"01-14-04-25" by Andy Novak

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Date: <48 (Less than 13 years after the Battle of Yavin)

He looked down from the roof of the temple at the deserted streets below. Though it was the tallest structure on this planet he knew it was tiny. He longed for the ship, he longed for open space and he longed for adventure. He had grown up on the fourth ship of the fleet belonging to this world, byt with his father ascending from the captain's chair to the robes of the first tier, their family was stuck here.

"25… 25... Stop day dreaming!" A girl was approaching him. He knew that on most worlds people had names, but the Church didn't.

"What do you want? I'm sulking. If I can't sit in a Zero G cargo bay I'll stand and look at the sunset on this dirtball we're stranded on."

"Don't let the others hear you say things like that. You know how intolerant they are of differences. Another five got… dealt with today," she said, her young face distorted in pain and sadness.

"Five more? Didn't they learn from the last five worlds the Church settled on? I hear that on planet Ten they're so inbred that you can find ten generations—"

"I've heard it, it's a bad joke, you know it's a bad joke and if you weren't my big brother I'd throw you off the roof for repeating it," she laughed.

"You mean if you weren't such a small fry!" He grinned.

"Yeah, that too. You're called to the great hall, by the way!" she announced as she started to walk away.

He turned slowly and followed her.

* * * * *

The great hall was two stories high, brown and dusty. It wasn't great by any standards, he thought. They had journeyed to worlds of water and fire, places where the sun never set, cities built into asteroids. He himself had been born on a planetwide city in the core, and the Church had brought them here.

He walked to the seat at the far end. A small grey haired man sat there, wizened and feeble.

"You summoned me, father."

"Yes, son! It has been brought to my attention that you have been spreading discord and lying to the population!" The man spoke with a voice that sounded three weeks dead.

"Yes father!" he replied like a robot.

"Is that all you have to say? We are trying to maintain order and you tell everyone we should not have landed here!" His father came back to life, some of the fire back in his eyes.

He began to hear himself answer and couldn't stop. "We shouldn't be here, sir! Half our ship has died on this planet. The Church's stupid rules have forced you to kill even more for stepping out of line and the crops have failed. And don't tell me they haven't, because I have seen them."

The room went silent. The onlookers were aghast, his sister open-mouthed and his father growing red.

"The gods gave us this world, the gods directed us here," one of the slimier priests spoke.

He knew he was doomed; the best he could do was keep his sister out of the punishment and bring it all down on himself. Exile or death lay before him.

"And what has your god done for me? Have they found my mother's killer? Have they brought my dead siblings back from their graves? Will they bring back the thousands who will starve in the winter? Do they even exist at all or is it just your little power trip? Fourteen worlds! Hell, we all know ten of them are dead!"

"You are disowned and banished!" his father spoke. "You shall not be executed as you are of the first tier! But you shall be made example of. You shall be sent to the desert to live out the remainder of your life."

* * * * *

He crawled quietly up to the fence. They didn't guard the landing field. Clearly the gods would guard it, he thought. It had been three weeks since he had left them. Three weeks of scavenging, killing lizards and working on a plan to leave this world.

He heard his sister's voice: "What do you mean, I've no choice? You're not in charge, my father is."

"You are going on a pilgrimage to world fifteen. They have just colonised it!" The slimy priest was talking.

Fifteen, he thought to himself, they weren't big enough for that surely. They had colonised fourteen and failed to settle on at least ten of them. But none of the pilgrims would listen, they never did. They saw what they wanted to in the priest's words and went on.

"You know what will happen to you if you don't do as you are told. Your father can't stop us. We took care of your mother and brother, what chance do you think you have?" The priest grinned.

His sister was deflated, her demeanour becoming sadder and deader than he had ever seen before. She turned and walked towards the shuttle and the priest stabbed her in the back. She fell, blood drenching her cloak.

Suddenly he was by her side, holding her, crying at her.

"I'm sorry," he said.

"Don't be, just get out of here. Don't look back. This place is death... I'll look out for you… Take me home... looks like I get to see if..." Her eyes glazed over.

He looked round. He didn't recall doing it but the priest was lying on the ground, blood pooling beneath him.

* * * * *

He had stolen the shuttle and headed to their birthplace, the planet Coruscant. He had flown towards the star to perform his sister's funeral. She would have like it, he though to himself as he landed in one of the more unruly areas of Coruscant. As he landed the comm unit displayed an announcement to all acolytes and pilgrims:

Acolyte 01-14-04-25 has been tried and convicted of heresy.
He is now dead to the order.
If found execution is authorised.

He left the shuttle. It would be stolen within an hour along with what little remained of his life.

Several hours later he found himself in the lobby of one of the larger buildings on Coruscant, the New Republic Military Academy. It was new, or at least it hadn't been here the last time he was. The military appealed to him somehow. He now knew he could fight and kill. He was a good pilot. Fighting for a pirate or even a planet didn't seem right somehow.

"Your name, please!" A rather beat up recruitment droid was talking to him. He wondered whether to try another but they were being used and he wasn't up to talking to another human just now.

"01-14-04-25 from the Church of—" he began.

"A N D Y. Processing..."

"No it's..." He stopped. Where the letters had come from he didn't quite know, but he was leaving his life behind and most people had names.

Andy didn't sound all that bad.