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”How can it be possible?” Que’ry Yulrik, the Director’s head of security, stated as he walked with the Director into the sanctuary. They had become close friends since they arrived at the facility. Que’ry, a Bothan, gained the Director’s trust when he had discovered the prior head of security had threatened to reveal the location of the facility. Que’ry dealt with him in a way the Director found to be “effective”, which caught his interest.

Que’ry was the only being allowed to leave the facility, however, only during the night when most of the workers were asleep. He used a cloaking device to shield both himself and his ship. Only one member had reported to see him leave, but that worker “accidentally” passed away during a routine maintenance check later that week. Que’ry wasn’t someone who liked to hide in the dark; he was someone who was always aware of the light.

“Yes, it is possible. We finally made the separation. We have been conducting this research for over a decade and now that we have private funding, we’ve finally made a breakthrough.” The Director stated, walking up to the front dais that held the Nonziahner.

He activated the computer screen on the book portal. When the book came up, he started flipping through pages. Finally, he tapped the top right corner of the screen, popping up a small search bar with a touch keyboard sliding just below. The Director typed in a reference within the Nonziahner and tapped the search bar. The screen faded in the pages with the passage on it. The Director used his fore finger and thumb and spreads a highlight box over the passage. He quickly looked around to see if anyone is looking on before he taps within the box.

Behind him, the rear central panel of the sanctuary shifts back and slides open, revealing a hidden passageway. Que’ry and the Director turn and immediately walk down it. Almost as soon as they are through, the door closes behind them.

The hallway was dimly lit, as to not leak too much power between grids. The passageway did not last long before they arrived at a turbolift. The two of them filed inside. The Director pulled out his security pass and slid it into the card slot. Immediately, the turbolift started to lower. In the lift, in the silence, Que’ry began thinking. If they were successful in their mission, what would that mean to the facility? What would that mean for his job? Would they continue working, or pass the job onto someone else? He had to speak up.

“Sir, permission to speak?” Que’ry inquired.

”Que’ry, we’ve been working together for twelve years. I know when you have something on your mind. Just speak.” The Director acknowledged.

”What do we do now?” Que’ry wondered.

”What do you mean?” The Director asked.

”I mean, for the facility. We are successful. What happens now? Our objective was simply to create separation and training. The rest was up to the Regeneration and the Resurrection. They are the breeding grounds.” Que’ry examined.

”Que’ry, you have to realize that there is not enough for breeding with just one batch. We have to reproduce enough to allow for breeding all at once. In that reproduction, there are bound to be failures. Just because we have reached success so far does not mean that we are close to being finished here. We’ll deal with what happens next when we get there.” The Director explained.

At that, the turbolift came to a halt and opened its door to a brightly illuminated hallway. The turbolift was at the crux of a “T” intersection. On one side was a cold storage infirmary. On the other was an office. Straight in front of them was the jewel of their whole mission in Starcom Station, the alias for its true name—the Revelation.

The two strolled down the long hallway towards their goal. Excitement built with each step. Anticipation intensified with each stride. They were about to witness what took twelve years to accomplish. They were about to observe history. Better yet, they were about to create history. What occurred in the humble lab of a low convent in the drifts of deep space was about to change the coarse of the galaxy.

They arrived at the door. The Director slid his security pass in the card slot and the doors magically opened. The Director’s status aboard the Revelation as both priest and head of research, he was used to things “magically” happening for him. Once entering, he showed the two soldiers inside his ID badge and allowed them to pat him down. Security needed to be strict, even for him, because of what had been discovered.

When they both finally passed security, they strolled over to the lab table, where the chief biologist, doctor, and lab technician, Thim Kal'rik, was stabilizing the first batch. When he realized he had visitors, Thim spun around in his chair and got up to greet the Director. Shaking his hand, he guided the Director over to the table where the serum rested.

”Director, it is so good to have you visit. Well, here it is. Our first batch of separated symbiotes.” Thim pointed out.

”And are they stabilized?” The Director wondered.

