Relsor sat in the seat the Sphere had provided for him; Perce sat across him. Relsor didn’t even feel tired, though he knew he had depleted a portion of his powers.
‘How could they have overwhelmed us?’ he said.
‘Simple, they had many Jedi and Mandalorians with them,’ replied Perce. ‘I learnt something interesting though.’
‘Knarf, he sliced into the Empire’s Holonet,’ said Perce. Relsor scowled. ‘He fooled me, whereas I thought I had figured him out. Serves me right for trying to outslice a slicer.’ Relsor shook his head. ‘So of course they knew what was going on and were always a step ahead of us. The solution is simple, Relsor: we stop providing the Empire information about the True Sith, stop giving the Dark Council what they want for a time. It’s not like they’re going to refuse.’
‘They have no choice,’ said Relsor slowly, ‘we can crush them in an instant.’ Relsor paused for a moment. ‘We’re going to find another way to capture Shadie.’ He paused again. ‘We had her, until her friends liberated her.’
‘I had to attack Knarf and make it appear as though I had no interest in Shadie,’ said Perce. ‘It was the only way for her to come at me in that angry yet vulnerable way she does when she’s afraid for Knarf’s life. I grabbed her, and you held her. She was in our grasp! How in the kark did she slip away?’
‘You sound exasperated,’ said Relsor, amused.
‘I am!’ exclaimed Perce. ‘I told her and that apprentice of hers that we had something in common, that we all learnt from Kromus, and therefore we are the true Followers of Kromus and that we should team up to destroy you!’
‘And? Did she bite?’
‘Oh, she bit all right, but not the bait,’ said Perce. ‘And she bit back hard.’ Relsor laughed. ‘I thought if I brought back memories of Kromus for her, she would falter, or perhaps her apprentice, Fane, would.’
Relsor leaned back in his chair. ‘Perce, you had a good tactic, it could have worked. Just goes to show that she buried her dark side deep within her.’
‘Well, that’s what I realised when I was choking Knarf. Her weakness is Knarf.’ Perce narrowed his eyes. ‘But he is also her strength.’ Perce sighed.
‘So, what do we do now?’ asked Relsor.
‘I’ve already devised a few possible ways we could achieve our goal,’ said Perce. He took out his datapad. ‘Shall I go through them with you? I’ve received…data…I believe will be of use to us.’
‘Oh, humour me, Perce. At worst, we can have a laugh at how our future attempts may fail.’
Perce smiled. Relsor could tell he had something good up his sleeves.
* * *
Lian approached Fane and Talyc with a bit of a limp. Fane stood, concerned.
‘You’re injured,’ Lian told Talyc. Fane and Lian helped him up. Lian closed his eyes and passed his hand above Talyc’s shoulder. ‘It will take a few days, but your injuries should heal faster now and the pain should pass shortly.’
‘Thanks,’ said Talyc. ‘Looks like you’re injured too.’
‘Nothing that can’t heal itself,’ said Lian. ‘I too possess regenerative abilities, albeit they work at a much slower rate than Perce’s abilities, and are a lot less intense, but perhaps also less costly in Force powers.’ He shook his head. ‘Knarf had him. He had him.’ He shook his head again.
‘We all thought we’d have them, but now we know what the powers they attained from the Crypt can do,’ said Fane. ‘And we’ve learnt that their goal is to capture Shadie. I just don’t understand why.’
‘She trained with Kromus,’ said Lian. ‘They must need her for something.’
‘She’s not going to give it to them,’ said Fane.
Talyc moved his arm a bit.
‘This really feels better.’ He looked ahead. The Mandalorians and pirates were discussing something and looking over towards their clan leader. ‘I think my clan needs me.’ He put his hand on Fane’s arm and smiled. He walked away.
‘Are you sure you’re all right?’ asked Fane.
‘Yes, I’ll be fine,’ said Lian, nodding. ‘Relsor is very powerful. He functions with pure darkness, whereas I function purely from a place of light. I could not weaken him, I could not exhaust him, nor destroy him. I understand now that that is not my destiny. My destiny is to heal the Force and prevent his ailments from affecting everyone in the galaxy.’
Fane nodded. ‘I think it might be Shadie’s destiny, or one of the others’, or mine, or all of ours, to destroy Relsor,’ he said. ‘Who knows.’ He observed Lian. ‘You truly are gifted in the arts of healing.’
‘Yes, it runs in my…’ He stopped. His face changed.
‘My forefathers were master healers too,’ he said, looking Fane straight in the eyes.
