Starfinder: Dead Suns

Session 14

Pirates of the Diaspora

Absalom Station

A few days after most of the crew had left for Apostae, Kusanagi was summoned to the Lorespire Complex by Chiskisk. He was a little surprised to find Content Not Found: galkarond already there, as well as two new faces, a ysoki and a lashunta. The android was introduced to Glitch and Kima, and then Chiskisk got down to business. The Starfinders had determined the approximate location of the Devourer cult’s base in the Diaspora: somewhere in a treacherous stretch of several hundred asteroids known as the Field of the Lost.

Fortunately, a reliable Drift beacon floated just outside this region of the asteroid belt, but without an exact location, the crew needed to search the Field of the Lost for clues to find the Devourer cult base there. Kusanagi asked about the others, but Chiskisk said they would be out of contact for at least another week and a half, and they felt it would be best to send a team to the Diaspora immediately.

The Sunrise Maiden was freshly retrofitted, and Winslow greeted his companions and the newcomers as they came aboard. Once everyone was settled in, they set a course for the Drift beacon Chiskisk had identified.

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The Diaspora – Field of the Lost

As they came out of the Drift, a bleak sight greeted them through the starship’s viewscreen: irregular chunks of rock and ice and occasional ominous fields of green and blue floated through an empty void, with a vast field of stars for a backdrop. Glitch initiated a scan of the area and noticed a few peculiar blips on the starship’s instrument panels that indicated irregular movement in the vicinity – another ship lurked nearby. The ysoki recognized it as a Nebulor Outfitters Starhopper, a model commonly affiliated with the Free Captains of the Diaspora – pirates. He hailed the ship and nodded to Kima as a human woman appeared onscreen.

“Ho ho! They hailed us!” said the woman, sounding delighted. “Well, I’m Captain Alera Okwana. What would ye like ta say, then?”

“Greetings,” said Kima. “We are a scientific vessel passing through this sector. We have nothing of value, and we have no quarrel with you. We will, however, defend ourselves.”

The pirate captain seemed to consider this for a moment before smiling. “Science equipment’ll prolly fetch a tidy sum, I wager. So be it. Defend yerselves!” She terminated the transmission.

The enemy pilot was no match for Kusanagi, and despite a couple of flyby strafing runs, the pirate starship was soon smoking, while the Starship Maiden’ shields hadn’t even been breached. Kima accepted another hail from Captain Okwana.

“Guess that weren’t no bluff!” she said with a laugh. “We’d like ta go ahead and request parley now, if’n ye’d be so kind. Come aboard me ship and we’ll discuss terms.”

“Very well,” said Kima. “Prepare for docking.”

As the crew came aboard the Rusty Rivet the four pirates assumed nonthreatening poses. In addition to the captain, here was an android engineer, a korasha lashunta, and a vesk. Okwana introduced them as Q4, Korrina Noh, and Zekanoya Spikesmasher respectively. “How may we be of service?” she asked.

“We’re looking for a Cult of the Devourer base that is supposed to be somewhere nearby,” said Kima.

“Yeah, there are cultists out here. Crazy buggers – I suggest giving ’em a wide berth if you come across any. They got a hole on a nearby rock where they get together and do whatever it is cultists do. They call it the Star-Eater’s Spine, or something equally stupid. Come to think of it, those bone ships were headed in that direction.”

“Bone ships?” prompted Galakrond.

“Yeah, a couple of nasty-looking bone ships. Big bruisers, and frankly above my pay grade, ya know? But they didn’t care about us little old pirates, so we just shadowed ’em for a bit. They did whatever business they had here and went on their way.”

“Which way’d they go?” asked Glitch.

“We think the rock they hole up on is one we call K9204. I’ve never been there, so I don’t know if there’s a base there or not, but I can point you in the right direction.” Captain Okwana punched some commands into the Rusty Rivet’s computer and brought up a navigational chart of the region, which she copied onto a datastick and handed to the ysoki. The chart showed the route to the asteroid.

Kusanagi exchanged glances with the rest of the crew. “Okay, now what do we do about the pirates?”

“I have a suggestion as to that,” said Okwana. “Way I see it, you beat us and got us dead to rights. I admit that. But there’s no reason we can’t be friendly-like. I’ll give ya a thousand credits apiece to let us and the Rivet go. You go your way, we go ours. Everybody’s happy and nobody dies, yeah?”

The rest of the crew was agreeable, and Kusanagi just shrugged. They took the credits and left the Rusty Rivet behind. Glitch lay in the course for the Star-Eater’s Spine.

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The Diaspora – Asteroid K9204

An hour later, the Sunrise Maiden arrived at the small asteroid, officially designated K9204. It was less than a mile in diameter and was made up of treacherous rock- and ore-infused terrain. Jagged cliffs covered the asteroid’s surface; in fact, there was only one relatively open area of any size on the entire asteroid. The planetoid was dense enough to provide low gravity and their scans indicated that it was enveloped with a thin atmosphere.

Kusanagi flew to the only open area on the asteroid large enough to accommodate a starship. Deep grooves and scorch marks in the rocky ground showed that other starships had landed and taken off from the area repeatedly, though no such ships were present. The Devourer cult base was nowhere in sight; the crew would have to explore the asteroid’s sole navigable area.

