Characters (and what we know about them so far):
Claymore Trelk: Senator of the Poulos system
*Hara-Kalor: Kwol Jedi Padawan
*Oord Womba: Republic Investigator
*Piban Macrosun: Pilot.
R0-B1: Protocol droid (?)
*Trian Letstra: Street tech
* Only asterisked PCs went on this adventure
"We're not going" said the senator, indicating Beeone and himself. The droid nodded.
Oord paused with his foot on the step of the flatbed speeder. Flitch climbed in, claws scratching on the rim. Beside him, Trian muttered sarcastic disappointment at the senator's staying.
"We could use you" Oord said, and climbed in.
"Well, we could use the droid" added Trian, extending the aerial of the portable sensor unit he carried. "That shield of his could come in handy. What are you, anyway? That sort of hardware doesn't come with any protocol model I've ever seen".
"Senatorial privileges" Claymore cut him off. "Look, the doogo are sending a diplomatic envoy into the forests to contact the mong, to find out the cause of this conflict. I'm a neutral third party, and my skills are needed. You're only going to shut down a jamming beam".
"And whoever's running it" put in Piban, from the driver's seat of the speeder. "Probably whoever is bombing the hills with those ships. There could be an army of mong up there for all we know".
"Then stay with your speeder" Claymore advised. "It's faster than any mong vehicle we're aware of. Good luck".
"Good luck yourself" Piban replied dismissively. "Going out to meet an attacking force with only a friendly smile for protection? You're the one on the suicide mission". He stamped on the accelerator, and the speeder slid across the grass toward the mountains.
"I've got a bearing on that jammer" informed Trian, wind whipping through his hair. The sensor unit squealed its consent, and Piban started to adjust his heading.
"Not yet" said Oord, pointing to a plume of dust in the distance. "We'll pass close to where they've been bombing. Let's check it out". Flitch nodded his rodentlike head in agreement, fur rippling as they travelled.
over an hour of driving (and Flitch's direction) they coasted up
to where a large crater had been blasted out of the foothills.
Almost eighty feet across, it still fed a dusty haze into the
Piban kept the speeder at a distance, upwind. "We don't know what they dropped" he rationalised.
Hara-Kalor stood at full height, but couldn't see down into the crater. "What now?" he hissed.
"We could use your little droid..." Oord suggested of Trian.
"What?" the tech raised a hand to his shoulder protectively. "There could be anything down there!"
"Such as?" the investigator replied. "Toxic chemicals? Radiation? A droid is immune to all that. Unless you'd like a look yourself?"
Trian hesitated, sighed, then pointed at the gaping hole in the earth. The little droid detached itself from his shoulder and ran down his arm, dropping to the grass. It scampered to the lip of the crater, paused as if sniffing the air, then vanished into it.
"Clever" commented Piban as Trian removed a boxlike device from his belt. Sliding it open, he thumbed on a small screen that showed the view through the droid's eyes.
"There's an object at the bottom of the crater" he reported, squinting. "Mostly buried. There's a lot of dust, it's hard to make out. I'm moving him closer..."
paused, then gave a puzzled look to the others. "It's a rock".
Piban shook his head. "That's just a chunk of debris, and a bomb wouldn't leave much."
[What debris?] Flitch voiced his disagreement. [The rest of the crater is just clay soil].
He was right. Trian's droid chipped off a bit of the rock and brought it up to study. It didn't seem to belong to the surrounding geology, but it was just rock.
"This is bizarre" said Oord. "Let's gave a look at one of the other craters".
The next one revealed a similar chunk of stone (hot and charred, but just stone), then the next.
"Perhapss they're sseedss or ssomething" pondered Hara-Kalor. "and aren't sstone insside".
[Enough] growled Flitch impatiently. [We know where the beam is and these people are- let's go and ask them].
"Now we're getting somewhere" grunted Oord, cleaning his blaster's muzzle.
Piban drove them up into the foothills, heading for the jamming beam as Trian navigated. Before half an hour had passed, the hills had become steep enough to steer their passage into gullies and crevasses. Finally he parked the speeder at the entrance to a canyon.
