"I'm sure the barge will be fun," says Baprasta. "Colder, but fun."
They open the outer hatch and slide out into the snow. Lina crouches low and instinctively takes the lead, motioning for Baprasta to follow her. The Barabel is relieved to know that this Human knows what she's doing, and hopes she can keep from embarrassing herself in front of the professional soldier.
[B&L sneak L 2D+1=10, B 3D+1=20 (wild6+4)
Perception roll for Stormtrooper unit 3d=9]
The way is mostly clear. At one point a unit of stormtroopers crosses their path, but they conceal themselves amongst a collection of spare duracrete support pylons, and the imperials pass them by without a second glance.
Zil's band is trotting by a circuitous route towards the crystal sorting station. Zil and Wex, still clad in stormtrooper armour, take the lead. Oosuu and Dr. Ehks follow at a short distance behind.
[Q: Encounter? 50/50 (4+): O6 C3 - Yes, but... normal stormtroopers
Zil needs an Easy (10) Con roll: 3D=11]
As luck would have it, they round a corner right into a stormtrooper patrol. "They went that way!" shouts Zil. "You guys go left, we'll go right and cut them off!"
The stormtroopers charge off without a word.
[J runs (2x speed) 3D=8, ok
Q: Does he evade pursuit? 50/50 (4+): O2 C6 - No.
I rolled 1d6 for each group of PCs to see what order they'd arrive in, taking the results as rounds.
Z,W,X,O round 1
B&L round 2
J round 4]
Zil's band rushes into the sorting station and out the other side without impediment. Lina sees them from her hiding spot, and she and Baprasta follow shortly thereafter. Zil leads the way, running quickly down the stone steps carved into the cliff face and onto the short dock.
The long, tapering barge by the dock is about halfway full of crystals. Two more barges are connected in a train before it, heaped to the brim with crystals and bobbing precariously in the swiftly flowing icy current. Three more barges empty are connected behind, secured out of sight beneath the rocky overhang.
The barge is longer than the dock, so Zil and her companions must trot carefully along the slippery, metre-wide rim to reach the second barge. The barge couplers are huge masses of interlocking metal and heavy-duty cables, each side jutting a metre out from its housing. Dr. Ehks skitters with ease over the coupler into the second car. Wex, Oosuu, and Zil aren't far behind him.
Red streaks of light flash out overhead from the cliff top -- blaster bolts! The sound reaches everyone's ears moments later, followed by the ever-increasing howl of fear coming steadily toward them. Then Jather appears, silhouetted by the yellow base lights, as he leaps at full bore over the top of the cliff. The laser fire lights up the misty air like a halo round the Devaronian, who is propelled down almost to the middle of the barge below. He sinks up to his knees in the pile of loose crystals, dazed but whole.
The four stormtroopers pursuing Jather stop at the cliff edge, as eight snowtroopers come into view, rushing down the stone steps to the dock.
[Jather spent his Force Point to run and jump over the edge whilst dodging. The force point DOUBLES all his die codes, but he has a subsequent -2D penalty to each for taking 3 actions.
Running (Easy) (3Dx2=6D)-2D: 4D=18 vs. 10, success
Dodge (4D+2=8D+4)-2D: 6D+4=28 (stormtroopers unsurprisingly miss)
Jump (2Dx2=4D)-2D: 2D=6, fail, so takes full damage from fall
Strength x2(for Force Point):4D=16 vs. damage 3D=16, stun
At this point it went into proper combat rounds. This was even more complicated than the firefight in the diner, so I used a map: 1 square = 1 metre. I scanned it and used Paint to move the combatants and show movement.
The PCs are all indicated by their initials, with an X for Dr. Ehks. 1-4 are the normal stormtroopers, 5-12 are the snowtroopers.
There are 6 barges total
1d6=3; #3 is 1d100=55% full
4,5,6 under overhang
The barges are 15m long, 5m wide at the backs tapering to 3m at the front. The barge rims are about a metre wide.
-Easy (10) climb to get up from inside half-full #3
-Moderate (12) to move over crystals
-Moderate (12) Jumping roll (as part of movement allowance) to leap between barges
Easy (10) Climbing roll (full round activity) to climb over a coupler
-Barge sides are Easy (8) terrain, BUT any Mishap or Complication (a 1 on the Wild die) rolled whilst on them requires an immediate Easy (10) Dexterity roll to not slip off.
