Shadie stood holding Knarf’s hand for support as he gave her a bit more strength. Though her healing meditation had helped a great deal, her anticipation to confront Awgro was increasing her anxiety and thus was draining a part of her energy. Fane and Talyc stood by her side, Brenum and Trylia had also come to Mandalore and they stood next to Knarf.
They watched as Awgro’s ship entered the atmosphere with an escort of Mandalorian fighters. When the ship landed, ysalamiri were placed by the ship’s ramp and around the ship. Awgro walked out of the ship and was surrounded immediately. He raised his hands up and did not fight back as Mandalorians took his weapon from his belt.
‘If I had come to fight you, you know I wouldn’t need my lightsaber to do it,’ said Awgro.
‘We preferred to take precautions,’ said Shadie, crossing her arms. ‘We’re not entirely sure we can trust you, Awgro.’
‘Void, he’s contacted you, hasn’t he?’ said Awgro.
‘Bring his things to the Kandera bunker,’ said Talyc. He turned to the other Mandos. ‘Search his ship.’
Awgro stood silent as Zaereg led a team into the Sith apprentice’s ship.
‘You’re not going to find anything of value in there,’ said Awgro.
‘Are you working for Relsor?’ Shadie asked, looking him straight in the eyes.
‘What? No! He abandoned me on Dromund Kaas because I helped you lot.’
‘I’m surprised he didn’t kill you,’ said Brenum.
‘Relsor contacted me shortly after the events on Ziost,’ said Awgro, ‘hoping I would aid him in the future.’
‘And?’ said Brenum, prompting him to go on.
‘I told him exactly what I thought about him and his pitiable True Sith,’ said Awgro. ‘I serve the Sith Empire and the Sith Emperor, no one else.’ He turned to Shadie. ‘You can surely sense I’m telling you the truth. You saved me once and I knew then that I could trust you, despite the fact that we are on opposing factions. As individuals there is no reason why we could not at times aid each other if it was beneficial to both of us.’ He looked at Talyc. ‘You don’t need to wear your helmet in front of me, Clan Leader Talyc. I know who you are, I know what Relsor made you suffer, I aided you when I could, and I aided your friends. I know your authority and your clan’s superiority.’
There was an arrogant sort of intonation, yet Awgro was voicing compliments while being smug about his past cooperation.
‘You think we owe you something,’ said Knarf, voicing Shadie’s very thoughts.
‘Yes, and I now come for it.’
‘What do you want?’ Shadie asked, taken aback.
‘Refuge,’ said Awgro. ‘I’ve come for protection, and Mandalore is a good place outside of Sith Space, not in Republic Space, and not corrupted by the Hutt Cartel. I need your help; I need your protection. Lord Void is trying to kill me, he is hunting me, spying on me, tracking me.’ Shadie could sense that thus far Awgro was speaking the truth. ‘He wants to take over the Crypt.’
‘He claims you have your eyes on becoming the Crypt’s new master,’ said Shadie.
‘So he has been in contact with you,’ said Awgro conclusively.
‘I’ve already got Relsor trying to poison my body through the Force so that he can rebecome the Master of the Crypt, I don’t need someone else trying to take over. I’m fine as its master, thank you very much.’
‘Shadie, I’ve not come to kill you, nor to harm the Jedi who is destined to destroy Relsor,’ Awgro said, looking at Fane. ‘I would not benefit from doing so. If I wanted to take over the Crypt, I’d have to undergo all its trials. Lord Void, on the other hand, all he has to do is kill me. I’m sure he’s already achieved most of those trials throughout his lifetime.’
‘Do you know what each trial is?’ asked Shadie.
‘I would be lying if I said I hadn’t ensured I learnt many of Relsor and Perce’s secrets regarding the place.’ Shadie thought for a moment, letting Awgro’s words sink in. ‘Listen,’ the Sith added, ‘I know Void went and found the Crypt. Why would he go to all that trouble if not to check what the trials were and to ensure he knew exactly what he needed to do in order to claim it?’
At that moment, Zaereg and the others walked out of the ship. The Cathar pirate shrugged.
‘Nothing. It’s empty.’
‘Have you searched everywhere?’ asked Talyc.
‘We have, thoroughly,’ replied Zaereg. ‘There is no one else on-board.’
‘You think I brought a friend?’ said Awgro. ‘If I’m trying to escape my master, I’d hardly bring an accomplice, would I? I came on this ship on my own. Secrecy is necessary.’
‘Lord Void claims there was an agent from Imperial Intelligence with you,’ said Brenum.
‘That’s nonsense,’ said Awgro. ‘With me? No!’
Shadie studied the Sith. She could tell his words were calculated and everything he said rang true, but she wasn’t sure, just like with Lord Void, if there were any hidden lies amidst those truths.
