That Whole Ice Area

Hyperspace to Falleen

Tam It, Answer Me!

Venn will first call Tam into his "office". Basically asks him point blank "Okay, Tam, what exactly did you and Orden get up to back on Antaras?"

Tam looks at Venn, confused. "Sorry, sir? It's all in the report. We had to run out to pick up some gear, and we stumbled into a local Imperial post. It took us a while to first confirm that they didn't know about us and second maneuver around them to get back to the ship."

Venn knows Tam well enough that, despite the plausibility of the report, Venn still believes Tam is holding something back. He pauses to regard Tam for a moment, then responds, "Tam… are you and Orden having a relationship?"

Surprised and genuinely confused, Tam stammers out a "No! Er, no, sir."

Venn responds, "It's fine if you are."

Tam pauses just a moment too long, then quickly says, "Okay, sir, but no, really, we're not. Involved."

"Well, then we have a small issue, Tam, because I don't think you're being completely honest about what you and Lt. Orden were doing on Antaras. pause As it happens, my own mission was of a personal nature, so I am well aware that I don't have a great deal of room to complain. However, I do have to report to my superiors as well, and this is what I know… An intelligence analyst, someone with extensive knowledge of Alliance secrets, and who has… an unusual mental outlook, leaves the ship unauthorized with the former Imperial stormtrooper in tow. They were out of required communications for several days, on an Imperial occupied world, and after they returned, when asked t report on their activities, they seem to be withholding information against orders." pause "Now, I trust you Tam, but I'm sure you're aware that there are a lot of people who don't. And I really don't want to have to give that report to Command. So you tell me, what is Command going to think?"

Tam visibly stiffens, though you can tell from experience he's holding back a surge of temper. Still, he bites it all back and says calmly, "Sir, if there are any differences between my report and Lt. Orden's, I would be more than happy to address them. However, I've reported all of the relevant information from our activities to the best of my memory, and I will swear to that in front of any panel you'd like."

Venn: sighs "That's how it's going to be?… I don't get it, Tam. I'm pretty sure you'd sooner gnaw off your own arm rather than bypass a protocol. So why the hell do I get the sense you're disobeying a direct or… pause Tam, are you obeying orders from higher up the chain?…"

Again, Tam pauses just a second, then says, "Sir, if I may speak freely?"

Venn replies, "Go ahead."

"I hope that you would know by now, sir, that I try to obey every order I am given to the best of my abilities."

Venn: pause "Well, I'm somewhat concerned as to why those orders might have bypassed me. But… I suppose I'll have to be satisfied with your report…. I trust if there is something further that I should know about you'll be good enough to tell me."

Tam visibly relaxes and says, "Of course, sir."

Regards Tam for a minute. "Thank you, Tam. That'll be all."

No Orden-ary Interrogation

Next, Venn calls Orden into his stateroom.
"Lt., I'd like you to walk me throughwhat happened with you and Lt. Minera back on Antaras."

Creepily, Orden begins reciting nearly word for word what she put into her formal report.

After a couple of minutes, Venn interrupts Orden. "I was hoping for what you didn't put in the report."

Looking confused, or more accurately pretending to look confused, Orden says, "Sir?"

Venn says, in a friendly, matter-of-fact voice, "Well, the report you and Lt. Minera turned in seemed somewhat… vague. I got the feeling that perhaps you two were engaged in some other activities that you might have neglected to put in your original report. That happens all the time, and I wanted to give you the opportunity to correct any omissions there might be…"

"Commander, I don't believe there were any omissions, but if you found discrepancies between my report and Tam's, I can explain them all."

"I'm sure you can, Lt. Here's my problem, I'm getting the sense that you and Tam are holding something back. I initially thought you two might have been having a personal 'rendezvouz,' but Tam assured me that wasn't the case." check her reaction to that last statement…

Orden looks absolutely, completely, and honestly confused at the "rendezvous" statement. Venn would even go so far as to swear she might not know what the hell he's talking about.

With that reaction, Venn adds, "…romantic rendezvous."

"Romantic…" she still looks slightly puzzled, but then Venn sees the clue meter suddenly fill. "Oh! Yeah, that's it. You caught us. He took me out on a date, and we bought new clothes. It was totally a date." At this moment, Venn realizes that Orden is a terrible fucking liar.

"Tam took you on a date in the sewer? An unusual choice…"

"No, Commander, that was because of those Imperials, like the reports said." Orden, thinking Venn is serious.

Venn reacts quickly, trying to get Orden to slip as she's a bit flustered, "Who was it who ordered you on the mission you were on?"

Confused again, Orden says, "The gear mission? Or the date mission?"

Smiling, Venn says, "Let's go with the date mission…"

Looking relieved, Orden says, "Oh, Tam did that. But it wasn't an order. I have more ranks."

"Ah… how about the mission you didn't put in the report?"

"I thought that was the date mission! You're confusing!"

