Star Wars Session IV

   For the convenience of those players doing character-viewpoint writeups, here’s a basic summary of session four…

   Session four started off with the party divided:

   Kira, Khadim, and 10-CH had stayed at the spaceport to talk to the incoming Jedi – who, at least hopefully, really would be Jedi and not Sith. Sometimes it was hard to tell them apart, especially when you were in a rush.

   Ben, Lazlo, Handel, Alys, Telera, the two Jedi Kids (Seriyan and Varel), and Garyan had taken the Nightraptor and headed on down to the bioresearch base, where Ben had decided to test their collection of access codes on the semi-derelict Sith ships computer systems while Lazlo salvaged damaged fighters and fighter parts. Ben had thought that he’d isolated what was left of the computer systems from the remaining ships systems first. He’d been wrong, and – unfortunately – those experiments had wound up firing most of it’s remaining major weaponry (eight missiles / torpedoes), of which three had failed to redock properly when recalled and one had detonated. That had left Ben trapped in the computer core, with only about six hours of oxygen left to go. Equally unluckily for him, the computer center was in a heavily shielded and sealed area of the ship – with no easy exits.

   Handel had, of course, pulled the Nightraptor well away from the possible impact zone when the missiles looped back towards the derelict. No need to put that kind of stress on a newly-repaired hull.

   Lazlo was wondering why Ben – whom he presumed was a “Sith Lord” (how else could he have “cracked” those codes initially? He must have already known them!) – had torpedoed himself. He’d heard that the Sith were self-destructive, but surely they weren’t that bad? Should they try to rescue him or not?

   Alys and Telera didn’t have any doubts. Obviously Ben had gotten the wrong code, but had found an “abort” command – and had put himself at risk (albeit possibly unintentionally) to stop the attack. If he was still alive aboard that hulk, a rescue was definitely in order.

   Garyan was just annoyed. Why hadn’t anyone told him that the hulk might still have functional weapons to scavenge?

   Meanwhile, Ben had found that he couldn’t call out. Either he was too well shielded or he’d gone and blown up the Nightraptor. Given that that was the worst-case scenario, he went with it for the moment – better a pleasant surprise than trying to rely on rescue which never came – which meant he had to get out on his own.

   On board, there was some debate over what to do (and how to attempt a rescue) – although they wound up assigning Seriyan and Varel to prompt Garyan for war stories. It seemed safer than letting him get up to whatever came into his head.

   Handel did some careful navigating through the swirling clouds of muck to bring them close enough to the derelict vessel to get a good look again. There was quite a lot of destruction and extra damage… It looked like the ship had fired some pretty powerful torpedoes – and it was a good thing that they’d ALREADY pulled their spare parts.

   Aboard the ship, Ben had been calling up a map of the ship on the computer – and it didn’t look good; he was deep inside, behind heavy armor, there weren’t many access ways, the corridor that was blocked by plating was obviously impossible, and the one blocked by mud was likely semi-impassible. Wait! The computer had broadcast to recall the torpedoes. If he could hook it up again, and the transmitters were still working, he could call for help!

   That did prove to be possible.

   Back at the ship, Telera and Alys had opted to try for a straightforward personal rescue; they were roughly halfway to the derelict – a couple of hundred feet from either ship – when they realized that the detonations had actually attracted a jellyfish swarm. They had some of the poison along – but not enough for THAT.

   Lazlo started trying to hold the Jellyfish off with blaster fire from the anti-personnel turrets while Handel got the ship launched again (he didn’t want to go too quickly, or the turbulence would dissipate the poison and leave Telera and Alys exposed). Telera and Alys took refuge in the remains of an old warehouse; the two walls and partial roof would help keep things off their back for a bit. Telera (although shocked at the notion) could even use the Force to slow the dissipation of the poison they spread. They held out for long enough to escape – although it was close; the jellyfish had started to collapse what was left of the roof and they barely got back aboard thanks to some good shots by Lazlo.

   Ben was reviewing the derelict ships weapons… One ion cannon that might work, but it was currently under water and mud. Anti-boarder system working, but it electrified the hull – part of which was broken in near him. That was a poor idea. The only other thing was a ship purging system that released toxins throughout the ship… No… Wait… they’d be intended for water-breathers. He was on a breather mask. They weren’t contact poisons… OK, he’d use that to (hopefully) keep off the jellyfish.

   He tried contacting Kira. That was easy enough – although the Ship added it’s identification codes as the Shard of Devastation. Of course, overhead, the Jedi were receiving a fragmentary broadcast from a sith battleship – something about inventorying weapons systems.

