The situation in space was getting worse. The red blips were growing in number as the green ones winked out, and they swarmed the planet, bombarding it. The Senate building remained untouched, though Emain could not guess why, and although communications were still jammed, word had reached him that the Jedi Temple had been taken by the Sith and many Jedi were being held prisoner.
Perce stood looking out the viewport, his hands clasped behind his back, as he stared at the flashes of lights in the Coruscant skies.
‘I believe you have only one option, sir.’
Emain was almost startled. Perce had not said a word in hours. ‘And what is that, Perce?’
Perce turned to face him. ‘Surrender.’
‘Look at the charts: you’re overwhelmed, outnumbered, and outmatched. The Sith have trapped you here. They have trapped the Jedi.’
‘And I recalled them.’
Perce smiled. ‘Surrender now, sir. It is in your best interest.’
‘You do not order me, Perce, I am…’
Suddenly, Emain felt an invisible hand on his throat as he brought up his own, trying to loosen the invisible grip, and he saw Perce’s own hand up, shaped like a claw.
‘I’m not asking, sir. Coruscant is taken by the Sith. You are no longer in command. Although you never really were.’ Perce sneered. ‘You spoke the words I commanded you to. I recalled the Jedi. It trapped Coruscant. The Sith forces outnumber yours. You cannot escape.’ Perce released the grip. ‘I am in charge now.’ He clipped on a belt he had pulled out from his briefcase, and then he reached in again, and pulled out and donned a cloak over his shoulders.
Feeble, yet recovering, Emain took a step towards Perce. The man who Emain had trusted brought up his red lightsaber in such a fast motion; Emain was thrown aback and fell right into his chair.
‘The security codes, I need them,’ said Perce nonchallantly.
‘I will never divulge Coruscant’s secrets to you,’ the Senator declared defiantly.
‘Once again,’ said Perce, this time more menacingly, ‘I’m not asking. Coruscant is mine!’
Perce closed his teeth, yet his mouth remain in a smile. He took Emain with the Force and threw him across the room. Emain’s head banged on the wall.
‘Now, we can do this the simple way, where you tell me what I need to know,’ said Perce, advancing in on him, ‘or we can do this the hard way.’
Perce was choking him again and he was flown back into his chair. Perce then clipped his lightsaber to his belt, clasped his hands behind his back and smiled.
‘Now, the codes, sir…’ He paused briefly, waiting, as Emain stared agape. ‘Now!’
* * *
The situation out in space was getting worse. The Sith were pounding down on Mandalore. The Sphere was approaching Gourd’s flagship; it would soon be time for the Jedi to enter their starfighters and attempt to disable the ship’s battery laser turrets. The Mandalorians had done a pretty decent job, but Shadie had specifically instructed them to withdraw if it meant surviving. The suicide mission was hers and her team’s alone.
Knarf walked up to her and took her hands. ‘My love,’ he said, ‘I want you to remember, no matter what, that I love you so much and nothing will ever change that.’
‘Okay, but why are you telling me this? We’re not going to die, we’re just…’
‘Just listen to me please. It’s important. I love you. You know that, right? Don’t ever doubt it, no matter what happens. Remember my love for you.’
‘I’ll remember, I promise.’
Knarf smiled at her. He kissed her tenderly. Then looked at her with longing in his eyes, and something else Shadie could not quite place. He kissed her so fiercely, and then held her in his arms tightly. Then, without another word, he passed a hand through her hair, took his helmet and turned. When he reached his starfighter, he stole another glance Shadie’s way, then put his helmet on and entered the cockpit.
Shadie realised the others were already in their respective starfighters, so Shadie followed suit and entered hers.
‘On my mark, everyone,’ she said into the starfighter’s com speaker.
She opened her mind to the Sphere. It opened up and let them out.
* * *
It was chaos out there, out in space. There were many explosions, ships and fighters crashing into each other, the laser batteries pounding down causing huge explosions. It had been quiet in the Sphere; every sound had been muffled.
Brenum wished he’d brought earplugs. He changed the settings to the starfighter’s outer sound control to deafen some of the explosions that resounded all around him. He veered low and flew under one of the freighters. He could not keep track of which ships were whose; the Mandalorians had ships that had once belonged to the Empire or the Republic, and had refurbished them with new weapons systems and new shields.