Patience starting to run short, Venn retorts, "The mission that wasn't made up. Did you get your orders from Command when we were with 3rd fleet?"

"I'm still confused! We ALL got orders when we were with 3rd Fleet. That's their job!"

Calmly, Venn asks, "Were you given orders that I was not to know about?"

Suddenly jumping into odd logic-puzzle mode, Orden says, "Now that doesn't make any sense. If I was and I said so, you'd know about them, and I'd have violated the orders, but if I wasn't, I'd ALSO say I wasn't, and so I always have to say 'no.'"

Venn pauses for a moment, switching tactics. "Look, Amanha, here's why I'm concerned… I'm fairly sure you and Tam are trying very hard not to tell me. There's two explanations I can think of… First, you were ordered on a secret mission, that, for some reason, the Alliance didn't want me to know about. Second, you two were doing something the Alliance might not like. Now, I've known Tam a long time, so I don't think you two were into anything very bad. But… do you know what it means to be someone 'with all the ranks'?"

Orden tries to deflect your statement, but she's sort of concerned now, and you can see she doesn't hide it well. "No, I don't have _all_ of them, I just have more of them than Tam."

"Well, I do have all the ranks, at least with this group. And that means, if something happens to deCrion, or Kane, or Tam, or you… it' my fault. I'm ultimately responsible for your actions and for your well-being… and either of the two scenarios I just listed has me very concerned. If you two were off on a secret mission, well, that's what you have to do. But, if I don't know what you two are into, I can't help you if something goes wrong. Now, that's the way it might have to be. We are soldiers. But I'm still not comfortable with that. If you two were not off on a secret mission, then I have to report to Command that two of my crew, one of which is still suffering a great deal of mistrust due to his past loyalties, went off alone on an Imperially-occupied planet, failed to maintain comm contacts, returned under suspicious circumstances, and then lied to their CO. I don't think that would look good for either you or Tam. Now, as I said, I don't think you two wer doing anything wrong… but… Amanha, do you understand what I'm saying?…"

Orden, finally looking like she knows what to do about all this, says, "Yes, Commander."

With that, Venn pauses, then asks, "All right… is there anything else you'd care to add to your initial report?"

Orden confidently replies, "No, Commander."

"Alright. Dismissed, Lt." as she's opening the door, "Oh, Amanha… glad you and Tam made it out all right."

"Thank you, Commander."

Sidara-n Quiet In Here

During the trip between Antaras and Falleen, Kane (and much of the rest of the crew) begin to notice that Sidara is acting strangely around Venn. She doesn't seem to meet his eyes, and she doesn't speak up as much.

Falleen

Venn keeps Orden, Tam onboard ship for now. Venn also asks Kane to keep the trade reasonably quick.

While "trapped" on ship, Orden decides to hook into the local network to check up on her shell-company cover identity. In the process, she notices that her account has been credited to the tune of 1,500 credits, apparently in payment for the mission she and Tam completed on Antaras. Seeing this, she decides to check Tam's accounts (though he doesn't know she can do this…), finding the same situation for him.

Kane leaves the ship with Wen and Starfall. In deference to the known effect of Falleen pheremones, the three decide to exit the ship wearing fully-sealed environmental suits. The stormtroopers guarding the spaceport seem amused (as much as you can tell amusement through a fully-sealed helmet), but none of the Falleen the team encounter outside of the spaceport seem to even take notice.

Kane eventually finds a shop that seems potentially interested in his goods, though the market is very small for a spaceport of this size. Kane eventually decides to sell for enough money to cover docking and resupply fees.

Meanwhile, Kane decides to look around for a route into the underworld. Kane decides to call Venn to request more time to search for more profitable cargo, catching Venn with his pants around his ankles. Kane brings Wen and Starfall to some galleries and starts asking around to find out more about how the artwork is developed. By the end of the first day, Kane feels that he's starting to get a handle on how to tell quality from trash, though he doesn't really always understand why good art is good art.

On the second day, Kane visits an art gallery, deciding to take off his helmet and risk the pheremones in order to get a better tour of the art gallery. During this tour, he learns about the Falleen's driver for art: their deep, though deeply hidden, emotionality. Understanding this drives his understanding much further, and Kane decides to try to purchase some artwork for resale from the gallery owner.

Kane once again contacts Venn to give him a status update, explaining what he's learned. He also suggests that Venn bring Orden in on this, as she might gain some insight into the Falleen from experiencing the same emotional shifts he did. Venn considers that approach, as it is interesting, but he decides the risk is potentially too great that Orden might react poorly; he decides to pass for now.

Kane then decides to ask Wen and Starfall in on his art trading idea since both have liquid assets. Both agree to do so. Wen pitches in 2,000 credits, and Starfall pitches in 1,500. Kane decides to buy a number of smaller pieces, some paintings, some sculptures. In all, he buys: a painting (1,200 credits), three tiny spun-metallic sculptures (400 credits apiece), a very intricate glass-and-metal ornament (900 credits), and 6 pieces of jewelry (200 credits apiece).

