Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life Imitates Art

Out of respect for the awesome power of the planet we live on, I will take a brief step away from the V-Squad party to share another memory; one that is topical due to a large hurricane looming ever closer as I type these words.

Any trip across Dantooine was always perilous. From the native tribes, to the roaming flesh-eating creatures, any group of adventurers would be wise to travel light and smart.

But even the best prepared units would be powerless against the planet's elements, especially the rainstorms.

Travel may not have been literally impossible, but it was a virtual squad stopper for the sheer awe alone. The rain was thick and loud, reducing visibility to a few meters. It was impressive and - as far as could be told - a unique effect across the known galaxy.

Hurricane Irene is not an imaginary storm like those on Dantooine. So to all of the "squads" in the affected trajectories of this possible historic storm, do take care of yourselves and your families.

May the Force Be With Us All.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Things That Make You Go... BOOM!

The sun was setting over Corellia, but the V-Squad party was just warming up. Killdoran was keeping a close eye on the skies to know exactly when it was time to have the pyrotechnics.

"Everyone, let's go outside for the fireworks show!"

Killdoran had brought in a specialist to light up the Corellian skies. Most of us had never seen a fireworks show. We were looking forward to this. The best vantage point would be on top of the squad's hall, so we took the stairs to the roof.

Even the band members joined us; all eyes were focused on our fireworks specialist who was finding the right location down in the fields below.

Come to think of it, the Deevahs weren't with us. Hopefully our security expert Mileena was also keeping an eye on the kitchens. Our food stores were sparse enough without that hungry quartet hitting it up.

Finally, the show was ready to begin. The fireworks tech had his act together and setup a legion of rockets that must have made the moons nervous.

Yes, that's him in the middle of those sparking and smoking fireworks. He started launching them off to the "oohs" and "ahhs" of the spectators above.

It seems that the hired photographer was just as much in awe of the spectacle as he managed to only snag one picture of a firework erupting, and only the tail-end of it.

But we all remember the event to this day, I'm sure. All the credit goes to Killdoran for finding and hiring what must have been the best entertainers in the galaxy, from the musicians and dancers, to the bartender and pyrotechnics tech.

And if you can believe it, there was still even more to come: a Best Dressed Contest, a special surprise announcement from Vincer, and a finale on the stage that never happened before, and may never have happened since!


Thursday, August 25, 2011

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

The party was in full swing by now. Ice was either broken or covered with Icon Ogel's special concoctions to help along the socializing. Killdoran was keeping an eye on the pyrotechnics specialist, as well as the sky outside to ensure optimum conditions for a fireworks show.

On the main stage, the musical acts were both the Deevahs and the Academy of Dance and Music. The night was shaping up to be an entertaining success.

Mileena had taken up the job of security guard during the festivities, never wavering from her post. She kept a watchful eye on all of the guests from start to finish. You might guess that she sacrificed her own fun to do this task, but knowing Mileena this was exactly how she would have preferred to spend her evening.

Guests continued to file in as the night wore on. Without any notice, Mileena was suddenly away from her post and tapping on the shoulder of a new arrival; a twi'lek dressed in a dark robe and hood.

"We don't want any Imperial trouble."

Mileena's intel revealed that this newcomer was a member of the Empire.

"No trouble. I'm just here to relax and enjoy the party."

Or so the exchange went. Mileena issued a warning to the girl, then kept a wary eye on her for the remainder of the night. Though the twi'lek was an Imperial, she was more the property of the Empire rather then a willing supporter.

Whether it was Mileena's warning or not, the girl caused no trouble. She removed her robe and took to dancing with everyone else.

Thoughts of the war were far from everyone's minds. Tonight, everyone was a celebrant of life and happiness. It was proof that with the right mixture of music and drink, people of all walks of life and loyalty could get together and raise the roof.

Or maybe it was because Mileena was just downright scary in a dress and holding a flamethrower.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Guest Starring...

After a few tense minutes where it seemed we would get very little turnout, some guests started to arrive to V-Squad's party.

Most of these faces were new to us. These were people who heard of a party and decided to come check out the atmosphere, fun, and live entertainment.

We were delighted to make acquaintances with a few neighbors that we didn't know we had. The Daring Brigands operated just north and west of our base. Two of their high-ranking members arrived to make nice and to further expand the Alliance influence on Corellia.

Others continued to trickle in, one-by-one and most a little unsure of what to expect. They were met by the always gregarious Killdoran and then relaxed with the comedic stylings of the Deevahs. Guests mingled, drinks would flow, and the party started to really take off.

The bartender, Icon, had his flippers full. He didn't leave a dry cup in the house and proved to be the best choice for tending the bar. Later, we would learn that he never did it before. It would not be the last time, either.

It looked like V-Squad's party was going to be an enormous hit, with credit to Killdoran for putting it all together, and a slight nod to Cyra for decorating the hall.

Some recognition should be given to Mileena as well. She handled the security, never wavering to take a drink, lower her weapon, or even move very far from the entrance. Little did we know her keen eyes and awareness would be needed.

