If you can find the artist, I'll give them credit!
And the universe that we have begun to explore
(For those who aren’t in the know, I have recently started hosting a role playing game entitled Age of Rebellion. It is a Star Wars based RPG that is dedicated to narrative theatrics over combat shenanigans in a galaxy far, far away. The following fan fiction follows the incredibly entertaining "player characters" making their way through this universe)
It wasn't what I expected; this whole "GM thing".
But… the rewards have been pretty great.
The more effort I have put into the universe we Star Wars geeks have created, the better the session's have become. My inexperience as a GM (or what I refer to as a Galaxy Master) has stressed me to an absurd extent, but thankfully the unexpected twists and turns that have been thrown at me by the beings around the tabletop have been provided by a group of good friends, creative role players, and top notch Star Wars fanatics that strive to keep me on my toes at all times. But I've got one up on them, because those unknown inspirations that I call Rebels have led me to write the following novelization, (with more chapters to come!) a novelization of our very own campaign shenanigans! This storyline that the players at my table are playing may be a mix of Fantasy Flight's and my own, but the players have guided this author themselves. Hopefully this retelling of their actions brings a smile to their faces, inspires them to role play with vigor, and sparks an imagination that will fill our collective weekends with nothing but good times.
…cue the intro music…
The light of the stars surrounding the ship suddenly snap out of their uniform formation. The hypnotizing blur that is caused during faster than light travel, smearing the light from countless stars into a uniform crystalline glow with no apparent beginning that stretches out to an infinite end of obscure ambiguity, is something that the crew of this ship is well accustomed to. It’s hard to grow up in a universe where you’ve jumped from planet to planet, system to system, universal region to universal region, without becoming accustomed to the visuals of hyperspace. It’s just something that happens, no matter what species you happen to be.
And this crew would know. Not that any of them truly know each other. At least, not yet. But they know that they are all individually fighting against that same obscure ambiguity. Each being on this stolen Raider-II class corvette know that if they stop for a moment, the Empire will make that obscurity an every day struggle. The Empire will appreciate nothing more than for its inhabitants to feel nothing, to think nothing, to toil away for the benefit of the Sith sitting on his throne at the very tip top of the Empire. The Emperor’s unforgiving right hand, a dark shadow of Sith energy that will move quickly and silently from his place at his master’s side, is ready to enact his master’s fury if anyone thinks or acts against his Emperor’s will. If you’re lost in obscurity, you’re not seeing the truth of the matter at hand. And when your life, your work, and your purpose become ambiguous and lost through the day-to-day toil that is life under Imperial rule? Well, then you might as well just enlist in the Imperial Army. It will take more strength than a luggabeast to break through that cloud of obscure ambiguity.
But this crew is strong.
And yet… the Ithorian in the pilot’s seat is uncomfortable. The cold black of space, the cold grey metal frame of the pilot’s seat, the cold silence behind him; it is all discomforting. Jun’t R’ith has always preferred piloting between the floating cities of Ithor, with the deep blue skies lazily rolling above him and the expansive n’lor and johinuu jungles rolling below. “But any well respecting Ithorian will not stand for the atrocities brought upon the universe by this vile Empire!”, he had exclaimed loudly and dramatically to his family the night he had left the planet of Ithor. He still believes that the Rebellion against the Empire is worth the discomforting lack of fauna, although it is not ideal.
“We are here.” Jun’t calmly informs the rest of the crew, tilting to the right his large “hammerhead" back towards the right, in the direction of the main hold of the Ak’r’ail and speaking in low, dulcet tones from the mouth on the right side of his broad neck. “We are on schedule and on target. We will be entering the atmosphere as close to textbook as I can pilot in order to draw as little attention as possible. Then, once we are close enough to the jungle canopy and underneath the Iziz sensors, I will break towards your target as quickly as she will let me.”
Although Jun’t’s face seems passive to any non-Ithorian beings, he is suddenly emboldened and excited with the prospect of seeing yet another beautiful jungle; of smelling the circle of life and decay that nature brings forth, even if it is through the ship's air recyclers. That, of course, and the incredibly dangerous mission that is now point-blank in front of his new ship’s prow.
“It would have been great if we had been filled in on these details a standard day ago, but I guess that wasn’t up to you, Jun’t.” The Bothan’s words are obviously unsettled, almost growling underneath his brown and grey snout. The slight twitch of his eyes towards the hold behind him indicate to Jun’t that the Bothan is more concerned about the crew behind him than the well being of himself. “How close are you going to get us to Whisper Base?”
“I will get you right to the edge of their sensors, Arkhan.” Jun’t blinks his large, orb shaped eyes, now gleaming with the brilliant light of a million pricks of starlight that can only shine this brightly if you are well outside the atmosphere that clings to an inhabitable planet. “It will be approximately two and a half klicks from the base proper. I will fly in at a generous curve to improve the stability of my ingress route, and I will drop you off right at the pinnacle of that plotted route, and before then taking full advantage of a wide egress route before pulling ourselves up to exit the atmosphere of Onderon.”
