Okay. But how far is it between it/Leila and the struggle on the ground? Less then 6 metrons? More? A lot more?
By my count the sniper, as in the rifle-was-dropped-here-spot, would be about 12 metrons away from the battle? (2 move-shot actions away. But that doesn't take into account that the hopping vampire might have been further away from the fight at the start!)
Looking at the map Leila/vampire are in the north/south center near the lip overlooking the acid pit on the eastern half of the map. It's a 9 metron gap from there to the western half over the acid pit 'as the crow flies'. Without some sort of flight or leaping ability to traverse that it's about an 18 metron distance to go around and down the rough stone steps on the north end of the gorge to the bottom western half of the map. From there it's 6 more metrons to the bone trooper smoke fight in the middle of the lower western half of the map. Thus far the vampire has only demonstrated the ability to ignore difficult terrain thanks to its hops. Hope that answers any layout questions you might have!
Man or machine, Cueta's healing powers doesn't seem to care - and Prospero-4 feels some of his severely damaged structures to be repaired. What seemed hopeless a second ago, is a merely a challenge now. Especially when the backline bone troopers stop their magical barrage, and move in.
"It would seem the enemy has run out of magical powers", the android observers, now clearly refreshed. Unfortunately the blinking light on his rifle indicates he has almost run out of battery as well. Well, overcharging never was a good option for battery lifespan...
Once again, he steps away from the melee to shoot the bone troopers.
Plasma rifle: 2d10 + 11 + 2 ⇒ (5, 8) + 11 + 2 = 26
damage: 1d10 + 6 ⇒ (2) + 6 = 8
"Oof!" Leila winced as the hopper-vampire tried to batter her around. See? It was things like this that made her think that sometimes it would have been good to be huge and stompy. But on the bright side; being small and slippery meant that the foul thing hadn't gotten a hold of her yet. And that was how it was going to be!
Dodging another swipe the halfling stepped away from the edge of the cliff. She'd need a running start for sure. Here it goes! With a sharp inhalation she sprinted around the vampire and leaped out over the acid pit. "Weeeeeh!!" she cried out over the comms as she ignited her jump pack and finally leave the hopper properly stranded.
Athletics to Jump: 2d10 + 12 + 4 ⇒ (9, 2) + 12 + 4 = 27
Double move to move. Ignoring AoO from vampire with the Operative Exploit. Running horizontal jump followed by Jump Pack for 6metrons. Distance jumped is athletics check/5
"Haha yes!! Hopp like this you sucker!!" Leila cried out triumphantly as she soared over the acid pit instead of landing face-first in it. That would have been a downer!
|Cueta Guiding Star|
Hmm, guarded step is a move action. Going to have to put off nuking the vamp for another round.
Drawing her doshko, Cueta swings at the nearest enemy, grunting as she puts everything she has into the swing.
doshko: 1d20 + 8 ⇒ (5) + 8 = 13+2 if get em applies to this baddy
SOTLY: 1d100 ⇒ 52
damage: 1d12 + 10 ⇒ (3) + 10 = 13+2 if get em applies to this baddy
2d10 + 7 ⇒ (4, 8) + 7 = 19
2d10 + 7 ⇒ (5, 2) + 7 = 14
1d100 ⇒ 80
1d6 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
2d10 + 14 ⇒ (6, 5) + 14 = 25
2d6 + 4 ⇒ (2, 5) + 4 = 11
The battle in the vicinity of Astrianna's smoke grenade continues. In the chaotic swirl Astrianna's pistol attack misses even though she swears it was well aimed. Cueta and Prospero though fare better and the damaged skeleton is cut down by blade and fire even as its sword started glowing with arcane power.
The two remaining troopers are implacable though and continue hemming the android in with their coordinate movements. Another swipe gets through Prospero's armor. 6 damage to Prospero
Outside the smoke Zeera lets out an incoherent screech of rage of such magnitude that it gets through even the thin dead atmosphere of Eox as the thieving halfling jet jumps away with her sniper. She whips out a pistol and, with unerring aim, a focused laser hits Leila.
Status Everyone except Leila and Zeera are in smoke getting 20 percent concealment. Two bone troopers are in melee with Prospero and are somewhat hurt and a step away from Cueta and have concealment. Zeera is on top of the gorge alone and sniperless. Leila is below. Round 6 party up.
Prospero 14 HP damage plus has 17-6=11 stamina
Astrianna 37 damage.
Leila 27+11=38 damage.
Bone 4 12 damage
Bone 5 3 damage
Zeera on top of cliff 46-5=41 damage
Bone 1 dead
Bone 2 dead.
