Before - Legends The Curse of the Jedi's Tomb (JA-era, OCs, repost)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Mistress_Renata, Oct 1, 2017.

  1. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    When there's something strange in your neighborhood, who ya gonna call? Jedi Knights! Even when they are not happy about it. Strange doings on the cemetery moon of Necropolis lead to an investigation by Rendell Trett, a very average Jedi Master and his slightly Mary Sueish Padawan, Arwen-dai Istarri. Just in time for Halloween, it's:

    Title: The Curse of the Jedi's Tomb
    Era: Before the Saga, Jedi Apprentice Era
    Characters: Mostly OCs, though Yoda & Mace Windu have a cameo. And a bad guy who might seem familiar.
    Genre: humor, drama, adventure, ghost story

    This is a repost of something I put up when I first came to the boards, BEFORE Attack of the Clones came out, so you will see discrepancies. All the “Jedi may not know love” stuff didn’t exist yet. But I do love a good ghost story, and the title was too much fun not to use. I lost most of my old stories when my computer died back in 2005. And the backups were on floppy disks, which my new computer doesn’t have a port for.

    Thanks to the genius of Kahara, two have been retrieved. She had saved them, somehow, in full, and was kind enough to make sure I could get copies. So I can repost them. So, happy October and enjoy a blast from the past!

    * * *

    Tonkata was the capital city of Saffrilla. It was similar to Coruscant, with tall, shining buildings, sprawling formal green parks and attractive neighborhoods of single-family homes. The weather was warm and sunny. Arwen-dai Istarri looked up into the pale green sky, admiring the two moons hanging there.

    The shuttle pilot expertly guided the small craft to a landing pad. The Viceroy, Myllivinnan Otto, had sent it to the cruise ship, so that they could avoid the crush of tourists at the spaceport. Rendell Trett would have preferred to get a feel for the planet by coming in the usual way -"The mission begins with the first footstep," he'd said- but he accepted the ride. Now he looked out the viewscreen and groaned.

    "Put your hood up," he ordered.

    "Why, what is it?" asked Arwen, flipping the soft beige fabric over her head.


    "What's a groupie?"

    Security guards, both droid and humanoid, guarded a barrier. Behind it, hundreds of beings reached towards them, calling and pleading. Some held up signs, others held out knick-knacks or crystals. A few held out small children. Several seemed to be dressed in odd copies of the traditional Jedi robes. Many aimed holocams in their direction. Arwen angled her head, shielding her face in the deep cowl, understanding now. Jedi had few material possessions, nothing of monetary value, but they treasured their privacy.

    A large cam mounted on a remote swooped towards her, and she turned her head to avoid the lens. It looked like a professional holovidcam. She could hear some questions shouted from a group clustered to one side.

    "Have you come to investigate the sightings?"

    "How do you feel about the sale of--?"

    "What is the Jedi position on--?"

    "Does the Jedi Council plan to sue--?"

    "What about the prophecy that the Sith--?"

    Trett ignored them all and headed across the landing pad to bow to the rotund, sweating man who stood there.

    "Viceroy Otto, I am Rendell Trett of the Jedi Order. This is my Padawan-learner, Arwen-dai Istarri. We were told that you requested a Guardian of the Peace."

    "Yes, indeed! Thank you for coming, Master Trett. My speeder is here, I'll explain on the way to the Chancery."

    Once settled in the Viceroy's landspeeder, they were free to put their hoods back. Arwen looked through the dark-tinted windows at the city as they sped by. It seemed peaceful and prosperous, a good deal cleaner than most places she'd seen. The many small shops and cafes were open, and doing a thriving business.

    "I'm sorry about the reception," said Otto. "We haven't had Jedi here on Saffrilla in centuries. I'm afraid they're all very excited."

    "The Core worlds tend to be stable and peaceful," agreed Trett. "We're usually not needed here. I have heard something of the mission, but I'm afraid I don't quite understand what you expect us to do here."

    "There are six moons orbiting Saffrilla," explained Otto. "Three of them have served as repositories for our dead since the beginning of our recorded history, Necropolis, Necropolitana, and Necrolia. The tombs of Necropolis are the oldest, extremely elaborate, works of art, really. They have always been places of pilgrimage for mourners, and a curiosity for off-world visitors. But things have been quiet. Until that woman wrote that damned book!" He shifted uneasily, glancing at Arwen and mopping at his brow with a large green handkerchief. "Uh, excuse me."

    The speeder slowed as they entered the courtyard of the Chancery, an enormous complex with polished bronze pillars, and walls of pure white stone, inlaid with mosaic patterns in geometric designs.

    As they left the speeder and headed up the ramp into the Chancery, Otto continued, "There have always been stories of ghosts and hauntings connected with Necropolis and the other moons, of course, just local folklore, the usual sort of thing. No one took it seriously. But two years ago, an off-world author turned one of the stories into a novel, marketing it as a true story of an actual haunting. It was turned into an award-winning holovid last year, and since then we've been over-run by tourists, freaks, treasure-hunters and so-called paranormal investigators. Frankly, the whole thing is completely out of hand!"

    He stopped in the center of a magnificent domed reception room.

    "I want you to prove that there is no ghost," he said. "Find some rational explanation for the hauntings. If the Jedi say there's nothing there, half these nutcases will go away."

    Trett looked thoughtful. "What are the circumstances of the haunting?" he said. "There must be something the author based the book on."

    The Viceroy squirmed. "Well...the rumor is that the ghost...the ghost is a Jedi Master."

    Arwen and Trett stared at each other. Trett looked at the Viceroy sternly. "We are taught that there are no such things as ghosts," he said. "We are taught that when we die, the energy that is our essence goes to join the greater Universal Force. We don't hang around moaning and scaring people."

    "If you can only convince them of that, Master Trett, you will have my gratitude! Those kooks think that a Jedi Knight is roaming around guarding some mysterious Jedi treasure, and that he has healing powers that will solve all their problems."

    Arwen looked at her master. That frown was going to become permanent soon. She could understand why. If they weren't careful how they handled this, it could become a public relations disaster for the Order.

    The Viceroy mopped his brow again with the soggy scrap of silk. "Vandalism of the tombs has increased by 85% since the holovid, with everyone looking for treasure, or leaving offerings."

    "We will do what we can," Trett promised.

    "You're both welcome to stay here as long as necessary. I've had quarters prepared for you in the Guest wing. My staff has been instructed to fulfill any request." He beckoned to a nearby aide.

    "Thank you, Viceroy," said Trett, bowing again. "We will keep you updated on our progress."
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2018
    Ewok Poet, Chyntuck and Kahara like this.
  2. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    Yay! [face_pumpkin] I am here with my decorative plastic space gourd full of processed sugar packets.

    Really like how this starts to reveal a bit about pop culture, local lore, and public perception of the Jedi (which is so very often wrong but understandable given the disconnect there). And the groupies -- that does seem like something that would happen at times. :p

    [face_rofl] Well, actually...
    Ewok Poet and Mistress_Renata like this.
  3. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    Love the groupies; had so much fun with them! And thanks again for saving this for me. *puts out a bowl of popcorn balls and summons a black kitty* [face_pumpkin]

    I think I've got the formatting sorted out. Maybe.

    The craziness continues (since I'll be out of town from tomorrow to next Thursday...)

    * * * * *
    They were escorted to the Guest Rooms. Arwen gasped as the great golden door swung open. Her sleeping chamber alone was bigger than the arena at the Temple where the young Jedi trainees had saber practice! She could practically swim laps in the bathing room, and the sitting room adjoining it was as large as the Temple's dining hall. It took her nearly ten minutes to walk next door to Trett's suite, which was equally as lavish.

    "I think the first thing we'd better request are swoops," she said, "or we'll wear out our boot soles in a day!"

    Trett chuckled. "Sandrilla, Chandrila, and the other planets in this system are immensely wealthy," he said. He looked up at the ceiling mosaics appreciatively. "I don't think that even the Supreme Chancellor of the Republic has quarters like this."

    Arwen flopped into one of the overstuffed chairs, wondering if she'd ever be able to get out of it again. Well, maybe Trett could levitate her.

    "So?" she said, "where do we start?"

    Trett stared through the window, pulling at his beard thoughtfully. Arwen hoped he'd pull it out altogether. For reasons that escaped her, Master Trett had decided to grow a beard. She hated it. Nothing in the Code required him to wear one. It wasn't even a tradition, the way a Padawan braid was. Of course, a good Padawan never criticized a Master to his face, even if she didn't like the beard adorning that face. Arwen had been quietly plotting ways to convince him to get rid of it.

    "I'd like to go up and see Necropolis," he said. "Tonight we'll watch a copy of that holovid."

    Arwen struggled out of the chair and headed for the comm panel. "I'll see if we can borrow a cloud car," she suggested.

    "No," said Trett. "I think we'd better walk. There's a public shuttle that runs to Necropolis. Let's mingle with the groupies, and see what they have to say about all this."

    "Master," said Arwen, "what IS a groupie?"

    Trett sighed. "There are some people who have a fixation on the Jedi and what they think is the Jedi way of life. They think that if they can follow it, they will be happy or that their lives will be better somehow. Unfortunately, they don't want to follow the real teachings, or make the sacrifices necessary; they want access to the Force, even though most of them aren't Force-sensitive."

    Arwen frowned. "Our life is not an easy one," she said. "If they want to be like Jedi, why don't they go into their communities and serve and help people who need it?"

