Shadows In The Black

The Story So Far...
The gang is all here

The bar is called Kaliban's. It is nestled in the heart of the spaceport district of Rumin, the main (and only), city on the backwater planet of Karsten's World somewhere on the eastern edge of the Gordian Reach.

The bar is poorly lit, but relatively clean by spacer standards. Populated by the usual cross-section of pilots, smugglers, off-duty dockworkers and hangers-on all passing the time and waiting.

You find yourself a table and join the wait…

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Go Directly to Jail.
Starting with a Bang!

The group of people that gathered in Kaliban’s that day were as disparate as could be. They all had their own reasons for being there: Some were searching for kindred spirits to share their vision of the future; others had more base interests in spirits and were just hoping to drown out the past. Two were working, or looking for, work. One was just desperate for a hot meal and finally one was there for enigmatic reasons and had a cunning plan (and explosives)

Before anyone really had a chance to settle in (and while the Duros executed his cunning plan), a squadron of planetary defense forces entered the cantina and began to question the patrons. They were “Looking for someone”. They checked ids and didn’t take too kindly to resistance.

While most people ducked out the back or didn’t resist, the duros, Loor, stepped outside and noticed another squadron of troops in the street. Taking objection to his “babies” being taken, Loor threatened the troops with a live grenade. They failed to be coerced and the grenade was dropped. Loor ducked back inside and the blast from the grenade sealed the front door.

Eventually the party and the remainder of the patrons were subdued (either willingly or otherwise) and transported to a nearby ship that took them off-world. One of the other prisoners told them they were going to “The end of the line” – formally known as Terminus Prison. A failed mining station on the planet’s moon.

Once they landed, the party were divested of their personals, issued orange prison garb and escorted to the general population where they witnessed the cultural hierarchy found therein.

The prison population was run by a Devaronian named Garssh and his cronies. The group was noticed being new blood in the yard by Garssh and Jal ingratiated himself into the gang leader’s good graces with an offer to make pharmaceuticals for him.

The others, especially, Jarek, kept their eye on Garssh and noticed that he had competition in the form of a rival gangleader named A’sha, a Twi’lek in charge of a much smaller group of prisoners.

The days blurred as our party languished in the jail. Moving daily between their cell and the common area, but never beyond. They made few attempts at socializing as their cellmates were a taciturn bunch that advised them not to cross A’sha.

Finally a change in routine came and Jarek’s cell opened. He went exploring while his cellmate, Zazi, attempted to unlock the other cells with little success. Jarek met with a guard in the now deserted common area and was advised that his aunt expected results. The guard rearmed him and told him that his friends belongings would be returned and to watch for the signal. Jarek returned to his cell and asked the others for help in killing Garssh. No one disagreed.

During their next stint in the common area, a Rodian that shared their cell made a beeline towards Garssh. They managed to convince him to not rat them out. While they were, negotiating with Grib, an alarm sounded and a fight broke out. This was the signal. During the chaos, A’sha ran up and shanked the Rodian, Grib, and ran off into the mine without saying a word.

The party ran for where their gear was to be stashed and Jarek made a for Garssh, who was legging it for an exit. Garssh went down with only a little effort and the group made individual plans to escape. Del’nor went searching for a computer. Loor was looking for his “children”. The rest followed Jarek deeper into the prison and eventually into the mining complex proper.

Del’nor found a map, and Loor didn’t find his grenades. The guards were close on the heels of the rest of the party and eventually they all managed to meet up and head to what Del’nor promised was a way out of here.

They subdued the guards in the armoury, replenished what gear they could (and Loor found his “ladies”), and headed to the hangar.

In the hangar they came across a number of ships in various conditions of disrepair. It looked like the guards had started stripping down some of the ships to sell off parts.

With the guards close on their heels, they made their choice and headed for a YT-2000 only to discover that it wasn’t atmospherically sealed. They decided to try and take a Ghtroc 720 and a Loronar E-9 at the same time but the guards arrived and they all dove for the Loronar.

