Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Session 19 - A New Threat - Part 4

Explosions boomed overhead, accompanied by the coarse staccato of blaster fire as Sorn 5 was transformed into a raging battleground. Republic and Separatist ships vied for superior aerial position laser canons blazing away, the resounding echos of their gun turrets adding to the already hellish din. Various craft descended through the sky, many trailing great plumes of smoke like long wispy tails before they crashed upon the ground.

Emerging from the Vraaladash, the crew of the Mako's Run stared about in shock. Several Republic LAATs had crashed in various positions nearer the treeline, their debris scattered about across the expanse of the ta'niala. As they watched, hundreds of droids broke from the tree line, advancing implacably forward.

Paz pointed to one of the downed ships. "Look!" she shouted.

Crouching within the cover of one the LAAT's damaged hulls, a couple of troopers were pinned down alongside a brown-robed Weequay. A familiar blue-skinned figure wearing a duster, wide-brimmed hat, and binder cuffs was slouched a bit further in.

"They need help!" EZ cried. "The droids will overrun them!"

Mrrowl's nostrils flared and he growled, his ears flattening dangerously. "Weequay!!!" he snarled, baring his teeth.

Shre'ka understood her mate's caution. Closing her eyes, she felt along Sa'uuk in an attempt to discern the Wee'quay's intent. She blinked and looked to her mate. "He does not seem to mean us harm. Let's go help them."

Paz and Shre'ka headed toward the downed vessel, carrying one of the altered Cathar between them, struggling in the soft footing of the bog. After a moment, Mrrowl snarled again, then hefting the other Cathar over one shoulder, followed. EZ ran with them a ways to gain some distance from the ancient Togorian vessel, then waved them on.

"You go on ahead. There's something I need to do." So saying, he began preparing equipment to call down an air strike on the advancing droid forces, rapidly going over Republic emergency frequencies in his mind while fervently hoping allies were close enough to help.

Meanwhile Paz, Shre'ka and Mrrowl reach the small Republic force at the LAAT. The Weequay quickly stepped forward, beckoning them to take cover. "I am Master Akon," he told them.

"Where are Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Ahsoka Tano?" Shre'ka asked.

"They are not here," Master Akon replied. "They sent me instead. Do you have the holocron?"

"Yes," Shre'ka answered.

Master Akon smiled, obviously relieved. "Very good. Give it to me," he said, holding out his hand. "I will take it to them."

Shre'ka backed her ears and scowled. "No!" she growled. "I will give it to Jedi Master Obi-wan Kenobi or Jedi Ahsoka Tano! Not to you!"

The droids advancing from the tree line opened fire. "Look out!" Mrrowl hissed in warning.

Paz ducked to one side, trying to put as much hull as possible between herself and the Separatist force. "That's a lot of droids," she muttered to no one in particular. Taking careful aim and returning fire with her blaster, she instructed her IG-88 droid to do the same.

Shre'ka looked that way as well. When she did, Master Akon pulled a blaster from his robes and shot at her. Perhaps warned by Sa'uuk, Shre'ka miraculously managed to dodge out of the way. She and Mrrowl turned on the Weequay with twin snarls of outrage as the "troopers" also join the Weequay impostor in the attack. Noticing a hole and scorch marks on the Weequy's robe from blaster fire, Mrrowl lunged furiously toward the fake Jedi. Swinging his vibroaxe in a vicious arc, he managed to wound the Weequay. Calling upon Sa'uuk, Shre'ka struck all the attackers with invisible force, knocking them to the ground.

With Mrrowl's attention focused on the Weequay, Shre'ka's with the troopers, and Paz's with the approaching droids, Cad Bane drew a round object from within his coat, tossing it into their midst. The explosion of the thermal detonator caught all three friends unaware. Staggered, they were unable to react as the bounty hunter, speaking quickly into a comlink, leaped nimbly to his feet and stepped forward, aiming a device on his wrist at Shre'ka.

A cable swiftly shot out, wrapping itself around the her to bind her tightly. Smirking evilly, Bane tried to relieve Shre'ka of the Sith holocron. The Cathar noticed his attempt and managed to free a paw enough to claw his hand away. Undeterred, the bounty hunter fired his rockets boots, and despite her struggles, he began to drag Shre'ka from the battered wreckage toward a Weequay saucer ship that had landed nearby. The ramp lowered and a Verpine emerged from the vessel only to be picked off by EZ who was trying his best to thin the numbers of the advancing droids from his position and now deal with this new threat as best he could.

Continuing to struggle as Cad Bane pulled her ever closer to his ship, Shre'ka managed to grip her dagger and tried to cut the cord to free herself, but to no avail. His hands full with other combatants, Mrrowl roared in frustration as his mate was dragged away. Seeing the danger, Paz tried to shoot the cable in two with her blaster, but missed her aim as the droids closed in and open fire.

"Grab her!" the Mon Cal yelled to her IG-88 droid.

The droid obeyed, catching hold of Shre'ka's leg with a strong metal hand. It was dragged along as well, but helped to slow down the escaping bounty hunter. Faced with possibly being overrun by the advancing droids, Bane cut the cable himself with an angry snarl.

"Another time, then," he assured Shre'ka, before turning and fleeing up the ramp into the ship.

Mrrowl received some unexpected help when one of the Separatist droid's blaster shots took down 'Master Akon'. With a last swipe to finish off the "troopers", he charged after Bane and onto the ship just as the ramp closed and the vessel lifted off.

"Mrrowl!" Shre'ka gasped, as she struggled from the cable and clambered to her feet, watching the departing ship in dismay.

Something threw her to the ground and everything seemed to go silent. An instant later the ground bucked like some great beast of dirt and rock. A deafening roar filled the air. Shre'ka looked around wildly. The world seemed to tilt and sway crazily. At first she could not make sense of what had happened, but finally she saw the great plume of smoke and fire rising high into the sky from the fallen Vraaladash.

Wincing from her wounds, she painfully stood up, looking around for Paz. The Mon Cal, too, had been hurled to the ground from the force of the explosion as had most of the advancing droids. Many were clambering to their feet however, and Shre'ka knew she wouldn't last much longer against them...unless....

She turned to Paz. "Shoot me!" she cried.

The Mon Cal blinked. "What?!"

"Shoot me, Paz!" Shre'ka repeated. "Please!"

Still her friend looked uncertain. "Y-you sure about this, Shre'ka?"

The Cathar nodded, glancing toward the droids. "Hurry!"

Paz grimaced, unable to keep from looking surreptitiously around for Mrrowl. "Okay, if you say so," she muttered, pulling the trigger.

The bolt caught Shre'ka full in the chest, Paz was sure of it, but the energy beam dissipated and amazingly some of Shre'ka's wounds seemed to mend. The Cathar sighed in relief and looked at Paz, gratitude in her blue-green eyes. She smiled. "Thank you."

"Just don't tell Mrrowl," Paz replied, ducking as droid blaster fire shot dangerously close.

Growling, Shre'ka ran toward the LAAT hull and drawing upon Sa'uuk, lifted the wreckage from the ground, hurling it into the oncoming droids. It landed with a crash to crush many of the metal warriors, but the others just kept coming. Her ears fell. The droids had them surrounded now, blasters leveled. She went over to Paz to help her up and with a gentle touch on the Mon Cal's shoulder, allowed some of her vitality to flow into her friend. She bared her teeth and snarled at the droids as Paz stood tall, lifting her head defiantly.

Y-wings streaked through the sky overhead. A rumbling roll of deep booms followed and droids went flying. Startled, Shre'ka and Paz turn to see a Republic Attack Shuttle landing nearby. The vessel disgorged two squads of Coruscant Shocktroopers along with a Togruta and Gotal, both adorned in brown robes, as well as a strangely dressed Cathar.

Seeing the Shocktroopers, Shre'ka snarled, her ears going flat. She held her crystal weapon in front of her threateningly. Paz gripped her blaster tightly, uncertain.

The Togruta stepped forward. "May the Force be with you," she told them. "I am Master Shaak Ti, and this is Master Batal." The stranger then gestured with a delicate red-skinned hand to the female Cathar standing a little bit behind them. "And this is Senator Vash'ti, representing the homeworld of Cathar. We have been sent to aid you by Master Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Shre'ka's expression did not improve. "If that is so," she spat, "then why do you travel with these?" She gestured to the Shocktroopers standing in disciplined ranks nearby.

Shaak Ti looked nonplussed. "We always travel with a contingent of troopers," she replied.

Shre'ka stabbed a clawed finger at the elite warriors. "A group of these attack me, my mate, and my friends on Vaynai," she growled. "They tried to kill my mate and friends and take me captive! They must go from here!"

Shaak Ti spread her hands in a placating gesture. "I assure you, they mean you and your friends no harm..."

Shre'ka snarled. "Send them away! Now!"

Shaak Ti considered the angry Cathar before her a moment, then motioned for the Shocktroopers to go back aboard the shuttle.


Mrrowl's footfalls thundered up the ramp as the Togorian charged into the Weequay ship. He was not so much after Bane as he was control of the vessel. He hoped if he and the others could commandeer the ship, they could use it to escape from the droid army. Familiar with such vessels from his past pirating days, he charged down the corridor toward where the bridge should be, noting damage and other dead crew caused by subsequent shots from EZ trying to stop the vessel from taking off prematurely.

