Star Wars: Uncertain Times, Desperate Measures

Chapter 57: What's Old is New

After escaping from Kantor and his Venator-class Star Destroyer, they took the New Republic escort to Duros. With Jinx deflecting Lando’s requests for more information regarding the meeting and gathering of Bel Iblis’ rebel faction, they arrived at the planet. Finding the planet’s skyhook and shipyards in disarray, they contacted the planet to arrange a transport to the surface. With Morag manufacturing sloppy fake IDs, Jinx, Bando and Fiar went to the surface to track down Grand Moff Kaine’s contact.

Arriving at Duros, they were taken to what would appear to be a human enclave on the planet. Along the way, they briefly saw the ruined spaceport, and learned that both the spaceport and major hospital were orbitally bombarded 12 days ago during a battle between 2 fleets. Arriving at a rather run-down appearing hotel, the protagonists made their way inside, finding the interior in far better shape and of a greater quality than the exterior would indicate.

Checking in with the concierge – and paying extra for ‘discretionary’ lodging and ‘comparnionship’ for Fiar– Fiar and Jinx relaxed in the room while planning how to proceed with the information at their disposal. As Fiar prepared for his visit, Jinx and Bando left to find a droid repair shop.

Arriving at the droid repair shop, Jinx ordered repair parts for Bando; however, they both noticed something sketchy about the establishment. After paying special for “expediated” delivery – and the odd question about part sources – Jinx left to get dinner while Bando stayed at the shop in a powered down mode. A few hours later, Jinx arrived to find Bando mostly repaired, with Bando acting strangely. After attempting to intimidate the droid repair woman and failing, Jinx and Bando left the establishment…with Bando casing the place for a later visit. Meanwhile, Fiar received the companion per his request to the concierge: a petite, bipedal red haired individual. After being bound and experiencing a few hours of companionship, Fiar passed out.

As Bando and Jinx arrived back at the hotel, they exited the elevator while a petite red haired man entered the elevator, mumbling something about a recent meeting with an individual. With a questioning look, Bando and Jinx walked in to find Fiar still bound and passed out. With Bando rudely awakening Fiar, Fiar left to take a shower while Jinx watched the holo news stories regarding the destruction of the spaceport. As food arrived for Fiar – with Bando checking it for explosives – Jinx and Bando left to revisit the droid repair shop after hours while Fiar ate his food. As they left, Fiar enjoyed his nerf steak, eventually dozing off to a deep sleep.

At the droid repair shop, Bando broke into the shop via the roof entrance, triggering and bulldozing through a rigged door. Ransacking the place, Bando made to leave with some datapads that may have his schematics when he noticed a safe in the wall. Trying to remove the safe, Bando triggered a bomb in the safe! The resulting explosion knocked Jinx to the ground, tossed Bando outside the building, and destroyed the data they were looking for. Leaving empty handed, they headed back to the hotel room.

Finding the room empty, with a notepad from Fiar that he went for a walk, Bando and Jinx tried to find him. Searching all exits – and paying for the footage of the exits – and coming up empty, they decided to head to the spaceport to investigate the bombing and the potential meeting of Grand Moff Kaine’s contact.

Meanwhile, Fiar woke up restrained in a darkened room. With his memories hazy – and assuming he was drugged – Fiar pieced together that an individual Bounty Hunter captured him. With the Duros Bounty Hunter negotiating for additional money – and noting how easy he was to take down – Fiar attempted to engage him in conversation. The Bounty Hunter, in a cold and callous manner, explained it was just business…and showed Fiar a datapad with his DNA sequence on it. Highlighting certain sections, the Bounty Hunter dropped a metaphorical bomb on Fiar: confirmation that he was, in fact, a clone. As he did, the door burst in!

Expecting a rescue, Fiar’s hope were crushed when he looked and saw a far more sinister version of himself staring back, with a green lightsaber ignited and 2 clone troopers flanking him. As the Bounty Hunter engaged the Kantor Clone, 2 combat droids emerged and engaged the Clones. Managing to get himself free, Fiar moved away from the battle between the Bounty Hunter and Force User, impressed at the display of combat prowess on both sides. Coming close to the door, he noticed one of the combat droids get destroyed…and dropping a concussion grenade at his feet. The grenade exploded, throwing everyone off balance and opening a hole in the floor. Fiar wasted no time in sliding down the hole in the confusion, finding himself on the 4th floor of the hotel! Realizing he never left the building, and trying to quickly grab anything of importance and finding nothing, Fiar was making to leave when he noticed something very odd: the deceased troopers looked exactly like Jinx. Fiar quickly fled the building, obtained a speeder and heading towards the last place he heard Jinx talk about: the spaceport.

At the spaceport, Jinx and Band bypassed the security markers and investigated the rubble. Finding a control room on the sublevel, they were able to find a few moments of footage before the bombardment: a female Imperial admiral was apparently meeting with Garm Bel Iblis to discuss something, then the meeting was broken up by the arrival of Kantor (or a clone…) and soldiers in clone trooper gear! Splitting up to cover more ground and find any survivors, they lost comm contact due to the interference from the bombing.

Bando, taking a tunnel that veered right, discovered multiple bodies crushed, slashed, and dismembered. Remembering the aftermath of the Jedi in combat, he cautiously traversed the hallway, eventually finding an exit to the surface. Taking the exit, he surfaced and made his way back to their original entry point to wait for Jinx.

Jinx, taking a tunnel that veered left, was met with rubble and dead bodies. Realizing that radiation was interfering with comms – and that he had no protection against it – Jinx made his way back out to leave, only to find himself falling to another sublevel as the corridor gave way. Surrounded by bodies, he picked up a broken datapad that had one site on it’s cracked screen. Looking at the datapad, Jinx felt a growing pit in his stomach expand: He saw himself, in full clone trooper gear, engaging Bel Iblis’s rebels, and realized that he had been cloned!

As he explored the area, he quickly dodged blaster fire as he exited the room! Cautiously identifying himself, he peeked out to see a female Imperial in an admiral’s uniform collapsed on the ground, weakly holding a blaster in one hand and clutching her abdomen with her other. Stating he was with Grand Moff Kaine, he approached the woman to make a health assessment, and was not pleased with the result: blaster scorch burns, a cauterized hole in her abdomen consistent with a lightsaber, and a bad case of radiation exposure.

Scrambling back up to the surface, Jinx met back with Bando to instruct him to get out of the blast zone to call for help to their location: he found the target, but she needed immediate help. Bando quickly ran off to get help. After trying to comm mulitiple areas for assistance – and finding none due to the recent battle – Bando commed Tiali onboard the ship. Explaining the situation to Lt Casilda – and explaining how little he cared about Duros’ opinion of them – Camilla let him know help would be there in a few minutes. He proceeded to turn back around and try to rejoin Jinx.

As Jinx was waiting for Bando, he noticed the area getting darker. Looking up, he saw the Arquitens approaching his position – and opening fire on scrambled Duros defense fleet fighters. As they arrived, Tiali commed Jinx, letting him know that something spooked the New Republic fleet and that they left to intercept something on the edge of the system. Escorting Ciri and Tamren down to the injured Imperial, Jinx helped assist with her evacuation. As they were all making their way back to the ship, Bando returned…and finally received a comm from Fiar: He was coming in hard…and the devil was behind him.

Fiar was seen in the distance by Bando, driving a sputtering landspeeder and looking frantic as it sputtered to a stop. Fiar quickly left the speeder and began sprinting at Bando, waving his arms like a crazy man. Bando, thinking Fiar was being his usual annoying self, paid no mind until he saw something in the smoke: a blade of green plasma, quickly moving towards Fiar.

Realizing Fiar was being chased by Kantor, he ran and intercepted Fiar, picking him up and bounding back to the ship. Finally noticing the commotion, Jinx quickly pulled himself up to the cargo hold and frantically looked for a weapon. As Bando made his way up and a crewman was trying to get Jinx a gun, they all saw the Bounty Hunter – with rocket propelled jet boosters – engage the Force User. A stream of blaster bolts pinned down Kantor, and an unleashed stream of microbombs dropped covering his eventual exit. As the ship left, Jinx and Bando both saw sights that terrified them: Jinx, seeing multiple blades of green in the smoke and a verifiable wind tunnel as Kantor Force-sped away, realized that multiple clones were here and were as skilled in combat as Kantor; Bando, seeing the bounty hunter fight the Jedi and leave alive, realized that protecting Fiar just became far more dangerous – the Clone Wars Bounty Hunter Cad Bane had returned with his eyes set on the bounty on Kantor…and Fiar by extension.

