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HoloTracker: Include (1) Character's In-Game Name, (2) Faction, and (3) Location
Desperation besets the galaxy.
Years of paying hefty tributes to
the Zakuulan Empire has resulted
in a resource shortage, leaving
people without food and
governments without raw
materials to rebuild or wage war.
Also impacted by these events
are the galaxy’s various PIRATE
GANGS. Compelled to undertake
riskier raids due to the supply
shortage, pirates conduct
brazen assaults against Republic
and Imperial military convoys.
On the pirate haven world of
RISHI, a corrupt Republic supply
officer brokers a deal with local
pirates to exchange goods in
return for a place among
This cross-faction community story arc focuses on the ongoing resource crisis in the SWTOR story, with particular emphasis on the impact of the crisis on pirate gangs or those who may come into contact with pirates (e.g., victimized villagers, spacefaring travelers, law enforcement officials, etc.).
Community members are welcome to participate in the story as relevant underworld, neutral, Republic, or Imperial characters. Examples of characters who may be involved in this arc include, but are not limited to:
Underworld figures. Perhaps the ongoing resource shortage has spurred the necessity for your character's pirate gang to begin conducting riskier assaults on military targets
Civilians. The food shortage makes "soft targets" like agricultural communities ideal for plundering by various pirate and criminal organizations. Maybe your farmer character has been targeted!
Law enforcement personnel. In consideration of the rising crime and black market trade related to the crisis, Republic, Imperial and other governments must surely have been forced to re-examine their counter-piracy strategies. Maybe you RP a Coruscant detective, Imperial inspector, or Hutt Cartel enforcer charged with tracking and bringing pirate gangs to justice.
OUT OF CHARACTER INFORMATION
Contact the arc manager via Enjin message ( TrickyNick87 ) or Discord ( TrickyNick87#3301 ) to discuss specifically any ideas or how your character(s) may be brought into the arc.
DO NOT submit OOC inquiries or other OOC information unrelated to story arc progression in this thread.
Arc participants should regularly check the original post (OP) for updates on story arc progress.
This story arc will serve as a prelude to a future subsequent story arc centered on a different theme.
Timetable: The arc manager will endeavor to either submit a fresh story post to the thread or host an in-game event on a weekly basis to advance the arc story. Participants should check the end of each post submitted by the arc manager for specific information concerning timeframes to respond with their own forum posts.
All subsequent posts in this thread are retained for IN-CHARACTER use only. Community members may use this thread to post short stories or IC news articles, journal entries, or other IC posts highlighting the involvement of their characters in this arc.
09.28.18 - ARC INITIATED
10.12.18 - GM FORUM POST I
10.26.18 - EVENT I: There for the Taking (CANCELLED)
01.25.19 - GM FORUM POST II
03.14.19 - GM FORUM POST III
03.22.19 - GM FORUM POST IV
TBD - GM FORUM POST V
TBD - GM FORUM POST VI
TBD - ARC CONCLUDED
Participants:Vinzago, Ad'enn When: 09.29.18 Location:Blaster's Path, Raider's Cove, Rishi Summary: Faced with allegations of corruption, fraud, theft of government property, and dishonorable conduct, Republic Navy supply officer Cpt. Ad'enn approached pirate leader Vinzago with an offer to lead the pirate's crew to a vulnerable Republic Navy supply drop on a Rishi beach in exchange for business and employment opportunities with the Killer Queen Fleet or other pirate gangs. Adm. Vinzago set terms for the partnership and both men departed to begin planning to raid the Republic supplies.
More blaster rifle bolts slammed into the crate next to Beppy’s head with the force of a rancor’s fist. Beppy tugged his arms and legs in to avoid the incoming fire.
The noise and excitement was too much for him. Alarms wailed alerting Imperial troops to the hangar where his crew had just finished loading the last of the stolen medical supplies.
Beppy gazed longingly at the distance from his crouched position behind the crates to his ship’s loading ramp. It was probably only fifteen meters away but with the ceaseless barrage of blaster fire from the Imperial soldiers at the opposite end of the hangar it might as well have been on the other side of Mos Ila.
From behind the ship’s loading ramp, Beppy’s crewmates returned fire against the growing number of Imperial troopers.
“<Beppy, hurry over! We’ll cover you!>” Beppy looked up to see the yellow-skinned Twi’lek, Jil, the crew’s captain, shouting at him in their native Ryl tongue.
Reaching out from behind the crates to begin his sprint, Beppy sharply recoiled as three blaster bolts landed in rapid succession in front of him. He looked down at the singed ground and resumed his previous fetal position.
“<Beppy, hurry up! We’re going!>,” shouted Jil after releasing a barrage of bolts, hitting one soldier squarely in the chest.
Hearing the soldier collapse with a sudden thunk, Beppy braved a glance over the crates to assess his predicament. Far behind the now-fallen soldier, he witnessed two Imperial officers in identical uniform, black hats, white tunics, and black pants, rush in and begin coordinating the actions of the other soldiers.
Two more blaster shots bolted for Beppy’s head as at least one Imperial fireteam resumed their assault on the green-skinned alien.
Over the cries of the Imperials, the unrelentingly wailing alarms, the shouting of his captain, and the blaster bolts slamming into the crates behind him, Beppy thought for a moment he heard a traditional Twi’leki battle cry come from the direction of the ship. Looking over, Beppy gazed at amazement at the sight of the crew’s hulking, orange-skinned recruit, Wonbolu, marching down the loading ramp, blaster cannon primed and in hand.
Wonbo, cigar in mouth and Republic Army tattoo clearly emblazoned on his bare left arm, shouted something unintelligible to Beppy over the commotion in the hangar. Wonbo directed his blaster cannon at the largest concentration of the Imperial squad and unleashed a torrent of blaster bolts that send the Imperial unit scrambling for cover like frightened porgs.
Beppy covered his ears, overcome by the increasing level of noise in the hangar. Suddenly, Jil’s yellow hands were on him, dragging him to his feet and pulling him toward the ship.
“<Let’s go! We gotta go!>”
Hopping up the loading ramp behind the giant orange Twi’lek, Beppy and Jil made for the cockpit where the other members of the crew had already prepped the ship for takeoff.
It was already quieter in the ship, for which Beppy was grateful, and before he knew it they were airborne an rising into the atmosphere.
A large, orange hand clasped down on Beppy’s shoulder.
“<Beat’s cleaning the captain’s quarters for a living, eh, Beppy?>,” Wonbo offered in Ryl.
Beppy smiled nervously and shifted in his seat, his discomfort from the blaster file displaced by discomfort from the powerful aura of Wonbo’s cigar.
Wonbo made a bee-line around the assembled crew on his way to the cockpit. The ship’s occupants were a powerful reflection of the diaspora of known skin colors of their race. Rutian, brown, purple. Wonbo thought the overtly diverse coloring of the crew made a fitting demographic for the Sons of Ryloth.
Wonbo sat forcefully into the cockpit’s passenger chair and observed Jil set about manning the instrumentation.
“<A nice score here, Captain. It’ll be straight to Ryloth to unload these medical supplies and ration packs for the people then?>”
“<Not yet, Wonbo. The Empire will expect a gang of Twi’leks to make for Ryloth right away. Set course for Vendaxa.>”
Beppy sheepishly approached the doorway to the cockpit. “<What’s on Vendaxa, captain?>”
“<Point Nelere. Pirate hideout. We’ll lie low for several days. A week maybe? Until it’s safe to make for the Gaulus sector. With as many pirates and other underworld thugs that have been targeting Imperial shipments and supplies since Zakuul bit it, they’ll probably forget about us within the week.>”
Convinced, Beppy took a seat behind his captain as Jil and Wonbo managed the ship’s instruments and the beautiful blue waves of hyperspace presented themselves outside the cockpit’s window.
He just hoped his captain was right.
(( Honorable Mentions:Ravnie , owner and creator of Point Nelere ))
Ad’enn nervously checked his chrono, probably for the twentieth time since he’d arrived at the cantina. Even among the myriad of intergalactic pirates, cutthroats, tourists, and local residents, his Republic naval officer’s uniform made him stick out like a Gen’Dai in a herd of jawas. To calm his nerves, he braved another sip of whatever the green fluid was that had been served to him by the bartender.
His contact was running just a little late. He looked up at the stairs leading down into the galley, the belly of this greasy establishment. Two female Rodians, perhaps sisters, descended down the stairs in their dancing outfits. He spun around slightly in his chair to check the more discreet rear entrance. No movement.
Releasing a heavy sigh, he brought the glass with the ominous green liquid in it back to his lips.