For you see, everyone who had arrived thus far were all a part of the Rebel Alliance or had remained neutral in the Civil War.

But that... was about to change.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

That's Entertainment!

The hosts for the evening - V-Squad - were decked out in their finest blue hued outfits. The guild hall was decorated and ready. The invitations were sent. The guests were arriving. It was party time.

The "master of ceremonies" Killdoran didn't miss a beat. He hired musical acts that hopefully would not either. Sparing no expense, he brought in two of the biggest acts to be found in the galaxy.

The first was the Academy of Dance and Music, called A.D.A.M. by their adoring fans.

The second act was the absolutely hilarious quartet called the Deevahs, who claimed to be not so distant relatives of Princess Leia. Actually there were five, but one was apparently sick or hungover. We never really knew for certain.

But the "master" didn't stop there. The night would be full of levity and fun thanks to the drinks served by the friendly bartender Icon Ogel, while the nightsky would be full of colorful fireworks from a pyrotechnics expert who arrived - much to our own fears - in full armor.

And to ensure that the whole event would be preserved so I could write about it eight years later, the photographer of Starsider Addy was brought in.

Before we get much further into the party and the guests, let's have a look at the hired entertainment through the eyes of Addy.

Icon arrived early to check out his bar that Cyra built. He was very impressed and was eager to pose in front of it before getting down to the business of stocking it up with the best he could muster.

Icon turned out to be the perfect bartender, quick to serve and offer some wit and humor, or just an ear to hear talk off.

A.D.A.M. was starting to trickle in, and were not yet ready to take the stage until all of their members were present. But not to worry, the Deevahs took to the stage as the perfect opening act.

The Deevahs mixed music and comedy, and a voracious appetite that made Icon more then a little nervous since he didn't stock any of their favorite snackages that they would call for in lieu of tips. Upon learning that that party staff hadn't stocked any of these mysterious snackages, they turned their sights on the tasty-looking Scruffy.

Scruffy survived the experience, and went on to be a star in his own right with the party. Meanwhile, the rest of us weren't sure of our safety when our pyrotechnics guru continued to make repeated trips to Icon's bar.

Finally, all of the Academy of Dance and Music members arrived. The Deevahs took a well-deserved break and let A.D.A.M perform their unique blend of music and moves. While the Deevahs were a musical comedy act, A.D.A.M. was a polished and serious band that took to their craft like masters.

But this was only the beginning of the fun and delight for the party-goers. You've met the entertainment staff, but now it's time to see just how they brought the house down... or maybe blow it up.

Icon! Flag that fireworks fellow!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Party Time!

Killdoran came up with the idea to have a party for V-Squad and open it up to anyone who might want to have a good time.

V-Squad was a relatively small guild and did not actively recruit or advertise. This was a step in unfamiliar territory, but Killdoran took the whole thing under his wing and took off. He advertised on the forums, hired a photographer, a bartender, pyrotechnics engineer, and two musical acts.

Cyra spent the day decorating the guild hall, building a bar from scratch and lighting tiki torches for effect.

Everything was in place. Now all that was needed was... well... Killdoran's final idea.

"I think it would be good if everyone in the squad wore blue."

Blue was somewhat of an unofficial, official color for V-Squad. It was used on our signs, and Vincer thought he looked very fetching in it. Just ask him. So the word went out to the squad: wear something blue. And everyone did. Killdoran took it to the next level and changed his Zabrak face tattoos to blue also. He looked the part of the "Master of Ceremonies".

Cyra looked stunning in an off-the-shoulder gown and evening gloves. Having slaved and decorated all day to make the guild hall party-worthy, she earned a brief rest off on the sidelines as the event started ramping up.

The shocker of the night was that our resident hard-edged hunter, Mileena, arrived in a lovely mult-hued dress... and a flamethrower. She became the security staff and refused to relax for more then a moment.

There were no eye-witnesses to confirm if she visited the bar at any point during the night. Similarly, no one reported any burns, intentional or otherwise.

Prion, however, was a victim to the limited fashions that Wookiees had available to them at the time. He should be remembered as a Shopping Warrior of Renown for finding the closest blue gear he could on such short notice.

I suspect that his wife Serendipity decided to go with muted blues to match. I also suspect that both she and Prion walked straight past Mileena (shown in the background) without recognizing her in such a party get-up!

Vincer let Cyra dress him up, of course. She went with a classic blue cut shirt and belted pants, but he refused to part with his tipless gloves. This was a party afterall, not his funeral!

Nikki and Phantom arrived a little later, but were dressed in the proper attire as well. V-Squad delivered on Killdoran's demands! Nikki went with the blue and white dress, matching makeup and a giant hat for her lekku.

Phantom went for a military casual look, with black boots and gloves and loose tie. He was not much of a party animal, but sat quietly by and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the evening.

Now that you've met the squad and saw them all decked out in their finest blue, let's move on and introduce you to the evening's entertainment... and get this party started!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Always in the Last Place You Lok

A death mark's not an easy thing to live with. Both brilliant and obvious at once, it was a way of saying, head to higher ground or suffer the consequences.

