Talyc felt worse than he had when he had awakened as Relsor’s captive. His head hurt more than it had after Perce had probed his mind, and his stomach lurched more intensely than when he felt Relsor’s malady. He moaned in pain and with nausea.
‘Do you need a bucket?’
Talyc opened his eyes and found Knarf sitting on an armchair, smiling sympathetically. He shook his head and sat up. He felt another wave of nausea.
‘Maybe,’ he said at last. ‘How did you get in here?’
‘Vax called me. The others are over in the other room,’ said Knarf.
‘Knarf, I’ve been stupid.’
‘I know. Vax told me.’ Knarf paused. ‘You’re lucky he cares for you so much to not take advantage. It must have been very difficult for him to resist your advances.’
‘Well, it didn’t seem like he was resisting much when I was kissing him and touching him,’ said Talyc, feeling a belch, but it helped let pass the sensation of nausea.
‘It’s okay,’ said Knarf. ‘You were very drunk, apparently.’
‘I’m never drinking again,’ said Talyc.
‘Where have I heard that before?’ teased Knarf.
‘I mean it. I need my head clear,’ said Talyc. ‘I need to figure out my feelings and my fears without it. You know how I get as much as I do. Every time I drink this much, someone tries to kill me, someone captures me, and I make a fool of myself or try to justify other emotions. From now on, no more. Nothing.’
‘You’re going to have to face those feelings and express them,’ said Knarf.
‘If I push Fane away,’ said Talyc, ‘it’s my choice, I’m choosing it. I’m not losing him, and he’s not leaving me. And then if he dies… I can’t think of that right now.’
‘You’re going to have to tell him what happened last night,’ said Knarf leaning forward. ‘He needs to know the truth. Before we leave for Mandalore.’
Talyc nodded. ‘I know. He deserves to know that he was right; I was unfaithful.’
‘No, you were not,’ said Knarf. ‘You were possessed with the dark side, the drink, and you refused to address how you felt. It was a brief moment, but in the end, circumstances helped you to not be unfaithful in the way Vax had claimed you’d been.’
‘It’s still being unfaithful,’ said Talyc. ‘I know you and Shadie see it that way. You don’t have to soften the blow for me. You can tell me how it is.’
Knarf nodded. He put a hand on Talyc’s shoulder. Talyc began to weep; Knarf took him in his arms.
‘Bes’laar, I’m such an idiot.’
There was a shuffle at the room’s doorway. Talyc lifted his head and saw Fane standing by the entrance, slowly walking in.
‘You’re my idiot,’ he said with a wan smile.
Talyc shook his head. Knarf got up and helped Talyc to his feet. He felt another wave of nausea, this time less intense. He looked at Knarf and nodded. Knarf nodded back and left the room.
‘I’ve said those words before,’ said Talyc, ‘and maybe I was your idiot then when you saved me, but not this time, not after what I’ve done.’ Talyc looked at the ground. ‘I wanted to hurt you, Fane, and give you what I thought you wanted.’ Talyc looked up at him. ‘I remember last night because I always remember when I drink. The only time I didn’t was when Relsor captured me.’ Talyc swallowed a belch. ‘No matter how much I drink, I never forget or drink into oblivion, and yet I try and try and try again. And last night was no different. I felt so hurt I wanted to inflict pain on you. That’s not right.’
‘I probably deserved that,’ said Fane.
Talyc shook his head. ‘You didn’t deserve what I did.’
They both stood silent for a moment.
Talyc steeled himself. ‘I kissed Vax.’ Fane inhaled a sharp breath. ‘I…did a bit more than just kiss him,’ Talyc continued. ‘He turned me down. I wanted to forget the pain.’ Fane let out a slow breath and sat down on the bed. Talyc could tell that he was trying to control the shock and dismay that Talyc saw on Fane’s face. ‘In that moment, I wanted to forget you.’
‘I know that sober you didn’t want him,’ said Fane. ‘It’s like a spell from the dark side, or so Knarf was vaguely explaining earlier. Now I understand what he was talking about.’ He sighed. ‘I drove you to him by believing his lies in the first place.’
‘No, but…I…’ Talyc could not find the courage to say the words. ‘I’m too hungover to have this conversation right now.’ He began towards the doorway into the next room.
‘Talyc!’ Fane called out, standing up.
‘Don’t say it.’ Talyc put up his hands, turning back to face him. ‘You’ll leave me, Vax is right, and I can’t deal with that.’
Fane shook his head. ‘I won’t leave you!’
‘We both know that you can’t promise me that. We both know that whether by your choosing or…his blade, you will be taken from me.’ Talyc wiped his eyes. ‘I’m going to Mandalore. I need to focus on my clan. I reckon I won’t see you again before the end.’ He could see Fane’s eyes swelling up with tears. ‘Fane, this is just easier for me, it’s just what I need to do.’
