Star Wars: Uncertain Times, Desperate Measures

Chapter 71: Cross Purposes

As they arrived back at Ilum, there was no rest to be had. The fallout of their actions was immediate and pressing.

After being summoned to their respective vessels, the protagonists met back up on Strahn’s base to obtain transport. After Jinx’s quick change of clothes into regal attire, they were taken to their new ship: a Corellian XS-800 freighter named Distant Wind.

Taking off on the first leg of their excursion, the protagonists kept their respective missions mostly to themselves. What was shared by each of them was that Bando needed their help in obtaining an item in General Blackwood’s – Jinx and Hexx’s father- vault, while Jinx was heading to Bastion to extract Jasmine Kole and Hexx to Maelstrom to get Toolbox.

Arguing over their route, they made their way to Ansion to pick up a contact per Hexx’s request. As Hexx and Bando left to try and find supplies and research an item they found in smuggling compartments – and paid off a creditor of the former ship’s owner -, Jinx ran into their contact: a gaunt and strung out Morag.

As Morag prepped the ship to launch, Hexx and Bando scrambled back on board. They headed towards Aeten per Morag’s request (and Jinx’s annoyance), as Morag instructed them to head to Maelstrom first. After delivering the directives, Morag retired to her quarters and was not seen for the length of the journey.

From Aeten, they traveled to Yaga Minor. As they approached, their situation turned grim. Morag’s condition deteriorated, and after delivering to Bando the access codes for the ship to bluff their way past the fleet, she passed out. Jinx snuck her off to the medical bay, and determined she was at least malnourished, dehydrated, and on far too many stims, including taking them after an initial treatment for dehydration that drained their supplies. Bando convinced Yaga Minor to allow them to pass to their new location – Ord Trasi – after claiming ignorance as to the fate of Maelstrom.

With supplies low, Bando jumped to the next planet on the corridor: Entralla. Along the way, Jinx and Hexx succumbed to dehydration and malnourishment, leaving Bando to take care of arrangements. Taking advantage of Hexx’s situation, he obtained a cred stick for 25,000 credits and arranged a berth on the planet to buy supplies.

In a 3 hour window, Bando and to a lesser extent Hexx set off to resupply the ship. Bando was able to obtain a series of medical supplies, fuel, and weapons from various contacts on Entralla – both Pentastar Alignment and the rebellious Red Moon factions – but drained the credstick from Hexx and tapped into alternative sources.

With the new items in tow, Jinx was brought back to barely conscious while Hexx recovered on his own, with a newly purchased Medical Droid keeping an eye on Morag as the ship careened towards the next stop: Muunilist.

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Chapter 70: Relics of Empires Long Dead

As they explored the base, Bando took point to limit the cold exposure. Exploring the base, they found odd Imperial emblems – black and red rather than black and white – and the base a disaster – rooms were unpowered, computers destroyed, and centuries of neglect rendering anything in the base unusable.

Eventually discovering the ruined fusion plant, Bando copied the data from the backup geothermal reactor while Jinx and Hexx tried to repair the conduits. He discovered that the final battle was between 3 Force users – an unknown acrobatic alien female with a green blade, a Mirilian wielding a blue blade, and the red, bony alien wielding a red blade. The red bladed Force user was cut down while the generator was destroyed as collateral damage, and recognized the features of the alien as similar to the undead he fought previously.

As they prepared to leave the base, they got notice from Strahn that a few captains were having a heated “debate” on his casino…and that they were a topic of discussion. Heading back to the casino, the protagonists investigated why they were so important…and found out some interesting information.

Wyndaam and a group of his crew was in a three way argument – in Mando’a – with Zannah Bellanar, the Cadimimu captain of the Marauder Corvette and her pirate crew, and the Jhorin entourage of 8 clone troopers, 4 Mandalorians, Jenadahl, and Crispis – who Bando recognized was an actual Clone Wars clone who appeared to be in prime age. Hexx was floored by a moment – having just now meeting the 12 copies of Jhorin – and took some time to process the situation.

As the discussions went on, the protagonists split up and discovered what was going on. Wyndaam noticed that the scouts sent to the unknown regions noticed some odd activity – a battle in the sector between unknown parties, and was requesting the protagonists aid in discovered the threat – and potentially dealing with it. Jenadahl – who Hexx discovered was Jinx’s Aunt – and her paramour Crispis – were notified by their agents in the core that a stockpile of clones was at risk at being destroyed by a strike force of Pentastar Alignment and Rebellion fleets. Zannah, meanwhile, notified them that Alwyn was calling in his markers and needed their assistance in rescuing a group of Alderaanians on Cademimu that were being detained by the Pentastar Alignment.

