Arrival at Nova Terras
The PCs are a team of Alliance Intel/SpecForce agents (troubleshooters) on their way to a remote Republic world of Nova Terras on the outer rim—one recently plagued with pirate attacks and several acts of what could be sabotage. The party begins onboard their ship/shuttle, approaching the planet.
As soon as they emerge from hyperspace, they pick up signs of a battle going on between a local fighter patrol and what appear to be pirate fighters. The players assist (if they wish) and drive off the pirates—much to the chagrin of the proud flight commander in charge of the local fighter forces (LtCommander Danton)—who felt he had the situation under control (despite the somewhat sluggish behavior of his pilots).
Upon landing, the party is confronted by Danton (who chews them out). But in the midst of that, one of his pilots (Lt. Regis Soroyan) collapses, obviously ill. As he is rushed off to the infirmary, the planetary governor, Huer, arrives, along with his female chief of intelligence—Director Deering. They chastise Danton, then take the party to a conference room in the Government building. There Governor Huer explains that a sickness has broken out all over the planet in the past few days—though it has hit particularly hard in the planetary defense force (including Fighter operations). The local medical director, Dr. Mallory, has been working on a cure—and announces in the meeting that he has found the source—processed food coming from the planet Vistula (a nearby neutral planet with good relations to the Republic). Mallory leads the team back to his lab to further discuss his findings. When they arrive, however, they find the place in shambles, most of his assistants dead—and one missing.
A robed man delivers a particularly viscious and fanatical speech to a cavern full of robed worshippers. He tells them how soon they will receive everything they have suffered for all these years. How soon the world will be theirs—and then the stars themselves! The people chant "Kaleel" his name. He then calls for them to give up any 'unbelievers' in their midst—so that they might be purified. A woman in the crowd shouts out that her husband spoke against Kaleel. The man is seized and taken forward. There, Kaleel reaches his hand out towards the man, struggling and held by his guards. When he touches the man's head, he screams and writhes in pain, then slumps down, dead. The people chant more, in a frenzy, as Kaleel departs.
Once away from the throngs, Kaleel is joined by a group of people—including a grizzled man in a military uniform. "Report, General Galen." Kaleel orders. Galen does so, informing him of the state of affairs with Nova Terras' defense forces. "And agent Tallah has reported—their research efforts have been set back by at least a week". Kaleel is pleased, but points out that the New Republic may still rally behind their governor. Galen smiles evilly and assures him. "That won't be a concern."
Cutaway: Nova Terras
As the pc's escort the governor and his entourage through the government park—back to his headquarters—A shadowy figure in the bushes readies an odd, boomerang-shaped weapon, pouring a vial of hissing, poisonous fluid onto its blade-like edge.
The PCs must prevent the death of the governor as the assassin strikes. If hard pressed, the assassin flees. If captured, he commits suicide. Markings on his body, however, are reminiscent of those found among the desert people of Vistula.
As Dr. Mallory gets to work trying to put his research back together again, Governor Huer asks the party to assist Director Deering in investigating this crime. The plan is to take the young pilot, Regis Soroyan, back to Vistula—as he is actually the son of that planetary ruler, here as part of a military exchange program. They are to serve as his honor guard while the young man goes home to recuperate. Under this guise, it is hoped they will not offend the Ruler of Visula—and will be able to quietly investigate the goings on there. As part of their gear, they will all be assigned micro-locators and other spy gear. Director Deering will accompany them, as will LtCommander Danton and one of his pilots (Lt. Fields)—the latter two flying escort in their fighters.
Arrival on Vistula
The party, along with Deering, Dalton, Fields and young Regis Soroyan, arrive on Vistula without incident. There, Sultan Soroyan hosts a lavish reception feast, complete with entertainment—dancers, jugglers, musicians and the like. The Sultan is grateful they have brought Regis back to recuperate. He is curious about this illness, however—and Nova Terras' inability to cure it (in fact, he is somewhat insulting in his insinuations). The governor's aide, Jalufa, tries to smooth things over—and urges them to eat up. If the players are hesitant to eat, the governor assures them that it is fine, imported food (the local fare is too plain for his tastes). Observant players may notice that there are very few droids on the planet. Even if they don't, the Sultan will brag about how they don't need such things—that the Desert People do just nicely as servants—and much more pleasing to look at, too (at this, he gestures to some of the serving girls). He goes on to blather that he purchases these people quite cheaply from one of their own—a nomad 'entrepreneur' named Kaleel. Regis, Soroyan's son, is present at the dinner, for the sake of decorum, but abstains from eating, due to his condition. He speaks out against his father and slavery—but unless backed by a PC, he will back down. Any PCs who rail against slavery at this point are met with confusion from the Sultan—as things have always been like this. During the dinner, one of the slave girls, Ryma, accidently spills some wine on one of the PCs (preferably a male). The Sultan is infuriated, and sends her off, even as she tries to clean up the mess. The PC in question finds that the slave girl has slipped him/her a message, however—to beware of Jalufa.