As the ship left orbit, Fiar quickly calculated a jump to the Corellia System as Ciri told them they needed to get the Imperial to medical facilities within a day or she would be dead. Bando and Camilla piloted the ship out of orbit, and ran into another chilling sight: Lando’s Rebel fleet engaged with 3 Venator Star Destroyers. The Venator’s launched their ships, and the protagonists were horrified to see over 200 ARC 170s launch from the Venators. Flying with pinpoint precision, the ARC 170s made quick work of one of the Corellian Corvettes and quickly had the Mon Cal ship pinned down – thanks to redundant shields, it was holding but just barely. As they saw the Rebel fleet break formation and prepare to jump, they all had a realization: Fiar felt the sickening feeling of being in an echo chamber, where commands were being directed to unknown individuals in a voice dripping with command, and sounding far too similar to his own for comfort; Jinx fought off the enticement of the battle trance he felt previously on Kantor’s ship, and realized why the pull was so strong: All the crew members on the Venators were clones of himself…and Hexx; Bando saw the remaining Corvette attempt to ram the Venators to cover for the Mon Cal cruiser to escape…and saw it melt away under the bombardment of over 200 proton torpedoes impacting simultaneously.

The crew quickly jump to hyperspace with the cover of the Rebel Fleet retreat and the explosions from the Corellian Corvette.

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Chapter 56: As You Wish

After meeting back up with Fiar – uncharacteristically dressed in dark hooded robes and given a wide berth by the native populace – Jinx proceeded to drown his sorrows with more booze as they all awaited the meeting with the Grand Moff.

Eventually summoned by Undermoff Antilles, the protagonists were lead to a meeting with the Grand Moff. While in transit, the Undermoff made mention of her political standing being compromised by the protagonists’ actions and Naboo as a leading cause of her inability to provide further assistance to the Queen.

During the meeting with the Grand Moff, the protagonists got the lay of the land from the highest ranking individual in the Pentastar Alignment. With their fleet of capital ships depleted from combat with Warlords, depletion from combat, and losing the recruiting efforts, the Grand Moff was unflinching in delivering a rather blunt assessment of the Pentastar’s military. The Grand Moff also dropped mention of a new starfighter initiative, and was adamant yet vague on the Pentastar using Rebel-affiliated starfighters. As the meal concluded, the Grand Moff pitched a proposal to the protagonists: in addition for assistance on off-books missions, he would be able to offer another alternative to resettlement outside of Dantooine and Borosk. With the offer made, the Grand Moff left the meal and the protagonists to debate, which ending in Jinx’s arrest.

The following morning, an emergency meeting of the Moff Council was held to determine the settlement of Naboo. With the Queen giving her blessing for the protagonists to look for alternatives, as both Dantooine and Borosk were rather unpalatable, Jinx reached out to Undermoff Antilles. In exchange for owing her some additional favors, the Undermoff agreed to implement the Grand Moff’s resettlement plan. With a quick vote called after the afternoon break ended – and the arrival of 2 additional handmaidens to the Naboo Queen, the Naboo people were officially settled onto the Pentastar Alignment planet of Vykos. As the protagonists left, Bando noticed the identify of one of the handmaidens: Tamren Feign.

With the settlement underway, and their ship being refitted in the Bastion spacedocks, Jinx had a series of individuals interrupt his evening meal. First, he was interrupted by the arrival of a handmaiden, who revealed herself to be Morag. Morag, after insinuating Hexx may not be as dead as Jinx believed, let Jinx know that strange tidings were happening in the Core, and to be careful – owing the Grand Moff favors was a dangerous game. As she left, and before he could bite into his steak, Jinx received another call on his holo: Alwyn Sirana.

Jinx had a tense holocall with Alwyn, giving and receiving barbs regarding the Outer Rim Confederacy Fleet, the actions of “Kantor” and his apparent duplicates, the Alderaanian orphanages, and the fate of Miriam. As Alwyn concluded the call, he wished Jinx the best of luck, and asked that if he came across any information or genetic material of any of the "Kantor"s out there to pass along the information to Alwyn. Alwyn’s final reminded rattled Jinx a bit, as Alwyn left with the cryptic note that Jinx should remember who his friends are…and who has always dealt straight with him. With his appetite gone, Jinx shoved away the steak and departed the restaurant.

Waking up early the next day, the protagonists started the preparations to leave Bastion. Before departing Bastion for the ship, Jinx received a call from the Undermoff – a mysterious benefactor had paid off his monetary debt of over 22 million credits in full.

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Chapter 55: To the Brink

As the protagonists arrived at the Pentastar Alignment’s borders, Jinx and Bando came out of hyperspace to see a very unpleasant sight: an Imperial Star Destroyer being surrounded by over 20 Corellian Corvettes over the planet of Borosk.

After the arrival of the 10 Dreadnought cruisers, the Corellian Corvettes broke off and departed the system, leaping into hyperspace in the direction of Wild Space. After the enemies dissipated, the protagonists rendered assistance to Captain Rykan Kaine of the Star Destroyer “Bastion”. Spending 3 days helping fix the ship, the protagonists discovered that the shipyards at Borosk were crippled by the attack and that the Bastion had suffered previous combat damage before arriving at Borosk. Departing once the Bastion was returned to combat readiness, the protagonists made their way to Bastion for the negotiations, scanning planets along the hyperspace route.

As they arrived in Bastion, the protagonists left to arrange for the talks and explore Bastion. Bando spoke with Re’na, attempting to ascertain her position in the Exchange and discovering nothing as she evaded all his questions. Jinx, on the other hand, had a very morally taxing day on Bastion.

After drinking heavily at Sygnus Bulva’s establishment, Jinx woke up the next morning with a stunningly attractive yet oddly disconcerting woman in his apartment, sporting a cybernetic arm and grilling Jinx on his new companion Fiar and any instances of meeting any Jedi. Departing him with a notice that Fiar will be under their investigation, she gave him back his personal holocron and wished him a pleasant day.

With his day starting poorly, he went to a meeting with Bando, the Queen of Naboo, and her senior staff as called by Undermoff Mathis Antilles. After receiving a stern lecture regarding their actions in Naboo causing galactic incidents and bringing less than 10% of the expected populace, they were notified that the terms of Queen Seramie’s people were going to be renegotiated between the Grand Moff and the Queen of Naboo.

After the meeting with the Queen and the Undermoff, Jinx and Bando left to meet with the Grand Admiral, Octavian Grant, to discuss Jinx’s personal fleet of 10 Dreadnought Cruisers. Discussing the situation in purely military terms, Octavian described the current tactical situation of the Pentastar Alignment – with Zsinj’s rumored demise, the galaxy erupted into more chaos and warfare spilling over into every corner of the galaxy – and his desire to obtain the Dreadnoughts for his fleet to secure a border. Bando then proceeding to ask Octavian about the events on the station, receiving an answer from Octavian regarding the history of Imperial Grand Admirals and his non-political leanings during his military career, and a hint of a difference in military options between Octavian – a supporter of starfighters in combat – and Kaine, a supporter of the capital ship philosophy. Jinx left the meeting with the need to speak to the Queen regarding the Dreadnoughts and political leverage, while Bando left curious as to the rogue Imperial Grand Admiral Zaarin.

As Jinx met with the Queen, she starkly pointed out the blood money used to buy the ships and how the new deal with the Pentastar Alignment is shaping up. The Pentastar was offering either Borosk – a border planet prone to invasion, with large strategic importance, that would grant Naboo a large degree of automony – or Dantooine, which would be more defensive but less natural resources and more Pentastar overview of the Naboo by the sector’s Moff. With the Dreadnoughts as a leverage point, she was going to develop a new strategy for tomorrow’s negotiations.

As they left the meeting, Jinx received a comm from Miriam, summoning him to the Venator. Once he arrived, Miriam explained to Jinx that she arranged for the delivery of the over 8000 Alderaanian orphans to the Pentastar Alignment for resettlement with the people of Naboo, with the added caveat of Jinx owing Strahn a favor and his assumption of Hexx’s 12 million in debt to Tamren and an additional 2 million for resettlement. With Jinx feeling bombarded and belittled, he stormed off to head back to the Arquiten, with Tolwyn and Jasmine both enjoying his misery and making sure to get their personal digs in at Jinx.

