Light vs. Dark
The Place Farthest From
After returning from Alderaan, the party of Tyson, Sebastian, and Joh-Kel were at long-last invited into the Jedi Temple at length. The circumstances were basically that Jedi Quintis offered to show them around and a few Jedi wanted to meet with the party to speak to them about a possible mission relating to the assassination attempt on Senator Lohk, back in the first adventure.
So it was that the party found itself in the Jedi Temple, speaking to a pair of Jedi Masters that would be important NPCs later in the campaign, Jedi Master Ralwarr and Jedi Master Snapit. The latter is a canonical figure of the period, but as this is an Infinities Campaign the circumstances and events of his life would change. He still recruits prospective Jedi, but not small children. Jedi Snapit appears a bit younger than he is usually portrayed, but still with his trademark quarterstaff close at hand, along with a belted lightsaber. Master Ralwarr is a Wookie Jedi Master and leader of the Jedi Council. He wears a lightsaber on his belt and the standard Jedi over-robe but not the leggings and tunic. He is over 100 years old at this point but looks younger to any Wookies that can recognize differences in age for their species based on sight. His reputation precedes him as a wise leader and great warrior.
Quintis is also on hand during this particular meeting as the Jedi Masters explained to the party that some leads had turned up in the attempt on Lohk’s life. The current information uncovered by erstwhile Republic and Jedi agents was that Lassor was possibly in the employ of the Hutts, specifically Flarggh the Hutt. Flarggh is also one of the principal operators behind the Hutt Cartel’s war with the Bothans. Now the Jedi want to send a Republic team of specialists undercover into the war zone to get closer to the Hutts and learn more information about who wants Republic Senators killed. That team is the player characters. The Hutts would be the obvious answer, but is it really just them? To do this, they suggest joining a mercenary organization working for the Cartel in the war and then getting closer to the Hutts via mercenary security duties. It may also be possible to go directly to Nar Shaddaa, but most of the Hutts are on Nal Hutta and getting down to the planet from the Smugglers’ Moon would prove much more difficult without a recognized affiliation.
The mercenary units themselves are mobile organizations in these times of war, but reports indicate that the Tonowi Rangers, a group now working for the Hutts, has been operating near Tatooine recently. The Masters suggest that the party could look into making contact there. Once contact is made with a merc group, they further suggest trying to join up and working their way into the organization to gain access to the Hutts. Once closer to the Hutt leadership, try to gain their confidence and discover information about the assassination attempt or dealings with Lassor. The Jedi do not want to merely know if the Hutts are behind it the attempt. No, they instead want clues to the third party that seems to be involved here, which is the organization that busted Lassor out of prison on Alderaan. The charge is to find out if the Hutts were behind this assassination and if they are employing the third party, or if it is the other way around.
Once again the party, particularly Tyson, worked out agreements for payment and fees for the party’s services, and the mission was agreed to. After the principals were worked out, the Jedi Masters also warned Joh-Kel that reports of strange Force effects were coming in from other Jedi operating in Outer Rim regions. The reports amounted to occasions when the Force would seemingly stop working for brief periods. They advised Joh-Kel to be alert for such phenomena.
Finally as the meeting ended, Sebastian took the chance to request a sparring match with Jedi Master Ralwarr. Sebastian used his Rykk blade and Ralwarr, his lightsaber. It was a simple affair where Ralwarr fought defensively and challenged Sebastian to, “hit,” him. After a minute or so of sparring, Sebastian landed a hit with the flat side of his blade and Ralwarr congratulated him. Ralwarr counseled Sebastian on patience. He also mentioned that Sebastian showed aptitude and promise in the Force and that someday there might be a place for him in the Jedi Order.
