Brenum was staring at the console monitor in the Clan Kandera bunker, as was everyone else, watching the progress bar; it was barely moving at all. It seemed to Knarf he kept leaning more forward every now and then, inching his eyes closer to the monitor screen.
‘It’s not giving us anything!’ Brenum shouted, kicking the console.
‘Easy, there,’ said Knarf, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder. ‘It’ll take time.’
‘We don’t have time,’ Brenum said in a hushed voice.
‘What’s the worst that can happen?’ asked Fane. ‘Relsor won’t hurt her. Trust in your love.’
Brenum closed his eyes. Knarf could feel some sympathy. He looked over at Shadie. ‘What time did Talyc say he’d be out of his meeting with Mandalore?’
‘Right about now,’ said Shadie.
‘Go and join him at the tavern,’ said Knarf. He motioned Brenum. ‘We’ll stay and run a few more diagnostics before joining you. But this thing will take a while, so I’m not expecting to get anything tonight.’
Shadie nodded, as she and Fane left the bunker.
‘What was it you told me once?’ said Knarf. ‘Something about breathing?’ Brenum chuckled. ‘Here, help me run a few scans on this part of the tracker, make sure we haven’t missed anything. All this info will start to make sense once the bulk of the main part completes its full scan and gives us data we can actually read.’
Brenum nodded and got to the task. Knarf tried to give him his most comforting smile, but he knew the feeling too well to know it wouldn’t change anything.
* * *
Talyc sat at a table in the tavern, waiting for his friends to arrive. He looked up and saw a familiar face. He felt surprised, his heart skipping a beat, recalling when he’d last seen the bounty hunter; a tall lean and pale grey Rattataki with a few face tattoos continuing along his neck. Talyc thought he’d never see the day when the two would meet again. The Rattataki man turned his way and his eyes went wide with recognition. He walked to Talyc’s table and sat down.
‘In the flesh,’ replied the clan leader.
‘My, my, it’s been a long time.’ The Rattataki grinned.
‘Only about ten years,’ said Talyc. He bit his lower lip, unsure what to call the man, friend wouldn’t quite describe it. They clasped hands. ‘It’s good to see you, Vax. What are you doing all the way here on Mandalore? Thought you didn’t want in on the Mando life.’
‘Well, pulling off old bounties is starting to get old, you know,’ said Vax. ‘I ran into an old contact of mine and I got an offer to join a clan on Mandalore. Figured I’d give that a try.’
‘A shame you didn’t run into to me sooner,’ said Talyc, ‘I’d’ve offered you a place in Clan Kandera.’
‘Bah, we’d have gotten to our old tricks and not been able to get our tasks done. Probably best we don’t work together, fewer distractions.’ Vax winked. Talyc blushed. ‘Although, those were fun times.’
‘They were,’ said Talyc. ‘I have fond memories.’ Vax’s greyish skin turned a pink hue as he smiled. ‘Though I’ve moved on,’ Talyc added. If Vax was still anything like Talyc knew him to be, he was prone to a lot of flirting, so he wanted him to know about Fane, to avoid any awkwardness.
‘Well, yeah, I hear you’ve landed yourself a handsome young Jedi,’ said Vax. ‘Hope he keeps you safe.’
‘On the most part,’ said Talyc. Both he and Vax laughed.
‘Listen, Talyc,’ Vax said with a bit of a more serious air, ‘I’m sorry I disappeared on you the way I did. You deserved better. I just… Mandalore wasn’t for me back then and I just didn’t know how to tell you.’
‘Don’t worry about it,’ said Talyc, understanding Vax’s need for closure. ‘I’d figured as much. After wallowing, of course.’ Talyc didn’t want to lie, but he had pushed the memories from his mind a long time ago. Vax had broken his heart, but that was history now. ‘We’re good.’
Vax perked up. ‘Yeah?’
Talyc nodded. ‘So who’s the lucky clan?’ he said, changing the subject.
‘Clan Dargoza,’ said Vax, ‘with Clan Leader Wapita.’ Talyc winced. ‘What?’
