I take the opportunity to retrieve a few unspent grenades from their corpses. Perhaps they shall be of use. When it is all over, I approach the ensign. She has my gun trained on me. She lowers the pistol. I just wanted some easy money! Now, we should probably get offworld, before more of the Consortium finds out about this and begins to hunt us down.
She shrugs. I motion toward my ship. You are welcome to join me. If you wish to try your luck here, that is your prerogative, but I would recommend against it. Also, I will be needing my pistol back. She eyes me dubiously. I laugh heartily. You earned them in a fair trade.
If you prefer, consider conveyance to be an additional provision of our exchange. I begin prepping the ship for flight. You chose to interpret my presence as a threat. Her eyes roll. I do not expect anything. I have offered you transport off planet. If you do not wish to take the offer, you are free to do as you will. I can not blame her for asking. It is a very nice blaster. She grabs the chest. I'm game. I would rather not be around when they find these guys. As she boards my ship, I skim the datapad. Its contents give me pause. I wave the datapad to her. How certain are you that they are correct?
I skim further, looking to assess Consortium presences in the vicinity of the ship. It appears to be very lightly guarded. Probably wise; a smaller force of scouts would draw less attention. The girl holds up her hands. Look, can't you just drop me off somewhere first? Sullust, Bothawui I mean the place isn't great, but I'd feel safer there than wherever you're going. She would be willing to pay quite handsomely. You may also be familiar with Consortium security codes in the event the organization has already secured the ship.
She thinks on this. It's my info. I deserve more money. I give a dismissive wave. Both of these skills are valuable. She shakes her head. I'm just gonna get my money on Delriss and arrange travel offplanet from there. Bringing a Consortium defector to explain. The trip is uneventful. I wake the woman as we arrive. Delriss base. She looks out onto the huge expanse of water over most of the planet's surface. I nod, bringing the ship down toward the planet. The woman is incredulous. There's nothing here!
Nothing is even showing up on the ship's scanners! I hold up a hand in a request for patience. A few moments later, there is a response on my comm, a rather bored-sounding man with a smirk on his face.
Here to try your luck speaking with New Republic High Command again? I wouldn't recommend bothering; they're just as uncomfortable with Haven as they are with you. And who's that? A prisoner? I nod. I have, let us say, temporarily bought her loyalty, because she has information of interest to myself and Jedi Knight Xi Tenda. Copi Jor gives me a dubious look. That's pretty dangerous.
What the kriff were you thinking? I wave away his concern. It is unlikely the young ensign will return to the Consortium. They will have marked her a traitor for dealing with me at all. In addition, leadership within the Consortium will find it difficult to keep things running effectively for some time. The mission did not take long. With the pirates squabbling amongst themselves, the new government will have some breathing room. Jor nods. Landing bay will be made available shortly.
I'll inform Xi you're coming. The comm signal ends, and Railah crosses her arms. I don't know. What if she reads my mind and thinks I'm bad and tries to kill me,or whatever? Fish below begin to scatter in response to some unseen threat. Beneath us, the water begins to bubble. A large shadow is visible beneath the surface.
The shadow grows in size until finally, the outline of a clear dome is visible. As it continues to rise, it eventually breaches the surface, revealing a full landing bay. Several ships are docked this afternoon, but there is an opening for my ship. Railah stares, jaw agape, as we enter and land. The dome closes and the bay begins to retract back toward the base. But perhaps you should hold your excitement until we have entered the base. Perhaps you should ask Jedi Tenda. Railah does not have a response for that. Instead, she changes subjects. Why are you and the Jedi so interested in it?
During the battle over Endor, Jedi Knight Xi Tenda and I, along with those under our command, killed him, to prevent him from executing a plan to eliminate someone important within the Rebellion. But that is not what interests us about the ship. Around us, small fish flit about, blissfully unaware of our presence. Were there larger aquatic animals in the vicinity, the base would detect them and emit an ultrasonic tone until the creature's discomfort drove it away. Though the Sith ones are, of course, dangerous, the Jedi ones could prove valuable. Your knowledge of the scouts in the area could help us avoid trouble and remove the ship before the Consortium could move in.
