Star Wars - Edge of the Empire

5. The Jewel of Chandrila

The Cloud City Grand Prix and Gala Auction

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The Cloud City Grand Prix is just hours away! While Kraus and Guffy stay in the plaza district and Aanchi and Gunsha wonder what’s become of their companions – Xagrab prowls the streets ducking the pursuit of the Bespin Wing Guard.

He’s managed to stay just a step ahead of the authorities but has noticed more and more guards as the night has grown to morning. In the already densely packed crowds of the Market District, Xagrab looks for a place to hide from a trio of Wing Guards as they scan the traffic just ahead…

In between two market stalls, a young human stands outside an ally flipping a cred chip. “Hey, pal, looks like you had a long night” He glances ahead a the Wing Guards. “And it ain’t over yet – maybe I could help” He catches the chip and folds the metal like it was paper then unfolds it just as easy. “Come on over here – meet a friend of mine”

In the ally an armored figure emerges from the shadows. Dressed in laminate armor – all black with the exception of 3 claw marks running down the shoulder painted red and a tattered cloak hanging off him. His face is obscured by a helmet reminiscent of an old Clone Trooper also painted black and augmented with an external rebreather and carries a massive blaster rifle, but does not have it raised in threat.

Later, security doors slide out of the way with a barley audible hiss, and Kraus and Guffy find themselves staring into a snug vehicle berth. There are a verity of tools and equipment strewn about a Storm IV cloud car in the familiar two cockpit formation. There airspeeder is painted the same red orange hue as those utilized by the city’s Wing Guard, and could easily pass for the real thing.

After a little time assessing the craft they hear a whistle coming from the door. Looking back they see Ol’ Sav, the grizzled mechanic from the Podracer’s Retirement. “Got yourselves a classic model there. Just came by to see if you boys were actually racing consit’ring just a few days ago you hadn’t flown one these.” After a little talk he’s charmed into helping them do some last minute modifications. “Heh, looks like I’ll be working this years race after all”

Meanwhile, Aris has cleared the apartment with the Wing Guard on alert for Xagrab and given Aanchi and Gunsha the location of the berth where the cloud car is stored. She informs them she’ll be indisposed the rest of the day with the race and the auction. She has an abandoned warehouse in the Industrial district in the lower levels where everyone is to meet after the auction. Aanchi heads to meet Mil Mikker at his private viewing box and Gunsha heads to the warehouse to get set up for the slicing job. He taps into the race’s camera feed and comms of cloud car to help assist Kraus and Guffy along the way.

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With the modifications finished and the racers in position the Cloud City Grand Prix begins to fanfare. The racers rocket off the starting line at Cloud City and Bespin’s endless skies loom ahead. Guffy and Kraus head toward the beep on the console indicating the first race marker buoy, though its nearly drowned out by the overwhelming whirr of cloud cars jostling for position. After passing the first few markers, Guffy and Kraus punch it taking the lead.

The 3rd buoy disappears behind them at tremendous speed and enormous clouds obscure ahead. Soon a large number of small black dots appear, moving slower then them but still at high speed. Overtaking them quickly, the racers are surprised to discover that they are life forms of some sort. Large insect like creatures flying on two sets of wings somersault desperately trying to avoid their path. Guffy recognizes them as Tibannucks, a potential sentient species. They manage to avoid hitting any of the creatures and pass the next maker, but other racers aren’t so lucky.

With the ranks of strange creatures behind them, Gunsha informs them they have another obstacle ahead. He barely has time to tell them before the blots appear on their sensors and their speed hurtles them into a horde of massive beldons drifting slowly through the clouds. Numerous pleasure craft hoover outside the race boundaries observing the creatures and the race, and though the Kruas and Guffy manage to avoid a collision, crowd favorites The Stormhawks careen off the track into the crowd outside the bounds.

The 5th marker disappears behind the racers and the sensor array is already pinging the distant 6th. Finally free of the territory of the native life forms the sky seems clear, almost tranquil, until a well aimed blaster shot streaks bright and hot across the starboard bow.

The Carbine team has closed the distance and is hot on the heals of Kraus and Guffy. Unable to return fire, Kruas manages to push it a little faster getting out of the range of fire and passes the next maker. The blaster fire still comes though not as close but it now possesses a different danger. The air ignites in front of them as Gunsha informs them of the gas pockets seeded by race officials. The racers hit one of the pockets but ride it out and the explosion takes out another race team behind them.

