I am glad that we were able to stop the murderous spree of DX2 – and also relieved that we made it in time to save Areena Tana. There she is on the news now, telling her chilling investigative tale for all of The Eye to hear. We even see friend Vrinko on the big screen being interviewed – from all the other tables here at the Kessel’s Run we get looks, cheers, and raised glasses – it is a satisfying feeling knowing our crew was able to make the station a little safer. The Eye shares little in common with my home-world Kashyyyk; different environments, cultures, people, ambience – and yet, even here there is an unspoken sense of community. There is no place in the galaxy without struggle and conflict, whether publicly admitted, or played out through shadows – and so when moments of goodness and hope shine, they shine a little in everyone.
Ah Kashyyyk – the lush green forests, the smell of rain trickling down the leaves – something I dearly miss. The closest I have come was buying friend Vrinko a plant for his shiny new apartment, perhaps I should visit him and water it. But I have no regrets leaving Kashyyyk, my journey has found me new friends, companions, a new family – and this is our home. Our travels take us to worlds I have not even heard of prior, with followers of ancient cultures, ruins of forgotten civilizations, and alien markets selling succulent meat sticks. We are never on the station for very long, our crew is always about to embark on discovery, exploration – and profit.
The news story of the droid murders concludes with a loud round of applause from fellow patrons – but we are already planning our next mission. Yigg is with us going over the details, an escort mission of some sort – and the sooner the better. We head back to the ship and prepare for take-off. The news report mentioned a Brainwave virus which started the murders, perhaps we should have NAN3 properly scanned – I approach friend Vrinko about it. He agrees, or at least acknowledges my concerns enough to approach NAN3 about the matter. The conversation is quite light-hearted, and technician Manco’s scan shows no sign of any Brainwave virus – I am relieved, not so much for concern of safety, but for NAN3’s health. She is part of our crew, our family, and I am honoured to dutifully keep them safe.
Our destination is a mysterious planet named ESKP2, less than two days travel time – a chance to reflect and meditate on recent events. I retire to my quarters and prepare my pipe as we lift off. Sitting down I relax, inhale, and within moments the hum of the engines becomes a warm soothing blanket, the room dims slightly only to be lightened up again, but with a softer and comforting haze… and I see… master!
He makes no effort to speak, but seems pleased. Suddenly we are back on Kashyyyk, surrounded by trees extending into the sky, protected by leaves and moss all the way up. He gestures for me to follow and leads me to an enclosure with bright sparkling plants – I have not seen these before. Master picks a leaf from one of the sparkling plants, lifts it up in front of his face and turns to me. I feel his stare, but my eyes focus on the sparkling leaf – it is enchanting, captivating. His second hand reaches up to the leaf, lightly pinching it at the twig – the leaf no longer sparkles, and folds in on itself – a defense mechanism perhaps? I have seen plants react this way before. The sparkling comes back but not on the leaf – instead, in master’s eyes. He smiles, kneels down on both knees and raises his cupped hands up above his head, offering me the leaf – which unfolds and begins to sparkle again. I bow and reach for the leaf…
…and awaken to the familiar sound of the Gambit’s hyper-drive powering down. As I leave my quarters I discover a still warm serving of food just outside my door – the contents of the tray organized in a way only NAN3 would bother, bless her. Joining the others in the cockpit we see a milky blue planet in front of us. Pilot Tyr’s scans pin-point where our objective is likely to be and begin our descend. At first the terrain looks like shining mountains but as we approach I get a closer look and stop mid-bite – those are not mountains, those are tall trees, forests, and they are sparkling, just as they did in my vision.
We spot a bunker, which must be our target. Pilot Tyr sees no landing space close by, friend Vrinko tells us he will go down to check it out while we look for a place to land and meet him later. I cannot wait that long – I want to see the plants now. I point out a tip of a taller tree to pilot Tyr and join friend Vrinko at the exit ramp. He looks at me, smiles, and tells me he will race me down – and then jumps off the ship falling towards the surface. Whatever he has planned is something I obviously cannot do, but I have my own way. I extend my claws, leap off the ramp towards the tip of the tree, and dig my claws into the bark – but am a little mesmerized by the sparkling moss, almost losing my balance. Even with a slow start, I am able to pick up good speed climbing down to the surface, landing right next to friend Vrinko – who is still brushing off some sparkles off his shoulders.
Before he can even say anything I run to some nearby bushes and pick out a sparkling blue plant, pocket it in my pouch, and re-join friend Vrinko at the entrance to the bunker. It appears locked, and seeing no immediate threat, we decide to wait for the others to join us. By the time they get here the door has mysteriously unlocked – we enter. It feels like an imperial bunker, not unlike the one I remember from Torg, but this one is deserted. Well, almost deserted. We approach what looks like a monitoring room, and there is someone sitting down in front of the controls. The seat spins around – for a second I expect it to be master – it is not. But it is a familiar face, one we have not seen for a while, from The Eye. Greeting us is the blonde Imperial pilot we once opened fire on out in space just outside the station; Von Reiser.