ith their plan to take control of the dreaded Imperial Dungeon Ship upon which they had been imprisoned complete, our heroes now venture to return to the TAPANI SECTOR where only weeks ago they were defeated, captured and separated from their friends and loved ones and turned over into the clutches of the vile CORPSE DROID.
For in the Tapani Sector await their friends and loved ones, who’s fates remain clouded and their whereabouts uncertain in an unfriendly region of space.
Even with the addition of the rogue and ally Parias to their party for the time being, our heroes may be powerless to stop the unseen forces that continue to be at play, with new foes and villains joining an ever growing conspiracy, and the machinery of the ever mysterious operation known only as Outlander setting it’s sights on our heroes home base of ECUMENOPOLIS on the planet Dantooine whilst they sit trapped far across the ever dangerous galaxy…
The Seat of Cruel Power
Deep in the recesses of Hutt Space within the hidden fortress stronghold of the dreaded Hunto Pawa cartel, sat three Hutt lords before a flickering holographic projection of their most trusted and most reviled minion, the Corpse Droid.
“Speak” said Aroba, sitting comfortable between his Hutt brethren.
“I have word exultant ones on the four prisoners you have sought” the Corpse Droid said, reffering to the matter which he had been dispatched to see to some time ago.
“They have arrived?” asked Margori, as plainly and passively as any question he had ever asked. “No, they have… escaped” replied the Corpse Droid, holding his gaze from his empty black eyes to his Hutt masters when most would have cowered in terror.
“This is… disappointing droid, how did this happen?” inquired Aroba.
“All that I have learned is that they somehow escaped their holding cells and restraints, and took control of the Dungeon Ship” replied the Corpse Droid matter of factly, showing not even a hint of fear of his masters anger.
Caibara, the most ill tempered of the three Hutt lords quipped "This is no wonder. We should never have trusted a wreck of Mandalorian junk to hold those four prisoners, to say nothing of Parias ".
“Indeed, has the Tapani Lord who assured us of his Dungeon Ship’s (a beat) abilities too learned of their escape from his formerly escape proof prize vessel?” asked Margori.
“An automatic transmission was sent by the vessel’s droid brain upon their breaking free of their cell’s, I took the liberty of monitoring all House Mecetti signals in the event of such a development, that is how I learned of their escape” replied the Corpse Droid, leaving all three Hutt lords speechless for a moment as they considered just what he was telling them.
“You LEARNED of their escape?” Aroba inquired.
“You mean to say that you had not escorted the prisoners yourself?” Caibara added, his eyes flaring larger and larger, ever the more resembling an enraged cobra preparing to strike it’s helpless victim. “No great one” began the Corpse Droid, “I have you see recently met a most remarkable individual who too has an interest in the prisoners, this individual required my attention which I regret did not allow me the luxury of escorting the rotten meatbags myself. Through him I have learned of a development which you my Lords must be made aware of. A great change in the Galaxy is a foot, an upheaval of unrivaled magnitude which will affect every aspect of our lives and the lives of trillions in in the galaxy”.
The three chieftains of the Hunto Pawa took pause to look at one another, considering just what to make of this news their most trusted operative had brought before them. On one hand he had failed entirely in his task at brining the scoundrels who had attacked their property and stolen their credits on Manaan before them. Yet now he brings them word of a new opportunity, one that if true would completely eclipse in importance any long standing feud with four pitiful scoundrels. After the moments pause had passed, Caibara nodded in approval.
“Had this failure been on the head of any other operative, you would be dead where you stand now… what is this development you speak of? asked Aroba, leaning his massive head forward.
“It concerns what is known as Operation Outlander, and it’s first order of business is to deal with an outstanding problem with a small settlement on the planet Dantooine replied the Corpse Droid to the masters of the Hunto Pawa.
One Story Ends
In an instant the Dungeon Ship exited hyperspace in orbit of the planet Xirul, a young ocean covered world deep in the territory of the party’s captors, House Mecetti. The party and their new found friend Parias had only just begun to deliberate on what to do next when all of the sudden an incoming vessel was detected, a small cruiser but one more heavily armed than the weaponless and shieldless dungeon ship. Even worse, the vessel bore the markings of House Mecetti. Both Akira and Kalko were able to use their vessels scanners to monitor a strange transmission sent to the incoming cruiser from somewhere in a completely different sector, a message where cold, mechanical and yet oddly organic voice ordered the cruisers captain to blast the dungeon ship out of the sky rather than give the prisoners a chance to take the cruiser captive.