Talyc stared at Fane for a moment longer, watching his tears run down his face.
‘Am I still your man?’ Fane asked softly.
‘I don’t know,’ said Talyc, feeling his heart break. He felt himself shaking; he looked down. He needed his helmet, to hide within it, and he needed it now. He turned and left the room; he could hear Fane sobbing as he walked to the lounge and took the box that still contained his gloves, helmet and weapons.
‘I’m going to go get ready, Knarf, and I’d like you to come with me. Shadie, I’ll see you at the spaceport before we depart.’
Shadie looked concerned and Knarf embraced her as Talyc made his way out of the apartment, hurrying to get away as quickly as possible.
* * *
Shadie and Fane stood at the spaceport, as Talyc and Knarf made to depart. Vax was there with them, and Shadie couldn’t help but feel that her friends had left so many things unsaid.
‘Look out for him,’ she told her husband. He nodded. ‘Be safe.’
‘I will. You be safe too, my love.’
She kissed Knarf, feeling their love. She was going to miss him for however short or long a time she needed to be on Dromund Kaas waiting for the prototype.
‘They’re taking the Sphere?’ asked Vax.
‘Yes,’ said Shadie, ‘the Sphere will return for Fane and me later.’
Vax nodded. He walked up to Talyc, who looked grim. He embraced him.
‘Be well,’ said Vax, stepping back again. Talyc nodded.
‘Talyc!’ said Fane, taking a step towards him.
Talyc stared at Fane for a long moment. Shadie saw him swallow hard. ‘Goodbye, Fane.’ Talyc’s chest began heaving and he put his helmet on. ‘Come, Bes’laar.’
Talyc quickly turned and entered the Sphere. Knarf looked from Fane to Shadie and smiled with sympathy, then he entered the Sphere. It took off, and Shadie watched it leave the spaceport, her heart heavy with woe. Fane looked down.
‘That did not sound like the kind of goodbye you say to someone you wish to never see again,’ Shadie said.
‘I agree,’ said Vax. ‘It sounded like the kind of goodbye you say to someone you think is going to die.’ He turned to Fane. ‘And he fears with all his being that you will. Just thought you should know.’
Vax turned and walked away.
‘I know why he kissed Vax,’ said Fane. ‘Talyc is simply preparing for the eventuality, should Relsor kill me. He can’t bear to think of it so he’s trying to move on…before it happens, before it can truly hurt him, when he still has the choice and control.’
‘But it already hurts him,’ said Shadie.
‘He’s right to do so, you know.’ Fane looked up at her. ‘And so should you. If I am to die, everyone needs to prepare: the Republic, the Empire, Mandalore, the Chiss, the Hutts, the entire galaxy. Should I die…’ Fane swallowed hard.
‘Fane, you’re not going to be facing Relsor alone,’ said Shadie. ‘We’ll all be there with you. All of us who share the power of the Crypt. Me, Knarf, Brenum, Trylia, we’ll be right there by your side.’
‘But if Relsor does kill me,’ Fane began.
‘Then we’re as good as dead anyway! At least, I take solace in the fact that if he is Master of the Crypt again, perhaps, as he might be able to neutralise some of Lian’s power, Lian will be able to neutralise him and his powers, maybe even subdue them enough to save the galaxy. If not, the Force will perish. There will eventually be nothing left for the rest of us in this galaxy.’
‘If there is a way for you to make an escape, promise me you will,’ said Fane.
‘I promise, but not until I see the outcome of your duel,’ said Shadie.
Fane nodded. She took her friend into a warm embrace and caressed his head, trying to reassure him with what little energy she had at the moment. She felt stronger now, and she had absorbed much to allow her body to regenerate, but she also knew that if Fane died, no amount of energy would stop Relsor from draining her life.
Her comlink chimed and she looked at it. ‘Lord Void calls upon us to see him immediately.’
* * *
Fane’s heart sank. ‘That was quicker than anticipated.’
He and Shadie made their way to the Dark Lord’s office and they each took a seat.
‘So the prototypes have arrived?’ asked Fane, trepidation in his voice.
‘Actually, not yet. That’s not why I’ve called you here,’ replied Lord Void. Fane breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Master Usharr has been working on something for you. He has unlocked it for you.’
Lord Void reached down and opened a drawer of some sort. He placed a Sith Holocron on the desk.
‘What is that?’ asked Fane.
‘It’s a Sith Holocron,’ replied Lord Void, as though teaching a student.
‘Yes, I know that, but whose, and why?’
