You Can't Go Home Again

TODO Trip to Antaras

This visit to Antaras occurs roughly 3 months after the previous visit to Antaras.

TODO Part 1

Venn's being pulled in a lot of different ways here. Traditional distrust/animosity for Xillash. These guys kidnapping/branwashing people, probably planning attack on Antaras, and Hesh being nice enough to use a comrade as a human shield. However, there's talk of these guys possible rebelling against the system. And it's kinda difficult to see a bunch of prisoners waste away into mindless zombies. Venn's got more stuff out of Hesh thatseems to indicate a reason for Xillashi aggression (if misguided at least how Venn perceives it). Venn needs to get more info out of him, but he's also kind of starting to empathize for the Xillash a little. He wouldn't admit it. He'll tell himself he should play nice to get information, but deep down, he's incredibly curious about these guys (these are the first he's probably ever seen up close… certainly spoken to). Oh, he will also say no one speaks to Hesh except Venn or Rourke, when necessary. Too many voices in these interrogations. Anyway, after two days, Venn will bring Hesh his meal, as well as Venn's food, and holochess. "Care for a game?"

Hesh hasn't ever played (or seen) holochess, so Venn has to spend the next few hours going over the rules and demonstrating the game. Venn will play a few games while eating his sandwich or whatever. If it looks like he's going to roundly beat Hesh, he'll pull back, trying to not win without being too obvious about it. Don't want to insult him. As we're playing, he'll start with mostly small talk for a while. "Do you have any games like this in your culture?"

Hesh: "Some. Not the same."

Venn will keep up asking questions like this. He's kinda curious about it, but ostly he wants to get a conversation going, establishing a non-confrontational dynamic, then steer the conversationback to the question he's really interested in "why do you want the Antarans destroyed" Figuring starting with chatting about strategy games might work. Lead into talking about the ship they had. And how impressive it was

Venn can tell that Hesh is carefully considering before answering any questions. He doesn't expose much about his planet or anything like that, but vague comments about culture or worldview he seems to deem as "safe" and will answer, after a short pause.

After a while (hours) of going back and forth with these questions, Venn finally decides to ask Hesh about his "Paradise" or "Eden" comment. "What did you mean by your comment about Antaras being the Xillashi <Eden>?"

Hesh eyes Venn closely for a full minute after this question. Then he finally says, "I mean exactly that. Antaras is the <fabled land> and you are <vermin?> infesting her."

Venn looks confused for a couple seconds (head cocked). "Who said this?"

Hesh replies, "This is <the Knowledge>."

Venn: "… Who delivers this <the Knowledge>?"

Hesh: "<The Knowledge> is… ancient." He says this reverently and a little hesitently.

Venn: Venn pauses for a bit, thinking, then tentaviely… "How did <the Knowledge> know that Antaras existed? I mean, humans have been living on Antaras for thousands of years, and never encountered a single Xillash in all that time. When you finally arrived, why did you assume Antaras was your paradise? There are several other inhabitable planets and moons in the system."

Hesh: "It is written. We have known of Antaras for… much longer."

Venn: "How could you have possibly knwn about Antaras if you…" Venn pauses, trailing off, lost in thought.

Hesh, narrowing his eyes as Venn trails off: "I will speak no more of this."

Venn will stare at him for a bit, then quietly gather up the game and meal trays and leave.

TODO Later

TODO clean up

Ted: Ask questions. Do you have a gods or a religion? He'll definitely ask about their art, and how important it is to them. He might ask how they view the Force, if they even know about it. How long ago is their first recorded history?
In a more lighthearted moment, do they dance?

me: Let's see… what would he be willing to answer….
He can talk a little about art - probably in the "Heathens think we only know of battles, know so little of life" vein.

Lets some information about other Houses slip as well. Antarans only knew about a few Houses: probably Fanged, River, Scale, Shade, and Shilkrin. Maybe also Volcano. He's mentioned Star for sure, let that slip. He might also let the Lightning slip.

Regarding art, Hesh speaks a little about the arts of Shade House. Their arts tend to involve skills that train them for their later lifestyle. Dance, weaving, a martial art similar in approach to yoga, and something similar to papercraft.

TODO Still Later

Venn will try again later. He'll keep coming in at lunch everyday. Hesh refuses to speak more about <The Knowledge>, but he does eventually let slip about the existence of the Star House. Venn tries to probe to see if these "ancient writings" actually contain a map or description of the Antaran system. He also asks about Hesh's personal history, particularly about how the Xillashi society and culture work.

Hesh isn't particularly interested in Venn at first, but eventually he begins to ask some counter-questions. "Why do you believe Antaras is yours, Antaran? You know it is not."

"Well, humans have livedon Antaras for thousands of years. When the first humans arrived there, they was no one else."

Hesh, doing the Xillashi equivalent of a snort: "Is certain falsehood."

Venn: "We actually have access to many historical accounts if you would like to read them. Why should I believe that your <the Knowledge> is not a falsehood?"

Hesh hisses at that. "Still heathen, still lies, still evil. Talk big game, play at <diplomacy?>, but only a <facade>."

Venn: "Evil?" "We don't go around abducting innocent people, or massacring women and children in planetary invasions." trying to keep calm, but voice is geting louder towards the end.

Hesh, very quietly and angrily: "I know otherwise."

Venn: "Really? Please name a single instance of Antaras behaving even remotely as brutal as one of your 'soldiers.'"

Hesh just looks pointedly at Venn, refusing to speak.

Venn just waits for an answer, and when one doesn't come, throws his hands up. He sits back in is chair. Sighs. Pauses. "I think perhaps that' enough conversation for one day." and leaves

Antaras Space

Okay, so, Antaras. You have, by that time, a boatload of dull, depressed Xillashi prisoners. And the black snake guy is the most together of them, of course, but they're all afflicted with something largely akin to human depression.

After a couple weeks in hyperspace, you pop out into Antaran space. Immediately, someone, roll me sensors.
Ted: on what setting?
me: Passive.
Ted: 15
me: You note that there is a relatively large gathering of capital ships in system. The ISDs have been joined by other fleet support vehicles. The Imperial presence has roughly tripled since your last visit.
Ted: I roll Tactics… 17
me: For what?
Ted: what can I gather from the deployment? if anything
me: They're stationkeeping, and there are some tenders docked with the ISDs. They're deployed in a formation the Empire often uses when they're ready to either defend or attack the system. The "Occupying Defender" formation.

Venn: "Kane, contact starport control and see if they'll let us land"
Kane: "This is trading vessel Prospect requesting a landing vector to Ialain, over."
ATC: "Granted. Approach at vector being sent now." They transmit a vector that's a bit loopy. It passes you within scanning range of one of the ISDs.

Venn immediately requests that the rest of the crew hustle the Xillashi into one of the shielded smuggling compartments. Meanwhile, he instructs Kane to fly slowly. After a few tense hours, the Prospect finally sets down.

Antaras - Docking. Day 1

After landing and securing the Prospect, Venn calls Orden and Tam over. "Orden, Tam, you've got a contact in the underground here. Can you get in touch with him? I need to turn these Xillash over to people in the government who cn cover for us, debrief us, and not turn us over to the Imperials. Do you think he could get me in touch with one of my family members?" Tam maintains his face during the question. Orden just looks at Venn quizzically. Venn continues, "I would prefer to have a way to talk to my family that would be secure. Also, if this underground member doesn't know who to trustin the government, my father certainly would."
Orden finally deigns to reply. "I'll see what I can do, Commander."
With that, Tam and Orden pack up some basic gear and head off of the Prospect.
After this, Venn starts considering his options. Until Orden and Tam can figure out whether or not the cn get in touch with this contact, Venn will have to sit on the ship, out of sight of Antarans, along with enough crew to guard/take care of the Xillash. In the mean time, he's very interested in finding out why the hell there are so many big ships over the planet. He'll ask Kane to go offship and try and find out what the deal is. Starfall can back him up.
Kane is surprisingly quiet and double-checks everything before leaving the ship. Seeing this, Venn asks hesitently, "Is… everything okay.?"
Kane: "What? Ah, it's nothing. I'm just a little…" glances at the shielded smuggling compartment. "I don't like having them here." Not spoken: "Endangering my ship."
Venn: "Well, hopefully Orden and Tam will be back with some people to take them off soon."
Kane nods: "Good. Good. What then? Trading, or moving on?"
Venn: "Not sure yet. If you find a non-time sensitive deal, let me know. But, until we get the snakes off the ship, I want to find out what the hell that fleets doing parked in orbit. There are two unpleasant possibilites. Given the timing, the most likely might be having something to do with the Xillash we encountered."
Kane nods and turns to leave. This is the most serious you've seen him. It's as if he's assumed some sort of emotional burden for the well-being of the ship and her crew, just by having these prisoners to deal with. As the door opens, he mumbles something. Venn thinks it was something about "…tired of these motherfuckin' snakes…" something something "ship."

Kane and Starfall, Day 1

Kane, as you're securing the ship, you notice a notification light blinking on the comms panel. Kane answers.
After the ship connected to the holonet, it picked up a held message on your drop account you left with the gallery owner on Corellia. The metal-and-glass ornament sold for 1,500 credits, with the gallery owner keeping 150. You can pick up the rest at any place you can authenticate the transfer.
Huh. Kane blinks, as it sinks in, then he smiles a little bit and continues leaving the ship.

Kane meets up with Starfall waiting in the main cargo bay. She's carrying her sidearm and not much else, and she's got that wavery-pacey-thing going on. When she sees Kane, she immediately starts forward. "Ready to head out?"
Kane nods "Let's do this thing."
Kane heads off the Prospect with Starfall. They walk around for a bit like tourists, enough to notice any security checkpoints or what have you, but not neccessarily run afoul of them. Just looking for any evidence of increased local Imperial policing. Hit the bars and hotspots. Kane doesn't notice any significantly-different Imperial presence from last time. As best he can determine, local Antaran peace officers are still doing the heavy lifting.
Kane decides to stop in a few bars and chat up some other spacers to see what they say about the Imperial armada. Some of the spacers mention the increased presence, but mostly as an irritant - there are additional stops, increased traffic hassle.
Having learned a little, Kane decides to follow up by asking Davin about what's going on. He and Starfall head on foot up to the front door during normal business hours and make to enter. Taking a look around but not as paranoidly as the first time.
Davin is momentarily surprised when Kane walks in, but he quickly greets Kane warmly. "How's business?"
Kane: "Good, actually. Can we talk privately for a bit?"
Davin: "Sure, sure! Come on, step into my office," he says, glancing momentarily (and apparently, appreciatively) at Starfall.
That bugs Kane a little. Why would that bug Kane a little. Is he just feeling more protective of her now because of this whole Xilash thing, or is it something else? No time to question it! Into the office! Starfall follows Kane and Davin into the office. Kane notices that Davin gestures a small head-shake at a man in the corner of the store.
As you enter the office, Davin says, "What'chu got for me?"
Kane: "Right now? Not a whole lot going on. But there's some cash in it for you if you can tell me what the deal is with those ISDs in orbit. It took me 4 hours to do a 1-hour landing. Is something up?"
Davin shrugs and says, "Not sure, really. They came in maybe a week or so ago, but they've been playing things low-key. There have been some more cargo screenings, but… I mean, they didn't need that kind of hardware just for a few smuggling checks. Rumor has it that it's more a political move than anything."
Kane: "Political? Is Palpatine running for planetary office now or what?"
Davin: "Rumor is that the Empire's pushing harder for Antaran support. Applying a little pressure to get more resources or something."
Kane: "Resources. Like what, ore? Money? Personelle? What do you have the Empire wants?"
Davin shrugs. "Look around, boyo. It's not like Antaras is a backwater. They've got resources to spare."
Kane nods "Speaking of which, how are you doing personally? Business okay? I noticed your guy out front. Is everything all right?"
Davin: "Aah, it's going fine. Just the cost of doing business, you know. But Antaras, it's pretty calm here. Anyway, you got any trade to bring in, or you looking for anything?"
Kane: "Well, there is one other thing… you have a lot of contacts in the medical industry, right? I was wondering if it is possible to get some scan data analyzed. Confidentially."
Davin considers this for a moment. "Medical scans? And you just want some expertise?"
Kane: "More like chemical analysis."
Davin: "Oh, yeah, okay. That can be arranged. I'll make some inquiries. You wanna bring in a sample or arrange a direct meet?"
Kane: "I'll get back to you, thanks. There's actually a couple different irons in the fire." Kane gives him 500 credits and a way of contacting him that doesn't compromise security, like a local throwaway email address or comms frequency. "If you need anything while we're docked, let me know, okay?"
Davin, smiling: "Hey, no problem. Come on back again while you're in town, eh?" he says, again glancing and smiling at Starfall while he says it.
As they're leaving Davin's, Kane glances over at Starfall. She's smirking.
Kane: "I'm jealous as fuck, you realize."
Surprised, Starfall looks over at Kane. "Oh?"
Kane: "Yeah. You're hot, okay? I see him flirting with you, I think, 'Why isn't that me?' "
Starfall unexpectedly chuckles. "And what's your answer to that, sir?"
Kane: "Well. We have a few hours. We could try to top my most irresponsible order ever…"
Starfall stops, confused. "Wait… you're serious?"
Kane: "Heh. What? DoyouthinkI'mserious?"
Starfall: "…Sir… you know, we're crewmates. Isn't that, y'know, against regs? I mean, you are my superior officer."
Kane: "Yeah no, uh…"
Starfall: "….ummm… should we head back to the Prospect?"
Kane: "Yeah. Sorry I brought it up, okay? I was joking about it being an order."
Starfall, smirking. "Sure."
Kane: "Just so we're clear, my most irresponsible order ever was sending Wen off to gamble with some of my money."
Starfall laughs, then, "Wait-why wasn't I in on that!?"
Kane: "You were backup."
Starfall seems mildly offended about this, actually. More so than she seemed about you hitting on her.
Kane: "Look, if I'd sent you in first, and cards hadn't gone your way, then I would have had to order Wen to squeeze into the little tight dress to come in and win it all back again."
Starfall tries to maintain her half-fake anger, but Kane talks her out of it by the time they're back at the Prospect.

