Fane ran into the briefing room where Shadie and Knarf stood with the Mandalore. The monitor displays showed a blip hovering above the planet.
‘Talyc’s missing,’ he said, panting.
‘We know,’ said Mandalore sternly. ‘Shadie has just informed me that she sensed him leaving the planet.’
‘Wait, what? I thought he’d been captured again. Left the planet?’ Fane shook his head, confused. ‘I thought Mandalore was on lockdown!’
‘It is,’ replied the Mandalore. ‘No one can leave the planet unless they have the special codes, and only I, my wife, and clan leaders have those.’
‘So that explains Talyc being able to bypass the lockdown.’ Fane signed and clenched his teeth, closing his eyes. ‘The last time he went missing, he was captured and tortured. This time it’s the dark side influencing his decisions.’ Fane tried to quell the desperation he felt. ‘And communications are jammed.’
‘Not anymore,’ said Shadie. ‘Knarf sliced through them. It’s Perce, nothing he slices is permanent.’ She smiled gingerly. Fane appreciated the attempt to lighten the mood.
‘I tried to raise him on our comchannel,’ said Knarf, ‘but I’ve had no response.’ Fane closed his eyes, trying to feel Talyc in the Force.
‘I will have better luck,’ said Mandalore. Fane opened his eyes. Shadie looked saddened, Knarf looked worried, and Mandalore looked angry. The Mandalorian leader pointed at the blip. ‘He’s still in real space.’
* * *
Talyc punched in the coordinates, pulling on the throttle. He was about to make the jump when his fighter’s comsignal gave a shrill beep. He switched it off, ignoring it. It pained him to leave so secretively, but it was the only way he could survive this. The com beeped again. He hit it again, ignoring the call once more. The com chimed again, but this time with the private chime from the Mandalore. Talyc stared at the comboard. He had lingered above the planet long enough already; he needed to get a move on. He ignored Mandalore’s call.
‘Talyc!’ came Mandalore’s voice. Talyc looked around his unit.
‘Mandalore?’ he said. ‘How did you… I didn’t take this call.’
‘No, you did not,’ said Mandalore. ‘I forced it on you.’
Talyc nodded to himself: Knarf. ‘Those are some pretty fancy slicing skills, Knarf. I’m assuming he’s there with you, Mandalore?’
‘Yes,’ came Knarf’s voice. ‘Look, Talyc, if we can’t persuade you to stay, perhaps Fane can.’
‘No! I don’t want to talk to him.’ It pained him to say it.
‘Why? What’s going on in that head of yours?’ said Mandalore.
‘I’m sorry Mandalore, but I need to do this.’
‘Talyc.’ Knarf’s voice was soft, tender, caring, and it sliced Talyc’s heart with cold fear, as a whirlwind of conflicting emotions overwhelmed him.
‘You’re all the reason I’m in this mess. I don’t want to have anything to do with it anymore. No more captures, no more tortures. I just want to live.’
‘The dark side is influencing you and you are not yourself, Talyc,’ came Shadie’s pleading voice. ‘Your clan needs you.’
‘My clan needs me alive.’
‘Talyc Kandera,’ said Mandalore, ‘if you go rogue, I swear I will hunt you down myself. Don’t make me do this; don’t make me ground you on planet. I, Mandalore, order you to return immediately.’
‘I’m sorry,’ said Talyc.
He punched in the confirmation to go to hyperspace.
He punched it in again.
He double-checked the coordinates. ‘What the…’
‘I’m sorry, buddy,’ he heard Knarf’s voice.
Talyc sighed. Knarf had somehow sliced into the frequency systems of the fighter and he couldn’t go to hyperspace. A freighter came up beside Talyc’s fighter.
‘Talyc Kandera,’ said Mandalore, ‘you are hereby grounded to the planet until further notice. Follow your escort or force will be used upon you.’
Talyc pressed his lips in an angry tight line. ‘You’re all insane,’ he said. ‘You all want to die. Well, I don’t, I’m not going to let some blue-faced or green-faced Sith torture me or kill me or…’
‘Talyc!’ It was Fane who had spoken. Talyc’s heart stopped. He closed his eyes. ‘The reason you feel the way you do is because Relsor can influence you. He can’t create an illusion like he did before, and I think it’s down to our love. That and we’ve got friends on their way, focusing on making sure Relsor can’t create any more illusions on Mandalore. But since you don’t have the Force, he’s trying to alter your thoughts and emotions. We can fight this, we can beat him. We’re stronger than this, together.’