Axe held at the ready, the big felinoid came upon a tableau--Cad Bane with a couple of Weequay and a Rodian manning various control panels. Ignoring the others, Mrrowl went straight for Bane. One of the Weequay, bearing a force pike, stepped to intervene. Mrrowl growled. The Duro bounty hunter fixed Mrrowl's jade stare with a dark crimson one before he waved his guard away.

"Nothing personal, big kitty, you understand. Just after the holocron, that was all. What do you say I drop you any where you like and we call it even for today, eh?"

Mrrowl's throat rumbled ominously. His paws flexed, claws griping his axe tighter.

Bane arched an eyebrow. "Last chance, big cat. What do you say?"

Mrrowl's eyes narrowed. "Any where?"

Cad gave the barest of nods. "Any where."

Mrrowl snarled. "Take me back."

Cad Bane gestured to his pilot. "You heard him." He favored Mrrowl with a sly smile. "Don't worry. We'll get you close."


Shre'ka sagged with relief when Mrrowl touched her mind using his crystal bracelet, letting her know he was not only safe, but where to come pick him up. As he had been equally relieved to discover she, Paz and EZ were safe, now assisted by Republic forces.

Overcoming their initial mistrust for the moment, traveling back to the village was fairly quick via the shuttle and the group was informed upon arrival that the villagers had been busy fighting their own battle against the droid army. While the friends rested and recovered from their wounds, Senator Vash'ti visited with the Ra'van'ti leader and elders as well as those of the other tribes, expressing a desire to establish ties between the People and both their distant brethren on Cathar and the Republic.

For her part, Shre'ka kept her opinions about off-worlders mostly to herself. After all, she was not a leader of her People, not yet. Her old mentor did discuss the issue with her one evening when she visited him at the former home they used to share.

"These crystals," she told her foster father, placing a hand on her own weapon. "The metal men are interested in these as are the off-worlders. I fear for our People and for the Cave of the Ancients."

Fey'qua'ri nodded solemnly. "That is indeed why they are here." He puffed on his pipe thoughtfully before continuing. "This Senator Vash'ti, her offer will appeal to some of the People. Some of them may wish to travel the stars to see the lands of our lost kin, and some may not. It may take some time, even many years perhaps, for the People to decide what they wish to do."

Shre'ka nodded.

"Senator Vash'ti has said a person will be needed to represent the People to this Re'pub'lic," he went on. "I am thinking this person would best be someone who has traveled the stars before."

Shre'ka backed her ears. "I do not think I would be a good choice, Sa'uuk Mo'at," she protested. "Mrrowl is my mate and Paz, Sparg, and EZ are my friends, but for the most part, I do not think much of the off-worlders. I do not trust them."

Fey'qua'ri smiled slightly. "Perhaps that is why you would be a good choice to represent the People. You would hold our interests close to heart, not theirs."

Shre'ka did not reply, but she remained thoughtful for some time.


Paz opened her eyes and sat up in her bunk on board the Mako, a hand reaching for the small sport blaster under her pillow. A light tap sounded at the door. "Captain?" a familiar voice called softly. Throwing back the covers, the Mon Cal put the blaster in her desk drawer along with a framed hologram that had fallen to the coverlet when she fell asleep. Moving to the door, she opened it and smiled down at the short Illyrian standing there. His worried expression stole the smile from her face.

"Sparg? What is it?"

The Illyrian jerked his head toward the cockpit. "A priority message over the Holonet. Encrypted." His one eye looked at her significantly. "It's from Oneron."

Paz muttered a curse under her breath and hurried to the bridge, Sparg right behind her. "Play it," she ordered.

Sparg touched a control and a holographic image of the Vaynai Transport Company's operator and head schemer, Oneron Fil'vye, shimmered into pale blue life.

"Greetings, Captain Paz," he began silkily. "It has been far too long since last we spoke, yes, much too long. This distresses me. Good friends should stay in touch, Captain, don't you agree? However, I did receive your message about giving me a hand in the future, and I wanted to tell you, I think I have a job for you and your crew." The Bothan's smug smile was maddening. "A special job that should take care of all your past debts to me. A simple little task, really. I assume you still have the item we discussed previously, hmmmm? All I need for you to do is to deliver it to a Mistress Salacious on a space station called Kemplex 10. I am sending you coordinates with this message. Yes...deliver the item to her and use the 'delivery' to bring me proof she will not trouble me further. I believe her kind have special weapons that are dear to them, do they not? 'Deliver' the item to her and bring me her weapon as proof I will never need fear her displeasure again, you take my meaning, Captain Paz? Do this for me and all your debts to me will be considered paid in full."

The hologram shimmered once, then vanished. Paz looked at Sparg. "Ready the ship for departure," she said.

Sparg's one eye nearly popped out. "But-but," he spluttered, "Captain! We can't trust him! He's setting us up for sure! It's a trap!"

Paz scowled. "Undoubtably."

Sparg stared at her determined face in dismay. "What about the others?"

Paz sighed. "I'll talk to them. Ready the ship."


"Please, be seated."

Shre'ka and Mrrowl made themselves comfortable as Master Shaak Ti took a seat opposite them. The Togruta's calm gaze flowed over the big Togorian, then settled on the tiny Cathar by his side.

"Regrettably, Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and Padawan Ahsoka Tano could not be here," she explained. "They are currently assisting the war effort in other regions, but they wanted to be sure to send you their well wishes."

"Thank you," Shre'ka replied. "I hope they are well. The Ra'van'ti owe them a great deal...And I thank you, Master Shaak ti, for you and your warriors coming to our aid."

Shaak Ti nodded. "We are servants of the Republic," she replied. "We are pleased to be of assistance to your people, but there is much left to be done to ensure the safety of your tribes here. The Republic hopes to establish ties with your world. I am sure Senator Vash'ti wishes to as well. She is most eager to reunite the Cathar here with those of your people's homeworld."

Shre'ka backed her ears slightly. "Perhaps, but this is the home of my People."

Shaak Ti wisely let the matter drop for now. "There is another matter," she said. "The Sith holocron. Were you and your friends able to retrieve it from the crashed vessel?"

Shre'ka hesitated a moment, flicking a quick glance at Mrrowl. Finally, she nodded. "Yes, I have it."

"May I see it?" Shaak Ti asked.

Shre'ka considered. Was Shaak Ti like the other "Jedi", the Weequay who tried to shoot her when she refused to hand over the holocron before? Reaching out to Sa'uuk, she sensed no hostility from the Togruta, but she hadn't from the Weequay either. Perhaps Master Shaak Ti would feel freer to try and take the holocron by force if Mrrowl was not present. Many found her mate intimidating--and rightly so! She turned to him. "Will you please leave us, Mrrowl?" she asked.

Her mate looked at her, his green eyes widening ever so slightly. His ears flicked. After a moment, he nodded and left without a word.

Shre'ka turned back to Master Shaak Ti when he had gone. "No, I will not give you the holocron," she said.

Shaak Ti looked neither pleased, nor disappointed. She merely nodded acceptance. "Very well. May I ask what you will do with it?"

"I would destroy it, if I knew how," Shre'ka growled. "It is Shadow. It is dangerous."

"I can show you how," Shaak Ti offered. "One must use the Force to destroy it."

The Togruta's willingness to aid in the destruction of something she apparently wanted gave Shre'ka pause. "Why do you want the Shadow Object?" the Cathar asked.

Shaak Ti's gaze met her own. "The Sith holocron is dangerous, true," she admitted. "but it also contains much knowledge that would be useful and beneficial. That is why the Jedi Order wishes to preserve it."

"And you could keep it safe?" Shre'ka asked.

Shaak Ti nodded.


The Togruta smiled. "The Jedi temple on Coruscant. I assure you, there is no safer place."

Shre'ka flicked her ears uncertainly. "I will have to think on this."

Shaak Ti bowed. "As you wish. May the Force be with you."

Shre'ka returned the Togruta's bow as she turned to leave. "Sa'uuk ah meh yah."

Shaak Ti stared thoughtfully at the door, her hands clasped behind her back, long after Shre'ka had gone. EZ had given her a full report not only on the activities of his squad, but the observations he and his team had made during their time here. She had felt prepared for her interview with the young Cathar Force user, but still found herself astonished. How extraordinary these people were! Primitive, true, and lacking in the finesse of Jedi perhaps, but their connection to the living Force was quite impressive! Most back water world Force users she'd encountered commanded only rudimentary powers of the Force at best, but from what EZ had told her, these adepts, the young Shre'ka in particular, possessed skills that would challenge Jedi--and Sith! EZ himself had seen it!

The Sith! Shaak Ti's brow furrowed in concern. The discovery of the holocron was disturbing enough, but now it was beginning to appear as if the ancient enemies of the Jedi had returned! She hoped Shre'ka would reconsider giving the Sith holocron to her. The Togruta sighed, seating herself comfortably once again in her chair. Closing her eyes, she cleared her mind and meditated upon the Force.


"So there you have it," Paz said to Mrrowl and Shre'ka as they all sat around the mess table on the Mako's Run sharing some tea. "I've ordered Sparg to ready the ship for departure. I know it involves killing this Mistress Salacious, but I'm taking Oneron up on this deal." She glanced at the two felinoids uncertainly. "I guess what I need to know is if you'll be coming along."

