11th October 2020
Sunday lunchtime at Vicky's.
Time for the next part of Ares' Star Wars campaign.
Location: The Vengeful Runner.
The crew's journey to Kijimi was uneventful. As The Vengeful Runner decelerated and Pell made the required flight adjustments for orbital entry, he ran a scan on the planet's surface and took a look at the topographical data.
Most of Kijimi was uninhabitable, having an average temperature of minus seventy Celsius. The scan revealed that all of Kijimi's cities and settlements were located within the 'tropics', where the temperature was merely a balmy fifteen below!
"Hmm," said Pell to no one. "It's freezing, so it must be cold.".
Pell set course for the capital - 'Kijimi City' and began atmospheric entry.
The crew watched as Kijimi grew to fill the view ports, the planet seemed entirely lifeless. The apparently endless frozen plains, empty and white were punctuated by rocky featureless mountains and valleys. The Vengeful Runner descended out of a bleakly dim grey sky and arrived at Kijimi City.
The city was entirely covered in an immense dome. After some chatter with the port authorities, The Vengeful Runner was granted landing rights. The massive doors on the dome roof slid open slowly, eventually giving the ship access.
Ship scanners indicated that the temperature beneath the dome was a barely tolerable five Celsius.
Despite being under a dome, Kijimi City was well developed. There were numerous tall buildings that Pell had to navigate before landing the ship at the star port and powering off.
Now that they had arrived, the crew knew what they needed - money!
The ship's entry ramp opened with a distinct hiss as the pressure equalised with the dome, a peculiar, strong smell flooded the ship. The smell of life under a dome!
Robin was the first to leave the ship. The city was a busy place, it buzzed with noise and activity, Robin anonymously slipped into the passing crowds.
She went looking for work, going round and trying all the typical looking places in a unfamiliar city.
She found nothing and eventually in exasperation, went into a smoky bar and out of the cold, bought a drink and found a quiet out of the way corner.
Sitting in her corner and nursing her drink, Robin watched people come and go. Her eyes following the miserable and the happy, the drunk and the sober, slinking or striding their way in and out of the bar.
During this time, she watched several of these people exchange money with the barkeeper - and not for drinks? Robin realised that some sort of other business was going on here.
Maybe Robin was in luck, she went up to the barkeep and let him know that she was looking for work, any work, quick earners, no questions asked.
The barkeep looked Robin over for a moment and then explained he had a job no one local wanted.
Even though Robin knew it was going to be questionable, she did not hesitate in agreeing to it.
Leaning into Robin and trying to gauge her reaction, the barkeep said he had a client who wanted the contents of a particular box that belonged to someone who was like the mayor of a small town called 'Tanim' that was a day's travel out of Kijimi City. The job paid two thousand credits.
Back at The Vengeful Runner, Utri was next to leave. He went and found a 'subspace comm' station. After paying the requisite credits, Utri used the comms to contact a friend he knew on Coruscant and asked for help getting there.
His friend said he would look into it for him and told Utri to check into a hotel called 'The Muse' and wait to be contacted.
M/8 was still aboard the ship, sitting motionless in a chair, he had just completed a self-diagnosis of his memory partition, causing the child-rearing subroutine in his behaviour partition to trigger an alarm. the child-rearing subroutine was calling errors whenever tried to access his memory partition.
His reasoning subroutine deduced that critical child-rearing data was missing from his memory partition, it then instructed M/8 to access the ship's databases on human physiology and child rearing and then to assimilate that data.
Chrisy in the meantime, being something of an engineer was familiarising himself with the ship's systems when his commlink pinged.
Giving a quiet questioning growl and scratching his head, he answered it. Utri was calling him.
Utri instructed him to find a hotel called The muse and book himself into a room. Chrisy growled, scratched his head and gave a shrug; well, Utri was paying the bills.
Being a politician, Utri wasn't as trusting as some. So he had concocted a plan; which involved Chrisy posing as him in the hotel.
Chrisy's long strides quickly took him through the chilly city to the hotel, a tall grey building. He growled and scratched his head at the receptionist until he managed to communicate to that he wanted a room on the fourth floor.
It was a comfortable if plain room, well insulated from the cold and well stocked with a mini bar.
Unbeknown to Chrisy, Utri had positioned himself in another hotel just across the street from The Muse and was watching its entrance in case any visitors came for him - in which case they'd find Chrisy instead.
Shortly after Chrisy had left, Robin returned. She spoke with M/8 and Pell, explaining that she had a job that needed doing. It was too far to walk to Tanim in these freezing conditions. The Vengeful Runner could get there in a tiny fraction of the time.
