Shadie veered the corner formed by some crates that were stacked high enough to block all view and most sounds coming from the rest of the main area of the cargo hold. Kromus was sitting on some lower crates when Shadie came to him. It was as though they were in an alcove at the end of a small labyrinth, and they were in perfect privacy.
‘Sit,’ Kromus gestured. ‘Let us negotiate.’
‘There is nothing to negotiate!’ replied Shadie. Her expression hardened.
‘There is,’ Kromus insisted, looking up at her. He let her probe him with the Force, let her feel his intent.
‘What is there to negotiate?’ she said after some time, at last sitting down and facing him.
Kromus waited until she was fully seated. ‘Our relationship.’
For a long moment she just stared at him. Her expression seemed incredulous. Then her expression softened, somewhat.
‘All right. I’m listening.’
‘Thank you. Being able to talk to you, Shadie, means a lot to me. I’m sorry. I’ve caused you so much pain. But many make mistakes. I’ll start from the beginning. I, uh,’ he paused.
Kromus knew some of what he would say would upset her. He also knew a lot of what he was about to say, no other soul knew, save perhaps only Gourd. Others were things he’d not dared admit to himself, things he knew if he’d expressed earlier on, perhaps Shadie might not have left, or at least, perhaps she would not hate him so much. He took a breath.
‘I… I wanted an apprentice, I was still so young, a mere adolescent, but I knew a baby would be perfect for my greedy needs. I could raise it, train it, my own little brother or sister, and I would use him or her to grow in power and let…her sacrifice herself for me if it came to that.’
‘I know that already,’ said Shadie. ‘I…appreciate you finally being honest about it.’
Kromus smiled genuinely, lightly. ‘When I found out there was a Force-sensitive child on Mandalore, through spies who were among the Jedi at the time, I seized the opportunity and I planned out the kidnap. I took you; I killed your parents greedily. I had assumed the child was a boy, but it pleased me greatly to have a sister, I don’t know why; I was very happy to have a sister. I planned the future out perfectly. Our future.’
‘You didn’t just plan it out, Kromus,’ said Shadie, crossing her arms, ‘you made it happen. Remember our conversation the first time I killed you?’ That felt like a pang in Kromus’s heart. ”First time:” it implied she intended on killing him again. She was angry, with good cause, but Kromus said nothing, he just listened as she went on. ‘It all still hurts, Kromus. You betrayed me. Lied to me. But me turning to the light side is not a betrayal towards you, as you told me it was last time I killed you. It was me seeking healing. I could only be more powerful if I healed. And I found that healing among the Jedi.’
‘I understand that now,’ admitted Kromus. ‘And yes, I made it all happen as I had planned it, Shadie, up until you discovered the truth of the lies I had fed you for my own dark purposes. But…’ He hesitated. This was the most difficult part to admit, but he knew he had to, despite being a Sith Lord, if there was any hope of Shadie joining him again. For the light she had leant to master, he had to say it, had to be a little light himself. ‘But what I had not planned, was to come to care for the child and love the child as my own sister, as though she were of my own bloodline. And I still love you, Shadie. Perhaps your light can sense that, perhaps your light can help us both understand each other’s hurt that my actions caused. Perhaps you can forgive me for those actions?’
Shadie looked surprised. She uncrossed her arms. Kromus had a tear, he felt it, and he let Shadie see it, let her sense through the Force that he was telling her the truth. He let Shadie feel that he would do anything to have her by his side again, anything at all, and if that made him weak, then so be it. Shadie looked like she was holding back tears.
Kromus reached a hand out to her. She stared at it a long time before she took it.
‘Tell me, Shadie, where it hurts, how I hurt you, so I can understand your pain and anger towards me, so I can perhaps seek forgiveness within myself for losing you.’
Shadie nodded and began to speak.