The hatch to the Krayt Dragon’s umbilical opened, but instead of being greeted with a party of Imperial officers and a security detail, a tall man cloaked in a black cape and garbed in dark heavy armour stood before them. He waved a hand and their lightsabers went flying out of their grips and onto the floor.
‘I’ve not come for a fight,’ he said, his voice low in pitch. ‘It took many resources to find and intercept you, let’s not waste time with shenanigans.’ He signalled his guards, who took a stance next to the hatch. They looked like his personal guard.
‘What’s going on?’ asked Lian, sensing this man’s powerful presence in the dark side of the Force.
‘As far as everyone else is concerned, your ship matches that of a pirate gang’s and you are being inspected.’
‘And in reality?’ asked Brenum, who stood to Lian’s side.
‘I am here to speak,’ the man said pointedly.
‘Why all the secrecy?’ asked Lian suspiciously.
‘Because the Empire has an alliance with the True Sith, and were anyone from the Empire or the True Sith to find out that I was here to speak with Jedi, it would bode very ill for all of us. While Relsor is distracted on Mandalore, however, is the perfect opportunity to attempt such a meeting of secrecy.’
‘And who are you?’ asked Trylia.
The man smiled and bowed with dignity. ‘I am Lord Void, member of the Dark Council.’
Brenum whispered to Lian. ‘Void. I hope he doesn’t space us into some sort of void.’
‘It was my apprentice whom Shadie saved on Relsor’s ship,’ the dark lord continued. ‘I am also allied with Darth Usharr, former High Master and leader of the Sith Academy on Korriban. It is my understanding that Haar’elso’rothmor is being dishonourable with his deal in the alliance with the Sith Empire. I require your assistance in finding the evidence needed to prove it. Then I can convince the Dark Council and the Empire’s leaders to renege on that alliance.’
Lian didn’t know much about the Dark Council but he knew it was similar in a few ways to the Jedi Council. Each voice had input, and could sometimes even argue against the Grand Master.
‘As a member of the Dark Council, why can’t you just tell them?’ he asked.
Lord Void stepped forward, leaning on his front foot. ‘You were not there when Relsor approached us to ally ourselves with him. I was there to witness his powers firsthand, as chaos reigned within the Dark Council chamber, as we all saw something different, until he showed us how it had all been multiple illusions created by him that our power, from we who are the most powerful Sith in all the galaxy, could not combat. We had no choice but to agree, we had no choice but to join him.’
Brenum looked over Lian’s shoulder at Trylia. ‘We have experienced his illusions too.’
‘Then you know the fear they cause, the destruction they can create, the control he has over anyone who succumbs to such an illusion.’ Lord Void took another step towards them. ‘Help me find how to convince my peers otherwise. Help me provide the solution to countering Relsor’s illusions.’
‘I can counter his illusions,’ said Lian. ‘That’s why Mandalore is in desperate need of us right now.’
‘Then the sooner we begin, the sooner you may leave.’
The Dark Lord was not going to let them leave until they had indulged him with solutions and aid. They could use an extra ally, even if that ally was Sith. The timing was just way too tight.
‘I can sense your impatience,’ said Lord Void. ‘I assure you, I am not here to detain you or to stop you. But this is truly the only time we have and we must make the most of it. Besides, if Imperial Intelligence were searching your ship and examining permits for real, this could go on for a long time.’
Lian probed the man as best he could. He felt the Sith feel him and opened himself up even more to Lian. Lian sensed he was being genuine. The Sith did not like the idea of an alliance with Jedi, but Lian sensed he had come around to it as a necessity in order to preserve the Empire. Lian knew, if the Empire perished at the hands of Relsor, the Republic and the Jedi would only be next.
Lian looked at the others and nodded. ‘He speaks the truth.’
‘Very well,’ said Brenum. ‘Come this way. We’ll be more comfortable discussing things if we’re sitting.’
* * *
Relsor opened his eyes, refocusing his mind on his surroundings. Perce was sitting on a swivel chair, swivelling.
‘Do you have to?’ said Relsor.
‘Yes!’ said Perce pointedly, grinning. ‘And so?’
‘Talyc is still on the planet and I sense he has been confined somewhere.’ Relsor took his datapad. ‘He left the planet, but returned shortly after.’ He sighed. ‘The longer it takes for Fane to leave the planet, the more impatient I grow.’
‘Whatever it takes, just say the word,’ said Perce. ‘He’ll leave.’
‘Oh, he’ll regret it if he doesn’t,’ replied Relsor. He pondered.
‘What are you thinking?’ Perce asked suspiciously.
