Star Wars Saga: SWTOR: Civil War on Ord Mantell 2012-03-17 CaesarCon
by, 03-26-2012 at 07:16 PM (3288 Views)
Friday, March 23, 2012
(After playing the Star Wars Saga scenario “SWTOR: Civil War on Ord Mantell” Saturday afternoon at CaesarCon with Scott Wakefield (GM), Aaron and Adam Frager, DJ Stevenson, and Chris and Xavier Sparks from 2 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.)
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....
CIVIL WAR RAGES. CHAOS GRIPS THE GALACTIC REPUBLIC.
INFLUENTIAL STAR SYSTEMS BREAK AWAY FROM THE MILLENNIA-OLD ALLIANCE,
ANGERED OVER THE SENATE’S TREATY WITH THE SITH EMPIRE.
THE MOUNTAINOUS PLANES AND VOLCANIC ISLANDS OF ORD MANTELL ARE LITTERED
WITH THE RAVAGES OF THE RUTHLESS CIVIL WAR.
KNOWN FOR BEING A HAVEN FOR SMUGGLERS, PIRATES, AND BOUNTY HUNTERS,
THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT OF ORD MANTELL, UNDER THE SWAY OF CRIME SYNDICATES,
DECIDED IT WAS BETTER BUSINESS TO STAY LOYAL TO THE REPUBLIC.
NOT ALL THE PLANET’S POPULACE AGREED, HOWEVER,
AND A SEPARATIST MOVEMENT BEGAN AND QUICKLY
ESCALATED INTO AN ARMED CONFLICT.
THE REPUBLIC FORCES ARE FIGHTING THE ELUSIVE SEPARATISTS
WHO ARE CONDUCTING GUERILLA STYLE STRIKES AGAINST
BOTH MILITARY AND CIVILIAN TARGETS.
ADDING QUESTIONS TO AN ALREADY QUESTIONABLE SITUATION,
THE PLANET’S GOVERNMENT, THOUGH LOYAL TO THE REPUBLIC,
IS MERELY A PUPPET REGIME FOR UNDERWORLD CONCERNS.
STRATEGIC INFORMATION SERVICES (SIS) HAS BEEN TASKED WITH
UNCOVERING CORRUPTION IN THE GOVERNMENT AND MILITARY RANKS.
THEIR CURRENT TARGET, THE TRAITOR ONLY KNOWN AS BYNTIC,
HAS BEEN SELLING TACTICAL DATA AND ADVANCED EXPERIMENTAL
MEDICAL SUPPLIES TO THE ENEMY....
I am Alorn Loik, Miralukan Jedi.
I was born to a species that was no stranger to the force, a species born with “force sight” since we have no eyes. It was not uncommon for young Miralukans to become Jedi with their natural force sensitivity.
I was no exception.
I studied as a Jedi Initiate on Coruscant and would regularly spend time with another Initiate named Jorran Darklighter. We became fast friends.
When the Jedi Temple was invaded by Darth Malgus and his Sith Warriors, many Jedi defenders took up arms to meet the attack. As it reached further into the Temple, Jorran and I fought side by side to buy the other initiates time to escape.
It was a successful use of our lives, as we were both defeated by a Sith named Vulnas. We had rushed the Sith, but I found myself flying backwards after being hit by an arc of Force Lightning. The last thing I saw before passing out was the Sith stabbing Jorran in the face with his lightsaber. I awoke on a medical ship and learned that the Jedi Temple had been destroyed and that many Jedi had died, including Jorran, and had been buried in the rubble of the temple after it had collapsed.
Word of what had happened reached Kel Dor Jedi Master Rye’an and he took me under his wing as his Padawan. The Jedi Order soon relocated our headquarters to the ancestral Jedi homeworld of Tython, where my official Padawan training began. Master Rye’an and I aided the Republic for the next three years, specifically working with SIS (Republic Strategic Information Service) on special missions.
They had recently requested my help on such a mission to Ord Mantell.