"Hmm," said Pell to Robin and M/8. "Chrisy and Utri aren't here, I'm sure we'll be back before they even know!".
Despite the harsh, unrelenting temperatures and perennially grey skies, Kijimi's climate was quite stable and the flight to Tanim was short and simple.
Tanim was a small town, too small to warrant a dome of its own. The snow covered uniformly grey buildings looked plain, square and utilitarian. A cluster of seemingly almost identical slabs of concrete.
Pell landed The Vengeful Runner as close to Tanim as he could.
Robin told Pell to stay with the ship. She didn't say it aloud, but she didn't want Pell and his big mouth with her when she retrieved the object - whatever it was?
"Hmm," said Pell to himself. "I'm so useful, they need to leave me at the ship!".
Before leaving. M/8's situational scan registered the exterior temperature and his child-rearing subroutine warned that it was too low for Wilfred. Instructed by the child-rearing subroutine, M/8 wrapped Wilfred up tightly in thick blankets.
Robin and M/8, along with Wilfred trudged through the uneven snow and ice towards the Tanim.
It was clear that the townsfolk here rarely saw travellers and they asked Robin what business had bought her to Tanim.
Robin explained that they were just passing through and looking for a rest. The townsfolk pointed them in the direction of one of the anonymous grey slabs.
Inside it was large, but a unremarkable windowless room, weakly lit by inadequate fluorescents and filled with numerous sets of tables and chairs. Along one wall stretched a serving counter.
They overcharged for the drinks and baby food. M/8's child-rearing subroutine was warning him that Wilfred needed nourishment, Robin and M/8 sat at a table while M/8 fed Wilfred.
Robin was slumped in her chair as nondescriptly as possible and watching the people. The room was mostly empty, a few people sat at tables chatting or eating and occasionally giving Robin and M/8 glances. No one here looked like the sort of person who would be a mayor.
Eventually Robin gathered up the courage to talk to the townsfolk. Pleasantries and small talk were exchanged, Robin managed to ask one of the townsfolk who the mayor was? Tanim had no mayor came the reply, but Robin did learn that the town had a leader of sorts, a young woman called 'Kerna'. Subtly, Robin managed to press the locals for some more information about Kerna.
Robin also learnt that this building served as a town communal living area, the townsfolk had their personal quarters somewhere in this building.
Robin needed a distraction, so M/8's triggered his child-rearing subroutine and began changing Wilfred's nappy! At the same time, Robin asked where the facilities were as she needed a bathroom break.
While M/8 and Wilfred were distracting people, Robin headed off to the bathroom but discreetly slipped away instead.
Robin quietly and quickly found the residential area and then found Kerna's rooms. She managed to gain entry without a problem and began searching.
Soon enough she found a box matching the description given to her. As she was reaching for it, she heard a voice behind her and froze, slowly she turned!
At the door into Kerna's quarters was a man. He looked at Robin for a moment.
"If you take the box, then the owner will miss it. Better to take what's inside," he remarked.
"What do you know about this?" replied Robin.
"I know that you came here to steal it,".
Robin was naturally suspicious and the man was acting particularly strange. Even so, he did not seem concerned at her theft. Robin opened the box, inside was what she recognised as a Jedi medal.
"It's better that you take it," He remarked.
This was the second Jedi medal the crew had encountered. The first medal had been given to M/8 by Wilfred's mother in her dying moments. However, this had slipped Robin's mind. She pocketed the medal without a second thought and left. The man did not follow.
Robin returned to the communal area, collected M/8 without any fuss and returned to The Vengeful Runner. The return journey to Kijimi City was as uneventful as the outbound one.
As Pell was setting down at the star port, he glanced out of a view port and saw The Mandalorian! The bounty hunter was busy talking to the dock-master, who appeared to be drawing a map for him?
Luckily, The Mandalorian had not been paying any attention to ships landing at the port and failed to notice The Vengeful Runner, or perhaps he wasn't aware that this was the crew's new ship.
Once the ship had landed, Pell kept the entry ramp closed, Robin and M/8 stayed inside and watched. They waited a few minutes and there was no sign of Utri or Chrisy and no sign of where they had gone.
During these minutes, they also saw an Imperial shuttle coming in to land at the port. It's ramp opened and ranks of Imperial stormtroopers came spilling out.
Technically The Empire had no jurisdiction on Kijimi, but when squads of heavily armed shock troops make an appearance, they tended to get what they wanted.
