Knarf had tried to slice his way out of the room using the panel at the door. It was as though the panel was Knarf proof. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t slice, except for this kriffing door. He sighed. The room was dark and dank.
He took a few steps and looked around. He felt as though he’d walked into another trap. Well, actually he had been pushed in. That Sith with the tip of his blade so close to his face, the heat of it almost burning him, had caused an emotional flashback and he had not wanted to take the chance of losing part of his face. He could feel, truly and fully feel, Shadie, worried and afraid for him. The presence she’d felt. That meant the faint presence of Kromus was here in this room.
Brenum had given Knarf a few pointers on honing his sensitivities with Shadie. Knarf had no intention of becoming a Jedi; he only wished to develop his connection with his Lady, to strengthen their bond. They had something special, it would only become more special with time. He focused on that bond, hoping it would show him the way out.
‘Knarf.’ He paused. Had he just heard a whisper? ‘Knarf!’
No, it had shouted. It seemed… Was it Kromus’s voice? He remembered the Sith Lord’s voice from the holorecording he’d watched before Shadie had killed him the first time.
‘Who’s there?’ called Knarf, alarmed and frightened. His heart pounded.
Suddenly, he realised the voice was in his head. ‘I must be going mad,’ he thought.
‘You are not, Knarf. You are Force-sensitive. You’ve begun honing in on and perfecting your powers. I can help you Master them. You can become more powerful than even Shadie.’
Knarf said nothing. He walked towards the source of the goading voice reverberating in his head. There, in the corner, at the far back of a narrow corridor within the room, to the far side of the room, there was a glow, a reddish purple glow. It stood on a stand; it was shaped like a pyramid.
Knarf felt his heart leap. He also felt fear that wasn’t his. He looked about. There must be monitors and security cams somewhere, he figured. Shadie must be seeing, she must know. Therefore he knew: this was Kromus’s Holocron.
‘Take me, Knarf. I am already activated. I shall show you how to use the Force.’
‘You will turn me to the dark side, and you know, for Shadie, that would be worse than losing me to death.’
‘You resist because you fear. Let me show you the true potential of the Force.’
Knarf put his hands to his head. He could see images. He stood his ground. He was feeling things, seeing things, tasting the Force in its purest and most raw forms. Sensing the Force more intensely than the energies he felt with Shadie, more intensely than anything he had ever known in all his life. His expression hardened.
‘You know, you’re right, Holocron.’ He heard a satisfied breath issue from the voice behind the thought in the holocron. ‘I am Force-sensitive. I can feel the Force. I can learn to use it. Therefore I can wield a lightsaber too. And…’
With a snap-hiss, he activated Brenum’s blade. The yellow hue glowed brightly in the dim-lit room, illuminating his face and contrasting with the colours illuminated by the holocron. The hum of the blade echoed loudly.
Knarf smiled maliciously.
Shadie held her breath. Trylia took her hand. The two women looked at each other momentarily.
‘I can destroy you, Holocron.’
Knarf lifted the yellow blade up high vertically, and sent it straight down into the holocron. There was a scream in the Force, as the holocron broke in pieces that scattered across the room. A strong force pushed Knarf as he bounced backwards, putting both hands on his head and shouted out in pain.
Then it was all over. Shadie sighed in relief. She sent vibes to him. Knarf stood and hurried to the door. He looked at the panel, then at the activated lightsaber and back again at the panel. He flicked the panel with the blade and the doors parted open.
Knarf ran out, powering off the lightsaber, and Shadie rushed to join him. He took her in his arms, leaning his cheek on hers and holding her tightly in his arms as though they’d been apart for weeks.
‘Oh, Shadie,’ he said, still in the embrace.
‘Knarf, I was so scared, I could sense Kromus and when I saw it was the holocron, I thought I’d lose you to it.’
Knarf held her ever more tightly, she felt his eyelash on her cheek; he closed his eyes momentarily, and then loosened the embrace in order to look at her.
‘Shadie, it showed me the Force, what it felt to truly have the Force, and I tasted the dark side. And then when I destroyed it, it showed me what would happen if…’ His eyes reddened and he blinked a few times. ‘It showed you dying, and…’ His eyes started glistening. ‘It showed you turning to the dark side.’ Knarf had tears in his eyes. His voice was a little cracked. ‘I don’t ever want to lose you, Shadie. I cannot!’ His last words came out as a whisper.
‘And you will not. I promise!’
Knarf kissed her. His lips were warm and passionate. Shadie felt his tears run down onto her face. Then she looked at him and smiled, putting her hands on his face, wiping his tears.
