Talyc stood holding the assault canon, shooting at oncoming Sith, desecrating the ground before him. He cried out something in Mando’a.
‘You’re having way too much fun with that thing!’ said Kelbourn.
‘Damn right, I am!’ Talyc shouted out over the noise.
When he’d had enough, he passed the heavy weapon back to the others. Kelbourn took out his vibrosword and swirled it about.
‘Those Sith are Darth Gourd’s.’
‘Is there a different between Darth Gourd’s and Darth Perce’s?’ asked Talyc. ‘They all look the same to me.’
‘Fighting style, fighting stance,’ said Kelbourn. ‘Shall we to the group over there?’
Talyc looked back at the Temple from the distance.
‘I hope our Jedi friends are all right,’ he said, feeling worry.
‘We can always go help Shadie defeat the Sith inside the Temple,’ said Kelbourn.
‘Can we, though?’ The Mandalore’s wife approached. ‘The resistance fighters seem to have things under control for the moment. Many of the Sith returned to the Temple. If we attack them from behind, while Shadie and the others fight from the front, they’ll be overwhelmed.’
‘Excellent idea,’ said Kelbourn. He began towards the Temple as eagerly as Talyc felt.
* * *
When Shadie found the other Jedi, Lian hurried towards her.
‘Shadie, Knarf, Fane, it’s good to see you alive.’
‘Same here, Lian,’ replied Fane.
Shadie had a look around. The Jedi had taken a defensive formation near the entrance; others had rounded up their dead friends in one corner of the room. As though knowing her thoughts, Lian led her to where Master Salah and Ruther’s bodies lay.
‘Lian, I’m so sorry,’ she said.
‘I know.’ Lian paused. ‘He knew. Ruther knew he was going to die.’ Lian showed Shadie the datapad. ‘He also knew that if he was killed, Coruscant would be saved and I would likely survive this war.’
Fane crouched next to the dead Jedi.
‘So many of my companions, so many who trained with either Master Salah or Master Juun Kloh, or both.’ Fane balled his hands into fists a few times, loosening them up every time. ‘If I didn’t have the discipline, I think I might be tempted by the dark side right now.’
‘I feel the same way,’ said Lian. ‘That’s why I’ve stayed here. We’re protecting the younger ones.’ He pointed at the other end of the room where several Jedi, including Josur stood protectively around a group of younglings and apprentices. ‘Brenum and Trylia went after Gourd and Perce. No news from them yet. Many of the Masters are missing. I’d like to lead a team to search for them. I’m assuming you’ll attempt to join Brenum and Trylia in the search for Gourd?’
‘Yes,’ Shadie nodded. She looked back at Lian. ‘There is a secret hatch under the rug in the Council Chamber. Only masters know about it. It is seldom used. There is a tunnel that leads to a hidden area of the Temple. I’ve never been, but I know it’s there. It’s possible the Masters have gone in to find some relics that might help us. You’ll need the Force to enter.’
‘If the Masters were having a meeting when the Temple was overrun, it would make sense for them to attempt to regroup in a hidden area and plan a counter attack,’ said Fane.
‘I’ve been hoping they had found a safe place to hide in,’ said Lian. ‘I’ll take a handful of Jedi with me. I’ll contact you when I have news.’ Shadie nodded. Lian left at a rapid pace.
Shadie took out her comlink. ‘Brenum? Trylia?’
‘Shadie! It’s good to hear your voice,’ said Trylia. The sound of lightsabers sizzling through the air could be heard.
‘I’ve arrived at the Temple,’ Shadie told them. ‘Lian has gone in search of the Masters. Any news on Gourd or Perce?’
‘No, we haven’t found them yet,’ said Brenum. ‘Only their Sith. We’re searching the Temple.’
‘What’s your location? Knarf, Fane and I will join you.’
‘We’re on he upper level, near the grand hall,’ said Trylia.
‘Got it. On our way.’
Shadie reached out in the Force to sense her friends’ location more precisely and realised that she couldn’t. Something in the Force was fluctuating and it was difficult to get a read on anyone. She looked at Fane.
‘I feel it too,’ he said. ‘Looks like we’re going to have to find them without the Force, if ever they are forced change location.’
