“From the journals of Ekafti Acomar, 19 B.B.Y. (before the Battle of Yavin):” We seem to be more adept at getting into and out of trouble than agreeing on or getting to a destination. After encountering clones of me in the Grand Pelgar Hotel, we had gone to the Zanazi religious retreat on Cattamascar.
Two imperial cruisers that had been pursuing the clones floated in orbit, unresponsive. Adaha Tila made claims for the right to salvage, but the Zeltron woman got no response from the cruisers or Bakuran authorities, as far as we could tell.
At my recommendation, Garolos Banku Naruolos hailed Tila’s ship, which was docked with one of the disabled warships. Tark Agros piloted the Lucky Strike close enough to the Folly so that we could scan the sleek Hwk 290-class freighter for life signs.
Meanwhile, Oong Bak continued to make repairs on the Lucky Strike , and Thayne Highlander and MX-PR prepared to join Garos and me in going aboard the cruiser. Ari Sundar received a royal signal from her people, the reptilian Ssi-ruuk.
After some negotiation, Tila granted us permission to come aboard after an hour, during which she was apparently looking for something of value. I resisted recommendations that we shoot at the Folly before then, in the hope we could avoid a fight.
Garos contacted Jarik Tai, a recruiter for “The Brotherhood” he had met at the Terminus restaurant, to see if he knew anything about Tila. Unfortunately, he had little useful to say about the attractive Zeltron.
We detected small-arms fire at the Folly , so Thayne, Garos, and I donned vacc suits and jumped to the cruiser . Droid “Max” easily followed. Oong, Ari, and Tark stayed with the Lucky Strike.
We interrupted a three-way shootout, with Adaha Tila drawing her blaster pistol on two groups. One included four tentacle-faced Krevaaki, similar to sage Moross Sapan, whom we had met at the retreat. They yelled something about “heretics.”
The last party to the standoff was a yellow Ssi-ruu guarding several blue-scaled younglings. Ari later explained that her red hide denotes the warrior caste, with the yellow representing scientists and blue the aristocracy. I told Ari what we found via comlink, and she rushed to join us.
I asked Tila how she was doing, and onetime Jedi Garos asked everyone to hold their fire. Ari and I wanted to protect the innocent younglings, so Max fired a grenade at the Krevaaki. One of the zealots managed to catch the explosive and throw it back at us!
I narrowly escaped serious injury, and recent padawan Thayne ignited his light saber and attacked the Krevaaki. Garos and Max shot them, and Ssi-ruuk Ari and Idiian wanted to get the royal younglings to safety.
Meanwhile, Oong and Tark were amused by our attempts to figure out what to do. They were forced to make evasive maneuvers as another Krevaaki ship fired on the Lucky Strike .
Tila slipped away, and Thayne and I headed to the main bridge, passing numerous stormtrooper corpses on the way. This could have been the work of my clones.
We found Tila blocked by a hazy green force field that blocked only organic matter. Over the comlink, I called for Max to join us, even as we glimpsed a dim shape moving on the bridge.
Adaha admitted that she was looking for confirmation of the Sanctuary Route, a rumored hyperspace lane. Garos seemed to recognize it. As the Krevaaki riddled the Folly with holes, I called for Ari and the other Ssi-ruuk to join us, away from the docking bay.
Max entered the cruiser’s bridge and saw an anomalous life form that he described as a mass of muscle and sinew, similar to Durge, the Gen’Dai bounty hunter. It had ripped the command crew to bloody shreds, and we decided to leave the force field containing it alone. With Krevaaki still around, we decided to leave via Idiian’s ship.
The Ssi-ruu scientist said (although not in so many words) that his people had made a deal with the Galactic Empire for clones in exchange for technology that converted vitality into energy usable by starships.
As Ari translated, I discovered through Mind Read that Idiian planned to take us all back to his homeworld, where we would be strapped to gurneys and tortured for our life force. I used the Jedi Mind Trick to get him to drop out of hyperspace near Gymelo, and I granted Max permission to take him down.
The belligerent droid immediately resorted to lethal force, which I should have predicted. Garos and Ari were confused, and worse still, Max wasn’t able to immediately incapacitate the pilot. To add to our difficulties, the younglings reacted by trying to protect their fellow Ssi-ruu.
The small but vicious raptors scarred Ari, tore circuits from Max, and attacked Thayne and me as we tried to gain control of the ship. Adaha cowered in terror. Fortunately, Thayne was able to land the ship, and I depressurized the cabin on the way to knock out everyone not in space suits.
