Artefacts of Old

Episode 44: Masquerade

They left the room by the next stone door, which led into a long corridor. Rebeka peered down, seeing nothing about. They went cautiously down the corridor, keeping an eye out for anymore lose stones that could drop them into traps they came across four more pit traps which Lanyef disarmed the mechanism for, and they followed the corridor to it’s corner and peered round, finding a door at the end of this corridor. They found four more pits to disable and readied there blasters as they opened the door. They entered a room with a pool of the horrid green liquid they’d been seeing bubbling away to itself, a stone platform about a metre above the liquid. On this platform was several stone slabs with words written in basic upon them. There was also another door out of this room, and one on the other side of the pool with apparently no way to reach it. Where the slabs were were four indents shaped similar to the crystal Lanyef had found, and next to them were large shelves where the slabs could slide in, one already seemed to be in place, while on the left were four more slabs already in place, each with writing in basic upon them. From top to bottom, they said ‘Rivers’, ‘Rocks’, ‘Torches’, and ‘Spirits’. The other slabs also had words on. The one stuck in the wall presently on the ‘rivers’ row said ‘Call’, the others strewn on the floor said ‘Run’, ‘Fall’, and ‘Burn’.
“Oh, I can get this!” said Rebeka.
“Rivers Run, Rocks Fall, Torches Burn, Spirits Call.” Said Rak.
Rebeka glowered at him, “Don’t give anyone else a chance will you.”
“I think we need to blow this wall up.” Said Jace, not a fan of puzzles. Rak checked the shelves for triggers or traps, in case the wall riddle was a ruse. Jace helped him, but found nothing save for the triggers there should be. Rak moved the ‘Call’ stone from the wall into spirits, while Rebeka put the rest in the correct order. Then waited, but nothing happened.
Rebeka shrugged and headed for the other door. This led to another corridor that led to two doors, one of which was nearby. Jace opened the nearest and revealed a chamber filled with storage tanks down one wall, as well as more of Vosa’s monsters. Jace blasted one of the Feeorins to pieces as the door opened, killing another two gamorreans as they tried to charge him, Rak moved in and blasted the last Feeorin down. They moved cautiously into the room, Rebeka inspecting the tanks nearby. When she noticed the same horrible liquid oozing down the tanks sides, she thought better of getting any closer. She then searched the bodies quickly and found a blue crystal among the dead. Once they had left, Jace blasted the storage tanks, rupturing them and causing the liquid to escape onto the floor and begin melting the bodies. A sudden clunk behind him made him look round to see a sheepish Rebeka and awkward Rak looking down into a pit they had almost fallen into.
Rebeka went to jump in front of the next stone but Jace stopped her and used his spike launcher to swing over. He tested all the stones around him, activating two more pits that were indeed where they had judged. Rak and Rebeka leapt over first, Rebeka missing but grabbed the edge in time and heaved herself up, shocked that she’d almost fallen. Jace helped her up proper and she thanked him. the others made it across easily and when they opened the door it led to the opposite side of the room with the river. They decided to enter the archway on the opposite side of the room, as it was the last unexplored route. Beyond it was a small room with two doors, and nothing interesting inside. Rebeka moved around the edge of the room to the door opposite, the others following equally cautiously, opening it to reveal what looked to be a study. They searched the books on the shelves and the various equipment scattered around. Rebeka took a bag of unhewn Crystals while Jace read up on the creatures Vosa had created. It seemed they were altered by Sith alchemy, captured by slavers specifically for her experiments. It also made mention between the several pages of ravings and rantings of a ‘Stinky’, that seemed to be a treasured pet.
“She’s clearly insane,” said Jace, “but watch yourselves, there may be more than Feeorins and Gamorreans in this place. Something called Stinky.”
They gave him an odd look.
“Like I said, she’s obviously insane.”
“I gathered her insanity from this lair.” Said Rebeka, looking around.
“Looks like he’s a prototype for some of her more potent alterations, so watch yourself.” Warned Jace as they left and headed for the next door. They found another door and more traps in the corridor beyond, which they disabled easily. The door led to a room that smelled foul, probably due to the amount of creatures they had seen living in it. The creatures inside got up just as Jace threw a grenade in, only one managing to avoid the explosion of metal. Rak moved in and blasted two down as Lanyef also moved in, holding his breath as he killed another one. Rebeka also blasted two dead as the remaining Gamorrean swept in and raked his claws across Jace’s armour. Jace pummeled him in kind, punching him across the heavy jaw several times, then Rak blasted him in the chest. They took stock of there surroundings and realised it was a dead end. It seemed they had no choice but to look for these crystals and hope they did something. Jace searched the corpses, but was only doing it half heartedly, Lanyef and Rebeka searched instead and Lanyef found a clear colourless crystal among the rags and other horribleness in this room.
They saw no other choice but to solve the riddle, but were a crystal short. A quick search of the bodies in the bridge room located the last, a red crystal. And they made there way with ease back to the wall puzzle. Rebeka tried making it green for rivers, white for rocks, red for torches, and blue for spirits, but nothing seemed to happen. She tried another combination, and another. Lanyef tried to help but still the combination was wrong.
“I swear rivers run red is right!” muttered Rebeka impatiently as there combinations continued to fail.
