Ask Legends of the Hidden Temple

Korsak Wulpez

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Ontotho, 12:51 Local Time
The Temple of Ontotho

Of all the mysteries and secrets of the Force, the Zeffo might be the closest to Korsak's mind and heart, a civilization so intertwined with the Force that it seemed every aspect of their lives revolved around its mastery and use. Every ruin yet discovered showed signs of Force sensitive training, as well as a need for powers in the Force to access even the most basic areas. The power of the Zeffo, their rise, zenith, and fall, were all keenly important to someone as invested in the mastery of the Force as Korsak was. So when news came of a Zeffo tomb discovered on the backwater of Ontotho, Korsak raced to the planet in the hopes of uncovering the secrets of the tomb before anyone else.

Unfortunately for Korsak, in this as in all cases of archeological discovery, the local yokels had decided to storm the tomb in force first, no doubt trying to pry whatever looked valuable from the walls. According to the terrified local guides and would-be treasure hunters, the tomb's was home to monsters that spat blue fire and crushed men with their bare hands. Korsak knew that Zeffo tombs had some kind of security system, and the carelessness of the local Fylari had awakened them meaning the temple would now be patrolled by...something large and incredibly dangerous. The best case scenario was some kind of old, crumbling automaton that was too much for untrained locals to handle, but no match for the Force. The worse case scenario was some kind of weaponized security system that protected the entire compound, and would require an Eternal Legionnaire strike team to crack.

But as Korsak reached the towering stairs leading to the temple stronghold, flanked by towering Zeffo statues, it was not what lied ahead of him that worried him, it was what lay behind. A presence, a sensation in the Force of someone, or something, drawing closer to the temple, and Korsak had no knowledge of the presence or what was causing it. He opted for safety in this case, burying his own impression in the Force and hoping that whatever was coming would either be peaceful, or at least easy to take in a fight.


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Nykoria Tallis

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Kori had remained on Ajan Kloss for too long. Ever since attaining Knighthood, the Zeltron preferred the solitude of her secret training ground to crossing the galaxy with fellow Jedi. Not for being disillusioned or due to the lack of trust—no, she had other, more personal reasons. But when asked to assist Knight Nara Allam on a mission to Ontotho, Kori couldn't refuse the Masters. Despite her misgivings, a part of her wanted this mission. Even if only to have an excuse to take the Serendipity for a spin.

Beside that, the mission also gave Kori an opportunity to take her new friend for a trip. A miniature BD unit had somehow found Kori's little sanctum on Ajan Kloss. For reasons known only to its processing units, the droid stuck around. Kori didn't mind—quite the opposite, the lonely Jedi welcomed such company. A droid had no emotions in the organic sense, so he couldn't disrupt the Zeltron's meditation in a way a person could. Even though Kori couldn't understand the curious machine, she took to it somewhat. The fact that BD-9 were designed for exploration made it logical to bring the droid along for the ride.

The trip itself was rather unremarkable. Although Kori liked her companions, she didn't go out of her way to show it. The Zeltron was mostly quiet, and would reply to questions curtly. In fact, she'd even smile only once, when she could swear she heard BD-9 beep a tune she had heard back in her teenage years, during her time at the law enforcement academy. Apart from that, Kori struggled to remain "all business" at all times—during the flight itself, and at the village on Ontotho, when she and Nara were asking the locals about the temple and the people who had gone missing.

And now here they were, walking through an outlandish forest. Violet snowflakes fell from the sky, even though the temperature was well above zero. The Zeltron tried to cast off a few violet flakes that were about to land on her shoulder. But to Kori's surprise, the flakes simply evaporated on contact with her leather jacket. Tambic gas, as the locals had told them; not the best thing to inhale.

"We should get above the fog," the Zeltron commented matter-of-factly, as she strode forward and peered into the distance. After noticing the outline of a tall artificial structure, Kori added: "I think I see the temple." Soon the ground under the travelers would make way for stones, and the stairs would lead the two Jedi and a droid above the violet sea of semi-transparent gas.

However, they were not alone. Up ahead, a short furred stranger was standing at the foot of the stairs. Kori didn't quite make out who it was, but stopped to let the others catch up. To the stranger, Kori could seem like a spacer: a black flight-suit underneath a dark-brown jacket, and a blaster pistol on her hip. The lightsaber hilts were secured horizontally on the back of her belt, concealed by the jacket. The Zeltron knew all too well that some people could be prejudiced against the Jedi, and tried to pass off as a simple pilot. "Looks like someone else got here first," she'd say to her companions, while they still were far enough from the stranger.

