Chapter Nine

10 - Header Chapter Nine - Story 3

Knarf stood by the Holonet console, a monitor showed him the frequencies and fluctuations of the signal, another screen showed him the code. The Clan Kandera T4 droid unit watched nearby as he tried to slice into the frequency. Everyone had somehow known Darth Perce was behind the jamming, and Knarf had been able to confirm those deductions.
            While he’d been Relsor’s faux apprentice, Knarf had been able to learn how Perce was an expert slicer and behind most of Darth Gourd’s plan executions. The only question that remained unanswered was which of the two between Knarf and Perce was the better slicer? Which of the two would prove to have the upper hand and be victorious? Knarf had been tasked to slice through the Sith’s reprogramming and jamming of the Holonet. It had been hours and he had taken no breaks, and had gotten nowhere. 

            ‘Can you pass me my datapad, T4?’ The droid twiddled and rolled up to him, bringing him the requested datapad. ‘Thanks.’ He wiped his forehead. He sighed. Anger swelled inside him. ‘Argh!’
            He pounded his fist on the console, his datapad went flying backwards behind him and T4 was pushed back, knocking against the sidewall of the room with a shrill. Knarf heard footsteps and turned to see his Jedi friend. Brenum caught the datapad with one swift motion, using the Force to bring it to his hands.
            ‘Whoa! Good thing I was here to catch this thing. Those Sith really did teach you to externalise your anger, didn’t they?’ His tone was one of jest.
Knarf leaned against the console and let himself slide down and sat on the ground. ‘Whatever Darth Perce did to this thing, he looped it, and created looping decoys. I can’t figure it out. I just don’t know what to do anymore.’
            Brenum walked to him and sat down next to him, leaning on the console as well. ‘Have you eaten anything today, Knarf?’
            ‘No, there’s no time.’
            ‘Well, maybe a break will do you some good.’ T4 twiddled a response.
            ‘Hey,’ said Knarf, ‘remember who put you back together and repaired your systems.’ T4 beeped a quip in reply. ‘I guess you’re right, T4.’
            ‘And what about me? Am I right?’ asked Brneum.
            Knarf sighed. ‘You’re not with Trylia?’ he asked.
            ‘She’s with Shadie.’
            Knarf put his head in his hands. ‘What if Shadie would have seen me like this, what would she have thought?’
            ‘You know,’ said Brenum, putting a hand on Knarf’s shoulder, ‘every Jedi faces their inner darkness at some point. Not all of us get to choose how or when. Not all of us get to decide how it shows up or have the chance to be consciously aware and in control of that darkness. You chose to face yours at a necessary moment, in such a calculated manner. You were in control, and it never took over you. That’s a huge accomplishment; many Jedi will envy you for succeeding the feat.’
            Knarf lifted his head from his hands. ‘I had to watch out for what I said, how I felt. I made sure that Darth Gourd and Relsor would detect only my darkest emotions. I was careful of every single word I said, so that they would detect no lie. I used my anger towards how what I was doing might hurt Shadie to hide how I was doing this for our love.’ The memory pained him.
           ‘I had to hide my love for her from them,’ Knarf shook his head in dismay, ‘and replace it with something greater, something darker. I made sure to put at the forefront of my thoughts and emotions all the darkness I could muster without losing my mind. Being on my guard like that, it was draining.’ Knarf sighed. ‘I didn’t want to be a Jedi. I just wanted to be able to protect and provide for my Lady. That meant learning some powers. But now I’m not able to control them.’
            ‘It’s normal, Knarf,’ said Brenum. ‘You’ll learn to control them in time. You need a break from using them and to retreat for a bit. Which is why the guys and I have decided to take you out for a drink at the tavern.’
            ‘But I need to slice the Holonet,’ Knarf protested.
            ‘You need a break, get your mind off things. Fane’s already joined Talyc. Kelbourn’s joining us too. Come, it’ll be fun.’
            Knarf thought for a moment and realised he couldn’t. He couldn’t focus his mind on anything, he couldn’t think straight.
            ‘Fine,’ he said, ‘but just one drink.’
            ‘It’s a deal.’
            Brenum stood up and extended his hand to Knarf. Knarf took it and stood. Brenum gave Knarf’s datapad back to the droid, who chirped in reply.

