Star Wars: Uncertain Times, Desperate Measures

Chapter 67: Perspective Matters

As the night went on, Jinx and Hexx left to find a place to sleep on Wyndaam’s ship as Bando tirelessly worked the sensor systems. However, both of them were kept awake by recurring nightmares of ferocious cold, howling winds, screams of agony, and blood red crystals.

To deal with the insomnia, Hexx donned his armor and went for a job, exploring the ship and taking in the motley ex-slave crew. In the process, he noticed a particular branding mark on a series of young, attractive Twi’Lek females in the very painful location of between the lekku. As he got closer, he realized where he recognized the symbol: it was designed by his CZ droid when he adopted the alias of Nyko Kalen. He recoiled in disgust as he realized the depravity his clone was perpetrating in his hijacked alias, and fled the deck to a less-populated location, cruising by the sensor station near the bridge as he sought solitude.

Jinx, thinking it was a Force vision similar to what they had before, sought out Wyndaam for guidance. After searching the bridge and sensor stations – and passing a jogging Hexx – he discovered the Wyndaam was located in the VIP bridge tower. Making his way into the tower, he discovered the area had been converted into an apartment, with a sleeping infant guarded by 2 B2 battle droids in one room, and a sleeping dark haired woman in the other. Heading down the corridor to the observation deck, he found Wyndaam in a makeshift observatory, staring intently at Ilum in nothing but a silk robe. Realizing how different yet still similar Hexx and Wyndaam are, Jinx discussed the visions with Wyndaam, who confirmed that he was affected by them as well and presumed it was coming from Ilum. After explaining to Jinx that a military solution was not possible and chastising him for thinking like a Stormtrooper, Wyndaam relayed a tale from his mentor regarding Sith lightsaber crystal’s crimson hue: they were normal crystals once, vibrant shades of Blue and Green, but were corrupted and twisted by the Dark Side and gained more of a red hue the deeper the corruption ran. Showing Jinx a sample of crystals he took from the cavern under a microscope, Wyndaam confirmed that the blue shards were showing an indigo coloration and posited a horrible hypothesis: Ilum itself was being corrupted. With that notion in mind, Wyndaam instructed Jinx to find Hexx and prepare for a journey to Ilum: before they confront the source, they need to confront themselves.

Jinx found Hexx in the makeshift cantina on the ship, sipping water in a corner. After acquiring their gear, they met Wyndaam in the hangar bay, carrying a large clanking pack, and departed for Ilum. As they cruised around Ilum, they noticed the weather was worsening gradually, at first appearing naturally but with a dark and malicious undercurrent. As Wyndaam communed with the Force, he guided the ship to a cavern complex deep in the side of an ice mountain. As Hexx expressed doubts on the plan, Wyndaam told him that sometimes they need to take a breath, concentrate, and take a leap of faith.

Landing in the cavern, they explored the deepest part first, and discovered a room full of Adegan crystals…all blood red. Upon stepping in the room, Jinx and Hexx immediately started arguing and punching each other. As Wyndaam separated them and they left the room, Hexx stormed off to find another section of the cave and Jinx realized the negativity of that room. Wyndaam instructed Jinx to follow Hexx, and proceeded to use the Force to collapse the tunnel.

Jinx and Hexx explored the caverns, and came across a fork in the passageway. In order to cover more ground, Jinx went left and Hexx went right.

Jinx found himself in a dead end, cold and cavernous room. As he examined it, his eyes were drawn to a pool of water with a light blue glow. As he examined it, he slipped and fell into the water and was quickly dragged down by a strong current. Shedding his armor, he struggled to swim towards the source of the blue glow, but found himself unable to move forward. Concentrating on the words Wyndaam told him previously, he stopped swimming and called out to the Force, using his telekinetic skills to pull the item to him before he lost consciousness.

Hexx found himself in another dead end cavern, but this cavern had a series of spiked stalactite and stalagmite formations. He was prepared to leave, when he noticed a light green glow from across the room. Using his agility and ingenuity with his vibroblades, he made his way to the cavern shelf holding the green glow. Realizing there was no way to use his grapple line, and the slope of the shelf was against him, he remembered Wyndaam’s words. Taking a deep breath and concentrating on his actions, he leapt at the shelf, covering a far greater distance than he thought possible. Scrambling to keep a foot hold, Hexx was able to grab the crystal from it’s perch in the wall before taking a tumbling fall down to the sharp floor.

As they both came too, they quickly noticed their cirumstances were changed. Jinx found himself with a blue crystal in his hand, laying in a pool of water less than 3 inches deep, with his armor strewn about the cavern and another passageway in the back that he trudged down. Hexx found himself on his back on a gravel cave floor, looking around to see a few small mounds of gravel on the cave floor and a small alcove where he found the green crystal. Spotting the passageway near the alcove, he cautiously made his way through the passageway.

Both of them found themselves in a small cave room, where Wyndaam was waiting for them next to an old item, either a piece of machinery or an altar. Wyndaam explained to them that using the Force requires them to change their current perspectives and how they view things: some things that look insurmountable from one angle may appear far easier from a different one. Calling out each of their crystals, Wyndaam instructed them on using the forge to construct a lightsaber, and dumped out the contents of the bag: odds and ends, knicks and knacks. Wyndaam took Jinx’s book on constructing a lightsaber, and destroyed it, explaining that there is no manual on constructing a lightsaber; they need to following the guidance of the Force.

Leaving the room, Hexx and Jinx went through the components, trying to find the items that spoke the most to them the piles of focus emitters, power cells, grips, and hilt materials. Hexx then attempted to construct his lightsaber first. As Jinx looked on in disbelief, Hexx quickly assembled his lightsaber, but noticed he was in a deeply focused trance and surmised he was tapping into his unique Force skills to sharpen his focus. As Hexx completed his blade and sat back, mildly exhausted, Jinx attempted to replicate the approach. Finding himself stymied, with the pieces not fitting together even though he was following the same steps, he stepped back and started using his telekinetic skills to assemble the lightsaber, finding it went far smoother that way.

With their blades in hand, Jinx and Hexx turned and saw Wyndaam leaning up against the wall, with a wry grin on his face. They examined each other’s lightsabers, and saw how unique each blade was. Jinx’s hilt was slightly curved and resembled a pistol grip, with the snap-hiss ignition sound having a vague ting of a blaster bolt being fired as the blue blade came to life. Hexx’s hilt was slightly elongated, similar to Wyndaam’s, designed for a two handed grip, that closely resembled a flight control stick on the old Y-Wing and Z-95s he was found of flying, with the activation button on the bottom of the saber. As he ignited his saber, a green blade emerged, with the ignition sounds resembling an engine roaring to life.

As they stood in a bit of awe at their accomplishments, Wyndaam ignited both ends of his polesaber, with bright yellow blades emerging to the snap hiss sounds tinged with almost a humming melody. Explaining that they had the proper tools to fix Ilum now, they departed the cavern to seek out the source of what is ailing Ilum…and possibly what corrupted Kantor.

