Tristaria Zelona Seithe, known almost universally by her nickname and regnal name Aria Nikina, was a half-Human, half-Tantaari bastard daughter of Genera Seithe who rose to overthrow her father and become Queen of Daispin. Pledging her planet to the Golden Empire, Aria herself became a Centurion of the Order of Keltrayu, famous the Empire over as the "Scourge of the Witch Queen" and "the Breaker of Tyrants".
By 154 ABY, Aria was widely regarded as a living legend by her fellow Centurions, and became one of the few to bear the honorific "First Centurion". She succeeded Eskol Kaartinen to become the third Prefect of the Order of Keltrayu, and was the first choice of both Kaartinen and Rin Sakaros for the post.
Daughter of the dictator
Tristaria Zelona Seithe was born in 118 ABY, the younger child of Genera Seithe and his Tantaari concubine who had been delivered to Seithe by his supporters. She was named for Tristarian Zelon, the Human who had defeated the Tantaari to install a Humanocentric dictatorship in 92 ABY. Tristaria's mother, Aharet Kazic, died shortly after her birth, and her older brother Kaiel followed her to the grave in 122 ABY.
Tristaria's father was not affectionate, looking down on his half-Tantaari daughter as something pitiable and helpless. Nevertheless, he sent her to Daispin's most prestigious Academy. Tristaria had difficulty making friends, as no one wanted to draw the notice of the dictator by befriending his daughter. Tristaria's half-siblings from her father's previous marriages were as cold as Genera Seithe himself; with her brother's death, Tristaria was the only part-Tantaari Seithe offspring, and her half-siblings never let her forget it. Her youngest older brother, Kiryn, was closer to her than the others, but was gradually drawn away from her by his father and brothers' influence.
In her second year at the Academy, Tristaria met an old Tantaari woman named Onikynah. Onikynah taught Tristaria Tantaari myths and legends, and hinted that she was special. Relieved to finally find someone who did not think of her as a mutt and was not afraid to talk to her, Tristaria went back to Onikynah for stories as often as she could. Gradually, the stories turned into reality, and Onikynah taught Tristaria to harness the power of the Force inside herself. Onikynah knew her pupil was the last descendant of the ancient Kazic line of royalty, and she gave the girl her own tribal name, Nikina, as well as shortening her given name to the nickname "Aria".
While Aria was still at the Academy, she fell in love with a young Tantaari. They were married secretly, but her father found out and had her husband put to death; Aria's half-brother Zavio carried out the execution. Grieving and bitter, Aria grew out her hair and wove it into a Tantaari-style braid to honor his memory.
Freedom for Daispin
Aria studied with Onikynah until 135 ABY, when she graduated from the Academy and was sent to be a soldier in her father's army. Her status as the dictator's daughter allowed her to keep her Tantaari-style braid in the Human army. The following year, however, Genera Seithe began a systematic attack on the last pockets of Tantaari resistance. At the 136 ABY Battle of Gantu, he threw his inexperienced daughter to the front lines, hoping to either see her triumph or be rid of her altogether.
Aria went to the front lines, but as she faced the Tantaari, she remembered Onikynah's lessons and her own heritage. Charging ahead of the Human army, she united the Tantaari behind her and led them on a victorious charge against her father's side. Killing three of her half-brothers, Aria fought her way to her father, taking him prisoner and forcing his army to surrender.
The Tantaari hailed Aria, the last Kazic, as the Queen of Daispin, and the defeated Human army conceded. Aria cut off her father's hands and forced him to watch as his friends, collaborators, and favorite lovers were executed. Sentencing him to a life of exile, subsisting only on the charity of the people he had previously dominated, Aria took the throne of Daispin and set out to make things right between the Humans and the Tantaari. Resisting calls from the Tantaari to wipe out the Humans or the Humans to reign in the same way as her father, Aria struggled to hold a middle course.
A new master
In 138 ABY, Aria gained an ally when the Golden Empire arrived at Daispin. Queen Rin Sakaros herself personally met with Aria and convinced the younger woman to ally Daispin to the Empire. In return for Daispin's membership in the Empire and Aria's service as a Centurion, the Empire stationed troops on Daispin to protect the peace Aria had forged. Aria appointed her distant cousin, the Tantaari Syr'ei, to rule as Regent in her stead, and went to the Sith Star to train.
Aria's training with the Academy and Onikynah had given her most of the skills necessary for a Centurion. The Praetors of the Order helped her refine her telekinesis and telepathy, but much of Aria's training was spent with Rin herself. Like Aria, Rin specialized in Juyo, and her tutelage increased Aria's own skills. Rin also helped Aria get firm control over her anger, channeling it into something useful in battle.