‘Oh,’ said Vax. At that moment, Wapita and other members of Clan Dargoza entered the tavern. ‘Well, this is awkward. Doesn’t have to be.’ Vax waved them to come by. Wapita scowled but aproached and stood near the table. ‘You know Talyc, he’s an old friend.’ Wapita didn’t answer. ‘I see no reason why two rival clans can’t sit together and have a drink.’ Vax waved at the waitress to come by. ‘A round of your best Tarisian ale for all my friends.’
‘You haven’t changed much,’ said Talyc.
‘Oh, more than you know,’ Vax chuckled.
The door to the tavern opened again, as Wapita and the others were taking seats around the table, and Shadie and Fane walked in. They looked at each other before approaching the table.
‘Sorry to keep you waiting,’ said Shadie, sounding a little unsure.
‘Shadie, this is Vax, an old friend of mine, who happens to now be a member of Clan Dargoza.’ Shadie nodded. ‘Vax, this is…’
‘Jedi Shadie!’ Vax stood. ‘An honour.’ He bowed politely. He looked at Fane. ‘And you are?’
‘This is Fane,’ said Talyc, ‘Shadie’s former apprentice and my partner.’
‘Oh my, he is a handsome one, isn’t he?’ Vax took Fane’s hand and bowed. ‘Unlucky for me I can’t whisk you away.’ Vax winked at Fane, who smiled shyly back.
‘Where are Knarf and Brenum?’ asked Talyc.
‘Oh, running a few diagnostics,’ said Shadie.
‘In other words,’ said Fane, ‘they’re having a moment. Brenum is very upset still.’
‘Jedi Brenum, upset?’ said Wapita. ‘He’s always the calm one of you lot.’
Shadie and Fane sat next to Talyc. ‘Well, you know Trylia,’ said Shadie to Wapita, ‘she has been taken captive by Relsor.’
‘Oh,’ said Wapita. He nodded. ‘Sorry to hear.’ He sounded as though he was struggling to stay civil.
‘Is she Jedi Bre… She his partner?’ asked Vax.
‘Yes,’ said Fane.
‘I thought you Jedi weren’t supposed to have attachments?’ said Vax.
‘Oh, well, we’re the exception,’ said Shadie. ‘Knarf’s my husband.’
‘Oh yeah, I remember that message you sent out to the entire galaxy,’ said Vax. ‘Compelling, heartwarming.’ Vax looked around. He nudged Wapita.
‘Yes, very,’ said the clan leader, agreeing with Vax.
Talyc couldn’t help but laugh at the situation, despite its awkwardness.
‘So, we’ve never seen you around before,’ said Shadie.
‘New member of the rival clan, apparently,’ replied Vax. ‘Been doing bounties here and there, between Hutt Space and Dromund Kaas, typical business for a Rattataki like me.’
‘Dromund Kaas!’ said Shadie. ‘That’s where Trylia was last seen with Relsor, so I hear.’ Talyc looked at her, realising she would give away their contact through her excitement if she gave too many details.
‘Yeah, a contact of Clan Kandera who was out in the markets in Sith Space noticed a Togruta with Relsor.’
‘Yeah, I saw his ship,’ said Vax. ‘I was exiting the cantina as it flew off into hyperspace. That thing is huge. Super Dreadnaught or something.’ He shook his head.
‘Do you know anything about where they were heading, what Relsor was there for?’ asked Shadie.
Vax shrugged. ‘I believe that Relsor went to meet with the Dark Council, so I’ve heard, but aside from that, I’m as in the dark as you are. Sorry.’
‘No worries,’ said Shadie.
At that moment Brenum and Knarf came in and joined them, grabbing some chairs and sitting down, looking very awkward. They kept their gaze on Wapita and the others of the clan. Shadie filled them in on what was going on and on what Vax had heard or knew about Relsor’s whereabouts.
After an awkward silence, Wapita stood. ‘Well, we have business to get to, my clan and I, not that I…well actually yes, I want to leave, but you know.’