All Day 1 Stories

Venn, Day 1

Shortly after landing, Rourke knocks on Venn's door.
Venn: "Enter."
Rourke enters and stands at loose attention. "Sir."
Venn: "What can I do for you, Katiara?"
Rourke: "I'd like to request a leave, sir. Just a couple of days."
Venn: "May I ask why?"
Rourke just looks at Venn meaningfully for a moment.
Venn: "To see to patient?…"
Rourke: "Yessir."
Venn smiles weakly. "I very much appreciate your devotion to your patient." Looks at her meaningfully. "I may actually have you do just that. However, right now it's more important to get the Xillash into the right hands. If Orden and Tam don't make some progress by this time tomorrow, I'll have you make contact with my sister again. I'd prefer to wait. My family is very much in the public eye. I'd rather not make a direct approach to them unless we absolutely have to. Until then…" and she might detect a shadow of resentment on his face "you have other patients to mind."
Rourke: "Sir, the… other patients are in no immediate danger. They're healthy, just… I suppose 'depressed.' And I'd like to check up on my previous patient as soon as possible."
Venn: "Do you think her doctors aren't up to the task? Or is there another reason?"
Rourke: "Purely medical… 'gut feeling,' I suppose. I wasn't there for the completion of the therapy, and I need to see how she's doing with my own eyes."
Venn lets out a long breath, thinks a bit, then says "Very well. Go and try to make contact with Orianna. It should be easier this time. Say you'd like to thank her for her consideration of your group's proposal, etc etc. It should hopefully be a lot easier this time. Sgt. Lanka will go with you."
Rourke: "Sir…." She pauses, then decides to go for it. "Shouldn't you keep her around in case you need help with the… patients?"
Venn: "You feel alright going without anyone backing you up?"
Rourke smiles a little. "Are you implying your homeworld is dangerous?"
Venn frowns… "A lot more than I remember."
Rourke: "I think the patient's security is up to the task."
Venn: "Very well. Be sure to tell my father about our situation, that the Xillash are planning something big, and that we need someone trustworthy to take possession of them and our debriefs. Let him know we are trying other routes to find trustworthy individuals, so be sure we have a way to recognize his represntatives. And give them all my love."
Rourke: "Yessir." She turns and leaves.

After Rourke leaves, Venn orders all remaining crew to prepare reports on everything they noticed concerning the Xillashi, both on Tatooine and the prisoners. Venn then retires to his quarters again to prepare his own reports.

Rourke, Day 1

TODO contact with Venn's sister, then heading to house

Nighttime of Day 1

That evening, Kane and Starfall return before Tam and Orden do. When Kane and Starfall come in, Venn notices a weird vibe between them.
Venn assumes someting's up with Kane. At first, he thought it was just the snakes… maybe something with Zymmia? Naw, probably just the snakes.
Venn asks Kane to fill him in on anything he and Starfall found out during the day.
Venn: "Kane. What did you manage to find out?"
Kane: "Rumor has it the increased Imperial Presence is a political maneuver to get some sort of official backing from Antaras. Also I have a contact who can get us some discrete chemical analysis on whatever it was we found back on that planet. If we need other medical resources or specialty equipment to figure out what's wrong with our prisoners, they might be able to help with that, too. Also, most of the local law-enforcement seems to be done by the local volunteer police force, and the blockade hasn't impacted trade or smuggling much at all. So I'd say observations on the ground are consistent with my contact's story."
Venn looks very pensive for a moment. "Thank you Kane." after a bit… (okay, I will meddle a bit) "Oh, Kane, did anything happen out there?"
Kane: "Nah, nothing major. Just struck out with Starfall."
Venn blinks for a moment… "Alright then…" turns nd walks off, shakes his head and goes back to thinking about the two groups still out.

About an hour and a half later, Tam and Orden return.
Venn: "How did it go?" Venn sees a short, dark look ghost across Tam's face. Orden just calmly replies, "We should have someone coming by tomorrow."
"Allright. Tam, I'd like to speak to you privately for a moment."

When they get to his quarters… "Did something happen?"
Tam does something he rarely does when Venn asks him a question: he doesn't answer. He considers, but then shuts his mouth, obviously thinking.
"Tam, Rourke is trying to make contact with my family right now, so if you have any doubts about the undergrund rep, now would be the time…"
Tam: "No, no sir. It's not that. It's…. Orden and I have another assignment we're going to have to complete, sir. I think she'll need to explain it."
Venn: "Are they making you do this in exchange for taking the Xillash? If so, I think we might not want to hand them over."
Tam: "No, sir. It's not that. It's… there are other motivating factors that encourage us to perform this mission."
Venn: "Very well, sen her in."
Tam: "Yes, sir."

Moments later, Orden walks in, still in her finery.
Venn: "Orden… you look very nice, by the way… particularly compared to last time you returnd to the ship…" smirk "Tam said you two have a new 'mission?'"
Orden: "Commander, I need to see your clearances."
Venn: quizzical look… "Okay…" gives her his clearance codes or whatever they use
Orden enters the information into her datapad and scans something. She then says, "Commander, what I can tell you is a… contact in the area is… in trouble, and since Tam and I have appropriate cover identities, we have been… requested to help out. Here's the redacted orders." She then hands Venn a heavily-marked-up document on her datapad.
Venn thinks for a moment, then says, "Orden, exactly how high are your clearances?"
Orden, honestly confused: "….Enough?"
Venn: "I'm just curious… I'm a Commander in Alliance SpecForces, and I can maybe read one word in 3 on this thing…"
Orden: "Oh. You should talk to somebody about that."
Venn: "……" narrow eyes, but slightly bemused "I'll do that." The document basically requests that Orden, via her cover identity, ask around about <redacted> and make contact with <redacted> to <redacted>. "Do you trust the underground representative?"
Orden: "He's fine."
Venn suddenly picks up a weird vibe from Orden. Nothing definitive, and not even necessarily sinister; just unnerving. He just now realizes that he's been feeling that vibe for this entire conversation. He only just realized it. He's felt it before, in the background, but never really realized it. It's not only extremely unnnerving… it's also oddly familiar. "Very well, Orden. That'll be all for now."
Orden: "Okay, Commander."

When she's gone, Venn will think back, try to remember where he might have felt this 'feeeling' before…. He will, half consciously, reach into a drawer and start fiddling with the Holocron.
Venn is struck with a sudden and intense desire to see his family. He was trying to throw himself into his work. He tosses the Holocron back into the drawer. And gets very antsy waiting for Rourke to check in.

Finally, an interminable time later, Rourke calls in. Venn has Tam answer and take the report. Tam comes in about five minutes later.
Tam: "Sir, Rourke just reported in. She's, quote, 'made contact and will be on station in about an hour. So far, she's been told everything is going well.' Should I understand any of that?"
Venn: "She should have made contact with my family. Hopefully, she'll call back soon." (that last part said half to Tam and half to himself)

About an hour later, Rourke comms again. Venn's waiting in the cockpit, but he still has someone else answer. Tam picks up again, and you can hear her reporting in. "The patient's fine, doing very well. The treatment worked better than anticipated. I'd like to stay and observe for a day or two, but I can return if needed."
Venn, to Tam: "Ask her if she needs her assistant to bring hr any extra supplies. If so, she might wan to send a tansport."
Tam passes along the message, and Venn hears Rourke through the comms: "I wouldn't mind having some additional scans. When does… my assistant's workload decrease?"
Venn: "She should send it the day after tomorrow, as we're offloading a lot of cargo right now."
Tam passes the message along, and Rourke agrees to send a shuttle to the public spaceport in a couple of days. She promises to remain in touch.
Venn breathes a bit easier, and promptly turns and leaves the bridge.

Start of Day 2 - Party Split

Tam and Orden leave the ship as early in the morning as possible dressed in plain clothes. They're carrying luggage. Venn asks them if they'll be able to check in. Tam will defer to Orden, who will say, "I dunno. Commander."
Venn: "Check in every 12 hours if you can."

At the moment, Venn will be seeing to the prisoners, monitoring the comms and basically waiting for the Xillash to be off loaded (which will free him up to leave). He may also go on the Holonet and do some searches for "Xillash", "snake-men", and try to see what th Holonet source and local "tv" stations say about the Imperial presence in the skies.

After that, the crew preps for a few hours to square things away. Later that morning, a cargo-hauler skiff shows up manned by a dozen large, sweaty Antaran men. They announce themselves as "Helpful Haulers, Ltd." The men approach the ship with a small, enclosed cargo dolly. Both Venn and Kane note that four of the dozen men are quite clearly not dockworkers - they move wrong. They're doing a capable job of the ruse, but they swivel their heads a little too much and are a little too comfortable with their exact location in space.

Kane gives the code-word and opens the door. The large men shuffle in to the main hold, some of them appreciatively looking at both Sidara and Zhymmia as they wait for instructions. One appreciatively looks at Wen.

Kane and Venn's Story

Kane and Venn, Day 2

Venn asks Kane to have the men's boss step into his quarters. Kane approaches the one who seems to be in charge and says, "You in charge?" Okay, you pick the right guy. He says, "Yup." "Boss wants t' see ya in his office." cocks head towards Venn's quarters.

Meanwhile, Venn will tie a hankerchief or rag or something over his face. Probably it won't be necessary, but on the off chance they didn't mention that Venn was here, it might be problematic for them to recognize him. I'd hate to think Galen was forced to hire a friggin' union/mob moving company…
The ostensible boss-man comes in to Venn's quarters.
Venn greets the man in charge. "Sorry, I'd shake your hand but I'm afraid I've caught a bit of the Aldeberon flu, mister?…"
"Black. 'S just Blank, if you don't mind, Mr. White."
"Alright. Did your boss have any information to pass on or questions for me?"
"No questions. And the only information we have at this point is that we haven't confirmed any Imperial involvement with or interest in XIllashi."
"Alright." takes out a datadisk "This has everything we've learned fro the prisoners, as well as reports and sensor data on the ships they used."
"Right." Mr. Black takes the disk from Venn.
"The cargo master will show you where the 'merchandise' is."
He turns to leave, then stops and asks, "You still have copies of all this data?" He's hesitant about the question; there's a little tiny bit of concern to his demeanor.
Venn lies: "No."
He looks at Venn for a moment, then nods. Quietly, he says, "Good. Keep it safe. Make sure your analyst has a copy. Get it submitted through as many channels as you can find, but be careful."
Venn then calls out over comms "Show them the merchnadise, captain"
Kane shows the crew to the prisoners. The offload takes about an hour, mainly because they've been very careful to keep the prisoners under wraps and make it look like they're moving cargo.

Venn, to himself: Well, we've offloaded the Xillash. Tam and Orden are out. The transport to take him to his family's place should be coming tomorrow. Venn is slightly more relaxed now that the prisoner's have been offloaded. He still needs to see if anyone in Antaran Intel knows anything about these new Xillash, and set up a way to contact his family that's secure. Both of those seem to be est served when he goes to see his parents. Until then… probably still doing Holonet searches on the Imperial Fleet (and current Antaran political discussions, bills, etc… to try to figure out what the Imps might be trying to extort). You can find some basics, news articles about the arrivals, etc. It's all propaganda about how the Imperials are there for "the protection of Antaras from the rebel terrorists." As for the bills and such, there's so much that it's hard to find anything relevant - there's just too much data. You filter through and find some bills that might be relevant, maybe… I mean, maybe. They're spending bills, and there is a lot of debate about military spending and Imperial contracts. That takes a couple of hours, and the best you can glean is that the Imperialist faction has been getting louder recently. Reading between the lines, there are proposals to allow Imperial stations/presence on Trillest, and even talk from the more extreme right about handing over some bases to Imperial control. The extremist position doesn't seem likely to pass, but it seems like the Imperials have somehow shoehorned more Imperial-friendly politicians into certain key regions. Last search before you break for lunch, you check out how Venn's father's been doing on the Council. He's taken a leave of absence and has had his junior partner executing his vote for the past few months.

Venn, Day 2

Venn will have lunch, then wait for a time when Wen is on "sit in cockpit and monitor comms" duty. Then he'll decide (partly because he's so anxious, he needs to take his mind off it, and partly because, well, they're on Antaras again… it's time to give a little of the presents to Sidara.) He'll ask her to do a weapons and explosives check in the armory, giving some excuse about "wanting to be prepared if Tam and Orden get in trouble". Then, he'll take the "carrying case" in. Venn paid like an extra 5-10 credits to have "Cassie's Place" written on the side (I'm assuming it's kinda like a cross between a dog house and a briefcase, with a 'door' on the side). Venn will take the Tommy Taozin, put him in the case, and put it on her bed. Then Venn will wait for her to finsh her weapons check.
After about half an hour, Sidara reports in to the hold, where Venn is waiting. Venn inclines his head and gestures, walking, toward her door. Puzzled but smirking, she follows Venn toward the quarters. When they get to her door, he whispers "I was hoping to have some time to discuss 'crew evaluations,' but there seems to be something wrong with your bunk."
When you two get to her door, she opens the door and pushes Venn in. "Well, help me fix it!"
Venn let's her push him in. Then watches her reaction when she sees the cassie house.
She's whipped her shirt off before she notices the Cassie House on her bed. Immediately, she freezes, and her eyes turn to saucers. "Whaa….?" she stammers. "Whaaa….? Howw….?"
Venn has a barely-containable smile on his face. This is a fairly cathartic moment for him, as her enjoyment of the gift is making him temporarily forget about the secret missions, the Imperials, his family… "I thought, given how important Cassie is… she should have her own place." He goes on, "They said that this case is made of material that is only marginally less durable than the flight recorder on Prospect. And it's got a wonderful paint job inside as well."
She's torn between crying and jumping into Venn's arms to kiss him. She locks up for just a second, then decides to do both.
He returns the kiss. Then says, "I was originally going to give this to you, along with a few other things a while ago. A sort of big holiday. But, well, things just sort of… happened. Gangsters and mystical wookiees and Xillash…"
Sidara: "Stop talking now."
Venn: "Wait, wait. I don't think we're alone. You should probably tell Cassie there may be an uninvited guest in her new house…"
Confused, Sidara swoops over to the bed and scoops up the house. She opens the door and carefully pulls out the Tommy Taozin and just stares at it (think Fiona looking at the snow globe Michael gave her on Burn Notice).
Venn, somewhat worried: "Sidara…?"
Sidara: "This… this is an original…."
Venn: "It's a thank you gift."
Sidara: "For what?"
Venn: "For everything… For helping me keep myself in one piece the last time we were here. For putting up with the sneaking and the anti-regs nature of this relationship. I know it hasn't always been easy. Mostly, just for making my days better… You have no idea how much better you're making me feel right now…"
Sidara: "Now? Oh, now's nothing." Venn has a pretty good idea what's going to happen next… and Sidara is much better at hand-to-hand combat than she appears at first glance….

An hour or so later, Venn is lying with Sidara, just trying to relax. He's lost in thought about Sidara's mental state. He can tell she's actively trying to avoid thinking about where this whole thing is going by the way she was deflecting the gift a little and jumping into the physical. He rubs her shoulder and asks, "Is there something on your mind…?" She just shrugs sleepily.
In a very careful, non-pressuring tone, "Sidara… are you perhaps having second thoughts about our relationship?"
Sidara: "Mrp-nuh", half-into her pillow.
Venn will let things happen and let her process it for a day or so. Acually, with him going out on the transport tomorrow, it might be good for her to have some alone time (well, from him, anyway) to process things.

Kane and Venn, Day 2

Kane, Day 2

Kane spends his lunch break grabbing all the data he can on the Spice-like chemicals the crew found on the ice-planet (specifically, the hexacrab "threads").
Later that evening, Kane takes Wen along to Davin's to arrange a meet with a medical analyst - a trustworthy one, one that can keep a secret. Davin charges him the "friend rate" of 250 credits.
Kane takes the opportunity to introduce Wen to Davin as well.

