Saga 1, GA - 10

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GA-10 were formed by Galactic Protectorate after numerous heavy losses to the GA teams. The founding members were: Amonic, Hral, Rahaj and Arenen. With the Findsman and the Jedi Zdenka, they are The Liberators.

The Swoopers of Corustious

Scene 1: New Blood

The Galactic Protectorate’s war on terrorism had taken a toll on not only several small pirate groups and Black Flail, but on the Department itself. With the decimation of half the teams, Harakan and GA-01 began working towards building a team that could be more resilient. The importance of these teams also meant that the best had to be selected, and several recruits went through rigorous training before the final members of the team were selected.

Three of these soldiers were already members of the New Republic’s armed forces, while the final member of the team was a Chiss named Arenen. He had only entered the army, but had already received praise from his superiors. Since the GP had begun to evolve from a secret intelligence and anti-terrorist operation, to a gathering of black ops teams, the skills of each member would be of vital importance to the success of each mission.

All four members of the new GA-10 assembled in the GP building: Amonic (a Gran Sergeant), Hral Zic (a Herglic Corporal), Arenen (Chiss Private 1st Class) and Rahaj (Human Private 1st Class). They met Harakan, and Amonic was given leadership of the squad, as he was the highest-ranking member of the team. Their first mission was to travel to a remote Mid-Rim planet named Corustious, where reports from a small mining colony described several attacks from a pirate group working for a man named Scabbard. The team was to Search and Destroy.

The group was able to obtain transportation with Croig Seviin, a member of GA-08, who was heading back to his unit on Ylesia, via a route which would take GA-10 to it’s destination.

Upon arrival on the small planet, the Duro gave GA-10 a sub-light comlink, before departing. The group then trekked the few kilometers to the colony reporting the pirate attacks. At the town, the group encountered several weary civilians who described encounters with the swoop-riding pirates, and pointed the team towards the direction the pirates had been attacking from. Because of the time spent traveling and gathering information, the daylight was dwindling and the group needed rest. Thankfully for them, the towns-folk perceived the team as their rescuers, and offered them free board in one of the local hotels.

Scene 2: So It Begins…

When they awoke the next morning, they readied themselves, and began the overland walk to where the pirates had last been seen. After an hour of searching, the team found the remains of a new mining settlement. Investigating the site, they discovered the town had been reduced to a wasteland. Disturbed by the scene before him, and cautious of any danger, Arenen began to look for signs of survivors or hostiles. He had begun searching through one of the homesteads when he saw some light glinting off metal outside the prefab shelter. Peering through the window, he was able to spot two scruffy men on swoops, who appeared to be spying on the group. Unfortunately, they realised that their hiding spot had been discovered, and sped towards the team, blazing away with the blasters mounted on their swoops. Amonic was hurt in the first pass, but Rahaj, (who had undergone training as a field medic) pulled him behind cover, and began treating his wounds.

Meanwhile, Arenen and Hral sprayed the area with bursts of blaster-fire, managing to take down the swoops and their riders. Hral dragged the dead bodies into one of the shelters, and made an effort to hide the remains of the swoops, while Arenen continued his investigation of the town, hoping for a clue as to where the pirates may have gone. There was nothing left behind, so the team decided that Amonic and Rahaj would have to stay behind, while Arenen and Hral resigned themselves tracking the pirates based on the scorch marks their ion engines left on the larger rocks.

It was slowly turning to night by the time the two soldiers tracked the marks back to a path leading into a large forest. Following a winding path, they found a small cadre of pirates. The group surprised the pirates, with Arenen launching a stun grenade into their midst. Most of the pirates were stunned unconscious, and those left standing were gunned down before they could draw their blasters.

Zic and Arenen began tying up the criminals, and demanding who was in charge. They had only just discovered that the cell leader had left on a scouting mission when a Wookie and a small human woman surprised them by throwing a stun grenade between the two. They were woken by Rahaj, who had come upon the scene only a few minutes after they had been stunned. She explained that Amonic had begun to recover, so she started to follow them, but had gotten lost a few times. When she had approached the clearing and seen the Wookie and the woman, she had instantly hidden, and had overheard their conversation. It appeared as though the team had stumbled upon an infiltration attempt by the NRI, and had almost compromised two agents - the two that had stunned Hral and Arenen unconscious. It was now obvious to Arenen and Zic that the agents had helped the pirates escape.

Scene 3: Clean-up Duty

With no captives, the group headed back towards the abandoned village. By the time they got there, it had fallen dark, but Amonic had managed to set up camp in one of the larger buildings. They were all shocked when the building started to shake. Hral gazed out the window and saw a Z-95 Headhunter attacking their shelter! It came in low and started blasting the shelter again. Amonic realized that it must have been the leader coming back to finish the group off.

Hral quickly climbed up to the roof, while Arenen and Rahaj took cover at doors on opposite ends of the structure, and began firing at the ship. As the Headhunter came back for a third pass, Zic used his last grenade, throwing it straight into the ship’s underside. The ship took heavy damage to its ion engines, and crashed through the roof of the shelter. All the pirates on board the ship died on impact, but the pirate leader stumbled out of the ship, crawling towards the unconscious Herglic. His plan to murder the Corporal was spoiled when Arenen finished him with a stun bolt.

In the meantime, Rahaj searched for Amonic in the ruins, and found that he had been protected from the ships collision. With the pirates taken care of, the heroes spent the night resting, before returning to the village they had first visited. The town was jubilant over the heroes’ success, and the pirate leader, Mahaz, was imprisoned. The following day, the team was picked up by a small-chartered ship, and upon their return to Coruscant, Harakan congratulated them for a job well done. They were given a fortnights leave, and taking out a loan, the team was able to purchase an YT-2000 to aid them in their duties.

Next story: Icey Interlude

Trackers: How Noda met the Findsman

Scene 1: Destiny

It had been several days since Noda had faced the Dark Side Warriors that had attacked his orphanage and abducted Dovan. He had not slept since, spending time recovering from his injuries, building a new lightsaber and mediating on the Unifying Force, to help give him direction in his investigation to find Dovan. In the morning after his reflections, he felt a sudden need to walk towards the spaceport. Following his instincts, he let the feeling take him where it may, and trusted in the Force to show him the path.

Meanwhile, a Gand had just arrived on Coruscant. He had completed the basic training of a Findsman Initiate, and was hoping to demonstrate his abilities to his masters in the Aranz Guild, and earn a name. Looking for a place to stay while establishing his name, he began walking from the spaceport, and quickly lost his way in the levels and walkways criss-crossing the city-planet. He had just turned down an alley and discovered it was a dead-end, when a voice called over his shoulder.

“Gimme all youse credits or I plug youse!”

Turning to face his mugger, the Gand saw this encounter as the perfect opportunity to test his skills. It was part of the Findsman path to lean of the Force and it’s powers, and he had specialised in the ability to trick others using those powers. With a wave of his hand, and the words “Go home and rethink your life.” The Gand was watching as the mugger turned around to leave the alley. However, to the Findsman’s embarrassment, the thug walked straight out of the alley and tripped over a small green man. The thug continued to walk away, but the tiny person looked hurt. Rushing to the creature, the Gand helped him up and apologised.

Angrily, the creature asked what the Gand had been doing in the alley in the first place, but realised his rudeness and introduced himself as Noda. The Gand explained what he was doing on Coruscant, and why he was in the alley. “Looking for someone like you, I have been.” said Noda, offering the Findsman a job, and inviting the other back to his abode.

Scene 2: At the End of Every Rainbow Café is a Pot of Clues

Inside Noda’s home, the Findsman was asked some questions, such as how he acquired such strange weaponry, and how he could speak Basic so easily. The Gand responded by saying that his primary weapon was a design of his own, incorporating a stun baton and a quarterstaff into a single weapon. Regarding his fluent Basic, he replied that he was unable to produce the sounds necessary to speak Basic, but he had purchased a device that would translate his voice from Gand to Basic.

At that point, Noda's droid, JL-B8 entered the room, offering refreshments. The Gand declined, but Noda accepted a beer from the caretaker droid. With Noda’s questioning ended, it was time for the Gand to ask some questions. He learned of Noda’s plight, his status as a Jedi Knight, the descriptions of the two Dark Warriors, and quickly agreed to save the kidnapped child. Noda then told him that he had been going to the spaceport because of a feeling he had experienced through the Force.

Noda then gave the Gand ten thousand credits, promising twenty thousand more when the job was done, and suggested the Findsman try checking out the Rainbow Café near the spaceport for clues. He explained that his injuries were still bothering him, especially after being run down by the mugger.

Leaving Noda, the Gand began making his way to the spaceport, but again got lost. Finding an electronics store, he decided to buy some comlinks, a medpac, a tool kit and a pair of electrobinoculars, along with some other useful equipment, and then asked for directions.

Finally on the right path, he entered the Café, and soon learned that it was just a flash bar. Walking up to the bar tender, the Gand purchased a shot of lum, and asked if he knew of anyone matching the description of the two Dark Warriors. The bartender didn’t know anything about them, but told the Findsman that a Devaronian spacer often visited his establishment, and he might know more.

Waiting for the Devaronian proved to be a wasted effort, as the being did not show, but the bartender assured the Gand that he should come back the next evening. The Gand was generous enough to slip the barkeep forty creds. As he was leaving the Rainbow Café, Bahan noticed that one of the humans from the bar had followed him out. Going over to the human to ask if he could be of help seemed to repulse the human, and so the Gand gave up that idea and decided to check out the spaceport itself.

Posing as a janitor, he was able to infiltrate the spaceport, and begin asking questions of the staff working there. Because of the late hour, not that many people were about, and the Findsman was only able to find a single being that would cooperate - a janitor.

There, he learned from the man that the beings he was seeking had been seen at the spaceport around the same date as the time Noda’s orphanage was attacked, and they were going somewhere in the Mid Rim.

Seeing as he could get no further with the investigation that night, the Gand returned to Noda’s orphanage, and was met by the Jedi, who wanted to know all that the Findsman had found out. Although disappointed, JL-B8 showed the Findsman to Noda's library, and the room the Gand was welcome to stay in. However, instead of getting sleep, the Gand went to the library in the hopes of finding datacards on piloting, and simulators to practice what he learned. He was not disappointed.

Scene 3: Breakthrough!

The Findsman continued to study piloting until the late afternoon of the next day, and when the sun was receding beneath the horizon, he once again left Noda’s home to travel to the Rainbow Café. This time he didn’t get lost, and as soon as he entered the bar, the bartender called him over.

He directed the Gand to the Devaronian he had talked about, and the Findsman slipped him another twenty credits, and bought two shots of lum. Walking over to the table the Devaronian was at, the Findsman passed the human he had seen the previous night, and this time he was not at the table alone. Ignoring this, he introduced himself to the spacer, and began asking if he had seen the two Dark Warriors. The Devaronian had been in the bar for a little while already, and was slightly drunk, but he was still alert enough to answer the questions.

He revealed that he had seen them at Terminal 19, the terminal for chartered ships going to a space station just outside the Kashyyyk system. With only rudimentary knowledge of the galaxy as a whole, he was still able to remember that Kashyyyk was in the Mid Rim, and what he had learned from the janitor confirmed this new information.

The Gand rushed out the door, but was stopped by the two men he had seen with the other human. He turned to go the other way, but the human he seemed to repulse was there as well. This human spoke up: “What do you want with the Jedi?”

“What are you talking about? Jedi?” was the Findsman’s reply.

“We heard you asking about Force powers and stuff. We’re members of the Peace Brigade, and we want to know what you were asking about!”

Knowing he was in a dangerous situation, the Findsman hoped he could get away by outsmarting his opponents. He waved his hand again, saying, “Gand is part of the Gand Peace Brigade. Gand is tracking a stupid Jedi.”

The weak willed Peace Brigade officer stood still, then smiled and called off his thugs. “Sorry about the mix up. Good luck killing the Jedi!” and with that, they left.

The Findsman was so pleased with the progress of this job, that when he arrived at Noda’s house, have gave the Jedi an in-depth description of the night’s events. After patting the Findsman on the back and saying “Well done!” in a patronising tone, Noda arranged for tickets on the next charter to the space station from Terminal 19 the following day.

Scene 4: Ship-lag

The Gand and Noda managed to catch their flight, and they had spent several days relaxing aboard the charted liner. JL-B8 had been left in charge of minding the children, who had been warned to behave, or they wouldn’t get any of “the good stuff”. The two had been worried about being followed by members of the Peace Brigade, and so had not spent much time outside of their cabins, but it had been several days with no sign of trouble, so they agreed to go to the swimming pool to cool off. They had just stepped out of their rooms when a shot rang out in the hall.

Realising he was not dead, and recovering from the sound of the blast while in a hangover, Noda opened his eyes and saw three thugs not far from where he and the Gand stood. The Findsman quickly filled him in that these men were the agents of the Peace Brigade he had met the other night. They claimed that they had checked it out, and there was no such thing as the Gand Peace Brigade, and so had followed the heroes onto the liner to see what they were up to. Since Noda had been twirling his lightsaber in his hand when he and the Gand had left their room, there was no need for any more pretence.

Not wanting to risk being shot, Noda and the Findsman charged the three thugs, with the Gand finding an opening in his opponent’s guard, and stunning him into unconsciousness. However, Noda tripped on the carpet and went sailing through the air. Still in a drunken daze, he forgot to switch off his lightsaber, and when he flew past the officer and his henchmen, they were sliced in half.

Shocked at the Jedi’s stupidity, the Gand stood stunned for a moment before taking control of the situation. He pulled the bodies of the thugs into their rooms, tying up the still-breathing thug. He then picked up Noda, from where he had fallen, and made his way to the Captain’s lounge. He described their encounter to the Captain, and was fortunate to find the Captain was a Jedi-wannabe, who quickly and concisely destroyed all the evidence. After that, the Findsman and Noda stayed in their rooms until they reached the space station.

Scene 5: Another Showdown

After debarking the liner, Noda and the Findsman made their way to the information center and tried to find out anything they could on the two Dark Warriors. However, Noda was once again drunk, and demanded beer. The Findsman had to pull him aside and remind him of their job. Trying again, Noda called for all Black Flail agents to be placed in his custody. By this stage, the attendant was getting scared, so Bahan spoke up. After calming the woman, he was unfortunately able to learn that the two kidnappers had left the space station three weeks ago. That meant the eyewitnesses had been mistaken about the two getting onto the charter. They were, in fact, disembarking from it.

Dejectedly knowing that they had come to a dead end in the investigation, the two heroes began to mope in the corner, when they realised they had been surrounded. Looking through the group of five toughs, Noda recognised three as ruffians that GA-01 had already had dealings with - Sammy the Squid of Myrkr, Cassen, the woman from Nar Shaada, and Raz, the swoop leader from Myrkr. The two other men seemed to be simple Black Flail cultists.

He asked what the three toughs were doing with Black Flail, and the response was the same for each. Members of GA-01 had ruined them, and they were seeking revenge through Black Flail. They also divulged that their boss Aldus knew that either GA-01 or Noda would be coming, and had arranged this ‘meeting’ long before Noda and the Findsman arrived. The Gand tried to reason with them, saying he wasn’t part of the GP, but they ignored him. With the preliminaries over, Cassen fired at the Findsman, and the two cultists charged him, while Sammy and Raz assaulted Noda.

The Gand found keeping himself out of harms way difficult, but the stun baton he was using gave him time to prepare defences from the thugs. Also, Cassen was a poor shot, and never even got close to hitting him. Meanwhile, Noda had tripped again, cutting Sammy in half, and Raz was having a hard time fighting while chucking up his guts.

A blow to the head from the Findsman to one of the cultists knocked one out of the fight, but he still had another thug attacking him, and Cassen’s aim was getting better.

With only one opponent attacking him, Noda simply beheaded Raz and moved on to the cultists, making short work of them. Cassen ran for her life, but the Gand overtook her and knocked her unconscious.

By this stage, the security forces had started to arrive, and they began a cleanup, with Noda and the Gand having to remain behind to give details about the deaths, and place charges against Cassen. Noda saw that bodies were being taken away, so with a wave of his hand, he suddenly had permission to search them. The only thing he could find was a few credits, which he gave to the Findsman, and a key to a room.

Scene 6: The Next Step

Going to the room and searching through the draws, Noda and the Findsman found a flimsy of docking bay fees for a ship name the Moldy Oldie, and travel documents from Corustious and Ison. Using the room to rest in, they planned to go to Corustious first, before investigating Ison. The two then slept soundly, needing the rest after their most recent ordeal.

In the morning, the Jedi and the Findsman made their way to the Moldy Oldie. It was a run down skipray that looked like it was on its last legs. Activating the navi-comp, the Gand saw that the coordinates for both Ison and Corustious were already entered, and so asked permission to leave the dock.

The port master replied asking for their code, before giving permission to leave. Noda stuck his head over the Gand’s, shouting “Eat our space dust!” before pushing the Findsman’s hand over the ion engine activators. The Moldy Oldie flew out of the space station, and knowing that they would be in BIG trouble if they dallied any more, the Findsman set the navi-comp, and they were on their way to Corustious.

Trackers: Wrong Turn at Corustious

Scene 1: Tolerance

After spending several days in hyperspace, Noda and the Gand finally entered the Corustious system, and approached their final destination. It took the Gand several attempts before he was able to establish communications with the planet, and request permission to land. Permission was granted, and the Gand was able to land the Moldy Oldie well.

Once out of the ship, a man approached them, introducing himself as the owner of the spaceport. As usual, Noda demanded all Black Flail agents be turned over to him, as well as all beer and spice. The spaceport owner had no idea what Noda was talking about, I mean, what is spice? Anyway, the Gand hurried the conversation along by asking if the man had seen anyone suspicious lately. The owner told them that almost no one came to Corustious, except for some pirates, and the military group that wiped most of the pirates out. He thought they called themselves GA-10 or something.

The Gand was about to turn around and get back into the Moldy Oldie when Noda asked where the bodies of the pirates were. He was informed that they were in the next town over, about a hundred kilometres from the spaceport, which when Noda thought about it, was just a cement slab with a big ‘X’ painted on it. Meanwhile, the Gand was wondering about Noda’s mental stability.

Walking through the town, the Gand was able to spy a land speeder rental business. The two heroes were told about the latest speeder technology, which appeared to be outdated by at least twenty years, and eventually, they and the salesman came to an agreement. After several hours with the Gand putting the pedal to the metal and achieving a speed of twenty kilometres an hour, the two came upon the next village. This time, the Gand did all the talking, and found out that nearly all the pirates had either fled or been killed. However one had been captured and was locked up in the Sheriff’s office.

The Findsman and the Jedi made their way to the makeshift prison, and the Findsman decided that hedid not really feel like filling out release forms, so he simply waved his hand and told the Sheriff to go to sleep. The simpleton was only too happy to comply.

In the only cell, the pirate was cowering, scared for his life. The Gand demanded he tell them what he knew of the two Dark Warriors. The man, Mahaz, claimed he didn’t know anything, and when asked where his fallen comrades were, refused to talk. By this stage, Noda had begun to lose his temper, and began muttering “Red Rum, Red Lum!” For shock value, the Gand threatened to leave the pirate alone with the Jedi if he didn’t speak. Almost wetting himself, the pirate bargained that he would take them to the bodies if they freed him and left him alone afterwards.

Agreeing, Noda sliced the cell door off and the man followed them out the door, nearing a stage of stress akin to a heart attack. As an afterthought, Noda left the sleeping Sheriff some cash to pay for a new cell door.

Scene 2: Utility

Mahaz led the two trackers to a mass grave that the people of Corustious had dug for the dead pirates. From there, Noda, Mahaz and the Findsman dug up the grave and did a thorough search of the cadavers. The Gand was able to sneak a few creds into his cloak, and Noda discovered a security card to some type of installation in a secret pocket. Disappointed that there were no more clues, the three unlikely companions reburied the pirate bodies. Noda decided that life on the planet was punishment enough for Mahaz, so he let the pirate go, while the Gand was prepping the run-down speeder.

Again the two found the long trip to the spaceport tedious, but it gave them a chance to rest after all that hard digging. The two returned the speeder, and clambered aboard the Moldy Oldie, hoping to leave the dirt-ball of a planet behind them. The Gand decided he would follow Noda’s lead this time, and so when instructed to set a course for Ison, he did so. However, they had just entered hyperspace when the Gand heard a strange sound come from the engines. He ran to the rear of the ship to find the hyperdrive systems on fire! Putting it out as quickly as he could, he found mud had worked its way into the internal systems of the ship. Work began on clearing muck out of the life support and other vital systems, and both hoped that they would not be stuck in hyperspace forever, or die when they crashed into a planet.

Scene 3: Ilum Rediscovered

The heroes were stuck in hyperspace for several days, and the Findsman had given up hope of survival, but the Jedi knew that this was a working of the Force, and so stayed calm. On the fourth day of the trip, late in the afternoon, an alarm in the ship sounded, and the Gand bounded to the cockpit to see what was causing it. Through the transparisteel, he could see a planet looming in front of the skipray.

Taking evasive actions, the Gand was able to pull the ship out of a head-on collision, and even managed to land the ship in the planet’s strong winds. Noda then felt a surge in the Force, and decided that the two of them should investigate it. Leaving the ship, the two used their electrobinoculars to search the horizon, and the Gand saw a small cave almost a kilometre away from their position. Neither had any protective gear to fend off the extreme temperatures of the ice planet, but they persevered, and began their journey to the cave, which also seemed to be the source of the Force surge. One hundred meters from the opening, the heroes were assaulted by two strange creatures that Noda recalled were Gorgodons.

The beasts charged the surprised Force Sensitives, and a bloody battle began. Noda slashed at the beast attacking him, but his blade did little damage to its thick hide. The Gand had encountered similar difficulties, and the creature overcame him, carving great slashes across the Findsman’s chest. Noda saw his companion in distress, and focused his energy. Channelling the Force through himself, the small being was able to find the strength to slay the beast trying to bite him, then ran to help his comrade. With the power of the force flowing through him, Noda soon dispatched the other beast, and was able to move the weakening Gand to the shelter of the cave.

Inside, the duo found an enormous array of crystals growing from the walls of the cave, and both saw the drawings depicting Jedi in all manner of situations. The Battle of Ruusan was pictured, along with Jedi training exercises and teachings, and other confrontations Jedi where had to deal with the Dark Side of the Force.

Scene 4: Ilum to Ossus to Ison

In the shelter of the cave, Noda and the Gand rested overnight until they were both well, and then left the cave, taking some of the rare crystals with them. They did not return to the skipray straightaway, though, as the Gand informed Noda that the damage to the hyperdrive could not be repaired, and they would have to find a replacement somewhere on this planet. Their chances of finding another ship on this planet were rare, as it did not appear on any of the star charts, and the stars could hardly be seen through the continual snowstorms anyway.

Noda sat and entered a meditative state, focusing on the planet’s past. He could see that ten years previously, a ship had crashed on the planet; it’s pilot dying from exposure to the cold. Noda grieved for the man, but was glad to see that the ship was only over a ridge, no more than a kilometre from their position.

Finding a safe path to the snowdrift was difficult, but the Gand had been trained in all manner of weather conditions, and led the way to the place Noda had indicated. There, the small Jedi called on the Force, pushing the snow back from them, and revealing a ship long buried. The Gand began to work immediately, and the job of removing the vital component was completed in minutes. The heroes quickly made their way back to the ship, where the Gand worked to fix the hyperdrive, and Noda sat down to have something to eat. When the Gand finally went for food, there was very little left. Noda claimed he had eaten very little, and although the Gand was still unsatisfied, he continued preparations for leaving the planet.

The Gand expertly flew the ship out of the planet’s atmosphere, and took note of the constellations, as Noda had indicated his wish to return to the planet at a later date. He then set a course for the nearest solar system, and the two men busied themselves with retrieving and reviewing the data contained on the ship’s computers. Most of the data was encrypted, and after a few days had passed, the Gand felt he was getting closer to solving the code, when the navi-comp recognised their position near the Ossus system. Leaving his work, the Gand then set a course for the Ison system into the hyperdrive, crossed his fingers and flicked the switch to activate the faster-than-light engines.

Next Story: To Catch A Thief

The Disputed Gem - Survivor

Scene 1: Arrangements

GA-10 was called to the GP headquarters where Vandmir sent them through to Harakan’s office. Harakan briefed the team on a remote Outer-Rim planet named Galatia, where the sudden discovery of precious gases and minerals had led to a conflict of arms between three factions disputing ownership. Each faction had a true claim to the planet, but up until then, each force has rejected ownership due to tax schemes and border disputes associated with it. The three factions involved in the armed conflict were the Verpine and Arconan mining institutes, the Galac Corp conglomerate, and a new business called Tech Men Inc.

