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After a gentle nudging by the man, clearly eager at the thought of escape, you take a step forward through the entryway and find yourself in a blank white room, with solid walls instead of coding. The man with the shield sighs, as if a heavy weight has been released from his shoulders. You are afraid of what this might mean, though you have an idea.

He takes a step forward and you grab his wrist. You do not want to be Alone, you tell him. He tilts his head to the side as if he doesn’t understand what you are saying. He hands you the shield, and you take it, feeling the weight of it in your hands. For the first time since arriving you are armed, but not prepared.

The man who previously wielded a shield steps to one of the walls and touches it lightly at first, as one would dip their fingers into a pond that they were not yet sure of the temperature, and then presses his palm flush to the smooth surface. You want to cry out but no sound leaves your lips. You think you may understand why he was familiar to you. Predictably, he fades into code as all the rest did and you are left with a shield and an open pathway.

What do you do?

The next area seemed to be lighter than the previous one, blinding halogen lights once again igniting the path before them - or at least, the small cubic room they were now in. The room was the smallest place they had been so far, barely the size of an average living pod. In the center of the room sitting on the floor was a basic looking laptop, with a cursor flashing waiting for an input command.

Amaya was about to go in for a closer inspection when the ravenette on her right stopped her. “It could be a bomb,” Zeke cautioned, narrowing his black rimmed eyes.

“Do you trust anything?” Myos scoffed, waving a hand dismissively, the small star charm that hung around his wrist by a thin cord jangling as he did so. “This thing is the only way forward so we don’t really have a choice,” he shrugged. “Razzy, you’re good with computers, why don’t you take a look at it?”

Razzy nodded without a word, sitting gracefully on crossed legs in front of the homey glow of the computer screen. The screen itself was devoid of any character, merely a black screen with a flashing white cursor like something of which their great, great grandparents would’ve used back on their now long gone home planet. Amaya peeked over her shoulder, the youthful girl confused at that such a technology still existed on this ship, much less in a place that guarded the Empress. Achernar tapped her foot impatiently, wishing she could just go back to stabbing at things to fix the problem.

The girl with achromatic hair typed a few commands in the keyboard, the computer responding accordingly, and when it seemed like the sound of victory would play over head a small text message appeared on the screen and stumped her process.


The word flashed tauntingly in and out and Razzy scowled at it, eyebrows furrowing and jostling the two piercings there. “There’s no way past this screen. You have to type in the password and there’s no way to reset or alter the software to disable the password protection.”

Myos’s shoulders slumped in defeat. Pushing the sanguine bangs from his forehead with the palm of his heel in frustration, he leaned back against one of the four walls that enclosed them in the small room that was currently their prison. No way forward, no way back. Was that how it ended? Stumped by a password? Myos shook his head, unwillingly to just let it be. They had come this far, and they were going to go all the way. He couldn’t let his team down - he was their leader, the whole reason this started was because of him. Lightly brushing the star outline on the back of his neck with his fingertips, he regained confidence. “Well, then, we’ll just type in the password won’t we?” Myos grinned.

“He's right!” Amaya nodded excitedly, pumping a fist in the air. “We can do it!”

“Mind if I try?” Zeke asked, stepping up to next to the girl sitting on the floor. Razzy stood up after eyeing the man beside her. The pallid girl was six inches shorter than the other, but she still held his gaze. Myos was worried for a moment that the usually calm and detached girl would break out of the norm and punch his friend after a flash of some undeterminable emotion flickered in both of their eyes. Razzy stepped to the side with a nod, allowing Zeke to take a seat in the space she had previously occupied.

Zeke stared at the keyboard for a moment, before his gloved hands flashed over the keyboards to type something too fast for the rest of them to see. The screen went blank for a moment, and then with an ancient sounding noise powered off for good. The spoils of victory were now theirs, signaled by the resounding of bells.

Achernar, Amaya, and Myos stood with mouths agape, the same thought surely running in all of their minds. How did he know the password on the first try? Myos pondered, narrowing his pale viridian eyes in distrust for a moment before shaking the negative thoughts away.

There was no way his best friend could be a traitor. They were all on the same team right?


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