[Ed. Note. This passage is part one of two of exposition to show what Vek-Tor and Nimble were doing during previous adventures. The events below take place concurrently with Return Engagement. I’ve used a bit of artistic license since the PCs didn’t actually role play this out.]
Vek-Tor was sleeping uncomfortably on his ship located in the mountains of the planet Derilyn. The day before, he had encountered the Emperor’s Hand (apparently an agent answering to the Emperor only) and defeated her in combat. They both were investigating the ruins of a Sith Temple and the secrets it held. The fact that the Emperor was interested in this temple worried Vek-Tor and he rest uneasily.
Vek-Tor’s room on the ship offered little comfort. The small cot was uncomfortable, the sink leaked, and the others insisted on keeping the temperature at a far too cool of a temperature to save energy (more likely for their comfort). During a fitful period of tossing, turning and adjusting his breathing mask, a soft voice called out to Vek-Tor. Instinctively, Vek-Tor reached out with the Force and felt the presence of another force user. A now alert Vek-Tor jumped to his feet and began searching for the voice. Silently a ghostly figured appeared in front of him.
“Greeting, Vek-Tor”, the ghost said. “I’ve been watching you for some time now. It’s time for us to talk about how we can help each other.” The ghost was an older human male. He seemed short for a human with a balding head and a close cropped beard. He wore the robes of a jedi.
“Who are you?” Vek-Tor replied warily. “And why should I trust you?” Vek-Tor shifted closer to his door in preparation for calling for help. The ghost raised his hands to seem non-violent.
“My name is Malthos. I was born on this planet many years ago. I joined the jedi to leave this planet so I wouldn’t die here. Ironically, I returned to do just that in a battle between the jedi and the sith.”
But which side were you on, Vek-Tor thought. Skeptical but intrigued Vek-Tor decided to hear the ghost out. “You said something about helping me?” Vek-Tor could see Malthos smile like a fisherman seeing his line being tugged by a fish.
“I come to give you knowledge of the temple you are exploring. The first thing you should know is that there is a powerful jedi controlling the temple’s defenses,” Malthos explained. “He is guided by the spirit of an ancient Sith Lord, Darth Rageus, that I battled long ago. Before you can defeat the jedi, you must sever their spiritual connection. I can show you how.”
“What’s in it for you?” Vek-Tor had grown cynical since the rise of the Empire. This sounded too good to be true.
“I battled Rageus to the death and lo e’en after. I have continued to strive against him until today. I want you to defeat Rageus and his personal puppet for my own selfish reasons. And because those two would bring a reign of darkness and violence to the Elrood Sector when it needs it the least.”
“Perhaps you haven’t noticed the current reign of darkness and violence currently occupying this sector?” Vek-Tor replied sarcastically. “I doubt a lone jedi and a pet ghost offer any threat to the Emperor.
“There are many secrets of this sector that have been lost to time. Things that I and Rageus remember. I assure you, the knowledge we have will pose a threat to the Empire’s rule of the Elrood Sector. The only question is, who will replace the Empire if successful? Would you swap the rule of one Sith Lord for another?” Malthos leaned close and whispered his next words. “Or would you want to truly liberate these people and lift the boot of oppression from their collective necks like I wish to do. I offer you a hard journey with danger, but also the promise of freedom at journey’s end.”
“What do you want me to do?” Vek-Tor asked cautiously.
Another cryptic smile crossed the ghostly face. “As I said, you must sever the connection between Rageus and his apprentice. Rageus created a force technique to connect his ghost to a living host. The host must be willing, but Rageus offers the host his powers at the small cost of some of the host’s free will. It’s not quite possession, but it’s close.”
A befuddled Vek-Tor asks, “How do I sever this connection?”
“A ghost needs his secrets,” Malthos replied cagily. “Meet me at the camp of the sith you killed and I will direct you further. You must come alone. Only a jedi may tread the paths I will guide you.” With that, the ghost faded into the shadows.
Vek-Tor sat back on his cot to contemplate the encounter. He replayed the conversation back in his head and sat shivering in the damn cold. Outside it was still hours before dawn. It would be even colder in these accursed mountains. Vek-Tor draped himself in his all weather cloak for the slight warmth it gave. The spot the ghost had chosen was not far from the ship.
Vek-Tor could meet the ghost there and hear him further. If he didn’t like what he heard, he could turn back there. Still, why not exlain further now and why must he go alone? Vek-Tor reached out with the force to detect any Force users. He could see the temple’s factories working and droids milling about. No life forms or Force users to be felt. The temple was definitely being controlled by some hidden master.
Vek-Tor debated awakening his companions to tell them about the visit, but decided against it. They would need their rest for the fight or fights tomorrow. Best to meet the ghost and then wake them if the new information warranted it. Still, it seems like a trap, thought Vek-Tor.
Vek-Tor quietly left his room and searched for the only thing still moving on the ship. “CP”, he called to the droid when he found CP-33 in the engine room.
“Don’t shoot!” the droid cried out. “I’m worth more intact!”
“Quiet CP!” Vek-Tor hissed. “I’m going out for a bit. I’ll be back before dawn if anyone asks. If not, forget we had this conversation.”
“Oh I see. You get to go out on a date, while I’m stuck babysitting the little ones. Typical!”
“Little ones? The labor droids? Why do you have to baby sit them?”
“Isn’t it obvious sir?” the exasperated protocol droid explained. “They are incredibly stupid and programmed to find work when there is none. If I don’t keep finding work for them, they’ll do something inconvenient. Like disassembling and reassembling the hyperdrive.”
“Why hasn’t Keela reprogrammed them yet?” Vek-Tor asked. “Never mind, I don’t care. Just do as I say.” Vek-Tor turned to leave.
“Not as you do?” retorted CP-33 as the jedi left. The droid shook his head and went back to measuring dust layers to determine where the labor droids should clean.
“Hey CP?” a soft low voice said behind him. CP-33 jumped again but did not cry out. He had learned that his masters tended to be herd animals. Find one, and the others are soon to follow.
“Yes mistress Nimble?” CP-33 asked the low voice. Most can’t tell the difference between male and female Duros. Fortunately CP was designed to do just that (among about 65535 more things).
“Where’s Vek-Tor going?” Nimble asked. “He seemed quite driven and didn’t notice me. He is usually quite perceptive.”
“He didn’t say mistress.” CP-33 said while returning to his tasks. “Only that he would be back before dawn.”
“Oh,” Nimble said and turned to return to bed.
“And that I shouldn’t tell anyone unless asked.”
“Huh? Why would he do that?” Intrigued, Nimble collected her blaster and survival pack and determined to follow the jedi. Tailing a jedi without them knowing it was hard, but not impossible. The trick was to preoccupy their mind with something else. It looks like that was already the case with Vek-Tor.
The mysterious jedi liked to keep things to himself and had real trust issues. Why he couldn’t trust his friends on the ship, Nimble didn’t know. Too much knowledge sure made people secretive. Regardless, Vek-Tor would need help. He got into way too much trouble to be left on his own. Like every typical male in the galaxy, he was constitutionally incapable of asking for help.
Stepping out of this ship and into the night, Nimble could see Vek-Tor’s glow rod in the distance. Nimble waited for him to crest a hill before lighting her own glow rod and followed him.