The gladiator match is plunged into darkness and the battle droid takes the opportunity of its opponenets blindness to drop a few stun grenades around. Trooper takes a full blast and is felled like Ethan. Although London is prepared to eneter the fray Psort decides discretion is the better part of valour and withdraws from the combat.
While Ethan and Trooper are recovering the team take part in some rather dull droid racing before retiring for the night.
When he is certain they are alone, TC-663 (who insists that the heroes call him Six Six) explains that in addition to serving as the Hutt’s translator, he also serves another master—a droid crime lord named Switch, who lives on Sel Zonn Station above the world of Brentaal. Six Six reveals that he has come to convey a small piece of information on Switch’s behalf. The droid tells the heroes that he has been monitoring communications leaving Darga’s palace, and it seems that someone has been transmitting information to the Empire while the Hutt sleeps, receiving instructions in return. Six Six has been sending these messages on to Switch, but the droid crime lord has been unable to break their encryption. Switch has ordered Six Six to turn the encrypted transmissions file over to the heroes and see what they can make of it. If the heroes are willing to share their findings with Six Six (who will share them with Switch), they can have the file at no charge. Londo manages to decrypt the file and retrieves the contents of the message. It reveals that late at night, the Hutt’s majordomo, Igren Demos, has been contacting an Imperial communications relay somewhere in the sector. The heroes cannot be certain who he is communicating with, but they know that Demos has been transmitting information about Darga’s dealings—particularly his slave trading—on a regular basis. The most recent communication specifically mentions that the slavers that Darga has been dealing with are unhappy with their merchandise. Additionally, several messages mention “the prisoner” but provide no further details.
The heroes head to the throne room to confront the major domo but are surprised to see a band of visitors arrive. Darga the Hutt has many contacts on many worlds, but few are as unsavory as a band of slavers known as the Iron Ring. These slavers are small-time—at least, compared to some of the more dangerous slaving rings in the galaxy—but what they lack in influence, they make up for in zeal. Most of the Iron Ring’s jurisdiction is on former Confederate worlds ravaged by the Clone Wars, where the Empire’s influence is minimal. Cato Neimoidia is one of their many planets of operation. A delegation from the Iron Ring comes to Darga’s palace during the heroes’ stay there, and the slavers are not happy. The delegation consists of three tough-looking Humans, a Rodian with a large blaster rifle, a black-furred Wookiee, and a scarred Zabrak leading two Twi’lek slaves by their collars.
They arrive seemingly unannounced, and as the audience chamber falls silent, it becomes apparent that Darga is less than pleased to see them. Taking up space in the middle of the chamber, the slavers offer everyone in the room, including the Hutt, a hard glare. After Darga spurts out a question in Huttese (“What are you doing here?”), the Zabrak steps forward and spits on the floor before speaking in heavily accented Basic.“The slaves you have been selling us are worthless, Darga! They have been dying before we can even get them to market. They are used up—second-rate! I want my credits back for the last four shipments!”
Darga lets out a low, rumbling laugh that sounds sinister even for the gluttonous Hutt. He rolls his eyes toward the heroes, utters a side remark (“See what ungrateful business partners I have?”) and then gives the slavers an angry response, translated by his protocol droid. The crime lord tells them that they have had the same business agreement for years now and that he is not responsible if they don’t know how to take care of their own product. He says that if they do not apologize and leave, he will have no choice but to dispose of them.
During the discussion, Londo notices that one of the delegation’s Twi’lek slaves is more than she appears. As a servant enters the throne room with a large goblet of wine for the crime lord, Londo notices the Twi’lek slave surreptitiously dropping a powdery substance into the goblet as the servant passes by. He reveals the Twi’lek’s guilt and Darga becomes enraged and threatens to throw the slavers in the dungeons. The Zabrak leader immediately withdraws his request for a new deal and apologizes profusely. Though he convinces Darga that the slave was acting of her own accord, the Hutt remains furious and declares the discussion over.
