Log:Jedi: Enigmatic Relic
The University of Theed was one of the main educational facilities that secretly supported the Jedi Order. Throughout the Jedi's exploration of the galaxy, recovered knowledge eventually made its way back to the University, and in-turn things that might interest the Jedi was secretly sent to them. While in Theed for the festival of Lost Moons, Rey had come across a bit of curious info from one of the University professors who had requested that she come to a site not far from a coastal Naboo city.
When the Jedi team arrived, they spent a bit of time acquiring a transport, and set out for a nearby forested swamp area. Was it a bit of a suspicious setting? Somewhat, but Rey was assuring the others that she had good faith in the professor who had requested their presence.
As the Jedi departed from the Naboo town, they journeyed through the planet's stunning natural landscapes, thick forests standing tall and dense with lush vegetation. The sound of gentle zephyrs whispered through the vibrant greenery, and the dappled sunlight played on the landspeeder's hull.
Reaching their destination, a large and pristine lake nestled within the heart of the swamp, the Jedi arrived at a designated meeting point with an archaeologist team from Theed. The tranquil waters of the lake glistened like liquid crystal beneath the serene canopy of ancient trees. Birdsong echoed in the background, adding to the ethereal atmosphere of this secluded oasis. The landspeeders came to a halt, and Rey was quick to stand up and step out of the vehicle.
A pair of people waited for them near the lake's waters, having turned to fface the speeder when its engine became audible through the trees. Dressed like your typical Naboo civilians, the two began to walk toward the Jedi party, raising hands to greet them with casual waves.
"There they are, that is Ziik and his assistant, Milla." She tells the others with her as her eyes take a moment to look around the natural beauty of Naboo's wilderness.
Studious of the approaching pair, Qutha's robes are adjusted as he dusts himself off and his expression remaining somewhere between pleasant and daydreaming. Looking to Lira after a moment, "Be watchful, reckon we ain' sure they might be seekin'a probe for more inf'mation 'fore they're willin' t'give up aught to us."
Fighting the distraction of the natural wonders presented and the interests they pose to the orchardist, Mr. Pah lift a hand towards the approaching, smiling despite the trepidations voiced to Lira. A gaze spare for the others of their party present.
Narsai couldn't remember the last time she'd been to Naboo. Was it 5 years ago? 15? That gala where she'd had to wear a dress to something formal rather than armor? It was hard to know for sure, though even now with the galaxy having been through so much. Still, the woman with head hair in those different colored robes comes to walk behind the others, deep green eyes sweeping the landscape and a soft exhalation of a comfortable breath expressed. She'd take in the beauty and enjoy it a bare moment more before focus turned to task and she steps up beside Lira and Qutha, gaze now assessing those that approach.
Lira'una alights gracefully from the landspeeder, her boots sinking slightly into the soft soil of the Naboo swamp. The towering trees and dense underbrush press close, their leaves whispering secrets. She takes a moment, letting the symphony of nature wash over her -- a tactile connection to the Force that permeates this secluded glen.
There's a series of nervously quizzical beeps and boops from the speeder. A faded white, blue, and green BB-unit seemingly made of mismatched panels peeks its head out over the edge, and Lira glances back at him, holding up a hand. "Stay there for now, Echo," she says.
She takes in the tranquil lake, its surface a perfect mirror reflecting the serenity of the skies. Then there's the pair of civilians, Ziik and his assistant Milla, approaching with friendly gestures.
Her blue eyes turn to Qutha, scanning up to his face and nodding. She seems calm... peaceful, even... especially for Lira. She still stands with her weight shifted forward on the balls of her feet, a sort of perpetual state of readiness, but she doesn't bounce like she normally does. Even her lekku are more still than they often are, lying down against her back.
"I will," she assures. Then she glances over her shoulder. "Echo?" as if to make sure he heard the instruction as well.
There's an affirmative chirp from the droid.
A breeze blowing across the area shifts her robe, and she folds her hands, fingers encircling wrist, as she looks around the surroundings -- not the beauty of the nature itself as much as the things that existed in. While the others were focused on the approach of the pair, she was looking for the approach of... anything else.
