Echoes of War

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The Crawl

Episode 10: Interludes

Echoes of War

It is a time of constant strife for the Republic! Mandalore the Ultimate and his neocrusaders have carved out an empire on the fringes of Republic space and constantly raid the Republic for profit and glory. The Republic has responded by annexing Taris, and forming a defensive line around it and its resource worlds. Many in the Republic ignore the distant conflict, but that’s becoming increasingly difficult for those living on the frontier…

Background

Note: The following background and adventures take place during the so-called "False War", a series of low-level skirmishes fought between the Republic and the Mandalorians between the waning days of the Restoration Period and the start of the Mandalorian Wars. At the end of the Interlude, each of the PCs had jumped from level 7 to level 9.

Years have passed since the defeat of the Sith at the space/time-shattering Spires of Xax and the subsequent loss of the Jedi Knight Lornn Varri. It's been four and a half since the defeat of the pirate lord Ral Duris and his flagship Obsidian Phoenix at the hands of the Jedi Knights of the Unified Force Academy and their allies in Binary Transports and Starrior Expeditions.

It has not been a quiet time.

The heroes of Zebulon Beta have travelled the galaxy, returning each year to the Durosian Gremlin in Jolus to share increasingly dire tales.

War has raged on the fringes of the Outer Rim as the Mandalorians erupted from their home world to seize an empire. The Republic did little to respond to this violence save granting membership to the city-world of Taris and establishing the Jebble-Vanquo-Tarnith Line to protect the star system's subsector.

Rumors of Mandalorian atrocities have drifted back to the Republic, but few have taken them seriously. Among them are the Jedi Knights Revan and Malak, who have led forays into Mandalorian space in search of proof of such horrors.

Binary Transport has survived inspite of the conflict, running covert reconnaissance and supply missions into the conflict zone on behalf of Republic Admiral Jimas Veltraa, co-commander of the Jebble-Vanquo-Tarnith Line. It has also kept up its ties with the Unified Force Academy, transporting Jedi -- including some of their old allies -- to areas in need of humanitarian aid from the order. And sometimes they lend the might of their lightsabers as well.

Although the Jedi High Council on Coruscant has forbidden the Order from engaging the Mandalorians, for fear that it will encourage them to attack the Republic proper, not all agree with their decry. The leaders of the Unified Force Academy on Zebulon Beta typify this divide.

While Jedi Master Queil, headmaster of the academy, has cautioned for watchful vigilance, Masters Ren Denobis and Qillon Kree have argued in favor of "aggressive negotiations" with the Mandalorians. Edan Photonam, ever the philosopher, wavers between the two points, and tries to keep the peace between Queil and the increasingly disgruntled Denobis and Kree.

Of Lornn Varri, there has been no sign since he dove through the Spire portal after the Dark Lady Aldera. The Unified Academy has found great stellar trama in remote star systems associated with the Holocron of Zend -- moons crashed into their parent planets, a white dwarf spent spinning into its red giant neighbor -- but of the Sith knowledge cult, there has been only fleeting evidence.

Adventure Summary

Escape from Jajact

Quest Fios and his padawan Adon'ar Rha have travelled to the frontier world of Jajact to help liberate miners who’ve been pressed into service to the Mandalorians. The Mandos were mining essential ore used in Mandalorian battle armor; shutting it down would hamper the Mando war effort.

They successfully infiltrated the labor camp and defeated local security, set a number of charges, and rescued the miners. They then raced to the surface, where they tasked the miners with getting some air speeders up and running while Quest and Adon held of the approaching Mandalorians. After a tense firefight, the miners and the Jedi were able to escape ... but it was a close thing.

Into the Spider’s Den

Someone is selling Republic military hardware on the black market. Admiral Jimas Veltraa wanted to get to the bottom of it, and asked a former student from his academy days, Trenn “Highlife” Zentine, to assist. He’s tasked Highlife and his crew with going undercover with the [[Star Guppy] and travelling to the shadowport known as Point Nadir. There they were to make contact with the alleged buyer of the Republic hardware, a Toydarian named Rlato, at the Fische’s Pub in the Slips. Their back story was that they’re boss was a Thakwaash crimelord named Aythar Twobrains, a mastermind on Coruscant’s lower reaches who managed to steal a cache of Republic blaster rifles from a loosely fortified police station.

The admiral provided additional help in the form of a BlasTech corporate agent named Lanigiro, who was naturally concern about where his company's military hardware might be sold. He and Baden headed to the pub for the meet, where they found him flanked by his bodyguards, who beefy Gamorians. Meanwhile, Highlife, Zulen Tek and Shim went shopping for an ion gun for their growing fleet.

The meeting went ... poorly. Rlato was overly paranoid, and despite Lanigiro best efforts, he became convinced that the corporate agent and Baden were trying to pull some sort of Republic sting operation on him, thinking that Twobrains sold him out. He ordered his Gamorians to attack, not wanting these threats to report their failure back to their masters.

