Dawn of Defiance: Buffalo NY

Baris' Thoughts

Bariss was in the front of Darga’s box, watching as Darga’s gladiators entered the ring: a Wookiee with a bow caster although it looked like he favored his mits, a guy named Tull Raine who obviously preferred hand-to-shock gloves combat, and a masked and cloaked bounty hunter with several ranged weapons.

“Well,” Bariss thought, “at least numbers are in our favor…but that’s all the good news. Tor won’t be able to use his lightsaber or force powers in public, N3MO being the droid he is will instantly go after the Wookiee (and the Wookiee will know to keep him a distance from the other two), Carson is a leader and not meant to be on point which he will be because of Raden, and Raden is unpredictable except in that he’s a coward and will act so.”
Bariss used his com to inform the arena group what they were facing and as he was, a thought came to his youthful mind.
“I’m drinking some heavy alcohol,” he thought, “and I’m up on a raised position, with Raine being very close and melee…I’m young enough to fake being drunk off of half of this.”
Bariss in a faked drunken and blood-sport rage threw his hefty, half-full, bottle of Blastech 45 at Raine’s head…with a direct hit. Glass cut through skin and alcohol aggravated Raine’s wound enough for Raine to reverse himself towards Bariss and try to attack him while the other two gladiators began the fight.
Bariss bursts out laughing a drunken laugh, or as close enough to one that he can, while Raine tries futily to attack him and Bariss demands another Blastech 45 from the protocol droid.
“That’s right,” Bariss thinks, “keep your attention on me, maybe I can hit you with a few more of these while your here.”

Alas, with Raine’s full attention on Bariss, he couldn’t score another hit on Raine. Within another few seconds Raine notices that the combat has started and goes into the fray.
Soon after Bariss realised that he couldn’t add anything more to the fight and so signaled the protocol droid to him so that he might sell some of the weapons he had been collecting, “anyone here willing to buy some weapons?” he asked in a whisper.
The protocol droid’s quick response was frightful and more of a whisper than Bariss’, “You must be weary when taking trade in Darga’s Palace, he expects a minimum of a 25% cut.”
TWENTY-FIVE PERCENT CUT!” Bariss thought, barely not spewing his grueling liquid on the droid. He eyed the droid and said, “ah I see…forget I asked. … Also, my friends here are avid drinkers. You should stay with us and see to their needs.”
“Of course!” replied the droid.
Bariss continued to eye the protocol droid as it went to the others and remained in Darga’s box, hoping that by the time anyone asked what he wanted from it, the group will have left.

Around this time Carson threw a smoke grenade into the ring where Tor and the bounty hunter were fighting.
“Well done!” Bariss thought, “Now Tor can use some of his force powers while in the smoke.”
Then Bariss overheard Ce’sr making his deal with Darga.
“…what?!” Bariss nearly burst out saying, "Even in the smoke Tor doesn’t have a gaurantee of success, he still can’t use his lightsaber. If the bounty hunter escapes out of the smoke, Tor’s abilities will be nullified. … If N3MO loses to the Wookie, then we’re going to lose! Carson and Raden can’t take out Raine! And then we’ll be out three members with Ce’sr owing information to a Hutt! They tend to know if information is false or not, or at least know that they should keep their “informers” close until everything checks out."

“I’m might have to kill him. … Get close, act blindingly drunk and shoot him in the chest twice yelling something about him and my mother. … Doing that, that close to Darga should get me instantly killed, and then Kelyn and Khalik may be able to get the rest of the mission done. Especially if Khalik could get N3MO up and running again.”

Bariss drinks just enough to keep up his impression without him lossing himself to the numbness of alcohol, making “drunken” lurches and lossing some liquid at the same time. Taking his fourth glass of 45 from the protocol droid has him notice a group of others eyeing him, and the protocol droid hasn’t left the box or talked to any of the guards.
“Some people didn’t like that I hit Raine I’m guessing,” thought Bariss, “I’m going to have to do something about that before I go missing.”
As if through divine intervention, Raden came up to Darga’s box pleading for his life and Kelyn fatally shot him. After Kelyn took Raden’s place as gladiator, Bariss saw a chance to entertain the eyeing group and maybe to keep them a distance away.
“Good thing I haven’t gone to the head,” though Bariss as he opened up his fly and pissed an arced stream, rainbow included, onto the dying Raden.
The added insult to injury did its intent as Bariss noted the group’s uproar of laughter and their attention back to the arena.

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Reflections from Tor part 5

Deep in Darga the Hutt’s palace, Tor kept to himself, staying peaceably in the rear of the assembly as his comrades negotiated their way into the Hutt’s good graces. At every glance Tor could see many forms of debauchery, each more surprising than the last.

This place is rife with the dark side Tor mused. It reaches its vile grip into all creatures present.

Some time later, Tor perked up as he saw Raden being shepherded into the audience chamber by several guards. Having given his word to protect the Devaronian, Tor had been focusing on the Force issuing from Raden and now that he was back in the same room, the Camaasi jedi breathed a small sigh of relief. Tor’s sigh quickly turned to a gasp as Darga announced the Devaronians execution by Tor and his allies.

As the other members of Bail Organa’s task force moved to strike down the helpless and subdued Raden, Tor quickly moved between them.

“Stop,” Tor cried out to his allies. “It is not right to kill him.” As Tor met the eyes of his allies, he was surprised to find little sympathy amongst them. Nevertheless, I must not allow his death. I must be strong, Tor thought.

As some of his comrades still moved toward the tied up Raden, Tor spoke again. “I will not allow you to harm him. I gave my word that I would protect him, and I can not break it.” This gave his allies pause enough for Darga to decree that Raden would participate in the arena on Tor’s side.

Very well, Tor thought. This way I can do my best to help him and my allies survive this vile Hutt.

Minutes later the battle in the arena was underway with Tor in the thick of it. Locked in combat deep within a cloud of smoke courtesy of Carson, Tor still managed to keep a tab on the rudimentary Force emanating from Raden.

Tor gasped suddenly as he felt the sense of Force from Raden blink out in a flash of pain. A flash of pain that was accompanied by a surge of the dark side.

A surge coming from one of his comrades sitting with Darga.

Tor gritted his teeth as he focused on the immediate threat in front of him.

I must survive the current tribulation in front of me, Tor thought sullenly. But this will not go unquestioned…

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Another Brick In the Wall
Kelyn takes a step down the dark path toward his destiny.

To tolerate the presence of a Hutt is to ignore the tortured screams of all ones senses. Its stench is a soiled diaper soaked overnight in a fish tank. Each breath is a gurgling, rattling precursor to a particularly productive throat-clearing that never comes. The air around them is clammy like a gray late-Autumn day. If by accident you would touch a Hutt, you would involuntarily recoil. This assumes you were still alive after such an affront. They certainly appear like little more than a giant slug, but they can be swift and deadly when provoked.

Kelyn sat beside Darga on the dais, all of the aforementioned senses screaming at him. Luckily, his intention was louder: find the Spelljammer. His life’s mission was to find his father’s freighter and the secrets it contained, and chumming up to Darga was a path to that goal. As Raden approached the platform, fear twisting his expression, Kelyn knew what was about to come and what he had to do.

“Please! Darga, have mercy — let me out!”

Darga chuckled deeply, sickeningly. As he began to speak, Kelyn withdrew his blaster, pointed it at Raden’s chest, and fired. Darga’s eyes widened nearly as much as Raden’s as the poor soul clutched the smoking hole in his torso and slumped onto the dusty floor of the arena. Kelyn grinned, not altogether insincerely, then turned to Darga and grunted in Huttese.

“Forgive me, your excellency, but I cannot stomach such groveling.”

Darga laughed outright this time, his bulk quivering as his stumpy arms applauded the display.

Kelyn watched as Raden, wide eyed, mouth agape, dropped to his knees, dumbstruck. Kelyn had offered to kill him earlier, but Tor’s conscience had thwarted the attempt. He should have known, but still he was astonished, puzzled as to why these outsiders cared enough to bother extinguishing his modest light in this dark corner of the galaxy. What had he done to deserve this? He hadn’t done a thing in Kelyn’s eyes; he was but an upturned stone in the road towards his destiny, kicked aside into inert irrelevance.

Kelyn observed the reactions of his compatriots in his periphery. They were surprised, to be sure, but neither seemed particularly shocked. They’d not had much time to get to know each other since being brought in league under Bail Organa, and all had a streak of the scoundrel in their biography. Kelyn had just offered them a page from his own, albeit out of context. He wasn’t truly as cold-blooded as the act alone would tell, but more single-minded in his quest, of which they knew nothing.

Tor would certainly have been aghast had he witnessed the deed, but he was deep within the cloud of smoke in the center of the arena. Possibly his Jedi senses had felt it, but Kelyn doubted he could distinguish it from the more immediate carnage all around him.

Back to speaking in Basic, he asked, “May I take the place of our fallen comrade?” Dhargha grunted an affirming nod towards Kelyn as the latter sprung over the railing. His feet landed square on the back of what remained of Raden, a sickening squish under his boots. As his bloody footprints disappeared behind a fat, wisping tendril of smoke, his blaster gave out a sharp report.