As they were racing through a systems check to ensure it would fly. A’sha came racing into the Hangar from a far corridor with the guards hot on her heels. She jumped onto the ship just in time and Jarek took off.

There was a brief discussion about destination and once the coordinates were set, the stars blurred into hyperspace and the party took a breath to assess their situation…

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Pop Quiz Hotshot...
There's a bomb on a train... maybe

The stars shifted into hyperspatial blurs and the recently incarcerated crew set about assessing their situation, their new crewmates and the forthcoming opportunities.

Del’nor, maddenned by an off pitch UHF whine in the drive core that only he could hear, set about making the ship spaceworthy. Jarek, citing some ancient Mandalorian tradition, rechristened the ship The Shrike.
The others searched the ship and discovered that the previous owner was Loor’s recent cellmate, Grib. They discovered that Grib had a family somewhere and surmised that the enterprising Rodian was a smuggler. He had retrofitted the ship with hidden cargo space at the expense of structural hull integrity. Inside the cargo hold the group discovered a cache of restricted blasters which confirmed their suspicions.

Doing some quick calculations, the group were impressed by their new potential windfall however they were divided on how to spend and split the cash. Some wanted to repair the laundry list of damages the ship had sustained. Others wanted to keep a large share for themselves and just set enough aside to keep the ship flying.

The other passenger, A’sha, offered to buy the guns at a criminally low price as a favour for letting her hitch a ride back into the world. While the group debated the merits of the lowball offer, A’sha also gave them the name of a contact named Prospero who might be able to find work for them.

The decision was made to take A’sha up on her offer just after the ship dropped out of hyperspace into the Pygorix system as they ran straight into an Imperial customs blockade. The captain of the lead corvette hailed them, recognising their ship’s transponder. After a fumbled attempt at bluffing their way past, the captain accepted a bribe and let them slip by and they landed on planet at the coordinates A’sha provided.

The group grumbled as they collected their wealth, feeling as though they’d been taken advantage of and parted ways with A’sha. They hit the markets to find some new gear (and upgrades for the ship). After a few hours they realised that they had picked up a group of men tailing them. After ensuring everyone was aware and safe they confronted the tail only to discover that they were invited to meet with a local businessman.

Their pleasant surprise turned to dread once they discovered that the businessman was Dragos Dusan. A man with a distinctively ruthless and dangerous reputation. Someone A’sha had warned them about and as far as they could tell, Grib’s employer.

The meeting with Dusan was tense, with him requesting that the return his property. Initially they believed he wanted their ship but came to realise that it was the guns he wanted. When the group confessed to no longer having them, Dusan simply thanked them for their honesty and advised that they were working for him now to pay off the debt.

He dismissed them into the care of his majordomo who provided them with the details of the heist - steal a sealed container from a moving train and return it to Dusan unopened and not only would the debt be paid but there would be a significant amount of cash waiting for their services and the promise of further work if they were so inclined.

The majordomo’s information led them to a meeting with a contact who had information on the train’s route and schedule. The crew arrived too late to the meeting and they witnessed their contact get shot. Half the group gave chase to the assailant, while Antares lined up a shot and took the killer down at an impressive distance, earning his companions respect.

They retrieved the data and after updating the majordomo of events, secured transportation and started after the train. They ran into some competition which was again easily dispatched by the diminutive Aleena.

While the speeder raced to intercept the train, the doctor, hoping to slow down the train to make it easier for the others to intercept, called in a bomb threat on the train….

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The Train Job
Murder on the Pygorix Express

The airspeeder crested the rise to see the train stopped and what looked like a dustcloud far to the south moving to intercept. Loor landed on the train’s first car and after some technical difficulties they opened the service hatch and descended. Zazi stayed with the airspeeder to watch the progress of the dust cloud and Mec, Antares and Loor proceeded through the train looking for Dusan’s loot.