There were two wide paths heading deeper into a cavernous area on the asteroid’s surface, and the crew chose the one on the left-hand side. Nestled between a sheer cliff and a small, narrow rock formation, the ground there sloped at odd angles. To the north was a small field pocked with shards of metal, their sharp edges gleaming. To the west, a steep incline led upward to a cave-like structure.

The crew inspected the shards, determining them to be composed of cold iron. Galakrond and Glitch each collected one, cutting their hands on the sharp edges before wrapping one end up to be held safely. In a pinch, the vesk figured it could be used as an improvised weapon. They also noted a silvery glint on the ground among the metallic shards, which turned out to be a dented silver amulet with an oval pendant and a red stone embedded in its center. Glitch identified it as an unholy symbol of the Devourer.

Proceeding forward and upward, they came to a split in the path. To their left was an expansive alcove devoid of the silvery ash that was prevalent elsewhere on the asteroid. Upon closer scrutiny, it had the appearance of a gruesome graveyard. Several discarded corpses lay there – some that looked just a few days old, and some that were rotting with the telltale signs of weeks, if not months, of decay. Kusanagi examined the corpses, discovering that they had been killed in a methodical, ritualistic manner before being flayed and implanted with something after death. Sifting through the corpses was gruesome work, but the crew discovered a few items of value among the dead. These included an onyx-and-ruby ankle bracelet, a glove of storing, and credsticks containing hundreds of credits.

On the path to the right, thin rock formations curved almost elegantly to form the rough shapes of caves and tunnels, with piles of silvery ash nestled against them like snow drifts. The ash piled against the rock faces was much more uneven than elsewhere on the asteroid, ranging from a foot deep to four or five feet deep. The crew began to sift through the ash, and found a couple of large humanoid bodies. They appeared to be Sarcesians, and nearby, they found a pair of rifles, dueling swords, and credsticks that must have belonged to the aliens.

No one had any theories as to what had brought the Sarcesians to the asteroid, but they also didn’t have much time to consider it as they came under attack from three winged creatures that burst from the silvery ash! The skreelings surrounded Galakrond and managed to get through his armor with their slashing claws. This opened wounds in the vesk that bled freely. The crew managed to pick a couple of the creatures off, and without the benefit of surrounding their quarry, the aliens proved much less dangerous.

After the last one fell, the crew discovered a partially intact skeleton in a sitting position near the back of the rock formation. Across its lap was a thin, jagged, and rusted piece of metal. Emblazoned on it, in Castrovelian, were the barely legible words “Imura Excavations.” Behind the skeleton, they found four bars of pure silver ore, worth thousands of credits.

The crew barely had time to appreciate this valuable find as a shot rang out, and Kima was struck by a sniper’s laser! The shooter was using active camouflage to remain hidden, but they thought it was positioned on the cliffs above. A mad chase ensued as the crew took cover and Galakrond climbed the uneven natural steps to the top of the cliff only to have the sniper flee down the other side. Once he pinpointed the shooter, Glitch unloaded on it with magic missiles, while Kusanagi and Kima herded it back to the cliff side.

After a harrying thirty seconds or so, the sniper fell, and when its camouflage wore off, they found it to be another Sarcesian. Why it had attacked them, they couldn’t say, though if skreelings were around, there might also be a skreesire, the poor creature might have been under the influence of that monster’s magic. Near the pile of silvery ash at the foot of the cliff, they found a months-old human corpse in tattered black and red rags. The iconography on the corpse’s clothing included symbols of the Devourer. On one of its bony fingers was a filthy ¬_ring of sustenance_.

Continuing west past the rocky formations, they came to an isolated grotto dotted with more piles of silvery ash. To the northwest, a low shelf of rock dammed a pool of thick greenish liquid. A humanoid body in torn robes with one arm chewed off was ominously propped against the ledge. As they drew near, Galakrond heard a mighty telepathic screech in his head, but suffered no ill effects. He mentioned this to his companions, who paused for a moment before continuing on.

Then Kima heard a screech and felt compelled to approach the green pool. When he drew within ten feet, a fanged maw breached the surface of the pool and a tentacle lashed out to grab hold of the lashunta! The skreesire focused its attention on the solarian while the others did their best to bring the monster down. The aberration was so fixated on crushing Kima to death, that it didn’t take long for the rest of the crew to mortally wound it. It sank back into the green pool and out of sight.

The body propped against the ledge was wearing a Devourer unholy symbol around its neck, depicting a black hole with a red center. The corpse was very fresh, likely only a few days old. Beside it rested a satchel containing a hefty collection of various rare coins.

The crew searched the rest of the grotto and found a trapdoor in the ground hidden beneath the pile of silvery ash in the middle of the chamber. It opened into and underground tunnel. They had found the Star-Eater’s Spine, but Glitch mentioned that he had burned through most of his spells already. It was his first time in the field, he sheepishly admitted, and he’d been a little overzealous. The rest of the crew were understanding and they decided to bring all the loot back to the Sunrise Maiden and get some sleep before descending into the base of the Devourer Cult.

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Splintered Worlds

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