Dawn of Defiance gets Savaged

04) DoD - Traitor's Gambit

The heroes board the Banshee and take off for Felucia on the prison break mission. They are cautiously optimistic about the mission, but like that it will be more lucrative, and that they will be harming the Empire in at least some small way.

As the blue tunnel of hyperspace fades away and the pinpoints of stars fill the windows of the cockpit, the group gets a brief glimpse of the planet Felucia hanging just below the ship. Almost instantly their eyes are then drawn to the dagger-shaped starship looming ahead of them—an Imperial Star Destroyer.

“Hold on,” Captain O’keefe says, “We’re in for a bumpy ride.” With that, the captain slams the control stick forward, sending the ship tumbling rapidly into the atmosphere of the planet. As the Banshee passes through the thin cloud layer, they get a good look at the fungal swamps and jungles of Felucia, where towering mushrooms reach up into the air like skyscrapers. It would be beautiful if it weren’t rushing up at them so quickly.

Eventually, Captain O’keefe pulls the ship out of its dive, a move accompanied by the sounds of metal shearing from somewhere in the rear of the ship. The transport lurches, nearly throwing each of the heores to the ground, and dips sickeningly down toward the fungal canopy. Another massive bump jostles the ship before the captain brings the vessel to a screeching halt, resting deep within the mushroom jungles.

When the dust settles, Captain O’keefe and Crash quickly move around the interior of the ship, assessing the damage and ensuring that no one is injured. After a few minutes, the captain opens the hatch and steps outside into the jungle. The thick, humid air seeps into the ship almost immediately, and soon she returns with less than stellar news. While the Banshee has survived the landing mostly intact, it won’t be taking off any time soon. O’keefe thinks she can make the repairs, and fortunately the ship is hidden by the Felucian jungle’s canopy. However, she cannot give the heroes an estimate of when the work will be done. She suggests that the group make their way through the jungle toward the prison. The ship’s navigational systems brought the vessel down near the prison facility, so it shouldn’t take them more than a day or so to trek through the jungle and discover the ultimate fate of Admiral Varth.

Our group assesses their gear and equipment, and takes on some supplies from the Banshee to help complete their journey. The captain provides the group with the directions to the prison facility, which she uploads into datapads carried by the crew, which gives them the location of the Imperial prison facility and the relative location of the Banshee so they can make their way back.

Their first steps onto the soil of Felucia make it clear that this planet is truly alive. Massive mushrooms tower overhead, their overhanging edges creating a canopy that blocks out much of the planet’s sunlight. Every step on Felucian soil turns up insects and other fungi just beneath the surface. The noise of the jungle is loud and alien, full of the sounds of a hundred insects and animals moving through the mushroom swamps, all part of a living and vibrant ecosystem.

The Rodian, ‘Gonzo’ takes point and puts his considerable survival skills to the test, and help the group evade numerous natural hazards including, but not limited to: Acid Pools, Exploding Fungus Blooms, and Razor Mushrooms. Even the sinkhole that the Feeorin Morder fell into was no problem, as the rest of the heroes were able to extract him with minimal effort.

So after 6 hours, our group had progressed far along their path. The cacophony of noise created by insects and other animals makes it nearly impossible to hear the splash of their own footsteps through the Felucian swamp. The open area they start to walk into resembles a large, shallow pool of water with narrow islands rising out of the water, looking like stepping stones that are slightly too far apart to jump across. A faint mist hangs over the swampy ground, drifting over the still pool of water. The group’s keen eyes and wary nature pick up 3 biped forms. Tall and muscular, the bipedal beings seem to be a member of the native Felucian species. A long, slender form of a rancor’s jawbone juts down from the Felucian’s hand, and the scout’s bodies are barely covered by a leafy loincloth. A tangle of tendrils around their faces makes it impossible to see their eyes and the mud and other foliage plastered to their body camouflages them against the backdrop of the swamp.

