"And in local system news, owner of the Flaming Pipe bar, Jaekin Morel, was found dead early this morning by one of the bar's employees. Morel, suspected of criminal activity by Acheron authorities, had been shot in the head with a blaster, execution-style. Law enforcement officials declined to speculate on any current leads they may have at this time…"
Mrrowl switched off the holonet feed in their hotel room as Shre'ka adjusted the straps holding her crystal sword and her dagger to her hips. The weapons looked somewhat ludicrous with her elegant gowned attire, but she refused to leave them, and, Mrrowl noted, unable to help grinning appreciatively, there was no where to hide them dressed as she was. He just hoped they'd think she was a collector of unusual weapons.
"Well, that's just great," he rumbled. "The guy who helps us out with infiltrating Welborne winds up dead."
Shre'ka tugged uncomfortably at her dress. "What does that mean? Will the badges he gave us still work?"
The Togorian shook his head. His ears didn't flick in agitation, but Shre'ka could see his muscles tense beneath his fur.
"We'll find out," he replied.
The door chimed and Shre'ka let Sparg and Arden in. "Did you catch the news?" the Illyrian asked as soon as he stepped through the door.
"We're still going, right?"
The group set out.
"We're so pleased to have you tour our facility!" their guide greeted them when the group arrived at the Welborne factory.
Sparg, Mrrowl and Arden held their collective breaths, certain their concealed weapons would be detected. But after a security officer checked their badges at reception, the group was usured into a waiting area.
"Pardon the delay," their guide apologized,"Something's come up. I will return in just a moment."
"Uh-oh," Sparg muttered as he, Mrrowl and Arden positioned themselves at doorways leading into the room.
Shortly security officers erupted into the room, but the group was able to bring them down swiftly. While Sparg had Jate try to befriend the company computer, Arden and Mrrowl kept watch for any further guards. Shre'ka noticed something peculiar with one of the walls and investigated, discovering a hidden lift.
"Look!" she said.
Mrrowl stalked over and nudged her out of the way. Flexing his claws and giving his gear a quick check, he glanced back over his shoulder. "The rest of you will have to follow me. I'll try to hold whoever is down there off."
Sparg and Arden nodded. Shre'ka flicked her ears in anxiety. "We'll be right behind you," she assured him.
The lift took Mrrowl deeper into the complex, opening onto a short hall leading to a large room. Hearing several voices, he stepped cautiously forward, waiting quietly until the lift returned with Sparg, Jate, Arden and Shre'ka.
Arden used slinker ammunition to target guards around the corner, while Sparg ran in with Jate. The Illyrian screamed frantically, "Don't shoot! I'm just a tech! They attacked the guards upstairs!"
The surprised guards apparently believed him, for no one fired at the Illyrian as Shre'ka raced around the corner and with a wave of her paw knocked several large Weequay guards to the floor. Mrrowl followed hard on her heels bringing his axe down on unfortunate prone Weequay.
With everyone in the room occupied fending off a Cathar Force-user, an irate Togorian, and a gunfighting sniper, Sparg wasted no time. "Jate," he instructed, "Access the computer and find the Mako. Show me how we get to her." By the time the conflict had ended, the Illyrian and droid had not only found the Mako's location, but had also shut down the alarm activated by the Weequay's leader, passing it off as a safety simulation to boot. "This way," Sparg told the others. What he didn't tell them was Oneron Fil'vye had entered the building and communicated with him via the computer in an attempt to establish a truce.
After they took a few moments to recover, the group made their way to the hanger bay containing the Mako. A cautious look revealed several guards as well as numerous techs in the area.
Mrrowl growled. "Just get to the ship," he rumbled to Sparg and Shre'ka with a nod to Arden. "We'll cover you."
The Illyrian raced across the hanger bay, Jate keeping up easily with the aid of his rocket jets. Not pausing at the boarding ramp, he charged inside, heading to the cockpit. Shre'ka called upon Sa'uuk and raced after him, pausing at the ramp to wait for Mrrowl and Arden.
A tech stood nearby and she waved a paw at her, knocking her into the ship's hull. The tech staggered. "Run!" Shre'ka snarled at her and the tech obliged.