‘Yeah, I know,’ said Talyc. ‘Thanks for humouring us.’
Wapita leaned in towards Talyc in a menacing manner. ‘Oh, and just so we’re clear, this one’s mine.’ He pointed at Vax. ‘My recruit into my clan. Clan Kandera has no claim.’
‘Not gonna try to steal any of your clanmates, Wapita,’ said Talyc, ‘I promise.’ Vax scowled as Wapita straightened. ‘Kelbourn may have convinced a Dargoza clanmate or two, or several, to join Clan Kandera instead, back in the day.’
‘Ah,’ said Vax, ‘well I see how one would feel rather possessive in such a situation, especially given our history.’
‘Don’t want to hear about it.’ Wapita muttered. He motioned with his head. The others from Clan Dargoza stood and followed him out.
Vax lingered a moment longer, his smile sobering. ‘Keep in touch, Talyc.’ He looked at the others. ‘It’s been very nice meeting you all.’
He left as Nriwe was walking in the door. She came and sat with the others.
‘Not chatting with your Jedi Master friend?’ Talyc teased her.
‘No, he’s got Jedi Council meetings,’ replied Nriwe. The others giggled. ‘What?’ Shadie shook her head. Nriwe’s comlink chimed. ‘Oh, well, right on cue.’ She activated it. ‘Hi, Lian. I’m in the tavern with the others.’
‘Oh, hello everyone then,’ came in Lian’s voice. ‘Listen, I was thinking about what you told me the other day, and I was thinking we could continue that conversation in person. How would you like to come by the Crypt at some point, perhaps…uh…we could make a meal of it.’
‘Sure! I’ll check my schedule and…’
Talyc grabbed her arm, Nriwe looked at him, he mouthed: “We can go tomorrow!”
‘Uh, tomorrow?’ said Nriwe.
‘Yes, excellent,’ said Lian.
‘Great, it’s a date!’
‘Fantastic!’ Lian sounded very enthusiastic. ‘I’ll see you tomorrow!’
As soon as the call ended, everyone began whistling and making sounds of teasing.
‘Woooh! A date, eh?’ said Fane.
‘A friendly one!’ insisted Nriwe.
‘Listen,’ said Talyc, ‘Fane and I will take Nriwe to the Crypt. You three can work on the information from the tracker. Keep us informed if you find anything of relevance.’
‘You’re enjoying this,’ said Knarf. Talyc nodded vigorously.
‘I’m glad to see someone is,’ said Brenum. ‘I’m sorry. I’m a party-pooper, aren’t I?’
‘You’re worried,’ said Shadie. ‘But we get to work on the tracking device. If anything is in there, we’ll find it.’
* * *
Relsor sat in his command chair, pondering on the recent events. He sat alone, which he appreciated. Perce was a good companion, but he could sometimes truly get on his nerves. The human was running some more scans on Trylia’s datapad, which had as of late given them no information they didn’t already know. Relsor suspected she had sensed his influence and might have prepared for possible capture. Regardless, it didn’t matter; there was only one secret Relsor needed to know, and that was what Kromus had hidden that contained the information about him.
Trylia approached. Relsor looked up at her, bringing his attention back to the present moment.
‘Perce not with you?’ she asked. Relsor shook his head. ‘Good. He can be a right pain sometimes.’
Relsor chuckled. ‘You’re telling me? Try spending as much time with him as I have to. Still, I do appreciate him.’
‘I understand,’ said Trylia. ‘I don’t know what I’d do without my friends.’ She looked around. ‘Come then.’
Relsor scowled. ‘Where?’
‘To play some Pazaak. I’ve already got a droid waiting for us. All that’s missing is something to drink.’
‘You…want to spend time with me?’ Relsor brought his hand to his chin.
‘Quality time,’ Trylia specified.
Relsor stood and walked with Trylia to the room he had appointed as hers. The Sith guards that stood by the door stepped aside to let them in. A droid stood at a table that had already been prepared for Pazaak.
