Iconic Encounter: Interesting Times At Okira Station

Thursday, August 06, 2020

When the explosions started, Navasi’s first thought was, This should speed up the wait, at least.

They’d been hired to escort a caravan running supplies to one of the smaller colonies just in the Diaspora. Rather than provide security on ship, their employer had told them it would be more efficient to use small, single-person starfighters to counter the raiding tactics of the local pirates. Which meant traveling to the military supply station nearest to the caravan, Okira Station, where the Pact Worlds government stored surplus ships.

The plan was to sign some the leases, pay some rental fees, pick fighters, and rendezvous back with the caravan when it came out of Drift. Navasi had mixed feelings about the job, since she was technically wanted dead or alive in the Diaspora by the Sixth Finger, the interplanetary thieves’ guild she once worked for.

But a job was a job.

As office workers ran out of the building in panic, Navasi and her team moved to the nearest window to survey the situation. Navasi couldn’t help but smile at the fleeing civilians. The bureaucrats in Okira had been doing their utter best to bore her team to death, loading them with long waits and endless waiver forms rather than part with any of their precious fighters. Those pen pushers all seemed to have vanished now that the guns were out, leaving Navasi and her team to their own devices.

Outside, swarms of steel-gray fighters with cockpits of crimson glass flew strafing patterns over the outpost. Navasi wondered for a moment if the Sixth Finger had finally caught up to her. But she knew that was wrong. This wasn’t the pirates’ style. Nor did any of these ships display the familiar sigils.

If the Sixth was going to even the score, they’d send someone to do it up close and personal. There seemed to be no pattern to this raid beyond “do as much random damage as possible.” No, this attack had nothing to do with her or her crew. They were just unlucky bystanders who happened to be caught in the crossfire. Already, Okira Station security was launching its own ships in response, leading to that deadly, graceful ballet of single-fighter combat.

Navasi was still wondering what they should do when Obo, ever spoiling for a fight, ignited her doshko and said, “Don’t suppose these cowards will put boots on the ground. Very well, let’s go kill them in the sky.”

Navasi was aware that Obo thought she relied on diplomacy too much. In this instance, though, she was inclined to share the vesk’s preferred tactic. There was a time for talk, but they were already past it. Right now, it was time for fire and chrome.

“Obo’s right,” she said. “It’s not safe on the ground. Everyone pick a ship.”

The vesk grinned as Navasi vaulted over the front desk and opened the computer terminal. Pathetically simple security took only a moment to override. After that, a few seconds of searching allowed her to find the docking bay level outside their building. She punched in the release codes and disarmed all the docked fighters’ cryptolocks.

“Are you sure, captain?” Velloro asked. Navasi followed the lashunta’s stare to Barsala. Navasi knew Velloro could fly, but they both knew Barsala had only minimal piloting skills. The kasatha scientist was brave, reliable, but she preferred to work on the ground and provide backup on a ship. These single-person fighters were incredibly intuitive—a child could fly one—and they’d all practiced in simulators to prepare, but that mattered little if you were flying up against space raiders who knew what they were doing.

“Well, we wanted to take these fighters for a practice ride, right?” said Navasi, leaping back over the counter. “What better way to get a field test? Barsala, just stick close to us.”

The walls shuddered under the impact of more artillery, causing dislodged dust to rain from the ceiling. Alarms screamed. It wouldn’t do to stay here and have the office collapse on their heads. Better to return the favor and see these bastards off. Who knows? The Okira Station officials could be so grateful that Navasi might be able to squeeze a discount out of them.

“The fighters out there have been unlocked and primed for takeoff,” Navasi said, leading them toward the door. “Fan out once we’re in the open! Don’t run in a straight line—don’t give them anything easy to shoot at.”

Easy to say, harder to do. Still, this wasn’t her crew’s first time getting shot at. They left the stale office air and entered a smoky hell. Overhead, most of the raiders were occupied by Okira Station’s deployed response, but more than enough were still concentrating on doing as much damage as they could.

The iconic biohacker, envoy, soldier, and vanguard race across a landing platform amid an aerial assault by a small squadron of single-person fighters. The heroes make their way to their own fighters, dodging laser blasts and explosions along the way

Illustration by Tomasz Chistowski

Velloro formed a shield out of concentrated entropy and moved forward. Barsala followed behind, hesitant, no doubt trying to decide which ship would be best. Heedless of the destruction raining down on them, Obo ran straight for the starfighter with the biggest guns. Navasi saw one that reminded her of the ships she flew back when she was a pirate with another name. That would do nicely.

