Katherine Valadyn "Rin" Sakaros, also called "Rin the Invincible" and a variety of other epithets and usually known mononymously as Rin, was a Sith witch, the illegitimate daughter of Sith Lord Tak Sakaros and fallen Jedi Ye`keb Millennium. Due to the unusual longevity of both her parents' species, Rin's physiological (and correspondingly mental) development was noticeably slowed; at age 6 she was still a toddler, and by age 23 she still had only the physique and temperament of a teenager. Though this was a constant source of irritation to her in the early decades of her life, it eventually became one of her greatest assets; her extensive natural life and the regenerative properties of Qua blood which she had inherited protected her from the bodily ravages other dark siders often endured.
Raised in secrecy to protect her from both her father's dark side enemies and from recruitment or destruction by the Jedi, Rin was trained in the ways of the Sith, but with the marked influence of her mother's more compassionate personality. At the age of thirty, she left her father to journey around the galaxy for over two decades, studying both the Force and various mental and martial disciplines from such diverse sources as the B'omarr Order on Tatooine, the Witches of Dathomir, and a Warden of the Sky, among numerous others. She also devoted time to the study of political and military history. In the process of her odyssey of growth, she found the young man who was to become her only traditional apprentice, the Human Dathomiri Keltrayu.
In 87 ABY, having refined her already substantial power to a great degree, Rin determined to establish a government that would be best for (and eventually come to rule) the entire galaxy. Defeating her father and stealing his fleet, she established the Golden Empire with her brother Tariun and Keltrayu. Crossing into the Unknown Regions, Rin began to forge her Empire in areas previously undiscovered by the known galaxy. She also established a Force-using Order of warriors to be her primary servants and act as her government's parallel to the Jedi and Imperial Knights.
The initial expansion of the Empire hit its first challenge in 100 ABY, when the nascent Empire went to war with the neighboring Tetrarchy of Mezlagob. The war was costly, and Keltrayu died in the fight, but the Empire prevailed and Rin expanded her government to encompass the fallen Tetrarchy's systems. Spreading with less difficulty through neighboring systems, the Empire swelled to roughly a thousand inhabited systems by 137 ABY, when it conquered the Chiss Ascendancy.
Possessed of the second strongest connection to the Force in galactic history, surpassed only by Anakin Skywalker, Rin had a variety of rare and dangerous Force powers at her command, including Battle Meditation, telepathic abilities unrivaled by any living Force user, and the ability to see the future with almost unfailing clarity and great depth. These, combined with her lightsaber skills and her personal charisma, helped her topple even those enemies which would ordinarily have been beyond her or the forces under her command.
Rin, as she was almost always called by everyone other than her mother, was born into terrible danger. Her father was feuding with fellow Sith Lord and warlord Gav Daragon, and the Sakaros clan and its allies had been forced into hiding. Rin was born after an excruciating thirteen-month pregnancy on Nar Shaddaa. She was raised initially by her mother and Jadian Star, and protected by her brother, his lover Lorelai, and a team of Massassi bodyguards. The fugitives traveled among a series of safehouses on the Smuggler's Moon, most in the very underlevels while those closest to the sun were being rebuilt after the Vongforming the system had undergone.
Following a close call with Rogue Imperial assassins, prevented only by the timely and ferocious attacks of both Millennium and Star, Tak had his daughter relocated to a private apartment on Borgo Prime, under the subtle protection of Arba the Hutt. Rin rarely saw her father in person, but the two communicated often with holovids. She was close not only with her mother and Jade, but also with her Massassi guards, of whom she was utterly unafraid. In fact, singular lack of fear was a distinguishing characteristic of Rin at even this early age.
After Jade was spotted on Borgo Prime and the secret again compromised, the three women and their guards returned to Naboo, the planet they had originally occupied when Tak and Gav had gone to war, and the site of Rin's conception. They were met there by Tak himself, who had come to the same idea of hiding in plain sight. Before long, however, Gav returned to Naboo in pursuit of his wayward apprentice Syrth Akai, and Tak challenged him to a duel. The two Sith clashed in the jungles, trading vicious assaults of both blade and Force powers. Though both were wounded, Tak struck Gav a debilitating blow on his collarbone, forcing his enemy to withdraw under cover of turbolaser fire. The loss of prestige which accompanied this defeat drove the Rogue Imperials to the far corners of the galaxy, leaving Rin finally safe from assassins.
Though still only a toddler at six years old due to her genetic heritage, Rin's instinctive use of the Force was stunning to most observers, even those who had been around other Force-sensitive children. She could manipulate her surroundings to a degree uncommon among students of the Force her age, and her mother commonly lamented the ease with which Rin could toss around her nanny droid. Famously, while her parents were distracted, Rin managed to get hold of her father's lightsaber and activate the blade. It took Sakaros only a tense few seconds to disarm his daughter, but in that time she swung the weapon several times without injuring herself, displaying remarkable precognition for the weightless blade.
In the earliest years of her life, Rin's only playmate her own age was Jextar Cyern-Star, the son of Jade. The two were kept close together for their mutual safety and developed a rudimentary bond in the Force, until Jex was sent to join the Jedi Order. Rin had a testy relationship with her older half-sister, Jasmine Auroras. While Rin loved Jasmine and enjoyed having her around, for Jasmine Rin was a living reminder of her mother's infidelity with Tak and Tak's subsequent killing of her father. Kind and sensitive by nature, Jasmine did not let herself take her anger out on Rin, but tended to avoid the girl altogether instead. Rin occasionally saw her brother Hayden, Ye'keb's former Padawan. Though a Jedi Knight and thus unable to spend much time lingering around Naboo, the young man took what time he could to visit his sister, and she would have several cherished memories of him later in life.
As she finally began to mentally develop into early childhood, Rin got her first exposure to real Force training with her brother, Tariun. Her father had ordered Rin kept aboard the Sith Star away from her mother, and he himself had taken on many duties as the emissary of the Queen of Naboo. Initially Rin was upset at being taken away from her mother, and her Force-powered tantrums resulted in cosmetic damage to several pieces of machinery, doors, and droids. In time, though, she forged a close relationship with her brother, who along with Lorelai served as her first teacher of the Force and the lightsaber.
Under Tariun's instruction, Rin was brought up in the Sith approach to the Force, acquiring a calmly dispassionate approach to the use of her powers. However, she missed her mother, and began refusing to use her powers until she could see her, knowing that training in the Force was what her father wanted. Eventually, Ye'keb's protests and Rin's stubbornness convinced Tak to relent, and he had both Rin and Ye'keb covertly moved to the embassy of Naboo on Coruscant. Though wary of having his powerful child right under the nose of the Jedi Knights, Tak was persuaded that Ye'keb could shield Rin from most observation; the most conspicuous of the girl's training took place offworld.
With the new arrangement, Rin studied under many masters and as such acquired an eclectic view of both the Force and lightsaber combat. Her father had a Sith style of Force use, while Ye'keb's was much closer to that of the Jedi, though less constrained by the Order's rules. Jade Star, who occasionally aided Ye'keb, had a pragmatic approach, though usually less ruthless than Tak's Sith style. Freed of their obligation to actively watch over Rin, Tariun and Lorelai disappeared for long stretches of time on their own pursuits, but when they were in the neighborhood, both also lent their Sith-influenced knowledge to Rin's training.
Demonstrating a marked affinity for the use of the lightsaber, Rin had just as diverse an education in the blade as in the Force. While all her teachers could acquaint her with Shii-Cho, Rin quickly acquired all the basic skills of the discipline and grew bored with it. Her primary influences were her mother's Ataru and Tak's Djem So, though she also became familiar with Makashi from Lorelai, Juyo from Jade, and Tariun's Jar'Kai. Using holocrons her mother had “borrowed” from the Jedi Order upon her departure, Rin also taught herself Soresu. By the age of twenty (and the biological and maturity level of an eleven- or twelve-year-old) she was a match for any one of her father's training droids alone as long as she focused enough.
Rin's telepathy was also evident even in her youth. By the time she was conversant, around age ten, she could already catch at least the general pattern of thoughts in non-Force sensitives around her. She was also sensitive of the emotions of those closest to her, including her family, Jade, and Lorelai. By the time she was twenty-five, she could influence the thoughts of nearly any Force-mute she met; when she desired solitude, she would often sit in the embassy's garden and forcibly divert the mind of anyone who happened to pass by.
Focus itself proved to be Rin's greatest difficulty. Despite her strength in the Force, she was a generally happy child and thus had difficulty regularly accessing the deep wells of emotion—and the cold, unfeeling separation from it—necessary for the power of the dark side, but even her mother's teaching was not close to the strict, rule-bound Jedi approach either. When pushed by immediate pain or danger, she could tap the Force to levels which impressed and even intimidated her teachers; confronted with a Sonic generator and its ear-piercing shrieks, she simply ripped apart its internal mechanisms in six seconds, and then burned the machine to a smoldering ruin of metal with Force lightning. However, this overpowering connection to the Force seemed accessible to her only on necessity, not on command.
Loss and gain
By 60 ABY, Tak Sakaros was frustrated with the roadblock his daughter seemed to have reached. He came to the conclusion that it was Ye'keb's doting and gentler use of the Force that was holding Rin back, and resolved to “remove the impediment”. Sending Rin to train with Tariun aboard the Sith Star, Tak engaged Ye'keb in a duel at the Naboo embassy. Though the erstwhile lovers fought viciously through Tak's office and onto the rain-slicked landing pad outside, Ye'keb's abandonment of the Jedi way without fully accepting the dark side had tempered her skills, and Tak was able to impale her through the chest, knocking her down into the Coruscant underlevels.
Even in orbit, Rin was able to sense her mother's death; she had been having premonitions of disaster for days, and she had only not seen the impending doom in Tariun's mind because Tariun himself hadn't known his father's plan. Devastated by the loss she felt was tearing her apart, Rin stormed past her brother and returned to the embassy, taking up a duel against her father herself with her fallen mother's blade. Despite Tak's century of combat experience, he found himself fighting for his life; consumed with her misery and rage, Rin's power amplified to levels she had never before experienced. Only Tak's long-refined Sith control allowed him to defeat Rin, shearing apart Ye'keb's lightsaber hilt.
Though furious with her father, feeling hurt and betrayed, Rin grudgingly conceded that her power had grown with the newfound rage, and agreed to remain Tak's student and perfect her Sith control. She was greatly changed, though, becoming more aloof and much more distant from her father. Tariun and Lorelai remained gone much of the time, but Rin felt far closer to them than anyone else when they were nearby. She spent most of her time in independent study; she had long since memorized the mechanics of Sith power her father had taught, now she had only to apply them practically.
By 65 ABY, with her mother dead five years, Rin's power had grown substantially. She was able to exert her mental domination over almost anyone she met, and could even hold several minds captive for close to a minute. She had also become much colder and more quiet, rarely speaking to anyone except to answer a direct question or command. In that year, she accompanied her father and Tariun to Dellalt, where the Sith Lord had planned an ambush for his old enemy Maximus Kironis and several other Jedi. Though initially tempted to betray her father and let him die as punishment for her mother's murder, Rin ultimately decided she needed to pit her skills against real, living enemies. She was also unwilling to leave her brother to the possibility of death, knowing he would fight with Tak whether or not she did.
The ambush went better than even Rin foresaw; in the first seconds of the exchange, she slew two Jedi Knights alone. Cutting down another after a moment of fencing, she left to aid her father against the more dangerous Maximus, a Jedi Master. Though Maximus and Tak were equals, the Jedi was unable to hold off two Sith at once, and Tak and Rin killed him while Tariun mopped up the remaining Jedi.
Rin spent several days reflecting on the duel after her return to Coruscant. She had sensed that she alone would have been unable to defeat Maximus; she had prevailed only because of her father's help, although the opposite was also true. She was also aware that the greatest Masters of the Jedi Order had sensed Maximus's death, and a wave of the dark side around it belonging to a dark sider far more powerful than Tak Sakaros himself. While Tak had been careful to dispose of the bodies and all evidence, Rin knew that investigation would still turn his way at least for form's sake. As a result, she announced to the surprise of both her father and brother that she was leaving and going out to continue her study of the Force alone. Both tried to dissuade her and Tariun offered to accompany her with Lorelai, but Rin was immovable. Knowing he could no longer forcibly coerce her to stay, Tak reluctantly accepted his daughter's decision, though he persuaded her to take the Vengeance and a team of Massassi guards. With barely a parting word for her father and only a few moments of conversation with Tariun, Rin left Coruscant and departed on a journey which would take up the next twenty-two years of her life.
Mind over matter
Having long heard of the B'omarr Order in its monastery on Tatooine, Rin journeyed there first. Though she had no desire to be “enlightened”, she was eager to understand the mental powers and self-control for which the B'omarr were famous. Leaving the Vengeance in space and taking only half a dozen bodyguards, Rin arrived on Tatooine and sought out the derelict palace of Jabba the Hutt.
Slightly confused by the nature of Rin's request to learn from them, the enlightened monks' brains nevertheless conceded to her request, and Rin spent the next year-and-a-half living on Tatooine and communing with the brains. Her strength in the Force allowed her to speak telepathically to the minds of the disembodied monks, even “networking” among several minds at once. Initially, the brains were unsettled by Rin's obvious bitterness and lingering anger, and forced her to spend hours at a time cleansing her mind before they would deign to speak to her. Her icy, detached Sith control was insufficient to their demands, and Rin was compelled to arrive at a truly calm state which she could maintain with intermittent but increasing success.
The monks, both bodied and enlightened, practiced rigorous self-discipline and detachment from worldly concerns. Studying this and applying it to herself, Rin found that her telepathy grew stronger; after a year, she was able to touch minds almost effortlessly, and could even extract information which was of interest to her, though many of the monks resented the latter, especially when she did it without permission. Though the B'omarr could not help Rin with the Force, the understanding of the complex inner workings of the mind she gained while their student was to prove vital to the future development and use of her powers.
To make herself useful, Rin served the same duties as other still-bodied monks, caring for the enlightened brains and recording their thoughts, though she took this as an opportunity to study the musings of the brains as well. When one monk was “enlightened” before he was truly ready for the experience, Rin was also able to calm his screaming mind, using the Force to connect him with other minds which had gone through the same experience and show him the positives of a life of detachment. She briefly considered being enlightened herself, but rejected the idea, knowing her power in the Force was connected to her entire body, not just her mind.
While on Tatooine, Rin made occasional visits to Mos Eisley and Mos Espa, testing out her powers on the locals. As time went on, she found herself able to read their minds with increasing clarity, and to control them for greater and greater lengths of time. Emboldened, she tested her powers on a group of Sand People as well. Their minds were alien to her, and she was forced to fight them with her lightsaber briefly, but eventually she managed to dominate their minds as well. Having conquered and controlled minds of a culture totally unfamiliar to her, Rin decided her goals on Tatooine had been fulfilled.
En route back to the monastery to inform the monks, Rin was attacked by a greater krayt dragon, which exploded out of the sand in pursuit of a nearby herd of banthas. As it had no sentient thoughts, Rin couldn't use her new powers to overwhelm it, and her use of Force lightning barely stunned the behemoth. Eventually, she was forced to sacrifice her lightsaber, hurling the weapon down the beast's gullet and igniting the blade on the way down, thus ripping apart its throat and carving up its organs from the inside. Though deprived of her weapon—she didn't bother trying to retrieve the hilt, knowing the krayt's stomach acid would have dissolved it by the time she could—Rin was able to harvest a set of enormously valuable pearls.
Stopping by the monastery to inform the monks of her decision and collect her Massassi guards, the young Sith thanked her teachers for their help. Politely refusing their offers to stay and perfect herself for enlightenment, she departed the desert world and returned to the Vengeance.
Rin did not travel far aboard the Vengeance before realizing that the attention her warship would draw outweighed the protection it could offer. After perusing starcharts and war records, looking for somewhere out of the way, she eventually deposited her ship on nearby Nelvaan. Leaving her entire Massassi contingent to maintain it—and forcibly changing some of their minds when they tried to go with her anyway—she stowed away aboard a mining transport and journeyed offworld.
Planet-hopping while trying to decide where to go next, Rin was aboard a luxury liner when she sensed a violent conflict a few suites down. Going to investigate, she found a single woman standing amid a pile of slain bodyguards and a murdered crime boss. Thinking Rin was another guard, the woman attacked her too. The bout was brief, but vicious, pitting the woman's obvious mastery of hand-to-hand combat against Rin's Var Shek and Broken Gate training and Force-enhanced reflexes. Sensing her life was in danger, Rin finally threw the woman across the room with a Force push, shocked her with lightning, and demanded an explanation.
The woman, Elara D'ovan, was a Mistryl Shadow Guard on contract to kill the criminal. Rin had never heard of the Guard, and Elara told her the lie which she herself had been raised to believe, that the Mistryl took contracts to help restore their unjustly devastated homeworld of Emberlene. Though she had no interest in Emberlene, Rin asked to accompany Elara and learn her skills; while Elara had no desire to compromise the Mistryl, she was indebted to Rin for her life and recognized the advantages of having a Force user as her partner, and agreed.
The two women journeyed around the galaxy for the next two years, trading skills. Rin taught Elara Var Shek, adding to the Mistryl's already lethal fighting abilities, and used her powers to confuse or simply slaughter any resistance to the Shadow Guard's operations. In return, Elara greatly added to Rin's hand-to-hand combat abilities, and taught her to use a variety of weapons. While Rin had learned extensive lightsaber technique from her early teachers and blaster use from her father and brother, Elara also armed her with knife-fighting skills and taught her how to use a shock whip. Using a lightweight steel rod, Rin trained against Elara's deactivated whip to teach herself a defense against lightwhips. Elara also taught Rin stealth techniques which didn't require the use of the Force: how to blend into a crowd, how to dress and move to avoid notice, and how to infiltrate any location. It was Elara who first realized that, with a little makeup and the use of Rin's mind tricks to substitute for pheremones, Rin could easily pass for a Zeltron.
On an early trip to Crovna, Rin stopped at the Peven Auction House and sold all but one of her krayt pearls to a collector, netting herself five million credits in a single day. She kept the smallest pearl for herself, and used it to build a new lightsaber. Eschewing the traditional red blade, Rin built on the pearl's own properties, resulting in a weapon with a brilliant jade blade instead.
In their trips, Rin and Elara visited many worlds all throughout the galaxy, and the Sith gained a wealth of practical experience and knowledge of different cultures in addition to the fighting skills Elara taught her. Among the numerous locations they visited were Coruscant, Chandrila (where Rin had a brief, uncomfortable reunion with her sister Jasmine), Bothawui, Yaga Minor, Bastion (where Rin learned more about the Imperial Knights), Corellia, and the Hapes Cluster.
On their final contract, however, a mission to Obroa-skai, Elara learned the truth about the destruction of Emberlene, and contacted her Team Prime to report what she had learned. The Eleven Elders ordered Elara to be eliminated, dispatching the rest of her team to assassinate her. She tried to send Rin away, but the Sith refused to leave her friend. Instead, the pair set an ambush on nearby Corsin.
For two years Rin had been trying to avoid the use of her blade or even her Force powers when not strictly necessary, in order to perfect the skills of the Mistryl. However, under attack by five trained Mistryl Guards, she unleashed herself on Elara's intended assassins, mowing them down with lightning and her lightsaber while Elara confronted her Team Prime. Though she won the fight, Elara was grievously injured. Desperate to save her friend, Rin discovered something about herself when she spilled some of her blood on Elara's injuries. Ye'keb Millennium had been a full-blood Qua, and thus her blood had healing properties for many other sentients. In tending to Elara, Rin discovered that she had inherited that power, although somewhat dampened due to also being half-Sith.
With Rin's ministrations and her blood, Elara recovered from her wounds. After she was well again, she decided to spread the word about the Eleven's deception to other Mistryl teams. Unable to persuade her otherwise, Rin parted company with her friend to continue expanding her abilities.
The Seer of Destiny
Having done some research of her own on Obroa-skai, Rin went next to Dorin, home of the Kel Dor. Stopping on nearby Bilbringi, she bought herself a breath mask and a small shuttle, then used her strength in the Force to navigate the two black holes near Dorin and land on the planet. She sought out the Baran Do Sages, intrigued by their famous ability to predict the future.
The Sages seemed leery of Rin and her obvious power, but she eventually found a solitary Sage named Sho Kest, who had distanced himself from the Order proper for more private contemplation. Agreeing to take Rin on as an apprentice, he began helping her to hone her precognitive abilities. Although her potential was far beyond anything Sho Kest had even heard of, Rin's visions had always been sporadic and uncontrollable, and none of her teachers had enough experience to aid her. Sho Kest, however, had spent the vast majority of his life in quiet, patient contemplation of the Force and the currents of destiny, and he introduced Rin to the Baran Do techniques.
Though naturally eager to expand her powers as quickly as possible, Rin had developed enough self-discipline with the B'omarr to endure the slow, patient path to power, and she and Sho Kest became close. Some seven months after her arrival on Dorin, the Baran Do beseeched Sho Kest to return to them, even permitting his unusual offworld apprentice to move into the Baran Do temple with him. Rin had been spending her nights inside her shuttle, which had environment filters which allowed her to breathe there unaided. However, tempted by the opportunity to learn from other Baran Do and to immerse herself in the Order's history, she resigned herself to wearing her breath mask all the time and moved in.
After a year and a half of study, Rin's precognitive powers had already improved enormously. She could summon visions on her own, and the more concentration she put into them, the more she could see. When visions occurred to her spontaneously (which happened more often), they were usually split futures or multiple simultaneous futures; under her own willpower, she could follow single lines of possibility more easily. She also manifested some talent with the shatterpoint ability, and began to test the skill in and around the Temple, altering small things and observing their effects on the future.
While at the Temple, Rin studied some of the Baran Do combat techniques, though her own fighting skills were far beyond the little the Sages concerned themselves with knowing. She taught knife-fighting and stick fencing to some of the younger Sages who had not fully adopted their elders' commitment to simple staff fighting, although eventually the Master of the Order instructed her to stop, as he felt she was leading the young Sages away from more meaningful pursuits.
Another six months later, Rin felt that she had learned all the Baran Do could teach her; further refinement of her powers could only come with practice, not more instruction. Bidding farewell to Sho Kest, she left Dorin.
Steel hand Rin
After a brief stop on Nelvaan to check on the Vengeance and her Massassi, Rin departed on her next quest. She had initially intended to visit the Zeison Sha on Yanibar, but she received a vision of a possible future: herself studying there, but with a male companion. Although unable to identify the man, Rin was so intrigued by the possibility that she decided to put her trip to Yanibar on hold until she unearthed more of this curious future.
Interested in combining her strength in the Force with her physical body, she sought out the Matukai, hoping to learn their techniques for infusing the body with the power of the Force. However, the Matukai could sense the power of the dark side in Rin and refused to have anything to do with her. Though tempted to punish them for their defiance, Rin mastered her temper, hoping to at least prove them wrong as a parting shot.
Denied that opportunity, she instead turned to the Followers of Palawa on out-of-the-way Bunduki. Their ancestral hatred of the Jedi led them to accept Rin almost immediately, especially when she demonstrated her strength in the Force, and Rin spent close to a year on Bunduki studying Teräs Käsi. Elara's additions to her early training had made her an expert martial artist, able to bring down foes many times her physical size and strength, but the Followers had ways of infusing their strikes with the power of the Force, as well as shielding their minds so their enemies could not read their intent. Though her Var Shek training instinctively led her to shy away from some of the more acrobatic and open attacks, Rin still developed a keener connection between mind and body during her months on Bunduki.
By early 72 ABY, Rin felt she had learned enough and left Bunduki. Meditating on her possible futures and destinations, she eventually chose to travel to Pydyr in search of the Fallanassi illusionists. She was helped on her way by Myko, an information broker who Rin discovered had a particular interest in rare and arcane lore. Rin's training under the Followers of Palawa helped her conceal her Sith training more fully from the Fallanassi, and when she met with the female Force adepts, they took her on as a student.
With her already-potent telepathic abilities, Rin took quickly to the Fallanassi techniques of weaving mental illusions. She kept her talents at mind control to herself, fearing they would tip the Fallanassi off to her dark side abilities, but the skill also proved useful in the creation of illusions.
Many Fallanassi helped Rin with her illusion training and sought to help her immerse herself in the White Current, but the most influential was a Human woman named Cortyni. Cortyni tried to help Rin embrace the White Current philosophy, though the avoidant, defensive use of the Force which the Fallanassi advocated ran directly against the Sith and even Jedi philosophies. Rin experienced only mixed success concealing herself with the Force; while she became adept at disguising her dark side training and could turn the minds of non-Force-sensitives away from noticing or remembering her, she was only able to reduce her presence in the Force, not hide it entirely. Cortyni felt that Rin's lack of total commitment to the Fallanassi beliefs hindered her abilities, although Rin herself believed she was simply so strong in the Force that her power could never be fully hidden.
Rin and Cortyni had numerous conversations and debates about philosophy, with Cortyni staunchly defending pacifism and Rin advocating the need for violence in pursuit of a greater goal. While neither made much headway in persuading the other, Rin's own philosophy on the use of force began to be refined during this period as she was compelled to examine under exactly what circumstances she could justify using violence against other sentients.
Rin stayed with the Fallanassi just over a year. Once she tested and proved her ability to manifest illusions, bewitching dozens of minds simultaneously, she felt she had learned all she could and departed Pydyr.
The Sith witch
Rin made another trip to Nelvaan and found her Massassi beginning to integrate into the native Nelvaanian community nearby. Though more than a little perplexed by this development, Rin still had no desire for the Massassi to shadow her every movement, and so she raised no objection. Leaving the Massassi and the Nelvaanians to their own devices, she meandered through the galaxy more slowly, reading up on political philosophy and studying the histories of the Galactic Alliance, the Rebellion, and the Empire. She attended lectures given by both Alliance Senators and Imperial Governors, using her new abilities to shield herself from perception by those around her.
After a lecture on economics on Celanon, Rin intended to travel down the Hydian Way and visit Mandalore, home of the warlike Mandalorians and a unique outlook on the use of force. En route, however, she was seized by a vision. She saw herself standing in opposition to a dark army, with warriors at her back, and at her side a young man she sensed was the same from her vision of training with the Zeison Sha. Overwhelmed by her curiosity at this unexpected development, letting the Force guide her astrogation, she banked hard right off the Hydian and finally emerged from hyperspace to find herself at Dathomir.
Following the Force down to the surface of the wild world, Rin was ultimately led to the Frenzied River and the clan of witches nearby. She approached the witches and presented herself as a Force-sensitive seeking to learn their ways. Since she could now completely disguise her dark side powers, and since she had been using them less frequently anyway, the witches could not sense her Sith influence, though they could hardly miss her raw power. The Clan Mother and other elders were initially hesitant, sensing some undefined element of foreboding around Rin. But many of the younger warriors in the clan were eager to teach and train with this powerful potential new sister, and eventually Rin was invited to join the clan.
