When Shadie, Fane and Knarf arrived on Mandalore, they went straight for Clan Kandera’s main bunker. They had been held up on Coruscant for several days while the Masters figured out if the datapad she had found had anything encrypted on it. It seemed it was what it appeared to be, a gesture of good faith, a link to her past, a clue to their mystery friend’s identity, and a show of good will on his behalf so that he could gain Shadie’s trust. Although Knarf had been disappointed there was nothing hidden on it, Shadie knew he was also relieved that it bore no tracking bugs. As for receiving news from their mystery friend, given that the special comlink-datapad she possessed could only receive calls, Shadie would wait for the man to contact her again, hopefully soon.
Fane swallowed hard and looked around the bunker. They had seen the Mandalorian transport leave Coruscant and had not had word from Talyc.
Nriwe approached them, smiling as she usually did, holding her helmet under her arm. A nearby Zabrak was issuing orders to a group of young recruits. Nriwe was assisting the debrief.
‘Why, hello there,’ she winked at Fane in her usual manner. ‘Come to relay some instructions?’
‘What?’ said Fane.
‘Nriwe, have you seen Talyc?’ Shadie asked her with urgency.
Nriwe scowled. ‘I thought he was supposed to be with you Jedi,’ she said.
Fane shook his head. ‘There was a misunderstanding, he… I haven’t been able to reach him and I assumed he’d returned with the rest of you.’
‘No, sorry, I haven’t seen him,’ said Nriwe. Fane nodded. The green Twi’lek’s lekku twitched. ‘Have you two had a falling out?’ Fane hesitated.
‘It’s a simple misunderstanding,’ said Shadie. ‘It’s just not like him to have his comlink closed and not reply. Neither Fane nor I have been able to reach him, nor Knarf for that matter.’
Knarf was searching through his datapad, likely sending Talyc messages. He shook his head and shrugged.
‘That’s odd,’ said Nriwe. ‘Now that he’s the new clan leader, he’s always on the ball, always on point, trying to live up to Kelbourn’s reputation, to keep the clan’s reputation high among our peers, even more so than before.’ She paused. ‘He hasn’t been in. Sorry I can’t be of more help.’
‘No worries,’ said Shadie.
‘What does he think he’s playing at?’ said Fane. ‘This is stupid. He should just come talk to me instead of avoiding me.’
‘Maybe he doesn’t know you’re here,’ said Shadie.
‘I do know a place where he’s likely to be,’ said Knarf.
The three visited the tapcaf first. When they saw that there was no sign of him, they visited the tavern. Knarf placed his helmet on his head; Shadie knew he was once again trying to raise Talyc.
The trio approached Lashika.
‘Hi, have you seen Talyc?’ Fane asked a little too quickly. She shook her head.
‘No, haven’t seen him in days. But hey, last time he was in here, he was buying a round for everyone and he couldn’t stop going on about you.’ She nudged Fane. ‘I can tell you, Fane, I haven’t seen him smile like that in…since…I don’t think I’ve ever seen him that happy. You two are well made for each other, and I’m made up for you.’
‘Thanks.’ Fane had an angry smile on.
‘You’re sure he hasn’t been in at all?’ asked Shadie. ‘Only he hasn’t been answering any calls and no one’s seen or heard from him since I last saw him on Coruscant several days ago.’
‘He wasn’t still on Coruscant when you left?’ asked Lashika.
‘We checked,’ said Shadie. ‘We’re Jedi. We wouldn’t let that possibility slip us by.’
Lashika shrugged. Her red face turned a darker hue and her mouth puckered as she thought. She looked worried. She smiled in sympathy.
‘I can ask around, but as far as I know, no one’s seen him in days.’
Fane looked at Shadie. His worry was different this time, and reflected hers and presumably Knarf’s. She looked at Knarf. He shook his head, as the realisation set in.
* * *
They marched straight into the Mandalore’s bunker office without knocking. He sat at his desk, helmet on the desk, looking over some datapads. He looked up as they approached.
‘Fane! Congratulations! I spoke to your Grand Master and…’ He trailed off. ‘What’s the matter?’
‘We have a missing Mandalorian,’ said Shadie.
‘Talyc,’ said Fane.