Captain Duneers, who had been sent to the planet with a force of one hundred soldiers and five diplomats on a mission to resolve the situation and to oversee the distribution of land between the factions. He had been on Galatia for two weeks meeting the commanders of each force in an attempt to stop the fighting and restore peace. Unfortunately he had not been heard from in three days, as all communications with the planet have ceased. Captain Tappalis had been assigned to investigate, and had taken a force of seventy-five soldiers and two diplomats, as they are all that can be spared for this increasingly tense situation. GA-10 was assigned as back-up, acting as reinforcements.

The team was ordered to take their YT-2000, the Wild Dragon, which Harakan had provided with a waiver, masking the transponder code. Harakan warned the team that if the transponder was discovered or destroyed, the group would have to pay for its replacement. Continuing with his briefing, he explained that once they had entered Galatia’s atmosphere, they were to communicate with Tappalis via comlink, then arrange a meeting place to support his troops. Harakan clearly stated that they were not return without having seen Tappalis and having helped stabilise the situation on Galatia.

Once the meeting was over, the heroes left his office, only to meet Z-1, a Unit Zed droid, who greeted them, “Good morning sirs, madam”. As Hral Zic passed the droid, sparks of electricity shoot up its neck to its head. The droid began to pull a blaster rifle from behind its back, but the team saw the action, and Zic was able slam the droid, exposing its neck. Amonic and Arenen both swung at the droid, but both attacks were ineffective. Rahaj, on the other hand, struck the machine with a solid blow, and the droid’s vision-receptors went dim as it collapsed on the floor. Arenen quickly turned the droid off, as Harakan ran into the hall. The team informed him of the droid’s malfunction, and mechanics rushed to the scene.

Hoping that the situation with Z-1 would be resolved internally, the group headed for their ship. It was given the once-over before taking off. Then it was a simple job for Hral to plot a course for Galatia, and the ship entered hyperspace.

Scene 2: Galatia's Atmosphere

The heroes came out of hyperspace and saw Galatia in the distance. The planet looked dark and grim, with clouds overlapping some of the land. The planet had almost no water visible from the surface, and looked uninviting to say the least. As the heroes neared the planet, Hral stopped the ship to initiate the sub-space comlink in an attempt to communicate with Captain Duneers or Captain Tappalis. He froze in motion and said to the heroes, "Comlink channels are blocked, I sense trouble".

Taking the lead, Amonic ordered Hralzic to continue to the planet, stating that they cannot return until they have seen one of the Captains. On approach the heroes saw what is blocking communications, two large space stations, each with an orbit on the opposite side of the planet. This close to the planet the heroes could also see tiny areas of green fertile land and the flashes they associated with large-scale battles. Arenen suggested that any settlements should be located near water, and Hral piloted the Wild Dragon to the closest oasis.

Landing in a crater, in the middle of a recent battle scene, Arenen scanned the area with the ship’s sensors, which at first revealed nothing. Leaving the ship, the heroes started a kilometer walk north to the green field they landed near. They have covered half of that distance when they reached a group of foothills, which blocked their view of the green valley on the other side. The heroes were so preoccupied with marching, that they didn’t hear the approach of an assault shuttle until it came over the hills from the valley and into sight. As it drew near to them, they heard a robotic voice warning them from the shuttle, "Bbbzzzttt, halt there or we will shoot". Unsure of how to proceed, Hral, Rahaj and Arenen looked to Amonic, but saw that he had started a hard run to cover in the hills. Following their Sergeant, they run to a crater where they met an insectoid creature, whom Arenen realized was a Verpine. The Verpine greeted them quickly and led them into a small tunnel hidden in the crater, which took them underground and to safety. The Verpine went down the tunnel first, followed by Zic, then Arenen, Rahaj and Amonic. On the descent, the Verpine warned the heroes of a five-meter fall at the end of the three and a half meter tunnel.

However, Hral stopped at the opening of the jump. When Arenen reached him, he asked why the Herglic had stopped. Hral claimed he was stuck, and Arenen, who couldn’t see the hole, gave the Herglic a powerful kick to force him through. Unfortunately Hral attempted to block and actually deflected the kick into his own head. Stunned, he then fell the five meters down and hit his head on a rock. The rest of the heroes followed after him, falling down the hole gracefully. The Verpine then went down a tunnel leading to the valley. Arenen went to apologise to Hral, but was interrupted when Hral’s fist smacked him in the face. Arenen fell to the ground, but Hral, who had vented his anger at being kicked, was now content to follow Rahaj and Amonic behind the Verpine. Arenen got up, with a large bruise on his blue face, and began to follow his teammates. He was not happy.

Scene 3: Verpine Mines

The Verpine led the heroes through a complex tunnel system that ran past several veins of precious minerals. Eventually he took them to a small cavern, where they encountered five more Verpines. All five were seated and the Verpine scout took his place, sitting on a wooden stool. Arenen and Amonic began to ask questions, but the Verpine asked them to wait a moment. The insects’ antennae worked rapidly and none of the heroes had a clue what that was for. The Verpine were actually communicating with each other through complex radio waves they could send and receive. When they were finished, the Verpine leader introduced himself as Veernip and the scout as Smippine. He then told the heroes that two ships from Captain Tappalis’ division had landed 30km north of their position, and Tappalis and most of his men went 6km due west to meet with members of Galac Corp.

Before any more questions could be asked, the cave began to shake. The other Verpine determined that their rescue of GA-10 had resulted in the discovery of their secret mine by the robot forces of Galac Corp. Smippine told the heroes to leave the cavern with his fellows, as reasoning with the Galac Corp or the Tech Men would be fruitless and that they had better head north quickly as robot forces had just begun a sweep the tunnel system.

Leaving the Verpine to flee south, the team headed through the northern tunnels. Thankfully, Arenen had remembered the directions the team had been given and they made it to the northern tunnel. As they came to the end of the passage, the group noted a room built into the rock wall of the tunnel. Arenen kicked down the flimsy wooden door and saw several shelves with dozens of glittering silver canisters on them. He went to one and looked inside to find a heavy and very fine green “dust”. Realising that the dust was incredibly valuable, he grabbed a canister. Both he and Hral took as much as they could reasonably carry.

Rahaj, in the meantime, had run ahead and out of sight, and for good reason, because a swoop-riding droid came zooming down the tunnel. Arenen acted quickly and destroyed it in a burst of fire, then began running down the passage just keeping ahead of the droids. Getting tired, Arenen and Hral stopped and turned, firing on the two M-3PO’s following them. When they caught up to Rahaj, they saw the tunnel exit blocked by a boulder, which Amonic luckily managed to move. They found themselves on the northern side of the hills and looking down into the valley, which was full of small trees, wild grass and… droids. Swarming the vale were dozens of M-3PO’s, Destroyer Droids and K-4 security droids. Amonic saw that a treacherous cliff lined the eastern side of the vale, and a river ran through the western side. The group had to go north, past the foothills at the end of the vale.

Scene 4: By Night

Arenen saw that droids guarded the vale well, and were establishing a permanent structure in the middle of the vale. Watching intently, Amonic was able to see one of the three assault ships in the vale being loaded with ten K-4’s, ten M-3PO’s, three assassin droids, five Unit Zeds and two Destroyers, not to mention a protocol droid and an R-4. Three swoop riding droids also entered the ship just before it took off in a northerly direction. Relieved that those droids must have been most of the droids in the vale, Amonic relaxed a bit. He told the group that when night came they would crawl in the tall grass along the banks of the western river so as any noise they made would be covered by the sound of the water on the rapids. When night came about two hours later, the group put Amonic’s plan into action. About twenty minutes of crawling took the group to where two K-4s were. Amonic suggested sneaking quietly past them. He did so, but Rahaj accidentally cursed when she jabbed herself on a rock. The K-4s noticed and asked her to surrender. Amonic, via comlink, quickly and quietly arranged with Hral and Arenen an attack. Amonic counted to three then all three of them jumped up and fired. Arenen and Amonic missed, but Hral blew one apart with his blaster rifle. They fired at Arenen but missed. Arenen finished the other droid with rapid fire from his light repeating blaster. At this point other droids had heard the shots and were coming to investigate.

The four heroes then broke into a sprint towards the hill to the north. Hral trailed several meters and when he saw that the rest of the group was about to run into some more K-4’s, he decided to brave the rapids. He leapt into the river leaving the others to fire at the two K-4s up ahead. Arenen with the help of his two comrades brought the droids down but one of the two remaining assault shuttles had taken off and began to advance on them. The three heroes continued running and where nearly at the foothills when they encountered more droids. They took down the droids again but the assault shuttle was hovering above them by that time. It fired a shot from its turbo laser, which just missed Arenen. Continuing to run, the assault ship trailed and fired again, this time at Amonic. It hit and in a blaze of smoke and flame Amonic fell. Not dead, but horribly wounded, he continued to crawl to the mountains at an incredibly slow rate.

Seeing his pain Rahaj went to help, but Arenen kept running. The ship landed next to the fallen soldiers, and several droids came out and captured Rahaj and Amonic. The ship then took off looking for Arenen. Its scanners found him hiding behind a large rock at the base of the rocky hills and asked him to come out and surrender. Arenen then ran towards the path that was the only safe way through the mountains. Ten meters later he turned a corner in the hill’s path and encountered M-3PO’s - all with blaster rifles pointed at him. “Halt”, they ordered. Arenen fired his light repeating blaster at a droid. The remaining nine repeated their request, took firing positions and made sure their rifles were loaded and set for stun. Arenen fired twice more before running towards the rapids.

The shuttle landed, nearly blocking the path Arenen had taken. Jumping into the water, he was swept away past the hills into the wastelands on the other side of them. As the current dragged him along, he went over a waterfall, which was very, very painful. Arenen luckily bounced off a rock using his head and was dragged underwater, knocking every rock along the way. He eventually made it to the surface, but he found it hard to swim with all the weight he was carrying. Using the last of his strength, he managed to get across to the west side.

Knowing that this was the route Hral had taken, he looked for the Herglic, and saw him twenty meters downstream. Hral was hanging from a branch of a dead tree over the river in case any droids or Arenen came. Hral muttered under his breath and pulled himself out of the river. With the threat of more droids coming quickly disappearing, Hral decided it was time to find shelter for the night. The two had not gone far when they found a small overhang that would give them cover and protect them from the harsh environment.

Scene 5: Trekking

Arenen tried to distract Hral from their mission for a while by talking about his past, but Hral ordered the bloody and broken Chiss to march the 27km to the landing site of Captain Tappalis’ convoy.

As the two neared their rendezvous, Arenen called out to the soldiers he saw in the distance. Hral tried to stop him, but it was too late. The soldiers that he had seen were all Tech Men Inc employees. The two tried to retreat and hide, but in only a few moments, several speeders of armed men landed in the area and began searching for them. As this part of the terrain was mainly desert, the soldiers found Hral and Arenen easily.

Hral surrendered and was shuttled back to the Tech Men Inc base immediately by half of the soldiers. However, Arenen put up a struggle, and against the odds, was able to knock out the remaining soldiers. Taking one of the uniforms from the soldiers, Arenen took their speeder and journeyed to the camp to find Hral.

He was in pretty poor condition though, and began searching for medpacs in the barracks, as well as maps of the camp so that he could learn where Hral would be incarcerated. He had almost given up hope when he came upon a map detailing the officer’s quarters where the medpacs were kept. Also, the detention block was close to that building. Upon entering though, alarms began to go off, and through sheer luck he was able to run into a cave the camp had been built near.

He lost himself in the twists and turns of the caverns, but he could always hear the soldiers hot on his heels. He was about to collapse from exhaustion when he saw what looked to be a group of Verpine…

Next Story: Head Trip

Trackers: The Path to Truth

Scene 1: Atmosphere and Ambience

The Gand had set the hyperdrive co-ordinates correctly, and the Moldy Oldie returned to normal space just outside the atmosphere of Ison. The duration of the trip from Ilum had mostly been spent in quiet, as the Gand was still upset with Noda for eating so much of the food supplies, no matter how much Noda denied the allegations. At any rate, the Gand was still working on decrypting the files he had saved to his datapad. The encryption was a tough one to crack, and the Gand’s measly experience with security codes of this type made his efforts all the more difficult.

He was again distracted from his studies when the ship was hailed by the authorities on the planet below. Before either the Gand or Noda could respond, there was a brief burst of static on the comlinks and then the authorities repeated their request for the ship to identify itself and its reason for travelling to Ison. The Jedi responded by giving details of their mission, and how the trail of the two Dark Warriors had led to the planet below. The authorities then supplied the Gand with an approach vector, and the Findsman piloted the ship towards the landing area.

Suddenly, a blast of laser fire flew past the transparisteel view port. Jumping to the sensors, Noda saw that they were being approached by a Firespray-31. It was moving at top speed, and a weapon lock had been activated. Taking evasive manoeuvres, the Gand was able to dodge another volley of shots from the ship, and take aim with the ion cannons on the Moldy Oldie. He scored a hit, overloading the engines of the ship, and causing it to explode.

However, he was unable to celebrate this victory, as Mahaz stumbled out of a storage locker near the cockpit, and started wailing about their impending death. Meanwhile, Noda had seen another Firespray-31 approaching them at 12 o’clock, and raced to the laser cannons to defend their ship. The Gand also saw the attack ship nearing them, and began to fire the ion cannons again. Working in unison, the two heroes were able to destroy the ship attacking them, but not without losing power to the ion engines.

The three adventurers prepared for the crash landing that was to come, and soon they ploughed into the ground in the middle of the jungle. They had barely been able to discern where the closest part of civilisation was, but took a moment from the evacuation of the ship to question Mahaz. He was still scared of them, especially Noda, and admitted that it had been him who had eaten from their food supplies. He explained that he had stowed on-board when Noda had fallen asleep, and had just wanted to get as far away from Corustious as he could.

Promising to guide the Jedi and Findsman to the old pirate base on Ison he had worked at, Mahaz led the team through the jungle. They had only travelled a few kilometres when a huge explosion sounded behind them. Turning back, the three saw the Moldy Oldie go up in flames. Listening carefully, Noda could hear the shouts of a search party approaching their position.

Scene 2: Taming the Wilderness

The group continued onwards, travelling in the direction Mahaz had claimed led to the pirate base. The Findsman took rear, hoping to cover their trail. He could now hear the search party approaching, and he stopped Noda and Mahaz when they found a path leading through the trees.

There the trio waited in hiding, prepared to attack the pirates once they appeared in the open space of the path. They did not have to wait long, as the pirates were familiar with the terrain and suspected the heroes of travelling to their base in the first place.

As soon as the pirates passed by their hiding spot, Noda let out a short battle cry and jumped at the criminals. Mahaz tried to yell a warning, but it was cut-off by the sound of stun shots coming from the Findsman’s pistol. In only a matter of moments Noda had cut down all the pirates and the Gand was having a stern word to Mahaz about his loyalties.

Rushing, the trio were able to bury the pirates, and the Findsman found a comlink on one of them. Taking it from the body, he cautiously handed it to Mahaz, telling him that if the base wanted a status update, Mahaz was to answer it. One wrong word and he would have to deal with one very upset and sobering Jedi. From there, the heroes trekked on but this time, Noda abruptly stopped them. Listening carefully, the Findsman and Mahaz could hear the roars of some wild beast. Mahaz was the one to identify it: “May the Force protect us! It’s a Gundark!”

The group turned and ran, with Mahaz in the lead. Unfortunately, Mahaz had entered a state of panic, and led them to a cliff edge. Looking down, the Gand estimated the drop to be about eight meters. Doing the math, he found he could survive the drop, but it would be an excruciatingly painful landing. He was about to suggest they all turn back when the Gundark came bursting through the tree line. Noda shouted at his two unlikely companions to jump, and he would catch up with them when the Gundark was defeated.

Mahaz did not linger and jumped. The Findsman followed only moments later, and landed badly on his foot, twisting his ankle. Looking to his left, he saw that Mahaz’s fall had been much worse. The poor pirate had landed on his head and broken his neck.

The Gand couldn’t dally, and limped in the direction the group had been headed, hoping to find shelter and a place to watch over the pirate base. Even if Noda had died and the job was a bust, he’d need a ship to get off planet, and the closest ships were at the criminal landing site.

Scene 3: Hiding and Recuperation

He had travelled close to a kilometre when he spotted the landing strip the pirates were using. Looking around, he found a cave to shelter in and began administering a small amount of bacta to his ankle to speed up the healing process. After the ordeal he had been through that day, it was no surprise when he fell asleep.

The Findsman was awoken by the sound and smell of food cooking near him. He was startled for a moment, but quickly came to realise that Noda had found him. It was apparent that the Gundark had severely mauled the Jedi, so the Gand immediately rushed to his aid. He began asking how Noda had found him, what had happened to the Gundark, and if they were still in danger, but the Jedi Master replied that he had slain the beast. It had taken so long to catch up because once the beast was slain, he and gone to track both Mahaz and the Gand, and had found Mahaz’s body and spent timing given him a proper burial. He then had difficulties tracking the Gand due to the heavy underbrush and leaf-litter. The only help he had was that he knew the Findsman’s Force-signature, and had used this to trace the Gand’s path.

He had found the Gand asleep, and did not want to disturb him, so instead went to gather food. He had also begun focusing the Force on his own injuries to hurry the healing process on his cuts and bruises. It as approaching night and so the two decided to get some more rest, before planning their attack on the pirate facility in the morning.

Trackers: The Jigsaw is Complete

Scene 1: Patient Preparations

As the new day dawned, Noda and the Findsman awoke to the sounds of loud laughter coming from the nearby pirate compound. They were lucky they not had yet been discovered, and realised that their delay in recovering from their adventures the previous day meant that security in the base would be doubled.

After having a filling breakfast, they two heroes settled into their task of preparing the attack. They began by taking in the scope of the compound, counting the number of pirates they saw, trying to identify the purpose of building, as well as searching for anything else they thought worthy of notice. They only allowed themselves to be distracted by lunch and dinner that night.

The following day, this was repeated, but as dusk approached, the Gand could already see the pattern of how the pirate cell operated, as well as noticing that the criminals were no longer worried of an attack. Upon conferring with the Jedi, the two decided this was the best time to infiltrate the base.

Scene 2: Stealth Problems

As night fell, the heroes saw most of the pirates enter a single building on the farthest side of the base. Using the cover of night, they slowly made their way towards the encampment, keeping to the shadows, and being careful to avoid making any loud or sudden noise. Their approach took them closer to the landing field, and Noda saw two pirates were standing guard over two stationary Firespray-31’s.

The two heroes were almost upon their targets before they were seen. The first pirate quickly ran towards an alarm switch, while the second started taking pot-shots at the heroes with his pistol. Noda called on the Force to gain a burst of speed, and he caught up with the guard, knocking him unconscious with the hilt of his lightsaber. Meanwhile, the Findsman had stunned his opponent into unconsciousness with his close-range stun-staff.

The two adventurers tied up the pirates, and moved towards the next building – the Air Traffic Controller. There was no one inside, so they locked the pirates into a closet, and then searched through the computer databases for any information there could be on the rest of the base. They didn’t find anything regarding the base, but discovered that there had been several shipments of an unknown cargo to Coruscant and the Space Station.

The next building that the duo snuck in to was obviously an office building. They had seen no one enter the building before they attacked, so it was clear for them to enter, although they were still highly cautious. Inside, they found files of bounties stolen in raids lying in cabinets, and there were notices from moles working on cruisers, helping the pirates and getting a cut of the creds. Noda stuffed these in his pockets, and then consulted with the Gand on which building to investigate next. One was a large complex that did not appear to have any windows. It was much larger than the other buildings (excluding the height of the Air Traffic Control), and the heroes had been able to hear an audible clanging coming from within while they had staked out the compound. The other building was nearly the same size as the one they were in, and it had been the building that most of the pirates had entered earlier in the evening.

The Gand thought they should search the larger building first, as he had some strong suspicions about what was occurring inside, and that they would initially meet with a lot less opposition if they investigated that building rather than the smaller one. Noda saw the logic with that choice, so the two snuck across the compound to their next target.

Scene 3: Target Practise

The two walked down the first corridor of the building, hoping for stealth, but they were almost immediately confronted by two shocked guards. Before Noda or the Gand could react, one of the guards pushed a button in his hand. The Jedi and Findsman were about to start running when they noticed that no alarm had gone off. Smiling to each other, they turned and charged at the pirates. As with their previous opponents, Noda and the Gand overcame them, stunning them unconscious, and only receiving a few bruises in return.

They tied up the criminals, and then continued walking further into the building. They were about to walk through a small alcove in the building when they both heard a soft buzzing sound. Noda activated his lightsaber so the two could clearly see the origin of the buzzing in the dark. Unfortunately for them, it was two assassin droids only a few meters before them. The two heroes began an attack, praying to their gods to survive the droids’ onslaught. Noda found fighting his opponent with his lightsaber difficult, and noticed that the Gand was having a harder time. The droid’s armour plating was deflecting most of the Findsman’s shots, and in the meantime, the assassin had gotten a rocket-lock on the Force user.

The Gand called on the Force, using it to keep the rocket away from him, but it still had a lock, and kept coming back at him. Noda also called on the Force to help him overcome the assassin he was facing. He was able to identify a weakness in the droid’s armour, and plunge his lightsaber into the machine, blowing it up.

The explosion blew up the rocket that had been hounding the Findsman, and threw Noda back against the wall. The Jedi lay still for a moment, as the explosion and the hard blows the droid had landed on him were causing him great pain, but the Jedi Master knew he could not give in. He got up quickly, and worked with the Gand to destroy the other assassin droid. All that was left of it was an empty husk.

Aware that there may be more assassin droids coming, the two heroes continued moving through the building, although this time, they were more alert and knew not to be so overconfident. However, the building seemed to be unoccupied, and they didn’t encounter anymore activated droids.

In the heart of the building though, was what appeared to be a droid manufacturing plant. There were models of the Jedi Hunters that Noda’s apprentice had faced, as well as an assortment of other droids designed for combat. Knowing that it was probably the two guards they had encountered earlier in the building that had activated the two assassins, and that the other pirates might have controllers for some of the other droids there, the two went about destroying the entire factory, from the computer terminals to the robotic production line to the droids themselves.

However, after the fights and the destruction of the factory, both Noda and the Gand were exhausted. Noda looked at his chrono and saw that there were still several hours until the sun would rise in the horizon, so suggested that they rest and prepare for the encounter they knew they would have inside the last building. The Findsman was only too happy to agree, so he and Noda dragged the two unconscious pirates back to the Air Traffic Control tower, and threw them in the closet with the other two unconscious pirates they had first fought. They then sat down at a window overlooking the compound, wanting to be prepared if any of the remaining criminals awoke and discovered evidence of their attack.

Scene 4: Finished

Thankfully, it appeared as though none of the pirates had been disturbed by the fighting at the landing pad or inside the factory, and after a while, Noda voiced his concern that the two of them not dawdle any further.

Again the two heroes moved quietly to the last building, which was now easily identified as the barracks. They made their way through the ground level, with the Gand doing some math. In the time they had spent scoping out the base, he and Noda had identified twelve inhabitants, and they had already taken four of them out of action. That left eight more pirates in this building, divided on this level and the next.

Noda and the Findsman took each of the ground level rooms one-by-one. Most of the rooms were empty, but they found three of the criminals sleeping in rooms of their own. The Gand had problems keeping quiet with the large amount of litter and bounty scattered about the floor of each of these rooms, and so inevitably, the pirates were awoken. These pirates were much hardier than those the heroes had faced outside, and there was no recourse but to kill them to keep them quiet.

From there, they moved to the upper level, and down a corridor that had only two doorways. The Gand and the Jedi decided to split up, preventing pirates from awakening and surrounding them. Noda took the door to the left while the Findsman turned right.

Inside the room on the left was a large circular table with several chairs around it. There wasn’t anything of importance there, Noda noted, just some food scraps probably left from the criminals’ dinner. On the other end of the room were two doorways. Taking the one on the right, Noda found a toilet, but inside the room on the left, there were two sleeping Twi’leks.

