- "A man must do what he must, Admiral Thrawn. Even if his stand is against the fall of eternal night."
- ―Nevil “Nightswan” Cygni to Thrawn
Nevil Cygni, also known by his alias Nightswan, was a male human smuggler and insurgent leader during the Imperial Era. Before becoming an insurgent leader, Cygni acted as a consultant to Angel's pirate group Culoss, which he used to raise funds for avenging people who had been wronged by the Empire. While raiding the freighter Dromedar, Cygni came into contact with the Chiss Thrawn, a rising star in the Imperial Navy who would later rise to the rank of Grand Admiral. After Thrawn disrupted Culoss' operations, Cygni used the Higher Skies Advocacy Group as a front group to gather intelligence on Imperial officials and senators on Coruscant with the goal of uncovering the Galactic Empire's secret Death Star project. This operation was disrupted by Arihnda Pryce, the future Governor of Lothal, with the help of Thrawn and the Imperial Security Bureau.
Cygni later engineered the Imperial annexation of Umbara, which was defeated by Thrawn. After the Umbara incident, Cygni instigated the Cyphar Incident between the native Cyphari Afe clan and human colonists as a means of smuggling doonium from Cyphar offworld. This was again defeated by Commander Thrawn, who discovered that the human colonists were also exporting an illegal spice called scarn. Soon after the operation, Cygni advised a group of insurgents to rescue Wookiee slaves from the transport Sempre, and launched an attack on the space station Lansend Twenty-Six to liberate their companions. Thrawn again foiled the attack, gaining Nightswan's respect.
Cygni later became the leader of the Batonn insurgents and engineered the Battle of Scrim Island to facilitate his showdown with Thrawn. Despite Nightswan's cunning tactics, Thrawn recaptured Scrim Island for the Empire. After Thrawn's aide-de-camp Eli Vanto ascertain that Cygni and Nightswan were indeed the same person, Thrawn met with Cygni to negotiate a peaceful dispute to the siege of the Creekpath Mining and Refining complex on Batonn's main continent. Despite failing to end the siege, Cygni extracted a promise from Thrawn to minimize civilian casualties. Thrawn's efforts came to naught when Governor Pryce blew up the Creekpath complex to hide the murder of ISB Agent Gudry. Cygni was killed during the explosion, which ended the Batonn sector insurgency.
- 1 Biography
- 1.1 Background
- 1.2 The Dromedar Raid
- 1.3 The Umbaran Uprising
- 1.4 Coruscant spy ring
- 1.5 Cyphar land dispute
- 1.6 Freeing Wookiee slaves
- 1.7 Batonn insurgency
- 1.8 Death and legacy
- 2 Personality and traits
- 3 Skills and abilities
- 4 Behind the scenes
- 5 Appearances
- 6 Sources
- 7 Notes and references
- "We've been hearing rumors about someone calling himself Nightswan for the past year or so. At first, he seemed to be some sort of consultant, planning jobs like this for various groups... Now we're not sure. A couple of the analysts are suggesting he may have settled down with a single organization. I'm not sure I buy that, myself. Well, we'll keep an eye out for him. At least now we know one of his aliases."
- ―Colonel Wullf Yularen, an adversary who monitored Nightswan's activities
During the Imperial Era, Nevil Cygni worked at the Kanauer Corporation's mining operations in the Thrugii asteroid belt. He later joined a splinter group which had broken away from the Mining Guild in order to manipulate the rising confusion in the Empire's metal markets for their own gain. This chaos in metal prices was hurting many small businesses including shipbuilders. Cygni had joined the group with the hope of siphoning off enough from the Imperial Navy's demands in order to help them out. However, Cygni left in disgust after learning that the splinter group was selling the stolen metals back to the Galactic Empire through the black market.
After leaving the splinter group, Cygni helped ordinary citizens who had been hurt by the Empire and could not get any redress. To conceal his true identity, Cygni adopted the code name "Nightswan" after a bird. To raise funds for these activities, Cygni stole and smuggled metals like doonium and tibanna gas. This line of work brought him into contact with Angel's pirate group Culoss, who were descended from Q'anah's Marauders. In addition, Cygni worked with the occasional insurgents including a group that had instigated the Circle Bay mayor's office protest on the planet Nubia. Nightswan's activities drew the attention of the Imperial Security Bureau Colonel Wullf Yularen, a senior Imperial official.
Cygni also toyed with going back to the Mining Guild but decided to cast his lot with the insurgents after the Mining Guild reported the splinter group he had been working with to the Imperial authorities. While engaging in smuggling and "consultancy," Cygni heard rumors that the Empire was running a secret project that consumed vast amounts of doonium, iridium, and other minerals. He also heard that entire planets were being strip-mined. In addition, the Empire took over the Thrugii asteroid mines. This secret project turned out to be the Death Star superweapon. In response, Nightswan used Driller MarDapp's Higher Skies Advocacy Group to gather intelligence on Imperial officials and senators in the galactic capital Coruscant using bodyguards, who were trained by Juahir Madras, a martial arts instructor at the Yinchom Dojo.