So where does one go when one finds a death mark put upon them? V-Squad answered that question while exploring Nym's Stronghold on the planet Lok.

Lok contained only one very simple Starport and no other means of accelerated travel once you were planetside. Adventurers who had designs on hunting kimogila or thinning out the pirate gangs would set down on Lok to register their clone data, ease their battle fatigue at the cantina, or find the modest medical center within the gates of the stronghold proper.

The Stronghold, for being so remote and unique in the planet, managed to provide all of the necessities for both launching hunts and for receiving the battle-worn survivors at hunt's end. And for that, Nym and his stronghold were beloved by any adventure-seeking folk of the galaxy.

The Stronghold also was the perfect getaway for those denizens of the galaxy who needed to have a... well... perfect getaway.

Tucked away in the back of the Stronghold cantina, V-Squad stumbled upon some old friends: Han Solo and Chewbacca. Both had death marks placed on their heads by the crimelord Jabba the Hutt, and sought refuge under the powerful Nym and his security forces.

Han was a bit shorter then his infamy told. Even Nikki loomed over him. But Han maintained his charm and called us all "kid" at one point or another. Somehow that didn't bother any of us. We had accomplished much as a squad, but nothing when compared to what these two had done.

We lined up for pictures, exchanged a few pleasantries and were delighted to find that though Han and Chewie were in a remote location for the safety of their hides, they were still very much involved in the Alliance to Restore the Republic.

The roguish smuggler gave us missions to carry out, and introduced us to another friend of his, the Nien Numb. The Sullustan was not well known in either the Alliance or the Empire, and probably ran missions and messages for Han and Chewie so they could keep tabs on the war.

There was no sign of the Millennium Falcon anywhere in or around the Stronghold. Perhaps that was becoming too recognizable to be sitting out in the open. But who knows for sure?

Lok was a place to tuck away into safety under the protection of the mighty pirate Nym. Rumors abound that even Princess Leia had a secret base of operations out in the desert.

When the Empire ultimately crumbles, Nym should be remembered as a contributor and hero for his part. Maybe V-Squad would also be remembered for theirs.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Mounting Concerns

Hiking across the planets on foot was not just the preferred way to explore the galaxy, but the only way.

There were a few shuttleports run by the planetary governments, but the wait times and locations were not always conducive to getting one to the desired location.

Until the day cam when certain creatures could be equipped with a saddle and turned into a mount. Master Creature Handlers would be given this ability. The professions very brief day in the twin suns was about to begin!

Vincer had a few pets that would qualify for mounting. One was Cu, a shortened version of his species called Cu-pa.

And the second was Deuce, a so named because it took Vincer two very comprehensive scouting trips across almost the entire planet of Tatooine to locate a dewback baby for taming. The second time was the charm when the ornery dewback was brought home to meet the squad and the other pets.

Deuce was considered "ornery" because of one incident he would never be able to live down.

While the squad was hunting on Dantooine, it suddenly became apparent during the middle of a wild fracas that Deuce was no longer standing amongst the group and chomping on whatever everyone was shooting at. Vincer triggered his pet command for Deuce to return to him, and waited.

Moments later, Deuce crested a hill - and came barrelling at us all... with two very angry giant pikets on his tail! We all remember that doofy Dewback grin on his face as he ran for his life straight for us. We ran. We fired. We laughed when the dust settled.

Deuce was just a Dewback in a game not unlike any other Dewback I'm sure. But he earned his own unique personality that day. Putting a saddle on him was not going to be easy.

To complicate the matter of mounting, Vincer wasn't a master Creature Handler yet. On the day that the mounts were going live, he had to finish his final box to earn the mastery. Figuring that there would be more babies to be found on Tatooine then any other world that was prudent to be solo on, Vincer dropped in and went into a creature taming zone that is now almost a blur.

V would tame a pet and use it to earn experience until the next baby was found. Rinse and repeat until he finally earned his stripes and was recognized as a Master Creature Handler. Always casual when it came to the business of his own skills, Vincer had put on an experience grind for the ages.

The first order of business was to saddle up the pets, starting with that naughty Deuce. He was agreeable to the idea and went with Vincer around Tatooine to explore the world as if it was new again.

That was the correct phrasing, because exploring the worlds from atop a creature mount made everything seem fresh and new. Others in the squad were gifted mounts. Vincer's profession was opened up to new opportunities that did not exist before. In a little more then a week, his bank account grew to over a million credits.

But the money meant little in the long run. There was great satisfaction in being able to contribute to the galaxy by providing happiness by way of mounted pets to others. SWG always worked best when everyone had an important role to play; a balance of 'give' and 'take'.

It would not last for Creature Handlers, who would be knocked down by the arrival of vehicles, and permanently when they would be removed from the game.

But for this short time, they enjoyed a special time in SWG's history, when the game was added to, not taken from. When things looked up, and never back. When there were goals to work towards for the sake of others first, and satisfaction achieved was achieved second.

When mounts reduced travel times, it did not make the galaxy smaller. It made the galaxy closer.

These were good times.