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Location: Silke Asteroid Field

The Players: Siika, Sarna, Delphine

The mottled maelstrom of hyperspace dissolves into a series of white lines, as stars warp back into their natural state around the //Servant Mercy//.

Seated in the pilot's seat, Siika Gast checks a few instruments before leaning back into her seat, draping a hand lazily upon an armrest. "Well, here we are," she says, and motions out of the viewport toward the vast array of rocks hung against the stars of space. "The Silke Asteroid Belt." Narrowing her eyes, she studies the impressive visage, stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions. "Wow," she mutters quietly, and a subtle grin forms on her face. "That's something....!"

As for the //Servant Mercy//, it's a nice ship, as far as ships go. A yacht that was previously owned by her family, most of the ship has found its interior modified to turn it into a mobile workshop of sorts; bulkheads have been ripped away to make space for parts storage and machinery, and many of the luxury areas have been stripped down to make room for an assortment of droids that are in various states of disrepair, upgrade, or anywhere in between. The cockpit, however, remains untouched; its sleek surfaces and colorful computer interfaces tell of the luxury this ship once held.


The blonde woman had been on the "Servant Mercy" before. When Delphine boards the ship a second time her thoughts immediately return to mech fighter Trina. It was not long ago that she and Siika had rescued the other woman from the Orum's Bastion cantina and the firefight that broke out there. It was still unknown what specifically all the others were there for - there was a Regency man she now knew was named Kalden and Trina had an obligation to him. But the other man, Ravace, who may be the person the whispers around the Cresh all call The Envoy. Or not. That was why they were here in the Silke, to find Ravace with some trickery involving asteroids.

Delphine sits in one of the rear accelerator seats, ready to assist or stay out of the way as needed. The Acolyte had been out of the loop between handling Kira and sending subspace messages to other roaming Enclave members who may be in Malideus path. As they come out of hyperspace she asks, "How far into the belt do we need to go?" Then Siika notices something and Delphine leans forward, grabbing the co-pilot seat to pull herself forward and get a better view. "What is it?"


Behind Siika's seat, Sarna is strapped in, watching as the ship comes out of hyperspace. She cranes her neck to look around and get a better view of the asteroid belt, her fingertips drumming on the arms of her chair. For the most part she's stayed quiet during the trip, though she did enjoy a self-guided tour of some of Siika's droid companions. Vee-Four has locked himself into position on the deck and his cone-shaped head rotates about and whistles a questioning tone. "Yes, I know, this is our first asteroid belt, Vee," she says to him lowly. "Pretty much everything is a first these days, remember?" She swallows and opens herself to the Force, dissipating her nervousness and bringing her thoughts into focus.


"I don't know," Siika admits. "It may be nothing." She turns toward the nav-droid that's plugged into the expansive navigational computer. "B-4, deep scan sector, uh...." She leans forward to scroll through grids on one scanning panel. "Twenty seven point five."

The little navigational droid chirps an affirmative, and plugs an ancillary arm into the navigational computer's port. It twists and turns, and after a few moments, a holographic square appears upon the forward viewport. It flashes, then zooms in once, then twice, then a third time. There, dead center, lies a massive derelict ship that lies adrift within the asteroid field.

"Thats...." Siika leans to the side and scrolls through another computer, then hisses through her teeth. "That's a Regency ship. Telford-class, decommissioned twenty years ago. It's been there for a long time."

Turning toward Vee-Four, she asks, "Can you get a read on the asteroid activity in the area?"


Were Delphine a mercenary she'd see creds in such a ship, unless of course salvagers had already strip the vessel Siika is honing in on. She sits back and clears her mind. If this was to be their target ship, it was best if the only remnants of life were the dead. Reaching out to sense but there's some 'noise' of non-sentient life coming from various formations in the cluster where the Servant Mercy had arrived. To Siika she intones, "It will be there for many more. No need to rush, navigating this field..."


Sarna wraps her hand around the side of the chair in front of her, and her eyes scan the holographic readout that focuses in on the distant, drifting ship. The young Jedi glances at Siika's profile as she purses her lips into a small smile. "That should work nicely, don't you think?" she ventures. Behind her, Vee-Four beeps in excitement at being asked to help, and he plugs into a terminal to access the ship's scanners. The port whirs and clicks as it turns, and Vee-Four belts a series of whistles, and his master quickly translates. "Vee-Four says there's little movement around the derelict, but navigation will be difficult."


Breathing out a quiet breath, Siika turns to look at her companions, and nods her head slowly. "Okay. Alright, Vee-Four, I'm gonna route you into the nava-computer. Keep your eyes out for, like, anything I can't see, okay?" She then reaches over and punches a big blue button, causing shields to shimmer to life around the ship.

"Here we go," she says quietly, and gently urges the throttle forward, sending the //Servant Mercy// into the imposing asteroid field.

"I've never done this before," she says nervously, with wide eyes as the rocks loom closer and closer. "I don't suppose either of you know how to fly a ship this size?" Her eyes cast from Delphine to Sarna, remembering her talking about being proficient with much larger ships.


Delphine lifts a pale brow of alarm when it sounds like Siika want's to cede the pilot's seat. The Acolyte considers but then looks to Sarna. "I could do it but maybe you have more experience?" The girl's life had been spent on a ship after all, until recently. Since then she'd rode a whirlwind. "And I agree. The ship will do nicely." She wishes she had more of a working knowledge of Regency hardware but that's not one of her areas of study. "Hopefully the dock isn't far from the bridge. Or can you do it from any comms station?"


Sarna's big green-and-gold eyes narrow as her expression turns to one of concentration. She senses the ripples as Delphine reaches out to detect any hidden life-forms, and she is alert for any hint of danger.

Vee-Four chirps an affirmative as the navi-computer is linked to his systems, and he begins plotting the safest course through the drifting asteroids to the derelict ship. The map displays on the viewport and the Sarna tips back her head and scans the readout. "That looks good, Vee-Four," she praises him. Then, glancing between the two women, she offers a smile and a shrug. "I can fly it if you like. It shouldn't be a problem," she replies easily, as if she were being asked to fly a kite instead of navigate a treacherous asteroid field.


