The Hard Way
Ahryou and Kyuss go to meet a contact in The Orange Lady, a cantina in Nar Shaddaa's Corellian District with a particularly violent nature. The contact, "Greystone", toyed with them for a short time before allowing them to follow him into the back of the tavern. There, they were introduced to Dvorak, a Gank who lost an arm during a recent op for the Besadii kajidic. Greystone informs the pair that he'd like them to escort the Gank to a location in the Private Sector to meet Tergo, a Hutt representative of Durga Besadii Tai; he has called a taxi to take the trio, so the job should be easy. There are three toughs keeping watch for Dvorak and his escort - a Nikto, a Klatooinian, and a Weequay - but the group is savvy enough to slip past them and get into the cab, thanks to Kyuss' smooth talking and interest in vibroswords. The three take off, thinking they're safe, but it isn't long before the hired toughs realize they've been duped, and are after the party on their swoop bikes. And it looks like they've got some pretty heavy weapons mounted on them, too!
A series of blasts damages the taxi, but the one-armed Gank returns fire, causing the Klatooinian to lose ground in the chase. The Weequay attempted to drop under the taxi to take out its repulsors, while his Nikto associate made a more daring move. Bringing his swoop alongside the airspeeder containing their quarry, he tried to leap on top of the cab. Unfortunately, he slipped and plummeted downward. Kyuss, in a sudden fit of morality, attempted to save the falling thug, aiming his ascension gun at the tumbling being. In a long shot, he succeeded in sticking the synthrope to the Nikto, but the sudden tension of the cable snapped the poor fellow's back, killing him instantly. The Gotal taxi driver managed to come to a skidding halt on the landing platform where the trio was headed - a loading dock for a warehouse in the lower Private Sector - then immediately bolted with the three passengers disembarked, shouting something about billing their employer for repairs as he sped away. The two remaining thugs landed in short order, and a fight ensued, with Kyuss jumping the Weequay while the Klatooinian exchanged fire with both Ahryou and Dvorak. The trio tried to open the doors, but during the combat the access panel was damaged, causing the door to catch before it had even opened thirty centimeters. Ahryou ducked inside the dark warehouse and fired from the shadows while Dvorak hid behind a stack of crates, using one to balance his shooting arm, since he was firing a rifle. In short order, the two thugs were defeated, and Dvorak unceremoniously killed the Weequay with a headshot coup d' grace, despite protests from Ahryou.
The Sakyian medic used the manual release to open the door to the warehouse, only to find the trio now faced Urgot the Hutt and a handful of his thugs. Tergo lay sprawled, face down, on the floor behind Urgot's replusor lift, apparently murdered by Urgot and his followers. After a brief verbal exchange (during which Kyuss managed to infuriate the Hutt by not turning Dvorak over), the party discovered the Hutt wanted the cybernetic commlink in the Gank's head, which (unbeknownst to the rest of the group) has been repeating a series of numbers and letters in Dvorak's head. Urgot had the lights turned on throughout the warehouse, revealing catwalks teeming with mercenaries ready to slay the group on their employer's command. The group surrendered. A red-hued Twi'lek saw to the disarming and capture of Ahryou, Kyuss, and Dvorak, telling the former two they were headed for the Steel Pit while the latter was to watch his escorts die at the hands of seasoned gladiators. While in their cell and awaiting their fates, Urgot's protocol droid approached and told them to watch for a signal, and that their weapons would be waiting for them. Before the droid left, Kyuss and Ahryou noticed something odd about the mechanical: it seemed to be wearing a holographic mask.
In the Steel Pit, the Force Adept and the Medic faced off against a vicious-looking Besalisk named Sark wielding two vibro-axes, one in each pair of hands. The pair seemed hopelessly outmatched until, after a dangerous swing, he leaned in and said to watch for the signal. Playing it safe, the Besalisk, Twi'lek, and Sakiyan put on a show for the screaming crowd until the ray shield flickered off. Urgot made a quick escape out the back of his box seat while Dvorak faced off with his Twi'lek guard. Kyuss climbed up into the box, vibrosword in hand. As it turns out, it was the droid who shut down the ray shield and set their escape in motion. After dispatching the Twi'lek, the trio followed the protocol droid down a back hallway while Sark held off an oncoming horde of Gamorrean guards. The droid took them to their equipment - which, for Dvorak, included the cybernetic arm Tergo was bestowing upon him - and with two extra backpacks in tow, they made quick their escape in a stolen airspeeder.
