Warning: The following chapter contains scenes depicting torture and violence, which may be triggering to some readers. Reading discretion is advised.
The Coruscant spaceport was busy; Shadie had a hard time finding Talyc’s Force signature. He had undoubtedly been here, but they would have to retrace their steps back and go from there. There were too many Force signatures and presences in this area to find Talyc’s.
‘I don’t understand,’ said Fane. ‘If someone’s presence can be sensed, how is it we’re not finding Talyc’s.’
‘Because he’s not here,’ said Shadie. ‘Not anymore. If he were here right now, we’d be able to find his Force signature, but if he was weak when he was here, then his presence would have already been faint in the Force, and thus any lingering presence, days later, would be gone.’
‘Then we need to go to the Temple,’ said Fane.
They travelled to the hallways where Shadie had intercepted Master Herl’unik. She found Talyc’s Force signature.
Fane gasped. ‘He was upset. I can feel it. He was alarmed and hurt.’ Fane looked up at Shadie. ‘I hurt him.’
‘I fear someone has hurt him, but not you, Fane.’
They followed the lingering signature of the Force presence through the halls and into the streets of Coruscant, all the way to a turbolift. They took the lift down. It led down many levels, down to one of the lower districts, a slummier area, though it was much higher than Coruscant’s lowest districts. They followed the Force signature that seemed to change from hurt to angry.
They arrived at a tapcaf. The sign read: “Open all day. Open all night.” They noticed some flickering lights as they entered. The place was scarcely furnished and only two patrons sat at opposite ends of the tapcaf. A burley man came to greet them.
‘Do you serve drinks?’ asked Shadie.
‘I do! What’s your poison?’
‘Whatever your special is. One for me and one for my friend here,’ Shadie pointed at Fane who was studying the place, ‘and one for yourself.’
‘Ah, you’re too kind.’ The burley fellow poured them their drinks, as Shadie and Fane sat at the bar. Shadie placed a generous amount of credichips on the counter. ‘To what do I owe this pleasure?’ the man asked.
‘To sharing information,’ said Shadie. She gestured towards her lightsaber. ‘We’re Jedi. We’re looking for someone who might have come here for some drinks the other night. I have it in good faith that he was in here until late.’
‘What’s he look like?’ asked the man from behind the counter.
‘Mandalorian,’ said Fane. ‘Purple and brown armour.’ He showed him a holo image of Talyc.
The man thought for a moment. ‘I heard of a man with this said armour coming in here the other night. Left without paying.’
‘Easily fixed,’ said Shadie, adding more credits to the pile she’d already placed on the counter.
‘Also left with my waitress,’ continued the man.
‘What?’ said Fane, slamming a hand on the counter and standing.
‘Fane!’ Shadie said firmly. He took a breath at her warning and sat back down. ‘Can we speak to this waitress of yours?’
‘No,’ said the man shrugging. ‘I haven’t seen her since the other day. It’s as though she just…’ he shrugged, ‘disappeared.’
Shadie saw Fane blush, as though realising he’d jumped to conclusions and now understood this waitress must have been the one to capture Talyc.
‘She was a new hire too,’ the man said. ‘Must have gotten a better offer somewhere else.’
‘Got a description for this waitress?’ asked Shadie.
‘Tall, Mirialan, dark green, lime hues in all the right areas, very beautiful. She’s got a face tattoo, some lines and some dots, shapes, you know how they are.’
‘Thank you!’ Shadie added a few more credits. She stood and exited the tapcaf.
‘Some lines and some dots?’ said Fane, standing right outside the entrance, glancing around the area. ‘Because that narrows the pool to identifying her among all other Mirialans.’
‘Well, at least now we know what happened,’ said Shadie. ‘Somewhat. We just need to figure out where she took him.’
‘Or who she is,’ said Fane.
‘Fane, I promised you we’d find him. We’ll find him.’ Though Shadie was beginning to be a little unsure herself.
It was clear there had been something in Talyc’s drink for the waitress to be able to overpower him, otherwise he would have fought her off, and there would have been marks in the tapcaf or around the area to indicate a fight, had there been one. It seemed patrons so seldom visited this place; there had not been a fight for ages. Other than graffiti and old laser burn marks, the area was clean.
