Chapter Three

04 Header Chapter Three

The Krayt Dragon remained berthed in the Jedi Temple hangar. The Council had rewarded ”Cornelius” generously. However, after many days, he still hung about. His stride was of upbeat fashion, having gotten used to his new leg, and when he was not Cornelius and could simply be himself; he hummed or sang or whistled, which Shadie absolutely adored, or so she had said, though her mood seemed to darken with worry with each passing day. Knarf could only guess that it had to do with Kromus. Perhaps his power was growing, or simply she was scared to face him again.
           It troubled Knarf how easily Shadie had fallen, no,
almost fallen, to the dark side. It made him doubt his choice and wonder if she would be better off on her own for now.  Sometimes he wondered if he truly wanted to be there when the Sith attacked, to fall prey to another trap, perhaps be killed for real this time.
           Knarf cursed himself for having such thoughts.  Shadie was his Lady, his Lady of Light. She brought him happiness, and the energies they shared, never had he known that before, and he doubted he would ever know it again, if ever he left her.
           Knarf sighed as he sat in Shadie’s quarters, in the living area, awaiting her return from a meeting. It used to be so simple, or so it had seemed. He’d had his life planned out: work, slice, program, have fun, perhaps have a few women on the side, no attachments, no commitments, no obligations, just pure freedom. Yet he could not deny the emotions he felt towards Shadie, and he feared for both their lives.
She had come into his life unexpectedly; he needed to find his balance, choose between his old path and a new one with Shadie. He did not want to lose Shadie, he knew that much, he did not want to leave her side. So what was he supposed to do now?  Flee? And protect himself, revert back to complete freedom, and deny himself the one person for whom he cared most, who he knew cared for him even more than she led on, the person who brought him so much happiness? Or remain with Shadie and risk everything, including life? Then again, he’d done it before, he could do it again.
           There was a sound coming from the far corner of the room and the ventilation access hatch near the floor was pushed open from within the shaft. A figure emerged, and when Knarf finally recognised him, he drew a breath.
           ‘Talyc!’ Knarf was shocked.
           ‘Good to see you too,’ replied the Mando in purple and brown armour.
           ‘What?’ Knarf shook his head in confusion. He could’ve sworn he’d guessed Talyc’s mood.
           ‘You must leave here and come with me,’ said Talyc.
           Typical Mandalorian, straight to the point, no introductions.
           ‘And why would I do that?’ Knarf scowled.
           ‘Because you’re a dead man if you don’t.’
           Knarf leaned forwards confrontationally.  ‘Is that a threat?’
           Knarf crossed him arms.  He’d always trusted Talyc and had considered him a friend.  Talyc had been the one to let him in on the Holonet news when Shadie had been in trouble. He could not understand why Talyc would suddenly turn on him.
           ‘Knarf, you barve!  You’ve got a bounty on your head.’
           ‘A bounty, me?  Placed by whom?’
           ‘How would you know?’ he asked suspiciously.
           ‘Because I’m the one who took it.’
           Knarf backed away and pulled out his blaster; it wasn’t much against a Mandalorian, but it was better than nothing. Mandalorians always fulfilled their bounties. Knarf began to shake.  He had rather he died in Shadie’s arms after Lahnius had drained him of life and cut off his leg than alone and betrayed by a friend.
           Yet, Talyc just looked at him.  He shook his head. ‘I’m not here to kill you.’
           ‘But you just said…’
           ‘I took it to protect you.’  There seemed to be desperation or urgency to his voice, Knarf could not decide, perhaps it was both.
           ‘Oh.’ Knarf holstered his blaster.
           ‘I had a bounty on Nar Shaddaa, and when I overheard someone placing a bounty on you, I killed the Devaronian taking it, pretended he had been my bounty.’
           ‘Clever, so you never really lied.’
           ‘No, and I could tell. He did that Force mind trick hand thing. It was Kromus, all right.  He wants you dead.’ He paused. ‘I’m putting my life at risk for you here, Knarf.’