TODO better descriptions of the individual pieces

Piece Description Value
Painting 1,200
Spun-metallic sculpture 1 400
Spun-metallic sculpture 2 400
Spun-metallic sculpture 3 400
Glass and metal ornament 900
Jewelry 1 200
Jewelry 2 200
Jewelry 3 200
Jewelry 4 200
Jewelry 5 200
Jewelry 6 200

After that, Kane et. al. head back to the ship to stow the cargo and continue on to Sacaya.

Venn, Interrupted

While on Falleen, Venn schedules short watches for people staying on ship. He takes the first, which is uneventful. Tam comes in to relieve him, and Venn heads back into the ship's commons area. As he passes through, he notices that Rourke and Orden are deep in some kind of whispered conversation and don't seem to notice him. With Kane, Wen, and Starfall all off the ship, he decides he may have an opportunity to spend some more time with Sidara. He heads back to her room and chimes. He hears a muffled acknowledgement from within the room, so he keys the door open and enters.

As Venn enters, he sees Sidara closing up her locker. Venn catches a glimpse of some sort of plush thing in the locker as it sort of falls forward. You just catch the barest of looks as she puts her hand up to catch it and push it back in, quickly closing the door. Sidara then turns to see Venn standing there and reflexively straightens. "Sir?"

Venn says "I'd liketo talk to you about the wepons systems…" then turns and closes and locks the door. Turns back to her… "or we could talk about other things… as everyone else is currently occupied." He then steps to within a few feet of her. Sidara blushes slightly and smiles a little. She starts to open her mouth to say something, then closes it again.

Instead of saying anything, she steps close to Venn and leans into him, standing up on her tiptoes to come closer to looking him in the eyes. Venn leans in to kiss her. Sidara responds in kind. At first, she seems happy to just make out. Then, after a few moments, she seems to remember that alone time is a rare commodity. She begins to strip her clothes and armor off quickly. Venn quickly interrupts her, quietly persuading her to take her time. Venn lingers over Sidara for a while, undressing her slowly. As he finishes, she gently pushes him down onto the bed and begins to return the favor. Just as Venn's pants are literally around his ankles, Venn's comm activates.

Venn starts and mumbles to himself, "Noctaris' ass." He rolls to the floor to dig for his comm in his pants pocket.

"Venn", he acknowledges. Thankfully, the call is just a status update from Kane; he's been pursuing profitable cargo on the planet, and he's called to request another day to do more research and purchasing. Venn acknowledges, still somewhat distracted.

After the interruption, Venn hangs up. Sidara had dived to the floor to get dressed again, but as she heard Venn's end of the conversation, she slowed and stopped, first confused, then amused.

Venn smirks, shrugs, and says, "More alone time." As Venn looks at Sidara holding her underwear and smiling, he does a double-take. Her blast vest is on the floor, and she'd kicked it slightly in her dive for her clothing. Venn notices what looks like a cat's head sticking out of one of the flopped-open ammo pouch pockets. On second glance, though, it's not a live cat - it's some kind of stuffed animal.

Taken completely by surprise, Venn stares at the cat for a moment before he comes back to his senses and begins to stare at Sidara again. "Uh… Sidara… when did we begin including stuffed animals in our combat load outs?…"

Startled, Sidara flushes and quickly bends to grab her vest. She clutches it to her chest as she spins to put it neatly on her desk. Venn notices that she is extra gentle tucking the stuffed cat back into the pouch and closing it back up. "Just.. just a little… souvenir. It's nothing," she says dismissively.

Venn gets up and walks over to her and wraps his arms around her from behind. "Easy, I wasn't trying to make fun of it. Take it out…" Sidara hesitates for a moment, and Venn slowly moves to unzip the vest. Sidara gently pushes his hand away and very carefully pulls out an old, worn, but impeccably cared for Cassie Cat. "Who's this?"

"Cassie", Sidara says in a whisper.

"Hello, Cassie… You kind of remind me of a stuffed pleef I used to have…" Venn then pauses for a second, considering how to continue. He looks to Sidara and smiles, "Do you always take Cassie with you when you go out on a mission?"

Sidara is gently holding Cassie; she's gone that particular form of still that she uses when she's trying to repress some strong emotion. She's almost absent-mindedly stroking the stuffed animal with her thumb, and her eyes are half-glazed with memory. It takes her a moment to respond; when she does, she very quietly says, "She comes everywhere with me."

Sensing she doesn't want to say anymore, Venn just rubs her shoulder with his left hand. He reaches around and gently pet the cat on the head and softly say, "Well, it's nice to meet her. And there's no need to hide her on my account. I definitely understand the need to keep friends or other things from home close." As he says that, Venn remembers that most of his precious possessions were impounded by the Imperials, and with everything going on at home, he doesn't even have a family photo with him at the moment. Shaking his head slightly to clear the thought from his mind, he starts once again to focus on Sidara.