The first car was full of nondescript crates and storage and the party decided they would return and search through them once they cleared the train. The next car was filled with guards, who were on alert to a bomb threat (and recent explosion) and thry opened fire as soon as the door opened. Mec took a critical hit to his 3rd eyestalk and was dazed throughout the fight but eventually Antares and Loor proceeded to dispatch the guards.

After clearing the car they moved to the last one where they discovered an 8×4×4 black monolithic slab with a display readout. The found a repulsorsled and Loor maneuvered the airspeeder to the rear car to load it up.

Antares, fearing the stunned guards would be able to identify them, put them down without hesitation. Mec, still in pain from his eye, made no move to stop him and moved to help the others load the monolith into their ship. The dust cloud was near enough that they realised that they had company and made a break for it.

The monolith was heavy and it taxed the little airspeeders engines to the limit. Our train robbers contacted the rest if the group in the ship and requested a very prompt pick up.

Jarek and the rest headed to meet up with their friends as fast as the shrike could carry them. Meanwhile, Loor was taking heavy fire and the airspeeder was going down. The ship took one hit too many and went down hard as the shrike blazed in overhead.

Crawling from the wreckage they salvaged what they could and loaded the monolith into their ship. The pursuers kept firing but the Strikes shields held. Unfortunately a stray shot hit near the party and Mec was vaporized instantly. Zazi also disappeared in the chaos and is presumed dead.

Without a chance to mourn their friends, they attempted to break atmo and leg it as fast as they could. However they were tagged by planetary defense and bluffed their way into landing at a small starport nearby.

Desperate to escape from under the hard eye of the customs officials, they made a call to Dusan’s man who agreed to get them through customs for a price. While they distracted customs and the resulting fire brigade, they also reached out to A’sha who provided them with some much needed clean IDs. She also provided a warning that Dusan was going to probably kill then after getting what he wanted.

Taking the warning to heart, the group set a charge on the docking clamp and made an explosive getaway.

A short microjump to the edge if the system gave them the breathing space to investigate the monolith. After some fiddling it opened to reveal a human male in cryo stasis and 12 ampules of an unknown liquid.

The newcomer introduced himself as Nik Devlin, a man on the run from Dusan. Stating ignorance at the ampules, Nik just wanted to get away from Dusan.

Dusan’s majordomo conveniently chose that moment to hail them and demand their cargo. Leaving two ampules in the monolith, they jettisoned it and fled to hyperspace before Dusan’s ship arrived.

While in hyperspace the group took the time to experiment on the liquid and determined it was a drug of some sort. Highly addictive and psychoactive. They made plans to head deeper into the Gordian Reach, remembering A’sha had provided them with a contact who could get them work. Running low on supplies and fearing Dusan was still on their tail they stopped in Feena to resupply…

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Find A Job. Keep Flying
Milk Run!

The crew of the Shrike stopped on Feena briefly to resupply after being on the run from Dusan and his men for 2 weeks. While restocking their supplies, Jarek caught wind of someone following them. Jarek was certain the leader was familiar but couldn’t place from where. He called in the rest of the group who curtailed their shopping sprees…. eventually and joined up.
Using a combination of stealth and intimidation, they avoided a major confrontation and decided to head off world to avoid further confrontation.

They headed for Korphir with the intent to find Prospero and see if he had work for them. Following the directions A’sha had provided, they landed uneventfully and located the nautolan in his offices. Jarek was initially concerned as this “Prospero” was not the same one he’d met on Pygorix. Prospero dismissed his concerns and advised them that while he was obliged to help them due to favours he owed to A’sha, he didn’t trust them to do the jobs he had at the level his reputation required.

Prospero offered them a simple job of returning with a missing courier. A “blue milk run” if you will. He had an courier that was overdue to return with important information on Imperial troop movements. The last contact had been from the agriworld of Atorra. They were offered 10,000 credits with a bonus of 2,000 more if they could get the courier back quickly.

Hoping to make the trip under the deadline, Del’nor and Loor calculated a risky astrogation route that cut the time in half. The trip was extremely rough on both the ship and the crew, but they made it with only minor scrapes and bruises.

