Thursday, December 10, 2015

"Homecoming" - Star Wars: Riptide, Episode 7 Chapter 2

Episode 7 Chapter 2

Kaminoan scientist Doctor Adrap Topas

was forced to create a biological weapon to 
oppress the people of the planet Auilai. 
He later defied his Imperial overseers 
and created a secret cure, but was discovered
and imprisoned.

The Crew of the Riptide rescued Doctor Topas

from an Imperial prison transport
and retrieved the cure from its hiding place. 

After faking their deaths, they managed
to bluff their way past the blockade
of the ocean planet Auilai
in order to return to the 
underwater city of Panui
where Evo hopes to deliver
his important passenger
to his mother, former Jedi
Myr Shandor...

The Crew of the Riptide
Evo Shandor - nautolan transport captain
Balin Lee - young human Jedi-in-training
Emily Wonder - human mercenary

Not in attendance this week
Eggs Ledscramb - quarren bounty hunter
Rhys March - twi'lek tech-spec

Myr Shandor met her son aboard his submersible space transport, the Riptide.

Myr Shandor, Evo's mother

"What's going on? Why did you need me to meet you here? You know I don't like to leave the safet of my secret hospital."

Evo explained that he had a very important passenger that she needed to meet. He brought out Doctor Topas from the secret compartment. He explained Doctor Topas' role in creating the Gill Rot Virus and his subsequent work in creating a cure.

Myr was astonished. She warned her son that Doctor Topas may not be the most popular being on Auilai. His virus caused a lot of pain and suffering.

Doctor Topas assured her that he was forced to create the virus against his will and that he ended his career and risked his life in order to undo the damage wrought from his creation.

The kaminoan scientist explained that he had a small starter sample of the anti-virus, and that he needed two months to grow enough to innoculate the entire population, but he needed a medical laboratory to do his work. Myr offered the use of hers.

With that settled, they hid Doctor Topas inside a long transport crate and smuggled him through the city to Myr's secret hideout.

Once they had returned to Myr's secret base of operations, the crew was finally able to relax. Myr sat with Evo and Balin to catch up and hear about their exploits.

Balin was prepared for this moment. For the last several weeks, he had been threatening to reveal Evo's exploits in illegal spice distribution to Evo's mother. He took a deep breath.

Evo, sensing what was about to happen, quickly cut in, "Before we start, I wanted to let you know. We've had to make some very tough ethical choices to accomplish our mission. Know that everything we did, we did to support your work here and to aid the natives of Auilai."

Balin, caught off guard, exhaled, muttering, "You son of a..."

Myr tried to reassure her son, "That's okay. I've asked a lot of you. Tell me what you did."

Balin blurted out, "He sold drugs!"

Evo glared at Balin, "Spice. We smuggled smuggled Ryll spice."

Myr replied reassuringly, "That's okay. Ryll spice has medicinal uses. I'm sure it was put to good use."

Evo turned to his mother with a sheepish shrug, "Well...."

Balin said, "It was purely recreational."

Myr looked a little disappointed, "Oh. I see. Well, at least you're not smuggling spice for the Hutt cartels. That would be very dangerous."

Evo continued to look sheepish, "Well...."

Myr gave her son an exasperated look, "Seriously? Tell me at least that you didn't work for Narru the Bloodless. He's infamous! Once you work for him, he'll never let you go!"

Balin regarded Evo with smug superiority.

Evo tried to look away, embarrassed, "Well..."

My simply shook her head in disappointment, "Oh, Evo. Why?"

Evo explained as best he could, "It couldn't be helped! We needed money for repairs and upgrades to the ship, and the Shadow's gigs weren't paying enough. Narru made us a great offer, so we took it."

Myr relented, "I suppose. Well, what's been done is done. What's important is that you're home again and safe." She looked at young Balin, "As for you my little lung-fish, let's return to your studies."

GM Note
This was some of the most entertaining roleplaying we've done all campaign. So much humor, so much sibling interplay, so many great lines! The other players got a hoot out of watching it.

The crew spent the next several weeks in the safety of Myr's hideout, helping protect Doctor Topas while he worked tirelessly to create enough anti-virus to innoculate the entire planet.

Balin, meanwhile, continued his Jedi studies, learning the ways of the Force from his mentor Myr. One day, Balin had a vision of a microscopic point of light, like a faint star. He felt a desire to find this point of light, a strange urge to seek it out. It was somewhere on this planet and he had an idea where. When he explained this to Myr, she explained that it was time for his trial. He had to follow his instinct and find that point of light. His friends could accompany him on his journey, but when he faced the trial, he must face it alone. She warned him, the trial was dangerous,he may not return.