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As the Jedi approached the ruins, BD-9 sped ahead, immediately getting to work inspecting the path leading to the long-abandoned temple. It seemed that the path above the tambic gas is in reasonable condition, which is good. At the cusp of stepping above the fog, Beedee waited for the others to catch up. The little droid, after all, would not be affected by the atmosphere, tambic gas or anything possibly worse.

The information gathering back at the village proved to be more uneventful for the droid than even the trip itself, since none of the locals understood him. It is not that much of a surprise, given that Beedee used a Clone Wars-era version of Binary. His friend Riz'kacha was among the few that was capable of picking out his words, but people like the Twi'lek are few and far between. At least the children took a liking to Beedee's adorableness. A lot of organics seem to think so.

As the trio approached the fourth, Beedee again took the lead to take a look. He could tell it is an Amaran... and that was about it. It seemed odd to Beedee that the discovery and immediate danger that followed the temple's reputation would attract common spacers to the Zeffo ruins, but there are plenty of organics out in the galaxy daring to defy expectations; an old friend from over a hundred years ago was that kind of person. Stopping at the Amaran's side, Beedee peered over to get a look at the sentient's face, flapping his antennae in response once noticed.

// Greetings! // the little droid beeped.

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Nara Allam

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When they say jump, Nara had to say 'how high?' That was the life of a Jedi Knight, after all. Not that she wasn't grateful. Having an actual mission was a sign that they trusted her to do something, at least. She always felt a little nervous when she had those messages from The Masters. Even though the two masters she knew personally were the nicest people in the Galaxy, there was just something about the collective.

I'm probably just being silly.

The trip there had been uneventful. Just the two of them and that droid. Kori, as she called herself, seemed pretty okay, if a little too quiet. Suited Nara just fine. And she had to admit that her ship was a fair bit more sprightly and subtle than the ageing, perpetually-groaning Condor she'd inherited from her master. Just a mild case of envy there.

Nara wore a breather over her mouth, not trusting the atmosphere for even a couple of seconds. She wore her typical outfit for a mission like this, namely trousers, shirt and long coat. Beneath, the coat, her blaster and saber were clipped to her belt for easy access. Med supplies and blaster cartridges in the bag over her shoulder. Droid back on the ship. 3B was a little bit jealous of the shinier, chirpier model.

Nara looked over at the other person they'd seen. Fairly small, but they didn't seem to be a native, but that might have been Nara's prejudices talking. Big Galaxy out there, couldn't presume anything like that.

"You think they're from nearby? Trying their luck at the temple?" she asked Nykoria, before she saw BD clamber his way towards the person. "No... BD, wait!" she called out, a little bit too late. The droid was right up at the person's side.

Well, so much for subtlety and surprise...

Nara stepped forwards a little, raising her hand in greeting.

"Hey there. Temple got you all excited too?" she asked, other hand on her hip. Nothing strange here, no sir. Just some honest folk looking over a Temple. Nothing weird here.

"Y'know, I heard it was real dangerous,"
she said, shrugging. "They say in the village that people keep going missing when they come to look around. You sure you thought this through?"


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Korsak Wulpez

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Waiting at the temple steps, Korsak made sure that his lightsaber was well hidden in his robes before anyone approached, as he was unsure as to who was coming, and what their opinions on red lightsabers were. The usual public reaction was either violent reprisal or screaming terror, neither of which he wanted to deal with right now. But what scampered out of the forest and right up to him was just about the last thing Korsak expected: some kind of rat-like droid, chirping and chittering as if it expected him to understand the gibberish droid language.

"I don't understand you." He was wondering who the Force presence was before two figures stepped from the woods, a young human and a Twi'lek, neither of whom struck the Amaran as the scholarly type.

"Something like that." The human's initial greeting was friendly enough, but her insinuation wasn't appreciated. He snapped back, voice dripping with venomous intent. "If I had to guess, I'd say I've put more thought into this sentence than you've ever mustered in your life."


