Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast.   Posted by The Force.Group: 0
The Force
 GM, 784 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 13 Oct 2016
at 21:38
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
In the fog and the dim lighting, Haarmon looks for a terminal.  There's a very obvious one glowing softly on the desk.  But anybody using it would be exposed if reinforcements were to come through the door.  And why a tech was manning a security station might take some explaining... 

Rhijans and Jalt take up positions to guard Shard, while Juragga hovers close to her shoulder.  Between the three of them, they effectively block any view of what she's doing from elsewhere in the corridor.  And the brilliant glare from the saber, which casts moving shadows onto the walls and ceiling might be mistaken for the result of a welding tool. with any luck.  Though a cutting torch would be another possibility.

Fortunately it doesn't take long to get the door unlocked...
Haarmon Dak
 player, 588 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Sat 15 Oct 2016
at 18:05
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Haarmon looked at the terminal glowing at the security station. The pulse was halfway between inviting and warning. That station would already have all the subroutines he was looking for up and running. Doors. Countermeasures. Lights. Alarms. Everything he wanted to do was, in fact, what it was for. But it was also exposed.

His eyes flicked toward the maintenance panels along the interior hallways. Slower. Less certain. But blessedly safe and out of the way.

His eyes flicked back to his team-mates, trying to get the door open, out in the hallways, facing the storm.

He needed to help them now.

Life in meatspace is so over anyway.

He hopped up to the security station and booted it up. He checked to see if there was any way to access it from his personal terminal (the PBD) and maybe operate it from the floor beneath the desk.

Otherwise, he was just going to get this all done way, way faster.
Shard
 player, 1083 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Mon 17 Oct 2016
at 12:21
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
"Done," Shard spits to the bloodied troopers behind her.  The lightsaber's blade vanishes with the customary snap, the tool going back to her belt, and the older woman kicks hard at the half-door that has been sliced through.  And that would be the bottom half - at least if the colonel is in the room, the worst that will happen is that it falls on his toes.

Once the half-door falls in, she bends down to peer into the cell.  "Hello?  Anyone here?"

Just watch,
a malicious part of her mind crows. It'll be empty...
The Force
 GM, 787 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 17 Oct 2016
at 19:56
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Shard is, as it turns out, wholly incorrect.  As she calls her query into the cell, she hears a reply in a familiar voice, "Nice of you to drop by." 

Haarmon examines the security console, then slides into the operator's seat and starts work.

Blast doors start to close off the area, invisible in the mist.  And above Haarmon's head, an E-Web blaster slides out of a hatch in the ceiling and swivels to point at the blast door (or at least it points in the direction that the sound of the nearest closing door comes from.
Shard
 player, 1088 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 18 Oct 2016
at 12:21
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
"One of these days," Shard grumbles, "I'm going to see you off-balance.  Colonel," she adds, somewhat belatedly.  But despite the sourness of the reply she can't help but smile, and the older woman quickly continues in a more relaxed tone. "Serendipity put us here, but our own people are tearing this ship apart.  If you can manage, I'd like to get you into some trooper armour and we can all get off this deathtrap."

Into the room she slips, just to check and see if he needs assistance with restraints.  "Rhijans, Jalt, if you can worry armor off someone who is least dead, it'd be appreciated."
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 1032 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Wed 19 Oct 2016
at 06:02
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans snorted, almost imperceptibly, inside his helmet.  "Pretty sure we've got a volunteer right outside the door...but it'd probably be advisable for Jalt and I to stay on post outside the door and let someone else peel the trooper.  Be really hard to explain what was going on if someone walked in on us all uncladding a corpse, what with four of us in Imperial uniforms..."

He stepped back off to the side, grabbing the dead trooper he'd previously moved out of the way and dragging the body in by one leg, unconcerned with what happened with the rest of the body.  "This one will work, even with the damage...if anyone notices it, we just say we're escorting him back to medical..."  His words were slightly strained with the effort of dragging the corpse.
The Force
 GM, 788 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 20 Oct 2016
at 18:59
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Kourene is, as it turns out, restrained - strapped to a flat metal platform.  Shard sets to work unfastening the straps, while Rhijans drags in the Colonel's disguise, then goes back outside.