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The field has thinned significantly by the time they pass the 7th buoy and into clear sky. The haze from the gas pockets has lifted and the danger of volatile gasses has passed. Only a few moments into this region, they sensors scream to life, singling numerous starship sized objects inbound at high speeds. Velkers descend on racers. Guffy manages to hold them back with blaster fire as Kraus avoids them, but some racers aren’t able to keep away from the gaping maws of the predators.

Less then half the racers who started pass the last buoy, having been disable by the obstacles along the path or lost to accidents. Sensors indicate the finish line is the next checkpoint though still quite a ways off. The last stretch of the race is upon them, when suddenly a cloud car comes streaking the wrong way up the track. Nothing on senors indicate it ahead – it’s jamming the racers. Gunsha informs them of the race announcers claim that it’s the disqualified Dug team taking it’s anger out on the front runners! They aren’t successful in taking anyone out of lead position and quickly run into the velker flock.
Kruas and Guffy cross the last maker in first place, winning the Cloud City Grand Prix

The waiting crowd erupts into thunderous cheer as they prepare for landing in the winner’s berth, adrenaline still running hot in their veins. Journalist and fans eager to get holo-stills of the winning team clamor for an action shot, the flashes from their devices so numerous and blinding that Kraus nearly botches the landing. Once the car’s struts finally settle on the ferrocrete, the barricade containing the crowd collapses beneath the excitement, and a rush of eager celebrants surround the vehicle to be among the first to congratulate the newest victors of the Cloud City Grand Prix.

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There’s not much time, but Kraus and Guffy get themselves cleaned up and head to the auction. Gunsha takes the time to acquire some last minute tech including a com jammer, electronic lock breaker, restraining bolts, and stun grenades. Then sits back at the warehouse monitoring the events through the private datapads they were given/ Xagrab shows up with gear for the heist including climbing kits and ion weapons, as well as a new a cybernetic arm.

The party is already in full swing and Aanchi is there with Mil Mikkir socializing with the Cloud City elite and outrim’s well to do. Not too long into the party a Twi’lek business tycoon approaches the racers, telling them he heard they’d taken out a Velker and offers them a job transporting some Krayt dragon eggs and youngling to Nar Shaddaa. They take his contact info and tell them they’ll consider it. Droids bring around datapads to the bidders for the Jewel of Chandrila and it’s obvious that Kaltho the Hutt is in the lead position for the first few rounds. The mysterious older bidder, Elaiza disappears from the auction soon after the first round of bidding.

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Taking the opportunity to speak to Pos Podura, Aanchi charms him into revealing that he has conned his way into the auction and doesn’t have the credits to pay for the Jewel, but is only doing it for the affection of Shreya Ordasa and drunkenly stirred by her words puts in an exorbitant bid. With this she approaches Shreya and tells her of the Pos’ love and deception. She quickly leaves and escorts him out of the auction, returning soon after.

Lando Calrissian, Baron Administer of Cloud City, attends the gala for a short time flanked by his head of security, Lobot and several Wing Guards. He moves about speaking to everyone, making nice with the guest and congratulating Kraus and Guffy. They attempt to get some kind of contract to take out more Velkors, but Lando just tells them to get in contact with his people. Gunsha manages to intercept a coded message to Lobot from Lando, “Too much crooked in this place, keep an eye out.” Gunsha can use the encryption to his advantage during the slicing job.

Aanchi approaches Zekra Fol, but gets nowhere with the serious human bidder. She remains too guarded.

A suave human male approaches Guffy and Kraus, “I’m not sure if you’re very stupid or very smart, but you do realize that every bounty hunter in the region will soon see your faces as the news gets out about your winning the race, yes? I plan on collecting the bounty on both of you, perhaps I can play off the two sides against each other, the Hutts and the Black Sun. Drive up the price on both of you.” Guffy and Kruas ready for a fight, but the bounty hunter just waves them off, “Oh, no, not here, but soon” He finishes his drink and leaves the party. Gunsha manages to pull up his info a Corellian named Tysabri Virdine. Xagrab leaves the warehouse off to find the bounty hunter.

Vorse Tabarith recognizes Aanchi is with Mil Mikker and warns him of his sorted past telling her to tell him if he wants the evidence that would ruin his career back, he can come make an offer. They get to chatting about the auction, and soon Aanchi convinces him to place the winning bid for 300,000 credits. Kaltho is visibly upset at losing the auction and leaves heated with his entourage in tow.

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TreyBayles

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