Reaching over, Siika bangs a fist on the empty co-pilot's seat. "Get up here and be ready to take over if I shit my trousers."

The rocks begin to take over the viewport as Siika moves the controls, carefully following the plot being laid out by Vee-Four. "That's good, Vee-Four. That's really good. You're doing great." Her tone is calmer, perhaps just knowing that she's surrounded by friends is helping to quell her anxiety. Still, her eyes are glued to the plot, trying very hard not to pay attention to the rocks and float about around them.

As they draw closer and closer to the derelict craft, however, there comes a ripple in the Force. Something cold and menacing, coming from the large vessel that they are steadily approaching.


Delphine grins as Siika gets her co-pilot into position. Despite all the danger that they'd encountered in the last weeks, the Acolyte is having the time of her life. Kira was right about one thing - an adventure does bond people, if not in the way the Nahrahm woman meant. Gladly she sits back and returns to reaching out with her senses for anything that might prove a danger to the group. But not before she idly wonders if any of Siika's little companions are suited for danger themselves. "Are any of your friends combat ready?"


"Sure thing," Sarna says as she unhooks her restraint and clambers into the co-pilot's chair. Taking a moment to orient herself as Siika throttles them forward along Vee-Four's plotted course, she flicks her gaze over the control panels and readouts, then glances back to give Vee-Four a thumbs up. "Nice job, buddy," she says with a grin --

A grin that just as quickly dissolves from her features. Turning back to stare at the derelict ship through the viewport, she gasps and sits back hard in the seat as her blood suddenly runs cold. "Wait. What is that?" she whispers, her hands clenching. "Lady Aurelia... do you feel that?"


"Well, there's BLM-1," Siika answers, referencing the droid she 'stole' from Orum's Bastion. "But he's the man of the hour. Can't put him in harms way, can't even risk bringing him online. Then there's Boomer." She smirks wryly. "You'll love him, he's a real piece of work."

Completely unaware of anything that may be going south, Siika grimaces as two asteroids collide and pepper the ship with shrapnel, dissolved by the flashing shields. "Dank Ferrik," she curses, and leans the vessel to port, going around the destruction. "Vee, you stay on top of it now, okay?"

Something haunts the vessel that they are approaching. Something old and filled with malice. It is sleeping... it has been sleeping for many, many years, but it is there, like an icy shroud that fills the vessel from bulkhead to bulkhead.


"Boomer. That sounds promising," Delphine replies to Siika. She startles when the debris hits their shields. Before the padawan says anything, Delphine feels something find her and she shuts the connection down quickly. "Vile. Brooding..." The Acolyte strengthens her mental shields and reaches out again, this time only assessing the physical. "And large! But Vee-Four didn't find lifeforms on the Telford-class ship? Maybe it's just energy or maybe it's cloaking its form somehow."


Sarna leans forward and bites her lower lip, her brows drawn together in concentration. She ignores everything else for a moment as she explores this strange presence, trying to gauge something more certain about it and fighting back her trepidation. When she blinks and comes back to awareness, the two women are discussing droids and Vee-Four is bleating a confirmation. "Right. No life forms," she translates, then looks at Lady Aurelia, impressed with her assessment. "At least according to the scanners. But I'm sensing something out there, and whatever it is... isn't nice."


Through her concentration on flying, Siika catches the conversation and frowns. She guides the ship back into the corrected course plotted by Vee-Four, but she's worrying at her own lip in an all too familiar manner. "Okay, you girls are creeping me out," she admits. "What could possibly be wrong with ship that doesn't have any life forms? The thing's been out here for years. Even if there is-"

She pauses, long enough to bank the yacht around the latest obstacle, bringing the derelict Regency ship into the forefront. "Even if there were people left on board, their rations would have run out a long time ago."

Reaching with a free hand, she pats her nav droid on the dome. "B-4, scan for an open docking bay, or a hatch where we can dock. It looks like it still has power, if there are mag shields we can put down in a docking bay."

The little droid chirps and gets to work.


Delphine deepens her meditation allowing herself to probe the presence further. Her aspect darkens and she sits back firm against her seat. Her mouth opens and a voice that sounds like she's speaking through a vocoder filter comes out. "Goooooooo...." She takes in a deep breath and her eyes roll back in her head as she continues to channel mysterious energy. "Or diiiiiiiiiiiie...." Then with a few huffs of her breath she snaps out of it. Lacking confidence in her words, she says,m "I...I think it will be okay. If it's noncorporeal, what could it do to us? Maybe it's just loud?"


Sarna hides her alarm that they're moving forward with the plan before assessing the danger she can sense lurking in the old Regency vessel. "I don't think it's the original crew we're talking about," she says with a frown. "But I don't know what it is." She silently curses her lack of experience and knowledge of this corner of the galaxy, and turns pleading eyes on the Acolyte. "What do you think?"


As Delphine sits back and an altogether different voice is emitted from her mouth, the girl's eyes go wide and she reaches out to assess if she's all right. "What the hell?" she utters. "What the hell was that?" When the Acolyte comes back to her senses and declares that the entity must be safe, Sarna makes a sound of disagreement and shakes her head. "I don't know. I have a bad feeling about this."

Delphine's voice causes the hairs on Siika's neck to stand upright, and she whips her head around for a moment, staring at her. "What the-!"

With nearly the same speed, her neck whips back around, servos audibly moving as she refocuses on her flying.

Slowly, Siika lowers the throttle and eyeballs the old Regency vessel with a stern frown. "A bad feeling?" she asks, and casts a cursory glance toward Sarna. "Like, a 'we shouldn't go here and search the asteroid belt for another ship" bad feeling, or like, a 'this isn't worth it' bad feeling?"

She turns from Sarna and begins manually parsing through the data from B-4, her eyes attentive upon the readout. "No life forms. Some old combat droids, but they're all off-line. The ship is running on provisional power. Usually something that kicks in when the bridge goes unmanned for a long period of time." She leans back, frowning. "It's a shoe in. We land, we go to the bridge, we plug this -" She indicates a small data rod produced from one of her pockets. "- into the comm array, and we're gone. Back to Valentine's World and Lincoln's unnaturally hot mom."

