Artefacts of Old

Episode 23: The Sickness

Kamino! While having the information they retrieved translated, the Orb of Lanaya is believed to be found on Kamino. After frustrating debate with the Kaminoan Offical Runa Min, Jace, Rak, Lanyef and Rebeka are given permission to search the ruins for master Anstaks Legacy. But unlike our Valiant heroes, Black Sun once again attempts to steal what they cannot possess…

Rebeka searched the body of the fallen Quarren leader, finding only a blaster, vibroblade and credit chit. Lanyef and Rak searched the other bodies but found the only thing of interest was a couple of tattoos of a black sun.
“Know them?” asked Jace.
“Not personally.” Said Rak.
“Doesn’t really matter now.” Said Rebeka.
They headed out swimming back up the glasscretia rail tunnel, and out into the ocean once more. Jace activated his jet pack and held onto everyone as he launched them towards the surface at a considerable rate. Then the waters cleared and they broke the ocean’s surface not far from the ship, they swam over and got aboard, resting there aching bodies and taking massive gulps of untanked air.
The pilot came onto the deck, “I take it the Quarrens caused you no trouble.”
“You knew they were here?” said Lan.
“No… A ship deposited them in the water shortly before security frightened it off. Is your business concluded?”
“It would seem so.” Said Rebeka.
“In that case, I will take you back to the city.”

The Shuttle returned directly to the pad they had left on, the whole group relieved the ordeal was over. Runa Min was waiting for them when they arrived, and remained in their path as they approached.
“Well, is there anything to explain the fascination down there?” he asked.
“…No.” said Rebeka.
“Bunch of dead Quarrens.” Said Rak.
“If there ever was, it doesn’t look like there is now.” Said Jace.
Runa didn’t look pleased about the answer, “I see…” he said after a moment. “Then the mystery deepens. Kina, ensure our guests return to their ship.” And with that he walked away into the city.
Kina returned Lanyef’s suit and escorted them back to their ship.
“Thank you for visiting Kamino, I hope you enjoyed your stay.” Said Kina, bidding them farewell at the door to the platform where the Dawnstar was landed. They got aboard, dressed and took off, and with the Orb in their possession headed for Meera.

On the way, Rebeka decided that she would contact the Jedi Stebe in order to see about returning the lightsabers she had recovered. She contacted her, finding her crouched behind something it appeared.
“Hi…Uh, you couldn’t give me a few minutes?” she said apologetically.
“Uh…sure.” Said Rebeka, puzzled. Stebe signed off and twenty minutes later returned the call.
“Hello again.”
“Hello, is everything alright?” she asked out of curiosity.
Stebe smiled, “Yes, perfectly.” It didn’t seem she was going to divulge what she was doing. “Are you having problems?”
“no, I just wanted to say I found these lightsabers, I was wondering if you would be interested.” Rebeka tried to show them and Stebe concentrated on the viewer in her hand. “They don’t work or anything.”
“Nevertheless, they are artefacts of the Jedi. Items we desperately need returned. Where are you headed next?”
“Meera.”
“Alright, I’ll contact the Jedi Council, a representative will be dispatched to pick them up.”
“Of course.”
“What about you? Are you alright?” Stebe said seriously.
“I’m fine.” Said Rebeka.
Stebe did not appear satisfied by this answer, but she didn’t press the issue. “Alright, I hope to hear from you again.”
“you will, good luck with whatever you were doing.”