The overall sense of the jungle is one of serenity in the moment, with the sun still high in the afternoon position of the sky above. The birds continue their charming melodies all around the expansive lake, and the lake itself is clearly being worked with by the archaeological team, as there are sections of plasteel setup in panels to create a makeshift bridge spanning out some two hundred yards toward an island in the depths of the lake's center.
Ziik and his assistant approach the Jedi, pleasant expressions on their face. Ziik a middle aged man, curly hair turning from dark to a salt-and-pepper state, while his assistant is still young, dark skinned with her dark hair tied back in a ponytail.
"Glad you could make it." Ziik says to Rey, his eyes going to the other Jedi, offering them a curt nod. "We've found something that I believe will interest you." He states, glancing to Milla who turns a datapad around and offers it out to the Jedi to take or simply look at.
"We've been searching these lake caverns for nearly a full year now, and we came through a weakened wall in to a chamber," Milla explains. "When we got inside the chamber, we discovered a number of man made pillars. The central pillar had..."
Ziik raises a hand up to cut Milla off. He offers her a grin before he speaks to the Jedi once more. "Why ruin the surprise now. Come. We'll show you what we found."
Ziik and Milla turn then toward the lake's edge, where that manufactured bridge begins, they step on to its edge and begin to cross the lake's shimmering waters.
Rey glances over to the others with her, before she raises her dark eyebrows up, shows a faint smirk and begins to follow after the two academics. "I didn't know there were active sites still being explored in this area." Rey says as she steps on to the plasteel bridge, feeling its stability out beneath her booted feet.
"This entire region," Ziik says as he glances around the lake, then back to the Jedi. "Used to be preserved from any foot traffick on it back in the days of the Galactic Empire. Emperor Palpatine mandated it to be as so. It took another several decades before the University found leads that brought us back here, and here we are, continuing efforts that started before the Clone Wars were even a debate in the Galactic Senate. A long time coming, you could say." The man says as he walks along with Milla aside him, the water beneath the bridge gently lapping at its sides, no railings upon either side offering a bit of a worrisome pitfall, if one doesn't keep their bearings and footsteps aligned, but it's a good ten feet in width of safe bridge space.
"Even better ifn' the universities don' make it public what's been found here ifn' it has to do wit' th' ol' order." murmuring softly while gazing down into the water below. Brows knit and hands tucking into his sleeves as he walks - his gaze somewhere present and somewhere else entirely as he moves on the currents on the force and with the movements of the others.
"Ain' no predilection 'ginst troddin' all o'er here ifn' the Empress gits wind'a what she can t'empower her own, reckon... Or take from us."
Qutha looks to Ziik and Milla, past and around them at the same moment, lips pursed and murmuring to himself a hushed "Dear oh dear..."
It was almost a little harsh reminder that the former Galactic Emperor and Sith Lord had once come from this serene and beautiful world, but Narsai let it pass as she instead looked to Rey and then the others before turning her attention towards the ruins and the pair introducing them. "Well, don't keep us in suspense then, lead the way..."
Lira'una glances at the datapad when it's shown and follows the procession towards the shimmering expanse of the lake, her gaze sweeping from the plasteel bridge to the surrounding terrain with practiced vigilance. As Rey and the others converse with Ziik and his assistant, Lira listens, but her attention remains divided, mindful of Qutha's earlier counsel. She steps onto the bridge with a measured tread, her senses attuned to the resonance of the Force around this ancient site.
As the group traverses the bridge, Lira's lekku twitch slightly with the ripple of water below, her mind pondering the historical depths they were about to plumb.
She'd been only three years old when the new Sith Empire rose to power on Coruscant. It had been thirty-five years before that Emperor Palpatine had been slain at the Battle of Endor -- a grand total of fifty years ago -- and those exact numbers were fuzzy at best in her mind. A scholar of galactic history, she was not. Suffice it to say, she knew relatively little about the details of the old Emperor's life. In truth, she knew relatively little about the details of the /current/ Empress's life.
