The cargo hold of the Sleight of Hand looked more like the mustering area of a troop transport than a light freighter or smuggling vessel. Nearest to the rear hatch Lt. Averre’s small SpecOps team were professionally checking their gear and charging weapons in a small circle, mostly quiet. Most of the deck was taken up by the infantry squads that had come from Bolthole Station and trained with Shikte and The Wookiee; they were either playing cards, sprawled out sleeping, or working on a blade or a scope depending on their mentor. The recruits from the Sullustan Resistance were mostly checking and assembling grenades, Dohl Che’qy’to overseeing it from a tall crate while eating a piece of fruit. Meanwhile, up in the crew area and the bridge, the so-called crew of the Borrowed Time tensely waited through their journey to the Mustafar system.
Cole Strutter coughed and spit, grimacing. Almost miracle-grade healing aside, the taste of bacta in the back of one’s throat after needing to heal internal injuries was nastier than the worst rotgut he’d ever had, and that said something. Plus, he still had one less leg than he remembered. But the real reason for the grimace was that Verjylla, Nak, and Caleb had been there to greet him when he got out of the tank in the Rabblerouser One‘s infirmary, and the Bothan had handed him a bottle of the finest Whyren’s Reserve the second he’d been sat down by the medical droids. He eyed the bottle and his comrades suspiciously before taking a swig, and then asked the obvious question. What had gone wrong while he was out?
The Last Ditch docked with the newly captured and newly rechristened Time Sink as the CR-90, Interdictor cruiser, and the rest of the rebel task force hurtled through hyperspace towards a rendezvous with Rabblerouser One. Patience came aboard, the last of the Borrowed Time crew to do so, eager to take command of an even larger flagship for the Rabblerouser Fleet. He arrived on the bridge to find a skeleton crew of former Imperials who had been convinced to join the Rebellion and his fellow Borrowed Timers all a flutter; while they’d made their escape into hyperspace, they were going to have to repel some boarders.
Laser cannon fire lit up the darkness of space as Bolt Squadron and the Sleight of Hand dueled with most of a squadron of TIEs. A Raider-class corvette listed badly as the Borrowed Time came about for another attack run. The Last Ditch lurched from incoming turbolaser fire from the second Raider-class even as the MC-30 Kath Hound rushed to assist. Onboard the Interdictor cruiser Shadow’s Web a raiding party of Alliance Infantry, Alliance SpecOps, and Borrowed Time crewmembers fought to seize control of the ship. And in the distance an Imperial Star Destroyer began to bear down on the battle, dropping two squadrons of TIEs and an assault shuttle. The Rebels needed a plan, and it had better be a good one.
With another Inquisitor slain and a copious amount of bacta stolen from the Empire the Rebels of the so-called Rabblerouser Fleet were feeling pretty good about themselves as they jumped away from Thyferra. They’d even added another small Special Operations team to their ranks by giving Lieutenant Averre and his troops a lift off the planet. All in all their miniature version of the rebellion was doing quite nicely for itself, and everyone took a small breather as the fleet gained some distance to lose any pursuit and began preparing for their next mission.
On the far side of Zalxuc City from a certain bacta tank warehouse Verjylla, accompanied by The Wookiee and Bas, were meeting with Lieutenant Blaine Averre and his four-being Alliance SpecOps team to organize their journey to the port so that they could join the Borrowed Time when it left Thyferra. It was late at night, and Averre’s team had been laying low for a few days, so they simply planned to drive an acquired landspeeder to the port. No sooner had they settled on the route, however, than a small but respectable fireball and accompanying mushroom cloud blossomed on the other side of the city with a window-shattering roar. Near or at a certain bacta tank warehouse, in fact. With the sigh typical of long-suffering Bothans surrounded by maniacs, Verjylla opened a channel on her personal comlink. Sure enough, Nak was already yelling over it.
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 . . .
Despite some mishaps and a few crashed airspeeders the Borrowed Time crew had managed to make it on and off the Smuggler’s Moon of Nar Shaddaa, recruiting the Force Sensitive Captain Pontay and his Sleight of Hand in the process. They were still ‘out in the cold’, however, so once they were safely back in hyperspace the rebels weighed their options for their next objective. Leaving Hutt Space would bring them by the Kwenn Space Station, where they believed another Force Sensitive to be, but the crew came to the conclusion that its proximity to Nar Shaddaa made it too hot at the moment. With Patience leading the charge because of the likelihood of getting back in touch with High Command, the destination was chosen: Sullust.
The Borrowed Time, the CR-90 corvette called the Last Ditch, and a mixed group of starfighters cruised through the darkness of space, several hyperjumps away from the planet Dahvil and the now-destroyed Rebel base there. While the rebels had made good their escape and savaged the Imperials in the process they were faced with an immediate problem: the Time‘s communication codes with Alliance High Command had expired days ago, and new ones were supposed to be delivered to them via the now-destroyed base. With no way to immediately get back in touch with the Alliance, the small task force was going to have to rely on old intelligence and their own judgment; they’d be picking their own objectives for a while.
Cole ran for the cockpit, leaping into the pilot chair and desperately trying to get the Borrowed Time up and running even as Bas did the same in the engine room. Nak dropped into the dorsal turret and strapped in, swinging the blaster cannons towards the blown-open hangar doors. Verjylla was on the ship’s comm, reporting what was going on as Bee’f left her in a dash for the boarding ramp. The Wookiee and Shikte rushed into the hangar bay at the head of two squads of Alliance infantry trainees, while in the base’s armory Caleb hurried to don his new armor. In Bolthole Station’s command center, Patience was trying to figure out exactly what was going on, but at least part of it became clear as a full platoon of Stormtroopers – 60 strong – charged through the hangar doors with blaster rifles blazing.