Daal, for example, followed his standard practice of reprogramming every unaccompanied droid he met into following only his orders. For medical droid GH-7 ("Slicer"), this would come to have ironic and fitting side-effects. Also in this session, Daal famously displays his Zen approach to life: when the others discover his terminal cancer (contracted from the PlagueWomb), he basically replies with the equivalent of "It's no big deal, I'll figure it out."
Speaking of diseases, Arresta caught one from being bitten by rakghouls this session after an unfortunate sequence of rolls. Given their location, it seemed to be an incurable disease that would inevitably turn her into a slavering beast. The Wife was livid, but I trusted that my experienced players would figure something out sooner or later.
A'tel was the first to figure out (in a clever and surprising way) a lever to push one of the Altered to vote for a new leader. On the other hand, his giving a young boy a sporadically-functioning lightsaber earned him the title of "Last PC to call for baby-sitting emergency."
Doxen got to shine in a fun adventure directed by The Wife. I played the Indiana Jones rip-off Korriban-Adi, and A'tel's player ran the flamboyant pilot Jasper. I especially enjoyed all of the traps and puzzles (things I didn't put in often enough), and the session tied into Doxen's emerging awareness of Force-sensitivity.
Welcome to the city of Haven: a place where sleep is but a dream, death almost a myth, and violence a thing of the past. But even in Haven, there lies hints of a very different place nearby—a temptation that has led to a dwindling of the steadfasts and a forced corruption of evolution that threatens the end of humanity as we know it. A place called the Ascendancy.
Daal Mordo awakens in the med-bay of The Flaming Halo to find GH-7, a medical droid, looming over him. When the droid is unable to satisfactorily answer his questions, Daal searches the ship for his missing companions. After finding little of interest, he examines the nearby Jedi starfighter and the Sun Runner II, again with little insight. After returning to The Flaming Halo, Daal prepares for a walk by organizing his myriad belongings: he carries a portion himself, places a portion on a medical repulsor-stretcher, and reprograms GH-7 to follow his commands to carry the rest of his gear. Eventually, Daal stumbles upon the rope left behind by the others that leads down into Haven. However, the Duro is unable to pierce the dissuasion field and resorts instead to throwing messages down the hole, along with another length of rope tied to the same rock.
Down in Haven, A’tel continues teaching Triv rudimentary Jedi fighting techniques—he even goes so far as to give the young boy a (partially-functional) lightsaber. Arresta talks further with Mazim and learns that his son went missing months ago, and was last seen with Sangla’Annex. Later, when Lucef meets with A’tel and Arresta, the three agree that the Third Steadfast is the weakest link in the triumvirate that keeps Leisha Camdeni in power as Speaker.
A’tel visits the Third Steadfast and manages to get an audience with its First, Eron-14. The former Jedi calls upon a subtle and delicate use of the Force to transmit images and emotions of life outside Haven, including the horror of war, the elation of love, the pain of betrayal, and more. Eron-14 is stunned and intrigued by this real-life alternative to the Dream, and agrees to call a Conclave to elect a new Speaker if A’tel will take him and his Second, Eron-15, with him off-planet.
While A’tel and Arresta concentrate on lobbying for Mazim to be elected the new Speaker, Lucef puts a back-up plan in motion: he sets about finding the spare parts necessary to assemble a ramp high enough to allow him to grasp the cut piece of rope still dangling high above the center square. After several hours’ work, Lucef has collected the parts and starts assembly on the ramp only to realize that another rope is hanging all the way down to the ground. After a difficult climb, Lucef reaches the surface and finds Daal aboard The Flaming Halo. Following a quick debriefing, the two return outside and join efforts in trying to destroy the orbs attached to the starships—although energy weapons have no effect, Lucef manages to damage one by repeatedly firing his mass-dispersal slugthrower.
Having found a potential means of removing the orbs, the two descend back down the rope to Haven. With everyone reunited, Daal is confronted about the mysterious illness hinted at by GH-7. Daal makes light of the seriousness of his condition and states that it is not something that the others need to be concerned about.