Astrianna curses as her previous shot misses- not that it mattered considering the skeleton was chopped in half seconds later.
She trains her pistol onto the most ragged looking bone trooperthat was harassing Prospero and pulls the trigger once again. "We almost have them, focus fire on my target!"
Standard Action: Improved get 'em on most wounded bone trooper and shoot disintegrator pistol.
pistol shot vs EAC: 2d10 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (2, 8) + 7 + 2 = 19
acid damage: 1d10 + 3 ⇒ (6) + 3 = 9
concealment: 1d100 ⇒ 49
"Ow!" Leila flinches as her back heats up in a most unpleasant way. But on the bright side; much less unpleasant then being shot by a high caliber rifle. Improvement! Plus she was sure the emotional trauma would also count for something.
It was very tempting to add some injury to the insult and shoot back with her shiny new rifle, but she leveled her pistol at the designated bone-trooper instead. They could deal with the vampire later! She squeezed off a round before retreating into the smoke-cloud while sticking out her tongue at the angry captain.
Trick!: 2d10 + 16 - 1 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (7, 7) + 16 - 1 + 4 + 2 = 35
Attack!: 2d10 + 9 + 2 ⇒ (3, 6) + 9 + 2 = 20
Damage!: 1d8 + 3 + 2 + 3d8 ⇒ (6) + 3 + 2 + (5, 4, 8) = 28
Trick Attack! Shoot->Move
|Cueta Guiding Star|
Nearest threat neutralized, Cueta turns her attention back to the vampire. Cueta balls her fists and screams, and yellow-silver streaks of star stuff pound into Zeera.
magic missile full round: 3d4 + 3 ⇒ (4, 4, 1) + 3 = 12
Exhausted of this endless duck and weave with the troopers, Prospero-4 jumps back from the skeletons' claws to blast away the final charge on his rifle.
Plasma rifle: 2d10 + 11 + 2 ⇒ (7, 7) + 11 + 2 = 27 concealment: 1d100 ⇒ 42
damage: 1d10 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
The android is left standing with the alarm light blinking on the rifle - there will be no more shooting with this one. Luckily, he carrier a couple of extra guns.
Can drawing a weapon be combined with guarded step?
2d10 + 5 ⇒ (6, 9) + 5 = 20
1d6 + 4 ⇒ (2) + 4 = 6
2d10 + 19 ⇒ (1, 6) + 19 = 26
2d10 + 14 ⇒ (1, 3) + 14 = 18
1d100 ⇒ 52
Astrianna and Leila combine forces to drop the second last bone trooper leaving only one who gets blasted by the last charge in Prospero's gun. It still stands though. It is implacable however and steps forward in pursuit of the androd that is its designated target. It's sword lashes out putting yet another nick in Prospero's battered armor.
Take 6 damage
Meanwhile Cueta's return to offense slams into the vampire who seems to be incredibly resiliant. Zeera, still screaming in outrage takes a long hop towards the stairs firing her pistol at Leila as she goes. The shot goes *well* wide.
Sorry Prospero drawing a weapon is a move action unless you have the quick draw feat which makes it a swift
Status Everyone except Zeera is in smoke getting 20 percent concealment. One bone troopers looking fairly hurt is in melee with Prospero and a step away from Cueta with concealment. Zeera is on top of the gorge with a pistol and has moved towards the steps heading down. Round 7 party up.
Prospero 14 HP damage plus has 11-6=5 stamina
Astrianna 37 damage.
Leila 38 damage.
Bone 4 12+9+28 damage = DESTROYED
Bone 5 3+13=16 damage
Zeera on top of cliff 41+12-5=48 damage
Bone 1 destroyed
Bone 2 destroyed.
"Hohoho, looks like this is going to be another victory for the Starfinders!" Astrianna gloats over their private comms as she tries to shoot the last bone trooper. The shot completely misses and ends up hitting a nearby discarded skull that starts to slowly melt into a pile of goo.
Dispite the awful shot, she still has the gumption to taunt their vampire assilant. "Now is a good time to surrender, Veesh! Can't be much of a Captain with no troops... or a head. We'll let you go back to sucking blood out of juice boxes or whatever if you'll just tell us about the Stellar Degenerator!"
Standard Action: Improved get 'em on last bone trooper and shoot disintegrator pistol.
pistol shot vs EAC:: 2d10 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (4, 1) + 7 + 2 = 14
acid damage:: 1d10 + 3 ⇒ (4) + 3 = 7
concealment: 1d100 ⇒ 44
"Yes! Go us!" Leila cheers back over the coms. She takes a potshot at the last bone trooper while looking around to see if there were any halfling-sized rock or crevice where she could take cover from the angry vampire.