The subsequent fight saw the Gamorians laying into Lanigiro and Baden with their vibro-axes, dealing heavy damage ... at least until Baden vaporized him with a hail of blaster fire that left little more than a smoldering mass of carbon clinging to a nearby wall. At that point, but pig-men backed off. Baden and Lanigiro tried to talk with the Gamorians to learn more about their boss, but they spoke little common. Instead they chatted with the bartender, who said Rlato was a free agent who used to work for a Hutt, but left to start up his own business a few years ago. The sale did not go down, and the weapons weren't traced, forcing Binary Transports to return to the Admiral to report their failure. In subsequent years, they continued their attempts to infiltrate the black market, ultimately learning that the weapons were originating from Republic ships lost in the ongoing skirmishes with the Mandalorians. Who was finding and selling these weapons, however, remains unknown...

Shattered Space

Rade Gasa spent the intervening years of the False War learning as much as he could about the alien Holocron of Zend. He discovered that the Spires of Xax portal led to the Nexus, an ancient Zebian space station that was capable of manipulating space/time on a galactic scale. It was to this station that the Dark Lady Aldera fled ... and the Jedi Knight Lornn Varri followed.

His research also determined that he could use the holocron to track space/time disturbances created by Force manipulation. The holocron discovered two such disturbances:

  • A star system where an Earth-sized moon was smashed into its gas giant parent. (1.5 years before the Battle of Ord Brokell)
  • A double star system where a white dwarf suddenly crashed into its red giant neighbor, creating a cataclysmic event that showered the system with hard radiations. (1 year before the Battle of Ord Brokell)

In each case, Rade Gasa arrived too late to stop or even observe the event on anything but long range sensors. However, those sensors indicated the presence of several starships in-system. The Holocron of Zend believed that these events are being caused by the Nexus. Its records of the Nexus’ location are lost (a fact Zend steadfastly refuses to acknowledge) but directly observing one of these events may allow it to rediscover it (or as Zend says, develop a proof to verify the station's location).

Their first chance to test this theory came at Honok VII. The seventh planet of the Honok System was inhabited by a primitive crustacean race known as the Krevaaki, the planet is covered in large party by great, shallow oceans. Two small moons – each about ½ the size of Earth’s – continually churn low waves over the planet’s many archipelagos.

Rade Gasa quickly assembled a team to travel to the planet, explaining to fellow Jedi Quest Fios and the Binary Transports crew what was happening. Quest Fios was able to provide further insight into the Nexus; he recognized the description as the space station where his own Jedi Knight vision test took place. In it, he saw the station riding the plasma stream generated by a black hole stripping the life from a red giant. Lornn Varri lay dead at his feet. As the corpse cooled, a Sith who called himself Darth Noblis stood before him, the Dark Lady Aldera at his right hand. He asked Quest Fios to join the Sith Ascendency but Quest refused.

Before they left, Quest began running a query of the Jedi Academy's star charts to see if it could find a system that matched the one in his vision, but it turned up nothing.

Rade Gasa, Quest Fios and his padawan Adon, Baden, Lanigiro, Zulen Tek and the new Binary Transports scout took the Cloudskimmer to Honok VII. Upon entering orbit, they discovered massive gravitational surges registered by both the holocron and the Cloudskimmer's science droid, YE-32B. Zulen and the droid agreed that something was affecting the planet's mass shadow, causing it to intensify even while that of the moons decreased. This caused the moons to begin a death spiral toward the planet.

The detected several starships on the surface, including a small corvette and several Krath-style Sith starfighters. They also found a temple complex consisting of several large obelisks; this was the source of the gravitational fluctuations. They waisted no time -- the Cloudskimmer, flanked by the Jedi in their starfighters, made an attack run on the Sith. They caught them off guard, destroying half the fighters on the ground. Two finally managed to get airborne, but were quickly destroyed.

As the mass shadow grew even stronger, the Jedi knew they had to act -- they turned their weapons on the temple, destroying it and causing whatever was generating the mass shadow to collapse into a micro black hole ... presumably taking the Sith agents inside with it.

Meanwhile the Sith corvette was able to power up its shields and weapon systems and attempted to flee, but wasn't strong enough to repel the combined firepower of the 'Skimmer and the Jedi starfighters.

Unfortunately, Zulen and YE-32B were unable to gather enough data to plot the location of the Nexus; the temple was destroyed before they had a chance to complete their information gathering. After the fight, the Jedi and crew landed to search through the wreckage, but their guns had been too effective, and there was little more than slag left behind.

In subsequent months, Rade Gasa searched the astronomical archives at several major research centers, including on Duro and Coruscant but turned up nothing that matched the description of the black hole and red giant. This led him to two conclusions: either the data had been erased ... or the system lies in the Unknown Regions.

In-Game Notes

In terms of what the players have acquired over the last five years, Binary Transports now has six ships, including the Infinite Regress, the Aeon Harrier and the Cloudskimmer.

Each Jedi has their own starfighter, provided by the Living Force Academy to facilitate their good works in the Outer Rim ... and beyond. The starfighter in question is the Republic Fleet Systems Star Saber XC-01 Starfighter (CL 10, includes a hyperdrive x2, 10-jump memory utility droid). Each character has saved 10,000 credits over the last five years.