Sunday, 7 January 2018

Star Wars RPG solo - Part 22: Secret Imperial Projects

The overseer bursts into the cafeteria with a pair of stormtroopers, disrupting the mid-day meal period. The workers fall instantly silent, but are soon relieved when he addresses the now-hushed throng.

"Who're today's shift technicians? The atmosphere recycling equipment's broke in the lab again. Come with me to get your tools, then these boys'll take you up the Spire."

The cafeteria instantly returns to its normal mealtime routine.

"Oosuu not hungry today anyway," says Oosuu, rising from her seat. "Baprasta like red ones? Have Oosuu protein packs."

Scene 15

Madness (d6)

Setup: Chaos die =4, Interrupt (was: planning infiltration of Spire)
Interrupt: Move toward a thread (mission) - Expose / Technology

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance), informant, Imperial commander, love interest, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

Oosuu and the other two techs collect their toolkits, then the stormtroopers escort them through the security blast doors at the rear of the base, and into the turbolift. Oosuu pays especial attention as one of the troopers uses a datacard to activate the lift itself. The trip up the spire takes nearly two minutes. Oosuu can hear the soft thrumming of the inertial dampers as the lift changes speed.

The lift doors finally open to reveal a poorly-lit hexagonal corridor with dirty floor gratings; this could be practically any base or space station in the Empire. The stormtroopers escort the workers down the long corridor and towards another security door. The farther they proceed, the stronger the smell of burnt plastic fills the corridor. An Imperial officer stands waiting, covering his nose with a handkerchief. "You took long enough," he says, then punches in a code to open the security door.

Oosuu, perhaps having watched too many cartoons, was expecting a sterile white room with test tubes and bubbling liquid. The laboratory that greets the astonished Twi'lek's eyes is instead a maze of strange machines, computers, workbenches, wires, and assorted bits of junk lying about. As she looks round to take it all in, a Xexto scientist -- in a reassuringly cartoony white lab coat, complete with hand computer sticking out the breast pocket -- scurries up to the lead technician.

"It's happened again. I think the particulate matter from the crystals shreds the insides of the gas separator. I've requisitioned an upgrade, but with the bureaucracy here--"

"Blaming the Empire for this scum's shoddy work isn't going to get you a reprieve," says the officer. "You're already behind schedule, Dr. Ehks."

"Then I suggest you let them get started without further delay, Commander."

The officer gives no reply, but turns sharply on his heel and stalks out of the lab. Oosuu and the other technicians get to work, each on a separate section of the air recycling machinery. Dr. Ehks paces nervously in his lab, going to each technician in turn to see how they are doing, and trying not to get in their way.

[Oosuu makes some die rolls for the scene--
Moderate (12) Tech roll to fix her section: 3D=12, ok
Difficult (17) Perception to see anything interesting: 4D+2=21
Difficult (17) Starship Weapon Repair to understand what she's looking at: 4D=21

Q: Does she get to talk to Dr. Ehks? Unlikely (5+): O6 C1 - Yes, and...
NPC Relationship: friendly
Conversation Mood: sociable
prejudiced - dislike - recent scene]

Oosuu is sitting cross-legged on the floor next to a yawning access hatch and surrounded by a careful (to the Twi'lek's eye, at any rate) arrangement of the insides of several oxygen reclamation cylinders. Dr. Ehks steps cautiously through the (to the Xexto's eye) massive debris field to get a look at what she's doing.

"I haven't seen you round here before," says Dr. Ehks.

Oosuu takes the hydrospanner out of her mouth to reply. "Oosuu new, come in last group."

"I see. You're the only new tech?"

"Oosuu think so."

"Everything going well down at the base? I heard there was already an accident."

"Bith die. Fall in river, swept away. Oosuu friend Wex tried to save, almost die too."

"This always happens when they send us new workers. Production almost halts whilst they try to integrate, and someone always ends up hurt. They should train the whole lot of you together before you come, and this wouldn't happen."

"Oosuu suppose."

"How's the recycler coming?"

"Almost done. Not Oosuu specialty, but fix ok. Oosuu better with lasers," she says, gesturing with an ion drill towards a fixture of experimental equipment which lies half concealed beneath an oily grey tarpaulin.