Balin packed for a long journey and set out on his recently purchased aqua-scooter with supplies to last him several days.

The young padawan traveled west along the surface of Auilai's ocean for several days. Eventually, he felt as if he'd reached his destination. He activated his hydrostatic bubble helmet and dove to the bottom.

He found a submerged island, now a seamount. There was a ruined structure like a castle or a temple at the top of the seamount. The structure was made of black basaltic stone with four tall pointed spires at each corner and a larger spire in the center.  The base of the structure was covered in barnacles, coral, and sea life. It appeared to have been abandoned and uninhabited for many millenia.

GM Note
It was a structure built by the ancient race of... whatever, Balin failed his Planetary Knowledge roll so.. it's not important. 

He examined the structure but could find no windows, no entrances, no apertures of any kind. He could sense life within, but none with sentience. Suddenly, he was overwhelmed with a sensation of great pain and hatred emanating from within the structure!

He carefully approached a blank wall framed by what appeared to be an entrance. He reached out and touched the wall. The wall slowly receded into the ground, revealing a tall arched entryway. Only darkness lay within, darkness and undying pain.

Balin slowly entered the lighless hall. Suddenly, his danger sense warned him of an attack! He dodged out of the way as a massive shape emerged from the inky blackness and attacked him. It was a massive eel-worm!

Eel-Worm Attack!
The segmented monstrosity roared and black ink billowed out in thick dark clouds. It swam around Balin in a wide circle, darting in to crush the teen in its massive mandibles.

Balin remained calm despite the menace of the giant eel-worm. He reached out with the Force to communicate with the beast. He learned that the eel-worm was the source of the sensation of agony, that something foreign and painful was lodged within the eel-worm's gullet.

Balin offered to help. He reached out and, using the Force, eased the eel-worm's pain. The eel-worm became calm, no longer attempting to attack Balin. The massive beast coiled around the teenager, opening its maw. Deep within, Balin saw the point of light from his vision. The eel-worm opened wide and moved to envelop Balin. Balin calmly allowed the creature to swallow him.

Balin reached out for the point of light, but he became stuck and it was beyond his reach. He closed his eyes. He envisioned the point of light. He reached out his hand and, using the Force, willed the point of light to him.

Something dislodged from deep within the eel-worm. Balin felt a round hard object the size of a melon in his hand. He was disgorged with an inky cough. The source of its pain finally dislodged, the eel-worm expressed its gratitude and swam away into some tunnel dug under the ancient structure.

Balin held in his hand a round calcified mass, knobby and hard, as large as his head. It looked ancient. Who knows how long it had been stuck in the gullet of the eel-worm.

He could sense the point of light deep inside the core of the calcified mass. He concentrated on the sphere, letting the Force flow through him and into it. The sphere cracked and layer upon layer of the calcified strata broke away and flaked off, leaving a tiny speck, no bigger than a grain of sand. The speck glowed white in Balin's fingers, then turned deep emerald green. He placed it in a pocket and returned home.

Myr explained that the speck was a kyber crystal - the focus of a jedi's lightsaber. Balin spent the next month cronstructing his lightsaber as Myr had trained him.

GM Note
This went off just as I had hoped. If Balin killed the creature, he failed the test, no lightsaber for him. However, if Balin tried to communicate with the creature, he'd get the lightsaber. It was a great reward for Balin's player to have a lightsaber for the final battle of the campaign. Plus, he took "Beast Languages" a few weeks ago after fighting the creatures on Prexiar.  The player even said he was about to fight the monster, then remembered he had taken that power!

Two months passed. Balin emerged from seclusion and showed off his newly constructed lightsaber, waving its green glowing blade with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Suddenly, a feeling of dread overcame him. He felt a great disturbance in the Force, a feeling of foreboding and menace, then it was gone.

Myr interrupted the demonstration to tell the group it was time for an important meeting and to gather in the dining room which doubled as their meeting/conference room.

The crew of the Riptide were soon joined by several dozen Auilani natives in the cramped meeting space.

Once assembled, she said it was time they met someone important - it was time to meet the Shadow. She got up and opened a curtain to an adjacent room. A hooded figure entered. The figure removed his hood to reveal a human male, about forty years old.

"Team, this is Baraq Lee, aka the Shadow."