‘Are you certain?’
‘Mandalore, we’ve never been more certain of anything before,’ said Knarf, his helmet now at his belt again. ‘Well, you know what I mean. We can’t reach him, no one’s seen him, no one’s heard from him. It’s been days, and I ahven’t been able to raise him, either via com or datapad.’
‘Let me give him a try,’ said Mandalore. ‘As clan leader, he cannot ignore a call from the Mandalore, typically.’ Mandalore took his comlink out. ‘Talyc, come in, I have important instructions for you. Talyc? Please report to my personal bunker immediately.’
They waited, but a “Negative!” or an “Affirmative!” never came. No reply, no objections, no reasoning, not even static or silence, just plain nothing. Fane’s heart grew heavy.
‘I’ll put everyone on amber alert,’ said Mandalore. ‘A clan leader is missing. Let us hope he has not met the same fate as Kelbourn.’ Fane looked down. ‘I’m sure he’s passed out drunk somewhere, though,’ he added quickly. ‘We just need to find where.’
Fane turned and quickly walked out of the bunker. His chest was heaving and he didn’t know if he was hyperventilating or crying.
‘Fane, breathe,’ Shadie said soothingly. ‘Remember your training. Perhaps the Force is testing your new convictions. You have devoted yourself to the Jedi Order and to Talyc.’
‘Yes, but he doesn’t know that, does he?’ said Fane. ‘He doesn’t know.’
‘Hey,’ said Knarf, ‘Shadie promised we’d find him and when she sets her mind to something, nothing can stand in her way. Not even me; I wouldn’t want to. We’ll find him.’
Shadie turned around. ‘Mandalore.’ Fane turned; he had not realised that Mandalore had followed them out. ‘Fane and I will return to Coruscant, retrace Talyc’s steps, try to feel his lingering presence in the Force. Knarf, stay here, I think this is something Fane and I need to do on our own.’
‘I understand.’ Knarf placed a hand on Shadie’s face. ‘Be careful.’
‘I will. Be safe.’
Shadie and Fane left the other two and went to grab a transport for their travels.
* * *
Knarf picked up his comlink. He made a holocall. Trylia’s holimage appeared in small version.
‘Hi, Knarf, what can I do for you?’ He explained the situation. Trylia’s face was grim. ‘If he passes by Tython, we’ll be sure to notify you right away.’
Knarf thumbed the comlink. Something chimed from within the Mandalore’s bunker. The two hurried inside.
‘The message is encrypted,’ said Mandalore.
‘You think it could be Talyc?’ asked Knarf.
‘I don’t know. Let’s find out.’
Knarf stepped out of view as Mandalore took the call. The holoimage that appeared was of the blue form of Relsor.
‘Darth Relsor,’ said Mandalore. ‘How…’
‘I know a slicer,’ he replied. ‘Perhaps you’ve heard of him, Darth Perce? Yes, he will find a way to slice something even your slicer won’t be able to slice, but I digress. I contact you to give you a warning, and a solution.’
‘A solution? That implies I have a problem, but I thought that was evident; I’m looking at him.’
‘Oh, how clever, Mandalore, but I’m afraid you shouldn’t quit your job as Mandalore just yet. Then again, you’re failing at that one too.’
‘What do you mean: failing?’ asked Mandalore.
‘You remember the super lasers my uncle tested on your planet?’
‘All too well.’
‘Well, those weren’t the only prototypes that existed. I’ve got some of my own.’ Knarf winced in his corner. ‘Your problem is that I will unleash them on Mandalore and destroy your planet.’
‘You mentioned a solution?’
Relsor narrowed his eyes. ‘Deliver the Jedi to me.’
‘There are a lot of Jedi in the galaxy…’ Mandalore began.
‘Don’t play dumb with me, have more respect for yourself!’ Relsor’s red eyes gleamed into the holocam. Even the holoimage’s cyan tint could not soften their harshness. ‘You know which Jedi I am referring to. Shadie, Knarf, Brenum, Trylia, Fane, heck even that Mandalorian who’s always with him,’ he said, a sneer on his face. ‘Deliver them to me and I will leave Mandalore alone.’
