The Order of Keltrayu was a group of Force-using warriors who served Rin Sakaros and her Golden Empire. As such, they were roughly analogous to the Jedi Order or the Imperial Knights, though in function they were a mix of both. The Order's officers were charged with various law enforcement and peacekeeping duties in the Empire, as well as military and espionage roles on Rin's behalf.
Originally named the Order of the Golden Empire, the Order was renamed after Keltrayu, Rin's first disciple and traditionally regarded as the Order's first member, was killed in battle. Its members (called Centurions) received all of their initial training and much of their later training aboard the Sith Star, which functioned as the capital of the Empire, and thus remained close to the Sovereign and constantly under her watchful eye during their development.
Centurions could be recruited at any age, and as the Empire expanded it saw Novices admitted as young as infancy and as old as their late twenties. Only beings capable of wielding lightsabers and speaking Orhyo could be admitted to the Order, as their purpose was to protect and enforce, not to meditate. Numerous Centurions developed popular followings among the Empire's citizens, either through famous achievements for the Empire or dying in its service.
Rin Sakaros began what would become the Golden Empire in 87 ABY with only three Force-sensitives: herself, her brother Tariun, and her apprentice Keltrayu. The first few planets which came under the Empire's sway offered no potential disciples, though Tariun and Keltrayu remained close to Rin, commanding her forces in case of battle and acting as her agents, representatives, and occasionally spies to new worlds.
After a dozen or so worlds were acquired, however, the three leaders began to notice and recruit Force-sensitives. Training at this time was unsystematic, and handled by Rin, Tariun, and Keltrayu, each teaching their areas of interest and specialty. After a dozen or so potentials joined, however, Rin and her two generals came up with a basic outline of the Order's structure, creating the ranks of Novice and Centurion and the name "Order of the Golden Empire" in 94 ABY. Since the Order existed to serve Rin and her government, Tariun, as her foremost servant, was installed as Prefect of the Order. Keltrayu became the first Centurion.
The Order continued to grow, expanding to dozens of members, including one fully-trained Centurion, by the time of the Great Liberation. The Novices often spent time observing the command element of the war, and senior Novices even took the field alongside soldiers. Halfway through the war, at the Battle of Tizgo V in 101 ABY, Keltrayu sacrificed his life to protect Rin and her army. Subsequently, Rin renamed the Order in his honor.
With the war's successful conclusion and the acquisition of the former Tetrarchy and its eighty-three constituent worlds, Rin found a wealth of new disciples. The Order of Keltrayu swelled accordingly, and Rin and Tariun created the rank of Praetor, to help relieve some of the pressure of command.
Expanding along with the Empire it served, by 141 ABY the Order boasted roughly a thousand members, most fully trained Centurions, as well as several Praetors and over a hundred Novices. The Vagaari War and the Ssi-ruuvi Incursion proved calamitous for the Order, however; approximately ten percent of the Order's Centurions were killed in combat, with many more injured and thirteen deserting their posts, only to be hunted down and killed by their more faithful comrades. The Shest Minor Seven were a group of Centurions who gained fame and respect after dying in battle during the Ssi-ruuvi Incursion.
The Order received a relative surge of new members following the Nightmare War, when orphans from devastated Dolomir and other worlds subject to the ravages of the Reawakened largely became wards of the state and were subjected to midi-chlorian tests. Another recruitment surge came with the passage of the Midi-chlorian Registration Law in 156 ABY. The two combined helped the Order rebuild its numbers after the tumultuous 140s decade.
Rin, Tariun, and Keltrayu based their Order on numerous other Force-using agencies, but the most prominent influences were the Jedi Order and the Imperial Knights, with a marked influence from the Sith as well. Like the Jedi, the Centurions were a multipurpose agency tasked with various law enforcement, mediation, and military roles in the Golden Empire. Like the Imperial Knights, they were trained to use and respect the Force as they would the most powerful of weapons, but most did not meditate on it and none treated it as a self-aware entity. Like the Sith, they embraced all the various powers of the Force, declaring nothing "off limits" so long as it was justifiably used in the line of duty.
