Star Wars: Flying Casual

Rescuing Mom

Without their regular equipment, the crew all agreed that they wouldn't stand much of a chance rescuing Shakka’teksa’s mother. So they made their way back the way they'd come, back to the Thundercats garage beneath the stadium. A veritable revolution raged outside. Once the media discovered that Inquisitor Lord Saul arrived on planet to arrest the "rogue Jedi" that had infiltrated the race, the fans went wild with outrage. Taris had always been loyal to the Imperium, but this intrusion was too much. Nobody interferes with the Tarisian Season Opener like this!

With the roar of stampeding fans, blasterfire and explosions echoing in from outside, the crew rearmed themselves and said good-bye to Ruffilius, who himself chose to lock up and hide in here. Charlemagne suggested finding a back entrance to Je Vas's offices, rather than going in through the front, which would likely involve battling past hundreds of stormtroopers and rioters. Between himself and Shakka, they sliced the computer system and found a map of the stadium.

Captain Ryku, Tyron, Shakka'teksa, Charl, and Neo entered through a service entrance, which led them into a warehouse type room littered with crates and boxes and barrels. They passed by a large window at the same time as a patrol of four stormtroopers on the other side. The troopers ordered them to halt. One poised a heavy repeating blaster at them while the other three went around to question these interlopers. Tyron opened fire on him, shattering the glass while his companions dove for cover. Neo bolted for the door and ignited his red lightsaber, welding the door shut. The three stormtroopers turned back to the window, and soon blaster bolts came at the crew members thick and fast.

From where he was, Neo glanced into the other room. He saw what appeared to be the beast pen, except most of the cages had been opened. All manner of terrible creatures feasted upon their handlers. The room stank of blood and animal musk.

Rather than remain in a shootout with the stormtroopers, and probably with more stormtroopers arriving soon, the crew turned their fire toward the door separating the stormtroopers' position from the beast pen room. After only a few devastating shots, the door was wrecked. A huge wolf burst out through the opening and bit a stormtrooper in half. The others turned and shot at the beast as a second one leaped through the door at them. Using this distraction to their advantage, the crew escaped through another door.

With a shove of the Force Neo pushed through the next two locked doors, which ultimately led the crew to the slaves dormitory. Here at last Shakka’teksa was reunited with her mom, Wampihi.

An explosion shook the whole stadium. Little chunks of mortar crumbled from the ceiling, and the crew knew they had to get out of here. But they couldn't leave these slaves here to die. And with the potential threat of Je Vas detonating the slave collars, Shakka’teksa knew they had to find him. Wampihi said she saw him flee up a turbo-lift to the landing zone upstairs.

The noise of the battle rose to a crescendo when the crew members stepped out of the turbo-lift and onto the tarmac of the stadium's rooftop. Here they saw stormtroopers and revolutionaries fighting it out below, while TIE-fighters screamed overhead. Further up, the faint outline of a star destroyer could be seen above the clouds. A row of various types of starships stretched out ahead of them. One of them lifted off, and Shakka’teksa spotted Je Vas in the cockpit.

The Embar showed up, a welcome sight, piloted by 4Q2. The droid opened the hatch so a few of the slaves could board, but then two TIE-fighters swooped in, laser cannons slamming into the Embar's shields. 4Q2 pulled away, the TIE-fighters in hot pursuit.

Charl and Tyron discussed which starship they should take, and eventually agreed to take two ships. Then Ryku, Neo, and Shakka’teksa argued over who would ride with whom. Charl finally just picked an Imperial Customs Frigate and boarded it.

Neo felt a disturbance in the Force. He lifted his lightsaber with an audible hummmmm…

Suddenly, Inquisitor Lord Saul and four stormtroopers stepped out of a turbo-lift to engage them. Out here with little to no cover, the crew would certainly have been doomed. But Charl punched the accelerator on his ship and barreled into the squad of stormtroopers like ten-pins, killing all of them in one swift blow. Lord Saul commanded the Force to halt Charl's frigate in mid-air. As the engines blasted away at full power, the Inquisitor held the ship firmly in place. Tyron and Ryku shot at their Dark Side foe, but he deflected their shots with his lightsaber while continuing to concentrate on holding Charl's ship. Then Neo unleashed a crackling lightning bolt that slammed into Lord Saul. Charl used these distractions to veer his ship aside and break away, zooming out of range.

Furious, Lord Saul turned his attention on Neo. Both red lightsabers blazed and crackled as the two dueled each other in a final confrontation. They pressed against each other's strength, but neither of them gave in. Neo suddenly crouched down, causing Saul to push hard against the air and stumble forward, while Neo slashed at his legs. Saul jumped back, thrusting the point of his lightsaber at Neo's back. Neo rolled away, narrowly avoiding the smoldering red blade, and they stood regarding each other silently for a moment. Then Neo raised his offhand, and lightning flashed from his fingertips, striking a mighty blow against the Inquisitor Lord, who responded with a thunderclap that nearly blew Neo off the rootop. Skillful lightsaber blows were exchanged before Tyron finally landed a solid shot with his rifle, taking Saul down at last.

Charl hovered low enough for Captain Ryku to get in. Shakka’teksa made for one of the Light Patrol Ships and jumped into a turret. Tyron came right after, buckling himself into the pilot seat. Neo grabbed some of Lord Saul's gear, then leaped onto Tyron's ship as it took off and closed the hatch.

