Seven months after Relsor’s defeat.
Talyc stood trying out his new suit. It looked strange to be dressed so formally. He was used to his armour or casual clothes, not anything this fancy. Fane whistled at him as Knarf kept pouring in the compliments. The ladies were eyeing him as though he were candy in a candy store.
‘I see the way you’re looking at me,’ he said to them.
‘I was just thinking Knarf should dress like that,’ said Shadie.
‘And so should Lian,’ said Nriwe.
‘And I can’t wait to see you both dressed handsomely,’ said Alegna. ‘Oh, but it is a shame.’
‘What’s a shame!’ said Fane.
‘That both of you are spoken for, of course!’ Alegna winked. Talyc shook his head.
‘Well, I’ve asked Lian to officiate and he accepted,’ said Talyc. He turned to Nriwe. ‘Are you certain he doesn’t feel left out? I mean, ceremony at the Crypt and party on Mandalore.’
‘He understands,’ said Nriwe. She walked to him and placed her hands on his shoulders. ‘He’s getting used to it anyway. Thera is going to stay with her father so that I can join you for the after-party. Void is probably going to stay at the Crypt as well. I don’t think he’s much of a party-goer.’
‘You think?’ said Knarf.
‘Lian knows you can’t have all the clans at the Crypt. He’s happy to be able to be a part of your special day in some way.’
‘In some way?’ said Fane. ‘He’s a major part of it!’
Alegna looked at her datapad at then brought her eyes back up. ‘We have developments! A contact of mine on Nar Shaddaa, a dancer, claims that she overheard one of the Hutts discussing with a woman called Maranna via holocall, only audio. Apparently, this woman requires regular maintenance for her ship and picks up supplies from that Hutt’s cargo ships.’
‘This means that if it’s Maranna, then she’s never left her ship,’ said Shadie, ‘and that she probably jumps here and there like Relsor did to remain undetected.’
‘It’s good to know she has contacts with the Hutts,’ said Knarf. ‘Maybe affiliates from earlier in her life? Who knows what her story is.’
‘Yeah, well get this,’ Alegna continued, ‘the Hutt addressed Maranna by her name and told her that her payment was late and that if it didn’t come through, that next time she required anything, he would need her to work for him serving tables or dancing.’
‘I’m guessing she’s going to choose the former,’ said Nriwe. ‘Had I had the choice, I know that’s what I would have chosen, back in the day.”
‘So when do you think she might end up docking at Nar Shaddaa?’ asked Fane.
‘Beats me, could be next week like it could be next year,’ Alegna replied. ‘Should I go there, station myself with my contacts?’
‘No,’ said Talyc, ‘we want you at the wedding. It can wait.’
‘I can inform Storimbu and the others to keep an eye out for a ship arriving near Nar Shaddaa, or one that keeps making hyperspace jumps at random intervals,’ Shadie assured.
‘Let’s not forget it might have stealth capabilities,’ said Fane. ‘Even if our allies have used anti-stealth prototypes, she’s still managed to evade. She’s hiding and she’s good at it.’
‘Does Awgro know about the child?’ asked Alegna.
‘Unfortunately, chances are he does,’ replied Knarf. ‘Storm told us that a few remnant True Sith who decided to leave their former faction and return to Sith Space claim that the other remnant True Sith have joined Awgro. They’re calling themselves the Reformed Sith.’
‘Great,’ said Nriwe, ‘so he probably knows the kid’s Chiss too.’
‘These former True Sith,’ Talyc began, ‘are they allied with the Protectors of the Force?’
‘No, but they divulged some information one night when Storm got them drunk.’ Knarf chuckled.
‘In the holovid,’ said Nriwe, ‘the child Maranna was holding was too big to be a newborn. My guess is it was around one, if not a bit more. A child of a Force-user, a powerful one, if Thera is anything to go by, would develop more quickly than a non-Force-sensitive child. My guess is that child is perhaps two now, probably knows how to walk, how to talk, might even look a bit older.’
‘I’ll let Storimbu know what to look out for,’ said Shadie.
Fane sighed. ‘It’s ironic, isn’t it, how we spent so many years trying to destroy this child’s father, and now we’re trying to protect it? That kid’s going to hate me.’
‘It’s not going to hate you, Fane,’ said Talyc. ‘That child will surely understand. Or at least will later on in its life. You saved the galaxy. You had no other choice. And that child will be a lot safer with us than with Awgro. If Awgro finds the child first, then chances are Maranna and the child will hate you and come after us.’
‘So it’s a race of who can convince the two of them to be an ally first?’ asked Fane.
