Following the rescue of Senior Advisor Setenna Hase on Ord Radama, the group finds themselves in an awkward situation: It’s been less than 24 hours, but their ships won’t be repaired for another three weeks.
Haril Zense somewhat reluctantly makes an offer:
“Since you’re going to be here anyway, we could use your help. We’re fighting a losing insurgency here, and you lot have shown yourselves at least somewhat capable… at the very least it’ll be a way to kill the time. What do you say?”
The group agrees, and the next three weeks go by with each team member off doing their own adventure.
Near the end, Zense informs them: “With all of your hard work I’m feeling confident about this. I’m heading off to visit ”/wikis/ord-mantell" class=“wiki-page-link”>Ord Mantell to pick up some mercenaries to help us out, so we can start this insurgency in earnest."
A few days after his departure, Zense calls back.
“While I was here, Rebel Command passed on a message for you. Let me see… here it is:
Republic engineers have finally had the time to take a look at the Control Chips recovered back during the Shadow Raptor incident. They’re made of fairly generic parts, and the programming isn’t difficult enough to narrow down where it came from; they could be produced on any of a thousand worlds, except for one thing – there were some Astra Tree spores in the crates they were shipped from, a plant that only grows in a dozen systems.
Republic analysts took this data and started sifting, and they discovered something interesting: The Iceheart just underwent a brief stay in dry dock at Ord Mantell, which just so happens to be one of the planets where that tree grows.
The planet is a known haven for smugglers with a minimal but growing Imperial presence; you shouldn’t have any difficulties poking around here.”
Zense signs off, and the group decides that’s a great idea. After waiting for Kharrus to finish a seventy-six hour long shopping spree, everyone departs in their newly repaired, mint scented, ships. On the way out, a Rebel comes running up and delivers a metal crate – untraceable physical currency to serve as their operational funds! 15,000 credits, by LE-03’s estimation.
As they come out of hyperspace and the streaking stars slowly return to their normal shapes, the pilots see a vast wasteland, a dense belt of debris orbiting a beautiful rose tinted planet in orbit around a serene blue star. It looks as though the planet solved all their trash problems over the last millennia by shooting it into space. Actual ship traffic looks much more localized – locked in geosynchronous orbit is a mostly completed space station in the shape of a spoked wheel, docked to which are several Imperial Patrol Craft. Despite this, there seems to be no shortage of traffic whizzing to and from that area of the planet. Once in range, the comms array lights up with directions to an open air port planetside.
Following that, the comms light up with a message from Ord Radama.
“Hey, while you’re there, can you guys check in on ”/characters/haril-zense" class=“wiki-content-link”>Haril Zense? He missed his last two check in times." They agree to do so.
Waiting in the bay is a single protocol droid standing infront of massive sealed doors and a pair on inward facing turrets. He proceeds to shake the party down for exorbitant docking and berthing fees – apparently Ord Mantell gets billions of tourists annually, and has adjusting their pricing policies to match. All three ships are sent to berthing.
The group’s first stop is The Mockingbird, a cantina just outside the space port. Chalkkatta is very impressed with the wookiee musician. Everyone else is more impressed with Ioryn Aonsuna, a Bothan waiter, who does his species proud and seems to know quite a bit. He tells the group two key things:
A spacer was arrested violently just a few blocks away, and his boss, The Black Suns’ Vigo Ioda Jallea, isn’t too happy with some military thugs muscling in on his mountain hideout, Mining Facility 343.
Since it’s close, and they need to find Zense still, the group heads over to One Eye Open Hotel to gather clues. They investigate the proprietor, a panicky Sullustan.
“He was taken, at gunpoint, by a group of stormtroopers. They kept shouting about traitor this and rebel scum that… They probably took him to the booking office. Oh! The stormtroopers? They were lead by a figure in bright red armor and robes. He was carrying this massive pike… it could barely fit through doors!”
Nervously, the group follows up on the lead to the Booking Offices, where Nima is able to discover through trickery and cunning that the spacer, who’s probably but maybe not Zense, was taken directly to the Moff’s Palace as some sort of prisoner VIP.
The group heads to The Salvation Casino, home of the local Black Suns chapter, to follow up with the Vigo. He extorts them, naturally, but does offer some more information:
-Someone’s muscling in on Mining Facility 343. They’re dressed like but not behaving like Imperials, but even so all his gang there have stopped reporting in. It’s pretty suspicious, especially when you consider that right after the Iceheart dropped off its Sentinels people started missing and Imperial presence drastically inflated… at least for a bit.
-The Moff’s wife, Luni Vanko, has been spending a lot of time in the city as of late on some sort of Imperial Hearts and Minds campaign. According to a guy who knows a guy who’s a friend, her next appearance is to congratulate the current top tier swoop racer. If anyone knows how to get in the palace, it’s surely her.
Feeling ripped off, the group wanders over to Lorde Parts And Speeder Repair to buy a swoop so they can enter Nima in the swoop races; she’s been watching a lot of racing videos apparently, and feels up to the task.
Then, it’s off to Goldilox Swoop Den to sign Nima up.
After winning the first race easily, Nima moves on to the middle leagues. She goes off blasting down the downtown streets, narrowly dodging people and making tight, breakneck turns through the pedestrian streets. By the time she reaches the narrow canyon walls her swoop is already going full tilt. She exits the canyon, barrels off the cliff… and her engine floods, as she begins plummeting towards the bay, now with no repulsor field to keep her from going splat. She manages to get the engine going, eventually, and heads back towards the race track. Mere yards from the finish line, she spots a young kid with an adorable kitten crossing the street; unfortunately, to avoid murder-pasting this kid across the sidewalk, she’s forced to turn hard, hit the brakes, and ultimately wrap her brand new swoop around a light post.
Chalkkatta, since he’s carrying the money, helpfully offers that they have now won a total of 500 credits racing, and have spent 9,500 on the swoop, 400 on racing fees, and that it will cost another 1,000 credits to fix the bike enough to do anything at all with it. Total racing profits: -10,400 credits, and no in with the Moff’s wife.
Feeling the need to let off some steam, Kharrus suggests they make the 75 mile trek into the mountains to find Mining Facility 343. After LE-03 puts his Y-Wing down as collateral for 3 speeder bikes, the group is off!
High in the mountains, they finally spot it. Chalkkatta heads up the side of the mountain with his magnoculars and brand new eyeballs to scout it out. He finds:
The facility is a sprawling complex bit into one of the mountainous ravines the planet is known for. The facility is just above snow level; the air is thick and cold, and inches of snow cover everything. A thick wall blocks both sides of the facility from all but the most determined explorers, and each gate is obviously guarded by Super Battle Droids. In the main courtyard a Sentinel-Class landing craft is crammed in, taking up most of the empty space. Two AT-STs and a herd of stormtroopers supervise the loading of dozens of miners into a single shipping container on a flatbed heavy speeder. Scattered through the many buildings are obvious piles of explosives – whatever answers lie here will soon be erased.