Lian sat ponderously as he waited for the councils to congregate via the holochannel. Lord Void stared at the blank monitor displays.
‘Protectors of the Force,’ he snickered. ‘Now that’s an interesting one. I hope Shadie knows what she’s doing. I hope she explained to them that she represents balance within the Force.’
‘She told them she was a benevolent Force-user,’ said Lian. ‘If they seek guidance from another, she will teach them what she knows. She will not convert them, but allies are allies. Even if we don’t like what they do or represent, sometimes it pays to give them a chance and find out more about them.’ Lian inclined his head and motioned Void.
‘A fair point,’ said Lord Void.
‘Only the pure evil ones cannot be reasoned with,’ said Lian. ‘If Shadie tells them she wants allies who will become benevolent, they will either adapt and adjust or turn away. The choice is theirs, but a choice it remains, and Shadie stands for that freedom above all else. She wants them to choose.’
‘Yet she presents that option to them so that they know they can choose it if they want to,’ completed Lord Void.
‘You’re starting to pick up some of her philosophies yourself,’ Lian said, smiling. He had to admit, Lord Void wasn’t such bad company. ‘Oh, I meant to ask… While you were exploring the Crypt, I learnt something else from the others. What do you know of a Maranna?’
Lian shrugged. ‘Apparently, the Sith wanted her dead from the fear that she might learn to use her Force-absorption ability to an extreme to neutralise their powers. They obviously never encountered my father.’ Lian allowed himself to boast a bit. ‘Master Juun Kloh could absorb anything sent at him, transform it, send it back. He could absorb it more than Kromus or Lahnius could. He could negate it. And then it disappeared back into the Force from whence it was generated, sending it back to feed the Living Force around him, the Force that fed him his abilities to absorb in the first place.’ Lian looked down. ‘He was a great healer.’
‘You must miss him a lot,’ said Lord Void.
‘At times less, but he is always in my heart,’ replied Lian. ‘His death played a vital role in the shaping of the galaxy and in Fane’s ability to destroy Relsor. I would not change the past to make it so he lived just to have him by my side, as tempting as it might be if I had the ability, because I understand that in doing so, Fane would not have become capable of destroying Relsor. Many things would have been different, but I don’t know that the galaxy would have been better off.’
‘Such wise words. Your father would undoubtedly be very proud of you and of what you have accomplished.’ Lord Void sighed. ‘Alas, this Maranna rings a bell, but a very vague one. I believe I’ve heard of her, but I never encountered her.’
‘I’m told she claimed to have joined the Followers of Kromus and then sought refuge with the True Sith. Awgro has put a bounty on her head, but she is not a Kandera as far as Talyc knows.’
‘Then we will have to find her,’ said Lord Void. ‘If she is in danger of Awgro, there is a reason he is hunting her as much as he is hunting Talyc. I just wonder what business he has with her and who she is to him.’
‘The Protectors of the Force claim they briefly met her before she left Korriban. They don’t know what happened to her. She never re-emerged with the other Followers of Kromus nor with the True Sith.’
‘I wonder if there are some who follow Awgro,’ Void mused. ‘Yet if she followed him, he would not be hunting her. I admit it is very strange. Do you have an image of her?’
‘Yes!’ Lian showed the file he was sent regarding Maranna. The two considered the possibilities for a few more moments.
‘I can help find her’ said Void. ‘Regardless of what happens today, I still have contacts and friends in all corners of the galaxy. I should also like to go to my safe houses. Especially the one where I left the information regarding Relsor’s creation, birth, and malady. It’s clear to me he was there. I wish to know what he took and what he left. Then I wish to take what remains. I do not have many possessions, and I left nothing of import on Dromund Kaas.’
‘That’s good to hear, because Shadie said that apparently, they’ll want to lure you back so they can kill you,’ said Lian.
‘I could have told you that,’ Void said poitedly.
‘Well, whatever happens, once the verdicts are in, I can send Brenum and Trylia to help you.’
Void narrowed his eyes. ‘You can trust me.’
‘I’m not trying to keep tabs on you, Void.’ Lian chuckled. ‘I want to help protect you from your enemies. We probably have the same ones.’
Lord Void opened his mouth to reply but then the monitors began to chime in as the spokespersons for each council appeared. Lian took a deep breath, Void taking an even deeper one.
‘I have a feeling we should let Lady Gofaylia go first,’ said Lian.
‘She will not let anyone else do so anyway,’ replied Void.
‘Greetings!’ said Lian. ‘Thank you for returning to us. We received your questions via mail and Lord Void answered via holo as requested by each of you. I trust you have all had the time to confer, and to listen to and ponder what he had to say for himself?’ There were several nods. The Sith lady remained motionless. ‘We are now ready to hear your verd–’
‘About time!’ said Lady Gofaylia. ‘There’s no need for long introductions, Jedi Master Lian. We all know the drill.’ Lian bit back a retort and merely smiled instead.
