Modesty Blazing 02
Episode 02: Droid-like Typing Detected
The Zeltron pilot Darter Kel had been detained for questioning by the authorities of Smallberries Skystation on Hypori. After all he was the one who dealt with and was up close with the former Captain Razi Sunmote.
The errant Captain Sunmote used a droid caller to muster an attack force made of dormant battle droids. The droids had been reactivated from salvage taken from the Hypori. After dealing death and destruction within Section 12 of the skystation, Sunmote and his droid force jettisoned their captured section and jumped into hyperspace on a desperate mission of vengeance.
But Darter’s shipmates, the droid 41-VEX, the Trianii bounty hunter Qillian Ryn and Trandoshan hired gun John Tray’Essek, were released on their own recognizance, after a good word from the entrepreneur they rescued, Gir Tashkent.
The crew of the Modesty Blaze was waiting for Darter’s questioning to end when a sharply-dressed human came knocking on the ship’s ramp struts. VEX, in the lower cannon turret, spun the weapon at him in retaliation to the knocking. Qillian rushed down to greet the man, who introduced himself as Colonel Zev Sleen an Imperial officer.
He offered 4000 credits to take him to and bring him back from the nearby Khov system.
Qillian took over the pilot seat, apprehensive over having to fly the freighter without their designated pilot Darter. He had trained for some hours (buying 1 Rank in Pilot (Space) with the last of his XP) and had gotten slightly better at it in the last few hours.
It should have taken three hours to reach Khov, but VEX forgot to carry the one in his calculations (with no successes in Astrogation) so they arrived three hours late.
There was a blue white planet shrouded with clouds. Its polar caps is too frozen to support life. VEX scanned and spotted an automated intermittent signal from the liveable equatorial region. Colonel Sleen confirmed from the coordinates that it was their destination.
Qillian fought the winds as he dove under the clouds, causing the drinks Tray was serving Sleen to spill. Soon he was flying the Blaze through an overwhelming ice storm. The clouds cleared to reveal a cliff wall before them. The Trianii – to his own surprise – banked away and threaded his way through a canyon (thanks to a series of Piloting successes).
The signal led them to an open hangar bay at the foot of an icy mountain. Fifty metres above it on the steep mountainside was a command structure with a large window overlooking the frozen countryside. Both were dark and did not appear to have any lights activated.
Qillian had a bad feeling about this. A sudden downdraft tried to force the Modesty Blaze into a crash as it came in for a landing, but Qillian – again to his own surprise (with a success that involved 2 Triumphs) glided in with hardly a tremor.
Darkness in the Hangar Bay
He landed the ship in the hangar bay right next to a pair of disused Imperial AT-AT walkers and a long abandoned T-4a Lambda-class shuttle. Colonel Sleen was surprised that all but the hangar’s emergency lights were off. VEX turned on the Blaze’s hull lights and the forward floodlights before powering down the freighter. Tray disembarked on point with weapons ready, followed by Sleen and then Qillian.
Tray heard a noise from the snowbank at the left side of the hangar bay opening, spun and fired. The red bolts struck ice and metal. A pair of hornless tauntauns scampered out from the shadows and out into the blizzard outside.
VEX walked down the ramp at a leisurely pace before locking up the ship. His droid eyes gazed covetously upon the Imperial shuttle and walkers.
“I have no idea what happened here,” Sleen said. “I need to find out.”
Tray gestured to the elevated hangar bay office, located beside thick blast doors that led deeper into the outpost. They approached cautiously. The door was open and the office was deserted. The computers were dead. Not even the light switches worked. VEX was unable to restore power, but Qillian discovered a status box in the wall that suggested that the entire base was unpowered… except for the four sub-levels beneath them.
Colonel Sleen said, “It would be of great help if you aided me in investigating this.”
The Blaze crew agreed and decided to head to the sub-levels. VEX was unable to hotwire the blast doors to open, so Tray pried the door open with his claws and muscles.
