Galen Argyus had contacted his fellow Jedi aboard The Crucible, an ancient Jedi Training Cruiser, and told them that he needed to meet with them on Kashyyyk in a few days. He had stumbled on something important that he believed Jaden Windu, Cortree Tincove and Gisaku Saberota needed to see. But there was something he had to do first. That had been 4 days ago.
When the Jedi had investigated his disappearance they were contacted by a group of wookies from the Kashyyyk Liberation Front. The wookiees explained that he been captured by Trandoshan Slavers while trying to defend their people from a raid. The slavers had taken Galen along with a dozen captured wookiee villagers back to Trandosha for the Hutt slave markets. The KLF had contacted the The New Republic authorities but their hands were tied. Trashosha was in Hutt Space and they had no authority there. They had been told in no uncertain terms to stay out of Hutt Space lest they cause an intergalactic incident. The KLF hoped the companions would be able to act and save their people. But the Jedi were ordered to stand down by the The Jedi Order. It was bad enough that Galen Argyus was involved given his turbulent history with the Hutts and the Republic and the Council didn’t want to incite the situation further.
Sadly, the Crucible experienced “technical difficulties” causing the transmission to be badly garbled and they didn’t copy that last order. Cortree was going to “do his best” to restore communications as soon as possible but he was dealing with a ship that was over a millennium old after all. Realizing they were on their own the group set a course for Trandosha. Luckily, the KLF had given them coordinates for the staging area for recent raids and they knew exactly where to look for their comrade.
After avoiding detection and weaving their way through Tradoshan planetary pickets the Jedi landed the Crucible on the planet quite a few miles away from the slaver camp. Mazer Val’Zian was sent ahead to scout the camp. The young Twi’lek Jedi was able to avoid detection with ease and spotted Galen and the wookiee captives. Galen had been shot multiple times and Maze could sense through the Force that his connection to life was tenuous at best. They had to move fast if they were going to save their friend.
Maze reported back to his allies that the prisoners were being held in a canyon with at least 20 or more Trandoshan Slavers patrolling the area. There was only one entrance into the cul–de–sac and steep 80 meter walls rose up on either side in the narrow canyon. The prisoners themselves were interred in 3 holes that had been dug into the dusty earth with massive durasteel doors blocking escape. Three Trandoshan Hunter Pods with deadly rotary laser canons were parked in the canyon. As the warmth of the day receded the reptilian slavers would become less active and to combat that heating elements and lights were placed at strategic areas around the camp. In fact because of the canyon walls the heaters were already seeing use as the camp lay in the shadows as Trandosha’s sun set. After some discussion the group moved into position and prepared their assault on the slavers.
Mazer infiltrated the camp easily evading the guards and sabotaged the rotary canons on the pods before moving to the generator that powered the lights and heating units and using his lightsabers destroyed it. The lights going down was the signal to begin the attack and Cortree drove the Crucible’s hovertruck up to the edge of the cliff and prepared to disembark the squad of B-1 Battle Droids he had salvaged on Raxus Prime. Unfortunately he had swung the truck around a little too hard and the droids ended up in a tangle of limbs in the cargo bay giving the Slavers enough time to recover their wits and attack.
At that same moment Jaden Windu who had sensed a weakness or Shatterpoint in the canyon walls used the Force to try and cause an avalanche. He intended to create a step ladder of stone that would allow them to move down to the canyon floor and back out again. It took more time than he wanted to move the massive bolder with the Force but he was finally able to do it. He then made his way down to the fight next to the pits.
Calling out orders in the harsh language of Dosh the Trandoshan Alpha led a squad of murderous thugs to secure the slave pits. They arrived just in time to see the impressive sight of the massive cyborg Saberota Gisaku leap from the top off the cliff trailing a grappling line fired from his cybernetic arm. The guards near the pits saw him coming and sent up a hail of deadly blaster fire which he blocked with his flashing lightsaber before slamming into the ground making an impressive impact crater. The deadly Alpha charged with his massive blaster rifle but the Jedi General was a veteran of the Clone Wars and he easily evaded his fire and knocked the heavy rifle from his hands with a deft kick while cutting down 2 other slavers.
Finally getting themselves untangled and at the barked orders of Cortree the Battle Droids entered the fray. Because of their elevated position and the sheer volume of fire and excellent direction from their master the droids took a heavy toll on the slavers cutting them down in swaths. The Trandoshans tried to get the Hunter Pods off the ground and were surprised to find Maze damaging one of them with his lightsabers. The Twi’lek Jedi moved away from the pods toward the trapped wookiees intending on liberating them from the cages. As the pods tried to take off withering fire from the B-1 droids cut them to pieces. Only one of them made it off the ground at all as another one rose up out of control and slammed into a second pod before exploding. The second pod fared little better. It was blasted and crashed loudly to the hard canyon floor going up in flames.
