The group flies back to the Crusader through the treacherous asteroid field in low spirits after the separation from the Captain. Even before hearing the news about the Captain the crew is in a state of alarm. Rish informs them that Orion, their Sith prisoner, has escaped, killing the officer captured with him, the mercenaries guarding him, and seriously injuring Melina. He left a swatch of destruction as he stole one of the Crusader’s fighters and sped away. Of course, as soon as she finishes telling the group this, she promptly freaks out about the Captain being missing. The group explains how things went wrong (including a phrase about Rune’s definition of stealth is not so stealthy) as quickly as possible, relating to Rish the Captain’s orders to blast the pirate asteroid base away. Rish takes command, rather strict command, and orders the ship through the asteroid field to the hideout as quickly as possible, even allowing the ship to just smash through asteroids along the way. Not needed during this race to the hideout, Rudi goes to see Randi and once again the two go at it. Once the Crusader reaches the coordinates, they follow through and blast the hideout into millions of tiny pieces. Kol reaches out with the Force, hoping to get the sense that the Captain had not been on the asteroid hideout when they blasted it. He does sense Captain Forma there, though he does sense Orion heading towards Nickel 1 and two powerful dark siders. He reassures Rish that he is sure Captain Forma wasn’t on the asteroid when it blew up.
While Mace and Kitt were able to find out the where the pirates have run off to, the problem becomes that there isn’t a way to get through the intense heat of Metalorn’s atmosphere. With no other option, Rish orders the Crusader back to Nickel 1 so the party can speak with Ked’Ix for a possible solution. Since it will take some time to get back to Nickel 1, Kol, Rune and Rudi (apparently having had enough sex for the time being), decide to go see how Melina is while Kitt decides to investigate Orion’s break out.
Bedridden, Melina looks tired but stable. The Jedi are all concerned about her injuries, asking her if she is truly alright and what had happened. She relates to them as much of the story as she can, but finds the events very troubling and her injuries as a failure of her abilities. Rudi wants to press Melina to reveal more about the exact order of the events, even suggesting using her farseeing ability to see more of what happened. Kol and Rune balk at the idea, asserting that Melina needs rest. Frustrated with their apparent lack of initiative, Rudi leaves. Soon after Rune decides to leave as well, wanting to conduct his own investigation, leaving just Kol to comfort Melina. They continue to talk for a little while, Melina voicing her disappointment in herself for letting Orion escape, remarking it as a failure as a Jedi on her part. Kol reassures her that she did everything that she could and shouldn’t feel like a failure for that. His words do seem to ease Melina’s anxiety, and Kol tells her to get some rest.
The first place Kitt decides to check out is the exact place where Orion broke out. She is able to discern that the key code for his door was used to get him out of his room, while he sliced through the officer’s door to behead him. This seems strange, and raises questions about how Orion got a hold of a lightsaber in the first place, and how could he let himself out. Kitt’s investigation is interrupted by Rudi, who storms up to her talking about stuff Jedi sentiments keeping them from getting business done. He mimics Kol and Rune’s disagreement with Rudi’s pressing Melina on what happened with his hands to which a confused Kitt can only reply, “Jedi hand puppet theater?”
Once he explains things more thoroughly, Kitt agrees that sometimes you have to recount unpleasant things to get the job done and the two decide to work together to figure out how Orion escaped. They follow the trail of burns with the lightsaber and follow it first to the hanger, where Snibit recounts for them that he and T5 saw Orion jump into a fighter and speed away, and then to engineering. They speak with an engineer there, who recounts the story of another unfortunate technician that was found in a store room without his head. After some further questioning, it seems that the poor man had died from a strike with a lightsaber. Rudi and Kitt wonder why a lightsaber had been stored there, until they remember the Zabrak Sith they all fought when they met in orbit around Anaxes. As frustrating as it is that the lightsaber had ended up there and unattended, the important question of how it got to Orion remains. Rudi is more convinced than ever the need to ask Melina to use her farseeing abilities to go back to the incident from the beginning.
Rune, however, decides to take a different path to investigate Orion’s break out. He goes to visit Raek, and asks him everything he knows of Orion’s escape. Raek seems confused to be asked about the situation and can’t provide Rune with anything other than Orion going to the hanger and taking one of the squadron’s fighters. Without anything else to be gleaned, Rune decides to move onto his next idea.
