Star Wars: Hopefuls

Part I
A Force to Be Reckoned With

After Arrianta, R5, and their former slave friend emerge from the bunker, they are greeted with silence. It seems the remaining guards have fled, leaving the plantation to the slaves—for now, at least.

Joe quietly leads them to the slave residence, and as they approach they can hear the buzz of conversation. Many frantic voices are talking at once, and though they are straining to be quiet, there is an aura of frenzy to the din. As soon as Arrianta and his companions enter the compound, a hush falls over the group.

Arrianta pauses for a moment, trying to craft his words carefully: “We have freed you, but we cannot give you your freedom. You (he points at the crowd for emphasis) have to take it! I am not here to lead you, or to become your new master, but to help you in whatever way I can. If you wish to fight, I will fight alongside you. If you wish to flee, I will do everything in my power to get you to safety. The odds are most assuredly stacked against us, but justice is on our side, and justice is a very powerful ally.” After speaking, Arrianta takes a deep breath, holding it in as he waits for the gathering to respond.

The man who risked his life to help Arrianta steps to his side. “Fellow freedmen, Arrianta has given us a great gift tonight; the gift of vengeance! For every lash, for every withheld meal, for every night spent wondering if it would be better to die, we will give that pain to the overseers one thousand times over!” He has moved forward to the center of the crowd now, and they hang onto his every word. Looks of grim determination have spread to every face.

“And when we are through, there will be no more masters on Fare!” The excited muttering explodes into cheers. Fists, farm implements, and appropriated weapons are waved in the air as the crowd swarms forward. They reach out to pat his shoulder. They touch Arrianta’s fur and R5’s dome.

The rest of the night passes in a blur with food, drink, and dancing. A wookiee woman approaches Arrianta and drags him roughly into the center of the celebration to dance. She offers her thanks only once, and then tells you where her quarters are before slipping away. R5 and a few others head off to the VAPR Moth to make a few repairs, which for once seem to go off without a hitch.

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Part II
A Force to Be Reckoned With

The morning arrives, and as you rise, you find yourself again in the dark field with the mysterious other who lent you his power. The visible side of his long snout is curled in a small smile. “You have done well. There’s more power to have if you want it.” Arrianta’s reply was swift and excited: “This is the first time in my life where I felt I acted on my purpose! I NEED to be able to do this again. I want to dedicate my life to abolishing slavery throughout the galaxy, and I would be grateful for whatever power you could give me that would help me continue to eradicate this scourge of slavery!”

“Good. Very good.” He turns and points to the sky. As your gaze follows his finger, your eyes come to rest on not one, but two stars. “Before there was the black hole, there were two identical stars. I built my home between them, and in that place of power I delivered the people of this system from crime and hunger. But my enemies sought to tear down me and all of the good I had achieved.” The left star inverts and becomes the emptiness of the black hole that is there today. You also glimpse the other planet in the system, and you watch as it fades from a bright green to a dull gray. “But my legacy will survive. Find my old home and unlock your true potential!” The figure makes a gnarled fist, and then all Arrianta sees is the blazing gold of his eyes, boring into him.

Arrianta wakes with his eyes aching, even though the room is pitch black. It is morning, and Arrianta realizes that he is on a straw pallet, lying next to the wookiee woman who approached him at the celebration the night before. It takes him a moment to gather his bearings, but then he realizes where he is. He kisses her gently on the head, and attempts to get up and leave without waking her.

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Part III
A Force to Be Reckoned With

Arrianta steps out into the sunlight, and for a moment he is disconcerted by a blue sky instead of a black one. Everyone he meets greets him with a grin or a cheer as he makes his way to the landing pad. “Thanks for everything.” The man stands at the bottom of the ramp with his arms folded. “We got your ship fixed up the best we could. That droid of yours really knows his stuff, even if he doesn’t help much. We also loaded you back up with the cargo you brought the first time. It’s a luxury good and we don’t have any interest in trading with the other plantations.” He smirks and gazes off into the distance. “What’s next?”