Chased by more of Urgot's flunkies, the trio decided they would head for New Vertica by way of the Old Duros Sector. After taking a few hits, the group's airspeeder seemed doomed, so the trio crashed into a building. Fortunately, the ship managed to slide into a long corridor, then dropped two floors as it left a hole half a kilometer deep in the structure. Now in a building with no power or other utilities, the three needed to find their way out. Kyuss found a turbolift shaft, and they climbed down until they reached a stalled carriage. Outside the carriage, they found a hallway shrouded with crystalline webbing. They carefully made their way through the corridor until a group of four photon spiders attacked! Ahryou was dreadfully injured, falling to the ground unconscious. Kyuss pulled her back and together with Dvorak, they defeated the spiders. The rest of the way out of the building remained uneventful, save for spying a Durgolosk near the exit. Fortunately for them, the monstrous predator had just eaten something large and remained uninterested in the small morsels they represented. (There may have been more creepy-crawlies about, too, since the Old Duros Sector was once the home of a large zoo, the Duros Menagerie of Exotic Species.)
Once outside, they contacted Sark, who sent a local smuggler, Dorthal to pick them up. They were taken to the Red Light District, where a doctor patched them up and a cyberneticist attached Dvorak's arm.
A Tale of Two DroidsH3-X in The Dead Jedi, a cantina in the Little Corellia district of Nar Shaddaa. H3-X wished to hire the crew to transport an ancient astromech – a T7 model over four thousand years in age – to an undisclosed destination. Before the droid could spell out the offer completely, Tandrok, a Nikto thug working for the Hutt crime lord Urgot, arrived with six henchmen, demanding the group release H3-X to him. H'Lem, in a stunning bit of enlightened thinking, pulled Tandrok aside, telling the Nikto he's undercover for Urgot, and that his assignment is to follow the party until they find the T7 unit. The thug believed H'Lem's story, though he wasn't happy about it. Before leaving, he threatened the Weequay, telling H'Lem, “If you ever try to take one of my jobs again, I'll gut you.” Furious, he and his followers stomped out of the cantina.
Without bothering to find out what H3-X would pay them to do the job, the crew agreed. Led by a mouse droid guide, the five took a short walk through the grimy streets of Little Corellia. After some brief interactions with locals – including giving credits to a couple homeless folks – the party arrived at a bank of elevator doors leading down into The Undercity of Nar Shaddaa. (While much of the ground level of the Smuggler's Moon has been reclaimed by a strange, murky wilds, certain areas have managed to maintain a semblance of civilization. Many of these places are interconnected and known as The Undercity.) While speaking to an Evocii merchant at a makeshift marketplace, the group was approached by a warrior of the species who seemed rather unfriendly. He directed the group toward a place where Up Worlders gathered. The group, led by Kyuss, decided on a different route, and soon found themselves at the Salvagewerks, a smelting plant where scrap was processed and fashioned into usable materials.
At the Salvagewerks, they met Scamp, a young, articulate Evocii who told them they could get into the plant with the proper credentials. He claimed to know someone who had the credentials they needed – a human trader by the name of Merch – and promised to lead them to her. He took them to The Black Smoke Den, a cantina run by Iffun Bog, a Chevin. Prodded on by the group (and wearing Ahryou's cloak), Scamp sneaked into the cantina to point out Merch. While the party approached the trader, Iffun Bog chased the young Evocii off (while he still wore Ahryou's cloak). Merch turned out to be Sisiana Merchal, an entrepreneur from the Inner Rim who was looking for the T7 droid in order to sell it to a collector. She had run into some difficulty getting into the Salvagewerks, even with her credentials but – for a price – she gave the crew all the information she had, as well as her credentials. As the group set out to return to the Salvagewerks, an Aqualish named Sloskoth pulled them aside, telling them to be careful, as the Evocii were massing near the Slime Pits, armed and clamoring after something they were calling an Ancient Metal God.
The party returned to the Sledgewerks with no further issues, and Merch's credentials worked. They entered and in short order found the T7. Unfortunately, the droid appeared to be missing a geometric powerbus, an ancient battery system used in droids in millennia past. While fiddling with the droid, the group was beset by a furious plant supervisor, Lubian Ganderk, who believed the five to be spies from Galactic Salvage & Labor. Kyuss admitted as much, which infuriated Ganderk even further, and he called upon droid security to subdue and arrest the intruders. Two droid patrols approached from opposite sides, and the five responded with violence. H'Lem viciously sliced Lubian's throat, nearly murdering the man in one swipe. The fight was on! Both sides received heavy damage, but Ahryou proved up to the task, providing medical attention not only to her own companions, but to Ganderk, as well, patching him up. Despite taking heavy damage, H'Lem, Kyuss, and Waric fought one set of droids first to a standstill and then to pieces. Between Ja'nine and Waric, the remaining droids were pushed into a tight spot between some machinery, then blocked in by some fallen salvage. Threatened with his life, Lubian Genderk called the droids off.