A fantastic starship battle commenced. Tyron opened fire with his twin laser cannons and was rewarded with a flash that meant an enemy TIE-fighter had taken a solid hit. Charl and Ryku maneuvered their frigate into dogfighting position, locking on to another TIE-fighter and blasting away. Tyron corkscrewed around a couple other TIE-fighters, bringing his patrol ship right up on Je Vas's fleeing vessel. Neo used the Force to charm the slavemaster into powering down all of the slave collars and then tossing the remote out the window. Then Neo got him to fire his laser cannons at some of the TIE-fighters, providing enough of a distraction for the crew's two ships to make a getaway.

As he pulled out of the dogfight, however, Charl's frigate took a critical hit that blew out his stabilizers and sublight drives. He managed to crash-land into a skyscraper, smashing through dozens of offices and boardrooms and scattering screaming civilians.

Tyron pulled his ship around to pick Charl and the captain up. Then they joined the Embar in flying up to the orbiting Kraken. Charl punched the hyperdrive and they all left Taris far behind them.

Tarisian Season Opener

Following Faela’s directions, the crew returned to the Lower City. They planned to infiltrate the Solway Autograss Club in an effort to get closer to Je Vas and rescue Shakka'teksa's mother. As they neared the stadium, the streets got more and more full of people. Soon the streets were absolutely packed. The crew heard that there was to be a big race tonight and everyone wanted in. It looked like they’d be waiting in line for hours.

Suddenly, a landshark broke free of its cage and attacked the crowd! The beast was on its way to the stadium for another aspect of the Tarisian Season Opener: swoop racing with alien beasts loose on the track.

After their tussle with the landshark, the crew came to the attention of both the Crashracket and the Thundercats gangs. A Cathar named Rufillius immediately tried to recruit the crew for Thundercats. He was desperate for someone to replace his fallen wrecker team. He offered a share of the winnings as well as front row seats for the remainder of the event. This was just the in the crew was looking for, so they agreed to join him.

Rufillius led the crew to the front of the line, where he got security to let them inside. The tightly packed streets gave way to open space, and the grand stadium known as the Solway Autograss Club loomed into view. Rufillius led them past vendors and fans and wreckers to his garage. In truth, he admitted, he had another motive for recruiting new gang members. His business was about to go under. He bet all of his gang’s money on the banger race that killed his previous team. Now, if he didn't pay the Czerka Corporation soon, he'd be a dead and bankrupt Cathar.

And right on cue, some thugs sent by Czerka Corporation burst into the garage demanding the money owed them. Shakka'teksa talked them down, convincing them that the Thundercats would pay up after winning.

The next morning, the new members of the Thundercats loaded into their banger racers and took to the stadium. Amid the roar of cheering fans, the bright lights of cameras broadcasting all over the galaxy, and the smoking, revving engines of the other vehicles, the crew showed everyone a flawless victory over the Crashracket gang. Media outlets showered them with praise and publicity. They were even offered a meeting with Je Vas himself to congratulate them.

However, the crew soon learned that they'd fallen into an elaborate ruse. As soon as Inquisitor Lord Saul recognized Neo on the televids, he sent a batallion of stormtroopers to Tarsis to capture the Force Adept. Je Vas was quick to sell out the Thundercats, locking the crew in his office and releasing debilitating gas into the room. He didn't take the crew's tenacity into account, though. They broke free of the room and overcame the pair of stormtroopers in the hallway. Thus armed with blasters, they made their way toward the slave pens… and Shakka'teksa's mother.

Mean Streets of Taris

With their new ship loaded with treasure, Captain Ryku and the others offered to help Shakka'teksa rescue her mother from a Del Kor slaver on the planet Taris.

After landing on the ecumenopolis without incident, the crew met with a collector of antiques and curiosities named Kaelys Tela, a young but homely-looking human woman, to liquidate their treasure into credits. Captain Ryku flattered her to get a better price on their wares.

Kaelys explained that last night a group of thugs broke into her shop and stole an object from her collection. She offered to reward the crew for its return, or even introduce them to someone important in the Upper City, since she has contacts there. The item in question was a curiosity of trivial value: a piece of a white marble statue — specifically, a delicate hand recovered from the ruins of the Lower City. The thieves ignored dozens of items of considerable value, and left as soon as they’d acquired the hand. But they did leave something behind.

Kaelys revealed a dead body, his skin covered with dirty, black exhaust, grease, and scabs. One of the thieves, he was killed by one of her security droids and left behind by his fellows. Given all of this evidence, and the bangar keys in his pocket, it was obvious that he was a wrecker from the Lower City. Shakka'teksa's investigation of the body revealed that his clothes were once a silk courtier’s outfit, but now stained and faded beyond repair. The man had horrible hygiene and rotting teeth. A tattoo on his forearm looked like an engine block with a lightning bolt in the middle. Tyron identified this as the Crashracket Gang.

Captain Ryku agreed to take the case if Kaelys sold him and his crew some artifacts at a huge discount. Kaelys suggested they seek out a priestess named Faela who lived in the Church of the Force — an underground (literally) faith composed of loosely-affiliated worshipers of the Force — in the Undercity. Members of the faith believe that the Jedi Order must return in order to restore balance in the Force, and that the light of the Jedi will one day rescue the galaxy in this time of darkness. This intruiged Neo, who decided to investigate that lead with Tyron and Shakka.

