Mutants of the Eclipse Part XII – Minor Mutants

   This entry covers twenty types of minor mutant power packages – Aquatic Adaption, Beastmaster, Bladewitch, Blaster (Minor), Empath, Face Dancer, Flame (Energy) Projector, Flyer, Invisibility, Lightning Touch, Lightshow, Neural Disruptor, Partial Invulnerability, Precognitive (Minor), Psychic Projector, Swarm Master,Telekinetic (Minor), Telepath (Minor), Trapper, and Weapons Expert.

   To continue with Mutants in Eclipse, here are the power packages for a variety of Class I (+1 ECL) Minor Mutants – the minor characters that fill out the background and serve as minions for more powerful leaders. As usual, their powers are built using Unlimited-Use Use-Activated Innate Enchantments – at an effective base “Cost” of (Spell Level x Casting Level x 2000 GP x Modifiers). In most cases that’s either 2000 GP (for level one effects) or 12,000 GP (for level two effects).

   Minor Mutants can absorb a good deal of damage, are slightly superior to normal humans, and usually possess relatively weak mutant powers – whether that’s a single monotalent or a small suite of closely-related abilities. They can be reasonably effective, but – at least in the comics – they’re often minor, throwaway, characters with personalities as strictly one-dimensional as their powers.

   In Eclipse, of course, as in almost any other game, you won’t catch any player characters with unspent unless they’re saving up for some big purchase later on – and the Generic Mutant packages can be combined with other mutant power packages as usual, just in case someone happens to want an aquatically-adapted Strongman, or some other odd combination. Ergo, these packages include a few generic enhancements to go with their primary power packages, just to make them a little more competitive.

  • Grim Experience: +1 Competence Bonus to all Saving Throws. (Sidestep, from The Practical Enchanter, 1400 GP).
  • Mage Armor: +4 Armor Bonus to AC (1400 GP).
  • Personal Knack: +3 Competence Bonus to a skill group (1400 GP).
  • Rugged Metabolism: Fast Healing I – for 18 Rounds – 2/Day, Relieve Illness 1/Day, Relieve Poison 1/Day, and Lesser Restoration 1/Day. From the Hedge Wizardry list on this site and The Practical Enchanter (1400 GP).
  • Superior Attribute: +2 Enhancement Bonus to any one attribute (1400 GP).
  • Superior Attribute: +2 Enhancement Bonus to any one attribute (1400 GP).
  • Vigorous: +24 + 4 x Con Mod HP (8400 GP).
  • Well-Practiced: +4 Competence Bonus to BAB with their primary attack (1400 GP) or – if it doesn’t require an attack check – +2 on the DC of resisting it.
  • Will of the Underdog/Inspiring Word: +1 Morale bonus to attacks, checks, damage, and saves (1400 GP).

   Choice of one Special Power Package:

