1.05: The NobleStar – Death is Remotely Possible
DS Day 30-37
Where: Gandle Ott
The Farstar received an Intel Report from Kal’Shebbol :
Report 10007:A: Alpha – Date: DS 031
A message was received by the sector newsnet service that reads as follows:
Moff Sarne Preparing for Pirate Purge
Montrol City, Gandle Ott
Citizens looked up last night to see the sky suddenly filled with dozens of new stars, as Moff Sarne’s huge expeditionary fleet arrived to orbit around Gandle Ott. Sarne has massed the giant fleet to exterminate once and for all the many pirate and Rebel terrorists organizations operating in the sector’s Rim worlds and the wilds, said one of the Moff’s spokesmen this morning in a meeting with government leaders. “The Moff believes that only a unified and strong force can sweep the many illegal bandit fleets before it,” the representative said. “He has formed such a force in a record five days, so that the pirates will have little warning and no time to prepare for the carnage to come. We are going in after them, into every little system and dust cloud, and we won’t be back until we have rid our sector of such filth.”
Sarne began to coordinate resupply efforts with his Imperial counterparts at Crimler Naval Base here in Montrol City immediately after arriving last night. The fleet spent the night uploading supplies from the base and adjacent depots, and recalled the reserve military personnel living on Gandle Ott to active duty. All the major Houses gladly presented their best knights to imperial service. The fleet is expected to remain in orbit for another 2 or 3 days, though sources in the fleet say that Sarne is anxious to be off.
As for the local defenses, House lords and ladies are recruiting from the Trade guilds more loyal guard recruits, and Sarne’s spokesman has said that the NobleStar will be staying in orbit for defense.
This reports is only two day old. the Farstar should dispatch immediately to Gandle Ott.
The Farstar immediately set coarse to Gandle Ott. There was little hope in catching Sarne, but they did want to investigate his intentions.
Gandle Ott was historically the center of the Noble house aristocracy in the Kathol sector. It was the unofficial capitol before the Empire arrived. The Noble Houses, the Trade Guilds and the Church of the Kathol Prophets were a strong influence through out the sector,as the Farstar was learning, but it was the strongest here. Dealing with them would be a delicate matter.
A scout team was first sent out to after the Farstar dropped a few light-minutes outside the system.The Captain had received information from Dajus that the NobleStar was a Torpedo Sphere that Sarne was building to keep the Noble Houses under control. The single Defender-scout ship dropped out of hyperspace and got their first look at the NobleStar. It was an awesome sight.
The NobleStar appeared incomplete, and was enveloped in an intense planetary shield that originated from the planet’s surface. A quick sweep of the planet revealed that is was an advanced planet with many vast cities. The planetary shield emitter was on an island inside a volcanic caldera, in a remote area of the planet. The scout ship returned to the Farstar with it’s report and scanner data.
The data indicated that the shield around the NobleStar was intense; too intense for an attack from the Farstar, but also too intense for firing it’s own weaponry. This and the fact that the island with the emitter seemed to be run by automation, created a strange scenarios for the Farstar. Was the Torpedo Sphere operational? Did the Noble Houses know whether it was or not? Why did Sarne just leave it here or was there a method to his madness? These and many other questions needed answering. The only way was to send a group or two down and get some intelligence from each Noble House.
The Captain assigned two groups to go down. A “diplomatic” team and a “underground” team. The diplomatic team was traveling as a covert, but official New Republic contact team, and consisted of Loh’Khar the Finder, Thane B’Dorbeck the New Republic Diplomat, Slave the Ex-Law Enforcement Droid, and the Dr. Raso Lao Hasslock the Field Scientist. Their mission was to use the upper-crust contacts of Loh’Khar’s and contact as many houses as they could, to get support for the New Republic and information about the Torpedo Sphere. The “underground” team was going to go through the underground of Gandle Ott, and consisted of Analia the Rodian Arms Dealer, Somarian the Kalvessan-Starwolf Scout, Dervious the Mandalorian Bounty Hunter, and Qesya Vth’Naar the Sludir Gladiator. This rather intimidating team was to enter the Gandle Ott aristocracy through the more “unconventional” contacts that Analia had.
Taking the inconspicuous Muvon, the teams infiltrated Gandle Ott under the guise of free traders. They split up agreeing to not contact each other unless absolutely necessary. The two groups had to look completely unrelated in order to shake suspicions. As they found out, there were already rumors of a “Rebel” presence. They were shocked to find out that Gandle Ott had been so sheltered. The majority of the population were unaware of the Emperor’s death, even four years after it had happened. Some were aware but thought it was a lie. Others figured someone else took the Emperor’s throne.