Poking around the residence level of the palace, Londo charms his way into the appartment of Gome, Darga’s money changer. Gome resides in a small apartment just off of the guest quarters, which serves as both his home and his work space. The Duros has little daily contact with anyone other than the servants who bring him food and drink, so when the Londo shows up at his door, he is more than a bit surprised. Londo chats to Gome about Neimodean opera and then lulls the old man into talking about Darga. Gome knows the following: At the conclusion of the Clone Wars, Darga took over a Tibanna gas smuggling ring after its leader was slain by Separatist mercenaries. Since that time, he has managed to increase the amount of Tibanna gas that is being smuggled away from its normal channels, and the smuggling ring has proven to be his most profitable venture, even ahead of his slave trading. The Empire approached Darga a few months ago with an interest in obtaining some of his Tibanna gas supplies off the record—though Gome recalls that they threatened to bring down the Hutt’s crime syndicate if he didn’t play nicely. Since then, Darga has been funneling every canister of Tibanna gas to the Empire for a secret project. The gas, which is refined on the planet Bespin, is loaded into large starships and handed over to the Empire in the space above that world. In return, Darga receives some kind of goods (Gome does not know what), and their transaction is ended.
Late in the evening, the guest quarters of Darga’s palace are quiet and peaceful. Small lights faintly illuminate the common area of the guest wing, and a stillness permeates the area, as though the building itself were in a deep sleep. Only the occasional shuffle of a servant’s footsteps breaks the silence of the night. And the party are subject to an assassination attempt.
Londo wakes to find three Quarren in his room wieleding knives. These slender Quarren wear gray overlapping robes. Eyes closed to menacing slits, the Quarren seem to radiate danger as they prepares to stab down.
Psort is jolted awake as the poison blade plunges into his chest.Though she might have been beautiful once, this young, greenskinned Twi’lek woman looks like she has seen her fair share of hard times, and now she seems more worn down than youthful. However, her face is hard and her eyes cold, and there is a distinct air of hatred around her.
Karth’s relexes and paranoia save him. Sitting up late in his room, he snaps from a doze to find the Wookie slaver entering. This towering Wookiee warrior seems to ooze malice and hatred. Hisnmatted black fur has been burned or slashed in some places, giving it an uneven look, and a permanent snarl seems to grace his lips. He wears battle armor and has a bowcaster slung over his shoulder, and his narrowed eyes seem to be looking for a fight.
The fight is a hard one but luck is on the three heroes’ side and they best their assassins. Before they can investigate further
Sortly after this encounter, three people are ushered into Darga’s audience chamber: two men and one woman. Though none of them is wearing any kind of Imperial uniform, whispers of “Imperial agents” ripple through the court. The two men are dressed in basic labourer’s clothing, and their eyes scan the room as if they expect an attack at any moment. The woman is also simply dressed, but it is clear from her bearing that she considers herself well above this assignment. The heroes notice that each of the men carries an identical blaster carbine, and in fact the two men could be twins, other than a few small differences, such as the placement of scars.
Darga summons the heroes close and quietly explains that he expects the Empire to try to double-cross him. Deals with the Empire have great potential rewards, he says, but one must always be careful when negotiating with such powerful allies. He implores the heroes to watch the proceedings and help him retain the upper hand in negotiations. He asks them to wait off to one side while he deals with the Imperial agent. When she arrives, flanked by her two guards, Darga rolls his eyes meaningfully in the heroes’ direction and then greets the newcomers (“Always a pleasure to serve the Empire! What can I do for you today?”). Neither the agent nor her guards seem to notice the Hutt’s glance toward the heroes. The Imperial liaison wastes no time and launches into a spiel about the transfer of Tibanna gas from Darga’s holdings to the Empire. She insists that while Darga’s supplies have been sufficient thus far, the Empire needs him to step up his production of refined Tibanna gas immediately. Darga has been shipping the gas (which is used in producing blaster and turbolaser bolts) to the Empire in substantial quantities, and now they want more. The liaison offers the Hutt an 80% increase in payments for a 100% increase in output, claiming that it is more than fair since he will be making more money overall. Additionally, she makes two other propositions. First, the Empire is willing to offer a further 20% increase in payments if the Hutt accepts the increase in “biological” resources. Second, the liaison offers to provide Darga with a personal Imperial security retinue as a sign of their continued good faith. The Hutt would have an Imperial regiment stationed in the city of Zarra, and a flight of Imperial starfighters would escort him when traveling off-world.
At this point, Darga turns to the heroes for advice. The heroes offer him good advice about not letting the Empire to far into his operation and Darga is pleased with their advice.
The heroes additionally recognise the liaison as someone they spotted in the halls of Organa’s palace on Alderaan.