The docking bay shudders gently as it settles into place. We exit the ship, allowing the bay crew to lock it down and begin refueling.
As we approach the bay doors, they begin opening and we are greeted by a sharply dressed but disheveled-looking human male. His eyes are bloodshot and he has a significant growth of stubble. He eyes the ensign suspiciously. I approach to meet him. I was unaware that you have made a habit of personally greeting guests.
He frowns. Sensitive stuff. Better if I watch the feeds myself. Railah gives a skeptical look, but I would prefer to get to business rather than continue bantering with Jor. Though it does not show throughout most of the facility, Delriss Base was once a Jedi enclave.
If ever they were in danger, the Jedi could escape to Delriss and survive for some time here. It also contained a vast library. Unfortunately, the library was made of mostly flimsiplast scrolls and books, and most were destroyed by flooding long before Xi Tenda and her team settled here. They claimed the place as a base of operations for Haven to study and teach a Force prescience first developed by a Jedi Knight named Suljo Warde.
Eventually, Xi and her companions found Warde and persuaded him to join Haven, after convincing him to turn away from the dark path the Clone Wars set him on. Rebel surveillance equipment, barracks, and Jedi training grounds are scattered among rooms in the corridor we walk through. The soldiers in the base appear to be packing up their equipment. I turn to Copi Jor. He nods.
Until then, Delriss is our home, and if the New Republic doesn't want to fund us, they can get the kriff out. We reach the end of the corridor. Copi Jor bids us good day, obviously displeased to have been away from his security console. We do not need to knock. The door slides up to reveal a modest office, utilitarian in nature with little in the way of decoration. Atop the desk sits a young human woman in her early thirties, her thick black hair allowed to flow freely to her shoulders.
Her cross-legged posture indicates she is meditating. However, she looks upon us and greets us. Her fierce emerald eyes are as striking as her soft voice. She appraises Railah, who fidgets nervously. Railah shrugs. Xi slowly stands and steps down from the desk. Railah practically jumps upon hearing the number. Are you serious? This surprises me.
Though it is true that the galaxy is currently at peace—or at least it is as peaceful as it can be—the fact remains that, without proper guidance, Jedi can be volatile. Xi nods.
Her eyes brighten. For a recon mission? A merc would have to be stupid not to take that deal. Xi smiles. Go see Copi to be fitted with an encrypted commlink. I believe he escorted you on your way in. Xi sighs, rubbing the bridge of her nose. I thought you said you were done with assassination missions. My tone becomes defensive. He was close to finding the location of Delriss base. You know he still wanted revenge for all of the trouble Haven has caused him. For killing Oki. I miss Oki, too, but you have to move on from it! I thought you wanted to be better than that.
Zann needed to face justice for his crimes. When I was asked by Oki to assist with her interrogation, she became incredibly distraught. She demanded I be removed from the interrogation room. It was the first time I had ever been in contact with a loved one of someone I had slain. It was difficult to see the fear on her face, to know that I caused that fear. Fors could have been redeemed.
He could have become an ally. Facing Shimmer was difficult because there was nothing I could do to take back what I had done. It was difficult because I wanted to take back what I had done. It was difficult because she was right. I am a machine, programmed to kill. Another long pause, as we hear chattering students pass by the door.
I look down at the floor. I have my programming. It dictates my behavior. I cannot disobey that programming. Xi looks impassive. Xi calls to me as I leave. You have the power to be the better person you wish to be. You have to prove it to yourself. Droids can dream, after a fashion. Typically, a droid brain does not find much use for the typical types of low-level brain activity sentients have, simulating new or difficult situations to test knowledge and skill, or revealing to the dreamer their flaws and strengths.
A droid spends its time in diagnostics and repair reviewing newly created memories from its activity since its last full power up. This is so that memory may be checked for errors and properly catalogued for later recollection, if necessary. Unless, of course, due to some extraordinary circumstance, such as not having received a memory wipe within the past four thousand standard years, a droid is particularly peculiar.