    Trett shrugged. "They want the 'magic tricks,' and the power, without the understanding." He pulled at his beard again. "Those who choose to leave the Order usually go into the outside world, and they do continue, in most ways, to follow the Code. They use their knowledge of the Force, and teach, they heal, they grow things, they serve on governments...they lead active lives and do their best to help people around them and promote peace."

    "If everyone in the galaxy would do that, they wouldn't need us at all," said Arwen. "It would be nice if the Order could be obsolete."

    Trett grinned. "We can only hope, Padawan. Come, we'd better get going. It will probably take us half an hour just to get to the door of the Chancery!"

    * * *
    The Jedi have come. I know what they've come for. They won't have it. I'll see to that. I have my orders. For now, I will wait. And watch.

    * * *
    It was several miles to the shuttle port, where shuttles ran to the cemetery moons every half hour. They got their tickets from a kiosk, and went to the waiting area. Arwen looked around in amazement at the vendors who had set up booths nearby. They seemed to be doing a brisk trade, selling candles, offerings, shirts, meditation robes. Arwen surveyed one stall, which sold herbal teas, incense, and something called "Je-dai Healing Crystals."

    "What's a Je-dai?" whispered Arwen.

    "A way of avoiding lawsuits," Trett responded drily.

    Arwen looked at the "Je-dai Healing Crystals" curiously, and picked one up. It was a smoothly polished pyramid, in an improbable shade of purple, etched with a symbol similar to the Jedi seal.

    "It's glass!" she said in surprise. "It's not Force-sensitive at all! It's not even crystal!" The crowd murmured and the vendor behind the counter laughed uneasily.

    "You need to tap into the Force to make it work," he said, in a high, reedy voice. "You need to make it vibrate to its inherent harmonic frequency, which then attunes to the natural Force harmonics in each person's body."

    Arwen stared at him in disbelief. "That's nonsense!" she said.

    A green-haired Tholan nearby sniffed. "I'VE always had great success with this method," she said, handing the vendor a handful of Republic credits. "It takes more than a robe to make a Jedi, dear."

    "A Je-dai," muttered Arwen. Trett nudged her. It was no good antagonizing people. They stood in line, waiting to board the shuttle.

    Necropolis was the largest, and coldest of the three mortuary moons of Saffrilla. The gravity was less than that of the planet, and it took Arwen a moment to adjust to the additional spring in her step. There was something underfoot, a wet, white coating on the ground and on the buildings. It looked like...could it be snow? She'd read about snow, but she'd never actually seen it. Much as she longed to explore further, she followed Trett into the new Visitor's Center near the shuttle pad.

    After paying a small entrance fee, they wandered through the Visitor's Center, noting the names of the luminaries who were buried in Necropolis, and looking at the exhibits, showing how the building styles of the crypts had evolved over the years.

    Arwen spotted one case, and touched Trett's sleeve. There was a large group of people clustered around, many in the pseudo-meditation robes they'd seen earlier.

    A narrative came from a hidden speaker.

    "Crypt 1138, known as the Jedi's Tomb, was constructed over 1500 years ago by master builder Iago Alliolo, to hold the remains of a Jedi Knight, believed to be Callo, who was killed on Saffrilla at around that time. Alliolo claimed that Callo came to him in a dream, and told him what the specifications for the tomb should be and how to construct it."

    Arwen summoned in the Force, and whispered softly to Trett, so that only he could hear her. "1500 years would put it sometime near the end of the Sith War," she murmured.

    "Don't read too much into this, Padawan. Most of it is probably speculation."

    They listened to the rest of the description in silence, learning that it was made of black marble imported from Kestive, that it was only 8 stories high, that the waterfalls flowed down over the stepped sides into the moat which completely circled the bottom, that the entrance had been concealed...

    A tall man nearby turned to his companion. "All Jedi are buried underwater," he explained. Arwen looked at him, askance. As far as she knew, most Jedi were cremated. Their ashes were often mingled with the earth in the gardens at the Temple.

    "It symbolizes a return to the womb and the promise of rebirth," added a pimply youth on the other side of the case.

    The first man sneered. "The only rebirth is in the Force, the Jedi don't believe in reincarnation!"

    A woman with blue-tinted skin shook her head. "In the Teaching Saga of Ragnaratt, it clearly states-"

    "That Saga isn't canon!"

    Trett and Arwen retreated quickly to the next gallery. Trett rested his hand reassuringly on the shoulder of his young student, who seemed a bit shaken.

    She took a deep breath. "Master, what were they talking about? It didn't make any sense! There is no Teaching Saga of Ragnaratt!"

    "Many people have very mistaken ideas about the Jedi," sighed Trett. "You'd be amazed what they think we're capable of. I've met some people who think we can never be killed."

    Arwen felt a pang in her heart, remembering Tyri, the woman who had been her first Master. "I wish that was true," she mumbled.

    "So do I."
    Ewok Poet, Chyntuck and Kahara like this.
  4. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    I am back from Vacay; and heard from a friend about a series of Podcasts which cover ghost stories. My October is set!

    * * *
    They wandered through the rest of the Visitor's Center, pausing to study an exhibit about the restoration and conservation of the older tombs, and found their way into the Gift Shop.

    By comparison with the vendors at the shuttle port, the gifts seemed tasteful and restrained. Still, Arwen thought it was strange that anyone would want to buy souvenirs of a cemetery. But people were lining up with statuettes of gargoyles, models, jewelry, wastebaskets, holoprints, even fountains shaped like the famous Jedi's Tomb. Trett was looking at a rack of datacards, and Arwen joined him, memorizing the titles. They should be able to request these from the Viceroy's library. There were several accounts of ghostly doings, it seemed, though the mysterious Jedi Callo was the best-known.

    "Right," said Trett, "Let's take a look at these tombs." They followed the crowds back out into the cold, under cloudy gray skies. Arwen shivered in her heavy cloak, wishing she'd put on an extra pair of socks.

    Hover trams were available for the tourists, some offering guided tours. But they chose to walk, and easily found solitude on the paths between the mausoleums.

    It was eerie walking among the silent buildings made to house the dead. Some were open for public visitation. Others had offerings of food, candles, or flowers placed around them. Arwen wandered into one, and quickly wandered out again. There were energies here, not evil or dark, necessarily, but cold and void. She hurried to catch up with her Master.

    "It feels so strange here," she whispered. Why was she whispering? No one here could overhear them.

    Trett looked up at a carved metal woman, draped in some sort of cloak, bent over in sorrow. The snow created stark, abstract patterns against the dark metal. "There has been much mourning here," he said, "visitors in sorrow. Sometimes, places can absorb those energies. That must be what you sense."

    "Could that have anything to do with the ghost?" asked Arwen. Trett pulled at his beard again.

    "An untrained Force-sensitive could interpret this energy incorrectly," he agreed. "We'll have to look into this very carefully. Tomorrow, let's schedule a meeting with the director of the Necropolis. I think his name is Gastle. I'd be curious for his take on it all."

    Arwen jumped as they passed a crypt, startled by the people staring out at her. It took a minute for her to realize that the still figures were statues, carved to resemble the occupants of the tomb, painted with life-like colors and dressed in ancient clothes that were beginning to rot. Their sightless eyes stared out of the shadows at the young apprentice as she rushed to join her master.

    Perhaps it was just the cold, but something made her very uneasy.

    Trett was looking around, trying to figure out what sort of security measures, if any, were in place. He noted a few holocams mounted unobtrusively, high up on the corners of some of the tombs. From time to time he spotted the dark blue metal of guard droids.

    It started to snow. He pulled his hood farther forward over his head as he followed the path under a series of delicate stone archways. After a few steps, he suddenly felt that Arwen was no longer in her usual place beside him. He turned quickly, suddenly anxious...

    ...and wished with all his heart that he had a holocam. Not that he really needed it. He knew he'd never forget the sight as long as he lived.

    His young Padawan stood in the center of the path, under the archways, with her hood thrown back. Her eyes were as round as moons as she stared with awe at the huge white flakes floating soundlessly all around her.

    He bit back a smile as she bent her head to study the snow that had fallen on her sleeve.

    "Is...what...this...? Is this snow?" she breathed. "It''s beautiful!"

    "Yes, this is snow." He watched as she tried to catch a flake in her hand to examine it more closely. Coruscant got lots of rain, but the high population density on the planet warmed the atmosphere too much for snow. The last recorded snow on Coruscant had been nearly 80 years ago, only a light dusting, but enough to bring the whole planet to a halt.

    He watched, amused and pleased by his young student's delight at the beauty of the snow falling around her. Myron had told him "You've got a good one there, Rendell. A no-brainer. A Hutt could turn that kid into a Knight without losing a wink of sleep. All you need to do is figure out how she lost her confidence in herself, and find a way to get it back." The problem was, he was certain she was too good for him.

    Well, he would change. He'd become a Master she could be proud of. Absently, he stroked his beard. He would start by at least looking like one. After a few minutes, he said, "Come on, we'd better get going."

    Her face fell and she tensed suddenly. "Yes, Master," she said, hurrying forward. Inwardly, he cursed. She thought he was criticizing her? He'd hoped she'd put Thera from her mind. Trett put his arm around her shoulder to reassure her, tried to send the Force to her. After a few moments, he felt her relax, which was good. He left his arm where it was as they continued through the maze of the dead.