Juragga starts stripping the armour from the corpse, grumbling to Shard and shaking his head as he pokes three fingers through a scorched hole in the chest armour.  Kourene sits up, and begins helping to unstrap his legs.

At the security console, Haarmon sees a strip across the centre of the screen start blinking... red-black-red-black. 

The ship shudders again, and the sound of a massive detonation can be heard in the distance.  Just for a moment the artificial gravity fails, before being re-established...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 1034 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Fri 21 Oct 2016
at 07:31
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
"That can't be good," Rhijans grumbled audibly, as his feet and innards settled back into place with the restoration of the artificial gravity.  Not naturally prone to impatience, the unmistakable sense of urgency that he felt, the need to get back to the Bantha and get off the Star Destroyer, was difficult to keep in check.

He managed it via one simple expedient...the thought that leaving without Kourene simply wasn't a viable option.  Lives hung in the balance, and he could help the group save them.  Leaving Kourene behind meant who-knew-how-many compromised operatives and undercover locations, not to mention the information Kourene had about who to contact beyond the limits of the sector.  Too many lives to even think about failing.  And trying to rush back would attract attention.  No...this had to be done with urgency...but not rushed.

"Haarmon..."  His voice over the commlink had icewater backing it, cool and collected.  "Do we have anything on the status of the ship?  More specifically, our path back to our ride?"  He carefully avoided mentioning anything like the hangar deck or calling the Bantha by name...commlinks were generally pretty secure, but there was a chance someone would catch the conversation, and he didn't want to point them in any specific directions.

This message was lightly edited by the player at 05:31, Thu 27 Oct 2016.

Shard
 player, 1092 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Mon 24 Oct 2016
at 11:46
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
"Void," Shard snaps as the gravity flickers. "Hot cursed void," she continues, working with mechanical fingers.  Speeding up will only leave her fumbling, and she needs to get this all correct the first time.

If they have to fly out of here with a ship coming apart around them, they're going to require every single second.

"Have you out of here in a heartbeat, colonel.  Don't know what we'll do about your perforated armor, but in the smoke and screaming, maybe nobody will notice." She's almost babbling...almost.  Rather, it comes out fast and sharp, planning to occupy her mind, to take her thoughts from the idea that any instant the entire ship could come apart around them - blazing explosion, shattering crash leaving them dying in hard vacuum, who knows - and in this case, there's nothing she could do about it.  No last-ditch attempt to draw upon skills barely remembered, no hope of sacrificing herself to try to save her team.

The thought puts knots in her gut.

"Thanks, Juragga - beggars can't be choosers, I expect."  The Wookie is on the ball, and Rhijans maintains his professionalism (no surprise, that).  Haarmon is doing what Haarmon does best, apparently.  She has to keep it together for them.

All of us get out of her.  Alive.

"Jalt, head back and give Haarmon and the droids a hand."

All of us.
Haarmon Dak
 player, 595 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Mon 24 Oct 2016
at 12:42
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
As strange as it seemed, Haarmon was almost enjoying himself. Well he was terrified, of course. Absolutely down-to-his-socks terrified. But that had almost become Standard Operating Procedure for him. And certainly this trip had involved so many system-dumps of adrenaline that he was starting to get used to it.

But, aside from that, it felt good to be sitting on one place, butt in a chair, fingers on a panel, deep in the guts of a computer system. So much of what he did here was done on the go, in fits and starts, sit and type and run, hopelessly patchy and incomplete, that it was almost... nice.... to be able to sit down and dig into something properly.

Even with the threat of the entire ship coming apart at the seams and spinning them into space while an all-powerful Dark Jedi hunted them with the entire weight of an intergalactic tyrannical military organization behind her.

Not to mention whatever was making that warning light go haywire.

Rhijans' voice cut through the his mental fog, but when he was this focused, it wasn't even a distraction so much as it was just the shape of what what came next. Like taking a sharp turn on fast speeder. Like a personal challenge. Like a side-quest. His answer was clipped and flat. No posturing. No preening. Barely even any inflection. Just facts. Just things that are true. Like a print-out.