           ‘I still don’t see why I need to come with you.’
           Talyc pulled a large bag out of the shaft and placed it on the floor.
           ‘Mando’ade armour, finest beskar, stealth field generator included, jet pack included, a slot for your ysalamir.  I bring Kromus your Cornelius outfit as proof, and you become a member of my clan, Bes’laar. Kelbourn has already agreed.’
           ‘Wow, you really thought of everything,’ said Knarf.  He creased his brow. ‘Bes’laar. Not sure I like it.’
           ‘You’ve got no choice, it fits you. It means music in Mando’a. You, who’s always singing.’
           Knarf’s heart sank.  Talyc had not thought of everything.
           ‘What about Shadie?’ asked Knarf.
           ‘Yes, what about me?’
           Knarf was startled and turned. Shadie stood at the ready, lightsaber in hand, her eyes glaring at their ”intruder”, a very unhappy look upon her face. She approached them. She glanced at Knarf. He did not know when she’d entered or how much she’d heard, but he knew the look on her face was one of hurt and sorrow.
           ‘It’s to protect him, Shadie,’ Talyc said to her.  ‘Kromus put a bounty on his head. I took it in order to save him. We change his disguise, he remains safe, but it only works if he comes with me, otherwise Kromus will know I lied, will know he’s still alive. He’ll sense it, or whatever Sith do, and then we’ll both have bounties on our heads.’
           Shadie closed her eyes and opened them again. She looked at Knarf, her expression softened.
           ‘What do you want, Knarf?’
           Now, at the moment of truth, the time where he must decide, the time when logically he should go and save himself and Shadie from further pain, he knew, he knew beyond any doubt, that he wanted his Lady, and that was it.
           ‘I want to be with you, Shadie,’ he said, taking her hand.  ‘I feel like I belong with you.’
           Shadie looked at him, her beautiful face reflecting his own fears, his own sorrow.  She turned to Talyc.
           ‘Is there no other way to protect him otherwise? If he has a stealth field generator, he could remain with me.’
           ‘Not at first. It’s got to look believable,’ said Talyc. ‘Kromus will grow in power and reach a point that exceeds his previous powers. Logically, he sensed Knarf alive, I could tell that much.  Hence the bounty.’
           ‘And if Knarf stays with me, when we…when our energies combine, Kromus will sense it, he will sense my joy, he will sense…’
           Shadie let go of Knarf’s hand and backed away.
           ‘Talyc is right.  You must go.’
           ‘No!’ Knarf was surprised to hear himself shout.  ‘I will not leave you. I need you.’
           ‘I don’t want you to go,’ Shadie said. Knarf could tell she was suppressing tears. ‘But I don’t want you to die.’
           Knarf took it in. ‘I’ll be back, I promise!’ he told her.  ‘You will not face Kromus without me. I will be there to help you stay true to your true self, the pure light within you. I will not stay away from you for long, my Lady.’
           Knarf kissed her, his heart leapt. He kissed her a long time. Talyc cleared his throat and gestured towards the beskar armour.
           ‘Try it on.’
           Knarf donned the armour.  It was mostly blue with some charcoal-grey.  It was a good fit.
           ‘I had it made especially,’ Talyc laughed.  ‘Didn’t lie about the armour upgrade either. I was careful how I spoke to Kromus.’
           ‘You risked a lot, thank you.’
           Knarf looked at Shadie before putting his helmet on, while Talyc took the Cornelius disguise.
           ‘Knarf, I…’ she forced a smile.  ‘May the Force be with you.’
           Knarf kissed her again. He could feel the energies, yet he knew Shadie did not feel them in the Force, due to the ysalamir, but he could tell she could feel some of them all the same by the way she breathed. That’s how strong their bond was. Nothing could separate them truly.  That’s when he realised that what they had was truly special and unique.
           ‘May the Force be with you,’ he repeated to her.
           He turned and put his helmet on. He would have to get used to this HUD system. He chanced one final glace at Shadie, who stood with her lips compressed in a straight line, her gaze intense, and waved to her, though he wished he could do so much more. Then, he followed Talyc into the ventilation shaft.

