- "You know the drill! Pull out any skilled species for their specific slave details...And get the kids separated out -- You know where they go!"
- ―An Odionate Sith officer during the invasion of Sarrassia
Cloisters were used by the Sith Lord Odion to imprison all the children within his realm known as the Odionate, a region within the Grumani sector. Due to his unhappy childhood experiences and his hypersensitivity to the presence of other sentient beings in the Force, Odion wanted the children to live as hermits where he could not sense their presence. Odion had a dozen of these facilities built throughout his realm.
- "As far as these children know -- they're holograms too. Living unnurtured, they lose something. It makes them more pliable workers and warriors later on."
- ―Beld Yulan
These Cloisters consisted of a network of thousands of bubble domes with each holding one child. The child inmates residing them were fed by mechanized food dispensers while their hygienic and toiletry needs were serviced by automated refresher stations that emerged from the floor several times a day. The Cloisters were designed only to admit light from above which meant that the inmates were unable to see their neighbors or outsiders. When it was time for the inmates to sleep, the lighting was turned down to eighty percent, then turned back on to full when it was time to awake.
This system of child-rearing promoted an environment of misery, loneliness, and hopelessness; emotions which fed the Dark side of the Force much to Odion's delight. The children's educational and physical needs were attended to by holograms which indoctrinated them into believing Odion's nihilistic beliefs which revolved around death, destruction, and emptiness. To further the sense that life was meaningless, the Cloisters contained no names and records. As a consequence of their solitary confinement and indoctrination, most children forgot about their parents.
- "...this is how you create a whole realm without hope. One child at a time."
- ―Beld Yulan
Cloisters were constructed in the Odionate under the rule of Sith Lord Odion who assumed control of part of the former Chagras Hegemony following the death of its titular rule Chagras in 1040 BBY. During his childhood, Odion suffered from neglect, loneliness, and debilitating headaches that were induced by his hypersensitive Force awareness of other sentient beings. His despair forged his nihilistic beliefs which saw death and destruction as a means of relieving his pain.
Odion came to find joy in the murder of other sentients and motivating others to destruction by channeling the misery around them. Because children burnt very brightly through the Force, this irritated the hypersensitive Odion who sought to inflict the same pain he experienced during his childhood on future generations. Consequently, Odion ordered his forces to capture all children in his realm and imprison them within this system of automated Cloisters.
There, children within his realm would be subject to solitary confinement and indoctrinated with his nihilistic beliefs. To further a sense of meaningless and submission, Odion ensured that no names and records were kept. These children would then be trained into being pliable workers and warriors. The Force-sensitive individuals among them would then be recruited into the Novitiates, his elite Force-wielding corps of acolytes. Odion's program aimed to create an entire realm without hope one child at a time.
- "...It's children! Thousands of them! Who -- who would do this?"
- ―Kerra ("Mercy")
As a consequence of Odion's policy, there were no children seen in public within the Odionate proper. All adults were pressed into his servitude as slaves in his war forges or military forces where many died in the attritional warfare. In contrast to Odion's totalitarian policies, other Gruumani Sith Lords merely employed children as slave labour and did not separate them from their families. During his service to Odion, the former Mandragallian mercenary General Beld Yulan regularly visited Vanahame under the auspicious of replenishing his arms supplies. In secret, he would visit the Cloisters to reflect upon the deaths of his children which justified his fealty and services to Odion. Following the invasion of Sarrassia in 1032 BBY, Grumani children were forcibly separated from their parents and sent to these cloisters.
During a stop-over at Vanahame prior to their journey to Skarpos, Jedi Knight Kerra Holt, under her pseudonym "Mercy", stumbled across a Cloister while exploring an underground basement. She met Yulan who revealed the existence of the Cloister network and his conversion to Odion's death cult. For Yulan, his visits to the Cloister was to reflect on the deaths of his children who had succumbed to the Candorian plague. Despite his war record as a Mandalorian warrior, the meaningless nature of their deaths drove him to despair and he came to embrace Odion's nihilistic ideology following a meeting with a Claimer, an Odionate recruitment agent. He justified war and bloodshed as a tool of speeding up the killing on both sides.