‘Then let’s hurry,’ said Knarf.
* * *
Reaching the Temple quickly, the Mandalorians all ran in, shooting blaster fire everywhere, the repeater blasters and assault canons sounding like mini grenades going off every time. The Sith scattered into different rooms.
Mandalore’s wife’s comlink chimed. ‘Yes?’
‘This is the resistance forces. The Sith are regrouping and assaulting our bunker.’
‘How? We neutralised them.’
‘Negative. They mentioned something about your group entering the Temple. They’re taking advantage now that you’re not here to protect our forces.’
‘We’ll head back.’
‘Negative,’ insisted the resistance officer. ‘We’re retreating. There are more Sith heading towards the Temple. The Jedi need you there if the Republic is to keep its guardians alive. We’re heading for the Senate Tower. Keep those Sith busy.’
‘With pleasure,’ the Mandalorian woman said. The officer chimed out.
‘These Sith are rather organised,’ said one of the Mandos. ‘It’s as though they’re guessing our every move.’
Mrs. Mandalore motioned at the room ahead where many of the Sith had entered. Several of the Mandalorians followed the larger group of Sith.
‘I’ll take this room, you take that one,’ Kelbourn suggested to Talyc.
‘Ay, ay. Bet you a dozen rounds of drinks I can defeat more than you!’
Talyc lunged himself into the room to his left as Kelbourn entered the other laughing. Talyc barrel rolled forward, dodging something that was flying his way, which hit the wall behind him. He waved his vibroblade around and slashed at some of the Sith.
‘Come on, you Sithspawn!’
He ducked and then jumped, avoiding two lightsabers. One of the Sith hit his armour; Talyc turned around and slashed his vibroblade at the Sith’s neck.
‘Never leave an opening,’ he said. ‘Mandalorians like to take advantage.’
He fought another Sith, as something else came flying his way. He ducked and rolled again, coming up behind the Sith and stabbing him. Who were these Sith? Mere acolytes?
‘I’m no Jedi; you should be able to defeat me! Your mothers should feel such shame for your failures today!’
He laughed to himself. He looked around the room. There weren’t that many Sith, and several of them seemed to be retreating into… the airshaft. He ran to that corner of the room. He unclipped a sonic grenade, and rolled it into the shaft.
‘That ought to slow them down,’ he thought, as they hurried to wherever they were planning on running away to.
Talyc looked at the group of Sith who remained for him to fight. He could do this; he could defeat them. They weren’t masters. This was going to be easy. He lifted his vibroblade and shouted out:
* * *
Brenum and Trylia entered a large chamber where there was mostly transparisteel viewports all around. They could see the battle raging outside, between Sith and citizens, Sith and Jedi, they could see the battle going on in the sky.
‘We need to find the others and regroup,’ said Brenum. ‘We’re not finding Gourd, nor Perce. Shadie should have found us by now.’
‘I know,’ said Trylia. ‘There are so many fluctuations in the Force, I’m having difficulty finding them.’
Brenum tried to reach out with the Force, but all he sensed was something strange and he couldn’t pick up Shadie’s signature, or Knarf’s, or Fane’s.
‘Same here.’ He tried to raise her on the comchannel. ‘Shadie?’
‘Still on our way,’ came her reply. ‘The Sith have regrouped and closed in on us as we neared the level you said you were on.’
‘We’ve had to fight our way away from there,’ he said. ‘Get to safety. We’ve entered…’
‘Wait!’ Shadie said urgently. There was a pause. ‘The Sith know something. Knarf reports that the Mandalorians noticed them being a bit too organised. They seem to be scattering and regrouping and escaping, only to turn back around and ambush our forces. It’s as though they know where everyone is going, and where to find everyone. We’re heading for…’ There was static in the frequency. ‘…meet us…for…’
‘Shadie? The channel’s scrambling. Shadie?’ Static was the only reply that came through. Brenum looked at Trylia. ‘Perce must have jammed our frequencies somehow. He’s the only other slicer I know capable of such a thing.’ Trylia looked worried, her lips were compressed in a tight line, her eyes were strained. ‘Now we don’t know where Shadie wanted us to meet her.’
‘Let’s try that way,’ suggested Trylia.
