Shadie veered the corner formed by some crates that were stacked high enough to block all view and most sounds coming from the rest of the main area of the cargo hold. Kromus was sitting on some lower crates when Shadie came to him. It was as though they were in an alcove at the end of a small labyrinth, and they were in perfect privacy.
‘Sit,’ Kromus gestured. ‘Let us negotiate.’
‘There is nothing to negotiate!’ replied Shadie. Her expression hardened.
‘There is,’ Kromus insisted, looking up at her. He let her probe him with the Force, let her feel his intent.
‘What is there to negotiate?’ she said after some time, at last sitting down and facing him.
Kromus waited until she was fully seated. ‘Our relationship.’
For a long moment she just stared at him. Her expression seemed incredulous. Then her expression softened, somewhat.
‘All right. I’m listening.’
‘Thank you. Being able to talk to you, Shadie, means a lot to me. I’m sorry. I’ve caused you so much pain. But many make mistakes. I’ll start from the beginning. I, uh,’ he paused.
Kromus knew some of what he would say would upset her. He also knew a lot of what he was about to say, no other soul knew, save perhaps only Gourd. Others were things he’d not dared admit to himself, things he knew if he’d expressed earlier on, perhaps Shadie might not have left, or at least, perhaps she would not hate him so much. He took a breath.
‘I… I wanted an apprentice, I was still so young, a mere adolescent, but I knew a baby would be perfect for my greedy needs. I could raise it, train it, my own little brother or sister, and I would use him or her to grow in power and let…her sacrifice herself for me if it came to that.’
‘I know that already,’ said Shadie. ‘I…appreciate you finally being honest about it.’
Kromus smiled genuinely, lightly. ‘When I found out there was a Force-sensitive child on Mandalore, through spies who were among the Jedi at the time, I seized the opportunity and I planned out the kidnap. I took you; I killed your parents greedily. I had assumed the child was a boy, but it pleased me greatly to have a sister, I don’t know why; I was very happy to have a sister. I planned the future out perfectly. Our future.’
‘You didn’t just plan it out, Kromus,’ said Shadie, crossing her arms, ‘you made it happen. Remember our conversation the first time I killed you?’ That felt like a pang in Kromus’s heart. ”First time:” it implied she intended on killing him again. She was angry, with good cause, but Kromus said nothing, he just listened as she went on. ‘It all still hurts, Kromus. You betrayed me. Lied to me. But me turning to the light side is not a betrayal towards you, as you told me it was last time I killed you. It was me seeking healing. I could only be more powerful if I healed. And I found that healing among the Jedi.’
‘I understand that now,’ admitted Kromus. ‘And yes, I made it all happen as I had planned it, Shadie, up until you discovered the truth of the lies I had fed you for my own dark purposes. But…’ He hesitated. This was the most difficult part to admit, but he knew he had to, despite being a Sith Lord, if there was any hope of Shadie joining him again. For the light she had leant to master, he had to say it, had to be a little light himself. ‘But what I had not planned, was to come to care for the child and love the child as my own sister, as though she were of my own bloodline. And I still love you, Shadie. Perhaps your light can sense that, perhaps your light can help us both understand each other’s hurt that my actions caused. Perhaps you can forgive me for those actions?’
Shadie looked surprised. She uncrossed her arms. Kromus had a tear, he felt it, and he let Shadie see it, let her sense through the Force that he was telling her the truth. He let Shadie feel that he would do anything to have her by his side again, anything at all, and if that made him weak, then so be it. Shadie looked like she was holding back tears.
Kromus reached a hand out to her. She stared at it a long time before she took it.
‘Tell me, Shadie, where it hurts, how I hurt you, so I can understand your pain and anger towards me, so I can perhaps seek forgiveness within myself for losing you.’
Shadie nodded and began to speak.
* * *
Knarf didn’t know how long he’d been fighting Gourd. All he knew was that it had been a long time. He was covered in sweat. Down below, as Sith died, more emerged from elsewhere. Brenum and Trylia fought the Sith successfully with more challenge than expected perhaps, but they were still alive despite it all. The Mandos fought valiantly, another one had been killed, but the rest were still alive. Talyc had taught Knarf some good tricks, which was how he was still alive too. Beskar’gam was good against lightsabers, so long as a blade didn’t hit the same spot repeatedly.