The others in the SIS cell included Reoga D’an, a Bith Slicer; Tanal’sil, a Twi’lek thief; Sgt. Tenric Tavon, a human and part of the Republic Army; Greebus, a Rodian scout; and So Leet, a Cerean noble/doctor. We had been recruited to be part of an elite team with the primary mission of uncovering the identity of Byntic.
Ord Mantell had been colonized by Corellians over 9,000 years before. The planet became a staging point for Republic military operations on the outer rim. The world’s strategic value waned over the centuries. However, after a corrupt admiral sold off the fleet, the military all but abandoned the planet. It soon became a haven for smugglers, pirates, and bounty hunters. The crime syndicates still controlled it. Though contested during the war with the Sith Empire, things changed after the Treaty of Coruscant divided the galaxy between the Republic and the Sith. Though many star systems withdrew from the Republic, Ord Mantell’s governor decided it was better business to stay loyal. There had been a civil war there ever since. Marauders had fought a hit and run fight to drive the military off the planet. Over the last three years, separatist attacks had ravaged the planet and destabilized the corrupt government. Despite the difficult situation, Ord Mantell’s defenses were being bolstered. Crime syndicates, backed by local government, were bringing in potent black market technologies and the Republic was deploying its most elite forces.
The separatists were barely better than terrorists. They “recruited” youths starting at the age of 15, drugged them with stimulants, and sent them off to fight.
We met at the appointed time at one of the storage buildings in the warehouse district. Although still fortified, the district was separated by a duracrete gate that led into the area. A silver protocol droid approached us.
“I am C-63,” it said. “Humanoid cybernetic relations. I am trained in over six million military and paramilitary rules and regulations. I am here to escort you to the office where you will be meeting Lt. Drakkar.”
It took us to a back office and asked us to have a seat, telling us Lt. Drakkar would be with us momentarily.
“Thank you and have a pleasant day,” it said before it departed.
As we waited, we heard two voices speaking in the office beyond. One was deep and low. The other sounded like a woman.
“Lieutenant, I heard about Meesik,” the male voice said. “I’m sorry about the loss. Any information on what happened?”
“Major, thank you for condolences,” the woman’s voice said, “but you know I cannot share the specifics with you.”
“Hey, we are all on the same side here. I just wanted to make sure you’re okay and to let you know I’m here if you need me.”
“I can’t thank you enough. I’ll be okay. Antilles, don’t think I don’t respect your friendship, especially after what we went through on Kikiyunga. I just have a lot on my mind and am actually getting ready for a meeting.”
“Of course, of course. I actually must be leaving myself. I have a report I need to get to General Vander and then a meeting with Magistrate Anturis on what we need to do to better the lives of the civilians. I mean, we’re in the middle of a civil war, and all he can think about is when his next shipment of spice is coming in.”
“Now I don’t feel so bad about my deed, knowing I don’t have to deal with him.”
A few moments later, a woman with short brown hair and jade green eyes entered the room. She shut the door behind her and walked to the desk. She pushed a button, causing a light blue haze to cover the door.
“Noise dampener,” she said, looking at the door. “Don’t know who could be listening.”
“We were listening before,” I told her.
“Which is why,” she said. “No one can hear this conversation.”
She looked us over.
“Thank you for coming,” she went on. “You have all been chosen for your expertise and previous contributions to the SIS. As you all have heard in the initial report sent to you, we have a traitor in our midst that needs rooted out. More specifically, tactical data on our land-to-air turret access codes, troop movements, as well as caravan and shipment logs have been stolen and are getting into the hands of the separatists. We need to find out where the leak is coming from and put a stop to it. Secondary to finding the source of the leak is getting a critical shipment back. Among the items that have been stolen is a shipment of prototype fast flesh advanced medpacs. So Leet here is part of the medical team that helped develop the technology. It is critical that we get the prototypes back or years of research could be compromised.