Trick!: 2d10 + 16 - 1 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (5, 3) + 16 - 1 + 4 + 2 = 29
Attack!: 2d10 + 9 + 2 ⇒ (2, 10) + 9 + 2 = 23
Damage!: 1d8 + 3 + 2 + 3d8 ⇒ (1) + 3 + 2 + (1, 8, 7) = 22
Concealment?: 1d100 ⇒ 92
The bone troopers now but smoldering ashes in the ground, Prospero-4 turns around to face the vampire. By the looks of it, Leila has done a very good job keeping the big boss busy. Now it's time to finish this.
The android drops the drained plasma rifle to the ground, and draws a new gun - the Thunderstrike Steersweeper previously owned by now-truly-deceased Xerantha.
Streetsweeper: 2d10 + 11 ⇒ (7, 8) + 11 = 26
damage: 1d10 + 6 ⇒ (6) + 6 = 12 sonic
"Four against one, now. The odds are against you, Zeera." Prospero-4 states, to reinforce Astrianna's demand for surrender.
|Cueta Guiding Star|
No time to let up now, Cueta keeps pounding the vampire with her magic. More starstuff flings from the pilot and crashed into Zeera.
damage: 3d4 + 3 ⇒ (2, 2, 4) + 3 = 11
1d100 ⇒ 91
2d10 + 19 ⇒ (2, 3) + 19 = 24
2d10 + 14 ⇒ (6, 3) + 14 = 23
1d100 ⇒ 100
2d4 + 6 ⇒ (1, 3) + 6 = 10
Prospero's shot is true, but the shifting nature of the smoke confuses his combat tracking module enough that it hits where Zeera was rather than where she is which is hopping down the steps screaming with seemingly incoherent rage as she fires again at the sniper thief, hitting Leila with pistol fire once again. The hit is barely deflected by the halfling's armor systems, one more hit and she'll start taking real damage!
More star stuff slams into Cueta but the vampire just keeps coming!
Leila takes 10 damage. Zeera rolled well on concealment vs Prospero.
Status Everyone except Zeera is in smoke getting 20 percent concealment. Zeera is halfway down the steps with a pistol. Round 8 party up.
Prospero 14 HP damage plus has 5 stamina. Inspired Boost Done.
Astrianna 37 damage.
Leila 38+10 = 48 damage. Stamina depleted.
Bone 5 16+7+22 damage = DESTROYED
Zeera on top of cliff 48+11-5=54 damage
Bone 1 destroyed
Bone 2 destroyed.
Bone 3 destroyed.
Bone 4 DESTROYED
"Oh how sad I think she's gone rabid! Cueta, can you cut off her damn legs so she'll stop hoppping around all over the place?" Astrianna comments as she lines up a shot on the vampire and shoots a stream of disintegrating rays at her position.
The vlogger's HUD flashes that her pistol as expended its battery, so she ejects it onto bone-strewn ground below. With a smooth motion she slides in a new one from her belt clip and gets ready to shoot again.
Standard action: Improved Get 'em on Veera, +2 to attack against her this turn and fire pistol.
Move action: Reload Liquid Disintegrator pistol with a fresh battery.
pistol shot vs EAC: 2d10 + 7 + 2 ⇒ (6, 6) + 7 + 2 = 21
acid damage: 1d10 + 3 ⇒ (10) + 3 = 13
"Oof! Some sort of mad all right!" Leila quipped as cheerfully as one could be when shot at. "Hopping mad even!"
Very satisfied with herself she returned fire with her thundering pistol. Hopefully the vampire would go down before she could start drawing actual blood!
Trick!: 2d10 + 16 - 1 + 4 + 2 ⇒ (3, 4) + 16 - 1 + 4 + 2 = 28
Attack!: 2d10 + 9 + 2 ⇒ (5, 2) + 9 + 2 = 18
Damage!: 1d8 + 3 + 2 + 3d8 ⇒ (4) + 3 + 2 + (3, 4, 8) = 24
Concealment?: 1d100 ⇒ 88
The vampire continues her erratic jerky hops towards the group, advancing closer and closer amidst their fire. Finally though a stream of acidic energy and a sonic blast hits her, in quick succession, right between her eyes and the raging unlife in them fades to nothing as she drops straight down with a clatter onto a pile of ancient femurs at the base of the gorge steps.
Leila advances cautiously and after a few exploratory pokes determines that Zeera Vesh is now just dead instead of undead.
Picking over the five bone troopers allows the group to find what seems like a standard military loadout of a graphite carbon skin, a tactical dueling sword, a tactical semi-auto pistol with 30 rounds, and a mk 1 ring of resistance as well each of them has a credstick worth 500 credits or 2000 total.