Thinking calmly, Noda woke the two, and activated his lightsaber, warning them that if they made any calls for help, he would be forced to silence them. He began to question them, and soon learned that their names were Jer and Gelune Blankuna. They told him that they had been approached by an Aqualish on Balmorra, who had been working for the pirates, and had asked if they wanted in on a plan kill GA-01. They had agreed, but soon learned that their role would be in supervising the production of the droids. After that, though, both refused to answer any further questions. Noda was about to try a more persuasive tactic when he heard a shout from the room across the hall.

In the meantime, the Gand had investigated the room he had entered. It too had a large table covered with food scraps, but there was a small kitchenette to one side. There were also five doors arrayed around the far side of the room. Ignoring the need for stealth, and following his stomach, the Gand began rifling through the cupboards, stuffing his face before walking over to the fridge. Opening the white door, he was surprised to find it full of beer, and shouted out in joy.

He was immediately conscious of what he had done, as two humans and an Aqualish ran into the room, all wearing their pyjamas and holding on to blaster pistols and vibrodaggers. A shoot out began, and the Gand was finding it difficult to get a decent shot off from behind the fridge. However, he was rescued by the entrance of Noda. The Jedi began deflecting the shots back at the pirates, and so they dropped their guns and ran at the two heroes with their vibrodaggers.

The two humans fought Noda, while the Aqualish attacked the weakened Gand. However, Noda was an expert with the lightsaber, and dispatched the two criminals. He then turned to help the Findsman, and after only a few moments, the Aqualish was lying dead on the ground.

Scene 5: Going Home

Noda and the Gand made their way back to the Blankuna's, who were forced onto one of the Firespray-31’s named Fortis Equa. The Findsman kept watch over them, while Noda retrieved the now conscious pirates that he and the Gand had stashed in the Air Traffic Control tower. All six were thrown into the small prison on board the ship, and the Findsman piloted the ship out of the atmosphere. One of the group calling himself Peter warned them that by taking him in, they would anger Wahud the Hutt, but neither of the heroes paid him any mind.

The Gand began running through the computer readouts, learning what he could of the ship. What he learned was a little dismaying. There was no longer a primary hyperdrive, but a backup that would take them much longer to reach Coruscant than they had originally expected. The weapons system had been upgraded though, as had the ion engines. It was apparent that the pirates had modified the ship for short range use only. One thing they were surprised by was that the ship still had a working hypertransceiver.

Noda thought it was finally time to check in with Obi-Juan. It had been months since he’d last seen his apprentice, and it would at least be a month before they saw each other in person again.

Noda was able to get a signal to the Spectral Mist, and the two Jedi quickly greeted each other. After pleasantries, both got down to business:

“Obi-Juan, I’m en-route to Coruscant, but I will not arrive for some time. I have news of my investigation, but I don’t want to discuss it openly over these comm channels.”

“I understand Master. I’ll be waiting to see how your investigation has turned out. I am conducting my own investigation with GA-01, and am also en-route to Coruscant. I’ll let you know how it turns out.” Kenobi said with a smile.

“Until then my apprentice, may the Force be with you.”

“And you too, Master.” Came the reply, and the communication was cut.

Satisfied that Obi-Juan was safe and well, Noda instructed the Gand to enter the zeroed hyperspace co-ordinates of Coruscant. They both knew they had a long trip home, but there was no way to avoid it. “Perhaps,” Noda thought, “I’ll check for a dejarik board…”

Next Story: The Rycar Run

The Disputed Gem - Reunion

Scene 1: Strike Plan

It had been over two weeks since the Tech Men Inc thugs and the Galac Bots droids had abducted Arenen’s teammates. It had been two weeks since the Verpine had saved him, and he had not wasted a moment. He had to recover from his injuries, but he knew he would need the miners to help him rescue his friends, and the Verpine needed him to teach them how to fight their oppressors.

The soldier spent time teaching the miners, and when the basic combat training was complete, Arenen and the Verpine leaders planned a strike against the nearest Galac Bots installation. When the day to act arrived, Arenen and half a dozen Verpine, including Smippine, watched as the mining leaders set off a small explosion which started a chain reaction, creating a tunnel that ran underground from the Verpine camp to the Galac Bot installation. The group jumped into a converted flash speeder, specifically designed to allow for extra passengers and greater mobility, and traveled the four and a half kilometers before they reached their destination.

As soon as they had exited the speeder, the group was attacked by a dozen battle droids whom had been alerted to the attack by the sound of the explosions. The Verpine driver of the flash speeder then gave the team covering fire with the vehicle’s two blaster cannons. Meanwhile the team had approached the installation’s generator. More battle droids arrived upon the scene from a tunnel connected to the cavern the attackers were in.

Holding position, Arenen and the Verpine scouts battled the droids, while Smippine placed explosives charges on the generator. As soon as the explosives were planted, and he was out of range, Smippine set off the explosives and returned to his team to see that the speeder had been swamped by two-dozen battle droids led by an assassin droid. The six Verpine fighters had been reduced in number to four at this point in time though the tidal wave of droids had been stalled.

Scene 2: Release

Arenen gestured to Smippine to move on, and the lead miner ordered two of the remaining soldiers to hold their position and provide more cover fire for the speeder – the escape vehicle. Taking an elevator up into the building, the four fighters ran along another narrow tunnel and destroyed the few droid guards who were stationed there. From there, the team made its way to another elevator which required slicing into the security system to open the doors. The team’s technician and electronics man stepped up to the job and in a minute hot-wired the elevator.

Soon the team was on the second level, with Smippine and Arenen splitting up to search the facility. They were each accompanied by one of the other Verpine. Arenen had been told to look out for a back-up generator within the building, and the technician who was with Arenen had explosives to blow it up. Arenen and his companion continued their search and soon came across a door marked ‘Detention Block’.

Knowing that Amonic and Rahaj had been taken by the Galac Bot droids, Arenen hoped that his teammates could be at this very location, waiting to be rescued. Establishing a secondary objective, the Chiss had the technician hot-wire the security door and it was quickly opened. Within Arenen saw his two teammates Amonic and Rahaj were indeed here, along with a Verpine prisoner. Amonic and Rahaj were greatly relieved to see Arenen still alive, and both couldn’t help but yell at him about how long their rescue had taken. Once the Chiss had calmed them down, they realized that the Verpine prisoner had not been introduced. He was Ralnak, one of the few Verpine who had any military experience. He had been captured attempting to infiltrate the Galac Bots base. The technician with Arenen already knew Ralnak and vouched for him. With explanations finished with, Arenen armed them with weapons he had taken from destroyed droids. And they resumed their search for the back-up generator.

However, the group heard an ear-splitting explosion. After the noise had died down, Smippine’s voice could be heard coming from Arenen’s comlink, letting them know that he’d found and blown the generator. He then arranged for them all to meet at the elevator, as the explosion was more destructive than he had expected, and it had ignited fires, which would soon consume the entire building.

Scene 3: Mission Escape

When the two parties reunited, they gathered in the elevator, but this time took the stairs down to level one, at a different entrance from where they had originally come in. From there, they saw six speeder bikes carrying Verpine, and Arenen realised that his own reinforcements had arrived. The Verpine saw Smippine and directed their bikes to him. When they stopped, they explained that all the others on the attack were now dead and that another six Verpine on swoops had come but were now gone. Smippine told them to disembark so he, Arenen, Ralnak, Rahaj, Amonic and the Verpine technician, Quriz, could speed ahead to the next and last of the Galac Bots targets.

The six heroes jumped on their swoops, leaving the reinforcements to try and hold back the tide of droids. They all maneuvered carefully through the short tunnel and came out the other side into a grand cavern which held at its center a large facility that was guarded by three security towers. Smippine directed Amonic, Rahaj and Ralnak to draw away a group of droids that were headed their way from the back of the cavern. The back of the cavern was a wide area and it lead to the outside of the mountain. Amonic, Rahaj and Ralnak did not venture out of the mountain but used the wide area to maneuver around the droids.

Meanwhile the other three each moved on to a security tower, and began slicing access into the towers security systems, avoiding the few inaccurate shots the towers fired. Arenen moved up the ladder to the top of the tower and came upon a locked security door. Within moments he had sliced into the door controls and gained access to the tower. The Chiss looked over at the other towers to see his comrades having achieved the same feat. He moved into the control tower, but an automatic security gun on the roof began to fire at him. He dropped to the floor, taking cover while readying his weapon. The turret then moved to target him though luckily for Arenen it was slow moving, and gave the Chiss an opportunity to blast it.

Once he had passed that part of security, Arenen moved to the tower’s controls and sliced access to the computer system operating the towers and facility. At that point Smippine communicated to his comrades through a comlink saying that the towers each had a significant defensive role. His tower gave access to the facility. Arenen’s tower would allow computer control of the facility and Quriz’s tower opened the facility’s docking gates, which blocked an escape route. The trio succeeded in their computer hacking after a few minutes and each descended from the towers. They met at the base of the towers and from there signaled over to the other three.

Unfortunately Ralnak had gone kamikaze in a last ditch effort to stave off oncoming droids. His sacrifice would allow escape for the others. Amonic and Rahaj quickly made their way to their teammates, and when all were gathered, Smippine led them into the now accessible facility. The group proceeded unhindered to the docking level and was able to steal an assault shuttle. From there Smippine piloted the ship out of the dock, and past the gates Quriz had unlocked earlier on. As the ship moved out, all on board looked below to see a huge army of battle droids at least a thousand strong. Smippine quickly piloted the ship into Galatia’s atmosphere before the droids could muster an attempt to stop their escape.

The Disputed Gem - Armageddon

Scene 1: Take Back the Dragon

The team had managed to get away from the Galac Bots installation by stealing am assault shuttle, but now they had no idea of where to go. Smippine talked it through with the others and there was a unanimous decision that they would wait for a few days in Galatia’s atmosphere before making an attack on another Galac Bots base. Using the sensor suite while in orbit, they all monitored the activity below. The group waited until they thought the time was right to make an attack. Smippine had targeted the attack at the base that GA-10 had passed through when they first landed on Galatia. The soldiers in GA-10, excluding Hral who was still MIA, were all enthused about the attack as it would allow them to retrieve the Wild Dragon from impoundment.

With the plan formed, Smippine piloted the assault shuttle to the Galac Bots facility and used clearance codes he had secretly obtained from the control tower in the last raid to lower the shielding and allow the ship to land. From the view screen the group on board saw many droids going about their business. When the ship had landed, near the entrance of the bases’ secondary facility, all on board saw the Wild Dragon just next to the rear entrance of the building’s secondary facility. By this stage, several droids had approached the shuttle and were demanding that the group open the ship’s hatch.

Smippine waited for all on board readied their weapons before opening the hatch. A firefight erupted, which Arenen used as a distraction to sneak unnoticed into the secondary facility. Once inside he moved along the main corridor dispatching droids and searching rooms as he encountered them. He had only walked down two passages when he stumbled upon a secondary shield room, providing back up to the base’s main shield. Arenen took an explosive device, which he had found earlier on the shuttle, and placed it on the main controller of the back up shield. He set the timer for fifteen minutes then hurried his search through the building.

Scene 2: The Volatile Base

Again, he had not gone far when he arrived at a security room, which was full of droids. Most of them were battle droids, but one was an assassin droid. The droids did not seem to notice Arenen’s presence, as they were monitoring the battle outside. However, the Chiss new they would see him soon enough, and so took the opportunity to fire first. Having the element of surprise, the soldier was able to take out assassin droid in a single burst of fire. The battle droids, little more than cannon fodder, reacted quickly, but Arenen easily avoided the blasts by crouching. He then set his light-repeating blaster for auto-fire and within moments all the droids had been dispatched.

Looking through the room, Arenen saw there was a withered Verpine in a cell in the far corner. He released the Verpine, and offered him a weapon, and asking that he help Arenen destroy the facility. The Verpine agreed, and once Arenen had set some explosives at the computer consoles, they left the room, hurrying as the primary explosive only had a few minutes remaining.

Moving into the main corridor from, the two came across a security door. Employing his slicer skills, Arenen unlocked the security door to discover a secondary power core and operating room. The Chiss thought he had hit the target jackpot, and began planting the last of the explosives, when six droids entered the scene from two connected rooms. Arenen became concerned that he’d set his explosives with too little time.

Scene 3: Good-bye Galatia… For Now…

As usual, a fight erupted and, as usual, the battle droids fell like sticks. Unfortunately for the blue skinned, red-eyed hero, that was merely the first wave. He quickly finished setting the last explosive, which was at eight minutes, before the second wave of droids arrived. This time two M3POs came with a new proto type droid leading them. It was a prototype equipped with a blaster pistol and two vibroblades. The droid from the looks of it, the droid must have been built to engage in hand to hand, as it used spring mechanisms to leap at Arenen. This move took the soldier by surprise and he was sent flying backwards, and he was luckily not to be sliced by the vibroblades. However, Arenen, had dropped his weapon, and could only fight with his own vibroblade. That tactic seemed useless, so he backed away from the droid, giving his Verpine companion an opening to shoot it.

The droid left Arenen and attacked the Verpine, but a single blow knocked it unconscious, and the droid returned to Arenen before he could recover his blaster. Still, he fought valiantly and pierced the droid’s armor before finally succumbing to all the little cuts the droid was giving him. Arenen fell to his knees and the droid pulled the helpless Chiss into the security room. When the droid got there it saw the explosive Arenen had set. It reacted by alerting all other droids in the vicinity. However, this provided Arenen with the chance to grab a weapon off the floor that had been dropped by one of the destroyed droids. Using the blaster rifle near him, he shot and blew the prototype droid’s head off. The two M-3POs were close behind and they too got blaster rifle in the face.

Looking at his watch Arenen was shocked to see that he had one minute before the explosion. He ran to the power core room where his weapon lay on the ground, and helped up the unconscious Verpine. From there they ran into a room, which luckily had an exit from the building. The running like crazy to get out, he just escaped a fireball of immense proportions as it flashed behind him. He looked at the Assault Shuttle he had arrived in and gasped because it had been shot to pieces. Luckily Amonic, Rahaj, Quriz and Smippine had managed to run to the Wild Dragon, which also luckily was almost right next to where Arenen had exited the base from. Arenen hopped on board as many droids who had not been dispatched fired at him and the ship.

As the hatch to Wild Dragon closed Smippine turned on the ship’s engines and took off. The group returned to a secret landing spot for the Verpine, where they dropped of Quriz and the injured Verpine. From there, Smippine piloted the ship into the atmosphere and plotted a hyperspace course to Coruscant.

The Disputed Gem - Ambassadors

Scene 1: Return

Having just arrived on Coruscant from their mission to Galatia, Jeff ordered the team into his office for a debriefing. However, Amonic had little to offer, explaining the declining state of affairs, and his capture. Arenen then described his ordeal, the likely fate of the military force that had been sent ahead of them, and the capture of Hral, whom they had to leave behind. Smippine supported Arenen’s reporting of events.

Outraged that the powers involved in the dispute would stoop to such tactics, Jeff gathered all those teams that were currently on Coruscant. The Staff Sergeant was determined to dissolve the conflict and rescue his men. Amonic was greatly relieved, as all teams except for GA-01 were in their barracks. Smippine asked that he could be assigned to GA-10 until the rescue of Zic, and permission was granted.

With such an important mission underway, Jeff took command of GA-05 while this mission was underway. The mission objectives had changed to: · Establish a cease fire on the planet, · Contact and rescue Duneers and his men if possible, · Institute diplomatic relations with the factions involved in the dispute, suggesting solutions to the dilemma faced, and · Rescue Corporal Hral Zic, who had been captured by forces of the Tech Men Inc.

The teams arrived in Galatia’s system and began work on completing their objectives immediately. As there were two space stations orbiting the planet, one belonging to Galac Corp, and the other to Tech Men Inc, the teams split up into two groups, with GA-02 and GA-05 negotiating with Galac Corp while GA-08, GA-09, and GA-10 continued on towards the Tech Men Inc station. The teams GA-03, GA-04, GA-06 and GA-07 had yet to be replaced after their botched mission with GA-01 on Coruscant.

Scene 2: First Contact

As the group approached the Tech Men Inc satellite, Tytanus, Zamark, the Staff Sergeant for GA-08, aboard his team’s Skip-Ray Blast Boat, Lueon, a human Sergeant for GA-09, aboard her team’s YT-2400, and Amonic aboard the Wild Dragon all began broadcasting their transponder codes and requested permission to dock. Permission was granted under the condition that the ships state their reason for being in the system. Zamark described their mission, but neglected to mention their plan to rescue Hral. Tytanus welcomed them all to dock.

In the dock, the teams spied several other ships, including three A-9 Vigilance Interceptors, three Miy’til Fighters, two Citadel Cruisers and a Phoenix Hawk Light Pinnace. Moving around the dock were dozens of droids of varying kinds, as well as Tech Men Inc Officials and Technicians. All the GP agents were quick to spot the fact that all the Tech Men Inc Officials and Technicians were either human or near human. No other aliens could be seen. They were more than disconcerted, as only Lueon, Arenen and Rahaj met these profiles.

When soldiers had debarked from their ships, two-dozen Tech Men Inc soldiers clad in blue padded battle- armor approached them in two straight lines. They greeted the GP teams and asked for their weapons, illicit goods and anything else that may hinder peaceful relations. At that point, an official named Gramark came up to the group and introduced himself. He led the twelve beings to a turbo lift and escorted them to an upper level that looked like a single large hallway with plush carpeting and trophies of Tech Men Inc accomplishments. Following the official along the hallway for a minute they arrived at a large door which Gramark informed them was Mathanthius’ dorm.

Gramark explained that Mathanthius was the Commander aboard Tytanus, and he led the group into the chamber through an ornately carved door. Manthanthius was a cautious man, and had had weapons sensors built into the doorway. All the GP members went through without event, until Smippine passed through the door. Two soldiers immediately jumped him and in the scuffle, Smippine was tied and gagged. When the scuffle was over a guard presented the group with a small, easily concealed blaster. Arenen was puzzled as to how and why Smippine would have brought the weapon with him, and so decided to investigate further when he had the opportunity.

Unable to act on his hunch Arenen followed his peers into Mathanthius’ chamber. The Commander was discussing something with a tall black-cloaked figure, but excused himself when he saw the soldiers. The cloaked figure left the room, following the two guards who were escorting Smippine to the detention block. Mathanthius apologised for the scuffle and asked why the Verpine had been carrying a weapon. None of the soldiers could answer, so the formal proceedings began. Zamark and Lueon entered Mathanthius’ private quarters while rest of the group was invited to inspect the station.

Scene 3: Mynocks off the port bow.

The group meandered through the corridors, greeting the humans overseeing the operations of the space station, and they eventually followed the main hall out onto a circular viewing platform. The ten soldiers had only begun to admire the view of Galatia below them when alarm claxons started wailing.

Gramark had spotted a mynock, and the assembly could see that it was chewing on some power couplings on a lower deck, opposite the front window panel of the viewing platform. Gramark quickly activated his comlink alerting Mathanthius of the danger posed by mynocks to Tytanus, and the Tech Men Inc soldiers hurried to emergency points in the case of an emergency. During this chaos, Amonic ordered Arenen and Rahaj to question the personnel working on the viewing platform and ascertain if anything suspicious had was being conducted.

After disturbing several workers, and upsetting many more, Arenen heard rumor about some sort of trooper advancement. When he reported back to Amonic, the Gran advised him to be alert for any reference to it. Taking a quick look around the area, Amonic pulled Arenen aside, instructing him to go to the male lavatories. Confused, he agreed to his NCO’s request, and ran off to the lavatories. Only minutes later, he was joined by Amonic. The Sergeant told the Private that he was to head towards the detention block and determine what had happened to Smippine. Meanwhile, he would conduct an investigation elsewhere with Rahaj.

Letting the signs direct him to his destination, Arenen made his way to the detention block and quickly hid when he heard a loud noise up ahead. After only a few moments, two Tech Men Inc guards armed with stun batons appeared, dragging an unconscious Smippine behind them. Arenen left his spot to see where they were taking his friend, and watched as he was thrown into a cell. Before the guards could see him, the Chiss ran back to his hiding spot until the guards had left. Returning to the cells, Arenen attempted to override the computerised lock using the slicer skills he had acquired, but the door required a key card to operate.

Trailing the guards in the direction they had gone, the Chiss scout managed to get the drop on them, and both were unconscious and tied up within a standard minute. Before he could go back to free Smippine, he heard a voice call out for him just ahead. Worried, but curious, Arenen went to investigate. As he got closer, he recognised the voice as Hrals! He had only walked a meter when he saw movement over his shoulder. He turned to defend himself, but it was too late, and the stun baton hit him dead on. The darkness swarmed in, and he fell unconscious.

Scene 4: Hral

Arenen awoke to find all his equipment missing. Sitting up, he took a look at his surrounds, only able to see four solid metal walls, a high ceiling and several various pieces of mechanical equipment lying on the floor. As he stumbled to his feet, a voiced boomed from a loudspeaker on the roof; “You’re finally awake. It seems you’ve stuck your blue nose where it doesn’t belong. Prepare to have it chopped off.”

At that moment Arenen again heard Hral yell, but this time he was only a few feet from the Chiss. The Herglic was wearing his usual gray pants, but on his bare torso was a mechanical metal box strapped on with a strong band. On his back was a similar but larger metal box. Hral’s eyes were blood shot, his pupil’s small yet very alert and for some strange reason they had turned light blue. He seemed tense. At that moment the metal boxes on the Herglic went alight with yellow sparks, which covered Hral for a brief moment. Shouting in agony, the Corporal doubled over, and the loudspeaker stuttered to life again. “Hral Zic, tear this Chiss to bits or...” More yellow sparks shot over Hral. In defense he grabbed the metal box on his chest, but he could not pull it off and it burnt his hands and jolted him even more. The command to tear Arenen to bits was repeated and Hral glanced at his teammate. He charged forward, his only thoughts were on ending his pain.

Scene 5: Passing

The two teammates engaged a large fistfight. Hral swung a powerful backhand to start off with. The punch, landing just under Arenen’s chin sent him flying back two meters. Zic was pumped, as drugs and adrenaline were being pumped through his system, adding to his already considerable strength. Arenen tried to make a come back when he had recuperated, but Hral stepped back and easily avoided the stunned Chiss’ swing. He countered, sending Arenen back another two meters. But this time, instead of retaliating, Arenen moved back from Hral and scanned the trash filled room for a makeshift weapon.

Spotting a solid looking droid leg, Arenen snatched it up. Hral had come for him and was about to pummel Arenen’s back when the Chiss turned and swung, hitting the Herglic in the head. Both fighters stood still for a second then Hral retaliated smacking Arenen in the head. Arenen fell to the ground and dropped his weapon, which his opponent then kicked away out of sight. All hope seemed to have disappeared for Arenen when Hral was about to make a finishing strike on his comrade. Luckily Hral managed to regain a measure of control, resisting his captor’s commands to kill. Hral’s obstinateness to their orders provoked sparks to fly from the metal boxes strapped to the great Herglic.

Arenen, having enough time to recover from the last blow, went for another weapon and found one in the form of a bent metal pipe. The pipe proved to be an effective weapon as Arnen used Hral’s last moments of stubbornness to smash the machine on his back. Immediately Hral noticed that the pain had left him, and he was able to stop the fight. However, he quickly realized that the box had been keeping him alive as well, pumping the chemicals through his bloodstream. Hral fell to the floor and Arenen rushed to help him, but was pushed away. Hral explained that nothing could be done for him, and that he wanted his last act to help stop the atrocities that Tech Men Inc had been doing. Crawling across the floor, the giant Herglic showed his partner a small trap door buried under some of the mechanical junk. After Hral opened the door, he wished his friend well and collapsed. His usual blood was mixed with blue as it came flowing out of his mouth. Hral was dead.

Scene 6: Breakout

Dropping through the floor, Arenen quickly made his way through the maze that the trap door had led to. He knew that a patrol of guards would have been sent after him, so he was prepared when he encountered two members of the patrol when rounding a corner.

He was able to surprise the two men, and after a brief struggle, was able to dispatch them using their own stun batons. Looking over their bodies, he was pleasantly surprised to see that these two were the same two he had knocked out earlier at the detention block. Rifling through their pockets, he pulled out the key cards he would need to open the doors of Smippine’s cell.

The Force was with him, as when he found the exit from the small maze, he had returned to the detention block. He quickly ran to Smippine’s cell and opened the door, passing the Verpine one of the stun batons he had acquired.

