Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Episode 2: Oubliette
Falling into another daydream during the long walk back to the temple, Acelan visualized a grand Republic ship arriving to take him to be knighted back at the Jedi Temple on Dantooine or even Coruscant. He arrived and was presented to the Jedi counsel, and there his former teachers would tell him how wrong they were in their judgment that he would only be a healer at best, never a Jedi Knight and certainly never a Jedi Master. Oh well, nothing wrong with a daydream Acelan told himself.
He hurried up the front steps and into the temple, there was a lot of activity in the main hall, heading in to find out what was going on, his best friend Veren grabbed him. “Hurry, you must get your things, we are going to the war Acelan, at least I’m sure your coming too!” Veren exclaimed. “Your not going to war young Veren, you are going to heal the war injured on Celic Prime, not fight on the frontlines, like we told you before”, Jedi Master Healer Kintrel corrected Veren. Master Healer Kintrel walked up with a Republic Shuttle Pilot; data pad in hand, the pilot said “And who is this young man?” Healer Kintrel answered the pilot, “This is Healer Acelan Genor, and I believe you read his name out earlier”. Checking his data pad, the pilot answered, “Why yes he is on the list, and with him, the total comes to 10 healers from the Bunjon System. The list is complete, we must depart as soon as possible.” Master Healer Kintrel looked at Acelan surprised “Please get 5 robes and your data pad from your quarters. I suppose you could take your training saber, not that you would be using it, but just as a precautionary measure, then meet the others at the shuttle. And may the force be with you both”. Master Healer Kintrel nodded at Acelan and Veren, dismissing them. Kintrel and the Shuttle Pilot, both turned and headed down the hall towards the shuttle. Acelan turned to Veren and said “Looks like we are getting to go off world for a while, it is exciting. After all, I don’t remember being off world much. I remember very little of being at the Coruscant Jedi Temple.” Veren replied, “ I still wish we were going to fight in the war, but healing at the hospital will let us hear lots of war stories I bet.” “Let’s go pack, I’ll beat you to the shuttle!” Veren exclaimed.
The Victory had been in a few battles during the war; as such she was in need of repair, the reason she was probably chosen to make this particular run was because she was unfit for battle in her condition. The ship had to drop out of hyperspace periodically on route to Celic Prime because the hyperdrive was damaged. Her course was not direct; she had several jumps plotted with repairs continuing between them. Her third jump was plotted to take them into an uninhabited system. Usually this system would be a safe location to continue making repairs, after all the war front was still not close.
The Victory assumed an orbit around the third planet in this system, the small red star at the very end of its life glowed faintly in the center of the solar system. The crew continued repairs on the hyperdrive and major ship systems. “The situation is not the best captain, the damage is quite extensive across most of the ship, I’d hate to think we would be facing any combat, the ship just couldn’t take it” the ships engineer Lino said. “I know you don’t have to remind me again, that’s why were are playing ferry for now, did you find something else you didn’t find before?” Captain Rend answered. “It’s the fuel tank compartments, the hull plating has micro fractures that just can’t be fixed unless we dock, which we can’t do, so we need to avoid a firefight” answered Lino.
Just as Lino had informed the Captain of the new situation, the proximity alert sounded. “We have a contact Captain, scans are showing a ship on an intercept course approaching from aft” said the Helmsman. “Can you identify the of type of ship?” the Captain replied. “Yes Sir, it’s a Sith Battle Cruiser” the helmsman replied. “Prepare to jump to Hyperspace,” the Captain said urgently. “Yes Sir, course set, preparing to jump”. The helmsman affirmed. Just as the ship was about to jump, the Sith cruiser locked a tractor beam onto the Victory, control panels popped and the lights dimmed. “Sir, their tractor beam is overloading all our systems, we are loosing main power,” the helmsman yelled. “Fire cannons, we won’t let them take us without a fight!” the Captain yelled. “And send out a distress call!” Just as the captain gave the order to fire, the power of the Sith ship’s tractor beam ripped open the weakened hull plating that surrounded the fuel storage tank compartments. The force of the explosive decompression caused the fuel tanks to rupture and a huge explosion blew out of the side of the Victory, severely damaging the Sith cruiser at the same instance. The Victory had lost main power and began to descend into the atmosphere of the planet they were orbiting, explosions ripping through her superstructure. The crew and passengers rushed to the escape pods, Acelan was rushed into one, “Launch them now!”, a crewmember yelled.