The two teams approached each House carefully. Some houses weren’t approachable because of their relationship with the Empire. There were apparently five major houses on Gandle Ott, and in the Kathol Sector in general. House Karadol was the parasitic collaborationist house, and was in power. The Imperial Vice-Governor of Gandle Ott was also a member of House Karadol, and the highest ranking official on Gandle Ott. Sarne apparently took the Governor with him when he left. House Ik’Tal was a old, traditionalist House, and was looking to regain power it had lost when House Karadol took it from them. They seemed to be close to the more benevolent factions of the Church of Kathol Prophets. The Church apparently had a lot of power with in the Noble aristocracy, and was controlled by a more malevolent majority. House Shador was a mysterious house, one that was singled out by the Imperials, and persecuted harshly. Due to contacts made on Torize with some missing factions of Shador, Thane B’Dorbeck was able to solidify a strong alliance with House Shador. Other houses proved to have their own agendas as well; House Brakia was in turmoil from within, caught in indecision; House Kathor was making deals to get control of the world-wide computer AI, called Cuthbert.
Cuthbert was unexpected aspect of Gandle Ott. This planetary AI system controlled the basic planetary functions, like air traffic control, some basic manufacturing, street cleaning and city maintenance, and the majority of the droid activity on planet. It also contained many city archives, and what interested the Farstar crew the most was, perhaps contained Star Maps. It had it’s own enforcement droids that were of the same design as Slave.
While travelling with the diplomatic team, Slave, the ex-Law Enforcement droid, was receiving messages from Cuthbert. Cuthbert was calling him, asking to be saved “from my enemies…” Cuthbert claimed to have created Slave, calling him “the wayward son”. He and many droids like him were created by Cuthbert for a very special purpose. At first, all Slave received was Cuthbert rantings, but when Cuthbert attempted to download a copy Slave’s memory core, Slave removed the data-port of his comlink. However, Cuthbert did get a lot of his data on the Farstar. This disturbed Slave, and he had to find out why and what Cuthbert was all about.
Upon accessing Cuthbert, some of Slave’s older, and forgotten memory storage modules awakened and released some of Cuthbert’s security codes. This allowed him high level access to some of Cuthbert’s files. He found out some of his origin, including information about his former master; a House Ik’Tal-member, a man named B’Dorbeck. Some of the files were protected by newer, and more resilient Imperial security programs. He couldn’t access everything, although he was able to at least get an idea of what Cuthbert had.
Cuthbert began to show some aggression to the scouts teams after his download from Slave. Samarion, Dervious, Qesya, and Analia had a rough time dealing with some of Cuthbert’s renegade droids but escaped the trap.
Loh’Khar contacted an underground noble house of Twi’leks; House Twa’Legra. Master Heed Kerabus was his mysterious contact there, and was currently being protected by Chuborro the Hutt, the local Hutt boss. Deep under the Hutt’s Dungeons was Kerabus’s hiding place; dark and brooding. There, he got warnings of the Cuthbert. Cuthbert was only one thing now; insanity.
From the House contacts each team talked with, they were able to get a feel for the political atmosphere on Gandle Ott. The political situation revolved around two things; the control of Cuthbert and the control of the Torpedo Sphere. Many within the houses suspected that the Torpedo Sphere was non-functional, and some claimed it as fact. The Vice-Governor, in an attempt to bolster more power for her own house and their allies, was going to organize a formal Declaration of Independence from the Empire. Meanwhile, behind most everyone’s back, the malevolent factions of the Church were going to make a move to take control of the island which controlled the Torpedo Sphere. Apparently, the Church made a deal with Sarne to get control of the Sphere. From the information the two teams were able to gather, several houses where hatching plans to take control of the sphere. They were all certain that the Sphere was not as much a threat as originally thought.
When the reports returned to the Farstar, the Captain knew that the New Republic needed to be represented in the Declaration proceedings. On top of that, Loffryyn was crying for a dry-dock for a few days to take care of a majority of the ships problems. The captain hatched a plan to undermine House Karadol’s move to power, stop the Church from taking the island, and also attempt to fix Cuthbert as well. The X-wings and the New Republic soldiers were dispatched to take the island, and Bifzik would later be sent to crack Cuthbert, and determine the Global-AI’s system problems. The Farstar would make a grand entrance, broadcasting the fall of the second Death Star at Endor, and the New Republic theme. They would request audience with the political seats of power, and ask to negotiate an alliance between the New Republic and Gandle Ott.
The Farstar landed, and was greeted with great fanfare, despite some houses misgivings about this so-called New Republic delegation. The Vice-Governor begrudgedly recognized the New Republic as an entity to negotiate with, and planned to allow the New Republic in on the Declaration proceedings (realizing public opinion would override her desire for power). The Declaration ceremony was set for the next day, and was to be followed by several days of political parties, and meetings with the House officials to iron out the details.
