Landing on Carda
Deliverance and crew look out at The Illuminator, glinting in the nearby starlight. The ship, but more notably the planet behind it, seem somewhat calm for what they might have otherwise expected. The plan, as it stands, involves Yaboor and crew sneaking out of the ship once we give the all clear, to steal a shuttle, fly back to The Illuminator and take over, while we find and rescue Trusk’s three family members.
As the crew make their final preparations, Deliverance comes in for a landing. The dirt pad is flat, but bears little resemblance to a proper landing pad. In fact, the whole area seems even more desolate than one might have imagined for the mining operations they’d described. A row of plain buildings lines the path headed toward the village center. Driona gets out and walks around Deliverance, performing somewhat drawn-out system checks while the others finalize the details of the plan. As she carefully runs her fingers along the landing gear, checking for wear, she hears Lucky and Yunn jump out of the ship, and start walking over to the two nearby guards.
Lucky and Yunn walk up to the guards who had been performing what seemed to be very routine checks of the area and ask plainly for “the quickest way to deliver the equipment we’ve just arrived with.” Though initially concerned at the inexperience of the crew, one of the guards, with chest duly puffed, remarks how nice it is to have somebody who follows procedure and continues to explain where to go and to help with the delivery. Lucky and Yunn take them up on the offer – a chance to distract the guards while the other crew escape was a welcome break. The conversation continues but as the guards speak favorably of slavery and all its benefits, Yunn can’t quite control his tongue. The guards who were once quite impressed by Lucky and Yunn start to resent them for not helping with the crate, and clearly begin to make disparaging remarks about them as they return to their patrols. Yunn, in an attempt to smooth things over shouts, “My parents had slaves!” which yields only sniggers and no further note.
At this point, Lucky decides he’d like to explore the village, but when he arrives, though there are several buildings and shops, he finds first that there are no slaves in this area, but perhaps even stranger than that, there aren’t many people at all – guards or otherwise.
The Path to the Mines
Once Yaboor and his crew are safely on their way, Vero and Driona start to cautiously explore the path that leads up the mountain and toward the mines. Not far into the trip, they cross paths with a Bothan slave, disheveled, and nursing an injured arm. A quick look around the area shows it to be quite secure – not visible and not easily approachable without detection. Vero and Driona cautiously approach and she introduces herself as a mining slave, somewhat in awe of the well-dressed non-guards approaching her. After a quick greeting, Driona pulls out a stim pak and after using it the Bothan woman appears tremendously relieved. A somewhat standard, stilted conversation between Driona gets her talking and soon she opens up.
“Everything just went so wrong. I shouldn’t be here, it wasn’t meant to be like this. And then things have gotten so much stranger since the discovery a few weeks ago…” They continue to converse and find that there are no good supplies, and the ability to support the slaves even minimally is running short. There are just a few hundred slaves at this point and while they used to be scattered across a few mining sites, the discovery changed all that – all slaves who were good for anything were redirected to work on recovering the artifact. She, however, had been incapable of any good work so today she couldn’t take it anymore and just… wandered off. It turns out that they don’t need many guards because the planet is a giant wasteland – they’d never survive off-site, and they can’t fly away – all ships go through the big ship overhead, so efforts to resist just seemed to disappear after a while.
Vero digs in and asks after Niss and his family. While the woman doesn’t know them directly, she has heard Niss’s name. He seemed to have done something noteworthy that the guards didn’t agree with, but she wasn’t sure what came of him. She did know, though, that a computer in the mining camp did have data about who was stationed where, which would be a good place to start. She also confirms Driona’s suspicion that given the small number of guards, it would be hard to disguise ourselves without being discovered immediately. Instead, infiltration in the guise of being slaves seems most likely to go unnoticed. As the conversation closes, the Bothan seems to have relaxed sufficiently, and finally gives her name – Utri.
Having com-linked the others about the information, they meet us in the mountains. We leave Utri to rest and stand guard – instructing her to run for the ship should she hear gunfire. The rest of us quickly dishevel ourselves in fairly simple slave-like disguises and we make our way into camp. The computer is easy to find, and initial information quickly reveals that Niss and family are stationed here… but at the innermost depths of the mining caves. Driona then tries to explore to find more about what was discovered. There is very descriptive information about the artifact that though unnamed, seems more and more like a Holocron as she reads. However, the attempt to find out about the artifact seems to be enough to have triggered a state of heightened security for the artifact, and having found that it is no longer in the cave, but is stationed in the village, Driona also learns that is will be guarded all the more closely.
With this information gathered, the crew also looks for the long-range communications systems. After finally finding the comm equipment, Driona attempts to tweak it just enough to knock out long-range communications. That doesn’t happen, but in the effort, it seems that planet-side communications do get knocked out of order. This draws the attention of the few guards who were nearby, and given the concern about the artifact, soon no guards remain in the cave itself.