Meanwhile, Ryku and Charl headed to the Upper City looking for banger racers. They met a landspeeder salesman named Bill who laughed too hard at all of their jokes and eventually sold them a pair of Aratech banger cars and armored jackets at a huge discount. Bill mentioned that the Kel Dor they were looking for would probably be at the Tarisian Season Opener, an event so wildly popular that it'll be broadcast across the entire galaxy.

Down in the Undercity, the other three crew members got mugged by a trio of mutants before they finally made it to the Church of the Force. Its interior was dark and seemingly abandoned. Then a Twi’lek wearing plain brown clothes stepped out from the shadows. A tiny crystal glittered on a chain around her throat. Though young and alone, she radiated an aura of peace and comfort. This was Faela, a kind and compassionate woman who confirmed the Crashracket Gang symbol described from the dead thief's arm. She explained that before she found the Force, she was once married to a wrecker named Junius. Right before she left him, Junius accepted employment under a Kel Dor called Je Vas, who had countless slaves working in his chop shops. She knew where Je Vas worked, the Solway Autograss Club, and was more than happy to point the way. She only asked that the crew do what they could to free the slaves under the Kel Dor’s rule. Faela offered to heal their wounds and let them rest here for a while.

After a couple hours, Tyron, Neo, and Shakka met back up with Ryku and Charl at Kaelys's shop.


The Fall of a Chieftan

The cargo pods scattered around the lagoon were all empty. The treasure was gone. There never was such an overturn in this world. Each of the thirty revolutionaries acted as though he’d been struck. But with Captain Ardeth Misk the blow passed almost instantly. Every thought of his soul had been set full-stretch on that money; he needed it to continue the revolution against the Empire. He kept his head, found his temper, and changed his plan before the others had time to realize the disappointment.

“Ryku, old friend,” he whispers, “take that, and stand by for trouble.” And he passes the captain a double-barrelled shotgun. At the same time, Misk quietly moved in the direction of the beach, and in a few steps put cover between himself and the rest of his crew.

The crew of the Kraken, with oaths and cries, began to leap, one after another, into the water. One revolutionary named Morgan found a piece of gold. He held it up with a perfect spout of oaths. It was a Velmar trade coin, and it passed from hand to hand among them for a couple rounds.

“One Velmar trade coin!” roared a Gungan named Merkak, shaking it at Misk. “That’s your royal treasury, is it? You’re the man for bargains, ain’t you? You’re him that never bungled nothing, you wooden-headed go tsao de!”

“Swim away, boys,” said Misk, lighting a cigar with the coolest insolence; “you’ll find more coins and gems and I shouldn’t wonder.”

“Coins and gems!” repeated Merkak in a scream. “Mates, do you hear that? I tell you now, that man there knew it all along. Look in the face of him and you’ll see it wrote there.”

Everyone was entirely in Merkak’s favour. They began to scramble out of the water, darting furious glances around them.

At last Merkak seemed to think a speech might help matters. “Mates,” said he, drawing his blaster and vibroblade, “there’s only eight of them there; one’s the old has-been that brought us all here and blundered us down to this; the other’s that marshal that I mean to have the heart of. Now, mates—”

The Gungan raised his arm and his voice, and plainly meant to lead a charge. But just then — crack! crack! crack! — three blaster-shots flashed out of the thicket. Merkak tumbled backward into the shallows; another revolutionary spun round and fell all his length upon his side, where he laid dead but still twitching.

Ardeth Misk drew a brace of pistols and gave the struggling Merkak both barrels. At the same moment, the miner Zaz Kamiroz and Kathos Loof the foreman of the Alderaan mining outpost joined the fight, with smoking blasters, from among the trees.

Tyron Corso hurled a grenade into the thick of the revolutionaries, causing more chaos. While everyone leaped into cover, Captain Ryku used his shotgun to jury-rig one of the cargo barrels to explode. Then he kicked it into their foes, diving behind a boulder himself. 4Q2 pulled a blaster out of his secret leg compartment and went to town killing Humans as his maniacal laughter filled the air.

As explosions and blasterfire lit up the area, Shakka'teksa cried, "Retreat! There are too many of them!" And the crew set off at a great pace, plunging through the bushes to the Embar. Misk ran to keep up with them.

Exhausted and injured as they were, the crew managed to make it to the beach where the Embar and a shuttlecraft from the Kraken awaited — as well as four more revolutionaries. Charl and Neo sprinted into the ship, the pilot to the cockpit and the Force adept to the turret, providing covering fire while his companions caught up. After everyone was inside, Charl got the Embar airborne and maneuvered the craft sideways so Tyron on the other turret could fire at the shuttle as it, too, took off.

Then a host of angry revolutionaries burst out from the trees, shouting and shooting. Ryku ordered the missile launcher be armed. 4Q2 volunteered to be the one to fire it, turning their pursuers into a giant smoking crater.

Captain Ryku ordered Charl to set down on a high cliff somewhere so they could take a moment to assess the situation. He offered his old friend free reign of the kitchen while he addressed his crew. Once Misk had left, he then related in a few words what had taken place in his absence. Jedidiah, in his long, lonely wanderings about the island, had found the cargo pods — it was he that had rifled them; he had found the treasure; he had brought it up; he had carried it on his back, in many weary journeys, from the shores of the lagoon to a cave he had on the two-pointed hill at the north-east angle of the island, and there it had lain stored in safety since two months before the arrival of the Embar. When the captain had wormed this secret from him on the afternoon of the attack, and when that same day he was captured by Misk , given him the coordinates, which were now useless.