  1. Aquatic Adaption: Inner Fires (need not breathe, x.5 only underwater, 1000 GP), Depth Adaption (user is immune to water pressure changes, 1400 GP), Endure Elements (user is immune to cold water and normal weather extremes, 1400 GP), Swim (+30 Swim Speed, 1400 GP), Inspiring Word (+1 Morale Bonus to Attacks, Damage, Saves and Checks, only underwater, x.5, 700 GP), Water Senses (may see, hear, and speak normally while underwater, 1400 GP), Pressure Blast (as per Produce Flame, but only usable while in water – although you can hurl water blasts at people who are out of the water but within range, x.75, 1500 GP), Animal Influence (water creatures only, x.5, 1000 GP), Personal Haste (+30′ Move, +1 attack at full BAB when making a full attack, only while fighting in water x.5, 1000 GP), Pressure Wave (Shield, only while in the water, x.5, 1000 GP), and Detect Environmental Disturbances (level zero, only while in the water and only water disturbances, x.5, 500 GP).
  2. Beastmaster: Speak with Animals (2000 GP), Charm Animal (2000 GP), Calm Animals (2000 GP), Detect Animals or Plants (2000 GP), Hide from Animals (personal-only, 1400 GP), Cure Light Wounds (only on animals x.5, only once per day per animal, x.6 = 600 GP), Animal Rage (animal rages like a barbarian, with no fatigue, 2000 GP).
  3. Bladewitch: Spiritual Weapon (12,000 GP). Note that the Bladewitch will normally have three such weapons available at any one time.
  4. Blaster, Minor: Scorching Ray (with any appropriate elemental effect, 12,000 GP).
  5. Empath: Enthrall (with an Arcanum Minimus/Life Energy limitation; the user must save versus his own power or suffer Fatigue thanks to the strain of affecting so many people at once, 2000 GP), +2 to the DC of resisting their emotional manipulations (personal-only, 1400 GP), Hypnotic Pattern (a verbal variant, 2000 GP), Charm Person (2000 GP), Emotional Influence/+2 Luck Bonus to all Charisma-Based Skills (Fortune’s Favor, x.7 personal only, x.5 only for Charisma-Based skills, 700 GP), Cause Fear (2000 GP), and Sanctuary (2000 GP).
  6. Face Dancer: Alter Self (user reverts to some seriously bizarre base form if rendered unconscious or this ability is negated, x.8, 9600 GP), Augment Attack (+1d8 damage with natural weapons, personal-only, 1400 GP), Rapid Recovery (Cure Light Wounds, personal-only, 4 times per day, 1120 GP).
  7. Flame (or energy type of choice) Projection: Burning Hands (2000 GP), Produce Flame (2000 GP), Resist Flames (provides fire resistance 10, personal-only, 1400 GP), Augment Attack/Flames (2000 GP), Serpents Strike (provides +1 attack usable off-action, personal only, only with flame powers x.9, 1260 GP), Heat Metal (first level single target touch version, 2000 GP), and Resist Cold (provides cold resistance 10, personal-only, 1400 GP).
  8. Flyer: Personal Flight (L3 x L2 x 2000 GP x .7 requires wingroom and can be entangled, or very conspicuous trail, or noisy, or whatever = 8400 GP), Lighten (+30′ circumstance bonus on flight speed and +1 maneuverability class, halves falling damage, personal-only, 1400 GP), Personal Haste (+30′ Move, +1 attack at full BAB when making a full attack, 2000 GP).
  9. Invisibility: Invisibility (personal-only, 8400 GP), Lethal Strike (+2d6 Sneak Attack, personal-only, 1400 GP, Lesser Silence (the user cannot be heard, and his actions make no noise. He or she can still voluntarily make noise though and incoming sound is not affected, giving him or her a +5 circumstance bonus on Listen checks, personal-only, 1400 GP), +2 Competence Bonus to all “thieving” skills (Skill Mastery, from The Practical Enchanter, personal-only, 700 GP), choice of unlimited use of Dancing Lights, Ghost Sound, or Message (1000 GP).
  10. Lightning Touch: Shocking Grasp at Caster Level Five (10,000 GP), Resist Electricity 10 (1400 GP), and Detect Electrical Energies (700 GP).
