“So tell me again why we’re going back to Tattooine?”
Skara turned to give Mathus an irritated look as the mechanic flopped into the copilot’s seat in the Krayt Fang’s cockpit.
“I’ve explained this already. Tarwarrick wants us to meet him on Kashyyyk for Life Day, and he’s arranged for a Krayt Dragon egg which, as I understand it, is a treasured delicacy at these celebrations. We’re going to fly in, unload some of the cargo we brought from Coruscant, pick up the egg, and be on our merry in no time.” The bounty hunter scratched the back of her head nervously as she looked over the instruments. “That’s the plan.”
“Umm-hmm”, replied Mathus, sounding none too convinced.
“That’s the plan”, Skara reiterated more firmly. “We’re about to come out of hyperspace; shouldn’t you be back in engineering?”
“Bender’s got it. I’ve been fine-tuning his astrogation routines; this’ll be good practice for him.”
Skara’s permanent scowl got slightly deeper. The R5 droid was already decent at astrogation; Skara wasn’t sure how she felt about the mechanic tinkering with it. Mathus could be a mad genius with machines, but he was prone to bad luck like no one she’d ever seen.
She focused on the board. “Coming out of hyperspace…”
The starlines outside of the canopy changed back into familiar points of light as the ship resumed normal space. The mottled sphere of tan and rust that was Tattooine hung off in the distance. Skara was checking the board when impacts rocked the ship. Two mismatched fighters flew past the freighter’s canopy, then began to come around for another pass.
“Raiders! Get back to engineering!” Skara balanced the shields as she looked at the scope. Three bandits total; two in front and one more coming up from behind. Just great.
Mathus exited the cockpit at a run, bouncing off the bulkhead padding as he entered the ship’s central ring. “Cheim! We need you in the turrets!” He ran back to engineering to find Bender plugged into the central engineering console. The droid beeped and warbled at him.
“No I don’t know who they are. And what do you mean ‘this time’?” The mechanic looked over the readouts and was satisfied by what he saw. “Looks like you’ve got this, pal. Just keep the shields up. I’m going to help Cheim in the turrets.”
Normally Skara and Tarwarrick would man the ships weapons, but with the wookie home with his family and their pilot Pash off on business of his own, they were short a few crew members. Mathus met Cheim at the turret ladder. The gand muttered something to Mathus, but was almost unintelligible behind his breathing apparatus. “What?”, the mechanic asked. Cheim pointed up, then down rapidly while cocking his head. “Oh! I don’t care. Which one do you like?”
The gand answered by sliding down the ladder into the belly turret, leaving Mathus to climb up to the topside gun.
The mechanic warmed up the guns as Skara slid right, then snap rolled left to try and shake their assailants. The sound of blaster fire bouncing off their shields was amplified in the gun turrets. Mathus looked over the targeting computer, then swung his gun around to the rear of the ship as one of the raiders was lining up for a pass. Quad laser fire from below the ship showed Cheim was thinking the same. The pair bracketed the incoming fighter until Cheim blew off one of his wings. The ship spiraled out of control for several seconds before exploding.
Skara’s voice came over the com. “Two more up ahead!”
Mathus slung the turret around as the ships began firing. Both of them stayed topside even as Skara rolled to ship to try and give both turrets a firing line. Mathus concentrated on one the ships and managed to score a minor hit on it. The other had a free run and made the most of it. Laser fire raked the ship and internal klaxons began to sound as the shields were overloaded.
Skara continued to roll the ship, bringing the wounded fighter into Cheim’s field of vision. The gand keyed a quad blast that left the fighter nothing but a cloud of superheated gasses. The final fighter knew when it was outmatched and sped away. Skara turned the ship around and pointed it at Tattooine.
“He says it’s gonna be a couple of hours to get the ship patched up.” Mathus had just been speaking to the Toydarian mechanic at the Anchorhead spaceport. “He can’t let me help; union rules or something. The Hutts are pretty strict about this stuff.”
They had brought the damaged ship in with no difficulties. While the spaceport mechanic looked over the damage with Mathus, Skara had sold their cargo and contacted the dealer of the Krayt Dragon egg. She’d arranged to pick it up after the ship repairs were done; leaving it onboard while unknown mechanics were crawling around the ship seemed like a bad idea.
They left Bender to supervise the repairs and headed for the local cantina. Entering, they found the locals in the midst of a Life Day celebration. The place was decorated with red tapestries and crystal ornaments, and even a holographic Tree of Life. There was typical Life Day fare; hot chocolate, orga root, wookie cookies and iced cream. Several wookies were in attendance, hoisting two-liter crocks of elba beer and singing at the top of their considerable lungs as they celebrated their planet’s most sacred holiday. Mathus was intrigued and went over to investigate.
