Episode 65: Fire and Fury
“I thank you for your assistance, Master Jedi.” Said Queen Mother Alasunin, now the sounds of battle were no longer so close. “And to you, all of you,” She added upon seeing the crew of the Dawnstar.
“I would save your thanks until we are somewhere safe, your majesty.” Said Stebe, administering healing to Lanyef, and offering the same to Jace.
“I’ll walk it off.” Muttered Jace, despite Rebeka’s insistence he let Stebe help him. Once the four of them were able to move on they headed for the safehouse they’d arranged ahead of time, the sounds of battle still raging across the city. They met up with Stoe and Gared, along with the rest of the resistance leaders there. After greeting and thanking them, she returned her attention to Stebe and them.
“Once again, thank you for your aid. It’s rare for offworlders to risk there lives for us.” She said bowing respectfully, then going with Gared while Stoe went to them.
“As promised, I will share what information we have to help your search for Taivus.”
What few scouts they had to send out had recorded no contact from the System of Porfrana, a System in the Rim world sector of the cluster. There was supposed to be a colony in this system, and the scouts reported virtually no Imperial presence, which was off given how methodic the war had been.
“That sounds unusual.” Said Stebe.
“Will we be on our own?” asked Rebeka.
“This is your fight, your path. I will remain and help the people of Hapes, see if we can’t liberate the planet. Return to the Hearthfire, treat your wounds and set off when your ready. The Hearthfire will be flying support, so will remain unengaged. With the bulk of there forces concentrated on Hapes, hopefully that’ll give you the chance you need to find there leader.”
They left Hapes quickly and returned to the Hearthfire to rest and tend to there injuries, before setting out a couple of days later. Shrada helped Jace and Lanyef recover, speeding there recovery rate before they finally set off for the Rim worlds. They geared up and took what medical supplies they had in there medbay, expecting they would need them, along with all the other gear they had stowed aboard the Dawnstar. After three hours of hyperspace travel they arrived in the Porfrana System, 7 planets moving around a star. There initial scans indicated no ships in the system, proving the initial findings correct. They scanned each planet in turn. The first was a barren world devoid of life and technology. The second was an ocean world with an abundance of life but no actual technology. The third was a temperate world, devoid of animal life but lush in forests. The fourth was the world the colonists lived on initially, but despite the cities they found, no life signs were detected. On they moved to the fifth world, another barren world, followed by another barren world with abandoned mining Zones. Porfrana I was the last planet in the system, and despite it’s inhospitable volcanic nature, they detected not only habitats and technology, but life signs as well. With no other leads they investigated, detecting a large facility with turbolaser defences and a couple of transports, imperial in nature. Jace theorised a full frontal assault on the base would only get them killed, but they still had the element of surprise. Jace instead suggested moving into the base on foot. The surface was uncomfortable but survivable and given the facility was perched on the shore of a lake of magma, they only need disrupt the heat shields and gravity pillars to plunge it into the lake. They landed on the outskirts and after gearing up, opened the ramp out to the blistering heat of the planet. Even with the breath masks and all temperature cloaks, the Heat was unbearable. The half an hour they spent walking to the base was almost like hours for everyone but Jace, who was comfortable in his sealed environment. After half an hour, Rebeka was finding it hard going.
“I thought coming from Tatooine you’d be used to heat.” Said Jace.
“Tatooine doesn’t have Lava Jace!” she complained.
They paused to scope the base from a distance, Jace unable to make anything out with his electrobinoculars, shorting out due to the heat. He passed them to Rak who could make out the platform and transports, as well as Banshee Droids, unloading the transports. A scan before they left the ship indicated that as well as the main entrance into the facility on the platform there was also a ventilation shaft close to there side that could also offer a quiet entrance. Using there grapples they hurriedly climbed up to the ventilation shaft and wasted no time in entering the maintenance shaft. They crept through the large vent to another grill, peering down into a dark corridor below. They heard the sounds of industry from beyond the corridor Rebeka hazarded it was a production line of sorts given the repetitive nature of the sounds. Before they got out the vent, Rebeka dropped one of her spare screws as a distraction, but didn’t seem to alert anyone. She then gently helped Jace lift the grill out, dropping a couple more screws by accident but thankfully not alerting anyone to there presence, and receiving a shush from Jace, returning it with a rude gesture. Jace looked into the room, able to see more than his companions in the dark thanks to his infra red vision, seeing several doors and corridors and a banshee droid moving to the left. He swung silently back up and gestured emphatically, none of them able to pick up his signals.
“Are you alright? Are you having a seizure?” asked Rebeka.