   The ship, now that it’s crew should be exterminated, requested further instructions. Ben had it go into stealth mode and on standby while he tried to wriggle out through the mud. Sadly, he failed to note the signs of something reaching in, ran straight into a giant jellyfish, and was promptly paralyzed. Fortunately, the toxins he’d released caused it to pull back – which at least pulled him out of the ship to be digested. About all he could do was groan into the mike and try to get into empathy with the thing that was eating him – which didn’t work worth a damn.

   Fortunately, now that they were back aboard the Nightraptor, Telera and Alys spotted him. Telera made a heroic effort with the force and managed to yank him free, and Alys provided more covering fire while Lazlo dashed to the lock to scoop him up (most athletically). He wasn’t even in that bad of a shape; they’d pulled him out pretty quickly.

   They hadn’t been letting Garyan near the guns, even if it was REALLY straining the kids who were trying to keep him diverted. He kept going on about the value of guns, blades, weapons of all kinds, and immediate violence as a solution to pretty much anything and everything. It wasn’t exactly the best of lessons for Jedi kids, but fortunately they didn’t seem to be going for it.

   Back upstairs, the Jedi, and Republic troops at their disposal (there was an ongoing Sith War on after all), had done a hot drop with multiple combat shuttles. They were out to seize control of the spaceport as quickly as possible – and hopefully capture any major ships or weaponry before they could be deployed.

   The “resistance” currently consisted of one freighter-captain loading crates of booze via some cargo-handler droids, three civilian security guards, two port officials, Khadim-17 and 10-CH (who had opted to quietly impersonate stored equipment again; with the sensor-scrambler going and their own unique natures underneath, it was easy to hide in a box and pass a quick inspection), and Kira – who had opted to wait in “tropical island tourist” mode (complete with a lounge chair and a fruit drink). It didn’t take the troops long to conclude that – despite the signs of a recent fight – there wasn’t going to be much physical resistance.

   Kira, just to make his point, accused the Jedi of acting just like the Sith, and protested being disarmed at length. Of course, even the republic experts and the Jedi could not find a ship and a WMD that wasn’t there – so they had to be content with his lightsaber. When the troops arrested Kira, re-embarked with him, and started launching, Khadim – dragging a rather unwilling 10-CH along – rode along on the outside. He even swiped a new missile launching pod by ripping it off the shuttle; you never knew when a good pistol would come in handy!

   Out at sea, the Jellyfish were attacking the NightRaptor – but Handel found it quite easy to escape from them now that everyone was inside – or at least he would have if he hadn’t been keeping the engine output to an absolute minimum to avoid detection. The question wasn’t whether he could evade them; it was whether or not he could do it without giving away their location. Still, there were far worse places to hide than the depths of a teeming ocean full of major life forms.

   The shuttles made it back to the little Jedi fleet easily enough – and Khadim and 10-CH quietly slipped aboard amongst all the maintenance droids that came to repair that mysterious damage to the shuttle they’d rode in on. It wasn’t really important damage (a good deal more damage than one apparently badly-welded missile pod had been expected on an assault mission) so there were far more maintenance units around than were really needed anyway. Still, that shuttle would be barred from atmospheric re-entry for a few hours.

   Besides, all the attention and excitement centered on the senior Jedi who were interviewing Kira. That was, after all, a major mission objective. They quite obviously thought he was a Sith (or at least reckless and likely corrupted), that he was hunting for Sith weapons, that he might have some truly major destructive abilities, that he might already possess Sith bioweapons, and that – if he was powerful enough to conceal his corruption, yet had been training for less than a year – he just might be possessed by the spirit of a powerful elder Sith.

   Kira, of course, said that most of that was silly, that they’d disarmed the Collapsium Reactor (and wanted to dispose of the collapsium) – and that he wouldn’t have hung around to talk to them if he was a Sith. After all, he’d had plenty of chances to run.

   That made some impression on the more sensible of the trio of senior Jedi who’d come along, but the others weren’t so sure. It might be true that he wasn’t a Sith – or he might just be hiding it well. If he wasn’t a Sith, the coincidence level around him was certainly incredibly high – high enough that it might indicate either massive force meddling (or it simply being a very very big galaxy).

   The argument was ongoing when Khadim-17 and 10 -CH arrived. 10-CH had knockout-darted the guards – and Khadim-17 still had his missile launcher. On the other hand, they were extremely non-violent and not at all hostile (or even unfriendly). Besides… Up close it was all too obvious that Khadim was very odd indeed, even if 10-CH was just a Droid.

   This led to more odd conversation – and more scans and probing. In fact, they were so involved – and the ships internal forces were so focused on having a an unknown quantity in powered battle armor carrying an antiship missile launcher loose near the bridge – that the Shard of Devastation was the first to notice that (from it’s viewpoint) Sith reinforcements had arrived. It so informed Ben – who had Handel pass on the warning.