She’d just started to board her choice when she heard Barsala cry out. The kasatha biohacker stumbled but got to her feet quickly, her eyes wide. She still hadn’t chosen a fighter. She also didn’t notice the raider’s ship barreling down on her, guns blazing.

But Velloro did. Entropy shield raised, he leapt in front of Barsala as the two were enveloped in a fiery explosion.

Velloro felt zero hesitation leaping in front of Barsala. He was the Castrovel Crusher and could take the damage. Not only was protecting others instinctual for him, he was only returning the favor. Had not Barsala treated all their wounds countless times?

He didn’t hesitate. He never did, which was how he’d won in the arena all those years.

Still, the raider’s plasma blast was more powerful than he anticipated. It burned through his entropy shield, dissipating it, overwhelmed the energy and platemesh layers of his armor, burning him up inside and out. He tried to dissipate the heat as best he could, but the pain was intense. When the smoke cleared, Velloro looked down at his blistered and cracked skin and his shredded armor. He’d survived, but it was a near thing. He wasn’t sure about flying now, though.

Barsala’s head eclipsed his view of the smoky sky.

“Hold still,” she said and quickly brought out her medkit. In moments, she injected him with several syringes of various colors and applied salves where the burns looked the worst. Through his hazy vision, Velloro admired the calm poise on the kasatha’s face.

Then he noticed something else as well.

“There’s a two-person fighter over there,” Velloro said. “I can fly, you can shoot.”

“That sounds like a fair trade,” Barsala said as she injected more restoratives. Already, he felt worlds better and leapt to his feet.

“Wait, one more,” Barsala said. She pulled forth a green syringe. “If I’m going to rely on your reflexes, I want them to be sharp.” Velloro hated the idea of stims to make him fight better—it felt uncomfortably close to cheating—but if they were both going to fly, it wasn’t just his life in the balance. He nodded and Barsala plunged the injector into him. Immediately, he felt his senses crackle as though electric. Time seemed to slow. The air smelt of melted plastic and sulfurous flame.

Navasi and Obo had already taken off. Best to follow them.

“After you, friend,” Velloro said, as the biohacker jumped in the two-person cockpit.

“Velloro. Barsala, do you copy?” Obo’s voice growled over the fighter’s intercom. “What’s your status? Are you all right?”

“Why Obo, I didn’t know you cared,” said Barsala.

“I’m a little worse for wear,” Velloro said, “but Barsala patched me up quick.”

“Glad to hear it,” cut in Navasi from her own fighter. Velloro could see her ship moving to engage the raiders. “Now get to the sky. Time for a little payback.”

“Roger that,” said Velloro as he fired up the fighter’s engines. “You ready, Barsala?”

He heard the weapon systems on their ship’s go live with a deadly hum. When Barsala spoke, the kasatha scientist no longer sounded scared. “Let’s do this.”

About the Author

Patrick Hurley has had fiction published in Galaxy’s Edge, Cosmic Roots & Eldritch Shores, Abyss & Apex, New Myths, Arcanist, Aurealis, Frozen Wavelets, The Overcast, and The Drabblecast. He is a 2017 graduate of the Taos Toolbox Writer's Workshop. In 2018, he was a finalist for the Baen Fantasy Award. Patrick lives in Seattle and is a member of SFWA and the Dreamcrashers. He still can’t quite believe he has the good fortune to also be an editor at Paizo.

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.

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Tags: Iconic Encounters Starfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Web Fiction

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is awesome. I love the little character details for all involved. Of course Dr.B doesn't take to combat quite as quickly as the others, but when she's in, she's in. Of course Velloro is iffy on stims. And hopefully Obo never changes.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Great story!

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

3 people marked this as a favorite.

Thanks Patrick, that was fun! And some Starship Operations Manual squadron combat inspiration too. Sometimes just getting to the fighters is a challenge!

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I ship the lashunta gladiator and the kasathan Bill Nye...someone help.

Can we... except to get all iconic characters statted in an upcoming book ;) ?

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
JiCi wrote:
Can we... except to get all iconic characters statted in an upcoming book ;) ?

Are you asking to see the character sheets for the iconics? Because, if so, good news!

Kishmo wrote:
JiCi wrote:
Can we... except to get all iconic characters statted in an upcoming book ;) ?
Are you asking to see the character sheets for the iconics? Because, if so, good news!

Oh! Ok then :)

The Exchange

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
VerBeeker wrote:
I ship the lashunta gladiator and the kasathan Bill Nye...someone help.

Roger that. I will help you ship this ship that I never knew needed shipping until you brought it to all of our attention.

110% on board and reporting for duty.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Get to the choppa!

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber




Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I love your explosive start here, Patrick!


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