Shadie had an energy of darkness about her that Fane knew to be the fear and loneliness she felt. She had asked him many times if he had sensed anything or seen anything from Gourd. He had told her no. But in truth, he had seen exactly what he had feared, not to mention the torture that had come before. He suspected Shadie knew he was holding out on her, but she didn’t press the matter. He did not want to have to lie to his master again.
Fane gave Brenum and Trylia a meaningful glance as they met up, walking to Mandalore’s bunker. Apparently, there was another urgent matter to discuss.
Mandalore was pacing when they arrived and did not bother to look at them when he began speaking.
‘I’ve had my best slicers try to slice the Holonet, but with such encryptions and complications in place, I need the best slicer I know: Knarf. We are going after him.’
Shadie’s face lit up momentarily and she nodded to Mandalore.
‘But how will we find him?’ asked Trylia.
‘By finding Darth Gourd.’ He said to them, stopping to look at Fane. ‘It is vital that we do.’
‘So what changed your mind?’ It was Brenum who voiced what Fane himself was wondering.
‘We need to reach every system in this galaxy for this very reason.’
Mandalore thumbed a remote and the transparisteel viewport turned into a holovid panel with the image of a tall human young man, too young to be a reporter already, but a reporter he was.
‘The new Sith Regimen will stop the tyranny and oppression the Jedi have used on us and hid from us all these centuries,’ he was explaining. ‘Our new leader, Darth Perce, is here with me to explain how the True Sith are against the Empire and their Sith, and how the Sith Regimen will benefit the Republic and its citizens.’
The young man turned to look at the tall man clad in a dark cape. He was lean, human, perhaps near Shadie’s age. He was dressed to look sharp and prim, only his cape gave away that he was Sith.
‘Thank you for taking time to speak to us,’ the young reporter said to him.
‘Thank you for having me and allowing me to explain the situation before passing judgement on our actions.’
The young man nodded. Darth Perce turned to the holocam.
‘The Jedi,’ he said, ‘were using the Republic as their puppet and as a shield. They had strict rules to follow and painted us, the Sith, as criminals. But in every war, people die and it is not those deaths that are the crime, no. The crime here is the lies the Jedi fed you all. They used their powers with greed and for their own gain. They lured us into attacking Coruscant. They refused to protect the citizens of Coruscant by wanting to send out its Jedi even if there was an imminent threat that Darth Gourd, who is our enemy, might attack the planet. They were in cahoots with some of our enemies, and therefore we were led to believe that Coruscant was planning a coup against us. It is very unfortunate that we had to attack the entire planet, but the Jedi have now been contained, as I mentioned earlier.’
The image jumped to an angled view on an alleyway near a canteen, from where Master Salah had contacted Shadie. The small holoimage of Shadie flickered in her hand.
‘This Jedi is speaking with Darth Shadie,’ explained Perce, ‘who was once a Sith and perhaps still is, and who betrayed us in order to gain more power more quickly. She is extremely dangerous.’
The image then showed Master Salah push the Duros with the Force, but never showed him attacking or training his blaster on her.
‘I was taking a brisk walk and I suppose I was in her way,’ the Duros said. Fane knew this Duros was the same one from the previous clip, even if they all looked the same to him, as he recognised his voice; this Duros was Master Salah’s assailant.
‘Such oppression is not right,’ the cam was close upon Darth Perce’s face now. ‘Such rules that are used to control us but not even respected by the Jedi themselves are not right. People of the Republic, join the Sith Regimen and you will understand freedom, you will understand free will, and you will understand what it is to live in a safe galaxy reigned by happiness and peace, not war.’
Then the holoimage showed the Duros Ambassador shaking hands with Perce and saying:
‘We are happy to finally be part of a legitimate government.’
Mandalore paused the holovid as everyone looked at Shadie as they all sensed the anger swelling within her.
‘Fane?’ Mandalore asked.
‘I’m sorry, I cannot sense where Darth Gourd is.’
‘Then I know someone who will.’ Mandalore looked grave but determined.
‘Who?’ asked Shadie.
‘There is a planet in the Senex-Juvex sector, in the Outer-Rim Territories, that belongs to the Republic; it is a secret planet. I know of it, you do not need to know how, but there is a colony of Sith, captured and isolated by my grandfather when he was Mandalore.’
‘He might not want to see you then,’ said Brenum, ‘because, you know.’
‘Oh, I know that,’ replied Mandalore. ‘But I have an idea. And once we know where Darth Gourd is, we will go after Knarf. The Republic has not seen the vid I have to show them. The devastation caused by the Sith on Mandalore. I will show them. I will find proof that Darth Perce works with Darth Gourd and show them that too. So for that, I need the best slicer I know.’
Shadie sighed. ‘So now you need him, you want to go after him, but you didn’t want to before.’
Mandalore lowered his gaze. ‘I’m sorry, Shadie.’
‘He could be dead!’
‘He’s not!’ said Fane. ‘Trust me. He’s not. That much I do know.’
Brenum and Trylia looked very worried, but Mandalore only smiled.
‘This can be good,’ he said.
‘What can?’ asked Shadie, annoyance in her voice.
‘Your anger, for my plan.’
‘I hope that plan includes me!’
Everyone turned to find Talyc at the ready, holding a blaster rifle.
‘And me.’ A woman clad in red and bronze armour appeared. She had smooth skin but enough lines to show her years, yet she wore them very well.
‘Ah,’ said Mandalore. ‘Meet my wife.’
‘And my team,’ she supplied, as Talyc giggled and at least thirty other Mandalorians appeared, men and women, humans, Trandoshans, Twi’leks, Cathar, Zabrak, Devaronians, a few from other species as well. The familiar faces of the red and green Twi’lek ladies appeared and they waved at the Jedi, smiling.
‘I see you’ve already assembled a multi-clan team,’ said Mandalore.
‘I heard a rumour from Talyc of a certain plan, I had to be part of it.’ Mrs. Mandalore winked at her husband.
‘Let’s not forget,’ said a familiar voice, as the man in deep blue and brown armour stepped forward, coming to stand next to Talyc and Mandalore’s wife, ‘that a just cause will bring clans together.’ Kelbourn looked at Shadie. ‘I remember requesting Knarf’s services and how he worried for your safety when Darth Lahnius captured you. He was barvy, and he went to save you. He is still barvy, therefore it falls to us to make sure that you can save him.’
‘Thank you, Kelbourn,’ said Shadie.
‘It was my idea,’ said Talyc, crossing his arms, smiling as he gave Kelbourn a sideways glance. Then he smiled and looked from Shadie to Kelbourn. ‘Cousins always help cousins.’
Fane was glad he and Shadie knew the Mandalorians. ‘What is this planet, though, and why has it been kept secret?’ he asked.
‘It is a prison planet,’ said Mandalore. ‘We travel to Belsavis.’
‘All right, so when do we leave?’ asked Talyc.
‘We will leave now.’ It was Shadie who gave the order. ‘We have waited long enough.’
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