The Private took this opportunity to contact Amonic, who immediately responded using his comlink. After only a few moments, it was apparent to Arenen that Rahaj and Amonic had been captured while they were snooping around, and were in a locked room not far from the detention block. The Chiss reported the death of Hral, and told his NCO that he would come to rescue them in short order. Amonic begged him to hurry, as their interrogators would arrive shortly.

Knowing he would have to rescue and arm his teammates, Arenen planned on how to get weapons, and distract the soldiers on the station. He and Smippine slipped quietly down the halls, towards the armory that Arenen recalled passing on the tour the teams had gone on when leaving Mathanthius’ office. Once the two were armed with blaster pistols along with the stun batons, they searched the room further, and were able to find some medpacs, which went towards healing Arenen’s wounds.

On the way back to the detention block, the cloaked man the GP teams had seen inside Mathanthius’ office confronted Smippine and Arenen. Without a word, he stalked towards the two, and merely laughed when they pulled out their weapons.

The two soldiers fired at the cloaked figure, but he was too fast for them, and he avoided all the stun bolts that had been sent in his direction. Melee combat ensued, and Arenen and Smippine found themselves being ruthlessly battered by their assailant. In a desperate move, they withdrew their stun batons, and a lucky shot from Arenen stunned the man into submission.

Standing guard over their opponent, who was now bleeding blue blood, Smippine asked his partner what they would do with the man. “He’s too dangerous for us to leave him here. We have to disable him.” The Chiss then fired at the man point blank, hoping the wounds would prevent the agent from following them. However, his most recent concussion caused a wave of vertigo to flood through him, and the shot went off its mark and killed the man.

Both of the soldiers stood there for a minute, realising what had happened, staring in shock. However, the man had likely been dying because of the chemical treatments, and they still had a job to do, saving Amonic and Rahaj, along with many other beings Tech Men Inc was abusing.

Returning to the detention block, Arenen opened all the cell doors, setting the prisoners free. He then gave them directions to the armory and the dock and wished them a good distraction.

Scene 7: Escape

Remembering Amonic’s whimpering plea to free him, Arenen and Smippine found their way to the room the two soldiers were being kept in. they heard raised voices inside, and agreed that the interrogations must have already begun. On the count of three, the two burst through the door, stun bolts firing into all those present except for Rahaj and Amonic. Checking the room over for traps or recording devices, Arenen was able to find all the equipment that had been taken from him. Meanwhile, Smippine worked to free his new teammates.

The four GP agents rushed towards the viewing platform, wanting to rejoin their allies, but just before they burst into the room, they saw that the group had been taken hostage by Tech Men Inc guards. Searching the immediate area, Arenen found a grate leading into the ventilation system. He was fortunate indeed, as the shaft split into two passages over the viewing platform.

Amonic and Arenen made their way through the vents, and split up when the fork appeared. They continued on until they reached an overhang where there was another grate above the guards. Pulling the grates aside, Amonic and Arenen used frag grenades that he and Smippine had brought from the armory, dropping them on the unsuspecting guards.

The grenades did their job, and the guards were either put down or were fleeing when Smippine and Rahaj ran across the viewing platform to their colleagues. Arenen and Amonic quickly made their way back through the ventilation shafts and rejoined their teammates, preparing a rescue for Zamark and Lueon.

Members from GA-08 and GA-09 volunteered to go back, but GA-10 was to capture the docking bay so as to secure their retreat, and because Arenen and Smippine were the only ones carrying the evidence needed to put a stop to Tech Men Inc operations. The soldiers picked up weapons from the fallen guards, and made their way towards Mathanthius’ office.

Rahaj, Amonic and Smippine rushed to the dock, and retrieved the weapons that had been confiscated from them. Inside, they met very little resistance, and were also able to disable some of the smaller fighters Tech Men Inc could use to pursue them.

Minutes passed, and the sound of blaster fire approached. Zamark and only half the men that had gone to rescue him had returned. A quick inquiry about their location revealed that Mathanthius and his goons had killed them.

The teams hurried to the respective ships, leaving the dock and preparing their escape through hyperspace. Arenen managed to get to the comm systems and send a warning to Jeff and his teams before the white streaks indicating the entrance to hyperspace appeared, and the Wild Dragon left real space.

Scene 8: Sparkling Gem

A week after the teams had left the Tytanus, they arrived on Coruscant, with Jeff’s group not far behind. He called a mass debriefing, and Zamark was disheartened to reveal the loss of many teammates, and the failure of their objectives. Although Arenen had seen Hral Zic, the Herglic had died in the line of duty. Mathanthius was opposed to a cease-fire and wanted nothing to do with the New Republic.

Jeff, on the other hand, had succeeded in some of his objectives. Galac Corp was willing to begin negotiations with the New Republic, their original dispute being the fact the Empire had sold them the planet, but the New Republic had given the rights to the Verpine and Arconians. A compromise was reached, and both parties would be allocated equal shares to the resources. However, Tech Men Inc had no rights to the planet, and even though a cease-fire was standing between the Verpine and Galac Corp, no such deal was made with Tech Men Inc. In fact, with Arenen’s knowledge of their experimentations, the New Republic would soon close down Tech Men Inc altogether.

Meanwhile, Smippine was given a probationary placement within the GP, continuing to work alongside Arenen, Amonic and Rahaj. He would help immensely with their upcoming fight against the Tech Men. Finally, due to their bravery, Arenen and Rahaj were promoted to the rank of Corporal, and Jeff promised to keep his eyes on the aspiring heroes.

Next Story: Showdown

The Disputed Gem Interlude - Pursuit

Scene 1: Disaster

Arenen left the GP at the end of the day, tired of his paper work. He decided to go fix his computer which had just run out of battery power. Taking his computer along with him to the local store, he found a battery with a long lasting life-span.

However, as Arenen was leaving the store, four men wearing black masks ran in, one bearing a concussion rifle, the other three carrying blaster carbines. Arenen lay down on the ground as the boss bandit had instructed, but drew his concealed weapon as three of the crooks began looting the store. He noticed that they had left the thug with the concussion rifle to guard him and the two shop owners. When he was sure the three looters weren't paying attention to him or the store owners, Arenen attacked his guard and quickly stunned his opponent. The store owner and his assistant then hit a secret security button, although the police would not arrive for over ten minutes.

Being a law officer, Arenen decided to take the law into his own hands and laid down a barrage of fire on the criminals. They returned fire, and Arenen took cover behind the service counter. Not wanting to be shot or caught by the police, the three standing criminals took the opportunity to scramble out of there, the leader taking off with Arenen's prized computer.

Arenen, who would usually leave the remaining crooks to the police, felt the need to take this case personally, especially seeing how the crooks had made off with his pride and joy. He pursued them down a street and into a bustling crowd, but at that point felt he couldn't catch them on foot. He thought it would be wiser to interrogate the crook he had stunned. Returning to the store to see the owners had tied-up the thief, Arenen proceeded to interrogate him. He had some mild success and learned that the gang had a rendezvous site not too far from the store. He quickly commandeered a speeder bike and sped to the address which he had been given.

Scene 2: The Plot Thickens

He arrived at the rendezvous spot, a warehouse, to see the thieves had met up with three more crooks. The Corporal surveyed the scene for a few minutes watching as one crook left the scene via swoop. All the loot was still in the warehouse though, so Arenen knew he could still retrieve his computer. There was a land speeder in the middle of the floor with two of the new crooks in it, one driver and one gunner. The criminals proceeded to finish loading their loot onto the speeder. Arenen quickly attacked the group as the speeder was pulling away with the stolen plunder and his computer.

He damaged the land speeder but it got away with three of the five bandits aboard. The two remaining bandits ran towards Arenen, and began firing at him, catching him in a pincer movement. Arenen was forced to slowly lay down his weapons, but as he was beginning to stand up again, he saw that the two thugs were arguing with each other over what to do with him. He quickly took advantage of the situation, and reclaimed his weapons, stunning the two of them unconscious. He quickly proceeded to bind them against a pylon in the warehouse using their own clothing as rope. Then, furious at having all this trouble, he began interrogating the criminals for information concerning where the land speeder was going. The two became highly intimidated but refused to answer until one crook, about to be shot in the head, gave the Chiss the requested information.

Arenen then called the police via comlink to have the two criminals arrested. He picked up his stun baton, powered it up and stunned the two captives until he was sure they were concussed. Realising time was of the essence he ran to the speeder bike he had arrived on, and sped off to a nearby weapons garage where the land speeder was going to make another hit.

Scene 3: Face-off

Arriving at the garage five minutes later, Arenen was shocked to see the crooks leaving the garage in flames. He drew his weapon and fired at the two bandits leaving the garage. His attention was drawn to the land speeder concealing the last of the criminals. Its engine and weapons were being powered up and the gang leader rushed to the speeder and deposited his loot in the boot whilst yelling to the other thug, "We’ll meet you on the ship in ten minutes! For the moment we'll load the booty on the ship while you kill this blue punk!" He then tossed his friend a thermal detonator.

Sensing the danger, Arenen gunned for the man with the detonator. Following his first few shots the crook was wounded and dropped the detonator which clattered to the ground and exploded, taking out the bandit and the front of the garage which was nearly burnt to the ground by this point.

The Chiss then turned his focus back to the speeder which was accelerating towards him, firing blaster bolts at him with its mounted blaster rifle. He dodged the shots and returned fire, incapacitating the vehicle before it could speed off. It would have already sped off by this time but Arenen's had damaged the engines in their previous encounter with him. The crazed bandit leader then rushed out of the wreck with a vibro-ax and charged Arenen who had prepared for this and had readied his own melee weapon, a stun baton. A fight ensued in which the odds seemed even although the Chiss, already tired from his night's adventures and previous fights, fell first.

Scene 4: The Hero Triumphant

He awoke in the boot of a newly stolen speeder which was soaring thirty metres above the top level of Coruscant. Looking around his confines, Arenen found a large bag of loot stuffed into the boot with him. Using his superb night-vision, Arenen was able to retrieve his weapons and computer from the sack, and then shoot a hole in the boot, blowing the whole hatch off. Sitting up, he turned and saw the two remaining crooks at the front end of the open-top speeder. He fired at the lead bandit, blasting the crazed criminal's ear off. In pain, the crook lost his balance and fell, only to hit the ground with a significant splat.

Following this, Arenen forced the driver to land and then used his stun baton to knock the man unconscious. Again he contacted the police using his comlink, requesting backup to arrest the criminal. When the police arrived, he gave them his contact details, and then returned to the ruined garage so as to take the speeder bike back to its owner. Exhausted from the days activities, he just wanted to crash on his bunk back at the barracks, but was stopped by Jeff, who congratulated him on a job well done, and indicated the Chiss had many opportunities for promotion. He also informed the Chiss that he had consulted with the police department, and Arenen was given policing powers over the area around the GP HQ.

Next Story: Standoff on Leritor

The Depths of Kashyyyk: Turning Point

Scene 1: Recovering and Rediscovering

It had been two weeks since Corsair had arrived on Kashyyyk and encountered the Yuuzhan Vong scouts. The destruction of his largest office and several of his transports was troubling, and he had spent much of his time getting quotes for repairs, and arranging contracts for developers. The cost of repairs and lost time was a daunting matter to the young man.

Dorn and Zdenka had reported the Yuuzhan Vong activity on Kashyyyk to the Yavin Academy, and were told to be watchful for more attacks from the aliens. They were also reminded that their purpose on Kashyyyk was to investigate the reports of pirate activity in that sector, but as yet, there had not been any new attacks. The Jedi knew that greed would overcome the pirates' need for self-preservation, and they would again attack the cargo ships of Harinath Enterprises.

To this end, the Jedi stayed with Corsair and Syal, overseeing the redevelopment of the once beautiful trade centre, and preparing for any threat that came their way. Corsair was not happy with their presence though. His experiences with other Force Sensitive beings made him wary of the Jedi, and so was often brusque with Zdenka or Dorn.

Syal took notice of this behaviour, but hoped that it was due to his recent anxieties. When it was apparent that his views would not change, she took him aside, and explained the nature of the Force, and the role of the Jedi to her son. Although not totally convinced, Corsair did see the respect the Wookies paid to Dorn and Zdenka, and so relented to be more considerate.

One morning, after a board meeting discussing the costs of repairs, to which Murrahrra, Master Plo and his apprentice had been invited, Corsair pulled Kardeffca aside. “So what do you think of her Kard?” he asked about Zdenka, speaking in Shyriiwook.

“She has pride in her appearance and carries herself well. I would not judge her by her looks. She conceals that which makes her powerful.”

“What?! Are you kidding me? That outfit ain’t concealing much in my opinion. Not that I mind so much. He he.”

Unfortunately for him, the Jedi Padawan had overheard their conversation. “Shame that you’ll never see what this outfit is concealing.” She said before following her Master out of the room.

Corsair stood shocked and embarrassed for a moment before saying “You know Kard... I like her already.” Kardeffca could only groan.

Scene 2: A Plan is Fashioned

With the lull in pirate attacks, and no obvious threat from the Vong, the Jedi used their time to consider what they knew of the pirate raids. They knew the pirates had only been encountered in space, never planet-side, and that they used star fighters without any hyperdrive system. This meant that the criminals were either using a cloaking device on a transport ship, or that they had some base hidden within the system. The times of the attacks always coincided with shipments of rare ore and materials. Shipments of food and clothing were never attacked. This evidence pointed towards a mole within the company.

Speaking with Corsair, Dorn suggested that they prepare several drone barges. They should then inform the workers in Packaging, Business, Transportation and Engineering, that a personal friend of Corsair had asked for some expensive antiques to be transported to Chalacta, Ambria, Gyndine or Bimmisaari respectively. Considering the nature of the cargo, if there was a leak within the company, the source will be found depending on which barge was attacked.

Kardeffca agreed that the plan sounded good in theory, but was unsure of the costs involved. In addition, the plan would have to work swiftly, as the pirates would quickly learn they had been set up with an empty drone. The leak would have to be identified as soon as word was received that the pirates had begun a raid, and a strike force would have to be dispatched soon after to prevent the pirates from simply relocating to a position the leak knew nothing of.

Corsair had been silent the entire time, so Dorn turned to him; “What are your views on the matter? It is your welfare that is at stake.”

“It sounds good in theory. There’s a lot that can go wrong with it, but it’s the only plan we have.”

Murrahrra volunteered workers to help construct the drone barges and fabricate the cargo for them, and Corsair accepted. The Wookie also informed Corsair that if he was in need of help, he was welcome to ask for it from any of Murrahrra’s family members.

Scene 3: Preparations

Over the course of two days, the work was completed on the drone barges, and no additional attacks had been made on the remaining Harinath Enterprises ships. Murrahrra’s workers had expertly crafted wood and flimsy to resemble antiques, and a wealth of jewellery.

However, there was disagreement over who the ships pilot would be, and who would infiltrate the pirate base. Dorn was assured a placing, as it had been his plan, and because of his combat efficiency and stealth training. None of the group had any expert piloting skills, and so through a process of elimination, K-27 was selected as the pilot - Murrahrra having replaced some of his protocol programming with piloting skills.

The day the delivery was to be made finally arrived, but the third member of the team still had to be chosen. Kardeffca, Corsair or Zdenka were standing near the Skipray, waiting for Dorn and K-27. When the Jedi and the droid arrived, the final decision had to be made.

Turning to his friend, Corsair told him; “Kardeffca, I need you to stay here to pull this all off. I don’t have the skills for that, nor do I have the skills to run the business myself. But you do. There’s no one I trust more. Please, stay, and look after my mother.” Kardeffca nodded, not wanting to stay, and wanting to fulfil his life-debt to Corsair, but following the wishes of his best friend.

Meanwhile, the Jedi discussed the situation; “Master, let me go with you. You’ve trained me for just this kind of situation, and I know your style of fighting. Besides that, it is our job here to capture the pirates.” said Zdenka, hopefully.

“No, Padawan. You are needed here to find the mole. No one is as fast as you are, or as proficient at interrogation as you – especially when the Force is on your side.” stated Plo.

Zdenka’s shoulders slumped, but she accepted her Master’s wisdom. “May the Force be with you, Master,” she said out loud, and then whispered, “You’ll need it while he’s with you.” Dorn just stared at her, until she left with Kardeffca.

Scene 4: Attack!

The barges took off without any trouble, and each ship had jumped into hyperspace. After a considerable amount of time, the entire party was beginning to think the pirates wouldn’t take the bait, but fortunately, the ships were required to make several hyperspace jumps to avoid Yuuzhan Vong war vessels.

Kardeffca couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw the red blip light up the screen - a distress beacon from the drone heading to Chalacta. Immediately, he contacted Zdenka, telling her of where the leak was. The Jedi rushed madly through the building, ending up at the desk of the Clerk and Manager for Packaging. Speaking quickly with them, she learned that four of the staff had worked on the Chalactan drone, and coincidently, all four were on their break in the lunch room.

Leading the way, the Clerk took Zdenka to the lunch room, and closed the doors behind her after she entered the room. Looking around the room, she saw two Wookies with mottled brown fur, one with a black pelt, and the last one was ginger, with black streaks. “Alright, fellas!” she called. “I need to know which one of you just made a little on the side from your last job.”

Each of the Wookies looked at her for a moment, and one got up in a panic. “No! It wasn’t me! I didn’t do anything!” the black one cried. Zdenka became instantly suspicious, but there was a feeling she got through the Force saying that this was not the Wookie she was looking for.

Turning to the other three, she used her training to see what was hidden in each of the Wookie’s gestures. One of the brown furred Wookies seemed to have no idea of what she was talking about, the other brown Wookie seemed embarrassed, and the ginger one was angry. “What do you mean ‘a little on the side’?”

“I mean one of you have contacted the pirates who have been harassing this company, and informed them of the cargo you just packed.” the Jedi replied.

“I’m innocent! Jedi or not, you can’t hold me in here!” the Wookie bellowed.

Her control of the situation seemed to be crumbling, so she played her trump card; “If you had any honour, you would tell me if you were guilty.” This time, she was supported by the two workers she had ‘cleared’. “Yeah! You have no honour if you will place the blame on your own clan!” cried one the one with brown fur.

This time the aggressive Wookie backed down, but it was the one with brown markings that stood. “It was me.” He calmly stated. “I’ve got a huge debt from gambling, and I needed the creds to pay ’em off. I’m sorry.” The aggressive ginger Wookie charged his co-worker, but a flick of the wrist from Zdenka, and he had calmed substantially.

“It’s OK. I understand your motive, but my friends may be in grave danger, and the livelihood of all the workers here are in question. I need you to tell me where the pirates are.” the Jedi said to the leak.

The Wookie looked like he was reconsidering helping at all, but finally he relented, and gave Zdenka the hyperspace co-ordinates of the pirate base. Walking to the door, she called to the Clerk to open it, and to contact the police. She then pulled out her own comlink, and called K-27, giving the droid the location of the pirate base she had learned of from the mole.

Scene 5: Why Corsair hates Jedi

When the team left hyperspace at the co-ordinates they were given, Corsair jumped up and ran to the sensor suite. Starting a long range scan, he soon picked up a blip on the sensors. However, the size and shape almost made him think the sensors were damaged. Not far in front of them was a corvette, heavily converted, and built into a large asteroid. When they approached the ship, Corsair switched the sensors from scanning to focus; he was able to determine the entire craft had five levels, with several life forms on board.

“Dock on the uppermost level.” directed Dorn, “We don’t want to be rushed from all sides.”

Doing as instructed, K-27 piloted the ship towards the pirate vessel. However, automated turbo-lasers began to fire on them, and dodging them required a great amount of skill from K-27. Unfortunately for them, K-27 wasn’t that good a pilot. The ship took a blast to one of the engines, and a trail of smoke was left in the Skipray’s wake.

Using the smoke as cover, the droid pulled the Blast Boat up alongside the docking hatch, out of the way of any turbo-laser. Corsair and Dorn picked up their weapons, and run through the Skipray, out onto the docking claw, while K-27 remained behind to repair the damage to the engines, and to prepare for a hasty get-away. Once in the docking claw, the two heroes assumed defensive positions, and weren’t surprised when blaster bolts started passing them as soon as the doors were opened.

Peaking around the corner, Plo saw that three small barricades had been hastily thrown up, and a quick head count indicated that each barricade was protecting a two-man team. Signalling for Corsair to open fire on the barricade to the right of the docking claw, and farthest from them, Dorn activated his lightsaber, and ran towards the nearest two pirates, deflecting blasts as he went.

Corsair acted quickly, making sure to give the Jedi covering fire, before taking aim at the group Plo had pointed out to him. Pushing down on the trigger of his carbine, he left off three short bursts that killed one of the pirates, and barely missed the other. Return fire from the three remaining pirates whizzed past his head and shoulders as he leaned back into cover behind the docking claw.

Meanwhile, Plo had encountered little resistance. The pirates weren’t prepared for a charge, and so had nothing to defend them with from his lightsaber. The first one was cleaved in two by the glowing green blade, and he hit the other over the head with the hilt of his lightsaber while the criminal tried to pull out a vibrodagger.

Seeing the Jedi work his way through his first two opponents, the pirate in charge of their opposition ceased firing on Corsair, and drew out his vibroblade, waiting for an opportunity to charge Dorn. In the meantime, Corsair focused his fire on those shooting at him, and Dorn dispatched his opponent.

With an opening created, the pirate rushed Dorn, and inflicted a small gash on the Jedi’s side. Plo countered, and the fight began in earnest. As Corsair defeated the last two pirates in their showdown, he looked over to see what the Jedi was doing. It was quickly apparent that Dorn was fighting someone as equally skilled as he was, and even though Corsair wanted to help, the two were circling each other and he couldn’t get a clear shot at the pirate. There was no way he was going to risk injuring the Jedi at such a critical time.

The two combatants continuously tested each other’s defences, and the fight had turned into a battle of wills. This gave Plo the upper hand, as he had trained his whole life to find focus - even in the hardest of times. Eventually, the pirate grew impatient and lunged at the Jedi, cutting his arm, but leaving himself open to attack. In a quick movement, Dorn flicked his wrist, and his lightsaber entered the pirate’s chest, piercing a lung and grazing his heart. The man fell down dead – the shock to his system proved too much.

Not wanting to waste any more time, the Corsair scanned the cargo bay for more resistance, while Dorn tended to his wounds. Once they were both certain it was safe to continue, they moved to the cargo bay doors, and took defensive positions again, Corsair activating the doors to open.

Scene 6: Panic Strike

The corridor on the other side of the cargo bay was empty, but Corsair noted that there were four doors in the corridor – two on each side. In addition, the corridor ended at a T-intersection that would also need to be investigated. Moving hastily, the heroes found the first two rooms to be clear of opponents, and there was little in them besides tools and replacement parts for the pirate starships.

The farthest room on the left housed two R4 droids, looking old and antiquated, but appeared to still be in good working order. Dorn explored the room on the right, and found it to be full of loot the pirates had stolen. Calling Corsair over, the Jedi watched as his companion examined the stash, taking some artefacts, and leaving others. He gave the impression of keeping a catalogue and cross-referencing it with what had been taken from Harinath Enterprises.

After a minute, Corsair turned to Dorn; “All the really rare and expensive items aren’t here. They must be stored elsewhere on the ship.”

“We can work out the details later. For now, we have to contain the ship to avoid getting captured, and ensure they don’t get away.” came Plo’s reply.

Suddenly, Corsair was struck by an idea. Rushing back into the room containing the R4 droids, he began reprogramming them so that they would only obey his and Dorn’s commands. Dorn kept an eye out for trouble, and motioned for Corsair to hurry when he felt a mass of life converging on the level below. The two jogged to the end of the corridor with the droids in tow, and slowed to observe what was around each corner.

There were no pirates in the new corridor, but the group saw that there were two elevators only a few meters from them. The indicators above the doors told them that both lifts had just reached the fourth level, and they would be swarmed by pirates in moments.

Taking the initiative, Plo called on the Force, and pried the doors open, ensuring that the safety protocols on the elevator would not allow the lift to rise to their level. Corsair ran to the next lift and did likewise, but dropped one of his frag grenades through the opening for good measure. Watching the level indicator, the merchant saw the light fall from 4 to 1 in three seconds.

Thinking they were safe for the moment, Corsair began to search further down the hall, and discovered yet another elevator at the end, in the same situation as the first two they encountered. Calling Dorn over, the two worked together to pry the doors open. They were distracted from parting the doors by high pitched chirping from behind them.