Meanwhile, Sidara has softly placed the stuffed kitten on her desk. She turns again to Venn and leans against him again. Slowly, she begins to kiss Venn again, whispering something unintelligible in his ear. Venn starts to ask what she said, but as things heat up, the thought is pushed from his mind by other, more important thoughts.

fade out, then in….

Afterwards, Venn and Sidara quietly talk, trying to learn more about one anothers' lives. At this point, she even feels comfortable (and her defenses are lowered enough) to open up, quietly, about her father's death, explaining that that's why she still carries Cassie Cat with her everywhere.

Sleepy and with her defenses down, Sidara spills much more than she would when fully awake. When she finally starts to drift off, her last words are, "Don't make me hurt you for telling you all this…."

Venn kisses her temple and whispers in her ear, "Yes ma'am."

Venn stays in bed with her for another half hour or so, then creeps out of bed, dresses, folds her clothes, and gently places Cassie on her pillow before he leaves to atend to other duties.

Matchmaking 101

Rourke and Orden

Despite being essentially off duty during their time on Falleen, Rourke decides to spend much of her time on the ship. She has been told about the potentially mind-affecting Falleen pheremones, and should any member of the crew fall prey to a particularly powerful dose, she would be needed to assist. As a result, she has been preparing quarantine protocols; overkill, surely, but it never hurts to practice.

After hours of writing, studying, and re-writing her protocols, Rourke starts to feel as fuzzy as her nearby gauze pack stash. In order to clear her head, she decides to wander out of Medical and into the commons area to grab a quick drink and snack. As she's sitting at the crew table, she feels a presence come up behind her.

Rourke turns to find the person she least expected: Amanha Orden. Tentatively, she asks, "Can I help you…?"

Orden pauses for long enough that Rourke is starting to wonder if she's finally malfunctioned completely. Just before Rourke can start to speak again, though, Orden finally says, "How many boyfriends have you had?"

Completely taken aback by this particular question, Rourke stammers out, "What? Why?"

"I just need to know, okay? I need data. For something. Secret."

Wheels in her head spinning 100 miles a minute, Rourke tries to wrap her brain around Orden's thought processes (and not for the first time). She's never been known to pry like this. What's going on? Why… oooooooohhhhhh. "Orden… have you been seing someone?" She briefly pauses as an even crazier potential problem comes to mind: "Are you saying you think you might be pregnant?"

"No— God, no! What? Why would you think that? What does that have to do with anything?" Orden snaps back at her.

"I just… the way you were asking… never mind. What is going on, then?" Rourke asks, still in near-shock from the sudden fright she just experienced.

"Look, can you just tell me how many boyfriends you've had? I… I just need to know." Orden continues, deflating somewhat.

Intrigued by this decidedly odd turn of events, Rourke decides to play along. "Well, I've dated a few men I'd call my boyfriend at the time…."

"But how many is a few?" Orden near-whines. "Look… can…", she takes a breath and hands over her datapad, "can you just fill out this form?"

In a slight daze, Rourke takes the pad from Orden and begins to look it over. It looks as though Orden has put together a detailed relationship profile questionnaire for Rourke to fill out. How many boyfriends? How many were serious? With how many has she achieved sexual congress? What the…? And detailed profile forms for each! This is… this is beyond creepy. Before Orden can get away, Rourke calls out, "Wait just a minute here! I… I… I'm not filling this out! This is just… creepy…."

Dejected, Orden shuffles back to Rourke. Very quietly, she asks, "Please?"

Disturbed, Rourke glances down and thumbs the form closed, starting to say, "No, Orden. I'm not giving you my detailed sexual hist…ory…." she trails off as something clicks in her brain: she notices that the next tab open is Tam's detailed service history, and everything suddenly clicks into place. Orden starts to speak as Rourke trails off, but Rourke jumps in, interrupting her. "I'm not going to give you my detailed sexual history, but I think maybe we can talk about some other things… some other, ummm, 'relevant data points.' Okay?"

Confused but grateful for any help, Orden nods, "Okay."

fade out on Rourke talking to Orden about "boys"

Rourke and Tam

That night at dinner, Rourke decides to closely observe Tam's interactions with Orden. During the dinner, she realizes how he's been acting more timid around her than before. Though he's still generally confident and aggressive, he tends to choose his words and actions very carefully when interacting with Orden.

Rourke being Rourke, she decides this is the perfect time to begin meddling in other people's affairs.

Throughout the next day, Rourke carefully watches for those few occasions when Tam and Orden are together. Each time, she drops a carefully-prepared hint, a little, "Cozy little workspace you've set up here", "Sorry - I didn't mean to interrupt you two", or similar hinty phrases to see how they react. While she doesn't really get a big reaction from them the first day, she can't help but bubble over with anticipation. This meddling is going to be so much fun!