Baraq Lee, aka "The Shadow"
The room stared back in astonished silence. Balin seemed confused.

Baraq approached Balin, "Hello Balin. It's been a long time."

Balin inquired, "Do I know you?"

"Yes, Balin. I am your father."

Baraq explained that, as an infant, Balin was identified as being strong in the Force. As was customary, Balin was enrolled in the Jedi praxeum on Coruscant. Unfortunately, before he could leave, the Jedi were betrayed and every child in the praxeum was killed. The Emperor sent specially trained inquisitors to take all those identified for Jedi training into custody. This included the infant Balin.

Baraq and his wife, Talien, were forced to send Balin into hiding in order to protect him from the inquisitors. He was placed into the custody of their friend, Myr Shandor, a former Jedi herself, to be secretly trained in the ways of the Force.

Meanwhile, Baraq and Talien joined the resistance against the Empire. For the past five years, their job was to establish new resistance cells and recruit new members. He has managed to arrange his posting on Auilai to be close to his son.

Balin asked about the fate of his mother. Baraq looked away. She had been captured and interrogated by an inquisitor, an evil cyborg named Darogan. He assumed she was dead.

After a moment of silence, Myr broke in, "Okay, now that that's out of the way, it's time for the real reason the Shadow is here."

Baraq took a breath and his demeanor suddenly became professional, detatched.

"Doctor Topas has given us a unique opportunity to strike a blow at the Imperial oppression of the Auilani. As we know, several years ago, the Rego mineral company discovered that the Ulcault, a compound with several industrial applications, was found below the sea-floor of Auilai. The inaccessible nature of the material made it cost ineffective to mine it unless native labor was used. The Auilani refused. Soon afterwards, the Auilani were affected by a virulent plague, the Gill Rot Virus. Without treatment, an Auilani would die. The Empire offered treatment, but only to those who worked the mines for the Rego company. They enforced their monopoly by setting up a blockade of the world. Evo has been smuggling the treatment to Myr for several months. The treatment was temporary, however, and could only be applied to a few Auilani at a time.

"Doctor Topas' cure is permanent. The anti-virus will render the Gill Rot virus ineffective and will immunize the recipient against future infection. In addition, it is self-sustaining. As long as there is plankton in our seas, there will be global immunity to the Empire's bioligical weapon.

"Doctor Topas has made enough of the cure to give every living Auilani full immunity to the virus. Unfortunately, we don't have a way of disseminating the cure. All of us can be innoculated, but innoculating everyone by hand would take generations.

"Fortunately, Doctor Topas has also given us a solution to that problem. We'll use the same method the Empire used to spread the disease in the first place.

"Doctor Topas has informed us of a secret Imperial biological weapons research facility located on Auilai. This facility is located in an extinct volcano. This is where the Empire has been replicating the Gill Rot virus from Doctor Topas' original stock.  They load the virus into viral bombs which are in turn distributed across the planet by specially modified probe droids.

"Doctor Topas was able to give us a complete schematic of the facility. It is our plan to occupy this facility and use its own technology to distribute the anti-virus."

The lights dimmed and Myr's holographic projector created the image of the secret base.

"The facility is surrounded by the walls of the volcano caldera. Turbolaser emplacements provide protection from the air, so there's no way we can approach it from space or with airspeeders or wavespeeders. There is one cave in the caldera wall that allows surface entrance, but it is protected by a force field. The waters around the facility are protected by mines, so no large submersible vehicles. Only small one-man vehicles can get through. In addition to the mines, the area around the island is patrolled by Rakai's men mounted on cyborg predators known as xaruks. These xaruks have armor plating and blasters for eyes, very dangerous! This facility, by the way, is where these abominations are created!

"Our mission is to take over this facility. In order to do that, we must accomplish four primary objectives. We must take over the control tower, here, the lab, here, the hanger, up here, and the power core, down here. If any one of those objectives are not accomplished, the entire plan fails.

"So, any ideas?"

Balin offered his thoughts, "What is this down here below the water line?"

"That's a thermal exhaust heat sink. It carries waste heat away from the power core."

Balin suggested, "A small team could breach the heat sink, swim up this pipe here and have access to the power core. It seems to me that if we take out the power core first, it will knock out the turbolasers and the sensors, and the other teams can approach by air."

Baraq looked on his son with pride. "That's a fantastic idea. Do you have anyone in mind for this team?"

Balin grinned, "I have some ideas."


Next time - The thrilling conclusion to Star Wars: Into the Abyss!