As usual, this is a combination of Kira’s player log and material on the other characters, inserted so as to allow it to function as a general campaign log as well.
Discussion turned to how we might take out the fleet in orbit, or at least damage it enough to give the Republic a decisive advantage. Well easiest way to cause fear and panic would be to make the crew think the plague had gotten aboard the fleet. While I was against actually spreading the plague itself, or even the “tamed” plague, even to the Sith, surely there was some way to exploit the situation.
That lead the group to question Jarik on how readily he could synthesize a really nasty looking but ultimately harmless disease to spread around. He quickly made a variation of the cold virus that caused blotching of the skin, runny sinuses, coughing, and had a short incubation time, but was fairly harmless – at least to most of the major human variants. He could hardly vouch for all the species of the galaxy… He gave us all bottles of the stuff that we could use to spread the fake plague. I figure adding it to the ship’s air ventilation system would be the most effective method of spreading the virus.
Alys really started wondering about that. Most of the doctors she’d dealt with – and that was a pretty good number – were pretty firmly against the idea of making highly communicable new plagues, even if they were relatively harmless to most of the locals. She found Jarik’s lack of ethics… disturbing.
Alright, that gave us a distraction once we got on the fleet, but that still left breaking out the Arethi and then escaping back to the planet to figure out. Unfortunately without more information, that was going to prove difficult to outline beyond vague generalities. We didn’t even know which ship the Arethi were aboard.
That also left us with a bunch of droids we needed to subdue quickly in order to capture the soon- to-be-arriving shuttle. Overpowering all the droids was going to be difficult without a better estimation of what we were up against and how quickly reinforcements might arrive. Currently we counted 19 droids in total: 6 scouts, 12 battledroids, and a command unit.
Alys suggested that we get in touch with the local militias running around the mountains for information on droids and response times. Fair enough, they most likely knew more than we did. After sneaking out of town and wandering the woods aimlessly for a while, Alys finally found a well-traveled crossroads where we were almost immediately ambushed.
Sigh, this is twice now that normal civilians have gotten the drop on us. They are familiar with the area of course, and have had months to set up their positions – but STILL.
Negotiations with the locals didn’t go any better either. In their defense, Telera and I looked like Sith on a Sith-occupied planet, Khadim looked to be Mandolorian, 10CH was an assassin droid, Alys was a professional marksman, Lazlo looked to be a slave species, Shipwreck was carrying far too many weapons for comfort, and Ben and Jarik looked more than a little shady. Nor did it help when Shipwreck began ranting about antimatter and big explosions and we started asking questions about the medical group, just like the Sith. It took two or three groups before we found one willing to talk to us for any length of time.
I could not come up with any good arguments to satisfy the locals on demand and had to admit as much in front of them. Lazlo began criticizing my lack of a good argument till I told him that if he can come up with one to go ahead and say or be quiet. That led to more moping on Lazlo’s part, but I didn’t care. Eventually sarcasm and sheer annoyance convinced the locals that we couldn’t be Sith and they gave us the information we requested.
Ben sighed. He’d made what had sounded like a great and highly persuasive speech – at least in his own ears – and then had realized that he’d had his microphone turned off. Still, once they’d managed to shut up Shipwreck’s paranoid ranting, Alys had been able to get through to everyone, mostly on the grounds that – if they were Sith – they’d have run amuck long ago.
Looked like our estimates of droid strength were mostly accurate, minus two technical droids and a piloting droid that weren’t likely to figure heavily in a ground attack – although hopefully the transport/bomber unit wouldn’t get involved. We also learned it was one to three hours between when an attack occurred and when reinforcements would effectively respond. Well that should give us enough time to get in, capture the shuttle, and then make an escape either into the hills or into orbit.
We also got intel on droid tactics. The droids were surprising restrained when dealing with the population, including children throwing rocks and such. I figured it meant the Sith weren’t really pay much attention to what was going on down here, leaving the droids to fall back on default programming. Others thought it was the Sith trying to maximize production again after the near total collapse of the local economy. I will leave this riddle for the historians to ponder I think.