The Sith Cruiser faired no better, caught in the gravitational pull of the planet, the burning ship listed into the atmosphere and fell burning to the planet below. Only one escape pod launched, joining its mother ship in the spiraling freefall. Roaring through the rainy night sky, the burning cruiser crashed into the alien sea, the escape pod landed not far away. Fires of the wreckage burned as the rolling waves took the remains of the larger ship under, only the small escape pod remained afloat, the waves carrying it towards a distant shore.
Acelan awoke from the meditation with a start; the tide was higher, the water lapping at his waist. He looked down at his wound, it was closed, and he felt around to his back at the exit wound, it also had closed. A school of silver fish circled him like a spinning cloud and sea birds dived in the distance squawking as they flew overhead.
Where are the others from the Victory? Acelan stood and looked around scanning the beach with his keen eyes. Nothing but this part of his escape pod. Where did the others crash? Acelan had no idea what planet this may be, he was nauseated and had a headache, but he must continue to focus, the thought repeated in his mind.
Acelan climbed up into the part of the escape pod, he looked at the other two that did not survive, he was saddened, he must tend to their bodies soon. But, he needed food and water to survive, he must find some, somewhere. Checking the compartments in the escape pod, he found the emergency kits, food, water, medical supplies and blankets, no camping gear though. Obviously the escape pods were not meant for planetary landings, as the condition of the pod would attest to that fact. Acelan considered, what if the other pods landed somewhere else? Others could still be alive. Then he remembered Veren, anguish streaked through his mind. Did Veren his friend survive?
To the West was the continuous circle of the atoll broken in a few places and to the East the atoll circled back towards a larger landmass, the center of the atoll was an enormous lagoon. Acelan decided to walk in order to access if the planet was truly uninhabited. The waves washing up on shore, the flying creatures overhead were diving into the sea for fish was interesting to watch he thought, it was a peaceful place. Nearing the landmass the beach receded and the water almost covered the rocks, there were crablike crustaceans that he had never seen before in any Jedi archive, large blue and red crabs, with enormous claws scurrying into the surf, half a meter in diameter. Acelan thought to himself, food would not be a problem if the crabs were edible.
As Acelan approached the landmass he saw a structure, not far up the hill from the shore. The closer he got the more he could see, there was a fence around a compound of some kind, a building, rows of towers behind it, a large warehouse like building that was partially collapsed and scattered equipment parts. Far to the right he also saw some sort of silos and a star ship-landing pad. He began to run, hoping that some form of people, aliens or whatever lived or worked here. “Hello, hello!” Acelan yelled, as he got closer. There was no answer to his calls; he reached the gates pushing them open. “Hello is anyone here?” he called out, still no answer. Looking around at the scattered and deteriorated debris, he figured out the place had been abandoned for quite some time. Acelan let out yet another sigh, investigating further he noticed that behind the compound the field of towers were actually large droid like towers with six legs, they looked rusted into place. This must have been a mining operation at some point in time, long abandoned by the looks of it.
Acelan was disappointed, but then he had not expected to even find such a shelter on this planet. The planet was may truly be uninhabited, the tell tale signs of a thriving civilization are all too clear, ships flying overhead, even Bunjon as sparsely populated as it is, has its fair share of ships in the skies, there were none in the skies above this planet. He walked back out to the beach and knelt for an afternoon meditation, his side still ached, the wound was healing nicely, but another meditation would help nonetheless.
When they finished eating Acelan walked over to his things, he folded the blankets into sitting pads and knelt down on one. “Come Lord Darjin, kneel with me and I will attempt to heal your injuries”. Darjin considered the young healer’s offer and he accepted. Lord Darjin knelt in front of the young healer, Darjin never liked anyone close to him, and especially this close, the young healer and the Sith Lord were kneeling face to face. Normally he would be apprehensive, he was injured and vulnerable to attack, but his pain was great and he knew in his mind that Acelan was sincere in his desire to heal his wounds.