“No look, the torches in here are blue and green, try blue for torches.” Said Lanyef.
“So rivers are green, that leaves red and white for spirits and Rocks.” Said Rebeka.
“The rocks we passed to get here were red.” Said Jace.
“Right!” said Rebeka, putting the last two in. There was a strange sound and steam erupted out of the centre of the pool. The others put there breath masks on, assuming that if it was vapourising it was unlikely to be healthy. The steam continued to expand, creating a route to the door, which opened. Lanyef and Rak noticed that the steam seemed to have hands palm open that made up the entirety of the route.
“well that’s a thing.” Said Rak.
“Huh, what?” said Rebeka.
Rak gestured to the spiritual hands, and even after she saw them she stepped on one. It closed slightly, but supported her weight evenly. She stepped on another and the same happened. She hurried across the bridge of steam and spirits to the door way on proper stone and stopped thankfully on the other side. Her companions followed after her hurriedly, in case the bridge were suddenly to give way. It didn’t and they followed the stone corridor round to a large chamber. The chamber was taken up by a ritual platform more or less surrounded by the liquid they had been seeing in the other rooms. A huge grate covered the central area, allowing the horrible liquid to be seen below it. To the left of one side of the ritual stones encircling the grate was a stone desk that a figure seemed to be using for alchemical purposes. Rak wasted no time, firing a shot in the figures direction. It a hit the pillar nearest her, alerting her to the intruders and she swept her arms across the table, smashing and breaking her apparatus. She spun on them wild eyed and furious and gestured at them.
“You, you can’t all come in here all filthy like that! You need that nasty flesh scrubbed off!” Vosa hissed, pulling her hair, then tearing the grate in the centre of the floor from it’s position and throwing it into the lake of liquid behind her.
“Stinky! Rise out and see to there uncleanliness!” she roared. There was a sound of liquid being splashed and a horrid roar from the now open pit as a large claw grabbed the side of the pit, hissing with acid as a Large Rancor brought itself onto the platform, thorns grew across it’s flesh, one having penetrated one eye as it staggered up to it’s full height and roared at them, but down it’s gullet was not the horrible darkness they expected but the glow of ominous green light and the horrendous smell of vitriol. The insane witch leapt onto the creatures back, her feet smoking from the acid slick skin of the Rancor, which she paid no mind. “Stinky! Cleaning time!” she commanded, the Rancor roared again, frightening Lanyef a little as it heaved, and launched a stream of hideous green glowing vomit that splashed in there direction. They managed to each avoid most of the searing liquid. Lanyef hurried away, blasting at stinky as he went but unable to get through it’s tough hide. Rebeka blasted at Vosa, injuring her with a couple of shots as Jace used a pillar as cover and fired upon her as well. Causing several shots on her exposed position, as well as injuring Stinky too. Rak moved further into the chamber, behind the pillar he’d shot previously and caught her with a single shot. Vosa left her pets shoulders, concealing herself behind it as best she could before whipping her cloaks around her and creating a veil of darkness around the area, Stinky grabbed at Jace, but with the darkness around it the swing grabbed at nothing behind the pillar. Lanyef blasted in the direction of the Rancor, striking it as Rebeka nearly barrelled into Jace, blasting the Rancor too. Jace drew a couple of lightsabers and started cutting his way at the Rancor, chopping thorns off it’s body. Rak blasted wildly into the darkness, in vosas direction and a sudden sharp scream and a shriek followed by a horrid hissing splash suggested she had met her demise. The darkness receded and indeed she was gone, but Stinky continued to attack as Rak continued firing on him. The Rancor tried to grab Jace again as Lanyef fired on it, missing wide as Rebeka darted towards the creature. Getting a glancing strike from the monsters claw as she retaliated with her blaster, the bolts not penetrating it’s hide. Jace continued to swing and slash, injuring the Rancor a few more times as Rak blasted it in the back and having to reload. Stinky used this opportunity to flee, turning and dropping into the acid pit, vanishing into the liquid below. They hurriedly checked the table over and after finding nothing of use they hurried back to the room with the spirit bridge, there task complete, although Rak was doubtful. They reached the bridge and looked cautiously at the pool ahead, but after Rebeka tested the spirit hands once more, the four of them dashed across one after the other, Lanyef unfortunately being the ire of Stinky’s retaliation as he burst from underneath the bridge and tossing Lanyef into the air. And chomping down on the Arkanian as he fell, mauling him slightly as he blasted him in the face. Rebeka blasted Stinky with stun shots, disabling the creature, then switching back to kill mode and blasting it in the chest. Jace capitalised on this, blasting stinky with fire as he remained stunned. Lanyef tried to struggle free as Rebeka rushed up to catch him, continuing to blast away at Stinky. Jace followed after her onto the bridge, hacking at the Rancor with his lightsabers. Rak blasted it with another barrage of shots as Stinky bit down hard on Lanyef as he slid back into the pool, Lanyef just escaping as Rebeka blasted Stinky again and reloaded, while Jace swung continuously in frustration, slashing stinky across the top of his head and ending the creatures life, causing it to fall back into the acid as the three of them hurried back to Rak at the platform. They tended to there injuries and hurried out of the ruins as quickly as possible back to Mother Kiden, Taylen, and Bob.

