Tynea Halix Gi Satultir sat in a private booth with a one-way window that overlooked the busy high street of Paradise Village and read the latest electronic dispatch from the captain. It was nothing new: an agricultural report stating crop yields were high, an editorial on how the latest Pact Council decision would affect Idari citizens, and an empty promise to crack down on crime in the Red Corridors. Tynea stretched his two upper arms and stirred his drink.
A shadow suddenly loomed over him. Tynea quickly reached for a bandana to cover his mouth but stopped when he heard the voice.
“You know, tradition doesn’t mean you have to visit the same café every single day.”
“I just so happen to like their coffee,” Tynea replied, demurely taking a sip.
The figure took the chair across from him. He was a tall and fit kasatha, his skin a powder blue with dark gray markings running up the side of his head. His black eyes shone with mischief. He ceremoniously removed his fashionable face mask and placed it next to Tynea’s bandana. He tapped a few times on the table’s ordering system, and within moments a server drone brought in a piece of crownberry pie with a dollop of fresh cream.
And though it had been almost a year since Tynea saw him last, Rudim Jinska Viaz Marodi hadn’t changed one bit.
“You’re back,” Tynea said.
“For how long?”
Tynea felt his cheeks grow hot. “Until the Starfinder Society needs you again, I suppose. And then you’ll disappear for months on end without a single communication, while we—your friends, your family, me—worry ourselves sick.” He downed the rest of his coffee, the nearly scalding liquid a distraction from the lump forming in his throat.
Rudim looked up from his plate. “Don’t be like this, Tiny. I’m sorr—”
“Don’t call me that!” Tynea pushed away from the table, snatched up his purple bandana, stood up, and marched out into the crowd.
Minutes later, Rudim caught up with him outside of an antique shop, traditional Kasath blades displayed in the window against a velvet backdrop. They caught each other’s glances in the reflection of the transparent aluminum, as Rudim gently placed a hand on Tynea’s shoulder.
“You have every right to be mad at me, Tynea. In fact, if you want to take a swing at me with one of those, you should.” Rudim gestured at a long, serrated sword.
“I’d just as likely cut off one of my own arms,” Tynea mumbled.
Rudim chuckled and squeezed softly. “I’ve missed you. So much. And I’m sorry for what I’ve put you through.” He reached into one of his pockets and extracted a pair of shining plastic cards embossed with holography. “I know this couldn’t begin to make it up to you, but what are you doing tonight?”
Tynea turned around. “Are those…?”
"Yup, two tickets to tonight’s Culinarium banquet, the exclusive thrice-annual event where the Idari’s finest experimental chefs showcase their latest recipes!” Rudim puffed out his chest.
“But how? They always sell out in minutes.”
Rudim winked. “Being a member of the Starfinder Society has its occasional perks.”
Tynea’s shoulders fell. “Rudim, be honest. Is this part of some mission?”
“No! Well… not completely. I just have to ask one of the chefs a few questions about some rumors that she’s been acting a little strangely, and that’s it. The rest of the night will be just for us.”
Tynea sighed. “Promise?”
“Damn it, Rudim, this is not the night I was expecting!”
The machine—a 2-foot cube of metal plates, wires, and crystals—shuddered with arcane energy, as Tynea stood before it, panic and confusion in his eyes. Behind him, Rudim struggled against a kasatha chef, grabbing at her apron, which promptly slipped off.
“Hurry!” Rudim shouted. A bolt of magic arced from the machine and struck a row of kitchen knives attached to two long magnets on the wall, turning them into rock candy. They fell onto the counter and shattered.
“I don’t know the first thing about magic!” Tynea yelled back.
“Then just hit it with a frying pan or something!”
“No!” the chef bellowed. Her form then began to melt like ice cream on a hot day. Surprised, Rudim let go and stepped back. The chef’s arms and legs elongated, becoming starfish-like appendages with a single eye on each joint. Her face softened and disappeared, and her voice gurgled from an orifice in her chest. “My masterpiece!”
Tynea had found a large cast iron skillet and raised it over his head. Another shaft of energy lanced out from the device, and Tynea brought the utensil down with a grunt. Pieces of pan-shaped chocolate scattered across the floor. “Damn,” he muttered.
Meanwhile, Rudim redoubled his efforts to capture the shapeshifting chef. While she was distracted by Tynea, he swept his leg out in a practiced move and sent her tumbling to the floor. Using all four arms, he pinned down most of her tentacles. “Ok, astrazoan, what is this thing? And what did you do with the real Chef Gou?”
A wet laugh bubbled up from the astrazoan. “There never was a real Gou, you fool. She was always me. And I’ve spent the past decade being overlooked by my so-called betters! But no longer! They’ll see my genius, right before my molecular comestiblizer turns them into piles of pastries! And then I’ll have my sweet revenge!”
Rudim knocked the astrazoan out with a single punch and stood up. Without looking away from the cabinet he was searching, Tynea said, “I swear, if you say something about ‘just desserts’ right now, I will find another skillet to brain you with.”
“Why are you taking the fun out of this?”
“Fun?!” Tynea yelled as an arc of energy transformed a portion of the ceiling into dripping jelly. “You think this is fun?! Aha!” He pulled a roll of shiny foil from the cabinet. “Never mind. Don’t answer that. I have an idea.” Tynea cautiously approached the sputtering cube, and moments later had it wrapped in the material. The device shook one last time and then was quiet. Tynea carefully peeled away a portion of the covering to reveal an elaborately decorated layer cake.
Rudim chortled. “Reflective foil! Genius!” He warmly embraced Tynea, who finally relaxed.
“I suppose… that was a little thrilling.” Tynea looked up into Rudim’s eyes. “Perhaps you could teach me that leg sweep?”
Rudim reached behind Tynea, swiped a finger of icing from the cake, and smeared it onto Tynea’s forehead. “Does that mean you want to do this again?”
“Maybe,” Tynea said coyly. Wiping the icing from his face, he licked it from his hand and then gagged. “But first let’s get a drink. That might be a cake but it still tastes like metal.”
About the Author
Jason Keeley is a Developer at Paizo, working primarily on the Starfinder Adventure Path line. His work has appeared in all sorts of products, from adventures to supplements to short stories written for Paizo and many other RPG companies. You can find him (and pictures of his dog) on Twitter at @herzwesten, and also watch him as Professor Nikodemus Thorne on the Oblivion Oath stream every Thursday!
About Tales from the Drift
The Tales from the Drift series of web-based flash fiction provides an exciting glimpse into the setting of the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. Written by members of the Starfinder development team and some of the most celebrated authors in tie-in gaming fiction, the Tales from the Drift series promises to explore the worlds, alien cultures, deities, history, and organizations of the Starfinder setting with engaging stories to inspire Game Masters and players alike.