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Wooing A Hutt

Through the front window of the old warehouse, the rebels saw a nervous Devaronian pacing about, speaking on his com. “Are you in or aren’t cha? Darga will kill me. If I’m killed, I’ll miss out on a very important part of life. What’s it called? Oh yeah, life!”
A pair of modified mining druids chipped away at the stone floor, seeming to repair the dilapidated warehouse. The rebels also noted a Rodian standing guard in the rafters above Raden.
Tor, Kelyn, Carson and N3MO knocked on the front door.
No answer.
“We’re going to try this diplomatically,” Torwarned the droid.
“I’ve got this,” Carson said, tapping at the security pad. A red light started blinking.
Blast!
He fiddled some more with the alarm controls. A beeping sound escaped the locked door.
Finally, a microphone-shaped droid emerged from a slot in the door. “Nobata outmians!” the droid chortled.
Tor’s mouth dropped open. “No rundee Huttese? You speak Basic?” he asked.
The droid cackled. “This is private property. Get lost.”
“We’re here to see Raden,” Tor insisted.
“There’s no one here by that name. What do you want with him?” the droid contradicted itself.
“Darga sent us to monitor his progress,” Tor insisted,
The droid withdrew, and the mighty door swung open.
Raden droid
The Devaronian stood where they had seen him when they’d looked through the window. He was joined by another mining droid and half a dozen Twi’lek thugs. “First Darga is PO’d at me for blowing that weapons cache job. Then he’s furious because I hit that relief transport. He banishes me out here, threatening to kill me if he sees me before I get his precious weapons. Then he wastes your time, sending you out here to check on me?”
“You know how Darga gets,” Tor sighed.
Raden laughed wildly. “I sure do. So, what’s the deal?”
The rest of the rebels had climbed a ladder outside the warehouse and were working on getting through a locked door. Khalikthought for a moment, looking at the security pad, then he typed D-A-R-G-A. Green light. He threw the door open, revealing two heavily armed Quarren. “Get out of here!” one chortled. “While you still can,” the other one added, wagging its facial tentacles at them.
Youth got the better of Khalic. He squeezed the trigger on his blaster. The Quarren fired their weapons.
Downstairs, the paranoid Devaronian decided to eliminate all ends. “Get them!” Raden ordered the Twi’leks.
“Get who?” Tor asked, trying to salvage any in roads he had paved.
“Get you!” Raden barked.
The three mining druids turned their intention to the intruders. Their servo motors roared, and they seemed to fly across the warehouse at their targets. One of them landed next to N3MO, smashing through his hull plating. One flew toward Tor, who activated his Force shielding to absorb a lot of the pry bar blow. The third leapt onto the rafters and charged Ce’sr, beating him mercilessly with the pry bar.
Tor raised a hand. Half the Twi’lek goons flew through the air and bounced unconscious off the wall
Raden gasped as N3MO’s saw came to life and dove through the mining droid like it was made of Chandrilian butter. The Devaronian headed for the wall to his right and seemed to melt through the stone. Tor realized the annoying creep was using the Force.
Three Twi’leks surrounded N3MO. One by one, the droid dismembered them and performed involuntary autopsies on them, turning the warehouse into a slaughterhouse.
Blaster fire filled the old structure as Darga’s thugs exchanged blaster fire with Varth’s rebels. Tor used the Force to boost his jump, sending him five meters into the sky, so he landed on the rafters. The Camassi headed through the doorway, into the half of the warehouse Raden had headed, The Devaronian was standing right in the doorway. “Take me to Darga,” Tor ordered,
“I can’t. He’ll kill me if I show up there.”
“Then give me directions.”
“You’d never find it.”
There was truth in the creep’s eyes.
The Devaronian raised his hand. Tor realized he was about to be Force slammed. He raised a hand to neutralize the effect. Raden stared shocked.
“You know any more Force tricks?” Tor asked.
Raden ran.
N3MO busted down the door that led to the western half of the warehouse. The Twi’lek and Rodian ordered to defend the doorway abandoned their posts when the door began to buckle beneath the druid’s attacks… and when they saw Tor head after their charge. N3MO entered the stairwell before the thugs were all the way up. The Twi’lek shot down, rupturing a circuit board. The druid’s lights went dark. Its chasis tumbled down the stairs. Kelyntook cover behind the fallen droid and blew away the Twi’lek.
Khalik leapt from the rafters, twisting his ankle in the process. He limped over to his droid, hauling some circuit boards and plating he’d looted from the defeated mining druids.
Barris and Ce’sr moved into the rafters, battling a Rodian. Despite multiple wounds, the goon refused to give up the ghost. It fell back out the door, toward Tor.
“We can protect you,” Tor promised Raden as the Rodian appeared behind him. Tor had time to activate his Force shield before the blaster bolt took him in the back.
Raden doubted Tor’s abilities to protect him and hurried onto a series of decks that crossed the vast canyon the warehouse sat at the precipice of.
Tor turned and summoned the debris all around him to swirl together and attack the Rodian. The green goon took a splinter to the cheek. The Force was just not strong with Tor today,
The two Rodians stood back to back in the rafters. One of them lacked a leg. Neither intended to go down without a fight. Baris blasted the spirit out of one. Tor Force slammed the other out of the room and out of his body.
Raden was almost out of range, rushing across the piers. Khlaik looked up from his work on N3MO, gritted his teeth and sent a blaster bolt into the Devaronian’s leg, hobbling him. “You want to see Darga, huh? I suggest you leave while you still have all your organs inside you.”
“We’ll take our chances,” Tor declared.
After some repairs and healing, they were off to find the Hutt.
Hopping aboard your new swoop bikes, with a blaster stuck in Raden’s ribs, he leads you on a treacherous and winding journey through the city bridge, to one of the mountain hubs, and out onto another dilapidated bridge city.

The trip took close to an hour, and rarely traveled uickly. It was a Surreal journey that seemed to go inside and through ruined buildings and excavations as much as outside through the streets. Several times, he took you down into the city sublevels, where you found yourself winding through labyrinthine tunnels, stairwells, and riding down non-functional conveyer tubes. After a while of this, you realized that you weren’t sure, any longer, of which direction you were pointed. Clearly, Raden didn’t like to travel in the open.

You finally ascended a long and wide concourse stairway up into a collapsed concourse, with daylight streaming in between the mountains of broken rubble and steel from several destroyed palace compounds, which had all flowed into the streets. There were many gaps in this area where it looked like turbolasers had blown chunks of the road out.
You finally ascended a long and wide concourse stairway up into a collapsed concourse, with daylight streaming in between the mountains of broken rubble and steel from several destroyed palace compounds, which had all flowed into the streets. There were many gaps in this area where it looked like turbolasers had blown chunks of the road out. He picks his path through towards a massive toppled Neimoidian statue, which hid the remains of a sturdy stone battlement, inset with a pair of massive blast doors 5 meters tall, and carved with elaborate Hutt runes.

Raden walked timidly forward up to a door, which had a small communications panel. He pressed a button and sputtered some phrases in Huttese.

A long moment passed before two Nikto guards with hunting blaster rifles appeared on the battlements above the doors, weapons pointed down at you. A metal panel in the blast door scraped as it slid open. You see a large pair of glowing eyes staring at you from the dark. A gravelly voice speaks from within the doors, again in Huttese. “He’s going to kill you, Raden.”

The panel slid closed. A moment later, there was a heavy clank of metal on metal, and the blast doors parted to either side. A rush of cool, dry air flowed outward from the Hutt palace. Raden motioned you to follow.

Entering the palace, you followed Raden down a long, dark hallway, illuminated at random by torches set into wall sconces. You have a bad feeling about this place, like something is watching you from the darkness. You passed unmarked metal doors. The air was thick with the smell of dust and rotting wood.

As you moveddeeper, you realized that Darga’s palace seemed to be created from the wreckage of two adjacent palaces, which have been hastily retrofitted together. You got the sense that both buildings were once bright and beautiful, and very old. Eventually you heard music and voices, and you realized
you must be approaching the throne room.

Entering the large chamber, you realized the throne room was likely a portion of the Great Hall of one of the other palaces, or what is left of it. Its opulent and repulsive. A thick layer of oddly scented smoke and spice drifted through the air, rising out of braziers in the corners of the room. Once beautiful tapestries lined the walls, though most have been torn, burned, or stained. Beautiful cornices in the long tubelike hallways had been painted over with tacky gold and purple paint.
Darga group
A raised hoverdais, plated in polished gold, hovered in the center of the room supports the massive and bejeweled bulk of Darga the Hutt, and he was surrounded by crowds of thugs and servants, while a human band played and twilek dancers twirl. Behind the dais, you sawa large open balcony that opened into a cavernous dark room that seemed to have spotlights at riveted at regular intervals into the ceiling.

As you walked into the room, the conversation and music stopped. Silence reigns as every eye turns to watch Raden lead you into an open space in front of the opulent dais. There is a filthy rug there. Darga’s eyes roll from you to Raden, and his ringed fingers throw aside his large gold drinking chalice. He Booms something in Huttese to Raden

In Huttese:“What are you doing here? Outsiders? In my palace? Again? I told you before, bring me the weapons shipment I wanted in the first place, or don’t come back. I still can’t able to find a market for your last haul” Someone from the crowd whipped a pair of medpacks at him, bopping him in the head. Raden fell to his knees in supplication and began to grovel. “Im sorry for interrupting you, Darga, your bloatedness. This is all their fault Not mine!”

A very brightly polished silver protocol droid, with large, pimped out violet eyes and a blinking purple flame-job on his chest, approached.

“His Swollen Magnificence, Darga the Hutt, demands to know why you have come to his palace, and how you convinced Raden to escort you.”

Carson and his companions realized they had to come up with a good reason to remain in Darga’s palace, or else they’d be executed or kicked out. Khalik studied the technology. He could tell Darga didn’t care if he had the latest greatest. He cared about appearances, Everything was covered in chrome plating, all garish colors. N3MO spoke quickly to 66, Darga’s droid translator in Binary. “What does the Big Darga dig?”
“He’s crazy about his gladiator fights,” the droid told him.
N3MO whispered this info to Carson. Kelyn whispered to Carson he could speak Huttese. He should relay the message directly to Darga. Kelyn relayed, “Mighty Darga, we have heard of your power and the prowess of your gladiators. We wish to test our druid’s might against your best.”
Darga laughed and applauded. “There must be easier matches to arrange,” Darga snickered,
“We only want to challenge the most worthy,” Carson explained.
“Very well,” Darga announced, Your team shall take on mine after a feast.