Distinct differences separated the Centurions from each of their predecessors. Their ruthlessness in battle and lack of a distinction between "light" and "dark" completely separated them from the Jedi. Their utility for multiple purposes throughout the Empire (as well as the size of the Order) was in marked contrast to the small group of Imperial Knights, all of whom were at the personal command of the Emperor. Also unlike the Imperial Knights, the ultimate allegiance of the Centurions was to the Sovereign, not to any particular concept of the Force; an attempt by Centurions to remove the Sovereign, regardless of her conduct, could never be considered legally legitimate or defensible. However, the Centurions did serve the people they protected and were expected to have empathy for the citizens of the Empire, unlike the Sith teaching of focus on self and personal advancement.
Centurions of the Order of Keltrayu were empowered to enforce all laws of the Empire, as well as any laws of a system they happened to be on, and could use any level of force they deemed necessary in the line of duty. In addition, they often carried out personal errands and commands from the Sovereign or the Prefect. As the Sovereign had the power to sentence any citizen to death without trial, Centurions were generally her first choice of assassins, though such a death sentence was rare.
Centurions were not obligated to serve for life, though the vast majority chose to do so. However, they could resign their commissions only with the permission of the Sovereign, and such permission was never granted during wartime. Due to the strong influence of Rin Sakaros in their training, those choosing to resign from the Order often continued in public service in some other form, usually diplomatic or military service.
Full Centurions were allowed to marry with the permission of the Sovereign, with the exception of the Royal Guards, though chastity was not enforced for either group. The full membership of the Order was classified as a state secret, so as to facilitate undercover work by the Centurions. However, several Centurions attained widespread fame, including the distinguished Legates Sorrik and Breek Zagrev and the warrior Rajj-Yo.
Like all agencies within the Golden Empire, technically the entire order reported directly to the Sovereign. However, unlike many other agencies, this tended to remain true in practice as well. Since the Order existed to execute many of Rin's more specialized or delicate commands, they were substantially closer to her. In addition, Rin herself devoted extensive time to their training, forging a bond between herself and her disciples. The Sovereign of the Golden Empire was styled "Master of the Order of Keltrayu".
The day-to-day leader of the Order was the Prefect, who answered personally to the Sovereign and sat on the Grand Council of the Golden Empire. He had full command over the Order's activities, including training and punishing the Order's officers, as well as promotions and assignments for them. In practice, Rin Sakaros often involved herself greatly in these decisions as well. From the foundation of the Order until 140 ABY, the Prefect of the Order was Tariun Sakaros. He was temporarily replaced in that year by Sorrik, then permanently succeeded in 141 ABY by Eskol Kaartinen, who was followed by Aria Nikina in 154 ABY.
The Empire's government encouraged parents who believed their children to be Force-sensitive, having observed them demonstrating obviously super-normal abilities, to bring them to the attention of Royal Consuls, who would contact the Order for evaluation. If the child in question was found to have a strong connection to the Force, it would be evaluated again by a high-ranking officer of the Order, or occasionally by the Sovereign or Prefect personally. The Prefect had final authority over admitting anyone to the Order.
Force-sensitives selected for training were called Novices, a broad rank that encompassed the entire period of a member's basic training, and corresponded roughly to both the Jedi Initiate and Padawan ranks.
Full officers of the Order, allowed to take field assignments without supervision, were known as Centurions. This was by far the most common rank in the Order, and in 140 ABY numbered roughly 900 individuals. A Centurion, in terms of both rank and skill, corresponded most closely to a Jedi or Imperial Knight, though more experienced Centurions achieved levels of skill worthy of the mantle of "master" in those traditions.
The highest rank in the Order, apart from its Prefect (the Sovereign was not technically considered a member of the Order), was Praetor. This did not correlate to ranks such as Jedi Master; instead, it was a "special duty" position. Examples included:
- Praetor (unhyphenated): A Centurion installed in command over other Centurions, generally to provide "on the ground" authority without having to consult the Prefect. Such positions were commonly short-term, an in-house equivalent of the military Legates. A notable exception was Breek Zagrev, who, after serving as a Praetor several times, was re-issued the rank in 141 ABY and never had it rescinded.
