On the approach to Rannon, Renci shares what little she was able to find out about the obscure, sparsely populated world. It was only settled in the past hundred or so years, and it is believed to have just some agriculture and mining. Indeed, settlements are barely detectable from the air. The mountain range Renci wants to investigate does have a small village in the hills near its base. With no good places to land a ship on the mountain itself, Renn sets the Resolve down in a field near the town, though that word might be a bit of a stretch. Compared to this place, New Meen is a bustling city.
A palisade surrounds the ramshackle cluster of buildings. Given that level of protection, Renn and Renci decide to leave their guns on the ship in order to appear less threatening. They just bring their knives, considering them to be entirely reasonable to carry in this environment. Renn does not even bother to grab his backpack.
As they head toward the gate built into the wooden wall, they notice a Rodian concealed atop it, watching them. They haul up short as he lets off a warning shot in their direction with a beat-up slugthrower. “Stop, don’t come any closer!”
Renci ducks back from the kicked-up dirt, muttering, “Can’t catch a break out here!”
Renn stands there, unruffled. “We’re not lookin’ fer trouble, just information,” he calls out over the distance. “We’ve got news from off-planet, if yer interested. And ya look like ya might have some equipment that needs maintainin’, that we could help with.”
“So you’re looking to barter?” the guard asks. “All right, you can come in, but we’re going to search you.”
Renn nods and heads toward the opening gate with Renci. They enter the compound and do not resist the patdown, having nothing to conceal. The guard goes through Renci’s backpack but does not take issue with her datapad or medical supplies. Although the settlement is very roughly put together, the inhabitants do not seem to have a problem with technology, just a lack of interest in it. Renci looks around, hoping to see some sort of ground vehicle they could borrow or rent, but there are no electronics visible at all. Well, that certainly helps protect the village from orbital detection, she reflects.
Renn focuses more on observing the few dozen settlers, a mix of humans and Rodians, who have come out to see what is going on. The gate guard is a bit aggressive, but that is to be expected. Other villagers, though, are eyeing him and Renci nervously, frightened of something.
Satisfied that the newcomers do not have anything dangerous on them, the guard steps back and calls over his shoulder to a man striding up, “Forsaken’s got some visitors from offworld, Zapal.”
The middle-aged human cuts right to the chase. “Are you Imperials?”
“Absolutely not,” Renci immediately answers. “We hate the Empire. We’re all on the same page here, right?”
Zapal nods, but Renn is still trying to gauge what is causing the mood of the crowd. “Are ya’ havin’ trouble with them?” he asks. “Are they around?”
“No, no recent trouble,” Zapal replies. “Why do you think we’re out here? The rest of the galaxy isn’t safe. This is the only safe place. So… are you on the run? What are you doing here?”
“No… we’re looking to check out the mountain range… doing a little prospecting…” Renci claims.
Zapal looks at her suspiciously. He starts pressing her for details, prodding her with questions to see how much she knows about mining. Renci does her best off the top of her head, pulling from her knowledge of metallurgy. She claims that the surveys of this planet are a bit out of date, but she thought there might be something useful out here.
“Are you looking to run a small operation or to bring in a big corporation?” Zapal pushes up his sleeves and hooks his thumbs in his belt. “We don’t want Imperial attention here,” he insists.
Renn watches Zapal closely during the exchange, trying to get a read on how well he is buying the answers. Renci explains that she is looking to start small but might potentially expand, if the veins look good. Zapal keeps a level expression, but with his change in posture, Renn notices something on the man’s forearm: a unit tattoo, probably the 84th. It is inked over sloppily in a way that looks done with whatever was on hand and not by a professional.
Renn does not want to horn in on Renci’s conversation, but this information is pertinent. If she knows this man is unhappy about his former Imperial service, it gives her something to fall back on in case this mining cover does not hold up. He folds his arms and taps on his left pec, where his own unit tattoo is, casually playing with his necklace to disguise the gesture. That first day at Blue Spring Lodge, Renn was the last one to come out to the hot spring. His own re-inking was fresh then, and multiple people lounging about in their bathing suits commented on it, so he hopes Renci will remember and clue in.
Renci gets the message and looks more closely at the leader’s tattoo, trying to think of how to use that he is a disgruntled ex-Imperial. However, some of the onlookers notice that Renn is signalling Renci about something and freak out. They are on edge with these off-worlders around, and they know the Empire likes to swoop in and strip planets of their resources. Some draw slugthrowers, shouting, “They’re Imps! They’re Imps!”
Renci holds up a hand and says, “Whoa, whoa! We’re not Imps.” She reaches across her jacket and reveals her hidden Rebel patch, turning so everyone can see it. “Settle down.”
Renn stays focused on Zapal, directing his comments at the leader. “Like ya, I’ve had personal experience with them, and we don’ support what they’re doin’.”
Renci feels a little anxious, having openly revealed her affiliation, but the guns are lowering, and people seem actually relieved to have a Rebel here. “Let me level with you,” she says. “I’m scouting out locations for Rebel bases, not to attract Imperial attention, but to store materiel and personnel. You know, like caves big enough to hold X-Wings. With the Empire, you can either fight, run, or hide. We are not looking to bring the fighting here.”
For Renn, hiding is the current choice. He speaks up to make sure the settlers understand Renci is not judging them. “We definitely understand that ya may have come here ta hide from th’Empire, and that’s a legitimate approach ta dealin’ with them. We’re not lookin’ ta pressure ya.” He shoots a questioning glance at Renci. Right?
Renci nods in agreement and tells them she respects the settlement’s rights; if this is not the sort of thing they want on their doorstep, she will go. There is some murmuring among the crowd, and Zapal calls the heads of families together for discussion. They reach an agreement, that the townsfolk are fine with the off-worlders scouting out the mountains to investigate if there are cave systems that fit their needs.
There are certainly no places to land the Resolve up on the mountain, and hiking would make this a weeks-long project. Plus, Renn is still wondering about the palisade. Traveling on foot might be unnecessarily dangerous. “Ya clearly don’t have any speeders around here. Is there some local animal ya’ ride?”
They have no domesticated mounts, but the villagers give a recommendation for a local wild animal, a flyer they call the azurdactyl, that could serve that purpose. They have so far had no need of it, since they are content to farm in the lowlands, but it could be helpful for getting up the mountain. The townsfolk explain how to reach where the azurdactyls nest close to the base of the cliffs.
Credits are useless in an isolated settlement like this, so they make the offer of servicing the town’s guns in exchange for whatever climbing gear is available. Renci sets to work using Renn’s slugthrower maintenance kit while he preps the gear. After his falls free climbing on Gesaril, he wants to minimize the risks here. Renci chats with some of the watching teenagers as she works, telling them that a few years ago she did not know how to take care of slugthrowers so well, but she has gotten some good training from the Rebellion since.