We are the defenders of Liberty, the warriors of Justice, the Avengers of the Downtrodden. We are the Free Knights and we shall never surrender!
—Free Knight Creed
The Free Knights were a force-sensitive organisation, styling itself both a continuation and successor to the Jedi Order after the reformation of the Galactic Republic into the Galactic Empire. The Order was founded at the end of the Clone Wars and would go on to become a major sect of Force Wielders in subsequent eras.
Following the issue of Order 66 and the commencement of the Great Jedi Purge, many Jedi found themselves betrayed and killed by the same clones they had spent the last three years fighting alongside. Those that survived fled and went into hiding, though some actively tried to resist the newly formed Galactic Empire to no avail. A handful of these survivors found themselves in the custody of their former enemies, the Separatists, and since they now shared a common enemy the two groups formed an alliance of convenience. Following the founding of the Dominion of Free Systems, many Jedi that had remained with their Separatist “friends” also came to together and founded a new order of force wielders; The Free Knights.
The Free Knights were initially modeled as a Carbon copy of the Jedi Order that preceded it. However, most of its “senior” leadership (particularly Mar Re’Vulya who had first proposed their order work hand-in-hand with the Dominion against the Empire and it’s Sith leaders) voiced their beliefs that the downfall of the Jedi Order had been both because of their complacency and lack of militancy. As such, the structure of the Order was overhauled and greater emphasis was placed on Combative training over the study of Diplomacy and Rhetoric. Furthermore, the ranks within the Order were also changed heavily in order to better display its developments over the Jedi Order.
When one joined the Free Knights, they were given the Rank of Initiate. Following their training as an initiate, three paths lay before the initiate; become an Aspirant under the direct tutelage of a Knight of the Order (Whether they be an Avenger, Defender or Paladin), pursue a live amidst the Scribes of the Order or take what they had learned and use it to make the Galaxy a better place. The Role of Jedi Knight was split between three different titles; Avengers, Defenders and Paladins. The Role of the Avenger was purely to aid the Dominion Military, whether it be in an Offensive or Defensive capacity, while the Defenders performed roles more traditionally associated with the Jedi, namely keeping the peace and settling internal disputes within Dominion territory. Avengers and Defenders were considered equals in the order, acting as the Junior Knights of the Order with Paladins as their seniors. When one graduated from the role of Aspirant, the council appointed them a role as either Avenger or Defender based on how they completed their trials. To advance to the rank of Paladin, a member of the order had to have served in the capacity of both Avenger and Defender for three years each as well as mentored an Aspirant. The equivalent ranks of Master were the Elders, the highest ranking of which was the Grand Elder.
There were several standalone honorary ranks within the Order, the most notable of which was Sentinel which functioned as a higher-ranking Paladin who had served the order with distinction, such as Sentinel Kir Syman or his apprentice Junna Fol.
While still adherents of the Light Side of the Force, The Free Knights did not spend as much effort on meditation and contemplation of the Force as they did training in its utilisation as a means to bring peace and liberty to the Galaxy and destroy any who followed the Dark Path. The latter of these two tenants would be eased following the redemption of Anakin Skywalker and the death of Palpatine, as such an act proved it was possible to turn away from the Dark Side. This allowed some redeemed Dark Side Wielders to join the order, including the Orders most famous Battle Master, Bann Bendra who himself had previously served as one of Palpatines Dark Side Elite.
Furthermore, the Free Knights firmly believed that the Jedi Orders complacency leading up to and during the Clone Wars, coupled with its long lack of true militancy, were key to its downfall in 19 BBY. As such, the Free Knights advocated more emphasis on Martial Training over Spiritual as well as training in weapons other than the iconic Lightsaber, such as Blasters, Stun Batons and Electrostaves. Furthermore the Free Knights also stressed maintaining a strong connection with the Dominion Military, an act that left them at odds with Luke Skywalker and the New Republic in general after the fall of the Galactic Empire.
While the fall of the Jedi Order had largely led to a series of Sith innovations in regards to lightsaber to lightsaber combat in Imperial Space, The Free Knights continued to innovate upon and preserve the art of Lightsaber combat themselves. The classical forms of combat were preserved and taught to new initiates, with the exception of Form VII (Juyo) which was largely untaught due to the lack of Masters who specialised in it until the redemption of Bann Bendra. Furthermore, the Free Knights worked on developing new forms of combat in readiness to face off against the Empire and its agents. Most of these developments came in response to the introduction of Personal Light Shields, devices built into the bracers of Free Knight uniforms that projected a buckler-like field of plasma capable of withstanding attacks from repelling both Lightsabers and Blasters. To compensate for the addition of this device, new forms of combat were developed:
- Pflichtform: A Primarily defensive form, developed largely from Form III: Soresu. In addition to tighter movements in order to maximise protection, Pflichtform users primarily used their Light Shields to stop incoming blaster fire, or accurately repel it at hostiles.
- Racheform: An offensive form, combining aspects of both Form II and Form V combat. The Light Shield was rarely used, and even then only exclusively against Blaster-wielding opponents like Stormtroopers.
- Angriff Form: A highly aggressive form, derived for both Forms IV and VII that was devised by Bann Bendra. This form would use the Light Shields to aggressively repel incoming attacks, whether they be from a Saber or Blaster, while also applying pressure with overwhelming agile offense. The style was less popular than the previous two for similar reasons to traditional Juyo, as the aggressiveness required in the form would often bring one dangerously close to the Dark Side.
- Waatcher-Form: The ultimate evolution of Plichtform. Originally developed by Mar Re’Vulya after watching recordings of Obi-Wan Kenobi. This form prioritised immovable defence and it was often said that a master of this form was better protection than a Deflector Shield.
The Free Knights would go on to produce some of the greatest Lightsaber duellists of their era, such as Kir Syman whose battle with the self-declared Sith Lord Darth Petruv, during the Second Battle of Utapau was one of the greatest duels within the Rebellion Era, Kir’s mastery of Ataru finding its equal in the Siths heavily hybridised technique. Likewise Bann Bendra’s mastery over both Juyo and Angriff Form was said to be a unique spectacle to behold, with his apprentice, Sol Karaya, and her Angriff Form being labelled a “thing of Passion and Beauty”.