Housed – temporarily – aboard the Pellaeon-class Star Destroyer Challenger, the Party set itself to the task of training on the Nune-class shuttle being provided to them as part of the defection deal with Captain Arlan Lassiter. The week-long process would keep them largely isolated from the ship’s crew, a necessary separation given that only a handful of senior officers and Lassiter’s personal security detail had thus far been entrusted with the news of the change in allegiances. It would likely be months before the Challenger could truly be considered an Imperium ship, but in the meantime things were in motion and the Captain was making good on his promises.
As the only Group member with any real flight experience (not to mention a valid Captain’s Accredited License issued by the Bureau of Ships and Services), Sapphire Soto trained as the shuttle’s pilot – learning the specifics of the controls layout, being granted access codes, memorizing Imperial flight procedures, and conducting both realspace and hyperspace test flights. The smuggler was also quietly issued a Ship’s Operating License and Arms Load-out Permit for the Nune-class shuttle Aggressor.
Tesh Ryon filled the post of System Operator, and was instructed on reading and interpreting sensor data, managing the shuttle’s shield controls, and learning both the operation of the communications equipment, as well as the protocols associated with contacting or being contacted by other Imperials. Additionally, he was taught the IFF (Identify Friend/Foe) transponder code system associated with military vessels – enabling him to determine the type, designation and allegiance of such craft.
The more technical position of Chief Engineer went to Q’Von, who was given an overview of the shuttle’s circuitry and power distribution, shown how to divert or reroute power as needed in emergencies (such as away from overloaded circuits), and trained to repair both system and hull damage when at dock or between battles. The prodigy was also provided instruction on reconfiguration of the vessel’s modular interior components, permitting the Group to shape the shuttle to their specific needs.
More generalized training was also available to the Party, from routine maintenance procedures to weapons calibration and targeting drills. Beyond this, DD-0X made sure to inventory the available medical supplies while DFND4 took stock of the Aggressor’s provisions and consumables. By the time the Group departed the Challenger to made ready to contact “Minister White” and acquire their new orders, their confidence level had grown tremendously, with Sapphire even joking about operating the shuttle by himself.
Once away from the Star Destroyer and in communication with their benefactor, the Party listened as Shandra outlined their next assignment, namely getting the Aggressor smuggled onto the Project’s host planet. Gyndine, one of the many worlds affected by vongspawn mutations, was also the site of a Kuat Drive Yards orbital array. The facility, dedicated to research and development, was eventually deemed vital to the war effort, and became the catalyst around which Krayt’s Empire formally occupied the entire system. The planetary government was forcibly disbanded, with all of its representatives soon arrested or killed – save for one.
The last remaining government official, previously a mid-level minister, was currently in hiding and acting as the De-facto leader of an underground resistance movement against the Imperials. This made the organization a perfect partner, and Shandra (under the guise of Minister White) had brokered an alliance. The Party’s resistance contact – Tendoora Veran – was a former member of the planetary security forces who had taken up work as a cargo hauler after the occupation.
Per the arrangements already made, the Party would meet Tendoora at Ozuar Anchorage, a shadowport far enough from Gyndine to avoid detection, but close enough to still be of use. Veran would take the Aggressor to Gyndine in the holds of his bulk freighter, and Shandra would arrive in short order to transport the Group to the passenger liner that would take them all – alongside the first wave of Project employees – to the Project facility.
With their orders confirmed, the Party made the jump into hyperspace, bound for the coordinates given to them by Shandra. Their arrival point was beside a large nebula, which served to conceal the shadowport’s location from any who had not been made aware of its presence inside. Having been given codes to the appropriate broadcast comm frequency, Tesh obtained an approach vector and Sapphire took the Aggressor in, slow and steady.
The dust-choked interior of the nebula disrupted communications, obstructed the cockpit viewport, and greatly reduced sensor range; mandating constant monitoring of the shuttle’s instruments to facilitate minute course corrections in order to stay on target. With Tesh thoroughly engaged in his work, Q’Von stepped up to assist, relaying information to Sapphire and helping to make it through the thick exterior and to the lighter center, where visibility increased, and both sensors and comms returned to normal.
