster to explode. With Nightswan distracted, Eli fought his way back into the bay. With the insurgents distracted, Eli and Thrawn escaped aboard a stolen freighter. After reuniting aboard the cockpit, Eli asked Thrawn why they were stealing one of the insurgents' freighter instead of escaping on their own. Thrawn replied that he wanted to obtain navigational records of bases and supply lines from the ship's computer. Eli's meeting with Nightswan had merely been a distraction. Thrawn also confided that he had escaped the exploding Slipknot by ejecting in an escape pod.[1]

After returning to Batonn, Vanto learned that Thrawn had ordered Captain Bento to coordinate the remaining light cruisers in the 103rd Task Force to evacuate the Judicator with their tractor beams. With Admiral Durril discredited and other Imperial forces dealing with the insurgents on Sammun and Denash, Admiral Thrawn was tasked with neutralizing the rebel insurgents on Scrim Island.[1]

Victory on Scrim Island[]

Under Thrawn's command, the Ninety-Sixth Task Force converged above Scrim Island to pacify the insurgents. Prior to the assault, Commander Vanto chatted with Commander Faro and confirmed that he had spent his entire career serving under Thrawn. Faro complimented Eli for keeping Thrawn "sane" while serving under Imperial commanders who had been appointed to their posts because of their personal connections as opposed to their abilities. Faro also assured Vanto that Thrawn had been right that he was cut out to be more than a supply officer. Thrawn also reassured Commander Faro that Thrawn's plan would work and that the other command staff in the Ninety-Sixth Task Force would be able to follow them. While aboard the Chimaera, Eli was present when Admiral Thrawn ordered the light cruisers Shyrack, Flensor, and the Tumnor to enter Batonn's upper atmosphere and bombard Scrim Island.[1]

While the light cruisers engaged the three turbolasers, a hidden fourth turbolaser unleashed salvos that weakened the three ships. However, Thrawn had prepared for this and ordered the light cruisers to shift to their new assigned positions. With the insurgents' fourth turbolaser inoperative due to faulty supply parts, Thrawn repositioned the Chimaera behind the damaged Flensor. As this was taking place, Eli explained to Faro that the insurgent commander had figured out that if his ion cannons could not hit the Chimaera, the Chimaera could not disable his ion cannons. Eli also realized that Thrawn wanted to trick the insurgents into thinking they could fire their fourth turbolaser cannon once the Chimaera was in position.[1]

Since Thrawn had moved the cruisers and the Chimaera to a safe position in orbit, the insurgents' ion cannons were unable to hit their ships. As the Imperial ships entered Batonn's atmosphere, Thrawn ordered them to open fire on the oceans surrounding Scrim. This bombardment triggered a tsunami that hit the ion cannon, turbolaser emplacements, and shield generator, knocking them out of action. With their weapons and shield down, the insurgent leader on Scrim Island sues for peace. Thrawn orders Commander Vanto to inform Coruscant that Scrim Island has been retaken. Despite the victory, Thrawn warns Vanto and Faro that the Battle of Batonn has not yet been won.[1]

Dealing with Pryce and Yularen[]

During the first assault on Scrim Island, several insurgent freighters had fled to different locations on Batonn's main continent. Commander Vanto was able to identify their shipping vectors and tracked down their cargoes to the Creekpath Mining and Refining complex outside Paeragosto City on the continent. The Batonn insurgents had taken up shelter within the mining complex's fortified mine. In response, the Empire and their Batonn Defense Force allies lay siege to the complex. Vanto was present when Governor Pryce and Colonel Yularen arrived aboard the Chimaera. Since Pryce's parents lived in the Creekpath complex, she managed to persuade Yularen and Thrawn that she could assist the Empire by collecting intelligence on the insurgents' defenses and weapons setup. For the mission, Pryce would be accompanied by the ISB Agent Gudry, who would be spying on the insurgents under the pretext of finding a friend.[1]