Though he had no proof, Akira told his friends he was certain the voice was that of the Corpse Droid, and none disagreed. Immediately their Dungeon Ship came under heavy fire, taking severe damage. Short on ideas, Akira suggested that they try ramming the cruiser with their Dungeon Ship, a maneuver that would surely devastate the attacking warship. Though all were hesitant, all agreed that drastic action was needed and fast.
Without any hesitation Akira began the ramming maneuver, powering their ships sub-light engines to full head on for the attacking warship. The enemy briefly tried to dissuade them from ramming via radio transmitter, and then attempted to maneuver away from the ramming Dungeon Ship, but only too late.
With a thunderous crash and explosion of sound, fire and light the two vessels collided, sending the party hurtling across their small cockpit against walls, consoles and any flat surface in their path. When the smoke and storm of sparks finally abated in the Dungeon Ships cockpit a horrible sight was discovered, only Aidan, Parias and Nyla were still conscious, Akira was unconcious with catastrophic injuries to both his legs, and Kalko the Collosal lie motionless and lifeless.
Nyla tried desperately to revive her friend as a flood of alarms and warnings filled the cockpit, but to no avail. After several minutes of failing to revive Kalko, Aidan gently pulled her away from their Rodian friends body, telling her that there was nothing more she could do for him, and that he was dead.
Aidan switched his attention then to the attacking cruiser, which according to the scans of a major radiation leak in their engine room, it’s rapidly degrading orbit, it’s distress call and dozens of launched escape pods indicated that the ramming maneuver had succeeded in crippling their enemy, only at a terrible price.
With their own ship heavily damaged and their pilot unconscious, Aidan took over control of the Dungeon Ship to attempt to land the vessel on the planet below, which would not be easy as the ship lacked repulsorlifs and landing gear. Never the less Aidan piloted the ship through the planets atmosphere successfully, though setting most of the hull on fire in the process. Aidan still maintained control of the ship as rocketed through the young planet’s sky, slowly breaking up along the way. He did his very best to slow the ships momentum as it approached the water below near a small desert island, but was unable to arrest it’s speed entirely. With his last breath Aidan told Nyla and Parias to hang on, and for a brief moment he felt Parias place a hand on his shoulder, and a sensation of a deep forcefield surrounded him.
An instant later all Aidan saw was white, then red, then the blue of the water he was immersed in as he regained consciousness. Beneath him he saw the sinking and still burning wreck of what was left of the Dungeon Ships hull descending almost silently to the oceans depths below. Above Aidan saw daylight through the ripples of the waves, and with all his might swam to the light above, taking what may have been the biggest breath of his life when he reached the surface.
On the shore of the nearby desert island Aidan saw Parias was dragging Nyla’s unconscious body along with Akira’s onto the sand. After Aidan joined him he asked Parias where Kalko was, to which Parias said he did not know. Aidan immediately ran back to the water against Parias’s wishes, telling him that dead as Kalko may be, he would give his friend a proper burial.
After several hours of swimming and diving to the point of near exhaustion, Aidan did find Kalko’s body pinned beneath a broken bulkhead in shallow water, and pulled his friend’s body to the surface where Nyla was now awake. Akira however was still unconscious, and although Nyla was able to stabilize him for the time being, the party still found themselves alone on a desert island with no weapons, no means of rescue, and the body of a fallen friend and hero by their side.
A Belated Rescue
After what had seemed like only minutes but may have been several hours of lying stranded on the desert island, a freighter size ship appeared on the horizon of the planet and landed on the island not ten meters from the party, a ship the party recognized as the mysterious vessel that had opened fire on them after they’d robbed the Bank of Aargau on the planet Aargau. This time however they had little to no means of defending themselves.
From an extending staircase from the vessel descended first a well dressed young man the party did not recognize, a strange funny looking old man in tattered robes, the spy Uhnri whom Akira had met at the Raelli Ball, and lastly none other than Negas. The well dressed man saw that Akira was badly wounded, and told Negas to bring him into the ship right away, which Negas did, ordering several bipedal sentient mercenary frog-like creatures to carry him into the ships medbay. Aidan recognized the creatures as the Vindhi species, several of whom had recently sought refuge on Dantooine. He wondered why they would be in the service of Negas.
The well dressed man introduced himself as Theux Paddox, a noble of House Pelagia. He explained his family’s personal spynet had known that the Corpse Droid had been operating on the planet Procopia for weeks, but didn’t know what he was up to. He further explained that an agent of his family, Tabot, the old man in tattered robes had been tracking the party since they arrived and had begun asking about Parias, whom they also knew was looking for the Corpse Droid. At that moment Tabot pulled out a glowing white tube rod, boasting that he used his keen senses of a Jedi Knight to aid in following the party, though both Nyla and Aidan looked on in suspicion at the old man, doubting that he was anything remotely resembling a Jedi.
