Star Wars; Into The Black

The Story So Far
Up To Now...

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…

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Integration
Chapman is integrated into the party... and modern reality.

The party discovers that their stint in near-c travel has cost them approximately a year and a half of sync with the rest of the universe.

Nadya strikes out attempting to seduce Chapman, and starts to have confidence problems as a result of repeated failure of her Zeltron mojo.

Chapman asks Vella for a “security blanket” to help him sleep; he is accustomed to staying in contact with the ship, and the lack of external stimuli is disturbing to contemplate. While he is somewhat hopeful that she will offer to let him stay in contact with her by touching the Velias Dart, she offers a helmet with a sensor array, which satisfies the need. She is good enough at allowing phasing that she allows the helmet to pass through the “pillow” in his bunk, allowing him to sleep comfortably while wearing it.

Everyone decides to rest while Vella heads for Kalarba, the nearest major port where she has contacts that could help her acquire a Droid Brain suitable for helping Chapman learn modern culture.

Upon arrival at Kalarba (3 hours later), Vella settles in a stable orbit and takes a nap. Approximately four hours after that, Derek awakens, and starts reading in the common room. Dr. Su wakes up an hour after that, gives Derek the SomnAbsorb, and asks Vella when they are likely to land. Vella replies that landing can take place when convenient, that she is waiting for people to wake up. Dr. Su decides to wait as well. The rest of the crew awakens shortly thereafter, and Vella announces landing. Dr. Su asks if she can bring anything back for Vella, but Vella demurs.

Vella announces that her business will take about four hours, and that unless someone else wishes to stay longer, she expects to leave shortly thereafter. Everyone is agreeable to this.

Upon landing, Dr. Su, accompanied by Derrick, heads for a local museum to sell the merchandise she acquired on Gamorr. Nadya heads to the shopping district in search of armor upgrades, and Ace looks for the local spacer’s book trade spot. Shai and Kir head off on their own errands. Vella asks Chapman to disembark, and parks her cargo in a storage berth.

Dr. Su reaches a museum and offers her item for sale. The Antiquities Curator indicates that she is agreeable to the sale, but that for purchases this costly, she must get the approval of the Director of the museum. She takes some scans and asks Dr. Su to return about two hours after local noon.

Ace successfully trades in his read books and magazines.

Nadya is flummoxed by the presence of a Zeltron male as the salesperson for the line of armor she was looking to buy, thus negating her chances to get a pheremonal discount. Instead, she goes to the local techie equipment big box store, and purchases the parts needed to create her own mods.

Vella takes Chapman to a Droid seller. He is somewhat shocked at his first encounter with droids, but adapts fairly quickly. At her prompting, he selects a DataDroid, and she purchases it for him. She then takes him to a clothing store and purchases him some changes of clothes, and a harness so that he can carry his new droid, as its mobility is not intended for much travel.

The group mostly (Shai is still absent) re-coalesces at the Cock & Bull Tavern, where Dr. Su springs for a meal for everyone. Nadya calls Shai, curious about her whereabouts, and learns that there is a Sekotar Vong enclave in the port, and Shai is visiting it.

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The Perils of Exploration
Some paths are best left unknown...

Retro: Derrick had purchased some battery packs during the wait before the meal. After the meal, Dr. Su finalizes her business at the museum without incident. Derrick accompanies her to the museum, then to the bank, then to the berth the Velias Dart is marked.

Nadya heads out to meet up with Shai. She goes to the Sekotar Vong enclave attached to the port, but has difficulty remembering the symbols used to mark buildings, so she calls Shai to confirm. She enters and finds Shai speaking to Shaper Kaza Ying. Kaza Ying gives her a section of Shai’s overgrown critters to use as her first shaping project, and shaping tools to use when she reaches the appropriate level of complexity. Shai and Nadya then take their leave. Shai keeps four starter blobs.

Ace goes bargain hunting, with some success. He buys two necklaces with real precious metals and stones from Odds and Ends. He finds a former floor model datapad which has PermaMark grafitti all over the case, and has therefore been marked down even from Floor Model price. Original price 800 creds, halved twice for being a floor model and grafitti-covered.

Vella lingers over the meal, then goes info hunting.

Ace returns to the berth and finds Shai and Nadya playing with the blobs. Ace mentions the datapad, and Nadya offers to check it out for him. She trades him her blob for his datapad, and the blob tries to escape. He feeds it some ration chunks, and it decides he is its best friend. Nadya rather nervously asks him not to feed it too much. Nadya decides to modify a chunk of her blob to exude GooGone to clean up the datapad.

