MIsadventures in Excavation [Master - Student]

Hello!

This was meant to be my submission for the Odan Urr Velastari Temple excavation comp, but I didn’t finish it in time. Basically, the setup is that Irhan was helping out around the edges of the dig, helping some students and mine workers look for new sites when he and a student fell down a hole. Now they’re making friends!!


All in all, Irhan Lo’Vex was having a very good day. Many in a position akin to the one in which he now found himself might have a very different attitude to the situation, but Irhan loved new experiences, especially unexpected new experiences. Unfortunately, the man who’d fallen down the hole with him after the cave-in didn’t seem to share his appreciation of the situation.

“How are you not more bothered by this, your kriffing leg looks broken!”

“Hmm?” Irhan blinked, turning his attention away from the Interesting designs on the only clearly visible, unobstructed wall, to look at his companion. Considering the man’s words, he became aware of the fact that yes, his leg certainly felt broken. Ah well, he’d had worse. He reluctantly focused his attention on the injury, trying to get a clear picture of its extent.

“In two places, it looks like, yes.”

The student, who seemed to be slightly older than the Jedi, quirked a confused, concerned eyebrow.

“And you’re… fine with that?”

Irhan’s own brow furrowed and he frowned.

“Of course not, but I can hardly do anything about it right now. In any case, it’s preferable to being dead, which is how I would’ve ended up had I not executed that, uhhh… improvised evasive maneuver. Besides, if I hadn’t done that, you’d probably be more injured yourself. Maybe not, that was some pretty impressive tumbling.”

“Oh, um, thank you.” The student said, not quite sure how to respond. The two men lapsed into a silence that was comfortable for Irhan, but considerably less so for his companion. As the young Jedi resumed his inspection of the opposite wall, slightly older man continued to look at him, fidgeting. Eventually, apparently unable to stand the prolonged quiet, he spoke haltingly. “What’s… what’s your name?”

“Hmm? Oh” Irhan grinned, “Irhan Lo’Vex, Jedi-in-training. And, yourself?” He had an accent, his companion realized, a strange one he had never heard before. Clearly, Basic was not his first language, but he seemed to have an excellent grasp of it.

“I’m Jabe Lewitt, studying here as part of my degree.”

“Mm, I guessed as much. Say, I don’t mean to derail the conversation, but is your device working?”

“My… you mean my data pad? Yes, it’s fine.”

“Can you use it to call for help?”

The student gave Irhan a funny look.

“Not with all these rocks in the way.”

“Ah, of course, Id forgotten”

Leaving Jabe to puzzle over this latest odd exchange, the Jedi leaned back against the wall and closed his eyes. The aspiring archeologist blinked at him.

“Are you… taking a nap?!”

Irhan chuckled.

“No, I’m calling for help.”

“Calling for-“ the Jedi tapped his temple with a forefinger. “Oh, right.”

As Jabe lapsed back into an unsure silence, Irhan concentrated, letting the material world fall away. Beneath it lay the Force, wild, yet serene, deeper and caster than the void between stars. It comforted and thrilled him, as it always did, to be part of such a magnificent web. Putting such appreciative thoughts aside, he filtered through the web, looking for a familiar string. Finding it, he gave it a mental tug. He wasn’t proficient enough for complex telepathy, certainly not at this range, but he could do this.

<Master?>

<Pain. Slight distress. Embarrassment. Assistance?>

Aura Ta’var, master to Irhan Lo’Vex, was busy sitting in a meeting with the head of the excavation efforts. Her steepled fingers were motionless as she silently judged the archaeologist across from her, his slight stammering getting worse as the room grew quieter. Nervous glances peered between the two of them, waiting for the inevitable showdown.

“So you mean to say that you drilled in an area of the temple that I, the High Councillor, specifically told you was off limits and now not only are priceless artifacts broken but possibly also some people,” stated the Zeltron coldly.

“No one is more saddened by the loss of those artifacts than I but frankly there are no lost people. That is just the miners’ gossip.”

