Shades of the Force

Heralds of Zeron

While the player characters recapture the turbolaser, the Sempi army loyal to Bakla makes an attack upon their landed ships. Tarvik Turbo and his Galactic Circus hold them off to a standstill:

Tarvik Turbo mans a turbolaser (How do you think he got the name?) on the C70 Charger and fires several warning shots over the enemy troops, before finally blasting the city’s bridges over the Galatis River, collapsing them and crippling the enemy’s ability to advance in force.

Iluna, the female Zeltron knife thrower, and her PC friend Liessa lay in wait for an enemy group that did make it across the river, hurling knives and zenji needles into them from hidden positions until they cut their losses and withdraw.

Ryllr, the female Kricktorian trapeze artist, took a position in the open, appearing as a small, furry, and helpless squirrel, with extremely large, black, and frightened eyes, cowering in terror. Sempi soldiers obligingly advanced to capture or eliminate this helpless non-threat, at which point they are set upon by Mathazar the Wookiee, wielding a tent post mallet and an anger management problem, along with several large, tiger-like cats that also happen to have venomous stingers in the tips of their tails (in case they weren’t dangerous enough already.) Ryllr simply skitters out of the way, having done her part.

Meanwhile, Valo, Valen, Kaya, and Kerzak rendezvous with Bruce at a Sempi farmstead near the planetary turbolaser emplacement. As they discuss how to save Thekher, armed Sempi begin to emerge from the jungle by the hundreds. They are a militia made up of Sempi farmers and traders who are upset at Bakla’s outlawing of contact and trading with off-worlders, as this is decimating their livelihoods, and they are willing to fight to change it. They are armed with muzzleloading, primitive rifles, and a pair of gunpowder cannons which fire what appear to be a larger, harder-shelled version of the tili fruit that explodes in a burst of blue flame when it strikes.

With the Sempi come the Rebel gunnery team who were assigned to the turbolaser, but were driven away by Bakla’s army. Friendly Sempi took them in and supported them, and they now report to Bruce for new orders. The group decides to attack Bakla’s stronghold in the city, Galatis, and attempt to stop him from growing any more powerful. An emissary from Bakla offers a cessation of hostilities and relaxing of Bakla’s harsh laws if Bruce will hand over the Pendants, but Bruce refuses the offer.

The Sempi militia is willing to fight, but no longer have a strong leader, or a lot of training. Valen offers to lead them into battle, and concocts a battle plan with some input from Valo. He splits his army into five groups, attacking Galatis from five different directions, hoping to draw out the enemy and then trap him in a pincers movement. He assigns Rebel soldiers to each of the five groups to act as his officers, and accompanies one of the groups himself, taking the cannons with that group. At the same time, the rest of the characters plan to slip into the city during the fighting, to make their way to the central ziggurat and stop Bakla.

As the militia army marches towards Galatis, the night sky darkens unnaturally, and Force sensitives can feel a nexus of dark energy slowly pulling together around the apex of the ziggurat, along with a strong light-side presence that is slowly growing fainter. Valen begins his attack as thousands of enemy Sempi soldiers march out to engage him, and it rapidly becomes a full battle of musket fire, cannon shot exploding into blue fireballs, and Sempi falling wounded and dead as the lines face off and send volleys of heavy bullets into each other.

The other characters manage to sneak into the city relatively unharmed, as the battle intensifies. They reach the ziggurat and begin traveling up its slow elevator lift. On the fields outside Galatis, Valen’s soldiers are heavily pressed, and he falls back, managing to get the bulk of the enemy force to press the attack against him while ordering his adjacent groups to attack their flanks. Although his plan works, their progess is limited, and the enemy charges close enough to engage his group directly with bayonets and point blank fire. Valen orders one of the cannons (pulled by a huge, cockroach-like insect the size of a car) to fall back, and the crew of the other gun to abandon it and retreat, along with his other nearby troops. He then places a crude detonite bomb into the ammunition wagon for the cannon and runs like hell, as the enemy overruns his artillery position.