Alarmed by the R4 droid, Corsair left Dorn to complete the task of opening the lift doors, and ran to the droid. It seemed to be peering down the shaft that they had just opened, and as Corsair looked downwards, he could see several of the pirates climbing up the lift access shaft, having bypassed the elevator car when they realised it was not going to move.

“They’re gonna come up through the access shaft!” he screeched at Dorn, and then began firing at those men climbing up towards him. They returned fire, but were hindered by the need to hold tight to the ladder rungs, and none of their shots came close to hitting their mark.

Meanwhile, Dorn had called the other droid over to him, and had levitated it down onto the top of the access panel that would allow the pirates access to the elevator shaft, and its weight prevented them from lifting the hatch. The Jedi called down to the droid, instructing it to begin sealing the panel below it, and it started the task immediately, eager to work since it’s reawakening. Looking over his shoulder, he could see Corsair getting into a bogged down fire fight, and so sprinted down the corridor to help his companion.

Activating his lightsaber, Dorn told Corsair; “I’ll give you cover. See what you can do to get the doors closed again.”

It took him a great effort, but Corsair was able to push the doors closed. This time, the remaining R4 unit did not need to ask what to do, but immediately began sealing the doors with a blowtorch. Thinking they were out of danger, Corsair slumped back, and even Dorn took a moment to catch his breath. They both jumped when they heard a voice calling out from around the right-hand corner.

Scene 7: Stand Off

“Put down your weapons and give yourselves up.” shouted the voice.

Corsair and Dorn looked at each other, before Corsair yelled “No!”

The heroes heard some whispering from around the corner, before “Yes!” was barked back at them.

Again, Corsair and Dorn looked at each other, and began counting down from ten. As soon as they reached zero, two pirates charged from around the corner. Prepared for the charge, Corsair pushed down the trigger of his carbine, and blaster fire filled the narrow corridor. Dorn was overwhelmed by the amount of shots both Corsair and the pirates were firing, but managed to keep himself and the R4 droid defended, using his lightsaber to deflect stray blasts. A minute after the barrage had started, Dorn stopped Corsair.

Waiting, the two allies heard no sound through the thick smoke that now blocked their view of the pirates. Creeping forward, Corsair and Dorn both stumbled over two dead bodies that had been their opponents. “I’m sure I heard another one,” Dorn said, “so where is he?” His question was answered by a shot ringing out behind them.

Turning, the Jedi could just see through the fog, the shape of the third pirate. The Jedi motioned for Corsair to lower his weapon, “This one’s mine.” Using the mist as cover, the Jedi dodged the shots coming his way, and re-activated his lightsaber when he reached the pirate. The Twi’lek stood no chance, and lost his arm to Dorn’s first strike. He was unconscious before he hit the floor.

“We’ve got no opposition from the other side of these halls, so I’ll stay here and guard the lifts. You see what’s around the corner.” Plo called out to Corsair.

Taking the Jedi Master’s advice, Corsair continued down the hall and turned the corner, seeing a hall that almost mirrored the one they had just come from. In fact, he soon discovered that this level of the ship was almost symmetrical, with a cargo bay on the other side, also stocked with stolen loot. Again, Corsair noted that the most valuable items stolen from Harinath Enterprises were nowhere to be found.

Scene 8: One Last Thing

Looping back around through the corridors, Corsair noted that there was only a single room left to be investigated on this level – the bridge. “What’s the plan?” the adventurer asked.

“Well, we know that they’ve probably heard all the fighting that’s gone on out here, so they’ll have set up some sort of defence inside.” replied Plo.

“Same plan as before?” Corsair grinned. Dorn smiled and nodded.

Taking places on either side on the door, the heroes waited a moment, and then Corsair pressed the door activator. But nothing happened. Growling, he pulled the controls apart, trying to get the door open. Corsair had barely begun work when the doors opened by themselves. Waiting for the inevitable salvo of blaster fire, the two were surprised when none came. Peering around the doorway, the allies couldn’t see anybody in the room.

Standing up, the two heroes peered into the room and spotted some of the crew hiding under their consoles. Movement only a few meters from them caught their eyes. A large man wearing Captains garb had just lobbed a thermal detonator at them. Calling on the Force, Plo kicked out at the grenade, and it sailed back through the air, hitting the captain in the gut before exploding.

The two heroes were coated in blood and entrails.

Two of the crew fainted on the spot, and those that remained conscious surrendered immediately. Dorn moved to cover them, when he noticed Corsair had sat down at one of the computer terminals.

“What are you doing?”

“None of the valuables are on this ship.” Corsair stated, looking at the inventory list on the screen. Dorn frowned. It meant that the pirate organisation went farther then just this crew. He was brought out of his thoughts when the whole ship shook, followed by an almost deafening BOOM!

“What the hell was that?” Corsair screamed, but his words were muted by another shockwave and BOOM!

“Just hurry up and do what you have to!” shouted Dorn, as he moved towards the bridge’s exit.

K-27’s voice came over the comlink, “Sirs, our ship is repaired, and I believe it is time we departed. A large vessel is attacking the one you have…” Whatever else he said was blotted out by another BOOM!

“Got it!” Corsair yelled as he jumped up and joined Plo as he ran towards the docking claw. Their progress was slowed by the shockwaves sent through the ship whenever it was struck by another blast, but they made it back onboard the Skipray in record time.

Pulling away from the pirate ship, K-27 began plotting the hyperspace route they would need to take to get back to Kashyyyk. Once far enough away from the pirate vessel, all three of them could see what had been attacking their opponents. “Those are Mataloks.” Dorn said. “I’ve only seen one before. They’re strike cruisers for the Yuuzhan Vong.”

“Poodoo!” was Corsair’s reply, as he saw the pirate ship go up in a ball of flame, and the two alien vessels began to follow them. “Get us to hyperspace!” he screeched, needing to be relaxed by Dorn’s manipulations of the Force. “I’m doing my best sir,” answered K-27, “but the approaching pirate ships are making it difficult to calculate the jump co-ordinates.”

Looking ahead, Dorn could see an assortment of several starfighters nearing them. He deduced that those were the ships that had attacked the drone barge travelling to Chalacta. However, the fighters began to turn and flee, having seen the Mataloks behind the Skipray.

Huge blasts exploded around the group, and several of the pirate ships were destroyed. Corsair could see a huge missile heading towards the Skipray when the stars stretched and the Blast Boat flew into hyperspace.

The Depths of Kashyyyk: Renewed Incursion

Scene 1: Warning

The Skipray exploded out of hyperspace and into real space in the Kashyyyk system. Inside, its three passengers were highly relieved, as Corsair, Dorn Plo and K-27 each expected their ship to be met by a Yuuzhan Vong Matalok. Their close escape from the alien invaders came just after they had infiltrated a pirate crew that had been harassing Corsair’s business, Harinath Enterprises.

Corsair had sat silently for most of the trip back from outside the system. He had acquired a wealth of data from the pirate vessel before it had been destroyed; data containing the whereabouts of the loot that had been stolen from Harinath Enterprises. It worried him, though, as there was constant reference to an organisation called ‘Tech Men Inc’ within those files, as well as mentions of a planet in the Outer Rim called Rostana. Apparently, Rostana was a wealthy planet, with a severely reduced military due to some catastrophe recently befalling the system. The pirates were planning to take advantage of the system’s weakness, and invade.

The group knew they had to warn Rostana to prevent them suffering the same fate as Harinath Enterprises, but they had more important business – saving Kashyyyk. K-27 began to pilot the ship through the planet’s atmosphere, while the group used the onboard comlink to contact Rwookrrorro’s spaceport and declare their arrival and warning. K-27’s piloting was alarming, and it was only because of the spaceport’s tractor beam that the droid didn’t destroy the transport. As the heroes disembarked, they were met by Zdenka, and two others.

“Master, this is Jedi Knight Irvine Akira, and his Padawan, Van Akira.” introduced Zdenka.

“My friend, it is good to see you here, now!” Dorn said joyously, then rushed to greet his colleague. The two embraced warmly, but got straight down to business.

“Dorn, Master Skywalker sent me here when you reported the presence of the invaders. What can you tell me?”

“We have just seen a Matalok approaching the system Irvine.” Said Plo, solemnly. “We must warn the inhabitants, and do what we can to defend the planet.”

“Wait!” panted Corsair, as he ran to catch up to the departing Jedi. “What about Rostana?”

Dorn pondered this for a moment. “Zdenka will warn the population there.” he announced.

“Butt Master!” Zdenka began, but was stopped by a glare from Dorn.

“My Padawan, the situation on this planet is most grave, and I fear that we may not survive to see tomorrow. You aren’t ready for the battle that is about to begin, and to ignore the plight of the Rostanian people would be worse then staying here. I’m sure K-27 will be glad to take you?”

“Yes, sir!” stuttered the droid, its want to leave the system clearly showing in its voice.

Zdenka nodded in acceptance, and embarked upon the Skipray and the group watched as the Blast Boat rocketed towards its destination. Quickly, they turned and began to travel towards the heart of the city, but before they had even gone a hundred meters, the sky filled with drop pods delivering the Yuuzhan Vong warriors to the surface. The Jedi took cover, seeking shelter from any pods landing on their wroshyr branch, Corsair following close behind them. They all watched with pleasant surprise as the pods flew past the branch, and down to the forest floor.

Just as they thought their luck was holding, the branch they were standing on shook from the impact of one pod landing nearby. Peering from out of their cover, the heroes saw that the trajectories of the remaining pods had altered to allow them to land on the wroshyr branches.

They had a fight on their hands.

Scene 2: Get To The Ships!

The group began to plan how to proceed when the sound of exploding thud bugs came from behind them, in the direction of the space port. Corsair immediately understood the implications of the attack, and why Harinath Enterprises had been targeted by the Vong earlier - the aliens were trying to stop the Wookies establishing an airborne defence.

Giving up hope of devising a strategic plan, the heroes raced back to the spaceport, and saw dozens of Wookies fighting off the invaders. Surveying their surrounds, Dorn and Van saw three Yuuzhan Vong warriors penetrate the Wookie defences, and run towards the docking bays inside.

“We must defend the ships until the pilots arrive!” called Irvine, and used the Force to jump over the swirling combat. Van followed his father’s lead, as did Dorn. Corsair had no intention of letting the Jedi out of his sight, and so followed behind them. However, his progress was slowed when one of the invaders blocked his path. The young adventurer responded to the threat by spitting a burst of blaster fire from his carbine. The alien fell over dead, allowing entry the spaceport, but Corsair had lost sight if the Jedi.

Walking quietly through the halls, he finally caught sight of the Jedi, just ahead of him. Dorn and Irvine were hiding behind a corner in the hall, and Van was sitting cross-legged on the floor. Without even announcing himself, Dorn turned to him; “Shhh… Do you see what’s ahead?”

Corsair shook his head, and then peered over Dorn’s shoulder. His eyes widened in surprise as he saw three of the aliens attacking an YT-1300 transport. “Why aren’t you doing anything?” he whispered.

“They aren’t attacking any ships capable of dog-fighting yet.” was Dorn’s reply. “Besides, we aren’t sure of their numbers. I think I saw four come in, but there could just be these three, or there could be many more.”

Turning back to Irvine and Van, the two colleagues saw the young Padawan stand. “Father, I sensed four voids in the Force, just as Master Plo suspected. The one we can’t see is just around the corner, about then ten meters from where we stand.”

All nodding together, the Jedi ignited their lightsabers, and Corsair reloaded his carbine. Turning the corner, Dorn charged at the Vong he knew to be hiding around the other corner. However, he was staggered when he saw there was a fifth alien warrior also hiding around the corner, attacking an old X-Wing. Knowing that help was on the way, he persisted with his plan, and attacked the warrior before him. Unfortunately, Dorn found it painfully obvious that he had chosen the group’s leader as the focus of his attack, as his swing missed, and he was smacked across the face with the butt of an amphistaff.

Meanwhile, Van ran forward and to assist Dorn, executing an agile Form IV strike at one of the Yuuzhan Vong warriors destroying the transport. Having already heard the commotion behind him, the Vong soldier spun around, and managed to dodge most Van’s lightsaber blade. The Jedi only succeeded in causing a shiim on his opponent’s arm.

All the aliens had been alerted to the danger by this point, and turned to challenge the Jedi. The fifth Vong attacking the X-Wing turned and charged at Dorn, screeching “Jeedai!” as he ran. He took a furious swing at the Kel Dor with his amphistaff, but it was blocked by Plo’s blade. However, the Yuuzhan Vong commander used this opening to kick Dorn in the ribs, and the Jedi stumbled backwards.

At the same time, the two aliens not involved in melee withdraw globs of a jelly like substance that Irvine immediately recognised. “It’s blorash jelly.” he warned Corsair. “It will immobilise you if it comes into contact with you.”

The aliens threw their strange weapons, and one succeeded in hitting the Jedi master with the goo. The other warrior was less accurate, and Corsair was able to side-step out of harms way. While the Vong went to re-arm, Corsair took an aimed shot, and grazed the shoulder of the alien that had hit Irvine with the blorash. Irvine struggled to escape the prison he had been covered with.

In the meantime, Dorn recovered quickly from the combined assault the warriors were laying on him, and struck back at the commander, hoping that once their commander retreated, the aliens would loose their morale. Again, the Vong blocked Dorn’s blow, and transformed his amphistaff into a spear. With one quick jab, the alien commander split Plo’s side, and poison entered the wound.

Van took a swing at the Yuuzhan Vong warrior he was facing, but his opponent side-stepped the attack, and struck back at the Jedi, but was blocked when Van lashed out with his leg and pushed the amphistaff to the ground. Just behind him, one of the Vong warriors collapsed; killed by Corsair’s fire. The alien had been aiming a razor bug at the adventurer, and Corsair had no intention of letting him throw it. Unfortunately, he pulled the trigger moments too late, and as the warrior fell, the alien insect hit Corsair on his left side, and began to eat through his clothing, and dig into his skin. He let out an agonising scream of pain, and began clawing at his side to remove the insect.

Unfortunately, this was a sufficient enough distraction to allow the warrior Van was fighting to push the young Jedi back, and the alien reclaimed his weapon.

Meanwhile, Irvine was able to free himself from the blorash, due to his experience with Vong weaponry, and began to move to Dorn’s aid. Dorn was still under assault from two attackers, but he managed to slip past a blow from the warrior, but again was struck by the alien commander. Realising he was in a losing battle, the Jedi fought to even the odds, and with his good arm, activated his second lightsaber, striking the alien with a shiak through the chest; killing his opponent instantly in a surprise attack.

Irvine was again the centre of misfortune, as he was hit by a razor bug at close range by the second last warrior, and the creature began borrowing into his flesh. Using his lightsaber, the Jedi was able to kill the alien and remove it from his arm, but his energies were spent, and he was too weak to fight anymore.

Now with space between himself and his opponent, Van called on the Force to flow through the wroshyr branch the spaceport was built on, and the tree began to sprout new vines all around the Vong warrior. The alien could do nothing to stop the vines from growing around him, and soon he was completely smothered by them. Seeing that his partner was caught, the Vong that had been aiming a thug bug at Irvine turned instead to Van, and a cold stare was shared between the two.

Before either of them could move to fight, the thunderous crack filled their ears, and only moments later did they all feeling the building reverberate from a nearby explosion.

“Not again!” Corsair ground out through gritted teeth, as the roof starting to collapse around them. Just as he thought he was going to pass out from his wounds and the falling debris, the shaking stopped, and a dozen Wookies rushed into the hanger bay.

Seeing that both Corsair and Irvine needed treatment, the pilots rushed to their aid, one group bandaging Irvine’s arm, while the others saw to removing the razor bug from Corsair’s side. None of them wanted to go near the four combatants swirling their lightsabers and amphistaffs in wide arcs.

Spurred on by the arrival of reinforcements, Van charged at his opponent and cut the warrior in two. Deactivating his lightsaber, he berated himself for using such a disrespectful tactic, but when he saw the state of his father, he quickly forgot about the fight, and rushed over to heal Irvine with the Force.

Meanwhile, Dorn was having difficulties with his opponent still. He was beginning to feel the effects of the amphistaff poison, and he could not concentrate enough to summon the Force to help him in the combat. He was near collapse, when six Wookies rushed past him and grabbed the Vong. In moments, the fight was over, and the alien commander lay broken on the ground.

As the pilots began to board their ships to fight off the invaders, the Kel Dor spoke to them saying; “May the Force be with you.”

A single minute passed before all the ships had departed, and Van and Dorn could see the air battle overhead through the hole in spaceport roof.

“Master…” Van began, but stopped when he saw how weak Dorn was looking. In silence, Van treated his three injured companions, and did what he could to get them all mobile. “Come,” he said, “We can’t stay here, we’re in no state to defend this spaceport without any reinforcements. I’ll get you all to a hospital.”

Scene 3: Decimation

The path to the hospital was littered with dead Vong and Wookies alike. The group made good time, and although they could see the battles raging on other wroshyr branches, they were not troubled by any opponents. Corsair found that this region of Rwookrrorro was unfamiliar to him, and so the pilots directed them to the medical centre.

Always asking how far they had yet to travel; Van knew when they were within two streets’ distance. He stopped the group and turned to Corsair and waved. “The two of us need to scout ahead. Come.”

Corsair hesitated, and so Van explained: “In a situation like this, there should be a large gathering of people needing treatment.”

Corsair nodded his head, “So what..?” then paused for a moment. “You mean there’s no sound. At least, not the level of sound a packed hospital would have?”

This time, it was the Padawan who nodded. The two snuck through the alleyways leading up to the medical centre, when they spotted two Yuuzhan Vong standing in the middle of the street outside it. Corsair pulled out a grenade and looked to Van for confirmation. The Jedi looked around the area, and when he found a good spot for an ambush, he indicated for Corsair to give him a minute, and then throw the grenade.

The younger Akira switched on his lightsaber and walked onto the street, glaring at the aliens. As he walked, he called out: “Attacking military installations is one thing, but attacking med centres is just evil!” the Vong ran right for him, but he stood his ground. When they were only a few meters from him, a grenade landed squarely between them, blowing one backwards, and the other right into the swing of Van’s lightsaber.

“That was too easy.” Van said as he turned back to join Corsair, but the look on the Corsair’s face was not reassuring. Before he could ask what was wrong, he was tackled from the side by a Vong that had been hiding further down the street, in another alley. Behind them, the Yuuzhan Vong that had been blown back by the grenade blast staggered to his feet, and began stalking towards Van.

Corsair was in no position to fire at either of the alien warriors, so got up and ran into the street, lining up his sights with the already singed Vong. Behind him he could hear the approach of more men, and turned to protect himself. He was relieved to see the two Wookie pilots, along with Dorn and Irvine.

“Where’s Van?” Irvine asked, sounding panicked. Corsair pointed by way of taking aim once more at the Vong warrior, which was now only seconds from reaching the melee between Van and the other alien.

Van was struggling to break out of the grapple he was now in, but his opponent seemed to be able to anticipate his moves. The Vong’s few words of Basic: “Know Jeedai strikes.” seemed explanation enough. The Padawan was so focused on his own battle that he barely noticed the other alien warrior fall down dead besides him. A hole had been blown out of his chest by Corsair’s carbines.

However, the commotion in the previously quiet street attracted attention from other lurking Vong, and so Dorn and Irvine jumped to attention, fighting as well as they could to defend themselves. Corsair donned his vocabulator and spoke to the Wookies in Shyriiwook, instructing them to investigate the hospital. He hoped that the language would be foreign enough to the Vong that they wouldn’t understand his directions, and he knew that at least one of his opponents understood Basic, and speaking it may have put the pilots in danger.

In the meantime, Van had managed to trip his opponent and break free of the grapple. He raced across the road to pick up his lightsaber, which he had dropped when first attacked. Taking stock of the situation, he saw that Dorn and his father had cleared the south end of the street of enemy, and Corsair had only two more invaders to worry about to the north. Turning around, his back to the hospital, Van re-entered the fray with the Vong he had been fighting.

The confrontation only lasted four seconds, as Van was hit from behind by a flying Wookie. The impact pushed him forward, and in a lucky break, he’d impaled the warrior. Unfortunately, he was now out of action, having cracked his ribs in the fall, and being squashed by the weight of the Wookie. His lightsaber had again fallen from his grip, although this time, the mistake had probably saved him from suffering the same fate as the Vong.

Dorn saw the new turn of events. “Corsair, you’re needed in the med centre. We’ll deal with those two.” he said, pointing to Corsair’s last targets.

The young entrepreneur jogged up to Van, and helped roll the Wookie off his legs. He then continued to the med centre, trusting in the Jedi’s ability to recover from his injuries. Having seen the damage done to the Wookie, Corsair was not thrilled to have the job of securing the med centre, and so peered cautiously through one of the small transparisteel windows on the side on the building first.

Initially, he couldn’t see anyone inside, and was confused as to what had happened to the unconscious Wookie, and his now missing companion. However, he managed to spy one of the alien warriors hiding near the doorway.

Pulling out the last of his grenades, the young hero quietly approached the entranceway to the hospital, and timed the thermal detonator to explode in twelve seconds. He counted to five before he rolled it through the doors, and between the two Vong waiting to ambush him. Moments later there was a blinding flash and the air around Corsair warmed several degrees. Peering into the hospital, Corsair could see the other Wookie was badly injured, but he couldn’t tell whether it was because of the explosion or from what the Vong had done to him. The aliens, or what was left of them, were scattered across the room.

The man began to search the hospital rooms, and found a dozen dead Wookies. He could tell that several of them had been doctors, as they were wearing operating gowns. He was soon joined in his search by Dorn, Irvine and Van, who all seemed to be holding each other up. When they were certain the building was clear of any other enemies, the Akira’s fell down onto the nearest sleep couches, each needing a great deal of rest. Dorn and Corsair stayed alert, and began monitoring the comms channels, hoping to discover the outcome of the battles.

It was almost an hour before they were certain that most of the aliens had either been killed or driven off the planet and as soon as they could, both Corsair and Dorn began broadcasting their location and the state of the medical centre. Wookies soon flocked to the building, either to congratulate the Jedi and the well known hero, or because they were seeking treatment, or were there to give treatment.

Corsair wouldn’t rest though. He needed to get back home.

The Depths of Kashyyyk: Revelations

Scene 1: A Day Long Remembered

Corsair stood looking over the medical centre he and his Jedi companions had just saved. A smile came to his face as he thought of all the good that could be done here, and how he helped that effort. Even now, the wounded were being brought in and treated, and by the looks of things, nothing was too serious.

The smile lasted only moments though, as the young man’s thoughts turned to his mother and his friends, back at Harinath Enterprises. Going up to the Jedi Master, Dorn Plo, Corsair told his often ally that he had to return home. The aging Kel Dor gave him a pat on the shoulder, then turned back to help treat those still in need of assistance. Running back to Harinath Enterprises from the medical centre, Corsair was terrified to see that his trade centre had been burnt to the ground. Fire crews were working in the area, trying to salvage what buildings had not been totally burnt. He could only stare at the wreckage as for several minutes, and was startled when he realised Kardeffca had come to stand beside him, and had been speaking.

“Wha..?” Corsair asked as he finally came out of his stupor.

“I’m sorry Corsair.” he whimpered. “I couldn’t save her.”

“Couldn’t save who?”

Kardeffca looked to the ground for a moment, and when he looked back up, there were tears in his eyes. “Syal. She went to help prep the ships for takeoff, and refused to go to the shelters. I went to help those that I could, but when I turned back to get your mother, I saw the whole east wing explode from an assault of Coral Skippers.”

Seconds passed in silence, before Corsair balled up his fists and swung at the Wookie, hitting him squarely in the face. “It was your only job!” the young man screamed. “All you had to do was protect her, and you couldn’t even keep her in your sight!”

His eyes became watery, and he ran from the site. Ran from his friend, and all the grief he had experienced. He ran for almost ten minutes before he slowed and walked to a park he had spent most of his youth in.

Sitting on one of the benches, he thought of all the times that he had gone here with his mother and father, thinking of all the good times. But they were no more. Both of his parents had been taken from him. He didn’t even know why Vikram had been killed, but at least he had taken his vengeance out on his murderer. He wasn’t even twenty standard years old, and he was alone in the galaxy.

He sat for many more minutes before walking back to the ruined shell that was once Harinath Enterprises. The fires were out, and rescue workers were trying to free survivors from underneath the debris. Corsair ran up and did what could to help, feeling in some way responsible for the loss of life.

