Episode XI: Dark Memories
It has been two months since you successfully raided the hidden Imperial research facility on the strip-mined world of 244Core and defeated the fallen Jedi, Sage Wyvene.
Although your two groups parted ways, you have each recently received a telepathic message from Sage Wyvene consisting of three words: “Return”, “Answers”, “Vision”. You have all arrived at the Stellar Horizon seeking answers to the dreams that still haunt you.
A young New Republic officer appears at each of your quarters and leads you to the briefing room where Canderous Pags, Chief of Security aboard the New Republic vessel, awaits you…
As the heroes enter the briefing room they are greeted by Canderous Pags, the Bothan Chief of Security aboard the Stellar Horizon. He thanks them for their contributions to the efforts of the New Republic in keeping the Imperial Remnant from making serious progress in the Unknown Regions. Using the data that the group returned from the Imperial facility and the intelligence given by Sage Wyvene after her return, New Republic forces have been one step ahead of the Imperials.
He informs the group that Sev will be joining them shortly as he was delayed on a fact-finding mission in the Unknown Regions. Once the group is settled in one of the officers activates the Holoterminal connection to the Endor facility and Sage Wyvene’s image flickers to life above the terminal. She appears much more serene than the last time the group saw her. Clad in the simple robes of a Jedi initiate she humbly apologizes to the group for her actions and begs their forgiveness. As she prepares to give the group the information that brought them all together again, however, the signal begins to distort and cut out. Through static and interference the group hears her mention the Imperial research vessel that has remained hidden in the Unknown Regions. Fear crosses her face as the sound of blaster fire can be heard from off screen and she recoils in horror as a small, furry figure launches itself at her before the signal cuts out entirely.
After a moment of shock the control room explodes into action, Canderous Pags shouts orders to get the signal back and tells the group to make their way to Endor as quickly as possible. Before the group leaves for the hangar bay, Numinov drops into a kneeling meditation position and reaches out with his Farseeing ability. He is able to see that Sage is alive and watches as she is dragged down a darkened facility corridor by two Ewoks. Spattered blood marks the walls and he can feel Sage’s terror before he snaps back to reality and informs the group that she is alive but in danger.
The heroes rush to the Hangar Bay and find an old shuttle prepped and ready for launch. The Mandalorian, Khorvash, leaps behind the controls and launches the ship from the hangar bay, immediately jumping to hyperspace. As the group gathers around the cockpit there is a sizzle and pop followed by loud cursing. Crawling out of one of the access hatches is a Twi’lek wearing a mechanic’s outfit. She introduces herself as Aayla’Bonduna, one of the Stellar Horizons engineers, and informs the group that she was working on fixing the hyperdrive when they fired it up, giving her a shock and blowing several fuses that will need to be replaced (again) when they get back to the Stellar Horizon. They explain the situation to her and she excitedly asks if she can join in the mission because she’s been trying to get assigned to one of the explorer teams for months. After showing off the twin modified heavy blasters she keeps in her toolkit, the group agrees that she might be handy in a fight and agree to let her accompany them.
Because of the short distance between Bakura, where the Stellar Horizon is located, and Endor, the journey takes a short 30 minutes before they drop out of hyperspace. The New Republic has been working to repair the devastation on Endor caused by the falling debris from the second Death Star. The Endor Restoration Project has been the subject of a large Public Relations campaign so everyone has seen the pictures but seeing the damage in person is something else. The once lush and green moon is covered in pock marks of dirty gray and brown where large sections of the station flattened miles-wide swaths of the thick forest. Although there does seem to be some vegetation growth in these areas it is obvious that it will be decades, if not centuries, before the massive forests fully recover.
Once they drop out of hyperspace the group receives a message from Canderous Pags with the location of the facility where Sage was working. After her trial by the Jedi Tribunal she was assigned to work as a part of the restoration effort in the hope that she would benefit from healing the forest as well as herself. Pags also indicates that a security forces team already arrived at the facility but contact was lost almost immediately. The group now needs to locate Sage, find the security team, and rescue any scientists they come across.
