Adventure Log: Living on Borrowed Time Pt. 16

As the small task force led by the Borrowed Time and now going by the name of the Rabblerousers hurtled through hyperspace to put some distance between itself and Sullust, the various leaders were meeting aboard the CEC L-2783 Rabblerouser One. Definitively out of touch with High Command the mixed group of Special Operations agents, Sullustan Resistance recruits, and Bolthole Station refugees were facing down the prospect of carrying on the Rebellion by themselves. It was a daunting proposition. While they were relatively well-stocked and had essentially been growing the task force ever since leaving Dahvil, they were operating on their own initiative and with no supply line. Thankfully the Intelligence agents assigned to report to Patience had a few leads . . .

Tasked with finding any vulnerable Imperial targets to strike at or any Alliance forces that the Rabblerousers could link up with, the Intelligence agents had found an additional three leads. First, the TIE Phantoms that had escaped Toprawa had resurfaced, whittling away at a pair of Rebel starfighter squadrons in the Pollis Massa system. Second, captured Imperial reports indicated than an MC-30 frigate and its support vessels were engaging in commerce raiding along the Hydian Way, and were likely in need of the repairs and resupply that Rabblerouser One could provide. Finally, another Special Operations team had become stranded on Thyferra, and was trying to get in touch with any Alliance force capable of getting them off-world; as an added problem, the Lieutenant leading the team was a known Force-sensitive included in the Skirata dossiers, and believed that an Inquisitor was hot on his heels.

This last issue played a large part in the Borrowed Time and company turning towards Thyferra, but it wasn’t the only issue. With no supply line the bacta stored on the Last Ditch wouldn’t last forever, so the prospect of stealing more from the healing substance’s home planet was an attractive one (it helped that Cole and Nak both remembered that one of their first jobs together was a bacta heist). Captain Pontay was also eager to engage in some theft: extra bacta could be sold on the black market to pay for other supplies, and to compensate the crew of the Sleight of Hand for following their Captain into rebellion.

It was decided that the Borrowed Time and Sleight of Hand would both land in the capital of Zalxuc City, with their respective crews each picking a side of the city to operate in. While Pontay and his ne’er-do-wells would be focused almost entirely on finding something to steal, the Borrowed Time crew were first going to try and make contact with the SpecOps team. Fortunately they knew where to start: Morbo’s Place, a respectable cantina in the city’s business district well known for its homemade brandy, and fortunately less well known for its owner’s activities as an agent of Alliance Intelligence. So it was that Cole, Caleb, Nak, and Bee’f went for a drink.

The four Borrowed Time crewmembers sidled up to the bar and found themselves being served by the owner, one Voralla Morbo. As their own Intelligence agent had instructed, Nak ordered a Corellian Sunrise with one of those little umbrellas in it (Cole got his usual Whyren’s Reserve, Bee’f a lomin ale, Caleb abstaining). The sharp-eyed Trandoshan noticed there was a slip of paper underneath her coaster, and was able to pocket it without anyone noticing. After a reasonable amount of time sipping her drink, Nak went to the refresher to read the note, which informed her that the SpecOps team stranded on the planet had engaged with a redblade and lost their slicer, and with him their ability to cover their tracks.

She then ate the note so that nobody would ever find it. Nobody ever said Nak wasn’t thorough.

By the time the Trandoshan was done reading and then masticating the note and had returned to the bar, a human in dirty mechanic’s coveralls had found himself a booth and a Corellian Sunrise with umbrella of his own, clueing the Rebels in that this was a member of the endangered SpecOps team hoping to find some lucky intel or maybe even help at Morbo’s Place. Cole took the chance to wander over and strike up a conversation while Nak hovered behind him as a bodyguard. Astonishingly, nothing ridiculous or life-threatening occurred during the conversation, as Cole and the undercover rebel talked shop about being stuck on world for awhile with ‘unfinished business’ and ‘communication array problems’. Suffice to say that Cole managed to convey that he and the others were capable of extracting the SpecOps team from the planet, and arranged for a meeting under the auspices of ‘pooling resources to get one another’s ships off planet’.

