Vella Talatheen runs her exceptional ship on a very unusual set of operating parameters- she offers free passage to anyone who she feels will be useful to have around, as long as they don’t dictate where she goes, how she gets there, or how long the trip takes. If someone does wish to go to a particular destination, the price depends on the novelty and interest of the trip, rather than any practical consideration. It’s unconventional, but it works for her. Having a ship that is formed purely through Force and will undoubtedly helps keep her in the black while operating this way.
On Rishi, which she landed on with only herself and her longtime companion and astrogator, Kir Tebbo, and a regular passenger, Gar’rick Hallen, she encounters several individuals who decide that her style may work for them as well. Each for their own reasons, ’’Ace’’, Derek Gunn, Nadya Tamair (with her companion, Shai Ma’Lah), and Dr. Peggi Su decide to sign on to join Vella in her wanderings.
While on Rishi, Gar’rick aquires a torc of unusual manufacture, of significance that is not immediately obvious.
Vella has a commission to go to Rothana, to allow researchers from Rothana Heavy Engineering to examine her unusual ship. The company decides to give her a surprise inspection on the way, and hires mercenaries to attack her en route. Unfortunately, she had gained offensive capability since their last observation, and the encounter ends badly for the mercenaries. Once the Independent Systems Alliance gets wind of the incident, it goes badly for RHE as well, but very profitably for our heroes.
Back at home on the Black Rock, Gar’rick does some research about the torc he purchased on Rishi, and discovers that it may be the key to a mystery involving a vanished Gamorrean diplomat. He decides to investigate the Imperial representative who, until recently, had been attempting to convince the Gamorreans to join the Empire through diplomatic means, and recruits Vella and her current crew to support him in his investigations.
While en route to Hypori, the local Imperial hub, it becomes apparent that Gar’rick’s DataPad is actually a DataDroid, and there is significant friction between Vella and Gar’rick over his attempt to smuggle it aboard as cargo rather than a passenger. This is resolved without incident, however.
On Hypori, Gar’rick and his accomplices attempt to con their way into the Imperial Administration Building’s records so that they can determine the current location of Moll Fanera, the diplomat assigned to Gamorr, who Gar’rick describes as “an overglorified messenger boy”. They claim to be checking the accounting of the office, and ask for travel information on a list of “randomly selected” names, with Moll in the second position. They are told to come back in a few hours, as it will take some time for the information to be gathered.
The party as a whole does some equipment shopping, and then the same group returns to the building. Instead of being given a large chunk of records, however, they are sidetracked and taken prisoner by security. Thanks to their unexpectedly burly cutting equipment (both a vibroblade and the light saber come into play), they manage to escape to the roof, where Vella does a high-speed, low-altitude pickup. During the escape, Gar’rick slices into the computer systems and pulls all the data he can that relates to Moll. Upon analyzing this later, he determines why his plan did not work; Moll is the head of Imperial Diplomacy for this entire region of space, and his title is a euphemism for “head spy”. Attempting to audit the espionage chief rarely ends well, even when the audit is legitimate.
From the information they stole during the escape, the heroes determine that Moll has decided that the direct approach is the way to go in bringing Gamorr into the Imperial fold- there is an attack planned only a few days off that is intended to wipe an entire clan that opposes joining the Empire off the map, and all the preparations are complete. The attack is too large for one ship’s worth of people to fend off, so some influence is needed. Vella is acquainted with the ISA representative on the nearby planet of Roon, so she heads there at her top speed.
On Roon, Vella introduces the party to the semi-native Taung, explains to the Taung that her companions need to speak to the ISA rep, and returns to her ship to rest after the grueling trip. Once the message goes out to the ISA rep, there is not much else that can be done to help the current situation, so the party explores the settlement. Nadya is fascinated by the fact that the Taung armor greatly resembles the Mandelorian armor she encountered in her youth, and asks their assigned guide, Tal Kot if he would be willing to train her. After checking with his superior, he agrees. Night falls, and the party is given beds in a barracks as their sleeping quarters for the night.
The next morning, Nadya is awakened early, and Tal Kot takes her to the armorer to get some armor and a sword appropriate to her diminuitive (compared to the 3-meter-tall Taung) stature. She is shocked to discover that armor that “quenches” light sabers is common here, which explains why the Taung use solid swords rather than light sabers, despite being Force users. She gives the armorer the chunks of Cortosis Weave embedded in wall materials she cut out of the Imperial building during the escape, and he modifies some equipment originally meant for Taung children for her use. Once she is properly equipped, she is set to tearing down a wall that needs to be replaced, using her Force sensitivity to guide her sledge to the stones that will allow her to knock it down most efficiently.