* * *

           ‘So tell me, why are we going back to Nar Shaddaa?’
           Talyc checked the sensors as his ship came out of hyperspace. ‘Because,’ he turned his head to Knarf, ‘I am going to deliver your remains to Darth Kromus.’
           ‘Kromus! He’s still here, on Nar Shaddaa?’
           ‘Relax, he’s weak and won’t be searching for you. That ysalamir does the rest of the job.’
           ‘And you didn’t think of sharing that bit of info with Shadie?’
           Talyc laughed. ‘You sound more worried about keeping her in the loop than about your own life.’  Knarf gaped at him. Talyc laughed again. ‘You really are infatuated with that woman, aren’t you?’
           ‘I can’t stop thinking about her!’
           ‘Are you in love with her?’ Talyc turned serious as Knarf blushed.
           ‘I’m not exactly sure I know what love is.  I know I care about her a lot and I want her in my life, by my side.’
           Talyc patted him on the shoulder. ‘I suppose that’s good enough,’ he smiled, ‘for now.’ Knarf scowled. Talyc laughed again. ‘Don’t worry, Knarf. I’m a smart guy, I think of everything!’  He pointed and motioned at Knarf’s beskar’gam to emphasize his point. ‘I purposely dropped a datachip for Shadie to find with all the information I currently know,’ he added after a short pause.  ‘She’ll be busy looking it over as we speak.’
           Knarf seemed somewhat relieved.
           ‘Well, I guess the armour isn’t so bad,’ said Knarf.  ‘It sure is more comfortable than the Cornelius disguise. Although, I would have preferred orange.’ Knarf looked over his armour, and around and under its arms.
           ‘Yes, well, if I’d made it in your favourite colour, it wouldn’t be much of a disguise, now, would it?’
           ‘No, I guess not.’
           ‘Cheer up,’ said Talyc.  ‘We’ll soon be out of this system.’
           Talyc put the ship down in the lower docks and then stood from the controls.
           ‘Guard the ship. If I’m not back in one standard hour, assume Kromus detected my lie and fly out of here.’
           Talyc put his helmet on and left Knarf on his own to think about Shadie, he presumed, or whatever else slicers thought about.
           He walked to the alley behind a tapcaf, as per instructed by Kromus.  He found the Sith Lord lurking in the shadows. Talyc held up the Cornelius disguise.
           ‘Excellent!’  There was much eerie satisfaction in his voice.  ‘This is only the beginning of Shadie’s fall. She will either turn Sith or die.’
           ‘I’m sure you will do all in your power to ensure that happens,’ replied Talyc. ‘Where shall I put this?’
           Kromus gestured towards the floor as he took out the credichips. Talyc let the disguise drop, allowing himself to fully feel his contentment, thinking to himself “Good riddance,” knowing full well that Kromus would pick up on that.
           ‘Did he put up much of a fight?’
           ‘Surprise worked in my favour.’  Talyc kept his voice even. ‘He was armed with only his blaster and he was barely quick enough to fire a wild shot as I fired my blastech at him and scorched a hole in his chest. My vibroblade did the rest of the work.’
           Talyc motioned at the large-ish hole in the outfit, having had fired at the disguise earlier while they’d been in hyperspace.
           ‘I left his body there for Shadie to find.’
           Kromus’s smile was a frightening one. Thank heavens for a Mandalorian’s helmet.
           ‘This is most welcoming news,’ sneered Kromus, as he passed Talyc the credichips.
           Talyc bowed his head, turned and walked away, like for any other bounty. He could still hear Kromus’s laugh of jubilation when he turned the corner.
           When he got to the ship, Knarf had his helmet on and was turning his head about.
           ‘You’ll get used to it,’ he told him.
           ‘I hope so. I’m not used seeing practically 360 degrees while just looking in front.’
           ‘You can turn it off, you know.’ Talyc chuckled. ‘He-he, I shall transform you yet.’
           Knarf took the helmet off. ‘Transform me?  Into what?’
           ‘A Mandalorian, of course! What did you think? When I’m done with you, not only will you be at ease with your new leg, able to use a blastech, or assault canon, and wield a vibroblade, but you’ll also be skilled at melee, ranged, and adept at flying a fighter. That way, if ever Kromus finds out the truth, you’ll have a fighting chance.’
           ‘Thanks. Not sure if I should be relieved and grateful or just plain worried.’
           Talyc stifled a laugh, which came out like a gargle.  He set the ship into pre-flight. Knarf made a face that bordered disdain and fear.
           ‘Hah, don’t look so worried.’ He leaned towards Knarf and lowered his voice. ‘Think of all the new and impressive skills you’ll be able to show off to your lover Jedi woman. To your Lady!’
           Knarf’s face lit up like a beam. He looked at the helmet smiling and obviously he was reminiscing a specific moment. Talyc had grown fond of the barve. He just hoped everything worked out in the end.

