Starfinder: Dead Suns

Session 2

The Rat Race

Absalom Station – Fusion Queen

The crew helped Twitch down from the air conditioning vent in the ceiling and then set about ransacking the office for evidence. The ysoki found a datapad in Ferani Nadaz’s* desk and set to work accessing the data it contained. A few minutes later, he found what they needed. There were numerous files confirming many of the gang’s criminal activities – including several communications between Astral Extractions and the Downside Kings. One of these messages ordered the gang to kill Duravor Kreel both as a message to the Hardscrabble Collective that the corporation meant business and to keep the Starfinder Society from getting too curious about the Acreon and the Drift Rock.

He shared his findings with the others, and Galakrond suggested he send the files to Chiskisk, just in case. While he did that, the rest of crew finished looting and discussed their exit strategy. Since Kusanagi and Twitch had not been seen by anyone in the Fusion Queen who was still alive, the pair climbed back into the air ducts and made their way back to the roof. The other three, whose faces had likely been photographed, shrugged and strolled out of the storage room and into the front of the club. Most of the customers had fled after the fighting had moved into the back, but several employees and performers were still hunkered down. Boske grabbed a bottle of scotch off the bar as he passed, and no one stopped the trio from leaving. Winslow took point then, leading the vesk on a circuitous path until they eventually met the rest of the crew back at the Lorespire Complex.

Absalom Station – Lorespire Complex

After another short wait in the lobby, the crew reported in person to Chiskisk. The shirren commended them for their successful investigation and thanked them for risking their lives to find justice for Duravor. They asked the crew to keep the details of the raid on the Fusion Queen to themselves but didn’t show much sympathy for the violent gang. Chiskisk asked for the datapad with the documents implicating the Downside Kings in Kreel’s murder. They explained that the Starfinders would further verify the communications then turn the evidence over to station officials. They also recommended that the crew leave any ramifications of Astral Extractions’ possible criminal enterprises to Absalom Station’s legal system. The company had a powerful presence on the station, and Chiskisk didn’t want the Starfinder Society to risk a battle that neither has much chance of winning.

Chiskisk was interested and somewhat troubled by the revelation that Astral Extractions was attempting to keep the Starfinders away from the Acreon and the Drift Rock. As such, the shirren asked the crew to keep their eyes, ears, and antennae open for any further news about the contentious ship and its mysterious cargo that might be of interest to the Society. With the debriefing complete, Chiskisk was pleased to officially welcome the crew into the ranks of the Starfinder Society. He invited them all back to the Lorespire Complex in the morning for Commencement.

Absalom Station – The Spike

Galakrond was keen for the crew to divest themselves of the armor and extra weapons looted from the Downside Kings. He offered to take the haul to Julzakama to pawn it all off, and the others agreed. The vesk pawnbroker was amused at the bloodstained offerings, but he didn’t ask any questions and happily took the gear in trade. Twitch had held one item in reserve, stopping by Level 21 to pay a visit to Jabaxa. He was able to meet with the gang leader much more quickly, and he offered Hatchbuster’s ceremonial plate as a trophy. The old ysoki grinned and expressed his appreciation for the tribute. He took the armor, but insisted on paying the younger ratman for it all the same. The outlaws parted as friends.

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Absalom Station – Lorespire Complex

After their graduation ceremony, the crew was summoned to meet Guidance, the Starfinder Society’s compiled intelligence of Starfinder personalities. As the doors slid open, a green holographic image of a middle-aged human woman shimmered into view at the center of the room.

“Greetings,” it said. “I am Guidance. Please use the cheek swabs in the open receptacle to provide a genetic sample for Starfinder Society identification purposes. If desired, you may also place your hand on the glowing panel to receive a subdermal implant further marking you as a member of the Society.” The two vesk did not hesitate to accept the implant, and Dr. Winslow followed their lead. The other two were leerier, and opted not to accept. They all consented to provide the DNA swab, however. With that completed, Guidance continued.