All her experiences made Rin fit in very quickly. Her physical fitness and martial arts training let her keep up with even the most athletic of her new sisters, and the staff training she had undergone with the Baran Do helped her to quickly pick up the witches' staff-fighting techniques. She and her closest friend in the clan, the young witch Voriya Zae, spent many hours training together and sharing techniques. Though often frustrated with the “magic” approach the witches had to the Force, especially that she herself was obligated to recite the “magic words” in order to keep up her anonymity, Rin still acquired new skills, such as creating a whirlwind and various other effects on the weather.
While on a field scouting exercise, Voriya and a few of the other young witches who usually kept their company tried to combine their powers to conjure a storm. Even with all their strength together, they could only manage a light dust storm. When Rin threw the full weight of her power behind them, though, the storm quickly became so powerful that the witches themselves felt they were in danger, with stinging dust in their eyes and blue-white lightning striking the ground around them. Alarmed, they stopped their efforts, only to discover to their surprise that Rin was able to maintain most of the storm's power on her own, only stopping when she realized her sisters were frightened. Though Voriya was impressed, several of their sisters were unsettled, as were the clan elders when the incident was reported later.
Though the elders did not say anything to Rin about her alarming powers, they watched her more carefully, and the Sith could sense their suspicions. However, these feelings were not universal. The youngest members of the clan were in awe of Rin and her obvious abilities, and the male slaves were privately fond of her, as she tended to treat them with more respect than any other witch. Rin would occasionally take time to tell stories to the youngest witches or braid their hair, and even helped them learn to control the Force when the elders were not watching her carefully.
She devoted herself all the more to her own training, learning to ride a rancor, though she was frequently castigated by her instructors for trying to control its mind instead of forming a cooperative relationship with it. Voriya helped her construct a suit of lizard-hide armor, brilliant green with black accents. Rin usually wore a gold and black sarong around her waist as well, under which she carried her lightsaber.
After just over a year with the Frenzied River Clan, Rin was out with Voriya and two other young witches when a wild rancor charged their party. Voriya's attempts to use spells against it proved useless, and before Rin could dominate the beast's mind, it attacked the young witches and was about to step on one of them. Out of options, Rin blasted it with Force lightning so powerful that she seared parts of its flesh down to bone and killed it instantly.
Voriya was horrified by what Rin had done, and even more so by the yellow-and-red tint her eyes had briefly taken on when she called upon her real powers. When the matter was brought to the elders, they were unequivocal in condemning Rin for her use of “shadow magic” and exiled her from the Frenzied River Clan. They also used a spell to damage her shuttle, afraid of letting her “corruption” escape offworld and endanger others.
Incensed and outraged, Rin argued that she had used her powers for good, saving a friend from death, but the Clan Mother was firm in her belief that some powers were evil no matter why they were used. Rin advanced on her angrily, and when some of her former sisters moved to cut her off, the Sith witch drew her lightsaber on them. The brief standoff was resolved when Rin, outnumbered despite her superior power, opted to depart and consider retribution some other time.
Roaming bitterly through the wilds of Dathomir, Rin tried to see the future to determine her next step, but so many conflicting destinies lay before her that she couldn't pick a clear path. She had been taught enough to survive indefinitely in the wilds of Dathomir, but without her ship her options were still limited. She spent close to a month in the wilderness, brooding and plotting and feeling miserable.
It was in this state that she was discovered by two Nightsisters, scouting on their own rancors. They initially gloated over their “captive”, but their jeering quickly turned to terror when Rin counterattacked and slaughtered both, strangling one with the Force and cutting the other in half with her lightsaber. This sudden and intense burst of the dark side drew the attention of the current Clan Mother of the Nightsisters, Seneka Yari. Far from resenting the deaths of the two Nightsisters, Seneka invited Rin to join her brood. Seeing an opportunity for her revenge, Rin accepted.
The two dark siders shared techniques and tactics over the next few months, with Rin assuming a favored place in the clan, instructor of combat technique and Seneka's right hand. No longer bothering to hide her Sith training, she wore her lightsaber openly and taught Seneka and others some elements of Sith technique, including the use of cold dispassion to summon the Force's power. In return, the Nightsisters instructed Rin on the dark arts they had learned, including precise ways to torture others by using the Force to affect their skeletons and organs.
Using her foresight, Rin tried to plan out the perfect time to attack the Frenzied River Clan. Intending to topple the clan elders, she hoped to unite the remaining witches behind her banner and instruct them on the true nature of the Force, as she saw it. Seneka openly supported this plan. She also asked Rin for lessons in lightsaber technique and the construction of the weapon. Though Rin was willing to fence with Seneka, using steel rods and wooden staves, she did not teach the Nightsister how to create another lightsaber, to Seneka's frustration.
After six months in the Nightsister camp, Rin and Seneka decided the time was right and led their strike force of a few dozen Nightsisters back to the Frenzied River. Using her Fallanassi techniques, Rin conjured an illusion of a massive army, well over a hundred Nightsisters and at least half that many rancors. Though unable to force the illusion on all her former sisters—despite her skill, Rin was not yet able to bewitch that many Force-adepts at once—Rin selectively used her powers to deceive the most talented warriors in the Frenzied River Clan. Believing themselves hopelessly outmatched, those fiercest witches began to lose heart, and their fear caused a collapse of morale among the clan before the battle even began.
Shessa Vel: “ Sis…Sister Rin…w-why didn't you…help us?”
— Rin Sakaros, discovering the dying Shessa Vel
Rin Sakaros: “Shessa?! Shessa! SENEKA! What have you...what...no. No...I did this. I did this...Oh, Shessa, I'm so sorry...”
The attack on the Frenzied River Clan went even better than the Nightsisters had hoped. While the Nightsisters fought the clan's demoralized witches, Rin advanced on the clan elders, casually cutting two of them down as they tried to summon spells to attack her, then impaling the Clan Mother through the heart. Rin's erstwhile friend Voriya Zae led a desperate counterattack but, freed from the constraints the Frenzied River Clan had put on her power, Rin unleashed the full ferocity of her Sith training on her attackers. Killing one immediately with Force lightning, she dueled the other three with her lightsaber, easily cleaving through their staves and opening two from hip to shoulder. Voriya was the last standing, and Rin tried to persuade her to surrender, but Voriya retorted with the words of Allya: “Never concede to evil”. She attacked, and Rin cut her down.
Standing amidst the almost effortless slaughter, Rin enjoyed a moment of satisfaction, feeling herself vindicated; for all their insistence on their own way, the witches of the Frenzied River had barely been an inconvenience to her. She felt confident the survivors would recognize the clear superiority of her method and join her. After a moment, however, it occurred to Rin that she could not feel as many lives in the Force as she expected, and the battlefield was oddly quiet, even accounting for the subdued nature of beaten prisoners.
Leaving the clan hall, Rin was horrified to discover the wanton massacre outside. The Nightsisters had brutally butchered all the inhabitants of the clan, men, women, and children. She found Shessa Vel, the girl she had saved from the rancor months earlier, dying from a stab wound to the stomach with her mother's corpse beside her. The sight reminded Rin so forcibly of losing her own mother at the hands of the dark side that she broke down in tears, tossing her lightsaber aside and holding Shessa in her arms as the little girl died, asking why Rin hadn't helped them. Though her instinctive reaction was outrage at Seneka for the betrayal, Rin was quickly crushed beneath the realization that the Nightsisters could never have vanquished the Frenzied River Clan in the first place without her help and guidance.
While Rin's grief was still washing over her, Seneka found her, fresh from her utter conquest. Sensing Rin's anger and fury at the Nightsisters beneath her moment of grief, Seneka snatched up Rin's discarded lightsaber for herself. The Sith witch demanded it back, but Seneka refused. When Rin asked for an explanation for the slaughter, Seneka responded that Rin was not the only person with a vendetta against the Frenzied River Clan, and that others were willing to go to the lengths Rin herself wasn't.
At that moment, two young witches and a boy slave who had been hiding were discovered amidst the ruins of the clan village. The Nightsisters made to put them to death, but Rin interceded; when the closest Nightsister refused to stop, Rin reacted instinctively, and seized the woman so powerfully with the Force that she broke the Nightsister's neck and half-crushed her skull. Most of the remaining Nightsisters were too intimidated to press the point, but Seneka attacked with her new lightsaber. Snatching up a fallen witch's staff, Rin fought what seemed to be the hopeless fight. But Seneka was unused to the weightless blade of a lightsaber, and Rin was lethal with a variety of weapons, so she was able to drive the Nightsister leader back despite the danger. Using the Force to hurl Seneka into the Frenzied River, Rin ordered the other Nightsisters back and escaped with the three survivors.
Third try's the charm
The three survivors were understandably reluctant to travel with Rin, having seen her slaying the clan elders and Voriya Zae. Already consumed with her grief and regret, Rin couldn't bear the justified looks of betrayal the children were giving her. She also realized that no clan on Dathomir would take her in if they knew the truth. Calming the three children enough to sleep, Rin touched their minds and altered their memories, confusing and blurring what they remembered of the slaughter to save them emotional trauma, and deleting recollection of her presence altogether.
With her still-grieving but noticeably more trusting companions in tow, Rin wandered again through the wilderness, hunting for her companions and using her perceptions to avoid the Nightsisters. After a week, the party came across a wild rancor. Somewhat bitterly recalling Voriya's lessons, Rin was able to tame the beast to her aid, and rode it to the Misty Falls.
Encountering the clan there, Rin presented herself and the three children as the survivors of the Nightsister attack on the Frenzied River Clan. Carefully editing while telling as much technical truth as possible, she made it sound as though she had been a member of the clan who was simply absent when the Nightsisters attacked, returning too late to stop the massacre but in time to rescue the last three survivors. She admittedly openly that she had Force training offworld, but left out the details, stating only that her mother was a Jedi. Though the details did not add up perfectly, Rin's grief was so potent that the other witches could feel it in the Force, and so they accepted the four refugees into their camp.
Initially, Rin's thoughts were solely of retribution, exacting just revenge on the Nightsisters and visiting on them the slaughter they had unleashed on the Frenzied River Clan. There was some sympathy among the younger witches, but Misty Falls elders rejected this plan unanimously. They felt their strength was not enough to overcome a Nightsister army strong enough to wipe out the Frenzied River Clan, and they feared that such a wanton attack with the sole purpose of extermination would represent concession to evil. Unable to sway them, Rin was left to brood on her failings and try to foresee how things would turn out.
While sitting at the top of the waterfall one day, she was joined by a witch named Keshiri Tan. Though Rin was technically older, her physiological development had at last halted indefinitely, leaving her eternally youthful with the physique of twenty-five-year-old. Keshiri, by contrast, was a mother of two already, and so she took to advising Rin, counseling patience. She added that any warrior could kill, but a superior strategist would wait for the ideal time, to minimize her own losses while ensuring the maximum defeat of the enemy.
Pondering that, Rin returned to the village, thoughtful about Keshiri's words but still unsure. Before she made a decision, however, she came across a young male slave, tending the clan's rancors. Suddenly seized by a disturbance in the Force, Rin used all her power to sort through her past and search the future, trying to make the connection. She was frozen so long that the boy was staring at her in confusion when she finally returned to herself, stunned. He was the boy from both of her visions; the one accompanying her with the Zeison Sha, and the one beside her as she stood facing a malevolent army that now seemed all too easy to identify as well.
Overwhelmed by the realization, Rin introduced herself with no regard whatsoever for the normal social distance between full female witches and male slaves. Though more than a little startled, the boy introduced himself as Keltrayu. Over the next months, Rin took a vested interest in Keltrayu, in whom she could sense a strong connection to the Force, though it was unlikely to ever be developed in the female-dominated culture of Dathomir. She observed that, aside from the usual precognition and quicker reflexes of an untrained Force-sensitive, Keltrayu also had a connection with the clan rancors, which he tended. He was able to communicate with them nearly as well as fully-trained witches.
Keltrayu belonged to Nelani Kaa, another witch in the village, who was annoyed by the amount of attention Rin was showing to her slave. Rin offered to buy Keltrayu from her, but Nelani refused angrily, leaving Rin temporarily stymied. She contented herself with spending time talking to the boy whenever she got the chance and searched the Force for ways to make things work out her way. She sensed that the Nightsisters had grown beyond a simple vendetta for her; they had become a shatterpoint for Keltrayu's fate, and how Rin left that situation when she departed Dathomir would tie into how (and if) she and Keltrayu would be tied together.
In the meantime, Rin also spent more and more time with Keshiri Tan, discussing tactics. Keshiri had fought the Nightsisters before, which gave her more knowledge of them than Rin was pretending to have. Keshiri was also substantially more experienced in large-scale combat than Rin, who had usually only fought in small, short-lived engagements. Their conversations presented an opportunity for Rin to run her ample theoretical knowledge of war by Keshiri, who offered critiques of everyone from the Mandalorians and the Echani to the Yuuzhan Vong and Grand Admiral Thrawn. Rin found some of her friend's ideas too rustic and uninformed, the product of life on a backwater world without the high technology for galaxy-wide warfare, but she took in everything nonetheless.
Coming to a boil
After over a year in the Misty Falls camp, Rin had been generally accepted as a new sister by the other witches, though her relationship with Nelani Kaa remained strained and her growing friendship with Keltrayu was frowned upon by all the clan elders. The witches tried to persuade Rin to kidnap a male from some other clan if she wanted one so badly, but the Sith adamantly refused. Raised by her father and close to her brother, both of whom had been slaves in their lives, she was unwaveringly opposed to the entire institution, keeping her peace on Dathomir only because she knew she was almost alone in her views.
The Nightsisters had not been idle in the many months since the massacre at the Frenzied River. Reports came in that the Red Hills Clan had suffered repeated attacks, and the Singing Mountain Clan had repulsed a concerted Nightsister attack only at the cost of many of their rancors and several promising witches. Rin attributed this success, which her clan sisters assured her was atypical, to her own tutelage in Sith techniques, and felt even more obligated to bring an end to what she had started.
Knowing Seneka had her lightsaber—and hearing reports from other clans that the Nightsister leader was using it to horrific effect on both enemies and prisoners—Rin began scrounging technology to build another. She traded with her sisters in the Misty Falls Clan and even ventured to other clans to teach fighting techniques in exchange for other pieces of technology they had received from offworld. After three months, she had enough equipment to begin work, though she was still missing a crystal. The last came what might have seemed the least likely source to any other Force user: Keltrayu, who found a mineral deposit in a cave near the Misty Falls one evening. He had been out of the camp without Nelani's permission, but a grateful Rin took the crystal and promised not to turn him in.
The Battle of the Misty Falls
Rin completed her new weapon, which produced a gold blade, just in time. Meditating on the future, she saw the Nightsisters coming to attack her clan, and warned the clan's elders. She also confessed that she was far better trained than she had initially let on, and offered to use her powers against the Nightsisters. Not entirely surprised at the revelation—Rin had picked up skills in the Misty Falls Clan far faster than any other witch—the Clan Mother advised Rin to proceed carefully, not letting herself concede to evil or destroy the Nightsisters purely to avenge “her” clan.
Advised by Keshiri to look at the larger strategy, Rin sought a way to influence the course of the battle without openly unleashing her destructive power on the Nightsisters. She assumed her illusion-weaving would be less effective, as the Nightsisters knew what she could do and Seneka Yari had doubtless prepared them for it. Instead, she tried to harness her telepathic powers to concentrate on emotions, adopting a more subtle approach to give or take confidence. Unpracticed in the ability, Rin did not want to test it out on her fellow witches, but Keltrayu rallied enough slaves to let her practice on them instead.
Rin envisioned the light frost clinging to the trees and the steam heavy off the falls, and her sisters concluded they had a week before the battle. Rin split the time between practicing her emotional manipulation and re-training herself in lightsaber combat. In her years since leaving Coruscant, the need for lightsaber mastery had been rare—deliberately avoiding the Jedi and shunning the Sith-held Korriban, she had not encountered another Force user wielding a lightsaber, and the lack of need to practice had atrophied her skills. She consequently cut two staves down to saber length and trained with anyone she could get to attack her, although most of her sisters preferred to devote their time to practicing spells and arranging battle tactics. It was again Keltrayu who volunteered to be Rin's practice dummy, enduring repeated strikes as Rin began to reawaken her lethal fighting skill. However, she also took the opportunity to subtly teach Keltrayu some skills of his own, even letting him practice with her lightsaber when the other witches were far enough away.
When the day of battle finally came, Rin stood waiting near the top of the falls, using the Force to monitor the approach of the Nightsisters. Every witch of the clan was committed to the fight, leaving only a few of the hardier male slaves to guard Rin, along with Keltrayu, who refused to leave her side. When the battle was joined, Rin reached into the Force in what became her first combative use of Battle Meditation. Though it was a different sensation touching the minds of strong-willed Force-sensitives, as opposed to mostly normal, docile slaves, she was able to bring her power strongly to bear against the Nightsisters, creating a sense of unease, confusion, and even panic among the attackers. Motivating the Misty Falls Clan proved harder; trying to separate negative emotions from positive, Rin almost reversed her targeting and demoralized her own army before abandoning any attempt to bolster them and concentrating on breaking the will of the Nightsisters.
Seneka Yari was aghast as her well-trained, Sith-influenced, and previously successful army began to collapse into disorder under the counterattack of the Misty Falls Clan. Sensing Rin through the Force and rightly attributing her problems to her, Seneka scaled the cliff, using her stolen lightsaber to cut through the slaves arranged defensively for Rin. When she came upon Keltrayu, though, the boy took up Rin's lightsaber and used what Rin had taught him to face Seneka. Though much more experienced with the Force, Seneka had little more formal training with a lightsaber than Keltrayu did, and the young slave managed to keep the Nightsister at bay until she lost patience fencing and blasted him with Force lightning.
Finally drawing herself out of her trance, Rin took up her lightsaber from Keltrayu and joined battle with Seneka. Despite her long dry spell of fencing, most of Rin's fighting skills were deeply ingrained from her youth and, complemented by her recent practice, returned very quickly in the face of a real enemy with a real lightsaber. Seneka, by contrast, had only been slightly superior to Keltrayu and was woefully outmatched against Rin. Even abandoning the magic words of her spells and summoning the Force alone, Seneka's powers paled against Rin's defense; the Sith witch deflected the Nightsister's lightning with a wave of one hand, and when Seneka tried to summon a hurricane from the waterfall, Rin seized control of it and drenched them both.
The deluge shorted out both their lightsabers. Unconcerned, Rin continued to parry Seneka's increasingly frantic lightning attacks. But when the Nightsister turned her attacks on Keltrayu, Rin seized her with the Force, holding her off the ground and strangling her in midair. Still hopelessly fixated on her original plan, Seneka summoned her lightsaber to hand, slashing impotently at Rin and demanding to be released. Rin complied, dropping Seneka off the falls to her death on the rocks below.
With Seneka dead and their morale already shattered, the surviving Nightsisters scattered to the wild. In the victory celebrations that followed, Rin made the case that Keltrayu had saved her life by fighting Seneka while Rin herself was Battle Meditating. While Nelani Kaa protested the theory, the Clan Mother sided with Rin, and Keltrayu was freed.
While he was in a moment of ecstasy, Rin took the opportunity to search for the shatterpoint in their relationship, and traced it back to his trust in her. Though she felt both humiliated and nervous, she eventually confessed the truth to the Misty Falls Clan, that she had not only been with the Nightsisters when they attacked the Frenzied River Clan, but had even led the attack, though she was careful to point out that she had never endorsed Seneka Yari's wholesale slaughter of innocents. Though appalled at this revelation, the majority of witches in the Misty Falls Clan had to concede that Rin had made what amends she could and had not indulged in the path of the Nightsisters during the battle.
The Clan Mother elected to pardon Rin, though the witches were in agreement that, one way or another, it was best that she leave Dathomir. Unsettled though he was by Rin's confession, Keltrayu appreciated her honesty and what she had done for him, both in freeing him and treating him as an equal while he was still a slave. He volunteered to go with Rin, and the wry clan elders did little to dissuade him.
Still without a ship, Rin took her new companion to the Singing Mountain Clan, which had the most contact with offworlders. A ship landed within the week, much to Keltrayu's surprise, though Rin herself seemed to have been expecting it. The mercenaries aboard had come hoping to hire Dathomiri witches as enforcers. None were interested, but Rin managed to “persuade” the mercenaries to take her and Keltrayu instead. After just short of three years, she finally left the world of the witches behind her.
A Master without an apprentice is a master of nothing.
Only after having escaped Dathomir with Keltrayu did Rin realize she was not entirely certain what to do with him. Though trained to be a Sith Lord herself, her views had increasingly shifted away from her father's ostensible goal of conquest for the Sith at any expense to those who stood in their way. In addition, she was still learning about the Force and knew she had much more skill to acquire. As such, she was unsure about considering herself a master of anything, let alone actually becoming the master of someone else.
However, Tak Sakaros and Ye'keb Millennium had been united in the belief that Force users learned the most through teaching their students. Since her parents had agreed on so very few things, this stood out in Rin's memory, and she saw training Keltrayu as a way to help them both grow in power and skill. Consequently, she offered to take him as her apprentice, and he eagerly agreed.
Abandoning the mercenaries when they dropped her off at Agamar, Rin took Keltrayu and star-hopped on cruisers and luxury liners, intending to find a more independent mode of transportation. Before she could do so, however, she and Keltrayu drew the attention of a mysterious Arcona, whom Rin could sense observing them. He fled from them on Ketaris, leaving Rin and Keltrayu confused and wary.
Trying to shrug off her concerns, Rin took Keltrayu to Ord Mantell, where she accessed her years-dormant credit account to buy a ship. Since Keltrayu was new to the galaxy off Dathomir and Rin's piloting and mechanical skills were basic at best, Rin opted for a Delta-class JV-7 escort shuttle, delighted with its heavy shields and armor and extensive weaponry. It was also large enough inside to give the two travelers room to practice. They traveled together to Nelvaan, where she was momentarily diverted by the discovery that her Massassi (who were greatly relieved to see her) and the native Nelvaanian clan of the area had formed a single tribe, teaching each other warrior skills and now all devoted to serving Rin (and the Sith in general). Having seen more than enough unusual things on her journey thus far, Rin took the strange development in stride and welcomed the Nelvaanians into her service.
Leaving her Massassi captain in charge of the whole mixed community, Rin left Nelvaan yet again with Keltrayu. Now that she had found him, she considered fulfilling her other vision of him and going to the Zeison Sha. However, the memory of the spying Arcona haunted her, and she was driven to distraction by the mystery. Using her ability to see into the future, she searched for the Arcona, and he only narrowly evaded them on Alsakan, Aargau, and Corellia. As they tracked their enigmatic quarry, Rin taught Keltrayu to use the Force to sense danger and to recognize the Force signatures of others. She also taught him lightsaber combat in greater depth, though the study remained mostly theoretical, as she did not have the materials on hand to build him a lightsaber and did not want to delay in her hunt for the Arcona to buy them.
…and three's a crime-fighting team
The Arcona narrowly evaded Rin and Keltrayu onDenon and escaped down the Hydian Way. The Sith and her apprentice arrived at Malastare in time for Rin to sense the Arcona slipping away, but they tracked him to Eriadu. Leaving Keltrayu with her lightsaber, Rin urged him to trust his senses, then pursued the Arcona through the dirty ecumenopolis. He fled from her, only to be cornered by Keltrayu on what would have been a gangway to yet another ship. Trapped between a Sith witch with lightning crackling between her fingertips and a young man with a golden lightsaber activated, the Arcona sighed and resigned himself to their custody.
Over drinks at a nearby cantina—which Rin caused to be deserted with a brief moment of concentration, much to the Arcona's surprise—he admitted the truth. His name was Taz Merot, and he was a Warden of the Sky. Even the well-traveled Rin had never heard of the elusive Force users, and Taz went on to detail their subtle, covert protection of the spacelanes, outside the reach of any law or government. Interested, Rin asked whether she and Keltrayu might accompany him for a time. Though a party of three was exceedingly rare among Wardens, Taz could not deny Rin's power or Keltrayu's potential, and so he conceded to letting them join him.
Leaving Rin's ship in drydock on Eriadu, the three companions set off across the stars, working aboard large passenger liners or taking one-shot crew positions on freighters. Rin's precognition and finely honed danger sense helped Taz identify dangers, allowing them to take down those who would cause harm before the fact, insulating civilians both from becoming collateral damage or discovering Taz's occupation. In their time together the trio encountered only two pirate attacks on their vessels; in both cases, none of the pirates survived, and none of the Wardens came out with so much as a scratch.
While they voyaged, Taz taught Rin and Keltrayu the Wardens' approach to Force-enhanced martial arts. He and Rin traded skills, Rin adding the Wardens' disciplines to her already formidable arsenal while Taz picked up elements of Var Shek and Teräs Käsi. Keltrayu, whose martial arts skills were limited to what he had observed distantly of the Dathomiri witches and what little Rin had taught him, began to develop an eclectic style based on all the various disciplines his two teachers knew.
Regular travel around other sentients continued to make training with real lightsabers inadvisable, but Rin made up for the deficit by working with Keltrayu on telepathy and perception of his environment, as well as telekinesis. Though she permitted Taz to teach him the Warden methods of channeling the Force through his body to aid movement speed and contribute to martial prowess, she also made certain Keltrayu's outlook was firmly in accord with her own philosophy of the Force. Though she opted away from Sith-style exercises intended to create rage and use it to fuel power, she did teach the boy the Sith detachment from emotions, channeling their force without succumbing to their control. Years in slavery had already taught Keltrayu to suppress his emotions; Rin made him confront and acknowledge them, which initially caused him stress, though the power that accompanied truly mastering them quickly brought him to his master's view of things.
Rin and Keltrayu journeyed with Taz for fourteen months, just short of a year and a half. By that time, it was obvious that Rin's martial skills were far beyond anything Taz could teach her, and she had mastered everything the Arcona had contributed to her education. He offered for Keltrayu to stay with him and become a Warden, but the Dathomiri opted to remain with his master. As a parting gift, Rin advised Taz to go to Tatooine, having foreseen his encounter with a potential apprentice there. Rin and Keltrayu jumped ship back at Eriadu, wished Taz well, and reclaimed their shuttle.
Among the Zeison Sha
Having decided that her study under the Zeison Sha had been far too long-delayed, Rin set off for Yanibar with Keltrayu. After a brief return to Obroa-skai to consult travel records and starcharts, they traveled out into the fringes of Wild Space, navigating half on astronomical data and half on Rin's own precognitive astrogation. After narrowly escaping an attack by slavers—breaking out of the attack formation only when Rin reached out with the Force and tore the slavers' minds apart—the two travelers finally found their way to inhospitable Yanibar.
Though naturally disinterested in outsiders, the Zeison Sha were moved by Rin's stories of her journeys thus far, particularly her role in protecting others while traveling the spacelanes. They were also cheered by her obvious dissociation from the Jedi Order or its philosophy. As such, they eventually agreed to allow Rin and Keltrayu to train with them, provided they made themselves useful members of society.