"Ah," said Misk, returning with a steaming mug of coffee, "it were fortunate for me that I had Ryku here. You would have let old Ardeth be cut to bits by me own crew, and never given it a thought, old friend."

Shakka'teksa distracted Ardeth Misk in her quarters while the rest of the crew went out to Jedidiah's cave to retrieve the royal treasure. And indeed, what a haul it was! Tankards, scepters, gems, jewelry, trade bars and coins, and even a Jedi holocron!

After all the loot had been stowed safely away in the Embar's cargo holds, Captain Ryku asked Misk to join him in the mess hall for a drink, whence he got his old friend verily drunk. They hailed the Kraken, which was still in orbit around Tantajoc V, and were given permission to dock. Misk was concerned that the remainder of his crew might become just as mutinous as those down on the planet after they learned that there was no treasure. Ryku offered him a plan. They told the crew of the Kraken that most of the treasure yet remained behind on the planet and they should all pile into a shuttle to go down and retrieve it. With a resounding huzzah! the revolutionaries did just that. Ryku then told Misk that he should go down and make sure to set his crew off in a direction that'll get them lost, then to return to the Kraken.

As soon as the shuttle left the bubble shield, Tyron climbed into one of the Kraken's turrets and fired a turbo double laser cannon at it, blasting the shuttle to smithereens.

The Prince of the Planet

The Raen Sovra tunnel yawned into darkness, where the rags of great webs blew and swayed in the stifling hot airs. It was ominously quiet and dark in there. While everyone else got out their glowrods, Neo illuminated the way with his red lightsaber. The crew of the Embar continued into the cave. They heard a lot of faraway skittering, and even more dreadful sounds in the heavy silence: gurgling, bubbling noises, and long venomous hisses.

The cavern system was a maze. The crew turned down a narrow path, and suddenly five Sovra ambushed them from above! It was a desperate struggle in the gloom, but our intrepid crew worked together as a team and came out victorious. Shakka'teksa was badly injured during the fight, but Doctor Doyaahb took care of her. "I'm afraid the Twi'lek lost a lot of juice," he said. "You may feel a slight sawing."

Pushing onward, they found a large cavern full of Sovra eggs, as well as four more of the electrocution spiders guarding the nest.

Once they had cleared this room, killing all the spiders and smashing the eggs, the crew settled down to catch their breath for an hour. Doctor Doyaahb expressed his appreciation for being allowed to come along on this adventure.

Toward the end of their rest they heard blasterfire back the way they'd come. Knowing that this planet had no advanced civilizations, they all assumed this had to be either the captain, 4Q2, or some offworlders. They readied their weapons just in case. And sure enough, rounding the corner in the cave appeared a ragtag group of spacers. They looked aggressive… and awfully familiar. Shakka'teksa recognized them as the same pirates who burst into Galaxy Seven at StarForge Station, demanding Willy Boom's holoprojector coin. This time the pirates demanded the treasure. Neo expressed his amusement that they dared mess with he and his crew again. Tyron pulled out a couple grenades and combat started.

The close combat battle was fierce enough, and then more Raen Sovra showed up, attracted to all the energy in the area. Our intrepid crew finally dispatched the pirates. Shakka was webbed and almost dragged away by the spiders, but Doctor Doyaahb and Charl came to her rescue. Tyron and Neo pursued the one pirate who retreated back into the tunnels, eventually shooting him down.

Exploring the caverns further, they discovered another larger egg nest and a huge Raen Sovra spider queen! Her webs and bites were nasty. After the crew lit her up with their blasters, Tyron finished her off with his vibroblade. Then they spotted a pair of cocooned figures lying in the back of the room. Tyron ripped the webbing open to reveal a bug-eyed humanoid and a female pirate who'd been captured earlier by the spiders. Neo immediately suggested killing the pirate, but the others disagreed. The pirate begged for her life, saying her name was Viera and she promised to serve them as a janitor or servant or anything they wanted if they let her live. She admitted that she's part of Ardeth Misk's crew of revolutionaries who wanted the treasure here to help fund their continued fight against the Empire. Tyron thought he recognized that name, Misk, and so he convinced the others to bring Viera back to the captain for more questioning.

Meanwhile, nobody could understand what the other freed prisoner was saying. Viera didn't know him, so he wasn't part of Misk's crew. Shakka used gestures and her high charisma to communicate with him, learning that he's some sort of royalty and his ship crashed here. He asked where his companion was but nobody knew the answer to that one. Neo wondered if this guy might be the exiled Prince Denid from Velmar. If that was the case, then perhaps this alien knew where the royal treasure was! And indeed he did! Denid showed the crew a tunnel leading to the surface, to the top of the cliff where his ruined ship lay. He explained with gestures that his ship's pieces had scattered all over this area when it crashed. The cargo pods ended up in a lagoon nearby.

Shakka radioed 4Q2 to bring the ship around to help pick up the treasure, but the droid confessed that "we're boned." He and the captain had been captured by Ardeth Misk's crew. He said that Misk's ship was much bigger than the Embar, and the crew much wealthier. Neo asked how many members Misk had left. 4Q2 responded that it was around thirty. Then the transmission ended.

