Shadie had an energy of darkness about her that Fane knew to be the fear and loneliness she felt. She had asked him many times if he had sensed anything or seen anything from Gourd. He had told her no. But in truth, he had seen exactly what he had feared, not to mention the torture that had come before. He suspected Shadie knew he was holding out on her, but she didn’t press the matter. He did not want to have to lie to his master again.
Fane gave Brenum and Trylia a meaningful glance as they met up, walking to Mandalore’s bunker. Apparently, there was another urgent matter to discuss.
Mandalore was pacing when they arrived and did not bother to look at them when he began speaking.
‘I’ve had my best slicers try to slice the Holonet, but with such encryptions and complications in place, I need the best slicer I know: Knarf. We are going after him.’
Shadie’s face lit up momentarily and she nodded to Mandalore.
‘But how will we find him?’ asked Trylia.
‘By finding Darth Gourd.’ He said to them, stopping to look at Fane. ‘It is vital that we do.’
‘So what changed your mind?’ It was Brenum who voiced what Fane himself was wondering.
‘We need to reach every system in this galaxy for this very reason.’
Mandalore thumbed a remote and the transparisteel viewport turned into a holovid panel with the image of a tall human young man, too young to be a reporter already, but a reporter he was.
‘The new Sith Regimen will stop the tyranny and oppression the Jedi have used on us and hid from us all these centuries,’ he was explaining. ‘Our new leader, Darth Perce, is here with me to explain how the True Sith are against the Empire and their Sith, and how the Sith Regimen will benefit the Republic and its citizens.’
The young man turned to look at the tall man clad in a dark cape. He was lean, human, perhaps near Shadie’s age. He was dressed to look sharp and prim, only his cape gave away that he was Sith.
‘Thank you for taking time to speak to us,’ the young reporter said to him.
‘Thank you for having me and allowing me to explain the situation before passing judgement on our actions.’
The young man nodded. Darth Perce turned to the holocam.
‘The Jedi,’ he said, ‘were using the Republic as their puppet and as a shield. They had strict rules to follow and painted us, the Sith, as criminals. But in every war, people die and it is not those deaths that are the crime, no. The crime here is the lies the Jedi fed you all. They used their powers with greed and for their own gain. They lured us into attacking Coruscant. They refused to protect the citizens of Coruscant by wanting to send out its Jedi even if there was an imminent threat that Darth Gourd, who is our enemy, might attack the planet. They were in cahoots with some of our enemies, and therefore we were led to believe that Coruscant was planning a coup against us. It is very unfortunate that we had to attack the entire planet, but the Jedi have now been contained, as I mentioned earlier.’
The image jumped to an angled view on an alleyway near a canteen, from where Master Salah had contacted Shadie. The small holoimage of Shadie flickered in her hand.
‘This Jedi is speaking with Darth Shadie,’ explained Perce, ‘who was once a Sith and perhaps still is, and who betrayed us in order to gain more power more quickly. She is extremely dangerous.’
The image then showed Master Salah push the Duros with the Force, but never showed him attacking or training his blaster on her.
‘I was taking a brisk walk and I suppose I was in her way,’ the Duros said. Fane knew this Duros was the same one from the previous clip, even if they all looked the same to him, as he recognised his voice; this Duros was Master Salah’s assailant.
‘Such oppression is not right,’ the cam was close upon Darth Perce’s face now. ‘Such rules that are used to control us but not even respected by the Jedi themselves are not right. People of the Republic, join the Sith Regimen and you will understand freedom, you will understand free will, and you will understand what it is to live in a safe galaxy reigned by happiness and peace, not war.’
Then the holoimage showed the Duros Ambassador shaking hands with Perce and saying:
‘We are happy to finally be part of a legitimate government.’
Mandalore paused the holovid as everyone looked at Shadie as they all sensed the anger swelling within her.
‘Fane?’ Mandalore asked.
‘I’m sorry, I cannot sense where Darth Gourd is.’
‘Then I know someone who will.’ Mandalore looked grave but determined.
‘Who?’ asked Shadie.
