“Mocking Query: Do you still function, tiny, broken pile of droid parts? You do, don’t you? I bet my master could make excellent use of the data stored in your undersized databanks.” – HK-47.
A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…
A wave of violence has swept across the ecumenopolis known as Nar Shaddaa. A clandestine group calling itself the Cult of Ar’Akanis, comprised largely of disenfranchised gang youths, have recently escalated their activities from small acts of vandalism, burglary, vice, and violence. They tried to blow up a turbolift station, along with the hundreds of lives within the station, for reasons as yet unknown.
Jedi Padawans Daken Rao-Kun, Rai-El Hulis, and Erall Rand, accompanied by their loyal droid companions, Risk, Skip, and Rusty, have come to Nar Shaddaa for their Jedi Knighthood Trials. In order to pass their trials and be recognized as fully-fledged Jedi Knights, these three Padawans must uncover proof of a connection between this Cult of Ar’Akanis and the Sith. Such connections are rumored, but if the Jedi Order is to act upon them, they must know for certain that the Sith are attempting to influence the angry youth of Nar Shaddaa.
Mira Reskin, a local mercenary, has aided the Jedi in their investigation by bringing them to a valuable source of information. This source, a Hutt by the name of Doado, is within the protective walls of the atmospherically diverse night club, the Jekk’Jekk Tarr, which is where our heroes are about to make their entrance…
Opening crawl fades into the dark and the camera is suddenly attacked by light and nauseatingly loud, rhythmic music. An enormous ship passes across the starry sky, displaying an advertisement across the breadth of its massive hull. The advertisement depicts fun, excitement, and debauchery at the hip nightclub, the Jekk’Jekk Tarr. The camera pans down from the advertising ship and descends into the clutches of the gnashing dark metal claws that comprise the Nar Shaddaa cityscape. Fast Wipe to Exterior – Nar Shaddaa, Jekk’Jekk Tarr, Main Entrance. A line of luxury repulsorlimos and exotic speeders come to a stop at the valet kiosk, the vehicle occupants dressed in expensive, glittering garb as they make their entrance into the club. A pair of broad-shouldered bouncers with four arms and gnashing teeth flanked the entrance doors while a subservient GE3-series protocol droid held the door for the incoming guests, welcoming them to the “Illustrious Jekk’Jekk Tarr… the finest establishment in Huttspace.”
- Mira, wearing her recently acquired envirosuit, strode toward the Jekk’Jekk Tarr’s main entrance. Behind her were Rai-El Hulis and Daken Rao-Kun, also wearing the environment suits they attained at the Dockside Transit Depot earlier that evening. Erall Rand followed closely behind, but his own suit provided all the protection he would need in the club, so he simply took a tool belt and hid his lightsabers among the hydrospanners and engine tape. Risk was collapsed into his briefcase deployment container, being carried by Erall as the group neared the bouncers, and were quickly held back from making their entry into the club.
- The protocol droid held up one of its hands dismissively and said, in a faux Coruscanti accent, that there was no way he was letting us into the illustrious Jekk’Jekk Tarr ‘looking like that.’ He then prompted one of the bizarre-looking bouncers, Drahnn, to check and see if they were on ‘the list.’ Mira stepped forward and spoke with authority, claiming that if this moronic scrapheap was responsible for delaying the maintenance of the atmospheric reconditioners in unit 1138, and consequentially murdering every paying patron within that unit, that was on his empty, ugly head. She shook her head and turned away, “Come on, guys. They don’t pay us enough to take crap from pathetic rust-for-brains like this.”
- The droid bought the bluff, but only insofar as he wanted to verify our story with the head of maintenance of the club, an elderly twi’lek named Ohreg. Erall got a bit nervous, and began to discuss alternative entry methods with Daken, in case Mira couldn’t get the Jedi past the bouncers in a peaceful manner. Rai-el looked slightly into the future, formed a sweetly faint smile, and told both of her male counterparts to “trust in the Force, fellow Padawans. We’ll get in with no problems.”
