Kaa’to Leechos was having a bad day.
The nikto bounty hunter and smuggler had worked out a sweet deal. Get funding for a Kessel spice run from the Pyke crime family, then turn around and trade the majority of the shipment to Black Sun in exchange for weapons that he could then sell on the Outer Rim at a ridiculous markup. Keep a little of the spice on the side to grease some wheels as needed; small quantities of the drug were as good as cash in the circles he ran in.
Only suddenly everything was going wrong. The Pykes were onto him, and had put out a bounty for his capture. So far, only a group of ridiculous amateurs had made a play, and then in the most obvious manner possible. One flash of the thermal detonator he kept with him at all times and they’d run like a kicked jawa. Still, he needed to wrap this thing up and get off planet very quickly before someone more qualified came calling.
Then when he’d gone to Zelcom Tower to drop off the shipment and arrange payment, the whole place goes on lockdown as someone shot up the Zelcom offices. He’d wasted no time getting out of there after arranging to meet his backers at his hideout in The Works. Let Zelcom deal with the disturbance; if he wasn’t being paid, it wasn’t his problem.
So now, as he sat in his lair at the kelerium refinery, he saw a ship landing on the loading dock. Why weren’t his contacts using the back entrance as they’d arranged? The answer came soon enough, as the same crew he’d run off at the Umbra Club hopped out of the speeder and made for the office entrance. Well then, this time he’d have to issue something stronger than a warning. He flicked off the monitor as he grabbed his blaster rifle and headed for the catwalks.
“Hi, I’m Charel Sunfell, with the Department of Industrial Inspections. We’re here for your semi-annual spot review.” Mathus flashed the important looking badge Chopper had whipped up from a piece of scrap plating.
The Mustafarian looked at Mathus with unblinking insectoid eyes. The whirs and clicks of his (her?) language were instantly translated by the vocorder worn around her (his?) neck.
“Semi- annual? All previous inspections were done on an annual basis. Our union dues are paid in full, and our last inspection was barely seven months ago.”
“Yeah, change of policy negotiated at the last union conclave. Some serious graft must have changed hands, I’m sure. Anyway, inspections are now semi-annual. You know, for safety.” Mathus tried to strike a balance between an authority figure and an ‘I’m just doing my job’ regular joe.
“This is highly irregular. Perhaps I should inform my supervisor?”
Mathus frowned. “Look, we’ve got a pretty tight schedule, and I don’t want to wait an hour or whatever for the supervisor to get down here. We have the authority to call in the constables and shut this plant down while conducting our inspection. Now, big operation like this, probably take you a day to get back up to full capacity, right?. No one wants that. We can be in and out of here in less than an hour, while you get to keep the operation running. Everybody wins. OK?”
The Mustafarian paused, considering the crew of two humans, a wookie and a gand. Finally he relented. “You may proceed. Please conduct your inspection with all haste.”
Mathus heaved an inward sigh of relief. “Right, will do. We’ll pop back in here once we’re done to issue your report.” Motioning the others to follow, he moved to the plant entrance.
Leechos peered through the sight of his blaster rifle at the plant’s office. Yes, definitely the same crew from the Umbra. He lined up the reticle on the office door, preparing to take them down as they entered the refinery. Once they stepped in, it would be all over.
A warning chime sounded behind him. Someone was coming in the back entrance; probably his Black Sun contacts. Cursing his rotten luck, he set the rifle down and deactivated the traps that protected the entrance. Several minutes later, two well-dressed humans entered. Leechos recognized one of them as Zhin Natas, a mid-level operative for Black Sun.
Natas smiled. “Leechos! Are we catching you at a bad time? It looks like you have some company.” He nodded towards office, where the crew appeared to have talked their way past the Mustafarians. “Friends of yours?”
Leechos grimaced. “They’re nobody. They’ll be less than nobody before I leave here, I guarantee you that. “
“You live such an exciting life; I envy you. Regardless, I have your payment.” Natas reached into his jacket and slowly pulled out a small aluminum security case, which he held out to Leechos.
As soon as the nikto touched the case, a paralyzing shock traveled up his arm. “You’re getting sloppy, Leechos, falling for an old trick like that. Letting the Pykes find out about our little deal and track you here. VERY sloppy. Black Sun doesn’t like sloppy.” Natas was reaching into his coat again for what was certainly a blaster.
Leechos appeared to stagger back, then slammed his good hand down on a console. He immediately dove to the floor with his hands over his ears as the stun charge booby trap went off. Still, he caught enough of the blast to be disoriented. Through blurred vision, he saw the two Black Sun operatives reeling. He quickly drew his holdout blaster and gunned them down with his off hand. He was trying to head for the hangar when he finally succumbed to the stun charge’s effects.
The party moved stealthily among the supply crates, threading their way across the refinery floor towards the back office. So far there was no sign of the bounty hunter, but everyone was on full alert. Eventually they arrived at the office door. Taking time to look it over, Skara discovered the door was booby trapped with explosives. Mathus attempted to bypass the door’s high level security, but was unsuccessful. After several fruitless minutes of discussion, Tarwarrick snatched up the closest refinery worker droid and, with a snarled warning, heaved it at the door.
The resulting explosion effectively deafened the party. Through the smoke they saw a hole in the wall where the door used to be, and the Mustafarian workers in the front office scrambling to respond. Each of the workers now carried a snub nosed blaster rifle slung over their shoulder; their immediacy in firing on the party showed they were not unfamiliar with the weapons.
The party took cover where it could behind crates and vats of chemicals and began returning fire. The Mustafarians scrambled for cover, but didn’t seem particularly anxious to advance. The reason soon became apparent as a squad of security droids rumbled out of the darkness. Their precise blaster fire effectively pinned the party down.