Continuing on, Theux added that his House’s spynet had learned of the plot against Ishin-Il-Raz at the Raelli Ball soon after the party had learned of it, but by the time they arrived to put a stop to it for fear that it would destabilize an already fragile situation in the Tapani Sector, the agents and forces of House Mecetti had already defeated the party. Tabot, the man claiming to a Jedi spoke up again, stating that he had luckily found the twins not far from the skirmish, and that they were put under House Pelagia’s protection immediately.
Uhnri then explained that her organization, an independent spynet operating out of the Freeworlds of the Tapani Sector had gone to look for the party back at their ships at the starport so that they could find out what the party had known about the Corpse Droid, as her organization knew very little on the menace themselves. When they learned that the party had been taken prisoner by the Corpse Droid from the spynet of House Pelagia, they co-ordinated their efforts to have the party’s two starships falsely declared property of House Pelagia, and then ferried safety to Pelagian space away from Mecetti and Imperial forces.
Negas then joined in the discussion, explaining that he had been on the hunt for the party to force them to make a deal for a large sum of credits seeing how they were responsible for him falling out of favour with the Hunto Pawa. He claimed that he’d tracked them to the planet Aargau weeks earlier, and had hoped to extort millions of credits from them then, but that they had escaped. He added that he’d hoped to corner them here in the Tapani Sector, only to realize the Corpse Droid had found them first. After discovering that two other groups were also looking for the party (Theux Paddox and his spynet and Uhnri and her spynet) he decided to work with them to find the party sooner. He told the party how as he knew the Corpse Droid’s methods and protocols he knew what signal frequencies and codes he used, and was able to intercept a message explaining that the party had successfully taken their Dungeon Ship over. With that information Negas explained he and the others raced here to the Dungeon Ships planet of departure to meet up with the party.
Negas then paused to survey the scene on the desert island, and saw Kalko lying lifeless well behind the group. Negas asked if that was the one they called Kalko lying dead on the sand, which Aidan said it was. Negas offered the others his sympathies, explaining that he truly admired Kalko’s ambition, and wished he could have worked with him.
Theux reminded the party that they were still in the territory of House Mecetti, and that they could all expect to see Mecetti reinforcements arriving shortly. Aidan told Theux about the mercenary army and the three warships gathering on the planet Taris under their command, suggesting that it would make for a good location to meet with their friends. Theux agreed, sending a coded transmission to have the party’s friends onboard their ships go to Taris to await their arrival. Once the transmission was sent, the party boarded Negas’s stealth vessel with Kalko’s body as well, and took off from the planet Xirul, leaving only the sunken wreck of their crashed Dungeon Ship behind.
En route to Taris Nyla openly wondered what would happen to Quaggo, Kalko’s Wookie life pledge and good friend.
Nyla muses aloud about Quaggo’s future while Aidan and Akira offer their input.
Rendezvous on Taris
Once the party and their new friends arrived on Negas’s stealth starship the Rogue’s Claw at the seaside port town of Pome on the planet Taris, they were met not only by Aidan’s friend and the seventy-five Mandalorian mercenaries he had recruited at Aidan’s orders and expense, but their friends and loved ones, the late Kalko’s lover Miss M’Row, the orphan Umdat, Akira’s girlfriend and mother of his unborn child Dyneh Lonin, Nyla and Akira’s respective Padawan’s Eldewn and Elsae Sarvool, and Aidan and Kalko’s respective Wookie life pledges Baccitcuk and Quaggo.
Dyneh was devastated when she saw Akira in his state, even more so when Akira explained that he had learned from Negas’s medic after he regained consciousness that he would loose both of his legs as a result of the starship ramming maneuver. Parias explained that he had just ordered Akira two brand new cybernetic legs from the same source he had acquired his advanced grappo-arm from years earlier, and that he had found in Aidan’s Mandalorian force a skilled surgeon who could attach them. Akira was thankful, asking only that a handful of modifications, such as jump servo’s and concealed compartments for his lightsaber and hand grenades be added.
Young Umdat was ecstatic to see Nyla again, whom he had taken to as a surrogate mother of sorts. He explained that while waiting with the Tapani noble’s staff he brewed a special pot of Eeffoc for Kalko, who was a fan of his blends of eefoc. When he asked where Kalko was so that he could present him with the hot beverage, Nyla delivered the tragic news that Kalko had died. Miss M’Row simply fell to her knees in anguish, Quaggo roared as loud as anyone had ever heard a Wookie roar in utter and devastating grief. He tried in vein to punch out his own heart, but was stopped by his good friend Baccitcuk. Umdat simply looked down at the ground, mumbling “Oh dear” quietly to himself.