* * *

           As Shadie closed her eyes to sleep, she reminisced her most recent and fondest memory of Knarf: standing in the kitchen, dancing a simple slow dance, moving in time, in slow circles, one arm around his neck, one of his around her waist, the other holding her hand at his heart.  His smiling face was looking at her whenever he wasn’t kissing her, or when their foreheads weren’t touching. Sometimes, he would get that semi-serious look on his face, which Shadie could only hope was a reflection of the emotions she felt and dared not to express.
           She would hold that memory dear until next she’d see him. In the past days, he had shown her his more sensitive side. She did not know that listening to a certain piece of music would move him close to tears and choke him up. She had known at that very moment, beyond any doubt, exactly how she felt about him, and the moments they shared together after that had only confirmed those emotions.

           Shadie sighed, longing to be in Knarf’s arms yet again, and hoped that would be soon.
           Very suddenly, she felt the familiar prickling of her danger sense. She stood up in her nightgown, reached out in the Force for her lightsaber, ignited it and spun around to block an aqua-blue blade. The face behind the blade was that of a familiar young man.
           His eyes burned with hatred. ‘Shadie,’ he replied in a whisper.
           ‘It’s Jedi Eidahs now.’
           Fane lifted his blade, advancing on her, slashing wide, left to right and swinging to her side with more strength than she had anticipated. She blocked barely in time and held her blade in place, pushing against his. Somehow the look on his face reminded her of when she and Lahnius had struggled to push the large stone towards each other.
           ‘You’ll always be Shadie to me!’
           Trylia had mentioned the young man had been following them and acting strangely. But this went beyond strange to her; he was a Jedi.
           ‘I don’t understand. What’s the meaning of this?’
           Fane laughed a merciless laugh. He had grown tall over the years. She remembered him as a boy, training with Master Juun Kloh. He was a growing man now, merely her younger by several years, perhaps ten at most. Like Gareth, who had died retrieving the holocron, Fane had recently graduated from Jedi Padawan to Jedi Knight.
           ‘Fane! What’s gotten into you? You are a Jedi Knight. I do not wish to fight you.’  Shadie batted his blade away and took a step back. ‘Remember what our Master has taught us. What he has taught you!’
           ‘Oh, no, Shadie, he’s just as much at fault as you are, except he did not strike the killing blow.’
           Fane came at Shadie again, striking high. Shadie blocked and took a defensive pose, sending a small surge of lightning towards Fane to make him back away.
           ‘Ah!’ Fane paused and glared at her.  ‘He thought he could keep the truth from me. But he failed. The Holonet does not lie and I have been keeping my true emotions hidden for some time, but no more. Hatred has seeped into me and you will pay for what you’ve done.’
           ‘What are you talking about?’
           ‘You killed my brother!’  Fane said through his teeth.
           ‘Your brother?  I’ve only killed Sith…  Wait.’
           The sudden realisation befell Shadie and hit her like an asteroid slamming into a starfighter at hyperspeed.  Fane sneered and nodded.
           ‘Despite who and what he was, I loved my brother.’
           ‘Your brother was evil, Fane.’