En Route to Sacaya

Venn completely distracted by Sidara at this point, trying to figure out how to deal with this relationship.

Kane, on the other hand, notices this. Also notices that Rourke keeps saying weird stuff to Orden and Tam (e.g., "Hey, Tam, noticed you got some new clothes!"). Kane decides to go up to her and ask, "Hey, what's up?" conspiratorially.

Thinking he wants to talk, Rourke responds by asking about Falleen since she didn't get to visit. Kane spends some time talking to her about that. In order to seque the conversation, he saves discussion about the jewelry until last. He then uses the jewelry to try to get information out of Rourke about what's going on with Tam.

Notes on "fashion" conversation, Rourke to Kane:

  • "Your whole face area"
  • "You've got that stubbly thing or whatever going on"
  • "Emphasizes your jawline" (causing Kane to stick his jaw out more)
  • "Plus, I mean… well, obviously Sidara hasn't been putting you through your laps as much as she used to" (causing Kane to pull up shirt, slapping stomach with a "punch this, it's rock hard! what do you mean, 'de-emphasize my middle'?!") Venn walks in on this, pauses for a second, then just keeps on walking
  • Kane to Rourke: "This is poser bullshit! If I got into a fight — hell, if I WENT INTO A BAR WEARING THAT, it would get ruined!" Rourke: "It's not FOR combat — obviously you don't understand fashion!"

Sacaya II

Scanning around, find glimmer that looks like tail end of a ship. Scan and find rocky surface about 5km from ship and set down there.

Venn, Kane, Tam, and Sidara suit up and head out. Tam is wearing his Stormtrooper armor; Kane, Venn, and Sidara are wearing environmental suits.

Venn and Sidara nearly launch themselves like pole vaulters at first, but eventually get used to the gravity. However, due to the rough terrain and unusual conditions, the team moves less than 1 km/hour. After about 6 hours, they finally come up on the site where they believe they saw the ship. While still about 300m away, they stop to rest and scout the area. Kane looks through his blaster rifle's scope; Tam scans with his suit optics. Kane sees Barloz freighter.

Tam quietly says "What the hell…?" Team turns to look at him, and he's not looking towards the glacier. (Boulder-rolling things)

As they close to within 100m, see "quartz-covered space lobsters" moving towards team at roughly a slow walking pace. Team watches them come closer until they get to about 20m. When Kane shoots in front of them, they vector towards the shot slightly. Assuming they're responding to the heat, Kane starts shooting a trail away from the team. One breaks off for a moment to start to follow the trail, but as the trail cools, starts to turn back towards the team.

Venn comms ship to warn Orden; Kane jumps in to ask for heat source. Tam pulls off and sets thermite charge. Seems successful, but then all sorts of them start streaming in from all over nearby glaciers. Team decides to make a break for the Barloz.

Venn: "Tam, do you have any more of those?"
Tam: "Just one."

Moving toward Barloz, no easy way to get past lobster-things since they're coming toward thermite charge from all directions.

Venn: "Do we have anything else to generate heat?"
Tam: "Just one more thermite charge. Or we could blow up a blaster…."
Venn: "I don't wanna risk that yet…"
Kane: "Can we jump over them?"

Team decides to all fire volleys at one area of ground to try to clear a hole in the ring of the lobsters. Manage to run through the gap, though one takes a swipe at Venn, narrowly missing him. Come up on cave and see freighter; a few lobster-things still huddled up near aft end of freighter. Sneak up to entrance ramp and start poking at panel, trying to open up ramp, finding it locked. Next up, tries the comms, but receives no response. Kane starts trying to hack the lock, but is distracted laughably easily. After that, Tam tries, and similarly is distracted. Team starts poking around the rest of the ship looking for other hatches they can try to access.

Rustling sounds - lobster-things near ship start moving toward party. Kane distracts temporarily with more blaster shots into Barloz hull, heating temporarily. Venn tries to sneak past lobster-things to raise Prospect, but one of the lobsters moves in on him as he does. Thermite charge has burnt out, and now other lobster-things are moving up on ship-cave. Venn is now trapped between flood outside and single inside. Can't raise ship consistently due to overhanging ices.

In an effort to distract lobster-thing following Venn, Kane shoots it. Blaster shot glances off crystalline shell, and the creature completely ignores it. Kane then tries the slugthrower, achieving a similar effect. Noticing that the weapons have no effect, Venn tries to dodge past the lobster to get back to the team. The lobster manages to just clip him in the head with a claw, dropping him to slide along the ice and leaving him dazed but conscious and not seriously injured.

Venn: "Tam, get us inside!"
Tam: "I don't have time to hack this, and we don't have weapons that seem to touch these things."
Venn: "Okay, make a hole."
Tam: "I don't have enough charges to make a hole, either."

Team, out of other options, starts heading deeper into cavern system to get away from lobster-things. After a few hours, rest. Notice spiraly scrapes in ice - where from? Image from data pad.

