Vem was a male Fyaar Centurion and Royal Guard of the Golden Empire. Widely respected by his fellow Centurions for both his warrior skill and his achievements in service, he was among those to bear the title "First Centurion". He was among the Centurions Queen Rin Sakaros trusted most, and enjoyed particularly close relationships with Reiko Kaytana, Azalyn Kass`l, and the royal family of Daispin, serving as Consul of Daispin on behalf of Queen Aria Nikina.
Born on Waldragos in 111 ABY, the same year the planet fell to the forces of the Golden Empire, Vem was the third child and third male born to his family. As a cub, he frequently tagged along with his older brothers, practicing jumping and clawing techniques with an aptitude that seemed to exceed his age. His parents were reluctant to be seen as supportive of the Golden Empire and refused to submit him for examination for the Order of Keltrayu. However, by the time Vem was nine, he was beginning to consciously manipulate his surroundings with the Force and asking why others could not do so. Conceding to his request, they contacted a Praetor-Recruiter of the Order, who examined Vem and determined quickly that he was indeed strong in the Force. Vem's parents grudgingly allowed him to join the Order in 120 ABY.
Already over six feet (1.83 meters) tall when he joined the Order, Vem tended toward an intensely physical and overpowering style of lightsaber combat. Tariun Sakaros fully expected his new pupil to specialize in Djem So. Though capable of battering smaller Novices into submission in practice duels, Vem would still lose to more talented Novices who evaded his ferocious attacks with speed and precision. Rin Sakaros had already had an eye on Vem's training, hoping his membership in the Order would help build trust and ease dissent with the Fyaar. When Vem still had not found a style which satisfied him after four years of training, Rin took him under her wing and taught him Juyo. He also relished training in Var Shek, although as he grew ever larger, eventually only Rin's Massassi would agree to fight him.
Vem became a full Centurion in 134 ABY at the age of twenty-three, and was often dispatched on law enforcement or peacekeeping missions, where his size (he had grown to seven feet (2.13 meters)) and ferocious appearance often inspired his quarry to surrender without a fight. Tariun sent him to hunt down the Horzyx murdered Derzoar Fikk Delthyne on Xyvax, and Vem not only killed Delthyne, but also recruited the Force-sensitive Zorphax Xiekei in the bargain. However, he truly came into his own during the Conquest of the Chiss Ascendancy, participating in most of the ground engagements and often accompanying the victors to receive surrender from the Chiss. Recognizing Vem's achievements and the intimidation value of having him nearby, Rin installed him in the Royal Guard the same year.
Vem served as a Royal Guard for four years, often accompanying Rin herself to meetings with her subordinates or vassals. When he was not performing these duties, he sometimes helped Kieran Sapphire train Novices, using his intimidating experience as a lesson to help them move beyond fear and focus on what needed to be done. When Rin sent four Royal Guards to the Merquise Syndicate in 140 ABY, sensing danger to her brother Nagarian, Vem was among them, along with Jira Seezhli, Breek Zagrev, and Khoro`ly`ooho`sh`lyhoo. Rin felt the normal fourth member of the quartet, Tamlok, was too distraught over his imagined culpability for the capture of Tariun Sakaros at Lebyool to be of use, and she was relying on Vem's awesome physical power and combat skills to counter any dangers. While he and Khoro actually missed the subsequent duel, both were in position to defend Nagarian if it became necessary.
In 141 ABY, at the suggestion of both Tariun and Eskol Kaartinen, Vem was rotated out of the Royal Guard to serve on the front lines of the Vagaari War. When the Ssi-ruuvi Imperium attacked the southern front of the Empire, Vem was assigned as a subordinate Legate under the overall command of Sorrik to lead the counterattack. With Sorrik and Breek Zagrev, he succeeded in repelling the invaders.
Following the defeat of the Ssi-ruuk and the final extermination of the Vagaari species, Rin assigned Vem to a less pleasant task. Over the course of The Tribulation, thirteen Centurions had abandoned their duties and fled the Order, meriting an automatic death sentence. Due to both his detached self-control and his ability to use the Force for hunting and tracking, Rin charged Vem and Rajj-Yo with hunting down and exterminating the traitors from the Order. They succeeded in their mission, although Vem killed only three, with Rajj-Yo killing nine and the thirteenth voluntarily surrendering to Rin and committing suicide.