“Yes. The viscasera gel allows the symbiote to survive without relying on the tissue cell. Essentially, it takes on the properties of the tissue cell, without allowing the symbiote to communicate with others. When digested, the viscasera gel will simply dissolve in the digestive tract allowing the symbiote to roam free within the body. Once it attaches, it will be able to reproduce and spread throughout the entire body.” Thim explained.

”I’m sorry. What do you mean communicate?” Que’ry inquired.

Turning around, the Director gave Que’ry a quick smirk before clarifying what the doctor had just stated, “Yes. These symbiotes communicate with other life forms.”

”Wait. Are you telling me that…” Que’ry lost his words in amazement.

”Que’ry, you are now looking at the first individual midichlorian, completely free of any life form.” The Director explicated, turning to look back at the vile.

Que’ry opened his mouth to utter words of awe, but nothing seemed to come out. He lost his ability to articulate clearly. He stood there, silent, in respect to the scientific achievement that had been accomplished. History had been changed, even if its evidence never reached the media. They knew it happened. To those few in that small laboratory, this meant their entire lives to witness such a feat.

Within seconds of this new discovery, Que’ry received a beacon, interrupting the reverent moment. He picked up his receiver and answered the caller, slightly irritated with the intrusion. He wanted to appreciate the moment, but it was cut short with an emergency call. He knew he had to answer it. He told his men not to notify him with the beacon unless it was dire.

”What is it?” Que’ry snipped.

”Sir, there has been a breach in the upper levels. They appear to be Republic Clones, sir. Two men are reported down. We are engaging emergency lockdown. Most residents are in the living quarters, with a few at their positions below the bays, so they should be safe. What are our following orders?” A soldier reported over Que’ry’s comlink beacon. Que’ry gave the Director a sharp glance, who nodded in confirmation.

”Release the droids. Neutralize the threat.” Que’ry ordered, walking back towards the security door. He wanted to make sure whatever was threatening to ruin their day of triumph was dealt with “effectively”. Nothing was going to stand in their way of victory.

RT-897’s servos raced as he ran through the hallway. A light sponge absorber cushioned each step making the least noise possible for his clunky metal body. He escaped the prison cell and looked around him. His audio receptors could not pick up any outside noise to alert him to the squads movement due to the clutter from the consistent beeping.

The white noise, humming various pitches and tones echoed in his head. It warned him of those hunting him down. He glanced behind him and saw the intense beads of several crimson glowing eyes swiftly moving towards him. He stopped at the entrance way to the central hall and glanced out the door. He watched as he saw Ruin run through the far entrance to where the sanctuary was held.

When the coast was clear, he darted out into the hallway, racing around the ring to the power room. He had been within reach of the monstrous beings that had haunted him in the prison cell while the squad was away, and again when Lymn had visited. He regretted having to knock out the only being who trusted him, but he feared what the spirits would do to him if they had the chance.

Successfully making it to the power room, he slid into the main chair at the control panel. Quickly typing, RT-897 bypassed the security system and entered the activation code for an emergency system, one he resorted to as a last measure. Finishing off the code, a large message appeared on the screen asking for confirmation of the emergency system and warned of consequences should it become active. RT-897 stared at the screen. He punched the enter button and a countdown appeared on the screen.

”Station self-destruction mechanism: activated. Destruction will commence in T-minus thirty standard minutes. Clear all decks and prepare for evacuation.” The central computer announced throughout the station in a feminine voice.

Immediately, an alarm went off and a red blinking light flashed throughout the facility. RT-897 leaned back in the chair. He was ready for the ghosts. He was ready for their torture. Now, he was ready to die.

The intense ping of the siren startled Lymn awake in the prison cell. He glanced around and saw the room empty. He still had all his equipment and he could feel his pulse moving. He concluded that he was not dead, but had merely been knocked out. As he tried to get up, the back of his head pounded.

Reaching back to grab it, he tried to remember what had happened to put him in that situation. He remembered going to talk to RT-897, then the ghosts, and then he passed out. Suddenly, he remembered RT-897 had been a prisoner. He looked around the cell and could not find him. He stood up, holding his head, and walked out of the prison cell.

Not knowing what was on the other side, Lymn quickly exited the cell and ran into Carpo and Riina. They had been talking quietly amongst themselves so Lymn did not hear their conversation. Riina let out a shout at the sudden appearance of Lymn. Carpo grabbed her to calm her down. Lymn stepped back, hitting his head against the wall. He let out a shriek in pain and bent over, hoping to ease the throbbing.

