Shadie and Knarf were sitting outside on the stone parapet, by the academy’s entrance, looking down at the acolytes. They were accompanied by Storimbu who was waiting for some of the other Protectors of the Force.
‘I quite like our new name, I must say,’ he said. ‘I much prefer it to many others that have existed. We stand for something bigger than us, greater than two factions, greater than the dark side or the light side. We stand for the Force.’
‘Well, given how Relsor put the Force in peril,’ said Knarf, ‘it’s quite significant.’
‘It reminds us all how it doesn’t matter what side of the credichip you’re on,’ said Shadie, ‘that none can exist if the Force is destroyed.’ Her datapad chimed and she checked it. ‘Hmm, Master Herl’unik requires our presence on Coruscant for a few days.’ She read more of the message. ‘Details of which I am not at liberty to say.’
‘I understand,’ said Storimbu. ‘I, along with the others, will be here when you return. You will return, right?’
‘Of course. My training has only just begun for my targeted Life Drain of self-seeping, how ever you want to call it.’
Storimbu laughed. ‘We’ll find a more…eloquent name for it.’
‘Yeah, it does need work,’ said Knarf, grinning.
Shadie shook her head. She beckoned her husband to follow as she bid farewell to Storimbu. When she and Knarf arrived at Usharr’s office, he was speaking to someone on the holomonitor.
‘Well you can ask her yourself then,’ he said.
‘Who can ask me what?’ Shadie came round the desk and saw that Lady Gofaylia was on the line.
‘Shadie, Darth or Jedi, how ever you may call yourself, I would like to know what benefit the Sith Empire has in allowing you to remain on Korriban?’
‘Well, while I would never betray my other allies, it could have its benefits to have us as your ally. You know, not necessarily Mandalore, but Clan Kandera. I could, for example, negotiate with my other allies to stop them from targeting key worlds of your Empire. We do have a common enemy in Awgro, may I remind you. If the Empire aligned itself with my clan, then whatever I discovered about him that I would be willing to share with my other allies, I could also share with you.’
‘That puts us on the same level as your other allies,’ Lady Gofaylia pointed out.
‘And you expect me to put you above the others?’ Shadie said incredulously. ‘I don’t put any of my allies above the others. Consider yourself lucky I view you as an equal.’
‘But I am–’
‘A superior? Not mine.’ Lady Gofaylia crossed her arms and scowled. Shadie could almost sense her annoyance. ‘Listen,’ Shadie went on, ‘we need to head to Coruscant for a few days. When we return, why don’t you come meet with us? We can discuss this possibility further. You allow me to return and ensure no harm comes to me, and I make sure none of my other allies put you or your Empire in peril.’ Shadie inclined her head. Then added quickly. ‘For a reasonable amount of time.’
‘Lord Void is now your ally but he is my enemy now.’
‘Yes, and? Fane is my ally and he saved your Empire from utter and complete destruction. Usharr is my ally and he and Lord Void helped us expose Relsor to you, thus helping the Empire further, minimising its losses. We have common ground and people, it is natural we may also have non-common ground and people. No alliance is perfect.’
Lady Gofaylia narrowed her eyes and pursed her lips as she pondered for a moment.
‘My love,’ said Knarf, ‘you do realise that if you have even a morsel of an alliance with Lady Gofaylia, Lord Void is going to go mad with annoyance.’
‘Very well, then!’ Lady Gofaylia answered quickly before Shadie could say anything else. ‘We will discuss further upon your return. I look forward to speaking with you both and making an acquaintance with your Sphere. Good day to you!’ Lady Gofaylia chimed out.
Shadie blinked as she and Usharr stared at her husband in disbelief, the Sith master slowly turning his head towards him and bearing an amused smile upon his face.
‘Agent Knarf, it seems you have sliced the code in appealing to Lady Gofaylia’s ego. Well done!’
‘Bah, lucky guess.’
‘She really doesn’t like Void, does she?’ Shadie couldn’t help but feel amused.
‘We’re going to have to milk this, you know,’ said Knarf.
‘My love! Not too much.’ Shadie giggled and shook her head. ‘Void is really going to hate this.’