-the dock is safe]
Jather leaps to his feet and rushes to join his friends at the rear of the barge, but the stormtroopers atop the cliff have him in their sights. The blaster bolts fly furiously round him, shattering crystals behind and beside him as he runs. But the highly-trained stormtroopers are merely manoeuvring him into a crossfire. Jather collapses face first, wisps of smoke rising from his back.
Dr. Ehks is intent on getting to the droid pilot, and clambers across into the first barge. Wex and Zil fire at the snowtroopers as they advance from the dock onto the barge rim. Two of them are hit in the barrage, but their armour deflect the bolts, and they continue undaunted. Oosuu drops her heavy bag onto the crystals behind her, and squeezes off a lucky shot which catches a snowtrooper right in the visor. The trooper crumples; the others step over him without a moment's hesitation and return fire. Bolts sizzle by the Twi'lek's head, and thud off both Wex and Zil's stolen armour. They are shaken by the force of the impact, but otherwise unharmed.
[J moves ~10m to end of barge, full dodge 4D+2=11 +range 8
2 pairs of stormtroopers fire on him 4D+1D= 19, 20 hit 2x
X climbs to barge 1, 10, success
O fires, drops bag 3D+2-1D=12, hits #5, 16v7, Incap
W fires 4D=22, hits #4; 10vs.15, no dmg
Z fires 3D+1=21, hits #6 11vs.20, no damage
L scrambles across, climb 3D+2=15, success
B full dodge 4D+2=16
snowtroopers advance, firing -1D 2acts, -1D armour, +1D combine=4D
PC dodge (reaction)
6 L dodge 3D+2=15; att 3D=12 miss
7&8 Wex hit 14vs11=stun(-1D)
9&10 O dodge, 10 vs. 11 missed
11&12 Z hit 19 vs16, stun (-1D)]
Both Wex and Zil decide to put some distance between themselves and the advancing snowtroopers, ducking and weaving as they go. The stormtroopers on the cliff edge turn all their guns on Wex. A blast hits him in the stomach and he falls, almost rolling over the side. He catches himself at the last instant, and winces at the sight of his blood staining the snowy deck beneath him. Oosuu hesitates, then follows her retreating companions. She is certain that she can feel the heat of the blaster bolts whizzing past her lekku. Dr. Ehks makes it to the cockpit.
The snowtroopers are coming up towards the bow of the barge. One slips on the rim and tumbles into the ice flow, disappearing in an instant. The others continue unperturbed.
Baprasta had panicked, and was cowering against the side of the barge, hoping to remain out of sight. But the sight of poor Jather's demise and the relentless advance of the Imperial terror troops is suddenly more than she can bear. A sudden swell of heroism takes hold of her, causing her cold reptilian blood to run hot. She leaps up and charges straight at the nearest snowtrooper within the barge. Even an elite soldier of the mighty Empire can feel fear when an enraged Barabel is bearing down upon them. The hapless soul stands rooted in place as Baprasta scoops him up and in a single fluid motion hurls him right into the next snowtrooper behind him. There is a crunch of composite plastoid armour plating and bone, then the bodies fall into the crystals in a contorted heap. Some of the other snowtroopers have the presence of mind to fire at the Barabel. Some miss in their haste and panic, and some do not, but between the living Force driving her actions and the heavy scales covering her muscular form, she scarcely feels it.
[X run to cockpit
W&Z retreat, full dodge
L get blaster from bag
O after Z, full dodge
L dodge (3D+2=18), get gun
ST 1-4 fire Wex +2D
hit 5D=18 3D=14, wounded; dx 1D+2=10 (Wild6) doesn't fall in
6-8 up to bow of barge, firing at L O Z
all miss, 8 rolls wild 1, fails dex, falls in
B spends force point
half move to #9, lift(grapple, throw at 10
-2D for 2 actions
Grapple : 10D=21, ok
Throw 4D+4=20, diff 15
damage 10D=34, vs6, dead
10 dodge fail 36 vs. 16, dead
dodge other two's shots: (8D+4-3D=)5D+4=13
1 hit: 5D=21 vs. 5Dx2=39, no damage]
Dr. Ehks jumps behind the controls in the cramped cockpit, sitting on the deactivated droid pilot's lap. He slams down the release lever, and the barge train detaches from its magnetic moorings with a lurch and begin to drift in the current.
The sudden shift throws everyone off balance. No one goes over the side, but most find it impossible to do anything other than try to keep their footing.
