Dawn of Defiance
Echoes of the Jedi
Episode IV Echoes of the Jedi Pt 1.
Talina, you are on Alderaan once more, on the edge of a remote fjord – it is the location of the secret meditation retreat. The night sky is overcast and gloomy as you approach the humble ruins of the hidden temple.
Pulverized trees surround you. An Imperial warning beacon is staked in the ground, blinking against trespassers, as if anyone would ever come here.You sense a familiar presence here, and you approach the thick charred beams. Behind, in the darkness, you know the edge of the cliff is missing, collapsed into the sea.
But you know someone is here. It’s why you came. Stepping through the crooked doorframe, you see the back of a tall chair facing the blackened river stone fireplace, the very pulpit from which you heard your first Jedi tales as a youngling.
“Would you lay down your burdens?” Master Uyama’s musical basso voices rumble in tandem, as they always did when he spoke Basic. The chair collapses into a heap of ash and coal.
“Talina?” The voices are behind you, harmonizing in an eerie chord.
Spinning, you see the hunched form of your old master, cloaked in shadow across the ruined room. Rags of cloth hang from him, almost touching the floor.
You hear a drawn out gasp from something outside the ruined walls — air drawn patiently across mechanical valves. You last heard that noise when the Jedi enclave was attacked on Alderaan, shortly after the Jedi decimation. The slow respiration continues, patiently outside, as a red lightsaber ignites in your master’s slender hand in front of you, bathing the room in firelight.
I am so happy you have returned. I have so much more to teach you.
You awaken to your new ship’s docking alarm. The Resurgence has entered the system and Bolo is preparing his approach.
Jedi Master Denia looks frail and tired beside Admiral Varth and Captain Verana.
My friends, your help to our cause has been invaluable and your dedication exemplary, but months of meditation on the Sarlacc project have come to naught. While it is unfortunate that, at Bespin, the slaves you rescued fled before you could gain more information about the Sarlaac project, your provocation has confirmed another piece of the puzzle – Inquisitor Draco himself. Despite the significant risk, we believe the Inquisitor himself may be a means of further discovery. Admiral Varth, if you would explain….
Varth looks more comfortable in the blue uniform of an Alderaanian ship officer than he did when you first rescued him from Felucia. Of late, he has begun to be more enthusiastic about aiding the Resistance in their efforts against the Empire, even joking from time to time, occasionally discussing war stories with Kayle, though these were often tinged with sadness as he considered how it ended.
The Inquisitorius are a secret division of Imperial Intelligence that appeared shortly after the end of the Clone Wars. They operate outside the military chain of command, though they may requisition considerable military assets. They are controlled by Darth Vader and The Emperor, and their primary task is to hunt remnants of the Jedi Order—living Jedi and their legacy.
According to our contacts, apparently Draco and The Assiduous were recently spotted at Ryloth, in pursuit of a Jedi Master who incited insurrections among the Twi’leks – a human by the name of Vhiin’Thorla. Apparently this Jedi escaped, along with a child. Draco remained on the planet for several days after, and was known to have interviewed many Twi’leks.
Immediately after leaving Ryloth, Draco requested that The Assiduous be brought to Hosk station above the tourist planet Kalarba for an early shore-leave and refit. They had a whole welcome mat for him, but Draco left immediately in a Theta-class shuttle, for parts unknown.
I know of this Vhiin’Thorla. He was a human Jedi who was offered the honour of Master of Lightsabers at the Almas Academy in the Cularin system, not long after the Clone Wars began. As I recall, the headmaster there (Lanius Qel-Bertuk) reported that Thorla was devastated by the loss of his Padawan at the hands of pirates, and he instead went into self-imposed exile. That decision, such as it was, may have saved his life, though he is still in danger. I suspected he might return to the Cularin system.