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Nykoria Tallis

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Before Kori could answer Nara's question, she too saw the ever-curious BD-9 rush off to meet the stranger. "Hey, BD!" the Zeltron shouted, giving chase to the droid and the younger Knight. Kori was the last to arrive at the scene, so Nara took charge in talking to the stranger. And by the Force, did the furred critter have a way with words! His reply to Nara's admittedly patronizing warning was so snarky, that it evoked a faint smirk on the usually-unperturbed purple face.

"Touche," Kori commented in a friendly manner, mostly to help calm down the stranger. Rumors had it that Zeltrons were especially good at that. Allegedly, they gave off soothing pheromones that had a calming effect made people like them. Whether that was the case, or whether it would work now, remained to be seen.

"Look, there's no need to be rude," she said that looking at the stranger, but also casting a sideways glance at the fellow Knight. "You want to go there, we ain't here to shop you," the Zeltron shrugged, looking at the derelict towering above them. "But people went missing," Nykoria paused, taking in the view before turning back to the stranger. "And we were hired to find those people."

Something warned Kori against saying "sent by the Jedi Order"—she knew all too well that some people could be prejudiced against the adepts of the Force. She had faced it even on a civilized world such as Coruscant, let alone in the Outer Rim.

"Speaking of which," the Zeltron lowered her gaze to the droid. "BD, could you search the area for any sign of them? The sooner we find them, the better." Perhaps, if the droid found a trace, Kori could track it down further. Maybe even figure out how and where they were heading.

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The Amaran's rather cold response didn't deter Beedee at all. He was used to that kind of response (aside from how indifferent the Amaran sounded). But, as one organic put it, emotions are universally understood. Instead, Beedee tilted his head to the side to imply curiosity as the other Jedi questioned him. It was a matter best suited to them, after all.

The Amaran's burst of emotion, in response to Master Allam's choice of words, sent warning bells ringing. The Amaran is definitely one to keep an eye on. Even the droid felt the Amaran's words to his core. But that was enough analyzing of the newcomer: Master Tallis wanted him to do what he did best!

// Right away! // Beedee chirped, bouncing on either limb before taking off in search for clues.

It seemed to have rained recently on Ontotho, which mildly complicated the process of discovering footprints. Thankfully, the growth of vegetation around the temple provided hints as to where people have been wandering when searching the earth would have failed. A couple of footprints managed to survive the precipitation well enough for Beedee to document, allowing him to track where that individual had been when the tracks grew more difficult to read.

The disturbed undergrowth and occasional tracks led Beedee to a crevice in the temple wall. It seemed large enough for people to squeeze through, which would be appropriate given that the main entrance back where the others were looked like it has been sealed.

Beedee let off a loud whistle to get the others' attention and waited right at the crevice to present his discovery.

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Nara Allam

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Nara smirked as the stranger fired back an insult. My, aren't we tetchy? Somewhere we shouldn't be, perhaps? You didn't lash out unless you were expecting an attack. Nara was an expert, she'd had years of training in the art of sore emotions and tetchiness. An equally snarky insult was already on her lips but she bit it back. Insulting random strangers probably wasn't the best way to uphold the status of a Jedi Knight, no matter how fun it seemed. Or how much they so clearly deserved it.

"Nice to meet you too," she said instead, giving him a hollow smile before turning towards Nykoria. She said nothing, just raising her eyebrows a little as she set off after BD, hearing him whistle.

She stepped through the vegetation, a light bit of mud sucking at her boots. She rolled her eyes as she approached the temple wall, seeing what BD had found. It looked pretty promising. Definitely wide enough to fit someone through. She patted her stomach. Thank the Force for natural scrawniness.

"Great. Good find, buddy," she said to BD, giving him a quick grin. She stepped forwards, nearing the crevice. It was still quite dark in there, but that wouldn't be a problem. Nara's hand slipped towards her belt, about to reach for her saber... before she thought better of it. The quiet approach would probably be safer here, she thought, as she whipped her hand away.

"BD? Your spotlight working okay?" she asked the little droid, checking out his chassis for any sign of damage. "You think you could shine it down there? Just wanna make sure we're not squeezing into a pit or something."
[
/gfont]


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Korsak Wulpez

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Korsak was glad, at least in part, to see that the presumed leader of this group was willing to aim some castigation at her young human friend for her snippy comment. Granted the Twi'lek also aimed some blame at him, and of course he was perfectly innocent in this situation, which he did not appreciate.