* * *

            The tavern was busy; it was full of patrons. It was dimly lit and in the centre there was a large sparring area. Many Mandalorians were fighting, brawling, jumping over each other, in a drunken wrestling match.
            The group of Mandos and Jedi sat down at a table. Talyc signalled the red Twi’lek waitress. She approached and they ordered some drinks. Before she left, she winked at Fane.
            ‘Someone’s got their eye on you,’ said Kelbourn.
            Talyc looked from Fane to the waitress, and to Fane again. He inclined his head, smirking. Kelbourn kept his gaze on Fane, keeping his chin low, as though expecting him to do something.
            ‘Uhm, not sure Twi’lek dancers are my type,’ Fane finally said.
            Talyc and Kelbourn laughed out loud.
            ‘She’s no dancer!’ exclaimed Talyc. ‘Lashika might be dressed like one, but don’t be fooled.’
            ‘She could take you down in one go,’ said Kelbourn, ‘even if you have the Force and she doesn’t.’
            ‘Fane,’ said Brenum, ‘are you shy to be with a woman?’
            Fane blushed. ‘Me, no, never. I just… Jedi duties…’
            ‘Sure, we’ll go with that.’ Knarf chuckled.
            ‘Well, Brenum,’ said Fane, ‘I’m sure you’re not too shy to be with a particular Togruta woman, are you?’
            ‘Ohhh!’ came the shouts from the other men. Brenum scowled at Fane.
            Knarf’s mind kept darting back to the stupid Holonet slicing problem he had encountered. He tried to clear his mind.
            Lashika arrived with their drinks. She smiled, her pale red lekku swaying gently.
            ‘My friend, here,’ said Brenum, motioning Fane, ‘would like to spar with you.’
            ‘What are the stakes?’ she asked.
            ‘He wins: you go on a date with him. You win: he goes on a date with you.’
            ‘Brenum!’ exclaimed Fane.
            ‘Fair enough,’ replied Lashika, setting her tray down on the table.
            She walked to the centre of the sparring area and shouted something in Mando’a. Everyone else moved aside. She took a fighting stance, her arms up, hands formed into fists.
            Fane unclipped his lightsaber from his belt, set it down on the table, and went to the fighting ring and began to spar with the Twi’lek.
            It didn’t take long, even if he was using the Force, before Lashika had Fane pinned down on his back.
            Knarf couldn’t help but laugh. ‘She owned you, Fane!’ he said. ‘And you’re a Jedi!’
            Fane sheepishly sat back down at their table. ‘There goes my pride,’ he said.
            The tavern suddenly went silent when a Trandoshan and his clan walked in.
            ‘Great!’ Talyc said sarcastically.
            ‘Who’s he?’ asked Knarf.
            ‘That’s the leader of Kandera’s rival clan, Dargoza,‘ said Talyc. ‘He thinks he owns the place.’
            ‘And every time he comes here,’ said Kelbourn, ‘he chooses one person to spar with him, so that he can prove he’s better than anyone else.’
            ‘So, why do they spar him, why can’t they just refuse?’ asked Brenum.
            ‘You don’t understand,’ said Talyc, ‘you don’t refuse. If you turn him down, it’s a disgrace, a coward’s move, and you can suffer the consequences from your own clan for bearing the grunt of such a refusal.’
            ‘So why did we come here, then?’ asked Fane. ‘Seems…’ He paused. Then quickly: ‘He’s looking our way.’
            The Trandoshan looked right at their table and pointed a baton at Knarf.
            ‘Looks like he’s chosen you, Knarf,’ said Kelbourn. ‘Good luck.’
            ‘You fight to disarm,’ said Talyc.
            Dargoza walked up to Knarf and made his intention clear, speaking in his lizard-like language.
            Knarf stood, taking his vibroblade and followed the Trandoshan to the centre of the sparring ring. Everyone fell even more silent as they watched, intent on seeing who would win. Dargoza waved his baton about menacingly and began circling the area. Knarf followed suit. 
            ‘Scorekeeper will favour me for defeating you!’ he said.
            The Trandoshan came at Knarf and he blocked. Dargoza was strong and fierce and his blows pushed Knarf back with every hit. Knarf staggered and almost fell back.
            There was a cheer coming from Dargoza’s clan mates. He lifted his baton up high above his head, crying out some war cries, exclaiming his future victory. He twirled it about again in a fancy manner, showing off.
            Knarf didn’t have time for this. He reached his hand out and focused with the Force, frustrated, letting his emotions flow through his fingertips. The Trandoshan’s baton went flying out of his firm grip and fell right into Knarf’s hand. 
            Dargoza looked stunned and the silence was broken by a round of laughter, followed by a round of cheers coming from many patrons in the tavern.
