The Past Unburied

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Aranador
Posts: 773
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 7:18 pm
Location: Australia

The Past Unburied

Post by Aranador » Tue Aug 23, 2005 6:58 pm

Hyperspace, the strange realm between regular dimensions, wherein mundane rules of relativity do not exist. Science likes to imagine it can describe, predict, control, and understand this subset of the universe, but science does not yet hold all the answers. Or even a fraction of the truth.

Occasionally, interactions between mortals and hyperspace go wrong.

In the velvet darkness of space, a noiseless explosion of lightning winked briefly, then vanished just as suddenly. In the wake of this phenomenon, a life pod snapped into existence, its emergency hyperdive engines having pushed it here, before failing and burning out.

Backup hyperdrive systems are known for their limited capability, and life pods for their limited astro navigation capacity, so it was perhaps not surprising that the pod had traveled hardly any distance at all from where it had started.

Far more unusual – the pod had arrived nearly five thousand years later.


Auzrael awoke thanks to the incessant alarm that was blaring from the navi-computer. She yawned languidly, still trying to separate reality from the vivid dreams that even now were fading from her recollection. She scanned the sensors, noting with some relief that there were no signs of Sith warships in pursuit. It had been a harrowing escape, but the alternatives that her former captors had planned for her had promised to be far worse. Auzrael wondered if any others had made it?

Diagnostics showed that the hyperdrive system was fried, the motivator burned out, and the reverse axis power coupler had polarized. Naturally the pod lacked a spare motivator, but it should be possible to isolate the coupler and invert it using a back flux from the auxiliary fusion plant. Not that the pod had the right tools to do that. Auzrael hoped that there was a space port in system.

The young woman examined the scanners once again, sweeping the system for any signs of intra system activity – but came up empty. She consulted the readouts for the planet below, noting that it had breathable atmosphere and surface temperature that supported water in liquid form. Her heart sank, as the navi-computer ID matched the system. It was Vorrigan – the system she had just tried to hyperspace out from.

She glanced at the sensors again – still no evidence of Sith vessels, but that did not mean that they were not out there – Sith Eluder craft had very effective cloaking systems. Still, if they were there, they wouldn’t bother playing cat and mouse. Perhaps she had traveled far enough to temporarily vanish from their sensors.

But now she faced a problem. With no hyperdrive, she wasn’t leaving the system. She could not stay floating in space for ever either. There was only one place to go, down to Vorrigan. If she could just get down to the surface, there would be a chance she could somehow liberate a Sith vessel, and make her escape attempt anew. The trick was – to get down to the surface without registering on the sensors of the Sith.

Auzrael carefully used the emergency maneuver jets to start the pod drifting towards Vorrigan. The expelled gasses did not contain enough energy to register on any sensor more than a kilometer away. It would be a long drift, but Auzrael didn’t have any other pressing engagements to attend. And in a system that contained a major Sith base, using either the main ion engines or the force was tantamount to lighting a flare and yelling ‘I am over here’ to everyone.

The woman closed here eyes, and dropped into a light meditation trance, designed to mask her presence in the force.

--

Violent rocking jolted Auzrael from her trance. Disquieting dream-like images faded from her mind, their content forgotten. Only the dark foreboding and a sense of nausea remained. Was it a force vision? But there was no time to introspectively ponder things now, as alarms shrilled wildly through out the pod. Auzrael grasped the situation with a shock. The tiny life boat had already hit the upper atmosphere of Vorrigan! What ever the visions were, it had been enough to prevent her from returning to full consciousness in good time before re-entry. And now, the pod was entering the atmosphere too fast and too steep.

The young woman jumped at the pod controls. A fraction of a second hesitation – firing the pod thrusters at full power would give her away – but exploding in flames on re-entry was the worse option. Auzrael jammed the throttle ignition circuit down, and dialed up maximum thrust with one hand, while working the retro engines to spin the small vehicle about. Ion exhaust plumed away into the upper atmosphere, rivaling the burning air that flickered in a corona around the pod. Temperature readouts marched upwards, and alarms continued to chime in, adding their own urgent messages to the cacophony of sound.

Calmly, Auzrael worked the controls with hands and force. There is no passion, there is serenity. While the situation was dire, the fact was she could either succeed in bringing the pod to ground, or she could not. Worrying about it would not help. Even so, with a tug through the force, she shut down the master alarm console – distractions didn’t help either.

Breathing evenly, Auzrael reached out with the force, feeling the howling rush of air boiling past the hull of her life boat. Sensing where temperatures were already building far too high, she nudged the retro thrusters to roll the pod, shifting already too hot parts of the vessel away from the lead point, and letting cooler hull begin taking the heat.

All too soon, the pod reached the surface of the planet. The vessel was still traveling too fast, but Auzrael had succeeded in flattening its decent. Drawing heavily on the force, the young woman felt a violent wave of nausea thunder through her gut, but the intensity of the situation drove her through the sickening feeling, and she called on the strength of the force to add to the strength of her crash restraints. The pod made contact with the surface of Vorrigan, gouging a violent scar across the land.

Finally, the pod was still, small grass fires smoldering around it. Auzrael groggily noticed that she was alive, before being noisily sick, and lapsing into unconsciousness.

--

Auzrael had no idea how much time may have passed – the chrono in the pod was broken – along with most of the other systems. She felt decidedly ill, the smell of burned circuits and her own vomit gave the air a loathsome aroma, and there was a malignancy about the environment that filled her stomach with nausea. Fighting to quell her distress, Auzrael released herself from the crash webbing, and carefully made her way to the emergency pod exit. With a thud, the door release mechanism blew the hatch off the pod, and Auzrael leaned out, coughing smoke from her lungs.

Shortly after, Auzrael stood on the surface of the planet Vorrigan, a major Sith world. She had retrieved what useful supplies she could from the pod’s emergency locker, and changed into a non descript grey survival jumpsuit. The suit emphasized her slim, graceful figure, while the straps of the survival backpack crossed her chest, not that there was a lot there to emphasize. Her long black hair hung freely – it needed a wash and a comb, but such amenities were unavailable. Her eyes, a deep brown colour, surveyed the terrain around her.

The pod had left a burned scar, scorched scraggly grass surrounding that. Rocky badlands, dotted with the occasional sickly shrub, stretched off in all directions. The sky was dark, prolific ugly clouds blotting out the local star, a feeble red sub-giant that put out too much heat and not enough visible spectrum. Somewhere up there would be Vulcus, the planet’s main moon, an ugly black rocky ball that appeared to be some sort of gigantic volcanic expulsion from aeons past. The planet was not a pretty one.

Auzrael frowned. If the Sith had not detected her crash, then she must have come down on the far side of the planet from their enclave. In which case – she was a long way from anywhere. She considered the alternatives, but fundamentally, nowhere on this planet was a good place to be. She glanced up at the sky once more, but the clouds mocked the concept of navigation by starlight. The woman sighed, and then coughed.

But she was alive – and she knew very well that her present situation was a big improvement over what had gone before. All she had to do was improve on things further. Somehow.

Auzrael stood still, and closed her eyes, choosing instead to see through the eyes of the Force. As she opened up her senses, the nausea she felt rose in intensity, and she fought the instinct to gag. The power of the dark side was strong here. Fighting against its tainted touch, Auzrael asked the Force to guide her.

But there was no answer, just the putrid feeling of the dark side, like the decay of a crypt, that threatened to choke her. The woman collapsed to her knees, and a tear rolled away from her eye. A sense of doom and despair rolled over her, threatening to smother her. How easy it would be to simply give up – to embrace death.

No. She would not give up – she would never give up. If the force could not tell her the best path to walk, then instead, she would walk the worst path, and confront what ever horror waited for her. And when she defeated it, her way would again be clear.

Again focusing and fighting the attendant nausea, Auzrael looked on the world through the eyes of the Force. The malign powers of this world swirled, but it was clear that the corruption flowed from that direction. With a gasp, Auzrael let go of the Force, and trembled. The black caress of the Force faded.

With shaky steps, Auzrael began moving towards the source of the darkness.

--

Auzrael looked down into a rocky valley, a jagged gash in the landscape. A dark and bitter river surged through the center of the valley, and misshapen gnarled trees, leafless, dotted the valley floor like twisted claws grasping that the clouded sky. But more frightening than the bleak, dead terrain, were the statues that stood in random positions across the valley. Crafted of blackened stone, they stood like silent sentinels. Here and there, one of the statues lay broken or reduced to rubble. There was no sign of life anywhere. Looking further, Auzrael could also see stone portals built into the sides of the valley. This place was a graveyard, and she knew that what she was looking upon were mausoleums to Sith lords that had passed into the Force. She shuddered, and began her decent into the valley.

As Auzrael made her way down the sloping valley wall, she became aware of sinister eyes upon her. Something – a predator – was watching her. Glancing around, she saw nothing, but this only served to enhance her sense of forebodeing. Reluctantly, fearing the taint of the dark side, she called upon the eyes of the Force, and fighting the sudden nausea, she quickly spotted her hunter.