With the nebula safely behind them, the Group landed in one of the Anchorage’s many docking bays, where the differences between shadowports and the more standard starports were many and obvious. In place of the usual customs officials were gangs of ruffians, who – rather than inspect one’s cargo – simply demanded immediate payment of credits for overpriced necessities such as docking and fuel; demands that were backed up with an almost giddy eagerness to use force.
Fortunately, the Party’s contact Tendoora Veran was not far off, and his accustomed ease and prompt payment brought about a return to “civility”. The Gyndine native then insisted the Group join him in going to another meeting while one of his associates moved the Aggressor onto his hauler. Given that they had little else to do until Shandra arrived with their new transportation, the Party agreed – following as Veran led them deeper into the shadowport.
The meeting turned out to be in a desolate, all but abandoned section of the station, behind a heavy door in a darkened chamber. DD-0X and DFND4 counted a half dozen lifeforms inside – clean, uniformed sentients bearing standard issue weapons and logo-ed armbands… corporate security. A large obviously distorted hologram stood at the room’s center, atop a table projector. Tendoora introduced the hologram as “Myth”, a seller of weapons.
As the discussion proceeded, the true reasoning for Veran’s choice of post-occupation profession became clear. More than merely smuggling the occasional shuttle or person, he was stockpiling weapons for an eventual Gyndine uprising. There was a problem however, one that infuriated Tendoora, and prompted “Myth” to supply an urgent and hasty explanation.
The shipment of disruptors that Veran had paid for and was at the shadowport to retrieve was in the hands of another group, a criminal organization known as the Zann Consortium. In the past, “Myth” had long sold weapons to both Tendoora and the Consortium, but a recent war between the Consortium and another criminal group had increased their usual demand considerably. Despite working in the field of weapons manufacture, “Myth” was limited in the amount of weapons he could supply.
In order to keep his company’s board of directors and shareholders from discovering his side business, “Myth” was only capable of selling a certain percentage of the weapons he manufactured, under the falsehood of them having been defective units that were destroyed. If that percentage of “defective” units got too high, an investigation into the problem would likely land the arms dealer on a prison planet and the supply of weapons would vanish for everyone.
This meant that the only other weapons “Myth” had to sell to the Consortium were Tendoora’s, which – while he didn’t want to do that, he was left with little choice given the trouble that the criminals were threatening – specifically hijacked ships, killed or ransomed crew members and stolen cargo. He had however, also convinced the Consortium to stay behind and speak with Tendoora, to make a more long-term deal that would preserve the peace and at least keep everyone alive and in business.
With a location for the Consortium’s representative in hand, Tendoora ushered his side out of the chamber and toward the site of his next “meeting”. As expected, the criminals had left a large group of sentients behind in a vacant cantina – most likely to kill rather than talk. Anger and shouting quickly consumed the gathering, and Solis knew that things were about to turn ugly. He slipped back through the entry and made his way to the upper level overlook, discovering two rifle wielding criminals aiming down at the assembly below.
The scout’s approach wasn’t unnoticed however, as one of the goons swiveled his weapon to face the new arrival. A shot rang out, sending the criminal slumping to the overlook grating as DFND4 stood below, blaster still trained upwards. The security droid had reacted in an instant, and there was a second’s pause before realization sunk in, igniting a ferocious gun battle. Q’Von and Sapphire upended tables, taking cover as the room filled with a veritable laser-grid of blaster bolts.
Tesh rushed to join Sapphire behind the table, calling upon the Force to hurl a chair at a nearby criminal, narrowly missing as the creep took cover behind one of the weapons crates. DD-0X moved to Q’Von – who had been caught with a round in the chaos. On the overlook, Solis and the second rifleman exchanged fire, shots sparking on the metal railing as each sought to both take cover and return fire. Tendoora and his resistance fighters maneuvered quickly, using their experience in the security forces to maximize their battlefield impact.
Having participated in many an illegal gunfight, the criminals took advantage of both their superior numbers, and their spacing throughout the cantina, attempting to negate their enemies cover. One reckless goon jumped onto a table, using the higher position to catch Q’Von with another round as the prodigy rose to continue engaging the enemy. Though successful in one regard, the tactic also left the criminals exposed, costing them several casualties in short order.
