As the tour drags on, a nagging something stirs at the corners of O-In’s mind. The commander’s justifications rang hollow, and shadows of falsehood lurked behind his words. Hoping to get the truth, O-In slows his pace, pulling Fifties back with him. Then, with the others as a distraction, the two slip off into the shadows of the manufactory.
Away from the Commander, O-In & Fifties explore the facilities, looking for evidence of deception, evidence of weakness. As they reach one of the back walls, a despairing voice cries out for help. O-In reacts with a start, but Fifties seems unusually calm – almost as if he had not heard it. “Did you hear that scream?,” and Fifties curious expression shows he hadn’t.
“There’s someone in trouble, just the other side of that wall – can you get us in there?”
Fifties humors his friend with a casual smile, “See, you are starting to understand how I feel!” before igniting his universal passage generator. It sparks and hisses as it slices through the steel walls, and as it cuts, more screams break out, screams both heroes can here.
Once the passage is large enough, the two step into a room occupied by cowering women and children. Standing in from of them, holding a chair up as a crude defensive weapon, is a bold Bothan woman, her lithe figure clad in the remains of designer exploration gear and her fur shimmering with doubt, rage and fear. Seeing Fifties, she exclaims, “You aren’t part of the crew – who are you?,” naively unaware of the existential crisis she invokes with that simple question.
While Fifties recounts his latest self-conception tale, something involving clones, nanodroids, and purple lightning, O-In moves among the others, working to calm them down and find out their situation. It only takes a few minutes to realize that these people, despite their fear and confusion, do not share the rigid similarities of much of the crew. They share stories of deprivation, manipulation, and abuse that are both disgusting and distressingly comprehensive.
As Fifties winds down his origin story, O-In is stunned to notice the Bothan woman appears quite taken with his friend – in fact, she radiates an intense fascination. “O-In, this is Deb Pastor – she is a prisoner here, along with these others. Apparently, the ship is home to an evil hive mind that has taken control of the combat capable folks!”
For once, O-In isn’t shocked by Fifties amazing statements, and instead offers a curt concurrence, “Agreed, and these folks need our help to escape – let’s see if we can get them to the A’Tuin without anyone noticing.”
Unfortunately, herding 8 women, 4 men and 19 children through unfamiliar corridors is not conducive to stealth. Which is how the two of them wound up in a two-way running battle against dozens of near-mindless cyborgs, with O-In picking off pursuers while Fifties cuts a path through the defenders, while carrying on a conversation with Deb, one that is never interrupted, even as she is struck by a shot aimed at him, and he slings her into the crook of his arm, carrying her to safety behind the blazing shield of his flashing lightsaber. Thus, they burst into the main park, shepherding their rescued charges, only to be nearly stopped by the sight of their crewmates arrayed for summary judgement…