Big cavern, hexapod-rock-things with stubby legs scoot (faster than lobster-things) towards PCs. Extrude cable/line (like thick, goopy spider-silk) that keeps them attached to "hot spot" so they can get back quickly. Coated with something that's not entirely dissimilar from glitterstim.

Kane distracted, interested; but Venn forces issue and pushes team to move on as quickly as possible. Exit big cavern and walking down another narrower tunnel. Venn trips, crashes through thin spot in wall and runs into force field. Momentarily blinded/misty vision, then sees small jury-rigged survivalist camp set up - small generator, small force field projector, small survival hut.

Completely unbeknownst to Venn, what team sees is Venn trip, crash through wall, and tumble into shallow (10 or 15 meter crevasse). Team is trying to anchor pitons and lower rope so he can get to Venn and bring him back up.

Venn passes slowly through the force field and draws his blaster, noting a life sign reading on the scanner. Venn pulls door open. Inside, Venn sees a wookiee sitting and apparently thoroughly chained to the raised "bed" portion of the hut. Venn tries to converse (in GalStandard), but the Wookiee doesn't respond initially. After a moment, Venn lowers his blaster and slowly approaches. Venn passes his hand in front of the wookiee's face; in reply, he receives a sort of noncommittal noise.

Venn: "Wait here a moment. I'll be right back."
Wookiee: *interrogative noise*

As Venn walks outside, next thing he knows is that he (and the rest of the team) is coming to. Last thing they remember is stumbling due to massive sublimation quake. Now coming to and see that quake has exposed this campsite.

Venn re-scans, detects life form. As team starts to enter force field, huge be-robed creature comes out with blaster rifle. Venn has pistol out, but holds hand up in "whoa, hold up."

Venn: introduce self and team - "were you part of crew of Bardoz outside?"
Berobed creature: (fully covered in robe, breather, gloves, etc) "gurgle-growl"
Kane pulls out translator, and Venn starts again.
Venn: "Let me start again. My name is Venn. How long have you been here?"
Berobed creature: (via transliterator) *pauses, then decides to respond* "I'm Lowthar, and to answer your question, I think 6 or 8 weeks. I'm not sure."
Venn: "How did you get here?"
Lowthar: "I have a ship, back up the caverns."
Venn: "Was it a Barloz?"
Lowthar: "Yes"
Venn: "I assume you had difficulties and had to put down here?"
Lowthar, amused: "Close enough."
Venn: "We should have a ride out - you can come out with us if you'd like."
Lowthar, more amused: "There's no difficulty with my ship. It was just overrun by those Quartizicans, and I left for a while. And I'm quite happy here, though I thank you for your offer. However, maybe you could use some assistance getting back to your ship….?"
Venn: "Yes… that would be most helpful…."

(conversation - what are you doing? surviving. why here? it's not bad here. how do you deal with the quartizicans? lots of blaster shots to warm the ground.)

Venn: You hiding? We might be able to help.
Lowthar: Why would you think I'm hiding? And more importantly, why would you think you might be of assistance?

Lowthar: Well, what brings you here? Are you hiding from this Empire?
Venn: We're a private company looking for new areas, new business…
Lowthar: Just an explorer at heart, then?
Kane, interjecting: Everybody's gotta have a dream to follow.

Venn: What about you, sir? What do you do for a living?
Lowthar: Exactly that.

Venn continues to try to engage Lowthar in conversation, trying to get him to reveal something. At some moment, drops back to signal to others to keep close eye on Lowthar.

Oh, Good. They're Here.

Later, while still 20 minutes out, Venn picks up comms that ISD in orbit.
Venn mentions this.
Lowthar's reaction is essentially "goddamnit, I knew it, they followed you", and he takes off running down cavern toward Bartoz
Venn calling out "wait!", starts chasing

Leaving On An Old Plane

scene in cavern with Bartoz (Bacca) pushed by Prospect

  • Venn fires at him; Lowthar deflects bolt with lightsaber ("Are we done with this?")
  • Goes into Bacca and retrieves small case. Pays 25,000 to them in deal to provide cover until he gets to hyperspace
  • Venn orders copy of Agent 7117 info transmitted to Barloz

Leaving Sacaya

Everyone on board and back to normal stations

Bust out, then try to get away. Many TIE of various types chasing; IPV-1, ISD visible over horizon.

TIE interceptors catch up and fire; misses, but get off 4 concussion missile volleys.
Tam takes one out, but 2 lasers locked out; firing with 3 lasers per quad instead of 4 due to malfunctions.
Venn fires, misses.