Ganderk informed the group of a 2-1B droid who was recently seen taking a part from the T7. Of course, only another droid from the old unit's time would be compatible.
The party left the Salvagewerks with the T7 in tow, prepared to go find yet another droid.
Gods & Starships
As the group passed through the Evocii market, they met up with a droid. When H'Lem approached to interrogate it, it simply responded with a gruff "All flesh must be destroyed!" before shuffling off toward the Slime Pits. They decided to store the old T7 droid somewhere safe, since they thought they might see combat when going after the Ancient Metal God. After depositing the non-functional droid at The Dead Jedi (and haggling a bit with the owner, Miska Duli, to lower the storage price), they return - sans Waric, who had decided traipsing around the Undercity wasn't what he'd signed up for - to head to the Slime Pits. In the turbolift down, they run into three droids - an amiable protocol droid named IT-3PO, his companion R7 unit, and a monstrous escort that could only be described as a walking tank. After a brief conversation with IT-3PO during which the party learned that the Ancient Metal God was accepting willing sacrifices of flesh, the four ask to accompany the two droids to the Slime Pits to meet their deity. The droids agree and (after H'Lem fails in an attempt to steal something from the escort droid), they all make their way toward the meeting with the droid they believe has the T7's geometric powerbus.
Meanwhile, Dvorak had already been inserted in the droid gathering at the Slime Pits. At the request of H3-X, he'd made his way to the Undercity to observe the mass of droids gathering around an old Hunter-Killer droid, HK-23. The HK unit seemed to be sentient - and angry! - preaching anti-flesh rhetoric. The Gank does his best to blend in with the droids, and none of them seem to notice him milling among them. The Evocii, wanting the Metal God for themselves, attacked en masse, warriors and merchants alike pouring into the Slime Pits, swinging axes and throwing spears. The droids, armed with advanced weapons (and aided by Dvorak, who had to maintain his cover) began to slaughter the organics wholesale. The rest of the group arrived just as the combat ended; most of the Evocii lay injured or dead on the ground, or floating in sludge pools. The HK-23 and his droid cohorts were making their escape, taking a route that led to Trashtown. Ja'nine and Kyuss raced to a nearby landspeeder with a turret mounted on the back. While Ahryou began to triage the fallen Evocii, H'Lem waded into the fray, fighting off droids who are killing injured organics. Dvorak switched sides after seeing his previous companions, Ahryou and Kyuss, working against the droids.
Ja'nine took aim with the turret and brought down the speeder piloted by the Hunter-Killer droid. The smoke kept them from being able to see if the HK survived, however. More blaster fire (and swipes by H'Lem's vibroknife) ensued, and the rest of the droids began to fall. Kyuss put his speeder into gear and launched over the wreckage of the downed speeder and crashed into a fleeing HK-23. Unfortunately, the crash damaged a canister the droid was carrying, and glowing blue goo leaked out, affecting Kyuss in some unknown way. Dvorak arrived to remove the geometric powerbus, but might have damaged it in some small way when it was pulled from the Hunter-Killer. The party licked their wounds and gathered the spoils of war, including two speeders, one of which they traded with an Evocii merchant for some padded armor and a case of unmarked alcohol. (This later turned out to be 25 bottles of Whyren's Reserve, an aged Corellian Whiskey of no small value.) The group also approached Lubian Ganderk - who was nervous about interacting with them again, and rightly so! - about fixing the powerbus. They traded the remaining speeder for his help. He checked the geometric powerbus out, tinkered with it a bit, and returned it to them, ostensibly repaired.
They returned to The Dead Jedi and met up with H3-X. Together, they inserted the powerbus into the T7 unit, who sprung to life. Their job half over, the protocol droid directed them to the location of their ship, Sentinel Seven, an old gunboat located in a starship graveyard owned by Urgot the Hutt. There they were met by Tandrok and a handful of his cronies, but blew past them on their speeder. Tandrok gave chase, but not before the group could settle themselves into their old, beat-up YV-929. After powering up, Ja'nine flew the ship out of the hanger. H'Lem and Dvorak manned the guns, taking down Tandrok's swoop bike along the way. In no time, the ship had left Nar Shaddaa's atmosphere and plunged into space. They set a course for Bespin.