The Dromedar Raid
- "When we first met, you were merely a consultant. You hired out your tactical skill to those who would pay, without thought of consequences."
"You make me sound quite the amoral mercenary. But you're mostly correct. Though I'd like to point out that I did save your life during the Dromedar hijacking."
- ―Thrawn's reunion with Nevil Cygni on Batonn
While working with the Culoss pirates, Cygni infiltrated the freighter Dromedar by posing as a new crew member. Later, his pirate associates raided the Dromedar, which was carrying valuable tibanna gas. Cygni and the Culoss pirates managed to capture the crew and lock them in a makeshift brig at the rear of the ship. The Dromedar's distress transmission was picked up by the Gozanti-class cruiser Blood Crow. Serving aboard the ship were Senior Lieutenant Thrawn and his friend Ensign Eli Vanto, who had graduated from the Royal Imperial Academy on Coruscant 18 months earlier. With the approval of Captain Filia Rossi, Thrawn led a boarding party consisting of the Imperial Ensigns Vanto and Merri Barlin, and the technicians Jakeeb and Layneo.
Posing as one of the Dromedar's crew members, Cygni claimed that pirates had kidnapped the crew and that he had hidden in Captain Fitz's private food stocks. He claimed that the pirates had returned to their base to find a slicer to get the ship running. Cygni also alleged that there was a bad leak in the main reactor. While the Imperials were aboard the Dromedar, Cygni took the opportunity to find out how to learn how to disengage the static locks from the tibanna cylinders. Cygni also noticed that Thrawn was a nonhuman, who were rare in the Imperial Navy, and mistook him for a Pantoran. He also took an interest in the Chiss officer's buzz droid, a relic of the Clone Wars.
Having obtained the information about the tibanna cylinder's static locks, Cygni and his pirates took Thrawn and the Imperial boarding party prisoner. Cygni also forced Angel to keep his promise not to harm the prisoners if they surrendered. Honoring that promise, Angel and his men locked the Imperials with ther Dromedar's crew in the makeshift brig in the ship's cargo hold. The pirates' plan was to transfer the Dromedar and her tibanna cargo to a trading post on the planet Uba in the Barsa sector. Cygni also exacted a promise from Angel to transfer the prisoners unharmed to an offworld location. Fearing that Angel's men would renege on the promise and kill the Imperials, Cygni convinced Angel to leave Thrawn's buzz droid behind in order to increase Thrawn's chances of survival.
After Cygni had left, Thrawn, as he had anticipated, used the buzz droid to free both the Imperial prisoners and the crew of the Dromedar from their cage. Thrawn also used a second buzz droid to expose the pirate ship's entrance chamber and amidships section to the vacuum of space, neutralizing the other pirates. On Ansion, Thrawn worked out a deal with the surviving pirates to reveal the location of Cygni and the stolen Dromedar and tibanna in return for protection from Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin; an enemy of the Culoss's predecessors Q'anah's Marauders. While considering Thrawn's offer, the pirates spoke in Sy Bisti and disclosed that Cygni and Angel had taken the tibanna to Uba; not knowing that Thrawn and Vanto spoke and understood that trade language.
Accepting Thrawn's offer, the pirates claimed that Cygni and Angel had taken the tibanna to Cartherston on the planet Keitum. After the pirates had left, Thrawn convinced Admiral Plor Wiskovis to dispatch Imperial forces to both Uba and Keitum. Thrawn also speculated that Cygni was planning to sell the stolen tibanna on the nearby planet Kril'Dor, a source of tibanna close to the Uba system. Despite the efforts of the Imperial Security Bureau, Cygni managed to slip through Admiral Wiskovis' cordon around Uba. Imperial forces also discovered that Cygni and his associates had managed to extract tibanna from twelve of the twenty cylinders that had been recovered. Cygni's escape only solidified the resolve of Thrawn and his friend Colonel Yularen to hunt down the criminal consultant. Yularen also rightly hypothesized that Cygni and Nightswan were one and the same person but disputed reports that Nightswan had settled down with a single organization. In turn, Nightswan began to take an interest in Thrawn after learning from a friend that a mysterious blue–skinned alien had fought alongside Jedi General Anakin Skywalker in the Thrugii asteroid belt during the Clone Wars.
The Umbaran Uprising
- "It would seem we have found the reason for the attack. The purpose for a clearly futile assault upon an Imperial force. Nightswan wished for the Empire to take control of Umbara's mines."
"Because its easier for him and his smugglers to cheat material past Imperial inspectors than past the Umbarans. I'll grant that it sounds like Nightswan's brand of deviousness. But we don't even know for sure that he was involved."
"He was. He is. Who else would invite me here to demonstrate his handiwork?"
- ―Thrawn and Eli Vanto discussing Nightswan's role in mastermind the Umbaran uprising
Later, Nevil Cygni, using his Nightswan pseudonym, instigated an uprising on the Expansion Region world of Umbara. He wanted the Empire to take over Umbara's doonium mining and refining sector since it would be easier to bribe the Imperials rather than the Umbaran inspectors. To raise funds to purchase Vulture droids, Nightswan hired smugglers on the planet Paklarn to smuggle the stolen iridium from a mine in an underwater transport to fishing boats where they were formed into discs and placed inside grist mollusk shells. Despite Nightswan's careful instructions to disperse the mollusk meat along the entire path, the smugglers ignored this directive and instead dumped them in one big dump, attracting a large number of makorr predators.