As they approach the Restoration Station 3148 they see a large storm system approaching the area. The station is located on the edge of one of the largest craters. Unlike the other impact sites, there doesn’t seem to be any sort of renewed growth occurring in the area and it remains a 25 kilometer swath of dirty gray.
When they reach the facility, rain has already begun falling in thick sheets making the landing difficult. Khorvash expertly circles the area, avoiding the massive and ancient trees the facility is built onto, and the group sees the airspeeder that the security forces arrived in. It hangs over the side of the landing pad at a sharp angle, massive dents covering the sides, and as they watch it slides off in a shower of sparks and crashes to the forest below. Khorvash brings the ship in and sets it down gently on the flooded landing pad.
Numinov reaches out with the force to examine the surrounding area for signs of Sage Wyvene and finds a great deal of Dark Side energy in the area. He senses several beings on the landing pad, more inside the facility, and a powerful nexus of Dark Side energy as well as the presence of Sage Wyvene from the direction of the impact zone. After receiving his warning, Creed preps his armor and weapons and lowers the ramp of the shuttle onto the slickened surface of the landing pad. Bending over to shift his eight-foot bulk through the exit, Creed begins clomping his way towards the entrance of the facility where Numinov sensed two points of Dark Side energy. The other Mandalorian, Khorvash, rushes to take a covering position behind the landing gear of the ship but manages to just avoid running face-first into a gigantic centipede-like creature that was sneaking across the underside of the ship. As he moved to engage it the rest of the crew rushed to the ramp and saw that there were three more of these insects scuttling towards them! Although the vile creatures were formidable, and poisonous, they were no match for sustained blaster fire.
During the battle, Creed attempted to engage one of the centipedes but was distracted as he was pelted with crude arrows. He scanned the area and a flash of lightning revealed two Ewoks hiding behind a group of storage crates. After the other three were dispatched the creature fighting Creed fled as fast as its many, many legs could carry it, disappearing over the lip of the landing pad. Deprived of his prey, Creed stomped over to where he had seen one of the Ewoks hiding and, before it could react, cleaved it in two with his Mythosaur axe. The Ewok’s companion let out a terrified squeak and fled through the doors of the facility into the darkness within.
The group gathered around the body and saw that the Ewok was definitely suffering from some sort of corruption. Its normally soft and adorable visage was twisted almost beyond recognition with red eyes, teeth filed to tearing points, and large patches of missing fur from a mange-like disease. Thoroughly disgusted, the group made their way into the darkened facility and followed the corridor to what appeared to be a storage area.
Streaks of blood are smeared across the floor and it appears that the Ewoks had been dipping their stubby hands into the smears to write on the walls. Cryptic phrases, written in basic, caused worry among the group as the Ewoks had never learned Basic. The content of the phrases was also chilling as the Ewoks had written things like, “goooooooooooood”, “feel your anger”, “let the hate flow through you”, “you will die”.
Leading out of the area were three doors labeled “Living Quarters”, “Labs/Research”, and “Operations”. The group headed for the Operations room to look for information on what had happened during the attack. Approaching the door they saw that the room was completely dark and the deep red emergency lighting system seemed to have been damaged. Sweeping the area with light from their glow rods they saw that the room had been covered in some sort of sticky webbing and that many of the panels had been destroyed in the fighting. In the center of the room they saw five humanoid shapes thickly wrapped in web-cocoons and covered in pulsating green eggsacks. Creed immediately moves to cut the closest figure from the webbing and bursts one of the small egg-sacs on his armor causing it to start sizzling and smoking. The group realizes that they must carefully cut away the egg sacs to avoid harming whoever is inside.
While the rest of the group tends to the cocooned victims, Aayla’Bonduna moves to the computers and manages to get a powered interface hooked up between her datapad and the facility’s power systems allowing her to reactivate some of the emergency generators and bringing up the lights and several security cameras. Reviewing the recordings from the time of the attack she sees that a large number of Ewoks managed to sneak into the facility and quickly subdue all the scientists as well as Sage Wyvene. They also made short work of the Security Forces team that arrived shortly afterwards and dragged most of the personnel down to a speeder hangar on the forest floor beneath the facility before dragging them out into the rain and disappearing.
