The Chronicle of the Jackdaw

Sideways
session #15 [08/22/20]

On the outside, Ari was a portrait of steadfast confidence. Every word and gesture and expression carried the message that what was happening was fine, that there was a reasonable explanation that she and the Republic soldiers would find together. That neither Talon nor herself was an enemy, and once they could all speak they would fix things. There was some concern, some worry, for obviously something had gone terribly wrong – but that it was something they all could sort out together. 
 
On the inside, her thoughts and emotions raged. Mostly especially, a sense of dread was winding tendrils across her mind. 
 
Talon's behavior had been growing increasingly worrisome. Using secret Force powers so she and Kell could defeat Lori and her partner in a casual game. Bringing Kell on board as a "temporary" cremate, without discussion and knowing her allies' concerns and distrust. The absolute dismissal of any reservations they had. Accepting a contract without the usual consultation with the crew. And now, the inexplicable decision to attack people who had been nothing cooperative and helpful… because she wanted to take some random Sith's lightsaber? 
 
The Chiss' logic was sometimes maddening… but it had always been logic. Even if the manner of thinking was sometimes foreign to Ari, it was at least consistent and pragmatic. Stay neutral so they don't get caught in crosshairs and were free to take contracts as they pleased. Avoid letting any particular side know if they'd taken a job against their interests. Weigh pros and cons, consider risks, and then act appropriately. 
 
Ari had arrived on the scene to find Talon unconscious and badly wounded, receiving first aid from the soldiers who were shackling her. The situation had somehow deteriorated to the point that even Ari's prior rapport with Malcolm wasn't enough to get him to bend. She hadn't even been allowed to check on her friend, and was being kept separated from her as they returned to the city. Although… was that even still her friend, Ari wondered? The Chiss had stopped listening to her, consulting her, or even seeming to care what she felt. She still sought out Lori at times, yes – but she displayed no care for Lori's discomfort and distrust of her brother. Impulse and desire had become driving forces. And now this. Sudden and inexplicable violence, when the odds were entirely against her, against all logic.  
 
Ari didn't understand why Talon had begun behaving this way. And worse, she didn't know how to coax her captain back onto a saner and more cooperative path. 
 
As the transport sped along the road, Ari's sense of dread grew. She wanted nothing more than to sink into her seat, close her eyes… cringe, maybe cry, at least take deep and ragged breaths while letting her heart race. At the stress of the situation, at the deteriorating relationship and trust with Talon, at being taken against her will. Or perhaps some righteous indignation at being taken into custody and having been obligated to allow her items to be taken and her hands to be bound. 
 
That wouldn't help anything. It wouldn't get Talon and the Jackdaw and herself out of this. So she kept her back straight, her breathing slow and steady, her expression one of collected confidence and trust. No one else was going to show up and fix things. At best, the rest of the crew would attack Havoc Squad and free them by force – and that was something that Ari could not allow.
 
She’d do what she needed, to get herself and Talon free of this. It wasn’t even only about the two of them – she’d leverated Mason’s name to get the meeting with Malcom, after all. She needed to clear their names to avoid tarnishing his reputation as well. It was all doable…
 
Ari closed her eyes and took a slow breath in and out. Everyone knew the Sith could play with emotions, she could tug on that – Talon had defeated the Sith alone, clearly before the enemy fell, they had managed to do something to the Chiss’ mind. If necessary, she could pull in Satele and the Jedi, offer to go with Republic forces to escort Talon there in order to “cleanse” her mind of the Sith influence which had obviously impacted her. Mason was not going to happy when he heard about this, but she could calm him down. After all, Ari HADN’T played the Republic here, and had been acting in good faith, Lori had even managed to actually defeat the base during their ruse to do so… and she’d had zero influence on what Talon had done. All she needed to do was step into his arms, bury her face in his chest, and let him glimpse the distraught emotions that genuinely were troubling the engineer. She could deal with his “I told so” and “you should have let me help”, she could let him have those. 
 
 After that, though, Ari thought about what she should do. She knew what she wanted. She could even hear herself talking to Lori, saying it. 
 
“I’m going with Mason and the others, to Balmorra. I’ll see you there if the Jackdaw takes the contract, but I’m going now. If I can, I’ll find your brother…”

View
The Boiler Room Job
Session #14 [7/26/2020]

Dear Niko, 
 
We arrived on the planet of Ord Mantell and it was more or less as expected. We located the fort, which is a short distance from one of the cities (a Separatist city that supports him, clearly). 
 