‘We’re not going to force Maranna or her child to do anything they don’t want,’ Shadie reminded them. ‘I promise. We just want them to know they are being hunted, offer them our protection, but ultimately, if Maranna chooses otherwise, we can’t force her to come with us.’
Fane shook his head. ‘It all worries me.’
‘Well, worry about it later,’ said Knarf, ‘because the two of you have a special day coming up. Focus on that, on your love, on your happiness. We’ll worry about the rest later.’
Fane smiled; he looked so handsome. Talyc was grateful for his friends. He looked at himself again.
‘It’s missing a bit of a Mandalorian touch-up,’ he said, smoothing out the creases in his shirt.
‘Want me to put a blaster mark on it?’ Knarf said chuckling.
‘You know what, that gives me an idea!’
One week later.
Fane stood facing Talyc as Lian pronounced them husbands, standing before many of their friends in the Crypt’s eternal chamber. Talyc was kissing Fane before he could register what many of the others were saying.
‘He literally plunged towards you!’ Knarf called out.
Fane laughed, keeping his lips on his new husband. Talyc chuckled with glee and the two embraced. There were shouts of endearment around them.
After everyone congratulated them, they made preparations to head back to Mandalore.
‘Do you require a private shuttle for the trip?’ teased Knarf.
‘I think I’ll hold up until we head home later tonight,’ said Talyc.
‘My money’s on them leaving the party early,’ said Nriwe.
‘Why would they leave the party early?’ asked Thera. ‘If it were my party, I’d stay until I was the last one there!’
‘Oh, you’ve got yourself a party warrior there, Lian,’ laughed Shadie.
‘She must take after her Aunt Shadie, then,’ replied Lian. Shadie made a face in mock dismissal.
Nriwe embraced her husband and daughter before trotting up to Fane and Talyc, putting her arms around their shoulders.
‘Gentlemen,’ she said, ‘gentle humans. Your shuttle awaits to escort you to Mandalore!’
* * *
It only took a few hours to reach Mandalore, where the tavern was already set up for the party.
Talyc and Fane sat down at a table. Most clans were present, all trying to cram into the place, many others stood or sat outside, as Mandalorians bustled in and out at different times to enjoy the festivities of the evening.
‘This round’s on me,’ said Talyc, ‘for everyone who is drinking. And non-alcoholic beverages for everyone not drinking.’
‘I’m following my husband’s suit,’ said Fane, ‘not drinking tonight. I’m not much of a drinker anyway.’
‘No worries,’ said Emerick, ‘we’ll drink whatever you won’t!’ He laughed so loud it sounded like a shout.
The merriment continued for several hours. Fane took Talyc’s hand and gently tugged on it. He motioned towards the door with his head. They walked through the dancing crowd and made their way outside.
Talyc bit his lip, probably guessing what Fane had in mind.
‘You know, that field we made love in for the first time, we could…’ Talyc pointed a thumb in the field’s direction.
‘Too many onlookers tonight,’ said Fane.
‘That’s a shame!’
‘Do you want holovids of us all over the Holonet?’ teased Fane. Talyc shrugged. ‘Yeah, it would bother you, don’t pretend it wouldn’t.’
The two men giggled; Fane was amused. Holding Talyc’s hand, they jogged to their on-planet home. Fane had Talyc pinned to the wall as soon as they entered, his lips devouring his husband’s hungrily.
‘And they said I’d be the one unable to wait,’ said Talyc.
Fane pulled Talyc to him and they made their way to the next room over, slowly walking towards the bedroom, always their lips pressed against each other, feeling each other and the energies of their love.
‘You’re my husband now and I want you more than I have ever wanted you,’ said Fane, his voice husky. He pressed the palm of his hand on Talyc’s groin, feeling how ready he was for him.
‘You have me!’ Talyc’s eyes burnt with desire. Fane quickly removed Talyc’s shirt. ‘You are eager.’ Talyc bit his lip again, showing Fane he was as eager as Fane was, though Fane had already felt his eagerness.
A gust of wind entered the place.
‘So eager, we’ve forgotten the door,’ laughed Talyc.
‘You just wait here,’ said Fane. ‘I’ll go close it perchance anyone tries to spy on us.’
‘Oh, Fane, my man. Who cares about the door!’
Talyc shook his head, and growled teasingly, which showed Fane his elation, as Fane hurried out of the room to shut the door.
Fane felt a tremor in the Force and before he could do anything, the breath was taken out of him and he could no longer breathe. He felt himself being yanked and pulled a good distance away. He was surrounded and he could feel his assailants using Force Drain on him. Panic took him. He focused all he could, using the Force to amplify his voice and called out Talyc’s name as loudly as he possibly could before the sensation of choking silenced his voice.