The little meeting did not go unnoticed, however, as Bee’f spotted what was certainly an off-duty stormtrooper eyeballing the Rebels from across the room with a growing appearance of both suspicion and recognition. Before the Imperial could act, however, Bee’f sprung into action with the classic ‘old friend I haven’t seen in forever routine’. This didn’t last long, as the Imperial didn’t know any Bothans in the first place, but by that point Bee’f had gotten one foot in the door and was determined to babble his way to victory. So confused was the stormtrooper that he never even noticed Bee’f pouring the contents of a death stick into his ale, with enough Advantage to guarantee that the man would be drummed out of the service when he was found later. It should be noted that one of Bee’f’s Motivations was to Spite the Empire, and he’d certainly succeeded at both that and drawing any and all attention away from Cole, Nak, and the SpecOps member.

Caleb, back at the bar, set about inquiring with Voralla about any ‘work’ that might be available. A glass of water and its respective coaster covered another note that told the Mandalorian to return that night. Once Bee’f returned from drugging a stormtrooper into delusions and Nak and Cole finished up their chat with the undercover SpecOps agent, the crew left to burn some time until nightfall. Some minor hilarity occurred over the course of the rest of the day. Bee’f managed to find a back-alley Vratix dealer he dubbed Mr. Clik-Clik to acquire more deathsticks, being dubbed Mr. Fuzz-Fuzz in turn by the nonplussed insectoid. The others checked in with Captain Pontay to make sure any ‘shopping trips’ the two teams went on wouldn’t cross paths; the Zabrak agreed, although it didn’t seem that he was making much progress, as the Borrowed Time crew quickly realized that the scuffling noises on the other side of the line were Pontay hitting someone with his comlink.

Once darkness fell across the city the crew returned to Morbo’s Place, meeting Voralla at the establishment’s service entrance. She told them that an Imperial-owned warehouse of bacta would be ripe for the plucking, and that the local Vratix rebels called the Ashern would likely be willing to help. She even provided them with a contact location and a more or less disposable landspeeder for the impromptu mission, but warned them that she’d be able to provide no shelter if things went wrong: Morbo’s Place was an intelligence post, not a safehouse. The subsequent brief trip into the jungle ended with an Ashern literally jumping onto the hood of their landspeeder, ‘politely’ asking who they were and what their intent was.

At about the local equivalent of midnight a large cargo hovertruck was making its way down the streets of the city for a night-time pickup of bacta tanks. Several blocks away from their goal, however, the truck came to a stop because a rattletrap-looking landspeeder was grounded right in the middle of an intersection. Before the driver and guard could react further than wondering what was going on, Cole and Caleb were at their side windows pointing blasters and politely asking them to exit the vehicle. Any weak thoughts of resisting were completely vanquished when ten members of the Ashern jumped from nearby rooftops and landed on the truck. The Ashern wanted to finish the Zaltin Corp employees, but the Rebels convinced them to just stun the humans and leave them in an alley. Shortly thereafter Cole drove the hovertruck through the perimeter gate of the targeted warehouse, giving the droid on gate duty the driver’s passcode.

Things went smoothly from there. The team found a second hovertruck, so the Ashern coopted a few loader droids to start loading bacta tanks into both. Bee’f found his way to a security terminal and sliced in, eliminating the security cameras and taking control of the security droids on site. Cole broke into the manager’s office and began rifling through the desk, not finding much of interest but pocketing a few credits in the bargain. Nak was able to find both the power cells for the facility and the location of a fuel line, and began placing detonite charges so that the Empire would lose any bacta they couldn’t steal. Caleb simply got to the roof of the warehouse with his ascension gear and set up to keep an eye out for anyone intruding on their little raid.

Unfortunately a Despair had come up on a slicing role, and just as the second hovertruck was being loaded up with its last tank Caleb spotted a dark-armored figure approaching the warehouse from the opposite side. When the droid on that side asked the figure for its security passcode there was a snap-hiss, a flash of red, and the droid fell into pieces. In the glow of the lightsaber Caleb recognized the figure: the Inquisitor that Verjylla had dubbed The Beast, last seen on The Wheel when the team had rescued Mariana and her family. Caleb alerted the others to the approaching threat, and the team sprung into action. The Ashern were told to get out with the loaded hovertrucks, while the Borrowed Time rebels would stay behind and finish what Skirata had interrupted back on The Wheel.