“What are you guys doing down here?” Lymn wondered, struggling to get his words out.

“We came for you. Are you all right?” Carpo responded, trying to figure out if Lymn was in serious trouble or not.

“Yeah. Where’s Artee?” Lymn asked.

“What?” Carpo rejoined.

“He was with me in the prison bay when suddenly I was attacked. Next thing I know, I’m alone and the door is open.” Lymn explained.

“You lost him!” Carpo exclaimed.

“Relax Carpo. We’ll find him. He has to be in the facility somewhere.” Riina tried calming Carpo down.

“What’s with the alarm?” Lymn inquired.

“Someone activated the self destruct. We were just going to go figure out who, but we figured we should grab you first.” Riina clarified.

“I bet it was Artee.” Lymn stated.

“Why do you say that?” Carpo asked.

“He said he was a warrior of E’d’I. As a warrior, he is going to fight. However, I have a feeling we’re not the ones he’s fighting.” Lymn suggested.

“Why not?” Riina questioned, curious as to where Lymn was going with his accusation.

“Because he wanted us dead, he would’ve done that by now. He’s had multiple opportunities to do so. I think he’s looking for someone here on the facility but he just can’t get to them. When we came along, we gave him the opportunity to fight back by releasing him from the residential hallway. But when we captured him, he had to resort to quick measures, even if that meant we would go too.” Lymn advocated.

“What do you want to do?” Carpo asked, letting Lymn take the reigns.

“We need to talk to him. Maybe he can shut off the self-destruct and we can help him however we need to deactivate the tractor beam.” Lymn stated.

“We might as well try.” Riina mentioned.

Carpo shrugged his shoulders and they exited the prison cell. As the walked out into the central hallway, they caught Ruin as he was headed towards the sanctuary. He stopped in his tracks and looked over. Carpo signaled to him to round up formation and meet them at the power room entrance, but to do so quietly. Ruin complied and circled around the other way. They met at the entrance to report in.

“What’s with the siren?” Ruin asked.

“We think RT-897 activated the self-destruct system.” Riina answered.

“What did you find?” Carpo inquired.

“The entranceway is in the sanctuary. The password is in a journal of Triv’s. It’s the last sermon the Priest gave that day.” Ruin reported.

“What is this?” Lymn posed.

“We found a way to the lower levels, but if we don’t need to go, we won’t.” Carpo explained.

With that, they continued into the hallway. With the power back, the lights illuminated the hallway. This meant they had to be extra careful not to alert RT-897 to their progression with shadows. They kept close the near wall of the command center doorway. When they reached it, Carpo motioned for he and Ruin to cover the two sides of the door while Riina and Lymn stormed in.

When Carpo gave the signal, they moved. Lymn and Riina raced into the room while Carpo and Ruin took cover behind the doorframe. What they saw inside shocked them. Rt-897 had his metallic body pressed against the controls trying to avoid the grasp of a spirit reaching out for him. Lymn dropped his gun in shock, but Riina kept hers up. She opened fire on the ghost, causing it to flinch back. She fired again and it disappeared, flickering away.

“How did you know to do that?” Lymn said, looking over at her.

“I remembered seeing the other droid do it to the ghost that attacked me just before I fainted.” Riina explained.

Carpo and Ruin entered and the four of them confronted RT-897. He looked over at them, confused as to why they all had joined him. He calculated his chances of survival were slim. They had probably come to eliminate him for his actions against them. Suddenly, Lymn spoke up, defying his expectations.

“Artee, we need to talk to you. We know you’re searching for someone else. Lower the self-destruct and we’ll help you find him.” Lymn ordered.

“I cannot do that. The self-destruct can only be deactivated by the Directors code. He is technically the only one who can activate it, too, but I managed to locate the code after years of searching.” RT-897 responded.

“Then at least lower the tractor beam so we can all escape.” Carpo suggested.

“I am afraid I cannot do that either. The controls to the tractor beam are located in the Director’s office. I was trying to get to him when you apprehended me.” RT-897 admitted.