- Ohreg came out to see what the commotion was, and looked at Mira with some measure of recognition in his eyes. He scowled angrily at the Jedi, and it looked as if there would be a violent incident after all. However, after a few moments, he turned his scowl against the droid. “Schutta droid! I’m back there, busily calibrating my deece, and you have the nerve to interrupt me for THIS?” The droid looked back and forth from Ohreg to Mira, unsure what to make of the Twi’lek’s demeanor. “These people have work to do! You want everyone in 1138 to asphyxiate? Get in here, guys. Come on. Let’s go.”
- The droid twitched uncomfortably and backed away from the “maintenance team” as they made their way past him and into the building. Ahead, they could make out several security checkpoints, including weapons scanners and biometric fields. Those scanners would detect their lightsabers for sure. Risk sent a text communication to Erall’s wrist-mounted datapad, telling him that the EM spectrum in this place would detect any use of a stealth field generator. Erall tried to tell Daken this, but didn’t want to raise anyone else’s suspicions. Ohreg suddenly spun around and tapped on a wall panel before the security checkpoint. An access hatch popped open on an old-fashioned hinge, and he bade the heroes into the maintenance corridor that ran between all the different environmentally-unique sections of the Jekk’Jekk Tarr.
- Mira started to thank Ohreg, but he shushed her, pointing to the air, then to her ears. The heroes understood his warning: The Air has Ears. The corridor was narrow, flanked by thousands of criss-crossing tubes, pipes, and wires, and illuminated only by a string of luminol worklights loosely splayed across the floor. Mira nearly tripped over the worklight wires, but caught herself at the last second. Daken craned his neck to look upward, where he could barely make out the presence of a perforated metal catwalk poised about 30 meters overhead, and a cramped service lift that lead up to the catwalk. It was toward that lift that Ohreg was taking them.
- As the heroes crammed themselves onto the lift, the rhythmic thumping of music came wafting toward the heroes from below, where one of the many entertainment clubs thrived with activity. Rai-El looked down and saw, through their feet, through the lift, through the floor and the ceiling of the underground club, and she saw hundreds of carefree, inebriated, gyrating souls moving to the music. She smirked. Then, she scanned around some more, looking at one of the surface-based club areas, and was baffled to find that there was an entire room full of people that she just could not see clearly. She could see everything above, below, before, and to either side of that room, but within, all she was was a mottled blur. She could make out lives, but not the identity of said lives. This had never happened to her before. She made her discovery known to Daken and Erall through the Force.
- Ohreg led Mira and the others off the catwalk and toward a particularly dark area of the complex. Suddenly, Risk’s scanners showed no surveillance activity. Ohreg spun on his heels, placed his open hand out, palm up, and cleared his throat. Mira smirked, reached into a pocket on her jumpsuit, and handed him four credsticks. Daken recognized that they were credsticks Mira took off of the Wookiee, Hanhaar. Mira glanced at Daken with a slight smirk. “Thanks, Tailhead. Money well spent.”
- “Well, I wouldn’t get too comfortable if I were you,” Ohreg said. “Doado recently got some… company.”
“What kind of company,” Mira asked.
“The kind that gets past security with their weapons, and with no questions asked,” the elderly Twi’lek said.
“Exchange? Vogga’s guys, maybe,” Mira asked. Ohreg grimly shook his head.
“These guys were wearing this strange, silver armor I never seen before. Also, they was all human, from the looks of them.”
“Who is in section 4411,” Rai-el asked, still affixed on the blurry room she could not see into.
“That’s where Doado is. With his ‘guests.’ Though, he didn’t seem all too happy about ’em being here.”
“Doado’s been good to me,” Mira said. “We can’t let them hurt him, whoever they are.”
“I see a Hutt in this area,” Rai-el said, pointing down and to the south-east of the catwalk. Ohreg got a puzzled look on his face. He mouthed the word ‘Jedi’ to Mira, who shrugged back at him.
“That’s Vogga. He kinda owns that whole section of the club. The ones next to it, too. Up and comer, Vogga.”
“Filthy slug,” Mira said. “Why couldn’t those armor guys mess with him instead of poor Doado?”
“Maybe we could create a distraction? Get the armed men out of that room with Doado, I mean,” asked Erall. Daken nodded.