Several weeks ago, Ad’enn secured a deal with a pirate gang leader in this very bar. This very table actually. A Wanderer-class transport of the Republic’s Arcturus Defense Fleet had settled into orbit above the planet, making a small supply run and allowing the crew a bit of shore leave. Ad’enn would lead the pirate captain and his crew to the ship’s small, temporary supply depot several kilometers outside the settlement to plunder the goods. In exchange, they’d transport him to a popular pirate hideout on Vendaxa where he’d either secure a position with a pirate group or perhaps be considered for membership in theirs, the Killer Queen Fleet. He’d also been promised an introduction to a curious character named Gnat, an underworld dealer, and a substantial portion of the booty, though the pirate leader, Vinzago, had “negotiated” his portion quite low.
Ad’enn checked his chrono again. Something was off. He was taking a terrible risk coming here to collude with pirates in treason to the Republic.
His attention was captured by a brawl in a corner. Apparently a White Maw cutthroat felt cheated by a Death’s Claw scavenger at pazaak. The two rose fists and knocked over a table in their scuffle.
Ad’enn wasn’t going to wait around for the authorities. Finishing off the polluted green drink, he began to rise out of his unwashed chair, only to feel something like a large hand grasp his shoulder and hold him in place. Looking quickly to what was restraining him, he thought it looked more like a paw than a hand.
“Have a seat, captain. You’ve only just finished your drink.” Ad’enn looked further around to find that the deep voice and firm paw belonged to a large, blue-skinned male Cathar.
His eyes went wide at the sight of the towering cat-like villain, who stood at least six and a half feet tall and was flanked by two grimacing orange-skinned Houks. The Cathar’s head was wrapped in a dirty brown mane which was braided on the right side.
The Cathar applied more pressure to Ad’enn’s shoulder which was all the encouragement he needed to resume his seated position.
“Name’s Rokin. Folks call me ‘Roarin’ Rokin, but you can just call me ‘sir’ for now,” the giant blue feline-like figure instructed as he released Ad’enn’s shoulder and walked around to take the seat directly opposite of him.
After overcoming his initial surprise, Ad’enn took another look at the two ugly Houk bodyguards and finally mustered a statement.
“I’m uh … actually expecting someone—“
“You’re expecting me. Admiral Vinzago sent me. I’m a sub-lieutenant with the Killer Queen Fleet. I’ll be overseeing our little operation here today,” the Cathar stated commandingly.
The two Houks assumed a position between Ad’enn’s table and the rest of the room. Far enough away to divert any unwanted attention from local patrons but close enough to move in on Ad’enn if things took a wrong turn.
Ad’enn’s overt apprehension about his situation rose. Admiral Vinzago, the blue-skinned Chiss pirate he’d brokered his deal with never mentioned sending an intermediary in his place for the raid. Perhaps they were just taking precautions and keeping Ad’enn on his toes. Ad’enn knew there had been some suspicion at first that he could be Republic law enforcement or a Strategic Information Service agent and Vinzago was probably just ensuring his personal safety until Ad’enn could prove himself trustworthy. Well, as trustworthy as any Republic traitor can be.
Ad’enn conceded to the new situation and after a deep sigh, reached into his pocket to retrieve a datacard, placing it on the table between two stacks of pazaak cards.
“Here’s coordinates to a shoreline cliff that we can meet at as a staging ground.”
As Ad’enn lay the card in front of the looming Cathar, he caught notice of two armor-clad Republic soldiers descending down the stairs into the galley. The two troopers, helmets in hand, made their way straight to the bar and apparently hadn’t taken notice of Ad’enn or his strange company.
Rokin took the datacard in his large paw, looking it over with suspicion before finally settling his gaze squarely on Ad’enn.
“My boys here are going to follow you to the rendezvous point—at a distance. Help make sure you don’t—deviate from the plan,” the Cathar stated pointedly.
Ad’enn nodded, expecting further conversation. To his surprise, the Cathar rose suddenly and made for the rear exit behind them.
“Wait two minutes, then start making your way to the rendezvous.”
With his final instruction, the Cathar, flanked by his two Houk flunkies, departed the cantina the same way they had come in.
Ad’enn looked into his empty glass, longing for another beverage to bolster his courage, but decided against it. After waiting the prescribed two minutes, he subtly rose from his seat and made for the stairs. He kept a cautious eye on the two Republic soldiers at the bar, but both seemed content to retain their focus on their drinks.
Ascending to the top floor, he exited into the bright streets of Raider’s Cove, and made for his speeder.
Ad’enn must have appeared especially nervous as he approached the cliffside in the light of Rishi’s setting sun.
Already the Killer Queen pirates had assembled. He spotted a few lookouts in crevices in the cliff and a few in the foliage near the shoreline.
As he drew closer, he noted the diverse makeup of the group closely matched that of the patrons of the Blaster’s Path. The gathering was comprised of all manner of species. A handful of Cathar, at least one skinny brown male and a tall orange female with a scar across her eye. Rodians, Weequay, and a few he didn’t recognize.
He settled his speeder several meters from the group. Several of the pirates approached him, Rokin, the giant blue-furred Cathar leading them.
“Glad you could make it. We’ve already had a chance to scout the area. Your information’s proved good so far, captain,” he said in a gruff manner, though Ad’enn got a sense he was genuinely satisfied with his performance thus far.
“This way,” Rokin commanded, tilting his head toward a small hill at the edge of the cliffside.
Rokin led Ad’enn and a handful of the pirates toward the hill, crouching low to the ground the last several meters. They lay just toward the top, concealing their presence from the Republic troopers bustling about in the makeshift depot before them. Ad’enn felt a nudge in his left arm, and looked over to find Rokin handing a pair of macrobinoculars to him.
“Four caches, just as we were told,” Rokin seemed to be talking to the pirate to his left more than to Ad’enn. Rokin pointed out two sentries standing between the pirates and their prospective bounty. “Two guards at the entrance are all that stand between us and the first cache, which is general supplies. Uniforms, toiletries, rations, and so on.” Rokin gestured past the guards further into the supply depot. “Then a store of medical supplies behind that. And our new Republic friend here says the payroll of the crew of that Wanderer-class in orbit is also being transferred here. That, and the fourth cache is the real prize: weapons. Grenades, ammo, rocket launchers,” Rokin said eagerly.
The ongoing resource crisis had affected everyone, and that included pirate gangs like the Killer Queen Fleet. Ad’enn considered the supply depot before them to be a rather modest target for a large pirate crew, but times were desperate for everyone.
Ad’enn glanced to his left to find Rokin glaring at him expectedly.
“Right,” Ad’enn remarked quickly. “The payroll will have at least two troopers on it at all times. There’s also a squad of about half-a-dozen men in the rear of the camp. But if we do this right, like I told Vinzago, we should be able to subdue all of them quietly and depart without bloodshed.”
“Yeah,” Rokin said unconvinced. “And aren’t you forgetting one thing?”
Ad’enn shrugged in confusion.
“The ATV sitting right there, captain,” the Cathar spat out as he pointed out the large armored vehicle in the center of the compound.
“Oh, well that’s just for mounted and large-scale attacks. The marines won’t even have time to fire that thing up.”
Rokin shot Ad’enn an unimpressed glare before finally speaking. “So Vinzago said you had a plan to get us in there.”
“Right, I’ll distract the sentries while two of your men come up from behind and gag and bind ‘em. After that, just stay close to me. We want to be quick and quiet and not get anyone hurt.”
Ad’enn noticed Rokin roll his eyes at that final statement.
“Alright, we’ve scouted this place for hours already and already have a plan of our own. Head off when you’re ready, we’ll be right behind you.” Ad’enn noticed the Cathar had concluded his instruction with more of a warning than an acknowledgement of an agreed upon plan.
Taking a deep breath, Ad’enn scurried away from the hill and headed toward the route to the encampment.
En route to Vendaxa
Ad’enn stood in the ship’s small refresher, laboring to rub the dried blood off his neck.
He probably should not have been surprised that the attack had turned violent so quickly.
As planned, Ad’enn had approached and distracted the two perimeter guards at the depot. But instead of quietly subduing and binding the sentries, Rokin dispatched two cutthroats to literally cut the throats of the two distracted soldiers. Ad’enn had been shocked by their quick violence, and it took Rokin’s quick intervention to get him back on track.
A single medic had been spotted inventorying the depot’s medical supplies. He also fell victim to the silent knife of one of Rokin’s killers.