    As they'd suspected, the Jedi's Tomb was mobbed.
    Ewok Poet, Kahara and Chyntuck like this.
  5. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    I caught up with this fic two days ago and I'm loving it! The whole concept of groupies, Jedi (Je-Dai!) artefacts and Force-related superstitions is just fabulous; so much potential for laughs here but at the same time it's obvious that Arwen and Trett are real, fleshed-out characters and that there's a story behind the laughs. I wonder where their detective work will take them; given that quote from, presumably, the villain, that's interpolated in chapter 2, it could be some pretty dark places. And I'm very curious who the actual villain will turn out to be, as there are several good options in this time period :D

    Kahara and Mistress_Renata like this.
  6. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    Thanks, Chyntuck! This is really a detective story, with spooky overtones. You'll totally figure out the baddie by the end. And I had soo much fun with the groupies! So, stay tuned for more groupie madness...

    * * *

    Huge throngs of people stood, staring at the waterfall. A few dipped flagons into the moat that flowed around the tomb, keeping the people from touching the black stone itself. Thousands of candles and sticks of incense were placed at the edge of the walkway. Some people were praying, some were throwing flower petals and offerings of money or other trinkets into the moat.

    "Master," whispered Arwen, "they're worshipping the Tomb?"

    "Or Callo," he said grimly. Both of them exchanged a look. The Council must know about this; they couldn't be happy about it.

    Trett looked around thoughtfully, then edged over to an older man, who was aiming his holocam at the candles. He was aware of a fashionably-dressed woman nearby, watching him.

    "Think the ghost will show up?" he asked.

    "I hope so," said the man. "I didn't drag three kids across two systems to look at a tomb."

    "Any idea on when?"

    "Naw, they say there's no pattern to it or anything. Probably won't show 'til after dark, when the place is closed."

    Trett nodded, then began to make his way around the corner of the tomb, surreptitiously scanning for security cams. He paused to listen to an elderly Ithorian, in light, flowing blue robes. She spoke in a strangely deep voice.

    "There is no revenge...there is justice. Those who seek with greed in their hearts will know my justice!"

    Trett looked at a woman who stood next to him, entranced.

    "Uh, excuse me, what is she doing?" he whispered.

    "SHH! That's Mwili T'al'avara! She's the famous medium! She's channeling Callo!"

    Trett stared in disbelief as the medium moved in a grotesque mimicry of saber-kata.

    "My blade will fall on those who steal!" shrieked the medium. "There is no escape from justice!" Her face softened. "But those who come with peace and trust will know the blessing of the Jedi!"

    A woman came forward, clutching a child. "Please," she begged, "ask him about my son!"

    Trett closed his eyes, drawing a shield down. The woman's pain and anxiety for her child were too strong not to feel. He wasn't here for this. If the child was sick, he should be in a hospital, under the care of doctors, not freezing in the snow in a city of the dead. Disgusted, Trett continued to make his way around the tomb. The woman he'd spotted earlier slipped through the crowds, following him.

    I'm no one, he thought, just another tourist. He moved away from the others, standing next to a disturbingly realistic statue of a skeleton holding a sword, and craned his head to see the top of Callo's tomb.

    The woman walked up to him, and smiled. "You're the real thing," she said.

    "Excuse me?"

    "You're the real Jedi, the one sent from Coruscant to investigate the ghosts. Not one of these mystical wanna-bes." She held out a hand. "Reva Nova," she said. "I'm the producer of Hauntings."

    He shook her hand doubtfully, irritated that the mind trick hadn't worked. "Hauntings?"

    "It's a holoseries, a documentary show. We investigate ghost stories all over the galaxy, mostly in the Core, of course, and report on the phenomena. You haven't seen it?"

    "I don't watch many holovids."

    "Ah. Is that part of the Jedi Code? No holovids?"

    "No. Just too busy."

    "Hm. Pity." She smiled at him again. Trett looked at her nervously. She was very attractive, about his age, with thick brown hair and hazel eyes. And she was looking him up and down with too much interest for his own comfort.

    "Listen," she said, "maybe I can help you."


    "You're supposed to investigate this ghost story. I'm trying to investigate it for the series. Maybe we up. Combine our efforts."

    "I think we have somewhat different goals."

    "I wouldn't say that. We both want to know what's really happening here."

    "Except that you want something that will be sensational enough to keep your ratings up, and I want the truth."

    Reva grinned. "I think you underestimate me," she said softly. "I have done two shows on this particular ghost already. I may have some information you'd find useful."

    Trett looked at her warily. That was probably true. But every instinct warned him to run in the other direction. Well, almost every instinct.

    "Maybe we could get together tonight?" she said, stepping closer. "Over a drink? Or...oh, okay, over herbal tea or something? Compare notes?" He could smell a faint whiff of her fragrance.

    "Aah...maybe not tonight."

    "Lunch tomorrow?"

    Trett sighed. He couldn't avoid her. "And in return?"

    "And in return I get the official Jedi perspective on their most famous ghost."

    "Well, that's easy enough. Officially, we don't believe in ghosts."

    "There must be more to it than that."


    "So if there's no such thing as ghosts, what do you suppose is going on here?"

    "Well, considering I just started my investigation, the answer is I don't know yet."

    Reva grinned. "Are you sure I can't talk you into a drink?" she said, edging closer. Trett stepped backward, wincing as one of the metal fingers of the skeleton dug into his spine.

    "Ah..." Then he stiffened at a wave of coldness, which swept over him. Something wrong. Arwen! "I have to go," he said suddenly.

    Reva's eyes twinkled. "Oh, come on, take a chance," she begged.

    "No," he said, "I really DO have to go, right now! Look, leave a message at the Chancery where I can reach you. I'll be in touch."


    "Yes!" The sense of unease grew. Quickly, he began to run down the twisting paths, threading in and out of the crowds, trying to figure out where his young Padawan had gotten to. Their bond was still so new, he didn't know how much he could rely on it. If something happened to her...
    Ewok Poet, Chyntuck and Kahara like this.
  7. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Yup. I see what's going on here. This chick is obviously putting the moves on our Master Jedi, and he is obviously terrified! [face_laugh]
    Kahara and Mistress_Renata like this.
  8. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    Well, maybe not terrified ... but absolutely nervous! ;)

    So what has Arwen been up to? (this is a bit short)

    * * *

    Arwen edged her way through the crowd, trying to make her way to the back of the monument. Many of the people seemed to be praying for healing, or money. She shook her head. Trett was talking with a middle-aged man holding a holocam. An Ithorian, who was probably going to catch her death of cold, looked as if she was trying some sort of awkward dance. She spotted a tall, dark-skinned woman in a bright red cloak, and her heart skipped a beat. No. Mistress Tyri was dead, murdered over a year ago. Arwen took a deep breath, and walked around the corner of the monument, staring into the waterfall, and trying not to trip over any candles. As she turned a corner, she felt the hair on the back of her neck rise.

    Quickly, she turned. Something disappeared around a corner, several meters away. She looked around at the other tourists, they didn't seem to have noticed. Quietly, she broke away and began to walk swiftly, trying to catch up with it. After a few moments, she began running.

    It was a figure, dressed in dark clothes. It vanished again, around a corner. She ran after it, following it through the twisting maze of walkways between the silent tombs. It dodged into the open door of one of the crypts. Arwen followed, instinctively reaching for her lightsaber. Her fingers encountered an empty hook. Nertz! I've got to get started on a new one!

    The tomb was large. Ahead of her, a long stairway sloped downwards. In the dim light, she could see the shadow, and followed. A wave of cold, of darkness swept towards her, over her, darkness, evil...she faltered. She felt the Force suddenly swell, stronger. And then something was falling on top of her! Rushing at her! She jumped back, holding up her hands. Bodies...mummified or preserved by family members long departed, they had been arranged in niches in the walls, and had been torn loose by some sort of Force wave. Now they swam towards her, with empty eye sockets, and gaping jaws.

    "YEEEEyeewww!" Arwen couldn't hold back a cry of horror, fighting to get away from the dead lunging at her. They were cold, and dry, shreds of old fabric and clothing brushing lightly at her face like spinner webs. She slipped and fell, the mummies pressing at her. And she didn't have a lightsaber! Desperately, she scrambled to her feet, drawing on the Force, and trying to push them away. She raced to the top of the staircase, towards the door of the crypt. They're dead! They're just shells! They can't hurt you! But there was someone, something in there that could!

    Shuddering, and suppressing another shriek, she almost flew out the door of the tomb, and barreled into something. She gasped, tried to jerk back, but it had caught her, wrapping its arms around her. A second later, she recognized him. Trett had been running towards her. Somehow, he'd braced himself and caught her. She burrowed against him, glad of his warmth, his solidity.

    "Are you all right?" he asked. "What happened?"

    "I...I thought I saw something. Someone in dark clothes. It went into a tomb, but...I lost it." She shivered. "Then the...the b-bodies in th-the tomb...they c-came out at me. It sent them. It...I sensed something...evil."

    Trett looked skeptical. "A ghost?"

    Arwen frowned. "I th-think it was a living person," she said, "but an evil one." She couldn't stop shaking, but she wasn't sure whether it was from the cold or from her memory.

    He noted that, and lightly stroked her head. "Come on, let's go back to the Chancery," he said gently. "We'll watch the holovid, and do some more research. We'll come back tomorrow."

    "With warmer clothes," agreed Arwen. She wrapped her cloak tightly around her, and together they walked through the snow, which no longer seemed so appealing, towards the shuttlepad.
    Ewok Poet, Chyntuck and Kahara like this.
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    About Trett: what Cowgirl said :D That scene with the holoshill was hilarious in its awkwardness. I wonder how he'll handle that in their future encounters – and I also wonder if she'll turn out to be the Rita Skeeter type, digging up dirt on everything and everyone and making it up when she can't find it.