The night ended with Jinx and Bando being summoned to the Inquisition Temple, meeting the High Inquisitor to discuss Fiar and the nature of Force Users in the Pentastar Alignment. Explaining Fiar’s importance to their future and his role in determining Kantor’s actions, she indulged their questions regarding her philosophy towards the Force. She explained her view on Morality and the Force, and cited instances of Jedi and Sith corruption, callng them religious zealots and highly dangerous.

With the additional details regarding the Force and the Pentastar Alignment’s Inquisition, Bando and Jinx left to return to the Arquiten, only to receive a comm from the office of the Grand Moff summoning them to his office for a discussion.

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Chapter 54: Deals and Devils

After arriving in Enarc after a hastily plotted emergency jump to avoid the escalating conflict around Naboo, the fleet of Queen Seramie was greeted to yet another uncomfortable sight: more ships coming in their direction.

With the speedier ships arriving first, the protagonists noted that a flotilla of Star Destroyers was approaching their position. With the Queen providing details around Enarc – the planet was the origination point for the Trade Federation blockadge decades ago and currently is run by the Corporate Sector – Jinx determined that they ran into fleet reinforcements from Zsinj.

With their ship being hailed as the Star Destroyers – 3 Imperial Star Destroyers, 2 Interdictors, 2 Victory Star Destroyer, and a Super Star Destroyer – Jinx spoke with the captain of the Super Star Destroyer broadcasting as “Iron Fist”. The spokesman – a rather corpulent and jovial-appearing human male with a handlebar mustache and wearing a white uniform – asked Jinx to declare their intentions in a polite and civil manner. With Jinx relaying their flight from Naboo and giving them sensor scans from the battle – slightly altered by Bando – the evacuation fleet was allowed to leave as Zsinj’s forces leapt to Naboo.

After the remaining ships arrived, a holocall was set up between the captains of the respective ships to determine course of action. With Jasmine pointing out that Enarc was not friendly and the Star Destroyers could return at any minute, it was determined to make a jump to Bannister Station to take inventory and resupply.

At Bannister Station, the protagonists determined the rather unfortunate situation they were in. Their ships were overstrained on life support, having more than 150,000 more people aboard the ships than they were designed for, they had low amounts of fuel, and they had to feed over 250,000 people without access to any of the funds in the Naboo treasury or Queen Seramie’s war chest.

Boarding the station, Jinx and Bando made a deal to purchase 200,000 credits of fuel for the ships to get them closer to the Pentastar Alignment – with the issue that the accounts did not have 200,000 credits and they needed to find a way to pay (or steal) the fuel by next morning. With options dwindling, Jinx spoke to Tamren and Harden about extending lines of credit, but found that Tamren’s resources were strained and any assistance would be costly to the Queen once they arrived in the Pentastar Alignment. He dismissed Harden’s offer of assistance as she stated it would take weeks for ships to arrive. Acting on off-hand information from Harden, Jinx then went rather reluctantly to Miriam to inquire if she could embezzle any funds from the Outer Rim Confederacy, as they were already burned by Patren Elrood and the hole was beginning to seem insurmountable. She then put Jinx in a morally difficult position: she could access the funds – roughly 60 million credits – but it would come at the cost of bankrupting several charities that were supporting Alderaanian orphans. Seeing no other option, Jinx had the accounts drained.

The next few days were spent attempting to right their respective ships. With Jinx being fed the messages to Miriam from the charities and orphanages panicking over the lost funds and taking care of the children in their care and the Queen of Naboo refusing his acknowledge his presence, Jinx began drinking heavily. Bando and Fiar began planning out routes to get to the Pentastar Alignment and the resources needed for each path, purchasing 5 days worth of food and supplies. Jinx was dragged out of his stupor by Tolwyn, as he assembled the protagonists to discuss their worsening life support situation and the urgent need for ships – and they needed to purchase them before Alwyn could locate and take back the funds.

Jinx once again asked Harden and Tamren for assistance with the fleet, only to find Harden had a very oversized asking price and could not get enough ships in total and that Tamren had no available ships for an unspecified reason. Jinx then reached out to contact Strahn – hoping that an enemy of Alwyn could be a friend of his – and made a deal: 10 ships able to carry 150,000 people for a deal at 50 million credits. With no other options available or palatable, the fleet made it’s way to Abregado Rae to take command of the ships.

As they met with Strahn and his contact – a man named Billey – they exchanged the credits and took command of the ships promised: 10 slave-rigged Dreadnaught-class cruisers with matching all dark grey plating and generic colors as ship names to match the new IDs of each of the Queen’s ships as provided by Tamren. As they left, Strahn concluded a side deal with Billey involving the finder’s fee that Jinx paid him of 100,000 credits….much to Jinx’s disgust.

Boardings the ships, Bando noted they predated the Clone Wars in technology, and the slave rigging was somewhat inefficient compared to the CIS work he observed, but that the ships were fueled to 70% capacity and had enough rations – albeit of the nutrapaste variety – to more than keep the armada fed and fueled for the journey.

With their fortunes slightly improved with the addition of both cargo capacity and armament, the now sizable if outdated armada of Queen Seramie leapt into hyperspace from Abregado Rae, trusting in the astrogation coordinates plotted by Fiar and going through the Unknown Regions, avoiding the Deep Core and the war-torn Core Worlds as they made the 3 week journey to the edge of the Pentastar Alignment.

News from the Holonet:

Amaren Vel’s forces drove Queen Soruna’s forces underground and Moff Panaka is presumed KIA as Keren was bombarded from orbit

The Outer Rim Confederacy has branded Queen Seramie and her forces as a pirate faction and accused them of abducting a high ranking member of the Outer Rim Confederacy: Miriam Tharadon

Corellia and Brentaal have fallen to the Rebellion, which has begun branding itself as the New Republic

Zsinj’s forces have begun withdrawing back to his territy as fleets belonging to both the Rebellion and the Imperial forces loyal to Coruscant have began making concerted attacks on Zsinj’s territories that appear to be either fortutitious in their planning or jointly coordinated.

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Chapter 53: The Inept Spy, the Reluctant Soldier, the Hapless Traveler and the Impatient Maiden Fair

After the protagonists met with Tolwyn, they set out for their respective tents to ponder how to proceed with the 3 factions pulling at Seramie. However, they were quickly brought into the many machinations transpiring around them.

Soon before morning, Hexx awoke to the unsettling sight of a protocol droid staring at him. Stating that Hexx needed to come with him immediately, the droid did not hesitate to heavily stun Hexx when he took too long to comply with getting dressed. As he was hauled out to a speeder and taken out of the command area, Bando noticed the behavior and moved to intercept, but he was a moments too late and lost the droid.

As Bando attempted to find Hexx, he discovered that a number of droids fitting the description were being sent to Keren on orders originating from Captain Panaka. As he made his way into the city to investigate and collect “defective droids”, he determined from a hapless militia recruit bearing Panaka’s colors that over 30 droids were in the immediate 20 block vicinity of himself. Resolved to find the droid and Hexx, he proceeded to start rounding up droids.

As Bando was searching Keren, Hexx woke in a dark and wet cell. After many attempts to free himself from his bonds, he was dragged from the cell by the same protocol droid and carried deeper into the area. As he was unceremoniously dropped, he stared into the dark area, trying to make out details. As he noticed that the droid slipped away, an unfamiliar voice started making inquiries as towards Hexx’s motives, and offered him a proposition: in exchange for his freedom, a new identity, and a ship to call his own, all they asked was he deliver a droid to the command center of Seramie’s forces. Hexx agreed to the individuals terms, and left the area in a makeshift droid hauler repulsor lift and a particularily uncooperative astromech droid.

Meanwhile, as Hexx was making his way back into town, Bando uncovered a plot to infiltrate Keren in his investigations of the missing droids as he overhead a telling conversation in a Gungan spa. Racing to his repulsorlift sled, he was blown back and lost control of his functions as the sled and the 2 protocol droids on it exploded most violently. Being strapped into a chair in the spa, he was interrogated by a rather massive Gungan soldier. As the Gungan left to get orders from his Boss, Bando overhead from the mysterious Boss that Panaka was on to them and he needed to cut and run. With Bando attempting to free himself from the bonds, he heard something unexpected: the Gungan soldier opened fire on the human collaborators in the spa, stunning them and giving chase to those that managed to leave.