- Praetor-Instructor: A Centurion selected for the duty of assisting in training the Order's Novices.
- Praetor-Recruiter: A Centurion tasked with evaluating potentials for admittance into the Order.
All varieties of Praetors could be properly addressed simply as "Praetor".
Foremost of all, a Centurion serves , and to train to become one is to commit to a life in service to others, knowing that in the face of the commands of the Sovereign, the needs of the Empire, the duties of the Order, and the afflictions of our people, your needs will always come last. Not all can walk this path, and there is no dishonor in those unequal to the task. But if you will commit to this journey, commit heart and soul, for strength of will and devotion will carry you on long after the body would fail you.
—Eskol Kaartinen inducts Rayne Turgachia into the Order as a Novice
Novices of the Order were generally admitted at a young age, though they were taken only with the permission of their parents. Since the vast majority of Novices were recruited on the impetus of their own parents, the usual age for joining the Order was closer to seven or eight than infancy. Exceptions could be made to the rule, and some were admitted in their teens or even adulthood if they were discovered only later in life.
For most Novices, however, training was a combination of academics and Force training. Centurions were expected to be scientifically and culturally literate members of the Empire as well as warriors, and were educated in traditional subjects such as mathematics, science, history, diplomacy, and astrophysics. All Novices were expected to speak Orhyo and Sith fluently by the time they became Centurions, and the vast majority were at least conversational in Basic as well. Novices were also encouraged to develop their own unique abilities, and took to such diverse pursuits as art, writing, and ship mechanics. All Novices were given time each day for their homework or individual pursuits.
For their professional training, Novices were taught lightsaber combat extensively, and given exposure to Forms I, II, III, IV, and V during their training; after developing a basic grounding in each form, teenage Novices were allowed to select one in which they would specialize. For very rare students with good self-control and potential, Rin Sakaros would occasionally teach Juyo as well. Tariun Sakaros in particular tried to teach the Novices to use "lesser" weapons such as blasters and grenades, as well as teaching them to avoid such threats. Both Sakaros siblings also taught Novices elements of Var Shek.
Novices were trained in the use of the Force in many aspects, with particular emphasis on telepathy, mental shielding, and telekinesis. Telekinesis provided obvious combat advantages, while mental training enabled Centurions to sense deceit or danger while simultaneously guarding their own thoughts from external penetration. The single (and glaring) exception to this rule was Rin, who used her own uncommonly great telepathic powers to influence and guide the development of the minds of her Novices as they grew, both aiding their comprehension and cementing their very profound personal loyalty to her, though Rin herself considered it simply opening their minds to exactly what she was trying to teach them without the muddling of words.
Once Novices had attained a basic level of competence, they were often sent on field assignments with Centurions to broaden their horizons and increase their experiences. Those who demonstrated military aptitude were occasionally assigned to ships in the Empire's fleet. Using holographic simulations or Rin's ability to cast intricate mental illusions, Novices were conditioned from the beginning of their combat training to fight without fear and with total dedication to their missions, regardless of personal consequence.
Novices who passed a grueling series of physical, mental, and Force-related tests, including testing stealth abilities and several sparring sessions, were promoted to full Centurions. Once promoted, however, they were expected to continue their training, refining their lightsaber skills and seeking any areas of specialization they preferred, such as military command, diplomacy, legal knowledge, or stealth and assassination skills.
Uniforms and equipment
In training, Novices of the Order wore tan or brown work uniforms, designed to endure many trials without tearing or being permanently damaged.
Full Centurions wore navy blue tunics and pants with black boots (unless of a species for which boots were unsuitable, such as Fyaar and Zykeds) and hunter green overtunics trimmed in black, cinched across their waists with black leather belts. The overtunics had shoulder pads to which the Centurions' black capes were clipped; both clip points bore a muted version of the Emblem of the Order. Some Centurions elected to wear black gloves, while others preferred their hands bare or were biologically unsuited to wearing gloves, such as the Athans.