Alena Fane, the Jal Shey Initiate, used her surgical skills to expertly remove the webbing and egg sacs from the scientists, only causing minor damage to two of them. The scientists had been paralyzed by the toxin from the centipede creatures but a quick dose of anti-venom was able to revive them. One of the victims was actually the lead scientist at the research station and the group quickly questioned him about what had happened. He explained that the Ewoks attacked out of nowhere but there had been signs that something was happening to them for a while. Despite their best efforts they had not been able to make any progress in stimulating new growth in the area so the scientists theorized that there was some sort of contamination from the wreckage in the center of the impact zone. The Ewok’s village was within the zone and only a small number of them had made it out. The scientists tried to explain that the area was dangerous but the Ewoks had been seen sneaking in on several occasions.
The past few months, however, the Ewoks had been becoming more aggressive until finally they disappeared completely. The scientists also noticed that they were seeing larger and larger specimens of the centipede creatures that the Ewoks called Strahka. Then, a few days ago, one of the probes that monitored the impact zone for illegal salvagers had caught the Ewoks building a new village inside of the large piece of Death Star wreckage at the heart of the devastation. The attack came a few days afterwards.
The lead scientist tells the group that the others were taken and that each of them wears an emergency locator to facilitate rescue if they ever got injured or lost out in the forest. The group gets the frequency and his keycard before securing the scientists in the operations room and heading down to the speeder bay. The group finds three A-A5 speeder trucks converted into mobile ecological research stations and takes two of them, speeding off into the rain-lashed darkness.
As they speed through the impact zone they see that the scientists were correct about how dead the landscape was. Even normal decomposition of the dead trees caught in the blast seems to have slowed and the area is a muddy graveyard of vegetation. The rain softens the earth and flows towards the center of the crater, turning from small streams to raging torrents as it goes. As the group approaches the center they see that a large lake has formed and in the middle, looming out of the darkness, is a massive and twisted piece of the shattered Death Star. Their keen eyes pick out the glow of firelight coming from the remains of a large hangar and Numinov senses that the Dark Side corrupted Ewoks are gathered deeper inside the structure. Landing the two speeder trucks in the remnants of the hangar bay, the group sees that the Ewoks have created a small village in the wreckage using mud to erect crude huts around a large fire pit.
Off to the side the group spots a large cage built out of the twisted and petrifying branches from some of the dead trees in the area. A quick examination shows that a large number of people were held inside, based on the pools of drying blood, and a spattered trail of blood drops indicates they were moved a short while ago and taken down a corridor towards where the Ewoks are gathered.
Aayla’Bonduna and Khorvash sneak ahead of the group to scout out the area and manage to avoid an Ewok left behind to patrol the area before arriving at the gathering place of the Ewoks. What they see chills Aayla’bonduna’s blood as she recognizes the Death Star throne room of the Emperor from the old holovid documentaries. Gathered around a large bonfire in the lowest portion of the room are the corrupted Ewoks that Numinov sensed. On the next level, guarded by more Ewoks, are the captured scientists and security team members. Finally, in the very back of the room and tied to the remains of the Emperor’s throne, is Sage Wyvene herself, eyes wide in terror and darting around the room in a panicked fashion. Behind her, strung up with a series of crude ropes is a twisted piece of metal plating about five feet in diameter. The plating seems to have been imbedded with a shadow in the shape of a cloaked figure and with a sickening sense of realization; the two scouts understand that the Ewoks are worshipping the dark remains of the dreaded Emperor Palpatine!
Will our heroes rescue Sage Wyvene? What message did she have for them about the mysterious Imperial research ship? How did the primitive Ewoks uncover the remains of the most feared man in the entire galaxy? All this and more on the next Episode!!!