In Bespin Airspace, Sentinel Seven was met by armed cloud cars, which guided them into a suitable landing zone on top of Cloud City. H3-X informed the group that it would be two days before his contact (the individual to whom they would deliver the T7) would arrive, but that they should make themselves at home and relax in the meantime. Kyuss and Ahryou went in search of a black market source for a synthetic neuroparalitic and a place for Ja'nine to enter a swoop race, which led the entire party to the Four and a Half, a seedy cantina located off Cloud City's electrical system and The Grid. After briefly watching a bar brawl that had turned into something of a minor sport, and refusing to drink Ugnaught Spit, a drink for which the tavern is renowned, Kyuss approached a Herglic who was drinking at the bar. Between the Herglic and the cantina's owner, Bree, he finds someone who might be able to tell them a thing or two about local swoop racing - a Verpine named Zsastic. The insectoid alien drank and played Pazaak with Kyuss for a while as they discuss swoop racing.
In the meantime, Ja'nine searched for a contact who could provide them with the synthetic neuroparalytic Ahryou requested. She met up with a charming Chiss named Marwaan, who led her to a back alley to make a deal in private. Once there, he attempted to rob her. She gave him her twelve credits. It wasn't much money, but he took it and ran. H'Lem arrived at that moment, however, and took Marwaan down. The Chiss returned Ja'nine's credits and H'Lem talked briefly with him before letting him go. Inside, things were quickly going sour. A Barabel - a species known for their hatred of the Verpine - approached the table where Kyuss and Zsaztic were talking, and made some threats. Kyuss, defending his newly found friend, threatened the Barabel and the fight was on. It seemed pretty even - one hit was met with another - but Kyuss seemed driven. The power of the Dark Side filled him and he unwittingly channeled its power into his strikes, eventually snapping the lizard creature's neck with a single, powerful blow.
The episode ended with the group standing there in the Four and a Half, its owner firing a scattergun into the ceiling to get everyone's attention and stop what could have ended up in a much bigger, and much more deadly brawl.
Assassins & Androids
Kyuss, Ja'nine, H'Lem, Ahryou, and Dvorak were summarily kicked out of the Four and a Half by its owner, Bree, who now had to deal with a dead body and the possibility of the Wing Guard getting involved. Zsaztic, the Verpine engineer Kyuss had defended against the Barabel, was grateful for their assistance, and left with them, speaking with them along the way. They subtly let him know they were looking for a synthetic neuroparalytic - something Ahryou has been keeping an eye out for since their ship arrived at Cloud City - and he directed them to an antiques shop near Market Row. The shop was owned by an old Ithorian named Brevven who, after a little negotiation, said he was willing to trade the neuroparalytic Ahryou is looking for - a drug known on the street as Hardsleep - for some refined Tryptic. Tryptic, he claimed, was a personality enhancer that had become popular in recent days. He did warn the group that the Redshift Consortium has their hands in the Tryptic trade.
Ja'nine reached out to a contact, Commodore Bakker, the Twi'lek scoundrel leader of Bakker's Dozen, to whom she owed a favor. The captain, it turned out, was in Cloud City as well, and agrees to meet with them at Landing Bay 124A. She let Bakker in on their current goals, and he intimated that the Hutts have their fingers in the Tryptic trade. (This doesn't surprise anyone, as the Hutts have long been rumored to be peripherally involved with the Redshift Consortium.) Bakker told the group (minus Dvorak, who had returned to the ship) that the drug Tryptic is actually the refined slurry of a mineral called Tryptonite, a rock formed by the strange geology of the planet Baxxu, a planet hanging on the border of the western spiral arm of the galaxy and wild space. He offered to help them set up a lab for refining the product, should they have a source for the liquid slurry. Bakker also suggested Ja'nine move Sentinel Seven to 124A due to lower fees and easier access to Market Row and other more interesting locations on Bespin.