As they were discovering themselves on Ilum, Bando noticed that both of them were gone. Going through what he recalled hearing and piecing together information, he was drawing conclusions regarding their activities when he was sent a comm from a J.Hest from one of the Recuscant-class destroyers politely summoning him. Realizing that Jinx slipped off the ship, he took a shuttle to the other ship.

Noticing the markings on the ship – some from battle, some intentional, and from a mix of alien species – he made his way through the ship’s corridors. As a bit of an oddity he realized that the corridors had no atmosphere, and he was needing to slightly activate his magnetic boots to compensate for poor gravity. Making his way through the airlock to the chambers for the living crew members, he came across a sight that both intrigued and disturbed him.

A group of individuals were chanting/singing around a circle, with the sounds of violence coming from the middle. As he examined the crowd, he noticed it was a mix of humans and aliens, primarily Zabrak. Most everyone had scars, either ritual or combat, and tattooes, with a myriad of hairstyles and piercings. It took him a minute, but he determined what was off about them: Half of the humans in attendance were clones of Jhorin!

Noticing their high degree of individualization – no sets of tattooes, scars, piercings, or hairstyles were identical nor complying with Imperial protocols – he kept scanning the room, paying attention to the fight in the middle. Noticing it was ritualistic but exceptionally brutal, and hearing some of the side conversations in an unknown language led Bando to one conclusion: he was on a ship crewed by Mandalorians.

Making his way to the bridge and being stopped by a clone of Jhorin in full Mandalorian armor, he was sent to the engineering section to speak with the “weird one”. Upon arriving, he noticed the engineering section was highly automated and was running power allocation models. Spying the models, he quickly realized the Mandalorian philosophy was highly entrenched: Life Support was one of the lowest prioritized systems in all the models.

Finding the “weird” Jhorin in the lower section of the engineering hold, he was strucked by how different he seemed: entirely hairless, with minimal tattooes, scars from manual labor, and built more like a barrel, he was an imposing brute of a man. As they conversed, he discovered that this version of Jhorin enjoyed building things more than shooting things, and seemed to be their engineer. Gleaning information from him about Kantor’s cloned army, he discovered that no version of Jhorin on the ship was sensitive to the Force, and there memories were all slightly altered in minor ways.

Asking to why he was there, Jhoriin took him to “the boss” on the bridge. Coming face to face with a very pretty dusky skinned and dark haired woman, in rancor leather combat armor, pouring over details on a holomap. After exchanging pleasantries and gleaning conclusions regarding why they were there, including the fact that the woman was Mandalorian and potentially affiliated with the Exchange in some fashion, the woman offered Bando a deal: in exchange for services rendered and tying up loose ends in the galactic core worlds for her, and in exchange she would call in favors amongst the other High Captains and acquire a ship for their usage.

After accepting her agreement – noticing she was right in that he didn’t have a very strong hand to play – Bando left with Jhoriin to head back to his ship. Before leaving, Jhoriin took Bando back to his workshop to give him a gift of his own making. Taking a leap of faith and allowing him to disassemble his hand with the electro-shock, Bando waited patiently as Jhoriin did something in a separate room. Looking around, it took him a few moments, but he noticed what was making the area so troubling: there was A LOT of beskar iron laying about in ingot and raw forms. As Jhoriin came back, he reassembled Bando’s hand. Running a quick diagonostic, he noticed new tech installed on the palm and fingertips.

Inquiring with what Jhoriin did, he explained that if they were going to investigate Ilum and deal with Kantor, he needed an edge to counter the Force skills of his potential opponents. The glove had a strong magnet powered by the same source as the electro-shock feature that would make disarming him particular difficult. He also gave Bando a weapon of his own crafting, modeled after weapons of old: a Beskad blade.

The blade was heavy, with an edge that wasn’t particular sharp, and slightly curved. As Bando swung it about, he decided to strike a railing in the workshop. The thud and vibration were underwhelming, and as he mocked it to Jhoriin, he was instructed to not strike beskar with beskar. Taking a second look at the blade, he was able to confirm that the entire sword, from hilt to crossguard to blade, was made of solid beskar iron. Realizing the utility of the weapon – namely, it’s ability to stand up to a lightsaber – he thanked Jhoriin and departed for Wyndaam’s ship, with both of them joking that he was going to need to come to the Dimwits rescue soon, as it was never a good idea to allow them to roam free without adult supervision.

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Chapter 66: A Typical Landing

Departing from Alasaka, the protagonists arrived a week or so later on Ilum, finding it deserted and appearing more peaceful. Bando scanned the planet with the limited means he had, and determined that there was a low grade blizzard on the surface.

Hexx proceeded to take the ship into atmosphere, where calamity struck. With an engine blowing out and an uncharacteristic loss of control, the LAAT crash landed on a ice ridge on Ilum.

Bando explored the outside, and came back with dire news: visibility and scan ranges were dismal, the temperature was dropping, and they were on a cliff side. Jinx clamored into the cockpit to attempt to stay warm, and Hexx went out with a jet pack to try to scale the cliff.

Scaling the cliff proved problematic: the winds sheared the rope line, and the intense cold caused his jet pack to malfunction and he went plummetting down into the white out.

WIth Hexx missing – and in typical Bando fashion, presumed dead – Bando got some supplies and took Jinx out into the cold to find shelter, finding the white out conditions had them lost instantly. Abandoning his cargo of communication gear as Jinx was succumbing to hypothermia, they made it to a break in the ice wall.

Meanwhile, Hexx woke up on an ice outcropping. With his jetpack missing and helmet damaged, he managed to feel around until he found a small corridor into the glacier with slightly warmer air. Stripping off his chest, leg, and helmet armor and tying it to himself with his remaining rope, he shimmied his way into the hole. Halfway through, his armor caught a snag, causing him to lose his right boot to proceed with going forward. Making his way to the end of the tunnel, he saw a thick ice wall blocking what appeared to be an air shaft into a side room.

Jinx and Bando found a door encase in ice blocking their way in. Bando took a few shots at the door, but eventually had to overload his blaster to break in the ice. He then tried to brute force the door, but failed to open it until Jinx used the Force to mentally push the door open. Coming inside, they found an entry way into a cavern that was quite obviously man-altered.

As they explored the caverns, they came across a few odd things: Bando discovered a room full of mining equipment predating the Empire, with an oddly colored Republic symbol on them, that was surrounded by crushed gemstones; Jinx explored a bit farther and discovered to his chagrin a disheveled Hexx.

Hexx explained he had to bore his way through an ice wall in a side room and found more drilling equipment in a side passage, along with a hot spring in the back. As Hexx and Jinx explored more and argued incessantly, Bando made his way to a turbolift and went down to a small hangar.

Bando saw that the hangar was being opened externally, and proceeded to stall the program until he was commed by Hexx, who instructed him to open the door so he could land his ill-gotten ship. As Bando lowered the shield and a shuttle landed, he saw Hexx get out of the ship…and prompted realized it was a clone.

