Prospero-4 cringes in pain, and almost loses hold of his rifle. Laser burns radiate pain throughout the left side of his body. But he grits his teeth and continues shooting - at least Astrianna dropped the biggest threat ahead.
"You can still surrender! But you better be quick!" the android shouts, sending some laser bolts to emphasize his words.
Laser rifle, full attack: 1d20 + 4 - 4 ⇒ (8) + 4 - 4 = 8
damage: 1d8 ⇒ 5
Laser rifle, full attack: 1d20 + 4 - 4 ⇒ (13) + 4 - 4 = 13
damage: 1d8 ⇒ 2
Trick Attack attempt: 1d20 + 13 ⇒ (6) + 13 = 19
Pistol attack: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (20) + 5 = 25
Pistol Damage: 1d6 + 1d4 ⇒ (3) + (3) = 6
Crit damage: 1d6 ⇒ 5
Woman attack: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20
Damage: 1d6 + 1 ⇒ (3) + 1 = 4
Bereft of her bodyguard the human weapon gets hit by shots from both Leila and Prospero-4.
Fianh carries out a maneuver similar to her earlier ones. Moving from cover to cover to confuse and disorient their final foe.
While the woman seems to be getting wise at predicting Fianh's acrobatic movements, it doesn't help her in getting out of the way of an expertly placed bullet.
I'd rather KILL YOU ALL she screams at Prospero-4, blood visibly tickles down her temples. She fires at him, her attack hurting the already wounded Android before going prone!
4 more damage please Prospero-4
Setup. Vesk is dead. Human woman is prone and hurt. Party is up. Round 7
Astrinna at 1 Hp
Leila 4 damage
Prospero-4 12 damage
Vesk Dead by Astrianna Laser bolt to the eyes
Human 14 HP
Apologies for missing last round, travel is a killer
Fi makes a disbelieving sound that can clearly be heard over the gunfire. "Right, and I'm going to use deadly mystic arts of the ninja and cripple you with my finger. Please to keep threats realistic, yes?"
Standing up to get a better shot, she opens fire once again.
Pistol: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (14) + 5 = 19
Damage: 1d6 ⇒ 5
Astrianna is about to take another shot at the woman herself when Fi manages to land a solid hit. As the ganger boss surrenders the half-elf stands up, pistol in two hands and still pointing her way. "F#@$, finally! Give us your documents related to the hit on the dwarf Duravor Kreel that Astral Excavations ordered. Infomail, vidlogs, cred transfers. Now."
The color has mostly gone out of Astri's face, and she's gripping her gun with the same shakey intensity as an eldery sentient grips a handrail on a flight of slippery stairs.
The dwarf? This is all about the gods damned Dwarf? the woman says incredulously. She winces as if every one of her heavy breath is causing her pain, which it probably is. She levers herself up onto her hands and feet with a wrenching gasp before falling back to end up sitting with her back to a desk in the room. You can see chairs scattered about as well as multiple vidscreens showing security cam footage as well as various entertainment feeds. There's a closed door to a small room to the northeast.
On the security cam footage you can see that outside the panicked stampede of club goers is pretty much completed. One of the bouncers outside can be seen lying comatose while the other is nowhere to be seen. The club floor and surroundings are deserted and the music finally peters out as the track ends.
The woman waves her hand at a datapad on the desk. That's... got everything you f&~@ing want. Yeah that corp hired us to put the screws on the f*#+ing dirt sucking Hardscrabblers. Those s%*& stains didn't have the sense to just bend over and starting getting other people involved sos we got the order to take out the dwarf. Keep the Starfinders out of things and send a real hard message. Everybody wants that rock like it's a planet sized diamond or some b##!$@$#.
The woman closes her eyes to take some more painful breaths. Look, just get me some healing, okay? I gave you f%#+ers everything you wanted.
Clutching her smashed midsection, Astrianna walks forward with an unsteady gait. She stands in the office, strangely quiet as Ferani Nadaz explains the situation. Her eyes track the datapad as it slides across the desk, and then flick back to the human.
As Ferani's eyes close Astrianna raises her pistol in two hands and pulls the trigger, sending 100 watts of coherently aligned photons directly into the opposing woman's brain.
"You're not the only one that sends hard messages." She says in strained voice, holstering her pistol before sliding the data pad off the table and into her grip.
Looking back to her companions, Astrianna's clear emerald eyes are hard and determined. "We need to leave before her goons or the ASSes arrive. Grab anything you think is worthwhile but be quick." She puts a hand to her mouth, still pale. "It feels like I'm about to launch my guts out of both ends."
pistol attack: 1d20 + 2 ⇒ (12) + 2 = 14
damage: 1d4 ⇒ 4
Pew! It's over! Leila visibly deflates. She was still alive! That's really nice. Really really nice. After a few deep breaths she find herself ready to handle reality again. Oh! A disk! "Let's just make sure we have everything before -" she starts then notices the new glowing crater at the woman's forehead. "Well I was going for 'we leave' but *uuuuuuh*. Let's just hurry away from here yeah? And hold our guts inside juuuust a little longer!"