When the Twi'lek pilot went to retrieve their ship, she was informed by H3-X that the contact to whom they were to deliver Teesev had arrived early, and wished to meet with the group in Market Row to exchange the droid for payment. As they went to meet the contact, however, Kyuss noticed they were being followed by Marwaan, the Chiss who had attempted to mug Ja'nine. He recognized Kyuss from the bar brawl and strikes up a conversation, asking for the Twi'lek to teach him how to fight, especially that deadly finishing move. Kyuss informs the rest of the group about the Chiss, who skulked off after claiming he had a job to do, and Ja'nine informed him about the previous encounter with the young blue individual. Kyuss and Dvorak both spot Marwaan's Weequay friend. H'Lem secretly disarmed Marwaan, then tried to do the same to the Weequay, but failed. The Weequay turned on H'Lem angrily, but H'Lem managed to play off the attempted disarming as an accident. Marwaan, however, noticed H'Lem and approached, asking (with no small amount of frustration) what he was doing there, telling his fellow knife enthusiast he was going to ruin a job they were on. After a brief exchange, H'Lem discovers the pair of street thugs has been hired to protect H3-X and Teesev until the hand-off is made.
The contact met with Ahryou and Dvorak, along with the droids. Before the exchange could be made, however, a sniper (who Kyuss spotted less than a second earlier), fired at the Pantoran diplomat, piercing his chest. He fell to the ground, and as Ahryou saw to him, he whispered a mandate to protect the droids. Kyuss shared the sniper's location with the rest of the group, prompting H'Lem to take off running in that direction (after returning Marwaan's knife), and Ja'nine to steal a nearby Rodian's speeder bike to try and catch up to the fleeing assassin. Kyuss was the first to reach the location, only to find the building empty. H'Lem and Ja'nine arrived shortly afterward. After realizing the sniper headed out through the alley (and hearing him flee toward the landing bay by some incredible stroke of luck!), H'Lem and Kyuss set out after him, sending Ja'nine to the end of the alleyway to cut off the attacker's escape. They caught a glimpse of the killer once or twice - a red Twi'lek, by the look of his lekku - but he evaded them. Finally, H'Lem burst out of the end of the alley, only to discover the assassin hadn't come out yet. Kyuss, however, stayed behind when he noticed a spice-using vagrant wearing the same hooded coat the shooter had worn. He questioned the young human, and found the sniper had exchanged jackets with him, then disappeared into a nearby building. Ja'nine and H'Lem entered that building by the front, while Kyuss entered the rear.
Back at the meeting point, Ahryou attempted to bring the contact back to consciousness with the use of a stimpack. The stim seemed to have no effect, but she and Dvorak did notice the man's blood seemed thicker, more viscous. They studied it, discovering it wasn't blood after all, but oil. Their contact was a droid covered in synthskin to look like a Pantoran! Dvorak tried to repair the droid, but couldn't manage it. They did, however, locate the credit stick with their payment on it, as well as an unidentified black box. At this point, the numbers repeating in Dvorak's head reset to all zeroes. Dvorak asks H3-X to identify the previous numbers, and after studying them for a short time, the droid informed the Gank that the numbers appeared to be old Imperial ident codes.
H'Lem, Ja'nine, and Kyuss had no luck in the building, find just a Dug family squatting in the dank quarters. As they checked the rooms, however, someone in the alley tossed a grenade into the hallway. Fortunately for the group, none were seriously injured. They set out after the assassin once again after the human vagrant pointed - with eyes wide! - back down the alley, telling them he'd seen the sniper. H'Lem went on the chase once more, but Kyuss noticed a large case hidden behind the druggie. A sniper rifle! He snatched the weapon from the protesting vagrant, then followed H'Lem down the alley. The assassin, however, appeared to have gotten away. The party consoled itself that he at least got paid for their journey, plus netted a new sniper rifle, which they could either use or sell. (They attempted to sell it to a Wookiee named Kawabaac, but the merchant low-balled them on price, and they made the decision not to sell the gun.)
Commodore Bakker contacted the party, letting them know there might be an alternative source of Tryptic right there in Cloud City. The Rancors, a local swoop gang generally considered to be some of the most violent and unpredictable criminals in Cloud City, had a Quarren chemist named Berghust V'ral sequestered and processing Tryptonite slurry for them. The group, however, decided to make the run to Baxxu, instead, preferring to get their Tryptonite from the source. The trip to Baxxu, while slow, remained uneventful, but when they came out of hyperspace, their sensors went haywire. It seemed Teesev had been tinkering with the computer, and temporarily boosted the ship's sensors to be able to pick up other ships at an insane range, and they were staring down an old Imperial Interdictor! Fortunately, the Interdictor did not spot them, and they dropped Sentinel Seven into Baxxu's atmosphere. After making a number of scanning runs, the group decided it would be best to land near what appeared to be a mine. They landed, scouted it out, and discovered it was crawling with several dozen Stormtroopers of the First Order. After nearly being spotted by the Stormtroopers, the party reconvened to decide on a plan to steal some Tryptonite.