Maybe we can explore working on a venture together, after we get to know each other. Besides, my other associates would be disappointed if they missed an opportunity to take your money in our games. Guards, take Raden to the dungeon to consider his failures.”
“Hey, put me down!” Raden shouted as he was dragged away by a pair of Gammorean guards,

The rebels were in their excuse for guest lodging when they heard blaster shots fired in the audience chamber. They arrived in time to see that the arena area is dimly lit, with Darga’s repulsor crèche gliding back into its place in the throne room. A lot of money is changing hands, and some bodies are carried out of the arena on stretchers, their wounds still smoking. One of the bodies was slapped roughly on the bar for the medical droid to help, but it was too late

“Ah excellent. It is time to celebrate our guests. As the newest promising members, the honours will be yours. Guards!”

Raden was dumped rudely on the floor in front of you. He was roughed up badly. He struggled up to his knees.
Raden execution

“You failed me for the last time Raden. First, you miss our haul on weapons shipments, then you try to make good by looting a Republic medical disaster aid shipment I can’t sell medpacks, and I can’t fight a turf war with a surgical droid. And now you show your face in my court, without my weapons haul. Your time is over, Raden, and I see it fitting that the newest applicants for your place in my court should have the honour of executing you, personally. If you want to join this court, I would want you dispense my justice. Let’s begin!”
“Fine,” Kelyn said, picking up the vibroaxe.
“Hang on,” Tor said. “Great Darga, wouldn’t it be better for Raden to serve his sentence in the gladiator pit?”
“Very well,” Darga said, chuckling. “He will be on your team.”
Fine, Tor thought. I did want to protect him.

Tor, Carson, N3MO and Raden stood side by side in the gladiator ring. Their companions sat in Darga’s box, throwing bottles of Blastech 45 at Darga’s crew. The gladiators included: Yrrcanna, a Wookiee warrior whose sated his bloodlust in the ring. The only element of his Wookiee dignity is his usage of a bow caster. Tull Raine: Barabel shock boxer. Many have died in the ring against him. He uses no weapons, just his fists. Var Rotha: Human bounty hunter betrayed by his crew. He was forced into an escape pod that burned up on reentry, leaving him badly burned and deformed. He wears a death mask and a hood, using grenades and heavy artillery to bring his foes down.
Bariss tossed a bottle that dug into Tull’s skull. The Barabel flipped out and charged Bariss, swinging wildly as the other combatants moved closer together. Carson studies his opponents. “The death mask dude needs to go down fast. He’s packing big guns.”
N3MO and Yrrcanna ran into the maze in the arena’s center. Tor had Carson fling a smoke grenade in the midst of the enemies and ran into the mist. Ce’sr turned to Darga. “Let’s make this interesting. I’ll give you classified Rebellion information if the smoke clears and your guy is still standing. If your guy isn’t standing… you give me five thousand credits.”
Darga pondered the deal and shook hands with the Utapauan.
Wookiee and droid ravaged one another in the narrow confines of the maze, but N3MO dropped.
Tor blasted Var Rotha with Force powers from within the smoke. Tull caught up to Carson and began pummeling the noble.
Khalik threw himself over the railing and crept toward the maze while Darga was enraptured with what was happening behind the fog.Var Rotha hurled a thermal detonator. Tor barely had time to activate his Force shield, which saved him from a nasty injury.
Khalik yanked on N3MO’s circuits and made some rapid sodders. Adrenaline surging, he lifted the 400 kilo droid to its feet. N3MO raced through the maze and slaughtered the Wookiee from behind.
Raden raced to Darga. “Please spare me,” he begged.
Kelyn drew his blaster and blew the Devaronian away. “I have no patience for these pathetic fools,” he hissed. “Permit me to go into the ring in this unworthy one’s place.”
Granted, Darga agreed, gaining admiration for the silent mechanic. Kelyn hopped into the arena and blasted the Barabel, giving Carson a moment to fall back before firing another volley at the creature.
Meanwhile, Tor used the Force to whip up debris from all across the arena, sending it whirling at the bounty hunter, severing his jugular.
“Your companions are finished,” Carson shouted at the Barabel. “Give it up.”
The vile creature stared for a moment then sprinted out the door.
The crowd went crazy. Ce’sr collected his credits.

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Reflections from Tor part 4

Tor winced as he walked into the teetering Separatist cruiser hanging off of the cliff. Not looking forward to spending much time inside, Tor’s ears perked up almost immediately. Focusing on the inhabitants of the shop, Tor spotted a shabby looking nemoidian who was talking loudly about jedi artifacts.

Could it be, Tor wondered. Is it possible that I’ve found a being with knowledge of the jedi? Here, of all places? He moved closer to the being, quickly identified by the shopkeeper as Jedi Lok. I’ve studied using the Force to move water before, Tor mused. But I don’t recall ever seeing it used for the purposes of caff at the temple.

As his comrades negotiated where to find their next clue, Tor stuck close to Jedi Lok. The shopkeeper pointed them to another being nearby. I cannot let this Jedi Lok escape me, he worried as Tor quickly requested that Jedi Lok accompany them as a guide. I must discover what he knows.

Questioning Jedi Lok as the group moved to their destination, Tor was taken aback to hear Ahsoka Tano’s name. A worthy veteran of the Clone Wars. And Skywalker’s apprentice, Tor scowled at the name. As his compatriots ventured into an elderly woman’s home, Tor continued to press Jedi Lok for information.

As Jedi Lok’s answers became louder and more extreme, Tor felt his spirits drop. Even though he sensed no malice from Jedi Lok, Tor could tell that he would receive nothing substantial from the nemoidian. His mind is broken, he thought sullenly. Even if he did at one time possess and knowledge or artifacts, the information has been shattered. He is nothing but a shell, twisted by his experiences in the wars, not unlike so many others in the galaxy. Tor glanced back at Jedi Lok as he turned away. I truly am alone in my quest. I must gain strength from the Force. It is the only ally that can help me complete my mission. I truly am alone…

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A Wretched Hive
Wretched Hive

The _Assiduous _launched a squad of ARC-170s at the Banshee, the Theta-Class Imp Shuttle and the ARC170 liberated from the prison facility on Felucia. Captain O’Keefe cautiously approached the inbound fighters. Crash and she blasted at the void, in the futile attempt to blast a hole in the starfighters. Baris, piloting the rebels’ ARC-170, pounded the control panel. Blast it, O’Keefe! I could’ve taken out half the squad with a proton torpedo if you hadn’t gone into the blast zone. He headed toward the action, lasers firing into the void. Kelyn didn’t want to get everyone killed on an overzealous assault, so he zigged and zagged, juking the shuttle away from incoming blaster bolts. Of course, his gunners were having a Sithmare of a time hitting anything with the ship constantly shaking all over the system.
Khaliktinkered with the turret controls, making them more receptive to his droid’s movements… sort of like linking N3MO with the Force. Results were instantaneous. The war droid mercilessly pounded an incoming ARC. The ARC didn’t call off its attack. N3MO kept him in the center of its targeting grid and refused to cease the pummeling. The ship exploded.
Crash and Sirona valiantly held their own against the Imperial pilots, but their blasters weren’t enough to get through the shields and thick hull plating. Baris kept his ARCs at bay, but his blasters just wouldn’t find their mark. He kept spinning and doubling back, tricking the ARCs to blast one another. Well, one Imperial pilot kept acting like he’d caught his wingman in the bunk with his girl. Baris took advantage of the confusion by looping while firing his blasters, hoping to catch both targets in the fire. Unfortunately, he thought, the Force just wasn’t strong with him this battle.
“Pound them!” Carson yelled, motivating his crew. The gunners all focused on a point-blank ARC target. Blast after blast shook the ship, yet it remained returning fire. Baris flew over, flanking the doomed ARC fighter. N3MOlet out a lethal blast from the turret gun and decimated the ship that seemed reluctant to perish.
“Should we jump out of here?” Carsoncommed O’Keefe.
“Well, I have your Admiral on the Banshee. If something happens to us, your little jungle trek was all for nothing.”
“Send us the coordinates for our jump, and prepare to get out of here,” Khalik requested.
Sirona sent encrypted coordinates, which Khalik made short work of decoding. Kelyn flew the shuttle toward the Banshee and rained fire on her attackers.
“Now get out of here, O’Keefe,” Kelynshouted.
“I’ve got some company,” O’Keefe protested.
Baris flew in, flanking O’Keefe’s unwanted admirers, buying her the moment to break away from the fight and jump out of the Felucian system. The Imperials weren’t happy to lose the ship and bathed the shuttle in fiery light. Kelyn spun the shuttle wildly, narrowly avoiding the intense fire.
The Assiduous continued to rumble toward the stolen Imperial ships. Blaster bolts took out another ARC. Khalik rushed to engineering and urged some more power through the engines. Kelyn dashed away from the surviving ARC and leapt out of the system.
Baris felt much lonelier, flying over Felucia. He exchanged a final round of laser blasts, then raced from his pursuer and jumped to lightspeed.
The rebels emerged from hyperspace in the Zandrax System, in the Unknown Regions. The Banshee led the way toward a monstrous Nebula Frigate, the Resurgence. Inside, they met Captain Verana. “Welcome to the Resurgence,” Verana says. “You have a home here as long as you’re willing to do missions for our patron. You have full access to all levels of the ship, including the medbay. Now guards, please escort Admiral Varth to his quarters.”
Once the lift tube door closed behind Varth, Verana seemed to remove the stick from his ass. “Please don’t mention Senator Organa’s name in front of the Admiral. They have been in touch, but now that we have taken action against the Empire, we do not want to implicate the Senator. Rest up. The Galaxy will need your services again soon enough.”
After two days, Captain Verana summoned the rebel team for a debriefing meeting. Captain Vischera had cracked under interrogation.
Varth lectured, “WE DIDN’T KNOW UNTIL NOW… AFTER WE GOT OUR HANDS ON VISCHERA… THANKS TO YOUR HELP… THE FACILITY YOU ASSAULTED SERVED AS A FIELD STATION FOR RESEARCH INTO BLACK PROJECTS… SUCH AS MUTAGENS AND BIOTOXINS.
THE SCIENCE WAS BASED ON MILITARY RESEARCH CAPTURED FROM THE SEPARATISTS ON NELVANA 4. THE BIOTOXIN THEY COOKED UP WAS A BIO-WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION… INTENDED TO WIPE OUT ALL FORCE SENSITIVE BEINGS.
VISCHERA SAID THE BIOWEAPON PROVED A FAILURE. HE WAS PROBABLY YEARS AWAY FROM MAKING A NOTABLE BREAKTHROUGH. IT ONLY WORKED ON FELUCIANS… AND ONLY THE WEAK AND SICK AMONG THEM. THE IMPERIAL NAVY CONFISCATED HIS BIOTOXIN SUPPLY THEN SWITCHED HIS PRIORITY TO RESEARCHING MUTATIONS. THE MUTANT FELUCIANS YOU ENCOUNTERED WERE THE RESULT OF HIS EVIL WORK.”
Varth ended the meeting. He summoned the rebels again four days later. Captain Verana paced the room, quite frustrated. The briefing room aboard the Resurgence was clean and white, with several benches wrapping smoothly around a holographic projector seated on a raised dais in the center of the room. The projector
sprang to life, and the blue-tinted hologram of a Hutt appeared to hover a few inches away from the projector’s three curved prongs. With a brusque clearing of his throat, former Imperial officer Gilder Varth began to speak, wasting little time on pleasantries.

