Force Organizations: Knights of Zakuul
By: Jason Deitzel
The Knights of Zakuul were a Force-sensitive order that originated on the planet Zakuul, located somewhere in the Unknown Regions. At some point between the end of the Great Hyperspace War (circa 4,999 BBY) and the Great Galactic War (3,681 BBY), the person that was Valkorion traveled to the forgotten world of Zakuul and used his immense power to unify the warring tribes into the Eternal Empire, creating the Knights of Zakuul.
The Knights of Zakuul, tasked with protecting the Emperor and enforcing justice throughout the empire, were forged from primitive Force-based tribal leaderships; Matriarchs being Force-sensitive political leaders, Champions being Force-sensitive military leaders, and Shamans being Force-sensitive religious/spiritual leaders.
Similar to their contemporary Sith and Jedi, the Knights of Zakuul trained their apprentices at academies, connecting the student with a teacher. Likewise, Knights made up the bulk of the order, and within their ranks were the Honor Guard, the Emperor’s elite personal vanguard. These elite guards were renamed the Horizon Guard when Valkorion’s daughter, Vaylin, took the throne.
Some were able to become Exarchs, cybernetically-enhanced Knights, but the experimental procedure was often fatal, so few achieved it. For those that did, they became military governors to planets or systems the Eternal Empire conquered, ruling on behalf of the Emperor from orbital Star Fortresses.
Another sub-group within the Knights of Zakuul were the Scions. Scions were Knights with a special ability to see Force visions of the future. It is unknown if Scions were akin to the Jedi’s rank of Master, but they did serve a vital role in the direction of the empire. However, when Valkorion’s son Arcann became Emperor, he violently purged the Scions, believing the order and empire became too dependent on their rigid predictions of the future.
The leader of the Knights of Zakuul was the High Justice, answering only to the Emperor. There have been only two known High Justices: Valkorion’s daughter Vaylin before she became Empress, and a human named Yuriem who had been previously executed for profaning the name of the Emperor.
The Knights of Zakuul acknowledged the light side and dark side of the Force but did not hold a rigid dogma to either side. Instead, they viewed the Force, in both its dual natures, as a tool to be used. No areas of the Force were considered off-limits and Knights were encouraged to fully explore their personal connection with the Force and pursue knowledge and power. However, they were expected to share what they had learned in the name of protecting and advancing the order, the empire, and the Emperor, whom they believed to be a direct conduit for their connection to the Force.
The order was heavily militarized, working in close coordination with other military organizations to develop lethal battle tactics. One such battle formation was Zildrog’s Wedge, named after a Zakuulan old god, where Knights would draw on the Force to grab objects and drive them into the battlefield to create barriers for their enemies to be funneled through in order to engage Eternal Empire forces.
As part of their militarization, Knights were taught to craft their armor early in their training. Standard armor was gold in color, with Exarchs’ armor being an upgraded variation in order for them to draw power from Sun Generators powering Star Fortresses. The Knights of Zakuul were unique in that they employed lightsaber pikes and energy shields, possibly allowing for a phalanx formation under heavy artillery. Knights uniformly wielded blue bladed lightsabers – whether standard, pike or staff hilts – and Exarchs wielded orange-bladed lightsabers.
After the Eternal Empire subjugated the Jedi and Sith, and their respective governments, the Knights of Zakuul dutifully fought against the combined Republic and Sith revolt. However, when the Eternal Empire fell and replaced by the Eternal Alliance, the Knights of Zakuul were absorbed into the new entity to continue their role under Alliance leadership.
A splinter group called the Order of Zildrog, angered at the fall of Zakuul’s empire, was formed by former Horizon Guard Vinn Atruis, in hopes he could avenge the plight of Zakuulans. The Order of Zildrog headquartered on Valkorion’s homeworld of Nathema and sought to enact their vengeance on their enemies by utilizing ancient technology abandoned by the extinct Iokath species. Fortunately, their plan was foiled by infiltrators inside the group and the order was destroyed.
The Knights of Zakuul appear in the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMORPG video game, first appearing in the Sacrifice trailer and first being identified in the short story Brothers. Beyond the video game, there is little reference to the fate of the Knights of Zakuul or their surrounding political structure. The order, along with the Eternal Empire and its associated conflicts very well could have faded into the obscurities of time.