“But we should at least know what’s going on in there, first. Ohreg, you think you could take a peek in that room? Tell us what we’re up against in there?”
“No,” the Twi’lek replied abruptly. “No way I’m sticking my neck out any more than I already have.”
“Then pay a waitress to go in and take a drink order,” Mira said, slipping another credstick into Ohreg’s pocket while playfully running her finger down one of his head-tails. “A long, complicated order that gives her time to get a good, long look?”
“…Alright,” Ohreg said, “but that’s all you’re getting out of me. Stay put. I’ll be back.”
- As Ohreg moved back toward the maintenance lift at the end of the catwalk, Risk took the opportunity to pop out of the briefcase deployment unit and stretch his limbs. Not content to rely upon Ohreg’s help, or really, even to trust the old Twi’lek, Daken decided to climb down to one of the access panels a few meters below the catwalk. His intentions were simple: gain access to the security systems and disable them so that, in the worst case scenario, they would be able to move in and save Doado the Hutt without triggering any alarms along the way. Meanwhile, as Rai-el kept a watch on Vogga, Erall and Risk had other ideas…
- While Erall remained up on the catwalk, Risk moved to the far end of it and descended through a ventilation chute toward section 4411, where Doado the Hutt and his uninvited, heavily-armed guests were located. Erall wanted to set up a diversion within that section, making use of the ventilation system, wherein the section would fill with an inert smoke that forced everyone within to make a hasty evacuation. Risk had his work cut out for him, as there were several security systems in place to prevent just such a scenario. Erall used his Force Heatwave ability to melt through some of the minor security circuits and grant Risk initial access to the vents, but the rest of the systems would have to be disabled manually, and discretely, or the entire security team would be alerted to their presence.
- Mira kept a look out for Ohreg, who soon returned with a grim look on his face. Apparently, the waitress he paid tried to enter, and one of the armed men pushed her down and told her there was to be no further disturbances. Rai-el noticed a number of strangely armored men moving toward Vogga the Hutt’s section, and Ohreg confirmed that it was heard by one of the bartenders that the leader of these armed figures wanted Vogga moved into the chamber with Doado. It was at this moment when Rai-el, Daken, and Erall felt a tremendous disturbance in the Force. Daken, hanging by a cargo rope a few meters below the catwalk, looked up toward Rai-el, asking her what she thought it was.
- Mira suggested that Ohreg might be inclined to try to get more information from that bartender. Ohreg demanded a sum of credits that Mira could no longer afford, so she knelt down and held her hand out below the railing of the catwalk, demanding that Daken supply some additional incentive to the old Twi’lek. Daken complied with a sigh and then busied himself with disabling the security network, though it was looking more and more like such a task was beyond his ability, at least from this terminal. As Ohreg made his descent once more, Mira said, “I have a bad feeling about this.”
- Moments later, Risk finally managed to get into the lower sections of the ventilation chute, and was now looking through the thin, vertical holes in the vent grating. The vent was positioned on a slightly concave section of wall directly above the main entrance into this section. About twenty meters below the vent was a black, reflective floor with a series of pulsating golden lights emanating from a decorative design etched throughout the floor. There was music playing, but nobody dancing to the music. Thirty meters ahead was a large pillar with a cut-out featuring a rotating, circular bar. A droid bartender busied itself cleaning glasses and tidying bottles, but nobody was buying any drinks. In fact, it did not look like there was anyone in there at all. Then, there was a shift in the light emanating from behind the pillar. Shadows moving across other shadows.
- After a commotion in Vogga’s section of the club, the huge, slow-moving Hutt slid down from his cushioned perch and made his way toward the exit, led by six of the armed soldiers. Daken succeeded in disengaging the motion sensors and weapons detectors, but the access doors still had active security alarms in place, and he was unable to do anything about them from this terminal. Risk was told to standby as Erall tried to find (and melt) the wires that fed the security on the vent grating. Risk obliged, then noticed a light coming from directly below him. Pushed into the room, harshly, was the old Twi’lek maintenance chief, Ohreg, flanked by three of the silver-armored soldiers from earlier. Unable to do anything but watch, Risk saw the three soldiers bring the old Twi’lek behind the bar-pillar. Then, a few moments later, all hell broke loose.