Still, the mention of Emperor Palpatine's edict sends a cool shiver down her spine, a reminder of the darkness that once shrouded such places. Lira's blue eyes narrow thoughtfully at Ziik's back, weighing his words. She keeps pace with the others, a silent sentry flanking the group as they move closer to the secrets veiled by time and water.
A few more plaintive beeps rise up more distantly from the direction of the speeder, but Lira simply holds up a hand to silence Echo's request to follow along with them, leaving him tending their vehicle instead of joining them in side the excavation.
As they progress across the bridge, Ziik spares a look back to Qutha. "Empires have risen and ffallen an unsettling amount of times in our galactic history. We're hoping this one is far too preoccupied with maintaining peace in the Core to care what we're doing out this far. Palpatine is rapidly being forgotten by the youth of today too." He gruffly comments, with Milla smirking over at her mentor.
"We're not allowed to forget anything here." Milla says back to the Jedi as well, which in-turn has Ziik smirking at his protege.
Rey looks up toward the two of them before she draws in a light breath. She doesn't talk about Palpatine much herself, for obvious reasons, though she also doesn't keep her heritage a secret either. "I assure you that none of the Jedi have forgotten." She quietly adds as she glances over at her companions.
The rest of the walk is uneventful, with Ziik continuing to provide some additional details on the excavation efforts that they're going through here with caverns built down in to a Naboo lake. He indicates how some deal with flooding issues, while other chambers and tunnels remain completely empty of water, but all the same they emphasize the painstaking efforts of being careful with breaking through the 'wrong walls' in such environments.
A matter of minutes later, and the Jedi have entered the caverns on the island, delving deeper in to a main tunnel shaft that has them passing by lamps hanging from cavern walls, and monitoring equipment keeping close watch on the stability of it all. Soon though, they're passing around a series of corners before emerging in to a large chamber with smoothed stone floors, and steps leading up to a central dias surrounded by pedestals, the central pedestal holding a singular item that is bathed in a shafft of daylight streaming in from a open hole in the rocky ceiling high above.
"There it is." Ziik says, stepping out of the way to let the Jedi filter in. "Our research has labeled it, the Kyber Lotus."
And the name ffits the item itself, a large flower made from a number of different sparkling crystals. The Jedi will instantly 'feel' its presence in the Force as well, like a calming oasis of warmth washing over them.
"According to our records, this item once resided in the Jedi Temple on Devaron, but it vanished during the Clone Wars."
"Thinkin' the Empire is to preoccupied is th' first step in' pavin' the way." Qutha grumps, chin sticking out some as he does so, brow knit. Though he lets it drop for the walk - slowing some when he cannot help but inspect a bloom or vine, resisting the urge to take clippings without the proper equipment at hand.
The lotus's presence keeps him quieter still, approaching once the way is cleared with his attention drifting further between the physical and the penumbra though his emerald gaze does widen for all of the hazy expression on his features.
It's only at length that he finally has something to say and it's with one hand lifting of its own volition, though he doesn't quite touch, "An' there's a presence that'll draw more'n more... T'ain' a secret that'll want fer keepin' n'matter how hard thems here want it so..."
"Nor has any Mandalorian," Narsai muses softly in agreement with Rey's words, though for the moment the only proof of her own heritage aside from the bracers glimpsable on her arms was a few obscure symbols on her robes that really only those who'd recognize the more ancient traditions of her people might know the meanings.
She'd say more, consider more...but her eyes fall on this chamber's highlight in the same moment as that presence in the force washed over her. It brings an immediate little shift of her stance, a little exhale of breath leaving her lips as she looks over the item.
She'd heard stories of the old arch of kystals in the holocron of the old record-keeper, but then again after having seen Illum with her own eyes, she couldn't be certain it wasn't some mysterious natural formation.
Lira'una, her steps sure and steady on the ancient stone, came to a halt before the Kyber Lotus. She felt the thrum of the Force around the artifact, a gentle wave that resonated with her own inner calm.
