Thursday, January 28, 2010

Game Night: Star Wars Campaign 1









PROLOGUE

To its citizens, Coronet City is "the Jewel of Corellia" - a bustling metropolis of beautiful archetecture and breathtaking local scenery. To the Clone Troopers of Digamma Company, however, it may as well be a prison.

Trained from birth to do one thing, these elite soldiers follow their orders, parading before the locals and giving demonstrations to school children and politicians, serving as police escort at high-profile political functions; but they are languishing in their duty.

Cut off from the front lines of a dozen wars on twice as many worlds, troop moral is at a low. These young men were bred to fight wars; and instead, they march around their compound serving as eye candy for a planetary government that was originally against the Military Creation Act.

* * *

As dawn rises over the eastern towers of Coronet City, the metal slats of Digamma Company's Trooper barracks slide open. Forty-two asymetrical lines of beautiful orange light pour into the long room and illuminate the crisp white sheets in a symphony of fire.

It makes CE-1201 sick every morning. The scowl on his face seems an involuntary reflex to breathing now. Like the other 144 men in the room, CE-1201 gave the fog of sleep a quick shake-off and got out of bed.

As he folded and stowed his sheets, CE-1201 reflected on the day's schedule.

0530 Chow
0600 Dress Inspection
0700 Parade Detail in South Coronet
0900 Cantharus School Detail
1000 Cantharus District Parade Detail
1200 Chow
1230 Recrea-

The Low Whine of the P.A. kicked in and the Captain's voice spoke the most exciting words CE-1201 or any of the other troopers had heard in months.

"Attention all Troopers," CE-1143 actually sounded happy, "all daily functions are suspended until further notice. Prepare for Armed Dress Inspection on the flight deck. Squads Alpha, San, and Omicron to form at the head of the formation. We will be greeting a pair of Jedi who will select two squads to accompany them to the planet Onderon. The Jedi's shuttlecraft will arrive at 0700. All troops to be mustered-up on the flight deck by 0630. That is all."

There was no cheering in the barracks; but a number of troopers already had their gear laid out on their racks; and lift in spirits was palpable.

With the exception of the Captain, none of the troopers of Digamma Company had met a Jedi; though they were reputed to be great warriors. Word from the front-lines almost always included tales of bravery and honor involving one Jedi Master or another.

By 0650, when the Jedi's shuttle touched down on the tarmac in front of the assembled troopers, each clone was excited enough to be elated, hoping his Squad would be the one chosen; and anxious to get a look at the heroic Generals who would lead them into battle.

You can imagine the dissapointment, then, when CE-1201 and his comrades saw instead, some kind of pop-heiress and her little pet bunny.

* * *

Of course, he was not a "bunny" at all. The Kushiban Jedi Master Wyliss disembarked from the shuttlecraft and looked over the assembled troops. That metallic distaste rose up in his mouth again as he considered (and not for the first time), the long-term costs of this ridiculous war.

Wars, he corrected himself. And here he was with his former Apprentice about to take a couple squads of Clone Troopers to maybe start another one. His whiskers twitched in anger; and he closed his eyes. Finding his center and stretching out his feelings to "inspect" the troops.

"They certainly look impressive," his companion said, surveying the white-armored commandos and clicking her teeth in that odd way she had a habit of doing.

Wyliss opened his eyes, surpressing his other senses and looking up at the Cathar. Her robes were something less than traditional, taking a cue, it seemed from the Secura school of dress. "Impressive," he asked. "These men, no more than children really, have been bred for one purpose - the destruction of an enemy." He walked down the gangplank.

"The bright white of their armor, the gleam of their weaponry. It makes them the same. A unit rather than individuals. Their breeding reflects this. They are meant to kill, or die; and nothing else." Something flickered in the Force. A sensation of - Master Wyliss could not get his mind around it. "Though the Will of the Force seldom follows the plans and wishes of bureaucrats and politicians," he added.

"Master?" Faule Frsai asked the Kushiban; but he was already approaching the Captain.

"Greetings, General," the Captain said without looking down and the dark, furry Jedi. "Digamma company is assembled as ordered and awaiting your inspection."

Wyliss took a cursory glance around the flight deck. "I don't think that will be necessary," he said. He walked through the ranks of Troopers, followed by the Captain and Faule. The Cathar could sense the Master's feelings as they snaked out through the formation and so stretched out her own senses.

The Living Force presents itself differently to each being which perceives it. To one, it may appear as beats of light against the dark backdrop of the galaxy as a whole, to another, tendrils of energy snaking through the universe and binding all things. Master Wyliss has commented that the Force to him is like high-grain fields of his youth, where each being, each rock, building, tree, Jedi is a single stalk flowing in, and interacting with, the whole of creation.

Faule Frsai sees the Force as music. An almost unheard symphony of life and consequences swirling around her. The sense of it fills her with a deep calm - though this may be as much an aspect of her training as of the Force itself. When she opens herself to it, and that familiar calm flows into her, she first becomes aware of Master Wyliss, and the Quintolium strumming that is his own sense of the galaxy.

At the front of this formation is Alpha Squad; and as soon as she can feel them in the Force, she knows it is these men who will accompany her to Onderon, along with the Captain, though there is something Dark and forboding in that sensation. Before she can explore it further, however, her calm is interrupted by the bellowing of a Kashyyyk Clarion.

Her senses whirl about her, trying to focus on the sound and its source.


"What is it?" she asks, unthinking. Opening her eyes and searching with her physical senses as well.

Master Wyliss's voice is calm. He is smiling. "That," he says, "is an enigma. A creature of harmony, bred for discord." He makes a sharp turn, his eyes still closed as he passes through the close ranks of the Trooper's formation. He stops before one trooper and opens them.

"What is your name, Clone?"

"Lieutenant, General sir," the Trooper responds, "CE-1146."

"Ah," Master Wyliss turns back to the Captain. "I'll be taking this trooper and his squad with me into space. General Frsai, have you chosen your squad?"

"Alpha Squad," the Cathar says, looking at the Captain and searching again for that odd bit of discord she'd felt earlier.

She cannot find it, and the two squads board the shuttle after a brief change of command ceremony given for the benefit of the Corellians who have gathered nearby.

PART ONE

The heavy transport that carries Alpha and Rho squads, along with their Jedi leaders is an old beast of a starship; and it lurches slightly when it drops out of hyperspace in the Onderon system. In her quarters, Faule Frsai sat meditating - emptying her mind and herself in an ancient practice meant to perpare her better for the days ahead.

In the ship's Recreation Hall, trooper CE-1146 and the sniper from Alpha Squad were cleaning their weapons, and sharing a conversation with CE-1201, Alpha Squad's Demolitions Tech. The majority of the troopers were in the galley on the starboard side of the ship, sharing a meal with the small, grey Jedi Master.

When that side of the ship exploded, sending troopers and debri flying down the length of the ship and tearing into the starboard engines, Master Wyliss was lost along with seven of the 12 troopers.

Faule Frsai felt her former mentor's spirit pass into the Force almost before she felt the ship rock and lurch. The ship went momentarily black, and she could hear the roar of their atmosphere as it escaped into space. What seemed like a millenia later, the roar quieted down.

Faule escaped her quarters and saw that the Starboard side of the ship had been sealed off.

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