* * *
Talyc heard the scream and it felt like his heart had been yanked out of him. It was chilling. And he just knew that he or Fane had not left the door open and it had been a ruse by whoever had managed to shroud themselves in the Force.
Instinctively, Talyc reached for his vibroblade. He still had his belt on and he secured it. He raised his vibroblade in time to block a red lightsaber that came down at him as a Sith emerged from the hall.
Talyc took a moment to refocus and bring his mind to the present moment. He had to get to Fane. He tried to move past his assailant, but more entered the house. Talyc realised they had removed Fane so that they could come for him. They were here for him.
‘You’ve got timing!’ he said to the group of Sith.
One of them sneered. ‘Awgro sends his regards and his congratulations.’
Talyc clenched his teeth. ‘You’re all twisted.’
‘Why, interrupted something, did we?’
Talyc shook his head in anger. He shouted out and fought his assailants as best he could, but they were overpowering him. He fought the sensation of choking that came over him, doing his best to resist the urge to activate the shield. He didn’t want to use it if he didn’t have to.
Lightning came flying his way, but it didn’t strike him; it hit one of the Sith. Talyc saw Shadie send the Sith flying across the room and yanking another away from him. Both Sith crashed against the wall. He could see Knarf fighting Sith in another room, the orange blade glowing amidst the red ones. Shadie’s green blade was ignited as a staff, and she was using the Force to fend off the attackers who surrounded Talyc.
‘Where’s Fane?’ she asked, urgency in her voice.
Talyc shook his head. ‘I don’t know.’
Shadie downed the last of the Sith in the room. ‘We came as soon as we heard his scream reverberate through the Force,’ she said.
‘They took him, or…I don’t know,’ said Talyc.
‘It’s okay, we’ll find him.’
Knarf entered the room. ‘All clear,’ he said.
‘That’s not possible.’ Shadie scowled. ‘There were more than that when we arrived.’
Shadie took Talyc’s hand and led him to the entrance, Knarf followed behind.
‘They’ve been planning this for months,’ said Talyc. ‘They told me Awgro sends his regards. They were waiting for me to be in a vulnerable position, off guard, no armour, most of my clan and neighbouring clans gone from their homes.’
‘That’s disgusting,’ said Shadie. She stopped and gasped. ‘There!’
Talyc saw Fane afar, pinned down by many others; all of them held red lightsabers. He ran towards him.
‘Talyc, wait!’ cried Knarf.
‘Let go of him!’ Talyc demanded as he approached the Sith, marching towards them now. Shadie and Knarf came running up behind him. ‘It’s me you want.’
‘Talyc, they’ve drained me,’ said Fane. ‘I can’t fight them off.’
‘Let him go.’ Talyc threw his vibroblade to the ground. ‘Take me instead.’
‘Talyc, no!’ Fane cried. He tried to push the Sith off him and tried to run towards Talyc, but the Sith were holding him and Fane could only struggle. Leaning forward, he shouted. ‘Talyc, don’t do this!’
‘I have to.’
He looked down at the ground. He turned his hand slightly and made a small gesture, hoping Knarf would notice it. Then he opened his arms wide, leaving himself completely exposed, bare-chested as he was.
One of the Sith ran up to Talyc and slashed him across the chest but before the red blade could touch him, it bounced off, as the shimmer of the shield appeared. Talyc smirked out of the corner of his mouth.
‘Better luck next time!’ he said.
He roundhouse kicked the Sith in the face and somersaulted to the side, grabbing his vibroblade. Shadie sent lightning as Knarf yanked Fane in the Force, pulling him towards them. But the Sith were quick and they caught Fane before he reached them. As a result, Fane was bounced to the ground a few times. He cried out in pain.
Talyc clenched his teeth, turning his head to the side as one of the Sith kicked his man in the face. Fane rolled onto his back. He heard Fane shout out, as he must have been trying to muster the Force, any ounce of Force. A small whirlwind appeared around Fane and it puffed out of existence very quickly. Fane shouted out angrily.
Many Sith held out their hands towards Talyc, Shadie and Knarf; it looked like they were draining them, but Talyc felt no Life Drain as he had with Awgro.
‘You think you can drain me of the Force?’ said Shadie ‘I can drain the Force around me of energy and of life and take back everything you take from me.’
‘And I trained with ysalamiri,’ said Knarf, ‘Force Drain won’t slow me down.’
Shadie and Knarf pushed the Sith off them and took defensive stances.
Talyc turned around, realising they were surrounded. He took a few steps back, his shoulders touching those of Knarf and Shadie, as they stood back-to-back-to-back in a triangle.