Brenum saw Trylia’s fighter following his, Knarf’s flew next to Shadie’s, and Fane was a little behind. Brenum switched on the tactical display and he targeted the Sith fighters. He flew over another ship, dodged another fighter, targeted it, and saw it explode.
Trylia’s fighter spun as she flew passed one of the laser battery turrets.
‘Trylia, are you all right?’ said Brenum urgently.
‘Yes,’ came her voice through the speaker.
‘Everyone, follow me,’ said Shadie.
Brenum brought his fighter in line as they all flew up and around one of the frigates trying to block them from gaining quick access to Gourd’s flagship. They went around it to the front, towards the bridge viewport, then Shadie turned abruptly and flew upwards. Brenum followed suit, as did everyone else. Sith starfighters followed them. They flew around the frigate again, going over the frigate and around its underbelly and up on the bridge side.
‘One more pass,’ instructed Shadie.
Brenum followed, trusting that Shadie knew what she was doing. This time, instead of turning upwards, she veered to the side and came up from the side, facing the fighters and shooting at them. Some of them exploded, others did not. Now the Jedi were following the Sith. Shadie turned her fighter again.
‘Slow down, everyone,’ she chimed in. ‘Wait to get out of here, on my mark.’
When they had reached the frigate’s bridge viewport, they had slowed to almost a standstill. The Sith fighters came their way from the other side, came shooting at them.
Brenum put his fighter’s engine into full gear and got himself out of there. The fighters ended up shooting at the bridge viewport and the frigate’s shields faltered. Brenum sent one of his missiles at the ship and it began exploding. Another Sith fighter crashed right into the frigate’s bridge viewport.
‘That was dizzying,’ he heard Trylia say through the com channel.
‘Now we make to Gourd’s dreadnought?’ asked Fane.
The dreadnought bombarded them with laser fire. Brenum dodged and veered to one side. More fighters were coming after them and the dreadnought had its turrets trained on them. He saw Trylia fly past him, Knarf veered to one side of the flagship, Shadie turned the nose of her fighter downwards and flipped around, shooting at some of the fighters. Brenum veered upwards; the top of the dreadnought had even more turrets. He put his shields up. He tried to get back in line to follow Shadie; their goal was to enter as a team. Fane was still with him. Two group of fighters came after them.
‘I’ll take the port group, Fane.’
‘Fine by me, I’ll take the others.’
Brenum spun and shot at the fighters coming his way. He flew past someone else’s fighter, but he had no time to see who’s it was.
‘Aaah!’ Trylia screamed. ‘I’m okay.’
Suddenly, there was a fighter heading his way, not shooting at him, and he sensed the Sith within meant to ram into him. Where had this fighter come from? There was no time to turn. Brenum shot with all the firepower he had. The Sith fighter exploded in front of him, creating a white flash, and he could feel the heat from inside his fighter; that’s how close the explosion had been.
He sighed in relief. Something hit him from behind. He trained his turret towards the oncoming fighter and shot at it. Trylia’s fighter came in and shot at it too. The enemy fighter exploded.
‘Thank me later,’ she teased. Brenum smiled.
He lost sight of her again. The dreadnought made a strange sound and more turrets appeared, popping out from within its outer hull. Brenum shot at them. They were protecting something, he mused.
‘I found the shield generators,’ he announced.
He began shooting at them. He shot a few missiles and saw another missile coming from another Jedi fighter. The shield generator exploded and there was fire around the area. Missile launchers came out to shoot at the Jedi, but they dodged. With the shields down, the Jedi could now make their way to the hangar and board Gourd’s flagship.
‘Nice work, everyone.’
There was a wrapping of laser fire streaming the space before Brenum’s fighter. He tried to dodge, but was hit multiple times. Alarms began to sound inside his fighter.
‘I’ve been hit,’ he said. ‘Something’s after me.’
There were several larger ships, though they were designed like fighters but much bigger, and they were shooting everywhere, without pause. It was chaotic to dodge all of it.
‘They’re shooting their own fighters!’ exclaimed Fane. ‘They just don’t care.’
‘I’m hit too,’ said Trylia. Brenum could hear that alarms were going off in her fighter as well.
‘We need to reach the hangar,’ said Shadie. ‘We need to do it now, while we’re all still in one… Eek!’ Brenum heard more explosions. ‘They’re blocking our path. I’m getting hit. I can’t dodge all these strange fighters.’
