At Star Wars Celebration, Dave Flioni annouced that a new character would be joining Star Wars Rebels, and it would be a Legends character, as the crowd erupted it was annouced to be RUKH voiced by Warwick Davis!
I’ve heard a lot of fans of this character from Legends, but at first I myself didn’t know the character, I had heard the name before however, and I know a lot of others feel the same and don’t know much about Rukh, so this is a summary of Rukh’s history in Star Wars Legends.
A member of the Noghri species, he was actually born on the planet Honoghr and was a member of Clan Baikh’vair. Before he was born, Honoghr was destroyed by an ecological disaster that came from a Lucrehulk-class core ship crashing on the planet’s surface in 19 BBY (Before the Battle of Yavin) during the Clone Wars. Much of the world’s plains, and jungles had been destroyed, and the remaining Noghri were forced to travel across the planet, seeking a place where they could survive.
By the time Rukh is at the age we’ll likely see him at in Rebels, the Noghri had made their allegiance known to the Empire in respect to Darth Vader, who had brought his Imperial forces to Honoghr under the disguise of working to restore the ecosystem. Rukh was among those Noghri who grew fiercely loyal to the Empire and served it as private assassins known as Noghri Death Commandos. Rukh personally held a strong loyalty toward the Empire that he was willing to execute those who even spoke about the Empire in a negative way.
3 years after the Battle of Yavin (ABY), Vader turned over the command of the Noghri over to Grand Admiral Thrawn.
When Grand Admiral Thrawn visited Honoghr, 9 years after the Battle of Yavin (ABY) after returning from the Unknown Regions, Rukh was one of his first recruits. Showing no sign of intimidation in the face of the Empire’s far more advanced technology, Rukh then impressed Thrawn so much that he made the Noghri his personal bodyguard, like how we will see him in Star Wars Rebels
Serving a figure of such power in the Empire, to the Noghri it was considered an incredible honor for a clan warrior, and Rukh believed his service to Grand Admiral Thrawn brought honor to both Clan Baikh’vair and gave himself personal honour. The position gave Rukh one of the greatest in stature of all the Noghri serving in the Empire. Armed at all times with a holstered blaster on his belt and an assassin’s knife concealed in the sleeve of his tunic, Rukh left Honoghr and traveled with Thrawn aboard his flagship Imperial II-class Star Destroyer. Rukh was not far from his master’s side, but usually stayed hidden among the shadows until summoned, moving so silently that he often startled other troopers and officers around him. He provided general protection and executed Thrawn’s enemies upon command, often in a brutal and terrifying way so as to make an example of them for others of how powerful allies Thrawn has. He gained a high status in his service to Thrawn and was told a lot of sensitive and confidential information, which the Grand Admiral discussed freely in the his company.
Rukh was present with Thrawn when the Grand Admiral took control of the Galactic Empire and waged his military campaign against the New Republic in 9 ABY.
During that time, Captain Gilad Pellaeon, a high-ranking Imperial officer and Thrawn’s right-hand man, developed a strong dislike for Rukh because of the Noghri’s tendency to sneak up on him from the shadows. Pellaeon even secretly hoped that one day he could convince Thrawn that Rukh’s protection was unnecessary and having the Noghri killed. Rukh was present to some of Thrawn and Pellaeon’s most secret and important discussions, including Thrawn’s plan to recruit a Dark Jedi in order to use the being’s battle meditation powers to coordinate Thrawn’s attacks against the New Republic. We may see Governor Price play the role of Pellaeon in this situation if it occurs.
Rukh continued to remain at Thrawn’s side as the Grand Admiral escalated his military campaign, including when Thrawn attempted to capture Luke Skywalker while the Jedi traveled to the planet Jomark. As Rukh watched from the shadows, the Chimaera managed to capture Skywalker’s X-wing starfighter in a tractor beam, only for the Jedi escape due to a faulty tractor beam. When the tractor beam operator Cris Pieterson refused to accept responsibility for the escape and tried to blame his commanding officer, Thrawn ordered Rukh to kill Pieterson. The Noghri immediately emerged from the shadows and decapitated Pieterson with his knife while the rest of the bridge crew looked on in horror.
Rukh accompanied the Grand Admiral as he interrogated Khabarakh at his home village, the Kihm’bar area of the Clean Lands. Rukh studied Khabarakh during this time there and noticed subtle body language in his hands and face that made him appear unsettled. When Thrawn and Rukh left Honoghr shortly after the interrogation, Thrawn asked Rukh for his input, and he told the Grand Admiral of his suspicions. This offended Ir’khaim, the Dynast of Clan Khim’bar, who was also in their presence. When Ir’khaim spoke up in defense of Clan Khim’bar member Khabarakh, Rukh insulted the clan by mocking their failure to capture Leia Organa Solo, and the two Noghri seemed on the verge of fighting each other before Thrawn calmed them both down.