Varth darga

“BEFORE THE EMPIRE DECIDED MY CONSCINCE WAS A THREAT, I WAS PERIPHERALLY PART OF A TOP SECRET PLAN CALLED THE SARLACC PROJECT. I ASSISTED WHEN ANOTHER OFFICER WAS OFF SICK. I DO NOT KNOW THE DETAILS… BUT I WAS INVOLVED IN THE TRANSFERS OF LARGE AMOUNTS OF CREDITS AND RESOURCES. I ALSO BELIEVE THE SARLACC IS RESPONSIBLE FOR THOUSANDS OF DEATHS. CASUALTY REPORTS CROSSED MY DESK REGULARLY.

UNFORTUNATELY, I DON’T HAVE ANY MORE FOR YOU THAN THAT. I DID DISCOVER THE IMPERIAL NAVY WAS HIDING THIS PROJECT FROM THE SENATE BY USING SECONDARY SOURCES TO TRANSFER RESOURCES. I’M REFERRING TO FAKE CONTRACTORS AND UNWORLD ASSOCIATES… TO KEEP THE TRAIL FROM LEADING BACK TO THE SARLACC PROJECT. ONE OF THESE NEFARIOUS MIDDLE MEN IS A CRIME LORD NAMED DARGA THE HUTT. HE’S A SLIMY GANGSTER WHOSE LOVE FOR CREDITS IS SECOND ONLY TO HIS LOVE OF POWER.

PART OF MY JOB INVOLVED TRANSFERING PHYSICAL RESOURCES TO DARGA IN EXCHANGE FOR IMPERIAL AGENTS TAKING CONTROL OF RESOURCES PROVIDED BY DARGA. THIS IS THE ONLY LEAD WE HAVE.
OUR PATRON HAS AUTHORIZED ME TO USE YOU AS MY AGENTS. I NEED YOU TO TRAVEL TO THE PLANET CATO NEIMOIDIA. DARGA IS RUMORED TO BE IN THE CITY OF ZARRA. GET HIM TO TAKE YOU INTO HIS CONFIDENCE AND UNCOVER WHAT HE KNOWS ABOUT THE SARLACC PROJECT. Any questions?”
Kelyn raised his hand. “What kind of opposition are we looking at?”
“Hopefully none,” Varth said in his version of a joke. “The goal is to cuddle up to the Hutt and get him to spill the beans. More than likely, you’ll have to do some snoop work. UNFORTUNATELY, DARGA’S BASE OF OPERATIONS IS UNKNOWN. HE HAS BEEN SEEN IN DARGA. CHANCES ARE SOMEONE THERE KNOWS HIS WHEREABOUTS.”
Tor raised a hand. “Where in Zarra are we likely to uncover leads?”
“ZARRA GOT ITS BUTT KICKED DURING THE CLONE WARS. HALF THE CITY IS IN RUINS. THE OTHER HALF IS ALMOST IN RUINS. THOSE WHO REMAINED ARE ALL BUNCHED TOGETHER IN A SHANTY. I know you acquired an Imperial shuttle. Discretion is the name of the game with this mission gentlemen, and the appearance of the Theta would make all links to Darga dry up instantly. Captain O’Keefe has volunteered to fly you in.
“I trust her with my life,” Tor said.
“Can we get the turret attached to the Banshee?” N3MO asked, his fingers moving as if he was back in the turret.”
“You leave in the morning, gentlemen,” Varth warned the group.
CatoCato
Khalik pondered a rush overnight installation job. He pictured O’Keefe’s wrath if things didn’t go according to plan. “We don’t have time,” he decided.
The next morning, the Banshee and ARC-170 were off to Cato Neimoidia.
Their first impression of Cato Neimoidia was of a beautiful sand castle kicked to the ground by a malicious Kowakian monkey lizard. Every time pieces of the sand castle were revived to their former glory, more monkey lizards rushed in to trash the structures.. The city was once incredibly opulent, full of ornately carved palaces, crusted with intricate facades, with even the road cobbles carved and often inlaid into mesmerizing patterns, but now is a smoking ruin, ransacked and burned – a product of the Clone Wars. The Banshee cruised above crumbled towers and rubble strewn streets, with a sparse population wandering in the desolation.

The rebels noted with alarm there were areas where they could see through the roads and see sky underneath. The light was starting to wane.

It was closing in on the dinner hour. They smelled the spices of cooking fires upwind in the breeze and they could see smoke rising from throughout the city and trailing off the side. There were tents and ramshackle shanties strewn amid the wreckage of the grander structures. They didn’t feel the city swaying in the breeze, but they were aware of its position on the massive bridge. The entire city was shaded by a massive rock arch, which now seemed impossibly large.
A Neimoidian female met the crew at the docking bay. She hastily collected the two hundred credit docking fee. Kelyn slipped her an extra three hundred credits. “For assistance later on,” he suggested.
“I will help you however you need,” she said.
“We’re trying to find someone,” Carson said.
“You should talk to Grahrk. He owns the General Store. He knows everyone around here.”
“Where do we find him?” Tor asked.
“Go down the bridge. His shop is the Trade Federation Battleship sticking out of the cliff.”
The team decided to hurry against the setting sun. They had no problem finding what was indeed a quarter of a Trade Federation Command ship jutting out of the cliff. It was only a matter of time before it plummeted into the valley below with the rest of the wreckage. A ramp led up into the ship. As Tor stepped in, he could feel the ship teetering, one instance closer to collapsing. He hoped he wouldn’t be inside when it finally happened.
Grahrk sat behind a pile of sandbags in the center of the shop, a blaster rifle aimed at the door. His finger twitched near the trigger. A Neimoidian wearing blood-stained Clone Wars soldier armor stood next to Grahrk. “Grahrk,” the “soldier asked in a slurred voice, “Do you have any Jedi caf? I want to drink Jedi caf.”
“No, Jedi Lok. We only have carbon-frozen caf.”
“Do you know how Jedi make caf,” Lok asks? They use the Force to move the water through the beans. There’s no percolator or anything. It’s just beans held in the air with the Force, with water poured by the Force, and it all goes into a mug.”
“Sounds like forceful caf, Jedi Lok.”
“Forceful caf. That’s a good one, Grahrk. Say, do you sell any Jedi hats or Jedi mugs?”
“No, Jedi Lok. The Empire would blast me if I did. You know that.”
“I’ll blast the Empire, Grahrk.”
“You do that, Jedi Lok.”
Baris stepped in. “Excuse me,” he began.
The blaster rifle turned onto Baris. “What’s your business?” Grahrk asked.
“To purchase items from your fine establishment?” Baris persuaded.
“Show your credits,” Grahrk demanded. “We have a looting problem in this neighborhood.”
Baris held out a fistful of money. “Welcome to Grahrk’s,” the old Neimoidian said.
“Did you ever meet a Jedi?” Tor asked Lok.
“Oh boy,” Grahrk groaned.
“I sure did. I fought in the Clone Wars for the Separatists,” Lok bragged. The Jedi were master warriors. One of them could slay an entire army. I got taken out by the biggest, toughest Jedi of them all. Called Tano.”
“Was he a human?” Baris asked.
“Togruta. A big one!” Lok yelled. “She cut my stomach open with her lightsaber. Look!”
Lok lifted his shirt, showing the nasty scar.”
“So, you’re a local hero,” Tor said.
“I don’t know about hero,” Lok said. “I did my best. And I was lucky to come home alive.”
“So you must have an important job in Zarra,” Tor probed.
“Nah, I don’t work. I hang out here with Grahrk.”
“And Grahrk must love every moment of it,” Baris sighed.
Grahrk smile and showed the crisp hundred credit chip Lok had paid for his caf with. “His credits are abundant and real,” Grahrk bragged.
“You must know people… like local thieves…”
“I hate thieves! I’d like to gather all the thieves and push them off the bridge.”
“Let’s do that,” Tor said, eyes bright with hope. “Let’s get the biggest thief of them all and push him off the bridge. How would we find him?”
“I’d ask my buddy Clavoy. He is real smart and works for the city. He knows people who knows everything.”
“So take us to see Clavoy,” Tor begged.
“Okay,” Lok said and leapt onto the ramp. The ship shuddered. The rebels all held their breath.
“How many times have I got to tell you not to do that?” Grahrk shouted.