Under Thrawn's orders, Vanto worked with Colonel Yularen on providing the frequencies and passwords that Pryce and Gudry needed. While heading to the hangar bay, Yularen instructed Eli to keep an encrypted ISB datacard isolated from the rest of the ship's computer system. Eli briefed Yularen about Thrawn's plan to deploy ground forces as soon as Pryce and her escort had found their way out. When the two were alone, Yularen questioned Eli whether Thrawn had set up the position of the Chimaera and the rest of the task force. When Vanto confirmed that this was the case, Yularen commented that the three light cruisers were positioned at the corners of an equilateral triangle nearly a 100 km across. Yularen feared that the ships were too far to assist each other.[1]

Vanto replied that the light cruisers were not fit for battle. Yularen likened the light cruisers to "bell-up turtles" that would be easy prey for an attack force. Eli responded that once the ships were repaired they would come in sequence and give the Chimaera enough time to turn its turbolasers towards one cruiser before the second was attacked. When Yularen questioned Thrawn's tactics, Eli reassured him that Thrawn knew what he was doing. Yularen also expressed concern that Thrawn was becoming obsessed with Nightswan. Eli responded that Thrawn was in his right mind and that he had the good of the Empire in mind. Before leaving, Yularen instructed Eli to keep an eye on the Admiral.[1]

On Batonn, Yularen found Thrawn after the Admiral had met with the insurgent leader Nightswan in a failed attempt to convince him to end the Batonn insurgency by offering him a place with the Chiss Ascendancy. Using the information he had acquired from Eli about Thrawn's tactics, Yularen questioned Thrawn about the positions of his ships. Thrawn reassured Yularen that the light cruisers' hyperdrives were still working, based on what Vanto had deduced from the repair logs. Thrawn also reassured Yularen that the light cruisers were not vulnerable and hinted that he had set a trap for any attackers.[1]

Thrawn's "Belly-up Turtles"[]

In Thrawn's absence, Commander Vanto estimated that thirty armed mid-sized insurgent ships had escaped Denash and were hiding in the Batonn system. Eli reported his findings to Commander Faro, who deployed the Chimaera's TIE fighters above the planet. After Thrawn returned, the Admiral ordered the Chimaera to descend into Batonn's atmosphere so that they could bombard the insurgent stronghold once Gudry had deactivated the shields. As the Chimaera descended into Batonn's atmosphere, thirty insurgent ships approached the cruisers in three vectors. While Eli was startled, he maintained his composure and trusted Thrawn's leadership. When Thrawn remarked that his tactics would now face the test of battle, Eli asked whether they were going to die.[1]

The Chimaera and the cruisers fire on the insurgent ships

When Thrawn ordered Senior Lieutenant Lomar to inform the cruisers to detach from their repair barges, Eli expressed surprise since he had thought that Thrawn had planned to order them to jump into hyperspace before they could open fire. Thrawn replied that he had used the light cruisers to mislead Nightswan. After the drone barges had pulled away from the light cruisers, Vanto and the others watched as the barges deployed three squadrons of TIE fighters. The TIE fighters ambushed the attacking insurgent ships. When Vanto asked where the TIE fighters had come from, Thrawn replied that Admiral Durril had loaned the Judicator's TIE fighters. Eli watched as the TIE fighters and Chimaera's turbolasers wiped out the insurgent fleet.[1]

The Imperial victory was however soured by news that an explosion had destroyed both the insurgents' stronghold and many civilian homes. While Eli and the other Imperials believed that the insurgents had blown themselves up in a suicidal last stand, Pryce had in fact been responsible for the explosion. She had detonated Gudry's explosives in order to cover up his murder. Pryce had killed Gudry after he refused to evacuate her parents Talmoor and Elainye Pryce. Eli was present when Thrawn ordered Imperial forces to search and rescue survivors. Thrawn also gave orders for the Imperial forces to allow the fleeing insurgent ships to escape but to destroy those that wanted to fight.[1]

