- "When you're down there, trying to hold a ditch with half your squad lying around chock-full of blaster holes and a walker headed straight for you, you don't think about morals. You don't think about ideals. The only thing going through your head is what is going on around you, where are the people you need to kill, where is the nearest cover. Down there, we're naked, thinking only about survival, doing everything we can to make it out alive. Some people enjoy it. I get why they do; the thrill, the rush, the blood pumping in your head as you gun down another sap who was in the wrong place at the wrong time... There's something primal about it all. Animalistic. Survival of the fittest. But once it's all over, you head back to base and can't stop thinking about how you've wasted so many lives over some sort of 'strategical resource', or 'tactical asset', or whatever it was you were fighting over down there. And you waste them, because if you don't, they'll waste you. That's the sort of deal you're in. And you know, just know, that the bloke on the opposite side of the field is the exact same sod as you are. Family back home, two kids and a wife, waiting on papa to bring home the cash and tell them about all the glorious battles he's fought. But there ain't no glory in war. Just two sorta organized hordes of people who thought they had nothing to lose, charging each other, praying they're going to be the one to come out on top. And while all of this is going through your head, you fall asleep, trying to push the dying screams and the sound of shelling out of your nightmares. And then you wake up to the sound of the alarm, head outside, and do it all over again. Why? So the other folks back home don't have to. So they can live in some sort of peace."
- — Kalzel Gryjiss ~ Year 17
Kalzel Gryjiss, the first (and insofar only) Lord Protector of the Krath Empire, is a Nautolan allegedly born to a family of small-scale farmers on Glee Anselm, circa Y -10. His early life is shrouded in a cloud of mystery he himself actively fuels by refusing to give clear answers regarding his childhood and adolescent years, claiming that "... his life had really begun once he joined Krath." His military career has been filled with interesting events, most of them revolving around his former commanding officer and overall one of the most impactful people in Kalzel's life, Varro Belle. Naïvely following the would-be traitor and unknowingly taking part in his schemes to destroy the Dynasty, Kalzel quickly found himself disillusioned when he discovered the full breadth and motive of his superior's actions. After a short trip to Krath dungeons, Kalzel prostrated before the concurrent leader of the Krath security apparatus and pledged to make amends for his deeds; a promise he carried out over a year later, by enabling Belle's capture and subsequent execution. During his espionage on Belle, he had adopted the same position of power as his late predecessor, vowing to never repeat the mistakes of the past. Since then, he has been working tirelessly to secure a better future for those he's sworn to protect, even though he had been formally removed from active service. His escapades had led him to make unusual friends along the way, such as the leader of the Shadow Hunters, a member of the Jedi Order and even an esteemed Gree xenoarcheologist.
- 1 Biography
- 2 Personality
- 3 Abilities and Powers
- 4 Allies and companions
Kalzel's homely upbringing was abruptly cut short at the age of 8, when his family had been viciously murdered by a hired gang, as part of an ongoing land grab by one of the local businessmen.The experience proved heavily traumatizing for the young Nautolan, especially so after he'd learned that one of the men had returned to the homestead they'd thought abandoned to torch the place and masquerade the massacre as an unfortunate accident. Leaving his hiding place in the attic, Kalzel had managed to surprise one of the gang members and, in a fit of blind hysteria, killed him. After realizing what had happened, he'd run away from the farm with the intent of leaving everything behind and made his way over to a nearby city, where he joined the lowest ranks of society as one of many forgotten orphans hiding in plain sight.
Being plunged into a world with little to no support from his peers, Kalzel had learned that if he wanted to survive, he'd need to learn fast. Immediately taking to petty crime, he quickly gained renown amidst the underworld of Glee Anselm, demonstrating his skill when it came to pickpocketing, larceny, and, occasionally, armed robbery. After scrounging enough money to leave Glee Anselm for good, he smuggled himself off-planet and began his 16-year journey through the Galaxy. During those times, he went through numerous professions in order to get by, ranging from freighter piloting and ship repairs to more illicit business job prospects such as a bodyguard, bouncer and smuggler. Still coping with the traumatic experiences from his childhood, Kalzel sought refuge in alcohol and ryll, leading him to form an addiction to both. Desperately trying to secure enough money for both standard supplies and drugs, he found himself quickly becoming torn between his inner desire to become a regular denizen of the Galaxy and his urge to quell the ghosts of the past through substance abuse.
