Niarra Reymark: Born to a Jedi mother, Niarra has been with the Jedi Order since birth. She is an accomplished diplomat and a healer, familiar with both Force techniques for healing and other holistic approaches. As a canny negotiator, equally at home in political or philosophical debate, she is more frequently to be found in negotiating chambers rather than on the battlefield, though no less critical in her contribution to events.
Niarra Reymark is half Human, but this is not easily seen in her physical appearance. Genetic records indicate that somewhere in her Human father's ancestry Mirialan blood was also mixed in, and the dominant Mirialan coloring has certainly shone through in Niarra. Her hair is black with a grayish cast to it, the most obvious physical trait inherited from her father. She is of moderate height, and physically fit as most Jedi are, although not overtly athletic in build. She acquired her facial tattoos in her late teens and early twenties, as part of an effort to learn more about Mirialan culture, although it is not a culture she was raised in. The tattoos on chin, forehead, and cheeks symbolize her accomplishments in speech (as a diplomat), study (as a scholar), and balance (as a Jedi) respectively.
Birth, Family, and Childhood
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Niarra's first memories are of the Jedi Enclave on Caamas where she was born and raised; a lovely, secluded complex with a long history, surrounded by natural beauty.
Her Mirialan mother, Trinnal Rindaa, was a Jedi herself, and Niarra learned some of her mother's history early on. As an older Padawan, an impulsive and passionate Trinnal questioned some of the Order's teachings, and ultimately followed her heart to elope with a Human male she believed she had fallen in love with. She lived as his wife for two years, but in that time came to realize that she had been mistaken to leave the Order; though her husband had been loving and kind, ironically it was precisely the experience of life outside of the Order which taught Trinnal to see the value of the Code in the life of a Force-user. She left her husband and returned to the Order, and shortly after doing so discovered that she was pregnant. When the girl child was born and revealed as strongly Force-sensitive, Trinnal gave her child up to the Order to be communally raised, destined from birth to be a Jedi.
Trinnal came in and out of Niarra's life through most of Niarra's childhood, but never more than temporary visits or stays. There was love there, but Trinnal had come around to a much greater acceptance of the Code, and never sought to bind her daughter to her in a relationship that might supercede her relationship with the Order as a whole. Trinnal did not reveal much to Niarra about her brief years of marriage and time away from the Order, but she did tell Niarra that her father had been a good man, and that she had given Niarra her father's surname as a means of honoring his memory. Niarra, rather serene and accepting by nature, and steeped from birth in Jedi teachings, accepted these tidbits as all the information she needed, and never sought to dig more deeply into a history she considered not to be her own.
When Niarra was 10 years old, she received word that her mother had died on a mission, shortly after Trinnal had finally earned her Knightood. Niarra received this as sad news, but as her relationship with her mother had been more akin to one with a special friend or mentor rather than a parent figure, it did not create a great hole in her life. She proceeded with her life as a youngling and student of the Order, quickly at peace with the loss and content in her feeling that she remained as welcomed and cared for as she ever had been.
Her childhood on Caamas was idyllic. A lush and temperate world with a strong culture of pacifism and philosophical thinking, Caamas had been a favored retreat for the Jedi for thousands of years, and it was one of few Core worlds that remained safely overlooked as strategically insignifcant for most of the Great War. Legends claim that the ancient Jedi, at the birth of their Order, came to Caamas to take lessons in ethics and philosophy from the Caamasi, and the Jedi maintain a presence there to this day. Niarra learned Caamasi philosophy alongside traditional Jedi teachings, taking lessons from Caamasi institutions outside of the Enclave as well as from the Jedi teachers in residence. She learned a deep appreciation for nature from her childhood years spent exposed to the Enclave's nearby natural wonders, and in fact was frequently found wandering away from her lessons to dally in the forests for days at a time, so at peace with her surroundings that it would take her teachers a long time to distinguish her serene presence from the natural workings of the environs.
