Republic Excavation Sight G1942801

The passages inside the cave were hot and smoky, and it was difficult for Satchal to make his way through them. He had decided first to check the entire entranceway for signs of Brin’tac, but when he found nothing he decided to head on down the right passage to see if they had gone that way. Lava was everywhere, and Satchal had to carefully make his way along to avoid stepping in pools of the molten rock. Finally, he reached the cavern that Lialla and the others had been in when they’d sprung the trap, and Satchal saw that the lava had dropped back to its place some hundred feet below. Any signs of the crate that they’d found were gone.

Satchal moved about the cavern searching for signs of his friends, and his hopes began to drop once more. It was because of this that Satchal spotted the trap that Lialla had sprung. A single strand of metal wiring, as thin as a razor blade’s edge, was spread from one boulder to another across the path to the other entrance to the cavern. In fact, as Satchal examined the area closer he spotted several more wires strewn about the area.

Now things were beginning to make more sense. Someone must have set off a trap that caused the lava to rise and fill the entire place. “But if that’s the case then they must have fled up the passage or through this other one. Either way Brin’tac wouldn’t have fled this way. He most likely would have gone down the left passage.”

Since he was there, however, he decided to see where the other entrance led. Carefully making his way past the trip wires Satchal reached the entrance and peered inside. What he saw was completely unexpected.

The entire chamber beyond was enormous. From ceiling to floor it was about two hundred feet. The width of the cavern was at least twice that size, but the thing that was most impressive was the massive machine that filled almost the entire cavern. Intricate cables and hoses of enormous size were strewn about the cavern like a massive web all about the machine, and it seemed that, in spite of the obvious age of the contraption that it was still in good repair. Something must have been maintaining it.

But what did the machine do? It obviously wasn’t working at that moment for no sound came from it. All around there were lanterns that were not lit, and as Satchal made his way past the cables and hoses he saw that there were many power tools and, to his great delight, a few droids.

Satchal hurried to the first droid he saw and attempted to power it up. It was an astromech droid that looked to be of an older model than that which was used today. However, when he flicked the switch the droid powered up as if it had never ceased to function. The droid emitted a series of beeps and whistles out of a voice box that was obviously malfunctioning. The sound was seriously distorted and muffled as if the droid were speaking from far away.

Satchal was unsure about what to do. The droid obviously couldn’t speak, but it might know something useful to him. “Do you have a master? If so where is he?” The droid’s dome swiveled, and it emitted another series of beeps. Then, all at once, it extended its third leg and attempted to wheel away. After wobbling for several seconds the droid suddenly tipped over and fell on its face. Its wheels were obviously in disrepair, and it wasn’t about to go anywhere.

At this point Satchal decided to try to find another droid that might be useful, and sure enough, at the back of the machine he found a C-42 Maintenance Droid. It was still functioning, but it looked old and well worn. However, it spoke Basic, and when he approached it greeted him, “Who are you, and why are you here?”

“I am a Jedi Padawan,” said Satchal. “My friends and I were stranded here. What is this place?”

“You have arrived at Republic Excavation Sight G1942801,” said the droid. “This sight is currently run by Doctor Adlar Birmotheous. I am a maintenance droid in charge of maintaining and repairing this machine.”

“What is this machine?” wondered Satchal as he stared back at the monstrous device.

“It is a CX-142A Thermo-Seismic Generator Unit,” said the droid.

“What does it do?” asked Satchal, still trying to figure things out.

The droid seemed at a loss. “I’m not entirely sure. I’m not programmed to understand the use of this equipment. I am simply programmed to maintain it.”

“But you know it’s a CX-140 Something Generator Unit thingy?” he asked.

“A CX-142A Thermo-Seismic Generator Unit,” repeated the droid. “And yes. I know what it is, but I do not know what it does.”

“Why are their traps all over this place?” asked Satchal, deciding to move on.

“I’m not sure what you mean?” asked the droid, much to Satchal’s frustration.

“Forget it,” said Satchal hoping to find something else that was more useful. “Do you know any of the layout of this facility?”

“Negative,” said the droid. “I am only programmed to remain here and maintain the machine. The astromech droid, however, may have some useful information regarding schematics of the area.”

“Can you understand the astromech droid?” asked Satchal.

“Affirmative,” answered the droid, much to Satchal’s relief. “Good. Then come with me.”

“I am not programmed to obey your commands or assist you in any capacity,” answered the droid. Satchal sneered, but then he calmed himself as he remembered what his master had said. Relax, he told himself. It is not here to serve you but the machine. I’ll just have to figure out a way to work around its programming.

“Do you work with the astromech droid?” asked Satchal.

“I am programmed to work with that droid,” replied the maintenance droid. “However he has fallen into disrepair, and I am unable to work with him anymore. He began working to destroy the machine so I was forced to shut him down.”

