The days on Korriban were slightly longer than Coruscant and Naboo, and in this hemisphere it was currently winter, so the nights were long. Amidala took over the watch from Rabé. They had found a large number of books in the old academy likely from the time when Darth Bane had studied here. Most of the tomes contained useless lore so they burned them. They had taken up residence in the main hall of the academy as they hadn't had time to clear out the other rooms.
Amidala was reading through one of the tomes they had spared to see if there was anything worthwhile. Pooja lay beside her on an old mattress they had pulled from a half collapsed room, seemingly sound asleep. Amidala fumbled with the ancient Sith writing, she had learned it when she was younger but she hadn't practiced it in years so it was a bit of a struggle. Rabé was the most proficient amongst them as she had converted the ancient language into a coding language for all of Naboo's droids which made them almost impossible to reprogram by slicers unless they also knew the Sith language. Saché had taken Rabé's programming language and used it to program a great many droids to use as spies.
Amidala sighed as she was now about halfway through the book, it had been about the fallen Jedi Exar Kun who had become one of the most powerful Sith of all time, she had hoped it may contain some of his secrets, but instead it just contained a chronicling of his deeds written in Sith and from what Amidala could tell they were greatly exaggerated. She skimmed forward and found nothing of any relevance and cast the book into the fire.
"Not a good read?" Yané asked.
Amidala glanced beside her to see that Yané was still up. She didn't think her personal assassin ever slept anymore.
"It seemed like it was just a Sith novel to make the great Exar Kun seem like a deity, probably to interest young Sith," Amidala replied. "It was rather inaccurate."
"I don't think what you seek will be found in these books," Yané said.
"Neither do I," Amidala said. "But almost no ancient Sith artifacts remain here on Korriban, so perhaps what I will find will be some form of knowledge."
Yané shrugged. "It was Saché's vision which led us here; she would be the one who would have the best idea."
"Unfortunately Saché is busy running her Intelligence Network." Amidala said. "We just have to trust that the Force will guide us."
Yané gave no further comment. She was busy going through her vibroblades inspecting their edges and ensuring the vibration cells were charged. She had also found an old Sith bladed-weapon which was damaged and she was doing her best to try and repair it. It was some sort of throwing blade, but the edge was far too dull to be effective, so she was trying to hone the edge but whatever metal it was made of was difficult to hone.
Amidala opened another book but the writing in it was smeared, the book had been water damaged at some point and all the ink had run leaving the book complete illegible. Frustrated, Amidala cast the book into the fire. Sick of reading and wanting to relieve her anger slightly Amidala pulled out her lightsabers and began going through the basics of combat, slowly at first and then moving from stance to stance so quickly that it became a blur, an almost artistic dance as the twin red beams spun around her. She got so caught up in her practice that she was surprised when she heard Pooja's voice.
"That looks so pretty," Pooja commented sleepily.
Amidala deactivated both her lightsabers with a flourish and turned to face her niece who was sitting up, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.
"How come you're up?" Amidala asked. "It's not going to be light out for several more hours."
"I can't sleep anymore," Pooja replied.
"Perhaps we should explore the ruins of the academy a little more then," Amidala said.
She then noticed that Darth Gale and Darth Hera were gone. They had hastily disguised the blankets they had been sleeping under to look like they were still sleeping. She woke Rabé who was annoyed at being aroused.
"Did you see Darth Gale and Darth Hera leave during your watch?" Amidala asked.
"No, they were asleep the whole time," Rabé replied.
Neither Yané nor Darth Forte had noticed they were gone either. Amidala didn't think they had wandered off and gotten themselves killed. Whatever they were they definitely valued their lives. Although unless they had a good explanation for deserting Amidala was going to kill them herself.
"We are going to find them," Amidala announced. "You may hurt them, you may cripple them but do not kill them. I want them to tell me just what they were thinking defying my orders and going off on their own."
Amidala caught a glimmer of disappointment on Yané's face over the no kill order, but Amidala didn't care. She wanted to interrogate them before they died.
Normally finding two Sith wouldn't have been difficult with the aid of the force, but on Korriban the dark side was so prevalent that it made the task impossible, it wasn't even possible to properly sense the people in the same room without a great deal of focus.
They searched the Academy first but found no sign of them, by now the sun was finally up and light was finally starting to pour into the valley. They made their way down where the tombs of ancient Sith lay. There were legends which stated that the ghosts of the ancient Sith who inhabited these tombs would sometimes appear before those that they considered worthy of carrying on the legacy of the Sith. Amidala wondered if one of these ancient Sith was what she was destined to find.
As they descended into the valley Amidala looked out and saw that there had to be dozens if not hundreds of tombs. Trying to search them all could take days and by then Darth Hera and Darth Gale could be long gone. Yané led the way with Amidala, Rabé and Pooja in the middle, while Darth Forte brought up the rear. Suddenly Yané held up her hand for the group to come to a stop. She knelt down to examine something.
"What is it?" Rabé asked coming up behind Yané to see for herself.
"Tracks," Yané replied. "They've been partially covered by the wind but they definitely came this way. There's something odd about them though, it's almost as if they were shuffling and not walking properly."
"Perhaps they were injured," Amidala suggested.
"Then why wouldn't they have turned back around?" Yané wondered. "It would be even more dangerous to come down here wounded. It doesn't make sense."