‘There is a planet in the Senex-Juvex sector, in the Outer-Rim Territories, that belongs to the Republic; it is a secret planet. I know of it, you do not need to know how, but there is a colony of Sith, captured and isolated by my grandfather when he was Mandalore.’
‘He might not want to see you then,’ said Brenum, ‘because, you know.’
‘Oh, I know that,’ replied Mandalore. ‘But I have an idea. And once we know where Darth Gourd is, we will go after Knarf. The Republic has not seen the vid I have to show them. The devastation caused by the Sith on Mandalore. I will show them. I will find proof that Darth Perce works with Darth Gourd and show them that too. So for that, I need the best slicer I know.’
Shadie sighed. ‘So now you need him, you want to go after him, but you didn’t want to before.’
Mandalore lowered his gaze. ‘I’m sorry, Shadie.’
‘He could be dead!’
‘He’s not!’ said Fane. ‘Trust me. He’s not. That much I do know.’
Brenum and Trylia looked very worried, but Mandalore only smiled.
‘This can be good,’ he said.
‘What can?’ asked Shadie, annoyance in her voice.
‘Your anger, for my plan.’
‘I hope that plan includes me!’
Everyone turned to find Talyc at the ready, holding a blaster rifle.
‘And me.’ A woman clad in red and bronze armour appeared. She had smooth skin but enough lines to show her years, yet she wore them very well.
‘Ah,’ said Mandalore. ‘Meet my wife.’
‘And my team,’ she supplied, as Talyc giggled and at least thirty other Mandalorians appeared, men and women, humans, Trandoshans, Twi’leks, Cathar, Zabrak, Devaronians, a few from other species as well. The familiar faces of the red and green Twi’lek ladies appeared and they waved at the Jedi, smiling.
‘I see you’ve already assembled a multi-clan team,’ said Mandalore.
‘I heard a rumour from Talyc of a certain plan, I had to be part of it.’ Mrs. Mandalore winked at her husband.
‘Let’s not forget,’ said a familiar voice, as the man in deep blue and brown armour stepped forward, coming to stand next to Talyc and Mandalore’s wife, ‘that a just cause will bring clans together.’ Kelbourn looked at Shadie. ‘I remember requesting Knarf’s services and how he worried for your safety when Darth Lahnius captured you. He was barvy, and he went to save you. He is still barvy, therefore it falls to us to make sure that you can save him.’
‘Thank you, Kelbourn,’ said Shadie.
‘It was my idea,’ said Talyc, crossing his arms, smiling as he gave Kelbourn a sideways glance. Then he smiled and looked from Shadie to Kelbourn. ‘Cousins always help cousins.’
Fane was glad he and Shadie knew the Mandalorians. ‘What is this planet, though, and why has it been kept secret?’ he asked.
‘It is a prison planet,’ said Mandalore. ‘We travel to Belsavis.’
‘All right, so when do we leave?’ asked Talyc.
‘We will leave now.’ It was Shadie who gave the order. ‘We have waited long enough.’
* * *
Darth Erigos sat cross-legged in his spot, on a tall rock near the sea, in one of the prison sectors of Belsavis, North of Maximum-Security where the terrain was wild. The waves that hit the shores appeased him, reminded him sometimes of space battle when it hit hard. He had not had the luxury of space battle in a few generations. He, like many others inhabiting this planet, was abandoned here, isolated, secluded, imprisoned, stripped of most technology so he and the others could not escape. They had been “stranded” here and therefore had to start a new life. He supposed it was better than life in an actual prison cell or working in the mines of Kessel, or in the cold of Ilum, or even better than being frozen in carbonite. It was certainly more glamorous to pretend they were actually stranded than to live like prisoners.
The Stranded, they called themselves, dumped here by Mandalore, and he was the eldest of the tribe, the most powerful, and their leader. However, as the generations had grown apart and clicks began to form, others began to seek power, and Erigos was growing old, very old. They would soon want to choose a new leader for their Sith tribe. That was why Darth Erigos had said only he who was worthy to prove himself more powerful without killing him would take on the mantle. He would give it to whomever would prove that worth. He had anticipated, and spoken before anyone had even dared to try to kill him. And he had challenged them, and himself, in the process.
The challenge: Getting them off this rock.