Master?

Aura Ta’var closed her eyes and took a deep breath, reaching out to the Force a slightly scared apprentice in pain.

“Do you hear me?”

The Zeltron ignored the main and used the Force to get a rough idea of her apprentice’s location.

Somewhere southwest on the other side of the temple, near where they were drilling, she thought.

“Ma’am?”

“Yes, I did. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my apprentice is trapped in a dig site you weren’t supposed to be drilling in and he probably has friends. We’ll discuss your discretion later but perhaps you can make things better by doing a full sweep of the area with me.”

“But, I uh- I have to do some-”

“You are coming with me. Coordinate a team and get everyone to safety. I’m finding my apprentice before you kill him,” she said in a huff before she walked out.

<Irhan, stay calm. I’ll be there soon. Where are you?>

The knot of fear and anxiety that Irhan had been unwilling to acknowledge in himself unwound slightly as he felt his master’s answer, registered her awareness of his predicament. He leaned his head back against the wall, opening his eyes and looking over at his companion. The older man was watching him, nervous. He was trembling slightly, Irhan realized. The young Jedi gave Jabe his best reassuring grin, accidentally making it more of a grimace when he shifted on his broken leg.

“My master knows where we are, she’s on her way here. We’ll be out in no time at all.”

Jabe relaxed, letting out his breath in a rush.

“Thank the Force!”

“Hn.” Irhan smiled genuinely. Thank the Force indeed. Speaking of which… ah, damn. He frowned, quickly adopting the most upright posture his current situation would allow. His leg wasn’t actually trapped under rubble, but broken in as many places as it was he didn’t want to risk moving it too much. He had been flung about rather a lot trying to prevent his companion, and himself, from being crushed during their unexpected cave-in rock-slide tumble… but he was getting distracted. His master needed to know where he was, so she could help him. He knew, roughly, where he and Jabe had been, having a conversation about the dig’s prcgress in a previously excavated tunnel some distance from the surface. There had been other people around- Force he hoped they were alright- but in the chaos of the collapse, fall, and slide he’d lost track of them. He still had no idea what had even caused the whole mess, if it weren’t for the premonition from the Force… Hmm, it had started below him, he thought… With a flash of insight, he remembered Jabe, not that he’d known his name then, mentioning something he’d heard about a few of his colleagues and superiors wanting to open up a new tunnel in an area that had been declared off-limits for some reason, neither of the two men were sure. Jabe was under the impression that his superiors believed the ruling to be erroneous, or a mistake, and were apparently considering demonstrating this by defying it. Irhan never got the chance to voice his opinion, and subsequent events had blown such concerns out of his mind. They were back now though. If that was what happened, the area in question wasn’t directly below them but… it could be possible, he wasn’t an architect. A horrible queasy feeling bubbled up in Irhan, adding to the cocktail of worry that was threatening to disperse what remained of his good mood from having survived the fall. What had happened to the miners in that area? The researchers? He hadn’t… he hadn’t felt anyone die… but… He shivered, and focused inward. He needed to let Master Aura know what was going on, now, no more delays or introspection. There would be time for that later. He concentrated, and, conjuring up his memory of today’s work, used it to draw a three-dimensional shape in his mind. It was a sort of inverse map of the path to where he had been before he’d fallen, as best he could work out. little more than a lopsided scaffolding of line/paths. He focused on it, then on an impression of the entrance that formed the starting point of the crude map. He hoped his master made the connection.

It was the best he could do.

Force, he hoped it was only he and Jabe trapped down here. Deep down though, he knew how unlikely that was, and a terrible, very different, but distinctly familiar sort of helplessness pushed its way through his equilibrium, dashing to pieces. He had never wanted to feel this way again, it made him feel small again, and more trapped than mere rocks ever could. People were hurting around him, and he could do nothing to help them.