Breakfast includes some bright purple berries, which Kir is familiar with from previous visits. Ace asks him about any safety warnings with the local diet before leaving the barracks, and is warned not to eat anything purple. He passes this warning on to Derek and Dr. Su. but does not manage to warn Gar’rick in time. When the party returns to the barracks, they discover that Gar’rick has eaten the purple berries offered with breakfast, and is now hallucinating and incoherent. He does not appear harmed, and Kir tells the others that it should wear off within a day, so they just leave him.
The ISA representative assigned to Roon is a Mirialan named Wallten Malani, and with Vella there to make the introductions, he is quickly convinced of the urgency of the situation. The party learns that the ISA rep on Gamorr was recently expelled for “cultural insensitivity”, and that his replacement has not yet arrived, leaving no ISA presence on that world. He agrees to travel to Gamorr in order to provide some weight to the party’s warning, and offer what help he can in defending against the Imperial attack. Several Taung warriors are recruited to add manpower to the defense, and the party stops off at the main spaceport on Roon to pick up three of Wallten’s assistants/bodyguards as well.
The group manages to convince the Matriarch of the Bolgoink clan that their warning is valid, with the two Imperial agents assigned to her being forcibly removed- one is mauled by a guard beast and tossed onto the garbage heap, the other manages to escape. An attempt is made to ready the Matriarch’s compound, and the clan as a whole, for the upcoming attack, but despite their focus on martial prowess, the Gamorreans do not look like a match for the Droideka Mark 13s that they will be facing- two hours is just not enough time to prepare such a defense.
With Gar’rick still staring at things that aren’t there, Nadya slices her way into the control net for the Imperial droids and manages to modify key aspects of their orders. She changes the “kill” order on all Bolgoink Gamorreans into a “capture with minimal damage” order, and diverts the ships meant to land on several compounds to nearby compounds belonging to the Grugrun clan, who were co-conspirators of the Empire in this venture. The Taung are displeased that they have been cheated of their chance to fight the Droidekas, but Wallten and the Gamorreans are pleased. Now the Bolgoink will have time to get key members away from the compounds being attacked, destroying the Empire’s chance to make a clean sweep of the clan.
As secrecy was key to the Empire’s plan, the heroes are now set to the task of breaking the Imperial interdiction of the planet and getting messages out to nearby allied and ISA planets about the attack. The Velias Dart is not sturdy enough to fight her way out through the massive fleet surrounding Gamorr, so the heroes fight their way into the control tower in the port and falsify a takeoff authorization. They successfully make it into open space and deliver the messages in time. The Imperial fleet breaks off rather than allow itself to be identified, and the Grugrun take a massive hit to their position in Gamorrean politics.
Gar’rick did not recover from the purple berries as expected, and Dr. Su determines his body is not filtering out the relevant chemicals properly. The party drops him off on Kamino for detox, and returns Tal Kot and his contingent to their home on Roon.
There is a bounty offered for anyone finding a safe route to Roon that does not require ships to pass in or too near Imperial space, and Vella intends to win that bounty by using her sensors to track the way markers for a back route that was lost many centuries ago. As she is feeling her way through the debris that surrounds Roon, she discovers a massive object traveling at a very high portion of the speed of light, and decides to investigate. She matches velocities and examines it while waiting for the rest of the party to awaken.
The ship turns out to be an ancient ship, the Leviathan, with one surviving crew member, who calls himself Chapman. He operates his ship through a direct mental connection, and by touching the Velias Dart, he and Vella are able to communicate somewhat. He explains that the ship has been traveling for three billion years, seeding the universe with the key components needed to develop life, and that he is now returning to see what has become of his home world. When the ship set out, his home world, Gama, was the only world known to have life, and he is shocked by the multiplicity of intelligent species represented by the crew.
Chapman is invited to travel on the Velias Dart, and agrees. He copies the Leviathan’s databanks onto a high-capacity Data Matrix, provided by Vella, then sets the ship to travel to a location where it is unlikely to be discovered and wait. The data matrix is then left in a similarly obscure location in space, where it is accessible but unlikely to be found by accident.
As Chapman does not speak any modern language, but is able to connect to computers on an incredibly basic level, Vella decides to look for a droid to help him acclimate to the modern day. She sets a course for the pastoral world of Kalarba, which is a regional center for trade and the home of a droid seller of her acquaintance, in order to further this goal. Meanwhile, it occurs to the scientifically-minded members of the crew that they have spent several hours traveling at some unspecified-but-large portion of the speed of light, and that time dilation has likely occurred. Dr. Su and Ace ask Kir about this, and he informs them, with slight embarrassment, that they have “lost” approximately a year and a half since the previous morning.
Thankfully, no one had any truly pressing plans, but there is the question of what Gar’rick has been doing in the meantime. Vella was the only pilot who knew the coordinates for his Black Rock, and Gar’rick was last seen at a Kaminoan hospital, having purple berry juice filtered from his body! On the bright side, he’s probably stopped seeing things by now…