‘You brave barve, you destroyed the holocron.’
‘I guess I did.’ Knarf grinned with pride.
‘So maybe now you can slice this thing and we can follow those Sith,’ said Talyc.
‘In a moment.’ Knarf put both hands on Shadie’s face. ‘I love you so much!’ He kissed her gently. Then, wiping his nose, he said: ‘Now I’m ready to slice.’
‘Was about time.’
* * *
The tunnel led to the level below, then divided in two: one of the new tunnels led up, the other straight. The Jedi and Mandalorians obviously took a chance going up. Then the tunnel levelled out. There were many access ways, which they could take, but it was obvious they could not guess where Kromus would be, for he was still hiding in the Force, and would continue to do so until a more suitable moment.
Kromus turned his eyes away from the monitor and looked at Darth Gourd, who was still clad head to toe; neither his skin nor his eyes were showing, though Kromus knew Gourd could see through it quite well. It was a special cape, he knew, and when the cape and hood were taken off, a Sith jumpsuit would be revealed, one Gourd had designed himself. This one sat leaning back in a somewhat relaxed position, facing Kromus.
‘They are searching for you, Lord Kromus, probing. Our Sith who hide in the Force and return their presence to it,’ he shook his head, ‘it is not causing them confusion anymore. They seem to have adapted to the situation, detecting the Sith as much through Force presence as through the absence of it.’
‘You are right, my friend,’ replied Kromus.
‘Your Sith are like mine, they do not fear death, but how many more can we afford to lose?’ Kromus snorted. Again, Gourd made a good point. ‘Lord Kromus, when I joined your cause, I was already a master, secretly trained by another. Those who apprenticed with me never knew of my true identity… Except for a few. And when I placed your holocron on Csilla and remained there to safeguard it, no one suspected me.
‘We share a similar goal. You have kept…my secret all these years, and for that trust and loyalty, I have served you, even though I am master of the dark side myself, lord to my sector of the galaxy, leader of my own faction. We have never trespassed on each other’s domain for our own goals. We have often helped one another in times when the Sith were in peril. And we have often shared council.’ He paused deliberately. ‘Heed my council now. Perhaps it is time for me to reveal myself to the Jedi, to cause them disruption, confusion. They believe that your apprentices, acolytes and assassins are dead, or soon will be. And who knows what happened to Fane. I know what Shadie means to you. As lord myself, I can understand without the petty jealousies of an apprentice. For I too have an apprentice who is important to me.
‘Perhaps this will goad her to your side, as you will it to be. The Jedi do not know you have another master by your side, one who would give his life if needed for the great lord, one who would take on the mantle if this lord were destroyed, so that his legacy would go on. So that both our legacies would go on, so that our Sith can rule the galaxy. One who is willing to sacrifice one of his secrets now to help you regain Shadie by your side.’
‘Gourd, you took on the mantle well once, dispersed yet unified all my Sith, and gathered them again when I returned. I am not one to share power with another, but you are not one to seek it. If I am destroyed, it will be final; there no longer is anything to keep me from dying for good. If I am destroyed, you will have to destroy Shadie.’
Kromus looked back at the monitor. He could see that Knarf and Talyc were obviously discussing something, probably through their built-in helmet com channels, but Kromus had not put up the sound so it did not matter anyway.
‘That man lied to me, Gourd,’ Kromus said, pointing at Talyc on the monitor screen. ‘How did I not sense it?’
‘The Mandalorian, if bending the truth, could have passed through your Force senses. You were not at full strength yet.’
‘And tell me, why is it every time I try to destroy and kill Knarf, he does not die!’ Kromus was angered. Perhaps he was jealous. Shadie used to give all her affection to him, albeit sisterly affection, but still. There was no room left for Kromus in her heart.
‘Because you tried to kill him or turn him,’ replied Gourd.
‘You have a plan?’ Kromus asked expectantly.
‘Rather than kill Knarf, seeing as it will fail anyway, destroy Shadie, or worse, turn her to the dark side. It will destroy Knarf’s every being.’
‘I think you’re onto something.’
Gourd laughed. ‘Am I the only one to whom you say such things, and to whom you speak as an equal?’
‘A loyal servant of the dark side, who seeks to join forces with one such as me and independently does his own thing without getting in my way, aiding me when I need it…’
‘And seeking aid only when needed,’ finished Gourd.
‘We’ve worked like this for many years,’ said Kromus.
