Security arrived a while later, after they’d searched the Sith’s body for any clues. They found the blaster that had shot Terrn, as well as a holographic image disguiser, which likely assisted the changelings abilities. When security arrived, Rebeka pointed the Sith out as the person who tried to kill Terrn. The security officers took there statements, then returned them to the main hall, where Terrn was recovering, and were surprised to find there employer back on his feet. The injury was fairly minor fortunately. And it was clear without a doubt that Yuo was indeed the attacker, no longer being present. The Zeltron had also disappeared too, peaking Rak’s suspicions. The hall was quiet as Jace tried to piece together what was going on. The weapon the sith had used was unlikely to have killed him outright, so perhaps there was more going on than they realised. The other guests were still fairly distressed by the events as they were questioned but Terrn seemed alright. Republic Medics had tended to his injury, a shot that struck under his arm.
“Are you alright?” asked Rebeka.
“Yes, a little distressed, but otherwise I’m fine.” He said. “I notice however Yuo has gone missing.”
“Yeah, about that,” she said gently, “we chased the shooter further into the hotel and we think that it was Yuo- actually someone disguised as Yuo.”
“That’s…deeply troubling,” he said frowning.
“She was a Sith, she’s now dead.” Said Jace.
“Then I hope this wasn’t a long term agent, there have been spies that were planted long before the empire even existed to our knowledge. A great shame.” He sighed, taking the book from his jacket pocket and tearing the autograph into shreds.
“You shouldn’t do that, what if it was the real one?” asked Rebeka, but she didn’t get an answer. Piecing the autograph together they looked at a copy of an original on the holonet and found it was either the real deal or an excellent forgery.
“Does the HiD have anymore outfits?” asked Jace.
“Let’s see.” Said Rebeka, pressing a button. The image of Yuo’s dress and mask replaced Rebeka’s ball attire. She pressed another button and her outfit altered to that of Darth Lykats, which she squeaked at. “urgh, getitoff!” she said pressing a third button hurriedly, her outfit altering to that of Darth Storns. The fourth outfit was a robed outfit that they thought at first was unfamiliar.
“The Selkath on Ord Mantell, that’s where I know it from.” said Lanyef.
“How did you even remember that?” said Rebeka, shocked.
She pressed the last button and her outfit transformed into that of a Bell boys, though not of this hotel, and definitely for a male.
“I love this thing.” Said Rebeka, messing about with the device.
They continued to wait for security to finish there investigations, overhearing that Yuo arrived only with her bodyguard. They were finally allowed to leave, and Terrn was more than eager to leave after the wasted trip. They gathered there bags from the bell boys and waited patiently in the lobby to all arrive. Jace meanwhile tried his hand at trying to investigate Yuo’s room.
“I’m sorry Sir but that’s priveliged, information.”
“I’m security.” Said Jace.
“You are Private security, not Republic security, and therefore it is privileged information.”
“Tell me what I want to know, now!” he growled.
The woman jumped and dashed away, after a few minutes Republic Security was out at the desk, asking Jace to Leave.
“I’m investigating an assassination attempt here.”
“So are we, and you are getting in the way of our investigation, now please leave.”
“Where’s the bodyguard?”
“That is privileged information. Please leave.”
“I want to know, do you have the bodyguard?”
“Yes we have him now please leave.” They insisted.
“Good enough for me.” Muttered Jace, returning to the group.
They all suddenly found security watching them like hawks.
“What did you do?” said Rebeka, observing the stern faces.
“asked for some information.” Said Jace.
“Oh.” She said, suddenly understanding.
They returned to the Dawnstar and set course for Meera, Terrn expressing his wish to return to Meera for the safety of all. The journey was solemn, particularly after a couple of days when it was discovered Yuo Chihiro had been murdered in her hotel suite in another Rixicalon Hotel, two days prior to the party. Her bodyguard was also found dead on the day of the party. Rebeka browsed the holonet for related articles, and noticed the definite connection. The bellboys outfit on the HID was definitely of this hotel, and was probably how the Changeling had succeeded. She deleted the images off the device in case it could be pinned on her. Terrn had also discovered the murder, and remained quiet and secluded for much of the trip.
