Catch up on previous chapters of Wreckers Reunion here.
“Whirp–click?” the tiny construct asked of Droven, who rotated the lenses of a pair of clockwork glasses he’d been tinkering with.
“Hush now, little Whirp.” The half-orc placed a hand on the construct’s metal head. Farther down the beach—just within range of what the inventor could see through the darkness of early evening—a noisome band of pirates and smugglers gathered around a cooking fire obstructed by enough foliage to remain hidden from passing ships. The flames made it hard for Droven to calibrate his goggles as he looked on from the northern flank.
“Wreckers," Droven said quietly. The nomads had warned him about them—and for good reason. Just beyond the campfire, a half dozen captives remained locked inside a stockade. The structure looked sturdy, despite being crafted from driftwood and detritus collected from the beach. Many of the prisoners had been hog-tied. Others were yoked in makeshift stocks.
“I believe the Wreckers caught bigger fish than they meant to fry,” Droven said, adjusting his position. “Someone must have stripped and dumped the bodies we found near the tree line. I bet the smugglers ambushed the prisoners and overpowered them, but not before several were lost in the fray.” He exhaled. “Which would mean they desecrated the bodies of their own compatriots. Not much of a retirement plan if you ask me.”
“Bzzzzt–click” Whirp said, tugging desperately at the inventor’s arm. Droven didn’t need months exploring the Arcadian coastline with the construct to know what that meant. He dropped his goggles and spun to draw his hammer as Whirp gestured frantically toward the small hillock’s only safe pathway. Someone had snuck near their position, leaving obvious tracks behind. Droven glanced over his shoulder. The drop was too far to know whether he could leap down to the sands below and keep his footing.
“Ho there! I warn you; I am armed and no easy prey. Allow me to negotiate for the release of your prisoners and the cessation of attacks against the ships passing by this shoreline. Otherwise, prepare for battle!”
A pair of Wrecker scouts stepped out from the underbrush. A woman outstretched her arm to reveal a spider with barbed fur clamped around her wrist like a living gauntlet. The puckering spinneret twitched toward Droven, causing the inventor to tighten his grip on the hammer. The weapon was almost certainly a beast gun. He’d seen enough of them to know it possessed the abilities of the spider whose body it was constructed from. If he didn’t act first, he and Whirp would be enveloped in spiderweb and rolled down the embankment. Some heroes they would be—wrapped up like two helpless caterpillars in silk cocoons.
Droven whistled sharply and dropped to his stomach. Whirp planted its spindly arms in the dirt and somersaulted toward the Wreckers, just before detonating in a roiling ball of flame. The inventor had rigged the little construct to explode on command, knowing it would survive the blast largely unharmed. The same could not be said of the two smugglers who rolled on the ground to extinguish their burning clothes. Droven rushed forward and struck each of their skulls with the hammer, holding back just enough of his strength to leave them alive. At least, he hoped. Neither strike had drawn much blood.
Droven’s clockwork companion, Whirp, spews a gout of flame at his enemies in this exciting illustration from Pathfinder Guns & Gears, by Maichol Quinto.
It was only a matter of time before the explosion attracted other Wreckers, though with any luck the crest of the hillock obscured most of the remaining flames. Droven kicked sand over the parts of the smugglers that still smoldered and bound them with lengths of spare wire. He and Whirp had better move fast. But not before he snatched the spidery beast gun which had been so kindly gifted to them.
“Point and click, right, Whirp?” Droven snapped the weapon in place atop his forearm, suppressing a grimace as its tiny hairs pricked his skin.
The sounds of shouting in the distance grew louder. The inventor tapped Whirp on the shoulder, signaling the construct to collapse into a light carrying case. Droven scooped up his companion by its clockwork arm-turned-handle and dashed into the trees.
Sliding behind some foliage, Droven steadied his stolen weapon on top of the little construct’s condensed body. Two triggers protruded from the abdomen of the taxidermic spider. He was reasonably confident that depressing the first would fire a net of silk webbing. He had no inkling about the second. There was only one way to find out.
As the first Wrecker came into sight, Droven pulled the first trigger—only to discover the absurdity of his assumption. A barbed hair launched from the spider and stabbed the pirate in the neck. The smuggler collapsed to the ground in spastic convulsions just before growing still. Droven moved to the body, placing his hand on the Wrecker’s neck. No pulse. Droven struggled against the dread coalescing in the pit of his stomach. As much as the inventor detested unnecessary violence, his foe had undoubtedly met the same fate as the many innocent victims who crossed the pirates’ path. Perhaps he could find some solace in that.
