Time passes as the Crusader makes it way for Belnar. Kitt continues acting as tour guide for the Jedi, and they are soon acquainted with the various members of the crew, including the Bothan hotshot fighter pilot Raek Yrklar. Meeting him sparks an interest in piloting for Kol, who mentions he’d be willing to learn if he is ever required to pilot. Randi introduces herself to Rudi, who takes an interest in her and her innuendos.
Mace Endac, the human head technician aboard the Crusader, stops by Rune’s room to fix a broken panel. He is an older black man, who is often found muttering that he is, “Too old for this shit.” The two have a brief conversation where a misunderstanding of words turns into Mace believing the Jedi way quite different than he previously believed. He leaves very quickly, constantly repeating, “I respect you, and your choice of lifestyle!” Rune does not understand the sudden change in behavior.
Snibit drops by Kol’s room, holding out the last piece of Dantooese cheese for him as a gift. Kol accepts the gift on the condition that he share it with Snibit. The two enjoy the cheese together as they once again pick up their conversation about Kol’s travels with his Master and how it taught him to appreciate the fine foods in life.
There is a knock on Rudi’s door, which immediately opens to reveal Randi. She leans against the doorframe, a sultry smile across her face. Rudi remains standing in place in his room.
“Space travel is always so boring,” she mentions.
“Yes, it is.”
She saunters into the room, the door sliding shut behind her as the two get to ‘know’ each other better.
“You look exhausted, Rudi.”
Rudi sits down in the cafeteria the next day, his Jedi companions remarking on his tired expression. “I need caf. A lot of it,” he replies.
As the group eat their breakfast there is no other mention of Rudi’s activities of the previous night, and soon they realize that the ship has dropped out of hyperspace. The Crusader has arrived at Belnar. They are then summoned to the war room for the more detailed briefing the Captain had mentioned days before.
Waiting for the group when they arrive is the Captain, the 1st mate, a female Zabrak named Rish Toth, and a Khil pilot named Geldar Dron. Belnar is the homeplanet of Geldar and the Khil, a place of many dark marshes and several great cities with unique architecture. The mission is to procure parts for the Crusader that have been damaged or broken in the battle outside Anaxes. Rudi, who has a reputation as a great negotiator, is given the task of helping to get the best price for the parts. Captain Forma informs them that Rish will be going with them to oversee the mission, along with Geldar as an expert on his homeplanet, and Kitt who can inspect the list of parts needed.
As they all file out of the war room, the Captain requests a word with Kitt. He tells Kitt that he wants her to continue accompanying the Jedi on their missions, and that there’s a specific reason for it. As a Journeyman Protector and bounty hunter, Kitt has experience with difficult situations and can maintain a somewhat objective viewpoint. Someone needs to keep an eye on the Jedi, Captain Forma explains, someone who answers directly to the Captain. Kitt is to spend time with the Jedi, befriend them, but not be too friendly, and always keep an eye on any suspicious behavior. He wants to make sure that the Jedi continue to serve the Crusader first and foremost and that none “go Sith” on them, as that has been known to happen on many occasions. Kitt accepts this task, and leaves to join the others.
The group head for the shuttle and leave immediately with Geldar piloting. He talks about how long it has been since he was last on Belnar, though his home city is on the other side of the planet. The Khil were among the earliest member species of the Republic, though they consider themselves to be “citizens of the galaxy.” Geldar talks about how his species is a hard working, dedicated and ambitious people, who will probably be shrewd negotiators when it comes to acquiring the parts for the ship. Rish remains business oriented to a fault, establishing that she is the commander of this mission.
The shuttle lands in the docking bay safely, and the fees are paid to Officer Ytho who was on duty, Rudi convincing him to a smaller fee with his adept negotiating skills. They are escorted into a meeting room where they are introduced to the administrator, Administrator Thulak and his assistant, Ghatan. Ghatan offers them all drinks, bright and fruity juice variety as Geldar mentions some of the local events going on that day, most notable an outdoor concert of some wonderful Khil musicians. He hopes that they can take in the sights while they’re on planet, Kol agreeing that it would be an interesting time, while Rish declares the mission comes first and foremost. There will be little time for gallivanting around as far as she is concerned. Thulak looks over the list of parts and calculates a fair price. When Thulak announces how much it will all cost, Rudi went to work in convincing him to lower it, promising to aid them in new trade deals in the future. They are eventually able to come to an agreement on the pricing, and Thulak tells them it’ll take some time before the parts are ready. In the meantime, they are welcome to take in the sights of the city, much to the delight of Geldar and Kol. Grumbling a little, Rish agrees that they now have enough time and that it will be fine to attend the concert.
Strange but beautiful architecture greets the group as they walk through the city; the streets busy with Khil all heading to their destinations with deliberate speed. They arrive at the outdoor concert and enjoy the melodious sounds of the Khil band. Geldar talks about how important music and singing is to him and that singing is quite often a bonding experience. When the concert is over, he convinces Rish and the others to stop for a drink at a local cantina.
Geldar immediately spots a stage in the cantina, a perfect place to sing to the latest songs. While Rish and Rudi sit and drink, the others are convinced by Geldar to take the stage and sing a few songs. As they are singing Kitt notices a man in the cantina staring at her quite intently. When the song is finished, Kitt heads off stage towards him, but the man runs off, eliciting more suspicion on her part. When she brings it up to Rish and the others, she gets a disinterested response.
“What, don’t men sometimes look at you?” Kol asks.