When they arrived at Meera, he stated they could simply land Planetside, he would let them know he had returned from his office. Rebeka landed the ship easily while Terrn was checking his datapad for messages.
“I’d like you to come with me to my office, I received a message while we were away.”
“Is it from your friend at the party?” asked Rebeka.
“Harrington? No not at all. It’s from one of the other groups I sent out. They appear to have found some trouble.”
“Trouble?” Said Lanyef.
“Yes, I sent them to Lynaria before I left, in the colonies.”
Terrn led the way to his holoviewing room, and contacted the Meera Station.
“I have returned to Meera, please put through my missed messages.” He asked.
“Yes, Sir. Welcome Back.” Said the controller, and the image changed.
A recorded message came through from what they guessed was a mercenary, given his equipment , it was clear he was speaking into a comlink.
“You can forget your money Terrn, your precious artefact was right where you said it would be, but no reward is worth- aagh!“ he finished as he was shot suddenly, then suddenly a mandalorian appeared in shot. Terrn paused the image as they observed the Mandalorian. He wore mandalorian armour similar to Jace’s, parts replaced as and when needed, but the overall effect and clan markings were still uniform.
“It’s definitely a Mandalorian, can you come to any other conclusions?” asked Terrn of Jace.
“The clan markings are of clan Trask. Rilken Trask was a mandalorian who betrayed Mandalore the Indomitable and went into hiding.”
“Bit full of himself to call himself Mandalore isn’t it?” said Rebeka.
“Mandalore is his title, he is known only as Mandalore, when a warrior takes that mantle there is no other name. The Mandalore now is a sith puppet, but before that was Mandalore the Preserver, Mandalore the ultimate, then Mandalore the indomitable, 300 years ago during the first Mandalorian wars.”
“Mandalore…” said Rebeka, glazing.
“There armour is scavenged, not uniform, which means they likely don’t have ties to the neocrusader movement, and we can perhaps work with that.”
“It doesn’t appear they are welcome to visitors.”
“They might like other mandalorians,” suggested Rebeka, “Maybe.”
“Agreed, If they are mandalorians, perhaps Jace will hae better knowledge to handle them.” Said Terrn.
“To a degree,” he added.
“Depends where there alliegance lies.” Said Jace.
“I’d sent the mercenaries to recover a storage device, a fairly unique one designed for a very specific device.”
“What sort of device?” asked Rak.
“I don’t know,” shrugged Terrn, “I would like to recover it in order to determine that. The Star Map left no clues as to it’s purpose other than to store something.”
“So your sending us all that way for a blank disk?” said Jace.
“It’s more than that,” he said, pressing a few buttons on the terminal and the mandalorian vanishing to display a large stone, obviously Rakatan in design. “it’ll need at least two of you to carry it. I tracked it to a fortress of a planet now known as Lynaria. The republic colonised this world and set up a Self sufficient colony. It’s likely the Mandalorians may have already been there, the planet is shielded some how from scanners and sensors.”
“Do you know where this fortress is?”
“No, the mercenaries may have discovered that,” said Terrn.
“You think any of them are still alive?”
“I’m making assumptions, you won’t know until you arrive. In there last report they had spoke with the local colonists with regards to the fortress, and it suggested that a human named Nathan Ferris knows the location.”
“Do we know where he is?” asked Rebeka.
“At the colony, it’s likely you will find that much easier than the fortress. The colony is an SS, and Rural, so likely you will locate the farms faster than anything else.”
“Yes, the planet is currently experiencing it’s winter cycle, so wrap up warm.”
They left for Lynaria soon after. Rebeka calling her uncle on route to check in. they arrived at there destination a couple of days later. Lanyef attempted a scan, but sure enough the sensors weren’t functioning properly. They decided to look for the colony the old fashioned way, and after several passes in high orbit, located the farm lands, a pass over them allowed both Rak and Lanyef to notice the landed ship in one field, which they guessed was the mercs. They landed nearby, guessing the best people to ask would be them to begin with.