As Bando tried to assault the clone, the well-mannered and impeccably groomed version of Hexx identified himself as Wyndaam Blackwood, and used the Force to pin him in place. As Hexx and Jinx arrived in the hangar bay, it was a tense few moments until Jinx broke the ice – he apparently was working with the clone of Hexx!

Wyndaam quickly explained that Jinx gave him the location of Ilum – which annoyed Bando and Hexx to no end – but that he was not enthralled by Kantor and was partially convinced he was the Prime Wyndam. Seeing that he was not hostile – and they were in no shape for a fight – they proceeded to explore the caverns. Wyndaam, Hexx, and Jinx went to the cavern of crushed gems, and Bando proceeded to slice into some terminals to gave information on the mining operation.

When they reconvened, they discussed their findings: Bando discovered the base was an old Separatist listening post converted to mining by the Empire after the war and what they were mining was kept secret on orders of Director Krennic and a G. Irso, while Wyndaam explained they were mining Khyber crystals for massive turbolasers, most likely the Death Star superlaser’s focusing emitters.

Needing to make a call to Alwyn, they traveled up to Wyndaam’s ship: a highly modified and somewhat ramshackle Confederate Banking Clan Frigate. Originally named the Debtor’s Promise and rechristened Freedom Trail, Bando made a holocall to Alwyn while Jinx and Hexx explored the ship.

Bando’s call with Alwyn went fairly well – Alwyn pushed for a quick resolution to the Kantor investigation and expressed a need for their services elsewhere – but Jinx and Hexx discovered the ship was filled with humans, twi’leks, and rodians marked with Hutt slave brands. Angrily confronting Wyndaam, he deflected the criticism, stating he used the Nyko Kalen cover Hexx created to his advantage and raided Hutt slave caravans – all the crew volunteered to come with him of their own choice. Jinx also realized the crew was on heavy rationing, with no supplies on hand to spare.

As the night ended, Bando went off to scan Ilum for signs of Kantor and left Wyndaam, Jinx, and Hexx to discuss Force-related matters. At Hexx’s request, Wyndaam explained a bit of his life, Kantor’s army, the freeing of slaves, and how he grew to command the Force. When Jinx prodded his reason for being on Ilum, Wyndaam explained he was setting up a colony on Ilum…as a flotilla of motley ships arrived in orbit.

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Chapter 65: From Bad to Deplorable and Back Again

Adrift in space, the crew plotted a course to the lat known safe harbor for repairs and selling the loot: Kittada itself.

Upon arriving at Kittada and paying for a tow to the spaceport, the protagonists split up: Bando and Hexx headed back to Alwyn’s estate, while Jinx stayed with the ship. Soon after Bando and Hexx arrived at the estate, all hell broke loose.

All the protagonists were taken by surprise as Kittada was assaulted by what appeared to be Zsinj’s Raptors. Bando and Hexx were pinned in at the estate as a new form of bomber rained death and destruction upon Alwyn’s Estate, which was holding due to the solid construction and hidden shield generators. Jinx, on the other hand, witnessed a quick and decisive invasion of the spaceport…and discovered that all the soldiers bore his exact likeness.

Bando and Hexx managed to escape Alwyn’s Island using the makeshift hovercraft…that was in actuality a makeshift podracer! They did not make it very far before being discovered…and the makeshift engines failing them. Left adrift in the ocean, they precariously treaded water whilst determining which direction to flee. After a few minutes, they were picked up by Alwyn’s forces of LAAT gunships that arrived to drive off the bombers. Rescued by Alwyn and his personal contingent of HK 51 droids, Bando succumbed to injuries and entered a shutdown mode, while Hexx passively witnessed the site of over a dozen LAAT gunships approaching the spaceport for a counter invasion.

Jinx had a much rougher time in the spaceport. Eventually retreating to the shuttle, he stowed his armor and the gear in the shuttle, and entered the pilot seat to scan the area. Realizing they were setting up detonite explosives on all the piers, he took the shuttle out to directly engage some of his clones in an ill-fated attempt to stop them. Successfully stopping the charges from going off and managing to take out 2 mortars and 2 E-Web gun emplacements, his already battered ship started to crash land…and accelerated when a clone managed to board the ship and directly engage Jinx in hand to hand combat. Proving marginally victorious, he managed to escape the shuttle as it crashed into the pier…and watched as it sank in the ocean sans the ejected cockpit. Frantically scrambling to the sinking shuttle, he was able to grab his pack and swim to the surface. The last sight Jinx saw before passing out was the invading LAAT gunships and the sounds of battle.

The battle was swift and one sided: Alwyn’s forces of over 200 HK droids were numerically superior and acted with swift brutality. A few HK droids were lost in the battle, but the entirety of the clones were destroyed. The next few days were spent in frantic preparations – Alwyn was planning something, and had an aggressive timetable.

Hexx managed to trade the items acquired from Alderaan to Alwyn for 100,000 credits and new, undisclosed ship. With those funds, he was able to pay for salvaged parts to fix Bando, who was furious that Hexx got a low balled price from Alwyn which spiraled into a heated argument between the two of them about hoarding information and not sharing. Jinx eventually came too in time to avoid being put to death with his clones, and got a taste of battlefield first aid from an HK droid: seared wounds, and a massive dose of both painkillers and adrenaline.

After half a day of getting their bearings, they approached Alwyn about a ship he promised them. Explaining that most of his ships were unavailable – and their track record was abyssmal, as they had the last ship for less than 6 hours – he gave them an LAAT gunship and instructed them to get it space worthy and leave for Ilum within 48 hours. Pressed as to why the tight schedule, Alwyn informed them that this battle was the reason he wanted them gone in the first place, and that he was luring Kantor into a prolonged battle to expend resources recklessly.

The protagonists quickly spent a good sum of the funds on getting the ship ready: hiring Mon Cal divers to salvage parts from the Nu-class shuttle to install a hyperdrive on the LAAT gunship, obtaining spare parts to make a jury-rigged vacuum seal on the ship, and parts for a refresher. With the ship assembled, they departed for Ilum once more, just in time to see massive planetary shields being raised on a mostly evacuated Kittada.

The journey to Ilum went rather uneventfully until they arrived at Alsaka to obtain supplies. The party split up to obtain much needed supplies, including clothing for Jinx and jetpack fuel for Hexx. The party was somewhat acrimonious at this point, as Hexx was sullen over Jinx’s insistence on keeping the lightsaber for himself and Bando was growing tired off it all, resulting in an increase of petty behavior. As they all split up, they managed to end up in the same place: the Alsakan black market.

While in the Black Market, Jinx was able to track down an individual that could provide more detail on how to construct a lightsaber, trading Master Plo Koon’s lightsaber to the merchant in exchange for a book on how to construct one. Not being able to decipher it – and finding others viewed it as simply a book on Alsakan history – Jinx met back up with Hexx and Bando, as they left a fitful meeting with a black marketeer that had a lightfoil for sale for an exorbinant price of 50,000 credits. Getting suckered into a Mandalorian dueling ring as the price for obtain jet pack fuel, Hexx and Jinx punched out some differences between heading back to the ship for yet another heated argument between Hexx and Jinx, resulting in Bando having to convince them both to get along and head to Ilum.