[Difficult (20) Persuasion roll to get him talking more pointedly: 4D+2=22]

"You know what we're making there?" asks the scientist.

"Is obvious, Oosuu think. Oosuu not work on ship blasters for a while, but insides all look same. Even when out of housings and spread over tables," she says, pointing at various piles of metal and circuitry. "Plus, Oosuu get barge loading duty, see what size special crystals rejected, what size kept."

"My word. How ever did you end up here?"

"Twi'lek gotta eat."

"You could be somewhere else. Somewhere they might appreciate your skills."

"Listen Oosuu talk. Most think Oosuu not have skills."

"More's the pity. Look, perhaps I can help you out. I can't just pull you up here to work in the lab -- security is maddening around here, you understand -- but I can put is a good word here and there. Maybe get you a better position somewhere." [friendly - aid - future action]

"Oosuu appreciate that. Nice have new friend."

[Q: Any fallout? 50/50 (4+): O6 C5 - Yes.
Separate / Jealousy - problems with other techs]

Dr. Ehks
Template: Xexto scientist
Dexterity 4D
Knowledge 3D+1

 Bureaucracy 4D+1
 Scholar: physics 7D+1
Mechanical 3D
 Shields 5D
Perception 2D+1
Strength 1D+2
Technical 3D+2

 Computer 4D+2
 Starship Weapon Repair 7D+2
 Starship Weapon Engineering (A) 2D
Special: +1D bonus to all climbing rolls
         +1D bonus to all Perception rolls
          made to determine initiative.

Scene 16

Madness (d6)

Setup: planning infiltration of Spire
Chaos die =1, Altered

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance), informant, Imperial commander, love interest, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

[Q: How is the scene Altered? Excitement / Misfortune
Q: Misfortune for whom? (1d6): 1-2 to PCs, 3-4 to others, 5-6 to both
1d6=4, others
Q: What? (1d4): 1 crevasse, 2 monster, 3 avalanche, 4 industrial accident

The next day finds our heroes all out on the ice mining crystals. Zil is preoccupied by thoughts of her evening with the charming ISB agent, and decides to quiz Oosuu endlessly about her trip up the Spire to push those thoughts to one side.

But Oosuu's interrogation is interrupted by the sound of a blast. One of the laser drills has exploded, seriously injuring a worker.

Once again the shift is called to a halt, the injured rushed to the infirmary, the rest to mandatory safety training. Some stormtroopers interrupt the training to take Oosuu and some of the other techs in for questioning. Oosuu is fully exonerated after several hours of cross-examination. Zil is relieved to see her trudge into their room two hours after curfew and flop face first into her bunk without a word. Zil listens in the darkness to the Twi'lek's breathing become softer and more even as she drifts into sleep.

[This scene was more dice than action:

laser drill explodes; damage 5D=10 vs. Strength 2D=6, wounded

Q: O blamed by other techs? 50/50 (4+): O5 C2 - Yes, and...
Q: Was it one she worked on recently? 50/50 (4+): O6 C6 - Yes
+Event: Remote event - Malice / Power (revealed in scene 18)
Q: Was it her fault? Moderate (12) Blaster repair: 4D=14, No.
Q: Exonerated? 50/50: O5 C2 - Yes, and... tampering discovered]

Scene 17

Madness (d6)

Setup: finish planning

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance), informant, Imperial commander, love interest, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

"Hey, Jather," says Lina, "I didn't know it was your birthday."

"Uh, it's not."

"But... but I just saw Oosuu with an armload of sweet protein packs she'd saved up for the party."

"Zil wants us all to meet, but she needed an excuse to allay any suspicions about what we're up to."


"Hopefully we get everything planned in this meeting. Otherwise Zil might hafta turn 29 again."

- - -

Fake party or not, Oosuu has managed to festoon Wex and Jather's room with colourful streamers made from wires she's looted from the machine shop's waste pile, and has convinced Baprasta to make a banner with letters inscribed on the backs of old work orders. As all her friends arrive, Oosuu hands out the protein packs she's been saving for just such an occasion, then they find seats on the beds in the narrow room.