‘Raise her.’ Relsor nodded to himself, as though reaffirming his idea. ‘Call her. We need her and she still serves me.’ Perce obliged.
‘Took you long enough before contacting me again,’ came in Jassahmi’s voice through the comlink.
‘Your mission, Jassahmi, I have new instructions.’ Relsor paused. ‘Before the Trandoshan died, did you take…?’
‘His datapad? Yes, I did.’
‘Bring it to me.’
‘It would help if I knew where you were hiding.’
Relsor hesitated. He could arrange for a meeting spot, but he and Perce were secure for now; they were using the Force to conceal themselves from the Jedi and from the Sphere. Creating illusions had exposed his presence on Mandalore, and now he could sense Lian from Republic space attempting to avert his illusions, and spreading his “healing” in the Force.
There was a grinding noise at the door to where he and Perce were. Relsor turned around and saw Jassahmi slinking in.
‘You’re not as good at hiding as you thought,’ she said in a sultry voice. Relsor scowled. Perce switched his comlink off. ‘You never were.’
‘I choose when and how people sense me in the Force, just like I did when I fought Shadie when I infiltrated the Mandalorians.’ Relsor narrowed his eyes. ‘I was concealed. Which means you knew very well where we were. I grow impatient with your petty attempts to test me. It is not my loyalty that is at stake here.’
‘Datapad, now!’ said Perce. Jassahmi handed him the Trandoshan’s datapad. ‘Now yours.’ Jassahmi stared back. ‘Don’t make me probe your mind, Jassahmi. Tell us how you found us.’
‘All right, all right.’ The Mirialan winked at Perce. ‘When you told me to leave, I put a tracker on you.’
Relsor laughed; he almost felt amused. ‘Oh, I taught you well,’ he said. ‘Where is this tracker?’
Jassahmi leaned in towards Relsor, as though to put her arm around him, and instead took his lightsabers from his belt. She passed her hand over them and a small tiny glow of metal on metal revealed a micro-tracking chip in between two grooves on one of the lightsabers. Relsor clipped it off.
‘No more tracking,’ he said.
Perce began checking his lightsaber hilt as well. He shook his head.
‘Don’t worry, Perce,’ said Jassahmi with one of those faces that made Relsor want to punch her, ‘you’re not worth tracking.’
Perce stood abruptly, a menacing look upon his face.
‘Sit down, Perce,’ Relsor warned his compatriot, ‘we still need her, for now.’
Perce sat back down and began slicing the datapad. ‘I’m assuming Dargoza wasn’t as smart as Talyc was with his encryptions. And…there. The coordinates to the secret fortress-bunker.’
Relsor looked at the coordinates. Perce transferred them to Jassahmi’s datapad.
‘Now go!’ said Relsor. ‘Make sure Fane leaves or Talyc leaves, or whatever. And this time, don’t fail me, for it will be the last time you do.’
Jassahmi pressed her lips together in anger but gave no reply. She turned and left the compound.
‘You really think she’s going to succeed?’ asked Perce.
Relsor sat back down in a meditative pose and focused again on Talyc and on ensuring his mind was filled with the dark side.
* * *
Talyc paced to and fro in the room he was confined to. He was furious. Mandalore had taken away his privileges as clan leader and obliged him to remain in this room as though it were a cell. Talyc was under guard and could only go to specific areas of the fortress-bunker. This was so unfair. He felt like punching a hole through the wall.
There was a sound outside his door. He walked out. The Mandalorian who had been standing guard was on the floor and there was a hole in his chest with smoke rising from it.
Talyc used his comlink to call on Mandalore.
‘Mandalorian down,’ he said. ‘Lightsaber wound.’
He waited until Mandalore had arrived. His leader came with Shadie and Knarf in tow.
‘What are they doing here?’ said Talyc. ‘As far as we know, they could have done this!’
‘They’ve been with me the whole time,’ replied Mandalore.
‘Well, I don’t trust them,’ said Talyc. ‘You treat me like a prisoner because I tried to leave the planet, yet a Mandalorian lies dead from a weapon these two possess. Who else could it be?’
A comlink chimed. ‘Mandalore!’ the planet’s leader answered.
‘Sir, one of my clanmates has been gravely wounded,’ came in Emerick’s voice. ‘He’s out cold, but still breathing.’
‘I don’t know. It looks like a lightsaber wound.’
‘How? We have beskar’gam!‘ Mandalore looked around. ‘What kind of lightsaber can melt beskar’gam?‘
Shadie looked worried, as she should be, Talyc thought.