When the Beast cut his way through a door into the warehouse, the entire team had taken cover. Cole, his personal ex-security droid AL, and two local security droids Bee’f was controlling rushed out from among the remaining bacta tanks. The Inquisitor simply stretched out a hand, however, and both of Bee’f’s droids and Cole went flying. Both droids were slagged as a result, while Cole smashed through a bacta tank, feeling “defeated, but strangely rejuvenated!” Nak ducked out from behind a support beam to lob two plasma grenades; while one went wild, the other one left the Inquisitor nicely roasted. Caleb used some explosives of his own to try and drop part of the ceiling on their foe, but the debris missed.

Cole picked himself out of the wreckage with a snarl, and tried to hurl the Beast against the wall with the Force. He succeeded, and used a Triumph to damage the Inquisitor’s cortosis armor, but dark side points spent and a Despair meant that elsewhere in the galaxy someone took note of that surrender to the darkness. AL was sent in, vibrosword swinging, to try and take advantage of the moment of weakness, but the droid received only a parry and a swipe of the lightsaber for his trouble. Another wave of the Force sent Cole and AL both hurtling backwards, the former smuggler badly battered and AL not much better off. Nak took a potshot with her rifle that missed, while Caleb dropped from the ceiling to try and land on the Beast, only to miss in turn and have to roll away to avoid the lightsaber. Bee’f cursed the loss of his sliced security droids and pulled out his force pike, rushing to reach the fight personally.

Cole picked himself out of the wreckage again, this time extending a hand and using the Force to snatch the Beast’s lightsaber away. He drew his own lightsaber and ignited both of them, beginning to close in again with AL. Seeing an opportunity Bee’f charged in, and managed to strike the Beast directly on the head, but a Despair meant that the Inquisitor got his hands on the Bothan’s weapon after being struck and snatched it away from him. Nak darted in and took a swing with her therm axe, but the blow was parried and she took some Strain to get out of melee range again. Caleb dug in with his heels and aimed his scatter gun, cutting loose with an auto-fire barrage that actually managed to shred the Beast’s armor, leaving him vulnerable to Cole’s lightsabers.

The ex-smuggler wasted no time in wading in, along with AL, to try and take advantage of that. Despite a veritable flurry of lightsaber and vibrosword swings from the pair, however, the Beast managed to keep them at bay using his stolen force pike. The next wave of the Move power sent Cole sprawling for a third time, although this time Bee’f and Caleb were tossed as well, with Caleb even receiving a minor Critical Injury in the bargain. Then, sensing that the tide was going to turn against him, the Beast used a Force Leap to go up through the hole in the roof Caleb had created earlier. Seeing this Nak holstered her weapons, scooped up Bee’f, grabbed Caleb by the shoulder, and began hauling her two compatriots to the exit.

Despite the Trandoshan’s yelling for everyone to bug out, and Bee’f and Caleb’s tacit agreement with her plan, Cole refused to let the Beast escape. He and AL were both wearing the team’s jet packs, acquired from Skirata and on Nar Shaddaa respectively. They used the equipment to follow the Beast up through the hole in the roof, re-engaging in melee combat. As lightsabers, vibroswords, and a force pike all tried to get past one another, Nak hauled the others to what she judged the minimum safe distance and began fishing a detonator out of her combat webbing. Cole, frustrated that neither he nor AL had managed to land another blow, used Move to hurl the Beast back into the hole in the roof before triggering his jet pack again to fly off of the building, AL right behind him.

Nak saw through the open doorway as the Beast landed lethally close to the fuel line she had planted a detonite charge on, and almost crushed the detonator with one claw as she triggered it. The warehouse went up in a massive fireball, consuming the Beast along with it. The noise of the explosion was punctuated by a scream and a sickening crunch, however: as his last act, right before Nak hit the trigger, the Beast had used Move to snatch Cole’s jet pack right off of his back with the ex-smuggler several stories in the air. As the others rushed to where Cole had ‘landed’, they could see that the smuggler was out for the count. More direly, one leg was so badly mangled that even as they hauled him towards one of the hovertrucks the Ashern were already talking amputation and an extended stay in one of the stolen tanks.

