"Bring him here."

The man bowed and waited, his face blank but his blue eyes fearful.


"Thomas Wensley, your majesty." He cleared his throat and suddenly furrowed 
his forehead as if he'd felt a pang of pain.

The Evil Ruler glared. "Ah, yes. I believe you were one of four who are 
authorized to secure the locks to the lab and the storage area, is that not 

"Yes, sire." Wensley's attitude was nervously respectful. "I take it in 
shifts with Timmis, Inkja, and Torne and we carefully check and verify all 
who come into the lab."

"I want you to tell me every unusual movement that occurred during the last 
few months. Anything out of the ordinary." He looked at the young man 
warningly. "I will remind you. I am able to read your truthfulness. So 
\--give me a full report."

The young man opened his mouth, then cringed violently. His hands went to 
his head and he sank back on his heels. "Auugggghhh!" His body jerked, the 
fear in his eyes turning into sheer terror as pain exploded in his head. 
"Sire--I--I--saw--!" He collapsed forward with a scream, his blue eyes wide 
and staring as he fell, suddenly lifeless. Blood trickled from one nostril 
as he lay sprawled at Palpatine's feet.

The emperor's expression darkened. He turned to the Doctor. "See if you can 
revive him."

Padi crouched near the body and touched it, drew a scanner from a 
pocket...and shook her head. "No pulse, Sire. And readings are indicative 
of massive brain bleeds." She looked up at him... "Sire, perhaps something 
might remain to be read-- "

Palpatine nodded. "I'm not surprised in the least. This man was an obvious 
victim of a death trigger. His mind has been tampered with a highly-skilled 
Force user." He reached down and touched the side of Wensley's head. He 
closed his eyes and raked through the rapidly fading memories that were 
still clinging to the dead brain. There weren't many of them, most 
obliterated by the massive double edema that destroyed the majority of his 

Palpatine grasped at a flash of an image of a dark cloaked and hooded 
personage against the door of the genetic materials storage area, but it 
fragmented away, leaving him no wiser to the identity of the intruder. But 
he had his suspicions....he did indeed.

He withdrew from the dead mind and scowled again. "The lab will be 
transferred to the ECLIPSE now."

Padi nodded. "I will prepare the cylinders for transport immediately, your 

"Take those first two to assist you now. I still wish to investigate the 
other three who had access to the security locks."

"Yes, Sire." Dr. Padi bowed and exited the room. She pointed to the slowly 
recovering Evin Lassiter and Technician North. "You two, come with me. The 
rest of you, await your interview with His Majesty." She ignored the murmur 
that rose behind her as she took her assistants toward the main lab room.

Directing Evin to activate the self-power units on the base of each cloning 
cylinder, Dr. Padi had North disconnect the chambers from the facility's 
main power grid. She moved into her office and typed in a series of 
commands to her deskcomp. She had a procedure all set for a move such as 
this. She'd moved the lab at least twice before, although not with such 
haste. The computer chittered back at her briefly and began to duplicate 
its files onto data cards as she fed them in. It didn't take long and she 
had plenty of time to program the genetic refrigeration units to lock up, 
and self-power for transport to the ECLIPSE, before Palpatine returned to 
the office. She rose and bowed. "I am deeply sorry that I have failed you, 
Your Majesty," she said. She was setting up the primary clone's casing to 
be run on it's own power supply. Unlike the ones in the outer lab, this one 
had several extra fuel cells attached, just in case.

"It was not your failure, Doctor," he told her motioning for her to return 
to her task. "You are merely human, and cannot withstand the power of a 
trained Force user. I found signs of tampering with the memories of the 
other men who worked directly with Wensley. No triggers, not that it 
changed their ultimate fates."

Padi shot a glance at the surveillance screen. Red Guards were removing 
four limp forms from the conference room. In the main lab, the remaining 
staff members were finishing setting up the equipment for transfer. There 
was no conversation, only a strained and urgent silence broken only by 
necessary commands and responses. Finished with the cylinder's self-power 
supply, she turned back to the computer and withdrew the final backup card. 
A new series of key taps and the matrix was wiped clean of all data. She 
then physically removed the matrix memory and smashed it with the heavy 
granite paperweight that held down the printout sheaves on her desk.

Palpatine moved about the office, his cane tapping on the plasteel floor, 
picking up various items and examining them before returning them to their 
spot. But he kept returning to the sealed silver casing that housed his 
clone--his next self. His gnarled hands rested upon the surface, as if 
trying to touch the body within. "This is a treasure beyond price, Doctor. 
A treasure beyond price."

"Sire?" She swept the backup datacards into a shielded carrying case and 
laid it on the desktop. The printouts and reports went into a similar bag 
and she turned toward the Emperor. "I will ensure that our supplies are 
properly sealed for transport and that the genetic library is safely ready 
to go."

The Emperor nodded absently. "We will use my personal shuttle to transfer 
to the ECLIPSE. You and the equipment shall remain on board while in 
transit and I personally will key in the navigational coordinates. I will 
provide appropriate staff for you in the new location."

Padi nodded, understanding the tacit admission that her current staff would 
never leave the lab once everything was ready to move onto the shuttle. "As 
you wish, Sire." She bowed once again, leaving Palpatine with his dormant twin.

When the door closed behind her, he patted the sparti cylinder once more. 
"You go to a new home where you will be safe and waiting for my need of 
you. And I will find out who had the audacity to invade this sanctum 
without my permission. Be sure of that. Be sure of that!"

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