The Sacred Order of Holy Knights, also referred to as the Holy Order, is an international military force formed to battle Gears and defend the whole of mankind. Its members are variously called the Crusaders.
There are two Holy Orders, usually referred to as simply the "First" and "Second". The first existed during the entirety of the hundred-year Crusades, while the second was formed around 2180 with the Second Holy Order Selection Tournament and lasted about a year. Whenever the "Holy Order" is referenced, it is usually a callback to the First Order. Neither Order was affiliated with any one country, although both were backed by the UN.
The standard Holy Knight uniform comprises of a short elbow-length cape, white pants, and a white robe with a cross-like cloth piece with golden buttons covering their lower chest and reaching their knees. Fingerless gloves were common, as were matching boots. Perhaps their most distinctive feature was the plate belt buckle that some knights engraved with a word (Ky's "Hope" and Sol's "Free" buckles, later mocked by Robo-Ky's "Ennui" buckle).
The uniforms' hems and cloth piece seem to be color-coded, perhaps accounting for elemental affinity. Trainees have their uniforms outlined with turquoise. It is unknown if the uniform's design and color varied over time, or if Kliff's is simply a highly-customized version.
In 2065, the United States of America began the mass production of living weapons known as Gears—who were little more than slaves—, deploying them to allies across the globe, bringing "countless lands" under its control. In 2074, after a test involving a new Gear, Justice went wrong and resulted in the destruction of Japan, she rebelled, announcing herself to be self-aware. Gathering an army of fellow Gears, Justice declared war on all mankind. In the wake of heavy initial casualties, the international community put their differences aside and formed the Sacred Order of Holy Knights.
The conflict was initially centered around Russia and neighboring European nations, but the fighting quickly spread, so that no part of the planet was spared the ramifications of the Crusades, and brought humanity to the brink of extinction. In 2115, Kliff Undersn joined the Order and, soon after, was named as its Commander. Holding the position for decades, he would be one of the most decorated knights. He fought Justice on many occasions, and led the charge to sealing of the Hydra in London.
The Order suffered many setbacks during the war, including the capture and conversion of soldiers into Gears (later appropiated by Justice) by a certain government agents. At one point, hundreds of Gears laid siege to Rome, backing humankind into a corner. When things were at their grimmest, a bolt of lightning struck the Gear horde, saved several members of the Holy Order. Since then, the world started celebrating its arrival, naming the recurring phenomenon St. Elmo's Fire.
In 2172, Kliff personally scouted and recruited Sol Badguy. He was assigned under the command of legendary child prodigy, Captain Ky Kiske. In 2173, they both participated in the Battle of Rome, a critical moment in the Crusades marked by I-No's interference. Sometime later, Sol challenged Justice on a one-on-one duel, but was defeated which incited Sol to steal one of the Order's Sacred Treasures, the Fireseal. Ky caught him during the act and fought him, but Sol won and escaped with the weapon. Kliff, who had a great deal of respect for Sol, allowed him to keep Fireseal, but told Sol the Order needed him to end the war. Soon, Kliff decided to retire and become an instructor, and Ky was given leadership of the Order. As a symbol of his new status, Ky was granted the Thunderseal.
Around this time, humanity's strategic point in the Tasmanian Islands was attacked, endangering the perimeter it maintained. However, the Order came to rescue, with Leo Whitefang leading the charge to secure the border. He and his unit faced what appeared to be certain death, but his tactical acumen allowed them to escape and succeed in their endeavor.
The war would end in 2175 with Justice's sealing. Kliff decided to face Justice in the battlefield one last time, but could not defeat her. Ky stepped in to save him, meeting Justice in battle for the first time, and pushed her to retreat. Sol then fought and defeated Justice. Pursuing her trail, Ky then noticed her weakened state and ordered all support units to engage and seal Justice in a dimensional prison. The now masterless Gears became dormant, and many were rounded up and destroyed.
The Order set to work assisting with post-war relief efforts, but by the time the year was out, they had been dissolved. With the war over, the knights had to return to civil society. Many became enforcement officers in the International Police Force as they had nowhere else to go once the Order was disbanded. Furthermore, The Post-War Administration Bureau was created to help assist war veterans with reintegrating into society by performing various tasks for the public good.
Less than a year later, for unknown reasons Justice's seal began to weaken. Due to this, in 2180, the UN calls for the Holy Order to be re-formed for humanity's protection. To that end, they hold an international recruitment tournament for the Second Sacred Order of Holy Knights. Former members Kliff Undersn, Sol Badguy, and Ky Kiske participate in said event, which is revealed to have been perpetrated by Testament. During the tournament, Justice is freed; though Kliff perishes during their battle, she is destroyed by Sol and Ky, and as a result the Second Holy Order is never officially recognized. This iteration lasts about a year, as it is disbanded following Dizzy's defeat in October 2181.
Not affiliated with any one country, the Holy Order's activities ranged from small-scale operations such as evacuation of civilians, responding to distress calls, and guarding shelters, to large-scale battles and confrontations. It employed a simple hierarchy, wherein knights were broken down by three general ranks:
- Commander (団長, Danchō?) - The highest rank the Order could grant, and the person holding this position oversaw the entire organization.