Talina, you may not have heard of Almas Academy or the Cularin system. It was a secret to all but the Jedi Council and those who attended. It was an experiment, born of necessity during the Clone Wars, in taking Padawans at older ages, up to and including adults who demonstrated a sensitivity to the Force. Almas also accepted many Jedi who were thought to be “troubled”, as a rehabilitative alternative to the Agricorps assignments. Almas was originally founded as an old Sith colony, and it is a place strong with the Dark Side. Study on Almas was said to be intentionally hard for Jedi and was sometimes viewed as a punishment by those who went there, but that is not fair – their headmaster Lanius was known to me – a serene man – and he viewed it as an intense trial of the spirit, as he called it, a stress test to make sure the students were ready for active field assignments. I knew him, and I know he cared for his students deeply.
You must wonder how this ties to Draco’s departure. Due to the unique astrogation factors of the Cularin system, I was aware of only two hyperspace vectors from which to enter safely, and one of them happens to be the tourist planet, Kalarba, the place where Draco was last seen. I don’t think it is a coincidence. Master Thorla must have returned to Almas to seek refuge, with Draco in pursuit. Why he chose to go without the Assiduous, I’m not sure, but I have a suspicion.
Talina, during your time at the Jedi Temple on Coruscant, you learned about holocrons—recording devices into which Jedi stored their wisdom to pass on to future generations. Some holocrons were created to help Jedi Masters penetrate the secrets of the Force. Even beings trained in the Jedi ways greatly benefit from such learning.
Many Masters at the Academy, including headmaster Lanius, were specially trained in the art of farseeing through the Force to better assess the potential of their students. Part of their regimen involved regular meditation on the Qornah holocron, which was kept at Almas, and which contained advanced farseeing techniques. If that holocron still exists on Almas and if it can be retrieved, I may be able to look deeper through The Force to discover the nature of the Sarlaac project. If Inquisitor Draco discovers it, it could make him into an even more formidable enemy.
So, my friends, we are asking you to travel to Almas Academy retrieve the Qornah holocron before Inquistor Draco gets it. If the Academy and its inhabitants have survived Palpatine’s treachery, ally with them and capture Inquisitor Draco. Perhaps outnumbered, he can be coerced into revealing something about Sarlaac.
The only way to Almas is to jump to the outer reach of the Cularin system from one of the two known entrance vectors. Your jump must be timed to land in the eclipse of one of the outer giants. An ancient Sith hyperspace beacon is located on each approach. If you time your jump correctly, you will have an hour to compute the next jump in system, and you will need it – The stars themselves cast massive and erratic mass shadows and the planets all have dense cores, which would make normal astrogation difficult, and there are millions of comets that fill the system. Once the planet passes, you jump in system to Almas immediately, preferably before your shields burn away from radiation from the neutron star. Almas itself is in a perpetual total eclipse from Cularin, a dead rogue star core that orbits in parallel, cooencentric orbit.
Jumping to Cularin
The heroes realized they were outclassed by the consular class vessel, which trained its tractor beam and multiple turbolasers on it, flanked by two escort Z95s.
The ships docked to the nose of the consular and a fierce battle followed, in which Gek used his jetpack to board the consular staging room, where he found himself quickly outnumbered. Talina and Kayle also boarded to help, and Kayle escaped just as the Blood Brother ejected the clamped ship. With the party split, and Talina and Gek trapped, Talina cut through the cieling into the weapons salon, surprising the gunners as the atmosphere roared through the hole. Gek and Talina killed the gunners and smashed the weapons. Kayle and Bolo directed them to the lifeboats to eject. Gek dropped through the floor and out the hull, while Talina snuck into the mostly depopulated ship, now on “Intruder Alert” to where the lifeboats were, and cut through the floor. Meanwhile, the acting captain of the Blood Brother made a beeline for the planet corona to cook off anyone exposed, and to escape from the smaller ship.
Mistakenly, she actually hulled the lifeboat, not thinking, and it was ruined. Now on the proper deck, she ran across to the lifeboat on the other side and ejected. The Blood Brother, lacking weapons, let them go. I believe you fought the escorts and blew them up.
