The Jedi, Mandalorians, and Usharr hurried into the briefing room where Mandalore stood waiting. Several clan leaders and other members of clans sat in the large room, the pirates among them. Zaereg waved a hand as he looked up at them.
Talyc marched right up to Mandalore, his breath sounding heavy. Shadie had a stern look and Usharr was whispering with Fane. Knarf looked around, he saw Wapita farther away in the room.
‘Mandalore,’ said Talyc, ‘Dargoza is dead.’
‘So I have been told.’ Mandalore looked at Talyc carefully, taking a step towards him. ‘Wapita told me to ask you what happened. I hear there was a duel. Did you kill Dargoza, Talyc?’
‘No. Jassahmi killed Dargoza.’ Mandalore’s eyes narrowed. Talyc continued. ‘Relsor is on Mandalore. And he’s not alone.’
Mandalore seemed to take this in, then nodded slowly. Knarf eased his way next to his friend.
‘Talyc has been very brave, Mandalore,’ he said. ‘That fight could have gone many ways of wrong.’
‘Thank you,’ said Mandalore. ‘I need a moment.’
‘You okay?’ Knarf asked Talyc, sensing unease.
‘Not now, Knarf!’ snapped Talyc.
‘Easy there, my friend. It’s okay, we’re safe now.’
‘No, we’re not,’ said Talyc. ‘No one is safe. And it’s all down to you lot.’ He motioned the other Jedi. ‘Had your master not come to us, had Kelbourn not agreed, had Mandalore not agreed, had we not taken you on and hired you and become your friends, Mandalore would be safe right now.’
Knarf took a step towards Talyc. ‘Look, this isn’t the time to play the blaming game, Talyc,’ he said. ‘No one in this galaxy is safe, regardless of where any of us would be. Don’t go blaming me, or my Lady, or Fane, for any of this.’
‘You know what, whatever. I’ve had more than I can handle right now.’ Talyc walked away.
Knarf shook his head in disbelief. ‘What is wrong with Talyc, all of a sudden?’
‘It’s the dark side,’ said Usharr. Knarf turned to face the old man. ‘Your friend is being influenced by the dark side. I could sense it on our way, seeping into him more and more. And now it finally manifests itself.’ Usharr shook his head. ‘He does not possess the Force to counter it or utilise it in the manner you or I could, Sith or Jedi.’
‘But he was all loved up with Fane just minutes ago!’ Knarf gestured the way they had come.
‘The adrenaline that still courses through his body and the fear can be manipulated and transformed into anger and despair,’ said Usharr.
‘So you reckon Relsor is attacking Talyc’s emotions because he can’t affect us?’
‘Perhaps.’ Usharr shrugged. Knarf looked at Fane, who was standing next to Talyc, trying to reassure him. They were holding hands, though Talyc looked miles away and Fane looked like Knarf felt times ten.
‘This is not good.’ Knarf looked at Shadie. She took his hand and squeezed gently. He turned his attention back to Mandalore.
‘We must prevent Relsor’s powers from overwhelming us,’ said Mandalore. ‘If he is planetside, then we have bigger problems than superlasers. Now that the blockade matter is taken care of, any ideas on how to weed out our enemy?’
‘He has clearly attacked our planet,’ said Emerick. ‘Do we not have allies who can aid us? Call the Fat Momma back down here or something, call on favours in other systems.’
‘Chancellor Emain is due to return my call shortly,’ said Mandalore. ‘He will aid us, I know it. Jedi Fane, you have a connection with our enemy, can you sense his location?’
Fane shook his head. ‘He’s hiding in the Force.’
‘That is not good,’ Knarf said again.
‘Then there’s only one other thing we can do,’ said Shadie. ‘Call Tython.’
Mandalore nodded. He punched in a few keys and waited. Nothing happened. ‘Blast it!’
‘Perce!’ Knarf said emphatically. He took a calming breath. ‘Allow me.’ He got straight to slicing. When he was done, he punched in the keys again. ‘It should work now.’
‘Wrong again!’ the holoimage of Perce appeared on the viewscreen. ‘All communications on Mandalore have been looped and sliced in all sorts of wonderful ways. I doubt you’ll be able to slice it this time, Knarf.’