For dress occasions, they wore black pants and shirts with hunter green overtunics trimmed in gold, with black and gold boots. The dress uniform also included decorative black and gold leather bracers emblazoned with a gold version of the Order's Emblem. Dress uniforms did not usually include equipment pouches or projectile weapons on their belts, although Centurions still carried their lightsabers.
Centurions could also wear thicker versions of their uniforms in colder climates (or lighter versions on warmer planets), armor in melee battle, and flight suits if serving as pilots. The Royal Guards had their own variants of the service and dress uniforms. Centurions on undercover operations wore plainclothes suitable for their locations.
On their belts, Centurions usually wore pouches with a variety of field equipment: (rebreathers, food, bacta patches, comlinks, and occasionally stims), as well as their lightsabers. Like the Jedi and Sith (and unlike the Imperial Knights), lightsabers were not standardized, and Centurions could make their weapons in any design or configuration that suited them. While a straight-hilt, single-bladed lightsaber was the norm, double-bladed, curved, and long-handled lightsabers were not unheard of.
After decades of service as Centurions, usually fulfilling a variety of roles, some Centurions would be appointed as Royal Consuls to govern systems in the Empire, or Procurators to govern sectors. Though Consuls and Procurators were more often drawn from the non-Force-sensitive bureaucracy, being appointed to either office from the Order was considered a great honor, a mark of trust from the Sovereign.
Being a Consul or Procurator superseded being a Centurion, in that Consuls answered only to Procurators and Procurators directly to the Sovereign, not to the Prefect. However, they were still allowed to carry and wield lightsabers if they so chose. Occasionally, Centurions were dispatched under the nominal command of a system's Consul for some special duty. They reported to the Consul until recalled by the Prefect, but the Consul was never considered a permanent link in the chain of command, even if he was a Centurion himself.
From hundreds of Centurions, Rin Sakaros selected a handful (the number varied through history) to serve in her Royal Guard as her personal attendants and bodyguards, though the latter tended to be more honorific in light of Rin's own exceptional combat skills. The Royal Guard often functioned as Rin's emissaries or messengers when they were not in her immediate presence, as well as sending detachments ahead of Rin herself on a visit of state to check security arrangements. By contrast, Breek Zagrev's bodyguards saw much more action, accompanying Breek into battle.
Aside from the Sovereign, the Royal Guards also formally protected any Royal Executors or members of the Sovereign's family, though Tariun Sakaros (a fully-trained Sith Lord who had personally contributed to the training of the entire Order) conceded to this arrangement only grudgingly. This was later limited to protecting the Sovereign and the Phoenix Prince, with exceptions at the Sovereign's direction.
Membership in the Royal Guard was considered extremely prestigious among Centurions, and all Royal Guards were chosen solely by the Sovereign. Though Rin usually followed her Prefects' advice, selecting Centurions who had seen extensive field experience and combat and were in the mid- to late twenties, she would occasionally appoint someone for her own inscrutable reasons, such as her promotion of eighteen-year-old, newly-minted Centurion Jira Seezhli in 139 ABY.
Philosophy and culture
Peace without strength is weakness. Strength without peace is cruelty. Strength and peace without vigilance are defeat.
The three values of the Order were Peace, Strength, and Vigilance. "Peace and Strength" was a common parting line between Centurions, analogous to "May the Force be with you".
Due to Rin's telepathic "assistance" in their training, most of the Order's Centurions were irregularly talented telepaths when compared to the entire body of Force users in the galaxy. Consequently, they were often able to communicate with Rin, Tariun, and one another telepathically, rather than speaking aloud. This habit made many outsiders distinctively uncomfortable, though it provided obvious advantages against eavesdropping. Having been constantly exposed to it during training, most Centurions were entirely comfortable with Rin reading their thoughts, and would sometimes just open their minds rather than speaking aloud to deliver a report, reflecting Rin's own philosophy of "delivering the truth without diluting it through words".
