It was as Relsor had described: Trylia and Alegna were bound together very tightly with what appeared to be some sort of complex rope. It looked like an immense arena; perhaps it had been used as a staging area. There were empty cages within the arena that shimmered of pristine metal. Talyc could only guess the beasts those cages had contained; some were rather large. All around the arena, in a great ring, were ysalamiri, placed in a spiral a good few meters out. There were also ysalamiri within the arena and scattered along the area for a good distance. Armoured Sith stood around the ring, guarding it, and within the centre of it all, stood Vax, overseeing the operation. Talyc noted he was no longer dressed in Mandalorian armour, but instead was garbed in Imperial gear.
Talyc passed the macrobinoculars to Shadie who was huddled closest to him as they all crouched by the edge of the ridge, looking down.
‘I don’t like the look of those empty cages,’ said Shadie. ‘What do you think they were for?’
‘I’m not sure,’ said Talyc. ‘There are more cages than can contain a few hundred ysalamiri. That means there are other beasts nearby.’
‘As you can see,’ said Relsor, ‘the area is heavily guarded and the amount of ysalamiri is even too great for me.’
‘Yeah, and you’re supposed to be able to use the Force even in an ysalamir’s bubble,’ said Knarf.
‘Like I said before, I can if there are a few, with a dozen it’s more challenging,’ said Relsor. ‘There are gaps between their bubbles. However, hundreds are a different story.’ He pointed towards the arena. ‘The Sith have placed them strategically. Even if Trylia tried, she would not find any gaps from where she could draw on the Force.’
‘We can shoot them,’ said Nriwe. ‘Kill enough of them, create some sort of opening.’
‘With two ranged weapons and hundreds of Sith alerted to our presence?’ said Perce. ‘We can’t even reach them with our powers while they are in that area. These ysalamiri are as much shrouded from the Force from which they draw their power as they are protected from those who wield it outside that bubble.’
‘We’re going to have to draw them out,’ said Relsor.
‘Lure them far enough from the ysalamiri so we can fight them,’ said Fane, ‘and that way you can reach them with your powers, Relsor. We can fight them and you can do…what it is you do.’ Fane looked at Relsor. Talyc felt Fane tense up. ‘You can immobilise them, use your malady, we can all use lightning, wind and such, and that way the few of us can defeat all those Sith.’
Relsor nodded. ‘I do not intend on fighting you today, Jedi Fane. Your wariness is unnecessary.’
‘Even with Relsor’s powers on our side, there is no way we can defeat an army of Sith,’ said Usharr. ‘These are specially trained and highly skilled. They are not the mere acolytes the Empire was willing to sacrifice when they sent you a supposed army of Sith.’
‘What do you suggest then, Usharr?’ said Perce.
‘We need to draw them out, as Relsor says, but we need to separate them, scatter them.’
‘How do we draw them out?’ said Brenum.
‘Maybe we just wing it,’ said Nriwe, taking the macrobinoculars and scanning the area.
‘There are a few details we need to figure out, I agree,’ said Shadie.
‘Nriwe and I don’t have the Force,’ said Talyc, ‘and thus we are unaffected by ysalamiri. I don’t like the idea of drawing Sith out while Vax stays behind to maybe move Trylia and Alegna.’ Talyc was conflicted about the situation. While he did not want to see the day arrive when Fane would have to duel Relsor, Talyc would have preferred to see his clan fight Relsor than play happy allies with him, but he would have to play along for now and allow the Chiss to help them. ‘Can you draw them out far enough for them to not detect two Mandalorians creeping towards the arena?’ Relsor nodded. ‘Nriwe and I can get in and help untie Trylia and Alegna. Once that’s done, they can join the fight.’
‘What about Cypher Five?’ asked Relsor.
Talyc sighed. ‘I can deal with Vax. He doesn’t possess the Force.’ He closed his eyes. ‘I thought I could trust him.’