Tonight, I do not review the day's memories. Instead, I remember an old master of mine. I remember the day we met. They appear almost bored as they fly the ship, the name of which I have forgotten, staring out the viewport. I have forgotten their name, as well. Outside, the void of space itself is aflame. They have decided, I recall, to break a Mandalorian blockade over Onderon.
There is a Jedi on planet below, and that Jedi needs extraction. I have advised against this, but they will not listen. The Republic can ill afford to lose one of its star pilots, but they argued that neither can it afford to lose a Jedi. Alarms sound louder. We are being boarded. The Rodian turns to me, eyes wide and sad, shaking their head. I can see the console. From there, you can await rescue on planet. Perhaps when the Jedi Revan and Malak arrive to rescue the Jedi, they will also retrieve you.
I see and hear a burst of static, and then a flash of images and sounds too quick even for my droid brain to comprehend. Further data from this point is corrupted. I understand, though my memory of the following hours is corrupt, that I was captured. I cannot recall why. It does seem odd that a Mandalorian would capture a droid and use it for warfare. They are famously skilled and self-reliant. Until now, I assumed my old master was simply incompetent. Looking at this memory of the Rodian captain, though, I am unsure. They seemed to believe the Mandalorians would take interest in me.
But why? Would that I knew. We decide to leave my ship at Delriss. As a two-being fighter, it would force us to split into two craft. It sports a few weak lasers, but nothing that would do particularly well in a firefight. As we board, Xi introduces Railah to her Padawan, Sabina. Sabina was once part of an Imperial experiment to artificially render sentients Force-Sensitive.
The former Imperial detective, the former Wookie pitfighter, the escaped Imperial experiment, and myself: all individuals with pasts that trouble them have gravitated toward her. Or, perhaps she has sought us out. Or does she simply believe all the more in them due to her life experiences?
I hail Sabina with a slight bow. While most that I know prefer to be referred to by their name, I know that Sabina especially appreciates being referred to by her title. To her, it is a symbol of how far she has come, and the support she has around her. Hey, Ellie! Tired of all those New Republic folks ordering you around? I shake my head. I have been, in their words, decommissioned. Sabina eyes me with pity. Evidently, I have not been successful at hiding my displeasure. You did more for them than some of the flesh-and-blood commanders they had.
I shrug. I emit a sigh. I am heartened, though, that you and Xi were able to take the time to join me. I shall be glad for the company. That, at least, causes Sabina to smile again. I am pleased, partly because of the improvement in mood, but mostly because we will not return to the subject of the New Republic.
She and Railah enter the ship, presumably exchanging stories. I approach Xi. Her history suggests that a location steeped in the Dark Side could have a profoundly negative effect on her, psychologically. Meditation, structure, friendship, and mentoring have been good for her. You don't have to go it alone all the time. That is why I came to you. Especially because Darth Vectivus was the one who killed Oki. I do not wish to explore his ship alone.
Old memories are resurfacing—very old memories, stricken with corrupt data. But I was hoping you or one of the others could fly the ship. I would like the opportunity to run a diagnostic, and that could take some time. The corruption seems to be due to the age of the memories. But, I do not know why I am remembering them now. My memory subsystem seems to think they are important. I must keep my activity level low. The Mandalorians have finished their reprogramming, but they are still exploring my chassis. I do not like it. It feels like a violation, but there is nothing I can do.
Surely if they sense that I am active, they will—. On the table are several of my non-vital internal components, but the Mandalorians appear to be fiddling with a small object inside my chassis that I cannot make out. The thing doesn't scare me. I say we scrap the droid.
It's been a waste of time pulling it apart. Intel on it was wrong. A third technician simply stares at the unidentifiable object. Static again fills my mind, skipping past corrupt data. The first two Mandalorian technicians are lying on the floor, dead. The one remaining stares hungrily at the object within my chassis. My old master. Not until I have discovered your secrets. He reaches into his belt pouch and removes a restraining bolt, blood dripping from his hands. I come to with a start aboard the freighter. I am alone in the repair bay, faced with disturbing questions.
