After safely returning planetside after their final exercise in space, the recruits are told they have a few hours to relax and get changed into dress uniforms before a commencement ceremony will begin. Stavros compliments his wingman Szo-Dano on her performance, and even manages to appease the clearly seething Torgo. Kero spends a few minutes chatting with Gatara, and hears how the female Ewok couldn't wait to join the New Republic after witnessing the clash of starfighters over Endor. Kero inquires as to whether Gatara had faced any discrimination for being female and then makes a point of getting a group holopic of the female recruits. Meanwhile, Waric seeks out the base's maintenance droid, UR-90, and asks it whether it likes doing maintenance and whether it wants to be free. The droid is unable to process the questions.
The commencement ceremony begins with a brief speech by Major Dei, thanking the recruits for their effort and promising that, even if they don't make it into Mynock Squadron, they have bright futures in the New Republic military. He then reads the final leaderboard scores:
Kero & Waric: 75
Torgo & Szo-Dano: 46
The Cerean Tazo-Rhi seems stunned that she made the cut, and Torga looks sympathetic, but not surprised, that her brother did not. Major Dei then proceeds to award Torgo, Torga, Stavros, Waric, Kero, and the mysteriously absent Keth with the Superior Service Medal for "excellent performance while on duty in helping to uncover and capture the spy and saboteur Moldva Vanir." Stavros and Waric are promoted to Ensign, while Kero is promoted to Warrant Officer.
After the ceremony, Stavros teases Kero on her new, higher rank. The recruits discuss what could have happened to Keth, and learn that search parties are being formed to look for him. Stavros, Kero, and Waric receive authorization to take a landspeeder and return to Vanir's hidden cave on the theory that Keth may have returned there for some reason. Waric expertly pilots the landspeeder at high speeds through some very treacherous terrain, but a search of the cave turns up little of interest.
But on the return trip, despite darkness having fallen, Waric's prosthetic eye spots a small bundle laying against a boulder: it's Keth! The Zabrak recruit is clearly dehydrated and moans incoherently about the need to stop Vanir and warn the base. Kero is forced to sedate him as he struggles violently when they try to help him. Her analysis of his injuries and symptoms leads her to believe that Keth may have suffered a serious concussion from the explosion of the charge he hurled away during the fight with Vanir, and that that concussion left him increasingly confused about reality. The recruits hurry Keth back to base for treatment.
The next day, the recruits who successfully auditioned for Mynock Squadron, including the unconscious Keth, are taken via shuttle to a recently commissioned Mon Calamari cruiser named the New Dawn. They are told that while the other members of the Squadron are on maneuvers, they'll have a few days to orient themselves aboard ship. During this time, Kero keeps a close eye on Keth's condition and checks in on Torga, Waric offers Tazo-Rhi some additional instruction in the sims to help ameliorate her anxiety, and Stavros makes a nice haul gambling with crew who will be far more guarded in the future.
Two days into their stay on the New Dawn, the new members of Mynock Squadron are suddenly summoned to Deck 5, Corridor C. There, they see the ship's captain approach with an entourage of staff. The captain is giving a host of orders as he strides quickly through the corridor, and it's clear the ship is being readied for hyperspace and a potential battle. When he spots the pilots, he tells them that the New Dawn is headed to protect Kuat from an Imperial splinter fleet, but that the New Republic Intelligence Service is demanding action on a trivial matter. He says that Mynock Squadron will have to handle it and he delegates a new officer to brief them.
The officer, a ginger-haired Lt. Bruddles, offers a confusing and scattershot mission briefing. On the planet Nishr in the Outer Rim, a New Republic agent has infiltrated a pirate group known as the Nishian Independent Force. The NIF is allied with the former Imperial Governor of Nishr who has declared the planet independent and under his control. The agent, known only by his current alias as "Kors Tanzent", has sent a coded short-burst transmission requesting immediate extraction. Bruddles says that he quickly scoured the relevant field reports and intelligence data to come up with the following plan: Mynock Squadron must force down an NIF freighter that makes periodic supply runs from the pirate group's asteroid base to the city Drushar and back. If the group can intercept the freighter while in the atmosphere, the Squad can then board the freighter and rescue Tanzent. Because of the limited time and lack of EVA boarding equipment, the freighter can not be taken once it reaches space. Bruddles says that intel reports the supply freighter is escorted by a few TYE-Wing "uglies", but that they should pose little challenge to elite pilots like those in Mynock Squadron.
After the hurried briefing, Mynock leads the group to the armoury so that they can requisition the equipment they need, and then to the hangar where they see a trio of old Y-Wings. "It's all we had available," shrugs Bruddles. Kero takes command and leads the three Y-Wings out of the hangar, with Waric taking a moment to make a flashy maneuver. "Great kid," says Stavros, "but don't get cocky!"
Director's Commentary (January 30, 2016)
The big thing this session, and the culmination of the first big story-arc, was the release of the final Leaderboard tallies. I was serious that only the top six scores would make the cut, and I played it straight with no special bias for PCs over NPCs. Still, apart from Keth (who squeaked in), all of the PCs made it in handedly. It was fun for me to see which of the NPC recruits would make it into the squadron and assume a much bigger role in the game. Tazo-Rhi was a big surprise, but I liked the character and developed her along a Vulcan sort-of personality. Torga was a bit harder, but we'll see in a few sessions that something ends up taking her off screen.
We also got to see the first use of the Rank & Privilege rules put into place, another one of the rules subsets that I was looking forward to using and perfect for a military campaign. Kero's player was quite focussed on being an outstanding soldier by formal measures, and ended up getting command of the Squadron. She'd keep this role throughout the campaign, though occasionally giving way to Waric on some missions where his Imperial background gave him an edge. Keth always languished near the bottom, and barely rose above Private the whole campaign. The interesting thing about the Rank & Privilege system is that higher ranks gave characters special abilities they could use (like calling in an air strike or giving a subordinate an extra move action once an encounter). The system also tied in nicely to the Requisitions rules subset which saw its first appearance in this session. This system worked really well for the campaign as well, because the group had to work together to decide what sort of weapons, gear, and vehicles they needed for each story arc within a limited budget. This meant that, unlike a traditional adventuring party, the group didn't end up relying on a single set of gear but could better prep to different types of missions and take advantage of some tactical planning. Just like good soldiers ought!
The whole bit with Keth being AWOL and then suffering from concussion symptoms was one of those off-the-cuff improvs that directors sometimes have to make, as the player was late to the session.
|Stavros tops the Leaderboard|
In retrospect, I should have done a lot more prep on the gambling rules and did a better job with a gambling encounter for Stavros, as that was a major theme of his character. Unfortunately, the player only stayed in the campaign a few more sessions. His last line at the end of the session was a good one, as I had made a House Rule that PCs who naturally integrate a well-known line from the movies into role-playing would get a Force Point (but each line could only be used once).
The idea with having the PCs start off with Y-Wings was part of the traditional notion that they'll start off at the bottom with the clunky, outmoded vehicles and then slowly work their way up to the good stuff during the course of the campaign. The idea for the TIE-Uglies comes from some of the Rogue Squadron novels, and they represent vehicles that are even easier to shoot down then standard TIEs.
All in all, I was pretty happy with the first story arc and looking forward (though nervous) about getting the group on to actual missions.