When the Conclave is held that evening, Leisha makes one last plea to remain Speaker. However, the newcomers help push through the votes needed to install Mazim as Speaker, and he agrees to allow access to the Excess (vacated Steadfasts) by opening the massive barrier-doors. Mazim tells them that if they climb a tower in the center of the Excess, they’ll find the Ascendency where their missing friends might be located. However, the Excess is a dark and foreboding place, and Mazim doubts anyone can survive there for long, as the Accelerated have used the Excess as a dumping ground for failed transformations and experiments on alien species brought to them by Captain Jorus.
The group decides it’s safer to spend the artificially-replicated evening in Haven and pass through the barrier in the morning. Through Lucef’s persuasive efforts, Sangla’ allows Daal to examine her N-field device. The Duros is able to glean some insights into how to disrupt such a protective field in the future.
Arresta is approached by Iagos Aurellius, Second of the Second Steadfast. Iagos is afraid that his First plans for the entire Steadfast to ascend, and has decided to try to destroy the Accelerated before this can happen—to that end, he gives Arresta a thumbnail sized explosive he claims can destroy the Accelerated entirely. Although Arresta can’t figure out how to set the timer on the explosive, she enlists Daal in the secret plot for help.
A’tel allows Praxeus Domanidrus to perform extensive and painful examinations in order to find out the secrets of the Force and its link with Midichlorians. In return, Praxeus agrees to use her advanced technology to Alter Daal and potentially cure him of his affliction. However, Daal decides the risk of death or insanity is too great and refuses treatment.
On the other side of the barrier, the adventurers find the Excess to be dark and depressing: empty streets, crumbling architecture, and a lingering feeling of despair. As they travel through the wide lanes toward the central square, where a massive tower can be seen from a distance, they start to hear the wind pick up—but this is no ordinary wind, as the rolling miasma brings with it echoes of what once was—snatches of voices, terrifying and disheartening presences, and a chill that grows colder as the black wind advances. Although the others scramble for safety, A’tel finds himself trapped in the wind, his mind twisted and scalded until he finally faints from the experience. Later, when he eventually wakes up, something is not quite right . . .
Arresta’s escape from the black wind brings her into another danger entirely, as she finds herself surrounded by a pack of slavering, toothy, deformed beasts. Seeking refuge in a corner, she fights viciously until rescued—but not without a cost, as the bite of the beasts carries with it a virulent toxin that will, if untreated, transform Arresta into one of the creatures. Lucef and Daal, meanwhile, have far more success destroying a strange winged creature.
After the group is reunited, it is once again faced with danger from dozens of massive arachnids. The adventurers are victorious, but emerge from the fight bruised and bloody. After reaching the central square and examining the tower, however, they feel the ground start to shake from underneath them and see a shadow looming in the distance. As it approaches, recognition dawns on their faces that one last obstacle remains: a giant, silver-scaled Rancor has smelled fresh meat.
MEANWHILE . . .
After an uneventful journey from Etti IV, The Gentle Lover touches down on Firrerre. Captain Jasper Falen and Doxen (poorly disguised as a Jawa) make their way to a sedate cantina where they hope to follow a lead, gleaned by Arresta’s intelligence network, on where Senator Orelus’ kidnappers can be found. Once in the cantina, Doxen is recognized and hailed by a Cerean named Maj (“Korriban”) Adi.
It turns out that, several days earlier, Adi hired a group of Rodians to help him in an “archaeological dig” on a forbidden planet. Although the “dig” turned up several precious artifacts, the Rodians decided to keep everything for themselves. While on board the Rodian ship, Adi befriended a distinguished looking gentleman: Senator Orelus. Orelus told Adi all about his kidnapping at the hands of a Rodian named Horan, who was apparently seeking revenge for his brother’s murder. Orelus told Adi that only a being named Doxen would be able to rescue them and help Adi recover his stolen merchandise. Adi eventually managed to slip away from the Rodians and circulate Doxen’s name until it came to the attention of Arresta’s contacts.