It was a dark, inky shadow in the Force, using its power to cloud the mind of its would be victim so as to remain unseen. Through the Force, black as it was here, Auzrael could pierce that veil, and now make out the ugly, dog like creature. It was definitely a hound, although it was big, and its flesh seemed to hang from it’s bones roughly. Bereft of its psychological camoflage, the rotten stink of it’s breath, and leprous colour of its hide, made the thing easy to track. Carefully, Auzrael continued to move deeper into the valley, all the while ready for the creature’s imminent attack.

And attack it did – springing with startling speed towards her. The Force warned her of its assault, and Auzrael reflexively twisted and dropped beneath it’s snapping jaws. Rising from her crouch, using the strength of her legs and arms, she drove both fists powerfully into its underbelly as it passed over her, smashing the wind from it’s foul lungs and lifting the beast into an awkward tumble through the air.

The beast crashed into the ground, but immediately came back to all fours, and sprung again. This time Auzrael pivoted and sidestepped it’s lunge, and calling on the Force, struck out with a powerful punch, slamming her seemingly delicate fist into the dog’s flank like a hammer blow. A sharp crack indicated that her strike had broken at least one rib within the beast’s mottley frame.

The injury seemed to do nothing to slow the creature, as it skidded to a landing, and rounded on her again. Changing tactics, the beast advanced more slowly on the girl, snapping its jaws savagely. Auzrael snatched her limbs away from the rotted teeth, and backpedaled away from the onslaught. Drawing on the Force, Auzrael sent a powerful telekinetic blast at the beast, but was nearly caught by its attack when the Force push appeared to pass by the dog with no effect.

“Immune to the Force?” she asked of no one in particular, while she struggled to control her stomach, which was churning after her use of the tainted Force present on this planet. The dog bit at her again, but she had recovered from her earlier surprise, and evaded it’s attack easily. “Try this then” she said to the beast. Once again fighting the rising feeling of sickness, she called on the Force and wrenched a sizable chunk of rock from the ground, then slammed the hefty projectile into the beast.

The animal crumpled under the massive impact, its body shattered. But still, the beast seemed unaware of its grievous injuries, and tried to drag its broken form towards Auzrael, still snapping its rotten teeth at her. With disgust in her heart and sickness in her belly, Auzrael caused the rock to raise above the beast, then released it to smash down on the dog’s skull – silencing it at last.

Auzrael shook violently, and dry retched. While the creature was loathsome, it was drawing on the tainted Force that had taken the greater toll on her. She felt as though she had been poisoned, as though using the Force was akin to imbibing a foul, toxic drug. She wondered what damage she may have done to herself in the process, but reflected that surely being rent by the teeth of that hound would have been far worse damage.

Once again, despair washed over her. Would she die here, in the cursed graveyard of her foe. Defeated not in some great crusade for the good of the galaxy, but by the very Force she called her ally, like a rat that had taken poisoned bait?

No – she would not let herself be defeated like that. If the galaxy wanted her dead, then the galaxy had better be prepared for a fight.

Auzrael found herself standing before one of the silent tombs of a Sith lord. While there was nothing visible to single this one out from any of the others, Auzrael could feel the black tide of the tainted Force spilling out from the foreboding entry.

The structure seemed impossibly old. Scraggly, dead plants had attempted to take root in the worn crevices in its stone construction. The portal to the tomb had been shattered – inwards she noticed – and a solid layer of dust and dirt had entered the cavity beyond. Cautiously, Auzrael entered, picking her way over dislodged and smashed stone blocks, into the space within.

The chamber was bare except for rubble and ruin. It would appear that tomb robbers had plundered this place centuries ago – smashed everything that could be smashed, taken anything that could be taken. Even the walls, which may have once had murals or scripts embossed into them, had been scoured and left as nothing more than ruin.

Auzrael blinked. She could feel the darkness here – the power. There was simply no way the Sith would ignore a place like this, let alone allow it to be looted and destroyed. But it seemed as if this place had been abandoned, and forgotten a long time ago. Auzrael could not even remember a place like this on Vorrigan. Something was not right.

Reluctantly, Auzrael again surrendered her senses to the Force, trying to see past the putrid blackness here and pierce through to the truth. The foul taint in the Force assailed her more strongly than ever, but through force of will, she stood firm in this ethereal torrent, extending her senses.

There was something here. Wading through the dark quagmire of the tainted Force, she pushed against this monolithic emptiness with her will, applying the Force to break through the barrier. Slowly, her will won out, and returning to full consciousness, she could now see that an inky doorway now stood open at the back of the tomb, as if the very rock of the hillside had been pulled aside.

She was also aware of the feel of eyes on her back. Without turning round, she could sense the presence of dozens of malevolent beasts, gathered at the door to the tomb. The lighting had dimmed – some considerable time had passed since she first entered the Force trance, and in that time – a pack of the sinister force hounds had arrived.

But they had not attacked. With deliberate care, Auzrael stepped slowly towards the new portal, away from the beasts. En mass, the creatures also began to move, matching her pace. The moment she crossed the threshold of the dark doorway into the unknown, the assembled pack let out a curdling shrieking howl, which despite all efforts towards self control, made Auzrael practically jump out of her skin. She started running.

Racing through the blackness of this mysterious tunnel into the hillside, Auzrael was unable to think of anything beyond the need to run. Behind her, the pack of fiendish creatures surged into pursuit, jamming their fetid bodies into the passage, obstructing their own progress with the press of their presence.

Without concept of distance or time, there was no way to know how deep the woman fled into the bowels of the planet, but at some point, the darkness of the tunnel was alleviated somewhat by a noxious purple radiance. And a deep rumbling fore told a terrible occurance.

Behind her, the tunnel began to slowly collapse back into solid rock. Auzrael was only dimly aware of this crushing fate, her mind still filled with the need to simply run. The pack however, was less fortunate – further back than the young woman, and constrained by the savage desire to pack so many bodies into so tight a space. A space that was now rapidly becoming tighter. Yelps of fear and frustration sounded from members of the pack. Then with a grinding, crunching finality – the closing stone swallowed them all.

Auzrael burst into a vast underground chamber, lit by blobby glass like mounds that gave off an unfriendly violet radiance. She stopped running, and gasped for breath. The grinding of the closing corridor caused her to turn, and watch with a morbid curiosity as the tunnel shrunk behind her, then disappeared completely – leaving a featureless, and very solid, rock wall where once the only known exit had been.

Things did not seem to be getting better yet.

Aranador
Posts: 773
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 7:18 pm
Location: Australia

Post by Aranador » Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:49 pm

Time. Always in motion, inevitable in its course. What happens when one steps outside its flow? Can the clock ever be wound back? Temporal anomalies have been recorded before, but no one has successfully reproduced a controlled state of temporal flux within this universe. Perhaps only in hyperspace, where so many other physical rules seem suspended, could temporal movement be possible. But it is not possible to truly exist in that strange realm – at least – not yet. How can one control something that itself defies the known rules of the universe?

--

Auzrael awoke from an uncomfortable slumber. Recent events had left her drained, physically and mentally. Here in this strange cave, despite the oppressive feeling of darkness that lingered everywhere, there appeared to be no immediate physical danger. The young woman reluctantly nibbled on some of her survival rations. While the food concentrate bars were never particularly appetizing, here in this place steeped in evil, even this extreme long life food seemed foul and putrid. She struggled the food down, suppressing the urge to gag. Her body would need the nutrition if she was to find her way out. She would also need to find a source of water before long as well. She had puratabs that would sterilize any water she did find, but the trick was to locate some water first.

Shuffling over to one of the misshapen blobs of luminescent resin that was scattered about the cave, Auzrael peered into its translucent bulk, trying to decipher what produced the light. There was something, a shape, within the glassy compound. With growing horror, Auzrael realised that the shape within was the blackened bones of a humanoid curled into a fetal position around some sort of crystal shard. The skeleton seemed to be clutching the crystal protectively. The crystal itself must have been about 2 foot long and maybe 6 inches thick. It was difficult to make out more details about the shard, the translucent glass like resin that entombed it obscuring any real observation. None the less, it was apparent that it was this crystal that was emitting the light.

With a squeal, Auzrael tumbled backwards away from the resin blob. Her heart racing, she stared at the blob – but nothing moved. With timid motions, she crawled back to the blob, looking again into it. All was exactly as it had been before.

Yet she could have sworn that the skeletal remains within the blob had, just moments ago, turned to look at her with dead eye sockets, and reach for her with a bony hand.

Auzrael moved away from the object again, chiding herself for letting her imagination run away with her. The place was getting to her.

As if to mock that train of thought – a weird skittering noise suddenly started up somewhere in the cavern. The sound persisted for several seconds, then stopped, rapidly fading echoes remaining for just a moment longer.

There had to be a way out. The idea of being entombed within this mournful place was not tolerable. If there was some sort of deformed monstrosity in here with her, then she would welcome it as something she could confront and defeat. With the resolve to live bolstering her courage, Auzrael began searching the cavern for some sign of a way out.

