Betrayal

2 ABY – 06 Echo – 32 Taungday (Ktil). Waking late after their very long night, the party discusses next steps: First, finish ship repairs as much as possible, prepare to replace the front hatch, then raid the Thrifty for its “fulstar plate” (to complete repairs) and its hatch, and then search for R3-M3 and Kantarra, in approximately that order. Kiarra suggests that her ship is in full working order – why not go find and recover it and transfer over to it? Naturally, Cheebs just stares at her in disbelief.

After spending most of the day on repairs – which are proceeding even faster than anticipated – and finishing work on the stabilizers, C4-BL3 again announces he’s picking up new signals: highly encrypted ship communication, at least two of them talking back and forth. The group decides to exit the crater to get better reception, and C4-BL3 brings along his squad. (Kiarra says, “I’ll be right behind you,” but Cheebs & C4-BL3 wait for her, not trusting the newcomer to be on the ship alone.) Above the crater, C4-BL3 picks up the Imperial transmissions more clearly but can’t get a fix on location. He deploys the battle droids in an array to help with triangulation. Cheebs & Kiarra return to the ship to finish repairs. C4-BL3 reports from above that he’s got a fix on the signals: One ship is in low orbit and the other is somewhere near the Thrifty. The enterprising comm also has collected enough encrypted data to start breaking their codes and could “spoof” their ship-to-ship banter.

Patching in to the ship’s nav system, Cheebs downloads location data onto his datapad to share with C4-BL3 (wanting to get a relative fix on the signal source). Fearing the worst, he also disconnects the encryption device he’d recovered from the Ubese helmet on Tython to bring up to C4-BL3. Hopping on a (with Kiarra momentarily forgotten), Cheebs excitedly returns to the surface to compare notes with C4-BL3. Surprise! The encryption used is the same – because in fact the orbiting ship is the Carrack Class , Casisto, and the landing party (located right at the Thrifty’s location, sure enough) is none other than the ATR-6 called Storm Rider. C4-BL3 grumbles about wasting his time trying to crack the encryption when the key was already at hand (in the ship).

Cheebs, C4-BL3, and the battle droids return to the Porgatu. Arriving first (on the speeder bike), Cheebs immediately senses something amiss. Kiarra is nowhere to be found (nor responding to comlink hails), the other speeder bike is gone, and much to Cheebs’ horror, his “nest egg” of valuable light sabers has been stolen. The locker in which he kept them (not having yet even shown them to Kiarra) has been light-sabered open. Three training sabers, the double-bladed saber he’d privately vowed to learn to use one day, and the oversized light saber are all missing. Only the prized book that Cheebs keeps reading has escaped the duplicitous “Light side” Force user’s predations, and that only because he keeps it in an electronics compartment in the cockpit. Fuming, Cheebs alerts C4-BL3 to their new “friend”‘s betrayal and turns him right back around to return to the surface. With the array back in action, C4-BL3 searches for the missing speeder bike’s signature to no avail. He does, however, pick up a new signal, some kind of energy source – probably a vehicle or spacecraft – about 150km to planetary north (a new direction for any signal). Cheebs speculates that this could be Kiarra’s ship, though her actions have now cast serious doubt on the veracity of anything she’s told them.

Cheebs now even doubts that she was telling the truth about detecting R3-M3 near the Thrifty (to say nothing of the dubious nature of her perception). C4-BL3, however, wants to believe. The comm is very excited to go after R3-M3. Cheebs counsels caution, not wanting anything to do with the Imperial forces while they’re still present at the site. For some reason, C4-BL3 seems convinced that it would be bad to allow the Imps to complete their mission at the Thrifty, but Cheebs won’t have it. C4-BL3 finally acquiesces to an overnight wait. The rest of the day is spent installing and calibrating the Porgatu’s new targeting computer.

2 ABY – 06 Echo – 33 Zheliday (Ktil). In the morning, there’s no sign of the orbiting mothership (the Casisto), but C4-BL3 is still picking up chatter between the ATR-6 and its nearby ground team. Against his better judgement, Cheebs gives in to the insistent droid who is dead-set on finding “his first and only friend.” They set off on the one remaining speeder bike, C4-BL3 piloting, Cheebs riding behind, towing the stuffed into a repulsor crate. They detour west of the Thrifty’s site and check out one of the fan-blade fighter crash sites – which has been cleaned. There’s just a smattering of small wreckage; the Imps have removed the fighter’s remains.

They ditch the speeder 100m west of the clearing and proceed on foot to its edge. C4-BL3 sets the on guard duty at the edge of the clearing and proceeds, true to form, to fall into the familiar ravine. The scene in the clearing reveals two Ubese (technicians?) at the Thrifty, rigging a tow harness onto the shuttle. It appears they are about to tow the shuttle away. There are camouflaged Imperial troops – now familiar from the fight of a few days previous – stationed nearby where the ATR-6 assault transport sits. At a radio signal from an unseen command figure, a hatch opens on the ATR-6, and an ominous black insectoid droid floats out. C4-BL3 senses this new signal as a very heavily encrypted Imperial military probe droid … and yet his response is, “Ah, a challenge!” He prepares to hack the approaching droid despite being face down in the muddy bottom of the ravine. Cheebs despairs.

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