Episode 05: The Azurite City Requiem
In this game I thought I could finish this arc of the campaign in the second session. I failed.
Hello and Goodbye
As explosions wrecked the peaceful evening at Azurite City, the team began to regroup.
The Duros spy Vendrik told them that he had received an encrypted communiqué via the public channels. It was a code phrase ordering him to leave the planet. The team started to object. They would need his help if things went bad. Vendrik said, “I can’t get involved now when the Empire appear to be using underhanded tactics to take over the system. They really want this system. If they knew that the Rebel Alliance is involved with their opposition, they’ll call for a Base Delta Zero orbital bombardment killing everyone and everything on the surface of Ghyel. I know because I’ve seen them do it before on another world.”
They said their goodbyes. Nora Romanova would help escort the Duros spy offworld.
Their vehicles wrecked, Zeltron Darter Kel, Trianii Qillian Ryn, Trandoshan John Tray’Essek and the droid VAX-11/750 jogged back towards their headquarters at the Ghyel Ministry of History and Archaeology.
Dark Skies over Azurite
The skies were dark, but seemed darker for the dozens of Lambda-class shuttles being regurgitated by the Imperator-class Star Destroyer hanging above Azurite City. They could be seen flitting between city buildings and were landing at every other open space in the city.
Darter called their employer, the 14-year-old Ghyel prince Zalo Hai whom they had rescued from a three hundred year carbonite slumber in an abandoned remote outpost. Darter reported their findings of the death of Councilman Drazi, the alliance Councilman Zirrus had with an Imperial officer, the homing beacon tagged on a saboteur’s airspeeder and apparent Imperial political destabilisation tactics.
“We have to acquire evidence to present to the Council,” said Prince Zalo. Suddenly he burst out, “They’re here! An Imperial shuttle has landed. Troops are coming. You have to go to-” And then he was cut off. The team considered heading for the Ministry to rescue Prince Zalo, but it would take too long for them to reach it without a speeder.
They looked for a speeder to steal, but almost every vehicle was on the move, panicked by the explosions in the city and the sudden influx of Imperial troops. (A failed Streetwise roll by Darter.) Darter found an abandoned landspeeder which was missing one engine. But VAX was unable to fix it to be used.
They jogged toward the spaceport to get to their YT-1300 freighter the Modesty Blaze. It would be good to have flight and weapon capabilities. However, there was a detachment of stormtroopers at their landing bay entrance. Darter tried to bluff their way in by saying they were part of the Historical Ministry and the landing bay was to be inspected for its historical legacy status. But the troopers were adamant that they stay out of their way.
A pair of TIE fighters were circling the skies above them. To the team’s horror, the Modesty Blaze roared out of the landing bay up toward the Star Destroyer high above the city. The two TIEs flanked their ship as it climbed up.
Darter thought of a nearby speeder racing arena (a new Streetwise roll succeeds) and led the group toward it for a quick Grand Theft Repulsor.
The group shuffled through a highly populated shopping district adorned with multi-hued neon lights and holographic screens, bustling with people attempting to return home quickly. Several squads of Imperial stormtroopers had arrived and were patrolling the street. One group was setting up a moblie command post at the far end of the street.
Above them between the buildings a holographic screen burst to life displaying the image of Councilwoman Drazi. Speakers began to loudly announce from their hidden receptacles.
The Empire was taking advantage of the explosions to establish a beach head on Ghyel.
The Fast and the Furious
The Azurite City Speeder Arena was deserted but for a Lambda-class shuttle parked on the empty open-air parking bay. The stormtroopers ignored the team as they rushed for one of the the racing hangars. They found an open hangar with two 2-man custom racing speeders within. Both were silver, but one had a green trim running along from nose to engine pods and the other red. There was a mechanic who looked worried.
Darter burst in quickly saying, “Quick! The Imperials are taking over. They sent us to drive the speeder to safety!” (Failed Deceit roll, but a number of Advantages.)
“Hey! No. I don’t think so. We’re not allowed to move any of the speeders because-” (With the Boost die from Darter’s advantage) Tray had silently moved behind the mechanic and judo chopped the back of his neck, felling him. (Successful Brawl attack, Stunning action.)