"So," says Zil to her assembled comrades once the squabbles over who gets which protein flavours have died down, "I have an idea how we're going to do this, but it will require outside help. Fortunately, I seem to have acquired some, but I thought I'd ask your opinions on it first."

"Oh! This Zil special friend?" asks Oosuu with a malicious smile.

"She's not my special anything, she's ju--"

"Zil come home late smelling all like other girl perfume. Also--"


"Now this is an interesting development," says Wex. "Do tell."

"Shut the hell up, both of you," growls Zil. "We've got work to discuss."

Wex's next comment dies on his lips.

"Oosuu know what Oosuu smell," mumbles the Twi'lek.

"Here's the thing," says Zil, pointedly ignoring her, "she's apparently ISB, but she's working some other angle too. She's all about us getting Dr. Ehks out of here, but she wants us to consider giving him over to a third party instead of Morga."

"Wait, are you serious?" says Wex. "The ISB want us to betray both Morga AND the Empire?"

"Like I said, she's working some other angle."

"Have you lost your mind? Just how pretty is this friend of yours?"

"Maybe this is some internal poodoo," hazards Baprasta. "The Empire isn't exactly one big happy family."

"I still think it's a set-up," says Wex.

"I thought that too, at first," says Zil. "But she knows who we all are -- who we really are -- and why we're here. And who sent us. With that sort of knowledge, she doesn't need a trap. She could have us shot as spies just like that."

"If she's really ISB, she could do that regardless," sighs Lina.

"If that's her game, she would have done already," says Jather. "There's nothing to be gained by waiting."

"OK. Fine," says Wex. "So then what is her angle? Who's this third party she wants us to give the doc over to?"

"She hasn't said yet. I think she's sounding me out still."

"Is that what they're calling it now?"

"Wex, knock it off."

"I'm not joking any more, Zil. You want us to consider trusting your new ISB friend and betraying Morga for her for the benefit of person or persons unknown. Am I the only one that sees a problem with this?"

"I don't really know Morga or nothing," says Baprasta, "but I'll do whatever the rest of you decide. So I abstain. We are voting, right?"

"If Zil friend can help against Hutts, Oosuu say swap allegiance."

"Even if it means getting in bed with the ISB?" asks Jather, who then quickly adds, "Sorry Zil. Poor choice of phrasing."

"Oosuu think yes."

"Maybe we need to find out what she can offer us," says Wex. "Decide if it's worth our while."

"Um," says Baprasta, "what if we don't help her? Would she turn us over to the ISB?"

"I'm pretty sure she wouldn't," says Zil. "Look, if it will make you all happy, I'll find out what assistance she proposes to offer us, both during and after the mission. I'm sure she'll be in touch with me again soon."

Scene 18

Chaos: Madness (d6)

Setup: Zil talks to the ISB (double-)agent

NPC list: Trefftun (contact), Dr. Ehks (target), Lt. Haldee (ISB agent / double-agent for the Alliance / love interest), informant, Imperial commander, overseer

Threads: mission, rebel's offer

[N.B. This scene revolves round the Remote Event (Malice / Power) from scene 16.

NPC Relationship: neutral
Conversation Mood: neutral
prejudiced - reputation - flaws]

"You wanted to see me?" asks Zil.

"Zil, come in," comes Lt. Haldee's voice.

"It's dark in here."

"Don't touch the light. My head can't take it."

Zil steps inside, and feels for the switch behind her. The door slides shut, and Zil stops short, waiting as her eyes slowly adjust, feeling the humid darkness close round her, prickling her skin. She takes a slow breath of the spice-scented air and searches the gloom for Lieutenant Haldee, until she can just make out her shape curled up on one side of the settee. Zil takes a step forward, and her nose wrinkles at a sour, pungent note.

"You've been drinking," says Zil.

"Nothing escapes you, does it?"

"Well, I don't have your ISB training, but..."

"Come here. Sit. There's another glass on the side somewhere. And another bottle. Bring it, would you, Zil? I seem to have spilt most of this one."