  11. Lightshow: Color Spray (2000 GP), Hypnotism (2000 GP), Silent Image (2000 GP, and Produce Flame (select Fire or “Solid Light/Force based attacks, 2000 GP), Augment Attack/Light (personal only, 1400 GP), Light (1000 GP), +3 Resistance Bonus to saves against Light Based Effects (personal only, 700 GP), and Dancing Lights (1000 GP).
  12. Neural Disruptor: Select one from Blindness/Deafness, Ghoul Touch, or Touch of Idiocy (12,000 GP).
  13. Partial Invulnerability: Lesser Resist Energy (personal-only, resistance-5 to all energy forms save infernal and divine, 1400 GP), Minor Earthward (reduces the damage from any incoming attack by 1d8+1 points, with Unconscious Rapid Casting x3, 6000 GP), Converts the first five points of damage from any attack to stunning damage (personal only, 1400 GP), +1 Natural Armor (Hide Like Ox, from The Practical Enchanter, personal-only, 1400 GP), and Shield (2000 GP) (see notes below).
  14. Precognitive, Minor: Augury (with the Arcanum Minimus Karmic Debts modifier: precognitives tend to see strange and terrible things, get sucked into bizarre adventures, and find themselves compelled to undertake weird missions, -1 spell level, 2000 GP), True Strike five times per day (2000 GP), True Save five times per day (2000 GP), True Dodge five times per day (2000 GP), +1 Competence Bonus on All Saves (Sidestep, from The Practical Enchanter, x.7 personal only, 1400 GP), +2 Competence Bonus on all Skills (Skill Mastery, from The Practical Enchanter, x.7 personal only, 1400 GP), Serpents Strike (gain one additional attack at your full BAB which may be taken off-action, x.7 personal only, 1400 GP).
  15. Psychic Projector: Summon Psychic Construct II (12,000 GP). The Psychic Projector can maintain three – admittedly, minor – psychic constructs within the immediate area.
  16. Swarm Master: Summon Swarm (12,000 GP).
  17. Telekinetic, Minor: Unseen Servant (2000 GP), Mage Armor Upgrade (user may protect others while touching them, x.8, +200 GP), Kinetic Bolt (a Magic Missile variant that strikes as a ranged touch attack instead of automatically, but does one extra die of damage at caster level three, 3d4+3 or 3d6, 6000 GP), Resistance (+1 resistance bonus to Saves, Personal-Only, 700 GP), Prestidigitation (1000 GP), and Shield (2000 GP).
  18. Telepath, Minor: Message (1000 GP), Hypnotism (2000 GP), Detect Life (as per Detect Undead, but senses higher life forms instead, 2000 GP), Command (2000 GP), Linguist (allows the user to understand and speak a language for a time after making contact with someone who does, 1000 GP), Charm Person (2000 GP), and Sleep (2000 GP).
  19. Trapper: Web or Hold Person (or the ability to spray glue, or whatever, 12,000 GP).
  20. Weapons Expert: Void Sheathe (from The Practical Enchanter, lets the user keep various weapons in an extradimensional space, 1000 GP), Weapon Call (a specialized variant of Unseen Servant that simply brings weapons to your hands – and perhaps helps you get your armor on and off, 1000 GP), Augment Attack/Favored type of weapon (personal only, 1400 GP), +2 Competence Bonus to BAB with a particular group of weapons (Weapon Master, from The Practical Enchanter, personal-only, 1400 GP), +4 Competence Bonus to BAB with a specific weapon (Weapon Master, from The Practical Enchanter, personal-only, must be one of the ones in the favored group x.8, 1120 GP), Mending (only to fix weapons and armor, x .7, 700 GP), +3 Competence Bonus to all skill rolls involving weapons or armor (Appraise, Craft, Drive/military vehicles, etc, personal-only, 1400 GP), Magic Weapon (personal only, 1400 GP), Moment of Adamant (weapons and armor are treated as adamant, personal only, 1400 GP), and Natural Expertise (is considered proficient with any piece of equipment he or she picks up, personal only, 1400 GP).