‘Bah, he’ll understand the necessity,’ said Knarf.
Shadie could hardly believe it and she laughed some more as she and Knarf made their preparations for their departure.
* * *
Talyc followed Fane through the grand halls of the Jedi Temple on Coruscant. The place was much the same as the last time he had been here, though much of the damage it had undergone was repaired. He clutched Fane’s hand as he looked out the viewport; up higher was the rooftop from where he had fallen.
‘Don’t think of it as the place where you almost fell to your death, think of it as the place you fell in love with me,’ said Fane.
‘But I was already in love with you,’ Talyc protested.
Fane motioned the room they were passing through. ‘This is where I found out you lived when I saw you and my heart was about to burst out of my chest.’
‘Yeah, well, we’re not here for a tour down memory lane, are we?’ Talyc chuckled. ‘Are you going to tell me why we’ve come to Coruscant or what?’
‘All right.’ Fane stopped and turned to face Talyc. He put his hands on his shoulders. ‘I want the Jedi Council to agree to have you as my partner, the same way they agreed for Knarf to be Shadie’s partner. It doesn’t matter that you don’t have the Force. There will be times when my missions will be more secret, and I want you to be allowed to come with me. Also, you won’t have to fear me choosing the Order over you anymore. The choice will always be ours. Maybe we’ll have to put one before the other, Mandalore versus the Order, but it will be our decision, our choice.’
‘And Clan Kandera can sometimes manage without me, while the Jedi can sometimes manage without you,’ said Talyc. ‘But Fane, you don’t have to do this just to appease my fears.’
‘I’m not doing it just for that,’ said Fane. ‘This is my commitment to you. This is my way of telling the Jedi Order that I will never choose them over you, that you come first for me now. You have made your commitments, let me make mine.’
Talyc felt himself blush. He looked down and up again. ‘I love you, you know that?’
‘I love you too. Come on,’ Fane pulled Talyc to follow, holding his hand, ‘the Council is waiting for us.’
They took the lift up to the Council Chamber and entered. Talyc saw that Lian had joined via holo.
‘Welcome,’ said Master Herl’unik. The Zabrak smiled at them. ‘We have received Fane’s request and have discussed it amongst ourselves. Your friends speak very highly of you, Talyc Kandera.’
A Miraluka woman addressed Talyc. ‘Before the Council can grant a non-Force-user similar permissions as we would a Force-user, we need to evaluate you. We understand that you will not always put the Order first and we respect your loyalty to your people and your clan. Jedi Fane has explained to us that you would together choose what was best and that you would understand a situation that required you to follow Fane if the Order is to be put first.’
‘That is correct,’ said Talyc. ‘My clan’s second leader, well, Knarf, he and the other Force-users of my clan can protect Mandalore in my stead if necessary. They can do without me at times.’
‘As can the Jedi do without me if my clan requires me,’ added Fane. ‘Since Clan Kandera also has Jedi, we can put both first if needed, regardless of where Talyc and I choose to physically be. I will sometimes put Mandalore first and I want the Order to know that.’
‘We do. In your message you wrote at great length the reasons why,’ said Lian. ‘There is no need to justify yourself to this extent, Fane. We understand. Or at least, I understand.’
‘Yes,’ replied another master, ‘many of you do, though some of us only reluctantly agreed to these formalities because we were outnumbered. We do appreciate your deeds saving the galaxy, Jedi Fane, so this is a courtesy.’ He turned to look at Talyc. The human’s large build was imposing and his gaze was narrowed. ‘Do not take it lightly.’ Talyc swallowed hard.
‘Another matter is the nature of some of the missions,’ said Master Herl’unik, refocusing the conversation on the matter at hand. ‘Some things will require secrecy.’
‘If you need me to prove I can keep a secret or will not divulge any information, I’m willing to do what it takes.’
‘Talyc Kandera, your trust is not in question,’ Master Herl’unik said reassuringly. ‘We do trust you. We merely need to test out your skills and see if you can handle some of the missions we may need Fane to go on.’