Emissary to the Chiss[]

"It is said that one should keep one's allies within view, and one's enemies within reach. A valid statement. One must be able to read an ally's strengths, so as to determine how to best use them. One must similarly be able to read his enemy's weaknesses, so as to determine how to best defeat him. But what of friends? There is no accepted answer, perhaps because true friendship is so exceedingly rare. But I had formulated my own. A friend need not be kept within sight or within reach. A friend must be allowed the freedom to find and follow his own path. If one is fortunate, those paths will for a time join. But if paths separate, it is comforting to know that a friend still graces the universe with his skills, and his viewpoint, and his presence. For if one is remembered by a friend, one is never truly gone."
―Thrawn, on Eli Vanto[1]

Following the defeat of the Batonn insurgency, Admiral Thrawn spoke with Commander Vanto after his meeting with Governor Pryce. When Thrawn revealed that Pryce had offered up her services as his adviser on political matters, Vanto opined that Pryce was unsuitable for the job and asked about her role in the Creekpath bombing. Despite her denials, Thrawn believed that Pryce bore some responsibility for the disaster, which had killed many civilians. While the two agreed that they had insufficient evidence to prove Pryce's guilt, Thrawn remarked that there was "often a symmetry to things." Since Thrawn had been invited to Coruscant over his success in suppressing the Batonn insurgents, Vanto advised his mentor to smile and act gracefully. After exchanging pleasantries, Vanto headed to Batonn to salvage data from the Creekpath site.[1]

Vanto is greeted by Admiral Ar'alani.

During a meeting with the Emperor, Thrawn was promoted to the rank of Grand Admiral and was introduced to Darth Vader. Understanding Vanto's potential and talents, Grand Admiral Thrawn dispatched the promising Commander into the Unknown Regions to serve as an Imperial liaison to the Chiss Ascendancy, who had never truly exiled Thrawn. It had been a ruse so he could establish contact with the Empire with the full blessing of the ascendancy, so as to see whether the government could be a suitable ally against great threats. If the Empire had not proved to be an ally, Thrawn would have tried to collapse it into an easier foe the threats would attack first. While traveling through hyperspace to the coordinates, Vanto read through Thrawn's journal, which Thrawn had given to him as a token of their friendship. Upon arriving at the coordinates provided by Thrawn, he sighted a large alien ship. Vanto was contacted on the comm screen by Admiral Ar'alani of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Fleet. Vanto identified himself and told her that Mitth'raw'nuruodo had sent him because he believed that he could help the Chiss Ascendancy. Ar'alani welcomed Eli to the Chiss Ascendancy.[1]

Vanto's sudden and unexplained departure from the fleet caused rumors on board the Chimaera. When the ship was sent to investigate a disturbance in the Force centered around Batuu, Faro, who had been promoted to a Commodore only six weeks earlier, wondered how Vanto's absence was going to affect her future.[5] Faro did ask Thrawn what had happened to Vanto, and, while her commanding officer had given a polite enough answer, she left their conversation understanding that she was to never ask about him again.[4]

Reuniting with Thrawn[]

Vanto and his commanding officer in the Chiss Ascendancy, Admiral Ar'alani.

Vanto, who had been demoted to the rank of lieutenant upon joining the Chiss, had been tasked with shifting through various numbers, which he incorrectly suspected to merely be busywork. He later returned to Imperial space when the Steadfast was on the trail of forces of the Grysk Hegemony. During this time, Vanto reunited with Thrawn, though he was disappointed his former officer greeted him with a formality instead of something more personal, and participated in the mission to Aloxor. Prior to their battle against a Grysk warship, Vah'nya, a Force-sensitive navigator whom Vanto knew, told him of the danger of the Grysks, explaining that a few were able to twist the minds of billions to their will. Unwilling to live through this fate, Vah'nya made Vanto promise to kill her and her fellow navigators if the Steadfast lost the battle.[4]