Neo declared that they should go get the treasure before Misk does. Prince Denid led them to the lagoon. But the cargo pods were underwater. Doctor Doyaahb excitedly volunteered to go down and check it out. Charl knew of of an indigenous plant that he could turn into a smoothie, which would confer the ability to breathe underwater. After a little bit of time, everyone drank Charl's concoction and then dove into the lagoon to search for the treasure. They were gone a long time. They finally found the cargo pods, but they were all empty. Prince Denid was baffled. The treasure was gone!

When they swam back to the surface, a demoralizing surprise awaited them. Ardeth Misk and the rest of his crew, about thirty bad-tempered revolutionaries, stood there waiting for them. Captain Ryku and 4Q2 were both here, too, as hostages.

"Well, here it is," said Misk with a smug grin. "We want that treasure, and we'll have it! If you value the lives of your captain and your droid, I reckon they're yours. But we'll take the treasure, thank you."

4Q2 stabbed a metal finger at his crewmates. "I blame all of you for this!"

Tantajoc V

Once they learned that Willy Boom’s coin was actually a holographic projector, showing a star map that led to the location of a vast wealth of treasure on Tantajoc V, the crew of the Embar set a course for the Halori Sector. Charl the pilot knew that Tantajoc V had a breathable atmosphere, a tropical climate, a bright sun, and slightly less gravity than the galactic standard.

When they arrived in the Halori Sector, comm picked up another starship’s emergency beacon for a short amount of time. Before 4Q2 could narrow down an exact location, the beacon went silent. With a bit more dabbling on the computer, the droid discovered that the distress beacon went silent because the ship it came from got sucked into a black hole!

As this was a relatively new black hole in the sector, it had only just begun pulling the nearby Ubuuga Cloud into itself, giving it a faint glow that would otherwise have make the black hole invisible. Thanks to Charl's expert piloting skills, the Embar managed to break away from the black hole’s gravitational grip, using the sublight drives to take them to Tantajoc V. But now they raced against time. In two days, the black hole would tear gas from the outer gas giant planets in the  Tantajo system. This would cause a noticeable accretion disk, a region of super-heated dust and gas, that would form around the black hole. Then the terrifying power of the black hole would be all too visible from Tantajoc V. In another three days, the intense gravitational pull of the black hole would tear the tropical planet asunder, causing devastating earthquakes and supervolcanoes. So the crew had less than five days to find this treasure.

As the planet looked to be packed with dense vegetation and jagged cliffs, and sensors didn't pick up any signs of civilizations, the only safe place to land the ship was on the beach. When the hatch opened, hot humid air blasted the crew's faces. The  thick, menacing woods  and  wild  stone  spires, and the surf that the crew could both see and hear foaming and thundering on the steep beach, the sun shining bright and hot, and the shore birds fishing and crying all around, hinted at the alien and deadly environment. Doctor Doyaahb begged to come along. Captain Ryku allowed it, as this would be the Mon Calamaari's first away mission. 4Q2 complained that the planet was a deathworld and he'd be happy to stay behind and be in charge of "not dying." The captain told him to stay and guard the ship.

From their landing zone on the beach, the crew made their way through the jungle to the general area designated by the coin. They crossed a marshy tract full of odd, outlandish, swampy  trees; and ventured between two craggy peaks shining vividly in the sun. The uncomfortable heat and humidity, and all the bugs, proved to be more than a minor nuisance. Eventually they reached a long ravine between the piers and columns of torn and weathered rock; a shallow stream bubbled along before them. Three large birds that Charl identified as Croator were busy catching fish by the water. When the crew approached, however, the territorial birds attacked!

While combating the Croator, half a dozen arachnid-type creatures scuttled down along the cliff face to engage the crew as well. Captain Ryku identified these new foes as Raen Sovra, also known as "electrocution spiders." At the sight of the Sovra, the Croator turned and fled. The crew dispatched the spiders and then finished off the retreating birds. Ryku shook his head as he examined the dead spiders. The spread of the Sovra through the galaxy has been likened to that of a disease. They are attracted to any starships that land on the planet and often enter these ships, looking for energy on which to feed. In many cases, Sovra remain undetected on these ships when they leave the planet. Although some ships are destroyed in hyperspace when the Sovra consume more energy than the ship can spare, many of the ships are able to reach their destinations. The Sovra then, feeding on the massive amounts of electricity generated in a starport, breed, multiply and infect other ships.

Neo noticed movement up on the cliff, and spied a cave about fifty feet up. Ryku explained that since the Sovra are attracted to metal and electricity, it would only stand to reason that the lost Velmar starship (and its treasure) must be close. Tyron, the best climber in the party, took a length of synthrope and made his way up the cliff. Once he'd hauled himself into the cave, he lowered the rope so the others could follow.

 Just as he was about to start climbing, Captain Ryku received a call from 4Q2 requesting his presence back on the ship. The captain headed back there immediately. On the way, a vaguely humanoid insect creature leaped with great speed behind the trunk of a tree. Ryku skidded to a halt and drew his pistol, but the figure had disappeared. He looked behind him over his shoulder, then continued to retrace his steps in the direction of the Embar. Suddenly the figure reappeared, and making a wide circuit, began to head him off. Now Ryku could make out more details: muscular bipedal limbs, compound bug-eyes, and two antennae. Ryku aimed his weapon at the stranger, who then threw himself on his knees and held out his hands in surrender. The bug-man explained frantically that his name was Jedidiah, a Velmoc and servant of Prince Denid, exiled heir to the throne of Velmar. The starship that brought them here contained a large portion of Velmar's royal treasury.

