2 ABY – 09 Golf – 1 Taungday (Pirin) The party has finished the process of offloading their cargo on Othon City, the capital city of the run-down industrial planet Pirin. After making a substantial payment to Gok-Tok for the ship and paying off Kantarra for her loan, they still have cleared over 22,000 credits as a group. Cheebs, as captain, realizes he’s overdue to draft a formal contract for the crew’s profits … and that it’s also now time to negotiate a new deal with his intimidating mother, Gok-Tok.
First he takes R3-M3 aside to get a better read on the loyal droid’s wants and needs. She demonstrates an old-fashioned commitment to fulfilling her programming without any of C4-BL3’s quirkiness, advanced sentience, or materialism. Her focus is on the mission, whatever that may be, and on following the orders of her captain and mission commander. She trusts in them to maintain her properly and upgrade her as well in whatever ways they see fit – to serve their missions. She has no concept of requiring or wanting money of her own nor decision making powers. But in talking with her Cheebs does discover her deep-seated reservations about having Separatist battle droids on their ship. She has seen many allies, crew, and even masters fall under the blasters of B1s and droidekas. Although the droideka on board poses the greatest threat in terms of its firepower, she regards its programming as stable, so she trusts C4-BL3’s control of it. She has grave reservations about the stability of the B1 battle droids’ programming, however. Cheebs promises to have C4-BL3 grant her wish of a failsafe shutdown control over all the battle droids.
Now confident that he needn’t worry about including the faithful astromech in the crew contract, he steels himself for a tough conversation with his mother. He makes a brief foray into Othon City’s seedy starport to find a secure interstellar holo communications booth. Gok-Tok answers his call. Her businesslike facade cracks just a little as he explains how much he wants to buy the ship from her and establish independent operations – is that a hint of pride in her expression? Pressing his advantage (just as she taught him), he proposes a lesser garnishment percentage and a reasonable sum for the ship’s value. In the course of their talk, he also mentions how much of their own money he and his crew have invested into the ship already – both in upgrades and in significant repairs of damage the ship sustained. Although he omits the details and downplays the scale of trouble they were in, a change comes over Gok-Tok. She seems to guess that they have found trouble or made enemies that she wants no part of. This also plays in Cheebs’ favor, and as they finish their negotiation, Cheebs finds himself with quite favorable terms. For a total of 40,000 credits they can buy the ship from her free and clear, and now the garnishment percentage is reduced to 15 – all of which is also applicable to the purchase. After making sure the contract is complete and approved on both ends, Cheebs turns to more personal business. He expresses his pride in coming into his own, gaining confidence as a captain, negotiator, and leader … and also hints at some awakenings in his “personal power.” Asking if there has been anyone in the family who has had abilities or tendencies that are … hard to explain, Cheebs finds out he has an aunt named Milii. Gok-Tok denigrates her, saying she was a “hermit” for a time and has always followed frivolous pursuits chasing antiquities – a questionable and unprofitable business, in her mind. Gok-Tok doesn’t know her current whereabouts other than that she is somewhere in the Outer Rim.
Elated to have held his own against his “hard-nosed” mother, Cheebs returns to the ship and shares the good news with Kantarra & C4-BL3. He also proposes a profit-sharing contract for them: Gok-Tok, C4-BL3, Kantarra, & Cheebs will each get 15% after operating expenses are taken off their gross income. He proposes that they kick in an extra 10% to Gok-Tok to pay off their balance sooner. The remaining 30% will go into the ship’s fund to be used for things like ship upgrades, mission-specific equipment, and purchases to benefit the whole group (as well as a slush fund). His only condition is that C4-BL3 now consider himself a full member of the crew and therefore subject to the captain’s orders (though he is loath to issue any orders) just as any crewmember would be. The memory of the combat-obsessed droid ignoring Cheebs’ direct order to close the blast doors is fresh in his mind. C4-BL3’s answer of “mostly” is of little comfort, but Cheebs doesn’t press the subject. For now.
As they lift off, leaving the depressed planet behind, they decide on a quick detour to test out their newly upgraded weapons systems. With a five minute hyperspace jump, Cheebs takes them outsystem to Pirin’s Barrier Belt – an asteroid field devoid of inhabitation or traffic. C4-BL3 activates the new quad laser mount, and the concealing panels fold down out of the way just as designed. Wanting to practice their gunnery coordination during maneuvers, Cheebs calls out targets as he jerks the ship around in simulated combat maneuvers. Both Kantarra (on the cheek turrets) and C4-BL3 (on the quad lasers) score multiple hits on a few different asteroids, blasting them apart. The new targeting computer definitely helps their accuracy. Satisfied, they pull away and make the jump to lightspeed, and the organics get some much-needed sleep in transit.
