The Sacred Order of Holy Knights (known also as the Holy Knights or the Holy Order) is an international military force formed to battle Gears.
At 2074, a major country (speculated to the United States) attempted to use Gears to dominate other nations. However, Justice, a Gear with a free will who was the sole Command Type, controlled other Gears and gave them a human extermination program. Her first target was the nation of Japan, and because of the overwhelming power of Justice and the Gears, it was destroyed. As a response to this tragedy and as a defense against the threat of extinction, the international community (United Nations) formed the Sacred Order of Holy Knights, and the war known as the Crusades began.
The Crusades remain as a mysterious section in the Guilty Gear history. It is known that the war lasted for a hundred years, but other details are very minimal. The few known facts include Kliff Undersn becoming the knights' commander for decades and its greatest warrior, and that he lost his son, Testament, decades before the events of the first game. Ky Kiske and Sol Badguy entered the Order a few years before the Crusades ended.
Sometime after 2173, Ky Kiske becomes the last commander of the Order and successfully led mankind to victory against the Gears. The war ended at 2175 at Justice’s sealing, and the Order was disbanded.
In 2180, the fear of a revival of Justice led to a Sacred Order recruitment tournament, the main story of Guilty Gear: Missing Link. The former members Sol Badguy, Kliff Undersn and Ky Kiske participated in said event, which is actually perpetrated by Testament.
With the war over, the knights return to the civil society. However, it is most likely that some of them continue to follow Ky Kiske into the police force all the way to his kingship in Illyria. In Overture, the knights seal dormant Gears and guard them for information and research. The Illyrian army, Ky's Servants, and the few royal guards who protects his lover, the primary force that battled with Valentine's Vizuel army, are also shown to be knights.
During the Crusades, the Order acts mostly on defense in response to the Gear’s relentless attacks. It is not known if Gears had a systematic invasion system, but their numbers were far superior, regenerating and reproducing in a faster rate. In the Drama CD, the Gears at just one Gear plant are three times the number of the Order’s largest fleet. Because of this, the knights' activities are limited, involving small-scale typical military operations such as evacuation of civilians, responding to distress calls, and guarding shelters.
Transportation is mainly through magic-powered airships, and radio is still used for communication. Combat is mostly melee, either through magic or physical attacks. Swords and staffs are seen as the staple weapons. Firepower such as guns and cannons are not used, since they are considered Black Tech, but homing devices from airships can target enemies and attack them with amplified magic. The Order greatly values nature, and preserving the environment is one of their top priorities. However, out of necessity, they may resort to harmful weapons, such as the satellite blast that was used in Operation “Last Resort” to finally kill the town-sized Megadeath-class Gear Hydra.
The Order also has medieval-styled fortresses and bases, one of them is a playable stage in Overture. It is also hinted that Paris is the main headquarters of the Order since it is Ky Kiske and Sol Badguy's stage in many games.
· Sealing of Hydra - Commander Kliff Undersn battled the Megadeath Class Gear Hydra for several days. After some of the Gear’s limbs were severed, the Order sealed it for good.
· Battle of Rome - In the year 2173, Captain Ky Kiske responded to a distress call from the city of Rome. They decided to embark on a risky mission to rescue the survivors left in the area. Originally, Ky was killed after being outnumbered by Gears. However, I-No altered went back in time to save him, and this action altered the future.
· Sealing of Justice - In 2175, Commander Ky Kiske led a group of knights in a mission to seal Justice. When they arrived to the location, Justice was already heavily injured because of a fight with Sol. The Order successfully sealed her afterwards, and the Crusades finally ended.
· Operation Last Resort - In 2181, Solaria, a manufactured Command Type Gear, awakens the dormant Hydra with her singing. The past members of the Order, the police force and the Jellyfish Pirates evacuated the civilians living in the town built on the Gear’s body. Ky Kiske ordered the “Last Resort”, a satellite weapon, to be fired. The Gear is destroyed, and the area is sealed because of the radiation.
· Gear Plant Battle – In the original unaltered future, as a final attempt to victory, Commander Sol Badguy, along with Potemkin of Zepp leads the entire Order's air fleet to a suicide attack on a Gear Plant. They battle with Commander Gear Dizzy and her right hand man, Testament. Though the Order is at a huge disadvantage and is overwhelmed by Dizzy’s power, the final outcome of the battle is not known.
The Order is heavily similar to the middle age crusaders. It is implied that the Order is under the control of the Catholic Church, as their values reflect traditional Christian chivalry. Some members of the Order display forms of charity and dedication to public service, like taking in orphans and protecting civilians. In Guilty Gear X, Testament, who swore himself as Dizzy’s knight, recited a Holy Knight oath, "In front of the populace, I shall be a shield from the storm and a rock of support".