Relsor came into view. ‘Mandalore will burn.’ The Chiss smiled. ‘No one can stop me now.’ The screen went dark and silence befell the entire room.
* * *
‘That was brilliant!’ laughed Perce. He looked up at Relsor. The Chiss was frowning. ‘What, you don’t think so?’
‘No, Jassahmi failed again and she’s hiding somewhere.’ Relsor sighed. ‘Now I’m going to need to find her.’
Perce shook his head. ‘I’m getting awfully annoyed with her.’
‘That makes two of us,’ said Relsor. He put his datapad away.
‘You really think your manipulations will drive the Jedi away from Mandalore?’
Relsor shook his head. ‘Jedi Fane. Talyc will leave; Fane will go after him. Then communications can return, Jedi Lian will come to Shadie’s aid.’
‘Thus luring him away from safe Tython all the way here where we can fight him, all the while keeping Jedi Fane away, so he can’t enter your mind!’
‘Exactly. As long as Fane and Lian are apart, then things should go as planned.’
* * *
Talyc stood abruptly and left the room. Fane started after him. Shadie put a hand on his arm.
‘Leave him be, let him vent. He’s had so much trauma happen to him, he needs to get his head around Relsor being on Mandalore.’
Fane nodded and sat down with some of the others. Shadie looked up; Knarf was with Mandalore, working hard at slicing the communications console.
‘The entire planet’s been affected,’ said Knarf.
‘Not quite,’ said Usharr, approaching Shadie. He took out his datapad. ‘It only calls, it will not receive, because it has been encrypted with a code to allow a signal to go through any jammed communications, and it can call anyone in hyperspace too. You’ll be able to call Tython and Coruscant with this.’
‘Usharr, that’s brilliant!’ exclaimed Shadie. The old man smiled. ‘You sure you’re truly a Sith?’
‘Sometimes I wonder myself.’ He handed her the datapad, suppressing a smile. ‘When you’re done, I’ve got a call to make myself.’
* * *
Lian was having trouble centering himself. Something was amiss in the Force, he could sense it. There was a heaviness he could not shake, a feeling of foreboding. It was the same feeling he’d sensed shortly before Ruther had died.
He heard Trylia call out his name urgently, as she and Brenum came running up to him.
‘Lian! Shadie just contacted us,’ she said, panting. ‘Relsor’s on Mandalore, and so are Perce and Jassahmi. He’s already causing trouble and creating illusions.’
Lian nodded. So that’s what he was sensing. ‘Someone’s going to die,’ he said.
Brenum put a hand on Lian’s arm in sympathy. ‘Who? Can you sense?’
Lian closed his eyes and shook his head. He focused on the Force. ‘I have the same feeling I did when Ruther died. The same feeling I had before my father died. Someone is going to be dealt a killing blow on Mandalore. Someone is going to die. I just feel it.’ He opened his eyes. ‘And I fear it’s going to be me.’
‘Nonsense! You’re the healer of the Force,’ said Brenum. ‘Such a powerful Jedi such as you surely will be able to survive any attack made upon him. You’re the only one who can resist Relsor’s illusions and counter them.’
‘Which is why Relsor wants me dead.’ Lian walked to the transparisteel and looked out onto the grasslands of beautiful Tython. ‘I had this feeling every time someone in my bloodline died.’ He shook his head. ‘While my great grandfather outlives us all.’ He looked down. ‘If I hide away as he does, then I can remain safe and continue to heal the Force.’
‘But then many on Mandalore will surely die,’ said Trylia, sadness and understanding in her voice.
‘I know.’ Lian’s voice was almost a whisper. He felt his eyes fill with tears. ‘My father, my brother, and now me. We each had our part to play. My father suspected he would die and it’s through his death that Fane and I were brought together in the Force, to become friends and be able to perform such incredible feats.’ Lian turned around to face his friends. ‘I don’t possess the Crypt’s powers you do to survive a fatal fight with Relsor.’
‘You fought him once,’ said Brenum, ‘you can fight him again.’
