Knarf smiled. ‘Well, that sounds promising.’
‘It does,’ said Talyc. He was glad. ‘Thank you for taking some initiatives. I knew you’d make a good second leader.’
Talyc was hungry and he suggested they go for a bite to eat. At the caf, he noticed that Fane wasn’t very chatty. When inquiring, Fane had shrugged him off, claiming he felt uneasy on Dromund Kaas. Talyc couldn’t blame him, Sith everywhere, rain all the time, the place was gloomy and a reminder of potential doom. Talyc banished the thoughts of doom from his mind and refused to address the feelings they garnered.
When they were done eating and catching up, they walked towards the apartment complex. Lord Void had given Shadie, Knarf and Fane keys to an empty apartment where they could stay. Talyc would be allowed to join them provided guards were stationed outside their door.
Once his friends were a bit more settled in, the four of them went to find Vax to inform him of the progress of their potential temporary alliance.
The I.I. complex was empty at this later hour and few were walking about. Talyc found Vax sitting at a table, looking over a datapad. Vax beamed up at him and stood. Shadie was talking with Knarf and Fane, but Talyc wanted to share the news right away.
‘I’ve got good news,’ he said, walking up to Vax. ‘Lord Void has only to check in with the Dark Council as a formality, and then we should be good.’
‘That’s wonderful news!’ said Vax.
‘I suppose in a way we’ve got you to thank,’ said Talyc. ‘Things are looking up.’
‘Looking up indeed,’ said Vax. ‘Oh, come here.’ Vax took Talyc in a hug and held him tightly. ‘I’m so grateful we can have this despite everything else.’
‘So am I,’ said Talyc. He took Vax hand and squeezed, to show him he cared for this new friendship.
Vax smiled and kissed him on the cheek before departing, which took Talyc aback momentarily. Talyc remembered how Vax did tend to give formal kisses to many back in the day.
‘I saw that!’ Talyc turned to see Fane looking at him with anger in his eyes. He shook his head. ‘You and Vax!’
The implication of what Fane was saying set in and Talyc felt a rock in his stomach.
‘Fane, you’re imagining things,’ said Talyc.
* * *
Fane stared at Talyc who looked flushed. He observed him carefully, taking a few steps closer and lowering his voice. He worded his next question even more carefully.
‘Do you still have feelings for him?’
Talyc’s eyes went big for a moment; he opened his mouth and closed it again. Fane let out a shaking breath.
‘That was a little too long and you still haven’t answered, which tells me everything.’
‘What?’ said Talyc. ‘Fane, look, it’s complicated. We have a past, but I’m not in love with him. Maybe you have trouble understanding because you’ve never been with anyone else, but it’s difficult to explain, and of course, I care for him. We have a history, but that doesn’t matter, because it changes nothing to the way I feel about you!’
‘If you didn’t still love him, you would have answered “no” straight away,’ said Fane, his heart pounding quickly, feeling the anger rise within him. ‘It is not because I have never been with anyone else, don’t patronise me.’
‘Fane!’ said Talyc. ‘The reason I didn’t know what to answer is that it’s not easily worded and I want to be honest with you. You’re my man, I am truthful with you, and I’m not in love with Vax. Get that out of your head.’
‘The evidence speaks for itself,’ said Fane, raising his voice. ‘Is there anything going on between the two of you?’
Talyc shook his head. ‘What is this? You’re being petty and jealous.’
‘Answer the question!’
‘No! There is nothing going on!’
‘Fane,’ said Shadie, ‘remember how impulsive you can be when anger and fear swell inside of you. Don’t let it get to you.’
Fane looked at her. ‘You’re one to talk. The rage you feel, the dark side that always lives inside of you. This is not like the time I tried to kill you, Shadie, this is a question of trust being broken.’
‘I don’t know if I can deal with this right now,’ said Talyc, lifting his hands to his head, looking overwhelmed.