            ‘Finally!’ shouted Talyc, ‘someone proves to be better than him.’
            Dargoza walked to Knarf and grabbed his baton from his hands and walked out of the tavern, followed by his clan, with what Knarf could guess was humiliation and shame, and perhaps a lot of anger. And then it hit him, as Kelbourn and Talyc lifted Knarf up on their shoulders, shouting out:
            ‘The Tavern’s Champion!’
            ‘That’s it!’ Knarf cried out. They set him down again.
            ‘What’s it?’ asked Talyc.
            ‘The Holonet. I’ve been trying to figure it out, trying to change things, trying to add things, but I’ve been going about it the wrong way. I need to disarm it; I need to remove a piece or pieces of the code. That’s how I’ll slice into it, that’s how I’ll figure out Darth Perce’s secret.’
            ‘I told you a good break would do you some good!’ said Brenum.
            ‘I have to go!’ Knarf hurried out of the tavern. He could hear the others following him.
            ‘Wait for us, we need to be there to see this!’ shouted Kelbourn.
            When Knarf arrived at the console, T4 was ready with his datapad. ‘I don’t think I’ll be needing that, T4,’ he told the droid.
            He switched the console on, then looked at the monitor displaying the code. He studied it and started playing around with it. The others watched intently. After an hour or so, the others were so bored; they had gone back to teasing Fane about his sparring match with Lashika and what their future date might look like.
            Something rumbled inside the console and then beeped. Knarf hit a few switches. This was the moment of truth, to test if he had figured this out correctly. He powered the long-range communications and tried to send a call outbound. He chose the first contact of the Mandalorians’ that was in the contact log.
            An image of a tall lean old man flickered onto the monitor display. He scowled at Knarf.
            ‘Who are you? And what do you want? This frequency is supposed to be private.’ Under his beard and moustache, his frown looked quite intense.
            ‘I’m Agent Knarf, I’m on Mandalore.’
            Talyc and Kelbourn stood and walked to the monitor display.
            ‘Oh, Kelbourn,’ said the man, ‘who is this barve calling on this secret Mando line? He work for you?’
            ‘Of sorts,’ replied Kelbourn. ‘You still got the Fat Momma?’
            ‘Fat Momma?’ laughed Brenum.
            ‘You know I do.’ The man looked at Brenum. ‘That ship is the best ship you’ll have ever encountered. She’s the fattest ship in the galaxy.’
            ‘With the fattest weapons no enemy has ever seen because she always destroys them,’ said Talyc. ‘We know the slogan.’
            ‘We need you and her here at Mandalore,’ said Kelbourn. ‘I’ll explain when you get here.’
            Talyc took his personal com out. ‘Mandalore, we’ve got communications out-system back on line. Knarf sliced the Holonet. Repeat: Knarf sliced the Holonet.’
            ‘I hear he did more than slice the Holonet,’ came Mandalore’s reply. ‘Dargoza came to make a complaint to me in person. Idiot. I told him the Scorekeeper doesn’t take kindly to cheaters and that Knarf disarmed him fair and square. Looks like Knarf’s our hero of the day on more than one account. Well done!’
            Mandalore chimed out. Shadie and Trylia came running in. 
            ‘We heard what happened,’ said Trylia.
            ‘Well, I contributed in part,’ said Brenum, ‘going out was my idea.’
            Shadie wrapped her arms around Knarf. ‘I’m so proud of you. You put that bully back in his place!’
            Knarf cocked an eyebrow. ‘Oh, yeah, well…’ He pointed at the console. ‘There’s more we should celebrate. I just sliced the Holonet.’
            ‘What?! Oh Knarf! You’re amazing!’ Shadie jumped up and down, and clapped her hands enthusiastically..
            ‘Yeah, Brenum helped with that too; it was his idea to take me out to get my mind off things. Defeating Dargoza actually made me figure out what needed to be done.’
            ‘Bah, I was being a bit selfish, really,’ said Brenum, ‘I wanted us to hang out.’
            ‘You helped,’ said Trylia, taking Brenum’s hand. He looked down at it, blushing. ‘It was a team effort.’
            Talyc came up behind Shadie and Kelbourn, grinning widely. ‘Cousins! Let’s celebrate Bes’laar’s success. First round’s on me.’   
            ‘First, let’s go meet with Mandalore and figure out our next move,’ said Knarf, ‘now that the Holonet is back up and running, and we can reach all the systems in the galaxy. I have a few choice words I’d like to say to Darth Perce.’
            Shadie took Knarf’s hand and lead him out of the room, everyone else following behind them.