The explosion is powerful enough to be felt by the characters as they ride up to the apex of the ziggurat, and the blue flash lights up the sky. Dirt, ash, a cannon, and pieces of Sempi rain down in all directions as Valen gets up off his face and waits for his hearing to come back. A crater has been blown in the field, and the enemy lines ripped open. He gets his soldiers to charge while the enemy is shell-shocked, crashing into what is left of their line. He attacks the enemy standard-bearer with his officer’s sword, but a swift blow from the metal flag staff knocks the weapon from his hands…

The other characters reach the top of the ziggurat, where they find Thekher locked against one of its three great stone spires, dessicated and slowly dying. Bakla stands near him, drawing in dark energy as well as Thekher’s power, seeming to no longer be one being, but a fusion of a physical form and a malign spirit. He is guarded by five Rakatan soldiers in armor and wielding charged force pikes. He demands the pendants from Bruce, referring to himself as a Herald of Zeron, the Infinite Emperor, telling them that if they will cooperate, they will bear witness to his glorious return, and the restoration of law and order to the Galaxy, where now there is only chaos and war. When Bruce refuses to hand over the pendants, and refuses to join with him, he telekinetically rips all three pendants from Bruce, pulling them to himself, and unleashing a barrage of powerful Force Lightning on Bruce, “If you will not witness his coming, you will be destroyed.”

Valen wrestles with the Sempi officer for control of the flag staff, grappling for control, finally wresting it away from him with a sharp blow to the face, and then stabbing its spear-tip through his body, impaling and killing him, managing to raise the body over his head before throwing it down. The enemy’s morale breaks, and they rout, pursued by Valen’s surviving militia. He retrieves his sword and jumps onto one of the large cockroaches, spurring it on and riding it through the battle, moving as quickly as it can lumber-skitter towards the city and the ziggurat…

Calling on the Dark Side and using the power of the pendants to amplify it, Bakla (now perhaps better called Kyet Mal) nearly overwhelms Bruce with his assault, as his Rakatan soldiers stand their ground to defend him. Valo moves around the flank, dodging a powerful pike thrust from a Rakatan and seizing it around the neck, kneeing it in the face and beating him into unconciousness, then flinging him off the ziggurat. Kerzak goes to the other flank, but is run down by another Rakatan and stabbed with his force pike. Kaya takes cover, looking for opportunities, and manages to pick off a Rakatan with her blaster.

Valo reaches Thekher before he dies (there was, in fact, a countdown) and rips his shackles from the stone, freeing him and carrying him behind one of the stone spires, administering first aid that revitalizes him somewhat, but does not stop the ongoing draining of his life-force by Mal, who blasts Valo with another bolt of Force lightning, shorting out Valo’s cybernetic arm and rendering it useless. He then draws and ignites a lightsaber and engages Bruce, trying to beat and overpower him out of his path, wishing to make his escape now that he has seized the pendants. Bruce holds his ground, using the Soresu defensive form, and barely withstanding Mal’s amplified frenzy of lightsaber strikes and slashes.

Kaya throws a smoke grenade, masking herself as best as she can while reaching out with the Force, finding and seizing the pendants, telekinetically pulling them away from Mal with all the strength she can muster, as Valo charges in, first trying a one handed thrust with a force pike, then drawing The Wrench, dropping low and catching Mal’s leg, twisting and breaking it. Mal went down on one knee, shifting his lightsaber to only one hand and using another to steady himself on the floor, trying to parry Bruce’s counterattack, now that he had been assisted by his friends, but was overwhelmed, Bruce slashing through his lightsaber hilt and then severing his hand, then stabbing him through the chest and channeling Force energy through his physical form.

The resulting feedback and explosion of dark energy eradicated Bakla/Mal’s form and nearly blew the characters off the apex of the ziggurat, snapping one of the huge stone spires and sending it crashing down to the streets far below. Valen arrived, still mounted on giant bug-steed, from the elevator, in time to help the others tend to their wounded and injured, as the darkness began to clear from the sky, returning to a field of stars, and the sounds of battle below faded to stillness. Valo carries Thekher to safety with his good arm, as the Battle of Galatis comes to an end.

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TimDK

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