Clavoy lived with his mom in the shanty. Lok pointed out her shack… a series of cardboard boxes painted a revolting pink. Moss grew in flower pots on the window sills. “Will you go in with us?” Tor asked Lok.
“Oh no,” Lok said shaking his head. “Clavoy says his mom doesn’t like me.”
“I’ll stay out here with you,” Tor said, reassuring his new friend. Did this guy have an authentic Jedi artifact? How much did he know about the Jedi?
Carson, Kelyn and Baris knocked on the curtain that served as a door.
“You aren’t taking my valuables!” Esther Clavoy shouted.
“We aren’t here to rob you,” Kelyn tried to assure the old woman. “We’re here to see your son.”
“He isn’t here,” Esther said. “Come on in. Will you have tea with me? I made a fresh pie, but it’s going to go cold before Cliff comes home.”
“We would love to have some of your delicious pie,” Kelyn said.
“I won’t put out afterwards. Just so you know.”
An uncomfortable aura drifted around the room as the rebels tried to force the vision of intercourse with the little old Neimoidian out of their minds.
“Before we eat, let us be refined. Would you please recite some classical poetry?”
Baris couldn’t think of any poems, but he tried to regale Esther with stories of the Clone Wars.
Esther’s face turned red. “The problem with you kids is it’s all about violence and killing. Tea is no place for such affairs. It’s about beauty and love! Get out! Now!”
Baris ran out of the shack.
Kelyn tried to recite a poem. When Carson heard the first line to be “Womp rat, womp rat, womp rat, how you squeal…” he leapt in, reciting something he’d read on the walls of the spaceport. Something about Good Lord Nutray.
Esther nearly swooned. “That’s one of my favorites,” she sighed. Now, we have tea and pie. As she sat down, she made a series of complex gestures. Baris had watched closely, transfixed by the bizarity of this old biddy. He realized they were expected to participate in the ritual and copied the motions… slower, so the others could copy him.
As they had tea and pie, Carson looked around the room and saw several photos of Esther with a young man who must be her son. He memorized the face.
Outside, Tor pressed Lok about the Jedi. “Any Jedi artifacts?” he asked.
“Oh yeah, see this?” Lok said, waving his rags. “I made this myself. It’s an exact copy of the one Tano was wearing.”
“Master craftsmanship,” Khalik agreed sarcastically.
“Do you know where I can get a Jedi mug? I really want a Jedi mug.”
Lok was so loud everyone inside the huts could hear him. Carson and Baris raised their voices to blot out Lok’s rantings. They did not want this to turn ugly at the end.
“You can get a Jedi mug at Coruscant,” Tor suggested.
“Oh Coruscant, of course,” Lok said, amazed the answer and avoided him for so long.
“Where is your son?” Kelyn asked Esther. We could bring him this delicious pie and help convince him to straighten up his act, so he appreciates you more.”
“Would you do that?” Esther asked. “Could you also bring a piece of pie to that nice bartender, Woody?”
“It would be an honor,” Kelyn said.
They left the shack with directions for the local cantina Clavoy favored, the Dogan. No sooner than they had relayed the good news, blaster fire broke out. The sounds of repulsor engines drowned out all sound, and swoop bikes chased the locals from their homes. A blast here and there set a squalid shack on fire. At last, the swoops surrounded the rebels. The leader climbed from her bike and took cover behind it. “Pretty little ship you have back there,” she said. “What’s it’s name? You haven’t paid the docking fee. It’s a thousand credits.”
Viper atkViper atk
Carson chastised the swoop leader. “Only official starport authorities may charge docking fees. According to the Bureau of Starships and…”
Kessra, the swoop leader, turned her blaster onto Carson. “You misunderstood. It’s a thousand credits each. You’re lucky. You landed on the nice side of town.”
The swoops swooped in. The gang members swiped at the rebels with their vibroblades. N3MO took a jolt to his side. The droid stepped forward, saw whirling. He cut the bike and biker in half.
KessraKessra
“Give it up,” Tor demanded from Kessra. “Our droid means business.”
“Everyone get the droid. Once their toy is broken, they’ll cough up the dough.”
“Thanks guys,” N3MO said.
Blaster bolts flew. A swoop driver slumped forward. His bike carried him over the edge, and he vanished in the mist below.
Carson stepped next to N3MO. “We aren’t going to let you get out of this alive now,” he threatened. “Half your people are dead.”
Kessra seemed to understand. She hopped on her swoop and took off, vanishing around the bend.
A gang member rode into a house across from Esther’s place. Tor could see him through the window. “Your boss has abandoned you. Leave now.”
“No! That’s impossible!” the biker shouted and drove his bike through the window and across the chasm to the far side, where Kessra had been hunkered down.
The other bike leapt onto a sandstone column. N3MO leapt after it and used its magnetic feet to latch onto the top of the swoop, nearly making it tumble off the column. The bike leapt around the columns, trying to shake off the droid. N3MO shook off the driver from his mortal coil and hopped into the controls, squishing the corpse before the swoop could fall off the column.
N3MO charged the last swoop. The rebels unleashed their lasers, and the gang member dropped dead.
The group fumed that Kessra had gotten away. They were quite tempted to set aside the mission and hunt her down.
Instead, they descended the disintegrating stairs next to the bridge. Carson found a piece of plywood, stepped on it and surfed down the slope. He saw Kelyn and Baris struggling, clinging to the wall, and he swooped them onto his surfboard and let them ride down to the level ground.
Then, they reached a disintegrating bridge. Tor crossed without incident. Kelyn and N3MO rode their new swoop bikes across. The board broke beneath Khalik’s feet, but he managed to get across.
At the far side of the bridge, they saw the words “The Dogan” carved into the stone wall. Inside the cave was the bar. Tiny monitors surrounded the main bar, showing security feeds from throughout the city. There was a large radar screen, which any patron or employee would explain was used to detect Imperial bombing raids. The bar was not only a watering hole but a bomb shelter. Those who found sanctuary at the Dogan rarely left. However, the clientele and staff were among the best informed of city news.
Clavoy sat at the edge of the bar, talking to Normvy, the largest Neimoidian ever. He could be mistaken for a mutant Gammorean. “Well, not only is skin the largest organ in the body, but another interesting little tidbit about skin is that the Neimoidian body sheds about three pounds of it over the course of the year.
Normvy shook his head and drinks some ale. “Some of mine just crawled away.”
Woody, the Chadra Fan bartender, asked, “I don’t understand, where does it go?”
Clavoy replies, “To the atmosphere… dust.”
Normvy choke on his ale and chuckled, “What?”
Clavoy insisted, “Yeah, yeah, about 75% of all dust is Neimoidian skin.”
Carson stepped up to Clavoy’s side. “Actually, Cato Neimoidian dust is 16 percent Neimoidian skin, 63 percent plant dust and 29 percent rotted beetles. Most the balance is surprisingly made from decomposed moles.”
Clavoy had a new friend. Kelyn offered Esther’s pie to Woody and Clavoy.
“We’re looking for someone. They say there’s a Hutt in town…” Carson explained.
Clavoy said, “They say Hutts are hermaphroditic. Both male and female. I say this cannot be, because they are all aggressive, something you don’t see in the fairer sex. You see, the roots of physical aggression in the male of the species is found right here, in the old DNA molecule itself. Right up here at about one ‘o clock as I recall. Hold on to your hat because the very letters, DNA, are an acronym for the words ’Dames Are Not Aggressive’. “
The barmaid, Diatoy, approached. “They stand for Deoxyribonucleic Acid.”
Clavoy retorted, “Ah yes, but parse in High Galactic declination and my point is still moot.”
“Would you know where the Hutt is, being a loyal servant to the city and all,” Kelyn prodded.
“There is one who would know.”
“Oh no,” Normvy moaned.
“The Wizard of Zarra.”
“The what?” The rebels all blurted in unison.
“Is he an actual wizard?” Tor asked.
“It’s more of an honorary term,” Clavoy confided. “He is the last surviving member of the Neimoidian Inner Circle. We have him protected in a bunker. But for 250 credits you can have a holoconference with him and ask questions.”
“Where do we find him?” Tor asked.
“Back up to the bridge, make a right, cross two more bridges, and at the news kiosk time in ‘Council.’”
Carson asked if there was a back way out of the bar, fearing to cross the bridge again. “Yeah, you can take the cargo elevator,” Clavoy offered.
Soon, they were all off to see the Wizard.
At the kiosk, they typed ‘Council.’ A turbolift appeared and swept the rebels underground, where a dozen B-2 battle droids aiming their blaster rifles at them. “250 credits,” the lead droid demanded.
They felt compelled to pay.
The Wizard appeared as a five meter high face surrounded in fire. “Who dares disturb the Wizard of Zarra?” the Wiz demanded. “Oh, and is Darth Vader dead yet?”
“Not yet, we’re afraid,” the heroes responded.
“We seek Darga the Hutt,” Tor informed the Wiz.
“To find Darga, you will need to find Warrick Raden. He is a ground level lieutenant in Darga’s organization. You can find him in a warehouse at the coordinates on the screen. The Great Zarra has spoken!”
The hologram vanished.

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Reflections from Tor part 3

Tor peered through the grate on the cramped ventilation shaft, Cs’er and Khalic squeezed in behind him. Beyond the grate, Tor could see the small control room with several technicians and a man who could only be Lieutenant Arden busying themselves amongst the control panels, one of which was beginning to light up with an incoming message. Tor’s eyes narrowed as he listened intently to the message.

As he listened, Tor felt a faint shiver of unease ripple his fur. An Imperial Inquisitor? Here? Tor shifted uncomfortably in the simple mechanics jumpsuit he wore, a great departure from the simple jedi tunic and robes in which he had spent the majority of his life. As Tor focused on the Force, he realized that he could sense the Inquisitor’s dark presence approaching like a shadow pressing in on him.