    About Arwen: now that was creepy! There's definitely a Force user playing ghost here, and s/he is very much alive. Are we going to find out how her master was killed and how she lost her lightsaber in this story? Methinks it's the same baddie who is haunting the graveyard.
    Kahara and Mistress_Renata like this.
  10. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    No, the story of Arwen and how she lost her first Master (and her lightsaber) was a previous story, lost to truncation. :( She's getting on well with the new Master --apart from these cuckoo missions!-- but still misses the first. Tyria Ten-Jinn (no relation to Qui-Gon) was fond of the color red and had a red cloak, so when Arwen sees someone dressed in red, she feels a pang.

    I had planned to wait a few day to put up the next, but IT'S HALLOWEEN!!!!! And this is a ghost story set in a cemetery (sort of). So, here's an update, although it's not especially spooky.

    * * *
    Trett watched the holovid. Arwen begged off, preferring to start reading some of the ghost stories on the datacards the Viceroy's staff had sent up to them. She heard a few muffled sounds from his end of the room, and frowned. Could he be giggling?

    She sat at the comm panel, punching in a code. After a few minutes, an image appeared, a young girl with short, curly red hair, deep brown eyes and clear ivory skin. "Arwen! Is that you? Where are you?"

    "Hi, Emma3. I'm on a mission on Saffrilla," she said. "We need some information."


    "Of course, why else would I be calling you?"

    Emma3Jane rolled her dark eyes. "Well, maybe because I'm your friend," she said. Arwen smiled. Emma3Jane had been one or two years ahead of her, but they'd shared many good times together. Emma3 had coached her through history class, too.

    "You are my friend," said Arwen. "I've just been too busy to send many messages."

    Emma3Jane's face clouded. "I heard about Tyri," she said softly. "I'm so sorry."

    Arwen took a deep breath, and held it for a moment. Then she said, "We need to know if there were any Jedi killed on Saffrilla or in this system near the end of the Sith Wars," she said. "Any information at all. Or any information about a Jedi Master named Callo."

    "We? Who's we? I heard about Tyri, but I didn't know-"

    "Rendell Trett has taken me as his Padawan, and he's been assigned here as a Guardian of the Peace."

    "RENDELL TRETT?! Get off the planet! Are you serious? Oh, Arwen, what have you done? He can't train a Padawan!"

    Arwen took another deep breath, feeling her cheeks growing warm. "He is training me."

    "Arwen, he's been on full probation three times!"

    Arwen straightened her back. "The High Council have recognized the contract," she said, coolly, "and I am happy with it. If you could send the information I have requested, I would be very grateful."

    Emma3Jane turned red. "Arwen, I'm sorry, I'll send the information, I didn't mean-"

    Arwen switched off the transmission before her friend could finish, and sat back in her chair.

    She did know about Trett's reputation. She also knew it was largely undeserved. She looked across the room, where she could just see the top of his head over his chair. How could anyone understand what she saw in him? If he didn't follow his heart so often, he wouldn't get in so much trouble. But his heart was a good one. His impulsiveness had saved her life. She owed him a lot. She would follow him to end of the galaxy, in perfect trust and without complaint. Except one.

    How in the Force was she going to convince him to get rid of that blasted beard?

    * * *
    They might know I am here. They might not. I will find a way to get rid of them. I will claim the treasure that is rightfully ours.

    He prowled, restlessly. He had to find a way to get into that tomb.
    Ewok Poet, Chyntuck and Kahara like this.
  11. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    My favorite line from this part?

    Ewok Poet, Kahara and Mistress_Renata like this.
  12. Kahara

    Kahara Force Ghost star 4

    Mar 3, 2001
    I also love the running subplot of Arwen's anti-beard machinations. [face_laugh] Especially when we also have Trett's POV -- poor guy is just trying to look all mature and Jedi Master-like. :p

    The design of Callo's tomb sounds very unique, and as Arwen notes not what one would expect from a Jedi burial. [face_thinking] The events in the crypt were extremely unnerving. Don't think I'd want to stick around after that! [face_worried] Reminds me of a story that I heard on a podcast about a cemetery in Scotland (Greyfriars) where someone evidently was trespassing and fell into part of an old crypt. Oh, and activated some kind of curse. Of course. Because why not at that point?

    Glad to see this post for Halloween! [face_pumpkin]
    Ewok Poet and Mistress_Renata like this.
  13. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    The beard comment was indeed a welcome moment of levity in this otherwise rather sad chapter! It's hard to see Arwen's sorrow every time her late master's name is mentioned; and while it's heartwarming to see her stand up for Trett it must be a difficult situation for the two of them to face people's doubts at every turn.

    I'm guessing that Emma3Jane is Arwen's friend's user name on Spacebook Messenger; is there a particular reason Arwen doesn't refer to her by her normal name?

    And that one-liner from the anonymous villain at the end... shiversshiversshivers! Where is he? How is he watching them? And most importantly what is he after?
    Kahara likes this.
  14. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    Yup, the Battle of the Beard was a small but important part of their relationship. :D But who will win?

    It is rather grandiose for a Jedi... I've heard of that cemetery, but I've never been there. I do love a good ghost story! [face_skull]

    Nope, that was her actual name, 3rd of 3 sisters. Named after a good friend here on the boards (haven't seen her around since I've been back), so I gave her a cameo.

    And now... although Halloween is past... the weirdness continues.

    * * *

    Arwen didn't sleep well. In retrospect, it had been a mistake to read all of those ghost stories right before bed. She dreamed all night, dreamed that she was running from droid-like figures in white, while something shadowy watched, triumphant. Worst of all was the feeling of despair, the knowledge that she would not be able to escape. She woke with a cry. Trett was there a moment later. He pulled her into a warm hug, soothing her.

    "A nightmare, little one," he said. "It was just a dream."

    She shuddered. "We were betrayed..." she moaned. "He should never have promised to train..."

    "Shh, it was just a dream. Dreams don't mean anything." As reality began to filter into her head, she began to relax. It had just been a dream. She was on Saffrilla. Her Master was with her. They were safe. She sat there for a minute, absorbing his warmth, trying to remember exactly what the dream was about. But the images faded, and she was left remembering only the feeling of hopelessness.

    Trett drew back, studying her face. "We can skip the morning exercises if you like," he said, "but you may find they bring you peace. After yesterday, you probably need it."

    Arwen took a deep breath. "Yes," she said, "let's do it."

    He nodded. "We'll have to see about making you a new lightsaber, too," he said. "Maybe the great Masters can get by without one, but I'd feel better if you had one. Especially after yesterday."

    "I need a focusing crystal," said Arwen, yawning. She'd already gotten some of the parts she'd need from the engineers on the last ship. Trett nodded.

    "After this mission. We'll go on a crystal quest."

    It was difficult to get through the sendai exercises that morning. Arwen was more exhausted than when she'd gone to bed, and she yawned through the sumptuous breakfast that the Viceroy's staff had prepared. To add insult to injury, Trett looked as alert as always, and as hairy as he had the night before. Arwen glared at the soft golden down covering his chin, then bent her head to focus on the jarberries in front of her.

    "Director Gastle will meet us in two hours, and he has arranged a personal tour of the cemetery," said Trett, helping himself to more muffins.

    "Are we taking the group shuttle again?" asked Arwen.

    "No, we'll take the Viceroy's shuttle this time."

    "What are we going to do about the groupies?"

    "Ignore them."

    "They won't go away."

    "I know."

    Trett looked at Arwen. He knew she was in an off-mood. If she had described yesterday's experience correctly, then he couldn't blame her. A body was simply a shell to contain the life Force in all beings, and when the being had died, the body was harmless. But he shared her feeling that the idea of keeping a body around, decorated and preserved, in its own special house was just...well, creepy. No wonder she'd had nightmares.

    The groupies were out in force when their shuttle landing, and sent up a huge cheer as they disembarked. Under her hood, Arwen made a face. You'd think we just saved the galaxy or something!

    They walked towards the Center. It seemed to them that the crowd milling around outside was larger than usual, and excited about something. They made their way through to the entrance, through the crowd who parted in front of them, and stopped to look at the wall. Ugly marks marred the polished white stone. Trett and Arwen stared at the letters:


    A tall, good-looking man, in a well-tailored robe of blue-gray silk, came towards them, scowling. His graying blonde hair was brushed back from his forehead in a long, thick mane. "Master Trett, welcome to Necropolis," he said. "I wish I could have arranged a more pleasant welcome for you."

    The two Jedi stepped closer to study the marks.

    "When did this happen?" asked Trett quietly.

    "Last night," said Gastle. "There was nothing on the security cameras. They just appeared. Burned into the wall; looks like a pyrocutter or a blaster."

    Arwen touched one of the letters. The stone had scorched, almost melted smooth. "Or a lightsaber," she whispered softly. Only Trett heard her, and he frowned in her direction.

    "I suppose our supernatural visitor isn't enthralled at the prospect of a visit from his colleagues," said Gastle glumly. Arwen looked at him curiously, while Trett raised an eyebrow.

    "Do you actually believe in ghosts, Director Gastle?" he said politely.

    "Well, no, but something did this."

    "Someone," said Arwen. She thought of the dark thing that she had chased the day before.

    Gastle sighed. "I've arranged a tour of the Visitor's Center, and some of the tombs."

    "Thank you," said Trett. "We actually visited Necropolis yesterday, but I'd be interested in seeing it from your perspective." Briefly, he described Arwen's experience of the day before. Gastle's face clouded as he ushered them into the warmth of the Center.

    "Yes, vandalism has increased since the film aired. I'm sorry you weren't able to catch him. We wondered what had happened there."