* * *

            ‘If we send a message to Coruscant now,’ said Mandalore, ‘we risk giving our enemy the chance to regroup and gain the upper hand. Best we wait until we reach Coruscant to make our announcement. I’ve selected some vids and images to show in our transmission.’
            ‘We can make our transmission seen to the whole galaxy, though,’ said his wife. ‘If we arrive with a huge armada, we just look like we’re there to overwhelm the planet. Best we give our enemy the heads up that we are inbound for Coruscant.’ Mandalore gave her a stern look. ‘We play fair,’ she said as though putting her foot down. ‘This way the entire galaxy knows what’s what.’
            ‘That’ll give Darth Gourd time to gather his allies,’ said Kelbourn. ‘I’m with Mandalore on this one.’
            ‘Then we shall gather ours first,’ said Talyc. ‘I agree with your Missus, Mandalore. The galaxy needs to know what’s happening, needs to know what’s what.’
            There was a long silence. Fane weighed their options in his mind.
            ‘What do our Jedi friends advise? What does the Force tell you?’ asked Mandalore.
            ‘There are pros and cons for both options,’ said Shadie.
            ‘If we contact the whole galaxy,’ said Fane, ‘we could potentially gain extra…’ 
            He stopped suddenly, feeling a cold sensation run through his body. His vision blurred and he began to feel himself shake. He closed his eyes, trying to sense what was going on, what was happening to him.
            He opened them again, but he wasn’t in the briefing room. He was walking along a dark corridor, on a ship. He was holding a holotransceiver, the small holoimage of Darth Perce nodding emphatically.
            ‘I like the way you think, my Lord.’
            ‘I sure hope so,’ came the voice of Darth Gourd, as Fane saw the blue hand, which felt like his, holding the holotransceiver. ‘Round up the Jedi in the Temple. Have them ready for my arrival.’
            ‘Right away, my Lord. It will be my utmost privilege to see you kill every single one of them.’
            Fane began to feel himself shake more and suddenly he was back in the briefing room, on the floor, many concerned faces looking down at him. Shadie loomed over him, a hand on his forehead.
            ‘Fane? Fane? Fane! He’s coming to. Fane, are you all right?’
            Fane looked about. Shade smiled sympathetically.
            ‘What happened? You gave us a scare there,’ said Brenum.
            ‘Fane, my man,’ said Talyc, ‘glad you’re ok. Well, are you?’
            Fane shook his head. ‘It happened again, I was there, I was him. Gourd was talking to Darth Perce. I think we’re going to have to contact the galaxy right away. Darth Gourd is on his way to Coruscant and plans on executing the Jedi. All of them.’
            ‘What!’ came Trylia’s shrill voice. ‘No! We must do something.’
            Many Mandalorians started issuing orders into their holocoms, calling in for ships, readying fighters, calling in their allies.
            ‘Mandalore,’ said Kelbourn, ‘the Fat Momma is here.’
            Brenum laughed. ‘Fat Momma, that name kills me every time.’
            ‘Tell him to stay up there,’ said Mandalore, ‘I’ll brief him in a few.’
            ‘Yes, sir.’
            Shadie tried to raise Master Salah on her secret Master’s holochannel. After a few attempts, Master Salah took the call.
            ‘Shadie?’ came in Master Salah’s voice and image.
            ‘Master Salah, the Jedi are about to be executed. Darth Gourd is inbound to Coruscant.’
            ‘Understood, Shadie. I’ll round up the resistance; we’ll do what we can until reinforcements arrive.’ She chimed out.
            Mandalore turned to the Holonet console. ‘Shall we?’
            ‘Allow me,’ said Knarf, hitting a few keys.
            Shadie came to stand beside him, so did Fane, Brenum and Trylia. Talyc and Kelbourn, along with some other Mandalorians, took a stance behind them. When the signal was going through clearly and the console confirmed all the public Holonet vidscreens were showing them, they spoke.
            ‘People of the galaxy, people of the Republic, I am Mandalore. I stand before you, addressing you to give you a warning. What you have been told by the Sith is false and they purposely isolated Coruscant to make a coup here on Mandalore. Right now, Darth Gourd is on his way to Coruscant. Here is what his weapons can do.’
            Mandalore played the vids and displayed the images he had selected, showing the devastation that was done to Mandalore.
            ‘This was his prototype, and he will do the same to Coruscant.’
            ‘The Jedi,’ said Shadie, ‘are imprisoned in their own Temple. Darth Perce wants to take over Coruscant and destroy the Jedi. Darth Gourd is going to personally kill them all. We are protectors of the galaxy, we are here to keep you from the harm the Sith want to inflict upon you. I, along with my team, am bringing a flotilla to Coruscant. Anyone who wishes to join the fight may. I will personally fight Darth Gourd. We are coming to save Coruscant. We are coming to free Coruscant from the enslavement that the Sith disguised from you as freedom. The Sith Regimen and the True Sith are alligned with the Followers of Kromus, here to continue his legacy.’
            Shadie narrowed her eyes. ‘Darth Gourd, I will not let you kill my fellow Jedi. I will not let you continue what Kromus began. I defeated Kromus, and I will defeat you too.’
            ‘Darth Perce,’ said Knarf. ‘Looks like your code wasn’t Knarf proof. If you try to jam the Holonet again, I will slice it again.’
            ‘People of Coruscant,’ said Mandalore, ‘the Republic owes a dept to Mandalore, but I cannot let innocent people die knowing what it means for the galaxy. I therefore extend a hand of temporary friendship. I come to your aid now and together we will defeat this threat.’
            ‘And remember,’ added Brenum, ‘the Sith are not your friends, the Sith are not your allies. The Sith want power and they want to rule over you. Don’t let them. For the Republic!’