Before too long, Auzrael stumbled across a large stone mausoleum. While the general design was similar to the one she had entered back in the valley, the difference here was that the stonework seemed pristine and new. And the heavy door was all too present and firmly sealed.

Auzrael doubted that this was a door to a tubo lift that would carry her out of here, or that this was an exit of any kind, but her curiosity drove her towards the forbidding portal. Traced across its surface were runes and glyphs. Some, she recognised from her period of captivity when the Sith had attempted to impress their foul dogma onto her. Auzrael knew that this door had a lock, and the key was the Force.

The idea of calling on the Force in this sinister place did not appeal to her. Even without using the Force, she could feel the icy stench of the dark side. To open herself up to its tainted power – what dangers was she inviting onto herself? Were those dangers better or worse than dying of dehydration, going mad within this violet lit tomb?

Exhaling carefully, and centering herself, Auzrael stood facing the silent door. Closing her eyes, she opened herself to the Force. At once, she could feel the putrid taint flooding into her, filling her veins with its poison power. Letting this sick Force flow through her, she pressed the force against the stone door, probing for its weakness, its means of entry. With a loud thunk, something within the mechanism was pushed aside, and ponderously, the massive stone sank into the floor – opening the way deeper into the tomb.

At the last instant, Auzrael twisted and sprung to one side. Through the space where she had once stood, a black shape whistled though the fetid air. Sensing, more than seeing, Auzrael detected a sinister presence anchored up on the roof. She waited, tensed, for her unknown assailant’s next attack. It came swiftly, Auzrael folding down to a supline position while the attack, some giant prehensile stinger like thing, flashed just above her. She rolled over to her knees, and came up sprinting for a part of the cave that seemed a little better illuminated, where the cavern roof was higher.

Once in what seemed to be a tactically improved position, Auzrael began scanning the roof for a sign of her opponent. Her vigil was rewarded, as a bulky insectile creature revealed itself. Like a bizarre cross between a centipede and scorpion, the creature had a long segmented body, dozens of segments, each of which had a sharp pincered pair of clawed legs which anchored it to the rocky roof. The first segment however, had a pair of oversized slashing pincers, while the tail segments rapidly grew smaller, tapering, and flexing up over the body of the creature like a striking tail. The final segment ended not in a pair of legs, but in a single barbed venom sack.

As she had hoped, the roof here was too high for the creature to remain attached to it yet still strike at her with its tail. Short relief, and the monster seemed perfectly happy to drop from ceiling to floor, and come at her from the ground – pincers snapping and tail poised to strike.

Auzrael had no weapon with which to fight back at the chitin armoured insect beast before her. Glancing around the room showed nothing which might even remotely be usable. Once again, the Force, even if tainted and sickly, was her only tool. Once again, tasting its poison was still the better course than receiving the poison promise of this insect’s sting.

Calling on the Force, Auzrael felt as if her blood had turned to vile acid, but ignoring the sensation, she directed a telekinetic blow towards the insect. She was not surprised at all when this creature too, appeared to be immune to Force attack. Curse this horrific world and its Sith masters, Auzrael thought.

Unlike the surface, there were no convenient stones of any mass she might use as a more physical weapon. Unless . . . Using the grasp of the Force, Auzrael seized one of the crystal shards buried within the resinous lumps within the room. While she kept enough awareness open to contilnue to dodge her assailant’s snapping claws and striking tail, she bent most of her will towards tearing the crystal free.

It was like trying to pluck an oily marble with a thin pair of chopsticks, as the Force grappled with the crystal, which appeared to resist the effort. But desperation perhaps, lent Auzrael focus and strength, and with a mental heave, dragged the crystal away from the resinous blob, and flung it at the insect.

Auzrael was not at all prepared for the result. The big insect reacted impossibly fast, and twisted, snatching the crystal from the air effortlessly. Immediately, the strange crystal began to pulse and glow with a brilliant violet light, filling the cavern with its actinic, baleful glare. The insect began to shrill and keen in painful wails, all the while curling up around the malevolent shard. Auzrael stared on in dumbfounded shock, as her former assailant turned into victim. Gore began to ooze from the beast, squelching out if its body between the chitin plates of its form. Yet despite what appeared to be an agonizing demise, the creature clung tightly, protectively to the crystal.

And moments later, the doomed insect was nothing more than a disgusting pile of gooey insect innards heaped up in a large blob. Somehow Auzrael knew that, given time, the remains would turn into a translucent resin, and within would be the exoskeleton of the monster, still clutched protectively around the killer shard.

Auzrael felt sick, and this time it was not the presence of the tainted Force that did it. Morbid curiosity forced her to look at the remains that she had pulled the shard from. The resin seemed to be melting from it, and the ancient skeleton sagged and settled into a forlorn pile of bones.

The secrets of the Sith were dark indeed. Auzrael reflected that what ever other horrors were buried down here, they would really be better left undisturbed. But Auzrael was not about to lay down and die to protect these vile mysteries. She wanted to escape, to survive, to live. With grim resolve, Auzrael moved out of the cavern, entering the dread portal.

Aranador
Posts: 773
Joined: Mon Mar 31, 2003 7:18 pm
Location: Australia

Post by Aranador » Sun Sep 04, 2005 8:07 pm

Auzrael found herself in a new chamber, with walls of worked stone. The light here was very dim, and as if on cue, the stone entry way slowly ground closed yet again. Auzrael watched the rectangle of purple light from the previous cavern shrink away, but made no move. She had no desire to return to that place full of vile crystals and their victims. With a deep thud, the entryway closed, and Auzrael found herself in pitch blackness.

She waited patiently for a few minutes, but finally realised that, no matter how adjusted her eyes might become to darkness, there simply was no light at all down here. Utter darkness – complete silence save her own breathing.

Carefully, Auzrael sat down, assuming a meditation pose. She didn’t draw on the Force right away, its tainted nature here made her unwilling to do so unless mandatory. But in the end, Auzrael couldn’t think of an alternative. She had no way to see, except through the eyes of the Force. She opened herself to the corrupted Force, letting its foul embrace flow through her, invade her body. Auzrael opened her eyes, and where as before, all she saw was uniform darkness, now she could see – blackness. Black in all manner of shades and variations. Edges and corners plucked out in ethereal relief.

She was in a small antechamber, the now firmly shut entry to one side, a stone archway on the other, with a passage way leading further into the tomb. The room itself had 4 indistinct statues of robed figures, each holding a large urn in front of them. Auzrael neither knew nor wanted to know what those urns may hold, or the significance of the statues.

There was only one path to take, so Auzrael took it.

The passageway continued only a short distance, before it opened out onto a balcony. The balcony overlooked a vast space. Like a pyramid shaped void that had been dug out of the rock of the planet, with the balcony far up on one of the sloping triangular sides. The drop from the balcony was near to 100 metres, while the apex of the pyramid space was maybe 10 meters above.

Using the power of her Force sight, Auzrael scanned for some means of descent, but found none. With a resigned sigh, the young woman turned instead to scan the walls of the chamber, and found to her satisfaction that they were jagged and rough, as if carved out in great haste. Perhaps, at another time, Auzrael would have enjoyed the challenge of a hundred meter inverted face rock climb, but not this time. It was simply one more obstacle to defeat if she was going to survive.

She would survive.

Gladly, the tired woman dropped the last few meters of the descent. Her fingers and toes were raw, and her muscles ached from the strain of the descent. Her head throbbed from the concentration needed to maintain her Force sight. Her body was wracked with the vile touch of the dark side. The rough walls had suddenly become smooth as glass for the last few meters, not a single hold to climb on. Getting back up would prove quite difficult, but Auzrael reflected that at no point had going back ever been easy or even possible. This tomb was designed it seemed, only to let the foolish and the lost enter, not exit.

Four exits, one in each side of the space, radiated from the chamber. The center of the chamber was dominated by a featureless dais. With nothing to guide her sense of direction, Auzrael simply headed to the nearest of the four exits.

Only a short passage ensued, before Auzrael found herself in a small room. Within was a raised stone block, atop of which was a pyramid shaped block of crystal. Auzrael stood staring at the item for a while, trying to imagine its purpose. Remembering the wicked purple crystals from earlier, she kept a wary distance from this one, but this crystal did seem to be something different. Carefully, ready to call on the Force tainted or not, Auzrael briefly toughed the crystal. When nothing bad happened, the young woman relaxed slightly, and attempted to pick up the object. Its sides proved intractable, and Auzrael failed to budge the stone. Trying a different approach, she tried to push or slide the pyramid, but it did not budge.

The Force would be the key, she realised. Placing her hands on the crystal, she let the Force flow through her into the stone. She could feel the result immediately. The crystal was a Force focus – a very rare item that could amplify the flows of the Force. But this crystal seemed – limited. It had been constructed, Auzrael realised, for a specific role, and would only be of use in that role. Opening her senses to the Force, she could sense that the crystal was directing the flow of power into the central chamber. It’s purpose became clear. The crystal was designed to amplify telekinetic Force to lift something in that central area.

