As it turned out, Shadie, Brenum, and Trylia didn’t have to wait too long. A few standard days following the Council meeting about Kromus’s resurgence, the Masters had announced to the three Jedi that their contact on Nar Shaddaa had met with a witness, who apparently had a holorecording of Kromus purchasing ship parts.
‘He’s amassing an army,’ said Shadie, as she, Brenum, and Trylia sat in the Krayt Dragon’s cockpit.
‘You think?’ said Brenum.
‘I know so. I know him, he used to be my Master, remember? I know how he thinks. He needs his followers, and he knows he cannot return to the Crypt, so he needs a ship, and not just an old or battered frigate. He needs a destroyer or dreadnaught, something big enough to hold and transport all his Sith.’
‘Do you believe he’s as strong as he was before he died? The first time.’ Trylia frowned. ‘Sorry.’
‘It’s all right,’ Shadie assured her. The subject of Kromus’s death was still a raw and touchy matter, but Shadie had to face her darker side. Then again, she’d been granted a second chance, as Brenum had told her several times already, the opportunity to kill Kromus the right way, with the full power of the light side. ‘No, I think he needs to regain his strength. Otherwise why sneak about or not come kill me as soon as he’d returned. He’s hiding in the Force, but he must be weak in his new body. The Force needs to refill in him.’
‘Speaking of sneaking,’ said Trylia, ‘I noticed Master Juun’s young apprentice, Fane, lurking about yesterday. I asked him if I could help him and he ran off on me. I’m telling you, we have faced Kromus and Lahnius, and because he returned, it’s haunting everyone here. Since we are the ones to go after him again, I don’t know, the younglings especially are afraid for us and of us. I just didn’t think the young Jedi padawans and knights would be as well. We’re not Kromus himself. We’re just going after him.’
‘Gareth was Fane’s friend. Remember? We are a constant reminder of the return of threat and danger of the dark side,’ said Shadie.
‘Well he doesn’t have to run off on me,’ said Trylia offended. ‘I like the young man.’
‘Well, talk about sneaking about,’ said Brenum, in a tone that meant he was slightly changing the subject, ‘what’s with the witness our contact met? Why couldn’t he just send us the recording via Holonet?’
‘He wants something in return,’ said Trylia. ‘Remember? And it’s more secure.’
‘Yeah, but he didn’t say what,’ insisted Brenum.
‘Well, if it were credits he was after, he’d have given a price,’ said Trylia. ‘No, something’s awfully odd with this witness and I can’t put my lekku on it. He specifically asked to meet with Jedi and that he would tell them his price.’
‘I know his kind. Very shady,’ said Brenum. Shadie looked up. ‘Uh, no pun intended.’ Shadie laughed. ‘All I’m saying,’ Brenum continued, after a short pause, ‘is he better not start asking for that holocron in return, ’cause it’s going to get destroyed when Kromus does… for the second time.’
There was a pause.
‘Are you nervous?’ Trylia asked Shadie.
‘Well, no. Well, yes. I mean we’re meeting him at the place we met Vorum and got captured by Lahnius. I mean, why do all the shady folk on Nar Shaddaa choose that canteen to meet with people.’
‘No, I meant about having to kill Kromus a second time.’
‘Oh, well, at least I can do it the right way this time, for the right reason. But no, I’m not scared. I did it once. I’ve had good practice.’
‘Coming out of hyperspace,’ announced Brenum.
* * *
The Krayt Dragon berthed in one of the lower tiers of the smuggler’s moon. When they went down to the cantina, they head straight for the Pazaak tables. The players paused their game and looked up at them. The Jedi had been told by their contact that their witness was a Pazaak player.
‘We’re looking for Cornelius,’ said Brenum.
A burly fellow pointed to a booth of seats in a sombre corner nearby. The three Jedi exchanged glances. The being who sat there was hooded, gloved, masked, and his shoulders dropped so much that he looked hunch-backed. He was studying his datapad very closely.
The three made their way to the table and sat down, and right away regretted it; they experienced an overwhelming disconnection from the Force.