I can not allow myself to be captured. Not while there is still work to be accomplished. Not when I am the last of the jedi. As Tor tried to find his way past the shadow to the light side of the Force, he heard alarms begin to sound in the room below. Blast! I must act quick before they alert the Inquisitor! Tor thought somewhat frantically. Tor felt the Force flow through him and channeled the energy through his body and into the room beyond, blasting the occupants inside and blowing the grate off of the vent.

Dropping swiftly into the room, Tor tried to detect any sign that the Inquisitor had been notified. Not finding anything, but still not content, Tor turned back to face his comrades. Tor felt a urge from the Force. We must move quickly, he thought forcefully. I sense that we have precious little time to complete our mission. And I worry for what may be awaiting us at the end…

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Prison Break

The attack on the Imperial Outpost had gone as well as any attack on a large, omnipotent military force could go as they made their way out to the roof to get off before the charges they had planted detonated. A small army followed the party up to the landing pad where a gang of storm troopers waited. “Wonderful” Carson had thought as they approached. He made a quick glance over to N3M0, the ever deadly pack mule, who was now carrying the unconscious Admiral Vishara on his back. Carson ordered the droid to turn around. “Don’t fire or you’ll risk killing your precious admiral.” The officer yelled to his men “Stand down” and they began to circle the group while the officer readied an ion grenade. “I don’t think you want to use that unless you want a flattened admiral.” Carson added as the group prepared to fight. N3M0’s chainsaw started up as a storm trooper moved a little too close. The rest of the group readied their weapons and prepared to fight their way out. “Threat detected.” N3M0 added as the construction saw ground it’s way through another storm troopers armor, plunging the group into yet another bloody confrontation.

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Felucian Holiday

Crates of Corellian ale were piled so high in N3MO’s arms he didn’t see the big yellow Baudo transport fly into the hangar. A voice crackled over the external com, “All right kids. Time to stop playing and get on Captain O’Keefe’s school bus. The school bell’s about to go ring-ring, so let’s make haste.”
“Are we getting on a school bus,” the blinded droid asked.
“Cool,” Carson added as they ran up the boarding ramp. The ship took off, leaving Sel Zonn behind. Moments after vanishing into the anonymity of hyperspace, the captain came out to greet the passengers. The woman looked about fifty… but was still stunning with her long white hair and enchanting eyes. “Welcome to the Banshee. I’m Sirona O’Keefe. Make yourselves comfortable for the trip to Alderaan. The hot tub is in the back. Feel free to use it.”
“I take it this is a no questions asked charter?” Carson asked Sirona, as he settled into the co-pilot’s seat, much to Sirona’s droid counterpart’s irritation.
“It’s okay. Bail and I go way back.”
“How do you know him?”
“He has me on retainer, running all kinds of no questions asked chauffeur gigs. It hasn’t made me popular with the family. They have suspicions about our mutual friend’s loyalty to the Empire.”
“They’re Imperial sympathizers?” Carson asked.
“Most people on Brentaal bought the whole peace through dominance bantha fodder. I’m a sort of black sheep. I haven’t had much contact lately with the fam-unit… except my niece, Platt. She wants to grow to be a pilot like her aunt. I think she’ll make a damned fine one. Here’s Alderaan.”
The rebels wandered to the bridge to watch the mountains and oceans fly by. Khalik flipped through galactic guides about the planet, trying to figure out where they were headed. It was all mountains and seas.
“Where are we headed?” Tor broke the silence.
“Aldera. Planetary capital. See that palace up ahead. You’re going to see it much closer,” Sirona smiled.
The Royal Palace’s control tower confirmed the Banshee’s docking information, and before long the rebels of Sel Zonn found themselves deboarding at a powerful Galactic Senator’s palace.
“Hey Crash,” Sirona instructed her droid, “Get my travel kit. Prepare for unloading.”
The heroes looked around as cargo loaders paraded past, to the Banshee’s hold. One droid kept its receptors focused on N3MO until it was well past.
The doors to the Grand Hall opened, and in strode a middle-aged man who had a well-kept goatee and wore Senatorial robes. Easily recognizable as Bail Organa, he smiled and nodded to the servants before joining the Sel Zonn rebels on the balcony. “Welcome to Alderaan,” he sayid. “I had hoped we might meet under more pleasant circumstances, but unfortunately the Empire makes almost everything unpleasant. Still, I am glad to see that the . . . difficulties at the spaceport above Brentaal didn’t impede you too much. Come.” He walked into a small theater style antechamber.
Inside, a Pau’an sat stiffly, with a five seat gap between himself and the grisly mechanic slouching in his seat. “I have some matters to attend to, but I will be back. Please converse and enjoy our wide selection of pastries and jellies.”
Awkwardly, the rebels sized up the mechanic and Pau’an as they helped themselves to the buffet. Khalic put down his plate and began tinkering with N3MO. Kelan stepped over, and the two tinkerers bonded as they fixed up the war droid.
“So what brings you guys here?” Kelan asked.
“There’s a bar on Sel Zonn Station called Gundark’s,” Khalic began.
“ Let’s say we can never go back there again,” N3MO finished.
Senator Organa returned to the theater.
“I’ve asked you to join me today because Maya, my agent, seems to think you can be trusted. By the way, she is safe now, and is no longer on the station. Since you worked hard to help her, I believe I can put my faith in you as well. I have a task that needs to be completed, but unfortunately my status as a Senator prevents me from taking care of it myself, or even from sending someone directly associated with the Royal Family –I realize I need to be more cautious in the future.”

He activates a holo, causing a planet to appear.

“The planet Felucia was ravaged during the Clone Wars, but once the fighting was over, the Empire set up some permanent facilities on the world. This is the one that concerns me,” he says, zooming in on a dot near the equator.

“Nothing large—It used to be a communications facility. Now it’s just a small garrison where they could keep prisoners out of the way, a rendition facility. Some months ago, I was contacted by an Imperial Admiral who was disillusioned with the way the Empire had twisted the once-great Republic, and he began feeding me sensitive information. A little over a week ago, that communication stopped. My agent, who you just brought back from Brentaal, has just told me that the Admiral has been taken to Felucia, where he is being held against his will. I’d like you to learn what has become of him, and rescue him if you can.”
“What kind of prisoners do they keep there?” Tor asked.
“Beings the Empire wants out of the way but think may be useful some time in the future. Mostly political prisoners.”
“What kind of opposition are we looking at?” Kelan asked.
“The Imperial presence on Felucia is light. The facility itself is a secret, accessible by air and surrounded by swamps and jungles. They do not advertise its presence with large numbers of troops, and it is far from other settlements. Our knowledge of the facility’s existence is our greatest advantage. Additionally, you shouldn’t be going anywhere near the planet’s major cities, so you should be able to travel largely undetected.

There’s just one thing —we believe this facility has a roof-turret guarding it. You can’t land on it or near it.”
The heroes began to plot ways to get into the base. N3MO took pride that most of the solutions involved dropping him onto the roof and letting him unleash Sith on the facility.
“How are we getting to Felucia?” Kelan asked.
Bail said, “I’ve arranged transport aboard a vessel owned and operated by my longtime friend, Sirona Okeefe. Hello Sirona.”

He gave her a warm embrace.

“As you already know, Sirona knows her way around the galaxy. She’ll take good care of you.”

The door chimed and Organa opened it. Col pointed to his chronometer and Organa nodded. “I’m afraid my shuttle has arrived and I must go now. Thank you for your help so far, and I’ll look forward to our next meeting.”

Sirona said, “The Banshee isn’t an assault ship, and the turret will prevent our landing near the prison facility. That means you are going to have to get in and get out with the Admiral on foot.”

Zooming in on the holo, she pointed to a long and deep canyon that cuts across reasonably close to the canyon.

“We can enter here, out of the facility’s sensor range” she says, pointing to the far end of the canyon. Tracing the long canyon around the horizon, she says, “The canyon should hide us from their sensors on our approach. We’ll put down here, at the closest point to the prison. I’ll wait there for your transmission. You can bring him back by foot.”

Sirona escorted the rebels to the ship and apologetically asked them to remain there to reduce visibility on the planet. Sirona offered to secure whatever provisions she could with the two thousand credits per agent offered by Senator Organa. Sirona returned later in the afternoon with survival and med kits.

The next morning, the Banshee launched for Felucia.
Crash plotted a course that mostly followed the Parleman trade route, which made the long journey to the outer rim much faster, but it was still a long journey. Though the quarters were tight, the beautiful ship was appointed like a spa, and the agents enjoyed the few days of much needed relaxation and rest.

On approach to Felucia, Sirona told everyone to strap in at battlestations, as a precautionary measure. The proximity alert sounded and the ship leapt out of lightspeed, and Felucia filled the viewscreen. Its atmosphere seemed to be covered in iridescent haze, making it hard to distinguish the sea from the land, and there weren’t many lights.

Sirona flipped a few switches to mask the transponder and cut her engines, and didn’t start them again until the ship was already caught in the gravity well. The Banshee descended, punching through clouds and rain until the canyon was spotted amid the lush and brightly coloured vegetation. Sirona headed for it, and the rebels felt the squeeze as she dipped beneath the walls and pushed the ship down the slot.

“Hang on! This could get tight, really fast!”

Taking her time, the Banshee pushed through a bizarre landscape of giant flowers, tendrils and bloated fungi. The vegetation made the canyon much tighter than it appeared on the map, and sometimes the orange overcast sky disappeared in the tunnel. Strange flying creatures bumped and splatted against the windscreen in the rain. Rounding a corner, the slot opened wider, and Sirona accelerated down the straightaway, gliding easily over a cluster of orange mushrooms larger than the ship.

“We’ll set down over there”, she said, pointing to a ledge.

Just as she said that, one of the massive mushrooms ballooned up to twice its size and rocketed upwards, trailing a cluster of tendrils underneath it. “What the…?” Sirona jinked the ship to the right, but it was too tight. The gasbag exploded, buffeting the ship with orange dust and slime. The passengers felt a lurch and a sickening dip as the repulsors began to give out.