They returned to the ghost mothers ruins, where they approached Mother Kiden.
“We have done what you said.” Said Rebeka.
“As I have already sensed, I congratulate you on your victory.”
“Are we done here?” said Jace.
“Yes, you may now go. We will not see each other again.”
“Good.” Said Taylen following after them.
“Oh no, Taylen Maverik, we will see each other again.”
Taylen spun on her, Rebeka grabbing him to stop him from doing anything stupid.
“Taylen don’t, they were very good to us.” She said, But Taylen shrugged out of her grip.
“You promised that when this was done it would be over!”
“The feelings you have are a lie, they are not for the person you claim. We will see each other again, at the appropriate time as I have forseen and as I have instructed. But this one is only a shade of that person, nothing more.”
Taylen looked confused.
“Maybe we should just get going.” Said Bob.
“Yeah, before someone says something they regret.” Said Rebeka sternly, but her expression softened when she saw the troubled expression on his face.

They boarded the lost cause and headed back to Meera.
“If it makes you feel any better, we could strafe them on the way out.” Suggested Jace.
“I get the feeling that would cause even more troubles. No I’m done with this planet, and I don’t care what she says, I’ll not go back a third time.”
After that they arrived back at Meera a day later. Taylens mood had improved greatly and even played at Sabacc. When they returned to Meera station they parted ways, Rebeka offering to them to come with them, but Taylen politely refused. Shrada checked over Rebeka on her arrival, the others finally getting around to telling her what had occurred. Shrada explained that she was in decent health, and the pain she was suffering was likely to subside in time.
“It wash a closhe thing.” He said conversationally.
“Close? How close?” said Rebeka.
“By my calculationsh, you had jusht over a week to live. But I’m happy to report you are on the mend.”
“No thanks to you,” muttered Jace.
“I did what I could,” insisted Shrada.
“And I appreciate it.” Said Rebeka, giving Jace a swift glare.
“That remindsh me, when you returned, Mishter Terrn wished to shpeak with you all.”
“He’s wasting no time.” Said Rak.
“He does know what happened?” asked Rebeka.
“He shaid it wash urgent, he ecshpected you’d pull through.” Said Shrada.
“Then I suppose we should go see him.” said Rebeka.

