On a transport headed to Devaron, seven unlikely passengers converse, revealing little to each other, but can find no other way of passing the time. Each told a story of a hooded droid who recognized something in each person, and in turn offered a place to discover more than they could have imagined. As the voyage progresses, Akura, the male Itachi, gets a case of space nausea. Unable to stand without vomiting, he stays in his bunk when the ship makes landfall. So they are here, landing in a New Republic fort on a steaming jungle planet in the Outer Rim. These seven strangers are not friends, yet humanoid nature causes most of the six to form a loose group as they walk down the landing ramp.
Clearly a New Republic base, the durasteel is still shiny in places, but there is a surprising lack of Devaronians. The strangers can feel the heat of the jungle, but the fort and the city around are cleared of the jungle vegetation. Outside the three gates in the wall, all roads lead to two bridges that cross over to Tikarro City, a poor backwater town.
“What are we supposed to do?” asks the bubbly Asura, the female Itachi.
“We are supposed to find the mentor in the jungle,” responds Korr, with a curtness that doesn’t seem to phase Asura. He stomps towards the landing pad attendant, but Dosklen, the Trandoshian hunter, has already engaged the tiny Aleena who struggles with a New Republic helmet nearly as large as he is. The name emblazoned on his shirt is Tobirt. Tobirt explains that there are plenty of explorers, miners, treasure hunters and such in the jungle, but it is a dangerous place. The wee Aleena knows nothing about the strangers’ search. Korr contemptuously decides he needs to speak to someone with more authority, but the plucky Tobirt asserts that he is the most senior person standing on this landing pad. With Korr headed to what looks like a command office, the group slowly drifts towards the gates to explore Tikarro City. The Trandoshian, tall and smelly, slowly sidles away from the group and towards the left most gate, while the others drift to the right gate.
Korr sees a Bothan standing in front of a large holo-table, clearly in command, Captain Kinra. After some brusque introductions, Kinra plainly tells him "The man you are looking for is at an excavation in the jungle."
The female half of the Itachi Twins, the masked Kel Dor, the Lannik, and the Dug are on their way to the city. A gatehouse guard tells them that today is the anniversary of some terrible event, a tragedy that still resonates after 5 years. The New Republic did not stop a devastating Imperial attack, and the town still holds a grudge. Some claim Core World intransigence; others claim New Republic ineptitude. But clearly the town is riled up. As they cross the bridge into a large common area, a speaker stands on a stage exhorting the crowd to push the New Republic off Devaron. A couple of protestor with misspelled signs in Basic steps in front of Asura, but her bubbly personality shifts to an incredibly intimidating persona, frightening them off.
The city is a mix of structures with some made of mud/adobe primitive materials and newer, Republic built homes and buildings. There is an air of discontent and occasionally the strangers notice grafitti, with slogans like "Vader Lives," "Devaron for Devaron!," and "NO NR on Devaron!" The serious and solemn Lannik Soreth goes to a bar and asks about the jungle. The proprietress is kindly, but she knows nothing.
Ven Nakoo, the Kel Dor, is blithely strolling the streets talking to the agitated crowd to get an understanding of why they are so angry and what can be done to help ease their emotional turmoil.
Dosklen wanders into a junk shop. There is a tall Devaronian with a series of jeweler’s glasses and loupes stacked across his eyes. The good-natured man looks up at the Trandoshian. He introduces himself as Bobhos Kins. He explains Devaron’s current mood and the history that influences it. In addition to the Imperial barrage, a couple of years ago a group calling themselves the Acolytes attacked Tikarro City, burning and pillaging New Republican supporters. Since then the New Republic moved into their fort outside the city and tensions between them and the locals has been rising. In a series of grunts, Dosklen acknowledges this world’s issues and moves on.
Tondigo goes to the one place he knows he will fit in, the shanty hobo town. The people, mostly down on their luck Devaronians and stranded fortune seekers, know little, but a legless Duros tells a story about the danger the jungle poses to any man unprepared for it. Tondigo warms his legs near the barrel fire and settles in for the evening. He knows that there is a peace and friendship in these people.
