‘I’m sorry, Master Eidhas, but my orders are clear. This threat is real, and no offense to you or your apprentice, but as Fane faltered and you used to be Sith, I cannot take that risk. If either you or he come near Coruscant, you will not be admitted.’
‘But you’re alienating the Jedi by trapping them on Coruscant!’
‘Their duty is to defend the Republic! Now, if you will excuse me, I have a defense plan to figure out.’
Master Herl’unik’s holoimage winked out. Shadie felt rage swell up within her. She tried to calm herself, especially since she was in front of Fane, but neither Fane nor Knarf could quell the anger this situation brought her.
‘Arrgh! This is outrageous!’
‘Calm yourself, my love.’
‘Yes, listen to your lover, Master.’
Shadie sighed. ‘You were right, Knarf; the Sith have infiltrated the Senate and influenced them. How else would Supreme Chancellor Emain get the insane idea to recall all the Jedi.’
‘Perhaps it’s the fact all you Jedi are barvy!’
‘Talyc,’ said Knarf, startled, ‘what brings you here?’
‘There’s a ship landing nearby. You might want to greet the Jedi aboard.’
‘And tell them what I’ve been telling the other Jedi who came the other day, that this is madness?’ said Shadie.
‘Nope!’ Talyc leaned on one leg, placing a fist on his hip.
‘Why are you grinning?’ asked Knarf.
Talyc motioned for them to follow. He took the lead as they stepped outside. Right away they understood.
‘It’s the Krayt Dragon!’ exclaimed Fane.
Shadie felt relief. She’d been so angered, and worried in the past days, she had not sensed her friends. She ran to the boarding ramp as her friends were descending it and lunged at them, arms open wide for a great hug.
‘Good to see you too, Shadie,’ said Brenum. Shadie laughed and finally let go of them. ‘Knarf took good care of you, then?’
‘I most certainly did!’ Knarf smiled at Shadie and winked as he usually did when joking around happily.
‘I’ve missed the two of you.’
‘We missed you too, Shadie.’ Both Trylia and Brenum replied.
‘We have news you’ll never believe,’ said Brenum, ‘we hung out with space pirates…’
‘Were held captive,’ corrected Trylia, ‘until they were convinced we were Jedi, and not Sith.’
‘Whoa, can’t wait to hear about that,’ said Fane.
‘Uh, we saw the holonews,’ said Trylia looking grave. ‘Who is the Sith captive?’
‘What tells you it’s us who have a Sith in captivity?’ said Shadie.
‘Who else would it be?’ said Brenum. ‘Darth Gourd is clearly creating a ruse to isolate Mandalore and you so he can attack you here. That, and uh, Mandalorian Blockade Traffic Control told us a Mando turned out to be a Sith.’ Shadie nodded in understanding.
‘Wait. How do you know Gourd’s coming here?’ asked Fane.
‘The pirates. How do you?’
Brenum whistled. ‘Intense.’
‘Well, yes,’ said Shadie. ‘The Sith we captured was dressed in Mandalorian armour and tried to kill the Mandalore. He’s… He’s Chiss.’
‘What?’ exclaimed both Brenum and Trylia.
‘And young enough to be related to Gourd. We’ll be questioning him soon.’
‘Not without us,’ said Brenum.
‘And not before we’ve shared with you what we know,’ said Trylia.
* * *
As it happened, the Krayt Dragon had been searching for clues or traces of Darth Gourd in the Unknown Regions for weeks when they stumbled upon the space pirates. Getting cooperation from the Chiss Ascendency had been challenging enough; apparently convincing the pirates they were Jedi and not Sith was something else altogether. Brenum and Trylia had been prisoners and had been held captive for a long time. They had managed to prove themselves when the pirates were attacked by a Sith envoy, and Brenum and Trylia destroyed several dozen Sith practically single-handedly. After that, it had been smooth sailing.
The pirates, who were a motley crew of humans and other sentient beings, a mix of smugglers, ex-convicts, run-away delegates, and others, had had several encounters with the Sith in the past, but none like with Darth Gourd’s Sith. They happened on them after a coup on a remote planet and had to make several short jumps in and out of hyperspace in order not to be tracked by the Crime Lord they’d just conned in Hutt Space.
