After escaping the clutches of darkness on Almas – albeit, not unscathed, nor completely un-tainted, Shroon-kor and Ehred spend much of their time in meditation with Jedi Master Denia. In the meditations, the difficulty isn’t in finding the great suffering throughout the galaxy as the Emperor expands his reach, rather, it is in filtering out the cries of the oppressed to locate the source of the misery.
The sufferings of billions echoes throughout the Force as the Empire extends its grasp and increases its hold. Master Denia allows the two padawan to help access the recovered Jedi holocron, warning that the temptation to draw more from it would be great as it was now infused with the power of the dark side. At first, the clarity of focus that the holocron begins to put into sharper focus the points pain, but both are able to get a clear sense that soon they would be given the chance to aid in permanently throwing off the shackles of the imperial repression!
Along with the sharper focus, comes with it the barely contained rage and fury behind the multitudes. At that point, Denia breaks off the trio’s meditations, leaving them all gasping for breath. Looking at the padawan, she says to continue would be dangerous, and at Shroon-kor in particular, saying “and the temptation to yield is stronger in you, I sense. Be mindful of your feelings and thoughts padawan, for your desire to help can turn you into the very monsters we seek to protect against.”
With the use of the recovered holocron as a type of focusing crystal, they was able to locate the particular cries of those being enslaved by the Empire in their Sarlaac Project – the Nazren of Nizon. With precious little else to go on, she has tasked the group to investigate.
In the briefing, Captain Verdana of the Resurgence and Admiral Vrath inform the heroes that they have no records of a Nizon, nor any Nazren. The best source of information would be the archives of the Republic, however, their communications with the supporters on Alderaan has been lost. The last communiqués indicated that further electronic contact would be dangerous as they are being monitored – any future contact would have to be in person. With the contact method and passphrase “utini” in hand, they prepare for their departure.
Bob-Nob and the droids successfully changed the transponder on the Glorious Chariot, renaming her The People’s Champion. The exterior was well worked on to appear to be a seasoned transport, but still able to pass as a merchant wealthy enough to have a trio of Headhunter escorts; and modified expertly enough that no damage was sustained by the barge.
Upon arrival in the Alderaanian system, the sight of the multitude of Star Destroyers and fighters stationed around Alderaan made many hearts aboard the convoy skip a few beats (and the droids circuits lose a few hertz). But the fast-talking Twi’lek in the disguised barge was able to get clearance to approach the planet. Upon entry into atmo and being contacted by the Alderaanian air traffic control, they were informed that weapons were detected on the ships, and were asked to hand over the electronic codes so that their weapons could be disabled before approach. Having no other choice, they complied, even though Nai-Keego did his best at trying to circumvent the lock.
Landing at the spaceport closest to the Royal Palace, the automated welcome message informed them thusly:
“Welcome to Alderaan. Be aware that the atmosphere contains 23% oxygen, 73% nitrogen. In addition to standard Imperial law, be advised that planetary law prohibits weapons and violence is a capital offense. Alderaan is a peaceful planet. The weather outlook in Aldera is excellent with a small chance for rain. Group temperature is 26.4 degrees.”
A fierce discussion ensued in which it was decided that only a few blasters would be smuggled in after being disassembled and hidden in the droids. They realized that they didn’t have the diplomatic immunity of the Senatorial office unlike their last visit.
Stepping out onto the spaceport, they were greeted with the slightly lower gravity of Alderaan as wel as the refreshing air after weeks of only re-ventilation while ship bound. The B-class protocol droid at immigration welcomed each hero to Alderaan with a cheery “Have a peaceful day!” after “health and biology” scanning cleared their entry – with the exception of the Twi’lek who was found to have “forgotten” to stow his concealed holdout blaster before disembarking from the The People’s Champion.
Taking an abundance of caution the group took multiple cabs and a rented speeder van in a circuitous route to the designated meeting point. On the way, they noticed several garrisons of clone trooper points scattered throughout the city.
The meeting place was at the edge of a busy interplanetary bazaar where locals and newly arrived merchants bartered and traded their wares. A few hours after sending the rendezvous signal, Bob-Nob and the droids were approached by a small figure wearing a hooded robe, which chattered away at them unintelligibly. The only word they could make out was “Utiniii!” while it waved a robed at them. The Huttese speaking Twi’lek realized the creature was speaking Jawa, and with no other option, followed the small humanoid towards an alley in the shadow of the Palace. Again exercising caution, the Kel Dor Jedi knocked over a table full of wares while the others all determined no one was paying undue attention to the Twi’lek and Jawa’s interactions.
In the alley, the Jawa manipulated some hidden controls and a previously hidden narrow doorway slid open from the wall. Ushering the entire group in, the Jawa closed the door behind them and led them through a rock passageway into a large chamber with a conference table and chairs. Settling in, they were unable to get any more information from the Jawa. While the biologics conferred on how to best learn Jawa in a hurry, the droids set about reassembling their smuggled weapons.
Still kicking themselves for not knowing how to speak Jawa, the large door at the other end of the chamber opened and Senator Bail Organa entered flanked by a pair of security droids.
“Ahhh! My friends, it gladdens my heart to see you again. I thank you all for your continue sacrifice in the fight against tyranny. But where are my manners,” turning to those he hadn’t previously met, “I am Senator Bail Organa, and I apologize for the circumstances of our meeting. We’ve noticed that we’ve been under more scrutiny lately, and cannot risk any further electronic communications as the Empire has been monitoring us constantly now. Hence, we’ve had to limit ourselves to these covert meetings. And this here,” he said as he indicated the Jawa, “is my daughter – one of the few who can get around unnoticed through these old secret passageways in the Royal Palace.” As the stunned group looked on, the “Jawa” lowered her robe and removed the face mask to reveal a young girl of perhaps 10 or 11 years. “You did a great job Leia – why don’t you go get dressed and head back upstairs.”
“Now, what is that I can help you with that the Resistance felt the urgency to contact me? I must apologize that we have precious little time before my absence will be noticed.”
Mentioning the need for information about Nizon, the heroes were given a short time on the computer terminals in the conference table to access the Senatorial archives.
One discovered that Nizon was inhabited by the remnants of an ancient race that had scattered into small pockets after they were almost completely annihilated. They were called the Nazren after the planet where they had settled. Being outside the Galactic Republic, they had no representation within the Senate, and thus, easily exploited by the Empire.
Another discovered that Nizon is the 5th planet in the Centares system and was able to obtain hyperspace coordinates. He also learned that the Empire has a small presence on the mining world Centares, the 3rd planet in the system. Throughout the region between these two planets was a dense asteroid field, likely the remains of another planet that was destroyed upon collision with the current 4th planet. The asteroid field made approaches to the planet difficult, and potentially dangerous.
Lastly, Tex stared in shock at what he discovered. He found a picture of the Nazren and upon opening it, saw his own face staring back at him – for the Nazren were, like him, a remnant of the once-might Taung.