Episode 7-Secret of the Lair
Adventure 13- The Hunter and the Prey
Part One-Crawling to Varonat
CUTAWAY 1- Darth Vader enters the dim light of the back room of a familiar bar. The underlings clear away and give him the floor in front of Jabba the Hutt. The huge slug draws off his hooka and in Huttese he asks "What does the Emperor's servant want with me?"
"I am looking for a group that did business with you and your father at the end of the war."
Jabba tries to play dumb and says that he does business with so many that it is hard to tell who the Sith Lord is referring to. Vader replies, "I know that that Hutts are immune to aspects of the Force but there are other ways that the Force can be persuasive." With that, Vader raises his left hand and Jabba's tongue is Force pulled upward forcing Jabba's head skyward and he begins to choke.
As his guards, brought to him by the party, close in on Vader, the Dark Lord ignites his saber and, without moving from the spot he is standing on, cuts down four of them with two quick swings. Jabba uses his arms to wave off the remaining guards and his tongue is released.
Jabba coughs and regains his composure. "I recall now the party you are looking for. My father and I had further plans for them but they found a way off of our moon."
"I suggest that we help each other Crime Lord. I am willing to see that the Empire continues to ignore Hutt space in return for some information about how they escaped your grasp and if you help me contact specialists that you Hutts employ."
A smile crosses the Hutt's face. "I would be honored to help you Lord Vader......."
Having defeated the threat of the Vong invasion, the party once again began the trek to make it to a port for repairs and get back to Tanabb. The question of what to tell and do with Capt. Grey and his fellow Troopers loomed large with heroes. Needing as many trained fighters as possible but having concerns over how the clones will react to the news of Order 66 created much discussion among the heroes.
After much debating, Ar'Ryn takes the ideas and thoughts of his fellow crew and pulls Capt. Grey aside to discuss the situation. Keeping in mind the reaction of the Troopers to the complete story of the end of the Clone War, Ar'Ryn is careful with his choice of words. If unpleasant it could cause, at the least, the Troopers to go their separate way, possibly join the Empire and give over all the info on the group. At the worst, open hostility that could spill into a bloodbath battle aboard the Horizon's Edge.
Ar'Ryn tries to get a reading on the current stand of the Captain and his crew and finds that they feel betrayed by the military for being stranded at the outpost with the crazed Dr. Sladder. The Bothan reveals the truth of the end of the war and Captain Grey's reaction is guarded. He thanks Ar'Ryn for telling him the truth and then meets with his fellow fighters, in private, to discuss the situation.
Several hours pass and party does not see the Troopers until they come to eat their next meal. At that time Capt. Grey tells the heroes that they feel they have served the Republic well but feel no obligation to the new Empire. They wish to join the heroes in their fight and been discussing on how to best serve the group.
--Capt. Grey offers the suggestion that he handle the management of the lower chain of command and the members of the party see themselves as the Generals and Admirals of their organization. --Dat will work on procuring equipment and act as Quatermaster. When needed he will coordinate supply runs with the group. --Vatter is willing to fight but would prefer to sty at the base and assist Ret in mechanical repairs. --Nattan Slade considers his sentence served and although he is free, the only family he has is his remaining squad mates so he is going to stay with the group. Plus, he enjoyed gambling with Nix and figures that the Empire would arrest him like they have so many others who run outside the normal channels. --Kirst has been working with Cluade in the lab on finding a solution to the aging problem of the clones. He wants to help by fighting when needed but is really interested in running the med lab at the base so that it is ready when Cluade needs it and to continue his research on the aging problem. --Gunthar Prine is a warrior by nature and sees the Empire as his next fight. He will concentrate on training the volunteers of Kellos in weapon use. --Bent is going to work on gaining fighters and training the volunteers on effective combat training.
This greatly relieves the party and further plans on how they will support the main party was made. However, before they reach the planet Varonat the Nelvannian Tozvos wakes up and asks Nix to stop the ship. In the hold he has set up what looks like a small unlit campfire. As the enite group gathered around, Tozvos sprinkled a blue dust from a small bag in a circle around the wood. He closed his eyes and began to softly chant causing blue flames to leap up around the wood.
Seen within the flames were three figures, one is an ancient looking Nelvannian who is Tozvos's grandfather,another is a white, brown and grey ewok shaman and the last is the Jedi MasterYoda. They all appeared to be focused on meditating in order to create the blue flame gateway. They look up and begin talking to one another and Tozvos. They three wise men appear to look over the group on the Horizon's Edge and have come to an agreement. The image of Yoda then spoke to the group.
