This article is about a Shadow Empire created by Thrawn. For more uses of Hand, see Hand disambiguation.
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"The Empire that Senior Captain Thrawn is carving into the evil that pervades our worlds is not the Empire you chose to leave. His is an Empire of justice and dignity for all beings. His Empire is one we gladly serve. One we are willing to die for."
Vaantaar describing the Empire of the Hand in 0 ABY[4]

The Empire of the Hand, also referred to as the Hand or just the Empire, was an martial confederacy located in the galaxy's Unknown Regions. Founded as a secret collaboration to explore and pacify the Unknown Regions between Galactic Emperor Palpatine and Chiss Grand Admiral Thrawn, established the Empire of the Hand as the Imperial presence in those yet unexplored territories, with Thrawn commandering efforts to map great swathes of territory and bring security to the Unknown Regions as well as overseeing colonization efforts and developing a network of alliances with native species, and sought to protect it from the many and varied threats residing there.

After the Galactic Empire fragmented and spiralled into chaos after the Battle of Endor, which saw the death of Palpatine and the subsequent breakdown of the Galactic Empire under rival warlords, the Empire of the Hand lost contact with the Empire. At some point the Hand became powerful enough to open preventive strikes on the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium, and established strongholds against other more dire threats in the Unknown Regions. The Hand was also able to finally defeat and killed the warlord Nuso Esva and his forces at the battle of Quethold. With the threats in the Unknown Region seemingly quiet, the Grand Admiral decided the time had come to return to the former Galactic Empire.

Under the leadership of Admiral Voss Parck, a select group of top Imperial officers, including General Soontir Fel and Commander Stent, and a cadre of Thrawn-loyal Chiss upheld Thrawn's vision and believed he would return to them ten years after his announced death. The Hand were informed by the New Jedi Order that Thrawn was indeed dead and allowed the clone of Thrawn to be destroyed, with the Jedi agreeing to keep the Hand existence a secret. However with the clone gone, the Hand lost its designated heir and consequently its legitimacy. However the Hand assisted the Chiss Ascendancy and the New Republic against a third Vagaari and began expanding into Wild Space.

During the Yuuzhan Vong War, General Soontir Fel appeared to be the leader of the Hand and sent Force Spike, a division of the Household Phalanx, to help the Imperial Remnant and New Republic. But the Hand seemed to disappear sometime during the late stages of the Yuuzhan Vong War. However the Empire of the Hand had ultimately survived, far from the notice of the galaxy at large. Although rumors persisted that the Hand had either collapsed or been absorbed by another power, Imperial Head of State Jagged Fel discovered that the Hand was still an active but kept the secret of the Hand's survival to himself for security purposes.



"There's an invasion coming. A massive assault force of dark ships, shadowy figures, and weapons of great power, based on organic technology of a sort we've never seen before."
Kinman Doriana, to Thrawn[5]

Mitth'raw'nuruodo confers with Darth Sidious.

Thrawn made his first contact with the Dark Lord of the Sith Darth Sidious—the Sith persona of Supreme Chancellor Palpatine of the Galactic Republic—in 27 BBY, at the time of the destruction of the Outbound Flight. The Sith Lord and the Chiss Commander agreed with the idea that an unknown and powerful threat was rising in the Unknown Regions.[5]

Soon after the Declaration of a New Order, Captain Voss Parck of the Victory-class Star Destroyer Strikefast discovered Thrawn in exile on a remote planetoid in the Unknown Regions. Thrawn insisted he return to his people to protect them, but was convinced by Parck that by offering his service to the Galactic Empire, he would be better equipped to do so. Thrawn was convinced by Parck's reasoning and accompanied him to Coruscant.[6]

Upon reaching the Imperial Capital, Thrawn formally met Emperor Palpatine in person. Impressed by the Chiss, Palpatine decided to have Thrawn trained as an Imperial officer. After rising through ranks of the Imperial Military and sharing many ideas with the Emperor about the Unknown Regions, Thrawn was tasked with a mission to explore and pacify those as yet unexplored territories.[7] However, in order to keep the true purpose of the mission secret, and because there was still resentment among the Imperial hierarchy about the heights to which the non-human Thrawn had risen, his assignment was disguised as an undermanned cartography mission, a seeming exile as punishment for his involvement with the losing side in one of the Imperial Court's petty feuds. In truth, the Emperor provided Thrawn with an enormous supply of ships and manpower.[1]