‘No, no,’ said Fane, dismay and realisation overwhelming him. He closed his eyes and bowed his head. ‘Lian, I am so sorry. I had no idea.’
‘No one did, that was sort of the whole point,’ said Lian.
The truth hit Fane like an asteroid. ‘That’s why you and Ruther were so angry at me for so long.’ Fane looked up at him. He felt devastated. ‘I didn’t just kill our master, I killed your father.’
Lian bowed his head. ‘I’ve forgiven you, Fane.’
‘How could I have not made the link? Blue Twi’lek Master and healer, two brothers, blue Twi’leks, both healers.’ Fane shook his head.
‘Why do you think the Council has been so lenient with Shadie and Knarf, Brenum and Trylia, the two of you, by the looks of it?’ Lian motioned towards Talyc. ‘One of the Jedi Masters had found love, and his wife had borne two children. Ruther and I were both his. My mother lived on the Temple grounds. My father, Master Juun Kloh, never let his personal life get in the way of his Jedi duties, but he was always there for us, always there for my mother. She died when I was much younger. He raised us and trained us. And when he couldn’t, Master Salah was our guide. My grandfather, Juun Kloh’s father, is also a healer, and today, I am a healer as well. It was my grandfather who helped heal Knarf, and he still lives. I know my father would be proud of me were he here to see what we’ve accomplished, what I’ve accomplished, what you’ve accomplished. He would be proud of you too.’
‘Lian.’ Fane closed his eyes again.
‘Fane, I recognise today that had you not lived what you lived then, you would not be a Jedi today. You would not be the Jedi that you are today. You are not the Jedi the Council wanted you to be, you are not the Jedi my father expected you to be, but you are the Jedi that you are, in spite of everything else, and you are so much more than what you might have become otherwise. You are a Jedi, not a Sith, for you returned to the light, and killing my father was part of that happening. Don’t let your past dictate your future.’
Fane looked passed Lian towards Talyc. Talyc looked his way and smiled. He could feel the Force call to him. Fane looked back at Lian.
‘Then for your father, I will be the Jedi I am meant to be.’
* * *
Shadie, Knarf, Brenum and Trylia walked back up the path. Shadie felt exhausted. Talyc approached and took Knarf in a friendly hug.
‘Bes’laar, you brave barve! Had it not been for Mister Regeneration-Beyond-Normal back there, you would have killed him!’
‘Why is it that every time I kill a Sith, they don’t die?’ Knarf said incredulously. ‘Every time.’
‘Well, you’ve killed Sith…’
‘Talyc, I mean the Masters, our enemy, the Sith Lords. Every time I kill one of them, they’re not really dead. First Relsor, now Perce.’ Knarf threw his hands up. ‘I give up.’
‘Well, we can’t give up yet,’ said Shadie. ‘We need to regroup, figure out our next move.’
‘You’re handling this well, all things considered,’ said Talyc.
‘Master!’ Fane approached. ‘I thought they had you back there. I thought they truly had captured you.’
‘They almost did,’ said Shadie. ‘I think the only reason they failed is because we overwhelmed them. We were too numerous.’ She motioned towards the army of Jedi, Mandalorians and pirates, before turning back to the others. ‘They need me for something, Relsor and Perce, but for what?’
‘It has to do with Kromus, it just has to,’ said Fane.
‘It’s too soon to return to the Crypt,’ said Shadie. ‘We need to give it some time. But perhaps we can try to find clues somewhere else.’
‘Where?’ asked Knarf.
‘The space rubble of Kromus’s flagship, the one we destroyed.’
‘Need someone to fly you there?’ offered Zaereg, approaching, looking at Trylia.
‘I think Brenum and I will remain on Tython,’ said Trylia, taking Brenum’s hand, making her thoughts on the matter very clear.
Zaereg put his hands up in polite defeat and nodded once.
‘Then my offer goes to you, friends,’ he smiled, his canines showing. ‘If their ship’s unavailable.’
‘You’re hoping to find something you can use or sell?’ asked Knarf.
‘I think this needs to be a Jedi matter,’ said Shadie. ‘Sorry. But if we find anything,’ she added quickly, ‘we’ll let you know and we can trade.’
Zaereg smiled. ‘Can’t say fairer than that.’ He left.
‘Guess that means I can’t come along either,’ said Talyc.
‘You’re one of us, though,’ said Knarf.
Fane looked at Talyc and offered him his hand. ‘You are,’ he said.
