Chapter Five

Talyc sat with Vax in the cantina in Kaas City. They had just finished a game of Deejarik and Talyc had lost miserably. They were sipping some particularly good brandy, but the barkeep wouldn’t tell them where it was from. Talyc wondered if that meant he probably didn’t want to know.
            ‘I’ll expect a rematch,’ said Talyc.
            ‘I didn’t expect you to be so sour at losing a game of Deejarik,’ said Vax.
            ‘Hey, I have a reputation to uphold. I need to win back my score,’ laughed Talyc.
            ‘You’re just looking for an excuse to have a handsome face to look at while you’re pining over your man,’ Vax teased.
            ‘I’m not pining!’
            ‘At least you’re not denying my good looks,’ laughed Vax.
            ‘That would be difficult to do,’ said Talyc. ‘You are after all easy on the eyes.’
            ‘I’m not the only one,’ said Vax.
            Talyc looked at his glass, feeling himself blush. ‘That barkeep has a secret about this brandy and I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.’
            ‘Don’t change the subject, Talyc. Admit it, you’ve enjoyed being by my side.’
            ‘Sure, I’ve had a ball of a time being a semi-captive,’ said Talyc with humoured sarcasm. Vax cocked his brow. ‘In all seriousness, I have enjoyed myself. It’s been like a vacation of sorts. Can’t remember the last time I had one of those. Even if I’m at home doing almost nothing, I’m still the clan leader and always busy with the clan.’
            ‘We make a good team,’ said Vax.
            ‘We’ve always made a good team,’ said Talyc.
            Vax’s comlink chimed and he checked his datapad. ‘The Minister requires to meet with me, and on my day off. I’m afraid I’m going to have to love you and leave you.’ Vax winced, catching himself, Talyc saw. ‘I’m sorry, that’s not the best expression to use, considering.’
            ‘It’s all right,’ said Talyc. ‘I know what you meant.’
            ‘I’m not leaving,’ said Vax.
            ‘Hardly,’ said Talyc, ‘you’re the one in charge of keeping an eye on me.’ Talyc chuckled. ‘Go to your meeting. I’ll be here or about.’
            Vax stood, backing away a bit, then he turned and left more briskly. Talyc finished his drink and then exited the cantina. He looked around Kaas City; it always looked the same. Then he saw a Sith meditation Sphere enter the atmosphere and his heart leapt. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. At last, Lord Void had pulled through and had called upon Shadie and the others to come for him. Talyc hurried to the spaceport.