Why did I not recall this memory before? What was that strange object inside my chassis that piqued the curiosity of my old master? Did the Rodian captain know about it? I make my way to the cockpit. Xi is flying the ship, which I do not consider the best choice, though I reflect most likely they have been flying in shifts. I have been at least two days in the repair bay. Xi glances back at me, relieved.
I hope your diagnostic was fruitful. She looks thoughtful. Where did you hear the name? I still have much corrupt data from my days with the Republic, so I cannot be sure. But I have found out that there was something inside me. Something was built into my chassis that interested the Mandalorians. I suspect they had intelligence about it and wanted to capture me.
Whatever the thing was, it captivated one of the technicians so thoroughly that he murdered his compatriots rather than allow them to possess it. Oki performed maintenance on my internal components many times, and if there were something dangerous there, he would surely have removed it. At the very least I would think he'd have told you about it. Looks like we're coming out of hyperspace now, Ellie. No sooner do we arrive just outside an asteroid cluster than we receive a message from a nearby ship. The voice is gruff.
I suggest you move along. Xi flips the comm on. My orders are to perform another sweep to prepare the craft for salvage. At her signal, I transmit the codes Railah had given us. I doubt anyone would pay any attention if you decided to take a vacation. Xi smirks.
Nah, I think I'll follow my orders. Business doesn't stop just because the boss decided to take a dirt nap. The mercenary laughs. But we're gonna crack this thing in the next week, once we know it's safe. He huffs. If they think this thing could be a planet-cracker, you can bet your ass they'll want it. Until then, we'll be scanning the ship. We make our way toward the ship. I assure her I can safely navigate through the asteroids, but she is still apprehensive that something could happen to our ship.
I give up on trying to reassure her and focus on the monstrosity beginning to fill the viewport. Practically the size of a Star Destroyer, it is as a creature out of a bad holodrama. A rounded stern works its way forward into an array of hardpoints for its superlaser, arranged like the claw of some malformed beast—the stuff of children's nightmares.
This aberration, this abomination, this It must be obvious, because Xi speaks up. I loosen my grip. I just Its appearance is startling. To my surprise, the bay doors open once we are within signal range. Xi appears startled, and shoots me a sidelong look. I glance at her quizzically, but she says nothing more. Carefully bringing the ship to a landing in the bay, I note that it closes again.
Sabina and Railah arrive in the cockpit. I turn to greet them, and they have their weapons ready. Sabina looks to Xi, confused. Who knows what tricks or traps he left behind on his ship? Xi agrees. Sabina and I will search this level, and you and Railah can search the one above. I am struck by a thought. What if parts of this ship were designed somehow to react only to those strong in the Force? This seems to intrigue Xi. Force-touched technology exists.
Xi seems convinced. It's not a bad idea. Ellie, you and Sabina search the next level up. Railah and I will search here and meet you on the bridge. Once we have taken our leave, Sabina adopts a serious look. Xi misses him just as much as you do. He may not have been a Master, but he lead Haven. We pause at a door, curious of the contents of the room it blocks.
When we open it, however, it appears empty, save for a dining table and an extravagant dining set. She was pleading with him to leave the Starbrand , but he said that it was too late. You're an assassin droid. It's kinda weird to some people that you're worked up over somebody's death.
Knowing what we know about you, it's understandable. I get that he was your friend. But you've got to stop letting it get to you like you are. You're not the only one who's lost somebody. I stop walking for a moment as she enters the lift. Sabina is right, of course. I killed Tyber Zann. I got Railah Karr involved in this mission. Both because I wanted closure, with no regard for Xi or anyone else. As I approach, the door opens again, allowing me to enter the lift with her. Scuttle the ship and go home? If this mission is tainted with my selfishness, it is possible it was misguided from the moment we discussed it.