Venn, Day 3

Okay, tell everyone I'll be going to speak with my family and meet up with Rourke, I'll comm when possible. And, yeah, just hold down the fort. The shuttle pilot isn't someone you recognize, but, in fairness, it's not one of your family's drivers. It's obviously a hack they hired. Venn will pull the same bandage routine, just to avoid troubl with anyone who hapens to glimpse him.
Driver: "Buddy, this ain't Tatooine. What's with the facerag?"
Venn: "If you had a plasma converter explode in your face, I'd be thanking you for covering up…"
Driver: "Whoa, buddy, sorry, eh? N' offense, y'know? So, you gots any luggage?"
Venn: "It's fine. I can carry it."
Driver: "All right. Hop on in."
The driver talks almost non-stop throughout the journey, seemingly about everything and anything. Miraculously, he manages to avoid conveying any actual content. Venn was in the Senate. He's well (although not pleasantly) aware of those particular conversationalists. He'll mostly try not to engage, but after a while will try to steer the conversation toward the Imperial fleet and what the deal is there. See what ths fella has heard. He "don't know nuffin' bout them political maneuvrins or nuffin, really." After that, Venn returns to the no-engagement strategy.
The flight seems to take forever, but it's really only a few hours before you get to a block away from your sister's apartments in the city. You exit the shuttle and walk down the street. There's a limo there waiting for you. Rourke is waiting for you in the back. She smiles when she sees you.
Venn: "Katiara."
Rourke: "Commander."
Venn: "So, what has been happening? Is everyone there?"
Rourke: "Well, I'm torn between appeasing your curiousity and refraining from tainting your opinions, sir. Let me just say that all of the scans I've thought to run have come back clean, and everything seems… well. Your father's been there the entire time. Orianna drops in every weekend, and Shara's been there a few times as well. When I left, Orianna was still there, but Shara hasn't been in a few weeks - she's been unable to get leave."
Venn: "Is my mother looking better? Is she able to walk?"
Rourke: "I'd like you to see everything for yourself."
Venn would probably ask a few more questions, but would be mostly silent and slightly anxious (although hiding it better) for the rest of the trip.
Rourke turns that around on Venn to ask him how everything is going at Prospect. She particularly hints around asking about Sidara and Orden.
Venn will give a basic rundown of everything on happening on the ship, including that "Tam and Orden are off on another 'super secret mission' for their mysterious contact. Why the interest in Orden and Sgt. Lanka?"
Rourke: "I don't know what you mean, sir. I'm just asking after the crew." Rourke is not a good liar.
Venn: In a very 'I don't believe you' tone, "Riiiight." (Looking at her expecting her to crack a smile.)
Rourke: "Do you really need a reason your, ahem, 'Chief Medical Officer' might ask about Lt. Orden?"
Venn: "I can think of reasons I would be asking you about the Lt. But I'm sensing maybe more than mental health concerns?"
Rourke: "I have no idea what you mean, sir."
Venn: "Uh huh…" he says, smirking.
Rourke: "Seriously, though, sir. You sent Orden off on a 'secret mission,' even after… well, her entire past?"
Venn: "There are… well, issues surrounding that situation. Basically, there wasn't much choice. Tam'll keep her out of trouble…."
Rourke: "I hope you're right, sir. I'm still… concerned. Do you have any way of contacting them?"
Venn: "Not a good option on this mission. If anything goes wrong, it's up to them to get in touch with us."
Rourke: "Hmph." She continues, "Well, I hate to bring this up before I can cross-check my results, but… I need to show you some scans." She pulls out two papers that, to the best of your abilities, you can determine are made up of significant numbers of wavy lines.
Venn: "This looks like a piece of avante garde impressionism, Rourke…"
Rourke: "Wonderful. I have a fallback career. These are, in fact, neural scans of, on the left, your mother; and on the right, Lt. Orden. You note," and here she indicates a section of red wiggles on both scans, "these waveforms are an incredibly close match."
Venn: More serious now… "What does that mean? Do you think Orden has the same degenerative condition?"
Rourke: "I can't identify this waveform. It's… well, it's almost like a small, frequent seizure. I can't identify any negative consequences; it doesn't seem to affect either your mother or Lt. Orden. More importantly, it wasn't present in any of your mother's scans from before or during her illness. And I've never seen this particular activity in anyone before. I can't explain it, but something in my gut tells me it's important."
Venn: "Do any other members of my family have it? Or the crew?"
Rourke: "I don't have detailed scans on your other family members, or, in fact, on all of the crew members. However, I haven't seen this type of reading in anyone else whose scans I have. That includes you, Tam, Sidara, Kane, and myself. I've done cursory neural scans of Starfall and Wen, but I haven't seen anything like this in their histories, either."
Venn: "And you don't think this is causing the neural degradation?"
Rourke: "No. Your mother's scans never showed this activity until roughly 3 months ago."
Venn: "Maybe it's linked to the treatment? Did Lt. Orden ever come into contact with the drug?"
Rourke: "Not that I'm aware of, but as you know, her historical records are, well… limited."
Venn grows quiet for the rest of the trip,reading scans and reports. "Hmph." At one point later in the trip, Venn happens to catch a glance at what Rourke has been looking at/working on since Venn dropped into his brown study. She's carefully reviewing a couple of personnel histories: Tam's and Orden's.
Venn: does he tell her about Kane and Starfall? Nah, Kane struck out, and he might have told him in sorta confidence. He'll turn to her… "Medical review?"
Rourke: Quickly minimizes the files and turns to Venn. "Just… thinking, sir."
Venn, smirking: "Thinking?… Or plotting?"
Rourke: Considers for a long moment, then says, "Sir, don't take this as a bruised ego, but… do you realize that Mr. Minera has not hit on me once since we met on Hoth?"
Venn, deadpan: "I didn't. But don't feel bad, he hasn't hit on me since long before that."
Rourke, returning the deadpan: "I think I'm more his type, sir. Still, let me ask you this: is that in keeping with his personality back on Coruscant?"
Venn: "Not of what I'd seen. And I'm thinking there is a reason for it. I take it you do as well."
Rourke: "Uh-huh. And does he strike you as, oh, particularly diligent? Particularly… prone to following orders?"
Venn: "Yes."
Rourke: "Agreed! And as I'm sure you're aware, sir, Senate Guards were required to submit notice of relationship status so that partners could be… well, vetted. Do you know how many times Mr. Minera submitted his 'girlfriend papers'?" Without waiting a second, she continues, "None. Not once. He apparently had quite a reputation as a womanizer, but never once had a relationship that met the requirements for submission of paperwork. Now, let me ask you this: Is this more likely because Mr. Minera did not follow orders, or is it because he's never tried to have a relationship?"
Venn pauses "… You're really going above and beyond the call on this 'den mother' role…. How did you even get those records?"
Rourke: "I requested them through channels as chief medical officer of a Special Forces team. They're heavily redacted, but still…. And yes, I admit, sir, I am concerned. Tam… Tam is like… Tam is like a mountainclimber starting with Everest. And now they're on a… covert mission… together. I just hope he can keep his head in the game, sir."
Venn: pauses "Tam will be fine… although the fact that my medical officer looks at Tam and Orden and hopes Tam can keep his head in the game is somewhat distressing…"
Rourke: "Orden may be… interesting, but she is effective, sir." Muttering under her breath, "Frighteningly effective…."
Venn: "Well, they handled themselves well… aside from the smell… last time. They'll be alright. Be sure to get detailed copies of my mother's tests and scans, so that you can run tem against Orden when we're all back on the ship."
Venn and Rourke's conversation is abruptly broken off as the limo begins to bank and stately Tyree Manor comes into view through the screens. "Almost there, sir, ma'am," comes the drivers voice through the comms.

TODO Venn's Homecoming

By the time Venn and Katiara arrive at the manor, it's lunchtime. Since the family is sitting down to eat, the two are greeted by one of the servants. The servant leads Venn and Katiara out to the back porch. As they walk out, they see Gallos and Illiara sitting, eating, and looking out at the south vista. The servant announces the two guests, and Gallos immediately stands and turns. "Son!"
Venn is happy to see them, but around his father, slips into childhood behaviors. "Father," and walks to embrace him respectfully. (It's kinda like that scene in Indiana jones and the Last Crusade when Connery knocks Indy on the head, then sees it's his son and says "Junior?" And Indy immediately stands up and says "Yes, sir."). But slightly less noticeable. Since Venn has been largely shaped into who he is by this behavior, it's not that far from how he behaves normally. Although, after some of the things he's had to do in the Rebellion and on the Prospect, this is quite a bit more formal than he's been as of late.
After embracing Gallos, Venn turns to see Illiara still sitting at the table. She still looks thin and drawn, but her color is so much better than the last time he visited. A small walking-assistant droid is next to her chair. She smiles up at Venn and says, "Hello, son"; her voice is slightly raspy but much stronger than three months ago.
Venn drops to a knee and embraces his mother. "Mother, you're looking so well. How are you feeling?"
"I'm feeling much better… and I understand I have you as Ms. Rourke to thank for that."
For the remainder of the meal, Venn takes the time to catch up with his family. He discovers that Gallos has taken a leave of absence from the government for six months to care for Illiara. Remembering that they have business to attend to, Venn asks his father if they can speak privately later, but he keeps his conversation at lunch more focused on the family. During the meal, Venn keeps getting a sort of a weird vibe from Illiara. Something just doesn't seem right with her. Thinking about it, though, he thinks it's just that she still seems frail and sickly (though she is looking better). Or it could be that brain scan still eating at Venn's subconscious mind. The rest of the meal goes well, though, and by the end, Venn feels more confident about his mother's health.
After the meal is over, Gallos gently helps Illiara up and brings the walker over to her. He tells Venn they'll meet up in the front room in about ten minutes after he gets Illiara back to her afternoon examination. Rourke volunteers to go along and help out with the tests and keep Illiara company. Venn thanks her and goes to wait for his father.
After about 10 minutes, as promised, Gallos comes in. "Son, you said you had some business you needed to discuss with me?"
Venn: "It seemed best not to burden mother with much f this. First, Father, I know you're taken an absence, but you must know why the Imperials have stepped up their fleet presence…"
Gallos: "Venn… I've not been to the Capitol in 3 months. I've had very little contact with what's going on… I only know that the Moff has been putting more political pressure on Antaras to more formally join the Empire. Beyond that, I don't know what's going on."
Venn: "I've heard rumors that the Loyalists are gaining strength, and talking about establishing Imperial presence on Trillest."
Gallos: "Is that so? Hmph. Well, I'm sure Tyvan (Ed: the Vice Chancellor) will deal with it. He knows my position on these matters."
Venn: "Father… I know you want to spend more time with Mother, but now that she's recovering, the Council needs your voice back. If the Loyalists keep up their stealth campaign of quiet appointments, we might soon have Imperial Garrisons nd battallions of stormtroopers on Trillest, and we mght not be able to dislodge them."
Gallos, slightly sharply: "Venn, at this point, family is more important. I trust Tyvan to do what's needed."
Venn: "Father… I know we all were afraid for Mother, but she's stronger now, but you wee the one who told me that nothing can come before our duty to the people."
Gallos, icily: "So you came all this way to criticize me for caring for your mother? Perhaps I should leave, instead, and not return for years?"
Stung to the core, Venn quietly replies, "I'm only trying to do what you taught me."
Gallos again retorts icily, "Perhaps I didn't teach you well enough. Otherwise you'd understand proper priorities more readily."
Venn starts to reply, but his reply dies in his mouth. There is a momentary icy silence. Then Gallos starts to stand.
Venn interrupts his father's exit by saying, "The Imperials are not the only threat." Gallos stops and once again turns to Venn. Venn takes out the data chip. He hods it out or his father. "The Xillash are on the move."
Gallos, after a moment, takes the data chip. "Meaning?"
Venn: "We were on Tattooine recently on… business. We found a large number of Xillash had taken up residence on the planet. They were made up of Outcasts who have apparently formed a new Renegade or Rebel House. They seem to intend to win their way back into Xillashi society. They made cryptic statements about an impending attack."
Gallos: "Outcasts don't band together; Xillashi don't talk to humans; and Xillashi as far out as Tattooine? None of that makes any sense."
Venn: "These Xillash were kidnaping spacers mostly, giving them drugs, and either conditioning them to perform functions aboard their ships, or instruct them in skills common in the wider galaxy. They've also built new, more dangerous ships. One of them nearly destroyed two Carrack class Cruisers trying to escape from Tattooine."
Gallos thinks for a second, then pockets the data chip. "I'll courier this to Tyvan. He can deal with it."
Venn: "We managed to capture nearly a dozen prisoners. Apparently,the outcasts are chemically castraed, which seems to cause them to lose their drive and willpower. This Rogue House has developed drug that reverses it. We've handed the prisoners over to 'friendly individuals' on Antaras. You may be able to get more information out of them, but you'l have to reproduce this drug to do so. One they stop taking it… they don't talk much anymore."
Gallos: "Then why not just hand over this data to those 'friendly individuals' as well?"
Venn: "Because, I'm not entirely sure who to trust these days (pause), and as the most influential member on the Ruling Council, I thought you might want to know the details of a clear and present threat to the Antaran people."
Venn can see the thought flicker behind Gallos's eyes: "I'm on leave." However, he doesn't say it. Instead, he just says, "Fine. I'll courier this to Tyvan and ensure he makes the military aware of the threat." His tone is one of finality, like he's preparing to leave.
Venn: "Father, you have to come back into the fray! Think of what a Xillashi attack right now would mean to Antaras… If they're even remotely sucessful, you know what they'll do. But even if we manage to repulse them, we'll most likely have to do it with Imperial aid. If that happens, the Loyalists will have al the political capital they need to pain the Imperials as the saviors of our world. The people will be begging for increased Imperial 'protectors'. At that point, you may as well retire permanently, along with the rest of the Antaran government. The only decisions to be made will be made by some sadistic lapdog of Palpatine!"
Gallos: "I've heard enough from you! I have a responsibility to your mother as well! There are other men, good men, working to keep that very thing from happening. They are quite capable of keeping things under control until I return."
Venn is feeling angry and disappointed and a bit guilty. These thngs war on his face as he just stands and takes Gallos' dressing down. Gallos starts to again stand to leave. Venn stands and says nothing.
As Venn stands, he sees an odd glint from outside. Immediately, his stomach falls and time slows to a crawl. Venn dives into a full waist tackle, bringing Gallos to the ground just as a series of small holes open up in the window and the far wall, roughly at chest level. As the two hit the ground, Gallos gasps for breath and rolls into the next room; Venn rolls to the wall and has his blaster in his hand before he realizes he's reached for it. A second later, Venn hears an odd series of cracks echo through the room.
Venn: "Guards! Guards!" Crawling after his father, keeping his blaster trained in the genera direction of those sounds or the window. If he can get behind cover, he'll take out his hold out blaster and give it to his father.
Gallos is sitting against the wall in the next room. He appears uninjured, and he's whispering into a comm. Venn hears the house start to come alive with activity. Venn slides the holdout to his father, then gets into a crouch. Take out his comm, and call Rourke.
Rourke: "Commander, what's going on? Everything here just went into lockdown."
Venn: "We're taking fire. Where are you?"
Rourke: "Still in the study/medical room. We've got, let's see, 7 guards here, so I think we're safe."
Venn: "Stay there and see to my mother." Venn then looks for a mirror or reflective surface.
Rourke: "Yes, sir."
Meanwhile, Venn ducks slightly around the corner to glance into the foyer mirror, looking out the front of the house. There's a commotion in the front yard. Two guards are down; four more are taking cover behind the strategically-placed landscaping details. They're returning fire into the woods.
Venn: "Two guards down. Four firing into the woods." Venn looks around for something vaguely head-shaped to slowly poke it out about eye-level, hoping he might draw some fire. After a minute, he spots a globe; he grabs it and pokes it around the corner, but there's no additional fire. Venn pokes his head and blaster around the corner and looks into the room for a target. They're buried very shallowly in the wall, and they're shinier than you'd expect. Dismissing them, Venn crouch-moves into the room, heading to a window to try to find a target.
As Venn crawls into the room, the wall with the projectiles embedded explodes, showering Venn with shrapnel and knocking him into the outer wall under the window. Venn is momentarily dazed. Reaching down, he touches his side, then brings his hand in front of his face. He sees that it is covered in blood, but for a good ten-count, he can't put together that the blood must be his. ears ringing, he sits up, with his head behind cover, and falls back into training. Assess injury. Look around. Did the explosion do any damage to where Gallos and Venn were hiding? There's a hole in the wall, but it's not the wall where Gallos was hiding; Venn decides he must be safe. Assessing his injuries, Venn decides they're mostly superficial. Had he been walking, he probably would be dead. Instead, he's mostly taken some shrapnel to the side and a blow to the head. His right arm is stiff and hard to move. He'll switch his blaster to his left, and raise a large piece of debris or whatever he can find up to a window to see if it draws fire. If not, he'll peek and eye out and try to see what's going on.
After a few seconds pass and no fire appears imminent, Venn starts too look out of the window. The guards outside have stopped firing and are on comms. A second later, a couple of servants rush to the doorway of the front room. Venn hears them asking him if he's okay over the ringing in his ears. Venn calls out, "Fine, just minor injuries!", as he struggles to stand.
As Venn stands, the servants rush in to help, apparently having decided that there will be no more shooting for now. They help move Venn and Gallos back into the house toward the study-converted-to-an-operating-room. Venn checks his father, but thankfully, Gallos doesn't appear to be injured.
The OR is heavily defended; Rourke's 7 guards around the room have become 10. Some of the other servants have been brought in to wait with Illiara and Rourke. A couple of the guards are on comms. Venn overhears a patrol calling in to report that the perpetrator apparently got away.
Venn grabs Gallos's shoulder as they enter the room. "Father, if more Council Protectorate are on their way, Rourke and I need to be hidden."
Gallos looks at Venn for a long moment, then turns to a nearby guard. "Saya," he tells her, "please escort my son and his friend to the limo. Take whoever you need and get them out of here."
Venn: "Father… the Loyalists apparently want to make your absence permanent. Don't oblige them." Said half seriously, but with a somewhat pained smirk.
Gallos: "I've been here for months without an incident. Don't be so sure it's me they're after."
The guards group around Venn and Rourke and escort them through as much cover as possible to the garage. On the way, Venn notices at least one blanket-covered body lying in the front hall. As the limo pulls away, he sees the two downed guards in the front yard are still there as well, not moving. Meanwhile, Rourke is doing all she can to carefully patch up Venn with a half-empty medpac.
Venn for his part, is thinking about the timing. It seems more likely the Loyalists tried to assassinate his father, especialy given the political climate. There are easier ways to get rid of Venn. But the timing is suspect. Why now? Is it coincidence Venn was there? Has something changed? Well, whoever the assassins were, they almost certainly know that Venn is still in contact with his family, and is here on the planet. Venn will ask the guards where they're taking them.
Guard: "We're just clearing airspace currently, sir. Once we're sure we're not being followed or tracked, we can take you wherever you like."
Venn: "Good." The, to himself… "dammit."
Guard: "So, where would you like to go, sir?"
Venn: "Take us to the nearest small city with a transit station."
Guard: "Roger, sir. We'll be there in about 30 minutes."
After landing, and while Rourke is chartering a flight back to the Prospect, Venn checks in to see if anyone has noticed any unusual activity around the ship. Wen answers, but he hasn't noticed anything. Venn and Rourke will head back to the ship. From this point on, the ship is ready to go ASAP.