“Why?” Riina wondered.

“He—.” RT-897 hesitated, “He is a disgrace and a threat to this facility and our people. It is because of his actions innocent lives were lost, much like my friend Imbr’itn’alloto. RT-317 wanted to hunt him down as well, but he concluded several of the civilians were involved. He hunted the rest of Triv’s family and associates down after the initial lockdown. When the Director caught wind of our rebellion, he had shut down the power, locking me in the one hall and RT-317 in the other. He then destroyed the droids he could find, but never got to us. Does this make sense?”

“Why is he a threat?” Lymn inquired.

“Because of what he did. The research. There are those who wish to have it for themselves and they will use force to get it. By killing him and destroying the facility, they will no longer seek it. No more innocent lives will be lost. Peace can finally return to the galaxy. It is simply logical.” RT-897 reasoned.

“What is his research?” Carpo interrogated, his interest in the Director peaking.

“The Director was captivated with the Jedi and their ability to harness the power of the Force, a similar entity we believe in. He wanted to know how he, too, could contain that ability. His research involved the separation and reproduction of a single midichlorian. Status on his research as far as separation and containment: successful. The objective was to successfully reproduce the cell and dispatch it to the Regeneration and Resurrection, two convents similar to this one that he too started up. Last known status of both facilities: Regeneration confirmed destroyed in excursion with Imperial starships, Resurrection confirmed missing, inhabitant believed dead.” RT-897 reported.

The four of them were taken aback. The Director of the facility had accomplished what everyone thought impossible. He had successfully separated a midichlorian, the life force of a Jedi’s power, and contained it. This meant that if someone were to consume it, they could possible get the cell to reproduce within their body, rising their count high enough to become Force-sensitive. This discovery negated the religion of both the Jedi and the Sith. It donned on the group now why the Emperor felt so threatened by this facility.

“Your religion was a fraud.” Ruin commented, trying to remain as respectful as possible. He still respected Lymn.

“I know.” Lymn replied, holding his head low.

“What?” Both Riina and Ruin turned to face Lymn.

“I knew that convents were being used to fund and cover secret research. When I learned this, I practically left my faith. But, I knew there was greater truth to it even if those who lived in these facilities could not see it. I based my beliefs on my experiences, not what the corporate religion claimed to be true.” Lymn confessed.

“I was confronted with another member of my religion, who felt the same way. He said a rebellion had started within the church to reform to the old ways, but the Director needed to be dealt with. We wanted to put an end to it. We wanted to get rid of the Director and destroy the facilities. Doing so would end the corruption within the religion. We could then start anew and return to the pure beliefs we once held. I promised him I would help him do that.” Lymn continued, “I just want to end this. Bring some justice to the innocent lives lost here. Bring a voice to these echoes.”

“So, this was all a setup? You coaxed us into letting you join our squad so you could get your revenge?” Ruin wondered, confused.

“No. I joined the squad to escape. But, when the opportunity arose to come here, I had to take it. I knew the station was here, that’s why I recommended taking this direct route. I knew we’d be taken in by the tractor beam.” Lymn explained.

“You idiot! You could’ve gotten us killed!” Ruin shouted, lashing out at Lymn.

Carpo caught Ruin before he could actually hit Lymn with full force, but he managed to knick Lymn in the shoulder. Carpo stood between the two, acting as a mediator, trying to calm Ruin down. Carpo grabbed Ruin by the shoulders and tried to get him to focus on his eyes.

“Enough!” Carpo demanded, “Yes, it hurts that Lymn tricked us this time, but you can’t blame him for acting. He did more than anyone of us would’ve done and we should respect that. Now, what he did is done and we have to move on from here. We’ll go down to the lower levels and plead with the Director to let us go.”

Carpo turned to Lymn and RT-897.

“We are not going to kill him. Just talk to him.” Carpo urged, “Now, we know how to get down there. I’m going to go find the journal entry and I’ll meet you three in the sanctuary. We’ll all go down together.”

