The Shards of Alderaan

Express Ticket to Anywhere But Here

“I swear, officer, this spice isn't mine.”

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There’s an old Klatooinian expression: Trouble comes when you’re finished with it. You probably considered this to be cryptic before today.

The three hour journey from the stranded Nimmuz to the Coptos asteroid field was spent in a flurry of activity. With barely enough time to gather your wits and rest, a number of things become clear: your ship was en route to its point of origin. Given the disposition of its former owners, this homecoming was unlikely to be met with open arms.

Tatoma ’s discovery of the droid L1U-810 came as a shock. The following promotional material, faded over the years, was still affixed to the side of the crate:
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Nexus 6 Assassin Droid

Greetings, and thank you for purchasing a Czerka Corporation Class 4 Nexus 6 Assassin Droid. We here at Czerka Corporation are dedicated to producing the highest quality personal android solutions. We hope your droid provides many years of satisfaction in whatever presumably legal and ethical scenarios you deem fit to employ your droid in. Standard features include 19 lattice-threaded Jiruvian-core processors, Aeris9-scaled memory capacity, a full suite of combat skills, and our award-winning Czerka paramilitary security countermeasures. We hope you enjoy your new combat companion as much as we enjoyed making it!

Upon questioning, Tatoma discovered L1U (or, Lou) to be a relatively affable, if somewhat cautious droid, distinctly non-hostile under the circumstances. Lou revealed himself to have been the property of the Sinekesh but, given their obvious non-presence on the Razor, he was no longer under their immediate control. He also revealed having been in their possession for 5 years, and had performed “duties” for them, which, while he did not elaborate on, seem fairly obvious in implication.

Viktor, who had initiated the “escape key” sequence on the astrogation computer, remained at the helm of the Hryntir’s Razor, gathering intel on their destination. With assistance from star charts in the navicomputer, logbooks and charts found by Aleph, and suggestions from Lou, the group determined some details about the Coptos system: home to several magnetometric anomalies, it would be very difficult to navigate. Lou also indicated the presence of a small Sinekesh spaceport – The Dock – which he knew to be inhabited by a crew of pirates.

Meanwhile, Aleph questioned Tarlo Kemen on the reasons for his abduction, and perused entries in captain Gi’Hal Jereya’s logbooks. Past entries were mostly ledgers – moneys borrowed and loaned, and a few scattered entries of vessels seized, enemies defeated. From what he was able to gather, the Gi’Hal Sisters were members of the Gi’Hal Clan, one of several clans who make up the Sinekesh pirate syndicate. Jereya’s notes contained several notes pertaining to her sister Loptik, who seems to have been some kind of expert shipjacker of sorts. Moving past general information, one set of entries caught Aleph’s eye: specifically, pertaining to the attack on the Nimmuz. There was a discussion of an individual, named as The Little One, who contracted the Sinekesh to perform the attack. The Sinekesh set the Gi’Hal Clan to the task, with the aid of what are mentioned as “collaborators” on board the Nimmuz: the chief of security, and a few of the officers, whose names are all given. Their instructions were to assault the Nimmuz under the guise of slavers, but this was simply a ruse to abduct Tarlo Kemen. He was to be taken alive, and returned to Coptos.

Ioyel, who had plentiful experience on pirate ships, searched the nooks and crannies of the vessel as best she could in the short time available. In addition to discovering the crates of spice and the explosives, she also found small smuggling compartments in which materials could be stored. These would come in handy later.

