After a few days of downtime during which they got to know some of the Kings better, the party was approached by Chen, who asked if they would investigate some archaeological sites on the airless surface of Plooma for him. According to Chen, the artifacts there seemed to indicate that Duros had left their homeworld far earlier than previously suspected and a colony had ended up on Plooma, eventually devolving culturally to a Stone Age level.
The party agreed, and Chen gave them some old but functional vac-suits to use while on the surface. As they headed out toward Japolla, they were stopped by the Kings’ comm officer, Gar Thorne. He told them that he’d detected some strange signals coming from some kind of bunker in Japolla that didn’t match any known Kingslayer or Imperial signals. The party agreed to check out the signals for Thorne on their way through Japolla.
In Japolla, the party trawled for rumors and discovered two things: That Siero Chattza, the trusted Rodian lieutenant of Kingslayers head Myn Pragir, was preparing to make a move to kill him and take his position, and that former Corellian Senator Garm bel Iblis had managed to amass a sizeable fleet — including several Dreadnaughts and at least one Venator-class Star Destroyer — and had been doing enough damage to the Empire to make the Emperor himself sit up and take notice.
Inside the bunker, the party discovered that it had once been a secret biological weapons research facility run by the Confederacy of Independent Systems during the Clone Wars. Corpses were strewn around the living/research level, and the facility was guarded by fearsome GX-1 battle droids. Datapad entries left behind by the dead scientists seemed to indicate that a Neimoidian named Borborygmus Gog had taken control of the facilities after the end of the Clone Wars, supposedly on the orders of Count Dooku, and had placed the bunker in lockdown, telling them that the war raged on and was about to overtake the planet.
Finding a hidden turbolift in the room that was supposed to be Gog’s quarters, the party proceeded to level 3 of the facility, where they found more scientists being kept in tubes for experimentation. After destroying the GX-1 droids defending the level (and after Vessek accidentally killed one of the few living scientists with an otherwise superb shot at a GX-1’s power core), the party continued down to the lowest level of the facility, where they finally encountered the enigmatic Borborygmus Gog.
Gog engaged the party in combat, revealing that he was a shapeshifter. He took on the guises of a wampa ice beast, a reptilian katarn, and an enormous narglatch. Despite his fearsome ability, he was easily overcome by the party and shifted back into his natural form, that of a near-human species known as Shi’ido. He explained that he was an agent of the Empire, tasked with taking over the CIS research lab to concoct a biological agent that would exterminate all life on a planet within hours. He further explained that he had developed such an agent, but it only remained virulent for a few hours while the Emperor had specified it be dangerous for a month or so in order to kill any who tried to investigate the target planet. More exposition revealed that the CIS base in Japolla was chosen for two reasons: Nobody outside of the CIS leadership knew of its existence, and Plooma’s unique geography meant that in case of accident, any outbreak would be restricted to Japolla’s valley.
The party then turned to the prisoners still trapped in the transparisteel cells in the room. One indicated to them that he’d been infected and could not possibly survive, so, at his request, Sala — who had sliced into the lab’s main computer — mercy-killed him by sucking all the air out of his cell. The other prisoner (and the ones on the level above) were freed by Sala.
After denying having ever developed an antidote for the biological agent he’d developed, Gog transformed into a small lizard and attempted to escape, stopped only by Vessek’s quick reflexes. After that they stunned the man and locked him in one of his own transparisteel cells.
Vessek and Jay went up to level 3 to try to help the four formerly imprisoned scientists up there ease back into freedom while Sala tried to get further into the computer’s data. She was temporarily stymied by the heavy security on the system. Meanwhile, Tarquin caught the scientist they’d freed from this level, a Sullustan, up on the events that had happened since the end of the Clone Wars. The Sullustan was surprised, to say the least, to hear that the war had ended right as the lockdown began, and that Chancellor Palpatine had declared himself Emperor. While he and Tarquin synthesized food for everyone, he explained that when Sullust had left the Republic and joined the Separatists, he had become a biological weapons scientist for the CIS so he wouldn’t have to be anywhere near the front lines. Tarquin, in turn, told him of subsequent events on Sullust, including SoroSuub’s takeover and support for Emperor Palpatine.