   The trouble with “Invulnerability” is that pretty much everyone wants it. In a setting that involves a lot of combat, it’s hard to think of a more convenient power than “you can’t hurt me”. After all, if you can’t be harmed, you’ll eventually have to win, right?

   Well, not really. Being invulnerable to harm doesn’t mean that you can’t be trapped, thrown into another dimension, or paralyzed, or hypnotized, or otherwise stopped somehow. It just means that you’ll live. That can get to seem awfully contrived after awhile though, and genuine invulnerability does take a lot of the drama and tension out of things.

   That’s why, in the comics, movies, and cartoons, it tends to be used sparingly, and is usually only found amidst the powers of major villains – most often ones who aren’t bright enough to take full advantage of their power.

   In a role-playing game where the players get to pick powers for their characters, it’s a lot harder to keep under control. Ergo, invulnerability in games is usually toned down a bit – in this case, by making it rather limited, and basing it on the Earthward spell series from Paths of Power. That means that an “invulnerable” character may shrug off many weaker attacks, but every so often some damage will get through – allowing determined attackers to bring them down eventually. Really large attacks will do it a lot faster.

Advertisements

Recordings from the Holocron of Valerie Soung – Contingency Operations

   Here we have another slightly-edited item from Kira’s player – the ongoing backstory of the Varen Sith and Valerie Soung, his primary enemy/rival.

   Valerie Soung, Trayus Academy, Malachor V

   I got dressed as soon as clothes were brought for me. The doctor was saying something about trying to take it easy, but I ignored him. I knew my limits and also knew that I could enhance my strength and durability accordingly in an emergency. After all, when faced with a behemoth that threatened to crush me, I retreated instead of standing and fighting stupidly.

   Not that I wouldn’t have won of course. The threat of reinforcements though made any such victory rather pyrrhic.

   Luckily I felt no dizziness or loss of motor control like I felt when I got back home. Brain treatments are always a bit of hit or miss when it comes to repairing damage. Surest thing was giving the Force pattern time to reassert itself over the neural tissue. In this case, it seems like everything snapped into place without too much issue.

   The bright sunlight out in the garden was not pleasant. Shielding my eyes I could see Mother, Father, Faer and Kira discussing something.

(Faer) So nice that you could join us Val. Maybe you could be of some assistance with this hornet’s nest you’ve stirred up?

(Kira) I would like to see you standing after taking similar blows to the head.

(Faer) Are you saying you could follow through with that idea?

(Kira) Nah, I am just saying that I wouldn’t mind watching. Or charging admission…

(Faer) Why you little…

(Father) Enough. I will not tolerate fighting at this time.

   As much as I wanted to support Kira in taking shots at Faer, this was neither the time nor the place as Father said. Father led us into the gardens before stopping at the flower bed that served as the entrance to the Varen bunker. With a wave of his hand, he tilted the flower pot and opened the entrance down.

   The elevator ride to the bunker was quiet despite their being five of us. A thought occurred to me.

(Valerie) Did you add Kira to the roster for the bunker?

(Father) Yes I did some time ago.

(Mother) I have foreseen that Kira will never enter this place as an enemy to us.

(Kira) Let me guess, if I wasn’t on the roster, then automated defense systems would be shooting at me right now?

(Faer) You got it. Doesn’t it make you special that you are allowed in?

(Kira) Yeah, it means I don’t have to use you as a shield against the weapons fire.

   I couldn’t help but chuckle at that one. Faer showed a slight flicker of annoyance but kept it to himself. Mother seemed to approve slightly. Father was shaking his head in frustration again. Kira would fit in better than I thought at this rate.

   At the bunker level, I saw that quite a few of the weapons storage lockers had been accessed already. Faer began to retrieve some items from one of the open lockers. Mother just seemed to be taking a quiet inventory of the stocks. Father walked over to a table with a map projection of the Academy and surrounding region and beckoned us over.

(Father) The fighting has been rather intense while you’ve been asleep Valerie.

(Valerie) So I’ve heard.

(Father) I don’t have time to go into a lot of detail right now. You and Keldav are to take a platoon of soldiers into the mountains and eliminate a Baramour bunker as cleanly as you can.

(Valerie) I take it an orbital bombardment is out of the question?

(Father) Correct, the bunker is too close to a major population center to risk using heavy weapons against.

(Kira) Any idea what’s in this bunker? Hopefully not more of these damned chimeras.

(Father) Unfortunately no, the records Valerie retrieved were not very detailed about the contents or the layout of the place.

(Kira) Just great.

(Valerie) Any other support?

(Father) Unfortunately no, the other Varen here at the academy are busy hunting down the Baramour that have survived thus far or are busily destroying lab experiments. But don’t worry, I have a lot of faith in the platoon leader that will be assisting you. They will meet you in orbit.

(Valerie) What about Baramour reinforcements arriving in the system?

(Father) If we can swiftly eliminate all the Baramour on Malachor V before any reinforcements arrive, then certain…. political considerations will keep them from launching a counter attack.

   Things must be difficult if they were sending just Kira and I on a mission of this scope and magnitude. This was going to be my first mission leading soldiers into battle and so a lot of responsibility was being placed on me.

   I didn’t intend to fail.

(Kira) Right, so off to attack the base full of Sith that want to kill us, am I right?