"From here, we're on foot" he said, stepping down onto the broken terrain.
It was a steep walk at first, which became a clamber over small boulders as the canyon walls towered around them. A slight wind blew up the gorge, and any sound they made echoed betrayal of their passing. Oord studied his surroundings, feeling exposed.
"The Ssith have returned" muttered Hara-Kalor as they travelled. "I sstill don't believe it. Their order was desstroyed long ago".
Piban shrugged. "Who cares? It's an old message from an ancient artifact. If that thing heralded another great age of the Sith, don't you think we would have seen it before now?"
scales on the Kwol's throat-path turned orange "The droidss were gone. The
other crysstalss were gone. That machine was built to train Ssith
in the event of itss masster'ss death, and it hass done sso. Evil
growss in the sshadowss, where it cannot be sseen".
The narrowing canyon ended in a towering V of rock. "Wait here" Hara-Kalor advised, walking to the wall. Using his claws, the reptile scaled the rock face with little effort. The end of a climbing cable curled down.
Trian climbed first, and had made it almost halfway when he slipped. Scrabbling ineffectually for handholds, he fell and landed heavily on his hip, rolling around and cursing at the pain. "Never was much of a climber" he said through clenched teeth as he waved Flitch forward. The Doogo clambered to the top, followed by Piban.
climbed two-thirds of the way up again, grunting at each jolting
movement, and Oord had begun his ascent to help him when a
blaster bolt smacked the cliff face alongside them. There was a
second of stunned hesitation, as they realised how exposed they
"Climb!" Oord bellowed, holding the rope one-handed and unslinging his blaster. As Trian scrambled to obey, the investigator fired a few bolts in the general direction from which it came. The unknown sniper fired again, blasting the cliff face near Trian's head and showering them all with chips of rock. The tech reached the top and rolled into some of the waist-high bushes that littered the rocky terrain.
Piban and Flitch gave random cover fire to let Oord resume climbing. Trian pulled his control box from his belt, noticing as he did so that the bolts were coming from some rocks at the top of the canyon a hundred meters back along one of its walls, and the Jedi was nowhere to be seen.
"Let's see what we're
he said, dropping his droid to the ground. It began to scurry
along the top of the other canyon wall.
Hara-Kalor kept low to the ground, using the scrubby bushes for concealment and working his way toward their assailant (or assailants) with his deactivated force lash in hand. Senses tingling, he prepared to defend himself and his companions.
Though he had been alert to his surroundings, he suddenly came upon a crouched humanoid he had failed to sense, dressed in a shabby coverall and wielding a stubby blaster. As surprised as the padawan, the man swung the weapon to shoot him point blank. Hara-Kalor's purple energy blade flashed into being and he slashed downward, hoping to cut the weapon in half, but the man's reflexive twist brought him into contact with the force lash, and he was bisected through the torso.
Jedi watched the corpse drop to the dust and felt sick, his
throat patch phasing to gray with the emotion. He still had much
to learn of control. Shutting down his force lash, he resumed his
As Piban blasted away with gusto, Trian peered intently through his droid's eyes, across the canyon.
He increased the magnification. "Two of them behind the rocks, using blaster carbines without scopes" he reported as Oord swung himself over the cliff top to land beside him. Blaster fire immediately raked the area, and they all pressed themselves into the dirt.
"They're not professional
the investigator added. "We're still alive. Though they were cunning
enough to let us walk past and wait for us to climb up". He moved some
distance from the others, then began to casually return fire.
Hara-Kalor had almost reached the rocks when a carefully sighted shot from Piban caught one of the snipers in the head. The other one saw the Jedi coming, and struggled to move his carbine from its temporary mount in the rock.
The padawan ignited his force lash (causing the others to hold their fire) and held up a scaled claw. "Ssurrender" he hissed. "We do not wissh further killing". It may not have been true of all of them, the Kwol thought, but he could try to convince the others later. Besides, they had to find out what this was all about.