Next round, more TIE close in to range.
2 concussion missiles still on tail
Venn and Tam take one out apiece
Sidara grazes TIE Interceptor, disabling cannons
3 new concussion missiles launched
Prospect takes rear hit from TIE bomber, soaks

Next round, four more new friends
2 concussion missiles still on tail at start of round; one impacts
Tam grazes TIE bomber and puts it out of fight, but not destroyed
TIEs miss with cannon fire
6 more new concussion missiles launched
Prospect takes concussion missile hit to rear shields, dropping rear shields and causing moderate damage to the structure

Next round
Venn rebuilding shields - manages to re-establish rear cover
Kane manages to lose all 7 missiles still tailing
Tam fires, takes out two TIEs (bomber and fighter)
Sidara ionizes TIE Interceptor
One of the TIE Interceptors bodges roll, flies right into Turbolaser bolt
Prospect manages to dodge incoming fire
Bacca breaks free of ice cave
IPV-1 closes within range
3 TIE interceptors, 3 TIE bombers break away to intercept Bacca

Next round
Kane flips a decent spin to give opportunity to shoot at craft peeling away
Venn toasts a TIE fighter
Tam fires off all concussion missiles at IPV-1
Sidara ionizes IPV-1, disabling forward shields
Concussion missiles toast IPV-1's primary TL batteries and hit the hull (was aimed at shield generator, but missed)
IPV-1 manages to hit Prospect with one laser battery, gaining some light scoring and an inoperable starboard ramp

Next round
Kane flips completely around to fly toward Bacca to try to provide fire support - flies right past IPV-1, causing pursuers to mostly break off (1 dead TIE fighter; 1 TIE interceptor sticks with Prospect)
Tam, Sidara, Orden firing on IPV-1
Venn trying to play shields this round, too
IPV-1 takes moderate damage, loses laser cannon and shield generator; hyperdrive disabled by ion cannon
Prospect hit twice in forward shields, suffering more light damage including disabling left bank of forward laser cannons

A couple of rounds away from combat as people swoop in to pursue
Sidara taking potshots at TIE following Bacca, but most are misses; manages to hit 1 interceptor on second round
TIE Interceptors fire missiles (3) at Bacca
TIE Bombers fire proton torpedoes (6) at Bacca

Final round before "cinematics"
Kane pushes Prospect as hard as possible to intercept
Venn, Tam, Sidara trying to shoot down missiles or TIEs
Venn misses
Tam misses
Sidara hits 2 proton torpedoes, manages to disable them both

Bacca intercepted and destroyed - Lowthar manages to get into his escape pod and jump out
Kane crosses mass shadow, and just as they make the jump, every single "target lock" warning light goes off

Jumping back towards Corellian run, then more jumps down the run until get to a safe-harbor starport, then finally on to Third Fleet

Back At Third Fleet

On New Alderaan

Venn debriefed; mentions going to Antaras
Reports about Tam and Orden only that they were out of communications for a while; he also asks if there are any Rebel operations on Antaras that Venn should know about ("There are no direct Rebel operations on Antaras")

Reports to Rebel Command that Lowthar may well be Jedi; notes also that he got away and gives report on ships damaged or destroyed

Reports about creatures found on planet, including possible connection to Spice

Venn read in on part of Tam and Orden's story (enough so they don't blow the IDs)
Venn asks how operatives knew Prospect was there; Orden is Rebel CIA sort of, and she has various codes in her possession to interpret various intelligence-coded messages.

No Orden-ary Debrief

After his meeting with the Third Fleet command, Venn decides he needs to re-address the debrief of Tam and Orden re: their Antaran mission. He decides to talk to Orden first, calling her into his office on the Prospect.

Orden enters. "Commander?"

"Yes, Orden, come in. Have a seat. I just wanted to let you know that Command has read me in on the 'operation' you and Tam took part in on Antaras."

Orden, to her credit, maintains a completely blank face when Venn says this. Of course, as far as Venn knows, she may just be calculating orbital maneuvers or trying to derive the existence of purple.

"I've been told you and Tam had to impersonate some fictitious Sullustan corporate executives. Now, I'd like to go over those. Please tell me what the identities were and who knows about them. Is this something that we will have to revisit, or that we can use?"

Orden considers for a moment, then seems to decide something. "The identities won't be useful for us. Using them would break them. And someone else is taking care of them for us right now."

"Alright. Are we likely to encounter anyone who might recognize you two as your cover IDs?"

"Only on Antaras. Are we going back to Antaras? I didn't get to shop there. Much." After a short pause, she adds, "Shopping is like intelligence gathering with money. For civilians."

Venn thinks, probably for the 739th time since he's met her, "Wow, there is something loose and rattling around in that girl's head…." Instead of voicing that thought, though, he says, "Uh… it's possible. Probably not often, but possible. Anyone we should avoid?"

"Stormtroopers!" After a short pause, she adds, "Oh! And Imperial interrogators!"

"Both good people to stay away fr… you were interrogated?"

"Oh, yeah, for hours and hours. It was so _borrring_, and they wouldn't let me take notes, so I had to remember every stupid thing…."

Venn stares for a bit, then slumps into his chair and gives a half face-palm. "Why were you being interrogated?…", he asks, thinking, "she's the WORST liar there is!"