The Hyperspace alarm went off three days ahead of schedule. They emerged out of Hyperspace in an empty area of space. According to Lanyefs scans they were still in wild space and somewhat off course. Rebeka checked the engines and found them to be functioning correctly, so they had no option but to plot a new course, adding another two days to there travelling time. They entered hyperspace again, after two days suffering some slight turbulence that took them additional ten hours of travel to adjust for. But eventually they arrived at Meera. They landed planetside and headed straight for Terrn’s office.
“Good to see you made it, were you successful?” asked Terrn as they entered. Jace handed over the Orb and Terrn took it in his hands. He stared at it for a few minutes then shrugged,
“huh, it doesn’t do anything.” He said disappointed.
“good.” Said Jace.
“Oh don’t be dismayed this is certainly the orb we are looking for, I guess it was rumour only after all. Still the important thing is it’s out of Sith hands. I will wire the amount of forty thousand to your accounts, this should be more than satisfactory? Oh yes, also, here is your account number, Rak, welcome aboard.” As the group decided who got what, Terrn placed the orb on a desk nearby, then returned to his desk.
“I do however have some bad news.” He said gravely, “it seems that our recovery of these artefacts is now a chase. The Governor on Ord Mantell who possessed one of the vases had his mansion raided by mantellian seperatists. Fortunately the Republic managed to reclaim the grounds and the building, but the vase wasn’t there when they reclaimed it. I asked them to do a thorough sweep to see if anyone slipped out during the fighting and came across this…” he said, putting a holoviewer on the desk. The image it displayed was of the mantellian seperatists setting up defensive positions in a courtyard outside a set of doors assumedly into the mansion. Then the doors burst open and a wookiee charged into the defences, slaughtering them with either the huge lightsaber he wielded, or with his paw. Seconds after, a Selkath left, fighting more defensively, holding the vase in one hand, and defending with the other. The hologram froze, and the vase was enhanced in the image.
“There can be no doubt now, the Scourge are after the artefacts as well.”
“well, there goes one of our options.” Said Rebeka.
“unfortunately no one saw these sith leaving, so we have no idea where they are now. As you say however the only option remaining is the Kirian System and the Datacron held there.”
“Supposedly containing information on Immortality.” Said Rebeka.
“Quite.”
“That could be useful.” Said Jace.
“I have no intention of following this ‘path of immortality’ nonsense, more that I want to ensure the sith don’t get it.”
“Yeah, that seems more pressing, we can get the vase after this.”
“Fortunately we have one of the three vases in our possession, and as it’s part of a set they display a map to somewhere, they are more or less worthless alone.”
“You are guarding these artefacts?” said Rak.
“of course, I try to ensure maximum security for all the artefacts.” Said Terrn levelly. “ I have doubts the Sith know where in the Kirian system the Datacron is, just as we don’t. we only know it was sent to this system, but as far as we know there is nothing there. Still, I expect you may find something out there, so good luck, and I look forward to your success.”

Before leaving the System, the party docked with the station and Sold off the artefacts they had in there possession. Rebeka handed her lightsabers over to a security officer, who insisted he would have them kept in sergeant Lerayl’s office until the Jedi representative arrived. Rebeka left Stebe a message about where they were found, who they belonged to as well as a greeting, and handed them over. They also went shopping for ship parts, so that if they were out in space and something needed replacing, they could probably do so without waiting for the force to provide it. As Rebeka wandered the station, she came across Taylen and Bob in Slim Pickings, and gave them a wave.
“Still rainchecking?” asked Taylen Jovially. Despite his comment, Rebeka still decided to spend some time with them, and after half an hour of being kicked and nudged, Bob made his apologies and left intentionally. They spoke a little while longer about this and that, and while Rebeka made out that there job was boring, Maverik still insisted she stay safe. They didn’t stay much longer, but Taylen happened to mention he had some time off coming and offered they spend it together. Rebeka politely suggested looking into it, but inside she wanted to tell him that she was only really interested in being friends. She returned to the ship in almost practically a run, and made a mental note to find a way to let him down gently. But she redirected her concentration to travelling to the Kirian System and once everyone was aboard they made there way out of System.