Whatever his idea is, however, has to be put on hold as the party returns to Nickel 1. They meet with Ked’Ix, who is dismayed that things aren’t going well and his heat shield is still in the grasp of the pirates. The party informs him of their hideout on Metalorn and asks for any sort of prototype heat shield that could get them through the atmosphere to get his work back. All of his prototype work was stolen by the pirates, Ked’Ix reiterates, leaving him with a questionable proto-prototype. There is no way for him to give it to them, though; as it is the property of the company he works for. That is, unless, Ked’Ix just happens to turn his back at the wrong time, he suggests. If the proto-prototype went missing, but he got all of his original research back, what real harm would be done in the end? Picking up on the suggestion he is giving them, the party pick up the proto-prototype and hustle back to the Crusader.
Time is of the essence now, and Rish orders all technicians on the Crusader to work on installing the proto-prototype heat shield onto one of their shuttles. She impresses upon them just how little time they have, as the trip to Metalorn is not a long one. They get to work at a furious pace, desperate to figure out a way to make it work.
Left to his own devices again, Rune picks up his investigation where he left off. Amazingly, he ends up retracing the steps that Kitt and Rudi had taken, leading him to speak with the very same technician. He is unable to pick up anything new that they hadn’t found out, but still has a strong idea of where to go next.
Rudi, continuing his investigation, goes to visit Melina. She seems to be in better spirits than earlier, and with his gift for speech, Rudi makes a persuasive argument for her to use her farseeing to truly know how the lightsaber got to Orion. Though hesitant, Melina does eventually agree and relates to him what she sees. It seemed that the lightsaber traveled through the hallway, not carried by any hand, but guided by the Force. She sees it causing scorch marks on the walls and heading up to the guards outside of Orion’s room. Her vision ends, and Melina becomes exhausted. While it doesn’t answer how Orion even knew there was an unattended lightsaber on the ship, it does seem to answer how it got to him. Rudi thanks her and goes to leave, bumping right into Kol who was coming to check up on Melina. He sees that she looks emotionally and physically exhausted. This causes some worry with Kol, making him wonder just what Rudi had been doing with her.
Surprisingly, Rune pays a visit to Don Jannik. Don is extremely pleased to see him, though, and says he’s up for whatever the Jedi has in mind. Rune tells him he wants them to pay a visit to Randi, which sounds like fun to Don. When Rune adds that the Rodian should take his rifle with him, this sounds confusing but Don agrees anyway. The two head over to the morale officer’s room, and lucky for them Randi happens to be in. Rune asks to come in for a talk, and Don is excited to come along, but is told by Rune to wait outside. Baffled, Don waits out in the hall, muttering that he thought he was supposed to go in there with him.
Rune seems convinced that Randi had a part in Orion’s escape and does his best to get her to admit to it, bringing up the mercenaries that she had been seen with were the ones that ended up killed in the break out. Randi dismisses this as important; after all she is the morale officer, and keeping their spirits up is part of her job. This doesn’t deter Rune, though, and he presses Randi to admit to something, even using Rudi sleeping with Danni on Contruum as bait to make her angry. Indeed it does, but it doesn’t cause her to say anything other than for Rune to get out of her room. She in fact forces him out, now incensed about Rudi’s tomcatting.
Of course, as she forces Rune out is when Rudi decides to drop by for a visit. Pissed off, Randi just shuts her door and locks it, not answering to Rudi’s calls. He immediately suspects this sudden turn in attitude is due to in some part to Rune, and presses his fellow Jedi about it. Rune admits to nothing except that he talked to Randi about a few things, while Don stands by confused by all of it. Feeling that Rune is being dishonest, Rudi uses his Jedi Mind Trick to force answers out of him, telling Rune to tell him “Everything he talked about with Randi.” Compelled, Rune spills about pursuing the line of questioning to pin Randi for Orion’s escape and telling her about Rudi’s good times with Danni. Considering it as a betrayal of trust, Rudi calls Rune out about it all, though he remains steady in the belief that he did the right thing questioning Randi. The both of them continue to argue.
Having worked for a day straight, the technicians find themselves at their wits end with the heat shield. Attaching it to the shuttle and assuring its durability against the heat of Metalorn’s atmosphere just seem to be escaping them, and most decide to take a few hours off for sleep. In the end, even Kitt decides to get a bit of rest. Snibit tells Kitt that he plans to work a little while longer on the shield and is let on his own to work.