She reached out a hand, not to touch, but to feel the energy emanating from the crystalline petals, her eyes reflecting the shimmering light cast by the object. "The Kyber Lotus..." she murmured, almost to herself, a slight sense of wonder in her tone, pondering the journey it must have taken, the hands that had passed it down through generations until it vanished.
She then turned her gaze back up to her guides. "Have you found any sign of why it was brought here?" Her lekku twitched subtly, betraying her thoughtful state. "This... Kyber Lotus... could be more than just a repository of the Force; it could be a message from the past."
Her hand finally fell to her side, and she stepped back again, her gaze shifting around the other Jedi. She nodded at Qutha's words, though she was especially curious about the researcher's reaction to them.
"We can't leave it here, can we? It would be only a matter of time..."
She doesn't finish that sentence. A matter of time before others like them, but /not/ like them, came for it. Others that wouldn't ask as nicely. Others that might or might not leave the researchers alive when they were finished claiming it.
While the Jedi react to the crystal relic being discovered, Ziik and Milla stand back to observe. "Well, we're doing everything we can to keep this under wraps." The elder says toward Qutha's back. "It's why the majority of our team aren't on-site today. We don't want them to know you were here, for your safety and for the item's safety as well."
"Our records don't say what the intent of putting the Lotus here could have been." Milla speaks up then. "But we assume it's--"
"It's a peace giver." Rey speaks up then, interjecting, as she stands on the first step, not close enough to even touch the lotus if she wanted to reach out to try. She lets the others get as close as they desire though. "It radiates it. Peace and calm. Serenity... Palpatine put it here to keep it away from his malice, and rage. To keep it from Darth Vader..." She says, her voice getting closer and closer to a whisper with every word she speaks of it.
Milla begins to write something down on her datapad, while Ziik starts to step forward. "You're saying this was kept from being close to the Emperor for fear of it effecting his mindset?" He asks of Rey, who looks over to him, offering a single dip of her chin in a nod.
The Professor looks back to the glittering surface of the multi-colored Kyber Lotus, before a ringing sounds out in the corridors beyond. An alarm.
Ziik glances back over Milla's shoulders, who tears her eyes from her datapad and turns to look out in the corridor beyond. Milla leans out in to the corridor, then quickly back in to Ziik. "It's the sensors. They're all showing red." She says with an urgency hitting her voice.
"That's impossible." Ziik fires back as he marches back toward the corridor entrance. "The foundations are strong as permacrete..." He mutters a mere moment before a burst of water gushes down the corridor and begins to rush in to the temple chamber, up to one's ankles almost immediately!
The zelosian's response is immediate when the water comes rushing in. Breath drawn in steadily, his first instinct is to reach out to the Force and allow it to sweep him up and along, "Need t'git'r outta here..." both hands forming into a shallow bowl for the purpose of moving to either side and ultimately below the crystal bloom, to try and get it to lift up so that it can be moved.
"Think this's why's y'all foun' it. So we's kin be called t'git'r gathered up... git'r to sommat place safer, more secret'n this."
Gaze still on the flower, but head tipping towards Lira, "Bud, done need you t'he'p... Eithern' me 'n movin' aught... Or Miss Narsai ifn' she has need."
"It should be..." Narsai begins, perhaps beginning to offer her agreement to the truth that the item would probably need to be removed to somewhere where the former home of the Emperor might be raided. But the sudden alarm silences her as warnings ring out and she turns to look at the others before stepping towards the corridor. She might be expecting troops, raiders, even Sith...so when it's a rush of water flowing towards them instead the Ordo woman actually blinks for a moment before lifting her hand. "This is all going to come down on us soon, we need to get ourselves and the lotus out now!"
Reaching out, she focuses, doing her best to buy time. "Get clear, quickly. And be wary of a trap waiting outside!"
Not the klaxons of ships -- hyperspace proximity alerts or incoming missiles. Alarms inside an underwater cavern. What did alarms inside a cavern mean?
But Lira got her answer almost before she'd fully formed the question, her gaze turning towards the sources of the water as the walls began to destabilize.