The man stood up, revealing a circular purple tattoo of some kind on his forehead. "You are already dead!" he shouted. "Lord Raij will kill you all for his pleasure!"
Hara-Kalor blinked. "What do you mean? Who iss..." but the man was already moving.
Over the cliff.
Piban peered down at the crumpled figure. "What a senseless waste of human life" he shook his head sadly.
"Yeah, he was" Oord snorted in disgust. He paused. "Oh, you meant that the other way".
Trian approached them through the bushes, still limping slightly and fiddling with the scanner. "We're getting close to the jammer, people" he announced confidently as his droid scampered up his shoulder.
[How do you know?] asked Flitch, claiming the sniper's blaster carbine. [It's a beam]
"Yes, but it's been made to
stop transmissions from your entire city" explained Trian.
it's being transmitted from a single point, it's cone shaped. We
found the edges of the cone while looking at the craters, and I
found them again just then- it's why I went for a walk. From the
difference in the cone's width, the transmitter is only a couple
of clicks away over that ridge" he pointed to a rocky outcropping.
They set out again, sipping water and nibbling ration sticks. The walking was steeper but less jagged underfoot, for which the humans were appreciative. They started to tire as time wore on, and as they carefully crested the summit the afternoon sun lit the scene before them with a tint of orange.
"By the way" Oord said to Flitch. "I never thanked you for getting my blaster back from the mong. That was quite a shot".
[Your thanks is welcome] said Flitch, struggling with his halting basic. [I am a first generation student of violence].
"Oh, good" commented Piban. They walked in silence until curiosity got the better of him. "What does that mean?"
Flitch preened his whiskers with a paw. [We are a peaceful race, and have little need of the ways of fighting. When there is no conflict, our people turn their energies to peaceful pursuits, and the knowledge of war is only preserved through one or two weapons masters. When the need arises they choose and teach their students, who teach theirs and so on, so our people are once again ready to defend ourselves. We learn quickly].
thought back to the savage battle at the city wall, and wondered
what would have happened if he and his companions had not
assisted them. "I just hope for your sakes" he grunted "that it's quick enough".
A small crest, and the mountainous climbing gave way to a plateau that stretched before them. Oord sighted through his blaster's macroscope as Hara-Kalor opened his eyes to the Force.
In the distance they could see that a temporary camp had been constructed on the plateau, at the edge of a large volcanic sinkhole that plunged deep into the earth. The dark parabolic dish of the jamming transmitter was ringed by thick antennae, giving the impression of an evil hand that reached for the city they'd come from. Beside it were two small ships, a temporary building and a squat guard tower.
Knowing that a mistake could prove disastrous, they took their time as they crept closer. Though the plateau offered less rocky outcroppings than down at the canyon, it was still dotted by the same scrubby bushes that aided their concealment.
"Now what?" whispered Piban as they crept to within twenty metres of the building.
"I'd like a look at that jammer" replied Trian, evoking a nod from Hara-Kalor. "Shutting it down is why we came".
"One of the reasons why we came" corrected Oord. "We still don't know who these guys are, or why they're doing this. You two shut down the jammer- we can get into the building and find some answers. Once you're finished, check out the ships and see if they're the ones throwing rocks at the hillsides".
nodded, his throat-patch showing shades of orange as they crept
Oord led Piban and Flitch toward the building. They'd taken the time to work their way around this far so that its plasticrete walls were between them and the guard tower. This had appeared a good plan until they saw that there were no doors on their side.
He moved to a corner. Kneeling to give a less visible profile, he quickly glanced around the corner and back again.
Fortune was not with them. The thick-set battle droid in the guard tower happened to be facing toward them, and brought his blaster around as Oord's head drew back.
"OK" said the investigator, cocking his heavy blaster. "We do this the old-fashioned way". Leaping around the corner, he pumped a heavy bolt at the droid that blasted a hole in the tower's roof. Before he could curse Piban was beside him, loosing two quick shots that also missed. Flitch, while slower on the uptake, hit the droid squarely in the head and it collapsed like a stringless puppet.
like this gun]
the rodent commented.