(Valerie) I wouldn’t have said it quite as such, but yes.

(Kira) So what now? Head into the mountains to face them in dramatic fashion?

(Valerie) No, we are going to go into orbit and meet with the platoon leader assigned to us before dropping on the installation.

   Back on the surface, I proceeded to gather my things. I grabbed my bracers, my lightsaber, and a disk containing what data we had on the Baramour’s mountain installation. It looked like Kira had taken the time to get his lightsaber, shield, and that blaster of his. I really don’t know what he thinks he is going to do with that, but might as well let him carry it.

   I climbed aboard my hover bike to head to the spaceport. I could see Kira looking at me and the bike for several moments before he climbed aboard behind me as well. I started up the bike and headed towards the space port.

(Valerie) Watch the hands.

(Kira) Trust me, the last thing I want is to have my skull smashed in.

(Valerie) Good, keep that healthy respect and you might just live through this after all.

(Kira) Not much difference in your mind between respect and intimidation is there?

(Valerie) You’ll find that a lot of things depend more on your point of view than on any absolute set of beliefs.

(Kira) Right, as long as it’s my point of view and it benefits me, then it’s ok?

(Valerie) That’s the Sith perspective alright. See, you are learning.

   That sarcasm shut him up. He understood so little, those very same words he spoke had been used to justify the actions that led many Sith to their downfalls. Looking out only for yourself tended to end with you dead from someone looking to benefit themselves before long. The true answer was to make sure it was in other’s best interest for you to remain alive and well. Never trust anyone who doesn’t have a vested interest in your own success.

   I could hear the sounds of fighting around the city as Sith fought Sith. I heard an explosion in the distance but was unable to place where it might have come from. We also passed the smoking ruin of a group of battle droids in the middle of one intersection. Probably testimony to someones desperate attempt to buy time. Battledroids NEVER worked out in the long run.

   We arrived at the spaceport minutes later. There were always plenty of ferries heading to and from the orbital station ferrying workers, recruits, and cargo. Traffic down was heavily screened, but traffic up was not. There wasn’t much of any contraband to ship offworld, but the threat of the more volatile students getting their hands on serious weaponry was a constant danger.

   The scene at the spaceport was utterly chaotic. People were trying to flee the fighting going on around the city by heading into orbit. Some of them probably thought that warships were likely on the way and that bombardments would probably soon be underway. Well, that was a very real possibility if we didn’t regain control of the place soon.

   Shuttle service to the station in orbit was regular if not all that frequent. A shuttle was landing and throngs of people were crowding the lines to get a chance to board. I could see a Varen and a host of droids screening people before letting them – looking for Baramour most likely.

   If it was just me, I would have just shutdown the port to civilian traffic until fighting had ended but Father apparently let politics sway his position on the matter. The crowd did notice Kira and my presence and suddenly stopped crowding to let us pass. I will admit a certain amount of telepathic persuasion also helped matters. The Varen agent screening the boarders took a quick look at us, checked something off on his datapad and waved us through to the shuttle.

   We reached Headstone Station in orbit around Malachor V shortly thereafter. The place was a cesspool of bounty hunters, criminals, Sith wannabes, Dark Jedi, smugglers, and slavers. Lots of species represented here, from planets and colonies all over the galaxy. The local holos were covering the battles taking place down below and I could see betting pools starting on various outcomes. I was placing a sizeable bet on a Varen victory – even if I did have to put the money down in advance – when I spotted a woman waving at me from across the terminal.

   Nonsensitive children born to Force sensitive Varen didn’t have as many privileges as full Varen, but had better access to money, education and minor privileges than normal people. It used to be common for those children to be sent back to Varen space where they would stay out of trouble. Increasingly though, more and more are taking up roles with the families as support staff. The roles of accountants, doctors, engineers, chefs and more were being filled with the vast number of siblings and cousins who had no Force potential at all. I’d never really thought about that before – but were we slowly drifting towards becoming an ordinary ruling class? An aristocracy founded on talent might become self-sustaining even if the talent petered out.

