While the Team is on the tail end of a rest and recuperation cycle, having the last of their wounds joyfully tended by Dr. Jotano, Salem (through his remaining, former Republic intelligence contacts) learns that Major Tikkanen has sent an extremely excited message across the Imperial Military Communications Network speaking of something she refers to as “Item Firaxis” and saying that she believes the location of this item can be ascertained such that the item can be retrieved from its resting place on the planet Ossus. Unfortunately for her, she was so jubilant about this that she forgot to properly encode the message, which in turn lead to its ease of interception and passage on to Salem through the Treel Network. Part of the reason Tikkanen believes that she’s finally found this Item’s resting place is her careful study of an ancient battle poem known as the Recitation of a Thousand Blades. Salem also knows from his own training as an Intelligence officer that Item Firaxis is the code name for the Pre-Ruusan Reformation Republic Constitution.
When Salem brings this information to Keffan Mairro, he compares it with a number of facts he’s aware of and his own copy of the Recitation and determines that Tikkanen’s theories may have merit to them, and if so, then they have to see if they can get to this copy of the Constitution of the Republic before she does.
Vani, the team’s most excellent pilot knows from her years of study that Ossus is one of the hardest planets to get to – and might technically not even be reachable. She tells the rest of the Team that because of the Sith having exploded the three stars in the Tion Cluster, they seriously messed up the hyperspace lanes in the area and put the planet Ossus in a situation where three successive, extremely difficult to compute jumps have to be executed perfectly or there’s no way the Ruby Queen will make it to Ossus – and might even suffer a worse fate than that. She does however receive a bit of a break when she notices that Mairro’s copy of the Recitation contains a full set of 9 glyphs necessary to compute an accurate jump to where Ossus used to be in hyperspace, and with those she’s able to modify the computations to a much higher level of refinement.
But it’s still a risky business, and there are some concerns among the Team, but after a thorough airing of those concerns and an assurance by Mairro that they’re doing the right thing going after the artifact, they decide to strap in while Vani begins the excruciatingly demanding computations for light speed.
After a harrowing series of abortive hyperspace jumps, one final jump strains the ship’s hyperdrive almost to its breaking point. Vani shuts it down right away and the Ruby Queen is dumped into realspace momentarily without power or control. And to make matters worse, she’s not alone.
The Ruby Queen collides extremely gently with a catastrophically damaged Imperial Customs Corvette (the ICV-4090 according to its external markings). The Imperial ship seems to have been a victim of several derelict mines (no doubt left behind after the Clone Wars), one of which blew her port bow mandible clean away, another removed her bridge and command decks and the final one holed her hull catastrophically.
At first the Team wonders whether or not they’ve received mana from the heavens, since a 180 meter long seemingly dead Imperial ship is bound to have all sorts of goodies aboard for the taking, but unfortunately, it turns out that there was a good chance not all of the Imperial ship’s crew were dead.
An emergency personnel beacon used by Imperial Officers can be heard by the Ruby Queen transmitting, and its source seems to emanate from a secondary mechanical systems compartment roughly in the center, aft of the command superstructure. Mairro proceeds under the assumption that whomever’s attached to the beacon is still alive and therefore the stricken ship technically isn’t salvage until they can determine whether any of her crew is indeed alive. This plus the fact that Mairro believes suffocating in the cold of space is an awful fate for anyone to have to endure – Imperial or otherwise – prompts him to want to mount a rescue. Not every member of the Team agrees but after a lengthy discussion they decide to proceed.
Since the interior of the Corvette is badly damaged and almost universally without atmosphere, gravity or environment, simply opening the door of the compartment the emergency beacon is coming from could likely kill the survivors before they could be rescued, but Sassoon the Hutt has an idea for that. Taking advantage of the modular “slide in, slide out” nature of much of the ship’s internal architecture, he proposes that a half dozen well placed shaped charges could loosen the survivor’s compartment sufficiently to allow it to be tractored away from the hulk and docked with the Ruby Queen using a temporary universal airlock.
