Fane stood before the holomonitor, speaking with Grand Master Herl’unik about the goings-on on Mandalore. He was briefing him on what information Lian had shared with him, without revealing their source. The Grand Master had reported a slight decrease in ill people, but not a significant enough amount to believe Relsor was stopping his malady.
‘Besides,’ said Fane, ‘his mere existence causes malady. Even if he stopped using the Force altogether, he would still cause illness and death. To stop him without killing him, he would have to be severed from the Force itself, and then some.’
‘I hope we are able to find him soon,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘I grow tired of watching innocent beings die.’
‘I’m with you on that one,’ said Fane. ‘As soon as we find him, we’ll let everyone know.’
‘And when you do find him, may the Force truly be with you.’
Fane finished his call with the Grand Master and returned to the others who sat on the lounge. Shadie looked pale and she had her eyes closed.
‘Are you all right, Shadie?’ asked Fane, concerned. Knarf was stroking her back.
‘It’s another ache and pain in my abdomen,’ said Shadie. ‘I feel weak, tired. I can’t seem to replenish my energy every time I spend some.’
‘It’s Relsor,’ said Fane, ‘I can sense his malady around you, but I can’t reach him through the Force or detect him through whatever he is doing to you.’
‘It’s getting worse,’ said Knarf. He crouched in front of Shadie. ‘You can fight him, yes?’
‘I’m doing my best,’ said Shadie.
‘What I don’t understand,’ said Talyc, ‘is why the rest of us are not affected. It’s as though he’s singling out Shadie and targeting only her.’
‘It’s because she’s the Lady of the Crypt,’ said Knarf, stroking Shadie’s hair. ‘He’s trying to kill her.’
‘By weakening her?’ asked Talyc. ‘It makes no sense.’
‘He’s hiding,’ said Shadie, ‘he’s hardly going to come out and kill me here, with Fane able to defeat him.’ She sighed. ‘On Ziost, we discovered that if former masters of the Crypt were still alive, they could somehow connect through the Force. It’s not like Fane or Lian’s connection to him, but we did find each other in the Force in order to aid each other. I know that if he could have reached Perce, he would have stopped the fight.’
‘And then we’d still have both of them to deal with,’ said Talyc.
‘Yes, but look at it from his perspective,’ said Shadie, ‘he’s all alone and grasping at anything in order to survive.’
‘So why does he want you dead?’ asked Talyc. ‘You’re not destined to destroy him. I don’t understand.’
‘I know why,’ said Knarf, looking up and behind him at Talyc who stood with his arms crossed. ‘If Shadie dies, he becomes Master of the Crypt again, and then Lian’s healing cannot affect him nor will it be able to stop his powers, most likely, and then Fane Lian’s Force bond may weaken. I believe Relsor thinks that by rebecoming the Master of the Crypt, Fane will no longer be able to defeat him.’
‘And then he’ll have the upper hand and destroy all who stand in his way,’ completed Talyc, nodding.
‘I suppose it’s easier this way than to return to the Crypt and go through an additional trial,’ said Shadie, smiling meagrely.
Fane sat down next to her. ‘It will be all right. You’ll fight the malady, and we’ll find Relsor, and defeat him.’ Shadie smiled. ‘You should come to the Crypt with us. I’m sure it’ll do you some good. Lian will be able to heal you a bit; it will help.’
Shadie nodded. ‘That would be nice.’
‘I suppose that rules out Awgro working for Relsor, if suspicions are correct that he’s trying to become Master of the Crypt,’ said Talyc.
‘Yeah, something about that seems off to me,’ said Knarf. ‘It’s strange, all this cloak and vibroknife stuff going on with those Sith. I have a hard time trusting Void.’
‘Well, he is Sith, and there is much about him we don’t know,’ said Talyc. ‘You don’t need the Force to sense that much.’
‘He did give us accurate information regarding Balmorra,’ said Fane. ‘We didn’t lose anyone, only a few empty ships when the Empire settled their outposts there.’