With the Razor closing fast on Coptos, Tatoma set to work at doing triage repairs on poor K3-PR. Restoring basic power to the ruined droid, Tatoma was able to save his memory cores from critical decay. Some basic conversation during the repairs revealed that the droid was constructed 47 standard years ago, in the first wave of new probe droids being used by the Republic in what was to become the Clone Wars. Assigned to the Republic Navy Expeditionary Forces, Keeper served with the 76th REF and then the Inner Core Patrols, until the Clone Wars broke out. He served with distinction at the Second Battle of Christophsis and the Battle of Umbara, and for the former, received a battlefield commendation for his identification of a secret Separatist supply depot. In the years following the closing of the wars, his model probe droid was slated for decommission, and he was assigned for memory wipe. He and six other droids in his unit fled, unwilling to experience this “soft death”. Two died during the escape; the others scattered, and he does not know where they are. In the remaining years, Keeper struggled to survive, hiding out on backwater worlds, and stealing supplies to keep himself in repair. Eventually, his luck ran out, and he was abducted by junkers, who sold him to the Sinekesh, who often used him to hunt down slaves for procurement and sale. As far as his role on the Nimmuz mission, his memories were scattered and disturbed, though he recalled specifically that he was assigned the task of finding the young Tarlo Kemen amidst the refugee passengers. Keeper was not able to communicate much else to the gearhead, other than they were headed into great danger, and to expect threats on their arrival. The Sinekesh would not take kindly to this intrusion and theft, and Keeper nearly overloaded in a panic at the thought of being returned to this group.
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The datapad dropped by the Mirialan on the Nimmuz proved a useful but limited discovery. After cracking into it, Viktor and Tatoma tripped a security measure, and only had time to read through a few key files before the decay mechanism rendered the pad inert. Full of coded messages, most of the pad’s content was almost impossible to decipher without the cipher key. One thing is for certain: this was owned by a Shard agent. Handing the pad to Lou, who was able to read and process more quickly than the meatbags around him, they were able to obtain the following information before the pad’s self-destruction:
Star charts of the Naronis pocket, containing locations of safe spots, and images and names in a file named “For Your Consideration”:

  • Minister of Tourism, Agamar
  • Director of Security, Enital Industries (a major contractor of infrastructure to the Empire throughout the Outer Rim)
  • Narfansi Ock, famous actor in Imperial Holodramas
  • Vice-President of Colonial Administrative Services, Agamar
  • Lord Pilmen Rao, of Axxila
  • Tarlo Kemen III, son of Tarlo Kemen II, Associate Deputy Minister of Trade for Axxila.

Ioyel attempted to crack a safe that was found in Jereya’s quarters, but was unable to pass further than the computerized safety mechanism guarding the contents. It remains locked, fused and useless, in those quarters.

Finally, the Razor arrived in the Coptos system. As expected, the magnetometric interference played havoc with the ship’s inertial stability, reducing its overall speed. Scans of the system revealed a small station, armed with heavy cannons, and patrolled by seven Scyk interceptors – identical to those seen during the attack on the Nimmuz.
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Moving at slow speed so as not to draw attention, the Razor was eventually spotted by the station. Forced to receive communications, the group came face to face with the grainy image of Argl Xi, Quarren pirate and Station Master of the Dock. Demanding the pilots identify themselves, Xi was temporarily thrown off by Ioyel and Aleph, but nevertheless sent two interceptors to meet the ship.

Meanwhile, Viktor began frantically plotting route calculations. After making an educated guess, he determined they only had enough fuel to reach Axxila, the nearest Imperial world and the eventual destination of the Nimmuz. The problem was this: Coptos was not connected by any obvious hyperspace lanes. It would take several minutes to calculate the correct route. And the Scyk interceptors were closing fast.

By the time Viktor had made one successful plot, two interceptors had met with the Razor, and two more were en route. Argl Xi demanded the ship power down its weapons, lower its shields, and prepare to be escorted back to the Dock. The group complied, as Viktor continued his calculations. Suddenly, exiting from hyperspace were the two interceptors that had accompanied the Nimmuz. Urgent messages flashed from the small ships to the Dock, which then cut communications with the Razor. The escorting ships opened fire with warning shots.

Lou was the most qualified individual to man the gun turret. The fast, manoeuverable interceptors buzzed around the Razor, scoring shots on its hull and penetrating its shields. Tatoma rushed to engineering to assist with shield maintenance and repair, while Ioyel co-piloted the ship and Aleph attempted to scramble the fighters’ systems using the Razor’s ECM system.
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The Scyks were closing fast. Lou’s untrained but agile hand at the cannons poured fire into one of the escorting ships, punching holes in its fuselage and sending it careening into an asteroid, where it promptly vanished in an explosion of rock and metal.

Finally, success: Viktor finished his calculations, and the ship jumped into hyperspace, leaving behind the approaching Scyks and the threat of the Dock.