Once they landed on Atorra, they immediately noticed a strong Imperial presence. Extremely strong for a backwater agriworld, even taking the recent events on Yavin into account. They hacked into a terminal and confirmed that their quarry had passed through customs several weeks ago, but there was no record of him leaving. Nik reached out to some former contacts in the underworld and came up lucky. He grabbed an address in a suburban apartment complex where the courier was hiding.

The party headed to the address only to be stopped short by an Imperial roadblock. The Stormtroopers had received a similar tip off and were in the process of searching the building. Racing against time, they raced up the stairwell to the twelfth floor and started searching the the apartments ahead of the Imperials. Loor headed up to the thirteenth floor with a plan to hold the elevator and give the others more time to search. After numerous failed attempts and awkward social interactions they eventually located the right apartment and hastily name dropped Prospero’s name in the hopes of convincing the courier’s compatriots that they weren’t working with the Imperials. A purple skinned twi’lek female eventually confided in them that the courier had already escaped into the duct work of the building and told them to piss off.

At that moment the elevator dinged. Time had run out.

Del’nor managed to unlock the door across the hall and they rushed in with seconds to spare. The sole resident, a young male human, was stunned by their presence and the guns in his face. They attempted to coach him into going along with a plausible story about why they were visiting with him but the combination of his drug induced haze and his fear resulted in a fairly monosyllabic vocabulary. Before they could do much else, the Stormtroopers opened the door and demanded to see their documents.

They were questioned as to why they were there, and the crew managed to deflect the stormtrooper’s line of questioning enough with a story that they were here to help their cousin get better. The trooper wasn’t convinced and started questioning the apartment’s owner. The strain of the situation finally permeated his drug addled brain and he cracked like an egg after the simplest of questions. He blurted out that the person the stormtroopers was looking for was across the hall.

The stormtroopers reacted immediately and started clearing the floor, taking everyone downstairs for processing. The troopers were irritated by the bottleneck that the single elevator was causing and overrode the other elevator, unknowningly summoning Loor from the floor above. Jarek took advantage of the momentary distraction and started a firefight by pushing one of the civilians into one of the troopers.

A long, messy firefight broke out with numerous civilian casualties and just as many misses due to the confined space. Eventually they overcame the stormtroopers without alerting the rest outside of the building. While Jal patched himself and Nik up, the rest of the crew managed to find the ductway escape route and made to follow after Rhee and the missing twi’lek.

After landing in a pile of refuse, the party waded through the muck and sewers following an ephemeral trail that Nik had picked up. In time they came back to daylight in an open market and were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the wily twi’lek and her chadra fan companion as they wove through the crowds. They Nik and Jarek stealthily closed on their quarry while the others held back and blended with the crowd. As Nik and Jarek got closer, they saw the courier get ambushed by a squad of stormtroopers. The twi’lek went down along with a couple of the troopers and they witnessed the courier raise his hands in surrender.

Not willing to give up on losing their meal ticket so readily, Nik and Jarek closed with the troopers. Jarek took one down with precision and Nik, in a dazzling feat of agility, leapt at the troopers and stabbed two of them simultaneously in the neck with his vibroblades, dropping them easily. While Jarek lined up another shot, Nik easily finished off the final trooper.

The party quickly checked the bodies but Rhee interrupted and advised that they needed to get out of there now! The crew quickly agreed and made their way to the Shrike without incident.

They broke atmo and started making plans to head for the rendezvous point when Rhee presented them with a dilemma. He was willing to give them all the info in his head and they could head to meet up with Prospero as long as they dropped him off along the way. Or, if they were interested, they could tag along with him and help him raid an ancient temple full of loot worth 5 times what they’d get for the delivery to Prospero. After dickering over the price, they eventually agreed to an amiable split.

As they prepared to enter in the new coordinates into the navicomp, Antares woke up from his hibernation and wondered what he’d missed…

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Easy Money He Said...
Just a quick side trip he said...