‘Ysalamiri!’ cursed Brenum.
‘You are Jedi Eidahs!’ exclaimed their contact; he said is as a statement. He not only was masked, but also used a vocoder, that much was apparent.
‘Yes. You distrust Jedi that much?’ she asked.
‘Can’t take any chances,’ he replied.
‘Right. Cause we’re going to run off with the datachip and kriffing…’
‘Brenum!’ said Trylia. ‘No reason to get angry. We simply need to assure Cornelius, here, that we can be trusted.’
‘It’s… overwhelming, that’s all,’ said Brenum.
‘Overwhelming…’ repeated Cornelius, staring, or what seemed to Shadie as staring, at her. ‘My apologies.’
‘So?’ said Brenum after some time.
‘Yes,’ said Cornelius, turning his head away from Shadie and in Brenum’s direction. ‘I arrived here through transport to procure myself a ship. That’s when I encountered Kromus. Well, I say encountered. I saw him buying and trading ship parts. I believe he’s having someone build him his own new dreadnaught. Here.’
He passed the datachip. Shadie put it in her datapad. They watched but a portion of the recording, which clearly showed Kromus talking with someone else who was hidden in shadow, who seemed to be speaking about needing more time to complete building the ship.
‘You must have risked a great deal to record this, Cornelius,’ said Trylia, who was at the far right, next to Brenum.
‘I saw an opportunity, that’s all,’ he replied in his raspy, aspirated vocodered voice.
Shadie paused the recording. ‘Thank you, Cornelius. This information is very valuable to the Jedi. You mentioned you had a specific price?’
‘Yes, but for that I require to speak with you in private.’
‘Well, aren’t we in private now?’ said Brenum.
‘Not enough, and with Jedi Eidahs alone,’ said Cornelius.
‘Why?’ demanded Brenum, suspicion in his voice.
‘She will understand when she comes with me.’
It caused distrust within Shadie that she could not probe this man with the Force, let alone see his face. He was worse than the Mandalorians.
‘Shadie,’ whispered Brenum, ‘he could be dangerous.’
‘I’m just going to have to take my chances.’ She looked at Cornelius. ‘Lead the way.’
* * *
Cornelius led her to a motley hotel room. He seemed awkward on his feet, she noticed, yet not limping per se, almost as though getting used to new prosthetics.
‘So why all the secrecy, Cornelius? And why bring me here? What does your price involve?’
‘Actually, had another Jedi met with me… Well, I was hoping they would send you when I contacted the Council, but I did not know that Jedi Eidahs was you, Shadie.’
Shadie narrowed her eyes. ‘Who are you?’
‘You must forgive me why I must hide.’ He took the ysalamir out from under his cloak and set it down. Shadie put a hand on the hilt of her lightsaber as a precaution. ‘But I must protect myself with Kromus’s return. However, I needed to see you again.’
As he stepped out of the ysalamir’s bubble, Shadie was flooded with his presence in the Force and at the same time he took off his mask and vocoder. Shadie gaped at him. All she could do was stare for a long shocking moment. Finally she managed a whisper.
‘Knarf!’ She swallowed hard as her heart thumped. ‘You’re alive.’
‘Yes,’ he replied in his normal, caring, gentle voice. ‘I’m told I have you to thank for that.’
‘But…’ she stopped and held back tears.
‘I, uh,’ started Knarf shyly, ‘when I left Ryloth, your Master had explicitly told me to stear clear of Coruscant, and of you, in fear that it would hurt you. I’d never wanted to hurt you, Shadie.’ He frowned, seemingly a bit confused about that matter. ‘But, I needed to see you. I… I want you in my life. And I doubt you’d have saved mine if you didn’t want me in yours. So, when I heard rumour of Kromus’s return, I followed his trail here to Nar Shaddaa.’
‘So you lured me here?’
Knarf smiled his typical half open smile. ‘Yeah.’ He gazed at her with his deep brown eyes. ‘And had someone else come, I’d have told them to contact you for me. You were my price.’