Amidala thought the same thing and she could tell that the others did as well, but nobody else had any idea on what was going on so they just continued on their way hoping that Yané would be able to follow the tracks to wherever it was that Darth Hera and Darth Gale went.
They followed the tracks for almost two hours travelling deep into the valley. It was clear that the tombs here were different from the ones they had seen closer to the end of the cave. There were subtle differences in the architecture and the carvings were less worn and seemed more intricate.
"These tombs seem a bit newer," Amidala commented.
"Yes but they're all well over three thousand years old," Rabé said.
They came to a stop outside one of the tombs as Yané halted the group.
"They went in here," Yané declared.
Amidala stretched out with the force, trying to see if she could detect Darth Gale and Darth Hera in the tomb but it was just a thick wall of darkside energy.
"There's no telling if they're still in there, or if anything is alive in there," Amidala said. "We need to move carefully."
Before they could go in the tomb though they were interrupted by Pooja.
"Auntie!" She shrieked.
Amidala whirled around; something must have startled Pooja quite badly for her to forget to call Amidala master. Pooja went scurrying behind Amidala as fast as she could. It didn't take Amidala or the others long to notice what had scared Pooja.
A huge bipedal lumbering hunched over creature was stomping towards them; it was a dark brown in colour and had two long arms that ended with vicious foot long claws and it had a gigantic mouth that was probably big enough to swallow Pooja whole; a row of spikes could be seen going down its back. Amidala couldn't tell if it actually had eyes or just some black spots where eyes should be. She could sense the creature reaching out and feeling them in the force. It was primitive but it meant it would be very difficult to hide from it.
"Terentatek!" Rabé shouted activating her lightsaber.
Yané, Amidala and Darth Forte all followed suit, activating their own weapons.
"Spread out, we all need to attack at once," Amidala said. "We need to take this thing down as quick as possible. Pooja hide."
They fanned out as the Terentatek approached and formed a half-circle around it. The creature paused momentarily. Amidala wasn't sure if it was deciding who the bigger threat was, or who would be the better meal. The Terentatek let out a low rumbling roar and then charged at Amidala. She let out a tiny smirk of satisfaction as she realized that the monster was able to determine she was the most powerful force user in the group.
She backed up slightly to give the others time to close in on the Terentatek from the sides before slashing at the Terentatek's arm as it reached for her. Her lightsaber cut into the Tarentatek's arm but the got stuck, surprising Amidala. She deactivated the blade to get her weapon free and then used the force to aid her as she did a big flip backwards away from the Terentatek as it swung at her with its other arm.
Both Yané and Rabé attempted to attack the Terentatek simultaneously but ran into the same problem Amidala had where their blades were barely able to penetrate into the Terentatek's thick hide. Darth Forte leapt over top of Rabé as she attacked the Terentatek and leapt onto the creature's massive head and attempted to drive his lightsaber into the Terentatek's skull but found himself unable.
"It's somehow become resistant to lightsabers," Yané noted as she clipped her lightsaber back to her belt and drew two of her vibroblades.
The Terentatek was whipping around in circles trying to get Darth Forte off of its back but he was holding on with all of his brute strength. Amidala closed in towards the Terentatek once again hoping to distract it as she blasted the creature with Force Lightning, right into its huge mouth. The creature was momentarily distracted as it once again tried to claw at Amidala but she deftly somersaulted out its reach. The distraction was enough for Yané to pass both of her vibroblades to Darth Forte. With a mighty swing he stabbed one blade into the Terentatek's head. The creature let out a scream that was much higher pitched than the roar it had unleashed earlier.
The Terentatek began thrashing around once again and this time Darth Forte was thrown off of its back landing roughly on the ground. Angered the Terentatek stomped towards Darth Forte and snatched him up in its claws. Yané jumped onto the monster's back and stabbed her third vibroblade into its head. It once again let out a scream but it held onto Forte and took a huge bite out of his eating his entire right arm and a sizeable portion of his body on that side.
Yané tossed something to Forte, who was somehow still alive and conscious despite the grievous wound. He gave her the slightest of nods and then stopped struggling as the Terentatek stuffed the rest of him into its mouth. Yané leapt off of the Terentatek and dove for cover. Rabé and Amidala did the same and moment later the Terentatek exploded in a rain of gore.
"He sacrificed himself for us," Rabé commented.
"He died with honour," Amidala said. "Killing a Terentatek is no small feat."
"What happened?" Pooja asked coming out from hiding. "Why did it explode?"
"Darth Forte let it eat him, along with the thermal detonator I gave him," Yané replied.
"Next time we should just throw a thermal detonator in its mouth from the get go," Rabé suggested.
"I only have two left," Yané replied. "Let's just hope we don't encounter any more Terentatek."
"I doubt a Terentatek could fit through the door in the temple anyway," Amidala said. "Now let's get moving, it's possible that Darth Hera and Darth Gale heard the commotion out here, or perhaps they are responsible for that beast being here."
They walked up the steps to the temple and went in, unsure of what they would find.
It's been a bit of time between chapters again I know. I've been busy catching up on work and other things from when I was sick, so I haven't had as much time to write as I would like. As always I appreciate your reviews. I like hearing your speculation on what you think lies ahead for Amidala and company, so let me hear it. Hopefully the time before the next chapter isn't long, although it is Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend so I will be pre-occupied. Thanks for reading.