“We finally did get a break in the case after I started putting small, indiscrete beacons in some of the supply crates and was able to trace some of the stolen goods to Salvage City, a scrap yard to the west of Fort Garnik. We did get some surveillance done on the scrap yard and did get a partial transmission sent to us.”
She typed on her desk computer and a holorecording appeared. From the perspective view, it was taken from behind the junk pile of a humanoid talking to a Zabrak in the distance. The view zoomed in to get a better view. There was also audio.
“I don’t understand why you always insist on me coming out here,” the cloaked humanoid said.
“Come now Byntic, communication channels can be compromised,” the Zabrak said. “I would hate to see you caught, which would mean a loss of information that would make us both rich. I take it you were able to acquire the shipment I arranged to have sent to you?”
“Yes, in fact Troddle’s already been playing with the prototypes and found fun alternative uses for them. He really is a mad scientist when it comes to his toys. Even for a Toydarian.”
“When can I–?”
Then the signal fizzled out.
“Unfortunately, a Bothan may have died to get us this information,” Lt. Drakkar said. “Meesik, one of my field agents, was the one who sent the transmission. We have not heard from him since.
“What we do know so far is that the masked humanoid goes by the name Byntic. He is the leak, working with Kazzeek Linleaf, a known information broker and part owner of the scrap yard known as Salvage City. The other part owner is Troddle, the Toydarian mentioned in the holovideo. Troddle runs the day-to-day business of the scrap yard, or at least he did until the separatists closed off the main access roads to it. Kazzeek uses the scrap yard for a front for information brokering, selling information to gangsters, smugglers, and pirates. The scrap yard is actually built on top of an underground processing factory which, before being closed off, was used to process and recycle all scrap being sent there.
“We believe that Kazeek is storing the stolen equipment in the factory itself before selling it off to the separatists. Kazeek is rumored to be paranoid and we are hoping that he has the data and information on the identity of Byntic on the security network.
“Even though the main road to the salvage yard is cut off by the separatists with particle cannon turrets, there is a cavern network that will bypass the main road and lead you close to the yard. You will still have to cross enemy lines and may have to engage in combat, but it’s the safest route.”
She typed on a keyboard and the fuzzy image of the scrap yard was replaced by a map of Avilatan Island. It showed the scrap yard, the capital, and the lands in between. It was also marked with the cavern network.
“What I need from you is to travel through the cave network located in this area,” she said, pointing to the map. “Travel through the caverns to the salvage yard and infiltrate. You need to find a way to access Kazeek’s secure network and find any information you can on his dealings with Byntic. If possible, you also need to find the shipment of fast flesh medpacs. Take as many as you can and destroy the rest. Troddle may have sentry droids guarding the yard that you will have to take out. You can bet Kazeek has some guards in the factory that you will have to take out before getting the stolen shipment.
“Officially, on the books, this will be considered a Cypress Squadron scout mission,” she went on, “and as such, will be under the direct command of Squad Leader Sergeant Tavon. Since we have high-ranking suspects within the garrison, you will have permission from General Vander himself to ignore direct commands from anyone outside of this room if it would otherwise compromise the mission.”
She looked us over.
“I’m willing to pay you all 500 credits each, up front, and 500 additional credits after the mission is done,” she said. “I will also offer a bonus to your payment if you uncover additional information. If you want more information on Kazeek, you should start in the cantina. A former slicer of his actually lives here in the warehouse district. He is a Duros named Frustum and may offer additional intelligence on his former employee. He will not talk about this with known associates of the military or SIS, but he may be willing to open up to a fellow smuggler or even slicer, given the right amount of credits or drink. Spiced Corellian ale is his favorite these days, I’ve heard.
“You can start in the morning if you like. It will likely be a four-hour walk to get to the caverns and another couple of hours to get through it. Get with C-6. He will give you your initial credits and point you in the right direction. If you need any equipment and supplies, he can also answer any questions about Avilatan Island and the surrounding villages if you are interested.”