Many had thought he meant finding a way to build a ship, but that had proven impossible without the necessary technology. They had been allowed to keep their lightsabers though; for survival, they had been told, after all, other beings on this planet had weapons as well. And they had the Force.
He, as well as many others, was using the Force to attempt to draw vessels near their area on Belsavis, attempting to make a vessel crash or land when they sensed or saw one in the sky, scanning the area with the Force. Now more than ever, for there had been a shift in the Force; in recent days, he had sensed much movement.
Erigos stood and walked up the pathway that led to his village, if that’s what he could call it.
‘Something is happening,’ he announced.
‘We have sensed it,’ replied Giles, one of the younger men.
And that’s when it happened. A great shadow loomed in the sky. It was a ship descending onto the village, but not just any ship, a Sith Meditation Sphere. It landed before them; by that time everyone had gathered. For a while, they just stared at it. Then they tried to approach, but they were automatically pushed away.
Only one who is worthy may approach me. The Sphere spoke to all of them.
‘I am the eldest,’ Darth Erigos declared.
‘That you may be, but I am the one who summoned this Sphere,’ replied Giles.
‘Nonsense, we all summoned it, by sheer will of the Force.’
‘Or did it come here of its own accord?’
‘Regardless,’ said Darth Erigos, ‘we must find a way to approach it, and he who does shall be Captain of this ship and fly us out of here. This ship will obey our command.’
I can only be commanded by the worthy one.
‘No,’ said Giles, ‘it’s me. I’ll prove it.’
‘I’ll kill you both,’ said another, ‘and I…’
‘Silence!’ Erigos took a breath. ‘Now is not the time. We have been stranded here for generations. Some of you were born here and do not know what lies beyond the stars. But some of us will never forget what Mandalore did to us and we long to get off this planet. We must communicate with this Sphere and find a way to approach it if we want to escape our doom.’
Erigos sensed approval emanating from the Sphere and a great power he could not identify, dark power. ‘We shall form a group meditation in order to understand it better and find out where she came from.’
‘She?’ asked Giles.
‘Yes,’ said one of the older women. ‘I sense it too. This Sphere is feminine in the Force.’
‘Then let it be so,’ replied Giles, giving in. ‘A group meditation. My Lord, shall I start it?’
‘Yes, you are after all the strongest telepath among us. Let us begin.’
* * *
As the meditation grew deeper, the Sphere spoke to them and told them a bit about its history. Erigos couldn’t help but worry that Giles would succeed in getting a strong connection with the Sphere, but as communication progressed with it, they all came to be able to communicate to it through the Force. However, vocal commands remained most accurate. They could understand it so well, Erigos could actually see images with what the Sphere shared, its memories, and he could tell by the gasps from the others, that they saw the same things he did. He even saw a Chiss wielding a lightsaber and thrashing a lightwhip.
When the meditation séance was over, Erigos knew he had to prove he was the only one who could approach the Sphere and command it.
As he stood, he began walking towards her as everyone else did.
Only one can command me! The Sphere proclaimed.
‘Then let me approach,’ Erigos demanded. He bounded another stride and stopped. ‘Open up before me.’
An instant later, a doorway appeared and opened up with a ramp. Erigos gleamed with pride and turned towards the others.
‘Any who wish to oppose me, any who wish to step between me and this Sphere,’ he unclipped his lightsaber, ‘I promise to give them a quick death.’
The voice, Erigos was shocked to hear, came from behind, and he whirled around. There stood a woman, beautiful and yet dreadful, long green hair flowing as the wind brushed against it. She seemed half-amused, seemed to be contemplating him.
‘Where did you come from and why are you on the ramp of my ship?’
She laughed. ‘Because this Sphere is my ship, and you were only able to communicate with it because I let you. Only one can command it, and I am that one.’
She commands me through the Force, the Sphere said. She alone has that power. She alone can therefore free you.
* * *
‘What is the meaning of this!’ Erigos said. He was more haggard than Shadie had imagined he’d be.
‘It’s simple. You need to be freed and I need you for something. I’ve come to offer you a deal. You help me and I help you.’
‘And who are you?’