Still though! She didn't want to take her own advice just yet. First she swept her eyes and pocket computer around, looking to see if any of the security cameras were pointing at them. Then she realized that they had probably been seen when walking in anyway and hurried over to the camera terminal to see if she couldn't upload something real quick to wipe and corrupt the memory! "Well it would be nice if they couldn't continue any vendettas or so even if they wanted right? Not that I don't think they will just tear into each other like rabid dogs over who gets to rule, but it would just feel nice knowing wouldn't it?"
Computer: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22
[spoiler=Leila]It's more likely that other Kings or gangs will show up before Station Security does. But even that isn't going to be very fast[/b]
Ferani Nadaz barely twitches before going slack as she's summarily executed by Astrianna. The only one who would mourn her passing died just before she did so it's not much of a loss all things considered.
The software controlling the security cams of the club aren't exactly well secured so it's simple for Leila to gain access. She can do whatever she wants with the footage. Currently the security cam from the outside of the club doesn't show any activity at all.
Rifling through the area the group will find:
On Nadaz: Estex Suit I, club, tactical semi-auto pistol with 25 rounds,
a key card for a door lock, a credstick with 500 credits
On the Vesk: Troop ceremonial plate, assault hammer, azimuth artillery laser with one extra battery, the one in the laser has 15 charges (35 charges total), frag grenade I, shock grenade I, credstick with 200 credits.
On each thug (3 inside, 1 outside): flight suit stationweark, azimuth laser pistol with almost full battery, club, credsticks of 150
There's a locked door in the north east corner.
The datapad has a password on it. Nobody really asked her for one and it's too late now!
Once the exocortex combat tracking switches off, all the hurt from laser burns hit home, and Prospero-4 cannot help but let out a small cry of pain. Stench of burnt synthetic flesh surrounds him as he limps to join the others in the office.
The android grabs the datapad, investigates it for a moment before giving Astrianna a blank, unreadable stare. "Locked." he says, waving the datapad. "She might have told us the password, if she still lived. No matter, we can crack it. But not here."
"Did you check that computer in the corner, Leila?" Prospero-4 asks, after pocketing the datapad, and moving to loot the corpses.
The android finds a keycard from Nadaz, and lifts it up for everyone to see. With painfully slow steps, he starts moving toward the door in north east corner, as that sounds the most logical place to try out the card.
IIRC, there's no real resale value for weapons / armor, so best just to take the credsticks, granades, batteries, and the keycard. Unless someone needs one of the weapons/armors, of course...
The keycard unlocks the door and it slides open. It seems like a secure storage room containing some of the stored riches of the gang. No doubt illegally procured.
There is a holoskin, an autotarget rifle with five magazines of longarm rounds (10 cartridges each), two incendiary grenades I, two mk 1 serums of healing, a quick release sheath armor upgrade, 500 UPBs, and a collection of credsticks that total up to 600 credits.
Leila disengages the 'store video' option and then first deletes whatever is stored then runs a program to rewrite the storage disc with nonsense. It would be technically* possible to recover that data but eh unless they had tons of money or time to burn they wouldn't get very far. And she really doubted they had a cyber division. With a satisfying *bleep* the computer announces that it's all gone. "There! Now that's gone!"
After some quick deliberation she joinks the dead womans pistol. She wouldn't be needing it anymore and Leila would feel a little better with some heat! Then she followed Mr 4's suggestion/question and headed over to the computer in the corner and started sifting trough whatever was on it, glancing at the time every twenty second or so. She knew they had some time, but she really didn't want to stick around. "Hmm hmm hmm! On it!"
Astrianna rolls her eyes and makes a disgruntled noise that could be mistaken for a very annoyed male Vesk. "Of course it's locked. Whatever, we'll crack it later."
She keeps a low level of complaining going about her midsection while she grabs credsticks and stuffs them in her backpack like a child collecting candy thrown during a parade. As she's tossing in the extra loot from the cabinet, she notices the serums of healing and stops. "Oh, thank Calistria, healing serums! Prospero, here." One of the two vials is tossed to her android companion.
The half-elf immediately tries to unscrew the lid, only briefly struggling with the child safety lock before finally opening and quaffing the mixture.
serum of healing: 1d8 ⇒ 1
Seconds pass, and Astrianna makes a strange face. "I really thought it would help more... I mean, it hurts less, but..." Turning over the vial, she looks at the label on the back: For best results, use before 300 AG.
"Thank you." Prospero-4 says, accepting the serum from the half-elf. "This is sorely needed."
After Astrianna's warning, the android turns the vial in his hand looking for any mentions for expiry date. Not finding anything, he unseals the lid and drinks it.
Serum of healing: 1d8 ⇒ 7
Almost immediately, he feels the nanites starting to repair the damaged issue, and very soon he feels fully mended.
"Then, I suspect we should start planning our escape from here. Leila, do you still need more time with that?"
"Not sure! Depending on how much we want to dig. Hmm ..." She slides in a portable memory into the computer. "I'll save anything that looks remotely important. But yeah - how do we get out of here?"
Astrianna has a backpack full of goodies over her shoulder. Normally this sort of labor would be beneath her, but she's figured out that her companions were much better served killing people that shoot at her rather than carrying stuff.
The half-elf points at the security video feed showing no one outside. "Through the front door. C'mon." She says with a hint of impatience, clearly wanting to get out of this dive.
