Ben strode through the halls of the Jedi Temple. He turned the corner and went into the council chambers. Luke was looking at the holographic map of the galaxy that hung in the center of the room.
“You’re agitated, Ben,” he said turning away from the map to face Ben. Luke had a full beard that was going grey and white, very little of the color from his younger years as left in it or the hair atop his head. His eyes were bright though, seeming to pierce through Ben. “What has you upset?”
Ben stopped and sighed. He pushed his hair back from his face. “I cannot get R2 to tell me what Lando and my padawans were looking into.”
“I thought you were going to let them be and see what they came back with,” Luke said.
Ben looked past Luke to the map of the galaxy. “I was, but I think there is something wrong and I want to know where they went so I can go look.”
“Are you worrying or is this something the force is telling you?” Luke asked.
“I am not sure. A little bit of both I think. Something feels wrong with the force when I concentrate on them.” Ben looked at Luke. “I need to go find them.”
Luke stared at Ben for a long moment then nodded. He pulled a communicator from his robe. “R2, come up to the council chambers,” he said into his communicator. There was a whistle from the communicator that was echoed from down the hall.
R2D2 rolled into the chamber followed by C3PO. Luke looked at R2D2. “R2, do you have the information that Lando, Rae, and Lowbacca were asking for?”
R2D2 whistled in the affirmative. Luke pointed at the holographic map. “Please share it,” he said.
R2D2 hesitated long enough to get a kick from C3PO. “Do what Master Skywalker says, R2. You have been so stubborn lately.”
R2D2 rolled over to the wall and plugged into the scomp port. The map flickered and the information about what they had found appeared. Ben walked up to the screen and looked at it. “So they did find something,” he muttered. He looked back to Luke. “I am going to go to Takodana to see if I can catch up with them.”
“You know that by the time you get there, Ben, they will probably already be on the way back.”
“I doubt it, Luke. But I need to go do this, they are my padawans.”
Luke nodded. “Do what you feel you need to, Ben. I will see you when you get back.”
Ben nodded and almost ran out of the room. Once he was gone, Luke looked at R2D2. “Ok, spill it R2, why were you keeping that information from him?” R2D2 whistled and rocked back and forth on its legs.
“It is not your place to test Padawans,” C3PO said as it listened. “If something happens to them it will be on your head.”
Luke smiled at C3PO. “No, I told him to use his judgement to test people here.” He looked at R2D2 again. “You were testing Ben, not the padawans?”
R2D2 whistled in the affirmative then made a few more noises. “He just asked once then didn’t ask for the information again?” Luke asked.
After R2D2 whistled yes again, C3PO spoke up. “Until today, Master Solo did not appear like he cared that they had left without talking to him,” it said. It gestured to R2D2, “I am sure that Master Solo would have asked me to get the information from R2 if he was worried.”
Luke looked thoughtful. “Perhaps Ben senses something that none of us have.” He looked to C3PO. “Please set up a communication with Leia and Han for me this evening.”
Ben walked into the large hanger and headed to the back. An old Seiner Tie Scout sat by itself. His father had collected a few dozen ships from various impound and scrap yards in the core worlds with the Senate’s permission to have them refurbished and given to the Jedi to use. Ben didn’t know why, but he liked this old scout ship. When Luke said that he could claim it as his own, Ben began to work on it. Han had helped him quite a bit as had Chewie.
They had improved the ion engines, adding a third to the pair in the back, giving the scout a significant boost of speed. They had also added shielding to the ship making it significantly more survivable. The big upgrade that was made was to the hyperdrive. The hyperdrive on the ship was destroyed. Han was able to find a hyperdrive for a bigger ship, effectively giving the ship a .6 class rating. Ben had done more work on it over the years and was able to get even more speed giving it the effective class rating of .45.
Ben climbed up into the ship and sat in the pilot’s chair. The Scout had the same control set up as a Tie fighter, though. The cockpit was much larger though with seating for three, but Ben had added that. There was a galley, a room for him and a bunk room for up to three more beings. The cargo hold could hold enough supplies to last four people for up to eight months and contained two swoop bikes.
“R9, power up,” he said as he began the preflight check. Once the black and yellow R9 unit powered up Ben looked over at it. “Plot us a course to Takodana and send it to control.”
The R9 unit whistled and began running the calculations. Ben engaged the repulsor lifts and the Scout floated up into the air. He gently nudged it until he cleared out of the temple hangar then shot into the sky.
“Saint,” Renoka said getting his attention from where he was reading a report.