Spotting a door into the building, Oord ran up to it. It hissed open to reveal a man who had been been coming out, blaster in hand. The two men gaped at each other for a second, but Oord's reflexes were quicker and he dispatched his assailant with a point-blank shot to the chest. Piban checked that he was dead, and they went inside as Flitch ran for the tower to keep watch.
The building was small and simple- a few rooms leading from a central corridor that was currently empty. The nearest room's door was open, the man having apparently come from there.
Oord inspected it. To his trained eye, the man appeared to have been some sort of mercenary. The place was a mess- there was obviously no discipline here, or unit insignia. The bed was unkempt, and food, a broken vibroblade and other objects littered a small table. Behind him, another man emerged from a room only to be instantly cut down by a two precise shots from Piban.
One of the objects on the table gave a crackling sound- a comlink. "Facet base, this is Rough Cut. Everything okay up there? We thought we heard blaster fire".
Oord grabbed the communicator. "Yeah, everything's fine" he said. "We.. uh.. just dropped a couple of crates of stuff".
"Again? We don't have to leave in that much of a hurry" replied the voice, making Oord breathe again. "They better hope the boss wasn't there. Who was it this time?"
"It was... uh.. Fhhmmhmhmm" he coughed.
There was a slight pause, and the comlink clicked off.
"Heads up, Piban!" Oord headed out of the room "They've got friends!"
Following some giant power cables, Hara-Kalor and Trian (still limping) had covered two-thirds of the distance to the jamming transmitter when they heard the sound of blasters. Not daring to go back and trusting that their friends could take care of themselves, they kept moving.
Rounding the corner of the massive machine, they found two men at what appeared to be a large and complex control panel. One of them had already drawn his blaster at the sound of the shooting, and a bolt of deadly light flashed underneath Trian's arm. He returned fire clumsily but effectively, taking down both men with a flurry of shots.
Hara-Kalor was not technically minded, but even he could tell that the bubbling and smoking of several controls was a bad sign.
Trian studied the machine. "I've never seen anything like this before" he said, drawing a multi-purpose tool from his belt.
Hara-Kalor gestured to his force lash hurriedly. "We have to sshut it down. Can't we jusst cut the power?"
The tech eyed the jedi patiently. "This thing is bombarding the city with precisely tuned electromag pulse radiation. If you put a surge though it, it could fry half the electricals in the city, or microwave some of the population, and that'd make you really popular, wouldn't it?" He began to work. "You'd better check out those ships while they're still there".
"All base personnel" the comlink buzzed in Oord's hand. "We're under attack by an unknown force. All the essentials are already loaded, just pull out- boss' orders".
He reached the far end of the building with Piban, who had just verified that the building was empty. Blaster fire could be heard outside.
Oord placed a hand against the wall, testing its flimsy construction. Not wanting to waste time working back through the building, he blasted some holes through the wall and roughly kicked a panel out.
Two men stood between the building and the ships. One was firing rapidly at the tower and had Flitch pinned down, the other shooting at Hara-Kalor as he ran for the ships. The sudden emergence of Piban and Oord was a surprise that was used to advantage, and the mercenaries dropped under a barrage of fire.
The two ships were distinctly different, Piban noted. One was a battered Z-43 fighter-bomber resting near the volcanic sinkhole, the other some type of polygonal shuttle with a large diagonal apparatus attached to it, emitting a low humming sound.
"Come on!" shouted Piban as he ran for the shuttle. "It's about to lift off!"
Hara-Kalor's Jedi robe flapped in the wind as he ran for his life, blaster bolts punching the ground behind his feet. Throwing himself toward the Z-43, he rolled underneath it to relative safety. As he did so, there was a metallic <clong> sound atop the vehicle. Completing the roll, the padawan passed underneath the ship, sprang to his feet and paused in alarm.
