Starfinder: Dead Suns

Session 20


Cloudside Community Center

Herald Tzayl was very interested to hear the tale of the crew and their experiences in Istamak. The Starfinders wove a tale of battling cursed kish in the House of Renewal and the assault of the hologram-spirit in the Maze of Ghosts. The outcasts were most interested in the “living building” in the Broken Lands that tried to devour the crew once they had acquired the key to the secret entrance to the Temple Found.

As the story came to a close, one of the outcasts brought forward a pair of simple-looking gray boots lined with fur. Glitch noted that the gift possessed a minor enchantment and suggested that they would be best suited for Galakrond. Afterward, the crew settled into to sleep.

<<< >>>

Glitch and Kima did not feel well the next morning, and they returned to the ship so that Winslow could take a look at them. The shirren determined they had been afflicted with a disease – likely from the white mass that occupied the SecuriTech offices in the Broken Lands. A few spells later, and the Starfinders were feeling much better. The crew then made their way to their final destination on Istamak.

<<< >>>

The Temple Found

The kish of Istamak had imbued the structure with heavy religious import, as over the millennia it remained the most intact building in the city. They understood the Foundry had been important to their ancestors, though they didn’t know the exact reasons why. Because of a damaged exterior sign, the building had become known as the “Temple Found.” Until recently, any kish could enter the temple, explore most of its interior, and commune with the ancestors by examining the Foundry’s many surviving data files. Some areas (such as the basement) were considered off-limits due to dangerous energies or creatures that had made their lairs there. However, after the Cult of the Devourer took advantage of the kish’s hospitality, ransacked the Temple Found for information, and attacked the kish – killing a few and wounding more than a dozen before leaving – several kish believed that it was time for a change in the rules of access.

Chief among this outspoken group was Xavra, a huntmaster in the service of Istamak’s leader. He began to demand that the Temple Found be closed off to all but those who had proven themselves worthy, especially excluding any further outsiders. He had swayed many to his position before another member of the leader’s council – the curate Tzayl – decried this proposal. Tzayl and her supporters were subsequently banished, and Xavra took his warriors into the temple, closing and barring the doors behind them to force the issue. Xavra held the upper hand; he had brought enough food and water with him to remain locked up in the temple for several weeks. Even so, he and his soldiers were fanatical enough to starve themselves to death to prove their point.

The main entrance to the Temple Found was located in the center of the building’s northern facing. The front plaza featured an elaborate fountain with a hammer-and-anvil motif. The fountain no longer sprayed water, but the kish believed the rain it gathered had healing properties – explained by a number of images painted on the side of the fountain. The large front door was also emblazoned with blacksmith imagery and was free of kish graffiti. It was quite thick, sturdy, and quite thoroughly locked. It would take days of work with industrial tools to cut through the doors.

Fortunately, the crew wasn’t going in through the front.

Weeds poked through cracks in the ground in the long, narrow courtyard shadowed by large, blocky buildings. A broken bench sat next to a simple but imposing metal door with no visible handle or hinges. A sign was affixed to the door above a digital keypad. The sign read “Security Only” in Kishaleen, and the keypad features other Kishaleen symbols that roughly corresponded to numbers. They input the “maintenance mode” security code and entered the building.

A faint layer of slime covered every surface of the connected chambers past the entry hall. The largest open area contained a set of empty lockers, one of which seemed likely to have once held a collection of guns and ammunition. Bits of metal and plastic were scattered everywhere. One side room contained a small, round table, another a metal desk, and a third, a few rows of chairs and a podium. A door led east.

As they moved in to search the area, they noted an ooze that appeared to have incorporated a number of technological items into its form to create a hermit crab-like shell. This scavenger slime appeared to be armed with a number of weapons, including a functioning artillery laser! The slime blasted Galakrond a few times before the crew managed to put it down. The vesk requested a few minutes to recover, while the rest of the crew pulled the functioning weapons and other tech out of the mess of the corpse.