On the Rocks
Ja'nine and H'Lem returned to the ship and the whole crew collectively decided to go find a reasonably-sized settled area - a city inhabited by the native peoples. It didn't take the crew long to realize that the transport carrying the Tryptonite had headed off in the same direction. The crew opted to swing wide to avoid any chance of being seen. Along the way, they found a number of small villages - buildings carved out of rocky outcroppings - that have been utterly decimated. They landed the ship and hiked in the remaining two kilometers to the city, which is built into a small mountain. The city was surrounded on its vulnerable side by a huge stone wall, which was apparently carve in its place. The wall appeared to have three openings - a main gate and two smaller gates - each cut into the stone wall, and each guarded by First Order Stormtroopers.
Peering off into the distance, however, Dvorak noticed a small group of Baxxuans doing something further along the curve of the wall. Taking a wide path, they avoided the guards at the nearest small gate and approached what they believed were Baxxuan smugglers. H'Lem attempted to communicate, but since he didn't know Baxxuan and the locals knew little basic, he got nowhere fast. He contacted H3-X, who informed the Weequay that he hadn't heard enough of the local language to understand it. Ahryou and Kyuss jumped in, trying to help make sense of the conversation, with the Dvorak making snarky comments in the background while preparing for a fight. (Not a bad idea, of course, since at least one of the Baxxuans was aggressive, regularly bringing his slugthrower up at the crew!) They finally manage to come to an agreement after the crew explained they were dislike the "White Shells" as much as the Baxxuans did. (And H'Lem's gift of a blaster carbine to one of the local people didn't hurt!)
The Baxxuans led the crew through what amounted to a small smuggler's gate, then through the city until they found a small stone hut occupied by a singular individual. Though they didn't learn the name of the mysterious Mikkian woman, Erilar gave them the instruction they needed to make peace with the local rulers. The first thing they needed to do was retrieve the Gruen - the leader of the local Gruenwold, Bruzza. (Literally, Gruenwold means means Lord's Peace, and is the word the Baxxuans use for "city". There is a necropolis on Baxxu, however, known as Gruenwold, and when speaking of that location, the locals speak in hushed, reverent tones.)
H'Lem, Kyuss, and Dvorak decided to go scout out the path the Gruen takes to his home every day. As he approached, however, H'Lem slipped, causing a commotion as he slid down the side of the stone building to the narrow breezeway below. With the Gruen were four First Order Stormtroopers and two robed figures, presumably advisors from the Redshift Consortium. The three decide there's no time like the present, and since they'd been revealed, attacked the Stormtroopers. H'Lem waded into them in melee, taking down the weaker troopers. Dvorak took a shot at the sergeant, striking him down but also hitting the Gruen with an errant blast! The Gruen, angered by the attack, leaped up and swung his cudgel at Dvorak while Kyuss engaged with one of the advisors. The other advisor disappeared down the narrow passage and around a corner. After taking down the remaining advisor, the trio managed to calm the Gruen and explain why they were there. The escaped advisor, however, returns and demands they surrender. The group could hear the scream of a TIE fighter approaching, and the stomp of dozens of Stormtrooper boots nearby. They fled, led by the Gruen, who managed to get them to a secret entrance to the Gruenwold's underground tunnel system, and they returned to Erilar.
While the trio was gone, Ja'nine went to the ship to bring H3-X and Teesev back into the city - and to park the ship in a less conspicuous spot. When she left the ship, however, she found herself surrounded by Baxxuans - and Bjokrin Sark, who turned out to be the son of Nestern Starryway, famed explorer and author who originally discovered Baxxu. Sark was apparently involved in starting a rebellion among the Baxxuans, and is willing to work with Ja'nine and the rest of the crew. Ahryou spoke with the local Shaman. He claims to have to make a pilgrimage to cleanse himself so he'll be ready for what is to come. When the rest arrived, they discovered that the shaman is the true Gruen, while the current one is a puppet set up by the First Order to control the city. To re-annoint the shaman, however, he needs the trappings of the Gruen, which the false Gruen gladly hands over. Now the group needs to find the shaman... who has gone off to the The Blind Forest for a cleansing.
