| The Solace sits without its hyperdrive regulator, its engineer gallivanting around the desert planet seeking a replacement. Inside the palace ventilation system, a small solitary figure seeks refuge. Dr LAgrange administers the medical treatment that will result in malpractice, then slips out in the middle of the night. Teemo the Hutt remains in critical condition, his very life hanging in the balance, with only a reprogrammed medical droid tending to the patient’s most basic needs. Captain Ardellian wakes, still in pain but recovering from the poison.
Raymus groggily regains consciousness to see a disgusting Hutt looming over him from an adjacent platform.
“Teemo. What do you want?” the smuggler reels in pain, “Your doing, I assume. Did I miss a payment or something? This is because of that Bothan and driver, isn’t it? They never showed, and you thought I was trying to double-cross you. Well I didn’t.”
The slug remains unmoving, except for a slight wheeze in breathing.
“You don’t smell so good. You don’t look too good, either.”
That’s when he notices the medical equipment is hooked up not just to himself but also to the gangster. Realization dawns, and for only a moment, the captain feels pity. Then elation.
Pulling himself slowly to a sitting, then standing position, clutching his flank the whole time, Ardellian approaches his bedside companion. “Teemo, I want you to remember this moment. I’m letting you live. My slate is clean.”
With that, he stumbles out of the makeshift medical facility and practically blanches when he views the backside of another Teemo in the Hutt’s private lobby. Hugging the wall, the smuggler makes his way out, noting an odd dormant state for the figure. He questions a guard regarding the whereabouts of his ship, then makes his way out to the palace’s private landing pad.
Once inside the Solace, he crashes hard onto his own bed for a long and blissful rest.
The guard relays the update that the captain has taken refuge in the ship.
| Dall returns from Reb’s Well, passing a juicy rumor to a known Kubaz Imperial informant. With a supply of credits, the agent ensures the message will reach its intended destination: the Imperial claimed barracks outside of Teemo’s palace. The encoded message provides a detailed account of Teemo the Hutt supplying the Rebel Alliance with the Death Star plans.
Having learned Teemo holds the smuggler Han Solo, Jabba the Hutt sends a bounty hunter to collect, and remove the rival gangster in the process. Meanwhile, in the palace, Senton has been keeping an eye on the smuggler, noting his slave collar adornment preventing him from leaving the premises. Considering the options if Teemo perishes, the bounty hunter decides he will help release the man who was once his bounty.
Senton attempts to track down the bounty hunter Zellroth Krayton, his search leading him out into the streets of Mos Shuuta. The trail goes cold after heading towards the gates leading off the mesa. Upon the Cathar’s return to the palace, he observes the Imperials gathering in front of the palace barracks, their attention focused upon an informant.
Senton comms Dall with the situation, and the Bothan advises quickly entering the palace while he gains access to seal the gates and set defenses. The Bothan slices and sneaks into the security center, and not-so-subtly takes command. The Cathar complies, and several others outside follow suit. Once inside, the guards are alerted to battle stations, and hidden defense turrets rise and begin charging.
Dall sends the message to the Rebels, advising for them to observe until the Imperials have fully entered the palace gauntlet. They respond with the ready and mobilize through the streets of Mos Shuuta. Mercenary allies also await the action.
Dealing first with the palace blast doors and initial security measures, the Imperial contingent experiences several losses before ultimately gaining entry. Two interior gates pose similar obstruction to progress, allowing time for the palace guard to sufficiently take up battle positions. Stormtroopers swarm down the main hall, which becomes a gauntlet against the guard and defense turrets. The rebels sweep in behind, aided by mercenaries. Senton snipes several troopers while attempting to reach Ardellian on the comms.
Esteemed guests begin to panic and seek escape. The gladiators contesting in the arena pause as the invasion presses closer to the audience chamber. Teemo continues to sit as though unconcerned by the commotion.
Senton escorts several guests out to the private landing pad, while Dall continues to monitor the fray from the security command chamber. He relays that the Imperials are slowly reducing in number. The Cathar allows the guests into the ship, ordering them to remain calm and wait in the lounge. Then he pounds on the captain’s door until he answers.
The bounty hunter fills him in on the situation, noting several attempts to reach Ardellian. The captain finally notices his comms blinking from the floor and picks it up. Then they discuss transport of the guests. He tells the guests to sit tight.
“We need to get Teemo on board. I want that slug to owe me.”