Rebeka fixed her goggles perfectly while Jace practiced with the lightsabers he acquired during the trip through hyperspace. Four days later they arrived in the Kirian system. Lanyef got on the scanners and begun checking for other Ships.
“I don’t detect any other ships in the area.” He said.
“I guess we just check out the planets then.” Said Rak, and they headed for the furthest planet from the sun.
It was a dead world, no life, crater pocked, no technology, nothing. So they carried on. The second planet was similar, the third was life sustainable, and indeed had life signs, but no technology of any kind. The fourth planet was a desert world with no breathable atmosphere and strong winds, no technology again though. The final planet was a boiling rock with ridiculously strong tidal seas, again void of technology. They’d been 3 hours and there was nothing here it seemed.
“We could always scan the sun.” joked Lanyef, but everyone actually considered this.
“Well, why not, I’ll get us as close as we can,comfortably.” Lanyef scanned the sun as they neared it.
“I’m picking up a faint Sensor ghost near the sun. Could be interference from the Sun itself, but might explain why Terrn couldn’t find anything.”
They flew around the sun to investigate, and found a space station impossibly close to the sun.
“Are there life signs?” asked Jace.
“Can’t tell, the Suns own magnetic field is disrupting the sensors.” Said Lanyef.
The station appeared to be a little smaller than Meera was, but seemed fairly impressive all the same. It’s design wasn’t standard, but then it shouldn’t be if it was sustaining orbit this close to the sun. The doors of the hangar bays were open, so they headed inside. As they landed they noticed a lot of disruption in the power to the station, particularly with regard to the lighting, which flickered on and off. It was impressive, either the tremendous amount of power needed to keep the station operational was being redirected, or the sun itself was causing the disruption. They landed in the bay and headed out, lowering the ramp. the air of the station was old as though it hadn’t been breathed in centuries. As they headed for the ramp, Jurl voiced his concern about the station.
“What’s up?”
The droid seemed unsure, Rebeka checked him over, but his functions seemed correct.
“You should eally think about memory wiping that thing.” Murmured Jace.
“No.” said Rebeka, then looked back at the jittery droid. “Don’t worry, stay in the cockpit, you’ll be safer there, and don’t worry about us.” She said, giving him a reassuring pat. The droid still seemed afraid though as he watched them go. As they left the ship it became apparent the musty air was worse than they had gathered, and Rebeka and Lanyef put on there breath masks. They decided to head up to the docking control station, to see if they could find a log of how long it had been since a ship had been here. The control room had given up regarding light, but the consoles still flickered on and off, rebooting persistently that it was awkward to even try to use them. Rak had lit his glow rod as they searched the dusty room, and started a download of the log. Checking it on his datapad he read the information he’d salvaged.
“Says the last ship to arrive here was a transport carrying livestock, about a year ago.” He said.
“Bit unusual for a space station, unless they like there fresh meat.” Said Jace. With nothing else salvageable they returned to the docking bay and left by the exit. The door opened and there noses were assaulted by the tinny smell of blood, congealed on the deck of this corridor, the walls were smeared with it and everyone but Rak’s attention was drawn to the emblem on the wall. The sith symbol pierced by a dagger, with Black wings on either side of it. It looked to be as old as the station.
“I guess it’s an imperial station,” said Rebeka as Rak gave in and put his breath mask on.
Jace examined the stains. “They’ve been here a while, I’d guess about five months.” The lighting situation in the corridor was as bad as the hangar, lights flickered down the corridor, shapes littered the corridor further up, and the poor light made them appear to move. They moved cautiously down the corridor, blasters ready and pointed at the shapes, until they were close enough to realize the pulped messes were unlikely going to be harmful.
“Human, or used to be. Looks like they were torn apart by several animals.”
“Wookie?” said Rak.
“Could be.” Murmured Jace.
