Birth of the Republic: The Rath Koltu Plot

This blog has been less of a team effort than I might’ve hoped. We may end up switching to a less demanding schedule for a while. For now, we’ll make up the dead air with some plot summaries of a Star Wars: Saga Edition campaign I ran a few years ago. The campaign was called Birth of the Republic and took place immediately after the Force Plague wiped out the Rakata, and concerned the Unification Wars, the violent conflict that ultimately ended in the foundation of the Galactic Republic. This first plot arc was marred by an extremely light screening process for new players, which led to a lot of flakes who showed up for only a handful of sessions before dropping out, which is why there is an intense amount of player turnover here (although in one case a character switch happened because a player wanted to play something different).

Level 1: Alderaan

Captain Diego Wartin and Red One Cutter Valen of Coruscant are escorting Representative Hiram Weyfell to the Alderaan Council, a meeting called between all the Free Worlds, from Coruscant and Corellia on down to Rhinnal and Esseles, to try and mediate the growing tensions between them before they explode into war. Wartin, Valen, and Weyfell make it to Alderaan safely, but the ground troops Wartin planned to use as Weyfell’s security detail on-planet have gone mysteriously absent. A pack of mercenaries led by Rath Koltu happen to be in the town where Weyfell landed and offer to serve as replacement escorts, but Wartin is suspicious of the offer, and turns him down. Instead, he recruits a ragtag assortment of lowlifes from the nearest cantina, reasoning that randomly selected bodyguards can’t be part of a pre-arranged conspiracy. They only need to protect the Representative until they reach House Organa, where Alderaan’s military can take over security.

While flying across the mountains, the convoy is attacked by unknown fighters of Corellian make – mercenaries or pirates, most likely, considering how the Corellians will sell anything to anyone. The convoy is shot down along with all of Red Squadron, but Wartin, Weyfell, and the party survive. At this point the party consists of James Ryder, who served with the Duro Colonial Auxiliaries until he grew disgruntled with mismanagement from on high and left them behind, Bagra Atlib, another soldier, Shequal, a selkaath medical student who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Ari, a Force Sensitive perpetually zoned out by his connection. The four of them fought through bandits and the like, eventually finding out that they’d been in contact with the mercenaries who attacked. Most of the mercenaries had already left their airbase when the party arrived, but a few fighters were left behind, along with a terminal with communications to offworld. With the fighters, the party was able to fly to House Organa and arrange a rescue operation for the stranded Representative, while Wartin turned over data cracked from the terminal to his cyberwarfare department. Most of the data was wiped from a remote location during the battle.

Level 2: Illodia

Once in House Organa, the party was contacted by Colonel Eios Organa. Colonel Organa was a young Alderaan noble given a military position as a stepping stone to greater things – no self-respecting Alderaan noble made a career out of the military. Colonel Organa took to it well, however, and hired the party to spearhead an Alderaanian expedition to Illodia, a Rakatan world discovered by zabrak scout Alecto Furioso. The Rakatan world was full of valuable Rakatan technology and the garrison had been reduced to almost nothing by the Force Plague, which had taken an even greater toll on the Rakata now than it had during the Revolution that ended eight years ago. Soon after Alderaan arrived, other worlds took notice: First Corellia, then Duro, then Coruscant, and finally the Azure Imperium, cost dearly by their remote location and lack of allies in other worlds. The Azure Imperium were still in time to hit the juiciest of targets, however, a weapons research facility built into a cliffside overlooking the sea. The Azure Imperium and Alderaan strike teams arrived simultaneously. Tempers flared, and only through the mediation of Ari was violence avoided. However, Corellian mercenaries led by Akana Hunter attacked both parties, using gunships to attempt to destroy the facility before either of them could recover anything of value from the facility. This led to a race against time to recover valuable technology, cleanse the remnant Rakatan garrison inside, and escape before the facility collapsed into the sea. Finally, the party fought with a gunship in the central chamber as its last supports began to collapse, wounding the pilot and forcing her to retreat, but too late to escape. The party was saved only by the timely intervention of their old friend Captain Wartin, leading the Coruscanti expedition on the planet. In gratitude, they turned over half the recovered Rakatan tech to him, keeping the rest for Alderaan.