Saint looked up and blinked. “Noka, what’s up?” he asked.
“The Bright Dawn just took off. It barely transmitted its flight plan before it had left the system.”
“Where is it going?”
“Takodana,” Greez said from further back in the computer lab.
“How did you know?” Renoka asked.
“BD1 had Takodana flagged in the Temple’s main frame. A search tripped the flag and that was about ten minutes ago,” he said.
“Mysdia?” Saint said.
Mysdia itched under one of his leku. “Yeah, the old fart is right. He broadcasted a signal to Yavin control with his destination and didn’t bother to see if there was anyone in his way. As soon as he was out of the gravity well, he jumped to hyperspace.”
“Think he is after his padawans?” Greez asked.
Saint hummed. “I don’t know.” He looked over at Renoka. “Get Zed on the line for me.”
“How long are we waiting here?” Rose asked Finn.
“For the fifth time, Doctor, I do not know. Captain Phasma has not returned to the ship,” he said. “And until she does, I do not know the plans.” Finn sighed and chewed one of the nutrition bars from the ship’s galley. He wasn’t telling her the truth entirely. He knew that they have been going through and interrogating the lower staff.
Rose looked at him for a long moment. “You aren’t telling me the truth, are you?” she asked.
Finn sighed and dropped the bar on the table. They had been cooped up in the ship for three days now. “Fine, no, I have not been telling you the truth. The command staff that survived have been isolated from each other. The lower level staff are being interrogated by II as we talk. They are trying to figure out what caused the clones to go rogue. If anyone is suspected of deliberate sabotage, then they will probably be executed.”
Rose blinked. “And what about the command staff?” she asked.
Finn looked at her knowing she probably wasn’t going to like what he said next. “They will remain isolated from each other. They will probably be taken to different facilities to be interrogated and have the information that they give up compared to what information they have already figured out. If any of the command staff are found to have been complicit in this, then they will receive a very public trial followed by a public execution.”
“And what about those that were not complicit?” she asked.
“If they had nothing to do with it, they will be transferred somewhere that they can still serve the Empire until everyone is satisfied that they pose no danger before they are allowed to regain their rank and privileges.” He picked up the bar and bit what was left in half.
Rose put her arms around herself, hugging herself tightly. “So, even though I did nothing wrong and I am going to cooperate, I am pretty much going to be treated as if I was responsible?”
“That would be an accurate assessment,” K7 said from the doorway. It looked at Finn. “Captain Phasma messaged and said that we would be leaving within two hours. I will begin the preflight checks on the ship.” It turned and walked to the cockpit.
Somehow K7’s affirmation of what was going to happen made it even more real. She had heard stories of the galactic empire was ruthless in the way that it dealt with failure. Some of the old teachers she had said that this Empire was not quite a ruthless but even they had heard of people who had caused issues just vanishing. She looked at the door from the galley to the rest of the ship.
“There isn’t any place you can go,” Finn said after he swallowed. “If you try to run, you will just spend the rest of the trip locked in quarters or sedated until we reach destination.” He looked at the last piece of the bar. “That would reflect poorly on your status for interrogation.”
“I think you are making it sound worse that it is,” she said.
Finn looked at Rose. “Probably. But I am not going to lie to you about what is going to happen. No point in it.”
“And if there was a point to lie to me, would you?” she asked.
He studied the doctor for a moment. “Without a second thought,” he answered.
“Yet you paused there?” she asked.
“Because I was trying to figure out why you were asking me that question, Doctor,” he said and popped the last piece in his mouth. He stood up and walked out of the galley and into the cockpit.
Rose watched him go and sighed hugging her arms around herself. She had a bad feeling about what was coming but she was helpless to do anything. She flipped on the holo viewer and brought up the planetary network trying to find something to distract her. As she flipped from video to video, most of it was things she had seen before or brief news snippets from around this section of the galaxy. Other than a small video warning against any civilians going into the Wayhill district, there was no news on the orbital bombardment and the destruction of the entire facility.
She wondered if everyone would just ignore what happened. If they would tell themselves that what happened here had nothing to do with them. Or if they were scared that this was going to happen to them too.
Rose’s thoughts were interrupted by Captain Phasma coming down the corridor. The tall woman stopped just before the hatch to the cockpit and looked in at Rose. She didn’t say anything but just stared at her.
Rose stared back. The chrome pseudo death’s head staring blankly back at her unnerved her. There was no emotion or feeling in the look. Rose had the distinct feeling that she would feel the same if she could see the woman’s face.
