Star Wars: Uncertain Times, Desperate Measures

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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