‘Lord Void is a member of the Dark Council,’ Lady Gofaylia went on. ‘Before I was appointed as the Head, he was it. You cannot take back your place as the Head of the Dark Council, Void, but we are prepared to take you back amongst our council. You have been a valuable member.’ Her tone spoke mroe of disdain than appreciation. ‘As a Dark Lord and Sith, you are the enemy of all other councils present here today. The Sith Empire’s temporary allegiance with Mandalore has come to a close, now that the envoy has returned with the promised goods. You are to return immediately.’
‘There are matters to which I must first attend,’ said Lord Void. ‘My son did desecrate one of my safe houses. I should wish to go there before returning to the Empire I shaped to its glorious state.’ There was just enough emphasis, though it was subtle.
‘My command is clear, Darth Void.’ Void cringed. ‘You answer to me now. Too long have you had the freedom to do what you wanted unchecked. You will return immediately or you will face severe punishment.’
‘And when you say “severe punishment,” what exactly do you mean, Lady Gofaylia?’ The question came from Supreme Chancellor Emain.
‘Demotion,’ she replied.
Lord Void took a few steps towards the monitor that had her image. ‘No. Not demotion. Termination. Speak the truth, Lady Gofaylia, for I can see past your lie.’
She lifted her head higher, looking down condescendingly. ‘Very well. We must strip you of your possessions and send you in exile. If you do not comply, more severe punishments will be put in measure. If you refuse outright and turn away from the Sith Empire and do not do anything to renew your name once a satisfactory exile has been determined, then you will face death.’
‘Spit in my face then,’ Lord Void snarled. ‘Throw back everything I gave the Empire. Your idea of exile is imprisonment on Belsavis. If death would not take me there, you would wait for me to attempt to escape to have an excuse to destroy me. Let me give you a more valid reason to wish me dead: I renege my title as Dark Lord of the Sith. I choose my own exile.’ He looked at Lian and muttered quietly. ‘I always preferred Lord Void to Darth Void anyway.’
‘Then so be it! You are now an enemy of the Sith Empire.’ Lady Gofaylia’s emphasis on Empire accentuated her Imperial accent even more.
‘One quick question, Lady Gofaylia,’ Lian quickly interjected. ‘How does that affect the temporary truce my friends have on Korriban?’
‘Darth Usharr has proven trustworthy despite his prior affiliations with Void, but your friends are being carefully watched. One wrong turn and they will be escorted off the planet as a warning to never return. The Dark Council does not wish to start a war with Mandalore, that is the only reason we have allowed them to stay. With that: For the Empire!’
Lady Gofaylia chimed out. Lian heard a loud whistle coming from Mandalore’s holo, from someone standing behind the Mandalore, and knew Talyc was nearby, listening in.
Lord Void had his hands balled into fists. ‘She would dare ignore everything I did to build the Empire up, even before becoming the Head of the Dark Council. Ungrateful little–’
Emain cleared his throat loudly. ‘Can we return to the proceedings? I must admit, Void, turning away from the Empire that raised you… I’m sorry for your loss.’
‘Well where one loses another gains,’ said Mandalore. ‘Listen, you are the one who pushed for an alliance as much as Usharr did with Mandalore. You helped us in our war. We understand you didn’t know you’d be starting this war by trying to conceive a child when you did. Many Mandalorians come from many places. There is still much that needs to be done before you can be accepted as a Mandalorian, but you are no enemy of ours. Once enough time has passed, Clan Kandera informs me that you will have a place among them should you choose to take it.’
‘Oh, thank you.’ Void seemed surprised. ‘I will consider that.’
Behind Mandalore, Lian saw the movement of purple armour, and Talyc’s grinning face momentarily appeared on the monitor before he was obscured once more by Mandalore’s hulking form.
The Hutt grumbled away in Huttese. ‘If you stay out of our way, then we stay out of yours. If you wish to do business, you know where to find us and we do business.’
‘Thank you,’ said Lord Void. ‘I appreciate that.’
‘But no credichips! You bring your credits to Hutt Space unless you’re on Nar Shaddaa.’
‘Understood, will do.’ Void and Lian exchange a look, both suppressing a laugh.
‘The Chiss Ascendency has made its intentions clear the last time we congregated,’ the Chiss woman said. ‘You are not our enemy. In the future, I would like to discuss ways for you to help us detect Force-sensitive Chiss, perchance another Gourd is born. But we have ample time to discuss this, and can do so at a later date.’
‘It would be my pleasure to assist you to the best of my capabilities,’ replied Void.
‘If you wish to ally yourself with the Jedi, then you will need to prove a lot more,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘Turning away from the dark side would be best, but I understand we cannot ask that of you. You are not a Jedi, yet many Jedi have come from the Sith Empire or elsewhere. We have no qualms with you per se, but we cannot accept you among our ranks. Your best option is to lay low for now, for many Jedi still blame you for what happened to this galaxy. Then, if you wish to earn favour, you know how to contact us, and we will guide you to a more reputable status amongst our allies.’