Around the same time, Vessek determined that three of the scientists on his level had abilities necessary to help Sala slice into the base’s top scientists. In a poorly thought-out move, he gave the three scientists, who had been subsisting on nothing but IV fluids for around three months, a hit of spice, energizing them and bringing them back from their shell-shocked state. Everybody returned to the level 4 control room and ate while Sala and the three scientists began their eight-hour marathon session of slicing into the computer.
After getting some rest, the party awoke to find that Sala had managed to slice through the layers of security in the computer. Unfortunately, that was also when the three scientists helping her crashed from their spice highs, which, in their weakened states, caused two of them to have massive heart attacks. Vessek, realizing his mistake immediately, used his first aid kid and limited medical knowledge to defibrillate and stabilize the pair, saving their lives.
Sala copied the data regarding creation of the biological agent over to a datacard before wiping it from the computer. She found that there was a video file that seemed to be some sort of message. As it turned out, it was a holo message from Emperor Palpatine himself, telling Gog that he was pleased with the operation’s status and to continue making regular progress reports.
While Sala took a much-needed nap, the rest of the party discussed what to do with Gog. He had proven uncooperative and reticent when questioned further, only dropping opaque hints and innuendos. Though the idea of killing him was suggested, it was agreed that he was much more valuable as a captive. Eventually the party-minus-Sala decided to bring him back to the Kings’ HQ with them and the scientist before continuing on to complete Chen’s task. Once Sala awoke and they’d caught her up, they commed Thorne and told him to have a room prepared that would hold the shapeshifter. On their way out, they loaded four Z-95 headhunter simulators onto a hoversled for transport back to the base.
Intelligence head Harlin Braden was delighted that the party had brought back yet another person for her to interrogate and directed them to the room that had been prepared for him. She took the scientists to the conference room for debriefing, promising that they would be treated gently. Chen, after being reassured that the party was on their way to complete his request, immediately set to work hooking up the fighter sims. After a night’s sleep, the party set out for the surface of the planet.
Long story short: The party encountered some archaeologists, who were initially suspicious that the party was trying to steal credit for their dig. Due to some truly spectacular lying by Tarquin, the lead archaeologist was talked down and told the party they could check out one of their not-in-use sites, directing them to it. Upon arriving, the party discovered a couple Duros, clearly not scientists, with handfuls of pottery. It came out that the two Duros were a prehistorian and his brother, planting the archaeological relics (stolen from Duros) to try to make it seem like the Duros had interstellar flight far earlier than they actually did — as well as so the prehistorian could make a name for himself publishing about the findings. He drew a blaster on the party, planning to kill them to keep his secret, but as his brother tried to talk him down, Vessek pulled out his own weapon, prompting the brother to join in. Jay mind-tricked the historian into surrendering while his brother fought on, unwilling to go to prison for attempted murder. He was stunned in short order and the pair were brought before the actual scientists. In the end, it was decided that since the find was never publicly announced, the Duros would return the artifacts to where they belonged and the details of the incident would never be made public.
The party took the bad news back to Chen and then tracked down Meerka Mirke. Mirke told them that she’d left a message for her mysterious benefactor requesting face-to-face communication. Tarquin asked her to mention that they’d captured Gog to entice her employer into helping them out, and Mirke promised to try to get them transport off-world. Shorty afterwards, the party was approached by Ton Caldovar, who told them that, with increased Imperial scrutiny on the planet, he was looking to get the Kings offworld. Impressed with their work so far, he agreed to provide them with limited supplies and offworld transport if they would carry out some official missions for him. The party agreed, then decided to hit up the Z-95 simulators before bed to practice for when they left the planet.
At some point Kyra mentioned that it’d be great if the food synthesizers could be programmed to produce alcohol.