Turning, she looks to Sarna and then to Delphine. "That was seriously creepy," she murmurs.


Blowing out a breath from between her lips, the conflict is clear on the Padawan's face. But as she turns back to face the viewport, Sarna shakes off the memory of that menacing voice coming from Delphine and steels herself. "You're right. It should be easy peasy. I don't think it's worth calling off the mission. This is important. Just... be careful. Everyone be careful, and stay together, no matter what." A curling lock of hair falls in front of her eyes and she pushes it back behind her ear, looking across at the cybernetic girl's profile. "How's the life support on the ship?"


"Stable," Siika confirms. "Thank the Maker, rebreathers are a huge pain in the arse."

Guiding the ship forward, she aims toward one of the docking bays, looking on with a sense of wonder as it passes through the magnetic shield and into the breathable air of an otherwise dead ship. "Okay, Vee-Four, let's make sure this is a nice, easy landing," she asks, and turns control over to the droid.

The docking bay itself is filled with a variety of Regency shuttles, drop ships and fighters, all parked in an organized manner. One would think the ship was in perfect working order, were it not for the absolute lack of motion, activity, or life. No corpses either, save for a handful of skeletons that are barely visible within the cockpits of two or three fighters. A sign that, perhaps, they were prepping to dispatch.

Vee-Four guides the //Servant Mercy// into a soft landing, and the vessel hisses as its flight controls are disengaged.

Unbuckling her harness, Siika turns to face her companions. "See?" she offers, with an encouraging smile that isn't fully convincing. "Nothing to worry about."


Curiously, Sarna studies the docking bay as the ship glides on board, that worrying presence still gnawing at the edges of her perceptions. She frowns at the sight of the skeletal pilots in the starfighters, and scratches at her chin. "If the ship is intact, what killed those pilots? Why didn't they take off and escape?" she wonders aloud. Once the ship has settled, she unclips her buckle and gives Siika a smirk. "I think you're trying to convince yourself of that as much as the rest of us," she says with an arched brow. "But come on, let's get this over with."


Delphine is not as at ease as she lets on. She rises from her seat and follows the other two women out onto the tarmac of the hangar bay. The presence keeps licking at the edge of her perception and she feels light-headed. "Wooooo! That took it out of me back there...." Recalling their startled look she purses her lips impatiently. "It's called channeling. I was momentarily...not possessed by it...but I gave it a voice. That's all. Melding energy and emotions into words...." she says as they walk along. She has no answers regarding the pilots but she does check the powercells on her blaster as she starts feeling more and more herself. Taking the safety off she says, "Let's go."


'Boomer', as he's so aptly nicknamed, is an old combat droid that is mostly nonfunctional. He has no legs, and only one arm, but that arm is fixed with a mean looking plasma cannon. He sits aimed at the boarding ramp, the ever watchful sentinel.

Grasping Boomer's chassis, Siika hefts him onto her shoulders, two straps fixed to his body that wrap around her torso and make him into something of a mechanical backpack.

"Expecting trouble?" Boomer vocodes as he comes online.

"Hopefully not," Siika answers, and withdraws a small button attached to the droid by way of a cable. "But, you know, watch my six, just in case?"

"I live to serve and protect, Mistress Siika."

Grinning, for but a moment, Siika follows Delphine down the ramp and into the hangar bay. The smile fades, and she cocks an eye toward Delphine with curiosity. "So that's what had you two freaked out back there?" she asks, and quietly looks around. "Maybe it has something to do with why this is a dead ship."

Steeling her nerves, Siika points toward a bank of turbo lifts. "That way, yeah?"


Delphine follows along, grinning at Boomer as he becomes an extension of Siika. But her expression grows serious when the focus returns to the presence she and Sarna had sensed. "Let's hope not. I don't want to have to face something so...dark and unbalanced if we can avoid it." She pauses at the turbo lifts, hoping the ships power doesn't fluxuate and strand them. Even so, she follows Siika to the bank. "Lead on..."


On the way off the ship, Sarna pauses and breaks off a piece of wire from a wayward droid part and uses it to secure her voluminous hair into a makeshift knot on the back of her head. She follows Siika and Delphine, frowning at the Acolyte's description of what they'd just witnessed. "Are you all right, though?" Sarna is aware no one has speculated on what happened to the pilots, and she ignores them as her hand comes to rest reassuringly on her lightsaber hilt as they head for the turbolifts. "Siika? Do you want Vee-Four to stay on the ship, or think we might need him with us?" Pausing she glances back over her shoulder where the little droid has perched himself at the top of the ramp where he warbles sadly. "We have Boomer," she adds, giving the old combat droid an appreciative grin.


"We need him," Siika confirms, and gestures for Vee-Four to follow. "Come on, little buddy!" she encourages him. "I need you to slice into that panel there and tell us how to get to the command center."

Turning back to Sarna and Delphine, she explains, "I need to plug that data stick into the main comm array. It'll have the computing power and juice to do the dirty deed. We've kinda hit pay dirt here... I can monitor BLM-1's transmissions and there's no way it'll be traced back to the //Servant Mercy//. Not with the kind of comm power a ship like this has."

As they wait for Vee-Four, Siika's eyes are upon Delphine. She's worried too... she doesn't know as much as her companions, but she's hijacked enough transmissions to know bad news when she sees it.


The Acolyte seems non-plussed by her experience channeling the Entity as her mind begins to refer to the malevolent presence. She watches the girls put their droids to work but then notices both sets of worried eyes upon her. Her brows flick together in annoyance. "What?!" she says, then rolls her seaglass eyes. "I'm fine. And it seems less in here." Or maybe she was getting used to it whispering in her mind. "Sarna...what do you think?"


With a squeal of delight, Vee-Four wheels down the ramp and is following Siika's orders in no time. Sarna stays close to her little droid, still wary, and waits while he plugs himself into the indicated control panel. He whirs and clicks, sounding frustrated, but then the panel lights up red and a map appears. Much as he had earlier, Vee-Four analyzes the readout and plots a path to reach the command center from here, and a haphazard yellow line flashes on the screen.