Kane, Day 3

After all the stress of the previous few weeks, Kane decides to take a, well, personal day. He spends the majority of the day putting some polishing touches on the Prospect; later in the evening, he heads out to a nearby nightclub to let off some steam. He gets himself roaring drunk and stumbles home in the week hours of the morning.
TODO need to spend probably 100 credits on partying

Kane and Venn Day 4

Venn, Day 4

Early on Day 4, Venn is woken by Sidara early in the morning with news that Prospect's berth has a visitor approaching.
Venn gets up and dresses quickly, asking who it is. In response, Sidara opens comms, and the visitor announces, "Hello, Prospect. My name is Zirias Reidia. I represent Eriss Capital. I was wondering if I might discuss a possible business arrangement with your captain. Is he or she available?"
Venn checks his outfit, making sure his pistol is on him and holstered. He then tells Sidara to let the man in.
He enters, blinking slightly as his eyes adjust. Seeing Sidara, he extends his hand, shifting a small datapad off to his left hand. "Thank you for seeing me. As I said, I'm Zirias. And you…?"
"Crewman Lanka," Sidara replies. "And this is" she starts, turning to Venn.
"The owner." Venn interrupts. "What can I do for you, Mr. Reidia?"
Glancing behind himself to ensure the hatch is closing, Mr Reidia gestures towards the hold. "Pleasure to meet you, sir. Is there a table or other area where I could set up and discuss my proposal with you?"
"Right this way." takes him into the common room.
Once there, Zirias immediately launches into a spiel. "Sir, my CEO, Coria Beren, researched your vessel herself. She recommended you highly." Once the door closes, he continues, "She mentioned that you also have considerable experience operating on the trade route between here and Tattooine."
Venn: "We've done it once or twice."
Zirias: "I understand you also met some new, ah, trading partners in your last visit."
Venn: "You might call them that."
Zirias: "Well, sir, if I could verify your idenity and acceptance of this Non-Disclosure Agreement, I believe we may have a mutually-beneficial business opportunity." Venn looks, but Zirias isn't actually providing an NDA. He's holding out an identity verification program looking for biometric input.
Venn: "And why exactly do I need to sign this?"
Zirias: "Well, sir, Eriss Capital is very protective of its intellectual property, as you may well understand."
Venn is a bit suspicious of the timing and that someone who is supposedly of the underground can't tell who he is when he is standin right in front of him, undisguised.
Venn: "And has Eriss Capital met with any of my new "trading partners" lately?"
Zirias: "No…", with a confused look on his face.
Venn: "I remember offloading some cargo to your company's "delivery service the day before yesterday…"
Zirias looks less confused now. "Oh, I see. No, sir, that was a contractor hire - Eriss Capital isn't associated with that delivery service. However, we are associated with the company that dealt with you two days ago; you may even say we're business partners."
Venn: "Well, I was under the impression that we had delivered the goods to Eriss Capital. If what you're saying is true," rests his hand on his pistol. "I'm going to need to see proof of your identity first…"
Zirias: "Certainly." He hands over an ident listing his name and occupation; he's listed as reporting directly to CEO Coria Beren. Underneath the normal ident is a small chip.
Venn takes the chip and inserts it into the holo player. When he does, he gets an encrypted bunch of gibberish and a prompt for decryption confirmation. It requires a biometric scan-set. It's locked down tight - it requires three separate biometric inputs from a possible four. Thumb, retinal, DNA, or medical profile. Venn signs and starts feeding in biometric data. Once Venn acknowledges, a detailed holo of Zirias pops up with a detailed profile. The data organization is immediately recognizable as Orden's, and his profile identifies him as an Incom employee. As far as Venn knew previously, Incom is defunct, having been shut down by the Empire; however, according to the profile, there's an Incom engineering center on Antaras. Well, make that four. Funded by "Eriss Capital", and under a barrage of shell companies. There's a tiny window at the bottom of the Holo that shows a revolving paused Orden.
When Venn plays the video, a message from Orden pops up, filling the projection. "Okay, whoever you are, you're not cleared for this. This is a contingency plan in case something really bad happens. So, if you tell anyone about this, well… don't tell anyone about this. I know you're one of the Prospect crew because of the encryptions I put on this file. Anyway, if you have your hands on this, something bad is happening, and the representative who gave this to you is a… well, you may as well consider them a Rebel."
Venn glances sideways at the guy, then looks back to the message…. Zirias looks nonplussed.
On the message, Orden continues, "Treat this person as a substitute analyst. They can get some information for you, whatever you need to fix what's going on." With that, the message ends.
Venn takes his hand off the blaster. "Well, Mr. Reidia… what's gone wrong?"
Zirias: "I was hoping you could tell me. Coria contacted me and requested that I come here. She said you had some information you needed me to 'take care of.' She only gave me 'business contacts' and 'Tatooine' as keywords."
Venn: "I was just at the Tyree manor, and Gallos Tyree was almost assassinated."
Zirias: "…That's interesting and all, sir, but how does that have anything to do with Tattooine?"
Venn: "Maybe nothing… but that's something else that needs to be discussed about." pauses "A sniper fire slugthrower rounds into the Tyree home, that turned out to be explosives… I'd like you to ask around at get any information about thefts or recent purchases of these rounds, who might use them, etc. I'd also like any information yous have on the background and activities of Tyvan Sal."
Zirias: "You mean Chancellor Tyvan Sal? His activities are fairly public, but… I'll get you what I can put together."
Venn: "As for the other matter… we encountered (and launches into the summarized version of the Xillash story). "We handed over the prisoners to the Underground, but we lost track of the rest of them. If you can find any information about their activities elsewhere, it would be helpful. We'll get you a copy of all the relevant data before you leave."
Zirias: "Who did you contact in the Underground? I'll follow up on the Xillashi as well. This may take me a few days. How long will you be on-world?"
Venn: "That depends on whether or not any other "interesting events" take place… and on how long before Coria returns… What exactly is she doing, by the way? And we handed the Xillash over to <gives the guy's name that he gave Venn and describes him>"
Zirias: "I wouldn't know. She contacted us through some anonymous relays we've set up a couple of days ago, said you needed to contact someone on the inside who could be trusted. I never spoke to her directly. She told me where to access a particular fileset and to bring it with me - that's the chip you have."
Venn: "Alright. I'll go retrieve the data for you. Anything else I should know?"
Zirias: "No, sir, but as soon as I know sosmething, I'll let you know."
Venn retrieves a copy of the Xillashi data for Zirias and shows him off the ship.

After showing Zirias off-ship, Venn, having returned from the obviously emotionally crushing and chilling assassination attempt at his family home, looks on the Holonet for information that might lead him to some answers. His mind began drifting back to the odd brainscans Rourke took, the anomalous reading that his mother and Orden seemed to share. When Orden got back, he would definitely ask Rourke to look into this further. Then Venn began thinking about his own brainscans. Rourke mentioned an anomaly, apparently insignificant. But maybe the scan was just taken at the wrong time. What if Venn had a similar pattern? Maybe he, his mother, and Orden all had a similar physiological problem, perhaps related to her illness? Were he and Orden possibly at risk for this mysterious disease?… Thinkng further, Venn began to remember all the strange visions he had been having lately. He hadn't really had time to really process them, and just seemed to keep putting them into the back of his mind. But, now that he thought about it, they made no sense. That first dream, one that directed him to the star system with the wookiee, Lothar, in hiding… That was… unbelievable. He shouldn't have known that. Even if it was his brain's way of reminding him of something he had absentmindedly glimpsed during his time in the Imperial Senate… perhaps the dream is tied in some way to the anomaly on his brainscan. Absentmindedly, Venn retrieves the holocron from the drawer in which it is kept, and begins idly fiddling with it. After several minutes, he proceeds to the medical bay, the tetrahedron still in hand.
Arriving in the infirmary, Venn asks Rourke if she would redo his brainscan, mentioning that he's interested in the anomalous reading she told him of earlier.
Venn: "Well?"
Rourke: "Well, no transient this time. I think it was just an instrumentation bug. You're a lot calmer right now, though. Meditating?"
Venn: "No. I don't think so." (still fiddling with the holocron)
Rourke: "Hmm. Well, whatever you're doing, keep it up."
Venn: "Why is that?"
Rourke hands Venn the scan showing much less chaotic wave-cycles. "You're much calmer. 20 bpm slower heart rate, slower breathing, calmer brainwaves - good indications."
Venn: "This transient… does it correspond to a part of the brain that deals with dreams. Or memory. Or something else like that?…"
Rourke: "Hard to say, it was so fast. I couldn't fully localize it. It was cerebral, though."
Venn, looking somewhat uncomfortable, "Let me ask you… nevermind."
Rourke, normally quite tuned into people's reactions and emotions, did not notice Venn's discomfort, and so did not press the issue.
Venn: "Rourke, the brainwave patterns from my mother and Orden… were they always present, or just a one-time thing?"
Rourke: "Present for the duration of the scan."
Venn thinks a moment. "When Orden gets back, I want her to undergo regular scans. And try to figure out if there's something Orden and my mother have in common. Well, besides me."
Rourke: "Yessir."
Venn: "Thank you."
Venn also makes a mental note to have himself scanned as soon as possible if he has another one of his strange visions.

Venn spends the rest of the day poking around on the HoloNet trying to determine what's going on.

  1. Acting Chancellor Tyvan Sal
    1. Worked as Vice Chancellor to Gallos Tyree for close to 3 years (essentially, the Senate point of contact for Chancellor Tyree)
    2. Granted voting privileges as Acting Chancellor just over 3 months ago when Gallos took a personal leave for 6 months due to a family illness (temporary "promotion" from Senate to Ruling Council due to extenuating circumstances, special vote)
    3. Generally considered less experienced and weaker than Gallos
    4. Generally votes centrist - economically in favor of Imperial trade, but politically against formal Imperial ties
    5. Most charitaly considered a pragmatist voter - anything that brings money to Antaras is good, so long as there aren't significant cultural or political repercussions.
  2. Tyree Family
    1. Gallos on personal leave
    2. Illiara still not seen much in public, but some paparazzi shots show her looking healthier; Gallos almost always around her
    3. Orianna back to charity work
    4. Galen seen at various diplomatic functions (Antaran-Imperial) resplendent in his officer's uniform. Widely rumored to be close to proposing marriage to his longtime girlfriend, daughter of Imperial Ambassador to Antaras Dac Feara. Keeps out of the press and speaks only in cliche when cornered.
    5. Shara has not been in the news recently. Searching for her vessel notes that it has been deployed for the past 2 months and won't return for another 4.
  3. Imperial-Antaran Relations
    1. Big political push
    2. Major Imperial trade deals recently
    3. Extra fleet arrived ostensibly as honor guard for higher-level Imperial diplomats negotiating further "mutually-beneficial" treaties.

