Star Wars, Tales of the Ruby Queen

The Jawa Job - Part I

Here a Chuk...There a Chuk...Everywhere a Chuk-Chuk...

The Jawa Job – Part I

The first game session begins with the Team traveling on the Ruby Queen to a little backwater planet known as Tatooine. While the Team’s leader, Keffan Mairro gives them a briefing on their next artifact acquisition, the narrative also cuts back and forth to a brisk account of the partial circumstances of each Team member’s first meeting with Mairro.

During the briefing itself the Team is told that they are seeking an artifact known as the Chuk-Chuk, a statuette approximately the size of a fattened hen and shaped aptly enough like an egg. The Chuk-Chuk appears to be made of a single piece of carved non-precious stone, though it’s difficult to determine precisely what kind of stone. The overall appearance of the Chuk-Chuk is as a diminuitive Jawa – complete with bandanas and unknowable stare.

The Team is told that for reasons not precisely understood, the Chuk-Chuk is extremely important to the Jawas as a people. So much so that anyone who physically holds and displays the artifact may all but issue direct commands to Jawas. Unfortunately, this important, this very reverence to the item also causes it to be highly sought after by various factions and Clans of Jawas, to the point where no collector on Tatooine itself wants possession of the thing because they know it brings nothing but repeated burglary and robbery attempts by the enigmatic little people of the wastes.

But apparently the Empire couldn’t care less for Jawas. I suppose one has to be a certain height before the Empire takes you seriously…too bad.

Mairro knows the Chuk-Chuk is on Tatooine, but he doesn’t know where, and thus before he and the remainder of the team makes planetfall he asks the Team’s Gand Findsman (a fellow of few words, to be sure) to take the Ruby Queen’s one person exploration craft, descend to the planet and suss out the item’s precise co-ordinates. It doesn’t take Gand (he only calls himself Gand. Again, he’s a fellow of few words – sure loves to eat though) long to figure out which Clan holds the Chuk-Chuk and which Sandcrawler that Clan makes its home in. While a number of Jawa Clans have carefully hidden strongholds in the rocky wastes, more still prefer to remain nomadic, using one of the numerous mining crawlers abandoned by a failed business interest centuries earlier. In those crawlers, the Jawas roam the dunes looking for shiny stuff they can either keep themselves or fix up and sell to larger people for better shiny stuff!

Gand spots the crawler easily, but he also notices directly in its path is an R5 series droid that seems to have been allowed to wander out in the wilds all by itself. The droid is clearly lost and quite upset about it if one takes its circular wandering pattern and mournful, interrogative tones into account.

Of course, being keen of eye the Jawas notice the R5 droid right away and stop their sandcrawler nearby to pick it up. Being bored and having little to do anyway, most of the Jawas in the crawler debark and wander over to scoop up their shiny prize – which surprises them by popping open a hatch on the top of its flattened head and pumping several liters of a strange, dark green gaseous substance into the air. If Gand has any doubts about what that substance is as he watches from behind a low rock wall, they are immediately dispelled when the gas chokes the life out of all the Jawas who came to investigate. Because Gand belongs to the variant of the Gand species born without air breathing lungs he must provide his own ammonia to breathe, but he is also completely immune to whatever the little red robot just blew into the air. Still, he gets the sense that waiting while remaining under cover to see what would happen next is a smart idea, and it turns out he is correct since not long after the gas has done its work and been rendered inert, a small fleet of speeder bikes, “up-gunned” passenger landspeeders and cargo landspeeders come screaming in from all directions. They converge on the sandcrawler (which no longer has sufficient surviving crew to make a getaway) and disgorge scores of Bounty Hunters and Hired Guns while using their crew served weapons to blow the treads off the crawlers and insure nobody was going anyplace. The disgorged marauders enters the crippled Jawa vehicle and finishes the work the gas started and as Gand watches, they take the Chuk-Chuk, jump in their speeders and mush away as fast as they can to the nearest settlement – which happens to be Mos Eisley.

