The Pilot and the Spy
Last night before the end of International Tabletop Day, Irfan returned to his role as Hondo Pash the Smuggler Pilot in Star Wars Edge of the Empire role-playing game.
We began with an obligatory Star Wars crawl:
It had been several years since the fateful Battle of Shadda-Bi-Boran. While his family were safely sequestered away on an Alliance safeworld, Hondo Pash had been working as an Alliance operative travelling the galaxy taking on one piloting mission after another.
The Corellian Engineering Corp G9 Rigger-class modified freighter known as the Junk Bucket dropped out of lightspeed off the Igmalar system. The planet Igmalar was a humid, fog-covered swamp planet deep in the Enteague Sector in a minor star cluster slightly above the galactic plane. Nestled in the Outer Rim Territories, the Enteague Sector was under the absolute grip of the Empire because of its rich natural resources. To illustrate, Igmalar City the capital of the planet was under Imperial military control because the planet was rich with raw materials to be processed as pharmaceuticals.
But at the moment, Hondo was to retrieve a rebel spy only known as “Fulcrum“.
With a spoofed BoSS ID transponder, the astromech droid R2-8B8 – Hondo’s co-pilot since the days of Mos Shuuta – landed the Junk Bucket on landing platform 44. Wearing a dark helmet and spacer’s jumpsuit with equipment pouches strapped to his belt and his trusty DH-17 blaster pistol, Hondo descended the ship’s ramp alone where an Imperial port officer awaited.
The officer greeted him and insisted he disclosed his business on the planet. Hondo said, “I am meeting a friend for some business here in the city.” (Irfan had to roll his Deception skill with one Setback die because he did not define what business it was, but he succeeded anyway.)
The officer smiled at the smuggler and said, “Well, take care in the city. Make sure you get out of line. If you do, the Empire will take action. We will be watching.”
Hondo smiled at the man and strode out into the city.
Find My Fortune
There were squads of stormtrooper all over the city, Hondo discovered as he headed towards his rendezvous location with Fulcrum. Patrol speeders zoom across the rooftops of the buildings, all of which appear to be an amalgamation of standard galactic technology and the local plant-based technology. Vines of a dozen distinctive description and subspecies climbed up the facades of each building.
As he passed the shopping district, he saw a group of local sapient species being herded by stormtroopers using painful force pikes. They looked like a torso-sized clump of nodules, but each has a different number of limbs, each appearing like a cluster of twisted vines. Hondo was unable to discern any sensory organs on them.
Soon, he was at the front of Miibarl Medicinals, a five-story building also adorned by spiralling vines which sport many deep red bulbous flowers. This was their rendezvous but the front door and steps were guarded by half a squad of stormtroopers.
Hondo decided to sneak around the building to scout it. The side street was empty but the rear loading dock had two stormtroopers standing guard. The lead trooper said, “Halt! You’re not supposed to be back here. Hands up and come closer.”
Hondo had to decide quickly. He decided by drawing his blaster, and firing at one trooper.
One of the stormtroopers fell, but the other opened up with his SE-14c blaster pistol. The bolt struck a garbage skip just behind Hondo’s head (with a -4 to Body Points and a Head Ringer Critical Injury). He tried to fire at his armoured attacker, but he was too banged up to aim.
That was when an explosive projectile flew from the shadows behind him and hit the loading dock. The blast knocked him out for a moment. Then he felt arms grabbing him and a voice saying, “Come on! We have to get out of here before more Imperial troops arrive.”
Hondo woke up in the shadows on the street several blocks away from Miibarl Medicinals. His injuries had been treated. Some empty stimpacks were on the pavement beside him. A man in a brown jacket was closing his medpac. He noticed Hondo waking up and said, “I am Fulcrum.”
“Hondo Pash. Smuggler.”
“We have a new mission and I need your help. I am Fulcrum and I have stumbled upon an Imperial officer who wishes to defect to the Alliance. His name is Lieutenant Haxu Gale and I have him hidden in a house near the West Park. We have to get him off the planet and to an Alliance base.”
“Lead the way.”
Fulcrum and Hondo briskly walked past more enslaved locals guarded by Imperial troops before they arrived at a dwelling cluster adjacent to a park thick with huge twisted trees. Fulcrum pointed at a small boxy house along a windy path where two stormtroopers were knocking hard at the door. Fulcrum said, “Uh, that’s where I told Lieutenant Gale to wait.”
“Hang on!” Hondo muttered, sneaking amongst the foliage. Then, he threw a rock over over the troopers head which shattered a window at a neighbouring house. (A Triumph on an Athletics check! Irfan has dibs on calling what happens next…) There was loud basso profundo bellowing and roars from a family of irate Aqualish living next door. They cursed incessantly at the Imperial troops in their own tongue, causing the troops to move towards them with their weapons drawn and pointed at the brown-skinned, walrus-faced aliens.
“Now!” Hondo exclaimed and they all rushed for the front door of the safehouse, from an angle unseen by the troops. (Both succeeded their Stealth checks.) Soon, they were within where a scared, middle-aged man in an Imperial Army uniform was hiding in fear. Fulcrum introduced Hondo to the older man, “This is Hondo. He’s our ticket out of this city.”
It was then the door started to bang again. The trio went out the back way. First Gale ran out of the kitchen door, followed by Fulcrum, then the door between the kitchen and the living room was smashed open by a burly stormtrooper with a gun. He fired as Hondo slammed the door shut and locked it. He yelled pointing at the thick woods behind the house, “Let’s get out of here!”
The stormtroopers were coming around the front when a dark shape congealed from the shadows of the swampy woodlands. The dark shape quickly turned into the form of a dark-clad storm commando who nestled a customised blaster rifle with both hands. The commando ominously boomed, “Stop! Do not run!”