Shre'ka looked at Paz earnestly. "You and Sparg were the first off-worlders I met, Paz," she began. "If it hadn't been for you I would not have been able to find and rescue my People. I have sworn ka'met'ma to you, my friend. I will help you however I can. Besides, Sa'uuk has shown me this Mistress Salacious. She has been commanding the Shadow Hunters we have encountered while trying to locate and free my People all along. She is behind this...and she has much to answer for."

Mrrowl placed a paw over his mate's. He favored the Mon Cal with his best ferocious grin. "We're in," he told her.

Paz grinned back.

"There is something I wish to ask..." Shre'ka said, looking to Paz and her mate. "...of both of you. Master Shaak Ti wishes to take the Shadow Object to be kept safe at the Jedi temple on Coruscant. She says it has information that could be beneficial, but she has offered to show me how to destroy it. What do you think I should do?"

Mrrowl and Paz exchanged a look. "Give it to Master Shaak Ti," they replied in unison.

Shre'ka nodded.


Sparg was beside himself with glee as the Mako's Run lifted off from Sorn 5 escorted by Master Shaak Ti's Republic attack shuttle and two Jedi Starfighters. As they approached the Separatist blockade ships currently engaged with the Republic attack forces, he chuckled grimly. "You call yourselves pilots?" he muttered. "Let's see if you can do this!"

As the ship jinked and jostled its way through the blockade, Paz shot the Illyrian an irritated glare while she punched coordinates into the navicomputer. "Try not to shake us up any more than you have to, Sparg."

"Aye, Captain!"

The Mon Cal punched the all-ship button. "Look sharp! We're coming up on them! EZ! Mrrowl! Ready on those guns! Shre'ka! Find us a path!"

Acknowledgements came back over the open channel. In a few moments, laser fire shot out to blossom against some vulture droids that ventured too close as the Mako slipped and careened along, their escort struggling to keep up. Shre'ka pointed a way by a Separatist command ship. Sparg frowned at first, then noticed the Republic cruiser moving in to flank it. He grinned and dove the Mako in closer.

"Hang on!" he yelled. "Not far now...we're clear!"

"Coordinates in!" Paz warned. "Prepare for hyperspace!"

Moments later, the Mako's engines flared with brilliance and the freighter jumped, disappearing from real space. Cheers came over the com as EZ and Mrrowl abandoned the turrets and came forward.

"We made it!" Ez said, relieved.

Mrrowl, Paz and Sparg grinned.

Shre'ka smiled and nodded, but canted her ears back. She wasn't sure what, but she sensed something had gone horribly awry....

To be continued....

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Dark Tidings - 5

The Mako's Run and Republic Attack Shuttle cleared the surface of Sorn V escorted by two Jedi starfighters. Maneuvering their way through the debris, flack, squadrons of vulture droid fighters, and random fire the ships rolled and pitched squeezing between the massive Confederacy cruisers and control ships. Broadside fire raced by the four smaller ships as they darted through the blockade.

Droid debris clattered across the hull of the shuttle as the copilot opened up the forward cannons to clear a path through the dense collection of ships. The passengers were jostled against the bulkhead.

"Commander! Follow the Mako past the Control ship to port," Shaak Ti ordered.

"Yes, General," the pilot replied and attempted to match Sparg's wild slip as he rolled the Mon Cal freighter toward the enemy.

Shaak Ti cast a worried look to Baatal, "I see what he's doing. If we can skim close enough to the surface of the Control ship, we will be under their gun range and hopefully it will buy us time."

Baatal nodded. "Caaaaptannn, have yooouuu plotted the hyperspace jump to Coooriscaaant?"

The clone trooper furiously worked the the controls of the navcomputer, "Not yet, sir! There seems to be some interference with getting a lock."

Shaak Ti could see the Mako through the viewport dive and light her engines as the ship winked out into hyperspace on its way to Kemplex X. Suddenly the shuttle lurched and pitched to starboard.

"General!" the clone pilot called. "We're caught in a tractor beam!"

Baatal cast his glance again at Shaak Ti, "Whaaaat caaaan we do-o-o against that?"

She reached for her lightsaber and tucked the Sith Holocron beneath her robes, "Not much, but there are alternatives to fighting."


Kemplex X Station

Kemplex X Station
Kemplex IX was an Old Republic jump station destroyed by the creation of the Cron Drift in 3,996 BBY. The station was rebuilt in BY 2365 by Republic Sienar Systems and served as a hyperspace beacon for a large portion of its sector in the Outer Rim.

Kemplex X is an orbiting way station  for cargo transfer, refueling and recreational services in the Outer Rim Territory orbiting Belderone near Felucia. The station is currently under control of the Confederacy of Independent Systems and provides resupply and repair facilities for a vast number of droid forces. It was recently upgraded to house a high number of civilian personnel and manufacturing facilities for a capital ship construction contract.

Republic Sienar Systems has a significant satellite office in the Belderone system and uses Kemplex X as its main center of trade with the Confederacy. As such, it is in the corporation’s best interest to keep things running smoothly. So while there are certainly undesirable elements present, the station is still safe for your average travelers and tradesmen. For the most part the port is clean and efficiently run, with no obvious signs of the criminal element running things behind the scenes. To a casual observer Kemplex X looks much like any other deep space port.

There are a few notable differences however. First, the laws are very lax. For example, it is permissible to openly carry weapons and there is little risk of being detained due to minor infractions such as bar fights or public intoxication. Laws against gambling, prostitution, and drug use are only enforced when it benefits the company. Taxation is at the minimum possible levels, making this an attractive place to do legitimate business. The computer systems are also isolated and heavily screened for maximum privacy – contracts, bank transfers, and other electronic transactions can be completed without leaving an electronic trail. This, of course, appeals most to those doing not-so-legitimate business.

All of the real estate on the station is ultimately owned by Sienar Systems, though most is leased out.
The main administration area, command deck, and portions of the promenade deck are on permanent lease to Confederacy of Independent Systems for legal reasons. Revoking these leases would allow the law to declare the station unsafe and so shut it down.

Kemplex X is based on the Future Armada: Argos III material published by Ki Ryn Studios.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Dark Tidings - 4

TS-429 adjusted the frequency of the holotranciever to make sure the channel was secure. The image flickered to life with the lean, shadowy figure cloaked in black.

"Mistress, we have located the wreckage of the lost transport ship." TS-429's even mechanical tone did not instill confidence in the expression of the recipient. "Initial forays into the structure have have proven difficult. The radiation detected in the area has diminished but is still potent enough to disrupt neural circuits in our droid forces."

"A minor detail," the willowy figure rasped.

"What are your dictates for incursion?"

"Begin landing your forces at once. I want all traces of that cat species eradicated from the moon. They are of no further use at this point and may become a liability. I already have solution in place to take care of the wrecked transport ship and it's contents. Transmit the coordinates of its location directly to Bane and his team. I don't want a repeat of what happened at Devaron."

A huge jolt rocked the command ship as warning klaxons sounded across the bridge.

"What was that?" the cloaked shape hissed.

TS-429 scanned the viewport as a battery of blaster fire ripped across the outer hull of the command ship. A B1 battle droid approached the tactical droid's station, "Sir, a fleet of Republic cruisers has just dropped from lightspeed into the system."

TS-429 whirled, "Deploy the fighters and hold them off until we can get additional transports on the ground. I don't want anything to get through the blockade."

"Handle this TS-429, and give Bane all the support you can. He is to report to me once he retrieves the holocron," the cloaked figure demanded.

"By your command," TS-429 replied and ended the transmission.

The relay signal was immediate. Swarms of vulture droid fighters raced from the confines of the blockade ships toward the approaching Republic fleet. The droid transports housed in the blockade fleet began to disembark heading planetward to carry out their mission of genocide.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Session 18 - A New Threat - Part 3

Paz slid her datapad back into a pocket of her coveralls. "Well, that's the gist of it," she told Mrrowl in a low voice, glancing anxiously over at Shre'ka. The young Cathar was conferring with Fey'qua'ri and Shas'tan about their assault on the mining facility. "What are you going to tell her?"

The Togorian flicked his ears back. His nose rumpled slightly, then smoothed. "The truth," he replied simply. "She deserves to know."

Paz caught at the felinoid's arm. "Yeah, but...Mrrowl, I'm afraid this might change things between the two of you."

Mrrowl patted Paz's flipper with a reassurance he did not feel before disengaging it from his arm. "That all happened a long time ago. Much has changed since then," he said over his shoulder to the Mon Cal as he walked over to Shre'ka.

She looked up at his approach.

"Mri'tan, there is something I need to talk with you about."

"Yes, Mrrowl?"

"The information Paz was able to retrieve...it seems there's a ship crashed some distance to the east of here. It appears to have been here a long time, around 4000 years."

Shre'ka smiled and nodded. "Yes. The skyboat of the First Ones. It lies beneath the Dark Tree in the center of the ta'niala. We know of this."

"Yes, well," Mrrowl continued awkwardly. "That ship was...is a ship of my people. It's a Togorian vessel."

Shre'ka's smile broadened. "I am not surprised. Sa'uuk has brought us together for a reason! Do you see, mri'te? I told you you were one of the People!"

"There's more to it than that," Mrrowl rumbled. "Those Togorians were transporting Cathar slaves to a world called Mandalor. For some reason the ship crashed and the survivors were stranded here."