Life as a Krath soldier
He was eventually discovered by Chi Koto, a recruiter for the Krath military and introduced to Varro Belle, concurrent commanding officer of the South Fleet. Belle saw Kalzel's unique set of talents, penchant for violence, and lack of self-worth as potential assets and enrolled Kalzel into a highly discretive Project Hellhound, a training program designed to mold its subjects into walking weapons, fully loyal to Belle personally. There, Kalzel was subjected to extreme living conditions, often going for days without food or water, physical and psychological experiments and subliminal suggestions, all with the purpose of brainwashing him into becoming Belle's puppet. Pit fights between inmates were a common occurence, often supported by the staff to determine the subject with most martial prowess. Kalzel's reckless all-in approach carried him out into the 'Furious Five', the top five combatants in the facility. He soon befriended the remaining four members of the group, all of them forming an unwritten truce with each other. Unbeknownst to all, the staff had decided to put the entire group into a battle royale-styled match, wanting to see how the fight between the most renowned fighters would play out. Once in the arena, Kalzel spearheaded the Five and broke through the arena's containment procedures, slaughtering the staff members and freeing the remaining inmates. As his last act of vengeance, he caused a meltdown in the facility, permanently terminating Project Hellhound. Several years later, he would release the remaining files concerning the experiment to the public.
The group split off after leaving the facility, promising to support each other in times of crisis. Of the five, only Kalzel had returned to Belle's service, admitting that despite all its shortcomings, Hellhound had given him an opportunity to get clean. Thus began Kalzel's meteoric rise through the army ranks. Always willing to accept even the most dangerous assignments, Kalzel claimed that he owed his life to Krath and Belle specifically, driving him to fulfill every task at hand. His approach and skill had eventually earned him the rank of Executive Officer; at the time, the second most powerful man in the Fleet, directly at Belle's right hand.
Betrayal and the Dynastic crisis
It was then that Belle had started planning his treachery and started establishing contact with the Imperial Union. Easily fooling Kalzel into believing that Talak Kasra, the commander of Krath military at the time, was actually an Imperial spy in disguise, Belle was able to strike a devastating blow to Krath Dynasty in an event known as the Black Sunday. Kalzel, who was at the time present on Nar Shaddaa as part of a classified undercover operation, was quickly brought forward for questioning after his return. Eventually realizing Belle's true intentions and the scope of his involvement, Kalzel caved in and agreed to work with Kasra on securing Belle and forcing him to pay for his crimes. Maintaining his cover as Belle's inside man in Krath, Kalzel began working as a double agent, feeding Belle false information and working on pinpointing his location. After several months of arduous work by the Dynasty and the Galactic Alliance, Belle was finally captured and brought to Shesharile, where he would later be publically executed as part of the Dynasty's reformation into an Empire.
Now the Lord Protector of Krath, Kalzel was tasked with bringing the military back from the brink and into fighting shape again. Partnering with his Ori'ramikade counterpart, Cuyan Hulo, they had reformed the military curriculum from the ground up, offering bigger flexibility and ensuring that Black Sunday would not repeat itself. Still trying to dispel Belle's shadow looming over him, Kalzel had travelled to Askaj in person, where a rebellion was taking place due to a supply shortage caused by the Dynasty's failing statecraft. During a planetside skirmish, he'd sustained a critical wound that cost him his right arm. After pacifying the revolution, Kalzel was forced to take a more indirect approach to battle thanks to his newfound impairment, resulting in the degradation of his physical condition and combat aptitude. In late Y18, he'd struck a deal with one of his acquaintances, Spree Razzix, and had a custom cybernetic arm installed to replace his lost one.