Defending the prince
Vem continued in law enforcement work for the Empire, but was sent back to Nar Shaddaa in 144 ABY when Rin became aware that the One Sith were targeting Nagarian. It was on Nar Shaddaa that he first encountered Azalyn Kass`l, who took to calling him "Kitty" and of whom he became very fond. Along with Rajj-Yo and Aria Nikina, he helped the Queen's "extended family" fight the Sith Lords who arrived. During a duel in the Entertainment District, he succeeded in killing one of them, but as the catwalk they were standing on began to fracture, another of the Sith attacked Aria. She was already dueling another enemy, and Vem feared the two-on-one fight would be too much for her. As the catwalk collapsed under his feet, Vem grabbed the Twi'lek from behind, dragging her down with him into the darkness and saving Aria from her attack.
Both Vem and the Twi'lek were seriously injured in the fall; Vem broke his left leg, and the shattered bone stuck out of his thigh. He also broke several ribs and fractured one arm. Despite his injuries, he fought on against his equally damaged opponent, finally succeeding in amputating one of the Sith's arms. As the Twi'lek howled, Vem used the last of his strength to impale the Sith Lord through the chest.
Hemorrhaging blood, Vem drifted in and out of consciousness, trying to use a hibernation trance to keep himself alive. He was barely clinging to life when a rescue party led by Rajj-Yo and Odala Van Meer found him and transported him back to the ziggurat for medical attention. Bacta patched up most of his injuries, but though his leg was put back together, it was weakened, and he walked with a painful limp.
Pride and duty
Vem returned to the Empire, but refused a cybernetic prosthetic. He considered his inability to defeat the Sith without injury a personal failure as a warrior, and the suffering he endured as a result the just punishment of that failure. Numerous other Centurions tried to talk him into the surgery without effect.
When Reiko Kaytana and her family visited the Empire in 145 ABY for the Wedding of Tariun Sakaros and Breek Zagrev, Rin asked Reiko to speak to Vem. Reiko herself had long resisted getting a prosthetic replacement for her weak left arm until the arm itself was damaged beyond repair, and since Reiko was also Nagarian's mother, Rin felt she was the only person to whom Vem might listen. Reiko found the Fyaar in the underbelly of the Sith Star. Vem was initially disinterested in her argument despite his respect for her personally, but began to consider the idea when she not only related her personal experience, but pointed out that Vem would be less able to protect Nagarian in the future with his crippled leg.
Unwilling to leave the prince he loved in danger for what he had come to view as pride, Vem finally consented to the operation. His new cybernetic left leg was coated with synthflesh and given artificial fur to match his real leg. He initially experienced difficulty adapting to the limb, and was helped along by the patient guidance of Tillandra Moraes despite his irritability. Once he became used to the limb, Vem recovered his previous skill in lightsaber combat.
Azalyn Kass`l formally joined the Order of Keltrayu in 147 ABY. Whenever he was aboard the Sith Star, Vem stopped in to see her, sometimes helping her with lightsaber basics and other times just visiting with her.
Later in 147 ABY, Vem was sent with Khoro and a small strike force of capital ships to find Axelia Solios, who had gone missing in the Unknown Regions. They at last located her on Kachee and went to the planet together to find her. Instead, they found the Dark Jedi Shalach Hal-Razab, who had taken Axelia and a fellow Imperial Knight prisoner. Both Centurions sensed the Dark Jedi's Force powers were beyond their own and attempted to retreat, but Hal-Razab attacked them with Force lightning. Vem caught the burst on his lightsaber, but Khoro was struck and killed.
Knowing he would do nothing but die too if he attacked, Vem retreated to his ship and returned to the fleet. Leaving ships in orbit as a blockade, he journeyed to the Sith Star, providing the whole story to Rin and Tariun. Vem was deeply embittered over what he perceived as a failure to save or avenge his brother, but Rin agreed that he had done the right thing. Vem was sent back to Kachee along with Aria Nikina to rescue Axelia, while Te`net Organi was added to the mission to kill Hal-Razab. The Fyaar overcame his desire for vengeance and stuck to his duty, liberating Axelia and Tarash Grainer. In the process, he and Aria also recovered Khoro's remains.