Robbin' & Stealin'
Ahryou had accepted the trappings of the Gruen from the puppet leader put in place by the First Order, and the crew now needed to go find the shaman, the true leader of the Bruzza Gruenkild. Erilar figured he would return to the altar grounds outside Bruzza to begin his journey. Following the same Baxxuan who led them into the city in the first place, they found the makeshift temple - a small building made of stacked stones in the middle of a small canyon - not far from the Gruenwold. There was smoke rising from the building, however, and it didn't appear there is any living thing within the canyon. Looking around, Dvorak and H'Lem noticed snipers on both sides of the canyon, each with a spotter. H'Lem took the initiative to leave the ravine they way they came in, climbed the side, and stealthily approached the ambush. The Stormtrooper and the spotter were having a conversation, but didn't seem to be inclined to shoot the party below. They mentioned waiting for Commander Merkin before doing anything.
Down below, Ja'nine, Kyuss, Dvorak, and Ahryou approached the building, finding a man wearing Stormtrooper-style laminate armor - sans helmet - inside. Kyuss caught him off guard, asking if he was "their contact". The man's hand went to his pistol, but he didn't draw. Instead, he asked for their identity. Dvorak, in a bid to figure out what's going on with the strange numbers running through his head (which seemed to change every so often) gave the man the identcode currently running through his head. Commander Merkin only gave him a very odd look and asked why he was repeating Merkin's own ident back at him. Before Dvorak had a chance to respond, however, there was an explosion outside the building. Incoming Stormtroopers! There was no time to speculate how they found the crew out this far, as the fight was on! On the rim of the canyon, one of the snipers took a shot at a Stormtrooper down below, taking him down. Across the way, another sniper blasted a second Stormtrooper. It appeared the two groups of Stormtroopers were at odds with each other!
A firefight ensued, with grenadiers blasting at the small hut with their launchers, hoping to bring it down on the crew inside. Between Dvorak's expert shooting, H'Lem's knife, Kyuss's skill in fist-fighting, and support from Ja'nine's blaster and Ahryou's healing skill, the crew took down the entire squad with little in the way of injury. Aided by the Commander and his men, they managed to gather up all the fallen men's equipment. Merkin claimed he'll need it all for his men, however, as he was waging a guerrilla war against the First Order on Baxxu. Traveling with the Commander, the crew was taken to The Predator, a Vindicator-class starship formerly in the service of the Empire (and later the First Order). Sometime years back, however, the Commander and his men mutinied, taking over the ship and fighting their erstwhile allies in space near Baxxu. The ship was downed, however, crashing on the surface of Baxxu not far from the temperate band.
Merkin and the crew talked for a little while, and he told them about the Mikkian they met in Bruzza. Her name was Erilar, and she and her twin sister Eralee had come to Baxxu nearly two decades back. While they never specifically claimed to be Jedi, they showed enough evidence for the Commander to believe they were. Eralee, however, disappeared some years in the past. Erilar claimed she was murdered, but never gave specifics. (Interestingly, Merkin was attacked that night by someone wielding a red lightsaber, though he never told the off-world crew.)
With the help of Merkin and his soldiers, the crew decided it was time to perform a heist! Ahryou left the trappings of the Gruen with the Commander, who promised to get them to the shaman. After retrieving Sentinel Seven, they flew until they were within hiking distance from the mining station they scouted out before. It seemed the First Order had taken more precautions after discovering non-Baxxuans on the planet, and had placed more Stormtrooper guards at the mine. The crew decided to take out the mining convoy after it left the facility, so they took the time to familiarize themselves with its route and plan their attack. Laying in waiting at an old, burned out village, they set a trap, a mesh of cable that could be raised across the path on command. When the convoy appeared - two speeders in front of the truck, two in back - they sprung their trap. Though the two speeder pilots managed to stop before getting tangled in the trap, the truck did not, and slammed both bikes into the cables. The crew leaped into action, taking down the Stormtroopers one at a time - save for a single escapee - until the Redshift operatives inside the truck surrendered. The defeated Troopers and the operatives assisted in transferring the payload of the truck into Sentinel Seven, and the crew took one of the operatives hostage.