The lord smiled. ‘I’ll let you discover that for yourself. This Holocron is from the Dark Council archives, and only members of the Dark Council have access to it. Technically it mustn’t leave the Dark Council Chamber, but I made an exception, although it must not leave this office. It is for your use, Fane, and your use alone. You may use it in the secondary office right through there. When you activate it, let it probe you, and tell it you were once Darth Kromus’s apprentice. An ancient Sith Lord will appear. Tell the Holocron’s energy lord that you have known passion. Do you know the Sith Code?’
‘Yes,’ replied Fane, ‘Shadie taught me it perchance I may require it, and so that I can understand the Sith philosophy.’
‘Excellent. You will be asked to recite the Sith Code. Then you will be asked what your destiny is.’ Lord Void looked at Shadie. ‘Usharr believes this will be enough for a Jedi to unlock its secrets.’
‘What secrets are those?’ asked Shadie.
‘I am not at liberty to say. It is to the sole discretion of those who have discovered it to reveal how much they wish to be known. But Usharr has tested it of sorts, although he was not granted access, given he did not possess some of the…necessities.’
‘Did you try it,’ asked Shadie. ‘Were you granted these secrets?’ Lord Void merely stared back, but his lips momentarily quirked into a smile.
‘Will this change me? Make me dark side?’ asked Fane.
Lord Void chuckled. ‘The Jedi know so little about the dark side. It cannot turn you; you turn to it. I’m sure Shadie knew that, though I must admit, even several Sith don’t fully comprehend the nature of the dark side.’ He motioned to the room. ‘I must return this soon, so go.’
Fane took the Holocron in his hands and reluctantly left to enter the next room. He shut the door behind him. He did not sense any deception, though he was wary. He trusted Master Usharr, but he didn’t understand the secrecy, nor why only he should activate it.
He placed the Holocron on the table before him. Nothing happened. He sighed.
‘Why should a Sith Holocron help me?’ he asked himself.
He used the Force to reach towards it and activated it.
‘Are you worthy?’ came a voice.
‘I was apprenticed to Darth Kromus,’ said Fane, as he’d been instructed to do. Perhaps answering anything else would deviate the Holocron and lead him elsewhere, perhaps some unsafe place of its unknown knowledge.
‘Do you know the dark side?’ the voice spoke again. A lean hooded Sith appeared.
‘I have known passion,’ replied Fane.
‘Tell me then, how you came to feel it?’
‘Peace is a lie, there is only passion,’ began Fane. ‘Through passion, I gain strength; through strength, I gain power; through power, I gain victory; through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.’
‘What is your destiny?’
‘It is to fight Haar’elso’rothmor and attempt to rid the galaxy of his malady before his existence destroys the Force from within itself.’
The figure reached a hand towards Fane and filaments entered his body, reaching to his heart. Fane gasped, lifting into the air, arms and legs outstretched. He felt a grip within him, and for a moment he could not breathe, could not feel his limbs. Then he felt the filaments reaching to every cell in his body as red lightning began to dance all around him, and he groaned with pain; the sensation was something he had never felt in his life before, and he felt like he was about to die. At that moment, he understood what was happening to him.
* * *
Shadie waited with anticipation, looking from the door to Lord Void. She heard a groan and some noises as though Fane was in pain. She had heard those same sounds from him when he fought and was injured. She stood.
‘Shadie!’ Lord Void’s voice was stern. ‘Let him do this on his own.’
She looked from the door to Lord Void. ‘It would help if you told me what was happening to him in there,’ she said.
‘The secrets of the dark side are not to be shared so openly. Fane will know what is happening to him. Trust me, trust Usharr. Trust our alliance.’
Shadie hesitated, then sat back down. Several moments later, she heard gargling and the cackling of lightning. There was a thump. Several more moments passed. Then the crackling of lightning stopped, and Fane emerged from the room, looking…normal.
‘Fane,’ Shadie stood. ‘I heard things, are you all right?’
‘Well, there was lightning, and some pain, and a few other things,’ said Fane. ‘I’m all right.’
Fane shook his head. ‘I don’t quite know how to explain, and I don’t think I’m adept in the dark side enough to know for sure.’ He took out his comlink. ‘Lian, I need your help with something.’ He turned back to Shadie. ‘I need to be on my own.’ He nodded to Void, placing the Holocron on the Dark Lord’s desk, then left quickly, speaking to Lian as he did so.
Shadie turned to Lord Void; he was smiling, looking satisfied.
He nodded. ‘With Jedi Master Lian’s help, yes.’
‘You know what just happened,’ said Shadie. He nodded. ‘And?’
‘It is best few people know.’
‘Fine, keep your secrets,’ said Shadie. ‘I don’t like it, but he seems fine, and enthusiastic, which is a change from the past days. I’ll trust you. But if any ill comes to him because of this…’ She left her threat unvoiced.
‘It won’t,’ said Lord Void. ‘If anything, the opposite.’
“The Future of the Force” 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.