Standing aboard the bridge of the Republic flagship, the dreadnought called Force of Peace, Knarf took it all in. They had found, well the Jedi had found, Kromus’s army waiting for them in the Mid Rim near Iridonia. Apparently the Sith had used some sort of Force-meld to announce their presence there. It also explained why several of the Sith were Zabrak.
The ship’s Captain, a Quarren from the world of Mon Calamari, cohabiting the world with the Mon Calamari themselves, stood near the large viewport, watching the battle wage beyond the transparisteel viewport: starfighters swirling and dancing about, quad lasers, cannon batteries and proton batteries, all going off out in space around the frigates, freighters, battle cruisers, and dreadnoughts. Many beings of many species at different posts on the Force of Peacewere targeting and manoeuvering.
Shadie stood in the centre of the bridge, in a meditative stance, hands clasped behind her, eyes closed, and beautiful as ever. Brenum and Trylia stood by her side, each to one side, in the same stance. They were in a Jedi battle meld, using Battle Meditation to help coordinate the fight outside. The Jedi Master who was named Salah stood with Talyc and a few other Mandalorians whom he had brought with him to be part of Shadie’s boarding team.
Knarf smiled. Talyc had said to him: ”I formed you into a half-decent Mando, I’m not letting you out of my sight to worry if you’ll die.” He smiled again and looked down at the helmet in his hands, the vibroblade and repeater rifle that were secured on his utility belt. Who had known a simple slicer would become a warrior. So many unpredictable events causing his life to go to shambles, sending him tumbling away from the path he had set himself on. And he was glad of it, glad it had happened. He wouldn’t change any of it. He looked at his leg in its armour. Well perhaps he’d change getting the bottom half of his left leg sliced off by a Sith lightsaber. Although, the prosthetic was better than a droid’s limb, it had prosthetic skin, he could feel with it, function with it as though it were a normal leg, and it took very little maintenance to keep it functional. However, the pain when Lahnius had sliced it off had been excruciating. Thinking about it too much brought the pain back, and that, he could dispense with.
The com chimed. The voice of the Mandalore came through.
‘We’re ready to jump in on your mark,’ he said.
‘Hold position for now,’ replied the Quarren Captain in his guttural voice, with a somewhat slurred basic. ‘Let us wait and see what surprises the Sith bear first.’
‘He is waiting for me,’ said Shadie, still in her stance. She opened her eyes ‘I sense he will try to draw me in. He hopes I will want to save the Jedi and the Republic from further death.’
‘Then that is good news,’ replied the Quarren in anticipation. ‘More ships approach.’
No sooner had the Captain spoken the words than many more ships appeared coming from hyperspace: battle cruisers, dreadnaughts, and destroyers. Knarf gaped at the amount of starfighters that bled from each of the larger ships.
‘Mandalore,’ said the Quarren. ‘The playground, I mean the battlefield, is yours.’
Knarf thought he actually heard the Mandalore laughing. Then he realised that he was.
‘Hehehe, I like you, Quarren. If ever you should tire of the Republic, you’ll know where to go. Now, it’s time to teach these Sith scum who’s boss of this galaxy. Mandalore out.’
Brenum whistled. ‘Arrogant man, isn’t he?’
‘Like you’re one to talk,’ replied Trylia.
Knarf took his gloves off and stood behind Shadie. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her on the shoulder, permeating comfort to quell her fears. He did not care who the onlookers were, this was war, anything could happen; it was no time to worry about professionalism. Besides, he was a slicer and a warrior, not a politician or an official of the Republic.
‘I believe in you, my Lady,’ he said.
Shadie turned to face him, smiling. She gave him a quick kiss without a word. Then nodded at the others who filed up behind her. Knarf stayed by her side as they began to walk to the turbolift at the back of the bridge.
‘Shadie,’ called out Master Salah. Shadie stopped and looked at her. ‘Remember all that Master Juun Kloh taught you.’
Shadie nodded but did not continue. ‘Mandalore arrives,’ she said instead.
Just then, dozens of ships appeared, sleek in design. There were so many and they were so large. No wonder the Mandalorian blockade was a force to be reckoned with.
‘Aha!’ cried the Quarren Captain in triumph. ‘The Sith are now sandwiched.’ His head tentacles swayed with satisfaction.
Indeed it was true. The Sith ships were surrounding the Republic forces, with the Mandalorians on the exterior of the battlefield. The Sith had nowhere to go.
Shadie smiled. ‘This time, we will win.’
Everyone followed Shadie down to the main hangar and into the Krayt Dragon. Brenum and Trylia went to the cockpit. The Mandalorians installed themselves in the main hold. Shadie took Knarf by the hand and sat down. He took her hand in both hands and kissed it. On the edge of such a massive battle, what could he say? She smiled at him. He put a hand on her face, replacing her hair.
‘My beautiful, my gorgeous Lady of the Force. My pure light.’
He kissed her. They would soon be in battle with the Sith aboard Kromus’s dreadnought, perhaps die. So he kept kissing her as long as he possibly could, hungrily and passionately, feeling their amazing energies that fuelled him with life and desire. Even though they’d just shared an intimate moment on the way to Iridonia, he wanted more of Shadie, more of the energies, more of her love, and he could feel she wanted more of him. Finally, he realised they were far from alone. He blushed, pausing his kissing, and looked at the others.
‘Oh, you can keep going,’ said Talyc. Shadie gave him a look. ‘Or not.’
Knarf burst out laughing. And as the Dragon descended into the hangar of Kromus’s large and ”real” flagship, Knarf put his gloves on, looked one more time at Shadie and put his helmet on. Their battle had just begun. He secured his weapons and stood.
‘We ready?’ he asked.
‘Question is, are you?’ said Talyc.
‘Well, as long as I walk out of this fight with both legs intact, I’m good.’
‘You mean as long as you walk out,’ said Brenum, coming from the cockpit. ‘As I recall, you were carried out last time by the Force,’ he continued pointing at Trylia.
‘Such minor details,’ replied Knarf in mock dismissiveness.
‘Easy for you to say, you were unconscious through most of it. Whereas I…’
‘You are going to shut your mouth,’ said Trylia.
Shadie smiled. ‘I don’t know what traps await us but we must be careful. We must be vigilant. There will be many Sith and we need to find the Holocron as well. Kromus may have it near him to help fuel his life force. If not, we need to find out where he’s hidden it in order to avoid him coming back to life a second time.’ She paused. ‘May the Force be with us.’