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Chapter 64: New Ship, New Mission

As the protagonists accepted Alwyn’s eventual offer for being, once again, in his service, they lounged around Kittada enjoying it’s hospitality. Bando made addtional acquaintances in the maintenance shack on Alwyn’s Estate, Hexx spent time wandering the halls and enjoying not having to look over his shoulder, and Jinx lounged at the pool, being exceptionally lazy and carefree.

As their rest came to an end, Alwyn hosted what turned out to be a farewell party, where the protagonists met a few of his contacts on the planet. Outside of random Alderaanians and the occassional Nautolan, the guest that attracted the most attention was Gannon Ikova, the mayor of Kittada’s only real settlement of Haleona Spaceport. Learning some of the history from Gannon, they learned that Kittada’s previous mayor, Mia Ikova, attempted to ally with the Rebellion and staged an unsuccessful revolt with the help of Leia Organa that ended with her death. Gannon came to power exceptionally distrustful of everyone but maintaining a militant neutrality in his dealings, eventually coming to an accord with a newly appointed Imperial governor that was an associate of Alwyn.

Around 4 am, the protagonists were awoken from their slumbers by Alywn’s staff. He took them to the shuttlepad on his estate and presented a new ship: a Nu-class shuttle called the Blue Bantha. With Hexx stating his reluctant approval of the ship but wishing they had time for a maintenance overhaul, the ship was loaded for supplies and left around 6 am, on a winding course to Ilum.

The journey to Ilum was immediately sidetracked when the protagonists entered the Alderaanian system. The communication console detected a coded Clone Wars era message coming from the asteroid field, and Jinx insisted they investigate.

The investigation yielded results, but also cost them. They discovered a fortified bunker in a chunk of asteroid, made of Beskar Iron, that contained a holocom station and 3 various shaped cabinets. Bando investigated the bunker – being a droid and not needed oxygen – and discovered a series of items: the bones of presumably Bail Organa and his wife, Jedi robes and a lightsaber that looked startling familiar, and a series of objects worth at least 100,000 credits…and more to the right buyer as they were prized heirlooms of Alderaan.

Jinx quickly claimed the lightsaber, his enthusiasm only mildy tempered by the fact it was nonfunctional, Bando packaged the items, and they left to be picked up by Hexx.

Hexx had a much rougher time, fighting with the engines to maintain an orbit while avoiding debris. With his first engine going out on the approach, the second engine failed just as he was leaving the asteroid belt.

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Chapter 63: The Games Being Played

As Alwyn appeared on the holoprojector with the statement of “Better 7 months late than never”, the protagonists began having a series of ephiphanies that were confirmed by Alwyn. Bando realized that the Canted Circle Grand lodge was the destination Alwyn was talking about when he mentioned sending them to Coruscant, Hexx realized that they could have just walked in the front door rather than deliver Coruscant to the Rebels, and Jinx realized how the events of the last 7 months would have unfolded differently but for a decision he made in a fit of irritation.

As the situation outside worsened, Alwyn began explaining the reason for the call. He informed the protagonists that were are far more things afoot in the galaxy driving it to destruction than they are aware of, and that if they wanted to stop some of the chaos they inflicted, he needed them to bring him a the redundant data core from the Grand Lodge on Coruscant to him on the planet Kittada. As Hexx pointed out they were working with Edderlath, Alwyn countered that Bel Iblis and Betl Oxtroe were idealistic fools playing in waters beyond their capability…and the rebels seizing Coruscant were not their friends. Along with the information that the data core will be corrupted in less than 30 minutes, the protagonists left to find it – and some rare booze in the cupboard as a personal request from Alwyn. Jinx and Hexx left to find the data core, and Bando left to get the booze.

As Jinx and Hexx began tracing the data cables to the backup data core, Bando popped down, giving Hexx a datapad to show the Trooper droids. As Hexx showed the datapad to the droids, both Hexx and the droids were a bit confused. 2 images showed up on the datapad: a young human playing Sabaac with a few other individuals, and the picture of Alwyn. Neither Hexx nor the droids recognized the younger man, and while Hexx knew Alwyn, the droids referenced him as just “Commander”. As Bando went back to the search for the booze, Hexx rejoined Jinx.

Jinx, having made solid progress in searching for the core, was perturbed at Hexx’s late arrival, but the 2 of them managed to find the data core assembly room: A small room made of a dark metal, with 4 pedestals resembling a droid head and torso at each corner, and an odd triangular shaped box with an odd variation of the Imperial emblem with 2 additional spokes on it…along with a familiar energy hum, like solid honey. Bando joined them shortly later, with a dented chassis and a grumbling complaint about the droid bartenders. As they realized time was pressing – the short circuits and power surges were becoming more frequent – they began utilizing every means at their disposal to remove the data core…wherever it was.

Hexx attempted to blast through the grating and go underneath the room to get the data core, but managed to stun himself from a blaster ricochet. Bando attempted to use brute force to pry over the pedestals, but quickly realized the items in here were energy resistant and made of Beskar iron….known more commonly as Mandalorian Iron. Jinx, after nearly destroying his vibroknife, attempted to use the Force to open the triangular shaped container. Much to his surprise – and Bando’s annoyance – the chest opened. Hexx quickly tried to grab the core, but was unable to physically move it….and was as perturbed as Bando as it flew to his brother’s outstretched hand with ease: A small cube shaped item, very similar but slightly different than the ones on Ilum.

As they attempted to exit the building, and after securing 15 bottles of high end liquor for Alwyn, the building went into full lock down mode – between the power surges in the data core and the battle raging in the streets, alarms were tripped, blast shields lowered, and security droids illegal on most planets were deployed. Managing to secure their release – with the system registering Jinx’s biometric to authorize the release. Before leaving, they noticed someone was accessing the hangar bay. Going up to the bay to investigate, they ran into Edderlath and B1-Ex on the landing pad. Strolling into the lodge, Edderlath had a drink and prepared to await the arrival of a contingent of Rebels to secure the planet. With the protagonists inquiring as to if they were free to go, Edderlath informed them that this phase of the favor owed to Ardus Kaine was repaid. She also offered the opinion that they should leave soon…some factions of the Rebels may treat Jinx and Hexx rather unkindly.

Securing passage on a transport ship departing for Commenor, the protagonists took a shuttle to the transport in order. As they were boarding the ship, they noticed an exceptionally disturbing site: a large section of Coruscant collapsed, and out of the debris cloud a Super Star Destroyer was emerging, opening fire on the Rebel ships in orbit and Starfighters in the planet. As the chaos erupted, the transport ship left it’s remaining shuttles behind and leapt to hyperspace.