Morning (well, y’know, morning-ish) comes and Kitt finds herself running into Kol in the cafeteria, grabbing some breakfast. She joins him and the two catch up on what they’ve been doing on the ship, though the conversation does eventually turn to Kitt explaining to Kol that Rish’s cold shoulder to him is due to her infatuation with him. Kroder jumps in on that, laughing jovially about it and all the attention Kol gets from the lady folk. This leads into conversation about relationships in general, Kitt asserting to Kol that being really nice to women tends to give them the signal that they’re ‘special’ to him and causes confusion when they see him being nice to other girls. He wonders about being able to have a relationship with his kind of life, though Kitt tells him he can as long as he finds a woman with a similar lifestyle. She goes on to say that it’s hard to really know people sometimes. Why, you could even know them, and be deeply involved in someone’s life for years and see the person slip away. It is unclear whether Kitt is referring to any personal experience or just more of her general philosophy in life, but Kol doesn’t push to find out just taking her advice as it stands.
Their conversation is interrupted by Snibit, who drags himself over to their table exhausted from lack of sleep. He mutters to Kitt that he fixed the shield, explaining that he had to change the basic idea to make it work (and that it should be all set) but that it could still fail if pushed too hard before collapsing next to his breakfast. Kitt does her best to make him comfortable, but is unable to heap the praise on him that he deserves for his technical genius. Only moments later she and Kol are forced to leave him asleep with Kroder, called by Rish to get ready to leave now that the shield is ready.
Kol and Kitt meet up with Rudi, Rune, Mace and Rish in the hangar. She briefly tells them that finishing the mission is of utmost importance but adds, with her stern demeanor, that they better come back with the Captain “or don’t come back at all.” Her meaning is loud and clear to the party, and they prepare for departure, with Kitt in the pilot’s seat.
Metalorn’s scorching atmosphere is everything it has been advertised to be, but Snibit’s modifications on the heat shield do initially keep everything together. This doesn’t last long, though, as violent turbulence gives Kitt’s piloting skills a lot of trouble, and Mace’s technical expertise pushes the heat shield as far as it can go. They both push the shuttle to its limits, but it doesn’t seem to be doing them much good. Kitt tells them, “We’re having trouble with everything, so we’re experiencing some slight turbulence and then…explode.” Rudi replies, “I don’t want to explode.” He tries to think of ways to keep the shuttle together with the Force, but can’t really think of anything without the shuttle getting clear of the searing atmosphere. Rune attempts to assist Kitt’s piloting, and does his best to aid her. Kol doesn’t seem to hear any of this, sleeping through the conversation and turbulence. He only seems to wake up when the heat begins to seep into the shuttle, bringing the temperature around them up, and even then only thinks of perhaps using the heat around the shuttle to fry eggs. It takes some amount of luck and skill, but Kitt and Mace manage to squeeze enough life out of the shuttle to survive the flight through the atmosphere but as soon as they’re clear of the intense heat every system in the shuttle shuts down.
They’re effectively crashing to the ground.
“Ground sure is rushing up to meet us,” Kitt remarks as the tries without success to resuscitate the shuttle’s systems.
Now clear of the heated atmosphere, Rudi is able to put his telekinetic skills to good use and manages to slow down the shuttle so that what was becoming a fatal crash turns into the non-fatal variety. He guides the shuttle down, and it comes to a bumpy stop in the thick jungles of Metalorn. Enjoying the food he fried in the heated shuttle, Kol remains cheerfully laid back about the entire ordeal. After a little inspection, Kitt and Mace come to the conclusion that, for lack of a better term, the shuttle has carked it and won’t be flying again anytime soon. They’ll have to find some other way to get off-planet now. Their more pressing matter becomes finding the pirate’s hideout through the overgrown jungle.
To that end, Kitt ends up using her tracking experience to good use and finds them a trail through the foliage. Things progress well for a while, until the party runs afoul of an angry (or perhaps hungry) creature that immediately attacks them. A fight ensues, with the group’s combined efforts quickly overcoming the rampaging animal. To avoid attracting any more attention, they move on through their forged path, soon finding themselves at the outskirts of the pirate’s hideout they were seeking.
Several pirates are easy to spot through the leaves and brush of the jungle as they patrol around the perimeter. The group discusses (argue might be a better word) the best tactic to fight against them, some wanting to use the element of surprise to take them out with stealth almost one by one. Of course, that plan doesn’t work to straightforward fighting Rune’s style of combat and recent failure at stealth. This ‘discussion’ ruins the true element of surprise, catching the ear of one of the nearby pirates. As he goes to investigate the noise, Kitt steps forward, takes aim and fires with her rifle. Her aim is true, so true that the pirate falls to the ground dead in one shot. It appears that they still might have a chance to strike from the shadows, and to that end Kitt and Mace quietly make their way to the corner of the closest building. While their footfalls might have been silent, they immediately find that the other pirates nearby are closing in and the quiet tactic is officially out the window. Violence is most imminent.