The final pod hovered over the Battle Droids at the lip of the canyon and took up position to blast the droids with its rotary canon. But Maze’s sabotage prevented it from firing and the gunner desperately tried to clear the debris from the blaster. By the time he had done so the droids turned on the pod and blaster it from the sky.
Maze had moved to the pits by then and was using his lightsaber to cut the locks while Saberota, eventually joined by Jaden, fought the slavers. The Alpha lost his left arm to the general’s slashing blade but before his blaster pistol tumbled to the ground he head-butted his opponent knocking him back. He deftly caught the pistol still clutched in his chopped off limb and blasted Saberota damaging his cybernetics which sparked and smoked.
Meanwhile, Jaden leaped into the fray using his superior positioning to maximize his efforts cutting down the slavers with judicious blows from his glowing purple blade. After freeing the wookiees Mazer joined in the battle taking care to disable his foes without killing them. Realizing that he had no chance to stop the formidable team of Jedi the Trandoshan Alpha snarled something in his guttural tongue before retreating from the battle. The powerful Trandoshan moved toward the generator where the comm gear was kept but was dismayed to see that Cortree’s droids had blasted it beyond repair. The Jedi swiftly loaded the hovertruck up with the liberated wookiees while the battle droids clung to the outside with their clamp like hands.
They were able to make it to the Crucible with the wookiees and Maze tried to stabilize Galen’s wounds with the Force. Unfortunately, his injuries were too extensive and Maze realized that if Galen were to survive he would have to be placed in a Bacta tank. The nearest available one would be on Kashyyyk.
But Galen had something very important to share with the group. He had learned of an auction for the location of an ancient shipwreck being held on The Wheel by Varn Talath. The auction was only a day away so they had to act fast. What had caught his attention was an old stone amulet that had been taken from the ship along with several scrolls and other artifacts. It bore the exact same symbol that was found on the Ancient War Droid that Cortree had found on the Crucible.
Cortree had repaired that droid and it had gone on a rampage killing many people. Including Saberota’s aged Padawan who had survived the Clone Wars and the ravages of time only to die in his arms as he woke from his sleep. She had sacrificed herself to stop the droid from killing General while he was still recovering. The droid had managed to escape and had vanished. The crashed ship also had an old war droid aboard. Could it be the same type as the one that attacked Gisaku? If so what was the connection between the two of them? And how had that droid ended up on the Crucible in the first place? Why was it after the General?
Jaden, who had been studying the symbols intently as the discussion raged on realized that he vaguely recognized it. He remembered reading of something called the INFINITE EMPIRE in some ancient texts. He had a feeling the symbol was related to that somehow. He didn’t know much about the topic though. If he recalled correctly The Infinite Empire was over 30,000 years old!
Maze had been staring intently at the symbol as well. But instead of any insight into what it might stand for he only got a sense of danger and unease from it. Clearly they had to make their way to auction. At the very least they had to prevent another deadly war droid from being released on the galaxy. The Twi’lek also felt that they needed to find out what the connection was between the crashed ship and the mysterious droid.
Galen explained that he had secured Maze a false identity and got him a place at the auction. He also had 20,000 credits he had taken from vanquished Trandoshan Slavers for them to use as seed money. He asked them to make their way to the space station and try to win the bidding. The disscussion on if 20,000 credits was enough and whether they should use the Force to ensure that they win the auction was interrupted by an incoming call from Coruscant.
Grand Master Veshraan’s hologram appeared and he demanded that Master Gisaku tell him exactly what the Crucible’s location was. He was clearly displeased when he was informed that they were breaking orbit from Trandosha and he ordered the General to return to the Jedi Temple on Yavin IV immediately. He promised that all aboard the Crucible would face a Jedi Tribunal for going against the Council’s orders. Maze was able to get him to relent somewhat by explaining that there were wounded wookiees that needed medical attention and that they had to go to Kashyyyk or they would lose them. Also, Galen’s life was in the balance.
The Grandmaster was extremely agitated by the mention of Galen Argyus whose reputation as a trouble maker had been well established during the infamous Battle of Soccorro. In his mind Galen had defied orders, endangering the soldiers of the Republic, all for his own personal vendetta against slavery. He saw Galen as a loose canon and it seems that he had now infected other Jedi with his insolence. Veshraan would not stand for that. He told the crew of the Crucible that they could drop off the injured but there should be no delays after that. Maze tried to explain what the situation was with the auction but the Grandmaster would have none of it. He ordered them home despite the Twi’lek Jedi’s plea.
Saberota contacted K’Kruhk who had trained him long ago and explained what was going on. The old Jedi Master, who like Saberota had survived the Clone Wars, told the group that they should make their way to Kashyyyk for now and he would see if he could change the Grandmaster’s decision. Master Tosh Diath was also there and he promised to try and influence the Council on their behalf. For now they must do their best to win the auction and protect the galaxy from whatever might be on the shipwreck.