Seeing the grief in their friends faces reminded the party again of the magnitude of their loss at Xirul in the Tapani Sector, and after Quaggo had partially regained his composure, Aidan promised him that they would bury Kalko according to the rights the Wookie’s would afford a hero, which Quaggo approved of greatly.
Tabot then sought out Nyla and Akira, and told them that after speaking with the twins he’d formed a theory about the masked figure in red robes who had hunted them and their late Jedi Master Ofar Tan-Doov. He explained that based on their descriptions of an individual that could manipulate the Force to produce fire, he believed the individual to be a member of a dark side cult known as the Ember of Vahl, an organization that once long ago attempted to unleash a terrible evil upon the galaxy, and was subsequently wiped out by the Jedi as a result. Tabot explained an old legend of how the Ember of Vahl had thousands of years earlier organized a single tournament to choose the greatest champions of combat in the galaxy, but upon selecting the tournament’s winners it was revealed that the winners were simply meant to be hosts for a fiend of undescribable horror that would posses their bodies and lay waste to much of if not all creation. Thankfully the plot was stopped by a strong willed Jedi and a noble pirate, and the Vahl were hunted down by the Jedi and destroyed for their evil practices. This man Tabot believed to be in league with the Empire, hunting down Force users and Jedi such as the twins.
Nyla and Akira didn’t know what to make of this fantastic tale, but as it did seem to fit the twins description of the man in red who hunted them, they were hesitant to disbelieve it at the same time.
Aidan then set about organizing his new mercenary force. Shad introduced him to the various leaders and commanders of the force, whom he’d nicknamed Dyre’s Irregulars, in reference to the name of the squadron they had found together in as Bren’s Irregulars under Braylen Bren during the Clone Wars.
Aidan then took delivery of the three new starships that were waiting for him on the ground that he and Kalko had purchased from Traz Nunb’s associate. The first vessel, a Marauder Corvette he took as his command ship, naming the vessel the Valour. The other two vessels, both Corellian Gunships he named the Rancor’s Fist and the Kalko’s Endless Vengeance, in honour of their late comrade.
After a week’s time had passed Akira’s new legs had arrived and were successfully attached, beginning a long process of adjusting to life with cybernetic limbs. Aidan meanwhile gave his new mercenaries training in their new starships which would be under his command, and when his forces were adequately trained and familiar with their new vessels he and the party departed for Dantooine, to gather supplies to at last search for the Mandalorian renegade Dar’Manda Arpat, whom he’d been contracted by the Mandalorian Protectors months earlier to hunt down and neutralize.
Before leaving the party said goodbye to Theux, thanking him for his help in saving their friends and getting them to safety, to Unri for her help and the help of her spynet, and to Tabot, who although neither Aidan, Akira or Nyla believed to be a Jedi, was none the less very well informed on Jedi teachings and lore. Aidan, who now had his new command ship the Valour to pilot gave Akira command and ownership of the Renegade, which Akira thanked his friend for greatly. As the the party took off from Taris, with Akira, Dyneh and Elsae in the Renegade, Aidan, Baccitcuk and Shad in the Valour, Nyla, Parias, Miss M’Row, Umdat, Eldewn and Quaggo in the Emerald Eye, and Dyre’s Irregular’s spread out between the five vessels.
Before jumping to hyperspace Nyla asked Parias since he had displayed so many Jedi Force training techniques and was clearly a Force-sensitive individual, how was it that he had survived the Jedi Purge. He answered simply that he was not a Jedi… anymore.
Eight days after leaving Taris the party arrived in orbit of Dantooine, expecting to land their ships and refuel before heading out in search of the Mandalorian renegade Dar’Manda. Instead however their sensor alarms went off in each and ever vessel indicating there was heavy traffic in orbit of Dantooine, including small fighter size craft and three cruiser size warships and a massive command ship to be precise. In addition, massive fires were raging along with fire fights throughout the settlement of Ecumenopolis, the adjacent Wookie village of Nng-Muarga Kashyyyk and even the Kiwa village where The Wise Old One lived.
It was clear to the party that Dantooine was under siege on a scale like never before as a transmission was sent from the massive command ship. A Neimodian ordered the party to surrender their vessels immediately and prepare to be boarded, prompting Aidan to say to Shad “This is where the fun begins”.