“Imperial armour,” said Rebeka, looking at another body that had remains of it’s gear strewn about it. They pressed on, the corridors lighting changed dramatically from section to section. As did the number of corpses and signs of struggle. At one point Rebeka and Lan noticed the blood on the floor in one area was black in colour but none of them could fathom any species that had black blood. There progress was halted when they reached a blast door. Blood sprayed down from it at the opening and a severed arm on the ground suggested someone definitely wanted out. Lanyef started accessing the blast door and got it to open, but a sudden power loss caused it to open only half way. Rebeka peered through, to see if the coast was clear. It seemed to be, bodies littering the corridor beyond. The body the arm belonged to was not there, and appeared to have been dragged off down the nearby corridor. They forced the door the rest of the way, opening it fully, and carried on. They heard no real sound save for the throbbing of the stations power source, the flickering of semi functioning lights and there own foot steps. As they wandered they came across more doors to rooms. The first being a communal bathroom for the stations residents, that hadn’t seen use in at least a year. Jace sent BMO to follow the left wall and return if he came across anything living, while they continued there search. The rooms were mostly bunk areas, usually allowing for about four people. They were in disarray, wardrobes and bunk sheets strewn across the decking, but none of them seemed sinister. They continued checking rooms, Jace had been coughing more and more frequently as they went.
“You alright?” asked Lan.
“I’m fine, let’s just find what we’re here to find and leave.” He managed, but he was already having trouble breathing.
“Lets hurry then.” Said Rebeka.
“I said I’ll be fine,” said Jace continuing the search. The rooms in this corridor looked like they had less of a warning, a few bunks had been savaged just as much as the people in them. Still it looked as old as the other bodies. After a few more rooms searched, BMO returned, having detected moving lights in the corridor up ahead.
The group hurried to a bunk room near the junction where the lights were detected and switched off there glow rods.
As the light sources became visible, Jace ordered BMO to head out into the hall and create a distraction. The droid did so, bumping into a wall switch and opening and closing a door back the way they had come. The figures stopped moving momentarily and headed down the corridor passed there partially open door to investigate the noise. All of them wore white armour, the armour of the republic, which confused them. However, they had little time to consider this as one of them shone a light in the room they were hiding in and caught them.
“You there! Come on out!” barked one of the troopers. “Say something, now!”
“Hold your fire. We’re friends of the Republic.” Said Jace, readying his pistols in case it went sour.
“Everyone say something now!” barked the trooper again, his squad had readied there weapons at the emerging party.
“Hi!” said Rebeka hurriedly.
“hello.” Said Lan.
“something,” said Rak as they opened the door and came into view.
The troopers shone there light sources away. “They don’t look like Sith, are they slaves?” said one, another male.
“No,” said the Female Twi’lek, wearing similar armour to the rest of the squad but with a specially designed breath mask. “that one’s a mandalorian, last I heard they don’t help slaves. Who are you?”
“Independent contractors.” Said Rak.
“Sounds like Sith Sympathizers to me.” Growled the first man, his armour denoting he was in command.
“Sir I don’t think they’re Sith Sympathizers.” Said another trooper, a woman at the back of the squad. “I think I recognise them from somewhere.”
The woman produced a holoviewer, and after sweeping several pages of information aside, pictures of the group appeared, though Rak was not one of them but U’tl was. The large trooper with the rotary carbine rubbed his helmet.
“Well I’ll be damned, it’s the people who sent us the information about this stuff.” He said.
“Nice to meet you.” Said Rebeka, still a little puzzled. Jace coughed again and the Leader looked back at the Twi’lek.
“No’laa, see to this one.” He said. The woman nodded, removing her mask, Rebeka suddenly thought it was the Nola they had rescued but she was a different woman entirely. She removed several hypodermics, handing one to each of them.
“You better take this now, before the Sickness gets you.” She warned.
“Sickness?” said Lan. Rebeka couldn’t put the needle in fast enough.
Jace examined the fluid, a Red colour, but given how he was feeling, it seemed like he had better do so. The other troopers removed there helmets, about half the group was human. The large trooper was bald with a few scars, one across his jaw and missing a couple of teeth. The other human was a youngish man, no older than Rebeka, with short dark hair. The woman who wasn’t No’laa was a Mirialan, a green-skinned near-human with diamonds tattooed on her face. The other man who hadn’t spoken was a rather distinguished human with a bionic eye, and finally the Leader, a gruff bearded human with dark hair.
“I’m Commander Halen Finn of Raven Squad. And this is the rest of Raven Squad.”
“Sargeant Sarin Yuffee, Reconnaissance.”
“Sargeant Rob Gren, most call me Dozer” said the large human.
“Nice gun,“ said Jace.
the big man grinned, “I like to think so.”
“Lieutenant Ioca Kurn,” said the young human.
“Lieutenant Commander Bruck Graff, Demolitions.” Said the last trooper with the bionic eye.
“Brucks a Cyborg.” Said Kurn. “Not that that’s a problem, sir.” He added hurriedly.