   There was some discussion. The stakes had just suddenly gotten a lot higher, and salvage had just dropped down the priority list. They didn’t have any weapons at all that had any real chance against a serious naval vessel – and it looked to them like the Sith task force seriously outgunned the Jedi and the Republic forces.

   Well, the Shard of Devastation still had it’s underwater drives, and could move about fairly quietly in the water, and even enough repulsorlift drive left for short in-atmosphere hops. The notion was straight out of the holodramas – there hadn’t been a serious ramming action between capital-class ships in centuries – but it was just barely possible that having it pop up out of the water would work if they could lure one of the Sith ships into the right position.

   Ben made a tremendous precognitive effort to select the spot. Alys exercised her ambushing skills; if they took it through enough weeds, and then through some jellyfish, and kept the power down, it should be possible to disguise it as just another huge jellyfish – or a collection thereof; a Sith computer system would not be at all surprised at a bit of treachery against other Sith,

   Ben tinkered with the sensors; they’d need them properly tuned to penetrate the air-water interface if they were going to get proper targeting information. Garyan had the best reflexes for this sort of thing, so he could man the controls while Handel handled the ship.

   Up above, the fight wasn’t looking too good. The Sith had three Scoutcraft, two light cruisers, and a heavy warship – the Winter Victory. The Jedi / Republic had a heavy cruiser, two light carriers, and quite a few combat shuttles and fighters. The planet had six fighters, strongly-worded protests, and some attempts at bribery if they would all just GO AWAY.

   The carriers and light cruisers were fairly evenly matched, the combat shuttles could hold off the scoutcraft, and the cruiser and the fighters could stall the heavy warship until the fighters started to run out of missiles and had to retreat – or got picked off. The Jedi could stall for quite some time – but they’d have to pull out eventually.

   Ben had sensor troubles – adjusting the sensors he’d just set up for air-and-space operations for water-to-air was tricky – and he eventually had to go outside to make adjustments. Lazlo and Alys did covering fire again while he did, and he didn’t (quite) get eaten.

   Upstairs, in the chaos, Kira, Khadim, and 10-CH had been left with just a few guards and a request that they sit quietly and let the Jedi and the military handle things. On the other hand, given what they were hearing about the situation from Handel and the others over Khadim’s subspace radio, that really didn’t look like a good option.

   10-CH knockout-darted the guards and they headed for the ship, where they attempted to explain “chain of command” to Khadim while trying to persuade the commander to dive towards the planet. Neither went well, and they eventually gave up on persuasion and simply welded the bridge door shut and hijacked the ship – using it as a giant lure to pull the Sith warship down near the planet and into position for ramming (even if they were still both traveling at supersonic speeds and their ship was taking damage).

   Garyan “fired” the Shard of Devastation into the Winter Victory – resulting in a horrific collision and explosion, as various weapons systems, power reactors, and the sheer kinetic energy went up. Impressively, Handel managed to pull the Nightraptor out of the backwash with minimal damage – and the entire event left the various sensor logs showing a Sith Battleship being grabbed and eaten by a giant jellyfish. They promptly posted that to the galactic version of “youtube”…

   With the odds now favoring the Jedi and the Republic, the Sith – bereft of their commander anyway – pulled out after a bit. The explanations to the bridge crew were most chaotic – but the Jedi did have to admit that the absurd maneuver had resulted in a victory. They decided that Kira was not a Sith (and probably didn’t have the power to create nuclear-level explosions through the Dark Side), although he might have the (legendary) power of Probability Control. They cancelled the Jedi bounties and went with the original vision the Jedi Elders had followed when they’d assigned them to travel with Telera – send her, and do not interfere otherwise (although they did check on the disarming of the collapsium reactor and the destruction of the bioweapons warehouse). Evidently the elder Jedi weren’t entirely senile. Sadly, the future about the group was indeed very clouded, and full of extraordinarily unlikely events – possibly due to their association with Ben. Precogs tended to muddle the future for each other and they ALWAYS moved the future towards unlikely paths.

   That still left the Republic and Sith bounties, the Bounty Hunters, the Criminal Underworld, and all their other enemies, but it was a relief to get SOMEBODY off the list.

   The Jedi still found that “do not interfere” idea very annoying however. They were JEDI. They were SUPPOSED to meddle with all things and (of course) improve them, so they hated to take “leave it alone” as a course of action. They decided to keep a lid on things, and count actually telling anyone about the group as “interference”.

   That left them trying to explain to the local government. Sadly, the attempt to top paranoia with sarcastic jokes about having a “destroy the galaxy” weapon handy was not well received – although the government claimed to have dealt with Sith before, simply by giving them booze. Of course, the group assumed that THOSE might have been poseurs… They compromised on the government sending a security detail to conform the destruction of the bioweapons warehouse.