Acelan awoke, still tired from healing previous night. Darjin was nowhere in sight, he hoped the Sith Lord’s wounds were better. Acelan felt hungry again, but more than that he needed a bath, the salt on his skin was irritating. He knew there must be a shower here, after all these years he hoped it worked. Walking down the hall, past the kitchen was a changing room, a few benches and a cabinets were along the walls, passing through a door at the end of the room, there was, a line of showers along a wall. It had been two days since he had a shower. Acelan made a wish, if there was no rescue then, let there be hot water. He turned on the middle shower handle to hot, the handle and the showerhead began to rumble, a blast of dust spewed forth filling the air, then his wish came true, brown rusty water rushed in spurts from the shower head, a blast of air, then brown water again, finally hot steaming water sprayed from the nozzle crashing onto the floor as the rusty water ran down the drain. Acelan walked back over to one of the benches sat down, pulled off his boots, and then removed his robe. The cold floor felt so good to his feet. The water was a little hot, so he adjusted it to be more comfortable, still hot, but not too hot. There was a dispenser of cleanser on the wall, Acelan pushed it, squirting out a glob of something, he smelled it, and well it didn’t smell horrible he thought to himself. Acelan lathered up his body, the wound on his side was healing up nicely, two days and most of the pain was gone, he reached around and felt the exit wound on his back, healing as well as the front wound. Acelan dried off and went back into the main room. The Sith had returned, “There is a shower with hot water if you want one”, Acelan said to the Sith. “That actually sounds good Healer”, Darjin said and went in to shower.
“Were there no rations or supplies on your escape pod Master Darjin?” Acelan asked. The Sith Lord just looked at Acelan, and then finally answered coolly, “The pod sank into the sea, I was barely able to get out of it, and I had no time to think about rations.” Acelan knew with the lack of rations and the dying star their time on this planet was limited, crabs or no crabs. “This world’s sun is dying and dying quickly at that. This world is close to the sun and yet was able to sustain life even at its proximity, which means the sun was never really hot and now it is only a matter of time before the last of its energy is gone”, Acelan said to the Sith.
Acelan walked out onto the beach and stood in front of Darjin facing him. Acelan bowed at Darjin and his saber activated glowing blue. Darjin bowed in turn and his lightsaber activated glowing red, as all Sith lightsabers do. Acelan took up a defensive stance, while Darjin took an attack stance. Their sabers met as Acelan stepped back, blocking four saber swipes in a row. Next he blocked a series of attacks, the last forced Acelan to the ground, holding his saber above his head he held the red saber back as the Sith pressed harder. Acelan rolled and attempted to stand, the Sith kicked Acelan in the chest, knocking him back upon the sand. Darjin held his lightsaber close to Acelan’s neck, “Your whole technique is pitiful, no wonder you are merely a healer”, Darjin said in disgust and walked away. Acelan just lay there on the coarse sand looking at the sun. He considered what kind of life he had lived, uneventful, unexciting, bordering on unhappy and now practically a prisoner of the enemy.
Days passed and the food rations were almost gone, Darjin sat in the structure, thinking this healer is weak in the martial skills but strong in the force, yet he is what Darjin desired. What the Sith had kept locked away under his years of training and deep in his psyche was emerging. The Sith Lord Darjin was lonely, there had never been another before that he connected to, but now there is this healer, strong in his connection to the light side of the force, full of potential and beautiful. The Sith Lord Darjin Helotis realized he was in love. Naga Sadow would not get his hands on Acelan Genor, Darjin repeated in his mind, then the Sith decided to abandon his plans of defection to the Republic for the time being, for it could greatly endanger his future apprentice and with hope future lover Jedi Healer Acelan Genor. “To hell with it”, Darjin said sighing, he raised his sleeve and tapped a little green light on his armband. A few moments later on a distant world in a hidden stronghold, a small cruiser lit up, the little droid pilot hopped into his seat and said, “I am coming master”. The hanger doors opened up and the cruiser left the stronghold and sped towards the small planet that the two were stranded on.
The three entered the ship and the landing door closed. Darjin and PD-2 went further ahead while Acelan followed behind looking over the ship.
It was a new ship Acelan thought by the smell of it, he followed them into a large windowed compartment with chairs, couches, video screens and consoles. “Sit here while we get underway”, Darjin said to Acelan. The Sith and PD-2 went on ahead to the bridge for departure. Acelan sat back into one of the chairs and sighed, wondering what kind of rescue this is going to turn out to be. Acelan sat for a moment and contemplated, then he said out loud “Well a rescue of any sort is better than starvation on a dying planet.” At that moment Darjin entered the room, “Well said young healer, but I don’t think that you are going to be disappointed.” Darjin tossed a new robe into Acelan’s lap, “go shower in the compartment to the right down the corridor and put those on, you have had your old robes on for days, a fresh change will do you good.”
