The group landed on Sestan. Mik-suul, Alrik, Navik, and Sven decided to make contact with the indigenous tribes while the others decided to do something else for a while. It wasn’t long before the four found a Morna named Tep, an expert hunter and tracker who offered to lead the group back to his village. There, the group received the hospitality of the tribe, who were cautiously generous, giving the four supplies and a hut to stay in. The village itself was half-underground, a circle of rock-supported dugouts in mounds built amid the giant trees. The hut was in one of those mounds, and there the four settled in. They spoke with Tep again, who explained,
“It has been three moons since the other off-worlders arrived here. They have not done anything done us any harm yet. The forests are deep and the grasslands are broad, and there is room enough for all of us here, so we have not had much trouble with them.”
The group pressed him; Navik and Alrik were particularly insistent that the Separatists would sooner or later turn against the Morna, particularly if the war came to Sestan. At last, Tep told them of one thing that concerned him:
“During the growth of the last moon, off-worlders came to our village and took our poet/philosophers with them. The off-worlders say that it is to allow them to better communicate with us, so that there will be no misunderstanding and violence, but we haven’t heard much from them, and we are concerned about what might happen to them.”
The four were quick to surmise that the Separatists had taken prisoners to safeguard against a Morna uprising. Although they were a little confused why the Seps would take philosophers and poets, they correctly surmised that these people had positions of high honor among the tribal Morna.
They managed to talk Tep into leading them to the camp where the poet/philosophers were being held. Navik stayed behind at first, and, although Alrik managed to cut through the side of the building where the Morna were being held, the shootout with guards on the watchtowers proved very dangerous to the group. By the time Navik rushed in to help pull his friends out of the fight, the other three were unconscious. The Morna were freed, and a group of Morna arrived to take them back to the village, bringing the unconscious warriors with them. Navik, the last one left conscious, was the hero of the day, although it must be said that Sven did get in one amazing shot against one of the guards on the tower.
The group learned an important thing: it seemed that Sestan was manned not by battle droids, but by humans. A single low-quality Droideka was the extent of the droid presence at the camp. Although there were no doubt more (and more dangerous) droids on the planet, armored humanoids seemed to make up the bulk of the Seps.
Back at the Morna camp, the four recovered from their injuries. Tep came into their hut after they were rested, and introduced the other two with them: a female (the only difference was in the voice) and a gray-haired elder.
“These are Siv and Mek. Siv is a gifted healer; it was through her help that you were brought back to health. She is also a gifted poet. Mek is one of the oldest and the wisest among us; his poems and wisdom are known throughout the continent.”
The Morna invited the four to a gathering. They met in the largest hut, the stars shining down through a circular hole in the ceiling above ground. It was cool and dark, and damp from the rich earth that surrounded them. The Morna philosopher-poets proved to be the leaders of the furry humanoids, who valued rhetoric and poetry above power or gain.
The Morna leaders were divided. Siv and some of the younger Morna, including Tep, agreed with the four that it was only a matter of time before the Separatists started harming the Morna, and that with every passing day the Morna were allowing the Separatists to become better fortified on their planet even as the Morna were scattered by their growing presence. Others, including Mek, argued that the Separatists hadn’t done themm any harm, and would no doubt leave as soon as the war was over, or even once the campaign zone shifted away.
Alrik proposed that the group would find proof of the Sep plans, and soon Mik-suul came up with a cunning plan: he would pose as a noble in order to gain Separatist uniforms for himself and the others.
His deception worked well. They attacked a scout outpost, where they got three speederbikes and four uniforms, one of them singed through the chest where Sven shot the one of the scouts dead before forcing the rest to throw down their weapons. The group learned that the soldiers were mostly from volunteers from the arid planet of Dammasc, and they believed strongly in independence and freedom from a government they saw as out of touch and unfairly meddling with them and taxing them while giving them little to show for it.
The group prepared for their mission to retrieve some proof of the Separatist plans to sway the Morna to the Republic cause. Mik-suul used a sniper’s camouflage netting to disguise the burn on his disguise, and the group went to the local base of the Separatists: a sprawling series of steel installations in the hollow of a tall cliff. They crossed a grassy plain on their bikes, then headed into the main building. The guards there were mostly fooled by their uniforms, and even allowed the group access to their computers.
That’s where things got complicated. Although Alrik, Sven, Mik-suul, and Navik all had a turn, none of them could hack into the computer; they just didn’t have the talent. The guards outside were getting impatient: “What’s going on in there? You should have already sent off those messages home. We’ve got things to do, you know,” said one of the guards.
“We’re looking at girls on the Holonet,” blurted out Alrik. “Just give us a few more minutes. Come on, man, you know how it is.”
In desperation, Alrik used his lightsaber to slice out components from the computer, which Sven disassembled. Sven then put the computer back together and shoved it back in; it wasn’t pretty, but it would hopefully last long enough for the group to get out of Dodge (so to speak). They rushed as quickly as they could through the corridors back to their speeders.
“Hey! You there! Stop!” called a Separatist soldier. The damaged computer had been discovered.
Mik-suul jumped on his bike and ran while the running was good, leaving the other three to twist. They managed to avoid the hail of blaster fire from all around them, but one of their speeders was damaged. They stopped to repair it in the jungle; they had a brief confrontation with a local monster, its mouth full of fangs, but they fought it off together. Sven got the bike cobbled together, and they managed to limp back to the Morna.
Alrik patched the computer parts they had brought with them into his datapad, but the information wasn’t very helpful: the Separatists did have a plan for killing the Morna, but it was only a contingency plan in case the Morna got ‘agitated.’ The group played down the latter point as they presented the information to the Morna.
The Morna looked grave. Finally, gray-furred old Mek stepped forward, and said, “We will go to council in the ancient gathering place, and we will call the tribes of the whole region together there. You will make your case to the poets and philosophers then. I suggest you brush up your poetry and philosophy as you prepare what you are going to say.”
With that, Tep, Mek, and Siv, along with several of the hunters from the tribe, set out with the group for the gathering place.