"Need? Perhaps not, but there was a firm and overriding desire." Korsak made sure to note a bit of hesitation and insistence on the Twi'lek's part, when she explained why they were here. He already assumed everyone around him had some ulterior motives, but her refrain helped drive his suspicions home, but he would not act on them just yet.

"Likewise." As the droid and the human passed him, he offered an introduction just as cold as her own, before turning to see them both disappearing into a small crack in the nearby wall. The droid had found an entrance on this level, one possibly used by the people these heroes were allegedly here to rescue. Although they could have also taken the stairs up to the higher entrance hall of the complex, and the vegetation around the tunnel implied to Korsak that no one had passed through the opening. But he wasn't here for to rescue the local color, and he didn't want to leave these people alone to wander the halls beneath him, strength and surveillance in numbers.

"After you, Ms..." He left the question of the Twi'lek's name as an implication, hoping to get a name out of the explorer before she got his.


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Nykoria Tallis

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Kori saw off her robotic companion with a shade of smile on her lips. Something about the little machine was so cute that even the calm and collected Zeltron couldn't get over it at times. After the droid disappeared, Nykoria exhaled through her nose, relieved that the situation has deescalated somewhat. With all the tension building up, she felt the urge to take an exercise in sharp tongue too. But ultimately, things settled down. Zero to snark, one to Kori.

The Amaran's residual unfriendliness still made Kori suspicious. But the Jedi were supposed to let things like that slide. A part of her also felt sorry about "selling out" Nara this way, even though it was all for a greater good—defusing a conflict. Still, perhaps the Zeltron would owe the human an apology after the mission.

But then she was distracted from those thoughts by a loud whistle from Beedee in the distance. "Coming!" she shouted, but yet again it was Nara who went ahead. Kori couldn't blame her companion for not wanting to stick around the Amaran who had insulted her. But now the stranger was asking for her own name. "Tallis," she replied casually. Suspicious or not, there was no harm in giving the stranger her real name. Then the Zeltron headed towards the find. Something told her the Amaran wouldn't just stand there and follow her. Maybe even introduce himself on the way.

As Kori walked, she experienced a subtle feeling... As if they weren't the only ones who had walked that path. That got the Zeltron's attention, and she noticed some of the tracks that BD had documented earlier. The trio were definitely on the right track. Kori approached her companions, who were standing by the crevice. "Great job, little guy!" she knelt and patted the droid on the head with a smile. But looking inside the dark and relatively narrow passage made Kori's smile vanish, as she exhaled through the nose again.

By the Force, why does it have to be so narrow? Kori was the largest of the group; not much taller than Nara, but definitely less petite. Until then, it had never been a concern. But now she'd have to try and squeeze through a narrow opening. At least the flight-suit pressed down her body somewhat, and she had left its life-support box back at the Serendipity. Otherwise, it would've been a no-go.

"It's best if I go first," she explained to the others. "If I can get through, then we all can." She checked her utility belt and grabbed a glowrod off it. "Beedee, give us some extra light and help the others get through, ok?" With that, the Zeltron drew a deep breath and squeezed her body through the crevice. Treading carefully, Kori made small side steps—one hand shining the light, and the other grabbing to the wall and pushing off of it.

After half-a-minute of torment that felt like an eternity—and a hit on the low ceiling followed by the Zeltron's loud "Ugh!" that echoed throughout the crevice—she was finally through. Of course, it had to be pitch-black inside. Even at the maximum power of the glowrod, Kori couldn't see the ceiling or the opposite walls; only the all-engulfing darkness of a large tomb-like chamber, devoid of any life.

Yet there was something... The same feeling that the Zeltron had experienced while walking towards the crevice. Whoever had passed there, had also been here. However, Kori couldn't say how long ago. "I'm inside!" she raised her voice as she spoke through the crevice. Hopefully, her companions would join her soon, and they'd be able to better examine the place.

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Beedee nodded as Master Allam inquired about his searchlight. Of course it is working: thanks to the maintenance facilities on Ajan Kloss, Beedee had much needed relief from his previous stint as a masterless, wandering droid. But the droid allowed Master Tallis to take the lead on entering the temple, following behind her with the searchlight's shine.

As the others followed behind, Beedee took in the immediate surroundings, in search for further evidence of the missing peoples' passage. The crevice invited nature to creep into the temple: moss and dirt littered the entrance. And that allowed Beedee to make note of a multitude of footprints that went deeper inside, following it as a canine would. Even as the footprints faded, the dirt left from the steps of the presumed missing villagers carried on a bit further in before also leaving the trail without a trace.

