An original insignia for the Empire of the Hand.
"The Unknown Regions are the future of the Empire."
―Mitth'raw'nuruodo to Dagon Niriz[src]
The Empire of the Hand was an autocratic government that was secretly established by Grand Admiral Thrawn in the Unknown Regions. Sharing the same vision of the future, Thrawn and Emperor Palpatine organized the exploration and the pacification of the Unknown Regions in parallel to the establishment of the Galactic Empire. Combining Chiss and Imperial ideologies, Thrawn's shadow empire was created with the purpose of protecting the galaxy from various threats that hid within the Unknown Regions, including extra-galactic invasions.
Government and politicsEdit
"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 faction that Grand Admiral Thrawn founded on 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.
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. 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.
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.
Despite the premature collapse of the Empire of the Hand, 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. 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.
"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]
Thrawn made his first contact with then-Chancellor Palpatine, 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.
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.
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.
"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. 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.
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 many looked to Thrawn as a new source of hope for the Chiss. 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 famous campaign. But agreeing with Thrawn's vision, many Chiss aristocrats unofficially supported Thrawn's renegade actions.
In 10 BBY, Thrawn built a vast information complex on Nirauan, the Hand of Thrawn, and made it his base of operations.
Peacekeeper of the Unknown RegionsEdit
"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. He came back here to protect them."
―Voss Parck and Mara Jade[src]
In 3 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.
A year 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.
Thrawn's final campaignEdit
"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."
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.
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 believes in the Grand Admiral's death, believing in another of Thrawn's stratagem. In fact, he said he would return to them ten years after his announced death.
Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade in the Hand of Thrawn.
"Thrawn has returned!"
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.
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 were forced to involuntarily destroy the clone to escape. Before they did, R2-D2 managed to download an unaltered copy of the Caamas Document.
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.
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.
"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. The Chiss Ascendancy took advantage of it to begin to absorb the Empire.
The Empire of the Hand disappeared sometime during the Yuuzhan Vong War. 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.
"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, at the onset of the Battle over Exodo II[src]
Despite their absence in the years following the Yuuzhan Vong War, the Empire of the Hand ultimately survived in deep space, 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 at an unknown point in time that the Hand was still an active state. As Head of State of the Imperial Remnant, Fel kept the secret of the Hand's survival to himself for security purposes.
Natasi Daala, a 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 its forces to aid the Remnant and its leader. After converging on Daala's position, a battle commenced to determine the future of the Imperial Remnant.
"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]
The Empire of the Hand maintained many visual connections to the Galactic Empire through its warships (including Star Destroyers), vehicles, use of stormtrooper armor and Imperial uniforms. 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 as stormtroopers. Despite the disdain of the Ruling Families for Thrawn, the Chiss constituted the bulk of the Empire of the Hand forces.
The Nssis-class Clawcraft was the better example of successful collaboration between Chiss and Imperial engineers.
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. One of them was Baron Soontir Fel.
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. 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.
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[src]
Thrawn explored the Unknown Regions more than anyone else before him.
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.
In 22 ABY, the Wild Space system Kariek joined the Empire of the Hand.