Knarf used all the tricks he knew to prevent that from happening, though thankfully he was only fighting one Sith, but a lord and master to counter-compensate for his predicament. He also made sure to keep Darth Gourd’s blade away from his head. Why had he taken off his helmet again? He just wasn’t used to the thing enough to want to wear it continuously like some of the other Mandos did. He saw Talyc motion his head as he usually did when issuing orders or reminders to his team. The wonderful thing of the Mandalorian helmet was a team had a built in com frequency system, which allowed them to speak to one another, the whole team able to hear one another or just one other clan member, without anyone outside the helmets hearing them. Each helmet held in sound. A Mandalorian could be screaming at the top of his lungs, but if the outside speakers were switched off, no one would hear him scream.
Knarf searched for Shadie. He tired of this fighting and she had been gone from his radar for a good while now, almost as long as he’d been fighting. He began to worry and feel dread. He wondered if that was just fear, or actually the Force giving him a warning of foreboding.
Then, from behind some crates came Kromus and Shadie, walking side by side, both looking relieved and pleased. Darth Gourd paused and took a step back, as did everyone down below. The sudden dread Knarf had felt engulfed him even more. He knew something was wrong. The way Shadie held herself was different; as was the way she walked. He had never ever seen her like this before.
Shadie stood next to Kromus, head low, eyes looking up at everyone else as she looked around. Kromus looked at her and whispered something that made Shadie smile, but not the same kind of smile Knarf was accustomed to seeing on her face. This smile was malicious, dangerous, threatening. Shadie looked at the Sith with a certain expression Knarf had never seen upon her face before, and he just knew, as his heart dropped into his stomach, that this was not his Shadie; this was Darth Shadie.
‘The Mandalorians are to be taken captive,’ she said in a loud authoritarian voice. The Sith looked at Kromus who nodded in confirmation of Shadie’s orders. Gourd, still standing next to but at a distance from Knarf, snorted with satisfied glee. ‘The prisoners are to be brought to cells. The Jedi,’ she looked at Brenum in the eyes and then at Trylia, who stood motionless, staring straight back at her, ‘are to be executed.’
Brenum and Trylia took a few steps towards each other, barely looking at each other; they kept their eyes focused on Shadie, who stared at them a long time. Then she looked up, passed Knarf, as though he didn’t exist, and at Gourd.
‘Darth Gourd,’ Shadie mused, ‘you can have the honours,’ she said, motioning towards Brenum and Trylia.
‘Gladly,’ he smiled maliciously.
‘No!’ cried Knarf. ‘Shadie! What’s happened to you? Is he using the dark side to control you? You can’t do this. Shadie, please!’
She looked at him, her expression hard and dangerous. ‘Leave Knarf where he is, Gourd. I will take care of him myself. He shall watch the destruction.’ She sneered.
‘Shadie! No! My Lady!’
Shadie stared at him a long time. Then, almost through her teeth, her voice carrying far, and filled with such contempt, she replied.
‘I am not your Lady.’
Gourd snickered and jumped down the catwalk, landing lightly with the Force, as the Sith were already filing the Mandalorians out, with Brenum and Trylia at the rear, escorted by many.
Knarf began to shake. His stomach dropped some more. His heart sank ever more. How could this be? His vision blurred as tears formed in his eyes.
‘Shadie, no… My Lady of light, my pure light,’ Knarf sobbed out. He leaned on the railing in a crouched position, crying, Shadie stared at him, clenching her jaw. ‘Shadie! Please! I love you!’
‘Silence!’ she screamed, raising her hand abruptly towards him.
He put a hand to his throat, choking. As he croaked, he tried to speak her name. She then used the Force to push him against the rails behind him and then let go of the grip. He bounced off the rails and fell to his hands and knees, gasping for air, taking in lungfuls, looking down at Shadie as tears ran down his face.
‘As a token of my allegiance, Kromus, I will kill Knarf.’
Knarf heard Gourd laugh and comment as he shoved Brenum and Trylia. The doors shut behind them, and they were gone. It was only Kromus, Shadie and him. The others would soon be dead, like him. But he already felt dead inside. He had rather died than see Shadie turn to the dark side. He found himself wishing that Lahnius had killed him back on Dathomir.
‘The question is,’ Shadie said turning to Kromus, ‘how?’
‘Why not with lightning? You are a master of Force lightning.’
‘Overused. I want his death to be special and meaningful. Perhaps I should work on my skills of dark energy. It will cause him more pain, a longer death.’
‘I thought you were eager to watch the others die.’
