Gamma Flight’s Y-Wings touch down a few kilometers from the detention center, just before dawn. Trill and Max begin their trek towards the base on foot, Keth and Tazo-Rhi share a Y-Wing to provide air cover, and Kero and Waric prepare a pair of missile launchers. Kero comms Marrass and tells her to take cover, as a bombardment will begin shortly. Marrass confirms that she and the political prisoners are all in the same cell block.
The battle begins with a streaking missile fired by Kero impacting the camp’s southwest tower. Waric takes aim at the southeast tower, but the missile is defective and flies just a few feet before exploding in mid-air! Waric is burned badly, and the portion of his face that is not already covered by a prosthetic metal shell is scarred. However, the Zabrak is hardy enough to continue with the mission after the wound is field-dressed. Kero finishes the first stage of the plan by calling in mortar strikes from Nishrian rebels hidden nearby.
Although the southeast tower is still standing, Trill is a crack shot with her sniper rifle and downs the guards before they can fire back with the tower’s E-web turrets. Under Trill’s watchful eyes, Max advances towards the fenceline, waiting only for an opening to be blasted into it by another missile fired by Kero.
The DuraSun mercenaries are caught flat-footed by the sudden bombardment, and are slow to respond. With Keth piloting and Tazo-Rhi operating the turret, their Y-Wing streaks in to engage the small detachment of TIEs guarding the camp. A proton torpedo disintegrates one hapless TIE before its pilot even realizes a battle is underway. Keth tries to lure a second into a dogfight but it manages to evade his slower vessel. However, Tazo-Rhi lines up another shot and again takes one down with a torpedo. With both of the TIEs that were in the air destroyed, Keth and Tazo-Rhi turn their attention to the four on the ground. They manage to destroy one before it takes off, but the other three quickly launch and swarm around the Y-Wing! Keth’s able piloting keeps the vessel intact, but its shields are weakening. Fortunately, Waric and Kero arrive on the scene in their Y-Wing. Tazo-Rhi shoots down a TIE (which crashes into the middle cellblock and begins a small conflagration), while Kero shoots down the remaining two. Despite the decision to rely on torpedoes and risk collateral damage, the gambit pays off and complete air superiority is quickly established.
Meanwhile, the most crucial and fraught portion of the operation is underway. Max is spotted crossing through the destroyed portion of the southern fence, but Trill drops the sentry before he can respond. Max reaches the high-security cellblock and just two mercenaries are close enough to pose an obstacle to a successful rescue. At the brink of victory, however, disaster strikes in the form of friendly fire. Having earlier prepared a makeshift collection of thermal detonators to serve as aerial-dropped proximity bombs, Waric’s attempt to help Max backfires when the thermal detonators land and explode too closely to him! One of the mercenaries is disintegrated and the other flees, but a burning hot durasteel door is blown off of its hinges by the force of the explosion and smashes into Max, knocking the poor swashbuckler to the ground, dying. Realizing his mistake, Waric lands nearby and Kero jumps out of the ship’s turret. She rushes over to Max and stabilizes him through an extraordinary display of trauma surgery.
Having been routed, the surviving DuraSun mercenaries flee in an armoured landspeeder. Keth and Tazo-Rhi give chase in their Y-Wing, but are forced to turn back when a power feedback surges through the cockpit and burns Keth’s legs severely! Luckily, he has the presence of mind to land the vessel safely. When Kero examines him, she says that he’ll need immediate immersion in a bacta tank, but that there should be no permanent impairment after a period of rehabilitation.
Although not having exactly received the “kiss of life,” Max lives to fight another day and even regains consciousness. The base is secure but the locked security door to the cellblock still poses a hindrance. Max tries his hand at slicing through the electronic locks, but he is still groggy from the explosion and can’t quite get it. When Waric arrives to help, Max thrusts his security kit in his hands and glares. Max stalks away, and although Kero orders him to return, he keeps going. Trill says she’ll go after him. Later, after opening the door and freeing Marrass and the prisoners, Waric finds Max and apologizes to him sincerely. Max offers a grudging acceptance.
Apart from mechanical difficulties and friendly-fire incidents, the well-planned mission is a complete success, and Gamma Flight’s shaky reputation is increased considerably. With R&R on the horizon, the group is able to relax on their voyage back to The Flourishing.
Director's Commentary (January 13, 2017)
This was the big "free the prisoners" mission that the group had been planning for a long time. In many ways this Star Wars campaign was "second banana" (in terms of my time and attention) to the D&D campaign I was running at the same time and was also a much more casual game for the players, but within each session we had some damned exciting, memorable moments. And despite my best efforts to create really challenging, risky missions for these fighter-commando PCs, they often managed to come through in flying colours! This mission in particular was a complete success and was almost too-easy, as the group planned and executed well.
I tend to think that the proton missile launchers on the Y-Wings are overpowered; it's hard to see why those ships would ever use blasters, as the missiles do a ton of extra damage and get to roll twice to hit; the ships carry a limited payload, but even though I made the players keep track, they never had such a long encounter or so many encounters that ammunition was an issue.
In fact, the only hiccups during the session were the major critical fumbles that severely wounded the PCs (rolling a natural 1 with a hand-held concussion missile launcher!). It really was fortunate the group had both some red chips left and the presence of a healing-focussed PC; in this session, we see the others getting a tad closer to figuring out that something is strange with Kero's expertise/ignorance of medical matters.
This sort of mission-focussed session was the sort of thing I imagined the PCs going on a lot when I started thinking about a Rogue Squadron-like campaign. A lot of planning, a combined arms approach, and seeing what happened when different problems came up. However, it was a lot of work to get a scenario like this ready (detailing an entire complex, guards, vehicles, etc.) and I didn't manage to pull it off as often as I would have liked.