Episode I.iv (Catacombs)

Veye pressed on, guided through the darkness by her helmet’s lights as they traced through the unlit tunnels. Much of the walls had become worn and weathered with time, sand being blown in by storms that routinely thrashed the surface as she had experienced. Her scans for threats increased dramatically as she discovered more Jawas, thrown and scorched by blaster fire in their desperate escape.

The catacombs themselves were a labyrinth, forcing her to leave markers at every junction so she could find her way out. Nothing too obvious, just a stone etched with an arrow pointing back the way she came, placed at both the entry and exit of every intersection. It made her going slow, but she was already scanning each and every hall for the troopers, as she suspected they were behind the carnage.

It was strange though, she felt as though many of these tunnels should have collapsed long ago, having no one to maintain them. And yet, she was finding evidence to the contrary, with beams and pillars put in place where cave ins had occurred, and trails well traveled as if by a fairly large force. She would assume it to be the troopers, but they couldn’t possibly have come down in this large of a force, taking to the tunnels in so many directions. Could they?

Not for her to say, nor for her to pursue. The salvage was all that mattered, denying the Order was merely a good deed.

She carried on, deeper and deeper into the catacombs. As she moved away from the surface, and the ambient noise of the surface waned, she began to feel more and more unnerved. There was a hum, she was certain, and not from her blaster. It seemed to vibrate through the ground and all around her, so much so at times she swore she could feel it more than hear it. The eyes that had been stalking her across the surface felt ever more present, and every now and then she would fire a bolt down a corridor just to watch the light travel till it collided with the furthest wall, or simply fade into the black.

Still, her shadows did not reveal themselves, and perhaps that was for the better. If she could go without further trouble, she would truly be happy.

Marking as she went, eventually the corridor emptied into a massive cavern, her only indication being a sudden cliff edge that plunged into the black below, her helmet lights failing to even brush the floor or ceiling. It was as if the world fell away, hollowed out by the inhabitants that had came before, so massive even her radar scan failed to define any features in the black, just the faint echoes of white noise off the far walls.

She was about to give up when the silence was shattered, the vibrating hum of a great machine stirring to life below her and increasing in volume. Veye retreated from the edge and posted up in the mouth of the catacombs, dialed in for a first strike. The humming grew, and grew, along with metallic grating that soon joined in until finally her stress was vented, as a platform emerged from the darkness. An open walled elevator, no doubt triggered by her presence, following aged programming and detectors.

It should have been no surprise that she hesitated however. It was, for one, far too convenient, that a lift was still operational after all this time. Two, even if it were, the descent was massive, and she doubted her ability to climb in total darkness if things went wrong and the elevator was no longer an option. Something was playing with her, drawing her in, enticing her to continue into the black. She still hadn’t seen any salvage she could make use of, and no evidence of the troopers that would most likely fire upon her if given the chance.

She huffed, weighing her options with gently head bobs, counting each path and how they ultimately led either to risking herself, or being stranded. If she stayed, there would be no doubt. No rescue would come for her, and the Order would prove to great a threat in force to take on with their ship in orbit.

Short walls surrounding the edges of the lift, which she braced herself against after pressing a n industrially large button to descend. There was an initial rush, for a moment she felt everything on the inside lift before settling to their new speed, peering over the wall and to the black below, where her scans finally began to return some effect of what the topography looked like. Not too long after, her lights began to touch on the facilities, and she found herself a clear picture of what the massive cavern was.

Machinery of massive proportions filled the deeply dug pit, rising in some places several meters high, with tracks and carts winding through in strange lines. Whether this was supposed to be production, excavation, or something else, she had no idea, but as she reached the bottom, and the echo of the lift faded into the expansive space, she began to hear something else. An electrical sparking, as if something recently functioning suffered a bad connection. She swept out of the lift and did a scan, and came back with organics.

The trace was faint, but maybe ten or so meters away, a few humanoid size organics laid cold, the same direction as the sparking sound. Her lights only just reached that range, but even so she could tell by the glare of light reflecting off of them who they were. Stormtroopers, crumpled over and laid out on the floor.

< Prev : Episode 1 Interlude (B1-C087's Mission) Next > : Episode I.v (Shadows)