The Sphere dodged a few battlecruisers that remained fighting the Mandalorian blockade, though most of the True Sith ships had departed. Those that remained would probably end up pulverised.
‘We’re going to have to go back,’ said Shadie, ‘and find whatever it is that Relsor is looking for.’
‘At least for now the battle is won,’ said Brenum, ‘and Knarf, assuming Usharr found the Krayt Dragon, we’re going to need your slicing skills to broadcast the recording to the entire galaxy.’
Fane looked down, he felt defeated and ashamed. The others seemed glad of their victory today, but he felt the heavy loss that weighed on his shoulders.
‘Hey, Fane, my man, what’s bothering you?’ Talyc’s voice was soft, reassuring, yet concerned.
‘I feel like such a failure,’ said Fane. ‘How can I defeat Relsor if I can’t fight against his abilities?’
‘You’ll train,’ said Talyc. ‘You’re just not meant to do it now, that’s all.’
‘Lian almost died because I couldn’t kill Relsor,’ said Fane. ‘Had it not been for the Crypt and our Cryptic friend…’ He trailed off.
‘You need to stop thinking that way and putting yourself down,’ said Talyc. ‘Relsor is such a powerful Sith. I think now that Lian is part of the Crypt, he can help you even more, and you can learn to resist his powers.’
‘By allowing the Force to guide you,’ said Brenum. Fane looked at his friend and smiled.
Shadie’s comlink chimed. The image of Master Herl’unik appeared.
‘Master Herl’unik,’ said Shadie, ‘at last we reach you.’
‘What has happened, Shadie? Where is Lian?’
‘He… Relsor struck him down,’ said Shadie.
Master Herl’unik bowed his head. ‘We lose a good master this day.’
‘Oh, no, he’s not dead,’ said Shadie. ‘He’s very much alive now. Well, he almost died, but he was saved by the Crypt. You see, he’s its guardian now; he’s become immortal. He just can’t leave his chamber.’
‘What?’ There was surprise and a bit of anger in the Grand Master’s voice. ‘You mean to tell me our best healer has become part of a dark…’
‘He made it light!’ Shadie quickly interrupted. She explained the situation and what had happened, and how it had happened. When she was done explaining, she smiled at the Grand Master’s miniature holo form. ‘So he can heal the Force more prominently now. We’re going to tie a few loose ends here on Mandalore and then gather supplies for Lian on Tython, make his new home more hospitable.’
‘She wants to redecorate the place,’ said Knarf.
‘And supply Lian with the proper equipment so he can continue to be a council member from the comfort of his new home.’
Master Herl’unik nodded. ‘I understand now. It seems it was his plan all along to take this route and this risk. He calculated well. It was chancy, but a success. Well, I expect to see you all on Coruscant before you return to the Crypt, I have things I shall need you to bring to Lian.’
‘Don’t worry, we’re on it.’
The call ended and the Sphere settled onto Mandalorian soil. Fane could feel its excitement die down and its need for rest; it had suffered much too.
I wish to commune with my new master and guardian, my Lady. I wish to mourn my lost friend.
Fane heard Shadie reply to the Sphere’s request, and as soon as they were all out, she dismissed it back to the Crypt to guard and protect Lian until she would need it next. There the Sphere would recover from this great change, and learn of its new guardian and how best to serve him. It was a meditation sphere wrought of the dark side and now it was as much light side as it was dark side. Fane reckoned it didn’t know which way was which anymore, much like he’d felt when he’d dwindled somewhere close to the dark side several years ago.
Usharr came running from the distance, many Mandalorians behind him.
‘Still kicking, I see, Mildred,’ said Talyc.
‘Yes, but I wish we’d have proven better opponents for Relsor. He’s too powerful,’ replied Mildred.
‘Don’t worry yourself,’ said Knarf. ‘He’ll soon find his end.’
Fane nodded, though he could not find words to say. ‘It feels heavy,’ he managed.
‘So he still lives then,’ said Usharr. ‘You’ll find your strength, Jedi Fane.’ THe old man squeezed Fane’s shoulder encouragingly.
‘Perhaps you can help me with those skills of yours, turning Relsor’s powers on himself and using them,’ said Fane. ‘I think those skills combined with my powers might allow me to be immune to his stasis.’
‘Yes, yes!’ Usharr beamed. ‘I’ve not had someone to train in years. You can take the master out of the academy…’ He smiled. He then turned to Brenum. ‘I found your ship. It awaits your commanding hands to manipulate it.’ Usharr looked at Shadie. ‘Did your friend survive?’
‘Yes, Master Usharr,’ said Shadie. ‘He’s alive, and the newly appointed Guardian of the Crypt.’
Usharr nodded. ‘You can stop calling me Master, Shadie. I no longer identify as such.’