What follows is an entertaining ballet where Beviin, the Gand and Dewbacca (sporting a custom design environmental suit tailored to him by Sassoon) float their way across a brief expanse of emptiness and work their way into the gaping wounds of the Imperial ship in order to plant their shaped charges. After a few mis-steps that could have lead to some long space walks, Mairro skillfully uses a micro-pulse from the tractor emitter to bring the three back to the ship to hold on for dear life as they await the detonation of the charges by remote. Once this is done and they’re sure they’re no longer needed, they go back inside the Ruby Queen and a combination of another set of skillful tractor emitter pulses by Mairro combined with pinpoint piloting by Vani puts the freed module containing the beacon (and hopefully survivors) right up against the Ruby Queen’s starboard airlock.
Upon breaching the compartment, the Team discovers an Imperial Lieutenant (who is an older male), a non-commissioned male Deck Officer and three Stormtroopers, one of which seems to have a mild head injury. Dr. Jotano (reluctantly) brings them all down to the lower deck where she has set up medical shop and gives each one their own bed and quarters to rest in. After careful examination she reports that for most of the survivors all they need is food, water and rest in a properly oxygenated environment. The Stormtrooper who was bleeding a little from one ear has a bad concussion that his broken helmet (discovered later on in the compartment he came from) seems to have absorbed most of. While the Imperials are hauled off to medical treatment Beviin enters and examines the module. It appears it was once a secondary control area of some kind – most likely related to the engines. Several other valuable odds and ends are “liberated”, including a primo set of macrobinoculars. Various other parts and pieces are stripped from the module. After careful consideration Mairro orders all the Imperial’s weapons dumped into space to keep them from doing anything untoward.
Once the Imperials are well enough to question, Mairro speaks to the older Lieutenant who identifies himself as Anson Dayaj. Lt. Dayaj is extremely grateful for being rescued and but asks to be handed over to an Imperial facility or ship as soon as was practicable. Upon hearing this (and receiving the Officer’s Code Cylinder to be used to confirm his identity and authenticate any rescue operation), the Ruby Queen sends out a general hail to any nearby Imperial “ears”. A reply isn’t long in coming. A voice claiming to speak for the Imperial Star Destroyer Malice Aforethought receives the Team’s message, acknowledges it and requests that they jump to a set of neutral co-ordinates to facilitate the handoff of their people. Mairro’s only too happy to comply and soon the Team gets their first close up look at the underside of an Imperial Class Star Destroyer as they are taken into its cavernous docking bay.
Not content to simply take their people, offer thanks and leave, the ship sends over an Officer in black of captain’s rank and half a dozen Stormtroopers to have a look around the Ruby Queen and ascertain that the ship has indeed transported Imperial troops to safety and given them succor in a time of need. No doubt they were also on the lookout for any possible contraband as they carried out a de-facto warrantless search. Dewbacca (a wanted Wookie on a number of systems) endured a rather tense moment when confronted by the arrogant officer as his false papers were examined, but in the end they turned out to be acceptable. The black clad captain’s barely disguised contempt for the good Samaritans prompts Lt. Dayaj to advise Beviin on the way out that there are bounties for saving Imperial soldiers that can be applied for through proper channels, they are generous bounties (about 3000 credits as it turns out) and the Team should “take these arrogant bastards for everything they can.”
And so, after all that, for all intents and purposes, the Ruby Queen is now back where they started. Only this time Vani is determined to get them to Ossus.
The journey is fraught with just as much potential hazzard as the first attempts, but this time, after Herculean effort, Vani’s piloting and astrogation skills once again win out, and in a triumphal grin, she is able at the end of all the hyperspace fussing to point out that the Ruby Queen is in orbit around the planet Ossus.
The only problem is that the world looks awfully lush and verdant for a world that was supposedly scoured clean by the shockwaves of three supernovae in rapid succession less than four thousand years earlier. As the Team ponders that mystery, Beviin is visited by the Force Ghost of one of the Jedi who Mairro believes carried the ancient Constitution before she was killed by the overwhelming numbers of the Sith. The Force Ghost asks Beviin to gather up her lightsaber and that of her partner and see to it that those sabers are given to their families. This is an unusual request for Jedi, but it is made because both fallen Jedi received their sabers from members of their family who had also served in the Order. Beviin promised only to do the best he could and the session ended as the Team made preparations to land and see just what was going on with this former Jedi treasure trove.