“…No. There is a Banshee heading left, down there.” Muttered Jace into the Comm.
“Oh, that’s what all this was.” Gestured Rebeka emphatically.
“Yes, we’ve been over this.”
After the mild domestic they crept down into the dark corridor carefully and quietly. As they cautiously crept through the dark Rebeka recalled the droids would have the advantage in such dim light with the myriad of sensors they were equipped with. Rebeka opened one of the doors experimentally, discovering unused Quarters.
“Should we check anymore?” asked Rebeka.
“Doesn’t look like much of this area is used,” replied Jace quietly, moving to the crossroads the droid moved down. Several signs on the opposite wall declared the area to be the crew quarters, with administration and barracks further into the facility. The platform and Storage was to the right as predicted, while the way the droid went suggested cells. It seemed further into the complex as well was the Cargo holds, the armoury, production and control centre. The droid was heading for the cells they thought.
“Where to?” hissed Rebeka.
“If we’re going to dump this place into the lava, we should check to make sure we don’t dump anyone who doesn’t deserve it.” Said Jace, following the droids path. They reached the cells undetected, readying before the door, Lanyef readying his Ion pistol while the others readied there weapons. They listened at the door, Lanyef and Rebeka hearing someone shouting on the other side of the door. Lanyef opened the door with a slicing tool, the door opening to reveal the prison. And it’s guards. The berserker screeched, unphasing the four of them, who had heard the scream many times, but terrifying the prisoners of which there seemed to be dozens. The Banshee and Berserker charged toward them as three more Banshee’s closed on the intruders from the other corridors. Rak fired on the Berserker, hitting it severely with a rifle shot as he moved to cover. Lanyef fired on the same droid, hitting it’s shields and deactivating them, but barely damaging the droid. Jace let rip with his Carbine, decimating the Berserker in a barrage of shots, Rebeka adding her fire to his, damaging the droid beyond it’s capacity, but still it unrelented, Storming up to there beach head at the door. Rebeka suffered a minor graze as it hit her with a lightsaber, and another minor cut from a Banshee’s sword. Rak destroyed the Berserker with a quick shot, then fired on the Banshee, damaginging the droid in a hail of shots while Lanyef took down the shields of two of the droids. Jace obliterated one droid with his carbine, then focused on the next in turn, destroying that two before having to reload. Rebeka blasted the remaining nearest droid as they returned fire, missing Jace and Rebeka while Rak blasted the damaged droid further. Lanyef hit it with Ion, lowering it’s shields and damaging it’s systems, Jace and Rebeka blasting it away with Heavy Pistols, Making the doid give it’s death screech and suddenly silence save the sounds of production. Upon closer inspection of the sobbing whimpering cells there were dozens of people packed into cells that should normally only accommodate perhaps nine or ten people at a stretch. They were trying desperately to see them.
“Are they blind?” said Rebeka as she looked at all the concerned and frightened Hapans.
“No, “Hapan’s are pretty, but they can’t see in the dark.” It’s an old saying with some truth, centuries of living in the everbright Hapes cluster means even a mild darkness makes them blind practically.”
“Well you don’t look like droids.” Said a man, clearly not Hapan given that he could see them.
“That’s good.” Said Rebeka.
“Are you our lords and masters? I don’t think you are if you’re destroying your own droids though.”
Jace sent BMO on to check for droids and to see the size of the prison. Rebeka and Lanyef recognised the mans voice as that of the man who was shouting prior to there entry. He was clearly from the core due to his accent, so was either a traveller or an immigrant among the Hapans. Jace lit a glow rod to give some of the Hapans sight on them, though the sight of a mandalorian wasn’t going to be much comfort.
“You haven’t got any food have you? We’re starving.” Said the man. Rebeka handed over all the sweets she had in her possession, and he distributed them to the children locked up with them.
“How did you get here?” asked Rebeka.
“The majority of the people are Hapans, so they likely came from the Colony here in this system. This is more or less what’s left of it.”
“How did you get here?” asked Jace, pointing to the man.
“I was taking a pleasure cruise, but this isn’t exactly either.”
“Why would you take a pleasure cruise here?” said Rebeka
“I wouldn’t my dear, I was heading to the colony. I heard it was as beautiful as Hapes at half the cost so I jumped at the chance. I went to Porfrana IV and that’s when the Empire invaded and shipped most of us survivors here.”
“Do you know why?”
“I Could Hazard a guess.” He said, looking at one of the broken scourge droids.
“How many people have been taken since you arrived.” Asked Jace as the others felt uncomfortable.