‘Any other ideas?’ asked Talyc.
‘Let them take you for real?’ suggested Knarf.
‘I’d do it,’ said Talyc.
‘No!’ Shadie said firmly. ‘Fane would never forgive me for letting me let yourself be taken.’
‘Third time’s the charm,’ said Talyc.
He felt slight relief when he heard Mando cries and saw many from many clans running towards their group. Shadie sent lightning towards the Sith as Mandalorians engaged with them. Blaster volleys came towards them, but the Sith put up a Force barrier to shield themselves.
The brief relief Talyc had felt was snuffed out when a shuttle came down low. The Sith began to jump onto its landing platform, taking a semi-conscious Fane with them. He looked pained, yet he was still trying to fight them off. Then his arms went limp, but his eyes remained open, staring at Talyc.
Talyc pushed passed Sith, hurrying towards the shuttle as fast as he could. The shuttle took flight as he reached it. He jumped and grabbed onto the rail. He felt lightning strike him and someone stepped on his fingers. Talyc cried out in pain, reflexively letting go.
‘NO!’ he shouted. He fell to his knees and let himself fall onto his back. He stared up at the shuttle, as Mandalorians and Sith still fought on the ground. ‘I’ll come for you!’ he shouted, hoping Fane could hear him.
Knarf threw his lightsaber towards the ship; it barely grazed it before returning to Knarf’s hand.
Talyc closed his eyes, feeling the warm tears streaming down the sides of his face, to his ears. He stood up and looked around. Many of the Sith who had remained were dead. A few Mandos were injured. There was a helmet on the ground; he kicked it, screaming. He fell to his knees, weeping.
He felt someone take him by the shoulders. ‘Talyc!’ It was Shadie’s voice. ‘Look at me.’ Talyc opened his eyes. Shadie was crouched by his side. Her eyes were filled with concern, yet there was a soft reassurance in them, a determination he appreciated. ‘The same way we found you, we’ll find Fane. I promise.’
‘My husband!’ whispered Talyc.
‘I know, I know.’ Shadie took Talyc in her arms, cradling him, as he could only guess she had cradled Fane in the past, as though it was only natural for her to comfort him in this way. She rocked him back and forth.
Nriwe and Knarf approached. ‘We’ve informed Mandalore and the blockade of the Sith ship,’ said Nriwe. ‘I’ve got Wapita on the line who’s in one of the ships on blockade duty.’
Talyc looked at her. She crouched and wiped his face. She looked as worried as he felt.
‘I feel such dread,’ he sobbed. ‘Is that how Fane felt when I was taken?’
Shadie stroked Talyc’s hair. ‘It’s okay, Talyc. It’ll be all right. I promise.’
‘You can’t promise something that is not in your control,’ Talyc wept.
‘Then I’ll take control,’ said Shadie. Her smile was a hopeful one.
‘Nriwe,’ came in Wapita’s voice, ‘I see that one of the Mandalorian ships has the Sith ship in a tractor beam and the shuttle seems to be entering its hangar.’ Talyc sighed in relief. He closed his eyes. ‘Wait!’ Talyc eyes shot open. ‘Something’s not right. The ship’s not responding to our hails.’
‘No, no, no!’ cried Talyc. ‘They’ve been planning this for months, Awgro must’ve learnt from Relsor; they infiltrated the blockade!’
‘Everyone fire on that ship,’ they heard Wapita barking the order. ‘Make sure it can’t go to–’ There was silence from the other end of the transceiver. Then Wapita spoke again, more softly. ‘Hyperspace.’
Talyc’s breath was shaking when he breathed out. He let himself fall further into Shadie’s arms.
‘They came for me and they took Fane.’ Talyc looked at his friends and saw Shadie look at Knarf, tears forming in her eyes. ‘Bes’laar, what am I going to do? I can’t…not without him…’
Shadie seemed resolved. ‘I’m taking control of the situation as of now. I won’t let them have Fane or anyone else I love for that matter.’
She closed her eyes and looked focused. Talyc barely noticed Nriwe and Knarf reassuring him. When Shadie opened her eyes again she nodded.
‘The Sphere says that Fane’s presence is weak, given he’s been drained of the Force, but he hasn’t been completely drained. It’s going to go hunting and track him down.’ She stroked Talyc’s hair comfortingly. ‘Talyc, I’m also going to put Storimbu on the task.’
Nriwe’s comlink chimed again. Lian’s voice came through loud and clear as soon as she answered it. ‘Nriwe, what’s going on? Please tell me I’ve sensed wrong. Is Fane all right?’
‘They’ve taken Fane,’ said Nriwe. ‘They came for Talyc, and they took Fane. The Sphere’s going to hunt for him, but he’s been drained of the Force.’