Only the strongest fighters are allowed to join the Order, and its way to select the best is through a recruitment tournament. So far, only two tournaments have been known in the history of the Order: one was held at some point before the main story, while the other happened at 2180. The exception is Sol Badguy, who was recruited personally by Commander Kliff Undersn and joined the Order as a special member.
There are no known restrictions in participating in the recruitment procedure. Women are allowed to join, and they are seen to be fighting in the frontlines in the manga. The basic requirement is the ability to wield a weapon, and young teens are allowed as long as they can fight. However, it is most likely that they become apprentices first. Ky was no older than 14 in the Battle of Rome, and May battled in the second recruitment.
Ranks and Units
The Order functions like a usual military unit with a strict hierarchy. The only ranks known so far are commander and captain. Most likely, a captain commands a fleet of airship and lower ranks come directly under. However, despite having no specific rank, Sol is a dignitary, implying that he holds a special status. The Order also has specialized units for physical attack, magic and healing. Airships also require engineers and technicians, and scientific research that does not belong to the Black Technology is in the workings of the organization. The Post-War Administration Bureau also worked with the Order by restoring or mitigating the damage to society and nature by the war.
The standard Holy Knight uniform comprises of a short cape, white pants, golden buttons and a belt, though this is customized by members according to their liking. One of the most memorable aspects of the Holy Knight uniform is the belt’s plate where members carve their favorite word. Ky’s word is “Hope” while Sol’s is “Free.” There are no other known belts beside Robo-Ky’s “Ennui” which means “boredom”. The uniforms are also color-coded. Young recruits have their uniforms outlined with turquiose, and Ky Kiske is shown to wear such in an illustration. Sol Badguy wears red, as he is a fire magic user, and Kliff Undersn wore brown for earth magic. Likewise, Ky’s lightning magic may be directly responsible for the blue color of his uniform.
A few important characters are former members of the Order.
· Kliff Undersn - Commander of the Order for many decades, as well a respected fighter and Ky's master. He dueled with Justice seventeen times, but finally got defeated on their eighteenth duel. He secretly mourns for the loss of his son, Testament, for many years.
· Sol Badguy - A bounty hunter who saved Kliff Undersn, who was just 6 years old then, from a Gear attack. Decades later, he was personally recruited by Kliff to join the Order. Shortly after being a member, he deserted the group and stole the Fireseal to face Justice alone. He succeeded in weakening her giving Ky's group an opportunity to seal her.
· Testament - Kliff’s adopted son who got converted into a Gear. Because of Justice's influence, he fought against humans during the Crusades and perpetrated Justice's revival. His experiences during the war cause him to eventually hate humans, despite being able to break free from Justice's control.
· Ky Kiske - A prodigy in magic and strategy, he joined the Order at a very young age, and became its last Commander at the age of 16. He was granted the Thunderseal as recognition to his leadership and combat skills. The war ended under his leadership.
Swordsmen are the most costly and strongest melee unit. Fast, strong attacks and high HP give them the ability to outmatch an equal number of any other melee units, but can be overwhelmed by a mob of cheaper troops.
Gauntlet Bodies are tied for most expensive armour unit, and the most powerful. High attack power and very hard to kill, but no real special abilities.
Springbocks are the most costly and powerful mobile unit. Devastating to armour, due to the ability to increase enemy armour's vulnerability to mobile units. Much harder to kill than most mobile troops.
Wise Men have a good support ability of increasing ally attack and defense, but not much else of use, other than its attack being extremely effective against Masterghosts.
Twin Triggers have high attack speed with strong attacks, and attempts to retreat if approached. Very vulnerable, easily killed by one combo, or even one attack at times. Needs to be protected by other units at all times.
The Convict Hammer is an extremely powerful combatant, with strong support abilities. Constant attack buff and non-stop use of dispels are nearly as good as having a second Master on the field. Highly effective as the centre of a large group of troops, not nearly as useful on its own. Very slow speed and high cost to bring into play reduce the impact it can make.
Quadro Bailiffs are an excellent bodyguard unit, making it nearly impossible for the enemy to fight uninterrupted. Very high speed. Switches to a dedicated ranged combat stance, giving it knockback resistance and faster attacks, and 1.25 damage. The stance change ability can be locked with a Mouth Zipper.
Heaven’s Libra’s primary ability means near-certain death for most enemies in the radius, making it a vitally important unit to have your Master carry personally. Dropping this unit into any major battle creates an unmatchably large advantage for your side.
Humming Swords are a type of mobile minion. Lasts up to 30 seconds. Destroyed by Dispel. Attacks often, good attack power and high chance of stunning.