‘That Sith they brought with them,’ he said pointing at Shadie and Knarf. ‘Pinkish lightsaber, never before seen colour, sheer dark side right there. Who’s to say it’s not him.’
‘Because he’s been with me,’ said Fane as he arrived on the scene, Usharr behind him. ‘Wapita just reported finding another Mandalorian with a lightsaber wound. Arm’s gone, but she’s still alive.’
‘Or was it you?’ said Talyc, whirling on him. Fane’s eyes grew wide. ‘You once turned to the dark side, tried to kill Shadie, killed your former master.’ Talyc backed away. ‘None of you can be trusted.’ He turned to Mandalore. ‘Mandalore, please, let me be a leader to my clan once more. I’ll find this assassin and take them down myself.’
‘It’s too dangerous, Talyc,’ pleaded Fane.
‘I didn’t ask for your opinion, Fane.’
‘Talyc,’ said Mandalore, ‘I’ll allow you to scour the area and search for evidence that may indicate who our assailant might be.’
‘And if it’s one of them?’ said Talyc. ‘I want them gone.’
Mandalore nodded. ‘That is a fair request. In the meantime, I shall keep an escort of Mandalorians with the Jedi and their Sith friend at all times.’
‘Like that’s going to stop them.’ Talyc faced the Jedi. ‘I’m going to find the evidence I need to prove this is you, and when I do, all of you are banned from even coming to Mandalore again. Consider yourselves clanless. You are no longer members of Clan Kandera.’
‘Ouch, Talyc,’ said Knarf. ‘That hurts. I’m your clan brother. I’m Bes’laar.’
‘You,’ said Talyc, pointing a finger in Knarf’s face, ‘are nothing to me, not anymore.’ He looked at Fane. ‘Especially you!’
Talyc balled his hands into fists. These Jedi, claiming to want peace, bringing so much torment into his life. This was not the life he had bargained for. He wanted them out of his sight, out of his life, forever. He turned and stalked off with a few other Mandalorians in search of the evidence he needed to get rid of the Jedi for good.
* * *
‘In the event Relsor does succeed in killing you, Jedi Master Lian,’ said Lord Void, ‘how will you manage in healing the Force?’
‘He won’t die,’ said Brenum. ‘We’ll make sure he survives.’
‘I want to believe you, but I’m not sure I can stand by a small group of Jedi and convince the Dark Council that Relsor will be defeated.’
‘Fane can enter his mind,’ said Trylia, ‘he can take over his body, with Lian’s help. Fane is destined to kill Relsor.’ The Sith lord nodded slowly, as though processing the information.
‘The Chiss is a malady onto this galaxy,’ said Lian, ‘and he is destroying the Force from within it. Surely the Dark Council will understand the necessity to save the Force so that they can continue to use it to fuel their dark purposes.’
Lord Void grinned. Trylia thought they were finally making progress. She wanted to hurry as much as the others did.
‘You know how to appeal to a Sith’s weaknesses,’ said Lord Void, ‘but do you know how to appeal to his strengths?’ He paused. ‘We need empirical and irrevocable proof of what Relsor is doing and has caused to convince the Dark Council. They are Sith, but they are all in fear of this man who calls himself a True Sith. His powers are beyond any of ours. Do you understand what that means to the Dark Council?’
‘It means that he will destroy them, once we have been defeated,’ said Lian, ‘and he will not let them rule the Empire. Relsor will keep taking, keep killing, keep sickening the Force, and the Empire will crumble, it will fall.’
‘And if we renege our agreement with Relsor, he will do the same to us, but simply before he does it to you,’ said Lord Void. ‘You have to see it the way the Dark Council sees it. I’m trying to find something that will change what they perceive.’
Trylia thought for a moment as the men sat silent. ‘Doesn’t your apprentice have proof that Relsor is using the Empire’s Sith instead of his own, that he doesn’t care if they die?’
‘The Dark Council won’t care about that,’ said Lord Void, sighing and shaking his head.
‘What about Relsor’s ship,’ said Brenum. ‘Your apprentice is on it, and you say the Republic might fly by and there might be an encounter that might not be hostile. Basically, you’re saying Shadie arranged with you for Supreme Chancellor Emain to place a tracking device on Relsor’s ship. But what if more was done while Relsor was away?’
‘Yes,’ said Trylia, understanding where Brenum was going with this. ‘Can your apprentice search Relsor’s ship for evidence that he has somehow or intends to betray his alliance with the Empire?’
Lord Void brought his hand to his chin. ‘Search his records, you mean? His personal logs?’