The eastern door opened on a stairwell that made a wide circuit downward, terminating in another unmarked door. Past this, they found a large storage chamber. The southern half of the spacious chamber was divided into two metal containers that stretched up to brush the ceiling. Large corrugated doors on the containers’ fronts had been painted with crude symbols that appeared to be kish warnings about punishment for seeking forbidden knowledge. The area opened into a hallway to the west, but the crew first moved to inspect the containers.

Galakrond heard unsettling noises from inside, some combination of an inferno, a flood, a tornado, and an earthquake. Curiosity got the better of him and he pulled the corrugated door up to reveal a pair of large elemental creatures – one of earth and stone and another of water! The crew engaged with these creatures and had just defeated them when a fire elemental blasted through the door of the other container to attack. An air elemental flew out after it and both continued the assault. The Starfinders had a harder time with these creatures but managed to defeat them without anyone taking any serious harm.

They found an x-ray visor in one of the containers, but the device had been built for the multiple eyes of a kish. It would require modification to function for two-eyed beings without the user suffering sickening headaches. They stowed the visor and continued into the western hall.

Six nearly identical offices had nameplates attached to the wall outside each. They appeared to have been converted into meditation cells by the kish, each containing a simple woven mat and several crude bowls coated with dried-up paint. The walls were a confusing riot of colors and shapes, and the southernmost office contained the body of a kish warrior. The corpse was burned in places, and two of its limbs were clearly broken, but upon closer examination, the cause of death seemed to have been drowning. It looked like the poor wretch had fallen afoul of the elementals.

Continuing west, they found over a dozen standing desks filling another large chamber, many of which had been heaped with dried flowers, decorative bundles of grass, and other homemade trinkets. Though worn in many places, the faintly checkered carpet still looked high quality. A large locked door led to the west, and a red door stood in the northern wall. More immediately pertinent, however, were the kish warrior and her animal companions, a pair of eohi!

The crew engaged with the hostile alien, but very quickly Kusanagi found himself outmatched. The kish warrior hit him in the head – hard – and a second blow rendered the android bleeding out on the floor of the office space. Kima maneuvered to engage and eliminate her while Galakrond tangled with the eohi and Glitch rushed over to force-feed a potion to the dying android. A few tense moments later the threats were down and the Starfinders took a long moment to recover, Kusanagi downing a couple more potions.

The door to the north opened on what appeared to have once been a reading room. A ten-foot-long table ringed by chairs occupied this chamber. The table was scored by hundreds of shallow gouges, seemingly at random. On the northern wall, a metal shutter closed off a five-foot-wide window. There was a small sign on the shutter which read “Will Return Shortly” in Kishaleen. They searched the small chamber and found a secret door near the shutter, got ready and went through.

Shelves holding a staggering array of datapads lined the walls and stood freely around the chamber. A small desk sat in front of the backside of the shuttered window adjacent to the secret door, which served as the room’s only entrance. A balcony holding even more shelves stretched across the eastern, western, and northern walls, and there they found Xavra flanked by three kish warriors.

The zealot immediately launched into a tirade in vulgar Kishaleen, which most of the party could basically understand. “I knew the ancestors would send further demons to test us. We were too weak and trusting at first, and many believed that you weren’t demons but messengers. But why would the ancestors send such strange and foul creatures as peaceful emissaries? And what news did you bring? Nothing besides death of good kish, defilement of our sacred spaces, and corruption of some of our finest minds. You clouded their eyes and made them think our way of life wasn’t under attack. I could see, though. I knew. When I send you back to the ancestors, you can tell them Xavra knows and he stands strong. I will always stand strong!”

Kusanagi, who had not bothered trying to learn the local tongue understood not a word of it and was the first to fire, flying to the top of one of the nearby stacks. His shot flew wide, and Xavra returned fire. The crew immediately made their way onto the balcony by various means, which irritated Glitch a little, who had hoped to blast the kish with his latest attack spells. Things looked dicey once Xavra unleashed a solarian zenith power to slow half the party, but by that time it was too late. Galakrond’s final doshko blow brought the huntmaster down and finishing off his lackeys was a simple exercise.