Into the Darkness
As the intrepid spelunkers venture into the depths of the mining cave, the lights get dimmer, the air gets damper and there are fewer slaves and less equipment. As they cross a sizable underground river, the crew can hear a cry for help in the distance. The walls of the cave do nobody any favors, and the echoes are hard to pinpoint but soon they find a Trandoshan woman, somewhat frantically explaining that her son, Kron, was chipping away at his mining site, and opened up a chasm of sorts. It caught him by surprise and he fell in and got stuck a few meters down. Fortunately Yunn has his rope and the crew fashions a rescue loop and a few hand-hold knots to the end of the rope. Yunn then goes over to calm the anxious Sarkh, and help keep her out of the way of the crew. They anchor the rope to a rock in the cave and Driona starts to talk with Kron, who is 10 and clearly unsure of what to do.
“Can you grab the rope and get your arms into it?” she asks.
“I can try…” he responds, a bit anxiously.
They throw down the rope, feel it move a bit and he calls back that he’s ready. They start to lift him and after a few initial cries of pain as they slowly lift him out of place, soon they seem to get stuck. There’s a small overhang and Kron is caught below it. They gently work to slide the rope over to the side, which goes well but as they try to lift again Kron calls out that the rope seems to be unraveling! Driona calls down again to see if he can wrap the rope around his hand and hold onto a knot above the damaged area. With some coaxing, Kron manages, and Vero and Lucky are able to carefully but swiftly pull him the rest of the way up, out of the crevice. Kron is clearly in pain, but the attempts to help heal him are not terribly successful. However because Sarkh is clearly so worried about her son, Lucky tells her how things are looking good, Driona fashions a pretty needless but pretty convincing splint, and they get ready to leave. As they work with Kron, Yunn also shares how they talked about Niss – who is not here in the mine with them.
Yunn had gone on a hunger strike, to protest the conditions for the slaves. This disobedience was enough to get the guards angry, so they removed him from the other slaves and have been holding him in the village.
Anything but Snakes?
The crew, along with Sarkah and Kron, get ready to leave but Vero notices movement near the bridge across the river. After discussing what she sees, they figure out that these are large backpack-sized spiders, a couple groups of them, and nothing like your normal house spider. They’re very vicious, and very deadly. Vero, hearing this, takes a glow rod, and quickly turns it on and throws it at the wall next to the spiders. Whether it was the lights, the noise, or both, one group of spiders nearest the now-dark glow rod scuttled backwards, and off the edge of the ravine into the river and were carried out of sight. Vero follows this up with two stun grenades, but both of them miss their mark. The first tumbles into the river, exploding there without damaging the spiders… but also without their notice. However the second one overshoots and explodes in the distance, which is followed by the deep rumbling growl of a beast in the distant darkness.
Yunn rushes up with two additional stun grenades and throws it at the same time as Vero. One of the grenades knocks out one of the remaining spiders and clearly disorients the others. Lucky then walks up to the spiders, and with a powerful voice, unleashes a tirade so ferocious at the final spider that the animal curls up, and twitches just enough that it too tumbles into the river below.
The noise, however, only further attracts the beast, approaching the pile of rocks that Lucky and Yunn had crafted on the far side of the bridge, to preemptively protect the crew from the quick approach of any enemies. As the beast slowly stumbles up to and across the rocks, the group recognizes the signs and realizes that it is a gundark, headed their way and unlikely to leave them alive. The realization is moments too late, for the gundark finally tops the pile of rocks and bounds across the bridge towards Vero, who’d taken a shot at the beast. The gundark spreads its four arms wide and swings brutally towards Vero, However, Vero was ready. Having grown up in dark caves, Vero had exceptional dark vision, and had honed his balance and reflexes – a necessity when stumbling over obscured objects is part of one’s daily life. Vero manages to narrowly avoid all of the attempted blows of the Gundark, long enough for the rest of the team to fire shot after shot at the vicious animal until it collapses at Vero’s feet. Without wasting more time than needed to loot the body and find… nothing, as it was a wild animal, the crew and family make their way out of the cave, and back to the ship.
As Sarkh and Vero clamber into Trusk’s good old ship, Utri peers out from behind one of the support legs of the ship, and asks if she too can come on board. When all the new folks are safely on the ship with food and a place to rest, Driona turns to the rest of the crew.
“I’m not sure of what I found, but when looking into the discovery… I think… well. I believe it is a Holocron.” Everybody stares back, blankly. Vero asks what that is, and Driona goes on to explain that it’s some sort of energy or knowledge source for the Jedi or the Sith… she isn’t sure which, but she’d heard her parents mention it as they’d traveled around in attempts to find her sister throughout the preceeding years. Slowly the rest of the crew starts to recall various stories of the Sith and the systemic annihilation of the Jedi… and though everybody is unsure what this artifact might entail, they agree to seek it in the village while they look for Niss.
