I’ve had something sort of slowly brewing in my head and, I suppose, I need to get it out before reliable TLJ spoilers come along. I don’t actually expect to be right about this, but I gotta distract myself from the anxiety somehow!
Way back when I read the Thrawn novel for the first time, there was an absolutely fascinating exchange between him and the Emperor about why Thrawn would join the Empire:
“As a start, I offer information,“ Thrawn said. If he was offended, Eli couldn’t hear it in his voice. “There are threats lurking in the Unknown Regions, threats that will someday find your Empire. I am familiar with many of them.”
“I will learn of them soon enough on my own,“ the Emperor countered placidly. “Can you offer anything more?”
“Perhaps you will learn of them in time to defeat them,“ Thrawn said. “Perhaps you will not. What more do I offer? I offer my military skill. You could utilize that skill in making plans to seek out and eliminate these dangers.”
“These threats you speak of,“ the Emperor said. “I presume they’re not simply threats to my Empire?”
“No, Your Majesty,“ Thrawn said. “They are also threats to my people.”
“And you seek to eliminate all such threats to your people?“
The Emperor’s yellowish eyes seemed to glitter. “And you wish the help of my Empire?”
“Your assistance would be welcome.“
The implication that, ooh, hey, the new version of the Yuuzhan Vong are maybe out there was interesting but I sort of dismissed it as Zahn hinting at maybe recanonizing some other stuff that may-or-may-not actually happen. But it stuck with me as a reasonable explanation for why Thrawn, a character of honor at least in his own book, would join the Empire. Because he believed they were stronger than the New Republic and, when the time came for that threat from the Unknown Regions (which is where the Chiss Ascendancy is), the Empire would be an ally to the Chiss.
Fast forward to me reading a fair amount of the stuff from the sequel trilogy and the slowly growing question of, “Why the fuck is Jakku in EVERYTHING? I thought it was a backwater planet that meant nothing!” First there was the Battle of Jakku, the last major battle of the Galactic Civil War–hence all those downed ships that Rey was scavenging. Okay, fair enough. Then there’s the Emperor’s Observatory, where something more is hiding on that planet.
And it just kind of keeps going. (Bear with me, this gets kind of long. Also some very minor spoilers for the TLJ Visual Dictionary )
There are many relics from space lost during different wars that are on “auto-pilot type programs” or “hibernation” while the right person comes along to unlock its mysteries.