Characters (and what we know about them so far):
Claymore Trelk: Senator of the Poulos system
Hara-Kalor: Kwol Jedi Padawan
Oord Womba: Force-using Republic Investigator
Piban Macrosun: Pilot
R0-B1: Senatorial Protocol droid
Trian Letstra: Street tech
Kraych: Doogo soldier
The smoke from a thousand volcanic pyres blurred the
sun into an angry red, tinting the landing platform and the two
combatants. Trian expressed a few Coruscant street words that
Hara-Kalor hadn't heard before.
The reptilian padawan hesitated for a moment, fascinated by the apparent change in his master. He had sparred with Tsai-Roshi many times, but had never seen him handle a lightsaber like this. His single blade worked rapidly against the insectoid Sith's two, somehow always there to block both and frequently counterstrike. The Sith was tall and nimble with a long reach, and attacked with an animal ferocity. Catching the Jedi's weapon in a double-saber X-block, the Sith punched him in the side of the head with one of his spare arms.
The padawan took in the scene, weighing options. Parked on the platform to their left was a small transport that he recognized as the Ecna Lubma, a freelance paramedic shuttle owned by some old friends of Roshi. Another ship hovered a few metres out from the platform, a broad arrowhead with a Y cross-section. Hara-Kalor lit his force lash and left Trian in the doorway, running to his master's aid. The ship swung away.
Roshi didn't spare a glance as his apprentice approached, but the long fingers of his free hand snatched something from his belt and sent it skittering across the permacrete toward him. Hara-Kalor recognized the flat, round form of a Jedi tracking device.
As his clawlike fingers closed on it he saw the Sith score a telling hit on his master, a low sweep that nicked the stubby feet of the Jedi as he jumped the blade. Hara-Kalor felt the pulse of pain that rippled from him and his first thought was to leap to Roshi's defence, but the little Jedi regained his form, pushing the Sith back, and the apprentice knew that his master's instructions must be obeyed.
The Gran beckoned frantically to Trian from the Ecna
Lubma's hatch, an old medical droid standing beside him
solemnly. The three-eyed alien had a silver patch on one eye. The
tech approached with caution, unsure of their motives until the
"Quick! Roshi can take care of himself. We've just seen a midair firefight down below! If you're a friend of Hara-Kalor's, I need you to tell me who I can help and who might kill me. We kind of arrived in the middle of things here".
Trian looked at them both in confusion. "Who.. what.." he began.
"Doctor Suutcha" the Gran stepped forward and wrung his hand hastily. "Medical Evac specialist. Tsai-Roshi and I go way back".
"Who?" said the tech.
The Gran said nothing, but his eyes clicked to the blazing lightsaber fight behind Trian.
"Oh, you brought the Jedi!" Trian had just put things together when his arm was grabbed by the droid and he was dragged through the closing hatch.
"Yes, yes. Time and lives are wasting. Oh, and that's my droid, OD".
Hara-Kalor ran across the platform at the unknown
ship as it drifted away and began to angle upward. Flicking the
arming switch, he threw the device with all the strength he could
muster. The tracker arced over the widening gap and landed above
and between the ship's two rear engines, clamping to the hull as
it blasted upward.
[GM's note: he rolled 17 on one wild six-sided die- it was a perfect shot!]
As he turned to return to the fight, Hara-Kalor noticed that Trian was no longer in sight. Suddenly the Ecna Lubma gave a burst from its repulsors and plummeted over the edge of the landing platform, dropping toward the rocky surface far below. The Jedi had no time to wonder why.
Tsai-Roshi's head telescoped close to his body as the Sith flipped over his head and slashed close to it with both sabers simultaneously. As it landed lightly on its chitinous feet the Jedi struck, a narrow swing that cleanly lopped off one of its legs. Hara-Kalor hesitated again, thinking that the battle was over, but the insect merely put a spare limb down as a leg and pressed the attack again, mouthparts snapping savagely.
Hara-Kalor drew his force lash to ready position. The Force was with him.
Moving to an angle wide of his master, he threw everything into a lunging downward slash. The Sith's compound eyes glittered like the jewel between them as it deflected the strike downward into the permacrete and swept at him with the other saber.