“We can’t stay here!”, Skara yelled over the din. “We need to get somewhere defensible! Follow me!” With that, she took two running steps and dove through the ruined doorway, her blaster rifle firing the entire time to keep their adversary’s heads down.
The Mustafarians followed quickly, raining blaster fire on the doorway and hitting Skara. From cover, Mathus and Tarwarrick opened fire, hitting several of the Mustafarians and driving them back. Suddenly Mathus was hit from a security droid up on the catwalk. The Gand took the opportunity to imitate Skara and dove through the doorway firing all the while.
Another security droid hit Tarwarrick. Mathus and the wookie rushed for the doorway; the wookie ran through easily while Mathus hit the doorway and had to crawl through. A stun grenade bounced in, landing right beside him, but didn’t go off. Hearing the enemy approaching, Mathus quickly armed a frag grenade and hastily flung it at the doorway. The grenade clattered off the bulkhead and landed back in the room before exploding.
Skara, seeing the hapless mechanic fumble the grenade, had taken cover behind a work table. After the blast, she peered through the acrid smoke to see a bleeding and unconscious Mathus laying on the floor and the security droids again advancing on the door. Yelling “Cover me!”, she quickly dashed out and dragged Mathus to safety as Tarwarrick and the Gand fired through the doorway. Once Mathus was safe, Skara added her rifle to the battle and the remaining droids were finished off.
The Gand healed Tarwarrick and did what he could for Mathus while Skara explored the room. She found a hidden stairway leading up, presumably to the bounty hunter’s den. Three steps up she realized she forgot to check for traps as an explosion blew her violently back to the ground floor. The Gand, having done what he could for Mathus, moved on to the latest hapless victim of explosion.
Mathus, still shaky from the grenade blast, cautiously made his way to the top of the stairs but was unable to bypass the door’s security protocol. Tarwarrick, following behind with a protesting Skara slung over his shoulder, set the bounty hunter down and simply kicked the door in. The party followed him into the room.
Inside, they found two dead humans and the nikto bounty hunter, Leechos, apparently stunned and groggy. Tarwarrick wasted no time taking advantage and charged the bounty hunter. Skara pulled a blaster pistol and set it to stun, with the Gand and Mathus following her lead.
Leechos shook off the fog enough to shoot the charging wookie, then threw himself through the office window and leapt off the catwalk. The jetpack he wore left a faint smoke trail as he sailed off into the darkness of the refinery’s catwalks. The party followed quickly enough to see him land at the command tower that oversaw the refinery floor.
Skara began to make her way along the catwalks while Mathus and Tarwarrick laid down covering fire. The nikto moved and fired a blast, hitting the wookie. Mathus stabilized his friend and returned fire as the Gand crawled out of the office and began shooting. Leechos saw Skara approaching and moved to retreat, but Skara was able to hit the jetpack as he flew away.
The party heard the jetpack sputter and quit, then a clang of metal on metal and a sploosh as something fell into one of the refinery vats. Mathus quickly made his way over in time to see the remains of the jetpack sinking below the surface of the molten kelerium, but no sign of the nikto. Skara and Tarwarrick followed, and the wookie noticed a blood train leading from the refinery vat. The followed the trail, which led them back towards the bounty hunter’s lair.
Mathus and the Gand charged up the ruined stairs, blasters drawn, but saw no sign of Leechos. Down below, Skara and Tarwarrick heard a low rumbling that began rising in pitch. Following the sound, they found a hidden door leading to a warehouse space being used as a hangar. A battered Z-95 Headhunter was currently warming up; in the cockpit sat Leechos.
Skara unlimbered her heavy blaster rifle and snapped off several shots at the craft. They bounced harmlessly off its shielding; it would take a more powerful weapon than they currently possessed to stop the ship from taking off. Mathus and the Gand arrived at the sound of Skara’s blaster, and Mathus quickly comlinked Bender. They had left the droid onboard the Krayt Fang with a pre-flight sequence programmed in case they needed to leave in a hurry. Mathus yelled for the droid to come pick them up and to track any vessels leaving their location. The party headed for the landing pad as Leechos’ ship sailed out into the darkness.
Several minutes later the Fang touched down and the party piled aboard. Bender confirmed he had a lock on Leechos, and the Fang roared skyward in pursuit. Skara took over piloting duties while Mathus and Bender headed for engineering. Tarwarrick gave the Gand a quick lesson in the quad guns, and each manned a turret.
The Fang quickly gained on the Headhunter. Leechos, sensing their approach, angled his ship towards a nearby asteroid belt. Skara called for the crew to grab on to something, then followed. The ships weaved in and out of the asteroids, the Headhunter’s superior maneuverability against the Fang’s power and toughness. Both sides scored hits as the ships danced back and forth, and despite his best efforts, Mathus was unable to get the Fang’s shields to regenerate.
With no shields and several hits scored on their hull, the Fang faced off for a final run at the Headhunter. The bounty hunter’s craft was obviously wounded as well; it wobbled along it’s line as one of the engines seemed to be misfiring. As the two crafts closed, Skara quickly rolled to port, taking the Fang out of Leechos’ fire while giving Tarwarrick in the belly turret a perfect shot. The wookie hit the undamaged engine of the Headhunter, and the ship spiraled out of control into a nearby asteroid.
Skara brought the ship around and held cover as Tarwarrick and Mathus donned EV suits and approached the craft. Inside, Leechos appeared unconscious and bleeding, but still alive. Life support on his craft still appeared to be functional. Mathus disabled all ship systems except life support, and the party towed Leechos back to Coruscant and the waiting Pyke family justice.