Shadie, Knarf and Fane flew in one of the Mandalorian ships, accompanying Kelbourn, Talyc and the team they had assembled, which comprised of Clan Kandera and a few other clans. Everyone had met up for the final preparations on Mandalore’s flagship before dispersing to their various ships.
Fane sat on some seats, while Shadie and Knarf stood. Mandalore was in his flagship, though his wife was with them. Brenum and Trylia had taken the Krayt Dragon, accompanied by Josur, Lian who had recovered from his previous injuries, and the other Jedi who had stayed on Mandalore. They would meet them on the surface.
‘I’m telling you,’ said Talyc, ‘the Fat Momma sure looks imposing out there.’ He looked out the viewport. ‘I can’t wait for us to get the command to go to hyperspace.’
‘Same here,’ said Kelbourn, his helmet on his head. ‘I’m itching to arrive at Coruscant.’
‘That makes two of us!’
Fane looked around. Many Mandalorians stood around, also waiting for the command. A Zabrak muttered something in Mando’a and put her helmet on. She placed her hands on her hips. She looked at Kelbourn inquisitively. Kelbourn shrugged and leaned back in his seat, leaning his head on the wall.
Fane watched as everyone shifted impatiently. He feared having another episode, being within Darth Gourd’s mind again. He hoped it didn’t happen while he was fighting. Shadie had assured him that he would be well looked after, with her and Knarf having his back. He sensed something else too, though he couldn’t place what. His shoulders drooped as he leaned his arms on his knees.
‘Hey, Fane, my man,’ said Talyc, sitting down next to him and placing a friendly arm over his shoulders. ‘Don’t look so grim.’
‘I’m just worried,’ replied Fane. ‘I fear for our lives. What if… I worry I will lose…my friends. I’m afraid someone will die.’
Talyc looked up towards Shadie. ‘Shadie’s got Knarf to look after her, and he’s got her to look after him. And I promise you, Fane, that I will stay alive.’
Fane smiled. ‘That reassures me. But if you die…’ He looked up at Talyc. He shook his head. ‘You mustn’t.’
‘Yes, sir, order received,’ laughed Talyc. ‘I’m a Mando. I’m a warrior. I stay alive, me. Ain’t that right, Kelbourn?’
‘What’s that?’ Kelbourn turned a helmeted head towards Talyc.
‘Seriously, you ask the guy a question… You look tense, my cousin. What’s up?’
‘Nothing,’ replied Kelbourn.
‘Kelbourn! I know you. You are acting out of sorts. Come on, what’s bothering you.’
Kelbourn clasped his hands together. ‘I share the same fear Fane does,’ he said.
‘Listen,’ said Knarf from where he stood. ‘It’s normal. We’ve been through a lot together, and these Sith are kriffing barvy, but so are we. And look at me, Mando trained, Jedi trained, Sith trained, one-legged slicer with a prosthetic, and now a Force-somewhat-user. You’ve got this in the bag, Kelbourn. You’ve never been one to shy away from a fight.’
‘We’ll soon be in it,’ said Shadie. ‘And fighting Darth Gourd.’
‘Oh, I can’t wait to see him die!’ exclaimed Kelbourn.
Excitement and glee permeated in the Force, and Fane could sense it came not just from Kelbourn but from many of the Mandos. They sure were bent on avenging themselves for what Gourd had done to their planet. Fane could understand why.
* * *
‘I’m excited too,’ said Shadie, feeling the Force around her. ‘I sense Gourd will die. Or at least I hope he will.’
‘I’m not worried,’ said Knarf. ‘I believe in you. You defeated Kromus.’
‘Stay intact, my love, and alive. I want you in one piece.’
‘Yes, ma’am,’ laughed Knarf. Shadie smiled back at him. ‘I love you.’
‘I love you more,’ said Shadie.
‘No, you don’t.’
