Star Wars: Uncertain Times, Desperate Measures

Chapter 50: A Way Down They Go

As the Citadel approached the Deep Core research facility, the protagonists began preparations. Hexx prepped the ship for launch, Bando spent time in the Kolto tank, and Jinx trained with the cadets. Shortly before the final approach, they were summoned to Captain Bellanor’s ready room for a mission debrief where they were given assignments. An unknown commander, wearing standard spacer garb, was given instructions for launching the boarding crews, while a representative from the Skipray Blastboat contingent was instructed to engage the base’s defenses and provide cover for the freighter and boarding pods. The Kismet’s crew was instructed to board the ship and acquire the data regarding high secret schematics in the station’s databanks.

As the corvette dropped out of hyperspace, the Kismet – with its’ unexpected contingents of fresh recruit soldiers and 2 stowaways from the Citadel – prepped for launch. As the ship approved, the skiprays launched first, with Hexx taking the Kismet out after them. As they flew in formation, the Citadel ejected a large amount of space debris to confuse sensor readings. As they noticed the debris, Tiali picked up starfighters – TIEs of some sort of configuration – launching from the station with a seemingly endless parade. They instructed B1 to fire, and he sent a turbolaser shot at the space station, causing Hexx to instruct him to switch to the laser cannons for the starfighters.

As the group approached, the TIE fighters opened fire in groups of 7. The Kismet weathered the first wave relatively unharmed, but caused Bando to join B1, Tiali, and Hexx in the cockpit to bring the shields back online. The TIEs made another pass that they were able to evade major damage, and the crew noticed the corvette launching it’s boarding pods and the Skiprays laying down covering fire. Then, their luck took a turn for the worse.

On the next pass, the TIE fighters hit the Kismet with a barrage of fire. After Hexx was able to evade shots from the first 5, the 6th TIE fighter managed to blow out the shields and cause light damage to the hull…and the 7th TIE fighter’s shots punched straight through, perforating the ship and damaging the reactor core. As the ship was suffering catastrophic pressure loss, the cockpit, escape pods, and medical bay doors closed and sealed. Jinx, being in the cargo hold with the recruits, scrambled to contain the damage while the crew in the cockpit realized they were stuck – Tiali was not in a set of Clone Trooper armor and could not survive the vacuum if they opened the hatch.

Jinx quickly discovered his only option was to eject the reactor core before systems went critical. The resulting explosion, while taking out quite a few TIE fighters, also sent the Kismet off course and only on dwindling emergency power. Hexx managed to use the thrusters to push the ship at a shuttle hangar bay on the station, but B1 used the vast majority of remaining power to take a shot at the force field covering the bay. He managed to shut it down, and Hexx was all remaining power to minimize the crash landing.

After they landed, the crew scrambled to recover from the situation. Jinx was faced with a dilemma: They had a one shot portable force field that they could rig up to allow for either the cockpit to be opened and Tiali to don a suit, or the medical bay to be opened and Ciri could suit up. Jinx quickly prioritized the medic over the comms officer, and used the item to assist Ciri over Hexx’s vocal objection to the strategy. The recruits and Jinx then fanned out to secure the hangar and try to find life support – the entire station seemed to not have any life support and barely any gravity, but still seemed to have power. Meanwhile, Bando and Hexx tried to brainstorm ways to get Tiali to safety with a dwindling oxygen supply and dropping temperatures.

After moments of frustration, Hexx grew despondent and more angry at Jinx while Bando wracked his brain for solutions. Determining – with Ciri’s help on the comms – that she could survive vacuum exposure for longer than she could lack of oxygen, he devised a plan to open the door and quickly put an armor helmet on her to allow for her to breathe, buying time for him to get her to the airlock in the diner/escape pod and have the 2 members of the Citadel’s crew that where holed up in there bring her into the escape pod. The plan went fairly well – B1 suffered some servo damage assisting with forcing open the unpowered doors – and Tiali managed to get into the escape pod and recover from the exposure. Bando and Hexx then left to join with Jinx and the privates.

While Bando and Hexx were taking care of Tiali, Jinx and the Pentastar soldiers engaged a seemingly endless horde of droids that bore a stark resemblance to bulky stormtroopers. They minimized casualties, but took some damage from the self-destructing droids causing one private to get taken back to the ship for medical assistance. In exploring the level, they discovered more of the droids plugged in to a charge socket…that activated once they detected life signs. After eliminating the droids, they elected to avoid the majority of the other rooms. Bando did discover an odd console with empty racks that he was unable to access, and Hexx discovered 2 observation lounges to his confusion.

Everyone met back up at the turbolift shaft…with no turbolift. Camilla took 3 other soldiers with her and attempted to head up the turbolift shaft. They quickly lost traction and tumbled down the shaft, avoiding major injury but unable to head up to the top level. Hexx and B1 decided to go up to explore, but also ran into complications. Hexx was unable to get traction and tumbled down the shaft, catching himself halfway down. He them attempted to use B1 to pull him up, but strained both servos on B1’s chassis, causing the droid to drop him the final length of the shaft. Private Cadav then attempted to head down to provide technically assistance at Hexx’s insistence, but lost his footing and fell, suffering major damage from the fall.

Jinx then managed to make his way up the shaft with a line secured by B1-Ex, with Bando’s line attached him to himself. When he managed to reach the top of the shaft, he noticed a countdown begin. He strained mightily to reach the console to try to override it, but could not make headway with Bando’s weight on the line slowly him down. He reached the console as it reached 0, but did not notice any other explosions or other events. While distracted, the weight on the line from Bando started pulling him backwards, eventually pulling him down the shaft with Bando. Both Jinx and Bando suffered damage from the fall – Jinx suffering more than Bando – but joined back up with the group exploring the lower level. The sniper, Pentag, managed to scale up the rope to the top level, and explored it with B1-Ex.

Establishing a connection with Bando, B1 and Pentag discovered the computer core room…where they say the data being systematically erased. B1 and Pentag, were able to find one of the encrypted files and attempted to recover it. With their slicing skills insufficient, B1 elected to rip out the drive portions that contained the file.

Meanwhile, in the lower level, the group found a hangar bay locked down and some unpowered datacores. With the soldiers and Hexx’s assistance, they managed to unlock and start the opening of the hangar. Bando and Jinx powered up and researched the data, with Bando able to pull 5 files from the system before the rigged power conversion fried the cores. As they removed the cover, they did see the shape of a transport lower below…with more distance below that they could not scan.

They were then joined by B1 and Pentag, who informed them that it looks like the station’s cooling system shut down for some reason…and based on B1’s calculations, they have 20 minutes before the core causes catastrophic damage.

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