“Try hailing them,” said Jace, Lanyef did so, but received no response.
“Then we knock.” Said Jace.
“Jurl, stay with the ship,” said Rebeka, putting her winter gear on. The droid beeped it’s acknowledgement.
They all went out to investigate. The ship had the decal of a sand panther on one side, the Panthers roar was it’s name. it was fairly atypical for a merc ship, a simple transport modified with weaponry more advanced than the standard fare.
The landing ramp was closed, but a quick slice by Lanyef lowered it for them.
“Hello!” asked Rebeka. But there was no reply. Rebeka moved up the ramp and inside, going to turn on the lights, only the odd one or two activated as they continued to call out in case any crew were aboard.
“There was supposed to be six of them, but I’m not finding a single one.“ said Jace. They searched the ship and found no signs of struggle at all. The ships activity log suggested they landed three weeks ago, and eight days ago since someone entered the ship. They also noticed that some panels and electricals had been removed.
“Just basic materials, perhaps some of the colonists scavenged the parts when they learned they weren’t coming back.” They checked over the medical bay, recovering some useful equipment that hadn’t been taken, they also checked the communications, and found the last message they had witnessed had been sent via the ships transceiver.
“Can you track it?” asked Jace.
“Not with the scanners haywired,” said Lanyef, “same problem as before.”
“Least comms work.” Said Jace.
“We should head out to the colony next.” Suggested Rebeka.
“see what they have to say.” Said Jace.
They returned outside, it was still snowing when they stepped out to see where to head to next. They peered across the snow-covered farm land to what they hoped was a farmhouse, and just beyond that was the colony. Jace used his Electrobinoculars to observe the buildings. Some were a mix of prefabricated shelters and constructed low tech buildings. A couple of fields ahead there were Nerfs grazing in the snow while a Zabrak Farmer seemed to be tending them. They made there way across the fields to the colony, Jace momentarily avoiding a snowball Rebeka had thrown. His helmet turned to face her as she’d rolled another, and she dropped it sheepishly.
As they approached the Nerf Farmer, he observed them warily, but took no aggressive action.
“Hi,” said Rebeka waving, “We’re on the right track to the colony right?”
“That’s right.” He said.
“good thank you.”
“What do you know about that ship over there?” said Jace, gesturing to the just visible ship.
“it belonged to the offworlders before you I’m guessing.” Said the Zabrak.
“Any idea where they went?”
“No idea, I know they went into town.”
“no not particularly. You’re not with that other bunch are you.”
“I’m with this bunch.” Said Jace.
“Well, you better not be here to cause trouble.”
“not for you.”
“well, we don’t want any, we were promised to be left alone if we left them alone.”
“They’re usually good for there word, in my experience,” said Rebeka, “are they cold?” she asked about the nerfs.
“No, they can weather winters, they’ve plenty of fur.”
It was quite clear that the farmer did smell as bad as his herd.
“well, don’t stay out to long, or you’ll catch cold.” Said Rebeka.
“I’ll be out here as long as I need to be thank you miss.”
“Okay,” said Rebeka.
“Good day.” Said the Farmer and continued to watch his Nerfs.
They bypassed the farmhouse completely and headed into the colony proper. There were one or two people that quickly headed inside there homes when they arrived, peering cautiously at them. Two or three were heading into a building built half and half, a metal plate over the door stating it to be the Gold Bulwark. They went inside to see if they could learn anything more, as they guessed it was some sort of cantina. Inside it did indeed seem like a cantina. Several people were gathered around a Dejarik game going on, while a bartender cleaned metal mugs in front of keg upon keg on the back wall. They went a little quiet as Rebeka went in, but went really silent when Jace entered.
“He’s a nice mandalorian,” said Rebeka to the wary faces around the cantina.
“We don’t want any trouble,” warned the bartender.
“You won’t get any trouble from him.” insisted Rebeka.
“Better not make any trouble then.” Warned Jace, Rebeka put her face in her hand.
Some of the patrons stood up. “Your leader promised you’d leave us well enough alone.”
“I’m not with them, I’m looking for them.”
The barman waved at a few and they seemed to sit back down.