The Grand Convent
In the third quarter of Year 19, the Order of Krath put forward an announcement, that it would be holding a 'Grand Convent of Faith', inviting all Krath sects and cults to take part in a massive synod. The aim of the debate was to establish a definite canon for the eons-old Krath religion. The Convent was ultimately a success, delivering a newly-codified version of Krath theocratic principles a month later. During the closing summary held at Shesharile, Kalzel had formally declared that he would be stepping down his position as Lord Protector, moving into seclusion with a small circle of his closest allies. It is currently unknown just what is he up to, although he has made it known that he remains allied with the Krath Empire.
To those that met him, Kalzel tries to act amicably, keeping things at the lowest amount of formality possible. His history led to him adopting a cut-the-chatter, no-nonsense manner of speech and behavior when resolving business-related situations. In private, he's rumored to be far more relaxed and easygoing, sharpening his wit and tongue at every possible opportunity. On several occasions, he demonstrated his violent tendencies, some of which led to his temporary suspension and imprisonment by the Krath army. Time and time again, he's shown a nigh-absolute disregard of de jure authority, often placing him at odds with his former peers from the diplomatic sphere of highest Krath echelons. Instead, he perceives the Galaxy on a strongly individualistic basis, preferring to judge different characters by their respective actions, rather than categorizing them by their collective affiliations. He's crusaded for the increase of personal freedoms in the Krath Empire, voicing his opinions in favor of secularism during the Krath Theocracy debate. Another key facet of his personality is dilligence and borderline workoholicism; he's been known to have accumulated more than twelve hours of worktime daily on average, with some figures even putting his output as high as 16 hours daily for months at a time. With the induction of Elis Genve into his team, he's been shown to ease off his workload, instead dedicating the majority of his paperwork to his newfound secretary.
Kalzel describes his religious affiliation as "Informal Krath". He is technically an Initiate of the Order of Krath, albeit when asked about his reasons for joining, he claims he only joined, because the robes were comfortable. He's been known to attend most of the Krath annual holiday celebrations, but his duties and own lack of zeal prevent him from pursuing religious matters further. He retains an agnostic viewpoint on the matter of Krath's role and status, unwilling to make an uninformed opinion. However, he claims that if Krath is real, she would probably be female. He treats all organized religions (Krath included) with an amount of ridicule directly proportional to the particular church's perceived religious authority. On a number of occassions he's spoken up against the Zhell, arguing that their "pompous arrogance ain't helping nobody who's not looking for a good joke."
Kalzel harbors an active resentment towards both the Sith and the Jedi Order, the former because their ideology promotes self-indulgence at the expense of others and the latter because he finds them too uncaring for the issues of the Galaxy, saying that their Code promotes apathy and indifference towards those in need of help.
Abilities and Powers
Over the course of his lifetime, Kalzel has acquired a diverse set of skills and abilities in a multitude of different fields. He is a naturally fast learner and a keen observer, often able to think outside the box, a talent that has proven useful during his time leading the troops. His lack of formal education at a young age has allowed him to develop in different areas, most notably hand-to-hand combat and acrobatics, both of which he utilized heavily during his youth. His natural strength and agility coupled with quick wits and a heavy dose of bravado have allowed him to easily navigate most environments that would prove lethal for the ordinary citizen. This natural affinity for physical activities and combat translated well into his military career, securing him respect among his fellow soldiers and later his subordinates.
Equipment and Possessions
Despite his status within the Krath, Kalzel has accumulated a surprisingly small amount of material wealth. Ever since having been granted the title of Lord Protector, he's become one of the Empire's most renowned philantropes, donating the majority of his salaries towards charities, upstart artists and contributing to several major universities across the Southern Rim. However, he keeps a small retinue of soldiers and droids at the ready, as well as a personal fleet of his own, its flagship being the Dreadnaught-class heavy cruiser KMS Krathmas.
Having received a commemorative suit of heavy battle armor to befit his new title, Kalzel has made it a point to wear it as little as possible, often searching for legal loopholes that would allow him to forgo the use of the armor set even during official events, much to the annoyance of Krath's diplomatic corps. Instead, he's become very fond of his initiate robes, oftentimes praising the demicot apparel for its durability, style, and the level of comfort it provides.