Brenum was hit some more. He flew a bit away from the dreadnought, hoping to get a bit of leeway, his fighter was hit again and spun out of control. He hit the manual controls and steadied his fighter.
‘Shadie, I’m not anywhere near the hangar and I don’t know how long my fighter’s going to last,’ said Brenum.
‘Where are you?’ asked Trylia. ‘I’m nowhere near the hangar either. I can’t get these fighters off my back. The more I dodge, the more I seem to be getting farther and farther away from the dreadnought.’
‘What should we do then?’ asked Brenum, veering and dodging and trying to survive.
The com channel remained silent as Brenum sensed Shadie was thinking things through.
* * *
It was becoming increasingly clear that they weren’t going to board Gourd’s command vessel as a team, and Fane could feel Gourd’s malicious satisfaction. So much for trying to disable the battery lasers; there were too many Sith starfighters in the way, not to mention those big ones wreaking havoc and destroying everything in their wake, Sith ships included. These seemed to be of Chiss design.
Brenum’s fighter was falling to pieces, or at least soon would be; Trylia seemed to be farthest from the group. Fane did not know where Shadie or Knarf’s fighters were. Although he was still close to the ship, they had all been scattered. They had been so close to the dreadnought when they had exited the Sphere. How had this happened? Darth Gourd, that’s how.
Fane attempted another pass, under the struts, around the turrets and over to where the battery lasers lay. It was abundantly clear they had to be destroyed from the inside, although the shields around them kept flickering on and off each time they fired and stopped firing. If Fane could just figure out the pattern and send a missile while the shields were temporarily down, perhaps he could manage to destroy some of them.
He attempted it, testing his theory. He dodged quickly and swerved his fighter aft, sensing the beam of laser fire before it shot out. He shot the missile. His fighter bucked from the proximity, and he felt the heat as the missile exploded with the laser battery’s shot, both exploding together. He passed the super laser batteries again, not even trying to shoot at it this time.
No, they were definitely going to have to disable them from the inside. It only made sense to him that he be the one to go alone. He was, after all, the only one close enough to the dreadnought and close to the hangar by now. He could do it, he could make it. He was a Jedi and had had three masters, though one of them brief and who had been a dark sider. He could redeem himself by doing this.
He heard Shadie discussing possibilities with Brenum and Trylia over the com channel. He waited for an opening, then announced:
‘I’m going in. I’m going to attempt disabling the batteries from the inside.’
‘Fane, no!’ came Shadie’s voice over the speaker, clear and firm. ‘We go in as a team, or we don’t go at all.’
Fane sensed resolve, but it wasn’t coming from Shadie. He reached out and sensed sadness, fear, and determination, all at once, and was shocked by whom it came from.
Suddenly, Knarf’s fighter went spinning out of control, yet Fane could not sense it had been hit during the manoeuvre. No, Fane sensed purpose. Knarf’s fighter head straight for the dreadnought’s main hangar.
‘Knarf! What’s going on?’ came Shadie’s alarmed voice. ‘Knarf, what are you doing?’
Knarf gave no reply. His fighter just lunged forward; Sith fighters were perusing it, the Chiss designed ones as well, and began to come between the others’ and Knarf’s fighters. Fane’s fighter got shot at and he was propelled towards Shadie’s fighter.
‘Blast it, Knarf, get your kriffing hind back here!’ cried Brenum’s voice into the com speaker.
Knarf still gave no reply.
‘This is no time for heroics, Knarf. I need you!’
That hit home. Fane sensed a pang coming from Knarf as he continued to hold on to his presence in the Force. Knarf continued on his trajectory. Fane felt sorrow, he was sorry, but… No. What Fane sensed next frightened him so much, he let go of the connection. He calmed himself and sent reassurance towards Shadie as best he could through the Force. She would need her friends now, more than ever before.
* * *
‘I grow tired of this, Supreme Chancellor!’
Perce slammed a fist on the desk. He needed those access codes, and the Supreme Chancellor was far from cooperating. He could use some Force techniques on him, an old Sith teaching used to extract one’s thoughts, but it was a dangerous method; the man could die. He needed him alive, for various reasons. And then again, he could always give it a try.
‘All right, you leave me no choice?’