Deeply pleased when Organi killed Hal-Razab by smashing a boulder on his face, Vem transported Khoro's remains back to the Sith Star. He was one of the Centurions who accompanied the Wooshlyhee for burial in Keltrayu's Tomb.
In 148 ABY, Rin received a vision of Odala Kass`l and Alluria Solios being held captive by Darth Nihl. Vem was among the Centurions who went to Dromund Kaas to rescue the women, fighting alongside Tarzg Sav'lir inside the Dark Force Temple. The two Centurions succeeded in killing at least a pair of Sith Lords, but though Alluria was saved, Odala died in captivity.
A brokenhearted Azalyn Kass`l was brought to Belsavis to be with her family as they buried Odala. Though surrounded by people who loved her, Azalyn especially sought comfort from Vem, bringing them even closer.
The Nightmare War
Anzatis should have known they were in trouble. Vem used his outside voice. Come, Vem, more bugses to kill!
—Rajj-Yo, after he and Vem saved Tillandra and Rayne from Anzati
When the Reawakened attacked the Empire and began the Nightmare War in 149 ABY, Vem was assigned to assist Noelle in the Defense of Rykar. Given his greater military experience, Vem acted as Noelle's primary tactical advisor and took command of the main force while Noelle coordinated overall defenses within Rykar's capital city. When Tillandra and Rayne Turgachia were attacked by three of the Vyrak Legions, Vem and Rajj-Yo came to their aid. Vem was wounded with a lightsaber blow to the side while briefly dueling two of the Anzati at once, but he kicked one attacker away and defeated the other by seizing its wrists and kicking it with his cybernetic leg; the Anzat's body flew back while its arms remained in Vem's grip. As the clone shrieked in agony on the ground, Vem stomped its chest hard enough to shatter its sternum and spine.
Vem took only a bacta patch for his wound before returning to the field. He sustained a few more mild injuries, but was merely exhausted by the end of the battle. He advised Noelle before she made a speech to Rykar.
During the remainder of the war, Vem served with the Xoquon Sector Fleet. When Te`net Organi contracted the Sickness and had to return to the Sith Star for treatment, Vem replaced him as Praetor, the senior Order member and advisor to Legate Tarse Medrego.
Rin Sakaros: “I'm entrusting her to you. There is no one else to whom I would give an assignment like this. This may be the single most important thing you ever do, in your entire life. Don't let me down.”
Vem: “I will not fail you, my lady. Or her.”
Rin Sakaros: “I know you won't.”
— Vem prepares for his Ufalio assignment
Azalyn continued to experience nightmarish visions of possible futures in the aftermath of the war, and Rin realized the girl needed training specifically tailored to her peculiar skills. Knowing she did not have the time necessary for the task, the queen decided instead to send her to the Seers of Ufalio, a group of Force-sensitives who specialized in prophecy. Since the Seers had little martial training, Rin also sent Vem with her, to be Azalyn's tutor in her Centurion skills, as well as her bodyguard. Both Azalyn and Rin had sensed a formless, undefined danger in the assignment, and Vem pledged to defend the girl at any cost, even his own life.
Azalyn spent long hours with the Seers each day, but Vem also made her exercise, practice lightsaber cadences, and learn to expand her senses, connecting to the Living Force as well as the Unifying Force. They took frequent trips into the forest, where Vem taught his young friend to feel out life signs around them, sorting out dangers from innocent signatures. Though he pushed her hard, the Fyaar also encouraged her in her successes, and they grew ever closer.
During one trip deep into the jungle, Azalyn was stung by one of Ufalio's native insects. The fast-acting venom sent her rapidly into a fevered delirium, and Vem struggled to return her to the Enclave of the Seers. Having lost his comlink during a scuffle with a native predator, he had to run her all the way. The predator had clawed him, but Vem used the Force to drive himself onward, ignoring the pain and the burn of overexerted muscles. When he made it back, the Seers were able to treat Azalyn, but Vem himself was so sick from exhaustion that he needed several days of recovery himself.
Vem and Azalyn spent just over a year on Ufalio, returning to the Sith Star in mid-152 ABY.
Defending the throne
If Aria is alive, find her and find out what happened. If she's not...Find out who is responsible, and kill them.