+ Ship status has too many alarms to give you specificity, Cap. "Not good and getting worse" is all I have without digging. I'm halfway through the walking tour. When you get here, I'll have it. + And a dull click as the line was cut and he dove back into his own brain and into the ether.

In the midst of all that, it never even occurred to him that this was the first time he'd ever promised Rhijans that a thing was going to happen before he was certain that it would. The first time he'd ever written the team a cheque for their survival that only he could cash.

This message was last edited by the player at 17:13, Mon 24 Oct 2016.

Colonel Kourene
 NPC, 28 posts
 Commander of
 Defiance Base.
Mon 24 Oct 2016
at 18:03
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Colonel Kourene starts donning the armour, requiring surprisingly little assistance.  He seems familiar with the way it all goes together.  "I don't think anybody will be paying much attention to us,  Not with the ship falling apart around them."

Nodding an acknowledgement to Shard, Reldan Jalt heads back towards the security desk to see if Haarmon needs a hand with anything.  Arriving, he notes the sounds of somebody trying to force the blast doors.  "I have a bad feeling about this... " he mutters.

Then he moves to the position next to Haarmon and studies the control panel.  "This could be useful."  His hands move across the controls, and above the two men the E-Web starts to move again, in response to his commands.  "Anybody coming through there is going to get a surprise."

Haarmon, meanwhile decides to try firing a blaster into the door controls in the hopes of stopping anybody from overriding his lock.  After which he returns to the desk and starts working again. 

Kourene finally slides the helmet over his head.  "Ready when you are."
Juragga
 player, 493 posts
 Wookiee Warrior
 Bringing the Boom
Tue 25 Oct 2016
at 01:12
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Juragga warbled, "Here we go again."  In Wookiee.

He stood by, ready for action.
Haarmon Dak
 player, 600 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Thu 27 Oct 2016
at 12:02
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Haarmon took a moment to appreciate just what a badass Kourene was. Freshly released from prison and who-knows-what-sort-of-horrible-torture and moments later he's on the terminal, busting heads and getting things done.

Pretty. Dang. Cool.

Which just means now he has someone else to disappoint.

But, for all that, he was pretty pleased with his plan. He scrolled the route he'd mocked together onto his datapad and showed the teeming multitudes what he'd found.

"Just down the hall there, is a service duct. It's going to be a tight fit. 'Specially for you, Rags. But once we're out into this probably-unused power distribution room, just next to it is a pretty straight road to where we gotta go."

He paused and eyed the door.

"And if we high-tail it, maybe we won't get spotted getting in there. Throw off pursuit, like."

He handed Kourene the datapad, figuring that he had veto power now. And then went about unlocking the armoured hatch that protected the duct.

Didn't want to forget that.
The Force
 GM, 794 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 27 Oct 2016
at 20:10
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
As the team make their way towards their escape route, there is a sound from behind them.  A sound like the continual ripping of cloth, coupled with a humming tone.  A sound which seems to bite into Shard's mind, and stops her in her tracks...

Something has pierced the blast doors.  A bar of crimson energy which starts to carve a way through. 

Reldan Jalt glances back, and then starts to hurry everybody along.  He grabs Shard's arm and tugs at it.  "Come on, move!  Haarmon's found a way out.  All of his work will be for nothing if we die here!"  And privately he remembers stray blaster shots from the direction they're headed, and hopes that there are no stormtroopers still trapped at the end of the corridor...
Shard
 player, 1100 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Mon 31 Oct 2016
at 16:51
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Shard can't help but freeze when the sound hits.  For a long moment, despite the tumult about them, she's lost in silence, caught in memory.  Then Jalt takes hold of her arm, and his words echo in her ears, pinging crazily about in her mind.

There's still a chance.

"Go," the older woman screams over the chaos.  Turning to face the sound, she nevertheless follows, walking backward as rapidly as she can.  A piece of debris twists beneath her feet and Shard stumbles, but continues.  "I'm with you!"  Her hands fumble at her belt, awkward in their haste, and then her fingers are full.  Smooth, cold metal stills her trembling, relaxes her shoulders.

