Chapter 45: "Please don't let them take me!"

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Sith! That word dominated Ella's mind as she was pushed into the palace dungeon after a quick search. Her brain sought for where she had heard it before. It was only when the door was slammed shut behind them that she forced herself to be in the present.

Lance Dare was at her side.

"How many of us are in here do you think?" he asked.

In the darkness, it was hard to see. Ella and Lance had been thrown in with four others, and yet there were at least a dozen more in the darkness.

"Lance?" a high-pitched voice croaked from the rear of the room. "Is that you Lance Dare?"



The short figure lumbered forward. Cor wasn't human, but bird-like. Dark feathered wings ran down the backs of its arms, and its legs were talons that 'clicked' over the stone.

"Have they hurt you Cor?" Lance asked.

"No. Haven't even been questioned. Chip and I had hoped you and Sal had escaped."

"No such luck for me. Sal should be back from camp seven by now. There might still be hope for him. Is Chip here too?"

Cor turned its head nearly one hundred and eighty degree to face the far wall. "Chip? Come on. It's Lance. You remember Lance?"

A small man made a peculiar shuffling motion, but didn't come forward.

Cor turned back.

"The Imperials put an inhibitor on his implants. I don't think he even recognises us."

"Can't you disconnect it?"

"Yes, I think I can. But I won't try it here. Not until we're safe and I have the right tools."

Lance gave Ella a look. "Ella, meet my two crew mates," he said. "This is Cor. She is a Corvian, from Aderyn, a mid-rim world. Ella saved my life earlier today." He pointed toward Chip. "Chip's a human cyborg. An AJ-8 model. He's whip smart, when he's working that is–"


The scream from another cell silenced everyone. Cor seemed to shrink, her shoulder feathers puffed up to hide her head.

"What was that?" she whispered.

Another cry followed, and then a loud weeping.

"It's the boy," Lance muttered. "One of the dead Governor's staff who Commodore Sarn has ordered to be tortured as an example, even though he doesn't know anything. The galaxy has run mad!"

A man started shouting through the bars of his cell door across the corridor.

"Tell Commodore Sarn that we'll give him what he wants! For mercy's sake we'll tell him everything!"

But the five stormtroopers outside made no response.

The screaming continued.

Ella felt sick. So much had happened in such a short space of time. Tayre had vanished, Valsum and Jish were dead, her planet was occupied and had been sentenced to collective punishment.

And the secret of Farsalt, her secret, had been revealed to her.

She took Lance to one side and spoke in a whisper so no one else could hear.

"Have you ever heard of the Sith? Lady Jish once told me about them in a story. They were supposed to be the arch enemies of the Jedi. Like them, they too were supposed to have abilities. Do you think they exist?"

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