* * *

            Fane was certain his trepidation and irritation could be felt through the Force. Fane was beginning to wonder if Shadie had rubbed off on him. Knarf kept telling him to relax, that Talyc was alive and well, and that there was nothing to worry about.
            ‘You look less bleak,’ Fane told Shadie.
            ‘The dark side here is actually helping me with the dark side part of the abilities I need to use on myself to counter Relsor’s powers,’ she replied, more of her usual enthusiasm back in her voice. ‘I’m allowing myself to absorb it a bit, and it’s fuelling me what I need for now.’
            ‘As long as you don’t need too much of the dark side,’ said Knarf.
            ‘What is it you always tell me? Don’t worry, my love.’ Shadie kissed Knarf on the cheek.
            They walked a bit and arrived at a lift; it brought them to the main level of the spaceport. When they arrived at the main lobby, Fane saw Talyc looking around, and he locked eyes with him. Talyc stood staring at him for a moment. Fane ran to him and wrapped his arms around him and held him tightly.
            ‘Fane, my man!’ Talyc said, returning the embrace. Fane felt Talyc’s tears on his shoulder. Talyc pulled away and kissed Fane.
            ‘I thought I had lost you,’ said Fane.
            Talyc shook his head. ‘Turns out I’ve got a few protectors saving my life.’ Fane smiled and kissed Talyc again.
            Talyc then embraced Shadie and Knarf. ‘Bes’laar!’
            ‘So, I learnt something very interesting,’ said Knarf. ‘Apparently, I’m the clan’s second leader.’
            Talyc chuckled. ‘Yeah, sorry there was nothing official. I was hesitating naming someone new since Nriwe is less available for the clan and I wanted to run it past her first. She did insist I name you, knowing you were the one I wanted to promote. I just never got around to telling you, and well, when Lord Void asked me who the second was, I named you. So now it’s official.’
            ‘I’m honoured! We’ve got your helmet, by the way.’ Knarf lifted the helmet in question. ‘But we were told we’re not allowed to give it to you yet, not until an alliance of sorts is established, or something like that.’
            ‘Where’s the rest of your armour?’ asked Shadie.
            ‘It’s with me!’ said Vax, arriving on the scene. Fane stiffened.
            ‘Vax,’ said Shadie, crossing her arms and looking stern.
            ‘Shadie,’ said Vax. ‘Agent Knarf, handsome as ever.’ Knarf nodded in thanks. ‘Fane.’
            ‘Save the compliments,’ said Fane, eyeing the Rattataki suspiciously.
            ‘Look, we’re going to be allies,’ said Vax.
            ‘Vax is right,’ said Talyc, ‘we need to get along. Vax and I have…patched things up. He’s been great this whole week. It’s been a vacation, honestly; I’m fine. His place is like a hotel.’
            ‘You’ve stayed with him?’ said Fane.
            ‘As my guest, under guard,’ said Vax.
            ‘More importantly,’ said Shadie, matching Fane’s upset tone, ‘you were safe and the Empire didn’t think to tell us, that perhaps you were alive and Awgro didn’t have you?’
            ‘I apologise,’ said Vax, bowing from the waist. ‘I was under strict orders once I had brought him to Dromund Kaas, and Lord Void wanted to follow a certain procedure.’
            ‘Strict orders?’ said Fane. He marched up to Vax. ‘You took Talyc. You captured him. And brought him here of your own volition.’ Vax cleared his throat.
            Talyc took Fane’s hand. ‘Fane, he saved my life. Something for which I have much gratitude. Let’s not let the details tarnish this potential alliance. We need Vax and the Empire’s help right now as much as they need us.’
            Fane watched Vax and Talyc carefully, and listened intently to each word as they explained a bit more.
            ‘Yes, I’m sure a mutual need is reflected and understood,’ said Fane.
            He didn’t like the way Talyc and Vax were friendly, as though being kidnapped had not phased him one bit, as though Ziost or Vax infiltrating the Mandalorian clans had no bearings whatsoever.
            ‘What about what Vax knows about Mandalore?’ asked Fane.
            ‘We’ve discussed that,’ said Talyc, ‘and he has told me everything he knew and found out. I trust that he has not left anything out.’
            ‘I thought Awgro had you, Talyc. I thought you were suffering, or dead.’
            ‘I know,’ said Talyc. ‘I wasn’t allowed to make any calls. I’m sorry.’
            ‘He was in good hands,’ said Vax, placing his hand on Talyc’s back, and rubbing gently. He looked at Fane. ‘I took good care of him in your absence, lodged him, fed him. All his needs were met.’
            Vax smiled, he looked at Talyc and winked.
            ‘And then some,’ said Talyc. ‘All I need now is to win our next game of Deejarik.’
            ‘If it’ll make you a content man,’ said Vax, motioning to the others to follows.
            ‘Is he doing it on purpose?’ Shadie muttered under her breath.
            ‘So I’m not the only one who noticed?’ Knarf replied, matching her low volume.
            ‘I don’t trust him,’ Fane whispered back.
            Vax still had his hand on Talyc; he let it slide down and touch Talyc’s hand before he took the lead and bade them follow him to the Imperial Intelligence complex. Talyc turned and reached for Fane’s hand. Fane took it reluctantly. Something wasn’t sitting right, perhaps he was merely jealous, but something was amiss.