There had been hundreds of ships, which so very calculatedly, entered hyperspace at the exact same time, just moments after the pirates had arrived in the area. That meant the Sith had had no time to conceal the jump, even if they’d noticed the strange appearance of one large, very well armed ship.
The hyperspace jump fresh, the pirates’ captain, a Cathar named Zaereg, followed a hunch and traced the jump, arriving right after the Sith’s next hyperspace jump. They managed to follow them for a while, until they were met by starfighters awaiting them at one of the jump coordinates to attack them. That’s when they learnt they were Sith, and Gourd’s Sith for that matter.
They’d not found Gourd’s army ever since, but they got that one envoy sent after them. Gourd knew they had found his pattern, and they knew how he was hiding from the Jedi: by using the same tactic they’d been using to escape Hutt Space.
A second envoy, and then a third, had been sent to destroy the pirates. Although having befriended the Jedi, they knew the information revealed from the last envoy needed to reach the right people. The information had been found on a discarded datapad about isolating Mandalore, and attacking the planet with a new kind of battery laser, still in prototype stage; Gourd would be testing it on Mandalore. The pirates knew the Jedi had to return to Shadie, so they let the Krayt Dragon go.
‘You should’ve seen their hangar though,’ said Brenum, ‘and all the ships it held.’ He sounded impressed.
‘So now if the Mandalore allows the pirates to arrive on Mandalore, they’re going to help defend the planet,’ said Trylia.
‘Why do they need Mandalore’s permission?’ asked Fane.
‘They may have crossed a Mandalorian or two,’ said Trylia, wincing as she said it. ‘But they’re really nice people, when you get to know them.’
‘Yeah, once they’ve got you out of binders and allow you to drink their whiskey,’ said Brenum.
‘Well, I find them very kind,’ said Trylia.
‘Only because they’d all be dead if it weren’t for us, three times over!’ Brenum crossed his arms. Knarf giggled. They hadn’t changed one bit. ‘Plus, uh,’ continued Brenum, ‘I don’t like the way that Cathar leader talks to you.’
‘What’s wrong with the way he talks to me?’
‘He flirts with you, and I don’t think he’d be the kind of… partner you should…’ Brenum trailed off. It was clear he and Trylia had gotten closer, but not as close as he might have wished.
‘I’m sure that Mandalore won’t mind,’ said Talyc, breaking the awkward silence that had suddenly ensued. ‘I want a list of names. I’ll make sure no one in that crew has a bounty on their heads. Then, if they don’t, we’re good.’
‘They have vital information, I’m sure that exonerates them, even if they do have a bounty, right?’ said Trylia.
‘Sure, if this were Ilis, but it’s Mandalore,’ said Talyc. Trylia’s head tails twitched.
‘Hey, Talyc doesn’t mean anything by it,’ said Knarf.
‘I hope not. I did kill dozens of Sith single-handedly,’ she pointed a finger at Talyc. ‘You’d do well to remember that.’
‘Uh, with my help, thank you very much!’ Brenum sighed.
‘So, the fact that you have a Chiss prisoner tells us more,’ said Trylia.
‘Why aren’t you acknowledging?’ demanded Brenum.
‘What rattled your cage?’ said Fane.
‘I think you two have been enduring each other for a long time,’ said Knarf. ‘You sound like two rancors in an arena cage.’
‘Oh, I’ll tell you what: Miss “the pirates are so nice and perfect” has been getting a little too cosy with them,’ Brenum growled. Knarf stifled a laugh.
‘Cosy! I’m not the one snogging the dancers!’
‘Well, excuse me for having some fun,’ replied Brenum. ‘Maybe if you weren’t busy flirting back with Cat-face Zaereg, I might have been snogging you instead!’
‘Guys! Please,’ said Shadie. ‘Get a grip. I don’t care who is jealous of whom right now, we have a prisoner to question and I need to count on you to go down there with me and question him.’ Everyone looked at her. Her tone was firm, but her face gentle. Knarf did love it when she put her foot down. She was right, there would be time for Brenum and Trylia to sort out their romantic frustrations later. ‘Fane, Knarf, Talyc, you’re coming too, please. And we’re going now!’