‘So, I’m worth a datachip?’ teased Shadie, folding her arms.
‘No.’ Knarf walked slowly to her and brushed her hair gently with his hand and then put his hand on her face. ‘You’re worth so much more to me.’
Shadie smiled, yet a tear ran down her cheek.
‘Knarf,’ she whispered.
‘It’s okay,’ he whispered back.
He looked at her closely, with his piercing gaze. Then his lips were on hers. The feel of his energies was elating; she had longed so much to feel them once more. They kissed a long time, arms wrapped around each other, before just standing and holding each other. Shadie realised Knarf was shedding a few tears of his own. Her heart leapt; she was in Knarf’s arms! She was so happy. She looked at him.
‘How did you do it?’ he asked her. ‘Master Juun never explained.’
‘I, uh, did the opposite of Life Drain. I poured my life energy into you.’
‘Wow, Shadie. You’re amazing!’ Shadie felt herself blush. ‘You not only make me feel alive, but you saved my life. You truly are my pure light.’ Shadie frowned slightly, unable to refrain from feeling her own dismay. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘I… I killed Kromus.’
‘That I know. It’s rumoured you killed him at the Crypt, but you never found the holocron, which in turn rumours the cause of his return.’
‘Yes, but, it’s the manner with which I killed him. I… the pain that you might die and the past I’ve had with him, the suffering he caused… I, Knarf… I used the dark side. I felt myself slip.’
‘Oh, Shadie.’ Knarf took her in his arms again. ‘It’s normal to falter. But you’re not a Sith now.’ Shadie cried in his arms for a moment. ‘Shadie, listen to me,’ he took her face in both hands, ‘you are of the light side and if you killed Kromus with the dark side, then you needed to learn something. Do not let yourself grieve over your actions or feel guilt. And certainly don’t think that I’ll think any less of you because of what happened then.’ He smiled. ‘Once again, you have no cause for worry with me.’
‘Thank you,’ Shadie said gingerly, and kissed him again. Then she looked at him and said. ‘Cornelius?’
‘What? I needed to protect myself from being used as bait or anything of the sort. I chose something that was the least sounding to Knarf.’
Knarf smiled a big and broad smile. ‘You can make fun and say Cornelius all you want, but I know, Knarf is the only name you’ll be shouting tonight.’
‘OH! You nerf-herder!’ Shadie’s eyes went big, and she laughed with Knarf, who smiled ever more.
* * *
When they re-emerged from the room and rejoined Brenum and Trylia, Knarf was back in his disguise.
‘And so?’ said Trylia.
‘He’s coming with us,’ said Shadie.
‘Where to?’ asked Brenum.
‘It doesn’t matter. Hurry, you’ll understand soon enough.’
‘All right, all right, keep your hair on, no need to get too hasty.’
Shadie suppressed a laugh as she smiled at Knarf, and then turned back to face front and hurried onto the ship.
Once they were in the Krayt Dragon’s main hold. Brenum and Trylia looked at Shadie expectantly.
‘Does he need to have an ysalamir,’ complained Brenum.
‘Yes, I do,’ replied Knarf. He took off his mask and vocoder. Brenum and Trylia could not have had heir jaws hanging more open than at that moment. Trylia gasped, breathing in.
‘Kriffing stampeding banthas!’ exclaimed Brenum. ‘How..?’
‘But then, why not come to Coruscant?’ asked Trylia.
‘Apparently, Master Juun forbade him to come near me,’ said Shadie.
‘I’m sure Master Juun was only trying to protect you,’ said Trylia. ‘What with you almost turning to the dark side again, he might have thought what happened to Knarf had…’
‘I know,’ interrupted Shadie. She didn’t want to have to think of the pain Knarf’s near death had caused her. She wanted to focus on the newfound joy he brought her today.
‘Still doesn’t tell us the how!’ smiled Brenum.
‘Well, it’s simple, Brenum, you basically find a Holonet channel, and send a holomessage…’
‘I know that, you barve. I meant, how did you come by the holovid, and how did you get from Ryloth to Nar Shaddaa?’