- Suddenly, the armored soldiers swarmed out from behind the pillar and began to exit section 4411 altogether. The six soldiers escorting Vogga broke into a sprint, dragging the Hutt along at a faster pace than he was nominally capable of. Mira drew her blasters from her environment suit pockets, focusing them toward the end of the catwalk. “I think we’re about to get company,” she said, as the lift began to move up from the floor below to the catwalk. Thinking quickly, Erall grabbed Mira and dove over the railing of the catwalk, hanging onto the edge by the tips of his fingers. Rai-el leapt upward and into the tangled mess of thick, black wires, hanging upside-down by her feet about ten meters overhead. With no light up there to speak of, she would be nigh undetectable.
- As the soldiers neared their position, one of them said “There’s no use in hiding. We know you’re here. Show yourselves.” The Jedi didn’t flinch, and within a few moments, the soldiers came to the conclusion that they fled the scene. “They must have anticipated the Twi’lek would reveal this location, and moved elsewhere. You two stay here, in case they double back. You three, follow me.” With only two of the soldiers left to deal with, Erall made his move. By super-heating the metal floor beneath their feet, Erall effectively welded the soldiers in place. This didn’t go without notice, so Daken, Mira, and Rai-el sprang into action to take advantage of the situation. Within moments, the two soldiers were down for the count. Recognizing that these armors may come in handy, Daken and Rai-el changed out of their environment suits and into this new, strange armor.
- Just as Rai-el was sliding the helmet on, she glanced down at the section she could not see any details in before, and now, it was perfectly clear. Within the room were two Hutts (Doado and Vogga, obviously), a dozen more of these armored men, a frightened Twi’lek (poor Ohreg…) and a tall, imposing figure in long, flowing black robes. As she looked at this black robed figure, he suddenly turned to face her, and now, everything but this man was blurry. She heard a voice… no… hundreds… thousands of voices… all pained… hurt… dead… calling out to her… a thousand death cries echoing out from this one, dark presence she now could not look away from. It said “I SEE YOU!”
Fast wipe to Interior – Nar Shaddaa, Jekk’Jekk Tarr, section 4411. The camera focuses on the feet of a tall, brooding figure, slowly panning up to reveal flowing, black robes, tightly folded arms, and a white mask that looks very similar to the Ar’Akanis cult’s facepaint. This figure speaks with a thousand anguished voices at once in a darkly melodic hymn that brings both of the Hutts in the room to quake with fear. One of the Hutts belches out a plea for his life, offering an exorbitant bribe. Subtitles splay across the bottom of the screen: “Please, you can have whatever you want, Just stop the noise. That horrid noise!” The camera then zooms in on the masked face of this terrifying figure, as he slowly turns to regard one of the stiff-backed soldiers in the silver armor. He says something else, though there are no subtitles to explain his words to the viewer. The soldiers get his message, shoving the captive Twi’lek toward the black-robed man. Ohreg’s scream cracked mid-breath as he lifted from the ground in front of the black-robed man with the white skull-like mask. Tendrils of faint, purple light licked up the Twi’lek’s body from the floor, a line of this same energy streaming down from one of the dark man’s down-stretched fingers. Ohreg let out a weak, muffled cry, and then, what looked like smoke poured out of his mouth and nose, and a lightning-like glow pierced through his eyes. Whoever this black robed man was, he just used FOrce Lightning to cook Ohreg from the inside-out…
- Risk saw some of the shapes behind the pillar moving around the edges of it, and all of the armored soldiers rapidly exited the room. One of them turned around and fired a salvo of blaster bolts into the shadows behind the pillar, and the unmistakable sound of a Hutt’s final death throes permeated the air throughout the club. That same soldier said something, to someone, but from this distance, it was hard to make out the words. Luckily, Risk began taking audio-visual records ever since he descended into this ventilation chute. As the soldiers moved out of the room, Risk asked Daken if he got the security on the vent grating down yet, but there was no response. Then, a dark shape moved around the edge of the pillar. It was a black robed man in a white skull-like mask reminiscent of the facepaint worn by members of the Cult of Ar’Akanis. The figure moved as if his feet didn’t even touch the ground beneath his robes, and it seemed like he was looking directly at Risk, even through the vent grating, where he should have been undetectable.
