Chapter Five

"How long do you think we'll have to stay here?"

We were still in the courtyard, looking around. It wasn't the best place to be, of course, but we needed to be prepared for whatever we may encounter.

Personally, I was hoping we wouldn't have to be here long. There was a definite creepy air to the place, like it had been perfectly preserved for some terrible reason. The silence was broken only by the wind that howled its own mysterious tune.

"I'm not sure. The rest of the day, at least. Maybe longer. However long it takes for the Sphere Republic to stop searching for us."

"Well, if we're going to be hiding out in here we should take a look around, learn everything we can about this place. If they come looking for us, then we need to know our temporary shelter inside and out. We don't want to be caught just because we ran into a dead end, right? Come on." I said, pulling my coat closer about me and leading the way inside.

There were three doorways leading into the structure from the courtyard, and we chose the closest one to our current position. It led down a long hallway, connecting to a small room at the end with another couple of doors.

That room wasn't as clean and neat as the entrance of the compound. The walls were crumbling, and some of the debris was scattered around the room, likely from the wind.

I brushed my hand against one wall, but quickly recoiled when it crumbled beneath my touch. As I looked through the room I had to squint. Intense sunlight shined through the cracks in the ceiling, and danced off the particles of dust that filled the room.

Moving toward the next doorway quickly, I found that it was completely different from the room before it, and the ceiling was barely cracked at all. The contrast between the two was remarkable.

As we moved on we discovered that the next room was in good shape, as was the one after that and so on. It took about an hour to search the entire structure, and we found that only the one room was damaged. The others had been restored, or not damaged in the first place.

After awhile we came to a room that appeared to be used as a workspace of sorts. There were smooth slabs of rock that were stacked on smaller stones to reach table height, as well as small piles of stones that appeared to be used for seats.

In one corner was a pile of blankets that, upon inspection, appeared to be clean, except for dust and debris that had likely be deposited by the wind. That struck me as odd.

Whoever had been here had clearly intended to stay for quite some time, even staying overnight. What had they been up to?

That was the only room that looked used, and the only sign of life in the whole structure.

"Why would there be only one damaged room? Did they repair the others? There's no way that only that one room could have been damaged, is there? It doesn't make sense." I asked as we headed back to the entrance.

"It seems unlikely. The damage appeared to be caused by neglect, so if that were true there should have been more damage throughout." Alec agreed.

"The fact that there isn't further damage shows that someone has been working on fixing it up. But why? Why would they fix all the other rooms, and not that one?"

It was odd, to be sure. But it wasn't something that concerned us at that particular moment, so I brushed the thought aside to focus on more important matters.

Like what we'd do if we were ambushed.

Since we knew the layout of the complex now, we had a pretty good idea of where to go if we needed to escape in a hurry. We also found that there was an underground tunnel that was concealed in the stone floor, that we could use as either a place to hide or as an escape should it be necessary.

Standing at the doorway to the courtyard, I stifled a yawn as I studied the sky. It was late afternoon, and I was getting tired. Not to mention worn out from all the running we'd done, and feeling the strain of possibly being hunted at this very moment.

"Why don't you rest for awhile? You'll need to gather your strength for tomorrow." Alec suggested.

"We need to keep watch."

"I'll keep watch while you sleep, and I'll let you know if anything happens."

I wasn't sure I liked the idea of sleeping at such a time, but he was right that I would need my strength. I had a feeling the next few days were going to be taxing.

"Alright. Wake me in an hour, and we'll switch." I told him.

"An hour? That's not long enough for you to get proper rest!"

"I'm accustomed to getting little sleep. Comes with the job. Don't worry, I'll be fine."

Alec hesitated for a long moment, but then nodded.

"Okay, an hour."

So I headed back to the office space, and laid down on the pile of blankets after shaking them out. I didn't know if I would be able to sleep or not, but even just a little rest would be good.

0~0~0~0~0~0

~*Black Nova, Archadion starship in orbit above the planet Lanosh*~

"State you name and rank for the record."

"Rune, First Lieutenant of the Archadion Military, Sphere Branch."

"Zero, First Sergeant of the Archadion Military, Sphere Branch."

"And what is your assignment?"

