Ney punches the coordinates provided by Bria into the navcomputer, and the ship vibrates loudly as it enters hyperspace. Luckily it seems as if the repairs are holding up. The time during the trip allows the group to quietly contemplate what they had just gone through on Nelvaan, including the visions each one of them experienced during their trials.
During the trip, Mallinia approaches Ney while he is tuning his weapons. Mallinia leans over to Ney and says, in a low voice, “Your brother is alive. I feel him. He is strong with the Force.” Before it even registers with Ney what Mallinia just told him, she turns and leaves the room. Just then the ship shudders with the familiar feeling of exiting hyperspace. Tiro’s voice comes over the comm, “We’ve arrived. Everybody grab your stuff and let’s go, Bria is waiting.”
Upon leaving the ship, the crew is quickly ushered into a conference room by a protocol droid. After a few brief minutes, Bria Tharen enters the room along with two other human males both dressed in military uniforms. She introduces one of them as a lead intelligence officer and the other as part of their recruitment team. Once the introductions are finished and everyone is seated, a sad look crosses her face as Bria begins to speak. “Before we get to business, I have some unfortunate news to share. We recently received a report from some contacts on Tatooine. I’m sorry to tell you this but your friend Utut was killed by an Imperial Agent. This agent was working the bounty on your heads and she caught up with him. I’m very sorry. Yensod and Flurm are currently tracking this agent and working to eliminate her and her threats to your crew. They have the full backing of the Rebellion even though their mission is off the records.”
Bria gives everyone a moment to absorb the tragic news before continuing. “We’re glad to see the rest of you are safe. We were worried we had lost you for good after being unable to contact you for so long. We have a proposition for you, one that we think will be mutually beneficial to both sides.” Bria takes a moment to look at each crew member individually before continuing. “We have credible information regarding the whereabouts of Iza Tuh. And believe us, we want him taken care of as much as you do. However, this intel is highly sensitive, and there’s some reluctance to simply hand it over to freelancers, especially ones that could very well end up captured by the Imperials. So we’d like to make you more than freelancers. We would like to formally extend the invitation to join the Rebel Alliance, and are willing to negotiate appropriate ranks and compensation for your efforts.”
Tiro speaks up first. “I’m all for joining the rebellion. I’ll do whatever it takes to destroy the Empire that falsely imprisoned my father, tore apart my family, and forced me to become a killer.” He looks around to the rest of the crew, and encourages them to join up as well. “We’ve all been hurt by the Empire, and we’ve taken it this far. Iza is a monster that has hurt my friends and deserves to die in the most brutal way. I will see that this happens. Let’s see this through together!” While Tiro hopes that they will agree and join him, he understands if some of the crew does not feel the same way, which could mean parting ways at this point.
Bria replies, “Thank you, Tiro. There’s no doubt we can use a mechanic with your skills on our side. We have quite a few ships that could use some repairs, and we just don’t have the experienced mechanics to keep up with them all.”
Ney sits quietly at the table pretending to pay attention to the conversation taking place. He is saddened by the loss of his Jawa buddy and he heard the offer made by Bria but his mind is focused on what Mallinia said about his brother being alive. His thoughts bring him back to days long gone. Back to days when he was young and his father was still alive.
His father was gone most of the time but the times he was home were happy times. Ney’s mother would tell him and his brother that his father had a very special job and it kept him very busy. Then there was that terrible day when his mother received a package. In the package was a shiny object and a note but mostly Ney remembers his mother crying herself to sleep that night. He somehow knew they wouldn’t see his father again. Things fell apart for them soon after and his mother ended up taking them to Zivago’s place with the package. Everyone in the neighborhood knew Zivago and who he worked for. His mother had sold the package to Zivago to make ends meet. It was only after a few years that he found the letter and learned the true identity of his father. His father was the Jedi Master Kit Fisto, the object was his lightsaber. He knew then he had to get it back. He stole it from Zivago and it has been with him ever since. The blaster story was a cover he made up, he feared if anyone knew what he had it would draw too much attention for himself and the crew.
