The Royal Guard of the Golden Empire was a specialized group of Centurions of the Order of Keltrayu. They served as bodyguards for the Sovereign of the Golden Empire and any beings designated by law or the Sovereign's command.
During the first decades of the Golden Empire, Rin had no formal bodyguards. Her brother Tariun and her apprentice Keltrayu, who were often close to her, were her foremost servants and de facto bodyguards, and she usually kept a contingent of Massassi warriors with her as well. But Tariun and Keltrayu could be sent away on missions (and often were), and the Massassi selected as Rin's guard varied day to day, usually selected at random from the thousands of Massassi that made up her ground forces. When the Order of Keltrayu was first formed, Rin usually kept its Novices close to her when she took them to battle, though this was more for their protection than hers.
After repeated assassination attempts and the death of Keltrayu during the Great Liberation, Tariun Sakaros persistently badgered his sister until she finally conceded and, in 105 ABY, appointed four of the Centurions of the Order as her personal guards, with their foremost duty being protection of Rin's person (as opposed to the other Centurions, who usually executed Rin's various commands at a great distance from her).
As the Order of Keltrayu grew, so did the Guard. When the Guard was first formed, Rin felt only four Centurions could be spared for what she initially viewed as a mainly ceremonial duty. However, by 139 ABY, Rin had come to see the value of having her own personal force of servants always at hand, and with a thousand Centurions, she had appointed twenty-four to her Guard. This number was reduced to eight during the Vagaari War.
At some point, Rin also "avenged" herself on Tariun and appointed some of the Guard to protect him as well, as a Royal Executor; the Sith Lord conceded with bad grace. Both Andromeda Keane and Breek Zagrev (after marrying Tariun in 145 ABY) were afforded Royal Guards; Breek became the first person in history to receive Royal Guard protection after having been a Royal Guard herself. Jasmine Auroras specifically refused protection by Centurions.
In light of the rapid growth of the Royal Family toward the end of the 140s ABY, when Rayne Turgachia and Delliak and Nike Sakaros had all come into the Empire, Rin and her advisors began to debate the appropriate breadth of the Royal Guard's mission. Tarzg Sav'lir was a vocal advocate for every member of the Royal Family receiving Centurion protection, while Tariun Sakaros and others felt it would eventually tie up far too many Centurions and wished to create a non-Force using guard unit to pick up the slack. Rin ultimately sided with Tariun and created the Household Guard, while specifying that the Sovereign and the Phoenix Prince would remain protected by Royal Guards. She proceeded to immediately break her own guideline by leaving Breek Zagrev her Royal Guards.
Organization and philosophy
Selection and service
Unlike the Order of Keltrayu in general, membership in the Royal Guard was at the sole decision of the Sovereign, though Rin often solicited advice from Tariun and occasionally from her other Guards. She could also increase or decrease the size of the Guard at will. Usually, those chosen were experienced Centurions in their mid- to late twenties, who had seen extensive combat and consequently developed both solid fighting abilities and strong danger senses. However, relying on her precognitive gifts, Rin would on occasion choose someone outside this model, such as eighteen-year-old, newly promoted Centurion Jira Seezhli in 139 ABY. Only full Centurions were eligible to become Royal Guards, and those who were married, had children, or were pregnant or had impregnated someone else were not eligible.
Serving in the Royal Guard was almost always a temporary assignment of a few years' duration, though on occasion a Guard would serve for many years, or even his entire career, as in the case of the Royal Guard Tarzg Sav'lir. Given the Guard's primary duty of protecting Royal Family members, being appointed to the unit was considered a great and prestigious honor among Centurions, usually foreshadowing a distinguished career for the Centurion in question. Being constantly at the side of the Sovereign or her foremost Executors also put Royal Guards in a position to observe and learn a great deal about the Empire at its head.
The Royal Guard did not technically report to the Prefect of the Order of Keltrayu, instead answering directly to the Sovereign or whomever they protected. In practice, however, since Tariun Sakaros was both the first Prefect of the Order and a Royal Executor, he still retained influence over most of the Guard. Both Eskol Kaartinen and Aria Nikina usually consulted with Rin on the appointment of new Guards.
Any former Royal Guard could be recalled to duty at any time. Such events included:
- Te`net Organi was reinstated to serve as Nagarian Sakaros's bodyguard during the Wedding of Tariun Sakaros and Breek Zagrev in 145 ABY.
- Vos'elk'eetash was temporarily reinstated in 155 ABY as one of Breek's Royal Guards after Aearbo Manitani was injured in a sparring match with Jinyx Windrunner.