"Nice job, buddy," she says, turning back to her companions. Delphine's insistence that she's fine draws a worried look, but Sarna closes her eyes and reaches out with her senses, one hand lifting palm down into the air before her. She seems to get lost in whatever she sees, her breathing growing very slow and still, and when her lashes finally lift again she murmurs, "It's... sleeping. Whatever it is. Something ancient and... hungry? But no... it is asleep now." Her hazel green eyes flick between the two women. "I suggest we be very, very quiet."


As for Siika, she seems to be unaffected by the responses of both Delphine and Sarna. She's aware that something is at play here that is simply beyond her comprehension, but each of the responses draw her eyebrows together. "Quiet," she answers quietly, and nods her head. "Right." Her face turns toward Vee-Four. "You hear that, handsome? Keep it on the low volume setting."

The turbolift doors open, allowing the group to enter. Following Vee-Four's instructions, the lift carries them upward, then diverts forward, carrying them on a direct route to the command center without incident.

When the doors open, the bridge is revealed. The consoles are still online, but there are no signs of any crewmembers; not even their corpses. A dozen combat droids line the port and starboard walls, all of them offline or at the very least in standby mode.

Creeping quietly out of the turbo lift, Siika's eyes roam here and there, a frown upon her face. "What the hell happened here," she nearly whispers. "There... there're no bodies."

Still, the ship remains quiet, and whatever entity sleeps here remains in its cold slumber. However, as the group enters, one particular console seems to be flashing with a blue light. A soft beeping sound accompanies it.


Delphine holds her blaster at the ready when the lift doors open onto the bridge. A quick survey as she steps into the area and she sees no reason to keep it out. Return the safety she holsters it once again and strides forward, white cloak and golden hair billowing out behind her as she goes to the blinking console. "Hmm. Give me a minute..." Whether it was an outbound message or beacon or one just meant for someone happening upon the bridge just like these three women it's hard to tell. With a zap of electricity, the unit nearly shorts out when Delphine flicks a switch, old wires grown too brittle to handle the slightest increase in load. "Ow! Okay...here's something...maybe...."


The little droid nods his cone-shaped head vigorously at Siika, and he emits a low whistle of agreement. With Vee-Four at her heels, Sarna follows Delphine to the blinking console, keeping her footfalls as soft as she can. She nervously shushes the Lady's exclamation and looks over her shoulder to see what's displayed on the monitor. "We didn't pick up a beacon, did we?" she whispers to Siika. "What does it say, Lady Aurelia?"


A new light appears upon the console before Delphine, projecting into the air. A holoprojection, flickering in failure at first, before eventually revealing the visage of a Regency commander mid-sentence.

"- attempts to communicate with the entity failed until twenty minutes ago, when our systems became compromised. We no longer have control over the //Vindicator//. All attempts at communicating with High Centre are being reflected back. It seems to be coming from the nebulae in question."

Siika watches the holographic recording for a moment or two, before shaking her head. "That's no beacon," she explains. "It's... it's a recording."

"We are attempting to regain computer control, but have thus far been unsuccessful. If this recording is intercepted, I would advise the High Council to give up this futile crusade." The commander pauses, looking away at something off camera for a moment. "If we can't regain control, then, sadly, I'm afraid we'll be stuck here."

Hissing between her teeth, Siika turns away and makes her way toward other consoles, searching for the primary communications array.


At the console, Delphine backs up so that she can watch the recording without neck strain. She leans casually on another control panel nearby, taking in all this commander from decades ago says about his situation. "Maybe they did abandon ship..." She fusses with the controls near the recording but finds no other communications logged there after this one. "But no matter what...I don't like what we've now learned about the Entity," she says using the same name the ship's commander did. "If it can leave this ship dead in space, who know what it's capable of. I suggest we make this quick!"


"What futile crusade were they on?" Sarna wonders in a high-pitched voice, staring at the projected image of the Regency officer as it relays the last events on board the Vindicator. "I don't like this, either. The entity took control of their ship? Let's hurry." She joins Siika, searching along the banks of consoles from the opposite end for the controls to the communications array. "Hells, where is it?" she mutters, squinting. Vee-Four beeps emphatically to get her attention, and with a gasp she nods and points to the little droid. "I think he's found it there, Siika!"


"Working on it," Siika whole heartedly agrees, moving from one end of the communications array to the other until Vee-Four finds what they are looking for.

"Yes!" Prying open a panel, Siika retrieves her data stick, gives it a kiss, and plugs it into the exposed data port.

Meanwhile, the holographic recording continues. "Our technicians have-" The recorded commander stops cold. "Wait a minute." He turns and looks in another direction, then points an angry finger. "What the hell? Turn off those combat droids!" Suddenly, the sound of blaster fire fills the recording, and the commander can be seen ducking. Stray bolts criss cross the recording, and he comes upright with a blaster of his own, firing back. "Deactivate the contingent!" he cries between shots, when suddenly, the sound of air rushing fills the recording. The commander screams and is whipped right off his feet, sucked out of view.

Then, the recording goes dead.

Siika turns to watch it, and slowly backs up toward Sarna, her expression spooked. ".... decompression." Her eyes turn toward the deactivated combat droids, then back to the dead recording. "It... someone blew the hatches." She turns to Delphine and Sarna, her eyes wider than they've ever been. "//That's// why there're no bodies!"


Now even the unflappable Acolyte is getting spooked. "We really need to go!" she exclaims and scans the room full of the very same battle droids. Did they have any life left in them. "Vee-Four. Make sure to let us know if anything starts coming online that you can shut down, please?" With an air of command Delphine walks the array of control panels. She had plenty of times as an honored guest on Regency ships to have observed from the bridge what systems were where. But inside her head The Entity tests and tries to find a chink in her mental armor. She shrugs it off abruptly. "How long till we can get out of here Siika?"


Sarna's mouth drops open as the recording plays out the last moments of the crew of the ship they're now standing on, and she grasps Delphine's arm next to her. Her gaze flicks between the deactivated droids and the panel where Siika is plugging into the data port. Siika's assessment makes her blood run cold and she blinks. "All the hatches on the whole ship? They didn't have a chance," she laments. "Vee-Four, everything all right over there?"