When the next smuggler came into sight, Droven pulled the second trigger. The beast gun fired the webbing he’d expected before, provoking a sigh of relief. The web spiraled outward from the beast gun, pinning the Wrecker to a nearby tree as it wrapped circles around the trunk. As the pirate pleaded for someone to cut him free, Droven realized he and his companion could soon find themselves outnumbered. He tapped Whirp once more and the tiny construct unfolded into its bipedal form. Pulling a pair of boots sized for the construct out of his backpack, Droven quickly fitted them onto Whirp’s stubby legs.
“Lead them on a merry chase and then meet me at their bonfire. Understood?”
“Whirrrrrrrpup–click–whirrrrrr!” the construct said in response, slamming its tiny heels together to activate the blast boots. Whirp rocketed skyward through the trees; its path lit by twin tails of flame.
Droven moved quickly through the woods, heading toward the Wreckers’ bonfire and, most importantly, the stockade. When he arrived at camp, he slowed to sneak carefully behind the pair of guards who remained. As he moved, he pictured the rest of the Wreckers struggling to keep up as they chased the flash of Whirp’s fiery trail through the darkness. He smiled and shifted his hammer to his prosthetic hand. Droven rapped both pirates with a single flourish that would have been all but impossible with a limb comprised of flesh and blood. His last remaining enemies slumped to the ground unceremoniously, knocked cold.
Droven dashed toward the prison. After releasing a small blade integrated into his metal arm, he slashed through the ropes that tied the door shut. He moved toward the nearest prisoner: a cleric bearing a silver symbol of Sarenrae who had been muffled with a cloth gag. Droven slid his blade softly under the fabric, gently enough to avoid piercing the prisoner’s cheek, and pulled. He cut her free just in time to make out, “–hind you!”
Droven turned to behold his grave mistake. Three Wreckers remained behind, not two. The pirate Droven failed to spot had her own beast gun, this one made from the neck and maw of a fire-breathing drake.
“Oi! Drop the gun!” the woman shouted.
Hoping not to alarm her, Droven disconnected the spider gun from his arm and let it fall to the ground.
“Thought you could steal from the Wreckers, eh? ‘Fraid we’re going to have to make an example out of you! Any last words?” She leveled the drake gun at Droven.
Droven couldn’t help but glance toward the sky. Some twenty feet above the Wrecker, two thin lines of fire bisected the night sky.
“Last words? Why, yes, I do have some.” Droven stifled a grin. “I’m afraid that you failed to account… for the powerful bond of friendship!” As the inventor yelled, he activated a large magnet attached to a disposable electric reservoir in his prosthetic arm. The magnetic force drew Whirp—who hovered above he and the Wrecker thanks to the blast boots Droven had fitted the construct with—down toward the inventor’s arm.
The smuggler fired, unleashing a blast of flame from her drake gun. But it was too late. The little construct twisted its metallic body and absorbed the brunt of the explosion, shielding Droven from harm.
Droven remembered the blade on his prosthetic hand. Just before he moved to strike, a thunderous explosion forced him to duck behind Whirp. When he peaked back over the construct’s shoulder, the Wrecker lie prone, screaming, and thrashing—totally enveloped in flame. Despite burning alive, she staggered to her feet and pointed the drake gun once more—first at Whirp, then at Droven.
A small figure stepped out of the shadows behind her, holding a vial of alchemist’s fire in hand. Droven’s jaw dropped in disbelief.
"Fumbus?" he coughed. “Where did you come from?” But Droven heard no words in response.
Just another boom.
About the Author
Michael Sayre is a designer at Paizo who previously worked on the Organized Play team. He’s also a prolific freelancer, having contributed to numerous Paizo books and publications from other publishers, such as Lost Spheres Publishing, Rogue Genius Games, and many other companies in support of the Pathfinder RPG and other table-top game systems.
Fred Van Lente is a New York Times bestselling writer of comics, prose, and gaming, including the Pathfinder: Fumbus one-shot successfully Kickstarted in 2021. His short story “Neversleeps” was shortlisted for Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. In addition to playing Pathfinder 2e, he’s currently running Call of Cthulhu 7e and Fallout 2d20 campaigns in Brooklyn, NY. He’s on Twitter and Instagram as @fredvanlente and you can sign up for updates on his upcoming projects at www.fredvanlente.com.
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.