At that moment, Knarf poured all the love he had for her into the Force, and she understood the meaning of his words, that her love for him could not be greater than his love for her, for that’s how great it was. She felt from him that words could not describe how he felt and that he loved her more than she’d ever know. Shadie felt their energies, and she breathed in elated, suddenly taken, wanting to show him her love in more ways than would be appropriate in front of an entire squad of Mandalorians.
She kissed him and poured back towards him all the love she bore. She felt him breathe her in as he grabbed her arms and kissed her hungrily. He leaned his forehead on hers, pressing, his face serious, resisting the urges she felt from him, wanting to express her love in more ways.
Talyc whistled and Knarf blushed, and Shadie realised everyone was watching them.
‘Wooh, time for you two to get a room. You could wait till we jump to hyperspace, though. Private rooms are at the back, over there.’
‘No we’re okay, Talyc,’ she giggled, a little embarrassed.
Talyc laughed some more. He stood up and nudged Knarf with his elbow. ‘Got to keep our ladies satisfied, don’t we?’
‘Yeah, the difference with me is I don’t change ladies every other night.’
‘Bah, details, details,’ said Talyc dismissively. His com chimed.
‘Shadow Team, come in!’ came in Mandalore’s voice.
‘Ready, Mandalore. What’s your command?’ said Talyc.
‘Time to go to hyperspace. See you all on the other side.’
‘Yes, sir. See you on Coruscant!’ said Talyc.
‘Finally!’ said Kelbourn.
Talyc walked to the command console and sat down. Another Mando installed herself next to him; Mandalore’s wife took the seat behind him. They started punching in the coordinates.
Space outside the viewport streaked into starlines as the entire armada went into hyperspace.
* * *
When the team of Mandos and Jedi arrived, Gourd’s ships were surrounding Coruscant, his dreadnought looming above the planet. Sith starfighters began pouring out, the Chiss-designed fighters poured out, and many vessels began to target the Mandalorian vessels.
The Krayt Dragon ducked and bucked. They passed an enormous vessel.
‘That ship does look fat,’ said Brenum. ‘Is it made of beskar’gam?’
‘It must be,’ said Trylia. ‘It is Mandalorian. Does its name still make you laugh?’
Brenum giggled. ‘Yes, please don’t say it, I want to be able to focus on getting us to the surface in one piece.’
Starfighters came towards them and began shooting at them. The shields held and Trylia shot several Sith starfighters down as Brenum steered the ship. A transmission began playing on the display.
‘Did you turn that on?’ asked Brenum.
‘No. Oh, Sithspawn!’
The image showed the Jedi Temple. Brenum had to divide his attention between the holovid playing next to him and the viewport and tactical display. The Holonet screen showed Darth Perce pacing to and fro. Many Jedi were behind him, surrounded by Sith, held in place with the Force. Darth Gourd stood stoically.
‘Blast it!’ exclaimed Brenum. ‘He’s already down there.’
‘People of the Republic,’ Perce announced, ‘I have a message for Jedi Master Eidahs, formerly Darth Shadie. You see behind me, all these Jedi? You see by my side, all these Sith? I must apologise to you all for deceiving you. We serve Darth Gourd. But do not be fooled by the Jedi’s deception, nor that of this Shadie. For they have lied to you as well.
‘They come here now, only to save their fellow Jedi. They are not here to save you. Had they not known their Jedi were contained for their crimes, they would not have come here at all.
‘To prove that I am correct, to prove that I still hold true to my desire to serve Coruscant with the Sith Regimen and protect you from the Jedi, instead of merely containing them, I will have them killed.’
‘We need to do something and stop him!’ cried Lian.
‘That’s why we’re going to the surface,’ said Trylia. The holocom chimed.
‘Are you seeing this?’ Shadie’s voice came in over the ship’s transceiver.
‘Yes, Shadie, we’re all seeing it,’ said Trylia.
‘Darth Shadie, I mean, Jedi Shadie, it’s hard to keep up with your whims,’ continued Perce with a drawling voice. ‘I suggest you stop firing at my Lord’s ships right this instance.’
‘He can’t tell me what to do. Is he mad?’
