Zhellday, 1/6/0 ABY
I hadn’t had the “pleasure” of visiting Rodia before. I’m not really a fan of jungle worlds to begin with and after the heat and humidity hit I was anxious to make our stay a short one. We were looking for information on the Black Wing and decided to split up to see what we could find out. I thought that if some fringer on Tattooine had heard the story about the Wing’s last flight, maybe some old spacers closer to home might have heard the same thing with a few more details thrown in. Turns out I was right. Zero and I bought a few rounds in the sorts of places off limits to Krom and me back in our Imperial Navy days and we dug up an old fossil of a navigator who said we might have some luck across the planet at an Old Republic base-cum-junkyard.
Krom and Keena went highbrow, pretending to be researchers looking into the Black Wing legend while they dug through one of the local university libraries. I thought this would be a waste of time since Krom had already done a HoloNet search, but they managed to get a few tidbits from some book jockey and they matched our Old Republic base lead. So we were back to the Valencia again for what I thought was likely a lengthy (and unprofitable) Lofquarian gooney bird chase.
We found the base without much trouble, but from the air there wasn't much to see. I set the Valencia down without a bump (of course) on an ancient plasticrete landing pad and we headed down the boarding ramp to take a look around. A few food vendors selling hot caf and mystery meat, a repair hanger that looked in need of repairs itself and a mess of junk dealers was all that was in sight. Nothing that screamed "secret pre-Republic research installation" to me. And from the hard stares we got from the locals (not to mention heavy blaster mounts on most of the buildings) I figured we might want to get in and out quickly.
For some reason Krom and Keena decided to keep up their researchers act and talk to yokels in the repair hanger. I figured any actual researchers that showed up here would be mugged in a nanosecond, but Zero grunted something about wanting to poke around in the junk heaps and went in with them so I thought they'd be safe enough. I volunteered to keep an eye on the Val and kept the other one on our unfriendly surroundings. Didn't look like they had climate control in the hangar anyway.
Krom and Keena said the Rodian mechanics weren't much help, although Zero got a line on a nucleonic spatial capacitor that could boost the gain on our sensor array. I thought it would be a bad idea going into a nebula blind, and since our mystery dreadnought had supposedly passed through one, an upgrade like this might come in handy. We were huddling at the boarding ramp considering our next move when someone noticed that all of the buildings around us seemed newer—only the landing pad itself was dated enough to have been around when the Black Wing was flying. As that thought was going through our minds I noticed a few drain hatches leading down under the pad – probably to handle all the rain on this forsaken jungle planet.
And the next thing I know Krom and Zero are all about going down into the sewers to poke around. I got my share of crap duties when I was flying for the Navy, but no one ever ordered me into a jungle planet sewer. But then Krom gave me "that look" and I somehow ended up in a dark plasticrete tunnel ankle deep in some liquid I was trying hard not to think about. At least I had the good sense to grab a few torches from the Valencia.
We followed the sewer tunnel for a bit until Zero came to a rusted-out security door. The lock was completely jammed but the door was still sturdy enough to hold when the Trandoshan put his beefy shoulder into it. Trust my flight engineer to come up with a way to get through – Krom pulled out his magnocaliper and removed the hinges. Open sesame. We found some sort of research complex on the other side. The rooms had been cleaned out, and I thought it might be another dead end until we got to what looked like a control room from a few bootleg historical holovids I'd seen about the Old Republic. Krom and Zero started technobabbling to each other and poking around in the electronics. I was more worried about what was behind us – a pitch black sewer that was giving me a bad feeling.
Krom had found himself an access hatch underneath a century-old computer and had squirmed his way to an adjacent room while Keena and I kept our eyes (and blasters) on the door. Turns out I was right to be worried. Keena was shining her light into the corridor when suddenly two wall-crawling alligators jumped out at us, all teeth and fury and yellow, reptilian eyes. I yelled for Zero to get over to help and ducked back behind the door frame after putting a few shots into one of the creature's scaly hides. Keena was blasting away at the other one (and actually hitting the bad guys for a change) but the creatures moved so quickly they were able to get in a few bites of their own.
Keena and Zero were able to take down one of the beasts with a combination of blaster shots and hits from Zero's shock gloves, and the other must've decided that discretion was the better part of valor and hightailed it back into the tunnel just as I was lining up another shot. We figured that might scare them off for a while but Zero propped the security door back in place just in case.
Krom had missed all the excitement down in his hole, but it turned out he found some sort of data storage device from the mainframe. He said it was pretty hard to remove and I'll take his word for it. My expertise with computers is limited to HoloNet searches and keeping the Val's navicomputer from sending us through a black hole but I've seen Krom patch up a Lambda-class fire control comp mid-battle without breaking a sweat. Although come to think of it, I'm not sure if Mirialans can sweat.
He also found a ventilation shaft and thought it might be worth checking out. First it's sewers and now the climate control ducts. I'm not sure when we turned into tunnel womp rats and I was having none of it. But Krom and Keena actually seemed excited to be crawling through pitch black ducts they barely fit through. Zero begged off, claiming he wouldn't fit, but I think he probably agreed with me.
I kept an eye out for more of the alligators but I guess they had enough of eating blaster bolts for a while and a few minutes later Keena came over the commlink saying they had found something interesting and were heading back. Interesting turned out to be another fortune hunter (this one deceased courtesy of our friendly neighborhood wall-crawling alligators), his datapad and a serviceable late model BlasTech ML-44 that I thought might be handy to have in case more critters crashed our party.
Krom said he had found another series of rooms and we had a brief discussion about whether we should poke around a bit more, but with the storage device and datapad in hand, and the fringers upstairs giving us the stink eye, we decided to call it a day. A day of stomping through jungle sewers, getting bit by spider lizards, and probably catching the Force-knows-what diseases. Sometimes I miss the Navy. Well, not really.
The datapad turned out to be a goldmine – apparently our "competition" had discovered a few more tidbits of information about the Black Wing, including the captain's name and an the real prize – a naval architect's schematic of the dreadnought. The data store was a bit more difficult to crack – Krom gave it his best but wasn't able to pull much off of it before it sparked and made noises that I take from his reaction weren't good.
Looking over the Black Wing's flight plan (and despite our feeble cash balance), we thought that an upgraded sensor package might come in handy. Keena had proven herself handy with bargaining once before – heck, it's the only reason she was along for the ride – so she and the others went back to the hangar to try and work us a deal. From what Krom told me, it didn't go so well. Turns out that the junker had worked for a Hutt at one point, the sort of Hutt who might have owned a teenage Twi'lek waitress-turned-fugitive like Keena. In fact, that exact Hutt. And although we got the parts we needed, everyone got the distinct impression that the junker was going to drop a credit on us with Keena's former owner as soon as we hit orbit. If we didn't already have to keep under the radar enough with our sliced IDs now we have some Hutt looking for the Valencia and not enough credits for a good transponder hack. This deal is getting worse by the minute.
After dustoff and a badly needed sonic shower, we were back in the black, me at the controls, Keena in the right seat working out a hyperspace plot, and all of us on the trail of this supposed invisible treasure ship. Hopefully the blasted thing is out there and we can salvage enough to keep us moving and off the grid for a while. But I'm not sure we are that lucky.