Bifzik made his way to Cuthbert’s central control in the capitol city. There, he was able to hack in and find when Sarne left, he injected an AI virus into Cuthbert, which redirected Cuthbert’s directives, and driven Cuthbert into a kind of robotic-psychosis. Cuthbert was to stop the Farstar at all costs. This AI virus had taken on a life of it’s own, and now his directives have brought him to the conclusion that the only way to stop the Farstar is to break free of it’s planetary constraints. It wanted a way off. Bifzik was no psychologist, but from what he could tell, the AI-virus had a human model, and from what he knew of Sarne, it seemed like the Grand Moff based it on his own personality, and in turn, his own psychosis.
Bifzik then noticed that Cuthbert already had a plan to get off planet, and was working towards it. He was building up a forces of droids to attack the planetary shield island. What was he planning…?
Meanwhile, the X-Wings engaged the repulsor-lift armed transports of the Church which were moving towards the island. The battle was intense but short. For a few moments, the Church showed some tenacity, but when they saw the broadcast of the Farstar, and the arrival of the New Republic, they surrendered. The Church relinquished the island to the New Republic, after Gorjaye persuaded them with a few proton torpedoes. The New Republic fought the meager automated defenses of the fortification on the island, and soon the Torpedo was under New Republic control… for the time being.
For the next few days, the command crew were busy with the Declaration and alliance proceedings. The Declaration ceremony took place without any major incident, centered around the tradition of the Mushroom Cutting. Afterwards, they were shuttled around the capitol city, going from one meeting to another. During all this, odd accidents seemed to occur, including a near deadly accident with a rogue droid-controlled repulsor-lift bus. The Vice-governor had to explanation, but put her best troubleshooter on the job to see who sabotaged Cuthbert’s programming.
Meanwhile, Bifzik was busy trying to break into Cuthbert’s protected memory to crack the AI’s misdirected directives. That’s when he saw all resources suddenly disappear; all Cuthbert’s access points suddenly shut down, all his functions suddenly ceased. Cuthbert was on the move.
At the island, another intense battle had started. The New Republic was locked in combat with thousands of rogue droids, who were trying to take the island. Cuthbert had plans for the Torpedo Sphere. The battle raged for hours, with wave after wave of droids attacking the shores of the island. Through the cover of darkness, during a break in the battle, Bifzik was smuggled in to the island complex so he could access the Imperial terminal and gain access into Cuthbert’s system. This was his only chance to stop Cuthbert before he moved to the Torpedo Sphere. Accessing the terminal, he set up firewall programs, and bulk head algorithms to stop Cuthbert’s access to the NobleStar’s systems.
The battle intensified once again, the droids showing more determination than ever to take the island. Casualties were beginning to mount on the Farstar side. Bifzik worked frantically to counter the actions of Cuthbert. It was like a chess game between two very like minds. Slave, remembering that he still had some of Cuthbert’s codes still stored away in some forgotten memory, attempted to help Bifzik in his efforts. Both battles, one in real life, and another in cyber-space, raged on.
The only signs of the battle the delegation were getting were the strange actions of the local droids. News reports of other droids going rogue were heard, but not connected immediately. Cuthbert was suppressing as much as he could on the Newsnet about the battle at the island.
The New Republic Delegation was still going through a relatively peaceful itinerary, but they were wary of any droids they came across, that they didn’t recognize. The Noble House Grand Council seemed respective to the New Republic, despite the protests of House Karadol and their allies. The Church seemed oddly quiet about the matter. The captain and the others were sure that this world would be a valuable ally.
The final formality that evening before the negotiations and delegation were officially considered finished, was a play held in the large amphitheater, Theater Danske, in the capitol city. The play was classic story of a droid uprising on a colonial world, called Madra Teene. During that play, an assassination droid on stage turned out to be more than a prop. It attacked the Farstar command crew while they were in the audience. Other droids followed suit, producing weapons out of secret compartments. The New Republic crew, desperate to keep any civilian casualties to a minimum, battled with the droids on the stage. This was a short and swift battle, with few hurt.
