The Shuttle lumbers out of the hangar bay and out into space mere moments before the force field barriers in the hangar fail and open the area behind them into space. The party’s Dynamic class ship falls into a flanking protective position to starboard and the boxy shape of Saltika‘s own 578-R Transport joins on the port side. The Shuttle is extremely slow and it is all Tal Eran can do to coax more performance and speed out of the flying liability. Saltika herself goes onto the System Operator’s position and starts trying to get better telemetry and readings than only visusl (no easy task when the sensors are so badly damaged), whilst the pc’s assume their own roles, with Fowmaral sitting behind Tal to offer help with his Skilled Advice. Jaric Morandin takes the Co Pilots position and does some of the flying donkeywork freeing Tal to concentrate on the important things, and Tersha waits in the cockpit on a spare seat with no fixed role as of yet. Meanwhile, Harramis Datshara and TK-1 keep an eye upon the dubious criminals below. The Shuttle does have one small defensive armament, namely a light laser cannon turret, but nothing else. One of the Rodians called Kolkko volunteers to man it, given that he can handle heavy weapons (at least someone could).
So deployed, the ships head out into the swirling space battle; immediately, Saltika makes a superlative success on her sensors and picks up the main points of interest, with 2 Kaloth class Thalassian cruisers close by fleeing the rapidly exploding asteroid base (which she also note is likely to completely explode imminently so best get a move on), a couple of large thalassian freighters ahead, and beyond that, a flight of what seem to be four fighters engaging anything that moves. Beyond the fighters there is the third Kaloth, seemingly trying to stop ships escaping. Throughout the area are a multitude of other ships fighting and fleeing one another, and the oppressive mass of huge asteroids swirling about blocking straight escape. There is also a large amount of debris whizzing about the warzone and Kolkko keeps an eye peeled for anything that could cause a problem . The ships plow forward as fast as they can, hoping the clutter and interference in the area helps mask their profiles. Luckily, the 2 Kaloth cruisers nearby do not seem to have noticed them, but the flight of fighters do, and they immediately engage the 3 escaping vessels.
With horror Tal watches as 2 of the fighters (Kolkko identifies them as Stinger class starfighters) acquire a torpedo lock and release Proton Torpedoes at his beloved ship; one misses but immediately starts to make a turn about to try to hit again, but the other strikes home with critical force, badly damaging the Dynamic class vessel. Certainly, the ship cannot take another hit even half as strong as that and still be effective. Kolkko manages to shoot down the returning torpedo with some fine shooting, but Saltikas own ship takes some damage, first from one of the thalassian freighters it passes and the other from one of the attacking fighters.
Fed up with this, T3-X2 (who is flying the Dynamic) opens fire on one of the attacking fighters with the forward blaster cannons at the same time as MDK-1 cuts loose in his turret with the quad blasters; this barrage badly damages the fighter as it wheels away licking its wounds and the not so heroic pilot realises that discretion is the better part of valour. Another fighter roars in and rakes the shuttle with cannon fire, badly damaging it. Tersha tries to reroute power in the engine area but to no avail. However, the 3 ships manage to burst free beyond the screen of fighters and hit top speed, forcing every last ounce of power from their ships engines. The Kaloth cruisers approaching behind are the foci for the fighters as the explosions and danger from the destructing space station reach critical mass, and the first shockwave from the first reactor explosion tears through the lesser ships and freighters behind, badly damaging the 2 Kaloth vessels.
Fast approaching the third Kaloth, Tal and the others are hailed by the menacing vessel and are demanded to explain what is going on; for now, the Shuttle still appears to this ship as a possible fellow Thalassian (their dodgy sensor rolls helped a lot); Tal spins a yarn that barely convinces his own people, let alone the Kaloth, but it buys precious time for him to get beyond the cruiser and away from the second blast shockwave, which completely destroys the damaged Kaloths and all bar the third cruiser. Thinking quickly, T3 locates and finds a large asteroid with good hiding places for the 3 ships, for damaged as all 3 ships are, they are likely to be caught by the Kaloth and its fighter escorts. Powered down in overhung craters, the 3 ships spend a tense couple of hours hoping the searching Thalassians give up and go, and in time they do. This does leave them in a problematic situation, for they have about 100 people (themselves amongst that number) and 3 badly damaged ships, only 2 of which have hyperdrive. What to do?
They hit upon the idea of using the Dynamic ships excellent comms suite to send a message to Sulan Thresk knowing that he is a man who likes the spiting of slavers. They get The Middle Finger on comms, and though his “bathing” is interrupted, the Arkanian pirate makes time for them, telling them that he’ll send a familiar advance scout ahead whilst the Finger follows behind. By the fact that Lyn Aretano is currently aboard the Finger, the party correctly assume that the advance will likely be Bloodstar. Indeed, the droid and his distinctive fighter enter the asteroid field about 12 hours later, and he makes contact, advising the Finger is only a few hours behind. He can find no sensor readings on the Kaloth but he shall scour the area for survivors and “help” them.
The Middle Finger enters the field some hours later and takes up a protective orbit above the asteroid surface, protecting the 3 ships below as Lyns ship The Unbounded Dream joins them on the surface, docking with the Dynamic whilst work crews from the Finger start external work. As Lyn, Saltika and Tal work together to fix their 2 ships, the young padawans decide to investigate the surviving 30 or so children to see if any had any force talent. Though untrained in checking for Force Sensitives, Jaric senses something within one young human girl and he passes on the informations to Harramis. He agrees that the girl is very strong in the Force, and they may need to take her to Arboa to meet Master Thom Echarn if she has no surviving relatives.
It takes two days, but finally all that has been done can be done; Thresk will take aboard the prisoners who need it (including the criminals) and he makes his standard offer to the ones he likes, that they can join his organisation (Kolkko and the other Rodians gladly accept). The other slaves he shall take to a neutral starport and have them released (he might also give them funds enough to go home or find family). Saltika has the people she came to free and will make her goodbyes, and the Dynamic ship of the party will take the senators two children and the quiet Force Sensitive girl back to Arboa, where they can be kept safe. Senator Amireth Huren will be contacted whilst there and he can come pick up his freed children; Harramis feels that to head directly to Sadukka or Coruscant with the children may be dangerous, for his feelings and intuition make him believe that someone relayed the childrens journey and travel plans to the Thalassians for some reason. It shall take 3 days in Hyperspace to reach Arboa from the asteroid field, and in that time Harramis sets the padawans a task; to see if they can communicate or reach the young Force Sensitive girl. Tal meanwhile is thinking upon the memory core of the Krath war droid taken from the Thalassian base, and he may spend some time with T3 tinkering with it. He is also thinking of the 11 thousand credits worth of money and trade goods he got from Lyn during the scrapping and scavenging of the old Shuttle.
The Padawans know that at journeys end, they will likely be experiencing their last moments as Padawans, for their Knighting ceremony is fast approaching. They know that Harramis is pleased with their work and conduct and his words to Master Thom will likely be favourable. Still, there are three days to go before they arrive at Arboa, and they all have some more work to do.