In the Hand of the Empire
As our heroes disembark from the Imperial troop transport onto the hangar deck of the Valiant, ‘kindly’ escorted by squads of Stormtroopers, they hear the roar of Wookies.
In the further part of the hangar, a band of Wookies, including a little cub, are being escorted into the dark insides of the Imperial capital ship – Frobacca roars back but his rage must be contained, he knows he cannot fight so many troopers.
The party is escorted to their quarters, individual cells, spartan but clean. They are fed, and provided time to rest and recuperate, including medical services, but they are constraint to their quarters for nearly 4 days. During that time, they can feel the the Valiant jump into hyperspace, and out… where may they be orbiting now?
A Revealing Dinner
On the evening of the 4th day, Wes, Leon and Vurt are ‘invited’ to dine with Marek. Entering the spartan dining room, a breathtaking view welcome them. Through the tranparisteel window can be seen a frozen world of snow and ice, with its blue hue of an atmosphere. A transport ship is be seen leaving the Valiant for the ice world.
Wes, Leon and Vurt are wary of this dinner, and wonder where their companions are. Marek quickly let it drop, Jeek’Tal and Frobacca are still detained, surely “creatures such as themselves are not leading this group – only you could do so"…
Marek is actually impressed how the party dealt with the Hutt and the Imperial renegades. He goes on explaining how the Stim Soldiers were draftees into a special program to create Super Soldiers. To capture them was not the goal of Marek’s mission, nor was the Hutt, but they both certainly were the icing on the cake. The primary goal was to uncover the corruption rampant within the Imperial Navy, and make an example of corrupted soldiers dealing in spice and with criminals such as the Hutts.
Marek continues that he could use more men such as our heroes. He is in need of a quick reaction team that would operate within the boundary of the law, but independently of the usual Imperial bureaucracy, a team that could inflitrate the underworld. His current pressing need is to infiltrate an Imperial frigate whose officers and troops have seceded and fled in wild space.
Wes’s rage boils inside of him. He barely can contain himself and not jump to the throat of the ISB soldier, but can’t hide his distaste for the methods. The mean may have been achieved, and the goal of getting rid of corruption ring a chord with the marshall… but the methods are certainly not honorable from a member of the law. Wes feel used and violated. Leon and Vurt however calm the situation, and politely enquire as to the fine points of the deal, if deal there was. They are worried, but understand time need to be gained.
Meanwhile. that same evening, Jeek’Tal and Frobacca are being escorted toward another part of the ship. They arrive at a medical facility, where other aliens are gathered, notably the Wookies. All are in line, and an Imperial doctor is injecting every one of them. Those who protest are being forced by Troopers.
The trooper states that the injection are the the aliens own good, to resist the rigor of the ice world where they are sent. Sent to do what? The Empire has banned slavery, yet it is injecting those aliens and sending them to ‘work’ on the ice world?
When Jeek’Tal and Frobacca turns come to be injected, an ensign arrives running and stop the doctor – “Marek’s orders, those two are needed elsewhere”. The doctor is furious! “How can he be refused the two perfect specimens, healthy, already trained in combat, versus the rabble he is given to work with”.
The doctor has a distinctive accent but neither Frobacca nor Jeek’Tal are familiar with it. Pissed off by the order, he turns towards the young Wookie female and the cub. The doctor snickers while two guards kick her in the head from the back, and shove off the cub. “Females and cubs are not to be injected. Yet. Throw that rabble of my view with those other two”. Jeek’tal and Frobacca eyes could kill, but in the moment, with so many guards, and unharmed, they know they cannot do anything…. and let themselves be dragged back… to a new, much bigger cell, no, not a cell, a suite, and quite comfortable one. What is going on?.
Leon and Vurt have not promised anything, but to think about the deal. Wes is fuming as the three are escorted back to a suite, quite a comfortable one, as token of recognition from Marek. There they meet their companions, Jeek’Tal, Frobacca, and AV. The later was given a basic repair by Imperial engineers, another token of recognition.
After exchanging what transpired in the past few days, the party is at a loss as to what do. It seems there have little choice but to work for Marek.
Dinner is being brought by droid servants, under the careful watch of guards. Upon delivering the tray, all leave promptly. When converging on the food however, the party finds a data pad.
￼His Excellency, the all-powerful Muraga, sends his regards. His Excellency has used his vast influence to determine that you are currently being held aboard the Imperial Frigate, Valiant. His Excellency is displeased by the betrayal of his former Imperial partners, and His Excellency does not take betrayal lightly.
In an attempt to show this truth to your captors, His Excellency has arranged to have you released from your cells during the nightly shift. His Excellency’s contact aboard has also determined that your cargo ship is currently docked in a secure hold aboard the Valiant, as well. Your skills have not gone unnoticed by his all-powerful and all-knowing Excellency, and he is confident you shall prevail in your escape.
However, in repayment for this inestimable boon granted to you by His Excellency, you are also requested to locate and free the leader of the saboteur group whom the Imperials also captured, and whom has been harrying His Excellency’s operations for months. His Excellency has much to discuss with this individual. Not only will His Excellency reward you immensely for this task, but will also forgive his outrage towards you for deceiving him to begin with.
You are, of course, free to decline, and remain in Imperial custody. Your cell doors will open tonight. Be ready.
After reading the intriguing message, the datapad begins to grow warm, It is instinctively dropped to the floor as tiny sparks fly from the device and the screen cracks, rendering it useless.
