Temple of Sand

From the Journal of Talus Fyurron
Out of the Hutt’s Palace and into the Sarlacc Pit

Master Rahm Kota said writing things down after they happened was important for the future of our little Rebellion against the Empire. He says that history is important so that the future people of the known Galaxy can learn from it once we succeed.

Maybe…or maybe not. The winners tend to write History from what I’ve learned, but we’ll see.
Basically, after getting the damaged Sundancer back to Mos Eisley (That Bantha ridin’ bastard threw a big Lizard at my ship!) from Anchorhead, we located our good old “friend” Greedo and he quickly gave us the info we needed next: Where Ventress was working from. It was then our little group put our various heads together to come up with something resembling a plan that would get us into Jabba’s Palace without getting us dead or frozen in carbonite. We actually ended up making our group decisions in record time.

Maybe our little group is starting to coalesce into something more…?

Yeah… ‘Bantha-Poodoo.’
That’s just too funny to think about right now.

Well, not only did we put together a plan everybody agreed to quickly, but it actually made sense: The sexy Sorliea would make a name for her-self as an exotic dancer in the local Cantinas, as dancing was something she already excelled at anyway, and then we would try to get the attention of Jabba’s people. Using her new identity to exploit Jabba’s well-known weakness for dancers; we then planned to enter the palace invited as guests.

It actually worked! Mitchell and I managed to pretend to be her bodyguards, and the Force-wielding Kushiban pretended to be her “pet.” Salamarr was in perfect form, not only negotiating for her contracts and pretending to be her manager, but helping to develop Sorliea’s reputation as “Infinity the Dancer” in all the right places. The Jawa-Mechanic, Skriz, was pretty much ignored as her “Stage Tech” and added such things as enhanced sounds and pyrotechnics to her show as needed.

We discovered much while inside the palace. Ventress was working her scheme from there, but by proxy. A Force Witch of some kind (probably Dathomiri) was at the Palace recruiting Mercenaries for furthering Ventresses’ scheme to kidnap some kid that Obi-Wan Kenobi, a Jedi Master that we met in Anchorhead, was supposedly guarding. We also discovered that Jabba held prisoner a Jedi friend of Kenobi we were looking for. We assumed he was probably handed over as a gift from Ventress in order to improve her relations with Jabba, and allow her people general access to the Palace and Jabba’s mercenary connections.

In the end, Sorliea’s dancing was the hit of the Hutt’s fortress, and we were ‘requested’ to stay at the Palace for a longer engagement. We were to be compensated of course…but the local pre-established act had a thing or two to say about it first. They strutted and stuttered, but backed-off eventually it seemed. I’m pretty sure if we had stayed any longer, they would have found a way for Sorilea to ‘Break a Leg.’

We settled in and got to know our surroundings quickly. I made friends with one of Palace’s personnel and paid him off to make sure we could have access to a Skiff as soon as we needed one to get away. The others explored the Palace easily enough and quickly discovered the Jedi prisoner in the lower dungeons. Salamar, easily disguised as just one more of the many Gamorrean Palace Guards, warned the Jedi we were friends and to be ready to leave when things started happening.

In the meantime, our group’s resident ex-pirate, Mitchell, in an attempt to find where Ventress was hiding out, sauntered up the resident Force Witch we had noticed and volunteered as a mercenary. He was given coordinates in the middle of the desert and vague instructions on the operation. He quickly disappeared into the desert after relaying the location to the rest of us carefully first.

The escape was actually quite uneventful, as far as escapes go. Salamarr, again disguised as a Gamorrean guard, was able to handle the jailers and even made them fight themselves as a distraction! In order to throw off pursuit and confuse issues even more, we let several prisoners go in addition to our missing Jedi. One turned out to be a human smuggler, who promised us repayment if we ever asked. We’ll see. You never know when you could use a good favor, or a decent smuggler. Of course, since Jabba had him locked up, he must not be that good!
We gave the smuggler a ride back to Mos Eisley with us, ditched the stolen Skiff, and quickly started mounting an expedition to take down Ventress.

