EXT. XUTHLTAN – DRIED-UP RIVERBED – DAWN
The survivors of the Wayward Son march on, sluggish and weary from over a week of nigh-endless exertion under the planet’s unyielding dry heat.
Lids heavy, Moulin uncaps her canteen and raises it to her long, cracked lips. When her tongue is met with no water, she taps the bottom of the canteen, but nothing comes forth.
ZOSIME MOULIN: (returns the empty canteen to her belt) Well, that’s that; I’m dry.
KATHE NAAD: (offers her her own canteen) Here, have some of mine.
ZOSIME MOULIN: (raises her hands) I couldn’t.
KATHE NAAD: Please. I can do with less water than you.
Tentatively, the amphibian takes the young woman’s canteen. Uncapping it, she takes a short sip.
ZOSIME MOULIN: (returns the canteen to Kathe) Thank you.
CMDR. VANESS: (halts) Stop.
At the commander’s order, the others come to a sudden halt. Before them, almost unnoticeable from their angle of observation, the river bed comes to an abrupt end, transitioning into a vertical drop in the rock which stretches several metres. Most likely a high waterfall at some point in this world’s history, it – along with the rest of the landscape – dried up a long time ago.
With Obi-Wan’s assistance, Bail lowers Cody’s stretcher. He then joins his second-in-command at the drop.
BAIL: (looks over the drop) It goes down a ways. (beat) It looks too steep to climb down.
KATHE NAAD: We managed to salvage line from the wreck.
BAIL: Let’s have it.
Lowering their packs, Anakin, Kathe, and Moulin begin fishing around inside in search of the line. The Gungan soon finds the bundle of line in one of hers. Striding over to the captain and commander, she presents it to them.
BAIL: It might not be long enough.
ANAKIN: (points at something in the distance) What’s that way over there?
Following his finger, Bail and Vaness find, past the dried-up waterfall, far away but not beyond walking distance, a large mass rising out of the otherwise flat terrain. Pulling out her pair of electrobinoculars, Vaness takes a look.
CMDR. VANESS’ P.O.V. – ZIGGURAT
Through the electrobinoculars, we can see that the mass is no natural formation. Though fine details still cannot be made out, it is clearly a ziggurat, consisting of two levels with a prominent ramp leading to the first and a stairway leading to the second.
Vaness handing the electrobinoculars to Bail.
VANESS: It’s a ziggurat.
BAIL: (looks through the electrobinoculars) Well, this world’s not as empty as we were led to believe.
VANESS: There’re no other traces of civilization, Bail. No agriculture; no other buildings; definitely no sign of people. It looks as dead as everything else we’ve seen.
BAIL: You may be right. Regardless, there still may be something of value inside. I’m game to find out if you are.
VANESS: (shrugs) I’m game.
BAIL: Alright. (to the others) We’ll rest here ‘til sundown. We have a long trek ahead of us come nightfall.
Later that day, after the sun(s) have lowered, colouring the sky the dim blue-gray of twilight.
The line has been secured to an outcropping of rock; Vaness and Anakin are already making their way down the old waterfall.
OBI-WAN: I don’t believe it’s wise to take Cody along with us. We don’t know how grievous his injuries are; we could do him serious harm if we tried lowering him down the line.
BAIL: Then one of us is going to have to stay behind to keep a watch over him.
KATHE NAAD: I’ll do it.
ZOSIME MOULIN: If you don’t mind, Captain, I’d like to stay, too. We haven’t run up against any dangers so far, but if that were to change, it’d be better for there to be two around to protect the commander than one.
BAIL: (nods) Very well. We’ll leave you some extra water and a comlink. Contact us if his condition changes at all.
Moulin nods once in acknowledgement.
Bail, Vaness, Obi-Wan, and Nik as they lower themselves down the line centimetre-by-centimetre. Moulin and Naad, back on top with the unconscious Cmdr. Cody, watch them make their descent.
Soon they come to the end of the line. Letting go, they fall a short but safe distance to the bottom.
EXT. DESERT – MONTAGE
Bail, Vaness, Obi, and Anakin spend the next several hours hiking through the desolate landscape towards the mysterious ziggurat.
EXT. ZIGGURAT – DAWN
The team of four finally arrives at the ziggurat. Up close, it can now be seen that the magnificent edifice has been wrought out of large red granite blocks, each expertly cut and fitted without the use of mortar. Thousands of years old, the construct has remained remarkably intact, having suffered little damage from the harsh environ.
In awe of the ancient ziggurat, the travellers ascend the long ramp leading up into the structure.
INT. ZIGGURAT/ENTRANCE GALLERY – DAWN
The four Humans pass through the open entrance into the gallery beyond. Phosphorescent pigments applied to the runes carved in the walls afford the passage a natural illumination. Lining the walls at regular intervals between the runic inscriptions are several tall statues, each carved in the likeness of humanoid beings, some with plaited beards, all with strange tusk-like protrusions erupting from their cheeks. Obi-Wan halts at the sight of these statues, an immediate recognition setting in.
OBI-WAN: Heavens ….
OBI-WAN: This is a Sith temple.
BAIL: (confused) Sith?
CMDR. VANESS: Don’t you know your history, Bail? The Sith were a cult; the dark Jedi Exar Kun created them four-thousand years ago.
Stepping up to one of the statues, Obi examines it closely.
OBI-WAN: No. This is a creation of the original Sith, a race which reigned in their own region of space in the thousands of years before Kun.
BAIL: These Sith, they’re bad news?
OBI-WAN: They were once – long, long ago. (beat) They’re extinct now.
