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Prologue: Death of a Jedi:
Toro Irana is angry because he’s been stuck on Makem Te for weeks. He’s not a patient Jedi anyway. After numerous meetings have been canceled, rearranged and moved, his contact is late.
The air is bad, dust is everywhere and the world is covered by the Tract. The crypts and mausoleums of the Tract can be seen from the restaurant windows. The inhabitants, Swokes Swokes, look like lumps of flesh, argue about religion and death and eat funny. A Rodian comes in with a bottle as a gift for his patron being delayed. Toro hates getting into these control games.
But he does get caught in the middle of a huge fight between Swokes Swokes and pulls his lightsaber to get out of it. It doesn’t matter if they lose limbs here. The Swokes Swokes lack pain centers and regenerate body parts.
So they attack him back and he cuts the head off of one. They retaliate by throwing utensils, furniture and food at him. He lashes back, cursing them and their planet.
Then he lashes at his own reflection by accident and falls through a window, even falling in anger.
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  • The time is 19 years ABY.

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chapter 1: A Mystery on Makem Te:


Mander Zuma isn’t happy about what he learned about his apprentice’s death. The Congress of Caliphs had made a complaint to Yavin IV that a blue-skinned Jedi killed a Caliph’s nephew. Mander was pulled from his duties to find out what happened.


He’s not surprised that headstrong Toro had gotten into a fight, but that he had gotten into one so easily and made such a foolish combat mistake is unusual. Toro had been a great warrior and had bonded with his lightsaber.


Mander had come to the Force later in life as many Jedi have. His skill with it shows, sadly. He starts by claiming the body and examining it. There is a strange darkening of the veins and arteries and some purple crystals at the corners of Toro’s eyes. Mander suspects Toro was under the influence of something before the fight.


Next, he visits the restaurant where Toro had met his death. He confirms Toro had been there, waiting for someone. A Rodian showed up with a bottle. Toro insulted everyone and started swinging his lightsaber before killing the Caliph’s nephew, Choka Chok.


He killed five more regulars, screamed in Basic and smashed his way through the window. No one found his lightsaber. They do still have the bottle the Rodian brought.


Mander does a scan of the bottle, confirming something unusual is inside. It’s similar in composition to the purple crystals on Toro’s eyes. Some kind of poison, he thinks.


But, why was Toro so unwary that he drank it? Jedi are supposed to be aware of their surroundings. The Rodian could have been a friend or sent by someone Toro trusted. This might be related to his mission to get the navigation coordinates for the Indrexu Spiral.


His messages to the Jedi Order had been short and curt. He had made contacts and started negotiations. Nothing to indicate a problem, but there are few details.


Mander heads to a warehouse where he’s tracked the Rodian. He finds it empty and assumes the poisoner has taken off. He finds a small pile of the purple flakes. It smells like some kind of spice. Gathering evidence, he realizes he’s not alone.


Mander blocks a blaster bolt and does so again before challenging the shooter to come out. She’s a Pantoran, like Toro. When Mander explains he’d taught a Pantoran the ways of the Force, she accuses him of being responsible for Toro’s death.


She’s his sister, Reen. Mander explains he was at the Jedi Academy when Toro died and came to investigate his death. She tells him that Toro was a dreamer. Becoming a Jedi killed him.


Pantoran admits that. He wants to find out who poisoned Toro and bring them to justice. He’s found some evidence here that leads him to believe the poison came from this warehouse. It may explain why her brother was unable to defend himself well during the battle.


They are attacked by several Swokes Swokes and Rodians. Reen explains they are the Bomu family. Mander collapses some racks to give them some place to hide behind. The blasterfire has started a blaze, though, and they can’t stay here.


A manual loadlifter moves toward them with a Bothan at the controls. Reen explains that he’s with her. They jump aboard and slam their way outside. The whole warehouse is on fire now.


Dejarro Bomu walks through the bazaar with both good news and bad news. He finds a one-eyed Klatooinian named Koax in a shop, pulls his package out and shows Koax the lightsaber hilt.


He found it on the street near the body. He doesn’t think anyone saw him take it. The plan went off well. The wine was delivered and the Jedi started the fight himself. Law enforcement got to the body before they did, but they grabbed the lightsaber.


After confirming the lightsaber works, Koax gives Dejarro a vial of deep purple crystals that she assures him are purer than he’s ever seen. Dejarro tells her that another Jedi has shown up to investigate. He tracked them back to the warehouse where they were trying to clear out.


They ambushed him, but he had backup, the warehouse caught fire and he escaped. Koax laughs as how surprised he was that another Jedi would come looking for the dead one.


Dejarro tells her they need more of the More Tempest spice. They’ll make it up to her. They just didn’t expect the Jedi to bring backup. He will try to speak to the Spice Lord on her behalf.


Koax will warn him that there’s another Jedi with allies. When she finds out who they are, she’ll make sure the Bonu clan is avenged. For now, though, the Spice Lord will want to know that she has taken appropriate action for Dejarro’s negligence at covering his tracks.


She shoots him and takes the vial back.

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Yes, it is one of those books that you think had originally been about someone more notable rather than just some made-up guy....

 


chapter 2: Negotiations:
Zuma, Reen Irana and the Bothan sit at the café, looking at the envelope of purple crystals. Zuma explains that he believes this is what killed Toro. He relates his examination of the body, including that he feels Toro was angry when he died.
This substance is an easily-dissolved poison that was put in the wine the Rodian brought him. Reen doesn’t think poison quite fits the name. This is a hard version of spice, a narcotic, called Tempest.
Spacers have been seeing this make its way through the spiral arms and into Hutt space and the Corporate Sector. It’s mixed in drinks or used as an aerosol, is addicted and destructive as addicts often have fits of rage.
He had an overdose. The last few holos of him were angry, blaming the Jedi for sending him out here, upset that his contacts were giving him the runaround. He was already addicted. She came out her to check on him, but arrived to find that he was dead and a Jedi was here asking about him.
Mander assures her that his assignment had nothing to do with spice. He was supposed to meet someone in the restaurant. The warehouse evidence is gone, but there may be some members of the Bomu clan left.
Reem explains the clan is large, hiring itself out to different crime lords, running scams on various planets. They are vengeful, though. If one if killed, the entire clan will come after the killer.
The Bothan is Eddey Be’ray, mechanic and hot-wiring expert.
Mander would like to find out where the spice came from, but he must finish Toro’s mission, too. He doesn’t know if the mission ties into this somehow. Someone else may know about this which means he could have a rival out there.
Toro was supposed to get coordinates for the Indrexu Spiral. Mander knows who he was supposed to meet with, too. Reen has a ship called the Ambition, but it’s not intact. It’s on a landing pad on Keyorin.
Mander thinks that he could use an expert pilot. If he can check out the coordinates and verify their authenticity, he will let Reen use them, too. The catch is that the people who have them now were the ones stringing Toro along all this time. They are Hutts.
Eddey isn’t happy about this. Bothans and Hutts are natural rivals, but, even then, it’s foolish to trust any Hutt. They’re all criminals and thieves. Mander believes this just makes them predictable enough to trust dealing with them.
Reen points out that dealing with Hutts is different than with other species. They’re also resistant to the Jedi Mind Trick. Mander knows this, too. They may be willing to deal with the Order because of it.
They belong to the Anjiliac clan, their head is Popara and he has the codes. Where he got them is a mystery. So far as Hutts go, he’s fairly honest in his dealings and has a loyal group of people. Eddey speculates that Hutts see loyalty as a luxury.
Reen does wonder what type of Jedi Mander is if he doesn’t know about Tempest and is willing to deal with a Hutt. Mander explains a Jedi goes where he’s needed. Toro knew this, too. For this reason, he’s going to finish Toro’s mission and bring justice to him.
Reen thinks he’s going to need a lot of help navigating the real world.
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chapter 3: Popara the Hutt:


The Hutt thought the Jedi was coming alone. Mander explains that he was the teacher of the one who was supposed to be here and has come to finish the job. He is addressing the Hutt majordomo, Vago Gejalli who will be speaking on Popara’s behalf.