Before we even left the Palace, Mitchell had quickly met up with Ventress at the designated location. It was covered in scattered but mostly deserted ruins, and he introduced himself as soon as he could. Ventress easily dismissed him however, so Mitchell decided to stay out of general sight and quickly found a tent with a card game he could win a few hands at.
Using our stolen Air-Speeder from Coruscant and a couple of rented Swoop Bikes, we headed back into the desert, armed for taking down a powerful Sith, and her newest recruits. We first headed to the formerly captured Jawa Sand-Crawler, re-enabled it, and set it in motion towards the correct coordinates.

Scriz set up R5 with piloting the Sand-Crawler and slave-linked the assassin Droid to him while it manned the E-Web blaster on the Crawler’s roof. This was to be our distraction, and it worked almost perfectly! As soon as Ventress’s people noticed the moving vehicle they reacted by send out over half of the Mercs to intercept it. Coming in at a wide oblique with the speeders we avoided the enemies’ attention until the last possible moment and struck from the flank.
As we approached an ancient arena in the ruins, Salamarr and Scriz used their Swoops to optimum effect, and dived into the middle of the area blasting blasters and slicing with lightsabers… starting the chaos with a bang. The Kushiban Jedi was the first to set foot into the arena by leaping down gracefully, having ridden tandem on one of the swoops. He immediately lit up his saber and moved to an attack posture as one of Ventress’ apprentices lit up her own red-tinted saber in response.

The remaining mercs were slow to react at first, as most generally are, but they quickly jumped in as soon as they realized what was going on. Mitchell, eager to finish the fight early, took this chance to try and blow Ventress away with a full-burst from his blaster rifle. Her agility and speed saved her from a messy death, although it was obvious she didn’t enjoy the idea of one of her supposed “minions” turning on her. Ventress immediately went on the offensive, lighting up both her elegantly-designed Lightsabers and charged Mitchell.
It was from here things get a little complicated…

I quickly settled the Air-Speeder outside the arena, and the rest of us tumbled out and headed into the arena battle as fast as our various modes of personal transportation would allow. Digging into the Force, I easily used it to speed my steps and quickly overtook the others and sprinted into the Arena…right into the hail of blaster-fire. Sorilea and Kenobi were right behind me. The Twi’lek charged the nearest merc with her new Electro-Staff crackling and buzzing, and with a scream on her lips, took him out with a quick hit. Kenobi , his advanced age showing, started moving to intercept Ventress before she made mince-meat out of Mitchell. Using both of my new Heavy-Blaster pistols, I started taking careful shots at the closest mercs who were trying to lay down suppressing fire.

After taking out Mitchell’s blaster by slicing it in two pieces, Ventress tried to do the same to Mitchell, but he backed away as fast as he could taking some minor hits without any way to parry her flashing red blades. Scriz and Salamarr took out a few mercs, and managed to complete a few attack passes on their Swoops, before they were both knocked out of the sky. Salamar tried to aim her crashing Swoop into Ventress, but the witch was too fast and leaped back from the crashing wreck.

Seeing Ventress in the open for a moment, I took a shot with my most powerful telekinetic attack. I hoped to have at least clipped her, but only ended up cursing and sweating from the effort as I hit sand and stone, and strained my connection to the Force with only a wasted effort to show for it.

Salamar quickly lit and locked his lightsaber in combat with Ventress, and both were absorbed into the fight. Kenobi’s lightsaber made a snap-hiss too as he joined the melee with a new swiftness that belied his age.

The Kushiban Jedi, bloodied but undeterred, was about to finish off the dark apprentice when Scriz landed his Swoop’s smoking remains on her head. The impact buried her in the arena’s sandy floor completely, with the agile Jawa rolling to a safe landing carefully nearby. Seeing the apprentice buried by the Jawa’s impressive skill and luck, I and the Kushiban both turned our attention toward Ventress and the fight surrounding her. I was almost stunned to see the incredible speed of her parries; all while maintaining her heavy sneer and attitude of superiority.

Taking a chance, and using up the remaining Force strength I had left, I tried using Force Lightning in order to slow her and possibly give one of the many enemies around her a chance to stop her. I hit, but only managed a basic attack! Her defense faltered for a moment from the pain, but she quickly recovered. Surrounded and wounded however, she began to slowly falter. We were throwing whatever we could at her; I could even tell Salamarr was attacking her mind as well as her physically, and it showed in her defense.

It was about this time when Ventress knew she had lost, but continued to fight. Using a combination of attacks, she was disarmed by our party eventually. Salamarr quickly scooped up her sabers to add to his growing collection, and someone insisted she give up.

