Red Clouds

Chaper 2, Part 2
"You won't hear it."

The crew headed back to the Steadfast with their cargo of ice and repair supplies, and were warmly greeted by Mela Prince and the other refugees from Wehllund. They got to work immediately, and the crew were paid the agreed funds for their work. More supplies were still needed urgently, but things were looking up.

Prince and the Ithorian botanist agreed that the next priority was food, along with seeds, soil and other organic matter. With it, Opeth would be able to set up a hydroponics lab and start growing food – and supplement the stressed life support systems. The crew reasoned that the jungle planet of B’Po would be a good place to look, and they remembered that there was a research station near the planet. ZF-3 didn’t predict any Imperial Military presence however, and it was a mostly unexplored planet, teeming with a lot of indigenous life.

The crew were introduced to Drago – a Chiss, handy with a blaster and looking for action, who wanted to get off the Steadfast and help gather supplies. Owen signed him onto the crew, and they set off for B’Po, bringing Opeth along with them to use his botany skills in collecting plants and soil samples.

Dropping out of hyperspace in the B’Po system, they were immediately hailed by a small Imperial station, which turned out to be a science post conducting ecological surveys. They assumed the crew were there to help search for their men – apparently lost on a trip down to B’Po prime. The crew agreed to look for the missing researchers, in exchange for payment, and also purchased some supplies from the post. The scientists gave them details of their contact, down on the surface of the planet – a tribe of the local sentient species, named the Drar, with whom they had dealt with in the past, and in fact had supplied with a protocol droid for translation purposes.

Following the coordinates, they landed outside an imposing structure, a huge dome emerging from the jungle, surrounded by cleared space. Heading through the huge doors they passed through several large tunnels before coming to a hall. At the centre of the hall was the horrifying chieftan of the tribe, Coscass the Pale. After some initial hesitation, and aided by the protocol droid left by the researchers, the crew began negotiating to purchase food and soil samples from the Drar. A cautious race, Coscass suggested a ritual hunt before they could finalise any deal, to which the crew agreed.

They headed out that same day, after being supplied with spears by the Drar, and allowed Coscass to lead them towards a river, where they fought a giant jungle worm. After slaying the beast, the crew noticed a nearby crashed swoop bike – a standard Imperial model – smashed into a tree. Analysis by ZF-3 showed that the transponder data showed the proposed patrol route of the lost Imperial research team.

The next day, leaving the pacifistic Opeth to negotiate with the Drar, they headed off to the Imperial research team route. They found a crashed, but after searching the area they could find no sign of any bodies. Following some strange tracks, they headed deep into the jungle, eventually finding the ruins of a strange temple, which Coscass the Pale refused to enter – the entrance being far too large.

The crew searched the strange, ancient ruins, and found a heavy-bladed spear made of some strange material. They followed strange tracks down to the lower level and found a bizarre machine covered in unknown blinking symbols, with a central unit with complicated rotating elements. Several dead researchers were in the chamber, and one presumably alive but comatose and connected to the machine via a writhing cable attached to the back of their head.

Interfering with the machine proved dangerous, however, as after retrieving a small crystal from the central unit, a massive spider-legged creature was summoned and began to attack the crew. The fled, blasting it and carrying the still-living researcher. After slowing it down by pelting down tunnels too big for the creature, they made it outside where combined blaster fire and some well timed spear work by Coscass destroyed it. He identifies it as a ‘Rattler’ and refuses to speak more on the issue, but examination of the corpse shows it as some sort of bio-construct.

Coscass proclaims the hunts to be very successful, and the crew were allowed to strike a deal for food with the Drar tribe. Opeth had identified numerous species of plant that would be ideal for hydroponic cultivation on the ship, and they loaded up the Old Bess with as much soil, organic matter and food (including a large amount of preserved worm-meat). After leaving the planet, they contacted the orbiting research station and returned their missing researcher in exchange for a small reward.

Chapter 2, part 1
"Water is basically free, right?"

The crew agreed to pick up some basic supplies for the Steadfast and the refugees attempting to make it habitable. Four broad categories of goods were needed – water, food, mechanical supplies, and medical supplies. They were offered 600 credits for each category, although purchasing the goods would cut into that amount.

Pulling some contacts on Pollus 3, they get in touch with an information broker of their acquaintance named Leeso Chesk. For a small fee, he told the crew about an opportunity to pull some nice fenced gear, and they agreed to check it out. Heading to a disused cargo silo, they met Chesk, passed through the meagre security, and waited around for the fence to arrive.

The cargo bay was sparsely populated with shifty-looking folks, a general low-life mix. After a short while, a battered looking freighter turned up and some weequays and barabels began unloading crates, followed by a flamboyant Twi’Lek who introduces himself as “Sorr”. He ordered the crates opened and the goods displayed, and the crew quickly found some basic mechanical goods – probably stolen, of course. They also spotted several whole crates full of pristine stormtrooper gear and weapons – dangerous contraband. Chesk looked edgy, and advised them to leave as soon as they made their purchases, as he was put off by the flippant manner of the Twi’Lek.