    "Why was the tomb open?" asked Arwen.

    "Some families wanted to be sure that their relatives could be venerated for eternity. So a few of the tombs were designed to ensure that visitors could enter and admire those resting there."

    "Admire corpses?" said Arwen, repressing a shudder.

    "Oh, some are in remarkable states of preservation." Gastle frowned again. "Unfortunately, the jewelry and valuables are a temptation for grave robbers. And this story of a Jedi treasure --I don't suppose it's true?-- only fuels the flame. In the last three years, we've discovered pieces at auction that could only have come from the crypts of Necropolis." He sighed. "The conservators have already sealed off that vault, and are working to restore the remains to their proper niches."

    He guided them through the exhibits, and stopped at the model of Crypt 1138. "We have so little documentation of what happened here," he said. "Would there be anything in the Jedi records to fill in the blanks?"

    "We've requested information from the Temple archives," said Arwen, "We hope to get a response in a day or so."

    "However, Director, I sincerely doubt that there is any hidden Jedi treasure," added Trett. "It would have been retrieved long before now, assuming it existed in the first place." A sudden memory crossed Arwen's mind. What if it wasn't a Jedi treasure that Callo had been guarding?
    Ewok Poet likes this.
  15. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Okay, the mysterious baddie doesn't want to be found, but seriously, does he really think that he can scare Trett and Arwen away? That's not how the Jedi work!

    I'm very curious about Arwen's dream. I suspect that it was a lot more than just a dream, and that it has to do with the aforementioned baddie.

    And that's a smart thought from a smart girl: what if there was a treasure, just not a Jedi treasure? And what could it be that the baddie would want? I have an idea here, but I'll wait until the next update to express it.

    PS: Corpses aren't meant to be admired, however well preserved they are. Yuck!
    Mistress_Renata likes this.
  16. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    I think I was inspired by the Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo. A rather creepy tourist attraction (I've never been there, just seen pictures). Ah, the mysterious figure in black! Dun dun DUUUUNNN.... :cool:

    There is a super short chapter. The next one is longish, with more groupie madness.

    * * *
    Trett looked around as Gastle led the way to his office. "Has the Visitor's Center been here long?"

    "Oh, no. It was constructed about three years ago. Since that book was published, we've had over seven million visitors a year."

    "Interesting. And the ghost...?"

    "Well, as to the phenomena..." Gastle settled them in comfortable couches. "Tea? Caff?"

    "Nothing, thanks."

    Gastle settled himself. "I confess, Master Trett, I'm afraid the Viceroy has you out on a wild Tarff chase. While I would be glad to see an end to the vandalism and grave robbing, I don't think you'll be able to convince any of our visitors that there is a rational explanation to what's been going on here. People believe what they want to believe. And it seems your arrival has only stirred things up."

    "That's true," agreed Trett. "Still, I'd like to know more about the phenomena."

    Gastle nodded. "There have been sightings, mostly," he said. "Visitors, docents and guards have all reported seeing a Jedi in the area of the tomb. A team of scientists, who came here to do some studies on it, reported that a young man in white told them to leave the tomb and go away. They were unable to discover an entrance to the tomb, and later discovered that all of their equipment wasn't working. The instrument readings were void, and all of the power cells had been drained." He nodded. "That's happened before, including with film crews."

    "Like the Hauntings crew?" asked Trett. Gastle grinned.

    "Have you met Reva? She's a good one to talk to, I've worked with her several times."

    "Have any of these apparitions shown up on the security equipment?"

    "Only in the last three months. We've had two sightings." Gastle queued up a recording, and they sat in silence, watching the vid on a two-dimensional screen. It wasn't much to look at; a figure in a white cowl moving soundlessly from one side of the screen to the other.

    "Shots from other camera angles show nothing," said Gastle. "The recording hasn't been tampered with. We can't explain it."

    "What about the other sighting?"

    "Ah. This one happened last week, shortly after closing." He hit the controls again. This showed the top of Callo's tomb. A figure in black moved there, and disappeared behind the large metal Jedi seal at the top of the waterfall. Arwen felt her insides curdle. It was impossible to make out for sure, but it looked like the thing she'd chased yesterday.

    Trett pulled out a datapad and punched up his notes. Arwen had started to try to track sightings of the ghost, based on her readings. "Do you have records of the sightings?" he asked. "Is there any special time that the ghost is seen?"

    "Usually just before or just after opening, when the crews are working." Gastle leaned his head back. "There was one occasion when a child fell into the moat. Rescuers reported that he was just...expelled from the water. He said a Jedi Knight pushed him to the surface. That was in late afternoon, about ten years ago."

    "If I could get copies of those occurrences..."

    "Of course. I'm willing to cooperate in any way."

    "I'd like to interview the members of your staff who claim to have been in contact with the spirit."

    Gastle hesitated. "That may take a day or so to arrange," he said, "but I'll do my best. Ah, will you also want to interview the visitors, too? Some claim to be in, er, contact with the, ahem, entity."

    "I don't think I need a séance, thank you, Director," said Trett. "But I'd like to see more of your security vids, and talk with your security chief."

    “Oh, certainly. We mostly use guard droids and remote drones, though we augment that with live staff during the daytime. There's usually two people here overnight in the command center, alternating shifts at the monitors. The drones have caught a few grave robbers, but not many. Mostly amateurs."

    Trett leaned back and glanced towards Arwen. "Well, maybe we should have another look at the tombs."

    "Certainly. Come with me." He led them outside. Arwen shivered, and pulled her cloak around her. Even with extra socks she was still freezing.
    Ewok Poet and Chyntuck like this.
  17. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    So. The mysterious ghost drains batteries and causes recording equipment to malfunction, except in two instances – in one case, he's dressed in white, in the other case, in black. So. Ahem. Is it even the same person in both cases? Because all the other references seem to be about a character in white; the only sighting of the dude in black would be Arwen, right?

    I love how you bring things back to a totally down-to-earth level at the end of the chapter. That last line about the extra socks had me in stitches [face_laugh]
    Mistress_Renata likes this.
  18. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    ;) You are far too smart, Chyntuck!

    This next chunk is longish, but there wasn't really a good spot to break it.

    * * *

    The facilities were more extensive than they'd realized. Arwen and Trett looked at the memorial hall, and the Commemoration room. The crematorium was interesting, using a blast of pure energy to reduce bodily remains to a fine powder.

    "The crematory isn't used that much, anymore," added Gastle. "There are a few families who want to be interred with their ancestors, and with very little space left here, the only way to include them in their family crypts is to turn them to ash."

    "Necropolis is still an active burial site?" asked Arwen curiously.

    "Not so much. There isn't much room left. Necropolis will close for new interments next year. Necropolitana is almost full, and we will have to close that off within three years. Necrolia has some space left, but we're instituting restrictions on the crypts being built there, to maximize capacity." Gastle led them back outside, through the twisting walkways. "We're trying to encourage cremation or alternative disposition methods. Unfortunately, the people are attached to the idea of venerating their ancestors by preserving their bodies as much as possible. And preservation methods have improved so much in the last 200 years, that we can keep bodies indefinitely."

    Trett looked down at his young apprentice. She was turning a delicate shade of green. "How interesting," he murmured. "Tell me, Director, was there a great deal of damage at the tomb yesterday?"

    "Our conservation staff is working there this morning, making an assessment. Here, come this way, I'll introduce you."

    He led them outside to a hovertram, and drove to the looming marble hall where Arwen had chased the dark person, introducing them to the team of conservators trying to preserve the tombs. Trett examined the bodies, which had been neatly arranged in rows, waiting to be returned to their niches. Arwen looked down the stairs into the darkness, where the person had vanished.

    "This will all be kept at the Visitor's Center," Gastle explained, gesturing to a few trays of jewelry that the staff had removed. "Some of it is put on display. Most of it is just being kept safe."

    "Hm." Trett looked at the conservators. "What do you think about the rumor of the treasure in Crypt 1138?"

    "Callo's tomb?" The chief conservator, Cal Avinn, brushed a wisp of hair out of her face. "It's possible, I suppose. We haven't been able to figure out where the entrance is yet."

    "Isn't there any record?"

    "No. Alliolo destroyed his prints and plans after the construction of the tomb, and wiped the memories of the construction droids. We've been trying to figure out how to get in there for three years."

    "Is that when the strange occurrences started?"

    "Well, there have been sightings for some time now. But yes, most of the strange things that have happened have been since we began trying to gain access to that tomb."

    "Have you witnessed anything like this yourself?"

    "No, not really. Mostly, our tools have gone missing, our instruments have been tampered with. And...just...strange things happen. It's just...How can I describe it? Just a feeling that we shouldn't be interfering. That's all."

    "But you've never seen the ghost?"

    "No apparitions. Nothing like that. Just...a feeling. I know that sounds strange."

    "Not so strange. We are taught to rely on our feelings." Trett crouched on the ground, looking at the trays. "Have you noticed much jewelry missing from the crypts?"

    The conservator sighed. "I'd say that about half of the tombs we access show evidence that grave goods have been stolen. Usually jewelry, but sometimes other offerings. It's one thing when people offer flowers or candles, but there are other, more valuable items that people boxes, fine art, money...and I know these are missing."

    "And the incident yesterday?"

    Avinn nodded. "A few of the bodies were damaged," she said sadly.

    Trett hesitated before asking "Is there any way it could have been a natural occurrence? An earthquake, perhaps, that knocked them out of their niches?" He felt Arwen stir beside him, hurt to think that he didn't trust her account. He wanted to believe her, he knew her too well to think she'd be making it up, and her horror had been real, but he wanted to eliminate any other possible explanation.