We discussed a plan and in the end, it was decided to send Reoga D’an and Tanal’sil to the cantina to look for Frustum. I would follow them to merely act as back-up and keep an eye on them. The others would go their own ways as they were too well recognizable as being part of the Republic.
We spotted who I guessed was the Major Antilles near a spice den near the warehouse. He was talking to another man, obviously Magistrate Anturis. They were having a heated discussion and I could hear Anturis griping about the freeze on all unessential shipments coming in. He said that the citizens and refugees were getting restless. Major Antilles responded that the order came from the General himself and, until they put a stop to the separatists continuing to hack into and taking over the land-to-air turrets, the freeze was going to stay in place.
“We’re going to separate for a few hours,” Sgt. Tavon said to me after we left the vicinity of the arguing men. “I want you to just stick within earshot of them, just make sure you know what’s going on with them, and maintain communication with myself.”
“It will be done,” I said.
“We will hobnob with other people,” he told me.
“I will be following you two,” I told the Bith and the Twi’lek.
We separated and I followed them at some distance. They went to the cantina and I entered a minute later, finding a place in a booth in the corner. I saw that the other two were sitting at the bar. A Duros also sat at the bar next to an alien whose race I didn’t recognize. The creature had blue skin and a very long neck that tapered to a very small head. The bartender himself was a fat Trandoshan who looked like he had never missed a meal in his life. A Bith band played frivolous music in the corner.
The alien I didn’t recognize had been sitting next to the Duros and, as I sat down, he put coins on the bar and walked out. After thinking about it for a moment, I followed him. As I left, I saw Tanal’sil talking to the bartender and looking towards the door.
“What is that?” Tanal’sil asked the bartender.
“Who?” the fat Trandoshan replied.
“That,” Tanal’sil said, pointing at the creature just as it slipped out the door.
“Oh, that’s Fon Wui. He’s Kaminoan, that one. He’s one of the medical doctors here. He’s one of the ones working on some ... some, I don’t know what it is, some new medical technology.”
Then I was out the door. I followed the Kaminoan only a few dozen meters to a medical station. I loitered for a short while and reported in to Sgt. Tavon briefly, letting him know about the Kaminoan who seemed to be speaking to the Duros. I then returned to the cantina to take vigil watching over the others. By the time I returned, the Duros was walking out. I took a seat in the same booth once again.
Reoga D’an and Tanal’sil stayed in the cantina for another half hour before getting up and leaving. I waited several minutes before I followed them out, but could find no sign of them on the street. Though I searched my feelings, I could not locate them. Eventually I found them and we went back to our villas.
“We didn’t get a ton of information other than what we already know,” Tanal’sil told us once we were all assembled. “He’s taken out the main bridge leading to his facility and there’s rumors of a series of caverns that can get to the scrap yard. We knew that. One piece of information, or technology, that we acquired from him, is that he had a computer spike that will allow us to bypass the security systems a little easier.”
“That’s where you’ll come in?” Sgt. Tavon asked the Bith.
“Yeah,” Reoga D’an replied.
“Other than that, he didn’t seem to have too much information,” Tanal’sil went on. “He was just more upset about it.”
He also told us his main computer system was down in the buried factory and the only way down was in an elevator disguised as a shed in the scrap yard. Sgt. Tavon asked if the computer system was the next step we were supposed to deal with, but the two said that the files we needed should be there. Tanal’sil said that the true identity of Byntic should be on the system. We discussed it and Greebus pointed out that we should also be able to find the fast flesh medpacs in the place as well.
* * *
The next day we headed towards the cave entrance, Greebus on point. We had walked a couple of hours through the contested zone when we saw a barricade on the road. Sgt. Tavon had already given us orders that if we got involved in combat with the separatists, we would not shoot to kill, but would merely defend ourselves honorably. I agreed with his orders but said nothing.
The four men at the barricade did not seem to be alert. Trees surrounded the road on either side though it was grassy around the barricade. We stopped and discussed how to approach it.
“Blasters are set to stun,” Sgt. Tavon said. Then he quipped. “We’ll send the Jedi in. Negotiations. Aggressive.”