Manipulators a blur, DD-0X worked furiously to assist the fallen Q’Von, turning all attention away from the ensuing battle, and catching a devastating shot in the process. Blue electrical discharges surged wildly as the medical droid emitted a mechanical shriek and toppled over, smoke billowing from a large carbon-scored hole. Tesh moved to fill the gap in medical treatment, conducting a vitality transfer via the force, to partially mend Q’Von’s wounds at the cost of his own health.
The criminals in the meantime, had decided that the fight was turning against them and moved to escape, the mad dash toward the establishment’s rear exit costing them additional fighters. The rifleman from the overlook fell over the railing and onto the cantina floor, signaling Solis’ victory in the one on one matchup and giving the Party the high ground as well. As rapidly as it had begun, the firefight was over, the last couple of criminals having escaped out the back room through a large hole in the wall.
Tendoora and his associates celebrated the acquisition of their gun shipment while the Party searched the fallen Consortium fighters and tended to their injuries. DD-0X was in arguably the worst shape, and would require some extensive repairs – but overall the Group had survived well enough intact. Everyone returned to the now-empty docking bay, where Shandra would shortly arrive to transport the Party to the passenger liner, and hear about their exploits with Tendoora. Only Solis stayed a few moments longer, making his way into populated areas of the shadowport to warn others away from dealings with “Myth”.
The resulting trip away from Ozuar Anchorage and to the passenger liner gave Q’Von time to recover, and make the necessary repairs to DD-0X along the way. Aboard the new vessel, Shandra introduced the Party to Oro, one of her Mon Calamari contacts, who would be taking over for the murdered mercenary Hothron. Shandra also had one minor task for the Group, sneaking into the cargo bay of the ship and adding a small crate to the shipment, to be stealthily reacquried after they had arrived to Gyndine – an easy job when compared to the recent mission on Rabaan.
Arriving finally to Gyndine, the passenger liner moved past the orbital array and through the planetary shield’s lone gateway, entering atmosphere and pressing onward to the capital city of Yractos. The ship was met at the landing pad by Captain Lin Mendalson, who would be helping Shandra and her assistants settle into the facility and introducing them to the facility commander, Major Dural. For his part, Dural seemed unhappy with the prospect of the Project on his base, or perhaps it was merely the presence of the project’s Sith overseer Lord Mastigar being present – who issued stern words to Shandra regarding his expectations as to the Project’s rapid advances and lack of delays or failures before leaving.
With the brief introduction out of the way, Mendalson once again took the lead, issuing code cylinder access to the Party members, entering their likenesses and records into the base’s database and leading a firearms certification drill, enabling the Group members (save for Sapphire who failed the exam) to carry their weapons on the base. The scout would have to attend a secondary class for another shot, but not before the Party needed to retrieve the package they had sneaked into the cargo hold of the passenger liner.
After nabbing the package ahead of any inspection, the Group returned to Shandra in her office, and watched as she first silenced all, and then opened the crate. Inside, scanners, portable computers and other slicing equipment were quickly put to use, as Shandra and the new arrival Oro took to carefully going over the entire office, ensuring the absence of any devices that might be watching or listening. Only once the room was fully swept and found to be clean did Shandra speak again, bringing the Party more fully into the fold.
The Gyndine Project was, by and large, a ruse, designed to gain access to funds, equipment and personnel – which would be used over time to assist in taking control of the planet Dac (Mon Calamari) away from Krayt’s Empire. As a world focused on ship production for the Imperial Navy, Dac was a key target, and taking it would be a long term goal at best. She continued explaining that things would occur slowly at first, starting with the very basics.
If the group was to operate on this base safely, they would need to know as much as possible about it. Troop numbers would need to be determined, as well as tapping into the network of sensors and holocams used by the military forces. The Group was inside the proverbial belly of the sarlac, and if they were to maneuver, they needed intelligence first and foremost. The time table for the initial fact gathering was set to one week, as the Party would then need to travel to Dac, and return to the base with a number of the Project’s “key researchers” – which was to say additional spies and operatives…