With that, Carpo left as the other three made their way to the sanctuary, keeping a close eye on Lymn. He ran off and back towards the stairwell. He ran up to the Residential Hall. Slipping into the hallway that held Triv’s old living quarters, he raced back into his room. The stench seemed to be less than before. Carpo figured the ventilation system was the reason for that. He opened the door to the room and raced over to the bedroom. He opened the door and lying in bed was the little girl he had helped.

His heart dropped when he saw her. It had only been two days ago that that whole event occurred. So much had happened since then. So much had changed. When they first arrived, they thought the station was abandoned. When they first met Triv, they thought a massacre had happened. Now, Carpo was starting to discover that it was more than a massacre. It was a political strike at the cost of innocent lives.

It sickened him to think that the little girl died because of greedy executives and open-ended orders. He brushed the thought off and started looking in the room for any notebooks or loose paper. He knew that they were more traditional within the convent, so any sermon notes would be written on paper. Carpo opened a drawer, which held articles of clothing. He kept searching the room until he found the right drawer.

He finally discovered it. It happened to be full of notebooks. He picked the top one up and started flipping through it. He figured the top one would be the most recent one since they would be using it often and want to keep it in an accessible place. Carpo reached the last entry in the book, which happened to be about halfway through. The writing, however, was written in Chiss.

Carpo pulled out his multi-lingual translator and scanned the page. The translator would analyze the page and determine the language. Once it did that, it would translate the words into whatever language the user selected, even translating colloquialisms. Carpo had the device recite the page to him in Basic.

“Melona third, year nine hundred and eighty-two. Sermon: Chapter 92, versus three through nine. ‘In the year of the Jat’ey, wars will become great, so great that not even the tribe of Nepanrib can escape. They will cause wars, but not wars to bring destruction. They will cause wars to bring peace, My peace. For who hears the voices of the forgotten? Who claims to know their names? Who remembered them on the days of tribulation, when the worlds brought their armies against them? Was it not I that heard the echoes in the void, the screams of the terrorized? Was it not I, the Redeemer, Jat’ey?’” The translator quoted.

Carpo deactivated it. He had heard enough. He knew exactly what the access code was. He stood up and packed the page from the notebook in one of his pouches. Immediately, he darted down to the sanctuary. There, the squad was waiting for him by the podium. Even the Jedi was there.

Carpo hopped up on the stage and tapped the computer screen. When the search bar came up he typed in “Otkobehne 4:9-13.” Instantaneously, the screen came alive with the passage from the specific book within the Nonziahner. Nothing happened. Carpo figured that he needed to maybe highlight the verses to open the passageway. He tried reading the words, but since they were in Ruusan, he could not tell what it said. He glanced at the pages and noticed that some numbers looked similar to Basic.

So, he guessed which number was the third verse and highlighted six verses. Still nothing happened. Carpo started to get frustrated, knowing he was so close to finishing the task. They were so close to getting out, so close to escaping. In frustration, Carpo rested his hand on the screen, accidentally tapping the passage. The screen flashed white, and then switched off.

Carpo retracted his arms in shock. He thought for a split second that he might have broken the computer. The others walked up to the screen and peered over it. None of them could figure out what happened.

“You did it.” The familiar voice spoke from behind him.

“Did we?” Carpo acknowledged.

The squad spun around to talk with the Jedi for his work, but stopped in their tracks when they saw that it was not the Jedi at all. Before them was a man in his late thirties, with black hair slicked back. He wore glasses, instead of wearing optic enhancers. A brief smirk hung on his mouth. He strolled out casually holding his hands out to greet the group, as if he was familiar with his surroundings. Little did the squad know, they were staring straight at the Director.

“Welcome to the Revelation.” The Director acknowledged, giving them the long awaited welcome to the station.

Those words rang in the groups’ ears. They were staring at the face of the only sentient in the facility—that was still alive. They could not believe that someone actually survived. They were relieved to see him, yet worried what other surprises may lie beyond the passageway.

“You’re…” Carpo struggled to get the words out, “You’re alive. How—how did you survive? Who are you?”

“I am the Director of this facility and Head Priest of the Convent.” The Director acknowledged. He spoke firmly, succinctly. He used only the words he needed to get his point across, never explaining too much or too little. He revealed what he wanted to when he wanted to reveal it. It was his way of maintaining control.

