Several weeks after the events of Raxus Prime, the crew of the Rogue Zenith arrived on Bespin to meet with a contact in Cloud City. The simple meeting with the Pantoran Aris Shen soon devolved into a chase through the city’s Market Row, with thugs in the employ of Aris’ husband. As Kandar and Sha’ryn’thaqiz dealt with the thugs, Captain Noraan and Askrut helped Aris escape to the Tourist District. Leading the crew to an apartment nearby, Aris introduced them to her father, Arend Shen, a former financier and corrupt tax administrator for Cloud City.
The Pantoran explained that a famous jewel called “the Jewel of Yavin” was due to be auctioned by the Imperial bureaucrat Marus Grayson at a high-class gala in the Figg & Associates Art Museum and offered the crew the opportunity to earn a large payout by diverting the winning bid into Arend’s account and then stealing the gem after the auction. After some brief discussion and questioning of Arend, the crew accepted the job, especially after hearing one of the bidders was an associate of Xiarr. After Arend excused himself, the crew was left behind with Aris to formulate a plan, deciding to betray Arend after finding out his true motivations and Aris’ reasons for going against her husband. Aris informed the crew they had three days for preparations before the Cloud City Grand Prix, which would be their ticket into the gala itself later that night.
After establishing a plan, Captain Noraan and Askrut ventured to Figg & Associates to case the museum and determined the best entrance and escape routes. Utilizing Askrut’s experience with criminal investigation and Captain Noraan’s smuggling background, the two were able to determine the opportune points and the museum’s security, including camera locations and the patrol route of the security guards.
Realizing they will need to acquire schematics of Cloud City’s architecture, the crew headed to Port Town to seek out an Ugnaught construction guild who took over the facilities of Incom Coropration, who had members that backed the construction of the museum, knowledge acquired during Captain Noraan and Askrut’s visit to the museum. Arriving on Level 154, they met with the Ugnaughts who referred them to their chief foreman, Xoff Ix. To the displeasure of Captain Noraan, they were able to acquire a copy of the schematics after paying the foreman a meager sum of credits.
With half of their preparations complete, the crew decided that getting to know Marus Grayson’s private security would be a good idea. Using some long-range monitoring devices provided by Aris, they determined that Grayson was visited by one of two men every ten hours, likely the squad leaders of his security teams according to Kandar. They resolved to split up and tail both men.
Following the first squad leader, a Corellian called Burr Naxis, to the Trest casino on Level 44, Kandar and Askrut joined him in a game of sabacc. Posing as off-duty security professionals, the two were able to learn that Naxis is annoyed the museum forbids the carrying of disruptors on the premises, and that his men are limited to riot guns. Naxis also revealed that he find Grayson annoying and his fellow squad leader is even more annoyed.
Captain Noraan and Sha’ryn’thaqiz took to following the second squad leader, a Defel called Gantel Dro. They followed him to the Four-and-a-Half cantina, and were able to easily approach the Defel thanks to Captain Noraan’s roguish demeanor. Trading stories of their roguish adventures, Dro revealed that he is annoyed with Grayson for denying his request to have more men guard the garbage disposal and that the Bespin Wing Guard has provided little cooperation. He also revealed that the museum’s security systems do not cover all of the building and that all sorts of things could be hidden, including the lack of cameras in the storeroom, cleaner’s room, and tapcafé kitchen.
With information on Grayson’s security detail acquired, the crew then decided to deal with the computer and network concerns. Sha’ryn’thaqiz was able to build a suitable computer spike, while Kandar and Aris were able to acquire an access card to Cloud City’s network encryption from her father’s secretary, despite some hesitance to hand it over on her part. The third roadblock was handled by Captain Noraan and Askrut, who were able to determine the precise sleeping schedule of Lobot, Cloud City’s network administrator. Finally, as they planned to betray Arend, the crew was able to set up a second dummy account, using forged identities from an ID forger tracked down by Askrut, and further information supplied by Aris.
The day before the race, Aris brought information on the bidders, including her husband Vorse Tabarith, so that the crew could investigate further. Deciding to press her contacts, Captain Noraan looked into Kaltho the Hutt, an associate of Xiarr, and was able to determine that he is a member of a powerful kajidic from Nar Shaddaa and controls several major spaceports and private landing bays. She was also able to find out that the gem means little to the Hutt, but that he believes the markets of Nar Shaddaa will allow him to sell the gem for a much higher profit.