   The woman across the terminal waving at me was my older sister Virstris. Four years older than I was, but without any detectable Force talent whatsoever. She was sent to one of the military academies when I was still a small child. I had never really paid much of any attention to her since she left. Not that I did when she was still here, she just kinda was there. Last I saw her was when we went to see her graduation from officer training however long ago that was. Wait was she the platoon leader that Father spoke of?

(Virstris) And how is my favorite sibling?

(Valerie) I’m your only sibling.

(Virstris) Which makes it easy to pick! Is this that new apprentice of Father’s I’ve been hearing about?

(Kira) Yep, that’s me, Kira Keldav.

(Virstris) And I’m Virstris Soung, Valerie’s older sister, although she probably doesn’t like to talk about me much.

(Valerie) Right, can we skip the pleasantries and move to somewhere a bit more discreet?

(Virstris) Aww, getting all serious already? Now where’s the fun in that? And here I thought we would have the chance to catch up and reminisce a bit before getting to business.

   I had forgotten what a cheery and bubbly person my sister could be. Mother thought it was a defense mechanism against the self-perceived failure of not developing Force talents. I figured it was an artifact of growing up in a privileged family without having the responsibilities of being Force sensitive. Father was hard to read on the matter other than that he made note of her accomplishments from time to time.

   Virstris led us back to the troop carrier. Once we were onboard and the door closed behind us, the gravity disengaged. My sister took to it like it was the most natural thing in the world. Kira seemed to adjust quickly enough as well. He probably had training while with the Republic in zero gravity operations. Good, that could prove useful at some point. I wasn’t very experienced at it, but even a touch of telekinesis helps a lot when it comes to maneuvering in zero gravity.

(Virstris) Sorry for the null-g, but we’ve begun staging some heavy equipment and it makes it a lot easier to handle.

(Valerie) So what have you been told?

(Virstris) Not much, Father had apparently requested our unit to come here a week ago. When we arrived, we were to await a Varen representative and assist as required. I was to evaluate combat performance and then deliver a report on my observations when done to Father.

   A week ago? Father must have been planning something like this for some time then. Did I just accelerate the schedule or did I provide the evidence to justify what he had already decided to do? Or was there something else going on here?

   We floated over to a briefing room and “sat down” while I floated the data card over to the computer. Four other officers apparently lower in rank than my sister were also in attendance. Once the data was transferred I called up a map of the mountains where the installation lay.

(Valerie) Our target is a Baramour bunker installation hidden deep within the mountains. Based on what data we’ve been able to obtain, there is only the main entrance in the mountain side. We suspect it is a bomb shelter or something similar.

(Virstris) Baramour huh? Well if Father wants us to knock off one of their bunkers, no skin off my back. Those guys creep me out.

(Valerie) One other thing, besides the traps, droids and regular guards, we are likely to encounter chimeras as well as actual Baramour.

(Virstris) Chimeras? You mean like hybrid animal experiments?

(Kira) Yep.

(Valerie) Yes, the one I encountered was exceptionally strong and fast for a nonsensitive creature.

   More details followed regarding what other chimeras have been found – quite a lot of which was new to me; a lot more information had come in while I was asleep; it looked like the Baramour had been preparing creatures designed to kill other Sith – Baramour unaccounted for, and likely types of droids might be found. Virstris assigned the various squads under her command different objectives and told everyone to suit up and prepare for a combat drop. The drop ship undocked from the station and entered it’s own lower orbit around Malachor V.

   Next time I saw my sister, she was suited up in powered armor that must have doubled her weight easily. She was busily checking the seals and fittings on another soldier’s armor. After they were all done checking each other, Virstris handed me a pair of vests and masks.

(Virstris) Those are for you and Kira. It’s an air mask and a rebreather system in case we lose atmosphere during the descent.

(Kira) Oh joy.

   We loaded up into the armored drop pods after donning our equipment. I will admit this was the first time I had ever done a combat drop. Gravity returned hard as the pods dropped and we hit the atmosphere. I could feel the excitement and anxiety of the soldiers around me through the Force. Virstris, strapped in across from me, gave me a thumbs up with a big mechanical hand before switching her attention to a display on her visor.