           ‘He didn’t deserve to die though! But you wouldn’t understand that, no, you killed your own brother too,’ sneered Fane,  ‘and it doesn’t matter that he wasn’t your blood brother or that he’s returned,’ he added quickly and harshly,
           ‘He was going to kill me,’
           Fane worked his jaw. His unkept hair spiked naturally and it resembled his brother’s very much, now that Shadie thought of it. She did not know why she had not realised sooner or made the connection sooner of why his brother had looked somewhat familiar to her at the time she first met him, on the landing ramp of the Krayt Dragon on Dxun.
           ‘My brother should have killed you,’ said Fane as they fought. Left, right, left right, low, high, low, and low.
           ‘You don’t mean that, Fane. Listen to what you’re saying.’
           ‘My brother was obviously not powerful enough. But I will be. I will become more powerful than he was.’
           Shadie shook her head, though she knew already that Fane had some time ago turned to the dark side, that much was obvious. She could not save him, not now, not today.
           ‘No,’ she whispered.
           ‘I, Fane, will be more powerful than any other Sith, more powerful than Darth Lahnius, and I will finish what he started.’
           Fane leapt at Shadie. She retreated a step, blocking.  He came at her with such force, lashing out such quick blows. Shadie used the Force to anticipate them all. She sent more lightning his way.  Fane bounced back. He bent low and looked up at Shadie.
           ‘I will be back, Shadie, mark my words.  I will avenge my brother’s death. I will avenge Darth Lahnius.’
           Fane used Force Speed to leap out of Shadie’s quarters and propel himself away, leaving Shadie breathing heavily. To lose a loved one was a great loss, she knew, no matter how evil they could have been, but to lose a fellow Jedi to the dark side for that precise reason was worse.  They shared the same Master and she knew that Master Juun would be devastated.

* * *

           ‘The Temple has been put on high alert,’ said Brenum, ‘so have the spaceports.’
           ‘Good,’ replied Shadie.  ‘He can’t have gotten far.’
           ‘And you’re sure it was Fane?’
           ‘Brenum, I know who I saw.  He told me I had killed his brother.  His brother was Darth Lahnius.’
           ‘If my brother were a Sith,’ started Brenum.
           ‘If you had a brother to begin with,’ corrected Shadie.
           ‘My point is, his defeat would not turn me to the dark side.’
           ‘No, Brenum, it would not,’ replied Shadie. She smiled and put a hand on his arm.  ‘Because you are you.’
           Trylia turned the corner at that moment. ‘I’ve sent word to Master Juun.’  She looked at both of them. ‘I… I couldn’t tell him. I just couldn’t say it.  I said that a Jedi had gone Sith and that we believe he’s gone to seek out Kromus.’
           ‘Kromus will not linger for much longer on Nar Shaddaa,’ said Shadie.  ‘But to go there now would be to fall prey to him. He’s waiting, expecting. Do we go into a trap or wait and battle it out once his strength has regained? Besides, we’d be going after Fane if we went now. Fane knows Kromus’s whereabouts, it’s no secret, and Kromus would use him to destroy or turn us.’
           ‘And you won’t feel you’ve won fairly unless his strength was at normality, Shadie,’ said Trylia.
           ‘I know.’
           Trylia sighed. ‘Well, now I know why he ran away from me before,’ she said, ‘Fane, I mean.  He was hiding his dark secret.’
           Laser shots could be heard outside the Temple.  The three Jedi looked out to see a shuttle rising and disappear out of Coruscant’s atmosphere.