Darth Gourd motioned at some Sith, and they carried several Jedi to the front and placed them in a straight line. Master Salah and Ruther were among them.
‘Shadie,’ said Darth Gourd, ‘for every starfighter and vessel of mine you have shot at and destroyed, I will be glad to kill one of your fellow Jedi. If you truly are of the light side, you will save them and turn back.’
‘Reports say,’ said Perce looking at his datapad, ‘four vessels have been completely destroyed.’ Trylia was shooting as he said this and a starfighter exploded outside the Krayt Dragon‘s viewport. ‘Make that five.’
‘Kriffing kark!’ said Brenum.
Darth Gourd ignited his lightsaber. The Jedi tried to fight back, but they were held in the air by many Sith, who together formed a great unbreakable Force grip. Gourd slashed at five of the Jedi and they fell dead on the Temple floor.
‘Shadie!’ cried Master Salah.
‘You see, Shadie?’ said Gourd. ‘They beg you to stop.’
‘No, Shadie,’ continued Master Salah. ‘You must make it to the surface. You must save Coruscant at all costs.’
Darth Gourd signalled the other Sith. Master Salah dropped to the floor and was caught in another grip; she began choking. She put her hands up to her throat.
‘You can still save her,’ said Perce. Master Salah tried shaking her head.
‘We’re almost there, guys,’ said Brenum. ‘We’re nearing the gravity field. I’ll have the Krayt Dragon down on planet soon.’
‘We’re nowhere as near as you are,’ said Shadie through the comchannel.
‘That’s all right,’ said Trylia. ‘We’ll do what we can until you can land.’
There was an explosion farther away, as a Mandalorian ship fired upon a Sith frigate.
‘My Lord,’ said Perce, ‘another vessel’s been downed.’
Without saying a word, Darth Gourd yanked Master Salah, bringing her closer to him. She lingered in the air for a bit, and then he drew his blade into her body. She screamed.
‘Master Salah,’ came Shadie’s pained voice.
‘Save…Coruscant…’ Gourd pulled out his blade. Master Salah dropped to the floor, dead.
Trylia closed her eyes.
‘Stop firing! Everyone hold,’ said Shadie. ‘I repeat, hold fire!’
Darth Gourd grabbed Ruther in a Force grip the same way he had Master Salah, and kept his lightsaber looming beside the blue Twi’lek’s face.
‘Ruther,’ whispered Lian. ‘You idiot. You kriffing idiot.’ He closed his eyes. ‘My brother, how am I going to get you out of this mess?’
Josur placed a hand on Lian’s shoulder and looked at Brneum with worry.
‘Lian?’ said Shadie. ‘This is up to you.’
‘Ruther chose to return to Coruscant knowing the risks,’ said Lian. ‘I stayed, knowing the risks.’
‘We can turn back, we can save him,’ said Shadie.
‘Will Gourd keep his word?’
‘I don’t know, Lian, but we can try. We can regroup, figure out a plan.’
Lian looked back up at the holoscreen. The cam showed a close up of the other dead Jedi, then of Master Salah’s dead form on the floor.
‘Save Coruscant,’ whispered Lian. ‘Master Salah told us to save Coruscant.’ Lian stared straight out the viewport, his reflection showing a glistening in his eyes as they began to glow with tears. ‘We have to save Coruscant.’
‘Are you sure?’ asked Shadie.
Lian began to weep. ‘Ruther, I love you, my brother, I’m so sorry.’ He cried and Trylia put a comforting hand on him. Brenum turned to look at him.
‘I can’t imagine how difficult this is for you,’ he said. ‘Shadie hasn’t given the command yet. It’s not too late.’
Lian shook his head. Brenum turned back towards the viewport as the Krayt Dragon began to buck from the atmospheric pressure.
‘No, we have to save Coruscant and the Republic.’ Lian took a deep breath and his blue face, streaked with tears, hardened into resolve. ‘Shadie, cause all the carnage you can. We’re entering the atmosphere.’
‘Lian,’ said Shadie, ‘I’m so sorry.’ There was a pause. ‘Resume course, everyone. Resume course. We exterminate the Sith if we can.’