Talyc went in line next to his escort freighter and followed it into the planet’s atmosphere.
‘The reason all this is happening is because I got involved with you in the first place,’ said Talyc. ‘Our relationship, Fane, led me to capture and torture, and heartache, and that’s not how I wanted it to be, it’s not what I deserve. This is all your fault. I’m being targeted because of you, because you are meant to kill Relsor. So kill him already, but I’m not going to stick around to die for you.’
‘Wow,’ this came from Shadie. ‘How low can you sink? You want to start pointing fingers, blame yourself, for saving Knarf’s ‘hind way back when Kromus was trying to kill him. Maybe you can blame Kelbourn for deciding to recruit Knarf, which led you to befriend him. This is how you got involved with us Jedi in the first place, as you yourself pointed out, and it’s how you fell in love with Fane. This is NOT Fane’s fault.’
‘Don’t bring Kelbourn into this, Shadie,’ Talyc snapped back, speaking on top of Shadie who raised her voice at the last sentence. ‘Don’t you dare. You know how close my cousin and I were. We were family, blood family, not just clan brothers, and the Sith lord I’m trying to save myself from, killed him and impersonated him. That Sith had me captured and tortured me. Don’t lecture me on my decisions when all I’m trying to do is stay alive.’
‘Don’t you see, this is what he wants?’ said Knarf.
‘I don’t care. I want to leave. Now I can’t, no thanks to you.’
‘We’re done talking,’ said Mandalore. ‘You will report to me immediately upon your return planetside. Understood?’ Talyc breathed a few times. ‘Un-der-stood?’
‘Yes, fine,’ Talyc said through his teeth, ‘understood.’
* * *
‘Any luck finding Talyc?’ asked Nriwe, who entered the briefing room.
Fane was leaning his hands on a desk, with his leg stretched out behind him. She seemed to observe him carefully.
‘Stretching?’ asked Nriwe, sounding a little unsure. Shadie shook her head.
‘We found Talyc,’ said Fane in a low voice.
‘Any luck finding Relsor?’
‘Hiding in the Force,’ said Shadie. ‘But Lian and the others are on their way.’
Nriwe nodded. ‘I’m glad Talyc’s back. I wasn’t ready to take over as clan leader.’ Everyone in the room stared at her. ‘I mean, you know… I’ll go secure those weapons back there.’
She sheepishly slinked her way out of the room. Shadie heard heavy footsteps, followed by Talyc’s helmeted voice.
‘Get out of my way.’
‘Good to see you too, Talyc,’ Nriwe said with sarcasm.
Talyc entered the room. He had an escort with him. Zaereg was one of them and seemed somewhat uncomfortable. The other was Wapita, who seemed all too pleased to be shoving Talyc along. Talyc brushed him off him with his arm.
‘Talyc,’ said Knarf.
Talyc shoved Knarf aside and approached Mandalore, who up until now had remained silent. His eyes were on Talyc as though he were trying to read him through the helmet the clan leader wore.
‘I am very disappointed, Clan Leader Talyc. Your actions here today come at a great cost.’ Mandalore crossed his arms. ‘I hereby relieve you from your duties, temporarily, until you prove yourself able again.’ He opened up his hand, waiting for Talyc to hand him something. He waited. ‘Talyc.’
‘You know what this means. I don’t know if I can fully trust you. I must adjust one of your comsignal receivers in your helmet.’
Talyc shifted uneasily. Shadie felt he did not want anyone to see his face. He looked tough with his helmet on but he always hid under his helmet to hide his emotions. Talyc reluctantly removed his helmet and handed it to Mandalore who right away began working on it. Talyc looked down. Shadie could see streaks on Talyc’s face where tears had run.
Fane approached him. ‘Talyc?’ he said gently.
He put his hand on Talyc’s shoulder. Talyc lifted his arm, grabbing Fane and shoving him to the adjacent wall. Fane hit his head on the wall.