Our captain conducted some research on our Target while  Lori and Kell set off for the separatist city to do information gathering. They were given specific instructions from Talon to not leave a large impression of a pair of bicking Mandalorians. Be innocuous. It occured to me that "a pair of bickering Mandalorians" would be a fine impression – it wouldn't linked back to the Jackdaw, who had only one Mandalorian regularly on board. It would only be a worry if Kell was going to be remaining long. I decided to not voice that opinion, though. Some beehives are best left unjostled. I do hope he leaves soon, though – I am sure that Lori is anxious for news of her other brother, and to be able to make a decision on whether to see him. 
 
It appeared as though Talon was angling for me to secure a meeting with the Chancellor or other politically important individuals. I did not take the bait, if that was her goal. She's aware that I am on this ship specifically not as Viscountess Ariadna Gotha of Alderaan, so I would hope that she wouldn't ask me to name drop in order to help us with assassinating someone – but if such is her intent, then she can do so directly. 
 
I used my connection with Mason to secure a meeting with the lead of Havoc Squad, Jace Malcolm. I had Iggy take me over on its ship and presented myself (entirely accurately) as a bounty hunter working with it. Best to keep the Jackdaw's name out of it all, if possible. I didn't outright tell him our contract on the planet, but assured him it would assist with their own goals and thus it would be beneficial to help me. He was a delight to speak with, even when he nudged at why I was not on my home planet and implied that it could mean a lack of loyalty. 
 
If only he knew that being away was an act of loyalty, and the best thing which I could do for my people right now. 
 
Why tell him of my origins at all?  I don't know, Niko. It had once been a closely guarded secret. Ari of the Jackdaw. Ari from nowhere. Yet somehow the phrase "I'm from Alderaan" slipped easily past my lips. Perhaps I recognized he had a strong chance of knowing anyways… after all, he likely checked in with Captain Garudo since I'd name dropped him in order to get the meeting and to set a welcoming tone. Or perhaps my connection with Mason is making me grow a little careless. Telling Mason had been a large step, and being open about it with his associates feels like a natural next one – something I'll need to guard against, I think. 
 
At any rate, it all worked out well. I gained some helpful intel and left Havoc Squad with a positive impression. With luck (and skill), I’ll have some good news for Malcolm soon enough. 
 
After hearing the intelligence gathered by Lori, Kell, and most especially Talon, a plan began forming in my head. Our target is a tactical genius, who responds quickly and adeptly to new challenges to his mission. How many “clever” or random plans can we throw at his little base at once? If we overload him with attacks and schemes against the fort to overcome, he’ll see that. He’ll focus on that, on responding to that – and then Iggy can go forward with his straightforward plan of shooting him in the head. We came up with various methods of attacking the fort, and are beginning to put them into play. 
 
There is still no sign of his Sith accomplice (and rumored paramour). I cannot help but wonder if there is no second person – if Tenaris Sylvok is himself secretly a Sith but has a way of obscuring his connection to the Force. Best to prepare for both possibilities (either him possesses those talents, or a second person coming to his aid). 
 
I must attend to some errands now. I have an official diplomatic vehicle to borrow, and some digging equipment to rent. 
 
This should be a delightful amount of fun. 
 
All my love to you and ours. 
 
Sincerely, 
Ari

View
heart and peace
Session #13 [6/27/2020]

Dear Niko, 
 
Why, oh why, is it always those who pride themselves on being logical and unemotional end up falling prey to emotions in the most terrible of ways? 
 
That question answers itself, I suppose. 
 
We were informed that Talon has taken Kell on as a temporary crewmate. Before I could mull on that too much, we were informed that we had accepted a mission when it arrived on our datapads: recovering goods stolen by the King of Kessel by “unknown parties”. His missing cargo was on the planet of Obediah, being guarded by Pikes. Three guesses on who stole it, Niko? I know you always said I was the clever one, but I am sure that you can figure it out. 
 
We were given a Guild contact there, a hunter type droid called IG-88-AI. We agreed to work together, which it receiving 25% of the bounty. It is… well, a droid. I told it to meet us at our ship but to wait several minutes after our own departure, so as to not appear suspicious. I realized afterwards that it most definitely wait until the exact second which I had mentioned. I will have to remember to give droids a varying and specific amount of time for such things. “Wait twelve minutes and fourteen seconds, then leave the bar.”
 