Astrianna Per: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (3) + 6 = 9
Fian Per: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (16) + 5 = 21
Liela Per: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (20) + 7 = 27
Prospero Per: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (13) + 7 = 20
The only living being that seems to be left in the Fusion Queen, other than the group, is the dwarf they encountered earlier. His snoring sounds absurdly loud in the now otherwise deserted club.
Leaving Level 12 is as simple as following the route that the group took to the club back to the elevator. There are some sounds of shouting and confusion but the Level 21 crew scouts did good work in finding back ways and alleys that the Downside Kings didn't concern themselves much with. In any case the members of the Kings, spurred by the panicked clubbers, to head towards the club would do so in a direct manner.
Leila notices some Ysoki and Halflings slinking towards the club by the same route your group is using in the other direction. Those who've noticed her detecting them nod at her as they pass with grins and suppertitious waves.
As you get closer to the elevator Leila, Fianh, and Prospero note that some of the Tian you noticed hanging around the elevators are heading by a pretty direct route towards the Fusion Queen. They pointedly ignore the group, especially Fianh.
Astrianna's pretty oblivous. Probably because of the extreme amount of pain she's in.
Fianh grins as they leave the club - and Level 12 - behind. "Feel better now." She gives a speculative look back at the group of Tians headed for the Fusion Queen. "Would not want to be a Downside King tonight, so sorry."
As they reach the elevator and the doors close, an imperceptible tension leaks out of her body; the result of going from combat to a state of rested readiness. "Here, from King Rat-san." She passes Prospero-4 and Astrianna one of the healing vials she received from the Ysoki boss. She herself is completely unscathed, with not so much as a hair or a fold of her clothes out of place. Only the slight flush of her cheeks tells of the night's exertions.
"Good night's work."
"Hmm-hmmm-hmmm!" Leila softly to herself. She really shouldn't but at least it was better then that overwhelming urge to whistle. Soon! she thought to herself as they could see the elevator. And some Tian people --- they seemed a bit out of place. Hmm. She couldn't help but remember their recent visit to that restaurant. But that really wasn't her problem at all!
Astrianna just looks pissed off the entire walk back, endlessly complaining about how her abdomen hurts and how no one needed to die if they had just played along with her bluff.
Arriving at the elevator, the half-elf leans against the side and puts her head back, staring up at the ceiling. "Yeah, I guess. I don't know if I can even use any of this footage." Her head comes back down, and she holds it in one hand briefly. "Ugh. It could have gone so much better."
Eyeing the serum warily, she takes it. "Thanks. I hope this one works better than the last." Now a master of the child-proof lock, she snaps it open and downs the tasteless magical fluid.
Serum of healing Mwk 1: 1d8 ⇒ 6
A soft sigh of relief escapes her, hand moving from her head to her abdomen. "MUCH better. Gods, I was afraid I'd be forced to s!#+ in a bag for the rest of my life or something."
"Thank you, Fianh Jin. But I am in no immediate danger. Perhaps this serum should be saved for later. I believe I will be fine after a small rest." Prospero-4 declines the offered serum, instructing Fianh to keep it for now.
So far they seem to be doing well, with no one coming after them. Now, to the elevator and them off this level.
"Should we head straight away Lorespire Complex? Or stop somewhere on the route to hmm.. finish the investigations?" he taps his pocket that holds the encrypted datapad.
We should take the '10 minute rest' to recover SP, once we are clear of any immediate danger
Fianh bows. "As you wish, android-san." The vial disappears beneath the folds of her clothing as if by magic.
She looks incredulously at Astri. "Are you seriously telling me that nobody has ever shot you before?!" She herself has thought of almost nothing else since first meeting the half-elf. It beggars belief that nobody else has tried it.
Oh well. Now is not the time for petty squabbles. She smiles, and stretches with an audible crack of joints down her spine. "Truly, it is as the Ancients said: there is no substitute for victory. They also said that before embarking on revenge, one must first dig two graves; personally, have found I need many more than that. Perhaps the Ancients dug big graves."
Agreed we should rest for SP.
Astrianna furrows her brows, narrows her eyes, and sticks her head out at Fi, somehow looking at her even more incredulously. "Of course not, why would anyone want to shoot me? I was a famous kawaii vidlogger before this shtick. People loved me! In any case, I didn't get shot. I got hit with a hammer so hard it tossed me across the room. Big difference."
It seems like she's willing to drop it if Fi is, sighing and looking over at Prospero. "We head back to the apartments and crack the datapad first. Then we take the information to Chiskisk. On that note, the less Chiskisk knows about where this information is coming from, the better. I doubt they would approve of our methods."
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There was something about that two-grave saying that didn't sound right, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. But there were more important matters to deal with right now!
"So you are saying you never *uh* get hammered?" Leila let out an bubbly giggle and grinned at the much taller half-elf. The (other) night club incident was still fresh in her mind, if a bit dizzy. And that was much nicer to think of then the most recent incident. Even if the later seemed a bit more important at the moment.
"But yeah, apartment first." the halfling nods in agreement with the group consensus and glances at Mr 4 (and the datapad). "Shouldn't be so hard when we have time to sit down with it right?"