Arrianta clasps one of his hands, and brings him in for a big wookiee hug. “I couldn’t have done this without you, so thank YOU for everything! It’s great to see you stepping up to lead, I think the role suits you well. However ,as you may remember, I’ve lef my party stranded on Melifleur, and I need to return to make sure they were able to save my sick friend. So this is goodbye—for now.” Arrianta gives him the VAPR Moth’s comm code: “Don’t lose this and in case of an emergency, don’t hesitate to reach out to me.”

He nods and gives Arrianta a mock salute before turning and walking back to the compound. R5 is waiting in the cockpit. He gives Arrianta a quizzical tweedle. “Good work fixing up the ship buddy! There’s one place we have to stop before we head back to Melifleur.” Arrianta sets a course to the place right between the star and the black hole.

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Part IV
A Force to Be Reckoned With

Suddenly, the VAPR Moth slams out of hyperspace with a  wrenching lurch, and immediately alarms start blaring. R5 is screeching about what you think is hull trauma. More urgently, though, are the remains of the space station right in front of the ship. “Kriff R5, this is not what I had in mind!” Arrianta reacts swiftly to the disaster facing the ship, and attempts to salvage the jump by attaching to the nearby observation deck. He does a barrel-roll to dodge some incoming debris, releases the landing hook and reverses the thrusters in order to decelerate into a smooth landing.

The landing is smooth, but Arrianta’s heart is hammering in his chest. The enormity of the situations hits him. He has followed a dream to this location. On one side is the blazing star, so close and hot that now R5 is warning him about the shields. From it extends an arm of blazing light, stretching just behind the debris of the station down into the inky blackness on the other side of the ship. Arrianta realizes he is parsecs away from anyone. If anything happens to the already damaged ship, he’ll die, and nobody will ever know. And the power. The power that pulses and throbs in his veins, in his head, in his future if he just takes it. . . it is terrible and great. Arrianta is not sure if he can survive it.

All at once, Arrianta’s will breaks. Cold despair grips his heart. What is he doing here? His breath quickens. His head throbs with every heartbeat. Cold sweat dampens his fur. Arrianta finds his hand on the lever to detach the ship from the station. In the background, R5 has put out a small fire in a control panel, and alarm klaxons are waling. Run. Run. Run.

Acting on survival instinct, Arrianta prepares to detach the ship and jump as far away from this hellscape as possible. His eyes are bulging out of their sockets, his pupils shrunken dots that are wildly darting back and forth around his eyeballs. And then suddenly, everything slows down; Arrianta can feel something calling to him. He closes his eyes, and he sees a pyramid shaped object, an energy emanating from it. Though he can’t see anything around it, he can feel that it is in the observation deck, just within his grasp. He has a burning desire to take it.

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Part V
A Force to Be Reckoned With

Forgetting his fear, Arrianta opens the top hatch of the VAPR Moth, and enters the observation deck through an airlock. Once he gets inside, he is overwhelmed with the energy of the place. Everywhere he looks he can see damaged artifacts, almost as if this was a museum at some poijnt in the past. Questions start ot rise in Arrianta’s mind, such as “Why hasn’t this station been sucked into the black hole?” and “What kind of person lives in a museum full of malevolent artifacts?” But suddenly a sharp sensation pushes all other thoughts out of his mind, and he looks hungrily down the hallway. Arrianta can feel the pyramid calling out to him, reaching out to him stronger than ever. He moves with purpose, ignoring everything else around him in order to acquire the object he so desires.

The hallway opens up into a vast, open room, enclosed by a giant transparisteel dome. A scorched tome bumps gently off of Arrianta’s faceplate as he pushes off of a rack of sinister looking weapons to move across the room. The entire star-ward half of the space is blistered and burnt. You float past a melted statue and a conglomeration of unrecognizable objects fused into a jagged lump. Exactly halfway across the dome, the heat damage stops. The half nearest the maw of the black hole appears as though some giant being bent, twisted, flattened, and stretched everything in sight.

