Fane awoke in a sweat and grabbed his holocom. ‘Shadie, come in. Shadie!’
‘Yes, Fane, what’s wrong?’
‘He’s on his way, soon, and he’s going to be early.’
‘Did you get a sense of where he was?’
‘One jump away, but a long one. It was…not real time, but…I say tomorrow, maybe in the afternoon?’
‘Well, try to get some sleep,’ said Shadie. ‘I need you rested tomorrow for the big fight.’
‘I’ll try, thanks. Is… Is Knarf back from his mission with Talyc?’
‘Yes, they got back earlier this evening.’
‘Oh, good.’ Fane let out a sigh of relief. ‘I’ll be able to sleep then, knowing you can too.’
‘What did Shadie tell you about going to sleep and ending the call,’ said Knarf, in a half awake manner. ‘Too much noise.’
Fane laughed. ‘Surely she tells you to go to sleep too,’ he joked. He heard Knarf grunt tiredly. ‘I’ll send word out right away,’ continued Fane. ‘You need your rest too, Master.’
He chimed off. Fane made another call.
‘Fane! To what do I owe this pleasure?’ said Talyc.
‘I have news regarding Darth Gourd,’ said Fane. ‘It’s time.’
* * *
Security personnel were stationed all around the cell that contained Darth Gourd’s nephew, more than previously. He sat cross-legged in a meditative pose and opened his eyes as Shadie, Knarf, Brenum and Trylia approached.
Those eyes were rather unsettling. Although the face was much younger than the old Chiss, Knarf was reminded of Darth Gourd whom Knarf had duelled. Not to mention, he found Chiss eyes unsettling to begin with.
Shadie stared at the Chiss for a long while. ‘Are you not going to gloat about the escape plan we forgot to think of in our calculated strategy?’
‘To gloat would be to reveal I had an escape plan,’ he replied. ‘You were Sith once, Shadie, you know how we work.’
‘I do indeed,’ she replied. ‘That is why you are to die.’ Her tone was flat and blunt and took Knarf by surprise. Brenum and Trylia stared at her. Knarf took a breath. The Chiss man only stared back. ‘If you are dead, you cannot escape.’
If she thought she would get him to talk by making him believe he was about to die, Knarf was certain he didn’t care.
Shadie took off her cloak as Fane approached. Was he part of this strange plan?
‘I have brought your ceremonial weapons, Master,’
‘Thank you, Fane.’ Shadie began to don on strange armaments.
‘I see the passion that you share, the way you two look at each other,’ said the Chiss.
Knarf, puzzled, stared back at the Chiss. He seemed to have some sort of fixation with Knarf.
‘That is because we love each other,’ replied Knarf.
‘She has a great dark side,’ the Chiss taunted. His voice was calm and calculated.
‘We all do. But she also has light. She brings as much light into my life as I do into hers, more light than she realises.’
‘But her darkness is unsettling, is it not? Doesn’t it anger you to have to deal with it time and time again, to repeat yourself when she needs you?’
‘No!’ replied Knarf.
‘I am ready,’ said Shadie, ‘unlock the doors.’
‘She will kill me for the dark side that is within her and one day, she will destroy you as well.’
‘That’s not true, she loves me.’ Knarf balled his hands into fists as anger swelled within him.
‘She is using you… Besides, your passion, your anger, use it to fuel yourself…’
‘Shut up, you Sith vermin,’ said Knarf.
‘I speak truth. That is why it angers you. I speak your fears.’
Knarf was so overcome with anger; he entered the cell and rammed the Chiss into the wall, a hand on his throat. The Sith began to laugh. Knarf felt so angry. Then Shadie was pulling him away and leading him away. Knarf followed mindlessly. He paused to look back at the smirking Chiss. Knarf vowed to himself that he would kill him.
‘Knarf, are you all right?’