The real trouble started when the raiding party approached heavily secure crates and lockboxes bearing the logo of the First Bank of Coruscant holding the Republic crew’s payroll. Two sentries stood guard over the small fortune and were on much higher alert than could be said for the perimeter guards. When Ad’enn approached them to distract them as he had earlier, the guards sensed something was off. Rokin, watching from behind some nearby crates, immediately dispatched his cutthroats to silence the guards. One of the troopers had turned around as the other interrogated Ad’enn on why he was on an unscheduled visit to the depot. Spotting the two approaching assassins, the soldier got a shot off, killing one of the Weequay killers. The other pirate managed to kill the soldier before being gunned down by the other. Rokin pressed his pirates into action, overwhelming the last soldier but nearly killing Ad’enn in the process.
The brief scuffle drew the attention of the squad of Republic marines in the back of the depot. An alarm sounded and half-a-dozen Republic troopers sprang into action, racing toward the sound of the shots.
Ad’enn cautiously advised Rokin that they should split with the caches they’d secured already, but the belligerent Cathar was determined to steal the final supply of Republic weapons.
As the bulk of Rokin’s group took up defensive positions behind crates, barrels, rocks, or whatever they could find, Rokin snagged Ad’enn and the female Cathar pirate and fell back. The three retreated back to the entrance of the depot, trying as deftly as possible to sneak around the stockpile of crates and boxes to flank the Republic squad.
It hadn’t taken long for one of the Republic soldiers to race into the ATV in the center of the compound. Firing it up, the soldier initiated the ATV’s slow turn toward the pirate gang.
Out of nowhere, a Republic trooper leaped at Ad’enn from behind some boxes, bearing a standard-issue field knife in his hand. The trooper slammed into Ad’enn, forcing them both to the ground as he shouted “Traitor!,” at the Republic officer. Ad’enn had pressed hard against the trooper’s armored forearm to keep the menacing-looking knife from his throat. Just as suddenly as he had appeared, the soldier halted his attack, as Rokin discharged a blaster bolt squarely in the soldiers back. The trooper’s body collapsed on Ad’enn, who managed to worm his way out from underneath the cadaver but found his chest and neck covered in the soldier’s blood.
Rising to his feet and taking cover behind some crates, Ad’enn watched the Cathar female make her way into the cockpit of a NovaDive scout parked at the edge of the depot. The feline pirate hurriedly fired up the starfighter’s engines and rotated it to face the rear of the ATV. Quickly targeting the Republic armored behemoth, she launched two rockets into the rear of the ATV and it exploded in a magnificent ball of fire. The explosion shook the entire compound, forcing Ad’enn off his feet and throwing him behind some crates. Rokin hurried into action, directed his gang over comms to advance on the stunned Republic squad members.
The last of the Republic troops, half of whom suffered concussions from the blast, were quickly killed. Rokin made a call to his ship, the Ferryman, which was upon them in just over a minute. The raiding party hurried to load their new bounty on the freighter, and swiftly departed as a flight of Republic strike fighters advanced on them.
Ad’enn looked down at the blood-soaked rag in his hand. Closing is eyes, he slowed his breathing and tried to collect his thoughts. An immediate hammering on the refresher room’s door interrupted his brief reprieve. He quickly opened the door, revealing Rokin.
The towering feline murderer’s frame took up the entirety of the small room’s doorway. Rokin stood silently, nodding for several seconds.
“Admiral Vinzago won’t be overly pleased with losing four of his crew but …” He turned and watched as several crewmembers began cracking open crates to revel in the success of their raid. “I think the credit value of what we’ve scored here today will more than make up for that.”
Ad’enn nodded nervously. He swallowed hard and opened his mouth to speak, “Will—”.
Rokin raised a hand, cutting him off. “Vendaxa. We’re on our way right now. We’ll inventory the goods on the way there. They’ll be sold off or divvied up as Vinzago sees fit. When we get to Point Nelere … stay close for awhile, eh.”
Ad’enn silently nodded his acknowledgement, looking back to the gleeful pirate thugs exploring their newly earned plunder.
Rokin looked over the seemingly troubled Republic officer for several seconds before turning and departing for the cockpit. “And you might want to change clothes before we get to Vendaxa,” he called out over his shoulder.
Ad’enn turned and looked at a set of civilian clothes prepared for him on the refresher’s closet. He reentered the room and closed the door behind him. Picking up his new garb, he caught himself hoping this adventure of his would prove fruitful.
((Honorable Mentions:Tycho , guildmaster of the <Arcturus Defense Fleet>; Vinzago , creator of the Killer Queen Fleet; Ravnie , owner and creator of Point Nelere; Buddy Boulder , owner of the character Gnat ))
“<Ow! Watch where you’re going, Bep!>,” Kliish’kra shouted to his companion in their native Ryl.
Beppy stumbled into his Rutian companion as they passed a curious-looking vendor’s stand. His attention was captured by a Mandalorian standing watch over a clan of jawas bartering apparent Zakuulan tech to a prospective Chevin customer.
The Sons of Ryloth crew had been stranded on Vendaxa for weeks now, unable to safely transport their stolen Imperial medical supplies to their homeworld. Even in the time they’d been here, Beppy had been perplexed and amazed at the variety of patrons and sights here at the Point Nelere underworld outpost. The inquisitive green twi’lek was regularly distracted by all manner of bizarre sightings at the post.
“<Knock it off, you two>,” Jil, the crew’s captain, ordered from the head of their group.
Beppy felt Wonbolu’s firm, large hand grip his scrawny shoulder and peel him off his partner’s back. “<Keep your eyes peeled, kid. But don’t linger on anything not overly threatening too long>,” the former Republic Army sergeant advised.
Beppy offered an embarrassed smile in response before looking back at the various vendors, customers, criminals, tourists, refugees, pirates, and other interesting persons moving through the plaza.
There was a small group, apparently a family, of Zakuulan war refugees looking for assistance back to their liberated homeworld. Four green-skinned Rodian pirates hassled with four brown-furred Wookiees over pelts. Even the prominent Czerka Corporation operated an official vendor stand here. Point Nelere was very much like a smaller version of Nar Shaddaa, albeit with more pleasant smells and abundant natural flora.
The troop of four twi’leks, each sporting a different skin tone, made a beeline through the maze of vendor stalls of Point Nelere’s Merchant’s Plaza on their way to the local watering hole.
After weeks on Vendaxa, Jil finally secured an introduction with a prominent pirate group that could possible help the Twi’lek fugitives elude Imperial and Hutt Cartel patrols in the Gaulus sector. Jil and his crew were eager to return to their beleaguered homeworld with much needed medical supplies but knew well they were on the watch list of every local and Imperial law enforcement agency.
Before the Zakuulan era, officials could be easily bribed to look the other way when a flagged ship like theirs entered a local system. The strain on resources had impacted everyone though, and corrupt bureaucrats were now more likely to double-dip, taking bribes from smugglers to allow them through customs, then turning them over to Imperial or Cartel authorities for a bounty reward.
The four wanderers finally made it out of the jungle of vendor stalls and set out on the path down toward the local cantina. Since arriving on Vendaxa, they’d spent considerable time in the establishment, which was built into ancient ruins.
Today, they were to meet with a contact arranged by one of the local vendors. The cantina occupied a tower on the south-side of the outpost and should have been a familiar, welcome site to the anxious Bep’fukif. But today, he fretted about his crew’s dealings with the pirates, and hoped his captain would be able to secure an amenable deal that would soon see them safely home on Ryloth.
Despite his new attire, appropriate even to this setting, Ad’enn knew he stood out in this crowd. Seated at a table in the shadowy rear of the Point Nelere cantina, Ad’enn’s balding head still sported a Republic Navy regulation-compliant haircut, with neatly trimmed black mustache to match.
His appearance was a stark contrast to the pirate sub-lieutenant seated next to him. The hulking Cathar male wore a dirty, unkempt brown mane crowning his blue fur. He wore several piercings on his left ear, half his mane was braided, and he bore the scars of an experienced interstellar pirate.
Seated at theirs and the table next to them, several Killer Queen Fleet crewmembers lounged around, playing pazaak, enjoying local brews, or seeking fights with other patrons.
The cantina’s customers were as diverse as the vendors, customers, tourists, and other denizens of the marketplace outside. The cantina itself was well-lit, with a variety of lights and holosigns illuminating the ancient structure it was built into. Indeed, spotting a comfortably obscure corner to hole up in had forced the Killer Queens to muscle out the area’s previous occupants. Ad’enn noted the high humidity level which accentuated the various smells of sweat, liquor, fried food, and other unsavory aromas emanating from the cantina and its varied customers.