‘Maybe,’ said Knarf, ‘we should all calm down and consider the possibility that the dark side and Relsor’s influence might be at play here.’
‘The only one who might be at play here is Talyc, behind my back. Let’s ask Vax, shall we?’ Fane began in the direction Vax had gone. The others followed.
‘Fane, I swear, there is nothing going on between me and Vax!’
‘Don’t make me knock your heads together to knock some sense into you,’ said Knarf. ‘How is this getting so out of hand right now?’
Fane found Vax in one of the hallways near a monitor room. He looked as smug as ever, his bald grey head making his face and neck tattoos stand out even more under the lighting.
‘Vax!’ said Fane. ‘Tell me the truth: What’s going on between you and Talyc.’
‘We all have something that comes first,’ said Vax, avoiding the question, ‘for you it’s the Jedi Order, you serve it, you are loyal to it.’ Vax looked at Talyc. ‘He will always put the Jedi Order first before you, Talyc. He will never leave it for you.’
‘I will never leave the Jedi Order because I serve the Force and the light side,’ said Fane defensively.
‘We all have reasons,’ said Vax. ‘The first thing we dedicate our hearts to always stays in our hearts.’
‘I fail to see what this has to do with Talyc and Fane’s relationship,’ said Shadie.
‘Because it is the very reason Talyc and I rekindled our love,’ said Vax.
‘What? Vax?’ Talyc looked incredulous. ‘How dare you, no! Fane, don’t listen to him. This is untrue.’
‘We have history,’ said Vax, ‘and I have never stopped loving Talyc. Our feelings for each other are strong. If you need proof…’ Vax took a step towards Fane. ‘He has a scar on the back of his left thigh, and if you caress it in just the right way, then you’ve found one of his pleasure spots.’
Fane’s breath was shaking. He nodded.
‘I’ve had that for ages,’ said Talyc.
‘Would you like me to tell you about the time we kissed again for the first time in over a dozen years?’
Fane looked at Talyc, who shook his head. ‘Vax, please, don’t.’
‘Under the rain of Kaas City, in the empty streets at night, with only the music from the Cantina in the background.’
‘It’s not true!’ cried Talyc.
Fane probed Talyc with the Force. Whatever Vax was saying about this kiss was true. He sensed that it had happened and he could feel Vax’s memory of it through the Force.
‘Don’t lie to me, Talyc!’ Fane shouted.
‘Fane, I love you.’
‘Talyc and I are together again, and you were the last thing on his mind last night,’ Vax looked at Talyc, ‘when we were consummating our passion in my bed.’ Talyc punched Vax in the face. Vax turned his head to the side, bowing it slightly; his lips curled into an amused smile. ‘And a scornful lover is he.’
Fane took a few steps back. He noticed Shadie and Knarf looking from each of them to each other.
‘Fane, please,’ said Talyc, ‘you’re my man. There is nothing going on between me and Vax, these are all lies, a fabrication!’
‘Don’t believe me?’ said Vax. ‘Here,’ he tossed a datachip at Fane. ‘See for yourself.’ Vax turned to Talyc and put a hand on Talyc’s face and the other hand on his bum. Talyc stared at Vax but did not move away from him. Vax squeezed Talyc’s bum, bringing his lips so close to his but never kissing him. He whispered. ‘You’ll thank me later.’ Vax backed away and walked away.
Fane stood for a moment staring at Talyc, who in turn stood agape.
‘I sensed him through the Force, Talyc, he was telling the truth.’
‘The truth about what?’ asked Talyc, desperation in his voice. ‘There is no truth in what he was saying!’
Fane clenched his teeth. Perhaps the dark side was at work, but he could not deny the truth he had sensed. He turned and headed straight for the monitor room, looking at the datachip in his hand.
* * *
Talyc followed Fane into the monitor room, Shadie and Knarf hurried behind him.