    Avinn looked at the rest of her staff uneasily. "No," she said quietly. "Look." She led the way down the hallway, and shone a handlamp at one of the niches, where the withered body of an elegantly dressed woman stood upright.

    "Do you see?" she said. "There are bands here...and here..." she gestured, "secured into the wall with bolts. Now see..." She led the Jedi to one of the empty niches, and held up a bolt lying on the ground. "You can see by the way the threads have been stripped that it was torn out of the wall by some tremendous force." The conservator giggled nervously. "Sorry. No pun intended."

    Trett took the bolt, rolling it in his hand thoughtfully. "May I keep this?" he asked.

    "Certainly. We'll need to replace all of them."

    Trett looked down the stairs into the darkness. "What's down there?"

    "Two more levels."

    Arwen shifted restlessly. She couldn't stay here another minute. Glancing at her master for permission, she ducked out of the crypt and wandered towards the Jedi's Tomb, threading her way through the crowds. Today, they were there officially. She tried to ignore the whispers and curious stares, and averted her head as much as possible to avoid their cams.

    The tall man who she had overheard in the Visitor's Center the day before came up to her and bowed to her. "May the Force be with you, Padawan!" he boomed. Arwen inclined her head.

    "May you go in peace," she murmured, trying to nudge her way past him. It was time she looked more carefully at the tomb. Perhaps she could use the Force to sense the opening. A woman rushed up to her, holding a baby.

    "Please," she said, "my baby! Is there anything you can do?"

    Arwen looked at the baby. He was listless, feverish in his mother's arms. "Why don't you take him to the hospital?"

    The woman stared at her. "Rely on establishment medicine? But...but alternative methods--"

    "Are sometimes useful. But in nearly every case, established treatments work extremely well if you decide to apply them," said Arwen. "If he was my baby, I'd get him in out of the cold and to the Med Center as quickly as I could."

    Everyone gaped at her.

    "But- but the Force--" sputtered the tall man. Arwen looked at him seriously.

    "We are taught 'Never use the Force when you can take the stairs.' It is a tool. But it is not the only tool. Now if you will all excuse me, I have a job to do here." They fell back, still gaping at her. Arwen took advantage of their shock to slip around the corner of the crypt.

    She reached out to the Force, then relaxed, and drew her attention to the tomb. Nothing was alive in there. She reached further, and felt something strange. Something cold. She went deeper, reached further.

    He's still here. Arwen jerked, and turned at the voice. She didn't know who was still here, but this was important. And he was watching her. She turned to stare, looking around again, looking up the alley, which twisted through a series of elaborate metal gates. The evil thing seemed weaker. Moving away? Someone tugged at her arm.

    She jumped, and turned to stare at a rather plain, middle-aged woman, not entirely human. The woman was very small, crouched over furtively, and she brushed wisps of graying hair out of her eyes.

    "They've spoken to me!" she whispered.

    "Who?" said Arwen, nervously.

    The woman grabbed Arwen's sleeve, and peered over her shoulder. "The midichlorians!" she said. "They've spoken to me!"

    "The midichlorians have spoken to you..." repeated Arwen slowly. The woman was sincere, but Arwen didn't sense the Force around her. She was clearly half insane.

    "Yes! It's very important! The Prophecy will soon be fulfilled! You must alert the others!" The woman's pale eyes sparkled unnaturally.

    "The Prophecy will be fulfilled?" The woman nodded, emphatic. Arwen cast back in her mind; the Masters of the past had made many prophecies. "Uh, and which prophecy would that be?"

    "The great Prophecy! He is coming! The Chosen One! You must be ready!" The woman continued to nod, and Arwen gently extricated herself.

    "Oookay, thank you, I'll, uh, make sure to pass that on."

    The woman bobbed. "Be ready!" she hissed. Arwen retreated around another corner of the Tomb, and looked back. These people were all nuts!
    Ewok Poet likes this.
  19. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Oh this chapter had so many goodies! The groupies of course, but all sorts of little nuggets of awesome. For instance:
    Maybe not intended on behalf of the conservator, but on behalf of the author? Who would've thunk? [face_laugh]
    Now you need to write a fic in which Yoda teaches younglings, "Never use the Force when take the stairs you can."
    Well, maybe this woman is a bit crazy, but methinks she's onto something :p

    And now, the real question. Who is it that whispered "he's still here" in Arwen's ear? Because I still think that [hl=black]there are two "ghosts" at work in this story; one of them is the baddie in black robes, but who's the other one?[/hl] Also, why isn't there an entrance to Callo's tomb? There's got to be something in there for the entrance to be so well hidden.
    Mistress_Renata likes this.
  20. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    Absolutely on the right track, Chyntuck! Asking all the right questions! :D

    * * *

    Arwen bit her lip, returning to her real concern. Go after the dark thing or focus on the Tomb? She shook her head. She didn't want to go after the person unarmed again. She dropped to her knees, ignoring the snow, and moving a few memorial candles out of the way. Silently, she began to think through the litany of the mantara... "There is no fear, there is strength. There is no anger, there is peace. There is no hatred, there is the Force." She felt someone move to stand at her shoulder, and she ignored him. "There is no fear, there is strength. There is no anger, there is-"

    The Force.

    Screams of terror jolted her out of her reverie, and she leaped to her feet, instinctively reaching for her lightsaber. Stang! In a moment, she realized what everyone was screaming about. The waterfall continued to rush softly down the polished black sides of the pyramid tomb...but the water had turned a viscous, dark red, foaming pink in the moat below. Blood.

    Some people were running away, screaming. Others dropped to their knees, moaning and praying. Arwen looked around to see who had been standing near her, but saw no one.

    "It's a sign! It is the Curse of Callo!" The Ithorian ran by, shrieking. "All who attempt to desecrate my grave will perish in blood!"

    Arwen leaned forward, squinting suspiciously at the thick fluid. She cupped her hand, and dipped it cautiously into the moat. It was knife-cold. Thick, sticky. Cautiously, she sniffed at it, tasted with the tip of her tongue.

    She found a discarded container that must once have held refreshment, and dipped it into the fluid. Then she found her commlink.


    He responded immediately. "Yes, what is it?"

    "I think you had better come here to the Tomb. The waterfall has been tampered with somehow. It looks like blood, and people are panicking."

    There was a brief pause, then he responded, "We'll be right there."

    The first thing to do, she thought, is to calm people. She looked up at the red water. Something shimmered there, something pale. She looked more closely. Must be her reflection. Arwen stood up, and began to walk among whoever was left in the crowd, trying to reassure them. If the dark person was still there, he'd have to wait.

    * * *

    The lower levels of the vandalized crypt were dark and very cold. Trett flashed the handlamp around at the walls and the floor, while reaching out with the Force. There was nothing there. Nothing living, that is. He could sense the life-force of Gastle and his staff, their uneasiness. But apart from that, nothing. He paused, looking down at the floor, and crouched to peer at it more closely in the dim light.

    "Do these lower levels get any visitors?" he asked.

    "No, there's no light source," replied Avinn. "We blocked this entrance with a gate. As you can see, that's gone, too."

    Trett flashed the light at the wall, looking at hinges which had been twisted apart by some enormous force. He looked back at the floor. "Who's been down here since yesterday?"

    "Well, let's see...your apprentice didn't get to the bottom of the stairs, so that would be a guard and myself."

    "And that's all?"

    "Yes, that's all."

    Trett squinted at the dust. There seemed to be three different sets of footprints. He could be mistaken, of course. Or Avinn could be wrong. Or...someone else had been down there. Something he was sure of. Ghosts did not leave footprints.

    His commlink bleeped. "Master?"

    Arwen. "Yes, what is it?" he asked.

    "I think you had better come here to the Tomb. The waterfall has been tampered with somehow. It looks like blood, and people are panicking."

    He looked up the stairs at Avinn and Gastle. "A disturbance at Callo's Tomb," he said. "Sounds like more vandalism."

    "What kind?" asked Avinn anxiously.

    "A waterfall that turns to blood." He heard them gasp, and answered his Padawan, "We'll be right there."

    Most of the visitors who were brave enough to remain were huddled in a small group at a safe distance, staring in horrified fascination at the red liquid pouring down the sides of the pyramid. Reva Nova was there with a few camdroids, directing them to take shots of the water, and the horrified crowd. She looked up as Trett approached, with her eyes sparkling.

    Arwen was waiting, holding a small cup.

    "What's that?" he asked.

    "I took a sample. I don't think it's really blood." Trett sniffed at it, and peered down into the depths of the cup. The liquid was separating, with a heavy layer of some yellowish material at the bottom, red stuff coagulating at the center, and clear, thin liquid at the top.

    "No, I think you're right. Miss Avinn, could your staff analyze this? I'm guessing they'll find dye with some sort of thickener."

    Avinn took it, frowning at it thoughtfully. Trett looked up towards the top of the pyramid. Already the liquid was beginning to thin, and the water was turning paler again.

    "Mr. Gastle, is there a way to get up there?"

    "Not that I'm aware of." Trett looked at Avinn.

    "How do you do maintenance?" he asked.

    "We don't," said Avinn, simply. "We've never had to. The alloy on the seal has never needed polishing, and the waterfall has flown continuously since Aliollo completed the Tomb."

    "Where does the water come from?" asked Arwen.

    "We don't know. We think it's from some natural spring."

    Trett sighed. "Director Gastle, I know you said most of Aliollo's materials had been destroyed. Is there anything left at all?"