The two years and one month Rin and Keltrayu spent on Yanibar were the best thing the Sith witch could have desired for her apprentice. Yanibar's brutal climate and the Zeison Sha's insistence on self-reliance made Keltrayu even tougher and more resilient than he already was, and even gave Rin new tricks and techniques for adapting to and overcoming adversity. In addition, the open terrain and community of Force-sensitives who knew (roughly) what Rin was finally allowed her the opportunity to teach Keltrayu lightsaber combat. The two practiced routinely, and some of the Zeison Sha even sought lessons from Rin.
Studying under the Zeison Sha masters themselves, Rin and Keltrayu both amplified their telekinetic abilities. Keltrayu, still an apprentice, built up a skill with telekinesis that rivaled that of full Jedi Knights by the time they left Yanibar, precise and quick and able to lift nearly anything put in his path with minimal concentration. Rin, meanwhile, was able to fine-tune her telekinesis so that she could lift enormous objects or individually control a hundred tiny objects at once. Though she was not particularly fond of the Zeison Sha Discblade, she was able to adapt the Zeison Sha techniques in the use of her Sith Lanvarok, making the already-unpredictable projectiles all the more lethal. Rin also took to floating meditation while on Yanibar, enjoying the sensation of being disconnected from everything but the Force.
Rin forged a synthetic crystal and made Keltrayu a training lightsaber, using the opportunity to demonstrate how the mechanisms worked and came together. However, toward the end of their time on Yanibar, the young man's skills had matured enough that Rin tasked him with building his own weapon. Sojourning into the wild with only a Dathomiri staff and some food, he vanished for three solid weeks; after the first, the Zeison Sha gave him up for dead. Rin, however, remained calmly assured of her apprentice's survival, and was vindicated when he finally emerged from the wilderness thin, haggard, weary, and bearing a green-bladed lightsaber.
Rin's own lightsaber training took new shape on Yanibar as well. Trained in all seven classical forms, she had used a style which combined elements of all but committed to none. Once she began regularly training Keltrayu, however, Rin opted to fully master Juyo. Her outward poise and icy Sith control of her otherwise very deep and heartfelt emotions were well-suited to the seventh form, and her training in the other six styles and various martial arts lent themselves naturally to Juyo's unpredictability and seemingly erratic strikes.
After twenty-one months on Yanibar, Rin had mastered the Zeison Sha's telekinetic skills and was confident of her ability to help Keltrayu further refine his. The pair departed Yanibar in 80 ABY.
Though she felt she had more to learn about the Force, Rin was undecided where to go next, and so she and Keltrayu roamed the stars for several years, continuing his training and journeying anywhere they desired. The pair briefly stopped at Kohlma, investigating rumors of the long-dead Bando Gora, but Rin was able to deduce that the cult had controlled its followers through drugs and lost interest. They also voyaged to Yavin 4, where they examined the ruins of the Jedi Praxeum and the numerous Sith temples left over from the reigns of Naga Sadow and Exar Kun.
Since Keltrayu had an interest in history as well, Rin went next to Ruusan, visiting the Valley of the Jedi. Empowered by the Force nexus there, she was seized with her most overpowering vision yet, seeing a hundred different images of herself on worlds unknown to her, leading armies and governing species. She saw herself enthroned, though the throne changed and morphed along with her visions; sometimes pure white, sometimes glittering gold, sometimes the obsidian of the Dark Lord's throne on Ziost, sometimes a throne of bones dripping blood. The eyes of her envisioned self changed with the visions, from smooth white to their normal green-and-silver to the red-and-yellow of a Sith Lord. Overwhelmed by the power of her vision and the manifold possibilities they showed, Rin almost missed that Keltrayu was greatly conflicted and withdrawn upon leaving Ruusan, having had a vision of his own. She asked, but he was unwilling to speak about it, so she left the matter alone.
The pair went to Almas and explored the Sith fortress there, where Rin had to use her considerable power to protect both her mind and Keltrayu's from the corrupting, maddening power inherent in the edifice. The experience was unpleasant for both, though it did give Rin a more precise understanding of the mind and fear's place in it. Taking a detour from their quest for Force-historical locations, Rin stopped at insane asylums and treatment facilities on several worlds, studying the mental patterns of various sentients afflicted with paranoid delusions, obsessive mania, suicidal depression, or outright insanity. Her mind training under the B'omarr allowed her to accurately map these mental patterns, and combined with her Fallanassi illusion training, she was eventually able to replicate the effect in others.
As Rin toyed with her new ability, she and Keltrayu stopped at Kashyyyk, where Rin passed among the Wookiees, searching for members of the secretive Claatuvac Guild. Since it was not the kind of question she could ask without causing more problems than she solved, she opted instead to simply read minds, looking for someone with the information she wanted. Eventually, this led her to the Wookiee Kowrrilop on nearby Rakhuuun. Intending to just lift the information out of Kowrrilop's mind, Rin wound up saving him from an attack by Trandoshan slavers instead, employing her new ability to cause crippling, overpowering fear in their minds. Keltrayu easily cut down the few who tried to fight.
Grateful, Kowrrilop pledged a life debt to Rin, leaving the Sith somewhat conflicted. Having a non-Force adept with them would actually slow them down, but she knew what a serious insult it would be to reject the offer, and she did need Kowrrilop's knowledge of the secret Claatuvac hyperspace routes. So Rin accepted the offer, not at all sure what she was going to do, and she and Keltrayu took Kowrrilop with them. The Wookiee was eager to upgrade their ship, which Rin gladly accepted, and even helped them buy a pair of YVH 1 battle droids and modify them to be able to effectively wield lightsabers. They had no translator droid, but since Kowrrilop was trying to communicate with them, Rin was able to use the Force to comprehend him and translate for Keltrayu.
Using the Wookiee's knowledge, the trio journeyed to Empress Teta, touring the ecumenopolis and studying its history with the Sith invasion of the Great Hyperspace War. They next visited Tython, the homeworld of the Jedi Order. Rin desired to visit the ruins of Byss, but the chaotic oscillations of the already-dense hyperspace routes made the trip down the fracturing Byss Run impossible. Ignoring Kowrrilop's open fear and Keltrayu's obvious misgivings, Rin also used the Force to astrogate their ship as close to the Galactic Center as any sentient being had ever been, very distantly viewing the supermassive black hole there. She stayed until she felt a warning in the Force, the slow drift of their ship toward the black hole that would eventually put it beyond anyone's power to escape, and grudgingly helped Kowrrilop pilot them back out of the Deep Core.
Visiting the Imperial Remnant, Rin obtained a copy of Palpatine's Dark Side Compendium. Though she loathed the late Emperor personally, she was interested in his political philosophy and especially his views on government, as espoused in The Weakness of Inferiors. She stopped by Kothlis and studied the Bothan concept of ar'krai, then pursued various leads about the Chiss Ascendancy and the military campaigns of Grand Admiral Thrawn. Through back channels and the black market, Rin bought a copy of a Jedi manual by Tionne Solusar, detailing the history of the Force as the Jedi saw it.
Although still too wary to approach Korriban and confront the One Sith, Rin's reading of Tionne's manual gave her too much tantalizing information about the ancient Sith to ignore completely, so she took Keltrayu and Kowrrilop to Ziost instead. Sensing only the residual power of the dark side without the actual presence of live Sith, Rin led her party down to the icy world and explored the Sith palaces and archives there, seeking out useful information. She knew, however, that one of the most complete copies of the Sith archives was on her father's own flagship, the Sith Star, though she did not share the observation with her companions at the time.
In the land of the blind
In 83 ABY, Rin made the impromptu decision to travel to Alpheridies to study under the Miraluka. She and Keltrayu spent six months among them, learning their skill at Force Sight. After a while, she took to wearing a blindfold at nearly all times and made Keltrayu do likewise, forcing him to work on blaster bolt deflection or even spar with her or the YVH 1s with his blindfold on. Though it was unusual for Rin and deeply uncomfortable for Keltrayu, by the time they left both had even sharper abilities to perceive their surroundings with the Force, and Rin could see as well without her eyes as she could with them.
Of particular interest to Rin during her stay on Alpheridies was the Miraluka racial unity. The blind Force-sensitives all referred to one another as “brother” and “sister”, regardless of actual biological connection, which Rin found inspiring.
Not her style
Rin ran into Myko again in her search for other esoteric Force traditions. Told of the fabled Aing-Tii, Rin, Keltrayu, and Kowrrilop journeyed to the far galactic south and through the Kathol Sector, braving the hallucinogenic Kathol Rift in search of the mysterious monks. Both Keltrayu and Kowrrilop suffered hallucinations, although Rin's disciplined mind and experience with creating illusions of her own helped her remain focused on their task. After passing around the Rift, they were eventually discovered by an Aing-Tii Sanhedrim ship. The Aing-Tii opened fire non-lethally to dissuade the curious voyagers, but Rin obstinately reached out with the Force to contact the vessel's captain. Strong enough in the Force not to have her perceptions altered by the Aing-Tii weapons, she eventually persuaded the warrior monks to reluctantly allow her aboard.
Rin and her companions did not stay with the Aing-Tii for long. Though she endorsed their hatred of slavers and even helped them in an attack on a slave convoy, using the Force to cause panic and disconcert among the slavers, she did not hold their deliberately isolated view in very high regard. In return, the Aing-Tii were more than a little alarmed by Rin's casual use of such horrific Force powers. They did teach her flow-walking, but Rin had little interest in it; her strength in the Force allowed her to do it, but she was far more interested in the future than the past, so it was to remain a known but undeveloped skill.
Rin did take interest in the Aing-Tii view of the Force, that it was not strictly segregated into “light” and “dark”, but had a multitude of hues, many equally valid approaches. Both the Sith witch and her apprentice could identify with this approach, as Rin had no desire to constrain herself to the narrow view of the Jedi, but also rejected the self-centered path of the hardcore Sith.
The Aing-Tii told Rin of the Mind Walkers, and she traveled to the Maw in search of them, only to find that Sinkhole Station had been destroyed decades before and the order had scattered. Annoyed at being unable to track them down, she researched the history of the Maw and discovered references to the Celestials, along with the intriguing suggestion that the ancient race had deliberately created the Maw to contain the vanquished dark side entity known as Abeloth. With Kowrrilop's help, she scoured BoSS archives on several worlds, including Corellia and Kashyyyk, lured by the notion that the mysterious Celestials had also intentionally created the hyperspace disturbance west of the galactic center that bordered the Unknown Regions. Even the Claatuvac had no idea how to pierce the seemingly impregnable barrier, which only added to Rin's interest.
A kick sure's worth a thousand words
While Rin was pondering what she had learned, Keltrayu expressed an interest in visiting the Echani and learning their martial arts, as he had heard they were exceptional staff fighters. With no other plan in mind, Rin took him and Kowrrilop to Eshan in late 83 ABY, where she persuaded a local Echani mercenary group to take them on as students.
The three travelers reacted differently to the Echani. Kowrrilop, who had always relied on his overwhelming strength in a fight, took a long time to come around to the Echani view of grace in battle, though he was more open to their notions of understanding enemies and “conversing” through combat. Keltrayu spent as much time as possible learning Echani staff fighting, using the Force to add to his speed and power and steadily building his repertoire of techniques. He also acquired new fencing skills to complement his rapidly growing Djem So and Juyo abilities. Rin, by now a high-level martial arts master with a technique for nearly every situation, was able to defeat her training partners with ease, though she did appreciate the added grace and fluidity the Echani were able to add to her previously brutal style. She was less open to the Echani view of combative communication, mostly because she could sense the thoughts of others already.
After some seven months on Eshan, Rin and her comrades went to Thyrsus to investigate the history of the Sun Guard. Little remained of the organization's records, though Rin and Keltrayu scoured what they could find. Next, a decade late, Rin finally made her trip to Mandalore. She used her illusion-weaving powers to disguise herself among the Mandalorians or to divert them from noticing her party altogether, and the three researched Mandalorian battle tactics in relatively undisturbed obscurity.
Last leg of the journey
After their research on Mandalore was done, Rin believed she had enough information to begin working out a plan for what to do with it all. Though she had valued Kowrrilop's company and his astronomical expertise, she knew that the Wookiee could not follow where she would go. The three returned to Rakhuuun, where Rin erased her companion's memories of her over the past years, though she left him the knowledge of Deep Core and Kathol Rift spaceroutes as a gift for his faithful service. Before the disoriented Wookiee could recover, Rin and Keltrayu left the planet and returned to Nelvaan.
With the strange things that had happened to her Massassi and the native Nelvaanians in her return trips so far, Rin was fairly unsurprised to discover that her Massassi captain had died and the Nelvaanian chieftain had taken over leadership of the entire mixed community. The Massassi had been teaching the natives to control and pilot the Vengeance, and the Nelvaanian chieftain pledged his loyalty to Rin, so she accepted the situation without protest.
Over the next two years, Rin worked to complete Keltrayu's training while refining her political, military, and Force philosophies. In an isolated setting, it was comparatively easy for Rin to synergize the various experiences Keltrayu had had into a cohesive whole, wrapping them all around her approach to the Force. She sent her apprentice on demanding training exercises into the frozen Nelvaanian wilds, both to help develop his fitness and stamina and to see how he fared against Nelvaanian predators. The two spent long hours in lightsaber sparring, both against their customized droids and each other, and both the Massassi and the Nelvaanians were willing to spar with Keltrayu and Rin; the smallest ones even fought the two Force adepts hand-to-hand.
When she wasn't training Keltrayu, Rin spent long hours in meditation, pondering her future and what she should do with her awesome power. She was deeply intrigued by the possibilities of the galaxy beyond the hyperspace rift to the Unknown Regions, and she had the basic coordinates to Quadia, her mother's homeworld, which was also in that part of space. Her study of competing political philosophies led her to believe in the need for strong government, for a powerful central authority to govern otherwise unruly people, though she rejected the cruelty and despotism of her Sith ancestors.
Finally spending a long time on the Vengeance, Rin also spent many hours researching Sith alchemy. While her access to ancient sources was sorely limited, her aunt Valadyn, the previous master of the ship, had performed decades worth of experiments onboard and left all her notes in its computers. Rin perused these files extensively, gleaning what she could and adding it to the information she had received from the Dark Side Compendium. She managed to create her own Sith sword in the process, although she used the weapon only ceremonially, preferring the grace and neatness of her lightsaber.
By late 86 ABY, Keltrayu had honed his skills to completion and Rin's theories were substantially refined. Seemingly out of the blue, Rin was suddenly seized by a crushing feeling of despair and agony in the Force, striking her mind so hard that she nearly passed out from borrowed grief. Intent on finding the source of the feeling, she bent all her power toward finding out what had happened. To her horror, she envisioned her brother Tariun, sensing all the anguish and desolation was his. She even had a split vision of the future, and Tariun did not survive in all of them.
Concentrating as hard as possible, Rin could see that the sense of isolation was Tariun's shatterpoint, that he would live or die based on it. Desperate to prevent his death, she ordered her servants to power up the Vengeance, not even bothering to object as the Nelvaanians packed up their entire clan and moved into the ship. With Keltrayu and the crew working the ship, Rin searched for coordinates until she set the Vengeance on course for Junkfort .
Her brother's keeper
Leaving the capital ship a few light years off the Lesser Lantillian Route, Rin took the Wanderlust alone to Junkfort Station over Keltrayu's objections. She found her brother there, desolate, barely caring for himself, and to all appearances trying to drink himself to death. Trying to pry him away from his corner booth and collection of bottles, Rin drew him to angrily attack her, though she easily disarmed him when he went for one of his lightsabers, then knocked him out after a brief fight. Having caused something of a scene, Rin dominated the minds of everyone present, suppressing their memories of her and even Tariun's presence and locking them inside their own heads until she had dragged her brother away.
Rin flew her ship back to the Vengeance, where she nursed her comatose brother back to health; having needed to take down and keep docile a Sith Lord, she had put more power into her stun than was strictly necessary. After a few days, however, he awoke, and was deeply confused to find himself aboard a Sith ship and with Rin. After some gentle verbal prodding, Tariun confessed that Lorelai had died and broke down. Though Rin was devastated in her own right—she had known her sister-in-law her entire early life and had considered Lorelai a big sister—she managed to get a handle on her grief enough to console her brother.
Feeling hollowed and lost in his own life, Tariun had no idea what to do with himself aside from his aimless grieving. Rin thought for a moment, glancing ahead into the future and pondering this new, unexpected line of possibility. After a brief reflection, she offered for Tariun to join her, explaining the vision she had conceived of a single, benevolent dictatorship governing the galaxy and administering all systems for the betterment of their citizens. Though she knew it would take time for his heart to heal, Rin appreciated her brother's extensive tactical and battlefield and experience and wanted desperately to help him; though he was not completely convinced about the feasibility of Rin's dream, Tariun had nothing but his sister left and knew the course she set would be fraught with danger, and he committed himself to serving her in order to protect her.
Once Tariun had cleaned himself up, Rin introduced him to Keltrayu, as well as the Massassi and Nelvaanians; the Massassi were surprised but pleased to see him, while Tariun and the Nelvaanians regarded each other with a sort of mutual bemusement. Tariun and Keltrayu, however, became friends quickly. Keltrayu was used to sharing Rin's attention with others, and Tariun was so surprised to have rediscovered his wayward sister at all that Keltrayu was just another surprise added to the mix.
Intent on founding a government, Rin met with Tariun and Keltrayu to draft ideas for her political system. Working together, the three eventually produced the Charter of the Golden Empire. Rin chose the adjective “Golden” for her empire as a reference to sunlight and the yellow stars which supported the majority of systems with sentient life; like the sun, Rin wanted her government to be a source of warmth and enlightenment to all those beneath it. She also opted to take the title of Queen rather than “Empress”, wishing to clearly differentiate herself from the Galactic Empire and its history of brutality and repression, regardless of the reforms of the Fel Dynasty. She also devised her own calendar, establishing 87 ABY as the first “Year of the Golden Empire”, knowing that references to the Battle of Yavin would be meaningless to those who had never even heard of the Republic or the Empire.
With Quadia in mind, Rin wanted to plant the seeds of her empire in the Unknown Regions, only expanding to known space once she had amassed thousands of worlds and a military capable of taking on the powers of the known galaxy. Though Tariun endorsed this plan, he also pointed out that they were unlikely to accomplish anything with only the Vengeance and her crew. Rin realized she needed a fleet; fortunately, after a moment of reflection, both Sith Lords realized where they could find one.
Forging an Empire
As the Vengeance journeyed toward the Denarii Nebula, Tariun questioned Rin about her plan. He was unsure their father would support her vision, and worried about what would happen if the dispute turned into a fight. Though he could sense Rin's obvious power and see the change in her over the past twenty-two years, he also knew that Tak Sakaros was a lethal and talented Sith Lord, easily Tariun's own equal and possibly even more powerful. When her calm assurance was not enough to allay her brother's fears, Rin fought him in a sparring duel instead, and her mastery of Juyo, combined with her ability to inflict fear on him, brought her brother down quickly. Even when fighting Tariun and Keltrayu together, Rin was more than a match for them. Startled and humbled, Tariun offered no further objections.
Emerging at Denarii, Rin made contact with the Sith Star, then sent a message to her father on Kuat. Clearly caught off guard, Tak went to Denarii to answer the summons and was surprised to see both his children, reunited back with the fleet. He was less enthused when Rin announced her vision for the galaxy and declared that she needed the fleet. The two disagreed, and their disagreement became an argument, and as tempers rose and old bitternesses began to cloud both their judgments, the argument became a fight.
The duel was destructive, violent, and brief. Though a master of Makashi and Djem So, Tak could no more stand against Rin than Tariun could, and she sheared off his right arm at the elbow. Enraged, he attempted to keep fighting through the pain, and Rin coldly lashed out at him, cutting his lightsaber apart and striking him with the Force. She had heard of the technique in her research of the Great Sith War, and now she unleashed her energy on her father to strip him of his own, cutting him off from the Force. To complete her victory, she took on herself the authority of the Dark Lord of the Sith and stripped her father of the title Sith Lord. Leaving the broken man to escape from the Vengeance, Rin took Tariun and Keltrayu to claim the Sith Star and the rest of the fleet for herself.
Into the Unknown
Using parallel hyperspace lanes a few light years off the main ones, correcting her fleet's navigation with the Force when necessary, Rin took her new armada to a point just south of N'zoth, pausing for several long days meditate and reach into the Force for guidance while Tariun smoothed the transition among the Massassi to their new master. Some of the Massassi were old enough to have fought under Tariun during the Yuuzhan Vong War, and he was able to allay most of the misgivings about Tak's summary dismissal as their leader.
Realizing she would need to put all her power behind the dangerous trip through the hyperspace disturbance that bordered the Unknown Regions, Rin slave-linked the entire fleet together, then practiced using her telepathic abilities to communicate with the minds of the captains of the other ships while moving through hyperspace. The task was monumentally difficult even for Rin, and she had to work with the Sith Star's amplifying chamber to magnify her own power among her disciples. After weeks of practice in the empty space around N'zoth, she was finally able to give short orders to her officers throughout the fleet, though it became exhausting the more she did so.
And so the fleet slowly set forth through the hyperspace rift. Sometimes the ships would travel hundreds of light years at a time, sometimes only a few before Rin would wrench all the ships out of hyperspace, having sensed some danger or needing to make a course correction. The process was agonizingly slow, leaving Tariun and Keltrayu constantly nervous and Rin close to exhaustion nearly all the time, especially given her habit of keeping the ships moving for days on end, reluctant to rest anywhere in the rift save the safest and most isolated of oases.
After over a week of constantly perilous navigation, the Sith fleet finally emerged unscathed in the Unknown Regions, the hyperspace rift behind them and only mystery before them. Rin intended to follow the path she had for Quadia, but she pulled the whole fleet out of hyperspace after only a few hours of travel, sensing a disturbance in the Force. Isolated in the apparent middle of nowhere, Tariun and Keltrayu were about to express their misgivings when the Sith Star's sensors picked up something approaching. Though Tariun ordered the fleet to battle readiness, Rin stood them down and waited for the object to approach.
Stunning everyone but Rin, the “object” turned out to be a Duinuogwuin, one of the enigmatic so-called “Star Dragons”. At Rin's telepathic invitation, it consented to perch on the bridge of the Star. Seating herself on the deck facing it out the main viewport, Rin conversed silently with the Star Dragon for hours, reading its thoughts and projecting her own back into its mind while Tariun and Keltrayu watched, bemused. Rin shared her dream for the galaxy with the Dragon, receiving in turn its thoughts and experiences, as well as its knowledge of the area of space into which she was venturing. After an entire shift crew on the bridge had come and gone, Rin finally stirred herself and the Dragon took off into empty space. When Keltrayu asked how she felt, Rin answered only, “Humbled”.
Slayer of the Mighty Firebird
Rin's data on the location of her mother's homeworld was only approximate, and so she navigated the fleet carefully on the approach, determined not to lose any of her ships to astronomical accidents in the uncharted region. On one such emergence from hyperspace, the found themselves close enough to a planet to investigate. Moved by the Force to do so, Rin led her fleet into orbit and took Tariun, Keltrayu, and a contingent of Massassi soldiers down to the surface.
Arriving at a quintiannual meeting of all the native Abstalians, Rin “downloaded” their language and addressed the startled people. Though she had the force to conquer the backwater, primitive planet with little effort, in conversation she drew out another alternative, and agreed to earn the planet's allegiance by slaying the perennial enemy of the Abstalians, the eponymous Phoenix. Ignoring Tariun and Keltrayu's offers for help and their concern, she took several of the Abstalians leaders in an armored speeder to the volcano which was the Phoenix's home. She was more curious than intimidated, and actually wondered whether she might domesticate the fearsome predator.
Scaling the mountain, using the Force to provoke the Phoenix into emerging, Rin made it halfway up before the Phoenix finally responded, emerging from its dwelling in a shower of fire. The miniature eruption sent rocks and lava down the mountainside, but Rin's finely honed reflexes allowed her to leap from the ground to rocks in midair, back and forth, constantly ascending the slope. The Phoenix took off, but Rin was high enough up to leap onto its back.
Rin's attempts to overpower the Phoenix's mind proved disastrous; even her mental powers of persuasion were unable to break its ferocious refusal to surrender. Resigning herself to the need to destroy the beast, Rin slashed it with her lightsaber, but the heat-resistant properties of the Phoenix's feathers were sufficient that the strike just bounced off, and before Rin could react, a glancing blow from one of its wings knocked the lightsaber out of her hands altogether, sending it plummeting to the ground a kilometer below. Cartwheeling and spinning in the air, the Phoenix managed to dislodge Rin and send her falling after her lightsaber.
Knowing that even she, Tariun, and Keltrayu working together would not be able to slow her impact enough, Rin tapped the Phoenix's mind, piquing its anger into a frenzy so it dove after her. Using the Force to predict its descent, Rin twisted at just the right moment and remounted the creature's back. Accepting that she was unable to bend the Phoenix to her will, Rin reluctantly blasted it with Force lightning. Even the barrage of dark side electricity was only enough to stun and wound the Phoenix, but its temporary incapacity was enough for Rin to crush its heart and lungs. Controlling its body and wings telekinetically, Rin steered the corpse of the Phoenix back to ground.
The stunned Abstalians pledged their loyalty and their homeworld to Rin, and the Golden Empire had its first world. While she was disappointed in herself at her failure to tame the Phoenix, Rin had great respect for the Phoenix itself. To honor its tenacity and ferocity and to highlight its refusal to surrender, Rin adopted a stylized Abstalian Phoenix as the symbol of her Empire, as well as the personal symbol of the Sovereign.
Home sweet home
Rin made a few other Force-prompted “detours” on the way to her mother's homeworld, making the Empire an empire in fact as well as name, but the fleet arrived at Quadia in early 88 ABY. Rin journeyed to the surface with her brother, Keltrayu, and a Massassi detachment, but she was aghast to discover the world in a state of grim despair. Various pirate gangs and slavers had set up shop on Quadia, enslaving the native Qua and so badly reducing the world's resources that the native vegetation was sickly, the soil strained to capacity for bearing anything. Aside from a few unscrupulous Qua who had turned the system to their advantage and helped enslave their own people, most of the criminals were offworlders who had become lost from or simply lost their homeworlds and decided to stay on Quadia instead.
After ascertaining the situation, a livid Rin called up to the fleet for reinforcements and all her Massassi legions landed in force. With the fleet's fighters patrolling the sky and shooting down anyone who tried to escape, the liberation of Quadia was over quickly. Anyone who was not a Qua who bore arms against the Massassi was slaughtered, and with Tariun, Keltrayu, and Rin herself leading most of the attacks, the conquest was distinctly one-sided. Between ground-based massacres and orbital bombardment, Quadia was “purged” of its invaders in less than three days.
Rin next rounded up the Qua who had collaborated with the slavers and had them all put to death, then sought out the most respected voices among the survivors. While most of those elders were approaching a millennium of age, and thus considered Rin something of an impetuous youngster at a mere fifty-three, there was no denying the efficiency of her means. And while Rin wanted Quadia's allegiance, she made it very clear that she had no interest in exploiting the Qua themselves. Clearly in need of protection and with no other viable option, the Qua submitted themselves to the Golden Empire.