Her natural gifts for philosophy and for healing became evident early in her life. She began to study under the Jedi Healers at the age of 12, and became a student teacher in philosophy and politics at the age of 17, while still a Padawan. Conversely, in physical skills such as lightsaber combat she never placed higher than the middle of her class. She applied herself diligently enough to physical lessons to become competent, if never an expert, and her reliance on her strong Force instincts helped her to supplement a lack of physical prowess with good intuition and foresight. Her teachers deemed her sufficiently trained in the physical aspects of a Jedi's life to enter into Knighthood with confidence, but it was always clear to everyone, including to Niarra herself, that she would be best applied to diplomacy and healing in the service of the Order and the Republic, not on the frontlines of battle.
Knighthood and the Great War
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Niarra began her official time as Padawan learner to a dedicated Master at the age of 17, later than many Padawans. She had been a fixture at the Caamas Enclave for all of her life until that point, a student under many teachers, and a student teacher herself. Although she had joined Jedi teams on missions off-world throughout her adolescence, the ever-deepening war, as it dragged on through the long years, meant that many Knights and Masters were too engaged on the front lines to feel a sense of urgency in taking a student who was flourishing well where she was, and whose gifts were not best suited to battle.
It was as the war entered its second decade that the Republic began to put forward many new and desperate diplomatic efforts to bring non-Republic worlds into the fold, hoping to convince them to assist with providing war resources and safe havens for Republic troops and transports. In this effort Niarra could shine, and celebrated Jedi diplomat Kii-Sen Falla (one of the historically very few Zeltron in the Order) took Niarra as a Padawan in the 20th year of the Great War.
For the next five years Niarra traveled extensively with Master Falla, to worlds not yet touched by the war and to worlds already ravaged by it. These five years were an eye-opening educational experience, introducing her to personalities, cultures, and social strata her Enclave upbringing had not previously exposed her to. In this time she also learned to appreciate that Jedi could be of many varied temperaments and still adhere to the Code, a lesson learned from Master Falla, whose Zeltron gregariousness predisposed her to a greater degree of flamboyance or "excess," and to a wide range of friendships outside of the Order. Under Master Falla's guidance Niarra learned that what was at a person's core mattered more than any exterior show, and that this was just as true for Jedi as with anyone else.
With the war raging, nowhere was truly safe, and Niarra and Master Falla were caught up in many skirmishes and battles, and the occasional covert operation, in their years together - but far fewer than fell to most Jedi Knights in the same time period. Even when the Jedi were spread too thin to help on all the battlefields the war presented, Master Falla's diplomatic efforts were considered too vital to pull her or her Padawan from their negotiating efforts. From planet to planet they would broker deals, treaties, trade agreements, and sometimes peace between fractured cultures whose only hope to survive the war was to unite.
In later years Niarra revealed to the Order that Master Falla had privately expressed her intention to grant Niarra her Knighthood only three years into her apprenticeship, when Niarra was 20. But Niarra convinced Master Falla not to put her forward, because she knew that would mean they could be separated by battle assignments, and Niarra believed strongly that Master Falla needed a partner to successfully continue their diplomatic efforts. Master Falla agreed, and with this quiet arrangement between them they proceeded as Master and Padawan for another two years. By the time it came to light, the infraction was deemed small enough, in the grand scheme of circumstances, that no disciplinary action was taken - and indeed, could not have been brought against Master Falla in any case, due to later events.
In the 26th year of the war, with the Republic at its most desperate and the outlook most bleak, a surprise Imperial offensive against the planet Iktotch caught Niarra and her Master in the midst of a negotiation to bring a monastic group of Iktotchi pre-cognitives into the war effort. Many Iktotchi cities surrendered quickly to avoid bombardment, but a strong resistance arose quickly in smaller cities and more rural areas, with many people fleeing into the mountains and wildernesses and setting up refugee settlements in the hope of avoiding the Imperial presence in the cities. The Iktotchi had no way to know that the Empire never intended to stay more than a few standard months on Iktotch; the assault on the planet was meant to divide Republic forces in the sector, prying them away from other more critical targets. The Iktotchi could only assume that their planet, like so many others, was about to fall permanently under Imperial control, and they wasted no time organizing their resistance.