Leila is able to hack into the datapad with only a minimum of fuss even though she's distracted and not really focusing on it too well.
Ferani Nadaz wasn't much of a tech user it seems and only used the datapad for communications. There's a large amount of messages dealing with setting up deliveries and payments for illicit substances and slaves. Threatening messages to businesses on the decks that the Kings control... or at least controlled... and finally communications between Nadaz and organizations that had hired the Kings for violence related services.
There's a thread here that has the following snippets
We are incredibly disappointed in your performance. We were assured that the HC miners would be cowed into submission by your activities. However it seems that they have acquired protection for themselves. The necessity of additional communications and contacts between us put us both at risk and this is not acceptable. Fix this -J
Then a later message
We are UNIMPRESSED by your threats as well as the language that you employed to deliver them. We contracted you to deliver a particular outcome and that outcome has NOT been accomplished. The HC miners have not withdrawn their claim over 'The F#+~ing Drift Rock' as you term it and as such will NOT be forwarding payment. - J
We have acquired information that not only are the HCs not giving up their claim on the asteroid retrieved from Drift space, but are using their low rent contracts to try and involve the Starfinders in this matter. This is NOT acceptable to AE. However it does present an opportunity. While the leadership of the miners seems to have insulated themselves from you... their SF contact most probably does not have the same protection. We have approved budget for purchase of your termination services at the standard rate as per our previous discussion. The individual in question is named Duravor Kreel. Attached find all relevant details. Interception of communications indicates that he will be in the open on Dock 94 of the Arms at the indicated time. This should convince those DAMNED DIRTSUCKERS to give up their claim to rightful AE property. Upon confirmation of termination the agreed upon funds will be released to you. Our patience is running thin Nadaz. DO NOT F&%$ THIS UP. -J
Attached to the last is a dossier built off of Duravor Kreel's social media presence, including a picture of the lanky dwarf laughing with some friends over a beer in some dwarven pub somewhere. He looks happy with foam from his beer sticking to his bushy facial hair.
Attached also are the messages he'd sent to the group confirming he'd be picking you up from Dock 94.
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"Oh we got them all right!" Leila exclaimed with great vigour as she read trough the thread. She hadn't really put her heart into cracking this thing, still thinking over the recent pew-pew events, but this really changed things! Assassins! Murderers! She was almost vibrating in excitement and fury. It was really tempting to just upload all this publicly for all to see. I bet their stock might even drop a bit! Hah they deserve it those bastards! "I bet Chiskisk would want to flay whoever wrote this!"
"So you are saying you never *uh* get hammered?" Leila let out an bubbly giggle and grinned at the much taller half-elf.
Astrianna barks a laugh at Leila, which makes her wince with pain. After taking a moment to recover, she returns the halfling's grin. "I knew I liked you. By the way, I was hoping I could get you to sit down for a video interview later..." If this didn't work she had other, more insidious ways to corner the halfling and get her to talk... Mamma Fat's Jerky ways...
Astrianna changes clothes and freshens up while Leila cracks the datapad. Returning from a shower in the adjacent apartment, she barges into the room while snacking on a choco-mint flavored protein bar.
Glistening with water and smelling strongly of lavender, she leans down to look at the screen Leila has pulled up. "Ooooohhhh s+~$." She exclaims, before cackling and almost sending chunks of protein bar everywhere. Wiping off her mouth and swalling, she continues- "Those idiots! It's all spelled out right here!"
The half-elf gleefully finds her comm unit and gives Chiskisk a call. If available, Astrianna sets up a meeting for as soon as possible. "We've got red-hot evidence on what happened on Dock 94, Chiskisk. It's all spelled out- your instincts were right. You MUST see this." The vidlogger can't help but toss in a little tease, something to get the Shirren excited about.
"Yes!" Leila replies in general excitement, trough Astri was no longer talking to her. But anyhow! Just in case something went wrong Leila made sure to copy the thread onto both her personal computer and an empty memory which she went on to hide in their room. This really made her feel like the protagonist in some spy move! Well - sidekick at least. Also helped take her mind off the weird look Astri had given her just before - the very same look the vlogger had given the jerky before it mysteriously disappeared. That's only because she likes me too. Right. Right?!
Commuting between The Moons of Sleep and The Lorespire Complex is getting to be very familiar for the four of you. With your provisional Starfinder IDs and the memory of your recent visit you have no problems with gaining entrance to the complex and making your way back to Chiskisk's office. The Shirren looks up, alert and expectant as your group enters his office.
My antennae quiver with anticipation. What have you discovered?
Without a word Leila hands over the dataslate, with the relevant thread open and the conversation highlighted, to Chiskisk. There were tons of things she could say but ... this was undoubtedly the quickest way.
Astrianna apppreciates Leila's flare for the dramatic, nodding approvingly at the halfling at staying silent. I'm liking this little lady more and more! Maybe she'd be willing to get in on some brand deals with me? The halfling infosphere demographic is notoriously difficult to crack into for non-halflings... But with her....
As Astrianna silently schemes ways to use Leila to boost her viewership and subscriber numbers, the diva's Lifecorder hums away, cataloging Chiskisk's reaction to learning her friend was murdered for corporate interests. It will be a seminal moment; she must capture it the climax of her upcoming video!