Without any form of illumination, it would be difficult for the others to see what was going on. Beedee backtracked from his exploration back to the others.

// The trail ends too soon. // Beedee reported while shaking his head.

Surely there is something within the room that would pique the attention of those who didn't know any better, even if it is just a doorway that promised something interesting beyond.

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Nara waited until BD slipped in after Nykoria, then followed. She breathed in tight as she squeezed, edging her body slowly through the crevice. Carefully moving, one step at a time, feeling the stone brush roughly against her. Even for her it was a tight fit. This takes me back. Squeezing through vents was a lot more fun, though. She was also somewhat wary of the person following her in. Getting stuck in the rock, pinned between Nykori and their 'little friend' wasn't exactly high on her expectations.

After a short while (and a nasty scrape on her head from that lowered ceiling), she too stepped into the chamber. The pitch-black darkness was unnerving, even as BD's spotlight and Nykori's glowrod tried to cut through it. It gave the room an eerier atmosphere, watching those beams of light just blend into the nothingness.

What I wouldn't give to use my saber right now... she thought, though she dared not. Brandishing it around wasn't a good idea until she desperately needed to. Besides, it was a dangerous and deadly weapon, not a nightlight. Nara had to make do with drawing her blaster, feeling on edge as she stepped forwards. Her boots patted down on the wet moss and lichen, as Nara reached out and brushed her fingertips over crumbling walls. At the edge of her senses, there was something not right...

She stopped her contemplations as her fingers brushed against something a little more recessed. Pausing, she put both hands on the stonework, trying to feel it.

"Hey, BD, can I get a little focus on here?" Nara called out as her fingertips brushed over some kind of channel. There was something shaped in the stone, smooth and well-made. Very strange. It's fashioned so well, smooth as polished metal to touch. The channel reached up higher. She tried to stretch higher but the channels continued past her reach. There was no obvious opening. No door handle, that'd be too easy. She very much doubted there'd be a panel for them to hack either.

The Force.

The thought came to her unbidden, almost as if it'd suddenly sprouted from her deepest consciousness. It felt... strange.

"There's a door here... but it's huge," Nara said, the awe clear in her voice. She looked over her shoulder, hoping to see Nykori highlighted by her glowrod. "Can't see how to open it," she lied, hoping that Nykori would pick up on her more serious look.

I really don't want to start lifting heavy rock with the stranger around.


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Korsak Wulpez

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"Beldan." He replied. He was lying, Beldan was the name of the brother he hated the least growing up, but unless the stranger had been raised in a dung-farm on Tanaab like him she was unlikely to recognize that name. Korsak couldn't even begin to fathom the odds of such a meeting occurring.

Korsak had no problem letting Tallis take the first crack at the opening in the side of the stairs, and even less of a problem with the droid and the human following immediately after her. This meant he wouldn't be stuck in the middle of this unknown and still potentially hostile group, and it gave him easier access to the only known escape route. Korsak's childlike size worked to his advantage in this case, as he was able to slide through the opening without much strain, and without having to rub against the moss and fungus framing the opening.

Upon entering the first chamber, Korsak's keener eyes gave him a slight advantage at seeing in the dark, although even he was having a problem seeing in this thick gloom. The footprints tracking from the hole in the wall traveled further across the room and, in the glint of the droid's searchlight, Korsak saw them vanish on the smooth stone floor. Korsak was no stranger to tracking, so he could guess a few things about the villagers from their prints.

"Your people went this way." He traced a finger out toward a darkened hallway ahead. "A large group walking from the crack down the hall."

It was then he spotted something more intriguing, one very large, very uniform print laid over several of the others, implying this figure came in after the others. Curious.

"I don't suppose any of your villagers were giants in armored boots?" A rhetorical question of course, but if one of the strangers knew anything about a potential threat in this tomb, Korsak figured it was better to ask.


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Once inside, everyone went straight to business. Beedee rushed off to search for more tracks, soon followed by the stranger, "Beldan". Meanwhile, Nara proceeded to explore the walls. For a while, Kori was on her own in the dark, with only a glowrod, Beedee's flashlight in the distance, and what little light that was coming through the crevice.

For some reason, the stale scent of moss remained wherever the Zeltron went. She cast some of the glowrod's light on herself, only to see dark stains on her suit and jacket. It also felt like some of it had gotten in her hair. Ewww, yuck! No matter, there'd be time for cleaning up later. For now, the Zeltron had to rejoin the group.