Several times he had to pull out the dead bodies of Wookies he had known, including those who had been working in Packaging, and from Administration, including Hurra. For the most part he ignored Kardeffca, until the Wookie found Syal’s burnt and battered corpse. Kardeffca took the body reverently to Corsair, awaiting a response, but all he got from his life-debt was silence. The entrepreneur-no-longer took his mother and left for his family’s crypt, where he placed her body alongside that of her husband.

As twilight approached, an exhausted and grief-stricken Corsair returned to his home.

Scene 2: The Latest Resolution

Days passed, and the young man fell into a deep depression, which was not helped by the fact that Kardeffca was always standing outside his home - either waiting to help, or waiting for forgiveness. Sometimes the Wookie was accompanied by Dorn, Irvine and Van, either together as a group, or individually. It didn’t matter. He wouldn’t see any of them. It was their fault he wasn’t there to save his mother.

When he had the motivation to, he got up and worked on filing insurance claims, calling the families of those workers who had died, and finally declaring Harinath Enterprises bankruptcy.

On the sixth night, Corsair’s dreaming turned nightmarish. His dream began with him talking to Syal, but he knew it was not really him. All of a sudden, there was panic, and the building they were in shook. He called out to Syal, but could not hear what he had said. He turned as the building was shaken by another blast, and he saw a Wookie fall down, bleeding from a head wound cause by flying debris. When he looked up, he could see his mother running down the corridor to the docking bays. He knew that he was now seeing things through Kardeffca’s eyes, and he wanted so much to catch up to Syal and stop her from going further, but his dream-self would not allow it. He saw himself saving the lives of several Wookies before he chased after Syal, but it was too late, and the building she had entered exploded.

He awoke with a start, and it took several minutes for him to slow his breathing. He got into the refresher to clean all the perspiration from his nightmare off. Recalling the nightmare, he saw the alien’s faces as they slaughtered his mother and his co-workers. He saw Kardeffca’s panic, and the work his friend had done to save lives. He thought of the efforts he and the Jedi had made to secure the spaceport and the medical centre, and he realised that Kardeffca was not to blame.

But from this understanding grew a great anger. The fault lay with the Yuuzhan Vong. They were not welcome in this galaxy and he would see to their eradication. Others, like the pirates, would have to go too. No one should have to suffer like he had. Whether it was through simple chance or the will of the Force, Corsair knew he had been called upon for a new purpose – he would be a tool of vengeance for all who suffered.

Scene 3: Making Reparations

When Kardeffca and Dorn arrived on the seventh day to talk to Corsair, he let them into his home. Both were surprised that he would talk to them, but decided that they would allow Corsair to choose the pace of their conversation.

At first, Corsair began by asking for forgiveness from both of his friends. They were prepared to forget the whole matter, but Corsair wouldn’t let it go.

“After all the effort you have put in to help me in the past, my behaviour was way out of line. I’m gonna make amends for that, don’t you worry.”

Kardeffca was again going to deny that there was any fault in Corsair’s behaviour, but Dorn spoke up first: “We forgive you. We know how hard these things are, and the stress got to you.” Dorn knew that Corsair needed to clear his conscience before he could move on.

The trio left for lunch in the park Corsair had recently visited, and they began speaking about what had happened on Kashyyyk after the Vong were defeated. News of companies filing for bankruptcy were standard, but more common were reports of several building proposals being developed. Dorn took the time to express his worry about his Padawan, as Zdenka had yet to contact him since her departure. He was comforted by Corsair’s reminder of their first encounter together, and how well Zdenka had managed to deal with the situation. “Give it time,” Corsair said. “If a war has begun on Rostana, then they’d jam the comms. It could simply be a result of that.”

Kardeffca then steered the conversation towards business, explaining in detail how he had finalised the financial arrangements between Harinath Enterprises, its employees, stake holders and their insurance firm. However, there was one final thing for Corsair.

The three heroes journeyed back to Corsair’s house on full stomachs. Sitting down, Kardeffca revealed that he was the executor of Syal’s will. Corsair had put this off for a long time, but he knew that he couldn’t recover from his mother’s death if he never faced it head-on.

Scene 4: Inheritance

Kardeffca had told Corsair of the funds that both Vikram and Syal had placed aside for him in case of disaster, as they now faced. Reviewing balances, Corsair soon discovered that he had inherited several million credits. He also owned the house he was living in, a landspeeder that the family had often used, Syal’s jewellery, and other momentos from the family. What surprised him most, though, was when he was given a steel key to one of the special storage lockers not far from his home.

After Kardeffca and Dorn had left, Corsair decided to take a walk and work out what the key belonged to. The walk was short, and when he reached the storage service desk, and showed the clerk his key, the man was more then happy to help him.

He was led down a passage full of secure storage lockers, until they came upon a vault. It was the most heavily protected of all the lockers within the building, and Corsair was shocked as to what he now owned that would need such safeguarding.

“The vault can be opened from within, sir.” The clerk explained. “I’m not sure what your father put in there, but he certainly wanted his privacy, and so the vault was modified with those considerations in mind.”

“Thanks…” was his reply. ‘What the heck could Dad have put in there?’ Corsair wondered.

The clerk pardoned himself by giving Corsair his condolences and left, and now alone, the young man opened the vault. Stepping inside, he was quick to close it behind him as he discovered why Vikram needed the privacy.

The room, as it could no longer be recognised as a vault, was partitioned into three sections. In the first and closest section stood a simple pedestal, upon which was a lone datapad. The second partition was home to several items, some looked familiar, but others looked strange to him, the most notable inclusion was a small pile of gold in the corner. The third partition contained a large display case that had been covered with fine silk, and thus the contents were hidden.

Staring around the room, Corsair contemplated how he would begin his exploration, settling on looking over each partition in order. Leaning over the datapad, he began searching through the files, and was startled by the information they contained.

Dear son,

I’m sorry that you have to read this, as it means both your mother and I have passed on. I know that it’s hard to bear such sadness, but it will get easier. I’m testament to that. I just want to write that I’m proud of the man that you’ve become, and I’m sure that you’ll make me proud in the afterlife also. I know that I haven’t said that to you often enough and I hope you can forgive me for that.

I also hope you can forgive me for what I’m about to tell you.

You are the last Mandalorian.

When I was a boy, our people were slaughtered by Jedi, and less then a handful of us survived. Our commander, Jango Fett, was captured, and I was only able to escape with the help of a friend named Silas.

At the time, the Republic was beginning to crumble, and I did whatever it took to survive. When the Jedi purges began, I was old enough to participate, and I was good enough to make a small fortune of it.

In the end though, I realised that I had made a huge mistake. I was witness to the wholesale genocide of the Icarii, and saw that I had thrown in with the same type of people who had killed the Mandalorians. The Emperor was a person of pure evil, so I allied myself with the Rebels. I was disappointed when one of their figureheads turned out to be a Jedi, and not long after the destruction of the second Death Star, I retired from that life as well.

I settled down on Kashyyyk to start a small business that I had dreamed of as a child. That’s how Harinath Enterprises started out. It’s also how I met your mother, but you already know that story.

You may be thinking; ‘Why did we keep it hidden?’ and I have to say, the Mandalorians never had a good reputation, and the only one I know of still alive is Boba Fett. Your mother thought it best that I distance myself from my people, especially him, and out of love, I did as she wished. She even wanted me to change my name to Riker, and again I did as asked.

I hope you can reconcile what I have told you here with what you know of your mother and I, and know that it caused me great pain to keep all this from you. If my last act is to bring truth to your life, I’m glad.

I hope you find something of use from this room, and I wish you well as you grow into a great man.


Vikram Fyyar

Corsair stood silently for several minutes. He held no hard feelings against Vikram, as he already knew of his mother’s hold over him, and that he would do anything for her. He was surprised that Syal would go so far as to have Vikram change his name, but then again, she had done a lot more then that so Corsair could live peacefully.

He thought of the love his parents shared, and his thoughts wandered on to Zdenka. 'I wonder what she would think if she knew I was a Mandalorian?' A smile appeared on his face as he thought of the further implications. The Mandalorians were a people feared throughout the galaxy. He could use that reputation to his advantage. After a moment of day-dreaming, Corsair turned back to the message, and downloaded it onto his own datapad.

He then began to examine the second partition. On a set of shelves were several fake IDs that Corsair assumed Vikram had used as a Bounty Hunter, and there was an assortment of small weapons too. A family crest was present, and datacards featuring the Mandalorians were scattered about.

Corsair knew that he would have a lot of reading to do if he wished to learn all he could about his heritage, and so planned to come back with his land speeder and several crates to load it all into.

However, his immediate concern was the third partition, and what lay behind the covers.

Scene 5: Meus Armamentarium

Walking to the silk screen, Corsair grabbed the drapes, but paused for a moment, trying to imagine what might lie inside. The valuables were piled in the second partition, so what could possibly be contained here in the third?

Baffled, he pulled the silk aside and stared at the armour in front of him. He hadn’t seen anything like it before, but he could instantly tell that it was Mandalorian in design. The armour was blue, with aqua gloves and boots, and the metal plating was shiny steel, with purple sigils overlaid. Each wrist had gauntlets on them, and the young man could see that the right gauntlet was armed with a miniature flechette launcher, and what appeared to be an antiquated whipcord. The left gauntlet was home to a scorched but lethal-looking flame-thrower. The helmet looked pretty sophisticated, and Corsair hoped that there was an instruction manual for its use among one of the datacards in the first or second petitions. The final part of the armour that he could see was a worn-out jetpack.

Opening the display case door, Corsair lifted the helmet from the mannequins head and placed in on his own. Screens started to light up, and the hero could see a systems-check program begin. This was followed by environmental regulators activating, and finally the weapon systems coming online. He was a bit disturbed at the fact that the system controls needed to be operated by using your tongue, but his curiosity got the better of him, and he selected a targeting option. A small scope on the outside of the helmet came down to cover his right eye, and he instantly saw through a camera on the armour’s right wrist gauntlet, which was still pointed at the ground. His interest piqued, he began checking out some of the other weapon options, with ‘Boot Spikes’ catching his eye. Making that selection, he saw through the camera large spikes jump from the tips on the armour’s boots. He nearly jumped, as had been standing right in front of the armour, and was almost skewered. Selecting the option to retract the spikes, Corsair then chose to shut the system down and removed the helmet, placing it back on the mannequin’s head.

Wanting to check the instructions before he began experimenting with the armour any further, Corsair activated his own datapad and inserted the datacard he had used to copy the information from the datapad in the first petition onto. However, he found the data on the card to be nothing like the files he had copied. The datacard now contained files labelled with strange chemical and mathematical formulae, but one was legibly labelled as ‘Clone Subject 2683.0001’

Opening the file, he became troubled. Apparently, Vikram’s age (which Corsair worked out to have been in his mid-sixties), had made it difficult for him to produce any offspring with Syal, and so genetic manipulation was required for Corsair’s birth. Corsair didn’t understand all of what was written, but the highlight of the article was that he had had ‘design parameters’ placed on him. By age twenty, he would be the exact height and build Vikram had been at that age, meaning that the armour before him would be a perfect fit. Also, his natural lifespan had been extended, and it was likely that he would exceed the age of one hundred. Certain immunities had been factored in, which upon reflection he determined, explained his unusual good health. One additional point of note was that these parameters had been ordered by Vikram without Syal’s knowledge.

It was too much too take in after all the other surprises the day had offered, and the young man felt the need to get out into open space again. Collecting the datapad that had been left for him in the vault, Corsair exited and sealed the vault behind him. He again went to the park to think and relax, wondering when and why his life had gotten so peculiar. Finally, he walked home, reading from the datacard on how to operate the elaborately fashioned armour.

Still running on auto, Corsair returned to the vault an hour later with his landspeeder to collect some of the contents there, hoping he could invest some of the cash and valuables, and begin reading about his heritage.

Upon his arrival back home, he contacted both Dorn and the Jedi, inviting them to his home for the evening meal. With that done, he sat down on his comfortable lounge, and began reading in earnest.

Scene 6: The Coming Revolution

By the time Kardeffca and Dorn had arrived, Corsair had managed to prepare the meal and finish reviewing most of the datacards he had taken from the vault. His interest in everything Mandalorian had helped speed up the reading process. Relieved that all his immediate issues were resolved, Corsair presented dinner to his friends. Dorn had to apologise for Van and Irvine’s absence, as they had been summoned to Coruscant not long after Corsair had admitted Kardeffca back into his house. “It’s OK, I won’t hold it against them. I understand that the talents of the Jedi make them a wanted commodity.” Once the three were settled, they began to eat, and small talk was made.

However, during dessert, Corsair spoke his mind about the Vong, and his view of the several pirate groups he had come to be aware of. “The Vong have been infiltrating a lot of important institutions well before their fleet arrived. Their attacks are distracting the military from the real problems – like sabotage of corporations, governments and even the drive yards. Pirates are causing the same type of trouble, and they’re getting away with it! Something needs to be done about all this!”

“You’re angry, and you have every right to be, but it sounds to me like you want to rush out and take on these people yourself.” challenged Dorn. “At any rate, the Jedi are there so that the ‘distractions’, as you called them, are dealt with before the military is required to act.”

“I can’t just sit here and do nothing about it!” Corsair exclaimed.

“But what about the GP?” injected Kardeffca. “You were a founding member, financing their earlier missions. They were built for such a role, weren’t they?”

“I suppose,” allowed Corsair, “but when I left, they had lost the plot. It had even gotten to the point where men were playing body guard to minor senators, or assisting the police with crowd control.”

Dorn started getting an idea; “If you were one of the founding members, then I’m sure you’ll still have a fraction of influence. Perhaps if you got a measure of control, they could be used to police the pirates, and be pro-active against the Vong?”

“I don’t know if it’ll work out as well as you make it sound. The simple fact that I’ve lost my largest asset works against it. Any rate, it’ll be too late to take on the Tech Men Inc, which is the real reason why I called both of you guys here tonight. Before I charge in, I want to know what I’m up against. I want you to help me find out as much as you can about The Tech Men Inc as you can.”

“I’ve already began a small investigation,” Dorn said. “It’s difficult finding anything on them – even their location.”

“I agree,” Kardeffca interjected. “I knew you would ask for this Corsair, so it was my duty to do what I could to help, even if I don’t want you to go. It wasn’t any use anyway - all my contacts have hit a dead end when it comes to them.”

A pensive look formed on Corsairs face as Dorn and Kardeffca spoke. “No, no, you just haven’t looked in the right places yet, but I think I know where to start…”

“Where?” asked the Wookie.

“Well, I’ve managed to acquire some funds that can help us. They’re part of the inheritance I was left with, but they go beyond that. I have no idea how I came own to some of these sources, but I intend to put them to good use. Anyway, you’ll see it all tomorrow. For now, I have other news.”

In a restrained tone, Corsair explained to his two companions his discoveries at the vault, giving special mention to his heritage, and his new armour, but refraining from telling them about his real name of Fyyar, or that Vikram was involved in the Jedi purges.

"My past is not relevant. My father wanted to change the way the world viewed Mandalorians. The armour does not change who I am. Who I always have been. It is time for a new breed of Mandalorian. One who will stand for the rights of all species in the galaxy. One who can be called a hero.”

Kardeffca showed no signs of distress at the news, as he knew Corsair to be a good man, with strong ideals. In fact, he seemed excited about having the chance to examine the armour for himself. On the other hand, Dorn was worried about the image the armour would present, but like Kardeffca, he knew Corsair to be righteous.

The meal concluded, and after some more discussion, each of the heroes retired for the night.

Scene 7: The Seeds of Revenge

Convening back at Corsair’s home the following morning, Kardeffca and Dorn were pleasantly surprised to see him reattaching the faceplate to one of his computer terminals. “Yeah, I was able to get my hands on a holonet transceiver last night. I’ve been up since sunrise rigging it up to my home network.” Grabbing something from his kitchen to have for breakfast, Corsair and the others sat at the computer terminals searching the holonet for any references to The Tech Men Inc.

Unfortunately, their searches were continuously coming up short and eventually, Kardeffca and Dorn were threatening to leave when Corsair decided to go with a long shot. He accessed the Galactic Protectorate system, and entered his access code. He was worried that his attempt to hack their system would land him in gaol, but with some astonishment, he discovered that his access code were still in use.

Even more amazing was that the Galatic Protectorate had several files on The Tech Men Inc, and a list of their crimes. Corsair smiled when he saw most of the reports on the organisation had been filed by Sergeant Gujshun and Corporal Arenen. He had helped the GP recruit those two, and he was sure they had done their best to put a dent in the organisation’s business. He found one particular file of incredible value labelled Tytanus.

Browsing through the text, the young man and his companions learned that the main Tech Men Inc force was focused around a planet named Galatia, in the Outer Rim. In fact, the document told of an assault the GP was preparing for against the Tytanus.

Copying the file, Corsair turned to Kardeffca; “We’re a go!”

“What are you planning Corsair?” asked Dorn.

“Well, I’m hoping..” began Corsair, but was interrupted by the buzz of the comlink receiving a communication.

“Hello?” Corsair answered.

“This is Sergeant Jeff of the GP,” voice came from over the comlink. “Is it safe to assume I’m talking to Corsair?”

“That’s right. What can I do for you?”

“We’ve just received word you’ve logged into our system. It was a simple oversight that your access privileges weren’t removed, but it was also by good fortune they weren’t. I know you were searching for the Tech Men Inc, and I’m wondering what they are to you?”

Corsair could immediately hear the accusation in the man’s voice, and was quick to respond; “They destroyed my business, and are currently attacking a world named Rostana. I want to stop them, and I see you want that too.”

“We’re aware of the attack on Rostana, and have sent agents to assist the people there. If you’re sincere about your motives, I have a position available in one of my teams when we lead the assault against them…”

“Why do you want me?” Corsair asked curiously.

“You’re a good soldier, and we could use your experience. Your reputation may help us get further too.”

Corsair considered it for a few minutes. “What’s the catch?”

“No strings. You help us, get paid for the job, and are free to go your own way. Are you sure you don’t want to rejoin GA-01?”

“It’s something I’ve thought about, but haven’t decided on.” he smiled.

Negotiations lasted a few minutes longer, as Kardeffca refused to let Corsair go alone. Jeff needed to know if Kardeffca truly wished to go, and if he had had any combat experience. Corsair was able to explain Kardeffca's life-debt to him, and was startlingly surprised that the Wookie had trained extensively with vibro-axes. The Sergeant was reluctant to allow Kardeffca to accompany them, but eventually agreed that Kardeffca could go, and make the fourth member of GA-06. “Alright, I’ll send GA-10 to collect the both of you, then meet at the rendezvous point.” concluded Jeff, and with that terminated the transmission.

With that, Corsair kicked back his feet, smiled to his friends, and returned to his thoughts of a beautiful Jedi girl.

The Invasion of Rostana: The Invasion

Scene 1: Arriving at Rostana

It had been many days since Zdenka had left Kashyyyk for her mission to Rostana with K-27, and she was worried for her master, and her friend Corsair. As she had left Kashyyyk, a small fleet of Yuuzhan Vong vessels had begun attacking the jungle planet, and they would have been caught up in the conflict.

Knowing that she had to keep her mind focused on her own mission for it to succeed, Zdenka recalled what she knew of the events in the Rostana system. Apparently the system’s defence capabilities had been severely weakened recently, and the vicious leaders of the Tech Men Inc - an organisation no one could learn anything about – had decided the system was right for the taking. Rostana itself was a system governed by a monarchy established on the second planet, and the system’s wealth came from the vast amount of natural resources that the planets in the system contained. It was her duty to warn the people of the imminent invasion.

As her small transport streaked out of hyperspace with the droid K-27 piloting, Zdenka could make out the first few planets within the Rostana system. Heading towards the second planet from the sun, the comm on the ship bleeped. “This is Rostanan Security ship Advantage. All ships are to vacate the system immediately.”

Taking the comm, Zdenka tried to tell those aboard the Advantage important need to speak to the leaders of Rostana. “Mistress Zdenka, is Advantage not a strange name for a military vessel?”

“You’re right, they’re usually less imaginative.” Zdenka scowled.

Both the droid and the Jedi’s worries were confirmed when the Advantage began firing on them almost instantly. Taking evasive manoeuvres, K-27 was able to prevent their ship from being destroyed, but the shields were soon down. “Mistress, we’re going to crash land on the throne world. All attempts to raise communications are now being jammed.”

The transport began to nose-dive towards the surface of the planet, and when it became apparent that K-27’s efforts to avoid a crash would prove futile, Zdenka bailed out - free-falling ten meters. Unfortunately, K-27 didn’t have the opportunity to escape the doomed ship, and thus shared its fate. However, Zdenka was not allowed the leniency of recovering from her fall, as she knew that the authorities would be on their way, and the message she had for the rulers of Rostana was more important then bureaucratic protocol. Having seen the main city out of the view-port of the transport as it entered Rostana’s airspace, Zdenka quickly made her way there on foot. People stared at her due to the different style of clothes she was wearing from them, and they were happy to inform her of the direction of The Court, if only so she would leave them alone.

Scene 2: Warning the Nobility

Upon reaching The Court, Zdenka soon discovered that the nobility considered her a minor, and therefore incapable of presenting herself to the royal family. “But there’s an invasion force in orbit! Surely you know this?”

“What we don’t know is where you’re from, and what your motives are.” came the stern voice of Kyu Tane, Minister of Culture. “The King has no time for your pranks child.”

Frustrated, Zdenka began yelling “I’m no child, and the warning I bring is real! Your people are in danger!”

Tane was almost about to chastise her, but was interrupted. “What danger? What’s going on?” the Princess Cath asked. Immediately Tane bowed at the Princess, and Zdenka, not realising who this girl was, simply stood, and calmly explained the situation to her. The Princess scowled at the Minister, and escorted the Jedi into the King’s Court. At Princess Cath’s insistence, Zdenka repeated her story to the King, but met the same disbelief she had encountered with Tane. “Child, my empire is great, and no one would ever think of attacking here. I have no time for your childish antics, be gone from my sight.” he said, with a casual flick of the wrist accompanying his words.

Zdenka did as instructed, wondering how she was going to get off-planet, and explain this to her Master. However, her thoughts were interrupted when Cath came running up to her. “Are you really from the Republic? I’ve heard tales about that place and wish to see it one day.” Grateful for the company, Zdenka let herself be led into the palace gardens by Cath, and the two girls walked together speaking for several minutes about the Republic, the abridged history of Rostana, and how Zdenka could get a transport out of the system. The two were quickly becoming friends when their conversation was interrupted by the blaring of alarms. Only moments later, both girls heard an explosion not far from the entrance to The Court.

Scene 3: Battle Droids Invade

Running towards the noise, both girls saw that a number of battle droids swarming through the obliterated palace gates. All the guards had either been incapacitated or killed in the initial explosion, and so no one was there to prevent the droids attack. Zdenka knew it was her duty as a Jedi to preserve life, and so ran towards several of the droids while activating her lightsaber, deflecting blaster bolts they sent towards her, before she was in their midst, hacking and slashing with abandon.

Meanwhile, Cath drew a hidden blaster pistol from the folds of her cloak and began firing on the invaders. Two droids approached her, firing in rapid succession, and the Princess was forced to take cover behind a wall. Pinned down, she could only wait until the droids came to claim her life.

Luckily for her, Zdenka had sensed the danger the droids posed to the Princess, and quickly dispatched the droids she had been fighting. Pulling back to Cath’s position, she managed to draw the droids’ fire, and allowed Cath to head over to a landspeeder parked not far away. Zdenka was going to continue the fight, but soon realised that more droids were converging on their position from other parts of the palace. Taking stock of the situation, the Jedi knew that to stay and fight would be suicide, and so she ran for the speeder, and jumped into the pilot’s seat. Quickly hot-wiring the speeder, Zdenka piloted towards the now destroyed gates, ploughing through two battle droids in the process.

Cath saw the streets surrounding the palace filled with fighting, and was dismayed at how quickly her planet was falling to the invaders. “We need to get out of the city!” she called “Take a right, and go down Perez Parade. That should lead us into the swamps, where we can recoup.”

Following the Princess’ directions, Zdenka had piloted the speeder safely out of the city, and had left the fighting behind. Both realised that the next few days may be the most dangerous days of their lives.