During what little time he spends off-service, he has been shown to adopt an outfit matching most spacers; usually a jacket of sorts, long cargo pants and a belt usually housing a blaster and multiple pockets. He prefers comfort and practicality over style, often patching his worn pieces of equipment to prolong their lifetime.
Allies and companions
- "I don't know if I can help every single person in need out there. Well, to be honest, I think that deep down I know I can't. But that doesn't mean I'm not going to try."
- — Elis Genve about her decision to pursue a career in medical psychology and psychotherapy
Elis Genve is the most recently added member of Kalzel's entourage and arguably the most prominent. A young xenopsychiatrist born to and raised by a merchant family on Zeltros, Elis soon found herself a pariah among her peers, due to her unstoppable lust for knowledge and a great interest in the sciences. Instead of spending her youth in search of entertainment and carefree abandon of responsibility, she dedicated most of her free time to reading, studying and training her very capable mind. Her self-imposed austerity caused a great deal of worry for her parents, most of which was resolved once Elis would declare her decision to leave her homeworld due to receiving a positive response to her applications to several major bodies of education across the Galaxy. For better or for worse, she had selected the Antar University of Xenology as her potential alma mater. After six years of study, Elis graduated with flying colors, her most notable accomplishments being in the field of Xenopsychotherapy. Her sharp mind, unique physiology, and pheromone manipulation abilities enabled her to make great progress with many patients previously considered beyond help. Soon after her graduation, she received a job offer directly from the office of Lord Protector of Krath, much to her surprise. Reluctantly accepting, she was relocated to Shesharile and offered the position of Kalzel's Head Secretary.
Once she accepted, Elis has taken on the responsibility of handling the vast majority of the bureaucracy passing through Kalzel's office.
Cheerful and empathetic, Elis often finds herself struggling with her cultural heritage, seeking to mend people in other ways than just allowing them to indulge in their vices. Timid by nature, she's been ostracized somewhat by her contemporaries for preferring the company of books to the company of people. Ever since moving away from Zeltros, she'd been able to fit in better, allowing her introvertial nature to flourish in the academic environment of the AUX campus. Fitting her chosen profession, she generally tries to maintain a friendly hospitable demeanor, putting the needs of others above her own. She follows the belief that if she can't be friendly, she will at the very least be professional.
In those rare moments when she isn't working, she spends the majority of her free time on scholarly pastimes, be it reading, mental exercises, or collaborating with other scientists on various medical projects.
A trained medicus, Elis has undergone extensive training in both field medicine and therapy. Gifted with a considerable amount of intellect and sharp wit, she's been heralded as a prodigy in the field of psychotherapy, oftentimes utilizing her pheromone manipulation abilities in addition to more conventional methods to develop a completely new set of therapies with outstanding results. Her time with books also allowed her to gain a large amount of theoretical knowledge on a wide range of topics, from slicing, through military, to economics.
Her official duties with the Krath fleet have broadened her political awareness and forced her into developing her acuity in the field of management and military strategy.
Furious Five is the unofficial nickname for the temporary alliance between Kalzel Gryjiss and four of his companions as per their consignment to the Project Hellhound facilities. The name stems from the facility's training and conditioning program, which placed a heavy emphasis on absolute discipline enforced by draconic punishments, as well as suppression of empathy promoted by constant in-fighting between inmates as they scrounged for food and resources needed for survival. The most common (and the most dangerous) way to obtain additional supplies and goods was to participate in the impromptu arena set up by the staff to facilitate fights to the death between selected inmates in order to hone their combat skills as well as remove those 'unfit to continue training'. Over time, the arena became a source of entertainment for all participants of Hellhound, with a betting system being put into place. The top five combatants at any given time were known as the Furious Five. In the light of the events that led to the shutdown of the facility, as well as their newly formed bond, the last five holders of the title took it to themselves to use it as a memento of their time spent together.
