Lodestar

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"We clear?" Wojtek looked back to his crew on the Muramasa.

"Yep." Zahra nodded and relaxed back into her chair. "We're clear."
The viewscreens showed starry sky all around. The former Triumph colony and the legion of robotic angels were now far behind them in the blackness of space, well outside of sensor range. "So where to?" Zahra sked.

"Good question." Wojtek peered at Zoojin.

"You intend to assist him?" Razz snarled, rocky fingers clutching at his armrests.

"Maybe." Wojtek grinned. "If it's worth it."

"Can you really find the survivors?" Nigel looked intently to Zoojin.

"Yes." Zoojin nodded and extended his upturned hand. Spread across his palm was a thin layer of gray material. "The ash carries their energy," he said. "It will draw me to them." Zoojin clutched his fist and closed his eyes. The others watched patiently as Zoojin took deep breaths. His eyes finally opened. "They are not far from here -" Zoojin turned to Wojtek "- relatively speaking."

"Okay." Wojtek motioned to the viewscreen, which blinked as it switched over to a detailed star map. "How far we talkin' about?"

Zoojin walked to the display. "There." He pointed to a region of empty space.

"There's a hole there." Zahra looked up from her station. "Part of an old trade route."

Wojtek nodded. "So we know where it goes. Is it safe?"

"As far as I know." Zahra returned her eyes to her console. "The route's been out of use for a few years. No claims in the exit sector. A couple circuits out."

"Got it," Wojtek said. "So the only thing we have to worry about is whether the guys you're lookin' for are on the other side."

"This is the first of three wormholes," Zoojin said. "We will find them near the exit from the third. I see something else as well." Zoojin tilted his head closed his eyes in concentration. "An icon of some sort. A flag or sigil: a very long, slender trumpet."

"Clarion." Zahra blurted out.

"What?" Wojtek glanced over to her.

"Clarion colony." Zahra's eyes scanned her console. "The Clarion colony is three jumps from here. If his visions are right -" she paused and glanced to Zoojin "- then they're at Clarion." Zahra tapped an instruction into her console. The viewscreen switched to a wormhole network map, the route to Clarion highlighted in bright red light. "There." She pointed.

Zoojin lifted his hand towards the map. "Yes. They are there."

"You're sure?" Wojtek raised an eyebrow.

"I am certain." Zoojin turned away from the screen. "They are there, on Clarion."

"That's too bad." Wojtek breathed in. "I was hopin' you'd give us some new holes." He turned to Zahra. "Set course for Blue Sky."

"You're not going to help him?" Nigel's head snapped towards Wojtek.

"You're serious?" Wojtek glanced back. "You saw the robots they left on Triumph. If that's just what they left behind, I'm not interested in seeing their main forces up close."

"But the prisoners-"

"-not my problem." Wojtek interrupted.

"So you're just gonna run?" Nigel took a step forward.

"Run? No. We're goin' home. And if I'm not mistaken, you two owe me a few K for the rescue."

"And restocks," Razz added.

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