For the first time in close to a decade, it's not her flask that does so.

She retreats more gracefully now, maintaining her place as a rearguard.  Someone needs to be last, and none of the others could even slow what comes: blasters would turn against their users, strength would fail against steel-sublimating heat.  Here and now, if things go poorly she's the only one who could give them time.

And should it come to that, she will.
Juragga
 player, 494 posts
 Wookiee Warrior
 Bringing the Boom
Tue 1 Nov 2016
at 00:38
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Juragga roared in defiance as the red blade speared through the door. Backing up, he raised his bowcaster, then gobbled his protest as Shard drew her own blade and prepared to hold.

Because that was his job, in his mind.  HE was the expendable one.  Not the Jedi.  HE was the one who'd lost everything, who had little hope, who only lived to die for his friends, and the (perhaps vain) hope he'd one day find a family that could damned well be dead already.

But he knew enough of Jedi ways to know his bowcaster would be of little use.  And strong as he was, Wookiee flesh couldn't stop a blade of light that could slice through steel.

He dug in his pouch for a thermal detonator.

"GRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAWRRR!!!" he roared.

You go!  Ward the others.  I will take this one with me, if I can, he vowed.
Shard
 player, 1102 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Tue 1 Nov 2016
at 11:15
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Juragga's defiance howls in Shard's ear, penetrating through the struggle for balance.  Caught up in the dance between fire and ice, the older woman nevertheless comprehends her friend's plan, if not the specifics.  One hand still holding her quiescent killing tool, she reaches out and grasps a handful of the fur on his arm.  "We're all getting out of here!" Shard shouts, continuing to walk backward and hoping Juragga does the same.

If he doesn't, there's no way in the void she's going to budge him.

"If it comes to it, last ditch is you and me," she hisses, hopefully quietly enough to keep the others from hearing over the fracas and trusting in Wookie ears. "She can probably damp whatever you're searching for, but maybe not if I'm in her face.  But for now, we try!"

Her voice rises to almost a shout. "Please, Juragga!"

This message was last edited by the player at 11:16, Wed 02 Nov 2016.

Juragga
 player, 495 posts
 Wookiee Warrior
 Bringing the Boom
Tue 1 Nov 2016
at 15:18
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Nodding with a low growl of assent, Juragga backed away with Shard, his paw in his pouch, finding the deadly egg he sought... and priming it.
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 1037 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Wed 2 Nov 2016
at 07:23
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans felt the unfamiliar pull of conflicting senses of duty...and opted to help secure the direction they were heading, rather than worrying about what was behind them.  He spared one comment for the matter...

"Look, it's going to take time for them to get a hole big enough to do anything.  Let's not waste it standing here arguing about who's going to wait for them to do it.  Get moving, make them come find us.  Let's not make their job any easier..."  He could only hope Jalt was still close enough to the others to pass the comment along, as he turned to Haarmon.

"You're point element on this...tech uniform gives you a legit reason to be in an access tunnel.  You lead.  Run into anything that you can't talk us past, stand aside...we don't have time to finesse this much longer."  His hand rested reassuringly on the grip of his blaster, before he raised it back up to rest, briefly, on Haarmon's shoulder.

"You've brought us this far.  Take us home."  Somehow, miraculously, in the icy cool of his tone, there was an echo of something that could, possibly, be taken as encouragement...or possibly even faith.  He gave a nod as he let his hand drop to his side.
Haarmon Dak
 player, 605 posts
 Are you talking to me?
Thu 3 Nov 2016
at 18:47
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Haarmon was pretty much awash in conflicting emotion. Fear, sure. Lots and lots of that. But it was less the diffused fear of 'everything going bad' and more a sharp, keen fear. For one horrible, horrible second, he thought Rags and/or Shard were going to throw themselves at... whatever that was coming through the door... to save the rest of them. And the thought that Rags could die on purpose somehow brought home the spare, bare-lightbulb-in-an-empty-room realization that any of them could just up and die by accident.

And then Rhijans, like he so often did, cut through the bantha poodoo. The dry, clipped voice, the hand on his shoulder, the calm, even logic of what they should, must do next.