They board a ship and head off, Vago confirming that Toro had had some dealings with the organization, but had not met with Popara himself. They board a yacht called the Wandering Outlander.


Popara greets them and declares their offer for the coordinates sufficient. He does, however, want to ask something of them. There is a plague on the world of Endregaad on the far side of the Indrexu Spiral. It’s close to the Corporate Sector which has quarantined the planet.


Popara wants to send some medicinal spice to help, but the CSA won’t work with him. He would like to provide them with a ship carrying the spice that has the coordinates programmed into it. Mander thanks him for his concern, but wonders if there is something else they should know.


Popara explains that his son, Mika, is trapped on Endregaad and there’s been no word from him. Mander accepts the requests, but Reen wants to keep the ship.


Popara agrees that would be a fair payment for the favor. He wants them to bring his son back.


They find their ship is a Suwantek freighter which is a dependable model with two quad laser turrets. Reen asks Vago about Popara’s history with spice. Vago explains that Popara has been known to send medicinal spice from time to time, sometimes deals with glitterstim, but never hard spices or slavery. He prefers to gain wealth without adding to the misery of the galaxy.


Mander would still prefer to check the cargo to be sure there are no surprises should the CSA inspect the ship. Vago tells him that most assume the Hutts are all criminals, just as they think all Bothans are spies. However, Popara has survived long enough to know how best to hold his wealth. His oldest son, Zonnos, has had problems dealing with the CSA and, since his father is distracted by the missing son, business is suffering.


Zonnos is more of a typical Hutt, though. Since Mika has potential to pass on his father’s legacy. She suspects that’s another good reason to find him. Mika went to Endregaad on family business. They hold Skydove Freight which is located on the main colony on the planet. He was negotiating with geode miners.


The CSA has rejected all aid. They’ll probably have one ship in orbit that is old, but armed to the teeth. The coordinates will take them to the far side of the planet. They might use some of the medicine to bribe their way in.


Before they leave, Zonnos asks to speak with Mander. He wants to thank him for his help, but would also assure him that, even if he fails to save Mika, he will have an ally among the Anjiliacs.


Mander tells the others what happened. Vago tells him that exposure to Zonnos is sometimes fatal. She gives them all vaccinations and has them returned to the spaceport. Reen has named the ship New Ambition.


Koax tells Hedu Bomu that the Jeedai is named Mander Zuma who is middle aged and of middling ability. He’s not likely to be a challenge. Hedu is the matriarch of the clan. She wants to be sure that he is the one responsible for the deaths of her clanmates in the warehouse.


Koax is certain. He is traveling with the other Jedi’s sister, Reen Irana, and a Bothan. They are guests of a Hutt clan lord right now, orbiting Makem Te. They should not attack them there, though. She would not want to have a Hutt patriarch after them.


Koax does give Hedu the coordinates where they should appear. They will have to catch it on the way to the Corporate Sector so they can avoid dealing with that entity, too. Koax got all of this information from the Spice Lord. If Hedu is thinking of going beyond her instructions, she’ll want to keep in mind how powerful her employer is.


Koax has stolen a protocol droid that had been overseeing the loading of medical spice on the ship bound for Endregaad. Now, she reactivates it and asks if it knows who it is. The droid knows its name and who it works for and wants to return to its post.


Koax lets it leave, urging it to have its masters do a full scan on it.

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chapter 4: To the Plague Planet:


Mander Zuma has a dream that night that recurs from time to time. He’s on Coruscant in the great Jedi library at the top of the Jedi Temple, walking along the halls of records and busts of the Lost Twenty. Something is wrong.


He meets no one. He wonders if this is during the time when the Galactic Empire ruled and only the Emperor had access to the stacks of data, corrupting them. He wonders if this could be later and if he will find Tionne here.


Then he notices the glowing records are going out and darkness if overtaking them. They are dying. He reaches for his lightsaber and finds his wrist coiled up by a snake that opens its mouth and has twin lightsabers for fangs, glowing red.


When he wakes up, he’s on Makem Te again. The New Ambition is being checked over as Reem wants to sweep the ship first. He holds his lightsaber, thinking about how clumsy he is with it. He’d built it himself as Jedi do, yet he never felt a connection to it.


Reen declares the ship clean and is lifting off to the jump point. She explains that there’s nothing indicating secret compartments are hidden somewhere, the spice is standard issue, no trackers or listening devices aboard and the computer is fine.


She’s still not satisfied that the Hutts didn’t do something to it.


Mander goes over the information Vago gave them, telling them that the Corporate Sector locked down Endregaad quickly once they found a smuggler’s ship with a crew too weak to land. They have a Dreadnought in orbit.


The world isn’t a tourist spot anyway, but trades in geodes, which is why Mika was there. A couple of days afterwards, the plague flared up.


Mander checked on the Bomu clan and finds they’ve disappeared. Reen doesn’t like any of the Hutts. Popara is fat, Zonnos is lazy and Vago acts like she owns them. Eddey thinks Popara can be trusted. He can tell when a being is lying and the Hutt wasn’t. He does, however, think that Zonnos is a typical Hutt.


Mander tells them that Zonnos wanted to assure him he had no problem if his brother couldn’t be found. He disagrees with her assessment of Vago who had told him how Porpora had adopted her after wiping out her family in a clan war. She is very devoted to him, but does keep things moving.


So what they have is a father who is distracted by the missing son, a loyal aide who wants him focused on the business and a brother who wants to be an only child.


When they come out of hyperspace at Endregaad, they are hailed by a a ship that claims to be from the Bomu Clan. The New Ambition loses its port weapons.


After coming out of a spin, Eddey takes Mander’s suggestion to head off in one direction and then bring the ship to a full stop. The hull strains and they stop as the Bomu freighter flies over them. Reen’s guns are locked on and she strafes the lower hull.


All the deflector shields had been put in the front of the ship. Eddey does the same to theirs, but warns Mander they can’t take another hit and their engines are dead. Two CSA starfighters approach them and fire on the Bomu freighter.


Eddey realizes that Mander knew the fighters were there. Mander admits he could feel a ripple in the Force. The starfighters explain they are in a quarantine zone and will not be able to land on the planet.


They offer aid if the New Ambition cannot jump to hyperspace. Mander accepts the offer.

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chapter 5: Planetfall:


The Resolute is an ancient ship with many upgrades. Lt. Orell Lockerbee meets them in the hangar. He explains that they should never have been in the system.


Mander introduces himself and his colleagues, explaining they are on a mission of mercy. While the other two stay behind to work on the ship, he accompanies Lockerbee to meet Lt. Commander Angela Krin.


Zuma thanks her for her patrols’ rescue of him and his crew. He asks about the quarantine and finds that few ships have tried to leave since the initial blocking off of the planet. He tells her that his ship is new and was on her maiden voyage.


She asks what the Jedi Order has in mind for Endregaad as it’s far from Yavin IV. Zuma tells her that he is here on behalf of Popara the Hutt who wants someone to find his son. She is aware of the many demanding requests from the Anjiliacs. She tells Mander what she told them: she doesn’t know where the Hutt is and doesn’t have the resources to find him.


Mander tells her that the cargo is hers as the CSA is probably better equipped to deliver the medicine than he is. He hopes to at least be able to search for the Hutt from orbit while his colleagues repair the ship. She offers her help there, as well as inviting all three to dinner that evening.