After narrowly escaping the Imperial cordon on Atorra, the crew of the Shrike plot the hyperspace jump to Feena so they can deliver the information Rhee K’ahr has to Prospero and get some long overdue cash. Before jumping however, Rhee offers them a proposition. He found an uncharted planet out in the Roil and needs some help getting back to the temple he discovered there.

He promises riches beyond their current hand to mouth situation and after some debate, they take him up on his offer, figuring that they’re ahead of schedule and can still get to Prospero on time and if they’re lucky, get paid twice. Before they head into danger, they bargain with Rhee and come to an agreement of roughly 70/30 split which amounted to 36,000 credits. That combined with the 15K from Prospero and for once, they might be ahead of the game… but first they had to get there.

Rhee eagerly supplied them with coordinates but their navicomp kept rejecting them with warnings of multiple mass shadows along the direct route. Rhee assured them that he documented the right coordinates and offered a couple of solutions. He first suggested that they fly the route manually which Jarekl felt was far beyond his ability as a pilot. The other option was to disable the safety override on the navicomp and trust Rhee’s coordinates were correct.

Del’nor figured he could override the navicomp with ease, but was surprised at the layers of complexity that were on the system. As someone pointed out, the safeties are there to prevent us from running into a planet, not something you’re supposed to have on a toggle switch. Eventually he managed to crack the system, but he had a nagging sensation that something else was off… he just couldn’t put his finger on it.

With the safeties disabled and the coordinates entered, they jumped to hyperspace and spent a very rough ride into the Nebula known as The Roil.

After a day or so, they came out, somewhat worse for wear, in an uncharted system. The star was a red giant. Blazing hot and angrily throwing out solar ejecta. In the outer system was a gas giant surrounded by a debris field of rocks and ice. Closer in towards the star lay their destination. A small rocky world covered in lava floes and volcanic activity. The coordinates lay somewhere in the southern hemisphere.

Scanning as they closed on the planet, they picked up another ship parked outside the temple and opted for an out of the way landing spot and an arduous overland trek to the temple

With Nik, in the lead they crested the ridge above the temple site to a hive of activity. The pirates Rhee had warned them about were loading a freighter with heavy, unmarked crates.

Ignoring the crates, they opted to steal the pirate’s ship instead. Nik attempted to sneak through the pirates while Antares set up on the ridge with his rifle on overwatch.

Nik was halfway through the crowd when a wrong turn brought him face to face with a pirate. He dispatched him quickly but all pretense of stealth was up and a firefight broke out. The freighter took a few shots and then took off but not before Del’nor noticed a defect in its plasma manifold. The freighter disappeared over the ridge trailing smoke, it’s fate ultimately unknown.

The fight took time to finish with each side managing a few good hits but ultimately they were victorious.

After examining the bodies and grabbing what usable loot they could, Jarek hiked back to the ship and brought it back to the temple entrance for convenience.

A quick investigation of the temple entryway revealed a hallway or old lava tube running to the left and right and by the tracks it showed the pirates had been down the right hallway most recently. Rhee insisted that he hadn’t been that way before and insisted the treasure was down the other path.

Once inside, the heat and oxygen levels returned to bearable levels but were replaced by an inky blackness. Rhee commented that it wasn’t this dark last time and tried to hurry off to their destination but the party were more cautious. They started to examine the first few rooms and discovered small individual living quarters and in the dim lighting, realized this wasn’t a temple after all, but a long abandoned starship that must have crash landed.

Del’nor postulated that it was at least 500 years old, possibly older. He didn’t think it was military but had been wrong before. He was honestly surprised it had survived as long as it had under the circumstances.

As they explored deeper, Jal wondered aloud why Rhee hadn’t realized this was a ship sooner and they all started to doubt their employer’s veracity about the whole operation, especially once Rhee admitted that he hadn’t been on their current route before. He said that the darkness had gotten him turned around but the seeds of disbelief were sown.

They next entered what they assumed was a storage area for the series of cabins behind them. The room was strewn with debris of luggage and in the dark they heard ominous growling echoing through the darkness.