Before the Miralukan Neth can try to communicate their intention to not being hostile, the Felucian Scouts attack! One manages to close in on Gonzo and nearly plants the Skullblade into the Rodian’s head, while Neth and Morder try to hold off the other scouts. Gonzo is able to return fire and drops his attacker, while Neth battles Lightsaber verses Skullblade, and Morder equips his vibroblade for hand to hand combat as well. Neth and Gonzo are suddenly hit by an intense wave of force emanating from one of the Felucians, stunning them both, while a 4th scout springs up and moves in on Morder…

Suddenly, a man’s voice echoes through the swampy area. “Peace! Please, stop fighting!” He repeats his plea in the strange undulating and gutteral vocal patterns of the Felucians. The scouts seem to recognize the man and take a defensive stance. The heroes decide to hold back as well. The man further introduces himself as Vazus Mandrake. He has a scarred face and stringy gray hair, but seems adept in the Felucian environment. He explains they are at the edge of some territory belonging to this tribe of Felucians, and have been mistaken for Imperial Agents. Vasus offers to take them to their village and translate on their behalf if the group wishes. They accept the help and they move on into the village.

On the outskirts, the party sees stormtrooper armor staked out in effigy, and each of the scouts hits it with their skullblades. Morder repeats the gesture with his own vibrosword, earning the respect of the scouts. The village appears to have been carved almost completely out of the massive mushrooms that dominate the Felucian landscape. Each one looks old and petrified, making the mushroom huts appear far more solid than their still-living counterparts elsewhere in the jungle. In the center of the village, a number of native Felucians gather in a half circle, squatting by a cooking fire and turning to look at the group as they enter. Though the village area has been cleared, small mushrooms and other plants still rise up from the ground, as though the jungle itself resists any attempts at civilization.

Vazus mediates the initial meeting with the chieftain, who looks over each of the heroes in turn, taking a keen interest in Neth, and a wary interest in Morder. The chieftain states he will hold a formal session at dusk, so the heroes are fed and escorted around the village to where Vazus has set up at the edge of camp. They notice in passing a mushroom house full of younglings who seem sick, but as not of the heroes have medical training to offer, they move on without asking further on the situation.

At Mandrakes place, they encounter his small constructed hut with a makeshift coral with 5 Kybucks inside (long legged horse-like mounts). Vazus explains he was in charge of a mercenary group working for the Separatists on Felucia during the clone wars. He advises his unit was destroyed by the clone troopers and he managed to escape and nursed himself back to health. When the war ended and the Empire rose, Mandrake decided to make his home among the Felucians, where he has been living ever since. He still tends the small group of kybucks, and has named them after his former comrades (Phil, Gian, Terrell, Varn, and Mike.). The living mounts were used in lieu of mechanical transport due to the high density of particulates in the air given off by the native flora that would befoul standard speeders and the like.

Mandrake states the chieftain will want to know why they are here if they are not Imperialists, and the more Vazus knows about them, the more helpful he can be as a speaker on their behalf. The heroes reluctantly advise they are here to scout out an Imperial Outpost for possible action. Vazus smiles, and explains the chieftain will want to know about that, and to be prepared to tell the truth, for the chief has an uncanny knack to know truth from lies, even if translated.

That night, the chieftain has a meal in their honor, and then asks why they are here. He is told the truth for the most part. The chieftain in turn tells them they know of this dark place. They have lost scouts that are known to have been taken there, but have no ability to free them. He senses darkness there, and the Dark Ones expand ever outward on their machines. If the heroes intend to travel there, he cautions them. The party asks for guides, but the chieftain is reluctant to send anyone. He will sleep on their request and let them know of his decision, as he doesn’t want to risk any more of his people to that place.

Gonzo and Morder head off to quarters, but Neth stays behind to talk to the chief, intrigued by the ability of the Felucians to use the force without formal ‘training’. He learns they all have the ability to generate Force Energy. The two spend several hours together, learning from each other different ways of using the Force.

Meanwhile, Vazus arrives late at night with Gonzo and Morder with a large duffel bag in tow. He reveals that in his time on Felucia, he has found a new way of life and wishes to remain peaceful, but the prison facility must be destroyed. He shows them what’s in the duffel; a huge explosive charge. He advises the pair he no longer has the courage or determination to use it himself, but he senses the heroes do. He gifts it to them and then leaves…