Lina stands with legs braced, and unleashes a short-range fusillade across the coupler at the two snowtroopers who have reached the bow. One of them falls, a smoking hole bored in his midsection. The other shrugs off the blasts as they ricochet off his chest plate.
Down in the barge, Baprasta's momentum carries her right into the next snowtrooper. She delivers a powerful uppercut, but the snowtrooper's armour proves harder to crack at this angle. He falls back wounded, but not yet out of the fight.
The stormtroopers on the cliff train their blasters on Baprasta. Bolt after bolt thuds harmlessly off her scales, until one hits her in a vital spot, and she drops.
[X detaches barges from dock
sudden shift requires Mod (15) dex roll to act this round
L ok, fires at 6&7 10,12 hits
no damage, killed
B ok, atts 11 brawl; 20vs13, wounded
1,2 fire on B
B fails dodge 19vs 24, no damage
3,4 fires on B 17 vs. 29, Incap]
Oosuu stands her ground, blasting away at the snowtroopers, but ineffectually. Zil moves onto the crystal pile, away from the slippery edge. She drops prone to present a smaller target, and brace her E-11 for a better shot. Wex sees the wisdom in her actions, and crawls from the rim onto the pile beside her. Lina retreats a few paces backwards, firing all the while. The snowtrooper seems nigh impervious to the energy bolts splashing off his chest plate -- until he tries to take aim at Lina. The swaying of the barge throws off his balance as the blaster barks in his hands, and red bolts streak into the sky.
The snowtroopers in the half-empty barge trot up to join their fellow on the bow. One, though still reeling from the Barabel's punch, makes the short climb, as the other slips on a patch of ice and slides back down. The stormtroopers upon the cliff edge turn almost as one and run down the steps to the dock, before the barges are swept away by the current.
[W&Z move onto crystals, drop prone
L backs up 5m (half-move = free action, no roll), fires
7 dodges 5D=19 vs. 3D=17, hit : 16vs13, stun (-1D)
O fires at 7, miss
7 fires at Lina : 3D=8, wild1=mishap, Dex roll 1D+1Dboots=11, doesn't slip
11&12 advance, climb up side: 3D-1D(2actions)+1Dboots; 3D=13,8
one makes it, other slips back down
1,2,3,4 run down stairs - Easy (7) move rolls: 7,12,9,10 all ok ~14m to get to bottom of steps]
Two more snowtroopers fall under the relentless hail of energy blasts. Only one snowtrooper is left standing. He finally manages to scale the side of the barge up to the bow, and even gets a few shots of his own off once atop it. He thinks not of his fallen comrades, only the inevitability of Victory for the Empire.
The four stormtroopers leap from the dock into the empty fifth barge. They too think of nothing save Victory.
[L fires at 7 hit; dam 22vs7, mortal
W fire at 11 hit; 27vs7, killed
12 climb ok, fires at L (dodge) =miss
1,2,3,4, jump into barge #5
Easy (10) jump: 7,10,17,14, one fails (slips but no damage from fall (Strength 4D=28(wild) vs. Damage 3D=9)]
As the barge train gains momentum in the ice river, bodies on the rims begin to slide off. Two disappear over the side into the swift current, one plops down into the half-empty barge. The firefight continues, but instability and constant motion causes the blasts to streak away from the action altogether. Oosuu decides to get onto the crystal pile lest she be pitched overboard. A lucky shot hits the snowtrooper in the shoulder and he nearly goes over, but stands rooted to the spot with fanatical determination. Ignorant of the pain, he fires back at Lina. His bolt grazes her temple. A lesser soldier might collapse, but Lina's training and fortitude are the equal of any Imperial. She grits her teeth against the ringing in her ear and shouts back with inarticulate defiance.
[L fires at 12, 12 dodges 3D=15! L miss
W hits 12 (5D -1D armour -1D wounded=16(wild 6+3)), wounded (NB I often forget that Wounds drop one prone... even when I remember earlier in the fight!)
12 hits Lina 3D+2=8, spend chr pt +5=13 vs. 5D=19, Wounded
1&2 help 3&4 climb up to rim of #5]
Bolt after bolt splashes off the snowtrooper's armour. Each one knocks him back a step, and he falls senseless into the half empty barge. But whilst he is vanquished, the remaining stormtroopers are eager to fight. They have all climbed up onto the bow of the fifth barge, four grim silhouettes against the receding lights of Spire Base and the barge's own dimly glowing work lights.