"I'm here," she assures Qutha's warning and steps up beside him, apparently ready to take a middle-ground if need be... ready to help with the Lotus if he required it, and otherwise ready to shield him and the others as much as she could with her limited control over that sort of thing. Regardless, the water was coming up quickly, but she held her arms out along their path, trying to help Narsai keep things as stable as she could until Qutha and the flower were making their escape.
The sudden deluge of water sends shockwaves through the chamber as the alarm continues blaring. The Jedi and the archaeologists scramble to react, the rising water swiftly becoming a treacherous foe.
Rey acts with urgency, turning to Ziik and Milla as she extends her hand to them. "Quick, this way!" she shouts, her Force-enhanced strength aiding her in helping them up onto the dais, then across the waterlogged chamber. She darts ahead of them, leading the way through the tunnels as the waters rise relentlessly.
Tunnels that were once dry and secure quickly transform into roaring waterways. Massive tentacle arms burst through the rock, smashing through the tunnel walls in a harrowing display of violence and danger. Water surges through the cracks, widening them, and it's a desperate race to stay ahead of the deadly torrents.
Milla lets out a loud scream as a tentacle smashes through the cavern wall beside her, Ziik grabbing her elbow to help her over the rocks as Rey activates her lightsaber to slash at the tentacle! "Run!" She shouts to the others ahead of her. "Get free!" She calls out as she sweeps her golden saber beam around to thrust at another of the mysterious sea-creature limbs that are tearing the cavern tunnel apart.
"Fear naught... F'all's as th' Force wills it!"
The lotus gathered up, sliding over suddenly slicked stone with his balance challenged and nearly turned over by a swinging, rubbery skinned, appendage that lashes close to his middle. So close that the cloth of his cloak snaps and growls as threads break.
One foot going one way, the other taking it's holiday in the opposite direction when he attempts to move at speed, a sharp intake of breath coming before he is suddenly balancing on a single foot, resisting the urge to pinwheel his arms.
And then he feels his movements guided by the sensations coursing through him. Lurching forward and into a run.
Last to leave and pushing back the tide as best she can to protect the others, there was a strain of focus on the Mandalorian woman's face as she moved through, stone, water and tentacle alike lashing at them while she attempted to keep up and keep others safe. She was talented, experienced...but hardly infailable, and sure enough one of those massive tentacles slams through one side of the tunnel she was trying to maintain, slamming into her painfully without the protection of her usual Beskar.
Yet the force was her armor in that moment, reflexive enough to dampen some of the impact and pain, allowing her to keep moving and not leave the warrior woman to an ironic death on a 'peaceful' planet just yet.
Lira was bringing up the middle, somewhere between Qutha and Narsai, doing her best to contribute what she could to keeping the place from caving in around them... at least until Qutha was on his way out and she was taking off not long after. The path was treacherous, and while she might ordinarily rely on the physical conditioning that a life in the circus provided her, it was the Force more than experience in this situation that propelled her when she lost her footing.
She splashed along through the water, up and out, bouncing to the other side of the corridor just before a tentacle lashed out towards her. But it was the sound of the crashing behind her that drew her gaze back, cause her to hesitate for another moment, to take another step back in brief retreat.
She reached out a hand -- an actual offering if it turned out to be needed, or simply a symbol to the woman behind her that she wouldn't run off and leave her to whatever watery tomb this was turning into. And then she was continuing the escape again.
Rey was bringing up the rear, with her lightsaber ignited and water rushing all around her. She'd cut through the tentacles directly beside her with relative ease, while primarily helping Ziik and Milla move ahead one quick step at a time. But eventually, everyone was emerging from the cavern's mouth again, as the water settled around the ground at the apex of the sloped cavern tunnel. Rey, waist deep, sloshed her way out of the submerged tunnel, her saber being deactivated as she huffed with a heavy sigh at the sudden exertion. "Is everyone okay?" She asks, her voice calm again, or at least headed in that direction.
She glanced toward Qutha who holds the Lotus, its radiant presence giving the Force attuned a constant source of calming peace...
