The sound of blasters followed by shouts and screams echoed back through the large doorway opposite the secret tunnel entrance before the heroes had time to fully process their new findings. The young Leia ran back inside the room shouting that the droid guards had suddenly started shooting at her. Punctuating her point, a dozen security droids followed her into the chamber, blasters spitting forth their blue bolts of energy. Acting quickly, the Twi’lek grabbed his blaster from his droid and proceeded to shoot back. The Kel Dor Jedi rushed forward and used the Force to push back several of the mechanical units, while Tex retrieved one of the hidden blaster pistols from Sparktacus. Fearing for her safety, Senator Organa ran to his daughter, shielding her from the hail of blaster fire; but he was caught unawares as his own bodyguard droids likewise turned their weapons on the pair, and wounded the young girl.
Making do with the smuggled weapons, and those taken from the security droids, the group quickly dispatched the rogue robots, only to hear Organa say that his human captain of the guard had detected another trio of droids fleeing on speeders toward the nearest imperial garrison. The captain had managed to block their long-range communicators, but the droids would have to be stopped before the Senator’s meeting with members of the resistance was reported!
Having barely a moment to confirm the Organas’ health, they began pursuit of the droids on some of the fastest royal speeder bikes. Streaking through the crowded airlanes of Aldera and between the spires of various buildings, blaster fire destroyed two of the fleeing speeders, including an impressive single-handed rifle shot by Nai-Keego even as he weaved between the obstacles, the Twi’lek clinging onto the Bothan’s back for dear life.
As they neared the imperial outpost, Senator Organa comm’ed to say that they had finally regained control of the fleeing droid, but that the imperial outpost had seen the firefight. That would raise too many questions, and so the answer he was going to provide was that an insurgent had taken control of some of the militia droids to attack the imperials. As a way of evidence, the remaining droid speeder was guided into the power generator of the outpost, causing an explosion destroying the building. But the dozen clonetroopers outside were already starting to shoot back at the pursuing speeders.
Reaching the clones first as a testimony to his Imperial Academy piloting skills, Nai-Keego landed the speeder with Bob-Nob and he returning fire. The tactic didn’t prove as worthy as planned when the hail of blaster bolts left the Bothan pilot bleeding out. Deciding on a less refined landing, Ehred piloted his speeder bike into a line of the clones, the Force substituting for skill as Sparktacus flew off of the bike with the Jedi in his mechnical arms at the last moment before the collision. In a matter of moments, the remaining clones were dead as the others launched attacks from atop their speeder bikes – alternately shooting down from above and attempting to crush the troops with the bikes themselves.
With all witnesses to the truth eliminated, the medical droid worked his skill with the Bothan while Senator Organa confirmed that someone had secretly programmed Alderaan’s security droids to be on the watch for known members of the Resistance. It seems that their actions against the Empire had begun to attract notice. Although Senator Organa’s human staff had managed to track down the Imperial agent responsible for programming the droids as well as stop information about the secret meeting from getting out, it was a precarious time, and that they should hasten back to safety before the Imperial reinforcements arrived. Having obtained the information they sought about Nizon, the group left Alderaan quickly, with hyperspace coordinates set for an isolated asteroid en route to Nizon.
At the waypoint, they hid one of the Headhunters, so that only the trained pilots would have to navigate the asteroid field enveloping Nizon. And it was fortunate that they did, for upon reversion into realspace at the Centares system, they were greeted with the terrifying vision of a Venetor-class Star Destoyer emerging from the edges of the dust cloud. As the transport it escorted jumped into hyperspace, it and its V-wing screen turned its attentions toward the newly arrived barge and twin headhunters.
“This is Lieutenant Vykk of the Imperial Armed Forces hailing incoming barge The People’s Champion. You have entered into a restricted system. Please state the reason for your presence.”
“Repeat, this is Lieutenant Vykk of the Imperial Armed Forces. You are in a restricted system. Please state the reason for you presence here.”
“Uhh… we’re here transporting needed supplies for Nizon,” responded the Twi’lek.
“Roger. Transmit authorization code.”
The others scrambled to locate authorization codes in the sailing barge computers to no avail.