The Breaker of Tyrants
In 141 ABY, the Tribulation began. After Sorrik went south with Rin to repulse the Ssi-ruuvi Incursion, Aria remained with Tariun Sakaros and the Prime Fleet. Deprived of half his ships, Tariun was forced to improvise and pursue less traditional strategies in undermining the Vagaari, and Aria swiftly became one of the vital elements of his plan.
Using what information Royal Intelligence and the Expeditionary Library had been able to furnish, Tariun sent Aria behind enemy lines, often with only a squad of Intelligence commandos and a supply of weapons, although occasionally other Centurions accompanied her. Aria's orders were to incite the enslaved or subjugated populations held by the Vagaari to rebellion. Tariun was familiar with Aria's revolution on Daispin and hoped she could duplicate the effect.
The young Centurion succeeded far beyond Tariun's wildest expectations. She found many worlds where the population despised the Vagaari and simply considered the obstacles to revolution insurmountable. Providing weapons and tactical training, Aria taught them to fight for themselves, although she was often with them, carving through Vagaari troops with her signature paired lightsabers. As worlds fell into internal turmoil, the Vagaari were forced to divert resources to their own problems.
Aria refined her strategies and techniques as the war went on, and even began teaching other Centurions insurgency tactics. In both the Golden Empire and among Vagaari slave populaces, she earned the nickname "the Breaker of Tyrants". One group which had heard of Rin Sakaros's "magical" powers also gave Aria the title "Scourge of the Witch Queen". Both nicknames stuck, and Tariun encouraged them, feeling they both added to Aria's mystique and bolstered confidence in her abilities when she arrived on new worlds. The Vagaari offered increasingly high bounties for Aria's capture, but she evaded their agents at every turn.
In the wake of the decimation of the Vagaari and the fall of their Empire, Aria assisted some of the very worlds she had helped liberate in forging new governments. When the Ministry of Diplomacy took over that role, she worked in a number of assignments throughout the Empire, though she focused largely on law enforcement. She was also given instructional responsibilities, including teaching insurgency courses to Royal Intelligence agents and stealth and infiltration tactics to her fellow Centurions. She helped train the first generation of Nikina Commandos, who were named in her honor.
In 144 ABY, Aria accompanied Rajj-Yo and Vem to Nar Shaddaa to defend Nagarian Sakaros from attacks by the One Sith. During a duel with the Sith Lords, she was fighting one while a Twi'lek Sith attacked her from behind. Before she could respond, Vem grabbed the Twi'lek and the two toppled down into the depths. After the Sith were defeated, Aria was distraught over Vem's disappearance, blaming herself. She felt guilty when he was recovered with a mangled leg, which was eventually amputated and replaced with a cybernetic prosthetic in the Empire. Vem eventually sought her out to tell her she should feel no guilt, as he would have been happy to die to protect a sister.
When the Reawakened began the Nightmare War in 149 ABY, Aria was recalled to the Sith Star. Rin had foreseen an attack on Daispin, and sent Aria to repel the invaders, along with several Royal Army cohorts (including the elite 11th Massassi Cohort) and her fellow Centurion Rajj-Yo. Aria's "command" of the battle quickly became front-line fighting along with the Royal Daispin Militia, leaving tactical command to Colonel Eihwaz. During the fight, Aria dueled the Anzat Dark Jedi Sacco Vyrak. Though she had to push her abilities to their utmost limits and endured a broken arm, she managed to kill Vyrak, losing an eye in the process.
After the enemy army withdrew from Daispin, Rin left Aria there to help the planet rebuild and to recover herself. During her time at home she found herself at odds with Syr'ei, who felt Aria's place was on Daispin, not gallivanting around the galaxy as a Centurion. Aria refused a cybernetic eye and did not take to wearing an eyepatch like Breek Zagrev, preferring to wear her injuries proudly. She stayed on Daispin until called again to the Sith Star in preparation for the Battle of Dolomir. When the flagship was boarded, Aria fought alongside Massassi, Royal Marines, dockhands, and Selish Anteran to defend the main hangar bay.
In the aftermath of the war, Rin offered Aria the chance to resign her commission and return to Daispin as Queen-Consul. Aria declined the offer, but Rin left it open to her in the future.
Troubled heart, troubled home
By 153 ABY, Aria found she was having difficulty keeping her Juyo focus, and nearly injured Kieran Sapphire with a live lightsaber during a sparring exercise when her drive for victory started to cross into Force Rage. Startled by her lack of control, she isolated herself from her siblings, trying to find the source of her unease. In a spar with Rin a week later, Aria again lost her grip, and it was not until a Falling Avalanche blow from Rin broke her wrist that Aria snapped out of her mania. Thoroughly uncomfortable, she requested a temporary leave of absence to return to Daispin.