Doxen and Adi agree to work together to find the Rodians. Adi remembers where their ship was headed before he escaped, so (after dealing with a corrupt Judicial) the pair of adventurers, joined by Jasper, return to The Gentle Lover and receive lift-off clearance. On board the freighter, Adi meets Kako, a real Jawa and Jasper’s right-hand mechanic. Adi begins to feel mildly ill.
After a few hours of interstellar travel, The Gentle Lover picks up another freighter on its scanners. Jasper uses a false transponder signal and some fast-talking to convince the other ship that The Gentle Lover is a garbage scow badly in need of spare parts for repairs. Once the suspected Rodian ship docks, however, a strange thing happens: the airlock opens, but no one is waiting. Doxen, Jasper, and Adi prepare themselves for battle and board the other ship, only to be confronted with the mocking voice of Horan. Horan, the adventurers realize, has set this whole series of events (Adi’s “escape”, Jasper’s “successful” bluff, etc.) as a trap for Doxen. A holo-image shows Senator Orelus shackled by durasteel cables and Horan’s voice states that any attempt to open the door to Orelus’ chamber without first inserting all three keys will result in the man being torn apart by the cables.
Horan’s first diabolical trap is a moral one: Doxen is presented with a choice between picking either one of the three keys he needs or picking what the adventurers realize is the cure to the disease infecting Adi. Doxen takes pity on the Cerean adventurer-archaeologist and picks the cure. The next challenge is a question of reflexes: door swing open, containing keys inside. However, the rooms are actually incinerators and the adventurers end up with burnt feet as the cost for success. Soon after, Doxen is trapped by forcefields in a corridor and narrowly escapes a blaster battery. The corridor leads to another large chamber, this one containing two cages: one with a vornskyr, and the other with a vornskyr and an unconscious woman. While Doxen and Jasper lay down covering fire, Korriban Adi manages to dash in and rescue the woman. Jasper’s mechanic, Kako, takes her back to The Gentle Lover for medical attention. The search continues, and another clever trap is revealed: a key lies on the floor in the center of the room, surrounded by battle droids. But with one arm each, the droids hold up a massive permacrete slab. If the droids are destroyed, anyone and anything standing underneath the slab will be crushed. Once again, Adi’s speed pays off as he manages to dart in and snag the key with his whip, narrowly escaping the falling slab.
Having obtained all the necessary keys, the adventurers unlock Senator Orelus’ cell. However, one last obstacle stands in their path: a series of symbols quickly flash on and off a screen, and if Doxen fails to input them in the correct order, a sharp pole lances into the Senator’s body. With Jasper and Adi backing him up, Doxen manages to save the Senator’s life—but the older man is severely wounded. A trapdoor opens up down to the cargo hold. After escorting Orelus safely back to The Gentle Lover, the trio of adventurers decide to venture through the trapdoor: Doxen has yet to seek vengeance on the Rodians responsible for kidnapping Orelus in the first place, Adi has yet to find his stolen artefacts, and Jasper can’t leave until the other two are satisfied.
Adi hurries down the rungs, only to stop short when he realizes he’s blundered into the final trap: Horan and several of his Rodian clan-mates are there, pointing blasters and an E-web at the ladder. Doxen follows him down and exchanges words with Horan, but in moments a battle breaks out. The Rodians hurl grenades and take aim with the deadly E-web, but Doxen turns the tide by picking off the cannon’s gunner. Doxen confronts Horan face-to-face, only to realize that the Rodian is holding a strange black cube that coruscates with energy. The cube quickly drains the lifeforce from Horan, and the Rodian’s body crumbles into dust. When Doxen picks up the cube, he feels something long buried awaken within him. With Horan and his allies dead, the Senator rescued, and the artefacts recovered, Doxen, Adi, and Jasper return to The Gentle Lover for the long voyage that lies ahead of them.