Thanks to Iggy, we knew the exact location of the crates and most of the external defenses. Kell wanted to simply assault it, as apparently “finesse” and “being welcome on this planet ever again” and “not being pursued by the Pikes” are all foreign concepts to him. Lori had a plan which involved sacrificing Kell’s ship, which he strongly disliked – and, well, he unfortunately had a point that it would not be a good trade. I voiced that sacrificing his ship was not ideal as it would more valuable than the bounty itself – and proposed we do most of Lori’s plan, but with a ship that would steal on the planet for that purpose. It was amenable to all, although I think Lori was slightly disappointed at not being able to have her brother’s ship bombarded by Pike forces. 
 
Things went as planned, for the most part. Alloy was delighted to be given the opportunity to explode things (perhaps too delighted, but that’s Alloy). While we were transferred the recovered crates from the stolen vessel to the Jackdaw and Kell’s ship, though, one fighter craft did not remain to assist at the besigned facility. It hovered above us, with the pilot remaining on board and six fighters rappelling down to engage us). Being identified simply wouldn’t do, for all the typical reasons but ESPECIALLY given our plan to have the Pikes chase the stolen ship under the assumption it was the one with their goods. So, we couldn’t risk anyone either getting away or having time to notify a superior of the Jackdaw and other ship’s existence. 
 
Fortunately, I did some quick math and while the others engaged the ground fighters, utilized my jet boots to get myself twenty feet into the air quickly, and from there I was able to lob an ion grenade at the hovering craft’s engine and controls. It took out the electronics, the ship crashed to the ground, and we handled the rather furious pilot (although he did swear at me and angrily fire a rocket launcher almost directly into my chest – thankfully, the armor which you sent me held up marvelously and protected me from the bulk of the damage. 
 
Having removed the possibility of witnesses, our three crafts split up as intended. Kell piloted the stolen craft, which was pursued as planned. Talon used his craft to pick him up from where he abandoned the craft and set it to autopilot. I stayed with the Jackdaw. Lori, Iggy, and Alloy attempted to return to the droid’s ship – but Talon sent me a holo message that they weren’t able to board and depart as the Pikes had closed the docks due to the events. Not as planned. They seemed fine and not in need of a social rescue, but I suggested to Talon that the Jackdaw linger off planet relatively nearby in case that should change. I can, as you’re well aware, throw a very dramatic and charismatic noble temper tantrum. (Remember how I kept us out of trouble that time we all snuck into the royal wine cellars?) Talon agreed it was a good idea, and so linger we did. After a couple days, they were able to get on Iggy’s ship and we all travelled to Kessel to deliver the goods. Done and paid, and Sammy is working to sell the weapons and armor we recovered from the dispatched witnesses (who, I will say, were exceedingly well equipped). 
 
It seems we have impressed Iggy’s circuits, or whatever passes for “impressed” in a droid’s calculations. It droid offered up a job – 50-50 split to assist him in a Guild gig. He wouldn't budge on that bit, but did agree to a 60-40 split of loot (in our favor). 
 
The mission is to permanently handle Tenaris SylVok, a male Zabrak and “independent” contractor formerly trained by the Imperial army. He bore the moniker “Death Trooper”, which is just so very charming. He is training separatists on the planet of Ord Mantell, based out of a small fort, and for some reason this has drawn the ire of the Guild or someone with enough money to sponsor them to care about it. 
 
I did some digging, to check whose ire we may risk rousing. As you know, Ord Mantell is a democracy, led by the Parliament's head Cathar Aru Tis. It is Republic allied, which explains why the unofficial Tenaris is there and not a proper Sith force – but it means that dealing with Tenaris won’t cause us trouble from either side (if we even get caught – which, as you know, we generally try to avoid or at least maintain some plausible deniability so that the Jackdaw can maintain its political neutrality). Just the way we like it. 
 
There may be a complication, as from my research it appears that Tenaris has a highly personal Sith ally whom we should expect. Nothing about this Significant Sith is known – no name, species, gender, nothing… but the rumors place them as usually traveling together. 
 
I inquired with Mason and learned that Havoc Squad is on the planet, assisting the Parliament as best they can – the leader of this particular group is Jace Malcolm, and Mason was kind enough to supply his contact information. He wanted to know what we were doing, of course, but accepted my mercenary privilege sidestep. I suspect I am going to hear some sass about the lack of details later… if we’re successful, though, perhaps the slant of this particular mission will make him less likely to complain – after all, he’ll like the results of this one. He won’t always. I admit, it’s why I would rather not tell him the details of much of what we do. If it’s less in his face, it’s easier for him to accept. It is one thing knowing that your associate sometimes works for the Empire, it’s another thing to know the details and be able to see the results. 
 