Spooked but resolute, they delved deeper into the ship and eventually came to an open area that was once a common area or mess hall. Now it was the scene of a shootout. They discovered the bodies of a number of pirates killed recently by blaster fire along with the corpse of a 4 legged mammal that Del’nor identified as an Asharl panther.

Further in they heard more ominous growling without a source and the sounds of nearby movement. Entering the next room, they were confronted by a pair of glowing green eyes that materialised as a very ill-used protocol droid.

The droid, originally was orange and white but years of ill use and ash had coated him a filthy grey. He identified himself as Dee Three Kay Zero One and advised them that this was in fact a starship called the Revenant and he was the personal assistant of the captain named Mawdryn. The droid advised that the ship had crashed years ago after a hyperjump gone wrong while fleeing a battle.

Jal and the rest immediately mistrusted the droid and peppered him with questions about the ship, it’s layout and the pirates. The answers Dee Three gave were detailed but still didn’t seem to satisfy the group. He willingly promised to lead them to both the power relay and the captain’s quarters in exchange for taking him with them when they left.

They first headed to an working console and deftly restored power to the ship. The dim light of restored power felt like blazing sun after so long in the dark. After adjusting to the lighting change they headed to the captain’s quarters.

The door was jammed and only a small opening was available to slip through. Rhee slipped through with ease and Antares followed while the others attempted to open the door manually. Inside was the once opulent personal quarters of someone important. The room was still in darkness except for a soft blue glow coming from a podium with an active anti-gravity field. Inside the field sat a huge pearl almost 30 inches in diameter.

The others managed to get the door open and Rhee handed the pearl to Nik for safekeeping though Jal doubted its veracity. The group took a few moments to debate their options: Rhee, Antares and Nik were all for heading back to the ship as he got what he came for but Jarek and Del’nor were interested in what the pirates were doing down in engineering.

Deciding ultimately to investigate engineering, they set off down the corridors. As they came to a crossroads two ancient security droids rolled around the corner and took a bead on the party.

Loor charged forward shouting “These are worth money boys. Take them alive!” as he pulled out his ion grenades. The party started shooting and managed to get a few good hits in before the droids got their shields up. Then the fight got ugly. The droids viciously tore through the party much like they did the pirates back in the mess hall. Loor was undaunted and eventually they did enough damage to take the droids offline.

One droid was beyond salvaging and they managed to subdue the other. Jarek remembered he had a restraining bolt (though he couldn’t remember why). Del’nor installed it and they heard more pirates coming down the corridor to investigate the noise.

Before they had time to recover another firefight broke out. Even with their wounds the party outclassed the pirates and the fight was soon over.

Whether it was the last grenade the pirates tossed or just the age of the ship and it’s location finally coming to bear, tremors started to shake the ship. The group was adamant about keeping their new pet droid and Jarek set off to take it back to the Shrike while the others made their way to engineering.

The door was locked when they got there but Del’nor made short work of it and the door opened.

Two things happened simultaneously:

Del’nor was immediately drawn to a disparate pile of parts and schema sitting on a work bench opposite. His eyes couldn’t believe his luck at finding these… things. Nothing else mattered. “We need these. I need these” he said softly, oblivious to whether the others even heard him or not. He took an involuntarily step forward.

The others opened the doors and their eyes were not drawn to the miscellaneous pile of junk in the corner but instead to the vastness of the room and on an upper platform where three men stood with their backs to the party. The men turned as one at the noise of the door. At the feet of one of the men sat two animals extremely similar to the corpse in the mess hall. They let out a now familiar growl.

Acting on an instinct born of self preservation, Loor pushed the button before anyone else could react and the door slammed shut again. As it closed, Antares briefly locked eyes with one of the men and a spark of recognition lit a fire inside him. A fire born of revenge. He swore that was that bastard Rickard Anzac!

The door closed and it was only as it locked back into place that they realised that Del’nor was still on the other side…

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