“You have knowledge as to how to do that?” asked Satchal.

“Affirmative,” said the droid. “It is a mere flick of the switch.” And Satchal was taken aback by the tone of the droid. It was almost as if it had used sarcasm.

“What if I brought the droid over here to speak with you? Would you communicate with it?” he asked.

“Affirmative,” replied the droid. “However, if it will only speak of destroying the machine again I will be forced to deactivate it again.”

Satchal paused to think about this. “Are there any other droids around here?” “I am not aware of any,” answered the droid.

“Fine,” said Satchal, and he turned to get the astromech droid and drag it over to the maintenance droid. After several minutes of struggling he finally succeeded, and he sat the droid upright so it could communicate more effectively.

“Now,” said Satchal to the astromech. “Will you tell the maintenance droid to tell me where your master is?”

The astromech responded with a series of whistles and hoots. When the maintenance droid heard this he spun around and stared at the astromech droid for a moment before speaking. “He states that he is programmed to destroy and disassemble this machine.”

“Why?” asked Satchal. “Who is responsible for this programming?”

The droid emitted another series of whistles and beeps. “He says that his master’s name is unknown to him. However, he could project an image of his master if you would like.”

“Fine,” said Satchal, and instantly the image appeared from a holographic projector. The image was of a tan cloaked individual with red hair and a stunning appearance. It was difficult to make out exactly what she looked like, but it was obvious to Satchal that she was some sort of Jedi. She wore a lightsaber at her hip as she crouched before something Satchal couldn’t see.

“You are now programmed to destroy this machine at all costs,” the voice replied in the image. “Nothing else is as important as this mission. The machine must be destroyed.”

Then the image faded either due to a malfunction or the droid simply deeming it necessary only to show that much of the scene. Satchal turned back to the droid. “Where is your master now?” he asked.

The droid twittered a response. “He says he is unsure where his master is now. He has not seen her since she programmed him.”

“And this droid once worked with you?” asked Satchal.

“Affirmative,” said the maintenance droid. “He once worked with me to keep the machine functioning. He often brought supplies from the storehouse to here for me to use. Now, unfortunately, I am unable to receive some of the more vital parts that I need. Therefore the machine is no longer functioning to its proper capacity.”

“What capacity is it running on?” asked Satchal.

“It is now mostly not functioning,” the droid replied. “It has been turned off unless activated from elsewhere.”

“How often has it activated?” asked Satchal.

“Only twice since I have shut it down,” replied the droid. “The most current time was approximately thirty minutes ago.”

Satchal then fell silent in thought. The device must have something to do with the lava trap. But what else does it do? “What else is in this place?” asked Satchal of the astromech droid.

“This tunnel ends here,” replied the maintenance droid as he translated for the astromech. “The other passage, as you head out, leads to the excavation site, supply room, bunks, control center, hanger bay, security office, and droid repair bay.”

“Hanger bay?” asked Satchal, his eyes lighting up at the thought of another ship being on the planet that might get them off world. “Where is that?”

“He says that he will show you if you repair him,” said the maintenance droid. “However, repairing him may only lead to further destruction of the machine.”

“Fine,” said Satchal. “I’ll see about repairing you in a minute. What does this machine do?”

“The machine is built using an ancient artifact found within this excavation site,” stated the droid. “It was built for military purposes devised by a weapons specialist of some sort.”

“How long ago was this?” asked Satchal.

“He is unable to determine this,” stated the droid. “He is unsure as to how long he has been offline.”

Satchal sighed. “Do you remember what military this specialist was working for?”

The droid paused and then gave his answer. “Negative,” replied the maintenance droid. “He does not know.”

Satchal nodded. “Okay. What sort of military purpose was it designed for?” He immensely hated talking to stupid droids, and his patience was wearing thin.

“The machine creates a pressurized lava surge that builds up to the point where the pressure bursts out of the barrel of the weapon like a massive volcano. However, the power of the burst is magnified by the machine to three hundred thousand times the normal pressure of a volcano eruption. Therefore, the firing capacity of the weapon is ranged at approximately one million two hundred and fifty two thousand feet.”

Satchal’s eyes went wide. That was a pretty sizable range. This weapon could essentially be tapped into any lava flow on any planet and used as a devastating weapon of defense against any army. It wouldn’t do much to ships in space, but it would decimate whole armies of ground troops as well as whole populaces at great distances. No wonder the Jedi in the holo wanted it destroyed.

“Thank you for the info,” said Satchal, and he turned to walk away.

The astromech whistled and hooted loudly as he strode away. “Don’t worry,” said Satchal. “I’ll be back to help you succeed in your mission.

But even as he walked away the maintenance droid shut down the astromech droid once more and returned to its task.

The End

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