Meanwhile, since Gand wasn’t able to communicate with the Ruby Queen during the slaughter he had no way to warn the Team that by the time they arrived at his position the artifact was already gone. The Team looks around, noting with sadness the savagery of the attack while Dewbacca shows touching empathy for the Team’s Jawa mechanic, sparing him the sight of all the dead Jawas by locking him in his quarters. Salem Balthazar, a veteran of countless wetwork operations for the Old Republic recognizes the gas from its effects and its residue, though he cannot quite remember what the stuff is called, and before he can think too hard about it, the Team’s Chiss resident survival expert and big game hunter Talon advises his companions that the substances’ lingering smell is highly reminiscent of the urine and pheromone mixture female Krayt Dragons mark their nests with to signal to mates that they’re ready to do the deed. Since nobody wants to tangle with a Krayt Dragon (well Talon does, but only at a safe distance and only when he’s hungry for barbecue – mmm-mmm! Krayt babyback ribs! Fingalickengood!) and Gand has indicated the dirty thieves (well, the other dirty thieves) have gone to Mos Eisley, the Team decides to follow.

Because docking at an officially sanctioned port might cause complications and/or at the very least slow down what might need to be a really fast getaway Mairro decides to have the Ruby Queen put down just outside of town, but advises their pilot Vani Kyros (of the wandering, spacefaring Kyros peoples) to keep the engines running because they may need a hot pick-up. Turns out Mr. Mairro doesn’t know the half of it. He leaves the pilot and the ship’s chief engineer (the helpful, skilled and downright skinny Hutt cyborg Sassoon) on board (along with Do’Kee, still locked in his quarters). Everyone else goes into town to see what they can see.

Gand indicates that the marauders have – en masse – entered a large recreational establishment known as “Shipley’s Rest”, a roughly bean-shaped place with an expansive ground floor and two very large upper levels set beside each other and accessible by a split staircase. Mairro has most of his people wait outside while he sends Gand and Salem in to do a little recon. Whilst they do that, Mairro asks the Team’s indefatigable (and always slightly pickled) Mandalorian master slicer Tobbi Beviin to see if he can fake the existence of an account stuffed fat with credits that might be needed later in a bluff. After accomplishing that task while leaving only light traces of having been there, Beviin amuses himself by sabotaging as many of the marauders’ vehicles (which are parked outside in the open with only a single bored Weequay looking in the other direction to guard them) as he can.

While this is going on outside, Gand and Salem are having a look around the inside. They notice that one of the raised platform floors has a velvet rope across the entrance to it from the staircase and a sign reading “Private Engagement”. Gand takes a seat at a booth on the opposite platform so he can see what’s going on. At first Salem remains with Gand, but when he sees that the private engagement seems to be a lone fellow sitting with his feet up on a table, surrounded by dozens of armed muscle and with no-one on the other side of the table, he comes to the conclusion that some sort of hand-off is going to happen here in Shipley’s Rest. Being a curious fellow, he decides to take matters into his own hands (much to Gand’s chagrin) and approach the fellow sitting at the table. At first the Weequay guard at the top of the stairs tries to stop him (hey, Weequay are abundant on Tatooine and they love to scrap so why not use-em?) but the fellow at the table waves him in out of curiosity.

When Salem and the fellow at the table (who introduces himself as Nilon Agon) become acquainted, discussion turns to the use of the gas (which is identified by Agon as Lozath, an agent which Salem knows is highly potent and extremely restricted) and where one might obtain it. Whereas Mr. Agon is amenable to negotiation for the sale of Lozath at a later point, he asks Salem to leave right now since he’s expecting other business.

No sooner does Salem comply than Mairro decides that they will now all go back into Shipley’s Rest, armed with Beviin’s falsified credit account and a mind to make a counter-offer. Mairro is in the middle of making said counter-offer when the ILC Exploit, the base ship of the Imperial Archaeological Corps shows up…right overtop of the club…and very close to its roof. Soon afterward, the roar of TiE fighters can be heard blasting past the Rest as they establish an air patrol pattern around the ship and several landing shuttles can be heard setting down in the streets.

