Sleep was slow coming and quick to depart, like most of my dates last time I was on Coruscant, ha. As we gathered our gear to move on we noticed we weren’t the only early risers.
Looking out from the open bridge we could see a pair of long-necked beasts coming across the lake pulling small boats behind them. The boats looked to be loaded with old battle droids, the kind that would have crewed this tub in its day and a bald man who looked like the image of Captain Harsol from the holo recording. As the beasts reached the edge of the lake and walked out the boats settled on them like some sort of howdah, neat trick. We took the opportunity to get back down to ground level while they approached but tried not to look threatening.
It was a tense moment as Harsol regarded our trooper armour, as he made up his mind whether we were Imperials or not. Thankfully IT-3PO clunked forward and greeted him which seemed to put him a little more at ease and he told his droids to lower their weapons.
With IT’s help we explained what we were doing there and Harsol invited us to his camp. I got the feeling that the invite was with or without our compliance, but they didn’t take our weapons so if it all went to frell I’d shoot Harsol first. Clambering back into the boats he told us the beasts were called reevos and they pulled us northward up the lake.
We saw signs of several other large creatures moving in the water but none to match the size of the reevos. A splash from the shore caught our attention and we saw more of the tree octopi dragging fish from the water and into the overhanging trees. Just seeing those things again made my skin crawl.
Eventually we make shore and there’s a group waiting to take he reevos to wherever they keep the beasts, I’m sure glad I wouldn’t have to clear their poodoo! Harsol led us up a short climb to the Retreat as they called their camp. It was set back into a natural alcove of the cliffs beyond with a serviceable palisade constructed from local trees and salvaged ship parts guarding the entrance with a pair of sentry towers flanking the gateway. As we entered I noticed several more of the old battle droids manning the towers, though they looked to have been patched up so often they were more spare parts than original.
We were attracting quite a crowd and at first we thought it was because of our armour but when we heard someone call out “Harsol, why aint they dead yet? Gone soft?” we shared a few nervous glances. Harsol responded with “Maybe things are changing for the better, we’ll see. Fetch Kratala and we’ll find out” and led us into a large central chamber which was obviously a communal meeting hall of sorts.
It boiled down to Harsol had made a deal with Reom’s dad Repok back in the day and IT-3PO was supposed to lead the Twi’lek here. Obviously it had taken longer than planned and in an effort to remain hidden, especially from the empire, Harsol had taken violent steps to ensure that visitors didn’t reveal their location. While the “grown ups” talked my mind began to wander and I’ll admit I was beginning to wonder what anyone would want with the carcass of the scrapped ship when she entered the room.
The white-haired Arkanian woman from the holo recording, though she now sported a custom cyber-eye strode forward to stand beside Harsol. Talk turns to how heavy the imperial presence on the rim is and we answer as truthfully as we can and then offer to use our ships to help get the survivors off planet, even seeing them safely to Reom and IsoTech if they liked. At this Harsol and the woman (obviously this Kratala he’d mentioned) said this was best discussed in private and the rest of the people filed out returning to their daily chores.
Kratala was a cybernetics specialist and had refused to work with the burgeoning empire, her friend Harsol had aided her escape but it resulted in them being chased by imperial forces and crashing here before they could link up with Repok’s people. Kratala was keen for us to take her and her team off-planet but Harsol became a little agitated and asked to think it over a day or so. We were given quarters and allowed to stay within the retreat for now.
Next day Kratala offers to show us her work, and gives us a tour, including the Nexus cages. More of the savage big-mouthed cats. We realise that the trio of enhanced cats must have been her work and she freely admits it. While we talk with her we offer to take her to Reom once again but also offer to take her elsewhere if she prefers, but she seems happy enough to stick with her original plan and go to IsoTech and continue her work. In addition to whatever Reom had offered us she says as a mark of her gratitude if we ever need any cybernetics we can come to her.