The hallway beyond the blast door was dark. It extended to the left and the right. There was a lift cluster before them. The doors slid open at a push of a button. Before Colonel Sleen entered, he spotted a security cam on the ceiling of the hallway to the right. It panned to track Sleen as he moved to the left and right. He said, “Someone is still here and watching us.”
The lift descended, but halted violently between Sub-levels Two and Three. Once again, Tray’s Trandoshan might helped to open the doors. The top one-thirds of the lift door led to Sub-level Two.
Ambush at Sub-level Two
They crawled out into a lighted hallway with a series of similar doors along the walls. Qillian moved forward first, his vibroknucklers ready. One of the doors ahead on the left slid open and Qillian spotted a pair of white-armoured Imperial stormtroopers aiming E-11 blaster rifles at them. He yelled, “An attack!” and lunged at them.
“Call your troops off, Colonel!” Tray said.
The Colonel said, “I can’t call them off! Blast them!” and pointed his DL-18 blaster at the open door. Qillian had smashed one stormtrooper down with his vibroknuckler. There was a third trooper in the barracks who shot at but missed the Trianii. Tray leapt in, his talons slicing open one stormtrooper’s jugular at his unarmoured neck. Then a bolt from Sleen’s blaster silenced the final trooper.
As they were grabbing (okay, looting) grenades and blasters from the bodies, they discovered something wrong with the attackers. They removed one of the troopers’ helmets. The human appeared to have been dead for at least a week. There was something underneath the pallid and mottled skin: glowing LEDs, metallic slivers, wiring and circuitry. Colonel Sleen said, “I’ve never seen anything like this before. Some sort of invasive cyborg procedure… on the dead.”
VEX looked as though everything was all right with the world.
Sleen continued grimly, “I have to come clean. I am not an Imperial officer. Six months ago I was to be wed. There was an Imperial raid in our city. 200 people were detained, including my beloved fiancée. Since then I’d been looking for where they imprisoned her. The detainees were separated into smaller groups and her group was sent here, to the Khov Biomedical Research Station.” He removed an ID card and an Imperial rank cylinder from his pocket and flung it away. “I have to find her, with or without you.”
He pressed on. Qillian and Tray hurried after him and VEX followed at a leisurely pace.
There was a door that led to a stairwell at the end of the hallway. Qillian told the others to wait while he stealthly scouted ahead. Creeping to the edge of the railing, the Trianii spotted a pair of stormtroopers on the next landing below. He lobbed a grenade at them, flattening them to the floor and walls. He crept downstairs as the others followed after him. Sleen asked, “Why are you creeping quietly? I’m sure everyone in the base heard that grenade explode.”
Discovery at Sub-level Three
The group stormed a cavernous space in the next level. There were glowing bulbous pods framed by shaped metal being fed fluid by tubes, connected to strange machinery on the flanking walls. There were three other stormtroopers waiting for them. Again, Qillian lunged at them striking one down, but this time a blaster bolt struck his chest. His armoured jacket caught most of the blast, but he was wounded. After a short exchange of fire, the remaining two troopers were dead.
They looked at the pods and discovered a horrifying sight. There were people in each pod, unconscious and suspended in an unidentifiable fluid. There were hundreds of tiny mechanical arms probing, prodding and performing unspeakable medical procedures on their exposed skins as they slept. There were ten pods on each wall. After Sleen looked at each one carefully, he said, “She not in any of them.”
There was one more sub-level to go.
Showdown at Sub-level Four
They reached the final sub-level. They had to cross a bridge over cavernous maw overlooking part of the fusion generator underneath the entire base. After Qillian had passed the mid-point of the bridge, it began parting from the middle, retracting toward each end. VEX tried to jump over the gap, but failed. Thankfully, Tray used the liquid cable shooter he found on Hypori to swing and grab VEX before he fell to his doom. They reached the other side and hotwired to blast doors to open before the bridge completely retracted.
