The Crater

2 ABY – 06 Echo – 28 Zheliday (Ktil). The party (less R3-M3) takes stock of their situation, scrounges the battle site and the other wrecked , and flees the scene. Finding refuge in an eons-old impact crater, the group discusses options and plans to repair the ship. Kantarra has other ideas, however. Having ascertained the area’s safety, and finding a way out of the crater for the group’s speeder bikes (now numbering 3), Kantarra announces that she feels she has failed the group terribly. Though Cheebs doesn’t take her seriously, they find her gone in the morning. She has taken her own and left a note regarding going off on her own to track down and recover R3-M3. Cheebs and C4-BL3 proceed with their repair plan and scrounge the “Thrifty” and the wreckage of one of the fan-blade fighters for parts. They’re scared off by an approaching signal and return to the relative safety of the crater and the Intrepid Porg.

As the dust settles from the party’s pitched battle with unknown Imperial forces, Kantarra shares her suspicions they are from the sinister and mysterious “Bureau of Operations.” Cheebs hurries through damage control checks on the “Green Porgatu” while Kantarra rounds up her own flipped but mostly undamaged as well as two Imperial military models abandoned at the site. C4-BL3 salvages parts, data, and cargo from the wreck of the “Thrifty” (Vaha Nokk’s Nu-class ) after extinguishing the fire in its cockpit. The Imperial forces apparently used an incendiary device there to prevent the ’s escape. Cable finds 2 crates in the Thrifty’s hold, one containing the promised targeting computer, the other presumably being Vaha Nokk’s time-sensitive cargo. Cable also checks the body outside the Thrifty – indeed, it looks to be Darius, and he was shot in the back.

Cheebs carefully extricates the ship from the rocks and sets out northward, keeping just above the low trees. 150kph is all the barely airworthy Porgatu can manage; its port stabilizer makes ominous grinding noises when asked to change geometry, and the gaping hole in the forward hatch/ramp provides unwanted ventilation. The badly battered ship nonetheless gets them to safety in the form of a broad, 70m deep crater with steaming geothermal vents in its rocky floor. Kantarra sets out to explore and secure the crater as Cheebs dives deeper into damage control and Cable checks the data he recovered from the Thrifty. Kantarra returns and reports no trouble, and a gentler slope, a ramp of sorts, that should be navigable by the (faster, nimbler) Imperial speeder bikes they commandeered. She also found a pedestrian exit from the crater in the form of a flight of ancient broken steps winding around the entire crater. Equally strange, she reports finding a cave or tunnel of some kind leading to a cthonian door which she couldn’t open. Meanwhile, Cheebs has compiled a list of required parts and tools for the necessary repairs, some of which they already have and the remainder still needing scavenging from the Thrifty. As he digs deeper into the ship’s drive systems (areas previously maintained only by R3-M3), he sees a surprising amount of modification and oddball parts – at odds with R3-M3’s stated “keep it all to spec and shipshape” philosophy.

C4-BL3 reveals 2 sets of encryption keys which R3-M3 had trusted to him. These unlock a secret trove of service logs stretching back 45+ years, as well as navigational data on every system the ship has ever visited and a copy of R3-M3’s memory itself! Cheebs puts C4-BL3 on the task of collating the service data (change logs) to create up-to-date schematics and wiring diagrams for the ship’s systems, prioritizing the hyperdrive system. Using this data with Cable’s assistance, Cheebs estimates he can shave a week off his repair time and have the Porgatu spaceworthy in about one week.

As the three discuss R3-M3’s vanishing, Kantarra makes a grave announcement of her failing to keep the crew safe. Although Cheebs jokes and downplays this and wants to focus on ship repairs first, then finding R3-M3, Kantarra apparently is deeply upset but keeps it to herself. She says she’s going to work on a system to tow her Zephyr speeder bike out of the crater with one of the Imperial bikes that night while Cheebs sleeps and Cable recharges. That night, as Cheebs examines the Jedi holocron (wishing he could find a way to open it), he notes that one face of it is glowing. As he turns it, he sees that the glow shifts to whichever face is pointing roughly towards the door that Kantarra said she couldn’t open.

2 ABY – 06 Echo – 29 Benduday (Ktil). The next morning, as Cheebs starts to prepare for their day of salvaging the Thrifty, Cable points out that Kantarra is missing along with the Zephyr. The holo message she left behind confirms that yes, she took the bike (having towed it out of the crater with one of the Imperial units) one a one-being crusade to track down and bring back R3-M3. Cheebs and C4-BL3 proceed with their plan regardless, each taking a military speeder bike towing an empty repulsorlift crate (recovered from the Thrifty’s hold). Before approaching the battle zone in the clearing, they come across the wreckage of one of the fan-blade fighters and examine it. The ship, a “type-B” Ginivex Class Light built by SoroSuub, is a paradox: It seems to be old, dating from the Clone Wars, yet updated recently and crewed by one (very dead) Imperial TIE pilot. Taking the pilot’s helmet in hopes of identifying him one day, they also part of the deflector system, an ultrachrome reducer from the hyperdrive, and the builder’s plate from the ship.

Making a careful sweep of the clearing’s perimeter on foot, C4-BL3 and Cheebs decide nothing is amiss besides 2 of the remaining soldier’s bodies having been disturbed and dragged a short distance. Perhaps by some local scavenger fauna, they think? So they proceed with scavenging parts and tools from the Thrifty. Finishing up, Cheebs also starts to remove the Thrifty’s gangway/hatch but is interrupted by Cable’s announcement of an incoming signal. C4-BL3 detects some kind of signal approaching from the south – the direction the soldiers approached from the previous day. They jump on their speeder bikes and head north, dodging trees all the way back to the Porgatu. Apparently they were not pursued, and Cheebs again notes this mysterious sense of safety that the crater provides.

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