‘Well, if it’s just that,’ said Lian, ‘you didn’t need us for that. So what else is it?’
Lord Void placed his hands on the table and clasped them. ‘Relsor is on Mandalore. You have a slicer on Mandalore. Usharr is on Mandalore. Usharr knows the Empire, he can confront Relsor in regards to the alliance and your slicer can record it so it can be broadcast to the entire galaxy.’
‘Usharr has a way of communicating with you,’ said Brenum, narrowing his eyes suspiciously. ‘You didn’t need us to place this plan in motion if you had this idea all along.’
‘Even though I can communicate with Usharr, only he can call me with his device,’ said Lord Void. ‘Communications can be sliced, they can be manipulated or jammed. I don’t trust them. If the Empire is to see this proof as legitimate, then there can be no evidence of me communicating with anyone in regards to this plan.’
Lian nodded. ‘So far, all your communications have been reports, what’s going on here and there, therefore you can’t be held accountable for devising such a plan, and it can’t be used against you if anything goes awry.’
Lord Void nodded once. ‘Not only would I lose my seat as a Dark Council member, but also the whole thing would be viewed as a sham and completely ignored. It is imperative the rest of the Dark Council sees Relsor as I do: as the biggest threat to the Empire to currently exist.’ He looked at Lian. ‘Speaking face to face was more secure.’
This made sense to Trylia. The Sith needed to protect himself and those within the Empire from Relsor as much as the Jedi needed to protect themselves. She did not fault him for it. Before sharing as much information as they had, they had needed to test each other and dance around subjects to ensure a certain level of trust. Trylia recognised that a Dark Council member such as Lord Void, speaking with a Jedi Council member, Lian, would know this. Hence, regardless of her or Brenum’s impatience, Void and Lian would enact prudence, both of them understanding its necessity before opening up to each other fully, and prudence took time. Besides, they had to make semblance of the ship being searched, and that also took time.
Trylia looked at the chrono and realised how much time had passed, but also how much trust had been gained.
‘It is commendable of you to be honest with us,’ she said.
‘We have a common enemy, and we want the same things right now: to secure his defeat and to protect our respective people. Jedi and Sith cannot be at war with each other if we are not around to fight for the side of the Force we believe should be predominant in the galaxy.’
‘And we cannot even use the Force if it is destroyed,’ said Lian.
‘Precisely.’ Lord Void put his hand on his lap. ‘One more thing.’ He put a small comlink on the table. ‘This comlink is linked to mine.’
‘Are you suggesting we work together moving forward?’ asked Lian.
‘I’m suggesting, when your Supreme Chancellor tracks Relsor’s ship, you share the information with me.’
‘And what will we get in return?’ asked Brenum.
‘Everything my apprentice finds on Relsor’s ship,’ said Lord Void. ‘Besides, if my plan succeeds, the Empire will be more than willing to co-operate with the Republic on temporary measures.’ He looked at Lian. ‘I’m sure you understand the benefit of having someone with whom you can negotiate on the Dark Council. I, for one, am glad I can speak with a Jedi Council member reasonably and without suspicion.’ He stood and turned to go. He looked back at them. ‘I, as much as you, understand the necessity for Relsor to be destroyed. I wanted to meet the Jedi healer myself and see if the rumours were true. I can feel you in the Force, Jedi Master Lian. As for your friend, I hope he succeeds. The Empire will not survive for long once Relsor has full reign on the entire galaxy. The Sith must prevail above the True Sith, for we are the original Sith.’
‘Selfish reasons, yet justifiable, and not more selfish than our own,’ admitted Lian.
Lord Void smiled and Trylia felt his respect for them. ‘Don’t lose that comlink. Lose it and you lose my allegiance, since I will not be able to help you without it. The Dark Council knows nothing of this; the Empire knows nothing of this. But we have friends in common who trust other friends we have in common. If that’s not a clear message, then I don’t know what is.’ Lord Void walked to the hatch. He turned his head only slightly to the side. ‘Until next time. If we all survive that long.’
And with that, he was out of the ship, walking back through the umbilical to his dreadnaught.
“Protectors of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2021).
Disclaimer: The Characters in this Fan-Fiction are new and have original names. The story is an original written work. The story is derivative and consistent of Fan-Fiction since it borrows the franchise world of Star Wars. Certain jargon and places, or concepts mentioned, along with the SW Old Republic universe belong to Lucasfilm Ltd. and Disney. No characters or story lines from the films are used. No story lines or characters from the games or books are used. A handful of characters from the games may be referenced, but are not the main focus in this fanfic story. This fan-fiction story falls under Fair Use.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.