- The black robed figure leapt into the air and took the vent grating into his hands, tearing it from its welds. Thinking fast, Risk pulled his sawed-off blaster carbine and fired a shot through the grating at point-blank range into the face of his assailant. The dark man fell down onto his back and, for a brief moment, seemed to be stunned. Risk engaged his stealth field generator and leapt out of the vent, drawing out his vibroblade in preparation for a downward, stabbing attack. However, he was caught in mid-air by the dark man, his outstretched hand clasping, but the Force doing all the work. Risk was crushed, horribly, his stealth field failing, his left arm and one of his legs clattering helplessly to the ground. The dark man held Risk aloft as he got to his feet, then flung him violently across the room with the Force, tendrils of Force Lightning chasing from his fingertips to lash out at the shattered wreck of Risk’s crumpled body. Risk watched, helplessly, as the man leapt up into the ventilation chute and tore up to the catwalk, where his friends were, where they might die at his hands.
- As more of the soldiers were visible approaching the lift below, the black robed figure leapt out from the vent chute whence Risk had recently descended. Erall drew his lightsabers and told Daken to get Mira to safety. The dark man moved with far more speed than anyone could have anticipated, chopping one of Erall’s wrists with a Force-enhanced strike, then following that attack up with a Force Push over the edge of the catwalk. As Erall fell twenty meters into the maintenance corridor below, where a dozen armed soldiers were there awaiting him, Rai-el reached out and caught Erall through the Force, holding him just inches from the floor, and letting him down gently. The soldiers went to descend on him, but Mira had a surprise for them. She had, unknown to even the Jedi, set up a few remote detonation charges in the hallway. All but two of the soldiers were overcome by clouds of explosive debris, but Erall made short work of those remaining two. Daken used his previous climbing rope to whirl under the catwalk and come up standing behind their robed assailant.
- The dark man ignited a long, narrow red-bladed lightsaber and moved toward Rai-el, but Daken caught his attention by slashing one of the moorings holding the catwalk aloft from the roof above. The black robed man spun around and lashed out with Force Lightning, which Daken caught in the beam of his Lightsaber and threw away from him. He told Rai-el to run, then slashed the other mooring, causing this section of the catwalk to tumble down into the dome-like ceiling of one of the clubs. Daken leapt off the catwalk and used the Force to run down the edge of this now-broken club wall. He met up with Erall, who was just finishing up with the last soldier, and together with Mira and Rai-el, the four ran through the panicked crowds of the club.
- Elsewhere, in the smoke-filled section 4411, the voice of a Hutt called out from behind the pillar, saying (in Huttese): “I’m alive! I can’t believe I’m alive! Hahaha! Doado’s dead, and I’m still alive!” Risk could not move. His left upper arm and a bit of one of his upper legs were the only limbs still attached, and the motivators for both were fried, it seemed. His energy cells were punctured, and he was leaking coolant and lubricant everywhere. He could see most of his body splayed out before him, in thousands of tiny, glistening pieces, glowing in the rhythmic red light of Jekk’Jekk Tarr’s emergency alarm klaxon. Then, he saw a shape moving toward him from the shadows, and the familiar sound of a deactivating stealth-field generator flowed into his still functional auditory sensors. It was a rust-colored assassin droid, an HK model, newer than a 22, for sure. As it approached, it began to speak to Risk, who had to lay there helplessly and listen.
- “Mocking Query: Do you still function, tiny, broken pile of droid parts? You do, don’t you? I bet my master could make excellent use of the data stored in your undersized databanks.” The droid gathered Risk’s remnants up in a waste disposal bag. “Amusing Realization: How appropriate is it, little droid, that I gather your remains in a container designed for the removal of refuse. Added Insult: What a waste. Hah!” The droid re-engaged his stealth-field generator, moved through the exit door, and seemlessly made his way to the Roof Access panel.