I told him I could act as a poor apple seller. But he said to wait and noted again that blasters should be set for stun.
“Do as you must,” I said. “I will distract them.”
“Can you discern their thoughts?” he asked me. “How hostile they are?”
I searched my feelings and sensed of aggression. It was not normal aggression and seemed to be of artificial origin, like a drug. They would not go down easy. I relayed that information to Sgt. Tavon. He asked if there was a relevance of saving one and I told him that there was none. He didn’t want to take lives. I noted that we didn’t have to kill them, but they did have to be put down. I didn’t sense that they would just open fire on anyone they saw, however.
In the end, Sgt. Tavon waited in the road, his rifle ready, while I headed towards the barricade, followed closely by Dr. So Leet. The others disappeared into the woods. Greebus had vanished even before I was done talking to the sergeant.
I walked up the road, fully exposed and with nothing in my hands. I could sense that the men wore helmets with some kind of visors which I guessed enhanced their vision. When we got to within about 30 meters, one of them patted another on the shoulder and then the two of them knelt behind the barricade and aimed their blaster rifles at us. I searched my feelings and sensed that they would not hesitate to fire if I continued to approach.
I stopped and raised my hands.
“What’s your reason for being on this road!” one of them called.
“I’m a lost stranger, sir,” I said.
It was true. I didn’t know where I was exactly.
“Who’s your friend?” he called. “I see someone down the road.”
“I cannot see that far,” I called.
“Stay there!” he yelled.
They conferred for a few moments and then two of them headed down the road towards us.
“Drop your weapons!” one of them called.
I looked down at my robes. I knew they couldn’t see my lightsaber. I placed my hands on my head.
“I’m talking to him,” the man said, indicating the doctor. “He’s got a gun holstered there. I see it.”
They disarmed the doctor and then aimed their blaster rifles at us.
“Follow us,” one of them said.
They took position on either side of us.
“May I remove my hands from my head?” I asked.
“No,” one said.
“Thank you,” I replied.
“Shut up, you’re going to get us shot!” Dr. So Leet muttered.
We continued to walk. When we were about 10 meters from the barricade, Dr. So Leet opened his mouth to say something.
“Shut up!” the guard said before he could even talk.
“Yes, do not disturb these gentlemen in their sacred duties!” I said to him.
“Keep walking,” the guard muttered at me.
“I will walk as fast as I can,” I said.
I leaned forward and leapt through the air, drawing and lighting my lightsaber as I flew. I landed lightly just behind the two men behind the barricade and swung my light saber, missing the man on one side by mere centimeters.
“I am a Jedi,” I said. “That is your only warning.”
I saw a flash from the place I’d left Sgt. Tavon and a blaster bolt struck the guard nearest Dr. So Leet. More blaster bolts flashed from the trees on either side and struck the same man, who fell to the ground. Dr. So Leet turned around, drew out a scalpel, and stabbed him! I had not realized he was filled with the Dark Side of the Force.
A blaster bolt from the right just missed the guard on my right. We both looked in that direction and I saw Tanal’sil standing by a tree. He suddenly pointed behind us and when we both looked away and then back, he was gone.
I waited to see if the two men would drop their weapons. The one to my right did so.
“Stay at your post!” the one to my left said.
He tensed and I swung at his weapon but missed. Then he fired a blaster bolt at me. I held out my hand and used the Force to negate the bolt altogether. I swung my lightsaber down again and cut his blaster rifle in half, close enough to his fingers to nearly scorch them.
“Will you surrender?” I calmly asked him.
The other guard near Dr. So Leet fired a shot at the doctor but missed him completely. He took out a grenade. A bolt from Sgt. Tavon struck the man in the chest. He fell to the ground without a sound.
“I found the stun switch!” Sgt. Tavon yelled from his perch 70 meters away.
The second guard near me dropped his worthless weapon as Reoga D’an appeared out of the woods and put his blaster to his head. I watched Dr. So Leet (or as I had been thinking of him: “Dr. Murder”) to make sure that he didn’t kill one of my prisoners.