“It is our pleasure to officially welcome you into the Starfinder Society. Today is the commencement of your new role as Starfinder field agents. It is our tradition, at the end of the graduation ceremony, for new graduates to present themselves to the heads of our most prominent factions and complete a task at those leaders’ behest. This allows the leaders of these groups to become familiar with all new Starfinder agents, and it provides a constant supply of agents for handling situations in our holdings on Absalom Station. While these tasks were formerly symbolic, the heavy loss of Starfinder agents in the Scoured Stars necessitates that these missions become something more. Please treat any tasks given with the gravity you would grant any other Starfinder assignment.”

“Could you tell us about the Scoured Stars,” said Kusanagi.

“Certainly. In the aftermath of the Gap came the revelation of faster-than-light travel by means of the Drift. It was during this time that the Starfinder Society formed and became one of the eminent organizations of the Pact Worlds. The gift of rapid interstellar travel facilitated a sudden land rush by colonists and corporations alike, and as exploration became an extremely lucrative business, the information that Starfinder agents retrieved secured the Society’s prestige and wealth.

“This prosperous age recently came to an abrupt end within the star systems known as the Scoured Stars. An armada containing almost eighty percent of the Society’s agents and assets joined the Society’s First Seeker on a mission to the Scoured Stars, only for all its transmissions to cease. When the remaining Starfinders in the Lorespire Complex attempted to make contact, they discovered a terrifying truth: the Scoured Stars were now cut off from the rest of the multiverse by a barrier of incomprehensible power.

“The events of the Scoured Stars left the Starfinder Society diminished, as most of the Society’s agents and assets resided within the now inaccessible systems. The Society’s prestige waned, and many of the Starfinders’ distant holdings fell to alien forces within months of the incident. Only the actions of one outspoken Starfinder, Content Not Found: elsebo, has held the Society together. Even with the dedication of Luwazi and her allies, the Society suffered further losses as some disillusioned agents opted to part ways with the organization. Maintaining the Society’s interests has proven a challenge for the remaining agents to handle, so Luwazi turned to outside assistance from reputable mercenary organizations.

“Luwazi’s hopes now rest in the hands of a new generation of recruits and ambitious factions. Today is a momentous day for the Society, as it marks the graduation of the first wave of fresh agents from accelerated Starfinder training. You represent the first step the Starfinder Society is taking to reposition itself at the forefront of galactic exploration.”

We are the Starfinders’ hope? Winslow sent to his companions telepathically. They exchanged glances with one another but said nothing. Guidance provided an overview of the four primary factions in the Society, as well as the names of their leaders and where they might be found. The crew decided to first seek out the Acquisitives, but before they sought the faction leader, they decided to get the latest news on the station.

People around the station seemed increasingly amenable to Starfinders lately. They respected both the dogged veteran field agents who were not lost in the Scoured Stars disaster and the new recruits, whose presence brought renewed hope. Stating one’s association with the Starfinder Society was likely to garner support from the locals of Absalom Station. In other news, there was growing concern about the side effects of the station’s Starstone core – a mystical device that allowed for quick travel through the Drift back to Absalom Station. The talking heads claimed that the starships of the Armada were increasingly at risk of bringing back undetected alien life, simply because the policing Stewards lacked the numbers to search every orbiting ship.

Everyone seemed to be excited about the upcoming junkrace. Apparently some nobody had mouthed off to Ratrod, the reigning junkrace champion. People knew that trash talking really got under Ratrod’s fur and wondered whether more harsh words would be exchanged before the race. Many others were excited that the latest prerelease song from sugar-pop sensation Strawberry Machine Cake was about to be released. Unlike previous releases, the band was putting out a limited-edition physical copy prior to the concert when the released single and additional tracks were scheduled to debut and become available in digital form.

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Absalom Station – Nyori Pallisades

The Acquisitives represented the result of Luwazi Elsebo’s efforts to hold the Society together by hiring mercenaries to fill the role of missing Starfinders. Many mercenaries realized that the Society was a far more lucrative venture – both monetarily and in terms of popularity – than their old line of work. The faction’s current leader, Content Not Found: Radaszam “The Dealmaker,” was concerned with maintaining the organization’s public-facing reputation, as well as the reputation and fame of those Starfinders directly serving the Acquisitives’ interests.

