After a successful return from Nal Hutta, Gamma Flight spends the next two weeks on routine missions: escorting freighters, patrolling vulnerable systems, reconnaissance, etc. With Torga remaining in cryogenic stasis, Stavros away on a med-ship for an undisclosed illness, and Kero away at a conference on immunology, Gamma Flight is operating far short of its normal compliment of pilots. Replacements will no doubt be transferring into Mynock Squadron in the near future.
For Ensign Waric Vigil, Private Keth DeSoult, and Private Tazo-Rhi, however, duty calls. Lt. Tuvolo explains during a briefing that Gamma Flight's next mission should be "a real gimme." He explains that the New Republic is trying to demonstrate its stability and value as an ally and tourist destination for independent systems that remain reluctant to join so soon after throwing off the dominance of the Empire. To that end, the New Republic Ministry of Commerce has begun buying and recommissioning older ships as cruise and entertainment vessels to lure investors. Tuvolo explains, however, that one such ship, The Guiding Heart, has a history of strange problems and that the Ministry of Commerce has requested expert military assistance to make sure it is safe and spaceworthy.
The three Mynocks are ferried to the surface of the planet Sellia. There, in a grassy field, they meet their liaison with the Ministry of Commerce, a New Republic Intelligence agent who is on secondment. The agent, an Iktotchi woman named Marress, explains that The Guiding Heart was built almost two decades ago, but the night before its maiden voyage, the builder (Frick Tunbuk) and his family were brutally murdered by unknown assailant(s). Ever since, Marress says, anyone who has bought The Guiding Heart and tried to put it in service has abandoned it within days due to strange malfunctions, unexplainable phenomena, and emotional distress. Gamma Flight's task, then, is to prove that the vessel is safe for operation.
After a comm signal from Marress, a long starship with segmented compartments appears on the horizon and lands nearby. A pilot emerges and introduces himself as Harod Mercre, a former business partner of Frick and executor of his estate. Mercre gives Marress and the Mynocks a brief tour of the vessel. The interior is beautiful and luxurious, with only the most exquisite materials used in construction. Dining rooms, a library, and multiple guest suites obviously make the vessel ideal for long interstellar voyages. A couple of the rooms are decorated with antique weapons and droids from the Clone Wars, which were just ending as the ship was built. Mercre also explains where the body of each member of the Tunbuk family was found.
After the tour, Tazo-Rhi calmly explains to all present her theory, which is pure speculation, that Mercre has secretly installed equipment in the ship to scare off owners by making them believe it is "haunted." Mercre is quite affronted, and Waric is forced to remind Tazo-Rhi that humans find such statements quite offensive. Mercre returns to the cockpit and Marress begins meditating in one of the chambers in the hopes that, as an Ikotchi, her telepathic abilities will allow her to communicate with any spiritual manifestations of the Force that may be present. The three Mynocks start a room by room troubleshooting search. Tazo-Rhi and Keth begin in the vessel's control room; they bicker over the correct setting for the temperature and moisture controls. Waric, meanwhile, decides to examine the antique droids; he's able to pull up data from one of the droid's visual processors and sees footage of a woman covered in blood and pleading for help on the same date the Tunbuk family were murdered. But when Waric goes to review the footage, it has disappeared!
Seemingly unprompted, Tazo-Rhi suddenly grabs Keth roughly and accuses him of conspiring with the other Mynocks to make her look bad in front of Tuvolo. She says that although she barely made it into the squadron, as least she made it on her own as opposed to Keth who only made it because he fell into the right crowd of friends who worked together. Keth, for his part, thinks he sees Tazo-Rhi with a knife and tries to knock it away. The two struggle until Waric arrives and orders them to stand down. Waric removes the blaster packs from their weapons and tells them to focus on the mission. Tazo-Rhi suddenly seems to realize how she's been acting and apologizes profusely to Keth.
Realizing that his subordinates are somehow being psychologically affected, Waric heads to the cockpit and orders Mercre to land the ship. Meanwhile, Tazo-Rhi and Keth hear a strange noise coming from the vessel's aft section and split up to investigate. Tazo-Rhi hallucinates that Frick Tunbuk is in the corridor, and that someone is shooting at him. Keth, for his part, hallucinates that someone is strangling him. Keth stumbles out into the corridor only to collide with Waric, who has also suffered some strange phenomena. The ship lands, and Mercre and Marress join the Mynocks to talk about what to do next.
After Tazo-Rhi explains what she saw, she catches Mercre in a lie about his whereabouts on the night of the murders and accuses Mercre of having been in love with Frick Tunbuk's wife. Instead of denying it, Mercre takes a small control device out of his pocket and activates it. Suddenly, the antique droids spring into action and begin attacking! Mercre sprints out of the room and shuts doors behind him, heading for the cockpit.
A firefight breaks out in the dining room, but there's a major complication: the Mynocks don't have power packs in their sidearms because Waric seized them! Tazo-Rhi leaps into a refresher for cover as the droids open fire, while Keth tries to dive under a table but stumbles and crashes into it! Waric throws blaster packs to them and then tries to reprogram a B-2 battle droid that is actively trying to kill him! The Mynocks hear the sound of the engines firing up, and realize that Mercre has reached the cockpit and is taking the ship up.
Tazo-Rhi and Keth try to blast their way out of the room so that someone can reach the cockpit and seize Mercre's remote control, but they only make it to an adjoining room before Tazo-Rhi takes a bolt in the chest and barely manages to crawl behind a bar before collapsing. With Keth and Marress pinned down, all hopes rest on Waric, but just as he's about to succeed in reprogramming one of the droids to assist him, a blaster bolt slams into him and knocks him to death's door. The ship begins to accelerate, faster and faster, and then suddenly, instead of feeling the pressure of climbing upward, the Mynocks find themselves having the sensation of falling. Mercre has uncoupled the aft segments of the vessel and left everyone to plummet to their deaths!
The droids automatically deactivate as they fall outside the range of Mercre's control signal, but now only seconds remain until Gamma Flight's existence comes to a smashing conclusion!
Director's Commentary (October 28, 2016)
Another guest session, this one directed by the player who normally ran Kero. The fun of guest sessions is that you can get very off-beat, unusual stories, and this fit the bill. It was fun to see Mynock Squadron get a mission very different than the military combat ones they had experienced to date.
The effects the hauntings had on the characters was really fun. I played Tazo-Rhi, and when suddenly directed to play her angry to point of violence, it felt great to say something that the character thought was true: that she deserved to be in Mynock Squadron far more than Keth. Sometimes, secrets/revelations like that don't come out unless the characters get a push.
The firefight was a damn tough one! But it was also quite exciting, starting as it did without two of the PCs having power packs for their blasters. I think we took quite more of a beating than the guest director expected, which in turn made the fantastic cliff-hangar that much more exciting.