Darter and Qillian jumped in the red speeder, VAX and Tray in the green. Both vehicles screamed out of the hangar headed for the administrative district, hoping it would not be too late to retrieve Prince Zalo.
A Royal Rescue
The two speeders wend their way through traffic towards the administrative district. The streets were jammed up in the opposite direction because of the increase of traffic of speeders attempting to leave Azurite City. The Empire setting up many dozens of checkpoints along thoroughfares and major streets worsened the situation. The drove past the Ministry of Science. They drove past the Ministry of Justice.
Ahead was the Ministry of History with this old facade, columns and climbing ivy on its walls. A Lambda-class shuttle had landed on the street in front of it. A pair of stormtroopers could be seen escorting Prince Zalo from the building entrance toward the shuttle.
“I call this,” said Darter, “the Teräs Käsi Manoeuvre!”
…which appeared to be having the speeders rush forward blocking off the stormtroopers advance and retreat, after which the passengers would shoot the Imperials and the Prince would be rescued. However only VAX’s racing speeder succeeded in executing the blocking move. Darter however (thanks to a failed Piloting roll) somehow managed to jump high off the hardtop, careen sideways, roll as it careened immediately over the dumbstruck stormtroopers and Prince Zalo, and safely crash into thick bushes at the side of the building sending a big puff of leaves airborne.
Qillian leapt out of his crashed speeder and pounced on a trooper but his claws did not pierce his armour. Tray advanced and fired his own E-11 blaster rifle, felling the other trooper. Qillian’s prey spun and fired, but missed. As Tray pulled the Prince to safety (and grabbing a fallen trooper’s E-11), Qillian swiftly drew his blaster and left the remaining trooper a smoking pile on the sidewalk.
Darter had cleared the bushes and swung his racing speeder for Qillian to leap back in. Prince Zalo asked himself, “Which do I like better, lizards or cats?” before he jumped onto Tray’s lap in his speeder’s rear cockpit.
The pilots gunned the throttle. A rooftop stormtrooper with a DLT-20 heavy blaster rifle caught sight the tail end of the rescue operation and aimed his weapon. Zalo alerted them to the new threat. Darter (flipping one a Destiny Point) saw a construction skip on the sidewalk filled with bricks, wood panelling, a ton of dirt and bathroom fixtures. He (successfully rolled his Pilot skill and) headed for the skip, hitting its side causing it to flip over, spraying the entire street with a thick cloud of dust. And maybe some toilet bowls and sinks.
The trooper fired into the cloud blindly, each bolt diffused into dull red flashes in the night and missed. The racing speeders disappeared around the far corner, everyone – except for the silent VAX – whooping with victory.
Why Did The Chicken Walker Cross the Street?
They had to decide where to go next. Seeing that the homing beacon tagged on the saboteurs’ airspeeder by Darter was still transmitting, they would try to locate it and discover who was bombed Drazi’s building.
“Follow me!” said Darter, weaving the hot rod speeders through the streets. Turn left. Turn right. (And then Darter rolled Streetwise badly.)
The racing speeders were speeding toward the scout walker’s legs within the firing arc of its powerful chin guns. Darter yelled, “We attack with the Kessel manoeuvre!” (It was called the Kessel manoeuvre because that was where you would get thrown into if you got caught.)
Blasters began to fire upon them. VAX evaded skilfully, but one bolt made the pavement before the red racing speeder erupt violently. Darter and Qillian went flying. They rolled on the sidewalk unharmed, but the speeder was totally wrecked. Qillian told VAX and Tray by comlink, “Get to the beacon location. We’ll deal with this!” Then he turned to Darter, “Keep the gunner busy!”
The scout walker was turning onto them. Qillian vaulted for its legs while Darter ran from cover to cover ahead of the guns’ line of fire but within the gunner’s sight. (This required the new Warfare skill roll from the Age of Rebellion core rulebook.) Qillian was a blur of fur and flesh as he climbed up onto the walker with ease. The Trianii opened the upper hatch and jumped in, and punched the gunner into unconsciousness. The walker ceased its motion, prompting Darter to also approach and climb up its legs.
Meanwhile the driver drew his sidearm and put a smoking – and painful – hole in Qillian shoulder. The Trianii flinched with pain, but he too had his blaster out and fired. The driver slumped onto his console. Darter dropped into the cockpit as Qillian found a stimpack and injected himself with it.
