The holo springs to life with a familiar hexagonal lotus icon. An urgent theme plays on woodwinds and strings.
An EV droid stands before the camera in front of a large computer control room. Panels with blinking lights and screens with scrolling torrents of numbers and graphs fill the space overhead, while panicked analysts below shout orders and tap furiously at their datapads.
“Greetings Sentients, EV-1000 here with breaking news. I’m here at the Leafar Holonet Center, a major hyperlane data processing center that provides up-to-date navigational coordinates and hyperlane routes to relays and ships all over the Ploo sector. And if the wails and moans weren’t enough of a clue, you can see on these screens that we have a major crisis on our hands. PISTON, the AI that powers most of the Galaxy’s astrogation computers is *down*. The sudden collapse of the essential piece of infrastructure has left travelers across the galaxy stranded and confused. I’m here with Maath Varik, one of the Holonet Center’s lead analysts, for details. Mr. Varik, what do our folks at home need to know?”
Maath Varik, a hirsute Ithorian sporting a mustache over each mouth, turns and replies through his translation device. “Authorities are encouraging people to STAY HOME and not to jump to hyperspace. If you don’t know how to navigate using a Hyperspace Sextant, and/or have a on-board Navicomputer with a considerable library of up-to-date charts, you really shouldn’t attempt to use the lanes. Our astro-cartographers are working around the clock to try to resolve this problem, so keep your ears open as the situation develops.”
<PISTON Doesn’t work, y’all. Stop trying to make it work.>
“Thank you so much. We turn now to reporter Ghon Horizonis. Sola, can you tell us how this happened?” The image turns to another ithorian, this one with hooded, piercing eyes. He’s standing in front of a hospital, near a somewhat tipsy looking Aleena. “Ghon Horizonis reporting live from the Herdship Tree of Tarintha orbiting the planet Ithor. Behind me is the hospital where the mastermind and architect of PISTON, Vadik Edik, is recovering from serious injuries. Edik is reported to have sustained these injuries in a dramatic lightsaber duel with the notorious Jar-Tan Rabor at The Great Tarintha Supercomputer just hours ago. Sir, can you tell us what you saw?” He turns to the Aleena.
The little Aleena stares into the middle distance as he answers. “I saw [hic] a bunch of dem big ol spider-people running down the alley wherein I was nappin. The lead one was holding some device, like maybe a spikey computery thing. Next thing ya know this three-eyed gran comes charging down after them. Then there was blaster fire, and smoke, and one o’ them glowy-swords playing ball with the blaster shots. And there was yellin’ and hollerin’ and folks running away. It was like Life Day at my in-law’s place [hic]!”
“Just the facts, please,” Ghon reminds him.
<Artist’s rendition of the dramatic lightsaber duel. Yes, we’re aware Jar-Tan doesn’t actually have a lightsaber…>
“Well after a minute of fightin’ (seemed like hours though) it seemed to settle down, and when the smoke cleared a bit I saw the big spider-guy –” [Jar-Tan Rabor, the reporter corrects him] “– rushing off to that big computer place, leaving his squad behind to deal with the Jedi. The Gran was being held by a couple of the spider-ladies. They was asking ‘should we kill him?’ and the one in charge just said something like ‘that ain’t the job – just knock him out and leave him.’ But before she did, Vadik just said ‘I’m afraid I can’t let you finish your contract PISTON is to valuable to be in your hands’ and pushed a button on his comlink. Next thing you know, something big blows up over yon thataway.”
Ghon nods. “I was over at the site of the explosion earlier. A section of the Great Supercomputer housing the PISTON AI went up in flames. We can only surmise it was a built-in failsafe Vadik triggered in order to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.”
<A large section of the Great Tarintha Supercomputer exploded.>
“Well the Spiders all started laughing and telling Vadik that he just made their job much easier. Then they shot him with a stun-bolt and skedaddled. After that, I checked his pockets – I mean his pulse – and called an ambulance.”
<Pictured: Vadik Edik receiving Care at the Tree of Tarintha Medical Authority>
“Thank you sir. A desperate gambit from Mr. Edik, it seems. And while life without PISTON will be harder, who knows? Perhaps this move may have saved countless lives. Back to you, EV.”
The holo returns to the EV unit in the Holonet Center.
“Thank you Ghon. It seems that Vadik Edik hasn’t awoken yet for comment, but Jar-Tan responded to us only saying ‘It’s against my policy to discuss the jobs I do for clients.’ Which raises the question: was someone else really behind this? And why? Rest assured, we’ll continue to follow up. As of right now, it is unknown when or if PISTON access will be available again, or what might take its place. In the meantime, be careful out there!”
The lotus logo and stirring theme music fill the holo before going dark.