Rin ordered laws for the protection of the Qua. Trafficking in Qua blood (which had been a much-coveted source of income, as it had healing properties and the Qua could regenerate stolen blood efficiently) was made an offense punishable by an automatic death sentence, and Quadia itself was declared a protected world; visitors could only land with the permission of the Royal government or the Qua themselves.
Beginning with Te`net Organi on Quadia, in the process of adding member worlds Rin and her companions began to discover other Force-sensitives in the Empire. Initially, Rin just took them into the fold with the consent of their parents; she, Tariun, and Keltrayu trained them in the ways of the Force, but without a clear goal in mind. Trying to astrogate from world to world without star charts, searching for worlds with sentient life, was difficult enough that it took most of Rin's attention by itself. By 94 ABY, once a dozen people between toddler age and late teens had volunteered for the vague purpose of “service”, however, Rin was forced to admit that she needed a more defined plan for what to do with them.
The Sith queen could see the value of an Order such as the Jedi, who could mediate disputes or enforce the law in ways that those without the Force never could. Similarly, she admired the concept of the Imperial Knights as Force-strong warriors serving a strong central authority figure. However, she and her colleagues rejected entirely the concept of “service to the Force” as a superior goal to obedience to the law. Rin had come to believe that the Force did not have light or dark sides, it simply was; the concepts of “light” and “dark”, she believed, were reflections on the behavior and motivations of those who used the Force, not the Force itself.
After some deliberation, Rin and her comrades decided on an Order whose members would have the authority to enforce the law across the Empire or carry out other commands of the central government, but whose first loyalty was to the Sovereign and her laws, not any particular concept of the Force. Leadership of the new Order of the Golden Empire was vested in a Prefect, who would have absolute command over the Order and its members but be subject to the authority of the Sovereign, appointed and dismissed by her at will. With Tariun and Keltrayu to choose from, Rin appointed her brother as the first Prefect, in light of his much greater experience with command and training other Force-sensitives.
The front-line mainstay of the Order Rin titled “Centurion”, and installed Keltrayu as the first (and at the time only) such officer of the Empire. Though not technically equals in rank, Tariun and Keltrayu took to sharing with Rin the task of training their adepts, all of whom were given the title “Novice”. All three found it easier to focus the training of the Novices once they had a clear use for them in mind. To reinforce the goal of the Order, Rin often dispatched Keltrayu on field missions in her existing systems to pacify any dissent or intersystem quarrels, keeping Tariun closer at hand to oversee the nascent Order and help plan military strategy.
Keys to the kingdom
Rin's Force-Vision-powered navigation was accurate, but slow; she was leading her fleets through hyperspace in the same stop-and-go way they had used to pierce the hyperspace rift barring the Unknown Regions from the rest of the galaxy. The method unearthed a disproportionate number of sentiently occupied planets, but it left a great deal to be desired in terms of expediency.
In late 94 ABY, however, the Royal fleet happened upon a scout fleet from Iscandar. Sensing the surprise but lack of hostility from the other ships, Rin established communication with them. Using hand signs for lack of a common language, she convinced the Iscali crew to send a delegation aboard the Sith Star, where she used the Force to acquire their language. Now able to communicate, she arranged to return to their homeworld and speak to Iscandar's government.
The Iscali agreed to join the Empire without much hesitation; naturally curious and inventive, they relished the chance to explore the stars in a way only the breadth of a larger government could provide. The Iscali added their fledgling but well-armed navy to Rin's, and numerous Iscali volunteered for service in the newly minted Royal Navy and Royal Starfighter Corps. Of even more use, however, were the Iscali star charts. Iscali astronomers and astrophysicists had accurately mapped the surrounding regions of space, probes and scouts had found numerous unoccupied worlds which could be used for resources, and the Iscali had even established a colony on Tershin, as well as building trade with Yin and Keliso. All three of those worlds were quickly added to the Empire, and the Iscali navigational systems allowed the Empire to expand much more quickly.
Between the Iscali and their spacefaring abilities and Rin's use of the Force, the Empire grew, sometimes by reasoned discussion, sometimes by displays of power or introduction of technology to primitive planets, and occasionally by simple conquest. By 100 ABY, Rin had built up a network of sixty-three worlds with sentient occupants, as well as over a hundred uninhabited or uninhabitable “resource systems”. She had close to two dozen Novices in her Order, and the Zaractok Aquila Corcer became the second Centurion, and the first trained to that rank by Rin, Tariun, and Keltrayu. The military, now collectively titled the Armada of the Golden Empire, was developing plans under Tariun's leadership to integrate the various species in the Empire, working around differences in physiology to give as many opportunities as possible.
After the thirteen-year honeymoon of external peace, however, the Empire was drawn into conflict which would test its limits and bring personal tragedy to Rin.
The Great Liberation
In early 100 ABY, a small force of scout ships decanted from hyperspace at Quadia, one of the northern border systems of the Empire. Two of Rin's ships were in orbit for repairs, and won the ensuing skirmish. However, Tariun was concerned by the military efficiency reported in the battle recap; it was obvious to the Sith Lord that the ships were not mismatched pirate or mercenary vessels. They bore the hallmarks of training and discipline which only came from being a small component of a much larger force.
Stationing the entire fleet at Quadia, Rin consulted her Iscali navigators, who admitted that they had sent probes which detected interstellar activity in the region north of the Empire, though none of the probes had survived long. Interrogating captured survivors of the enemy raid after downloading their language from their brains, Rin unearthed the existence of the Tetrarchy of Mezlagob to the north. She sent Keltrayu on a reconnaissance mission to learn more about the enemy. While her illusion-weaving and mind control skills would have easily protected her against inquiry by anyone less than another Force master, Tariun and Keltrayu pointed out that she needed to be present to govern her own empire and, middle of galactic nowhere or not, Humans were still the most populous species in the galaxy, and Keltrayu would be the least likely to attract attention.
While he was gone, the mysterious foe launched a second probing attack, this time on Yin. While no ships were in orbit, Yin's surface defenses responded to orbital strikes, holding a stalemate until Iscali ships arrived to reinforce the border world. Spending most of her time wracking the Force for answers, Rin was in a state of high tension when Keltrayu finally returned with a wealth of information.
The Tetrarchy was a centuries-old dictatorship led by the four Tetrarchs and armed with a military much larger than Rin's own. Humans did comprise part of the Tetarchy's population, which Rin found intriguing, but the few rumors Keltrayu had managed to mind trick out of military officers he crossed suggested that the more pressing concern was an impending retaliatory strike.
Examining the information Keltrayu had pieced together, the three leaders, the Massassi captain Zogryth, and several Iscali naval officers concluded that the neighboring Xoquon sector was the least-defended in the Tetrarchy and the probable source of any raids into the Empire. Keltrayu and several of the Iscali advocated a defensive strategy, concentrating the Empire's resources on the border to hold the line against the enemy. Tariun and Zogryth, by contrast, preferred a preemptive strike into the Tetrarchy's own territory, off-balancing the enemy before a substantial invasion could be massed and forcing their foes onto the defensive.
Rin weighed Tariun's experience versus the weight of numbers against him, then adopted her brother's plan. She, Tariun, Keltrayu, and the senior naval officers reviewed what Keltrayu had learned about the Xoquon sector and selected Wemod as their first target. Leaving only a token border guard, Rin went with the Prime Fleet to Wemod, where Tariun led a fighter contingent of the ensuing space battle while Keltrayu had overall command. Backed by the native Minetii, the Empire liberated Wemod from the Tetrarchy's control and captured both the planet and its arms factories.
The Minetii were able to provide Rin with much greater information about the Tetrarchy, and enough high-level prisoners had been taken for her to rip military knowledge out of their heads and piece together a general map of the Tetrarchy's economic and military structure. Raids and assaults on a half-dozen nearby systems caught the Tetrarchy unprepared, and the token defenses crumbled between the Empire's assaults and native resistance to the Tetrarchy's control.
Emboldened by her success in the Xoquon sector and wishing to both hamstring the Tetrarchy's production capabilities and strike a more devastating morale blow, Rin asked Tariun to devise a strike into the Mezlag sector, the heart and home of the Tetrarchy. Passing up the capital world of Mezlagob and the military depot at Ommol, he eventually picked Hudrel as the best choice. Mustering a mixed force of Sith ships, refitted Iscali vessels, and captured Tetrarchy cruisers, the Empire drove its assault on the droid-making world.
The Battle of Hudrel was a disaster. Though definitely surprised by the brazen invasion, the Tetrarchy rallied quickly with a defensive fleet more than sufficient to match the Empire's. Ground-based defenses and shields prevented orbital bombardment or atmospheric maneuvering, and the arrival of reinforcements from elsewhere in the Tetrarchy completely doomed the endeavor. Rin's Battle Meditation was the only thing which kept the defeat from being a rout before the Prime Fleet could flee homeward.
Fighting to survive
Playing up its victory at Hudrel, the Tetrarchy went on the attack with a vengeance. Three of the systems captured in the Xoquon sector were retaken within a month as Rin pulled back her forces to defend the Empire's original border. Forced to divide her fleet to meet multiple potential points of attack, she effectively ensured that the combined might of the Prime Fleet could not be massed to defend against a single flashpoint.
This tactical oversight cost the Empire Tershin, which fell after a grueling battle led by Tariun and Keltrayu. Yin was attacked again, and though its defenses held and reinforcements arrived, the victory was costly. Bolera suffered a similar assault, and the Tetrarchy forces actually landed on the ground before Rin and her reinforcements could arrive. Several other systems were captured outright due to lack of defenses.
Reeling from the Tetrarchy attacks, Rin called together her advisors and commanded them to come up with a plan. After arguing and debating for several hours—and breaking to lose Irestego—Tariun and Keltrayu finally united behind the idea of a single, overwhelming, “all or nothing” attack. Having learned her lesson at Hudrel, Rin was leery of leaving her own territory, but Keltrayu pointed out that defending against the Tetrarchy would turn into a war of attrition which would slowly grind them into nothing instead. Rin reluctantly conceded, and the war council opted to win or die at Tizgo V, military depot of the Xoquon sector and the launch site of all the attacks on the Empire thus far.
The turn of the tide, the fall of a hero
«She raked their hearts o'er burning coals / She rent their minds and broke their souls.»
―Basic verse translation from “The Fall of Keltrayu”
Rin gathered every ship in the armada at Quadia, leaving the rest of the Empire undefended except for ground emplacements and troops. She was resolute that her empire would win the day at Tizgo, or be wiped out of existence in a flare of glory. Even all the Novices were going to the battle, and would be accompanying the ground invasion force; all were armed with rapidly constructed lightsabers. En route, she searched the future and the Force for guidance, and announced her decision to take the ground along with Tariun and Keltrayu, leaving Zogryth in command of the space battle.
Straining her precognition to its limits, Rin gave the bridge crew of the Sith Star ground coordinates and had them open fire the second the ship left hyperspace. Several went far wide, but a few hit a shield and left part of the atmosphere unprotected. Tariun led the massive invasion fleet down that corridor under precision bombardment cover from the fleet.
The ground battle was grueling and consumed an entire day and night, and part of the next day. Rin spent much of that time in Battle Meditation, opting to take part in the melee for “rest” when her meditation became too taxing. By the dawn of the second day, both armies were exhausted, even as Rin tried to keep their spirits up with the Force.
Artillery barrages had fended off the Tetrarchy's shock tanks during the first day, but a depletion of tibanna and a need to conserve firepower had let one slip through. The tank drove to the front of the Tetrarchy's ranks and began to charge its pulse cannon. If it fired, it was positioned to wipe out Rin, all the Novices, Tariun and Keltrayu, and a good portion of the army in a single shot.
Struggling to keep her army motivated and unafraid, Rin did not see Keltrayu until the Force jerked her attention in his direction. She saw his plan in her mind's eyes a second before he launched it, and several seconds too late to stop him. She could only look on in stricken horror as Keltrayu leapt through the air, impaling his lightsaber in the shock tank's generator. A burst of electrical discharge scorched straight through his chest, burning a hole through his heart and killing him instantly. The next second, the shock tank blew up.
Rin's grief at losing her apprentice and friend destroyed her control and exploded out of her in a scream that spread like a shockwave of its own over the battlefield. As she screamed and shrieked in paroxysms of rage and anguish, the ranks of Tetrarchy forces, already reeling from the loss of the shock tank, broke and collapsed. Her illusionary and mind-bending powers overtaking her unchecked, Rin twisted and ripped at the minds of everyone within a kilometer; those closest on the enemy side were so horrified at what she injected into their minds that hundreds committed suicide rather than endure what she was doing to them. Her side fared only slightly better, the army quavering and the Force-sensitive Novices collapsing and screaming. Rin stopped only when Tariun, using all his power to blunt the force of her attack around himself, shook her out of it.
Keltrayu was gone, but Tizgo V was won. Brought back to reality by Tariun, Rin quickly let fury overshadow grief and poured it into renewed Battle Meditation. Her army recovered and took new heart, while the Tetrarchy forces fled in disorder and chaos. At Rin's direction, the fleeing enemies were pursued and slaughtered to the last man, with no surrender accepted. By sunset on the second day, the Tetrarchy military at Tizgo was in ruins, much of the arsenal and a substantial number of ships were captured, and the tide of the war was turned.
The wrath of Rin
Rin unleashed her forces on the Tetrarchy, aiming to renew her strategy of bludgeoning them before they could amass an appropriate defense. Tariun led a raid to Ommol to destroy the shock tank factory and eliminate the hated weapon from the fight altogether. Tershin was quickly retaken, and served as a launch point to recapture the rest of the Empire. Much of the Xoquon sector had revolted against the Tetrarchy after Rin's victory at Tizgo, and the Sith queen used her newly acquired ships to help liberate the rest. Rin gave standing orders to her forces to offer surrender only once at the beginning of battle, and to give no quarter afterward.
While the Tetrarchy reeled from its losses, the Sakaros siblings commanded a drive into the Vall`to sector. Originally settled by lost explorers from the Core millennia earlier, it was dominated by familiar species such as Bothans, Duros, and Humans. It was also the financial center of the Tetrarchy, and the battles of Baes and Vall`to decapitated another military depot and cut the Tetrarchy off from its economic center. The enemy Admiral Garyth Quorr died at Vall`to, depriving the Tetrarchy of its greatest military leader.
Rin's forces acquired more worlds in their final push to Mezlagob, where Tariun expected a dramatic battle of epic proportions. Instead, the “battle” was over before it began. The Tetrarchy military had grown increasingly intimidated by the Empire's repeated successes and Rin's reputation for both inexplicable, “magical” power and brutality to those who defied her. As a result, the Tetrarchy captains surrendered one by one until every ship had stood down.
Rin captured and absorbed Mezlagob, tried the surviving Tetrarchs for crimes against sentients, and decapitated them herself live on the HoloNet. Ommol refused to surrender, but Rin and Tariun led the armada and crushed the last pocket of Tetrarchy resistance.
The age of expansion
The Royal government
The Empire more than doubled with the addition of the Tetrarchy's eighty-three worlds, and Rin was forced to admit that it had grown beyond her ability to effectively govern alone. She appointed the first Grand Council of the Golden Empire as an executive cabinet to assist in administering the Empire. Needing someone she could trust in a position of extreme authority, Rin installed her brother as the first Royal Executor. Not long after, she also created him as the first Phoenix Prince, the heir to the throne in case of her death or incapacity.
Keliso erected a monument for Keltrayu, which Rin, Tariun, and all the Novices went to dedicate, and at Aquila Corcer's suggestion, Rin renamed the Order of the Golden Empire for her fallen apprentice. With the entire Tetrarchy annexed, the Order of Keltrayu grew rapidly, and what time Rin did not spend governing was usually devoted to helping Tariun and Corcer build up the Order. Royal engineers oversaw the construction of the Citadel, a training center for the Order aboard the Sith Star.
After the Great Liberation, Rin adopted the Hapan monarch's custom of wearing a veil in public, to give herself a sense of ethereal otherworldliness. By 105 ABY, a dozen Centurions had been promoted, and Tariun bullied Rin into appointed a Royal Guard for herself as well. Only two years later, the Royal government created an Intelligence division to watch for threats along the borders and an Exploration Corps to help expand the Empire's reach.
A friend in me
My people love me because I protect them, or I bring them peace or technological advances or better lives. My Centurions love me because I raised them and trained them and made them strong. And don't get me wrong, it's a real love and I know how fortunate I am. But my brother Tariun would love me just as much if I laid down my crown and worked as a serving girl in a bar for the rest of my life. They follow me because they think I'm worth following; he would do anything for me for no reason but that I'm his sister and I asked him to.
—Rin Sakaros to Alluria Quinn, about her brother Tariun
Rin and Tariun had always been close, but that closeness was greatly amplified after the growth of the Empire really began following the war. The two and Keltrayu had been a tight triumvirate in the early days; though not equals, they were the only three Force users who had come from outside the Empire and the core of its early leadership. With Keltrayu gone, Tariun was the only person Rin considered a real friend, someone with whom she could be open and honest about herself. The bond between the two siblings only amplified over time, to the point that Tariun could read Rin's emotions as well as she could read his, and Rin could contact him telepathically from across the Empire.
They kept almost no secrets from one another, and Rin depended heavily on her brother's counsel, advice, and support in adversity. Tariun, in turn, devoted his entire life to protecting Rin; with Lorelai dead and his father barely a memory, she was all he had left in life, and he was zealous in serving her and ruthless in protecting her. Trained as Sith Lords, both were in the automatic habit of keeping their emotions under tight control, but each felt safe sharing real feelings with the other. Their close bond also made them aware of what not to bring up; Tariun rarely spoke about Keltrayu privately, knowing how the loss of her friend pained Rin, and in turn Rin never mentioned her sister-in-law Lorelai, because she could not stand to see the heartbreak that cracked her brother's calm every time he even thought of her.
Rin claimed publicly to the few who asked that she heaped responsibility on her brother—Prefect of the Order, Prime Legate of the Armada, heir to the Empire and a Royal Executor—because he was outstandingly qualified and capable. While she believed this genuinely, she also knew that the formative years of her empire were crucial to its longevity, and Tariun was the only person she could trust absolutely to carry out her will with no other designs of his own.
In the first decade and a half after the Great Liberation, Rin set herself and her Empire against two internal enemies. The first was the Nightside Raiders and their barbarous leader, the Synnott Kilwyo Kesh. When repeated law enforcement raids by system police and the Order of Keltrayu failed to seriously disrupt the Raiders' activities, Rin retaliated by stripping Kesh of all protection of the law and declaring him an Enemy of the Empire. Though many of her Centurions and advisors thought no one would dare to go against Kesh alone, Rin was vindicated when Renamo Kemset stabbed Kesh to death in a bar. Without their leader, the Raiders were scattered and mopped up by the armada.
The extermination of the Raiders brought to light the activities of Red Eclipse, a shadowy slaving syndicate working at the fringes of the Empire's territory. Rin directed her law enforcement bodies and Centurions to research the syndicate and discover what they could about their faceless enemy. Six years of fruitless leads and unrewarding raids finally resulted in the successful capture of a slaver convoy of Heshoo prisoners in 115 ABY. Rin consulted with the Heshoos personally and, aghast at the stories of brutality and repression on their homeworld, she set all of Royal Intelligence to finding it.
It took only a few months of concerted effort before Intelligence located Harth Gool. Tariun and several Centurions led the assault on the ground emplacements as Rin broadcast a message to the Heshoos, in Heshuub, urging them to revolt. After the slavers were defeated, Rin had them tortured and interrogated until they betrayed the identities of their leaders, Zhin-Vel and Sayl Leikvold. Remembering the way the Heshoos were mutilated, Rin had every Red Eclipse captive disemboweled and burned alive, then set her Centurions to finding Zhin-Vel.
Grief and loss found Rin again when Aquila Corcer and the Iscali Centurion Melnanooin did indeed locate the Zyked slaver, only to be killed at Synno. The first Centurions to die since Keltrayu, their deaths brought back agonizing memories of that first loss as well. But Royal justice was not long delayed, and Eskol Kaartinen and Zhin-Vel's fellow Zyked Rajj-Yo tracked the slaver lord to Haerch and killed him. Leads helped Rin and Tariun plan an ambush at Bolera, where Sayl Leikvold was killed and the majority of the Red Eclipse fleet was annihilated.
Ode to a hero
In 114 ABY, while the Hunt for Red Eclipse was still waiting to bear fruit, Rin attended an art exhibition on newly acquired Tyras, where her party was accosted by a Mineti named Osibom, a native of Wemod. The Royal Guard moved to attack him, but Rin sensed only a creative spirit and an intense desire for her approval, so she held her guards back. Osibom asked for permission to present his own artistic piece, a poem entitled “The Fall of Keltrayu”.
Though leery of the subject matter and obviously hesitant, Rin granted her permission, and the Royal party and the native artists settled into a performance hall to hear Osibom recite his Orhyo masterpiece. Recitation of the epic poem, which detailed the Battle of Tizgo V and centered around Keltrayu's self-sacrifice, which Osibom himself had seen from the back ranks of the army, took close to twenty minutes. The poem brought back to the surface much of Rin's old grief for her fallen apprentice, but she was deeply moved by how even a random soldier had been so obviously touched by Keltrayu's last act.
When Osibom finished, there was a long moment of silence, broken only by the sound of Rin crying to herself. Then she got to her feet, drew back her veil, kissed Osibom on the cheek, and thanked him. “The Fall of Keltrayu” was made mandatory reading for every member of the Order of Keltrayu and became a staple of Orhyo literature throughout the Empire, and Rin made Osibom himself the first Poet Laureate of the Golden Empire.
Growth and development
With the Nightside Raiders and Red Eclipse obliterated, the Golden Empire continued to grow and expand through diplomacy and conquest, though Rin ordered her forces to make every practical overture of peace before resorting to violence. She was adamant, however, that all systems be brought into the Royal fold. Her vision of a unified galaxy, benevolently governed by a strong central authority, did not permit exceptions; any system which was allowed to remain outside Royal control, she thought, was allowed to remain a potential threat to its neighbors.
Through the work of the Ministry of Diplomacy, many worlds joined the Empire willingly, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Integration and the Royal Integration Corps worked to quickly bring the benefits of the Empire to new systems while also propagating Royal culture. Some systems, like war-torn Sanduluc, could only be brought into the fold by conquest, and Rin frequently sent her brother and her Centurions to lead these campaigns.
Despite the swell of the Empire, Rin spent as much time as possible with her Novices, trying to visit them every day, even if only to tell them news or read a story to the youngest of them. Her illusion powers enabled her to project training scenarios into their minds without risking some of the danger of the real things while still simulating pain for mistakes. She also subtly used her telepathic powers to bring her Novices to her political and philosophical views, though she did so by sharing that part of her mind with them, and viewed it not as brainwashing but simply expressing the truths she had learned without diluting it through words. With regular telepathic contact, Rin forged a strong link with many Centurions, and the majority felt comfortable sharing their thoughts with her to report rather than speaking aloud.
Though she tried not to play favorites among her Centurions, several stood out. The Bothan Tarzg Sav'lir became one of her Royal Guards in 115 ABY, and was so dedicated to his position that Rin let him keep it indefinitely. The Fyaar Novice Vem, a native of conquered Waldragos, seemed out of place with the first five lightsaber forms, leading Rin to finally break her self-imposed embargo and teach him Juyo. The Queen also took an early interest in the Kasci Jira Seezhli, and the bond between the two strengthened almost to the level of a mother and daughter as Jira grew and matured.
While most of the civil administration posts in the Empire were somewhat merit-based, with even high appointed offices being the reward for a long and productive career through the ranks, Rin occasionally gave extra responsibility to her Centurions at ages far lower than the average for non-Force adepts. In particular, appointment to her Royal Guard was considered an indication of strong potential for a distinguished career. Since Rin considered herself powerful and skilled enough to not really need many Guards, she selected her Guards instead for a variety of reasons, ranging from combative skill to a desire to have them learn from being around her or Tariun—she got her “revenge” on her brother for forcing her to have guards by extending their protection to him, too. Aside from Tarzg, assignment to the Guard was on a rotating basis with appointments usually two to four years in length.
The fates of Rin's first few organized enemies dissuaded organized crime from rearing many heads in the Empire, and the majority of these were lopped off promptly by the Centurions. In the absence of any major enemy and in light of the rapid growth of the Empire, the economy boomed and both civilian manufacture and warship production steadily grew. Rin worked herself constantly, only breaking when Tariun badgered her into taking a brief vacation. During those times, she left him as Regent and withdrew to her personal retreat on Queen's Garden.
The single glaring instance of an internal disaster arose on Ekshi, where the Centurion and Consul Vessyk was using his power to turn the world into his own personal dictatorship. When she received word of the abuses, Rin led a delegation of Centurions to Ekshi, where she invaded Vessyk's palace and invented the new and horrific penalty Kasshralhyot for him. Though she stayed to oversee the cleanup process, Rin was still deeply wounded by what had been allowed to happen, and amended the Royal Charter to include the post of Tribune on every world as a check against local despotism arising again.
By 130 ABY, the Empire was going strong and expanding to encompass new systems as quickly as they could be integrated. With her navy swollen to thousands of capital ships and the majority of her systems solidly loyal, Rin began discussing with Tariun, the Umdal Centurion Sorrik, and several other tactical experts the possibility of a campaign against the Chiss Ascendancy, on which the Empire was ever more encroaching. Though the xenophobic, reclusive Chiss were hardly open about their society, Tariun still warned his sister that the conquest would be difficult; xenophobic or not, tales of Chiss military might had spread the galaxy over.
With a goal in mind, however, the Prime Legate was able to turn military production toward a defined objective, building more heavy offensive cruisers than defensive ships and strengthening recruitment across the three armed services. Scouting the well-defended Ascendancy brought more problems than it solved, so Rin spent much of her time searching the Force instead, trying to envision what the Chiss had in place.
She had sensed the existence of the Sith-Imperial War in the galaxy proper, the swell of violence and death which could only accompany galactic war, and she knew the One Sith had made their move. In one moment of meditation, however, she was ripped away from what she had been trying to see and instead given a vision of the Massacre at Ossus. Horrified, she watched Darth Nihl kill her brother Hayden. Tariun had sensed his brother's death as well, at met Rin just as her grief started to burn into rage. Though grieving too, he forced Rin to admit that they could not simply leap into the known galaxy to avenge their brother without destroying everything Rin had built, and the queen was forced to bitterly accept the truth of her brother's words.
Unable to vent her wrath on the One Sith, whom she now despised and wished every imaginable evil upon, Rin instead threw herself into planning her campaign against the Chiss. Seven years were spent in the preparation, with the economy geared toward war production and the armada running regular training exercises and war games.