He tells them that the threat of the Vong is over and the remaining Nelvannian is to return to his tribe but that the old Nelvannian agreed with Tozvos that he should stay with the group, as that is his destiny. Yoda then tells them that the Troopers are needed to help the Nevannians and that their path will return them to the party later.
After discussion, the Nelvannian and Troopers walked into the blue flames and disappeared. Yoda then called O'dian forward and told the Jedi that he senses that the young Jedi is going to be danger from the Dark Side and to follow his feelings. With that the fire disappeared and the heroes returned to making their way to a suitable port for repairs.
Because of their location on the edge of the galaxy and rotation of the universe they were able to make small jumps and long stretches of flight to get to Varonat which has a couple of small cities where they hoped to get their ships repaired and make it back to the mid-rim. It takes a full month to make the rest of the voyage.
As they approached the jungle and mountain planet they were hailed by the spaceport in Tropis-on-Varonat and given clearance to land. They saw several flights of TIE fighters mixed with end-of-the-war Republic Interceptor fighters patrolling the air space above the cities. The TIEs are not TIE Prototypes but the first official series used by the Empire.
The small city looks as if it had formed around a small space port and communication tower in the center of town. As it grew several more smaller landing areas were developed on the outskirts of the city. It is one of these landing areas that they are directed to land.
They leave the port after paying fees and are directed shop where they can negotiate the repairs needed. It is at this point that Rogan Jax first spotted the party and tailed them.
CUTAWAY 2- The Emperor sits on his throne as a hologram appears before him. It is Inquisitor Hurst and he gets up from his kneeling position to address his leader. "What news have you my young Inquisitor?" sneers the Emperor.
"I have done as you asked. I have located the Jedi known as O'dian and those he travels with."
"His power is growing, I can feel it in the Dark Side. Inquisitor Hurst, remember your orders--he is to be turned to the Dark Side and if he can not be turned then kill him."
"And the small creature that travels with him and can use the Force?"
"Do not waste your time with that abomination. Kill it immediately and the rest that travel with the Jedi."
"As you wish, master. I will report again when the deed is done."
The holo-fed cuts out and the Emperor smiles.
Part Two-Bringing Justice to Pol'hona Hoang
The crew found the only mechanic in town, a dirty, grease covered Nikto named Klatan. After inspecting the three ships he knew that he had the upper hand and agreed to make the repairs for 10,000 credits. They also made arrangements to have upgrades done to improve the combat worthiness of all three craft.
Klatan informed the party that it was fortunate for them that the Empire had been using this location as a stop for supply route to the outlaying regoin for the past year and that apparently there was some trouble with the final destination recently. Because of the unknown situation (the destruction of The Abyss) the Empire has had to sell off a large amount of supplies to the locals including ship parts. There really was no other option, so the party agrees to the repairs and made their way to a cantina, leaving Blue, Tozvos and RZ to guard the ships, to get the first real decent food and drink in over a month.
On the way there they get their first real taste of what an Empire occupied planet is like. There are Stormtroopers walking the streets on patrol and standing sentry on almost every corner of every block. Propaganda posters are posted every where and they over hear beings talking about how many are being force to sign up for service willing or not. Most of the locals keep there heads down and do not gather in groups of three or four. Even though there are several closed market stands, the Empire's presence hasn't slowed down trade too much and it seems that many are in the bars and cantinas drinking away their fears.
The Stormtroopers repeatedly stopped beings on the street to check their IDs. They seemed to harass non-humans quite a bit more than humans. There are Imp Security droids flying everywhere. Everywhere on street the Imperial presence was there and they make sure that it is felt.
Sitting back and enjoying drinks they are approached by Rogan Jax. He has seen the bounties form the past on the heroes but after researching he realized that most of the charges were dropped, that they have seen to make all the right enemies and the reward did not match the charges. When asking for their assistance Bell recognized the name Pol'hona Hoang and told the party that she is a Hapan who was heavily involved in many assassinations and attempts and it is not surprising that she is a cut-throat, backstabbing business woman. Ar'Ryn also recognizes the name, as she dealt with stolen artifacts which she sold on the black market. His former boss, Lacon Gennac, even went so far as to tell Ar'Ryn to steer clear of her when he worked in the Office of Antiquities. Still, Ar'Ryn questioned the motives behind being approached but after a while he accepted that the offer is valid.