“Brace!”

Sirona fired the engines hard and the ship lurched forward, shedding much of the slime and dropping the cloud behind it, even as the altitude dipped. She pointed the nose clumsily at a soft and large shelf mushroom near the lip of the canyon and fired the engine hard again. The Banshee arced upward, and its apogee slid it to a lurching stop on the fungus. The viewscreen was blocked by translucent membranous flowers.

The agents stepped down into the shelf fungus, and sank a little in squishy biomass. The air smelled fertile and the rebels could see fragrant wafts of pollens streaming from bulging stamens. The landscape was bizarre. The membranous vegetation was translucent, oversized, and coloured brightly. It was hot and humid, and insects flew and crawled everywhere.

Sirona climbed down the boarding ramp and circled the ship. “The damage isn’t bad. The repulsors need to be cleaned of that pollen before we can fly again, and I need to get the carcass off the ship. You see the remains of the gasbag draped across the ship like an orange balloon, which in this place, is perfect camoflauge.”

An hour later, the captain called Senator Organa’s helpers outside. Sirona handed them back their personal datapads and backpacks full of rations. “We have enough portable supplies here for a week’s travel, but you shouldn’t be gone that long. It shouldn’t take you more than a day or so to get there, but I can wait here for your communiqué for a week, maybe longer if I can hunt something to eat, in case you run into trouble. Crash will monitor your message, so it won’t be missed. I took the liberty of uploading your datapads with maps showing the location of the facility. I’m not going to say who… but someone needs to keep their dirty pictures ERNCRYPTED. Be careful out there. Come back to me guys. I’ll keep the tub warm.”
The rebels climbed down the mushroom to the canyon floor and slowly made their way toward the Imperial base. Khalic noted several puddles up ahead that seemed to be giving off steam. Several hours later, Carson found a sinkhole behind some vegetation. Kelan snickered and leapt over the plants, landing on a narrow ledge leading around the pit. He almost skipped across. He pulled out the grappling hook. N3MO made his way across, pausing now and again to pound handholds in the stone walls. Everyone inched their way across. The ground began to slope upwards. An hour later, Khalik stopped everyone. He saw a small rodent get snagged by razor-sharp tendrils of a mushroom, slicing the poor creature in half. N3MO shook what passed for its head. “I’ll clear the way,” he announced and approached a patch of razor mushrooms. The tendrils sprang to life, ensnaring the droid, latching onto him and sliding beneath his hull, severing wires, faster than he could hack the tendrils. The agents pulled their blasters and unloaded at the razors-sharp vines, blasting 20 percent of the razor shroom patch to smithereens.
“I have a better idea,” Tor announced and pulled out his repulsor pad. He activated it and leapt into the air. He moved across the hazardous terrain, tied off a grappling hook and returned for the others. Cser, the Pau’an noble, attached one end of his binders to the liquid cable running across the danger zone. “Come on,” Cser smiled wickedly to Carson. “Let me put this other end on you, and you can swing across.”
“All right, Carson agreed and howled in pain as the binders dug into his wrist as he swung across. Then, there was a tense moment as he wasn’t certain the Pau’an would undo the binders. After getting his bruised wrist freed, Carson looked up to see Khalik holler as he lost his grip on the cable. Razor tendrils leapt at him, but N3MO was there to yank his master back up and hold him single-handedly above the grappling cable as he pulled himself across. It could have been the funky red Felucian sky, but it looked like Khalik was red in the face from the incident.
Leaving the razor shrooms behind, they reached a clearing. The cacophony of noise created by insects and animals made it nearly impossible to hear the splash of their own footsteps through the swamp. The open area they walk into resembled a large shallow pool of water with flowers under water, with large fungi and massive flowers poking through. A faint mist hung over the swampy ground, drifting over the still pool of water. By now, the crazy colours and weird sunlight were tiring the agents’ eyes, but they saw something unusual in the distance – something stark and white that appeared to leaning against a large fungus.
They saw a stormtrooper standing in the middle of a muddy clearing. One by one, the group snuck closer, trying to determine what was going on. It was an odd place for a stormtrooper to be hanging out. Tor reached out through the Force. He couldn’t sense any life coming from the muddy clearing.
N3MO trudged noisily