You approach Almas Academy and the small city of Forard surrounding it – about 4 km in diameter. The dark spot looms at the horizon like a black tsunami, a null in the minimalist wash of blowing luminescent purple grasses below you. The sky is in perpetual eclipse, a hole looming at midday high, the dim pulsing ribbons of corona blending with a million comets.
There is no message to spacers, even as you close on the Forard. There are no lights, no space or air traffic. The city is circular, with the closest quadrant devoted to starports. A separate building complex juts off the southeast quadrant, outside of the city proper. The ground beneath the blowing purple grass is flat for hundreds of kilometers.
As you approach closer, you realize there is no ground traffic either. It appears to be entirely deserted. The nav computer indicates that the academy is located at the center of the city. You can see the definition of the buildings, mostly intact, save the central one, which appears to have collapsed. There are numerous large dead patches of the purple grasses here, exposing the dark pebbly gravel. You realize that this dead patch is likely the source of the dark spot.
You see no ships within any of the dozens of exposed ports, but there are plenty of roofed ones, in addition to the hundreds of square km surrounding Forrard.
You step outside into the dark. The wind is cold and desolate and smells faintly of garlic and old fashioned tindersticks as it blows across thousands of km of flat luminescent grasslands. It is deathly quiet in the city – like a place frozen in time. There are no intact vehicles, though there are several stripped ones. Nearly anything of value has been taken. The purple ambient light shines softly from the grasses, which grow about as tall as a man in every untended crack in pavement and structure here. There are no lights but the grass and the riot of comets in the sky – several of which are even passing between the dark side of the planet Cularin and Almas. Behind the black ball of Cularin, you see pinkish pulses of radiation from the pulsar. Nearly every doorframe of the neatly packed city has been opened, leaving thousands of black holes. Beautiful wrought iron sunglobes flank every street, unlit, like some black desolate orchard.
A ruined mag-lev train lies dead in the station. Its machinery has been stripped. One of its cars looks like it was torn open from the outside.
A playground stands deserted in the dark. Unoiled hinges squeak in the wind. On the wall of the school is written “Death to the unbelievers!”
Notes written on walls
_ Death to the unbelievers._
_ He lurks in the darkness._
As the group approached the ruined Jedi temple, they found a standoff between a group of small furry squibs and a group of large, gelatinous Uggors, fighting over the upper half of a protocol droid, who himself was commenting unfavourably on how Master Lanius never programmed him for dealing with this particular of denoument.
The heroes negotiated with both sides to get access to the “treasures” which included a holobook – a “holy holocron”, the droid and sundry bits. I believe you paid off the Uggors and offered the Squibs your respirators (they lacked respirator masks in the slightly toxic atmosphere). Just then, several large dark T’slissk lizards, positively radiant with Dark Side energy attacked everyone, savagely, eating several squibs and an Uggor, and wounding Kayle. Working together, the lizards were killed, and you penetrated the Jedi Temple.
Bolo or Gek found a live comlink – open to a dead channel. Leaving it on, after a while, he thought he heard voices amid the static but it was very hard to make out. Something about “traitor” and “betray”.
As part of your cache from the Uggors, you found a severed lightsaber with the crystal intact.
Entering the ruins:
The majestic white marble tower has collapsed into a mountain of white rubble, but there are portions of the main floor peaking through. The entrance is largely intact, a yawning black hole in an intact archway. The 5 meter high double doors have been ripped from their hinges and dragged away, likely for their material wealth. They aren’t here.
Even devastated, the Great Hall appears to be a marvel of architecture. The interior walls still standing are made from while Selonian marble, lined with thick veins of silver that knot where the wall and floor meet. Inlaid cases carved into the entry walls are set at a meter off the floor. They are each hanging open, and all empty.
Much of the ceiling and structure of the grand building has collapsed, except for the bracing beams that have propped against a line of massive iron statues of Jedi – which are holding the weight of the structure and rubble on their heads and shoulders, leaving a wide tunnel that is relatively clear, into the middle of the structure where the path widens into a larger room with some kind of structure as a focal point.