After a brief chase and a dogfight with a couple TIE fighters, the crew manages to escape and head back to Bespin, where they planned to meet Commodore Bakker. Bakker told them he would prefer to meet in space outside of the jurisdiction of Bespin's Wing Guard, and the crew agrees. When they arrived, however, they found themselves surrounded by Bakker's entire fleet, thirteen tramp freighters and armed transports. He told them to space their cargo, promising to pay them, just not the entire value of the Tryptonite. He explained to Ja'nine that this is his chance to retire, to pass the mantle of Commodore Bakker on to someone else. It would have been her, he claimed, had she not run off with some other crew. After spacing their booty, the crew returned to Cloud City, empty handed, save for the five thousand credits Bakker deposited in Ja'nine's account. Once on-world, however, the owner of the curio shop, Brevven, contacted Ahryou, telling her he had something for her. When she arrived, he pushed a small case with ten doses of Hardsleep inside.
The crew went their separate ways for a time; Ja'nine and H'Lem sought out information on the upcoming Grand Prix and acquiring a sponsor for the pilot, Dvorak hit up a local bounty board to find out where he might make a little extra cash, and Kyuss found a nice little underground fight club where he could work out a few frustrations. Ahryou stayed on hand where Kyuss fought, just in case anyone needed medical attention - and to place a few minor bets on her traveling companion. Dvorak spoke with bounty agent Kana Laike, a Rodian woman who suggested he try hunting down some of the city's most notorious street criminals, the Rancors. He agreed to take on the bounty (500 credits a head, dead; 750 credits alive) and returned to the others. While the team was split up, Vol-Kraeg, a Zabrak sent by [[Contacts#Bjokrin Sark|Sark], arrived on Cloud City to find the crew and warn them of the increased bounty on Dvorak's head. He located the trio of Ahryou, Kyuss, and Dvorak, and shared the information with them, a pre-recorded message in which Sark tells the crew that Vol-Kraeg could be useful to them. Dvorak asked him to join, and he agreed to work with them, staying on for their "Rancor hunt".
The Rancors had been terrorizing lower Cloud City all the way up to the Marketplace on Level 124 for quite some time now, and mostly evaded capture by the Wing Guard by remaining in the lower, darker regions of the floating megaplex. Their base of operations was rumored to be somewhere in the repulsor/stabilizer levels, though they often performed shakedowns on shops in the refinery levels to keep the credits rolling in. Kyuss picked up several rolls of mesh tape under the assumption that it would make great makeshift binders, as well as a thousand other uses, and then they were off, traveling through Cloud City until they reached the refinery. While making their way to the final turbolift they needed to take in order to reach the repulsor levels, they spied a handful of Rancors gang members harrassing the owner of a small pet shop, extorting "protection" money from him. Seeing this as a good opportunity to score some credits, the crew set up to ambush the Rancors. Dvorak took up a sniping position, while the others approached the gang members. Before they could spring their trap, however, one of the Rancors tossed a grenade into the shop to teach a lesson to the store's owner. The Force-sensitive Vol-Kraeg, moderately skilled with moving small objects, caught the grenade and tossed it back out of the store. Though he was unable to use it to attack the thugs, he did manage to distract them. And the fight was on!
One of the Rancors, the largest of the three, leaped into the building for cover as one of his compatriots was shot by sniper fire from Dvorak. Kyuss attacked the uninjured one who remained outside, smacking him with a quick elbow-strike to the face. Staggering backward, the stunned gangbanger fired off a volley of shots, all of which miss Kyuss. After a brief exchange of blaster fire and brawling, however, the crew manages to subdue the three gang members, but not until after the large one (a loyal lug wearing brass knucks) called in backup. Spying the Rancors swoop bikes around the corner, Kyuss went to grab one, to bring it around so they could take their quarry back to the bounty agent. As they began to use the mesh tape to bind their prisoners, however, a nearby industrial turbolift - the kind meant to carry large skiffs up and down levels in Cloud City - opened to reveal who the gang members' backup was. Nine more members of the gang had arrived, four on swoop bikes and four working as handlers for the the gang's "mascot" - an actual juvenile rancor. Kyuss, Ahryou, and Vol-Kraeg redoubled their efforts to get away while Dvorak provided cover from a distance. Fortunately for the would-be bounty hunters, a Wing Guard gunskiff arrived and the gang decided they'd be better off retreating to the depths of Cloud City. While they made it into the turbolift, Dvorak sniped one of the handlers, and it appeared the rancor may have gained the upper hand as the doors closed.
After returning to bounty agent Kana Laike and collecting their reward - 2250 credits for three live members of The Rancors - the crew came face to face with a squad of bounty hunters from Headhunters Galactic, a corporate bounty collection agency of questionable moral standards. The episode ended with them facing far too many adversaries to consider taking on all at once.