Kane, Day 4

  • Sample analysis (Spice-like stuff from Sacaya)
  • Looking for trade (Davin, probably)

Kane heads to Davin's meeting place with Wen and Starfall. Meet at a pub. Davin is waiting there with an Ithorian. Make some small talk, then the Ithorian asks what Kane wants (when suitably private).
Kane: I have some scans of a chemical compound that I hadn't seen before. I want to know what it's good for.
Ithorian: What do you mean by "any good?"
Kane: Potentially medically useful. It seems similar to some Spice compounds, and I'd like some confirmation of that.
Ithorian: I can't really say, if it's an unknown compound. I can run some analyses and determine what it is similar to.
Kane: I'd also like to know if there might be a market for it.
Ithorian: It'd be easier to say if I had some samples I could test out to see what it might do.
Kane: Unfortunately, I don't have any samples.
Ithorian: In that case, the best I can do is run some analyses and tell you what you might start trying based on what it's most similar to. I can get back to you in… probably a day or two, and it'll cost you… 1000.
Kane: Manages to talk him down to 700.
Finish up meal together. Ithorian takes the scan and promises to catch up with Kane within 48 hours.

After that, Kane tries to find a less-than-fully-vetted gambling den, but after wandering through the city for a few hours comes up empty.

Venn and Kane, Day 5

Venn wakes to find an alert on his private terminal. Flipping it on, he sees a paused snipped from a late-night newscast; the face of his brother Galen peers out at him as he thumbs the video clip to play.
Announcer: "And this just in: political-powerhouse black sheep Galen Tyree stands accused of murder. Rumor has it that Tyree, currently stationed aboard the Coruscant Express, is currently under investigation for the murder of a fellow Imperial officer. News at this time is scarce, but both Antaran and Imperial representatives refused comment at this time, though Antaran representatives did acknowledge additional diplomatic traffic to the Coruscant Express recently. We'll update you on this story as more news comes in."

Venn is stunned, his political dynasty brain goes into "help brother/damage control mode"… and he realizes that there's nothing he can do. His father would have already seen it, and would likely do whatever he was able. He can't do anything overt himelf, 'cause he can't show his fucking face….
Venn starts to try to sit down at the HoloNet terminal and find something, anything, that he can do. But he just can't sit still. After an hour, he storms into the main deck to start target practice. As he's preparing to transition to staff drills, Sidara charges in, shouting, "Sir, come here, quickly." She gestures for Venn to follow and runs to the bridge.
Venn follows her. When he reaches the bridge, he notes that there's a message, text only, on the comms screen. It's very small; he momentarily flashes back to his military days, using these short-burst text-only messages to minimize the chance of interception if you don't have a perfectly-secure communications channel. Shaking his head clear, he reads the message: "Need protection. Meet at Joe's. Immediate - critical. Zirias."
Venn doesn't know what "Meet at Joe's" means, but he does have that chip from yesterday…. Reviewing the data, there are three other Incom employee profiles onboard the chip - including one Josephine Cornish. She lives downtown in a small apartment.
Venn calls for Sidara and Rourke. Throwing on some head coverings himself, he gets them all together and briefs them. Immediately, they leave the ship to track down Zirias. They take a couple carbines hidden in some blankets or smething under the seats of one of our speeders. The three of us will drive out to the apartment. When they get there, it seems calm; no one sees any obvious surveillance. To be safe, they drive off a short way and back to double-check.
After a scan of the area, and noticing nothing suspicious, Sidara and Venn exit the speeder and head into the apartment building. Meanwhile, Rourke drives off, heading randomly around a few block radius and waiting for a call for pickup.
Venn and Sidara keep their pistols concealed and move toward Josephine's apartment. They ring the chime, and after a moment, the intercom buzzes with a feminine, "Yes?"
Venn: "Zirias sent us."
After a second, the door opens to expose a slight and slightly mousey young woman. She beckons you inside.
Venn enters the room. The first thing he sees when he clears the doorframe is the barrel of a SoroSuub rifle pointing directly at his head. Thankfully, before he can react, the rifle barrel lowers slightly and Venn recognizes its owner: Zirias. As he sets the rifle down, his hands start to shake.
Venn: "Why the urgent mesage and warm reception, Mr. Reidia?"
Zirias: "It's not safe. We need to get out of here, now. I'll explain later."
Venn: "All right, let's go…" pulls out his commlink "Rourke, you can pick us up now."
The group carefully moves out of the apartment and pack into the speeder. Everyone is very tense and quiet on the ride back, and Rourke takes about 37 detours - but who's counting? Throughout the ride, no one don't makes out anyone following them. When they arrive back at the ship, they pull the speeder inside. "So, why exactly did we need to pull you and Miss?…"
She answers, "Cornish."
Venn: "Why did you need to be extracted?"
Zirias: "This will take a moment, so please be patient. After speaking with you yesterday, I decided to get right on all of this information you'd given me. I made contact with… a superior… and dropped of the information you gave me about the Xillashi. I asked around, though, and he couldn't find anything about any Xillashi having been captured or imprisoned here, not since the last war. I thought that was odd, so I asked him to follow up. After that, I started trying to track down some of the other information you'd asked about - information about the Acting Chancellor, specifically. I knew it was all going to take some time, so I went back home.
This morning, early, I got a message from my suprior. He couldn't find anything on any current Xillashi prisoners, and he'd been looking practically the whole night, calling in favors, he said. I thought that was odd, so I started to prep some messages for you. Lucky I did, because as soon as I stood up, my house was riddled with those bullet-grenades you'd mentioned. I barely got out, and I had to ditch my speeder, high-tail it to Joe's, and hide out. I contacted you from there, and I've been sitting there half the morning hoping you'd show."
Venn turns to Zirias and says, "We handed those Xillash over to the underground rep with the understanding they'd hand them off to trustworthy military or government personnel. Do you know if the individual I decribed was actually a member of the underground?"
Zirias: "Yes, as far as I could tell. He's a courier, and he's been with the movement for quite a while. There weren't any red flags on him."
Venn: "Who was this "superior" you contacted?"
Zirias thinks for a long moment, then finally answers, "At this point, I'm not allowed to say. Suffice to say he's trustworthy; his loyalty to the Rebellion is beyond question. I know you don't have any evidence to back that up, but believe me - he'd be the first to suffer if there were an Imperial mole in the movement."
Venn: "If so, you may want to contact him. Because that certainly sounds like a possibility…"
Zirias: "Agreed, but I have no means. I had to destroy my home; all my information, everything. I won't be able to reestablish contact with him for days, if that's even possible."
Venn: "What about the 'sources' you used to ask about the Chancellor and the Xillash? Do you think one of them could have been working for somone else? Or perhaps have been under surveillance?"
Zirias: "I can't say. We keep our lines of communication decoupled for a reason; it minimizes our exposure if someone is compromised."
Venn: "Did you manage to find out anything about the slugthrower explosives or the Chancellor?"
Zirias: "No."
Venn: "Hmm… Is there anyone you reached out to whose identity you do know? Anone we can reach out to?"
Zirias: "You have the profiles."
Venn: "On the chip, right." Turns to Cornish. "How about you? Did you notice anything unusual lately? Any of your contacts acing odd?"
Josephine: "No. Nothing unusual."
Venn: "Alright. Let's go into the common room, and take a look at that chip. There's also couches you can sleep on as long as you're with us. Are you hungry?"

Day 5, Venn and Kane (continued)

Venn looks up profiles of other two Incom employees on Zirias's chip. After getting addresses of other two, asks Wen to look up information on others to see if there were other attacks/incidents reported involving those addresses.

Wen finds brief commentary about assassination attempt on elder Tyree; no significant news, and some speculation of terrorism. Only correlation with Incom addresses is incident at Zirias's, which is a "fire at a residence, unknown cause, civil authorities investigating. Owner was not at home at the time. No injuries."

Venn, thinking, decides to ask Zirias where Orden and Tam are (using their aliases for Eriss Capital). Zirias says, "I'm not sure. Last I'd heard they were still off-world. I have very little direct dealing with the 'executive board.'"

Venn decides to do some research on Eriss Capital. Finds out it's a privately-held venture capital firm that only recently went out of stealth mode. Some hand in financing around 30-40 smallish tech companies, with stakes between 5% and 50% of each company. Not a lot of information other than normal corporate history, locations, contact information. Operations on three worlds: Antaras, Corellia, Naboo. Homeworld is Corellia. Since it's privately held, it doesn't publish financial information or board membership.

Venn asks Zirias and Josephine if they can contact the courier who offloaded the Xillashi. Venn would like to meet with him again.

time passes - finally, mid-afternoon, the Prospect receives a message from the courier's organization

Courier had sent text back: "I'll just come to the Prospect. I have a package anyway."

About an hour later, the delivery service speeder arrives at the Prospect's docking station. The driver exits carrying a very small parcel with him. When the Prospect's landing ramp is lowered, the courier walks up onboard the ship. Venn wands the parcel for explosive signatures and, in fact, detects some. Venn immediately draws his weapon, which is followed immediately by everyone else following suit.

Venn: "Put the package down slowly and move away from the door." The courier complies. "What's in the package?"
Courier: "What kind of courier would I be if I knew the answer to that?"
Venn: "This scanner says explosives. You okay with me opening this?"
Courier: "Sure, if you sign for it first and I can take a step backwards…."
Venn has Starfall open it. She does so very carefully… eventually exposing a small datachip with an explosive self-destruct attached.

Venn sets that datachip aside for now, and without lowering his weapon, he returns to the courier. "What did you do with the packages you picked up three days ago?"
Courier: "I delivered them, as agreed."
Venn: "We've been checking up, following up on their status. No one has any record of any Xillashi prisoners having been delivered."
Meanwhile, Kane dips into the ship's passive sensors to scan the exterior situation. He notices activity around the delivery speeder, but no one has exited the vehicle yet.
Courier: "I delivered them as promised. They were all handed off to…" he trails off, considering.
Venn: "To whom?"
Courier, looking meaningfully at the rifle: "Under the circumstances, I'm not sure I should disclose that information."
Venn: "There have been two assassination attempts in the past couple of days, one on me, and one on another underground contact. Both seem to revolve around these Xillashi. Who did you deliver them to?"
Kane breaks in, asking Venn to tell the courier to wave off his "help" outside.
The courier starts to walk down the ramp to wave off his "help."
Venn has a momentary flash of the courier's head just canoeing open as the courier turns for the ramp. Venn shouts, "Wait!" and lunges, reaching for the courier's arm. Just as Venn's hand makes contact with the courier's arm and he turns, a whistling crack passes just by Venn's side and something slams into the side of the Prospect's inner hull.
Venn grabs the courier and dives inside, slapping at the "ramp close" button as he does so.
As Venn hits the floor, the grenade round detonates above his head, blowing a fist-sized hole in the airlock bulkhead.
Kane, hearing the commotion, hits the active sensors on the forward arc to scan for the shooter. He lights up a guy in active camo gear skulking along the top of the docking bay wall. At the same time, Kane notices the delivery speeder peeling away. Kane pops out the autoblaster turret and starts firing on the stealthy assassin. The blast catches the right side of the assassin, blowing out a powerpack on the suit and shutting down his active camo. He also loses his rifle as the blaster fire hits it and tosses it out of his hand and over the wall.
Venn orders injured (Venn, courier, and Starfall all lightly injured) to the medical bay with Rourke. Venn grabs Sidara and heads for the bridge.
Kane takes another shot at the assassin, but the blaster seems to mostly just tear another chunk out of his armor. In response, the assassin sinks a grapnel into the top of the wall and rolls off the far side.
Kane lifts the Prospect and hovers over the wall, trying to follow the assassin. Venn and Sidara slide into their bridge stations and start powering up their consoles. Kane sees the assassin scooping up his rifle and running across the empty berth. Kane opens up the PA system and tries to mimic Stormtrooper lingo, calling for the assassin to halt.
Venn shouts, "Sidara! Autoblasters!" as he powers up the ion cannon. Venn fires, striking the assassin, but there is no apparent effect.
Sidara starts opening up with the autoblasters but misses.
The assassin hits the far wall and throws a grapnel up top. The grapnel sinks true, and the assassin starts to scale the wall.
Venn switches over to firing a single bank of lasers at a time and attempts to fire at the assassin's line. He manages to just hit the line before the assassin hits the top of the wall. The assassin flails for the top of the wall but just misses, sliding down the wall and landing hard. Venn, already out of his seat, calls out "Take us down!" as he runs out of the bridge, reaching for his blaster.
Kane lands the Prospect in the previously-empty bay and pops the ramp. As Venn dashes off the Prospect he sees the assassin limping along the wall toward the street exit.
Venn yells, "Stop!" and, in return, receives a five-bolt blaster retort from a full-auto-modified heavy blaster pistol. Venn slams himself against the wall, then dives out at a full run, taking two shots at the assassin in turn. One shot hits home but glances off his armor.
Moments later, Starfall is out the door with her carbine drawn, following Venn. Venn hears two more blaster shots ring out from behind him. The first shot misses, but the second shot hits. The assassin drops to slide on his knees, then pitch forward onto his face.
Venn and Starfall run over to the seemingly-unconscious assassin, keeping their weapons trained on him. As they approach, both Venn and Starfall notice a small, blinking red light on the right forearm of the armor.
Starfall drops to her knees and starts fidgeting with the armor. She pops a few pieces of armor off the guy, then quickly tears away a large strip of charges, pulling most of the remaining armor plates with it. With a war cry, she hurls it as far as she can away from the Prospect; just as it hits the ground, it explodes.
Venn, after a short pause after the explosion's echoes die off: "Nice work, Starfall." Venn then inspects the assassin. He isn't someone Venn recognizes; he's a heavily scarred human without any distinguishing features calling out his planet of origin. Venn starts kicking weapons and other items away from him, but in doing so, he notices that the assassin is… somehow limper than he should be. Venn reaches to look for a pulse and finds none. Since none of the blaster burns look fatal, Venn checks his mouth; finding a hollow tooth, he realizes that the assassin must have carried a suicide pill. Resigned, Venn and Starfall start dragging the body back to the Prospect. As they do, they hear Kane overhead, again pretending to be a Stormtooper: "The situation has been contained. Thank you for your cooperation."

Expecting trouble incoming soon, Kane takes off to head for a faraway port in as safe a way as possible. Kane manages to blow past incoming Planetary Defense Force aircraft and manages to lose tail after terse chase.