After hearing the pitches, Bando pushed to go rescue the clones and discover more about the clone army of Kantor, while Jinx pushed to rescue the Alderaanians. It was eventually decided – reluctantly by Jinx – to rescue the clones.

The Recuscant cruisers departed for Roxuli, and the protagonists saw the Jhorins prepare for a war – no ordinance was held back, and they were operating with extreme prejudice. Arriving in the system and meeting with 3 Golan platforms, Hexx and Jinx piloted a LAAT with 50 clone troopers to the cloning facility, while Bando HALO jumped with over 100 Mandalorians. With the capital ships providing cover, the base was assaulted.

The protagonists were surprised by the brutality and carnage they witnessed. The clone troopers were moving with extreme speed and efficiency, taking little casualties as they captured the command center. Bando went with the Mandalorians to rescue the clones, and blasted their way into the cloning centers. Electing to not rescue the Wyndaam clones, Bando started the process of bring the clones out of stasis and went to meet up with Jinx in the command center.

As he arrived, he saw Jinx frantically attempting to save all the data he could as a slicing program was terminating all data. With Hexx at the ship scavenging droid parts – coming away with only the arm gun of a B2 battle droid – they compared notes. They discovered that the order for the clones initiated from Serenno, the droids were built by Baktoid Armor Workshop, the base was leftover by a small section of Kaminoans that were using the isolation to breed custom strains of clones, Ithorrians were being conscripted to do the clones of Jhorin and Wyndaam, and that the researchers were all fitted with the cybernetic implants used on Yag’Dhul that terrified Jinx.

As Bando took the head of an Ithorian with the implant, they were being recalled to join the fleet. Hexx took the LAAT into space, pushing the ship beyond it’s capabilities as they went to the source of a distress beacon: the debris field from a shattered Golan and the Mandalorian Recuscant cruiser that rammed it. Rescuing the 3 survivors, they found the Jhorin reinforcements: 2 Mandalorian Corvettes joined the fray, and they left to meet with the command ship.

Meanwhile, Bando and the shuttles evacuated the facility as explosives were left behind, and arrived at the flagship, which he quickly recognized as a CIS command ship of the Providence-class. As they docked, he noticed that the ship had a dreadnought locked in a tractor beam, keeping it in place between themselves and the Golan platform.

After everyone arrived, the ships left to head back to Ilum. Taking stock, they lost one Recuscant cruiser, with the Jhorin clone known as “the Dwarf” sacrificing both himself and their stockpile of Beskar to take out a Golan. The clone troopers also were requiring medical assistance – in observing them, Jinx noticed they seemed to be taking a high dose of Adrenals that would take a toll on their health.

When they arrived, the fallout of their actions became apparent.

Wyndaam returned, with the Y-wings escorting him destroyed. He came back with a blue skinned alien familiar to the protagonists, and with the data that the Chiss outpost was utterly destroyed…and the attackers were an unknown species that had Chiss prisoners of war encased with transparisteel bubbles along the hull, daring their opponents to attack them and kill innocent civilians. The blue skinned aliens had no survivors of important, and a dangerous foe was on their doorstep.

Strahn, before departing, passed along messages from the core: Zannah and her crew were able to rescue 500 of the 1000 Alderaanians on Cademimu. The Pentastar Alignment ships opened fire on the settlement from orbit, under the guise of taking out a war criminal. In response, Alwyn took his entire fleet into the Pentastar Alignment’s Relgim sector, notifying them that he had “taken the Maelstrom”. Miriam was announced as the new leader of the sector, deposing the Naboo Queen in Exile Seramie via military coup, and announced their succession from the Pentastar Alignment…and that the protagonists were not welcome.

As the ramnifications of their actions set in, the protagonists stopped to catch a breath, wondering just what awaited them…

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Chapter 69: The Cost of Heroism

As everyone spent time recuperating, they spent their time on gathering information.

Hexx explored the ships, finding another clone of his in command of the Lucrehulk named “Mr Antilles”, and quickly determined he was a gangster. The prices on the ships were ludicrous, the goods mediocre, and law enforced by “Friends of Antilles”.