“What about you? We’ve got some names but he’s an unknown.” Said Halen, gesturing to Rak.
They introduced themselves.
“uhuh… what are you doing here? As far as we understood you passed on the information and wiped your hands of it. So why are you here?”
“It turns out there’s something else here that we want.” Said Rebeka. “Maybe.”
“Hopefully,” added Lanyef.
“Really. What’s that?” asked Halen.
“we’re looking for a datacron, though it’s like looking for a grey hair on a Bantha pelt.”
Raven squad looked at each other.
“That’s probably in the labs if it’s here,” said Sarin.
“Have you been there yet?” asked Lan.
“No, we’ve only just come aboard. We left the starboard dock and made our way here, it’s just domiciles and kitchens here.” Said Bruck.
“Could you take us to the lab?” asked Rebeka. As Jace called BMO back.
“Sir, it would be useful to have more people on this, especially what we’re facing out here.” Said Sarin.
“What?” asked Rebeka warily.
“Which is?” asked Rak.
Raven Squad again exchanged glances. The party looked anxious, then Halen shook his head, and Sarin continued. “The Original Raven Squad was sent to the Star of Coruscant to investigate the information you had retrieved. They found it overrun by a Sickness that kills the infected then uses the body to spread more of it. The Original Raven Squad was successful in it’s mission to eliminate the threat, but at the cost of nearly the whole squad, but Commander Finn. He also located the Jedi’s navicomputer records and identified this station as the source of the Sickness. Now we’re here to finish the job by destroying this station by dropping it into the sun.”
“It’s the only way, shooting the bastards doesn’t kill them.” Said Halen glumly. “we had to destroy the ship to stop them, dumping them into the sun is our only option here too.”
“Well, I’m glad you found us before you did.” Said Rebeka.
“Yeah, lucky for you.” Muttered Halen, replacing his helmet.
“Let’s get what we came for and drop this place into the sun.” said Jace, tired of talk.
“I couldn’t agree more.” Said Halen, leading the way. Raven Squad and the Dawnstar crew headed off down the last corridor at the junction and kept moving. Jace and Dozer discussed his gun up until the point Halen ordered them to cut the chatter. The number of bodies seemed to increase the more turnings they made.
“Any idea what caused all this?” asked Rak aloud.
“The Sickness.” Spat Halen. “Keep your eyes open, Raven squad, stay sharp.” They passed over bodies, keeping there eyes about the corridor in the dimness. Rebeka and Lan managed to spot a twitch from one of the corpses.
“Halen,” whispered Rebeka from behind him. “I think we might have company. It might just be paranoia but that guy moved.”
“Which one?” said Halen, calling a halt.
“there,” said Rebeka, gesturing to the corpse that twitched with her gun. Halen moved his rifle over it and shot it several times. The body didn’t move.
“you’re sure?” he said.
“Positive.” She said, the others were on alert thanks to his actions.
“everyone, stay together.” He said, but held his position, then after a few seconds he motioned them on, moving them cautiously over the bodies. Then a body leapt from the ground grabbing Ioca from the back, letting out a shrill piercing shriek as the dead human woman grabbed him, and suddenly all the bodies were jumping to there feet and grabbing for them.
“Spast!” cried Rebeka in shock. The corpses scratched, raked and bit at the group, causing slight scratches to Rak and Dozer while Ioca wrestled the woman off him. Rak blasted one in the chest, a shot that would fell a man, but the corpse continued to grab for the group. The corpses were bleeding the black blood they’d been seeing, despite there human appearance. Guns flashed as the squad fired on the corpses, shredding a few but still they persisted. Jace killed a couple with headshots, the corpses flopping to the floor. Rebeka fired on another dropping it and missing wide of another. Ioca was bitten by his assailant as Rak took her down, blasting her again for good measure. The squad continued to fire, Bruck reloading as the others continued to fire. Dropping a few more .
“Grenade!” called Jace, tossing one behind the horde of moving creatures, blowing up 3 of them, shredding there already mutilated bodies with shrapnel. Lanyef fired on another, burning a portion of it’s face but still it moved. Rebeka blasted two more, a woman collapsing under her blasts as Dozer took another minor scratch. Rak blasted his attacker down as the squad terminated the final few. Everyone shot a few more times, making certain the bodies ceased moving.
“Status.” Said Halen.
“Living,” said Rak.
“clear,” chorused Bruck, No’laa and Sarin.
“yeah, clear.” Said Ioca.
“yep,” said Dozer, hefting the smoking carbine.
“We’re fine,” said Rebeka.
“good.” Said Lan.
“Any injuries?” said Halen.
“All green Commander,” said No’laa, “A few scrapes, but they’ll live.”
“We better keep moving, they may have stopped moving, but that doesn’t mean the others won’t start.” He said, leading the group further down the dark corridors of Black Wing Station.

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