Shortly thereafter, the Imperials enter the place. A woman who later identifies herself as Major Sansa Tikkanen arrives in a white Imperial Navy uniform. She is flanked not only by two senior officers in black but by an assortment of grey uniformed regular Imperial Army troopers, Scouts and Naval Commandos all in their distinctive white armor sets. The only people who don’t make an appearance are the Dig Troopers (Which makes a lot of sense when you consider the only thing for them to dig here now is the cool music).

Major Tikkanen isn’t pleased to find the Team interfering with the transaction between herself and Nilon Agon. She’s even less pleased when he informs her that the Team has put forth a credible counter-offer to her own (using Beviin’s very real looking fake account). After an ill-considered remark about how she could simply have the Team taken out and shot causes Dewbacca to object very loudly to the idea, everyone’s hand suddenly finds itself filled with a blaster, Talon pulls his blaster rifle and sets up a shot from the back of the opposite platform where he has been sitting quietly since the rest of the Team first showed up to make their counter-offer…and everyone gets awfully nervous. Major Tikkanen (with the help of one of her older senior officers) suddenly reactivates her brain and offers to simply double the Team’s offer. Agon is spared having to make any decisions because at that moment, a group of hard core hired guns working for Jabba (who has a bounty on Agon’s head for a number of reasons best left to another story) attempt to storm the platform with blasters blazing and solve Jabba’s headache for him the old fashioned way. And the band strikes up a snappy little tune as everything in Shipley’s Rest descends to pure chaos.

Beviin jumps out a nearby window, and having miraculously found he hadn’t broken his neck runs to grab a large pick-up truck style speeder (one that he hadn’t previously sabotaged) so he can use it for the Team’s getaway vehicle. While he’s there, he decides he wants a speeder bike too, and so helps himself to one of those – why not? In for a credit….While this is occurring, Talon is paying his dues to the Death God, scoring head-shots a-go-go with one big smile on his blue face as he provides long range cover so his Teammates can skedaddle. Dewbacca is forming a one-Wookie moving wall and obstacle removal service headed towards the door and everyone else is following behind him – this is of course after Gand uses his net to snatch up the Chuk-Chuk from a fallen Imperial officer, and then uses it to command any nearby Jawas to attack everyone except the Team.

Once outside the Rest, everyone jumps on the back of the cargo speeder and it makes a run for it. Mairro informs Vani that they need pickup and she comes in hot and low with the ramp down – trying not to think about how the speeder truck is gonna fit on the ramp. Luckily no one gives any real chase and Beviin shows he’s a decent wheel jockey by spinning the speeder around and matching its speed with the Ruby Queen’s so that everyone can debark the speeder in relative comfort…even Beviin’s purloined speeder bike which is “helped” into the ship by Dewbacca.

Once everyone is aboard, Vani realizes that she has no choice but to thread the needle with the Exploit, she must move inside the effective reach of its weapons and escape by flying the Ruby Queen between the command decks and secondary hull of the Exploit – right through the space where the prototype gravity well projector she was supposed to carry was supposed to be mounted. She made that stunt like a walk in the park and iced the cake as it were with an on the fly hyperspace jump that saw the Ruby Queen far from Tatooine in a relative blink of an eye.

While folks were congratulating Vani and catching their breath, Mairro examined the Chuk-Chuk and accidentally activated a recording which the artifact projected onto the nearest bulkhead. The projection was from a Jawa’s point of view and showed an enormous round stone being rolled into place to block off some sort of shrine or tomb that had been carved into a rock face somewhere in the wastes back on Tatooine. Mairro suggests that the Chuk-Chuk is a guide to an even greater artifact back on the planet, and that in the name of their mission they just had to go and see about whatever was behind that rock.

Some agreed, some disagreed, some weren’t sure – so, Mairro gave everybody a day to think it over while Sassoon and Do’Kee tuned up the engines…and the session was called at that point.

Tune in next time folks when you’ll hear Gand say “This? Is this for eating?”

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