Light vs. Dark

Adventure 31 - The Spice Lord of Varl

Following leads provided by Mika, the party embarks on a daring mission to Varl to confront the spice lord behind the Tempest ring, once and for all…

In the weeks that follow the death of Jorda and the rise of Mika on Nar Shaddaa, the heroes spend some of their vast accumulations of wealth to upgrade and improve their gear while handling various odds and ends for Mika. Angela Krin has returned to her new command aboard the CSA ship, the Vigilance, but is still assigned to track down and break the spice trade. In the meantime, despite many systems outlawing Tempest spice, its use spreads unabated and the Sith armies continue to be supplied with a more refined form with less side effects, lending them an edge in battle.

Eventually, Mika recalls the team and requests them to deliver a pair of Corellian Sand Panthers to Lungru the Hutt on Joodrudda as a gift. As usual with Hutt politics, the gift is likely a posturing ploy between the Hutt clans. The team stops on Nar Shaddaa to pick up the panthers, delivered by the Nikto Orgamon, on behalf of Mika who is offworld at the moment. Orgamon also supplies the team with the payment advance for this mission. With the cargo secure, the party proceeds to Joodrudda.

Upon arriving at Joodrudda, Lungru’s forces direct the Grey Ghost to land on a pad about a half kilometer from Lundru’s palace. There, a dozen Cerean thugs in Lungru’s employ are waiting to receive the delivery. Kir Cesad, the lead Cerean, fails in an attempt to bait the heroes into a fight and with the cargo delivery complete the party boards the Grey Ghost and starts to head out of the system. During their departure, the heroes are hailed by Lungru the Hutt on the comm, who apologizes for the ill manners of his underlings. He also states he will not move against the heroes so long as they are working for Mika, but cautions them that Mika is not the Hutt that Jorda was, and Mika’s leash may be shorter and less comfortable.

Before jumping to hyperspace, a flight group of CSA IRD fighters approaches the Grey Ghost and requests to offer an escort to the Vigilance, where Krin wants to meet the party. Complying with the request, the ships fly to the edge of the system to rendezvous with the Vigilance, a CSA light cruiser typical of the variety employed by the CSA in anti-piracy operations. Krin invites the party aboard and provides a briefing which relates that CSA doctors have analyzed the Tempest spice and found a similarity to a rare virus native to the planet Varl, the original Hutt homeworld. Their analysis indicates that when the virus is introduced to common spice, it alters that spice, creating the variety known as Tempest. She has also tracked a freighter named the Barabi Run, which is known to smuggle spice. An undercover CSA agent was able to slice the nav computer and verify that the Barabi Run has been delivering its spice to Varl, via a trip with a hyperspace transit through the Rhilithan system.

Angela and the party hatch a plan to disable and board the Barabi Run, take command of the vessel, and then pose as the spice smugglers for the vessel’s next delivery to Varl in the hopes to infiltrate the Tempest spice operations. She offers to personally accompany the party undercover, but the full CSA forces don’t have authority to operate in the region and can’t be observed in action in this sector if this plan fails to disable the Barabi Run before it can escape. Reports of unauthorized CSA starship activity would result in ripples of consequences for CSA trade throughout the galaxy, and particularly with the Hutts. CSA vessels will remain on standby for Krin’s signal if they are needed. The party agrees to this plan and calls Mika to update him on their progress. They are again, only able to reach Orgamon, but he assures them the updates will be relayed to Mika.

With the plan in place, Angela joins the party on the Grey Ghost and the party proceeds to the Rhilithan system to lie in ambush for the spice smugglers. Kaisan and R4-4D undock the Aegis Hammer from the Grey Ghost to prepare for the ambush in the starfighter. When the Barabi Run arrives at the transit point, it is accompanied by a second freighter of the same configuration named the Unrepentant. It seems the smuggling operations has grown.

Undeterred, the party attacks with its two ships against the two heavily armed freighters. Although significant damage is exchanged, the heroes win the day and disable the Barabi Run and destroy the Unrepentant before they can dump their spice cargo and flee. With the remaining ship adrift in space, the party moves on to a boarding action of the Barabi Run and fights its way to the bridge, door by door. There, our heroes capture the command crew. Tarson Kestrel, the captain, would not surrender and had to be mentally dominated by Mind Tricks from the Jedi to do so instead of blindly fighting to the death in his own foolhardy manner.

With the Barabi Run under their control, Angela calls in the CSA ships to imprison the remaining smugglers and help repair damage from the battle. Unfortunately, under the delivery timetable they download from the Barabi Run’s computers the party is unable to repair the Barabi Run fast enough to make it to Varl reasonably on schedule. With that in mind, the party takes the clearance codes from the memory banks of the Barabi Run and transfers back to the Grey Ghost, along with some crates of common spice. Angela orders the smuggler prisoners to be held aboard the CSA vessels and then orders the CSA vessels to scuttle the Barabi Run. When finished, the CSA vessels are to proceed to the edge of the Varl system and await her signal for assistance. Kaisan docks the Aegis Hammer with the CSA vessels and then he and 4D again board the Grey Ghost with the rest of the team.

With spice and clearance codes in hand, our heroes proceed to Varl. There, they are confronted by Hutt Patrol vessels, but their clearance codes silently allow the passage and the patrols veer off after confirming the transmissions. They set the Grey Ghost down on the standard delivery landing pad at an outpost on the other side of a mountain from the main processing facility. There, 10 labor droids and an H-3P0 unit greet them to begin the offloading.

