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[src]

The Empire of the Hand, also referred to as The Hand or just the Empire, was an autocratic confederation secretly established in the galaxy’s Unknown Regions. The main objective of the Hand was to defend the galaxy from various threats within the Unknown Regions, including extra-galactic invaders.

Originally just a extension of the Galactic Empire by Grand Admiral Thrawn, who had organized an expedition to explore, map and pacify the Unknown Regions in the name of the Galactic Empire. This was made possible with the support of Emperor Palpatine, who gave resources and manpower to support Thrawn territories.

The Empire of the Hand lost the support of the Galactic Empire following its defeat over Endor, the Hand become heavily characterised by the harshness of the Unknown Regions, and had oriented towards Chiss rather than Imperial culture while combining Chiss and Imperial ideologies together. As a result, non-Human aliens were permitted to enter military service.

History[edit | edit source]

Origins[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

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.[3]

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.[4]

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.[5] 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.[6]

Formation and expansion[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

Using the vast resources of the Imperial Navy, Thrawn mapped great swaths of territory in the name of the Galactic Empire.[5] 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

The Imperial Star Destroyer Admonitor, Thrawn's flagship.

became Thrawn's greatest supporters and were the first Imperial officers to join the Empire of the Hand.[7]

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.[5] 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.[6] But agreeing with Thrawn's vision, many Chiss aristocrats unofficially supported Thrawn's renegade actions.[8]

In 10 BBY, Thrawn built a vast information complex on Nirauan, the Hand of Thrawn, and made it his base of operations.[2]

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.[7]

Diverging[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

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.[9][8]

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.[10]

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.[6]

Post-Thrawn[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

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.[6] 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.[6] 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.[11]

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.[12]

Yuuzhan Vong War[edit | edit source]

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

After the death of Thrawn's clone, the Empire of the Hand lost its designated heir and consequently its legitimacy.[1]

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.

Disappearance[edit | edit source]

The Empire of the Hand seemed to disappear sometime during the late Yuuzhan Vong War.[2] 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.

Return[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

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.[13]

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.[13]

Government and Politics[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

The Empire of the Hand was a hybrid Chiss-Imperial state that Grand Admiral Thrawn founded in the Unknown Regions by combining Chiss and Imperial ideologies and weaponry into a new military and political force. Thrawn's empire was intended to establish the order and efficiency of Emperor Palpatine's New Order, but without the Emperor's megalomania, the Tarkin Doctrine, and the institutionalized xenophobia.[2]

Thrawn, founder of the Empire of the Hand

The Empire of the Hand drew its name from the Hand of Thrawn, the Grand Admiral's main fortress based on Nirauan.[6] Though largely based on the authoritarian structure of the Galactic Empire, the government of the Empire of the Hand operated more like a confederation than a true empire. The Hand worked to form alliances with the native governments within the Unknown Regions as opposed to conquering them through brute force. Also unlike the 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.[12]

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.[11]

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.[5] 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.[14]

Military[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

A Nssis-class Clawcraft

With the vast military resources of the Imperial Navy, The Empire of the Hand held Imperial-class Star Destroyers, Victory-class Star Destroyers,[15] Immobilizer 418 cruisers[16] and many more. TIE/LN starfighters, TIE/sa bombers, TIE/IN interceptors, and TIE/sr starfighters[17] were used as well. Zeta-class long-range shuttles,[17] 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.[18]

All Terrain Armored Transports, All Terrain Scout Transports, Imperial Juggernauts, Swoops,[19] and Imperial Troop Carriers[11] were used by the Hand for support of its ground forces.

Imperial Intelligence kept many of its agents, spies, and assassins on Nirauan, located within the Hand of Thrawn. Many of these agents were Chiss. Many of the garrison bases established by Thrawn, comprised of stormtroopers, walkers, and starfighters. Stormtroopers within service to the Hand, utilized stun grenades and thermal detonators.

Thrawn helped gain many support and help from many species of the Unknowns, a well known group of beings were the Troukree, which joined the Hand after their homeworld was threatened by walord Nuso Esva.

After the Battle of Endor, much of these Imperial resources and warships would eventually head back to the Imperial Center, due to the critical defense it was in. This, was beyond Thrawn's control.

With many Chiss defecting from the Chiss Ascendancy, some of the defectors stole Chiss Star Destroyers, among other ships, these battleships would be used by the Hand. Despite the disdain of the Ruling Families for Thrawn, the Chiss constituted the bulk of the Empire of the Hand forces. These forces comprised of Chiss commandos, and Chiss soldiers. AirStraekers, a type of Chiss starfighter, were used as well.

Many regular soldiers were given stormtrooper armor to promote order amongst the Empire of the Hand's citizenry. Traditional, elite stormtroopers remained, but were relatively rare. Unlike the Galactic Empire, the Empire of the Hand allowed and encouraged aliens of all its worlds to join their ranks either as pilots, soldiers or stormtroopers.

The Hand had many task forces, and elite units. The 501st Legion was also notably found in the Hand, it was led by the Hand of Judgment who were five stormtrooper deserters that were recruited by Thrawn. 501st legion was not just human, but also other various alien species, including Stromma and Eickaries. Gray Squadron and Specter Squadron were a notable starfighter squadrons that served underneath the Hand. Task Force Admonitor, was the personal force for Thrawn. It was led by the Hand's notable flagship the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Admonitor, hence, the name of the force.

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

The Nssis-class Clawcraft was the better example of successful collaboration between Chiss and Imperial engineers. Clawcraft could be part of a fleet-arm, which was a squadron lead by a commander. Chak Fel led a fleet-arm during his life. A-racks served as trooper carriers for the Hand as well, and were made by the engineers.

By 19 ABY, pilots from the Household Phalanx were using long-range scout vessels combining TIE cockpits and drives with alien technology in a manner similar to these Chiss-Imperial Clawcraft.

Maser technology was used by the Hand, it was blue kinetic energy that delivered a powerful, devastating blast.

During the rule of Palpatine's Empire on the galaxy, Thrawn also tried to attract the best elements of the Empire to the Empire of the Hand. Within the Empire, Thrawn selected military officers, scientists, and many others to join the Hand. Thrawn would select Baron Soontir Fel, an elite starfighter pilot, who was suppose to be executed by Director Ysanne Isard.

House Phalanx[edit | edit source]

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.[6] 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.[20]

Science[edit | edit source]

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

Astrography[edit | edit source]

"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[src]

Thrawn explored the Unknown Regions more than anyone else before him. During his expedition, Thrawn established laboratories, military installations, intel centers, listening posts, garrison bases, and shipyards.

During Thrawn's domination and conquest within the Unknown Regions, his flagship, the Imperial I-class Star Destroyer Admonitor served as a mobile base for the Hand.

Thrawn made use of sleeper cells, which were scattered across the galaxy, and the Unknown Regions. Much of the intelligence came from these agents.

Mara Jade speculated that there were few Imperial colonies in the Hand, but it is likely that the local species would colonize neighboring planets.

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.[6]

The planet Rhigar, in the Rata Nebula, was a secret location for the Hand, holding the Syndic Mitth'raw'nuruodo Training Academy. This planet was publicly affiliated with the Chiss Ascendancy, but appears to have answerd to the Hand in practice.

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.[11]

In 41 ABY, Jedi Knight Jaden Korr was led to a secret Imperial research facility located on a frozen moon were he discovered that Thrawn authorized before his death, creation of clone force-users.[21]

Appearances[edit | edit source]

Sources[edit | edit source]

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

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