‘You can use that anger to fuel your attack when you fight him,’ said Relsor.
‘Don’t!’ Talyc pointed a finger at Relsor. ‘Don’t think you can advise me. I’m not Knarf, I’m not your apprentice.’ He looked at Knarf. ‘No offence.’ He paused. ‘Relsor, I am your enemy, you tortured me, and if it wasn’t for Fane, I’d be swinging at you right now.’
Relsor laughed. ‘Do you really think your fist would reach my face before I would stop you?’
Talyc just couldn’t anymore; he swung at Relsor and punched him in the mouth. ‘It just did!’
‘Talyc!’ said Fane. Talyc shook his hand, shaking his anger and the momentary pain off. Relsor wiped his mouth, keeping his head low, gazing up and looking menacing.
Shadie put herself between Relsor and Talyc. ‘Relsor, please, just allow him this moment. We are united by this one cause, but it does not make any animosity disappear.’
Shadie and Relsor exchanged a stare for a good while. The silence was broken by an excited squeal from Nriwe.
‘Look what we have here! Over there!’ She pointed at a large cage that housed a massive beast.
‘A rancor?’ said Shadie.
‘I think we just found how to draw the Sith out.’ Nriwe smiled widely. ‘One of you Jedi can use the Force on it to make it want to go towards the ysalamiri, right? We get it out of its cage, we use it to draw the Sith out, Talyc and I sneak up on Vax, you send the rancor our way, it crushes a few ysalamiri.’
‘One rancor will not make much of a difference once the Sith have cut it down,’ said Relsor.
‘That’s why we’re going to free them all!’ said Nriwe, grinning widely.
‘All?’ said Perce, sounding unsure.
‘Yup, I count six. Just make sure one of them reaches the arena.’
‘Six could work,’ said Relsor.
‘Yes, excellent plan,’ said Talyc, smiling.
‘Hey, there’s a reason I’m the clan’s second leader.’
‘And what are you going to do with the rancor once it reaches you?’ asked Brenum.
‘You leave the rancor to us,’ said Nriwe. ‘Focus on the Sith, we’ll take care of that rancor.’
* * *
Trylia was struggling with her bonds, trying to loosen them. It would have helped to have the Force, add to the fact that these were of a material she had never encountered before; they seemed impossible to untie. Given she was a Jedi, it was probably purposely meant that way.
‘So this Relsor fellow,’ said Alegna at a low volume, ‘he mustn’t be that bad of a Sith. I mean, if he cares about you enough to come to your rescue.’
‘That’s if he comes at all,’ said Trylia.
‘You think he’d let the Empire have you?’ Alegna scoffed. ‘From the little I know, he’d die before that happened.’
Trylia couldn’t help think back to the holorecordings she’d seen, how Relsor was conceived on Ziost through Sith alchemy. This was a cruel coincidence, because she knew the Empire did not know what she knew.
‘He might recognise the trap,’ said Trylia.
‘True friends always pull through,’ said Alegna.
Trylia looked at Cypher Five who was pacing to and fro. He looked at her and then moved his gaze to her lightsaber that was clipped to his belt, next to Alegna’s blaster.
Cypher Five smirked. ‘You can’t even reach for your lightsaber. In here, you’re nothing, you’re pathetic, you’re weak.’ He spread out his arms a bit. ‘A Jedi without the Force and you can’t even save yourself.’ He pointed at the Sith. ‘That’s why the Empire is stronger than the Republic. That’s also the beauty of not being Force-sensitive. I don’t need special training to not lose all my senses and become weak when in an ysalamiri bubble.’
‘You think you’re better than me?’ said Trylia.
‘Think?’ Cypher Five laughed.
There was a loud groaning sound and a stirring afar. Cypher Five looked up. Many of the Sith closest to the direction of the sound grouped together. There was another sound very similar, and another. There were several thumps and quickly all those sounds grew louder. Then Trylia saw them, six rancors, heading towards the arena.