One of the bone troopers is wearing a locket with a holopic of the trooper with another skeleton. While all skeletons look alike to the lifeist group, they've spent enough time on Eox that they are able to recognize some signs that lead them to believe that the other skeleton is Gretal Rapinder, the loyalist retired soldier they had interviewed who had reported her roommate to the Ministry of Eternal Vigilance.
Zeera has significantly more impressive gear. She is wearing freeboother armor II with a mk 1 electrostatic field installed, she was wielding a corona laser pistol with one fresh battery and one depleted (10 charges), a credstick containing 6000, and finally a secure data module.
Looking the data module over the team is able to ascertain it is sophisticated enough to need to be installed in a tier 3 or higher computer in order to access. Probably has countermeasures on it too.
The shirren eye rifle Leila had pilfered has an etched inscription in Eoxian. The bizarrely angular glyphs resolve into readable Galcom with their translation software.
Dearest Zeera, on the anniversary of your ascension into undeath and defiance of the accursed B!*~! of the Graves, I can think of no better gift than this weapon with which to defy all enemies of the true Eox who will be forced to kneel in face of the glory of deathlessness. Please accept it as a humble token of my love. - AS
Congratulations! Level up!
"Yeah! Victory!!" Leila cheers loudly over the comms and changes battery in her gun just in case. But all the undead seems to be really dead now. That was good!
Sooo... She carefully toed the nearest bone trooper to see if it had something useful on it. "We should search them and the place, just in case."
Did we check miss marrowblight for stuff earlier?
"Hahaha hopping mad!" Astrianna laughs as Veera's face melts away from their combined assault. It might be at this point that some of the vlogger's viewers realize she is probably a sociopath.
"Oh yeah." She agrees before walking over and immediately notices a datapad on the ex-vampire's hip. "Looks like Xeratha was smart enough to smash her electronic devices, but the so-called "Captain" wasn't!" Is exclaimed as she unclips the device and carelessly tosses it to Prospero.
"Crack this thing, will you?" A beat passes. "Electronically. Not physically. Don't break it. Like, hack it." She clarifies herself, having been burned before by the Android's literal interpretation of words.
Reaching down to pick up Veesh's laser pistol, it was easy to tell it was far superior to her hot pink one. "I'll have to buy a decal for this thing, my pink pistol is too famous for me to change now!"
The locket causes her to raise an eyebrow, but she just ends up shrugging and putting it back on the skeleton. "Should have listened to your friend."
Yeah I already added Xerantha's loot to our group loot.
|Cueta Guiding Star|
Cueta laughs, appreciating Leila's pun, even as she runs her hands over herself, noting with surprise that she came through this fight relatively unscathed, not having once been burned, exploded, or impregnated.
Things are looking up.
"What next, yeah? And does anyone need any healing magic? I can probably coax some from my friend."
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Prospero-4 sees the vampire fall motionless into the ground. Wearily he scans the surroundings one more time, and once he is sure there are no more enemies lurking by, he let's his weapon drop.
It was quite a fight, and momentarily he felt this was the end of him. But they prevailed.
"Good work." he says. Feeling he ought to say something, some inspirational post-battle one-liner. This particular one will not be often quoted in the history books, however.
"Thank you Cueta, I could use some healing," he continues, noticing he is quite battered.
This self-contemplation is quickly interrupted by Astrianna, who slams the datapad into his hands. Tired or not, he cannot resist the temptation to hack into the device, and starts carefully investigating the interface with his wireless protocols.
"This is quite heavily encrypted. But I might have just enough processing power to access it."
If Prospero-4 had had a mother, she would probably have warned against plugging vampire-owned devices into his brain - but sometimes one has to do what one has to do... So the android loads the intrusion algorithms, and plugs in.
Computers: 2d10 + 18 ⇒ (6, 8) + 18 = 32
AS of now P-4's custom rig is a tier 3 computer, and "Whenever you use your custom rig to successfully hack into a computer, you can also disable one countermeasure installed in the system". So maybe it can be used for accessing the datapad?
It turns out to be just a data module that Prospero easily accesses. As he does so he notices a wipe countermeasure that he did not trigger and is able to deactivate with surprising ease.
What is also surprising is that the Captain was apparently carrying with her a copy of the data that was deleted from the computer in the Star Eater's Spine. According to the Devourer Cultists information a distant start system named Nejeor is key to finding the Gate of the Twelve Suns. The coordinates to the system put it in the Vast and a Drift Engine will be required to get to it!