A sudden BOOM! in the direction of the Embar interrupted their conversation. Jedidiah bolted into the trees, gone once more. Ryku continued on his way, though now he was running at full speed toward the beach.

StarForge Station

After their adventures in the Alderaan Graveyard, the crew of the Embar headed to a remote criminal outpost to rest and recuperate and to upgrade their gear — StarForge Station.

Deep in the heart of Ado Sector’s StarForge Nebula is StarForge Station, a thorn in the side of the Empire. StarForge Station was originally one of thousands of small planetoids tumbling through the ancient nebula, slowing orbiting a gravity point and destined to one day become a star. The fringes of the nebula have been used as a hiding zone by pirates and smugglers for years. Today, the station boasts facilities for medium freighters and small capital ships, dozens of warehouses, repair bays, cyberdocs, arms dealers, restaurants, a casino, permanent living quarters, and the pride of the station: StarForge Shipyard, run by the notorious Chidee Na Maak.

The Station is known by the Empire to exist, but remains for two reasons. The first reason is because most of the Imperial Moff’s assets are tied up in engaging Alliance forces in this sector. Secondly, the StarForge Nebula is a vast, sensor-muddling, comm-jamming cloud of seething matter; navigating it is difficult, and finding the Station even more so since it moves around.

Doctor Doyaahb explained that he has a gambling problem, so it would be best if he stayed on the ship. 4Q2, however, had no such qualms about exploring this hive of scum and villainy.

While the rest of the crew kicked back at a StarForge cantina named Galaxy Seven, they found a couple different jobs. One unscrupulous merchant offered to pay 10,000 credits for Captain Ryku to haul 50 tons of maranium ore to his contact on the Inner Rim planet Barlok. The second job was offered by a pair of Jawas who wished to book passage back to Tatooine in the Outer Rim; they were willing to pay 8,000 credits. The crew talked it over, arguing over which of the two jobs to accept.

Suddenly, a dying pilot burst into the cantina. He asked around desperately for anyone who knew the crew of the Embar. He claimed to be Willy Boom, an old friend of Tyron Corso and one of the few remaining Churhee’s Riflemen. When Tyron finally revealed himself, Willy, pushed a large gold coin into the mercenary’s hand and told him to "beware the droid." Neo attempted first aid on Willy but the pilot's wounds were too severe.

A gang of well-equipped pirates sauntered into the cantina, brandishing guns and demanding that Willy Boom turn himself in. Willy said that he’d hold them off while the crew escaped, but Tyron and the others refused to allow it. They shoved Willy under the table and tried to play it cool. Meanwhile, the pirates bullied and intimidated the cantina patrons. Captain Ryku addressed them defiantly, asking what they were after. The pirates admitted that they were only here to retrieve the coin. A firefight ensued.

Ryku, Tyron, Charl, Shakka'teksa, and Neo easily defeated the pirates. Only one pirate had actually been killed, however — the rest of them retreated outside. During the battle, Willy succumbed to his wounds and died.

Eager to sell off their loot from the Royal Palace, the crew headed over to an "art dealer" named Slai Fon, a Rodian merchant of ill repute. Through him, the crew learned that Tyron’s coin was actually an encoded holographic projector. He offered to activate it for a price, but Shakka did it herself. The coin showed a star map that showed the way to a vast wealth of treasure on Tantajoc V, an uninhabited jungle planet in the Mid Rim. Shakka noted that the coin could also be inserted into a ship’s navcomputer. Slai Fon offered to buy the coin from the crew for 50,000 credits but they refused.

Next the crew went shopping for better armor. The only place anyone pointed them to was an arms dealer named "Prince" Moosa Shamsher. Tyron heard about this guy. Shamsher’s business dealt in galactic weaponry, including landspeeders, walkers, and all manner of personal weapons and armor. Almost as renowned as Shamsher’s arms dealings was his love of excess: he was rumored to own a fleet of a hundred sail barges and skiffs that included Gefferon Pleasure Craft models and he wore Jorallan-opal-encrusted shoes valued at 2 million credits. Moosa’s establishment was well guarded. He certainly had the money to throw around, so he payed for only the best security. His stock included all common and uncommon personal equipment; additionally, he could special order anything more rare than that. After equipping themselves with better gear, the crew finally headed over to the Shipyard.

4Q2 wandered around StarForge Station drinking a bottle of Muon Gold like a tourist. He found a vending machine that sold cheap musical instruments. It was then the droid remembered his lifelong dream of being in a band. While using his computer skills to slice the machine, a pair of security thugs caught him. They chased him for a few blocks but eventually lost him in the crowd.

The Shipyard was recently established by a Duros named Chidee Na Maak, a starshipwright with years of experience constructing knockoff ships and translating client’s original "designs" into working starships. When the crew arrived, they noticed that Chidee's three spacedocks were constantly busy, and after talking with him they learned that there was an average three-month-wait-list. However, Chidee turned out to be one of Ryku's biggest fans. He heard about the former marshall's reputation on Gibad, and the scandalous rumors of the virus that wiped out a colony there. The Empire blamed Ryku for it, but Chidee said he didn't believe Imperial propaganda. Even though his waiting list was months long, Chidee offered to bump Ryku to the front of the line. The crew pooled their money together and purchased an Arakyd Morne-3 Concussion Missile Launcher and a couple dummy missiles.