The Grand Master smiled fondly. ‘You are a leader to your clan and well respected among your people. You have faced many dangers, have fought many enemies. You single-handedly killed the True Sith Jassahmi.’ Talyc opened his mouth to speak but Master Herl’unik put his hand up to stop him. ‘I know you had help, but we all gain the aid of others at times. Forget not the Force is our ally, so that does not take away from your victory. You still fought her and killed her. You also survived many great ordeals at the hands of Relsor and Perce. Supreme Chancellor Emain is the only other one we know to have survived a mind-probing ordeal. Your deeds are many and they are great.’
‘We have prepared a series of trials for you to undergo. We are confident you will succeed. Once they are passed, you will both need to go through a bit of training to prepare yourselves to the best of your capacities for what may lie ahead for both of you. You fight well with the others of your clan, Talyc, but we wish to help you develop even greater fighting skills when you fight together with Fane. Your trials begin tomorrow morning in the Grand Arena. I will see you both then.’
‘You don’t need to be so formal,’ laughed Lian. ‘Get some rest, you’ll need your mind cleared for the trials.’
Talyc nodded, fighting the urge to reply another “Understood.” He and Fane exited the chamber. Fane beamed at him and placed his chin on his shoulder.
‘Did you really write to them a long message regarding this request?’ asked Talyc.
Fane nodded. He lifted his head and cupped Talyc’s face in his hand. ‘I want the whole galaxy to know that you will be my husband and that nothing will keep us apart. Not the Sith, not the Order, not anything.’
Talyc kissed him, then wrapped his arms around him. ‘Fane, my man! You’re amazing, you know that?’
‘Yeah! I am!’
Fane pranced ahead; Talyc followed, chuckling.
* * *
Brenum, Trylia and Void exited the ship after landing on the planet of Taris. The place looked as much of a swamp and slum as it was described to be. Trylia looked around, hearing strange sounds, raspy gurgling and screeching coming from afar.
‘Are you certain it’s safe?’ she asked.
‘As long as we don’t encounter any rakghouls,’ said Void. ‘This place is the best hiding place there can be for a safe house. It’s barely habitable, many relics still remain hidden below ground, trapped in the rubble of what was once immense and tall cities.’ He turned the other way. ‘Just this way.’ After walking a while, he sighed. ‘Can you believe the gall of Lady Gofaylia!’
‘You’re not still going on about her, are you?’ Brenum glaced Trylia’s way, bemused, as they followed Void down a path towards some rubble and piles of durasteel.
‘Yes, I am! And with good reason too!’ asserted Void. ‘I can hardly believe Shadie is actually willing to consider an alliance with her. I mean, I understand her reasons why, she needs to access Korriban, but I don’t like it. And then Knarf, the way he told us, he was amused!’
‘So I’m right? We’re talking about this again?’ Brenum asked conclusively. Trylia gently slapped his arm.
‘I’m sure Shadie isn’t trying to upset you by taking advantage of the knowledge of your annoyance to better her position,’ said Trylia.
‘Because she will use it to gain favour with Lady Gofaylia if it helps our cause,’ Brenum pressed the point.
‘Yes, I know,’ Void said pointedly as they arrived at a bunker. ‘But I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.’
Void took out a little vibroknife and pricked his finger with it. He put it on the panel at the door and it slid open. He turned to look at them.
‘This place is secured by my blood. This is how Relsor got in, we are related by blood.’
‘How did he know to search here?’ asked Trylia, looking around the place.
‘Hmm, it looks pretty much as I had left it,’ said Void as they entered. ‘Relsor moved a few things around, but everything seems to be here.’ He turned to Trylia. ‘I know that Relsor was very curious about me. This is a detail that Awgro told me about before Relsor knew who I was to him, when Awgro first arrived on Relsor’s ship.’ Void switched a light on. ‘Relsor wanted to know about the Sith apprentices and acolytes and their masters. I suspect Awgro told him more than he said he had, in order to gain favour with the True Sith lord and to gain more information in return. Seeing as Awgro learnt some of Relsor’s techniques, it’s safe to assume he gave him information regarding me and the Sith Empire in return for the training.’
‘And then once Relsor knew the truth about his past and his existence, he began to search everywhere he could to find more answers,’ said Brenum conclusively.