    Gastle nodded. "Very little. A few letters."

    Trett looked at Arwen. "Willing to do some digging?"


    Trett looked at Gastle. "And I think I'd like to look through your security tapes."

    Gastle shook his head. "You've got quite a job ahead of you."

    "Then I'd better get started. I'll meet you back at the Visitor's Center." Gastle moved to consult with Avinn and a security guard, while Trett looked at the water flowing down the sides of the pyramid. It was paler, almost clear again. Arwen stood beside him.

    Trett turned to Reva Nova, who was walking up to him.

    "This should interest your viewers," he said.

    "I'll say! Nice dramatic curse stuff." She smiled at Arwen. "Hi."

    "This is my apprentice, Arwen-dai Istarri. Arwen, this is Reva Nova. She produces Hauntings, a holovid series of ghost stories."

    "So the walls of the Jedi's Tomb run with blood? What's your reaction?"

    "It's not blood," said Arwen, scowling.

    "It does seem as if someone is trying to perpetuate a hoax. The conservation staff will analyze it to figure out exactly what it is," explained Trett.

    Reva frowned thoughtfully. "Who would do that?" she wondered.

    "Excellent question," said Trett. "You wouldn't have any ideas, would you, Miss Nova?"

    She stared at him, shocked. Then she got angry. "No way!" she said. "I may push things for dramatic effect, but I don't need to lie!"

    "I hope that's true." Her eyes narrowed, and he sighed. "I am not accusing you, Miss Nova. But I don't believe in ghosts, and this only convinces me that someone is deliberately creating these 'phenomena.' Until I can find out more, you will understand that I need to consider all avenues."

    She frowned. "'re off the hook. For now."

    He hesitated. "Maybe we should continue this discussion," he said. "I think I promised you dinner?"

    She smiled. "You did."

    "Are you free tonight?"

    "I certainly am."

    "Fine. Let's get together."

    "So you can pick my brain?"

    "Yes. And I'd appreciate it if you would bring copies of the episodes you did on the hauntings at Necropolis. I'd like to borrow them."

    "Oh. Okay. Anything else? The jewels of Emperess Vree'da? The four tomes of Mibni Apoxy?"

    "No, just the holovids would be fine." Reva smiled.

    "Ah, but you'll pay, Jedi. I'll meet you at Limiro's, on River Court. Tonight, about...nineteen-hundred?"

    "That's fine." Trett glanced at Arwen, who was shuffling her feet, impatient to get to the records. "We'll meet you then."

    Reva smiled at him, and nodded at the girl. "I'll look forward to it," she said. She turned her attention back to her droids, and Arwen looked up at Trett.

    "Let's get started," she urged.

    He looked up to the summit of Callo's tomb. He really wanted to get up there to see it for himself. It would have to wait. He nodded at his impatient student, and they began to trudge along the snowy path towards the Visitor's Center. They had a long afternoon ahead.
  21. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Me again, and with more guesses and questions!

    My guess is that Aliollo [hl=black]set up a Force-activated device that turns the water red[/hl]. My question is why? And also, was Aliollo himself [hl=black]Force-sensitive[/hl] and was he even a different person that [hl=black]Callo[/hl]?

    I'm very much looking forward to the dinner with Reva thingie. There's just enough of Rita Skeeter in her to make it a double-edged sword!

    But first, let's see the security records, Aliollo's missing archives and the exact nature of that dye. I can smell more clues coming and I am already rubbing my hands with excitement!
    Mistress_Renata likes this.
  22. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    So sorry, I meant to put up the next installment last night, but the boards were so wonky, I wouldn't dare! I won't say whether you are getting warmer or colder, Chyntuck; since of course the fun is guessing!

    And tonight... "It's not a date!":D
    * * *

    "You'd better hurry, Master. You'll be late for your date."

    "It's not a date." Rendell Trett leaned closer to the mirror, squinting critically at his reflection. His hair did not want to cooperate. Arwen knelt on a nearby chair, watching with an indulgent look.

    "It's a business meeting," he added, angrily swiping the offending strands with a brush.


    "It is! Are you sure you don't want to come? Reva didn't seem to mind."

    "Oh, no, Master, I wouldn't dream of intruding."

    "You wouldn't be intruding." In fact, he thought, it would be something of a relief to have her along as a buffer. Reva was very attractive. He was human enough to admit that. And she seemed to be very interested. But when this mission was over, who knew where he'd be sent? It was easier simply not to contemplate that sort of thing in the first place. It was the reason Jedi never married. Their duty made it almost impossible.

    He swiped a polish cloth over his belt and the tops of his boots.

    "She is very pretty," said Arwen.

    "I didn't notice," growled Trett. Was his Padawan laughing at him?

    Arwen frowned, and leaned forward. "Hm..."

    Trett eyed her warily. "What?"

    "Is that a spot on your tunic?"

    He looked down in horror. "Where?!"

    "Oops, no, just a shadow. Never mind." He glared at her again. Her eyes were dancing, and she was barely...barely repressing a grin.

    "Laugh while you can, Padawan," he retorted. She giggled. He stared at her in shock, and turned away to suppress his own smile. Inwardly, he was rejoicing. She hadn't been his apprentice for very long. In that short time, she rarely seemed to smile. Force knew, she hadn't had much to smile about for the last year and a half. And...thinking about it, he had to admit he couldn't ever remember hearing her laugh. This had to be a good sign. Even if she was laughing at him. This was to be encouraged.

    Satisfied finally that not a single fingerprint marred the glossy leather of his boots, he straightened up and looked over at her. "Are you sure you don't want to come?"

    "I'm sure. I want to read some more."

    "No, not those ghost stories again. Read something else. History, astrophysics, trashy romances...anything that isn't mission related." He thought for a minute. "How are you coming on that new lightsaber?"

    Arwen nodded. "I need to find a grip," she said, "and a focusing crystal. I've got almost everything else, though, I think."

    "Good. I don't like the idea of you going around without it." He glanced at the time. He had to leave soon.

    "Want me to bring you anything from the restaurant?" he asked.

    She shook her head and rolled her eyes. "The way the Viceroy's staff has been treating us, you'd be better off inviting Miss Nova here!"

    "True." He smiled at her warmly. "Right, I'm off."

    A cloud crossed her face. "Um, are you forgetting anything?" she asked delicately.

    He looked down at himself. Boots, pants, tunic, cloak, belt. Lightsaber, ID, credit chit, datapad. "No, I think I've got everything," he said. "Do you see anything missing?"

    She sighed heavily. "No, I guess not," she said.

    "Okay. I don't know what time I'll be back. Don't stay up too late, and don't read any more ghost stories before bed."

    "I won't, Master. Good night."

    "Good night." He walked out the door. Something had bothered her, there at the end. They'd been talking easily, and her mood had changed. Perhaps she was upset that he was going out without her? He'd said she could come. She couldn't be jealous of Reva, could she? No, that wasn't it. Something else was bothering her, something he'd said. Something he'd done? Or...something he hadn't done? It was still bothering him as he slipped into the cloudcar to head to the restaurant.

    Arwen continued to sit in the chair after he'd left. After a moment, she sighed, and got up to straighten his kit. She'd hoped that if he was spending an important evening with a beautiful holoproducer that he'd at least shave first. She hoped this Reva person didn't like beards, or he'd never get rid of it. Arwen picked up the bottle of depilatory foam, frowning at it. He didn't seem to get it at all.

    She remembered something Tyri had once said. "Human males are wonderful creatures," her mistress had drawled, chewing on a stalk of grass, "but they have no head for subtlety. If you want to give them a message, the best way is to paint it on a slab of hakki wood and hit them over the head with it."

    It seemed extreme to Arwen, but she was beginning to think her old Mistress was right. Trett certainly wasn't picking up on any of the signals she'd been trying to send. She was going to have to resort to other measures. She stood there for a few minutes, considering several possibilities.

    After a while, she was ready to admit defeat. Granted, there was nothing in the 298 Articles of the Jedi Code that specifically said a Padawan couldn't slip something into her Master's tea and get rid of his beard while he was unconscious, but she was pretty certain that it wasn't exactly behavior that would meet acceptance with the Council. She looked at the offending bottle again. She'd give him one more chance, one more hint...maybe not so subtle this time...
    Ewok Poet and Chyntuck like this.
  23. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Force Ghost star 5

    Dec 21, 2016
    Beard - 1, Arwen - 0 :D
    Mistress_Renata likes this.
  24. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Jul 11, 2014
    Oh, no, it's not a date, not a date at all. Just an evening where Trett gets all dressed up to go out for dinner with a pretty woman.

    Like Cowgirl said, the beard won... for now. I wonder what Arwen will come up with next.

    I can't say I particularly like the idea of Arwen remaining alone with that creep in black robes floating around. It would make for a doubly creepy scene if he turned up in the middle of one of her ghost stories. But then maybe he's busy haunting the cemetery instead of looking for her?
    Mistress_Renata likes this.
  25. Mistress_Renata

    Mistress_Renata Manager Emeritus star 5 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Sep 9, 2000
    "We have not yet begun to fight!" :p
    This doesn't really happen that often, so he's definitely (and justifiably!) nervous. Reva is a very determined woman! Will he emerge with his secrets --and virtue-- intact? Stay tuned!

    (This bit is rather long, but there was no good place to crop it).
    * * *

    The restaurant was one of the most popular in Tonkata. Trett and Reva Nova were seated at a small, quiet table on the outdoor terrace overlooking the river, and punched their orders into the terminal.