Halcyon and Holocron
Still in the guise of slaves, the crew makes their way into the villiage, now seemingly abandoned. They carefully explore the shops together, unable to communicate more than the distance of their own voices. They find an empty cradle not for a child but for a valuable object – the artifact had clearly been there… and removed. Then, as they walk further they stop, startled at the sound of a woman, angrily yelling.
“Fine. Just leave me here then. That’s it. I’m done.”
Lucky quickly removes his disguise and makes his way in, Vero right behind him. Lucky enters and starts crafting his story.
“I’m so sorry, but I am at a loss – it seems everybody has gone and I don’t know where I am supposed to be to get off this awful planet. Can you help me?” The woman looks at him, and says she is surprised that he doesn’t know her, and she does not know him. However, she seems more-or-less convinced and introduces herself. Commander Sarah Halcyon, and help him? “I’ll help you, perhaps, if you can help me.”
As they continue their conversation, Sarah reveals that she didn’t like how things came together and didn’t want to be part of this operation at all. After pushing a bit more, Lucky gets her to open up a bit. She has no Zann loyalty, but was brought here to repay a fabricated debt of Tyber Zann. She was put in charge simply because she’d run a similar slave operation on Ryloth. What she is asking for is a ride to her own ship, stashed of in the mountains – her insurance against just this sort of a situation. Ultimately she offers us an artifact found on the planet as payment for the trouble.
Lucky looks at her and making it clear that he might be able to help, asks for more information about Niss. This is conceded in exchange for a mechanic giving her ship a once-over and a tune up before she departs.
We board and fly out to the location Sarah gave for her ship and find it easily. A beautiful Z95 Head Hunter ship – one of the older ones, but in good shape overall. Driona gives it a once-over and finds that it is generally ready, but tries to buy some time for the crew to look for Niss. She explains that this thing here shows this sort of damage and without attention could cause real issues later. Sarah doesn’t really buy it, but also doesn’t want to risk it, so Driona gets to work. She grabs some supplies off the ship and then with more seriousness than she’s shown before, turns to Yunn. “Take the ship to go find Niss. And don’t get her into any trouble, okay?” Yunn and Vero head off to the ship, while Lucky stays behind to chat with Sarah, who is now somewhat more convinced of the ships disrepair, since clearly Driona doesn’t often trust her ship to the others on the crew. Driona crafts a makeshift workbench from scrap branches and a bit of scrap metal from the ship, and Deliverance makes a somewhat bumpy ascent and wobbles out into the distance towards the village.
A New Side of Yunn
Vero ends up flying the ship so Yunn can navigate. As they approach the holding cell, Yunn sees a guard who he is shocked to recognize. The guard has dirt on him, and Yunn knows that if seen, the information will get out – a fact he is not at all keen on. He redirects Vero to come with him and look for a back entrance… but there isn’t one. As they start to walk back to the front they hear, “Psssst!” from above. They look up and a Trandoshan is waving at them from the roof. “Are you Niss?” they ask, and inform him they’re there to rescue him. Yunn grabs some crates from nearby and stacks them against the building. Niss lowers himself down but as he falls, his feet crack a board and he gets stuck in the crate. Vero clambers up to try to loosen him, without breaking his legs, and after a few clumsy pulls is able to get him lose. As they start to climb down from the crates they freeze – the guard has turned the corner and is coming for them when BAM! Yunn’s shot from his blaster was sudden and deadly – the guard collapsed to the ground before Yunn had time to lower his blaster. Somewhat stunned, Vero looks from the guard, to Yunn, and is only shaken from the confusion when Niss grabs him as he stumbles away from the crates.
Together, Yunn, Niss and Vero make their way back to the ship. Driona is finishing her work on the beautiful old ship and Lucky turns to Sarah to get the artifact, before letting Sarah board her ship. As she hands it over, she says, “I hope it’s worth it.”
With Sarah’s ominous departing words, everybody finds their spot on the ship for the voyage home. A quick communication with Yaboor reveals that their mission was wildly successful – they caught the meager staff of The Illuminator off guard, and took over without much incident. On ship, Vero, with cup-o-noodles in hand, runs through the very unnerving events of the day… Yunn – so unusually swift and deadly for his usually easy-going nature. Driona gladly slips into her captain’s chair and sets the now-familiar course back to the space station. The Trandoshan family embrace each other, and settle into the familiarity of Trusk’s quarters, to rest peacefully for the first time in ages and Lucky tucks the artifact away safely, wondering just how many credits they can gather for this fortuitous find. For the briefest moment, they all breath deeply, enjoying this moment of calm, which they all know is only between the storms of life on the outer rim.