At least Kell should like this job. He despises the Empire, about as much as he looks down on the Republic. We met him trying to cause political ruin for the Empire with its allies, after all. 

On the note of Lori's familial associations, I found the opportunity to lightly touch bases with her regarding the news of her oldest brother. Given what had occurred previously, I was guessing she wished to hold off discussing "the topic I was asked to research" until Kell was no longer on board – and she confirmed that was the case. Patience, then, on that. 
 
Wish us luck, Niko. Give my love to everyone, and assure mother that I am doing my best to keep myself (or at least our name) out of trouble, exactly as she wished. 
 
From the holo images I pulled up in my research, Ord Mantell is vaguely reminiscent of a small Alderaan. With luck, it can remain so – I will admit, part of me hopes that our Guild mission will help prevent a similar civil war from breaking out there. 
 
I miss home, Niko. Quiet home, with a lack of gunfire. We had moments of that, even with the war. I wonder sometimes what it would be like to have that forever. We have to believe we can get there – as long as the price isn't the soul of Alderaan and her people itself.

How lovely it is, to imagine we can have both our heart and peace. 
 
Always yours, 
Ari 

View
watch it go, we stay the same...
Session 12: 6/13/2020

Dear Niko,
 
It seems as though we will not need to handle this Unmaker Emperor business as quickly as anticipated. We had intended to get it done with as quickly as possible so that we could decide what we are doing, but the galaxy has other plans – a cosmic anomaly (a solar storm of sorts?) is preventing any travel to Zakuul. Talon has instructed Raivern to monitor the situation and alert us as soon as it has dispersed and travel is possible, but in the meantime it will be business as usual.
 
We began to head towards more populated space in order to look for work, when I received a holocall from Mason, inviting us to drop in at a Republic space station near Corellia as they will be stationery for a short length of time. With that being as good a place as any to find some paying work, we headed off. I’ve spent much of my free time alternating between investigating the whereabouts of Lori’s eldest brother as she had requested, and designing a new techblade with Diesel.
 
When we arrived at the Republic space station, the usual suspects were waiting for us there and in short order we had all split up to spend time with our contacts. I updated Mason on what had happened on Hoth in regards to our job from the Republic – we’d investigated the caves, took down notes, had to blow the cave upon learning of an incoming Sith Interceptor, and that we had a lead to investigate before giving our report to the Republic. He was satisfied with that, although he attempted to ask subtle questions about the nature of the Sith vessel. As there was no reason to hide the information, I told him that the Sith aboard had been Darth Zalam and Darth Xon and that we’d conversed. I declined to give further details, of course - playfully citing mercenary/client privilege… which he was less satisfied with, but accepted.
 
Mason really is the sentimental sort, Niko – upon visiting quarters, I found that same photos that he had on the previous ship. He brings them with him everywhere, and I noticed that he arranges them in very particular ways.
 
That evening was a celebration for the Republic, although I’m a bit vague on what exactly they were celebrating. Hardly a strange experience, though – I think half the time I didn’t know why were attending parties back on Alderaan. Thankfully, I manage just fine. There were games, which was a bit interesting. Lori and I competed against Mason and Joscar in a shooting competition, with us winning a proper dinner date.
 
Despite having seen Talon leave the party with Gabriel? As Lori and I were headed back to the Jackdaw to get ready for dinner, who should we encounter but Talon and Kell. Strange coincidence, him being here. Kell and Lori sniped at each other a bit, with the end result being us all agreeing to meet up after our dinner for a repeat of the shooting competition.
 
The Republic soldiers cleaned up exceptionally well. Lori informed Joscar that the Mandalorian was her brother and about the competition, inviting him to assist as her partner (and Mason couldn’t help but overhear). Upon hearing my distaste for the Mandalorian, Mason offered to have him removed from the station. A kind offer, but I declined – it’s unnecessary and would only serve to pander to Kell’s ego even further. I did find a way to drop the fact that we had arrested him previously and he’d kicked me in the face. I’m not going to tell Mason who to like or dislike, but I will absolutely make sure he has the fact needed to come to the correct conclusion on his own.
 