“How did you survive?” Ruin inquired, curious as to why this man chose to reveal himself.

“There is more to me than you can imagine, Ruin Malth.” The Director continued after picking up Ruin’s reaction to his name, “Yes, I know who you are. I have been monitoring you four from below. You all have proven yourselves to be knowledgeable, gifted, and unique. These are qualities I favor. What is it you seek?”

There were too many questions for the group to be able to process. They felt like he was once again a small school child who had been given free reign to ask the instructor anything. Those moments were far too few which led to a constant build up of questions. When they did occur, it was an overload for the child to process which question was more important. Suddenly, Carpo remembered his debt. The Jedi.

“The Jedi—?” Carpo started to ask. Jang knew exactly where he was going.

“A hologram. The Jedi’s death was unfortunate. From what we gathered, he was merely seeking shelter as he fled the Emperor.” The Director explained.

“A hologram?” Lymn responded, shocked.

“Yes. Every being you encountered was a hologram. His image was modeled after mine. I provided his voice. That is why I seemed familiar to you when you first heard me speak. We knew that the Emperor was still seeking to destroy us and feared at retaliation. To determine whom we could trust, we devised a system to test visitors. The Jedi hologram was one of such tests.” The Director replied.

“This entire thing was a setup?” Ruin wondered.

“Not so much a setup as a test. We prefer to think of it as a means of security.” The Director justified.

“What about the tractor beam?” Riina presented.

“It has been deactivated. I came to the surface hoping that I may barter transportation safely away from this station.” The Director spoke out.

Suddenly, behind him, Que’ry Yulrik walked out of the access hallway. His unique dog-like features stood out against the Director’s human likeness, yet they had grown close over the years. He filed in beside the Director.

“I suppose he wishes to come as well?” Carpo wondered.

“Yes.” The Director acknowledged.

“What if we say no?” Lymn indicated.

“Lymn! Stand down!” Carpo ordered, turning to the Director, “We’ll take you to our ship.”

“Thank you.” The Director smiled.

They walked off, out of the sanctuary and into the central hall. They walked to the service stairwell, bypassing the power room turbolift, where they knew RT-897 was still sitting. Winding their way up the stairs, they arrived at the upper level. It seemed less intimidating with the lights on.

“So, what exactly happened here?” Carpo asked as they walked through the upper level.

“We were stormed by a troop of Imperial shadow troopers. When we activated the droid defense, they processed the invasion as an immediate threat to the survival of the people. However, they knew that only E’d’ist’s knew the location of each station. So, the used their logic AI to determine it was an inside job.” The Director explained, “They targeted me first, but I managed to lock myself in the lower levels. When I did that, they started attacking civilians. I managed to lockdown the station, trapping them on the lowest level, where I had my immediate guards take them out, but a few managed to survive. I evacuated the rest of the facility to the Resurrection. I never received word if they made it.”

“What happened?” Ruin inquired.

“The station disappeared. It used to be located in the upper right quadrant of the galaxy, however, that may not be true now. There is no telling where the Resurrection ended up.” The Director admitted willingly.

They crossed through the airlock doors, which were working now that the power was back on. They entered the hallway, passing the office where they first encountered the spirits that falsely inhabited the station. Passing the second airlock doorway, they ventured out into the hangar floor where the Retribution lay, waiting for its crew to return.

Ruin and Riina ran ahead to get the ship’s primary systems started up by the time the rest of the group arrived. When Carpo and Lymn reached the landing ramp, he stopped their guests before entering the ship.

“It may take a while for us to get the systems up and running. Getting dropped out of hyperspace tends to shut down a couple systems and they need to be rebooted.” Carpo explained before walking up the ramp.

Before the Director managed to step onto the landing ramp, Que’ry had his pistol raised. He puts two bolts in the Directors back. The Director’s limp body collapsed to the ground there on the ramp. Que’ry turned to face the squad, pointing his pistol at the group. He approached the bottom of the ramp where he saw Ruin and Riina arrive at the top of the ramp, responding to the blaster shot.

“What are you doing?” Carpo shouted, confused.

“I have my Imperial orders, too.” Que’ry ordered.

