Star Wars: Uncertain Times, Desperate Measures

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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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