The transit to Kittada was stressful, but somewhat uneventful. Trading some credits and booze for a small room on the highly overcrowded ship, the protagonists kept their heads down and stuck to the room…but still managed to notice some exceptionally disturbing events. The protagonists quickly realized that the entirety of the crew and passengers on this ship were humans with a Coreworld accent….and a military bearing. Food was being rationed, and scarcity was driving a fear-based mentality. Jinx and Hexx noticed that there was blood in their cabin – on the floor and the sheets – that Bando was able to confirm was Twi’lek blood. Putting two and two together, they realized that the original crew or passengers on this ship may have been aliens…that were forcibly evicted.

As Bando left to obtain a charge to his systems, he noticed a few bits of disturbing information: mercenaries bearing the hallmarks of Mandalorians were on board the ship, and that they were correct about the aliens: there was a depressurized cargo bay on the ship near the maintenance section that was filled with the floating corpses of hundreds of aliens. As he was finishing his charge, Bando caught a glimpse of a Givin entering and exiting the cargo hold…with what appeared to be blood dripping from his claw-like appendages. Making his way back to the protagonists’ room, Bando relayed his findings. With the new information in hand, the protagonists hunkered down and waited out the journey in solitude.

Arriving on Kittada with a few other passengers – and noticing the ship was getting far less crowded for potentially nefarious reasons – the protagonists were picked up by a droid sent by Alwyn and taken to his estate. They were quickly enamored by the locale – a planet of sunny weather, clear oceans, beautiful beaches, and scantily clad females of a variety of species. Meeting at Alwyn’s estate – on a small, secluded island – the protagonists discussed the situation with Alwyn, who deferred all questions until dinner and offered them the hospitality of his estate. With Jinx and Hexx departing for warm bathes, crisp liquor, and exquisite views, Bando was approached by Alwyn and was offered some upgrades to his system. Taking Alwyn at his word that nothing nefarious would occur – and giving backups of key memories to Jinx on a datapad – Bando powered down in the droid bay.

At dinner, the protagonists – with Jinx and Hexx somewhat surprised at Bando’s new, very much Clone Trooper appearance – and Alwyn had a discussion about what was going on with the Canted Circle and the galaxy at large. Alwyn explained that he was a member, along with a variety of very powerful and prominent individuals, and members had an outsized influence on the galaxy: government contracts, special projects, superweapons, social policies were used as currency during Sabaac games, and the Canted Circle was heavily influenced by it’s most powerful member: Sheev Palpatine.

As Alwyn explained Palpatine’s role, it became apparent to the protagonists that in the wake of his death, there was upheaval in the Canted Circle: many members had perished or seen fortunes quickly diminish, and there was a power struggle for the Canted Circle and it’s resources. Alwyn was a major player in the dance – leading to his formation of the Outer Rim Confederacy and releasing Patren Elrood and Kantor from carbonite – along with a few other individuals, such as Ardus Kaine and Garm Bel Iblis. Pet projects were being accelerated, and it affected the galaxy in a myriad of ways: the Blue Shadow Virus, a weaponized Sith bioweapon from ancient times, cybernetic supersoldiers, Super Star Destroyers and Death Stars, and the formation of pocket empires. When pressed about his role in Project Kantor, Alwyn explained that he won that project from a Chiss member of the Canted Circle, and it was a project early on or directly preceding the Clone Wars as a contingency project in case the Jedi were rapidly depleted involving cloning Jedi. To his knowledge, the project was mostly a failure, but Alwyn admitted his memories of the event had gaps…and he suspected his memories were altered.

Utilizing the data core to piece together information on who is involved in keeping the galaxy in turmoil, which super projects are in flight, and to ascertain the probable fate of the galaxy at large, Alwyn explained his plan to the protagonists: using them as extensions of his will, he would attempt to thwart the most dangerous gambits the Canted Circle was involved with undertaking as he prepared his people for a galactic exodus. In exchange, he would offer them a place in the exodus, the diminishing resources he still had at his disposal, and a ship. The protagonists debated the situation briefly, not knowing if he could be trusted, but ultimately agreed on the condition he clue them in on who Edderlath was and what she was doing.

As he made arrangements for a ship and offered them R&R for a few days on his estate, Alwyn gave a piece of information that floored the protagonists: Edderlath was an ignorant pawn Betl Oxtroe and Garm Bel Iblis – idealistic fools, in Alwyn’s opinion – were attempting to use to forge galactic unity: a republic senate restored with the rebels in charge, and a figurehead empress at its head: Edderlath, the granddaughter of Sheev Palpatine himself

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Chapter 62: Hexxed Again

With the scheduled assault occurring shortly, Jinx and Hexx laid down to get some rest while Bando left to go scout out the location. Having Hexx called an airspeeder for him, Bando boarded the taxi to head out to the Works with a spare comm from Hexx. As they left, he was instructed to give the name of his owner for records, and was instructed by Hexx to use the name Nyko Kalen.

As Bando arrived at his destination, he noticed the comm terminal on the taxi was flashing a “WANTED: Nyko Kalen” message, with an image of a man in battered clone trooper armor. As Bando quickly left the airspeeder behind and blended in to the scenery, he notified Hexx of the predictament. As Hexx rather confusedly discussed the situation with Jinx, Edderlath noticed that the police were swarming the building where Hexx made the call from. As they ditched comms, donned their armor, and bobbytrapped the room, Edderlath, Jinx, Hexx, and B1-Ex took off via Jetpack towards the Power Relay Station. B1-Ex peeled off under orders from Edderlath, and the rest arrived at an in-progress construction site near the power station.

Meanwhile, Bando analyzed the power relay station, noticing it was mostly a durasteel infrastructure with 4 massive solar absorption panels receiving energy beamed from orbital satellites, and a series of similar relay stations transporting energy to other buildings throughout the Works and Fobosi Districts. Infiltrating one of the nearby buildings and gaining access to an empty office suite, Bando commed Jinx to figure out a plan of attack.

In discussing the situation with Edderlath, Jinx, and Hexx, Bando used a holoterminal to gain access to the newsfeed. He discovered that Nyko Kalen had a multi-million credit bounty on his head from both the Hutt Cartel – for bombing a Hutt spawning pool and killing a large amount of Hutt Larva belonging to powerful criminal networks – and the Black Sun – for murdering a Vigo’s family and televising it throughout Hutt Space –and hundreds of police were swarming the area, expanding the search grid, cutting off comm access, and grounding speeders. With this information, and the assumption that B1-Ex may be out of contact for a bit, they left it to Jinx to formulate the plan: Bando would call in a false alert to draw off the police, Hexx and Edderlath would take out the probe droids around the building, and Jinx would fly up and use his only thermal detonator to knock out the power grid.

With the search grid tightening, they enacted their plan…which went sideways from the beginning. Edderlath and Jinx were spotted by the police and probe droids, and took off towards the Fobosi District. Bando made his way down from the building, but exited slower than anticipated. Jinx got into position and prepared to throw his thermal detonator, when B1-Ex arrived in a stolen police airspeeder/cargo hauler….loaded with compressed supercoolant. B1-Ex proceeded to pilot the speeder directly into the superstructure, jumping out and jetpacking down to meet Bando. As Jinx’s detonator hit the supercooled metal infrastructure and exploded, the durasteel shattered, causing the tower to collapse down towards Jinx and the high-powered beams from orbit missed their collection arrays and began burrowing through buildings.