Shre'ka frowned slightly. "Your people kept the People as slaves?"

The Togorian nodded, his ears at half mast. "Yes."

Shre'ka considered her mate closely. "Is that the way your people see the People now? If I were to go with you to your world, would your people see me as a slave?"

"No," Mrrowl answered with a growl. "Things are...different now."

Shre'ka's smile returned. "Then there is nothing to be concerned about, Mrrowl. That is the past now."

"Actually," Mrrowl sighed, "there is something else to be concerned about, mri'tan. Paz discovered your people were being experimented on to be used to search for a Sith artifact on board the ship. It seems radiation is leaking from the vessel somewhere, making it very dangerous for those hunting for the artifact to find and retrieve it."

Shre'ka looked at Mrrowl sharply. "Sith? There is Sa'ruk on the ship? The People are aware of this. That is why the Dark Tree and the area surrounding it has become corrupted over the years. The People avoid that place."

Fey'qua'ri nodded agreement. "It is forbidden for most to go there. It is very strong in Sa'ruk."

Paz stepped forward. "That's very wise, Sa'uuk Mo'at. But there's also danger from the radiation there. That's what's been causing everything in the nearby area to die off."

Fey'qua'ri nodded thoughtfully, but Shre'ka looked puzzled. "Radiation? I do not understand."

"Radiation is particles or waves of energy coming from a power source," Paz explained. "It can make you very sick or even kill a person. It depends on how powerful the energy source is and the amount of time someone is exposed to it. If the ship's engine core cracked and leaked, it's very likely some areas of the ship could have high levels of radiation contamination."

Shre'ka looked to her mentor. "If the Sa'ruk hunters seek this Sa'ruk artifact, we can not allow them to find it."

Fey'qua'ri nodded, glancing to Shas'tan. The clan leader drew thoughtfully on a pipe, exhaled, then nodded. "We will put together a War Party and leave at first light," he said.

"If I may," Paz offered, "We have a few suits that should protect against the radiation..."

Fey'qua'ri smiled at the Mon Cal, but held up a paw. "That is kind of you, but it is not needed. Sa'uuk will protect us."

Paz looked nonplussed, but made no further comment.


Three days swift journey on foot and the War Party stood in view of the Dark Tree. While they took a brief rest, Shre'ka pointed to the bog surrounding it. "Do not drink from the puddles," she warned her friends. "The water here is tainted. And watch for t'zzirl snakes and sa'naku as well. They are known to roost in the Dark Tree."

She noticed Hra'tan standing a short distance from Fey'qua'ri, Shas'tan and his sons, Mar'lo and Bo'ku. The big dark furred Cathar seemed agitated for some reason. Shre'ka wondered why he had agreed to come along. He had ceased being aggressive towards her or Mrrowl after his fight with her mate, but his manner had remained cool and less than friendly. He did not appear to be happy to be with them and she felt uneasy. She started to brush against Mrrowl and say something to him, but stopped herself. What could she say? That Hra'tan looked unhappy? They were approaching the Dark Tree! She wasn't happy either. The skin of her shoulders shivered involuntarily with something akin to a sudden chill.

Hearing a gasp nearby, she looked Fey'qua'ri's way to see the elderly Cathar bent slightly in apparent pain. She hurried to his side.

"Sa'uuk Mo'at? What is wrong?"

Fey'qua'ri tried to steady himself with his staff, a paw held to his forehead, a wince of pain on his face. "Sa'ruk...It is very strong...I sense..."

Shre'ka's eyes widened in alarm as she recalled her mentor's battle with the strange bandaged-wrapped Sa'ruk Mo'at not so very long ago, although it seemed to have been in a past life. "The Sa'ruk Mo'at?! He is here?!"

The old shaman drew a deep breath. His gray eyes met his foster child's blue-green ones. "This is beyond your skill, my daughter. You must take your friends into the skyboat and find the Shadow Object. I will take the An'uat, his sons and Hra'tan. We will deal with this." He raised his voice. "Mar'lo!"

The young hunter flicked his ears. "Sa'uuk Mo'at!"

"Take Shre'ka, Mrrowl and the off-worlders to the skyboat entry, then catch up with us." Mar'lo nodded acknowledgement of the command.

The shaman turned to go, but Shre'ka caught his arm. "Fey'qua'ri," she said in a low voice. "Watch Hra'tan. Something is not right." The Sa'uuk Mo'at patted her hand, nodding. Shre'ka squeezed his arm once before she dropped her paw. "Sa'uuk ah meh yah," she told him, flicking her ears and hearing Mrrowl echo the farewell behind her.

"Sa'uuk ah meh yah," Fey'qua'ri told her gently before he moved off with Shas'tan and the others. Shre'ka watched them go a few moments, then joined her friends to make their way into the bog, moving toward the Dark Tree and the ancient Togorian ship buried there.


Mar'lo pushed aside several twisted dead vines and branchlets. "Here," he told them.

"What's past the door?" EZ asked.

Mar'lo looked at him, shocked. "I have not been inside. It is forbidden!"

"Understood," Paz told the young hunter. "Thank you for your help."

Mar'lo nodded. "Sa'uuk ah meh yah," he told them, then swiftly departed.

Paz looked at Shre'ka and offered her a suit. "For the radiation. Last chance."

Shre'ka smiled and placed the suit in her pack. "My People are strong. Sa'uuk will protect me."

"I'd feel better if you'd wear it," Paz muttered under her breath. "You bearing cubs and all." Paz turned back to the door, examining it closely. "It looks to be an outer lock door. This is an exterior part of the ship. No power. Figures."

"Let's try the manual control," Mrrowl suggested, wondering briefly how wise he'd been to leave his suit back on the ship. He shrugged mentally. Too late to worry about it now. There was nothing for it but to continue forward and hope for the best.

With the door open, they peered into the dark interior beyond. "I'm on point," EZ said, stepping to the front. Mrrowl followed with Shre'ka in tow and Paz and two of her IG-88 droids bringing up the rear.

They had not gone far when they discovered a couple of battle droids in the corridor. However the droids were crumpled to the ground, obviously no longer functioning. EZ looked them over. "No blaster fire."

Paz unconsciously checked the fastenings of her suit. "Must be the radiation. The data from their outposts said they were unsuccessful at adapting the droids to it so they could search for the holocron. These droids certainly seem to prove that."

Mrrowl flicked his ears. He glanced at Shre'ka, beginning to regret this already. "Do you feel all right?" She nodded. "Ok, we keep going. Paz, you think you can get some power going in here?"

The Mon Cal looked around. "Think so, if we can find some kind of power junction or terminal. There's another door here. Let's see what's beyond it."

"Wait," EZ said. "Before you open that, let's check this side corridor." The others followed the clone trooper into the blackness, lit only by the light on his helmet. EZ stopped short. "Another droid. Same as the others."

Suddenly one of the IG-88s buzzed and crackled, collapsing to the deck. Alarmed, Paz turned to the second one. "IG-88, report status!"

"Affirmative. Operating at 80 percent," the droid responded.

"Return to the entry and wait there," Paz ordered.

"Affirmative," the droid answered before clanking back down the corridor and out.

The group returned to the door they had discovered and after manually opening it, they stepped into a new corridor just as dark as the first. However, Paz noticed a power relay and began tinkering with it. "This is old! Not sure this'll work," she said as she tried to reconnect wiring and replace burnt diodes with their present day equivalents. "Ah! There, that should do it!"

Lights flickered to life and the soft hum of power filled the corridor. Bolstered by this success, the group continued to explore the ship, coming to a room with computer access. Paz's technological skill again proved invaluable. She pulled up a schematic of the ship as well as the Captain's log. "You sure you want Shre'ka to hear this?" she asked Mrrowl in a low voice. The Togorian brusquely motioned for her to play the file.

The screen filled with a visage not much unlike Mrrowl's, but older, with a great scar tracing its way from the Togorian's striped fur temple across one eye which had been rendered white and unseeing to end along the opposite cheek. The being identified himself as Captain Grouularr of the Togorian vessel, the Vraaladash. He related they were transporting a holocron containing ship schematics and a shipment of Cathar slaves from Cathar to Mandalor when the hyperdrive relay cracked and brought them out of hyperspace. Due to the subsequent radiation leak, the crew was unable to repair the damage, several dying in the attempt. The log showed a great space of time following that entry, before another entry from Captain Grouularr reported that the Cathar slaves were able to free themselves, and with food low and the radiation spreading, had agreed to work with the remaining Togorian crew to survive on planet while they awaited rescue, eventually settling away from the site when their hope for discovery had dwindled. His final entry requested for his log and the flight recorder/transponder on the bridge to be returned to his family's house on Togoria, if it was ever found.

The room darkened a bit when the screen went black. Shre'ka bowed her head, lowering her ears. "Fuurr’sssang, Skyboat Mo'at Grouularr," she murmured.

Mrrowl's ears flattened. He looked at Paz. "Where is the bridge from here?"

Paz pointed it out. "But, Mrrowl," she protested, "The bridge sits above the engine core. The radiation level there is probably going to be high!"

Ignoring her warning, Mrrowl hurried down the corridor. "We're getting that recorder!"

Shre'ka, Paz and EZ had to run to keep up. They reached a small hall leading to the bridge.