They managed to buy up a stock of tools and repair supplies, along with a blaster rifle for Moosh, but were disturbed by an explosion from a nearby tunnel. It was a raid by local authorities! The crew quickly ran for it, slicing the lock on a nearby door and fleeing, their last sight of the hanger being Sorr and his cronies hustling up the gangplank of their ship. They got away safely, and quickly made their way to the ship before heading off on the next part of their mission – to collect water.

Wanting to keep the costs as low as possible, they purchased some basic tools and containers, before heading to Farcia, as the planet had abundant supplies of free and clean water in the form of ice. They laboriously cut and filled all the containers they could find with ice blocks, stacked them in the hold of the freighter and planned to change the internal heating to keep the hold as cold as possible. They were interrupted by the appearance of another ship – a Lambda shuttle, flown by the angry dug pirate, Captain Barbos. After a tense scramble, they managed to get airborne and make a hasty escape after blasting the shuttle with the ship’s ion cannon, leaving the disabled Barbos hurling threats from an ice flow.

Chapter 1, part 2
"This is a terrible place to live."

While attempting to reach the datacore without attracting any attention, the crew were startled by the sounds of crashing, running water and screams from a nearby service duct. Investigating, they entered the top of one of the water silos, criss-crossed with gantries and slimy with disuse. Water was sloshing into the silo from an open hatch, and some bedraggled children were cowering on a rapidly-flooding gantry far below.

Something else was in the water, however – some ugly, tentacled monster, pale and thin with hunger. After a tough fight, the crew managed to cut it apart and save the kids, only getting partially mauled in the process.

After explaining to the kids that they needed to get the core, they managed to persuade them to show the way through the ship, while avoiding any adults. After entertaining the children with stories, the crew eventually found the disused datacore and began plundering it. Moossh remained behind to keep watch on the data spooling onto some drives, while the others headed off to search for an armory, where they successfully salvaged a couple of light blaster pistols.

When ZF and Owen returned to the datacore, they discovered Moossh in a standoff with some refugees. A woman seemed to be in charge, and she demanded to know their purpose on the ship. The tense atmosphere was broken by the rescued children, who explained that the crew had rescued them from a monster in the water tanks.

After some discussion, it transpired that the new ‘inhabitants’ of the ship were hiding from an Imperial crackdown on Wehllund, and had fled in the shuttle found in the cargo bay. They found the Steadfast by chance, and were intending on rebuilding it to make it habitable. A nautolan suggested that this could be mutually profitable – and began listing goods that the refugees needed.

The crew managed to broker a deal to supply them with food, water, medical gear and mechanical tools in exchange for being able to use the Steadfast as a free port and repair yard. They agreed to pass on the classified data but alter it to suggest that the Steadfast is a complete wreck.

Upon their return to Pollus, they contacted Bikott and reported their success. In addition to the war data from the Steadfast, they offered over the location of the wrecked Clone Wars droids as well, netting a small bonus. He seemed pleased, but with Bikott it’s hard to tell.

Chapter 1, part 1
"My gun doesn't work in vacuum."

Bikott contacted the crew of the Paragon B-400 with a job – find the missing Clone Wars battleship Steadfast using some newly acquired data, and if intact plunder the wreckage for juicy military secrets in the ship databanks.

7F-3 used the data and his knowledge of astrogation and military hyperdrives to produce a list of possible trajectories from Lawiir’s Forge that the Steadfast could have plotted. The cone of likely locations extended well into the Sanguine Expanse, an area of nebulae and immense gas clouds, difficult to navigate through.

Checking out an early candidate, a barren moon with wreckage from a Clone Wars battle scattered on the surface and in orbit, the crew detected strange transmissions from the battle droids still active in the wrecked ships. After isolating the signal from a vulture droid, they swooped in, Moossh blasted it with the ship’s ion cannon and 7F-3 rushed out to extract the head from the decrepit machine. Pursued by incensed broken-down droids, they quickly returned to hyperspace.

Once deactivated and sliced, the vulture droid core revealed something interesting – the battle was caused by Republic forces pursuing the missing Steadfast and running into the Separatist convoy, leading to a battle. The Steadfast remained missing after this, but the telemetry data from the vulture allowed 7F-3 to rule out several possible sites. The crew continued searching systems.

Eventually, the crew left hyperspace near the asteroid belt of a quiet system in the expanse – several bloated gas giants orbiting a dwarf star. While the moons of the gas giants seemed bare, checking the belt was more successful, as they spotted a huge asteroid seemingly riddled with tunnels.

Heading carefully inside, the crew picked a tunnel and began exploring, manning the various turrets to scour the rock with searchlights, before abruptly reaching a dead end. This was actually a huge bulkhead, part of the Steadfast superstructure wedged in an adjoining tunnel. After blasting apart some rocks and floating across in suits they sliced a maintenance hatch and pulled themselves in through an an access shaft. The crew crept through the lower decks of the ship, eventually finding a modern Lambda-class shuttle in the main hanger which showed signs of cramped habitation by humanoids. Markings indicated it was owned by WehX mining, a corporation operating on Wehllund.

Crawling through the innards of the ship, the crew discovered the presence of a number of refugees, some arguing about supplies and others attempting to activate various ship systems.


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