In 137 ABY, Tariun and Sorrik believed their forces were ready, and Rin gave her blessing for the war to begin. The Armada struck at both sides of the Ascendancy simultaneously, Tariun and Rin taking forty percent of the invasion force to Coreward Cormit while Sorrik struck with the rest of the fleet at Kinoss. Though the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force was well-trained and well-armed, the element of surprise and weight of numbers carried the day for Sorrik, while Rin's Battle Meditation and Tariun's tactical skill smashed the forces at Cormit. In a single day, both CEDF staging bases were neutered.
Both fleets drove toward the Chiss capital at Csilla, hitting colonies and other worlds on the way to make their intention clear. The resulting battle was far too even for a clear result, with most CEDF forces gathered to defend the capital, and Rin ordered her forces to hyperspace, seeming to retreat the way they had come. The diversion worked; the Chiss split their forces among Csilla, Kinoss, and Cormit, hoping to grab the invaders before they could escape. Sorrik even launched a decoy raid on Avidich to reinforce the false impression.
In reality, both halves of the fleet reunited in dead space north of Csilla, then attacked Naporar. With so much of the Chiss military deployed, defenses were far too light around the CEDF command world to stand against the entire Royal Armada, and Naporar's defenses and communications systems were destroyed or captured. With high command severed from the field, Rin directed the victorious armada back to Csilla, where they joined a protracted battle that eventually captured the capital world and a good number of the CEDF reinforcements who tried to come to the homeworld's aid. In light of Csilla's fall, Naporar's defeat, and the damage done to the two CEDF bases, the Ascendancy surrendered to Rin, though holdouts of the CEDF retreated to The Redoubt, intending to rally, rebuild, and liberate their people.
Proud and resilient, the Chiss were not inclined to accept conquest, but the majority accepted that active resistence without the backing of the CEDF was unlikely to result in anything but the extermination of the rebels. As a result, the colony worlds of the Chiss Ascendancy submitted with good grace to Rin, most hoping to bide their time and wait for the remnants of the CEDF to recover and rescue them. Rin was aware of their hopes, but hoped herself to win them over and integrate them while positioning her forces to starve out those hiding in the Redoubt.
Rin met with the Aristocras and other leaders of the Ruling Families, trying to preserve stability while thoroughly integrating the Chiss into Royal culture and ensuring she did not leave so much intact that she built up a rebellion herself. She allowed Chiss military personnel to continue serving, though she forced species integration and had all CEDF vessels reprogrammed with Royal computer systems and the Armada override codes. While touring Naporar to ensure that rebuilding took place as quickly as possible, Sato Raltharan discovered the Force-sensitive Chiss girl Vos'elk'eetash, and took her into the Order of Keltrayu as a Novice.
The year after the war, the Empire added Daispin to its fold. Its queen, Aria Nikina, was a trained Force adept, and Rin allowed her to join the Order of Keltrayu as a Centurion. She took a special interest in Aria, implanting Orhyo in her mind to spare her the time learning it and helping the younger Juyo stylist improve her lightsaber skills.
A new family
With the Ascendancy conquered apart from the Redoubt, Rin devoted most of her time over the next two years to rebuilding the Empire's losses in the brief but violent war and integrating the Ascendancy. While the Ascendancy itself consisted only of Csilla and its twenty-eight colonies, the Chiss had at least nominal control over an area comprising thousands of systems. Unwilling to rely exclusively on the Chiss themselves to help her acquire this territory, Rin was forced to proceed slowly, sparing only the few ships she did not need to guard the borders and police the Ascendancy.
In 139 ABY, Rin and Tariun were on the bridge of the Sith Star overseeing the construction of a Chiss Star Destroyer when Rin heard a ghostly whisper in her mind saying, “Katie, forgive me. Katie, I love you.” The only person in the galaxy Rin had ever tolerated calling her that was her father, almost a century beforehand, and she realized what was happening an instant before she felt him die in the Force. The two Sakaros siblings withdrew from their guards and barricaded themselves into Rin's chamber, where both broke down. Rin was confused by her feelings; she still had lingering bitterness toward her father for her mother's murder and his refusal to support her, but the genuine repentance and love she had sensed in his last words—words he had spent the final moment of his life to convey to her, personally—were enough to shake her confidence to the core.
Leaving a Council of Regents to administer the Empire, brother and sister journeyed together to Nar Shaddaa, where Rin had pinpointed the sensation of her father's death. Expecting to find him alone, both wondered how to wrest or steal his body away from whoever had it without revealing themselves. But Rin was startled and deeply humbled when she found thousands of mourners crowding around the Merquise Syndicate headquarters, assembled to honor her late father. The genuine respect and grief Rin could sense in the minds of all those around her only added to her growing feelings of regret and shame that she had written her father off as beyond utility or salvation.
Hearing the eulogy delivered by Alluria Quinn, Tak's final apprentice, Rin was compelled to act. Following his casket through the crowd, she waited until it was about to enter the ziggurat before she drew her power around her and immobilized the hundred people nearby with the Force. Concentrating hard enough to keep them stunned, she still drew back the transparisteel shield on her father's casket, kissed his cheek, and posthumously restored him to the title of Sith Lord while Tariun replaced Tak's Sith sword at his side.
The siblings sent their father's casket on its way, but they were approached by an annoyed Alluria, along with the Arkanian Offshoot Reiko Kaytana. While Quinn slowly absorbed the fact that Rin was keeping a hundred people's minds frozen at once, Rin herself almost lost her grip on it when she noticed that Reiko was pregnant. In the conversation that followed, it emerged that Reiko was carrying Tak's sixth and final child, a baby boy whom Tak had asked her to name Nagarian.
Remaining on Nar Shaddaa for a week, Rin and Tariun learned about the last years of their father's life, including how he had repeatedly lied to everyone, telling them all his children had died in order to protect Tariun and Rin from detection. Rin's regret only grew, but she was cheered by the prospect of having a new brother in her life.
Before she could leave, Rin encountered her mother's old friend Jade Star. She had sensed Jade at Tak's funeral, but not spared much attention at the time, fixated on her grief and her father. Sitting down at a café where she could focus completely, though, Rin was shocked to discover that her mother's spirit had latched onto Jade's Force signature, clinging to Jade all these decades. Though almost overwhelmed with joy at the notion of being able to be with her mother again, Rin was not to be happy long: though proud of her daughter and glad to see her again, Ye'keb had come to regret attaching herself to Jade, remaining stuck like a parasite with no ability to dissever herself. She asked Rin to part her soul from Jade's and let her finally have rest. Initially resistant, terrified of becoming the orphan she had already thought herself to be, Rin was finally moved by her mother's gently insistent persuasion that it really was the right thing to do. Steeling herself miserably, Rin hugged her mother goodbye, then used her power to send her mother's spirit into the Force, giving Jade back full control of herself again.
Unwilling to leave her Empire much longer, Rin and Tariun departed, though they vowed to return soon to visit Nagarian. Jade asked to accompany them, and Rin agreed, sensing the other woman's weariness and hoping to finally give her some peace.
Rin set Jade up as a protected citizen in her Empire, then returned to the rebuilding process. Her thoughts, however, were often of Nagarian, and she glanced at his future regularly. Able to sense the boy's birth, she risked a secure communication through the former Ascendancy's relays to the ziggurat to congratulate Reiko and greet her brother. She returned to Nar Shaddaa not long after and was pleasantly surprised to find Jarek Solios, grandson of her cousin Andromeda Keane. Rin was less pleased to find that Andromeda was dying of the Taren Plague on Coruscant, but she promised to rectify the situation in return for Jarek staying at the ziggurat as a bodyguard for Nagarian.
Before she could return home, Rin's Force signature drew the attention of a visiting Jedi Master. But she sensed something familiar, almost ancient in the Jedi's presence, and found to her surprise that the future offered no hint of danger. Leaving the ziggurat to investigate, she found her childhood friend Jextar Cyern-Star, now a Master on the Jedi Council. The old friends returned to the ziggurat to talk, where it emerged that, like Tak and Hayden, Jex had been diverting attention away from Rin's existence, cutting off any activities of the Jedi Council that might have led to her. When she asked why, Rin caught Jex's emotions, left over from childhood and maturing in his secret heart the century they had been apart: far beyond affection, to the point of love. Startled but moved and grateful, Rin kissed him.
Returning to the Empire in great emotional confusion, Rin sent her brother, Chindal, and Breek Zagrev on a stealth mission to Coruscant to rescue Andromeda, which they did with Jex's help. Tariun returned with his cousin, and Rin set to work trying to heal her. Healing had never been her forte, but she had the aid of Tillandra Moraes, a Rebeyr Centurion and Healer. Establishing a telepathic link together, combining Tillandra's knowledge with Rin's raw power, the two women worked over Andromeda for days, eating rarely and resting even less; Rin eventually took to receiving nutrition through an IV. After a grueling effort, Andromeda was healed, but Rin contracted the Taren Plague herself.
Tillandra offered to heal her as well, but Rin refused, knowing that her Centurion was near death from exhaustion. Her half-Qua immune system was up to the task of systematically purging the disease, but she had to sequester herself for nearly a full month, meeting with her ministers by holoconference, allowing no one in to see her but her brother, who refused to accept her “no”. In the time it took her to heal, rumors began to circulate that she was dying, not helped by the fact that Tariun took over much of the active governing during his sister's convalescence. After several weeks, she had finally had enough of the rumors and unease she was sensing even from afar, and began to return to public life before her strength was fully recovered to put the issue to rest. This hurt as much as it helped, but she was on the mend by this point, and gradually the fears of her subordinates subsided.
When Rin was well enough, Tariun gave her something else he had obtained on Coruscant: a painting by an obviously masterful artist. Running her hand over the frame, Rin was suddenly struck by the knowledge of its source, the feeling of deep emotion the artist had put into her work. Though she had no real skill at psychometry, Rin could not fail to notice the touch of her own sister's Force signature in the work. Touched, Rin put Jasmine's painting in her private art gallery aboard the Star.
As she recovered, Rin grew concerned about the Jedi Master Souv Tanake, head of the Jedi outpost on Nar Shaddaa. Distracted by her grief at her father's funeral, Rin knew she had been injudicious about using her Force powers around another Force user. Jade, however, vouched for Souv, leaving Rin conflicted about whether to have the Jedi assassinated or try to bring her over as an ally. She sent Tariun on a reconnaissance mission to Nar Shaddaa to check on their brother and research the Jedi Master.
When Tariun returned, it was with surprising news. Rin had apparently sent him just in time to seduce Souv's apprentice, Odala Van Meer, then help the Jedi rescue Odala after the Desilijic kajidic kidnapped her. Rin trusted the Jedi's gratitude to hold her silence temporarily, but knew she had to act before some compulsion to duty could outweigh thanks. With her brother Nagarian more exposed to danger on Nar Shaddaa than he would be in the Empire, Rin wanted every agency of protection available around him. She also knew that, while Jex could suppress any warnings Souv might offer the Council for a while, eventually she would get around him and then both Rin and Jex himself would be in trouble.
Rin sent Chindal and Jira Seezhli, now one of her Royal Guards, to Souv and Alluria respectively, inviting them to a parley at the Denarii Nova. Using back hyperspace routes and a laborious path around every system, Tariun took the Sith Star and a detachment of the Prime Fleet to escort Rin to the summit. Alluria arrived first, and Rin used the time to pick her ally's brain for anything else useful about Souv Tanake.
The parley was productive. Eschewing her usual habit of speaking in public through a mind-controlled interpreter, Rin met with Tanake, Jex, and Odala face-to-face, unreservedly revealing what she had constructed with her Empire and asking Tanake point-blank to keep secret the knowledge of her existence. Rin also made it perfectly clear that the spread of her government might some day bring her into conflict with the Jedi; she did not ask Souv to fight for her, but did ask the Jedi to stay out of the fight altogether. She gave Souv free run over most of the Star, apart from military command rooms, The Citadel, and operations systems, and commanded her Centurions to answer the Jedi's questions.
At Rin's request, Souv also gave her a free gift: her memories of Rin's brother, Hayden, and her father in the last years of their lives, when Rin had not been able to see them. Holding hands with Tariun to strengthen her ability to share his thoughts, Rin read the Jedi Master's mind and was deeply touched to see her brother's strength and goodness and her father's apparently genuine reform at the end of his life. Souv omitted the details of both their deaths, and while Rin had seen both of these clearly in the Force, she respected the Jedi for the thoughtfulness.
While she was waiting for Souv to make up her mind, Rin spent some more time privately with Jex. He admitted that he loved her, leaving Rin deeply conflicted. They had seen each other only twice since they were children, and loving a Jedi was a very dangerous proposition for someone in her position. On the other hand, she could not deny the strong and ever-deepening connection she felt to him. Desperate for some guidance, Rin broke her long silence and asked Tariun whether he had felt the same way when he first knew he loved Lorelai. Clearly anguished at the reminder, Tariun nonetheless recognized that his sister would not broach such a taboo subject lightly, and searched back on his long-buried emotions until he admitted that he had.
After a few days, Rin perceived the shift in Souv's mind that told her the Jedi had decided in her favor. She greeted Tanake excitedly, and even drew off her veil to thank the Jedi Master face-to-face, shocking the Royal Guards who were with her.
In escorting her guests out, Rin crossed paths with Alluria Quinn and Odala Van Meer, and was struck by a sudden vision of possibility. Odala had failed her Jedi Trials only weeks before the parley, and Rin herself had offered her comfort. Now, seeing the two women together, she saw that a line of destiny could bind them together and make both stronger for it. Though Alluria had been only an Apprentice when Tak Sakaros had died, Rin parted from her by calling her “Lady Quinn”, thus implying that she was a full Sith Lord—and could therefore take an apprentice of her own.
Jex boarded his ship last, leaving Rin his cloak and family crest as a keepsake, so she had something to remember him by. Dismissing her Guards to be alone with the Jedi, she kissed him again, and took the risk to admit that she loved him too.
With the Empire mostly restored to stability and her brother's safety generally assured, Rin began looking to the future, planning the next steps for her government. Her thoughts were often of Nagarian; in her deepest heart, Rin knew that Tariun's life was far more than half spent, and he would die much sooner than her. Unable to envision her government functioning without that absolutely reliable right hand man, Rin began more and more to picture Nagarian rising to the role. Her visions corroborated the theory; nearly every line of possibility she could find put Nagarian in the Empire some day, though choices still had to be made and variables introduced which would affect when and how. Despite her certainty in her brother's destiny, Rin kept her speculations to herself around Reiko Kaytana, knowing the idea of her son's fate already being sealed annoyed the Offshoot.
While trying to envision the future, Rin was also vexed by vague feelings of impending danger. She could sense that something loomed on the horizon for the Empire, and tried to have Tariun and Sorrik prepare the Armada as best they could without knowing what they were preparing it for.
A new problem arose as pirate attacks began to plague the northeastern Empire, just inside the border from the former Chiss Ascendancy. Convoys simply disappeared, with no survivors to account for the mystery. Looking into the future, Rin saw that the next danger would arrive at Lebyool. Knowing no mere pirate convoy could stand against the Armada, Rin dispatched Tariun and a half-dozen warships to deal with the issue, staying behind on the Sith Star to try to pin down her worries about the future.
O brother, where art thou?
What became the Battle of Lebyool was a disaster for the Empire. Expecting to find only a pirate convoy, Tariun and his task force had been overwhelmed by a fleet of Imperial ships, including a pair of Imperial Star Destroyers. Tariun had taken to flight in his Sith Hadrago out before the main enemy ships had arrived, and had been captured by the enemy while his Centurion wingmate, Maliya, was killed. Devastated, Rin bent her power to finding her brother, but she could not get a secure vision of his location or his fate.
The loss of Tariun left the government in no small amount of chaos; while Rin wielded absolute power, she had delegated so many responsibilities to Tariun that his disappearance was almost as bad as hers would have been. The Order of Keltrayu needed a Prefect at all times, and Rin appointed Sorrik to take the spot temporarily. The Umdal general also became Acting Prime Legate, though he confined himself to strategic affairs, leaving internal bureaucracy to the various service High Commands.
Further complicating matters, while Rin was searching the future for one brother, she began to get premonitions about the other, sensing some danger to Nagarian. Unwilling to risk Tariun's life by going personally to Nar Shaddaa, she instead sent Breek Zagrev, Jira Seezhli, Vem, and Khoro`ly`ooho`sh`lyhoo to investigate and protect her brother. Only a week later, though, she received a telepathic distress call from Reiko Kaytana, forced into it by the Royal Guards; Reiko was being intermittently possessed by the spirit of Tulak Hord, and the Centurions wanted Rin's help in relieving the problem.
Rin was torn between her brothers, but she could not ignore Nagarian being in such acute danger. She arrived at Nar Shaddaa just as Breek, Alluria, Jira, and Jarek were being overwhelmed, and dueled the possessed Reiko, eventually overcoming her and driving the Dark Lord's spirit into Chaos. Though drained from the battle, Rin cut open her palms and wrists to use her blood to heal Jarek, Alluria, and Jira, nearly exsanguinating herself in the process.
While healing in the ziggurat's medical bay, Rin experienced a vision of her father. She was unsure whether she had really summoned his spirit from the Netherworld of the Force, if it was just the residual echoes of his personality in his last home, or if the Force had simply chosen his image; the vision itself was cryptic. But through it, Rin discovered the truth of Tariun's predicament: cognizant of his Force powers, his captors were repeatedly moving him through hyperspace so no one could get a definite read on where he was.
Returning to the Empire, Rin began looking ahead, searching not for where her brother was, but where he would be. With that approach, she tracked down the enemy fleet quickly, and Sorrik took the Prime Fleet and fifty more warships to corner them. It turned out that the fleet had previously belonged to Vegal Ein, a Sith Lord who had been slain by none other than Tak Sakaros and Souv Tanake. Bereft of leadership, the fleet had taken to aimless pillaging, and had captured Tariun hoping he could become their new overlord. Rin strangled the fleet's commander to death and had Vem maul the gunnery officer who had killed Maliya, but she accepted the surrender of the rest of the fleet. Sorrik took over absorbing the enemy ships into the Armada, while Chindal oversaw the un-brainwashing of those crewers who had served closest to Vegal.
Rin sent Tariun to recover on Nar Shaddaa, but had to summon him back quickly when her vague premonitions finally took shape and the Chiss region of the Empire was attacked by the Vagaari. Taking advantage of the Chiss Expansionary Defense Force's rerouting, the Vagaari had taken slaves from several outlying systems nominally under Chiss control, then attacked Tenupe and killed its Centurion Consul, Tesshen Manytrek. Rin was angry enough at being attacked, but the murder of a valued servant and the concept of her people being in slavery were beyond bearing. She tasked Tariun and Sorrik with eradicating the threat and completely subjugating the Vagaari.
Tenupe was quickly retaken, but the Vagaari Empire was vast and its fleet highly mobile. Consulting with former CEDF officers who had joined the Royal Armada, Rin used her visions to track Vagaari targets and her Battle Meditation to break the will of the enemy when they met. However, like the Chiss themselves, the Vagaari had spent much of the last century absorbing pieces of what had once been the Empire of the Hand, and their resources were sufficient to continue launching strikes throughout the northeastern Empire. Tariun was forced to split his fleet into multiple fronts to grapple with the various raids while still trying to pin down the main enemy force with the Prime Fleet. He also drew most of the Armada into the former Ascendancy to help the fight and cut off all points of attack.
Divide and conquer
Only a few months into the Vagaari War, the Empire was attacked from the south as well, with several systems falling in quick succession. With the majority of the Armada fighting the Vagaari, the defenses in the rest of the Empire were not up to repulsing a concerted attack. Rin was conflicted, needing to help her people but afraid to leave Tariun alone against the Vagaari without her Battle Meditation to aid him. The outcry from her undefended people was too much to bear, though, and the Empire's strategists finally sent Sorrik, Breek Zagrev, Vem, and more than half the Armada south. Rin accompanied them, trusting in Tariun's strategic genius and knowing that her Battle Meditation was more important against an unknown quantity. However, she left Jira Seezhli with Tariun, sensing the young Kasci was a shatterpoint for the Empire's victory, though Rin could not understand why.
Taking the Rampart as his flagship, Sorrik led his detachment of the Armada south in time to take part in the Battle of Zorabos, where the Royal fleet drove off the invaders. Their battle droids were unlike anything even Rin had ever heard of. Worse, Rin felt a distinct disturbance in the Force during the battle, pain and fear associated with the enemy losses which should not have accompanied the destruction of droids.
The unknown enemy was taking prisoners from the worlds it hit, which naturally led Rin to believe they were more slavers, and order her forces to slaughter them accordingly. When the Armada finally captured some of the enemy, though, Rin was horrified at the results of the interrogations. They were Ssi-ruuk, trying to both expand their empire and flee from their original territories, which had been taken from them by their revolting former slaves, the P'w'eck. Worse, without a supply of P'w'ecks, the Ssi-ruuk were enteching the captives from the Golden Empire instead.
Rin threw her fury into Battle Meditation, ordering Sorrik to butcher the Ssi-ruuk wherever he could find them. However, like the Vagaari, the Ssi-ruuk were striking from outside the Empire, requiring the Armada to extend beyond its borders to pursue them.
Bad to worse
With the Empire pulled apart by wars on both ends, militant forces in the Chiss Ascendancy rebelled. Far south of the problem, Rin could do nothing but trust Tariun to address the situation. The Ssi-ruuk were giving her more than enough problems.
Like Tariun, Sorrik had been forced to divide his fleet, sending out detachments with Breek Zagrev and Vem as Legates. Throughout the three campaigns consuming the Empire, Rin could feel her Centurions and soldiers dying. In the horrific Battle of Shest Minor, Breek lost seven Centurions in a single invasion.
Worse still, when Tariun sent Jira to check on Nagarian for his second birthday, she found that a detachment of One Sith were plaguing the Merquise Syndicate, and took the young prince back to the Empire for safekeeping. What little time Rin did not spend in strategizing with Sorrik she was usually worrying about Nagarian. She ordered the boy kept on the Sith Star with Tariun, considering it safer than any world in the Empire, even with Tariun regularly leading his forces into battle.
Though the death toll was catastrophic, the Battle of Shest Minor was a turning point for the Ssi-ruuvi Incursion. Ssi-ruuvi casualties were bad enough, but the engagement also demonstrated the ferocity with which the Empire was willing to fight its enemies. Shortly thereafter, Rin and Sorrik encountered the P'w'ecks in pursuit of the Ssi-ruuvi. Extracting their language, Rin found she could not physically speak it, so she implanted Basic into their brains instead, allowing each to communicate with the other. Rin met personally with Kweerikirr, Crees'tuf of the P'w'eck Confederation, and formed an alliance against the Ssi-ruuk.
Though the Chiss Rebellion initially seemed likely to break the Empire's hold on the former Ascendancy, it collapsed internally even as Tariun struggled to spare sufficient forces to beat down the insurrection. The Chiss had been divided on the issue; only roughly a third supported the rebellion actively. While another half of the species wanted to be free from the Empire, they felt that it was the worst time for such a move, with the Armada actively engaged in protecting them from the Vagaari. The remainder openly supported membership in the Empire. Lack of a strong internal base, coupled with CEDF reinforcements from the Redoubt being severely damaged in a three-way battle at Schesa, broke the spine of the rebellion in mid-142 ABY.
The allied Royal/P'w'eck forces drove the Ssi-ruuk into retreat far beyond the Empire's southern border. The P'w'ecks vowed to continue hounding their former oppressors and confirmed a treaty of alliance with the Empire, the first such document in Royal history. Each side vowed to keep the other's existence a secret. With the southern front secure, Rin left some of her Armada to assist in the rebuilding efforts, but took the rest back to aid Tariun against the Vagaari.
Tariun had managed to stymie Vagaari attempts to penetrate deeply into the Empire, mostly due to the aid of Jira Seezhli, who had discovered to everyone's shock that she, too, had Battle Meditation abilities, though not as powerful as Rin's. Despite this advantage, the Empire was slowly losing ground outside its borders. When Rin and Sorrik returned with their fleet, however, Tariun pushed into Vagaari space with renewed fury, throwing the entire Armada into the campaign. With Jira able to Battle Meditate, Rin could spare more time envisioning where to strike and helping to plan grand strategy.
The goal had become simple. Rin's hatred of slavery was absolute, and the idea of her own people being enslaved was no less reprehensible now than it had been when Red Eclipse existed. She declared that the Vagaari were to be utterly obliterated, the entire species made extinct and anyone who supported them exterminated as accessories. With no attempt at capture or taking solely-Vagaari worlds intact, the Armada swept into the Vagaari Empire like a genocidal tidal wave. Several species which had fallen under the rule of the Vagaari were only too eager to join Rin's government and punish their oppressors, providing increasingly more information about the extent of Vagaari territory. The campaign also appealed to some younger Chiss officers who held doubts about the former Ascendancy's age-old policy of purely defensive warfare; Rin's campaign brought them more solidly into her fold.
With no objective but obliteration, the Armada was able to devastate Vagaari holdings, breaking the already-nomadic Vagaari Empire into fragments. Tariun, Sorrik, and their subordinates were able to hound out each piece in turn, and by early 143 ABY there were no known Vagaari left in the galaxy.
The brief peace
Rebuilding and reorganizing
The devastation of what became known as “The Tribulation”—referencing the three wars which had consumed the Empire for over two years—would take years to rebuild, and Rin set her government to work on it immediately. Of great concern was asserting actual control over all the territory the Empire covered. Even the Chiss Ascendancy, while technically consisting only of Csilla and the twenty-eight Chiss colonies, covered an area with tens of thousands of star systems, thousands of them habitable or even inhabited. Rin declared that the new policy of her government was to have actual, on-the-ground control over all the area it held before attempting to spread farther.
During the war, to allow him to focus solely on fighting the Vagaari, Rin had relieved Tariun of his duties as Prefect of the Order of Keltrayu, passing them to Eskol Kaartinen. After the war, she asked him to step down as Prime Legate as well, appoitining Sorrik to the post. Tariun had expected this, and did not object; he had also, however, expected to be reinstated as Prefect, and was angry when Rin denied him that. She, in turn, stated that it was the penalty for getting Maliya killed at the Battle of Lebyool; Rin considered herself merciful, as a Centurion who had gotten a sibling killed through negligence or carelessness would normally have been executed. Tariun, however, interpreted it as a lack of trust.
Before the war, Tariun and Rin had discussed the idea of building a new flagship to replace the Sith Star as the foremost warfighting craft of the Empire. While the Star was large and well-armed, the entire government and the Order of Keltrayu were headquartered aboard; the loss of the ship would decapitate every agency of the government simultaneously. After the Vagaari War, the need for another ship to assume military command duties became even more pressing. Consulting with Sorrik, a disgruntled Tariun, and various Royal Starfleet and Royal Army officers, Rin entertained days of debate about what kind of craft to build before the majority sold her on an Imperial Super Star Destroyer. Since neither Rin nor the Chiss had the schematics for one, and the only repository within the reach of her allies with a copy was the Imperial Information Center on Coruscant, Rin set off for Nar Shaddaa with several of her Centurions to see her brother and to speak to her love, Jextar Star, about “obtaining” the plans.