‘Well, I was given credits for transport, after getting my prosthetic. My permanent new leg. I swear I feel part droid. So anyway, I knew there were many places I could find a decent shuttle, easy enough for me to fly, but… I needed to find out what had happened at the Crypt. Master Juun wouldn’t tell me anything. As I was slicing for information, I came upon the rumours of Kromus’s return.’
‘But how? Very few know it’s him,’ said Trylia.
‘The Republic’s Intelligence knows, and it so happens I was being helped to get used to having a new leg from an S.I.S. agent. The information was practically given to me.’
‘Wait a parsec,’ said Brenum; ‘you’re saying you’ve been hunting Kromus’s trail for the past few days?’
‘For the past few weeks,’ corrected Knarf. ‘The Council and S.I.S. have kept it hush-hush for a while. They knew Kromus had returned even before they’d summoned your Master to Coruscant, and he did not leave Ryloth straight away.’
‘So they suspected his return, and waited to be sure before telling me that the man I’d basically just killed had to be killed again?’ said Shadie.
‘Basically,’ confirmed Knarf.
There was a pause.
‘Do you realise how dangerous what you’ve done is?’ said Trylia, in a somewhat high-pitched tone. ‘You did that, just so you’d have a good excuse to find Shadie? Next time fly yourself to Coruscant. If Kromus had discovered you…’
‘Hence the disguise,’ said Knarf. ‘And the ysalamir.’
The three Jedi frowned.
‘How complicated,’ said Brenum, folding his arms and giving Knarf one of his typical suspicious looks.
‘That Intelligence agent,’ said Knarf, ‘he was following me. I’d suspected he’d been planted there for more than rehab; he was making sure I stayed away from Coruscant. The disguise helped shake him off my trail.’
‘That’s why Master Juun couldn’t tell me anything,’ said Shadie. ‘Otherwise he’d be forced to tell me he was having you followed but had lost track of you and did not know where you were. Why would Master Juun do that!’
‘He’s trying to protect you,’ said Trylia.
‘From my dark side,’ said Shadie. ‘Or anything and anyone who could…’ She shook her head. This was all so overwhelming. ‘I need to clear my mind,’ she said after a moment. ‘Set a course for Coruscant.’
She’d barely stepped into her meditation chamber and Knarf was hitting the lock on the controls behind her, setting his ysalamir aside and taking her in his arms.
‘I can clear your mind for you,’ he said to her.
‘Oh, really,’ smiled Shadie. ‘Perhaps you can do more than that.’
‘Yeah?’ He smiled. ‘You want that?’
Knarf smiled, sliding his tongue on his teeth, gazing into Shadie’s eyes. He leaned towards her and pulled back when his lips were almost touching hers, teasing her and smiling ever more. Shadie used the Force to bring him so close, but their lips were not yet touching. Knarf looked at her, suddenly serious, the energies around him filling her with desire. And their lips met while their energies were intertwining once again and Knarf didn’t need the Force to lift Shadie off the ground into his arms.
* * *
The holorecording showed Shadie walking to her ship with her two Jedi friends and one other. It was the same man, in the same disguise, as Kromus has seen on Ord Mantell. He’d seen him at the Czerka Corporation stand. Who else would bring an ysalamir with him? In the recording, Shadie smiled at the man. That smile, coupled with the way the man walked, as though adapting to a new leg, and the energies coming from Shadie that had suddenly filled the Force moments before the recording was taken, indicated to Kromus who this was, and Kromus knew: the lover had lived. But Kromus was still too weak to go after them himself. He needed to regain his full strength first. However…
The door chimed and in walked his newest acolyte.
‘Here are the crystals you asked for, my Master.’
‘Set them down. I am not to be disturbed. Tonight, I shall be at the lowest levels of this moon. When you’ll have news regarding when my ship should be ready, return to me.’
‘As you wish, my Master.’ And he walked out.