Lord Void took a few steps more and stopped in the middle of the room. He closed his eyes.
‘But that would not have been what led Relsor to this particular safe house,’ he said low. He seemed to be sensing the Force around them. ‘It would have led him to others, but not this one. Only one other person was ever here with me and he would have unwittingly led Relsor here.’ Void opened his eyes. ‘This is where I handed Relsor over to Gourd when he was a baby. If Relsor searched records of where Gourd had gone, it would have led him straight to this place. I don’t know if Gourd kept records of how to unlock the place, but Relsor found out.’
‘So Awgro doesn’t know about this place?’ asked Trylia.
‘Correct. Not this one.’ Void walked to a Holocron and took it. He started placing things in his satchel. ‘I’ll explain what all these things are later, we just need to make sure to take everything and leave before our presence is noticed.’ He walked to a corner and fiddled with an older holomonitor. ‘Let’s find out what Relsor was doing while he was here.’
‘You’ve got security cams?’ Brenum seemed surprised.
‘They activate when someone is here,’ said Void. ‘I always erase them once I leave. They are not connected anywhere, for it would not be safe for me, but it allows me to know who has been here if someone has. Relsor was reckless enough not to realise the cams were here.’ Brenum looked up, looking at the corners of the ceiling. ‘Not there,’ said Void. ‘The cams are well hidden. I also ensured to encrypt the locations of the security footage files, so Relsor could search this computer all he wanted, all he’d find were bogus files.’
Void turned the monitor on. The holoimage showed Relsor searching and rummaging through datapads and files on the computer. There was no sound but Trylia could imagine his frantic breathing. Relsor looked up and his mouth moved, speaking to someone.
‘Someone was here with him,’ said Brenum. ‘Who do you think it was?’
The answer came when a woman, clad in a large overtunic entered. Void froze the image and zoomed in on her face.
‘Tell me if that looks like this Maranna woman Awgro is after.’
‘It does,’ admitted Trylia. ‘We’d have to compare with the image Shadie sent us, but it does look very much like her.’
‘Do you think she was Relsor’s apprentice, or perhaps his new affiliate, like Perce was?’ asked Brenum.
‘I’m not sure.’ Void zoomed out again and the holovid resumed. ‘She’s holding something under her tunic, but she’s not facing the right way for me to see.’
‘Could it be some sort of weapon?’ asked Brenum.
Trylia gasped, seeing the shape of a cloth-wrapped blue head in the woman’s arms. Void paused and took a step back, his breathing shaking.
He shook his head. ‘No, tell me that is not what I think it is.’
‘She’s holding a child,’ said Trylia softly.
Lord Void turned his head to the side. ‘I have a grandchild.’
‘Do you think Awgro knows?’ asked Brenum. ‘Is this why he is hunting her? So he can find and train the child of the True Sith leader whom he can claim trained him?’
‘I don’t know,’ said Void, ‘but they are not safe. I will not let Awgro get to them. I don’t know if the child possesses the Force, but if this Maranna has an absorb defect as they call it, and I was immune to Relsor’s malady, it’s safe to assume the child was unharmed as well.’
‘Void,’ said Trylia gently, searching for words.
‘It’s all right, I’ll be all right.’ He took a deep breath. ‘There is one detail that I know that Awgro does not: a human and a Chiss always produce a Chiss child.’
‘So we’re looking for a human woman with obviously a Chiss child,’ said Brenum. ‘And this woman, Maranna, is likely to be the child’s mother.’
Void nodded. Trylia couldn’t help but stare at the child in the woman’s hands. The woman’s pale skin was lost in the cyan of the holo, but the cyan accentuated the baby’s blue tones.
Void resumed the holovid and Relsor and the woman embraced and kissed, thus confirming indeed that it was Relsor’s child. Relsor kissed the child’s brow before they exited the bunker.
Void reached out with the Force and pulled the holocam out of an airshaft.
‘So that’s where it was,’ said Brenum.
Void took the small computer to carry it out. ‘Help me out here; we’re taking everything with us. We are raiding this place completely. No one can know about her or of the child until we find them both and make sure they are safe!’
“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.