Shadie poured into the Force all the dark side she could muster, all her fear, all her anger, the pain and sadness about the recent events, the emotions she felt the first time she killed Kromus, the emotions she felt the second time she killed him, her anger towards Darth Gourd and Darth Perce. She fuelled her aura with the contempt she had felt towards Darth Lahnius when he had almost killed Knarf, her anger and fear at Knarf for flying his kriffing fighter into Gourd’s dreadnought, everything that would fuel her enough power to show them her dark side and convince them of it. She needed this to work.
‘I am Darth Shadie, Lady of the Force.’
‘And who is he?’ Erigos pointed up the ramp.
‘My apprentice.’ Fane came up beside her, standing tall.
‘No, this is a test,’ said Erigos. ‘I must defeat you.’
Erigos took a step forward, but before he could reach his weapon, Fane stepped in his way, igniting his aqua blade at neck level, and held it close to Erigos’s throat.
‘That’s far enough,’ said Fane.
Erigos looked down with his eyes. ‘Your blade is not red, young man.’
‘It doesn’t need to be for me to be dangerous, old man.’
Shadie suppressed a smile and poured her pride into the Force. Fane was becoming a real Jedi, with a backbone and a sense of humour, that couldn’t be bad. She liked his style. It wasn’t the Council’s ideal way of doing things, but when dealing with Sith, sometimes putting them in check was the best way to defeat them. And she wanted Fane to feel her pride. He was protective, yet calculating, and had good judgement.
‘You are a Jedi then.’ Erigos said this looking at Shadie.
‘I am neither, yet I am both. I was raised by Sith, then turned to the Jedi, now I live on Mandalore,’ she paused briefly to watch Erigos suppress a reaction to the word of Mandalore, ‘and I wield powers that are a combination of light and dark, some of which no other Sith or Jedi have ever performed. It doesn’t matter what that makes me. What matters is this: You want to be free, yes? I need your ability to find a Sith for me. Do this, and you shall have a ship for all of you.’
‘All of us?’ echoed some of the other Sith.
‘Lord Erigos, you must do this.’
‘What about Mandalore?’
‘What about him? The current Mandalore is not the one who convicted you, he’s not the one who stranded you as prisoners on Belsavis, whose security personnel, by the way, have no idea we are here offering you this deal. The Mandalore of today is the grandson of the one you knew. He fights my war and he is providing the ship for you and your people, of Mandalorian design, beskar’gam alloy, and enough firepower to defend you against almost any other ship. He, nor I, nor our people, will attack you once airborne, only if you promise to never attack us. We set you free, and you Sith do not wage war on the Jedi. Ever!’
‘That simple?’ said Giles.
‘It’s that simple,’ Shadie confirmed, opening her arms invitingly.
‘What do you need me to do?’ asked Erigos.
‘You have an ability to find others through he Force. I need the location of a Sith, his name is Darth Gourd. I need to find him.’
‘And when he is found?’
‘You get your ship.’
‘And we are not asking you to fight our war with us,’ said Fane, retracting his blade. ‘The ship is in return for your help. And never attacking us is the price for your freedom. We never need cross paths again.’
‘This is a dangerous course of action for a Jedi, Lady Shadie. These must be desperate times.’
‘Do we have a deal, Darth Erigos?’
‘Yes, we do.’
Shadie hid a sigh of relief. Mandalore had not warned her he’d be probing her so much, with questions as much as with the Force. She managed to let leak only enough to guide him to want to help her.
‘So, this Gourd, he is what?’
‘A Chiss Sith.’
‘The one in the vision, with the lightwhip?’
‘Yes. That was my memory.’
Erigos chuckled. ‘Impressive manoeuvre from the Mando in the vision. Blocking it like that.’
Shadie swallowed hard and felt fear and hatred towards Gourd; that Mando had been Knarf.
Erigos started off. ‘I will be at my meditation rock.’
* * *
After some time, he returned.
‘And so?’ Shadie asked, perhaps too eagerly.
‘This Chiss Sith hides well. It is difficult to find him,’ said Erigos. ‘He does not have a distinct connection with you.’
‘Not even my connection with him?’ asked Fane. ‘The visions I’ve been having, through his eyes, his future?’