EZ caught the Togorian by the arm. "Let me and Paz go!" he offered. "We have the suits to protect us!"

Paz nodded vigorously. "Yes, Mrrowl, stay back! Think of your mate and cubs! You and Shre'ka wait back here. We'll get the recorder for you."

Mrrowl looked from the clone trooper to Paz and laid a heavy but gentle paw on each of their shoulders. "I appreciate the offer, my friends, but this is something I must do. However, if you would, stay here with Shre'ka."

Reluctantly, they nodded. The Togorian looked at his mate. "Stay back here, mri'te."

Shre'ka nodded, though she murled unhappily to herself. She knew why Mrrowl wanted her to stay back and she knew why he was insisting on getting the recorder himself. She could not find it in her to ask that he stay and betray his honor, but something occurred to her and she brightened. "At least let Paz go with you," she suggested. "She can help you retrieve the recorder quickly."

Mrrowl paused, then nodded. "Come on," he told the Mon Cal. Paz needed no encouraging. She raced down the hall with Mrrowl and they entered the bridge, closing the door behind them. Mrrowl shuddered a bit once inside, feeling a wave of nausea sweep through him. "Oh, yeah, there's radiation in here," he grated.

Hurriedly, the two managed to locate the recorder/transponder and remove it from the console housing. Returning to where EZ and Shre'ka awaited them, they then headed to the elevators Paz had located on the schematic. Attempting to take one of the lifts to the lower level, they were shocked when they were suddenly attacked by three strange looking felinoids with white unseeing eyes.

A furious fight ensued and the hulking creatures were swiftly put down. Shre'ka leaned down to examine them closely, realizing with a shock the beings were mutated Cathar, indeed three of the Nine that had been assumed dead. A strange red crystal was embedded in the forehead of each tribe member. Angrily Shre'ka pried the crystals loose. Gently speaking to each of the deceased Cathar in turn, she called them by their name, telling them to be at peace and for Sa'uuk to be with them.

Gathering the crystals, Shre'ka placed them a short distance down the hall, then calling upon Sa'uuk smashed them to bits. A strange red vapor arose from the crystals, dissipating into the air as she watched, growling in her throat.

"We may encounter more of these," EZ warned her.

Shre'ka turned an ears-flat look the trooper's way. "There will be no more killing of the People!" she snarled.

EZ cocked his helmeted head to one side. "Yeah, but, they're trying to kil-"

Shre'ka's fur bristled. She bared her fangs. "There-will-be-no-more-killing-of-the-People!"

Mrrowl glowered down at the trooper. "Set your weapon for stun."

EZ complied, shaking his head. Paz stepped up beside him as they continued on. "My weapon doesn't have a stun setting," she said quietly, giving the clone trooper a significant look.

Entering the lift, the group continued down to the lower level and emerged from the elevator. There they encountered two more of the mutated Cathar. With weapons and Shre'ka's Sa'uuk powers, they stunned both tribesmen to unconsciousness. Paz pulled some tape from her pack to bind their hands and feet. Shre'ka realized dealing with the embedded red crystals in their foreheads would have to wait.

"We should wait until the metal medical man on the skyboat can see what he can do to help them," she said.

"Good idea," Paz agreed, nodding.

"They should be all right for now," Mrrowl said. "Which way is the Sith artifact?"

Shre'ka concentrated a moment. She scowled, pointing down a hall. "That way!"

The group hurried down a hall to another door. Opening it, they and two humans stared in shock at one another. The humans immediately began to raise blasters. Mrrowl swung his axe down on the one in front of him as Shre'ka stepped beside him. Calling upon Sa'uuk, she hurled the unfortunate human into his comrade standing behind him, sending both crashing against the far wall. They slumped to the ground.

Mrrowl and Shre'ka stepped through the door just in time to see none other than Cad Bane holding a strange item in his hand. Pocketing it, he briefly touched the brim of his hat, giving Shre'ka a wry smile. "Nothing personal, little lady. Just business," he rasped before darting down a far corridor.

Mrrowl and Shre'ka chased after him. EZ and Paz were following hard on their heels when the Mon Cal and Clone Trooper were brought up short by another group of bounty hunters emerging from a far room. EZ fired, the blasts from his weapon immediately ending their threat. He ran to the room to make sure the situation was under control and noticed several wired charges placed about the chamber, lights blinking.

"Uuuuhhhhh...Captain Paz?"

The Mon Cal ran up beside him, her eyes widening in alarm. "Thermite! There are charges set out here, too!"

"Well...see if you can disarm them!"

"I'll try," Paz replied, setting to work.

Mrrowl and Shre'ka gained on Cad Bane even as one of his accomplices fled past, outdistancing them all. Drawing upon Sa'uuk, Shre'ka stunned the Duro and Mrrowl's expertise with melee weapons allowed him to knock the infamous bounty hunter prone. Unable to escape, the Duro reeled as Shre'ka stunned him again, collapsing on the deck.

Shre'ka removed the object from the bounty hunter's coat, putting it in a pouch on her belt. It occurred to her that it was not safe to leave Cad Bane alive, but he had had her in his sights before and spared her life. He was a hunter, a very dangerous one, but not an indiscriminate killer. And he had helped them when they were attacked by the Mandalorian and his bounty hunters at the apartment on Vaynai. She could not take his life. Not like this. Not this time.

She looked at her mate. "I owe him a life. I will not take his," she said before turning to run back the way they had come.

Mrrowl snarled, looking down at Bane. His ears flattened. It was foolish to let the Duro live. He knew it. If he had any sense of things, the bounty hunter would probably be on their trail very soon. But like Shre'ka, the Togorian recalled the Duro's aid on Vaynai. Honor demanded payment in kind. A heavy sigh gusted through his whiskers.

As he pondered the situation, one of Bane's henchmen came to a sliding stop just out of range of Mrrowl's axe. "Just business..." the big cat muttered, then directing a fierce glare at the henchman, he hissed "take your Boss and get out of here!" Pondering thoughts of honor and doing the "right" thing, the Togorian hurried down the corridor after Shre'ka.

When Mrrowl and Shre'ka caught up with Paz and EZ in the hall, the Mon Cal's frightened eyes warned the two felinoids of disaster.

"Thermite charges!" Paz warned. "They're trip wired! I can't disarm them! They've been set for remote detonation! We need to get out!"

Mrrowl roared in alarm, realizing that Bane probably possessed the remote and practically shoved Shre'ka down the corridor toward the lifts, Paz and EZ hard on his heels. They gathered up the two Cathar and rode the elevators up to the top level, running down the corridors and out the entry.

Stumbling away from the Vraaladash, they were all startled to see a battle raging outside. Laser and blaster fire crisscrossed the air as several Republic ships descended from the sky, a smoking Separatist ship engine core plummeting to the ground with a fiery crash. A much smaller ship closer by ascended into the air, obviously attempting to make a swift departure.

Even with her heart pounding as she and the others fled from the ship as fast as they could, Paz couldn't help but smile. "Shre'ka!" she shouted triumphantly. "Your message got through!"

to be continued...

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Vraaladash Captain's Log

Here is the holodata recovered from the entries in the Captain's Log on board the wreckage of the Togorian transport Vraaladash.
  • Ship is to deliver holocron containing schematics for Corsair and consignment of Cathar slaves.
  • The Hyperdrive relays cracked and caused a radiation leak that crashed the ship.
  • Radiation killed most of the Togorian crew attempting to repair it.
  • Captain Grouularr relates the conditions many weeks after the crash – food low, radiation spread.
  • The remaining castaways formed a pact for survival casting off their former differences.
  • After many months they finally abandoned hope of rescue and have taken to the forests to forage.
  • Their settlements are now far away from the site to avoid the radiation.
  • Captain’s last wish was to return the flight recorder and log to his family house of Falmuur on Togoria.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Dark Tidings - 3

The holotranciever crackled to life. He hated having his breakfast interrupted by business. Oeneron leaned forward to stab the button and a blue light spilled into the deepest cracks of his office.

A hooded figure with a lithe and graceful silhouette hissed a lifeless greeting. "What do you have to tell me of the events at Memm's Estate, Fil'vye?"

"All I can assure you, Mistress is the artifact is safe." The Bothan leaned back and absently stroked the long tuft at his chin.

"So you have it, then?"

"Not exactly."

"This vexes me, Fil'vye. You assured me the facility would have complete discretion. That has been compromised, my apprentice has been killed and our property absconded. This does not induce confidence in the Fil'vye Transport company among myself nor my colleagues."

"Only, a minor setback I assure you. Shortly the item will be delivered to you and all will be well."

"See to it. It would be most unfortunate for your business if the Republic were to renew their interest in annexing Vaynai regardless of the wishes of the aristocracy."

"Now, now, threats are not necessary, Mistress. You will have your artifact and a bonus to boot."

"We shall see."

The image abruptly vanished. The Bothan pondered a moment. This may work out for him after all.


Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Session 17 - A New Threat - Part 2

"There it is," Mrrowl growled softly, pointing to the mining center up ahead, it's lights easily visible in the darkness of the jungle night.