Then they looked around. They now possessed an AT-ST. It was time to clean it up and hide it before the Imperials start looking for it.
A Raiding Party at the Warehouse
The green racing speeder cruised through the warehouse district, homing in on the beacon signal. It led them to a warehouse with a closed loading bay, boarded up windows and one human guard in civilian clothes at the front door. VAX parked down the street. Tray sneaked up to one of the windows and looks between the boards. Inside was an airspeeder – the same one Darter had tagged. A mechanic was working on it. A human guard with a holstered blaster stood by the front door. There was another human in civilian clothes at a communication console.
It was an Imperial military crypto comm console! They had found their proof that the Empire was carrying out a covert mission to destabilise Azurite City. They called Darter and Qillian to let them know. The other two had been cleaning up the interior of their newly-commandeered scout walker and would join them as soon as possible.
Tray armed himself with the E-11 pilfered during the rescue mission and gave his slugthrower rifle to Prince Zalo who wanted to help.
VAX walked toward the guard drunkenly singing about death of all meatbags, causing the guard to turn toward him. “Droid! Get away from here!”
Tray crept up behind him and rendered him unconscious with a thump. Prince Zalo rushed to them with his slugthrower ready.
The Trandoshan began to tell Prince Zalo how he did things. “The people inside aren’t prepared for us, so we do this.” The hired gun knocked on the door. The guard opened the door a microsecond before a reptilian fist smashed into his face.
Tray rushed into the warehouse and headed for the man in the comm console. VAX strolled in casually and blasted the speeder mechanic. Tray had leapt leg first at the comm personnel. The taloned feet slashed at his chest, drawing a spray of blood but he still stood. He appeared to be going for his blaster.
Suddenly there was a call from Qillian, “Guys! Leave one alive. We need to interrogate him.”
“Of course,” said Tray.
BANG! A single slug round pierced the remaining Imperial agent’s temple and he fell facedown without a word. Prince Zalo lowered his slugthrower rifle and asked, “Did I do okay?”
Tray blurted out, “Noooo!” while VAX was ambivalent towards the whole “dead humans” thing.
The Wrath of Sassatania
Some time later, Darter and Qillian arrived after hiding their AT-ST in a scrapyard. (They both figured VAX and Tray was turning Prince Zalo into some sort of weapon-toting juvenile delinquent.)
VAX was operating the comm console. It was military grade equipment, with the ability to provide realtime communications with even personal devices on Coruscant, the Imperial Centre in the Core Worlds. Technically they could even call the Emperor Palpatine if they knew his personal comm code.
VAX used his expertise to access the Imperial database. However the protocol was unfamiliar and heavily encrypted. All VAX could retrieve was that the Imperial capital ship hovering nearby was the ISD Cockchafer, captained by one Bullpup Barqueslayer. It was part of a squadron that included a pair of Dreadnaught cruisers, the Ballerina and the Tap Dancer. The strangest information that VAX could find was that Captain Barqueslayer’s service record did not exist before some point 6 weeks earlier.
Darter decided to come out of hiding and expose himself to his former lover, Sassatania the First of Her Name, Daughter of Teemo, contacting her with the console. The female Hutt appeared as a holographic image on the console, tall blonde curly wig and all.
Darter pleaded with her, “My Starshine! I was unable to return to you because of many unfortunate reason. I was on my way back to you with my heart and a sizeable dowry when I was beset by misfortune!”
“Tell me, my love,” she demanded.
“I am trapped on a system. My escaping it depends on my knowing about the Imperial captain who holds me here, one Bullpup Barqueslayer.”
Sassatania’s bulbous eyes widened and looked even more bulbous. She said, “We have heard of this Captain Barqueslayer before. It was said that he was the first officer of an Imperial Star Destroyer whose captain performed a Base Delta Zero on a planet that was secretly supported by the Rebel Alliance. Billions died. It became a big scandal as there was no evidence of the Alliance’s influence at all on the planet. Because of political pressure, the captain had his rank stripped and was dishonourably discharged. Before he disappeared in the Outer Rim, this former captain named Razi Sunmote said that he had been framed by his first officer, a bloodthirsty, ambition officer who had a powerful patron in the Fleet that defended his invasion of unarmed worlds and helped cover up his atrocities when he failed. We believe this officer is now Bullpup Barqueslayer.”