Working at his bonds, Bando was halfway done when he heard the Gungan come back…and proceed to use a slugthrower to execute the unconscious humans. Freeing himself as the Gungan was down to 2 survivors, he engaged the Gungan in a fist fight. After neither side was able to gain control, the Gungan switched to shooting the remaining humans and was able to kill 1 of the 2 survivors before Bando was able to snap his neck. Taking the survivor with him, Bando roamed the neighborhood looking for transport. While doing so, he was caught up in a series of explosions, as he saw the protocol droids walking into buildings…and detonating. Remembering similar tactics used by the CIS, he intervened and saved some civilians nearby as the salon they were in exploded. With all the survivors he could find and fit on his commandeered repulsorlift, he headed back to Keren to brief Panaka.

As Bando was dealing with the explosions in Keren, Hexx and the droid arrived at the command center. As Hexx attempted to distance himself from whatever was going to transpire, he was approached by Jasmine Kole as she was walking with a group of soldiers to meet with Panaka, Tolwyn and Aban which he was pressed into attending the briefing. As he entered the tent, he overhead the droid identify himself as being owned by Hexx as he trundled into the command tent. With his eye on the droid, Hexx was able to spring into action as what he presumed was a CZ droid opened his dome and proceeded to launch out a series of Thermal detonators!

Hexx quickly ran past Panaka, dragging Jasmine along as he tackled Tolwyn and pushed them out of the command tent before the thermal detonators exploded! As he watched the explosions, he noticed a few odd things happen: Panaka survived 2 thermal detonator explosions thanks to a personal shield he deployed, and Aban looked to deflect a thermal in her direction high into the air. Looking around briefly, he saw that the droid made his escape….and saw that the other factions were making a move on Seramie’s base!

As Hexx dodged the attacking ships and Bando rushed back into the command center, chaos broke out all around. With a disintegrating command structure, Bando took command of the forces and ordered heavy guns to secure Keren and the lighter infantry to reinforce the command center with himself. Bando arrived to see the Arquiten cruiser launch and proceed to fire upon the attacking vessels as he ascertained that the command center was hit…and remembering how they found Seramie, quickly left for the medical facility. Blocking his soldier escort from additional harm, he managed to find Seramie and proceeded to try to comm everyone. As he did, a Naboo N-1 fighter intercepted a proton torpedo heading straight for the med tent.

Meanwhile, Hexx used the chaos and confusion to escape the command center unnoticed, sending a comm to Bando that he was going away and that he needed to look after Jinx. Escaping to the designated rendezvous, he met with a cloaked figure at a Launchpad. As the figure lowered his cloak, Hexx noticed that he was identical to Kantor. The figure presented Hexx with a new identity, his new B Wing ship, and an astromech droid. As Hexx boarded the ship, he overheard Kantor’s message on a holocall: “All is proceeding according to plan, Master”. He fired up the engines, and left Naboo.

As Hexx was leaving Naboo, Bando attempted to find Jinx and find out what he was doing. He eventually got on the comm with Jinx, Bando was apprised of Jinx’s situation. As he was going to sleep, he noticed a hooded figure in the encampment and investigated the individual. As he got closer, he almost got a clear view of the individual, but then all he remembered was waking up hours later in his command tent as the assault was transpiring. He also informed Bando that when he went to find Hexx, the med techs were examining the body: he was apparently killed with a knife strike sometime late in the evening. As he left to meet with Bando, he was thrown by the explosion of an errant Starfighter shot that struck Hexx’s tent and saw from the ground the N-1 starfighter destroyed by the proton torpedo. They both made comments at the arrival of reinforcements: a Venator cruiser appearing out of hyperspace almost in atmosphere intercepted 2 Carrack cruisers moving towards the command center, an Acclamator cruiser approaching from the mountain range near Deeja Peak and unloading AT-TE and artillery, and 1 Venator and 2 Victory Star Destroyers broading O.R.C. identification arrived and entered atmosphere above the command center

As Jinx was approaching Bando’s position, he saw Bando take off in pursuit of an individual. As he closed the gap, Bando informed him that he saw Kantor in a crowd of individuals. As they both pursued him throughout the base, dodging explosions and soldiers, they cornered the individual and proceeded to stun him after an extended fight, as the individual was proclaiming innocence and tried to stun Jinx with a pistol.

Dragging the new individual they believed to be Kantor to Tolwyn’s Acclamator for questioning, the battle slowly died down as the command center reestablished itself. Their investigations lead to a series of discoveries that further muddled the waters. The individual who looked identical to Kantor gave them his name as Fiar, a space transport astrogator, who was vouched for by Jyren Syrus as she dropped the illusion of Aban, revealing herself as masquerading as Aban on the ground as the real Admiral was leading her Venator back to Naboo from Brentaal. Fiar also had a connection to someone they met previously: he claimed to have been raised by an adoptive Wookie family on a transport vessel, and his description of his father matched the Wookie navigator that was on the Marauder Corvette. Also, they were informed that the factions were accelerating their courtship of the Queen, who needed to make a decision by the next morning as their position was being compromised on the planet. And Jinx was informed that Miriam was showing signs of a pregnancy that coincided with their last visit together.

Discussing amongst themselves – Fiar was released to their custody and Tolwyn ordered both Jinx and Bando to safeguard him from bounty hunters looking for Kantor – Bando and Jinx had a heated discussion on which side to back: Bando was a proponent of the Pentastar Alignment’s plan, while Jinx was supporting the Outer Rim Confederacy’s plan. The discussion was continued after they were summoned by the Queen to her personal quarters, where she took their counsel in stride before complicating the situation.

As Bando pitched the Pentastar’s plan and Jinx Alwyn’s plan, Seramie revealed that the real Queen did in fact die on Naboo during the bombing that started the civil war. She was the designated decoy Queen, and was pulled out of Naboo by Panaka by mistake. Panaka knew she was not the real Queen, and was threatening to reveal the information if she did not back his proposals to wage a guerilla war on Naboo, causing any agreements she would make null and void. She also informed them of the conditions from the Pentastar and the Outer Rim Confederacy: the Pentastar Alignment plan would dissolve the monarchy on Naboo, but she would be given a seat on the Moff Council and Naboo would have representation in the Senate, while the Outer Rim Confederacy plan would involve her marrying Alwyn and unifying the Naboo and Alderaanian people as they journeyed to a new planet.

Still resolute in supporting the Outer Rim Confederacy’s plan, Jinx left to speak to Miriam regarding the conditions set forth for the Seramie while Bando talked with Tamren. As Jinx was detained and given a run around by the deck officer on Miriam’s Venator, Bando had a long and detailed conversation with Tamren, who had an intricate and detailed board with projections and probabilities for courses of actions in her stateroom. As Bando asked his questions, Tamren responded in a very business-like nature: the resources the Queen would bring to the Pentastar would influence their end of the deal as the Undermoff would have a variable amount of political capital, they did not have the resources available to lead an evacuation of Naboo as they did not bring a military contingent like Alwyn’s faction did, and that if they needed additional resources from the Pentastar Alignment, the line of credit would have to be eventually repaid either politically or financially.

Jinx, meanwhile, undertook the initial steps to causing an intergalactic incident. After meeting with Aran Tharadon on the Venator, Jinx noticed that they were making plans for a military invasion of Naboo, including Keren, and became convinced that Miriam was being held against her will. As he made a rather inelegant rescue of Miriam, he was informed by Miriam that he was running later than she liked and was indeed here against her will. As they made their way to the hangar bay, they realized their predictament: the hangar bay doors were closed due to the lockdown.

Contacting an annoyed Bando, Jinx pleaded for assistance. With his droid body’s lack of slicing skills, he asked Tamren for assistance. Tamren informed him that Harden would be able to help, but they would owe her. With optiongs dwindling, Jinx took her assistance, and the lockdown was quickly lifted and they departed for Tolwyn’s ship.

As news spread that Miriam was “abducted” by Jinx, Aran Tharadon blamed Panaka’s forces for the kidnapping. The situation escalated into a factional war as loyalists to Panaka fired on Outer Rim Confederacy’s Star Destroyers. At this time, Fiar managed to finally gain Bando and Jinx’s attention, drawing their focus to the city of Keren. As Fiar explained that multiple drones had began flying into the city, the city erupted with cybernetically enhanced and enslaved citizens flooded the encampment.