Reen can’t believe he gave the spice away right at the beginning. Mander tells her that it would have been confiscated anyway and helping to alleviate the plague is one of the reasons they came here.


Eddey points out that they’ve been very helpful in getting supplies and equipment. Reen asks if he used the Jedi Mind Trick. He explains the difficulty of the trick and how it’s important to use it sparingly and only on those one doesn’t expect to see again. Overuse or use to force one’s will on someone who doesn’t want to comply can damage the mind.


And, no, he’s never used it on her.


Mander does mention, however, that Reen has been invited to the commander’s table for dinner. Reen rejects the offer as she doesn’t like the Corporates. They’re not like the Hutts who can be counted on to be treacherous. The Corporates are too by the book. She wanted them off the ship long enough to give Eddey the opportunity to pull the nav unit offline so they wouldn’t get the coordinates for the Spiral.


They need to get this ship together and get out of here. She denies anything is wrong, but Mander knows better. Reen admits that she’s tangled with the CSA before, a minor smuggling issue, but it wasn’t Tempest.


Mander understands that she is conflicted about doing business on the same smuggling avenues that probably brought the spice that killed her brother. He points out that Jedi are not confessors giving absolution anyway. But her reasons don’t explain why she doesn’t want to meet an officer that doesn’t even know her.


She explains that the original Ambition was damaged in a CSA ambush and she’d rather not Lockerbee be surprised by her appearance in a database somewhere. Mander decides that he will dine with the commander and will be wary if Reen’s name comes up. He may be able to convince Krin to let them on the planet for a short time to allow them to get things working.


Those three days pass slowly as Mander realizes how few resources are available. He eats each night with the commander, deflecting questions by the others about the future of the Order. Krin met privately with him the first evening, explaining that she had to maintain the quarantine, but really can’t do anything about the planet. All they can do is keep people away while those below suffer and die. The spices are desperately needed, but she doesn’t have permission to use them.


The CSA bureaucracy moves slowly. The supply officer that had been putting her off was upset when he’d found out Mander’s team had arrived with the needed medicine. Now, of course, he will rush supplies out to save face.


But Mander’s is better. She wonders where he got it. Mander directs her to Popara, but Krin didn’t think he would help. The Hutts are not helpful generally. Popara ended up sending a blue lump that Mander identifies as Zonnos, Mika’s brother.


He fills in the others in the evening. Zonnos may just be foolish, but Mander gets the impression that he’s not particularly concerned for his brother’s safety. Reen notes that Mander’s spending a lot of time with an officer who has a planet to protect.


Mander admits that she is a by-the-book commander, but she seems very frustrated by how slowly this bureaucracy works. As much as he empathizes with her, though, he’s anxious to move on. The Bothan confirms they should be ready to go by tomorrow night.


But Krin cannot budge. Her superiors have ordered her not to let any ship break the quarantine, despite the medicine being desperately needed. They make their goodbyes before Mander returns to the ship to explain the problem.


Reen notes that she’d warned him.


They prepare to make their way out, passing over the city where Mandor tells them to prepare to land. They’ll need to watch the sensors as Krin probably isn’t foolish enough to believe that he’s actually leaving.


He admits that Jedi are allowed to lie, though it’s not something that should get around.


Two IRDS begin a pursuit, but Mander claims technical problems due to failed repairs. He has read enough of their manuals to know what the procedures are for every scenario they encounter. It’s enough to fly into a sandstorm and land unimpeded. They will, however, have to keep a low profile in the city.

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chapter 6: Tel Bollin:
They land close to the capital of Tel Bollin, camouflage the ship and pull out a Bantha III skiff that will hold them and a young Hutt, if needed.
Mander watches Eddey and Reen work together silently, but cooperatively. It had never been like that with Toro who had been very secretive and questioning. Mander always got the idea that he was a bit of a disappointment to Toro who probably expected a Jedi to be more dynamic.
That Mander had easily disarmed him on their first mock duel together frustrated Toro who wanted to learn how such an unassuming elder could do such a thing. Mander wonders if his failure to properly train Toro in the ways of the Force led him to experiment with Tempest. The young man was always looking for a weak spot to exploit, rather than take a position of caution.
Reen admits that he’s not like other Jedi, although the only Jedi she’s ever seen have been in holofilms and on news reports. Mander, however, is more willing to talk than fight. Mander tells her that different Jedi have different roles. He teaches, but he also supervises the Jedi Archives on Yavin IV. He travels through the region searching for texts about the Jedi and compare them to the corrupted ones in the Jedi Library on Coruscant.
Reen laughs when she realizes that Mander is a librarian. Toro never told her that, but he spoke well of his master in his messages to her, even when he complained about texts and and volumes being given to him to study.
They travel to the outskirts of the city before Mander decides they should blend in by going in on foot. They hide the skiff and head into town where Mander gets directions to Popara’s freight business.
After a swoop gang flies by with an errant bottle tossed Mander’s way, they move on, getting better directions as they get closer to the middle of town. They are warned to stay clear of the center, though. The CSA is rounding up people there.
A landcruiser passes by with a CSA officer inside, announcing that medicine is available. Knowing there will be more people on the streets, the three partners believe this will be helpful.
The office of Skydove Freight is empty, but the front door is caved in and the barred windows are broken. It’s a mess inside and a message painted on a wall in Huttese, indicating “The Fallen Warrior”.
There are empty offices nearby, none of them vandalized. A young man selling spice he appropriated off the back of a CSA loader that morning tells them that the Fallen Warrior is a place. But it’s a cantina for non-humans, such as those who brought the plague. The Hutts and Toydarians weren’t getting sick so they were driven off.
He doesn’t know what happened to the Hutt that was here, though. There had been a Nikto that cleared out.
The Fallen Warrior is built like a bunker which would be beneficial to those hiding from the angry and frightened humans here. Inside, they see a wide variety of species, including a Nikto who may be the one the young man told them about. He’s being subjected to a game in which the swoop gang members slide a drink as close as they can to him without dropping it into his lap.
Mander walks across the bar, picks up a drink on its way to the inert Nikto and tells the gang to give him a minute before returning to their fun. They take exception to this and, when the Jedi Mind Trick doesn’t work, he sees that they have darkened veins indicating their use of Tempest.
Mander gets knocked down, tries to pull his lightsaber which gets caught in his cape, then is disentangled upside down, so he uses it to hit his attacker’s belly. Reen and Eddey are fighting off the others. Mander finally gets his saber ignited and tells the gang they should leave.
When they are alone with the Nitko, Mander asks about Mika the Hutt. The Nikto offers to take them to Temple Valley. Three of the swoop bikes, likely belonging to unconscious members in the bar, are nearby, so they board those and take them back to the skiff.
The Nikto sobers up enough on the way to apologize for abandoning his post at the office when Mike left the city. The early deaths caused people to blame the outlanders. He had been living there until a mob broke in and he had to escape. He was the one who left the message.
Hidden Valley has a wrecked starship sitting on the ground. Mander approaches a pale-yellow-green Hutt and asks if he’s Mika as his father is very concerned. The Hutt acknowledges that he is Mika. His father should be concerned as this is ground zero for the plague.
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  • Alright, this is making a little more sense. The Jedi Archives on Coruscant still exist, but the Emperor had about 20 years to tinker with them so Luke’s new Jedi have to be careful utilizing them because they may not have accurate information. Still, I would have thought that at least some of it is still useful and, as I’ve said already, there was some evidence that the Temple and the Archives were destroyed not long after Order 66.