‘We cannot take any chances right now,’ she said, sighing. ‘I’m sorry, Awgro. I want to believe you, but we need to detain you in the Kandera bunker for now.’
Awgro nodded. ‘I understand.’
‘You will be surrounded by ysalamiri,’ Talyc added. ‘You will be under guard.’
‘Do what you need to do,’ said Awgro.
Talyc signalled the Mandos from Clan Kandera and they escorted Awgro to the bunker.
‘Do you believe him?’ asked Trylia, once Awgro was far enough away.
‘I don’t know,’ Shadie admitted. ‘There was no deception when he spoke.’
‘But there is something he is not telling us,’ said Fane.
‘You want to double-check his ship?’ asked Zaereg. ‘We went through records and datapads. Nothing regarding an agent if he was accompanied.’
‘So Lord Void lied to us then?’ said Knarf.
‘I don’t know, and right now, I need to rest,’ said Shadie.
‘You need to practice those exercises,’ said Knarf, ‘the ones you came up with with Lian and the Pure-Blood Sith’s Force-ghost.’
Shadie nodded. She was drained, sleepy, and all she wanted to do was go to sleep.
* * *
Trylia and Brenum entered the bunker; Talyc was already there, looking over some reports on his datapad. He looked up at them.
‘The others not with you?’
‘Fane and Knarf are tending to Shadie,’ said Brenum. ‘She’s feeling unwell and they’re helping her out a bit.’
Talyc nodded. He pointed at Awgro who stood in the containment field.
‘You say you spoke with Relsor some time ago?’ said Trylia.
‘Nearly four years ago now now,’ said Awgro.
‘How did he seem?’ she asked.
‘Why do you care? It’s not like you were pining over him as he was pining over you,’ said the Sith. ‘He had one thing in mind when he contacted me, and it was his survival.’
Trylia sighed. ‘I feared as much.’
‘It’s a shame he could not turn to the light,’ said Brenum.
‘It’s a shame you thought you could corrupt him in the first place,’ said Awgro.
‘Hey! The light side is not a corruption of the Force,’ protested Brenum. ‘Relsor is the corruption, not us!’
Awgro shrugged. ‘Different philosophy, I suppose.’ He looked around. ‘Is this containment field going to keep me safe from Lord Void if he comes after me?’ He prodded the field; it flickered. There were bars all around too if ever the containment field failed. ‘Is this beskar’gam?’
‘Yes,’ replied Talyc.
‘So only continuous hacking at these bars would get me out,’ said Awgro. ‘Provided I managed to kill the ysalamiri who are out of the containment field, lowered the containment field, called my lightsaber, and hacked away.’
‘Are you sharing your escape plan, then?’ Trylia mused.
‘That’s exactly it!’ Awgro said, his expression neutral.
She could not tell if he was toying with them, masking his fear for Lord Void, or if he was actually trying to figure out how to kill the ysalamiri outside the containment field.
Awgro sat down in the middle of the containment field and began to meditate. Talyc motioned for Brenum and Trylia to follow him into the next room over. He took his helmet off and whispered.
‘Reports corroborate his story,’ he said. ‘Shadie sensed he was telling the truth, there is no one else on his ship, and all the data he has is on Lord Void and plans to escape Dromund Kaas without looking too suspicious, since he must still obey his master.’ He shook his head. ‘It’s hard to tell who’s telling the truth, but it is possible Void was lying. He has deceived us in the past.’
‘Whereas Awgro,’ said Brenum, ‘has always helped us when it was necessary.’
Talyc nodded. The three returned to the main area and sat down to keep watch.
* * *
Lord Void looked down at his datapad, awaiting the reports; something didn’t add up. He sat down at his desk and called Lian with his special comlink for a report regarding Awgro. He was greeted by the Jedi Master and the connected voices of Jedi Fane, Shadie and Agent Knarf.
‘We know you lied to us about the agent,’ said Fane. ‘We are disappointed.’
‘We thought we could trust you,’ said Lian in a calm voice, ‘and there is conflicting evidence to your story.’
‘Awgro has undoubtedly planned things out quite well,’ said Lord Void, ‘better than I could have anticipated. I assure you all…that I have not told a single lie in regards to Awgro.’
‘He claims he’s seeking refuge,’ said Shadie, ‘from you!’
Lord Void leaned back suddenly, surprised and confused. ‘Why would I want to kill Awgro?’
‘So that you can claim the Crypt,’ said Shadie.
Lord Void shook his head a few times before answering. ‘I swear on the Dark Council throne upon which I sit that I have no intention in claiming that Crypt as my own. That thing is yours, Shadie, and I respect that. Besides,’ he leaned forward and put his hand on his head, ‘if I wanted to claim the Crypt, I would not need to kill Awgro.’
‘How do you mean?’ asked Lian.
‘When I was first a Sith Master, my wife became ill with the dark side and tried to kill me. I live. You can guess what happened to ensure that.’