‘Surprised, are you? I’ve got my strength back in my shoulder! Nothing can break it now. Not dark side energy, not lightning, no one’s going to attack me again! You got that?’
‘Talyc,’ said Fane, panicked, ‘it’s just me. I think you got triggered…’
‘I know it’s you, Fane!’ Talyc pulled Fane away from the wall and pushed him away from him. ‘Now get out of my sight.’
Fane shook his head. ‘Talyc, no. This isn’t like you.’ Fane tried to touch Talyc’s face, but Talyc retaliated again and the two began wrestling.
Knarf put his arm out to block Mandalore. ‘Let him, he needs an outlet, perhaps this will help.’
Wapita was snickering to himself before Zaereg hit his arm to shut him up. Shadie put her hand to her mouth, feeling regretful.
‘This is all your fault’ cried Talyc. ‘Had I not fallen for you, none of this would have happened. Why did you have to save my life? Why didn’t you let me fall on Coruscant? I’d have died that day. But no, you let me live so that I could be tortured and suffer and feel a pain like no other.’
Fane managed to push Talyc off him. Talyc came back with a punch to the face.
‘My life would be better off without you!’ Talyc began to sob heavily. ‘I don’t want you in my life anymore. We’re done!’
Fane’s eyes welled with tears. ‘Talyc,’ he whispered. ‘I’m your man.’
‘You’re my ex!’ Talyc’s voice was harsh and gruff.
Talyc turned, grabbed his helmet, pulling it out of Mandalore’s hands, and stormed out of the room. Fane was shaking, looking down. Shadie’s heart broke to see him this way. She took him in her arms, and he began to weep.
‘What has he done to him?’ cried Fane.
‘Sounds like Talyc’s lost his marbles,’ said Wapita.
‘Shut up!’ shouted Knarf and Zaereg together.
‘It’s okay,’ said Shadie, stroking Fane’s hair gently. ‘It’ll be all right. Lian will be here soon. He’s going to break the emotional illusion that’s poisoning Talyc’s mind.’
* * *
The Krayt Dragon bucked as it was suddenly yanked out of hyperspace. Alarms started sounding off everywhere.
‘Whoa-whoa-whoa! What’s going on?’ Brenum tried to bring control back on, but the ship would not respond. ‘Honey?’
‘You talking to me or your ship,’ said Trylia, as she swivelled her chair around, punching in keys. The alarms stopped.
Lian leaned in close as they stared out the viewport. A large ship hovered above them.
‘Tractor beam!’ said Brenum.
‘Where are we? If we manage to break free, maybe we can make it back in hyperspace, but we need new coordinates for the jump,’ said Trylia.
‘I know this, my sweet!’ said Brenum, slightly annoyed.
‘That’s not Relsor’s ship,’ said Lian. ‘Whose ship is it?’
‘I don’t recognise it.’ Brenum shook his head. ‘This doesn’t have Chiss design. I don’t think it’s part of Relsor’s fleet.’
The com chimed. Brenum hit the key.
‘Who are you and why have you yanked us out of hyperspace?’
‘Imperial Intelligence,’ came the voice of a woman with a heavy Imperial accent. ‘Your ship model fits the description of one on our radar.’
‘Why would we be on your radar?’ asked Brenum.
‘For smuggling spice in and out of Imperial Space without a permit.’
‘What? Uh…’ Brenum was at a loss. ‘We’re not smugglers. We haven’t even been near Imperial space in years.’
‘Your ship was last seen on Korriban.’
‘That was ages ago!’ Brenum winced as he realised he’d fallen into the trap of confirming “incriminating information.”
‘Confirmation received. Prepare to be boarded.’ The woman chimed out.
‘Great,’ said Brenum. He looked at Trylia; she stood. ‘Are we fighting them?’
‘We need to get to Mandalore,’ she said. ‘Any delays put our friends’ lives in jeopardy.’
‘I agree,’ said Lian. ‘I hate to say it, but if it’s just a group of Imperial officers, we can take them down easily.’
‘Then fighting it is.’
Brenum stood and unclipped his lightsaber. The three walked over to the hatch where the umbilical had been connected and waited, lightsabers at the ready.
“Protectors of the Force” is written by Celinka Serre (2021).
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.