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chapter 7: Mika the Hutt:


Mika tells them that he didn’t get a chance to leave the planet when the plague erupted and really didn’t want to because he was in the middle of negotiations with miners who quickly fell to the illness. They didn’t have a lot of medicine here, but did what they could.


Though his Niktos fell ill, those who survived developed an immunity. In the city, the authorities lost control and all remaining medicine was used up. People began blaming the off-worlders. Sadly, they were right. He tracked the spread and learned it appeared here first.


He left the Nikto, Orgamon, at the office to get the word out.


It’s speculated that this wreckage is where the plague started, but Mika doesn’t know to whom it belongs. He’s tried matching it to registries to no avail. Reen suggests he pull the inspection numbers off the engines as Corellian ships have customized serial numbers.


The ship was empty when they found it, unless someone got to the wreck first. Eddey has found sand with tiny purple crystals inside near the cargo bay. Mika isn’t familiar with Tempest. He saw purple splotches when he first came here, but thought it was leaking lubricant.


If the ship was bringing spice, perhaps their contact got here after the crash, picked up the cargo and brought it, along with the plague, back to town. Mander tells him he has crossed paths with members of the Bomu clan on Makem Te who were selling it. They attacked him when he came in-system here, too.


It’s possible the ship is a Rodian smuggling vessel or the Rodians just knew about it. Mika notices that Reen is a Pantoran like the Jedi Toro was. He is sorry to hear that Toro is dead.


Mander admits that the Bomus may be after them because of the spice or because of the coordinates to the Indrexu Spiral. He wonders if there was anyone else interested in them. Mika doesn’t think so. They got the path about six months ago and then found it was better suited to light freighters. Knowing this would be valuable information for only a short time, they put out an offer and got the most reasonable one from the Jedi.


There were no other serious bidders. This doesn’t mean someone else wasn’t using the area and wanted to keep others away, especially if they were using it to smuggle Tempest.


They are interrupted by a shout from the Niktos who point to about two dozen swoop bikes headed their way. Reen and Eddey pull out their weapons, Mander his lightsaber.


Mika comes out with a skiff armed with a forward-mounted gun and helps take out some of the swoops, sending the others running. One of the riders, though, fires at his back and he slumps over and throws himself to one side. Only one or two Niktos are alive and the remaining swoops are dead.


Mika slithers out and Mander thanks them. He wants to head back the ship if there’s nothing else left here. He would like to send word to Papora when they get there. The CSA is distributing the spice his father sent. It will be easier to leave when the quarantine is over.


Several starfighters appear, drawn out by the fighting. Lt. Lockerbee is among the officers, barking orders, including that Krin wants to speak with Mander Zuma immediately.

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chapter 8: Repercussions:


Apparently, speaking with Mander meant locking him up. He is secured aboard the Resolute in comfortable quarters but denied visitors, as well as access to the ship’s communications or library.


He spends his time reviewing what he knew and what he has learned. The plague has to be tied to the Tempest somehow and it will probably show up on a more populous world soon which is better suited to handle a new disease.


This unknown ship or the Tempest may have come from the original plague world. He wants to ask Krin to check the spice and the disease to see if a point of origin can be determined.


They will all be let go eventually as keeping a Hutt is too difficult even if his family weren’t demanding his release. Patience is the best remedy now, though he wishes he could get word to Reen and Eddey, hoping there aren’t other outstanding charges against either one.


Reen reminds him a lot of her impulsive brother. He remembers their last duel on Yavin IV that been a traditional friendly rivalry. Toro tried out new tactics and Mander had spent time learning about old ones. Toro had brought his own lightsaber that last day, having built it himself.


Toro had exploited a weakness in his master and used a flashy approach that Mander recognized from training holos and used his own knowledge to counter it. Ultimately, he realized that he was growing weaker because Toro was using a Jedi Mind Trick on him. Drawing on his resolve, Mander cleared his mind and renewed the attack, winning the match.


He struggled and failed to control his anger, reminding Toro that using the Force on another Force-user during a battle is a good way to encounter great resistance. The opponent might use it on him, too.


He gave tips on how to avoid the dangers of the Force in that way and offered more on their next duel, but that never came. Toro’s travels took him from Yavin IV and his master next saw him as a body on Makem Te.


Lockerbee finally appears to take him to Krin where he finds that Reen has already been with her. She explains that that the two women talked about men.


Krin confronts Mander for taking advantage of her hospitality by violating CSA regulations and making her look bad. Mander tells her that she can make a few edits to her report to make the situation look better. His people delivered the spice before her government could which makes it easier to restore order on the planet, rescued the missing Hutt that allieves diplomatic tension and eliminates the constant holomessages from his family, took out a swoop gang that was terrorizing a plague-ridden population and discovered that a deadly spice was being smuggled there. Doubtless, Krin could have done all that herself if she’d not been burdened with maintaining the blockade with her one ship.


She recognizes the significance of all this. The plague is being curtailed. She doesn’t know much about the Tempest except that there are reports of it along the spiral arm. It’s coming into the CSA from the outside and marks an increase in violence.


Neither the Jedi nor the Hutt are what she expected. Mika is very helpful and provided the engine numbers of the crashed ship so that it can be tracked. He’s also provided samples of the Tempest so it could be analyzed. He even plays holochess. Mika thinks very well of Mander and his team. She supposes that she could be careful in her reports and give Lockerbee a commendation.


She can release all of them with a stern warning not to do it again. She has also taken the liberty of contacting the Hutts. The H-3PO unit belonging to Vago has responded to the message by conveying that Popara wants his son escorted back to Nar Shadaa.


Krin is still suspicious of Hutts, even helpful ones, so she urges Mander to be careful.


He runs into Eddey on the way out who tells him that Reen did all the talking with Krin and, rather than speak about men, Krin offered the two of them a job. He’s not sure if they’re taking it.


Mander tells him Popara wants them to bring his son back. Eddey understands how useful Mika has been, but he reminds Mander that the Anjiliacs are still Hutts.

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chapter 9: A Night on Nar Shadaa:


Reen begins a story of how the Hutts lived on a world called Varl, a wretched world that was perfect for them. It orbited two stars that the Hutts claimed were gods and lovers. The star Evona was consumed by darkness and Ardos exploded in rage, wiping out other worlds in the system and pulling the atmosphere from Varl.


In reality, Evona was swallowed by a black hole and Ardos went nova, becoming a white dwarf star. The Hutts fled and came to the Y’Toub system, founding the world Evocar which they call Nal Hutta. It was occupied by the native species Evocii who welcomed them to share the land. Hutts don’t share easily, though, and drove the Evocii from the planet, resettling them on Nar Shaddaa. When the Hutts took over the moon, too, they killed the Evocii.


This is a species that survived the death of their gods and think they are worthy replacements. Everything and everyone else is disposable.


Mika and the other survivors are on board. Mander goes back to tell them they will be landing soon. Mika asks if Reen is Force-sensitive like her brother. Though the Force can pass through family lines, Mander tells him that Reen does not have the aptitude.


Mika asks about Toro’s death. Mander explains that he believes that Toro was drugged with the Tempest by the Bomu clan and died when he fell from a great height. Mika thinks that explains a lot. Reen seemed very curious about the cargo of the crashed ship. He tells Mander that she spent a lot of time asking Commander Krin about it and trying to find out how much the CSA knew. As a result, Krin asked Mika about it.


He thinks there is a connection between the the death of the Jedi and the plague ship. He will check this out when he speaks with his father. He doesn’t like what’s going on.


Mander notes something he remembers from the battle. He saw Mika duck when the last shooter had him in his sights. He did it before Mander even had a chance to warn him. Mika supposes he was just fortunate.


After landing, they are greeted by the droid who tells them a feast has been prepared in celebration. Mander suddenly gets a warning through the Force and calls a warning before a sniper fires off a few shots.