‘You jumped in front of me, literally, only to discover I was a master of the dark side of equal strength as you. I sensed your power, proposed a mutual understanding.’
‘And as proof of loyalty, you revealed your secrets, which I alone know.’
‘Not for long anymore,’ said Gourd. ‘My Sith and yours will soon know the true face of Darth Gourd. After that, it will only be a question of timing to decide when and how to reveal the other secrets.’
‘You could have refused to help me go after Shadie,’ said Kromus.
‘She is too dangerous,’ replied Gourd. ‘And I remained quiet and hidden for far too long. My Sith were growing restless for battle. This suits my purposes fine.’
‘And if I am victorious?’
‘I have my part of the galaxy to rule and you have yours. One Sith Lord cannot be at too many places at once.’
‘And if you chose to turn on me?’
‘You would already be dead, Kromus. I could have killed you while you were weak, right after your return. Our powers are of equal match. We cannot destroy each other, we both learnt that the hard way.’
‘And we continue to,’ laughed Kromus. Every once in a while they would fight and would not shy away from attempting to kill the other. Both their powers were so strong; it always somehow ended in a nil. ‘The Force wants us both.’
‘Yes, and it seems it wants Knarf alive to see Shadie fall.’
‘We must disperse them. I need to battle her…’ Kromus thought for a moment. Where would be good? A place with several decks, but one large room. ‘Perfect, yes. I shall await them in the cargo holds.’
‘A wise choice. You should wait and let enough time pass before broadcasting your presence. While in battle with me, they will be more vulnerable to separate, be confused, and out of balance.’
‘Don’t you ever dare tell anyone what I am about to say, but you are like the other half of my brain.’
Gourd laughed. ‘Perhaps I am. The Force created us both for a reason. Perhaps today’s victory is precisely it.’
‘Let us hope so.’ Kromus stood. As did Gourd.
‘To a new Sith era,’ said Gourd. ‘The Jedi and all beings of this galaxy shall bow to us one way or another.’
They both exited the room and went in their separate directions. Yes, had Darth Gourd not been of different species, Kromus would have sworn he was his twin. In the Force, he was.
* * *
The host of Jedi and Mandalorians entered what looked like the engineering area. All those who were at controls, spun around to face them.
‘Why, hello there,’ said Brenum. None replied. ‘We’re looking for Kromus. Would you be so kind as to tell us which way we should go?’
In response, came a unison of snap-hisses as all twenty Sith ignited their lightsabers; many wielded two, and several wielded staves. They seemed to take a moment to study the company of humans and Togruta and Twi’lek. Or at least Shadie assumed the other Mandalorians were human.
‘I’ll take that as a no,’ said Brenum.
Knarf took a step forward. ‘I believe,’ he took his helmet off and placed it by a console somewhere, ‘I’m the one your master’s been trying to kill.’
He took out his vibroblade. There was a volley of laser bolts that flew past Knarf’ with precision, flying towards each of the Sith. When the Sith seemed occupied enough, the Mandalorians switched to vibroblades and vibroswords, whilst the Jedi jumped into the fray.
Knarf shouted aggressively, as Talyc shouted a war cry in Mando’a. They paired up and attacked a few Sith as though they were hunting womp rats, holding their vibroblades like spears and jabbing them at the Sith. Many Mandalorians twisted themselves around, spinning in order to cause as much chaos among the Sith as possible.
‘Only two each,’ said Brenum, ‘but I think I might be greedy.’
He jumped into the air, back flipped while still in the air, holding his lightsabers close to his body, and at the last minute, while he landed and spread out his arms, slicing one Sith from the head down with his yellow blade, his offhand blade, and slashing at another diagonally with his blue blade, his main hand blade. He then turned on one foot to stab a third Sith in the stomach with the yellow blade.
‘Now that’s what I call impressive,’ said Talyc.
‘Oh, that’s nothing,’ said Trylia. ‘However, this…’
She used the Force to propel herself forward, staff held out in front of her at arm’s length vertically, and charged like a Gundark into the mass of Sith ahead, and she spun so quickly on herself, spinning her staff blade vertically, so rapidly that there seemed to be only a purple blur in the centre of a lilac-skinned body. When she was done, four Sith were down.
‘Hey,’ said Shadie, ‘save some for me!’
She sent a stream of blue-white lightning into the crowd of Sith that were advancing in on a Mandalorian. She saw him get hit with lightsabers from all angles. The armour protected him, but the Sith would not back down. She used the Force to pull many of them away from him, but one Sith sent his lightsabers spinning around his head and used the Force to send them towards the Mandalorian. They hit him so many times as they spun, and at the same spots, until finally one blade managed to pierce through the beskar armour.