Shadie looked at Knarf with disbelief. He smiled sympathetically. She took the lead as everyone followed her.
‘Don’t go telling me who I’m not allowed to have fun with,’ Brenum muttered to Trylia. ‘I mean, who are you? A Jedi Master now?’
‘I think someone needs to knock their heads together,’ said Talyc under his breath.
‘Oh, I’d gladly do it,’ replied Knarf, ‘if I knew I wouldn’t get pushed away with the Force afterwards.’
* * *
Within moments, they had arrived at the cell holding the Chiss Sith and they all entered. Knarf actually felt the Force connection he had with Shadie break, as he entered the bubble the ysalamiri created. He knew what it felt like, now that he had trained a bit in the arts. He still didn’t want to be a Jedi, but he wanted to know enough to offer his Lady the necessary support, in battle and in every day life.
The Chiss Sith sat on the bench in his cell.
‘According to the vid Darth Gourd broadcasted on the Holonet, he’s your uncle. So you’re his family,’ said Shadie.
It was unsettling; the blue-faced man stared at them with his glaring red eyes, and he fixed them on Knarf.
‘He’s going to rescue me. And you, you will see you are but a tool for the Jedi. You can be so much more.’
‘Excuse me?’ said Knarf. ‘Are you trying to turn me against my Lady?’
‘Your Lady,’ said the Chiss, standing abruptly, ‘killed her brother and master. Is she really a Jedi? Once a Sith, always a Sith.’ He snorted. ‘None of you have any idea what’s coming to you.’
He smirked and fell silent once more, leaning back on the wall behind him.
After repeated attempts to make him talk some more, they decided to call it a day. If Gourd was going to try to rescue him, they needed to reinforce security around his cell.
‘Good idea,’ Talyc agreed, as they walked outside, ‘with more Jedi.’
‘Not if they’re returning to Coruscant,’ said Knarf. ‘Look.’
The Jedi who had arrived a few days prior were walking towards their ship.
‘Oh, no, I knew they’d fall for it,’ said Shadie. ‘Most of them never liked me anyway.’
‘You can convince them to stay,’ said Knarf.
‘Yes.’ He took her hand as they approached. He looked at them and spoke directly to them upon getting closer. ‘Don’t tell me you’ve fallen for the ruse.’
‘A duty is a duty and I’m not taking that chance,’ said Ruther, the tall pale blue Twi’lek.
‘Please, Darth Gourd wishes to isolate Mandalore and leave it defenceless. We need you here,’ said Shadie. ‘I need you here.’
‘Sorry, Shadie, but my duty as a Jedi and to the Republic must come first,’ Ruther said. ‘Mandalore is a neutral world. My allegiance is to the Force, not you.’
‘The Force needs you! Darth Gourd is a threat to all of us,’ said Shadie. ‘Kromus even warned to immense power in relation to Gourd. We mustn’t ignore the warning.’ Knarf winced internally; Shadie was getting nervous and squeezing his hand quite hard. ‘Gourd will destroy the Jedi and control the galaxy. He is continuing Darth Kromus’s legacy. He is merely beginning with me.’
‘She may have a point, brother,’ said Lian, pale blue as well, but with hues of a deep blue within his complexion. ‘He may want to use Mandalore as a training ground for his new weapon and as an example. I trust in young Fane’s vision.’
Ruther’s gaze narrowed on his brother. ‘Do you remember who he killed?’
Lian’s expression became stern. ‘I know perfectly well,’ he said in a low and careful reply. ‘I also know he would have wanted us to serve the Force, and the Force spoke of Sith deception. Our… He would have trusted Fane. Our master would have trusted Shadie’s judgement.’
Ruther shook his head. He crinkled his nose. ‘Trust a Sith and her apprentice who killed a Jedi Master if you want, Lian. I’m going to Coruscant.’ He walked away.
Lian closed his eyes as his pale blue lekku twitched nervously, and took a calming breath.
‘I apologise, Shadie,’ he said. ‘I may not always see eye to eye with you, but the Force speaks to us all. We don’t have to like each other in order to fight for the same cause. I will stay here and defend Mandalore. Something tells me we’re in for a lot more than we’re expecting and I fear something dreadful. I can feel it in my gut.’