Right then, out of nowhere a mercenary controlled Sand-Skiff appeared overhead and let loose a flurry of blasts over the general area. We were a little surprised, but Sorilea acted first before Ventress could, pulling out one of her many grenades (Where in the Galaxy is she getting those from?) and planting it almost perfectly on the skiff’s main deck. Mercenaries went flying and the shooting instantly stopped.

Smirking, Ventress still managed an amazing Force-leap and easily cleared the skiff’s edge to land safely on its deck in order to escape. Obi-Wan follow her easily enough, although less gracefully.

Again, seemingly out of nowhere, another of Ventress’s young Witches appeared on a distant pyramid overlooking the arena and she screamed out a request to her “pet” not only out loud, but through the Force. The arena’s sandy floor quickly collapsed inward toward the center as a hidden Sarlacc revealed itself under our feet!
Sorilea and I rushed up the nearby stairs to avoid the sinking pit, as another Sand-Skiff approached covered in mercenaries. The rest of our intrepid band attempted to move out of the pit in different directions to avoid the Sarlacc too. I tried taking a couple of pot-shots at the distant Beast-Witch, but the distance was too great to get a decent shot. As part of his escape, Salamarr drew on the Force and nearly flew in the direction of the Witch who summoned the Sarlacc.

About the same time the second Sand-Skiff covered in mercs moved up next to Ventress’s current position and prepared to open fire and give her a lift. Sorilea was again quick with her hand-grenades and that Skiff was quickly cleaned of its Mercenary filth too. Both Mitchell and Skriz had been caught by the Sarlacc’s tentacles, but they managed to free themselves somehow and Skriz jumped up to the newly cleared skiff. It skittered close to our position at that time, and was easily reached with a simple jump by both Sorilea and myself. I had lost track of the Kushiban Jedi in all of this melee and ruckus.

Ventress, steaming with rage at her losses, grabbed the controls of her skiff and tried to crash it straight into the depths of the Pit, trying to take Kenobi with her. It crashed into the edge of the bottom with Ventress and Kenobi hanging on for their lives over the Sarlacc’s main orifice. Skriz steered our skiff to rescue them, but Ventress refused to be helped so Kenobi refused too.

We gave her the chance to give up and let us rescue her, but she refused again, preferring death to failure. She let go and quickly fell towards the patiently-waiting Sarlacc.
At that moment we saw our Droid-controlled Sand-Crawler, still smoking from the Mercenaries’ various blaster-fire, blow through one of the main walls of the Arena and began a slow tumble into the Sarlacc’s pit…and barreling toward us.

Pulling his handy grapple gun, that crazy Jawa leaped over our skiff’s hand-rail, shot the falling Ventress with his grapple, and hurtled over to Kenobi at the same time. Amazingly the Force was with him as the Jawa managed, if barely, to capture the former Sith and keep her from falling in. Kenobi dashed back to the Skiff, dragging the dangling woman with them. I grabbed the controls quickly and maneuvered the skiff out of the way of the Sand-Crawler coming our way.

I was…am amazed at the risks that Jawa was willing to take. I almost…ALMOST admired him for a moment. Then I realized the runt just nearly head-dived into a Sarlacc!…

Jawas! Can’t live with them!…Can’t kill them without stinking up the place or messing up your boots!

Using our newly acquired Sand-Skiff and our original Air-Speeder, we quickly collected all of our allies, including our Sand-Crawler crazy-droids, and headed back to the Sundancer, still calmly at dock in Mos Eisley. Strangely, for once, I found the planet’s sun-set to be most comforting that day…

After saying our goodbyes to Kenobi and throwing Ventress into our resident prisoner hold aboard the Sundancer, which still smelled of Greedo, we left the Bantha infested sand-waste that was Tatooine behind us for the clean-filtered and stale air of a ship in space, I hoped, for a good long time.

Of course, once we were into the shipping lanes we received an urgent message from Master Kota, ordering us to meet him near the Cloner world of Kamino. Expecting trouble, I adjusted course and then started getting the ship as ready for battle as I could.

Addendum: Trying a new Encryption-Program to keep that crazy-cracker of a mechanic from slicing into these logs too…

Temple of Sand

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