‘Aargh!’ shouted the Mandalorian, falling to the ground, bearing a scorched hole.
‘One Mando down!’ shouted Talyc angrily. ‘Show these Sith no mercy.’
The fight went on for a bit longer. Talyc used mostly his hands and legs now to fight the Sith, his vibroblade only there to block the lightsabers. He held it up, blocking one blade as he bent and kicked at the mid, then switched hands, coming back up and sent a good punch into the same Sith’s face who fell back onto Trylia’s lightsaber.
Knarf seemed to dance on his toes nimbly, as he moved with grace. His brows furrowed at times, creasing above his nose when he concentrated harder on the fight, the veins on his temples seemed to pop out of his skin, and he set his jaw as he stabbed a Sith in the gut. Sweat beads formed on his forehead and dripped down his face. It was as though a bucket of water had been poured onto his face, and his glasses were a little askew. Shadie had never found him more handsome. She had also never felt his Force presence so strongly. She concentrated on the Sith who was fighting Knarf.
Knarf pushed the Sith off him with force, blocking with his vibroblade, grunting as he did so. Shadie caught the Sith in a Force-grip from behind, holding him immobile in the air next to her, and splintered him with her blade.
Several more Sith went down around her and the fight was over. Shadie wiped Knarf’s forehead with her hand, somewhat amused, and relieved that he had survived wondrously.
‘I sweat just for you, Shadie,’ he said, smiling and out of breath.
‘Please, spare us the details,’ laughed Talyc.
‘They always do this,’ said Brenum.
‘And what will you do for me?’ came a new voice.
Everyone turned to look in the direction from where the speaker had come, as the doors parted open and a man entered the room, suddenly letting his presence be sensed in the Force. He was covered from head to foot in a dark cape that seemed to be wrapped around him; it covered his face and hooded him. It was as though strands of cloth wrapped around him, ending as a cape and hood. Shadie had never seen this being before. She did not know if he was human or humanoid. He held a lightsaber in one hand and another weapon Shadie could not identify in the other.
Shadie took a tentative yet firm step forward. ‘I will do nothing for you, Sith,’ she said, looking straight at where his eyes would be.
The Sith chuckled eerily. ‘Oh really?’
He walked towards them but remained a good distance away.
‘So Kromus sends out another of his apprentices,’ said Trylia, studying the being, speaking what probably everyone was thinking, that this was yet another apprentice, here to try to kill Shadie, like Lahnius, like Fane, like the assassins.
‘No, Togruta, you are mistaken. Kromus and I are, you could say, of like mind, and have joined forces.’
‘Kromus has no equals,’ said Shadie, ‘and regards no one as such. He would soon have you killed.’
‘Oh, he has tried, as I have tried to kill him. Seems the Force needs us both to work together now.’
‘You are a fool if you believe that,’ she insisted. ‘No apprentice of Kromus can ever surpass his power, let alone survive against me.’
She took a defensive stance, keeping her legs wide, with her body completely balanced at the centre.
‘Then it is a good thing that I am not his apprentice,’ replied the Sith.
‘Who’s then?’ demanded Brenum.
‘No one’s! For I am Master Darth Gourd, Lord of the Sith!’
He made one strange motion and his cape seemed to unravel and dropped to the floor. Under, he was garbed in a slick silver jumpsuit, black boots, black gloves. He was a rather muscular…not man, as Shadie had thought, which is what grabbed most of the company’s attention, and they all gaped at him as he stood back, his red eyes gleaming at them in stark contrast to his blue skin.
‘You’re Chiss!’ Shadie exclaimed.
‘I am,’ he replied. ‘It was me who placed the Holocron on Csilla and safeguarded it for many years actually. It was perfect as no one would suspect me, and my Sith obeyed my very orders and aided Kromus in his hunt against you. It was me who caused ships to crash using the Force. It was me who influenced and persuaded the Chiss Ascendancy to contact the Core for help. I knew, as Kromus knew, that the Force would tell me when it was time for Kromus’s return to life. He needed a host from whom he could extract life energy to fill his body. It was me who ensured a Jedi was sent, thus giving Kromus the perfect host from whom to extract life and power. It was me who disabled the security systems so Kromus could leave with a ship, and who leaked the recording to the other Chiss so that you could be lured out of your hiding place, your self-inflicted exile.
