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The Lightsaber

Jarlina Strechta adjusted a pin in her graying chestnut hair as she knelt over a ceremonial urn of an Outer Rim civilization long gone. Her brush darted over delicate etched designs, cleaning the dust of ages from the vessel's crimson surface. The optical enhancers she wore provided faint illumination in the dim temperature-controlled basement of the Imperial Archives. She set the vessel aside, breathing deeply the filtered air scented faintly of dust and disinfectants. Five hours and finally the object was whole- its' history and name restored-finally ready to be displayed or sold to a private collector. She carefully cradled it in her bony arms and placed it in a temporary display admiring her work. She'd served as curator here almost since the dawn of the empire. Her youth and middle age were spent more in the past than the present cleaning the artifacts and listening to the unspoken stories they contained. Each layer of grime stripped away from a relic revealed a story about the time and place and the person who owned it.

Her heels clicked rhythmically, echoing in the cavernous room as she padded down one of the hundreds of isles with its thousands of compartments stretching to the enormous vaulted ceiling. Each one of them contained a story waiting to be told. There were no windows, but her chronometer confirmed her feeling that it was late. She prepared to perform a final check before closing. Most of her assistants had already returned to homes and families. She briefly scanned the isles, her grey eyes flashing in irritation when she saw the open compartment. Damn intern probably forgot to close it! Stars—why did it always have to be the one on the top shelf? She stepped onto one of the lift platforms and grasped the handrail saying "level 10." She flinched a little as the platform shot upward and the safety shield hummed around her. When it stopped, she reached into the open compartment to reveal the pressure sealed container. She scanned its surface for the id tag containing a description, but the tag was missing. She rolled her eyes, making a mental note to fire her intern. She had no choice but to inspect the contents. "Down," she snarled. The platform descended, stopping with a slight thump.

Jarlina carried the box tucked under her arm and set it on her desk. She removed her optical enhancers and prepared to deactivate the desk lamp. She began to remove the lab coat and paused casting another glance at the container. She sighed and shrugged the coat back on. Carefully, she triggered the release mechanism on the latch hearing the hiss of depressurization. She activated the field enclosing her workspace to avoid contamination and placed a gloved hand into the box. At first, she felt only cloth. She retrieved it using specialized retractors. The fabric was coarse and brown—typical of anything you could by in a Coruscant shop in the last thirty years. What it was doing here with some of the greatest treasures of the galaxy she had no idea. She set the fabric aside and placed her hand into the box again. She froze when her hand touched metal. She felt along the surface feeling a cylindrical object slightly larger than her hand. Carefully, she lifted the item out of the box and adjusted the intensity of her work light. She scanned the item briefly with a hand scanner. It was covered with mud and grime, but the scanner revealed ridges and a switch. She leaned back, her heart racing. A lightsaber! Most of them were destroyed with their owners in the Purge of the Temple. She had the urge to glance over her shoulder, but she knew she was alone. "How did it get here?" she asked the silence.

The weapon repulsed her. She would turn it in at first light. Until then, she would at least clean it up. It was, after all, a historical artifact. Slowly, she used the microsprayer to clean the caked brown mud from the object, careful of the switch that could ignite the blade. After the mud was removed, she catalogued the weapon's design. Her work revealed an angular base with six ridges near the tip. The surface was chrome with black etched details on the handle. The belt clip near the base was broken, but the defect was easily reparable if she wanted to repair it. The object gleamed faintly in the light, its surface marked by scratches of battle. The design looked older, but she couldn't place it without research-much falling into restricted status. She studied the object, removing the oculars and the cumbersome gloves. She lifted the object to make a closer inspection and suddenly dropped it with a muffled scream. The weapon felt white hot.