The smugglers' incompetence enabled the now-Captain Thrawn, Ensign Vanto, and Commander Alfren Cheno to track this group down. Despite this setback, Cygni managed to raise enough funds to procure spareparts for 400 Vulture droids from a Rodian merchant. Putting his plan into action, Nightswan encouraged the Umbarans to rebel against the Empire. When an Imperial taskforce led by Carlou Gendling arrived in the Umbara system, they were ambushed by Nightswan's Vulture droids, which were controlled by a ground transmitter station based on Umbara's outermost moon. Despite inflicting considerable damage on the Imperial forces, Nightswan was outmaneuvered by Thrawn, who convinced Commander Cheno and the other commanders to bombard the ground transmitter station.
Following the battle, Thrawn and Vanto deduced that Nightswan was behind the smuggling of iridium and the Umbaran uprising. Cygni subsequently came to take an interest in Thrawn's career progression in the Imperial Navy, regarding him as worthy but dangerous foe to his goal of overthrowing the Empire.
Coruscant spy ring
- "Whatever you think you know about Higher Skies, believe me when I say that assassinations or attempted assassinations were never part of that plan. The sole reason they were suborning bodyguards was to gain access to high–level files for data on the Empire's secret project."
Nightswan suffered another blow when his spy ring on Coruscant was exposed by the Lothalite expatriate Arihnda Pryce. This spy ring consisted of Driller MarDapp's Higher Skies advocacy group and the martial arts instructor Juahir Madras, who worked at the Togorian dojo H'sishi's Yinchom Dojo. Higher Skies was tasked with gathering high-level files for data on the Empire's mysterious Death Star project. To do this, Driller recruited Madras to bribe or manipulate bodyguards who were assigned to Imperial government officials and senators. Two of these bodyguards were Moff Ghadi's guard Ottlis Dos and Senator Evidorn's bodyguard Kaniki.
Driller later recruited Pryce into Higher Skies, seeking to utilize her expertise in mining and refining. Unaware of the group's ulterior motives, Pryce accepted her friend's job offer as a means of entering politics and moving in with her friend Juahir. Pryce became suspicious of her friends' motives after learning that Higher Skies was gathering data on sensitive Imperial mining and industrial projects. Following the Circle Bay mayor's office protest, Colonel Yularen and Thrawn speculated that Nightswan was planning to target high-level Imperial officials and senators on Coruscant using dojos as front organizations.
When Yularen, Thrawn, and Vanto visited the Yinchom Dojo to check its credentials, Pryce took the opportunity to inform Thrawn that she was working for Higher Skies. Pryce arranged a secret meeting with Thrawn and confided her suspicions about Higher Skies' true agenda. Thrawn advised her to work as a double agent and to copy Higher Skies' secret files. He also promised to arrange with Colonel Yularen to protect her from any prosecution. Pryce obliged and copied Higher Skies' files. When Ottlis Dos informed Moff Ghadi about Higher Skies' files, the Moff pressured Pryce into supplying Higher Skies' files on his rival Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin.
Despising Ghadi for trying to blackmail her a year earlier, Pryce instead used her Higher Skies credential to arrange a meeting with Grand Moff Tarkin. She revealed Higher Skies' espionage and Moff Ghadi's attempt to seek access to sensitive files on Tarkin. In addition to receiving immunity, Pryce managed to convince Tarkin to appoint her as Lothal's new Governor and to give Thrawn's friend Ensign Vanto his long overdue promotion. Tarkin accepted Pryce's terms and took action against Higher Skies and Juahir Madras. Shortly later, Evidorn's bodyguard Kaniki made an attempt on the senator's life; having been convinced by Juahir about the "evils" of the Empire. This went against Nightswan's directive prohibiting assassinations.
Imperial Security Bureau personnel arrested Driller and the other members of Higher Skies. Following the Evidorn assassination attempt, Colonel Yularen personally arrested Juahir. Due to Pryce's intervention, Juahir was spared execution in return for telling Yularen everything she knew about Higher Skies' activities. The neutralization of Higher Skies disrupted Nightswan's efforts to uncover the secret Death Star project. Despite the loss of Higher Skies, Nightswan learned that Grand Moff Tarkin was in charge of the Death Star project and that it was being done at a single location, as opposed to being spread out across the galaxy. However, Nightswan was unaware that the Death Star project also had an auxiliary site. Honoring his side of the bargain, Tarkin appointed Pryce as acting governor and promoted Eli Vanto to Lieutenant Commander.
Cyphar land dispute
- "Yet you worked with them."
"Under false pretenses. They told me they were being squeezed between the Afes and the Cyphar government and couldn't get the Empire to pay attention to them By the time I found out what they were really smuggling I was already on the ground and couldn't bow out without risking a blaster shot to the head."