‘The Republic would prefer for you to make amends for some of the wrongs you did in the past,’ said Emain. ‘There are things you can do now and other things you can do later. It will take time for the galaxy to heal. But your son was the enemy, not you. You never outright attacked the Republic and you did provide, while you were in charge of the Dark Council, valuable information for us to remove our forces while the Empire took back certain worlds in order to minimise damage and death. That has not been overlooked. If you wish to prove your true allegiance to us, share with us everything you know about the Empire. They have betrayed you. Help us protect ourselves from them and be a true ally. We also offer you a place in the Republic should you wish to take it. If not, then as an ally simply.’
Void nodded. He looked at Lian and shrugged.
‘I’m sure Lord Void needs to take all this in,’ said Lian. ‘And I’m sure he will need time to put together what he knows of the Empire to share with you. He does need to go to his safe-houses and I agree that that is what is most urgent at the moment.’
‘I also agree,’ said Master Herl’unik. ‘We don’t want the Empire or Awgro getting their hands on whatever Relsor found.’
‘Take your time,’ said Emain, ‘but don’t leave us waiting for too long.’
‘Will do!’ said Void. ‘And, thank you. I am…heartened at the compassion you have shown me. I am…overwhelmed by it. This passion fuels my gratitude towards all of you who extend this hand to me.’
‘You have many who vouch for you, Lord Void,’ said Mandalore. ‘And many others who understand.’
Mandalore chimed out. Emain and Master Herl’unik took the opportunity to coordinate before chiming out as well.
‘We also thank you,’ the Chiss woman said. ‘The Chiss recognise our error in this as well. We failed to realise Gourd was a Force-user and he fooled many of us. We would be hypocrites to place the blame for Relsor’s existence on you alone. Be well. I hope to hear from you soon.’ She chimed out.
The Hutt leaned in towards his holocam. ‘You discarded the poodoo and now you are cleansed. That is the key to good business.’ And he chimed out.
Void blinked a few times before turning away from the now blank monitors.
‘Well, that went well!’ said Lian.
‘It went as you had predicted,’ said Void. He began pacing to and fro, his tone becoming frantic. ‘I have nowhere to go. I do not agree with Jedi philosophies. I cannot stand the Republic. I have no place among the Chiss nor do I want to do business with the Hutts any time soon. Mandalore is kind, but me a Mandalorian? No.’ Stoping, he shook his head.
‘There is one other option,’ said Lian.
‘And what is that?’
‘You don’t go anywhere.’ Lian smiled in satisfaction. Void scowled in puzzlement. ‘You remain here with me. I’m going to be training a few Force-users who do not wish to be affiliated with any factions, but who need guidance. Shadie’s good enough with a balance of both dark and light sides, but I can’t be the only teacher here; I’m only of the light side. Besides, I need someone whom I trust, someone who knows the dark side well but won’t use it against me.’ Lian extended a hand. ‘Stay. And be a teacher here at the Crypt. Be my partner, my Force teaching partner.’
Void blinked a few times, his eyes a bit wet with tears. ‘Lian, what you are offering me is more than an alliance. It’s…’ He paused.
‘I don’t know what to say,’ said Void. ‘There are few in this galaxy whom I have been able to call my friends. And fewer who know more about me than I am willing to share.’ He stared at Lian for a long moment, his expression becoming one of awe. Lian still held his hand out. ‘I knew you were different when I intercepted the Krayt Dragon, and I knew I needed to meet you. I just felt it in the Force. It was stronger than almost anything else I had ever felt. Now I understand why.’ He smiled and took Lian’s hand. ‘All right, then. I shall join you and your Crypt academy, and teach by your side.’ They shook once, a firm, determinative shake.
Lian beamed at him. ‘I am so happy to have you, as I am to know you, Lord Void.’
Void chuckled. ‘A simple and ordinary birth name. So far, Usharr’s been the only other person who’s known it.’
‘I must admit, Void sounds a lot more imposing,’ said Lian.
Void nodded once. ‘Just don’t use it too often; only my closest friends know of it.’
Lian nodded. ‘All right. I promise not to abuse of this knowledge.’ He and Void chuckled, as they sat down, releasing the tension from the trial and beginning to make plans for the future.
* * *
‘Vax wasn’t kidding about Lady Gofaylia,’ said Talyc.
‘Nor was he exaggerating,’ Fane agreed.
‘I don’t know if he will ever want to be a Mandalorian,’ said Nriwe. ‘Void, I mean. But he did sound genuinely touched just knowing we accepted him and wanted him as our friend. A clan is important.’
Talyc smiled at Nriwe. Thera giggled.
‘He looks nice,’ the little Twi’lek said. ‘Not as scary as I thought he would be when I met him the other week. I know he pretended to be Master Anton, but he was nice! That Lady Sith though, urgh!’ She stuck out her tongue and squeezed her eyes shut and shook her head.
Fane laughed. ‘I couldn’t agree more.’ He turned back to Talyc. ‘Well, now that the Jedi Council is free again, I need to speak with them.’
‘You don’t waste any time,’ said Talyc.
‘Hey, there’s something important to me I need us to do together,’ said Fane.
‘And that is?’
‘I’ll tell you when we reach Coruscant!’
“Trials in 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.