‘Fane! You have to believe me!’ cried Talyc, his tone hurried. ‘I don’t know why Vax is saying those things. It’s not true.’
‘He seems to know a lot for someone who is lying,’ replied Fane.
‘We have a past relationship,’ said Talyc, his stomach clenching in knots.
‘Yeah, well, if his claims are false, then let’s see it,’ said Fane. ‘Let’s see who’s telling the truth, shall we?’
Fane inserted the datachip into the monitor. Shadie took a seat at one of the chairs and Knarf stood close to Talyc. Fane kept his eyes on the monitor screen. Talyc’s heart was beating fast and hard.
The holorecording showed a high angle in Vax’s bedroom, Vax was naked on top of a man, both had their arms and legs wrapped around each other and they were kissing each other fervently. The date on the bottom right corner was that of the previous night’s.
‘That’s not me,’ said Talyc. ‘Fane, I swear! I was not unfaithful to you, ever!’ Fane didn’t answer.
In the holorecording, Vax moved down the man’s chest, revealing the man’s face. Talyc recognised his own face as the Vax in the recording continued to pleasure Talyc lower on his body.
Fane turned his head to the side. ‘”It’s not me,” he says,’ he said in a dangerously low and level tone. He turned to face Talyc. ‘And yet that’s your face in that recording!’ Fane shouted, pointing at the monitor behind him.
‘Fane, I swear,’ Talyc shook his head. ‘I would not be unfaithful to you, you have to believe me,’ he pleaded.
‘You lied right to my face!’ shouted Fane. ‘You can’t possibly try to make me believe that that is not you when clearly it is.’
‘It’s me, but not from last night.’
‘Fascinating,’ whispered Knarf, moving closer to the holoscreen. ‘Then from when? Wait,’ Fane took a step towards Talyc, ‘you’re telling me you’ve been on Dromund Kaas before?’
‘Yes,’ said Talyc, ‘with Vax, over a dozen years ago. That’s when that kiss in the rain at night happened.’
‘You never told me about any bounties, missions or excursions on Dromund Kaas before. You expect me to believe you when you kept something from me?’
‘Fane! I try not to think about my time with Vax. He hurt me very much. He’s the reason why I was so scared about how I felt about you, why I’ve been so afraid that you’d choose the Order over me. Fane, you have to believe me, please!’
‘The holovid shows you and Vax together in bed and the date is from last night, and you expect me to believe you over the evidence?’
‘Fane, please!’ Talyc felt tears swelling in his eyes. He moved to Fane and put a hand on him. ‘You’re my man.’
Fane backed away abruptly. ‘Don’t touch me!’
Talyc’s breathing became erratic and he felt himself begin to shake. He took a few steps back. He was trembling.
‘You know I saw this coming, I felt it,’ said Fane. ‘I could sense that you still had feelings for Vax. I had chalked it off as nostalgia for those times but that you had moved on, that your love for me was so true that he could not win you over again. I guess I was wrong.’
‘Fane, the love I once had for Vax is nothing in comparison to the love I have for you today. You changed everything for me.’
‘Aha, I’ve got it!’ exclaimed Knarf. Talyc hadn’t even noticed that Knarf had been fiddling with the display monitor. ‘Okay, now look at this.’
The holorecording morphed into two side by side recordings: one of them was of Talyc and Vax, and another of Vax’s empty room.
‘Look at the date here, where Vax and Talyc are together,’ said Knarf pointing at the screen. The date indicated the time Talyc had been with Vax. Talyc tried not to focus on what he and Vax were doing in the recording. It was very personal, a memory he had forgotten and replaced with similar moments shared with Fane. ‘Now look here.’ Knarf pointed at the second recording. ‘Last night, nothing.’
Talyc didn’t know if he felt relieved or defeated. It seemed as though time had stilled and everyone stared at the two displays before them. Talyc’s shoulders slumped, he felt emotionally drained.