TODO Kane and Venn talking about possibility of governmental coverup; Kane trying to convince Venn to upload scrubbed footage to HoloNet to preempt being called terrorists, etc.

After getting away, the team burns their previous cover IDs, switching back to their only other cover identities, the Rebel-provided ones.

Once they've landed clear of their pursuers, Kane suggests that the team medically scan the assassin's body to ensure that he isn't hiding any other secrets. He also secretly wants to get as much biometric data as possible about the assassin. He plans to sneak in after the scans are complete to try to steal a copy of the detailed scans. Find comms and tracker that had been blown by the ion pulse, so lucky there.

Meanwhile, Venn checks out the optical chip. Not heavily encrypted, and looks like it was put together very hastily. Contains data on three locations. Two are sub-sea locations (inland seas, not suboceanic) given in geocoordinates. Third is a massive supercaldera that is kind of the "badlands" of Antaras. Also contains detailed blueprints describing a research facility (like a University-run research facility) near the supercaldera. The research facility claims to be an archaeological/geological survey site. None of the data is well-linked or well-annotated; it looks like someone was in the middle of something and dumped the project to a chip and ran.

Venn and Kane then go talk to the courier and the Incom employees.
Venn: "The gentleman who just tried to kill you has also tried to kill me. Near as I can tell, they're targeting people who had contact with the Xillashi prisoners I delivered to you. Who did you deliver them to? They may be in a lot of trouble."
Courier: "Per standard protocol, I handed the prisoners over to a trusted official in the Planetary Defense Force. Specifically, I turned them over to Captain Moira Dolomar, who is head of Special Projects."

Meanwhile, Wen reconstructs bare slivers of information from the assassin's burnt-out datapad.

  1. Items in burnt-out datapad on assassin:
    1. Some geographic data - same point as on Incom guy's chip (supercaldera) plus one more point in a cave system on a completely different continent
    2. Names and partial (corrupted) profiles on Venn, Gallos Tyree, courier (Mr. Black), Zirias (Incom/Eriss Capital guy)
    3. Totally corrupted file - only readable fragment is "cellor Tyvan Sa"

Kane and Venn, Day 6

Venn asks Mr. Black why he suggested the Xillashi data be spread around.  Basically because he wanted to be sure the information got to who it needed to get to.
Mr. Black has no contacts in Altona.  Venn asking how to get in contact with Tam and Orden - Mr. Black doesn't know and only has contacts in Ialain.
Venn starting to put some pieces together: all profiles on assassin's datachip seem to have something to do with Xillashi prisoners.  Gallos is the only one that doesn't totally fit that pattern unless "they" assumed that Venn would hand over that information when he was heading to the manor.
Meanwhile, Kane throws a few hundred credits around and tries to make some contacts.  Manages to start to get the lay of the spaceport "area" - good neighborhoods for certain things, that stuff.  Notes that police presence is heavier than Ialain's, but thankfully, all ADF.
Venn decides to ask Rourke to buy him some new clothing and accessories to help make him look a little less like himself.  Rourke takes a few hundred more of his credits and heads out on her favorite activity, a shopping spree.
Venn decides to leave Sidara and Rourke on the Prospect with the Incom employees and Mr. Black.  Venn, Kane, Wen, and Starfall will hire out a shuttle and head for Teivas.  Arrive there mid-evening.  Check in to cheapest hotel they can find.  Looking over maps, find that they can take a tour excursion to a lodge within the park and then hike the 50-60 km from the lodge to the research facility.  Quickly picks up some packs, sleeping bags and a basic tent, a water purifier, 10 days rations for the four, a medical diagnostic scanner with location services, 3 spray plasto-casts, and a medpac.

Venn and Kane, Day 7

Team hops on one of the tour skiffs. The 100-or-so-kilometer trek ends up taking nearly 3 hours, partially because the skiff stops for 10 minutes to observe a small pack of tentaclebears wandering through a stand of nearby trees. Finally arrive at the visitors' lodge, which has nearly a dozen hiking trails heading off from it in various directions. Venn informs the lodge rangers that the group has beacons, so they're waved through, heading off along a trail. Some near misses re: twisted ankles and similar, but manage to make it 22 kilometers through some relatively rough terrain on the first day.
Set up camp and spend about 12 hours there to allow everyone to get sleep while still keeping a round of watches. During that first night, however, everyone is woken 8 times during the night by people reacting to normal "wilderness" sounds and movements. The only one who has significant outdoors experience is Starfall, so everyone but her gets to sleep through her watch.

Kane and Venn, Day 8

The group breaks camp mid-morning of the second day, a little tired but still perky. Luckily, the route toward the research facility is semi-coincident with a stream, so the group has ready access to water the whole time. The weather is also cooperating, remaining somewhat mild due to the threat of rain, but doing nothing but the occasional sprinkle.
Kane inadvertantly learns what Antaran trees taste like after stumbling down an unexpected slope and smacking into a furry branch. Thankfully, he escapes with just a loosened tooth and a bloodied nose. Wen, not long after, slides down a rocky slope and opens up a long gash along his left forearm and calf. After the laughing Wen did at Kane earlier, Kane is tempted to return the favor, but he manages to bite it back. These diversions necessitate nearly an hour's delay while Starfall patches up their injuries. This means the crew only manages about 16 km the second day, necessitating at least a third day (and possibly a fourth) of hiking.

Kane and Venn, Day 9

Pull another 12-hour night and try to get more sleep this time. This time, the crew is only woken up for four false alarms, so they manage to get more sleep. They once again break camp mid-morning, but to Starfall's dismay, they note that the stream is turning west, away from their route. The crew spends extra time in the morning stocking up on extra water from the purifier.
With the extra weight of the water they have to carry and the additional time taken due to the increasingly rough terrain. The terrain is pretty, but it's becoming much harder to navigate due to the geysers, hot springs, and rainbow pools releasing toxic gases and burning steam into the hollows. The team is forced to divert many times during the day and stick to higher but less stable ground. Kane unknowingly walks into a gas pocket once during the day, but thankfully manages to get back out before any permanent damage is done. The coughing fit delays the team about ten minutes. The progress is again slower going due to the rough terrain, but the crew manages to clear another 14 kilometers. By the time they make camp that night, Starfall estimates that they're only 3 or 4 kilometers from the research facility. However, the facility is located atop a smallish peak that means about 1000m more altitude gain tomorrow.

Kane and Venn, Day 10

Crew continues previous tradition of sleeping and breaking camp. Plan to continue toward facility, then circle wide around the hill it's on. Once they get nearby, the crew plans to ascend the hill toward the facility. Kane takes point and makes an effort to remain somewhat hidden.
Spots series of low, domey buildings - 5 of them. One is smaller and situated a little ways away from the others. Skiff parked with repulsors off. A couple antennas/transmitters. 3 cargo containers, 2 on skiff, one next to it. Four people hanging out by skiff looking at cargo containers. Couple of people chatting outside of one of the buildings. Three or four people wandering between buildings. Kane catches glimpse of guy apparently sneaking into one of the containers on board the skiff. Kane comms Venn and lets him know. Venn decides to try to head up openly while Kane hangs back in hiding.
Venn, Wen, and Starfall head up slope. Group by cargo container break away and start jogging toward slope towards Venn and others to wave them off. When they get close enough, Venn hears them calling out, "Hold up, you can't be here."
They intercept the crew. "You can't be here! This is restricted - University research facility!"
Venn: "Oh, I think we got turned around off the trail… You got a doctor? We could use one - this guy really cut up his arm."
Guy: "We'll bring the doc down." With that, one of the guys starts trudging back upslope.
Venn: "What, you gonna treat him on the rocks here?"
Guy: "We got a lot of sensitive equipment up there. We'll bring him up if we have to, but I don't wanna have to recalibrate everything."
Venn: "What kinds of equipment? I mean, we won't touch anything…"
Guy: "Man, you don't gotta touch nothing! We got seismographs, rad sensors, all sorts of stuff that's just calibrated for us. You get too close, we're gonna have to recalibrate everything, takes hours!"
Venn: "Well, all right, we'll just sit down here for a bit, then."
Guy: "Yeah, yeah, that's cool." *short pause* Then he kinda starts in with a lecture on how you gotta stay on the trail, this is a dangerous area, etc….
Venn: "So, what'dya study up here? Jenny here's going off to University in the fall, trying to get her into a science field…."
Guy: Starts a lecture on the geology of the area. Meanwhile, the other guy starts heading back with an older (early forties) woman carrying a medical backpack. She shows up, starts scanning the team, starting with Wen.
Doc: "Well, you know, I hate to…. aww, hell, we got a skiff going out tonight, we could put you on it. You've gotta promise not to touch anything, though, stay away from those cargo containers."
Venn: "Sounds good, thanks. Is there a place we can stay until tonight?"
Doc: "Well, hold on." (whispered conversation with Guy - Venn catches a couple notes about "readings" and "samples loaded?"). "Well, if you can camp out here for just… just three or four hours, we'll call you up when we're done loading up the skiff."
Venn: "How much more can we screw stuff up in the buildings? I mean, we're not gonna touch anything…."
Doc: Kinda snickers.
Guy: Rolling eyes. (name is Carl Virai).
Doc (Melleriana Curran): "Hell, Carl here's been spending the past 2 hours trying to figure out where the new geyser is. Turns out you guys just been ploddin' up the hill."
Venn introduces them as "Keegan, Jenni, and Jim".
Carl sets down a little hockey-puck sized gadget. "If you guys can just stay within about… eh, 10 meters of this, it'd really help us out."
Venn: "What's that?"
Carl: "It reads the tremors and the radiation you guys are giving off, sends up information to us uphill. It helps us cancel out the false positives from your movements and such."
Meanwhile, while everyone is distracted by Venn's arrival, Kane sees the guy peek and sneak out of the cargo container on the skiff. Kane catches a short glimpse of the guy's face as he's sneaking out. He looks older, maybe in his 50s or even 60s, and he moves like he's been trained. He's carrying a silver cylinder maybe a meter to a meter and a half long and maybe 5 cm or less in diameter.
While the doc and Carl are still talking to Venn, he gets a comms from Kane. Doc Mellie and Carl start to look at each other funny - after all, there's no one really around. Venn tries to play it off like it's just a really good comm, but Mellie and Carl start backing away from Venn and heading back up the hill toward the base. Venn sees the old guy heading off the skiff and moving toward the smallest building, the one furthest away from everything else.
Venn calls out to the doc, "Hey, did that guy just climb out of one of those crates with a silver thingy?"
The doc continues to look confused, but Carl's head whips around immediately and he starts jogging up the hill. The doc follows almost immediately after. Venn calls for Starfall to follow him and starts up the hill after Carl. Starfall blows past Venn, keeping up with Carl; Venn starts to fall behind on the loose gravelly hill.
Kane misses the blaster fire but sees Carl snap back and crumple to the ground as Starfall, barely behind Carl, slides to a rough stop by throwing herself against the wall of the building. So far away, Kane gruffly swears to himself, then tears out of his hiding space and begins the nearly-1-km run up the hill toward the base.
Venn rounds one of the buildings heading toward the small building; he sees Starfall at the outside wall and Carl's body crumpled in the doorway. Venn scoops up a largish rock and chucks it toward the doorway, scraping up his hand and arm in the process (nearly falling down). He flings the rock against the doorway and is greeted by another snap blaster shot. Venn hits the wall just behind Starfall and calls out, "Antaran Secret Service! Throw down your weapon and come out with your hands up!" He then opens up his comms to allow the rest of the team to hear as much as they can over the channel. Venn hears nothing from inside but the slowly-increasing-frequency whine of a fusion plant.
Deciding to risk it, Venn runs in firing stun rounds. As he crosses the doorway, Venn takes a wound in the side, but he manages to bring his gun up and fires off two blaster bolts. The first grazes the man; the second misses. The old man jerks sideways as the bolt grazes him, his hands flying away from the panel as he falls to a knee.
With the old man distracted, Starfall dives into the reactor room as well, firing twice at the man behind the control panel. Her first shot lands center of mass, burning a hole in the old man's chest. The second shot was already out of the barrel as the old man started to crumple; that shot plows solidly into the reactor's controls, blowing the panel.
The old man, still barely clinging to life, drops to his knees and shakily tries to bring his blaster to bear on Starfall. His shot is wide, accomplishing nothing more than burning the interior panelling of the wall. Venn fires two shots, and the old man finally faceplants on the floor. Venn, looking at the panel for the first time, screams, "Wen, get in here!" He then looks at the reactor and asks Starfall, "Is it going to go critical?"
Starfall: "Yes. But I think we've got 10 or 15 minutes at least."
Venn: "Can you stop it?"
Starfall: "I… don't know. Wen!"
Venn looks to the cylinder. It's sealed and locked, but it has a "sample number" on it. He grabs that and the sonic cannon. He looks to the door just in time to see Wen enter.
Venn: "Wen, the reactor's on overload and the panel's been shot. Can you fix it?"
Wen: "I don't have any parts!"
Venn: "So, that would be a 'no'?"
Wen: "Not unless they have spares here!"
Venn runs to look outside. He sees the rest of the contingent of researchers outside; they seem to be simultaneously hiding behind the skiff and trying to power it up.
Venn comes out, yelling, "Okay, everyone, Antaran Secret Service! I need to know who is in charge of the reactor!" As a response, he just gets silence. He continues running down the hill toward the skiff. "The attacker has been contained, but the reactor has been damaged. I need to know who is in charge of repairs!"
A young woman tentatively raises her hand.
Venn: "Do you have any spare parts?"
The young woman nervously heads toward another building, Venn following, as Kane comes up and begins rounding up people and keeping them all near the skiff. The young lady opens the door to a building containing spares; Venn comms Wen and has him tell her what he needs.
Kane helps everyone get on the skiff, power it up, and get organized. To distract them, he offers to help them load the last cargo container if it can get loaded in the next couple of minutes. Looking over the controls, Kane takes over and loads the last box as quickly as possible as the skiff begins to lift off.
Wen and the young lady attempt to repair the panel, but they're unable to fully do so. However, they manage to patch in an emergency shutdown that blows out the fusion reaction without a catastrophic explosion. Fortunately, everyone can live; unfortunately, the base is now dead until serious repairs can be made on the reactor core.
Venn gathers everyone to the skiff and moves the bodies out of the reactor building. He congratulates Wen and the young lady (Kea) for patching up the reactor and tries to calm everyone down.
Venn starts to interrogate everyone, then, asking if there's anyone else on base. Meanwhile he sends Starfall to sweep.
Venn: "Who's the chief admin here?" Finds out it was "Jacen Ferobo", who is the old man who tried to kill everyone. "Fine, okay, who here is in charge now?"
One of the professors reluctantly decides it must be him - Professor Azalee Corran. Venn asks to speak to him in private, and the professor reluctantly agrees. A moment later, he stops.
Professor: "Before… before…. I'd like to see your badge."
Venn: "Well, normally I could help you out, professor, but unfortunately we were on an undercover mission that we had to be pulled off of with very little warnng. We were told that there was a threat to Antaran security here, and as you can see, we were correct. Now, we have made calls, and there will be more agents here in about 5 minutes. Now, I know this has been difficult, but I need to you not discuss this with anyone we haven't explicitly cleared."
Professor: "…I think I'll wait for those other agents, sir."
Venn: "As you wish, that's your right. Please sit with the others, then."
When the professor returns, there's some murmuring among the group.
Venn then asks Wen: "Was there any radiation leakage? Is it safe for people to stay?"
Wen: "We should get everyone to medical facilities. There were some radiation pulses, and everyone should get checked out."
Venn sends Kane to help Wen sweep as quickly as possible for the next 5 minutes. He then tells everyone that they need to be taken to a medical facility for checkups. People in the crowd are restlessly whispering to one another, looking at Venn suspiciously. Venn tries to explain about the radiation dosing, but in the middle of the speech, one of the grad students starts rousing the crowd. "We don't even know they're agents! We should leave, leave them, before they start shooting us as well!"
Venn tells him to settle down, which just riles the student more. The researchers start to get more upset and excitable. Venn spends the next few minutes calming the group back down, at least enough that they're not planning on bum-rushing the team. By the time the crowd is settled, Wen and Kane are heading back; Starfall's already back to the group.
The skiff is not the fastest form of transportation, so the team figures they have an hour and a half trip back to the city. Everyone loads up and they head out after a professor berates Venn to "put the damn sample tube you stole back in that rack so it doesn't get damaged during the transit." Since Wen has already scanned it, Venn hands it over and has the professor lock it down. There's an uncomfortable but otherwise calm trip to Teivas during which Venn quietly lies into his comms trying to maintain the illusion that he's an agent.
Once they get closer to the city, once of the professors starts insisting he be allowed to comm the University to secure his samples, etc. Venn tries to talk him out of it, stating that agents will be on hand to secure the samples. After a quiet argument, Venn agrees to drop the gear immediately at the university and have them taken from there to the hospital.
Skiff arrives at the university and is met by an army of grad students. Venn and company get off the skiff and try to slip out in the chaos of the arriving hospital staff.
Venn considers hitting a hospital in town, but he's afraid to stick around too long. At the risk of feeling terrible tomorrow, he decides to charter a flight back to Altona and delay the treatment for a couple more hours. When they arrive, Rourke immediately welcomes everyone back onboard with a pushy trip to the medical bay.
All they really learn from Wen's scan of the cylinder is that it contains a rock sample of some sort. The sample contains higher than normal levels of certain radioactive elements, including iridium and uranium, but no one on the ship really knows enough to know what that means.
So, essentially, you get "home" to the Prospect (docked in Altona) late at night on day 10, then get treated for radiation poisoning. Then you're sick for the next few days, not horribly, but you're 1D down for a couple of days.