Moving past the Jedi statues, you see that they are being slowly crushed, split and bent from the enormous load there are bearing, distorting their figures and faces into tortured effigies of labour and futility. The building is not stable, and bits of rubble and pebbles still occasionally clatter from the ceiling.
Moving deeper, you find yourself in a large circular domeshaped room, half of which has completely caved in. There are 5 markble benches lined up along the curving wall on the left and an exit at the other end, which leads to another dark corridor. While the farthest half is filled with debris, the middle of the room containst a magnificent sculpture of a large humanoid hand, palm up and fingers extended in a welcoming gesture. It rises from the middle of a low, roughly circular wall of raw natural stone that encloses it – likely a fountain – though you don’t hear any water. There is some kind of liquid in the basin —black, smooth and oily.
Each of the benches has many synth lashings wrapped around the legs with, in each case, the dangling loose end cut.
As you approached the benches, the whole pool reared up in a flurry of oily black tentacles – which flew out to swipe at you, then abruptly sucked down a small hole, leaving the pool empty and dry.
As you enter the corridor, you feel a heavy vibration, like an earthquake or a blast, either deep underground or high into the rubble above. It is followed by several more immediately, and the room fills with the sound of clattering chunks of clattering ferrocrete and debris.
You see an open turbolift shaft – a gaping black hole that is completely blocked by crushing debris, which has jammed together like a cork in a bottle. It is pitch black in the shaft and you feel a radiant sense of evil emanating from it.
You climb down the sloping rubble pile that packs the bottom of the shaft and find yourself in at the intersection of two corridors that form an L junction. A thin coat of dust coast the floor, disturbed in places where there are footsteps and, apparently, something dragged.
The walls are reinforced white duraplast.
Either Gek or Bolo noted that Talina’s eyes were yellow. When they looked again, they were normal.
The voices came through on the comlink again, but hard to make out what they said “….kill…”
The droid 7A, wrapped in a net on Gek’s back, offered what little info he could on the situation. His information was limited because his photoreceptors were damaged and his legs crushed, so he’d been pinned under rubble for months until liberated by the scavengers.
The temple tower was completely crushed, but the sublevels were still largely intact. The ruins were shaky though, and there were occassional earthquakes. The temple was attacked by pirates, not the Imperials, and pulverized with ruthless efficiency. Without the temple and the Jedi, the population felt less safe (and less useful) and evacuated.
There was no power down here. The floor was dusty, though the dust was disturbed enough to see lots of traffic and dragging – many humanoid footprints.
You first came to the ruined vehicle hanger, collapsed and utterly destroyed.
Then you found the repair shop, picked clean except for sundry junk and debris by scavengers. You note the blast doors in most places seem to have had their maintenence panels hacked and are left open, power wires dangling.
You found the generator room next to it. The main generator was crushed but Bolo managed to get the smaller auxilliary generator running, which can power one sublevel at a time.
You also found a functioning repulsor sled.
You passed a number of empty meditation chambers and came to the control room.
Bolo spent some time to work restoring access to the databanks with Kayle on guard, while Gek and Talina rounded the corner to investigate the warehouses.
Bolo eventually got it partly running and revealed
1. a map of the level
2. a log of vehicles checked out of the hangar
3. power control within the level
4 lights (for one level at a time)
5. doors (for one level at a time).
6. security video archives (damaged, corrupted)
Checking the security videos, your best guess is that after the power went out, the security cams left functional switched to motion sensor mode to preserve batteries. There was a cam left in the upper grand hall (with the fountain and benches). There, Bolo and Kayle watched grainy footage as groups of darkly robed, tattooed humans were strapped into the benches by a cruel looking young woman with a red lightsaber, while a white haired figure menaged from the shadows. The robed figures were then attacked by the tentacles and would go berserk. Each time, the camera would overload after less than a minute – but the same scene was played out on at least 3 or 4 occassions. The next scene depicted the woman doing the same to a young Twilek boy, who, upon being attacked by the tentacle was released by the woman. The boy attacked another person – older – with a green lightsaber. THe boy had a blue one. The older person slashed the boy, cutting his saber and killing him. The woman laughed and the white haired man again loomed in the shadows, gesturing – possibly taunting. the camera cut out again.