Arkhan sighs. Jun’t’s incredibly straight forward description of the ship’s route proves yet again that Jun’t understands the danger at hand and has rehearsed the route well enough to have memorized it. This still doesn’t guarantee results, and Arkhan wishes once more for a generous lead time to the dangerous mission at hand; a lead time that he has not been granted. Arkhan pulls his eyes from Jun’t’s and looks out at the blue green planet quickly approaching the Rebels on the Ak’r’ail’s starboard side. “Alright, Rebels…” he mutters in his head as he spins around towards the assortment of beings behind him.
“Alright, Rebels!” Arkhan shouts above the hum of the Ak’r’ail’s sublight engines. “We’re coming up on the planet of Onderon. Jun’t will bring us down to the surface of the planet casually, but then we’re going to break from that approach and move quickly towards our objective: Whisper Base.” Arkhan pauses for effect, hoping to find a hint of surprise in the fledgling crew’s eyes, somewhere… there, finding a fleeting hint of shock in Tendaar's face, just a moment before the Bith quickly looks away. “This mission is a knee jerk response to green data, or else the Rebellion would have had a better chance to put together a more seasoned group. But each and every one of you has shown the right amount of grit, intelligence, and spirit to earn their trust.” One last pause for a deep breath, breathing the ship’s dry and metallic recycled air through the fur around his nostrils.
“Let’s prove them right.”
“It’s time to begin the decent.” A bright blue flashes from the copilot’s dash, beginning to blink repeatedly behind Arkhan. Turning his head, Arkhan sees Hoontil, the bird-like Fosh co-pilot that had scarcely spoken a word during the entirety of the trip to Onderon, staring steadfastly down the curve of his beak and into the black; seemingly disinterested in the inspiring words Arkhan was delivering. With a slow and deliberate movement, Hoontil brings his clawed hand forward and pulls back on the light silver throttle lever. The crew feels a slight acceleration, even with the ship’s compensators working hard to make it unnoticeable.
“We’ll be shooting at Imps, right?” A smooth, yet intense voice rising from the shadow of the ship’s hold asks. Two deep red eyes pull themselves from the darkness, followed by dark blue skin pulled back over a larger than human skull; a light tan jacket over the torso of the Duros, bespoke with a well equipped bandolier resting across his shoulder. “As long as it’s Imps, I’m okay with however we get there and with whatever base we’re going to take.”
Arkhan’s right ear flicks forward; the lightly colored fur slightly bristling. Turning slowly away from Hoontil’s dry delivery of incredibly important descent information to look over his shoulder, Arkhan’s eyes meet Vendri’s. The Duros was nigh impossible to read, even if you were well adept at Duros body language. Of all the crew Arkhan had brought on board the Ak’r’ail, Vendri was by far and away the one being that Arkhan couldn’t predict. Although… he had also heard stories of the Imperial defector that they were intending to meet ground side that were less than desirable for a covert SpecOps mission.
“It’s an Imperial base, full of Imperial targets.” Arkhan’s lip pulls up slightly in a distinct Bothan grin. “Luck be with us, Rebels.”, Arkhan whispers dramatically…
Jun’t and Hoontil, as though they have been rehearsing the motions, push the controls for the Ak’r’ail forward, bringing the nose of the powerful Imperial designed ship forward and down, arching to starboard at a forty-five degree angle. Simultaneously they edge their asymmetrical heads to the right in perfect unison as they edge the yolks of the ship towards the planet of Onderon…
The Ak’r’ail moves from its straight and forward trajectory to pull into a direct dive towards the Onderon atmosphere. Its durasteel hull stays a cold grey and remains unfazed as the heat rises; not requiring the heat dissipating tiles from spaceships of yore, instead relying upon modern shield tech to keep the ship and its inhabitants safe from the deadly heat of reentry. Onderon greets the crew of the Ak’r’ail…
A loud, wet gulp is heard from the hold as Tendaar does his best to hold back the meal he had decided was a great idea during the jump from Vina to Onderon. “I thought we were supposed to approach the planet casually?!” He asks loudly, already brought to the point of nervous fidgeting.
“This IS casual.” Hoontil calmly mutters back at him, with just enough emphasis to shut Tendaar down. “We haven’t even hit the atmosphere proper yet.”
With a loud and jarring shudder, the crew of the Ak’r’ail shake violently against their restraints. All but Arkhan; who remains standing at the entrance to the ship’s cockpit, left hand gripping a handle affixed to the roof of the short hall leading from the cockpit to the main hold of the ship. Slowly and deliberately Arkhan widens his stance to steady himself as another buffet of atmospheric resistance rocks the ship; the friction of reentry overwhelming the ship’s current shield status.
In order to make yourself look like a basic trade-stop freighter dropping off a few cases of Corellian fire whiskey and Rashallo cigarras to a local Imperial officer, one does not broadcast to the planet’s comm sensors that you have military grade deflection shields. Run them at one third power, have the ship shake and rattle the teeth off of the pilot, but make it safely planet-side without drawing any attention.