Pirates swarm towards the group, even the big fella himself Bak is among them, leading his band against the party alongside his lieutenant. Rudi considers them to be the biggest threats, and concentrates his efforts on them, aided by Rune’s lightsaber skills and Mace’s shooting. Kol speeds away from them, towards a few pirates farther away, and engages in combat with them. While his attention is on one pirate in front of him, another attempts to cut him down. The pirate finds that it won’t be so easy, as Kitt picks at him and the other pirates Kol is fighting at from a distance, once again having Kol’s back in a fight.
Bak and his lieutenant are proving to be tougher than Rudi had anticipated, and neither one will go down without a vigorous fight. Mace is doing his best, shooting down the other pirates around them, while Rune attracts some attention away from Mace and Rudi with his up close fighting. Falling back on what he feels he does best, Rudi attempts to mind trick Bak into getting him and his men to surrender, but the effect is momentary if anything. The pirates Mace is fighting finally get the better of him, and the poor technician falls unconscious to the ground. Vexed at his failed technique and Mace’s predicament, Rudi calls on his other favorite tactic by hurling a heavy object at the pirate with his telekinesis. When the strike finds its mark, and causes quite a bit of damage, Rudi feels a sense of pride. Ah, but anger and pride with the Force tend to cause a bit of a Dark Side hubbub, and while Rune is distracted in the fight, he feels the presence around Rudi nonetheless. The two continue to work together to finish off Bak, his lieutenant and the rest of the pirates.
It was hard fought, but the battle is won and Rudi quickly uses his talents to help Mace regain consciousness. They patch him up as best they can and decide to set to work exploring the rest of hideout to recover Ked’Ix’s plans, anything else Bak’s men had been hiding, and Captain Forma. First they check out one building that turns out to be a computer room. Kitt sets straight to work recovering everything she can while the others decide to check out the large building across the way. This one turns out to be a warehouse full of the pirates’ ill-gotten gain. Looking around some more, the fellas see a shuttle that could perhaps be where the Captain was hiding out or a suitable transport off Metalorn while Kitt continues to download Ked’Ix’s plans onto her datapad. As the fellas approach the shuttle there is a sudden explosion, catching Rune and Mace in the strange blast. Two dark figures emerge, a broad shouldered one wielding a unique blaster, the smaller one brandishing a red lightsaber. Suddenly the two dark side figures that Kol had sensed recently are of immediate importance. One of them commands, “Capture the woman, kill the others.”
The sound of the blast and the menacing order catch Kitt’s attention and she rushes to finish her computer hackery before running out to find herself in a middle of a desperate fight against these Sith assassins. One of them turns his attention to Kol, instilling in him an overwhelming sense of fear. With no hesitation, Kol turns around and races away from the fight, disappearing from view into the jungle. Mace does his best to shoot at the two tricky bastards, but finds himself unable to get a bead on them. Rune does his up close and personal fighting, but is still at less than full strength after the last fight. Though he fights hard, he eventually rolls with one hit too many, and collapses to the ground unconscious. Kitt tries to distract the assassins, calling for them to come and get her, but it only garners a grin and an assurance that they most definitely will.
Rudi once again uses the talents that work best for him, and turns the mind tricks back onto the Sith. He instills the same overwhelming fear, enough to make the smaller assassin turn tail and run from him and the fight. This evens the odds a little, but not a whole lot when the larger assassin (apparently a Dashade) proves to be pretty damn strong. Kitt blasts away at him with her rifle while Rudi yanks the assassin’s blaster right from his hand with such accuracy that he feels the Force gathering stronger within him once again. Being sans blaster doesn’t bother the Dashade, since he switches without hesitation to his red lightsaber. With renewed strength with the Force, Rudi mind tricks the Dashade into kneeling before him. This gives Kitt enough time to grab the assassin’s lightsaber, but the surrendering is short lived. Kitt aims a powerful shot at the assassin but his laughter shows them that the blast only provided healing to him rather than damage. Victory seems to be slipping away with every trick the assassin turns around on them, and their resources are dwindling…
A shot hits the Dashade assassin square in the back. The three of them turn to see Captain Forma, standing near the shuttle with his blaster at the ready!
“Stay the hell away from my crew,” he says.
The assassin runs off, disappearing into the jungle, ending the fight for now.