* * *

            Vax led the group to the Sith complex, making idle chit-chat, explaining that he had been instructed to bring them before Lord Void but that he had not been not invited to their private meeting. He speculated it was a good sign, though Shadie needn’t any reassurances about that. She did not know how much others knew of her previous affiliation with Void, but Vax did mention that Usharr’s involvement in exposing Relsor’s deceitful plans for the Empire had garnered trust with Void. Apparently, Usharr had been vouching for Shadie and her friends with the Dark Council.
            When they arrived at Lord Void’s private office, Vax motioned a hand forward and said his farewells. Knarf handed him Talyc’s helmet to place with the rest of his armour.
            ‘I’ll see you all later,’ Vax said.
            He turned to go. Talyc took his hand and Shadie noticed the gentle squeeze.
            ‘Thank you,’ said Talyc. Vax smiled and left.
            Fane was staring at Talyc who stood in the doorway before the clan leader made his way into the room.
            ‘Whatever it is,’ Shadie whispered to Fane, ‘I’m sure it’s nothing, at least for Talyc.’
            ‘You’ve got to admit, it’s not a good look if you’re noticing it too,’ said Fane.
            ‘I’m noticing you,’ said Shadie.
            Lord Void made a hand gesture and the door behind them shut.
            ‘We may speak freely,’ he announced. ‘We will not be listened in on or watched.’ He stood from his seat and bowed politely. ‘First off, I must again apologise for Cypher Five’s impulsive behaviour. While his actions in saving Talyc’s life are to be commended, his recklessness was duly noted. Awgro had requested a Cypher Agent, and given Cypher Five’s knowledge of Mandalore, he had requested him. I don’t think Awgro had anticipated Cypher Five would prevent him from accomplishing his mission.’
            Lord Void invited them to sit, as he himself sat back down. ‘I’ve taken advantage of the situation to make our affiliation more public. Any rumours that Awgro may have spread have been explained by our mutual association with Usharr, and given the old master exposed Relsor’s deceit, he is held in high regard. He was a loud voice on the Dark Council, insisting that I strongly consider an alliance with you, Shadie. Of course, the four of us and he know well we were already aligned of sorts, but the others don’t know that. I admitted having been put in contact with you by Usharr and that I may have been testing your trust. Anything else is unknown and unimportant to the eyes of many. By the way, how are Jedi Brenum and Trylia?’
            ‘They are well,’ said Shadie. ‘They are searching Mandalore for Awgro as we speak.’
            Lord Void shook his head. ‘It is unlikely he is still on Mandalore after all these days. That is why many agents and many more Sith are keeping watch all over Dromund Kaas. Talyc will be safe here for now, and Awgro will be seen.’
            ‘We might have been able to apprehend him had you contacted us earlier and informed us that Talyc was safe,’ Fane said defensively.
            ‘You might not have been as safe attempting to capture Awgro rather than assuming he had gone,’ said Lord Void. ‘I chose not to contact you right away knowing my apprentice would flee in secret. I was avoiding putting your life in jeopardy. Given your destiny, Jedi Fane, I wasn’t willing to take that risk. I’m sure you can understand that.’ Fane nodded.
            ‘Do you know why Awgro is trying to kill Talyc and not his mother?’ asked Knarf.
            ‘I suspect it is because Awgro never knew his mother. Therefore killing her would not do anything in terms of any trials for the Crypt. The person related to him by blood whom he knows best and whom he has been closest to – if we can call it that – is Talyc.’
            Shadie nodded. She winced and took a deep breath, feeling a little queasy, and then it passed.
            ‘Are you all right, Shadie?’ Lord Void inquired.
            ‘It’s Relsor. On Ziost we discovered that two masters of the Crypt, if still alive, can connect through the Force. He has found a way to find me while remaining shrouded. He is attempting to kill me so that he becomes Master of the Crypt again.’
            ‘Charming,’ said Lord Void. ‘Two Sith trying to take over your Crypt.’
            ‘I learnt some sort of combination of light and dark side ability, a new one, to help. Somehow, since I’m more light now, I was having trouble channelling the dark side I needed, but the dark side here is helping me a bit.’