Lian shook his head. ‘He was stalling and distracting then, trying to capture Shadie. Now I can sense how he intends to kill me.’ Lian closed his eyes again. ‘The Force needs me, so I will give myself up to it, and I will not let innocent people die.’ He opened his eyes again. ‘I will face my fate, as my father faced his. I will let Relsor fight me.’
‘You don’t have to die,’ said Trylia. ‘You don’t have to let Relsor kill you.’
‘I will do everything in my power to survive the ordeal, I promise you that.’ Lian chuckled. ‘I won’t let him have an easy win, if that’s what it has to come to.’ He nodded. ‘You’re right. I can still live after this fight. Just because Relsor has set out to kill me, doesn’t mean I’ll die.’
‘That’s the spirit,’ said Brenum. ‘No need for crazy heroics.’
Lian burst out laughing. ‘You’re one to talk, the lot of you giving yourselves up to Relsor in order to save Talyc.’
Lian walked over to the desk and grabbed his belt and lightsaber, feeling resolve and determination. He took his flask and drank; Tython’s water was refreshing. He had spent his whole life serving the Force, most of it on Tython. He drank again, then placed the flask on the desk again.
‘Come on, let’s go save some Mandalorians’ hinds and show our enemy what Jedi are truly capable of.’
Lian could see concern in Trylia’s eyes, as though she knew he still felt fear and doubt, but Lian knew as much as they did, hiding away would not help anyone.
* * *
‘This is going to be an eventful battle,’ said Emain. ‘The Republic fleet will arrive at Mandalore as soon as they’re able to. Meanwhile, I, with another fleet, will search for Relsor’s flagship.’
‘Good idea. He had to arrive here with something,’ said Shadie, ‘but no enemy ships have yet arrived.’
‘My fleet and I will find it, while he is busy on Mandalore. He won’t attack us too readily because he won’t be there to detect us.’ There was no holocam but she could almost sense Emain lean closer to the holotransceiver. When he spoke again, his voice was louder and closer. ‘And then I’m going to put a tracking device on his ship.’
‘Perfect!’ said Mandalore, as he approached. ‘I am putting Mandalore on lockdown. No one is leaving the planet.’
‘I have an idea too,’ said Usharr.
Shadie looked over. He motioned for her to resume, so she finished the call with Emain and gave the datapad transceiver back to Master Usharr. He made a call and waited.
The low voice of a man answered. ‘Yes?’
‘It’s me,’ said Usharr.
‘Usharr, you have news for me?’ Usharr’s contact asked.
‘I do. And someone is here with me who would like to say hello.’
Shadie hesitated only a brief moment. ‘Hi, this is Shadie.’
‘Well, well, how interesting,’ came the voice. ‘I have heard much about your recent activities.’ Shadie could not tell if he was pleased or disappointed. ‘The Dark Council has been informed as well. You are a peculiar Jedi; your actions puzzle me, but it seems you have been truthful, and thanks to you, my apprentice lives to continue with his mission.’
‘Listen,’ said Usharr, ‘I’ll get right to it. Relsor in on Mandalore.’
‘Oh?’ There was an eager sort of surprise to his voice.
‘Which means his ship is at the mercy of your apprentice,’ Usharr went on, ‘if he wanted, for example, to let a small fleet of Republic ships go by and fly close to the hull, and observe them simply. Then the flagship would be left alone and there would be no need for hostilities.’
‘A small fleet of Republic ships, eh? My apprentice did tell me Relsor was on a mission, but if he returns before then we cannot guarantee…’
‘He won’t,’ interjected Shadie. ‘Mandalore is on lockdown. Communications are jammed, so Relsor has no clue we’re using Usharr’s special com device to call anyone.’
There was a pause, and Shadie could hear the man at the other end of the call breathe. Finally, he spoke again.
‘Inform your Republic fleet, they will have 10 minutes to do their flyby and whatever that entails. Beyond that, it will be too suspicious to allocate them more time before shooting them down.’
‘Ten minutes, got it.’ Shadie knew this was the best deal she was going to get. She nodded and Usharr ended the call.
“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.