As the chaos was unfolding, Jinx, Bando, and B1-Ex were able to catch up to Edderlath and Hexx. B1-Ex peeled off to meet with Edderlath, and instructed Bando to go with Jinx and meet up with Hexx. As they were meeting up, Hexx took in the scene and realized the Rebel’s plan: multiple turbolaser turrets were located throughout the Fobosi District and when their power supplies cut out, depowered down…and a trio of X-Wings rocketed out from a hidden location in the district, destroyed turrets and Imperial military installations as they progressed towards the Imperial Center. With their skill, he surmised they were an elite Rebel X-Wing squadron…but not as good as he was.

As they breached the building – knowing they had 4 floors to search before the power went on – they explored the first level, finding an opulent and decadent game room and lounge area with serving droids depowered in alcoves. As they attempted to locate the turbolift and access it, Bando tried to use his neural shock interface in his left hand to jumpstart a holoterminal. He was able to get it briefly powered on, but fried the circuits, triggering some sort of alarm and activating the droids but not before noticing the location of the databanks on the lower levels. As they shot down multiple serving droids that proceeded to swarm near them. Realizing they were not attacking them, Hexx allowed one to approach…which proceeded to offer him a beverage. Confused by the approach, Hexx took the drink and left to help Jinx open the turbolift door.

While Jinx and Hexx were working with the door, Bando hacked into the Sabacc dealer droid to access his databanks. As he was finishing his hack, Jinx and Hexx opened the turbolift doors and they proceeded to jetpack down to the lower level databank. After a brief series of exchanges with some sort of droid that appeared like a bulky Stormtrooper, Jinx was surprised to learn that both himself and Hexx were authorized to be present in the building. After trying – and failing – to access the databanks, they asked the droids a series of questions, eventually discovering that the droids were there for over 8 years, they appear to be very similar to Lt Selanne from Alwyn’s fleet, and that apparently Alwyn arranged for their access 7 months ago. As the power came back on and they took a lift to the communications room, they initiated a pre-programmed holocall and were unsurprised when Alwyn answered the call.

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Chapter 61: New Masters, Same Issues

As the U-Wing was assembled, the protagonists prepped for departure. With Bando noticing the rather shoddy shape of the U-Wing’s components and B1-Ex’s installation of a swivel turret mount, he discussed the trip with Hexx, Jinx, and Edderlath. Edderlath assured them that the U-Wing would last long enough – much to Hexx’s consternation – and the crew donned their armor and proceeded to depart.

Manuevering through the nebula around the Hapes Cluster while the Radiant VII and Black Knight left through the established passages, Hexx quickly realized that the stabilizers on the ship were not working….along with 1 of the engines. As Bando opened the door to try and get to the engines to repair them, but the depressurization caused the nebula gasses to seap into the cabin. Realizing the predicament the crew was in – limited oxygen in their suits and a long journey ahead – Bando resealed the compartment and tried to restore life support. While he was able to restore the life support at the expense of other spare components, Hexx cut a turn too hard and another engine in the U-Wing burned out.

Limping through the Nebula, the ship immediately leapt to hyperspace to rendezvous with Edderlath’s contacts. Upon arriving at a relatively uninspiring planet and meet with the Black Knight, the U-Wing docked with the Arquitens and the crew was debriefed and got R&R. Edderlath conversed with Betl to find out the next stage of the plan, and notified them that they had a few hours of downtime. Hexx and Jinx took in something other than ration bars in restless silence, B1-Ex proceeded to work on the 4 concussion missiles, and Bando disappeared with Amara Alliera from the Pentastar Alignment.

Jinx and Hexx’s dinner was interrupted by a protocol droid storming into the mess hall. When Hexx rudely inquired as to what he was doing, the protocol droid drew a hidden blaster and stunned him. Jinx, looking up at that point, realized that the droid was in fact Bando!

Bando explained that the cyborg Amara transferred him from the Magnaguard droid into the current body, explaining that it was more for blending into Coruscant and removed some of the Empyrean Way Consortium’s programming and tracking software. After some more adjustments – Bando did not take well to his ‘upgrades’ – the crew met back up with Edderlath and Betl, who informed them that the contacts on Coruscant have been established. Under the cover of working for Bel Iblis’ rebel faction, they are to meet with a rebel insurgent group on Coruscant to cover for their activities, and they were to depart immediately.

Arriving in Coruscant, Hexx piloted the U-Wing towards the Fobosi District of Coruscant. As they flew in, Edderlath unveiled the next stage of their plan. Furnishing everyone with jet packs, she unveiled the cargo they were picking up on the Black Knight: deceased and preserved clones of Hexx and Jinx, in a version of their standard clone armor. Propping the deceased clones in the pilot station – and staging the Magnaguard droid’s body in the hold – they plotted a course for the statue of the Emperor and HALO jumped down. As they fell, they noticed B1-Ex drag and drop the concussion missiles. They saw 2 of the missiles launch themselves, sling around the U-Wing and head towards the statue. The other 2 shot down, turned around, and targeted the U-Wing. With the AA fire at the statue and the destruction of the U-Wing, their entry went undetected.

B1-Ex, Edderlath, Jinx, and Hexx landed on the rooftop of their target building, but Bando was unable to land correctly and went down to the main level entrance of the TaggeCo subsidiary building – 300 stories from the entry point. Managing to blend in and make his way to the roof, Bando rejoined the crew without much incident, where they took an airspeeder to a motel in the Works district.

Arriving in the Works, B1-Ex dropped a droid-popper into the airspeeder as it departed, causing the droid and airspeeder to be destroyed a few blocks away from the motel. As Jinx and Hexx wondered what was going on, Bando filled them in rather harshly that B1 was covering their tracks. They went to eat dinner in casual clothes at a high-rise restaurant in the Fobosi District, where Edderlath explained their target: an abandoned but defended building near the University of Coruscant that was the headquarters of a certain cabal of Coruscanti elite. Rumored to be no more than 500 members at a time and millennia old, the Canted Circle’s membership was filled with movers and shakers – Supreme Chancellors, Grand Admirals, Titans of Industry, and even the Emperor himself. According to Betl and Bel Iblis – both hinting at their membership in the society – the secret to discovering what is driving Kantor’s actions and who may be his hidden master lied within the building.

To facilitate that plan, Edderlath arranged a meeting with a rebel cell on Coruscant that needed assistance disrupting the power grid. The 3 Rebels – an outer rim male human, a Corellian male human, and a Coreworlds male Human – gave them the location and time and left to finalize their preparations. With the mission beginning in 4 hours, Jinx complained about the lack of time to properly set up. As they departed to gear up for the event, Edderlath explained their portion of the plan: using the blackout as cover to infiltrate the Canted Circle, copy their databanks, and leave without being detected.