The others searched the two bodies and stripped grenades from my prisoners. Reoga D’an and Sgt. Tavon took command of the men. They ended up with eight fragmentation grenades, which they divided between them. Tanal’sil dragged the two dead bodies off the road and hid them in the woods.
I heard Reoga D’an mutter to his friend “Man, this guy has the most judgmental stare I’ve ever seen.”
I assumed he was referring to my eyeless face.
“What do you want with us?” one of the prisoners asked. “You’re not going to kill us are you?”
Neither of them could have been more than 17 years old.
“They’re kids!” Greebus said.
Sgt. Tavon ordered them bound. Tanal’sil took a data pad off the man who’s blaster rifle I’d cut in half. I guessed he had been in command.
“What’s this?” Tanal’sil said to him.
“It’s a computer,” the man replied.
Tanal’sil looked over it. He learned that the guards were not due to be relieved for another three to four hours. The others used the guards’ own blaster rifles to stun them and we left them at the barricade. Sgt. Tavon took the power packs out of the blaster rifles for his own weapon. Tanal’sil also took their comlinks which the others distributed between them.
We continued towards the caves, Greebus taking the point again. Some 15 minutes later, Sgt. Tavon stopped as his stolen comlink crackled to life.
“Station 15, check in,” a voice came over it.
Nothing else happened.
After another half hour, we started to get into the mountains. Within an hour more, we arrived at the caverns. It took us about 10 minutes to find the cave network. I searched my feelings and realized that the danger of the caverns depending on our choices within.
Greebus took point again and the rest of followed him into the caverns. As we entered the musty cave, I could sense flickering light and steam coming from the cracks in the floor and walls. Some of the cracks were large enough for us to see magma flowing below. Coming from further in the cave were moans and echoes of what might have been rock bats or other natural creatures.
“We’re in a bad place,” Sgt. Tavon muttered.
We soon came to a fork that led left, right, and straight ahead. Greebus was there, waiting for us. To the right, the light seemed more intense. A faint fluttering came from the left. I searched my feelings and felt that going to the right might be safe. I also felt a presence of the Force in that same direction but no immediate danger there. I told Sgt. Tavon what I had learned.
Reoga D’an fiddled with the captured data pad.
Sgt. Tavon sent Greebus to the right. We followed closely behind. He returned moments later and told us that a savrip was in the room.
“Can it be reasoned with?” Sgt. Tavon asked.
“No, not really,” Greebus replied.
“Is it protecting anything in particular?”
“Looks like its lair.”
Mantellian savrips were native to Ord Mantell. They were intelligent enough to wear clothing but were not the brightest of beings. However, they could be very violent and were very large. They had hunched-over statures, leathery skin, snake-like heads, and arms long enough to drag on the ground. Savrips were sentient but primitive. Some of the things were known to be vicious and attack on sight.
“Nasty, mean, ready to attack us,” Greebus said. “Probably not the way we want to go.”
“Is it something that will be a hindrance or do we need to take it out?” Sgt. Tavon asked.
“You were saying that to the right could be safe?” Tanal’sil asked me.
“Yes,” I said. “It was ambiguous to the right but there was a force signature coming from that way.”
“That’s why I chose to go this way,” Sgt. Tavon said. “Could it just be a life force you were sensing?”
Searching my feelings, I realized that if I went without aggression, it should be fine. I told Sgt. Tavon that I would go talk to it.
“That’s something you’re willing to risk?” he asked.
“Depending upon your orders,” I said.
Greebus pointed out that any fight in the tunnel system could compromise our position. However, we had just entered and it was a good two hour walk to Salvage City.
“I’ll go talk to him,” I reiterated. Then to Sgt. Tavon: “With your permission.”
He followed me and I urged him not to aim any weapons at it.
I walked down the tunnel, my hands empty.