   I shifted my focus to sensing the planet below as we approached. I could the very planet turning beneath us and looming larger in my senses with every passing moment. I couldn’t pick up any Force signatures of any sensitives save for Kira though. We were still too far away.

   Soon the shaking stopped and the engines kicked in to guide us to our landing point. With a rather rough jolt we hit the ground and the soldiers began pouring out of the pods. I activated my bracers and strode into the sunlight without a care, scanning the area as I went.

   I could see the other drop pods around us with the Varen soldiers forming a defense perimeter. Support droids were floating everywhere now as they too unloaded from the drop pods. My sister quickly took command of the situation and sent one squad on scouting, two on securing nearby mountain tops, and the other two on setting up a perimeter around the bunker entrance. I was pleased with the efficiency of her command.

   Scouts reported back on several probe and sensor droids in the surrounding area and were working on systematically destroying them. No sign of any other entrances besides the one we knew of. We also got comfirmation that the two squads had secured the overlooking mountain tops nearby and were busily setting up firing positions.

   The two remaining squads, Virstris, Kira and I then began our push towards the bunker entrance. Sensor droids didn’t detect any mines or other major defenses, nor did my senses pick up anything unusual. we came within sight of the entrance before stopping at the edge of the treeline.

(Virstris) Very lightly defended place you’ve got here.

(Kira) Something’s wrong, I don’t like it.

(Valerie) I don’t sense anything, why do you?

(Kira) It’s not the Force I am talking about, something’s not adding up.

(Virstris) Nothing is showing up on scanners either. If it is a trap, then there is no way to proceed without springing it or laying siege to the place.

(Valerie) We are not laying siege, Father wanted this done as quickly and cleanly as possible.

(Kira) Besides, which is worse, purposefully springing a trap or laying siege to an empty bunker?

   I must admit, the prospect of laying siege for months on end only to find out that the bunker was empty was more than enough motivation to proceed. Virstris sent a team forward towards the door itself. I knew that whoever was here had to know we were here as well, but I still would have liked these soldiers to move a little more quietly. Those large armored feet stomp more than step.

   Once the soldiers and droids were about halfway between the treeline and the door, three turrets popped out of the ground and opened fire on them. The armor and shields gave them enough protection to fall back under heavy fire while the rest of the two squads returned fire. The turrets themselves looked to be of the light repeating type meant to overwhelm a Sith or Jedi and were not meant to take out heavily armored opponents.

   The exchange of fire continued until our fire support started firing missiles at the turrets and destroyed them. Casualties were very light, only minor damage to the armor and a few droids will be needing repairs. Spare droids were brought up to replace the fallen. The same team as before then pushed ahead again towards the door. Once they reached the door safely, Virstris led another team in while Kira and I followed.

   Up close the door was thick and obviously set into a framwork hidden within the surrounding stone. There was no obvious panel or keypad to open it with. Our intel made no mention on how to open it either.

   One of the soldiers took out a cutting tool and poked a hole through the door. Once completed, he then threaded a small snake droid through the hole and routed the visual to the rest of us. Other side of the door was showing signs of an obvious struggle with blaster burns on the walls and the remains of several battledroids lying on the floor. No lights were on and no sign of any power sources still operational.

(Kira) Not good.

(Virstris) Think one of their experiments escaped?

(Valerie) Probably, open the door and let’s see what else we find.

(Virstris) Yeah, let’s get this door open. I want one full squad up here when it’s open and the other making defensive lines to fall back to. Nothing comes out of this bunker.

   Kira could have probably gotten the door open faster than the soldier with the cutting tool, but it gave time for the soldiers to get into position first. Large powered gauntlets grasped the now disconnected door and moved it out of the way while the soldiers trained heavy blaster rifles on the entrance. It was obvious from the smoldering scene of the battle that it had occurred recently, but any survivors were no longer present.

   Heading in, we found a security station that used to house a number of droids, all missing or destroyed. Nothing else was on this floor save an elevator down into the mountain. The doors to the elevator were torn off by something and lying on the floor. The elevator car itself was missing leaving us with a straight shaft going down for an indeterminate distance.