‘Oh,’ this came from Knarf. ‘I’m sorry to hear that.’
Lord Void knew how strong Shadie and Knarf’s passion was and he also knew the man could sympathise with the situation.
‘Thank you,’ he replied politely. ‘It is not something I enjoy remembering. It’s been a long time, but those were dark times for me.’
‘You could still try to claim the Crypt, and seek to find out what the other trials were,’ said Fane.
‘That would explain an alternate reason why I might have visited the Crypt, which is not the true reason I went, but it would not explain Awgro’s claims that I am hunting him in order to claim the Crypt. I am hunting him, yes, but because he has gone rogue and I failed to piece the pieces together sooner. I am merely trying to mitigate any damage to my reputation and to assist my allies in the process.’ He paused. ‘The Empire knows it needs you alive, Jedi Fane.’
Lord Void looked down at his datapad. The report from the Minister had come in.
‘I have a report you might be interested in,’ he said. ‘I asked the Minister of Imperial Intelligence to do a more thorough background check on my apprentice, uproot any missing links, and fill in any blanks that had been left unfilled all this time.’
‘And?’ asked Lian.
‘I’m opening the report now.’ He began to read. ‘”As requested, we tracked down Awgro’s mother on Nar Shaddaa and our agent on hand questioned her thoroughly. She is human, a dancer. She spoke about giving Awgro up to the Sith when he was an infant, as he had already shown signs of Force abilities, but she herself is not Force-sensitive. When asked about his father, she replied he was not Force-sensitive as far as she knew. According to her, she had one night of passion with a man who was a stranger to her. She never saw him again, and when she found out she was with child, she never sought him out.“‘
Lord Void leaned back in his chair, shocked by waht came next, and let out a long deep breath.
* * *
‘What is it?’ asked Lian through the comlink speaker.
Fane looked at Knarf and Shadie. There was a silence that seemed to last forever.
‘Now I understand,’ said Lord Void.
‘Understand what?’ asked Shadie.
‘Why Awgro went to Mandalore. His father, it says, was a bounty hunter, a Mandalorian.’
Everyone looked at each other.
‘Okay, who?’ asked Knarf.
Fane felt a sudden lump drop into his stomach. ‘Talyc,’ he said. He stood and saw Brenum and Trylia enter the room. He felt momentary relief until he saw that Talyc was not with them.
‘Oh, he stayed to keep watch at the bunker,’ said Brenum.
Fane shook his head. ‘He’s alone with Awgro?’
‘Well, there are Mandalorians stationed outside the bunker but–’
‘No!’ Fane hurried off. He heard the others call after him, but all his focus was on getting to that bunker quickly enough to make sure Talyc was safe.
* * *
Talyc leaned on the holomonitor, fiddling with his helmet, as he spoke with Awgro.
‘You have to understand though why the others are suspicious of you,’ he told the Sith. ‘I mean, I understand that you couldn’t exactly help me when I was captured by Relsor, and I recognise what you’ve done for my friends and clanmates, but it is awfully strange that both you and Lord Void are claiming the same thing of each other, accusing each other.’
‘I admit, it is,’ said Awgro. ‘I appreciate that you are willing to give me the benefit of the doubt, and I can stay in here, I don’t mind it so much.’
Talyc thought he heard a strange sound outside. He turned to the bunker’s exit.
‘I wonder what they’re up to out there.’
‘Probably enjoying themselves a lot more than we are,’ said Awgro, a wry smile on his face. He cleared his throat. ‘Would you mind passing me something to drink?’
Talyc nodded. The Sith had chatted with him quite a while; he guessed his throat was dry and Talyc was not here to torture the man. He lowered the containment field and passed a flask to Awgro between the bars. But instead of taking the flask, Awgro took Talyc’s arm and pulled him in close to the bars. Talyc hit his head and Awgro’s other hand came above him and Talyc felt as though a heavy sensation was coming over him.
‘What are you doing?’ he struggled to ask. Talyc fell, and he felt himself weaken and tire. Panic struck him as he realised what was happening. Awgro continued to drain and choke him.
‘I may not be working for Relsor, but it does not mean I did not learn some of his abilities. I can use the Force through ysalamiri as he can.’
‘You…said…you weren’t here to kill…’ Talyc gasped for air.
‘Shadie, or Fane,’ said Awgro. ‘But I have come to kill you.’
Talyc tried to fight him off, but he felt his body become more and more limp as deepening darkness took him.
* * *
Vax looked at his chrono. The Sith who had commissioned him for the mission had not reported back with further instructions and Vax was becoming restless. He was in a stealthed ship on Mandalore, had gone on radio silence in order to ensure he would not be found, but he could not help but wonder who he might run into if he left his post, perhaps even hoped to have a certain run-in.