After leaving the Hapan regoin Pol'hona Hoang teamed up with the Black Sun Crime Syndicate for their protection. Her normal scam was to deal with hard to get, illegal, or dangerous items and when she found a buyer they arrange an exchange. At the exchange she would show her wares and once the client showed the money her henchmen would kill the client and then they collected both the wares and money. She was currently on Varonat to conduct one such scam involving an unknown illegal item. Rogan offers the items as payment to the party which they quickly accepted.
After catching a quick drink and meal they decided to see if they could pick up the trail on the target. Once outside they spotted her and her thugs. Unfortunately one of the thugs in her group is Rin, the one-armed Feeorin, who recognized Grem them. Recalling that the small creature was the reason for his missing arm the Feeorin opened fire at the group.
The fighting was furious and both Xextuss and Bell took deadly hits. As the rest of the party engaged in the shooting, Cluade went to work to save both of his friends lives. Pol'hona and her crew soon found themselves with their back against the wall. She pulled a device from her waistband which released the locks on the containment unit holding her illegal wares. In a second three huge Bomas busted out and began attacking everything directly in front of them.
Hearing the commotion, the Stormtroopers near-by made their way over as the heroes found themselves fighting both the thugs and the savage creatures. Sensing that this was her chance to escape, Pol'hona and a couple of her thugs attempted to sneak away.
Not wanting to give away his identity, O'dian began firing on the creatures while making a false plea to the Imperials to help "his masters". Nix and Grem closed in, dodging most of the attacks of the Bomas while Ar'Ryn headed back into the cantina to cut off the criminals escape. O'dian quickly followed their route to prevent any attempt to back track.
As the Stormtroopers continued to fire on the hulking beast, Rogan circled around the interior of the building to prevent his prey from slipping by. Soon the scum was pinned down and after a final quick exchanges of shots they met their justice at the end of blasters. Not wanting to answer any questions from Imperials the party, now joined by Rogan made their way back to the ships.
CUTAWAY 3-Darth Vader stands on a platform near the shipping yard on Nar Shadda. In his had is a small holo-projector with the image of the Horizon's Edge rotating in place. Seeing an officer approach he turns it off and places the projector in his belt pocket. Wullf Yularen comes up to him and hands Vader a datapad. "This all the information we have on them."
"Good work Admiral. Has the meeting been arranged?"
"Yes, Commander Sky-Lord Vader, they are ready for you. If I may ask sir, why are you not using our own forces for this situation?"
"I have learned that it is sometimes necessary to use a Womprat to capture a Womprat. The same applies with this situation. I have not had the opportunity to use people of this expertise before although I have come up against my fair share of them. It is always wise to have outside resources to draw on"
"I know you wish not to concern the Emperor with this problem but would he approve of this?"
"That need not concern you, Admiral. Now, take me to the meeting."
"Yes, right away, my Lord."
Vader and the Admiral disappear into the seedier levels of the criminal moon.
Part Three-Bounty Hunter Ambush
The party spent the next twelve days overseeing the repairs. Their ships had to be moved to different landing areas located on the outskirts of the small city to take advantage of the workforce in order to speed up the repairs and the upgrades. Nix, Bell and Blu stay near the Horizon's Edge during the course of the repairs, while and Cluade, Ar'Ryn and Tozvos do the same with the Trask-1 and Odian, Xextuss and Grem oversee the work on the Nexu's Fang.
The party spent this time with Rogan and it is decided that since he is good in fight, believes in their fight and has no ship of his own that he will travel with the group. They start making connections and get more intel on the operations of the Empire. Nix found out that the next leg of the The Wheel Sabbac Tournament is taking place at Cloud City soon and got the chance to play several of the players making their way to the tournament. O'dain was able to obtain several key components for the custom lightsaber he was working on.
With the last of the repairs winding up the party decided to prepare for leaving and went to the market to get supplies. Nix, Xextuss and O'dain are together getting the final arrangements for fuel taken care of while Grem, Ar'Ryn, Cluade, Rogan and RX are busy getting rations and medical supplies for the Trask-1.
