Masks of Adas
As far as I can make out, we’re all in a lot of trouble. The more I learn about the situation, the more scared I get. When I spilled the beans to Woorbly, I figured he’d warn the people that could make a difference, and they’d do something about this cult. Sorry he ended up that way. All the same, I did warn him, and I didn’t hold nothing back. I’m warning you guys too: the cult plays for keeps. Choi Moi could tell you that … [agonized growl]
Well, right from the start I knew that Kieran’s dathomiri girl was trouble. She was as tough as they come and she had him around her finger. He must have known she was trouble too, because the more he saw her, the more crazy dreams he had. I thought it was great when he wanted to go to Krayiss — that’d be the end of her, see, and things would get back to normal. I liked the guy, and I owed him a lot.
It seemed for awhile that everything would work out. Corellia was a lot of fun, but once we got to Krayiss II, Kieran started having dreams again about meeting a god, crap like that. but now he wasn’t drinking, and the girl wasn’t around, and the gentlemen Kierand had asked along started acting nuttier than Kieran did, and so I said to myself, “trouble is somewhere up this road.”
After I paid Faraz Najir for his junk, Kieran spent some time with it. He went off the deep end. There was a black kind of head-and-shoulder statue that he’d stare at for hours. And there was one of them holocrons. He’d stare at the holocron too, like he was trying to figure out how to make it work just by looking at it, the way a normal guy might look at a great looking woman. And then, one morning, he said he’d figured it out. He said the holocron had spoken to him the night before, and had told him that he could meet the god as soon as he "destroyed the eye and opened the path.”
That hotshot Dr. Doodo should have talked Kieran down, but he only encouraged him. So the first night that we were up the river, Kieran snuck out and climbed up the Red Pyramid. Any of you guys ever climbed a pyramid? They’re steep! Kieran started up that pile like a monkey. Never looked back or hesitated once, which proved to me that poor bugger was absolutely crazy. But I followed him up, so I guess that makes me crazy, too.
For about two-thirds of the way up the Red Pyramid, you just climb up and over big blocks, sort of like something some dumb kid could make by piling up a million great big construction blocks. The pyramid builders filled in all the gaps with nice smooth stone, but then later people stole that nice stone from around the bottom of the pyramid — the high stuff was too hard to grab, and they couldn’t finish the job. Well, Kieran zipped right up this part too, with me still behind, my eyes bulging out cause I could barely find handholds, even with my claws.
There’s a little flat place at the tip of the pyramid. When Kieran reached the flat place, he put on some kind of robe and started making weird sounds, as though he had flipped for good. But then there was a hell of an explosion with all kinds of funny echoes and screams with it, and a big red flash of light. Well, I lay there for a minute until it seemed safe to go on. He looked at me and said, “The eye is gone, Styvv. Now we can be gods.”
Well, that was just Kieran-talk, you know, but beside him there was a big patch ripped right out of the stone, and it looked fresh. When I went back the next day, the patch had been filled in, as thought the pyramid had repaired itself. But near the base of the pyramid, I found part of a rock which looked like it could have been in that patch originally, and it had this sign on it:
[[The Eye of Light & Dark | The Eye of Light & Dark]]
Now I know what it is — it’s something to do with the Force, and it kept evil things away from us, and Kieran deliberately broke its power.
Two days later, the whole gang — Penhew, Kieran, Doodo, and Hypatia — gave me the slip and disappeared into the Red Pyramid. Some of the messenger boys went in to find them, some locals we’d hired to help excavate. They came out shrieking that the pyramid had eaten the respected scientists, woe, woe, woe. And bingo — the workers ran in every direction. The whole dig was deserted. In five minutes the only person left in the whole area was me. Well, I went in. Sure enough, nobody was inside. I was worried.
But a long time later, out come all the missing people from the pyramid. Kieran says they’d been to the Sith Worlds — the real Sith Worlds. And that was about the most sensible thing he said. Penhew looked like had lost about five years. And Hypatia and Doodo both seemed somehow changed. Nobody would explain where they’d been, and nobody cared after that it was hard to hire workers, even among those strange red-skinned guys who still live there.
After that, when I’d wake up in the night, the rest of the gang would be talking creepy lingo like I’d never heard before. Then one evening, Kieran said that he was going toe how me the power of what they’d learned. We went out into the desert with a passel of the red-skinned aliens. Everybody started screaming weird words and songs, and Penhew beat the drum we got from Najir. When creatures started coming out of the ground and eating the red-skinned aliens, and Kieran and the others started laughing, well, I took my leave, as they say, an went on a real toot. Kieran found me the next day and warned me that I’d better change my attitude. Well, I owed the kid, and I wouldn’t desert him, but after that I started thinking real hard.
After that, we went to Dathomir. Kieran filled me in during the trip. We had found a true god, he said, who would rule the Galaxy, and we would rule with that god, for we were the chosen of the god. The god had picked us to open the way for his return. And there was enough in what they said — and in what I saw — to make me listen. Every week, Penhew seemed a little younger and a little livelier. Hypatia started getting sick a lot. We were going to leave the Imperial Outpost on Dathomir for some place in the mountains where there was no river, no spaceport, no holonet, no Imperials even. I figured ol’ Styvv wasn’t going to last long in that place, so I made some arrangements. On the last night in the Outpost, I drugged Kieran, stole some credits — it was all Kieran’s money, anyway — and got me and him aboard an unscheduled freighter to Vinsoth.
Later I heard that my guess was right. The holonet said a lot of people died, but Penhew, Doodo, and Hypatia weren’t among them.
Anyway, my arrangements went off without a hitch — that happens when you think small and carry a lot of credits. When we got to Vinsoth, we got off before Imperial inspection and found a smuggler willing to go to Agamar for a few hundred credits. From there we hopped a trader to Ithor, and on Ithor I dyed my fur, got Kieran some tattoos, and booked passage to Ord Mantell.
Now, on the way to Vinsoth, Kieran got some sleep, and he seemed to wake up a different person. I guess that being away from the influence of some of those other people let him return to his old self. I told him we were in a lot of trouble, and that we needed to hide out, and reminded him about the red-skinned aliens being killed on Krayiss, and the god stuff, and so on, and he could remember it all right, although it didn’t seem very important, somehow. But he understood the logic of the situation. After a week or so, though, his nightmares started, and he began to go off the deep end. I think he was beginning to realize some of the things he’d done.
I had been in Ord Mantell as a merc a few years back, and I had some friends here. By time our ship put in to Genassa, Kieran couldn’t go any further. He began shrieking at shadows and everything that moved. So I put him in an Imperial medical facility. I had to use up most of the remaining credits to get him settled. Then I went on to Ord Mantell, believing that I’d never again see any member but Kieran of that damned expedition.
So I thought, until I looked through a pair of electrobinoculars at a certain corvette, and saw Aubrey Penhew walking down the landing ramp of the DARK MISTRESS. Now that ship and some others are going back and forth between Ord Mantell and the Grey Dragon Moon. Transporting people and supplies. They’re planning something, but I don’t know what.