Hara-Kalor had only the time of the descending blade to rue his overconfidence, and it was stopped short when the Sith was pushed bodily back by the blade of his master cutting into its chest. Roshi did not stop there, flowing into a moving combination that drove the dying insect to the edge of the platform and over it. The little Jedi master stood at the edge, bloody footprints trailing behind, and watched the black robes flutter downward to the rock and ash below.
Hara-Kalor dragged himself to his feet, shutting his weapon off and glancing at his master's injury. It was bleeding freely, but the little Jedi had healed worse. Tsai-Roshi did not turn as he approached, but his voice was weary.
"Roshi had hoped that recent events had cured Hara-Kalor of his overconfidence".
Hara-Kalor bowed his head. "I am ssorry, masster. I thought that with you besside me " he stopped when he realized he was making excuses.
"Hara-Kalor would have served better by entering the fight defensively to create an opening for Roshi".
Hara-Kalor nodded. "Yess, masster".
Roshi turned to face him, and the padawan saw a hint of a smile in his features. Pride?
"Still, Roshi sees that your technique improves. Soon Hara-Kalor will exchange his force lash for his lightsaber".
They turned away from the edge, and Hara-Kalor noticed for the first time that an alarm klaxon was sounding inside the tower.
The Ecna Lubma arced around the tower as it
dropped. The chair Trian was in remained steady with no trace of
vibration, and he guessed it had been engineered to support
bodies with serious injuries.
"Coming in, we saw a blaster fight outside the tower". Suutcha drawled from the side of his mouth. "Looked like a couple of chaps in paragrav belts. Friends of yours?" he nodded toward the colony at the base of the mesa.
"Slaves" he said as they fell toward them, then nodded. Life had kicked them around like it had with him. Sure, they were friends.
Then his eyes widened. Dead Stroo dotted the compound and many of them were swarming over the four Ohrine in the compound, overpowering them with numbers in spite of casualties.
"Get ready at the lock" instructed the doctor.
Piban moved aft, drawing his blaster, and had just reached the hatch by which he had entered the ship when the entire wall swung upward. It took a moment for the startled tech to realize that the ship had been designed for fast evacuation, and when he stepped off the ramp he nearly tripped over a prone form lying in the ash.
It was Piban.
Ducking a holographic nebula, Claymore inspected
Kraych's handiwork. Blood was no longer seeping from the deep
wound in Oord's chest, but the comatose Seeker was still making
gurgling sounds with each breath.
[It's the best I can do] defended the Doogo [I only know a little first aid, and I've never worked on a human before. Besides, this is all I had]. He tossed aside the little medpac container from his bandolier, and climbed the chest-high wall to inspect the computers.
"Excuse me sir" Beeone interjected behind them "but I seem to recall that the crates where we came in contained medical supplies". The droid slid his blaster back into place in his stomach and detached it from his hand.
"Then go down and get them!" snapped Claymore.
Beeone wandered over to a diagonal track set into the wall. They could see now that platforms could travel on the track, spiraling up or down to the different levels of the tower. The Sith Lord, or the Servant (or both) had used it in the darkness to split them up. There were no obvious controls. Above them he could see a doorway reachable only by the platform elevator, and another doorway far above that,
"Uh.. sir?" stammered the droid. "There's no way-"
"Don't bother me with details!" the Senator interrupted. "Get down there! This man needs help!".
The droid's photoreceptors blinked. "Of course, sir" he started to edge around the room in search of some means of obeying his master's orders.
Kraych was in luck. He couldn't use computers very well, but the first one he went to had been left active and using some kind of log. Details scrolled across the screen, of gem cutting and shipment to the Gishia system on the express orders of a Darth Feranex, and something about implantation. He didn't like the sound of that. He told the Senator, who gave a startled look.
"We learned back on Dabbadon that the implanted gems stop them fighting each other. They must be training more of their order!" he said. "We've seen two, but there could be three or fifty. We have no way of knowing".
They were interrupted by a squeaking sound and looked across to where Beeone was trying unsuccessfully to climb up to the computers. Kraych ran over to help him, noticed the elevator controls as he passed, and the droid was soon sinking through the floor on a platform.