‘Still, it doesn’t matter how much truth there is if there are lies hidden behind them,’ said Knarf. ‘It still makes them lies.’
‘So who’s lying then, Bes’laar? Void? Have you tried contacting Awgro?’
‘We have no way of contacting him,’ said Shadie, ‘but if Void is trying to take the Crypt, he’s going about it in a very roundabout way.’
* * *
Brenum and Trylia had already arrived at the Crypt when the Sphere touched down, landing next to the Krayt Dragon. The group of Jedi and Mandos stepped out and were greeted by Thera who was beaming up at Fane; Nriwe stood next to her.
Talyc held his man’s hand and held out the other to bring the little Twi’lek into a hug.
‘Hi Uncle Fane and Uncle Talyc!’ she looked up at them. ‘I’m so happy you’re here. You’re my favourite, Uncle Fane.’
‘Hey, what about me?’ said Talyc, feigning disappointment.
‘Ah,’ Talyc put his hand to his heart, ‘then I am a content man.’
The little girl started skipping ahead, leading the way.
‘Why does Fane get to be the favourite?’ asked Knarf, chuckling.
‘It’s the lightsaber,’ said Nriwe. ‘Same colour as her skin.’ Fane nodded.
Thera ran up to the tarentatek and petted it. ‘Tatty, look, it’s Uncle Fane!’ The beast lifted its head, snorted and made a small sound, and then lay back down. The creature had truly become a creature of both light and dark, capable of protecting with the light and attacking enemies with the dark side. It kept its gaze on them as they passed.
Finally, they reached Lian. He embraced his friends. Brenum and Trylia stood from their seats and greeted the others as well. Fane had mentioned wanting them all to connect through the Force and for him and Lian to attempt to connect to Relsor, perhaps help heal Shadie that way. Talyc didn’t know if any of it would work, but they would try their best, as they always did, and Talyc would be there to support his friends.
While the Jedi meditated, Talyc and Nriwe caught up on some Mandalorian news. There wasn’t much to report.
‘Lian wants to turn this place into an academy of sorts,’ said Nriwe, ‘like a Jedi’s resort, except it would be for non-Jedi too, for those who are Force-sensitive to learn but who are not tied to any order.’
‘What about dark side users?’ asked Talyc.
‘Nah, I don’t think there would be many of those. The problem is, with this place being secret, only a select few would come at a time and be trusted to learn here. I think it would be nice though for Thera to have some friends.’
‘You bring her to Mandalore sometimes,’ said Talyc.
‘Yes, but it’s not the same. This is her home and her place of training, yet she should be able to have others her age here with her. I don’t know, we’re still discussing the details, nothing set in permacrete yet.’
Talyc smiled. ‘I’m happy that you’re happy, Nriwe. Clan Kandera misses you, though.’
‘Clan Kandera? Or its leader?’
‘Okay, I miss you. I haven’t appointed anyone as the clan’s second yet.’
Nriwe turned her head and pointed at Knarf. ‘That man has followed you through thick and thin and has dedicated himself to the clan as much as he has to his lady. He’s your best friend. Get on with it.’
* * *
Shadie felt somewhat revitalised after the healing meditation.
‘I remember waking up and looking up at your father’s face, Lian. He was always there to heal us. I miss him sometimes. You?’
‘Every day,’ said Lian. ‘I’ve been watching old holorecordings he’d done, some messages he’d recorded for Ruther and me.’ He looked at Fane. ‘If he could see us now, eh, he would be proud of what we have become.’
‘I hope I’ll live up to what I’m worthy of to earn that pride,’ said Fane. ‘Anyway, time to try to connect to Relsor now.’
Fane and Lian installed themselves; Shadie watched on. She could sense the illness inside of her, she could sense Relsor reaching towards her, but she could not stop it, block it, or find it. He was somehow still able to shroud himself, yet target her individually. She was worried about her abilities in battle. It had been some time, but at least Lian’s healing helped her recover enough.