After searching the surrounding areas for Talyc’s signature in the Force, they lost it. It had become too faint, too weak. So they returned to the Temple to give an account to Master Herl’unik, who seemed concerned to know about the disappearance and the strange occurrences. Then Shadie and Fane returned to Mandalore.
* * *
Knarf had told them to meet him in Mandalore’s bunker when he’d heard from Shadie upon their arrival at the spacedock. Fane entered the bunker with a heavy heart. He wished he had better news to give the Mandalore; better news would mean he was that much closer to finding Talyc. They had searched for the Mirialan, but there had been no holocams in the area, therefore no security footage. Master Herl’unik had promised to do some digging just in case, but Fane knew it was a courtesy, a gesture to show kindness, and that the Grand Master would not find anything that would help them in their search.
They approached the main area, where Mandalore’s desk and holoprojectors stood displaying the planet and a tactical map of space, and the Mandalorian blockade. There seemed to be more ships in orbit. Fane had noticed the blockade on their way, but had not paid much attention to it.
Knarf walked to them and embraced Shadie.
‘What’s with the reinforced blockade?’ asked Fane, pointing a thumb at the tactical display.
‘A precaution,’ replied Mandalore. He looked at them. ‘Can you believe the gall of that Chiss?’ He shook his head. Fane was confused.
‘Relsor has made threats to Mandalore,’ said Knarf. ‘He contacted Mandalore via his private com.’
‘Perce is good,’ said Shadie. ‘The encryptions on that channel are of the highest end.’
‘Well, I’ve been working on recalibrating them so that Perce can’t slice into them again,’ said Knarf.
‘Were you here when this happened?’ asked Shadie.
Knarf nodded, and pointed at a corner. ‘Hidden away, like a womp rat under the sand,’ he said.
‘So he threatened to attack Mandalore?’ asked Fane.
‘He claims,’ said Mandalore, ‘that he has his uncle’s super lasers.’
‘But they were all destroyed,’ said Shadie.
‘He claims,’ continued Mandalore, ‘that the ones he had were different versions from the prototype version, and therefore not connected to the mainframe to which the others were connected.’
‘Meaning that they didn’t get rigged, because Knarf would not have found them, and therefore they remained intact, despite all the other ones being blown up with Darth Gourd’s dreadnought,’ said Shadie.
‘Maybe he’s lying,’ said Fane.
‘That’s what I’m banking on,’ said Mandalore, ‘but I rather be safe than sorry. I told him I would not help him or change my mind, so I can only assume if his word is true, that he will attack Mandalore.’
‘Wait, you’ve lost me,’ said Shadie, voicing Fane’s precise sentiments. ‘Help him with what?’
‘Oh, he wanted me to deliver you to him.’
‘Me?’ said Shadie.
‘All of you: you, Knarf, Brenum, Trylia, Fane, he even threw Talyc’s name in there.’
‘He must be getting desperate,’ said Fane. ‘We knew he wanted to capture Shadie before, though we still don’t know why. At least now we know how much he wants to capture us.’ Fane laughed. ‘Now he wants to capture all of us, not just Shadie. He couldn’t even capture her, how does he think he’s going to capture the rest of us?’
‘And why in the kark would he think that the Mandalorians would help him?’ said Shadie, incredulous. She shook her head.
‘So, any luck?’ asked Knarf.
‘Dead end,’ said Fane. ‘We followed his signature to a deserted tapcaf. The owner says he left without paying and his waitress disappeared the same night and he hasn’t heard from her. We believe she may be behind Talyc’s disappearance.’
‘The owner told us she’s a Mirialan, but we searched and could not find her,’ said Shadie. ‘If they were on Coruscant last week, they are far from the planet now.’
Fane’s personal comlink chimed. His heart leapt; perhaps it was Talyc. He took it out and scowled at the data that appeared as it chimed.
‘I’m receiving an encrypted call,’ he said.
Mandalore turned to flick a switch on his holoprojector and Knarf quickly plugged a cable into the comlink’s small port, connecting to the holoprojector and holoscreen monitors. Knarf looked at the encryption pattern.
‘It’s the same pattern that appeared when Relsor contacted Mandalore,’ he said.