And yet: there was no time to rest. With Axxila a short jump away, they would soon be arriving in a highly populated system patrolled by Imperial vessels and a wary planetary defense force. And the Razor was packed full of spice and explosives.
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Ioyel’s earlier uncovering of the smuggling compartment allowed her to tuck away one of the crates of Lesai. The group reasoned that there was no way to hide from the Imperials, and as they were bringing back a valued member of their aristocracy, they would simply tell the truth – about the spice, and how they came to be in possession of the Razor, and how they came to rescue Tatoma. The ship was broadcasting a pirate transponder, and there was no way to deactivate it without gutting the ship.
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Predictably, they were assigned to an inspection port for boarding. An Imperial boarding party came across, and was met by Aelph, who attempted to mollify their intentions by presenting a reasonable Imperial demeanor. However, these were simply bored soldiers on patrol. Led by a Lieutenant and a Customs Inspector, they quickly found the illegal material, catalogued it, and removed it from the ship. All the spice, and the explosives – save what Ioyel had smuggled – was confiscated. The group’s weapons were left to their care.

Tarlo, clearly known to the group as a Force-user, made a kind of gesture at the Lieutenant, and instructed the officer to take him to his father. Glassy-eyed, the Imperial soldier agreed, repeating the boy’s words. Before leaving the Razor, Tatoma thanked Aleph.
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As the boarding party departed, the planetary defence network instructed Viktor to land the ship in a berth on Axxila, Geruvian Province, Sector 938. They were then to proceed to the Kemen Estates, seat of Tarlo Kemen II, Associate Deputy Trade Minister for Axxila, and Imperial Knight of the Order of the Gilded Tongue.

To anyone who has not seen a city-planet before, Axxila can be difficult to describe. From high above, it looks like a brightly lit circuitboard, even when the sun is shining on its face. Deeply polluted oceans cover only a small fraction of its surface. The rest is city – all city. Any direction one looks in, one finds metal hives, exhaust stacks, and shifting belts of millions of speeder cars. As Axxila rests in the Outer Rim, it retains much less wealth than Coruscant – but it nevertheless benefits greatly from the trade along the Hydian Way generally, and the Axxila-Tangrene route specifically.
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Much of that wealth resides in Sector 938, the location of the party’s landing berth. Attentive repair crews immediately set to work on the ship, obviously at the behest of someone with good credit. As the ship had seen battle, taken damage, and generally seen better days, the group was required to leave the ship for its cleaning and maintenance. Taking their weapons, they proceeded to the Kemen Estate.

This sector of the city was wealthy beyond the experience of most citizens of the galaxy. Little pollution marred the air at these heights, and opulent mansion-towers provided privacy that few denizens of the Undercity could have imagined.

The Kemen Estate itself likely had more greenery than an entire province’s worth of public parks. Delicate fountains and creeping vines marked it as the residence of a family who could afford to waste both water and space. Discreetly-armored (but nevertheless lethal-looking) guards patrolled its grounds.

The crew was escorted to an antechamber, where a majordomo requested they wait. After a time, they were brought before Tarlo II. An imposing, forbidding-looking man in his early 60s, Tarlo II had an indestructible air of self-importance about him. Despite this, he seemed grateful for the service that had been done for him and his family, and informed the crew that they would be rewarded: the fees for repair and maintenance for their craft would be covered, and they would be compensated for the service to the amount of 4200 credits. Attempts were made to extract more from him, but he remained unconvinced. However, he did suggest that the ship’s transponder would need to be changed, as it was currently broadcasting a pirate transponder signal that was highly illegal to modify. Unable to have this changed himself, Tarlo II recommended the crew visit a location in Sector 938’s Undercity: Mama Swelter’s. Before leaving, Viktor made a request: if the estate could take in the wretch Blythos Croban, it might afford him a better life than he was headed towards. Tarlo III agreed, and Blythos thanked his former colleague profusely.

With that, the audience was over. As they were being escorted from the estate, Tarlo III came to fetch them, dressed now in the finery he was accustomed to. He seemed much more at ease, though regretful at the parting of company. Before the crew left for the Undercity, he took Aleph aside, and spoke words to him that the rest of the crew could overhear: “I know what you are. You are headed into great danger.”