The droid gets its head blown off, Reen and Eddey return fire and the bodyguards surround Mika. Reinforcements of Niktos and yet another H-3PO droid arrive to escort Mika to safety.


Mander didn’t get a good look, but thinks their attacker might have been a Cerean. He wasn’t a very good assassin, though, and there are plenty of good ones on Nar Shadaa. This may have been an attempt to send a message.


Mika goes to meet with his father, while the others are escorted to accommodations. Over a meal, Mander asks Reen about the job offer she got from Krin. Reen confirms that Krin seemed very interested in the Tempest, especially after speaking with Mika.


She wanted to know if Reen and Eddey were interested in investigating. Reen, at least, is because, if they find the Tempest source, they find her brother’s killer. She’s just not sure she trusts the Commander. The deal was laid out quite calculated and bloodless. It won’t keep Reen from accepting the job, though.


Koax gets a call from the Spice Lord who wants a report. Koax explains that the inroad into the Corporate Sector is moving along as the Tempest is popular and there’s enough corruption to help. The authorities they’ve suborned are even helping them crack down on low-level dealers selling spice made to look like Tempest.


They are breaking up the supply chain to keep it going but are careful which ships they use. Their security is tight and they’ve found the weapons near the manufacturing ship. Half of them have been cannibalized to get parts to make the other half operational.


There was a split in the Nuiri sector so they’ve consolidated operations under one distributor. Makem Te is only getting subsistence drops now because of their bungling. She’s made contact with the Bomu matriarch as ordered.


She asks if she should bring the lightsaber, but the Spice Lord turns her down.


Mander has another dream about being in the library on Coruscant, but he’s not alone this time. He can hear voices. It sounds like a celebration, then a discussion, then an argument. The bell peals, the light goes out and the glow from the datacards starts to go out. This time, a single blue-white lightsaber blazes in the darkness.


He goes after the glow, knowing that this is a dream and he can influence it. He reaches for his own and it comes up this time, not a serpent. A crate in the middle of the aisle sits with a Hutt child huddled in a blanket. It’s Mika.


Mander wakes up. He shakes off the dream, considering it. Toro ran away from him and then died. Mander had hoped that finishing his mission would give closure, but that isn’t happening because of all the loose threads.


Mika is another matter. He’s a strange Hutt and there’s more to him that anyone knows. The Tempest being on the ship where Mika was found is another mystery. The Hutt may be connected or he may be another distraction.


He wonders if Popara would be willing to help track down the scourge of Tempest.


Then the CSA seems very interested in it, spurred by Mika’s information. He could leave all this to Reen and Eddey and go back to the Archives.


They are invited to Popara’s table for dinner that night. A wide variety of species is assembled. Zonnos and his Wookiee friends are there, too. Vago escorts Mika in. The three partners separate to different tables.


A Mander’s table, he is introduced to a Hutt named Lungru Nokko, a business associate of the Anjiliacs. A Cerean, Kir Sesad, is his chief advisor. Lungru congratulates Mander for being a protector to Mika.


Mander points out that Mika never flinched from the sniper attack earlier. In fact, he’s pretty sure the sniper was a Cerean. Lungru laughs and makes jokes about Kir sneaking off without telling him. Kir assures his master that he would never do anything without orders and glares at Mander.


Lungru mentions that Popara babies his son. This happens to older Hutts as they age. They get soft and miss opportunities. Popara used to be more cruel. When Lungru goes to speak with Popara, Reen approaches Mander and asks to trade seats. The Rodians she’s sitting with are accountants from the Kemu clan.


Apparently, Mika loves numbers and they’ve been discussing levies for half an hour. The Kemu know of the Bomu but doesn’t associate with them. When Lungru returns, he starts ranting in Huttese.


Kir explains that the Tempest spice is something that Lungru disagrees with Popara over. Lungru thinks it’s an opportunity that Popara is passing up. The spice may be dangerous, but most things are. It’s here on Smuggler’s Moon, in fact. Any information on it is valuable.


Mander checks on Eddey who is conversing with a group of Bimm who were rescued by Popara’s ships and are negotiating how to pay off that debt. A Hutt named Parella was here, but has gone to speak with Poparo. Apparently, Parella likes to hunt.


He’s very interested in Mander’s lightsaber, but Eddey cautioned him that it’s pretty dangerous. He doubts Parella listened. On the other hand, Zonnos has been staring at Mander all evening with his cadre of Wookiees. He may be worried that Mander will tell his father about their conversation. They might want to consider the sniper attack this afternoon wasn’t directed at Mika.


Mander, Eddey and Reen are called before Popara who expresses his concern about this new hard spice that has found its way to Hutt space. He believes that Mika has been targeted for his research into this matter. Knowing that the Jedi feel as he does, that shackles on the body and the mind are both evil, he hopes that he can convince Mander and his friends to investigate this.


He cannot risk his youngest son, or the eldest, as he is the heir, or Vago who is like a daughter to him. They are provided with a list of tapcafs at which they have determined the Tempest has been sold recently. Popara starts to say smoething but begins to sway.


His belly swells and he expands in pain. Reen goes to get help but the Hutt explodes in all directions. Zonnos accuses them of killing his father.

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chapter 10: Pursuit in the Depths:


Mander cuts a hole in a window and the three of them head out onto a ledge with a large group of courtiers after them. He uses the Force to pull a blimp over and they jump on. Bolts from their pursuers hit the blimp which starts to fall.


They aim it for the bridge.


In the meantime, it’s clear that Popara was targeted, but they may not be able to prove it without access to his penthouse. Since Zonnos was quick to accuse them, he may have been expecting it. Mander wonders if this is an attempt to think out those who want to trace the Tempest.


Since they have the list of tafcafs, it would do well to track suspects through it, but Eddey would like to find a ship that will get them off –planet. Zonnos and the Wookiees will get to New Ambition before they do.


After buying new clothes, they stop at a vendor named Min Gost to make arrangements to leave Nar Shaddaa. They also take the opportunity to ask about Tempest. Gost tells them he knows enough about to know it’s bad for business as it leaves users dead. He can get some for them if they want, though.


However, no one knows where it originated. There was a Trandoshan dealer named Rinnix who did good business until he disappeared. He sold to a few upscale beings, including Zonnos Anjiliac. The Wookiees come to get it.


Suddenly a holobeam is projected announcing the death of Popara at the hands of the three persons shown in the image. Gost asks them how much of his silence they are willing to pay for.


They had provided the rest of their funds to Gost, but are pretty sure he’ll only give them 20 minutes to get away before he tells on them. They are approached by a droid who urges them to flee because they are going to be the prey of Parella the Hutt.


Mander tells the other two to hide and he’ll take care of this. They should take off after five minutes, check out the tapcafs on the list and find a way to ship off.


He ignites his lightsaber, getting Parella’s approval for the challenge. It appears, though, that the Hutt has invested in Mandalorian iron so the lightsaber doesn’t do much. Mander finally cuts the cables of the bridge they are on and lets it take Parella down into the lower levels of the city.


He joins up with Reen and Eddey. They stop at the Dark Melody which is full of aliens who came here and never got the urge to leave. When they ask about Tempest, they are directed to Rinnix’s corpse. The bartender can only tell them that he was alive, then dead.


Mander thinks that an autopsy might prove he poisoned by something he thought was Tempest. No one knows how it’s made, so whoever designed it must be an expert biochemist. Such a one could also create a binary bioexplosive that could be brought through even the security of a Hutt.


It seems someone is cleaning up their tracks.


When they hit their next spot, they find that it’s dark and gloomy here. Mander knows they’re being watched. The ambush comes quickly by two Bomu attackers.