Using the various objects, plinths, and ruined consoles that dot the floor as hand and footholds, Arrianta makes his way to the dome itself and the thing he longs for enough to overcome his fear. There sits the being he recognizes from his vision. Or, at least, what used ot be him. Half of his body is a charred husk, while the other half is oddly stretched and distorted. In the corpse’s lap sits the only undamaged object Arrianta has encountered: a jet black, fist-sized pyramid.

As Arrianta reaches out and touches it, it’s like grasping a live wire. All of the power of this place is flowing through it, seizing control of the station and exerting its will on the elements that have bombarded it for millennia. And then, it is in Arrianta’s hand, cold to the touch even through his thick gloves. Arrianta feels the ancient and fragile balance shatter. Suddenly, there is again gravity and everything is pulled in the direction of the black hole. Arrianta, the body, and every other object slides toward the wall. Time to go!

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Part VI
A Force to Be Reckoned With

Although most would be wary of the cold power coursing through their body, Arrianta is exhilarated! This object has almost cost him his life, but that has only made it more precious. Like a Mon Calamari through water, Arrianta glides and spins throught he observation deck, deflty dodging flying debris and crater-like surfaces. He gets back to the VAPR Moth and roars, “Get us out of her R5!!!”

R5 whistles ina way that Arrianta would swear showed excitement over the ship’s comms. A second after the hatch irises shut and seals Arrianta in, he feels the docking dlamps release and feel sthe hum of the engines warming up. Arrianta races towards the cockpit, shucking off his gloves and helmet, simultaneously trying to secure his prize in a pouch on his suit. His bare skin brushes the pyramid, and he instinctively realeases it. But instead of dangerously cold, it feels warm, almost. . . alluring.

No time to investigate that now! R5 is whirring around the cockpit, flipping switches and levers ina frenzy of motion. Arrianta barely avoids tripping over him as he gets to his seat. The debris field surrounding the station is starting to whip up into a maelstrom. Arrianta needs to avoid the bigger pieces long enough for R5 to calculate a jump to lightspeed!

Arrianta sees a gap in the maelstrom of debris, and throws the thrusters forward; the YT-1300 rockets through the opening, the engines whining as Arrianta relentlessly holds the thrusters down. “We’re almost out R5, just a little further. . .” WHAM! Arrianta slams into the side of the cockpit as a piece of debris collides with the side of the VAPR Moth. The lights on the ship flicker, and Arrianta has to scramble back othte controls in order ot put the ship back on course. “Kriff R5, get us out of here!!!” R5 beeps confidently, and hten the points of light in the windshield elongate. Just before they jump, the collision alarm blares, warning of a massive impact. But the stars blur, and that alarm goes silent.

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Part VII
A Force to Be Reckoned With

R5 (cheerfully?) runs a system diagnostic and silences the remaining alarms. After satisfying himself that the ship is in no immediate danger, he projects an image of Vap repairing the ship and PHL-7 cleaning the fire-suppression foam. He leaves the cockpit with a happy chirp.

Arrianta closes his eyes and takes a deep breath; realizing he has been standing this whole time, he sinks down into his chair and rubs his eyes. He can feel the fear and panic that flooded his entire body start ot subside, and in its place he begins to feel the heavy weight of exhaustion wash over him. “Alright Arrianta, where are we?” Arrianta checks the ship’s snesors to see where the ship has come of hyperspace.

“Mellifleur system. Okay.” As Arrianta prepares his approach to Melllifleur, he suddenly remembers the pyramid. Forgetting his exhaustion, he frantically searches for it. When he finds it, he once again picks it up. The solid black of the pyramid is broken by crisscrossing red symbols and lines. As he places it in his palm, the top point unfolds and projects a now-familiar being into the cockpit. The bulky being examines Arrianat carefully. His face is now fully visible, and the leathery snout opens to speak.

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Part VIII
A Force to Be Reckoned With

“I didn’t know if I would ever have the pleasure of interacting with another being again. I was once known as Gordon Baba. May I ask your name?”