After gathering basic supplies, the party set off for Tatooine on registered transport. Many days later, they arrived in the largest city – Anchorhead. They spent some time in local cantinas asking about the mercs and picking up rumors. It sounded as if the mercenaries had been in the region but hadn’t been seen in recent days. Rumor was they had a small and secret facility on the planet and would sometimes come into Anchorhead to get odd supplies or just spend time at the cantinas. The party also picked up the rumor that a mining facility out in the desert was being raided by Tusken Raiders and the Mining Guild on the planet was hiring mercenaries for extra security. One bartender told them they looked pretty tough and that they could check in at the Mining Guild office if they needed some work. Unsure of when the mercenaries might next stop through town, they decided to check out the security opportunity with the guild to see if they could be a bit more proactive at finding the mercenaries.
News over at the Mining Guild office was grim. They’d lost communications with their mining outpost in the last day and all the transports they had at the office had already gone out to investigate without returning or communicating. Telemetry indicated they may have gone done far out in the desert. Administrators sent a communiqué off world to their headquarter offices, but Tatooine wasn’t a high yielding facility. The locals expected to be waiting for a response for at least several more days. The office manager noted how capable the party seemed and offered them a private contract to go out and investigate what had happened. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much to offer them, but the party thought it would be a good chance to see if the Rangers were still active on Tatooine. The party elected to buy a pair of Banthas as their mode of transportation. They may also have been worried about sand in machinery components or trying to appear incognito in the desert. In this way, whatever neutralized the other transports may not come after them.
With Banthas obtained, as well as desert garb, goggles, all temperature cloaks, and copious amounts of water, the party set out across the desert following the map provided by the Mining Guild office. After nearly a day of travel in the rolling sand dunes, everyone starts to notice strange forms hopping along just over the crest of the dunes. At first everyone wonders if it’s just an optical illusion or mirage but as a few bloodthirsty mega-womp rats come bounding over the nearest rise towards them, they quickly discern otherwise. These are not your run of the mill womp rats. They are an unusual breed that exhibits more lizard or bird like traits and is three to four times the size of your typical womp rat. Initiative is rolled and the battle is joined, as a trickle of a few womp rats turns into streaming brood of womp rats which then eventually gives way to a horde. Attempts were made to ride the Banthas boldly into battle, but almost no success was found there as the critters were easily able to jump up to saddle height.
Grenades came out, Force Strikes were used, and when the sands settled, easily over fifty mega-womp rats lay dead under the twin suns of Tatooine. The party rounded up their banthas, left the gruesome scene, and resumed their trek. Towards sunset, they came upon a simple homestead where a small family of humans lived who went by the name Darklighter. Our weary heroes were welcomed into the homestead for the night and part one of this adventure came to a close.
At the Darklighter homestead, the party enjoyed a respite from the extremes of the desert after a hard day of Bantha-riding and womp rat battling under the harsh twin suns. The Darklighters were not without their own plight however, and they asked the party for help. Their droid was missing and they suspected Jawas were to blame. They asked the party to keep an eye out for a particular model of droid, or Jawas, and to return their droid to them if they could. The party wanted payment, but the GM reminded them they’d been staying at the homestead for free and could probably continue to do so if they didn’t want to come across as cut throat drifters. The droid went missing near a moisture vaporator at the edge of the homestead’s territory a few days ago. The family had no idea what became of the droid, and whether it malfunctioned or was stolen. Their searches in the nearby area came up empty.
In the pre-dawn twilight and chill, the party set out on their banthas once again. The journey through the day was trying on the party, with the heat being oppressive and little to no wind. As midday approached they sought out a cliff face in the distance, hoping for canyons and shade to avoid the worst of afternoon heat. They could closely parallel their original course and resume it in the evening by following the cliffs.
While they moved in this direction, they came upon faint tracks of a colossal tracked vehicle. By the description of the Jawas the Darklighters had given them, the party surmised that these mind be tracks from something that was called a Sandcrawler. The line of travel seemed to be perpendicular to the cliff face in the distance however, it was impossible to determine the actual direction of travel of the vehicle. Was it heading towards the cliff face, or away from it? Alert for Jawas, the party elected to press on towards the safety of shade. If they couldn’t make it, they’d have to stop on a dune and try to fashion a shelter from their desert supplies to provide shade for afternoon.