Zil fetches a glass and a bottle of something dark and amber, then goes over to sit with Lt. Haldee on her sofa. The other woman's eyes are dry, but Zil isn't so heartless that she doesn't know why they're so red and swollen. Zil pours and waits for the Lieutenant to say something, but she just sits and looks over towards Zil, absently swirling the liquid in her newly filled glass.

"What's going on?" asks Zil softly.

"Mmmm... no. Not yet. First I want to know if you've thought about my question."

Yeah. I mean, no, not much. Been busy with other things, like planning this kidnapping. Or whatever."

"I could help you, Zil. I want to help you. But I need to know who you are first."

"Sounds like you've read my file, anyways. What's more to know?"

"You're a mercenary, Zil. You sell your questionable service to the highest bidder, and woe betide those who get in your way."

"I guess..."

"But there's more to you than that, isn't there, Zil?" [UNE: knowing - account - the character]

"If you say so."

Oh, drop the tough girl act for a moment. You're never so fierce as when you're looking out for your friends. You had a chance to cut any one of them loose before you came here, and you didn't, and you even got your new friend along. And Wex -- he was a hair away from being sent off to the waste processing plant when you intervened on his behalf."

"He's useful: a good pilot. Something we might need in an escape."

"Useful, sure. Fine. But what about Jather?"

"Jather has his moments."

"I've met him, Zil."

"He has hidden depths. He's just out of his element here, but when--"

"You're defending Jather to me. Why do you care what I think of him?"

"I don't, it's just... oh. I see what you're doing."

"ISB, Zil, remember? I'm good at getting the truth out of people."

"Fine. So the truth is I'm not as hard as I make myself out to be. So what? Why do you care?"

"Because I think underneath it all you're a good person. Or you want to be." [prejudiced - belief - current scene]

"I really don't understand you. What's this all about?"

"I want to show you something, Zil. This hasn't gone public yet, so you have to promise not to tell anyone. There will be an official announcement later. I don't know when. Maybe soon, maybe... maybe it will take some time to filter out to the Rim."

Lt. Haldee leans forward and reaches for something on the low table, her hand snaking between the bottles and beneath her discarded officer's jacket. She produces a small holotape player and places it between herself and Zil on the cushion. She goes to activate it, but her finger hesitates over the switch. Once activated, the shimmering, somewhat flattened and grainy image of a blue planet appears. It takes Zil a moment to realise that what she's actually looking at is the surreptitious recording of a 2D viewscreen.

"Alderaan," whispers Lt. Haldee.

"There's voices on the tape," says Zil, "but I can't make them out. Turn up the sound."

"No. Just watch."

Zil glances up to see Lt. Haldee sitting with her eyes closed, but decides against asking why. She watches the shaky holo-recording with increasing bewilderment as nothing is plainly happening; the jewel-like planet just floats serenely against the starry background of space. Then there is a green glow at the bottom of the image, and a bolt of energy streaks out towards the planet, which seconds later explodes in a brilliant fireball. The recording abruptly ends.

"That... that can't be real," she gasps.

"It is, Zil."


"A super weapon of some sort, a mobile battlestation. I don't have the particulars. It doesn't matter."

"The whole planet..."

"This is why I need to know, Zil."

"Know what?"

"That you're the right sort of person."

"To do what?"

"To fight against them."


"The Empire."

"You're ISB..."

"I'm a double-agent for the rebellion, Zil. I thought you would have worked that out by now."

"I didn't think..."

"I will help you, Zil, here, on Mygeeto. I'll help you get Dr. Ehks away, even if you do just slink off back to the Hutts. Just to strike a blow at them, for what they did. But I hope you will consider what you're doing, and do the right thing in the end. The Alliance could use you, Zil. You and your friends."

"I'll have to tell them something. They'll want to know why I'm suddenly going soft."

"Not about this. Not yet."

"I think if they knew... I'm sure I could convince them somehow. I should go talk to Oosuu. She can persuade the others better than I can."

"Don't go, Zil. Not yet."

"We have to get moving--"

"Zil, I grew up on Alderaan."


"Just stay with me a little while."

Next post: Zil's plan unfolds!

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