It didn’t take long before Fane and Lian were out of their meditation.
‘It’s impossible to find him,’ Fane complained. ‘I have no idea how he’s doing it.’
‘It’s okay, my man,’ said Talyc. ‘You’ll figure it out.’
‘I’d like to figure out how to heal Shadie completely,’ said Lian.
There was a flicker somewhere and a ghostly figure appeared.
Nriwe gasped. ‘Am I supposed to see this?’ she asked.
The Force-spirit of the Pureblood Sith smiled. ‘All who are in this room are able to see my apparition.’
Thera looked amused, while Nriwe still looked stunned. Talyc seemed startled, but everyone else looked calm.
Lian stepped forward. ‘It has been a long time.’
‘I come, for it is necessary. The light side alone will not heal the Lady of the Crypt. You will have to find a way to combine both light and dark in order to neutralise the illness.’
‘I might be able to do that myself,’ said Shadie. ‘I’ve been able to combine both light and dark side powers in the past.’
‘You must replenish the life force that is being drained from you,’ the Pureblood’s Force ghost said. ‘Find a way to loop it back into yourself and any new life force will not be lost, only new and fresh energy will enter.’ He took a step towards her. ‘I am a ghost, but my dark side might be able to give you a helping hand in developing this ability which you need. That is why I have come.’
* * *
‘I have to admit, this was an interesting visit,’ said Brenum. ‘Productive.’ He looked back at the women, who sat a bit farther chitchatting, and then lowered his voice. ‘Trylia has been sending messages to Relsor, hoping he will reply.’
‘What is she writing to him?’ asked Knarf.
‘A bit how we’re doing, a bit how she hopes the news of fewer people dying is because he has found a way to exist without his malady, that sort of thing. She hopes it will prompt him to reply to her.’
‘And if he replies, then there may be a way to track his signal,’ said Knarf. Brenum nodded.
‘I hadn’t thought of that,’ said Talyc.
‘And are you okay with her writing to Relsor?’ asked Fane.
‘As okay as a lover can be,’ admitted Brenum, ‘but we have to find a way to find him. He can’t hide forever.’
‘Well, let’s hope the Chiss finish developing their anti-stealth weapons soon,’ said Knarf.
‘We can’t rely on them,’ said Brenum, ‘the Chiss are aligned with the Empire. They’ll find Relsor and use the information to garner leverage with the Republic. The Empire was perhaps weak right after Ziost, but their forces are strong again. The Jedi and the Republic need to protect their territory. What cost will it be to us to have a prototype?’
‘Why would Void share the information with us if he had no intention of sharing the prototypes with us?’ said Talyc.
‘I don’t trust Void,’ said Knarf.
‘I don’t know,’ said Brenum. He shrugged. The Sith Lord had pulled many stealthy stunts in the past, had somehow aided them, but had always put the Sith Empire first.
‘I trust him,’ said Lian, breaking the silence.
At that moment, something in the room chimed. Lian pulled out the small comlink that Lord Void has given them; Brenum recognised it.
‘Right on cue,’ the blue-haired Jedi said.
‘Lord Void,’ said Lian into the comlink.
* * *
Void turned a corner and ensured no one was nearby to listen in.
‘I must be brief, but I need to warn you that Awgro has gone rogue and has left Dromund Kaas.’
He turned another corner and exited the complex that was the seat of the Empire. He began walking along the way that led to the Imperial Intelligence Head Quarters.
‘Is there anything you need from us?’ asked Lian, sounding unsure.
‘No, it’s what you need from me. The tracker I put on his shuttle indicates he is heading to Mandalore.’
‘Mandalore?’ he heard Knarf say. ‘What does he want with Mandalore?’
‘I don’t know, but I’d suggest you get yourselves there quickly and make sure he is well contained. I don’t know what he’s up to and I intend to find out.’