Upon re-boarding, Ace settles into a seat to explore the Datapad, Nadya decides to use the treadmill, and discovers that the blob can sit near her feet without moving, despite the treadmill effect. Dr. Su recovers the SomnAbsorb and begins working on waking learning. Chapman tries to communicate to his Droid that he wants a drinking container. It seems to want to help but lack capability; Vella notices his frustrated expression and tries to let him know that the droid needs more programming before it can help. He nods and goes to find his own glass, in a green-marked crate containing dishes and eating implements. Vella then starts feeding droids the chips, and hands it off to Chapman to finish after loading the second chip.

Nadya asks about the current plan, and Vella replies that the Roon Route Bounty has not yet been claimed. Vella seems unfazed by this, but Nadya decides to check it out. She discovers that three other crews have declared intent to claim the bounty. Two have disappeared, and one solo pilot was found dead on Roon several days after his declaration. It is unknown how many have attempted the bounty without stating intent.

Chapman goes over to the annoyed Vella (she is impatiently waiting for Kir to return) and offers her the flowers he snatched during the last portion of their trip. She had not noticed him grabbing them, and has mixed feelings about the offering- it is sweet, and warms her heart, but… yeah. She thanks him, and goes back to what she was doing, a bit distracted and wishing Kir would return so she could retreat to her pilot’s area.

Nadya attempts to go over to Chapman, but he notices and avoids her like the plague, and then Kir finally returns, with a new messenger bag full of data on chips and durasheet. Vella closes the ramp so fast that he stumbles, and immediately heads to her Pilot’s area. Kir looks around, a bit dazed, and asks where the flowers came from, getting a reply of “Don’t Ask” from Ace and Derrick.

Kir dumps about twenty chips into Chapman’s DataDroid via a connection to his datapad, then settles in the corner to work on the mass of data represented by the chips and other media in his new messenger bag.

Chapman begins attempting to interact with his DataDroid, which is now attempting to elicit input from him. Nadya and Ace get involved in translating when the droid requests specific input. After approximately two hours, the droid has a basic translation structure in place, with a somewhat sketchy vocabulary (it only knows one sense of each word, and is heavy on nouns and words used with basic nouns.

The DD then starts working on teaching Chapman some basic Intro vocabulary.

Nadya asks Vella to come out and announces her findings that of the other declared Bounty Chasers, two have disappeared, and one was found dead on Roon. The two that disappeared were last seen on Lahsbane and Molavar, the one that was found dead was last seen departing from Kowak. The two who disappeared had two different kinds of conventional ship, the one who was found dead was a Liirosi. Vella is not impressed, as she hears “people are disappearing on a dangerous exploration run”, and tells Nadya to let her know if she has anything specific to offer.

Chapman is determined to be helpful, and goes around to various people asking how he can help. He ends up working his way through upgrading sensors- first the sensor helmet, then Derrick’s helmet, then finally an ISA First-Contact probe, which he boosts from intra-system distances to inter-stellar distances.

Ace looks up the legends surrounding the old trade route, and learns that the historians’ consensus is that Roon simply decided not to trade with outsiders, and the trade route died off due to non-use. Nadya is trying to figure out which planet is likely to be the correct connection point, but the data is not conclusive.

Chapman drags the probe into the main room, and continues to scan until they reach the edge of the debris field. Vella routes around the field towards Hypori, and offers to stop if anyone wishes to. Remembering their previous visit, the party declines. She then routes in, stops on Roon for food and air, then heads out to resume the search for the key first waypoint. As she gridded off the portion of the inner wall of debris that she felt was most likely to hold the waypoint, she encountered a large ship (appearance: http://starwars.wikia.com/wiki/Outrider scaled up so that it is large enough to engulf the Velias Dart) that is originally stationary. When Vella adjusts her vector to avoid, the other ship adjusts to stay on an intercept vector, and after several minutes, corners her into allowing it close enough to get a tractor fix on the Velias Dart.

Everyone suits up, Chapman is given Dr. Su’s stun baton for self-defense, and a plan is developed to have Vella shift the Velias Dart into her best defensive configuration, a land craft that provides firing ports and visibility as well as cover.

150 XP awarded

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The Perils of giving flowers.
It is at the edge of a petal that love waits.

So yeah I decided I would give flowers to Vella. I told myself, over and over, it was to say thank you for all that she has and still was doing for my but… yes there was a bit more behind it then that. After I picked them up I thought she would see them but somehow I was able to keep them hidden, thank the link.<p.>When I got them back to the ship I asked the new computer/Robot for help but at the point it did not understand me at all. I went looking for something to put the flowers in so I could give to Vella. After a bit of time working with my robot and seeing Vella’s mood getting worse I wanted to see her smile so I thought that time was now. But of course everyone on the ship was looking at me when I gave then to Vella.<p.>Now in all my time alone on the Leviathan I read a lot of my people’s book and thought that I might have a clue what might happen but of course I didn’t. Yes she took them but the look on her face left me wondering what she was thinking. Did I do something bad? I guess it was somewhat okay because she put them in a… thing on the ship?<p.>Why do I let myself do anything? I don’t know anything about her or what people do. The next planet I go it I’m staying put. I will never try and get her flowers again… well let’s not say never.<p.>Chapman.