“As long as you’re not going to cause trouble, you can stay. If you want a drink, that’s fine as well. But if you start causing trouble, your leader will hear about it.”
“I’ve already told you they’re not my clan.”
“Then keep to yourself and don’t cause trouble.”
The bar went more or less back to normal, Rebeka watching the game for a while.
“I’ll have a drink.” Said Rak.
“We only have cider I’m afraid, none of the off world stuff.”
“A Cider it is then. How much?”
“First one’s free.” Said the Barman, tapping one of the kegs and pouring the semi liquid into a mug.
Rak took a drink, the taste nearly knocking him out of his boots.
“it’s good stuff, my compliments to the brewer.”
“well, we did try, it’s been mixing for the last galactic standard year.”
“So do any of you know a Nathan?”
“That’s me.” Said the man who won the game. The crowd dispersed as the game had ended, and they left her and Jace to speak with him. “What did you want?”
“Well, it depends, we’re looking for the Fortress, we want to find these mandalorians.“
“Or the mercenaries.” Added Jace.
“Which ever comes first.”
“I see, were you with the other lot then?”
“We work for the same guy, he’s interested in what happened to his employees.”
Nathan seemed a little less wary now. “In that case, why don’t we make it interesting. We play Dejarik, if I win, you’ll pay three hundred credits for the information. Granted they won’t be much use but might be good for something. And if I lose, I’ll tell you for free, and perhaps, even a bit more.”
“Sure…okay,” said Rebeka, but she didn’t sound confident, still when the board was played, Beka won with a flawless victory, astonishing Nathan.
“I…I don’t believe it.” He said amazed.
Rebeka shook his hand respectfully, “A good game all the same.”
“Indeed, and you won, fair and square. A couple of people did come here a few weeks back, I told them the same, they lost there game and they payed. I told them where to find it. I came across the fortress in my youth, the Mandalorians were here long before we even arrived. My adventuring nearly caused an incident that my father managed to avoid. The fortress is sacred ground to these Mandalorians. They seem to think someone’s going to come for them.”
“Mandalore most likely, they are the descendants of a traitor.” Said Jace.
“Well, either way, we don’t bother them and they don’t bother us. That was until you offworlders started arriving.”
“Hey, we at least gave you a good game.”
“That I won’t deny, which is why I’ll tell you more than I did the others. You’re not the first to come and ask about the fortress. Neither were your mercs.” He looked at Jace. “You don’t look like one of there lot, but you do look like the one who came before.”
“Really.” Said Jace, it wasn’t hard to hear the venom in his voice.
“There was a Twi’lek, a droid and a Trandoshan with him.”
“those guys.” Muttered Rebeka.
“They arrived a month back, I’m not sure they’re still here but they asked about the fortress as well. Played a good game back then too.”
“Where did they land?” asked Jace.
“Dunno, they just arrived one day, though no one knows from where. They weren’t obvious about it like your lot. Maybe a ship dropped them off.”
Nathan explained the exact location of the coordinates, and in return Rebeka gave him some spare parts and a few power packs, which he appreciated. Rak had another cider for the road and they set out.
Jace observed the watchtower through the trees with his electrobinoculars.
“There’s a mandalorian in that tower.” He said, moving his binoculars to a couple of bunkers, each also with a mandalorian, he recognised the tactic.
“We’re not sneaking up on these people.” Said Jace. “There’s likely a sniper and land mines littering the path inside.” They observed the ground. It looked like the snow had done a good job of hiding the mine field, the travelled path was easier to see, but didn’t make it any less dangerous. After a long discussion, Jace was certain these Mandalorians may not shoot immediately if he stepped out, and without any other viable option he did so, hands held up.
“[Hold your guns, I come to speak with your leader.]” said Jace in Mando’a.
The three mandalorians readied there weapons at him.
“[But not one of ours.]”
“[Is this an attack? Are we under attack?]”
“[Blast it, it’s the Vanguard.]”
“[I do not represent Mandalore.]” said Jace, but already the shot’s begun firing.
Rebeka backed him up, “We don’t mean any harm!”