The Battle for the Island was not going well. Bifzik had one last chance to stop Cuthbert. The Droids were now battling within the last perimeter of the fortress. Dervious, Samarion, and the others were battling from the wells of the Imperial Garrison. Bifzik executed a risky system crash program that he learned while working as a slave on board the Arch Hammer. The world wide computer system went to severe shutdown recovery mode. Lights went out. Droids shut down. The Battle outside fell quiet. When the Imperial fortress systems returned, Bifzik checked Cuthbert’s system status. For the most part, Bifzik succeeded. The shutdown occurred while Cuthbert was in mid-transmission of his primary functions to the Sphere. The basic Cuthbert intelligence apparently made it to the Sphere, but the Virus didn’t and most of Cuthbert’s city-system functions, customized programming, and directives didn’t make it. Cuthbert had enough of himself on-board to reprogram the necessary functions to interface with the Sphere, and “heal” back a personality. The question remained would the psychosis return or not. Bifzik made an attempt to access the Sphere, but before he could, it disappeared. Vanished from cyber and from reality.
From what the Verpine tech was able to access from the Imperial records, Sarne had set of the Sphere as a trap for the Farstar. If the crew were to attempt to board it, they would have encountered numerous booby traps designed to delay more than kill. The final booby trap might have destroyed the Farstar and everything else in orbit. He somehow integrated Darkstryder technology with the hyperdrive system, which the end result Bifzik witnessed when Cuthbert engaged the hyperdrive. It vanished within some kind of hyperspace wormhole, and it would have taken the Farstar with it if it was still in orbit. Now a partial Cuthbert was in control of a Torpedo Sphere, and who knew where he was.
The droids had ceased their attack when they lost their connection to Cuthbert. Gandle Ott was caught in a whirlwind of Chaos, so dependant on droid and Cuthbert, they knew not what to do. Bifzik, with the help of some local techs started a project to rebuild a new Cuthbert, void of the AI virus (which he kept for himself for further analysis).
The New Republic stayed on Gandle Ott to observe and resupply the Farstar a few days more. The power structure to Gandle Ott was not taking hold very strong. New noble wars were threatening the New Republic-Gandle Ott-Noble accords. Something had to accentuate the New Republic presents on Gandle Ott further, and perhaps bring peace to the world. The Noble High Council requested the Farstar to assign a crew member as New Republic representative. With an already apparent history here on Gandle Ott and already a certified New Republic diplomat, Thane B’Dorbeck was chosen as the new representative. A grand coronation was planned to take place at the High Cathedral of Gandle Ott. Along with the new job, B’dorbeck was also accepted into the House Ik’Tal, as his family name seems to have a history with that house. Other crew members also received titles and promotions. Private Samarion, Private Bifzik, and Private Dervious were all promoted to Sergeant and given a title of Knight of the Noble High Council.
Before departure, Loh’khar received a message from House Twa’Legra. Master Kerabus was at his death bed and requested his audience. The Master warned Loh’Khar two things… “The Storms are coming and beware of the Prophet…”.
The Nobles decided to put on a grand parade to send off the Farstar, in the middle of the parade a sudden explosion silenced the celebration. An airspeeder went swooping over head, being chased by two others, none of them marked in anyway to identify them. Dervious was the first react, firing his grappling gun at the first speeder. He was pulled like a fish on a line, flying in the air, near the pursuing aircars. Inside those cars were black-armor-clad stormtroopers; not unlike those that followed an old enemy of his, High Inquisitor Tremayne. Looking in the air car in front, Dervious saw an old friend, Clarke the Bounty Hunter. He had to help his friend out. He was able to take out one stormtrooper airspeeders, and with incredible driving (that nearly seriously injured Dervious), Clarke was able to shake off the other Air speeder.
A quick conversation with Clarke produced information that Dervious did not want to hear. He thought he had left Tremayne behind, but Clarke’s information was to the contrary. Clarke claimed to have killed Tremayne, but apparently now he is back. There were many rumors that many of the top Imperials had clones, so Dervious guessed either Clarke had killed a clone or this new Tremayne was a clone. Either way, that was not good news for the Farstar.
The parade went on after the crowd re-gathered. The people Gandle Ott had grown accustomed to the occasional flare of violence, due to the recent Noble House violence. The Farstar was given a grand send off.
Data left over from some of Cuthbert’s memory had some very interesting facts that Bifzik was able to extract before departure. Of course, the little Verpine had no taste for parades and celebrations. He was happy with his data, and recovery programs. He was able to extract Sarne’s next destination, Shintel. He was also able find evidence that Sarne still has active projects that might play into his attempt to take back the Kathol Sector. One project was called Storm Giant. The other project was unnamed, but the data indicated that House Karadol was involved.
Loffryyn was at the landing pad to meet the Captain, reporting the results of the dry-dock repairs. He reasured her that 75% to 80% of the Farstar’s problems have ben fixed. It was that 20% to 25% that worried the Captain. Regardless of that, she ordered the astrogation data in their nav-comps, and the Farstar underway..
See Report Communication Log 4 (Day 31-33)
See Report Communication Log 5 (Day 34-38)