Kraych moved to the next computer. It was a sensor array, and two ships were within its range. One, identified as the Kunzite Flame, had just left the atmosphere of the planet and was aligning for the jump to hyperspace. As it did so Kraych made a note of the general direction. Pinpointing a destination from the direction of a jump was almost impossible, but he thought the information might be useful.
The second ship was only two hundred meters away and had a public transponder that identified it as the Ecna Lubma. He turned to inform Claymore when the room filled with the blaring of alarm klaxons.
"Shut that thing off!" said Claymore irritably, thinking he'd heard shouting just before it. Looking up into the gloom, he could just discern the shape of a platform coming from the topmost doorway with two Jedi on it. Hara-Kalor raised a claw in greeting.
Kraych moved to the next computer to look for the alarm controls and found that, according to the security monitors, the noise was the least of their problems. Two levels down a unit of battle droids were activating amid a large group of mercenaries arming themselves.
The other camera was situated at the peak of the tower. At the edge of its display could be seen two tall, ornate, black thrones.
When the Doogo turned to give the bad news he was almost hit by a blaster bolt. The doorway above them (on the platform track) led to the maintenance section, where a droid under repair had been activated with the others. Legless and with only one and a half arms, it had dragged itself to the doorway and fired three bolts down at them before Claymore shot it in the chest with Oord's blaster. Hot metal splinters rained down into the cartography room.
Kraych studied the security controls again. They could be used to lock doors, turn off air cyclers, even release a stun gas, but he didn't know any of the codes. The screen showed the mercenaries heading for the turbolift by which they had first entered the tower, and he was able to at least power the lift down.
[We have a little time. Not much] he reported.
Claymore's comlink beeped. "I have the medpacs, sir" said Beeone.
"Good" replied Claymore. "Get back here now. There's an army beneath you" he turned it off before the startled droid answered and turned to the Jedi stepping off the platform. "Can you help?" he asked them.
"Yess, he can" Hara-Kalor said. "My masster iss a great healer" he pointed to the short Jedi's foot. Claymore didn't know why, there was nothing unusual there.
Tsai-Roshi squatted next to the fallen Seeker, taking in his plight with his large round eyes. Elongated fingers reached tenderly out to the wound on his chest, and the Jedi Master bowed his head as if overcome with sorrow.
A silence settled in the room, and Claymore began to feel an uneasy impatience. Could he help at all, or was he about to recite a traditional rite? The Jedi worked with the Republic, but they weren't under the control of the Republic. The difference between the two was the measure of the senator's mistrust.
Then the tip of Roshi's index finger began to glow a gentle red. The hairs on the back of Claymore's neck stood up, and he moved back involuntarily. The finger was a brilliant white now, and as the Jedi Master raised his head, eyes closed, the Senator was shocked to find that he could see the Jedi's heart glowing like a burning coal in his chest. There was a whispering in the room like a soft sea breeze, then the glowing faded as Roshi slumped over Oord, exhausted.
An echoing stillness lasted only a few moments before Oord stirred with a snort and half opened his eyes. He looked hung over. Badly. He coughed weakly.
"Hara-Kalor" said the Jedi Master. "We have little time. Find from this place what you can". The padawan left without a word. "Get this man up to the landing pad" Roshi told Claymore. "Roshi's friend Doctor Suutcha will meet us".
Beeone arrived with an armful of medpacs. "These should be of help to you, master Oord". He did a double take. "Master Oord?"
Claymore helped the wounded man to his feet.
An image of the Gishia system filled the room as Kraych fiddled with the cartography computer. "Gishia?" commented the Jedi Master.
"It's to do with these Sith- I'll brief you later" said Claymore authoritatively.
"No, Roshi will brief you" said Roshi. "There has been more news".
Claymore glared, opened his mouth to reply, then closed it again. As the Jedi shuffled away he produced his datapad and jotted Note to self: Do something about smug Jedi superiority.
The platform grated to a stop and Beeone stepped out
onto the landing pad.
"Beeone?" Hara-Kalor's voice sounded apprehensive over the comlink. "Get up here".
The droid sighed at the impatience of some sentients. "I am up here, sir. I don't see why-"
"Not the landing pad" the padawan shot back. "Up here". The droid craned his head back and saw that the sliding platforms continued up to the tower's peak.