Kromus and Shadie discussed Knarf’s fate of death a little while longer. Knarf despaired. He heard a door open nearby. Brenum stood on the catwalk near Knarf. He must have Force leapt up to the platform from all those decks below. Knarf could hear lightsabers afar, briefly, while the door had been open.
‘Knarf,’ whispered Brenum. ‘Come on.’
‘No.’ Knarf shook his head. ‘I can’t.’
‘There’s no time left, Knarf.’
‘No! My Lady, she… I have nothing left now. I might as well just die by her hands. She has killed me already.’
Brenum sighed and bowed his head. ‘Knarf, you kriffing Force-sensitive nerf-herding barve! Reach out to Shadie in the Force. Do it quick though, there isn’t much time left.’
Knarf did as Brenum said. ‘What in the Kark?’
What Knarf felt set him stumbling off-balance in confusion as he tried to stand. Despair turned to hope and then to dread again.
There was a series of explosions somewhere in the ship, loud ones, big ones, that shook the ship.
‘What was that?’ demanded Kromus.
Shadie looked at him. ‘That sounds like the ship is being torn from within,’ she said.
‘I’m sorry, Kromus, I truly am.’ Shadie ignited her blade and took an attack position. ‘I must destroy you. This was the only way to ensure we were alone, to ensure I could ask you all the things I’d not been able to last time, understand you before I killed you a second and final time.’
‘But you already asked me.’ Kromus seemed as confused as Knarf felt.
‘Yes, but I could not fight you while your acolytes could come between us. This duel is for you and me alone. This was the best way to ensure we would be alone and undisturbed.
Knarf looked at Brenum. ‘How?’
‘While you were busy playing hero and fighting red-eye the Sith blue-faced Gourd like a mad bantha, the rest of us came up with a plan. On our way to the cargo hold. If the Sith don’t evacuate they’ll soon be destroyed along with the ship. And so will we if we don’t hurry.
‘But then,’ Knarf shook his head. ‘Shadie means to sacrifice herself. Why like this? No, not like this.’
‘Knarf,’ Brenum took hold of him, ‘listen to me, this is her destiny. She needed to convince Kromus she was with him to get him alone and save us in the process. The destruction of his ship also ensures no other Sith will return and counter-attack. It’s the best way. So she can kill Kromus once and for all. Element of surprise. You know all about those.’
‘No, I’m not leaving her. She might die. My Lady needs me.’
‘Knarf! No. You can’t do anything here.’
Knarf looked down. Shadie looked up briefly and gave Knarf an apologetic glance, with a touch of regret. At first Knarf felt sudden anger; she had hurt him, scared him. But he could not blame her, this was part of her sacrifice and had he had his helmet on like he was supposed to, he would have been privy to the plan and known what she would do to have Kromus believe what she needed him to believe. Knarf sent Shadie all the understanding and tender affection that he could. He sent her, as Brenum had showed him, his love for her through the Force. Shadie had a tear in her eye, he could see. No, this would not be goodbye as her eyes reflected her fear it was. He refused to let that happen. Refused to accept it.
Shadie turned her attention back to Kromus as she heaved, and Knarf knew if she kept looking at him, she would lose concentration and break down into a sob and he would only run to her and take her in his arms. And then what? Kromus would not be dead and they would be vulnerable and her plan would be undone.
‘She needed to look convincing, didn’t she?’ said Knarf. ‘Kromus needed to believe, be vulnerable.’ He looked at Brenum. ‘Where’s Gourd now?’
‘I don’t know, he got away, but we need to get back to the Dragon now.’
‘She cut him off from those who gave him more power and she’s doing the same, cutting herself off from those who give her power. She will die if it means killing him once and for all and saving us,’ said Knarf.
Kromus and Shadie were still walking in a circle, studying each other when Kromus sent dark energy towards Knarf. Brenum caught it with the Force and sent it back towards Kromus. Shadie was already sending lightning and attacking with her blade.
Knarf stood and watched as he let Brenum steer him out of the room and jumped down with him, landing with the Force as a cushion.
‘If I stay, Kromus will use me to turn her or kill her, that is why she needs us gone, so she is not influenced by anything or anyone.’
‘Your knowledge and understanding grows.’
‘Not sure I want it to.’
‘Bes’laar!’ laughed Talyc in relief. ‘Glad you’re safe, Knarf, let alone alive.’
‘Told you not to call me Bes’laar.’