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Chapter 60: Surprises Galore

As the protagonists arrived at Hapes, they were escorted to their chambers. As they observed Hapes along the way, they quickly noticed how opulent…and archaic…it seemed.

Arriving at their chambers, they were given strict instructions not to leave the room. Left alone for hours, Fiar and Bando explored the hallways, spying on the locked doors and learning some odd bits of information. Many hours later, the Hapan delegation, along with Tamren, Betl, Camille, and Morag, came back to the chambers. Informing Jinx that he was invited to the party – earning a smile from Camille – and letting the others know they failed the first simple test for males: following instructions properly.

Escorting Jinx to his new room – spacious, with glass ceilings that served as telescopic amplifiers – the Hapans left him to his own devices. As he prepared for a party as he contemplated what was going on and was perturbed at something being…off. Fiar and Bando had far less prep time for the party, but were escorted by Belt and Morag respectively.

The party did not go according to any plan the protagonists were aware of. Jinx had to try to pry Camille from the shadows, as she was blatantly uncomfortable in the nest of social vipers, and missed seeing Fiar and Betl head to a back room.

Betl and Fiar left to go to a backroom during the party, where Betl introduced him a young woman known as Edderlath, a few unknown Hapan women, and a robed figure that introduced himself as Ridu Syrus. As Betl, Ridu, and the Pentastar Alignment’s High Inquisitor (via Holocall) discussed his future, Fiar made small talk with Edderlath, finding her a kindred soul: both of them had no idea what was going on, but for some reason both were highly important to someone’s else machinations. As the discussions concluded, Betl informed Fiar that he would be leaving with Ridu: Ridu and the other erstwhile Jedi would be better equipped to shield him from Kantor, and his gifts would be helpful in a quest they are undertaking into the Deep Core. As Fiar departed with Ridu, excited to learn more about his gifts and explore the galaxy without being chased by a bloodthirsty mirror of himself, Betl went back to the party to round up the crew.

Meanwhile, Bando was shadowing Morag, who was acting uncharacteristically brazen. Drinking mulitple drinks, being purposefully rude, and even starting a fist fight, Morag acted exceptionally out of character and was a center of attention until being directed to leave by Betl.

As everyone left the party in an uproar, Jinx and Bando noticed an individual stalking through the crowd, wearing a dark hooded cloak and moving with deadly grace towards the exit. Unable to see her face, they caught a glimpse of 2 cylindrical objects belted to her waist before she disappeared from sight.

Betl led the group to a meeting room in a deserted part of the castle, where she informed them that the next stage of the plan would commence. As they entered, Jinx and Bando took in the sight in the room: Tamren, Pentag, and an unconscious man was bundled up on the couch. As Bando rudely woke up the man, Jinx was surprised to see Hexx roll off the couch…and reacted by punching him.

As things calmed down – Jinx was not amused to see Bando somewhat expect Hexx to be alive – Betl explained phase 2 of complying with the Grand Moff’s request: Betl, Morag, and the crew of the Black Knight would leave the system shortly through the primary exit, Ridu Syrus and the Radiant VII would leave through the secondary exit, and Hexx would pilot Bando, Jinx, Edderlath, and B1-EX through the nebula undetected, meeting back up before heading to Coruscant.

Jinx quickly brought up what he thought was a flaw in the plan: everyone on Hapes would see that the crews split up. With that, both Pentag and Tamren revealed that they were not human, shapeshifting into copies of Fiar and Jinx. Bando quickly put together that they were Clawdites, which they did not argue against, and asked Betl where they got a copy of a Magnaguard droid. Betl did not answer, but did state that they would be taken to a secure hangar to await further instructions, and that they were not to leave the hangar.

Bando, Jinx, Hexx, Edderlath, and B1-Ex were taken in disguise to an unused hangar bay in the castle, where they discovered multiple crates and ship parts. Edderlath informed them that they needed to quickly put together a ship that was smuggled into Hapes on the Radiant VII – an old U-Wing transport that Betl pointed them to – and they needed to leave Hapes sooner rather than later…eventually, they would be spotted, and Hapans had a fondness for assassination as a matter of politics. With that, Hexx and Jinx quickly went to work on the U-Wing, bickering the entire time, while Bando and B1-Ex posted guard.

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Chapter 59: A Jinxed Harrowing.

As the ship arrived outside the Corellia system, the protagonists bickered over the approach to take. Bando left to finish working on the Bacta tank with Ciri, Fiar left to go to his room, and Jinx went to his room to mediate. With time running out, Jinx plotted a course to Hapes via Commenor and Corellia and engaged the hyperdrive without consulting the rest of the crew.

As they were passing through Corellia, they were pulled from hyperspace abruptly, throwing Fiar and Bando for a loop. As they got to the bridge, they attempted to get the lay of the land. Bando scanned the system, and noticed that the Venators were heading to Selonia and bypassed Corellia. Jinx commanded Camilla to go to the other side of the system by going through Centerpoint, but noticed that she had a blank expression and was unresponsive. Fiar looked for the gravity well, but quickly determined the source was not technological, but was a projection of the Force. With Jinx taking the controls and Fiar plotting a hyperspace route to Commenor, they were hit by a massive ripple through the Force. With Fiar able to defend himself from the onslaught, Jinx was overwhelmed. Shortly after the event, the Ventors launched projectiles containing the Blue Shadow virus to Selonia and scrambled a wing of ARC 170 fighters to intercept the cruiser…that quickly turned around and headed back to the Venator.

With Jinx offering cryptic answers as to why they withdrew, they plotted the course and jumped to Commenor. While en route, Jinx sent a message to a series of planets warning them that they were targeted to receive the Blue Shadow virus and to take precautions. The trip was tense but uneventful, as the stress of the situation began to weigh on Jinx and dramatically shorten his temper. With Jinx being unapproachable Bando spoke with Morag, who informed him of the message Jinx sent along with the reactions: Panic, Xenophobia, and the treatment of Jinx as a terrorist via propaganda and media spin. With Morag locking Jinx out of the comms and Bando helping Ciri finish installing the medical facilities, they braced for arrival at Commenor.

Their stay in Commenor was remarkably brief but highly eventful. Upon arrival in the system, Bando, Fiar, and Jinx were examining and arguing over a large military and construction presence over Commenor. Camilla quickly and resounding took the ship to emergency full throttle and put the ship in evasive maneuvers…and narrowly avoided 2 massive ion cannon shots from the planet. Fiar quickly plotted a course on a detour, and they quickly left the system.

The journey to Hapes took another few days, and the tensions amongst the crew frayed. Due to a poorly worded command to B1-Ex to subdue Jinx, Jinx stormed away from a meeting with Bando to his cabin and was ambushed by a dual stun and ion grenade, knocking him out and frying all electronics in his cabin – including his door. As he woke up and realized he was stuck in his room, Jinx proceeded to use the Force to telekinetically pull the door open. As he was doing it, Fiar sensed his attempts…including a few rather large Force ripples that gave him a terrified thought: the Force use could act as a beacon to Kantor. After a tense showdown where Camilla, Betl, and Tamren abandoned the group in the bridge and locked out all bridge functions. Calming down after being marginalized, they prepared to arrive at Hapes.