Ad’enn of course was here because of his recent dealings with the Killer Queens. After arranging to provide intel on a makeshift Republic supply depot on Rishi and participating in a raid on the facility, he accompanied the pirates to Vendaxa where they’d cut up the loot and given him his share. Ad’enn accepted a less-than-desirable share of the profits in return for transport to Point Nelere and the possibility of enlistment in the pirate gang’s ranks. He developed the suspicion since arriving that Vinzago, the pirate group’s leader, might be interested in keeping him around to advise on more prospective Republic naval supply targets. He wondered if the pirate leader would keep him around, or even allow him to live, unless he proved useful in that regard.
A few days had not been enough for Ad’enn to merely discard his military training and adopt the life of a pirate. As he sat next to Rokin, his Cathar handler, he carefully reconnoitered the room.
One group in particular caught his eye. Situated in a similarly dark corner at the opposite end of the room, Ad’enn noted an ominous-looking figure staring straight at him. Though seated at a table, the menacing-looking human probably stood over six-and-a-half feet tall if he were standing and looked to weigh over two-hundred pounds. The hulking figure bore a long scar over his pearl-white left eye and had a triangular hat that gave him away as a pirate.
Turning from his conversation with another Killer Queen crewmember, Rokin checked on the former Republic naval officer. Spotting keen interest in his eyes, he followed his gaze across the room.
Quickly turning back to Ad’enn, Rokin punched his knee, causing him to spill some of his beverage on the gritty table.
“Hey! What gives?!,” Ad’enn protested.
“Keep your eyes down, ace. I don’t need you stirring up trouble here,” ordered the hulking blue Cathar.
Ad’enn shrugged, “What gives? Who are those guys?,” he inquired, gesturing to the one-eyed human and the entourage surrounding him at his table.
Rokin looked back to the assembled group across the room before turning back to Ad’enn.
Shrugging again, Ad’enn fired off an incredulous look at his companion, awaiting an explanation.
Sighing, Rokin finally relented. “Pirates originating from out around the Stygian Caldera. Lot o’ mystery to that crew. Rumor is they were victims of Imperial subjugation on multiple Outer Rim worlds in the years before the Sith Empire decided to show its face in the galaxy again. Got their start raiding and pillaging Imperial worlds around the Stygian Caldera, adopting the same violent methods the Empire used on the worlds they’re from. Took a real beating when the Empire revealed itself, forced them further into the Outer Rim.”
The Cathar paused a moment to itch his mane. “Rumors say a lot of their current crew are former Imperial Navy blokes who were either disgusted with the Empire’s treatment of civilians on conquered worlds or disgusted that the Slaughterers made more money than them,” he finished with a smirk. “That big fella with the pearly eye… ‘Oclar,’ I think they call him. You stay clear of ‘em! We have business here and I don’t need you foulin’ it up!,” he barked.
Ad’enn threw his hands up in a surrendering gesture and resumed his attention to his drink. He afforded one final look to the pirate terrors across the room before continuing his scan of the room.
He caught two Advozse males with strikingly similar appearances staring at him as well from the cantina bar. Another punch to the knee punctured his attention to the twins.
“Look alive,” Rokin commanded. “They’re here.”
Ad’enn sat up on the couch as he witnessed four Twi’leks, all bearing unique skin tones, enter the cantina and head for his table.
Beppy’s foot clipped the final step as he completed his ascent into the Point Nelere cantina. Reaching out to stabilize his fall, he gripped his Rutian crewmate’s shoulder, earning him another disapproving gaze from his friend.
“<Over there>,” Jil stated, indicating an unsavory-looking band of pirates in a corner.
The crew of twi’leks maneuvered through the room, drawing little attention in the diverse setting of bizarre patrons. As they approach one of the table, Beppy took note of a balding human whose haircut and facial features didn’t mark him as a rugged interstellar criminal. The figure was a stark contrast to the hulking, menacing Cathar sitting next to him. That seemed to be the leader of this particular band of cutthroats, as Jil led the party straight toward him.
Nodding at the yellow-skinned twi’lek as he approached, the Cathar greeted the group with a simple acknowledgement, gesturing to the empty seats across the table. “Captain, right on time. Very punctual of you.”
“We have important business to discuss,” Jil responded in clear Basic. He sat opposite the Cathar and human. Kliish’kra settled into the seat on his right, and Beppy plopped down directly opposite of the thus silent human. Wonbo stood toweringly over his comrades, carefully taking note of the cantina’s patrons in his immediate area, assessing for threats.
Beppy offered a weak smile to the human, who responded with a brief nod. Even with the wild myriad of customers and workers in the cantina, the human had a strange air about him Beppy couldn’t quite place.
“I’d like to get straight to it,” Jil started. “We need to get back to Ryloth as soon as possible, but certain… complications prevent us from getting there safely. We’ve been advised the Killer Queens can secure safe passage for us.”
Rokin threw up a hand in a halting gesture. “Whoa there, captain. Slow down.” The massively-built Cathar leaned back comfortably in his seat. “Now I happen to know for a fact that your merry band of do-gooders has a considerable price on your head. The Empire’ll pay a hefty bounty for information on your capture. Hell… you boys have knocked off loot from the Thila system, the Gauntlet Shipyards, the Paragons Covenant…”
Beppy’s face become contorted, expressing his clear confusion. He looked quickly to his captain for an explanation.
“You’ve got it all wrong,” Jil explained. “We’ve been on Vendaxa for weeks since… coming into possession of Imperial medical supplies on Tatooine. We haven’t been to any of the places you’ve said,” the captain professed sincerely.
“Sure,” Rokin offered with a smirk. Sighing heavily, the Cathar glanced suspiciously around the room before leaning toward the twi’lek captain. “Alright look, my people can help arrange for your passage to Ryloth. We can get you there, but getting out again will be your problem. And it’ll cost ya.”
Jil nudged his companion’s arm to silence him. “Forty percent can’t happen. We’re not expecting a major payoff anyway. The medical supplies we’re moving are for twi’leks suffering on Ryloth.”
Rokin shrugged. “Not my problem, captain. Forty-percent is our going rate.”
The twi’lek captain sighed heavily, rubbing his chin as he considered their situation. “Look… forty percent obviously can’t happen. How else can we arrange payment?”
Rokin shot a knowing smirk and wink at Ad’enn before returning his attention to the twi’leks. Nodding, he finally offers, “We can do twenty percent. A special fee for you boys… but you’ll owe us something else.”
“Owe you what?,” Jil inquires pointedly.
“A job. One job. Your crew has a knack for evading Cartel and Imperial authorities. We’ll require your service to move some goods after you’ve gotten your precious medical supplies to those suffering saps on Ryloth.”
The green hue on Beppy’s face turned slightly red as he became flush with anger at this remorseless criminal’s exploitation of their situation and disregard for his people’s suffering.
“Fine,” Jil responded quickly. “Twenty percent, and one job.” Rising, the twi’lek extended his arm across the table.
Rising as well, Rokin reached out to grip Jil’s hand, accepting the gesture. “You boys can head back to your ship tonight. Someone will be along this evening to get you the details. Glad we could do business, captain. Don’t get killed on your way to Ryloth. It’d violate the terms of our contract,” the pirate said with a smirk.
Kliish’kra and Beppy rose as well, and followed their captain out the door. Beppy wondered why, with all the suffering people were experiencing in the galaxy due to limited fuel, medicine, food, and other supplies, people could not help each other out. He turned and took a final glance at the Cathar and human pirates talking privately before following his captain back into the humid atmosphere of Vendaxa.
“Kriffing suckers,” Rokin harshly observed as the four twi’leks departed the cantina.
Ad’enn raised a disapproving eyebrow at Rokin’s indifference. The Cathar simply rolled his eyes and turned to one of his other crewmates. As Rokin began issuing orders concerning the fresh business dealings with the twi’leks, Ad’enn rose from his grimy seat.
“Where the hell are you going? We have business tonight,” Rokin inquired.
“Yeah, tonight. I’m going to hit up the shops one final time before we get going. Maybe catch a few hours’ sleep too,” the former Republic naval officer explained.
“Take someone with you,” the Cathar ordered.
“We’ve been here for days. I can see myself around.” With that, Ad’enn stepped away from the table and made a beeline for the bar on his way to the exit. Looking down into his satchel of credits freshly earned from the Rishi job, he abruptly stopped as two figures blocked his path. The two twin Advozse that had been watching him earlier stood between him and the doorway.
“<Going somewhere, captain?>,” one of the twins queried in his native Advb tongue.
Ad’enn felt a cold shiver run up his spine. Just my luck, he thought.
“You boys have me confused with someone else. Excuse me.” Attempting to step around the alien pair, one of the twins stepped in his path.
“<In a hurry, captain?>,” the other alien asked. “<You remember your old friends the Beel Brothers don’t you? Bregg, and my brother Brekk>,” the alien said, gesturing to his companion.