The next video depicted grainy footage of a delapitated surgical bay with sterile white walls now browning with mildew. A half dozen tables clutter the center and Bolo saw the backs of several people, who he realized were themselves, the heroes. While two of the people were working desperately to revive a bloody third on the table (Bolo on the table – Gek and Kayle working first aid), Talina hung back, looked behind her for a moment – eyes yellow. She then ignited her lightsaber and began hacking and chopping at her friends – the camera cut out.
All data corrupted – irretrievable. Bolo conferred with Kayle on the shocking scene he’d witnessed, but Kayle didn’t know what he was talking about – he’d looked to the door after the scene with the boy – thinking it was over.
Bolo and Kayle ran to the warehouses to reveal everything they’d seen and heard, concluding that something was messing with their minds and that they’d have to be very very careful.
In the warehouse, their rummaging revealed a 30 cm box of smooth black Mandalorian iron (which was believed impenetrable by the Force). It had a strong lock (ultrahigh security p151 core) and was open and empty.
You finally went to the Library.
It was blasted, burned out, and ruined a firefight and melee, possibly grenades. You discovered a door, hidden by debris, which lead to a special archive – 7A says it was just for Jedi Masters. He’d never been in there.
the Archive was also charred – lots of older flimsiplast documents there. There were also twenty or so decomposing bodies gripping weapons. likely a firefight and melee – very bloody.
In the archive, they discovered that someone appeared to have rummaged a less damaged corner of Old Republic historical documents, and a makeshift desk assembled, presumably for reading. 7A helps you identify several fragments of documents – one dealing with a “Darth Rivan” and one dealing with a “Darth Revan” – apparently two ancient Sith Lords. The remainders of the flimsiplasts, whatever contents they contained are either incinerated or taken.
you gather their guns into a pile on the repulsor sled.
7A translates another scrap of Sith language.
“There is no passion…there is solely obsession.
There is no knowledge. There is solely conviction.
There is no purpose. there is solely will.
There is nothing…
Suddenly there is a deafening rumble like that of a giant waking from its slumber, thundering through the ruins. and a violent quake throws everything into chaos. Bolo spots motion sensors blinking in the room, already tripped. In the library outside, shelves shatter and smash. The blast doors close, trapping you in blackness except for your glowrod.
Suddenly, to your sickening horror, several (not all) of the decaying corpses begin to move and shamble, rising. Yellowish light dances in their cavernous eye sockets. you see some stairs downward, deeper, but you will need to go through the bodies to get there.
The heroes “killed” the corpses – which were animated by Dark Side Force parasites, they proceeded down the staircase.
The found two small Mandalorion iron strong boxes in a storage room, each a cubic foot in size. It was believed impenetrable by the force (though this is just a myth), but the iron is resistant to many type of energy. The boxes have a very strong (ultrahigh) security lock).
The Dark Side is stronger down here and you all feel a deep sense of unease. Force Sensitive characters can feel it as a palpable presence that must be actively resisted. (When using Light-Side Force Checks, you suffer a 1d20+5 attack vs Will Defense or take -5 penalty on using Light Side powers. Sense Force is useless here – the Dark Side is a cacaphony here. It drowns out everything else.
The lights are spotty and dim, flickering.
You found a blaster shooting range and an armory with several usable blaster pistols (7) and 20 power packs.
A research laboratory
A surgical bay, exactly like the one Bolo saw on the video, in which Talina attacked them.
The heroes were attacked by crazed Believers, which had been standing, seemingly in stasis until the heroes rounded the corner into their room.
The heroes passed an underground park.