Fane felt a rock in his stomach as it lurched. ‘Why does Relsor want to contact me?’
‘You’re my apprentice,’ said Shadie, ‘maybe he and Perce think they can coax you into turning on me. Maybe given your past dip to the dark side, they figure it could happen again.’
‘No chance, I’m not going down such a path ever again,’ said Fane.
‘Good, I’m glad to hear that,’ said Shadie.
Knarf took Shadie’s hand and pulled her towards the wall a bit further down.
‘It’s ready. From this monitor here, we’ll be able to see what you see,’ said Knarf. Mandalore joined them.
Fane pressed a button on the monitor and Relsor appeared before him on the holomonitor.
‘Jedi Fane,’ Relsor said.
‘What do you want?’ Fane said dryly.
‘Compliance,’ said Relsor, smiling. He glanced to the side, then turned his eyes back to the holocam. ‘I wish for you to deliver your master to me.’
‘You think I will betray Shadie?’ said Fane. ‘Fat chance. Try calling someone else, because I’m not playing your game.’
‘Oh, I wouldn’t be too sure, I can be quite persuasive,’ said Relsor. There was amusement in his voice.
‘There is nothing you can do that will convince me to deliver Shadie or anyone else to you,’ said Fane.
‘Hmm,’ Relsor nodded. ‘Perhaps you need a little bit of encouragement then.’
The holocam moved, and Fane’s heart sank, as he saw, floating in the centre of the room in a Force stasis barrier, the seemingly unconscious form of Talyc. His head was bowed, his hair partly in his face. Fane swallowed hard. He slowly took a few steps back and leaned on the desk that stood behind him. His breathing grew heavy with panic.
‘Let’s wake him up, shall we?’ The voice had come from behind the holocam; it was Perce who had spoken.
Lightning streaked the room and danced across the walls. Talyc wailed in pain.
‘Talyc!’ cried Fane. There was a lump in his throat. The lightning continued. ‘Stop! Stop!’ shouted Fane.
‘Ready to consider?’ said Relsor, coming back into view and hovering beside Talyc. He sent him another burst of lightning; Talyc screamed in pain.
‘Wait!’ Fane called out. ‘Stop hurting him.’
Relsor stopped the lightning and seemed to be waiting, suddenly expectant for his reply. Yet Fane only stared.
Talyc moved his head a bit, tried to look at the holocam. He struggled. He seemed to be trying to speak. Then, in a whisper, he managed to say: ‘Fane.’
Relsor brought his attention back to the holocam. ‘Bring me Shadie, or he dies!’
Talyc screamed in pain again as the lightning torture continued.
‘Talyc, I…’ The call ended. ‘No!’ Fane stared at the now blank holomonitor.
He’d not been quick enough to speak. Talyc didn’t know, still didn’t know how he truly felt. He could have said it then, he could have shouted it before the call ended. Three simple words, yet all he could do was stare, and then when he’d finally decided to speak up, the call had ended. He’d been interrupted. Talyc was captured, he was imprisoned; that was why he’d not returned his calls. Fane understood what had happened now. He had doubted himself, doubted Talyc, yet he should have known something was wrong. Had he realised sooner that his behaviour wasn’t typical, he might have been able to find Talyc before he’d been brought to Relsor. But now Relsor had him, and he was going to kill him, unless Fane went to save him, unless he brought him Shadie, one of the only other people for whom he would do anything to protect.
Fane let himself slide down as he leaned against the desk and he slowly slumped to the ground. He realised he was shaking and his breathing was irregular.
‘Fane,’ said Shadie, softly, rushing towards him. She sat on the floor next to him and took him in her arms in a motherly fashion. She cradled him, rocking back and forth. ‘Fane, it’s okay, we’ll find him and we’ll save him.’
‘He doesn’t know; I couldn’t say it fast enough, and now he’s going to die,’ muttered Fane.
‘Talyc’s not going to die,’ said Knarf.
‘We’re going to go after him,’ said Shadie.
‘But then you’ll be putting yourself in danger,’ Fane said, looking up at her.
Shadie put a hand on his face. ‘Fane, not if I have the power to withstand anything Relsor and Perce can throw at me. And then Talyc will be safe.’