A larger cavern with light coming from a crater further in was at the end of the tunnel. Small animal bones were scattered about and the place smelled like the mix of cave animals and a sickly sweet smell that would make me nauseous if it were any stronger. There was an alcove in the wall of the cave near the magma pit with an animal skin hanging over it as cover.
When the savrip saw me, it roared and charged towards me. I stopped and stood my ground. It slowed when it approached me and then stood over me.
“Greetings,” I said in my own language, basic, and high galactic.
It roared in return.
“I can’t make out the dialect,” I said to the creature.
Another of savrip came out of the crack in the wall.
“Please!” it yelled. “Stop! Ragnar just protecting family!”
“We mean no harm,” I said calmly. “We are merely seeking–”
“Me,” the thing said, touching its chest. “Me is Girtha. Mate: Ragnar. He mean well but not so smart and have to fight first, talk after.”
“Ah, well there is no need–” I said.
“He thinks you with bad spirit,” she went on. “Even if I told him not.”
She looked at me.
“You have spirit in you,” she said. “But not bad like other.”
“Other?” I asked. “Is there another spirit?”
“Bad spirit came in cave,” she said. “I told Ragnar no fight. Made make no fight because I know bad spirit strong with stick like fire water.”
“We are merely looking for safe passage through this cave,” I told her. “If we find this bad spirit, we will eliminate it ... with all due prejudice.”
“He not come down this way but we see him go in cave,” she said. “We just here trying to raise family.”
Two little ones came out of the cave.
“This Felnook,” she said, gesturing at one and then the other. “This Freeklov.”
She looked at us again.
“Girtha forced out of tribe,” she went on. “They think me witch. But only good spirit, not like other bad spirit.”
I searched my feelings and found the female strong in the Force.
“Was ready to have baby, but Ragnar would not leave Girtha, even when I told him to stay,” she said. “Mate always like rock in head, but mate love and care for Girtha and little ones.”
“Very good for him,” I said sincerely. “Do you know a way through these caves to a place filled with rusted metal and damaged goods?”
“Passage further down that way,” she said. “May take many steps. Just keep going straight. No turning off other paths.”
“Thank you, Girtha,” I said. “I am in your debt and will destroy this evil one if I find him.”
I turned and motioned for the others to go back to the tunnel. I bowed to Girtha and then bowed to Ragnar. Then I turned and walked back to the tunnel, following the others.
We headed back into the tunnels, following the straight passage every time. An hour or so later, the tunnel curved and what little light there was faded to darkness. I could see easily and the ground felt like it was walking on mud. It didn’t smell like mud, but droppings of some kind. I looked more carefully around with the Force and found that we had walked into the lair of hundreds of rock bats.
“Stop,” I said very quietly. “There are bats all around us.”
Rock bats were harmless but in a large group might injure us. They lived off the calcium deposits in the rock of caves. As long as we were quiet, we should be safe.
We moved quietly into the area but then my foot went down into a deeper hole filled with droppings. It made enough noise to alert the bats who leapt from the walls and started to fly all around us. Behind me, Sgt. Tavon fell to the ground.
We soon moved through the area to safety.
Eventually the cave network opened about 200 yards from the edge of numerous piles of metallic junk. The crack that allowed our egress was well hidden in the rocks and barely noticeable from without. Near one of the piles of junk nearby was the body of a Bothan that was burned and clawed. I noticed he had a data recorder and bid one of the others to retrieve it. The body was about 100 yards from the building of the scrap yard.
The data pad proved to be damaged and Reoga D’an fiddled with it for a few minutes. Once he fixed it, it had about 10 seconds of fuzzy video, but no audio. It showed the perspective of the holorecorder falling to the ground and spinning around before stopping on a strange-looking dog of some kind. It had odd-looking skin but the camera had landed in a place where it recorded more of the things attacking and killing the Bothan. Then the recording started shaking as if the ground itself were moving under some great weight. A vast shadow appeared on one side and then the image went blank.
I searched my feelings but could only feel danger all around us.