With Xavra and his warriors defeated, the crew was free to explore the secured records room. The datapads contained a multitude of technical documents. Unfortunately, the once-tidy system of organization for the library was now in shambles. Glitch found and hacked the librarian’s terminal, accessed the main filing system and discovered the location of the Stellar Degenerator datapad. However, when the crew went to that particular shelf, they find a datapad about quantum fluid dynamics instead. On a hunch, he looked up where the quantum fluid dynamics datapad was supposed to be located and examined that shelf. There, they found the actual location of the report on the Stellar Degenerator.

The report contained the information about the Stellar Degenerator’s history and eventual storage.

Thousands of millennia ago, an ancient race known as the kishalee had crafted technological wonders and flew among the stars, seeding colonies all across the galaxy. One such territory was on the planet Nejeor VI, a gas giant with virtually inexhaustible natural resources. The kishalee built floating cities among the clouds, the grandest of which was Istamak. Colonists came from far and wide for a chance to live in this shining metropolis, ready to work on the gas-mining platforms or study the planet’s unique weather patterns.

Then the kishalee’s war with the sivvs began. It raged for centuries, and the resources of Nejeor VI were vital in keeping the kishalee fighting. A weapons-research facility and factory called the Foundry was built in Istamak in an effort to find an edge against the sivvs that could end the hostilities. The sivvs created their own superweapon first – the Stellar Degenerator – but kishalee agents ended the war by capturing the weapon before it could be fired. Bankrupted by the creation of a weapon of system-wide mass destruction, the sivv civilization collapsed soon thereafter. The kishalee then turned many of their civilization’s resources to studying and understanding the Stellar Degenerator. The Foundry was sent vast information about the weapon so it might participate in the study and analysis of the doomsday device.

In time, the kishalee decided that they currently had no need for the Stellar Degenerator’s massive destructive power, so it should be hidden away, in part to store it for future use and in part to keep it out of the reach of any other enemies. The best and brightest kishalee technomancers created a demiplane in which they would store the weapon—a place accessible only through a titanic structure called the Gate of the Twelve Suns, which was constructed far from the Nejeor system. The study of the Stellar Degenerator in Istamak came to a close, and all information on it was archived within the Foundry.

Years passed, and the kishalee came into conflict with other species. Though the Stellar Degenerator could destroy the home system of any opposing force, the kishalee used it only once. So horrifying was the terrible, dark fate the Stellar Degenerator imposed by cursing worlds to sit in dark orbits around a dead sun, the kishalee never again called upon the superweapon after its sole wartime use.

Though dominant for thousands of years after the war with the sivv, the kishalee civilization eventually deteriorated. For unknown reasons, its government slowly collapsed, and the citizens of Istamak were cut off from others of their kind. Regular supply runs that were vital to the city’s survival stopped arriving, and the kishalee of Istamak were forced to fend for themselves, tearing down buildings, turning the empty city blocks into farms, and learning to hunt both native fauna and species imported to the planet. Over the centuries, these kishalee had apparently gradually degenerated into a less civilized, less fragile version of their species – the kish – and in the process forgot much of their people’s history and achievements and understanding of the scientific wonders they lived among. Knowledge of the Stellar Degenerator and the Gate of the Twelve Suns was just a tiny fraction of what was lost.

But nothing stayed lost forever.

The datapad contained a warning that all research into the subject of the Stellar Degenerator had been terminated. It also held the coordinates of the Gate of the Twelve Suns – the artificial megastructure deep in the Vast that acted as the entrance point to the demiplane holding the Stellar Degenerator – which was enough to allow the crew to plot a course there. The Gate of the Twelve Suns consisted of a dozen stars arranged in a circle, each orbited by a single planetoid; the devices that controlled the gate, further examples of advanced kishalee technology, were located on these planetoids. From the datapad, the crew gathered that only a small crew was required to operate the gate.

The Starfinders knew they were approaching the end of their journey.

<<< >>>

The Ruined Clouds