‘No,’ replied Erigos. ‘I tried to trace him using the imprint of each your energy that I was able to perceive in the Force. Your visions of him do not make your connection with him strong enough to have the necessary trace in the Force for me to find him.’
‘Is there really no way?’ Fane asked.
‘No.’ Erigos paused. ‘I guess we’re stranded here forever then.’
Fane thought for a moment. He knew this could put Shadie in a state of panic, and only one man could snap her out of such darkness and let her see the light again, and so perhaps he could be found. After all, the reason they were here, the reasons for which they needed to find Gourd, was to find Knarf.
‘What if one who is with Gourd does have a strong connection with Shadie?’
‘Then it could work,’ replied Erigos.
‘Good, because her lover, Knarf, was captured by him.’
‘Ah!’ Understanding dawned on Erigos’s face, his wrinkles creasing into a smile.
‘He is her passion,’ said Fane. ‘As a Sith, you should understand the importance…’
‘You do not need to convince me, though it would help if I had more to go by than a name.’
‘He’s the Mando from the vision,’ replied Shadie.
‘Well, if I could be privy to some memories of yours, more potent than what you shared through the Sphere, it would make finding him a lot more possible.’
‘You mean extract her memories?’ exclaimed Fane.
‘Extract? No, she’d still have them. But it is a dangerous procedure. She could die.’
‘I’ll do it. If I’m weakened, I can fall into a Force sleep and heal, or at least feel no pain as I die.’
Fane stared at Shadie; she was determined and he knew she would not be deterred from this, no matter the risks. He sighed. ‘Yes, Master.’
Erigos chuckled and put his hands on Shadie’s head. They both seemed to struggle a bit, but it was quick. Erigos let go. Shadie fell to the ground, panting, as Erigos left. Fane helped her up.
‘Master, are you all right?’
‘Since when do you call me master at almost every single reply?’
‘Since I realised that this was a situation where you needed your pupil to obey, and your friend to stand down. I would have interfered, but…’
‘Thank you, Fane.’ She nodded at him. He smiled.
Erigos returned after a short while. ‘He is in the Death Wind Corridor,’ he announced.
Shadie’s eyes welled with tears. ‘Thank you.’
‘You see, we’ll find Knarf.’
She held up her transponder. ‘Brenum, Trylia, bring it in.’
‘So no chance of exiting off planet with the Sphere?’ asked Erigos.
‘No chance at all.’
‘Were you anyone else, I might have killed you, but we have an agreement. Still, you can’t blame a Sith for trying.’
Fane frowned. ‘Did we all just hear that?’ he asked. Shadie nodded. Many others chuckled.
The other Sith gathered their gear and turned their gaze towards the incoming ship, which settled on the ground. Brenum and Trylia exited.
‘We dodged Belsavis security ships really well out there; this ship’s capabilities are a beauty,’ said Brenum. ‘I need to fix up the Krayt Dragon with a few add-ons.’
Everyone looked at them. His eyes grew wide when he saw all the Sith looking his way.
‘Yes, yes, I remember, no attacks on any Jedi,’ said Erigos.
‘Nor on Mandalore, Shadie lives there,’ said Brenum.
‘Brenum, I’m sure Shadie discussed the terms with the Lord before they committed to the deal,’ said Trylia.
‘Indeed,’ Eirgos confirmed.
Brenum and Trylia walked to Shadie as she boarded the Sphere.
‘Contact Mandalore,’ she told them.
‘Already done,’ replied Brenum.
‘Good. Let’s get going.’
‘Don’t worry, Shadie,’ said Trylia in her usual soothing tones. ‘He’ll be fine. Knarf is unharmed, I’m sure.’
“Masters of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2019).
Disclaimer: The Characters in this Fan-Fiction are new and have original names. The story is an original written work. The story is derivative and consistent of Fan-Fiction since it borrows the franchise world of Star Wars. Certain jargon and places, or concepts mentioned, along with the SW Old Republic universe belong to Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney. No characters or storylines from the films are used. No storylines or characters from the games or books are used. A handful of characters from the games may be referenced, but are not the main focus in this fanfic story. This fan-fiction story falls under FairUse.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.