Whatever she was going to say next is lost as the whole camp is deafened by the deep rumble of a starship passing overhead. From the lines it’s an Imperial scout but we can’t make out any details. It moves on and looks to land close to where our ships are. As the sound of its engines disappear the high-pitched whine of repulsors takes its place and panic hits the compound. Battle droids man the palisade and sentry towers as the other survivors run to take cover in the buildings.
Harsol comes rushing out in an old style combat vest and a bandolier of grenades, and begins shout at us, blaming us for the Imperials appearance. “No, no. It’s my fault. I shouldnt have brought you here, I should have just killed you like the rest” and begins waving his blaster towards us in a shaking hand.
Maybe it was the adrenaline, maybe the fact that I’d missed breakfast, but I wasnt happy to have this nut wave a gun at me so I whipped my blaster up and shot him (on stun setting, he could still be valuable) to shut him up. Quickly we tied him up, shared his grenades out and join the defenders. As we do Kratala comes rushing out holding a datapad and a blast pistol and runs to the Nexu cage. Putting her hand on the latch she cries out “Its us or them, I’ll not serve the Empire!”. Una quickly convinces her that we wont let that happen but freeing the Nexu would likely kill her friends as well. So she agrees to let us try to deal with it first.
We are able to make out several small probe droids approaching while hearing the approach of a number of speeder bikes, at the thought of stealing one of those Una rigs one of the grenades to a detonator under a stack of chopped trees. The probe droids arrive and T’su and myself lead the battle droids in shooting them down, with only one heavily damaged one escaping before the others are blown to bits, though worryingly we realise that several of the battle droids hadn’t fired a shot, despite pulling their triggers.
We can’t spend further pondering this as the speeder bikes arrive, 5 ridden by imperial scouts in black armour and another with an officer wearing the uniform of the ISB.
The officer says his name is Ossnan and he wants to speak to whoever is in charge, not us sprawl rats. We tell him that the compounds leaders have been injured during the probes attacks and we’re left in charge.
“No matter,” he says, “all we want is the Sa Nalaor survivors. You may leave in peace.” this guy oozes smarminess like a Gamorrean sweats. Thankfully they’ve parked nice and close to the hidden grenade and Una triggers the blast. Shrapnel, splintered wood and bits of the nearest speeder bike fly everywhere, taking down 2 of the scouts, another bike and knocking Ossnan senseless.
T’su and myself open fire with our rifles but the scouts armour is the equal of our own and it takes several shots to take them down, during which one of the imperial troops scores a good shot on me, almost taking off the battlements. However, by the end of it we’re the ones left standing, and with 3 shiny speeder bikes too. I take the helmet from the scout that shot me, adding it to my growing collection.
Kratala helps us convince the others to come with us and we begin the arduous journey through the jungle. Una taps into the imperial communications and we’re able to discover they’re from the ISB scout ship Deep Dark. We realise there should be another 5 troopers and a pilot, most likely guarding our ships against our escape, and I get another of my rare ideas.
Donning the scout helmet I race ahead on my bike, skidding to a halt before the guarding scouts. With all the guile I can muster I tell them that comms are down and Ossnan needs reinforcements quickly. There’s not time to waste and I lead them back through the jungle. The morons follow without question and once we reach the area of the tree octopi I hit the accelerator and leave them behind.
While I’m doing this T’su boards the Deep Dark and attempts to sneak up on the pilot, but realising that trooper armour isnt made for stealth he changes his mind a simply charges aboard to gank the flyer.
Regrouping with Una we use the bikes to ferry people more quickly to the ships and spread amongst the three before taking off and heading for rendezvous on Ryein. There we decide that most of the survivors want to go their own way so we let them take the Deep Dark and the Krayt Fang, while Kratala and her team stay with us and we refuel ready to continue on to Raxus and IsoTech.
Another great session ended, and several new options available to us to spend our xp on. With my scoundrel taking more and more of a combat role I decided to take a second specialization as a Mercenary, giving me access to several more class skills including Ranged-Heavy which I improved to aid my shooting with my rifle. I was also able to take Toughened, improving my wound threshold a little. While I was doing this I realised I had the Side Step talent and had totally forgotten to use it during the fight with the scouts – doh!