"To search the Hadar Ruins and report any unusual findings."

"Very good. Move out."

Rune Savash, first rate soldier… probably the best.

It's what I was made for, I guess. Programmed for perfection. Just like Zero, my "brother". We were the best of the best, the ones they called in for the dangerous jobs.

But according to the superiors, we were also dispensable. But we weren't supposed to know that.

"So, what are we really doing, Rune?" Zero asked me as we headed to the weapons locker.

"The unofficial report is that we're looking for clues to the whereabouts of the murder suspects, Melodi and Alec."

"And they didn't see fit to divulge it to me… why, again?"

"Hey, don't ask me, Z. I don't even pretend to understand what's going on in their heads."

They always did that—telling me the real job while leaving Zero in the dark, and leaving it to me to fill him in. I never understood why.

What I did know was that this job was going to be one of our easier jobs. It hadn't always been this way, my life. I used to have a normal life. But that was before the interrogation after the incident in Elon Pael.

That wasn't pretty.


"What do you remember?"

"Nothing."

"Nothing at all?"

"No."

"Try to remember. Think back. I know it's been many years... are you ready?"

"Yes."

"Alright. Close your eyes and think back."

Silence. Then…

"I can't…get away…"

"Tell me what you see."

A whispered encouragement. But no answer. Until…

"I…feel something … I feel…cold…?"

"Then you're close to what you're looking for. Can you see it? The memories are there, you just have to pull them out."

"The…The Aeo Base…where is it… The Var-"

"No, Jocelyn, not that. They can't help."

"But they…they know… they know where it is… I…I… I have to find them… have to ask them…"

"No, they can't help you now. You must do this yourself."

"No, I need them! They have to help me!" The voice intensified with every word. Became louder, more determined.

"Where's Slade? He'll help me, he knows where it is! Ask him. Slade! Tell them where it is! You have to help me! You have to… help me…"

"No, Jocelyn, Slade is gone. He left you to do this yourself. Think, Jocelyn, you have to remember. Where is the Star Forge?"

"I…don't know. It's…far away…I think. The…the Aeo Base… I…there's nothing…"

"Okay, Jocelyn. We'll try again later, when you're mind is more clear."

Footsteps. Loud. Then quieter, further away. Leaving. Leaving…?

"No, wait! Don't…don't leave me here. I don't…want to be alone. Please, don't leave me here!"


Like I said, not pretty. But they messed with my head, drugged me. What did they expect? They didn't get far with that attempt, so they let me go.

I knew I was being followed though, so it was time for a change. I booked passage on a cargo freighter to the first planet they stopped at and didn't look back.

But it wasn't enough.

I got a job-if you could call it that-working with some questionable weapons dealers. One day it went downhill.


Dawn had just begun to brush traces of color against the sky as Jocelyn moved through the back alleys of Ceanokth, heading to the meeting place designated by her contact.

As she walked she could hear the laughter of children, and wondered why any child would be awake this early. A few steps ahead of her, at a broken down shack of a house, the front door opened forcefully, and two small children ran down the alley in front of her. Girls, both of them, dirty blond curls bouncing on their shoulders as they ran. Anyone else might have considered them cute, those girls. Adorable. But not Jocelyn.

To her, they were a disturbance. A nuisance. They reminded her of the past. She had been just like them, a lifetime ago. Carefree, happy… but now?

Now happiness was expensive, and too often Jocelyn didn't have enough credits to spare on such a luxury.

Nearing the end of the alley, she paused before the door she needed, her confidence momentarily wavering. Then she thought of home, of the people she knew and loved, most of whom were dead now.

And she knocked on the door. A moment later it opened, and a young woman ushered her into the room, then left, closing the door softly.

She was told to come here to sell some weapons, after having headed to a robotics shop to pick up a GT unit hover android.

"Name?"

"Jocelyn Halazen."

"Ah, you're Halazen's kid, huh? What have ya got for me?" The man behind a large desk asked. Jocelyn emptied the contents of the large cargo bag she carried, and the man whistled.

"Juno wasn't kidding. You've got the goods, all right. How much?"

"Juno said ten."

"Ten?! These are good, yes, but not worth ten! I'll give you eight."