When Mercy suggested that all life was sacred regardless of who they were, Yulan countered that Mercy's objection was an odd view for a Novitiate and commented that the only sacred lives had already ended. He likened all sentient beings to droids who were ready to power done. Before leaving to resume the mission to locate the Helm of Ieldis, Yulan ordered Mercy to switch off the lights. Mercy was so shaken by her discovery that she took the cargo elevator with Yulan back upstairs to the spaceport. On the hunt for the whereabouts of her parents, Kerra had learnt that they had a younger sibling after their separation on Aquilaris. She suspected that sibling was somewhere in the Cloister.
- "The noise over th' [sic] channel's almost worse that what's coming from th' [sic] brats! What in blazes is going on up there?"
Following the Second Battle of Skarpos, the victorious Lord Odion returned to the Cloister on Vanahame. He had obtained the Helm of Ieldis, a Sith artifact constructed by the Sith Lord Ieldis prior to the Great Hyperspace War, which was capable of driving entire armies into a homicidal frenzy. During the battle of Skarpos, Odion won a Pyrrhic victory over rival Sith Lords Daiman and Malakite, using the Helm to wipe out the three amassed armies. Satisfied with his test demonstration and the capture of his opponent Kerra, Odion intended to harness the misery and anguish of the thousands of orphans on Vanahame.
He sought to use the negative emotions to cause the entire Grumani sector to descending into a homicidal frenzy. Odion also planned to eliminate his other Sith family members, ending the stalemated Second Charge Matrica and thus becoming ruler of the galaxy. By killing all other sentient beings with the Helm, Odion aimed to be the sole living being in the entire universe. For the first time, Odion ordered the Cloister's staff to plunge the planet-sized orphanage into darkness, causing the inmates to panic out of fear and hopelessness. Odion then used the Helm to amplify their negative emotions into pure dark side energy which was then unleashed on the entire sector. In response, his rivals including Daiman, Arkadia Calimondra, and Vilia Calimondra assembled their fleets, in an effort to prevent Odion from gaining a monopoly over power.
While unleashing his Helm on the galaxy, Odion had his enemy Kerra chained and also used the Helm to drive his Novitiates into a killing frenzy. However, Kerra managed to convince Odion's second-in-command Yulan that life had a meaning and that the lives of the children on Vanahame mattered. Disillusioned with Odion's nihilistic doctrine and wasteful sacrifice of lives, Yulan entered the Cloister's control room where he killed one of the crew and forced the crew member Murl at gunpoint to restore the light within the Cloister and release the children from their bubble prisons. Yulan's actions had the immediate effects of ending the children's anguish, which ended the Helm's homicidal killing-spree. Meanwhile, Kerra managed to break free from her bonds and fight Wayman, before taking on Odion himself in a lightsaber duel.
The surge of positive emotions caused the Helm to overload, causing Odion to burn to death. In his last moments, Odion attempted to get Kerra to spare his life by claiming that he could help her find her lost younger sibling. However, Kerra had come to the view that the captive children were her true brothers and sisters and allowed Odion to die. With Odion's death, his realm descended into anarchy as his rivals quickly carved up large chunks of territory from the former Odionate. With his humanity and compassion restored, a redeemed Yulan departed for Republic space with thousands of the former child inmates from the Odionate cloisters that he and Kerra were able to liberate. Meanwhile, Kerra vowed to continue her fight to liberate the sector and the children's parents themselves from the Sith. In the ensuing chaos, the fate of the remaining Cloisters throughout the Odionate is currently unknown, but it was implied that they were incorporated by the various other Sith Lords who divided the Odionate.
Behind the scenes
Odionate cloisters first appeared as a plot element in Knight Errant: Escape 3, the thirteenth issue of John Jackson Miller's Knight Errant comic series which was first released on August 8, 2012. According to his production notes on his personal website Faraway Press, Miller stated that Odion's Cloisters were modeled after Romanian orphanages discovered after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in 1989. Infants in those orphanages were raised away from any human contact. He regarded this as the most miserable situation that his team could depict and a worthy problem that Kerra would want to stop.