Kane and Venn, Day 11

Venn: Holonet research on Tyvan's current activities. Mostly turns up normal stuff (debates, etc.). Main story is that there are still negotiations ongoing about Imperial force deployments to Antaras and its territories, and so he's in basically one more week of scheduled discussions with the Imperial representatives at the capital. His position appears to be fairly middle. He is willing to give a few concessions (Imperial officers to help train ADF, some additional forces stationed near Antaran space, broader antipiracy initiatives/cooperation), but he appears to be unwilling to allow for complete overlap of the Imperial and Antaran military/police forces, and he's not apparently budging on stationing Imperials on Trillest.
Kane's response: You know, I can't help but feel like some sort of flashy public Xilashi attack would make an Imperial Garrison look real attractive right now, especially if the evil alien invaders are inexplicably armed with technology advanced beyond anything we've ever seen before.
Venn will ask Rourke to contact the head of Gallos's security, mention her cover identity (he should recognize her voice). She should mention that another of the "rude houseguests" that showed up during her last visit had been bothering them again. They left their commlink behind and she discovered hey might be planning a trip to see Councilor Sal and that she wanted to let him know so he could inform the security staff to keep them out.
The crew decides to spend the rest of the day recovering and continuing to treat their radiation sickness.

Kane and Venn, Day 12

That morning, Venn and Kane head out to purchase standard spelunking equipment. They then fly _Prospect_ to the coordinates near The Scar to recon, then continue on to the city of Kinloch Rannoch, which is about 200 km from the listed coordinates.
Once we land, Venn, Kane, Starfall, and Sidara will take one of the speeders and the gear, rations, sensors, anti rad meds, etc., and head out toward the location of the thermal sig. It'll take about two hours (due to the terrain, which is woodsy and hilly) to get there.
Venn sits in the back with Starfall. As they drive, he casually chats with her. He mentions how impressed he was with her performance on the last mission. Her ability to tackle the woods, her coolness under fire, and her taking out the assassin. On the last note, he'll want to gauge her reaction. Venn would have read her file, but he doesn't know if she's killed anyone before, and if so, if it was up close and personal. Given her idealistic personality, Venn is concened. (She's killed before, but not much, and this is the first non-Stormtrooper. She's not thrilled with it, but it doesn't bother her. She wouldn't have joined up if she couldn't stomach it. Starfall definitely appreciates the praise. After all, she does want to get ahead.)
After a couple of hours on the trip, the team finally arrives at the listed coordinates. It just seems to be a stand of evergreen trees. Kane scans the area through his binocs, but he doesn't detect the same odd heat signature that the Prospect's more powerful sensors detected… at first. After panning back and forth for a while, though, he notices that the ground is returning about half a degree higher than it should. The warm area's edge is about 50m away from the speeder, and it's about a 100m radius, give or take.
We'll park, and go to examine the area closer. There aren't any visible surface markings indicating recent machinery or ships. Kane suggests that the team spiral out, searching for cave entrances. Venn agrees.
Oh, also, before we actually spiral out? Kane'll toss a rock across the empty place where the heat signature is. Like across the clearing. Just in case it's something on the surface and extremely well-cloaked. The rock just flies normally, eventually hitting a tree and bouncing off.
Venn: "We'll go in pairs. Kane and Sidara. Venn and Starfall. Stay within 50m of the speeder, initially."
As they begin the search, there's a slight rumble, and the earth quivers moderately underfoot. Kane, Sidara, and Starfall manage to keep their footing, but Venn stumbles and falls against a tree, then stumbles again in the other direction. As his foot comes down hard on the ground, he feels a twinge in his ankle and then an unfamiliar sensation as his foot sinks through the ground itself. He barely manages to catch himself on a branch before going through a sinkhole opened by the quake. Venn heaves himself out of the ground and up against the tree that tried to bite him just moments ago. He tests his ankle tentatively and discovers it will support his weight, but painfully. It must just be sprained.
Starfall carefully makes her way over to Venn to check out his ankle, confirming it's only sprained. She pops a plastospray and covers his lower leg with a short cast to reinforce his ankle temporarily. Meanwhile, Venn fidgets around trying to scan through the sinkhole.
Venn is immediately struck by an unfortunate sense of deja vu as he looks at the scanner's screen. There's a significant radiation background ticking away under that sinkhole. The sinkhole appears to have opened up the roof of a fairly large cavern of some sort. The scanner detects a fairly large amount of fresh rubble on the cavern floor; apparently, the quake was strong enough to shear free what had been the cavern's capstone. The scanner is reporting around 50 milliSieverts/hour: dangerous, but survivable for a short time.
Venn gets on the comm "Kane, Sidara, we found something. About 22m west of our start point."
Kane: "Copy. Nothing here, so far."
Venn: "Head back here, then."
Kane approaches Venn, finding him sitting on the ground against a tree scanning a hole. Starfall is scanning him and polishing up a plastocast on his ankle.
Kane: "You okay? What happened?"
Venn fills the other two in on what he "found." Since he went and was attacked by the ground, he and Starfall will remain up here for the moment, and they can ower Kane and Sidara down with the climbing equipment. If it's safe, and they find anything interesting, Venn and Starfall can join them.
With a little help from Sidara, both Kane and Sidara manage descend into the cavern about 20m. The floor is, as best they can tell, another 30m down, but even less than halfway into the cavern, the heat is noticeable.
Kane: "Definitely a confirmation on your heat signature… the whole cavern's hot." There's a detectable crackle over the comms due to the heavy background.
Venn: "Be careful."
The cave's warm, about 40 C up where Kane and Sidara are. The cave floor reads even higher, closer to 50 C. It's a general heat, mostly emanating from low in the cave, though there's a lot of rubble covering what used to be the floor. The cavern's IR signature is bright enough to read by (theoretically), but the caverns are almost totally dark otherwise; very little light is filtering through the small hole opened up in the ceiling. The cavern appears to be oblong, measuring about 110m along the long axis and 70m along the short. It has a rough, uneven floor, even discounting the fresh coat of rubble.
Kane: "No obvious heat sources, unless the rubble we dropped is covering it… " Kane will specifically look at the ceiling in IR, but he sees that the ceiling is cooler than the floor. "I think whatever it is, it's underneath the floor. Probably been here a long time for the heat to spread this evenly."
Venn: "But you don't see any ways out of the cave?"
Kane: "When we set down on the rubble, stay harnessed. It could give way at any time. I'm gonna try to find a way down."
Kane and Sidara continue down toward the floor, where it continues to get hotter and hotter with every meter. Once Kane's toes are brushing rubble, the temperature is as hot as he's ever felt, even on Tattooine.
Kane: "Keep the ropes taught. I'm gonna test my weight on this thing." Kane makes sure Sidara is prepared and both ropes are taught, then stomps. The boulder below Kane's feet shifts, but it doesn't roll. Kane thinks that if he's careful, he can stand on it and maneuver. "Gimme another 2 inches…" Kane gingerly leans forward and looks through binocs and uses his headlamp. And basically he carefully works his way forward, testing his weight and searching for holes or gaps. A couple of steps in, Kane slips on a slick limestone shear plate and nearly drops into a crease between two boulders. If it weren't for the taut line, Kane would probably be staring down the business end of a broken leg. As it is, he just tastes blood and realizes he's bitten his tongue. "Nnngh! Aaaaugh!"
Kane tries to determine the maximum stomping he can do without making anything settle. If that's reasonably less than the commotion he'd raise climbing down, he'll find a nice wide spot and try to climb down.
Kane eventually finds a wider break in the debris field where he thinks he can slip between and around some of the large boulders. He has to work his way down very slowly, trying to keep his line from becoming caught up on the debris above while working out a path that will lead him to the old floor. The sweat pouring off him further complicates matters, and Kane's panting and slightly shaking by the time his foot finally touches the floor. There's a shallow stream of water slowly flowing there; it barely covers the toes of Kane's boot. Panting, he comms: "Found one of those rivers… it's about 50 C" The comms signal is fuzzy and weak, and you really have to push it through to reach Sidara, who relays it to Venn. The stream's very warm, and there's no obvious difference in temperature from what you can see. You're in a narrow pocket between a bunch of these boulders; it's less than 1m wide in most places, and it curves around for maybe 8 or 10m between various boulders.
While under the boulders, Kane kicks something that doesn't feel like a stone. Picking it up, he sees it's a twisted fragment of some sort of metal. It's maybe a half-meter long and less than 10 kilos. Kane decides to carry it up.
Below is the warmest, close to 50 C. The floor itself is even warmer. Kane comms Sidara again: "It's below the cavern floor. I repeat, below the cavern floor. I'm coming up."
By this point, Kane's been down there about an hour, and he's getting quite tired. Sidara's a little fresher, but the heat's still getting to her. Kane considers searching more, but Venn comms them to get out.
Kane: "Comin' up." On the stage of the ascent, Kane's just done. The arrestor keeps him from plummeting, but he can't pull himself up any more. Sidara has to heave him up with her for the last 15m of the climb. She shoves him up through the opening, and Venn and Starfall pull him out of the cave. He's pouring sweat and beet red, still panting from exertion and heat. Sidara follows him out a minute later; she's tired, but she's not quite as punishingly tired as Kane.
Starfall and Venn check the two over. After about an hour and a half down in the cavern, they've been exposed to about 75 mSv. That's high, but it's not enough to cause any immediate danger. The more immediate concerns are dehydration and overheating. Starfall starts breaking out more water for the two climbers.
Kane rolls slightly, his eyes focusing on Sidara: "…thank…you."
Sidara, panting, just looks back, nods, and gives him a thumbs up.
Venn: "Well, we're definitely not going back down there. Given the heat, and the lack of any volcanic systems in the area, it seems lkely a large radiation source, maybe a reactor, is below the cave. We'll rest for a while, and see if we can find a more conventional way in."
After resting a moment, Kane relays what he knows about the metal fragment he found, handing it over for everyone to inspect. It's just a twisted chunk of scorched metal of some sort, roughly half a meter long and less than 10 kilos. It's twisted, scorched, and a fragment of something bigger - like a piece of plating or cladding that was blown or torn off a larger item. It scans as relatively highly irradiated. The metal feels odd, too. Venn decides to take a small sample and throw the piece back after scanning it as closely as possible with the scanners on hand.
Venn and the team secure the sample and cover it as best they can.
While the team is loading up the sample, Starfall perks up. "What's that noise?" she says, cocking her head. The team stops what they're doing and looks around. The unmistakable sound of speeders can be heard over the fresh silence.
Venn: "Everybody into the speeder!" draws blaster "Kane, get us out of here!"
Just as the crew's speeder lifts off, three speederbikes in the unmistakable livery of the Antaran Defense Forces whip overhead and begin to arc back around.
Kane: "Ffffffffff…" starts to reach for his blaster, fumbling a little bit
The ADF speederbikes swing around into pursuit as Kane pushes the speeder through the trees. The bikers call for a halt over the PA as the speeder jukes left to avoid a lightning-struck old oak.
Venn: "Set to stun. Don't fire unless you have to."
Kane has managed to get his pistol into his right hand and he's just kinda holding it with the barrel pointing straight up as he drives. Venn is pretty sure he didn't see Kane mess with any settings.
Venn: Pulling out a map of the area, looking for an area where we mght be abe to lose them if Kane can't outrun them in this thing.
For a few moments, Kane dodges through trees seemingly well ahead of the ADF bikes. Soon enough, however, two are behind and flanking him, and the third is pulling just above the rear of the speeder itself, maneuvering to box the crew in. As Venn glances over to keep an eye on the ADF pursuit, his eyes land on Kane, still brandishing his pistol. Venn's never seen Kane like this, not even in combat. His eyes are kinda glassy… his reflexes are great, but it's like he's not reacting to anything emotionally. He's kinda starting to remind Venn of a wounded, hunted animal.
Venn: "Take it easy Kane. They're using a standard tactic. Just zigzag while putting on more speed, and take a hard left into that valley in 200m…"
Kane seems kinda like he's not paying attention at first… then it registers and his eyes focus. He puts the safety on his Blaster, sets it down on the seat next to him, puts both hands on the controls and does some fancy drivin'. Kane flips the speeder a hard right, then back left even harder, nearly chopping into the stabilizers on the left-most pursuer's bike. Over the whipping wind, the crew hears the blasters on the bikes power up as the ADF patrol arms weapons systems.
ADF: "Last chance! Halt now and power down your vehicle or we will open fire!"
Venn shouts, "Ignore them!" over the whipping wind.