Talyc smiled. He took his glove off and clasped Fane’s hand.
‘I’ll inform Master Herl’unik,’ said Shadie. ‘Talyc, inform the clan we might need back up in the form of starfighters.’
‘We might not be the only ones rummaging through Kromus’s old things, though,’ said Fane.
‘It’s been a couple of years,’ said Shadie, ‘I have no doubt scavengers have already raided the area and taken a lot of the jetsam, but knowing Kromus, anything of value, anything of import, would have been well hidden and well protected. Some things can only be found with the Force. We’ll find it.’
‘Shadie, are you certain you’re ready to revisit the debris of where you killed Kromus?’ asked Trylia.
‘It’s been long enough,’ said Shadie, ‘I’m ready. We’ll go, have a look, and…’ She smiled as an idea came to mind.
‘What?’ asked Knarf curiously.
‘I have an idea.’ She looked in Zaereg’s direction. ‘Zaereg?’ she called out to the Cathar. ‘How would you like to be tasked with a secret mission?’
* * *
The flight to the remains of Kromus’s ship was uneventful, much like the exploration of them. The team of Jedi and Mandos made a few passes before going in, in space suits, and found very little. The team met up on Coruscant, as had been requested by Master Herl’unik. They met in a private chamber at the Jedi Temple. The pirates were already there and had everything they had found laid out on a table.
‘Looks like you were more successful than we were,’ said Shadie, eager to see what they had brought.
The pirates’ mission had entailed finding Kromus’s old things that might have been scavenged and sold in the previous years. It looked like the pirates had found a lot more than Shadie had originally anticipated.
‘I was owed a few favours,’ said Zaereg. ‘There’s a navicomp on its way from a long lost contact.’
‘A long lost contact whom you happened to have contacted?’ said Fane.
‘Mere details, Jedi, mere details.’
Knarf placed what they had found on the table. Shadie had found Kromus’s lightsaber, the one with which he had fought her when she had killed him the second time. She placed it on the table. She studied their findings carefully.
‘Scavengers or maybe even Perce or Relsor have the rest of the remains,’ she said, ‘but at least we have this. Maybe it will give us some answers.’
Fane approached the table.
‘Where did you get this?’ he asked, pointing at another lightsaber. ‘This wasn’t Kromus’s.’
‘Oh, I sent out word to my contacts that anything related to Kromus’s associates should also be sent over or arranged for pickup,’ said Zaereg. ‘So, we’re good on our deal, right?’
‘Yes, don’t worry,’ said Shadie. ‘Whatever we don’t take, you can keep and trade.’
Fane picked up the lightsaber. He looked solemn.
‘Are you all right, Fane?’ The question came from Talyc, though Shadie was thinking it herself.
‘This was my brother’s,’ said Fane.
‘Lahnius,’ said Shadie, whom she had killed. That was what had caused Fane to go down a dark path before he returned to the light again. It had caused him much confusion and an exile from the Order. He had not yet taken a decision to return, as far as Shadie knew, now that the exile had been lifted.
‘I need to clear my mind,’ said Fane. ‘I need to meditate.’
Talyc smiled sympathetically, nodding. Fane left without saying another word, taking his brother’s lightsaber with him. Shadie looked at Talyc. She was concerned for Fane.
‘There is much darkness in the Force these days,’ she said. ‘I fear Fane is being affected more than he is letting on.’
‘I’m sure he’s fine,’ said Knarf. ‘Though he does seem a bit, I don’t know.’
‘I hope he doesn’t fall to the dark side again.’
‘Shadie,’ said Talyc. ‘He’s not going to fall to the dark side; he’s had you as his master.’
‘Exactly,’ said Knarf, nodding in agreement.
‘That’s why I worry,’ said Shadie. ‘I carry my darkness, but I have mastered it. I cannot control how it might affect someone else, someone who hasn’t even mastered their own darkness. How could he handle mine?’
‘He’s not sensing your darkness, because you have no darkness to be sensed,’ said Knarf. ‘You’ve mastered it, therefore it’s transformed by your light.’ He paused. ‘Whatever happens to Fane, whatever he thinks or does, is not a reflection of your training.’
‘That means if he turns out to be an amazing Jedi, it has nothing to with me either?’ Shadie teased, trying to make light of her worries. Knarf shrugged. Shadie looked back at the table. ‘There’s nothing here. Nothing that will help us. I just don’t understand what Relsor and Perce need me for, why they need me alive.’
There was a silence.