The Borrowed Time crew had bagged their second Inquisitor. It only cost two detonite charges, two plasma grenades, a touch of the Dark Side of the Force, several flurries of blaster fire, a warehouse, a customized force pike, and their pilot’s left leg (seeing as how Verjylla had lost her own protecting Cole on Toprawa, perhaps it was just meant to be). As Cole was dunked into a tank Nak and Bee’f piled into the cargo area of the hovertruck while Caleb took the wheel. By their standards it was a successful raid: now they just had to get off of the planet, which they started doing as Caleb began racing towards the starport, while burning pieces of the warehouse still falling to the ground behind them . . .

There are times when a player character is out of action, even if the player isn’t. Adventuring is often dangerous, after all, and not every injury can be taken care of with a Cure Light Wounds or a couple of stimpacks. Recovery times from lasting injuries, as well as the consequences of trying to act with those injuries, vary from system to system. But what do you do when the character is completely disabled, unable to even act with penalties, and for longer than a single fight or encounter? Nobody wants to just sit there and watch other people enjoy the game because their own character is busy getting stitched back together, after all.

One of the simplest ways to deal with this is to skip ahead in time until the character in question is at least capable of participating again. This makes a certain amount of narrative sense: a group of heroes with badly injured members isn’t entirely likely to rush out into the thick of things again until the group is back at full strength unless they absolutely have no choice. This method is also probably the best solution if multiple party members have been taken out for a time; the more people bobbing up and down in a bacta tank, the more likely it is the rest of the party will want to keep their heads down while their friends heal, lest whatever put them in the tanks in the first place catch the rest without backup.

There are some reasons not to go with the time skip idea, though. The first (and the one that came into play at this point of Living on Borrowed Time) was that if skipping ahead doesn’t make sense, usually because they were in the middle of something when a party member went down. Our rebel friends still need to get off of Thyferra in this case, and it’d be cheap to just let them waltz their way to the ship without any struggle. The other reason not to skip time is that if you do it too often, then the characters/players don’t really get to experience the consequences of being defeated. This cheapens the prospect of character injury/death, which can make everyone at the table a little too blasé about someone going down. “Oh, character X just lost their arm? Well, we’ll get out of here and then just skip all the healing time and cybernetic reattachment. What’s this, the third time X has lost that one arm?”

So a second option would be to let the player play another character while their usual one is in the chop shop. Personally, I’d advise against letting them make a completely new character, as that creates an entirely new bouncing ball of chaos for your table to deal with. Instead, I’d recommend that you give them control of an already existing NPC. The potential benefits of this are numerous completely aside from keeping the player in the game. The player gets to try something different, which can be a fresh experience particularly if they’ve been playing their usual character for a long time. You the GM get one of your NPCs fleshed out. And unlike the idea of a completely new character, you don’t have to worry about where the temporary one ends up: they go back to being an NPC among the cast, hopefully fleshed out for the better! This is what we ended up doing for Cole’s player, as you’ll see next time. Originally I was going to offer him Captain Pontay or the SpecOps Lieutenant, but in the end we actually went with AL, which served quite nicely to turn the droid into something more than a piece of equipment granted by Contribution.

Until next time, go play some games and have a good time! I’ll see you all then as our heroes make their escape from Thyferra, get to catch their breath, and make their next move in the next installment of Star Wars Age of Rebellion: Living on Borrowed Time!

Star Wars belongs to Disney, while Age of Rebellion and its related products are the property of Fantasy Flight Games. Today’s adventure and the characters therein are actually from Strongholds of Resistance. Any other products used or mentioned within the game remain the property of their respective creators, and player character names and concepts remain the intellectual property of their respective players. If you like what Cannibal Halfling Gaming is doing and want to help, please consider telling your friends about us and/or pledging your support on Patreon!

 

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