Antaran Defense Force Pursuit

Day 11

//TODO - sick and at a 1D penalty for next few days (Starfall, Wen, Kane, Venn) due to radiation aftereffects and treatments. //

Day 12

in progress for Kane, Venn - still sick
opens with first round of vehicle combat

ADF fires warning shots; Venn returns. Other pull out blasters when Venn does.
ADF lead bike, after being shot at, drops out of lead position to fall behind speeder
Kane kicks it up a notch
Make it to the crevasse, but the speeder has taken a few hits by this time; alarms going off on control panel, and speeder is noticeably harder to control
Pull into a cavern entrance and burn down about 100m before suddenly discovering very sharp narrowing of cave path. Kane manages to rotate speeder a bit, but wall tears out bottom mechanisms, and speeder passes through and sets down very hard, skidding into a wall.
Kane: "At least we got it through!"
Venn pulls out map, finds partial info on this part of cavern system including partial maps. Notes say this cavern system is very unstable/dangerous, keep out, etc. Venn leads team deeper into caverns in hopes of finding way out. Head in for about an hour. Figure Prospect has probably reached crevasse, but haven't found a way out yet, and figure rock may be too deep for comms signals to reach Prospect from here.
Kane slides on wet limestone, hitting wall and scratching arm and leg. Venn catches weirdness out of corner of his eye when Kane does that. Venn hefts one of the spelunking picks and tries to scratch the wall; part of the wall swings slightly open, exposing metal catwalk, very dimly lit by glowsticks along the walk. The walk itself is over a very, very large, open pit, too far down to see the bottom; catwalk extends about 10m out over open space to 4 vertical girders extending both up and down further than the team can see.
Kane, muttering quietly: "Loosened it for ya…."
Venn walks out toward girders; gated across end of catwalk. Notices small control panel on right side of gate. Pulls scanner to start recording, shifting blaster temporarily to off-hand to trigger recording before shuffling both back to proper hands. Venn turns, looking for cameras or other monitoring devices; notices nothing.
Venn looks at control panel. Appears to take an access card. Calls Starfall up to look at it. She doesn't have the proper tools, but is willing to take a shot at it. Cracks case and has to deal with failsafe; takes her almost 15 minutes. Meanwhile, Kane and Sidara try to pull in big rock and jam door open in case Starfall triggers lockdown. After another 20 minutes, manages to bypass magswipe and control panel lights up. Shows elevator call button and a couple of internal comms locations - like a "call box" that allows you to call to specific locations in whatever facility is below.
Venn, considering, drops pebble to see if he can hear to bottom; he cannot. Without enough rope to reliably rappel down, Venn decides to call the elevator. Starts to move back through the door to hide in case elevator comes up with security team. While getting in position, see lights on walls maybe 50-60m up the path (from the direction they originally came) and hear footsteps). Potentially pincered, Venn ushers team back through door onto catwalk and closes door, risking the elevator route instead of the cavern.
Elevator very quiet; like a mining elevator with half-walls and cage. Thankfully, elevator is empty; team climbs on board. Elevator has, from top down, S, C, 1, 2, 3, R. C is lit.
Venn, contemplating, finally hits the S button. Elevator comes up to shallower part of cavern system; there's some light in that cavern system.
Venn tried comming Prospect: "Prospect, do you read?"
Slightly scratchy signal comes back from Wen: "Roger, we read. Where are you?"
Venn: "We're hiding in a cave system. We may have found something. Be ready to pull us out on short notice - we may be a bit longer, and we may be coming out hot."
Wen replies, "Yes, sir. Be advised, we just saw a big bogie screaming out of here. I don't think she saw us, though."
"Did you get an ident?"
"Unfortunately, no. She burned overhead just after we set down."
Venn continues, "Be advised, we had a brush with the ADF. If anyone tries to board for inspections or any other reason, keep them out."
Wen: "Roger that, sir. We haven't seen any ADF in the area thus far, and we don't think we were seen coming in."
Venn: "If you don't hear from us in… two hours… well, wait a little longer."
Wen: "Whatever you say, sir."
As the team is waiting on the elevator, it starts heading down again. Team dives behind solid lower wall. Venn peeks as they pass the catwalk, but no one is there. Elevator does not stop, continuing down further.
After a relatively long while, at least a good couple of minutes, finally come to big concrete building. Only source of light is from glows positioned along girders, etc.
When approaching building, Venn tries to start forcing elevator open, but can't do that without appropriate microelectronics tools. Admitting defeat there, Venn motions for everyone to duck behind half-wall again.
Pass by big closed door with giant 1 painted on interior of doors. Elevator slows and stops at door 2.
Doors open at 2; team has blasters drawn, waiting with dread. Doors open on… two people having a conversation involving lots of really long words. Both are wearing lab coats, and both do a double-take as they notice the doors open, then notice the blasters. One is pushing a cart filled with vials.
Venn silently gestures his blaster toward the two, indicating they should step into the elevator. At the same time, Kane cocks a smirky grin, points his blaster skyward, and smarms out, "If this had been a real invasion, you'd be dead by now." The two lab coats slowly and silently comply with Venn's gesture.
Venn pats down the two, taking their Passkey IDs. He then says, "We don't want to hurt you. Direct us to an empty room and we'll leave you there unharmed."
The two step off the elevator. One looks like he's ready to bolt, but the other gives him a sharp look that holds him back. They start walking down the hallway about 20 feet when Venn notices that there's a men's room on the left. Venn stops them, and with Sidara and Starfall covering them, ducks his head into the (thankfully empty) men's room. He then pulls everyone inside. The door doesn't lock, but Venn blocks it with a refuse bin.
Names are Elias Saretti and Zack Rueb. Their badges list their positions as Biocontainment Technician; both badges have a "1,2,3" on the lower right corner. Venn then taps the pad on the vial cart to scroll through what is in the vials. The first 50 or so are just labelled "Sample #[id]" with different ID numbers. Finally, after that, there are some other vials labelled "Preparation #[id]"; these are all clear, slightly yellowish liquids. There are about a dozen of those.
Venn then addresses the two prisoners. "So, Elias, Zack. You're 'biocontainment technicians,' eh? Care to tell me what's on the cart?"
The two look at one another, but they refuse to respond.
Kane: "I'd say it's better to play along with him, gentlemen. When he gets into character, he sometimes takes it too far."
Venn just stares at Kane for a minute. He then turns back to the two: "Let me guess…. 'Biocontainment.' Are these samples from living creatures? Say, humanoid creatures?" They noticably wince. "Reptilian humanoids?" They wince again. "So, what are these preparations for?"
Kane pipes up: "The longer this takes, the more likely you are to end up in the crossfire. Help us do our jobs, and we'll let you go."
Venn continues: "Have you had any visitors today, other than us?" When they don't respond, Venn sighs, then says, "Okay, gentlemen. I'll give you a little information, and then you can decide whether you continue to answer our questions. Are the Xillashi in the Restricted level?" The two look momentarily confused. "Or is that the Reactor level? Oh, please tell me that this place isn't powered by a massive reactor…. Oh, great. Fine. Do you work for the Antaran government? Just a 'yes' or a 'no.'" Venn sighs again. "Fine." (He tells the two about the situation with the grad student expedition. Kane interjects to ask if he should "take a team to secure the reactor." Venn asks about ship leaving and tells them he thinks place might explode.)
The two look at one another, unsure, but they decide not to talk. Team knocks them out and hides them in the stalls, pants down. They then slip out of the bathroom and head out of the bathroom, pushing the tray trolley down the hallway and looking for any promising room where they might find a computer terminal.
Head down the hallway - see light traffic down hallway, but no one seems to pay any attention or even look their way. Pass a couple of doors and then come up on a door on the left with a swipe lock. Swipe a keycard and palm scanner lights up. Venn mutters "Goddammit" under his breath. Heads on down the line to try another. Passing by a hallway, see glass-enclosed room filled with techs. Glass boxes with individual Xillashi strapped to tables in states of unconsciousness or semi-consciousness.
Turns and heads back to elevator, and goes up to 1. Looking straight across, sees big open warehouse area down the hall with workers and some soldiers. Seeing soldiers in the "freight area", decides instead to head down to 3.
Just past bathrooms and such, off to the left, there's a "convenience-store-style" reception area - Venn guesses it's likely a handoff point for turning over samples to the lab. Venn decides to head the other way, finding more doors with card readers.
Venn heads back up to level 1 with the cart. Head left past women's room. Venn sends Sidara and Starfall in hoping to find more people to steal from, but they come back out empty handed. Continue moving down hallway, and within a couple of minutes, hear a guard yell, "Hey!" from down a perpendicular hallway.
Kane nonchalantly responds, "Hey" and keeps walking. Venn, pausing, says, "Actually, we had a bit of a problem." He tries to bluff the guard that Starfall and Sidara have lost their badges and need replacements.
The guard, with a confused look on his face, brings his weapon slowly up. "Why don't you just stay right there…" as he starts reaching for his comms.
Venn shoves the tray as hard as possible at the guard, who dives to the side. The trolley slams into the wall and tips over, spilling the vials all over the floor.
Venn goes for his blaster as the guard slide into an alcove to shield himself from the incoming fire. The team hears him yelling an alarm into his comm as they stun him into submission, with Sidara firing the final shot.
Venn sprints forward. Overhearing troop movements on the comms, Venn grabs the guard's passkey. Kane, meanwhile, grabs the comm and tries to mimic the guard's voice, calling that the intruders are heading toward the reactor. Meanwhile, he dashes back toward the elevator to send it down to the reactor level. However, as Kane rounds the corner, he sees a group of guards (at least 6) converging on the elevator.
Meanwhile, Venn, Sidara, and Starfall head down the hall toward the freight elevator, trying to use that as an escape route. However, the guards previously spotted in that warehouse area are now apparently guarding all entrances to the storage area.
Venn, considering his options, decides to risk the personnel elevator as the escape route; at least he knows where the exit point for that elevator is located. Venn grabs the trolley again to try to use it as a distraction once again. When the team reaches the hallway, they find their first bit of luck: there are now only 2 guards posted at the elevator. Venn steps out to shove the trolley, and the guards fire on him and it; thankfully, they miss him, but they hit and destroy the trolley. The team leans out to return fire; Kane and Sidara get lucky and drop both guards.
The team sprints the roughly 15 or 20 meters to the elevator, sliding into a clean four-point cover formation. Venn reaches up, slams his hand on the elevator call button, and watches it blink on and then immediately back off.
Venn calls Kane over and they try to force the elevator doors. Kane and Venn manage to shove the doors apart, and Kane's leg slips over the lip, nearly sending him tumbling. Venn motions everyone into the shaft and onto the maintenance ladder; the team scrambles, huffing and puffing, up onto the roof of the building.
As they crawl onto the roof, the team realizes that a path of glow-rods on the roof leading in a well-defined path across the roof of the building, across a catwalk, and to a staircase. As the team makes the catwalk, soldiers start to spill onto the roof from the elevator shafts, chasing them and firing.
The team, charges up the stairs, pushing past their collective exhaustion and injuries to stay ahead of the guards. As they approach the top, Kane grabs the security comm and yells, "The reactor's gonna blow! Fix it or get out!" Venn grabs the comm and adds, "I believe you had a visitor today. Check everywhere they went, and double-check the reactor room!"
With that, Venn throws down the security comm and charges up the stairs, firing down to try to keep distance between the team and the pursuers. Once they're most of the way up, the team begins trying to comm Prospect and asking her to meet them at the surface. They finally get through, and Prospect swoops in to pick them up just before the guards spill out onto the surface, firing futilely at her flanks as she flies off just over the treeline.

TODO handed over 12 character points, again not including Tam and Orden

TODO Hiding Out

TODO still hiding out in the area

Tam and Orden's Story

TODO Need to edit this story to clean up the draft and make it fit for later reading. Notes on what needs editing follow:

  1. Add "chapter titles", replacing the "Tam and Orden Day X" crap
  2. Clarify why other diplomats are on the Coruscant Express - Tam's the only one there for Galen's trial. The others are there for other reasons - there is a lot of Imperial-Antaran political wrangling currently going on, and the Coruscant Express is the flagship of this mini-fleet, so the Imperials are using her as a pompous showcase for the Antarans and as a stage for some of the negotiations ("Let us show you how hospitable we can be!"
  3. Put a better hint in about the corrupt doctor earlier (he messed up the original autopsy for Fallon in exchange for a payoff and/or favors)
  4. Clarify what Orden's plan is with the evidence tags - maybe better names/more consistent names (false evidence locker, something like that). Basically, Evidence Locker A onboard contains real evidence. She's making a fake Evidence Locker B that, when stored onboard the ISD, will read A's electronic label and swap the two temporarily. Then, a few days later, the change will expire and Evidence Locker A will once again be properly labelled. In the meantime, she expects that people coming in to destroy A will destroy B instead (as B is mislabelled "A" during that time).
  5. Fix tenses for consistency
  6. Clarify who people are, particularly bit players like Gunther Fallon
  7. On Day 14, revise/flesh out what Tam flubbed when he failed his Con roll against the "friendly senior officer" (paragraph 2)
  8. More Day 14: clarify that Orden tells Vassic the rough outline of the plan to "kill" Tam, but she doesn't spill all the details about the "after the ship" part until Vassic leaves and she can talk to Tam alone
  9. Day 15: Clarify that medical officer ("corrupt doctor" - maybe give him a name?) didn't give the antidote to the group earlier because he was holding back trying to kind of counterscrew/save his own hide. This is what forces Orden to try to slip the antidote to Maria under guard instead of just hiding it in Tam's personal effects earlier. Was not at all clear in current writeup.
  10. Day 15, Tam's staged death - clarify that Vassic knows when security is likely to get word and try to bust in on Tam, so she tells Tam and Orden the best time so that they can stage Tam's "overdose" appropriately
  11. Day 15 after catfight with "Maria", clarify how distracted Orden is by trying to juggle all this plan (and by how worried she is about Tam) - that's the source of the "are they the same two as before?" aside in the text
  12. Day 15 when Tam comes around and coroner is asking about what he took, put more hints in that Tam's ignorance is kind of a highlight of how "institutionalized" he's becoming about taking various drugs (combat drugs in particular).
  13. Day 16, name the diner and give it a bit of a flavor description (for fun)
  14. Incorporate Carol's and my redlines in printout (proofreading, word usage, that sort of thing)

Murder on the Coruscant Express in which Tam and Orden must participate in a murder investigation to save the life of a Rebel spy.

After their secret mission, Tam and Orden eventually reunite with the crew of the Prospect, continuing the adventure below.

TODO after crew back together

TODO deal with this after Kane and Venn have played out their story arc

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