Back at Cholganna, the team was having a breakfast of bitter coffee and roasted Nexu inside the rusting, broken hulk that was once known as the Sa Nalaor.. What the meal lacked into flavor and comfort, was made up by the fact that they were having the meal and had not become a meal. Everything changed pretty quickly, when the sharp hum of engines was heard coming in. A quick look skyward showed a YT-2400 called the Nightflyer was coming over. It was the ship belonging to the cowardly, ugly, scum-covered villain called Yav Yiyar. He and his band of pirates wouldn’t be landing close, but they were sure to be on their way. A quick vote was take to make their jaunt through the jungle less then pleasant. The team headed out with Sasha leading the way with Mal’r “Mal” Brooken and Axel forming the points of diamond and Sehath (Prars’ehath’klocerg) trailing for cover. It took about an hour before Sasha happened upon the perfect spot an ambush. The trail narrowed and curved to right back towards river and there was no cover within 10 paces of the turn. The foliage was thick at the bend, and there were good covering spots to on both sides of the path. Perfect.
Axel jumped at the chance to show what he coulddo with his rebel training (he had graduated a the top of his class after all). He borrowed half of Mal’r’s stun grenades to set a booby trap. As Axel sweated the details of placing the grenades, the Mal and Sehath moved into cover and Sasha just moved off. Sasha quickly turned back, motioned quietly that the Yiyar were coming and sunk back out of sight. Destruction awaited the Yiyar clan as the two most forward of the group neared the ambush site. But then they just stopped. Stopped and whistled. And stayed stopped.
Mal’r took a second and verified that he had a stun setting on his A280. He verified that he could actually switch the setting and did so. He leaned forward a bit, concentrated on the bush to his left was still roughly swaying and fired. There was grunt and heavy thump from behind the bush. That was the opening volley of the firefight. Axel, using his Rebel supplied BlasTech DH-17, joined in the firefight. He pumped a couple more stuns in the body on the ground “just to be sure, really sure”. Sehath joined the fracass and cracked off a couple of well aimed shots. Oddly, Sasha wasn’t firing. Usually she’d be quite pleased to squeeze off a few blasts down range.
Instead of rushing them, the Yivar starting another firefight with some unknown assailant about 30 meters back. It turns out, in the rush to move forward, one of the Yivary knocked over a hollow tree full of Bark rats. Upset with the intrusion and sensing it wasn’t Nexu seeking a snack, they came out by the dozens and dozens, biting and snapping. Axel, sensing his moment, poked up his head to see why his brilliantly laid traps had been spotted. It was bad timing by him as some one started to fire at him. The first one went just high and left. The second caught him, not full on, but it bloodied his right shoulder. With the rules of the game changed, Mal’r flicked the selector off of stun and fired at his next target. He/she/it fell backwards…in three pieces.
A few more shots where traded when Axel took another hit and his rebel supplied blaster was knocked from his hand. The fire was starting to lessen back up the path as the bandits had scared off or killed the rats. Then there was loud sort of muffled twang. Sasha had creeping up the entire time and found herself in another perfect position. She pulled the pin of a Merr-Son C-10 stun grenade and rolled into the feet of the currently happy rat fighters. Only one saw it and he looked more than a little suprised. Then the grenade went off and there were for more down.
That was the last straw for the Yiyars, but the gunfight ended with a bit more of a twist. Sasha called up for Mal’r to put his gun down. An odd request in so many ways. But he did stop shooting (he didn’t holster it though). “Uh, guys, come over here,” called Sasha. And her call was followed by more of an order. “Stop shooting and come down here now,” bellowed a loud and commanding voice. The tone brought Axel and Sehath down to Sasha quicker than they would have imagined. Mal’r came down to, but with a bit more pause.
Once they broke cover, they found themselves, with the pirate Yav also, standing in front an older man with a small body guard. He was dark skinned and scarred, still dressed in his Separtist uniform and stood on the shore like it was his planet. This was none other than Captain Rel Harsol. His two legged body guard consisted of a couple of humans (still wearing somewhat tattered uniforms) and couple of B1 battle droids. The more interesting part of his entourage was his mounts, 3+ meter large aquatics beasts with saddles and pulling boats. Sehath pointed out they were saurians and native to the planet. He had another thought, but Harsol started demanding an explanation of the who’s, what’s and where’s. He meant right now, sailor! Seeing no one else wanted to speak up at the particalar morement, Mal’r started explaining, pretty well actually, how he and the merry band of heroes had come over Cholganna and that Yav was basically a pirate and not a very good one. Yav, for his part, piped up that he was there just to save everybody and that he was really misunderstood. He started to explain that his momma sent to help. Then before the Captain could make any sense of the situation, IT3 popped in from the underbrush not more than 5 meters away. The conversation kinda dried up at this point as he brushed leaves and vines from himself and moved to the Captain. “Captain, so good to see you. I’ve continued with our arrangements with Ropok. It has taken me a bit longer,but I’ve come to fulfill your plans.” Yep, that’s right. IT3 was just another ringer in the game. After the crew of the Gozanti was taken down by bugs and booze, the took off by his self for a two day hike to the shore.