Hara-Kalor just stood there and took in the scene, a
chill seeping through his body. Here, at the pinnacle of the dark
tower, a circular room's transparisteel walls opened to a view
over the surface of the nightmare world, dark mountains and black
plains cracked red and spewing fire. The floor and ceiling were a
mosaic of arcane designs, and in the center was a holoprojector
ringed by six thrones of varying sizes.
It wordlessly told of power and reverence. The padawan's scales rippled as he recognised a perverse mirror image to the chambers of the Jedi Council.
The soft whine of servomotors sounded behind Hara-Kalor. He didn't acknowledge Beeone's arrival, and the droid didn't say a word. The dread of the room impeded talk.
The thrones were of different sizes. Two were vaguely human sized and bore inscriptions that Beeone translated as "Lord Rayj" and "Lord Morsus". Beeone surmised that these were the two they had faced on Dabbadon.
Two others were slightly larger, one carved with the name of Lord Beluuaa and the other one Lord Feranex. The latter was very thin and had four arm-rests, and Hara-Kalor concluded it had belonged to the savage insect his master had slain.
A fifth had been crafted for a very small, Yoda-sized life form and bore the name Lord Vulnero.
The last throne was two meters wide and four meters tall, and was inscribed with the name of Lord Cruciatus.
Feeling exposed and very small, the padawan and droid fled the throne room.
Kraych's whickers twitched. The droids and
mercenaries had forced the turbolift door and were attempting to
climb the shaft.
When Kraych remotely disengaged the brakes, the elevator plummeted down at them. A climbing team of three mercenaries started moving the instant they heard sound and were back through the doorway when it swept past. A battle droid half inside the door was not so lucky, guillotined at the waist, and another became an impromptu brake between the lift and shaft wall, and streamed sparks all the way down.
[We're going to make it!] Kraych exulted over his comlink. [I slowed them down at the turbolift shaft, and that's the only way up].
"No" snapped Claymore's voice impatiently. "It's the only way up that we've seen. Don't assume, and get up to the pad NOW".
On the way up, Kraych heard a door crash open behind him.
The Ecna Lubma cruised through hyperspace,
following the signal of the jedi tracking device on the Kunzite
Morale was low. It was a cramped trip- the ship was almost full of Stroo refugees. The Ohrine mercenaries had managed to set off their gas bomb and all the Stroo pupae (and some of the adults) had died. Piban's prone form bobbed in a bacta bath, and Oord was been connected to monitoring equipment.
[I ran a check on that ship's jump trajectory] Kraych informed. [If they're only doing one jump they're most likely headed for the Gaarla or Rulanta systems].
"It would appear to be like the latter" droned the monotone of OD the medical droid, at the nav console. "A waterworld, if memory serves".
"You mentioned the Gishia system back there" Claymore pressed Kraych. "What was that about?".
"Roshi knows" said Tsai-Roshi. "A few days ago the infant nephew of Eeth Koth, one of the Jedi Council, was kidnapped. The Jedi sent a padawan with a Republic investigation team and they tracked the kidnappers to Gishia. This splinter group of Sith were using an ancient power source there to implant some kind of gemstone in the foreheads of the babies".
[GM's note: This refers to a reunion adventure of the players (but not characters) of the Agost campaign!]
"Raissing their next generation" Hara-Kalor interjected grimly.
"Yes" the Jedi stated. "The children were saved, but the facility was destroyed by the Sith themselves. We learned little. Roshi meditated on this until he sensed his apprentice was in danger, and came to rescue him".
"WITH the aid of his dashing long-time friends!" put in Doctor Suutcha with a toothy grin.
"We now know much more" Trian ignored the attempt to lighten the mood. "There were six of them, now five 'cause you cut up the bug".
"That's no problem, right?" dismissed Suutcha. "I mean, there are hundreds of Jedi "
Tsai-Roshi bobbed his head patiently. "That may not be enough. While the Sith Roshi faced did not appear to be as well trained as those mentioned in our archives, the power of the Dark Side is not in raw fighting skill. Fear, deceit and manipulation are their ways, and history has shown that even two can leave hundreds of star systems in flames".
"That" added Hara-Kalor "iss why we dare not rissk a detour to take thesse refugeess to ssafety. We must follow thiss sship and sstop the Ssith at any cosst".