At The Muse hotel, Chrisy had relaxed somewhat, hours had passed and everything seemed calm. Chrisy was completely unaware of any danger when he heard the click of the room's door being opened by the hotel owner, behind the owner were stormtroopers!
Chrisy lurched for his blaster and fired off a few wild shots as he ran for the window. Growling and scratching his head in disbelief, he dived through, unfortunately he was on the fourth floor!
Meanwhile, Utri was still in the hotel across from The Muse. He had been watching as out of the blue Imperial soldiers charged into the building. He tried to warn Chrisy on the commlink, but there was no response?
Utri was considering his next move - going into The Muse was too dangerous; when he heard blaster fire and flashing light coming from a fourth floor window. A moment later he saw Chrisy bursting through the glass!
Chrisy desperately grabbed the ledge and swung there for a moment, his furry legs dangling over a four storey drop. There were mere seconds before the stormtroopers reached the window, Chrisy had no choice, he let go.
Half falling and half sliding, Chrisy tumbled downwards, the ground rushing up to meet him. He hit the ground in a heap with an audible thud, luckily he had only suffered a superficial injury. Swaying a little, he got to his feet, growling and scratching his head.
Utri had watched all of this unfold as he had been communicating with Pell at the ship. He told Pell that the two of them needed to be picked up and quickly, Pell told him that he would soon be there. Utri ran out to join Chrisy, the two of them ran off, just as the stormtroopers were exiting the hotel.
As they were leaving, Utri and Chrisy saw The Mandalorian - he was chasing Pell down the other end of the road! They were confused, this seemed to be impossible, Utri had just been talking to Pell at the ship just moments ago.
In the heat of the moment, Utri and Chrisy had forgotten that Pell told them he might have a double!
They weren't the only ones who were confused. The stormtroopers stopped running for a moment. They then split into two groups, half chased Utri and Chrisy and half chased The Mandalorian, who was chasing Pell's double - Coron.
Meanwhile, at The Vengeful Runner, Pell was powering the ship up, activating all the systems and warming the engines. Within a minute or so, the dashboard was flashing all green, an increase in thrust and the ship took off.
The city's smaller buildings fell away, giving Pell a better view, he peered throughout the city streets.
"Hmm," he said to the crew. "Something is always hard to see until it isn't!".
After searching hard, The Vengeful Runner's crew spotted activity on the streets close to The Muse, they could see Utri and Chrisy being chased by a band of Imperial stormtroopers.
Pell nudged the ship towards the closest open space to his fleeing companions and gingerly decreased altitude until it the ship was almost grazing the ground. Then he opened the entry ramp.
As they were fleeing the stormtroopers, Utri and Chrisy could see The Vengeful Runner hovering above, it effortlessly moved ahead of them and dropped low, the ramp also lowering. This was their escape route.
The Imperials behind them realised what was going on and opened fire with their blasters.
Blaster shots flew past the fleeing pair, harmlessly bouncing off The Vengeful Runner's hull, leaving it barely marked.
Growling through gritted teeth and scratching his head, Chrisy sprinted for The Vengeful Runner with all his effort and jumped aboard.
Utri was just behind Chrisy, unable to keep pace with the wookiee's long strides. As he leapt aboard the ship he took a glancing blaster shot from the Imperials. Whilst it was just a flesh would, Utri's posterior would never be quite the same again..!
When both were aboard, Pell closed the entry ramp. The pursuing stormtroopers continued to pepper The Vengeful Runner with ineffective blaster shots.
Pell then bought the ship around and angled it for the massive doors in the dome. He could see them slowly closing, no doubt under under duress from the Imperials.
Pell increased thrust and The Vengeful Runner streaked out of the dome before they closed.
Pell continued accelerating away on an escape trajectory, increasing altitude all the time as the rest of the crew gripped their seats in the rattling cockpit.
He knew the next part would be tricky: He had seen the Imperials landing in a shuttle; they never went anywhere in just a shuttle, this meant that there had to be a Star Destroyer out there somewhere, up above in orbit.
Pell maintained the same vector until Kijimi City had disappeared over the horizon in the aft viewscreen. Hopefully the Imperials in the city would report to the Star Destroyer that The Vengeful Runner was leaving the planet and that's where they would search.
Instead Pell sharply banked the ship, changed heading and began descending, meanwhile the crew ran a topographical scan of the surface until they found what they were looking for.
There it was; a deep. uninhabited rocky valley in the cold zone, ice covered and deep enough to be impenetrable to Imperial scans. The Vengeful Runner dipped into the valley and a suitable landing spot was found.
After Pell set down, he powered off all non essential systems and relaxed. The temperature outside was minus seventy, but it was nothing that the ship couldn't cope with.