\\\\\

The Jedi master pulled the Force into her legs as she ran to where Irhan had indicated. She wasn’t the most familiar with these caves but she did recognize the arch that framed the entryway to his path. Finally standing before it, she placed a hand against either side. Voices from the past wove their way through her mind while she searched for one group in particular.

Nothing

“Damn I really thought they might have touched that. Hmm.” Aura thought for a moment and then smiled.

The Zeltron pulled out a necklace with a small green faux crystal attached to it. She had instructed her apprentice wear this for several months nonstop and now she was going to cash in on that. Holding the crystal between her fingers, she focused on her apprentice and reached with the Force. Visions of her apprentice came into focus like moving stillshots in a gallery. She followed them like an explorer running through pages in a book.

Jedi artistry and broken statues were forgotten for the moment as she single-mindededly raced onwards. That is until the story no longer was reality. What was once a large rectangular room with columns with a beautifully painted relief in the center of the floor now held a large hole in the center, its depth unknown. The door across from her was also caved in.

“What the frack happened here?”

I think I found where you fell. Was it in this big room with the paintings?

Irhan thought back,

<assent, consideration, confirmation>

A faint headache was beginning in his temple. When he got out of here, he promised himself, he would work doubly hard on honing his ability to transit information through the Force. This was getting miserable. But, he could sense his master’s presence, and if she really was where he had been… they must have slid sideways, in addition to falling, he wasn’t directly below where he’d been, anymore. Something else, a tension, a faint thrum of foreboding on the edge of his awareness. Concerned, he cast about with his awareness, looking for the cause. It didn’t seem to be coming from anywhere in particular… and with that thought, realization came.

“oh… Oh no.” He whispered to himself. Jabe jerked his head up, from where it had been resting, Irhan could feel the spike of his companion’s own worry.

“What? What is it?!” Irhan silently cursed himself for his slip, and thought quickly, assembling a serviceable misdirection.

“I can’t sense anyone alive nearby, save my master above us. If there were other workers in the levels we crashed through… they are no longer alive.” Truth, from a certain point of view. Folded within, a reassurance, his master was here.

“Ah” Jabe noded sympathetically. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be able to… sense that sort of thing”

“Hm” Irhan nodded stoically, looking away, resting his head against the cave wall and closing his eyes to concentrate. He focused on the surrounding rock to confirm his dire suspicion, and sure enough… Weakness, cracks caused by the fall, growing steadily worse under the increased load. He wasn’t in immediate danger… but in an hour or so… Damn. He withdrew into himself, considered for a moment, then reached out for his master. At this range, he might be able to manage more telepathic nuance than usual.

Master, weakening rock, an hour at most. Extent unclear, potential further damage unclear.

Irhan slumped back further against the wall, exhausted, his head throbbing. Telepathy wasn’t supposed to be this hard…

“Shit!” yelled Aura, her voice reverberating off the walls.

1 hour and it’s cracking. Think.

The Zeltron peered around the hall, avoiding staring into the abyss below. The easy path was right in front of her and tempting. She could jump in, move some rocks around, and hopefully find her apprentice soonish. But how to get back up and what if it made things worse for her apprentice?

Tendrils of fear kept her nerves on edge, urging her to move if only for the relief of knowing she was doing something. Her hands started to fidget as she brushed them reassuredly against the cool metal of her lightsaber chassis. She liked problems she could solve with a saber. They were easier.

What would Vorsa say…

Aura paced for a half a minute and then finally caught herself. “Master would tell me to calm down. And ask for help.”

The Jedi sat a safe distance away, clutched the green crystal again, and reached to the Force. She closed her eyes and slowly breathed in and out, asking the Force for guidance. Images and feelings moved around her mind like a chaotic maelstrom. Inside the choatic swirl of energy, a ball of light wove its way between, charting a path through the darkness. She didn’t know where it led but she knew what she believed. Almost as if in a trance, she stood up and walked back the way she had come, still clutching the crystal. Making a right at the archway, she found a spiraling staircase and started the hike downwards.

May the Force be with us. Please be with us