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Black Knight: The Curious Case of Laertia Io

Black Knight: The Curious Case of Laertia Io
By Professor Errik Nimdok, University of Alderaan

OOC: Laertia Io is one of the more intriguing characters currently being written on this board. Since she remains an enigma to many (and because providing context to a character’s actions creates a more coherent and enjoyable experience when writing with them) I agreed (with the cooperation of Io’s writer) to pen this mini biography.

Introduction: Who is Laertia Io?​

I first heard of Laertia Io when she appeared at Coren Starchaser’s conference in the wake of the Elder Compact’s “announcement”. She would go on to attend all three subsequent Jedi meetings held over the fiasco, often accompanied by her lover Syd Celsius, but it was Io who did most of the talking. Scarred, clad in biker leathers, and suffering from a severe speech impediment, she would have left quite an impression even if she hadn’t been the primary voice of dissent at every one of the gatherings, arguing with increasing vehemence for a unified front against the Bryn’adul.

Since then, she has earned a reputation either as a monster comparable to the worst of the Sith, or as a deeply misguided zealot driven mad by the horrors of war. Her ongoing conflict with the GA and NIO began with her support of the Elder Compact, placing her in opposition to all Jedi who refused to ally with the Sith. She dueled Ryv Karis at Dantooine and has been a pariah ever since. But as she has fought and killed Jedi in the ensuing battles after Dantooine, earning condemnation from those whom she once counted herself among, most have seen her as someone who has cropped up only recently. It is as if Miss Io appeared suddenly out of the woodwork purely to serve as a force of chaos, a wild card thrown into the mix to disturb the equilibrium. Some have even suggested that the war against the Sith Empire would’ve been won at an earlier date had her actions not prolonged the inevitable.

But we know that Laertia Io could not have come from nothing. So how did she come to be the Black Knight who muddies the moral waters and taints the name of the Jedi? Here is a very simple answer: Laertia Io is an anomaly. An orphan and misfit since infancy, her life has been a lonely one, filled with endless wandering, never finding a place of belonging. That is not to say that her plight was unique, but unlike most Jedi of her caliber, she was never accepted into the fold of any true enclave or order. There are a variety of different reasons for why she slipped through the cracks—most of which can be blamed on circumstances outside of her control. It may seem cliché and tiresome to characterize someone who has caused so much willful destruction as a “misunderstood loner”, but Io has always been a lone wolf, often unwillingly. After having reviewed Io’s history, it is clear that the seeds of her fall from grace—if indeed she ever was in a state of grace—were planted long before she announced her support of the Compact and killed her first Jedi on Dantooine.

Origins​

Laertia Io was taken as an orphan from the streets of Nar Shaddaa to be trained as a Jedi Shadow. Prior to the beginning of her training, she had already committed murder in the context of gang warfare. The woman who “adopted” her, Ursula Sandraven, operated a sect known as “The Marksmen”. For those of you unfamiliar with the Jedi Shadows, they are, to put it very bluntly, the Jedi equivalent of Sith Inquisitors. It is their purpose to seek out and destroy anything and everything associated with the Sith and their followers. They are the covert crusaders who do the “dirty work” of the Order. As such, Sandraven’s students were taught to despise the Dark Side and show no mercy to the Sith. These youths were molded into skilled, efficient killers, and Io, who already had experience killing, was one of Sandraven’s best students.

Laertia Io not only idolized her teacher, but seemed to view her as a surrogate mother figure. She placed Sandraven on a pedestal and constantly sought her approval. Sandraven responded to this by comparing Io unfavorably to another student, Uri Udinia. In her attempts at impressing Sandraven and proving herself better than Udinia, Io took on increasingly dangerous assignments, culminating in an attack in which she lost her eye, an arm, and suffered a traumatic head injury which resulted in brain damage, affecting her cognitive abilities and causing frequent migraines that must be constantly managed with painkillers and other medical care. After sustaining these injuries, Io received a letter of discharge from the Marksmen.

Technically no longer a Jedi, Io attempted to launch a career as a stage magician (card tricks and other such “magic” was a hobby she had practiced since childhood), which failed. Down on her luck, Io was stunned to receive a letter from Sandraven asking her to retrieve an item and bring it to her former master on Coruscant. Eager to please and hoping this would be the opportunity to reconnect with her former master, Io agreed. What exactly happened next is unknown, but it appeared that Sandraven had been murdered by a Sith Master known as the Amalgam. After this event, Io would find a new purpose: to search the galaxy for her master’s killer and end her. But their encounters, such as a brief violent showdown documented taking place near a casino on Canto Bight, always ended with the Amalgam’s escape. That is, until the two met again on Kar Shian.