The Invasion of Rostana: Recovery

Scene 1: The Underground Assignment

After hiding in the swamps of outside the city for two days, Zdenka and Cath were discovered by a patrol of Rostanan servicemen. The two were taken to a small encampment where they were fed and informed of the current state of affairs on the planet. Apparently, several dozen men and women from each major city had escaped and formed a rebel underground, as the planet had been completely captured by pirates working for the Tech Men Inc. A retired General had taken command of the Underground, and was directing them to free POWs and raid food and munitions supplies.

In the late afternoon, Zdenka was approached by some of the Underground leaders, asking her to take on an important mission “We are spread thin, and the rest of our teams are already in the field.” explained Lucos Dannt, the Head Master of the Royal House of Learning. “But we have just learned that the pirates are holding a recently captured group of soldiers. Unfortunately, they won’t be there long. As soon as the prison camp is ready, the invaders will transfer them to it, and this opportunity will be lost.”

Dannt explained that the pirates were using an abandoned building near the Central Plaza as a temporary detention centre. “The place isn’t heavily guarded, so this is the best chance we have of freeing these men and women.” Dannt says. “What’s more, the Tech Men Inc has stored some confiscated weapons near this makeshift prison. If you locate the weapons stash, you’ll be able to arm the prisoners immediately.”

Zdenka immediately accepted, but as she turned to leave, she found Cath following her. “What are you doing?’

“I’m going with you of course. You’ll lose yourself in the streets, you need a guide, and no one else is available. And besides, if you don’t let me come with you, I’ll just follow behind.”

Zdenka sighed, but knew she could do with help. “OK, you’re in, just stay alert.” The two then climbed into a speeder, and the pilot took them to the outskirts of the city. “Use your comlinks to contact me when the mission’s complete, and I’ll meet you here to pick you up.” the pilot said.

Scene 2: The Pirate Guards

The girls stealthily snuck into the city, finally reaching the abandoned building, and standing across the street from it. The place appeared to be deserted except for two pirates skulking in the shadows at the main doors. There were no windows, and the only other entrance appeared to be a small door in the building’s far corner.

Keeping to the shadows, Zdenka began to slowly creep up on the pirates, closely followed by Cath. However, the Princess had not been trained to handle such circumstances, and the guards heard her approach. Zdenka could hear the guards talking to one another for a moment, before one of them started to approach her and Cath. The Jedi waited until the last moment before activating her lightsaber and rushing the man. He had no time to aim his blaster, and was cut down in the blink of an eye.

Unfortunately, the other pirate saw his partner’s death, and began running for his life. Cath took a few shots at him with her small blaster, but missed, and there was too much ground to cover for Zdenka to catch up with him.

Returning their focus to their mission, the two girls made their way to the smaller door. “That’s probably the weapons stash.” stated Cath. The door was made of solid wood and set in a metal frame. It looked like it had a new lock, which emitted a low buzzing sound. Zdenka simply nodded her head, and slashed at the door hinges with her lightsaber. Sparks flew everywhere, but no damage had been done to the door. “It’s magnetically sealed! Looks like we’ll have to do this the hard way.” she sighed.

Cath gestured for Zdenka to move aside, and produced a set of lock-picks from a concealed pocket. At the Jedi’s shocked look, Cath explained: “As a kid I used to get locked in my room ‘for my own protection’. I quickly learned how to get out.” After a few twists and turns of the lock-picks, as well as a few minor shocks from the electronic lock, the Princess managed to open the door. Peering inside, the two girls saw a dozen blaster rifles and two thermal detonators. “First we’ll free the prisoners. Then we can arm them.” stated Zdenka. Cath agreed.

Scene 3: Security Droids

Walking swiftly to the main door of the building, the girls saw that it was also made of heavy wood, and would open inwards. It seemed out of place with the rest of the shabby building, as the door appeared quite sturdy and in good repair. Listening at the door, Cath could hear several voices coming from inside speaking to one another. She couldn’t understand what they were saying, but it didn’t sound hostile or aggressive, so she knew that intel was right, and this was the temporary detention centre.

The Princess made a move to open the door, but jumped back as a blaster bolt whizzed past her ear. Looking to their right, the girls saw two security droids with blaster rifles heading towards them. “I’ll handle this,” the Jedi said calmly, “You free the prisoners.”

Turning back to the lock Cath again used her lock-picks to get the door open. Inside, there were six people in a military uniform that she didn’t recognise. They all seamed to be weak from lack of food, and Cath knew they would be no help in a fight until they had been properly cared for. As she began to help them out of the building, Cath found herself being fired upon again.

Zdenka had moved to attack the security droids the two girls had seen, and had already destroyed one of them before she heard Cath call for help. Taking a swift glance behind her, Zdenka could see two more droids approaching the Princess and the prisoners coming from the left, around the building’s corner. Cath was taking shots at them with her blaster, but her cover gave her a bad angle of fire, and her shots were far off their mark. Working quickly to destroy the droid she was currently in combat with, the Jedi turned back to assist the others.

This drew the attention of one of the security droids, and it advanced towards the Jedi. With the droid’s blaster fire divided, the Princess was able to leave the cover of the building to get into a better firing position. After only a few more shots, she had reduced the droid to scrap. Likewise, Zdenka had shattered the security droid that had approached her with a few well placed lightsaber swings.

Once the fighting was over, Cath questioned Zdenka, “Where did those droids come from? And who are these guys?” she said, pointing at the strange militia.

“The guard who got away probably called for reinforcements,” was the reply. “I thought it might happen, but didn’t realise they would be so close at hand. As for the soldiers, I have no idea, but we can ask when they’re in better health.”

Arming the prisoners, the two girls took the thermal detonators for themselves, and made their way out of the city, calling the pilot over their comlink. He was right where he said he’d be, waiting for them in his speeder.

The Invasion of Rostana: Rescue

Scene 1: Lialla’s Request

Four days had passed after Cath and Zdenka’s daring escape from the battle droids, and had since found refuge with the Rostanan Underground. They had managed to stay hidden since, avoiding the patrols of battle droids that constantly scoured the city.

Lucos Dannt, the leader of the resistance, brought them news from the streets every day. His contacts reported that although the brave soldiers of Rostana’s Royal Security Force tried to repel invaders, the battle droids greatly outnumbered them, especially since unknown alien aggressors had attacked the planet only a month ago. Some RSF members were captured; others had fled and gone into hiding. Since that time, the invaders had captured many city officials, as well as some members of the King’s Court, and locked them up in makeshift prison camps. “There has been no word on the fate of the King, however. Although this is grievous news, we have learned that the soldiers that you rescued are part of a group from the Republic called GA-05 and GA-08.” Dannt informed them.

The girls quickly recovered from their previous battles, and the resistance leader brought someone to see them. The golden-haired woman was about the same age as Zdenka, but the lines of weariness and worry on her face made her seem older. “I am Lialla Tane.” she said. “My father is Kyu Tane, Minister of Culture,”

“We’ve already met.” Zdenka said.

“Well, he and my mother have been taken captive by the invaders.” she paused, looking at the Princess and the Jedi. “I have heard about how you escaped from a squadron of battle droids and rescued some prisoners,” she continues “I have promised to aid the resistance in another mission, and I have no one else to turn to. Will you rescue my parents before the battle droids harm them? The invaders have given the prisoners no food or water, and my parents are growing weaker with each passing day. I’m afraid they won’t last much longer.”

“I’ll do it.” replied Zdenka.

“Me too.” was Cath’s answer. “He may have been an older geezer, but it doesn’t mean we should let him die.”

“So what can you tell us of the camp, and where is it?” Zdenka questioned.

“The camp is on the Street of Glory. I’m sure the Princess will know the way there. As for the camp, the prisoners are kept in by an energy barrier that looks to be unbreakable. There’s only one way in, and it’s guarded by two pirates and two droids. Another unit of security droids seems to patrol the local area too, so be prepared for reinforcements showing up.”

After the briefing was complete, the girls again met with the speeder pilot who had helped out on their last assignment. “Good to see you again ladies. You know the drill; just give me a buzz when you need me.”

Scene 2: Break In!

Cath led Zdenka through a maze of city streets before they reached the mouth of the Street of Glory. The detention centre was set up a hundred meters down the road, and the two used the cover of abandoned stalls to come within twenty meters of the energy fence. The girls could see two droids guarding the single entranceway, and at the far right of the temporary facility, there were two pirates, guarding the place from attacks from the east.

With no cover left to hide behind as they approached the detention facility; the Jedi knew that a confrontation with the two droids was inevitable. “I need you to lay down some covering fire so those pirates don’t get near me.” she told Cath. Waiting for the Princess to draw her blaster from it’s hidden holster, Zdenka took her lightsaber from it’s place on her belt, and began to walk confidently towards the security droids.

The droids noticed her almost immediately, and took note of the weapon she carried. “Halt or we’ll shoot.” came their monotone command. The Jedi simply ignored this, and activated her lightsaber as she advanced on the droids. In the meantime, the pirate guards came to investigate what the commotion was with the droids. As soon as they saw the Jedi, they began to draw their blasters, but Cath, who had been waiting for such an event, began firing first. The guards jumped in surprise, and turned tail and fled. “Well, that was simple!” smiled Cath.

As the Princess watched the guards’ backs as they fled, Zdenka was too busy deflecting the blaster rifle bolts that the droids had fired at her. Angling her lightsaber carefully, the Padawan was able to use the security droids own fire to destroy them.

Chapter 3: The Patrol

As soon as the droids were reduced to scrap metal, Zdenka switched off her lightsaber and gestured for Cath to hurry over to the detention facility entrance. “Considering Lialla’s warning of patrols nearby, and the fact the guards escaped, I’ll bet that we’re going to have company real soon.”

The Princess looked at the keypad to the entranceway. “This’ll take a moment. This energy gate is far more complicated then the locks I opened on our last assignment.” she said as she pulled out a small security kit.

“Where did you get that?” queried Zdenka.

“After our last mission to free those soldiers, I knew that our next few objectives might be in a similar vane. Our best chance of winning this war was in freeing the captured soldiers, so I requisitioned these from Dannt keeping this in mind.” she casually replied while working on the keypad.

Zdenka turned to watch the Princess’ back, and spotted four security droids heading towards them. “Looks like that patrol is here.” she said “I’ll handle them; you just keep on trying to deactivate that energy field.”

Activating her lightsaber once more, Zdenka called on the Force to aid her in the battle. As soon as the droids were in firing range, the Jedi was assaulted by a volley of blaster bolts. The hail of fire was such that some bolts were getting through her defence, and caused small burns as they grazed past her.

Zdenka waited for the droids to reach her before leapt at the, instantly destroying one of them. However, she had tired from the fighting, and had slowed down significantly. She found it hard fending off two of the droids, and glimpsed the third remaining droid pressing forward towards Cath. “Princess! Behind you!” was her frantic call.

Turning just in time to see the security droid aim at her, Cath was just able to duck out of harms way. However, this meant she had left her blaster over by the detention facility’s entranceway. She could do nothing as she saw the droid aiming the blaster rifle at her again. A direct hit would surely kill her. Squeezing her eyes shut, and waiting for the inevitable, the Princess felt something change within her. She suddenly knew exactly what to do to avoid the fatal shot.

Somehow, the Princess flipped over the blast just before it would have hit her. Moving with incredible speed, Cath retrieved her blaster and fired a single shot at the security droid. It crumbled in a heap, deactivated.

In the meantime, Zdenka had finally regained the advantage in her fight with the droids, and after a few rapid movements making it seem as if her lightsaber was a blur, the droids were destroyed. Turning back to her companion, the Jedi saw Cath almost going into shock. “What’s wrong? Are you injured?”

“No… I don’t know. IthoughtIwasabouttodie butthenIfeltsomethinggothroughme andthenIdodgedtheblastandgotmyblasterandshotthedroid anditfelldownstraightaway!”

Zdenka found it hard to understand all that the Princess had just said, but she understood the meaning behind the words. Giving the Princess an appraising look, Zdenka grinned, saying “Sounds like you’ve accessed your Force potential.”

“What? Force potential?”

“Yeah, I’ll explain once we’re back with the underground. For now, I need you to get that energy gate down.”

“OK. Just give me a moment.” the Princess said, a mix of curiosity and anxiousness evident in her voice. After recovering her security kit, Cath walked back to the control panel for the gate, and just like she said, the gate shimmered and then collapsed only moments after she began working on it.

“Come on people, it’s time to go!” called Zdenka.

“Who are you children? It’s dangerous out there. We’ll never make it alive!” screeched one of the hostages.

“Didn’t you just see what happened?” Zdenka asked incredulously. “The droids patrolling this area are destroyed. If we hurry, we can get out of the city without encountering anymore security droids at all!” the Jedi counselled.

“But you’re children. You can’t protect all of us!” another said, panicked.

“But she’s a Jedi. She can do almost anything.” Cath informed them.

At this, a small murmur passed through the ranks of the hostages. Some had heard of the Jedi from ancient manuscripts, and knew of their extraordinary abilities. Others recognised the voice of their Princess, and became even more frantic in their pleas for the girls to leave them; “We’ll just slow you down. The Princess must be kept safe!”

“We’ll I’m not going anywhere without all of you.” Cath stated adamantly.

After conferring with one another for a moment, while Zdenka watched out for more droids, the hostages relented and began filing out of the detention facility. Just as the girls had told them, there were no droids to intercept them and arrest them again on their way out of the city, and the pilot was right where he said he would meet them.

Zdenka was relieved that she had contributed to saving all those lives, but was then stuck wondering how she was going to tell Cath about her powerful connection to the Force.

The Invasion of Rostana: Battle in the Streets

Scene 1: Rebellion

Three days had passes since Zdenka and Caths’ successful rescue missions while aiding the Rostanan Underground, and since then, the two girls had been assigned to supply runs, stealthily sneaking into abandoned stalls and taking as much food and medical provisions as they could carry. Their rescue missions, in conjuction with other Underground operatives, had liberated enough members of the Royal Security Force so that the war effort against the Tech Men Inc was revived with renewed vigour. In response, the battle droids doubled their efforts, attacking everything they saw on sight.

Dannt hoped that the ‘tamer’ tasks such as the supply runs would keep the Princess safe, but with the increase in droid patrols, the capacity to remain safe was diminishing. The Jedi and the Princess were on one such run when they were spotted by a patrol of battle droids. Being heavily outnumbered and loaded down with equipment, the two decided to make a break for it and fled, pursued closely by the droids. After running for several blocks, the girls were sure they had lost the patrol. However, when they turned the next corner they found themselves in the main plaza, and saw the palace looming up ahead. Cath almost thought of home, but her attention immediately shifted to action further down the street.

Scene 2: Battle in the Streets

A terrible droid, larger than any the Princess or Zdenka had seen before was walking towards the palace. Hiding behind a fallen pillar, the two studied the droid, and quickly realised that it was a starfighter droid, walking along the ground on wings that had rotated to become legs. Whenever the droid encountered an obstacle, it blasted it to bits using twin blaster cannons, reducing whatever it hit to slag, but thankfully, it wasn’t headed in their direction. The girls also managed to spy four battle droids accompanying the starfighter droid, which were firing on a group of civilians and two of the Republic soldiers that Zdenka remembered as being part of the GP; ‘GA-05 wasn’t it?’ she wondered.

The soldiers were working desperately to protect the civilians, but it was apparent to Cath and Zdenka that they didn’t have enough fire power to take on the battle droids themselves. From their vantage point, the girls could also see a Rostanan emerge from the palace with an R2 droid close behind her. The woman couldn’t see the fight taking place, and the path she was taking would take her right into it.

Zdenka called the Force to strengthen her, and then, with a nod to Cath, they both jumped from the cover of the fallen pillar and raced forward, splitting up after only a few meters; Cath making her way over to the woman and her droid, while Zdenka moved to confront the starfighter droid. Before the Jedi could act, the starfighter droid fired at the two soldiers. One managed to duck, but the other was hit head-on and died without the chance to scream. Concentrating, Zdenka lifted the starfighter droid from the ground using the Force, and pushed it backwards, causing it to crush two of the battle droids that just starting to take aim at the civilians. However, the remaining two droids fired at the woman with the droid. The woman was caught in the open and had no defence against the droids’ blasters. She was cut down by multiple shots.

Rushing to the woman’s side, Cath began to examine her wounds, but realised that they were fatal. The Princess began making calming noises, hoping to soothe the dying woman, but she could see the woman had something to say. “Princess… My name is Rebecca Soeul, I’m with the Underground… This R2 unit is important,” the woman managed gasped out. “It contains data the Underground must receive. I beg you, make sure it reaches Dannt.” and with that, she died in Cath’s arms.

Scene 3: Escape with the Prize

With tears in her eyes, Cath peered over her shoulder, hoping to see how Zdenka was faring. What she saw frightened her. The other Republic soldier had also been mortally wounded, and the civilians had scattered since they no longer had an escort. Zdenka also looked the worse for wear, bleeding profusely from her left arm after having been clipped by one of the starfighter droid’s cannons. While Cath was watching, she did manage to see the Jedi deflecting a shot into one of the remaining battle droids, and watched as it collapsed in on itself after having sustained sufficient damage to shut it down.

‘This battle doesn’t look like it’s going to end in our favour.’ the Princess thought, and her mind worked to come up with what to do. After a few moments she stood and walked to the R2 droid. “I need you to come with me, now. If what you’ve got inside you is as important as it sounds, everyone else here is expendable.”

By that stage Zdenka was worn and no longer had any reserves of strength to use to call on the Force. Looking for assistance from the Princess, all she saw was her friend’s back as she scooped up their supplies and escaped with the R2 unit. Gritting her teeth, and pushing herself up from the ground where she had fallen after the droid’s’ latest volley of fire, the Jedi slowly staggered her way towards the single remaining battle droid, all the while continuing to deflect shots fired at her. She was surprised when the starfighter droid turned its back to her, but she quickly saw that it found the scattering civilians better game. Unleashing her anger at the situation, Zdenka sliced the battle droid to shreds when she reached it. The screams of the civilians dying made her almost turn back to fight, but she knew that battling the starfighter droid would only result in her own death, after which the droid would kill the others too.

Weeping at the loss of life, and her own pain, Zdenka stumbled away from the plaza, hoping to catch up with Cath, and the landspeeder ride back to the Underground base.

The Invasion of Rostana: Signal Interruption

Scene 1: This is Only a Test

It was lunchtime in Perez city as Cath and Zdenka sat in the far corner of a casino at a dented card table. The casino was almost empty of patrons, but some of the regulars were still in attendance, their habits so ingrained they ignored the battles going on around them.

The Princess and the Jedi scanned the area cautiously, obviously anxious. “Why the hell should I have to put up with this?” Cath spat, almost knocking over the gambling chips the two had arranged on the table.

“Dannt asked us to do this as a favour. This Raymas we’re supposed to be meeting has information on security measures around enemy installations.” Zdenka chastised. “But I agree he should have been here by now. We’ll wait five more minutes before we give him up as captured.”

A few minutes later, just as the two were about give up hope that their informant would arrive, Daal Raymas walked into the casino. Taking a quick look at the door behind him, he hurried over to their table after seeing the specially sequenced chips. “Let’s make this quick, I think I was followed.”

Cath snorted and was about to start a tirade when Zdenka spoke; “What’ve you got that’s so important to Dannt?”

Raymas looked offended for a moment, but shrugged it off. “The invaders have captured the array tower just outside city limits. It’s why the resistance is having so many problems getting their vehicles into the city. Since thepirates are alerted to approaching transports, all the resistance’s agents have had to infiltrate the city on foot. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.”

They did. Each remembered the distances they had to walk to reach their objectives, and the lines of defence they had to overcome. “Anyhow, I’ve managed to get my hands on a duty roster for the place, including the positions of their sentry stations, and the times for shift changes,” he passed Cath a datacard, “The info is all on that card. Don’t lose it.” he warned as Cath tucked the card into her tunic pocket. The Princess simply gave the man a death-glare.

Raymas stood and turned before the girls could question him further. “Oh, one more thing; it needs to be hit tonight.”

Scene 2: Do Not Attempt to Adjust Your Screen

Cath was about to ask about the urgency of the attack, but Raymas was distracted by the three men who had sauntered through the entranceway, and had headed straight for the girls’ table. The leader, a large Human with a blaster pistol at his side, looked right at Raymas.

“Come with me, Daal, I’ve got a few questions.”

Without hesitation, Raymas sprinted for the rear exit. Zdenka seemed to be watching events unfold as though it was being played out in slow motion. She saw the three men draw their blasters and aim at the informant, and she reacted accordingly, reaching for her lightsaber. Likewise, Cath was carefully removing her blaster from its holster.

The leader of the group took the first shot, and in an instant Zdenka had sprung from her seat and sliced the hand off the shooter. He fell in a heap on the floor, holding the ruined stump of his wrist. The man to the right of the table fired at the Jedi, while the other man took a shot at Raymas, but missed.

Buying time for Daal to escape, Zdenka obstructed the thug shooting at Raymas by using the Force to propel him across the room. Cath pushed the table over and took cover behind it, taking pot-shots at her opponent. After witnessing the power of the two girls, and knowing that pursuing Raymas would now be pointless, Cath’s opponent fell back, using the cover of the other patrons to aid in his escape.

Zdenka and Cath took the rear exit quickly, also knowing that the casino was a dangerous place to remain in. There was no sign of Daal anywhere.

Scene 3: Broadcast Signals

As dusk settled over the country side, the Jedi and Rostana’s Princess were performing surveillance on the array tower. They had crawled to the crest of a hill not far from the array tower which gave them a clear view of the region. Unfortunately, the tower was on an opposing hill, and there was a lot of ground to cover between their position and the target.

Pulling out her electrobinoculars, Cath scanned the area for signs of movement from guard patrols. She could see four guards spread across the forward perimeter, and a group of six patrolling the area in the immediate vicinity of the tower.

“They’re just where Dannt’s analysts said they would be.” said Cath, with a smile.

Zdenka pulled out her datapad and displayed the information Dannt had provided them with. “In two hours the guards will end their shift. It takes five minutes for their replacements to reach their stations. We’ll use that window to infiltrate the building.”

“Why don’t the guards on night duty simply relieve their comrades in the field?” the Princess asked.

“I don’t know. These pirates are smart on their attack strategies, but it’s obvious they leave a lot to be desired in defence; how many prisoners have we rescued so far?”

“True.” Cath resigned, and then sighed. “I just hate having to wait!”

Time passed quicker than either expected, and Cath was almost caught napping when the six patrol guards entered the building. “Zdenka, they’re going inside… wait, the four sentries out the front aren’t moving!” she exclaimed, pointing to the group lined up along the entranceway.

“Hmmm… they were probably informed of our encounter earlier today and this is the added security measure they’ve elected. Just move quickly and take them out as soon as you can.” Zdenka replied before getting up a starting a light jog for the next hill. Cath followed behind, moving as quietly as the Jedi.

At a point about forty meters from the tower, Cath fell down on her belly, taking her blaster from its holster and lining up a shot at the guards. Meanwhile, Zdenka called on the Force to conceal her movements from the guards, and managed to go unnoticed. As soon as Cath saw Zdenka was within striking distance of the men, she began firing at them, aiming for the two in the centre. Her first shots dropped one dead, and surprised the others sufficiently that Zdenka got the drop on the guard closest to her, to the left of the entrance, and he died without sound.

However, the glow of her lightsaber was in stark contrast to the darkness of night, and the guards spotted her and began firing their rifles in her direction. The Jedi was able to incapacitate one of the guards by deflecting his own shot back at him, and the final guard was knocked unconscious by a well placed shot from Cath, who had approached the building as soon as Zdenka had caught their attention.

The girls made their way up the stairs into the building, carefully scanning ahead for any opposition. As they made their way through the lobby, they heard the sounds of several men talking. Zdenka indicated for Cath to take cover and remain silent while she went to check out the noises. Cath nodded with a scowl, remaining silent the whole time.

Scene 4: Reinforcements

Zdenka crept down the length of the corridor, scanning ahead to make sure no guards spotted her approach. The hall was only a dozen meters long, and there were three doors that she could see. The first door she spotted was at the end of the corridor, and she saw that one door lay on either side of the passage. The door to the right was the woman’s change rooms, and Zdenka had seen no female guards listed on her datapad. The door at the end looked to be a storage closet. That meant the door on the left was the men’s changing rooms, and the source of all the noise.

Moving to the door on her left, Zdenka took a peak inside, seeing the six guards going off-duty changing out of their uniforms, and another ten men who were climbing into their blast vests and signing off on their weapons. After taking a few moments to formulate a strategy, Zdenka jumped up and hit the door lock, and then destroyed the door controls with her lightsaber. The guards had no time to react, and were stuck in the change room. Zdenka knew, however, that with the combined firepower they had in that room, they wouldn’t be held up for long.