As they made a tactical withdrawal from the battle, Bando brought Seramie and her entourage on board and pleaded with Tamren and Harden for any assistance in evacuating the people of Keren. As Tolwyn recalled his AT-TE and artillery support, Aban led her Venator to the city and began evacuating the citizens. As Bando was cutting a deal with Harden, additional forces arrived in system consisting of 3 Lucrehulk battleships. Explaining that Naboo had them since the Trade Federation war, she notified the captains that she was relieving Moff Panaka from command. With only one of the ships acknowledging her orders – as Arix was captaining the vessel – the other 2 engaged the Star Destroyers with Panaka’s loyalist fleet. As the Zsinj and Rebel factions brought their ships to bear as Tolwyn’s deterrents were evacuated, the situation quickly spiraled out of control. Evacuating the remaining citizens of Keren – approximately 250,000 – and thoroughly overstraining the life support systems on the ships, they made their way off Naboo. With time a factor – along with being pinned in by the other forces – they noticed Fiar was in a trance like state, feverishly plotting an astrogation path from Naboo to the closest system. As he finished, ships were slave rigged to the Arquiten’s astrogation system and the ships leapt to hyperspace as they broke atmosphere.

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Chapter 52: The Paths We Choose

As Hexx conferred with Bando and Jinx on the merits of buying each particular ship, the group settled on purchasing the Arquiten cruiser – The Glory of the Republic – and made their preparations to depart.

Jinx and Hexx left to wrangle up the remaining crew. Speaking to B1-Ex, Jinx found out that Pentag in an exclusive bar. As Jinx tried and failed to recruit Pentag – balking at his 4,000 credit a month retainer – he came to the realization that Pentag was a mole in the cadet corps: he was there to ensure the recovery of the schematic at the deep core research station. He then had to make a detour to pay a fine for an incarcerated B1-Ex – it was a 2000 credit fine for a bodyguard droid to not be supervised by his owner. Hexx, meanwhile, bribed the remaining cadets to retain their services and shore up their morale. He also got a distress call forwarded to him from the Kuat Shipyards – the escape pod crash landed on Sarapin Prime and needed rescue. With their services secured, he began prepping the Arquiten for departure…Tamren was adamant in their departure time.

With B1-Ex in tow, Jinx headed back to the cruiser for departure. He quickly realized that they were not going to make the deadline, and he commed Hexx to give a status update. Tamren was on the bridge, and informed Jinx he would be left behind if he did not board in time. As Jinx looked for solutions, B1-Ex asked him if he could pilot their repulsorlift taxi better than the droid. With Jinx nodding in the affirmative, B1-Ex calmly shot the droid and shoved him out the taxi. A police chase developed, with Jinx pursued by 2 cruisers as he raced to the ship. B1-Ex sniped one of the police officers pursuing them, and Jinx used the diversion to skip out the open airlock and throw himself through the vacuum of space to land in the ship’s airlock, where they found Pentag already aboard. With the rest of the crew aboard, they made their departure from the station.

As they were leaving, Tamren quietly counted down from 10. As Jinx looked at her puzzled, Hexx quickly saw the reason. As she reached 0, a fleet of warships, including Zsinj’s Super Star Destroyer, appeared from hyperspace and made a move on the shipyards…and presumably the incomplete Super Star Destroyer in drydock. Hexx put in a course to Fedalle, and jumped to lightspeed. As they left, Tamren reminded them of the urgency of their mission and how precious time was to their cause.

As they were en route to Fedalle, Hexx dropped the ship out of hyperspace and plotted a course to Commenor over Jinx and Bando’s objections to chart a more direct course. The trip ended up disasterous, as they lost 2 days in travel and interrogation as the Imperials used an Interdictor to pull them from hyperspace and tractor them. With Bando pulling on his diminished former skills as a slicer, he was able to divert attention from the Pentastar Alignment and obfuscate the trail enough for them to escape.

As they were berating Hexx for a poor decision, Hexx used that time to deflect the conversation to the escape pod on Sarapin Prime, informing them at their former crew was on the pod and needed rescuing. Consulting amongst themselves, with Tamren advocating for leaving them behind for the greater good of Naboo, Hexx gave the decision to plot a course to Sarapin Prime for a rescue operation.

As they arrived in Sarapin, Hexx piloted the ship down into the atmosphere while Jinx balanced the power requirements and Bando tried to create a rescue apparatus. Arriving at the shuttle pod, Jinx was failing in his ability to keep the myriad of systems powered, as the extreme heat from Sarapin was overloading the shield while Hexx struggled to keep the ship in position at a very awkward angle. Bando, having rigged up a harness, observed the situation from the cargo/micro hangar bay, and quickly realized their time obstacle: the escape pod had a hyperspace ring around it, and it was sinking into the lava flows. If the hypermatter erupted, their ship could be destroyed!

Moving quickly, Bando and B1-Ex managed to dislodge the hatch on the back of the pod and Bando leapt down to the escape pod. Surveying the situation, he discovered 6 unconscious bodies in clone trooper armor, and 4 crates. Opening a crate, he discovered it was filled with clone trooper armor. Using a set of it, he threw it onto the ship to judge his accuracy, and then began to throw the survivors aboard the ship. After tossing 2 individuals up to the ship, he slipped and threw the 3rd off the mark, causing the individual to land in the lave flow and die almost instantly. He then felt the escape pod shift and start sinking quicker than anticipated. Grabbing the remaining 3 people, he leapt from the escape pod to the ship, barely making it aboard. With their 5 survivors on board, B1-Ex shut the blast doors and Bando commed Jinx to immediately raise the shields.

With little warning, Jinx diverted as much power as he could to the shields – further diminishing life support in favor of increased engines and shields – as the hypermatter ring ignited. The force of the explosion propelled the ship upwards and blew out their shield emitters, but Hexx was able to use the momemtum to chart a course off world. With their 4 survivors – the 2 cadets, Tiali, and Ciri – aboard and the body a deceased crew member from the Maurader Corvette, they headed to Rendili for repairs.

Arriving at Rendili, Jinx purchased repair parts for the shield emitter on the Arquiten cruiser and they began to install the components. Jinx also made the decision to deplete the protagonists funds completely to purchase a x1 hyperdrive at the Rendili shipyards and have it installed for 100,000 credits over the course of 5 days. As Tamren confronted them on the delay, Jinx took the blame for the delay. He was surprised when Tamren rewarded him with a 10,000 credit datachip for his forward thinking in upgrading the drive and his personal stake in the ship.

Leaving Rendili 5 days later with a much faster ship, the protagonists headed for Naboo with all possible haste. Stopping at Bannister Station once more to refuel, Jinx took out 50,000 credits as a further loan from Tamren and the Pentastar Alignment to purchase fuel, along with arms (sporting rifles and sporting blasters) and armor (blast vests and helmets) for the cadets while Bando researching his droid frame and the one weapon that he seemed to keep remembering: the Magnaguard’s anti-Jedi weapon, the Electrostaff. Discovering it was made near the Pentastar Alignment by a now-defunct corporation owned by the InterGalactic Banking Clan, he resolved to find one available as soon as possible.

Upong arriving at Sovereign Dawn in Naboo and meeting with Arix, the protagonists were directed to the city of Keren on Naboo, as Moff Panaka convinced Queen Seramie to lead from the front in her fortified position on Naboo. Arriving at Naboo, they were greeted by the site of the 3 fleets at a stand-off: Zsinj’s fleet of 3 Victory Star Destroyers, the Rebellion’s fleet of Corellian Corvettes and Assault Frigate dreadnoughts, and Seramie’s more rag-tag fleet, referred to in some circles as the Pirate Queen’s Fleet. After bantering with Jasmine briefly, Hexx took the ship down to land, suffering minor hull damage from the anti-air artillery firing from Amaren Vel’s stronghold of Theed.

As they landed, they went through debrief with Seramie’s forces and discovered a few things, not to mention that Aban and Tolwyn’s aliases were abandoned. Bando discovered, upon a thorough scan, that the Naboo droid technicians were unable to find any trace of organic matter in his chassis and that his respirator had no actual function. Taking a copy of the scans, he quickly left to ponder just what had happened. Hexx discovered that Seramie’s forces had a substantial shuttle and transport fleet grounded near Keren that was heavily guarded. Jinx met with Pentag at an underground hidden cantina, where he shared a nerf steak and whiskey with Pentag, discussing the political situations and Pentag’s own personal stake in the fight. He overhead individuals from all factions discussing the situation, and determined that Seramie was viewed as a non-factor in the war, with the major forces of Amaren Vel – called the Usurper King by his enemies – predicting a decisive battle soon, and the forces of Queen Soruna – called the Puppet Queen by her enemies – predicting a long drawn out war resulting in their success. They both derided Seramie as the False Queen and discounted her ability to affect the outcome.