As the twin suns rode high in the sky the temperatures climbed, but the party was drawing near the cliffs that now rose above them and they decided to make for a cleft that had spotted. Within another 15 minutes, they were in the shade provided by the cliff face and moved on a winding route along the tracks the Sandcrawler had left amidst small rock formations jutting from the sand. As their banthas lumbered out from behind some rocks, following the trail, they looked ahead to see a lone figure cloaked in white, carrying a black quarterstaff, and standing atop a mound of boulders looking back at them. It was too far to make out the figure’s face, but it seemed to be a humanoid. The party stopped and took out various binoculars to view the figure. Succeeding at perception, they saw that it was a red-skinned Nikto, a species often in employee or subjugation of the Hutts. Scanning the remaining area with binoculars revealed no one else in hiding, but there was some concern about others laying in ambush amongst the rocks and boulders.
After a few minutes of staring each other down the party decided to move toward the stranger. Ever cautious, the party proceeded at a slow bantha walk, the distant figure unmoving and patiently waiting. Within a few minutes, everyone stood within 10 meters of each other and exchanged pleasantries. The Nikto introduced himself as Sangisu, an escaped slave of a Hutt that had a palace out in the desert. He was making his way back to Anchorhead and would like to travel with the party assuming they were out of Anchorhead. He’d also prefer to ride, rather than walk. He states that ultimately, he’d like to leave Tatooine and return to his home world at some point. The party asked if he’d seen a Sandcrawler and they relayed their description of the vehicle. Sangisu indicated he’d seen such a thing in a nearby canyon just this past morning.
The party was hesitant for a bit, but they sensed nothing odd about the Nikto and he seemed sincere and helpful. As they talked, Tyson, “casually moved his bantha,” around the area. Finding no one lying in ambush, he nodded back to Joh-Kel and Sebastian. Joh-Kel welcomed Sangisu to join them and the Nikto proceeded to Tyson’s bantha and climbed up behind the saddle.
Now slightly more comfortable in the shade of the cliffs, the party decided to move ahead to find this Sandcrawler. They figured they’d no longer be able to make it to the mining outpost today so they might as well see if they could tie up this loose end of a missing droid. Either that, or they could at least rule out the Jawas as culprits if they found no evidence or testimony concerning them and the missing droid.
About an hour and a half later, the party had reached the canyon and hid their banthas, electing to proceed on foot for the remaining short distance described by Sangisu. Rounding a bend in a small box canyon, the party indeed saw a Sandcrawler up ahead. Thought trying to be stealthy, the Jawas spotted the party and they scrambled into their vehicle, sealing it up. It would seem the Jawas were feeling guilty for some reason and didn’t expect anyone to be out in this canyon so it could only mean trouble. The party broke into an all-out run for the Sandcrawler, but it had already fired up its engines and started to lumber slowly forward.
Joh-Kel sprinted around in front of the Sandcrawler with his lightsaber lit to get far enough ahead to be in view of the drivers. He held his shimmering blue blade high over his head in one hand, with the other hand held palm-outward in front of him, yelling for the Jawas to stop in the name of the Jedi. Of course, Jawas had never heard much of anything called Jedi, so they didn’t stop. Plus, they figured if they ran him over, maybe they’d be able to salvage the fancy sword this crazy guy was holding up.
Seeing the vehicle wasn’t going to stop, Tyson was already pounding away with his blaster rifle on the workings of the treads, to little effect as Sebastian and Sangisu jogged along haplessly. Joh-Kel moved to a set of treads and began jamming his lightsaber into the workings of one after another until finally the massive vehicle simply could not move forward. Forced to a stop, the Jawas still didn’t feel inclined to open their doors and matters remained at an impasse. Joh-Kel was inclined to climb up to the hatch above stairs that had retracted, and carve it open, but Tyson spotted an access hatch on the side that was sealed. It was likely if the party carved it’s way in the front door, it’d be greeted by the equivalent of a Jawa firing squad. Therefore, Tyson suggested carving open the access hatch which was more likely to lead to out of the way crawlspaces.
