Starfinder: Misery’s Company By Tim Pratt

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

Today, we’re excited to launch the first piece of multi-part Starfinder fiction, Misery’s Company, a serialized novella by Hugo Award-winner Tim Pratt. The first chapter is presented here, while future chapters will be featured in the Paizo Newsletter over the next few months. Make sure you catch each weekly installment by signing up for the Paizo Newsletter. If you already have a Paizo.com account, simply ensure your privacy settings allow for us to send you emails regarding “products, offers, news, and events,”, and you’ll get them too!

Misery's Company Web Fiction Title Treatment. Metal textured text over a space background

Chapter One

DOWN AND OUT

Misree crawled out of an air duct and looked around the hangar bay, one of the cheapest and most cluttered on Absalom Station. She crouched behind a pile of spent energy cells and listened past the hiss of leaking hydraulic lines and the clang of someone banging on a bolt for anything that sounded... worrisome. Like, say, snippets of conversation between enforcers bent on capturing her. She didn’t pick up anything alarming.

There were two dozen ships in the bay, arrayed in uneven lines, from little one-person runabouts to bulky cargo vessels, and her own swift courier, the Up and Out, was way in the back, closest to the exit, just where she liked it. This was the kind of hangar where you had to pay your docking fees up front, so there was nothing stopping her from jumping on board, spinning up the engines, and racing out of here. Sure, coming back to the station without getting murdered on arrival would be tricky, but once she got her hands on some credits, she'd make paying back Zephonith her first—second—at least third—priority. In Misree's experience, enough credits could smooth over just about any difficulty. It was just a shame she always had more difficulties than credits lately.

Once she was confident the way was clear, Misree ran across the hangar toward her ship... and was within steps of the boarding ramp when a vesk shimmered out of some kind of stealth field and stood in her way, holding an immense wrench casually in one clawed hand.

Misree stopped short, very nearly colliding with the vesk, which would have made a bad situation even worse. She looked up (and up, and up) into the reptilian smile. The vesk was easily seven feet tall, while Misree was on the short side for a human. "Smeliel! I was just looking for you."

"Isn't that lucky," the vesk enforcer rumbled. "I was looking for you, too." She rapped the nose of the Up and Out with her wrench. "You weren't going to leave, were you? You have an appointment with our mutual employer, and I’m sure you don’t plan to keep her waiting."

Misree's smile slipped. "I don't work for Zephonith." Misree didn't work for anyone anymore. She charted her own course, made her own choices, and didn't have to answer to anyone—or answer for them, either. Flying solo was better in every way. Though it did mean, at times like this, that nobody had her back.

"Zephonith owns you, though." Smeliel crouched, bringing her closer to Misree's eye level. "Until you pay what's owed."

Misree had borrowed heavily from Zephonith to finance a heist, outfitting the Up and Out with the latest infiltration, stealth, and combat tech, all part of a plan to rob the orbital pleasure palace of a lashunta oligarch... but it turned out her contact sold the same security system plans and station blueprints to another crew: one that managed to strike a lot faster. The prize was stolen from Misree, which meant she didn’t have the capital to repay her loan, or even keep up with the eye-watering interest. "I'm going to pay,” Misree said. “In fact, I was just going out to scout a new job, so I’d have good news for Zephonith at our meeting."

 

Smeliel turned her head and looked at the ship. "You've got everything you need on here, don't you?" Her voice was full of undisguised admiration. "I had a word with the engineers you hired. The Up and Out is a custom-built flying crime spree. Seems a shame to leave it in such.... ineffectual hands."

Misree's guts went cold. "Smeliel, no, you can't—"

"Half the value of that vessel comes from upgrades you made with Zeph's money," the Vesk said, as if idly musing. "The other half... should pretty much cover the interest, plus a gratuity to thank my employer for not tossing you out an airlock for trying to run away today. In which case, you can just transfer the title, and we’re done."

Misree gritted her teeth. "You can't take my ship. She's all I've got. I poured my life into the Up and Out—"

Smeliel clamped an immense clawed hand on Misree's shoulder. "Then don't make me pour your life out all over this hangar deck."