Mander gets knocked down, rolls on his back with Rodian on top of him who uses his rifle as a club to hit him on the head. The Rodian gets shot in the back of the head. Expecting to see that Reen or Eddey helped him, Mander is rather surprised to see Angela Krin standing over him.

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chapter 11: Beneath the Smuggler’s Moon:


She tells him she is on detached duty. She started investigating Tempest and convinced her superiors that the trail led to Nar Shadda. She has a contact nearby.


They help Mander through the decay, avoiding Vrblthers that hunt in packs. Along the way, Angela tells them that the crashed ship was a Skydove vessel by virtue of the engine numbers. She doesn’t know that Popara was involved as her contact is insistent that he wasn’t.


The contact is waiting at the Headache Bar. When they arrive, they find Mika the Hutt waiting for them. He tells them that the registration of the ship was hidden behind a couple of false-front companies, but not so difficult to trace if someone dedicated to the search couldn’t have found it pretty easily.


When he returned, he checked his father’s records and found that the ship was reported as lost in a storm two years ago. Someone must have found it and repurposed it without his father’s knowledge. Mander tells him they have some indication that Zonnos has been taking Tempest. While Mika admits that could be true, he doubts his brother would kill their father. Even if he did, he’s not bright enough to do it himself.


Zonnos has put a bounty on their heads, hoping to blame them for Popara’s death so he can establish himself as leader. This transition of power often results in problems for younger siblings which is why Mika has fled here.


Angela can get them off-planet and there is a CSA safehouse nearby. Mika has enough sway to get a ship and a trustworthy pilot if need be. Along the way to the safehouse, they get in a battle with Vrblthers that are attacking a child. During the battle, Mika throws up his hands to ward off a beast and it flies back as if hitting a wall. After they get rid of the creatures, Mika is stunned to see that the child is an Evocii.


Others of his kind are here. The child runs to the adults. While Mander and his friends deal with that, Mika gets a call from H-3PO who warns him that Vago has managed to calm down Zonnos who has called for Mika’s return and for the death of his friends, but he’s still irrational. Vago wants Mika to take a shuttle on standby to the family estates on Nal Hutta and stay there awhile.


Mander asks him if Vago could be working with Zonnos. Mika admits that could be possible. They are a family as well as an organization. Unlike many Hutts, though, Popara took the concerns of his workers seriously. He was demanding, but very generous.


Only two of Popara’s children still live. Though Hutts are long-lived, few die of natural causes. Their birthrate is low anyway. In any event, Popara favored Mika and that created problems with Zonnos. His brother may not be very bright, but he is the heir and he has the appetite of normal Hutts that the Council of Elders will approve of.


Vago has dedicated her life to his father, administrating the business. She’s more loyal to it than Zonnos and has always been kind to Mika. He hates to think that she might be involved.


Mander tells him that it’s safer to accept Angela’s aid, but not responding to Vago might upset her if she’s still on his side. If he’s going to go see her, he should not go alone, though.


At the landing pad, the H-3PO unit meets them and tells them that Zonnos made him lie to them and they should run now. The Wookiees emerge with blasters rifles. The group takes off only to be intercepted by Bomu Rodians.


After the explosion of a thermal detonator causes the ground to fall beneath Mander’s feet, he tries to jump for a darkened catwalk and finds his reach is short. He’s grabbed by the Evocii leader who tells him that sometimes one fights and sometimes one runs.


He finds that Eddey and Angela are being pulled to safety by other Evocii. Two of the Wookiees are guarding the bodies of Mika and Reen.

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chapter 12: Trial and Terror.


Mander knows he could have gotten rid of the detonator and saved both of Reen and Mika.


In the safehouse, they can see the towers of the Anjiliac clan. The Evocii are here with them. Angela tells them she’s found a way off the planet. They can leave before nightfall. Eddey wants to rescue Reen first.


Angela reminds him that he’s more likely to find out about the Tempest if he stays alive. They don’t know that either Mika or Reen are still alive.


As she speaks, Zonnos gets on the holoprojector again and announces that his father’s assassin has been caught. He displays Reen’s image and tells them that she will be executed in two hours. Since there is no mention of her killing Mika, it’s likely that Zonnos’s brother is being held in the tower.


Angela swears she will make Vago pay if something happens to Mika. Mander notes that she seems fine with leaving Reen to her fate but vows vengeance for Mika. She finally agrees to help with the rescue, indicating that she has an aircar at her disposal.


At Reen’s trial, the charges are brought against her. Zonnos appears with his retinue, his veins darkened with Tempest use. She is preparing to escape when the wall blows out behind her.


An aircar blasts through the panels. Mander Zuma gets out with Angela Krin and Eddey Be’ray behind him. Mander holds his lightsaber out and demands that Reen be released.


Zonnos grabs Reen and holds a blaster to her, demanding that Mander surrender or watch her die. So Mander pulls out a blaster and shoots Reen instead.


Zonnos, furious, charges Mander when a lighsaber hits his chest. Mander somersaults forward and grabs the hilt, tearing through Zonnos’ body. The Hutt collapses.


With no one to know who their master is, the entourage is confused. Mika arrives and starts barking orders. He has the prisoner released, announces that he’s learned that Zonnos was responsible for Popara’s death and that Reen and her friends were mere pawns. They will come with him.


He takes them to a hoverbus that will take them to their ship. Mander tells him that he noticed that Mika seemed to have a special talent when fighting the Vrblther. Mike admits that the other Hutt families would not take kindly to him having such a talen in common with Mander.


He would rather no one else know about it. His father knew and Toro Irani did, too. In fact, Toro helped him understand some of it. He finds a lot of it hard to wrap his mind around. He can do children’s tricks, but that’s it.


Besides, he has an organization to restructure. Mander promises to keep his secret.


Mika will give them any information he can get on Vago if she turns up.

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chapter 13: Calculations:


Koax is cursed by the Spice Lord who is unhappy at the continued use of the unreliable Bomu Rodians who have loused up yet another attack. Koax explains that they were just supposed to herd the group into Zonnos’ trap.


Instead, they have the Jedi and CSA on their tails. The Spice Lord decides to use the Bomu differently. Stretch them thin in a number of different directions so they won’t have time to go on their quest for vengeance.


In the meantime, Koax has been a good servant. The Hutt ignites the lightsaber that was provided him. Seeing his face, Koax knows that he would leave her dead if he thinks she’s failed. She cannot let that happen. For a Klatooinian, failing a Hutt is the worst thing of all.


Reen can’t believe Mander shot her. On the Resolute, Reen is being patched up in the medbay. She doesn’t like missing all the fun,especially the death of Zonnos. She doubts the Tempest ends with him.


Since he had someone buying it for him, it means he doesn’t have his own stock. They all agree Zonnos wasn’t smart enough, but Vago was and she hasn’t been seen since the death of Popara.


They are asked to come to Krin’s office where she tells them that she had the spice and the plague examined. Both have a similar organic structure along certain root spines which indicates a connection. The spice is a mutated form of normal spice but has been modified in a way that makes it lethal.


There is hard radiation scarring in the molecules which is found among white dwarves. There are thousands of systems with those but not so many within easy transport of Endregaad. She is going to search for traders operating in dead systems.


She would like Reen and Eddey to provide some insight into the smuggling trade in order to help narrow down the systems. Reen refuses. She argues that the CSA has more than enough resources to find these things out herself. She doesn’t know Reen or Eddey and none of them have to take the risks involved. She’s going down to make sure the Hutts didn’t put a tracking device on New Ambition.


Angela calls after her, telling her that Mander did the right thing by shooting her and eliminating her use as a hostage.


Reen storms out.