—Rin gives Vem his orders
In 153 ABY, Syr'ei, Consul and Regent of Aria Nikina's homeworld of Daispin, reported her cousin missing and presumed dead. Rin sent Vem, Kylaea and Malyri Porén, and Kelto Nembask to Daispin to find her. Vem was made a Legate again and given 300 Assault Commandos and 100 Special Environment Division commandos to assist in the search. Though Syr'ei ordered her staff to cooperate, she herself did not meet with the Centurions. Leaving the twins in the capital and sending Kelto and the SEDs into the nearby sea to search, Vem led search parties in the woods, using his Force Tracking skills.
It was this intuition that drew his eye to a flash of reflected sunlight on an island out to sea. Swimming there on a hunch, he was startled to discover Aria—dehydrated, starving, and poisoned, but alive. When Aria accused Syr'ei of plotting her assassination, Vem took her back to the mainland in secret and the Commandos' medic nursed her back to some semblance of health. He also tipped off the Porén twins to Syr'ei's involvement. Though not at all pleased with Aria's plan to confront Syr'ei before she had fully recovered, Vem vowed to support her, and accompanied her back to the capital, calling all his siblings together. With her permission, he severed Aria's long red braid and dipped it in his own blood to give the impression it was the largest chunk of her they could find.
In the face of this "proof", Syr'ei at last admitted the Centurions to her throne room. Vem felt his suspicions confirmed when Syr'ei refused to allow them to keep the braid to test for poisons, and the twins arrived shortly after, dragging along Algan, a Tantaari herbalist and chemist who had supplied the poison. Before they could even force her story out, Aria emerged from a secret passage and challenged Syr'ei to a duel, slaying her in seconds.
Badly weakened by this effort, Aria was forced to enter a healing trance, and Vem took charge of her safety, keeping the first vigil over her during the night while his siblings rested. When he was relieved, he slept until the next evening, awakening in time to find Aria returning to herself and thanking them for their friendship and support.
Vem and Kelto left Daispin shortly after Aria's recovery, but Rin tasked the Fyaar with the study of intersystem economics. Though more than a little confused, Vem had long since learned to take Rin's wisdom on faith, and so he threw himself into the task, spending what free time he had aboard the Sith Star helping Azalyn train. In 154 ABY, he welcomed Aria back to the Order only to discover that she was replacing Eskol Kaartinen as Prefect. Vem himself was sent back to Daispin, this time to serve as its Consul—Rin felt his warrior personality, uncompromising morals, and firm-but-fair leadership style, as well as his close friendship with Aria, were exactly what Daispin needed. With Aria appointed Prefect and Te`net Organi off on an undisclosed mission, there was general acceptance that Vem had become the First Centurion.
In 155 ABY, after the Battle of Renthiv, Breek began to feel out of her depth dealing with her Drakonus apprentice Jinyx Windrunner's animalistic side. She sent Jinyx to Vem, who took her into the palace as a student for a month and helped her come to grips with her nature. As a being of distinctly non-Human instincts as well, he theorized that Jinyx's issues stemmed from having been raised by Humans and humanoids, and thus adopting their view that her natural instincts were somehow wrong or uncivilized. Between ruling Daispin as Consul and hunting the planet's herd animals on all fours with his teeth and claws, Vem showed Jinyx that accepting her animal instincts was not incompatible with being a productive member of a Human-like society. He also helped her hone her Djem So; much taller and stronger than Jinyx, Vem was able to fend off even her most powerful attacks, and she accepted the need to incorporate more speed and style into her swordplay as a result.
In late 156 ABY, Vem took a brief leave of absence as Consul to visit Belsavis to see Nagarian and Reiko. During the trip Reiko confided what she had know from Rin for years—that Reiko herself was slated for death, and that her time was running out. Vem offered to fight beside her against her enemies, but ultimately accepted her decision to face her fate. He vowed to protect Kylar in addition to Nagarian; when Eskol Kaartinen died at the end of 157 ABY and Vem returned to the Sith Star to mourn, the Fyaar made a point of seeking out Kylar and inviting him to visit Daispin. Kylar became a resident of the Royal Palace in Enkhara Na'wen, and Vem often sought to help the boy socialize while nurturing his passion for mechanics.