Kromus had several new acolytes, apart from his assassins and followers. All were far from being as powerful as Lahnius, except perhaps from Darth Gourd, but Kromus kept him in reserve, like a beast ready to unleash him at the most propitious moment. All others, well, they were strong in the Force, strong enough, and they would help Kromus come to full power again. Many from his Sith army had dispersed after the incident at the Crypt, after his fall. He’d thought Shadie had fallen as well, to the dark side, that was, had hoped she would have been the one to return him through the holocron. He had hoped that together they could start a war, or use her life energy to fuel his as he had with the young Jedi padawan’s. He knew that would not have killed her.
Lahnius had failed to kill Shadie with Force Drain, that was why she would have been ideal. Weakened but alive, she would have been, and he would have brought her back to full strength, and showed her a taste of the dark side that he knew she longed to savour again. A shame was it he’d have to kill her now, really. Because if she would not turn to the dark side, then she would have to die.
Kromus spent most of an hour assembling his new lightsaber with the parts and crystals his acolyte had found for him, using the Force to bring the red blade to life and testing his craft. The young Jedi’s blue blade had been crude and unfit for a Sith Lord of Kromus’s magnitude. A staff of his own, this new blade was, and it would be better against Shadie’s staff blade.
He garbed into his own disguise, a simple robe and beggar’s outfit, and descended into the lower levels of Nar Shaddaa. He probed the room of a tapcaf with the Force and found his quarry. A tall Devaronian. He walked to him at his table.
‘I have work for you, bounty hunter,’ he said.
‘Three thousand credits per man or humanoid.’
‘Fifty thousand is the reward.’
‘State your target.’
Kromus took out his datapad; the image was still paused from before.
‘This man, this is his disguise. He travels with this woman. His name is Knarf.’
‘What’s he look like under the disguise?’
Kromus pulled up a record of Knarf’s file; since he’d done work for the Republic, it was easy to look him up.
‘Who are you? Why do you want this man dead?’ inquired the Devaronian.
‘That is of no importance.’ Kromus waved a subtle hand.
‘That is of no importance,’ repeated the bounty hunter. ‘Consider the man already dead.’
Before the bounty hunter could get up, a dart came flying into his neck. He stiffened and went white, falling dead onto the table.
Kromus cursed for not having sensed it. That was the downfall of coming back to life through means of a holocron; you had to remaster the Force. Luckily, his connection with Shadie was so strong that he could sense her, so there was at least that.
A tall Mandalorian in dark purple and brown armour walked up to the table and stood in front of Kromus, pushing the dead Devaronian aside.
‘What good is a dead bounty hunter? He is no good to you,’ he said. ‘And now I find myself twenty grand richer.’
‘You were hunting another bounty-hunter?’
‘Not a very good one, I’m afraid. No, you want someone who knows how to stay alive. I’m interested in this bounty of yours. Let’s have a look.’ He motioned the datapad.
Kromus couldn’t sense him; Mandalorians were always harder to read. And with a helmet on, he could not read this man’s face either. Mandalorians could kill other bounty hunters, obviously, but Kromus was sure they drew the line at hunting other Mandalorians. Luckily for him, Knarf was no Mandalorian. He showed Knarf’s info to the man, or at least he assumed the Mando was a human male, based on his currently weak senses.
‘I shall track him down, as long as it takes,’ he said. ‘I want ten grand now though.’
‘The woman, I’ve seen her before. She’s a Jedi. I need to upgrade my armour and equipment if I don’t want her killing me before I can kill your man.’
Kromus studied the armoured Mandalorian. His request made sense. He knew any bounty hunter who knew they were going after someone who hung around Jedi, needed proper gear.
‘You have a credichip?’
The Mandalorian nodded, passing the Sith Lord his credichip. Kromus took it and placed it into his datapad. He arranged for the transfer. Then gave the credichip back.
‘What’s your name,’ he asked, probing with all the power he had at the moment.
Kromus sensed no deception. He could actually sense the man at that moment. The Mandalorian stood and activated his stealth field generator. Kromus had sensed his strong determination. He admired such dedication to kill. He knew this man would find Knarf. He couldn’t wait.
“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.