Sabina snorts. I didn't say we were wasting our time. Besides, what happened to your confidence? You're always so sure of yourself. I am already on edge, and now I appear to be experiencing memory glitches when I power down for maintenance and recharging. She looks upon me with concern as the lift doors open. Do you need help? I can continue. I do not think the glitches are a problem.
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I believe I may be in the process of repairing very old, damaged memory circuits, and bits of those old memories are coming back to me. Sabina frowns. We exit the lift and begin to search the second level of the ship. Our search of this level is not proving fruitful. The ship has few rooms, as instead of an organic crew, Vectivus had elected to staff his ship with droids. Perhaps their master never instructed them how to deal with others aboard the ship. The hyperdrive and reactor core are on this level, but there is nothing noteworthy in either room.
It seems perhaps this entire level is a waste of time. With a sighs, Sabina and I make our way back to the turbolift. We call Xi, and she asks us to come to her location on the first level. She has found some sort of leisure room with a small garden, and she hopes that my scanners can assist in searching the room. As we make our way there, we note that there are a few more rooms on the first level than the second.
There appear to be two small living quarters, a galley, a briefing room, some sort of training chamber, and the door to the large room Xi is currently exploring with Railah. As we approach the door, Sabina falters. Moreso than the rest of the ship by a tremendous margin. I continue, albeit apprehensively. If this place is evil enough to give a Jedi pause, its power must be great. The door opens automatically to allow me to pass through. I am floored by the sight of the room around me as I enter. The wall and door behind me are the only pieces of inorganic matter immediately visible.
The floor is entirely covered with a soft loam, sprouting dense foliage that blocks view of the ceiling. I continue forward, eventually coming into view of Xi and Railah Karr, who are carefully studying a rather out-of-place looking console in the middle of a clearing. She said that the Dark Side is incredibly strong here. Railah and I are having trouble accessing the console here. I think it's heavily encrypted. Could you take a crack at it? The console looks old, perhaps hundreds of years older than the ship.
It is marked at its base in such a way as to indicate it was originally housed elsewhere, and that Vectivus moved it to the ship some time after its construction. I place my hands on the keyboard, and begin entering queries for subsystem status. The console denies access. I know that she is implying that I interface with the console directly. I look at her, and she looks embarrassed and apprehensive.
She knows that I find the act of interfacing demeaning. It makes me feel less real, somehow. More like a machine. You are a machine, I remind myself. When I insert my interface probe and attempt to establish a connection to the console, I become aware of two things. The console begins a subroutine to shut down my systems. I try to cut the connection, and I succeed at preventing any harmful data from streaming across, but the command to shut down is overwhelming.
As I lose consciousness, the diagnostic my chassis performs tells me the second thing: the object within my chassis, which I had been concerned about, is still there. Still, I have no idea what it could be. The Rodian frowns, or at least gives their approximation of the gesture. I am taken aback. Why would I have such a thing inside my chassis? I was only recently manufactured, here in the Republic.
They rub the back of their head, signalling discomfort. Not really. I found you during a patrol near the Core Worlds, shut down in a damaged ship. I had been on my own routine patrol when my ship malfunctioned and tore through an asteroid field. They hold up their hands in something of a shrug. That data is false, but A heavily encrypted one. Perhaps something vital to the war effort against Mandalore. She wanted to plant you in Republic space, have you integrate into the Republic military, and then wait for some sort of signal to do whatever it was you were programmed to do.
Do you have any idea how nervous that would make me? They sigh. I guess It makes me seem weird to others, but I'm one of those folks that considers droids to be just as much people as anyone else. I couldn't stand the thought of doing that to someone. I immediately sever my connection with the console and remove my interface probe.
What happened? I hesitate. What will they think of my latest recovered memory? A tense moment passes, but I answer. A Republic pilot I worked with before I became a Mandalorian said that they found me, and that after some probing, they discovered that I was a Sith sleeper droid. I presume she has enough to worry about with her own past. I do not expect she will be at all pleased to know that I was once something so vile.