We sent a signal to the Lucky Strike, which soon joined us in Gymelo’s jungles. Oong attended to the injured, and Thayne tied up Idiian and helped me move the insensate younglings to a locked compartment.
Oong found that the Ssi-ruuk ship was powered by P’w’eck, a reptilian subject race, wired into its systems. We released the weak slaves, who staggered off into the forest. Garos was disappointed that we couldn’t obtain any data or useful salvage.
Tark, Garos, and Max wanted to kill the younglings, but I knew that unconscious Ari wouldn’t. Even though they were bred or cloned to be killing machines, I couldn’t take their lives in good conscience, even if they had tried to kill us.
After another heated debate, I told Idiian that we would leave him and the younglings on Gymelo and that they should remember our mercy. As we left, the Lucky Strike got a Clone Wars-era distress signal, CC-648.
We followed the signal to a small clearing, where clone Cmdr. “Thorn” and the remains of his platoon greeted us. Over Garos’ objections, I revealed my identity as a Jedi. He greeted us as officers, but I had to explain how the old Republic had fallen to Palpatine’s schemes.
Naturally, “Thorn” had difficulty understanding why the Republic would have fallen from within rather than as a result of Separatist or Ssi-ruuvi attacks. Somehow, his group hadn’t heard about Order 66, which outlawed all Jedi, so Thayne and I were safe for the moment.
We shared what supplies we could, and I promised the loyal troopers that I would try to return. Thayne and I viewed these men as potential assets and their base, far from imperial orders, as a rare safe landing site. Garos and Tark would have preferred to kill them in cold blood.
Tark detected the source of the signal jamming these clones’ transmissions, which we traced to a Separatist emplacement. We left the clone troopers behind, as well as recuperating Ari. She agreed to watch the Lucky Strike and reluctant passengers Adaha, Princess Tethys (one of my clones), and suspicious protocol droid B-1E4.
We found nine commando droids circling the clone trooper camp, plus lumbering Viper droids with transmitters. We decided to leave them alone and head back into space, since destroying them might expose the troopers to Order 66.
Since Cattamascar was on the Shirotoku Way between Gymelo and Bakura, where I still hoped to thwart the empire, we stopped back at that desert world. Tark and Garos wanted to examine the second disabled cruiser.
On the way, Thayne had another dream of a dark tower and a banner with a centipede symbol. He again saw Endolana, the young daughter of Ataru, a Jedi master who lived 25,000 years ago. This time, Endolana was joined by friends including mute Aliza, Dal-Vha, Khatyen, Tomi and the adolescent Miru.
From the holocron of Sai Agorn, I recognized these girls as the daughters of masters Djem So, Makashi, Shien, Shii-cho, and Soresu, respectively. All had light saber forms named after them, and the children’s kidnapping was a major cause of the Jedi vow of celibacy.
The girls sung a morbid nursery rhyme, according to Thayne’s later recollection. Endolana told Thayne that he was close to reaching them in “sanctuary,” possibly a reference to Adaha’s hyperspace route.
We arrived at Cattamascar to find more Krevaaki ships attached to the hull of the second imperial cruiser. As Tark flew us by the bridge, its window blew out, and the Krevaaki blasted another fleshy anomaly into space and restored power. An emergency force field replaced the window.
Oong found a way to get a landing bay to open, and we hurried to the bridge, stepping over yet more slain stormtroopers. Tark put on his jet pack and flew ahead, despite my warning. Garos ran after him. Both were shot and wounded by fanatical Krevaaki.
Thayne, Max, and I then rushed in, followed by Garos and Tark. Oong worked to regain attitude control, since the cruiser had been set on a collision course with the Zanazi retreat. This was the third time in as many days that I was on a falling vehicle — first the Grand Pelgar out of control through Cattamascar’s heart, then the Ssi-ruuk vessel, and now the cruiser.
At least we’ve been able to limp away from those events so far. Oong managed to get us back into orbit, but the Black Sun virus re-emerged, threatening to take us to Nar Shaddaa, the Hutt homeworld. We had to leave.
Thayne and I grabbed a few medkits, and Garos hoped to get more useful data. Max and the others grabbed more blasters — we’ll have to see if that protocol droid can be reprogrammed. The Lucky Strike again set forth for Bakura, which we still hoped to defend from imperial grasp….