O'dian felt a presence in the Force and was compelled to go off on his own. He felt himself being drawn towards where the Nexu's Fang was hangared. That was when he encountered the Dark Jedi face to face for the first time. The Inquisitor was his former friend and padawan Dallen Hurst and with him was his two remaining female Sith Acolytes.
CUTAWAY 4-Vader strides into the small room with a little in it except a few small tables and chairs. The people in the room are all standing so as to have a clear view of the entrances and quick routes to the exits. Several of them are arrayed in various armors and they all have exotic weapons. It is a den of the nastiest Bounty Hunters on Nar Shadda. Vader seems completely at ease in the room full of vicious killers. Without introductions Vader gets to the point.
"As Jabba informed you, I have a special bounty that I do not want going through the normal channels. These are your marks." With that he sets the holo-projector on the table and a 3D image of each of the heroes appears. "They are not overly dangerous prey but do not let that cause you to underestimate them."
The hologram switches from showing the different heroes to that of the Horizon's Edge. "This is their main trasportation, although they might be traveling with other, smaller ships. It is a prototype Corellian designed ship whose abilities are unknown. It is believed that it's appearance might be slightly altered."
A map of the galaxy appears and Vader points to the outer rim. "This area is where they were last encountered. It is believed that their ship would have taken sever damage from traveling close to the mass of black-holes in that region. They must be currently making their way back towards the mid-rim with the only possible place for them to obtain the needed repairs in this sector."
The hologram cuts to different security holo-footage of the party fighting. There is images from the battle on the Wheel and in the Skeen detention facility. "You will travel to the planet Sump in the Varonat System. It should take you no more than ten days to reach it. There you will study these files to learn how to best eliminate the targets." Vader turns off the holo-projector and puts it away. He then sets the data pad on the table.
"Once they make their way to this sector you will be informed of their location at which time you will engage them. I want no prisoners. The bounty is for the death of these traitors. The Empire will compensate you for your time and there will be a substantial reward to those who make the kill on these targets."
The bounty hunters seem well pleased with the situation and one of them speaks up. "What about their ship?"
Vader turns to the killer and says "The ship is mine and the hunter who captures it will be suitably rewarded for their effort. However, if they are aboard it when they are encountered then destroy it along with them." -----------------------------
From high above a shot was taken at the two separate remaining groups. Xextuss's jet pack is hit and began shooting flaming fuel out of the side. Both groups realize that the way they came had been blocked off and that they were indeed in a trap set up by the bounty hunters, who have support from the Stormtroopers. They realized that their only hope for survival was for each group to make their way to closest ship and get off planet as quick as possible.
Standing in front of the Nexu's Fang, and O'dain's only escape off the planet is his old friend and the two corrupted padawans. The Sith Acolytes accused O'dian and his friends of killing their third member of the Alcolytes. As O'dain ties to make them see the truth of what happened and to leave the Dark side he felt the power of the Dark Side trying to lure him into it's tempting grasp. Not listing to reason, the three darksiders attacked. O'dian ignited his lightsaber and began a three against one fight.
Being pinned down in an open side street, Cluade, Grem, Ar'Ryn and Rogan realized that they had to move quickly or they would die. Grem hopped up on the dome of RX and the little droid flew them over to the rooftop from where a pale female bounty hunter was shooting. As they reached her a series of shots hit RX and blew him to pieces, destroying him a second time. Grem went on the offensive and, unleashing his claws, he raked her on each side of her face. The bounty hunter was prepared and pulled out two lightsabers and began slashing at the party's mechanic.
While that took place on the rooftops, Ar'Ryn was hit by several shots as a Whipid bounty hunter closed in. As Rogan fought him off, Cluade once again tended to his comrade's wounds. Stormtroopers closed in on their location and began firing on them. Returning fire, the heroes fought their way out of the side street.
In a different part of town, Xextuss quickly unhooked his jetpack and threw it at an approaching Noghri bounty hunter. Calling to the Horizon's Edge for help, Nix heard Blu being attacked and then the communication cut off. The roguish pilot then spotted an IG-82 bounty hunter droid and a Mandalorian hunter closing in and made a break for a side door, pulling the Gand after him. It was just in time, as the Mando flew down with her jetpack and began filling the area with fire from her flame thrower.
As Stormtroopers attempted to close off their exit, Xextuss repeatedly fired and brought down the enemies blocking their path as Nix attempted to damage the door controls to prevent being followed. Nix threw a grenade blindly around a corner in an attempt to slow down the two bounty hunters on their trail, not being sure if it would work.