Meeting with Tolwyn in a hidden bunker in the dead of night, the protagonists were informed of the stakes in the upcoming negotiations. Seramie was unsure of how to proceed, and had differing viewpoints presented to her. Her chief advisor, Moff Panaka, was advising her to pursue risky gambits to snipe out the leadership from the other factions as he did decades earlier with the Jedi breaking the Trade Federation Embargo. Tamren Feign was advising her to withdraw from the conflict as a Queen-in-Exile and lead her people to the relative safety of the Pentastar Alignment at a to-be-negotiated cost. And to complicate matters, Tolwyn informed them that Miriam Tharadon was arriving in the morning as an envoy from Alwyn Siriana, there to offer the queen a chance for the disaffected citizens of Naboo to join Alwyn’s Alderaanian exiles in their plans to leave the galaxy proper and head deep into the unknown regions for a rumored jewel in the vastness of space, isolated from the war and a chance to live in relative peace. The protagonists, as being intimately acquainted with all parties, would be looked upon to provide a crucial guidance to the queen in the days ahead….

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Chapter 51: A Long, Slow Ride

With an impending station core breach in 20 minutes, the protagonists set towards ensuring their escape from the space station. With time being a factor, they elected to explore the hangar below rather than attempt to head back up the turbolift shaft. Comming Tiali in the escape pod, Bando gave her the order to abandon the freighter and make for the Marauder Corvette.

Hexx lowered himself down into the hangar below to investigate the ship that they saw deep in the hangar while the rest of the team prepared the wounded to be lowered. He quickly realized that their was a large amount of particles obscuring his helmet’s sensors, limiting his ability to explore the spacious hangar. After nearly getting lost in the hangar, he decided to focus his efforts on the ship. A brief examination showed that the ship was missing the boarding hatch – the ship was open to space – and the ship was not powered.

As Hexx commed the team to head down while he explored the ship, 5 cadets lowered themselves to the hangar. 4 were able to make the descent flawlessly, but one lost control and fell part of the way, hitting – and slightly damaging – the ship on his way down and fracturing his leg. The 4 cadets were then dispatched to secure and explore the hangar.

Meanwhile, Jinx and Bando created a harness to lower the injured below. With B1-Ex and Cadet Pentag’s assistance, they lowered the 2 injured cadets and Jinx down to the hangar before heading down themselves. However, Bando was not as successful.

As Bando attempted to lower himself on the rope, he lost control of the rope almost immediately and fell over 50 feet. He roughly impacted the ship’s cockpit viewport, ruining the cockpits structural integrity and gravely wounding himself.

As time began to run out, Lt Casilda announced her discovery of an airlock in the hangar bay. Roughly opening it, they discovered an escape pod attached – that vented all atmosphere upon it’s opening. Loading everyone in the escape pod, they jettisoned from the space station and tried to put distance between themselves and the station.

As Cadet Pentag informed them that the other escape pod from the freighter just….vanished…Hexx had to pilot a very sluggish escape pod against an oncoming debris field. Although they were struck multiple times, the escape pod was able to make it to the rendezvous with the Marauder Corvette. Quickly tractored into the hangar bay, the corvette leapt to hyperspace as more debris was beginning to spread throughout the area.

As they were in hyperspace from the station to Kuat, the protagonists settled in wearily. Hexx spent his days despondent over the loss of his ship and the grave injuries the team suffered and the destruction of 1 skipray and the blind hyperspace jump of another, while Jinx bonded with the Marauder’s crew and got a tattoo to commemorate the battle with the survivors. Bando was placed in carbonite until they could get him to a medical facility, and 2 of the cadets succumbed to their injuries. The crew of the freighter’s escape pod was presumed KIA, and treated accordingly. After meeting with the Captain – who informed them that they would have to provide payment for the mission in another fashion, as they had to cannibalize the sublight engine for spare parts – the listened to the roll call for the fallen crew members and had a drink in their honor.

Upon arriving in Kuat, Harden Farr accompanied Bando’s carbonite-frozen body and the medics as they left for treatment, and Jinx and Hexx got small rooms afforded to them by Tamren. As they departed, Tamren informed them that they needed to get a ship soon, as they had to leave Kuat when her business was concluded.

As the days went on, Jinx healed and Hexx explored Kuat, having little luck or desire to find a new ship. They were eventually summoned by Harden to her quarters to pick up Bando. As they arrived, they were greeted by an not unexpected but still surprising sight: Bando as a Droid!

Harden explained that Bando’s physical body was too heavily damaged to fix, and she had a few of her contacts assist in turning Bando into a cyborg utilizing some alien expertise and an old Magnadroid they just happened to fortuitously had lying around. As Bando introduced himself to the team – in a protocol droid voice, to their amusement – Harden bid them farewell. She did drop mention that Bando owed a considerable debt to the Empyrean Way Trading Company for their services that he would need to repay, but she would be able to lend the protagonists further funds to purchase a ship if they so desired. After a vague statement of consideration from Hexx, they left Harden’s suite and explored the station.

With Bando adjusting to his new form’s limitations – finding his cognitive and fine manipulation skills diminished but with increased combat skills – they made a brunch meeting with Tamren the following morning. With Hexx recovering from an ill-advised request for Bando to do a one legged hop ending in a swift kick to his head, Jinx and Bando explored the station. They eventually tracked down B1-Ex and Cadet Pentag in an underground fight area, where Kuati nobles were wagering on death fights between creatures…including alien slaves. They did not stay long, leaving the fight after seeing a Trandoshan scalp a still-breathing Wookie and Jinx almost vomiting.

The next morning, Jinx and Hexx met with Tamren as Bando was instructed to wait outside with the rest of the droids. Tamren informed them that in no uncertain terms they needed to leave the station within the next 18 hours – if they were unable to find a ship, she would need to obtain one at her discretion that they would then owe the Pentastar Alignment for the cost of the ship. She did mention that if they were able to find a ship in the meanwhile, she could secure them a loan to cover it with various strings attached and disclosed up front. Jinx weighed her offer with that of Harden’s the previous night, informing Tamren of the competing offer and requesting a few hours to see what he could find before committing.

As Jinx and Bando left to find a new droid vocabulator, Hexx tracked down a Mon Cal black market contact for ships who could provide him some ships. As he provided Hexx with the ships and cost, Hexx paled at the cost – the cheapest ship that could hold more than 10 people and be relatively fast would cost a minimum of 3.5 million credits. After failing to get in touch with Commenor – and discovering the planet was blockaded by the Rebels – he informed Tamren that he would like to work with her on finding a ship and securing the loan. Upon hearing that he chose her offer over Harden, Tamren sent Hexx the details she had on a few ships.

Out of the 3 ships she provided, Hexx deliberated on which to pursue. He quickly eliminated one option – an aging Lucrehulk transport – as too slow, too crew intensive, and too costly, he asked Tamren for tours of the remaining 2 ships: an Arquiten-class cruiser for sale by a Kuati Noble, and a Crusader-class Corvette for sale by one of the auxiliary shipyards surrounding Kuat.

With the rest of the protagonists in tow, they explored the 2 ships, noticing the Arquiten’s similiarities with the Venator-class star destroyer and the Crusader’s more Mandalorian utilitarian approach. With the specs for both ship in hand and the rather high price tags – 8 million for the Crusader and 7.75 million for the Arquiten – they were left with an hour to decide by Tamren as they were 3 hours away from the departure deadline.

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Chapter 50: A Way Down They Go

As the Citadel approached the Deep Core research facility, the protagonists began preparations. Hexx prepped the ship for launch, Bando spent time in the Kolto tank, and Jinx trained with the cadets. Shortly before the final approach, they were summoned to Captain Bellanor’s ready room for a mission debrief where they were given assignments. An unknown commander, wearing standard spacer garb, was given instructions for launching the boarding crews, while a representative from the Skipray Blastboat contingent was instructed to engage the base’s defenses and provide cover for the freighter and boarding pods. The Kismet’s crew was instructed to board the ship and acquire the data regarding high secret schematics in the station’s databanks.