Chiskisk silently taps through the slate. Unlike what they said their antennaes don't continue to quiver but, instead, go dead still.
The voice that comes into you head feels a combination of shocked, strained, and sad. You acquired this information from The Downside Kings? Astral Excavations ordered Duravor Kreel to be killed merely to discourage us from possibly investigating the asteroid from the drift?
Crieks stands up and places their hands on the table in front of them How did you get this information?
Fi shrugs. Nobody gets told everything, but she doesn't try to sanitise the story. "Fine. The Downside Kings have a headquarters in a nightclub. Or had. The situation is fluid right now. We raided the club, shot half a dozen of the gangers, including their chief and her bodyguard, and recovered the datapad. On our way out, we noticed a number of rival gangs moving in on the territory. I don't imagine that the Downside Kings are a going concern any more."
She gives an inscrutable smile. "Any questions?"
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Good the response from Chiskisk is harsh in your heads. They walk out from their desk and move to a window where they stare out over the grounds of the Lorespire Complex sith their hands clasped behind their back. You did not notice before but Chiskisk's office has a very lovely view.
Without turning around, an advantage of communicating telepathically.
I do not know how aware you are of how Absalom station works but Station security is barely able to manage the Ring, has large parts of the Eye forbidden to it in favor of private security forces, and has almost no presence in the Spike at all, let alone the Armada. They would have not found what you have found, and even if these facts had been dropped on their heads they would not done anything with it. In the best traditions of the Starfinders you have discovered the truth and also in our best traditions you have acted on it. Duravor Kreel was one of us and we look after our own here at the Starfinders. Even though we are diminished. Especially because we are diminished.
Chiskisk rubs their hands against each other before turning back to consider you with their segmented eyes.
Your actions have ensured that at least some measure of justice has been achieved for Duravor. Unfortunately corporations such as Astral Extractions have far more ways to stymie justice than some gang in the Spike does.They'll use legal tactics to delay and deny, cast doubt on the evidence, and all other matters of underhanded tricks.
Chiskisk moves back to their desk and sits down to their personal computer I do have an idea though of extracting at least some retribution from them. Usually I would assign you to regular duty and you would be assigned to missions as they came up but... no, I think I'll keep the four of you on standby for a week or so. Please do keep yourselves available. Oh and I'm upgrading you to full Starfinders, usually there would be a ceremony but I have work to do. Do you have any questions?
Astrianna has to hide her surprise; she took Chiskisk for some boring, goody two-antennae Shirren, wasting away at some desk job. She had expected them to balk at the slaughter of the gangers, bemoan the club shootout. But when all the dust had settled, she instead saw a pragmatic creature dedicated to their organization, its values, and those within it. Huh, I misjudged Chiskisk. Discover and act on the truth? Hells, I do that all the time!
The half-elf speaks up when Chiskisk asks for questions. "I'm intending to make a video about Kreel and what we discovered... Cover his death and our investigation into the matter, upload it on the infosphere. I not only have some sponsers that would love this, but now everyone will know what happened to Duravor. If you're going to keep this quiet for a time in an elaborate plan to stick it to Astral Extractions I can wait, but otherwise I should have it up in a day or two."
Starfinder! Oh oh oh! Leila had to try really hard to not look too excited - it really didn't fit the moment - but she wasn't sure how well she managed. At the very least she didn't cry out or cheer. But she did visibly vibrate up and down. Starfinder!! Yeah!
Eventually she managed to calm herself enough to ask a question without bubbling over. "Now that we are real Starfinders we get to look around in here, the Lorespire complex, right? I think we should do that! Just to familiarize ourselves a bit. Right?"
"Ceremony would have been nice..." Prospero-4 says in a hushed voice, perhaps talking to himself. Was there a hue of disappointment in the android's otherwise flat tone?
In any case, he and the three ladies have done what was asked of them. They found out the killer of the dwarf Duravor Kreel, and in doing so delivered some amount of justice to one of the responsible parties. The sense of completion... just feels good.
"I am honored to be a Starfinder, and I thank you for the opportunity, Chiskisk. I do have two questions. One: In preparation of our future tasks, are there workshops in Lorespire Complex that we could use to craft equipment. Or alternatively, vendors from whom we could acquire pre-crafted items? Two: Related to the first one, can we recharge the batteries of our weapons somewhere?"
While Prospero-4 stands still like a statue, he does feel some kinship to Leila's excitement. Now, fully-fledged member of something. A place to call home.
"I agree with Leila. I am interested to take a look around the Lorespire Complex. It is our home, now. Right?"
The corners of the androids mouth curl slightly upwards as he thinks of this.
Fianh bows, a little more deeply this time. "My thanks, honorable Chiskisk." Whatever else may happen, she's certainly racking up membership in quasi-secretive organisations. Hopefully her association with the Starfinders will be as lucrative as her membership of the Fellowship has been.
She looks brightly at her companions. "So what now?"
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Yes please, give me a bit of time, your discretion would be much appreciated at the moment Astrianna Chiskisk replies to Astiranna.