The team had, of course, met Razi Sunmote before on Hypori. The former Imperial captain was now a pirate who stole an entire section of Smallberries Station after amassing his own droid army for a revenge-fueled search across the Outer Rim Territories for the person who had framed him: Flintlock Tile. It was apparent that Flintlock Tile was now Bullpup Barqueslayer!
“Thank you for the information, my Starshine!” said Darter. “Once I am able to escape from this Captain Barqueslayer, I shall come to you with my longing arms and my hefty dowry.”
“I cannot wait to see my dowry,” roared the Hutt gleefully. “But if you cross me again, Darter Kel, you will regret it. I will hunt you down to the coldest depth of space!”
While they both were making smooching noises in farewell, Darter disconnected the signal. Qillian told VAX, “You’re lucky you’re a droid because you can’t feel the emotions that I’m feeling right now.”
The Rage of Razi Sunmote
They decided on a plan not just to rid Ghyel of the Imperials, but either discredit Captain Barqueslayer or keep him busy with a more important threat or both. In the chaos they would retrieve the Modesty Blaze from the Cockchafer‘s hangar bay. They would need heavy support. There was only one person who would be invested enough to help them with Barqueslayer.
Because they were familiar with Smallberries Station’s comm protocols, VAX was immediately able to contact the spaceborne Section 12 of it which was hijacked into hyperspace by Razi Sunmote. Sunmote was angry. “I know your face,” he yelled at Darter. “You agreed to join me in my crusade to defeat the coward Flintlock Tile! Why did you desert my army and I?”
“That’s because,” Darter explained quickly without missing a beat, “we were busy with other business, which was to locate for you Flintlock Tile. And we have good news.”
“Captain Tile is now Captain Bullpup Barqueslayer of the ISD Cockchafer now attempting to annex the Ghyel system as he did when he framed you.”
“He chooses the stupidest of names,” Sunmote spat with disgust. “My army and I will arrive near Ghyel in three hours, standing by just outside. Call me when you are ready. Then I will come with guns blazing.” Then he closed off the channel.
Three hours. Now all they need was to steal a ship so they could reach the Cockchafer.
Ambush at the Playground
30 minutes later they were executing their plan, they were assembled at a deserted playground beside a sports field overgrown with weeds and surrounded by empty condemned tenement buildings. Their stolen AT-ST stood beside rusted climbing structure for children. Darter and VAX manned the walker while Qillian and Tray dug holes in which they could lie in wait camouflaged by dirt-on-tarp on the far side of the sports field.
Darter called it in from the AT-ST, contacting an officer aboard the Cockchafer and telling him that they have captured the fugitive Prince Zalo Hai and requested a shuttle for prisoner pick up. Five minutes later as Prince Zalo was sitting on the decrepit old swing set in front of the AT-ST, a Lambda-class shuttle came in for a landing. Upon touchdown, two stormtroopers escorted a young Imperial lieutenant towards Prince Zalo – it was the same lieutenant who impeded their investigations at the Ministry underground parking lot.
The dust kicked up by the shuttle landing allowed the Trianii and Trandoshan to rise out of their camouflaged pit and sneak aboard the ship.
The lieutenant was pleased! But only for a moment. Suddenly, Zalo yelled, “Now!” and fled the swing set. The stormtroopers pointed their E-11s at the fleeing prince. A moment later, the AT-ST’s chin blasters fired and the ground where the Imperials stood on violently erupted into a mushroom cloud of dirt and flame.
The pilots saw the attack from the cockpit. They did not notice Tray shooting the only other stormtrooper on the shuttle in the passenger compartment. Neither did they notice Qillian sprint into the cockpit from behind. He took one pilot down with a shot, causing the other to spin and fire with his sidearm. When the blaster missed, Qillian put a bolt in the co-pilot’s chest.
And Now It Begins
After hauling the disassembled parts of the crypto comm console onto the shuttle for future use, they take to the skies. With two hours plus change to spare before Razi Sunmote would arrive at Ghyel, they decided to sneak off and jump away from the star system and bide their time at some nearby shadowport.