The little droid chirps in the affirmative, alert to any changes in the battle droids's status or any other systems. "Do you think the entity took control of the droids?" she asks Delphine quietly, not wanting to raise more alarm than she has to.


"Almost there," Siika says with a trembling tone, staring at the readout that shows her program being downloaded into the comm array. "Blast it, hurry up!" she urges the computer.

The blocks finally reach full capacity, and Siika all but rips her data stick free of its port. "Done! Now let's get the hell out of here," she says, and starts running for the open turbolift doors.


Delphine is surprised when Sarna gloms onto her. She doesn't offer words of assurance but tries to clear the fear in the room. "Calm yourself...breathe..." she says, though Sarna would be surprised that Delphine also directed that at herself. She looks down at the panel she's near and pulls up some readings. "So...systems log says there was a massive power surge just before everything went dormant. And I mean...like....//right// before. I think the Entity is able to merge with the ship's power and other systems." Then Delphine reels, stumbling out of Sarna's grasp and against the control console as a wave of negative energy runs through her making her cry out against it and grasp the side of her head. "Aaahh...."

"Who's not calm? Everybody's calm," Sarna says, then blinks in alarm as Delphine staggers away in obvious pain. She extends her senses, trying to ascertain the cause, and she goes to the Acolyte and searches her face worriedly, placing her hands on her shoulders. "Are you okay? She's done it!" The young girl watches Siika head for the lifts, and she gives the blonde a gentle tug. "Come on, we can go now!"

Vee-Four looks ready to disengage and be off himself, but when Sarna and Delphine are delayed, he remains plugged in and vigilant, his ocular sensors blinking at those sleeping battle droids.


Spinning about, Siika stares in alarm at the cry from Delphine. With her back to the turbolift and the lines of battle droids, she scurries back over and reaches for Delphine's other arm. "Please," she says, quietly trying to urge with as calm a voice as she can manage. "Whatever is going on here, we can out run it." She nods her head twice, a forced smile upon her face.

Just about the time when Vee-Four is to raise his own alarm, there comes a tremor in the Force. A tremor not unlike that of a frustrated yawn; something asleep, no longer.

Which is exactly when a loud 'SHPEW!!!' comes from Siika's back.

Boomer lowers his smoking arm, which had come to be pointed at the battle droids. Two of them are now a tangled pile of cables and metal, with a huge score mark in the bulkhead beyond.

"Mistresses," Boomer vocodes. "Danger."

Previously lifeless eyes have now come online with a menacing red hue. One by one, the battle droids heads rise, and begin turning to look at the intruders.


Voicelessly Delphine nods as she's urged to get going, glad to have the support of the two other women. "I'm fine," she asserts though she's obviously not. Her aura begins to drain should Sarna notice and if possible the fair blonde pales further, her cheeks losing color. But still Delphine pushes, one boot ahead of the other, gaining strength with each step until she's able to sprint.


The sound of the blaster fire makes Sarna turn and gasp, and she watches the battle droids go down from Boomer's weapon. "Siika!" she calls, relieved the cybernetic girl is all right, and together they help get Delphine moving once more. The Acolyte's condition worries Sarna, but there's no time to worry about it now. "Go, go!" she urges. "C'mon, Vee!"

At last the tiny droid retrieves his port arm and hauls himself after the women as the three of them make a mad dash for the turbolift doors.


"This isn't happening, this isn't happening," Siika grumbles as they run for the lift doors. Her eyes glimpse the droids as they begin stepping off their charging platforms, raising their arms and charging their weapons.

"Go, go, go!!!"

The trio just barely make it into the lift when the blaster bolts start streaking through the air. Vee-Four comes inches from being pulverized, a scorch mark rising from the deck just a hair behind his wheel. However, once they're in, Siika punches the button and the door slides closed, leaving the muted sound of blaster fire on the other side.

"Ghost ship!" she exclaims, looking at the others with wide eyes and a pale face. "It's a blasted ghost ship!" She turns to the doors, fearful. "We aren't any safer in here, except, if they blow the hatches, at least... at least we won't get sucked out into space." She turns to Vee-Four and says, "Get us back to the hangar bay!"


Once inside the lift, Delphine can stand on her own. She lets the flurry of fear around her go by and stands against the back wall. Entering into meditation she is still, her features placid except for the color coming back to her face. By the time they reach the hangar bay, she should be back to full strength. In fact she rouses before the doors open, though that can't be soon enough for her. "I think it used me to get back into the ship...when I activated the recording and got that little shock..."


As she's running, Sarna grabs her lightsaber, ready to ignite and defend them should the droids start firing, but they make the final leap just in time, and Vee-Four squeals in fear as he's nearly blasted to bits. The door shuts and she catches her breath while the little droid plugs in and directs the lift to carry them back to the hangar, and she rubs her temples, trying to formulate a plan. "Boomer," she says, holding up a finger. "When we get to the hangar, I want you to magnetize to the deck if it looks like hatches are going to get blown, all right?" She pivots her gaze to Siika and Delphine. "If it happens, grab onto him for dear life, and I'll get us safely onto your ship. Got it?"

The Acolyte's words bring a frown to Sarna's face. "Can you tell what 'it' is?" she asks. "Or what exactly it wants, besides turning us into space popsicles?"


To Sarna, Siika's eyebrows rise and she nods her head rapidly. It's a solid plan, a solid one indeed, and it manages to draw a slight smirk to a face that is otherwise horrorstruck.

"Affirmative, Mistress Friend of Siika."

"Sarna," she quietly corrects Boomer.

The turbolift slows to a halt, but the doors do not open. The flashing indicators show that they have not yet reached the hangar bay; it lingers three flights below where the lift has stopped.

Turning, Siika crouches down next to Vee-Four, and pets his cone bead. "Vee-Four, it's time to unplug, pal." Whatever it is that's infesting this ship, she does not want it getting into his circuits.


"It wants us dead!" is all Delphine can glean from the feeling when it...when it what? When it passed through her on the bridge. "It hates us. It hates our living Force. It wants it for itself...it wants to grow. But it's stuck here."

When the lift stops short she goes to the controls and starts hitting buttons, trying to activate it or open the doors. "Blast it!" She exclaims then adds with urgency, "We've got to get out of this thing."