   After holding a small party (after all, they’d run off a Sith task force), holding a wake for the Shard of Devastation (it might have been a malevolent Sith battle computer, but it had saved all their hides), and doing some minor ship repairs, they headed on down to loot the bioweapons facility.

   Meanwhile, the word was getting around the galaxy about a bioweapon that apparently tried to eat major starships traveling at supersonic speeds – and succeeded.

   Lazlo desperately wanted more parts for his salvaged fighter. Even with cobbling four of the ancient things together into one, there were still a lot of systems that were pretty iffy. Ben was making a complete set of environmental armor with gold plating, jellyfish poison all over it, an emergency beacon, and a head mounted camera to let him see so that there was no vulnerable faceplate to let a jellyfish eat his face, as he’d heard had happened to some other people with similar ideas (he also sold the idea to a local suit manufacturer)

   Kira wanted some quick cash, so that he could fund a run to Alderaan – and perhaps some phony identities.

   Unfortunately, when they got down to the facility, the security systems were on high alert. It probably shouldn’t have been a surprise. There had been nearby explosions, assorted military broadcasts, a departing warship, and plenty of other disturbances.

   Of course, they still weren’t sure what codes to use – or even if they really had the right ones.

   They finally wound up picking some that had belonged to a very powerful Sith lord with no known relevant rivalries – and managed to pick one that identified them as an inspection team. Not authorized to remove things, but at least authorized to look at most of them.

   There were many jokes about “Sith Amnesia” – but they were still in, even if it was as “Inspector Verannhindin” and party. They were informed that most of the facility was 70%-80% operational, mostly because of a dopant shortage which had limited the ability to replace electronics. There had been containment failures, but only in the macrofauna; the microbiologicals were still safely stored away.

   For the macrofauna bioweapons they had a dozen meaningless names

   For the microbiolgical bioweapons they had fifty meaningless names.

   There were also apparently Force Amplification Systems (that supposedly granted advanced force abilities) and something labeled “Force Boosters” in the Force Weapons lab. How any of that was supposed to work – or if such projects were anything more than wishful thinking – was not explained.

   Apparently one of the duties of an inspector was to evaluate the experiments, decide what was worth keeping, what should be junked, what was too uncontrollable and should be referred to higher up, and which technicians should be executed for faking reports of success. Failure was acceptable; faked success was not.

   There were more jokes about “Darth Bureaucratese”.

   They informed the system that Ben was the inspector, that Garyan was there to test weapons, and (once they were sure that that would not put them in the chain of command under the computer) that the rest of them were replacement security personnel.

   Hm. It looked like the security gear had been being replaced once it fell to bits, but that maintenance was otherwise the responsibility of the security guards, so a lot of the stuff was old and unreliable.

   They just got those replaced by the simple expedient of making sure that anything doubtful fell to bits on the spot. It took time, but it was worth it to get some decent armor, heavy blaster pistols, and some minor munitions. Fortunately, it seemed that the security drones were under independent command from the human chain of command – at least at their level.

   Unfortunately they’d waited too long: they were attacked by one of the escaped bioweapons – a silica-based liquid/crystal lifeform that absorbed energy, stored energy in it’s crystals, and could use it to move very very fast or to burn through obstructions. According to the computer it could turn itself into razor-sharp crystal blades and such, adjust it’s metabolism, live by scavenging rock dust and absorbing light, released massive electrical discharges when damaged, and was virtually invisible in water. It was vulnerable to kinetic attacks and extreme cold however.

   Garyan moved in with his missile launcher. He took some damage, but he managed to kill the thing – but the shockwaves, minor attacks, and energy discharges left them all in pretty bad shape and Ben near cardiac arrest. Evidently his subspecies didn’t handle shock well.

   On receiving the news that the thing had spawned repeatedly (even if the new ones were smaller and weaker), they beat a hurried retreat. It looked like several macrofauna bioweapons had escaped, but only two – the “Rhystar” and the “Arcpulse” – had been capable of surviving without conventional food across the decades and were too tough to destroy without risking structural damage to the facility.

   The Arcpulse was a similar entity, but it could tap into energy sources and convert them into various kinds of energy attacks and manipulate circuitry. It had a built-in computer, but hadn’t been fully programmed – so it had simply moved into the computer room, tapped the power supply, and settled down to doing nothing.

   At least all the microfauna bioweapons were safely contained.

   They fell back to the Nightraptor – and it’s excellent medical facility – and started planning out what weapons they’d need to get for their next attempt (after everyone healed up). Perhaps they could rig those biostasis systems into emergency life support belts. They might be needing something like that all too soon.

2 Responses

  1. […] From the Rantings of Lazlo Milvago: Session Four […]

  2. […] From the Rantings of Lazlo Milvago: Session Four […]

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