"Oh, well, they thought we were Rebels. But we told them about our business venture, and we had all these earnings statements and personnel records and 1071s and 81-10-41s and prospecti and asset records and…", Venn's ears involuntarily switch off for a moment, until he shakes himself back to reality to hear, "… oh! And we had a logo."

By this point, Venn is completely mentally exhausted. He collapses into a double steepled facepalm on his desk. "And hey let you go after that?…"

"Uh-huh!"

"And how long after that before you ran into the stormtroopers?"

"No, no, the stormtroopers brought us in — I thought you said you were read in!" Orden says semi-petulantly.

"Broad strokes… Orden. Let me ask you a hypothetical. What are the probabilities that the interrogators might have seen through your ruse and let you go to observe and see where you went?…"

"One and a half percent. Assuming I have reasonable intelligence on current Imperial assets stationed on Antaras."

Wondering very stoically if the Intelligence officers know how bad a liar she is, Venn continues, "Ah hah… I thought you had to escape some stormtroopers. You know, with the sewage situation…"

"Oh, we had to avoid Stormtroopers. Which is like escape when they don't know you're doing it."

"And you don't think they were looking for you at all?"

"Well, they were looking for anyone suspicious, and we're really suspicious, especially since we were supposed to be off-planet by that point. So they were definitely looking for us. Except that they didn't know we were there. But they said it was sweep delta when I was listening to their radios, and that's a scheduled sweep, not a special sweep."

He'll question her a little more… "Okay… just… take it from the beginning…"

"Now, wait a minute!" Short pause, realization, "…Commander. If you've been read in, you already know all this stuff!"

"Like I said, broad stroks. Put it another way… if we go back to Antaras, I'm already having to lay extremely low. And it sounds like you and Tam are potentially compromised, depending on the skill of the Imperias investigating you. Hopefully, your 1.5% odds hold out, but ar there any other people besides 'stormtroopers' and 'Imperial interrogators', or any places, you two, or all of us, have to avoid?…"

Orden sighs, then says, "Just that really expensive hotel."

"Okay… thank you, Ahmana, that should be all." Venn pauses, then as Orden is leaving, adds (Columbo-like), "Oh, just one more thing… have you worked closely with any of the intel guys in the 3rd fleet?…"

"Uh-huh. They're the point of contact for all my analyses, when we can contact them."

"Okay. Thank you. Please ask Tam to come in to talk to me…" After she leaves, Venn places his forehead on the desk and sighs.

With that, Orden leaves Venn's quarters and reports to Tam's. When he opens the door to her, he's momentarily startled; when she informs him that he needs to report to "the Commander's quarters," he's disappointed, though he tries to quash that as quickly as possible. He acknowledges and heads out.

Insert Tam Pun Here

Tam reports to Venn's quarters as requested.

Venn takes his head off the desk. "Tam, come in…"

Tam enters, standing at attention. You notice that he's back to his military-esque civvies.

"Have a seat, please. Okay, I don't know if Orden mentioned this to you, but I've been broadly informed as to what you two were doing on Antaras."

Tam remains silent.

"Okay, my most important question right off. When you two were being questioned by an Imperial interrogator… who was doing most of the talking?"

Tam thinks for just a second before responding, "Frankly, sir, the interrogator." Before Venn can respond, he holds up his hand and continues, "but yes, I know what you're asking. Lt. Orden was in charge of the operation, and she was the primary target for the interrogation."

"Okay," looks Tam in the eye, "as a law enforcement officer, soldier, and professional bodyguard… if you were on the other side of that desk, listening to the cover story you two put forth… would you believe it?"

"Yes, sir. We had an incredible amount of physical evidence, and… well, frankly, Lt. Orden was surprisingly convincing. Imposing, even."

Unconvinced, Venn replies, "All right…. Is there anyone or anyplace on Antaras you or we have to avoid if we ever return there?"

Tam considers for a moment, then replies, "I think it would probably be best not to return to The Provincial Hotel, and possibly to stay away from that entire end of downtown. Other than that, though, we weren't really seen. We travelled little, generally at night, and we used enclosed and tinted speeder-limos. The Imperials took us to the interrogation in sealed APCs. Aside from hotel staff and law enforcement, I don't think anyone would be able to identify us."

"All right. Anything else I need to know?"

Tam starts to speak, then stops. "Sir, can I ask, just what were you read in on?"

Venn fills Tam in on the portion of the operation he's been told by Rebel Command.

"In that case, sir, no, there is nothing else you need to know about this operation. Sir."

"Alright. If we wind up going back to Antaras, we'll probably have this conversation again. Aside from that, I'd say that should be about it."
as he's leaving… "Tam… she actually pulled it off?"

"Surprisingly well, sir. I… Ireally can't explain why, how, or even what worked, but she looked like a CEO, not a… an Orden."

To that, Venn can only respond with a flat, I'll-be-damned, "Huh…." He then shrugs and gestures that Tam is dismissed.


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