Gale ran, followed by Fulcrum. But before Hondo could disappear into the jungle a red bolt from the stormtroopers struck his upper arm resulting in a spray of sparks, billowing smoke and a crippled left arm.
Hondo quickly ducked into the thick foliage of huge leaves, palm fronds and a thousand different types of vines. He yelled to Fulcrum and Gale to join him, signalling to them that he was looking for a hiding place. (He rolled a Survival check.) Jumping over rocks and evading sharp stinging leaves of the underbrush, and ultimately found a depression in the ground among gigantic fern-like growths and toadstools. An old fallen mossy tree trunk helped with obscuring them from view. (He actually failed the Survival check.)
A moment later they heard a voice above them, saying, “Give him to me now, rebel scum.”
Ridin’ The Storm Out
The storm commando was perched legs apart atop the fallen tree trunk with the customised blaster rifle pointing at Hondo. “I have you dead to rights. One twitch and you’re dead. Now hand over Gale.”
“No,” said Hondo.
“He is worth a lot of money to me, rebel, and he would be a great burden to you. Give him to me and I will let you live.”
Fulcrum furrowed his eyebrows at this. Worth a lot of money? A storm commando?
Suddenly a vine dropped on and quickly constricted itself around the commando. It was a serpent-like predator with dark green and purple scales. Balance lost, the commando fell off the tree trunk onto the humid dark dirt on the ground. Fulcrum pushed Gale and yelled, “Run!”
Hondo was about to follow them when he stopped. He turned to see the commando being strangled to death by the swamp snake. The animal opened up its large, fanged mouth. Hondo raised his blaster pistol, aimed and fired.
The snake fell limp with a glowing hole in its head. Before the commando could recover, the smuggler turned and ran.
After a short while, the three fugitives came to a stop at the edge of the park, which was also the edge of the tableau that Igmalar City was built on. Over the jagged outline of a cliff were a sea of thick grey mist and islands of the most gigantic trees Hondo had ever seen poking up through the soup. If he fell, it would be a very long way down to his death.
“We’re trapped!” Gale exclaimed. “They’re going to take me back. You said you’d get me to safety. Do you know what the Empire will do to defectors?”
Hondo tapped on his comlink button, “Artoo! This is Hondo. Get a fix on my signal and come get me right now. I’m at the edge of the city!”
There was a chirp of acknowledgement before the comlink clicked off. He hoped that the droid understood the order.
That was when blaster fire rained upon them from the treeline causing them to duck for cover in the landscape. Stormtroopers and Imperial Army troops advanced upon them, they weapons fire incessant. Rocks exploded and trees splintered all around Hondo, Fulcrum and Gale.
Hondo shouted, “I wish I’d brought my blaster rifle instead!” He had left his DC-15s blaster rifle aboard the Junk Bucket.
A sudden explosion shockwave slammed into them and the fusillade ceased.
Hondo peeked over the uprooted tree he was hiding behind nursing his crippled arm and saw that all Imperials in the area had been wiped out by an explosive weapon. He spotted someone walking out from under the shadows of the trees: it was the storm commando, who discarded of the PLX-4 missile launcher onto the ground.
Why would a storm commando kill other Imperial troops? Hondo wondered.
The commando said, “Listen to me. The Hutts will pay me extra for him alive. Give him to me and you will all live.”
“I don’t think so,” said Hondo. “I promised I would get him safe.”
“If you take him, your base wherever it is will not be safe. It’s his play. This has been his job from the beginning,” implored the commando who then took off the black helmet. Under it was a woman with brown skin and long black hair. She wore dark phototropic eyeglasses.
Then, the Junk Bucket – piloted by R2-8B8 – appeared from the cloudy skies and came to hover off the cliff edge, her entry ramp opening up.
“Don’t let her take me,” cried Gale. The woman unslung her long blaster rifle and attempted to bring it to bear on Gale when Fulcrum let loose a shot from his BlasTech A280-CFE pistol that hit her shoulder, bringing her down. Then Fulcrum and Gale jumped onto the Junk Bucket‘s ramp.
Hondo took aim with his DH-17. The prone woman seemed to tense up. Then Hondo fired. A red bolt slammed into the woman’s rifle cutting it into two pieces. Then Hondo turned and leapt.
The ramp closed up and the ship headed for space.
The Junk Bucket screamed into vacuum, right in to the path of a pair of TIE fighters flying patrol in the orbit of Igmalar. Artoo increased their speed to close the gap with the fighters faster.
At the gunnery station, Hondo fired the forward turret and dusted one of the fighters. The second TIE fired its green bolts which struck the Junk Bucket. Despite her shields, the ship took some damage. Hondo fired again and gouged fiery chunks out of its fuselage. The final TIE’s counterattack failed as its cannons missed when they were about to come in close. Just as they passed each other, Hondo squeezed his trigger once again and disintegrated the enemy ship.
Fulcrum told them that an Imperial Star Destroyer several thousand klicks away at a far orbit was approaching and had launched a squadron of TIE fighters. But it was too late. Artoo sent a signal to the hyperdrive and the Junk Bucket jumped to safety.
Start A New Life
As their freighter safely cruised through hyperspace across the Enteague Sector, Hondo and Fulcrum discussed what to do next while the pilot attended to his injured arm. Gale went to the refresher to refresh himself.
Fulcrum extended a hand, “You’re good in a fight. Thanks for the extraction. My name is Cassian.”
Hondo shook it with a smile.
To be continued.
- Fulcrum should of course be played by Diego Luna.
- The “storm commando” should of course be played by Sila.
- This should have been a one-shot and an interlude, but now we need to continue this adventure.