‘My Lord,’ said Perce in the holoscreen, ‘the Mandalorian ships have begun firing again.’
‘Looks like Shadie doesn’t care much for her precious fellow Jedi. Goes to show how little she probably cares for the Republic.’
Darth Gourd whacked his lightsaber and sliced off Ruther’s head.
Trylia gave a shout of shock and horror. ‘He’s so barbaric,’ she whispered.
Lian sat down behind Brenum. The other Jedi did their best to comfort him. ‘Save Coruscant,’ he repeated. ‘Master Salah became my master, after Juun Kloh died. She gave the order to save Coruscant. I will do all I can to save it, or I will die trying.’
The Krayt Dragon flew lower and into the skies of Coruscant. Brenum searched for a place near the Temple where the ship could berth.
‘We’re saving the Jedi,’ he said. ‘We’re not letting any more die.’
* * *
Shadie watched in horror as the holoimage flickered out. Her body was shaking.
‘My love,’ said Knarf softly. ‘It’s okay.’
‘Jedi are dying and it’s my fault.’
‘It’s not your fault.’
‘Don’t tell me it’s not my fault!’ she snapped.
‘It’s Darth Gourd’s fault!’ Knarf barked back. ‘I can sense the rage swelling up inside of you. Don’t let them win. Don’t let the dark side win.’
‘If you ask me,’ said Kelbourn, ‘seems the dark side is the way it’s got to go for this battle to be a success.’ Several Mandos expressed agreement. ‘Allow your rage to strengthen you, give you the force of power to be stronger than your foes.’ Knarf scowled at Kelbourn.
‘All right, berserker expert,’ said Talyc, ‘not everyone goes into a Mandalorian frenzy when they fight. You angry about something? This seems out of character for you.’
‘Gourd!’ was all Kelbourn replied, and he walked away.
The ship bucked.
‘Get us closer,’ Fane told the Mando who had taken Talyc’s place at the helm. ‘We need to reach the surface and go to Brenum and Trylia’s aid to save the Jedi.’
‘What’s with Kelbourn?’ asked Knarf.
‘I don’t know,’ said Talyc. ‘He seems edgy.’ Knarf shook his head, shrugging.
‘I’m sorry,’ said Shadie. ‘It’s my fault; it’s my energy. I’m affecting everyone.’
‘My love, it’s okay. Stop blaming yourself. Lian knew the stakes and he told you to follow through with Master Salah’s dying wish to save Coruscant.’ He took her in his arms and caressed her hair.
‘I’m sorry, I…’ She sighed.
Knarf kissed her brow. He looked at Talyc who nodded. Talyc put a hand on Shadie’s shoulder as Knarf went to see Kelbourn.
‘Don’t let Gourd upset you, my friend,’ he said to him. ‘I can sense he has, somehow. Shadie blames herself for feeling rage.’
‘Sorry,’ said Kelbourn. ‘This is difficult for me to witness.’
‘After all the battles you’ve fought, it’s bound to have a toll on you sometimes,’ said Knarf. ‘You know, that dark side stuff you said back there, it’s too much like Gourd and Relsor. They’re Sith and demented in their heads. You, on the other hand, have got it screwed on the right way. Don’t let what happened discourage you.’ Kelbourn gave no reply. ‘Hey, you remember when you first took me in as a Mando?’
‘If that’s what we can call it,’ said Kelbourn.
‘Fine,’ laughed Knarf, ‘hired me, and then allowed me to work for you as I recovered from my injuries. You were stern, but you cared, and you’ve become a good friend. We don’t always see eye to eye, and we don’t always do the same missions, but you’ve been there for me, you and Talyc both. I feel like you’re my brothers and I feel like part of the clan. It’s okay to care about what happened with those Jedi. It’s okay to feel out of sorts. Just… Today will be a victorious day, for Mandalore, for the Jedi, for us, and for you.’
Kelbourn turned his helmeted head to Knarf. ‘Thanks, Knarf. I needed that pep-talk. Yes, it will be victorious. Victory!’