Fane turned slowly back towards Talyc, dismay on his face. ‘Talyc, I’m so sorry.’
Talyc wiped his eyes and stared at Fane. ‘You didn’t believe me. After everything we’ve been through together. It was almost as though you didn’t want to believe me.’ Talyc shook his head, backing away. ‘Maybe Vax is right; you’re looking for any excuse to leave me. Well, you know what? The Jedi Order can have you.’ He clenched his teeth. ‘And so can Relsor!’ Talyc turned to go.
‘Talyc!’ Fane called out.
Talyc stepped out of the room and leaned against the wall, heaving. He looked back and saw Shadie put her hand on Fane’s shoulder.
‘Let him be, he needs some time to digest what’s happened.’
‘I’m such an idiot,’ said Fane.
Talyc left, hearing Shadie reassure Fane that it would be all right, but Talyc didn’t know if it would ever again be all right. He wished he had his armour, for he felt his tears pouring down his face, and he wished he could hide his face.
Talyc took a taxi to the apartment complex. He needed to find Vax; he needed to understand why he’d done all that. He made his way to Vax’s apartment and found the agent within.
‘Why?’ he asked as soon as the opened.
Vax stared at him for a moment, probably noticing all the dry tears that had run down his face. Talyc let himself in and repeated the question.
‘Why did you do it, Vax? Why!’
‘To make you see that he’s not going to choose you over his duties,’ said Vax.
‘You mean like you failed to do?’
‘That was the biggest mistake of my life,’ said Vax. ‘Talyc, leaving you was the most difficult thing I’ve had to do in all my life. I lost you, and I regretted it.’
‘So you want to prove a point that Fane will do the same and you think that I’ll trust you over him? That I’ll trust that you won’t do it again?’
‘I’ve learnt my lesson! I had to try to win you back somehow.’
‘Oh, you’re unbelievable.’ Talyc laughed in disbelief, raising his hands and dropping them again. He was bewildered, devastated, angry and afraid. ‘And you thought you’d put together some evidence to try to rip us apart.’
‘Fane seemed very quick to turn on you when I suggested the affair,’ said Vax. ‘I’m guessing you saw through the sliced recording?’
‘Knarf did. I did. I’m pretty sure Shadie did too.’
Talyc stared at Vax and felt tears swell in his eyes. ‘He didn’t believe me.’ His voice cracked as he said it. A tear ran down his face and he closed his eyes. He felt Vax approach and wipe Talyc’s tears.
Talyc opened his eyes and walked to the lounge and sat down. Vax sat on the seat across it, his knees brushing against Talyc’s.
‘It was as though he wanted it to be true, no matter how much I pleaded,’ said Talyc.
‘Oh, Talyc, I am sorry, you know, I just had to… At least now you know the truth.’
‘Yeah, maybe,’ said Talyc. He bowed his head. ‘Makes me wonder if he was looking for an excuse to leave me.’
There was a silence. Then Vax spoke.
‘I loved you so much, and I was so scared. I never thought I would leave you. In my mind, you were it. And then that day came when I had to choose because I was afraid you would not accept who I was. I… The last thing I wanted to do was hurt you and I regret it to this day. I guess I just don’t know how to go about things, and when I’m around you, I become stupid, reckless.’ Vax leaned forward. ‘Talyc, I have never stopped loving you.’ He put his hand on Talyc’s face. ‘And I promise I will leave the Empire for you.’
‘I can’t ask you to be something or someone you’re not,’ said Talyc.
‘I considered writing to you after I learnt about your capture and rescue, I wanted to reach out to you, but I didn’t know how you’d feel, how you’d react. It broke my heart.’
‘Why didn’t you just tell me?’ Talyc asked, looking at Vax.
‘I did, but only in so many words. You made it clear that Fane was devoted to you, something I had failed to be for you when you were mine. I wanted to test him, test you.’ Vax leaned his forehead on Talyc’s. ‘I am a fool, a stupid fool. But I love you and I promise I’ll be everything you want me to be, everything you need me to be if you choose me. And no matter what happens, I will continue to love you and look out for you and try to make amends for what I did back then.’