Trylia began turning around. Brenum caught her hand; she turned back around to look at him. He looked at her and held her hand for what felt like an eternity, trying to will himself to say what he had always feared to say.
‘Trylia,’ he voiced at last. ‘You know how I feel about you. You always have. I’ve always felt it. I fear I might lose you and I’ll have never voiced what I never dared to say. I don’t know if… I’ve failed to let you know.’
‘You haven’t failed to let me know. You’ve always shown it.’
‘I love you, Trylia. I love you.’
There was a sound coming from the far side of the room, and an intense sensation of dark heaviness rippled through the Force.
‘Who’s there?’ Brenum called out, as both he and Trylia turned towards the source.
Out from the shadows walked Relsor, slowly, steadily, very much alive, and no hole in his body. He held his two lightsabers in his hands, arms down, ready to power them on at any moment’s notice.
‘No,’ Brenum shuddered. ‘That’s not possible.’
‘We saw you die!’ said Trylia.
Relsor laughed. ‘Saw me die, yes. But did I actually die? The answer is no.’
‘How?’ asked Brenum.
‘You remember my stunt on Mandalore? Same tactic.’
‘But you needed a team to free you,’ said Trylia.
‘Because I was surrounded by ysalamiri?’ said Relsor, slowly advancing in on them, taking very slow and calculated steps towards them.
‘But…but…it requires…’ Trylia stammered.
‘Oh, my dear Togruta, did you think I needed the aid of other Sith to accomplish such a feat? Did you think ysalamiri could stop me completely? No, I am more of a master than my uncle realises, and once he is dead, the legacy he leaves behind, the followers of Kromus and the True Sith, will be mine.’
‘You planned this,’ said Brenum. ‘You want him to be defeated.’
‘Oh, yes. I didn’t think it was going to pan out this way though. No, I thought Knarf was turning to the dark side; he hid his true intentions well. When I was deceived, I decided I would deceive in return.’
‘But how? Knarf killed you,’ said Brenum. ‘I saw it.’ Brenum pointed at Relsor. ‘He put a gaping hole inside your body!’
‘When I came at him, I knew he would strike. So I lunged up into the air where I could watch the scene unfold below me as I created it. All Knarf stabbed was air. It felt real, didn’t it? To the touch, in the Force?’
Relsor sneered at them. ‘A slight change of plans I was willing to make in order to achieve my own personal goals.’ He stopped walking and stood still, staring at them intently. ‘I was a stowaway aboard the Mandalorian ship, and when the armada prepared each transport, each fighter, before entering hyperspace and making the jump to Coruscant, I made a move.’
He chuckled. ‘Aren’t I such a barve.’ He chuckled some more. ‘Sorry, I’ve been hanging around too many Mandalorians.’ His grin was condescending, and he permeated pride through the Force. ‘There is a dead Mandalorian somewhere, missing the armour I discarded earlier. Every command the Mandalore issued, every word Knarf said to the Mandalorians regarding the Jedi’s movements, every quip any Mandalorian replied, I relayed to Darth Perce.’
‘That’s how Perce knew to slice and scramble the comchannels when we began to suspect the Sith’s coordinated methods,’ said Brenum in disbelief.
‘That’s how the Sith have had the upper hand during this fight, despite everything,’ said Trylia, almost speaking on top of Brenum.
‘Despite everything,’ repeated Relsor, nodding slowly. ‘Now, shall I kill you? I tire of this chat.’
He lunged forward, igniting his two lightsabers. Brenum ignited his and Trylia ignited hers. A glow of red, purple, blue and yellow lit the room as each blade hummed and hissed as they crashed against each other.
* * *
‘Brenum? Brenum?’ Shadie shook her head. ‘Nothing.’
Fane looked at Knarf. ‘Can you raise the Mandalorians?’
Knarf shook his head. ‘Everything is jammed!’
‘Can you not slice any of it?’ asked Fane.
‘I need a console,’ said Knarf. ‘Maybe I can figure something out.’
‘Great,’ said Fane. ‘The Force is scrambled, the comchannels are scrambled. I’m starting to really hate Perce, here.’
Shadie rubbed Fane’s arm soothingly. They veered a corner and Knarf installed himself at a nearby console and began working on it. Fane and Shadie took guarding positions on either side of him.