Askrut took on the investigation of Shreya Ordassa, a Togruta professor, and Pos Podura, a Twi’lek business executive. For Ordassa, he was able to discover that she is employed at the University of Sanbra, for which she is here to procure the gem, and that her pompous assistant droid has annoyed the museum staff by trying to gain access to the gem’s exhibit. His digging into Podura revealed that he is not an executive at ThoraTech as he claims, and he was able to acquire false credentials to the auction, but since the charade has gone on for as long as it has, Grayson would rather him bid. He was also fortunate to discover that Podura is in love with Shreya Ordassa, and he is here to win her affections with the Jewel of Yavin.
Sha’ryn’thaqiz, meanwhile, hacked into Cloud City’s computer systems to look into Mil Mikkir, a Chagrian aristocrat, and a woman named Elaiza. He was able to slice into files that revealed Mikkir, who has a management position in a major construction corporation in the Outer Rim, came to Cloud City to carouse with old friends, and is only in the auction to prevent Shreya Ordassa, his ex-girlfriend, from winning the gem. He was able to find less on Elaiza, simply that she appears to be a batty old human woman with too much to spend and her mysterious riches have earned her a degree of notoriety among Cloud City’s citizens.
Left with the final two bidders, Kandar looked first into Zekra Fol, a representative for the Outer Rim Exploratory Mining Corps, which is itself a recent venture backed by patrons from the Core Worlds to seek mineral wealth in the Outer Rim. Aside from that, he was able to locate a small office owned by OREMC in one of Cloud City’s better districts, which is where data-gathering efforts on new mining prospects are coordinated. The final bidder, Vorse Tabarith, was much easier to investigate, thanks to Aris. She was able to reveal much about her husband’s criminal syndicate, and that he is frequently drunk and his men grow increasingly disloyal, believing him to be “going soft.” She also explained that one of his bookkeepers, a Twi’lek named Faa’i Lethax, wants to join Kaltho the Hutt’s kajidic, and would likely be in debt to anyone who could make an introduction. Finally, after some hesitation, she admitted that her husband doesn’t really want the gem, and that she put him up to purchasing it for her. She further explained that she had planned to betray her husband and father on her own, but now trusted the crew enough to consider them friends and allies in the job.
The day of the Cloud City Grand Prix, Arend provided the crew with a loaned cloud car in a private berth in a remote part of the city, along with entry codes and documentation necessary to operate the craft. Having the most experience piloting atmospheric vehicles, Captain Noraan and Sha’ryn’thaqiz agreed to pilot the car, while Kandar did what he could to modify the car with better thrusters and firepower. Askrut looked into the competition, which turned out to be three teams. The first called themselves the Stormhawks, two humans sponsored by MandalMotors Corporation. The second was a team sponsored by the Hutts and lead by a notorious pilot and rumored ex-pirate nicknamed “The Carbine.” The third was representing Cloud City itself, with homegrown pilot Tarryn Razer and his droid gunner making up the team.
It wasn’t long before the race began, with Kandar, Askrut, Aris, and Arend watching the holovid broadcast from the observation decks. Throughout the race, Captain Noraan and Sha’ryn’thaqiz managed to stay close to the lead, finding heavy competition from the Stormhawks, and surprisingly, Tarryn Razer. In the stretch between buoys three and four, Captain Noraan and Sha’ryn’thaqiz managed to deftly maneuver their cloud car and avoid the oncoming flocks of tibannuck, while doing the same to avoid the much larger beldons between buoys four and five.
As they came to the stretch between buoys six and seven, they were confronted with dangerous gas pockets. While they were able to avoid colliding with any themselves, “The Carbine” was not so fortunate, and the resulting explosion knocked them off course, though Sha’ryn’thaqiz was able to get them back on course without losing too much ground. The next stretch proved much more dangerous, as they were now faced with flocks of dangerous predators called velkers. Utilizing Kandar’s upgrades to firepower, Captain Noraan was able to keep them mostly off the car, though they did take a few hits from the creatures. “The Carbine” was soon taken out of the race, as his car was hit by a velker’s disruptor field and disabled.
Sha’ryn’thaqiz pushed the car to its top speed during the final stretch, and with the help of the modified thrusters, was able to lead the crew to victory in the race, thus securing their access to the gala. Regrouping at the docking berth, the crew headed back to the apartment and began to prepare for the impending heist.