Communications planet-wide was largely via satellite, with actual buried hardlinks connecting the various towns. The satellites had been preempted by the Sith once the occupation began (and were now mostly used for encrypted communications and propaganda), so that left the hardlinks. Good to know, although that still meant the droids could call for help even with the transmitter down. That was probably how they managed to call for repairs too.
From what else we could gather, the Sith were primarily interested in two different minerals: irstatin and varoch. One functioned as an electromagnetic noisemaker and the other was a useful superconductor. Alright, I could see some uses for both of those, but I wasn’t an engineer. Ben got excited about it all, and started making comments about building a massive EMP. When I finally understood what he was talking about I had to remind him we didn’t have access to a sufficiently powerful explosive to do that sort of thing.
Ben noted that the locals did have PLENTY of midrange explosives for mining, but didn’t have military-level plastech stuff.
At which point Shipwreck began ranting about his “antimatter” again and scared off another batch of locals. I’m sorry, but there just comes a point when negative reinforcement is the only way to approach problematic behavior like this. Using a mock weapon built by Ben designed to humiliate as opposed to harm, we took turns smacking Shipwreck for his outburst.
Meanwhile, back at the base, the kids were busy coming up with some merchandising tie-ins for Kira the Kat – Evil Sith Cat Toy Sabers, Action Figures, Voice Changers, roller balls, and other items. So far it was going really well – and several other systems HAD picked it up. Ok, it was mostly being paired with Mrs Beasley’s rantings – but it was still doing very well!
With that out of our system, speculation turned back to EMP’s. Ben suggested that since the planet was rich in heavy metals, and had lots of metal processing equipment, it should be feasible to enrich some uranics or transuranics. I had no clue what he meant by that until it was pointed out that this was how to build a fission weapon. Well that would certainly work if I understood correctly, but that would leave us with trying to figure out how to rescue the Arethi in orbit after the EMP.
Alright, first rescue the Arethi, then EMP the fleet. Rescuing the Arethi meant getting aboard the fleet. Getting aboard the fleet meant grabbing the shuttle and flying to orbit. Now to grab the shuttle.
Speculation focused on using nets, covered pits, and a siphon droid to steal fuel. While I liked the siphon idea, the amount of fuel a fusion system needed to make a simple orbital launch was really too minimal to make that work real well. The covered pits and nets weren’t even worth considering either. Nets were unlikely to hold a shuttle down, and we weren’t going to dig a convincing covered pit in the right spot in the next hour either. No, it looked like we were going to have to quickly overwhelm the droid guards before we could be overwhelmed in turn.
Our plans then focused on using the stasis belts to hide our life signs while Khadim and 10CH snuck us onto the base in plain sight. We figured the droids were more likely to land in the vehicle park than the town square so we directed Khadim and 10CH to transport us there. Lazlo refused to don a stasis belt. Some sort of phobia about weird evil Sith technology. No problem, he just wouldn’t be able to join us going into town as we refused to let him ride in the old prospectors truck we hijacked outside of stasis.
Leaving him behind, we all went into stasis, using the stasis belts 10-CH, the Ranath, and Ben had rigged up.
Khadim and 10-CH spun a brief tale to get past the Droids; their prospector-master had sent them in to drop off his ore and get more supplies… what plague and invasion? Given that the droids had orders to get those ores, they went for it. Khadim and 10-CH unloaded the ore – and then went to the vehicle park to “recharge” – and stash the rest of the group wherever they could to await the shuttle landing.
Ben awoke under a pile of rubbish with a giant monster about to impale his head. He sat up with a scream – and found that the “giant monster” was a mouse-sized thing that had been about an inch from his video camera. Dratted lack of prospective… Unfortunately, that led to the shuttle spotting him – and opening fire with the anti-personnel blasters.
Alys awoke crammed into a vehicle trunk, and saw that the shuttle was firing at Ben… She managed to bring her blaster around and badly damage one landing strut – leading to the Shuttle abruptly taking on a steep tilt and having a hard time hitting Ben.
Shipwreck promptly started jamming electronic sensors in the area – drastically slowing up the droid reinforcements coming from the center of town.
