Obozaya peeked over the rocky ridge. There was still just one of the creatures guarding the entrance, less than fifty feet away. The tunnel mouth behind it was nothing special—just a dark hole in the side of the hill. Yet this was where the footage had shown the creatures taking her crew.
Obo ducked back down and considered her rifle. With it, she could easily take the guard out right now, before it even knew she was here. That was assuredly what Navasi would advise.
But where was the fun in that?
Slinging the rifle over her shoulder, she drew her doshko and thumbed it on. Plasma spikes blazed to life with a soft hiss.
Yes—much better. Last, but most importantly, she pulled out her datapad, synched it to her personal coms channel, and cued up Obozaya’s Mayhem Playlist.
Immediately, Sylix the Siren’s “Moneythumper” began pounding through Obo’s custom sound system, bone conduction carrying it not just to her ears, but into her very skeleton.Breaking hearts.
I always get my money down in advance...
Gods, what a perfect fight song. A former merc herself, Sylix knew just what Obo needed—her voice was a classic Veskarium egg-croon, floating over syrupy bass and a tuned kick that hit like an orbital bombardment. Obo’s pulse surged.
Navasi hated when she did this. And maybe blasting tunes on the battlefield wasn’t the best idea when you were trying to coordinate with half a dozen squadmates. But for the moment, Obo was on her own, which meant she could indulge in a few old habits. If the captain didn’t like it, tough scales—the thing about rescue missions was that the rescuer got to call the shots. And Obo was in the mood to enjoy this.Win while you can,
Then we’ll dance till we’re dead.
You’re only living if you’re taking a chance...
You said it, Sylix, Obo thought, and charged up over the ridge.
The creature—Raia had called it a “mi-go”—was fast, but Obo was faster. Her boots churned the rocky soil in time with the pounding beat, her tail stretched out behind her for balance. By the time the mi-go noticed seven feet of armored lizard bearing down on it and brought its weird spiky gun to bear, Obo was already too close. She ducked sideways out of the line of fire and brought the doshko up in a sweeping diagonal slice.
The plasma spikes slid home with a sizzle, not stopping till the haft was flat against the creature’s side. Yet instead of dying, the mi-go just stood there, the doshko’s white-hot spikes sending up steam that smelled incongruously like roasted vegetable skewers. Whorls of color played across the mi-go’s face as it glanced down at the weapon, then back up at Obozaya.
“Um.” Obo said.
The creature fired, the bolt of cold slamming into Obo’s shoulder and sending crackling tendrils of frost across her pauldron. Her armor’s thermal regulators kicked in, ceramic superconductors safely dispersing the cold across her entire surface area before it could freeze the water in her cells. But it was still closer than it ought to be. Obo spun aside, lashing out with an ineffective tail sweep.
Obo’s doshko strike had been flawless—naturally—so it must be that the creature was immune to heat and electricity. So much for having some fun with things. Obo clicked the doshko off and dropped it, diving into a roll as the mi-go fired again. She came up holding her rifle.
She fired. Two quick shots, snare-crack counterpoints to the bass still pounding in her bones. No point wasting ammo if these failed as well.
The mi-go’s head snapped backward as magnetically accelerated tungsten lanced through armor plating. It screamed in a language that was at once totally alien and completely universal.
Obo smiled and switched to full auto.
It was over in less than two seconds. The gun hummed against her shoulder as she unloaded the magazine, stitching shots across the creature’s chest. A lifetime of training had her slamming home a fresh magazine before the spent one had hit the ground, yet even as she reloaded she could see that she wouldn’t need it.
The mi-go lay sprawled in the dust, practically sawn in half by the magnetar’s metal roar. Obo crouched over it, rifle leveled at the cave entrance, ready to do the same to any emerging monstrosities. When they didn’t immediately appear, she stood and recovered her doshko, never letting the magnetar’s barrel stray from its bead on the darkness.
With a last exhortation to get paid, “Moneythumper” drew to a close, replaced by the Aballonian skitterbeats of Godhead Collective’s “You Know Who We Are.”
“Right,” Obo said, and cued her holoprojector. The glowing banner coalesced above her head, rising up from her backpack and unfurling to reveal her personal war-glyph.
Navasi hated that, too. But what was the point of victory if you didn’t get to take credit for it? Anonymity was for cowards—better to let everyone know who you were, and if that meant more enemies came for you, all the better. Obo was always down to dance.
But of course, that wasn’t usually her call. Once upon a time, Obo would have laughed at the idea of taking orders from someone like Navasi. The captain had style, sure, and she could fight like a proper merc when she had to, but her answer to everything was talking. The whole team was like that. They didn’t understand the glory of single combat, of making a name for yourself by succeeding against impossible odds on the battlefield. Half the time they schemed to avoid bloodshed! They were everything Damoritosh had taught her to revile.
Obo desperately hoped they were still alive.
“Hang tight, little friends,” she whispered. “Obo’s coming for you.”
Rifle barrel leading the way, she stepped into the darkness.
About the Author
James L. Sutter is a former Starfinder Creative Director and Executive Editor of the Pathfinder Tales novels. In addition to foundational work on both Pathfinder and Starfinder, he’s also written award-winning novels, comics, video games, and short stories. You can find him at jameslsutter.com or on Twitter at @jameslsutter. His Pathfinder Tales novels, Death’s Heretic and The Redemption Engine, are available now.
About Iconic Encounters
Iconic Encounters is a series of web-based flash fiction set in the worlds of Pathfinder and Starfinder. Each short story provides a glimpse into the life and personality of one of the games’ iconic characters, showing the myriad stories of adventure and excitement players can tell with the Pathfinder and Starfinder roleplaying games.
Iconic Encounter: Obozaya’s Mayhem Playlist
Thursday, September 5, 2019