Dinner conversation was lively even aside from that, with Mason instigating the subject of politics. Lori and Joscar were conspicuously quiet (although the former doesn’t surprise me, given her status as a soldier during the war on the opposing side). After ensuring that this was a truly discussion he wanted to have, I voiced clear support for Alderaan’s decision to separate from a Republic that abandoned its own ideals in backing down from the bully that is the Sith Empire. He asked if I supported the Empire, which made me laugh and I reminded him that I had just called them a bunch of bullies. Currently, neither side is appealing. In a perfect world, yes the Republic would stand for its own beliefs and be worthy of support from places like Alderaan – but currently, it isn’t. And so we hover in the in-between. It can’t last forever, of course – no one planet can stand against a confederation forever. But sometimes standing as long as you can is worth it. He voiced some agreement, so of course I had to poke him about how he had remained in the Galactic Republic navy after Alderaan had resigned from it. He spouted ideals about becoming high enough up, important enough, to guide the changes he felt that it needed.
 
It’s a noble goal. I know it may sound as though I am scoffing at it, but I am not. It’s idealistic and I can’t find it in myself to believe in things like that, but it isn’t wrong to try.
 
He also did some nudging at my own planned future, which… well, I had to both stubborn and coy about. “Are you going to be a bounty hunter forever?” “I’m a bounty hunter now.” He offered up that should I wish to change my lifestyle, that he thinks I could be skilled in politics and could speak with his mother about finding a place for me. I found it sweet, but out loud repeated that “now” was what I had, and for now I’m a bounty hunter, and he simply has to accept that.
 
At least someone thinks I could be skilled in politics, hmm Niko?
 
I can’t help but compare Mason and Xon. There’s a strength in both, and a sense of a powerful set of beliefs. Xon makes me feel both in and out of control at the same time, with an intensity that I struggle to understand even when I feel it licking at the edges of me. Mason, though, makes me feel… in control, but calm. Like the Vicountess Ariadna, regardless of wearing a mercenary's mask. It's an interesting contrast, no?
 
After dinner, we joined Talon and Kell back at the party to discover them both inebriated, claiming it was an “experiment” they were doing. I commented to Lori that Kell had just stacked the deck so should she best him, he can claim it was the alcohol and not her own skill. I was annoyed at how absolutely irritating the entire thing was and immediately volunteered to shoot first, tanking my shots and then distracting Mason deliberately so he would as well. If they aren’t going to engage in good faith, I saw no reason to faithfully participate. I did tell Lori to kick his ass, still. Which she did, soundly, and her team bested Kell and Talon – despite Talon using a Force power to cause Joscar to miss at least one of his shots.
 
If nothing else, “exasperated” is certainly on the list of my emotional reactions. After throwing a few barbs my way, which I answered, Talon and Kell left to go drink more. I am unsure whether his attempted aggression is better or worse than him simply not acknowledging me.
 
Unwilling to let them spoil an otherwise good day, Mason and I returned to the Jackdaw. I put on some music and we danced in the privacy of my quarters and had a delightful end to our evening.
 
It was while we were relaxing, each of us working on our respective datapads, that I finally found the information that I was looking for. Lori’s eldest brother, Jinn, is working for the Republic – and currently training guerilla troops on Balmorra. I sent her a quick message telling her that I had found him and suggesting we meet up the next day to talk.
 
I swear, though, Niko… this brother better not be as irritating as the other one.
 
Sincerely yours,
Ari

View
Captain's Log #12: Beep Boop, Mason
Session 12: 6/13/2020

[Chronicle Holonet]

Captain Talon’s logs are largely written in her native Cheunh, with italicized words and phrases representing words she could not translate from Galactic Basic — either because no equivalent exists, or meaning would be lost in the process.


CAPTAIN'S LOG // EN ROUTE TO REPUBLIC SPACE STATION // AN UNAVOIDABLE DELAY ::

The journey to Zakuul will have to wait — Raivern has received reports of some variety of celestial anomaly that makes traversing to the planet exponentially more dangerous, even for the Jackdaw.

I received a holo call from Zil. I was expecting another redacted message, if any communication at all, and was caught mildly off guard at the sight of him — my first since our confusing night together. He expected me to share the information I have for him, but didn’t offer much by way of argument when I declined to have that conversation via call. He’s provided me with a way to reach him directly. I have not decided if I will take advantage of the access I’ve been granted.