Tsai-Roshi nodded. "Including the lives of us all".
the days before escaping the streets of Coruscant, Trian had
dreamed of one day seeing a waterworld. He expected a brilliant
blue ball hanging in the void like a child's toy.
Rulanta, by contrast, was a swirl of colours ranging from a dark olive to a pale aqua. The tracking signal led them to the terminator, where the white dwarf triad that lit the system faded to night. The dark waters could be seen heaving through the gaps of a fierce hurricane.
Trian adjusted the sensors carefully, filtering out the static and electromagnetic interference of the lightning. The signal of the Sith's ship, the Kunzite Flame, was very strong. "It's close" he announced, marking the coordinates. "Beneath the ocean. Could it have crashed?"
"If it's built like THIS ship, definitely" Dr Suutcha said bug-eyed. "I'm not flying into that".
"We still have to find it" put in Oord. "They could have a well armoured hull".
"This ship isn't built for flying into hurricane winds" barked the doctor. "Or going underwater, either".
"Then our next move is obvious" stated Claymore. "Where do we find a ship that is?"
city of Udubu floated placidly on the surface. Its modern
metrotowers gleamed in the morning sun, and the group could see
several pleasure craft racing over the water as the Ecna
Lubma eased onto the docking platform.
Piban gripped the landing strut to steady himself. During their several days in hyperspace from the mysterious Sith planet, he had recovered well under the care of Doctor and Jedi healer. "Feels good to have a safe landing for once" he said cynically, to a chorus of agreement.
"You won't be needing me for a while" the doctor told his Jedi friend as they walked down the ramp. "I can't go gallivanting around a waterworld when some of these slaves need attention. Rulanta doesn't take refugees, either".
"The Gaarla system is nearby" Tsai-Roshi suggested. "Attend to their needs, and Roshi will find you in the cantinas here in three days". A subtle grin flickered across his features, and Hara-Kalor knew his master had shared many adventures with the doctor.
"You're not going too?" Claymore's voice sounded disappointed as the Ecna Lubma's ramp hissed upward. He didn't like the stubby Jedi's air of authority rivaling his own.
"Rosshi'ss duty iss here" Hara-Kalor defended his master. "We are needed here more than-" the reptile stopped as he felt his master's displeasure. The genuine pursuit of peace is its own justification -his lessons came quickly to his mind.
"Fine" Claymore dismissed the conversation. "To matters at hand. We need to find a ship captain, but first I need to do a few things now we're back in civilization".
[I also] Kraych twitched his ears, the doogo equivalent of nodding.
"And me" added Oord. "How about we do some shopping and meet back here in one standard hour?" he pointed to a bustling market outside the spaceport.
"Agreed" said Claymore. "This way, Beeone".
returned a little early. Beeone was almost repaired, his holdout
blaster was recharged, and he had transmitted his message of
support to Chancellor Palpatine, adding a request for him to do
something about interfering Jedi.
The only ones of the group who had come back were Tsai-Roshi and his reptilian apprentice. Just great, thought the senator. A bothan child was with them.
He walked up to them and noticed Hara-Kalor was dripping. "You're wet" he observed.
"Wresstle fisshing iss a popular ssport here" the padawan explained. "The fisshess were not being heard by their captorss, and I interpreted between the sspeciess. When one life form oppresssesss-".
"Sorry I asked" the senator cut him off. "And you?" he addressed the bothan.
"I'm Orkinz" the little chest puffed out proudly. "Cabin boy of the Jet Some. Your master here said he could afford my captain's rates".
Claymore shot Tsai-Roshi a venomous look. "He's not my master son, I'm no Jedi. There are many other forms of power in this galaxy, and they have their own masters".
group trickled back over the next few minutes. Beeone had been
repaired, along with Oord's armour. He and Kraych had purchased
breathing equipment and some kind of underwater ranged weapons,
and Piban had searched for more swoop parts with Trian. Orkinz
led them to the Gett Slosht cantina, a trendy bar so new that
worker droids were still finishing its domed roof.
