The crew headed back to the Steadfast with their cargo of ice and repair supplies, and were warmly greeted by Mela Prince and the other refugees from Wehllund. They got to work immediately, and the crew were paid the agreed funds for their work. More supplies were still needed urgently, but things were looking up.
Prince and the Ithorian botanist agreed that the next priority was food, along with seeds, soil and other organic matter. With it, Opeth would be able to set up a hydroponics lab and start growing food – and supplement the stressed life support systems. The crew reasoned that the jungle planet of B’Po would be a good place to look, and they remembered that there was a research station near the planet. ZF-3 didn’t predict any Imperial Military presence however, and it was a mostly unexplored planet, teeming with a lot of indigenous life.
The crew were introduced to Drago – a Chiss, handy with a blaster and looking for action, who wanted to get off the Steadfast and help gather supplies. Owen signed him onto the crew, and they set off for B’Po, bringing Opeth along with them to use his botany skills in collecting plants and soil samples.
Dropping out of hyperspace in the B’Po system, they were immediately hailed by a small Imperial station, which turned out to be a science post conducting ecological surveys. They assumed the crew were there to help search for their men – apparently lost on a trip down to B’Po prime. The crew agreed to look for the missing researchers, in exchange for payment, and also purchased some supplies from the post. The scientists gave them details of their contact, down on the surface of the planet – a tribe of the local sentient species, named the Drar, with whom they had dealt with in the past, and in fact had supplied with a protocol droid for translation purposes.
Following the coordinates, they landed outside an imposing structure, a huge dome emerging from the jungle, surrounded by cleared space. Heading through the huge doors they passed through several large tunnels before coming to a hall. At the centre of the hall was the horrifying chieftan of the tribe, Coscass the Pale. After some initial hesitation, and aided by the protocol droid left by the researchers, the crew began negotiating to purchase food and soil samples from the Drar. A cautious race, Coscass suggested a ritual hunt before they could finalise any deal, to which the crew agreed.
They headed out that same day, after being supplied with spears by the Drar, and allowed Coscass to lead them towards a river, where they fought a giant jungle worm. After slaying the beast, the crew noticed a nearby crashed swoop bike – a standard Imperial model – smashed into a tree. Analysis by ZF-3 showed that the transponder data showed the proposed patrol route of the lost Imperial research team.
The next day, leaving the pacifistic Opeth to negotiate with the Drar, they headed off to the Imperial research team route. They found a crashed, but after searching the area they could find no sign of any bodies. Following some strange tracks, they headed deep into the jungle, eventually finding the ruins of a strange temple, which Coscass the Pale refused to enter – the entrance being far too large.
The crew searched the strange, ancient ruins, and found a heavy-bladed spear made of some strange material. They followed strange tracks down to the lower level and found a bizarre machine covered in unknown blinking symbols, with a central unit with complicated rotating elements. Several dead researchers were in the chamber, and one presumably alive but comatose and connected to the machine via a writhing cable attached to the back of their head.
Interfering with the machine proved dangerous, however, as after retrieving a small crystal from the central unit, a massive spider-legged creature was summoned and began to attack the crew. The fled, blasting it and carrying the still-living researcher. After slowing it down by pelting down tunnels too big for the creature, they made it outside where combined blaster fire and some well timed spear work by Coscass destroyed it. He identifies it as a ‘Rattler’ and refuses to speak more on the issue, but examination of the corpse shows it as some sort of bio-construct.
Coscass proclaims the hunts to be very successful, and the crew were allowed to strike a deal for food with the Drar tribe. Opeth had identified numerous species of plant that would be ideal for hydroponic cultivation on the ship, and they loaded up the Old Bess with as much soil, organic matter and food (including a large amount of preserved worm-meat). After leaving the planet, they contacted the orbiting research station and returned their missing researcher in exchange for a small reward.