There is also a note. Seems like it's from an Admiral of the Corpse Fleet:
I trust you with this as a taste of things to come my love, once you take care of the Starfinder pests I will ensure you will be promoted to an honoured place by my side as we use the ancient superweapon to bring the rest of the Pact Worlds to their knees and forced to acknowledge the primacy of Eox! - S
Book 3 done! Congratulations guys!
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When they had gathered their wits and loot and returned to the spaceport Leila felt that there were something she had to do. Gretal Rapinder deserved some closure - though she wasn't really sure how the undead would take it. But it was the right thing to do. So the halfling purchased whatever she thought would be a pick-me-up, a bony flower or jar of I-really-hope-these-are-fake eyeballs and headed towards the apartment. Of course anyone that was willing to come was more then welcome (she'd appreciate the moral and actual support if it came to that!)! But she'd insist that they wear their fine eoxian-style outfits.
*Knock knock* Leila straightened her dress for the twentieth time and tried again to steel her nerves as she waited by the door. When/if the door opened she handed over the holopic and then held forth the other offering. "I'm sorry ... Your friend didn't make it..."
Rapinder accepts the holopic and gift with a grave expression. She was a traitor but... before that she served Eox faithfully and... she was a friend. Thank you. the skeleton says before shutting the door quietly.
With that uncomfortable task completed the group returns to The Sunrise Maiden to find a untiring crew of ghouls laboring on upgrades to their ship. Their communicator beeps, it is Chiskisk.
The Ministry of Eternal Vigilance has been informing their superiors in Eox of your exploits and your able service to Eox has led to a lot of our old allies on the planet re-establishing contact. This has been a windfall to say the least as the Eoxians are patrons of a lot of expeditions to recover artifacts and the Starfinder Society is of course the best placed to reward such patronage. I've redirected some of those funds to continue to reward the four of you in turn for what you have done. But tell me, what did you learn from the Eoxians who attacked the Devourer cult base?
Astrianna is lounging, cat-like, in the captain's chair of the Sunrise Maiden even as ghouls in jumpsuits replace hardware and install the latest systems onto their vintage ship. She is chewing on something that fills the air with a delicious raspberry scent (that is probably lost on all the surrounding necrophytes) and looking through the footage she captured when the comm beeps.
"Great, thanks! That money will an excellent way to show future advertisers that we're self-funded and not going anywhere." Astrianna chirps without even looking up from the repeatedly looping slow-mo shot of melting Veesk's face clean off its bones on her wrist-mounted holo. "Oh, yeah we found some fantastic info but it's a little sensitive. Pumpkin, set up a secure data upload to The Spire, Absalom Station, at Chiskisk's personal repository."
With a sweep of her fingers across her holographic keyboard, she sends a copy of the data from the Star Eater's Spine that was previously wiped. "Fresh off the smoldering body of a Corpse Fleet Officer. It's the coordinates to a system out in the Vast, and our next destintation to find the Gate of the Twelve Suns." The half-elf claps her hands together happily. "These episode titles write themself!"
The daunting task of searching an entire solar system has not yet dawned on her.
Oh. That wasn't so bad. Though she had almost hoped the skeleton would have talked to them a bit more. It looked sad ... The halfling scribbled her mail address on a note paper - just in case it wanted to talk later - and slipped it under the door before heading back to the ship.
"Yeah! How hard can it be really? To write titles I mean. Searching that system is going to take a loooong while. Unless hmm the corpse fleet finds it first?" Leila makes some small-talk with Astri's monologue while making sure the workers put the right thing in the right spot. And don't step on anything important, like her secret stash of jerky. "I really hope the corpse fleet is an exaggeration. Would rather have corpse handful-of-ships. Or just one. Much easier. Oh hey have you seen our new shields? Really neat!"
"Yes, the new shield design is excellent. I approve. Very good job with the upgrade schematics, Leila."
Prospero-4 has been running reports on the ship status ever since the group came back on board the Sunrise Maiden, absorbing the information like a true data junkie.
A couple of rapid taps on the android's command panel, and a completely new sound resonates throughout the ship for a few seconds. And as soon as the sound appeared, it is gone and replaced by full silence. And a new light starts blinking on the pilot's panel.
"The Drift engine is fully charged, and the coordinates set. We are ready to traverse, captain."
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While the team looks over the upgraded ship, Cueta beings to feel a little queasy, slumping into the pilot's seat with sweat beading on her forehead. Even though there is medical skill in the group they elect to take the human woman to a professional doctor who diagnoses her with 'freezer sickness', a not very uncommon side effect of having been in cyro stasis for so long and coming out of it far faster than recommended.
