The Krayt Dragon was in hyperspace and had made its last jump. Brenum sat at the controls; Trylia was at the co-pilot’s seat. Shadie sat next to Fane discussing strategies. Talyc and Knarf sat farther back.
‘So, you know what the next step in your relationship is?’ said Knarf, cocking his head in Fane’s direction.
‘Yes, I do,’ replied Talyc. ‘You know what the next step in yours is?’ he asked, cocking his head in Shadie’s direction. ‘The next logical step…’
‘I don’t know. I haven’t really thought about that. I thought Jedi weren’t allowed…’
‘My eye you haven’t thought about it,’ said Talyc, leaning in closer to Knarf to continue in a whisper. ‘And the Jedi Council has granted a lot of permissions for the two of you. As if they’d stop there now.’
‘It’s just that it scares me, what with all this dark side power thing and the whole claiming of the Crypt thing. I know I don’t want to lose her, and I am committed to her, for the long haul.’
‘So, what’s the problem, then?’ Talyc didn’t get it. Knarf and Shadie were it; they were the embodiment of true love.
‘I know what it would mean for Shadie, what it represents in the Force. I guess I just need to find what it means for me, within me.’
The ship returned to real space as the starlines stopped, and the Crypt, the strange asteroid-like station, loomed in the viewport at a distance.
‘We’re approaching the Crypt,’ said Brenum, ‘on a direct vector.’ He turned to look at Fane and at Talyc. ‘Can I trust the two of you with my ship?’
Fane looked aghast. ‘Brenum! What do you think we’re going to get up to?’
‘No, not that!’ Brenum laughed. ‘I mean, can I trust you to fly her gracefully.’
‘Oh,’ said Fane, blushing.
‘Fly her gracefully?’ said Talyc. ‘Yes. Leave her unscathed? No guarantees.’
‘I suppose that’s the best I can hope for,’ said Brenum, looking worried.
‘All jokes aside, I’ll take good care of her,’ said Talyc, chuckling.
They had determined that it would be safer for Talyc and Fane to remain with the ship, seeing as Talyc wasn’t a Force-user, and he and Fane didn’t have a strong Force-bond like Shadie and Knarf or Brenum and Trylia did. They needed to play it safe just in case Relsor was there and would attempt to create illusions in the Force. Besides, someone needed to fly the ship in the event the others needed a quick escape.
Talyc stood and walked to the viewport as the ship entered the atmospheric field of the Crypt. He shuddered. There was something about it he didn’t like.
‘I’m not Force-sensitive,’ he said, ‘but even I feel that.’
‘That,’ said Shadie, ‘is the dark side, in its purest and rawest form.’
‘Be careful down there, Master,’ said Fane. ‘Stay safe.’
Talyc looked at Fane; his worry was evident. He took Fane’s hand and squeezed gently. Fane closed his eyes and took a deep breath; a Jedi trick to clear the mind, Talyc knew it to be. He looked at Knarf who understood his concern and nodded back to him. He’d lost one close friend recently; he didn’t need to lose another.
* * *
The Crypt felt much the same as it had the last time Shadie had been here: heavy, dank, with a strange smell about it, and the dark side being ever strong, ever raw, feeling ever pure. She could feel it calling out to her, craving for her to take it in her bosom and embrace it.
‘Wow,’ said Knarf. ‘This is intense.’
Brenum and Trylia looked uneasy, but they could use the Force more easily than Knarf could to keep themselves from becoming overwhelmed. Knarf put his helmet on. Shadie had instructed him to relay anything he could back to Talyc, just in case anything went wrong. So far, they were alone, but she knew there were others here, she knew Relsor and Perce were here; she could feel them through the Force.
They walked along the large area. The Krayt Dragon took flight as soon as they had exited the ship and it now lurked somewhere, secure for now, and hidden. They passed the area where Shadie had fought Kromus the first time, when the dark side had empowered her and somewhat taken over her. She could feel Kromus’s signature in the Force. His presence had been strong.
“The dark side is absolute,” he had told her. Strangely enough, Relsor has said those same words to Knarf.
They walked some more, and then she was hit from the side with a blast of intense dark side energy. Her stomach lurched and she felt like keeling over. She held on to Knarf’s arm, feeling dizzy. She looked up: quite a distance away, yet close enough to be seen in full detail, stood Relsor and Perce.
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