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The right tool for the job.
Wait, am I the tool?

Finally I am some use, well at least to some. With my use of the link and the probe I can help with the looking for this route they are looking for. It’s great to be some use. Ace is now calling my name over and over for information. I am even becoming more comfortable with Nadya, we are now working together instead of… well…<p.>I can help the others in the back of the ship but still don’t know how I can help the one on the cockpit.<p.>Chapman

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Descent of man
The idea is to die young as late as possible.

What do they expect from me from the upcoming fight? I have never held a weapon before in my life. I see all of them preparing for the battle. Derek looks like he is about to be in his element while Nadya and Ace look ready for whatever. I on the other hand have no clue what is about to happen. I have this electric club thing and my spacesuit. Crap I’m going to die. Well at lest I have something to fight for.<p.>Chapman

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Now Where did She Run Off To?

{Nadya} It took me a bit to find her, but Shai was in the Sekar Vong district when I finally ran into her. It is really a huge difference in the types of districts and how the change is immediately apparent. I wish people would get over the hardships of what happened some 400 years ago. It appears that Shai came in to report on her experiences and reduce the amount of blobs she had created. Now that I have rendezvoused with her I can only appreciate what she has done for me in our times together and it seems that others are quite aware of the fact as well. This shaper Kasahim; I believe he is a second level shaper, immediately recognized me and with a bit of coaching from Shai I have now began a trek in the field of shaping. I was even offered a piece of Shai’s massive blob to start. I hope that I can live up to her expectations.

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The Shortest Path from Point A to Point B is...

{Nadya} So we have decided to try and find the secret route to Roon, the problem is what is causing all of the other ships to disappear? I have been searching old data files and have come across some information about three ships who were trying to find the route as well. It appears that two of the ships disappeared completely and the third, well at least one of its crew was found dead on Roon later. I decided to try and coordinate the paths each ship was taken, but unfortunately, I cant find any of the information. Plus, I think the others are not to appreciative of the things I have been trying to find out for them. They are a bit preoccupied with trying to teach our new crew member our language using a droid we just picked up. I guess I will go and try and help, no use sitting around moping all the time.

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Anger is a wind which blows out the lamp of the mind.
In violence we forget who we are.

So maybe I’m not a tool, at least not the right one. What I think was needed was the knife of a surgeon instead they got a massive Sledgehammer. So okay at first I tried to be that exact delicate blade to slice into the ships system. I started by getting the computer to like me and to increase my access level until I got to captain level. It was at that time I first got to know of my adversary, the real captain. And still at this point I was still a blade but becoming a sword. It was a duel with me on one side and the captain and the computer on the other, and they were ready for me. Well, they were ready for someone to attack the systems but they were far from ready for me. I think when the captain saw what he was faced with he was at a loss of what to do.

I am sure that for most other ships they do this to, the force they had in the hangar was more than enough, and I could tell they had more to put into the fight given time to do so. I have no doubt that if the captain had sent more into the fight we might have lost some of our numbers, but he didn’t. I am not sure why 100%, but I bet the role I played has something to do with it. He was ready for all the firefight we could hurl his way, but not an attack from within.

I am sure that if Vella was able to withstand the assault I would have kept my edge and dueled with him for a long time. But then I saw Vella fall and my heart fell with her. My keen edge was reshaped into a blunt object of mass destruction. I wanted to destroy everything with this ship and all of the crew onboard. I didn’t want to just get away I wanted them to never ever hurt Vella AGAIN!!! I am not ashamed of what I became in some part because I was going to destroy, no, that is not a strong enough word, obliterate, annihilate or devastate would be better. I wanted to wipe out I wanted extinguish them, I wanted to… Oh the Link what have I done…


Chapman

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Somehow our devils are never quite what we expect when we meet them face to face.
Judge of a man by his questions rather than by his answers.

Now that I look back on everything I did, I remember there were two cells in their brig that were locked. Were there people in them? Why else would they be locked? They never unlocked them before the ship exploded. Did I just kill two people that had nothing to do with the fight? They could have been anyone, from crew that had done something wrong to someone captured like they tried to do with us… there could have been kids in there. What have I done?

Chapman

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