    Reva looked extremely beautiful, in a simple tunic of deep blue silk, embroidered in an intricate interlacing design. She inhaled the fragrance of the flowers drifting on the evening air and smiled. "Hope you like seafood," she said.

    "Love it," he said sincerely.

    "You didn't bring your apprentice?"

    "She decided she'd rather stay in. I told her to take it easy tonight, but I suspect she's doing more research." He grinned crookedly. "She works too hard, I think."

    "Like her Master?"

    "Me? No, I've learned to relax when the opportunity presents itself." He looked hopefully at the small case Reva had placed on the ground. "Are those the holovids?"

    "Yes, these are the other episodes we've done. I'm looking forward to getting your opinion of them."

    "Well...I'm sure they'll be very entertaining."

    Reva laughed, munching on a crispstik. "Are you always this diplomatic?"

    "No, it's an effort. Anyone who knows me would tell you that."

    "So you saw the other film?" She dipped another crispstik in the hauli sauce, and offered it to him.

    "Blades of Darkness?" Trett tried to suppress a grin. "Yes, I did."

    "What did you think?" He hesitated, and Reva laughed. "You don't need to be polite, I wasn't associated with the production at all."

    "I thought it was the funniest thing I've ever seen in my life," he admitted. "The whole end with the lightsaber battle nearly killed me." He looked thoughtful. "I knew that many people have misperceptions of who we are and what we do, but I didn't realize how far out those beliefs were."

    "And your take on the folks who are here on Necropolis?"

    "The groupies? Off the record..."

    "Oh, sure." Reva finished off her share of the crispstiks, and concentrated on her soup.

    "I wish they'd find something more constructive to do with their time." He looked into her eyes, completely unaware of the impact he had on her. "Our lives are not nearly as glamorous or exciting as everyone seems to think they are. The Force gives us some unusual abilities, but we are as fallible as any other beings. We are sworn to serve and help where we can, but our real role –I think-- is to encourage people to do things for themselves. So many times we are asked to intervene and put things 'right,' when the people involved in the dispute know all along what is right and just don't want to admit it." He blushed, and sat back so that the serving droid could put his plate down. "Right," he said, "enough speeches from me. Let's get down to business."

    Reva sighed. "I don't see why," she teased, "this is much more entertaining."

    "What do you think about this ghost?"

    Reva leaned back, thoughtfully sipping a glass of wine. "I think that there's something here," she said finally. "But I'm not sure what. I don't really believe in ghosts, either. But enough different people have seen or experienced something."

    Trett looked at his datapad, studying the chronology of sightings that Arwen had compiled. "The sightings are recorded back as far as 300 years ago," he said, "but it's only in the last three years that they appear to have become frequent. Or widely known. Which says to me that something happened three years ago that we need to be aware of."

    Reva shrugged. "Nothing special that I'm aware of. The Visitor Center was built."

    Trett tasted the broiled riverfish thoughtfully, absently appreciating the delicate blend of spices that flavored it. "Were there many visitors prior to that?" he asked.

    "A handful, I think." Reva tasted her noodle dish, and speared a piece of pakki. "Mm. Good." She swallowed, wiped butter sauce off her chin, then continued "Gastle become Director about five years ago, and spearheaded the idea of the Visitor's Center. He launched the fundraising drive, and interest in Necropolis picked up. But it wasn't until the Visitor's Center opened that people really began coming here."

    "Was that before or after the story of the ghost got about?"

    Reva looked at Trett thoughtfully. "You think there's a connection?"

    "I don't know. It seems too much of a coincidence."

    Reva tasted more pasta. "Some people would say that the ghost was disturbed by the changes to its familiar haunts. Or viewed the increase of visitors as a threat to the treasure."

    "Hmm. And what's the story on the curse?" Trett ate in silence for a while. Reva studied him, admiring his dark golden hair, and the long dark eyelashes framing warm, sherry-brown eyes. She sighed.

    "Oh, there's a story that Callo put a Curse on anyone who tried to get into the tomb. Whoever it was would die a horrible death. The usual sort of thing."

    "That's where I'm convinced this story is rubbish," said Trett. "Apart from the fact that Jedi don't have any power to put curses on anybody, no Jedi Master worthy of the name would even consider it. If he was trying to protect some sort of treasure, he'd find some other way, like a force field or a really good hiding place."

    "Yes, what about the treasure?" she asked.

    Trett looked startled. "Treasure?"

    "Is there the chance that there is some missing Jedi treasure locked up in Callo's tomb?"

    Trett shook his head. "There are always possibilities, but in this case I doubt it very much. If the Jedi Order had lost a treasure here on Saffrilla, they would have tried to retrieve it long before now. And when I received this assignment, the High Council certainly never said anything about a treasure. I suspect it's just a romantic embroidery."

    He finished his fish, and signaled for the droid to come take his plate. "Dessert?"

    "Of course! I recommend the double-chocolate parfait cake."

    Trett shook his head. "No chocolate," he explained. Reva stared.

    "No chocolate? Is THAT in the Jedi Code?"

    Trett nodded. He explained, "It's in there under the 'no mood altering substances' rule. It's reserved for medicinal and emergency use only."

    Reva shook her head. "And to think when I was a kid, I used to wish I could be a Jedi! That would have changed my mind pretty fast! You don't mind?"

    Trett shrugged. "If you've never had it, you don't really miss it. I had some once...didn't like it, actually. Too sweet." He punched in his order for stewed globefruit in berry sauce, and leaned back.

    "Gastle said that your crew had experienced some strange things while you were working on your two episodes. What sorts of things?" he asked

    "Oh, just things going missing..." Reva looked out at the river. "My droids' programming went screwy, some vids got messed up... it was more like petty vandalism, and it was almost always in the vicinity of Crypt 1138."

    "But you never saw anything? Or heard anything?" Reva hesitated.

    "Well...okay, this is going to sound stupid. But there were times when...when I was working there alone, filming real early in the morning before the crowds got there...and I felt as if I weren't alone. You know how you can sense, sort of, if someone walks up and stands near you? Well, that's what it was like. And I thought once--"

    He waited patiently for her to continue, then prompted, "You thought once what?"

    She sighed, poking at her cake. "I could have sworn once that I heard someone speak to me. I was trying to get a shot of the waterfall, trying to catch a reflection of it, and I could have sworn I heard a voice saying 'Be careful.' I figure it was an overactive imagination."

    Trett thoughtfully chased a piece of globefruit around the plate with his spoon. Reva took another delicious mouthful of double-chocolate parfait, and cocked her head.

    "So?" she said. "Care to give me anything I can use?"

    He sighed. "Officially? I think something is going on here, but I'm not willing to attribute it to supernatural beings. I don't believe in ghosts, I don't think a Jedi would put a curse on anything, and the Temple has no record of any missing treasure. If it helps, you can say that I find it all very disturbing." He grinned. "Besides, you have the river of blood."

    Reva looked at him. "You think that was faked." Trett nodded.

    "I'm sure of it," he said, "and I hope the conservator's tests will prove it tomorrow. I'm sorry, I'm afraid I haven't been very helpful."

    Reva shrugged. "Don't worry, I've made bigger stories out of less." Trett covered dinner, sliding the credit chit through the reader, and together they left the restaurant, heading back to her hotel. He paused at a street vendor to buy a small packet of spiced vweilieu nuts, and tucked it into an inner pocket. Reva stared at him in disbelief.

    "You can't still be hungry?" she said.

    "No, they're for Arwen. One of her favorite treats."

    "Vweilieu nuts?"

    "And Calamarian sea rolls, but those don't keep as well." He walked her to her hotel, and said goodbye in the lobby. She cocked her head, and smiled.

    "Sure you don't want to come up for a nightcap?" she asked.

    He hesitated. He didn't need the Force to understand the invitation; any red-blooded human male could follow her loud and clear. But he was here on a mission.

    "You don't give up," he said sternly.

    "Can you blame a girl for trying?" She grinned then, and turned to sashay towards the lifts. He watched her walk away, then turned. He could have that life, he knew, if he wanted it. Except that he had found something more meaningful.

    He slipped out the doors into the soft night air, walking quickly, anxious to get back to his own, unoccupied bed.

    Trett stuck his head through the door to Arwen's sleepchamber, just to reassure himself, as he liked to do, that she was still there. She seemed to be fast asleep, curled up under the thick coverlet. Only the very top of her head was visible. He smiled, then put the packet of vweilieu nuts on the nightstand next to the datacard she'd been reading. Proceedings of the Senate Trade Commission. No wonder she was asleep.

    He went back to his own suite, and prepared for bed. After that interview, he was more than ready for some rest, and not sure he'd get any. With a sigh, he started to lie down. Something cold brushed his cheek, and he sat up quickly, groping at the pillow.

    The bottle was cold in his hand. The depilatory foam? What was it doing here on his pillow? It should be in the pack with his... And then finally it dawned on him.

    Arwen wasn't mad at him! She wasn't jealous of Reva, she wasn't angry about the mission, he hadn't said or done anything that upset her... she didn't like his beard! That was all!

    He buried his face in the pillow and laughed until tears rolled down his cheeks. He'd never been so relieved in his life. That was it? And she hadn't said anything! And she wouldn't, either, that wasn't her style. She just left him a hundred subtle hints that he hadn't picked up on. If only she'd said something... Trett grinned at the bottle, and tossed it over with the rest of his things. He'd leave the beard for a few days more, just to establish who was the Master around here...then he'd get rid of it. He'd been growing it for her sake, hoping he could at least look like an ideal Jedi Master, since he didn't think he'd measure up any other way. But if it made her happy, he'd never miss it.