Que’ry took aim at Ruin’s chest, hoping to either kill him or at least severely wound him. He pulled back on the trigger, but something knocked him from behind. The bolt shot off target, clipping Ruin in the shoulder. Que’ry watched as he collapsed to the floor of the starship. Suddenly, Que’ry felt his body be lifted into the air. He did not have time to glance behind him to see what happened before a blade went piercing through his chest.

Que’ry’s rag body was thrown aside to reveal RT-897 standing before the squad with a blade extended from his left palm. RT-897 quickly retracted the blade and took a cautious step towards the ship. He held out his other hand to show them he meant no harm to them.

When it was all over, Carpo waved Riina to assist Ruin. “Get him to a bed. Tend to his wound.”

“My mission is complete. Thank you for assisting me.” RT-897 acknowledged.

“Why did you do that?” Lymn spoke out.

“With nothing left here, you have become my facility. I must protect my facility. Now—now, my mission is complete. I have fulfilled my programming.” RT-897 responded.

“Come with us.” Lymn shouted out, then quickly checked with Carpo. Carpo gave no sign of disagreement.

“Why?” RT-897 inquired.

“I think your facility may need some more protecting.” Lymn smirked.

“He has a point. With both Que’ry and the Director dead, the Empire is going to come after us.” Carpo stated.

“I have a plan for that.” Lymn commented, pointing to Carpo to reassure him.

“Well, I would love to hear it. First, let’s get out of this hellhole.” Carpo ordered.

“Artee, help me with the body.” Lymn motioned for RT-897 to help him carry the Director’s body into the starship.

RT-897 walked over and nearly picked up the body himself. They dragged it along the floor to one of the prison cells where they could lock it away as the landing ramp closed. When they reached the prison cell, Lymn let the body fall to the ground. As he did so, he noticed a small vial slip from the Director’s left chest pocket. He looked up to see RT-897 walk out of the prison cell and into the hallway.

Lymn glanced back down at the vial. It contained a thick blue liquid that sloshed with each shifting movement of the small vessel. He reached down and grabbed it to get a better look. He knew what it was. Looking around once more, Lymn fiddled with the vial, trying to decide whether he should take it or leave it. Kneeling down, Lymn moved his hand to the Director’s upper left pocket, but stopped his hand before he could place the vial back in there. It was too tempted. Swiftly, he concealed it in one of his packs along his belt.

Standing up, Lymn exited the prison cell. He entered the hallway and quickly moved through the small extension to the stairwell that led to the cockpit. Walking in, he watched as they cleared the station hangar bay port. They managed to make good time leaving the station.

“Now what?” Ruin wondered.

“What did Que’ry mean by, ‘he has his Imperial orders, too’?” Riina asked.

Carpo blew her question off. He did not want to reveal to them his dark secret yet. A governor T’inch’talak had hired him about traveling to the facility a few months back. It was the sole reason for their superfluous mission to Wrea. There was nothing there of any value the Empire needed except for an excuse for them to travel past the station. So, they made a mission up, gave it to Carpo with the true intentions of him “stumbling” across the base and somehow apprehending the Director.

With the Director dead and Que’ry, the Empire’s agent, dead as well, Carpo was going to have to find a way to not have his hide on the copping block. He was going to have to think quickly. Carpo turned to Lymn as he entered the cockpit, remembering his had said he had thought of a plan.

“Lymn?” Carpo spoke.

“Plot a coarse for Sluis Van. I have a plan to get the Empire out of our hair. It’s risky, but it should work.” Lymn stated.

“After what I’ve witnessed—anything is good enough for me.” Ruin joked, punching in the coarse for Sluis Van.

Whatever Lymn had it mind, it had better work or the Empire would hunt them down until each one had paid the penalty in blood. Shortly afterward, what would have been a deafening boom, silenced by the void of space, ignited the station in a ball of flames. Riina punched the hyperdrive and they jumped through time and space.

It was over. Even more importantly, they were convicts against the Empire. Being a criminal was never so liberating. They were obligated to no one at no time. Knowing the Empire would be waiting for them at their base, they traveled in a different direction, seeking a new adventure with new chapters. They were starting over. They were free—as free as they could be.

The End
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