            ‘Good, then take advantage of your stay and absorb as much dark side powers as you require; you may be here for some time. The Chiss’s prototype is coming along, but it won’t be ready for some time yet.’
            ‘I don’t want to have to stay here longer than we have to,’ said Fane.
            ‘We’re in good hands,’ said Talyc. ‘I don’t mind staying here as long as is necessary.’
            ‘No, I’m sure you don’t,’ replied Fane. Talyc scowled but didn’t answer.
            ‘Don’t be alarmed, Shadie, but many might refer to you as Darth Shadie,’ explained Lord Void. ‘There are those who are hopeful that you three will turn back to the dark side. They hold you in high regard, given your reputations, your past, who you are,’ he looked at Fane, ‘your destinies. Those who would not wish for your presence here in Imperial Space are quickly silenced by the hopefuls who have found many arguments as to why it is beneficial for you to be here and for you to be allied with us. The Mandalorian argument helps, but for Jedi Fane, not only are you destined to fight Relsor, you and Shadie had the same master; they are hopeful for you as well.’
            ‘What? Because of Master Juun Kloh?’ said Fane.
            Lord Void chuckled. ‘Kromus.’
            ‘You three have once touched the dark side and hence are not pure light side, and that is an explanation that elevates you among the citizens of the Empire. It garners respect from them towards you, regardless of whether you would ever turn back to the dark side or not. They still hold you in high esteem.’
            ‘Except I never really was dark side,’ said Knarf, ‘I just pretended with Relsor.’
            ‘Does it matter?’ said Lord Void. ‘People respect you, people will want to speak with you, take a holo with you, spread the word that they met Darth Shadie, Agent Knarf and Jedi Fane. As far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t matter why; all that matters is that people respect my decision in an alliance. And making our affiliation open makes communication easier. You’ll give my regards to Jedi Master Lian and his wife and daughter for me. Again, I apologise for intruding, but those were more secretive times. In a way, Cypher Five did us a favour.’
            Fane looked at Talyc. ‘Perhaps he has.’ His voice was steady but grave.
            ‘And what about me?’ said Talyc. ‘I’m not Force-sensitive; I hope I won’t jeopardise this alliance.’
            Lord Void shook his head. ‘You’re part of the team. Anyway, we need to make it look as though we are negotiating terms for this alliance, to justify me sharing the Chiss prototype with you. You will have enough prototypes to share with your allies at your discretion.’ Shadie knew he meant the Republic. ‘I cannot lift the temporary guarding of Talyc yet; I need to take things back to the Dark Council first. What can Mandalore offer the Empire that will make this alliance worth it for us to share these prototypes and return Talyc to you?’
            ‘Well, I’m going to kill Relsor,’ Fane said matter-of-factly.
            ‘If you succeed.’ Lord Void was blunt, but he spoke true of a possibility even Shadie did not want to think of. She put a hand on Fane’s shoulder, letting him know she believed in him. She saw Talyc stir uneasily and suspected he was having a hard time dealing with this possible outcome. ‘We did not question or torture Talyc, and Cypher Five has already shared with him, as per my and the Minister of Intelligence’s approval, what he had learnt about Mandalore when he infiltrated the clans.’
            ‘We can’t offer anything that will go against the Republic,’ said Shadie. ‘They are our allies.’ Lord Void nodded his understanding.
            ‘Mandalore did make a list of things he is willing to share,’ said Knarf, ‘like beskar’gam. Clan Kandera has also drawn up a list of potential items and knowledge we have that might help the Empire. Your alliance would be less with Mandalore itself, but more so with Clan Kandera.’
            ‘That sounds interesting,’ said Lord Void, pursing his lips.
            They discussed at length the ins and outs and all the finer details of their alliance, most of which were cosmetic, but there were a few secrets Mandalore had been willing to share, given he would have many more that would be unknown to even his closest allies. Lord Void took note of it all. Then he dismissed them and promised he would have an answer for them as soon as possible.

“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.

You might also enjoy other SWTOR fanficsDragon Age Fan-Fiction short stories,  Mass Effect Fan-Fiction, or Stardust Destinies the High Fantasy Fiction series.

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