“Repeat, transmit authorization code.”
“Uhh… the authorization code is 5… 8…”
At this point, the sensors indicated the V-wings coming into attack formation, and they realized their only chance of survival was to get past the destroyer, through the asteroids, and into Nizon’s atmosphere, where the capital ship could not follow. For the odds of a frontal attack against an Imperial Star Destroyer otherwise were 3,720 to 1.
As Tex drew the attention of four of the V-wings, spiraling his Z-95 through the asteroid field, Bob-Nob fiercely worked on keeping the shields on Nai-Keego’s trainer Headhunter operational from the frequent asteroid collisions – it was almost as if the Bothan thought the goal was to collide with as many as possible on the way to atmo! [Three nat 1’s in a row for the Bothan’s piloting check.] Were it not for the Twi’lek’s skill with machines, they would surely be just more debris in the cloud.
Meanwhile, the barge suffered the loving kisses of the Star Destroyer’s turbolasers. It was only the combined fortune of its occupants that they were not annihilated at once. [First shot against the barge, critical hit with the Heavy Turbolaser battery! 7d10 x20 damage! With only 140 hit points, and DR 15, SR 15, it was unlikely they would have survived. This was the start of the judicious use of Destiny points.] With no choice, they too plowed through the asteroid field, returning fire upon the pair of pursing V-wings. Try as they might, they were only able to score the occasional hit on Lieutenant Vykk piloting the lead V-wing.
Barely making into the atmosphere, the surviving V-wings broke off, unwilling to continue the pursuit without support – though, it became clear through their erratic flying that they were clearly being fed the locations of the larger asteroids and easily able to avoid them. The heroes knew that they couldn’t risk another firefight and so used the dust cloud to hide their battered ships in caves a few kilometers from the only city the sensors indicated. Climbing out of his ship, it was astonishing Tex’s ship had managed to retain any semblance of flight, full of more cracks, holes, and carbon scoring than rivets holding it together. [One hp left, courtesy of yet another 3 on his piloting check – he needed 4’s.]
Collecting their gear, donning breathing masks and wrapping themselves against the ever-constant dust storms, they set out for the city. A few, however, were not as successful with the survival gear, and found the dust collecting in unpleasant areas – with joints and gears irritated by the time they arrived.
As they approached the stone buildings that comprised the edges of the only permanent city on the planet, the outline of a large building being constructed on the overhanging cliffs slowly took shape through the thick dust. Sporadically at first, then with increasing frequency, small groups of Taung appeared, hurrying from building to building; moving with less haste were large patrols of heavily armed troops. Contrary to their concerns, it was not difficult for the heroes to fit in as there were also several other races wandering the streets – searching for more of the increasingly scarce prized adult male specimens that the Imperials preferred…
Taking the time to listen to the talk of the streets, the group learns that the leaders of the Taung willing to stand up to the Imperials have all been rounded up and are being held in a detention center. They also learn that a bounty hunter named Vril has been asking questions about offworlders.
Making their way through a deserted neighborhood, they hear a scream and round a corner to see a squad of stormtroopers dragging a Taung woman out of a building. Acting quickly, Shroon-Kor and Ehred approach the troops and attempt to convince the leader that she was not the Taung they were looking for. They were not incorrect, but were informed that all adults from the blocks were being collected, and she qualified regardless. When she tried to fight back, and was struck to the ground as a result, Tex stepped out from behind the corner and blasted the trooper. Responding to the sudden ambush with the practiced precision of an occupying force on a warrior world, the stormtroopers loosed fire back. The ignition of the Gungan’s lightsaber dissolved any semblance of restraint as the call of “JEDI! JEDI!” echoed through the squad. At the conclusion of the firefight, Bob-bob’s medical services once again proved their worth in keeping the Gungan from dying on the street – the Padawan’s control of the Force insufficient to block the torrent of blaster fire his lightsaber provoked.
Reuniting the terrified female with her child, all she could say was that the Taung in hiding would rise up against their captors should Sartok be freed. Acting decisively, the heroes quickly hatch a plan to press the attack before the Empire realized what was transpiring was more than an isolated incident.