‘Oh, wow, okay.’ Talyc could hear the tremor in Lian’s voice. ‘Void and I are going to do our best to help find him in the Force.’
Nriwe stood and took the call elsewhere.
Emerick approached. ‘We’ve got prisoners.’ He pointed behind him where several Sith were bound and surrounded by ysalamiri and Mandalorians with weapons trained on them. ‘What do you want us to do with them?’
Talyc stood slowly. He clenched his jaw. ‘Question them.’ He walked to one of the Sith. ‘Where have your friends taken my husband?’
‘To Awgro,’ the Sith replied.
‘And where is that?’ asked Talyc. The ysalamiri gawked a cry as if feeling Talyc’s pain.
The Sith sneered. ‘The Reformed Sith do not reveal the location of their base or fleet to those who are not of their faction.’
Talyc felt anger swell inside of him. He punched the Sith in the face.
‘You dare come and take my man away from me on my wedding day!’ Talyc screamed at the Sith. ‘You are sick and twisted! I know you’re True Sith with another name and you’re as much of a monster as Relsor was, all of you.’
He started to kick the Sith repeatedly. ‘Talyc, Talyc!’ shouted Knarf. He pulled Talyc away from the Sith. ‘That’s not the answer. Don’t let the dark side overwhelm you.’
Talyc let out a scream of anguish and desperation, balling his hands into fists.
‘Take them away, question them, they’ll be safer in another clan bunker than in Kandera’s.’ Knarf took Talyc’s hand and squeezed gently. Talyc appreciated the attempt at comfort. ‘Thank you,’ he whispered.
He felt a large hand on his shoulder. He turned around to find Mandalore standing before him.
‘The fleet could not track any hyperspace signatures,’ said Mandalore. ‘It appears Awgro did indeed learn a lot from Relsor. I’ve got all of Mandalore informed already and I’ve doubled down on the bounty to bring Fane back safely.’
Talyc nodded. He turned around. ‘Knarf, Shadie, I need you with me. I don’t trust myself to not drown my sorrows. It’s too tempting to try to drink this all away.’ He sighed. ‘I feel like I’m being tested.’
‘No one’s testing you,’ said Knarf. ‘And don’t worry. It’s normal to want to fall back into old patterns.’
‘I know that better than anyone,’ said Shadie, her voice soothing. ‘We’re here for you. We’ll stay with you.’
Talyc wiped his eyes and nodded. He turned to go and a few others followed.
* * *
‘Awgro was your apprentice,’ Lian said to Void, panic in his voice, ‘do you know his patterns, anything that could help us?’
Void shook his head. ‘It seems he was more Relsor’s apprentice than mine after a fashion.’
‘We need to pull our resources together. I can’t seem to find Fane in the Force, I sense him, but he feels too distant. I can’t pinpoint where he is.’
‘You knew Relsor better than I did, despite the fact he was my son, and I know Awgro better than most. So think, Awgro’s tactics, combined with Relsor’s tactics. They wouldn’t return to the Tingel Arm, surely, but the edge of the galaxy is the first place I’d look.’
‘And they would know that,’ said Lian.
‘If they’re jumping through hyperspace at random intervals, they could be doing it all along the edge of the galaxy.’
‘The edge of the galaxy is very large, and if stealthed and jumping in and out of hyperspace…’ Lian took a breath, attempting to calm his nerves. ‘I’ll meditate some more, see if I can reach him somehow. Maybe I can connect to him through our bond.’
* * *
Talyc walked at a snail’s pace into the room and picked up Fane’s lightsaber.
‘I unclipped his belt as we made our way to the bedroom,’ he said softly. ‘Fane was so eager; he had my shirt off in no time. This was supposed to be our special night.’
‘It was your special night,’ said Shadie. ‘Don’t let a bunch of Sith ruin it for you. It was the most memorable day of your life. And when we find Fane, you’ll be able to resume where you left off.’
Talyc smiled meagerly. ‘Thanks, Shadie. I appreciate the slightly amused tones.’
‘I do my best,’ she said.
Talyc sat down on the bed, staring at the lightsaber. ‘They’ve taken the Force from him, he doesn’t have his lightsaber.’
‘He’s survived much worse,’ said Knarf. ‘They can’t take anything else away from him. Not even his life, remember?’
Talyc nodded monotonously. He clipped the lightsaber to his belt, next to his vibroblade and placed his belt on the floor by the bed. He closed his eyes and lay down, and let himself drift off into sleep, hoping the morning would bring fruit and bounty, a bounty of a safe Fane, coming back home to him.
“Trials in 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.