- "What the Noghri assassins of Honoghr lack in numbers, they make up for in skill."
- ―Urai Fen
Noghri (pronounced /'no.gɹi/) were a primitive humanoid species. They had steely gray or blue skin, and were extremely skilled assassins due to their abilities in stealth and hand-to-hand combat. Despite their small size, they were efficient killing machines, with claws, fangs, and a sense of smell so acute, they could smell one's bloodline (as exemplified by Khabarakh's identification of Leia Organa Solo as Darth Vader's daughter, which made her the Mal'ary'ush). They were much like the Wookiee species culturally, in that they respected honor above all else. Noghri society was clan-based, revolving around the dukha, or community building, at the center of each village.
Biology and appearance
In form, this species appeared as steel-gray-skinned bipeds who were heavily muscled as well as sinewy and possessed great agility which was only enhanced by their faster-than-normal reflexes. Their bodies lacked any hair on their surface. While not tall, their small size belied their ruthless nature and effective skills. Ultimately, the Noghri were predators with toothy snouts, quick-moving eyes, and an excellent sense of smell. Their sense of smell, in fact, was so attuned that they were capable of telling a person's bloodline by scent alone. A Noghri's body was also a compact killing machine that was designed to hunt and destroy its prey.
The Gengh-Noghri were a subspecies of Noghri that developed separately from those of Honoghr.
- "Oh, yes, Noghri—I know what you and your people are. The Emperor's private Death Commandos; killing and dying at the whim of ambitious men like Darth Vader and the Grand Admiral here."
- ―Joruus C'baoth
The Noghri were natives of the planet Honoghr. Long before the Clone Wars brought devastation to their world, the Noghri were enslaved by the Rakata of the Infinite Empire. Some were also taken to the Tython system by the Tho Yor, where the Force-sensitives among them became some of the first members of the Je'daii Order. A number of Noghri slaves were later taken to the Unknown Regions where they were placed on the planet Tulpaa. While the empire itself eventually faded into history, the ex-slaves soon began worshiping the memory of the Rakatans, viewing their ancient structures as evidence of the gods' time on Honoghr. During this early age, it was known that there was a long history of blood rivalry between the various clans though by later years, they learned to co-exist with one another.
The greatest change in Noghri civilization came in the year 19 BBY during the final stages of the Clone Wars where their people entered the galactic spotlight. During a space battle fought between the Confederacy of Independent Systems and Galactic Republic, Honoghr became ravaged by the Separatist toxin Trihexalophine1138. The contaminant had come from a downed Lucrehulk-class Core Ship destroyed in the spaceborne Battle of Honoghr, and decimated a vast majority of the planet's flora. At the time, Jedi Master Rii'ke En came to the planet along with a clone trooper in order to find and retrieve the Scientific Instrument Package which was to be used as proof of the Separatists usage of biological weapons. However, the SIP was located by the Noghri who swarmed and killed the pair of intruders. They later participated in the Battle of Honoghr where they attacked not only the Republic forces led by Jedi Aayla Secura but also those of Quinlan Vos who came to retrieve the SIP for Count Dooku.
Soon after the conclusion of the Clone Wars, Darth Vader discovered the planet, and was dramatically impressed with the warrior skill of the unarmed Noghri when they slew his heavily-armed stormtrooper escort with only a few casualties on their side. In order to gain their servitude and their loyalty, Vader offered the Noghri environmental aid from the newly formed Galactic Empire. At the time, the Noghri were a largely peaceful culture based on hunting and farming, and thus felt that they had no choice but to agree to Darth Vader's offer. However, at the same time, Vader ordered his own staff to continue poisoning the planetary environment in order to ensure the slavery of the Noghri who were honor bound to serve the Sith Lord. Thus, under the guise of "helping" the planet recover from the ecological disaster, he received the homage of the Noghri, as a result of which most of the young males of the planet became Noghri Death Commandos—the personal assassins of Emperor Palpatine.
The Emperor felt that possessing an army of near unstoppable assassins and hunters that were completely devoted to him as well as killed by his simple whim was a powerful asset. His first action was to remove the Noghri homeworld of Honoghr from galactic charts as well as erase any record of their existence. Following this event, he embarked on a planned subjugation of the race in order to make them completely at his mercy. At the same time, the Noghri were used to dispose of many rivals, politicians and dissidents that opposed Palpatine.
The Noghri stayed in the lesser-known sides of the Empire that required assassins, bodyguards, and generally shady occupations. At some unknown point in the past, the Skywalker's Jedi Order reasoned that Darth Vader may have dispatched a number of Noghri to the planet Yalara. The world possessed an advanced cloaking device created by Jedi Master Broden Kel Verdox that was used to shield the planet and indigenous people from the rest of the galaxy. The Noghri still remained there as of 14 ABY, but after Jaden Korr destroyed the device, the remainder were returned home.