Racing back into the lobby, Zdenka skidded to a halt when she realised Cath wasn’t there anymore. She instantly began worrying, but moments later her thoughts turned to indignation as she saw Cath leading two technicians out from another hallway at gun point.

“What the hell are you doing?” she demanded.

Nodding her head at the ceiling above the entranceway, Cath indicated a security camera to Zdenka. “As soon as you left I saw it. I couldn’t let them call for reinforcements, so I kept moving. These two wimps claim there’s no one else in the building except the guards, which I guess you dealt with?” Cath half stated, half asked.

“Yeah… Good job.” the Jedi hesitantly congratulated. “But we need to get some reinforcements of our own. Those sixteen guys back there,” she pointed with her thumb, “will be out of that room in a few minutes, and I don’t think the two of us will be able to handle them.”

“No prob! As soon as these guys surrendered, I called for assistance. Now that there won’t be any alerts going off, the resistance can get here in speeders without having to worry about an attack.” Cath said and grinned.

Tying up the technicians, the girls made their way back to the opening of the corridor Zdenka had travelled before. They could see the door to the men’s change room glowing red from the shots that had been fired at it. Just as the door exploded outwards and shots were fired between the opposing groups, over a dozen men burst through the front doors and rushed to Cath and Zdenka’s aid. Within moments the fighting was over, and many lay dead. Peering through the mist, Cath could see that all the pirates were down, and so she rushed to the aid of her saviours. Meanwhile, Zdenka checked on the pirates, and discovered that they had each been dealt mortal wounds.

After order had been established at the tower, Zdenka approached the resistance’s commander. “I’d like a transport back to home base, please.”

“Sorry ma’am, but the General wants you here for the night.” was the reply.

Zdenka was puzzled, but let the matter rest for the time being. It had been a long day, and she and Cath needed their rest for what was to come the following day.

The Invasion of Rostana: Aid the King

Scene 1: Secret Orders

Cath was the first to awake in the morning, panicking for a short time as she did not recognise her surroundings. It took her a few moments to realise that she was still in the array tower that she and Zdenka had captured the previous night.

As soon as she had used the refresher and exited her temporary quarters, one of the Royal Security Force’s officers directed her to the mess hall where breakfast had been prepared for the Princess and her Jedi ally.

After the ordeal of taking the tower, Cath had built up an appetite, and sat down immediately to eat. She was halfway through her meal when Zdenka joined her at the table. Pleasantries were exchanged, and hoping to start a conversation Zdenka spoke; “I wonder why we had to stay here last night?”

“Beats me!” Cath managed to say while taking a large gulp of her blue milk.

“Actually miss’,” an NCO said as he walked to their table, “the General wants you to get as close as you can to the palace today. There are agents you need to rendezvous with urgently.” He passed the girls a flimsy containing their orders for the day. Curious as to whom these agents would be, and realising the importance of their task, the girls finished breakfast and quickly departed for Perez.

Scene 2: Strategy Formed

Cath and Zdenka moved through the streets of Perez cautiously, hoping to avoid a security detail on the way to their rendezvous. They had to stop several times and quickly duck around corners to avoid detection, and both girls felt weary of the constant hiding.

As they neared their meeting point, the Zdenka spotted a large force of battle droids gathering in the middle of the plaza. Cath was distracted by a whisper from behind them in the shadows.

"Are you for or against the King?" a member of the Royal Security Force asked.

“He’s my father, you fool!” Cath blurted out, drawing Zdenka’s attention to the new-comer.

The man examined Cath’s features, and a huge smile broke out on his face. He moved aside, and from the shadows the girls could see more people moving forward to meet them. As the group left the shadows, Cath leapt at the leader, landing in her father’s arms.

As the King held his daughter, he turned to Zdenka. “We are in desperate need of your help. We must enter the palace, but those battle droids stand in our way. We called for reinforcements last night, and said they were sending their best team this morning. They haven’t shown up yet, and we cannot delay any longer. Will you help us get past them?”

Zdenka took a moment to analyse the situation. She had just been told that she and Cath were considered one of Dannt’s best teams, and the King did not realise his daughter was so involved in the war. She decided to keep quiet and do as the King requested. “I will help, but I need back up.”

“I am grateful for your help” the King began, “but I can’t spare any of these men if we are to capture the leader of these pirates.”

“Daddy, I can do it.” Cath started. It took several long moments for the King to relent.

“We shall run to the palace door,” the King said indicating the two soldiers and his man-servants. “While we do, you must keep the droids occupied. Just keep them busy – you do not have to destroy them for us to win the day.

“Once we’re inside, your job is done. Flee in the opposite direction and find a safe place to hide. We will be safe enough inside the palace; we have friends there who will help us. Do you understand?”

“Yes, your Highness,” Zdenka said and nodded “and I will make sure no harm comes to your daughter.”

Scene 3: Fight or Flight!

Peering around the corner, Zdenka observed the battle droids’ formation. In the far corner of the plaza, an automated tank was defending the palace gates, but facing away from the group. Six droids were besides it, in ranks three wide and two deep. Two security droids were patrolling nearby. Finally, a droid scout on a rusted swoop was preparing to do a sweep of the plaza.

Signalling to the group that it was time to go, Zdenka activated her lightsaber and charged towards the six battle droids. Cath followed, but took cover beside a monument of one of her ancestors.

By the time the droids were able to react Cath had already taken aim with her blaster and fired a round at the closest of the six droids in formation. Zdenka had also managed to position herself between the droids and the King and his entourage. In less then ten seconds three of the droids had fallen and the rest were converging on Zdenka. The whine of the tank beginning start-up procedures could be heard.

Turning back to see her father’s progress, Cath managed to see the droid explode in a fireball, leaving the swoop unattended. The two Royal Security Force officers had their blasters drawn, and looked happy with preventing the droid from sounding the alarm.

Turning back towards the main battle, the Princess saw that Zdenka was surrounded by the remaining three battle droids, and the accompanying security droids, but the Jedi leapt into the air and landed behind two of the battle droids. With a single swing of her shimmering green blade, both were terminated. Realising that the most dangerous threat she would be able to handle were the security droids, Cath again took careful aim at one, and fired a quick secession of blaster fire at the one moving into a flanking position at Zdenka’s right.

The remaining droids fired at Zdenka and she was able to deflect one shot upwards, but the second shot struck her in the shoulder, and she reflexively dropped her lightsaber. Meanwhile the tank had turned enough that it had a clear shot at the Royal entourage. The first salvo tore into one of the King’s man-servants, a man Cath had known since birth, killing him instantly.

The King and his men turned to fire shots at the droids while they continued their movement towards the palace, and one of the officers was able to destroy the only remaining battle droid. Cath’s deadly blaster fire felled the last security droid with a shot to the neck joint.

The near silence of the plaza allowed Zdenka to regain her bearings. Jumping to her feet she grasped her weapon and raced to the tank, hoping to immobilise it before it could cause further harm. Her first strike damage the anti-gravity generators and the vehicle collapsed on the ground.

However, the turret still operated and this time the automated system perceived Cath as a target. The Princess was just able to get to cover before the tank fired. Unfortunately, the monument shattered and collapsed inwards. Cath had but a few moments in which to move, but she was frozen with fear.

Scene 4: Battles End

The crushing weight never arrived. Cath looked up and saw the stone carving hovering in the air above her. It slowly moved to her side before dropping to the ground. Stunned, the Princess swung her head around, trying to find the origin of her saviour, when she focused in on the Jedi, arms outstretched.

With the Princess safe for the time being, Zdenka refocused her attention on the battle tank. With a decisive blow, the Jedi’s weapon struck a fuel cell and the tank exploded. Zdenka was flung through the air from the blast, and Cath was quick to come to her aid.

Looking around while she treated the most severe of the Jedi’s wounds, Cath noted that her father had managed to get inside the palace, and realised they had completed their objective. The only thing left to do was get off the field of battle. That was when she noticed the rusted swoop. Dashing for it, she piloted the swoop to Zdenka and helped the injured girl into the seat. Taking the controls, the Princess flew them out of the city.

The Invasion of Rostana: Peril in the Ionosphere

Scene 1: Departure

With the Defeat of the pirates on Rostana, it was time for Zdenka to return to the Republic. Cath was there to catch the transport as well; both see Zdenka off on her journey, and to inspect the damage to the infrastructure of the moon due to the pirates.

As they approached the small shuttle that would take them to the moon where the transport to the Republic was to depart from, an Ithorian male approached, and introduced himself as the Captain. Before welcoming the girls onboard, he asked if they would surrender all their weapons. It was a wasted breath, as Zdenka concealed her lightsabre expertly, and Cath was permitted a firearm due to her position as Princess.

Three other passengers were already on the shuttle, a human couple, and an elderly man. The man seemed content to sit by himself, but the younger couple engaged the two girls in conversation as the shuttle took off, introducing themselves as technicians that will help with whatever repairs Cath will identify. The only interruption to the pleasant conversation being the Captains announcement of clear skies and a forty-two minutes travel time to reach their destination.

Scene 2: A Routine Trip – Never!

Just after the shuttle had reached the lower ionosphere, it suddenly lurched, and a shower of sparks erupted from a conduit near the ceiling of the passenger compartment. Two gouts of gas started streaming from cracks in the panelling.

The door to the cockpit slid open, and the Ithorian captain ran out, “Looks like I was wrong about the flight path being clear, we were just hit by some pirate hull remnants.” Asking for any assistance he could get, he was aided in making small repairs by the technicians and Cath, while Zdenka watched anxiously, worried about the gas leaking into the compartment.

“Oh, don’t worry about that. The gas is Kyvalon-4, perfectly harmless to most sentients, including all humans and near-humans.” was the Captains response to her queries.

Halfway through the repairs, the Captain began making his way back to the cockpit indicating that he needed to monitor all the sensors in case of more debris in their path. Before he could reach the door, the elderly man called out to him; “By the stars! Did you say Kyvalon-4?”

The Ithorian whirled around, and fury could be seen in his eyes. Roaring savagely, he struck the young human woman, slamming her head against the wall with a sickening thud, and she dropped to the floor, unconscious. He turned and raced at the young man.

“The gas has driven him mad!” was the elderly man’s cry.

Scene 3: Emergency Piloting

Running from the Ithorian, the human technician hid in the corner of the passenger compartment, next to the older man who had also backed away. Acting quickly, Cath grabbed a set of tools and moved to seal off all the gas leaks in the shuttle.

Meanwhile, Zdenka approached the Captain, but he dashed to the cockpit and started to rain blows down on the controls. Attempts to restrain the alien proved fruitless and Zdenka had to knock their pilot unconscious before more damage could be done.

Cath managed to seal off the Kyvalon-4 leak after a few minutes, and went to Zdenka, who was treating the unconscious woman. “Who’s flying this thing?” she asked. The Jedi simply gave her a blank stare.

Starting to panic, the Princess made her way to the cockpit to take control of the vessel, but found that the controls had been damaged, and the ship was locked on autopilot. Calling Zdenka in to assist her, the Princess was able to override the computer, and pilot manually.

With the Jedi manning the com station, and requesting assistance for landing procedures, the group were soon safely on Rostana’s moon.

Scene 4: A Short Farewell

After leaving the shuttle dock, and describing the situation to the ground crew and medics, Zdenka hurried to catch her flight back to Republic space. Cath followed, thanking Zdenka for her work, and asking questions about the species and locations in the Republic. The Jedi willingly answered, then boarded the transport.

Unknown to her, Cath had become increasingly intrigued with the Republic, and wanted to experience the wealth of knowledge and culture that the galaxy had to offer. She quickly used the tool kit she had acquired to modify the landing gear of the craft, and then hid nearby. Technicians soon found the problem with the ship, and while distracted, the Princess was able to stow away.

As Zdenka peacefully rested in her seat, Cath sat in the cargo compartment, her stomach seemingly filled with butterflies as she felt the ship take off and enter hyperspace moments later.

The Disputed Gem - Justice (Part 1)

Scene 1: The Briefing

As the Emerald Dragon approached its destination, a mammoth space station, Amonic began briefing Corsair and his two companions, the Jedi master Dorn Plo and his Padawan learner, Zdenka. The Princess Cath had been found aboard the ship soon after the group had left Kashyyyk, where the transport from Rostana had delivered Zdenka. The Jedi had to explain to Jeff that she had encountered GP teams, but all members had died in the battles on Rostana. Meanwhile, Cath had been confined to quarters for her own safety during the mission.

Amonic started their breifing; “The problem on Galatia continues and the original Republic Investigation team has not been found or accounted for. Thus, the remaining teams must go back. We’re the last to arrive, as we had to rendezvous with you first.

“Since the Republic’s presence has been felt on Galatia, The Tech Men Inc have become even more aggressive to their competitors - the Galac Bots and the Verpine and Arconian conglomerate. Both of these parties have been in talks with New Republic diplomats, and after long debates it has been decided that the Verpine and Arconians have land ownership entitling them to cultivate and mine roughly thirty percent of the planet’s land surface. The New Republic gains taxes payed by the aliens and the Galac Bots for mining rights on the planet. The Galac Bots may mine fifty percent of the land surface while the remaining twenty percent is to be used as a preserve for the natural wildlife on Galatia.

“However, The Tech Men Inc have been judged to be acting outside the boundaries set out by their now expired ownership deed. The deed entitled them to possess the planet so long as it payed taxes to the Empire and seeing as that body no longer exists and no attempts were made by their executives to legally re-establish their stake, it belongs to the legally operated Galac Bots. Thus, all ownership issues have been settled and the new policies have to be enforced. The Tech Men Inc’s private army is growing and is amassing on Galatia and in nearby sectors. In response the Galac Bots have set in motion a plan to neutralise a significant Tech Men Inc stronghold which guards a strategic position in a particularly rich mining sector. This fort serves as depot for forty percent of The Tech Men Inc’s mined resources and is a training facility and a manufacturing plant as well.

“The Galac Bots have assembled a vast droid army and fleet. With the fleet, the droids will distract The Tech Men Inc fleet protecting the base from above, while the land army will sweep in to besiege the fortress. This is where we come in. The base possesses strong shielding. The base also has a powerful ion cannon which needs to be disabled. A loss for The Tech Men Inc would be disastrous having great financial and political ramifications.

“The station we’re now approaching operates illegally, but has been coerced into accepting the GP’s authority. We’ll need to bypass security and infiltrate a mining ship headed to The Tech Men Inc fortress on Galatia for another pickup of the mined ore. We’ll wait aboard the ship until it arrives at Galatia. It will wait to be given permission to dock at the base for the pickup before proceeding. When it’s closing in to dock, the teams will storm the bridge and force the crew to crash the ship into the external components of the targets. If successful, this action would allow for the victory of the Galac Bots army.” After this lengthy briefing Amonic asked if there were any questions but everyone knew what they had to do.

Scene 2: First Steps

As Amonic’s speech drew to an end the Emerald Dragon received a transmission from the station with permission to land. Arenen piloted the Dragon into the dock and landed without trouble. As the passengers disembarked, they were greeted by dock officials and two high up members of the GP, Jeff and the Zamark. Greetings were exchanged and the stow-away Cath introduced to the Staff Sergeants. Then Jeff quietened down his speech saying, “I’ll brief you on our first move when you get to the quarters we assigned you.” With that the officials led the pondering passengers through a labyrinth of corridors, passages and broad walks till they reached a small, poor, disenfranchised section of the station. There they found their rooms and waited until Jeff came an hour later bringing news.

“Good to see you, team. As you are no doubt aware our target is the base on Galatia and to get there we need to secure ourselves a position aboard a mining ship heading to the TMI stronghold. Our plans to achieve this are already in motion. Right now a group of about twenty miners are being poisoned and in half an hours time the staff here will put us forward as their replacements, supposedly on a permanent basis. We will serve as mere workers and miners until our destination is in sight. Then we will instigate our attack, so until then we need to keep a low profile. First take all your equipment that cannot be easily hidden, and place it in safe storage aboard the Emerald Dragon. You’ll each be provided with a frag grenade, an ion pistol, two vibrodaggers, a Blaster Pistol and a commlink when the time is right.”

Scene 3: Cleaning Up

The teams easily infiltrated the freighter under the disguise of miners and ship crew, performing their duties for a period of two weeks. When the ship exited hyperspace and began heading for its pick up point, a large Tech Men base, all were ready and waiting to hear orders from Jeff.

Their brief was short and simple: While Jeff and his own team secured a small escape pod bay, the rest of the force would storm the bridge in an attempt to gain control of the ship long enough to crash it into the shield generator of the large Tech Men facility. The Jedi, Cath, Corsair and Arenen, however, had a task of their own: to temporarily hold the main security block for the bridge level so as to allow the main force a greater chance of success on their mission, and hopefully their retreat to the escape pods. At the end of the short briefing, the teams went their separate ways and the Jedi/GP team equipped themselves for a challenging conflict.

Scene 4: Lock Down

It took a few short minutes for the group to get ready for their mission and head to the security block. Upon reaching the entrance to the security centre Dorn Plo used persuasion on the guards to allow their passage into the bloc. Once inside, Dorn repeatedly had to draw upon his reserves of Force powers to pacify the numerous security guards lining the corridor until at last the group came to the door which opened up to the core of the security block.

Dorn’s powers again allowed their safe passage but exhausted what little energy he had left. While Dorn hit the deck, the others in the group stormed into the block. Corsair charged in, guns blazing, accompanied by Arenen doing the same. Both soldiers quickly shot down the few security officers in the room, at which time Cath locked the door. Zdenka was rounding up and stunning the security systems technicians when Arenen seated himself at a large computer.

With ease Arenen managed to shut down systems. Wrapping up the successful lock down, Corsair proceeded to the one adjoining room which functioned as a monitoring station for all the security cameras on that level. Though the room seemed unoccupied Corsair spied one guard hiding behind a row of supply boxes. He quickly stunned the guard and opened fire on the cameras. Arenen had finished disabling the systems when guards from the outside corridor began to slowly open the door manually. Zdenka ran her lightsaber through the machinery of the computers before taking her place amongst her comrades who were preparing to stand against a cadre of well armed and armoured security guards.

Scene 5: Break Through

The door began to open at an increasing rate and within seconds the Jedi had ignited their lightsabers and were lunging at readying guards with support fire from their comrades Cath, Corsair and Arenen. The Jedi quickly cut a swathe through the guards closest to the doors but soon found themselves swamped by stun batons as a dozen guards started to swarm on them. Corsair took the initiative and lobbed a grenade over the Jedi’s head. Arenen followed suit and soon the hallway was littered with charred bodies. Cath used her blaster to pick off guards where she could as Zdenka and Dorn Plo fended off as many blows and guards as they could. They were able to hold out long enough for Arenen and Corsair to charge into the mix.

The soldiers provided relief for the Jedi who then took the upper hand in the confrontation. Within a minute of it beginning, the fight was concluded with the obvious victor being the GP and the Jedi. In the immediate aftermath it was a commlink communication from Jeff that provoked them to action. The group reported their success to Jeff who congratulated them and ordered them to head immediately for the escape pods. Jeff’s team had managed to take the area yet were greatly worried of patrols and reinforcements arriving on the scene. The group marched steadily from the ruins of the security block towards their only means of escape.

Scene 6: Biding Time

Darting through passages and slinking through corridors the victorious group rendezvoused with Jeff and his teams at the escape pod bay. Both groups greeted each other with great relief, thankful that the others had successfully completed their allotted missions.

Concerning news from Jeff, however, indicated that little word had been heard from the bridge raiding party. A short commlink message was all that Jeff had heard. This message indicated that the bridge had been taken and the entrances to it locked but that the teams were finding it difficult to pilot into the Tech Men shield generator. Furthermore, massive reinforcement troops were amassing on the entrances to the bridge. The group took in this report sombrely; imagining the plight of their comrades while they waited for some news.

As they waited they also felt the pressure of time restraints; the ship was hopefully going to crash in under ten minutes and a platoon of guards could descend on the escape pod bay at any minute. Fortunately it was only two minutes later that they received another message; the ship had been locked onto a course that would crash it into the shield generator and all control panels had been disabled. Following this success the bridge was penetrated by reinforcements but two teams managed to evacuate the bridge and were, right then, sprinting for the bay. With renewed hope Jeff’s team along with the Jedi and GA group took defensive positions across the bay and readied themselves for the approach of their friends and opposition forces. Cath went through several pods and engaged them for launch so that they could eject without additional wait.

Scene 7: Waiting

Soon after, the teams heard movement in the adjoining corridor. Upon inspection Dorn found that it was a brigade of battle droids. He spread the word to his allies who began to tense up in preparation for the impending fire fight. As the droids drew closer the soldiers moved themselves into firing position and fired a few volleys into the mechanoids.

Before the machines could react Zdenka and Dorn were on them with blazing lightsabers. On another front more enemy troops began to arrive as a contingent of twenty armed guard rushed onto the scene. Leaving the droids to the capable Jedi, the GP forces opened fire on the guards.

Arenen and Corsair both lobbed grenades which tore through the first two ranks of the guards and surprising the remnants. At this time Jeff received a commlink message that the two teams that escaped would be arriving at the bay shortly. This inspired Jeff and his troops to keep fighting rather than call a retreat to the pods.

After receiving significant resistance, the guards fired back, laying down several heavy volleys which forced the GP troops to fall back a short distance. As the guards laid down continuous bursts of fire, Jeff’s force began to take casualties. The situation became even more dire and serious when another unit of guards was seen coming down from the third corridor that was connected to the bay. Dorn and Zdenka demolished the droids in time to prepare for the arrival of these troops.

The Jedi assumed fighting positions and Arenen turned his attention towards the second guard unit. Providing an opportunity for the Jedi to charge the guard, Arenen threw what remained of his grenades at them. The following devastation was followed by the Jedi’s successful charge into melee with the guards. Instantly those guards who were merely stunned by the grenades were cut down.

The GP troops were losing more ground to the first guard unit when the bridge raiding party provided supporting fire from the rear. Caught in a cross fire the guard unit swiftly fell under the combined fire power of both GP forces.

However, the second group was being pursued by a large force of guards. With the arrival of the surviving troops Jeff ordered a retreat to the pods. In the midst of this ensuing retreat the Jedi realised their fatal position; if they weren’t able to withdraw from their melee the pursuing guards could cut off their escape. Zdenka used all the powers at her disposal to cleave away as many guards as she could. Dorn meanwhile warned her that they had to go immediately.

Fortunately, while Jeff’s team and the raiding party withdrew to the readied pods with Cath, Corsair threw the remnants of his grenades at the encroaching force. The Jedi grasped their final chance to escape and sprinted to the pods with more cover fire from Arenen and Corsair. They all then moved into escape pods as the guard unit drew into the pod bay itself.

The pods launched away successfully and with little time to spare. The freighter was already on top of the Tech Men facility and was descending upon the shield generator as the pods ejected. As the heroes soared across the sky over the base they each managed to catch a glimpse of the destruction caused by the massive freighter. The front of the ship, despite incredible anti-air defences and shielding smashed into the generator which was utterly destroyed by a consuming explosion.

Scene 8: Out of the Wreckage

The teams emerged from their crashed pods somewhere on a sparsely vegetated elevated plain to the west of the Tech Men facility. The teams met together a short walk north from their pod wreckages and glanced periodically at the burning base.

Before anyone had a chance to speak, two fighters descended swiftly from the sky, strafing the wreckages. The teams were a safe distance from the crash site but still felt the impact of the missiles into the pods and the subsequent explosion. The two fighters swooped back up into the sky but their mere presence caused great worry among the GP forces. Jeff quickly asked for tactics and advice.

Dorn suggested they head north to where a Verpine invasion force would be besieging the Tech men base. This choice was shortly agreed upon by all members of the team who followed Dorn Plo along this chosen path.

They had not trekked far when the fighters were seen descending yet again from the clouds. The party members each jumped to the ground, hoping to conceal themselves. Helping their attempt to hide from the fighter pilots, Dorn Plo expended himself to affect the minds of the pilots to make them blind to the presence of the teams. He was successful in his attempt and the fighters flew right over head the travelling party. Though very fatigued by his use of the force, Dorn was able to continue the trip when supported by Zdenka…

Continued: The Disputed Gem - Justice (part 2)

The Invasion of Rostana: Renegade

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