Did you always want to be a hired thug? Was this your childhood dream? Beating people up for a crime boss?" Misree winced at herself. Sometimes her thoughts slipped out of her mouth before she could stop them.

"I'm a poet, actually," Smeliel said, grinding down on Misree’s shoulder. "That's why I left home, originally—my family didn't understand my dreams. But poetry doesn't pay very well. Not compared to enforcing the interests of a local entrepreneur. Sometimes you need a night job. I will say, doing this kind of work?" She showed all her serrated, triangular teeth. "It does give me a great deal of insight into the sapient condition, and that's helpful in my art. Maybe I'll write something about you—'An Ode to Misery.'"

"I've never heard a joke like that before," Misree said. "Can I at least get my stuff?"

"You don't have any stuff," Smeliel said. "You walk away with your life. And that deal is only good for the next minute or so. Transfer the title now."

Misree looked wistfully at the Up and Out—her home, her livelihood, and practically her only friend. But you had to know when to let things go, and “two seconds before a vesk enforcer splits your head open with a wrench” was an excellent time to do so. She tapped a command into her wrist-mounted computer and gave up her one true love.

Smeliel looked at a readout on her own datapad, grunted, and said, “Good choice. I hate getting blood all over my good wrench.” She made a shooing gesture. “I'd say 'Don't let me see you on this station again,' but since it's a big place, and you don't have access to a vehicle anymore, I'll settle for saying, 'Stay out of Zephonith's club.'"

“The drinks are overpriced anyway,” Misree muttered.

“True,” Smeliel said. “You couldn’t afford the cover charge anyway, now that I think about it. Stop loitering around my ship.”

Misree trudged out of the hangar. At least she didn’t have to sneak through air ducts and service tunnels anymore. She reviewed her assets. She still had a day left on the rental for the sleep-pod where she'd been hiding out from Zephonith. She had a change of clothes in the bag strapped to her back, an ultrathin switchblade in her pocket, and a few credsticks squirreled away here and there on the station—she'd learned early in life not to keep everything of value in one place.

That was the totality of her net worth, though, and it wasn’t enough to finance any kind of comeback or fresh start. Ugh. Would she be reduced to running short cons on tourists in bars? Or worse, rolling drunks and emptying their pockets? She’d never been into strongarm robbery, and it was a dangerous proposition. She knew a guy who’d mugged a defenseless-looking human who’d turned out to have an integrated cutting torch hidden in a cybernetic arm, and everybody called the mugger “Cyclops” now because he only had one eye left. But even robbery was a better option than hiring herself out to one of Zephonith's competitors, which was her only other plausible path to financial security. It was pretty easy to get a job with a crime boss when you had the kind of skills and résumé Misree did... but it was really hard to quit that job if you ever wanted to move on.

She turned onto a crowded thoroughfare, through a gray-market bazaar that filled a hub where three corridors intersected. She headed down an alley that led to her sleeping pod, one of two dozen stacked cubbyholes, each just barely big enough to sleep in. At least her pod was on the bottom level, so she didn’t have to climb a rickety ladder to reach—

Misree froze. The door to her cubby was ajar. In theory it was biometrically locked to her for the duration of her rental, but there were ways to spoof the locks, or you could always just bribe the manager. Who was inside? Another of Zephonith’s enforcers, one who hadn’t been called off yet?

She crouched beside an overflowing trash bin and watched her door swing all the way open. An android stepped out of her room—ebony skinned with a shining bald head of some silver alloy and bright yellow eyes, wearing a slick black overcoat.

Zephinoth never employed androids; Misree didn’t know why, but she assumed she’d been wronged by one too many androids on her climb up the crime boss career ladder. Which meant... this was some other kind of trouble.

The android turned his head, his stoic yellow eyes fixing immediately on her. “Misree Ludovic! I’ve been looking for you!”

Misree ran.