- ―Thrawn questioning Nightswan about his role in the Cyphar dispute
While the events on Coruscant were taking place, Nightswan took an interest in a doonium vein on the planet Cyphar, which was home to the indigenous Cyphari species and human colonists. To conceal the doonium smuggling operations, human colonists instigated a violent land dispute with the Afe clan since the doonium vein was located under the clan's territory. Upon arriving on Cyphar, Nightswan learned that several of the human colonists were also involved in harvesting a pre-spice material that was used to produce a spice known as scarn. While Nightswan was uneasy about smuggling spice, he was forced at gunpoint to cooperate with the smugglers. Nightswan advised the doonium smugglers to smuggle the doonium mineral offworld in shellfish shells before leaving offworld. In response to the dispute, Commander Thrawn and the then Ensign Vanto were dispatch to mediate the dispute between the colonists and Afe clan.
After consulting with the leaders of the warring parties, Thrawn and Vanto noticed a correlation between the export of doonium and shellfish from Cyphar and determined that Nightswan had a hand in this conflict. While visiting the site of the Afe clan's village, Thrawn discovered the presence of the pre-spice material. Taking these into account, Thrawn ordered his followers to protect the Afe clan's lands and to arrest the scarn smugglers. To bring an end to the dispute, Thrawn ordered his forces to destroy the scarn and the surrounding land. Thrawn's actions angered both the Afe clan's leadership and the Imperial military command, who disliked his unorthodox tactics. However, due to Pryce and Tarkin's machinations, Thrawn and Vanto were instead promoted. While Vanto received his long overdue promotion, Thrawn was promoted to Commodore and given command of the Imperial Star Destroyer Chimaera.
Freeing Wookiee slaves
- Thrawn: "The attacking ships were reported stolen eight weeks ago."
- Eli Vanto: "By Nightswan?"
- Thrawn: "Possibly. The scheme was quite inventive, which could indicate his hand in the planning. But whether or not he was behind the theft, I do not believe he is involved with this attack. Overly violent attacks are not his usual style"
- Commander Faro: "Style can change, Commodore. And with all due respect, I don't see how the ship's staring point matters right now as much as the fact that they're here and they're shooting at our people."
- ―Thrawn, Eli Vanto, and Commander Karyn Faro speculating Nightswan's involvement in the attack on the Sempre[src]
Later, Nightswan advised a group of insurgents who took an interest in freeing Wookiee slaves. Following the Clone Wars, the xenophobic Galactic Empire had enslaved the Wookiees since their massive, robust physiology allowed them to work for long hours in extreme conditions. Wookiees were used to harvest crops, chop down wroshyr trees, mining projects, construct the Death Star, and as test subjects in medical and weapons experiments. Putting their plans into action, these insurgents stole the frigate Castilus and two squadrons of V-19 Torrent starfighters. They attacked the modified troop ship Sempre and freed the Wookiee slaves aboard, leaving behind dead Imperial crew and stormtroopers.
The insurgents then assaulted Lansend Twenty-Six, a former Republic space station that was repurposed for processing Wookiee slaves shipped from Kashyyyk. The insurgents were also aided by an infiltrator, who had managed to sabotage the station's long-range comm and starboard-side defense systems before being captured. This enabled the insurgents to board the station with the intention of freeing Wookiee slaves. Unfortunately for the insurgents, Commodore Thrawn and Lieutenant Commander Vanto responded to the attacks on the Sempre and Landsend Twenty-Six. While the Chimaera's starfighter engaged the insurgents' starships, Thrawn used his flagship's firepower to bombard the sections of the station that had been boarded by insurgents. This two-pronged attack forced the remaining insurgents to surrender and led to the recapture of Wookiee slaves.
Scrim Island crisis
- "Please understand that Scrim Island was my last resort. I'd tried destroying him politically. I'd tried persuading the High Command he was more trouble than he was worth. But he skated clear every time. Killing him was the only way I could think of to neutralize him."
- ―Nightswan instigated the Scrim Island crisis as a showdown with Thrawn
Around 2 BBY, Nightswan had become the leader of the Batonn insurgents, who opposed the rule of the Empire and the corrupt Governor Restos. Under Nightswan's leadership, the Batonn insurgents captured the Imperial garrison on Scrim Island, an offshore island that lay 300km west of Batonn's main continent. During the assault, the insurgents captured a hundred hostages including Imperial Navy troopers, technicians, and some civilian workers. They also controlled the island's deflector shield generator, its shoreline defenses, and three of its ion cannons. Nightswan himself coordinated the attack from an offworld Nomad starship that doubled as a base for arms dealers.
Nightswan had engineered the Scrim Island crisis as a means of forcing a showdown with his nemesis, the now Admiral Thrawn, who commanded the Ninety-Sixth Task Force. In response to the events on Scrim Island, Fleet Admiral Jok Donassius launched a series of Imperial offensives throughout the Batonn sector with the goal of rooting out the insurgent forces on Batonn, Sammun, and Denash. When Thrawn insisted on studying the siege of Scrim Island in further detail, an impatient Donassius reassigned the mission to Admiral Durril's One Oh Third Task Force. Thrawn was reassigned with quelling the Sammun insurgents.