The origin story of Boo-sei Mask is unclear at best. Even a priori to joining Hellhound, his track record has been meticulously scrubbed clean of any potentially incriminating details. Allegedly an assassin for hire, he'd been tasked with inhuming a high-ranking Krath official as part of his rival's machinations to seize more political power for his own. Unbeknownst to Boo-Sei, his mark was let in on the details of his scheduled demise and devised a counter-ambush, which led to the subsequent capture of the Gran hitman. Boo-sei was given a simple choice: Accept a well-paid contract on behalf of the Krath Dynasty and become an intelligence operative, or be executed for his crimes. He chose the former.
In order to purge any unwanted traits, he'd immediately been relocated to the Hellhound facility as a prime candidate for "neural resocialization"; a process intended to turn him into a killing machine without remorse. Although only partially successful, the treatment left Boo-Sei with a cold, calculating mind operating on par with an advanced computer, further amplifying his already considerable combat prowess. He'd become a mainstay in the Furious Five thanks to his uncontested dominance across all the shooting ranges the Hellhound facility had to offer.
Heralding from a middle-class family of a Duros droid salesman, K'un had been born with two defining traits: a passion for music and a complete lack of any musical talent. Ever since the days of his youth, he'd explored the streets of his home town, combing it for street buskers, musical performances, and concerts. His dream was to one day become a musician himself, but despite his parents' support, he'd been unable to find a teacher willing to mentor him for more than one lesson. His complete lack of musical aptitude contrasted starkly with his appreciation for the music arts, both local and foreign. He'd tried a wide range of instruments and failed miserably each and every time, eventually turning to drink in order to soothe his ravaged soul. Soon, he'd raked up a debt across all bars in town and his family had distanced themselves from him, leading to his life spiraling even further out of control.
In order to fund his addiction, K'un turned to gambling, a discipline he became surprisingly apt at. What his brain couldn't handle in terms of music, it made up for completely when it came to Pazaak, Sabacc, and Tregald. His income was more than enough to cover his alcohol expenses, but it came at a price; soon, the individual casinos started noticing his high win rates and forbade him from entry. Struggling to make ends meet once again, K'un turned to a life of crime, employing his analytical skills as an upstart slicer.
After pulling off a particularly tricky heist, K'un found himself visited by an agent of the Dynasty, seeking to employ his talents for the benefit of Krath. Eager to secure a guaranteed source of income once more, K'un allowed himself to be drafted. What followed was the worst three months in his life; instead of the regular service he'd been promised, he was hauled to Hellhound's cryptoanalytical division. Only through sheer luck had he become the fifth top combatant of the local arena, earning him some degree of respect among his peers as a member of the Furious Five. The rest of the cast quickly warmed up to his ever-gregarious behavior, some of which he managed to retain even despite the brutal conditions they were put under.
It is unknown who Tick is, where he came from, or how he entered Project Hellhound; all that is known is his muteness and his incredible affinity for explosives. His talents stretch beyond the professional interests and capabilities of some of the most skilled bomb-makers in the Galaxy, as Tick has displayed the capability to turn just about anything into a cloud of fire and smoke. His name shrouded in mystery, he had been given the nickname 'Tick' by K'un, in reference to the constant sound of ticking that could be heard when the Jawa was in close proximity. He devotes the majority of his free time towards studying and developing new kinds of bombs, satchel charges and detonators.
Standing at a respectable 2,30 metres in height, Hassk is the heavy artillery Abyssin of the group. His background files from Hellhound show he'd been a Hutt-owned slave, put to work in meleenium mines thanks to his incredible strength and durability. Once bought out by the Dynasty, he'd been the first of the group to reach the echelon of Furious Five, thanks to his unrivaled power and brutality in the ring. Being one of the few fighters never to enter the arena with a weapon, he instead relied on his body alone to wreck whatever challenge he was poised with. His track record boasts an impressive display of seventy-two wins and one tie, during his fight against 'Specimen N-2438', a newcomer Nautolan that would later grow to be his best friend. The fight was to last seven hours after which both participants passed out from exhaustion.