Shadie, Knarf, Usharr, and Fane stood with Talyc as he gave instructions to Nriwe for the clan. The barve kept reminding her of things she probably already knew.
‘Don’t worry, I can look out for the clan when you’re not there, you know,’ said Nriwe. ‘I have done it before. Multiple times.’
‘I know.’ Talyc bowed his head. ‘I worry I’ve let the clan down.’
‘You haven’t,’ she replied.
‘I haven’t failed all of you?’ Talyc asked. Nriwe gave him a sardonic look. Knarf put his hand on his friend’s shoulder. Talyc looked at him. ‘I just worry.’
‘So does Shadie,’ said Knarf, smiling. He looked at his wife who nodded in agreement. ‘You’re a good clan leader, Talyc, and a fine Mandalorian.’
Talyc smiled. ‘And you’re a good friend, Bes’laar.’
Nriwe’s comlink chimed and she looked at her datapad. She giggled. ‘Remember to bring a bottle of Tarisian ale for Lian,’ she said.
‘How do you know he wants that?’ asked Fane, giving her a mock-suspicious glance.
‘Oh, he just messaged me.’
‘What?’ exclaimed Shadie, curiosity on her face.
‘Shall I tell him you’re on your way?’
‘Since when do you exchange private messages with Lian?’ asked Knarf, amused.
‘Well, we got chatting and he wants to confide in people who aren’t his closest friends,’ said Nriwe. ‘He doesn’t want you to feel bad for saving his life, but he’s still adjusting to his new life and he just needs a sympathetic ear.’
‘We’re sympathetic!’ said Fane. He looked bemused.
‘I’m sure Lian considers your friendship more important than to complain to you about his woes,’ said Knarf.
Nriwe put her datapad away. ‘I told him you were leaving soon.’
‘Oh, okay,’ said Shadie. ‘You sure there’s nothing more going on between you two?’
Nriwe blushed. ‘I don’t think he wants that right now.’
Talyc pointed her way. ‘Now if there’s one thing I do well is gathering information and I’ll find out for you, because I know you, Nriwe, and I can tell–’
She shook her head. ‘Get going. I’ll be fine. The clan will be fine.’
Talyc began going through a few more details and Knarf had to pull him away. When they reached the docking area, the Krayt Dragon seemed already prepped for takeoff. Brenum was at the controls, waiting patiently, and Trylia waved from behind the cockpit viewport. Once everything was loaded onto the ship, they were off into hyperspace.
* * *
Everyone sat waiting patiently, lost in their own thoughts. Fane sensed something in the Force, like a wave. He looked at the others.
Talyc looked from him to the others as well. ‘You all just had the same face on. You just sensed something in the Force, didn’t you?’ Fane looked at him and nodded. Talyc looked awfully pale. ‘It’s Relsor’s malady,’ he said conclusively.
‘You sure you’re not Force-sensitive?’ said Knarf.
‘Certain of it,’ replied Talyc, ‘but I feel ill and I recognise Relsor’s malady. I’d recognise it anywhere.’
The sensation in the Force pulsed again and then it vanished. Talyc sighed in relief. Fane quickly reached out in the Force towards Lian. Everything seemed fine at the Crypt as far as Lian knew.
‘Well,’ he said, ‘Relsor might be testing his abilities. Lian still hasn’t mastered using the Crypt to spread his healing and Relsor is so powerful, even then, Lian won’t be able to stop all his powers.’
‘How far do you think he can spread his malady to?’ asked Trylia. ‘He must be able to sense his own reach.’
‘Yeah, well, I hope he can’t sense us,’ said Brenum. ‘The last thing we need is him meddling in our affairs before we’re ready to take him on again.’
Trylia’s lips tightened into a line and she looked down. ‘I just wish there was something we could do to help him.’
‘Help him? Help him! He’s trying to kill us and you want to help him?’
‘He can’t be saved, Trylia,’ said Brenum.
‘She has a point in wanting to understand him better, though,’ said Usharr. ‘We would do well to delve deeper into his dark side powers to understand how to better defeat him.’ Usharr looked at Fane. ‘It would greatly increase your chances of success.’
Talyc reached for Fane’s hand and squeezed. ‘I don’t want to think about you having to fight him.’ He sighed and shook his head. ‘What is wrong with me? Everything worries me. I’m scared.’
‘There’s nothing wrong with you, Talyc,’ Shadie said gently. ‘I think Relsor might be trying to affect you in any way he can.’
‘I can’t go through that again!’ Talyc shook his head. ‘If I lose my mind again, just dump me in some carbonite until I’m sane again.’
Knarf chuckled. ‘I doubt that’ll be necessary, but if you insist.’ The two exchanged a series of mocking stares and chuckles.
‘Coming out of hyperspace,’ said Brenum. He turned towards the others. ‘So who’s helping me carry out the water tank. It’s got precious Tython water; very delicate procedure.’
‘Best I don’t taint it with the dark side,’ said Usharr with a teasing smirk.
‘I don’t have the Force,’ said Talyc, putting his hands up.
‘It’s not that big, two of you using the Force will get it through,’ said Tylia.
Brenum looked from Knarf to Fane to Shadie. ‘Any other volunteers?’ he asked sarcastically, chuckling while he settled the ship down on the Crypt.
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