The Jedi spares a quick grin for Siika and Boomer, a light dancing in her eyes. "Thanks, Boomer," she says, patting the droid lightly and then turning at Delphine's exclamation and trying to make sense of this entire situation. "Hells, I knew it. At lest it seems like it can't get to us without its droid friends, so that's a bonus. But why are we stuck?"

Vee-Four takes the question at face value and begins trying to override the turbolift commands, but Siika's admonition makes him stop and unplug with a wistful sighing beep. Sarna gives her droid friend a reassuring smile, and then her delicate hand lifts in a graceful and slow gesture and she closes her eyes, willing the lift doors to part for them.


Between the upper decks and the hangar bay lie some of the vessel's inner workings; a vast, chasm-like chamber with energy conduits and generators gnat run the entire length of the ship. With the lift doors open, it's a simple drop down two guide rails into tube that terminates at the ventral hangar bay, where the //Servant Mercy// is parked.

The entity, which has come to infest the very workings of the ship, has a heart... and this is where its heart lay. Arcs of luminescent energy lance between generators and conduits, the glowing energy surrounding black lines of pure hatred. The manifestation of such an ancient evil is visible even to Siika's eyes and the optical sensors of both Boomer and Vee-Four, but with each lashing of twisted energy, there comes an audible groan of anger within a throbbing sound, much like that of a beating heart.

Siika looks out into the chamber, her lips trembling. "No hatches," she breathes. "No hatches here. It can't kill us here, it..." She looks to Delphine and Sarna, hopeful. "If I drop this thing.... can the both of you catch it? You know... with that... that thing you can do?"


"It can let us die of dehydration," the Acolyte notes as she watches Sarna force the door open and Siika scramble out onto the upper floor. "Sure...we can do that!" Delphine is pretty sure she can do that. What they can probably do is give it drag so that it descends slow enough not to crush them all into so much red goo as the chamber implodes. She locks eyes with Sarna to see if she's on board with this plan. "I'm ready if you are..."


Sarna's eyes slowly open as the doors sag open and she takes a deep, steadying breath to regain her strength and focus. She blinks, sharing that glance with Delphine and also a wordless assurance through the Force that the two women are thinking the same thing, she gives a thumbs up. "Right. Ready," she declares, straightening her posture and spreading her stance for balance as she mentally prepares. "On three?"


Turning back to the lift, Siika pries open one of the access panels, revealing a series of cables attached to glowing ports. One by one, her finger moves from cable to cable, counting quietly beneath eyes that are all focus.

"For the record," she says, "this is the stupidest thing I've ever done."

A steadying breath, as a finger hovers over one particular cable. "One... two..." A finger reaches in and rips out a cable, disabling the turbolift's repulses. "Three!"

There is a brief pause where Siika's breath catches, before her stomach rises into her chest thanks to mother inertia. The lift drops abruptly, plummeting down toward the hangar bay and the bottom of the lift shaft with a whoosh of air from the open door.


Taking a cue from the padawan, Delphine steadies herself and takes a stance of strength. Siika counts down. On one, she takes a deep breath. On two, she imagines the lift capsule held in both of their arms ready to be lowered like a babe into his crib. On three, she reaches out, joining with Sarna, to feel the weight of the capsule and with a gesture with both hands, works on pulling against the plummet. As the lift suddenly descends, Delphine's billowy cloak and loose hair fly all around her.


The two women face each other as they prepare, and Sarna's eyes shut again as she focuses and lets the Force fill her, connecting her thoughts and intentions with Delphine. Her tongue darts out to lick at her lower lip nervously as Siika goes to work, and for a second she opens one eye and grins at the cybernetic girl's comments. "We got this," she assures her.

When the floor feels like it gives out beneath them, she gasps and steadies herself, her hair flying free from the wire holding it in place, and her own cloak flutters as she bends her head and grits her teeth, willing the lift to slow down. "It's going so fast!" she whispers worriedly. But the Force is with them, and after a couple of terrifying seconds, its momentum has considerably slowed and she releases a breath of relief.


From above, there comes a terrifying scream of pure anger. The entity can feel the Force being pulled toward these young bearers of its power, considering it abhorrent of its hunger and raw discontent. It is like a spear of white hot fire being shoved into its eye, and its //angry//.

The massive, old Regency ship lurches, lights flashing all across the vessel in a cryptic and erratic manner. Even as the lift slows, a weight seems to press upon it in oppressive manner, but the bond formed by Sarna and Delphine is like a bubble of safety, the good will pressed against the malice in a contest of will.

*THUNK!!!*

The turbolift strikes the bottom of its shaft with no shortage of ferocity, but the impact is just light enough to prevent injury. Still, Siika released a shriek of fear at the impact, her hands grasping hold of a handrail with white knuckles and angled, metal exo-bones.

"We have struck the bottom," Boomer points out helpfully from his perch strapped to Siika's back.

Pulling herself upright, the young cyber-tech looks between her companions with a brief sense of wonder, a stalled moment with eyebrows lifted and eyes wide. Then, she feels the equilibrium of the Regency vessel tilting, and the reality of imminent danger strikes her back into the moment. "Go!" she shouts, and rushes for the open door and the hangar bay beyond. "Move!"


The bright cradle of the Force subsides after the chamber lands and with it the women's bond is broken. Delphine opens her eyes and can't hide the glee she feels at their success once it's broken. The Entity continues to assault the ships systems. As Delphine recovers she grabs a hold of Sarna physically, taking her hand, to make sure she starts running too. Intent seaglass eyes scan the bay for battle droids or any other kinds of items that can be turned against them. "C'mon! We've got this!"

The occupants go flying when the lift hits the bottom at last; Vee-Four squeals an exclamation of alarm as he bounces off one wall and rolls across the suddenly angling floor. Sarna is knocked back against the handrail and she grunts in momentary pain before straightening up and looking at Delphine with a triumphant gleam in her eye. Her excitement at the moment of connection and power is conveyed briefly but emphatically before the bond lapses. he's curious about that presence, feeling its anger and hunger mounting, and she can't help but wonder if the entity had just used the Force to try and thwart them.