The Imperials spill into the audience chamber. Suddenly the lights turn off, letting in only the ambient natural light from the sparse windows, and an eerie laugh echoes through the ventilation system. The gladiators ignore each other, save for looting usable equipment and armor.
The stormtroopers open fire upon the Hutt, which laughs as the dopplegangster is destroyed. The Rebels gave no quarter as they cornered the Imperials in the audience chamber. The mercenaries filed into the sub-levels to off the secondary faux Hutt, almost as though they had inside information.
Raymus and Senton arrive just as Dall floats the real Hutt out towards the Solace. Suddenly Teemo’s life monitor flatlines. The Bothan looks a little sheepish, yet claims he didn’t do it, though admitting he thought about pulling the plug.
Senton states he’ll return soon and searches for a certain smuggler. He locates Han Solo attempting to slice a communications panel to call his Wookiee compatriot. The Cathar promises to help.
As they head towards the exit, however, the ventilation panel bursts open, and a Jawa bars their path. The creature gesticulates at Han. After several confusion-filled attempts to communicate, finally they realize the collar will not prevent Han Solo from departing the premises. The creature tinkers with the device, ultimately removing it safely and then keeping it for himself.
Meanwhile, Raymus and Dall contact Gavin with a status report on finding a replacement hyperdrive regulator. The engineer reports success in locating a replacement, but it requires a direct pickup. Then he reveals the cost.
| “What?! I could practically buy a new ship for that!”
The Bothan then pulls out a case he recovered from Teemo’s personal cache, “Maybe this will cover it.”
When the bounty hunter returns with the smuggler and a Jawa in tow, Ardellian looks at them quizzically, “I suppose they want a lift as well? Let’s get these people where they’re goin’ and get paid.”
The crew of the Solace negotiates terms and conditions with the desperate guests seeking escape from the hostility and change of ownership at the palace. Some seem genuinely concerned for their reputations as sullied by a deposed gangster. Several merely request to be dropped off elsewhere on Tatooine and will pay sufficiently for the safe transport. Others request safe transport to other systems and will pay handsomely. Ardellian presents the deal to ferry elsewhere on the planet, then allow some service to be performed on the ship, and then transport the others to their requested systems. Everyone wishing to depart accepts the terms.
The clients requesting off-world transport agree to remain at a safehouse, with Dall as their chaperon. The planetary ferrying proceeds with little hassle. Senton enforces good behavior, Han Solo lends his aid as a substitute pilot, and the Jawa sneaking into engineering to keep the ship operating.
| The last transaction prior to maintenace, however, deviates from the norm. The client states he has few credits on-hand and instead offers an unorthodox form of payment. In his company are two Twi’lek slaves, and he presents one as compensation.
“Few credits on hand, chap, but take my slave, ”/characters/sa-fran" class=“wiki-content-link”>Sa’fran. I noticed you’re on the mend, Captain. Her services will be quite beneficial, and she has great bedside manner."
Against his better judgement, Raymus accepts the exchange.
Setting down at one of the bordering docking stations in Mos Entha, the Solace is met by Gavin and the replacement equipment. Ardellian attempts a final haggle, to no success. Payment exchanges hands, and the hyperdrive regulator ready for installation.
Gavin relays his suspicions that the transponder has been jacked to be a tracker for the ship. His shows the crew his diagnostic, which has located a sub-routine activating every time the Solace enters normal space from hyperspace, resulting in a seeming temporary glitch.
“The transponder system is connecting with the local HoloNet relays and is sending the IFF transponder code, which has an added gibberish code string, which is responded to with a message to reset and purge the communications cache.”
“Uh … whatever. Can you fix it?”
“The only way to fix the issue is to swap it out for a new one.”
“Shiny. Do it!”
They decide that while they repair the Solace, they’ll sneak a swap with another YT-1300 type ship. They manage to achieve their goals, waving a mocking farewell as the freighter Twilight Rise disembarks from the port city.
Shortly before arriving at the safehouse to collect the remaining clients, the Solace receives a message …
“Captain Raymus Ardellian of the Solace, this message originates from the CREDITORS of the Banking Clans, who are the receivers of the accounts formerly possessed by the Hutt Teemo Akijiic Gamiure, as stipulated in his will and testament. A representative will soon contact you with further information regarding your specific sponsorship. You are welcome to challenge this claim by responding directly to this message. Have a nice day.”