Cutaway: Kaleel's Desert Retreat
A woman in Nova Terras uniform meets with Kaleel. The two embrace intimately. "Tallah. It is good you are back.. and successful." She is somewhat dismayed at this point. "But not completely, my lord...Mallory's data was destroyed...but our assassin failed to kill Governor Huer!" Kaleel puts it all off, turning to pet a small, but vicious looking lizard pet, perched on a nearby stand. "A minor inconvenience...as is the arrival of his agents here on Vistula." "But...here! They could-" Tallah interjects. She is cut off. "Do not worry yourself...the fool Soroyan knows nothing. And Jalufa will ensure these agents learn nothing as well..." "But if they do, my lord..." "If they do..." Kaleel repeats menacingly. Suddenly, his pet writhes in pain, then curls up and drops to the floor, dead.
After the feast, the players are each taken to lavish private chambers within the Sultan's palace. There, a slave waits for each, willing to tend to any need. (Of course 'any' depends on what rating your campaign has...). One of the PCs (the one that the slave girl Ryma had warned earlier) finds that his slave is none other than Ryma. She sets some music playing to obscure her quiet but intense talk with the player: warning him that Kaleel is behind all the turmoil lately—he rules her people with an Iron fist and she suspects he plans to do away with the Sultan and take the entire planet. She is one of a few of her people working against Kaleel. Her brother was as well, but he disappeared while investigating a food processor plant #347. She suggests that this place may have clues to the plan. She also says that Kaleel isn't just a man, he's a 'sorceror' who can win over the wills of most men and even kill using his mysterious powers.
It is hoped that the players have the gumption to sneak out and investigate the processing plant. If not, Director Deering suggests they do so. She intends to do a bit poking around at the palace itself, leaving it up to the players to sneak out. Thankfully, Ryma knows a little used way out through the gardens. She bids the PCs good luck, then returns to her duties.
Processing Plant #347
The PCs have to sneak into the processing plant, past guards and workers. Eventually, they discover something in the packing plant—an unknown substance is being laced into the shipping containers themselves. An isolated sample of this may help Dr. Mallory find a cure more quickly. At some point, a fight and/or chase is likely to break out as the character's escape with (or without) their findings.
Cutaway: Back at the Sultan's Palace
Director Deering is poking around the palace when she comes upon Ryma being interrogated by Jalufa—who demands to know what she told the offworlders. She protests doing anything wrong at all. Jalufa evilly tells her that "Kaleel will make you talk". Deering moves in to help the girl as the men try to take her away, but she is overwhelmed and taken prisoner herself. As the two of them are dragged off, Deering quietly activates her homing device.
The PCs return to the palace shortly after Deering's abduction. In fact, their homing/distress signal goes off just as they get there. LtCommander Danton arrives, confused at Deering's disappearance, but raring to go rescue her. If the PCs tell him of their discovery at the plant, he will want to send the sample poison back to Nova Terras with his wingman, Lt. Fields. He will then want to go after Deering. Again, it is hoped the players will be proactive in these decisions, rather than waiting for the NPC to guide them.
If the players come forward with their information to the Sultan, he is confused and angry, and refuses to believe them. But he will likewise not hinder them in their efforts.
Following the homing beacon, the players take their ship off into the wilderness in pursuit of Deering and her abductors.
Cutaway: Kaleel's Command Center
Kaleel and his General Galen discuss the arrival of their prisoners—Deering and Ryma, and notice that there is an unidentified craft coming in. "The rest of Deering's people." Galen announces. "You know what to do, General." Kaleel replies. With that, the general activates a sophisticated defense grid, which employs planetary shields and a series of ion batteries."
The Player's ship comes under sudden assault. At worst, they'll be shot down in the desert. At best, they'll be forced to land to avoid the defenses (I'd prefer this, since I HATE forcing the players to always crash their damn ship). Either way, they'll have to spend a little time trudging through the desert to get to Kaleel's mountain fortress (where the homing device tells them that Deering is).
Cutaway: Kaleel's Fortress
Deering and Ryma arrive at the fortress and are escorted to Kaleel—only Deering manages to escape (with some help from Ryma). As Kaleel's men search for the rogue Agent, he confronts Ryma in his command center. She is fearless of him, despite his menacing her with his 'touch of death'. This angers Kaleel. He says she isn't worthy of dying that way, and so has her taken off to the 'pit' to die. Still angry, he sends Tallah and Jalufa off to recapture Deering.
The party, plus Danton, trek through the desert to Kaleel's fortress. They are attacked by vicious desert predators (Humanoid, ghoul-like creatures) and have to fight them off. They finally near the fortress and see a series of huge cavern entrances—each serving as a hangar for hundreds of fighter and attack craft and thousands of soldiers. Enough to overwhelm the weakened forces of Nova Terras. Danton volunteers to go steal one of these craft and escape—to bring word to Governor Huer that an attack seems imminent—and that they need to pre-empt it if at all possible. Again, hopefully the players will come up with some kind of plan like this themselves, but if not, Danton will make his suggestions.