‘Blast it!’ cried Cypher Five. ‘Get rid of those rancors! Now!’
Many Sith left the area and hurried towards the rancors. Trylia looked about, but she could not see Relsor anywhere.
‘I knew we’d be found,’ said Alegna.
‘Your Sith friend has skills,’ said Cypher Five looking angry.
‘He has the Force,’ said Trylia. ‘You see, he came for me and opened up all those cages.’
‘The Force can’t open those cages,’ Cypher Five said, pointing towards the rancors, which were approaching fast. ‘They’re specially sealed.’
‘He has a lightsaber,’ said Trylia.
Cypher Five looked back at the Sith who were attempting to redirect the rancors.
‘No regular Sith or Jedi can open these cages; no lightsaber can break their bars.’ He looked at Trylia. ‘It pays off to have known Mandalorians. We got these commissioned by pretending to be clients; they’re made with beskar’gam. If someone’s opened them, then they knew how to bypass the locks. You see, these cages have special locks, locks only a slicer can open.’
‘He came with Perce,’ said Trylia. ‘Who would have thought!’
‘I don’t know,’ whispered Alegna. ‘This doesn’t look like a Sith’s idea. I think this was Nriwe. I’d recognise her handiwork from light-years away.’
Trylia’s heart leapt. That would mean that her friends had come, had known she was in danger and had known where to find her. She wished she could reach out with the Force to know for certain.
‘What’s going on over there?’ Cypher Five mused to himself.
Suddenly, there was an onslaught of lighting where the Sith and rancors were. Cypher Five cursed under his breath. More Sith left the arena to join the fight that had begun afar.
* * *
‘We need to draw out more of those Sith,’ said Shadie. ‘There are too many over there still.’
‘What do you suggest?’ said Brenum. He slashed at one Sith and dodged the blade of another.
Knarf rolled towards him and helped him fight off a few more Sith, bouncing off one of the rancor’s legs and back atop the Sith.
‘I noticed more cages over there. Tarentateks, I believe,’ said Knarf. ‘And something else, I’m not even sure I’ve even seen anything like it before.’
‘It’s worth a try,’ said Shadie.
‘Perce!’ Knarf called out.
The True Sith looked at him. He inclined his helmeted head towards the cages a short distance away. Perce nodded and they made their way to the cages. They each ran to a different one. Knarf quickly sliced the cage open and the strange beast emerged, running towards the army of Sith.
‘Hopefully, they don’t command all these beasts to attack us,’ said Perce. ‘This has the potential to go very wrong very quickly.’
‘Have any better ideas?’ said Knarf
‘Just saying,’ said Perce.
They worked their way through all the cages and sliced them open. A few moments later, all the strange beasts and tarentateks were running towards the Sith. Knarf saw more Sith approaching, leaving the arena half bare.
‘That got rid of half of them,’ said Knarf. ‘Now what?’
He and Perce looked around, trying to find more cages, but they had freed all the beasts in the area. Then Perce perked up.
‘I see turrets!’ he said. He ran towards them, Knarf followed. Perce got behind one of them, Knarf behind the other. ‘Aim at the arena.’
* * *
Talyc and Nriwe crept closer to the arena. More Sith kept running towards the battle as more fell dead. Relsor was really making good use of his abilities. Every now and then, Talyc felt a wave of nausea wash over him, but each time it passed quickly. He knew it was just Relsor doing his thing. Thankfully it wasn’t specifically aimed at him, not this time anyway.
He heard a series of loud turret volleys coming towards the arena. Sith dodged and began to run in the direction of the turrets. After a few minutes, few Sith remained guarding the area, but it was still too many for Talyc and Nriwe to take care of alone. They crouched behind a rock and waited a short while as the arena was emptied of more Sith. After another brief while, the arena was devoid of Sith.
They crept closer. Talyc let Nriwe get a head start towards the back of the arena, then he stepped out into view, taking his helmet off. He wanted to stare right into Vax’s eyes.