On Daispin, Aria returned to the royal palace, and Syr'ei arranged a variety of suitors to come visit her. However, she also poisoned Aria, weakening her for the assassin Syr'ei had contracted. As a dazed Aria wandered out of the city without her lightsabers, the assassin attacked, and though Aria survived the encounter, both of them fell into the sea. Aria washed up on an island two kilometers offshore, spending days growing progressively weaker from the action of the poison and dehydration.
Syr'ei reported Aria missing and presumed dead to Rin, who sent Vem, Malyri and Kylaea Porén, and Kelto Nembask to find her. It was Vem who spotted the sun shining in her red hair offshore and swam to the island, returning her to the mainland under the protection of a squad of Assault Commandos. Though she was not fully healed, Aria returned to the capital that same night to confront Syr'ei. To feign her death and give her time to sneak into the palace, Aria agreed to sacrifice her long braid—which had never been cut—letting Vem slice it off and drip his own blood onto it. Distracted by Vem and Kelto, Syr'ei allowed herself to be isolated in the throne room, where Aria emerged and challenged her to duel for the throne.
Aria Nikina: “I do not think there are words, in any language that I know of... with which I could express my gratitude for all you have done here.. Each of you has been more family to me than my own flesh and blood.. and you've saved my life on numerous occasions.. I, and the people of Daispin as well, are eternally in your debt.”
— Aria awakens to find her siblings standing guard over her
Vem: “You owe us nothing, sister, we're proud to be here.”
Kelto Nembask: “You're our sister. Family doesn't keep score.”
Malyri Poren: “You'd do the same for any of us.”
A terrified Syr'ei took up an electrostaff, but Aria was so furious that she attacked bare-handed. Syr'ei managed only a glancing blow before Aria slipped behind her and broke her neck. Formally reclaiming her throne and daring any other challengers to take it from her, Aria enjoyed her victory for only a moment before poisoning and exhaustion caught up with her. She was forced to enter a healing trance to restore herself, and her four siblings stood guard over her until she recovered.
Master and commander
Vem and Kelto were recalled to field duty, but Rin left the Porén twins on Daispin, ostensibly to assist Aria in the task of reestablishing order, although they were also there to dissuade any further attempts on their sister's life. By early 154 ABY, Daispin had recovered from its turmoil, with Aria ruling as acting Consul. In that year, however, Rin sent Eskol Kaartinen, Te`net Organi, and Chindal on a highly classified mission into Killik territory. Because the Order could not be without a leader, Rin relieved Kaartinen of his duties as Prefect, and promoted Aria in his place. Vem was installed as Consul of Daispin.
Aria spent her first year as Prefect settling into the position and changed little; she felt change for change's sake was worthless, and believed her predecessors had left her a strong foundation. In time, however, she began to put her mark on the Order as Tariun and Eskol had. While all Novices had been expected to perform some fieldwork with Centurions before commissioning, Aria mandated that every Novice spend at least one full year in field assignments, supervised by at least three different Centurions. She felt actual knowledge was irreplaceable by training, and that Novices should observe the styles of many different Centurions to help develop their own. Due to her love of storytelling and the high premium she placed on the camaraderie of the Order, Aria also ordered that all Novices of "school age" give reports on fallen Centurions on Remembrance Day. The group recitation of the lives of the fallen quickly became a somber but popular tradition.
When Selkee was accused of conduct unbecoming a Centurion in 155 ABY for her covert tryst with the Chiss captain Sak'anto'nussos, Aria summoned her back to the Sith Star for judgment, though she quickly cleared her young sister of any wrongdoing, satisfied with Selkee's assurance that her objective judgment had not been compromised.
Aria took occasional field assignments when she could, including a mission to Korratoa in 156 ABY along with Selkee, Luna Raquelsei, and Azalyn Kass`l. She was a pallbearer for Eskol Kaartinen at his funeral in 157 ABY and among the eulogists who honored their fallen brother at Keltrayu's Tomb. Aria was deeply affected by Kaartinen's death, especially coming as it did in tandem with Te`net Organi's resignation from the Order. Aria joined Breek, Tariun, and Nagarian Sakaros in counseling Rin to disclose the circumstances of Kaartinen's death to the Order, especially as she observed some vindictiveness against Te`net starting among the Centurions.
A new song
During her early tenure as Prefect, Aria sometimes felt alone; having risen to command of the entire Order, she had some measure of separation from her siblings, and though she tried to remain their sister as much as possible, she could not deny her authority over them all. She frequently spent time with Sorrik who, though a Centurion, was taken outside her command given his assignment as Prime Legate. It was Sorrik who introduced Aria to Aren Teff, the Human captain of the Sith Star.
Though Teff was seventeen years Aria's senior, the two got along well; Teff occasionally teased Aria about her discomfort with spaceflight, but she found herself visiting the bridge nonetheless. The two progressed to private meetings and dinners before eventually becoming lovers. Though Aria was committed to not marrying again after her husband's murder early in life, she was very fond of Teff.