After the defeat of the Grysk forces, Vanto confessed his promise to kill the navigators after being asked to by Admiral Ar'alani, but she did not punish him. Instead, she told him the numbers the Ascendancy had tasked him with working on were actually codified facts about the Ozyly-esehembo, the Force sensitive navigators. This taught Vanto why Thrawn had sent him to join the Ascendancy. He received a promotion to the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was tasked with giving an orientation to Brierly Ronan, who Thrawn sent to join the Chiss to help in the coming war against the Grysks.[4]

Personality and traits[]

"She said you don't stand on either edge, but act only for the whole Ascendancy"
Navigator Un'hee, on Vanto's loyalty to the Chiss Ascendancy[4]

Eli Vanto

Growing up in the Wild Space frontier region, Eli Vanto was raised by his parents on legends of the blue-skinned Chiss species. While Vanto initially accepted his destiny of becoming a supply officer in the Imperial Navy, the Chiss warrior Thrawn realized that Vanto had the talents and potential to become an able commander. While the young Vanto was initially wary of serving as Thrawn's translator and aide due to his childhood perceptions of the Chiss as fearsome warriors, the two men came to respect each other as friends and comrades in the service of the Galactic Empire. Vanto came to regard Thrawn as his mentor while Thrawn regarded Eli as one of the few loyal and trustworthy allies he could confide in.[1]

By the time before Thrawn offered him a position in the Chiss Ascendancy, Vanto dared to view his commanding officer as almost a friend.[4] Similarly, Thrawn gifted Vanto his journal, an entry of which spoke of friendship and letting friends go on their own paths, like how the two were parting ways.[1] Still, during his time with the Chiss, Vanto did not know how Thrawn viewed him and was unsure if his former officer even had friends. At one point during the time when he reunited with Thrawn, after the Grand Admiral complimented a deduction he made, Vanto savored the "warm glow" he felt from the compliment.[4]

While Vanto was loyal to the Galactic Empire, he was not blind to the Empire's flaws and shortcomings. Vanto recognized that the Imperial establishment was xenophobic towards alien species and that it privileged Core Worlders over the inhabitants of the frontier regions. Vanto objected to the enslavement of Wookiees on moral grounds and doubted Thrawn's rationalization that they were indentured workers. Due to his close association with Thrawn and his Wild Space origins, Vanto was continually overlooked for promotion by Imperial High Command. Eli's loyalty to his friend Thrawn led him to rebuff a lucrative job offer from Moff Ghadi's aide Culper despite threats that his career would be derailed. Despite his frustrations, Vanto's services was eventually acknowledged and he was subsequently promoted to the ranks of Lieutenant Commander and Commander.[1]

During his Imperial Navy service, Vanto came to appreciate Thrawn's unorthodox tactics and tendency to defy Imperial military protocol. Occasionally, Eli acted as voice of caution in instances when Thrawn "threaded on the toes" of the Imperial military hierarchy. While Vanto participated in the Empire's counterinsurgency efforts against the growing rebellion, he did not use excessive force or violence.[1]

During his service to the Chiss Ascendancy, the Chiss parsed the name "Eli Vanto" as "Eli'van'to", bestowing on the human the core name of "Ivant".[4] Despite "Eli" corresponding to the part of a Chiss name that would indicate membership in a Chiss family[6]in this case, a non-existent "Eli family"—Vanto was regarded as belonging to the Chiss Ascendancy, rather than any particular Chiss family. As such, the shoulder patch of Vanto's Fleet uniform bore the insignia of the Ascendancy rather than any one Chiss family.[4] In belonging to the "family" of the Ascendancy rather than any one Chiss family, Vanto was similar to the ozyly-esehembo and flag officers of the Ascendancy.[6]