Formation and expansion[]

"Are you saying that Thrawn and Palpatine had the whole thing planned out from the beginning?"
"Of course they did. Just look at all the territory he opened up. He couldn't possibly have done that by himself, with just a single Star Destroyer. Palpatine must have been feeding him men and ships all along the way."
Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade[1]

Using the vast resources of the Imperial Navy, Thrawn mapped great swaths of territory in the name of the Galactic Empire.[7] Voss Parck and Dagon Niriz, the commanders of his flagship, the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Admonitor, were assigned to serve under Thrawn during his mission of exploration and conquest. Both men eventually became Thrawn's greatest supporters and were the first Imperial officers to join the Empire of the Hand.[8]

The Imperial Star Destroyer Admonitor, Thrawn's flagship.

Thrawn also reestablished contact with the Chiss. Much of Thrawn's own people flocked to his banner because they had been battling many dark threats from the Unknown Regions, and looked to Thrawn as a new source of hope for the Chiss.[7] However, the Empire of the Hand was viewed with distrust by the Ruling Families of the Chiss Ascendancy, who still considered Thrawn an outcast from Chiss society, especially after his infamous campaign.[1] But agreeing with Thrawn's vision, many Chiss aristocrats unofficially supported Thrawn's renegade actions.[9]

In 10 BBY, Thrawn built a vast information complex on Nirauan, the Hand of Thrawn, and made it his base of operations.[3]

In 2 ABY, Thrawn defeated a group of Ebruchi pirates and captured their leader Creysis. Though he went through great lengths to avoid capture, Creysis ultimately underestimated Thrawn. Creysis was captured when a tracking device led the Chiss Admiral to his base, where Imperial forces easily overwhelmed the pirates and apprehended its leader.[8]


"So Thrawn went into private military training and eventually rose to the highest rank the Empire could offer him. And then, what, arranged to have himself sent back here so he could make the Chiss ruling families pay for what they'd done to him?""
"Certainly not. The Chiss are his people, Mara. He has no interest in hurting them. Quite the contrary. He came back here to protect them."
Mara Jade and Voss Parck[1]

501st Unit Aurek-Seven on Kariek.

Two years later, just after the Battle of Endor, the Ssi-ruuk launched a series of incursions into the known galaxy, as well as near Chiss Space. Thrawn responded with preventive strikes on the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium. Nevertheless, the Ssi-ruuk attacked several minor Chiss worlds, capturing several Chiss as entechment subjects. Ultimately, their aggressive actions incurred the wrath of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force, which retaliated with a devastating counter-attack on Ssi-ruuvi space. As a result of the Chiss's military strikes against the aggressors, the Alliance to Restore the Republic was able to defeat the Ssi-ruuk more easily.[10][9]

The assassination of Thrawn

In 9 ABY, Grand Admiral Thrawn returned to the known galaxy and launched a massive and brilliant campaign against the New Republic. But despite his genius, Thrawn was betrayed and killed at the Battle of Bilbringi.[11]

Thrawn had left his Empire behind under the leadership of Admiral Voss Parck. Parck, a select group of top Imperial officers, including General Soontir Fel and Commander Stent, and a cadre of Thrawn-loyal Chiss were given the responsibility of upholding Thrawn's vision and expanding his empire. None of them believed that the Grand Admiral was truly dead, having been told it was another of Thrawn's strategies, as he said he would return to them ten years after his announced death.[1]


"Many years ago Thrawn told us that if he was ever reported dead we should keep at our labors here and in the Unknown Regions, and to look for his return ten years afterward."
Voss Parck[1]

Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade in the Hand of Thrawn

During the Caamas Document Crisis, the Empire of the Hand was discovered by Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade when they were searching for the source of the clones and mysterious starfighters that had suddenly appeared. They found the Hand of Thrawn and met Parck, Fel and Stent, still waiting for Grand Admiral Thrawn's return.[1] Luke and Mara informed them of Thrawn's death. The Jedi refused to join them but accepted to not reveal the existence of this shadow empire. They found an almost mature clone of Thrawn and a map of the Empire of the Hand. They decided that the clone had done nothing wrong yet so they wouldn't destroy it, but when two defense droids attacked them, they involuntarily destroyed the clone to escape. Before they did, R2-D2 managed to download an unaltered copy of the Caamas Document.[1] Following this, Cavrilhu Pirates, who were following Skywalker and Jade, attacked the Hand of Thrawn. The Hand's forces retreated, and the base was repaired and in use again by 22 ABY.

In 22 ABY, the Empire of the Hand was involved in a local conflict on the planet Kariek. Stormtroopers of the 501st Legion were dispatched to overthrow a warlord who had invaded and conquered Kariek, where he established a tyrannical regime.[12]

In the same year, the Empire assisted the Chiss Ascendancy and the New Republic against a third Vagaari invasion. The Vagaari were defeated in the Chiss Redoubt by the Chiss, the Jedi and the Empire. In the aftermath of the battle, many of the surviving colonists from Outbound Flight chose to join the Empire of the Hand.[13]

Yuuzhan Vong War[]

"There are a hundred different threats out there that would freeze your blood if you knew about them."
Stent to Mara Jade[1]

After the death of Thrawn's clone, the Empire of the Hand lost its designated heir and consequently its legitimacy.[2]

During the Yuuzhan Vong War, General Soontir Fel appeared to be the leader of the Hand. Admiral Parck's fate is unknown. Fel sent Force Spike, a division of the Household Phalanx, to help the Imperial Remnant and New Republic. This force was commanded by his son, Colonel Jagged Fel. This group would stay in the known galaxy fighting the Vong for several years.


The Empire of the Hand seemed to disappear sometime during the late Yuuzhan Vong War.[3] The Jedi believed that the Killiks destroyed it, while the Chiss claimed that it was merely absorbed either by the Imperial Remnant or the Chiss Ascendancy itself. However, remarks made by Aristocra Chaf'orm'bintrano shortly before the Swarm War suggested that the Empire of the Hand was simply disbanded. That being said, Formbi was affiliated with the Hand, and therefore may have known that it had survived. Many of the Hand's officers, such as the Fels, joined the Ascendancy.


"You're being granted an honor, Admiral. You're the first to behold a secret finally come to light. You're looking at the vanguard of the Empire of the Hand."
―Jagged Fel, to Natasi Daala[14]

Despite their absence in the years following the Yuuzhan Vong War, the Empire of the Hand had ultimately survived, far from the notice of the galaxy at large. Although rumors persisted that the Hand had either collapsed or been absorbed by the Chiss Ascendancy, Jagged Fel discovered that the Hand was still an active state. It is unknown who was in command of the Hand at this point. As Head of State of the Imperial Remnant, Fel kept the secret of the Hand's survival to himself for security purposes.[14]

Natasi Daala, the deposed Chief of State of the Galactic Alliance and admiral of the Maw Irregular Fleet developed a plot to seize control of the Remnant. With his position threatened by Daala's ambition to become Empress, Fel mobilized a fleet of loyal supporters and moved to destroy Daala and her subversives with a preemptive strike at Exodo II. At the same time, he requested aid from the Empire of the Hand, which dispatched a vanguard of three Chiss Star Destroyers to aid the Remnant and its leader. After converging on Daala's position, a battle commenced to determine the future of the Imperial Remnant.[14]


Many of its political and social values gradually infiltrated the Imperial Remnant, thanks in part to the leadership of Gilad Pellaeon, a former follower of Thrawn, as well as Jagged Fel, a warrior of the Hand who went on to be Emperor of the Remnant.[7] The recruitment of aliens and female Humans into the Imperial Military's ranks, as well as the decrease in xenophobic behavior, continued as the Remnant steadily reemerged as a resurgent Empire by 130 ABY.[15]



"And you accept nonhumans into your ranks?"
"As long as your world is a member of the Empire of the Hand, you're eligible."
Su-mil and Twister[12]

