The group huddles together on the mountaintop just down the road from Mining Facility 343, waiting for Chalkkatta to finish scouting. LEO translates:
“Six clusters of explosives – I think he’s describing proton grenades – presumably chained together. There are two exterior buildings, a cave entrance, and one side of the facility is completely occupied by a Sentinel-class lander. They appear to be loading the missing townsfolk in restraints into some kind of container. As a reminder, there are two full squads of stormtroopers, Imperial Army troopers, scout troopers, and two AT-STs as well providing security.”
The group deliberates for hours while their wookiee scout keeps tabs. Eventually, they narrow it down to three options:
-Free the slaves – this would be best accomplished by heading back to the city, hopping on the ship, and intercepting in space.
-Secure the mine and look for clues. A big enough distraction might let the group sneak into the cave while LEO disarms the explosives just outside.
-Save both mine and slaves; there doesn’t seem to be an easy way to do this, or even any way, other than a full frontal assault.
The time spent deliberating eventually solves the problem, as the Imperial forces start retreating to their lander, apparently done. Chalkatta waits until he has a clear path, and then scrambles down the mountainside. LE-03 talks him through disarming the bombs – the first goes down without a problem, though the second sets off a reaction. Chalkatta has just enough time to dive into the cave before it detonates in a chain-reaction, reducing the entire camp to rubble and covering it in ten feet of snow.
“Chalkatta? Come in Chalkatta! Noooooooo!”
Speeder bikes bring the rest of the group over the powder once the explosion has subsided. They spot the roof tops marking where the buildings were, and begin excavating. Nima finds a curious datapad:
General Sav Vahj,
Remove all evidence of our activities on Ord Mantell. Do not let the Empire learn of your presence there, nor of my involvement.
Weird. The group sits tight, freezing, while they try to figure out what to do next.
Meanwhile, Chalkatta regains consciousness! He stumbles through the mine underground, thankful that the previous occupants helpfully installed safety lighting independent of any power grid. Eventually he finds a brand new security door – as it’s without power, he’s able to force his way through it. Catching sight of someone fleeting, the wookiee gives chase. This leads him to an exterior tunnel, and a 30’ drop into the snow. He doesn’t even pause to admire the view – Wohlsport, train tracks, and the Moff’s Palace -, Chalk just dives off after the fleeing mine foreman. He catches him of course… and remembers that outdoors he might have comlink reception. The group is alerted to his new position, and he sits tight.
Once everyone meets up, they go over their options. Everyone glosses over the exterior tunnel, evidently forgetting the point of sneaking into the camp in the first place. Whoops! They do decide, however, to sneak onto the oncoming train and use it to sneak into the Moff’s Palace to look for Haril Zense. LEO’s three speeders are all lost in the attempt, though everyone leaps onto the train in a very cinematic manner. Opting not to risk exposing themselves, everyone stays put in the engine room for the duration of the ride.
The Moff’s palace is an affluent mansion built into the side of a mountain facing the sunset with tiered decks to offer all of his visitors an exquisite view. The bottom, in vogue for Imperial fashion, is the spitting image of an impenetrable fortress studded with check points and turrets. A repulsortrack for a train bypasses most of this, heading to the bottom levels of the palace proper. Fighting your way up from the bottom would take a very dedicated, and very large, army… all of who would have to make the 120km (75mile) trek from the city.
Sneaking in, once they’ve bypassed most of the security with the train, proves… mostly effective. Chalkatta and Nima make it across with no problem, though Kharrus proves unlucky and is spotted by a wandering searchlight. Security quickly swarms to apprehend him, though he goes down fighting. Everyone watches with baited breath as the unconscious Gran is taken off to be stuffed in the same prison they’re breaking into. Of course, now it’ll be on high alert. Luckily, LEO and Lucky use the distraction to cross into the palace with the same ease as the two infiltrators.
Inside, they find the main turbolift. Nima slices schematics, and the group thinks about their options… briefly. Everyone boards the lift, and down they go!
The fight in the detention level foyer is quick and deadly. Lucky and Chalkatta make quick work of the squad of soldiers, though the detention officer proves resilient to LEO and Nima’s blaster fire: he manages to hit the alarm seconds before dying. The group springs into action:
LE-03 starts slicing the computer, identifying where the evidence lock up is and freeing the high priority prisoners – Haril Zense, Kharrus, and Gwen Wettik.
Lucky and Chalkkatta prepare to deal with the reinforcements, guarding the turbolift.
Nima runs down the hall to manually free the VIPs from their unlocked cells.
The turbolift doors open to reveal four stormtroopers and a figure in a thick black cloak – the same ominous silhouette they saw leaving the train earlier! The figure ignites two crimson lightsabers, and Lucky and Chalkkatta shit themselves. Luckily they manage to engage the emergency door codes and lock the lift before anyone gets out. Unfortunately, the lightsabers make another appearance as they stab through the door and start hacking it open.
Nima escorts Kharrus to the evidence room to retrieve his gear.
The door falls apart as molten slag, and the air is suddenly filled with blaster bolts. Everyone retreats, fleeing from the troopers and the menacingly strolling Juzu. Suddenly, Gwen is lifted from the air and goes flying back, crashing into a wall by the turbolift. LEO triumphantly notices she’s next to a hatch.
Nima spots a maintenance hatch – without hesitation she shoots it open and goes diving through. Lucky and LEO follow – Chalkkatta waits just long enough for the Inquisitor to engage before diving away, leaving Kharrus descending the evidence room ladder just in time to see a very irate, pale skinned woman waving lightsabers at him. He hesitates, choosing to fire his automatic scatter laser at her… nobody is surprised when both lightsabers bat the majority of the blaster fire away.
More surprising, is watching Kharrus get lifted off his feet and slowly compress, his throat constricting while ribs crack and his body contorts to fit into a smaller space than should be possible. After that, Chalkkatta is down the chute and loses sight of him.
The group find themselves in a maintenance tunnel, between a massive thermo-generator and a bank of turbines sucking all the excess heat away and venting it outside. Chalkkatta jams one of the fans with some debris, and everyone sneaks out after LEO retrieves passed out Gwen from further down the tunnel.
Now, everyone is on the mountainside, in the middle of the night, during a blizzard, 100 miles from the city… with two wounded VIPs and no Cowmando, and missing the three speeders LEO put his Y-Wing as collateral on.