As the coming dusk approaches, all of the comlinks chirp, and a man introduces himself as Nodor, the New Republic liason, and with a brusk voice says "You should probably be getting back. This night is a poor night for mingling with the locals." The Trandoshian, Itachi, Lannik, and human begin making their way back. The Kel Dor is so intrigued with his conversation that he decides to continue it. The human Korr goes looking for a guide at the center fountain, to arrange an expedition for the following day. . There he meets the Devaronian, Borkan sitting with his feet in the fountain. Conversation ensues, and with a bit of a cajoling, he agrees to take the seven strangers to the Temple of Eedit. He says he can lead them tomorrow… after the cleanup. Korr asks for an explanation. Apparently, with the rising tensions and the anniversary of the Imperial attack, the town is ready to explode. He warns Korr that there will be a rush on the fort.
Back at the New Republic compound, Nodor realizes that the Kel Dor and the Dug have not returned. Nodor, Soreth, and Korr discuss why the Devaronians are so upset. From the New Republic’s point of view, the Devaronians cannot support themselves as a nation state. They need constant food and durable goods imports, paid for with what little exports the planet can accommodate, mostly mineral resources. The NR worries that if given full sovereignty, the planet would devolve into a pirate state within months. With dire predictions of a night of bloodshed, Nodor pushes for the rest of the seven to come back to the fort. They comm Ven Nakoos and Tondigo with the info, but both decline, with Ven Nakoos deeply in the middle of the growing riot and Tondigo mostly unsure of its actual danger.
Suddenly a big red flare launches into the sky, an apparent sign for the attack on the fort. Nodor asks for the groups help in repelling the attackers in a non-lethal manner. The hobos offer Tondigo some cash for some quick work. He agrees to help and suddenly, the Hobo camp turns out to be the ladder brigade, as they break down their walls and roof into preconstructed ladder scaffolds. Tondigo attempts to argue with them over the merits of a violent uprising, convincing a few of them, but the surge of the riot gets well beyond his control.
Ven watches the crowd get super angry, and they start pushing towards the fort. He is unable to sway them as they rage to the fort walls. Soreth makes a logical, but lacking in passion speech, but that does not sway the rioters either. The attack is brief, and with the help of the strangers, the rioters are repelled. The ladder brigade turns on Tondigo, refusing to pay him.
The next day, the group, minus the still sick Akura, sets off into the forest, making moderately slow progress. Borkan is a wily, intelligent leader who knows more about the area than he first let on. Supposedly, the Temple of Eedit is an old Jedi Temple, which is why the Empire bombed it. The area around it is dangerous, but more than just the predators worry him.
As evening falls, the group makes camp. The air electrifies with the Force. Each member of the group decides independently how to approach this charged atmosphere. Dosklen, Soreth, and Tondigo meditate calming the air. Ven, Asura, and Korr tap into the power. The atmosphere clears, but each has gained a new insight into the force with their actions.
The next day, coming over a hill, the gang feels the Force again. The Force is so heavy that it serves to mask the approach of six sabercats, split into two hunting packs. Barely in time, Asura sees them. Asura strikes at the leader with her whip, enabling Borkan to ready his rifle. He takes a quick, sure shot and kills one of the large predators. Dosklen, with his Trandoshian heritage and trained skills, quickly kills another, Ven damages another. The lead cat jumps onto a prominent rock and roars. As if grabbed by an invisible hand, Tondigo gets thrown over the hill and slides down the back side. He quickly runs back up the hill, leaping onto the back of the cat, attacking with his vibro-knuckler. Once again the lead sabercat roars, and this time Ven gets launched, straight into a tree, knocking the wind out of him.
As Borkan moves up the hill for a better vantage point to shoot the cats, he sees on a stone plinth, a red crystal hanging by a leather loop. Korr grabs the crystal and pushes the remaining sabercats to run away using the force. After a brief rest, the group moves on, climbing the ridges into the jungle.
They come to a valley that feels unnatural. It looks like a giant boulder thirty to forty meters wide crashed into the earth, creating a giant furrow running up the hillside. They follow furrow and find an old crashed shuttle that has been converted into a shelter. A cook house stands near the shuttle. On the other side of the hilltop, a valley opens up below. In its center is a ruin. Two tiny spires and a circular garden in the middle show clearly what the place used to be, but the place is ruined. From the shuttle doors, a voice rings out. “I’ve been expecting you.” A tall, slender Cerean, with a strip of cloth covering his eyes, stands in the entrance to the shelter: Jin-Do, Jedi Knight.