The first one she caught up with was the Amaran, who brought up "giants in armored boots". That didn't bode well; Kori instinctively patted her stun blaster holstered on the hip. "No, but some people did report echoing thuds." Withholding this sort of information from Beldan was wrong, as it could put him in danger. And Kori, like many Zeltrons, was more inclined to trusting people and taking their word for it.

She knelt to the ground, touching the footprint. Fear. Whoever had passed through the hall had definitely been scared kriffless. Probably on the verge of running. And then... THUD! Kori blinked, and the vision was gone. Shaking her head, as if trying to wake up, the Zeltron stood up and turned her head to the Amaran: "Thanks for the heads up, Beldan. We're on the right track."

Going further in that direction, Kori saw the familiar spotlight up ahead... Nara and Beedee were there, examining something. As Zeltron came up to them, her human companion mentioned a door. And although Kori didn't pick up Nara's implied meaning, she wasn't going to use the Force right away either. She did, however, touch the wall with her hand, holding her glowrod in the other at an angle...

The fear was stronger than before. For a moment, Kori could even hear the people talking, even though she couldn't make out what they were saying. The monotonous THUD-THUD-THUD grew closer from behind her, and the footsteps were getting quieter up ahead, behind where the door would be. Then she heard the deep grinding of the stone, and a loud SLAM!

The Zeltron shook her head and gasped, her posture a little shaky as she leaned on her shoulder against the wall. "Sorry, it's the air... Too stiff," she mumbled an excuse to her companions. The glowrod was aiming down at the dusty stone floor now. "Maybe there's a lever or some mechanism around here," the Zeltron shrugged with her free shoulder; too consumed with what she had just experienced, and oblivious to Nara's hint. "Perhaps we should spread out and search for it. I think our people went through here and got trapped."

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Beedee scurried over at Master Nara's call and shined his light over the sealed doorway. His databanks did not have much information about the Zeffo, but it certainly seemed like it was something important. Or at least something notable. Beedee scanned the doorway in its other spectral visions, seeing if there was something that would otherwise be invisible to the natural eye. No, nothing.

Although it didn't initially seem like the missing villagers would go this way, it is also possible that they split up for some reason.

Turning his light upwards, Beedee looked to examine the stonework around the door. Perhaps there was a hint to what operated it that would not be readily visible in the dark. There was a break in the wall above, far too small for even Beedee to pass through, but it at least seemed like it would offer a glimpse into whatever is into the next room.

Using Master Nara to boost himself up, Beedee climbed the rock face until he made it to the small hole. The footing that he was able to get did not afford a great glimpse, but Beedee was able to extend his neck in order to take a peek. Peering as best he could, Beedee shined his light into the next room... And it seemed a light was shining right back. As well as a whirr of a mechanical automaton.

Beedee yelped as a mass of energy blasted his way, leaping down in time as it splashed across the hole, adding to the damaged face. He hung close to the ground for a moment, regathering his droid-bearings after that close call.

What was that? The droid wasn't able to get a good look at whatever it was: it definitely was turned on by something, or someone. Perhaps a security measure created by the Zeffo? It seemed like the most likely answer, at least. The villagers did not seem to have that kind of technology.

// Let's... go that way. // Beedee finally blustered out, following the receding trail of dirt in the direction that Beldan suggested.

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Nara Allam

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Nara gasped slightly as BD clambered partly up her, to get a better look at the rock. She shivered, wincing at the feel of his feet on her.

"Thanks bud, you think you could give me a little warning next time?" she snarked quietly, folding her arms around herself as she waited for the result. There was a click. Nara paused, hopeful. Then that blast of energy nearly hit BD, scuffing by her too. It made her coat whip back as she moved aside, watching BD skitter away.

"That went well. You alright?" she asked, kneeling down to check BD was okay. Once she was sure that he was, she stood again to face the door. Whatever mechanism in there wasn't going to respond well. Nykori's sudden fatigue concerned her a little bit. Nara had been so enraptured in finding the way ahead and the way through the door that she'd missed the tinge in the air. Maybe that was just her single-mindedness. Maybe she wasn't as sensitive to those emotions in the Force.