Ad’enn mustered his military training to mask his apprehension at this unexpected surprise. “Look fellas, you got the wrong guy. Sorry. Now if you don’t mind.” Again, he side-stepped around the brothers, this time unopposed, and made directly for the exit under the watchful eyes of the Advozse twins.
He could feel their gaze on his back. Making his way up to the market, he ducked into the crowd of visitors, tourists, and market customers. Ad’enn cut a seemingly directionless path through the mob, stopping occasionally at a random vendor stall to feign interest in some exotic product while checking back to ensure he wasn’t being followed. He continued his misleading path all the way to the end of the market. Satisfied he was travelling unobserved, he ducked behind a few shops on the outskirts of the market before finally breaking his way into the thick Vendaxa jungle.
Ad’enn trudged slowly through the dense Vendaxa jungle. Having trekked over a kilometer away from Point Nelere, the heat from the planet’s harsh sun coupled with the overbearing humidity had him drenched in sweat. At long last, he finally reached the designated drop point in the jungle.
Above him, the ceiling-like cover provided by the thick jungle broke into a small opening, the sun’s light shining down on a handful of supply crates surreptitiously left in the middle of the jungle. Ad’enn proceeded to the containers and retrieved a canteen of water from one, a standard part of the undercover operative’s field package. The officer thirstily devoured several gulps of the warm, stale water before removing his jacket and blaster belt, setting both on the crate.
Turning his attention to a separate container, Ad’enn unclasped its latches and opened it to reveal standard long-range military communications equipment. After consuming another few sips of water, he began assembling the transmitter.
Ad’enn labored for several minutes in the sweltering heat, assembling the communications device. Crouched over the equipment, he was startled by the snap of a branch behind him. Immediately presuming that a local predator may have been watching him in the small clearing for some time, he retrieved a curiously purposed grenade from his pocket.
He previously purchased the ordnance from a bizarre clan of Mandalorian-associated jawas in the Point Nelere marketplace. It was actually one of two specially purposed grenades he procured. Not actually fragmentary or other standard military-issue ordnance, this particular grenade possessed a repellant to deter potential acklay predators from attacking. Contrarily, the other grenade harbored a vial of attractant, drawing a prospective acklay attacker to a desired area.
Careful to conceal his actions but moving swiftly, he cautiously removed the vial of repellant from the grenade’s carriage. Removing the vial’s cap, he proceeded to dowse his color and the front of his shirt with the foul-smelling fluid.
Slowly, the officer turned to confront his would-be attacker. Finally catching sight of the intruder, Ad’enn spotted a brown-skinned lemnai standing on a log in the shade, observing him intently. Immediately, the officer’s nerves calmed as the non-threatening creature ran off into the jungle. The lemnai were nocturnal beasts; he must have disturbed its resting place when he arrived at the drop point. Refocusing his attention to the communications equipment, he concluded its assembly and fired up its power generator, preparing to transmit a heavily encrypted message.
“Bluespell to command. Authorization number one-three-one-one-aurek-resh-six. Come in, command, over.”
“Command to Bluespell, we read you. Authorization confirmed. Proceed with your report, over.”
“Bluespell reporting. Target terrorist group designated Head-tails confirmed present and active on site Point Nelere in Vendaxa system. Suggest immediate apprehension of priority target, over.”
“Roger, Bluespell. Operation for apprehension of target designate Head-tails at Point Nelere, Vendaxa confirmed. Proceed with your cover and stand by for further instruction, over.”
As Ad’enn shut down the transmitter, he jumped at another snapping noise behind him. Surely this time an actual predator was approaching. And he was right!
The officer spun around just as the Advozse Beel Brothers emerged from the jungle behind him, a ferocious intent in their eyes. One of the twins fired a blaster bolt at the ground between Ad’enn’s feet.
“<Hold it right there, captain!>,” a brother commanded as Ad’enn helplessly threw his arms up in surrender.
Ad’enn immediately began assessing his situation. The two brothers advanced into the small clearing, both with single blasters drawn. Both brothers approached him directly, but his blaster belt rested on another crate a few meters away. Unlike Point Nelere, where the staff strictly prohibited violent outbursts between patrons, out here in the Vendaxa jungles the strongest predators reigned supreme. Ad’enn silently cursed his situation as his apprehension about his predicament began to build.
One of the brother’s glanced over at the assembled military-grade communications equipment as they approached. “<I knew we hadn’t mistaken your identity. Thought you could escape the vengeance of the Beel Brothers did you, captain?>”
“Fellas, like I told you before, you’re making a terrible mistake.”
The two aliens finally halted several meters away from the helpless officer, blasters pointed squarely at his chest.
“No mistake! It’s you! You’re the one that arranged for us to be taken into custody on Sullust! You remember our youngest brother, Brell? The poor lad didn’t survive that hell of a prison you sent us to!”
Ad’enn’s mind rapidly processed his options for extricating himself from this quandary, but he had to concede that he had almost no options here.
Suddenly, the sound of another large snapping noise echoed through the jungle and into the small clearing where the three figures were engaged in their standoff. Until the previous two instances, it sounded this time as if a small tree had been snapped in two.
The ominous sound was succeed by the threatening, throat cries of a monstrous acklay. With tremendous force, the beast effortlessly broke through the jungle foliage and into the small clearing to the side of Ad’enn and his pursuers.
The two brothers darted immediately back toward the Point Nelere outpost, but determined not to led Ad’enn escape, they assumed a defensive posture behind some of the large trees at the edge of the clearing.
Ad’enn simply dropped down to his stomach to mask his presence from the massive predator. The beast cried and screamed vigorously, sending a fearful chill up Ad’enn’s spine. Instantly, he remembered he already steeped his clothing in the acklay repellent, but still had the grenade of attractant fluid!
A blaster bolt slammed into the crate behind which he was concealed. Apparently the brothers decided to divert their attention between him and the acklay. Rolling to his side, he retrieved the grenade containing the vial of attractant fluid. He quickly pulled the pin and lobbed the grenade in the direction of the brothers’ covered position.
A plume of yellow smoke enshrouded the two alien brothers and sent the acklay into a wild rage. The beast darted in the direction of the brother’s positon.
Moving quickly, Ad’enn rolled over again to initiate the transmitter’s self-destruct mechanism. Peering over the crate to find the two brothers with horrified expressions plastered on their ugly, alien faces, Ad’enn swiftly rose, retrieved his blaster belt, and darted into the jungle.
Making a wide arc away from the clearing to resume a path back toward Point Nelere, Ad’enn finally settled back into a clear, presumably unobstructed path back to the underworld outpost.
In the distance behind him, he heard the detonation of the transmitter’s self-destruct, but smiled victoriously at the horrified screams of the dying brothers overshadowed by the throaty wails of his beastly savior.
(( OOC Note: Check out the recurring Black Market event every other Friday at Point Nelere. ))
“I can handle it,” Ad’enn professed with a dismissive wave of his hand.
The balding human stood before Rokin, the blue-furred Cathar lounging comfortably on a couch in the Point Nelere hotel’s lobby.
Rokin contacted his superiors in the Killer Queen Fleet after their meeting with the Twi’leki Sons of Ryloth crew and received approval to help them evade Imperial and Hutt Cartel authorities en route to their home planet. In exchange, the Twi’leks owed a fee and would perform one smuggling job for the Killer Queen pirates after they’d concluded their business on Ryloth.
The hulking blue Cathar thumbed a small datacard between his fingers as he considered Ad’enn’s offer to deliver it to the Twi’lek captain. The card contained the details of a designated hyperspace route the Ryloth-bound crew was to take, including special details like the patrol routes of Imperial and Cartel naval vessels.
“Fine,” the Cathar sub-lieutenant finally relented. He directed a serious look at the human as he passed him the card. “But these two lugs will go with you,” he ordered, indicating the two Houks flanking his seat, the same two Houks that had accompanied him when he first met the Republic defector on Rishi. “And don’t linger, aye. We’ll be heading out ourselves later tonight.”
“Gotcha,” Ad’enn acknowledged as he took the datacard, looking at it closely in his palm, he raised an eyebrow as he looked back up at the mangy-looking feline. “Exactly how did you come into possession of information on Imperial patrol routes and times?”
“I have friends in high places. Never you mind how, captain. Now get going, eh.”
Ad’enn threw up his hands in a surrendering gesture before backing away and turning toward the hotel’s exit, the two brutish Houks close in tow behind him.
An eager Beppy ascended quickly up the ramp into his crew’s ship. After several long weeks on the humid, jungle world the Sons of Ryloth finally struck a deal with a group of pirates to arrange safe passage to their native homeworld. Finally, Beppy and his comrades would be able to deliver the much-needed medical supplies that were wasting away in their ship’s cargo hold to the beleaguered people of Ryloth.