The party agreed and Tyson expertly free climbed up the side of the vehicle and deployed synthrope and pitons as he went for the rest of the party. At the hatch, he managed to use Disable Device to gain access. Prying open the panel, he lights his glowrod and shimmies into the tight crawlspace beyond. Sebastian and Joh-Kel follow. Sangisu remains outside to continue to survey the main hatch and present the illusion that the party is still trying to figure out how to get in somewhere around the lower sections of the vehicle.
Inside the Sandcrawler, the party worked its way to some sort of engine room or factory-like facility where they spotted a Jawa war party preparing for to defend against boarders. After the Jawas deployed to various key points around the room and beyond, Tyson continued to sneak along the catwalks as Joh-Kel and Sebastian watched from the adjoining access tunnel that came into the room. Tyson finds a pool of melted metal at the far end of the room that seems to stir with some kind of creature beneath the surface. Wanting no part of it, he returns to Joh-Kel and Sebastian and they climb down to another level inside the vehicle.
This time they find a droid storage bay. They quickly subdue the few Jawas stationed there and find the Darklighter’s droid. After finding the droid, getting out with the droid becomes a problem. It’s apparent that the 3PO-like droid can’t climb, much less climb quietly through the access tunnels, so the party looks for another way. Scouting down a hall, they find many more Jawas, probably guarding corridors and primary access points. Returning to the droid room, they find a tube that leads out of the room and to the outside of the vehicle which is also hooked up to some kind of combo-vacuum and anti-grav machine. Tyson fiddles with the settings, reversing them and adjusting their safety protocols. Everyone huddles together by the huge tube and Joh-Kel uses the Force to flip a switch indicated by Tyson that is at the control console across the room. The party rides safely outside, but the Jawas don’t take long to figure out what happened. As the party scrambles away down the canyon carrying the droid with them, the Jawas swarm out of the Sandcrawler in pursuit but are quickly outdistanced.
Thus was the Darklighter droid recovered without harming a single Jawa, beyond a few stun beams. With the Darklighter droid recovered and nightfall approaching, the party collects their banthas and moves north along the cliff face to the next canyon where they make camp.
Around the camp’s lantern that night, Sangisu spoke of his time in servitude of the local Hutt, who fancied himself far mightier than his station in the Hutt hierarchy. Basically, the local Hutt currently amounted to a backwater official in the realm of the Hutts and didn’t seem like a good lead into any kind of high-level Cartel organizations or assassination plots for Republic Senators. The party spoke in a guarded manner around Sangisu, not ready to fully trust him. Watches were set with the agreement to wake before dawn for an early start again and the night passed uneventfully. just before the first sunrise, the party set out again upon their banthas.
As the morning breaks, they move further along the rocky terrain and cliffs bordering the endless wastes and sand dunes until they finally catch a blurry glimpse of the distant mining outpost through the shimmering heat waves rising off the ground. Turning towards the outpost, it wasn’t long until the sounds of battle reached their ears and they urged their banthas forward at, “top speed.”
As they closed on the outpost, they could see a few humans in simple garb adorned with the patch of the mining guild firing at Tuskens darting about the nearby compound. The Tuskens were on the verge of charging and overrunning the miners as the party arrived, so the party charged into the fray with Tyson maneuvering his Bantha in attempts to trample the fierce marauders as Sebastian and Sangisu leapt forth swinging their weapons. Joh-Kel remained upon his bantha for a time also attempting tramples, but when it seemed his bantha might be overcome by the Tuskens he stood up on the creature’s back, ran forward and leapt for one of the walls of the compound. Unfortunately, Joh-Kel’s player rolled horribly for the jump and instead of alighting atop the wall Joh-Kel landed in a tangled heap at the base of the wall instead.
The Tuskens were no match for the party and the skirmish quickly ended with several of them killed. Our heroes moved to aid the miners who quickly updated the party on the situation. The facility had been overrun by a teeming horde of Tuskens that had converted the central open-area of the compound into a sort of camp. These few miners had been attempting to breach the Tusken guard perimeter intermittently for the last few days, trying to obtain supplies or steal a landspeeder but the battles were difficult; some miners had been lost. Every time they’d find a vehicle, they’d also find that the Tuskens had smashed it. In recent days, another Tusken war party came in from the desert shaking their sticks and procured blaster rifles over their heads while dragging hover vehicles behind their banthas piled with dead humans. Apparently this was the fate of rescue teams the mining guild sent out earlier. Whatever is going on, something had the usually antagonistic tribes of Tuskens banded together.