Ari has expressed her desire to see Mason, who has invited her to a Republic space station I am unfamiliar with. It’s unclear if Shepard is also there and available — he hasn’t communicated as much with me, in any case. We will take several days to regroup and make a new plan, perhaps take on a different job given our mission being put on hold.

:: SIGN OFF // CAPTAIN VULTALONURUODO; CAPTAIN TALON OF THE JACKDAW


CAPTAIN'S LOG // REPUBLIC SPACE STATION // CAT AND MOUSE ::

I do not want to be emotional — but I am frustrated. What does Shepard want? Love. Something very human, which I can not provide him. For all of my abilities and strengths, he and Dahlia both find me wanting. The concept is distressing. He assumed I would arrive with Ari, and that I would spend every minute of my time with him — a remarkably shortsighted course of action from someone so intelligent.

Kell is here as well. The Republic is looking again towards Balmorra, and there was a job posting which he accepted. I do not believe his presence is entirely a coincidence, but I was pleased to see him and so it doesn’t truly matter to me whether it was or wasn’t. If Shepard will not be clear about what he would like from me, and Kel is more than willing to be candid — the decision is obvious, as to who I speak with and when.

Still. I had a pleasant evening with Shepard, and won a game which I did not particularly enjoy, but was able to get the hang of without much trouble. He is behaving in a passive aggressive fashion, telling me he understands why I am not spending the night in his quarters while his emotions read clearly as disappointment and confusion. He asks questions he does not want the answer to — about Kell, about what I do when he isn’t with me. Shepard says he is not having sex with anyone else; I do not understand why not, but it is his choice.

Kell and I embarked on an experiment to determine how a Chiss responds to being inebriated. I dislike tequila and many of the other liquors offered to me, but have a passing fondness for whiskey. It did not seem to adversely affect my aim during a shooting competition — Kell’s, though, did suffer considerably. Both before and after I became intoxicated I found the sex to be enjoyable; Kell suggests we try again tonight to truly ascertain the effects of the experiment. It is clearly a ruse to occupy my time, but I find I don’t mind.

It is unclear to me why so many species insist on drinking to excess if a hangover is nearly a foregone conclusion by morning. It felt very much like coming down with an illness — a self inflicted one, which a greasy meal assisted with, but did not cure.

Curiously, Kell was dismissed from his Republic job. It gives him more free time, and he’s agreed to work with the Jackdaw temporarily until he moves onto the next thing. I am hoping it will allow for he and Lori to reach some variety of understanding between them. He says her true name is Juno, and once again claimed surprise that I hadn’t been informed of another detail from my friend’s personal life. She and Ari are not going to be pleased with my decision to allow him to work with us — but he is a capable bounty hunter, and we have need of another battle-ready individual until we can hire someone permanently.

:: SIGN OFF // CAPTAIN VULTALONURUODO; CAPTAIN TALON OF THE JACKDAW

View
a warning voice that comes in the night
Session #11 [5/30/2020]

Dear Niko, 
 
That morning began with SUCH good news. Lori informed us that Darth Zalam would be arriving the next day courtesy of the Emperor-induced zone out during their holocall. It seems he is concerned. 
 
As a result, we had a rather busy day. In one way, Zalam has done us a favor. It gave us the perfect excuse to blow the cavern to pieces once we had conducted our research, and I can now genuinely tell Mason and the Republic that we had done so in order to keep it out of the Sith’s hands. We still made it look like a natural cave-in for appearances sake and to belay suspicion from the Sith, of course. 
 
Talon and I handled the research and copying information, while Lori cleared out Pierce’s room to allow us to securely store some select pieces of wall. Alloy, one of the humans on the crew, handled the demolition perfectly although with a somewhat concerning amount of excitement. 
 
I have a scan of the pictograph myth as well. The primary takeaway is that the leader of the Taal had a vision of a powerful being who would be a destroyer of worlds. The Shaman-King taught his people how to fight, grow their civilization, use the Force… and they anticipated that the figure in his vision would one day appear. 
 
As far as the star maps, I have a couple of versions. An accurate version, which I have carefully encrypted and stored away. And then from that, I made another version with the Zakuul section completely blank. After our meeting with the Emperor, we will decide what to do. For Talon, I obscured the Chiss planets as best I could – left some out, adjusted the location on a few others. And then in a couple other random sections of the map, I did the same with other areas – so that should it ever be found out that the map is not accurate in some regards, it won’t stand out. No one will suspect that we altered the map in order to hide anything, it will simply be assumed that the Taal did not have everything exactly correct. 
 