‘Victory to Mandalore!’ shouted Talyc approaching. ‘You good, cousin?’
Kelbourn nodded. ‘Thanks to Knarf.’
‘Well, there we go.’
Talyc and Kelbourn walked back to the group. Knarf watched them go, a feeling of unease overcoming him. Something was up, something was odd, but he just couldn’t place it.
* * *
The landing ramp descended and the Jedi poured out of the Krayt Dragon in single file, running up the Temple stairs and into the Temple proper. Sith came running their way to stop them. They fought their way to the chamber where Perce and Gourd were holding the Jedi.
‘Well, well,’ said Gourd, ‘more Jedi to add to our pool. We are, after all, running low on Jedi.’ He sneered.
Lian shouted a war cry in Huttese, his lekku twitching in anger. He ran forward and dashed, using the Force to speed up his movements. Darth Gourd jumped into the air and landed on a platform above him. He streaked the room with lighting. Lian realised the lightning was coming from two directions. He could see that Darth Perce was sending lighting his way too. Perce joined Gourd and together they went one way. Before any of the Jedi could follow, the other Sith had gotten in their way.
The Jedi fought the Sith, although several of them got away.
‘Darth Gourd probably gave them the order to retreat and regroup elsewhere,’ said Brenum.
‘Where have they gone?’ said Trylia. ‘They’re fleeing like cowards.’
They fought some more, but there were so few Sith left, the battle lasted but a few minutes. After the last Sith remaining was down, the Jedi looked around the room.
Lian found his brother and ran to his decapitated body. He used the Force to call his brother’s head to him and placed it gently on Ruther’s neck, holding it in place, as though cradling Ruther in his arms. Lian sat on the ground and hugged his brother’s body.
‘I’m so sorry,’ Lian sobbed.
Brenum and Trylia approached and crouched nearby. Trylia sniffed.
Lian took his brother’s lightsaber and clipped it to his belt. He looked at his brother. Despite Gourd having decapitated his head, the lekku had stayed in tact. The pale blue of his skin was even paler; his face remained in a pained expression. Lian tried to feel the last thoughts or emotions his brother had felt before his death through the Force. His hand went to Ruther’s pocket and reached for his datapad. He switched it on.
On the screen appeared a note. It read: “I’m sorry, Lian. I was mistaken about Shadie. I should have stayed on Mandalore with you. The Sith have taken the Temple and I don’t know if I will survive. I overheard Darth Gourd and Darth Perce’s plans. I’m writing this as quickly as I can. If I die, I’ll know that you and Shadie didn’t turn back and there is hope yet for Coruscant. If I die, know that I knew what was coming, I knew it meant you would be saved, I knew it was for the Republic and the Jedi Order. Be proud, my brother, for my sacrifice means Coruscant will be safe. I hope that when you read this it will be. If I am dead, then I have joined father. Remember all that he has taught us. Continue our family’s legacy. With love, Ruther.“
‘I hope you have found peace, brother,’ whispered Lian. ‘I promise to continue the family legacy.’ He sighed. ‘Be proud, my brother, your sacrifice means I can ensure Coruscant will be saved. I’ll do this for you, so that your sacrifice is not in vain.’
* * *
The transport entered the atmosphere and shook a little, then it steadied itself. Fane stood up and walked to Shadie. She could sense his unease.
‘I’m sorry for earlier,’ she told him. ‘A bit of the old Darth Shadie haunting me.’
‘It’s all right, Master. There is something in the air and we all feel unrest. We need to land and fight.’
‘And we will,’ said Talyc, approaching. ‘Stay alive out there. All of you.’
‘We will,’ said Knarf.
‘So what’s the plan?’ asked Talyc. Kelbourn approached.