And then the fear was overloaded with pride, anxiety, a desperate, desperate desire to do right by these people.

He had the utterly alien urge to salute. What would he think of that? Even Mr Invincible Tech-ninja wouldn't see that one coming. That thought almost made him laugh. The almost-laughing felt good.

He smiled. Nodded. Took a moment to slide the ceiling E-web's settings to 'motion detect, continuous' so it would just fire nonstop at whatever was coming.

Turned to the others. Got his game face on.

"Follow me."
The Force
 GM, 795 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Thu 3 Nov 2016
at 20:14
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Haarmon is, once again, leading the group.  He has an escape route, and he knows how to reach it...

So all of them move quickly through the vapour filled cell block, while at their back a lightsaber is being used to cut through the blast door.  Sparks and droplets of molten metal scatter across the floor...

And soon they reach the escape route - a low hatch in one wall.  So low, in fact, that they are forced to crawl through, while Juragga must slide on his belly.  Beyond the hatch, there is a little more room, and everybody, including the Wookiee, is able adopt a low crouch.

As Haarmon locks the hatch, there is a loud clang from outside, and the sound of blaster fire, which soon falls silent.  Then a woman's voice, muffled and indistinct.  Something about checking all the cells.

Inside the hatch is a narrow service way, which slopes gently upwards, away from the cell block.  It looks like it'll be single file and bent over the whole way, and the lighting is dim.

But considering the alternative...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 1040 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Fri 4 Nov 2016
at 04:08
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans nodded grimly at the sounds beyond the newly-secured hatch.  He wasn't about to risk anything by speaking aloud, but one thought clearly resounded in his mind...Good timing...

Moving as quietly as he could in the armor, he started up the service way, trying to make room for Haarmon to get past them, away from the hatch, and back into the lead position again.  He gestured for the others to follow...there was nothing to be gained by lingering.  It wouldn't take them long to check the cells...and when they found Kourene missing and nobody to blame for it, it wouldn't take them long to start looking at other ways out of the cell block.
Shard
 player, 1107 posts
 Most days, I'm tired.
 ...or drunk.
Mon 7 Nov 2016
at 13:15
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Once the escape hatch becomes evident, Shard exhales slowly, abandoning her attempt to find the proper balance...rather, the balance she has recently begin to seek, rather than the emptiness her past mentor taught.  Best if she's not touching the Force in any way, shape or form at the moment; it's unlikely, but possible that someone with sufficient skill could feel her out.  And now?

Now they want to be quiet.

She slips in with the others, into the service way.  It forces her to move bent over; her back aches, a chronic problem exacerbated by the poor posture.  But she remains silent, gritting her teeth against fear and pain both - the former far worse than the latter.

They need to move quickly but quietly; time is against them, with the ship falling apart, but so is noise.  They can't alert what lies behind them.  But she's considering what might come next, and it comes up poorly.

If she were Nimadda, with Kourene gone and proof of assistance, she'd start by trying to secure whatever ships she had taken aboard.
The Force
 GM, 796 posts
 These aren't the dice
 rolls you're looking for.
Mon 7 Nov 2016
at 17:27
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
After what seems like several hours, but is probably closer to a couple of minutes, the crawlway opens up into the base of a vertical shaft some five metres in diameter.  The top end of the shaft is visible about twenty metres above, and there is a central column of power cables whicc connect to complex arrays of machinery at both the top and bottom of the shaft.

More interesting at the moment are the access ladders which lead up to four doors, spaced equidistantly around the midpoint of the shaft.

Another explosion rocks the ship, and sparks shower down from the overhead machinery...
Rhijans Thanus
 player, 1041 posts
 Just let me do my job and
 nobody else gets hurt.
Tue 8 Nov 2016
at 04:50
Re: Part 19 - The Belly of the Beast
Rhijans regarded the ladders.  "Which one, Haarmon?" he asked, simply.  "Or does it matter?"  It would, of course, be faster for them all to climb different ladders, rather than trying to fit the whole group up the same one...but getting to the proper level quickly wouldn't do them much good if they all ended up going in different directions when they got there...