About the Author

Tim Pratt is the author of more than 20 novels, most recently the Axiom space opera series, including Philip K. Dick Award finalist The Wrong Stars and its sequels, The Dreaming Stars and The Forbidden Stars. Tim’s five Pathfinder Tales novels—City of the Fallen Sky, Reign of Stars, Liar’s Blade, Liar’s Bargain, and Liar’s Island—are available now. He's a Hugo Award winner for short fiction, and has been a finalist for Nebula, World Fantasy, Sturgeon, Mythopoeic, Stoker, and other awards. His collection Miracles & Marvels was released last fall. He tweets incessantly (@timpratt) and publishes a new story every month for patrons at www.patreon.com/timpratt.

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Tags: Starfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Web Fiction
Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

HOLY DEUS EX MACHINA, yes I want Starfinder fiction by Pratt!

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Yes! So awesome!


Oh I am very here for this read!

Dark Archive

Oh hey more serial fiction woo! :3


Should have had a craftily hidden blaster . . . .


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Wow! I've been a huge fan of Tim Pratt since I read his Marla Mason books, and his Pathfinder novels are some of the best and most fun the series ever did. Very cool!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

FINALLLY STARFINDER NOVELS (of sorts, kinda, well I'll take it) LINE IS HERE! Thank you Paizo! HUZZAAH!


Starfinder Superscriber

Reads good. Looking forward to more!


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Great! And I'll join the pro-Tim Hitchcock chorus. He is also great. :D


1 person marked this as a favorite.

So great to have Starfinder novels by Tim Pratt, but please, one from Amanda Hamon still will be awesome!

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Tazera wrote:
So great to have Starfinder novels by Tim Pratt, but please, one from Amanda Hamon still will be awesome!

I'm sure Amanda would love to (and we'd love to have her!), but she works at Wizards of the Coast on D&D now, and they have a pretty strict non-compete policy. So unfortunately, we're unlikely to get any new Starfinder content from Amanda in the near future, but I'll be sure to pass on to her that she's got a fan!

Scarab Sages

2 people marked this as a favorite.

So glad for this! Thank you Paizo and Tim Pratt!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I alwayyyyyyyyys love Tim Pratt's fiction - and the work he does for Paizo is always a thing of joy.

Dark Archive

So I got all of the Pathfinder novel segments without a hitch, but I haven't seen the Starfinder one in my inbox yet.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Davor Firetusk wrote:
So I got all of the Pathfinder novel segments without a hitch, but I haven't seen the Starfinder one in my inbox yet.

That's because it hasn't been sent out yet?

(The first chapter is on the Paizo blog, thereafter each of the successive chapters will be sent by email - provided your settings are correct.)

(This is what's written in the introductory text above the actual chapter...)

Hope this helps.

Dark Archive

Classic mistake of seeing what you expect to see, thanks for clarifying.


I didn't even know to expect a series of these -- looking forward to it.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

When is the second chapter suppose to come out?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

In the mailbox already. Seems it is Wednesdays.

Paizo Employee Marketing & Media Manager

5 people marked this as a favorite.

New Chapters come out Wednesdays. They link back to all previous chapters now. :)


Just got mine yesterday too.

Dark Archive

Misree was so paranoid that I guessed right she was running away from nothing, but considering its start of book I guess it has to loop back to something bad? :D

Man thing with serialized fiction is that normally I'd be just reading next chapter, now I have time to speculate what will be in chapter 4


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I would call it time deplayed fiction. :)

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Really shouldn't be surprised that there is a bear xP

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber

Spoilers, Chapter 5 & SFS 3.00:
*places Val on a pedestal, beside Suzi from Accounting*
If anything bad happens to these precious good girls, there's going to be Hell. To. Pay.


Pathfinder LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Evan van de Steeg wrote:
Where the hell is my newsletter?!!!!!!

Under Asmodeus' throne.

Dataphiles

Yeah! More! :-)

Dark Archive

So any bets, is ship cursed or is Brio secretly traitor or something?

Or do they just have incredibly bad luck? :D


Is there a chapter for this week? It is already Friday and nothing, supposed to come on Wednesday.


DarkOne the Drow wrote:
Is there a chapter for this week? It is already Friday and nothing, supposed to come on Wednesday.

Yeah, I've been wondering about that, too... :(

Note: If the story's taking a little break for this week, that's fine. Just a little heads up would be appreciated, especially considering what happened during the Pathfinder tale before this.
(I'll concede that things might also be a little hectic at the moment, hence the delay.)
Of course, if the chapter was sent out already & we should have received it, then... Help?