‘Knarf, Fane and I will try to regroup with the other Jedi,’ said Shadie. ‘We’ll head straight for the Temple. You and the other Mandos concentrate on the Temple grounds and offer any assistance to the resistance groups out there. Once the Temple is secure, we’ll regroup. The other Mando groups have their orders to focus on Coruscant itself. Everyone out in space is to defend the planet. Once we find Gourd, Knarf will activate the reverse sequence to the dreadnought’s super lasers. That should throw him off enough to allow us to defeat him.’
‘What about Darth Perce?’ asked one of the other Mandos.
‘We need to defeat him too,’ said Shadie. ‘I can only assume that he’ll be with Gourd, since they seem to be working as a team right now.’
‘All right,’ said Talyc, ‘we have our orders.’ He put his helmet on his head. ‘And now, we execute.’
Knarf nodded and put his helmet on his head. Shadie checked her belt and so did Fane.
The transport landed and the ramp was lowered. Shadie took her comlink out as she looked around at the Temple grounds.
‘Brenum, Trylia, do you read me?’
‘We do, Shadie,’ said Brenum.
‘We’ve just landed on the Temple grounds. What’s the situation?’
She, Fane and Knarf began walking towards the Temple. Talyc and Kelbourn waved as they set off in the opposite direction with the other Mandos.
‘We found the Jedi and freed some of them,’ said Trylia. ‘Many died, Shadie. Darth Gourd is a monster. He’s worse than Kromus!’
‘Have you found him, then?’
‘Negative,’ said Brenum. ‘He got away, he and Darth Perce both. They left the fight early, while we were all too overwhelmed by all their Sith lackeys. We don’t know where they are.’
‘Okay, keep looking for him.’ Shadie paused. ‘Knarf, are you relaying all this?’
‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘Everyone with a helmet on can hear me transmit the information about Gourd.’
‘Good, he could be anywhere and they could encounter him as much as we could.’
‘Sith up ahead,’ warned Fane.
‘We’ve got Sith incoming. We’ll get to you as soon as we can,’ said Shadie.
Brenum chimed out. Shadie ignited her lightsaber as a staff, Knarf took out his vibroblade, and Fane powered on his aqua blade.
‘Knarf,’ said Fane, ‘remind me to help you find an orange focus crystal so you can have your own lightsaber.’
‘Will do.’ Knarf stopped walking.
‘What’s wrong?’ asked Shadie.
‘Nothing, but I didn’t bring this big thing for nothing.’
He took his repeater blaster off his back and began to streak laser fire at the oncoming Sith. This took them off guard enough to disperse them a bit and injured a few others. Knarf then put the repeater back onto his back.
‘There,’ he said, ‘this should help us out.’
The three of them took a stance as the Sith lunged and leapt towards them, ready to take down as many Sith as they could.
* * *
‘I think I saw them go in that direction,’ said Lian, pointing.
‘We need to find him,’ said Trylia.
‘We need to regroup,’ said Brenum. ‘We need to find the other masters. The Council Masters aren’t here.’
‘Could they have locked themselves up in the Council Chamber?’ asked Trylia.
‘I don’t know,’ said Brenum.
‘Okay, listen,’ said Lian. ‘We know Shadie’s on her way here. I’ll stay with the others. When she gets here, I’ll take a team and we’ll search for Master Herl’unik and the others. You go after Gourd and Perce.’
‘Sounds like a sensible plan,’ said Trylia.
‘All right,’ said Brenum. ‘Stay safe, Lian. I mean it.’
‘I know. I’m sorry.’
‘I’ve been an ass in the past. So has Ruther. We didn’t trust you. We were wrong. I was wrong. Shadie’s always had the Jedi’s best interest at heart. I don’t blame her for any of this. I’d love to kill Gourd myself, but I’m not fit for it, I’m not advanced enough, nor in the best state of mind. I’m better off searching for the other masters.’ Brenum nodded.
Trylia looked on worriedly. ‘Let’s go,’ she said. ‘The longer we wait, the more time we give Gourd and Perce to get away.’
Brenum and Trylia hurried out of the room and into the Temple’s halls. Lian turned to the other Jedi.
‘If Shadie has Sith in tow when she arrives, we help her decimate them. We leave no Sith alive.’
“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.