“No Idea. I’m sure we weren’t the first though.”
“Know anyone who can handle a blaster?”
“I know thats anyone here from the core, the Hapans won’t see well enough to shoot I reckon.”
“We did come in a transport, but we can’t really take anyone with us.”
“There are some imperial transports on the platform back that way, you have any pilots?”
“I’m a pilot myself, There are so many people here somebody must be able to at least get them off the ground.”
They found the Cell unlock and opened each one, letting them all out to stretch there legs.
“Wait here, take the guns from these droids and get going when we say. Split into two groups, one for each shuttle.” Said Jace.
“I’ve a better idea,” said the man, “You leave and we’ll lock the door behind you, and if you could clear the way out for us, that would be good. I’m sure we could manage, but you seem to have experience taking out these droids. Also I could bet you’d have an easier time of it when you’r not trying to protect these people too.”
“One more thing, if you could destroy this place, I think most people past and present would appreciate it. I shudder to think what these droids do here.”
“Is there no one besides droids ever come in here?” asked Rebeka.
“Some of the older prisoners remember there being people here, but they left before I was here and left the droids running things.”
The Man, whose name was Wiley, begun handing out the few blasters available to those who weren’t Hapan, Jace gave him a couple of Glow rods to make it easier for the Hapans to see where they were going. The Dawnstar Crew headed the opposite way out of the prison after giving Wiley Rebeka’s Comm to clear out any droids that may get in there way. They moved quietly down the corridor. Jace paused momentarily as they moved, Rebeka not paying attention running into him and starting to bicker in hushed voices. The slightly louder whispering was enough to alert two droids that sprinted out of a junctioned Corridor. Rak blasted one of the Banshees to pieces before it reached them, the other returning fire, missing Rebeka by mere inches. She fired on the droid, damaging it, Jace hitting it with several pistol shots, destroying the droid. They pressed on, quietly once more, but still Jace was only able to keep his creeping down to the occasional loud stomp, alerting the two banshee’s coming off the platform into the storage area. They dropped the boxes they were carrying and readied there rifles. Lanyef hit both with his ion pistol, disabling there shields. Rak followed the shots up with his own shots, taking out one of the droids and damaging the other. Several more droids were alerted to the attack as they tried to catch them in a crossfire, there shots missing all four of them. Rebeka opened fire on the remaining droid before them along with Jace, destroying it, and attacking the droids exiting the storage area beside them, damaging one. Lanyef took the shields down of the two droids coming down the corridor. Rak damaged another droid in the storage area further as Lanyef was hit by a stray shot from the droids along with Rebeka. She returned fire on the storage area Banshees, destroying one while Jace destroyed the other in a shower of Metal. Jace spun on the others, blasting another to pieces, leaving one remaining. Lanyef hit it with several Ion bolts that disabled a few small systems, Rak using the lapse in it’s systems to fill it full of blaster fire, destroying it.
They had cleared out the droids between the landing pad and the prison. The pad was free of any droids, and the transports appeared unmanned. They checked the cargo they were unloading. The majority were filled with ores, but one of the boxes was filled with the face masks used by the dark sisters. The golden casts of a womans face were eery, there eyeless visages were too perfect. They checked the transports outside to ensure there were no other droids or cargo taking up space before returning to the facility. They chose to clear out the facility further and give the prisoners the all clear signal once the facility was more or less under there control, especially with the turbolasers outside.
“The ways mostly clear but there could be more droids.” Said Jace to Wiley on the comm.
“Okay, we’ll keep the door shut until you signal.” Replied Wiley.
“Tell him I want my Comm back when he’s done,” Said Rebeka.
“We’ll rendezvous in orbit.” Said Jace, and they pressed on into the facility.
They avoided the patrols and reached a junction that seemed to lead to a large storage area down either way, The large cargo Holds were either way. Jace used BMO to confirm there was indeed a large door at either end of the long corridor and chose to go right. They listened at the door, but heard nothing save for the sounds of industry. Entering, they discovered a huge cargo hold filled with gantries and rows of small storage units. Each one housed an active Banshee or Berserker Droid, and there were thousands of them.
“Rebeka, is there anyway we can destroy these droids while they’re all collected like this? Like on meera when they all commited suicide.” Said Jace.
“I don’t know, if they were using electricity to recharge maybe, but we’d need to reach the control centre for me to figure out what to do.” She whispered.
Jace hazarded there must be over 15,000 in this one room alone, certainly a small army, and wondered if there were more of these facilities out there. Least they could do was stop this one, and they pressed on into the hold.