Mrrowl and Arden charged across the bay, firing shots at any guards that seemed intent on getting in their way. As they closed on the ramp, Shre'ka whirled and ran inside. She came face to face with techs fleeing the ship, hands up, and heard the Mako's engines whining to life. Leaving Sparg to his piloting, she began a quick check of the cabins and other ship areas to be certain no one else was aboard.
Mrrowl slid up against the ramp, a blaster shot whizzing close by his ear to smack into a stack of crates on the hanger bay floor. Wincing, he looked back for Arden and snarled as he spied none other than Oneron entering the bay, a human accompanying him. Sorely tempted to open fire on the Bothan himself as the guards gunned the human down, the Togorian followed Arden up the ramp. He yelled to the Illyrian. "We all in, Sparg! Let's go!" Mrrowl looked to the holostar gunfighter. "Go help him. I'm on the guns." Arden nodded as the big Togorian raced away.
Shre'ka found nothing overly amiss as she hurriedly checked the cabins, but entering the lounge area, she was brought up short by a Wellborne representative there. He raised his blaster, but she waved a paw and it failed to fire. Flattening her ears, she bared her fangs. "Get out!" she snarled and the representative fled.
Sparg held his breath on take off, hoping the dismantled panels the techs had been tinkering with wouldn't slow their escape. Swinging the ship around he noticed the Frayed Whip resting in the hanger as well as another freighter. He spoke to Mrrowl through com. "What a little target practice?"
The Togorian roared an affirmative and trained the laser turrets on the slaver ship. The vessel erupted in explosion. Techs, guards, and Oneron scattered. After a moment, the second freighter fell to the guns as well. "Shouldn't have run off and left us, you honor-less coward," Mrrowl muttered.
Escaping from Acheron into hyperspace, the group finally breathed a small sigh of relief. After tending to their wounds, Shre'ka meditated on Sa'uuk, still trying to search for Paz. An oddly clear image came to her of a place she had seen before--or at least, similar architecture she had seen before. She saw Paz, thankfully alive and well enough, confined not a cell, but to a room like one would find in a residence. The Mon Cal captain was frantically trying to figure a way out of her predicament.
Coming out of her trace, Shre'ka found Mrrowl checking the weapons in the Mako's armory. "I know where Paz is!" she told her mate.
Mrrowl backed his ears. "Then you better let Sparg know."
The Illyrian almost fainted. "How the--? What are we gonna--?" His one eye nearly bulged out of its eye stalk. "We can't go there! That's crazy!!!"
Arden tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Don't be so sure. The Hutts owe me a favor or two. Maybe I can convinced them to let us visit."
Sparg shook his head. "Even if they do, it's a trap, you know that." He turned to look at a light blinking on the com panel. "That's odd. An incoming message. Who could possibly be contacting us?"
Nevertheless he flipped the switch. "Ah! My friends!" a familiar voice spoke over the com. "I was starting to get worried about you. Are you coming to the rendezvous point?"
"Nivv!" Shre'ka exclaimed, delighted.
"Hey, Nivv," Sparg replied. "Uuuuhh, rendezvous point?"
"Yes," their friend continued. "You know, the rendezvous point to meet up with my yacht. After Gallo Memm returned to Vaynai, I found it prudent to leave there. I bought a yacht with the credits I made during the Tandalion concert. Oneron should have given them to you."
"Oh, uh, yeah," Sparg answered. "Do you think you could send those again? We ran into some trouble on Acheron and uh, well, Oneron didn't make it."
"Oh! Sorry to hear that! But he is a very resourceful Bothan," Nivv said amiably. "He's very good at getting out of trouble."
"As good as we are at getting into it?" Sparg muttered.
"What was that?"
"Nothing, nothing. We have the coordinates now. Thanks."
"Very good. I look forward to seeing you, my friends."
Sparg broke the contact.
"So, we are going to see Nivv?" Shre'ka asked.
"I think that would be wise," Mrrowl replied. "It will give Arden time to contact his Hutt friends and us a chance to resupply and ready ourselves before going to Point Nadir."
Everyone nodded agreement. As Sparg turned to key in the coordinates to the navcomputer, Shre'ka tried not to worry. After all, they had the Mako back. And soon, hopefully, they would get Paz back as well.