Auzrael smiled to herself, whispering “OK then” to herself almost unconsciously. The sound of her own voice, cracked and dry, startled her with its silence breaking croak. She needed water. But right now, the next step in her puzzle awaited her. Auzrael channeled her telekinetic strength through the crystal, and she could sense the power lifting – something – in the main chamber. Except – it wasn’t. Her efforts were only lifting a part of what ever it was, and the uneven effort was failing to successfully raise the thing.

Auzrael relaxed, letting the power flow stop. After a brief moment of introspection, she quickly moved off to verify that all four passages led away to similar crystals. Could she – alone – activate all four?

She would – or she would not – that was the way of the Force.

Auzrael sat down in the center of the main chamber, and meditated. She would need rest and a clear head to attempt this, so now was the time to use some of her relaxation and meditation training to refresh herself. There was no sense of time passing here, no way to judge if she rested for mere moments, or perhaps days. But she was ready.

First she extended her senses along each passage, until she could perceive all four crystals in her mind. Then gradually, she began applying the power of the Force to each crystal. At first, nothing, but slowly, she became aware of a vibration below her, as the channeled power of the Force began pulling at the rock. Auzrael’s breathing became laboured, her chest pumping air in and out of her lungs. Her heart raced to carry oxygen to her body and mind. Still the room remained unchanged. Auzrael could feel the inky stain of the dark tainted force flowing through her like a malevolent torrent of power. And then suddenly, with a piercing shriek from her own lungs, the pain and fatigue were utterly gone. With fantastic ease, Auzrael willed the Force to raise the great stone plug she was sitting on, and raise it did. Auzrael stood gracefully, then rose another half a meter into the air, then floated across the top of the mammoth stone plug. It was a massive cylinder of granite, into which a single entry had been bored. Auzrael noted that this new entry sloped downwards.

“Of course it goes down” she said, her voice sounding strong and authoritative. She floated down the new passage, noting that there seemed to be light where ever it was going. Violet, sinister light.

Auzrael stepped into yet another chamber. This one was a vast hallway. Lining each side of the passage were statues of robed figures, each holding a gleaming violet crystal shard like she had seen before. Auzrael could practically sense their hunger for her living flesh. She shivered, and hurried down the corridor.

The other end opened into a large round antechamber. Several passageways exited from the area. More vicious violet crystals around the room provided their sickly illumination. The remaining spaces on the walls were filled with niches, and within the niches – sarcophagi. Auzrael had reached the main burial chambers. Above each passage were inscriptions that bore the names and deeds of what Auzrael presumed were major sith lords, undoubtably their final resting places were in chambers beyond the passageways.

Auzrael stared confusedly at some of the inscriptions. Darth Umbral – He was nothing but a minor flunky, yet here he was? And the timeline listed. The dates hadn’t happened yet – had they?

Auzrael knew she hadn’t been in this accursed tomb that long.

Her train of thought was broken by sounds, coming from one of the passageways. Immediately Auzrael thought about that creepy black bug she had encountered before. At least there were plenty of life stealing crystals handy, although she shuddered as she had that thought.

Auzrael, resolving to face what ever it was head on – walked into the passageway.

Aranador
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Post by Aranador » Mon Sep 05, 2005 5:10 pm

Sometimes – the reason a place is hard to enter is not because it was designed to keep people out, but rather to keep them in . . .


Auzrael stared in shock at the – thing – before her. Just moments before, she had walked boldly into this burial sanctum, confident she could face the worst the crypt could offer.

Now she stood opposite a living corpse, clad in the regalia of a high sith lord, and clutching an ignited lightsabre in its rotting hand. The vacant eye sockets stared on at her, with a gaze all the more menacing for the lack of eyes.

The horrid thing spoke. “Little lamb, you have opened the door for me. Now I once again take my rightful place as master of the Sith!”

It was a moment of clarity for Auzrael, the various impediments to her entry were the locks on a prison. Apparently when a Sith lord is laid to rest, the remaining Sith take great effort to ensure the deceased remain resting, peacefully or not. Had she opened a door? That stone plug from the pyramid room!

“Doors that are open, can yet be shut” Auzrael said defiantly, and bending the Force to her will, made effort to push the massive granite portal back into place. Yet – the strength she had felt flooding though her, failed to respond to her desire. Again she focused on the task, but with horror, she suddenly realised that this awesome flow of power was not directed by her at all, rather it simply used her as a pathway. The real source came from the sinister being that stood mocking her, its rotted face seemingly locked in a forever sneering grin.

“Girl” it began, “I only needed you to see the key. Did you really think you had such power?” It laughed with a dry, cruel guffaw that was almost a physical slap to the young woman.

Auzrael stared defiantly at the fiend, fighting against her revulsion at feeling its hideous darkside power flooding through her. Try as she might though, she could not block that flow – it was like trying to use a twig to dam a river. “There are more doors that bar your way yet fiend, and they remain fast against you yet.” Auzrael taunted the dead sith lord.

“I shall smash aside these barriers” cackled the cadaver, stepping towards the woman.

“I think not” Auzrael retorted. “Each barrier was designed to be opened only from the outside, even your power can only succeed through one already on the side of freedom. And there is no one else coming here.”

The rotted zombie shuffled closer, while Auzrael edged further away. “Wrong. I shall use the power of your life force. Now that you are here, I have what I need to open the way.” With that, the creature lurched forward, grasping with a bony hand at Auzrael, who twisted away. The creature was faster than it’s form would suggest, and the tips of its ragged nails caught her sleeve, ripping away some of the material.

“The smell of the living” giggled the dead lord. “Your life is strong, its taste so full. Give it to me!” With that, the thing swung its light sabre in her direction, although Auzrael could tell it was never intended to be a killer stroke. None the less, she was forced to leap backwards or risk a serious injury. She had a slight advantage for the moment, in that the thing seemed to want her alive – more or less. She had seen sith fight with those light sabres before – deadly weapons. Her own Force training did not make use of the weapons, although she was aware of other traditions that used them extensively. No doubt though, right now a weapon would be handy.

And with that thought, Auzrael gathered the Force, braving it’s tainted power, and sprang over the hideous enemy, then dashed down the passage. If that thing had a light sabre, then there was a good chance that other tombs had a light sabre stashed away as well.

Of course, they may also have self resurrecting force wielding maniacs – Sith tombs were certainly lively places.

She charged into another of the burial chambers, and narrowly avoided plowing into one of those lethal crystal shards. Giving it’s malevolent presence a wide berth, Auzrael scanned the chamber, muttering “What is it with Sith and life stealing anyway.” Not that anyone would answer that.

Auzrael was taken aback when she realised that this tomb had been robbed. The main casket had been ripped open, and the rotted remains thoroughly disturbed. There was a light sabre there, but the past tense was oh so apt. What remained was a bunch of pieces.

“I had to scavenge a few parts to rebuild my sabre” came a crackling voice. Auzrael turned to the entry to see the dead sith lord standing there, like some grim specter, its crimson weapon a high tech scythe ready to harvest her soul. “I have drank deeply of their strength, their power is now my power. I am the master of dark side power that has been in existence for generations. All will bow to the ultimate Lord of the Sith!”

The creature seemed more interested in offering it’s monologue than in monitoring Auzrael’s actions. If there were no jedi weapons for her to use in her fight, then she would use other weapons. Calling on the Force yet again, Auzrael telekinetically snatched up one of the violet crystals, and hurled it at the dark being.

With unexpected speed, the rotting sith master caught the shard in it’s free hand. Auzrael could feel its mastery of the Force amplifying its grip. But the crystal failed to have any adverse affect.

The dead lord simply turned its attention back to Auzrael. With a triumphant howl, the monstrosity said “This vessel is long since empty, but once I have filled it, the power to be free of this prison will be mine!”

Auzrael knew instantly what he intended to ‘fill’ the crystal with, but even so she barely reacted in time as the dark being flung the vicious gem towards her. The crystal raced past inches away, but the assault was far from over. Dark energies coalesced into a telekinetic hammer blow that slammed into the girl, knocking the air from her lungs and slamming her against the wall. Auzrael ducked away from a lunging stab from the thing’s light sabre, and rose again driving her shoulder into the pit of the dead sith master’s arm. The Force, sick as it was here, lent strength to her counter move, and Auzrael’s opponent was lifted off it’s rotted feet. The cadaver flew through the air, but the power of the Force gave the monstrosity wings, and it flipped acrobatically then landed gracefully at the far side of the room.

Auzrael dodged another swooping attack from the insidious crystal, but before she could do anything else, hissing bolts of malevolent electricity arched out from the sith master’s skeletal hand and stabbed viciously at her body. Auzrael screamed in pain, but she had been attacked by Force lightning before, and quickly drew upon the Force to shield her. The result was not exactly what Auzrael had hoped. The twisted dark side Force of this tomb would not easilly lend itself to defence. Auzrael gagged at the smell of burned flesh – her flesh – as the next lightning storm struck home. The blackened Force blocked her sense of pain, but not the full suffering her body was now being asked to endure.