‘Vax!’ he called out. Vax turned around to face him. Talyc saw Nriwe from the corner of his eye, so he adjusted his position with another two steps forward to keep Vax’s attention on him. ‘Your game’s up. Let them go.’
Vax laughed. ‘Talyc, do you really think you can tell me what to do?’
The answer was no and Talyc knew it, but he had to keep Vax’s attention on him for this to work.
‘By the way,’ said Talyc, ‘Wapita sends his regards. He’s kicked you out of the clan.’
‘Good, I didn’t need them anyway.’
‘How long, Vax?’ asked Talyc. He wanted answers. ‘How long have you planned on betraying me?’
‘You? Oh, have I broken your heart?’ Vax said smugly.
Talyc shook his head. ‘Look, Vax, don’t flatter yourself so much. I have fond memories of our time together, but the man I love is over there fighting Sith.’ He pointed towards the battle behind him, while still looking at Vax. ‘But I considered you a friend. I trusted you. So tell me, how long? When did the Empire convince you to drop the bounty hunter act for you to become a Cypher Agent?’
Vax snickered. ‘Oh, Talyc, Talyc Kandera, you poor naïve Mandalorian.’ Vax walked closer to Talyc. ‘When we met, I was already a Cypher. I’ve been Cypher Five since almost the moment I was old enough to hold a blaster. I was practically born a Cypher.’
Talyc had to admit, this hurt his pride. He had trusted a man based on a past relationship with him, but that relationship had been false.
‘So even our relationship back then was a lie,’ said Talyc. He let out a quick breath. ‘Well played.’
‘Talyc,’ Vax shook his head, ‘I did care about you, and that was not a lie. But I did play you then, as I played you now. I’ve always been Cypher Five, and I was only playing the part of a bounty hunter. It paid off.’
Talyc pointed back at the battle. ‘Those cages,’ he said, ‘I recognise their make. I remember when they were commissioned. I thought they were for the Hutts.’ He paused. ‘I’m disappointed, Vax.’ He paused again. ‘Were you ever truly Vax?’
‘Vax was the name given to me at birth,’ said Vax, ‘albeit a short form of a much longer Rattataki name. Cypher Five is the name given to me by Imperial Intelligence.’ Vax came much closer. ‘I also remember the name you gave me when you invited me into your bed. Tell me, does he know how close we once were?’
‘Fane and I tell each other everything,’ said Talyc, his anger rising.
‘You truly are in love with him, aren’t you? It would be a shame if he died. A Jedi’s true calling is always the Force, the Jedi Order. Like me, he will put you second, and when he is called upon, he will leave you, and once again, you will be lost and lonely, with only the bottle to comfort you.’
Talyc spat in Vax’s face. ‘Fane will not abandon me, he will not die.’
Nriwe had reached the two men and she lunged towards Vax, grabbing hold of Trylia’s lightsaber and knocking Vax on the head with it. He ducked barely in time. Talyc kicked Vax to the ground. Nriwe jumped on top of him and took the blaster that belonged to her friend. She tossed the weapons towards Trylia and Alegna, then rolled back towards Vax who had shoved her away.
Talyc put his helmet on and aimed his assault rifle at Vax, who lay on his back on the ground.
‘You wouldn’t, Talyc,’ said Vax. ‘You wouldn’t kill your first lover.’
‘Don’t call yourself that,’ said Talyc, hesitating.
‘But you had deep feelings for me,’ said Vax. ‘It shows even now.’
‘I’m hurt,’ said Talyc, ‘because I thought we’d shared something special and I respected you. My friends trusted you, and you were invited into a Mandalorian clan. You see, my people come first for me too.’ Talyc could see Nriwe working on the bonds that tied Trylia and Alegna together. ‘For Mandalore’s honour.’
