- "'The Hand of Thrawn.' What does that mean?"
"I don't know."
"Oh. Then how come you were so scared?"
"I don't know that either, Jacen."
- ―Jacen Solo and Leia Organa Solo, studying the card for the first time
The Hand of Thrawn was a datacard stored in Emperor Palpatine's private Mount Tantiss storehouse on the planet Wayland. The title of the datacard connected it with Grand Admiral Thrawn's fortress on the planet Nirauan, but all the data was destroyed by ten years of exposure to natural elements. It was among seven datacards that Devaronian treasure hunter Lak Jit discovered in 19 ABY, but Jit was forced to hand over his discovery to New Republic Chief of State Leia Organa Solo. The New Republic nearly tore itself apart over the discovery of another datacard that Jit found, the Caamas Document, but knowledge about the existence of The Hand of Thrawn remained limited to select individuals in the New Republic hierarchy and their closest associates.
- "Yet there was a datacard with that title in the Emperor's private files. It must mean something."
"How do you know it was from his private files?"
"Because if it was something Bel Iblis could have looked up in the Kamparas archives, he wouldn't have sent Corran to ask you about it."
- ―Talon Karrde and Booster Terrik
The Hand of Thrawn datacard was created at some point during Emperor Palpatine's rule of the Galactic Empire and was included in the private files he kept in his Mount Tantiss storehouse on the planet Wayland. When the warehouse was destroyed in 9 ABY, the datacard was exposed to the elements and remained buried in the ground for ten years, which left the card unreadable. The Devaronian treasure hunter Lak Jit discovered the datacard along with six others—one of which was known as the Caamas Document—in 19 ABY, when he was digging in the storehouse's ruins. When members of the Noghri species who had settled near the mountain discovered Jit on the remains of Mount Tantiss, they forced him to hand over the datacards to New Republic Chief of State Leia Organa Solo. The datacard's reference to the late Imperial Grand Admiral Thrawn, who once nearly destroyed the New Republic, unnerved Organa Solo enough for her to risk damage to her datapad trying to read the card before cleaning it properly, though she could not understand why the name affected her so strongly. Organa Solo discovered that the information stored on the datacard had become completely corrupted.
While the crisis caused by the Caamas Document, which revealed that a group of Bothans were responsible for sabotaging Caamas planetary shields, dominated the public attention and threatened to tear apart the New Republic, the galactic government took steps to learn what the Hand of Thrawn meant. Corran Horn—a Rogue Squadron pilot and son-in-law of smuggler Booster Terrik—was sent to the Imperial-class Star Destroyer-turned-smuggling vessel Errant Venture in hopes that Terrik would be familiar with the term. A group of smugglers, including Terrik, Talon Karrde, and Mara Jade, wondered if the datacard had held information about an agent similar to an Emperor's Hand, or if it was possibly a superweapon, but Jade did not believe in either option. Finally, Jade decided to track a strange ship, which had sent a message to the Errant Venture mentioning Thrawn, to the Nirauan system in the Gradilis sector.
The information on the datacard was closely guarded, and even the largest libraries in the Empire, located on Bastion and the Ubiqtorate base on Yaga Minor, did not contain a copy of it. Members of the Sinister Triumvirate—Moff Vilim Disra, con artist Flim, and tactically brilliant stormtrooper clone Grodin Tierce, who attempted to ruin Imperial Admiral Pellaeon's peace initiative with New Republic General Garm Bel Iblis—were also seeking information about the Hand of Thrawn, but despite having decryption codes for special files sections, they found no reference to the term. Their theories on the meaning were similar to those of the members of the New Republic, but they also wondered if it might be a strategy plan that would lead to Imperial victory. When Pellaeon confronted the members of the Triumvirate, Tierce revealed his belief that he was the Hand, but Pellaeon's information about Tierce's background proved that theory wrong.
During their trip to Nirauan, Jade and Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, who knew about The Hand of Thrawn datacard, discovered the true meaning of the term when they found a fortress resembling a hand on the planet. In addition to huge databanks protected inside, the fortress housed several brilliant military minds, including Admiral Voss Parck and General Baron Soontir Fel. After their return to the New Republic, Skywalker and Jade were hesitant to reveal their discoveries even to their closest friends.
Behind the scenesEdit
The Hand of Thrawn datacard first appeared in Specter of the Past, a 1997 novel written by Timothy Zahn. It was later mentioned in the second part of The Hand of Thrawn Duology, Vision of the Future, published in 1998. The datacard was also mentioned in the 2012 reference book The Essential Reader's Companion, but it offered no further insights into the data stored on the device.