Sunday, March 8, 2009

Clone Wars Campaign: Recap # 11-12

Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader, I realized I skipped a recap in the series, so here's a double-length post to put things right. You'll notice that Ycram, now an NPC, still has a role to play in the campaign. And poor 8P-MD-4 was fated to have a tough time inside that anomaly. The character of Lee was the alternate character for my sig-other (who normally runs Arresta).

Episode 2.2: The Ominous Silence


Time begins to run short in the Ansion system. As Republic operatives find themselves poised for an attack on a possible terrorist camp, just a few scant days remain before the anomaly becomes accessible, necessitating difficult choices. Will they spend their time readying weapons and supplies for the trials that lay ahead, and trust that preparation will carry them through? Or should they attempt to infiltrate Soerrg the Hutt's operation, and possibly nip these terrorist attacks in the bud? Or risk searching the asteroid field for a missing Jedi Master, and thereby gain a powerful ally? The fates of thousands depend upon the strength and wisdom of a would-be Jedi, a princess far from home, and a mercenary with a hidden past.

Tarn gets a private call on his comlink from Bel Sekand's operation: they receive regular updates on out-of-system business interests, and have learned that Tarn's sister has gone into deep debt with a Hutt. Tarn takes Arresta and leaves to see Bel Sekand to negotiate a deal.

Marpa8P-MD-4 encounter a group of "autograph seekers", but Marpa successfully persuades them that he lost all of the money from the earlier competition gambling in the Ansion Dream casino. The Duros and the droid return to Delia's Ultimatum, where they encounter a Muun held at gunpoint by Maytoc Kolene. The almost gratingly-obsequious Muun explains that his name is Beeze Tonith, and that he is Soerrg's major-domo and has been asked to come for them and deliver Soerrg's invitation. After a brief conference, the two decide to go with Beeze. After several security precautions to throw off pursuit, they arrive at Soerrg's base of operations: a huge moving grasscrawler, bristling with weapons and armor.

At Beeze's invitation, they are taken to the lowest level of the crawler and witness a series of underground pit fights, including one between "John Doe" (recognizable as the Clone Commando spy Quaddie) and the duelist Twitch. Twitch disintegrates a fist-sized hole in Quaddie's stomach but is then getting soundly thrashed by the clone trooper when Jocasta arranges an early end to the competition. Marpa speaks briefly with Jocasta and learns that she has somehow obtained Tarn's datapad and has accessed all of the information stored on it. Later that night, Marpa plants the group's last satchel charge above the tread mechanism of the crawler.

After a few hours of sleep, Marpa and 8P-MD-4 manage to make contact with Quaddie and learn that he's sure the terrorist operations are being directed from the crawler and that, although nothing points directly to Soergg directing the operation, the Hutt is the most likely candidate. The three decide not to assassinate Soergg but instead, after darkness falls, to try to slice into the crawler's communications system to get firm coordinates on where the raider base is located in the asteroid field. The operation will be a tricky one, as one person must slice into the computers in the crawler's control room while someone else simultaneously slices into the rooftop satellite array, and then each infotap must be actively maintained for a full minute.

That morning, Marpa and 8P-MD-4 are granted a brief audience with Soerrg. He berates them for attacking the "peaceful, nonviolent environmental activist group” Ocean Liberty Friendship which he has been supporting to stop the destruction posed by the kelp harvesters. Marpa apologizes profusely for the misunderstanding and attempts to placate Soergg by "offering" 8P-MD-4 as a gift. Soerrg's advisor, Beeze Tonith, accepts the gift on his boss's behalf and then the two guests conduct a full reconnaissance of the crawler by making unannounced “repair jobs”. They notice a loading area with an extra landspeeder and rocket tubes, a lightly-guarded power plant, and the Gamorrean Blood Brothers moving a heavily damaged Destroyer droid in the turbolift.

At about 7 p.m. Quaddie, Marpa, & 8P-MD-4 put their plan into operation. The goal of step one of their plan is to move the satchel charge into the power plant room; but a suspicious technician hears them trying to stun a guard and hits the panic button, sending alarms throughout the crawler. After subduing the guard and the technician, Marpa plants the bomb underneath a power console and the group heads for the roof. Marpa and Quaddie make short work of the rooftop guards and Marpa begins slicing into the satellite array as Quaddie goes with 8P-MD-4 to take over the control room. After a few moments, each infotap is in place and the plan is a minute away from success. Quaddie is able to defend the control room from an additional attacker, but a guard conducting a sweep of the rooftop gets the drop on Marpa and blasts him into near-death, which also severs the infotap. Realizing that the connection is broken, Quaddie reaches the roof and kills the guard. At 8P-MD-4’s behest, he reactivates the infotap and hopes against hope that the medical droid can stand alone against Soergg’s reinforcements for a full minute.


Session # 12

Fortunately for 8P-MD-4, only a single guard stumbles into the control room and is quickly dispatched. After maintaining the infotap for a full minute, the coordinates of the raider's asteroid base are revealed and transmitted to the Broken Diamond. 8P-MD-4, Quaddie, and the unconscious Marpa flee from the crawler on a stolen aircar.

After searching for weeks, Jedi Padawan Lee has finally discovered the location of her missing Jedi Master: somewhere in the Ansion asteroid belt. His telepathic communications have been erratic and muddled, but with coordinates transmitted from Soergg's groundcrawler, a rescue mission is now underway. But nothing comes easy in this galaxy . . .