I awoke under a thorn-bush with numerous thorns sticking me most uncomfortably. I could see the shuttle straight ahead of me firing weapons at a garbage pile. Seeing this as good an opportunity as any, I bolted across the clearing between the bush and the shuttle trying to get into a weapons blindspot. My enhanced speed wasn’t as good as I’ve managed in the past, but I managed to close the gap while the shuttle was still shooting at trash for whatever reason.
Up close, I could see that the shuttle was actually tilted significantly due to damage to one of the landing struts. The outer airlock door was quickly closing as well. I didn’t have much time if I wanted to get on board and incapacitate whoever or whatever was piloting it. Trouble was, there was an antiship missile launcher between me and the door. I would have to pass in front of it if I wanted to get to the door in time.
On the one hand, anyone sane would have installed safeties to prevent firing missiles at targets too close to the ship. On the other hand, this was the Sith we were dealing with and sane doesn’t necessarily enter into the equation. Damn it, I hate getting into these situations. Precognition was especially cloudy at the moment too, so I couldn’t rely on that for guidance.
No real choice then, against my better judgement, I ran in front of the missile launcher, grabbed a handle, and swung down into the closing door.
Inside, I was still alive, although I could hear a slight hiss in the air. They were either sucking the air out, or were pumping in poisonous gas. I filled my lungs with air and held my breath. I would be a few minutes until I needed to do the air conservation techniques, so I immediately took stock of the situation. The gas was still being pumped in, the door was closed behind me shutting out all light, and the door in front of me refused to open.
Well, my lightsaber did put out a limited amount of violet light and I could see slightly into the ultraviolet. Turning it on did illuminate everything in a slight violet and not quite violet glow. I prepared to cut a hole in the inner airlock door when the sudden feeling I was about to fall towards the ceiling came over me.
Now, my first mistake was stopping to wonder why I was about to fall towards the ceiling. Well that would be the first if you didn’t count the running in front of a missile launcher I did only moments ago. Second mistake was that I didn’t immediately power off the lightsaber as my world was sent upside down and I fell towards the ceiling. Luckily I was able to control my fall enough that I didn’t accidently impale myself on my own lightsaber.
Outside, Ben had tried to use the force to race towards the ship as well (and get in under it’s arc of fire) – but had accidently launched himself at it instead, and had jammed his helmet into one of the missile launchers. Having that thing a few inches from his head was not a comfortable sensation. It got worse when the piloting droid, relying on scrambled sensors, tried an emergency takeoff, varying the thrust to compensate for the tilt – and flipped the entire shuttle before starting to grind across the pavement upside down, partially on top of Ben – who blessed his super-heavy armor for keeping him injured and not dead.
Shipwreck had rushed the shuttle when Ben had gotten trapped and used his explosive shirt and superb demolitions skills to flip the ship again – while Alys hopped aboard a cargo-handling vehicle and headed in to grapple the shuttle – and incidentally help get it back upright so as to free ben. Somehow, between the pair of them, they managed the stunt – leaving the ship held down by having a heavy cargo handling unit attached to it’s nose. The droid pilot, not too surprisingly, had nothing in it’s files about what to do when the ship was being grappled.
Cursing my stupidity again, I got to my feet and cut my way through the airlock door to the cockpit of the shuttle. There I saw two droids at the controls. One looked like it was piloting or trying to. That view of the buildings and grass going by at an angle did not speak well for whatever was happening to the shuttle. The other was aiming it’s built-in weapons and demanding that I identify myself.
Sadly I couldn’t come up with a lie outrageous enough to bother trying with so I just took a swing at the droid to remove the arm holding the weapon. The first cut went home, but didn’t penetrate the armor enough to stop the thing – and the second, partial, cut was interrupted as I suddenly got the urge to dodge. Barely stepping to the side in time, I watched the blaster bolt shoot by me, bounce off the airlock door I had come through, off the windshield, bounce some more in a compartment under the dashboard, and go into the back of the droid that just tried to shoot at me. I could have sworn I heard the droid cursing its fate as it shut down.
Seriously, that was another one of those tidbits in the holos I never thought happened in real life. Yet it just happened right in front of my eyes.
