The Nagai, (pronounced /nɑ'gɑ.i/) also called the N'Gai and the Knives, were a near-human species from the planet Nagi, a planet in the Unknown Regions, located in the dwarf galaxy known as Firefist that orbited the known galaxy.
Biology and appearance
The Nagai were tall and thin near-Humans with pale skin, jet-black hair, gray eyes, and angular features. Considered attractive, yet gaunt and frail looking by galactic standards, they were aware of the effect their appearance had on others, and often allowed others to see them as weak until the time was right to reveal their true skills. Possessing lightning fast reflexes, the Nagai were known for their speed and agility in and out of combat, with much of their clothing, like traditional Electromesh armor, being tailored around their natural dexterity.
Nagai were noted as being especially charismatic; a quality that was by and large the product of their enhanced vocal range, allowing them to modulate and tailor their speech. Described as incredibly soothing and hypnotic, a Nagai could use their voice to influence other sentient beings - provided their voice could be heard, and their words understood.
Despite their ubiquitous reputation as pale specters, Nagai were well known for their individualistic expression, with clothing and hair styles varying wildly from individual to individual depending on personal tastes and the image that a Nagai wanted to convey.
Society and culture
Intense, focused, and highly disciplined warriors, they were known to kill without hesitation if it suited them, particularly if honor demanded it; and were known to fear nothing, aside from losing their own freedom. If there was no honor in killing, or if their foe was weak, they took no pleasure in the victory. Honor was everything to a Nagai; if a Nagai's honor was stripped away, whether forcefully or unknowingly, the Nagai had to take his own life. If the Nagai failed to do so, then it was the duty of others to fulfill that honor. As passionate in loving as they were in killing, a Nagai's honor told them that devotion to one's lover was the most important devotion one could ever offer; even if that devotion is unreturned. Beyond this devotion, however, Nagai had little concern for individuals outside of their own families; only aiding others when bound by honor or seeking personal gain.
Despite the high esteem that honor held in their daily lives, Nagai could be found in a broad range of professions across the galaxy, ranging from traditional roles such as nobles and soldiers, to the more streetwise vocations of scoundrels and thieves.
Highly competent duelists, melee combat - especially the use of edged weaponry - is highly integrated into Nagai culture, with it being rare for a Nagai to not display expert use in blades of all sizes. Particularly, skill with traditional Tehk'la blades, longswords, and Swiftcut foils were prized - the weapons being employed in a number of fighting exercises that were daily customs in Nagai society. These exercises were both a form of meditation and a sign of social status; success and skill in wielding them in duels was the primary means of ascension through societal ranks, though many customs of daily life involved exercises with these weapons.
In addition to martial ability, Nagai possessed a bizarre - and some would say cruel - sense of humor borne from generations of adversity under the Tof. Nagai duelists would often employ this wit in battle, which, when coupled with their charisma, often set opponents off-balance.
Nagai technology was advanced. While their ships defied common design sense, they were nonetheless capable of far greater speed and efficiency than most New Republic vessels. Nagai weapons technology, especially sonic weaponry was highly advanced, with the Nagai sonic blaster being able to rend flesh at the molecular level, though many Nagai officers felt it to be a dishonorable weapon to use in a fight. Nagai also made extensive use of Electromesh armor, improving on its basic design, and made significant advances in cloaking technology.
Before the Tofs invaded, Nagai society was comprised of a caste system consisting series of Circles, which were broken down into a series of sub-circles. An individual's place in the Circles was determined by birth, but it was possible to move up the ranks through tests of physical prowess. During the Tof invasions, this system broke down as Circles intermeshed for survival purposes. With many Sub-circles eradicated by the Tofs, many lower levels moved up by default, and began mating with those previously above them; as a result, the entire system of Circles was no longer considered the solid institution it once was, with some radical thinkers urging its abandonment.
The Nagai were just developing superluminal travel when they encountered the Tofs, who followed Nagai scoutships to their home system and promptly began an invasion. The Nagai fought back, waging guerrilla wars against their conquerors over centuries. To aid in their fight against the Tofs, the Nagai allied with a neighboring species, the Maccabree, outfitting them with mechanical limbs for ground fighting. They also allied with the Faruun shipwrights for vessels of war. Slowly a pathological hatred and fear of the Tofs developed, intensified by the Tof conquest of their homeworld Nagi. This drove the Nagai and Maccabrees outward into the nearby galaxy, which they referred to as the Skyriver. With the assistance of the Dark Lady Lumiya, a plan was developed to use the resources of the Skyriver to mount a liberation of their homeworld, and shortly after the Galactic Civil War had exhausted both sides, the Nagai struck.
The Nagai attempted to restart the Wookiee slave trade on Kashyyyk. They were originally known to the Alliance as "Knives", due to the Wookiee mispronunciation of an individual Nagai encountered there. As a result, they were encountered by the Alliance of Free Planets in 4 ABY to stop their actions.
After being stopped by Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, and Chewbacca, they regrouped with Lumiya and her faction of the Imperial Remnant in an attempt to destroy the Rebel Alliance and gain territory to re-establish themselves. After various skirmishes on Kabray, Kinooine, and Mandalore, they attacked Endor. With the aid of an inside agent, they learned all of the Alliance dogfighting maneuvers and were able to easily outfight them at first. Once the Rebels caught on, though, the tables turned, and they were driven off the moon.
The Nagai continued invading a number of other planets with their allies, such as Iskalon. Discovering a Tof force on the planet Trenwyth, they attempted to wipe them out but were defeated there. Launching an attack on Zeltros, the Tofs made themselves known. The Nagai's fear and hatred of the Tofs enabled them to form an unlikely alliance with the Rebels and Imperials to combat them. Repelling the Tofs from Zeltros, they signed a treaty with the Alliance and later ambushed the Tof crown prince at the planet Saijo and forced the Tofs to surrender, thus ending the Nagai/Tof threat to the galaxy.
After the surrender, the Nagai were given Saijo to settle on. Only a few did so, joining the Alliance; the others (accompanied by the Mandalorians) went to liberate Nagi from the Tofs. Their attempt to free the planet was ultimately successful.
Nagai in the galaxy
Behind the scenes
The Nagai were created by writer Mary Jo Duffy and artist Cynthia Martin. Martin came up with the visual design by looking at anime, and also drew inspiration from a Japanese comic about a tragic vampire - which, according to Martin, had a strong influence on her concept drawings.