Order members were trained to be devoutly loyal to the Sovereign, as well as the Royal Family and the Golden Empire in general; this loyalty was particularly zealous among the Royal Guards. Treason was considered an unimaginable, abhorrent crime, and treason by an Order Centurion was looked on with horror and utmost contempt. Though Rin, Tariun, and the Praetor-Instructors gave their Novices intense, demanding, and occasionally dangerous training, they were all very fond of them as well. Rin in particular was noted for going to any length to avenge the combat death of a Centurion.
While absolute loyalty was stressed, Rin also encouraged individuality in her Centurions. Centurions were allowed to design their own lightsabers and select the blade colors of their weapons and their own fighting styles. In addition, though Centurions were provided (and sometimes ordered to) a variety of different field experiences to help them remain well-rounded, they were allowed to pursue specialties that interested them, on the theory that they would do best something they enjoyed.
Centurions were allowed to choose any of the first five forms of lightsaber combat as their specialties (and Rin occasionally taught a rare pupil Juyo as well), but the overwhelming majority practiced either Ataru or Shien; some Shien specialists also branched out into the Djem So variant of Form V, but full masters of Djem So were comparatively rare. Though they trailed Ataru and Shien, Soresu and Shii-Cho accounted for the next largest group of practitioners. Soresu was popular with the more diplomatic Centurions, while Shii-Cho was favored because of its emphasis on facing multiple enemies. Shii-Cho gained additional popularity along with the famous warrior Rajj-Yo, who became the Empire's greatest master of the form during his life. Rarest were dedicated masters of Makashi. Makashi's focus on lightsaber-to-lightsaber combat struck many as poorly suited to the combat conditions of the Golden Empire, though its few adherents clung obstinately to it; it began to catch on more in the wake of the Nightmare War.
Aside from loyalty and service, the personal trait most often stressed among the Order was empathy. Rin took every step possible to create a sense of responsibility to the Empire and its citizens among her Centurions, and any display of pride or superiority was swiftly corrected. Novices were often sent on service projects to developing or devastated member worlds.
Keltrayu, considered the first Centurion of the Order, was given eternal primacy over all other Centurions following his death. His name appeared at the head of any list of members of the Order, above even the prefect, even lists which were otherwise alphabetical.
Though the Order, unlike the military branches of the Armada, did not have an official song, "The Centurion Song" was widely regarded as the Order's unofficial anthem.
The Force training of the Order of Keltrayu walked the line between light and dark. Centurions were taught a Sith-influenced detachment from and control of emotions, using them to harness power in pursuit of a higher goal. However, that goal was never allowed to be personal profit or the acquisition of power for its own sake, but service to the Sovereign and all beings. Centurions were allowed to use any Force powers they could control, in keeping with Rin Sakaros's adherence to the Unifying view of the Force, but were not allowed to use their powers offensively unless in the line of duty. Their use of the Force made them closer to Gray Jedi than they were to any other type of Force user in the known galaxy. A few strayed more to one side or the other; on a mission to Coruscant, Tarzg Sav'lir remarked dryly that Chindal could stay among the Jedi and never be discovered as not belonging, while Rajj-Yo regularly called on his rage in battle in a manner similar to Dark Jedi and Breek Zagrev was deliberately trained in a Sith style.
The Centurions and Novices of the Order of Keltrayu are a family of their own, brothers and sisters to each other. They have to be, because their lives are very hard, and require terrible sacrifices. Few people could bear the hardships they endure alone—they need the strength of community and family to keep each other strong and to serve the Empire to the best of their ability.
—Rin Sakaros explains the Order's culture to her niece Sovi Turgachia
Since they were raised together from early ages, most members of the Order, especially around the same age brackets, were very close with one another. Rin strongly encouraged this camaraderie, and often sent Order members temporarily aboard the Sith Star to visit the Novices, establishing a link between younger and older generations. Guest instructors from the Centurion Corps were very common. Order members referred to one another as "Brother" and "Sister" when they did not use their names, and would even reference them to third parties as "my brothers and sisters" or "my siblings".