“You were all singing so loud I’m not surprised someone noticed,” Rudi adds.
Kitt shakes her head. “I can tell the difference between ogling and suspicious staring, especially when the fella buggers off.”
Rish says they’ll keep a close eye out, but there is nothing else to be done about the matter. After another round of drinks Geldar suggests they take in the beauty of the local park. There is enough time left, so the group heads over there.
The park is a peaceful place, and Geldar talks about how they work to still preserve the nature of their planet while still making progress with their cities. A few Khil stroll through the park, also enjoying its peacefulness. But this is all broken within a few minutes as something, or two somethings, come charging through the vegetation. Two creatures thrash around, attacking an innocent bystander and attacking the party. With a flash of lightsabers, the bright blast of Rish and Kitt’s blaster rifles, and the efficient commanding of Rish, both creature fall before they can do anymore damage. Speeder bikes are heard in the distance, someone watching the ensuing fight, but they take off before Rudi can do anything about them. Geldar asserts that the creatures, swamp wampas, are not native to Belnar; they were imported to attack the party.
They rush back to the spaceport, knowing they have to report the incident to the authorities and the Captain, and that they should leave as soon as possible. But their progress is halted as they realize that the blast doors to the docking bay where their shuttle is held is locked and Officer Ytho is nowhere to be seen. They open the door to the meeting room to find the assistant Ghatan has been killed, and when Rune looks out the window, he spots several Sith troopers waiting in the docking bay. There is definite trouble ahead.
Kitt heads for the control room across the hall and finds the door locked so she goes to the task of opening it. After giving the window a glance, Rune resolves the best way to fight the Sith is to crash through it. He takes several steps back and goes into a run, jumping shoulder first into it. There’s a crack and a thud as Rune hits the permaglass window and a distinct screeching sound as he slides down to the floor. While his attempt almost broke the window in one shot, it was just not enough, and Rune had to resort to his lightsaber to finish the job. Unfortunately, his antics have gotten the attention of the Sith troopers, and as he leaps through the now broken window they let loose with blaster fire.
At first Rudi and Kol wait in the hallway, assuming that the door Kitt is breaking into is the one for the docking bay. When she assures them that she is attempting to get into the control room, they both go to follow Rune out the window as Rish fires from the side, using her leadership skills to bolster the Jedi once again. A battle commences, Rune shrugging of the blaster fire of many of the Sith troopers, taking a few out before he turns his attention to the most dangerous of the group, a man with a red lightsaber. Rudi uses his talent with telekinesis to not only slam several troopers into the swamp surrounding the landing pad, but to hurl a large crate at the man with the lightsaber. Rish continues to take shots at the soldiers as Kol heads to the other side of the platform to deal with the apparent commander and several other troops.
Kitt finally breaks into the control room and goes to the task of breaking into its security system. She is temporarily frozen out, and as she attempts to improve her access, the commander and two of his troops come in through the side door and commence firing on her. Their aim is less than stellar, though, and they all miss.
Rune and Rudi team up against the man with the lightsaber, Rune fighting him with a few deft strikes from his lightsaber, though a few of his strikes miss their mark. Rish mops up the rest of the troopers and goes to assist the Jedi. Rudi uses his command of the Force to pull the lightsaber away from the Sith, crushing it into a hunk of metal. With no combat options left to him, the man puts his hands up.
“I surrender,” he says to the surprise to all.
Rudi’s hand lingers on his own lightsaber for a moment. The moment passes and he turns it off. Rune is shocked by the turn of events, but accepts the man’s surrender. Rish throws him a pair of binder cuffs, pleased by how the battle has turned out.
“Well, Sith hunter, it looks like you’ve caught one.”
Inside the control room, Kitt dispatches one of the troopers and sets her sights on the commander. As the two trade blaster bolts there’s a familiar humming sound from behind the commander.
“Can’t we work this out? Oh no, oh no, there’s a Jedi behind me, isn’t there?!”
“Matter of fact, there is” Kitt replies.
There is an intense moment as the commander surrenders, but his remaining trooper still clings to his blaster. Kitt keeps her rifle leveled at the trooper as Kol reiterates that the commander has surrendered. The trooper takes one last shot at Kitt, misses, and takes off into the hallway.
Geldar sees the trooper taking off down the hallway, as does Rudi who had stepped inside the building a moment before. He moves to stop the trooper, but Geldar is faster. Taking aim, the pilot shoots, and the trooper falls to the ground.
All troopers and threats taken care of for the moment, the group gathers together, ready to ask a few questions of their new prisoners. When interrogated, the Sith man and the commander reveal their plan to them, how they beat them to Belnar since their hyperdrive had been damaged in the fight and their devious plans for the Crusader. Their shuttle was rigged with explosives that would be triggered at just the right time. The Sith would then take control of the Crusader, using it sneak into Republic space. A Sith interdictor cruiser was now waiting on the other side of the planet. Rudi tells Kitt to check out the explosives in the shuttle.
“Can you deactivate them?” he asks.
“If we all blow up you can take that as a ‘no,’” she replies.
As luck would have it, though, the explosives were not armed yet. One question later and the Sith commander produces the remote trigger for them. The disastrous situation averted, Rish gets on the communicator to relay the information to the Captain, brushing off Kol’s request to talk to Melina telling him it was, “not the time for a Jedi love connection.” Ordered to bring the prisoners and the parts back to the ship by the Captain, Geldar pilots the shuttle off of Belnar and back to the Crusader.