When Thrawn later discovered that Wookiee hairs were found aboard Khabarakh’s transport, he concluded the Noghri must have been imprisoned after his failed mission on Kashyyyk and may have been compromised. Rukh accompanied Thrawn and his forces as they returned to Khabarakh’s village to arrest him. When Khabarakh spoke defiantly to Thrawn, Rukh responded harshly and demanded the Noghri show respect to the Grand Admiral. As Khabarakh and his Khim’bar clan maitrakh continued to defy Thrawn and maintain their innocence, Thrawn ordered a turbolaser attack on the hills surrounding the village as a demonstration of power and punishment. Rukh watched as this demonstration occurred, but voiced no opposition or discomfort with the attack against his home planet. Thrawn ordered Rukh to bring Khabarakh to the center of Nystao, the ruling city of Honoghr, for three days of public shaming before his Imperial imprisonment began. He did as Thrawn said, without any question.
Later on, Akh’laht, member of the Noghiri Death Commandos informed Rukh that Thrawn had deceived the Noghri people. Rukh’s initial response was one of shock and fury toward Akh’laht, as he had never before heard a fellow Noghri warrior show such disrespect for the lord of a Noghri Overclan. However, Rukh recognized that Akh’laht must have some reason for the remarks and agreed to hear him out, but warned Akh’laht could be killed if the explanation was not satisfactory. Akh’laht explained that Leia Organa Solo was the mal’ary’ush, a Honoghran word for “daughter of the savior”, a reference to Darth Vader. He related that Organa Solo secretly visited Honoghr and proved that the Empire’s Decon III droids, which were believed to be cleaning the planet’s ecosystem, were actually ensuring the world remained poisoned by planting a deadly kholm-grass that killed the remaining plant life. This led to the realization that Thrawn and his Imperial forces were intentionally keeping the Noghri in a state of infinite slavery.
Realizing that Thrawn had deceived his entire people, Rukh’s sense of devotion towards Thrawn had disappeared and instead was filled with rage toward the Grand Admiral. He believed Thrawn had to be killed for his deception, but also recognized that he had to operate carefully, as he was in the best position to exact revenge for his species. Rukh told Akh’laht he would continue to pose as Thrawn’s faithful bodyguard and wait for the right opportunity. He planned to strike the moment Thrawn learned that Rukh knew the truth and was no longer serving him, as he felt the appropriate time to punish the Grand Admiral’s deception was the moment Thrawn realized he himself had been deceived.
Soon enough, Rukh was on the Thrawn’s Star Destroyer’s bridge during the Battle of Bilbringi, one of the most vital conflicts of Thrawn’s military campaign. As the battle raged, Pellaeon read aloud a report detailing an attack at Mount Tantiss which involved Wayland natives, New Republic agents and a group of Noghri warriors. With this public revelation that the Noghri were fighting back against the Empire, Rukh saw his chance to strike. He immediately plunged his assassin’s knife through the back of Thrawn’s command chair, impaling the Grand Admiral through the chest. Just as quickly, Rukh then leapt forward and slashed his hand against Pellaeon’s throat, paralyzing the captain. After declaring the Noghri had been avenged, Rukh fled from the Chimaera’s bridge. Once Pellaeon recovered, he sounded an emergency alarm and tended to Thrawn, who in his dying breaths voiced his respect for the artistic way that Rukh assassinated him, dying like a warrior exclaiming in his final words that “But…it was so artistically done” before dying.
Meanwhile, Rukh fled to the Chimaera’s hangar bays and tried to reach a shuttle to escape. However there was a established stormtrooper unit in the hangar bay, where they falsely believed an attack against Thrawn would most likely happen. The unit intercepted and killed Rukh.
Rukh became revered as a legend among the Noghri for his role in the assassination of Grand Admiral Thrawn. To kill a widely despised foe was considered a great honor among the Noghri, and Thrawn was considered an enemy of the entire Noghri people once the Imperial betrayal of the species became known. Due to the death of Thrawn, Rukh also allowed the New Republic to succeed in victory against Thrawn’s forces and with no powerful leader, the Empire was in bigger turmoil than when the Emperor died.
Upon my research, I’ve come to learn that Rukh and Thrawn have one of the best relationships in the Star Wars universe, I can definitely see Rebels taking a lot of inspiration from this and adding their own spin to it.