Talyc sighed. ‘I loved you so much. You hurt me so much. I couldn’t trust anyone anymore after that. There was a gaping hole inside of me and I didn’t understand why. You said you would always be there and you spoke long term, making me feel as though you wanted to spend the rest of your life with me.’
‘I did, and then that mission came, and I was too scared to be honest with you. So I legged it, fooling myself into believing our gallivants were nothing more than fun.’
Talyc opened his eyes and saw tears run down Vax’s face. He knew he was being truthful. He leaned back to look into Vax’s eyes properly. Vax kept his hand on Talyc’s face.
‘After you left, after waking up and realising you’d gone and that you’d never come back, I searched Mandalore for you, telling myself you hadn’t left the planet yet. I could never commit to anyone again; I could not attach myself to one person. I kept having fun, with men, women, of all species. Mostly men. Trying to forget, trying to have fun, hoping to find what I felt with you with someone else, anyone, and yet hoping I would never again feel that way.’
‘I’m sorry,’ whispered Vax.
Talyc put his hand on Vax’s hand and moved it from his face to his lap, looking down at it.
‘When I met Fane, I was so scared, and I tried to forget and deny. I think I had more adventures with more people during those first two years he lived on Mandalore. And then Relsor happened. He killed Kelbourn, and I lost the one person closest to me: my cousin.’ He looked up at Vax again. ‘I was Force-pushed off the edge of a roof on Coruscant; I was plummeting to my death. And then I felt a grip, as though something had latched me into some sort of invisible hold. The Force. I was inches away from the ground, and then rising back up, alive, not dead. I would be dead if not for Fane. That’s when I realised that I felt for someone else what I had once felt for you. Only stronger this time.’
Vax looked down and nodded.
‘I tried to convince myself that I was infatuated because he had saved my life,’ continued Talyc. ‘And I think a part of me is still infatuated with you because you saved my life and because of the love I still feel for you. But I am in love with Fane, and I feel it in all my being, sometimes as though I had the Force, even though there is no chance of that, a true bond of love, a truer love than I could have hoped to have or imagined.’
Talyc let go of Vax’s hand.
‘I understand,’ said Vax.
‘I will always have feelings for you, Vax, and it might be tempting for me to try to rekindle what we once had with you because of how you feel about me and because of what has happened with Fane tonight, but I would be lying to you because my heart rests with that Jedi.’
Vax nodded. ‘That’s me being told then,’ he smiled meagrely. ‘You have chosen. And it’s not me. I only hope that you can forgive me in time for all my wrongs.’
‘Vax, I do forgive you.’
‘Do you forgive him?‘
‘I’m not sure yet,’ Talyc admitted. ‘While I might consider replacing him with you because of all that’s happened, I wouldn’t want to lie to you if I was with you and in love with someone else.’ Talyc shook his head. ‘I’m sorry. This whole thing’s a mess. I… I don’t know how Fane and I can get past this.’
Vax took Talyc’s hand. ‘I know you, and I know how you are when you’re upset. If you truly love Fane, you need to tell him, you need to forgive him.’
‘Talyc, if the worst were to happen when he fights Relsor, you would never forgive yourself for not telling him how much you loved him, for not reconciling with him.’
‘Maybe I’m so scared to lose him that it’s easier for me to pretend we have no future!’
Talyc broke down crying and Vax took him in his arms.
‘It’s okay,’ Vax whispered. Talyc cried for a good while. ‘You need to tell him how you feel.’ Vax took Talyc’s face in both hands. ‘Despite everything, I want you to be happy.’ Talyc nodded.