Now the party has a choice. They can work with Marek, or accept the help of the Hutt and be indebted to him. It is a difficult decision, and our heroes debate it with passion. Jeek’Tal argues that the Hutts are to be more trusted than the Empire. Their code is strange, but there is one. Leon and Wes however are less thrilled. They have no love for the Empire, but the Hutts are definitely criminals.
Time to decide! That night, after lights-out, the party’s cell doors mysteriously open. They are greeting by a slight man in a junior-grad lieutenant’s uniform, who tells them that the detention guards have all been removed from this area due to a suspected reactor leak; and they have about 30 minutes before anyone gets suspicious and comes to check. He also points silently to a storage locker dragged into the cell hallway. Before leaving, he turns around: “I had to risk a lot to do this. Tell Muraga that my debt to him is paid.”
Jeek’Talk and Frobacca move firsts into the corridor, the others soon follow. Being in debt to a Hutt is not much better than working for an ISB agent, but options are indeed scarce.
After re-equipping themselves, our heroes start moving through the ship. Forbacca successfully slices in a nearby computer and learn of the general layout, notably where is Stim detained, the location of the Medical facility, and the hangar where their ship and freedom can be found.
Jeek’Tal and Frobacca are dead set to track the Doctor, kill him and free the aliens. Leon advocates for patience, to steal uniforms first, but Jeek’Tal and Frobacca are not in the mood for subtleties, and are not even waiting. Leon and Wes do however take the time to sneak in nearby storage and steal low ranking uniforms for themselves.
At the Medical bay, a lone guard is being jumped by a stealthy and deadly Jawa. Blood soon pool the floor of the facility. There is revenge in the air… but the doctor is not here! His cot and office are empty. Notes are founds, referring to his flying this evening to Ice Station Zulu where his experiments are taking place. Experiment SS1 is mechanical, experiment SS2 is chemical, experiment SS3 is biological and recently started. But what are the experiments? What are they for? Revenge is denied, it will have to wait another day.
Coughing can be heard. The party heads toward the sound, and find the Wookies and other aliens imprisoned behind energy cells. All seems in very bad shape, except the female and cub. The Wookies are sweating and shedding profusely. Their eyes have a yellow hue. They can barely move. It is a disheartening sight since our heroes know they simply cannot rescue them. It would be impossible to move them quietly enough. The Wookies understands and point to the cub and female, alive and well. Those two however can be saved!
Disabling the energy lock takes very little time. All the aliens are freed, and weapons are given to them. They may not be able to flee but maybe they’ll die fighting for their lives.
Stim’s Rescue and Escape
Frobacca sliced plans and Leon’s knowledge of Imperial ships permit the party to make it to the high security cell block, and the hangar deck, without being detected.
The party split, Frobacca and Vurt, with the Wookie female and cub, move on toward their ship, but their path is block by Stormtrooper searching the ship, and Marek overseeing the operation. The two of them can’t take such foes, and they decide to remain hidden.
Meanwhile, Leon and Wes, with their uniforms, approach the cell block, obviously well guarded. Their subterfuge works and they convince the sentries that Stim is to be transferred.
pening the door to Stim’s cell, you see the soldier, shirtless, lying on the floor near his bunk and in very bad shape. Bruised and cut, he’s clearly in severe withdrawal at this point, as he struggles to stand up, shaking violently and looking at you with bleary eyes.
Unfortunately, two sentries decide to accompany Stim, Leon and Wes in the elevator. Jeek’Tal remains hidden, ready to act if needed. Upon exciting the elevator, Jeek’Tal reveals himself, forcing the sentries to react and move forward… only to be gunned down from the back by Leon and Wes. Well, Wes’s carbine was on stun, but Leon’s wasn’t – to the detriment of the marshal. Unnecessary killing is not to his liking.
In any case, the party regroups. Jeek’Tal’s stealth skills are no match for the Imperials and the Jawa sneak into the ship to attach the troopers searching inside. The others however wouldn’t be stealthly enough. What to do?
The Maker be thanked! At that opportune moment, an alarm is ringing. There is an alert in the Medical Bay, prisoners have escaped and an insurrection is happening. Marek departs with several troopers, leaving the party ship greatly undefended. The party rushes in, quickly making work of the remaining troopers, and launch into space.
Unfortunately, they have no idea where they are in space, nor their navicomputer has any data on this system. They must carefully calculate the jump, while swarms of Tie Figthers are launching to intercept them.
An intense space battle ensues, where Frobacca must balance the power distributors of the banged up YT-2400 while Wes and Jeek’Tal man the turrets. Leon and Vurt are in the cockpit, piloting and calculating the jump.
Tension is high, and they take heavy damage but finally the calculations are made…
￼Suddenly, you are knocked back into your chairs as you hear the hyperdrive motivator whir to life and that stars blur into white lines as you rocket off into hyperspace, leaving the Imperials far behind. Sharing cheers with your comrades, you hear a soft moan coming from the medical bay.
Growing silent, you look towards the tortured form of Stim. Muraga the Hutt is waiting for you… and you ponder what you all will do now…
What will they do now?
Will they hand over Stim, a victim himself of the Empire, to a miserable fate at the end of the Hutt?
Will Stim even survive the trip, in the withdrawal states he is in?
And what of the Wookies, those they rescued and those they abandoned?
Ice Station and the Doctor will continue their despicable work until they are stopped. As for Marek, he is an unrelentable ISB agent, seeking criminals everywhere, and what are the heroes now, but criminals to the Empire?