Mander follows her down to find out what’s wrong. She repeats that he shot her. Mander knows that already and that it seems to bother her a lot more than it should considering how many times she’s been shot at already. Reen tells him she thought she had him figured out. He talks and works things out before he acts.


Mander tells her that they knew Zonnos well enough by then not to have to think too much. The shooting her part was only intended if he took her hostage. And he did.


She just didn’t expect him to act like a Jedi. Jedi tend to process information quickly and choose the best option to act on. He’s never been very good at that. It wasn’t until Nar Shadda that he knew what he had to do and did it.


Reen admits he’s still her best lead for now. The Bomu clan keeps hunting them which means someone is sending them. Eventually they will find out who doesn’t answer to anyone else. Reen asks why he’s still here. He has the coordinates so Toro’s mission is complete.


Mander wants to end the scourge of Tempest for Toro and for her and for the strange Hutt who lost his family because of it.

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chapter 14: The Trail of the Tempest:


Rolan is the last Bomu member on Makem Te and is feeling it. He’s got no way to get word out and doesn’t know what has happened. As a low-level dealer in Tempest, he has no idea that the Spice Lord has turned away from the planet.


When the spice flow stoped, the customers felt the pain of withdrawal first. It’s not a good position to be in to have ones customers able to regenerate body parts addicted to a spice that makes them violent and know what you look like.


He realizes he’s being watched. Finding a hooded female with blue skin and yellow tattoos. Then he spots another outlander with something heavy hanging from his belt. He runs off, only to find himself at blaster point and a Bothan asking him where he gets his spice.


A human, Pantoran and a Bothan appears on Budpock into the warehouse where Threnda of the Bomu clan runs her operation. They are looking for Tempest spice. She denies knowing anything about it, hoping to drag out the conversation until her backup can arrive.


The Pantoran has already found it. They threaten to destroy it if she doesn’t cooperate. She offers to tell them who she got it from. They already know that, destroy the spice and tell her to send a message that they are going to stop the Tempest trade.


Koax reports to the Spice Lord that the Jedi has been striking their distribution centers, especially those tied to the Bomu clan. The Spice Lord thinks it will be good for business as the shortages will drive up the price.


Koax explains that they are seeing sales drops because local governments are becoming aware of the spice. The Corporate Sector has stopped the trade completely. No one wants to risk getting a visit from the Jedi.


The Spice Lord knows there’s more. Koax admits that the Boma clan is wavering. One of them has already given up the name of a depot runner named Morga Bunna. They might be cutting their losses and could lead the Jedi to the Spice Lord.


Koax is told to go to the Bomu matriarch and assure her that she will be protected.


The Spice Lord is preparing to shut down this operation, knowing that it may cost him Koax. The Bomu have been too exposed by their vendetta and that’s bad business. It’s time to send a message of his own.

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chapter 15: Dealings:


The moon of Bosph is a chunk of rock but it’s a good place for Morgan Bunna to set up a supply depot. He graciously allows the New Ambition to land, knowing who he is meeting with. He tells Mander and the others that he had Tempest here, but got rid of his remaining stock.


He is happy to give them what they need to move on, but he will not allow them to interfere with the rest of his business. He doesn’t have anything else to tell them. His deliveries are blind drops and the schedule changes regularly.


He has had mercenaries dropped in to help him in case of trouble. He wants them to return to their ship now. This is too big for just three people. Mander agrees which is why they brought reinforcements. The Resolute appears.


Bunna calls his mercenaries down, but maintains he still doesn’t know about the Spice Lord. They only want them to tell them where to find the leader of the Bomu Clan. That he can help them with.


Krin confirms they scanned his data drives and there is nothing that can lead them to the Spice Lord. She also got a message from Mika. He tells them his clan is rebuilding and Vago is missing still, but they found an H-3PO unit at the spaceport.


It’s one of Vago’s droids and its memory units are largely scrambled. They have learned that she is meeting with the head of the Bomu clan. He hopes they are interested in checking it out.


They are on Dennogra. This was confirmed by Bunna.


It’s likely a trap. Since the droid was sent to Mika, it might be for him. Eddey asks her to compare another loop of molecules in the plague/Tempest comparison. He wants to see if she can compare it with similar chains and find out its origin.

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chapter 16: The Rodian Matriarch:


Hedu tells Koax that her people’s problem is that the Klatooinians think the Hutts are gods. All the Nikto breeds do. At least, the Rodians serve them for money.


Koax expresses that the Spice Lord wants her to know that she is welcome to seek his protection, but recommends they gather their forces and move out of the watchful eye of the Jedi.


Hedu assures her that Rodians aren’t shackled to the Hutts like Klatooinians. They do not run and hide. She is rattled with the sounds of explosions. When the Jedi and his companions enter the room, the matriarch orders her guard to defend her. She turns to Koax and accepts the Spice Lord’s offer. Koax shoots her.


Koax takes off, the Pantoran behind her.


When the fight is over, there is no sign of Vago. Eddey tells Mander that Reen went after the matriarch. Reen appears to say that she killed herself. They decide to look through the data.


On the way back to the jump point, Reen complains that they found every bit of the data on Tempest that Bomu was involved in, except who the Spice Lord is. She wonders if it’s enough. She thought bringing down Toro’s killers would help.


She’s still mad at him for doing something foolish. She wants to yell at him. Mander would rather just ask him why. For now, they should turn the information over to Krin and keep looking for who’s responsible.


Krin is hailing them now, congratulating them on their work. The survivors of Bomu will probably regroup under a new leader. No Vago, though, which would indicate that it was a trap. Mander isn’t sure it was. Neither the matriarch nor the Klatooinian seemed ready for them.


Eddey thinks the Spice Lord leaked the information hoping they would clean things up a bit. Mander agrees and Krin moves on. She has checked out the chemical strain and found an odd organic loop that shows up in high-gavity zones with black-hole radiation. There can’t be many regions with a black hole and a white dwarf.


Reen remembers Varl, the original Huttworld. It may not be as dead as they thought. Mander asks if Krin checked out Varl. She finds the report and tells him that they had to get permission to follow up with the Hutt Elders and haven’t done that yet. They have been monitoring ship traffic in the system, however, and found that nothing was leaving the planet, but a couple of independent manifests listed as carrying spice but don’t deliver it when they arrive.


Eddley bets that started after the Endregaad plague started and they lost the freight ship, using the coordinates through the Indrexu Spiral. Vago had those coordinates.


Krin thinks that she can get them to Varl.

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chapter 17: Voyage to Varl:


When the Barabi Run comes out of hyperspace above Rhilithan with a load of spice, it runs into the Resolute and the Vigilance waiting. The captain is contacted by Lt. Commander Angela Krin and his ship is escorted into the hangar.


He is told the ship is being confiscated until the CSA no longer needs it, they may not leave the Resolute until that time and will get a receipt.


Reen scans the Barabi Run for tracking devices and bugs before she, Mander and Angela take off for Varl, Eddey behind them in the New Ambition.


Approaching the dead world, they are spotted by a patrol ship which demands approach codes. When they are granted clearance, they scan the planet, finding they’ll need breath masks.


By a diseased green lake, they find a single building where the Tempest may be manufactured. It’s actually a ship that landed and was transformed into a factory. Droids begin unloading the cargo when they land. Krin confirms that questioning the captain and crew of the Barabi indicated that they would land, take off and find payment in their accounts. Only droids were ever seen.


This time, procedure will be different. At the cargo doorway, a protocol droid is standing with a datapad. It’s one of Vago’s droids.

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chapter 18: The Heart of the Tempest:


Reen and Mander wear their hoods while Krin, whom Vago has never seen, goes first. She approaches the droid, demanding to see its boss. Reen blasts the droid when it falters and they go inside.