“It is a pleasure to meet you Gordron Baba! My name is Arrianta, and I would like to thank you for helping me free those people on Fare. You told me once before that you were called the Chainbreaker; I would love to follow in your footsteps!”

“I don’t know that we have every had the pleasure of speaking. However, I am happy to know that you have heard of my exploits. What can I tell you?”

“But—you came to me in multiple dreams! You helped me free the slaves on Fare, and directed me to the wreckage of your space station where I found this- you- whatever you are!”

“I am, or was, Gordron Baba. I am the gatekeeper of this holocron. I am an impression, a memory, if you will. To my knowledge, I have never spoken to you.”

“Wow. This is a lot to takin in. . . So who were you? Why were you on that space station? Who were the enemies that destroyed you, and why did they want to destroy you? How did you earn the title Chainbreaker? Why did I see you in my dreams, multiple times????”

“I was the ruler of the Crossroads system, and that station was my home. My enemies were jealous beings. Jealous of my achievements, jealous of the respect I held, and jealous of my power. I reache out and offered peace many times, but they chose instead ot reject that peace for a Pyrrhic victory.

“I earned the title when I broke free from enslavement myself. I slew those who had forced me to labor for years in the mines, and the dozens I freed formed the foundations of my movement to eradicate those slavers from this sector.

“As to why I appeared in your dreams, I cannot say for certain. I can only say that it was the will of the Force, along with destiny, that brought us together.

“Would you like instruction in the ways of the Force?”

“I have to admit, I don’t know much about this Force you speak of, but if it is hwat gave me the power ot command the slavers on Fare, then I would gladly accept your instruction!”

“The Force is what connects all living beings in the galaxy. It surrounds us and flows through us, whether we are ware of its presence or not.

“As it exerts its will on us, so too can we tap into its power to exert our will on the universe.

“Repeat after me, Arrianta:

Peace is a lie, there is only passion.

Through passion, I gain strength.

Through strength, I gain power.

Through power, I gain victory.

Through victory, my chains are broken.

The Force shall free me.”

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Arrianta goes to a plantation

Arrianta had always felt a calling towards abolitionism, but becoming complicit with it while running The Jig was the final straw. After dropping PH-L7 and Demergo back on Melifleur, Arrianta took off in the VAPR Moth and headed back towards Fare. On his way to Fare, Arrianta had a strange dream/vision: a figure visited Arrianta in a dark field with a black sky, calling himself the Chainbreaker; the figure offered Arrianta his help in freeing the slaves of Fare, and Arrianta accepted. Not one to think things through, Arrianta was lucky enough to have R5 by his side, as well as the stowaway slave that had been recently freed from Fare by the crew of the VAPR Moth. Using the former slave's connections, Arrianta, R5, and the unnamed slave were able to sneak into the central compound on one of the plantations and liberate all of the slaves. It was a group effort, with Arrianta nearly getting all of them killed, but instead the result was the brutal murder of several of the masters. In addition, while Arrianta and his crew were accomplishing their mission, Arrianta discovered that he now had the power to influence others people's thoughts and actions. . . 

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I'm No Criminal

     I see an opportunity here. It's time to be someone different. With the bounty hunters off my tail and that security officer covering up my death, I've got a new lease on life. I've no idea if they'll make it back from the jig, either way, I'm set.

     I've got access to the hospital. I'm no dummy. With some hard work, I know I can learn this medical junk. If they come back with the glitteral and we can synthesize a cure, awesome. If they don't, I've got some rare caviare for sale to further my education.

     I'm starting to worry about my fish lady. I'm not sure if we're, well…. compatible. I suppose that should be one of the first books I should study, interspecies relationships. I mean, it's got to be common around these parts. It's a big world. Maybe I could stop in at the local red light district to get some questions answered. I assume we've got something "in common" if she's still interested. What do you call it when a crab and a cat mate? Not sure, but it's a joke in the making.

     I hope the jig is up, that we save their friend, and maybe I can turn my life around. The outer rim is a big place. I need to make a life for myself. I'm ready for what is to come.

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