I'm going to have to reach out to open this doorway... she decided, feeling a little nervous. It was the only way. There could still be some people left alive. Placing her hand on the stonework again, Nara closed her eyes. Not that it made much difference in near-darkness but hey, rituals were important. She breathed carefully in slow, uniform breaths. She reached out and felt... felt....

Thud. Distant and there. Thud. Something large. The scrape of stone against something. A trickle of scraped dust and rubble on an ancient floor. Teeming insects fleeing from the vibrations. A presence that she couldn't feel, just the change in the air around it...

"There's something down here,"
she said, so very quietly. She wasn't aware she'd said it aloud, just working through her thoughts and what she'd found. She pushed a little harder, reaching out a little more, trying to see what she could sense. More stone. More shifts. An echo of something deep, throbbing through the walls, into the door itself and the strange, gleaming mechanism-

Click.

She felt the door scrape gently at the sides as it parted, opening up with a ghastly screech of rock against rock and a blast of dead, acrid air. Nara stood in front of the murky gloom with a look of horror on her face.

"I didn't mean to do that."



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Korsak Wulpez

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Korsak watched as the trio spread out in different directions, but he focused on the leader who seemed intently interested in the trailing footprints on the floor. He stepped aside as she drew closer, leaning over the scrambling prints as if trying to examine them closer. It was then he felt a flicker in the Force from the Zelton, as if she was reaching out into the world to read the trail of her lost yokels in the Force. So she was Force sensitive, no doubt trained on some level if she was trying to deliberately read the echo of the prints.

A Jedi perhaps? He knew modern Jedi were less restrictive in tactics, associations, and dress codes than the earlier iterations of the Order, so this woman and her companion could well be Jedi. Or they could be Miraluka, or Whils, or any number of other small Light-aligned organizations. Or this one woman could just be a self-taught Force user, like Korsak himself had been before the Eternals came to Tanaab.

A sudden crash and a streak of blue light snapped Korsak back to attention just in time to see the droid diving from a nearby wall as a blast of energy tore through a crack above what appeared to be a doorway. The droid had drawn the attention of some kind of Zeffo security automaton, Korsak had seen an old Imperial report about the lethality of these machines and he was not eager to meet one in combat.

Unfortunately for him, his attention was soon drawn to the human woman and her rising presence in the Force, which centered on the doorway between them and the deadly guardian. Before he could try and stop her, the door gave an audible click and began to slide open, revealing a metallic figure almost three times Korsak's size, marching toward the four intruders through the door. But that wasn't what concerned Korsak the most, it was the realization that the automaton before them couldn't have created the footprints he saw from the other side of that Force-locked door.

"Oh no-" His mental prophecy soon came true, as a light began to emanate from the far hallway the villagers had fled down, revealing another guardian approaching from the rear. "Of course..."


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Nykoria Tallis

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A few moments were exactly what Kori needed to recover from the vision. Relax. Slow, deep breaths. What the Zeltron passed off as the need for air was in fact recoil from the emotions and memories of a villager who had split up from the main group. These imprints echoed in the Force for those who would hear it, seeping through the door even while it was close. Fear... Exertion... Dead end! A steady thud... Thud... Thud... The door sliding shut, sealing the villager and the automaton inside. A dim pale-blue glint. And a scream... One like Kori had only heard once before.

The Zeltron was still leaning against the wall and wiping her face when the curious droid used Nara as a literal "stepping stone" to take a peek what lay behind... And the next moment Kori was thrown on the ground by the shock wave that rocked the said wall. Kori landed on her fours next to Beedee, the glowstick falling between them, illuminating the immediate area around. Still a bit disoriented, Kori saw the droid—who seemed relatively unscathed—beep something and scuttle towards Beldan. A good call, given the circumstances. The Zeltron had had enough of the aura of that place as well. "Yeah, gimme a moment," she replied to anyone who cared, before standing up on her knee, and then slowly regaining her footing.

As she did so, the Zeltron felt Nara's stronger presence in the Force. The younger Jedi Knight had apparently found the way to open the door somehow. The Force! I should've kriffin' guessed. A slightly bruised ego added to the bruises on the head and elbow that Kori had received earlier. Yet apparently, even Nara wasn't perfect. The human Jedi hadn't expected that reaching out would lead to such consequences.