Knarf looked at Shadie, blinking a few times. They were in the stairwell of the bunker and she was no longer wearing any strange accessories. Fane was not amongst them. Knarf felt pain in his head and put his hands on his head.
‘What’s wrong?’ asked Shadie, concern in her voice.
Knarf was overwhelmed and suddenly he couldn’t help himself but cry. He took Shadie tightly into his arms.
‘It’s okay, my love. What’s happening?’ She looked at him with genuine worry on her face.
‘You didn’t kill him?’ asked Knarf. ‘Didn’t plan to kill him?’
‘Aach!’ Knarf let himself lean on the wall and fall to the ground.
‘Knarf, what’s happening to you?’ Shadie’s voice reflected alarm.
‘I saw you; you were going to kill him. He was provoking me and he made me so angry, and then you were pulling me away.’
‘No, I was questioning him,’ said Shadie, her tone level.
‘If questioning is what you want to call it,’ said Brenum. ‘He kept gloating about his brilliant escape plan, without actually telling us what it was.’
‘What are you talking about?’ said Trylia. ‘You seem to have overlooked the fact that he was contemplating me, stating that a Chiss had never… mated with my species before. He said that if people around me didn’t get their act together, he would be willing to relieve me of my stress by…’ She blushed. ‘Well, I don’t need to repeat his words. It was flattering, but I rather he not be the one to…’ Brenum blinked at her and shook his head with disbelief.
‘I think I understand what just happened here,’ said Shadie, crouching next to Knarf. ‘He entered our minds.’ She looked up at her friends. ‘We saw either what we wanted, or what we feared. He used our needs, wants, desires, passions, fears, against us.’ She turned her attention back to Knarf. ‘My love, he touched your mind and used your fears. Whatever you lived, it wasn’t real.’ She wiped a tear from his face. It was her turn to comfort him.
‘But the ysalamiri,’ said Knarf. ‘He can’t use the Force in their bubble, no?’
Shadie’s eyes went wide. She dashed to the door. Brenum helped Knarf up and they all followed. The security team and the ysalamiri were all slain.
‘Blast it!’ cried Shadie. ‘The ysalamiri bubble was an illusion too.’
‘He did all that?’ Trylia’s voice was shrill.
‘No, he had help. I’ve heard of this before. It takes a large group of Sith to meditate and enter a trance and create such a great illusion, touch the minds of others, briefly and then the target’s mind does the rest of the job, all the Sith need to do is guide it in one direction and the illusion holds several moments. It is an ancient Sith technique. But he touched our minds and toyed with them.’ She paused and everyone let the words sink in.
‘Someone would have had to destroy the security detail,’ said Trylia, ‘free our captive, and then another group would play with our minds to give their brethren enough time to escape.’
‘How do you know it was him who touched our minds?’ asked Brenum.
‘He knew us well enough, even if only from our first encounter, to do it himself. He must have special abilities,’ said Shadie. ‘But I just know it was him.’
‘But when and where was there another Sith on Mandalore?’ cried Trylia.
Shadie’s com chimed. ‘Shadie!’
‘I’m with Lian; he’s pretty badly wounded. He’s using healing techniques, but he’s going to need medical attention. It seems that Wyatt, one of the Jedi who arrived from the enclave with Ruther and Lian, was a Sith. I think he’s heading your way.’
‘Negative. We got mind-tricked big time. They’ve already escaped. The Chiss captive is gone. And I’m afraid we’ll be needed up in space soon. Darth Gourd has arrived.’
Everyone began to hurry off again. Shadie took Knarf by the shoulders.
‘It’s okay. This part is real. It won’t happen again, this technique is rare and whoever did it, they were many and if it was indeed our escaped captive, he’s gone now, he needed help to do it, and he’ll be completely drained now. The battle is now in space.’
‘I know, I just, felt the dark side, was the dark side. I…’
‘Knarf, you’re shaking.’ She took him in her arms.
‘I love you, Shadie.’
‘I love you, Knarf. And no illusion will ever change that. We are stronger than that.’