Aboard the Broken Diamond, Jedi Padawan Lee, Trips, and an injured Deuce are nearing the asteroid field when the sliced coordinates are received. Lee manages to destroy an approaching mine and the ship makes it safely through the field to find that the raider base is embedded in a linked series of asteroids. Avoiding patrols, the ship lands on one and after crawling through some tunnels, Lee and Trips emerge into a small hanger bay. Lee calls upon the Force to get them past a guard, and after a short firefight in a galley, the pair are able to make their way down to the second level. A trap is waiting for them there, however. A crew with an e-web blaster opens fire, but Lee weaves around the shots and severs the barrel. Trips takes out the other guards and after a brief hostage stand-off, General Sarigar is rescued. After a quick escape from the base, the crew of the Broken Diamond receives two incoming messages: first, an order to arrest Tarn Tamarand and company for war crimes & crimes against humanity; and second, notification that the anomaly has disappeared.

After several eventful days on the planet Ansion, a determined team of Republic operatives have set off to enter the strange anomaly & somehow find a way to open hyperspace lanes and communication out of the sector. With the darkness that lies within, they will soon learn that once they cross the threshold, the only way out is through . . .

Meanwhile, Tarn meets with Bel Sekand. Sekand reveals that the Holonews is reporting that Tarn and his friends are responsible for the massacre of Separatist refugees in the Bothan system; he agrees to keep the Ansion judicials from making an immediate arrest in exchange for Tarn agreeing to hunt down a cybernetic assassin at some point in the future. However, Tarn is unwilling to admit why the Republic is interested in Ansion to begin with, and Sekand refuses to help Tarn's sister. Tarn collects Arresta from a waiting room and they head back to Hurkaset.

Tarn and Arresta return to Delia's Ultimatum only to find that an angry Maytoc Kolene has tossed all of their luggage on the ground and is refusing to let them board. Arresta's interpreting shows that Maytoc has seen the Holonet News broadcast which purports to reveal that the group has been involved in a massacre of Separatist refugees. After much back-and-forth, Maytoc agrees to one last trip. Shortly thereafter, 8P-MD-4, Quaddie, and Marpa arrive and the group prepares to head for the anomaly. Ycram Notwal makes a last-ditch attempt to convince them to avoid the anomaly and offers a possible way out: a dangerous escape on a kelp freighter with a special jury-rigged hyperdrive. Ycram is turned away, however, and Delia's Ultimatum lifts off for the anomaly.

[77 AG]

The sublight journey to the anomaly takes several hours, during which Marpa regains consciousness. Minutes before arriving, the Sun Runner appears on sensors and moves into attack position. It twice acquires missile lock on Delia's Ultimatum, but doesn't actually fire. Both ships move into the massive beam of light projected by the anomaly and are drawn by an energy field into one of several openings. Inside what is functionally a cone-shaped hanger bay, hundreds and hundreds of crashed ships are covered by thick strands of translucent webbing. The energy field around Delia's abruptly cuts off and sends the ship hurling towards a wall, but Marpa grabs the controls from Maytoc and manages to pull the ship up at the last possible moment. Seconds later, Twitch pulls the same stunt on the Sun Runner and both ships set down safely.

The crew of Delia's Ultimatum make their way to a relief/rescue ship that seems untouched by the webbing. Inside, they find that an elderly man has apparently been expecting them. He uncovers a black, glass-like kris dagger, a fist-sized obsidian egg, and a partially-burned scroll that pictures Arresta, Marpa, 8P-MD-4, and Jocasta along with various cryptic messages. Realizing that Tarn isn't on the scroll, the old man grabs up the dagger and stabs Tarn, shouting "You're not supposed to be here!" After a struggle, the old man is subdued and taken aboard Delia's. Meanwhile, Quaddie and 8P-MD-4 witness the crew of the Sun Runner using a damaged droideka to hold off dozens of huge, crablike spider creatures before making a run to the tapering end of the hanger. When the crew of Delia's arrives there, they find an ancient droid that delivers a warning and a triangle-shaped doorway with an inscription above. With the spiders nearing, a decision is made to pass through the threshold and into the interior of the anomaly.

On the other side of the threshold, 8P-MD-4 suddenly falls to the ground, deactivated. In fact, all of the party's electronic devices are inoperable. They bring the droid with them and continue walking through the strange, triangle-shaped corridors. At one point the center of gravity shifts, and they also find several pieces of clothing, weapons, and devices of various ages and cultures seemingly phased into the walls. An unknown amount of time passes as they walk, but they grow neither tired nor hungry. Eventually they reach a point where the corridors branch off into three directions. They explore the left and right branches but stop after encountering a strange, mold-like substance growing on the walls. The way forward, coloured differently than the others, brings forth a strange, particle-cloud tendril and a transparent, humanoid-shaped canister. Marpa thrusts the obsidian egg into the particle tendril and the egg cracks, revealing a sticky, slimy, slug-like creature. The party withdraws. After noticing that the creature had activated part of his equipment, Marpa places the creature on 8P-MD-4 and the droid powers up.

The party moves forward again as the ominous sound of drumming gets louder. Four tall, strong humanoids with mutilated flesh and strange organic weapons charge and crash into the party with a vicious fury. Marpa, 8P-MD-4, and Tarn suddenly retreat, leaving Arresta surrounded. Tarn calls upon the Dark Side and uses the Force to slam the leader of the attackers against the wall. Arresta expertly dances around a flurry of attacks until her companions rejoin the battle. Marpa pulls the slug creature from 8P-MD-4 and places it on his heavy blaster, and for a few brief moments it look like the tide has turned; but one of the attackers lunges and knocks the pistol so its pointing towards Marpa's head. Tarn leaps in front of the shot and heroically saves Marpa's life, only to put his own in peril as he falls to the ground with a smoking blaster wound in the chest. Marpa is then subdued and Arresta surrenders, as the drumbeat of reinforcements gets closer.

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