Diving behind the room’s stone sarcophagus provided effective shelter from the dark side attack. It was a short lived respite, as the evil assailant hurdled the sepulcher and slashed wickedly at her. Auzrael managed to roll away from the wicked crimson blade just in time, and sprang nimbly to her feet. The crystal swooped at her again, but Auzrael was able to telekinetically deflect it just in time.

The sith lord laughed with a dead laugh. “Such spirit, your life will taste exquisite.” With that, the monster sent the lethal violet shard flying towards her again. Auzrael repeated her earlier deflection, but immediately the crystal returned, battering against her defences. The corpse mocked her “You will tire, you will die.”

Auzrael had no doubt that she would tire before mister walking corpse would, so she resolved to make sure that things were ended before she got tired. Auzrael wasn’t quite sure how yet. Again the crystal was flung at her, and again, she used the Force to block it’s strike. An idea formed, and Auzrael dodged the next attack, placing her back to the wall of the chamber. The violet gem adjusted it’s aim, and again hurled at her, but this time, Auzrael used the Force to pull the crystal ever more firmly towards her. At the last instant, Auzrael twisted aside, and both her power and that of the sith lord drove the crystal into the wall. The gem shattered into fragments.

“Sorry,” Auzrael quipped, “Looks like your toy got broken.”

The dead being looked at her impassively. “There are other focus stones child. But you are a fool to dismiss this stone just yet!”

Auzrael sensed the impending danger, and desperately tried to dodge the attack, while calling on the Force to deflect it. Dozens of pieces of the life draining gem slashed through the air, and to Auzrael’s horror, several slivers pierced her arm. Immediately, she lost the feeling in her arm, then a growing sensation built up there. She could feel a pull, the suction of the crystal fragments, all trying to pull her life into themselves. Reflexively she grabbed her wounded arm with her other arm, and immediately she started to loose the feeling in that hand as well.

“No!” She roared in terror.

The dead sith lord laughed evily. “Do not dispair, your life will become part of mine. I am not ungrateful.” With that, another intact crystal sailed telekinetically into the room and into the things hand. “I can give you a much faster end.”

Auzrael struggled to clear her mind, to regain control of herself. Her instinct was to curl up into a feotal ball – to welcome the end. But she would not give up. With supreme effort, Auzrael dragged her other arm away from the one that had been pierced with crystal slivers. She averted her eyes from the injured arm, not daring to look at the injuries where already her flesh was writhing and enveloping the lethal fragments.

Her gaze fixed on the grinning corpse before her. It seemed to have no problems holding onto the life sucking gemstone. It may look like a corpse, but somehow it was alive. Auzrael gritted her teeth against the sensations in her arm and body, and looked with the eyes of the Force at her enemy.

There was life there. Twisted, sinister, evil. That the body had rotted was immaterial, the being existed through strength of will, and the Force. And through the Force, the being held back the ravenous nature of the gem it held. Auzrael smiled grimly, and in turn, called on the Force to protect her from the crystal slivers that were trying to devour her life.

Her efforts only seemed to accelerate the process.

The dead sith lord laughed again. “Foolish girl. The secrets to master the life foci can not be guessed at. It would take you many years to learn the arts. And many years is something you don’t have.”

Auzrael fell to her knees, but resisted the urge to collapse totally. The sith master was right – the way to control these crystals was a secret it possessed, and it alone. She looked up at it with terror on her face, and it grinned in return, offering her the larger crystal. If she would just take it of her own will, her end would be swift.

Insight struck. Auzrael could still feel the dark lord’s power coursing through her, to hold the entry stone to the pyramid open. If it was directing its power through her in that manner – was it possible for her to make use of the link in reverse?

Auzrael went from her knees, to a meditation pose, and began to focus on the Force. The dead lord laughed at her, deriding her efforts as useless, but she ignored the jibes. Yes – she could feel the shape of the Force flowing through her, recognise it as the use of telekinesis. And there – another shape within the Force. Twisted, evil, repellent – a perfect partner for the tainted Force of this tomb. Auzrael hesitated just a moment, but there was either do, or do not. And to do nothing was to invite death. Auzrael duplicated the Force power.

Immediately, Auzrael could feel not only the malignant efforts of the crystals cease, but actually reverse – the power already stolen flooding back into her like a warm wave of refreshing simcafe. Auzrael stood, and stared defiantly at the sith.

The corpse stared at her for a moment, attempting to comprehend how Auzrael had succeeded. Then it flung the violet gem it held at her. Auzrael caught the crystal, and briefly struggled with its much greater power. But the power of the dead lord still flowed through her, and holding the crystal gave her the focus she needed to tap that power, and thus protect her own life energy. She set the crystal down on the floor, and said to the dead lord “Not today, I think.”

With spitless fury, the sith lord shouted at her. “How DARE you use my own powers like that.” Instantly, Auzrael felt the Force flow from the sith cease, its sickening absence a relief Auzrael didn’t realise was possible, so persistent had been the flow before. Auzrael anticipated what would happen next, as the dormant shard near her was suddenly hurled towards her again. But she was ready, and again caught the crystal. Even without the sith lord’s power, she could control the gem – it was simply a matter of fine balance and precision. But it was not easy – as if her life force was constantly shifting between the gem and her own body – leaving her with only a portion of her energy at any given time.

A massive booming crash shook the crypt. The granite entryway, bereft of lifting power, had fallen back into place. Auzrael turned to the dark lord. “Oops – you forgot something.”

The dead sith stared at her, hatred etched across it’s rotted features. That the woman now calmly held the life focus crystal in her hands further incenced the fiend. It lunged at her, slashing with it’s light sabre.

Auzrael reacted just a bit too slow, the effort of holding the crystal dulling her abilities. The crimson blade slashed through her formerly uninjured arm, severing it through the bicep. Auzrael dropped the crystal, whick skittered away across the stone floor, and she staggered away from the dead lord. The woman collapsed against the sarcophagus, and clutched the stump of her left arm. Only the Force, sick as it was, prevented her from going into shock, kept her from unconsciousness.

“You have taken some of my secrets, maggot.” The sith lord launched into a tirade. “But I can collect your life energy from your dying body if I must.” With one hand, the dead master gathered up the life focus crystal, while pointing the crimson light saber at Auzrael with the other. “Your death is inevitable, but you may choose the suffering you must face before it.”

Auzrael looked with fury at the walking dead thing. But her concentration on controlling the crystal slivers in her remaining arm slipped, and for a brief moment, she nearly lost all focus. Regaining her composure, Auzrael felt stolen power once again flooding back into her right arm, and in an almost childish fit, grabbed something to throw defiantly at the sith lord.

Auzrael gaped in shock, as she realised she had just hurled the stone cover of the sith sarcophagus at her enemy, an object that must way more than half a ton. Her opponent had been equally taken by surprise, as the hefty object slammed into it, pinning the corpse under the crushing weight. It was a very short lived victory, as the dead sith used both light sabre and Force to cast the stone slab aside.

The sith lord’s corpulant body had been broken and battered, but the power of the dark side sustained the evil life within. The fiend’s movements were definitely hindered. “I regret dismembering you – but I am sure I can make use of your body to repair mine.” It said.

Auzrael ran out of the chamber.

Aranador
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Post by Aranador » Mon Sep 12, 2005 7:59 pm

Nowhere to run – nowhere to hide – no escape. The dark Force flowed all around her, the violent purple crystals glimmered balefully from their sockets in the walls. And somewhere was a furious sith lord inhabiting a long dead and slightly broken body, that was intent on not just murdering her, but robbing her life force to fuel its own powers, and possibly scavenging her body parts to rebuild its own form.

Add to that, the fiend had already severed her left arm, while her right arm and shoulder was full of potentially life threatening gem shards that required constant concentration just to hold at bay. Her body was filled with fatigue poisons from both exertion and the constant battle to control the tainted Force that filled the crypt. She was hungry, thirsty, and tired.

Oh yes, things were developing splendidly, Auzrael thought to her self.

Auzrael stumbled into another sepulcher chamber. It took her a moment to realise that this tomb, unlike the others, had been left undisturbed. The self-resurrected sith lord had claimed that he had looted the other tombs for light sabre parts and to rob the graves of their power. But apparently, not this one?

Auzrael hesitated a moment – what if this dead lord happened to be as lively as the other one? Well – maybe the two of them would fight over who got to devour her life energies and destroy each other. It didn’t matter, if she didn’t do something, the shambling dead fiend would eventually kill her – it didn’t get tired after all.

The young woman heaved at the stone coffin lid with her remaining arm, but the slab did not move. Auzrael frowned a moment, then looked at her arm. It was covered in angry red blotches, as well as burns from the Force lightning attacks she had been assailed with earlier. Briefly, she lowered her concentration that was holding the power of the life draining shards imbedded in her flesh at bay. Immediately, she could feel the sickening drain of the crystals pulling her essence away. She reasserted control, and the stolen life force came flooding back into her arm all at once. Riding the surge of power, Auzrael heaved again at the stone lid, this time lifting the slab with seemingly little effort.