[L atts 12, hit, stun -1D
Z hit 13vs12, stun (-2Dtotal)
O hits 21vs13 wound2
12 prone, -4D actions = hors de combat
3&4 help 1&2 climb up to rim of #5]
Their numbers are now even, but the stormtroopers are still fresh to the fight, and possess superior tactics. Lina shouts to her companions to concentrate fire on the left, but her words are swallowed up by the rushing wind, and unheeded. Lina hits her target, whose armour takes the brunt of the blast, and her companions fire ineffectually all round the others.
The stormtroopers concentrate on both Lina and Oosuu. Lina takes a blast squarely in the chest. She falls to her knees, tries weakly to raise her blaster again, then topples forward into the crystals. Oosuu feels energy bolts tear into both arms, and lets out a yelp, nearly dropping her blaster before she realises that they only tore through the padding in her sleeves and not her skin beneath.
[N.B. Lina wanted to use her Command skill, but I ruled it impossible under the circumstances, so I didn't penalise her -1D for the action)
(random targets 1d4=)
L fires at 1 (range Medium) 15, just hits; 13vs11, stun
W fires at 3 miss
Z fires at 4 miss
O fires at 4 miss
1&2 combine at (1-2 O 3-4 L 5 Z 6 W)
O dodge 13, 15 diff ; 16 hits 2D+2=16(wild6+5) vs. 17 stun
3&4 fire L hit 3D+2=10, spend last chr point for +4; 14vs24; Incap.]
Oosuu panics and flops gracelessly onto her stomach as blaster fire continues to streak over her head. Wex feels a twinge at his heartstrings when he sees Lina collapse, and silently vows revenge. He and Zil begin to pick off the stormtroopers with deadly tenacity. Bolt after bolt slams into their composite shells, throwing up showers of sparks. One falls, then another, then a third. Oosuu recovers her senses and adds to the barrage. The final stormtrooper drops forward onto the coupler and slides off into the ice river.
O full dodge +11
W hits 3; wild 3D=19 (wild6+6+2): 17vs10, incap
Z hits 4; 20vs7, mortal
1&2 combine fire at Oosuu, miss
Wex hits 1, wounded
Zil hits 2, Incap
O hits 1, incap.]
Oosuu and Zil rush to check on Lina as Wex crawls up to the cockpit. He isn't ready for the news, even though he's sure of what it will be. "Is it over? Are we safe?" asks the scientist.
"The fight's over," says Wex, "but we're far from safe yet."
"I turned the pilot droid on," hazards Dr. Ehks. "It seemed the best course of action. But it will just take us to the processing plant downriver..."
"Switch it off," says Wex. "Let me drive for a while."
[Q: pilot droid a problem? Unlikely (5+): O4 C2 - No, and... just drives.
Wex needs an Easy (10) Mechanical roll to pilot it; 3D=11, ok]
Wex trades places with the Xexto, and steers the barge train on a straighter course through the ice river. When Zil's voice crackles over his comlink, telling him that Lina is in bad shape but alive, he let out a sigh of profound relief. He hadn't even been aware that he was holding his breath.
Then Zil turns to Oosuu. "We're not done yet. We need to leave Lina here for now -- she's safe enough. We need to check on the others. And..."
"Oosuu remember Phaeda, Zil. Not need explain; Oosuu not show mercy."
Their relief to find Baprasta alive is tempered by the sight of Jather's smouldering corpse. Zil tells Wex the news over the comlink, and says that whichever one of them isn't driving should bring Oosuu's bag back and help collect supplies. "I want some of the snowtrooper armour," she explains, "and as much of their gear as we can carry."
Dr. Ehks scrambles back with the bag. Zil has him empty the contents into the river and start filling it with the snowtroopers' armour and supplies as she and Oosuu go back over the empty barges to deal with the stormtroopers. Zil is almost startled at the Twi'lek's sang froid as she blasts away at the fallen enemies.
Wex pilots the barge train to a halt, stopping where the riverbank is mostly exposed crystal and ice. "It'll be harder for them to track us if we get off here," he says over the comlink.
They use the safety lines to hoist their unconscious friends onto the crystal shore. Oosuu is the last one on the barge. She goes back to the cockpit and reactivates the pilot droid, ordering it to continue to the processing station. As it pulls out into the river, she shoots it, then leaps out onto the bank [Jump easy (9) 2D+2=10, ok]. The barge train is swept off by the current, and starts to founder as it rounds a bend too sharply and careens off the crystal bank.
Oosuu watches it go, and utters a strangely lilting threnody for the lost Jather.
Next post: The frozen wastes!