- Daken, Mira, Rai-el, and Erall made their way out of the club and disappeared into the crowd of panicked, evacuating patrons. They recollected across the street, behind the Dockside Transit Depot, where Skip and Rusty awaited them. Skip sent a text-based question to Erall’s wrist-based communicator, asking about Risk’s whereabouts. Erall shook his head, saying he didn’t think Risk made it. Mira asked who that dark-robed man was, and Daken, Rai-el, and Erall answered, simultaneously, “Sith.” Mira’s eyes widened. For the first time since they met, she was speechless. Rusty began to churn and crackle with activity, and Skip did likewise. Erall saw what they were excited about, as Risk’s emergency beacon just turned on. It was coming from the roof of the club…
- On the rooftop, from within the translucent refuse bag, Risk did everything he could to increase the pick-up on his auditory and visual receptors. The droid who captured him had set-up a long-distance comm relay on the rooftop, and he had just made contact with someone in deep space…
Erall tried to contact Risk, but the little droids comlink was non-functional. In fact, he wasn’t reading Risk’s tracking signature at all. Rai-el asked where Risk was, and Erall just kept running, unable and unwilling to draw any conclusions yet.
“Statement: HK-47 reporting as ordered, Master.” A tiny holographic image appeared in front of HK-47, though from his angle, Risk could not make out any details.
“What have you discovered?”
“Unsurprising Revelation: As you suspected, Nihilus has a little side-project here on Nar Shaddaa. He seems to have created a cult based around an ancient Sith god named Ar’Akanis. Is there such a god, Master?”
“No, HK,” the figure said. “Ar’Akanis is an ancient sith phrase. It means ‘the Hunger.’Have you discovered anything else of use?”
“Prideful Boast: As a matter of fact, I have, master! It seems that you are not the only one interested in Nihilus’s activities here on Nar Shaddaa.”
“… the Jedi,” the man said.
“Impressed Reply: Why, yes, Master. How intuitive of you to have guessed! I captured a droid, or, what’s left of one, with databanks chock full of information I am certain you will find useful, Master.”
“Who are they, HK?”
“Humble Admission: I’m afraid in my zeal to contact you, I only barely skimmed the data on the droid’s memory core, but it seems he is from a… mobile Jedi Academy? The Broadsword? Does this ring any bells, Master?”
“As a matter of fact,” he said. “It does… Well done, HK.”
“Hopeful Request: Master, I do hope you are placing me in charge of the assassination of your wayward servant, Darth Nihilus. I have long wanted to test my mettle, and indeed, my metal, against a Sith of his calibur.”
“Not quite yet, HK,” the voice said. “For now, get that droid back to me immediately. And hurry. Things are about to get a lot more frantic, and I can’t afford to have my best assassin dally about.”
“Delighted Response: As always, I live to serve, Master. HK-47 out.”
- “Statement: Well, little droid, it looks like we’re going on a little trip… hey! Where do you think you’re going?”
- During the end of HK-47’s conversation, Risk managed to get his left upper arm working, and he clawed his way, bag and all, up to the edge of the roof. Before HK-47 could react, Risk shoved himself over the edge, hoping that his friends would see his distress beacon and come to his rescue. However, even if they couldn’t, there was a possibility that the impact with the ground would render his memory core useless to HK-47. Risk did not want any of that data to be used against his friends on the Broadsword. Not now. Not after all they had been through together.
- As the bag smashed hard against the permacrete landing behind the main complex of the Jekk’Jekk Tarr, HK-47 shook his head and affixed a magnetic grappling cable to the end of his blaster rifle, taking careful aim and firing it at the bag. However, just as his finger was about to depress the trigger, a shot rang out from somewhere far off in the night sky, sending HK-47 back onto the roof in an energy-sapping ionic cloud. Erall and Mira were rushing across the street to grab the bag Risk was in when they saw the shot, but they had no idea where it came from, or why the shooter would want to help protect Risk…
- Erall opened the bag and looked within, seeing the jumbled mess of wires, plates, and circuits that represented what was left of poor Risk. Suddenly, one of Risk’s optics lit up, and he managed to say “Don’t let Rusty see me like this. He’ll never let me live it down.”