Keep carrying on,

--C.

<edit> PS: I'm having fun reading Misree's story! <3


Update:

I just got it! Guess it was just delayed...

Thank you!

Carry on,

--C.

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Chapter 8 wrote:
The atmosphere outside was breathable, so there was no need for cumbersome suits.

Oh, sweet summer child. Wouldn't last a week in the Starfinder Society. I bet Misree can't even see in the dark, the poor thing :D

Dark Archive

Ah yes, hints on why Misree decided to work alone originally

Dataphiles

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Really enjoying this book!

Dark Archive

Nice, was able to tell what was cause of bad luck :O Details and execution of finding that out were surprising though :3


Excited

Scarab Sages

1 person marked this as a favorite.

been following these chapters avidly (now #12) - is there any hope Paizo will publish the tale as an adventure to inflict onrun for my group?

Dark Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Hyped for finale :3

Dark Archive

Realized paizocon art stream had art for Val, Exo, Kicamio and Broken Mirror, so hopefully now that story is finished we get similar blogs the previous serialized fiction also got :3

Second Seekers (Jadnura)

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
CorvusMask wrote:
Realized paizocon art stream had art for Val, Exo, Kicamio and Broken Mirror, so hopefully now that story is finished we get similar blogs the previous serialized fiction also got :3

!!!

Well now I need to go watch the Art Stream. I was getting around to it anyways, I swear!
Timestamped link for those who also missed it

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

4 people marked this as a favorite.
caribet wrote:
been following these chapters avidly (now #12) - is there any hope Paizo will publish the tale as an adventure to inflict onrun for my group?

Probably not an adventure, no. But we plan to compile the chapters into an easily readable eBook and put it up on the Paizo and Kindle web stores.

CorvusMask wrote:
Realized paizocon art stream had art for Val, Exo, Kicamio and Broken Mirror, so hopefully now that story is finished we get similar blogs the previous serialized fiction also got :3

These are not currently on the docket, as rules content blogs take a bit more coordination than the straight fiction elements. The art is in, though, as you can see, and it will at the very least be included in the eBook. Would folks like to see the stats for Misree's company and their ship as NPCs?


4 people marked this as a favorite.

^Yes.

Dark Archive

Mark Moreland wrote:
caribet wrote:
been following these chapters avidly (now #12) - is there any hope Paizo will publish the tale as an adventure to inflict onrun for my group?

Probably not an adventure, no. But we plan to compile the chapters into an easily readable eBook and put it up on the Paizo and Kindle web stores.

CorvusMask wrote:
Realized paizocon art stream had art for Val, Exo, Kicamio and Broken Mirror, so hopefully now that story is finished we get similar blogs the previous serialized fiction also got :3
These are not currently on the docket, as rules content blogs take a bit more coordination than the straight fiction elements. The art is in, though, as you can see, and it will at the very least be included in the eBook. Would folks like to see the stats for Misree's company and their ship as NPCs?

YES

Wayfinders

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:
Would folks like to see the stats for Misree's company and their ship as NPCs?

Yes, please!


I am just now hearing about this / signing up for the newsletter. Is there any way to read the remaining chapters?

Paizo Employee Director of Brand Strategy

2 people marked this as a favorite.
wallyosu wrote:
I am just now hearing about this / signing up for the newsletter. Is there any way to read the remaining chapters?

I'm not sure if new sign-ups are getting this one still or not. We'll definitely have them all available as an ebook in the future, though.


Pathfinder Adventure, LO Special Edition, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Rulebook Subscriber; Starfinder Superscriber
Mark Moreland wrote:


I'm not sure if new sign-ups are getting this one still or not. We'll definitely have them all available as an ebook in the future, though.

My mind just came back to dwell on this since I've had a bit of time to do some reading and realized that I randomly stopped receiving the newsletter after the 4th chapter.

Any way we can get these collected in an eBook yet, or at least in a form similar to the emails that everyone can read? I'm thirsty for more Starfinder lore and I'm sure the rest of everyone would appreciate it as well.

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