‘And then I left Csilla, regrouped everyone when I had ordered them to — they had previously been ordered to scatter systematically — and we watched Kromus’s new rise to full power. And yes, as some of you may be wondering,’ he added, his glaring red eyes scanning them all, ‘it was me who flew the half-built dreadnought into victory at the first space battle. As you probably saw, it is now complete.’ Darth Gourd grinned.
‘What better secret weapon than another master of the dark side, and one of the most unlikely species to be a Force-user: a Chiss,’ he went on. ‘And a Chiss Sith Lord with a whole legion of Sith followers at his side.’ He gestured with his arms, implying he had even more Sith warriors than they could ever know. ‘I can sense your confusion, yet you are piecing it all together in your mind, Shadie.’
Shadie was. This Chiss was powerful in the Force. Either he could read her mind or he could sense all that through the fluctuations and vibrations in the Force. She saw Knarf was studying him very carefully, looking at the strange weapon in his hand, and he took a subtle step closer to Shadie’s side, a hand almost on her arm.
‘You are surprised and caught off balance,’ continued Gourd. ‘That is good. Feel it, hone it. That could become an asset if you knew how to use such shock and confusion to your advantage.’
‘Are you trying to retrain me in the dark side?’ inquired Shadie with a touch of disbelief.
‘Well, you have gotten rusty, I admit, but you don’t need re-training, you are of the dark side. It is your true nature. Find your true path once more. Let us join forces and destroy Kromus together.’
Shadie glowered at him, having replied in a low and slow, and menacing manner. She felt Knarf shiver next to her, although she did sense a touch of admiration and relief from him at the same time.
‘Then so be it.’
He looked at her, immobile. Then he came at her so suddenly, pulsing with the Force to send the others staggering back, far back. Shadie ignited her blade and blocked his, but then she saw the mysterious weapon come to life and snap in the air, snaking its way towards, it was all too fast for Shadie to block in time. She braced herself for the blow.
Next thing she knew a vibroblade had blocked the mysterious weapon, which she now saw was wrapped around the vibroblade. Knarf stood before Darth Gourd. He had been quick, he had… She gasped at Knarf. He had used the Force to sense Gourd’s next move or intention. Gourd seemed as shocked as she was, and Knarf apparently took advantage of that to yank the lightwhip out of Gourd’s hands.
This lightwhip was a short one, but such weapons were rare and extremely dangerous, and extremely difficult to wield; one had to truly master the technique to use it without risk of whipping themselves. Who was this Darth Gourd? This Chiss Sith? He’d been hiding all this time, awaiting this moment to reveal himself.
Knarf motioned with his vibroblade and the lightwhip powered down, falling to the floor. Knarf looked up at Gourd.
‘If you want to destroy my Lady, you’ll have to go through me first!’
‘As you wish, Knarf!’
Gourd grabbed Knarf’s arm and Force jumped high above the others. They landed on a platform several decks higher and Gourd shoved Knarf through a door that closed behind them.
‘Knarf!’ Shadie stammered. ‘He’s fighting a Sith master! Alone!’
Shadie was fighting to keep her panic under control.
‘Shadie,’ said Talyc, ‘schematics I took before indicate they’ve entered a cargo hold of some sort, a very large one at that. There’s another access to it down the hall.’
‘Let’s go,’ she said.
They all hurried in the direction Talyc had indicated. When they finally entered the cargo hold, Shadie could sense Kromus in the Force. He was here.
Many crates were stacked here and there. There were several platforms. Very large and very high was this hold.
‘Where are they?’
‘Shadie, up there!’ cried Trylia.
Knarf was duelling Darth Gourd on a catwalk up above, very high above.
‘Knarf!’ she cried.
‘I’ve got it under control, my Lady,’ he called back down to her.
Several doors were heard opening and closing as many Sith ran in. Shadie could now tell by their stance, their run, their cloaks, now that she paid attention to the minute details, which Sith were Kromus’s and which were Darth Gourd’s. The Sith they had fought whom she had sensed fought differently than others, had been Gourd’s Sith. And now here they were, many Sith, all mixed into one team, a team formed of Kromus and Gourd followers.
‘Great,’ said Brenum.
‘More prey for my blades,’ said Talyc. ‘Aargh!’ He shouted, charging towards the Sith, fighting.
As chaos unfolded and began to reign in the room, Kromus made his presence grow in the Force, and Shadie could sense him so strongly. She narrowed her senses to focus on him alone and followed his presence in the Force.
“Wielders of Pure Light” 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.