* * *

           Kromus sensed one of his humble apprentices approach long before he had rapped on his door.
           ‘I must go,’ he said into the holospeaker.  ‘I shall await you Darth Gourd.’
           ‘I will arrive as soon as I can, Lord Kromus,’ replied the Sith in his slightly accented basic. Kromus closed the audio call.
           Kromus used the Force to unlock the door; it swished open. The apprentice was accompanied by a young man.
           ‘What is the meaning of this intrusion?’ demanded the Dark Lord.
           ‘My Lord, this man insisted he see you.  He claims he has news of Shadie.’
           Kromus cocked his brow.  The young man had a rather familiar air to him, which seemed very promising.  Surely he couldn’t be…
           ‘Actually, I lied,’ proclaimed the man, who came to stand before him as his acolyte stood a little farther away. ‘I have no news of Shadie. But I had to be granted audience with you somehow.’
           ‘Who are you, bold young man?’  He almost wanted to call him boy, but no boy would march into Kromus’s temporary office and speak as though he ought to be there without invite.
           ‘My name is Fane. Former Jedi Knight. I wish to become a Sith and train with you, my Lord, as my brother did.’
           ‘Oh, your brother?’ Kromus smiled.
           ‘Darth Lahnius.’  Fane let his words sink in, but the impact had already had its effect long before he’d spoken them. The recognition was obvious. ‘Two sides of the Force separated us, but ever since Shadie killed him, it becomes clearer every day that he chose the right path, while I have not.’
           ‘My Lord,’ objected the Sith apprentice, ‘he could be lying still, acting as a spy for the Jedi and the Republic.’
           ‘I swear, I come here of my own accord,’ replied Fane. ‘I wish to become a great and powerful Sith, like my brother before me.’
           Kromus rose from his seat, smiling. ‘Fane, I see much of Lahnius in you. Your eyes, your hair, your attitude, are much the same, while at the same time very different. Much less separated you than you think.’
           ‘My Lord, I do not trust him,’ cried the other.
           ‘No? Then kill him.’
           As Kromus had anticipated, before the acolyte could even reach for his lightsaber, Fane’s blade went flying through the air, igniting bright aqua-blue when it reached the apprentice’s torso, slicing him in two, and returned as quickly to Fane’s outstretched hand. He looked the personification of focus and hatred at that moment. Much as Lahnius had. He looked up at Kromus who was laughing in his throat.
           ‘Good. You have acted as your brother would have, as I have anticipated and hoped you would.  You have passed the test. Fane, you will become a much greater Sith than your brother ever was.’
           ‘Yeah? And if your acolyte had killed me first?’
           ‘One, he did not; two, use that anger to fuel your power. Feel the dark side. It needs an outlet.’
           Fane lifted up his hand sending dark energy towards Kromus who absorbed it. He had been apparently practicing on his own time before coming here, for the energy was powerful. It was also somehow refreshing to see such a young promising man use his anger towards the very man from whom he sought to learn, clearly angered by the test, and Kromus knew this anger could be used to forge him into the perfect apprentice. He watched, satisfied, as the purple energy danced across his own body, still coming from Fane’s strong hands.
           ‘Beautiful, isn’t it?’ said Kromus. Fane looked at him bewildered. ‘I shall apprentice you, Fane.’
           ‘It shall be an honour,’ he powered down his weapon and bowed to Kromus, to his satisfaction.  Yes, a much better apprentice than most of the ones he had right now.
           ‘Rise, my new apprentice.’
           Kromus was very satisfied.

“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.

You might also enjoy other SWTOR fanfics, Dragon Age Fan-Fiction short stories,  Mass Effect Fan-Fiction, or Stardust Destinies the High Fantasy Fiction series.

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