An elite, governing military leader of the Viscain Empire, made super-human by one of the Emperor's Artifacts.
There are at least 6 active Shades at any given time split into two groups: usually 3 Generals and 3 Specialists making up a signature squad.
Generals are provided with armies, most often of mass-produced gene soldiers, and a Gran. They are the main force unleashed upon a civilization after planetfall.
Specialist Squads aid in stabilizing newly acquired planets, but have a more versatile role, often laying groundwork for invasions prior to planetfall.
Upon completing a full term of service (usually 500 years) a Shade enters retirement and is eligible to receive a planet, complete with custom modifications and any necessary resources, as his or her pension. Even after retirement, many Shades remain active, never losing their elite status, acting as martial arts instructors or Locsard Academy professors. In times of crisis, retired Shades are sometimes called back into limited service.