The Krayt Dragon remained berthed in the Jedi Temple hangar. The Council had rewarded ”Cornelius” generously. However, after many days, he still hung about. His stride was of upbeat fashion, having gotten used to his new leg, and when he was not Cornelius and could simply be himself; he hummed or sang or whistled, which Shadie absolutely adored, or so she had said. Though her mood seemed to darken with worry with each passing day. Knarf could only guess that it had to do with Kromus. Perhaps his power was growing, or simply she was scared to face him again. It troubled Knarf how easily Shadie had fallen, no, almost fallen, to the dark side. It made him doubt his choice and wonder if she would be better off on her own for now. Sometimes he wondered if he truly wanted to be there when the Sith attacked, to fall prey to another trap, perhaps be killed for real this time.
Knarf cursed himself for having such thoughts. Shadie was his Lady, his Lady of Light. She brought him happiness, and the energies they shared, never had he known that before, and he doubted he would ever know it again, if ever he left her.
Knarf sighed as he sat in Shadie’s quarters, in the living area, awaiting her return from a meeting. It used to be so simple, or so it had seemed. He’d had his life planned out: work, slice, program, have fun, perhaps have a few women on the side, no attachments, no commitments, no obligations, just pure freedom. Yet he could not deny the emotions he felt towards Shadie, and he feared for both their lives. She had come into his life unexpectedly; he needed to find his balance, choose between his old path and a new one with Shadie. He did not want to lose Shadie, he knew that much, he did not want to leave her side. So what was he supposed to do now? Flee? And protect himself, revert back to complete freedom, and deny himself the one person for whom he cared most, who he knew cared for him even more than she led on, the person who brought him so much happiness? Or remain with Shadie and risk everything, including life? Then again, he’d done it before, he could do it again.
There was a sound coming from the far corner of the room and the ventilation access hatch near the floor was pushed open from within the shaft. A figure emerged, and when Knarf finally recognised him, he drew a breath.
‘Talyc!’ Knarf was shocked.
‘Good to see you too,’ replied the Mando in purple and brown armour.
‘What?’ Knarf shook his head in confusion. He could’ve sworn he’d guessed Talyc’s mood.
‘You must leave here and come with me,’ said Talyc.
Typical Mandalorian, straight to the point, no introductions.
‘And why would I do that?’ Knarf scowled.
‘Because you’re a dead man if you don’t.’
Knarf leaned forwards confrontationally. ‘Is that a threat?’
Knarf crossed him arms. He’d always trusted Talyc and had considered him a friend. Talyc had been the one to let him in on the Holonet news when Shadie had been in trouble. He could not understand why Talyc would suddenly turn on him.
‘Knarf, you barve! You’ve got a bounty on your head.’
‘A bounty, me? Placed by whom?’
‘How would you know?’ he asked suspiciously.
‘Because I’m the one who took it.’
Knarf backed away and pulled out his blaster; it wasn’t much against a Mandalorian, but it was better than nothing. Mandalorians always fulfilled their bounties. Knarf began to shake. He had rather he died in Shadie’s arms after Lahnius had drained him of life and cut off his leg than alone and betrayed by a friend.
Yet, Talyc just looked at him. He shook his head. ‘I’m not here to kill you.’
‘But you just said…’
‘I took it to protect you.’ There seemed to be desperation or urgency to his voice, Knarf could not decide, perhaps it was both.
‘Oh.’ Knarf holstered his blaster.
‘I had a bounty on Nar Shaddaa, and when I overheard someone placing a bounty on you, I killed the Devaronian taking it, pretended he had been my bounty…’
‘Clever, so you never really lied.’
‘No, and I could tell. He did that Force mind trick hand thing. It was Kromus, all right. He wants you dead.’ He paused. ‘I’m putting my life at risk for you here, Knarf.’
‘I still don’t see why I need to come with you.’
Talyc pulled a large bag out of the shaft and placed it on the floor.
‘Mando’ade armour, finest beskar, stealth field generator included, jet pack included, a slot for your ysalamir. I bring Kromus your Cornelius outfit as proof, and you become a member of my clan, Bes’laar. Kelbourn has already agreed.’
‘Wow, you really thought of everything,’ said Knarf. He creased his brow. ‘Bes’laar. Not sure I like it.’
‘You’ve got no choice, it fits you. It means music in Mando’a. You, who’s always singing.’
Knarf’s heart sank. Talyc had not thought of everything.
‘What about Shadie?’ asked Knarf.
‘Yes, what about me?’