Something chimed and startled everyone out of their thoughts. Shadie checked her comlink. Knarf and Talyc checked theirs as well. Zaereg took out a few comlinks.
‘How many of those do you carry?’ said Knarf.
‘Hey, one must cover his tracks,’ said Zaereg. ‘It’s not any of mine, though.’
‘It’s not me either,’ said Talyc. Shadie shook her head. ‘Knarf?’
‘No, not me.’
Everyone looked around. It chimed again. Everyone’s attention went to the table.
‘Someone’s trying to reach someone from that!’ Shadie pointed at a chipped datacom. It was bigger than a comlink, but not quite as big as a datapad. It looked like Chiss design.
‘If it’s Relsor, you think he’s checking if you’ve got this?’ asked Talyc.
‘He’d contact me directly,’ said Shadie. ‘He’s smarter than that.’ Shadie went to reach for it.
‘Wait!’ said Knarf. ‘I need to slice into it and connect it to my datapad. If we can trace where it’s coming from, maybe we can find the source of the call.’
Knarf took out a portable cable and connected the two devices.
‘Do you always carry those on you?’ asked Talyc. ‘Or do you just happen to have one on you now?’
‘A slicer’s a slicer,’ said Knarf. ‘I always come prepared.’
Talyc laughed. Knarf nodded when it was ready. Whoever was calling was being insistent. Shadie picked up the special comlink. She hesitated. What was she supposed to say? “Hello, how may I help you?” She decided to opt for a more Darth Shadie-like voice and tone.
‘Yes?’ she replied.
* * *
The voice at the other end was female. It was certainly not Kromus’s voice. He had been trying to reach the other side of this holocom channel for years. Finally, someone had replied. He needed information; he needed to know if it was safe, if he could end his self-exile.
‘Please answer by yes or no,’ he said. ‘Please be truthful. I will sense it if you lie.’ He paused. ‘Are you Darth Shadie?’
‘Yes.’ Good. This was good.
‘Is Darth Kromus dead?’
‘Is Darth Gourd dead?’
‘Did you kill them?’
‘I killed Kromus. Twice.’ He knew about the first time; the second, he had not known of, due to his own exile and Force concealment.
‘Then who killed Darth Gourd?’
‘Darth Relsor, his nephew,’ said Shadie.
‘Relsor, a Chiss, full name, Haar’elso’rothmor, aligned with Darth Perce, who apprenticed under Kromus as I once did. Relsor killed his Uncle.’
‘Are you Jedi or Sith?’ He heard her breathing.
‘I am Jedi.’
‘Then you do not know the state of the Sith Empire?’
‘Who is this?’ asked the now Jedi Shadie.
‘I ask the questions. Reply honestly, it is necessary.’
‘I know the state of the Sith Empire. The Dark Council has joined forces with the True Sith.’
‘The Followers of Kromus.’ This was not good. He looked at the fire that warmed his shelter. Outside the wind was picking up. There would be another snow or ice storm this night. ‘Do you oppose these Followers of Kromus, then, if you are Jedi?’
‘Yes, I oppose them,’ said Shadie. He thought for a moment. He would have to meditate on this information. There was more he needed to know though. ‘Have you faced these leaders of the True Sith in battle?’
‘And?’ he said, urging her to explain what she knew.
‘They have gone to the Crypt. Do you know of it?’
‘Yes, I know this Crypt of which you speak.’
‘They have claimed it,’ said Shadie, ‘and are fuelled by the raw power of the dark side.’ This was interesting.
‘There have been changes in the Force,’ he said. ‘What have I sensed?’
‘Relsor, he is capable of creating gaps within the Force, illusions, mind tricks beyond any that have ever been seen or performed before, by any Jedi or Sith.’ So this was what had been happening. ‘Can I ask you something?’
He thought of granting her his answer immediately, but paused instead. He answered in a calculated manner.
‘It depends on the nature of your question; I may or may not answer.’
‘Are you friend or foe?’
He thought for a moment. Given the circumstances, the answer was apparent to him.
‘Friend. For now.’ He preferred to be upfront. After all, Shadie had been honest in all her replies; he had sensed no deception from her.
‘How is it that you do not know the state of the galaxy, friend?’
‘In due time, Jedi Shadie.’ He figured he might as well address her appropriately and cordially. ‘Stand by. I will be contacting you again shortly.’
He chimed off. Finally, communication; finally, answers. He would meditate and contemplate on what he had learnt.
“Seekers of Darkness” is written by Celinka Serre (2020).
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.