"Boomer, you are very astute," Sarna compliments the droid with a touch of sarcasm, and winks at Siika. "Is everyone...?" She realizes there's no time to assess damage and never finishes her sentence as Delphine grabs her by the hand and they begin their dash to the hangar bay. "C'mon, Vee!" she calls over her shoulder, and the little droid comes screeching after them.


"Why thank you, Mistress Sarna," Boomer answers as he jostles about on Siika's shoulders. "I should say that this is more excitement than I've seen since Mistress Siika stole --"

"Boomer!" Siika's voice could easily be mistaken as one of complaint, but this is not so. They aren't more than a dozen meters from the open ramp of the //Servant Mercy// when an alarm begins to sound in the hangar bay. It is a foreboding sound, and it can only mean one thing; the magnetic shields holding air in from the vacuum of space is about to be taken down.

"Magnetize!!!"

"Confirmed," Boomer vocodes. Suddenly, Siika is thrown backwards, eliciting a painful grunt as Boomer's chassis magnetizes to the deck. It's not just him, either; the magnetization extends to her ferrous exoskeleton, pinning her to the deck with him.

The others will have a hairpin moment to grasp hold before the shields go down. They certainly are in the endgame, now.


As previously instructed, Delphine prepares for the inevitable. She gives Sarna's hand a squeeze for luck and let's go. With just seconds to act, the Acolyte begins leaping towards Boomer and Siika. Delphine had never been in such physical danger before either and adrenaline rushes through her. She lands lightly and grasps the droid as it clings magnetically to the deck and holds tight. Before anything more can happen she calls out. "Now what?!"


Fortunately, Sarna knows the sound of that alarm and what it means, and she doesn't give herself time to think about what's happening. Instinct and the Force guide her, and she makes a flying leap the last few meters, grabbing onto Boomer's extended appendage and wrapping her arms around it for dear life, and breathing out gratefully when she sees Delphine clinging on as well next to her. "Siika!" she cries out, realizing the girl is stuck in place as well, a factor she hadn't considered. "Vee-Four!" She looks around and the little droid has mimicked the larger one, magnetizing his chassis to the deck -- but next to a control terminal that he's plugged himself into. She could not love that little hunk of metal more than she does right now. "Vee, connect to the controls for the hatches!" she asks before the moment is too late. "Try to lock them down!"


Siika's teeth are exposed, feeling the magnetic pull as it tugs her otherwise crippled body into a prone state. A growl comes from her chest, but it's short lived; a deep breath is drawn in as she prepares for the worst.

"When it goes down," she shakily tells Delphine and Sarna, "Exhale! Don't hold your breath, or your lungs will explode!" She doesn't tell them what will come next; the burning agony of suffocation. The human body can take a lot of abuse, and they'll at least have a minute, maybe less, to find some way out of this mess.

The magnetic shields flicker offline, and the entire hangar bay is suddenly filled with the deafening sound of air being sucked out into space. Knowledge wins over the instinct to hold in her air, and Siika exhales.

Meanwhile, Vee-Four screams out a digital complaint, his data port spinning wildly. The little droid is shaking back and forth on his wheel, magnetically fighting against the pull of air as he desperately tries to fight against the perversion of computational algorithms.

Siika's lungs eventually try to pull in more air, but there is none. Her fingers and toes curl violently, while her face is confronted into the terrifying visage of a woman suffocating. Veins protrude from the skin, eyes adopting a terror unlike anything she's ever experienced. And then... the shields come back online.

A blast of air begins to repressurize the bay, and with a heaving wheeze, she sucks what she can get in, hacking and coughing. Vee-Four, meanwhile, finds himself blown right off the data port by an arc of black-laced energy, looking eerily similar to that which was witnessed in the generator room above. A close encounter with the physical manifestation of something very old and very malicious. He ends up colliding with the others, stuck to Boomer's chassis.


Delphine tries to look at Siika and she just doesn't look good. But she steels herself and tries to think positive as she can't help the woman right this moment. She wishes she hadn't asked anyone to do this for her. Ravace was her missing client after all

Clinging with all her might to Boomer's other extension, she listens to Siika's instructions and nods her understanding. When the venting happens, the Acolyte's feet are swept out from under her and it's terrifying. She didn't sign up for being sucked out into space. She didn't want to die and certainly not like this! Her life's events flash through her mind and if there were time for it, she might express regret. She'd entered service while younger than Sarna and had never really fallen in love - not yet anyway. But then she remembers to exhale...

And when the bay's pressure returns she slams down hard on the deck and feels the wind knocked out of her. She rolls onto her hands and knees and gasps until she forces air back into the lungs she'd emptied and yells, scurrying back over to Siika and Boomer, "We still gotta go! Can you move?"


When the hatches go, Sarna squeezes her eyes shut and tightens her grip, a gasp leaving her lungs as she empties them as instructed and her feet go flying, her cloak flapping like a flag in a windstorm. She blinks against the rush of air, the dark locks of her hair streaming behind her as the sudden vaccum tries to suck everything that isn't locked down out into space. Droids, old derelict equipment, even pieces of bulkhead are sent flying out with the rush of air, and Sarna ducks her head more than a few times to avoid being smashed. She doesn't have flashbacks of her life; perhaps she hasn't had enough of one to reflect on yet, so her attention goes to the little droid locked into the computer terminal. She wants to call out to him, but there is no air in her lungs to speak, and her mouth works as if in defiance of the vaccum.

When at last he's successful, and blessed air once again floods the hangar, she draws in a deep breath and coughs against the protestation of her lungs even as her slight body falls horizontally and unceremoniously onto the deck with a thump. who's sent spinning across the deck to join the heap. "Oooooh," she groans, shaking her head, then jumps in surprise when Vee-Four comes skidding towards them. "Everyone okay?" she chokes out, glancing at the others and trying to get to her feet. "We're almost outta here."


"Boomer," Siika forces through the coughing. "Demagnetize!"


With a buzzing sound, the magnetic lock is disengaged, and Siika crawls to her feet. Her mind is swimming, a side effect from the deprivation of oxygen, but through the haze she has enough wherewithal to grasp for someone's hand. "Let's go," she says, and all but dives for the ramp of her vessel, climbing aboard.