Leila is more than free to roam about the Lorespire Complex to her heart's content as are the other three. It is an impressive cluster of buildings only somewhat overshadowed by the eponymous central spire. She can peruse through the campus' famous Archives which is one of the most impressive collections of both digital and archaic texts and artifacts gathered from across the galaxy and studied in communal labs. The various venture captains and other leaders of the very loosely militarily organized Society are also available for full Starfinders to access.
There are plenty of places where the fledgling Starfinders aren't allowed though. The heavily secured machinery that contains Guidance, the collective consciousness of previous Starfinder leaders is definitely off limits as are the areas where dangerous artifacts are kept secured. Many parts of the complex are empty but there are signs that the Starfinders are doing their best to rebuild and you can see workers removing old name tags, putting in new ones, and moving furniture around to re purpose old rooms for new functions.
Surrounding the Complex is Drifter's End. A neighborhood which caters to the frontier settlers, explorers, and adventurers attracted to the adventurous spirit that the Starfinders espouse. Despite the news of the Scoured Stars disaster this is an optimistic time for those willing to delve into the great beyond to find new homes or new riches, taking full advantage of the uncountable worlds made accessible through Drift Technology. Scouts, haulers, and diplomats specializing in alien first contact are easily found here.
The news trivids only have scant reports of your exploits on Level 12. There are interviews with frazzled clubbers speaking about a sudden firefight that broke out at the popular club The Fusion Queen. The only official response from Station Security is a reminder to all residents and visitors to Absalom Station that Security forces cannot guarantee the safety of anyone who ventures into the Spike and to please maintain personal vigilance at all times should anyone choose to go below.
A few comm messages trickle in for the group before the day is done.
About six days later a messenger arrives at the two rooms you four are staying in at The Moons of Sleep. It just so happens that none of you were in at the time and so the manager of the establishment waves you down to deliver what the messenger dropped off for you.
This is so exciting The manager says; she's flushed with excitement. These were dropped off in one of the most impressive vehicles I've seen and that's saying quite a bit I'm not going to lie. I think they would have taken you off right away if you'd been here but as it is they just dropped these off.
There are four invitations printed on paper that is as dark as the void of space each bearing one of your names in wonderful bone white calligraphy.
The manager looks at you beaming You four are getting to be kinda big deals aintcha?
Inside it says
His Excellency Gevalarask Nor, Ambassador of Eox to Absalom Station Humbly Begs you to attend him at your convenience at his offices in the Eoxian Diplomatic Mission on Absalom Station. Your admittance to the mission will be guaranteed upon presentation of this invitation.
"Explore everything!" Leila chirps back at Fi once they are outside of the office. "Everything not behind (too) locked doors at least!"
And that's how Leila spends most of the week. By the end of it she feels that she has a good hang of the layout (and especially where the forbidden areas are! So exciting! Maybe she could just take a little peek somehow ...?). Most impressive of course were all the exotic trinkets brought back from all the corners of the universe - and the logs that went with them. Oh such adventure! Her heart danced at the mere thought of them.
Of course she also found time to visit home. The 21 had often felt like an anchor keeping her in place, but now it was just nice to have something to fall back on and remind her that this wasn't all just some strange dream. Besides! She had to thank Mama Fats and work that discount on her day-to-day supplies! Not to mention some nice idle chatter with someone grounded.
The last major operation of her idle week was trying to figure out the source of all those name-tags going up on empty offices. Someone somewhere were clearly handing out nice rent-free offices and Leila wanted a piece of that cake! I mean I *am* a starfinder and I never had an office before? That would be really nice!
One way of another she'll *uh* see if she can't convince someone that she should have a nice cosy little office. Preferably with a view! That would be awesome ...
Bluff: 1d20 + 7 ⇒ (12) + 7 = 19
Computer: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (15) + 11 = 26
What a peculiar way to leave a message for someone. Piece of paper with writing on it. Prospero-4 extends his hand to take the invitation, puzzled by this archaic method of communication. He reads the contents slowly, not least because not being used to hand-written calligraphy.
“Ambassador of Eox? What do the lords of undead want of us?" The android pauses to take a look at the others. "Could it be related to our investigations into Astral Excavations?"
Then after yet a longer pause, he turns to Astrianna, whom he conciders to be the most socialite of them all. "And most importantly... what should I wear?"
Astrianna is more than happy to put her expose on hold if it meant Chiskisk gets to realize the full extent of her revenge. It also wasn't hard to figure out that if AE was going to be embroiled in a headlining legal battle soon, a video on the matter would grab the most eyeballs then rather than now.
Just to familiarize herself with her new place of employment, Astrianna follows Leila around as the halfling explores what seems to be every nook of Lorespire Complex.
"It's too bad we don't get a ceremony, there are always sweet parties after graduations. And aren't we supposed to get to talk to Guidance or something? A bit of a rip off they won't even let us chat with it if they're not going to throw a ceremony." She complains to Leila, though the halfling knows Astrianna well enough now that if she was actually annoyed she'd do something about it rather than just complain.
She suddenly claps her hands together and smiles. "Hey! I've got an idea. Let's have our own ceremony! There's this great Veskian restaurant in the Eye you all have to try. Live food! They have these fish-slug things that typically excrete poisonous slime but they're fed a special diet that make the slime taste delicious instead. Usually Vesk swallow them whole, but I don't like it wiggling down my throat so I bite the heads off first. Sometimes you get a really good one and see colors outside of the typical visible spectrum for a few hours. One time I swear I could see through people's clothes. How cool is that!"