* * *
Lian crossed the Council Chamber in one bound, and with the Force closed the doors shut behind him. He had been lucky to lose the Sith that were at his tail. He used the Force to lift the rug in the centre of the room. Lo and behold, under it was a hatch. He used the Force to lift the hatch.
He descended into a dimly lit corridor that spiralled downwards. He followed along, trying to reach through the Force, but something was scrambling the Force as much as it was scrambling the com frequencies. He couldn’t raise anyone.
He ran for a good while before coming to a room. It looked ancient. There were datacrons everywhere, library data packets on shelves, and several crystals. And in the centre, were the Masters around a large holocron, using the Force, as a figure summoned by the holocron spoke to them. The figure was robed and cloaked, the voice was gentle.
‘May the Force be with you all,’ the figure said before flickering out.
Master Herl’unik turned to see Lian. He frowned.
‘Shadie told me how to access the chamber,’ he said to him. ‘We’re attempting to retake the Temple.’
‘When the Sith attacked, we entered and tried to find ways to overwhelm the Sith through the Force. But our Force powers have been subdued. We have failed as masters, hiding like cowards.’
Lian shook his head. ‘The Force is being disrupted and so are the com frequencies. Darth Gourd and Darth Perce are causing all this. Best our masters remain safe while they find a solution.’
‘Why did Shadie send you?’ asked another master. ‘Where are the other masters and Jedi.’
Lian stared at them blankly. ‘Did you not feel it in the Force? Darth Gourd has been executing the Jedi in an attempt to stop Shadie. Master Salah told us to save Coruscant. Those were her last words.’ He bowed his head.
‘Master Salah’s dead?’ exclaimed Master Herl’unik. ‘How did we not sense it?’ He shook his head in dismay. Then whispered. ‘Master Salah is dead.’
‘So is Ruther,’ Lian said in a low voice. He looked back up. ‘We need to help Shadie defeat Gourd and Perce. We need to retake Coruscant.’
‘The Holocrons shared with us some secrets in helping win the battle,’ said another master. ‘We’ve been feeling the ships above the planet, until our link to the Force was broken. We’ve been trying to find a way to reconnect through the Force, to the Force, and to everyone else, ever since.’
Lian nodded. ‘Then perhaps we can all attempt to help the Mandalorians, resistance fighters, and Jedi. We can overwhelm the Sith by taking over this battle.’
‘Come, join us, Lian,’ said Mater Herl’unik. ‘Join our attempt. Perhaps your contribution is just what we need.’
Lian crouched beside the Masters and attempted to reach out with the Force, attempted to connect with the others. Something fluctuated. Lian touched their minds with the Force. He felt the gaps in the Force, as though it were wires. While on Mandalore, he’d heard Knarf boast about his slicing abilities and how he would study the code. Lian took inspiration and studied the Force, what he sensed or failed to sense. He tried touching it, moving it, removing parts, replacing other parts of it, and began adding his own energy to the mix, trying to reconnect the disconnected parts, like gluing a broken weapon back together.
‘Did you feel that?’ asked Master Herl’unik. ‘Lian, you possess powers similar to those of Master Juun Kloh. You are healing the Force.’
Lian’s comlink chimed, but he only focused on the Force. Knarf’s voice came through faintly.
‘I’ve got it. I’ve sliced the com, both the Mandos’ and ours. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do for now.’
Lian picked up his comlink, still focusing on the Force. ‘I’ve found the Masters. Thank you for inspiring me, Knarf; I think we’re on our way to finding what’s happening to the Force.’
‘Thank you, Lian,’ came Shadie’s voice.
‘Shadie,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘Lian is healing the Force. We are lending him our power so he can find what is happening to it.’
Shadie’s voice faded away as Lian focused some more on the Force. He could feel it so well, it was as though he could see it. And he saw the source of the problem. It came through as a heavy and dark energy. It fluctuated and changed, it felt like it was trying to hide itself, to alter its perception, like creating an illusion within the Force itself. He tried to reach it and it moved again and changed again. He would have to focus even more. He would have to consume all his Force energy to reach and find the real one, the real source of the problem, not the ever-changing illusive source, in order to truly heal the Force.
“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.