The bulky, orange-skinned Wonbolu gave an encouraging pat to Beppy’s shoulder as he entered the ship. “<Hey kid, head back out there and help Kliish’kra double-check the rest of the supplies are secure and get ‘em in the cargo hold. We’ll be home soon, eh?>,” the Republic Army veteran said with a reassuring grin.
“<Sure thing, Wonbo!>,” Beppy responded eagerly, hurrying back out of the ship as quickly as he’d entered. As he turned to proceed back down the ramp he saw Jil, his yellow-skinned captain approach to talk to Wonbo, probably going over the details for this evening’s meeting with the Killer Queen pirates.
An emissary of the pirate gang had been in touch since their initial meeting at the Point Nelere cantina the previous day. The pirates were sending someone by this evening to drop off the details of a secure flight path the Twi’lek patriots could take to evade Imperial and Cartel authorities. Beppy wasn’t terribly thrilled with the terms of their deal with the pirates, which included that the Sons of Ryloth run an unspecified job for the pirates after their Ryloth mission was complete. Even so, the green Twi’lek was positively giddy and he raced down the ramp to find his Rutian friend loading the last of their gear.
“<Let’s be quick about getting this gear loaded, Bep,” Kliish’kra said. “This landing zone isn’t nearly as secure as I’d like and I already heard some other visitors got mauled to death by an acklay last night.”
Bep’fukif looked at his blue friend with a dismayed expression, but it did not last long. He was too excited that they were finally going home to be distracted by the threat of native wildlife, and quickly jumped in to help his friend load up the last of their supplies.
Their landing zone was quite unsecure, as Kliish’kra had pointed out. During its reign, the Eternal Empire subjected the various governments in the galaxy to pay a hefty tax that depreciated the resource stores of most planets. With the subsequent resource crisis that followed, business at underworld markets like Point Nelere skyrocketed. Here on Vendaxa, the designated landing zones for visiting ships were quickly overwhelmed by increased traffic. Point Nelere staff had set out to clear more of the jungle surrounding Vendaxa but that took time, personnel, equipment, and credits. The landing zone the Sons of Ryloth settled into when they first arrived was at the far edge of the areas cleared for ships to safely land. Their position was about two kilometers away from the main outpost and security was still very lax. Fences had not even been erected yet to deter local predators and Beppy did not think the area was even patrolled regularly.
The north and east sides of the landing zone were confronted with the thick, ominous-looking Vendaxa jungle. The west-side of the clearing was bordered by a cliff, and several hundred meters below them the vast expanse of the planet’s jungle could be seen. The south side of the zone marked the beginning of the path to the other landing zones and eventually Point Nelere.
Beppy finished securing another crate’s supplies when he hear what sounded like a branch snap at the edge of the jungle, just several meters away. He spun around quickly, his heart racing and his perspiration increasing even more in the sweltering humidity. He saw no movement at the tree line, and his companion hadn’t stopped packing their gear; perhaps he was just hearing things.
As Beppy and Kliish’kra finished securing the last of the crates’ gear, Jil and Wonbo came down the ramp. The sun would be setting soon. The pirate envoy should be soon.
“<Good work, men,>” Jil commended them as he approached. “<Let’s get these on board. Our contact should be arriving anytime.>”
The sound of another breaking branch emanated from the direction of the jungle, but much closer. This time, Beppy and his crewmates were startled by the sight of six Imperial soldiers rapidly approaching. Three took cover behind some stacked construction equipment, one assumed a position behind another nearby starfighter. All had rifles trained on the surprised smugglers.
The remaining two soldiers approached the band of Twi’leks. “Freeze!,” one of them demanded as they closed in.
“<Imperial marines!>,” Wonbo cried out as the soldiers approached. Even Beppy noticed the strange coloration of the soldiers’ standard Imperial trooper armor. While their helmets, armguards, belts, and boots were the standard grey, their chest and leg pieces were red. Clearly from his time in Republic military service, Wonbo recognized these soldiers as naval infantry.
“<Get down!>,” Jil shouted as he speedily unholstered his two blaster pistols, firing at the pair of approaching Imperial troopers. One of his shots quickly found a mark, grazing the arm of one of the troopers, sending both of the assailants running for cover behind crates at the adjacent ship clearing.
Beppy and Kliish’kra hurriedly dropped down behind the protection of their own containers. Looking up, Beppy saw Jil firing wildly but purposefully at the Imperial offenders as Wonbo ran back into the ship.
A nervous Kliish’kra shouted to his captain from behind the limited safety of the crates. “<Captain, we have to get to the ship and make a break for it!>”
“<Stay down, Kliish! We have to wait for our contact or we’ll never make it to Ryloth!>,” Jil responded even as he dodged for cover behind a log on the opposite side of the ship’s loading ramp.
Beppy could see the apprehension in his Rutian friend building. Here they were… stuck behind these crates with no weapons, waiting for the Imperials to close in on them. He dropped to the ground, hands instinctively shielding his head as several blaster bolts penetrated the crates before him or flew close overhead.
Kliish’kra rose to his knees, barely protected by his limited cover, and faced the ship’s ramp, a determined look in his eyes.
“<Kliish’kra, stay down!>” Beppy pleaded as his friend darted for the ramp.
The blue-skinned Twi’lek made an easy, vulnerable target to the experienced Imperial marksmen. Three or four blaster bolts struck him in the back. His lifeless body collapsed at the base of the ramp.
Beppy’s heart sank as he watched his friend’s figure go motionless on the muddy ground before him. He wanted very much to rush to his fallen companion but was deterred by the barrage of blaster fire around him.
“<What the hell is all that blaster fire?>,” one of the massive Houks conferred with the other in their native Houkese.
“<This way>,” the other Houk instructed, leading his companion and Ad’enn toward a dormant starship at the edge of the cliff.
The trio were hiking down the path toward the landing zone where the Sons of Ryloth were waiting for their flight data to proceed to their homeworld, when there was a sudden eruption of blaster fire from that direction, clearly indicating a firefight.
Right on time. Now how am I going to dump these two lugs?, Ad’enn thought as he checked his chrono, closely following the two Houks.
The three hovered beneath a resting spaceship, until one of the Houks pointed forward to a construction scaffold hanging over the cliff. The wooden platform extended only a few meters beyond the cliffs edge and had a single support beam beneath it. A pile of various construction equipment rested at the cliffs edge. The platform was seemingly the closest the three could get to the fighting while staying out of view.
As the two massively-built Houks stepped onto the platform behind the construction materials, Ad’enn, still a few paces behind the two pirate brutes, notices the rickety structure shift a bit under their combined weight.
The two thick-skinned aliens crouched behind cover, with Ad’enn still slowly working his way to them from beneath the ship.
“<Imperials!>,” one of the brutes cried out. “<Imperials never come here!,>” he said with a confused expression to his companion.
The other Houk turned to find Ad’enn still lingering several meters behind them. He gestured angrily for the human to catch up, then turned his attention back to the firefight, which seemed to be taking place a few dozen or so meters ahead of them.
Ad’enn slowed his advance as he approached the Houks position. Ducking behind a landing gear lock near the edge of the cliff, he peered over the edge toward the base of the wooden platform. Sure enough, the unstable structure was supported by a single beam running from just underneath the base of the platform to the cliffside.
Several well-placed blaster shots should shatter the wood and send the platform toppling over the side, he considered.
The Houks’ attention was entirely focused on the firefight in the distance. Surely, they were trying to determine whether or not to confront the Imperials from this position to protect the deal their gang made with the Twi’lek freedom fighters.
Withdrawing his blaster from its holder, Ad’enn checked his weapon’s charge and flicked off the safety. Reaching out behind from behind cover, he took careful aim at the exposed support beam and rapidly fired three shots into it. The blaster bolts slammed into the beam, sending large splinters wildly in all directions, but not splitting the beam.
The startled Houks spun around and lobbed a few rounds in Ad’enn’s direction as they vainly tried to maneuver away from their exposed position.
Ad’enn ducked his arm in from their fire for a moment before firing another three rounds into the beam.
The center of the beam shattered. Without support, the platform sunk downward, facing the several hundred meter drop. The Houks tripped as the platform angled them downward. As their bodies slammed to the ground, the platform broke from its final connection to the cliffside and sent both the structure and the two screaming cutthroats plummeting over the side to an assured death.
The bombardment of fire in Beppy’s direction relented significantly and was redirected toward the ship’s ramp. Looking over in astonishment Beppy witnessed, for a second time, Wonbolu rushing out of the belly of the ship, blaster cannon protruding before him, as he unleashed a volley of heavy blaster fire and expletives in their native Ryl at the Imperial attackers.