As the corvette dropped out of hyperspace, the Kismet – with its’ unexpected contingents of fresh recruit soldiers and 2 stowaways from the Citadel – prepped for launch. As the ship approved, the skiprays launched first, with Hexx taking the Kismet out after them. As they flew in formation, the Citadel ejected a large amount of space debris to confuse sensor readings. As they noticed the debris, Tiali picked up starfighters – TIEs of some sort of configuration – launching from the station with a seemingly endless parade. They instructed B1 to fire, and he sent a turbolaser shot at the space station, causing Hexx to instruct him to switch to the laser cannons for the starfighters.

As the group approached, the TIE fighters opened fire in groups of 7. The Kismet weathered the first wave relatively unharmed, but caused Bando to join B1, Tiali, and Hexx in the cockpit to bring the shields back online. The TIEs made another pass that they were able to evade major damage, and the crew noticed the corvette launching it’s boarding pods and the Skiprays laying down covering fire. Then, their luck took a turn for the worse.

On the next pass, the TIE fighters hit the Kismet with a barrage of fire. After Hexx was able to evade shots from the first 5, the 6th TIE fighter managed to blow out the shields and cause light damage to the hull…and the 7th TIE fighter’s shots punched straight through, perforating the ship and damaging the reactor core. As the ship was suffering catastrophic pressure loss, the cockpit, escape pods, and medical bay doors closed and sealed. Jinx, being in the cargo hold with the recruits, scrambled to contain the damage while the crew in the cockpit realized they were stuck – Tiali was not in a set of Clone Trooper armor and could not survive the vacuum if they opened the hatch.

Jinx quickly discovered his only option was to eject the reactor core before systems went critical. The resulting explosion, while taking out quite a few TIE fighters, also sent the Kismet off course and only on dwindling emergency power. Hexx managed to use the thrusters to push the ship at a shuttle hangar bay on the station, but B1 used the vast majority of remaining power to take a shot at the force field covering the bay. He managed to shut it down, and Hexx was all remaining power to minimize the crash landing.

After they landed, the crew scrambled to recover from the situation. Jinx was faced with a dilemma: They had a one shot portable force field that they could rig up to allow for either the cockpit to be opened and Tiali to don a suit, or the medical bay to be opened and Ciri could suit up. Jinx quickly prioritized the medic over the comms officer, and used the item to assist Ciri over Hexx’s vocal objection to the strategy. The recruits and Jinx then fanned out to secure the hangar and try to find life support – the entire station seemed to not have any life support and barely any gravity, but still seemed to have power. Meanwhile, Bando and Hexx tried to brainstorm ways to get Tiali to safety with a dwindling oxygen supply and dropping temperatures.

After moments of frustration, Hexx grew despondent and more angry at Jinx while Bando wracked his brain for solutions. Determining – with Ciri’s help on the comms – that she could survive vacuum exposure for longer than she could lack of oxygen, he devised a plan to open the door and quickly put an armor helmet on her to allow for her to breathe, buying time for him to get her to the airlock in the diner/escape pod and have the 2 members of the Citadel’s crew that where holed up in there bring her into the escape pod. The plan went fairly well – B1 suffered some servo damage assisting with forcing open the unpowered doors – and Tiali managed to get into the escape pod and recover from the exposure. Bando and Hexx then left to join with Jinx and the privates.

While Bando and Hexx were taking care of Tiali, Jinx and the Pentastar soldiers engaged a seemingly endless horde of droids that bore a stark resemblance to bulky stormtroopers. They minimized casualties, but took some damage from the self-destructing droids causing one private to get taken back to the ship for medical assistance. In exploring the level, they discovered more of the droids plugged in to a charge socket…that activated once they detected life signs. After eliminating the droids, they elected to avoid the majority of the other rooms. Bando did discover an odd console with empty racks that he was unable to access, and Hexx discovered 2 observation lounges to his confusion.

Everyone met back up at the turbolift shaft…with no turbolift. Camilla took 3 other soldiers with her and attempted to head up the turbolift shaft. They quickly lost traction and tumbled down the shaft, avoiding major injury but unable to head up to the top level. Hexx and B1 decided to go up to explore, but also ran into complications. Hexx was unable to get traction and tumbled down the shaft, catching himself halfway down. He them attempted to use B1 to pull him up, but strained both servos on B1’s chassis, causing the droid to drop him the final length of the shaft. Private Cadav then attempted to head down to provide technically assistance at Hexx’s insistence, but lost his footing and fell, suffering major damage from the fall.

Jinx then managed to make his way up the shaft with a line secured by B1-Ex, with Bando’s line attached him to himself. When he managed to reach the top of the shaft, he noticed a countdown begin. He strained mightily to reach the console to try to override it, but could not make headway with Bando’s weight on the line slowly him down. He reached the console as it reached 0, but did not notice any other explosions or other events. While distracted, the weight on the line from Bando started pulling him backwards, eventually pulling him down the shaft with Bando. Both Jinx and Bando suffered damage from the fall – Jinx suffering more than Bando – but joined back up with the group exploring the lower level. The sniper, Pentag, managed to scale up the rope to the top level, and explored it with B1-Ex.

Establishing a connection with Bando, B1 and Pentag discovered the computer core room…where they say the data being systematically erased. B1 and Pentag, were able to find one of the encrypted files and attempted to recover it. With their slicing skills insufficient, B1 elected to rip out the drive portions that contained the file.

Meanwhile, in the lower level, the group found a hangar bay locked down and some unpowered datacores. With the soldiers and Hexx’s assistance, they managed to unlock and start the opening of the hangar. Bando and Jinx powered up and researched the data, with Bando able to pull 5 files from the system before the rigged power conversion fried the cores. As they removed the cover, they did see the shape of a transport lower below…with more distance below that they could not scan.

They were then joined by B1 and Pentag, who informed them that it looks like the station’s cooling system shut down for some reason…and based on B1’s calculations, they have 20 minutes before the core causes catastrophic damage.

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Chapter 49: A Bumpy Ride

Boarding the Marauder Corvette, later discovered to be called “Citadel”, the protagonists were struck by the state of disrepair of the ship. The hull looked battered and combat scarred, the crew was feverishly working to repair multiple power conduits and sub systems, and the crew seemed to be far less disciplined than the Imperial crews they were expecting to deal with on their voyage.

Settling in rather roughly, the protagonists met the captain of the ship – Zannah Bellanor – who gruffly informed them that they would be departing as soon as the rest of the entourage hitching a ride docked on their ship. Explaining that they were dropping them off at Kuat, the captain highlighted the route they were taking and the rules of the ship before unceremoniously dismissing them to carry about whatever it is they wanted to do. Bando investigated the hangar, learning that they were unable to get solid sensor readings from the hangar, leading him to postulate that they were set up in a hangar with smuggler compartment setups.

The rest of the diplomatic attaches arrived shortly after, along with a “guard” of 10 cadets. The ship quickly went into hyperspace, and their journey began.

The leader of the diplomatic group introduced herself as Lt. Tamren Feign, and gave out introductions to the rest of the team. Bando deciphered that 3 of the 5 individuals were non-government in allegiance, all belonging to the trading company Empyrean Way based off Bastion. After getting Tamren’s take on the negotiations and how it was to be set up, the crew headed back to their ship to rest; however, since the hangar had periodic and random bouts of losing artificial gravity, they did not sleep restfully.

Arriving at their first stop – a space station shadowport in the Cademimu sector known as the Bazarre – the protagonists explored the space station. Bando and Hexx attempted to find a faster set of sublight engines, but had little luck. They lost one hour attempting to navigate the more complicated and arcane social nuances of the Cademimu people, and when they did find the buyer they were too late. The merchant had just sold his last set of engines – a black market military grade thruster package – about 30 minutes before, and refused to give the buyer’s name out of professional pride. Jinx had better luck in his more selfish pursuits, finding and purchasing a set of customized blaster pistols and an ammo belt and some other sundry goods. They met up again with Captain Bellanor and her crew, and boarded the ship to leave the station, after stopping at a hangar and picking up the purchases Captain Bellanor made while on station.

After their shopping excursion was complete, the ship went to lightspeed again – Hexx once again noted the exceptionally smooth transition to hyperspace the ship was making in spite of the ship’s state of disrepair – and they settled in for a trip to Coruscant to drop off one of the attache’s at Coruscant. After a brief few hours of panic where they thought B1-EX wandered off, they found him in the freighter’s makeshift target range with a few of the Citadel’s crew, shooting targets and swapping stories.