It’s worth the rough descent, for sure.
5. Instinctively counting down the seconds before the atmospheric jets are set to ignite after hitting atmo, Arkhan’s eyes tighten; awaiting the ships sudden adjustment from vertical to horizontal…
4. Hoontil stares forward at the sensors in front of him, monitoring the data flowing down like waterfalls across the screens, ready to begin evasive maneuvers if necessary.
3. Tendaar closes both eyes, reminding himself one last time that skipping astrophysics was totally worth it, even if he did have moments like these where he struggles to hold his meals in check.
2. Both mouths at each side of his neck wide, Jun’t pulls deeply from the recycled air in the ship under his control. This was not the first reentry he has performed under the additional stress of secrecy and a possible fatal outcome, but he vows that this will not be his last.
1. A loud, raw, ripping noise sounds from behind the two pilots and Arkhan. Turning quickly and instinctively, the trio of well seasoned Rebels find Vendri the Duros snoring loudly with the back of his dark blue skull resting awkwardly against the head rest behind his crash webbing.
Growling under his breath, Arkhan readies a shout to wake the borderline insubordinate being, forgetting the countdown as it falls to the number zero in Jun’t and Hoontil’s minds. Without hesitation, both pilots pull back and to the left on the ship’s controls in unison, bringing the Ak’r’ail out of its dive toward the Imperial held city of Iziz and out along the jungle canopy of Onderon. Too low against the surface of Onderon to be recognized by the sensors of the base, but requiring the full attention of both pilots, the Ak’r’ail begins its long arc across the jungle towards the drop-off point for the troops currently in its hold.
Without enough time to properly steady himself, Arkhan stumbles slightly, only finding his footing by slamming the outer edges of both combat boot equipped feet against the jam of the cockpit’s blast door, his left fist still tight around the handle above his head. Allowing the growl to become an excited roar, his eyes return to the view out of the ship’s viewport. The rushing foliage underneath the ship is terrifyingly close, bringing forth a surge of adrenaline to the Bothan’s body and causing the shocked roar to turn into an ecstatic yip. “This will be an exciting mission!”, he yells in his head as he quickly turns towards the assortment of beings behind him.
With nary a preamble, Tendaar vomits up the Bith rations that he had assumed he could keep down. With a heavy sigh and a slight shake of his furred head, Arkhan addresses the crew of the Ak’r’ail.
“This will be an exciting mission…”
And there's the intro to these novelizations! To be clear, this introduction is actually of my own creation. The player's shenanigans will play out in further installments. That doesn't mean that the spirit and the soul of the characters themselves didn't shine through in this intro. Even when they don't know it, they're inspiring me.
I mentioned that there are more chapters to come, and that is true, although I'm not sure if I'll have any deadlines or release dates to schedule. I love this idea, and it's been incredibly fulfilling for me, but it's also insanely time consuming. Who would've ever though that writing a book, even a small one, would be so laborious! I'll try to keep things pretty consistent, but please let me play it by ear! Please, and thank you!
In closing, I'd also like to apologize for my silence over the last year and a half. I have essentially become completely waylaid by work transitions and role playing games. The amount of time and writing that I put into them instead of writing for my website, has led to the lack of posts. Well, that and the weight of 2018 was just too much for me to handle any creative endeavors. But if I've been writing RPG stuff, then I figured I should combine the two. Hopefully it's entertaining, to the last.
Random side note: There's also a glimmer of hope for more INTELLIGI news on the horizon. I may not know anymore until the end of the year, but that's the way things go lately. Slower than molasses, and then quicker than the roadrunner. Rinse, repeat, see ya next time.
A shout out on a post like this? It seems… a little forced. But then again, all of these shout outs are forced for me. I'm not very good at expressing these kinds of positive feelings. So, why not? If the intent of this website is supposed to be exhibiting music, showing off photos, and providing myself with my own creative stream of consciousness, then maybe a shout out is well deserved, regardless of the post that preceded it.
I once asked a fellow coworker if he would enjoy an insane last minute trip to Yosemite to climb Half-Dome. That was almost seven years ago.
That coworker then provided me with an introduction to DRALO. (Drunk Halo. YOU DON'T KNOW HOW GOOD IT CAN BE!!!) And then he proceeded that introduction with a pathway into Magic: The Gathering. And then one day he asked if we would like to start a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. And then for my Christmas gift in 2017 he gave me the Age of Rebellion Beginner's Game. That coworker now role plays as Arkhan, the Bothan commander, keeping track of his Rebel team with a well respected gusto and a few Google Docs to keep track of the groups inventory.
We may have grown physically apart with new jobs and new homes, but it's a testament to the good times that we've had together that we continue to make an effort to see each other face-to-face over a tabletop at least two times a month.
Eric has provided me with an endless slew of social activities that I have grown to love and cherish. I've in turn provided him with the opportunity to die on a mountain top above the Yosemite Valley. And… I guess now this shout out.
Here's to the next pre-release, the next dragon, the next beer, the next Imp base takeover.
Here's to Eric!