Within was a mummified corpse. Auzrael stared at it, daring it to suddenly awaken.

“You dare defile the tomb of Darth Terminus?” Boomed a horrid voice.

Auzrael jumped involuntarily away from the sarcophagus, but quickly realised that the voice had come from down the entry passage, not from the dead thing interred here. She could see the crimson light of her enemy’s light sabre – the fiend had her cornered, and was closing in.

Auzrael half whispered “How come you get to defile stuff but it is not OK for me to do it, anyway. Might as well get on with it then.” The woman leaned back over the open coffin, looking for a weapon.

And a weapon was indeed waiting. Resting atop the mummy was a wicked looking sword. Auzrael was almost disappointed, but stopped herself from dismissing the weapon as useless. Some sith lords made a habit of using a more physical weapon than a light sabre. Invariably, such weapons were exceptionally well crafted, and usually included a cortosis weave, making them able to withstand the strike of a light sabre.

Auzrael reached down to take the weapon, but hesitated. Invariably, such weapons were also heavily steeped in the dark side through the actions of their masters. Auzrael was no stranger to that technique – her own Force tradition taught the secrets of investing a melee weapon with some of the power of the Force. But did she dare try and master the weapon of a sith lord?

Her pursuer appeared at the entry to the chamber, and the dead being shrieked at her. “Get away from there!” it bellowed, reinforcing its command with a blast of Force lightning that crashed into Auzrael – knocking her away from the coffin.

Auzrael came to her feet, and was forced to immediately dive away again as more lightning was hurled her way. The sick smell of burned flesh added itself to the musty aroma of the room. The dead lord, still crippled from her earlier effort, still moved surprisingly quick, lunging across the intervening space, swinging its crimson light sabre at her. Auzrael again narrowly avoided the attack, and called on the Force to lend speed to her movements. But the menacing sith lord was equally swift it seemed, keeping itself between Auzrael and the chamber exit.

Auzrael half snarled at the thing that threatened her existence, then feinted one direction before reversing and diving towards the stone lid she had so recently dislodged. Again unlocking the siphoning power of the crystals imbedded in her arm just long enough to gather life power, she reversed the process to give her the burst of physical strength she needed. Combining that with a flow of the dark Force around her, she catapulted the massive stone slab at her attacker.

But this was a trick she had already used. Using its own command of the Force and its crimson sabre, the creature smashed the slab into chunks, which smashed ineffectually against wall and floor either side of the dead sith.

Auzrael was not finished however – using the Force, she caught up the stone fragments into a whirling storm of rock. The monster was caught in a mini cyclone, and briefly, all it could do was defend itself against the grinding chunks of masonry that threatened to pulp it’s already battered body.

Auzrael half ran half fell against the open sarcophagus, the effort of maintaining the Force whirlwind as well as protect herself from the shards in her arm was taking its toll. With no further hesitation, she reached in to the coffin, and grasped the waiting sith sword.

Immediately, Auzrael felt the dark power of the weapon surge, trying to destroy her. The powerful assault practically blew her off her feet, but she managed to retain her balance. None the less, her concentration was disrupted utterly as she struggled to defend against this unexpectedly powerful assault.

Her Force storm faded instantly, forlon lumps of stone falling from the air. The embattled sith lord quickly recovered, and stared at the woman. “You fool, release the sword – your life must be mine!”

Through gritted teeth, Auzrael spat “Like that’s a much better offer.”

But a curious effect was occurring between the dark sword, the life robbing crystals embedded in her remaining arm, and her own flesh. The devastating dark side energy of the sword was surging into her limb, seeking to utterly destroy her, yet the crystal fragments seemed eager to drink up the energies, taking the destructive power into themselves. The flow from the sword seemed to be somewhat more than the crystals could handle, but the remaining power was sufficiently reduced that Auzrael could hold the energy at bay. It was a precarious balance.

Cautiously, deftly, Auzrael re-established her concentration over the slivers of crystal in her arm, and was immediately filled with a flood of power. The crystals had transformed the dark tide of the sword into usable power, and this energy flooded into her, refreshing and energizing her.

So enthralled by this process she was, that she was utterly unprepared for the tide of Force lightning that the dead sith hurled at her. Her whole body flexed in spasm, and she could feel herself being burned as energy tendrils marched across her skin.

Quickly, using the power flooding into her, Auzrael erected a defence against the lightning, the strength given to her through the symbiotic reaction between sword and crystal allowing her to ground out the Force lightning assault. Still – the damage to her body already caused would prove a lot more difficult to undo – not that now was the time to worry about that.

The dead sith threw itself at her, swinging its sabre. Auzrael caught the glowing blade on the sith sword she held, and brilliant sparks exploded from the contact. The two duelists backed off, assessing each other.

Auzrael was gratified to notice that her weapon appeared unscathed by the impact. She had weapon training, and knew how to use a sword, but it was not something that was as central to her tradition as it was to a sith or jedi knight. Still – backed up by the outrageous power being pumped into her, she felt as if she could combat legions of enemies.

Who knows what went through the dead mind of her enemy, but the rotted lord threw itself at her again, Force lightning and sabre flailing at her, attempting to overwhelm her defence.

And suddenly, the melee was over. The thing stood in front of her, impaled through the chest on her sword. At some point during the melee, the thing’s sabre had shorted out – possibly overloaded when confronted with her own cortosis blade. And then she had delivered a fatal wound. How does one kill a corpse? Apparently by using a sith blade designed to destroy the life force of its victim. Auzrael could practically see the battle between the dark blade and the will of the sith.

The dead lord exploded in an ethereal blast of dark energy, which howled and echoed around the crypt. It was an insidious power, that seemed to claw at the stones, and the sword, and at Auzrael, as if seeking some new body to possess, some way to cling to life. Or failing that, to destroy everything.

Auzrael steeled herself against this assault, feeling as if icy fingers were attempting to tear the flesh from her bones. The pain grew, the destructive energy attacking everything. Auzrael let out a pained cry, desperately calling on every last reserve of the Force she could, tainted or not, to try and survive this last revenge of the defeated lord.

Everything went dark.

Aranador
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Post by Aranador » Thu Sep 22, 2005 9:44 pm

Auzrael groaned, the sound echoing through the stone tomb. For a moment, she froze in panic, but quickly regained her composure. She had fallen unconscious, yet she lived. The insidious gem fragments in her remaining arm had not drained away her life. It was dark – utterly black. But Auzrael could sense that the atmosphere down here had changed. And also the ravenous gem shards appeared to have changed. Gone dormant somehow. It was as if the titanic dark side energies that had recently filled this place had altered everything – corrupted everything.

Perhaps it was a blessing that Auzrael couldn’t see anything.

Those violet crystals – their light – it was gone – perhaps they too had suffered what ever change had occurred down here. Auzrael wondered what changes may have happened to her.

Her hand brushed against something cold and hard. Immediately on making that contact, a shock of power raced through her. Reflexively she jerked away from the touch. It was – the sword. She groped again in the darkness, and took the sword firmly in hand. The synergistic reaction between the weapon and the stones in her arm again flared into being, but this too felt different – subdued.

The power of the dark side – here, surrounded by several potent sources – yet in the end, those powers had turned on each other, destroyed themselves. Auzrael nodded grimly in the blackness – darkness turns on itself. It was a teaching in her force tradition, about why evil could never ultimately triumph.

Unfortunately, Auzrael was still stuck in a sith tomb on a sith world, with no apparent means of escape. Once again, the young woman called on the Force to provide her with sight in this lightless place.

The taint of the dark side still smothered the Force here, and Auzrael again felt the rising nausea that its sickened flow brought. But it was endure the torment, or be blinded and lost. Once again, Auzrael found herself looking at the world through shades of black.

At first – it seemed there was nothing to see, but Auzrael spotted something she had missed when viewed with ordinary eyes and violet light. The sarcophagus was outlined in a seam – the massive coffin itself a lid to some deeper compartment. Of course it would be deeper, thought Auzrael. Perhaps eventually her path would lead her to freedom by traveling right through this cursed planet. If that’s what it takes, then so be it.

Auzrael was confronted with a new problem. With the shattered crystal fragments buried in her arm now strangely dormant – her trick of temporarily storing her own life force for a burst of strength no longer worked. Indeed – the ache in her arm was no longer that of the struggle between life and oblivion, rather the simple one of an arm injured severely with splinters of rock lodged deep within the flesh and bone.

It hurt – a lot.

Auzrael called on the Force to help master the pain, although like always, the taint of the dark side perverted her will, a cure as bad as the cause. The woman sighed, then reached into the open coffin and plucked out the scabbard there. With care, she buckled the sheath around her waist, and then put the sword therein.

Having only one arm was a pain – worse because the absent limb still felt like it was there, just paralysed in terrible pain.

Once again – her best, and only tool was the Force. Auzrael sat in a meditative pose, and focused her concentration, opening herself to the acrid flow of the tainted Force. With deliberate purpose, she focused the Force against the huge stone obstacle, and slowly, the sarcophagus began to rise.