As a reward for Thrawn's assistance in planning the Battle of Derra IV and in his campaign against Prince Xizor and Black Sun, Vader gave him control of the Noghri. After inheriting control of the feared assassins, Thrawn used their service by sending teams of them on strike missions that required not only ruthlessness, but skill and stealth. During the Galactic Civil War, Tyber Zann of the Zann Consortium decided to inspire dread in his enemies. To accomplish this goal, he decided to strike at Honoghr in order to defeat the feared warriors of the Noghri as Zann believed that the defeat of the Empire's Noghri Death Commandos would add to his reputation. This led to the Skirmish on Honoghr where Urai Fen and Consortium forces secured a victory over the Noghri. The Noghri remained in service to the Galactic Empire after the death of Palpatine. Lord Cronal captured some and created mutated branches of Noghri assassins, to guard Dromund Kaas.
Approximately five years after the death of the Emperor, Grand Admiral Thrawn ordered the Noghri to kidnap the pregnant Leia Organa Solo. Realizing that neither she nor her children would be truly safe as long as the Noghri served the Empire, she went to Honoghr in order to convince the Noghri to leave the Empire's service. She was able to use the fact that she was the daughter of Darth Vader to convince the Noghri that the Empire had been lying to them and kept them in virtual slavery for many years. As a result, the Noghri turned against the Empire. Grand Admiral Thrawn died when his Noghri bodyguard Rukh turned on him and stabbed him.
After the death of Thrawn, Leia Organa Solo became the new master of the Noghri and thus commanded the loyalty of the best assassins as well as warriors in the galaxy. Through her, the Noghri came into the service of the New Republic and its agents. The New Republic helped resettle the Noghri to other planets, including Wayland, to give Honoghr time to heal. Many allies, relatives and even friends later receive the aid of the Noghri due to their honor bound duty to Lady Vader.
Later, in 14 ABY, Jedi Knight Jaden Korr was dispatched on a mission to the planet Yalara in order to uncover reports from an ancient holocron that spoke of a cloaking device on the world. Once there, Korr came under attack by the Imperial Remnant who were assisting the Disciples of Ragnos in addition to the Noghri warriors that were left behind on the world. These Noghri fought against both the Disciples and Korr though the latter of the two was ultimately successful in destroying the cloaking device. Any surviving Noghri were later transported back to their homeworld of Honoghr.
Over the years, Organa Solo faced mounting pressure from the New Republic Ruling Council to end the use of her Noghri bodyguard detail. This came after an unfortunate "incident" with the Barabel ambassador. Many felt suspicious of Chief of State Leia for using such a feared weapon that had previously been wielded by Emperor Palpatine. However, she maintained the use of them but only as a backup unit in case of an unexpected disaster. During a mission to the planet Nam Chorios, she was accompanied by the Noghri Ezrakh, Gshkaath and two others. All four were killed by Dzym who used the Death Seed plague to murder them. Leia and her entire family became very highly respected figures in Noghri society. Leia was later assigned two Noghri bodyguards, Cakhmaim and Meewalh, who helped protect her during the Caamas Document Crisis, throughout the Yuuzhan Vong and Swarm Wars until they were killed during the Second Galactic Civil War.
Society and culture
While small in size, Noghri were notable for being fearsome warriors. They were extremely dedicated fierce fighters and they never showed any moment where they demonstrated humor, even in their most relaxed state. Furthermore, they had a tendency to prefer the use of more primitive weaponry—such as knives—as well as unarmed combat. Their greatest strength, however, was their secrecy, as they were only ever off-world when called upon for a mission. In such times, an agent often accompanied the Noghri in order to provide them with adequate logistics and transportation in order to complete their mission in complete secrecy. Once deployed, a Noghri was single-minded in the completion of their task, which completely consumed them until their mission objective was accomplished.
As mentioned above, Noghri were notorious assassins. They also made outstanding bodyguards. In battle, they were exceptional in hand-to-hand combat. Their speech was very guttural and scratchy in nature, comparable to Dosh, the Trandoshan language. The smuggler Talon Karrde came up with the idea of hiring out individual Noghri as bodyguards.
They possessed a clan-based society that was made up of close-knit family groupings that had many different forms of customs and rituals. While they had all the social customs and rituals of a pre-space flight society, the Noghri had been provided many forms of advanced technology and machinery due to their initial servitude to the Empire. Their clans were centered around Dukhas and were led by a Dynast. A clans dukha, or meeting place at the center of a village, was where the Maitrakh usually resided. Dukha were considered somewhat sacred, belonging also to the ancestors of the clan. Individual Noghri were able to determine one of their kind's clan by their clan-scent. When referencing an individual, it was by family and lineage. Leia Organa Solo was known by her scent to belong to the same family as Darth Vader. She was then referred to as, "Lady Vader", or, in the Noghri tongue, Mal'ary'ush. Each clan had a Maitrakh, or matriarch, the storyteller, leader, and lore keeper of the clan.