‘We all can,’ said Fane.
‘Yes, well, if you’ll excuse me.’ Lian joined his brother and they began what appeared to be a whispered argument.
‘At least a few of them are staying,’ said Knarf.
‘I’m staying,’ said Josur, approaching them, the jowls of his green cheeks creased as he smiled, ‘if it’s any comfort.’
‘It is,’ said Trylia. ‘Thank you, Josur.’ He nodded and went to join Lian and the others.
‘Stuff the Republic,’ said Brenum. ‘Lian’s right. Something sinister is astir. We need to be ready before Darth Gourd gets here. Otherwise, we’re all in deep bantha-poodoo.’
* * *
Shadie had taken a good long moment to clear her mind, meditating in the sphere that had remained berthed on Mandalore in the backyard of her home and had remained ever loyal to her. She walked back to her home, noticing its emptiness. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. It wasn’t so long after that Knarf arrived.
‘You summoned me, my Lady?’
‘I didn’t know where you were. I’m worried about the coming battle. I just need your comforting arms around me.’
‘Aw, then I shall comply,’ replied Knarf, wrapping her in his warm embrace and kissing her forehead. ‘Trust me, everything will be fine.’
‘Will it, though?’ asked Shadie, her head still leaning against his chest.
‘Of course.’ He gently brought her face up to look at him. ‘You’ve got me!’
Shadie smiled, despite herself. ‘I love you.’
‘I love you too, my Lady.’
‘So where were you?’
‘I… was with Talyc. We’ll be leaving in the morning.’
This got her wondering and she took a step back. ‘Where to?’
‘A nearby planet. To visit once allies of Mandalore, to see if they will join the fight. It will be a good lot of firepower more.’
‘Well, if it means letting Gourd know his plan to isolate Mandalore has failed, then it’s worth a shot.’ She paused. ‘No pun intended.’ Knarf giggled. ‘I’ll miss you, though.’
‘Well, of course, I always miss you when you’re not with me. Do you miss me too?’
‘Yes, I do, but I think it’s not the same.’
Shadie looked at him a while. Was he thinking she meant in some Force sensitive manner, or was he just being his typical logical self?
‘Well,’ she began, ‘do you think about me when I’m not there?’ Knarf pondered less than a second before nodding an affirmative few nods. ‘And you look forward till the next time you’ll be with me?’
‘Well, yeah,’ replied Knarf, nodding vigorously.
‘And sometimes you wish I was there with you?’
‘Of course,’ he replied, once again nodding. ‘Always. Even when you’re training Fane for a few hours.’
‘Then you do miss me.’ Knarf nodded conclusively, agreeing. Shadie was at the same time puzzled and amused. ‘I think it’s a question of intensity. I feel it more intensely, that’s all.’
‘Well, that’s what I meant,’ he said.
‘Okay.’ Shadie giggled. ‘I was just checking. I mean, we have been spending a lot of our time living together.’
‘Oh, Shadie, my Lady, of course I’ll miss you. Come here.’
He took her in his arms again, although they had been standing hands clasped behind each other’s backs in a sort of a hug.
‘Be careful out there. Darth Gourd’s army’s on its way.’
‘Don’t worry, my Lady.’
He looked at her and smiled. He kissed her a long time. Then smiled as he took off his glasses and began backing her towards their bedchamber. Their energies flowing between them, Shadie pressed her lips against his and let Knarf make love to her with all the intensity and passion they both felt for each other, the serene passion that had only grown stronger in the years since they’d first felt them.
* * *
‘And is everything set, Perce?’
‘Yes, my Lord. Everything here is in place and ready. All the Jedi, at least most of them, have returned to Coruscant.’
‘Excellent.’ Darth Gourd smiled. Finally things were beginning to go according to plan. He closed the channel, stood, and head for the bridge.
‘It’s time,’ he announced.
‘Entering coordinates for Mandalore, my Lord.’
Darth Gourd sat himself down at the captain’s chair. Everyone was in for a nice surprise, a nice and early surprise. He smiled with glee.
“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.