There it was revealed that “Jedi Master” Ursula Sandraven was the Amalgam, a Shi’ido Sith Master and cult leader. “Ursula Sandraven” was a false persona created in order to corrupt a generation of students as she molded them into her twisted little soldiers, all while believing they were being trained as Jedi. The revelation of “Sandraven”’s true identity had a profound effect on young Io. The woman whom she had idolized was revealed to be nothing but a construct, a lie. Io’s mission to kill the Amalgam did not change, but her feelings became complicated—and like always, the Amalgam slipped through her grasp.

One point that must be addressed here is whether or not Laertia Io, having been unknowingly trained by a false master, could ever be classified as a Jedi in the first place. I believe the answer to this question is no. Io was deceived into believing she was a Jedi, but she was not. The methods and curriculum she absorbed from Sandraven are automatically suspect, and Io’s actions—seeking revenge, employing brutal tactics, and acting as a lone vigilante—seemingly prove this to be the case. She frequently acted with the authority of a Jedi, such as when she came to the defense of Atrisia while the planet was being bombarded by the Sith Lord Mythos, and she claimed allegiance and loyalty to the Jedi throughout this period of her life, but she frequently didn’t act like one. That isn’t to say that she wasn’t a “perfect Jedi”. There is no such thing as a perfect Jedi. But Io’s failings seemed ingrained, as though she had been improperly taught and either could not or didn’t bother to try and control her violent tendencies as a Jedi should.

Screaming Into a Vacuum: The Elder Compact and Dantooine​

When the Bryn’adul horde’s genocidal invasions became a galactic crisis, Io’s attention shifted away from the Amalgam and she gained a new focus. Fighting to save lives at Yurb and Nar Kreeta, Io witnessed firsthand the brutality of the Bryn and the impotence of the armies fighting them. Her experiences during these battles provided fodder during the Elder Compact conferences, when she argued staunchly for the alliance which would have temporarily united three major factions together to combat the Draelvasier threat. However, it was not to be. Io herself marked the moment she decided to turn on the Jedi as when Coren Starchaser caved under pressure and retracted his support of the Compact, even though he had been tasked with breaking the news to everyone.

Because she had been focused on hunting down the Amalgam, the Compact conferences were the first time most Jedi had ever heard of Laertia Io. Her scattered attempts at providing assistance had previously been ignored or patronized by the Jedi, such as when she brought urgent evidence to Thurion Heavenshield that the Bryn’adul were planning an attack on Midvinter (one that never materialized, possibly due to her info leak) and was rebuked for interrupting a private meeting in the process, as well as for the brutal methods she had employed to obtain the information (torture). Even when her intentions were good, Io stumbled, both in terms of social interactions and being a proper Jedi.

During each of the three conferences, Io butted heads with the Jedi in attendance. The most dramatic moment came during the second, which was held aboard Tribunal Station. Io was accused of disrupting the discussions and asked by Auteme Denko-Durren, acting with the authority of a Marshal, to leave. Angered, Io spat at Auteme before departing. The third conference occurred after the invasion of Dantooine, during which Io and her forces had killed and wounded Jedi and Io herself had dueled with Ryv Karis. Karis, as you will recall, was the one who lead the march upon the Commenor Jedi Temple to demand the Silver Jedi answer for the actions of Io and her comrades during the battle. Io was there only briefly, but she angered many with her presence alone.

Since she encountered little support for the Compact—and her vocal tirades and violence against the Jedi and their affiliates in the wake of Dantooine resulted in them turning their backs on her—Io opted to take matters into her own hands. One of her first actions was to attempt to arrange alliances with other factions and planets, such as the Eternal Empire and Midvinter. When this didn’t work, she constructed her now infamous Neutralizers to combat the Bryn’adul and even made an unholy alliance with the Amalgam and her cult followers in order to teach the Jedi a lesson.

Conclusion​

I will not retread old ground by pointing out all the ways in which Io’s logic behind supporting the Sith is hopelessly flawed. However, allow me to indulge in some brief armchair psychology. Based on what we have established about Laertia Io’s past leading up to this point, do you really think the logic behind her actions particularly matters to this woman? I don’t mean to call her insane, though a strong argument can be made for that as well. Is this conflict simply an extension of her unresolved trauma, blown up to massive proportions? By allying herself with the Amalgam, is she still trying to prove herself worthy to her former master? It would certainly seem that at this point, to interact with her on the field of battle is to participate in a kind of family dispute. She has made her problems everyone else’s problems. The shrieking she does on the Holonet, posting footage of the battlefield carnage, is not merely in poor taste; it is a form of self-therapy, to inflict what has been done to her on the galaxy at large.

