The members of Gamma Flight arrive in the hangar bay of the The Flourishing after a rousing success on Nishr. Even Tazo-Rhi offers unrestrained praise! Max smuggles the vibrorapier he had requisitioned past the distracted eyes of the quartermaster, and the pilots head to the ship’s med-bay so that Keth’s legs, Waric’s face, and Max’s burns can be treated. The days spent separately in recuperation pass quickly, punctuated only by Max’s angry shouting match with Lt. Tuvolo over the latter’s refusal to let him routinely carry what the Aqualish calls an “antique” weapon on missions, saying it’ll make Mynock the laughingstock of the fleet.
Gamma Flight reunites in the ship’s off-duty mess to celebrate their impending R&R. In addition, Kero and Warik have received good news: they have been promoted to Chief Warrant Officer and Warrant Officer, respectively. Keth is the last to arrive at the party, and everyone is surprised to see him in a repulsor-chair. The reticent pilot explains that the severe burns he suffered on the Nishr mission will heal eventually, but for now he’ll be confined to the slow-moving vehicle. Meanwhile, Max remains somewhat curt with Warik over the ill-timed detonation of explosives outside the prison block. The pilots speculate about where they’ll be sent on their leave until the Squadron’s logistics officer, Mikaela Sor, arrives with an answer: Theed, the capital city of the planet Naboo. Having thrown off the yoke of the Empire after the Battle of Endor some months past, the planet is anxious to forge ties with the New Republic and restore tourism despite its infamous status as the birthplace of Senator-turned-Emperer Palpatine. Kero says that from everything she’s heard, it should be a relaxing and enjoyable trip.
That night, Max is eager to play some Djarik or Sabacc with other members of the ship’s crew, but he can’t find a game with stakes he thinks are worthwhile. Keth, for his part, spends some time making a few improvements to his repulsor-chair.
During the short hyperspace jaunt to Naboo aboard a small shuttle, the pilots discuss whether they should share accommodation. Max is worried that he doesn’t have enough credits to stay in the mid-scale downtown Theed hotel that Kero has suggested, until Warik thrusts a thousand-credit stick in his hand and tells him to stop whining. Tazo-Rhi says she is investing her pay in a low-risk savings bond and will thus be staying in budget accommodations elsewhere in the city, but the other four pilots agree to split the cost of rooms. Kero is anxious to keep the group in contact and out of trouble, even while on R&R, and tells Tazo-Rhi to check in twice a day and, if in trouble, to use the password “mercenary.” When the shuttle lands at a busy starport, however, Max tries to sneak away from the rest of the group. Kero spots him and orders him to return, but the group’s newest member shouts that he’s off-duty and disappears into the crowd! Kero connects to Max’s comlink and leaves a message that indicates she will be most displeased if he doesn’t check in at the planned hotel immediately. Max does catch an air-taxi to the hotel, but not before going through the bureaucracy necessary to get a permit to carry his vibrorapier openly in the city. When he arrives, Kero is waiting out front and delivers a tongue-lashing, saying that although the group is on leave, that doesn’t mean Max “gets to run amok” and that “although you have potential, you also have a smart mouth.” She continues that if he disobeys a direct-order again, she’ll bounce him out of the military and impale him with his own vibroblade! Max seems to concede the point.
Warik, meanwhile, has gone straight up to his room and started drinking heavily. Keth, however, has other plans. He obtains the address of the nearest surgical clinic and persuades Kero to come with him so he can get a “second-opinion” on his legs. When the two arrive at the small facility, the clinic’s perky receptionist takes an instant interest in the obviously wounded “man in uniform.” Keth doesn’t openly reciprocate her interest, but Kero surprises him by actively encouraging the receptionist’s affections and gathering the young woman’s comlink frequency. Keth is rather abashed by the whole incident. He is the one, however, who delivers the surprise when he and Kero are introduced to the clinic’s director of surgery. Keth states that he’s interested in cybernetic prosthetic legs! After a lengthy examination, Keth is told that he is a suitable candidate but that the fee is steep: 5,000 credits. The young Zabrak is going to have to think about it, as that amount is far above what he can presently afford.