The Togorian crouched as low in the brush as he could, hoping the gray and black striped pattern of his fur would help conceal him in the night shadows of the surrounding forest. Shre'ka knelt silently by his side, peering out at the ore refining operation, well lit by powerful halogen lights mounted on tall posts placed at regular intervals around the facility. Paz, shadowed by one of her IG-88 bodyguards hunkered down on the Cathar's right, her large dark eyes taking in the many Separatist droids as well as the many aliens, made up mostly of Rodians, Mon Cal and Quarren that were moving about the mining camp.

Paz gave Shre'ka a nudge. "All the people appear to be wearing uniforms--and they're unarmed!"

Shre'ka nodded, whispering Paz's observation to Mrrowl. The two felinoids had flown a recon flight over the site much earlier in the day to see what they would be up against, but certain smaller details had evaded their detection. Although the droids had so far ignored them, believing them to be part of the indigenous population and therefore no threat, Shre'ka had not dared to get her sa'naku to fly too close to Separatist installations. She wasn't sure how long their luck would hold out before the droids would decide to start firing on natives that appeared too curious.

Mrrowl shared her concern. That was part of the reason he had spoken in favor of EZ and his remaining troopers to stay behind and help guard the Ra'van'ti village, just in case one or more of the droid patrols stumbled across it. Sparg, too, had remained, keeping the Mako's Run ready for instant departure to extract the villagers to safer ground should it prove necessary.

He growled softly. "I can launch a grenade right into their refining plant from here, but it'd be better if I had a flammable target. Plus if these people are being forced to work here, we need to warn them before we start blowing up the place. Any ideas?"

"There's lots of Mon Cal walking about," Paz pointed out. "If I had one of those uniforms, I could blend in with no problem."

Shre'ka smiled. "I will get us uniforms," she giggled, scuttling through the brush to move closer to the perimeter. At the forest's scarred edge, she paused, wrinkling her nose at the smells emanating from the mining site, her ears flattening at the careless destruction of the living jungle of her home. Raucous music issued from a nearby prefab building, growing momentarily louder as a male Mon Cal emerged from within, swaying a bit drunkenly as he went, letting the door slam shut behind him.

Shre'ka glanced around cautiously and not seeing anyone else or any droids nearby, slipped out of the cover of the jungle and approached the Mon Cal, speaking simply to him in his own language. "Hello. What you do here?"

The Mon Cal was a bit taken aback. He blinked his eyes, peering blearily at Shre'ka. "Why...we mine the crystals, of course."

Shre'ka flicked her ears back. "Why you do that?"

The Mon Cal shrugged. "So I can eat, I suppose. So I can live."

"You not want work here? You want be free?"

The Mon Cal seemed to sober somewhat. "Uuuuhh, well, yes, I want to be free. We all would." He waved vaguely to the droids. "But the droids will shoot us if we try to leave."

Shre'ka nodded in understanding. "No worry. We help. Can you get us clothes?" she asked, pointing to his uniform.

The Mon Cal tugged at his gray coveralls. "You want some of these?"

Shre'ka nodded, pointing to the forest edge. "Throw them in there."

"Hey, you!" a robotic voice called. "What are you doing?"

Shre'ka smiled encouragingly at the Mon Cal when he glanced anxiously at the approaching droids. She began to back away. "Bring clothes quick when can. We help." Turning, she scampered back into the jungle, melting into the shadows as the droid patrol walked up.

"You!" One of the battle droids said, giving the Mon Cal a shove. "What were you doing? You shouldn't be talking to the natives! It's not allowed! We'll have to report this!"

The Mon Cal spread out his flippers. "Please, I didn't do anything! This strange creature ran out of the jungle to look at me, then ran away!"

Shre'ka watched the exchange with a bit of apprehension and sighed in relief when the droids appeared not to have spotted where she went and let the Mon Cal continue on his way. After a short while he returned, edged carefully over to the brush and tossed a couple of coveralls in the undergrowth. Shre'ka quickly snagged them, and with a soft "Thank you!" to the Mon Cal, she scurried away.

Returning triumphantly to Paz and Mrrowl, she held up the coveralls. "Will these work?"

Paz grinned. "Like a charm." She donned one of the garments, rearranging her gear, making sure to keep her ion pistol handy.

"The people are being forced to work here," Shre'ka informed them as Paz made her preparations. "They would leave if they could. I think the droids are here to protect them from the beasts of the jungle as they work, but to also keep them from running away."

Mrrowl fingered his weapons, his ears laying flat. His lips lifted from his fangs. "We're going to do something about that!" He looked to Paz. "Shre'ka and I will take your droid with us and circle around to the south. Once you have warned the people near the refinery and found a flammable target, just say the word and we'll attack."

Paz nodded and slipped away to the mining camp, walking up behind a group emerging from the bar. She strode purposefully toward the refinery just like she belonged and was heading there to start her shift. No one stopped her.

Grinning, Mrrowl motioned to Shre'ka and the two slipped around to the south side of the camp, the IG-88 in tow. Arriving a bit closer to the refinery, they peered cautiously out, waiting for word from Paz. Shre'ka noted the distance to the nearby command center with its communications array and power generator.

Paz made her way to the refinery hardly able to believe her luck. None of the droids seemed any the wiser. Looking around, she noticed a ladder going to the second level and climbed up. There she encountered a Rodian and another Mon Cal.

"Hey!" she told them in an urgent, low voice. "Get the other workers away from here!"

The Mon Cal blinked. "What?" The Rodian eyed her suspiciously. "Why?"

Paz waved them away impatiently. "Because we're going to blow this place up! Now warn the other workers and get out of here!"

The Mon Cal continued to stare at Paz in shock. The Rodian clapped him on the shoulder. "Come on! Let's go! We've got to warn everybody!"

They hastily departed. Paz watched them a moment before looking around for flammables. "You don't need to worry so much about warning the Quarren," she muttered.

After searching a few minutes, she found what she was looking for. Scrambling down to the ground level, she started putting some distance between herself and the refinery, motioning for any straggling workers she encountered to do the same. Using her crystal bracelet, she sent an image of Mrrowl's target to him.

"Now!" the Togorian and Shre'ka heard. Mrrowl snarled, launching a grenade as Shre'ka sprinted forward toward the command center.

The grenade hit its mark but the explosion failed to rupture the containers. Alarm klaxons began to wail. Shre'ka leapt to the roof of the command center and calling upon Sa'uuk, ripped the communications array completely loose from the building.

Mrrowl launched a second grenade hard on the heels of the first. This one also found its target, the force of the explosion rupturing the tanks of combustibles. The refinery rocked in the following explosion. Shre'ka fought to keep her footing on the nearby command center and control of the communications array, to keep it from falling on top of a Mon Cal who happened to be working atop the building at the time.

Battle droids and crab droids began to organize, heading toward the refinery to investigate. Encountering some of them, Paz fired several shots with her ion pistol, managing to disable some of the droids as the workers fled the area. Spying a couple of the battle droids approaching the command center, Shre'ka dropped the communications array on top of them, telling the Mon Cal to get to safety.

Dropping to the ground on the far side of the command center, Shre'ka uses Sa'uuk to drain the power from the generator, plunging the camp into semi-darkness. Seeing Paz in trouble fighting a crab droid, the young Cathar rushes to aid her.

Mrrowl charged from cover toward the command center. Several droids spotted him and the IG-88 droid and opened fire. The Togorian and droid return fire, destroying several droids before Mrrowl tries the door. In the excitement of the attack, he spent a moment trying to punch a code into the panel to enter the command center before he remembered he needed to open the door manually. With a snarl, he began cranking the manual access.

Paz and Shre'ka notice the miners are fleeing to a ship resting on a landing pad some distance away. Concerned they will be destroyed by the Separatists if they take off, Paz tried to call after them, but is ignored.

"We've got to warn them!" she told Shre'ka as a STAP patrol swoops in.

"Go!" Shre'ka replied, gesturing Paz toward the ship. The Cathar stepped toward the closing STAPs and drawing upon Sa'uuk struck them with its power. An invisible force send the droid STAP patrol flying. Looking after her friend, Shre'ka sees Paz disappear up the ramp as the engines ignite. Looking around for her mate and seeing only the IG-88 droid, she noticed several more crab droids approaching from the east, apparently recalled from a patrol.

Calling upon Sa'uuk as the IG-88 opens fire, Shre'ka manages to destroy one of the three crab droids. The remaining two scuttle closer, one going after the IG-88 while the other comes for her. It struck at her with a claw, wounding her. Falling back out of its reach, she cuts back across its path to head toward the command center, concerned for Mrrowl. Belatedly Shre'ka realized she should have used her bracelet to check on her mate. The pursuing crab droid overtook her and a slash of one of its powerful claws struck her down.

The Togorian had managed to enter the facility and was fiendishly battling several megadroids inside. Managing to defeat the droids and take control of the command center he noticed the IG-88 droid falling back before its attacking crab droid. With a snarl, he slammed his vibroaxe into the crab droid, destroying it. Ears flat, he looked around for his mate, gasping when he spotted her lying on the ground.

On board the commandeered ship, Paz shoved her way through the crowd of miners to the cockpit and managed to persuade the pilot to land. As soon as the vessel touched down, she sprinted back to the camp. Spotting her friends, she ran over to them, pulling out a med pack.

"Help me," she cried to Mrrowl as she tried to bandage Shre'ka's wounds. Hissing in distress, the Togorian assisted her. The two friends sighed in relief when the Cathar opened her eyes.

