Ask any Ash'rak on the street what a Naagloshii is, and they will probably give you a quizzical look and wonder if you need to lay off the spice. Unless, of course, you have the worst luck in the galaxy and happen to ask that question of an actual Naagloshii, then you will most likely disappear so rapidly and efficiently that even your own mother will forget you existed.
Naagloshii, translated as Shadow Walker in Basic, comprised those fewest Ash'rak who held control of the Force. Because of the naturally predatory instincts of the Ash'rak, those with the ability to perceive the metaphysical energies of the galaxy typically accepted the dark side of the Force into their hearts without consideration otherwise. As such, sensitivity usually resulted in incredibly powerful, but undisciplined maverick Ash'rak with destructive tendencies outweighed by their power alone. Unless caught at childhood and carefully disciplined through training, Naagloshii would inevitably become scourges upon the galaxy. Originally, those identified as possible practitioners were immediately disposed of by death. However, as the Ash'rak were inherently militaristic, this rapidly came to be considered a waste of potentially valuable instruments of war. Thus, the institution of the Naagloshii was born.
Considered Gray by the New Jedi Order, Naagloshii philosophy rejected both dark and light. Favoring discipline fused with hawkish power, this philosophy also emphasized control of emotions, but not for shake of benevolence. Rather, emotions were taught to be utilized as substance behind a soldier's power. As stated by themselves frequently, Naagloshii believed that using passion to stroke the flames of power was not inherently a path to the corruption of the dark side, so long as one kept discipline enough to prevent such emotions from becoming anything but substance. This could be a tricky path to walk, however, and Naagloshii were commonly on the borderline of darkness, with discipline alone forestalling them from accepting the beckoning hand of the dark side.
Amongst the Ash'rak, the Naagloshii operated as a shadow government. Although the Shi'ars of each Clan were publicly recognized as the leaders of the people, the Naagloshii in reality were responsible for undertaking every major decision and movement since the death of Darth Azazel. Despite the absolute authority with which they're mandates were passed down through channels, rarely did anyone but the Shi'ars know of the Naagloshii's existence. When working with regular military personnel or conducting more public operations, Naagloshii were purposely portrayed as merely special forces soldiers, called in when situations demanded elite troops. Especially amongst their allies, the Naagloshii were considered to be merely representatives of the Shi'ars' power and authority. Even the Jedi High Council, with whom the Naagloshii regularly conducted talks and business, were mostly unwise to the authority and influence which they held over the Ash'rak Clans.
Selection and training
Lyon: “Who are you?”
―Naagloshii Initiates completing a Verbal Assertion
Initiates: “I am no one. I do not exist. I am not even here. My only goal is to fulfill one purpose...and serve in shadow.”
Schooling by the Naagloshii Order was a vicious, brutal affair straight from the beginning. Initiates were subjected to rigorous combat sessions to par down the number of trainees to preferably just over twenty members, who would then go on to more advanced instruction. This was deemed necessary since Force sensitivity was often the deciding factor in rather a child was taken from their parents, but merely holding greater luck could not ensure that each recruit had what it took to truly be an operative of the Naagloshii.
True to the name of the organization, there was a frequent amount of "shadow walking", as it was called, when prospective candidates engaged in this initial no-holds barred combat against their fellow cadets. The only weapon allowed was the raw physical power of each child and training sabers similar to those used by the Sith. There was also the option of going into combat unarmed, which actually saw a lot of popularity since it tended to serve as a good marker of who would make the final cut.
Combat sessions could go on for weeks at a time since the Ash'rak had great stamina and endurance. Even so, many candidates did not survive the ordeal. Although there wasn't a direct penalty for directly killing another recruit, it was strongly discouraged. Instead, the most common means of death came from the sheer number of injuries sustained during the combat sessions, as even Ash'rak could not withstand such extreme punishment for long. After several years of these sessions, the final twenty would be advanced to the next level of training.
Although the need to prove themselves was over, the final twenty Initiates were not given any rest from their prior years of combat sessions before they were put through an additional grueling three weeks. For this reason, it was rare for the full twenty to graduate from the class. In some cases, as few as five Ash'rak have been known to last the entire length of the training. This was to ensure that only the strongest and hardiest members succeeded to achieve the honored rank.
First two weeks
The first two weeks were dedicated entirely to battle. Initiates were instructed in advanced hand-to-hand combat, including how to use the lightsaber in each of its incarnations with the most efficiency.
They were also instructed in the use of both slugthrowers and blasters. This usually started off as board education in the various types of weaponry in the galaxy and was then gradually narrowed down to expertise with one type of ranged weapon.
Such a weapon would then become a personal extension of the recruit and was never seen far from their body. After becoming proficient with the ranged armament, Initiates then learned how to craft their desired weapon with their own two hands. Most guns constructed this way were then given names by their owners.
As the first two weeks drew closed, Initiates were expected to be capable of lifting not one, but two fellow soldiers in complete battle gear. Those who could not, a rarity in the final twenty, were cut loose from the program. Those who could were then expected to protect their injured comrades as they fended off attacks from their classmates.
The fights were usually brief and the loser was not withdrawn from the program; rather the purpose of this last test was not exactly to win, but to master teamwork and experience how chaotic the battlefield of reality could most often be. As many of the Naagloshii said, "whatever could go bloody wrong would go bloody wrong".
The third and final week of advanced training was usually the most grueling, at least psychologically. Initiates were placed in a darkened chamber with another recruit and expected to emerge victorious by killing the other in some manner. The chamber would be filled with hidden traps and misdirection devices to keep both of the Initiates on their toes, and frequently an Initiate would be pared against whomever they had become closest with during training.
To make matters worse, both of the Initiates would be blindfolded and have their ears muffled so as to force them to rely solely on their sensitivity to the Force. When one of the Initiates succeeded in killing the other, the chamber would be illuminated and the survivor would be allowed to see whom they had just defeated. How the Initiate reacted to this revelation also served as a last, post-fight trial.
The Initiates that made it past the dueling chambers nevertheless still had one last obstacle to overcome before they could be declared a fully-fledged Naagloshii: the graduation test.
The essence of the graduation test was to deploy a single Initiate, fully equipped, against a numerically superior foe and discover how well they fared. Victory was not always essential to successfully pass the test; rather, it was judged on the number of enemy lives the Initiate took before returning. Needless to say, some of the Initiates fail to ever return, but depending on their performance prior to death, they could still be declared a Naagloshii posthumously, out of respect for the young person's obvious warrior prowess.
In times of war, this test would pit an Initiate against an actual enemy stronghold, one that a true Naagloshii would be expected to be capable of handling on their own. However, if the test was taken in peacetime, the Initiate was confronted by a simulated base filled with the latest combat droids armed with live-fire weaponry.
Provided the Initiate passed the graduation test and survived, they were finally inducted as a true Naagloshii of the Order.