“There’s another! Get them!” Jace hopped over the other side of one of the small bunkers using his jetpack.
“[If this were an attack you’d already be dead.]”
The Mandalorian blasted at him in response, catching Jace in the shoulder, he had to reload as the other Mandalorian took aim, blasting him across the back. Rebeka dodged fire from the watchtower. The shot’s missed, but another shot fired from the fortress, a sniper hitting her across the arm. Lanyef kept his eyes fixed on the sniper while he blasted the mandalorian in his tower, Rak helping Jace by shooting the mandalorian in front of Jace in the back. Rebeka hurried along the safe path, staying within the routes the mandalorians had travelled. Jace blasted the Mandalorian before him several times, killing him. Jace then set his rifle to stun, shooting the other Mandalorian in the Bunker with a stun shot.
“[We are not an invasion force!]” he said.
Beka took another graze as she made for the fortress doors, the two mandalorians firing on her, pressing a panel on there wrists. Lanyef followed after Rebeka cautiously as Rak moved quickly after them, blasting the mandalorian in the tower, a shield shimmering over him. Rebeka made it to the door as Jace took aim at the mandalorian above.
“[Cease Hostilities.]” said Jace, but took another shot for his troubles. The Mandalorians avoided the return fire from Lanyef and Rak as Rebeka started to hack the door locks, muttering about Mandalorian idiocy. She tried to pull them open, but the frigid doors were difficult to move. Jace returned fire on the sniper, having to reload his rifle he pulled a pistol to shoot the mandalorian up in the tower. The stunned mandalorian staggered to his feet as the others blasted Jace and Rebeka, catching them both a couple of times. Lanyef crouched as he moved up, Rak following him, blasting the Mandalorian who’d just recovered. Rebeka tried to pull the doors open, eventually getting the open and squeezing inside for the warmth. Jace reloaded his rifle and stunned the bunker mandalorian a second time, then aiming with another stun shot at the Mandalorian in the tower. He fell out, collapsing into the snow below with horrible crunch and a moan of agony.
“We are not an invasion force!” he called.
“Shut up,” muttered the sniper as he tried to blast him again, the blast doing nothing but melt snow.
Rebeka heard a sudden barking coming from one of the corridors ahead.
“What is it?” said a Voice.
“Help, your watchman outside needs medical attention!” said Rebeka, thinking a diplomatic response might cool the tempers.
Jace tossed a stun grenade up into the fortress pill box, stunning the Sniper momentarily with the well placed toss.
“Kato, is that you?” called the mandalorian in the corridor. Lanyef rushed into the fortress after Rebeka as Rak continued to blast the sniper.
“No, I’m an offworlder, but I mean you absolutely no harm, I’m going to slide my guns towards you, so please don’t kill me.”
Jace overheard this, and hurried to the entrance, “[We want to speak to your leader. We mean no harm.]” he added.
The mandalorian appeared, holding a chained Massiff back from running at them.
“[Is that right.]” he said in response, drawing a pistol.
“[Then you’re more stupid than you look.]”
“[Care to explain?]”
“[No Mandalorian can come here. This is our place, and only our clan can set foot here. Now I suggest you go back to the place where you came from.]”
“[What about the mercenaries?]”
“[They trespassed on our territory, they got what was coming to them.]”
“[What about the other mandalorian that came before me?]”
“[There have been no other mandalorians. You are the first.]”
“[We just need to speak to your clan leader and then we will be gone. We’re not here to live, we’re not here to settle, we’re here for our business and then we’ll leave.]”
“[Fine.]” the Mandalorian grumbled, “[Holster your weapons]”
“Alright,” said Jace, looking to the others.
“mine are on the floor, can I pick them up?” asked Rebeka.
“Fine, but slowly.” Said the Mandalorian. She cautiously picked up her weapons, the Massiff snarling at her. She fixed it with a stare, that only seemed to aggravate it. “I wouldn’t do that, unless you want your face bitten off.”
Rak got inside just as they were being led off, holstering his weapons at Jace’s request as they were led through the fortress.
“Your watchman still needs medical attention.” Said Rebeka.