Rel smiled, “We came after we got your homing beacon signal. Verified it was you and came on over.” Stupid, shiny ringer. I hope you rust. Yav, seeing the faces of the heroes fall a bit, spoke up,“We were trying to work with IT3 so we could come save you. Yeah, that’s it. Save you.”
IT3 turned and spoke with his sharp tone,“Oh no, Captain. The Yivar kidnapped me back at the Wheel.” With his face reddening a bit, he order Axel and Sehath to bring down the wounded and unconscious down to the shoreline. They dutifully did so, but they seemed to leave the Yiyar’s shoes and guns behind (on purposeful accident of course) He told Mal’r and Yav to start setting up a fire. Yav kicked dust, sputtered insults and tried to point out Mal’s “failures” to the Captain. Mal, for his part, offered to kill him now. Again, the conversation just kinda dried up. And Sasha, standing on the shore, just soaked it all in.
Once everybody was brought down, the captain directed Axel and Sehath to secure the Nightflyer. Sehath, who already been in the ship back at The Wheel and Axel, who wanted to make up for the “ambush” jumped at the chance. It only took them a minute to start securing the ship. Of course, the Captain probably meant something more along the line of lock it up so Nexu dont’ make it into a den. They, of course, took a broader meaning jerry-rig the ship so it couldn’t take off without them. With the Captain calling them back, they didn’t really have time to really muck with every system, but they did make adjustments they could grin about.
“Time to go,” rumbled the Captain. The heroes were allowed to walk freely, but the Yivar were manhandled by the droids. Staying by the shore, they traveled for a couple of hours without any incidences. The Captain’s mounts and crew made even the Nexu stay back.
The party finally trampled up from the shore to a rough wooden walled fort bulked up with metal plates and hidden into the shallow cave of an overhanging cliff. “Welcome to The Retreat.” The gates pulled open as B1 droids manned the two watch towers. A small group of tattered and well worn survivors peered out at the new arrival. There no more than 60 of the original crew and compliment of nearly 1000 still alive after nearly 30 years.
The heroes were lead to the tallest and largest building. It was circular and opened up to a seating area for the entire compound with a broad flat stage area in the front. “Someone get Cratala,” piped the Captain. After they were seated and the crowd poured in, Harsol called the meeting to order. “We’re hear to sort out who is who and what needs to be done.” A lonely voice shouted back, “Why aren’t they disappeared like the others? Going soft?” Harsol shot a well practiced glare, but the crowd didn’t go silent, but it did hush a bit.
At just that time, an older woman with actual clothes (and not animal skins), came in and made her way up the stage where Sasha and company were setting. She was obviously Cratala and she appeared to be the only peer to the Captain at The Retreat.
“Well, we have guests and I think they should explain themselves…” Again, as nobody stepped forward, not even Sehath with his years of lecture experience, Mal’r grimmaced at his self and moved up. He tried to give the same story he’d given to the Captain back at the shore, but he fell over a couple of words. He promised Isotech favors, Ropok’s son honoring of past bargains, getting of the planet and staying away from the Empire. He was earnest, honest and basically a horrible politician. The only thing he did get out clearly was the word pirates as it related the Yiyars. He’d spoken more words today than he had in the last couple of weeks. Axel offered up his recruiting speak, Sehath asked crowd about how they felt on reverting back to tribal instincts and Sasha, with cold memories of betrayal, spoke the clearest about the evil Empire. The crowd listened, jeered and cheered in equal parts. Nothing was lost, but only a little was accomplished. Only Sehath with academic eye on the populace saw any real potential, but we wasn’t allowed to mingle with the residents of Cholganna. The meeting broke up with some grumblings and promises that the Captain and Cratala would sort it out.
Sasha were taken to a rough-hewn cabin made of the same materials as the outer wall to the right of the headquarters. They were given a meal that none of them recognized, but they ate anyway. Watches were set and passed uneventfully. In the morning, Cratala came by to give them a tour. “Here is the shop. Don’t talk to anybody. Here is droid maintenance. Don’t talk to anybody. Here is the Nexu cages. Stop screaming please.” The Nexu cages did startle everybody a little bit. Finally they came to her lab. Her lab. It was the nicest building of the lot and even had power, floors, assistants, and a lovely computer. Cratala was obviously the only peer to the Captain. She lavished on about her work and peace and quiet and discoveries and cybernetics. Axel looked bored, Sasha was bored, Mal’r was baffled and Sehath finally snuck off and was off trying to raise rebellion. Finally, she stopped and took them out to meet again with Harsol.
As they came forward, as ship roared in load and close to the retreat. It was an Imperial ship and the entire populace of The Reteat felt it’s menance. It dropped probe droids overhead and moved to find a close clearing to land in. It wasn’t long before the dull thum of repulsor lifts was heard in the distance.
At that moment, that very moment, Harsol, the Captain, the rock and the leader, stepped forward and leveled a blaster pistol at Mal’r’s head. Shaking and sputtering, “I should never have brought you here. I should’ve killed you when I had the chance. I should have. I should have.” The voice was shaking but the gun was steady.