Master Falla was killed only six days into the Imperial occupation of Iktotch, helping refugees flee from an Imperial attack on an Iktotchi naval outpost to which they had come for shelter. Niarra completed the task, leading the survivors into the wilderness, and eventually guiding them to join the resistance. For the next two months Niarra moved with the refugees and the resistance, assisting in maintaining some semblance of civil order among the refugees, mediating disputes, bringing resistance groups together, and protecting the civilians in battle when required. She would often join resistance raids, particularly those intended to recover supplies for the refugee camps, but while her contributions in battle were undoubtedly valued, all recognized that her greatest service was to calm, soothe, and help to unite people in a desperate situation.
When the Empire abandoned Iktotch less than three months after taking it and Republic forces moved in to fortify the planet, Niarra was relieved by other Jedi and shipped off to Coruscant to recover. She was Knighted one week later, at the end of a ceremony in which she interred Master Falla's lightsaber in the Jedi Temple to rest alongside the relics and mementos of too many fallen Jedi whose bodies could never be recovered from the battlefields. Less than two years later, these shrines would be destroyed in the Sacking of Coruscant and the destruction of the Jedi Temple.
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Five years after her Knighthood (three years into the Cold War), Niarra took on a Padawan learner: a young Duros boy named Rundil Ogali. Rundil was outgoing and quick to friendly mischief, traits which Niarra was well suited to endure and curtail when needed, due to her serene patience and her experiences with her former Master. Rundil had a keen mind for technology and tinkering, and was convinced that his Duros genes would make him an inherently good pilot despite ample evidence to the contrary.
Although Niarra was young to take a Padawan, with the prime of an entire Jedi generation lost in the War many younger Knights had to step forward and take the next generation under their guidance. What may have seemed like a mismatch from an outside perspective ended up being an excellent match. Niarra was well suited to guiding Rundil into a greater appreciation of the Living Force, nature, and sensitivity to other living beings and their needs. Rundil, in turn, challenged Niarra to view things through a different lens, and to find deeper truths in Jedi philosophy in her efforts to teach them in a way that would speak more clearly to an impatient, technologically minded boy.
Tragically, their time together was not to last. After only five years, long before Rundil would have been ready for his Knighthood, he was killed by a swoop gang in the lower levels of Coruscant while attempting to defend a caravan of relief supplies headed to the lowest slums during the years of Coruscant's reconstruction. Niarra struggled with guilt over not having foreseen that the routine mission was destined for trouble, and for not arriving to reinforce her Padawan in time. This was the first time in her life that she had questioned her faith in her own instincts, the Force, and the ability of Jedi tenets to heal a heart. She did eventually work through it, and now looks back on this time as her greatest lesson and period of self-growth.
After Rundil's death, Niarra dedicated herself to teaching at both the Caamas Enclave, and many other Enclaves throughout the galaxy, including at the newly established headquarters of the Order on Tython. She authored many extensive works on history, philosophy, and training for new diplomats and scholars. Her own work as a diplomat and negotiator continued, and she took multiple missions at the behest of the Senate, or at the request of parties or worlds that petitioned the Jedi directly for assistance.
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Her most high profile mission success during the Cold War involved direct negotiations with the Empire around the status of Dereygon, a planet right on the edge of the border delineated in the Treaty of Coruscant, and which the Empire had initially claimed. In exchange for the Republic's relinquishing of control over a key hyperspace route in the sector, the Empire ceded Dereygon back to the Republic. From the Republic's perspective, this was primarily a victory of principle and PR, proving that the Republic could still "rescue" worlds which remained true to it, and a key political maneuver for certain Senate luminaries of the time. For Niarra, it was a more personal and "human" victory, freeing the population of a planet that had repeatedly voted and fought to be liberated from Imperial rule.
It was after the Dereygon negotiations (nearly a decade into the Cold War) that Niarra was granted the rank of Jedi Master, for her contributions to the Order as a diplomat, teacher, and scholar. She is not alone in her generation of Jedi to be granted a Master's rank despite not having successfully trained an apprentice to Knighthood, but though she has not ruled out the possibility of taking another Padawan in future it is not currently in her plans.