Perhaps moments passed – perhaps days. Size doesn’t matter to the Force, but the effort of directing that much power, especially power that reeked of darkness, certainly mattered to the body. Exhausted, but triumphant, Auzrael looked at the sullen opening that now lay revealed where once the stone coffin had rested. Foul air rose from the opening – but what else was new around here. A set of steep steps led down into the hidden area. No turning back – after all, there was no actual way to go back. Auzrael descended.

The stairs led to yet another crypt. Every fiber of Auzrael’s being cried out in alarm, there was most certainly something here that was dangerous. Peering with Force vision into the blackness however, revealed nothing.

The walls of the crypt were lined with cavities, within were mummified remains. At the corners of the room, braziers stood, dark and cold. Auzrael paused a moment, then focused the dark Force on one of the braziers, willing it to light – but the Force refused. Auzrael thought briefly, then changed her tactics, instead willing the tainted Force to ignite, to burn, to destroy by fire the contents of the brazier. All to eagerly, flame erupted from the ancient peat coal in the metal stand. Heartened by the warm fire light, Auzrael plucked a smoldering brand from the brazier, and used it to light the other 3 sconces. This tomb must have been well sealed for the combustible materials to remain burnable after so long.

Another passage exited the room. Holding her makeshift torch ahead of her, Auzrael followed the corridor, occasionally lighting another sconce. The walls of the hallway were covered in lewd frescos, depicting depravity, murder, and evil. Common in all of the pictures were a crimson garbed sith – no doubt Darth Terminus – the butcher. Auzrael shuddered at the thought that she carried his sword.

The passage finally ended, opening into a large chamber. Auzrael gasped in shock. It was a torture room, a place of violent execution. And all through the room were the long dead remains of victims who had been made to die agonizing deaths.

A miasma of despair and pain filled the chamber, the psychic echoes of the crimes committed here strong even after so much time. The aches and pain that Auzrael felt already paled before the shock of remembered doom that assailed her here.

A ghostly figure, barely visible, seemed to appear from nowhere – its face locked in a rictus of pain. It seemed to be reaching for Auzrael, entreating her to rescue it from torment. Auzrael’s jaw dropped in realisation. It was Jarlel – one of her long time allies, and a very dear friend.

Auzrael stepped towards the apparition, but as she did so, the ghostly Jarlel shrieked in anger, then suddenly sank into the floor. Auzrael peered at the spot where her friend’s image had vanished, and noticed a circular disc of metal set at that point in the stone floor.

Except – it wasn’t just a simple disc, but rather some sort of pool of dull grey fluid, which was now rippling in a most perplexing manner. Quickly, the metallic liquid drew together into a ball, revealing that it had ben resting in a shallow well. Silently, the metal sphere sculpted itself into a twisted humanoid shape, with a parody of Jarlel’s handsome face, metallic eyes staring at her.

A sudden warning through the Force pre empted the thing’s attack, a lurching hammer blow that whistled through the space Auzrael had occupied a moment before, then slamming into the floor like a sledge hammer.

The construct’s movements were jerky, puppet like. But there was no denying the force behind its actions, nor its swiftness once it had begun a motion.

“Jarlel, what happened to you” Auzrael asked, but the animated statue answered only by making another attack. Auzrael drew and swung her sith sword defensively, but the metal limb of the fiend smacked into the blade, and the blow jarred her remaining arm with a ringing impact. Before Auzrael could recover from that, the statue bashed the sword from her grasp completely. Suddenly, the statue’s cold hands were wrapped around her neck, and Auzrael found herself suspended off the ground in its vice like, choking grip.

Auzrael flailed at the thing with her remaining arm, but she could neither beat it nor scratch it in any meaningful way. Not even its eyes were vulnerable. In desperation, Auzrael attempted to call on the life draining power of the stone fragments buried in her arm, but they had changed after the encounter with the dead sith lord. They would neither attack the life essence of the statue, nor store and release her own strength as they had before. Perhaps if she still held the sword of the sith, the synergy between it and the crystal shards would aid her. Auzrael called on the twisted Force, to pull her weapon to her, but she was dismayed to realise the sword had a powerful resistance to being manipulated by the Force.

Even as this metal thing throttled the breath from her, Auzrael concentrated and focused her will. She knew the sword, had attuned to it. She could break its resistance and command it. The sword leapt from the floor and sailed into her hand. Immediately she swung the weapon, and the dark blade severed one of the choking limbs that held her. She gasped in a much needed breath.

It was a short respite. The fallen metal limb melted into a puddle, that rejoined the main statue. A new limb grew a mere moment later, and snatched her arm at the wrist, holding her weapon at bay. The statue’s strength was greater than her own. With no sound other than that of her body slamming to the ground, the animated metal being bore the young woman to the floor, pinning her body with it’s weight, her arm to the side. It applied its other hand to her throat, crushing weight behind its grasp.

“Jarlel,“Auzrael croaked out. “Don’t do this. Jarlel!”

Auzrael heard the sharp cracking sound of a rib breaking, and then another and another. Her vision was growing dim at the edges. Even calling on the Force to sustain her had its limits. She pushed at the thing with the power of the Force, but its own presence in the Force was too great, and her body to battered, for her efforts to do much more than slightly ease the pressure it applied to her. She could feel the sick sensation of fluid pooling in her lung, where one of her ribs had punctured it.

“Jarlel, please.” She sobbed.

For a moment, the pressure on her throat eased, and Auzrael sucked in another sweet breath of air.

“Auz?” came a quavering voice. Auzrael looked on the face of her metal attacker, and saw the ghostly image of Jarlel overlaying his metallic features. The tormented look of suffering had faded, and for a brief moment, he almost looked as he had before the sith had captured them both.

Auzrael spoke, the words grating through her damaged throat. “Jarlel, what has happened to you?”

“Auz?” spoke Jarlel again. Auzrael blinked as something cold and heavy seemed to splash across her face. She realised it was a tear – a liquid metal tear. “My love – You must, you must destroy me. Please. These dark chains, that bind my soul. The pain. I must – I must kill all that enter.” Auzrael could feel the metal hands tightening once more. “Destroy me. Free me. Die. Love – must die.”

Auzrael tried to speak, but no sound could escape her crushed throat. Auzrael drew herself into the Force, not caring about the blackened stain of it, and pushed her mind past the metal, to find the spirit of Jarlel.

And she understood. Jarlel – tortured, slain after horrendous agony – but not allowed to pass on into the Force, instead his soul bound to this place, condemned to be an executioner, to slay anything that entered.

She had known him well in life, and even now, she could see those things in him that she had loved. And she could see the anchors that held back his spirit. She could see the spark of his life that had been imprisoned here. With sadness, but also the determination to preserve his memory along with her own life, Auzrael pushed the dark Force against Jarlel’s spirit.

There was no sense of time, only of the psychic struggle between her own will, and the dark powers that imprisoned Jarlel’s soul. In her mind, Auzrael saw as she reached into his essence with her remaining arm, as his spirit willingly drained itself into the crystal shards buried in her flesh. As his last vestiges of life were obliterated, sucked away by a combination of corrupted sith sorcery, and noble self sacrifice.

Auzrael’s eyes snapped open. The statue was still, unmoving. It still held her arm in its grip, but it had shoved her hand into its chest. The weight of it still bore down on her, and its other hand still gripped her throat in a fatal grasp. She still couldn’t breath, and her vision was rapidly clouding.

She attempted to struggle, attempted to somehow topple the thing off her, but she could not. But wait – the pressure of the grasp at her neck was lessening. With a tortured gasp, she again sucked breath into her broken lungs through the partial opening in her windpipe. Her vision cleared somewhat, and she could see what was happening. The statue seemed to be melting, reverting from hard surface into viscous fluid. She would be free!

Except – the metal mass seemed to be collapsing onto her, smothering her rather than releasing her. Even in its partial fluid state, its grip on her body was too strong to break. Auzrael’s eyes, wide with panic, snapped shut just as the statue’s softened head fell onto and enveloped her own.

Darkness once again - her only steadfast companion.

Aranador
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Post by Aranador » Tue Oct 18, 2005 4:53 pm

I will not simply die. I will not give up. I will live!

I too – would live.

In the blackness, Auzrael’s mind could sense the presence of another. It was not a hostile presence. Infact, it seemed as if this other entity wanted to help her.

Who are you, she thought.

No solid reply, just images and feelings came back. An entity that wanted desperately to live, but that could only live vicariously through the strength of a living being. A symbiote which, without the living Force, was nothing more than lifeless matter. Something that needed her to live, that it might live as well.

I will not allow myself to be enslaved to you! Thought Auzrael defiantly. But immediately she realised this was not the way of things. Rather, her life was the life of this symbiote. Without her, this strange entity was nothing. The will, the soul of this being was an image of her own. It was her.

Strange, but Auzrael sensed no malice, just a genuine need for a partner to allow the symbiotic existence of this being to continue.

Very well.