The rest of the crew struck up a conversation with another couple of adventurers: Zindra, a rodian scout and Cotan, a Twi’lek scoundrel. After several minutes of conversation, they began to notice a group of thuggish looking individuals; humans, barabels and aqualish, filtering into the bar trying to look inconspicuous. Skara heard Cotan mutter “uh oh” under his breath as the leader, a grimy-looking human, approached their table.
“Well, if it isn’t Cotan. I’m surprised to find you at the spaceport, considering all the money you owe the Hutts. One might get the impression you were looking to go off-planet, and that would be a terrible misunderstanding. For you.
“And Zindra! Still hanging around with this tentacle-headed loser? I thought you at least were smarter than that.” The rodian simply stared at the man, her impassive eyes unblinking.
They all turned in surprise when Mathus, inspired by the spirit of Life Day, began participating enthusiastically in the wookie singing, warbling along at the top of his lungs while chewing on the mildly psychtropic orga root. Cotan took the opportunity to sucker-punch the lead thug, and the melee was on!
The ruffians concentrated on keeping Skara, Cheim, and their new friends pinned in the corner alcove where they sat. That plan fell apart when two of the wookies, directed by Mathus, stormed into the crowd and grabbed several of the thugs and began shaking them mightily or slamming them into one another. Cheim dove for the floor as he pulled a hypo of neuroparalitic from his belt and slammed it into the first unfamiliar ankle he saw. A barabel howled and toppled over as he lost all feeling in his legs.
The lead thug drew a blaster and snapped off a shot at Cotan as the twi’lek dove for cover. The barkeep began shouting “no blasters!” ineffectually as Cotan and Skara opened fire. The remaining cantina patrons scurried for the exists as the brawl devolved into an all-out firefight.
Finally, after several of the thugs were downed, the rest retreated to the rear of the bar and finally fled off into the mazelike alleys of Anchorhead. The crew was amazed to find they had no serious injuries for once. They made a hasty retreat from the cantina before law enforcement arrived, inviting Zindra and Cotan to join them. After splitting up and strolling nonchalantly for an hour to be sure the coast was clear, they rendezvoused outside the shop of the Krayt dragon egg dealer.
The first sign that something was wrong was the broken lock on the shopkeep’s door. Rushing in, they found the place in shambles and the proprietor, Drom, unconscious on the floor. After a quick stimpack injection from Cheim, the man informed them that he heard the disturbance coming from the cantina down the block and was going to lock up the shop when several men burst in and roughed him up. No one was surprised to find that the Krayt dragon egg was missing.
The crew spread out and asked any locals if they had seen anything suspicious at the time of the robbery. Apparently several high-end shops had been hit. Witnesses reported seeing several banthas pulling what appeared to be a large sleigh carrying an enormous sack heading out into the Jundland Wastes. Many of the shop owners were offering a reward for the return of their merchandise. The crew quickly rented a speeder and took off in pursuit of the thieves.
The tracks were easy to follow at first, but began to melt away in the shifting sands of the desert. Just as they had almost disappeared, Zindra spied a sandcrawler off in the distance along the route they were travelling. Cotan gunned the speeder’s engine and they raced towards the distant vehicle.
They pulled up alongside the stationary sandcrawler as several jawas turned to meet them. Zindra spoke to one of the creatures, asking about the bantha sleigh, but the jawa replied only that they should “Go away; Bumble isn’t happy”. Zindra tried to get more information from the creatures with little success.
As the conversation went on, the rest of the crew examined their surroundings. Skara noticed someone in a high window in the sandcrawler trying to get their attention. Zindra’s conversation with the jawa ended as the creatures turned and entered the sandcrawler, a large blast door slamming shut behind them.
Skara pointed out the window to the party. She then climbed the sandcrawler’s exterior, hoping to find a way in topside. Meanwhile, Mathus examined the outer door controls to the sandcrawler and began to hack into the system. Skara dropped back down to the ground after finding no way in above just as the outer door to the sandcrawler swung open. Mathus grinned proudly.
The bottom floor of the crawler was a mess of droids in various states of disrepair. A jawa milling around was quickly and quietly subdued. The party quickly rifled through the parts but found nothing of value, then headed up the stairs to the second level. There they ran into two more jawas, who began chattering angrily at them. Skara stunned one of the creatures and the other one flipped out. It took off running, pausing only long enough to activate an assassin droid.
Mathus began trying to take control of the droid when it shot his datapad out of his hand. The party retreated, throwing a frag grenade at the droid as they ran. The droid did not seem inclined to pursue. They continued through the sandcrawler as quietly as they could until they rounded a corner and came face to no-face with a large party of armed jawas. Cotan quickly lobbed in a stun grenade that knocked all of the creatures prone. Mathus ran in and began disarming the jawas until several of them awoke and shot him. As the mechanic toppled out of the way, Skara and Zindra opened fire, their blaster rifles set to full auto. Mathus rallied long enough to arm another stun grenade, then heroically hurled himself into the jawa’s midst, trying to catch all of them in the grenade’s blast. Unfortunately he tripped over one of the fallen bodies and fell face first on the grenade, stunning no one but himself.