‘I could deliver them to you and you could still attack my planet,’ said Mandalore. ‘I cannot trust a Sith to stay true to his word.’
‘Allow me to attack your planet with multiple orbital strikes then, and you’ll see how I am true to my word,’ said Relsor.
‘Sorry, no chance. I’m not helping you.’
‘Fine then,’ said Relsor. ‘But if you change your mind…’
‘I’ll be in touch.’ Relsor chimed out.
‘Chakaaryc! The gall of that Chiss!’ said Mandalore. He looked at Knarf. ‘He’s bluffing, he doesn’t have more super lasers?’
‘As far I can tell, no,’ said Knarf. ‘When I sliced the system, I found all the controls to all the super lasers there were at the time, not just on that ship. They were all destroyed at the same time. If there were others, not programmed, independent from the others, I wouldn’t know.’ He paused. ‘There is a fifty percent chance that he’s bluffing, just because he’s that desperate to capture Shadie, for whatever reason we’ve yet been unable to determine. There is also a fifty percent chance that he’s telling you the truth.’
‘Then I’m just going to have to take that chance,’ said Mandalore. ‘There is no way I am giving in to a Sith’s demands. No way!’
* * *
Perce sat sifting through the Mandalorian’s datapad. He had found encrypted keys, coordinates to safe houses, the names of several Mandalorians and pirates, images of Talyc’s friends and his concubine, as well as some other trivial bits of information.
‘This Mandalorian’s files are quite fascinating,’ he said.
‘I’m glad you are enjoying yourself, Perce,’ said Relsor. ‘But I’m sure you have better things to do than to peruse Clan Leader Talyc’s personal files. I’m pretty sure pictures of his last vacation will prove boring for you.’
‘Oh, no doubt,’ laughed Perce. ‘Which is why I’m not looking at that.’ Relsor looked at him quizzically. ‘There are encrypted files on here, files which have been coded in Knarf’s style. The Mandalorian puts his friends to good use, I’ll give him that.’
‘If you’re trying to slice his encrypted files, then why is there an image of him and the Jedi drinking with a green Twi’lek who looks like she’s about ready to devour the both of them?’ Relsor sounded as exasperated as he did amused by the strange image.
‘Well, you see, Relsor, our clever Mandalorian captive does not keep his encrypted files separate. He keeps them with the mundane things, where one would least be expected to look for such important and secret files. Believe you me, the last thing I want to be looking at is a holoimage of Knarf and Shadie looking like they haven’t a care in the world.’
‘Your hate for Knarf is immeasurable,’ said Relsor.
‘Oh, you know how I hate having rivals.’
‘I know, which is why we decided to do like our masters had and align.’ Relsor took a breath. ‘I’ve got to say, Perce, I prefer this much more.’
‘Oh, yes,’ Perce said nodding and looking up. ‘I much rather have someone else do the tasks I despise.’
‘Then it’s a good thing we don’t like doing the same kind of tasks.’ Perce slammed the datapad down onto the table.
‘Oh, you know very well, Relsor! That Knarf. I cannot wait until I destroy him. And then, there won’t be anyone standing in my way as the best slicer in the galaxy.’
‘The Sphere calls,’ said Perce.
Yes, Sphere, said Relsor through the Force.
‘Ah, Jassahmi returns,’ said Perce, ‘and with new findings, I hope.’
‘Shadie would have found very little amidst the debris,’ said Relsor. ‘Whatever she would have passed on to the pirates to sell, would likely have been useless.’
‘Still, sending someone out to keep score of the auction, keep track of who’s buying what, perchance someone might hit on something of more value than we had anticipated, is good for the True Sith.’
‘Perhaps,’ said Relsor. ‘Her intel on Talyc and Fane’s relationship proved useful. I hope she will prove useful once more.’ He stood and left to greet Jassahmi, Perce assumed.
Perce picked up the datapad again and tried slicing one of the encrypted files again. Whatever was in here was valuable information, if Talyc had bothered to encrypt it. Perce studied what he saw carefully. He would succeed, he would slice it, and he would use the information he found against the Mandalorian clan leader, against the Jedi, against Shadie, and to kill Knarf.
“Lady of the Crypt” is written by Celinka Serre (2020).
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.