‘I’m sorry that I’m a little shaken up,’ he said.
She smiled. ‘It is kind of cute though, to be the one to comfort you for a change.’
‘Hey!’ he laughed, despite himself. He knew what she was doing: shining her light on him. He took her face and kissed her intensely. ‘My Lady of Light,’ he said. ‘You truly are beautiful and amazing.’
‘Hey, postpone your activities till later, there’s a battle up there,’ Brenum called out, running back towards them.
‘Does he do that on purpose?’ said Knarf. ‘It seems…’
‘Never you mind. Come.’
Shadie took his hand and together they went to the hangar where their fighters awaited them.
* * *
Perce entered the Chancellor’s office at a brisk pace.
‘You wanted to consult me about something, sir?’
‘Yes, I’ve just spoken to Grand Master Herl’unik via holocom,’ Emain replied.
‘Regarding what, sir?’
‘Perce, he is the Jedi Grand Master, what else would we talk about than Jedi-Sith topics?’
‘Yes, I know. Apologies, but I fail to see the relevance when we are about to be attacked. Shouldn’t the Jedi be getting ready for the battle?’
‘They believe there will be none. That is why I called you here,’ said Emain.
‘I don’t see how any of this has anything to with me,’ replied Perce, pacing a little.
Either the young man was thick or trying to be clever. Whichever it was, Emain was beginning to be aggravated by it.
‘Because you are one of the tactical organisers. There is a change of plan. The Sith are clearly not here and Grand Master Herl’unik has received news that the Sith have attacked Mandalore.’
‘Yes. We are to redirect our forces there,’ said Emain.
‘Sir, with all due respect, Mandalore is not a Republic planet. Besides, they have plenty of ships with which to defend themselves.’
‘You forget that there are still some Jedi on Mandalore, a team from the enclave,’ said Emain.
‘Their loss for not returning to Coruscant when ordered.’
‘Among them a Jedi Master.’
‘Whose student has been banished from Coruscant.’ Perce’s tone was level, yet there was a glint in his eyes that Emain could not quite place.
‘The Grand Master demands that we help them and as the Sith are not here, I feel compelled to redeploy our forces. Besides, the Republic owes Mandalore, and I intend on upholding our agreement with them.’ Emain was commanding, yet remained diplomatic. ‘Now, will you carry out my orders, Perce?’
‘The Sith threat is a real one.’ Perce straightened. ‘They will be here.’
‘What makes you so sure?’ Emain asked.
As though in reply, the holoprojector that showed space around Coruscant, used as an alert and tactical display, chimed. Suddenly, hundreds of red blips appeared amidst the green ones.
‘Supreme Chancellor Emain,’ a voice came through the com.
‘Yes, Admiral, go ahead.’
‘It seems the Sith have arrived,’ came the Quarren’s voice. ‘Our forces are overwhelmed. There are hundreds of ships. We will do our best to defeat them, but we need reinforcements. I shall comunic…’ And then there was static.
‘Admiral? Admiral! Come in.’ The Supreme Chancellor went to his com board. ‘Grand Master Herl’unik?’
‘It seems our communications are being jammed,’ said Perce.
‘Oh, honestly, I don’t know how you can be so calm!’
‘Well, it’s simple, sir: the Sith want you to panic. By remaining calm, you’re already defeating them.’
‘Hmmm,’ Emain muttered. The man had a point. ‘What now, then?’
Perce clasped his hands behind his back and walked to the holoprojector. ‘We wait and see how the battle unfolds.’
* * *
‘Are you suggesting we sit around and wait?’
‘No, Fane,’ replied Shadie, ‘we just drift to the centre of the battle and await the most opportune moment.’
‘No Krayt Dragon?’
‘No Krayt Dragon.’
‘Don’t tell me you’re nervous to fly your own starfighter,’ said Knarf. Oh, the man did get on Fane’s nerves sometimes.