Zalam arrived the next day, as expected. He delivered a gift to Talon, which I would later learn was from Darth Zil. He and Lori then retired to his quarters on the Interceptor, leaving me with the other Sith who had showed up on this ship – Darth Xon. 
 
After our single night together and then complete lack of any further interaction despite my own prompting, I had written things off and so was polite but distant. It seemed this didn’t please her, as she offered an apology and refused to accept when I informed her it was unnecessary. I had intended to simply return to the Jackdaw to await Lori’s return when Xon asked permission from Talon to board the Jackdaw, claiming to be curious and wanting a look around. Our dear captain granted it, and then vanished to go play in the snow (or so I assumed at the time). 
 
Rather than let Xon wander our ship unescorted, I was thus obligated to follow along and let her see the Engineer Bay, where she would not stop touching things. After she nearly activated the hyperdrive, I reached out to physically stop her and was surprised when her fingers ended up entwined in mine. We had a meal in the dining room before she insisted on seeing my quarters. It was all so very frustrating, Niko – if I didn’t lead the way, she would begin wandering in random directions, addressing and frightening the crew, knocking on random doors. 
 
Once we were alone in the room, Xon insisted she truly did regret her lack of communication, swearing that she had been on a vital and dangerous mission of her own at the time I had sent my message. There was talk of how she cannot always answer but wishes I would send her messages anyways, and that if I ever really needed her then she’d be there. I am skeptical, but I think that being hasty in dismissing her would be a disservice. I can give her a little bit more of a chance, I suppose – my initial reasons for considering her a potentially useful ally still stand. 
 
We spoke more this time than we did previously, so I have a little more insight into her character. She wanted to know what had gotten under my skin and was bothering me beneath the surface – perceptive. I couldn’t give an honest answer, which was aggravating on its own, but Xon seemed to catch on that I wouldn’t speak plainly and turned it into a bit of a game. Talk about it without talking about it. I informed her that we were dealing with a bully, and she shared that she hates bullies herself and it is the reason why she’s fought so hard for what she has. Interesting, I think. Her position as a Sith still puts her in a position of suspicion, but if she opens up more then perhaps I can build us some common ground and convince her to help me in some of our bullying problems…
 
At any rate, she spent the night. The next morning, I escorted her back to the Interceptor as Zalam was walking Lori back to our ship. Also standing there? Kel, with his arm around Talon. 
 
Wonderful. 
 
At least he left shortly after the Sith Interceptor. 
 
Talon, Lori, and myself had a bit of planning during a session of Girl Talk. In regards to Zakuul – nothing has changed. I did put some precautions into place, though. If the Emperor decides to kill or imprison us, then he isn’t going to like the end result – I have a message set to go out to a myriad of different recipients should we not return. Detailing his coordinates, the legends, what happened – everything.  We agreed to not use this as a bargaining chip, though – it is not a tactic that I favor. It simply exists and will go off should anything happen to us. If he decides to behave dishonorably, it will be his own undoing. The journey will be long, as a note – two weeks to our destination. I am not looking forward to it, but alas. 
 
Most of what else we discussed falls under the protective shield of Girl Talk – sorry, my dear Niko. I will only say that Lori reported her meeting with Zalam went better than expected. I am unsure how I feel about that, but I shall settle on “positively” for now. 
 
Talon claims that she and Kel are teaching each other languages – based on the articles of his clothing on the un-made bed, I can only conclude that it is easier to learn Cheuhn without your shirt on. Perhaps that is why all who attempt to learn the language of the Chiss do it so poorly. 
 
Talon and Kel are not going to be a one time event, if Talon has anything to say about it (and Lori has granted her blessing, of sorts – perhaps it is more accurate to say she did not deliver a curse). 
 
I am sending a message to Mason, letting him know we have completed the investigation on Hoth but that some additional research is needed before we deliver the report. I told him it would take a few weeks, perhaps a month, but that the lead was a vital one to check out. And, well, should I not return by then… he is one of the recipients of my dead man’s switch, so I will have fulfilled my end of the deal. I hope it doesn’t come to that, though. If it does, I won’t be able to collect payment, after all. 
 
Wish me luck, dear Niko. I fear that I desperately need it. 
 
All my love, 
Ari 
 

View
Never Prosper
5/16/20 session

Dear Niko, 

What is it, my dear Niko, that has been sending the message to others that somehow I will tolerate bullying of my person without quibble? 