"We're alright." Ziik responds to the Jedi, glancing his student over before she confirms that assessment with a quick nod of her head. "What was that?" Milla asks.
"I'm not sure, Ziik retorts. "Creatures that large generally don't come this close to the water's surface... Something must have--" He cuts himself off and looks across the bridge toward the shore.
The Jedi's speeder crackles with flame, Lira's droid not visibly present beside it. "Look." Ziik says, motioning across the lake toward the burning vehicle.
A rumble comes from the east, with a wash of water trailing behind it as a visible boat is moving away at high speed across the gleaming lake's waters.
Rey steps across the soft earth, her wet clothing slapping around her legs as she walks, she step past a tree branch to view the boat as it flees, it too far away to see anyone aboard it.
"We better make for the shore." Rey says, looking back to the others with her, as she steps over to Narsai. "Are you badly hurt?" She asks her directly.
Looking to Narsai to see how she responds to Rey Qutha's attention divides between the lotus and the burning speeder before he starts walking towards firmer ground - the need to put distance between him and whatever the beast was a necessity. Listening to the guidance of the living Force while he tries to put his feet on the path his instincts guide him on.
"N'where we kin git proper transport too, whiles we's at it..." murmured more to himself than anything.
"It's nothing," Narsai offers as she straightens up, adjusting her ribs. "I'll be fine, lets keep moving." Her gaze was already following Rey's own as they moved, focusing on the boat moving and silently missing her jetpack right in this moment. After all, they were here in lower profile so she'd truely had to leave her armor behind but...there was something to be said for its utility!
"We should give pursuit while the Lotus is secured. If we leave them to run without finding what they know, the researchers are in danger of being interrogated to lure us out once more."
Lira moves with the rest of the group, sloshing from being soaked from the thighs down as she goes, but her eyes linger a little longer on the burning speeder... searching.
After a moment, she plucks a comlink off of her belt.
She's managed to keep her emotions under control -- maybe with the help of the Kyber Lotus -- but there's a definite sense of urgency in her voice.
"Echo? Can you hear me?"
She'd told the little BB-unit to stay with the speeder. It was her fault if he got caught up in whatever happened out there. Of course, he wouldn't have fared any better as a new addition to a completely submerged cavern.
Then again, it was entirely possible that Echo had made a recording of exactly what had happened while they were undergound -- if he was in a position to, if he didn't just get scared and hide behind a tree, if he didn't get stolen by whoever was fleeing in the boat, and if he wasn't part of the burning wreckage that used to be their speeder.
"I can go," she offers to Narsai, though she glanced over the surface of the water, obviously unsure how she intended to carry that out at this point even though she was volunteering.
"There's only one way out of the lake in that direction, and it's in the port town of Romo." Ziik replies to Narsai, which has Rey look over toward him. "Can we get there quickly?" She asks him. "Relatively." He states. "Our own speeder was parked further to the west. Lets hope it avoided the same fate as yours..."
Rey draws in a breath and nods softly toward him, before she looks to Narsai. "We'll see if we can track them down in the port town." She states. "If not, we'll have to get back to our ships, perhaps do a fly over of the lake to see if we can see them parked on the shorelines..."
Rey heads toward Qutha then, to speak with him for a moment before she turns to the others. "Lets move back to the other side of the bridge. Hopefully ... whatever that was that destabilized the caverns won't do the same to the bridge."
Needless to say the ffollowing walk across that 200 yard plasteel bridge was a bit of a tense journey, with every little splish of water causing a measure of anxiety for possible impending attack, but when the Jedi and the researches crossed, they were greeted by Lira's BB-unit rolling out from behind a bush.
The droid rolled across the damp earth toward Lira, happily beeping with an energetic edge to its binary words. Rey paused to listen to it.
"It says the boat shot at the speeder from afar." She translates, looking to the others. "Just opened fire without any provocation..." She states, looking back at the direction that the mysterious attackers fled. "Come on... we should get a move on." Ziik says. "Our speeder was just beyond that ridge there..."
Within minutes the Jedi would find themselves piling aboard a new speeder, headed for that port town to search for their attackers.