‘Sure, like you’re an expert at flying one!’ he rebuttaled.
‘I don’t claim to be,’ replied Knarf. ‘But I’ve grown accustomed to flying one.’
‘It’s not the starfighter,’ said Fane.
‘Then what?’ asked Shadie.
‘It’s…it!’ Fane motioned at the sphere.
‘It? The Sphere?’ Shadie looked as surprised as Knarf did amused.
‘It’s Sith, isn’t it? It may sense I was once dark, or it could corrupt me, or…’ Fane trailed off.
‘Are you worried you might slip again, Fane?’ asked Shadie softly.
‘I don’t want to kill another master.’
She smiled sympathetically. ‘Fane, the Sphere serves me, and it hasn’t corrupted me. It sensed my power and darkness once, but I combined both light and dark and created… balance, I suppose.’
‘But…it once served…my brother, Lahnius,’ said Fane.
‘Ah, I understand now. Don’t worry. Come, Brenum and Trylia are already aboard.’
Fane began towards the Sith Meditation Sphere that awaited them in the hangar, their starfighters safely contained within it. The plan was to fly out of the Sphere in the heart of the battle and the Sphere would battle its way back to the surface on its own. They’d lost their captive and leverage, so Darth Gourd would not hesitate to send orbital strikes down on Mandalore with his enhanced battery lasers.
Fane stopped once he had approached the Sphere.
You fear you are not worthy?
Fane looked around. No one had spoken to him. Could it have been…?
The Lady assures me that you are.
Fane concentrated with the Force. My brother used to master you and he was not worthy. I fear I have not earned my right to be guided by you.
Your brother, the unworthy one, served yet another unworthy one. You serve the Lady.
Apparently, I am powerful enough to speak to you through the Force, while my brother could not, Fane thought to the Sphere.
For you have learnt from the Lady. So why do you doubt your worth?
For I have not earned it as the Lady has. I will not command you, but I guess I am worthy enough to be transported within you.
‘Then get in!’
‘Fane, I have a connection to it,’ said Shadie. ‘I heard your conversation with it. It’s okay, I command it anyway.’
‘Oh, right…’ he hesitated, as he joined the others inside. ‘It’s unsettling.’
‘It is the first few times.’ Shadie smiled. ‘You are not your brother, Fane. You are much more powerful and much more worthy than he was. You are an honourable young man and I am proud of you. I am proud to be your master.’
‘Shadie, I…’ He couldn’t bring himself to speak of his woes.
‘Have not yet forgiven yourself for Master Juun Kloh, I know. I’ve forgiven you. The dark side grips us and can be overwhelming sometimes. Fane, you have come such a long way. You saved my life. Why?’
‘Because I could not let you die.’
‘Yes, but I believe it’s also because you are light.’ Shadie put a hand on his face in a motherly way. ‘Have faith in yourself, my apprentice. I certainly have faith in you.’
‘Yes, Master, I’ll do my best.’
‘Attaboy,’ said Knarf, standing nearby.
‘Attaboy?’ Shadie giggled. ‘He’s no boy, my love.’
Fane caught the hidden compliment as Knarf winked in a friendly manner to him, and then winked differently to Shadie, in a more flirtatious manner. Fane smiled. They entered the Sphere proper.
‘Hi, Fane,’ said Trylia. ‘How was Lian when you left him?’
‘The medical droid said he was healing himself well,’ replied Fane, ‘but he required some kolto to help it along and some rest. Josur is with him. His wound could have been worse.’
‘That’s reassuring to know,’ said Trylia. ‘He did choose to stay to help us. I would have hated for something to happen to him because of that decision.’
Fane nodded. Suddenly, he staggered a bit as he had an image: Darth Gourd was here, his nephew was with him.
‘Our former leverage is now completely gone; he’s with Gourd again,’ Fane announced. ‘Their presence is unnervingly gleeful. I hope Mandalore’s planetary defenses hold.’
“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.