The solution is counter-intuitive, Cueta is to go back into cyrostasis with her vitals being monitored. When the medical software determines that her body has gone back into deep stasis the stasis chamber will begin bringing her out of it in a controlled manner to acclimatize her body to the environment. Since every body is different it's impossible to predict how long the process will take.
Cueta goes back into the chamber she'd been put in by Moriko Nash decades ago.
The ship's comm unit buzzes. "Hello, is the the Starfinders?" a tired voice on the other side asks, then continues as if reading off a script spoken so many times as if to be engraved in memory. "This is Vek Starsoul of the Starfinder Society requesting permission to come aboard and serve as a replacement pilot until further notice." There is a pause for a second, and muttering can be faintly heard through the unit. "Stars above, please let this be the right one, I can't handle walking another forty klicks..."
Leila sits by Cueta's module, keeping the sick pilot company, when the comms come alive. Oh! She hadn't actually expected the Starfinders to find a replacement so fast - though she supposed it was an important mission. Also there were probably quite a few wanting to get off Eox ... She grabbed her personal com and gave a short reply - "All right! Hang on I'm going to find the Captain. See you soon!" and then went to find Astri.
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Astrianna sighs as Cueta is loaded into the cyrochamber that they had kept on board, mostly because they were too busy (lazy) to clean it out. They had plenty of hull space, after all. "She survived fighting that huge four-legged blimp thing that marrowblight kept as a pet, but then she gets taken out by cyro sickness? Unbelievable." The half-elf throws up her hands in annoyance and walks away. "Where are we going to find another pilot on such short notice? I already told one of our sponsors we were going to have exlcusive in-flight interviews during the trip, not exclusive STILL ON EOX interviews!"
Astrianna is brooding in the Captain's chair like an amorphous blob of casually dressed vlogger, flicking through her social media profiles on her holo wrist. She had completely ignored the exchange between whatever was going on outside because her duties as Captain were that important.
"Huh? A pilot already?" Is said with surprise when Leila tells her the Starfinders already sent someone. Jumping out of her seat she rushes down the hallways, and Vek can hear some banging and movement as she punches in the security code to open up the inner airlock. The door sllides open with a pleasing swoosh to reveal a tall green-eyed black-haired half-elf (but full-celebrity) wearing the latest in fashion when it comes to tank-tops and sweat pants.
"FINALLY." She exclaims on seeing him, giving him the once over before looking down at her wrist and tapping in a few commands on her holocomm. "Look, I'm gonna be honest with you. We go through pilots like a halfling goes through an unlimited supply of cheese." She glances upward briefly. "As in, they go into a coma at some point."
A holographic screen is suddenly shoved into Vek's face, and a bunch of legalese scrolls by at a rapid and alarming rate which seems only to increase in speed as she talks. "So I'm going to need you to sign this contract stating that if you fall into a coma I get exclusive rights to your likeness, image, voice, brainwave patterns, 3 or 2 dimensional holographic replicas, any copyrights filed in your name, consumer reports regarding you, and any off-the-shelf reproductions of your organs."
The scrolling on the holographic panel seems to stop just as she finishes speaking, and a line with a flashing "digital signature needed" pops up at the bottom right below some phrase or some such about "the signer waives all rights to file or join class action lawsuits against the contract holder for the next 10000 standard solar cycles". "So if you could just sign at the bottom we- ha, I mean you, can get this ship off the ground and on to our next adventure!"
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As Vek's comms message comes through, Prospero-4 opens up infosphere connection from his panel.
"There is someone of that name in the ranks of the Starfinder Society. I'm running a verification query to Chiskisk to confirm his association."
While waiting for the response, he reads through the contract legalese Astrianna is showing on the newcomer's face.
"Perhaps that should also mention that we do not take any responsiblility if the signer is impregnated by strange alien monsters - nor offer any benefits to resulting offspring. If my memory does not fail me, some insemination has happened with our former pilots."
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Vek sighs in relief as the airlock opens, then stares blankly at the text flashing past his eyes. He tries to get a word in edgewise, but finally realizes there is no stopping Astrianna and resignedly waits her out. A small ball of blue light bobs around his head, passing in and out of the projected hologram.