As they arrived at Hapes and entered the Hapes Cluster, a series of Hapan ships arrived. After a brief exchange where Betl gave a long series of random phrases and code words, the ships escorted the Arquitens through the cluster to Hapes. As they traveled through, they were joined by additional ships, all bearing a unique crest signifying their alliance to particular Hapan planets. After Betl informed the crew of the Hapan culture and the importance of the escort, the crew prepared to land at Hapes. The primary delegation – Tamren, Camilla, Betl, and Morag – dressed up in their finest and revealing attire as benefitting the Hapan culture’s strong matriarchal system, and the men were groomed and presented to the women to be judged as worthy of being their pretty cannon fodder male subordinates. After a male entourage was selected, they were given the rules: the women talked and the men stayed silent, the women initiated eye contact and all interactions, they were not to eat or drink anything offered instructed, and that if they were to be propositioned by a Hapan female they were not allowed to say no.

With Jinx reacting poorly, Bando reacting amusingly, and Fiar reacting giddily, the crew made final preparations for their arrival at Hapes.

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Chapter 58: I Shouldn’t Have Said That…

As the protagonists arrived in the Corellia system, Bando did a system scan out of a sense of paranoia. The results of the scan – Corellia being thoroughly blockaded by Rebellion forces – led the protagonists to determine that the Double Worlds of Talus and Tralus were their best bet for a rather low key approach.

Approaching the Double Worlds, they spotted a small Imperial fleet – a Victory Star Destroyer and 2 Carrack-class cruisers – at Centerpoint station, and promptly disabled their transponder. Claiming battle damage (and paying a decent bribe), they landed in the spaceport on Talus. Summoning emergency medical services as they landed, Jinx and Bando accompanied their Imperial contact to the hospital and put Camilla in charge of the ship.

At the hospital, Jinx quickly had to think of an alias and a cover story for the Imperial contact. Spinning a rather unbelievable and soft cover, Bando admonished Jinx and had him contact Morag to create cover identification – if she was targeted by assassins once, she may be targeted again. Bando elected to remain behind to guard the admiral while Jinx headed back to the ship after a few hours to check in. While at the ship, he received a disconcerting message from Undermoff Antilles: henceforth, Jinx was barred from entering the Pentastar Alignment due to an ongoing investigation into treasonous actions. Reviewing the message’s attachment, Jinx saw surveillance of an individual looking identical to himself arrive in the Pentastar Alignment, make his way to Bastion and Miriam’s apartment, and attempt to assassinate Miriam. With the assassination attempt failing due to the intervention of the High Inquisitor, the Pentastar Alignment had enacted Bastion protocols and used their fleet to seal the border, cutting off trade and communications outside the Pentastar Alignment.

At the ship, Fiar wasted no time sneaking off the ship into the city, tailing Ciri and B1-Ex as they left on a supply run. Quickly spotted by B1-Ex, Fiar was invited to join the group as they went shopping for supplies with Jinx’s bank account in hand. Purchasing weapons, food, fuel, and medical supplies, the group headed back to the ship, over 100,000 credits less in the bank account but with a well-stocked ship. Fiar disappeared into the ship as they returned to research purchasing speeders, and Ciri went to work turning the Captain’s Quarters – currently assigned to Bando Wyn – into a medical bay. With installation going slower than detected, Ciri summoned Bando back to the ship to help install the bacta tank they purchased, and sent Jinx and B1-Ex to the hospital.

As the bacta tank was being installed, Morag met with Bando in the engineering section with an analysis of the battle at Duros. She confirmed multiple sightings of “Kantor” on both Duros and other planets in the Core experiencing pirate raids and upheaval, the existence of at least part of the troops used as clones of Jinx, and the identity of their contact: Betl Oxtroe, an Admiral in the Imperial fleet…and one now wanted for Treason. Bando commed Jinx and explained the situation, but found the communications being jammed midway through the explanation. Bando and Fiar proceeded to leave the ship, steal a speeder, and head to the hospital. Before they left, Morag dropped a final bit of bad news: their bank account was accessed on Brentaal using Jinx’s biometrics 30 minutes ago, and the bank account was drained.

At the hospital, Jinx and B1-Ex were guarding Betl when the comms came through. Jinx left to get a cup of caf, and was barely able to escape the gaze of the ISB soldiers at the receptionist desk. As he returned, he instructed B1-Ex to stand guard and gave him the all-clear to engage hostiles if necessary while he attempted to disengage Betl from the Bacta Tank. As he was trying – and failing – to remove her from the Bacta Tank, he heard the tell-tale signs of a grenade being thrown…and all hell broke loose.

B1-Ex pinned the ISB in the reception area and made a tactical withdrawal back to Jinx, collapsing the hallway behind him, and ran into a very disgruntled Jinx. Jinx began to chastise B1-Ex for engaging the hostiles, only to hear B1-Ex respond with Jinx gave the go-ahead. As Jinx kept failing to drain the bacta tank, he turned to find B1-Ex arriving from the other end of the corridor with a hospital doctor. As Jinx persuaded the doctor to drain the bacta tank, he went out to find a powered sled and some supplies. Returning with the supplies, he loaded Betl onto the sled and proceeded to flee down the corridor as the ISB agents recovered and began burrowing through the rubble. As they left, Jinx was appalled as B1-Ex coldly gunned down the doctor and destroyed the med lab with the statement of “No witnesses”. Approaching the end of a corridor, and with options limited, B1-Ex used his last grenade – a thermal detonator – to blow a hole in the side of the building. As Jinx contemplated if the repulsor sled would survive the fall, B1-Ex pushed them all out the hole with a shrill and warbling battle cry of “ROGER ROGEERRRRRRR!”

As Bando and Fiar approached the hospital, they saw the explosion and exfiltration of Jinx and company. Meeting up with them, they loaded everyone onto the landspeeder and headed back to the ship. Realizing the landspeeder was overweight, Bando leapt out of the landspeeder and made his way back on foot.

As they arrived at the ship, they hastily made plans to depart Talus, once again with the city on high alert and warrants out for their capture. Using magnetic lock boots, a grapple line, and the tractor beam on the ship, B1-Ex and Fiar managed to bring Bando on board the ship as they launched into space at full burn, trying to outrun the Carrack cruisers in pursuit and trying to plot an astrogation course out of the system. As Fiar plotted the course and Jinx piloted the ship to the jump point, they both felt the arrival of Kantor’s forces into the Corellian system. As they moved to leave, they saw the Venators engage the Corellian fleet. Using the Force, Jinx sent a smug message to Kantor regarding him being too late to stop them, his expression fell as he felt Kantor’s response “ But the Blue Shadow comes to the Corellian system”.

As they completed the microjump away from Corellia, Jinx despondently told the crew what Kantor was doing. Determining to plot a course to the Unknown Regions and disappear, he was surprised to see Betl on the bridge, giving them instructions to head to Hapes immediately before “they” find “her”.

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