- Luna Raquelsei, Ghess, Jira Zaffrod, and Zeth Kezzerek were all reinstated and sent to protect Jadian Star while she recovered from an assassination attempt in 156 ABY.
Jira was married with two daughters when she was reinstated to protect Jadian, suggesting that the normal requirements for Royal Guards could be waived for those temporarily reinstated.
All Royal Guards were fully trained Centurions of the Order of Keltrayu, but after appointment to the Guard they also received specialized training. Much of this focused around security, such as sweeping for monitoring devices, counter-sabotage, and extensive training in fighting while protecting a charge (rather than the Order proper's usual focus on fighting with the sole goal of defeating the enemy). Royal Guards sparred extensively with their lightsabers and hand-to-hand, and were usually trained in a variety of other weapons, such as vibroblades, blasters, and explosives.
Constant alertness to danger or anything out of place was stressed, and Royal Guards almost always developed hair-trigger danger senses. Since assignment to the Guard was temporary, most Guards were not rotated to the field for long-term missions, but they got their fair share of exposure nonetheless in accompanying Rin, Tariun, or Breek on negotiations or to battles.
Royal Guards received much greater training than normal Centurions in Force Sight, training to spar with blindfolds, or even with irritants deliberately sprayed into their eyes, on the basis that they needed to protect the Sovereign even if temporarily or permanently blinded.
Uniforms and equipment
Royal Guards wore service uniforms nearly identical to those of regular Centurions, except that their green overtunics had black-trimmed green hoods. On dress occasions, Guards wore more distinct white uniforms with padded blue overtunics; silver-trimmed white cloaks with hoods; black belts, boots, and bracers. Their bracers were inlaid with silver and marked with the Royal Standard of the Golden Empire. Both service and dress uniforms were designed for combat utility as well as appearance, though the Royal Guards rarely wore the easily-stained white when combat was even remotely possible.
Openly, Royal Guards were armed only with lightsabers, though they sometimes carried hidden weapons such as small blasters or knives. They rarely wore armor, and when they did it was identical to the kinds worn by other Centurions.
Once a Royal Guard, always a Royal Guard.
—Common Royal Guard expression
The Royal Guard had an absolute loyalty to Rin Sakaros that bordered on fanaticism, more so even than the extreme loyalty exhibited by all Centurions. All would willingly sacrifice their lives for Rin or her family.
Initially, when Tariun and Rin were not in the same location, most Guards would go with one or the other on a rotating basis. However, among the Guard, some developed a certain affinity for serving Rin or Tariun, and were usually kept with their "preferred" charge. This generally came about out of shared interests (a pilot might identify more with Tariun, a future Consul with Rin). However, on occasion Rin would deliberately assign someone to her brother or herself if she wanted the Guard to acquire some particular skill the protectee had; an example was her assigning the eighteen-year-old (and thus largely inexperienced and somewhat naïve) Jira Seezhli to her brother in hopes of Jira picking up some of the Sith Lord's combat skill and gritty street smarts. By the time Breek Zagrev received Guards of her own, the rotating basis had become less common; Zeth Kezzerek and Benzeel Rikos served Breek their entire Guard tours.
Unlike normal Centurions, members of the Royal Guard were not allowed to marry while serving in the Guard, as both Tariun and Rin felt their only focus should be Rin's safety. However, they were still not subject to a chastity requirement, though if a Royal Guard became pregnant or sired a children, he or she would be reassigned out of the Guard.
Royal Guards who served side-by-side often developed extremely close friendships which endured the rest of their lives; examples included Sovi Evnairis and Ghess; Zeth Kezzerek and Benzeel Rikos; Assayr and Vaiyani; and the quartet of Jira Zaffrod, Breek Zagrev, Tamlok, and Khoro`ly`ooho`sh`lyhoo.
In a group of Royal Guards, the one who had been a Guard longest was senior among them, regardless of overall time as a Centurion or age. In the event that a single being needed to command an entire Guard contingent, that senior Guard would act with the authority of a Praetor. An extreme example of this practice was Tarzg Sav'lir. Having dedicated his entire career to protecting Rin Sakaros in the Guard, he eventually acquired the informal title "Chief of the Royal Guard" and took on the responsibility of training new Guards and coordinating protection assignments.
Behind the scenes
The Royal Guards, and especially their devotion to their master, were influenced by several other such groups, including the Imperial and Hapan Royal Guards, the Volturi Guard in the Twilight series, and the Hunters of Artemis in the Percy Jackson & the Olympians series.