They entered a bedroom, with “Help me!” scrawled in blood on the wall. Leaving that room, they crossed the hall to enter another, discovering the room was identical in every way, looking back to the doorway, it now joined onto the same room again. Realizing, eventually, that they were all trapped in a terrifying illusion or dream, they awoke, but not before they brought something back from that dream with them.
They were attacked by a massive K’kayah dreambeast and it’s terrifying spawn. Working together, they managed to kill the beasts, which disappeared promptly, but the ruin they left in the room and doorframe (the massive beast crushed right through the wall!) remained. That much was real.
The heroes followed a sound in the hall and were stalked and attacked by a Nighthunter, which guarded a room that was being used as a torture chamber. The door was open, with burn damage looking like it had been enlarged. A pulsating glow lit the dim room. Inside was a spherical energy cage, floating on repulsorlifts. The glow came from a force field that surrounded the portable prison, and behind the bars was a crumpled humanoid form. Viin Thorla.
The man meets your gaze with a look of utter despair. He looks away from you.h3. Leaving the Echoes Behind
Inquisitor Valin Draco drops from the bridge in the dim cavern, screaming, his long white hair trailing and Dark Force energy snapping around him as he plummets past a thousand feet of the scaly horror. The massive k’kayeh dragon arcs in the air over the bridge to go after him as you flee with the holocron, crashing down and crushing the bridge as you clear it. The thunderous feet crack and crush the foundational rock as it moves, a mountain of evil dripping sinew and energy. Each flex of its muscle causes rock splitting quakes.
You pass the bodies of Raik Muun, his dark apprentice, and the Shadow Guard, back into the crumbling temple.
As you run through the academy’s ground floor, the remaining walls of the foundant room and the statue-columns in the entry hall collapse around you, showering you with dust. As you leap for the exit out of the academy, huge cloudns of dust billow into the air, obscuring your view as the ground quakes and devours the ruins.
As the dust clears and you drag yourselve into the dark, deserted city, you could not have imagined how good Almas’ toxin filled air would feel in your lungs. It’s a good thing you rescued the holocron, because no one will be able to go back down there for a long, long time.
Looking away from the falling rubble, you see the familiar buildings of the deserted Forard City. You feel like resting a bit before walking back to your shope. You can’t wait to reuinte with your bunk beds.
You plot your escape vector through the complicated system, and exit your micro jump at the ancient Sith hyperspace beacon at the perimeter. Just as you prep the main leg of your next vector, your scanners light up as two massive ships appear out of lightspeed: It’s Draco’s Star Destroyer, Assiduous , which you encountered over Bespin. The other is a Lictor-clast dungeon ship named Revelator. Both are out of weapons range, and the Assiduous quickly launches a shuttle toward Almas. You quickly punch out of the system before they are within range.
The trip away from Cularin to the rendezvous coordinates takes a day, giving you time to rest, treat your wounds and study the holocron. Talina is able to conjure the holocron gatekeeper, Master Quornah. Master Viin Thorla is spent.
You find the Nebulon-B and the small, lonely fleet at the rendezvous coordinates. Captain Verana greets you as you dock underneath the large ship and walks you to your quarters. When you are ready, you go to meet Master Denia in the sterile briefing room.
Denia asks you for the holocron and activates it. She then listens as you recount your adventure. At the mention of Valin Draco’s name, she appears shaken and distracted. Gathering her composure, she states the following:
“You have experienced an incredible ordeal, and whether you follow Jedi ways or not, you have contributed greatly to the enlightenment of the Force. With this item, I will seek answers about the slaves that you rescued at Bespin, and hopefull some clues about the Empire’s Sarlaac Project. If you will excuse me, I must meditate.”
“One last thing, Talina. While at Almas, you faced the Trials of the Flesh, and the Spirit. Your final trials are complete.” She extends her hand and pulls Talina’s saber into it, igniting it and swiping deftly at Talina’s head. Talina’s hidden Padawan braid falls to the floor. She hands the saber back. “You are a Jedi now, Talina. You have arrived.”