Standing on the hull of the fighter, feet spread apart and black cloak billowing in the breeze, stood a powerfully built, red-skinned humanoid. Beneath the hood he could see purple luminous veins that spread over the face, dark eyes glaring anger, and a gem glowed from its forehead with an eerie light. What was most shocking, however, was not what Hara-Kalor could see but what he felt- cold, powerful waves of hatred that emanated from its very being. The young Jedi had no doubt that he faced the embodiment of evil, a Dark Lord of the Sith.
Fear almost overwhelmed him in an instant, and he forced it down with a lifetime of training. Calm within himself and wary of the long drop into the sinkhole a few metres behind him, he activated his force lash and prepared for combat.
Sith quickly brought his arms up to form an X in front of him,
and Hara-Kalor noticed for the first time that there were black
metallic cylinders strapped to the back of the forearms, with
metal guards to stop the wrists bending back. With an answering <kssshh> a red saber blade ignited
from each, and it drew its arms back as it adopted a fighting
stance above him.
Hara-Kalor moved in, reaching high and aiming for its waist. As one wrist saber blocked the blow, Hara-Kalor used its momentum to twist his weapon in his hand, catching the other blade as it descended toward his head. Succeeding in keeping his opponent's guard high, Hara-Kalor dropped sharply to one knee and cut at its feet. The Sith was quick, incredibly quick, and while the Jedi's cut shaved off some of its cloak it failed to find flesh as the Dark Lord flipped over his head.
Hara-Kalor whirled, spinning his weapon as they faced off again, then the two combatants moved in. Weapons met in a squeal of energy and Hara-Kalor pushed forward, seeking to avoid being driven back against the starfighter. The Sith's twin blades kept the force lash moving in a defensive blur, and Hara-Kalor rarely found a moment to press his attack. When he did so, a sense of thirsty fulfilment radiated from the Sith as his weapons parried. Before another few seconds had passed, Hara-Kalor realised that he was totally outmatched.
He'ss toying with me, Hara-Kalor realised. He wants to try his skills against a Jedi.
With a crackle of wiring, the transmitter indicators showed green. Trian gave a smug grin of satisfaction and shifted some levers. The powerful hum of the jammer oozed down to silence. Beside him, Flitch pulled a data disc out of the dead mercenary's backpack and eyed it curiously.
"Now we can cut the power" Trian said, and did so.
It wasn't entirely unexpected, but as Piban and Oord ran up the shuttle ramp, they both did a double-take at the fact that the hold was full of rocks.
Oord burst into the cockpit to find only one pilot. He had a beard, a BlasTech .52 Longbarrel and, one second later, difficulty aiming without a head.
[GM's note: The PCs just kept winning initiative. Oord's damage roll include a couple of 6's on the wild die and went well into the heroic range- it was quite messy]
Ignoring the feint, the Sith caught Hara-Kalor's swinging blade in a raised X-block, then twisted the weapon to one side as he spun into a backfist. The Jedi staggered back with the force of it, but lifted his weapon and fearlessly moved in again.
A feeling reached him, a sense of finality. As the striking force lash was parried with its right blade, the Sith dropped and stabbed the left saber viciously through Hara-Kalor's thigh. The Kwol hissed piercingly, grabbing the wound by instinct as he fell to the ground beside his weapon. Agony consumed him, his throat-patch fading to a dull gray as his vision blurred. A rumbling, shaking sensation filled his senses as the Dark Lord loomed over him.
Sith stood there for a moment, savouring the Jedi's pain, then he
was gone, disappearing over the edge.
Hara-Kalor raised himself on one elbow, hissing in pain despite himself and trying to stem the blood flow from the partially cauterised wound. He looked around, not believing what he saw. Everything seemed to shake even more.
The area was lit up by engine glare as the massive shape of the Rough Cut, a black diamond-shaped corvette, blasted out of the sinkhole and lifted to the sky. The searing engine sound drowned all others, then slowly faded as it accelerated into the blue.
Hara-Kalor lay back as the sound of running feet reached him. "Hold on!" cried Oord, skidding to his knees and applying pressure to the wound. "Piban can fly that shuttle. We'll be back in the city in no time".
"The Ssith have returned" gasped Hara-Kalor. "I found Lord Rayj. He didn't kill me. Why?"