From his position, Beppy couldn’t tell if the hellish fire his orange companion unleashed on the Imperials was hitting any marks, but the fire coming in his direction relented as the Imperial invaders presumably were forced to cover.
Shaking from fright, he peered from behind his crate to better see if Wonbo’s bravery was having any effect. In the distance he saw a crouched Imperial grenadier take aim at their ship with a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. The heroically picturesque scene of his friend braving enemy fire was broken when the grenadier launched a rocket that darted over Wonbo’s head and straight up to ramp into the ship.
Spotting the rocket as it launched, Wonbo and Jil darted away from their vessel toward the cliffside. Beppy followed suit and managed to raise his trembling figure from the ground to sprint towards the jungle. None of the Twi’leks got very far as the rocket made contact with their ship’s interior.
A terrible concussive wave overtook the area, sending the three Twi’leks plummeting into the mud. Beppy became dazed as his head was thrust into the dirt, his ears ringing but unable to process intelligible sound. He lay there for what felt like several minutes, though only a few seconds had passed. Stammering to his knees and then wobbling to his feet, his vision became spotty as he gazed out at the seemingly shifting jungle wall before him.
He spun around slowly, unaware of the blood rushing out of his ears and nose, mixing with dirt from the ground. He blinked a few times dazedly as he turned to face the brilliant ball of fire that consumed his ship. Barely able to process a single coherent thought, he recalled with some effort that two of his comrades, Okka and Pallop, had been on the ship preparing to fire up the engines for takeoff.
Sure that two more of his friends were now dead, the disoriented green Twi’lek looked around for his remaining two compatriots. Beppy stood with a blank stare a he witnessed Wonbo and Jil painstakingly raise themselves from the ground. Wonbo struggled to regain his composure and focus his blaster cannon on the Imperials, but several bolts of blaster fire struck him in the chest, sending the largely build Twi’lek to his knees before collapsing lifelessly to his side.
Beppy thought he could make out a new loud noise, shouting perhaps, off in the distance. He watched as his yellow-skinned captain labored to get back to his feet. Two blaster rounds struck him in the back before one found its mark to his head, killing him instantly.
Mustering enough cognizance as he could, Beppy turned again to face the jungle. Slowly, one foot set out in front of the other as he slowly walked toward the jungle.
If I can just make it to the trees…, he thought.
Suddenly, he felt a strong grip take hold of both his shoulders. His vision went completely black. He barely even felt the black cloth hood being tugged over his head as he fainted from consciousness.
“The yellow one! Damn you!,” Ad’enn shouted as he rushed toward the assaulting Imperials.
The destruction of the Twi’lek’s starship thrust its nearby members into the ground, temporarily disorienting them. It was the perfect tactical moment for the marines to capture the few living smugglers but the troops had opted instead to capitalize on the moment to kill the leader and another crewmember.
Two Imperial soldiers rushed the Ad’enn as he approached the scene, weapons drawn on him. “Halt! Drop your weapon!,” one of the troops commanded.
He holstered his blaster and raised his hands. “I’m Naval Intelligence!,” he proclaimed. “Damnit the yellow one was the leader!,” he shouted angrily at the soldiers.
The two soldiers approached him, preparing to take him into custody, when they were stopped by a helmetless marine wearing a captain’s rank insignia. The officer had olive skin, black hair, and blue eyes.
“Hold up, sergeant. This is our man,” the captain declared. Behind him, the remaining marines fell into a defensive position around them. Two marines approached the group with the green Twi’lek bound and gagged in their grip.
The marine captain checked his chrono, then looked up into the evening sky to find their extraction shuttle was right on time. A Plug-6 freighter dropped down out of the clouds, racing for the cliffside where the Imperial assault team was gathered.
The ship descended hurriedly to the group’s location, hovering just over the cliff and extending its ramp to the edge.
“Everyone aboard!,” the marine captain ordered.
Two Imperial marines grabbed Ad’enn and forced the begrudged officer aboard the shuttle, followed by the marine captain, two marines dragging a seemingly unconscious Twi’lek prisoner, and the remainder of the assault force.
As the last marine boarded the starship, the ramp retreated back into position and the small freighter ascended up Vendaxa’s evening sky and disappeared beyond a thick layer of orange clouds.
“Damnit captain, I needed their leader alive!,” Ad’enn shouted to the marine captain.
Ignoring his protests, the marine captain stepped up to the communications terminal in the small freighter, activating the transmitter to deliver a message. “Captain Dromoor, Cresh Company, confirm target designated Head-tails neutralized. Five marks dead, one captured. Delivering prisoner to pre-designated holding facility as instructed. Dromoor out.”
“Dromoor?,” Ad’enn inquired with a confused expression.
“Same relation,” the captain responded, turning to face his undercover colleague. The captain’s uncle, an Imperial Navy commodore, was the deputy head of the Imperial Naval Intelligence Department, to which both officers belonged. But whereas Captain Dromoor served in I.N.I.D.’s organic marine commando battalion, Ad’enn served as a counter-intelligence officer in the Security Division.
Captain Dromoor began walking a line down his troops to check their status; injuries, captured intelligence, damaged gear or equipment, ammunition status. “You did good work, Bluespell. Believe me, the commodore will be pleased with your success. This is what… the third pirate group you’ve eradicated?,” the captain asked as he checked the wounded arm of one of his marines.
“Yes but… I’m not sure these are the pirates we were looking for,” Ad’enn professed as he carefully observed the green Twi’lek passed out and restrained to one of the jump chairs.
Captain Dromoor looked up with a confused expression. “Well, there’ll be time for you to get all that sorted out. We’re to rendezvous with one of our support ships in this sector. My team and I are getting off; you and the prisoner are to proceed to our station on Rishi. You can see to the transfer of this criminal and then debrief there,” the captain said, returning his attention to his wounded soldier.
Ad’enn stepped through the crowded space to assume a jump seat near the prisoner. He eyed the Twi’lek suspiciously. Why did the Twi’leks seem so surprised when Rokin suggested they’d been responsible for those attacks on Imperial military shipments? Come to think of it… how the hell could this band of alien do-gooders have pulled off the kind of attacks that Command had said they were responsible for? He thought back to the firefight several minutes prior. Did the marines not hear him say not to kill the yellow Twi’lek captain? Jil was almost entirely disoriented when they’d gunned him down.
The excitement of the battle was wearing off, and minor fatigue startled to settle in for most of the freighter’s passengers.
Ad’enn closed his eyes, wondering if there had been more to this mission than he’d been told, before he drifted off into a heavy sleep.
As the small craft descended through the planet’s atmosphere, the pilot’s voice carried over the intercom to alert his passengers they were approaching their destination.
Several hours prior, the inconspicuous freighter rendezvoused with an Imperial transport at a remote location. Captain Dromoor and his platoon of Imperial marine commandos transferred over to the large Imperial ship for transport back to Dromund Kaas. Ad’enn remained aboard with his sedated prisoner for the rest of the journey to Rishi.
Ad’enn stepped up to the starboard-side window of the small freighter for a better view of the planet below. Looking out the unkempt window, he noted the ship was descending toward a rather unimpressive and seemingly much dilapidated pirate settlement on a coastline. He knew what this place was of course, and why it was necessary that its visage not attract attention.
Several rusty buildings stood, many of them half-collapsed, wedged between a high cliff-side and the salty ocean waters. Curiously, Ad’enn noted that the high ridge on the south side of the settlement separated it from a lush ravine in which apparently rested numerous large shipping crates cloaked in vast camouflage nets.
He didn’t dwell on the obscurity for long as the ship came down quickly for a rough landing on the beach. Immediately, two shady looking figures garbed in pirates clothing came rushing out of a nearby shed toward the ship. Ad’enn reached for his blaster, startled by the unexpected greeting party.
“That’s your welcome party, captain,” the co-pilot explained as he entered the hold. “Our people here need to blend in so Imperial personnel on the perimeter dress in local attire.”
The undercover officer relaxed his grip on his pistol as the freighter settled in to its landing. The ship’s door opened, allowing the hold to flood with the salty, humid air of the tropical planet outside. Immediately, the two disguised Imperials boarded the vessel. Spotting the green Twi’lek captive, they promptly uncuffed the prisoner, slinging his arms over their shoulders as they made to depart the craft.
“We’ll see your prisoner over to Processing, captain,” one of the costumed Imperials informed Ad’enn. “You can proceed to Communications to report to Command.”
“I want to speak with the prisoner later,” Ad’enn commanded hurriedly as the two men quickly departed the shuttle with their captive. “I want him unspoiled!,” he shouted at the rapidly departing captors.