Auzrael awoke with a start. The torture chamber was gloomy, but there was enough fuel left in some of the fire stands to still light the area. Feeling exhausted, Auzrael carefully sat up and rubbed her tired eyes. It was then she realised something amazing.

She had her left arm back.

More correctly, she had a left arm, but it wasn’t hers. Well – not her original arm. Where once had been flesh and blood, now was a gleaming silver limb. Checking the rest of her body, she quickly realised that the many wounds and injuries she had sustained were all ‘healed’, or more correctly, filled with this strange metal.

Auzrael pondered this a moment, and the answer seemed to arrive in her subconscious. That liquid metal – it was a biometal symbiote – not a true living entity, but none the less something that reacted to the life force of a true living being. The sith had somehow used it in conjunction with the disembodied life spirit of her friend Jarlel to create a tormented guardian for this tomb. Only her previous connection to Jarlel had allowed herself to reach out to his soul, and free it.

But in so doing, she had destroyed the animating life force that the biometal had needed to mimic life. With her own strong will to live, and her Force connection however, the symbiote had bonded with her.

And now, she was part human, and part biometal. Auzrael reflected on the concept for a moment. She probably could rid herself of the metal, she could enter a trance and isolate her identity. The metal would loose access to her sense of self and will to live, and would probably just flow away. And die.

She did not want to die. And as a reflection of her, nor did the biometal. She certainly would never attempt to destroy herself. Could she then attempt to destroy something that for all intents and purposes, shared her every will? Of course not.

And too – perhaps that was why the biometal could not attempt to destroy her. In fact it would, in so far as it had a will of its own, strive to preserve her with the same vigour as she would attempt to preserve herself. It was a part of her now.

Auzrael wondered how much of that was her thought train, and how much of that was some sort of survival instinct of the biometal.

Philosophy could wait. The practicality of having an apparently fully functional left arm was too good to pass up.

Auzrael stood up, and surveyed the room once more. Laying near was the sword of Darth Terminus. She considered leaving it where it lay, but the sword too had changed, and besides – a weapon could be useful. She took the blade and sheathed it.

Or perhaps the only thing that had changed was her? Auzrael wondered just how great a toll she had already paid, and if it was enough to get her out of here.

At the far side of the room, a tight metal grill covered a dark opening. She studied the metal a moment, and realised that it was a cortosis woven durasteel alloy. Nothing much would cut the grill, not even a light saber. Oh sure – certain specialist quantum gravitational cutters could disassemble the molecules and thus part the material – but she didn’t have one of those handy, nor was there likely to be one laying around. Let alone the fusion plant needed to power such a thing. Auzrael didn’t have a license to operate one anyway – wouldn’t want to get in trouble with the police now.

An instinct, a feeling that arrived in her mind from nowhere, drove her to place her left hand against the metal. She smiled grimly, and tried to tear the grill aside with her metal fingers, but that didn’t work. Curious, she relaxed, and lent her palm against the obstacle, willing what ever intuition the biometal was trying to provide to come to her.

Slowly, a bizarre feeling began to fill her arm. It wasn’t painful, although there was definitely something disquieting about the sensation. Slowly, it became apparent what was happening. The metal symbiote was consuming the grating. The weird feeling was the biometal assimilating the obstacle. Maybe that’s why it was kind of like the need to go to the toilet?

After a short time, a hole big enough for her to wriggle through had been – eaten – out of the metal mesh. She paused to look at her arm, noticing the arm had taken on a duller sheen now. Perhaps it was full? Did she have to feed it from time to time? Who knew how to look after a metal symbiotic arm anyway.

But it was time to leave this place. Auzrael wriggled into the dark shaft beyond the grate. “Great” she muttered. Naturaly enough – this shaft went down

Aranador
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Post by Aranador » Wed Oct 19, 2005 5:22 pm

A fearsome growl echoed through the dark tunnel that Auzrael was currently descending. It was her stomach, rumbling in complaint. The young woman was currently precariously perched in a narrow chimney of stone. In her right hand, she clutched a small burning brand, while the strange metal limb that was her new left arm dug steely fingers into the rock, supporting her weight while her feet searched around for new footholds.

Auzrael paused a minute, trying to relax. She did not call on the Force though – the tainted blackness that seemed to infest this world was not something she wanted to call on unless she had no other option. She would simply have to endure being hungry in the normal way.

Her right arm ached. With good reason perhaps, as the limb had been severely abused by recent events. Punctured by fragments of a life draining crystal, burned by tendrils of dark force lightning, battered by continual physical activity. Her left arm though, surely, had faired worse – severed by a light sabre. But now, a strange biometal symbiote had fused with her, mimicking her lost limb and even glazing over and filling the other injuries she had taken. While she found she could ‘feel’ quite well with the metallic arm, there was no sense of pain or fatigue from it.

Handy, she thought, as she again forcibly drove the metal digits of her new hand into the rocky wall, then suspended her weight easily from that grip.

And finally the chimney ended. A vast open chasm opened up below, her feet dangling now into the empty space.

“I wonder how far down the drop is” Auzrael mused out loud – the sound of her voice being sucked away by the open void, nary an echo to suggest an end to the room. Auzrael let out a single sharp shout with all the volume she could muster, and was rewarded this time with an echo. At least this place was not bottomless.

She considered her options. It would not be possible to hand over hand across the chasm roof – her metal hand might be up to the task, but the other would never be able to grip the relatively smooth surface. On a whim, she released the spluttering torch, watching it trail downwards. Then with a nearly inaudible hiss, the flaming brand was smothered as it hit some sort of liquid.

As the darkness pressed in, Auzrael reviewed the fall of the flame in her mind, counting away the seconds between start and finish of its descent, then trying to work out the distance it must have travelled. “Lets see, gravity here is just a touch over standard, hmmm so that makes it, maybe 18 meters down. I wonder how deep that water down there is – or – if it is water?”

Reluctantly, Auzrael decided to call on the Force. The sickening feel of the tainted energies made her skin crawl, and even the metal limb she now had seemed to recoil from the putrid touch, but none the less, she bent the flow to her will, and used Force Sight to pierce the blackness.

There was water down there – lots of it. Auzrael let go, and fell.

With a splash, the young woman entered the subterranean lake – the shock of the cold water both revitalizing and disorientating. She broke the surface of the water again, and sucked in air. It soon became apparent that there was a mild current here. There was no flow sounds however, so it was apparent that where ever the water was coming from, or going to – was most likely either some distance away, or sub surface.

Auzrael decided that since rivers flow from tiny streams and to oceans, chances are going upstream may very well lead her to a passage that was simply too small for her to traverse. Also – if there was a small but noticeable current in a lake body of this size, then the current in a tributary may very well be too strong for her to swim against.

And besides – it would be much easier to let the current carry her, than fight against it anyway. She relaxed, and let the water transport her.

There was no sense of time or distance. Auzrael closed off the tainted Force, and just concentrated on remaining afloat. The metal arm was not very helpful in this respect, but the movement of the water was very placid, so keeping just her face above the surface was not difficult. The real trick was making sure she didn’t fall asleep. The whole situation was curiously relaxing.

Eventually, the sounds of moving water became more evident. The pace of the river picked up. Soon, the effort of remaining afloat increased, and Auzrael could no longer afford to simply float passively. Still, the rest had been good, and the exercise of swimming now helped her enliven muscles that had been relaxing in the cold water.

The water speed increased still more, and the sounds of it likewise increased. Auzrael could tell that the boundaries of the underground river were closing in, and worried momentarily about the possibility of being dashed against a rock. But she decided it was unlikely – a flow of water like this would rapidly erode any protrusions away, so chances are that the tunnel walls were quite smooth.

It was becoming increasingly difficult to remain afloat, so Auzrael resolved to alternate between swimming underwater, and surfacing briefly for air. Even this became increasingly hard, and eventually, Auzrael once again called on the Force despite her reluctance to draw its tainted power. Empowering her muscles, and preserving her breath, Auzrael raced along with the water, flashing along a steadily narrowing tube of rock deep within the planet. Finally, the tube effectively choked itself on the water, there was no more option to surface for air, nor any chance to turn around and swim back. Auzrael simply powered along, hoping her breath, extended via the Force, would last what ever distance remained.

And suddenly, Auzrael was airborne, a cascade of water carrying her in a spectacular spray that arched away from a cliff face. She was in a massive canyon, vertical sides a thousand meters apart, and equally high. Auzrael was overjoyed to see grey overcast sky above her, but this joy was quashed as she saw the ragged river below towards which even now she plummeted.

Auzrael slammed into the surface of the river, and the force of the water she had accompanied down pushed her deeper and deeper. The force of the cascade had long ago carved out a fathomless basin, and she could feel the pressure of depth attempting to force the air from her lungs. She lightly touched the rocky bottom, before being whisked away again by the flow of liquid.

And finally, washed hither and there, pulled along into the current of the canyon river, Auzrael was able to snag a rocky protrustion, and haul herself out of the water. Wet, cold, and exhausted, she lay just beyond the river edge, and slept.

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