2 ABY – 09 Golf – 2 Zheliday (Phaseera) Vaha Nocc’s first job complete, they now turn their attention to the mission Kantarra was given by her patron. The mission is nearby, on the main planet of the Phaseera system. The jump is supposed to take 12 hours, but they drop out 20 minutes early with every alarm in the Porgatu’s cockpit blaring. There’s an Imperial Star Destroyer at point-blank range, and they’re headed right for it! Cheebs wrestles with the controls while Kantarra frantically adjusts the cargo container’s inertial compensators, which have been thrown out of whack by their sudden precipitation out of hyperspace. Aided by her quick intervention, Cheebs manages to narrowly avoid the Star Destroyer and bring them out of a spin. The Star Destroyer jumps to hyperspace immediately thereafter – its hyperdrive startup must have had something to do with their stabilization trouble, they realize in retrospect. As soon as it’s gone and the Porgatu recovers, a stern warning comes over the comms: This space is under Imperial control. Leave immediately! Checking the navicomputer, they realize they’ve mysteriously dropped out of hyperspace in Massadune’s gravity well. Massadune is a gas giant in Phaseera’s second orbit; their intended target, the eponymous planet Phaseera, is in the third. As soon as they have their bearings Cheebs initiates the short jump to Phaseera.
Phaseera is a planet notable for its relatively low gravity, its dangerous megaflora & megafauna, and its huge city-buildings. The latter stand several kilometers tall and house millions of sentients each. The Porgatu puts down at the starport at the base of Chephurbeaux, the planet’s capital city – 8.5km tall and housing 12 million sentients. As C4-BL3 promptly connects to and starts mining the local holonet for relevant data, Kantarra finally briefs the crew on her mission. R3-M3 begins diagnostics to figure out why they suddenly dropped out of hyperspace at Massadune.
Kantarra’s primary mission is to recover a valuable piece of technology (a prototype “micro-hypermatter annihilator fusion core”) which apparently was stolen from whomever contracted with Kantarra’s boss. The thief, she says, is himself expendable and in fact a secondary target, though another secondary objective is to extract certain information from him first. Kantarra also reveals that she has a “license” of some kind, so despite a fairly strong Imperial presence on Phaseera, she is confident she can resort to violence without fear of legal repercussions. She has the thief’s name, chain code, and an alias.
True to form, C4-BL3 makes short work of local information networks. He verifies that their target, Crag Torthell, arrived in Chephurbeaux a few days prior and has taken up residence on the 13th level. (Each level of the city-building is 500 meters high.) The comm droid is able to trace Crag’s movements by his chain code, and they demonstrate a machine-like regularity, heading back and forth to the first sub-level where small purchases are made daily. He also handily slices into the building’s security camera network for the 13th level. Reviewing relevant footage from outside Crag’s apartment, the party catches an important detail: Crag himself only made the first trip to the sub-level, but he had a mouse droid with him. Subsequent trips (with the noted machine-like regularity) were only done by the mouse droid, which somehow must be carrying his chain code. Also, they discover that Crag’s alias of “Tallor Gretch” is conducting business every morning in the sub-basement at the “Ugly Bantha” cantina – outside of its stated business hours.
Kantarra and Cheebs take a walk around the ground level of the city to get the lay of the land. Cheebs senses they’re being followed. Instinctively he splits off from Kantarra, sauntering off in another direction, doubling back, and going into a refresher. Although he’s not practiced in losing a tail, his movements show a natural talent (or just his vaunted good luck). He spots the tail: a brown-haired human male (“they all look the same,” the Duro thinks to himself) who acts like he’s been made and fades back into the crowds. Cheebs finds Kantarra again, and they both ponder what it might mean that Cheebs has been followed as soon as they debarked.
The group hatches the first part of their mission plan. While C4-BL3 acts as their eyes & ears from the ship, Kantarra & Cheebs will check out the Ugly Bantha in the morning when their target is there under alias and act as though they don’t know it’s closed. They’ve missed today’s daily opportunity (it’s already late afternoon). Cheebs suggests they spend the evening checking out the cantina to scout the location while C4-BL3 attempts to gain security access to that sub-level. As our scene closes, Kantarra and Cheebs prepare to go have dinner and drinks at the strangely named establishment.