Still determined to defeat Nightswan once and for all, Thrawn assigned Commander Karyn Faro with leading the Ninety-Sixth Task Force on Sammun while he and Vanto undertook an unsanctioned mission to gather intelligence on the Batonn insurgents' tactics and Nightswan. Admiral Durril launched an ill-fated attack on Scrim Island which saw the insurgents inflict considerable damage to the 103rd Task Force. While the battle over Scrim Island was raging, the insurgents smuggled weapons and evacuated personnel in eight freighters which headed to Batonn's mainland. Seven freighters flew under low cloud cover while the eighth rose into space. Posing as the arms smuggler "Horatio Figg," Eli Vanto managed to contact the eighth freighter and secure coordinates to Nightswan's base on the main continent under the pretext of buying arms. Thrawn also used Captain Brento's light cruiser Shyrack to monitor the movements of seven of the freighters.
Emerging from the shadows
- "So you just walked us into his trap?"
"He needed to believe we'd been caught unawares. Otherwise, he would have been on his guard."
- ―Eli and Thrawn regaling their encounter with Nightswan
Traveling in the freighter Slipknot, Thrawn and Vanto followed the eighth freighter to Nightswan's Nomad base. While Thrawn hid aboard the Slipknot, Vanto met with the smugglers, who brought him to their leader Nightswan. When Vanto recognized Nightswan as Cygni, Nightswan insisted on being called by his pseudonym. Despite Vanto's disguise, Nightswan recognized the Imperial officer as Thrawn's companion. After exchanging pleasantries, Nightswan settled down to business and deduced that Admiral Thrawn had sent Vanto seek him out. When Vanto asked why Nightswan was working with a bunch of "crazies," Nightswan countered that the Empire was corrupt, dangerous, and ultimately self-defeating. He believed that he was helping to bring about the Empire's fall.
Nightswan described Thrawn as an exceptional Imperial commander and acknowledged that the Scrim Island siege was his last attempt to destroy Thrawn. Vanto led Nightswan into believing that Thrawn was commanding the ill-fated task force assaulting Scrim Island. Nightswan also told Eli that he had taken an interest in Thrawn's career ever since the Dromedar incident. After reassuring Vanto he had no intentions of harming him, Nightswan speculated that Thrawn's rapid career advancement in the Imperial Navy was due to his special connections to someone high placed in the Imperial hierarchy; recalling that Thrawn had fought alongside General Skywalker on the Thrugii asteroids during the Clone Wars.
At that point, one of Nightswan's followers Simmco reported that they had searched Eli and Thrawn's freighter Slipknot and detected a radiation leak in the engine compartment. Believing that Imperials were hiding aboard the freighter, Nightswan ordered Simmco's men to open the hatch. While Simmco and his men prepared to storm the engine compartment, Nightswan turned his attention to Eli, whom he likened as a house pet to a nonhuman. Before they could continue, Thrawn blew up a power pack in the Slipknot's engine compartment, killing Simmco and his men. Nightswan then grabbed Eli's captured pistol. At that point, Eli activated the fake tile on his insignia plague, triggering a small explosion that momentarily blinded Nightswan. Eli then assaulted Nightswan, knocking him to the ground and stealing his blaster. Amidst the confusion, Eli and Thrawn escaped aboard a stolen insurgent freighter.
After escaping Nightswan's base, Thrawn revealed that the primary goal of the mission was to obtain navigational records on the insurgents' bases and supply lines from the ship's computer. Thrawn also admitted that he had suspected that Nightswan was the leader of the insurgents. Having completed their mission, the two returned to Batonn, where Admiral Durril's 103rd Task Force had been forced to retreat. Armed with the information on the insurgents' tactics, Admiral Thrawn broke the siege of Scrim Island and forced the surrender of the local insurgents there. However, most of the Batonn insurgents had retreated to several different locations on Batonn's main continent, where they were joined by elements of the Denash insurgents.
Siege of Creekpath
- "I see. You say you don't want to kill me. I like that part. What makes you think I won't kill you?"
"Because you value life. Because I am the only guarantee that the civilians crowded within your stronghold will not be slaughtered. Should others lead the attack, they will almost certainly kill everyone and destroy everything in their path. You do not want that."
- ―Thrawn convincing Nightswan to meet with him for secret peace talks
Despite the efforts of Nightswan and the Batonn insurgents to maintain a low profile, Commander Vanto managed to use Captain Brento's information track the insurgents' shipping vectors to the Creekpath Mining and Refining complex near Paeragosto City on Batonn's main continent. The mining complex was home to 30,000 civilians, who worked in the mine. Nightswan chose to evacuate his forces to Creekpath because the facility was protected by a DSS-02 regional shield. He gambled that the Empire would no longer consider his insurgents a threat following Scrim Island's recapture. However, Admiral Thrawn was determined to neutralize the threat posed by the Batonn insurgents.