Relsor and Trylia sat down at opposite ends and began their game. Relsor called for one of the Sith to bring them some wine. They didn’t have to wait long before it arrived, and Relsor poured them each a glass.
‘This is Telosian wine,’ said Relsor. ‘I forget how it came into my possession, but it’s been sitting on a shelf for ages.’
‘It’s quite good,’ said Trylia. She played her next move. ‘You know, it would be nice for me to send out a message to Brenum, just to let him know I’m doing all right.’
‘You know I can’t let you do that,’ said Relsor. Trylia nodded. ‘What would you have written?’
‘That I’m enjoying some fine Telosian wine and, as far as I can tell, winning a game of Pazaak.’
‘Not so fast,’ said Relsor, playing his next move. He studied her closely.
‘I know why you went to the Crypt,’ Trylia said at last, ‘and I sensed you reaching out to me.’
‘So I failed to manipulate you,’ said Relsor.
Trylia nodded. ‘But you should also know that whatever Kromus has that is secret about you, I would want you to know, as much as I would want my friends and allies to know.’ She reached into her cleavage and pulled out a small thin datapad. She placed it on the table.
Reslor let out a small laugh, turning his head ot the side. ‘I might have known you’d hide it in such a… place,’ he said, looking back at Trylia.
Trylia reached for his hand and gently squeezed it, then she placed the datapad in his hand. It was nearly a quarter of the size of a regular datapad. Whatever was on it should provide some answers.
‘You’re entrusting me with something Shadie has been waiting to find,’ said Relsor.
‘Only because I’m going to look at whatever’s on there with you.’
Trylia crossed her arms and leaned back. For some strange reason, Relsor felt like he had no choice in the matter. Yet he could decide whether she got to see the contents or not.
‘And if I decide that you can’t?’ he mused.
‘I didn’t let myself be captured by you just to be left out on the first viewing,’ said Trylia. ‘I played along with your “plan” for a reason.’
‘Fair enough.’ Relsor stood. ‘Shall we pass this on to Perce then? I doubt Kromus would have secret information on here without any encryptions.’
Trylia stood and followed Relsor. They quickly passed the datapad to Perce and returned to their game. After some time, Relsor decided they should check on Perce’s progress.
They found Perce crouched by a console, studying a datapad that was connected to a scanning device, while the secret datapad in question was linked to the console.
‘And so?’ asked Relsor. ‘How is the decryption going?’
‘This was very well encrypted,’ said Perce. ‘Whoever did this did an excellent job. I detect a layer of encryption, then a layer of scrambling, and then more encryption.’
‘What does that mean?’ asked Trylia.
‘It means that after I decrypt it, I have to unscramble it, and then decrypt it again,’ said Perce sounding very annoyed.
‘Yikes,’ Trylia said, looking from Perce to Relsor. ‘I had no idea. I’m starting to be eager to find out what’s on there.’
‘You’re going to let her see what on this thing?’ said Perce.
‘Yes,’ said Relsor. ‘She did get it for us, after all. We have to live together, so I feel it’s only fair.’
‘Whatever you say,’ said Perce. ‘But remember, she betrayed you once–’
‘Enough!’ Relsor took a breath. ‘We have moved past that. This is a different situation.’
Perce sighed and shrugged, then nodded, resigned.
‘So are we talking about hours, days?’ asked Relsor.
‘Oh, no,’ said Perce, ‘we’re talking about weeks.’
‘Weeks?’ exclaimed both Relsor and Trylia.
‘Is there no way to make it go faster?’ said Relsor.
‘I can only do so much,’ said Perce.
‘You know,’ began Trylia, ‘Knarf could probably–’
‘Don’t,’ said Perce, suddenly standing and pointing a finger in Trylia’s face, ‘mention him. Don’t say his name.’
‘Okay. Uh, sorry.’ Trylia looked at Relsor and mouthed: “Edgy.”
Relsor chuckled. ‘Let’s leave Perce to it then. Bothering him will not make him slice any faster.’
“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.