They took the Dawnstar down to the planet, Rebeka had enjoyed her time on the Lost Cause, but the Dawnstar was familiar and made her feel better to be flying again. They landed at the Meera dig site and entered Terrns office, who gave them a brief smile upon seeing them.
“Ah, excellent, I’m pleased to see you’ve managed to pull through Rebeka.”
“Can’t keep me down.”
“How are you feeling?” he inquired.
“I’ve been better, I’ve been worse.” She added.
“Good, because I was planning to take a little trip, and I intend to take you with me as my security.”
“Just me, or all of us?” said Rebeka uncertainly.
“All of you, although officially Jace will be my Security officer, the rest of you will be my honoured guests.”
“Jace would be good security.”
“Yes, that’s the point of taking him rather than anyone else. As you may be aware I have had attempts on my life, and I was fully intending to hide out here in the unknown regions until they decided to give up. However something has come up that I hadn’t expected and am quite looking forward to.”
“What is this something?” asked Rebeka.
“There is a ball I need to attend on the planet of Mindianis, as it turns out a favourite Holovid Star of mine, Miss Yuo Chihiro, will be in attendance.”
Lanyef and Rak seemed surprised by this. Yuo was an incredible celebrity, a lead pantoran actress of the films ‘Paradice’, ‘Spirit Wanderer’, and ‘Hyperspace Blue’. She had also acted on stage, and had featured in such Holonet Series as ‘Cristeel Stingers’, ‘Multiple Heights’, and ‘Mess Perfect’. And had a cameo roll in the popular series ‘Outer Rimmers’.
“Oh, Oh! U’tl likes her!” beamed Rebeka when she heard of the films she was in.
“I…see.” Said Terrn, not too surprised by the excitement being built up about this person. “Getting back to the matter at hand. I plan to attend this party to get her autograph. I was given two tickets to the Mindianis Masquerade ball which she would be attending. It’s being held in the floating city of Rixicalan. I had of course planned not to go, but given the special guest I decided it was worth the risk.”
“This is a tremendous risk.” Said Jace doubtfully.
“That’s why you will be my security officer. There will be republic forces attending the event, however I doubt they could protect me as well as you could given your experience. They have permitted me a security officer to attend the event, provided he remain on the main balcony during the event, and he only bring a respectable amount of weaponry. Rifle or pistols only.”
“Stun weapons?”
“Stun weapons have been approved, as well as stun grenades should you think you’ll need such things. Of course there was a little more difficulty in obtaining Tickets for Rak and Lanyef, however I pulled a few strings and called in a few favours and received two additional tickets. Rebeka will be my Chaperone for the event, so she is accepted as my plus one.”
“You are a gentleman,” said Rak, pleased at the chance to see one of his own idols as well.
“Thank you, I certainly did try to accommodate. The three of you will be attending this high class affair, so you will not be permitted to have your guns on show. I would suggest only taking a pistol, also if it is found it will be confiscated. You will also need to dress appropriately for the venue, Rebeka in your case you will be required to wear a mask, and some sort of dress or other appropriate attire, whatever you feel is most comfortable to move in. The ball is a representation of one of Mindianis’ more adventurous sovereign queen’s love to don a disguise and walk among her people, therefore only women wear a mask at this ball. Jace will have to remain outside, however the ballroom has several windows and a skylight should you need access. I would stress however you keep any destruction of property to a minimum if something is to occur, as I may end up footing the bill for it’s replacement.”
“Well then, if there’s nothing else I suggest we make tracks, the ball is in a few days. I suggest you either buy your attire here, or we have some time you can see what Rixicalan has to offer.”
“I’ll get my outfit there then.” Said Rebeka, barely containing her excitement.
“What’s my official job title?” said Jace.
“My Bodyguard. Anything else? I have no problems with our mode of transport, we can take your ship if you wish or my personal yacht.”
“I suggest for reasons of security that we take the Dawnstar.” Said Jace.
“You seem to be settling into your new role already Mister Jace, very well, the Dawnstar it is.”
“Mister Jace,” Rebeka sniggered to herself, as they returned to the Dawnstar.

Rebeka and Lanyef tidied up there cabin and chose to give it to Terrn for the duration of the journey. They meanwhile shared with Rak. There fascination of this Yuo Chihiro grew to the point that they watched ‘Hyperspace Blue’ one evening. Terrn watched it with them and commented at the end it was thoroughly enjoyable. Much of the rest of the trip he kept to himself. The journey took just over a week, and by that time Rebeka was finally feeling like her old self. They moved through the traffic to the VIP landing zone of Rixicalan. The planet surface looked to have been completely devastated, with low clouds of pollution covering much of the ground. It was clear that Rixicalan and the other floating cities were likely where the privileged lived, rather than survive on the surface. They were at the very top of the city, Rixicalan’s legendary hotel was right next to the Spaceport, and it seemed they and Terrn weren’t the only ones to be checking in for the event. The inside was elaborate and expensive looking, but Terrn simply moved up to check in.
“Ah Mister Terrn, I’m glad you have arrived!” said one of the greeters. “Unfortunately there has been a slight…snag.”
Terrn looked serious. “Oh? And what is that?”
The greeter looked nervous. “Oh nothing’s wrong with your rooms! Both you and Miss June have been catered for, your rooms are both prepared. Unfortunately the Honeymoon suite is not available at this time, we expect it will be in an hour or so.”
Terrn cleared his throat. “er…yes, of course, I expect it to be just so, if you could take the bags when it’s ready that will be fine.”
“Of course sir.” Bowed the greeter, then looked to Rak and Lanyef. “Oh, and Congratulations.” He said, before he dashed off.
“Wait…what?” said Lanyef, as mortified as Rak.

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