Before she left, Rin had an unpleasant task to assign. Thirteen Centurions had deserted the Order of Keltrayu during the war, abandoning their duties without leave from Rin. Such an act was tantamount to treason, and thus punishable by an automatic death sentence. Rin tasked Vem and Rajj-Yo with hunting down and executing the thirteen traitors, though she took Rajj-Yo with her to Nar Shaddaa first.
On Nar Shaddaa, Rin found that Odala was pregnant, but had been cut off from the Force by the Dark Jedi Naiya. Though Naiya had since died at Jarek's blade, Odala remained unable to access her powers, and consequently to connect with her daughter in utero. Remembering her own close bond with her mother, Rin offered to remedy Odala's condition. She set them both up in a disused storage room in the ziggurat's basement with IV feeds of fluids and nutrients, and placed Odala in a healing trance, quickly following suit herself. To prevent her Centurions from obsessing over her, she ordered that only Jira was allowed access.
Over the following three days, Rin nearly died in the process of helping Odala. She had first to get baby Azalyn accustomed to the touch of her own mind; having developed without her mother's Force signature around her, Azalyn was unused to sensing anyone else omnipresent. She initially experienced substantial discomfort with Rin's constant telepathic presence, requiring Rin to draw back as needed. After Azalyn fell asleep and awoke to find Rin still there, however, she accepted the attachment more. By the end of a day, she had come to accept Rin's presence as a natural, comforting thing.
Drawing Odala back into the Force was not difficult for Rin, as she understood the mechanics well from having severed both her father and Vessyk the same way. However, once restored to the Force, Odala's unconscious mind began struggling to acquaint itself with Azalyn as soon as possible. Knowing that the sudden onrush of strong emotions would be enough to cause an instant miscarriage, Rin forcibly held down Odala's mind while trying to slowly introduce her to Azalyn.
Azalyn resisted for a long time; she had accepted the idea of a nurturing, protecting presence around her, but she did not understand why Rin could not be that person. Over two days, Rin painstakingly introduced one mind to the other, pushing Odala back when her love and concern became too much for Azalyn. By the end of the third day of meditation, Rin had finally gotten Azalyn comfortable with the idea of Odala as her mother, and carefully drawn herself back. Azalyn was unhappy to feel her go, but secure in Odala's love.
Rin awoke dazed and disoriented, and accidentally knocked Jira out when the Kasci tried to attend her before collapsing. She was deposited in a bed in the ziggurat's VIP quarters to rest, and even she did not suspect the lifelong bond she had just forged.
Rin rested for a few days before feeling like herself again, and was touched to find her Centurions protectively surrounding her; Tarzg had gone without sleep the entire time she had been convalescent. Rin had briefly met her new cousin Octavia Solios, but wished to see the girl again, as well as meeting Azalyn, who had been born prematurely only hours after Rin and Odala had awoken from their trances.
Rin emerged from her room in time to see Jarek, Alluria, and Reiko allowing Nagarian to see Octavia for the first time. The instant before the baby gripped Nagarian's finger, Rin was seized by the most terrifying vision she had ever experienced. The future suddenly altered, numerous possibilities racing before her mind's eye too quickly for her to follow. She could see Octavia and Nagarian in several dangerous situations, sometimes with friends and sometimes alone. There were possible futures of the two marrying and of Nagarian, alone, at Rin's side. But most frightening of all were images of the two dueling, clearly fighting to kill, and Rin could see both possible ends, each struck down by the other.
The tremor in the Force that accompanied Rin's fear did not go unnoticed by her companions, but she fled from them before they could ask her any questions, having the Poren twins delay Jex when he tried to follow her. Remaining in seclusion for days, she tried to narrow down the futures she had seen, but she was unable to intuit anything more than she had already seen. When the three concerned parents confronted her, Rin refused to share her visions, warning them cryptically that attempting to prevent a vision of the future could actually bring it to pass.
Before she left Nar Shaddaa, Rin met with Jex again and persuaded him to break into the Imperial Information Center on Coruscant and steal a copy of the Super Star Destroyer schematics. She arranged for Jarek to act as her go-between, receiving the plans from Jex, then returned to the Empire. The exchange succeed shortly after, and one of Rin's Centurions retrieved the plans.
Tariun had been grudgingly organizing the necessary resources in a hidden, deep-space construction center, and with the plans in hand he went off to supervise the actual construction, taking only his Royal Guards Ghess and Sovi Evnairis. Though maintaining outward composure, Rin was concerned over her brother's obvious melancholy. She knew he had been fighting with Breek—both verbally and physically—but she felt uneasy expressing her concerns to him directly, expecting he would simply grow angrier with her. But she contacted him at the project site more than was necessary given its pace, trying to keep an eye on him from a distance.
In 144 ABY, Wyro Zaffrod came to Rin to request permission to marry Jira. Rin not only agreed, but gave him the diamond of Iomis from her royal crown to place in the engagement clasp he had bought for her. Though she outwardly declined Jira's invitation to the wedding (to prevent the intimate ceremony from becoming the media circus that followed her presence), Rin snuck out with Tarzg and Luna Raquelsei to surprise Jira. Breek was at the wedding as Jira's maid of honor and Tariun was giving her away, and Rin sensed the conflict between them. She was also alarmed at the internal weakness she felt in her brother's body.
It was not long after when Rin felt a painful disturbance in the Force, knowing her brother's life was in danger. She contacted the hidden shipyard and was aghast to find only an apologetic Ghess, who explained that Tariun had left the Empire. Though she was sure he had not actually died, Rin alternated between nagging worry for his health and irritation at his defiance.
When Tariun finally appeared at the Sith Star, an irate Rin was rendered speechless by the monumental change she sensed in him. Tariun explained that he had had a heart attack on Nar Shaddaa, but was saved when Sovi used her natural Soju electric charge to reset his heart rhythm. He had gone to see Breek aboard the Valkyrie to patch up their relationship, and the two had decided to try being together. He also apologized for his coldness to Rin, and she forgave him, explaining that she had not banished him to the project site, but sent him there because she knew he could be trusted.
Still trying to see Nagarian's future, Rin managed to obtain a vision of her brother becoming sick and dying in the Empire as a young adult, choking on his own blood. Realizing his half-Offshoot heritage had compromised the immune system of his Sith side, Rin took him the Empire's standard course of vaccines. She knew that the vaccine carried a risk of killing Nagarian by itself, but felt it was better for him to die swiftly of a fever than agonizingly of something else. She took along Tillandra Moraes, ostensibly to help administer the vaccines but actually to heal Nagarian if he became sick.
Rin did not tell Reiko of the risks of the vaccine, and she and Nagarian became sick, along with Hapan Alluria. The women recovered gradually, but Nagarian languished on the border between life and death for days. Rin and Tillandra were struggling to save him when Rin made the painful choice to bring Octavia to her brother; she did not want to make them closer, but risking her brother's death was too painful. Octavia's instinctively insistent presence pulled Nagarian's mind back to fighting, and his fever broke.
Though Rin knew she had successfully inoculated her brother against a number of diseases he would some day face in the Empire, Reiko was furious at the deception. Rin was actively avoiding her when she encountered Rayne Turgachia. To her shock, Rin discovered that Rayne was the granddaughter of her sister Jasmine, who was present on Nar Shaddaa as well. Sensing Rayne's loyalty to her family, Rin revealed herself for who she was, though she kept the details about the Empire to herself. She promised to see Rayne again in the future, sensing it would be so.
Knowing her sister was not a fighter, Rin asked Jarek to watch over her. As her cousin, she trusted only him with the secret of who Jasmine really was. Jarek, who felt he should have been tending to his still-convalescent wife, asked a favor in turn: a sister for a sister. Rin agreed to organize a party to search for Axelia Solios in and around her territory, while Jarek and some of the Syndicate's fighters quietly eliminated some pickpockets and thugs targeting Rayne and Jasmine. Rin left Tarzg behind to make sure Rayne and Jasmine reached their home on Chandrila safely.
When a group of One Sith began harassing the Syndicate family, Rin opted not to go herself, instead sending Vem, Rajj-Yo, and Aria. She was aghast when Vem came back with a crippled left leg, having broken and degloved it during a fight. Vem refused a cybernetic replacement even though the injury compromised his lightsaber skills.
With Rin's consent, Tariun proposed to Breek in 145 ABY, and they set their wedding for the end of the year. Rin directed the Empire to finance part of the ceremony, which would take place on Breek's homeworld of Sanduluc. She extended invitations to Nagarian and his “extended family”, and Reiko grudgingly agreed to go despite her lingering animosity toward Rin.
Not long after the engagement, Rin sensed Rayne was in danger. Breek was in the same area trying to root out Blazing Chain, and Rin had her detour to rescue Rayne, telling her the truth about the girl's identity. Rin gave Rayne refuge aboard the Sith Star, disguising her distinctive green-and-silver eyes with contacts, but Te`net Organi quickly figured out her identity anyway. The Qua argued with his queen, who was somewhere between amused and annoyed, finally dryly apologizing for keeping him in the dark.
Rin assigned Te`net to serve as head of Nagarian's guard during the wedding. She rode in the procession from the wedding pavilion to the reception, but not before directing Zahyr to assassinate a group of assassins who she had sensed were targeting Breek.
When they returned from their honeymoon, Tariun and Breek brought Rin a gift: a pair of tuk'ata. Naming them Nightmare and Nocturne, Rin kept them as pets. They often sat beside her throne aboard the Sith Star, growling at people who came before Rin, and slept in her personal chambers at night.
Rin sent Rayne back to Chandrila with Te`net as a bodyguard. She had offered her niece a place in the Order of Keltrayu, but Rayne hoped to bring her family to the Empire. Rin sent Te`net because he was strong enough to protect Rayne's family, as well as being a Qua, which Rin hoped would resonate with Jasmine.
In the end, Jasmine, her daughter Katie, and Katie's three daughters Rayne, Sovi, and Taia came to the Empire. The reunion between Jasmine and Rin was slightly awkward for both, but the obviousness of Rin's love for her sister eased Jasmine's reluctance. Rin provided her family with an estate on Tyras and a guard of Massassi warriors, although Jasmine refused to have Centurion bodyguards.
Te`net came back too, bringing the vital discovery that Rayne had the gift of Force healing. Immediately after Rayne became a Novice in 146 ABY, Rin had her begin working with Tillandra to develop her talent.
Shortly after her induction into the Order, Rayne began work designing a new crown for Rin to replace the tri-pointed crown she had worn since the early days of the Empire. Kasci and Ky`Knomi artisans brought the design to life, coloring the metal like fire and shaping it in a Phoenix motif.
Later the same year, Rin was contacted by her former Guard Noelle, currently ruling as Consul of Sposia. Noelle had apprehended Shaydow Tynblade and Kyriel Windrunner breaking into the Planetary Archives. Shaydow, Jade Star's grandson, was brought to Rin and offered her his service and submission in exchange for her protection of his homeworld, Rykar. Rin agreed to accept Rykar into the Empire and sent Shaydow there along with Noelle, transferring Noelle's Consulship to the new world.
Shaydow offered Rin Kyriel's service too, and Rin could sense the young Drakonus had Force potential not much weaker than her own, equal even to Selkee. While Rin was considering what to do with the situation, Jade met Kyriel and the two forged a bond. Jade asked permission to train Kyriel as her apprentice, rather than leaving the girl to become a Novice. Though most Force-sensitives in the Empire were trained in the Order, Rin sensed destiny connected Jade and Kyriel and agreed to the situation.
Taking her pledge to Jarek seriously, Rin had sent Vem and Khoro to find Axelia, giving them a task force of capital ships and authority to roam any of her territory, following their instincts. They eventually located Axelia's crashed ship on Kachee and traced the Knight's signature in the Force to a castle. They were attacked by its Dark Jedi master, however, and Khoro was killed in the exchange.
Rin was furious, and considered going personally to Kachee to kill the Dark Jedi. Tariun talked her out of it, telling her the Centurions would never know their capabilities if she always took the hardest fights on herself. Rin sent Vem and Aria back to rescue Axelia, and added Te`net to the crew with explicit instructions to kill the Dark Jedi.
Both parts of the mission succeeded, and Axelia was escorted to the Sith Star along with fellow Knight Tarash Grainer. Both agreed to remain in the Empire; when informed of all the changes that had transpired in their thirteen-year absence from the known galaxy, neither felt any particular loyalty to Marasiah Fel or the Galactic Federation Triumvirate. But where Grainer simply retired to be a private citizen, Axelia asked to become a Centurion, becoming the second person to do so.
Anything I want?! I WANT MY BROTHER BACK!
—Rin Sakaros, just before killing Darth Nihl
Later in 147 ABY, Odala allowed Azalyn to go the Empire to become a Novice. Rin was intrigued by Azalyn's already-noticeable gift for visions, and that, along with her deep bond with the child, led her to play a role in Azalyn's early instruction.
In 148 ABY, Alluria and Odala were captured by Darth Havok and Saarai. Sensing the situation, Rin went to rescue them, taking Tarzg, Vem, Rajj-Yo, Axelia, and Aria. On a last-minute inspiration from the Force, she also added Selkee to the roster, although the Chiss was still a Novice. When Rin arrived at her family's new home on Belsavis, she searched the Force for days before finally deducing the Sith were on Dromund Kaas.
As they drew near to the Dark Force Temple, Rin sensed the presence of Darth Nihl. Dispersing her Centurions along with Jarek and Reiko, to whom she entrusted Selkee, Rin went directly to the center of the fortress to challenge the Nagai. They fought a duel through the central courtyard until Rin forced Nihl to submit. The Nagai, sensing he could not defeat her, tried to persuade her to unite their forces instead, offering Rin anything she wanted. Consumed with agonizing memories of Hayden stretching all the way back to when she was a child, Rin screamed and grabbed the Nagai by the face, flooding him with Force lightning. By the time her blind rage subsided, she was kneeling in the rain with burned palms and the charred skull of Darth Nihl in her hands.
Azalyn came to Belsavis to be with her family as they buried Odala, and Rin begged her forgiveness, although Azalyn did not blame Rin. Selkee had single-handedly defeated Saarai, and Rin authorized her to take the Centurion's examination when they returned to the Empire.
The Nightmare War
In 149 ABY, Rin received a message from Dolomir's Consul. She was aghast at the images it showed—Dolomir had been invaded and sacked by an insectoid army led by Dark Jedi. She sent Aria Nikina, Selkee, Jade, and Zahyr to on a Mission to Dolomir to investigate, and the group barely escaped Sacco Vyrak. Intuiting an assassination attempt on Jira, Wyro, and their daughter Terra, Rin telepathically called to Zahyr to intervene, though she also sent Luna and ten other Centurions. Jira and her family were saved, but a murderously enraged Rin commanded Sorrik to prepare the Armada for war.
Rin successfully predicted the enemy attacks on Daispin and Rykar, and the worlds were defended. After Aria killed Sacco Vyrak in a duel on Daispin, the enemy cloned him, creating the Vyrak Legions. Rin allowed her Centurions and military forces to deal with the enemy until the Battle of Harth Gool, when Tariun shelled a town of innocent Heshoos from orbit to prevent the Anzat clones there from escaping into the planet at large. Though Rin agreed with his military logic, her anger at the necessity of the Heshoo deaths drove her to take a personal role in the war.
Rin ordered Selkee to Kavez Massass with a copy of The Creation of Monsters, ordering her to read it and find the long-buried Vengeance. Rin sent Tariun, Luna, and Sovi to Korriban to round up some tuk'ata while dispatching Jade, Kyriel, and Vem to Myrkr to collect vornskrs. Rin went personally to Belsavis, seeking out The Tomb and the rumored terentateks inside. She succeeded in killing one of the beasts, her half-Qua blood preserving her from its venom, and dragged it back to her ship. On the way back to the Empire, she also stopped at Anzat and abducted two of the native Anzati whom she baited into stalking her.
Taking her collected “specimens” to Kavez Massass, Rin found Selkee and outlined her plan: they would create Sithspawn to counter the Vyrak Legions and the shadowy Veracht. Alternating between meditation in Rin's temple and experimentation inside the Vengeance, the two created the Anzat hounds and the Shadow Massassi. Rin could feel the intense strain the project caused on Selkee, but pushed ahead because she felt she needed Selkee's help and the ability to save her people was too important for going slowly.
A month later, Rin and a deeply scarred Selkee returned to the Prime Fleet with the Vengeance. Rin put Tariun in charge of the assignment and dispersal of the Sithspawn. She had an argument with Jade Star, who found Rin's willingness to destroy the Anzat hounds after the war appallingly similar to the calculating indifference of the Arkanians. However, both species of mutations proved useful when they debuted at the Battle of Keliso.
The destroyer of worlds
The enemy, having tortured Nairasho to death on Awpierh, had broken into her mind and found Rin's connection with the Qua. They launched an attack on Quadia, and though Tirj and most of the invading Skavik and Anzat clones were killed in the fight, the strike team succeeded in obtaining a sample of the Sickness. Desha Marad weaponized the disease, and the Dark Jedi force succeeded in infecting Te`net Organi. When he returned to the Sith Star for treatment, he accidentally infected Rayne as well.
Fearful for them when she was informed what had happened, Rin went to the Citadel to aid Tillandra in healing them, shrugging off objections from Tarzg and Jade that she was endangering her own life. When she made it clear she was going into the medbay, however, Tarzg placed himself in front of the door, refusing to move. Jade joined him a moment later. As Rin angrily ordered them aside, Tarzg floored her by saying that if she threw her life away by endangering it needlessly, then “Keltrayu died for nothing”.
Tariun arrived and persuaded Rin that they were right, and Rin pardoned Jade and Tarzg for their defiance, knowing it was born out of love. However, she had Elrabin Ralvik use his psychometric abilities on the severed head of Karshi Saan. Reading his mind even as he saw the Dark Jedi's past, Rin drew out the constellations she had seen in his mind and commanded Royal Intelligence to piece them together to find the planet's location.
When they discovered Kizav, Rin took her fleet there. She had no interest in invasion, but rather sought to end the war decisively. Retreating to an isolated meditation chamber, she used her Sith abilities to rip apart Kizav's primary. The resulting supernova vaporized every planet in the system, killing billions of Skavik, millions of Veracht, and Desha Marad.
Knowing not all the enemy had been slain, Rin and Tariun set a trap for them, baiting them into the Battle of Dolomir. Rin and Jira used Battle Meditation together, and Rin could sense Ador Hentral using his own abilities to drive the Skavik on and ignore her attempts to sap their morale. When the Sith Star was boarded, Rin remained in meditation, though she allowed Jira to leave with Tariun and defend the Citadel. After the Dark Jedi were killed and the Skavik attempted to surrender, Rin authorized Sorrik to accept.
Rebuilding and reformation
Prisoners of war
The Veracht were hunted down and exterminated (although, since they refused to surrender anyway, Rin did not count it as a fifth speciecide). However, millions of Skavik were taken prisoner. Suggestions poured in immediately from Consuls about what to do with them, ranging from a complete pardon to the summary execution of every living Skavik. Among new Consular appointments was Rensi Shal-Shatir, a Doloy who became Consul of Dolomir, and who immediately pressed for the extermination of the species which had destroyed his homeworld.
To delay the issue, Rin set the Skavik to rebuilding the worlds they had devastated. Objections continued to come from the Empire; some felt using the Skavik in this manner was tantamount to slavery, while others felt showing any mercy at all was a sign of weakness. Rin announced that the reconstruction of the half dozen worlds was a term of surrender for the Skavik, who were still technically considered prisoners of war; as Sovereign, she alone had authority to declare when a war was over, and could therefore dodge the issue of slavery temporarily.
Having lost her husband Tekk in the Battle of the Sith Star, Jade Star was devastated. She sealed herself in isolation except for Tekk's funeral, and shortly thereafter snuck away from the Star entirely. Many Centurions were outraged at the apparent defection, but Rin bore Jade no ill will, understanding the loss Jade had endured and confident her friend would find her way back in time.
Kyriel, however, was a more pressing issue. Without her master, her training came to a standstill, and Rin was uncomfortable leaving such a powerful Force user without guidance. After some consideration, she sent Kyriel to Baes, where she had just installed Breek Zagrev as Consul. Kyriel became Breek's de facto apprentice.
At the end of 149, Rin appointed the Chiss Vos'elk'eetash to her Royal Guard. Since the creation of the Anzat hounds and the Shadow Massassi, Selkee had become cold and withdrawn, brooding internally and lashing out at others. Sensing the young woman was balancing on the edge of a knife between two different courses, Rin called her out on her repressed emotions. Baited to breaking her calm, Selkee expressed her feelings of loathing for both Rin and herself; in warping nature and torturing prisoners to create the Sithspawn, she had discovered just how truly far she would go, and the knowledge frightened her.
Somewhat hollowed by the outpouring of pent-up grief, Selkee allowed Rin to teach her the basics of Sith technique, learning cold, calm detachment from her emotions. Rin took Selkee as a de facto apprentice of her own, helping Selkee accept and channel her emotions rather than constantly repressing them and becoming a danger to herself and others. To aid the process, Rin finally conceded to teach Selkee Juyo as well. The style perfectly suited the Chiss's nature—a calm, cool exterior covering a barely controlled emotional supernova. Though she had some lingering resentment at first, Selkee gradually became closer to Rin as her skills improved and her self-knowledge expanded.
The 65 Reforms
In the process of trying to rebuild the Empire and expand, Rin became increasingly burdened by the manifold responsibilities of her office. Tariun, the Grand Council, Tarzg, and many of her other advisors stated repeatedly that they felt the Empire had become too unwieldy for the current model of central government. Though she was loath to further delegate her authority, Rin was finally persuaded that she was doing her people a disservice by centralizing too much power.
At the Consular Assembly of 150 ABY, Rin proposed what became known as the 65 Reforms. They were numerous and multifaceted, but the centerpiece was a plan to add sector-level government between the Sovereign and the Consuls. Under the new plan, the Sovereign would appoint Procurators (essentially Consuls of sectors), who would in turn appoint Consuls. The Procurators would be assisted and checked by Advocates, elected at the sector level to perform the work of Tribunes.
The plan initially met fierce resistance, as both citizens and Consuls were uneasy with planetary Consuls reporting to anyone but the Sovereign, let alone being appointed by anyone but the Sovereign. Rin had her agents undertake a major campaign of public education and propaganda to demonstrate the benefits of the new system, including quicker response to local concerns and a rapid military response to threats under the Sector Magister plan. Over the following year, the majority of the Empire was brought to endorse the plan, and Rin declared it law at the 151 ABY Assembly, with plans to elect the first Advocates and appoint the first Procurators by the beginning of the new year.
As she grappled with governmental reform, Rin also worked to manage the concerns of many of her servants. In 151 ABY, Shaydow and his wife, Gem Reytal, gave birth to twins, Tenebrous and Draze. Shaydow had promised his firstborn to the Order, and Rin went to Rykar to see them in person. She had a bad feeling about the boys on the Sith Star, but actually in their presence, she could follow the lines of their destinies much more clearly and see the horror in store for them. Working out potential interventions, following shatterpoints down to the present and into the future, she was finally able to determine the best time to take Tenebrous as a Novice. She allowed Selkee to share her vision, fearing that, if she sensed it alone, Selkee would not be able to control her reaction. The Chiss was devastated and horror-struck, but Rin persuaded her to see that there was no other way, and Selkee finally came to bitterly accept that reality and vowed to keep the secret.
Only months after the visit to Rykar, Rin had to contend with an unexpected romantic entanglement between her niece, Rayne, and Te`net Organi. The two had kissed while Te`net was mourning the death of his friend Ephir Raltharan, and had been awkward and uncomfortable with each other since. Rin reminded Rayne that Centurions and Novices could not fraternize in that way, but offered no other criticism of her niece, trusting both their discretion in the future.
Rin, her three siblings, and much of her court attended Jira's concert at the Samayus Palace of Opera in 153 ABY. Rin received a unique concession from the Palace's Director, who granted her the unheard-of right to record the performance. Though it was not a command, her request persuaded him: "I have the blessing and the curse of longevity. Jira is like a daughter to me, and though I have the gift of knowing her whole life, I will some day have to bear the burden of life without her. I ask this gift of you, so that I can hear her voice when she isn't here to sing for me anymore."
Aria Nikina requested leave from Rin, concerned over her anger and slipping control on her Force Rage. Rin granted the request, but when Syr'ei reported that Aria had vanished on Daispin, she sent Vem, the Porén twins, and Kelto Nembask to investigate with Royal Commandos and a Special Environment Division to assist. A week later, Vem reported that Syr'ei had tried to poison Aria, but Aria had killed her and assumed the Consulship of Daispin. Rin left Aria there to help her planet recover, and left Malyri and Kylaea with her to ensure there were no more attempts on Aria's life.
Not long after, Kyriel Windrunner was kidnapped and tortured by Impari terrorists before escaping to Baes. Taking the entire Prime Fleet to Baes, Rin received the story from Breek and Kyriel, and in the process discovered the depth of the master-apprentice bond between the two women. Injecting Kyriel with her own rejuvenating blood to ensure that the Drakonus healed and her wings regrew, Rin ordered Sorrik and Keny'ata'thrian to find the Impari and punish those responsible. They and the Royal Corps of Gendarmes worked out a method for detecting Impari shapeshifting, and Intelligence eventually located Vor'Dal. Rin brought the shapeshifters into the fold, and the few who had been responsible for the attacks were exterminated. In the process of hunting the Impari down, Rin had realized they were the same species as Kylar Tanake, and pondered how to share the news with Reiko and her adopted son.
Past and future
The long mission
For some time, Rin was troubled by visions of the Killiks. Though she had never encountered them personally, the Chiss on her staff did nothing to alleviate her concerns, speaking often and scathingly of the insectoid aliens. As time went on, Rin finally authorized Royal Intelligence to pursue the matter. They returned the troubling report that probes had indeed seen evidence of a massing Killik war machine. Though she began plotting in 153, it was only in 154 ABY that Rin finally acted.
Realizing that a war with the Killiks would result in massive casualties for an Armada already stretched thin protecting the Empire's borders and absorbing all the systems they only technically controlled, Rin resorted instead to diplomacy and subterfuge. She commissioned Te`net Organi, Eskol Kaartinen, and Chindal to parley with the Killks and bring them into the fold. She also solicited volunteers from the Massassi cohorts to go with them, eventually assembling a cohort of 10,000 warriors, as well as diplomatic staff. But she warned them all that they might very well die; the diplomatic group was small (if committed), but so many Massassi volunteered that Sorrik had to weed some out.
Rin spoke to her three Centurions in private. She had an academic familiarity with Killik Joining, and explained the danger in detail to all three. To a man, they volunteered to go anyway, but Rin knew that Te`net suspected he was being sent for more than his combat prowess and diplomatic experience; alone among them all, he would be immune to Joining, his Qua physiology able to repair his brain faster than Killik pheremones could modify it.
Rin knew the plan could take years, and so with Kaartinen gone so long, the Order would require a new Prefect. The two conferred and both agreed that Aria Nikina was the best choice. She accepted the post, and Vem took over as Consul of Daispin.