The shuttle finally stopped with a lurch. At that point, the piloting droid starting trying to find some kind of program for grapple piloting. What in the galaxy was going on outside that the pilot was thinking grapple techniques relevant to piloting? Or were the Sith now buying their droids at the bargain bins these days?
With the pilot finally shutting down the engines after finding no relevant program to get out of whatever mess the rest of the group got it into, I disembarked the badly tilted shuttle to survey the damage. I found Alys hunched over Ben at the bottom of a trench in the middle of the plaza with the shuttle still partially hanging over him. Shipwreck was busily driving droids to distraction with that sensor pack of his doing some sort of jamming – delaying the droid reinforcements for a couple of critical minutes. We found Telera where 10-CH and Khadim had been trying to let her out of stasis just when Shipwreck started his jamming. Apparently 10-CH had simple settled down to wait when its sensors had gone out, and Khadim was not doing well with no sensor feedback. (Ben mused that he really must do something about that). We got Telera out of stasis while Jarik treated Ben and Ben fashioned foil hats for 10-CH and Khadim.
Telera wasn’t happy to have spent the entire battle in stasis, but she at least got to help us clean up the wandering droids that were milling about more-or-less aimlessly. Taking out nearly two dozen droids was much easier than I thought it would be, with the complete lack of coordination on their part. I guess this is why Valerie despises droids, they never really seem to cope well with unexpected situations – or with however Shipwreck managed to jam their sensors.
Once the battle, if you could have called a real battle, was over, the mayor was pretty upset with us. Ah yes, with the garrison destroyed, the town was likely to face retribution from a large droid strike force. Approximately 1,500 people needed to be evacuated from the city before the response came. Many of them were sick and wounded unlikely to be able to make the trip on their own. Well stasis fields are real handy for this type of situation.
We donated stasis fields, helped organize the evacuation and got the local rebel militias to assist in taking them into the mountains to hide. Seriously though, when you’re on a Sith occupied planet, shouldn’t having an evacuation plan be something you have at the ready? I mean, yes the Sith occupation has been rather “benign”, but how long was that really going to last? Oh well, if I have my way, the occupation isn’t going to last too much longer.
Ben and 10-CH worked on repairing the shuttle while the rest of us tried to use the Sith codes (only a few of the current ones, drat it) we found on it to learn what we could. We learned the Sith were really wanting that static ore, but the droids needed organics to mine it for obvious reasons. We also learned the Arethi were on the Vekdarath, one of the two big ships in orbit.
The commander in charge of the fleet was Sohl Pein. He was on the other big ship, the Gerkeck. Apparently more than a bit paranoid about the plague as he wanted the Arethi kept away from himself. What little I recall of the guy from my time at the Academy wasn’t encouraging. He was reputed to be powerful, more than a bit crazy, good at grand scale tactics and was now over my head in orbit.
On the plus side, he wasn’t reputed to be that hot at small-scale stuff, and was apparently sloppy enough to invade a plague world and to leave most of the traffic-control and small-scale operations to Droids. If we could kill or capture him in stasis, it would certainly be a benefit to the Republic. We shall have to see what opportunities arise to ruin his day then.
We got the shuttle mostly repaired and the pilot droid reprogrammed. The ship we were heading to had several Sith on board to keep an eye on the doctors. That was going to make life interesting to say the least. We put ourselves into stasis again and had 10-CH and Khadim load us onto the shuttle. I assumed 10-CH was able to con himself past the droids as he was who let us out of stasis once we were onboard the Sith ship. 10-CH and Khadim took up hiding in one of the network and utility rooms to keep us informed of what was going on in the ship while the rest of us tried to figure out how to make this work.
Way I saw it, we had two objectives: rescue the Arethi, and cause as much damage as possible to the Sith fleet. Rescuing the Arethi was likely to run into the Sith guarding them. Which would suggest we concentrate on that first. But the more we focused on that, the less time we had to try to cripple the ship and the rest of the fleet. Do we take our chances and split up, or do we limit our objectives and concentrate our resources on making sure we can accomplish a single objective?
I keep wondering what Valerie would do in this situation.