Once they're all aboard, she punches the ramp and staggers for the cockpit, shrugging Boomer off to leave him lying on the floor in a heap. Fighting against the dizziness that lingers, she throws herself into the pilot's seat. "Sarna, get those converters hot, I'll blast our way outta here if I have to!"

Safety is the light at the end of this dark tunnel; each sound made as the //Servant Mercy// comes to life is like a heart beat closer to safety.


"I'm going to see what I can do to distract this thing," Delphine says after running up the ramp. She finds a spot in the cargo bay and takes out a small pouch from which she draws a circle around herself, sprinkled on the deck. She seats herself cross legged neatly inside the circle and draws her hood up over her vacuum disheveled hair. Relaxing her arms on her knees she takes a slow deep breath and enters into a meditation several layers deep. Then she lets her mind reach out to the derelict they're escaping finding a string of contact to pull and then reeling it in. Her aura fluctuates much like the Entity though less colorfully, settling somewhere rather purple in her mind's eye.

"YOU!!!!!!" comes the voice of the dark being, raging and causing sparks to crackle in the air around Delphine.

"Of course it's me. We've danced before, remember?" Her arms lift and the sparks light around her fingers like moths to a flame. As she raises her hands to shoulder height, the sparks form an arc over her head. "Wouldn't you like to keep me here with you? All of you?"


Vee-Four and Sarna bring up the rear, the girl pausing to watch Delphine, sensing the ripples in the Force as the Acolute slips into a meditative trance in an effort to contact the entity. Torn between her curiosity and their need to flee, she finally heads for the cockpit at the sound of Siika calling her name. "I'm coming!" she calls out, scampering for the cockpit and clambering rather ungracefully into the co-pilot's seat. She blows her disheveled hair out of her eyes and glares at the controls, but her hands are quick, flicking switches and prepping the ship for immediate takeoff. "Let's go!"


Through a reflection in the glass, Siika catches a glimpse of the sparking light show that's coming from Delphine in the lounge. Of all the strange, fascinating things... it gives her pause until the Entity angrily jostles the Regency craft, which drags her back to reality.

The //Servant Mercy// lifts off the deck and turns for the glimpse of space. Even as it does this, a contingent of combat droids emerge from a blast door, taking aim and firing toward the yacht. But, the shields are already online, and with a rueful smirk, Siika punches the throttle.

"See ya, suckers."

The yacht lurches forward and departs from the cursed vessel. As it leaves the ghost ship behind, the dark entity lets loose a scream that resonates through the Force, a ripple of energy that courses across the Regency vessel.

"NOOOOO!!!!!!"

The voice resonates through the vessel, rumbling through Delphine's soul, but with each meter of distance, it's power and its voice becomes weaker; trapped in its own prison.


"Tell me why you want more souls?" the Acolyte asks the Entity. "Are you sooooo lonely?" Delphine's voice is darker than the blonde's usual voice, lower, but not like when she channeled The Entity. But before she can tease it further the ship pulls away. It pulls at her, trying to keep her living essential Force for itself. She chuckles long and low as it keeps clinging to her lifeline. Then with a push of dark energy the sparkling halo over the woman's head glows red, the crimson light flooding the area. "Goodbye!" She laughs more loudly and then all at once the light show snaps off and she slumps to one side breaking the line of the charcoal circle.


That shrieking scream seems to go right through her soul as the ship exits the hangar bay, and Sarna shudders in spite of herself as she checks the readouts and brings up the path Vee-Four had plotted for their route in. "Easy, Siika! Things have shifted!" she informs her as an asteroid looms ahead within their path. "Vee-Four?"

The little droid is already on it, plugged into a terminal behind her and re-calculating the safest passage. "Yes, yes, we know you're the best," she laughs, giddy with the relief of their escape, but then she looks back into the hold where Delphine has crumpled onto the deck and her heart lurches. "Lady Aurelia!"


"Blast!" Sarna is right! Siika banks the ship hard to starboard, narrowly missing that asteroid before correcting to the course laid out by Vee-Four.

A steadying breath is let loose, and her eyes remain glued to the job at hand. They're not out of this yet, there's still an asteroid belt to navigate! "Oh God," she says, worried at how Sarna uses Delphine's proper name. "Is she alright??"

Behind them, the //Vindicator//'s flashing lights begin to stabilize, slowly reverting to its previously derelict state. The Entity provides one last moan of anguish before it settles back into the foreboding state it was in when they first arrived. The trap, reset for its next prey.


Lady Aurelia is most certainly alive. But not only is she completely drained from holding then severing her connection to the Entity, she also suffered a huge psychic assault just before the malicious being, or beings as she'd come to find out. She had sensed it's purpose. To grow one ship, one crew, one part of the living Force at a time - a trap laid indeed. Whoever may trace back the Envoy's droid to the wreckage will find woe indeed should they board or linger too close to the //Vindicator//. So for now, Delphine sleeps deeply and cannot be roused.


Closing her eyes, Sarna reaches out to touch Delphine's mind, assessing her carefully, and even though she's not sure what just happened, she realizes they're very lucky to have escaped. "She's gonna have an awful headache," the girl predicts, biting her lip. "But she's gonna be okay."

With the old Regency ship once more going dormant behind them, and the path through the asteroid opening up before them, the young Jedi finally allows herself to relax back into the seat and she shoots Siika a broad grin. "Well... that was quite an adventure."


"Phew!" Siika sinks back into her own seat, finally feeling a wash of relief come to her. For once, in a very very long time, the mouthy young woman is at a loss for words. It is all holographic nav plots from Vee-Four and manipulating flight controls for a few moments, but it doesn't last.

When she first looks over to Sarna, she isn't grinning. One does eventually form, and a bit of nervous laughter quickly becomes more honest laughter. "Adventure! More like a dung show! I didn't expect us to stumble upon a //ghost ship// out here."

The smile wanes, and she turns to look at the rear camera, where the //Vindicator// is slowly fading from view. "It killed all of them," she says quietly. "The whole crew." Regency or not, the idea of it is haunting. "I wonder why they were looking for... whatever that was?"

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