“He’ll find his way inside.” Said the guide.
“He might of broken something.”
“He can fend for himself, if he doesn’t, then he’s no Mandalorian.”
They were led through, picking up Mandalorians as they went, who took up guard positions as they went. They were halfway through the complex when the sounds of battle could be heard again.
“Friends of yours?” said the guide with the Massiff.
“no there’s only four of us.” Said Rebeka.
“I assumed friends of yours.” Said Jace.
“Our friends don’t usually fight each other,” said The Mandalorian suspiciously. He ordered several to go off and investigate, the others keeping a close eye on the four of them.
“We’ll soon find out the truth in all this. Make sure they keep there guns holstered, even if they’re innocents, they might be good as leverage depending on what the leader decides.”
They were led through several more rooms that were being mobilised against whatever the invading force might be as they were led to the main chamber. Rubble had collapsed over the two other entrances, but the main entrance seemed to be the one they were using mostly. At one end was a dais with a stone coffin upon it, the armour of Rilken Trask laying atop it, resting on the storage device they’d come for. Before it stood a dark skinned woman in heavy looking armour, holding a golden staff. She tapped it in the flagstones, opening the axe blades out as they approached.
“You’re either trespassers or traitors, either way, neither are welcome.” She said.
“I don’t care if we’re welcome, we have business.” Said Jace.
“No one has business with us, you certainly do not.”
“Those Mercenaries that came here, we want to know what happened to them.”
“They attempted to get in here. They were killed for their Petulance. If they are friends of yours, you share in there crime.”
“They’re no friends of ours.”
“Really. Then why did you ask about them?”
“because they were after something, and we need to know where it is.”
“I had no idea what they were after, they didn’t even get through the front door. Either way, traitor will find nothing here.”
“They’re not the only traitors here.” Said a voice behind the party. They looked back to see Xidonis and his crew blocking the exit out, their guns drawn. Jace and the others drew there weapons in response.
“So this is where I find you, Cordo Jace. It seems a more fitting place than most to end your life.”
“Try it.” Said Jace.
“How dare you! You are the traitors here! You are both here to undermine and insult our leader.”
“Right now I’m here to kill him.”
Suddenly another voice boomed about the room in huttese.
“Hhaca bankop bu Koee see Parella bu Votetka!” it said, declaring Parella the Hunters presence as he burst through the rocks on the left side of the room, flanked by Klatooinian Mercenaries.
“Catke cohka vot uba hhont bu yoskah, Jee gee tweepi boonowa uba, an caiot catkiua mah maianza che mah yankenu nanpa!" he boomed, swearing to kill the Dawnstar crew for escaping him and forcing him to retreat.
R.A.A.I readied his weapons as Popara’s own fully charged.
“Well, this just got interesting.” said Xidonis.
“How many beings did you bring here!” snarled the woman, putting her helmet on.
“I didn’t, but I’m going to leave a few behind.” Said Jace.
“Well well well, isn’t this fun.” They all heard in there head. Suddenly the solid collapse over the remaining tunnel exploded, rocks flying everywhere and scattering across the chamber floor. A squad of Sith troopers led by an officer and a Sith marched in.
“After all these years, I get to finish my collection.” Said the Sith. A Grey skinned Twi’lek with an artificial eye, wearing the usual robes. Jace immediately pointed his guns at him.
“And Xidonis Jace as well, I can get the whole set. Very interesting, very interesting. I imagine this is going to be a lot of fun.”
“Xidonis, I’ll get to you later, this one dies first.” Said Jace.
“Oh no, it is you who is going to die here, Cordo Jace. Just like your father did.”
“I did once, and nearly succeeded, your father is not here to save you now.”
The Trask Leader readied her axe, “I’ll have no more traitors or trespassers here, you will all fall!”
“Fa doth tee-tocky bai wen tah vot, bonee wagan an che tytung.” Said Popara, readying his pike.
“Well this escalated quickly. Xidonis, what do you want to do?” said Nola.
Xidonis’ gaze went from the Sith back to Jace. “I’m sorry Cordo.” He said, raising his gun.