Confident that they had everything they needed for now, the crew decided they would use Willy's coin to find the treasure on Tantajoc V.

The Royal Palace

With the only exit they knew of blocked by a small army of stormtroopers, Captain Ryku and his crew entered the Royal Palace of Alderaan, searching for both the secret they came to uncover and another way out of here.

Passing through the huge palace doorway, the crew entered a vast hall displaying a number of statues, holo-art, sculptures, and other objects dedicated to the creative spirit of Alderaan. The next door they opened revealed a deadly Seugathi feasting upon the body of a dead miner. As everyone pulled out their weapons to fight the creature, Tyron slammed the door shut and Neo used his lightsaber as a welder to further secure the door.

Continuing their exploration of the palace, the crew discovered many ruined offices and even a library, but they didn't find much of value still intact here. Eventually they did find a secret room that contained a suit of Massassi Ceremonial Armor, which the captain claimed for himself. They found a droid bay, which Shakka'teksa thoroughly looted.

Once they reached the grand hall, with its double rows of giant columns and an archway spanning a deep chasm, the crew was surprised to meet somebody else here: the Inquisitor Lord Renn Saul.

Saul's lightsaber burned bright red as he taunted Neo, claiming that he was here to finish what Lord Vader should have finished years ago. He challenged Neo to a duel, but Neo refused.

Suddenly, blasterfire lit up the hall! As Ryku, Tyron, Charl, Shakka, and Neo dove for cover, another crew of spacers showed up. These guys had followed the Embar here and were determined to loot the palace themselves. Their captain, Belinda Vog, shouted for the competition to leave now. A deadly firefight ensued, during which Inquisitor Saul used his dark force powers to collapse various columns — one of which almost killed Ryku. Tyron hurled a demolition charge at the Inquisitor, but Saul stopped it in mid-air and it detonated, blowing up more of the room but not its intended target. After exchanging shots back and forth for a while, the other salvager crew pulled back and retreated.

Inquisitor Lord Saul turned away, disappointed, and slipped into the shadows across the bridge.

As silence filled the hall once more, Captain Ryku's crew helped him out from under the rubble of a column and tended to his injuries. Neo tried first aid on Tyron but messed up and caused more damage to the mercenary's wounds.

Further exploration of the palace led them to more offices, meeting chambers, storage rooms, a dining hall and a lounge, and eventually a huge amphitheater. Here, they met the hologram of an old man who explained that he was simply a member of the Council of Elders who was off-planet the day the Death Star appeared. He returned now — or, rather, his image returned — to do what Bail Organa was going to do when he sent his daughter after General Obi-Wan Kenobi. "I am going to give the Alliance Alderaan’s greatest gift," he said, "and its greatest shame." A secret door in the back of the room opened up.

Beyond, the Embar's crew found a chamber that looked like a room in a museum. In the center of the room stood a droid with human bones inside of it. The droid suddenly came to life, moving aggressively toward the crew! Seated in the center of the skeleton within the droid was a small crystal that glowed a faint bronze/red color: the Heart of the Guardian. After battling and disabling the droid, Neo yanked the crystal out and examined it. He remembered from his studies that the Heart was one of two legendary crystals that Revan obtained near the end of his quest to find and destroy the Star Forge. It was believed that the Heart was involved in the founding of the Jedi Order. According to prophecies of the Order, the Heart would appear at the time of greatest turmoil and help in bringing the galaxy into salvation. However, the Sith also believed it to be an object of their heritage, which in turn would bring about their domination of known space. Neo decided he would add the crystal to his lightsaber, which would amplify its damage output.

Also in the room was the Belt of Master Bodo Bas, a Force-infused item that adds to its wearer's strength.

Captain Ryku and Tyron found the tunnel that Belinda Vog's crew had fled through. The tunnel led to a small opening on the side of the asteroid, which was still thankfully enveloped in a bubble atmosphere. Charl called 4Q2 to bring the ship around and pick them up.

The Secret of Alderaan

As the crew of the Embar navigated their way through the asteroid field on their way to the asteroid designated as 7785, another ship intercepted them. This other ship appeared to be a cross between a light freighter and a starfighter. In any case, the ship made straight for them! Captain Ryku ordered evasive maneuvers and full engine power, hoping to outrun them.

Suddenly, a pair of droid-piloted mining ships appeared and fired upon the Embar with militarized mining lasers! Charl managed to outmaneuver them while Tyron blasted away with the turret gun. Their ship took some light hull damage, but the real problem came when the sublight drives overheated from the stress of barreling through the asteroid field at high power. And then a solid hit by the mystery ship took out the Embar's shields. The captain ordered 4Q2 to go down and fix the shields. The droid protested, "Sure, send the robot! This is the worst kind of discrimination!" but after Ryku threatened him, the droid did as he was told. Neo went to check on the engine, which was steaming and sparking dangerously.

Two more mining ships showed up, all firing lasers at the Embar while the mystery ship fired its ion cannons. 4Q2 wasn't able to get the shields up, so Ryku had to go down there and do it himself. Neo replaced the heat sinks and got the engine working at full power again. Meanwhile, Charl weaved and dodged around asteroids, trying to evade their attackers and give Tyron clear shots with the turret.