"Ma'am," he interjects as she pauses for breath, "I'm afraid I really couldn't sign for anything less than ten percent of any profits you might make from the use of my likeness. If I do go into a coma, I certainly don't intend to come out deep in medical debt." He makes a few quick taps on his personal computer and a new line of text floats superimposed on Astrianna's contract, as well as a digital signature. "I trust that is a fair deal? Good - I need to put my feet up for a few hours and get to know your ship." He steps inside and lets the airlock close behind him. "Name's Vek. Used to hunt Swarm out in the Vast, 'til I lost my weapon in an ambush. Thought we was done for, so I fought with my fists. 'Parently something happened because suddenly I was mighty calm and had these blue glowing spikes on me hands. Cut the beasts down that attacked us, but the rest of the squad wanted nothing to do with a 'freak' and left me on a star-forsaken asteroid. Would still be there if some fancy Starfinders hadn't happened through and heard the distress call. 'Rest is history, I guess." He sets down a mostly-empty backpack. "You got bunks here?"
He pauses at Prospero-4's comment, then shakes his head. "Too late now," he replies. "I'll just have to take my chances."
"We do? Oh hmm maybe.." Leila quipped from behind Astri, trying to look past the half-elf to see their new pilot. Look beside her? That'll work. The halfling now was free to both observe Vek and ponder life's great mysteries. "..Though there's no unlimited supply of cheese. That'd be silly. Yeah. Every self respecting halfling knows that cheese is finite and valuable!" In fact their current stocks only held 7435 grams - officially much less of course - but there were no real need to share that information. Not now at least ...
"So hmm. You're pretty tall too. I *think* you'll fit in the bunks still. Oh! Hi! I'm Leila. I do sensors and engineering together with Prospero-4." She waves and nods at the android. "Nice to meet you. And don't worry! I'm sure this ship isn't actually too cursed. Though three pilots in a row is a bit much for a coincidence... Eh-heh. Nope."
She brushes her jumpsuit and steps aside to let Astri and Vek walk back into the ship proper. The friendly halfling doesn't let the newcomer go that easily though. "So, Vek, are you excited to chase the Corpse Fleet? It'll be awesome! Oh and Cueta and I were going over her backlog of classical trids. I'll just slot it into your schedule since you are filling in for her after all! Hmh. Do you like cheese-balls? Ahem. We'll solve that later! Now there's a bunk free over there if you want to get settled in. Oh and see if you fit - I mentioned that earlier right? Right - anyhow just yell if it don't work and I'll fetch the plasma torch!"
"Hells, you're right Prospero, I forgot about that..." She says with a grimmace, knowing it was too late to amend the contract now. "I didn't know you were a legal expert. I'll have you read these things before our next pilot signs one."
A smile creeps across Astrianna's face as their new pilot uploads his digital signature. "Oh yeah, 10%, that's a hard bargain, sure, sure, but that's the price of doing business..." Wow, I can't believe he actually signed it! I wonder what else I can get him to do...
The holographic contract vanishes as quickly as it appears, and the (famous) vlogger throws up her hands after Vek is done with his story. "That's great and all, but I'm going to forget everything you just said. This is not a dramatic enough time for your life story. Now, listen, I have a lot of fans to please, and they love a good drama. So when we're locked in some room as the Corpse Fleet is welding through the door, low on ammunition, THAT'S when I want you to go all Vek McSpiel and tell us all about your Swarm fighting and shooting knives out of your hands or whatever. We have sentients to ENTERTAIN. Sentients with CREDITS."
As Leila shows their newbie around, Astrianna hovers close by, snapping pictures and mumbling to herself as she types away on her wrist hologram. "I'll have to commmision completely new mock-ups for our animated series... At least we have until the third season before we have to make the change over, that should be plenty of time..."
Briefly, she looks up and glances between Vek and Leila talking about cheese balls. "Why aren't we off the ground yet? There will be plenty of time to get attached to Vek later."
The Sunrise Maiden takes off from Eox smoothly with a powerful roar and shoots up into space. The thrum of the upgraded engines pushes the group back into its seat and they ascend through the thin atmosphere of the undead planet with no issues or hassles.
Once there, and with the coordinates they retrieved from the corpse of the vampire, the group's new pilot plots a course through the Drift to arrive at the mysterious Nejeor system in The Vast. Nine days of travelling through the Drift is the result of his calculations and he gives a weary sigh before activating the Drift engine.
For all of the group who have never travelled through the Drift before it is an unsettling experience. The transitory plane is strangely bleak. Instead of the star strewn inky blackness of space the Drift is a mass of pink and purple energy that seems to both envelop the ship and be incredibly far away at the same time, making it difficult to gauge speed and time.
Still even this alien place becomes normalized over the next few days and only those PCs who are fascinated by the outside environment see the few examples of pieces of other planes torn away by the action of Drift Engines and subsumed into the Drift itself large enough to be visible. Once there is a titanic but empty basalt throne engraved with images of cavorting devils, another time there is a gear the size of a city, yet another time a vast bridge that seems to have an ancient city built halfway across it and other... even stranger sites.