Darjin considered their predicament, when they arrive at Orissa, they will have enough supplies to last many years, that was good, no need for contact with the outside world. But this young healer would probably not be content to sit and wait on a planet such as Orissa, it was beautiful, however it was a frozen world far from any inhabited planets or trade routes. Then Darjin had an idea, he has an oubliette on Orissa, they would use it to wait out the war and see what happens. Darjin immediately knew this was what they were going to do, he would be able to keep Acelan safe and by his side.
They walked through the wide halls of the strong hold passing a room that seemed like a communications room, all lit up with screens and instruments. They arrived at Darjin’s sleeping quarters, it was large and very well decorated. There were what would appear to be treasures from different cultures in the room. “Now young healer it is time we got some rest, in a real bed.” Acelan looked at Darjin, who placed his lightsaber on the nightstand, disrobed and walked towards the bed. Acelan placed his training saber on the nightstand as well, removed his own robe and followed him. Darjin pulled back the covers for the healer and Acelan laid down. “This is not easy for me to say, I have never needed to. I know how you feel about me Acelan and I feel the same about you. I intend to take care of you and keep you safe”, the Sith said. Acelan looked at Darjin and really didn’t know what to say but began, “It is forbidden in the Jedi order to fall in love with someone, but with you I could not help it. However, you are a Sith Lord and that scares me, I will not follow you down that path that you have chosen Darjin, I cannot.” The Sith looked at Acelan and said, “I do not expect you to and would not allow it, but my path is no longer the path of the Sith, but a path I walk with you.” Darjin pulled Acelan close, kissed Acelan lightly on the lips and the two fell asleep.
Acelan noticed Darjin was wearing a different type of robe than he had worn, it looked more like a ceremonial robe. Darjin walked over to the bed and picked up a robe that was laying across the end of the bed and he sat be Acelan, “I want you to put this on Acelan, we are going to make it through this and in the end it will be better, of that I am sure.” Acelan did not understand, but complied. The new robe he was given was like a Padawan robe, but darker and the fabric was more soft and luxurious, not coarse like his own. Darjin ran his fingers through Acelan's hair and he pulled their heads towards each other, their foreheads touching. “It is time, come”, Darjin said, standing. The two walked down a different hall, longer and leading deeper inside the mountain.
They came upon a room with an object in the middle, it was large, made of metal with a window covering part of the front of it, like an escape pod. “What is it?”, Acelan asked. Darjin answered, “It is an oubliette Acelan, a place where we will sleep through the war and when we emerge, things may be more conducive for us.” Darjin walked over to the device and tapped the panel, the transparent door opened. Acelan walked closer, scared, he trusted Darjin but knew his life was about to be forever changed. “Step inside”, Darjin said. Acelan obeyed, hesitantly he stepped into it. Darjin punched something else into the keypad on the control panel and then stepped inside with Acelan. Pulling Acelan close to him, their arms holding each other. The door closed on the oubliette and the process began. Darjin said, “I will see you soon.” As the gasses began to put them into a deep sleep, Acelan uttered the words for the first time in his life “I love you.” 6000 years the two slept in the oubliette, no one had entered the stronghold until today.
Aarik’s jaw dropped as he walked up to the oubliette, tapping his comm. device he said excitedly, “Master, you had better see this!” Taedron replied over the comm., “Aarik, what is your location so Master Melucian and I may find you and see what you are..” The comm. device cut off. “What in the worlds?” Taedron asked. Aarik turned to see that Taedron and Master Melucian had found him anyway. Aarik looked back at the device with the two humanoids seemingly frozen behind the glass. “Amazing, simply amazing”, Master Melucian said quite in shock at seeing it, “It is a Sith Oubliette, a stasis device, obviously this installation is from the Sith Empire era, many millennia old.” Taedron asked concerned at the possibility, “And I am guessing those two are Sith?” Chill bumps ran up the back of Aarik’s neck, but all he could do is stare at the two in the chamber in fascination. “Yes, I can’t quite believe it myself, but there they are”, Master Melucian and Taedron walked up closer to the oubliette, both staring at the two inside. “A Sith Lord and his apprentice by the looks of it, they are wearing traditional Sith robes from the period”, Master Melucian said. Aarik walked up close and reached out to touch the glass. “No Aarik!”, Master Melucian yelled at him. Aarik stopped, took a step back and looked at Master Melucian. “Don’t touch it, you could cause the machine to waken them, we don’t know how the mechanism is designed. For all we know it has been here for 6000 years undisturbed, let’s not change that right now.” Master Melucian continued, “To awaken them could mean the death of us all, for a Sith Lord is dangerous, quite beyond any of us, including one so skilled with the saber as Master Hairon here”.