Leaving Shre'ka in Mrrowl's protective care, Paz entered the command center and slicing into the computer systems made some very important and interesting discoveries...

To be continued...

Friday, September 2, 2011

Data Recovery

The following is the recovered data from the core computer records found in the various locations leading up to the discovery of the crash site of the Vraaladash.

• Garrison outposts have been set up for recon and defense
• 3 patrols are garrisoned at each Outpost
• 4 Outposts are currently within 300 clicks of one another
• Outposts keep 1 active patrol as guards and send two patrols to the perimeter then trade them out

• The outposts form a perimeter around the main mining camp
• 6 additional mining camps are under construction
• 3 Patrols enforce the mining settlements
• Other mining camps are distributed globally at the location of other crystal deposits

Mining Settlement
• 65 Quarren, Mon Cal & alien miners are slave labor captured from the Vaynai Archpelago
• Droid forces include 3 Patrols guarding the Mining Settlement
• Senator Tikkes is in charge of the Central Mining Operation
• Powerful crystals are being mined for a superweapon under construction by the Confederacy
• Sorn V was discovered by the Republic but filed away and ignored for centuries
• a lost transmission signal over an unused bandwidth called attention to the moon
• The signal is no longer active but the droids are looking for it’s transmission source
• The signal is suspected of originating to the east of the mining settlement at the designated coordinates

Crash Site of the Vraaladash
• The Vraaladash, an ancient Togorian prison ship, was transporting captured Cathar to Mandalore
• The Cathar descendents of the castaways have built up a tolerance to the radiation over time
• The radition immunity can be amplified in the native Cathar by a dangerous mutogenic process
• The crashed ship also contains a Sith Holocron sought by Lord Tyranus
• Mutated Cathar were to be sent into the ship to search for the missing Holocron
• Radiation leaks or something else are masking the crash site location, scans are undetectable
• Droid patrols have been widening their search for the crash site but have not found it yet

How is it possible that the Confederacy has determined there is fatal radiation corrupting the moon Sorn V when they have not discovered the exact location of the crash site? How is the crash site being masked from sensor scans and confounding the droid forces? How did the separatists learn of the Cathar immunity and tolerance to the radiation effects over time in order to devise their mutagenic program?

All of these questions and more will be revealed in the next exciting episode of Clone Wars: Mako's Run!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dark Tidings - 2

Vents hissed as the solar sailer settled comfortably into the hangar. A lone figure waited for the boarding ramp to lower, its dark cloak and cowl hanging in draped folds to the deck plating. A tall lean form emerged and proceeded past the figure who hastened to match step.

“Lord Tyranus, you honor us with your presence,” the cloaked figure hissed.

“Things are developing on Dac that will be calling me away, I’m only here to make sure everything is on schedule,” the tall figure replied.

The two figures passed a gigantic window overlooking a sea of stars above the blue green orb of Belderone. Docked in tandem with the orbiting construction facility was a massive warship larger than any the Confederacy had employed before.

“We are having trouble locating the signal. There appears to be some sort of shielding blocking scans so we are sending search teams on foot. It’s possible that the radiation leaks from the cracked core is creating the interference. We need more droids.”

“Shielding does not concern me, I want that ship,” Tyranus commanded flatly.

“What’s so important what was she carrying?” the hooded figure hissed.

“There is an artifact on board that is important to the Sith. It contains technical readouts and specifications. When the data is analyzed it will unlock the key to an ancient weapon that can lay waste to any star system.”

The figure paused.

“You are referring to Naga Sadow’s lost ship. . . ?“

“That is not your concern. Your only goal is to find that ship and deliver the crystals.

“There have been . . . complications . . .in our mutagenics project. Only a mutant strain of local specimens would be able to build up a tolerance of the irradiated areas to gain access to the ship and search for this artifact. We have been unable to adapt the droids to the radiation, so this was our only option. But we have lost contact with the project facility, some sort of local interference.”

“I suggest you solve this delay by any means necessary. Lord Sidious wants a tour once the core is online.”

“Lord Sidious is coming here?”

“Yes, and he is displeased with your apparent lack of progress.”

The cloaked figure bowed, “We shall double our efforts.”

“I hope so, Lady Salacious, for your sake.”

Lord Tyranus strode forward into the dark recesses of the station. The cloaked figure whirled and made her way back to the central command center.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Session 16 - A New Threat

Captain Paz Valodor checked the ion pistol clipped to her belt and the blaster strapped to her hip as she strode purposefully down the ramp way of the Mako's Run. Roughly two weeks had gone by since Shre'ka's tribe, the Ra'van'ti, had returned to their decimated village and begun to put things back to rights. Waving to the familiar approaching figures of Mrrowl, Shre'ka, EZ and his troopers, she punched a button and spoke into the intercom. "All right, Sparg, they're here. Seal her up tight until I get back."

The Illyrian's voice sounded tinny over the com's tiny speaker. "Aye, Captain."

"And keep an ear to the Holonet passive feed. Let me know if you hear anything important."

"Will do, Captain...but won't the droids be able to detect that?"

Paz sighed. "No, no. Use Shre'ka's bracelet thing to contact me."

"Oh, right! Gotcha! Will do!"

Shaking her head and smiling, Paz joined the new arrivals. "Anna mawe," she said.

Shre'ka beamed. Mrrowl smiled. "Anna mawe," the two felinoids responded.

The Mon Cal looked to EZ who was instructing two of his troopers to head off in AT-RTs on a recon mission. "What's up today?"

"I was thinking we really need to camouflage the IG-88s we've placed in a 300 yard circular perimeter around the outskirts of the Ra'van'ti's village," he replied. "Want to lend a hand?"

Paz nodded and the group headed out.


The sun hung low in the afternoon sky by the time the group had finished their work. The two scout troopers had not yet returned and EZ was growing anxious. Trying to allay his concerns, Shre'ka searched with Sa'uuk to sense their presence, but was unable to detect them. Backing her ears, she reluctantly informed EZ of her discovery.

The trooper wasted no time. Gathering up equipment, he, Paz, and Mrrowl set out on foot. Shre'ka called her sa'naku and joined them, flying overhead. The group made their way through the dense jungle, searching for the missing troopers. They discovered the AT-RTs parked and left behind some heavy shrubbery, but no troopers when a patrol of three battle droids riding STAPs came upon EZ, Paz and Mrrowl and attacked.

The Togorian roared, charging toward the patrol, his vibroaxe prepared to swing. EZ and Paz weren't quite as quick. Bunched together, the droids opened fire on them with their weapons catching the Mon Cal and the clone in a deadly barrage. Shre'ka coaxed her sa'naku to dive down upon one of the battle droids. Grasping one of the droids in both of its powerful talons, the fearsome creature ripped the droid asunder as Mrrowl swung his axe down upon one of its companions. EZ and Paz return fire upon the third droid and just as swiftly as it had begun, the fight ends.

Paz slices into one of the droid's memroy banks and discovers locations of several Separatist outposts. Looking at the schematic of the outposts' positions, Shre'ka hisses in alarm. "They seem to be surrounding the area containing The Cave of the Ancients!"

Mrrowl growled low.

"That's not all," Paz warns. She points to another diagram on her datapad. "Look here. The Separatists have formed a blockade around Sorn 5. No one's getting in or out of here easily."

"Why would they want to do that?" EZ asked.

"That's what we should probably find out," Paz replied. "The Republic needs to be warned about this, but if we send a message they're bound to detect it."

"Perhaps not," Shre'ka said. "I could contact Jedi Ahsoka Tano with Sa'uuk if she is not too far away and let her know what we have discovered here. And the tribes should be warned as well. The Cave of the Ancients is sacred. It holds the history of The People."

Heading north, the worried group finds the missing troopers who have been killed in a fierce fight. They also encounter and are attacked by another STAP patrol. The group no sooner defeats them than Shre'ka senses a disturbance in Sa'uuk. Animals appear to be fleeing the area. The group makes their way forward, but shift to one side in a flanking maneuver trying to discover what is wrong. Soon they have their answer. Several crab droids and super battle droids are moving through the undergrowth from the east, heading toward the Ra'van'ti village.

The group attacks, managing to destroy the droids and Paz slices into them to gather more information regarding their numbers and orders.

"We need a plan," EZ said as they returned to the village with the clone’s fallen comrades. "We need to find out about these outposts." He turned to Shre'ka. "Perhaps you or one of your people could scout one of them out. The droids don't seem to consider the indigenous population a threat."

Mrrowl grinned at Shre'ka as her ears flipped back, gesturing to the waiting sa'naku. "Want to take a ride?" he asked. Shre'ka smiled, nodding.

While the group gets some rest overnight, Shre'ka, using Sa'uuk, sends a warning to the surrounding tribes' Sa'uuk Mo'ats as best she can. Most seem to heed her warning, but one or two possibly do not take her warning to heart. She is merely a Sa'uuk Ro'at after all. Shre'ka also uses Sa'uuk to contact Jedi Ashoka Tano and informs her of the situation as clearly as she is able.

Early the next morning, Shre’ka and Mrrowl head north on the sa'naku to scout out the outpost in that area. Having given EZ a bracelet with tiny crystals similar to the ones she gave, Sparg, Paz and Mrrowl, Shre'ka uses Sa'uuk to show EZ what she sees as she and her mate pass over the small droid base.