The protagonists split up during the short journey to Coruscant – far shorter than Bando thought normal – and explored the ship at their own leisure. Hexx met with one of the attaches in the Citadel’s starboard hangar bay upon a request, and spent the better part of the day examining the purchases – 3 skipray blastboats – and conversing and sharing stories with the pilots. He quickly determined that they did not have Imperial military training, and their behaviors and actions seemed more in line with typical Rebel or Pirate experience. Jinx met up with Lt. (J.G.) Camilla Casilda and the band of cadets from Dantooine in a larger cargo bay that they converted to a training site. Jinx took command of the cadets and attempted to drill them in Imperial Stormtrooper tactics, picking up a few of their eccentric behaviors in return. Bando tried to examine the odd configuration of the engine and the ship’s systems, but was rudely rebuffed by the Mon Calamari Chief Engineer before being summoned by Captain Bellanor. After a now-customary exchange of insults and rude pleasantries, Captain Bellanor offered Bando a deal: if his crew and ship would assist the Citadel in an off-books mission at a location in the Deep Core, she would provide to him arms, armor, and a set of sublight engines for his ship. Bando admired her tactics – assuming the armor and arms were confiscated from his ship at Dantooine, and she was the mysterious buyer of the last set of sublight engines – and agreed to undertake the mission as long as it did not affect their time table.

That evening, as Bando attempted to explain to Hexx and Jinx their side mission, he ran into some issues. After explaining the mission to Hexx, they both attempted to track down Jinx with little success as he was being profoundly unhelpful. They eventually found the cargo hold/training facility, and Hexx barged in after Bando sliced the door. Hexx was promptly knocked unconscious by a stun field emitted by the rigged door, much to Jinx’s amusement. Bando then walked in over Hexx’s twitching and unconscious body to address Jinx and the cadets. Before he could confront Jinx, he was baited into an altercation by one of the cadets. Responding in a typical Cademimu fashion, Bando attempted to punch the cadet, but failed spectacularily as the cadet managed to render him unconscious via a broken jaw before he could land his punch. Taking Bando to the ship’s kolto tank and discussing with Hexx, Jinx was informed of the side mission and their needed preparations for after arriving at Coruscant the next evening.

The following day was spent by Hexx going over the ship and preparing it for combat, Bando in a kolto tank recovering from his injury, and Jinx spending more time with the cadets. He was pleasantly surprised to see them change up the cargo hold to an obstacle/endurance course, and spent most of the day with the cadets as they took turns attempting to complete the course with little success.

As the ship arrived in Coruscant, another attache boarded a shuttle and left for Coruscant. With no one else disembarking to visit Coruscant, the ship leapt back into hyperspace towards a secret Imperial research station in the Deep Core.

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Chapter 48: Friends in Strange Places

Arriving at the planet known as Bastion, the protagonists were treated cordially by Captain Rykan Kaine – with a few notable exceptions. Hexx was kept as a prisoner, due to both his actions as a stowaway and the less than steller recommendations given by Bando and Jinx, along with Ryo Rey who reacted quite poorly to being detained.

After a meeting with the Captain and his command crew – along with a person Bando and Jinx quickly determined was an ISB-type agent – Jinx and Bando made preparations to arrive planetside for questioning, while Hexx was left alone with the unknown agent.

The agent asked a few probing questions of Hexx regarding his rescue of Arix and company, with an especially keen interest on the Force Wielder’s actions. Prying the truth from Hexx, the agent left the room, giving the stormtroopers authorization to release his restraints and get him cleaned up.

Shortly after, the protagonists were led to a hanger and boarded a Lambda shuttle for the capital city of Bastion, with various protagonists noting the TIE patrols, Golan weapon platforms, and a Super Star Destroyer in orbit.

Arriving planetside, they were taken to a very nice hotel and given their own rooms – very nice, but still restricted as they could not leave the room. Perusing the local holos, they attempted to glean some information regarding how the planet operated before debrief. They managed to ascertain that the Pentastar Alignment was in an expansion phase and reportedly needed additional laborers and workers, that the treatment of aliens was more egalitarian than in the Empire proper, and that they aggressively defended their borders but where not in open hostilities. Jinx also managed to glean that while their slant on the galactic events was negative, they were not outright lying in their portrayal of events.

After receiving a request for a dinner meeting with a Ms Antilles, Hexx, Jinx, and Bando left with plenty of time to spare to make their travel accommodations. Realizing the rather ritzy level of accommodations, they quickly imbibed expensive liquor and make inordinate demands for rare items as they arrived at the Alderaanian Sunset lounge and restaurant.

Making their way to a secluded booth, they soon met with Mathis Antilles. She introduced herself as an Undermoff in service of Grand Moff Ardus Kaine, and engaged the protagonists in conversation. Frequently offering to answer any questions regarding the Pentastar Alignment, she informed the protagonists that Grand Moff Kaine organized the Pentastar Alignment a few months ago in response to the state of the Galaxy proper. According to her, he founded the Pentastar Alignment with 4 other signatories and created a government blending the ideals of the Empire with some of that of the original Confederate of Independent Systems’ Parliamentary structures. Mathis also stressed the more egalitarian treatment of aliens and nonaggression pacts with various other powers as hallmarks of the Grand Moff’s leadership.

After answering their questions, the Undermoff steered the conversation towards Naboo and it’s civil war. Probing the protagonists regarding the state of affairs, she gently steered the conversation to the expected results of the civil war – according to Pentastar High Command, Queen Seramie had a low chance of winning the war and a virtually nonexistance chance of maintaining neutrality beyond a month due to logistics and military might. To that end, she made an offer to the protagonists: assist her in negotiating with the people loyal to Queen Seramie to relocate to the Pentastar Alignment in exchange for citizenship for the citizens of Naboo and safe harbor from their enemies.

Giving them until next morning to decide, she departed the lounge for other business. Deciding to sample the life of the planet before making a decision, the protagonists left for the casino in town – the Lucky Star.

Upon arriving, they sampled the local sample of citizenry. After a wild night – in which Bando took an odd strain of Glitterdust and had a very strange reaction – the protagonists learned that the treatment of aliens was far better in the Pentastar Alignment than other systems, but that came at a cost of increased Nationalism – it was not species against species, but the Pentastar Alignment against the other galactic powers. They also determined that there was no Black Sun or Hutt Cartel presence on the planet, but rather a new underworld player that went by an old group’s name – the Exchange.

After the casino event, the protagonists ended up in a rather seedy part of town and met with an underworld contact known as Double A – Amara Alleira. With Bando in the transport, Jinx and Hexx met with a notably cyborged human female and had a discussion regarding their underworld inquiries and lay of the land. Leaving with a message from Amara to “tell Mathis I said hello…and that it is feasible”, the protagonists were dismissed and led back to their quarters on planet.

The next morning, the protagonists met with the Undermoff to discuss her proposal. Putting forth their conditions – citizenship in the Pentastar Alignment, avoidance of being drafted into their military, and preferential treatment for Queen Seramie’s people – the protagonists agreed to undertake the mission. Given 7 days to prepare, the Undermoff granted them wider travel leeway and lifted the harsher restrictions set in place.

The protagonists used the 7 days to get back into a groove – Jinx, Hexx, and Bando utilized the shipyard facilities in orbit to retrofit their freighter – overhauling the power core, installing the smuggler bins and hooking up the weapons to the power core. Bando also researched the Exchange, and learned from his inquires that it was rumored to be an off-books arm of the government rather than a true criminal underground.

With the ship repaired, the protagonists set off to reassemble their crew. Ciri and Tiali agreed to come back aboard without much effort, but the protagonists soon ran into complications. Hexx had to pay 15,000 credits to secure B1-Ex’s release – he apparently shot and injured a Pentastar Alignment officer and destroyed a large amount of property before being subdued, and was unable to be free on-planet. Hexx was also able to reacquire the R2 and R5 droid units purchased by Jinx, but the old T7 model was scrapped for parts by the droid technicians. Ryo also declined to come aboard – she managed to obtain employment at a high end restaraunt on Bastion and elected to stay there a while, while they were unable to locate Re’na until the very last day – they noticed her hanging around the host of the parties at the Lucky Star, Sygnus Bulva, and Bando mentioned that she was most likely integrating herself into the planet’s Underworld.

Purchasing a few last minute items, including a culinary droid and some new clothing, the protagonists left Bastion’s orbit and made for the rendevous with the Undermoff. They arrived to the site of a Marauder-class corvette in an out of the way section of space that tractored them into the docking bay and it made preparations to go to hyperspace.

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