His attention snapping back to the present Ney stands with certainty, he knows what he will do. He must find his brother, reveal their true lineage to him, and stay by his side as his protector. He clears his throat to get the attention of the group. Looking at Bria he says “I appreciate what the Rebels have done for us but I can’t join you. I have important personal matters to attend to”. Nodding to everyone in turn he holds Mallinia’s gaze for a few seconds longer and pats a hidden compartment in his armor.
Bria says, “We certainly understand and we thank you for your past assistance. We hope that you find whatever it is you are looking for. We will always be here should you need assistance or find yourself ready to join us at a later date.”
Mallinia looks to Bria and the rest of the rebel crew. You can see the hatred and contempt in her eyes along with a bit of sorrow. “I told your people already. I will NEVER work for you again.” I am done with the blind killing of innocents and death. Utut is dead and Iza is not my problem. I am done with your war. Take me back to Nelvann. I am not sure why I even left. For the first time in my life I felt peace and I intend to return to it. " Mallinia walks out of the room.
Bria and the Rebel officers look at one another in disappointment at Mallinia’s outburst. Bria says, “While it would have been nice to have her join us, I understand her reasons. Our cause is good, but our methods are not always easy for people to accept.”
Gar looks around the room, then at Bria. “I’ve seen the Empire do some awful things, and I’ve been lied to and deceived by Iza for the last time. There were innocent victims who have suffered during our time together because of our dealings with the Empire. Embro, the Wookiees, Elaiza, the Rebel soldiers that helped us rescue Embro, and now Utut. Banu had his home destroyed.” Gar looks down and closes his eyes, shaking his head as he thinks of all the collateral damage. He raises his head and looks at Bria, a determined look on his face. “I owe it to them to do whatever I can to help stop the Empire from hurting more innocent people. Yes, I will join you.” In the back of his mind, Gar also hopes for his final revenge against Iza, but he does not mention that to Bria.
Bria nods at Gar and responds, “Thank you, Gar. I know you have lost a lot, and I sympathize. We’ve all lost a lot, and we are all dedicated and determined to see the Empire stopped. Skilled doctors are in short supply, and I have no doubt that you will save many lives in the near future.” She smiles and continues, “As for Banu, it’s awful that he lost his home, but I think he’s found a place that suits him here. His astrogation skills have been quite useful to us so far, and he’s made a few friends down in the docking bay. I’m sure he’ll be happy to see you again.”
The Rebel recruitment officer taps a few commands into his datapad then nods to Bria. Bria wraps up the meeting with a few final words. “Gar and Tiro, we will discuss rank designations and assignments first thing tomorrow morning. After that, we’ll go over the intel on Iza and come up with a plan. Ney, we thank you for your service and wish you the best of luck. Please pass along our gratitude and well wishes to Mallinia as well. We will arrange for a transport shuttle to take you wherever you would like to go. May the Force be with you.” As the meeting breaks up Ney walks over to Gar and whispers, “We have to talk. Meet me in the hangar tonight before I leave. It’s important.”
Later that night, the hangar is mostly empty when Ney arrives. Ney leans against the transport shuttle Bria arranged for him. Gar enters the hangar and asks, “Hey, what’s all this about?” Ney says “Gar, buddy I just wanted you to know that Embro is alive! Mallinia has sensed it! That is why I can’t stay, I have to find him. But that isn’t the main reason why I asked you here.” Ney’s face turns serious. “I know something happened to you back on Kashyyyk. Sleep has been tough for me after encountering those zombies. Many nights after I would sneak up to the cockpit to stare out at the stars. It helped calm my nerves. One night I heard you in the lab and went to see if you wanted company. What I saw shocked and scared me. I saw you injecting yourself with something and heard you mutter ‘I can’t become one of those things!’ Gar…I know you’re infected, I’ve been keeping an eye on you since. I’ve seen you injecting yourself when you think no one would notice. I can’t stay but when those injections aren’t working any more be sure to find me, we’ll find a permanent cure for you.” Ney shakes Gars hand and hops on the shuttle.
A few moments later, Mallinia enters the hangar. She walks towards the shuttle Ney just boarded. As Mallinia walks past him, Gar says, “Mallinia, may the Force be with you.” Mallinia stops for a moment, glances at Gar, and without another word, she boards the waiting ship. Gar watches as the ship departs and disappears into space.