It was a room with cages at the far end and a raised control console dais in the centre. At the console was what appeared to be a stick-thin IG-series assassin droid with a purple chassis. Sleen yelled at it, “Where is Camie Brightpage, droid?”
The droid ignored him and said, “Despite my efforts at hiding my activities here, it seems that you have found me out.”
Sleen fired a bolt at it. It flashed and illuminated the shape of a cylidrical force field which protected the console and it. The droid mused with a sigh of regret, “Perhaps it’s time for me to relocate. The plan needs to survive.”
Qillian interjected, “The liquid cable shooter!” Tray hurled the launcher at Qillian. The Trianii grabbed it in mid-air and fired at the ceiling. The launcher’s retraction mechanism hauled him upward and past the console. Qillian flung a grenade at the console’s stalk. It exploded and threw a miasma of sparks, debris and cloud of particles into the air. The force field wavered visibly and blinked out of existence.
Tray jumped and began climbing the stalk and somersaulted onto the top of the console while Qillian swung back and down onto the floor. The smoke cleared, the droid had vanished and there was an open hatch on the console station’s floor. Recklessly, Tray leapt down into the hole right into another large chamber. He would have fallen to his death onto the fusion generation machinery if he had not grabbed a railing on a catwalk that cut across the open space in the chamber as he fell.
Pulling himself onto the catwalk, he spotted the IG droid disappearing into a doorway that shut behind him.
VEX accessed the base’s computer network and (with a Triumph) managed to gain full control over all of Khov Biomedical Research Station. The droid had access to the security cameras but was unable to locate the section that the IG droid had escaped through. VEX reactivated the station’s astromech droids and sent them into the tunnels to search for the IG.
Sleen however had found and helped free living prisoners, including his beloved Camie. Including his fiancée, there were eighteen survivors altogether.
Tray forced the locked door open and found a speeder bay on the other side. There might have been a speeder bike parked here until recently. A tunnel curved into the darkness. Tray followed the tunnel as far as he could, but stopped and retreated back to his crewmates when it seemed like the tunnel had no end. He reported, “The droid might try to escape.”
Qillian sprinted back up to the hangar bay. He (rolled a Success in Perception and) confirmed by sight that no one had tampered with the lock and stowed away aboard. Then, he took the Modesty Blaze out into the blizzard once again. He climbed over the storm clouds and kept an eye out for escaping ships. He was aloft for several hours without seeing anything before he returned to the hangar.
In the meantime, VEX had accessed the station’s records at a leisurely pace and discovered that Khov station was established by the Galactic Empire to run illegal biomedical research on organic prisoners. Three weeks earlier, they captured an IG-series assassin droid that broke free and captured the station single-handedly. It moved information and sent fake communiques to allay suspicions from the Empire so that there would be no visits from the Imperial fleet. It also experimented on the station’s personnel, turning their biological corpses into mechanical killing machines, although the first batch of experiments were fragile and easily defeated – as the Blaze crew had discovered earlier.
The IG droid had begun its experiments on Imperial personnel and had started on the base’s prisoners when the Modesty Blaze arrived.
Sleen, Camie and the other survivors thanked them and paid them their fees, plus extra two thousand credits for their aid. “I don’t have much, but this is everything I have.”
As Qillian transported the Sleen, Brightpage and the civilians back to Smallberries Skystation, VEX and Tray remained behind to see what they could salvage from the abandoned Imperial research station, what they could trade, what they could install onto the Modesty Blaze and how to give the good news to Darter Kel that they might just have a new temporary secret base before the Imperials were due for a visit.
But what was the IG-series droid and where did he come from?
- Second Edge of the Empire session I’ve GMed in two consecutive weekends. It’s been awhile since I was 16!
- Khov is Hmong for “frozen”, created for this game.
- When I GM, I seem to lose a lot of details because it seems I sacrifice the record function of my find for extra processing power. I am seriously out of practice.
- Camie Brightpage has the same first name as Koo Stark’s character in the first Star Wars movie.
- Sleen might not have been his real name.