Now normally, Jocelyn was more than willing to negotiate. Today, however, she was in a hurry to get off of Ceanokth. Picking up a blaster from the desk, she pressed it under the man's chin.

"These weapons are the best. Care for a demonstration?" But the man shook his head.

"Good man. Now, about my credits…"

"Take them and go." The man said, putting the money on the desk. So Jocelyn took the money and turned to the door. Before she reached the door, she heard a 'whirr' sound, and a short blade flew by her, slicing into her arm deeply.

Jocelyn hissed sharply, but before she could do anything in retaliation, GT flew forward, zapping the man into unconsciousness with its stun ray.

"Thanks, little guy."

And the android beeped happily.

Running out of the building, Jocelyn narrowly missed the two girls she saw earlier as she headed toward the end of the alley and back to the center of town.

Entering the cantina a few moments later, Jocelyn looked around and, finding her target, moved closer to him.

"I need a fast ship." She said, knowing he wasn't one for small talk.

"For?"

"Passage to at least three planets and no questions."

The man whistled.

"It'll cost ya…"

"I know. How much?"

"Fifteen." Jocelyn nearly gagged.

"I could practically buy my own ship for that much!"

"And who's gonna fly it, lady. You? You wanna get off this planet? You need me, your worship."

"'Worship?'"

"Sure. I know who you are, Halazen. Lucky for you, I'm the only one who does and I don't care to see you get fried for it. Now, about that fifteen…"

And that was when she made her decision. She was a target as long as she was Jocelyn Halazen. So it was time to change that.

"How about five now, five halfway through, and five at job's end?" Jocelyn offered, and the man considered it.

"Fair enough, I guess. When do you want to leave?"

"Right now."

"Alright. Let's go, my ship is at the north dock." So the two stood to leave the cantina.

"By the way, I'm-"

"Jaden Cairn, captain of the Halo, a Varheelian smuggling vessel." Jocelyn put in, and the man stared, surprise evident on his features. And Jocelyn smirked.

"You aren't the only one who's done his research, Captain."


The smell of smoke burnt her nose. Not caring for her immediate need to breathe, she allowed it to smother her face. Shakily she inhaled the dust-and-ash filled air.

It scattered about the room and settled on the objects around her - the bookcase, the cabinet, the bed. Nothing would be saved. Nothing but the clothes on her back and the bag she carried.

The flames licked their way around the room hungrily, feeding on every surface they touched. And Jocelyn stood as if transfixed, watching, letting her life be consumed. Her old life, anyway.

"What are you doing?" Came the quiet voice behind her. She had told Jaden he didn't have to follow her, but here he was. Strangely, he didn't look worried, only mildly curious.

"Letting go."


After that it was quiet for awhile. Until the Archadion Military caught up with me. Apparently they had heard of me, and wanted to hire me. So here I was, tracking down criminals.

So now I was Rune Savash, Lieutenant in the Archadion Military. Jocelyn Halazen had died the day I burned my apartment on Ceanokth.

0~0~0~0~0~0

~*Hadar Ruins, Alec's PoV*~

I had let Melodi sleep a couple hours longer than she had wanted me to, and I was sure she would be upset, but I knew she needed the rest.

"Melodi…"

I called her name, but she didn't respond. I put a hand on her arm to shake her a bit, and noticed that her skin felt chilled.

"Melodi, wake up. Can you hear me?"

Still nothing. I was starting to worry.

That was when she started trembling, and whispering something I couldn't make out. It sounded foreign, but I couldn't figure out what language it might have been.

Then she stopped, and her head lolled to the side.

"Melodi, wake up! Come on!" I shouted a bit, starting to panic. I shook her a little harder, and her eyes snapped open.

"Alec…?" she murmured, blinking rapidly.

"Yeah, it's me. Are you alright?"

She didn't answer right away, choosing instead to look around.

"Mel…"

"We have to get out of here. Now."

"What?"

"We have to go. They're coming for us. Soldiers from Sphere."

"What? They're still coming? Then yeah, we have to go. Come on."

I didn't exactly understand her people's ability to see the future in their dreams, but I wasn't about to question it right now. Not if our lives were in danger.

So we ran. I didn't know where we would go next, but we would figure something out.