Level 3: Renegg

Alecto left the team after Illodia, heading off to continue scouting the frontier on behalf of Alderaan. Shequal, scared by the near-death experience in the weapons facility, left the team, and Bagra left to pursue his own fortunes. James recruited a mercenary named Rast Kothari to aid him and Ari with their next job, another from Captain Wartin. He’d traced the origin of the remote signal erasing the terminal in the Alderaan airbase, an asteroid base on the Kuatian colony Renegg. He wanted the party to investigate and apprehend everyone aboard the station without letting Kuatian authorities know they were there. This was complicated somewhat by the arrival of Nexis Ackaron, the son of a Corellian warlord from the Revolution, and his friend/bodyguard, a wookiee named Ahab-Bus. While Nexis had kept his relationship to his father a secret, he had nevertheless been sent by Corellian authorities (by request of their ally Kuat) to investigate the mysterious goings-on in the Renegg asteroid belt. James, understaffed even before Ari was killed in the fighter battle outside the base, joined forces with them to fight the mercenaries, who deactivated the gravity and used their adeptness in zero-G combat to gain an advantage, but still lost in the end. James had Rast keep the two Corellians distracted in the control room while he loaded up captured mercenaries, including the leader of the base’s defenses Phobos Varik, into small Coruscanti gunships slipped past Kuatian security. The hacked data in the terminal was also turned over to Coruscant before being wiped, as per Wartin’s instructions. The data connected Rath Koltu, the mercenary who had offered to escort Weyfell on Alderaan, with Akana Hunter, who had attacked Alderaan and the Azure Imperium on Illodia, and also revealed that they were not working for Corellia, but rather had been false-flagging for unknown reasons. The information, along with the prisoners, was turned over to Wartin.

Level 4: Iseno

The next job came from the Duro Kingdom. Rast Kothari left the team to pursue his own ambitions, but Nexis and Ahab-Bus formally joined, along with Massassi Sith warrior Mazzhe’l and a human ex-pirate named Sanguinus Mordrak, both mercenaries, and in Mordrak’s case, seeking revenge against Rath Koltu’s mercenaries for destroying his pirate comrades on behalf of Corellia. The party was hired to help protect Iseno from some rampant wildlife, a hive of oversized social insects called the Bain. They had been overrunning outposts on the border of the Duro colony, and the Duros wanted the party to help put a stop to it before the entire colony was destroyed. The party fought the Bain in multiple locations until ultimately discovering that their ultimate source was a ruin similar to Tythan Tho-Yor in construction, which the Duros had been investigating as possible confirmation of at least some part of Tythan myths. When the party arrived at the temple, however, they found that Rath Koltu had beaten them there. His team, including Akana Hunter, had set up a perimeter around the temple, using pheromones to prevent the worker Bain from identifying them as a threat. They watched without intervening while the party fought with the worker Bain, and in the aftermath warned them not to start any trouble. Not wanting to get in over their heads when the Bain had already proven to be powerful enemies, they made a temporary alliance with the mercenaries and pushed into the temple alongside them.

Within the temple they discovered ancient writings that revealed that the Bain had been engineered by some mysterious precursor species as creatures who would live in perfect harmony with themselves and the world. However, invaders (who the party were able to identify as being Rakatan) corrupted the Bain, turning them into savage devourers who consumed their creators. The corrupted Bain were Hellishly powerful beasts, and only with the help of Rath Koltu was the party able to defeat them. Badly wounded in the aftermath of the fight, the party was in no condition to continue on into the Bain nest, instead returning to plant detonators and destroy the nest the next day. In the meantime, Rath Koltu pressed on without them, and left the next morning while the party fought in the nest. Three massive chambers they discovered deep below the earth, two of them home to Bain queens, the third, guarded by corrupted Bain, suspiciously did not contain a queen.

