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Transcript[]

Huffing and puffing like an old-timey steam engine, Benny the orderly wheeled Bodega out onto the veranda overlooking the ground of the prison on Pentar-IX. He set the brake on the wheelchair and leant against the railings, catching his breath. Pushing this thing around was hell on his back.

"Phew. Okay, old timer, here we are. Now what are we looking for?" said Benny. Bodega wheezed alongside Benny.

"There's a...star I'm looking for" croaked the ancient convict.

"A star for your 300th birthday, huh." said Benny. Kneeling besides him and peering up. He glanced at Bodega whose face was knotted with concentration.

"Huh, can't see nothing" he said finally, before turning his head slowly to Benny. His eyes still had that Bodega sparkle. But he also smelled badly of urine, so it balanced out.

"Well, let's head on down, old timer, they'll be bringing out your cake soon." Said Benny as he stood and began fiddling with the brake lever on the chair. As the wheels pivoted to take them back to the elevator, Bodega took one last glance at the constellations above.

There! A bright blue star, brighter than a Lazgun beam. It had no place where it was. Right in that area of space known as The Dark Rift. A vast area totally devoid of matter. Some said there'd been once thousands of stars and hundreds of worlds in that gap. Before some insane and ancient mega-war had emptied that corner of the galaxy. And now there was a star. Bodega turned to Benny.

"Benny, that star there, you see it?" Benny looked

"Yeah, yeah, I see it man, I see it."

"You know what that star means?" Said Bodega, smiling

"Heh, why don't you tell me, pard?"

"It means...something." Said Bodega, looking lost in the thick fog of age.

Downstairs at the party, Benny left Bodega at one end of a long table while he went to get the cake. There were no guests. There was a single paper plate and a  plastic fork. A napkin, a plastic cup of water. Bodega was held into the wheelchair with metal restraints at his wrists, elbows, knees, ankles, neck and around his waist. Benny would have to feed him the cake. Benny was great, Benny was a real star.

"Real star." said Bodega. Then he froze. He looked at the plate, at his hands, at the fork. Then he closed his eyes. Benny re-entered the room, just in time for him to explode into a million bright white shards of light along with Benny.

Bodega was lying in what looked like a stasis pod. He was restrained in reality, just like he was in that illusory sim world he'd been stuck in. For how long? How long had he been under? He was as naked as a Quadian. A people known for being naked. And not just naked but really in-your-face-think-nothing-of-it-bending-down-to-pick-up-a-penny-and-giving-you-an-eyeful naked.

He focused. Focused hard on that corner of his brain where the implant was. The minute implant that had maybe saved his life. That implant was inserted into his brain a decade ago by his then-girlfriend, Majesta. She was a pyschic being of nearly limitless power who'd looked into his soul one day and decided that actually, it wasn't her, it was him and they should break up. She took his dog, convincing it telepathically that she would be the better owner. That was the real heart-breaker, thought Bodega.

Anyway, the implant was her idea. He remembered her words:

"Bodega, my love, I've given you a part of my power. I've hidden it in your mind. Buried deep in the corner you never use. Just next to your pity and your mercy, you'll find me. If you're ever lost in the darkness, if your mind is not your own, look for me, your bright blue star in the void."

That implant did more than send him a signal, it was also one of the most perfect prison escape packages ever devised. It was the high-tech equivalent of the old "File hidden in a cake" trick. He needed to crush the implant with his actual brain. He had to use every muscle and sinew in his brain to crush the implant and release its power.

"Come on, you fucker, pop!" thought Bodega. And with titanic effort, pop it did.

He saw stars, then he saw waves of energy all around him knowing their composition and their purpose, their origin and their future all at once. While the effects of the implant were in full-force, he was at one with the universe. He could shape matter, move through it, bend it to his will.

He melded right up out of the pod, hanging in the air like some deity. An orderly working the night shift dropped his cup of synth tea and ran out of the room screaming. Bodega didn't have long before the effect of the implant wore off. He could sense his ship about 200 metres below him and he pivoted in the air and dived straight down through the decks of the station he realised he was now on. He could sense all the panic, he could see the past and future of every particle and every living person nearby and he could feel their emotions and their thoughts. It was overwhelming.

He focused on the one thing he needed - the Disco Volante. In a moment he was there, floating in its lounge area. He rematerialised and quickly put on a spare spacesuit. Firing up the engines, he focused one more time and deleted the cargo bay doors from existence. The ship was blown out into sapce along with dozens of dock workers. He fired up the engines and plotted a course for somewhere far away and slammed the hyperspace button with his palm. The Disco Volante hung motionless for a moment before it became a single streak of light pointing straight into the void.

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