The crew managed to destroy or disable all four of the droid mining ships, and Tyron's precise shots also took out the mystery ship's ion cannon. The ship veered away and disappeared from view. Charl ran the scanners twice but couldn't locate their foe.

Asteroid 7785 loomed ahead. After landing their ship inside a huge cave, Captain Ryku asked everyone except 4Q2 and Doctor Doyaahb to disembark and check it out. Atmosphere generators within the cave provided some safety from the vacuum of space. Tyron Corso led the way into the darkness. Ahead, he noticed a faint red glow.

After exploring the cavern complex a little bit, the crew discovered a damaged droid lying in the middle of a large open area. At the rear of the cave, partially hidden behind rubble, they found the entrance to the Royal Palace — a door made of finely-engraved metal.

Without warning, a dozen stormtroopers showed up, filing into the cave and aiming their blasters at the crew! A blonde woman wearing all black armor demanded that the crew lay down their weapons and surrender. Ryku tried negotiating with her, and in so doing learned that she was in fact an Imperial Intelligence Agent named Shira Elan Colla Brie.

Neo gasped when he recognized her, and she seemed to recognize him as well.

Charl drew his blaster pistol and shot the disabled droid, which caused it to explode, incinerating half the stormtroopers and knocking the rest of them away. The entire cave rumbled and shuddered. As the dust settled, blasterfire filled the cavern. Tyron chucked a demolition charge and caused more explosions. The stormtroopers retreated back into the previous cavern where the Embar was docked, and where the rest of the stormtroopers moved in to reinforce their comrades. Charl radioed for 4Q2 to take off so their ship wouldn't be compromised. Tyron set off another demolition charge that caved in the tunnel leading back there, thus separating the crew from the rest of the stormtrooper platoon.

As the cavern rumbled some more, and stalagtites and chunks of rock fell from the ceiling, the crew looked to the Royal Palace door as their only hope of escape.

Walking in the Graveyard

After rescuing Zaz Kamiroz, the intrepid crew of the Embar took to hyperspace, heading for the Graveyard of Alderaan, a great asteroid field that was once the planet Alderaan. While they had originally been paid to deliver the miner to the retired general Locus Geen, the crew instead decided to investigate Kamiroz's claim that the miners of Alderaan had found the remains of the Royal Palace.

Along the way, Shakka'teksa made some repairs to the ship, Charlemagne tended to his garden, Neo meditated, Doctor Doyaahb told Tyron Corso all about his uncle Yarold Doy's acting career, and 4Q2 smoked a bunch of cigars in the bathroom.

Once the crew entered the Alderaan asteroid field, they began picking up signals from navigation beacons. 4Q2 discovered a bit too late that most of the beacons were either damaged or missing, so the signals were very unreliable. But thanks to Charlemagne's slick piloting skills, the Embar made it through the asteroid field to the Mining Outpost unscathed.

Captain Ryku instructed Charl to fly casual as he hailed the outpost over the comm. No response. He tried again, and this time a broken message came through: "Please help … droids … murdered everyone … Inquisitor …"

Tyron excitedly locked and loaded his rifle as Charl set down inside the outpost's hangar, which was littered with dead bodies and blasted starship parts. Zaz Kamiroz feared the worst. He suggested that maybe the Imperials came here looking for the Royal Palace, too.

Captain Ryku, Tyron, Shakka'teksa, Neo, and Charl disembarked the ship with Zaz, leaving the doctor and droid behind to salvage parts from the wreckage.

The crew found the outpost's command quarters with humble apartments within, and a storage room with mining equipment, including vibropicks, power shovels, and power hammers; they also found the life support system, as well as an asteroid tracking and mapping station. A security droid suddenly descended from a turbo-lift, but was quickly turned to slag by the crew's blasterfire. They decided to make haste in their search here for the Royal Palace's coordinates.

Upstairs they found another storage room, this one containing stocks of food, water, and other necessities. Poking his head out into the corridor, Neo spotted another security droid patrolling the area on high alert; he whispered for Tyron to come check it out. The security droid noticed them and scuttled over, its blaster turret swiveling toward the door. After exchanging a few shots back and forth, it was Shakka'teksa who blew the droid's data-brain out.

Once they found the mainframe computer room, the Twi'lek was able to access the mining log which contained the coordinates of the Royal Palace — Asteroid 7785!

Nextdoor was the outpost command center, but even though the lock had been damaged, the door was barricaded from the inside. Ryku knocked on the door. Somebody hiding on the other side moved the barricades aside and let them all in. It turned out to be the foreman of the mining outpost, Kathos Loof, who explained what had happened here. He said that he didn’t know what the Imperial survey team discovered out in the asteroid field, but he heard lots of rumors. After the survey team left, a platoon of stormtroopers showed up, led by an Inquisitor named Renn Saul and an Imperial Agent named Brie. All the workers here were slaughtered. The Inquisitor accessed the computers, apparently found what he needed, and then he and his retinue left. Kathos begged for the crew to get him out of here.

Shakka'teksa tried slicing the computers here and, with a little help from Tyron, Neo, and the captain, found the Inquisitor's long-range transmission sent to Darth Vader. Apparently the sith lord was on his way to this mining outpost even now!

Captain Ryku ordered everyone back to the ship. As the Embar pulled away from the hangar, Charl detected another ship entering the asteroid field…


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