The crew hoped it would be enough to avoid the scans and the Imperials would think they had somehow escaped Kijimi. They decided that they would have to wait here for a couple of planetary rotations in case the Imperials persisted in their searching.
The time did not pass quickly. With the engines turned off, other than the gentle hum of life support, the ship was eerily silent sitting in the desolate ice wastes. Every step and movement in this stillness seemed as loud as shattering glass.
Robin was quietly impatient to return to Kijimi City, eventually she explained that she was expecting to be paid for delivering the medal to someone in the city.
When the medal was shown to the rest of the crew, they recognised it as similar to the medal that M/8 had in his possession.
The owner of the second medal might know about the owner of the first one and it might lead to him, the crew had a chance to find Wilfred's father.
There seemed no choice but to return to Tanim.
When the time was up, the ship's full systems were activated and the engine's familiar background rumble returned.
It seemed that the plan had worked, the return to Tanim was uneventful, lacking any sign of Imperial instrusion.
Pell landed the ship as close to Tanim's cluster of buildings as possible. The crew disembarked and headed to the communal area and were met by a young woman - Kerna.
"Have you come to apologise?" Kerna said to Robin.
Reluctantly, Robin handed the medal back to Kerna.
"So the old man is now paying people to steal the medal," Kerna continued.
The crew explained that they knew nothing about any old man. Kerna then told them that this old man had come to Tanim from Kijimi City to acquire the medal, she had refused to give it away or sell it, the medal had sentimental value to her. Instead he resorted to stealing it, but got caught and was given a beating and sent on his way.
The crew spoke with Kerna at length, they discovered that her medal actually belonged to someone called 'Val'. After pushing Kerna for more information, she admitted that Val was her brother.
Kerna had been evasive about the medal and what it might represent. The crew thought that it might be worthwhile talking to this mysterious old man. If he wanted the medal, he must've known something about it.
Utri spoke with Kerna, he managed to convince her to accompany the crew to the Kijimi City and speak with the old man.
The crew were hesitant to return to the capital, there might be people waiting for them. In the end they decided to return to Kijimi City, but not by the air - The Vengeful Runner would be easily recognised. Instead they would travel overland.
This was not as simple as it sounded. There were no land vehicles in Tanim and only some local beasts of burden. Otherwise it was a day's walk through the ice and snow at a constant temperature of fifteen below!
In the end, the crew were more or less forced to buy overpriced winter clothing pay over the odds for some animals to ride into Kijimi City.
The journey was both quiet and strange. Whilst riding the beasts, the crew huddled down in their bulky clothing, concentrating on steeling themselves against the biting cold and shielded their eyes from the painful reflective gleam of the white landscape.
Very little activity happened outside of the protective confines of settlements, they arrived at Kijimi City without mishap.
The crew did not have any problems finding the old man, Kerna knew where he could be found.
When they first met the old man, he pointedly stared at Wilfred.
The crew had a conversation with the old man, they wanted to know why he had an interest interest in Kerna's medal, but he was evasive and revealed very little.
The crew did learn that there were about twelve medals awarded to Jedi at the same time at a ceremony and each medal represents a different quality. The old man gave a list of these names to the crew.
The list only had eleven names and none of them seemed anything like Val.
The conversation went on until it eventually bored Pell, who then put all the cards on the table!
"Hmm," said Pell to the old man. "If you don't want to tell about that medal, maybe you'll tell us about this one?"!
Up until Pell's outburst, nothing had been said about M/8's medal. Not to Kerna ans not to the old man.
When he saw the second medal, the old man said that he could track the owner down, but the crew would have to trust him with the medal for about a month.
As the crew were considering their next auction; during one of his regular situational scans, M/8 registered an anomalous behaviour in Kerna. His reasoning subroutine confirmed it: Kerna did not blink.
There was no data in his memory partition that confirmed the this was a type of human behaviour? M/8's reasoning subroutine calculated that there was a probability that this indicated that Kerna might not be human.
M/8 had insufficient data to proceed. His behaviour subroutine instructed him to turn to the rest of the crew and ask. "Do humans blink often?".
The crew didn't know what to make of it?
The crew were unsure on how to proceed and wanted a discussion about the proposal. Kerna outright refused, stating that she did not trust him. Then she left.
Utri in particular also did not trust the old man. Before the crew could come to any consensus, an old woman came in the room just after Kerna had left.
"I told you to leave her alone," she said to the old man.
He turned to her and replied. "I didn't do anything Val!".
Reading, writing, playing and painting are the things that I do.