Not wasting any time, the party and miners beat a hasty retreat from the compound edges to some nearby rock formations to seek cover and time to formulate a plan. After some more discussion, it was decided the party would sneak in and see if they could find out what the Tuskens were up to. The party hoped to recover enough vehicle components to maybe jury-rig a landspeeder the miners said wasn’t too badly beat up. In that way, they could flee rapidly and outdistance any bantha-based pursuit across the desert.
With the course of action settled upon, the party set out into the compound, leaving their banthas behind. The miners came along, but lagged to the rear. Eventually, a Tusken patrol came upon the party and they weren’t able to dispatch it quickly or quietly, so gradually reinforcements kept trickling in and joining the battle, until the Tusken contingent was a seething mass of barking marauders pressing in on the party from all sides. The battle seemed grim and the party readied their heaviest firepower of grenades to thin out the numbers of enemies, but it was of no avail. The Tuskens were in a seemingly unnatural frenzy and continued to press the advantage, coming ever closer to landing killing blows.
As the fight seemed lost, the loud hum of space transport repulsorlifts and roar of engines spread over the area as a ship flew into view and began firing blasts from its laser turrets into the Tusken horde. In moments as Tusken after Tusken was blasted into oblivion, the will of the motley tribes broke and they finally fled, easily down half their numbers or worse. The raiders quickly retreated to the center of the compound, got onto their banthas and headed north, into the desert.
The transport set down at the compound’s landing pad and the party went to meet their rescuers. Debarking from the ship were two humans, a male and female, that were well armed and had the glint of experience in their eyes. They wore casual garb, but their jackets bore military-style unit insignia. It seemed the party had found some mercenaries. Introductions went around and the mercenaries introduced themselves as Kell Ryder and Edrisi Valen, working for the Tonowi Rangers mercenary company. Their ship, indicated proudly, was the Stormhawk.
The party mentions they’ve been looking to join up with the mercenaries and Kell says he’s only a Lieutenant and can’t officially sign the party into service, but the unit is always looking for good recruits. Both he and Erisi were impressed from what little of the battle they saw during the approach and they are somewhat surprised the heroes held off so many Tuskens for so long. He offers to work together securing the compound. He’ll use the time to observe them and if he likes what he sees, combined with what he already saw of the battle on approach, recommending them to the company’s colonel should be no problem. With that, it’s decided to sweep and secure the compound and maybe determine exactly what the Tuskens were up to.
The entire group moves through the compound together seeking any remaining Tusken holdouts, but finds none. They find the central camp area, complete with some kind of ritual circle but can’t make any sense of it. Joh-Kel senses strange auras in the Force and perhaps a trace of the dark side, but it’s fleeting. Tyson and Sangisu follow some tracks to the mine head itself and then into the mine tunnels. Most prints seem to be of Tusken boots or sandals, but one pair of tracks seems to be boots with a very distinct and modern pattern from the sole left in the dirt and sand. The tracks in the mine lead to a dead end. Stymied by the dead end, the party eventually gives up on that mystery and leaves the mines.
Returning to the surface, the party finished sweeping through the compound to secure it. Then, everyone flew back to Anchorhead aboard the Stormhawk, with a brief stop at the Darklighter farm to drop off the rescued droid, where the guild was going to increase its efforts and resources to secure the compound against further Sand People incursions. After that, Edrisi and Kell took the party to the mercenary base on Tatooine, located in the wall of a canyon far out in the desert.
Here the party would speak more with Kell and Edrisi about the particulars of mercenary service. Also Kell and Edrisi tried discussed privately if they thought it would be wise to recruit the player characters and take them to the mercenaries’ current primary base, located off world. By the time the twin suns both had set, it was agreed, the party would be joining the Tonowi Rangers.