“We will be taking off soon, Doctor,” she said. “It will be a two-day flight to Essuscaan where you will be debriefed.” Phasma gestured toward the cargo hold. “Your personal effects were just loaded. Your issued sidearm has been stored in the ship’s armory was the holdout pistol that we found. You may either stay here during takeoff or you can sit in the cockpit.”
Rose nodded. “Thank you,” she managed. She pushed herself to her feet and followed Phasma into the cockpit. The K7 unit was in one of the rear seats, Finn was in the pilots chair.
Phasma stood behind Finn for a moment. “Set course for Essuscaan 4,” she told him. “We have been cleared to leave.”
“Yes, Ma’am,” he said and began to key in the location into the ships navi-computer.
“I will be in my quarters,” Phasma said and turned stepping around Rose.
Rose looked at the two empty seats and decided to sit in the co-pilots seat. Finn continued to enter the information. “Do you know how to pilot?” he asked.
“I’m qualified on the Tessera class light transport,” she said.
Finn nodded. “The controls are similar just the placement is different. Please don’t touch anything.”
Rose leaned back in the chair. “Don’t worry, I have no idea where we are going.”
“Essuscaan 4 is the fourth moon of the gas giant Essuscaan. It is the capitol of the Essuscaan system,” K7 offered. “It is also the capitol of Sector B. The Essuscaan shipyards are located in the outer reaches of the Essuscaan lunar orbits. It has one of the most lucrative mining operations in Sector B. My line was reestablished there.” K7 turned back to the console it was working on. “And it is also where the head of Imperial Intelligence is located.”
Finn sighed. “K7, I can handle this. Go back to your charging cradle. Captain Phasma or I will reactivate you when we need you next.”
K7 stood. “As you wish, Finn,” it said and left the cockpit.
“Is it normally that talkative?” Rose asked when the hatch slid shut.
“Sometimes. I need to remember to get it wiped when we get to Essuscaan. I’ve done it before, but it always seems to work better when it is done by an actual tech.” Finn looked down at the calculations the navi-computer provided. He picked up the preflight check list that K7 had been working on and continued it.
“You’re part of II, aren’t you?” Rose didn’t look at him when she asked the question.
“Yeah, but you should have already known. Over half of the Finn series work in II.”
“What about the other half?”
He flipped a switch and the engines powered up. There was a hum and a thud as the landing ramp closed. “I don’t know,” he said. “It is not like we keep up with each other. Though I think that they are all in II in some fashion or another.”
Rose felt the ship move a little as the repulsor field came online and lifted the ship. There was a hum as the landing gear retracted into the housing. As the ship started to rise up something caught her eye. “What is that?” she said pointing toward the command building for the cloning facility.
Finn looked to se where she was pointing and keyed a few controls. A hologram sprung up on top of the console before them and Finn made a motion with his hand. The scene enlarged to show the building. There were several squads of stormtroopers in armor and dozens of unarmored clones.
Rose studied the scene for a moment. “Those are the clones that put the command building on lockdown to keep the renegade clones from getting in.”
The clones stood at parade rest facing their stormtrooper brethren. “I wonder why they let them out of quarantine,” Finn said, not really watching the hologram as he throttled the ship up.”
“I don’t know,” Rose said. “They locked themselves in so that if there was something wrong they would not be able to hurt the… No!”
Finn looked over to Rose at her exclamation, then at the hologram. He watched as the Stormtroopers began firing on the clones, cutting them down. Some of the clones seemed resigned to their fate, others tried to run. There was no escape for any of them though.
Rose had covered her mouth with her hands as if she were trying to hold back a scream. The stormtroopers walked around the clones, occasionally firing their rifles into the bodies to ensure that they were dead. There was a popping sound of cracking plastic. Rose looked over at Finn and saw a crack running along the control yoke where he had squeezed it so hard that the plastic had fractured. She reached up and turned off the hologram.
Finn said nothing for a long moment as the ship ascended into the air. He finally took a deep breath and let it out slowly. He forced his hands to relax on the controls. He looked at the controls and pinched the cracked piece, pushing it back into place. He would have to fix that when he could get to a machine shop.
Rose watched Finn. “Are you ok?” she asked.
He didn’t look at her. “I am fine,” he said. His jaws flexed.
Rose nodded. She debated on saying something but finally decided against it. She still couldn’t believe that they had just killed the clones. At the very least, they should have been observed and studied to figure out why the others went rogue. That would probably mark the end of the Wayhill series. And those already in service will be under even stricter observation unless they are deemed to risky.