Pretension and Apprehension

Determined to liberate their sole Cularin contact from his captors, the group discusses their options to find & free Darin Keysar. Since the captors were uniformed as House Hirskaala guards, Cheebs, Kantarra, & C4-BL3 hatch a plan to pose as security analysts from the Metatheran and bluff their way into the Hiskaala facility. The large blast doors in the daunting compound’s wall seems to be the only way in (except for possible shuttlecraft descending from a small gap in the giant tree canopy). Two dour guards in Hirskaala uniforms are nonplussed as Kantarra leads the bluff. At her first assertion that the group is with the Metatheran , the guards use their commlinks to summon immediate help; the blast doors open, revealing four more guards plus an imposing Trandoshan named Nimree. He makes it abundantly clear that the Metatherans are no friends of House Hirskaala and are decidedly unwelcome there.

Towering over the party, and obviously unimpressed, Nimree calls their bluff: although Kantarra won’t back down, he can see plainly that they aren’t Metatherans. So what do they really want? Eventually Kantarra relents and admits that the group is from off-world, trying to free their only contact here. C4-BL3 replays video of Keysar’s snatching. Nimree is now visibly upset: Keysar works for House Hirskaala (which the Trandoshan maintains is an above-board operation, very honorable), and the goons who grabbed him were most certainly not working for Hirskaala. (Their and gear were different from these house guards, the party had also noticed.) Four uniforms had gone missing from the House’s laundry service recently; what’s more, there had been two heists in the last couple days, also using stolen uniforms. One of them had been theft of security datapads and computers from a group of Sullustans.

The party offers their assistance investigating these thefts and helping to clear the good (?) name of House Hirskaala. Kantarra produces – for the first time that C4-BL3 and Cheebs have seen – her official bounty hunter license to help establish their credentials as troubleshooters. Although Nimree’s attitude towards the group remains decidedly cool, he points them to the laundry service where their House uniforms had gone missing and wishes them good luck in getting to the bottom of these new and troubling crimes.

The party proceeds directly to the laundry. It’s a very old and run-down operation in a rougher part of town, run by an old Sullustan couple (Saduu’s Laundry). These two are soon upset by the party’s direct questioning about the thefts, but they point the group to the delivery service they use: Renna’s Transport Service. It was held up twice recently – practically unheard of in this largely peaceful town – with Saduu’s laundry shipments stolen, to the great consternation of Saduu and his wife.

Walking now toward the address they’ve been given for Renna’s Transport Service headquarters, the party suddenly hears warning klaxons going off a couple blocks away. They backtrack slightly and find their way into the street where the sirens are blaring. As they turn a corner, they feel a concussion, and the street ahead fills with dust and smoke. When it starts to clear, the party sees a gaping hole blown in the side of a large building down the block. Various figures stumble about or have fallen to the ground, but their attention is drawn to a person in uniform who looks like they just ran out into the street through the smoking hole. They toss aside a onto the street and begin running – right towards the party (“south”). Meanwhile, three others, similarly uniformed, emerge from the building and turn away from the party, moving north, acting in concert.

Acting on instinct (or perhaps guided by his connection to the ), Cheebs sticks his foot out to trip the figure running headlong at them. It works. He tumbles headlong, directly into Kantarra’s arms. But Kantarra hasn’t had the same moment of intuition Cheebs did, and as soon as this mystery man tries to wriggle free from her iron grip, she lets him go. Turning on his heel as the man starts running past them, Cheebs makes another split-second decision. Using his newly attuned reflexes for what feels like the first time, he rips Lorik’s old Raider Arms match-target out of his holster – praying it’s still set for stun from the last time he fiddled with it – and squeezes off a single stun blast. The figure drops. C4-BL3 easily hefts the human under his arm, and the trio makes haste to the smoking hole in the building.

Many more figures scurry about inside what is clearly another warehouse, all wearing the same livery as the three who have now disappeared down the street to the north (and the unconscious figure draped unceremoniously over the ’s arm). One is a female Rodian who is shouting orders to the others. She comes over to address the group when she sees them pick their way through the rubble from the street.

Her name is Renna, and she was conducting a shipment out of this warehouse when the was hijacked, she says. Though some of the hijackers were able to make off with the (full of Sullustan wine and speeder parts), two of their number were left behind. Examining C4-BL3’s bundle, she confirms this was one of them; the other will be run down presently by her three guards, she expects. She is very grateful to the party for apprehending one of the hijackers.

Cheebs’ pupilless gold eyes have an extra sparkle in them. He is grinning with pride (unspoken though it is) that he guessed correctly and acted without hesitation in gunning down the right suspect – but left him alive. He hopes his hardened bounty hunter friend noticed how he handled himself.

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