Taedron pulled his padawan further away from the oubliette. Taedron finally said, shaking his head, “A Sith Lord, it is astonishing”, he walked up closer to the device. “They are perfectly preserved and look as though they are just sleeping.” Master Melucian said, “Well they are ‘just’ sleeping in a manner of speaking. And if the two revived right now, it would seem to them that they had just went to sleep moments ago, if what I have read about the devices is correct, that is.” Aarik still unnerved by the prospect that he could have woken the pair by touching the glass finally said, “Look at them, like a perfect master and his pupil.” Looking over at his own master, Taedron caught his eye and knew what Aarik meant. The two both had noticed the apprentice’s arms holding onto his master in their sleep chamber. “I wonder who they are and how they came to be in the device? I wonder what their story would be?” A part of Aarik wished that he could wake them and ask them the questions that now filled his mind, for to him they not only looked like a master and apprentice, but reminded him immediately of Taedron and himself. “Well we need to contact the Jedi Council and tell them of our discovery. We may be able to answer some of you questions by investigation here in the stronghold Aarik.” Master Melucian headed out of the chamber and back to the ship to contact Coruscant.
The Republic Science and Space Ministry and the Jedi Order had sent out probe droids searching for suitable planets for other DNA repositories, part of the Arthuta Project. The Arthuta Repository is a very large protected vault that holds the DNA for every known species in the Galaxy. The Arthuta Repository proved invaluable following the destruction of the Yuuzhen Vong Wars, allowing the reseeding of species wiped out by the Vongiformation of many worlds. The probe found that this planet met the criteria for the project, frozen, isolated, geologically stable, the star in the system was a very suitable main sequence yellow dwarf. The probe also found this stronghold built into the mountainside. Master Melucian being part of Arthuta Project was sent to investigate the stronghold, he brought his student Aarik and Aarik’s Jedi Master Hairon with him to assist.
As soon as Master Melucian had left the room Aarik walked up to Taedron and said, “I think these two are lovers.” Taedron looked at Aarik, “I knew you would think that, I saw your eyes when you looked at me, you think I believe that too.” Aarik looked at Taedron and replied, “Don’t you? They look like lovers, they remind me of you and I actually, albeit it trapped in that thing.” Taedron sighed, “Aarik, just stop right now. They are not you and I. I know what is running through your mind, don’t let your emotions make these two out to be something they may not be. I know you all too well, you are placing you and I in their place. But it is not us in there, stay focused on what we are here for and let the Jedi Council take care of this.” A few minutes later Master Melucian returned, “The Jedi Council is dispatching a team immediately to retrieve the oubliette and all the contents of the facility. They want us to wait here until the team arrives and assist them, until then we begin to pack the place up. The council wants everything and who knows maybe we will find out who these Sith were and what they are doing in the oubliette.”
Taedron wished now that they had not accompanied Melucian on this investigation. His padawan was the most compassionate person he had ever met, a quality that both benefits and hinders his progress towards becoming a Jedi Knight And now Aarik was worried about the two Sith in the oubliette they had found. Taedron knew Aarik had created a life for the two Sith, some sort of dashing and lavish tale in his mind, ending with them being imprisoned for eternity together, in the oubliette. Taedron sighed looking at his padawan.
They found and packed many amazing things from Sith Holocrons to two ancient droids in perfect condition. Aarik took holovids of everything since their arrival like a documentary. The small Sith cruiser was tagged along with all the other items too large to put in crates. Through every thing they cataloged and packed, the three didn’t find out the names of the Sith, possibly being able to read Sith would have benefited the three, but alas that was not the case. The Jedi and scientists sent by the council arrived and also were astonished at actually seeing the oubliette. Readings were taken with various equipment and it was determined that the oubliette could be moved without disturbing its occupants. The leader of the Jedi team spoke with Master Melucian and Taedron while Aarik knowing his place waited to hear what was said.