In 158 ABY, Aria became pregnant with her first daughter, Sonata. At her request, Vem disseminated the news to the people, using his agents to excite the populace about finally having an heir to the throne. Aria journeyed to Daispin to invest her daughter in the Temple of Kazrai and present her to the people, and Vem fought as Sonata's champion in the tournament that followed. During her trip to Daispin, Aria confided her plan to Vem: she would raise Sonata to be a warrior, but at one point would send her to Vem to learn to be a diplomat and ruler, too. Vem accepted her bifurcation of government between them—Aria as head of state, Vem as head of government—with the understanding that they would prepare Sonata to reunite the roles in one person.
Powers and abilities
Like all Centurions, Vem was extensively trained in telekinesis and telepathy, though he preferred the former in engagements, being a predator by nature and a man who relished physical combat. He had some skill at the use of Force lightning, but employed the power infrequently, preferring physical victory. He demonstrated at least a measure of ability at entering a hibernation trance during his fight with the One Sith on Nar Shaddaa.
Tutored by Rin Sakaros personally, Vem became proficient in the use of Form VII, though by the time of the Vagaari War he was still not a full master of the complex discipline. Despite his bulk, Vem could spring into the air with great agility, and he would consequently employ some Djem So and Ataru techniques as well. He was one of the greatest Var Shek artists in the Golden Empire, and not simply because of size; he could usually overcome even the Massassi, who were his own size and sometimes even larger, with superior fighting technique.
Vem usually kept his claws retracted, though he would extend them when frustrated or to intimidate someone. His voice was a deep, growling bass. He spoke Orhyo, Sith, and his native Frall fluently, and was approaching conversational level in Basic, though he tended to speak the latter tongue slowly.
According to Rin Sakaros, Vem was the best hunter in the Order of Keltrayu. He had a natural gift for Force Tracking, honed by training and practice, which allowed him to track sentient targets even when their physical trails had gone cold.
Appearance and personality
2.13 meters (7'0") tall and heavily muscled, Vem towered over nearly everyone he encountered who was not a Massassi. He had fur in shades of gray, white, and black, and wore a double mohawk of longer hair from the crown of his head down to his shoulders. He wore a variation of the standard Order of Keltrayu uniform, removing the sleeves of his tunic and eschewing boots altogether. He carried a lightsaber which, while proportionate to his large paws, was both longer and thicker than a standard weapon and considered enormous by his Human-sized comrades. His weapon had a violet blade.
Vem was stoic and reserved, rarely speaking unless absolutely necessary. Rin Sakaros had no problem with this habit, as the two would simply communicate telepathically, but some of his fellow Centurions found his regular silence unnerving, as did many of his ministers during his reign as Consul of Daispin. Vem was fully conscious of his ability to intimidate smaller sentients, and was not afraid to do so to further the goals of whatever mission he happened to be on. While Vem had relatively few close friends in the Order, he was very close with Aria Nikina. He and Breek Zagrev had a deep-seated mutual respect for another.
Vem had a complex relationship with Rin Sakaros. On one hand, the Sith queen was conscious of the barely-contained mutiny possible among her Fyaar subjects, and used Vem's presence in the Order of Keltrayu as a public relations tool, giving him a public presence on the Royal HoloNet during the war with the Chiss Ascendancy and keeping him at her side in public as a Royal Guard, hoping that the idea of a Fyaar advancing to her right hand would pacify some lingering resistance. On the other hand, Rin had true affection for Vem, and even taught him Juyo, a style she was usually hesitant to share with her disciples given its intense physical and emotional demands.
Vem was fond of Rin's brother Nagarian, like many Centurions, and even closer to Azalyn Kass`l. He endured her calling him "Kitty" with good humor, and was willing to sacrifice his life to protect hers if necessary. He considered Reiko Kaytana a friend, and felt indebted to her for making him see reason and accept a cybernetic replacement for his maimed left leg. After her death, he accepted the responsibility of looking out for Reiko's other son, Kylar Tanake, to the best of his ability.
Behind the scenes
The bravest are the tenderest; the gentlest are the daring.
—from The Marine Officer's Guide by Kenneth Estes
Vem's deep voice and some aspects of his appearance were based on the Cave of Wonders in Disney's Aladdin.