But then, for a moment, Kori saw something briefly... A dim pale-blue glint in the distance. "WATCH OUT!" she yelled to Nara, springing into action. She darted towards the doorway, hoping to grab the younger Jedi by the shoulder and shove her aside, away from possible danger. In the meantime, Kori's other hand reached for her pistol, drawing it from the holster with a trained motion. A single shot echoed through the dungeon and briefly illuminated everything in its wake, before hitting what looked like a metal-clad humanoid, but almost twice as tall.

Thud. Thud... As the steps were getting closer, the Zeltron could swear she could hear the quiet whirring sound... perhaps the power source. However, the steps and the sound were interrupted when Kori's shot hit the glowing area on the chest of "humanoid". As the shot dissipated, the pale-blue glint was extinguished too... Except for a few sparks that never went out. Still, it seemed like the machine had been stopped. Kori exhaled loudly through her mouth, regaining her breath...

But then Beldan's warning made her turn to the hallway and see more of the same pale-blue light, much dimmer and farther though. There was no use trying to hit it with a blaster at this range. Kori stepped aside from the doorway and took aim at the incoming threat. Encouraged by her success, she commented with a hint of sarcasm: "I guess we know what happened to the villagers!"

That's when the power core of the first automaton would begin to whir again. The sparks would light power core with pale blue—flickering, clearly not at full strength, but still enough to bring the old machine back to motion and resume its course...


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BD 9

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The sound of the stone door opening was not what Beedee hoped to hear. He did not really want to see what was on the other side of the door, specifically whatever it was that nearly took his head off.

// Uh oh... // he beeped as what looked like a security automaton approached from the next room.

As the two Jedi confronted the woken guardian, Beedee's sensors picked up another sound coming from the other way. Another automaton, virtually identical from the first, approached them from the other direction.

Without a second thought, Beedee zipped into action. He raced to the guardian's flank, ahead of Beldan, grabbing the guardian's attention in the process. It shot a beam of energy, missing the nimble little droid as Beedee closed the distance to try to duel it with his spark projector. The guardian swung its arms at Beedee, keeping the droid too far away to deal any real damage, but hopefully someone could take advantage of Beedee's efforts.

Dice
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Nara Allam

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Nara narrowed her eyes, seeing the same weird blue-tinge. She leaned forwards, trying to work out what it could be... when Kori yelled. Nara was halfway to turning when she was shoved aside, pushed across the stone floor as she scrambled to keep her footing.

"Hey, what the kr..." she started to say before she saw it. The Guardian. Illuminated in Nykoria's shot for a brief half-second, in all it's imposing, stony glory. Her hands were already fumbling in her coat when the shot hit the blue core, causing the fizz and whimper. It seemed to stop. Nara let out a sigh of relief, turning her attention towards BD and Beldan. Looked like they were having problems of their own...

She turned to help them when she heard that awful groan of stone grinding against stone. The first one came back to life, thudding on the ground of the temple. Nara almost sensed it there, turning towards it. It couldn't be that hard, could it? Kori's shot had already hurt it, it'd only need a couple more-

Her thoughts vanished in instinct as she saw something huge fly towards her. Time seemed to slow to a crawl. The arm of the guardian surged towards her through the dusty, heavy air. She could swear she saw bloodstains on the intricate stone and metal work. That piece that was heading right for her. She couldn't move in time... she knew it. Her body twisted on the spot, hand reaching for something that might be able to help...

On instinct, her fingers grabbed her saber. She pulled it from her belt, igniting it. She slashed it in an arc towards the automaton's arm, bathing the temple in the rich, sapphire-blue. But the stone hit her first. The arm smacked into Nara, right into her stomach and chest, with a bone-cracking crunch. Her saber barely scored a mark in the thick plating on it's arm. Nara was tossed aside, hitting the stone wall on the other side of the chamber, falling to the dusty ground in a crumpled mess. Her saber flung out of her grip, making a deep scratch across the guardian's front, before skittering across the floor.

Nara gasped, coughing as she struggled to pull herself up. Pain lanced through her as she shivered, every breathe making her cough, wet and thick. Trying to focus, trying not to let the panic take her.

Calm calm calm you know this you can stop this just calm Nara, just calm... focus your energy... stop the bleeding... focus... she thought desperately as she tried to summon her healing knowledge to help herself.

Dice roll!

Not a great one, unfortunately. Given that the guardian was described as 'not at full strength' after Kori's shot, I went with Nara getting badly hurt but not totally out. Also exposing herself as a Jedi, or at least, a Force-user with a saber.

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