While Keth and Kero are at the clinic, and Warik continues drinking heavily, Max looks for adventure. He finds a private dueling club that will open the following evening at 21:00 hours, but eager for some excitement now, he finds an air-taxi pilot willing to take him outside the city to an unlicensed swoop- and pod-race circuit. Max surveys the field of vehicles being prepped for an upcoming race and decides to talk to an owner/mechanic who is clearly frustrated with the poor performance of his racer. Max tries to talk the owner, a heavy-set, bewhiskered human in grease-stained overalls, into letting him pilot the swoop, arguing that if the owner doesn’t take a chance on someone new, he’s going to keep losing. The owner gives his name as Barskal and just about seems convinced, but then shakes his head and says it’s just too risky—if Max were to crash, he might lose everything. Max is smart however. He stays to watch the race, and when the owner’s racer comes in last place, Max sidles up and makes his offer again. This time, Barskal agrees and invites Max to come back at midnight the following night for a moonlight race.
At sundown, the pilots, sans Tazo-Rhi, assemble at the hotel’s trendy roof-top bar. Kero arrives in a sexy strapless dress, leading Max’s jaw to drop. She’s in a mood her subordinates have never seen before: out-going, jubilant, and in a mood to party! Keth resists her repeated suggestions that he comm the clinic’s receptionist for a drink. In contrast to Kero’s behavior, Warik arrives drunk, disorderly, and rather depressed. He orders another synthale and sits near the roof’s edge. When Keth comes over to talk to him, they both notice the same thing on the street below: Stavros!
The best pilot during their entry trials was discharged from the Squadron due to chronic health problems, but both Keth and Warik are happy to see him. As they look on and try to get his attention, however, they see a landspeeder roll up next to him. A trio of heavily-muscled toughs emerge and start pushing Stavros around. Warik shouts to his companions on the rooftop that they have to do something, and he rushes towards the lifts. When everyone emerges in the lobby, they see that across the busy street, Stavros has already been ushered into the back of the landspeeder. Warik sprints, narrowly avoiding being run-over by traffic, and leaps on to the back of the landspeeder! He screams “I used to be handsome!” and then starts firing his blaster at the rear engine hatch to disable the vehicle. The thugs, all Gungans, are stunned by the startling and frankly bizarre appearance of the heavily-disfigured and partially-cybernetic Warik. Their hesitation gives time for Kero to dash across the street as well and she levels her blaster at the thugs, but two of them leap out as she fires while the third puts a knife to Stavros’ throat. “Yossa the Brick don’t like welchers!” the Gungan shouts. Warik leaps at one of the thugs and tries to bite his nose off, but gets stabbed in the abdomen. Max arrives instants later with his vibrorapier in hand and begins dueling another. Keth, slowed by the repulsor-chair, fires some careful shots from a distance.
After the sudden counter-attack, the landspeeder’s pilot panics and hits the accelerator, but the damaged engine bursts into flames and the vehicle is clipped by another. Both the Gungan and Stavros are thrown out into the street. With sirens rapidly approaching, the thugs flee. Max gives furious chase, but can’t catch up. As Kero helps the shaken but unharmed Stavros get to his feet, he looks frightened. “I’ve gotta settle things with Yossa the Brick,” he says. “Or I’m a dead man!”
Director's Commentary (27/01/2017)
Every military-themed campaign needs an R&R session, where the PCs get to let their hair down. I can't remember why I chose the city of Theed on Naboo (home of the infamous Jar Jar Binks), but it may have had to do with a desire to revisit the gungan bruiser Yossa the Brick, an NPC I only got to use in one encounter in my Clone Wars campaign. I had obviously planned the "kidnapping of Stavros" storyline, and the combat was really exciting and cinematic. The highlight of the night, and possibly the campaign, was drunken Warik's complete non-sequiter "I used to be handsome!!!" while jumping on the back of the landspeeder. We had to stop the session for a while because we were laughing so much, and it still makes me chuckle to this day. The early part of the session had a lot of free-form improv on my part (like the dueling club and swoop race) and those probably aren't my strong-suits as a GM in a game like Saga Edition or Pathfinder where I know that *everything* has stats. It's much easier to improvise and be dramatic in games like Buffy where you know pacing and story are more important than crunch.