That is, if this truly all boils down to her inability to reconcile who she thought her teacher was with who she really was, and by extension the issue of her own identity as a Jedi. For Io, the Draelvasier represent the truly evil threat she was taught to believe the Sith embodied—an image which was shattered by her master’s betrayal. Here at last is the irredeemable enemy she can fight without hesitation. She would certainly not need to question her motives in killing them, or wring her hands over whether she was doing the right thing. All that is needed of her in this war is to be the killer she has always been.

I began this article by asking the reader who Laertia Io was, but now I feel the better question would have been to ask Laertia Io who she was. Her loyalty to the Jedi may have once been unshakeable, but her identity as one of them appears to have always been uncertain. Recently a Sith Lord, Vora Kaar, remarked upon Laertia Io’s actions, particularly the killing of Jedi. “To me, this individual is no longer a Jedi from the codes set forth by these respectable people,” he said. Granted, he is a Sith, but the point he raises is an interesting one. Does merely calling yourself a Jedi make you one, even if you were trained by a Sith in disguise and other Jedi fail to accept you as one of them? I don’t think it’s fair to totally blame Io for the failings and deception of her teacher, or for the flat rejection of her peers prior to Dantooine. But there is a saying that “the child who is not embraced by the village will burn it down to feel its warmth”. I’m afraid that in the curious case of Laertia Io, we are watching as she burns every village she ever passed through in her wanderings and was not embraced by.

Works Cited​

Peace Under a Pale Moon - The first thread Laertia Io was ever in. At this point she is trying to be a stage magician and failing miserably at it.
A Desert Hunt - Maple Harte and Laertia Io along with Alwine Daye have an adventure on Tatooine.
A Gathering in the Light - Early example of Io attending a meeting of Jedi and butting heads.
Sawa Ike vs The Amalgam - Sawa Ike and the Amalgam get into a fight on Canto Bight, killing and injuring numerous civilians in the process. Laertia Io gets involved in the latter third of the battle.
Wrath of the Amalgam, Part One - Laertia and the Amalgam meet on Kar Shian, and the Amalgam's identity is revealed.
Your Undoing - Invasion of Yurb and Keldooine by the Bryn’adul.
Return of the King - Laertia attempts to give Thurion Heavenshield and Elise information on a possible Bryn plot, I think. What I remember most about reading this thread was her interactions with other Jedi and how she didn't fit in despite her eagerness to please/be helpful.
Dragons of Atrisia - Laertia meets her "grandmother" Darth Themis, who identifies as a Light Side Sith. Themis teaches Laertia how to twist the Light and sees visions of the future in which Laertia eventually becomes a Sith.
Fire Rising - Onderon campaign...?
It Will Burn - Nar Kreeta campaign.
Life Over Politics - First conference during Elder Compact arc.
Can't Say I Didn't Warn You, Huh? - Second conference, held on Tribunal Station. Auteme asks Laertia to leave, Laertia disrespects her.
Stand With Me, Stand Against Me, Or Stand Aside - Third and final conference thread.
Strange Alliances - Thurion Heavenshield and Ingrid L'lerim-Vandiir meet with Laertia and co in an attempt to fashion an alliance against the Bryn involving the Eternal Empire.
No Quarter - Dantooine invasion, Laertia duels with Ryv.
Rage Awakened - Invasion of Bastion.
The Other Side of Peace - Invasion of Ziost, Laertia fights a Chiss and flees after the Dark Side wave hits the planet.
A Message to the NJO - From Laertia.
A Message to Laertia Io - From Bernard of Arca.
A Response to Laertia Io and the Jedi Code - From Kaleleon.
Personal Log: The Amalgam - Not public knowledge, but a personal log written by Io.
Crumbling Castle - Invasion of Generis...? Laertia fights Khefiir, very good read.
A Message to the NIO and GA - From Laertia Io.
A Public Response to the Black Knight - From Khefiir.
Musings of the Recent Accounts of Jedi Infighting - Vora Kaar (a Sith) condemns Laertia Io, saying she is no longer a Jedi.
Machines, Raging - Laertia's "mother" Moya Virtu leaves following an argument over Laertia's actions.
Heirs to the Empire - Syd and Laertia fight the NIO at Serenno.
Understanding a Heretic - Laertia Io meets with Nimdok for an interview.
About author
Jacen Nimdok
Me love fiction. Me want to be writer. No get published yet - but will someday.

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This didn't turn out as well as I hoped, but I found the process difficult overall, so I think this is the best it's going to get. I did have it fact-checked before posting by Laertia Io's writer, so there's that.
 

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