About four days into their travel they pass close to several humongous, dark clouds that occasionally flash with internal light...
Vek is Piloting, Astrianna is captain, what are Leila, and Prospero doing?
As the group soars through Eox's "atmosphere" on their way to a DEDZ (drift engine designation zone) Astrianna tries to jump out of her chair in excitement, but is held in place both by the g's of their new engine and the safety harness their insurance made her wear during take off.
"GUYS." She exclaims excitedly while waving around a holographic screen like she had seen sentents in the old films do with pieces of "paper". "It's finally here! Okay so I don't know if I told you this or not but we're getting an animated series made about our adventures and I just recieved the new intro!"
While Vek is trying to actually do his job and plot a course for their drift engine, Astrianna overrides whatever he's doing on the main screen using her Captain admin privledges and starts playing a video over it.
"The song is called The Stars, and it was written by my sister and her android band mates at my request!" She beams at Prospero as the video loads. "They're all really happy about what you're doing to show everyone that androids are just as valuable a team member as anything made of flesh and blood, and dispelling the notion they're all cold, unfeeling machines!" Astrianna wasn't really sure where they got that from- Prospero was about as cold and unfeeling as they came, but she wasn't going to argue and gave him a thumbs up anyway.
THE VIDEO loads and starts to play, and Astrianna is happily dnacing in her seat until the very end. "Wow that was a great song! Though..." She chews on her lip for a moment. "You can tell which one I am, the hot one of course. But I think they took some serious artistic liberties with Prospero. Was he supposed to be the long-necked robot thing? And was Leila the supposed to be the short red haired human or the tall one with the hat?" She pulls out her holo comm and starts to type away. "I might want to suggest some uh... improvements. I guess this is what happens when you contract out the most avant-garde, but lowest budget studio there is."
Days pass, and the song keeps being played on the bridge... over, and over and over. Astrianna gets fussy with anyone that suggests changing it, ruling over the sound system with an iron fist. The only distraction from the music are the strange planar oddities floating by...
Ironic that Astri likes Rabbit but hates squirrels :P
Wow my bad, I usually test my links before posting, but I really flubbed this one. Thanks for picking up my slack, Leila.
That's cause everyone likes Rabbit! :D
Vek gives a thumbs-up and hums along to the song the first several times it plays, but pulls out a set of headphones after a while and begins communicating exclusively by text as he monitors the ship's course. IDK - sometimes I hear things coming? he types when Astrianna asks him about it. Maybe it's hearing another ship's engines? It's kept me from waltzing into an ambush on several occasions, so I like to think listening to the outside does something. Besides, the Drift has its own music that
doesn't repeat is always similar, but never the same.
"Sta-ha-ars du-nu-nu-nuh sta-ha-ars du-nu-nuh..." Leila happily hums in tune with the song for the twentymilionth time. Was it repetitive? Yes. Was it the best song she had ever heard? No. But it was their song dammit and she appreciated Astri's efforts to etch it into the very sound-circuits of the ship. Plus it would give a distinct advantage vs any boarders that hadn't adapted to the local soundscape.
"Sta-ha-hmm? What's that?" Leila notices the looming dark shapes. They looked strangely similar to this thing they called "weather" she had seen on Castrovel. Thunderclouds? Yeah that looked thunderous all right. Odd. And curious. So the halfling did the only responsible thing and poked them with the ship's sensors. "Scanning!"
Computer:Scan: 2d10 + 18 ⇒ (3, 3) + 18 = 24
I'm just assuming we are continuing with Leila on science and Prospero on engineering. Feel free to tell me if you'd like a swap Prospero : )
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Yeah, I assume we keep the old stations. P-4 handles gunnery and engineering
As Astrianna puts the video, Prospero-4 finds himself staring at it in fascination. He never really understood music, and so he assumed it was just part of being an android. He thought whatever others found in music, was so because the rhythm somehow reached into their primitive instincts, carried in their genetic code through millions of years of evolution. And androids, being constructed, carried no such ancestral baggage in their systems, and therefore music would just be needless sound without information.
But seeing those androids on the video makes him doubt his initial analysis of the phenomenon. Those androids seems to be enjoying and understanding music. Are they just pretending, or is there something Prospero-4 overlooked in the idea of music.
"I... thank you. This is most fascinating. I need to analyse this further. Please send my regards to your sister. And if possible, I'd like to contact those androids on the video."
There was a lot of time to analyse the song during the long flight througt the Drift. But the only emotion it created in Prospero-4 was annoyance. And after 533 replays, he wrote a noice-canceling pattern to his sensors to completely ignore the song.