Riding the vertical tram to the Undercity, the group saw a broadcast on the Holonet News that shocked them. The news broadcasters were an attractive human female, and an older, stately man. Dramatic opening music interrupted the previous programming, and the urgent broacast began thusly:
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BREAKING NEWS! A refugee transport on a mission of mercy, bringing benighted Imperial souls to Axxila from the conflict on Agamar, is attacked by the Shard! Reports are coming in now: suffering a hyperdrive failure, the transport Nimmuz is stranded leaving the Agamar system en route to Axxila, and signals for help. As the brave Imperial Navy races to the rescue, merciless terrorists from the Shard attack the helpless vessel, intent on slaughtering Imperial citizens. [RECORDING of the “Sketchy guy” from the crew’s cargo pod, lining up several people in the Nimmuz stateroom, and shooting them in the head. A close-up of a wealthy-looking Imperial woman screaming in terror before he shoots her. As he shoots her, he screams, FOR ALDERAAN!] This terrorist has been positively identified as a Shard agent, and is being transported to Axxila to face punishment for his crimes. While the Shard terrorists managed to escape, the valiant crew of the Nimmuz fought them off bravely, killing several in a desperate attempt to protect their passengers. [RECORDINGS of dead pirates, including Gi’Hal Loptik; BRIEF INTERVIEW with one of the crew members: “They were brutal. They said they were coming for slaves. We managed to kill this one and many others, but they were too many. They must have heard the Navy was coming, because they fled with their tails between their legs. Damn the Shard!”] We mourn the deaths of these desperate souls, fleeing the Shard-sponsored betrayals on Agamar. please join us in a moment of silence as we remember them. [IMAGES Of the names/pictures from the Datapad.]
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Arriving at Mama Swelter’s, the difference in atmosphere could not be more stark. Axxila’s Undercity changed depending on where you were. Sector 938 likely had one of the cleaner, safer Undercities on the planet. Yet even here, signs of neglect and poverty were everywhere. Trash lined the streets, and the homeless and destitute shifted in the shadows in every alley and corner.

Mama Swelter’s club was part holo-dance club, part watering hole, part gambling den. While it was difficult to tell what time of day it was, clearly this was not the peak hour, as it was only a third full. Still, the noise was full-bore, and what space was occupied was busy.
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Ioyel caught the attention of a rough-and-tumble human bartender, Miagro, who shared that he could connect them with the club’s muscle and security – a Trandoshan named Ssassk. After some sizing up and cajoling, true to his word, Ssassk brought the crew before Mama Swelter herself, who was seated behind an enormous true-wood desk in the club’s back rooms. Miagro joined them; in the room were a Rodian wearing fashionable clothes and sporting a nasty looking vibroknife, and a Duros, seated at a computer terminal, wearing a holo-headset.

The huge female Besalisk gave every appearance of geniality, though this was obviously a front. Her four arms were well-muscled, despite her seeming fat, and she moved carefully. She seemed overly fond of the word “friend” in reference to the crew, though something in her tone suggested she meant degrees of its opposite. Immediately upon seeing the group, she focused on Tatoma, identifying him as a former associate of someone named “Tiny”. This seemed to intrigue her greatly.

But to the business at hand. She had been contacted by an associate of Tarlo III, and was willing to have her Duros associate, Vilian Dia, slice the transponder codes and assign a unique frequency. This would not be cheap. She would do it for 6000 credits, and a favor – or something of equivalent value. The crew countered, suggesting she take the crate of Lesai from their hold, and letting that be the end of the trade. This pleased the Besalisk, who clearly did not expect the group could afford such payment. She agreed, and instructed Dia to change the codes.

But all was not finished, according to Mama Swelter. She returned her attention to Tatoma. She was a friend of Tiny, you see. And Tiny remembered Tatoma, thought well of him, and remembered all the good times they had together. All the favors they did for each other.

All those favors. And those debts. Some of which were still unpaid.

Summary of Results — Session 2

Experience: 3 hours of play (cumulative, not including time spent discussing rules, character building, out-of-game content) x 5 xp per hour of play = 15 xp per character

Obligation

Viktor: Reduce Obsession by 2 for providing a home for Blythos.

Gear

  • 4200 credits

Tasks

  • Your ship has received a new transponder, and must be assigned a new name. Come up with a name before the next session!

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