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Mutants and Masterminds

Toremerged from the waste removal chute and found a janitor pushing a cart full of waste barrels into the room. He stepped away from the cart and logged into the computer console, probably to log the “flush.” Tor turned to his companions and gave the “Quiet, we have company” signal. N3MO saw and relayed the order. The Camassi leapt silently from the pipe and scurried behind the waste cart. Everything was working out great. Then, a deafening clatter, followed by several screams reverberated up the waste chute and throughout the room.
Carson slipped on some glowing-in-the-dark filth and tumbled down the poop chute. Kelyn reached out to catch his comrade, but he didn’t have enough of a grip on the pipe to handle the force of the tumbling human. They both rolled down into Ce’sr, and all three fell from the pipe toward the gorge below. Ce’sr and Carson both caught the lip of the pipe. The Pau’an hollered, “I’ve got poop in my nose!” Kelyn hadn’t been able to nab the passing pipe but caught Ce’sr’s legs. He leapt up to grab the pipe lip, and Ce’sr sprang up with unprecedented nimbleness, seeming to fly back into the pipe and halfway up the dark shaft.
Back inside, Tor reached out with the Force and snagged the janitor’s holstered blaster pistol. N3MO raced in, vibrosaw whirling. The janitor ducked, and the saw only provided ventilation to the top of the janitor’s hat. Khalikaimed his blaster and fired. The janitor dropped. Tor noticed the janitor hadn’t been logging his barrels but checking his Holo Facebook account.
Khlaik hurried to the console and accessed the room’s security protocols. He easily erased the day’s feed and played yesterday’s feed, sending that information to the command room. Meanwhile, Carson revived the janitor. Ce’sr was quick to bind him.
“Where is Admiral Varth being kept?” Tor demanded.
“Admiral who?” the janitor sputtered. “If he’s a prisoner, the detention area is one level lower… but you need a security keycard to get down there.”
“Who has the cards?” Tor pressed.
“Lt. Arden and Captain Vischera,” the janitor replied. “But you’ll never get out of here alive, you stinking aliens.”
“Keep talking like that and I’ll cut your head off,” N3MO threatened, starting up his vibrosaw.
“Go ahead. You’re already condemned.”
N3MO dropped the blade.
“Control you droid,” Tor spat at Khalik. “We needed more information.”
Khalik returned to the console and searched for Arden and Vischera. Arden was logged into a console in the communications room on the main level. There was no trace of Vischera.
The rebels decided it would be smartest to move through the air ducts. N3MO was definitely not going to fit, so they decided to have the humanoids sneak through the halls and the nonhumans move through the air ducts. The com room was up one level and past the med lab. Tor stopped to check the med bay. This vast chamber seems at first to be a place of healing—at least, until you take a closer look. Large bacta tanks line one border of the room, and other medical equipment is distributed haphazardly throughout the area. Operating tables, many with clamps and other restraint devices, seem to be scattered throughout the room with no real pattern to their arrangement, and the entire room has the same sterile smell of a medical bay.
Dressed in the sterile white robes of doctors throughout the galaxy, the woman seems to be little more than a scientist. The insignia of the Empire sits on a patch on each shoulder, but otherwise she looks like a normal medical researcher. She sits in her office with the door open to the med lab.
Two Felucians have clearly undergone some kind of mutation; their muscles bulge and their bodies seems to bend in unnatural places. The creatures’ right forearm has been removed entirely, and instead a long bone blade extends from the elbow, growing out of the flesh with a ragged, serrated edge. Thick, tough-looking scales grow out of the Felucians’ bodies. The Felucians lie strapped down on examination tables. A 21-B droid hobbled over to one and placed an electric probe between its legs.
As a sentient being and a male, I cannot allow this to happen, Tor thought. He turned to the medical assistant and reached out with the Force to mess with her mind.
“Damnit 2-1Beep. I have a headache. Do you have to do that now.”
“Gracious apologies, Madam, but you did tell me to perform the procedure at a quarter till the hour, and it is quarter till the hour.”
“Just stop it,” the assistant ordered, and the confused droid put down the electrobe and headed for the laboratory room.
Ce’sr fired a stun bolt at the assistant and knocked her unconscious. Then, he stealthily leapt into the room and, with Khalik’s help, locked the droid into the lab… not that he noticed anything was out of the ordinary.
Tor looked at the tortured creatures. The abuse had been physical as well as mental. They were barely sentient by this point. It would be too risky to let them go.
Kelyn popped on the com. “We’re in position. How are things with you guys?”
“Doing fine. Just getting supplies,” Tor responded. Ce’sr and Khalik were looting the lab for medpacs. They also stumbled onto ten syringes filled with a stimulant that would aid in healing. The syringes went into the backpacks.
“Just wondering,” Kelyn asked, “How long till the next security detail checks out this area?”
Khalik shoved the medical assistant out of the way and checked her console. “Ten minutes. They’re upstairs now,” he informed the team.
“Then we better get moving,” Kelyn encouraged the team.
The bulk of this room was taken up by computers and other communications arrays. The far wall jutted outward slightly to make room for a massive computer column, which obviously formed the base of the satellite dish attached to the side of the facility. Blinking lights and flashing monitors indicated that the station was obviously in constant communication with someone, and displays showed sensor readouts from around the station and elsewhere on Felucia. An Imperial soldier wore a dark gray uniform and an Imperial Army helmet, and a blaster pistol holstered at his hip. Additionally, a datapad and other communications equipment was tucked in pouches attached to his belt, giving the impression that he was both a soldier and a technician.
“Incoming priority message, sir” a technician informed Lt Arden. “Let’s see it then,” Arden yelled at the subordinate. A holo display showed decrypting progress as the message was prepared for playback.
//ROUTED . . . SECURITY ENCRYPTION CONFIRMED
//FROM PRAKITH CITADEL COMM CENTER VIA HOLONET NODE
6673-ALPHA
//FROM NODE 6673-ALPHA VIA STAR DESTROYER ASSIDUOUS
Priority 1 Message Follows:
Prepare former Admiral Gilder Varth for transfer to the Citadel.
Inquisitor Draco will be arriving within a standard Felucian
day/night cycle to take custody of the prisoner. You are instructed
to have your medical technicians ensure that Varth is fully rested
and at his highest possible strength.
Interrogation chemicals should be administered to Varth upon
notification that the Inquisitor has arrived on Felucia. Varth will be
transferred by shuttle to the Assiduous before Inquisitor Draco takes
custody. Time from administration of interrogation chemicals to
transfer to the Inquisitor’s personal transport should fall within an
acceptable window of 27 to 54 minutes.
//END TRANSMISSION
“You heard the officer,” Arden bellowed. “Let’s alert Captain Vischera.”
Khalik plugged his datapad into a conduit in the air vent. His fingers tapped quickly, hoping to take over the communications room’s controls. Alarms started flashing inside the room. “Outside presence trying to take control of our systems, sir,” a subordinate alerted Arden. “Block him out. Alert security immediately.”
Tor extended his hand, and the air vent cover blasted out into the room. The technicians and Arden went flying as the Force slammed into their bodies, shattering bones. The vent came down hard on Arden. The technicians were all dead. Arden was barely breathing.
Carson brought Arden around, as the others stole the technicians’ uniforms and blasters.
The rebels squeezed into the turbolifts and rode it down to the subbasement, where the reactor and prison was. They decided to plant Mandrake’s explosives in the reactor first.
The rebels entered the reactor room. Their ears seemed to bleed at the horrible screeching sounds of rusted durasteel forcing itself to move again and again. Various droids, all rusted almost to the point of total decomposition, dragged their chassis about, performing upkeep on the reactor. An administrative droid, whose face place plate had rusted away on the left half and was near to gone on the right side, hobbled up to Tor. “May I see your orders please. If you do not have the proper authorization to be here, I am afraid I must contact security.” Suddenly, there was a loud squealing sound, as if a droid had had orgasm. The rebels looked past the admin droid to see an R5 unit race to the pit and topple over the edge into the abyss. “R5E6’s restraining bolt finally rotted off. He was finally able to end his misery. Lucky droid. Authorization please?”
Carson smiled. The idea for a bluff turned on in his head like an ion engine. “We’re here to perform maintenance,” Carson explained.
The administrative droid shook with droid rage. “No one has been here to help us in three years. We’re rotting away. We need replacement parts, diagnostic checks. Captain Vischera ignores us. It’s cheaper to let us collapse and requisition replacement droids when there aren’t enough of us left to keep the precious reactor working.”
Carson blushed. It was the first time a droid had made him feel ashamed.
Ce’sr didn’t miss a beat. “We’re here to provide you with new restraining bolts. We’ll just remove the current ones and be back in an hour.”
The admin droid stood still. Tor thought it might have deactivated. Then, its optical receptors shone brighter than ever. “We would greatly appreciate that.”
Khalik and N3MO set about removing the bolts. When they were finished, the droids all hurried to the edge of the reactor and threw themselves to their doom. “Suicide has never been so much fun,” Carson pondered.
Khalik hurried to the reactor to place the charges. He almost reached for a power coupling. Luckily, Kelyn saw what was about to happen and pulled Khlaik back. Ce’sr, Khlaik and Kelyn set the charges and activated the remote detonation setting.
The rebels headed for the detention block.
A narrow corridor flanked on each side by smaller chambers led to massive double doors made of heavy steel. Beyond the doors laid a large holding area where several prisoners lingered anxiously. Each of the two smaller rooms flanking the hall seemed built for defense, both against intruders and escaping prisoners.
Carson stepped forward, fussing with Lt. Arden’s uniform. He inserted Arden’s keycard and opened the first set of doors. “I’m here for the prisoner transfer. I’m supposed to bring up some prisoners for transfer to the Inquisitor.”
“Yeah sure,” the warden replied. “I’ll just have to confirm this with Vischera. You know how he can be.”
“I don’t think we have time for that,” Carson encouraged.
“All right,” the warden said as he typed on his console, causing the thick steel doors leading to the holding area to open. “Get your prisoner, and I’ll verify the transfer.”
Tor and Khalik hurried into the holding area. Khalik handed blaster pistols to all the prisoners.
“Captain Vischera,” the warden said. “I have several officers down here to transfer prisoners for the Inquisitor’s arrival.”
“I didn’t authorize this. Who’s down there? Blast them!”
N3MO raced in and pinned the warden between himself at the console. The droid performed chiropractic work, exposing the warden’s spine and fixing a slipped disc. However, the warden died of complications and blood loss. Vischera’s voice came muffled beneath the corpse. “Andrews, are you still there? What’s going on?”
A tall, angular droid had a thin body and long, spindly arms. The tips of its hands sparked occasionally with blue energy, and its large, glowing eyes seemed to scan the room with vigilant awareness. It charged N3MO, but its stun baton arms were worthless against the droid adversary. Kelyn blasted the other warden dead.
In the holding area, Admiral Varth ordered the prisoners to target the other warden droid. Blasters fired inside the cell as the second droid effortlessly sidestepped each blast. N3MO dispatched the warden droid opposing him, and Tor used the Force to lift the second droid off its feet and slam it against a wall. Its head fell off.
“You will never get out of here alive. I promise you, I will kill you!” Captain Vischera shouted through the com, then cut off his transmission.
Sirona O’Keefe’s voice sounded in the rebels’ ears. “I got the ship cleared and ready for flight. Disable those turrets, and I’ll pick you up on the roof.”
The rebels decided they could most effectively take out the turrets by shutting them down from the control room. Admiral Varth told them Vischera had been using Separatist Clone Wars technology to mutate the natives into monster warriors. He probably had a couple of them as bodyguards. Aside from some technicians and stormtroopers, the command room shouldn’t have much more resistance.
Khalik pulled up the schematics and discovered the conference room next to the command room had a window. Using Tor’s repulor pads and a grappling hook, a group of them could move along the outside of the building and get to the command room’s window. Then, they could flank Vischera and his comrades.
Tor, Ce’sr and Rube, the Chandra Fan prisoner took the exterior route.
The battle began with N3MO slicing open the command room door. The stormtroopers took their positions and prepared to blast anything that came through it. Vischera’s two mutant Felucian bodyguards positioned themselves between Vischera and the door. When the door fell in with a loud crash, the troopers filled the room with blaster bolts that did not find N3MO’s chassis. The droid ran in and turned a stormtrooper to jelly. Kelyn and the other prisoners blasted away, under the guidance of Admiral Varth.
Tor ignited his lightsaber and prepared to slice open the window. Unfortunately, he got tangled up in his gear and the grappling wire and banged his funny bone against the glass. Rube blasted the window to shards. Ce’sr leapt in and rushed behind Vischera, who had no idea there were any threats behind him. One stun blast later, Vischera dropped. The bodyguard mutants whirled infuriated. They charged Ce’sr, slashing him with the serrated bone grafted to their arms. N3MO rushed to the rescue and carved a piece of a mutant’s arm. The mutant whirled and drove its serrated bone into the droid’s guts. Sparks flew. N3MO’s vision swirled.
Varth ran in, firing at the droid. Cel Rukto, the Duros prisoner finished off N3MO’s attacker with a well-placed shot.
Ce’sr fell back from the mutant, firing as he ran. Tor stepped in, trying to use the Force to make the droid combust. He couldn’t focus well enough as the mutant continued to close the distance between them. Khalik and Kelyn blasted the monstrosity.
It kept advancing.
Tor used the Force to gather all the shattered glass into a swirling vortex of doom. Shards dove into the Felucian’s throat, and it dropped.
Khalik turned off the power to the turret rooms. Immediately, the com lights flashed. The turret operators thought they were participating in a drill of some kind.
Carson turned to Varth. “What’s the code for an evacuation drill?”
“Gamma Episilon,” Varth replied. “But you’ll need the base commander’s codes to authorize it.”
N3MO produced the keycard from the Captain’s jacket pocket.
Carson got on the com. “This is Captain Vischera, and I am ordering drill Gamma Epsilon.”
“And your authorization code, Captain?”
Carson slipped the keycard into the console and read, “TK 1809.”
“Evacuation drill will begin immediately.”
Alarms blared, and two minutes later the speeder bikes and walkers had vanished into the jungle.
Tor got on the com. “O’Keefe, please pick us up.”
“I’m on my way,” she replied.
The rebels activated the room’s cargo lift to the roof and found an ARC 170 and Theta-Class shuttle docked. The Inquisitor’s goons had arrived. N3MO carried the bound Captain Vischera on his back. N3MO turned so Vischera was between him and the stormtroopers’ blasters.
Ce’sr stepped forward. “We have a hostage. Don’t shoot.”
“Don’t shoot the droid,” the officer commanded as he produced an ion grenade.
“The droid might fall on your officer,” Ce’sr warned.
“Alpha squad, surround the droid. Keep it from crushing Vischera.”
As the stormtroopers approached, Tor raised a hand. The troopers flew back, bowled over by the Force. A stormtrooper blasted Rube, killing him instantly. Several blaster bolts exchanged later, Kelyn was climbing into the cockpit of the ARC-170, and * was in the cockpit of the shuttle. The others divided themselves between the Banshee and shuttle.
Captain O’Keefe laughed, “Every time I pick you up, you have fireworks in my honor. You sure know how to make a girl feel special.” Then, she looked at the Banshee’s console as warning lights flashed. A star destroyer was approaching, and it had launched a wing of ARC 170s to intercept them.
They weren’t out of Felucia yet.

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