Stepping out of the shuttle, Ad’enn’s boots sank slightly into the soft sands of the Rishi beachfront. It was quite humid here, as on Vendaxa, but the salty ocean air had a more pleasant scent than the Point Nelere Marketplace. He took a deep breathe before noticing a third figure, also clad in pirate clothing, had exited from another, much large structure, and was beckoning him forward.
Ad’enn walked about halfway from the ship to the building when the freighter behind him lifted off and ascended beyond view into the clouds.
“Good evening, sir,” the figure said. “Congratulations on your successful mission. Another pirate group that opposed the Imperial Navy decimated!,” the youthful-looking male exclaimed. “If you’d be so kind as to follow me, sir. I’ll direct you to Communications so you can make your report.
With Ad’enn in close tow, the young male led them into the large building. They proceeded down a grimy, rusted corridor with several rooms on either side. Only a few of the rooms were occupied by even more Imperials in pirate garb. They had assimilated themselves to their cover well, Ad’enn thought, as they all maintained a thoroughly unwashed appearance. Mangled hair. Scraggy beards. Tattooed faces.
After traversing through several more meters of winding corridor, the hallway finally opened up into a large room. The circular chamber was packed with neatly assembled computer terminals, all manned by Imperial naval personnel whose clean and polished uniforms and faces were a stark contrast to the figures nearer the entrance. The walls were plastered with a variety of monitors presenting a variety of information: bounty postings, live camera surveillance, HoloNet newsfeed, starship blueprints, spaceship tracking.
Ad’enn’s guide led him around the edge of the room to proceed down yet another winding corridor. Arriving at a steel door at the end of the hall, the young Imperial turned to face him.
“Lieutenant Feld is inside, sir. You’re welcome to go in.” The salute presented to Ad’enn by the young man looked odd, given his attire. After his chaperon turned to depart the way they had come, Ad’enn gripped the cold door handle and proceeded into the room.
The communications room was small and circular-shaped as well. More monitors hanged on the walls while a few computer terminals sat against opposing sides of the room. In the center sat a large holoterminal for messaging. Ad’enn noted a massively hulking figure at the opposite end of the room, garbed in the standard black and white I.N.I.D. uniform. The balding officer entered the room, closing the door behind him as the bulky officer turned to face him.
As the bulky officer turned to face him, Ad’enn immediately recognized his unmistakable visage. The man stood easily at six-and-a-half feet tall and must have weighed around two hundred pounds. But it was his pearl-white left eye with a long scar running over it that gave him away. The pirate captain from the Point Nelere cantina!
Ad’enn swiftly drew his pistol from its holster, raising it toward to threatening menace. Just as Ad’enn began to point his blaster at the figure’s chest, the holoterminal between them activated, projecting a large bust image of an older man.
Ad’enn immediately recognized the man’s image. Balding with white hair. The right side of his face disfigured by years-long burn scars; his right eye since replaced by a cybernetic optic. Even with the blue hue of the holoimage, his darker, olive skin was apparent. Commodore Edyard Dromoor was the deputy leader of the Naval Intelligence Department. The second highest ranking intelligence officer in Imperial Navy service.
“Welcome to Reconnaissance Outpost eight-one-nine-three, or the Red Beach Resort as the locals call it,” the commodore’s transmitted voice carried heavily and loudly across the walls of the small room. The older man looked down upon Ad’enn, noting his drawn weapon. “You shan’t be needing that, Captain Adeen,” the senior officer addressed him by his real name. “Allow me to introduce Lieutenant Rigaar Feld,” he said turning his attention briefly to the side as the hulking figure circled around the room so that Adeen had a better view of him.
The massive officer nodded his head in a respectful gesture, but offered no greeting.
“You’ll forgive Lieutenant Feld’s silence, captain,” the commodore explained. “The lieutenant grew up on one of the Empire’s agricultural settlements on Nez Peron. When he was just a boy, his village was assaulted by the Stygian Slaughterers pirate gang. They looted the town, burned the crops, killed nearly all the villagers, and slit the poor lad’s throat before escaping with their bounty.”
“The Stygian Slaughterers!,” Adeen exclaimed. “But—“
“Allow me to disabuse you of your confusion, Captain Adeen. The Stygian Slaughterers were in fact one of the principal pirate threat groups harassing Imperial shipping in the Outer Rim during the years of the Great Galactic War. The group was notorious for its viciousness and violence, which they blamed was a response to Imperial harassment of their worlds,” the commodore stated dismissively. “During the Cold War, Naval Intelligence successfully tracked the Slaughterers fleet to a remote location in the Outer Rim. The Imperial Navy subsequently launched an operation to obliterate the criminal group. But one of my predecessors had the idea to assume the Stygian Slaughterers legend as cover for a subversive operation whereby Imperial naval intelligence agents, assuming the role of the pirate gang’s members, could embed themselves deeply in the community of intergalactic pirate thugs to better monitor their operations and act against them.”
“That decrepit oceanfront village you’re in… the Red Beach Resort as it was previously known, was the Slaughterers’ base of operations. We assumed control of their base, their ships, their image, and we’ve successfully carried out numerous counter-piracy operations against various pirate gangs with Lieutenant Feld masquerading as the group’s captain.”
“That’s… rather brilliant, sir. Unconventional, but brilliant,” Adeen professed in amazement.
“It’s downright dishonorable,” the commodore corrected, sighing heavily. “It’s not the business of the Imperial Navy to engage in these wild adventures of subterfuge and cloak-and-dagger. The traditional methods of reconnaissance suit out needs quite nicely.”
“Yes, sir,” Adeen adjusted. “Sir, there were some discrepancies with my mission. I’m not sure we apprehended the right—“
“Captain Adeen,” the imposing holofigure interrupted. “Your mission against the Sons of Ryloth terrorist gang is yet another brilliant success on your record in our agency’s counter-piracy campaign.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you. But I—“
“You’re to report back to department headquarters on Dromund Kaas at once. You’ll be promoted within the Counterintelligence Section. Congratulations, captain.” Both the commodore and the mute officer gazed at Adeen expectantly.
There were a few details about Adeen’s mission that bothered him. He did not believe, at all, that the Sons of Ryloth were the pirate menace command had made them out to be. The Twi’lek’s appeared genuinely surprised and confused to hear about their presumed involvement in harassing Imperial military shipments. As a security officer of the Imperial Navy’s intelligence organ, Adeen was well trained in interrogation tactics and had received many hours of instruction on the various deception methods employed by a multitude of alien species. He detected no such trickery among the Twi’leks.
Adeen wondered if Dromoor shared any of his suspicions, or perhaps knew more than he did. He decided not to press the matter, as he was sure not to get any further answers.
“Yes, sir. I’ll depart for Kaas City immediately. But I should like to interrogate my prisoner before—“
“Captain Adeen. You are directed to return to headquarters immediately,” the commodore instructed sternly. “You are not permitted to engage with the Twi’lek captive or investigate the matter further. Is that understood?” The commodore may have only had one eye, but it pierced Adeen to the bone as he looked upon him.
“Yes, sir. Orders understood.”
As quickly as he appeared, the transmission feed cut off and Dromoor’s holoimage dissipated before him.
Adeen noted the menacing look cast upon him by the mute lieutenant, standing like a hulking statue across the room. Adeen shot him a small nod before turning and exiting the room.
There were too many questions irritating Adeen’s conscious. He had led successful counterintelligence missions against a handful of other pirate gangs, but something about this assignment was off. Why was command so insistent on the guilt of the Sons of Ryloth, who clearly had no involvement in the crime they’d been accused of, save for a recent robbery of a small stockpile of Imperial medical supplies on Tatooine? Adeen struggled as well to process everything he had heard revealing the activities of the Stygian Slaughterers. There had been numerous reports lately of the Slaughterers’ gang attacking other pirate groups, as well as Imperial shipments.
Proceeding down the corridor back toward the large command room, Adeen halted in the hall as he considered the situation. He looked into one of the rooms to the side, finding his youthful guide from earlier inventorying some equipment. Resolved in a new purpose, Adeen strode over to the young man with an air of authority about him.
Turning to see who was approaching him, the young officer, still garbed in the unkempt attire of a pirate, shot Adeen a smart salute. “Sir!”
“The Twi’lek prisoner I arrived with, I wish to interrogate him. Where are your holding cells?”
“This way, sir,” the man said enthusiastically and proceeded to guide Adeen yet again through the complex.
I just have to get to the bottom of all this, Adeen thought as he followed his escort. Though if he got caught, he knew the consequences would be dire.
(( Honorable Mentions:Ravnie , owner and creator of Point Nelere; Vinzago , creator of the Killer Queen Fleet ))