Moments later, a metallic growling came from around the mounds of debris. Three dogs appeared and, though they looked like animals, when they growled, they sounded synthetic.
The others opened fire on the things. Sparks flew from the creatures as they died under the barrage.
We moved into the salvage yard and soon saw two Jawas working in a scrap pile. In the doorway of a nearby shop was a Toydarian, yelling at the other creatures to find more droid motivators. Then they looked our way. The Jawas ran towards the shop entrance where the Toydarian stood.
I leapt up and over the corner of a nearby building, landing in the open door of the shop as they fled. Behind me, something mechanical lifted up. Using the force, I could see a huge creature made of scrap metal. It was a quadruped droid of immense size.
The Jawas fled around me and into the bunker. As the huge droid lurched towards the others, a burst of automatic blaster fire came from outside. Then there was a blast that sounded like liquid fire, I guessed coming from the huge droid. I lit my lightsaber and charged the Toydarian, brandishing the weapon and holding the end of the blade mere centimeters from his face.
“Stand down and deactivate that droid,” I said to him.
There was a shout from outside and then the sound of a grenade exploding. More blaster fire came from outside.
“Shut it down!” I said more firmly.
“Can I go to my computer, there?” the Toydarian asked.
“Uh-huh,” I said, nodding. “No tricks.”
I followed him to the computer.
“You two, don’t move,” I said to the Jawas.
More blaster fire, both individual shots and burst fire, come from outside. The Toydarian continued to type into the computer as I watched him carefully. It looked like he was putting in terminate commands of some kind. Then there was a loud crash from outside.
“I told you I would do it!” he said.
I looked to the Jawas. They were still standing nearby.
“Dr. Troddle, I presume,” I said to him.
“Ha!” he said. “Who told you I was a doctor?”
“Troddle, I presume,” I said.
Tanal’sil ran into the room.
“Is everyone alive?” I asked.
“What do you want to know?” Toddle said.
“Nothing I can’t find,” Reoga D’an said, sliding in front of Troddle’s computer. “How do we get to the factory?”
“Is it trapped?” I asked.
“Which one would you use, if you’re going down there?” Reoga D’an said to him.
“Because you’re going down there,” I said. “Are there any dangers down there? Any guards?”
“Not anymore,” Troddle said.
He told us that Kazeek had left with the guards.
“Where is he?” I asked.
“As far as I know, he’s in the volcano stronghold,” he said.
We took Troddle and the Jawas down the elevator to the processing factory. There were no guards. He told us where to find the fast flesh medpacs and we loaded up with all we could carry, destroying the rest. Reoga D’an found the laboratory and got to work with the spike he and Tanal’sil had gotten the day before, slicing the computer system. Tanal’sil watched the prisoners. I monitored cameras from the control room.
Reoga D’an spent the better part of an hour and got a great deal of information from the computers. He learned that Byntic was Magistrate Anturis. He also found plans to frame Major Antilles and Kazeek’s ties with the Sith. He also found information on payments from Darth Vulnas to a volcano base for a base of operations for the separatists. It also mentioned more on Sith operations on the planet. There was also mention of a Darth Veldarin who was, in reality, Jorran Darklighter!
Jorran Darklighter was not dead. He was a Sith.
It also mentioned a Caine Solo of House Solo. There was also information on Havoc Squadron with notes that they were going to deflect to the Sith.
It took him longer to find out where they were getting the information on the turret codes, but after another hour, he downloaded encrypted directories containing blueprints of the volcano stronghold itself, access codes to the turrets protecting the stronghold, and access codes that were being used to hack into the Republic turrets.
Then he formatted the entire computer, erasing everything.
We made our way back to the warehouse district and gave the information to Lt. Drakkar. Major Antilles was about to be arrested, but the information we brought showed his innocence. Havoc Squadron had just been deployed but did not respond to radio signals. It had been assumed that they had been wiped out, but the new information indicated that they had probably defected.
We were paid for the job, though it was not necessary. In addition, we each received 2,000 credits.