The rest of the crew continued to fire upon the jawas until they had all fallen or fled. They released the prisoner, a very short human who introduced himself as Hermey. As introductions were completed, the crew heard a thudding sound, growing louder as it approached. From around the corner, Bumble the wampa came into view and charged the party. As the crew fled, they tried to lead Bumble back to where they left the assassin droid, hoping the two would fight it out and they could escape in the confusion. Hermey said that he could even control the assassin droid.
The crew retraced their steps to the assassin droid, the wampa in furious pursuit. They found the assassin droid where they left it, and Hermey was quickly able to take control and send it into combat against the wampa. The wampa shook of the initial assault and kept coming, prompting the rest of party to also open fire. Cheim did his best to keep the party upright during the battle, until finally Zindra was able to drop the wampa for good.
Mathus called Bender to bring the Fang to their current location, so Cheim could access the ship’s medical bay and patch up the crew. While they waited, Hermey told them the sled had stopped at the sandcrawler, but had continued on towards the Northern Pillar. Once the party was patched up, Bender gave Hermey a lift back to Anchorhead in the Fang as the crew continued on in their speeder towards the Northern Pillar.
As they approached the Pillar, Cotan stopped the speeder. Skara got out and raised her macrobinoculars. “Yeah, I see it. It’s a big sled, just like the folks in town said. They’re hauling it to the top of the peak; it looks like they plan on heaving it over. We’d better get over there qui…” She was cut off as the zoomed in figure of a Tusken Raider rose before her an whacked her across the head with a gaderffii. Several more approached the group; Cotan gunned the speeder’s engine and attempted to run them down unsuccessfully.
The crew quickly spread out and opened fire on the sandpeople. Blasters versus gaderffii was not a fair fight; in no time they were back in the speeder, racing up the peak towards the sleigh. As Cotan maneuvered in close, Skara was able to throw a grappling hook to the sled and secure a tow cable to the speeder. Cotan began to pull the sleigh away from the precipice until the last remaining raider cut the cable. Zindra and Skara unloaded on the creature, then the crew rushed to try and keep the sleigh from falling over the edge. Their combined efforts stopped the sled from sliding any further, but they could not move it back from the edge.
As they struggled, Mathus called upon the spirit of Life Day, and they say his muscles grew three sizes that day. Inch by inch, the sleigh began to move away from the cliff. As it did so, the large stack of stolen goods piled upon it shifted and, in comically slow motion, the Krayt Dragon egg bounced down from the top of the heap, off the sleigh, and out of sight. With the sled now safe, they peered over the edge to see the remains of the egg splattered at the bottom of the cliff.
The party discussed their options. They’d retrieved all the stolen goods except for the one thing they’d really needed. Where could they possibly find another Krayt dragon egg?
Skara pulled out her macrobinoculars and scanned the wastes. A flash of sunlight off something reflective caught her eye. With nothing else to do, the party headed over to investigate.
As they approached, they saw what appeared to be a ship buried in the sand. The flash of light Skara noticed was a reflection from a small portion of exposed windscreen. As they got closer, they also noticed the sleeping form of a Krayt dragon nearby, guarding a nest with three eggs.
The party exited the speeder and investigated the ship as quietly as they could. It appeared to be an intact Hawk 290, but there was no way of knowing if it was functional without getting inside the cockpit. Since the ship was mostly buried, Skara and Mathus tried to open the manual hatch at the top of the ship. The hatch squealed loudly when they began to turn the access wheel, so they withdrew and considered their options.
They decided to have Bender bring the Fang out to their location. Zindra, Cotan and Cheim would distract the dragon while Mathus and Skara snatched an egg and got the buried ship out and away. A couple rounds from the Fang’s belly turret got the dragon’s attention. It flew off after the freighter while Mathus furiously rigged the downed ship and got it running. Skara snatched one of the krayt dragon eggs from the nest, then was able to limp the injured ship back to Mos Eisley. After losing the dragon, the Fang’s crew loaded up the stolen goods from the sleigh before joining them.
After returning the stolen goods and receiving numerous rewards and gifts for doing so, the party found itself with about 8000 credits, plus another 5000 negotiated to take a local, Gavin Darklighter, to Kaskyyk. Discussing their promised discount with the shopkeeper Drom, the party negotiated a hyperspace motivator for the Hawk for 6500 credits, and Mathus estimated it would take another 3500 to get it fully functional. After considering selling it for scrap, the party decided to keep the ship, and left it in Drom’s care for repairs as they headed off on their next adventure.