Talravin Retreat and the Eternal Empire
Shortly before the destruction of the planet Ziost, Niarra was tasked with a mediating mission on the planet Talravin. As the sole habitable planet of a relatively obscure system with no significant exports, not even Talravin's position in the Core Worlds was enough to leave a mark on the galactic stage. Even in the Jedi archives its only entry of note was as the homeworld of the famous Jedi Bastila Shan. But despite its small galactic footprint, many who visit Talravin feel it is an overlooked and forgotten jewel of a world - lush and vibrant, with oceans of a distinct crystalline green hue, and abundantly diverse wildlife. Niarra was struck by its beauty, and spent some leisure time there after her mission to explore ancient ruins long abandoned as too remote, by conservationists and government both.
When she returned to Tython, Niarra suggested that the Order petition the government of Talravin for permission to convert the ruins into a small Jedi Enclave, citing both its remote location and the surrounding abundance of natural wildlife as key points in its favor; Jedi could retreat there to study, meditate, or recover from battle or trauma, in a quiet location strong in the living Force. After an examination of the site the Order agreed with her assessment; they submitted their petition to the Talravin government, and were easily and quickly approved on the grounds that the retreat would need to be entirely self-sufficient. As the Jedi Master to have suggested the location, Niarra was asked if she would oversee the restoration and construction of the retreat, and she readily agreed.
Construction efforts were slow, which was not initially of great concern. When the Eternal Empire began its attacks against the Republic all able bodied Jedi were needed elsewhere, Niarra included, and work on the Talravin retreat was left half-finished, with few in the Order aware that the project had begun at all. As matters quickly and catastrophically deteriorated under Zakuul's continuing invasion, and more and more Jedi were left severely wounded, Niarra began to use the Talravin retreat as an emergency stop-over for all Jedi she could manage to direct there. Faced now with an urgent need to stock the location for emergency treatment, she turned to her half-brother Derrad Reymark - a man of considerable independent wealth and resources - and he assisted in supplying her with the materiel she needed to resume construction and bring in the needed supplies.
When it became clear, with horrifying speed, the toll that Zakuul's invasion was taking on the Jedi Order, Niarra realized that the relative invisibility of her Talravin Enclave project (due to its small scale) might have been a boon in disguise; it meant that few people even within the Order knew of the retreat's location, and that outside of the Order it was effectively entirely unknown. Even as the Jedi Order broke and scattered, she hoped that the Talravin compound could serve as a safe haven for survivors to gather, rally, train, and heal. She leaned again on her brother's assistance with ships and finances to make forays to Tython and acquire as many artifacts, furnishings, and records as she could, moving them to Talravin for safe keeping.
Now, five years after Zakuul's first explosion onto the galactic stage, the Talravin retreat is fully constructed. It is an echo, a small preserved bubble, of the peace and elegance of less troubled times. Niarra runs the retreat with the full cooperation of her brother who, though not a Jedi himself, supports the remnants of the Order with all the means at his disposal. Together they hope to locate Jedi in need of a home, gathering Jedi both new and old in a safe place where they can train, heal, and plan how best to contribute to ongoing (secret) resistance against the Empire of Zakuul.
In many ways, Niarra is an exemplar of Jedi serenity and compassion. She has an open heart, and is very slow to judgment. She believes strongly in analyzing a thing - person, situation, or concept - from many angles, and works hard to avoid assumptions and to be open to new ideas and lessons.
But despite this, she is far from naive or idealistic; a long career in politics has exposed to her to some of the most duplicitous, cynical, and manipulative personalities and schemes in the galaxy, and she recognizes these as elements of reality the understanding of which are key to any negotiator's success. Her experiences with personalities of this type, both malicious and of the more simply venal and self-serving variety, have taught her a respect for those outside of the Order that others might find perplexing. She does not have to admire or accept their goals in order to recognize the sharpness of their intellect and skills in their own spheres. Challenges in negotiation always serve to remind her that the galaxy is full of competent individuals who cannot touch the Force, but who are still influential and accomplished, and whose minds, hearts, and goals must be acknowledged.