Lord Void broke the call and entered the I.I. Head Quarters main complex and walked straight to the Minister of Imperial Intelligence’s office. The man sat at his desk, looking focused. He stood as soon as he saw Void and bowed.
‘My Lord, what an unexpected surprise. What can I do you for?’
‘Minister, my apprentice has gone rogue. I need you to pull up anything you can find on him, his past, his records, everything. I sense he has deceived me much and I was a fool not to see this sooner. It would not look good for the new Head of the Dark Council to have such a scandal soon after he was appointed as the Head.’
‘I understand. I’ll dig up everything I can find.’ The man began looking through the holocomputer.
‘I need records of his affiliations, liaisons, family if he ever had any,’ said Lord Void. ‘He’s up to something, and it’s not anything that will help the Empire.’
‘Well, we have on file here that he has had no intimate affiliations or close liaisons aside from you and Haar’elso’rothmor.’
‘And his parents?’ asked Lord Void.
‘His mother works on Nar Shaddaa. Nothing on his father.’
‘What about Kromus? Anything there? Nothing on any Jedi?’
‘Aside from what we know about Jedi Eidahs, or Shadie as she refers to herself, nothing.’ The man stroked his chin.
‘His mother, find her and question her,’ Lord Void said pointing at the Minister. ‘I want to find out everything she knows about Awgro; his lineage, background, legacy, anything you can find out. I want to know what his next move is.’
‘Are you anticipating a coup?’ asked the Minister of Intelligence.
‘I don’t know what to expect,’ admitted Void. ‘He was on Relsor’s ship a long time. He might be working with him behind the scenes, or he might be trying to access this Crypt Relsor was once a master of. Awgro knows secrets we don’t; I intend to find out what they are.’ The Minister shifted uneasily. ‘What?’
‘My Lord,’ he said, his voice shaking, ‘it appears there is record that your apprentice requested aid for a mission. I was off duty at the time and Watcher Six was in charge.’
‘It appears one of my agents has been deployed to help him.’
‘Good, your agent can help us. Awgro was heading towards Mandalore. Contact your agent and make sure Awgro is brought back to Imperial Space ASAP.’
‘I’ll raise him right away.’ The Minister punched in a few keys and attempted to connect a call with his agent. There was a strange chime that came in. ‘My Lord, he’s gone silent for the mission.’ Lord Void narrowed his eyes. The Minister cleared his throat nervously. ‘When he checks his comlink he’ll see I tried to call and he’ll report in, but there is no way to know when that will be.’
‘Then pray that he checks in soon,’ Void said menacingly. ‘If Awgro is working for Relsor, Empire be damned if whatever he needs to do on Mandalore allows our enemy to succeed his plan to take over the galaxy. The Jedi knight who is to destroy him is on Mandalore, and while the Jedi are our enemy, if anything happens to him, Relsor will not be destroyed and then the Empire will fall. We need that Jedi alive.’
‘Yes, My Lord.’
Lord Void turned and left, grumbling to himself. Awgro was an enigma to him and he could not guess what business he had on Mandalore, but Lord Void would be damned if he didn’t suspect his apprentice was working with the enemy.
Void activated the special comlink again, contacting the Jedi healer.
‘Awgro is accompanied by an Imperial Agent, and there is a possibility that he is working for Relsor.’
‘In addition to your original suspicions about him trying to take over the Crypt?’ said Lian. ‘But Relsor is trying to weaken Shadie for his own purposes. None of this makes sense.’
‘No, it does not.’
‘I’ve been wondering since your visit, why didn’t you come forward regarding your suspicions about Awgro sooner? I mean, in the past years, you could have gotten in touch. Why wait until now?’ asked Lian.
‘I still had faith in my apprentice. In recent days he has been acting differently. He has found something or has been given a mission. I have Imperial Intelligence on the matter.’
‘Well, thank you for alerting us. The others have left already. He’ll be intercepted and questioned.’
“The Future of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2022).
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.