Noghri were also very loyal, as shown in examples where the Noghri Death Commandos and similar groups often willingly went to their deaths to fight against those they considered enemies. A conflict of loyalty was a major event in a Noghri's life.
Trained in a wide variety of weapons, they generally carried little more than a few daggers, believing that their surroundings would provide them as needed. Their greatest pride were their fighting sickles, which were a mark of honor as well as excellent weapons that were well balanced for hand-to-hand combat. Noghri were renowned for the skill with which they threw them in battle.
- Main article: Noghri Death Commando
The Noghri Death Commandos was the first tradition formed amongst the Noghri after their service into the Galactic Empire. Using their feared warrior skills and agile nature, they became the private commandos of Darth Vader and the Emperor as well as those they decided to loan their service. They were often deployed in teams and used on missions that required stealth thus allowing them to be often deployed to eliminate problematic targets or even to capture certain individuals. Whist the Noghri preferred to use primitive weaponry, they were often accompanied by agents that handled their logistical and transportational needs.
The Noghri bodyguards were a new tradition and group that developed after the race learned of Leia Organa Solo's parentage. After that time, the Noghri became the dedicated protectors of Leia and her family with two such warriors always being nearby her, something she found somewhat frustrating and attempted to dissuade, but this did not stop her vigilant defenders.
These dedicated warriors underwent extensive training as well as testing in order to determine which warriors gained the honor of becoming the guardians of the Mal'ary'ush, the daughter of Darth Vader. They would serve her and this would result on some of them being assigned to protect important people within the New Republic, something these warriors did in order to prove themselves worthy protectors of Lady Vader. Such warriors considered their task a sacred duty which meant that they could not be bribed or blackmailed.
The first trained Noghri bodyguards were honored with their initial assignment to protect a key individual and though they were skilled, they understood that they had much to learn. As they gained experience, they would often be added into elite units and deployed for military strikes, an example of which was seen when they scouted Ithor. Once these warriors had distinguished themselves in their duties, they would finally be given the honor of serving the Skywalker and Solo families.
Whenever a bodyguard departed Honoghr, it was usually to serve the Skywalker and Solo families. The missions they were dispatched on usually varied depending on the need of the patron they served. While a bodyguard was perfectly capable of protecting any charge they saw fit, this duty was secondary compared to the greater service to the family lines of Darth Vader. In some cases, however, Leia Organa Solo was known to send Noghri to protect specific individuals and key officials from the New Republic. The great reverence the Noghri held for their patron meant that they constantly competed with one another for the honor of such assignments. Ultimately, the duty of being a bodyguard was seen as a sacred duty with blackmail or bribes being the worst crimes capable of being committed in the eyes of the Noghri people.
Notable Noghri clans
- Clan Bakh'tor
- Clan Baikh'vair
- Clan Eikh'mir
- Clan Kihm'bar
- Clan Hakh'khar
- Clan Tlakh'sar
Behind the scenes
Author Timothy Zahn originally intended for the Noghri to be the Sith, thus making Darth Vader "Dark Lord of the Sith"; this idea came into conflict with Lucasfilm and was thus forced to change. In addition, Zahn initially planned to reveal in his novel Heir to the Empire that Darth Vader's mask had been designed as a stylized impression of a Noghri face, to enhance the Dark Lord's ability to command the Noghri Death Commandos. Zahn was again overruled by Lucasfilm, but while the author was prevented from explicitly making such a suggestion, he believed that he would be permitted to do so in one of the subsequent books in Star Wars: The Thrawn Trilogy, so he designed the aliens' appearance with the mask in mind. Another idea Zahn had was for the skin color of the Noghri to change throughout their life-cycle, with Noghri children starting life with pale gray-colored skin that darkened as they aged, becoming black by the time they reached adulthood. Zahn ultimately decided to reject this concept, so as to avoid any negative racial connotations.
Notes and references
- The Essential Atlas
- The Official Star Wars Fact File
- Star Wars: Behind the Magic
- The Essential Guide to Alien Species
- The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook
- Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi
- Ultimate Alien Anthology Web Enhancement
- Star Wars: Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy
- Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption
- Planet of Twilight
- The Force Unleashed Campaign Guide
- The New Jedi Order: Force Heretic III: Reunion
- The New Jedi Order Sourcebook
- The Last Command
- The Thrawn Trilogy Sourcebook
- Dark Force Rising
- Vision of the Future
- "The Hand of Zahn"—Star Wars Insider 36
- Heir to the Empire: The 20th Anniversary Edition