Prior to the troubles on Denash, Creekpath's owner had pleaded with Governor Restos for 200 troops to beef up security around the mine. However, the corrupt Governor had instead deployed the troops to guard his palace. Under Nightswan's leadership, the insurgents occupied the mine and expelled the operators before they could sabotage the DSS-02 regional shield. Most of the local population including Governor Pryce's father Talmoor sympathized with some of their grievances. Many civilians also voluntarily took shelter inside the mine. While Nightswan did not want to endanger the civilians, he and his followers were unable to keep them out. Nightswan's forces formed a defensive cordon around the mine. In response, Imperial and Batonn Defense Forces lay siege to the Creekpath complex.
Nightswan's actions would have substantial ramifications on the events on Batonn that unfolded. Seeking to rescue her parents, Governor Pryce convinced the Imperial Security Bureau that she could accompany Agent Gudry on a mission to disable the insurgents' shield generator. Knowing that Nightswan still commanded starships, Thrawn positioned three damaged Imperial light cruisers in a vulnerable position. Thrawn's plan was to lure Nightswan's ships into a trap consisting of several TIE fighters hidden in repair barges.
Due to the presence of civilians, Thrawn wanted to find a peaceful solution to the conflict. He secretly contacted Nightswan using a frequency obtained from the records of the freighter he and Commander Vanto had stolen from Nightswan's Nomad. Nightswan agreed to meet Thrawn at a field two kilometers northeast of the Creekpath facility. Thrawn had specifically chosen the site because it was overshadowed by a ridge of low hills but was still easily accessible from Nightswan's camp. While Nightswan was initially apprehensive, Thrawn reassured him that he would resolve to protect the civilians inside the stronghold from being killed during the attack. Nightswan accepted Thrawn's offer and agreed to meet an hour later.
Reunion with Thrawn
- "You are no use to me dead or captured."
"So you said. I assume you're calling on me to surrender, and to persuade my followers to surrender as well?"
- ―Thrawn meeting with Nightswan
True to his word, Nightswan met with Thrawn in the secluded field. Nightswan was surprised when Thrawn stated that he had not come to kill him or to capture him. When Thrawn recalled that Nightswan had been a consultant when they had first met, Nightswan countered that he was not an amoral mercenary and had in fact saved Thrawn's life by convincing Angel to bring Thrawn's buzz droid aboard. Thrawn complimented Nightswan but revealed that he had attached a second buzz droid to the ship's hull.
During the meeting, Nightswan acknowledged his prior involvement in the Mining Guild and explained that his previous smuggling operations were a means of generating revenue to help people who had been "hurt" by the Empire. Nightswan also told Thrawn that he had been monitoring the intense extraction of doonium, iridium and other metals for a mysterious Imperial project. Thrawn responded that he was unaware about the details of the project and asked Nightswan what he had learned. Nightswan promised to reveal the information if Thrawn abandoned the Empire and joined his cause; something that was non-negotiable for the latter.
When Thrawn asked Nightswan why he had repeated the seashell smuggling technique on Cyphar, Nightswan responded that he regarded spice as a bribe and had deliberately used the seashell technique to catch Thrawn's attention with the goal of disrupting the spice smuggling operation there. Nightswan added that this also helped him to keep a step ahead of the Imperial authorities. When Thrawn confronted Nightswan about Higher Skies, Nightswan reiterated that he did not condone the group's attempted assassinations and that their primary mission was to gain access to high-level files on the Empire's mysterious Death Star project.
- "I see reality. Your followers may return to their homes and jobs. There will be no reprisals or other action taken against them."
"Until you leave. Even if Governor Restos honored your deal—which he wouldn't—it still wouldn't last. The injustices against the people are too great, the arrogance of those in power too deep. Sooner or later, they would rise up again. Only this time, they would have no one to lead them. They would be cut down like grain in a field, their voices silenced before they were ever heard."
- ―Thrawn and Nightswan
After sharing what little scraps of information they knew about the Death Star, Thrawn reiterated his offer but Nightswan was unwilling to abandon his followers. Nightswan then confided that he once had a grand plan for bringing all the insurgent and rebel groups together. However, he abandoned this endeavor due to the widespread paranoia, distrust, squabbling, and pride among the rebel factions. Nightswan believed that he lacked the leadership skills to unify the rebels. When Nightswan asked Thrawn why he was serving an "evil" Empire, Thrawn utilized the metaphor of two foes facing a dangerous predator.
Nightswan responded that the obvious choice was for the two of them joining forces. Thrawn's solution was for one foe to strike down the other with the goal of allowing the predator to devour his rival with the hope that he could find a weapon to assure his own survival. Nightswan regarded Thrawn's solution as logical but cold-blooded. After recounting his early encounters with the Galactic Republic, Thrawn told Nightswan that there were "evil things" in the galaxy that were far more evil and dangerous than the Empire. Thrawn then explained that the Chiss Ascendancy had staged his purported exile with the goal of studying the Empire's political and military structure under the pretext of sharing information about distant threats.