The party asks the H-3P0 unit many questions. They learn from the droid that it still works for Vago. Vago has been acting a bit odd lately and when Vago picked the droid up from Nar Shaddaa some time ago he seemed to be trying to keep a low profile. Also Vago picked up the Twi’lek Utrila sisters on Nal Hutta some time ago as well. The last it saw Vago was a few days prior when he dropped H-3P0 off at this landing pad to wait for the next shipment. H-3P0 doesn’t really know his way around the planet but indicates that the labor droids usually carry the crates through the nearby mountain tunnels to the processing plant on the other side. After learning what they can from H-3P0, the party dons their breath masks and lets the silent labor droids pick up the containers of spice and lead the way into the mountain tunnels, leaving Tyson and 4D to guard the ship.

In the mountain tunnels, the party runs into violent native fauna in the form of a photon spider, but handily overcome it. Less than three hours after landing, they emerge on the other side of the mountain and get their first looking at the sprawling factory, which seems unusually sleek and modern – two traits that are very out of place amidst the ruins of Varl. Many patrol droids are visible around the perimeter of the factory and a Ubrikkian space yacht can be seen in a docking bay on the near side. Also unusual is a river of toxic sludge coming off the mountain and seemingly flowing into some sort of intake vent. The party elects to infiltrate through said vent and starts down the rocky terrain to the factory. As they descend the mountain, they elude a patrol of Rodians from the Bomu clan.

After a series of encounters to infiltrate the factory, the heroes find themselves inside a processing center. There, they encounter two of the Utrila sister Twi’leks as well as Vago and many old Hutt War Droids. A battle ensues and in the fighting Kaisan spots a device on the back of Vago’s head he believes is being used to control the droids. Between this bit of information and the apparent reality that Vago is the spice lord, Kaisan unleashes the full power of the Force, flinging Vago against the side of a processing vat. Vago is killed instantly and slides down the side of the vat onto conveyor belts of spice. From there, his corpse is carried into the machinery, breaking it and grinding the automated production line to a halt. The droids continue their attacks, unabated.

While most of the party fended off oncoming waves of droids, the two Twi’lek sisters retreat to a command console in a room atop a tower above the factory floor. Kaisan and Angela pursued. The Twi’leks activated some switches and the control room itself was revealed to be a lift that began to ascend to higher levels of the factory. Kaisan, perhaps overwhelmed by the taunts of the Utrila sisters, the emotions of using the Force to slay the Hutt, or the danger he has unwittingly placed his paramour Angela in, briefly succumbs to his hatred and calls upon the dark side to enhance a telekinetic kill of one of the Twi’leks before turning to menace the second sister.

As soon as the party finished off the droids below, they climbed the factory tower and found a service ladder in the lift that they began to ascend to follow Kaisan and Angela. Meanwhile, back in the lift, Kaisan and Angela only have a moment to share together before the lift doors open and grenades come sailing at them. Sensing it his not his destiny to die here, Kaisan uses every power and trick at his disposal to survive the onslaught until he and Angela can clear the doors and damage the war droids attacking them. By then, the rest of the party begins to emerge one by one from the service ladder and join the fray.

Eventually, the droids stop attacking and the lights come up. Here they find Mika and the final Utrila sister, surrounded by numerous Nikto and Hutt War Droids at the nexus of the factory. The room is very reminiscent of a starship bridge. Mika has called a halt to the fighting to make a final bid to the party to join him in dominating the galaxy through the spice trade. The party refuses and the fight resumes. As Mika draws a Hutt-sized blaster pistol and begins manipulating controls on his throne, the factory begins to rumble with the sound of roaring engines. The factory is revealed to be a starship in its own right, bristling with armaments.

As the battle continues, Mika reveals the full extent of his mastery of the Force blocking a variety of attempts to subdue and disarm him by Joh-Kel and Kaisan. This culminates with Kaisan locked in a battle of Force rebukes with Mika that ends with Kaisan’s power being reflected back upon him and destroying his lightsaber. Mika is left little time to gloat, however, for as Joh-Kel closes in with waves of Force Light, Mika activates the ship’s self destruct. Although the spice lord of Varl has been defeated, and the production facility will soon follow, the party is trapped on the bridge. Fortunately, someone spots an irregularity in the bulkhead and investigates, finding a concealed escape pod. As the party piles into the pod, Joh-Kel is alert enough to call the crystal of Kaisan’s broken lightsaber to his hand and not leave it behind.

The party calls Tyson for pick up, who says he was already en route to rendezvous with them when he detected the launch of the capital sized starship from the factory’s position. A few quick moments later and everyone is back aboard the Grey Ghost and hauling jets for deep space when the factory ship explodes in their wake.

In the aftermath, data obtained from Mika’s bridge during the fight revealed the locations of hidden caches of spice around the galaxy. Angela delivered a full report to the CSA and relayed this information. The caches were found by other CSA agents and destroyed. Angela also notified her superiors that she would travel back to the Republic with the party to support relay the CSA’s findings and its role in these events and prevent any matters from being confused in a way to cast doubt on the CSA.

Finally, with all of the Hutts from Jorda’s immediate circle dead or incapacitated, including Vago, his clan holdings are subsequently used to settle outstanding debts with rivals (principally Velo and Flargh) and the remainder is then split among the Hutt Grand Council, which now has an open seat to be vied for among many lesser Hutt families. And with his rival’s clan deposed, Flarggh the Hutt is easily able to steer the Hutt Grand Council into an open Alliance with the Sith.

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