Into the Fortress
The party infiltrates the fortress, hoping to find Deering and/or Jaleel. After some sneaking, provided they follow their homing device, they'll find Deering—or.. not really. It is actually Tallah, who has recaptured Deering and was using her homing device to lure the PCs in. The PCs can either be captured or fight their way out.
Cutaway: Danton's Escape
Whatever the result of the battle, Danton is able to use the diversion to steal a ship and flee. Galen activates the defenses, but too late to capture the ship. Kaleel, angered, orders the mobilization of all his forces. The invasion begins now!
If the party is captured, they are taken to Kaleel, where (under heavy guard) he gloats about the invasion to come, and the cleverness of his attack. He introduces his general—an ex Imperial mastermind who will direct his fanatical troops in battle. After conversing with the players for a time, he will threaten them with his death touch—but will back off if they seem unafraid. In any case, he won't take a chance with it and sends them off to the "Pit" to die, too.
If the party is not captured, they still have to try and find Deering, as well as Kaleel and his command center. They might also decide to split up and sabotage the attack force. In any case, try to work it so they stumble upon "The Pit". Perhaps some of the guards are laughing about the prisoners being taken there to die...
Cutaway: Nova Terras
Danton arrives to scrape up an attack force from any able-bodied pilot. Unfortunately, most are still down with the illness and unable to fly. Danton takes whatever he can get—young recruits, old reserves—and launches to return to Vistula.
The PCs will approach this area either as prisoners, looking to break out or as free-agents, looking to break out the prisoners. The Pit itself is a huge, jagged chamber filled with hissing steam geysers and foul hot-springs—a volcanically active area deep beneath the fortress. Deering and Ryma can be found here, the latter suffering from heat exhaustion, the former doing her best to hold off the local predators (see below) with a club-like rock. As prisoners, the only way out may be to climb some of the treacherous walls (climbing and jumping checks, and maybe some acrobatics or force skills) and see if any of the vents lead out (one will, of course, leading to a deserted hall in the base). This will be opposed, of course, by nasty, steam-breathing worm-like critters that live in the area. If the PCs are trying to break in from the outside, they have to overcome a squad of Kaleel's guards (and if they're having a bit too easy of a time, have them face one of the above-mentioned steam worms). In any case, it is hoped the PCs and NPCs will escape.
Cutaway: Holy War
Kaleel addresses his soldiers with an uplifting speech—telling them that the day of judgement is here. The promised land is within their grasp. He sends the warriors off to man their ships, turning to Galen to lead the battle. The General assures him victory.
Once free of the Pit, Ryma splits up with the party, saying that she must rouse those people who secretly oppose Kaleel—it is now or never for them. The rest of the party has a choice to make, to go after Kaleel or to go after Galen. The latter option can be brought to them by having them see Galen's ship lift off or hear broadcast in the base about "all ships synch with general's tactical system now". It is possible the party will split up to go after BOTH Kaleel and Galen. More power to them if they do.
Cutaway: Space Battle
Danton's forces arrive in Vistula just in time to see Galen's armada lifting off. They have no choice but to engage now—hoping they can at least slow him down to give Nova Terras more time. Scene fades out as the battle is joined.
Any PCs who decided to go after Galen can find an 'extra' fighter craft lying around. Or perhaps even go back to their own ship in the desert (if it is still there). Their mission in the space battle will be to take out Galen to throw off the enemy fleet's command and control. If t hey don't realize this, then they're going to have a difficult time of it, since they will be greatly outnumbered.
Any PCs who decided to go after Kaleel find a difficult fight to his command center, but are soon aided by Ryma and her rebels. If none of the party went after Galen, then make sure to do another cutaway of the Nova Terrasian ships being torn apart in battle.
Eventually, it is hoped that either the Ground or Space attack will be successful. At this point, do a Cutaway to Kaleel
Cutaway: Kaleel's Command Center
Now visibly nervous, the religious leader barks orders to his people—to ready his escape shuttle. One who questions his sudden lack of faith is slain by his touch. Kaleel and any of his remaining Lieutenants (Tallah or Jalufa) try to escape.
If there are players on the ground, they can lead Ryma and her rebels to intercept Kaleel. If not, do a cutaway to Ryma and her people doing just that. In either case, Kaleel will threaten them with his touch of Death, but Ryma isn't afraid. As it turns out, Kaleel has only rudimentary Force powers, any who are strongwilled can easily shrug off his powers. After a brief struggle with his guards and lieutenants, Keleel is taken by Ryma and her people (unless slain by the PCs) and the day is won.
The players are hailed as heroes for their efforts. The Sultan of Vistula steps down and turns power over to his son, who is more wise than he ever was. Regis promises to free Ryma's people and join the republic. Oh, and of course, Dr. Mallory comes up with a cure for the sickness.
Not a bad little adventure, eh? Oh sure, it needs tweaking and planning (I like to do a lot of 'what ifs' when I outline an adventure, to try and plan for an tangents players might think of). I'm sure most hard-core sci-fi fans have figured it out already, but this is actually the plotline of an old Buck Rogers two-part episode "Planet of the Slave Girls". Just goes to show you that interesting ideas can come from very odd (and hokey) sources.