   A soldier scanned the shaft before giving the thumbs up. Another pair quickly set up a cable and anchored it to the floor with a pin. Once the rope was secured, a pair of soldiers began descending into the shaft. Soon the report came back that the elevator car was found smashed at the bottom along with the elevator door on that level too. Sensor scans showed another two floors beneath the debris of the elevator car.

   As several more soldiers descended down the shaft, I stepped off the ledge and levitated down. Kira didn’t have enough skill to manage that and so used his ability to help him climb down the rope quickly. At the bottom I saw the car had been smashed from above like it had taken a heavy impact of something falling from above. It was pitch black down here save for the lights of the soldiers.

   I still felt no life signs save for our own. Going through the ruined door and into the hallway showed more destroyed droids and signs of battle. I also became aware of the smell of blood. Virstris and Kira smelled it too as they readied weapons and signaled to the others to do the same. Taking a flashlight from one of the soldiers, we started a room by room search.

   We found offices, supply, and utility rooms. All empty of life, but with obvious signs of a recent struggle. The very air felt like it was filled with a feeling of panic and dread. At the end of the hallway in a room labelled as “Medical Testing” we found the source of the smell of blood.

   The walls and floor were caked with dried blood. There was no bodily remains though. The smell in here was overpowering enough that one of the soldiers began to retch. I thought I spotted something and went to have a look.

(Kira) Oh, now this is just perfect. Just how many people do you have to kill to make this big a mess?

(Virstris) You don’t want to know.

(Valerie) This is not good, whoever or whatever did this was superhuman.

(Virstris) Why do you say that?

(Valerie) There are the broken remains of at least six lightsabers in here.

(Kira) Wait, whatever did this killed six full Sith at once? And then fought it’s way past all those droids and security systems?

(Virstris) Oh hell, I’m bringing another full squad down here now.

(Valerie) Good idea.

   We spent our time fortifying the hallway leading back to the elevator while we waited for the other squad to come down and join us. Desks, tables, and other furniture was thrown into the hallway to form barricades and covered firing positions. Meanwhile some of the other soldiers started welding the twisted mass of metal that was the elevator car in place to prevent anything coming up the shaft from below. A few structural beams procured from empty offices helped reinforce the whole thing. Soon the other squad was down on our level, doubling our firepower.

   With the reinforcements in tow, we began to push forward again. The hallway beyond Medical Testing carried that same smell of blood. A thick trail of blood at least half a meter wide like someone had drug a wet mop across the floor leaving a wet trail of red down the hallway. The darkness was really not helping the mood down here either.

   I was most pleased with the level of professionalism my sister’s soldiers displayed. I could tell many of them were fearful of what they might find down here, but they all continued to systematically search the floor. Perhaps nonsensitive siblings can prove to be an asset after all. I also see that Father’s trust was well placed.

   More laboratories, offices, and supplies down here. We found the stairs down to the next level at the end of the corridor. The trail of blood continued downwards as well. I was about to climb down when I felt a hand grab my shoulder. Whirling around I barely caught myself from smashing my fist into Virstris’s face. That brief look of fear in her eyes turned to a stammered apology before she leaned in and whispered to me.

(Virstris) Do you hear that?

(Valerie) Hear what? I don’t hear a thing.

(Virstris) Listen carefully, something’s breathing.

   At first I couldn’t hear a thing, but focusing my talents on my hearing I noticed that what I had assumed to be the ventilation system was pulsing slowly. Something down here was moving a lot of air rhythmically and it sounded alive. But I still couldn’t sense anything alive down here at all besides us.

   A chill ran down my spine as I considered the possibilities. Evidence suggested the Baramour had attempted to perform a blood ritual in their desperation to survive the purge. That would certainly explain all the blood and lack of other remains. It was also evident they lost control completely and let the abomination loose upon themselves.

   Luckily the main entrance had been thick enough to prevent it from escaping outside. Doors which we had recently torn open. Peering over the edge of the stairwell, I tried to decide whether to pull back and barricade the entrance while calling for help or to continue on and try to slay the abomination. Right when I was about to order a retreat back to the entrance, I noticed something moving in the stairwell below me.