The party was able to follow Rath Koltu’s ship to his next destination: Corellia.

Level 5: Corellia

Having learned that the party was working for Coruscant, Nexis and Ahab-Bus parted ways with them on Duro. Mazzhe’l, who had offered to join Rath Koltu after witnessing his impressive mastery of the Force, was turned away due to his recklessness, and went on a journey of self-reflection. These departures were replaced by Denardoran, a Kuatian spy who had been framed as a double agent by his superiors in the Kuatian espionage agency, who were actually double agents, and Alex Verconan, an archaeologist who had studied Tythan ruins and sought James Ryder out for his contact with the mysterious ruins on Illodia.

On Corellia, the party met a thief named Jade Tyandas and helped her with a burglary to gain her trust. She then pointed them to her contacts with Koltu in exchange for passage to Alderaan. Things were heating up on Corellia and she didn’t want to stick around until she boiled. The party was able to follow Jade’s information to a warehouse where she had lured Akana Hunter and Varian Ka (Rath Koltu’s favored field captain for any missions he wasn’t personally leading) with a fake promise of new recruits. The ambush was successful and Varian was captured, but Akana escaped in her gunship. The party took Varian Ka captive on their newly acquired starship, only to have the Corellian authorities sicced on them by Akana Hunter, who informed them that kidnapping people was not, in fact, legal. While Jade Tyandas was able to get them out of jail with the help of her favorite lawyer Raihaine Dorvin (they still owed her a lift to Alderaan), by the time they left Rath had finished his business on Corellia and left. All they knew about his plans was that he had been speaking with the engineers working for a certain starship company owned by Kral Schmitt, a smuggler named Ras Masha, and a nightclub owner named Adira Lylin. Lylin offered discreet lodgings for people who didn’t want investigators or assassins to know they were in town, but their dealings with Schmitt and his engineers and Ras Masha’s smuggling ring remained unknown. Denardoran departed the group in the wake of the fiasco.

Level 6: Rakatan Cruiser

After hiring mercenary sniper Mar, the party found their next job, which came from the Azure Imperium’s Lt. Colonel Orin Rowan. They had discovered a stranded Rakatan cruiser used as a base of operations for Rakatan pirates, mostly intact but out of fuel, between their space and Alsakan’s. Reasoning that it was closer to Azum than to Alsakan, the Imperium had decided they owned it, but didn’t want Alsakan beating them there, since exactly who owns what in deep space is a very fuzzy area of intergalactic law. James pushed for more than Rowan was willing (or even able) to offer in exchange for the job, and he refused to meet their terms, so James broke his promised secrecy and took the location of the cruiser to Eios Organa. After capturing the cruiser, the party accepted a band of Alderaan engineers who refueled it and jumped it for them. Knowing that claiming the ship, or even letting the Imperium know they had been the ones to capture it, would only heighten intergalactic tension, Eios Organa left the ship with the party. She knew they couldn’t defend it on their own, as they barely had enough people aboard to make hyperspace jumps, and requested they drop it off at one of the weaker powers, Corellia or the Duro Kingdom, to help even the firepower between powers and thus make war less likely. Eios Organa herself was acting without the knowledge of her superiors and in fact against standing orders, and returned to Alderaan to take the fall so that the Azure Imperium wouldn’t go on a witchhunt looking for the culprit. The party ultimately left the ship with the Duro Kingdom.