The Supreme Chancellor looked up at him, fear in his eyes. Perce stood tall, looming over him. Then he placed a hand on the old man’s head and began extracting his thoughts. It didn’t take long before he had them, the access codes.
He let go and the man gasped for air, falling to the ground. He was surprisingly still conscious. He struggled to his hands and knees.
‘Thank you,’ said Perce. ‘Your cooperation is much appreciated and will not go unnoticed.’ His com chimed. ‘Yes?’
‘Darth Perce, the Temple has been taken. Our forces were overwhelming, the Jedi only fell into our trap.’ A smile curled up on Perce’s lips. His comrade went on. ‘They have been captured at the Temple, which is now under our heavy guard.’
‘Excellent. I’ll proceed to the next phase now, shall I?’
‘I… I thought,’ Emain struggled to speak, ‘…Temple…already…taken…’
‘A mere ruse to get you to give me the access codes,’ replied Perce. ‘But now I have the codes, and the Temple has been taken, for real.’
Perce walked over to the comboard, stepping over the Supreme Chancellor, who was still on his hands and knees. He flicked to the Holonet broadcast for Coruscant.
‘Citizens of Coruscant, my name is Perce. I shall be your new appointed leader here. I can assure you that the planet and your space are now secure. The threat has been immobilised. We discovered it came from within the Jedi; they were corrupt. The Jedi who posed a threat to your lives are now contained.
‘We may be Sith, but that does not mean we wish you any harm. You have been fed lies in the past. We will deal with that later. You may continue to go about your every day lives, this changes nothing. Our presence on Coruscant changes nothing. We are here to extract the corruption within the Jedi and restore a healthy and safe regimen that will assure all citizens of the Republic can live safe and happy lives.
‘We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused, for infiltrating, for the lure, and for attacking your planet. I realise your safety must come first. We are willing to answer your demands and any of your questions at any time. Rest assured, we will find out who is behind this hideous lie. We look forward to uniting our people and protect you as one.
‘The Sith Regimen is there to ensure you can live your lives freely as you want it. Not as the Jedi would have it, following a code that restricts you or causes you to encounter battles every time you turn a corner.
‘Everything you know about the Sith is false and I will do my utmost best to seed out this corruption that caused us to fall into a trap and attack an innocent planet.
‘What you have heard about Darth Gourd is true, he is a madman, well, mad Chiss, and we are not in league with him, and we will fight him for you, because the Jedi refuse to defend you against such a threat. I assure you, the threat is real, unlike you’ve been told by the Jedi. I was here, in this very room, when the Grand Master announced he would not keep the Jedi here to defend Coruscant against Darth Gourd.
‘But please, rest your wary minds, for I, Perce, am here, and the Sith Regimen will ensure your utmost safety. I will be available for questions in the morning. Thank you all, and good night.’ Perce clicked off smiling.
‘Those are all lies,’ said the Supreme Chancellor.
‘Yes, they are,’ replied Perce, ‘but the average citizen is so insignificant, they will believe me.’ He took his holocom. ‘Master!’
‘A bit busy here, Perce.’ It sounded like Gourd was walking quickly.
‘My apologies, but Coruscant has been taken, the Temple is taken, the Jedi neutralised, and the Sith Regimen implemented.’
‘Excellent. That is good news. And how will you get them to attack Mandalore?’
‘Easy: Once my plan is in place, Mandalore will attack Coruscant, because Shadie will want to save her fellow Jedi. Jedi and Mandalorians attacking us, attacking them, it will goad them into war. I’ve already jammed the Holonet. Only what the Sith want will be broadcast. Just make sure that expert slicer, Shadie’s lover, doesn’t slice into the system and undo my work. I hear he’s the best, after me of course, and no one can slice the Holonet broadcast with the jamming I’ve put in, except for me.’
‘Don’t worry about Knarf, Perce. He just crashed into my ship. I’m on my way down to him now. I have a feeling he will make a valuable example to the people of the Republic.’
‘My apologies, Master, but you are mistaken,’ said Perce.
‘He will make a valuable example to the people of the Sith Regimen.’
Perce heard Gourd laugh heartily. ‘I must go, Perce. Keep me informed of new developments.’
Perce signed off. He looked out the viewport and smiled. Coruscant was his.
“Masters of the Force” 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.