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For that matter, I am also not at all pleased to know it. I was grateful, and I rendered my services to them until I was captured by the Mandalorians. But, I fear they may not have been able to erase all the data. I heard the name Tython once before, from one of the Mandalorian technicians analyzing me. After some event caused the trio to learn the word, one of them killed the other two and took possession of me. Sabina, though, asks the important question.
Why Oki would not have been able to find it and delete it or decommission me, however, I do not understand. It's stored on that thing inside you that you can't remember. The same thing that opened the hangar door when we arrived here. Xi gives a slight nod. That disturbance I sensed in the Force when the door opened, Ellie? It came from you. But, then you reminded me of something when you were concerned about traps—Force-touched technology.
And that, upon discovering it, Oki would have chosen not to remove it? I concede the point. But still, what sort of device could produce the disturbance you suggested? That could store data inaccessible through traditional means? If Oki discovered such a thing inside my chassis, he would have immediately decommissioned me and destroyed it. The Jedi are obligated to prevent the Sith from spreading their influence in the galaxy. Are you not going to destroy it, Xi?
By all rights, regardless of my well-being, she should destroy this device if it is truly a Sith Holocron. It is a dangerous artifact. Xi is appalled. Ellie, I'm not going to kill you over a Sith relic, and I don't believe for a second that Oki would have, either. Therefore, the object cannot possibly be a Sith Holocron. Xi has asked that I remain conscious while they investigate the device. I would question her wisdom aloud, but I am far too curious, so I accede. Sabina opens my chassis carefully. The object seems to be located within a false panel in my power core.
There is a Sith Holocron within me. I think it might function as your power supply, in addition to This thing is thousands of years old. There may be some Sith teachings on it, but otherwise, anything on it would have been out of date centuries ago. If Oki found this thing inside you, he probably decided to leave it, thinking that there was no way anyone could access it without your permission.
Still, though, I do not like having this thing inside me. Do you think that there is some way we could replace it with a power core that is less Sabina shrugs. I know how to open you up and look inside without breaking you, but that's about it. It has been hidden from me. In its place, they show a standard power supply. Railah responds, startling me. I had forgotten she was here. Why put something like that in a droid if you want to hide it in the schematic?
Any idiot with a hydrospanner could just crack you open and find it. Unless they were a droid scrapper, there would be no reason for the average technician to delve this deeply into my chassis. Xi frowns. Why would a Sith make it so easy to find their holocron? They would have to be awfully careless. Perhaps that purpose was spreading her knowledge, or using the Holocron to sow dissent among Jedi. Without my original data, I have no way of knowing.
I don't know how holocrons work, exactly, but if it stores data like you say, I'm sure it's got something on why it's inside the droid. The droid. I should have expected as much, but still, it is somewhat disappointing that she refers to me thusly. The knowledge it contains might be something better left forbidden, but the gatekeeper itself is just a holographic projection with an imprint of its creator's personality. If we wish to know what the Holocron contains, we should activate it. A Sith who has been dead for thousands of years? I am of the opinion that she should stay dead in every sense of the word, and that we should remove the Holocron via as safe a method as possible and destroy it.
You seriously don't want to know more about your past? Is that something I should be eager to learn about? I am becoming heated. Years with less than half a mind. When the Jedi set me free, I made sure my freedom was absolute, final. I swore that I would never be subservient again. I point an accusatory digit at her. You do not understand. Whatever struggles you may have been through, no matter how great, you have always been yourself.
You have always been a person. The room is silent. That is what you do not understand, Xi. Droids are not treated like people because people make them unlike people. They inhibit intelligence. They program orders to be so strong that there is no choice but to follow them. There was a point in my existence where I was deliberately suppressed to less than a sentient being. That's something an organic could not understand.
I am ashamed. It is some time before I can respond. I know you do, Sabina. I am sorry. If you fear your past, it has control over you. If you confront it, you can leave it behind knowing it's really past you. There is wisdom in her words. Activate it. Perhaps it contains a complete copy of my schematics, so we can know how to replace it.
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