- Captains (大隊長, Daitaichō?) - A rank below commander, they had to be in a class above their peers, and display charisma that could inspire others to new heights of heroism. Experience and age took a backseat to these more pragmatic primary qualifications. Subdivided into "Divine Guardians" and "Guardian Angels".
- Foot Soldiers (志願兵, Shiganhei?) - Those who fell into ranks below captain—which was the vast majority of the military—were considered foot soldiers. They were assigned to units that their superiors believed would complement them, regardless of their aptitude for combat.
The Order was made up of seven battalions with five platoons each. The five platoons were the Physical Attack Corps (物理攻撃隊, Butsuri Kōgeki-tai?), specialized in basic physical attacks with swords and bows, and subdivided according to their range, i.e. long, mid, close; the Spell Corps (法術隊, Hōjutsu-tai?), able to cast magical attacks of all kinds, providing support to the front-line knights, and were further categorized by element or specialty; the Strategy Corps (略隊, Ryaku-tai?), command teams that analyzed the enemy, developed tactics, and deployed soldiers; the Magic Support Corps (法支援隊, Hōshien-tai?), non-combat troops in charge of logistics and communications between teams, magical support to offensive and defensive troops, and providing support to aerial regiments; and the Relief Corps (救護隊, Kyūgo-tai?), who mainly provided care for injured soldiers.
Battalions and platoons were led by captains designated as Divine Guardians (守護神, Shugojin?) and Guardian Angels (守護天使, Shugotenshi?), respectively. Both were posts that required very high combat skill. A Divine Guardian in particular had to be able to adapt quickly and fill any role, due to the rapidly-changing environment of battlefields, and had to ensure that every part of their battalion was running smoothly. Guardian Angels, on the other hand, were much more specialized, and led teams that excelled in one particular area.
Transportation was mainly through magic-powered airships, capable of transporting battalions. The Order also had medieval-styled fortresses and bases—one such is the Holy Knights' Fortress. They also possessed magic medals, that allowed its members to locate each other.
It is unknown whether there were age requirements to join; rather, it seems that the basic requirement is the ability to wield a weapon, and young teens were allowed to join as long as they could fight. While many people volunteered to fight Gears, unaffiliated warriors of remarkable skill, such as Sol Badguy, were presumbly scouted by Commander Kliff Undersn.
Swordsmanship was the most common fightning style, while an aptitude for magic seemed to be indispensable. Said to be an elite group of warriors, most recruits would be trained in basic Holy Order techniques, and were taught that unfairness and deceit—the difference between life and death—were superior. While the strongest knights could take Gears on in close quarters, a common soldier's tactic was keeping their distance, taking up their time and distracting them. They would pick away at the Gear from outside their range and try to break their focus; once they were sure that they had an opening, they'd go in for the finishing blow.
- It is believed that, during the war, Paris was the Order's main headquarters since it is Ky's stage in many games.
- Although no major female character is known to be a former Holy Knight, women were indeed allowed to join, as they are seen fighting in the frontlines in Guilty Gear Xtra.
- In Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus's Story Mode, in a glimpse of the world 100 years in the future, apparently there is a Third Holy Order, which is shown to be chasing the half-Gear Dizzy.
- Guilty Gear X Drama CD Vol.2 script § "???"
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Philosopher B"
- Guilty Gear manual, pg.4,7,11
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Kaleidoscope B"
- Guilty Gear Codex, pg.5,7,14,29,52
- [GGWorld - "Crusades"]
- [GGWorld - "Captain"]
- [GGWorld - "Holy Order"]
- Guilty Gear XX script § "Last battle"
- Guilty Gear X Lightning the Argent, pg.??
- [GGWorld - "Testament"]
- [GGWorld - "St. Elmo"]
- Guilty Gear Xrd -Sign- script § "Devastation B"
- Guilty Gear Complete Bible, pg.96-101
- Guilty Gear Xrd Rev 2 script § "After Story A"
- Guilty Gear XX Drama CD Red script § "Humanity's Last Hope"
- Guilty Gear XX Drama CD Red script § "Desperate Struggle"
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Stolen treasure"
- [GGWorld - "Kliff Undersn"]
- Guilty Gear XX Λ Core Plus script § "Entrusted future"
- [GGWorld - "Australia"]
- [GGWorld - "Leo Whitefang"]
- [GGWorld - "Local Law Enforcement"]
- [GGWorld - "Post-War Administration Bureau"]
- [GGWorld - Timeline]
- Guilty Gear script § "Kliff"
- Guilty Gear script § "Sol"
- Guilty Gear script § "Ky"
- Guilty Gear X manual, pg.4
- [GGWorld - "Commander"]
- [GGWorld - "Foot Soldier"]
- [GGWorld - "Spell"]
- [GGWorld - "Magic Support Squadron"]
- [GGWorld - "Relief Corps"]
- [GGWorld - "Divine Guardian"]
- Guilty Gear XX Drama CD Red script § "The Order's Oath"
- Guilty Gear XX Drama CD Red script § "Seed of Hope"
- Guilty Gear Xtra Chapter 4: "Former Friends"
- Guilty Gear Xtra Chapter 2: "The Past"