Jinx visited the Recuscant cruisers, being goaded into running through an airless series of corridors to find Bando. As he explored the ship, he ran into the Mandalorian versions of Jhorin, along with their clan leader, Jenadahl Jennaris. In speaking with her, he was floored to realize she was his aunt…and that his cousin married Wyndaam. Off put by the crass treatment of the clones embracing Mando’a culture, he left to find Bando with “the Dwarf”

Arriving at the Dwarf’s workshop, he found a squat yet exceptionally muscular clone of himself repairing Bando. Finding the “dwarf” to be a bit more friendly but still standoff-ish, he left with a repaired Bando to meet back up with Hexx.

Bando, having been repaired by the Dwarf, retrieved his items and left, bemused at Jinx’s interactions with his clones.

Meeting back up with Hexx, they discovered the arrival of the final captain: a mobile asteroid space station. Boarding the station, which Bando realized was the fabled “Port Nowhere”, or at least the most current iteration of the mysterious shadowport, they discovered not only was Strahn the captain, but the entire station was a mobile casino.

After a brief meeting – in which Bando was pulled aside by Jenadahl and given command of a small attack ship/transport – Wyndaam informed them that the captains were meeting on Mr Antilles’ Lucrehulk for a long, multi-day meeting and were not to be disturbed.

As the day went on, they found themselves with idle time on their hands. Hexx, having explored Ilum, proposed that they spend their down time investigating a small base that he found buried in the ice. Leaving with Bando’s ship – which he promptly broke the hyperdrive by colliding with the hull of a Recuscant – they left to investigate the base.

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Chapter 68: Big Damn Heroes

As Wyndaam, Hexx, and Jinx investigated Ilum to determine what was causing the corruption, Bando rallied with the Mandalorians to prepare a rescue in the event things went sideways..which they did.

Heading towards the cavern, Hexx crash landed Wyndaam’s ship into an icy cavern. As they made their way out of the destroyed shuttle, battered and winded, they heard the distinct howls of the beasts known as Tua’Kata…and a large, earth-shaking series of stomps from a massive creature heading their way in the snow storm.

Maxil, having placed a tracker on Wyndaam’s shuttle, enlisted the aid of the Mandalorians to help rescue Wyndaam…after a long series of “negotiations” with her mother. With the clan putting plans in motion – including a special shuttle made by the “Dwarf” Jhorin with Beskar plating and lightning rods for the storms – a group of Mandalorians assembled for glorious battle…with Bando in tow.

On planet, Wyndaam, Hexx, and Jinx fended off the Tua’Kata horde…but their initial burst was quickly blunted by superior numbers. They were dealt a series of injuries, but took heart as they saw ships coming down in the distance…only to see a large part of them break off to head down the ravine towards the large stomping sound. A lone Mandalorian came to their aid, blasters akimbo. Besting the Tua’Kata, the wounded warriors braced for the large creature.

Meanwhile, Bando and the Mandalorians engaged the large creature, over 50 feet tall. Not doing damage directly, the sustained blaster fire from the hovering Mandalorians slowed the beast, and began damaging the thick, chiton armor. Bando, however, noticed a clash of colors behind them – red and green blades were clashing. Heading out to investigate, he bit off more than he could effectively chew.

Bando found himself in the middle of a battle between the young Twi’lek Padawan, and what appeared to be an animated corpse wielding a ghostly red blade. The ghost blasted the Twi’lek with Force Lightning, and as he was moving in for a killing blow was engaged by Bando. Armed with his Beskar blade, Bando abandoned his distrust of the Force, using all he could muster to break the guard of the creature and bite it. As he delivered a crushing blow, he was surprised and concerned as the creature began reforming the skeleton…and was blow back when the Twi’lek padawan charged the spirit..and they both erupted in a force explosion, leaving nothing but a broken lightsaber and tattered robes.

As they engaged the large creature – visibly weakened by the Mandalorians – Wyndaam, Hexx, and Jinx were infused with the Force. Newly invigorated, they engaged and defeated the large beast, which dissolved into the ether.

As Bando – battered, weary, and damaged- limped into joining the rest of the team, a ship was dispatched to pick up the protagonists as they watched the storms of Ilum clear out and a peace descended onto Ilum.

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Chapter 67: Perspective Matters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 66: A Typical Landing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 65: From Bad to Deplorable and Back Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 64: New Ship, New Mission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 63: The Games Being Played

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Chapter 62: Hexxed Again

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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