After the Battle of Renthiv, when Jinyx Windrunner began experiencing nightmares and troublesome visions, Rin sat her down for a meditative session to help track the source of the Drakonus's discomfort. She managed to telepathically force Jinyx's memories back to her youth and her brother Kaibur's execution, but Jinyx's latent power fought back on reflex, turning Rin's telepathy back on her and exposing Jinyx to Rin's own worst memory—Keltrayu's death at Tizgo V. Both women were greatly affected by the experience, though Rin tried to be comforting to Jinyx in the following days.
Meanwhile, Rayne had continued Eskol Kaartinen's plan of serving as a "living holocron", viewing others' memories telepathically to record them in her eidetic memory. She persuaded Rin to share some of her memories of Keltrayu, but when Rin had to endure his death on Tizgo V yet again, so recently after the last instance, she threw her niece out of her throne room and didn't speak to her for weeks.
Friends in danger
Tariun Sakaros: What, Rin? What did you see?In late 156 ABY, Rin took some of her closest Centurions and her brother Tariun to Belsavis to see Nagarian. She left Breek in command of the Empire in her absence, the first time in seventeen years anyone other than the Sakaros siblings had ruled the Empire. On Belsavis, Rin and Reiko got along better than they had previously, and Rin enjoyed the interactions between the Solios children and her nephew and nieces and the opportunity to spend time with Nagarian. However, when she hugged Reiko goodbye in preparation for the return to Belsavis, Rin sensed that it was the last time she would ever see the Offshoot alive.
Rin Sakaros: Nothing. I didn't see anything. I just know.
Tariun Sakaros: Know what?
Rin Sakaros: That I will never see Reiko again.
―Rin and Tariun aboard the Wanderlust, departing Belsavis
No sooner had Rin gotten back to the Empire than she sensed another disturbance in the Force; at first she feared it was Reiko, but she quickly discovered it was actually Jade Star, who had narrowly survived an assassination attempt on Rykar. Rin sent Tillandra to supervise Jade's care, along with a small army of Centurions to protect Jade and Tillandra and investigate the assassination attempt. Eventually, Rin had the comatose Jade moved aboard the Sith Star for continued treatment.
Sensing some danger to Te`net, Eskol, and Chindal from the Jedi, and feeling an escalating death toll she associated with her team, Rin sent Breek back to the Mecrosa to arrange a war in the Tapani sector to distract the Triumvirate.
Sadness and silence
Rin's prophecy about Reiko came true less than half a year later, when a team of Imperial Knights assassinated Reiko on Belsavis. The forcible severing of their telepathic bond by traumatic murder (Reiko was shot in the back of the head with a sniper rifle) was agonizing for Rin, who collapsed, screaming, until the psychic trauma became so painful that she blacked out. Sorrik carried her back to her chambers and her Royal Guards stood vigil over her while she convalesced in a stupor, reacting to pain stimuli and occasionally opening her eyes but showing no signs of consciousness. Tariun and Azalyn were both alarmed as Rin's mental presence slowly faded into silence.
When she woke, Rin realized immediately what had happened to Reiko. Before she could act on it, she was appalled to discover that her telepathic powers had gone entirely silent—she could not feel or touch the minds of others, nor could anyone touch hers. Souv Tanake and Selkee both attempted to break into Rin's mind by force, and both Tariun and Azalyn attempted to touch her through their telepathic links, but no one experienced any success. Rin retained her other Force powers, as strong as ever, but she felt vulnerable and uncomfortable without the ability to sense others' intentions. In the months that followed, Tarzg and her other Royal Guards became increasingly protective, which made Rin feel all the more vulnerable and damaged.
Still disoriented from her condition, Rin was unable to read Nagarian's mind when he asked to be trained by Tariun, who had retrieved him from Belsavis. She thought a connection with family would do him good, and conceded that both her station in the Empire and her new telepathic disability made her a poor choice of teacher. She sent the brothers to relieve Torin Saedrin of supervision of her Super Star Destroyer project as she struggled to come to terms with the loss of her telepathy.
The end of Eskol
Te`net Organi: “You knew I'd kill him!”
Rin Sakaros: “I didn't. It was a possible future, and you all knew that, but it wasn't certain, and I hoped it wouldn't come to this.”
Te`net Organi: “Well it DID! I KILLED MY BROTHER! I crippled Chindal and put my lightsaber through Eskol's heart, just to keep the Empire safe. They became exactly what you thought they would, and I destroyed them for you. And do you know the worst part? He knew what was happening to him. Eskol knew he was becoming one of those things, and he let it happen because it was the best way to serve you and protect the Empire. He let those things mutate his mind—let them destroy who he was—so that he could become something else to serve you. He was willing to stop being himself if that's what you needed. That is how much he loved you. And I killed him for you.”
— Te`net Organi confronts Rin about Eskol Kaartinen's death
In the last month of 157 ABY, Te`net Organi returned from the mission to Killik space, bearing the dismembered Chindal and Eskol Kaartinen's body. He confronted Rin, who was vexed at being unable to sense his emotions and thoughts, though she could see his obvious anguish. She was cut to the heart by Te`net's accusation that she had sent him on the mission to kill Eskol, which he had done after Kaartinen became a Joiner and founded The Imperium. She struggled to comfort him, but was unable to reach him, and was shocked when Te`net demanded permission to resign his commission. With no other option but killing him for the disobedience he threatened, Rin gave him leave to resign.
The Order reeled under Kaartinen's loss in the following days. Rin initially kept the details of the mission confidential, not wanting to sully her Centurions' memories of Eskol with what he had become or undermine their faith in her. When it became apparent that Centurions were starting to theorize that Te`net had murdered Kaartinen, however, Breek, Tariun, Nagarian, and Aria finally persuaded Rin to tell her Centurions the truth.
Kaartinen received the Empire's first state funeral on Yin and was interred in Keltrayu's Tomb; it was the first ceremony Rin had attended at the Tomb since Keltrayu's own memorial fifty-five years earlier. After the New Year Fete of 158 ABY, Rin, frustrated beyond all bearing with her lost telepathy and her inability to connect and empathize with her Centurions in their grief, finally decided to take a leave of absence to get her telepathy back. She left the regency to Breek; Tariun, though the Phoenix Prince and the senior Executor, wished to remain with Nagarian, and felt unable to devote enough attention to training him if he had to also run an Empire.
Tarzg asked to come with Rin, and Rin agreed. Azalyn also begged to come, but Rin was hesitant; though the mental gulf between her and Azalyn was agonizing, she did not want Azalyn exposed to danger. She eventually reasoned that Azalyn did not have her own lightsaber and there was not time to construct one, whereupon Azalyn produced the weapon she had been secretly building for a month, sensing it was necessary. Rin was a little annoyed, but also slightly impressed, and she ultimately conceded to Azalyn's pleas.
Quest for telepathy
Rin, Tarzg, and Azalyn took the Wanderlust to the known regions of the galaxy. Though Rin had no particular destination in mind, she knew the Force had more deeply-rooted traditions outside the Empire. She reconnected with her old contact Myko, and received a number of suggestions from the information broker. During her trip to the known regions, Rin visited Coruscant for the first time in decades; her telepathic silence rendered her undetectable by the Jedi or the Imperial Knights. She chanced the visit to see Jextar, spending a night with him before moving on.
The trio traveled throughout the galaxy, visiting several worlds in the Outer Rim and Wild Space. Rin and Tarzg both took the opportunity to train Azalyn, exposing her to the galaxy at large and helping refine her skills. On one world they visited, they found a blind man who spoke vaguely of the depredations his world had endured at the hands of a tyrant in the past. Eventually, Rin deduced that he himself had been the tyrant, and had been blinded and deprived of most of his Force powers by those who had empowered him. She was startled when he revealed paintings he had made decades before of the Golden Empire's Phoenix standard, but came to view their meeting as a sign that she was fated to ascend to galactic rule some day.
In the deep places
After months of adventures and journeys, the trio wound up on another of Myko's suggested planets, deep in one of the galaxy's trailing arms. The planet was inhabited by primitive sentients, but Tarzg and Azalyn both led Rin deeper into the planet's jungle, to a cave where a cult was performing ritual sacrifice. Rin was shocked to hear their Duros high priest speaking Ancient Sith, and deduced that the ritual should be stopped.
In the ensuing melee, the trio fought against the cultists, but the ritual had succeeded in drawing "the Sucker" from the pit. The Sithspawn began feeding indiscriminately on those in the room. Azalyn managed to win a brief duel against a lightsaber-wielding enemy, but was injured by an arrow and attacked by the Sucker. Unable to reach her physically and finding her Force powers ineffective against the Sucker, Rin was stricken with terror of losing Azalyn, and when she lashed out, she found her telepathy came back to her in time to shatter the Sucker's mind. She was able to kill the beast before it could recover.
In the aftermath of the battle, Rin experienced some telepathic "leakage", sharing more thoughts than she wanted to and experiencing occasional difficulty screening thoughts. She eventually came to the realization that she had unconsciously put up a telepathic barrier to protect her mind from the kind of trauma she had experienced upon Reiko's death; the realization was infuriating, but enlightening.
Friends old and new
Before returning to the Empire, Rin elected to pay back some debts. She and her companions stopped for supplies on Borleias and encountered a massive Drakonus, Zivkai Rasakhar. Zivkai had clearly been living wild, and he spoke only Drachtez, but he and Rin were able to muddle through telepathic communication. Sensing Zivkai's latent Force ability and his warrior nature, she invited him to join the Order of Keltrayu, giving him three weeks to think the offer over.
Over those fifteen days, Rin first visited the Tapani sector herself, assessing the situation and trying to find a suitable way to reward Evangelia Maxico for her loyalty to Breek's alter ego of "Darth Asa". The trio next went to Nar Shaddaa—both Rin and Azalyn's homeworld—and helped Ventresca Tan and his girlfriend, Sheya Lassan, get off the planet without being killed by the Hutt kajidics.
When they returned to Borleias, Rin found Zivkai willing to accompany her, though only if his pet dragon Zavka could come too. Now at the head of a quintet, Rin took the Wanderlust back to the Empire, explaining as much as she could to Zivkai on the way. She returned to the Sith Star and retook the throne from a deeply relieved Breek Zagrev in the seventh month of 158 ABY.
Old Familiar Faces
When Rin, Tarzg, Azalyn, Zivkai, and Zavka returned to the Golden Empire, Rin discovered that, in her absence, Tariun had pulled rank on Breek to allow Rayne to go off unguarded in pursuit of Te`net Organi. She was vexed by her brother's decision, but simply informed all commands to apprise her if Rayne approached them rather than actively sending Intelligence after Rayne or Te`net. She was rewarded for her restraint when the two returned to the Sith Star, and Te`net agreed to return to service as a Centurion, but she was also startled by the revelation that Eskol Kaartinen had manifested as a Force ghost to help Te`net arrive at the decision.
Breek—who was wearied by the cares of governing the entire Empire and greatly relieved to see Rin back—reported that Jinyx was ready to graduate from her apprenticeship. Rin, however, wanted to teach Jinyx a last few things herself. As they were preparing to depart, however, Sorrik summoned Rin and Jinyx to the bridge. There they found the Star Dragon with whom Rin had spoken some seventy-one years prior. Rin was surprised to discover the Duinuogwuin had followed the events of the Empire; he was able to reference the Centurions by name. He presented Rin his great-grandson, Djorii'surle'maj, as a Novice for the Order. He also warned Rin of a coming peril, one which would endanger the galaxy and wreak havoc upon the Star Dragons. Though Rin offered him safety in the Empire, he declined, electing to face his fate. However, he asked Rin and Jinyx to protect and train Djorii.
Old Familiar Places
After she had seen Zivkai, Zavka, and Djorii safely settled in the Citadel—Amina Sakaros was ecstatic to expand her "collection" of dragons—Rin and Jinyx left the Empire, leaving Tariun in command this time. The two journeyed to some the same insane asylums and mental health facilities Rin had visited decades before with Keltrayu. Using a combination of forged credentials when they worked and mind tricks when they didn't, Rin posed as a visiting psychiatrist with Jinyx as her student intern, gaining access to both routine cases and maximum security prisoners.
Knowing Jinyx's innate talent for—and burden of—Force empathy, Rin showed her the ways insane and delusional minds differed from normal ones. She taught Jinyx to both amplify and mitigate these effects, and eventually how to replicate them in otherwise sane minds.
The Queen Who Should Have Been
The Mysterious Stranger
Rin and Jinyx's last stop was at the Bedlam Institution for the Criminally Demented on Bedlam, where the two studied insanity turned to violent crime. On their way out, Rin discussed a desire to see the Bedlam Spirits and their alleged fantastic powers, and Jinyx did not protest. As they proceeded, Rin found herself disquieted by vague memories of a nursery rhyme song she had heard as a child regarding the Bedlam Spirits, but she could not recall the details.
Before they made it out of the area, however, they were accosted by an old Drakonus woman wearing dark glasses. She refused to name herself, but her presence felt off to Rin in the Force, and worse to Jinyx. They were uneasy when the woman addressed them both by name, but with her telepathy restored, Rin could sense the woman was no threat—resentful and world-weary, but not harmful. Overruling Jinyx's wariness, Rin agreed to accompany the woman.
The Games They Play
In the speeder ride out of town, the woman said she had been waiting for them for a long time, and asked after both Raynar Tarq an Amina, to Jinyx's discomfort. The woman added that she and her companion had once sought out the Bedlam Spirits, and learned to their sorrow that the legends were true. Sensing the woman's anger at her companion, Rin found herself recalling part of the old nursery rhyme: "You will not like the games they play / The Bedlam Spirits will send you away." She began to nurse a terrible suspicion of the woman's identity, but before she could pursue it, they arrived at their destination—a canyon far out in Bedlam's rocky wastes, unlikely to attract attention. The woman had built a small tomb for her companion into the stone, remarking wistfully that she had wanted to stay to meet Rin and Jinyx herself, but hadn't made it. Rin was reduced to a terrified silence when she read tomb's inscription: "Here lies Katherine Valadyn Sakaros, 35 ABY–34 ABY. The queen who should have been, but died before her time."
Sensing Rin's fear, Jinyx nearly attacked the older Drakonus, but Rin snapped out of her shock at the last moment to stop the contest. Realizing the older woman was, in fact, Jinyx, Rin asked what had happened. Future Jinyx revealed that, after leaving Bedlam, Rin and Jinyx had journeyed to the Bedlam Spirits, quickly realizing that their reality-warping powers far dwarfed anything even Rin was capable of. Rin had tried to warn Jinyx away, commanding, "Go back", but Cold Danda Sine had taken it as a suggestion and made them both "go back", sending them centuries into the past, before either of them (or even Rin's parents) were born.
Abandoned in time, Future Rin and Jinyx had struggled to come to grips with their predicament. By the time they achieved transport offworld and had access to carbonite freezing technology, Future Rin had sensed too much time had passed; she could not live to return to the present time and complete her Empire's conquest. Worse, having failed her destiny, her power of foresight had largely abandoned her, leaving her with infrequent and indistinct visions of the future.
Future Rin and Jinyx had concluded they could not affect galactic events, for fear of doing incredible damage to time, or even reality. Future Jinyx shared her anger at Future Rin's self-absorption and increasingly far-fetched plans first for ensuring her own survival, then ensuring she lived long enough to prevent their mistake; she had largely been oblivious to Future Jinyx's own suffering, deprived of all her loved ones. The two had fought over the years, Future Jinyx confided; when Rin remarked that her alter ego had obviously spared Future Jinyx, the old woman remarked she had indeed—except the time Jinyx had defeated Rin, when it was Jinyx who had shown mercy.
The Long Game
In the end, the two companions lost in time reconciled, having only one another to break the centuries of loneliness. It was Future Rin who had come up with the Bedlam Spirits song; unable to risk approaching even her mother Ye`keb, she had sung the song and gotten it popular in places she knew Ye`keb would visit, hoping the woman would pick it up and share it with Rin. The ploy worked, but its effect had not been enough to deter Rin, whose stubbornness and Sith desire to overcome her own fears would force her through it. As her body aged and began to fail, Future Rin realized she would not live to meet herself. She tried cloning and essence transfer, but each attempt died more quickly than the last. Future Rin finally concluded that she had a set lifespan, and the Force would resist two of her existing at once.
On her (final) deathbed, Future Rin asked Future Jinyx to complete their mission, waiting for their past selves to come to Bedlam and preventing her mistake. Future Jinyx admitted to Rin and Jinyx that she had considered forsaking the vow, letting Rin's dream die as punishment for her arrogance. She was also sorely tempted to seek out both her family on Klesk and Raynar Tarq on Rykar, but resisted. She repented of her anger only when she reflected she would like another chance for her—any her—to be with Raynar and Amina, and that perhaps Rin had the potential to be a good queen with a little more wisdom.
Taking the Future From the Now
Rin vowed to avoid the Spirits, but she realized the obvious dilemma as Future Jinyx pointed it out—the fact that Future Jinyx was still present meant that Rin's plan failed. Future Jinyx dryly remarked that Future Rin had come to the same realization; a simple heeded warning would erase the future in which Rin and Jinyx approached the Bedlam Spirits and were sent back in time, and thus prevent Future Jinyx from warning their past selves. Absent the warning, Rin and Jinyx would proceed and be sent back in time as before, creating an unbreakable cycle. But Future Rin had theorized that the missing element in the otherwise enclosed time loop was the Force; Rin had to not only be warned, but absorb the warning through the Force in such a way that it would transcend space and time, and even multiple versions of reality.
Jinyx remarked that her future self would cease to exist if they succeeded, but Future Jinyx accepted that fate; though the temptation to go see Amina and Raynar was almost physically painful, and Future Jinyx confessed her anguish as she slowly forgot their faces and voices over the centuries, she knew she would help them both more by returning the present Jinyx to them. She also charged Jinyx to be a safeguard against Rin's worst tendencies and arrogance, a charge that made Jinyx uncomfortable but which Rin accepted, feeling humbled and ashamed at the tales of what she had gone on to do in the face of her own personal destiny's collapse.
Reaching into the Force, Rin connected her mind with both versions of Jinyx, letting them bond through the Force. Although her nature rebelled against accepting fear, she allowed herself to do so, accepting Future Jinyx's anger and loss and her own guilt that they had come to be through her arrogance. As she truly took the urge for discretion to heart, Rin suddenly found herself and Jinyx walking out of the Bedlam Institution for the Criminally Demented, both recalling nothing that had happened after—because, with time altered, nothing had happened after.
On their way out, Rin discussed a desire to see the Bedlam Spirits and their alleged fantastic powers, although Jinyx seemed uneasy at the notion. As they proceeded, Rin found herself disquieted by vague memories of a song regarding the Bedlam Spirits, but she could not recall the details. Eventually she noted to Jinyx that the trip was not worth the risk merely to satisfy her own arrogance. A bit startled that she had been that open about one of her flaws to one of her servants, Rin nonetheless found herself trusting Jinyx with it, and the two returned to the Empire, feeling closer to one another even though neither quite knew why.
At Breek's request, Rin allowed Jinyx to take a battery of exams similar to those faced by Centurions, which Jinyx passed. Once Jinyx graduated from her apprenticeship, Rin was forced to finally confront the looming issue that she had never answered: Jinyx's role in the Empire. In the end, Rin gave Jinyx the rank of Royal Emissary, charging the Drakonus to be her eyes and ears (and occasionally voice and fist) throughout the Empire. She also had Benzeel Rikos and Zeth Kezzerek take Jinyx to buy her first ship, a secondhand (but heavily modified and modifiable) freighter Jinyx named the Falling Star.
Before the Darkness
Rin's grandniece Taia came with her mother and grandmother to visit the Sith Star in 159 ABY. After Rin got over her annoyance at Jasmine circumventing both procedure and her own Massassi Guards, she discussed Taia's plans for the future. At Rin's suggestion, Taia agreed to act as a goodwill ambassador for the Empire, filling a role much like that of Andromeda Keane some seventeen years before. Taia completed a course at the Royal Diplomatic Academy in 160 ABY, and Rin invested her as a mirzaya at that year's Consular Assembly.
Powers and abilities
Not long after infancy, Rin Sakaros began to display an oddly keen perception and control of her surroundings, even more so than the "sixth sense" normally displayed by young Force adepts. Her ability to manipulate her environment with no formal training in particular was markedly greater than the average Force-sensitive. By the time she reached physical and mental maturity, her instinctive power had blossomed into an extensive command of the Force.
To fight Queen Rin is to die.
Studying under Tak Sakaros, Tariun Sakaros, Ye`keb Millennium, Jade Star, and Lorelai Whitesun simultaneously in the first decades of her life, Rin was exposed to all seven classical forms of lightsaber combat. In her early years, her style was closest to Ataru, as it allowed her to use her substantial Force powers for the form's acrobatics and quick movements. By 65 ABY, she was adept enough with a blade to kill three Jedi Knights in under a minute, as well as taking down a Jedi Master with her father's aid.
Following her mother's murder and her departure for her grand tour of the galaxy, Rin's style was more in flux, drawing elements from all the forms but not committed to any of them. Her anger made Djem So come naturally to her, but her small stature compelled her to draw on the Force to give her added strength for the form's emphasis on brute strength and aggression. In the first decade of her galactic odyssey, she encountered no lightsaber-wielding enemies, and her own skills began to slip for lack of practice.
After defeating Seneka Yari on Dathomir, Rin returned to regular study of lightsaber combat, both on her own and in training Keltrayu. With a better handle on her emotions and her proficiency in other styles, she opted to devote herself to Juyo. It suited her personality—outward calm and control but with a deep well of emotion and passion beneath—and her knowledge of the other forms allowed her to keep her attacks varied and unpredictable. In the early days of the Golden Empire, Rin often took the field herself, cleaving her way through enemy ranks with her blade.
By the 130s ABY, Rin was able to vanquish anyone in her Empire who came against her with a blade. She routinely sparred with the greatest masters of the Order of Keltrayu, including her brother, Kieran Sapphire, Rajj-Yo, and Tarzg Sav'lir, to keep her skills at their peak. At least once, she fought her brother, Sapphire, Rajj-Yo, and Vem simultaneously, and defeated all four without taking so much as a burn, although she was compelled to use the Force not only to heighten her speed and agility, but also to distract and rebuff her sparring partners. However, Tariun was concerned by the training of Kyriel Windrunner, as he felt Kyriel and Selkee (who were each gifted on the order of Yoda and Revan), if they fully mastered their powers, could together pose a threat to Rin in a straight fight.
Rin contributed substantially to the lightsaber training of the earliest Novices, and continued to work with the Order on occasion even decades into the Empire's existence. She helped Kieran Sapphire refine his skills before he became Blademaster of the Order, and taught Juyo to Vem and Soresu to Eskol Kaartinen. Rin called herself “fully proficient” in all seven forms, but stated that she had only mastered Juyo. After Jade Star moved to the Empire in 140 ABY, she brought holocrons which presented vague details of Mace Windu's Vaapad style, and Rin began trying to reconstruct the form in her off time; her disbelief in the existence of light and dark sides in the Force hampered her efforts.
Rin had experience with several “unorthodox” lightsaber styles, although this tended to be less employing them and more defending against them. She was content to use a single blade, but due to her brother's Jar'Kai training she was able to defend against two or more blades without difficulty. In her time with Elara D'ovan, she learned to use a shock whip, which gave her some understanding of the mechanics of the similar lightwhip. Rin also devoted countless hours to practicing staff techniques, both with the witches on Dathomir and later with Keltrayu, which made her able to fight a saberstaff.
In purely biological terms of midi-chlorian counts, Rin had the second strongest connection to the Force in galactic history, following Anakin Skywalker. Between this and the decades she spent being trained and training herself, Rin rose to a level of skill in the Force that both impressed and intimidated many of her contemporaries and allies.
Rin herself was proudest of her telepathic abilities, as she believed that the mind was a superior vessel for the Force than the body. She had extremely precise control of the mental aspects of the Force, and was able to torture and even kill others with only her thoughts, forcibly extract information from the minds of others, and even erase minds completely, leaving the victim in a vegetative, incurable, brain-dead state. With sufficient exposure, Rin could comprehend and commune even with minds dissimilar to her own, as evidenced by her ability to process the thoughts of the P'w'ecks and a Star Dragon.
Rin could control the thoughts of large groups at a time. She eventually became able to totally immobilize thousands of sentient beings simultaneously, though more than a few dozen beings required much more concentration and she could not easily use other powers at the same time. The Jedi Master Souv Tanake, herself revered as a mentalist by her fellow Jedi, believed Rin to be the only being who could completely break her mind if she so chose. Due to her Fallanassi training, Rin was also capable of projecting illusions, though her irregular use of the power kept her from trying it on a grand scale.
Reading the thoughts and emotions of her subordinates became so commonplace to Rin that by the time of her father's death at the latest, she had evolved the habit of finishing people's sentences for them, seeing the words in their minds before they had left their lips. Most of Rin's subordinates accepted it as part of her personality and her allies in the Merquise Syndicate seemed to find it vaguely amusing, although Tariun Sakaros was mildly annoyed by it.
Rin routinely used Battle Meditation to influence the prospects of her armies. While she initially had a marked preference for sapping the morale of her enemies over supporting her own troops, when she began actually traveling with what would become the Prime Fleet and leading them into battle, she began to develop a better understanding of motivation and her Battle Meditation skills improved correspondingly. Rin's almost subconscious use of the Force at all times may have also contributed to the general feeling of awe, loyalty, and pride of service her troops felt in her presence.
Perhaps Rin's most famous (and, among her subordinates, awe-inspiring) power was precognition. Like all trained Force users, she could use the Force in combat to anticipate attacks from her enemies. Unlike most, however, she was also subject to receiving visions, and with much greater regularity than even similarly powerful Force users. Her time studying with Sho Kest and the Baran Do only augmented her natural gifts. She gave the impression of existing in two worlds simultaneously, the living present and the potential future; her gifts and her knack for finding shatterpoints gave her the ability to anticipate the fallout of nearly any consequential decision as it was made, and adjust her plans accordingly. When she actually paused to meditate on the future, she could often see it as clearly as she saw the present with her eyes. She occasionally received spontaneous visions as well, though these were often of multiple possibilites at once, and she needed to exert all her concentration and power to follow a single line of possibility back to the present.
Training with the Zeison Sha gave minute control to Rin's already formidable telekinetic abilities, and she was able to lift hundreds of tons with her mind when totally concentrating, or to control a thousand pebbles at once while swirling them around herself. In 112 ABY, she even temporarily slowed the rotation of Vedros VI so far that the moon seemed to have frozen completely, though she needed the help of Tariun Sakaros and several Centurions to complete the feat, and the effort nearly killed her, putting her into a coma for a week. She could deflect blaster bolts and Force lightning by hand.