Raise the gray banner, a sister has come home.
—Eskol Kaartinen, upon the death of Nairasho
The death of a single Order member was formally mourned by the entire Order, with the Prefect and every Praetor, Centurion, and Novice wearing something gray (the Sith color of mourning) for a designated period of time. The large banner of the Order's emblem which hung by the Citadel's dormitories was replaced with a gray banner during the mourning period. Barring unusual circumstances or personal requests, fallen Centurions were interred in Keltrayu's Tomb on Keliso after lying in honor in the Citadel. Centurions and Novices stood vigil over the bodies of their comrades between the body's return to the Citadel and interment.
In 155 ABY, Prefect Aria Nikina ordered that on every Remembrance Day thereafter, every Novice of sufficient age (usually six or seven) would present to his or her fellow Novices a report on a fallen Centurion. Reports varied from brief summaries by child Novices to fairly lengthy reports by those preparing to commission, but Aria felt the exercise helped to connect Novices with the Order's traditions and history. While all Novices and their Praetor-Instructors were required to attend, Aria made a point of attending every year, and many Centurions (most of whom had known some or all of the fallen who were being commemorated) found the presentations very touching and attended if they were aboard the Sith Star on Remembrance Day.
When a Novice was to be promoted to Centurion status after passing all examinations, he went into meditative seclusion for a day. All Novices and any visiting Centurions were assembled in the Citadel to observe the candlelit ceremony. The new Centurion appeared in the Order's duty uniform for the first time and knelt to the Prefect, who inspected his lightsaber. The penultimate act required before promotion was recitation of the Order's standardized oath:
I swear to render faithful service to Her Glorious Imperial Majesty Queen Rin and all her successors, and to safeguard the people and uphold the law of the Golden Empire against all enemies. I will obey the orders of the Sovereign, the Prefect of my Order, and all Praetors and other officers set over me, and I will care for the lives of those entrusted to my command and protection. I will always remember that my life is the shield of my people, living when they have need of me and dying when death can serve them best. I will live and act always with peace, strength, and vigilance.
—The Centurion's Oath
The Oath, once taken, was never required again, as it was considered a perpetually binding vow of service, lasting until death or retirement approved by the Sovereign.
Rin, Tariun, and Keltrayu created the "triple triangle" that was the emblem of the Order. The blue, red, and green stood respectively for the Order's three values of Peace, Strength, and Vigilance. The interlocking design emphasized that each value was complete only with the others, and also the focus on community and the tight bond among the Order's Centurions.
Unless doing undercover work, all Centurions of the Order wore the Emblem on all their uniforms, usually either as a badge or pin, though it was sometimes stitched into uniforms when a badge might present an electrical hazard.
Only full Centurions of the Order were allowed to wear the Emblem as a separate article, though the muted design was sometimes impressed on work and exercise shirts and tunics of Novices. The act of becoming a Centurion was sealed when the Prefect pinned the emblem to the collar of the former Novice in question. Almost no one outside the Order was legally allowed to wear the Emblem; even Rin Sakaros, Sovereign of the Empire, did not wear it, as she was Master of the Order, but technically not a member of it. The single exception was the Guard at Keltrayu's Tomb, who were authorized by Tariun Sakaros himself to wear an embossed copy of the Emblem on their armor.
- Keltrayu, first Centurion
- Breek Zagrev, who went on to become a Princess and Royal Executor
- Eskol Kaartinen, second Prefect, and the first Prefect to die
- Sorrik, second Prime Legate
- Tariun Sakaros, first Prefect
- Te`net Organi, first Novice
- Vessyk, the only known traitor among the Order (not counting deserters)
Behind the scenes
The restricted use and heavy symbolic emphasis placed on the emblem of the Order is based on the similar reverence for the Emblem of the United States Marine Corps.