Talyc aimed at Vax’s head and shot. Vax barrel-rolled backwards, barely missing the laser bolt, and came up on two feet. He pressed something on his wrist. Talyc lunged at him, Vax rolled to the side. Vax kicked Talyc, who rolled and came up again. He heard Trylia ignite her lightsaber. Vax shot towards her. She batted away the blaster bolts with a bit less ease than usual, but she seemed to be somewhat able to manoeuvre despite the lack of Force in the arena.
A shuttle came flying by and hovered low. Vax shot blaster bolt after blaster bolt as Talyc shot back, running towards him, Nriwe was running towards him too.
‘He can’t get away!’ cried Talyc. ‘He knows Mandalorian secrets.’
Trylia threw her lightsaber, but unable to call it back, it fell short of the distance and landed a few feet away from the shuttle as Vax jumped onto the landing platform.
Vax laughed. ‘So long, Talyc. I will see you, hopefully very soon!’
Talyc screamed in anger and cursed in Mando’a. ‘Shabuir!‘ He watched the shuttle fly off and then looked down.
‘What does he mean by that?’ said Nriwe. ‘The cheek of him. You okay, Talyc?’
‘I’m so sorry,’ he said.
‘None of this is your fault,’ said Trylia. ‘You’re starting to sound like Fane.’
‘I should have recognised,’ said Talyc.
Trylia shook her head. ‘It must be difficult coming to terms that someone you trusted, someone you shared a beautiful past with…’ She shook her head again. ‘You have true friends now, and so do I by the looks of it. Thank you.’ She smiled.
‘I knew that was you,’ Alegna told Nriwe.
One of the rancors was coming towards the arena quite quickly. The others were still alive and still in the fray of the battle afar. It also looked like other creatures, tarentateks, were running amidst the warriors.
‘Excellent,’ said Nriwe, ‘they used the Force to send it our way.’
Trylia and Talyc looked up at the rancor.
Talyc swallowed hard. ‘Okay, so what now?’
He heard a loud whistle and Alegna began moving her arms, waving them in one direction, then in the other.
‘Before I met Nriwe, I was captured by Night Sisters from Dathomir,’ said Alegna. She screeched in a high-pitched tone and pointed at the rancor. ‘I learnt how to tame a rancor without the use of the Force. They thought it would make for good sport when I supposedly failed. What they didn’t know is the sister teaching me was helping me. Then later, Nriwe and I were on a mission together and we were taken in by Hutt slavers. We were thrown into an arena together after insisting we were fighters, not dancers. We slew many beasts. Then a rancor came out.’ She took a few steps towards the rancor, which stood staring at her. She put her hand down, still staring right into its eyes. ‘Instead of fighting it, we rode it.’ She laughed. ‘Time to climb, you coming, Nriwe?’
‘I’m good, I’ve got armour. You don’t.’
Alegna climbed onto the rancor’s back and steered it towards the battle. Trylia laughed. They started towards the battle as well.
‘Shadie sure is creating a lot of lightning,’ said Trylia.
‘That’s because she’s not the only one doing that,’ said Talyc. ‘Relsor is here too.’
‘Relsor came for me?’
Talyc looked at her and nodded. ‘He did. And so did Perce. We’re working together, only until you’re safe, and until those are Sith destroyed. I don’t know what happened while you were on his ship, but he’s different. Something’s changed him. And I don’t need the Force to recognise that.’
‘It’s a long story,’ said Trylia.
‘Can’t wait to hear it,’ said Nriwe. ‘I kind of like the friendly side of him.’
They arrived at the battle and Talyc slid under a rancor, coming up under a Sith, switching to his vibroblade, and slashed. He twirled his vibroblade, coming to stand next to Knarf, who nodded to him. Together they manoeuvred as they always did. He saw the shuttle that had taken Vax fly overhead and past the area. He looked at Shadie.
‘I think reinforcements are on the way!’
“Secrets from the Past” is written by Celinka Serre (2022).
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.