In early 158 ABY, not long after Rin left the Empire in a quest to get her telepathy back, Aria became pregnant. She disclosed her pregnancy to Vem and the people of Daispin, but kept Aren's identity as the father a secret, not wanting to either galvanize Humanocentrists on Daispin or expose Aren to potential danger. Sonata Nikina was born in the penultimate month of the year, and after two weeks of recovery aboard the Sith Star, Aria took her daughter to Daispin to present her to the people. She gave Sonata, as heir apparent, the nickname "Song of the Storm". While on Daispin, she discussed with Vem her plan to eventually send Sonata to Daispin to learn how to rule from Vem—Aria was confident in her combat skill and leadership of the Order, but felt she was too hot-tempered for planetary governance.
Powers and abilities
Praetor-Blademaster Kieran Sapphire considered Aria the greatest master of Jar'Kai in the Golden Empire after Tariun Sakaros and Jadian Star. In addition, she was generally accepted by her siblings as the Empre's greatest Juyo stylist after Rin Sakaros herself until the rise of Vos'elk'eetash, and was one of the few Centurions who knew the discipline. Aria's savage and vicious lightsaber style left few of her siblings able to stand against her, and even Sacco Vyrak (himself considered the best swordsman of the Reawakened) was unable to defeat her. When pushed, her battle frenzy could turn into Force rage. Her fellow Centurions ranked her with Breek Zagrev and Rajj-Yo as one of the best in the Order in battlefield combat.
Having been trained on Daispin, Aria did not have the heavy emphasis on telekinesis and telepathy her siblings did, as demonstrated during the Battle of the Sith Star when she followed Selish Anteran's lead in toppling a ship onto a nest of Veracht rather than working in concert with him. However, she was still sufficiently powerful and trained to accomplish the feat along with Anteran. She was capable of precise Force jumps and Force pushes that sent enemies flying.
A polyglot, Aria spoke Orhyo, Sith, Minnisiat, and Iscali in addition to her native Basic and Tantaari. She was schooled in a variety of martial arts on Daispin and was a quick study of Var Shek as well; despite her small stature, she could defeat or at least match even the best martial artists in the Order of Keltrayu.
As the daughter of a dictator, Aria received extensive early training in diplomacy, negotiation, and strategy. After her victory over her father, she proved herself able to inspire loyalty in others. This early success led to her developing a talent for fostering and guiding insurgency which she perfected during the Vagaari War.
Appearance and personality
Despite her relatively short stature among her siblings (she stood only 1.63 meters [5'4"] tall), Aria was instantly recognizable by her fiery red hair, which she wore with a single long braid to complement her otherwise shoulder-length hair until 153 ABY. She had green eyes; after her duel with Sacco Vyrak, her blinded right eye took on a milky color. Her freckled skin bore numerous scars from duels and fights. She had an athletic physique and, rare among Centurions, almost never wore her Centurion's uniform, preferring comfortable fighting garments, although she wore her uniform on ceremonial occasions and did wear the Emblem of the Order. Aria often wore an arm clasp which featured the royal crest of Daispin. She carried a pair of identical straight-hilt lightsabers with blue blades.
Deeply in touch with her Tantaari heritage, Aria took to wearing her hair in a long braid to match the head-tail braids worn by full Tantaari warriors. She was well-versed in the myths and legends of the Tantaari, and often used them to explain concepts to those younger than herself. Normally calm and cool, Aria could become aggressive in battle when those she cared for were threatened, and while her anger drove her on, she sometimes flirted with the line between fury and rage.
Place a blade in my hand and I will rise honorably to the occasion of battle, for I know and trust that I will always know how to strike a foe at its weakest, especially if my family or friends are threatened... but instead place a scepter in my hand, and I find myself doubting every decision, every move that I make.
—Aria Nikina to Rin Sakaros
Many beings in the Order of Keltrayu, the Royal Army, and Royal Intelligence considered Aria a shrewd tactician and strategist, particularly in insurgent movements. While Aria considered herself an excellent warrior, she was less confident in her ability to govern in peacetime.
Aria's fellow Centurions admired and respected their sister, and Aria was closer with her comrades than with anyone else in the galaxy. Though proud of her skills, Aria did not resent those few Centurions more capable than herself, and actively encouraged Selkee's development even as the Chiss eclipsed Aria's own skill in Juyo. Aria enjoyed a particularly close relationship with Vem, who had saved her life twice and whom she trusted to govern her homeworld in her absence.
Behind the scenes
Aria's nickname "Scourge of the Witch Queen" is based on the title "Scourge of God" attributed to Attila the Hun; Attila was so dubbed because the peoples conquered by Attila thought he was sent to them as a punishment from God.