Vanto was friendly with the sky-walker Vah'nya, one of the few Chiss who referred to him as "Eli" rather than "Ivant". Vanto displayed signs of non-platonic feelings for Vah'nya, but he did not pursue these as he did not want to find out what punishment there might be for "fraternizing" with comrades in the Expansionary Defense Fleet.[4]

Skills and abilities[]

"What's excellent?"
"Your growing aptitude for the art of tactics."
―Thrawn and Eli Vanto[1]

Since his family was involved in shipping and trading, Eli was familiar with starship systems. He was also fluent in both Galactic Basic Standard and the Sy Bisti trade language. As an Imperial Navy officer, Vanto was well versed in Imperial military protocol and tactics. He was also competent at unarmed combat and fought against Nightswan's insurgents in at least two occasions. At Thrawn's request, Vanto used his investigative skills to investigate the Empire's expropriation of large amounts of doonium and other precious metals. Due to Vanto's efforts, Thrawn discovered that the Empire was building a superweapon known as the Death Star.[1]

Due to his training to be a supply specialist, Vanto was also able to understand numbers. He later attributed this to possibly be the reason he and Thrawn had worked so well together, as he understood numbers like no one else, and Thrawn understood art like no one else. During his time under Thrawn, Vanto also came to understand military tactics.[1]

Behind the scenes[]

Eli Vanto first appeared as the deuteragonist of Timothy Zahn's 2017 novel Thrawn which serves as a canonical origin story of the titular character.[1] During an interview published on StarWars.com, Zahn described Eli as a character whose chosen track had been disrupted by Thrawn's entry into his life. Zahn characterized the novel as a journey for Eli and Thrawn, with the former coming to terms with his distrust, resentments, and apprehensions of the latter.[7]

Vanto was first pictured in Thrawn 1,[3] which was released on February 14, 2018 and the first issue of the comic adaption of the Thrawn novel.[8] Vanto also returned in the third book in the Star Wars: Thrawn series, Thrawn: Treason, and his middle initial—N— was revealed in the book.[4]


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Notes and references[]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 1.17 1.18 1.19 1.20 1.21 1.22 1.23 1.24 1.25 1.26 1.27 1.28 1.29 1.30 1.31 1.32 1.33 1.34 1.35 1.36 1.37 1.38 1.39 1.40 1.41 1.42 1.43 1.44 1.45 1.46 1.47 1.48 1.49 1.50 1.51 1.52 1.53 1.54 1.55 1.56 1.57 1.58 1.59 1.60 1.61 1.62 1.63 1.64 1.65 1.66 1.67 1.68 1.69 1.70 1.71 1.72 1.73 1.74 1.75 1.76 1.77 1.78 1.79 1.80 1.81 1.82 1.83 1.84 1.85 1.86 1.87 1.88 1.89 Thrawn
  2. The novel Thrawn begins in 16 BBY, per the reasoning here. Thrawn establishes that Eli Vanto is in his final year of training at the Myomar Academy. The novel Lost Stars establishes that Imperial Academies typically last for three years, meaning Vanto likely began his studies in 18 BBY. Star Wars: Rogue One: The Ultimate Visual Guide states that the youngest Imperial Academies begin training Cadets is "13 standard years of age." It's not stated whether Vanto attended a Junior Academy (like the one attended by Ezra Bridger and Zare Leonis) that lasts one extra year, but it seems unlikely due to the Empire only recently being established. Therefore, Vanto must have been born at least in 32 BBY, thirteen years before he likely began his studies.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Thrawn 1
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 Thrawn: Treason
  5. Thrawn: Alliances
  6. 6.0 6.1 Thrawn Ascendancy: Chaos Rising
  7. StarWars.com Timothy Zahn on His Novel Thrawn, How to Pronounce the Grand Admiral's Full Name, and More on StarWars.com (backup link)
  8. MarvelLogo.svg Star Wars: Thrawn (2018) #1 on Marvel Comics' official website (backup link)