Along the way, they see the runoff from a nearby crater moving through pipes. The Tempest is made from the dead world itself. There are large droids nearby, heavily armored. Reen asks what they are and Vago tells her they are ancient Hutt war droids.


Two of Poparo’s former handmaidens are with her, dressed in armor, but hanging back behind their mistress. Mander sees that the twi’leks have dark veins indicative of the Tempest.


Vago speaks slowly and tells them to talk first. Mander realizes she’s speaking in Basic. Mander understands Huttese so he doesn’t know why she isn’t speaking it and the Twi’leks translating.


Vago tells them that the hulks were found in the the abandoned weapons cache when the plant was founded. Security droids move out to surround them all. Vago will let them go if they promise to tell no one what they saw. After all, they served Poparo well.


Reen refuses, so Vago tells them they will stay here as guests. Krin suggests it’s more like prisoners. Mander realizes that Vago is a prisoner, too. The Twi’leks attack but aren’t as fast as they hope to be. One grabs Vago with a shock glove.


Reen fires at the other. The first one starts shouting order and the droid come forward. Mander deflects each bolt perfectly until the Twi’lek rams into him. she grabs him by the neck and then is gone, having been yanked back by Reen.


Krin is blasting the droids away, then pulls her blaster to Vago’s head. Mander pushes the weapon away. Krin reminds him that she killed Popara. Mander doesn’t think she did as she was a prisoner under duress. She thinks that Vago is still a threat to Mika.


Mander believes they will need her alive to explain to the Hutt Council of Elders when they get back. He knows who’s really responsible for all of this. He tells her and Reen to get Vago back to the ship and take off.


Krin still doesn’t want to risk keeping Vago alive and puts her weapon back to the Hutt. Mander uses the Jedi Mind Trick to tell her she must protect Vago. Krin starts to repeat his words until she realizes what he’s done. Mander tells her this Is not the first time she’s been hit with a Mind Trick. If she thinks back to when they boarded her ship after leaving Endregaad, she will remember.


Krin realizes what he’s telling her. Mander tells her she has to get Vago to safety now. Reen wants to know what’s going on and Mander explains that Angela was controlled by someone using the Force. He’s going to the bridge where all of this will end.


He moves past hulk droids, through corridors and lifts until the plant grows quiet and he believes that the others are well. He enters the bridge and confronts Mika the Hutt.

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chapter 19: The Spice Lord of Varl:


Mika is alone and asks when Mander figured it out. The Jedi explains that it took until the end because there was still a chance it was Vago or someone else in the household. After he realized that Vago was a hostage, there was no one else bright enough to work this out.


Mika had hoped Zonnos would have been content to run things and let Mika sit in the shadows, but his brother decided to capture him instead and put Reen on trial. He was not going to be executed by his own brother. He arranged for Zonnos’s death, but needed a replacement.


Vago didn’t know at first. Mika had studied his home planet, came here to find the old droids that still guarded the place and found that a supply of normal spice brought by an employee was affected by the air and water of this world. The employee died and the autopsy revealed the Tempest.


His offer to Vago still stands, as it does for Mander and his friends. He tries the Jedi Mind Trick on Mander which almost works, but Mander is able to resist. He suspects Toro taught him that.


Mika wonders if Mander knows what it’s like to feel the Force, see it all around him and not be able to use it. He needed someone to train him. He thought he could control Toro but it didn’t work. The Jedi became addicted and responded badly to the addiction. He took Toro off the board.


Mander knows that Mika used the Force on Angela Krin. Mika was subtle and used small nudges here and there. He asked her to protect him so she came to Nar Shaddaa. She kept him informed on what the CSA knew.


Mander tells him that he came alone so that Mika could not use anymore mind tricks. Mika decides he’ll have to do something else then and calls for an assassin. A third Twi’lek leaps out with Toro’s lightsaber in her hand.


They parry but are too evenly matched. Mika wander where the others are and if Mander thought he could send his friends to safety. He punches a button that sends beams of ion to the ship and destroys it.


Mander quickly knocks out the Twi’lek and turns to Mika who pushes another set of buttons and the ship takes off. He knocks Mander down with an electrospear and tells him it’s over now.

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chapter 20:


Mika quips how surprised he was to learn how many materials are lightsaber-resistant. This one is called phrik, which is extremely rare. He leans into Mander’s hand, crushing the bones. His lightsaber pieces are everywhere. He tosses pieces of the housing at Mika. It distracts the Hutt enough to lessen the weight. Mander rolls the other way.


Mika stalks him, explaining how he’d really wanted the status of having a Jedi on his side. He’d thought he’d just made a mistake with Toro, but he now knows the Jedi just can’t be domesticated.


Mander points out that the base on Varl can be found as easily by others as it was by him. Mika dismisses the inconveniences of simply moving the base.


Mander pulls Toro’s lightsaber to him. He and Mika parry with the saber and the sphere. It’s challenging dealing with another’s weapon, but he comes to grips with it and realizes that, while Toro did give Mika some lessons, he never really pushed the limits. Mika’s style is much like Toro’s. He assumes that Toro didn’t teach him the move that they’d used the last time they’d sparred and is right.


Mika howls with pain as the spear falls to the floor. He uses the Force to push Mander back and pull Toro’s lightsaber to him. Mander gets a kick into the Hutt’s gut before Reen fires a blaster bolt at Mika.


Mander plunges the spear into Mika.


Reen tells him they need to get to the ship now. They managed to sabotage the main drive, but they couldn’t stop it from taking off and cannot reach escape velocity. They are headed toward Varl.


Reen mentions that Vago knew about an escape pod. Mika promises to come quietly if they take him with them. Mander nearly agrees when he realizes that Mika is using the Force to try to influence him. Reen reminds him that they can’t leave the Hutt here. She doesn’t want him to be alone with Mika, but Mander stays behind only to tell Mika that the Jedi are not tools.


They find Angela near the empty pod chamber. Vago had hit her on the head and taken the pod. They will have to try Plan B. Eddey is about seven minutes away. Reen asks him to come in three as the rock they are on will crash soon. Eddey shows up in four, the group boards the ship and holds on. Varl disappears quickly.

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chapter 21: New Management:


The H-3PO doesn’t indicate if it recognizes Mander from before. It announces that Vago will see him now.


Though Nikto guards are there, no Wookiees or Twi’lek servants are visible. Vago comments that his efforts were sufficient. Mander is glad the Hutt patrol ships found the escape pods. The H-3PO translates that the Mighty Vago isn’t sorry she took off so soon because she felt someone ought to survive to bring back the news.


Mander lies and tells Vago that Krin isn’t angry, but is concerned about the Tempest trade. Vago admits that the Council of Elders has been told that some disreputable individuals landed on the homeworld. They are revising security measures. The Tempest trade is over. The few that know about are irrelevant. Everyone else is dead.


Vago will not do anything that will impugn on the memory of Popara. As for the addicts, there will be other spices that will do the basic job that Tempest did. It just won’t be as damaging. Mander mentions that she is facing a challenge with the loss of her clan’s leader and his two heirs. She certainly doesn’t need an investigation into this.


Vago understands very well. She offers aid to the addicts’ recovering and a promise that the Tempest will not be revived. With that, they both agree there’s no need for any further business.


Mander returns to the ship. Krin isn’t there. Reen explains she’s keeping herself busy, trying to come to terms with having found that she was a puppet. She doesn’t much trust Hutts anymore. Mander suspects she doesn’t trust Jedi either.


Reen did salvage Toro’s lightsaber, though. Mander holds it for a moment. She asks how it feels. He admits it feels good.

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The End

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