He sighed. Something was amiss, he just knew it. He secured his sniper rifle and his small blaster, and double-checked the special energy shield prototype he was trying out. It was supposed to block out any incoming attacks and dampen Force abilities. Working with Sith, the Ministry of Intelligence thought it best to develop such a device. Vax would be the first to test it in the field, though tests done on Dromund Kaas had given quite surprisingly positive results.
Vax did one last check of the ship to secure it and exited. He was a short distance from a bunker and the beacon on his datapad indicated that Awgro was in that bunker. He had to admit, he felt privileged working with the apprentice of the Head of the Dark Council.
When he arrived at the bunker, he noticed the Mandalorians outside it were slumped over. He bent and checked one of them, taking off the woman’s helmet. They were all alive, but something had subdued them. He took his sniper rifle in hand and entered the bunker cautiously.
Right away, his heart skipped a beat. Awgro was bent over, his hand above the limp body of Talyc Kandera, and a stream of red energy seemed to be lingering between them, filaments moving from Talyc’s body to the Sith’s hand.
‘What are you doing!’ he exclaimed. He fired a shot once and the Sith removed his hand.
‘I told you to stay at the ship!’ Awgro growled.
‘You never told me the Mandalorian you were here to kill was Talyc Kandera!’ Vax said, hurrying to Talyc’s side. He picked up his body and put a hand on his pale face. ‘He’s still alive.’
Vax put his sniper rifle back on his back and took out his stun laser and stunned the Sith who was attempting to pull Vax out of the way.
‘I’m going to kill him whether you’re in my way or not!’
The Sith reached for his lightsaber with the Force. Vax reflexively brought Talyc close to him and activated the protective energy shield just in the nick of time. The lightsaber bounced off it. He sighed, relieved.
‘You’re not killing Talyc Kandera. I won’t let you.’
He stood, picking Talyc up, and slung him gently over his shoulder.
‘You can’t protect him,’ said Awgro.
‘Yes, I can. The Jedi and his clan have failed to protect him from you. I’m going to protect him.’ Vax had made up his mind in those brief seconds; he would take Talyc to Dromund Kaas.
The Sith attempted to choke him. Vax had to push through the sensations, even if the energy shield was dampening them, in order to step forward and walk out of the bunker.
He heard Awgro’s lightsaber against the beskar bars, hacking away, shouting out to him:
‘You won’t escape far!’
Vax hurried towards his ship and ran inside. He locked the ramp and set Talyc gently on a med bed. He hurried to the controls in the cockpit. Out the viewport, he could see Awgro running towards the ship. He fired a few laser shots to keep him at bay as he set the ship in flight.
* * *
Fane ran towards the bunker, sensing the others behind him. When he arrived, the Mandalorians outside were slumped and unconscious. He ran in, the room was empty. He noticed the ysalamiri were alive, so he did not understand how Awgro could have escaped. Fane knew the Sith had used the Force, for the containment field was down, the abrs were bent and some had been sliced.
Fane walked to the holomonitor where Talyc’s helmet lay. He took it and stared at it.
‘Talyc!’ Knarf called out. Then more quietly: ‘Where is he?’
‘He’s gone! Awgro’s taken him,’ said Fane.
‘There’s a ship!’ cried Shadie.
Fane and Knarf hurried back out. There was a ship coming out of stealth and preparing for flight. Fane ran as fast as he could towards it. Shadie sent lightning, but the ship had already risen high enough that her lightning did not reach it. Fane stopped, panting and bending over, and watched in dismay as the ship made its way into the sky, stealthing again. He closed his eyes.
‘Why are Sith always taking him?’ Fane took a deep breath and looked at the helmet. He felt a warm hand on his shoulder. The lilac hand gently squeezed, though Trylia said nothing.
‘We’ll find him, Fane,’ said Shadie. ‘I promise. We always do.’
She swayed where she stood and fell down. Knarf caught her and cushioned her fall.
‘That was more taxing than I had anticipated,’ she admitted.
Fane bent down and took his friend’s hand. ‘Everything’s happening all at once, eh,’ he said. ‘We’ll be okay. You’re right, we’ll find Talyc, and you’ll heal. It’ll be like we always do.’
Shadie nodded. Fane looked up into the sky, though there was nothing for him to see, and he just wished he could have caught up with the ship.
* * *
Awgro watched on, as the Jedi turned to leave. They had not noticed him. He shrouded his presence as best he could and backed up further into the foliage of trees and underbrush. The Jedi took the slumped Mandalorians and used the Force to carry them. He waited for the area to be clear. He would need to find a disguise and transport. He knew exactly where Cypher Five was taking his quarry.
Awgro sighed. It was good that he had not been seen; he would be able to find a way off the planet and they would not suspect he was still there if they thought he had taken Clan Leader Talyc. And then, he would return to Dromund Kaas, find him, and kill him.
“The Future of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2022).
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.