The cabin boy's captain had not arrived yet, so they took a table and began to drink. Oord started some conversations with the locals and heard tales of ships approaching the system but vanishing, and the scaling down of a search for a missing marine biologist. Kraych stepped up to the dance floor to win some hearts and returned hastily after drawing the eye of a female gamorrean. He and Claymore then tried their luck at the sabbacc table.
After Claymore had lost sufficient credits to realize he wasn't cut out to be a gambler, he returned to the table to find the others talking to a garishly dressed Mon Calamari with a wooden nose and some kind of fish gaping stupidly from one shoulder.
"This is captain Lon Gon Tinn" Beeone introduced him. "Captain of the Jet Some".
"Lon, we have some pressing business at these coordinates". Tsai-Roshi slid a datacard to the Mon Calamari.
"The Mukesso sea" the captain identified it easily. "Never been flat water there as long as my grandsire can remember. Waters not suited to spacelubbers the likes 'o you swabs. Now what business would ye be havin' there?"
"We're paying you" said the senator. "Does it matter?"
"By the five tentacles of Wibben Waterwalker's wife!" retorted the captain. "If I'm putting me ship and crew on the line fer ya, you'll be tellin' me what for!"
"We'll tell you when we know" Oord put in.
"Ah" nodded the mon calamari, mind filling with thoughts of treasure as he misinterpreted the mystery. "Could be worth me while then. Some of the lads may say I'm too quick to take on work, but I like the look of you swabs. If you've Jedi in tow I know you can be trusted, and your droid's Mon Calamari accent reminds me of home. But the twelve seas can be a rough place- can you lot handle yourself in a fight?"
"Professionally" answered Oord with calm confidence.
The two Jedi humbly said nothing.
"Does your ship go underwater?" Piban asked.
"The Jet Some will go anywhere you want it to" Lon Gon stated firmly. "Docking bay 22. Two hours should give me crew enough time to prep the ship. Now slide over that bottle".
flat, silver fish shape of the Jet Some sped over a calm
The droning of the subspeeder's powerful engines induced a relaxing calm. While the fifteen Mon Calamari crew always seemed to be working on something, senator Trelk dozed in a bunk adjoining the galley, Beeone vigilant by his side. The two Jedi kept to themselves in one cabin, and the others gathered in the small lounge.
Kraych moved the heatblade slowly in the air, getting a feel for its weight. The weapon taken from the Servant of the Sith was old, very old, but the black metal of the blade was strong and sharp. The hilt was encrusted with ancient circuitry, and Tsai-Roshi had noted similarities to antique lightsaber design. It used powerful energy- they had seen the weapon turn white hot when activated, and it had cut through one of the plates of Oord's armour like butter. Its balance was quite similar to the Doogo snikkit, or longclaw, and Kraych resolved to further his studies by learning its use.
Piban fidgeted, hand brushing the fresh scar on the side of his face. "We're just going to scout this place out, right? I mean, we almost got killed on that planet. Oord was cut up bad. I took a blaster bolt graze to the head, for the love of-"
[What did it feel like?] Kraych interrupted quizzically.
"As if I can remember" the pilot shot back. "Look, we went through some bad stuff back there and that was only facing one of their servants and a few mercs. There are five Lords of the Sith running around and we're chasing them. Who knows what we'll run into?"
[Another ancient artefact, I suppose] Kraych said. [Like the temple on that volcanic planet, or the pod on my homeworld that started all this].
"An underwater base, I'm guessing" said Oord.
"Why?" said Trian, working with the innards of his pet droid. "They had a base back on the other planet, and it had their thrones in it. They also run a lot of the criminal organizations in the sector, who probably have space stations or palaces or something. What do they need a sunken clubhouse for?"
Everyone considered this for a moment.
[Vacations?] suggested Kraych.
"These sort of things are what we need to find out" concluded Piban. "And 'Find Out' is all we need to do. We're just seven beings. Oh, and a droid. We can't bring down crime cartels on our own. We just need to find out enough to call the big guns in, and then hopefully these Sith will either be wiped out or too busy to bother with us".
"Then you can go back to a quiet, normal life" nodded Trian.
As if on cure, the wall mounted comlink clicked. "All passengers to the bridge" Lon Gon Tin's voice barked. "and start lookin' professional".
"Trouble" said Lon Gon Tin, the fish on his
shoulder giving an involuntary snort.