Niarra is gentle and friendly in demeanor, and she is quick to extend a helping hand or offer a sympathetic ear. She is equally quick to subtle expressions of humor, though this is sometimes subtle enough to be entirely lost on more straight-forward personalities. She is likely to try to introduce warmth and a gentle smile into a dark situation as a means to defuse tension.
In fact, Niarra's serene presentation is so perfect, that even Jedi who have known her long and well have rarely, if ever, seen any cracks in it. A cynical observer might question whether or not this is a mask over less composed internal struggles, but if that is true then none yet claim to have seen what lies beneath.
- Diplomat and Negotiator - Niarra is skilled in debate, knowledgeable in history and politics, and is very adept at controlling a conversation and turning an argument. She is as comfortable negotiating between opposing factions as she is in friendly intellectual debate among her peers. Her supreme cool under fire and in the face of more volatile personalities has made her invaluable in many negotiations, whether she was leading the talk or just defusing the atmosphere by her presence in a supporting role.
- Healer - Niarra is particularly gifted in applying the Force to the acceleration of healing in others' bodies, as well as her own. Her interest in the healing arts extends into medicinal science, but she is not certified or accredited as a doctor through any official school; her academic knowledge does not extend beyond an intermediate level, and she will be quick to acknowledge a trained professional. However, her instincts in the Force, and her ability to apply it in healing, are very strong, and she trusts them implicitly when it comes to knowing what a body needs and whether or not it is something the Force can immediately provide. Her academic interest extends also to many holistic practices of healing, and her knowledge is drawn from many "primitive" cultures galaxy-wide who have long relied on nature, or their own connections to the Force, to aid in treating those who are hurt.
- Command - Her experiences in the Great War placed Niarra in a position of command over troops and civilian bodies on multiple occasions, as it did many Jedi. Though not a military expert, her charisma, composure under fire, and her strong psychological grasp on what motivates people have all served her well, and she is a competent battlefield leader as regards organizing and motivating people. In any serious engagement she would need the advice of a military expert or a seasoned veteran, but in a pure leadership role she can be a strong figure.
- Animal Training - Though Niarra always showed an interest natural studies, for most of her life this did not extend beyond the occasional learning trip under a Master more dedicated in these arts, and the application of such skills in the hobbyist sphere. But she retained all of those lessons learned, and from the start of the building efforts on Talravin found herself with a need to apply them - at first just in contending with the local wildlife, but very quickly in a more direct manner as her efforts to rescue artifacts (and shelter Order members) from scattered enclaves soon resulted in her rescuing four varactyl mounts who needed healing and a home. Since then Niarra has dedicated herself to improving her knowledge and skills in the breeding, care, and training of creatures that show some sensitivity to the Force and/or propensity for bonding with their owners. After some years at this work she has now become quite adept at it, and currently at Talravin she cares for a large herd of varactyls, and has recently begun caring for a growing family of akk dogs as well.
- w/ Derrad Reymark - A Human male, a few years younger than Niarra. Derrad is Niarra's half-brother, the son of her Human father and his second wife. Niarra was entirely unaware of Derrad's existence until about year before the Eternal Empire's invasion. At first their bond was fragile; two strangers getting to know one another, and exploring what a familial bond can mean in such circumstances. While Derrad's desire that they be family was obvious, Niarra has had to balance a Jedi's separation from family with the potential for a meaningful friendship. As the years have passed they have met somewhere in the middle, and found a stable relationship in which both acknowledge their sibling bond, with each embracing their own different measure of attachment to it. But undeniably they have at least a strong friendship, and events have played out in such a way that their role in each others' lives - unique and complicated though it might sometimes be - is vital and significant.
- w/ Elaeis Gom-Botha - A Human male, and a fellow Jedi Master. Elaeis and Niarra developed a friendship through several shared missions. Though their duties often keep them apart, they remain in touch as they can. She considers him an honorable and reliable Jedi, and also a trusted friend. They share an appreciation for nature and particularly for archaeological work, a field that covers both Niarra's interest in history and Elaeis's study of Jedi technologies and lightsaber crafting.