From the Frying Pan into the fire

2 ABY – 09 Golf – 3 Benduday (Phaseera) Kantarra, Cheebs, and C4-BL3 find themselves in the kitchen of The Ugly Bantha. The four (presumably Metatheran syndicate) thugs that burst into the cantina blast away in a firefight with Crag’s two bodyguards. Kantarra tells the others to go recover the tech asset and meet back on the ship; she says she’ll “hold off” their potential pursuers. Firing from an unexpected vantage point, she proceeds to murder the surprised Metatherans efficiently in her classic style.

Using R3-M3’s “eyes and ears,” the others navigate to Crag’s real quarters, 4 levels below The Ugly Bantha. They keep an eye out for the other known Metatheran, the red-skinned Nautolan. Coming to his cramped quarters without incident, they find a specially secured which Crag frets over. The frazzled scientist acts both anxious around the container (perhaps afraid of a leak?) and protective of it. Cheebs notes an equipment case in the room and promptly pockets its contents: 4 data cylinders and a datapad. The three then navigate back up to the ground level with C4-BL3 and Crag carrying the heavy between them. At one point Cheebs catches a glimpse of the red-skinned Nautolan, but R3-M3 causes a clever distraction to give them a little extra space. R3-M3 also calmly reports a fire in The Ugly Bantha, but it was extinguished. The group meets back up with Kantarra on the Porgatu. R3-M3 and C4-BL3 collaborate to observe the Nautolan heading to a nearby docking bay.

Launching without further incident, they see a ship following them into orbit which left the Nautolan’s docking bay. While Kantarra is left alone with Crag in the empty container hold, the others assume action stations. But they see a heavy Imperial military presence in the airspace around them and think better of any immediate ship-to-ship violence against their pursuer. Cheebs and C4-BL3 identify a nearby star system (Gizer) with a few planetoids orbiting a lonely gas giant outsystem. Cheebs contacts Phaseera’s orbital control with a request to double-check his navigation data to this remote moon, thus loudly broadcasting their destination to anyone who might be listening. They make the jump to lightspeed.

The party confers in the Porgatu’s crew space. Kantarra has emerged from the container slung below decks and announces that while the others were busy crewing the ship she “negotiated” a deal with Crag and now has a plan to claim the bounty. The others are surprised to learn that their ruthless colleague has amputated one of the scientist’s arms! (“Don’t go down there right now. He’s not doing well.”) She intends to use the arm to claim the full “bring them in cold” bounty on him and thereby stop any further bounty hunters or hit squads from coming after him. She requests that C4-BL3 build the hapless espionage agent a fresh new identity and . (“But that sounds like forgery! … I LOVE forgery!”) Her plan is to drop him on a world where he can use his new identity to build himself a new life, and perhaps a new arm. The scientist apparently preferred this fate to the other option Kantarra gave him (death). Crag also agreed to rig the ’s dangerous contents to explode upon opening, so Kantarra thinks she can also collect on the bounty for recovering the stolen tech – and then run like hell.

While C4-BL3 quickly whips up a very convincing new and code cylinder for Crag, Cheebs reviews data on their destination. Assuming the dangerous-looking gunship will be following them some time later – if its specified class 2 hyperdrive hasn’t been improved – he plans to hide on the far side of the planetoid from the hyperspace route and wait for the ship to show up. No one asks what Kantarra is up to, but Cheebs silently hopes she is tending to Crag’s wound.

2 ABY – 09 Golf – 3 Benduday (Gizer) Arriving outsystem at the gas giant’s orbiting planetoid (which is tiny, perhaps 20km in diameter) ahead of schedule as usual, they proceed to take up a stationary position very close to the planetoid on the opposite side of it from the “coreward bound” Perlemian trade route. If their G-1A “heavy ” pursuer has a standard class 2 hyperdrive, they expect it in about 8 hours. And so they wait at action stations.

Only about 4 hours later their comms are suddenly swamped by blasts of static. Something has just arrived insystem on the other side of the planetoid, and it’s jamming all communications and sensors. Alerted, they spot two very small starfighters swinging around the planetoid at high speed and point-blank range. Cheebs takes the port side cheek turret controls, Kantarra the starboard, with C4-BL3 on the newly installed quad dorsal turret mount. The fighters are using jamming – a definitely hostile behavior – and must be looking for them. Cheebs gives the order to fire as he bulls-eye’s his portside target. The small wedge-shaped fighter (an unknown design) is clearly quite frail judging by the grievous hit he inflicts with his single light laser cannon. Kantarra has even better luck with her target, leaving it barely spaceworthy, trailing smoke from a badly damaged engine (one of two it has). As both of these little wedge starfighters turn tail, two larger starfighters of another unknown design swoop around the planetoid from above and below, again jamming comms and sensors. The Porgatu’s crew might recognize some of the threatening-looking fighters’ features, resembling an updated four-engined version of the Incom Headhunter, itself an obsolescent but well-respected design.

Having held his fire when he saw the two wedge-shaped fighters crippled, C4-BL3 sees one of the X-shaped new threats bearing down from above and opens fire. This can take a hit, though, and it returns the favor with its own quad lasers, one on each wingtip. The other approaching from below also opens up on the stationary shuttle, well-shielded but a sitting duck. One of the ’s blasts are deflected harmlessly away, but two laser cannons from the other find their mark. They tear into one of the shuttle’s stabilizers and its belly and throw it into a stem-to-stern spin. The inertial compensators can’t keep up with the sudden blast, and the Porgatu’s crew is pressed into their seats by the tumble. Wrestling with the controls, Cheebs has a hunch that (although clearly hunting for the Porgatu) this group isn’t affiliated with the Metatherans … and anyway, they are clearly equipped with military-grade ships and employing military tactics. Following his hunch, he broadcasts, “Hostile vessels, cease your jamming and stop firing and we’ll do the same!” Whether the enemy craft can even hear his communications through their jamming remains to be seen.

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