* * *

            Perce sat in the Supreme Chancellor’s chair and swivelled it around. He looked out the viewport and watched as riots erupted. His anger swelled within him. Shadie was going to pay; he knew Darth Gourd was going to ensure that. If the Chiss lord should fail though, Perce would personally give the killing blow. But it wouldn’t be to her. He would kill her lover, Knarf. No one was ever able to slice into anything he had ever sliced, ever! 
            His transceiver chimed. ‘Yes, my Lord,’ he said, answering the call.
            ‘We have a problem,’ said Darth Gourd.
            ‘I know. How did this happen, my Lord? How did Shadie and the Mandalorians find out you were coming to Coruscant?’
            ‘I don’t know, Perce. How did they find out?’
            ‘What? You think I had something to do with it?’ He shook his head, incredulous. ‘How could you even doubt me like that, Gourd. I have always been ever loyal to you and I would never betray the cause I follow. Coruscant is supposed to be mine, why would I sabotage my domain?’
            Darth Gourd seemed to study him. ‘I sense no deception from you, Perce.’ Gourd said at last. ‘It is a complete and utter mystery. Perhaps they tapped our communications, which means they would be hearing this now as well and laughing at us. I suggest you prepare for the worst. But those Jedi are still dying at my hands.’
            ‘I’m glad to know our plans are still underway. I will not let the Jedi, nor the Mandalorians, take Coruscant from me. Making an example of the Jedi will send them a message. For each ship they shoot at, for each fighter they shoot down, for each Sith they kill, a Jedi will die.’
            Darth Gourd’s lips curled into a sinister smile. ‘Yes, Perce, yes! I like the way you think.’ Darth Gourd chimed out. 
            Perce took his cape and fastened it over his shoulders. He left the room and walked out into the streets of Coruscant. A rioter ran towards him; he used the Force to push him away. Someone else came running towards him; he flicked them away easily, sending lighting about. He batted away blaster fire. He killed several others. And through it all, he remained unscathed. The rioters stopped trying to attack him.
            Perce sensed something in the Force. He paused, then walked briskly in direction of the Jedi Temple. 
            When he veered the corner, he found a group of Jedi sneaking along the walkway, trying to enter the Temple grounds. Perce ignited his lightsaber.
            There was a Master among them; he knew this was not going to be easy, but his goal was to capture them, not kill them. No, he wanted Shadie to see her fellow Jedi die. He wanted to see her face when her actions caused the deaths of
all the Jedi. He wanted the Jedi Order and the Republic to hate her and want her dead, and again he would deliver, and Coruscant would be his for the taking.
            ‘Master Salah, look out!’ a blue Twi’lek cried out.
            Perce sent lighting towards the group of Jedi and began his fight.

“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.

You might also enjoy other SWTOR fanfics, Dragon Age Fan-Fiction short stories,  Mass Effect Fan-Fiction, or Stardust Destinies the High Fantasy Fiction series.

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