The Acquisitives’ leader kept a public-facing office in the Nyori Palisades, a luxurious neighborhood located in Absalom Station’s transparent central dome. The plain white doors of the office slid open to reveal a stark, dimly lit room. The chamber was bleak and expressionless in its emptiness – no vanities lined its smooth black walls, and no signs of use marred its smooth black furniture. The only occupants of the suite were a bug-eyed tadpole wriggling in a glowing blue aquarium and a reptilian vesk seated behind an onyx desk. The vesk gestured to a number of chairs in front of him, his features sharply illuminated by the light of his desk’s green holoscreen. “The new graduates,” he greeted, in a low and pleasant voice. “Good day. I am Radaszam, though since you are here, I should hope you already knew.

“I trust you are aware of our Society’s traditions, so I will cut to the point. I have a minor situation that needs resolution. One of our members, a human named Laboni, had a rather public altercation with a junk scavenger from the Spike. You might be more familiar with the scavenger than I, actually. He is a ysoki who fancifully calls himself Ratrod. I am told he runs a popular racing competition that has, hmm, several hundreds of thousands of viewers on the station’s infosphere. For some reason, Laboni felt the need to tell him that any ‘real’ mechanic could easily beat the garbage that Ratrod and his associates slap together. Now that Ratrod has issued an infosphere-wide demand that she race him and prove it, Laboni doubts she can back that claim up.”

Radaszam sighed. “Embarrassing, isn’t it?” The crew nodded agreement. “Not really the sort of troublemaker that suits our Society. Perhaps she would be better suited to the bottom of a trash compactor…”

“It can be arranged,” said Galakrond.

“Heh. No, we cannot afford to throw her out, not after so many Starfinders were lost in the Scoured Stars. Besides, we can’t let people think we are so weak that we can’t control our own members, or that we cannot stand up to a scrapyard junker. No, I would like you to assist Laboni in winning this race. Show our detractors that even the least of our Society is not someone to be trifled with.”

The crew accepted the assignment, albeit somewhat reluctantly. Radaszam gave them directions to the race’s location in Botscrap and handed them badges marking them as Laboni’s official pit crew. He suggested that they not delay, as they would need as much time as possible to help with the race.

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Absalom Station – Botscrap

Ratrod’s racing circuit was a hollowed-out section of a mountain of spare parts in Botscrap, the track specifically sanctioned by the ysoki-dominated Salvage Union that controls most of the yards. When the crew arrive at the competitors’ entrance, a small robot informs them of the basic rules of the race: racers and their pit crews were to build and improve their vehicles from the available scrap around the racetrack, and vehicles built at previous junkraces could return. Racers were allowed to fire upon other competitors during the race, but firing into the audience or ramming other racers with one’s own was grounds for immediate disqualification. Racer weapons had to be nonlethal and could affect only opponents’ vehicles.

Laboni was easy to find in the crowd due to her paisley clothes and bright white lab coat. She was in her late teens, and after introductions were made it was clear that she felt sheepish about the whole debacle. She said that she was merely aping the opinions of her seniors in the field and got carried away. Laboni was incredibly grateful to the crew for showing up to support her, as she knew she could not win the race on her own.

Winslow was not terribly impressed with the young woman, and he asked her what she was good at. Laboni espoused to be a skilled mechanic and had worked hard to pull together a decent racer from the piles of junk in Botscrap. Unfortunately, she was not a pilot and had no experience with weaponry. She showed her racer to the crew, and after Twitch inspected the vehicle, he begrudgingly admitted that it was not a bad start. Its best feature was that it could be controlled remotely by of the crew while Laboni sat in the driver’s seat. The mechanic conscripted Boske and Laboni to assist him with finding useful scrap to upgrade the team’s junkracer. Kusanagi skulked off, and Winslow and Galakrond decided to check out the other five pilots and their vehicles.

Lemgem was a blue-haired gnome covered in piercings, tattoos, and augmentations. A short conversation reveals she is obsessed with continual alterations to herself and her racer, to the point where her vehicle modifications skirt the bounds of common sense. She piloted a sleek racer that lacked any weaponry at all. Still bearing the scars of the fight that killed her dragonkin partner, Nyizin was a white-furred ryphorian racer with an obvious death wish. Unstable black-market mods made of dragon bone and elemental energies filled her bulky junkracer, which bore a single kinetic weapon. Orsis was a stoic, dark-haired damaya lashunta who looked unfairly good in black and gold. His spherical junkracer seemed fairly well armored and like Nyizin’s vehicle, it had a mounted kinetic weapon.