Astrianna throws together a quick video about the firefight the group had on the docks two days ago in an effort to garner more viewers, show her sponsers she was really going to deliver on the promised content, and further entrench herself in the more violent edges of the infosphere. It was mostly unedited and showed the series of events from getting off the ship until Station Security showing up. She left out the part where Fi starts blindly firing at the Level 21's- she was secretly terrified of Jabaxa and wanted to stay on his good side at all costs.
While her video was processing and being uploaded to the infosphere, Astrianna demonstrates her ability to maintain the most horrible postures possible for long periods of time by laying underside down, half off of her bed and half on the floor, in her underwear checking her messages on her holo-comm.
When Strick Elon's message comes in, Astrianna emits an audiable sound of excitement, similar to the noise Leila makes every time she exhales.
"FINALLY someone recognizes my talents. Hey, Prospero, looks like SFS Recruitment and Marketing wants me to do some work for them! I'll probably be out tomorrow doing that." She says to her android roommate, an actual bit of releveant information among the mounds of banalities she usually spews.
Poor Prospero has to put up with Astri's shyte.
Astrianna will spend the six days working with Strick to boost SFS's recruitment drive, and of course posting them on her social media profiles! Do you want any kind of rolls, or take 10's for the side gig?
I don't remember seeing any downtime rules in the Starfinder books for making credits or the like.
The manager lady, whose name Astrianna has forgotten because she always makes Prospero go down to pay their rent, instantly has the half-elf's attention.
That attention suddenly becomes laser-focused at the sight of the incredible invitations, which she snatches up faster than a duck on a junebug. "Oh my gods. Vandanium embossment. Bone coloring. And this lettering- It's... it's Silian Grail!" The awe, smattered with jealousy, drips from her voice.
She flips open the invitation and rapidly digests the contents, emerald eyes growing wider and wider. Upon finishing, she spreads her hands wide, and gestures in a near-panic. "Okay listen up. This. Is. A. Big. F%!!ing. Deal. Let me set the stage for you. This Gevalarask Nor is the ambassor of a group of immortal, endlessly patient, rich, incredibly powerful beings. So what does that mean? To get a high position such as Planetary Diplomat they either had to be infinitely clever, influencal, powerful, or all three. I don't know what they want with us, but whatever it is we're potentially poised to make a s%@*ton of money OR have a very powerful favor we could call on in the future. We do not want to f$~$ this up. We need to get ready and go right now."
She glances at Prospero, looks him up and down, and shakes her head. "Not that. You look like you're about to change out the coolant fluid someone's monobike. We have to go shopping for better clothes. Right now. This isn't a formal event. They want us to do something, I'm sure of it. So I want you all in functional, stylish, high-quality clothes. We need to look capable AND classy."
She starts to shoo them out the door. "Chop chop let's go I know just the boutique!"
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When the group is prepared they head towards the Eoxian Diplomatic Mission. The address would have been easy enough to find on the Infosphere but that is not necessary as it is embossed in raised lettering at the back of your personalized invitations.
It is, of course, deep in The Eye, in the wealthy Parkside neighbourhood in fact. Getting there from The Moons of Sleep is a simple matter of buying a ticket on the raised platform mag-train lines that serves as public transit within the privileged confines of the central dome of Abslaom Station. Unlike the sweaty cramped confines of the surface or sub-surface grav trains the group has been taking to get around the Ring and the Docks, and completely unlike the odorous standing room only elevators down to the Spike, the magtrains are quiet and spacious, with comfortable seating which allows the professionals using them to work on their personal portable computers as they are whisked from one prestigious locale to another. They're also whisper quiet unlike the shrill screeches of the gravtrains or the cacophonous grinding of the Elevator.
The Parkside station is one of the smaller ones but is a model of efficiency with clear markings showing the entrances and exits. There are clear maps of the neighbourhood to help with navigation and plenty of help bots and greeter sentients around to help orient the group towards the Eoxian Embassy.
There are of course plenty of robo taxis parked discreetly that will cost the group 10 credits to take them straight to the gates of the Mission, but the group can elect to take a pleasant ten minute walk instead.
Space is at a premium in Abslaom Station, and so space is how wealth and power are displayed. The wide sidewalks and generous greenspace dotted liberally with large trees of Parkside could fool one into thinking they were walking in a pleasant suburban neighbourhood of a planet rather than in a densely populated space station. You even see squirrels darting from one tree to another! It's only the shining bubble of The Eye and the glittering starry darkness beyond that breaks that illusion.
In ten minutes the group would reach the edge of the Eoxian Diplomatic Mission which is set back from even the rest of Parkside. In the subsequent ten minutes of walking the landscaping of the trees and grasses will shift subtly into darker and darker shades of green. When the group reaches the grandly baroque gates of the Mission proper itself it's only the deep dark black of the metal they're made of that allows the group to distinguish the colour of the foliage as being a very very dark shade of green rather than black itself.
