Warrant Officer Kero orders Gamma Flight into space, intending to head towards the secret Imperial research base concealed in the asteroid belt around Nishr. During the journey, however, orders are received from the New Republic Intelligence Service (NRIS) liason in the fleet sent to Kuat: "Message received. New Dawn destroyed. Maintain position. Evade Detection. Update Sit-Rep." Kero sets about preparing a situation report and tells the others to formulate a battle plan if Mynock is asked to destroy the base. Waric suggests hit & run tactics, while Torga says they should have interrogated a captured pirate to get a better sense of the number of defenders they may be up against. She raises again the proposal that she be commander during any ground assault, but Stavros tells her she should focus on following orders.
While the discussion continues, two transmissions are received in short order. General Cracken, director of NRIS, instructs Mynock Squadron to proceed to destroy the base in order to stop the spread of the mysterious plague. However, the Disease Response Unit (DRU) of the New Republic Department of Health transmits conflicting orders, stating that the base must be secured as information about a potential cure for the disease is likely to be stored there. Neither authority has line command for Mynock Squadron (which is part of Starfighter Command), and the group is left uncertain how to proceed. Stavros suggests that, while waiting for the Provisional Council to resolve the dispute, the Squadron should proceed into the asteroid field and scout the defences around the base. The proposal is accepted.
With Stavros piloting and Kero in the turret, the first Y-Wing enters the dense asteroid field. The way through appears treacherous, as asteroids both large and small move through quickly at seemingly random vectors, but Stavros manages to destroy any asteroids that get too close and the starfighter makes it through. Torga, flying solo, tries to follow Gamma Leader through the asteroid field but finds that even with constant attention, her vessel's shields are weakening too quickly. Kero orders her to abandon the attempt, at least for now.
Meanwhile, Waric examines some of the information downloaded from the Nishr Independence Force freighter. He's able to get a rough tally of the number of NIF members left aboard the base, but a file labelled "Access" is password protected and guarded by a subroutine that will destroy the file on three consecutive incorrect entries. Waric decides not to press his luck. When Keth and Waric try to fly through the asteroid field, a combination of poor aim and knowledge of shield modulation dooms the attempt. The vessel is forced to crash land on a huge asteroid and engage its magnetic couplers so that repairs can be attempted. Waric jokes with Keth that, if anyone asks, it was Darth Vader's fault. The duo go EVA to fix the Y-Wing's damaged repulsors and maneuvering thrusters, but the repairs take some time.
Upon hearing that Waric and Keth have "encountered technical difficulties," Kero and Stavros decide to approach the base on their own. As they fly closer to the base (embedded in the side of a massive asteroid), they suddenly receive an encrypted Imperial transmission but fail to decode it. Exactly sixty seconds later, automated defences activate: blaster cannons and drone snubfighters hidden in surrounding asteroids. Stavros lures one of the drones into a dogfight and quickly shoots it down, while Kero destroys the other with a well-placed proton torpedo. The embedded blaster cannons have difficulty tracking the evasive maneuvers Stavros puts the Y-Wing through, and Kero destroys the defences with several additional proton torpedos.
Having finished patchy repairs, Waric and Keth decide to try to navigate the field again. This attempt fares no better, however, and the duo decide to retreat before the damage becomes cataclysmic. Stavros sends them an update on the successful battle outside the base, and Waric jokingly responds that he and Keth's progress was delayed by the need to dogfight a TIE-Advance.
Stavros broadcasts a message to the base, telling its defenders that they should surrender and receive medical treatment. No response is forthcoming. A careful fly-by and sensor-scan of the base reveals two small exhaust ports near the rear of the base. Stavros suggests sending the Y-Wing's astromech droid into the ventilation system as a scout. However, the droid stops transmitting some minutes after entering the facility. Kero sends a new sit-rep to Starfighter Command, NRIS, and DRU: "Outer defences eliminated. Cautious investigation. Base unresponsive."
Waric and Keth try to navigate the field for a third time. The Y-Wing is heavily damaged in the failed attempt, and left slowly drifting through space. Once again, hours-long emergency EVA repairs are necessary to get the vessel operational.
Waric proposes a dangerous new plan: the Y-Wing will "push" a massive asteroid through the field to clear a path, and then follow in its wake. In a vessel barely holding together, the scheme is both clever and potentially fatal.
As Waric and Keth start to put this plan into motion, Kero and Stavros face a new complication: the massive hangar doors of the base have opened, and multiple starships are emerging . . .
Director's Commentary (July 1, 2016)
|Even cybernetic enhancements couldn't get Waric through the asteroid field!|
Making through the asteroid field was done as a "skill challenge" under the Saga Edition rules. There were a variety of methods the group could choose to use. As you saw, the first ship made it through incredibly easy, but another just couldn't get through despite repeated tries! It was both comical and exciting.
Overall, I was pretty happy with this session. The asteroid field definitely made this base a difficult thing to reach, and it ended on a good cliffhanger.