Leaving the statue, Obi-Wan continues down the gallery. The others follow after.
INT. ZIGGURAT/BURIAL CHAMBER – DAWN
The Humans emerge into the burial chamber. A large, conical chamber, twelve panels line the walls, each engraved with murals depicting the personal history of the chamber’s lone inhabitant. In the centre of the chamber, bathed in rainbow light falling through a prismatic skylight set in the distant ceiling above, is a sarcophagus of white jade, the life-like effigy of an attractive Sith woman chiselled into the lid.
ANAKIN: (shivers) Frigid in here.
The others, including Obi, look on the Jedi apprentice strangely.
ANAKIN: (rubs his arms) Don’t you feel it?
OBI-WAN: I don’t feel anything.
CMDR. VANESS: It’s no cooler in here than it is out there.
ANAKIN: It’s got to be 10° in here. How can you not feel it?
CMDR. VANESS: It’s just this place. It gives me the willies, too.
Leaving the others, Anakin approaches the sarcophagus. Examining the serene, sleeping face engraved on the sarcophagus lid, he then places a hand upon the effigy’s carved hands.
ANAKIN: (snatches his hand back) OW!
OBI-WAN: (takes a step forward; concerned) What?!
ANAKIN: (holds his afflicted hand) It’s ice cold!
Striding over to the sarcophagus, Obi rests his own hand on it; he feels nothing out of the ordinary.
BAIL: Let’s go. There’s nothing here for us.
Bail heads off, the others following suit. Anakin dallies momentarily, giving the sarcophagus one last look before leaving with the rest.
EXT. ZIGGURAT – DAWN
Having emerged from the burial chamber, the four work their way up the staircase to the second level of the ziggurat. There they find another entrance leading into yet another chamber.
INT. ZIGGURAT/TREASURE CHAMBER – DAWN
Entering this second chamber, the ersatz explorers are greeted with a magnificent sight. Countless dozens of chests and urns – all containing precious gems, metal trinkets, and other valuable items – line the walls in several columns, all surrounding a beautiful Sith yacht. Onyx-black and inlaid with red jasper trim, the sensual organic contours of the ship look less the product of an automated assembly line and more the exquisite masterpiece of a peerless artisan.
ANAKIN: (whistles) That is one gorgeous ship!
Slowly, almost as if in supplication, they approach the Sith yacht.
BAIL: (runs his hand along the side of the ship) Amazing! It feels almost liquid!
OBI-WAN: Dark though the Sith were, it is hard not to be held in awe by their works. They were master craftsmen; art was a religion to them and they applied it to all walks of their lives.
CMDR. VANESS: It is a magnificent ship – too magnificent. (beat) There’s treasure in the top floor, a jade sarcophagus in the bottom; between the two, there’s a fair bit to steal; why isn’t this entire complex locked down tight?
OBI-WAN: Perhaps the builders were aware of their world’s fate and concluded that larceny wasn’t a problem that would have to be dealt with.
Wandering over to one of the chests, Nik flings the lid open.
ANAKIN: (grins) Guys, you’re not going to believe what’s here.
The other three join him. Peering inside, they see just what it is that the apprentice has found.
ANAKIN: Carbon-frozen food, as fresh as the day it was sealed.
CMDR. VANESS: (ecstatic) When the Sith pack a lunch for the afterlife, they sure pack it tight, don’t they?
Moving to another chest, Anakin flings it open, then moves over to yet another chest and flings it open; in both is more carbon-frozen food and water.
ANAKIN: There’s a month’s worth of food in these crates alone!
BAIL: We’ll take one back with us when we leave.
CMDR. VANESS: We should try getting aboard the ship. We can’t fly it out of here, but there may still be enough juice in its onboard systems to broadcast an SOS.
BAIL: (nods) Let’s do it.
INT. SITH YACHT/COCKPIT – DAWN
Having figured out how to open the entry hatch, they climb inside the cozy ship. As with the exterior, the interior is crafted along organic lines. Crossing over to the controls, they don’t find the usual switches or buttons but an array of control crystals, all embedded into the panel.
CMDR. VANESS: (frowns; to Obi-Wan) Do you know how to operate these controls? I certainly don’t.
OBI-WAN: (scrutinizes the control crystals) I’m not familiar with them, no, but most Sith technology was reputed to be Force-based; if these crystals are at all attuned to the Force, I may be able to intuit their function.
Positioning his hands over the crystals, Obi-Wan closes his eyes. Several moments pass, then he begins – with much concentration and consideration – to lay his hands down on the crystals, touching a select few of them in a non-random order. Once he has completed the sequence, those crystals which have been touched begin to resonate with a throbbing glow.
OBI-WAN: There – it’s done.
Grinning, Vaness takes Obi by the shoulders, spins him around, and plants a firm kiss on his lips.
CMDR. VANESS: If I wasn’t spoken for, I’d award you more than a kiss.
Try as he might, the knight can’t keep himself from blushing.
EXT. ZIGGURAT – DAY
With one of the chests of food and drink held between the four of them, Obi, Nik, Vaness, and Bail descend the ramp, en-route back to their three companions waiting by the drop.
INT. ZIGGURAT/BURIAL CHAMBER – DAY
Back inside the burial chamber, all is still and quiet. Suddenly, the twelve muraled panels on the walls begin to retract into the ceiling, revealing hidden compartments behind them.
As a heavy mist begins to billow out from the dark openings, a LARGE YELLOW HAND BEARING THREE LARGE BLACK CLAWS reaches out from one of them.