The occasions when Rin fought personally became fewer as the Golden Empire grew, but her forces considered them to be memorable when they occurred. Due to her brother's influence, she sometimes practiced telekinetic lightsaber combat, hurling whatever missiles were at hand at her enemies. She had the ability to simultaneously manipulate her environment while fighting with her lightsaber, which could overwhelm enemies unaccustomed to such distractions in combat. When she did not wish to duel or had time to avoid it, Rin would often choke or crush enemies instead. She was also fond of using Force lightning; she eventually developed a violet-and-white variant, a deeper expression of rage and the desire to destroy, which was instantly lethal with a single blast and could scald down to bone.
Rin manifested the ability to cut someone off from the Force in 87 ABY, when she did so to her father. She repeated the feat again forty years later on the traitor Vessyk. Tak's eventual recovery of his powers suggests that Rin's mastery of the technique was not perfect, and that she had only suppressed the power temporarily.
After encountering Reiko Kaytana, Rin became intrigued by the ability to resurrect the dying, but she herself evidenced no trace of the power, despite her raw Force potential and control. Rin herself came to believe that it was a gift, not a “power” in the traditional sense, and that one either had it or did not.
Among her rarest or unused Force powers were the ability to emit Force screams, which for Rin was always an involuntary reaction to some stimulus, and the Aing-Tii flow-walking ability, which Rin learned but never practiced or particularly cared for.
Like most of her family, Rin could speak many languages by maturity; in addition to Basic and Huttese, she also learned Sith from her father and Qua from her mother. In traveling the galaxy, she also picked up a good deal of Bocce, and she became at least conversational in Kel Dor while studying with the Baran Do.
At some point, after reading biographies of Revan and developing her mental powers to sufficient precision, Rin learned the same ability to extract languages from others and implant them in her own head. Rather than pursue Revan's approach of “downloading” others' languages and “uploading” Basic in turn, Rin became able to seat new languages in the same part of her brain, and thus speak those languages herself, although sometimes the more she concentrated, the harder it was; since she was taking languages from a nearly-unconscious part of the brain, she was best able to use them when she herself was not thinking too hard about it.
Among the languages Rin was known to speak are:
- Bocce (some)
- Kel Dor
- Miralukese (basics)
Rin was well-trained by her father and brother in Var Shek even before she left Coruscant, along with some side training in the Echani style and Broken Gate. Her study with Taz Merot, the witches of Dathomir, the Followers of Palawa, Elara D'ovan, and the Echani themselves made her a well-rounded martial artist with an eclectic style. Though she had the ability to channel the Force through her body, making her strikes harder and more damaging, and though her Force-enhanced reflexes and Force powers gave her a wide range of combat options, she generally used her martial arts only for conditioning or teaching others; when she had to kill, she preferred to use the Force or a blade.
Rin put some effort into Sith alchemy, although it quickly became more of an occasional hobby than a real pursuit. She had read the works of the ancient Sith masters as well as Palpatine's The Creation of Monsters, and thus had a strong academic familiarity with the subject. However, she rarely applied the discipline herself until 149 ABY, though she is known to have created a Sith sword.
Trained by her brother and influenced by Iscali spacefarers and historical records, Rin was a gifted military grand strategist. Her ability to see the future allowed her to plan far in advance, and her understanding of the interplay of economics, politics, and the military helped her to employ all three in a concerted effort.
Personality and appearance
Appearance and physiology
At only 1.65 meters (5'5") and with a slender (though athletic) build, Rin was not physically intimidating in the slightest to most species. She had long black hair, with natural red highlights, and muted red skin. Her eyes were emerald green, like her father and brother, but had silver streaks like her mother's; when deeply immersed in using dark side powers, the green would turn red and the silver streaks yellow. She was considered physically beautiful by many Humanoids, more by nature than by any attempt on her part. She tended to dress in one or two colors, and wore a wide variety of outfits depending on the situation, from complex regal robes to a simple Sith-style tunic, pants, and cloak. Unlike other Sith, she regularly wore not only black, but a variety of other primary colors. She was left-handed, and wore her single lightsaber at her right hip.
As Queen of the Golden Empire, Rin usually wore a simple, solid gold circlet with a transparent or translucent veil hanging down to cover her face; the transparent version was more common among her Centurions or away from the Empire entirely. Rin had numerous veils to match whatever outfit she was wearing, but she usually preferred white shimmersilk, or dull gray when in mourning. In public, she often wore a hood up to cover her hair, leaving only her hands exposed. As a holdover from her time with Elara D'ovan, Rin occasionally wore zenji needles in her hair.
Half-Sith and half-Qua, Rin believed her biology combined the best of both species. Her blood had a diminished version of the regenerative properties of Qua blood, which allowed her to heal quickly from injury and effectively made her immune to most diseases and poisons. The few diseases she could contract for more than a few hours would gradually be purged from her system; even those which were fatal to other species would make her only sick. However, in complement to her Qua side, Rin also had a much hardier body than the somewhat frail Qua. Her Sith side gave her toughness at least equal to a Human, and her regular physical training kept her in peak physical fitness.
The first impression many people had of Rin Sakaros was that she was not paying attention. Given that she could often see both the present and the future simultaneously, she had an ethereal air, as if she actually existed in both worlds at the same time. She had a tendency to walk slowly from place to place, as if concentrating more on what she was envisioning than where she was going. However, Rin was extremely perceptive, and missed almost nothing that could be seen or sensed with the Force in her vicinity. She occasionally appeared hesitant to make a decision, because she could simultaneously see the ramifications of it in the future. In her early life, Rin was very happy-go-lucky, and given her slowed biological and mental development, remained so longer than a Human average. When she finally hit the adolescent stage of development, she was somewhat moody and a bit of a sarcastic smart-mouth. She was discontent with her cloistered existence, longing to see the galaxy at large and be known. Due to her mother's influence, she had compassion for the less fortunate and contempt for those who exploited others unfairly.
Following Ye'keb's murder, Rin experienced a monumental change. Rage blossomed up in her, and it took many years before she had her temper solidly under control. The experience also made her a much colder, more distant person, the Sith her father had intended her to be. For the first half of her galactic tour she was more detached and objective, seeking power simply because she wanted it and feeling free to use people as needed to strengthen herself.
It was Rin's temper that led her to wipe out the Frenzied River Clan, and the anguish she felt when she saw the extent of Seneka Yari's massacre shocked her innate compassion back to life. Thereafter, she attempted to balance the cold detachment she knew was needed to accomplish anything with an understanding of the very sentient suffering that would accompany any destructive action. This contributed in large part to her later emphasis on the Golden Empire's actions ultimately being for the benefit of its citizens.
Rin had a keen understanding of the value of shock and awe in both breaking the will of enemies and inspiring respect in subordinates. She adopted the Hapan royalty's custom of wearing a veil to create the impression that she was detached and otherworldly, beyond simple mortal concerns. She dropped the use of her surname in order to present herself as separated from familial concerns and solely a servant of the Empire. Her habit of speaking into the mind of a chosen subordinate and having that person speak aloud on her behalf added to her appearance of separation from the “mere” mortal world, as if her voice were too pure to be heard by the common rabble, and also less-than-subtly showcased her mental powers. Similarly, while she herself did not claim to be a goddess and would deny it if asked directly, she also made no effort to suppress or discourage the Cult of Rin.
Rin genuinely cared for the welfare of her people, and would take steps to improve their lot when she could. She was zealous and ruthless in their defense, and those who preyed on innocent citizens of the Empire often met horrific torture and execution at the hands of Rin's army, and occasionally Rin herself. However, Rin also tolerated no rebellion from her own people, though in at least one case (that of the Chiss Rebellion in 142 ABY) she had the leaders of the movement put to death, but declared a general amnesty for all other rebels who laid down their arms. She was particularly merciless toward traitors in her own government, viewing their actions as both a betrayal of public trust and a personal offense against her.
Because of her position as Queen, Rin had very few personal friends, as she wished to be Sovereign first and everything else second. Despite this, she did feel fondly toward her Centurions, and was very close with her brother Tariun. She made it clear, however, that every servant of the Empire served with both life and death, and she would not hesitate to send her troops or her Centurions to their deaths if it was necessary. While she initially hesitated to formally make the same commitment about her brother, Tariun himself told her to spend his life as she saw fit.
Tariun Sakaros believed that Rin's greatest enemy would always be herself. While he, like most of Rin's subjects, felt no Force user or even group could ever defeat Rin, Rin would end up hurting herself by constantly pushing her limits. This dogged insistence on self-perfection led her to numerous incidents in which she became ill or almost died due to overexerting her power, including stopping the rotation of Vedros IV (which put her in a coma for a week), blocking a turbolaser blast with the Force (which knocked her unconscious for seven hours and left her disoriented for days), and healing Andromeda Keane of the Taren Plague at the cost of contracting it herself. Worse, despite these near-fatal consequences, every time Rin pushed herself to the limit and survived, it only increased her confidence in her abilities and made her more likely to push her limits again in the future.
Having studied the history of the galaxy and the lives of such movers and shakers as Exar Kun, Revan, Palpatine, Thrawn, and later Krayt, Rin became convinced that it was her purpose to bring the galaxy into order, eliminating competitive struggles amongst sentients and forcing a lasting peace. Her envisioned order was impartial and impersonal (therefore, in her mind, avoiding the self-interested pitfalls of Kun and Palpatine) and straightforward and honest (thus avoiding the deceit that cost Thrawn his life). It was this ideal of order that inspired Rin on her many voyages of conquest and subjugated thousands of worlds to her rule. Though she had some regrets that such massive casualties were necessary to bring her plan to fruition, in her view the ultimate benefit to all thinking beings was worth the initial cost.
A staunch believer in the Unifying Force, Rin denied the existence of both the dark and light sides of the Force. She believed (and taught her Centurions) that the Force simply existed, impartial and beyond sentient beliefs about morality. She believed as a consequence that those who claimed to be “seduced by the dark side” were simply seeking a justification for their own atrocities, and that those who said they “followed the light side” were justifying their personal moral beliefs by ascribing them to the Force. Though Rin believed power could corrupt, she held firmly to the notion that the corruption was due to inherent weaknesses and flaws in the individual, not the Force.
Rin Sakaros was very close to her mother, Ye'keb Millennium, and Ye'keb's basic compassion for others exerted a foundational influence on Rin's personality the rest of her life. Ye'keb's murder was Rin's first real loss and heartache in life, and it remained a ready source of rage to tap for the power of the dark side as needed.
Rin's relationship with Tak Sakaros was complex. In her youth she loved her father dearly, and even endured his brutal Sith training because she could sense his sincerity in wanting to make her stronger. After Tak murdered Ye'keb, however, Rin felt betrayed and her relationship with her father chilled markedly. By the time they dueled aboard the Vengeance, he was almost meaningless to her, and she felt no guilt whatsoever about cutting him off from the Force and leaving him to die. Decades later, however, seeing what her father had done to improve his life and the lives of others on Nar Shaddaa, and especially knowing that he had used his last breath of Force power to apologize and tell her he loved her, Rin began to feel gnawing guilt and regret, and wondered whether she had erred in writing her father off so soon.
Rin technically had no siblings, only half-siblings, but she was raised to consider all of them like full brothers and sisters.
Rin and Tariun Sakaros were close even when she was a child; not long after she founded the Golden Empire, they had become best friends. Following Keltrayu's death, Tariun was the only person with whom Rin felt she could be totally honest, and she came to rely on Tariun for support and his candid opinion. In turn, Tariun's devotion to Rin became the sole focus in his life, and he became Rin's foremost champion, servant, and protector. Tariun made her laugh more than anyone else, and was the only person bold enough to call Rin on her overconfidence and dangerous overuse of her power.
Though not technically a sibling, Rin grew up when Lorelai Whitesun was already married to her brother, and as such took to considering Lorelai a big sister. She felt more comfortable discussing “girl stuff” with Lorelai than with her mother or Jade Star, and was crushed to hear of Lorelai's death from her brother in 86 ABY, though she tried to conceal her own grief to help Tariun cope with his. Though she was sensitive enough to Tariun's feelings not to mention Lorelai around him, Rin often missed her "big sister".
Rin's actual sister, Jasmine Auroras, had a sometimes-standoffish relationship with Rin. Jasmine herself was an innately kind, caring person, all of her mother's good traits without the edge Ye'keb acquired. However, Rin was a living symbol of Ye'keb's infidelity to Jasmine's father and a reminder of how Tak Sakaros had killed Viprous Auroras, which made relations between the sisters strained. For her part, Rin wanted a closer relationship with Jasmine and was hurt to be rebuffed. She tried periodically to reconnect with her sister, to no avail. As Queen of the Golden Empire, though, she wished to look out for her sister. Tariun could sense this, which led him to buy one of Jasmine's paintings for Rin; Rin herself later asked Jextar Star to buy one for the Jedi Temple, putting up the money to secretly support her sister's work. She was relieved when Jasmine came to the Empire and was in a place where Rin could protect her. The relationship between the sisters remained difficult at times, but each cared deeply about the other.
The mere existence of Nagarian Sakaros came as a total shock to Rin, but she took to her younger brother quickly, doting on him and regularly sending her Centurions to check on him when she herself could not journey to Nar Shaddaa. She looked for Nagarian's future often to make sure he would remain safe, and made him a prince of the Golden Empire when he was two years old.
Rin saw her brother Hayden rarely, as he was a Jedi Knight. The young Jedi did make an effort to keep in touch, however, sending holos to Rin and visiting her when he could chance it. Aware of his father's desire to keep Rin's existence a secret, Hayden used his position on the Jedi Council to do just that, suppressing the rare reports that came of Rin's grand tour of the galaxy and making sure the few errant rumors never met the ears of his fellow Jedi Masters. Rin sensed Hayden's death at the Massacre at Ossus and was heartbroken at the loss. His murder led her to forever abandon the idea of allying with or incorporating the One Sith into her plans, and she nursed a vendetta against Darth Nihl from that point forward, dreaming of the day she might kill the Nagai herself.
Though she was born more than a decade after her brothers Khrado and Marquand died, Rin stated more than once that she wished she could have met them. Tariun Sakaros, however, thought that Rin would have despised Khrado, and if the two had ever met she probably would have killed him for his bloodthirstiness and desire for power at the expense of anything in his way.
Having envisioned his existence and role in her life long before she ever met him, Rin bonded quickly with Keltrayu while both were still on Dathomir, ignoring the annoyance of clan elders at her affectionate behavior toward a slave. She arranged for him to be freed at the first opportunity and took him as her apprentice.
In their decade of traveling, Rin and Keltrayu grew very close, and though Rin subjected her apprentice to regular physically and psychologically demanding tests, she had a deep and genuine affection for him. In turn, Keltrayu viewed Rin as his savior, delivering him from slavery and giving him a much greater destiny than he had ever dreamed possible. When Rin declared Keltrayu's training complete in 86 ABY, he elected to stay with her and serve her in the Golden Empire, and he became one of her two best friends, along with Tariun.
Keltrayu's death at the Battle of Tizgo V was intensely traumatic for Rin, and she mourned her apprentice for many years before she really got past his death. In the final years of Keltrayu's life, Tariun began to nurse a suspicion that Keltrayu was in love with Rin, but kept the belief to himself. When Keltrayu died, Tariun elected not to tell Rin his theory, not wanting to color her memories of him or make her feel even worse.
While attending the commissioning of Nairasho as a Centurion in 146 ABY, Rin reflected that Keltrayu's death had been the worst day of her life.
Rin and Jextar Star were close as children; both aged more slowly than Humans, and with Jade Star hiding out with Ye'keb Millennium, the two were around one another often. Even after Jex left to join the Jedi Order, he never forgot Rin. Rin herself always remembered Jex as her first and oldest friend.
The two did not meet again until 140 ABY, and when they did Rin was startled to discover that Jex, like Hayden, had been doing his best to conceal Rin's existence from the few who might suspect it. When she asked why, the Sith Queen was even more surprised to learn that Jex was in love with her. After their next meeting, she was forced to admit that she loved him too, though she worried how her love for a Jedi Master might conflict with her duty to the Empire. Over the following years, Rin and Jex saw each other when they could, although it was infrequent. Rin was sometimes forced to conceal her machinations from Jex; it pained her, but she reasoned that it would hurt him worse to have to mislead or lie to his Jedi, or even endanger them.
Jasmine Auroras: “When you finally have children of your own, I'll paint one for them as well.”
―Jasmine and Rin, about a painting Jasmine did of Rin and Jira
Rin Sakaros: “In every way that matters, you have painted my child for me.”
Rin sensed a connection with Jira from the day they met in 121 ABY; she commanded that Jira be admitted to the Order of Keltrayu before her brother, then Prefect, could even get a word out. As Jira grew, Rin contributed to her Novice training, but also taught her to sing and became a mother figure for the young Kasci. Jira took to considering Rin her mother, and painstakingly crafted the crystal for her lightsaber so it produced a blade exactly the same emerald shade as Rin's eyes.
Though she worked hard to maintain at least the semblance of professionalism with Jira, giving her demanding assignments and work worthy of her skill, Rin viewed Jira as her daughter as well. When Wyro Zaffrod asked Rin's permission to marry Jira, Rin not only consented, but gave Wyro the diamond of Iomis from her own crown for Jira's engagement clasp. During the Battle of the Sith Star, Rin allowed Jira to leave her Battle Meditation in order to protect the Citadel (and thus Jira's daughter, Terra) from Voara Culee's strike team. Rin urged Jira to accept a singing engagement at the Samayus Palace of Opera in 153 ABY, and Jira debuted a song she composed for Rin, called "A Mother's Eyes".
Rin and Azalyn "met" before Azalyn was even born; Azalyn's mother, Odala Kass`l, had been cut off from the Force before becoming pregnant with Azalyn, and Rin volunteered to restore Odala's powers. She entered a deep meditative trance for days, nearly dying as she endured the struggle to connect with baby Azalyn's mind, restore Odala, and then link mother and daughter safely. Azalyn eventually came to recognize and love her mother from the inside, but she and Rin were forever linked.
When Odala and Alluria Solios were kidnapped by Darth Nihl's Sith in 148 ABY, Rin took several of her Centurions to rescue them. Alluria was saved, but Odala was killed by Darth Maladi's poison, and Rin was wracked with grief at having failed Azalyn, though Azalyn herself did not blame Rin. Azalyn joined the Order of Keltrayu shortly thereafter, and Rin took a vested interest in Azalyn's development, even arranging Azalyn's year-long study with the Seers of Ufalio to help the girl understand and control her prophetic powers.
Azalyn and Rin's minds remained tightly linked, causing Azalyn intense telepathic distress when Rin herself suffered from Reiko Kaytana's death in 157 ABY. During the following year, in which Rin had a subconsciously-erected telepathic shield around her mind which prevented all telepathic connection, both Rin and Azalyn felt uncomfortable forcibly separated from one another. Azalyn insisted on going with Rin to help recover her powers, and was instrumental in Rin finally shattering the barrier around her mind. In preparation for that very mission, Azalyn debuted her lightsaber, which was colored silver like Rin's.
Name and titles
Names and aliases
Born Katherine Valadyn Sakaros, Rin was named for her mother's sister, Katherine Millennium, and her father's blood-sister, Valadyn Ragnos. Tak Sakaros considered “Katherine” to be “too Human” a name for his daughter, having preferred a Sith name. Unable to sway Ye'keb Millennium away from it, he eventually took to calling her “Rin”. Tariun Sakaros, Lorelai Whitesun, and even Jade Star eventually picked up the habit, and the name stuck.
When she was old enough to assert her opinion on the matter, Rin herself preferred “Rin” as well; generally, only her parents could get away with calling her anything else. Ye'keb alternated between Katherine and Rin, while Tak called her “Katie” affectionately. Others called her Katherine as a reprimand (and even a century into life, Tariun would still call her by her full name when she did something he felt was annoying, such as completing others' sentences), but Rin was adamant that only Tak could call her “Katie”.
While traveling the galaxy, Rin adopted a number of false or modified names to prevent others from tracking her or linking her to her father. She never used the surname “Sakaros”, using variations of “Millenium” when necessary. More often, she simply used a single name, either other variations of Katherine or adjustments of Valadyn. Notable exceptions to this policy of anonymity were Elara D'ovan and the witches of Dathomir, who knew her as Rin, and Keltrayu and Kowrrilop, who both knew her full name, although Rin later erased it from Kowrrilop's memory.
As Queen of the Golden Empire, Rin discarded her surname entirely and simply used “Rin”, feeling that a monosyllabic single name would seat itself more deeply in the unconscious of her followers. Her attempts to get her brother Tariun to follow her lead were unsuccessful, and so many of her subjects assumed they shared a last name. None, however, knew her full name, and Tariun was careful not to use it in public.
As Queen, Rin acquired a number of regnal titles and other styles. Some she gave herself to designate her position in the government, but most were given to her by various species she incorporated into the Empire. She formally bore the style “Her Glorious Imperial Majesty”, although this was most common on ceremonial occasions or written documents. Rin usually preferred simply “Your Majesty”, and those closest to her could usually get away with calling her “My Lady”.
As of 143 ABY, Rin had four hundred eighty-seven formal titles. The so-called “Usual Dozen” were those she used on almost all formal occasions, and were:
- Sovereign and Protector of the Golden Empire
- Master of the Order of Keltrayu
- Commander-in-Chief of the Glorious Armada
- These three were attached to the office of the Sovereign, not to Rin personally
- Conqueror of the Four Tyrants—Rin granted herself this title after the Great Liberation
- Dark Lady of the Sith
- Supreme Lord of Ziost
- Rin assumed these titles in 87 ABY, though she was far enough detached from traditional Sith philosophy that she bore them in name only
- Glistening Dewdrop of the Sacred Flower of Hyssylia—Given by the Rebeyr of Sair
- Lady of Lightning—Given by those she fought with Force lightning
- Daughter of Light and Darkness—Rin gave herself this title, an “inside joke” reference to her Jedi mother and Sith Lord father, though she also liked the air of mystique it suggested to those not in the know
- Daylight of Mandos (“Goddess of the Dawn” when actually on Mandos)
- Arbiter of Sunset and Sunrise—Given somewhat warily by the denizens of Vedros VI after Rin briefly stopped the rotation of their moon in 112 ABY
- The Seer of Destiny—This title developed among the Centurions, and Rin eventually took a liking to it.
Other titles Rin had, which she usually only used on the specific worlds whence they came or in very formal events when all her titles were used, included:
- Slayer of the Mighty Firebird—Rin actually disliked this title because it reminded her of her failure to tame the Phoenix and her need to “resort to” killing it, though she still used it on Abstalia.
- Whose coming was foretold by the Seers of Ufalio—Given by the eponymous Seers on Ufalio, who had predicted Rin's arrival centuries before it happened.
- Avatar of Kejriko—Given by the Ossaki of Feldirjo, who envisioned Rin as the mortal embodiment of Kejriko, the god of death.
- Queen of Kings
- Bringer of Peace and Freedom—Rin was described this way by the Heshoos of Harth Gool after she liberated them from Red Eclipse
- Seneka's Downfall—Rin gave herself this title both to reference her victory over Seneka Yari and to periodically remind herself of what she had done on Dathomir that made the victory necessary in the first place.
- Bane of the Vagaari—Rin acquired this title after the Vagaari War.
- Friend of P'w'ecks—Granted by Kweerikirr after the conclusion of the Ssi-ruuvi Incursion
Aside from her titles, Rin also had a number of epithets which her subjects applied to her. The most common was Rin the Invincible; contrary to popular assumption among her Centurions, the nickname among Royal citizens arose not because of Rin's personal combat proficiency, but because of the seeming inability of her Armada to lose (at least in the long term). Other common epithets included:
- the Conqueror
- the Immortal—Used given Rin's seemingly eternal youth, though full-blood Qua found this epithet amusing.
- the Great
- the Far-Seeing
- the Wise
- the Merciful—Less common than others, but occasionally used by former enemies Rin had conquered but treated mercifully after her victory.
- the Liberator—Mostly used in the former Tetrarchy of Mezlagob by those worlds which had not been sorry to see the Tetrarchy go. The Heshoos of Harth Gool also used this term for Rin.
Behind the scenes
Rin Sakaros is the joint creation of Sakaros and Fermata13. Though this article was written entirely by Sakaros, the development of Rin's character has been a consistently collaborative effort over several years. Fermata13 elected to give the character the name “Katherine”, while Sakaros added the middle name “Valadyn” after his namesake's blood-sister. Both Users created the idea of the character being generally referred to as “Rin”, though it was Sakaros who added that Tak Sakaros would call his daughter “Katie”.
Australian photographer and stock artist Jessica Truscott is the “unofficial official” model for Rin.
While Rin is intended to be (and is depicted as) the most powerful Force user in the galaxy during her time, a Legacy era equivalent of Anakin Skywalker or Revan, both Sakaros and Fermata13 have attempted to portray her powers as extreme while keeping them realistic with regard to canon. As such, the following canon characters and their abilities have been informative influences on Rin's development:
- Battle Meditation—Several sources, but notably Bastila Shan
- Lightsaber combat mastery—Several sources, including Yoda, Anakin and Luke Skywalker, and Mace Windu
- Very specific and precise visions—The Baran Do and Palpatine
- Shatterpoints—Mace Windu
- Linguistic skills, especially extracting languages forcibly—Revan
- Erasing minds—Darth Caedus, specifically his use of a similar power on Ta'a Chume
- Telepathic communication and mind reading in general—Yoda, particularly the line, “See through you, we can”
- Mind control and immobilizing large crowds—Joruus C'baoth
- Erasing memories—Darth Caedus, and by extension the Fallanassi
- Telekinesis—Numerous sources, including the Zeison Sha, Dorsk 81, and Galen Marek (the latter two especially for Rin's briefly halting the rotation of Vedros VI)
- Sever Force—Nomi Sunrider
- The ability to easily overpower even other gifted Force users—Saarai, specifically her defeat of Darth Stryfe
In the mind of her creators, the unique thing about Rin is not that she has such rare powers, but that all of them are concentrated in a single individual. Rin is also envisioned as close to what Anakin Skywalker could have been with absolute mastery over his abilities, prior to his weakening at Mustafar.
I think Rin is a very lonely person.
—Sakaros to Fermata13
Rin has been deliberately depicted with some gaps in her power, notably her inability to perform resurrection despite an interest in the gift, and her ongoing inability to completely suppress her Force signature with Quey'tek meditation, as well as other powers she has not encountered or simply doesn't care about enough to practice, in order to keep her from being all-powerful and good at everything. However, Sakaros and Fermata13 have agreed that Rin's greatest dangers are not from external enemies, but inside herself, and in roleplay and plotting have tried to highlight Rin's personal flaws, such as her rare but destructive explosions of temper and the grief that follows, her long-lasting bitterness over lost loved ones and vendettas, her workaholic mania and inability to admit when she is approaching the limits of her powers, and her general loneliness and isolation from others. In regards to the last, her power itself is sometimes depicted as something of a weakness; while it enables her to accomplish her dreams in ways that no other Force user could, it also serves to separate her from even her family and Centurions who, lacking her level of power, can not see things as she does and thus can obey her, but not really understand her.
|The Sakaros Siblings|