The Thing Under the Sand

Datalog Entry: Bymm.per.log.EXE/3422-34

Encrypted: BRA0-0MEX; 87:40

Six or so hours of stifling heat and howling winds go by before the storm dies down and we can extract ourselves from The Runaway. Well, we could extract ourselves if we weren’t buried under several tons of sand at the bottom of a sand dune as the twin suns begin to hit their zenith. And this day started out so promising, too.

Using the repulsors and shields in tandem, we managed to carefully dig ourselves out. However, we’re effectively grounded as the fine sand has clogged the engine intake filters. We could fly about three minuets before the engine overheats and seizes up – and then where would we be? Clearing the intakes will take at least five hours of work, plus we still need to fix the hatch. That’s not counting all the damage from the hard landing and the fighters inflicted. Plus all these spare parts we need? Not very accessible in the dune sea.

In short, she’s been in worse shape, but it will still take some work to get The Runaway ship-shape again.

While we’re working on getting the ship functional again, a sandcrawler passes by in the distance and veers our way, jawas out looking for scrap uncovered by the storm. Not before long, the sandcrawler rolls to a stop and close to fifty jawas pour out, setting to work helping, digging the Runaway out of the sand, removing damaged bits or scooping up bits of wrecked Z-95.

Not that we don’t appreciate the help, I better put a stop to it before they get it into their heads that – oh, wait, too late. Clan Leader Keelik asserts that he has salvaged this ship, and would we like to purchase it from him? While I have to admire the bravado, stealing a ship while we were on it, Mahitha straightens out Keelik in pretty short order.

And that’s when a blaster bolt sizzles past.

My readings of the Encyclopedia Galactica allowed me to indentify these new individuals shooting at us as sandpeople, indigenous natives who apparently don’t like outsiders like us.

Surrounding us from three sides, the sandpeople have our backs up against the dune that is the runaway. The jawas retreat quickly into their crawler, Shadya and Mahitha scramble for cover along the underside of the ship while Del reaches the top hatch. Me? wide open and exposed, I join the jawas inside their sandcrawler – the closest cover to where I was when the sandpeople attacked. A solid plan until the jawas decide to get out of there, sandcrawler and all, me along with them!

It was a near thing, the battle – again, Shadya seemed to get the worst of it – but we were victorious. The jawas came back (for the salvage from the sandpeople) and we found one lone survivor amongst the debris. He’s badly wounded, but still barely hanging on and trying to crawl away to safety when we find him. He tries to attack us, but seeing that he can barely hold a gaffi stick let alone swing it, the threat was pretty hollow.

While Del treats his wounds the best she can, we get the Sandpeople’s story from him the best we can via Keelik’s translator droid. “I’m not very good at the indigenous language, but apparently they’re out of water, there’s a ship blocking his cave, his people are trapped and the Sandpeople can’t get close because of large sand.”. .

Large sand?

Heading back to Mos Eisley is right out of the question, what with the thugs and bounty hunters and all. We obviously cant leave with my ship in this state, and there’s not a lot of other options on Tatooine. However, we’ve pieced together what the hell is going on – mostly by threatening to feed Huurlek to the sandpeople.

The Musk was intended for Jarvek Soto, a minor crime boss who seeks to position himself better in the community by engaging in a gang with Jabba the Hutt. That musk is the latest weapon in that war – or at least it would have been until Huurlek felt that the deal was too hot to handle and double crossed Soto in an effort to get out from the middle of a gangland shootout. Soto was intending to use the Musk against Jabba, offering it as a gift and then releasing a large and ferocious Sowhime Death Worm who would be driven mad by the musk and attack Jabba’s palace and assassinate the hutt.

I’m an expert at political intrigue and assassination and I completely concur. It was indeed a pretty lousy plan.

Well, if Soto was keen to use it against Jabba, perhaps we could offer it to the Hutt and make a couple of credits out of it – at least enough to repair the ship and get out of here before more bounty killers show up. While I dislike the idea of getting voluntarily involved with someone who will blatantly exploit us, I don’t see many other alternatives. So we hire the jawas to tow the ship with their sandcrawler within a few miles of Jabba’s palace.

Selling the Musk was surprisingly easy. We never actually dealt with the Hutt himself – no, we’re far too small time for his notice – but with a lieutenant of his, a pale t’wlek of some sorts. We didn’t get close to market value for the merchandise, but since we were barging from a weak position, I’ll take what I can get. Besides it was enough to get the ship parts we needed and just a little profit.

Once we got some proper parts, the actual repairs took no time at all. Once we were done, Del insisted on tracking back the vector towards the crashed ship and “big sand”. Some people, when they latch onto a mystery. . . .

Tracking the sandcrawler is easy enough, they’re not very subtle vehicles. We catch up to the jawas just as they reach a rock mesa formation known as Golden Canyon, just on the edge of a dune sea. Gathering up some basic supplies, we start to hike. About two miles up, the jawas start getting excited – around the next corner, we come to new rock fall and a large furrow along one canyon wall with bits of metal and hull scattered everywhere.

The largest section of what was once a mid sized freighter is up against one wall, hull cracked in two and twisted into place. There are lines of rope attached to various points on the ship, with the other end disappearing into the ground – more into a sinkhole than into a man-made pit. There are scraps of meat everywhere – probably bantha, possibly sandperson – obviously what happened here occurred very recently.

While Del explores the wreck, the jawas swarm all over the crash site, gathering up bits of scrap. Well, at least all the way up to the point where there’s a low rumbling sound, a great whoosh of air, an explosion of sand and – suddenly, no jawa – sending everyone else scrambling for the rocks. Apparently the delivery of the Sowhime Death Worm also went slightly wrong, too.

And then Jarvek Soto, tired of waiting for his cargo to arrive, decided to find out where the hell his very expensive Death Worm went to. He and a handful of minions arrive by sand skiff just in time for Mahitha to shoot out the skiff’s repulsors and drop them onto the sand with the Worm. Then Shadya gets the idea of spraying a grenade with the Musk and throwing it out to the Worm. Worm eats Soto, Worm grenade, everyone explodes – problems solved!

The Death Worm and Soto out of the picture, we can get the wreck of the ship away from the cavern opening. Of course the sandpeople inside show their gratitude by shooting at us. And with that, we are officially done with Tatooine for the moment. . . .


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