They observe the outpost is comprised of a command center surrounded by a bunker wall mounted with blaster cannons at various intervals. Beside the command post structure is a power generator and a communications array. Several crab droids and mega droids patrol the outer wall. There appear to be three shifts of droid groups with two actively patrolling at all times while one recharges.

The two return in the evening, having had no trouble from the droids. The group discusses plans to take control of the outpost late into the evening and come up with an unusual one.

The next day, after traveling to the northern base, Shre'ka and Mrrowl approach the outpost with an "offering" of a crystal from the Cave. A patrol of battle droids level blaster guns at them, then take them before the tactical droid in charge. Walking inside the outpost's perimeter wall, Shre'ka uses Sa'uuk to drain the power from their generator.

The droids look around, confused, as Mrrowl and Shre'ka do their best to look on innocently. "What happened?" one of the battle droids asked.

"We appear to have lost power," another replied, scratching its metal-cased head.

"I can see that!" the other responded. "You better alert the Commander. And take these two natives inside."

"Roger, roger."

Escorted by the droids, Mrrowl and Shre'ka enter the command post. One of the battle droids with them makes its report to the tactical droid before it turns to them.

"Why are you here?"

Shre'ka fought to keep from flattening her ears. I could ask you the same, metal man, she thought. Instead she held out a blue crystal in her palm and tried to look as friendly and harmless as possible. "Anna mawe," she told the droid. "We come to bring the leader of the metal Sky People a gift."

The tactical droid took the crystal in its hand, gazing at it intently. After a moment it looked up. "Where did you get this?"

Shre'ka smiled, taking comfort in the certainty Mrrowl was subtly noting the placement and status of every droid in the room. "I do not know myself, but if you would like to know where more are, we can return to our village and bring back a guide for you."

The droid considers them a moment, then nods, waving them to the door. "Very well. You may go. Return with this guide as soon as possible."

Mrrowl and Shre'ka depart the outpost and make their way into the jungle perimeter to rejoin the group and the attack begins. With the blaster turrets out of commission, EZ and his troopers act as snipers to take out the droids guarding the perimeter wall. Paz and her bodyguard of two IG-88 droids help fight crab droids that are also protecting the outpost before joining Mrrowl and Shre'ka who fight their way inside the outpost where the droids have amazingly managed to get power back. Shre'ka calls upon Sa'uuk once more and is able to drain the power again as they manually break into the command center and take control of the outpost.

Shre'ka holds out her paw to the tactical droid. "I'm sorry," she tells it. "I'm afraid, I need to get my crystal back." The droid complies; handing over the crystal, but still puts up a fight, pulling a blaster. Mrrowl quickly brings his vibroaxe down upon it.

"Careful of its head!" Paz warns and Mrrowl manages not to damage the important component.

The Mon Cal captain manages to discover information regarding a mining operation near the Cave of the Ancients that is nearly operational or is operational as well as various other locations that have yet to be brought online.

"Not sure what they're up to here, but I think they mean business," Paz mutters as she studies the information.

"Looks like we need to scout the mining operation near the Cave," Mrrowl growls and the others nod ascent.

to be continued...

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Dark Tidings - 1

Sorn V quietly orbited her mother as she had done for eons and millennia unaware she was the object of such a disturbance in the Force. The tiny band of lifeforms that huddled in her sheltering boles near their dying fire dozed blissfully under the growing menace high above them. Her emanations had now attracted a small cluster of unliving intruders circling her as an unwanted halo of mites ever seeking a fleeting taste of nectar for their parched wings.

Hanging in low orbit over the green blue globe was a collection of disc shaped objects, their torus silhouettes casting a menacing cloud over the serene coolness of the moon. These objects were then joined by other elongated shapes that completed a distinct formation. The Confederation forces maneuvered their blockade into a tight defensive position.

Aboard the command ship, the buzzing of mechanical servos, rasping of electronic static, and thrum of the power core drown out the imperceptible breath of the sole living passenger on board.

TS-429 approached the console where Tikkes sat at the holonet receiver. The blue projection of a cloaked figure hovered over the console and dwarfed the former Senator whose tentacles twitched nervously.

The projected image was lithe, feminine, and robed in black. A deep hood obscured its features but a gravelly female voice issued forth, "Count Dooku sends his regards, Tikkes. Events on Dac have escalated and now we seek your presence there for a conclave of Confederacy sympathizers."

"All is well then, Mistress?" the Quarren's tiny beak within his tentacles clicked.

"For the moment. We will need to proceed at Sorn V without the initial shipment. According to the Kaminoans, it will be some time before their research is complete and the initial specimens will be ready to work."

Tikkes leaned forward, "How will that possible without the specimens?"

The figure in the projection gestured casually, "You are to send a contingent of Quarren to Sorn V to begin mining operations at once."

"I will send a contingent of Quarren to Sorn V to begin mining operations at once," he echoed the acknowledgement.

"Good," the voice grated. "Once they have been dispatched you will meet Count Dooku on Dac."

"I will meet with Count Dooku on Dac."

The image abruptly vanished and the Quarren nodded to TS-429, "Prepare the ships to leave immediately!"

The tactical droid responded in a flat mechanical tone, "Do you wish for me to accompany you to your rendezvous at the homeworld?"

"No, I need for you to personally handle the enforcement of the mining operation on the Cathar world here. It is imperative that the initial mineral shipments arrive on schedule."

"As you wish"

The tactical droid clattered off to begin deploying his troops.


Hra’tan collapsed awkwardly on his palette of soft furs and leathers within the makeshift tent he shared with Dan’oa. He attempted to stifle a grunt as his bruised ribs reminded him of the night’s parlay with Mrrowl.

“Is there anything I can do to comfort you, dearest mri’te?” she purred as she tried to help him

“No, I just need rest.” He rolled to his good side in an attempt to relieve any pressure on his injured ribs and dozed. His mind clouded over from the masul, a fitful sleep soon took him.


Eyes in the darkness.

White, milky orbs floating in a sea of black drifted toward him, their deathly cataract-clouded pupil slits stabbed into the darkest parts of his soul.


The voice, a rasping whisper, grated in his mind’s ears. He twitched and began to breathe heavily, unable to escape the oppressive presence. Dan’oa stirred next to him and nuzzled closer, undisturbed by the unseen presence.


The voice commanded attention now. Hra’tan wrinkled his nose at the perception of the foul stench of rot and decay accompanied by the voice.

Hra’tan, my cub. What do you know? What have you seen?

Hra’tan began to twitch more and more violently. A wave of nausea overwhelmed him, a trapping weight of paralysis overwhelmed his ability to flee. One great gnarled claw swathed in rotten weavings and stained leather strips reached toward his brow and slowly forced its way into his head.

Hra’tan’s eyes snapped open in an unseeing gaze as the intrusive presence searched his thoughts.

Shre’ka. With a mate. And cubs. Shadow clouds him. He is very near, I can taste his darkness. Soon the Sa’ruk Chel’vek will be upon him and he will be mine.

Hra’tan twitched lightly.

You have done well, my cub! Anger, hate and dissention are festering in their midst. It is fueled by the guilt from their past and their fear of the future. An army of unliving warriors searches for them even now and soon you will all be mine. Now rest.

Hra’tan twitched one final time as the unwelcome presence of the foul intruder withdrew. His sightless gaze remained fixed as his shallow breathing began to wane.

Dan’oa stirred again oblivious to her mate’s distress.

Ca’el’esh reclined with a sigh. Within the dank confines of his cavern beneath the boles of the Dark Tree, Sa’ruk wrapped his fetid form. He caressed the clean edge of his brother’s blade with satisfaction.

“Soon, Fey'qua'ri. I will be coming for you as well.”


From this distance beyond the village it was now hard to see, especially in the fading moonlight before dawn. Living plants had been coerced by Fey'qua'ri to camouflage the hide-covered dwellings of The People and the strange cold skyboats of the offworlders that had returned them home. Hopefully the cover would obscure the Ra'van'ti huts from the prying eyes of others. It was the eyes of the Sa’ruk Chel’vek (fierce shadow spirits) now that concerned the venerable shaman.

In Fey'qua'ri’s mind he could still see the glow from the fire and the soflty swaying embers of The People as they dispersed from the gathering.

Shas'tan sat next to Fey'qua'ri and passed the pipe back to him. The aged Cathar took a long draught of the smoke and regarded recent events. Tendrils of the sweet aroma wafted across his gray muzzle lit from the glow of the bowl.

"Many things have come to pass these last few moon cycles," the Mo'at began.

Shas'tan nodded.

"I sense that there is still much for Shre'ka to do."

Shas'tan nodded again, "We have seen many things, you and I. We have fought many times together and now have traveled across the ocean of stars to other lands I never thought possible. Although the purpose for the journey was of evil intent, I have hope for Shre’ka that it will make her more confident in herself, in her ability.” Shas’tan drew on the pipe and handed it to Fey'qua'ri.

Fey'qua'ri took the pipe and nodded this time. “I sense a stirring in Sa'uuk. My brother, Ca’el’esh, is at work. His rotting claws have somehow forced their way into our midst again and now I see this evil is wrought by him."

"Surely he must be dead by now."

The old Mo'at regarded Shas'tan with a flat look. The clan leader knew better than to question Fey'qua'ri's intuition. “Don’t underestimate Sa’ruk.”