Level 7: Corulag

The party next received a tip from Jade Tyandas, who had become an information broker on Alderaan. She had discovered that Kameis, a cultist from Rath Koltu’s inner circle and rumored to be his mentor, was up to something strange on Corulag. The party went to Corulag to investigate, and discovered that Rath Koltu and several of his followers were using Force powers on local merchants to persuade them to transport mysterious cargo containers. They traced the source of these containers to a warehouse, this time planning to capture Kameis and immediately leave the planet to interrogate him in deep space. Unfortunately, they underestimated the strength of the powerful Bogan Je’daii and his followers, and were ultimately defeated and captured. Mar, unknown to Rath Koltu, was left with the Corulag authorities, Alex was used to fuel one of the Force batteries on Rath Koltu’s ship, and James was traded to Captain Wartin in exchange for the captured Phobos Varik, left with a warning not to oppose him again now that he was out of bartering chips.

James, naturally, completely ignored this and immediately began trying to reassemble his group. During his recovery from the wounds which had festered in Koltu’s captivity, the first step of Koltu’s plan became clear. He had used Ras Masha’s smuggling ring to smuggle the corrupted Bain Queen and her minions onto Corulag, where Kameis had used his Force powers to convince respectable shipping captains to ship them to Anaxes. Once there, they had escaped, slaughtering customs officers and nesting deep in the city. Koltu had then helped the authorities destroy the nest, pinning the blame for the attack on Corulag and provoking the Azure-Corulag War. Corulag tried to explain that they were not responsible for the attack, but the Imperium wouldn’t listen. A Corellian fleet massed at Kuat, threatening to attack the Azure Imperium if they didn’t back down from their war with Corulag. Coruscant, not eager to see the Imperium expand into the Perlemian worlds, agreed to let the Corellian fleet pass through their territory to confront them. And after dealing with the Bain, Rath Koltu, rather than joining the Azurites for their attack on Corulag, instead joined up with the fleet making final preparations at Kuat.

Level 8: Kuat

In the wake of the invasion, Mar was easily able to negotiate his release and made his way through the blockade to Coruscant, where he met up with James. The two of them recruited Tistie Durgan, a runaway Duro noble, mostly because she had a ship and they had lost theirs, and staged a rescue for Alex and an assassination for Koltu with the help of a Coruscanti specops team. They fought their way through Koltu’s old lieutenants one by one, saving Alex and a number of other Force sensitives along with him, only one of whom was particularly useful, a man named Jax. The others were too weak (or crazy) to be of any use. With Jax, the party crashed the ship into Kuat, fleeing at the last second and fighting through Akana Hunter’s airborne forces to a factory where Rath Koltu was hiding out. At the bottom of the factory, James Ryder and Rath Koltu had their final battle.

And Rath Koltu won.

Though he had lost his ship and all his lieutenants, Rath Koltu had at least gotten his revenge, killing the entire party by a hair. With Kuatian authorities rapidly closing in on the factory where the battle had taken place, Rath Koltu booked immediate passage to the Azure Imperium, knowing what they would find in that factory. Force batteries fueled by captured Force sensitives ran the factory and its shipyard far above, working on designs supplied to Koltu by the engineers of Kral Schmitt, to more rapidly prepare the Corellian fleet for war.

But the full extent of his modifications would not be revealed until the Corellian ships, while passing through Coruscanti space, were suddenly taken over by their slave circuitry, attacking the Coruscanti fleets despite the commands of their pilots. Piloted only by slave circuitry, the Corellian fleet was devastated and forced to retreat. The Corellians protested their innocence, revealing the evidence of Koltu’s plot, but Coruscant claimed it was doctored. Of course, Coruscant had been sitting on proof that Akana Hunter’s attack on the Azure Imperium and Alderaan had been faked since James gave it to them back on Illodia, on proof that Rath Koltu was not to be trusted and the Corellian government should arrest him as a war criminal for tarnishing their reputations. Coruscant had apparently just decided not to ever release that proof. It’s funny that James never thought about why, because if he had the reason probably would have been obvious. Why would Coruscant want to clear Corellia’s name when Rath Koltu was giving them exactly what they had always wanted: Casus belli with Corellia.

 

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