‘Told you it suited you well.’ Talyc gave him his helmet. ‘Next time, leave the helmet on. Then you’d have heard me issuing orders to execute Shadie’s last minute plan. You’d’ve heard the plan in the first place. Come on, you looked devastated up there. It broke Shadie’s heart, you know, to know you’d feel betrayed and hurt, to know you didn’t know the plan. But Knarf, did you really think we’d all let ourselves be escorted out without a fight? Silly barve, it was all planned.’
A piece of the ceiling came crashing down as another explosive rumbled somewhere in the dreadnought.
‘Come, we must hurry,’ said Trylia.
Knarf put his helmet on and ran, following the others, ducking under broken conduits, jumping through fire and dodging exploding areas of the ship, as they hurried through the corridors of the breaking ship to the hangar and the Krayt Dragon.
* * *
Shadie knew Knarf had reached the Krayt Dragon safely when his presence in the Force disappeared; he had re-entered the bubble of the ysalamir, which he had left aboard the ship. She let out a sigh of relief. The dreadnought shook and a piece from somewhere crashed onto the cargo hold floor; stacks of cargo crates fell down.
Kromus staggered back to avoid being hit. He stood staring wide-eyed at Shadie.
‘Shadie,’ said Kromus, uttering for the first time since the beginning of the duel. ‘How could you?’
‘How could you send assassin after assassin, after Knarf? You attack the Jedi, you attack worlds, kill innocent people, and for what? Power!’
‘Power will be needed! Destroy all the ships you want, but you will need great power.’
‘I already possess enough power, I am not greedy as you are!’ Shadie shook her head. ‘Besides, I have the Jedi on my side.’
‘Don’t kid yourself, Shadie, the Jedi are not as pure as they claim to be.’
‘Maybe not all. But I am. Do I deserve to suffer as you’ve made me suffer?’ Kromus didn’t answer. ‘Master Juun Kloh did not deserve to die by Fane’s hands. Knarf did not deserve to be almost killed by Darth Lahnius. You claim you bear love for me, but then why do you seek to kill those for whom I care? You keep hurting me each time. Look at how corrupt the dark side is! You kill and hurt because I left your side. And you think that’s going to make me come back?’
‘If you’re attempting to ”save me”, then forget it, you won’t turn me to the light side.’
‘And you won’t turn me to the dark side. My attempts now are because I do care about you, Kromus, as much as it pains me to admit it to myself. I have to try.’
Shadie walked right up to him in a non-threatening manner and stood inches away, her blade still ignited, but she held it aloft.
‘When I killed you the first time, you asked me to forgive you. You asked me to cast you into my light. Were you not sincere? Reach inside yourself, Kromus.’
‘I was,’ he admitted, his voice low, full of sorrow.
‘Then come into the light with me.’ Shadie held out an inviting hand. Kromus had just to take it and she would show him the light side like he had never seen it before, she would show him how it felt to be on the light side of the Force. ‘Let me show you what it feels like,’ she said, expectation and hope in her tone.
‘I serve the darkness, Shadie. We were once a good team, you and I.’
‘We can still be, in the light.’
Kromus took a breath. ‘No, it cannot be so. My heart is black.’
Outside the transparisteel viewport, the Krayt Dragon came into view before it disappeared into hyperspace. Afar, the battle still raged on, but it was obvious the Republic and Mandalorians were being victorious.
‘Go,’ said Kromus. ‘There are shuttles in the main hangar. Take mine. Go join your friends.’
‘What about you?’
‘I will remain here and die with my ship.’
‘No, Kromus, I’m not leaving you,’ said Shadie, pained. This was the first light side act he’d done, or at least that he’d said. She did not want to lose him before she could save him completely.
Something big fell from above onto the catwalk above them, breaking it in two. One of its halves came down with a loud thud, thus creating a ramp.
‘Go, Shadie, save yourself!’
‘I’m not going anywhere without you!’
Kromus pushed her away with the Force. She landed on the floor. She stood and started towards him again. She was determined, or perhaps too stubborn to give up now.
‘Go now, Shadie, or I will kill you.’
Shadie laughed. ‘You want me to go save myself, but if I try to save you, you’ll kill me?’
‘So am I,’ she said. ‘I will fight you if that’s what it takes to save you, but as a Lady of the light side, a master of pure light, I’m not going until you come with me.’
‘Then we both die here, now.’
“Wielders of Pure Light” is written by Celinka Serre (2019).
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 storylines from the films are used. No storylines 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 FairUse.
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.