Velocity was a beautiful android with silver hair and skin. They had self-modified to have both masculine and feminine attributes and had decorated their clothing eyelids, and lips with bright, colorful patterns. While the android was rumored to be a very good pilot, they struggled with engineering and had never won a race – they had mostly sought entertainment by shooting at other racers during previous competitions, as evidenced by the three weapons attached to their well-armed junkracer. Ratrod was a ysoki with mottled gray-and-white fur and a showman’s personality. People in the Spike considered him something of a hero to the ysoki-dominated Scrap Union. Galakrond remembered what they’d heard around the station about the ratman and during their brief conversation casually expressed how unimpressed he was before walking away. The vesk grinned as he heard Ratrod sputtering behind him.

Back at Laboni’s junkracer, the crew were approached by race officials and informed that Kusanagi had been tossed out of the engine pit for attempting to sabotage another racer’s vehicle. They were told in no uncertain terms that if any of the pit crew were caught cheating again, the entire team would be disqualified. Twitch called the android to ask what happened, and Kusanagi told him that he’d managed to muck up Orsis’ steering column before he was caught. Unfortunately, the android was the best pilot in the crew and his expulsion threw a wrench in the works.

The two hatched a plan, and Twitch asked Winslow to go get lunch for the crew and meet with Kusanagi on the outside. A few minutes later, “Winslow” – in truth Kusanagi disguised by the holoskin the crew had found in Ferani Nadaz’s storage closet – returned with lunch for the team. By the time they finished eating (and congratulating themselves on their cleverness), it was time for the race to start.

The crew got their junkracer to the starting line. They had added a second energy weapon, enhanced the steering, and greatly increased the speed of the vehicle. It was just as fast as Ratrod’s junkracer, if more poorly armored. They also had twice as much firepower as the ysoki champion, even if his weapon was more accurate. Each of the vesk had a remote for one of the guns and the disguised android held the controller for steering Laboni’s junkracer. Everyone was ready with they received the starting signal.

The crew matched Ratrod’s speed in taking an early lead, with Orsis just behind, trailed by Velocity, Nyizin, and Lemgem. Predictably, the ysoki targeted Laboni, which caused problems a short while later when her junkracer was also struck by one of Velocity’s weapons. The trigger-happy android was shooting at each of the racers in front of their vehicle. The crew fell into third as Lemgem’s vehicle moved into second place behind Ratrod. Velocity was close behind Laboni, trailed by Orsis and Nyizin.

The ryphorian then made a move, launching her bulky junkracer from last place to third in a single burst of speed. Ratrod narrowly held the lead over Lemgem. Laboni, Velocity, and Orsis brought up the rear of the racers. Then Ratrod took a couple of shots and crashed into some junk on the sidelines, costing him speed. The crew caught up to him to tie for the lead, with Lemgem just behind. Nyizin held onto fourth place with Velocity and Orsis trailing.

Ratrod and Laboni remained neck and neck, pulling ahead of the rest of the racers as Lemgem spun out and fell to fifth place. Nyizin and Velocity pulled ahead of the gnome, while Orsis remained in last place. The end of the race was in sight, and though the crew’s shots missed Ratrod, one of Velocity’s struck the ysoki’s vehicle, and sent him into the sidelines again. Laboni’s racer zoomed past the champion and past the finish line, and the crowd went wild!

On the victor’s platform, Laboni publically apologized to Ratrod for her previous statements. The ysoki’s pride clearly still hurt, but the gesture compelled the Salvage Union to offer her extra cash and prizes. Additionally, the praise went to her head and she vowed to become a regular competitor on Ratrod’s show. The young woman was so grateful for the crew’s help, she shared the wealth with them.

When the crew reported this twist in events Radaszam both exasperated and vaguely amused at the result, because it inadvertently provided the Starfinder Society with valuable contacts in the Salvage Union. The vesk congratulated them on a job well done and promised to report their success to Guidance.

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Incident at Absalom Station