Shadie smiled. ‘Courtesy and respect for one who once taught me. We owe you thanks for your help in this fight.’ Usharr waved a hand dismissively.
‘So let’s get on with the slicing,’ Knarf said eagerly.
Fane was glad to focus his mind on other things. He saw the Mandalore put his hands to his hips and chuckle. Fane knew, as Mandalore surely knew, this was going to be a big blow against Relsor.
* * *
The Republic fleet dropped out of hyperspace, and before it loomed a massive flagship: Relsor’s flagship. Emain smiled. Finally, they had tracked it down. Knarf’s slicing had come in handy but it had been tedious work to follow each jump the ship had done, especially since that ship had done an elaborate dance of hyperspace jumps in order to remain undetected.
Emain estimated Relsor might be arriving at his ship soon, given the recent news out of Mandalorian space.
‘Deploy the fighters,’ he announced into his comboard.
As though all were one, the fighters flew out of the hangar in unison and flew close to the ship.
‘Ten minutes and counting down,’ said Emain.
The fighters flew closer to the Chiss flagship’s hull. They flew around it and came up on the other side.
‘Sir,’ came a voice over the speaker, ‘we’ve found an ideal location for the tracking beacon.’
‘Do it, anchor it,’ Emain ordered.
The fighters flew in and slowed near a spot between some lasers. Those lasers propped themselves out of the ship as though in warning of the minutes remaining. They looked like the superlasers.
‘Get back in here,’ said Emain, ‘no lingering. I don’t want to be forced to return without you.’
The starfighters flew back towards the Supreme Chancellor’s flagship. He looked out the viewport. The lasers swivelled and trained themselves onto his ship.
‘We’re back in,’ said the fighters’ leader.
Emain’s officers obeyed and they were safely back in hyperspace, as a streak of laserfire flew past them, barely missing their target.
* * *
Awgro watched the ships enter hyperspace. He’d convinced the True Sith in charge to allow for one warning shot. Thankfully, it had not come to more, which meant Lord Void’s secret alliance with the Jedi remained intact.
As though on cue, Relsor’s shuttle came out of hyperspace. The shuttle settled into the hanger and before long, Relsor and Perce had arrived at the viewscreen room where Awgro and several others stood. The Sith in charge gave them an account regarding the Republic ships.
‘How did they find us?’ demanded Perce.
‘It doesn’t matter,’ said Awgro. ‘They left when they saw our lasers would take them out. We scared them away.’ Awgro smiled, letting his words stetch with satisfaction. ‘The Empire has done many such tactics in the past. They will return to Republic space and spread the fear to the others, a fear that your malady, my Lord Relsor, can feed upon to grow more powerful.’
‘Good,’ said Relsor. ‘I’m going to need more power, now that Jedi Lian is the Guardian of the Crypt.’
Oh? This was new, though it did not change Awgro’s personal plans.
Perce scowled looking at his datapad. ‘Something’s happening. I’m receiving a bunch of messages from inside sources. The Holonet is thriving with controversy.’
‘Let’s see it,’ said Relsor.
Awgro watched the display of the old Sith master and Relsor on Mandalore, and smiled internally. He could use this to his advantage, given he was still stuck on this ship. There was much he still wanted to learn before he returned to Lord Void.
He turned to look at Relsor and Perce, and the two just stared at each other, the Chiss’s red eyes gleaming hatred and worry at the same time.
‘Great,’ Perce said sarcastically, ‘we’re going to lose the Empire’s alliance now.’
‘Not necessarily,’ said Awgro.
‘You don’t believe I will kill you now that you know how I truly feel about your Empire?’ said Relsor.
‘I’ve escaped death before,’ said Awgro, resisting the urge to tell Relsor his own feelings about the Empire and where he wished it were different. ‘You can turn this around. Elevate me in your ranks to show the Empire that what the recording shows is false. Let them wonder if the recording is a fake.’
‘You know,’ said Perce, ‘as one such as me who was stuck working for the Republic as an infiltrator, who was Imperial, a Sith of the Empire, and who is now a True Sith, I can really appreciate that idea.’ He looked at Relsor. ‘The acolyte presents an opportunity out of this I had not thought of. And,’ he smiled sinisterly, ‘Knarf is such a good slicer, I have all the ammunition I need to make it look as though he was a good enough slicer to slice this recording.’
Relsor narrowed his eyes. ‘If you betray me, Awgro, it will be the last thing you do. I will elevate you to Apprentice. You will be by my side where I can keep an eye on you. Do not fail me.’
Awgro bowed as though he were bowing before the Dark Council and let his pride seep into the Force.
To be continued…
“Protectors of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2021).
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 story lines from the films are used. No story lines 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 Fair Use.
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.