When Nightswan disagreed with Thrawn's idea of allying with the Empire, Thrawn acknowledged that the Empire was corrupt and tyrannical but countered that ruthlessness was necessary when the galaxy was continually threatened by chaos. Nightswan then countered that ruthlessness bred more chaos and that repression and revolt sustained each other. Thrawn responded that the Empire was preferable to chaos and lawlessness. Nightswan longed to replace the Empire with a new order based on justice, mercy, and freedom, and vehemently rejected the idea that tyranny was a bulwark against evil. Unaware of the Emperor's secret Contingency plan to tear down the Empire in the event of his death, Thrawn responded that the tone of a government was set by its leader. He added that the Emperor would not live forever and that he would use his position as a senior officer to influence the choice of successor.
Nightswan opined that Thrawn was "dangerously" naive on political matters and asked Thrawn about the Neimoidian separatists he had encountered. Thrawn responded that initial contact had led him to forge an acquaintanceship with Eli Vanto. While Thrawn had initially thought that Vanto was a spy, he had come to appreciate his tactical aptitude and leadership. Thrawn opined that Nightswan shared that rare combination of tactical aptitude and leadership. While Nightswan had thought that Thrawn was seeking to recruit him into his fight for a "better Empire," Thrawn instead offered him a place as a liaison with the Chiss Ascendancy helping to combat "forces far more evil than the Empire."
Since Nightswan was unwilling to abandon his followers, Thrawn offered to pardon them if they dispersed and left their weapons behind; regarding the people of Batonn as Imperial resources that could not be wasted. Thrawn also promised that no reprisals would take place. While Nightswan trusted Thrawn to keep his word, he feared that Governor Restos would not. Nightswan added that the Empire's injustices would remain unresolved. Without him to lead them, Nightswan feared that his followers would be cut down like grain in a field. Despite respecting Thrawn, Nightswan refused to abandon his followers. Before they left, Nightswan extracted a promise from Thrawn to protect the civilians of Creekpath and to uncover the Empire's mysterious project.
Nightswan also acknowledged that he expected that his stand against the Empire would not succeed. Despite Thrawn's promise that he would issue orders for him to be taken unarmed, Nightswan feared that Restos and the Batonn Defense Force would try and kill him regardless. When Thrawn reiterated his offer, Nightswan responded that he was prepared to make his stand even against "the fall of eternal night."
Death and legacy
Fall of Batonn and aftermath
- "Yes, sir. His body was found and identified in one of the outer areas, where the damage was less severe. He was probably checking on the perimeter. Possibly preparing to stand alongside the defenders there."
- ―Colonel Yularen
Despite Thrawn's promise to minimize civilian casualties, his efforts were undermined by Governor Pryce; who blew up the explosives cache in the Creekpath mining complex in order to hide the fact that she had murdered Agent Gudry following a disagreement over evacuating her parents. Nightswan was killed during the explosion and his body was later found in the perimeters of the site by Imperial forces. It was believed that Nightswan was checking on the perimeter during his last moments. Thrawn, along with Colonel Yularen (another foe of Nightswan), were horrified and dismayed by the high civilian death toll.
With Nightswan's death during the destruction of the Creekpath mining complex, many Imperials including Pryce believed that there was no rebel presence left in the Batonn sector. Honoring his promise to Nightswan, Thrawn discovered that the Empire was building a superweapon known as the Death Star, which was capable of destroying worlds. Thrawn was promoted to the rank of Grand Admiral for the victory at Batonn, but he sent Vanto away to join the Chiss Ascendancy. The newly-promoted Thrawn began a campaign against the growing rebel movement, during which he participated in a mission to Ryloth. During his meeting with Captain Hera Syndulla of the Phoenix Cell, Thrawn stated his belief that, in order to defeat an enemy, one needed to know them. Nightswan had said the exact same phrase to Thrawn during their meeting on Batonn.
A dream fulfilled and recalled by Vanto
- "You ever hear of a man called Nightswan?"
"I heard he was out of business."
"He is. I'm his replacement."
- ―Eli Vanto poses as Nightswan's replacement to Skulk and other criminals.
Ultimately, Nightswan's dream of a unified rebellion came to fruition in the form of the Rebel Alliance. Thrawn continued to fight the rebels, defeating them in the major Battle of Atollon and stopping the Attack on Lothal. After the latter engagement, he was called away from his anti-rebel campaign, leading to him being assigned to destroy the grallocs attacking starships on one of the Death Star's supply lines. This led to the Grand Admiral again encountering the Grysk Hegemony, one of the threats to his people and, and the Chiss warship Steadfast. He also reunited with Eli Vanto, now a lieutenant in the Ascendancy. To help with Thrawn's gralloc assignment, Vanto, Assistant Director Brierly Ronan of the Death Star project, and death troopers Pik and Waffle were sent undercover to Aloxor to investigate.