‘With the power of the Crypt. We’re going to claim that Crypt, and then we’re going to go find Talyc. We’re going to find him, I promise.’
Fane let her take him into a tighter embrace. He wrapped his arms around her and felt Knarf rubbing his back gently. He heard Mandalore issue orders into his comlink. Fane wondered, was this how Shadie felt when Knarf had been on Gourd’s ship, when the ship had gone into hyperspace? Defeated, powerless, helpless, guilty. Had she felt all those things? As though she had heard his question, Shadie replied:
‘When Knarf was on Gourd’s ship, this is how I felt. You look and feel like I felt. I feel your pain in the Force, Fane.’
‘Is it my fault? Have I failed as a Jedi the minute I returned to the Order?”
‘No, you have not failed. You simply have not mastered the feelings that love and passion make you feel as I have mastered them. It is a powerful emotion to feel, we need to master it, so that the good side of it can make us stronger, and the darker side of it doesn’t control us.’
Fane nodded and closed his eyes. All he could see, however, was the horror he’d seen in the holocall: Talyc being tortured by the Force lightning that Relsor was sending him, screaming in pain.
* * *
Talyc let out a harsh scream; his throat was getting dry.
‘That one was shorter,’ said Perce, ‘lower in pitch.’ He looked up at Talyc. ‘Do you sing, Clan Leader Talyc?’
Talyc struggled to get the words out. ‘Nar’sheb! Go to Hell!’
Perce laughed. ‘Ah, the place of legends. I’m sure we could find a planet with a suitable terrain to fit the description, although it shan’t be me who’d be dropped into the fiery depths of lava to suffer torment beyond what Relsor and I are capable of inflicting upon you.’
Talyc could hardly follow; his thinking was sluggish.
‘Anyway, you should start a choir,’ continued Perce. ‘A choir of lightning victims.’ He laughed and sent Talyc more of his lightning. Talyc screamed. He saw dark side energy come his way from Relsor’s direction.
‘I tire of this,’ said Relsor. ‘I grow impatient. You, Mandalorian, are no more compliant now than you were earlier. Why is that?’
They wanted the encryption codes to unlock the files Knarf had helped him encrypt. They’d be disappointed if he gave them the codes; those files were a decoy and contained nothing but more of the same images. Some of the other images on his datapad, however, had coded transcriptions within them; hidden and tangled in between the descriptions he’d given each image. Only he knew what each meant. Although, it wouldn’t take a genius to figure it out, an idiot could see through it if he knew where to look. Of course, each piece of data was inserted in several images; one would have to find all the images and put them together and place them in the right order, so he supposed it wasn’t that obvious.
Talyc laughed to himself. These Sith had fallen for the very bait Talyc had created in the event his datapad were to ever get into the hands of the enemy, and he relished in their ignorance.
Talyc also had a new sense of hope. The call Relsor had just made to Fane had confirmed one thing: Fane still cared for Talyc enough to come for him. He knew Mandalore would not fall for the Sith’s ruse, regardless whether or not the Chiss had super lasers, which Talyc hoped he did not. But he had heard it in Fane’s voice; he had heard the urgency, the need for him to be safe. Fane would come and save him.
Talyc smiled at the two Sith observing him. ‘You heard him,’ he snarled at them. ‘They will come for me. My friends will rescue me, and then they will destroy you.’
Relsor glanced at Perce.
‘Oh, bullocks,’ said Perce. ‘You’re right. We’re not going to get anywhere with repetition. I’m hungry, I fancy a large piece of nerf steak…’
He began describing his potential meal as he and Relsor left Talyc alone in the room, in his Force stasis. He was hungry. He fancied nerf steak too. He knew they did this just to toy with him. Strangely enough, they had fed him something light earlier; it hadn’t tasted very good, but they were keeping him alive. They knew that if he died, Fane and Shadie wouldn’t risk their lives until they were ready.
Talyc closed his eyes. His friends would come; he knew they would, now that they knew where he was. It was only a matter of time, he repeated to himself. It was only a matter of time.
“Lady of the Crypt” is written by Celinka Serre (2020).
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 story lines from the films are used. No story lines 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 Fair Use.
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.