Thrawn, founder and first leader of the Empire of the Hand

The Empire of the Hand composed of native species that Grand Admiral Thrawn founded in the Unknown Regions that adopted the order and efficiency of Emperor Palpatine's New Order, but without the Emperor's megalomania, the Tarkin Doctrine, and the institutionalized xenophobia.[3] It captial was located in the Hand of Thrawn, the Grand Admiral's main fortress based on Nirauan.[1]

Though largely ruled by a set of military chiefs, the Empire of the Hand operated more like a confederacy and worked to form alliances with the native governments within the Unknown Regions as opposed to conquering them through brute force and allowed them self rule under the Hand protection. Also unlike the Galactic Empire, the Hand accepted the alien races that lived in the Unknown Regions of space into the ranks of their military. The connection between the Galactic Empire and the Empire of the Hand was kept mainly for historical aspects, but also for the psychological value as well.[13]


"You've met Thrawn. Any true warrior would have given up whatever was necessary for the chance to serve under him."
―Voss Parck, to Mara Jade[1]

A Nssis-class Clawcraft

The Empire of the Hand's military ethics were based on Thrawn's vision of war. It was an original combination of Chiss and Imperial tactics personally arranged by the Grand Admiral, such as respect of the enemies, careful consideration of soldiers' lives, surgical strikes, demonstrative invasions, preventive strikes and the significant use of intelligence gathering.[12]

The Hand of Judgement, an elite squad of five Stormtrooper deserters.

At some point, Thrawn became a Syndic within Chiss society. With his new-found title, he created his own House Phalanx, a typical Chiss paramilitary organization.[1] Although the creation of a personal warrior retinue did not make Thrawn more respectable amongst his own people, it enabled him to recruit many Chiss sympathizers who could publicly voice their support for him. The paramilitary organization also had Phalanx soldiers, and commandos which were the elite among the elite.[16]

The Hand held Imperial-class Star Destroyers, Victory-class Star Destroyers,[17] Immobilizer 418 cruisers[18] and many more. TIE/LN starfighters, TIE/sa bombers, TIE/IN interceptors, and TIE/sr starfighters[19] were used as well. Zeta-class long-range shuttles,[19] Lambda-class T-4a shuttles served as primary transports for the Hand's forces. Strike-class medium cruisers, and Carrack-class light cruisers were used as well. Golan space defense platforms also made its use with the Hand.[4] All Terrain Armored Transports, All Terrain Scout Transports, Imperial Juggernauts, Swoops,[20] and Imperial Troop Carriers were used by the Hand for support of its ground forces.[12]


With the combined technologies of the Galactic Empire, and the Chiss, the Hand was able to develop new fighters. These would be called Nssis-class Clawcraft.

The maser, a strong and powerful kinetic energy was developed as well.

A-Racks were also developed, they served as trooper carriers. They carried up to a total of ten troopers.

When Thrawn discovered the cloning cylinders on Wayland, he sent many of them to the Hand. On a frozen moon within the Unknown Regions, Thrawn authorized a project before his death, which involved making Sith-Jedi like warriors using deceased DNA of Jedi and Sith.

Map of the Empire of the Hand during the Thrawn campaign


"There probably aren't more than a few actual colonies out there. But you can bet there are Imperial garrisons scattered all over the place, plus intel centers and listening posts and probably a few full-blown shipyards. And if I know Thrawn, probably a whole network of alliances with the natives, too."
Mara Jade to Luke Skywalker[1]

The Empire of the Hand explored the Unknown Regions more than anyone else before him. During his expedition, it established laboratories, military installations, intel centers, listening posts, garrison bases, and shipyards. In 19 ABY, the Empire of the Hand stretched across the equivalent of 250 sectors, as opposed to the Imperial Remnant's 8 sectors. Its capital was Nirauan. It was speculated that there were few Imperial colonies in the Hand, but it is likely that the local species would colonize neighboring planets.[1]

In 22 ABY, the Wild Space system Kariek joined the Empire of the Hand, meaning that the Hand was not exclusive to the Unknown Regions at this point.[12]



Notes and references[]

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