"What kind of trouble?" Trian queried as he entered, fastening his pet's power cell compartment.
"That kind" Orkinz the cabin boy stabbed a finger at the sensors, where a blip could be seen following the subspeeder.
Piban looked at it. "Pirates?" he queried.
The captain gave him a look almost as nasty as the fish on his shoulder. "Out here, ships don't follow you to sell seafood sticks, boy. You said you were all good in a fight- start impressing me. Can any of you use a harpoon turret?".
They all looked at each other helplessly.
"I usually work by letting them on board and then shooting them" said Oord calmly. No-one could tell if he was joking.
"What about your crew?" Piban motioned to two of the Mon Calamari at their stations.
"I had some good gunners, but they were in the Float Some when it was boarded by Blackbeak's men. He cleaned and gutted them all. The only thing my lads here can harpoon is fish".
"Maybe they can pretend " began Oord.
"And maybe you can be shuttin' yer mouth and openin' fire!" roared the captain.
clambered up to the turret, wincing at the sudden daylight. The
transparisteel dome around him was flecked with spray, and his
position above the bridge offered a manificent view of the
blurring sea and the plume of water whipping in the slipstream
behind them. At the aft end of the hull he could see Trian
strapping himself into his turret. Oord and Kraych were already
in theirs to port and starboard, studying their controls. There
was no sign of another craft on the horizon.
"This can't be very different from a blaster cannon" speculated Oord.
"It IS a blaster cannon" Trian sounded happy. "There are three sets of controls here- a single-barreled blaster, a harpoon cannon and some kind of focused water suction thingy".
"Looks familiar" Piban nodded. "Like a tractor beam. They must use it to move objects underwater".
"Contact. One mark at one-one five" Oord reported tonelessly. This was followed by Trian blasting with enthusiasm at the dot on the horizon. Piban loosed a couple for shots for good measure.
"They're out of range" Oord added.
A bolt of energy streaked in from the horizon and struck the Jet Some's port side. Metal splashed and bubbled, but the hull seemed intact.
"Our range, or theirs?" Trian asked, noticing as he did so that it didn't seem to matter. The pirate ship was closing fast.
had never traveled in a subspeeder before, but senator Trelk knew
the sound of blaster cannon fire striking the hull. He was
He stumbled to the bridge and almost tripped over Tsai-Roshi, which didn't help his mood at all. "Who is it this time?" spat the senator irritably. "Anyone we know?"
"Piratess" said Hara-Kalor, looking over the shoulder of the sensor operator. "No transsponder ssignal".
The senator looked to the captain, who had taken the controls himself. The Mon Cal raised a claw forbidding anyone to interrupt his concentration.
Trelk grunted. Ever since I met these people, I just can't get a good sleep.
gave an untranslatable chatter in Doogo as his shot struck the
pursuing ship. It was pentagonal shaped, its hull blackened and
scored in many places. Trian added another as his shot struck
The Jet Some suddenly skipped off a wave and soared a few metres into the air, disorienting both those trying to destroy and defend it. Heavy energy bolts passed beneath it as the subspeeder fell back onto its repulsor field , dipping into the water in a burst of spray. A shot from Kraych struck the pirates' armour before Trian punched one clean through its hull. Thick smoke spewed from the breach, and the tech had just opened his mouth to cheer when a return shot struck the Jet Some hard below the bridge.
"Hang on" barked the voice of Lon Gon in their headsets as the Jet Some slowed slightly. From his vantage point atop the subspeeder Piban could see various plates sliding closed around the engines, then with a sickening lurch the ship plunged beneath the waves. A tempest of bubbles obscured all vision, then whirled away to reveal crystal green waters. A sprinkle of silver fish darted out of the ship's path.
[What did you do that for?] said the disappointed voice of Kraych. [We were doing very well!]
"So were they" retorted the captain. "Gunners, switch to missile harpoons- energy weapons will just short out. Crew, assess damage and report".
"We should use the sensors on our right" Trian advised. "They seem to be sonic-based underwater ones".
They all changed controls and scanned the water above, but there was no sign of the pirate ship.