Beyond the gates lies the almost cathedral like diplomatic mission. Made in traditional Eoxian style of black marble and pale limestone. In front of them, on each side are two skeletons in tasteful and understated uniforms standing perfectly straight. One of them nods at the group and advances. It holds out a slate that comes to life. The image of a smiling human woman appears "Welcome to the Eoxian Diplomatic Mission. Do you have an appointment?"
Other than that all is a deep deathly silent. You realize that the chirping of birds and insects that made up the background noise of Parkside fell away a little while ago.
"Yeah! Our own ceremony would be awesome!" Leila cheers. That sounded like an awesome idea! Well until it started to include wiggling slime-creatures that was. Now she considered herself pretty open-minded. But that ... Would take some getting used to - and generous amounts of alcohol. Full size servings.
With a way-too-hopeful tone she pitched a counter-proposal to Astri. One that would only involve long dead food. "But maybe something simpler - why don't we just buy lots of snacks and watch some cool holos or something?"
"Aaah!" Leila shrieked in excitement/surprise/horror. This hadn't been on her agenda when she woke up today. What had she - they - done?! Ohdearohdearohdead! It took her several deep breaths and sitting down to finally collect herself.
Come to think of it she really hadn't heard anything bad about Eoxians specifically really and she was open minded yada yada but come on! They were dead. And walking and talking. That wasn't how things were supposed to work. Deep breaths! Ahhh ...
"So *uh* I don't suppose the dress-code includes skullcaps?" Leila asks, gotta keep that brain safe, but she wasn't really that hopeful about it.
Maybe it was best to simply follow along meekly to the boutique and make sure her outfit would let her run slightly faster then Fi and Astris. I wonder if they would even try and eat Mr 4s brain? How would that work? It was admittedly an very interesting question but she really hoped she wouldn't find out!
The halfling spends most of the train trip with her face glued to the window, enjoying the exotic view of greenery and space that was The Eye. It was almost like being on another world!
Once they arrived Leila insisted that they'd walk. Slowly. Both because of what lay at the end of their trip but also the scenery. IS THAT A REAL SQUIRREL?! Awesome.
For once Astrianna doesn't seem to be difficult to win over. "Okay, fine, I guess I've been meaning to catch up on Spaced in Space. It's up to like, vol 276 or something. I last finished the 250th episode, with the sentient space whales. They really blew the budget on that one, incredible special effects."
Astrianna sits on the magtrain like she belongs there, leaned back in a comfortable synthetic leather seat like it was a throne, legs crossed and arms thrown back over the two empty seats on either side of her.
She had great success at the her new favorite clothing store in Drifter's End, The Boutique at the End of the Universe. A perfectly fitted dark green duster makes up the bulk of her outfit, buttoned up and tied at the waist by a dull yellow silk belt. She wears her usual black leggings underneath, though they are nearly invisible under her dark brown knee-high lace-up boots. A small, shimmering, golden scarf wraps around her thin neck like a pet python, and a wide-brimmed, dark green royal derby hat hangs low off to the side of her head, making the illusion it was weighed down by a bundle of bright golden ribbon and black feathers. Her makeup was focused primarily on her eyes- black eyeliner on the bottom lids, flaring out to short curved points on the sides, and a bright gold on the top lids.
She doesn't mind the walk to the Mission- strolling through the Parkside was the same as a walk down memory lane for her. "My family has a house here. It's in the other direction though. Probably no one home right now, or it's being rented out. It was usually rented out after I finished at the Arcanium." The half-elf comments with a shrug, recalling she hasn't even spoken to her mother in a while, so who really knows.
As they stroll along the sidewalk she waves to some of the guards stationed at the entrances to some of the mansions and other missions. "Gimbal! It's me Astrianna! Ha, I know, it's been a few years. They still have you on front gate duty? Shouldn't you be Captain of the Guard by now?" Their walk ends up taking more like 20 minutes, considering how she keeps recognizing sentients and making banal small talk.
She notices Leila eyeing the squirrels and sucks in her breath. "If there is anything you do, do not mess with the squirrels. I'm serious. I swear they're self-aware. When I was little I shot one with a slingshot, and for the rest of the season they dug up and took every gladiolus I planted in my flower bed. Every. Single. One. Vindictive little tree rats." They walk a few more steps before she has an epiphany. "Unless... I never thought about it until now, but that crusty old druid that's responsible for keeping all of this green could have told the squirrels to do that. He never liked me very much. I can't imagine why, I was a cute kid!"
The approach to the Eoxian mansion is impressive- Astrianna lets out a low whistle at the beautiful cathedral building standing down the road. "Gods, they sure have style. Millennia to perfect it, probably." She doesn't bat an eye as the skeleton presents its tablet device, though she thinks Is that even a real human? Looks computer generated to me. Maybe it's an AI?
She artfully pulls out a silvered letter holder, popping open the case to reveal her immaculately preserved invitation name-side up. "Astrianna Sparacello and associates, gratefully accepting the invitation of Ambassador Gevalarask Nor."
Fianh is deeply wary of the invitation, but on the other hand this is clearly an important person and it would not be wise to refuse.
This is definitely an occasion for keeping to the back and saying very little, however. She keeps her mouth shut and her eyes open.
Perception: 1d20 + 6 ⇒ (14) + 6 = 20