While on the planet, Vanto and the others were taken by the criminal Sisay and her gang, though Vanto mentioned Nightswan and posed as the dead insurgent's replacement. After recalling everything he could about Nightswan to convince them that he had in fact known the man, Vanto claimed the insurgent had made a deal with the Hutt Clan and that they needed to get to Grand Admiral Balanhai Savit to pay off part of the debt. Sisay found it hard to believe Nightswan would have entangled himself in such a way, but Vanto claimed he hadn't believed it at first too and said he simply didn't ask for details. The gang eventually deduced Vanto and the undercover Imperials were not working for the Hutts, but they were rescued from the criminals by ISB agent Dayja Collerand. A short time after Thrawn defeated Savit, who was behind the gralloc attacks and had been stealing components from the Death Star, the Chiss officer was defeated by Jedi Padawan Ezra Bridger over the capital of Lothal during its liberation, as he sent a pod of Purrgil against the Seventh Fleet. The creatures defeated the fleet and took Bridger, Thrawn, and everyone else aboard the Chimaera away into hyperspace. Later, Nightswan's dream for a more benevolent order was fulfilled with the fall of the Empire and the rise of the New Republic.
Personality and traits
- "... Most of the people I worked with at first were just ordinary citizens who'd been hurt by the Empire and couldn't get any redress. Justice costs money, and stealing and smuggling metals like doonium was the most efficient way to generate that money."
- ―Nevil Cygni's motives for smuggling and resisting the Empire
Nevil Cygni, also known by his alias "Nightswan," was a human man with dark hair and dark, wary eyes. Due to long years working in bright sunlight, he had textured skin. Cygni also engaged in mild physical labor, leaving scars and calluses on his hands. Cygni was a well nourished man with a well fleshed face. In terms of his political and philosophical views, Nightswan regarded the Empire as a corrupt tyranny that had to be overthrown and replaced with a new order based on justice, mercy, and freedom. Despite fighting on opposite sides, Nightswan regarded the Imperial officer Thrawn as a worthy adversary who was the most competent commander in the Imperial Navy.
Nightswan was adept in misleading his opponents. On one occasion, he tricked Thrawn and his Imperial boarding party into thinking that he was a crew member of the freighter Dromedar as a means of obtaining information on how to extract tibanna from their cylinders. While Nightswan started off as a freelance "consultant" to various criminal and rebel groups, he eventually became the leader of the Batonn insurgents; who were disenchanted with the corrupt rule of Governor Restos and the Galactic Empire. Nightswan was unwilling to abandon his followers despite knowing that they were outnumbered and outgunned by the Empire and Batonn Defense Force. Nightswan valued life and once stopped the pirate Angel from killing Thrawn and the other prisoners; a favor which Thrawn reciprocated during the Batonn campaign.
Despite his involvement in crime and rebellion, Nightswan also had a moral code. During the Cyphar land dispute, he was so troubled about helping local smugglers to traffic spice that he secretly sabotaged their operation. As time passed, Nightswan took an interest in the Empire's top-secret Death Star project and endeavored to obtain as much information he could about the mysterious project, which was consuming vast amounts of metal and other resources. While Nightswan trusted Thrawn to keep his word to minimize civilian casualties, he doubted that the rest of the Empire would honor Thrawn's promise that there would be no retribution against his followers. Nightswan's devotion to the people of Batonn led him to turn down Thrawn's offer of joining the Chiss Ascendancy.
Nightswan also aspired to unite the various insurgent and rebel factions under one roof. However, Nightswan gave up due to the paranoia, distrust, squabbling, and pride among the various rebel factions. Nightswan also disagreed with Thrawn's idea that the Empire was a force for stability in an anarchic galaxy. He subscribed to various theories that the Clone Wars and the collapse of the Old Republic was engineered by outside agents. Nightswan also thought that the Neimoidians, a species prominent in the Confederacy of Independent Systems, had a severely overblow opinion of themselves and their capabilities.
Skills and abilities
Nightswan was familiar with mining and metals such as doonium, iridium, and tibanna gas. He was also a skilled smuggler who came up with the idea of smuggling doonium and iridium inside shellfish cases.
Behind the scenes
- "It was deliberately left vague in the book, but my feeling is that it [Nevil Cygni] was another pseudonym (otherwise it would have been easier to track him down)."
- ―Timothy Zahn on Nightswan's true name
Nevil Cygni, also known as "Nightswan," first appeared in Timothy Zahn's 2017 canon novel Thrawn. Nightswan serves as the primary antagonist of the novel and Thrawn's nemesis. While not explicity stated, Zahn deliberately left vague in the book the certainty regarding Nightswan's true name, feeling that "Nevil Cygni" was just another pseudonym, as otherwise it would have been easier for the Empire to track him down.
- Thrawn (First appearance)
- Thrawn 2 (First pictured)
- Thrawn 4 (Appears through imagination)
- Thrawn 5
- Thrawn 6
- Thrawn: Treason (Mentioned only)
Notes and references
- Thrawn 2
- Aftermath: Empire's End
- Star Wars Rebels: Steps Into Shadow
- Star Wars Rebels – "Hera's Heroes"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Secret Cargo"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Zero Hour"
- Star Wars Rebels – "Rebel Assault"
- Thrawn: Treason
- Star Wars Rebels – "Family Reunion – and Farewell"
- Lost Stars
- Message from Timothy Zahn, to Andykatib