"A wise move by the captain" Oord noted. "We holed them, so they couldn't dive".
some hours of underwater travel the Jet Some surfaced to
make better time. Pursuit had been shaken, and the subspeeder
cruised long into the afternoon. Storm clouds grew on the
horizon, and the choppy water grew murky. Even the worst
navigator among them could tell they had reached the Mukesso sea.
Lon Gon took her down again, seeking to go beneath the storm. The Jet Some drifted through an olive gloom, and visibility shrank to the length of the ship.
"So" the captain said conversationally. "I assume you know where we're going. Let me guess: an ancestor's will left you an ancient map, or one of you lost your father at sea long ago. No, you were repairing that droid and engraved inside one of the plates.."
Tsai-Roshi gestured toward the sensors. Switches flipped, a dial twirled, and the bridge was filled with the faint pinging of the Jedi tracking device.
"Ah" the captain stroked his chin. "So that's it. We're tailing someone again, boys. Orkinz, set her for low signal profile". He nodded to another Mon Cal at the controls. "Steady as she goes, Mr Ockbar. Lock onto it, and take us in nice 'n easy".
An eerie silence settled on them as the ship moved further in. The sensor system fluctuated wildly, giving frequent bursts of static. "I'm following it, sir, but we can't stay locked on" reported the sensor operator.
Piban moved to assist him. "The storm, or something in the water" he speculated.
"Sensor interference is a two-edged weapon" Tsai-Roshi sounded like he was quoting. "It will also aid our concealment".
"Welcome to the Mukesso sea!" the captain grinned wildly "Many strange happenings to be found in these here waters, me lad."
Piban smacked the console experimentally. "This is bizarre. It looks like two signals"
"That's because it is" informed the sensor operator. "But the second one isn't a tracking signal".
"Focused scan on the other one- now" ordered Lon Gon.
"It's a bio" the Mon Cal reported, eyes flicking over the controls. "Something is coming up from the depths. Something big".
was a faint scratching of claws as Kraych left for one of the
"It must hear the sound of the engines" snapped Claymore.
"Power us down!" Piban cried.
"Too late!" Lon Gon pointed out the main viewport of the Jet Some as he pushed the helmsman out of his way.
A long dark shape appeared out of the gloom, its giant bullet head giving a tossing and plunging motion as it closed on the ship. Eyes the size of astro droids glared at them as the long body powered it through the water.
"Ion eel!" yelled the captain. "Brace!" He leaned on the control wheel.
The Jet Some lurched into a dive, sending many of its passengers reeling. A dark purple and yellow streaked body moved past the viewport, crackling with some form of natural energy.
bothering to strap in, Kraych threw himself into the gunnery
chair (landing hard on his tail) and loosed a harpoon into
nothing but water. Further down the hull he saw another from a
crewmember who had taken the aft turret, with a similar result.
He grappled with the unfamiliar controls, switching to the hydrotractor as the beast came at them again. The great mouth gaped at the Doogo, and he released a tightly focused push-beam of water in desperation. It could not hurt the beast, but the force of it spoiled its aim and a bite that would have taken his turret off closed on the Jet Some further down the hull. The other turret's internal lights died.
"A main node is ionised-
power to turret two is out!"
Lon Gon reported as he tried to swing the ship away from the
"Almost at turret three" Trian sounded over the comlink, breath heavy from running.
[By all the moons of..] Kraych's voice dissolved into his own tongue.
Claymore turned to Beeone. "What did he say?".
The droid hesitated. "I must have misheard, sir. I thought he said that someone is riding it!"
clambered into the gunnery blister in time to see the massive
head sweep past. A humanoid figure in black was astride it,
breath mask over face and hands pressed to the eel's head, and it
was so close that Trian caught the glint of metal tubes on the
back of the figure's wrists.
"Darth Rayj" he gasped. He triggered a harpoon but the giant eel was gone in the gloom.
[Target the rider] Kraych sounded frustrated. [It'll be easier to damage]
Piban wasn't so sure about that. "And harder to sshoot" Hara-Kalor muttered over the comlink.
Then there it was again, sweeping at them from the darkness, jaws open wide. Both gunners fired, fear spoiling their aim, and the ion eel clamped down on the Jet Some's engines. Sparks skittered over the hull, and the power plant died like a snuffed candle.
The ship, now a lifeless hulk, sank into the murky depths.