O'dian, in the hanger holding the Nexu's Fang, continued to battle the Dark Jedis when Inquisitor Hurst struck the handle of his lightsaber and as a result destroyed it. Being hit with Sith lighting and other Force powers, O'dian returned with several Force powers of his own, knocking out one of the Sith flunkies and containing Hurst in a Force whirlwind.
As that happened Cluade and Ar'Ryn fought their way through the interior of buildings towards the hangar as Rogan killed a Stormtrooper on a repulsor sled and used it against the remaining troopers, helping to turn the tide of the deadly street fight. The pale female bounty hunter fled the roof but Grem was determined not to let her get away. As Rogan pinned down her location, Grem closed in to finish the job.
Realizing that they were dead if they didn't throw off their pursuit, Nix grabbed the helmet of a trooper taken down by Xextuss and used it to pull off a clever ruse. Relying on the shader skills he gained during his years as a pirate, Nix used the communicator in the helmet to deceive the Stormtroopers into believing that the bounty hunters had turned on the Imperials and ordered the Stormtroopers to attack the bounty hunters. The tricked worked and the Stormtroopers, at both their location and at the section Cluade's party was fighting, began opening fire on the bounty hunter scum.
O'dian, having gotten the upper hand in his fight, took down the remaining Sith Acolyte and knocked out Dallen Hurst. Using a pair of binders from the Acolyte, he quickly bound Hurst up. Using the Force he removed the spare emergency kits behind the pilot seat of the Nexu's Fang and stuffed his old friend in the cramped space and got behind the controls of the craft and prepared to take off.
With the bounty hunters occupied, Xextuss and Nix made it to the hanger holding the Horizon's Edge and found a dying Blu laying on the ground. He had been shot several times and was unconscious. They quickly dragged him into the medical bay, wishing that Cluade and his amazing powers were there to help save the young Rodian. Fortunately the medical droid, who had been working closely with Cluade for the past several months, was able to stand in for his master and with Nix's help they were able to stabilize his young side-kick. Running to the cockpit, Bell had prepped the ship, and they blasted out of the hanger.
Cluade, Grem, Ar'Ryn, and Rogan ran up the entry ramp of the Trask-1 which was prepared for flight by Tozvos and lifted off. Swinging by the area where they were ambushed they saw the body of the pale bounty hunter transform and revealed her true nature--that of a Clawdite impostor. Using the magnetic clamp on the bottom of the ship they retrieved the pieces of Ar'Ryn's destroyed droid and headed to the sky.
Groups of TIE fighters patrolling the area closed in on each of the ships in an attempt to finish eliminating the heroes. As each ship prepared for a fight in the sky, they made a quick communication letting each other know that they had made it to the relative safety of the ships. They quickly decided to head in different directions in an attempt to deal with their pursuing TIE fighters, throw any other hunters off their trail and to meet again at a latter time and in a different place.
CUTAWAY 5-The Emperor is walking down the hall from his office on Corusant with Governor Tarkin. "The loss of the the facility on Anoth is a minor set back compared to the loss of my friend, Dr. Sladder. The research he was conducting on the crystals there was of vital importance to our project Govenor Tarkin."
"We have other facilities my lord and, with the information that he provided, we are several years ahead of our development of the primary weapon."
"This is true. Still, I am sending out a team to search the area for any sign of Dr. Sladder and any remains of his research. Return now to overseeing the project." "Yes my Emporer."
As Tarkin leaves another the Emperor pushes a button on his chair and a hologram of Clone Commander appears.
A grating, raspy, electronic voice says "Commander Dust, reporting for duty, my Emperor."
"Very good. I see that they have made further improvements to you. You are almost perfected to the vision I had when I first took over your training on Kamino. Soon, your transformation will be complete. Until that time I have a new mission for you and I have a "special" squad for you lead that will help you complete your objective."
"Once the squads are trained, you are to lead an assault on a planet that you are very familiar with. The leaders of this world believe that they have driven the Empire from their planet. You are to show them that nothing can stop the will of the Emperor. Level the cities and towns. Kill all who attempt to stop you. Leave the planet a burt corpse to show other worlds that defiance of the Emperor is a death sentence. Report to Imperial Moff ClestTempse and destroy what you will of the planet Tanabb, Commander Dust."
"My pleasure, my Emperor."
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