Suddenly, there was a crash through the transparisteel. Vax jerked back, startled, and Talyc stood, backing away. Fane landed between the two of them and pushed Vax away with the Force. Talyc knew how this probably looked to Fane, but the impulsive haste of it all was too much for him to bear.
‘Fane! What in the kark!’
‘Talyc, don’t listen to him. He’ll turn you against me! He’s poison! Like the dark side! I’m sorry, Talyc!’
‘Again, you’re believing the wrong thing, but is there any point in me trying to convince you. You are poisoned by the dark side right now, not me!’
‘Talyc, I’m sorry.’ Fane sighed. ‘Come, let’s talk.’ Talyc shook his head. ‘Talyc, I’m your man!’
‘My man is supposed to believe me! My man is supposed to trust me!’
Vax stood and marched to Fane. ‘I hope you’re going to pay for that.’ He brushed little pieces of broken transparisteel off his chest. ‘Talyc, you need to tell him.’
‘Tell me what?’ Fane’s tone indicated he was suspicious again and it was too much for Talyc to bear right now.
‘You know what,’ he said, ‘I can’t! I just can’t right now.’ He started out of the apartment.
‘Talyc!’ both called out to him.
Talyc turned, walking backwards. ‘I don’t want to speak to either of you right now. I just need to be on my own.’
He left and went to find the Cantina, where he could get to his old habits and drink his sorrows away.
* * *
Fane ran out into the hall, Vax followed behind him.
‘Let him be,’ said Vax.
Fane whirled on the man. ‘Why? So you can have him all to yourself?’
‘Believe it or not,’ said Vax, ‘I want to respect him and I am sorry for the way I’ve acted. I was convinced you were going to make the same mistake I did. I misjudged you, and for that, I am truly sorry…for real.’
Fane turned back towards Talyc but he was gone. ‘Great!’ he muttered under his breath.
‘He chose you!‘ said Vax. Fane turned to him again. ‘He loves you and wants you.’
‘He’s got a funny way of showing it,’ said Fane.
‘Can you blame him? You doubted him, and it has hurt him.’
Fane looked down and took a deep breath. ‘You probably hope Relsor’s going to kill me.’
‘Actually, no. If I can’t have Talyc, I want him to be with a man who truly loves him, whom he truly loves. That’s you.’ Vax paused. ‘You and I were perhaps once enemies, but we both love the same man and we both want him to be kept safe. And I want him to be happy. Make sure you stay alive for that, eh.’
Vax turned to go but before he got far, Shadie veered the corner; she was alone.
‘There you are,’ she said. ‘I’ve been that worried about you, Fane.’ She looked at Vax and narrowed her eyes.
‘It’s all right,’ said Fane.
‘Have you found Talyc?’ she asked.
‘He was here a few minutes earlier,’ said Vax.
‘Well, with us,’ said Fane. Shadie nodded. ‘Shadie, what’s wrong?’
‘Well, Knarf went out to find him too, but now I can’t find Knarf. For some reason, he’s not answering his comlink.’
Fane shrugged; Vax shook his head. His comlink chimed. Vax activated it.
‘Cypher Five,’ came the Minster’s voice.
‘You need to find the Jedi and inform them immediately that Cypher Three has seen the Sith apprentice Awgro on Dromund Kaas.’
‘What? Where?’ Vax asked in alarm.
‘Near Kaas City. Cypher Three just reported in. As he made the call, he lost the Sith from his view. I have informed Lord Void. I think it’s safe to say that Clan Leader Talyc Kandera is in danger so long as Awgro has not been apprehended.’
‘Understood,’ said Vax, his voice shaking. He closed the call. He was already punching in another code. ‘Talyc? Talyc, are you there?’
Fane tried to raise Talyc as well. Simultaneously they called out his name.
‘I don’t think he wants to hear from either of us via comlink either,’ said Fane.
‘I’ll call him,’ said Shadie. ‘Talyc. Talyc!’ But there was no answer to the call. ‘I think we have a problem.’
“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.