A meeting, in the medium of a shared vision of sorts, where Talon and Lori and myself were once again summarily ordered to do something under dire threat to our home planets and our families. It is the third time in recent memory that this has happened. Well, I have been summoned and must answer. I do not expect to be impressed or surprised, given the prior two encounters. 

Also, I am beginning to wonder why I bother to keep my identity a secret. This is the third time that it was outright stated by individuals who shouldn't even have bothered themselves with looking at me deeply that they knew who I am. And that's only the three who confirmed as much to my face – who knows how many others solved what was supposed to be secret. Why bother looking, and how do they know? If I can't figure it out, I might as well start using my full name and getting us better pay because it's becoming obvious this ruse is of absolutely no benefit to myself. 

I am entirely unamused by all of this, Niko. And unless I want an incredibly mysterious and powerful force to descend up you, our house, and our entire planet, I cannot even tell you more – and that GRATES upon me. I may need to seek out a way to regain my own privacy even in teh face of Force users, because I simply won't tolerate this.  

Yours, 

Ari

View
Never What You Think
5-16-20 session

Dear Niko, 

My mind is spinning in so many directions, I hope that you'll pardon me if things seem all over the place. Hoth was… not as expected in more ways than one. 

We met Mason and the others, including their new teammate – pilot Joscar Boswell. He and Lori have quickly become, ahem, closely acquainted. Frank, Dax, and Gabe are all doing well. Mason ended up surprising me, though. After our last encounter I had presumed that things were pleasant if superficial. Imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered that he keeps a journal of personal musings – and that I'm in it. He read some of the entries to me, but would skip over certain pages – and I realized they were the ones that would have landed after we had spent time together, or he had seen me on holo. So he's sharing some deep personal thoughts with me, and I know that he's had multiple 3-4 page long musings in regards to me specifically. 

He's also sentimental, although that part was not so surprising. He keeps many photos in his room, I noticed. We chatted some about his family – his father is a tailor and his mother is a public official. I did some digging afterwards and found that she is Sasha Garudo, an ambassador to the Senate. Not belonging to any noble houses, although she often seems to vote along House Organa lines. Expected, given the politics displayed by her son. 

Lori and Talon were involved in a two day long squabble of some sort. Spatting in hallways, avoiding each other, tangible tensions. After the Republic Cruiser had left, I took the first opportunity to invite them both to my room for "Girl Talk" – and then after I locked us in, asked what in the galaxy was going on. I am afraid I can't share the details with you, dear Niko (Girl Talk rules, after all), but everything was able to get sorted out and I think all three of us are now closer. And I can now say that under her helmet, Lori is as beautiful as her mother – and I was right, she's younger than we presumed her to be. Mmm, what is lacking in years is made up for in experience – but as I had noted before, it does explain certain personal quirks. 

On the third unexpected thing, Talon and Shepard stumbled across some unusual old ruins. A dwelling belonging to one of the primitive native creatures of this planet – including detailed star charts that include things not on other maps, and a staff with a kybor crystal on it. All of that despite the fact that this planet's primitive inhabitants were supposedly not exceptionally Force sensitive. 

Talon requested assistance – apparently she needs some of those "unknown" regions of space obscured as far as the Republic is concerned. I suggested we offer our services for hire, to explore and study what has been discovered. The Cruiser can't remain on Hoth for much longer, after all – and we're exceptionally good at this sort of thing due to Talon's particular scholarship and my own skill with maps, plus Lori's ability to defend us (oh, there's already been TWO incidents involving the giant furred monsters that live here… wampas, they are so charmingly called). We did so, I had a very delightful negotiation session with Mason, and now the Cruiser is on its way to its next official business while we remain on this icy planet to do our exploration and research. 

The other unknown region of space on the map (not the part which Talon wants protected)? A pair of stars, located in a certain region of the galaxy, which brought to mind the legends of Zakuul and the prophecy of the twins. Absolutely fascinating – those legends are so vague as basically be myth, and no one has ever been able to find the actual planet of Zakuul. I think we have – and that worries me a little, dear Niko. Other rumors related to those myths, of an unknown powerful force, combined with with Talon learned earlier of the emperor. I suspect we'll be informing others higher up in the food chain than ourselves about this very quickly…

Take care, Niko, and please give my love to everyone else. 

Sincerely, 

Ari

View
Ari & Mason Messages: a word of caution
during session 9

 

View
Ari & Mason Messages: wishes and confusion
between sessions 8 and 9

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.