June 23, 2018 recap

The group headed back to the Lorespire Complex to get some rest and see what they could learn about the Inquistives and their leader, Radaszam. Their office was in the Nyori Palisades, a luxurious neighborhood located in Absalom Station’s transparent central dome. They headed over to introduce themselves.

The plain white doors of the office slide open to reveal a stark, dimly lit room. The chamber is bleak and expressionless in its emptiness—no vanities line its smooth black walls, and no signs of use mar its smooth black furniture. The only occupants of the suite are a bug-eyed tadpole wriggling in a glowing blue aquarium and a reptilian vesk seated behind an onyx desk. The vesk gestures to a number of chairs in front of him, his features sharply illuminated by the light of his desk’s green holoscreen.

“The new graduates,” he greets, in a low and pleasant voice. “Good day. I am Radaszam, though since you are here, I should hope you already knew. “I trust you are aware of our Society’s traditions, so I will cut to the point. I have a minor situation that needs resolution. One of our members, a human named Laboni, had a rather public altercation with a junk scavenger from the Spike. You might be more familiar with the scavenger than I, actually; he is a ysoki who fancifully calls himself Ratrod. I am told he runs a popular racing competition that has, hmm, several hundreds of thousands of viewers on the station’s infosphere. For some reason, Laboni felt the need to tell him that any ‘real’ mechanic could easily beat the garbage that Ratrod and his associates slap together. Now that Ratrod has issued an infosphere-wide demand that she race him and prove it, Laboni doubts she can back that claim up.”

“Embarrassing, isn’t it? Not really the sort of troublemaker that suits our Society. Perhaps she would be better suited to the bottom of a trash compactor… Well, we cannot afford to throw her out, not after so many Starfinders were lost in the Scoured Stars. Besides, we can’t let people think we are so weak that we can’t control our own members, or that we cannot stand up to a scrapyard junker. No, I would like you to assist Laboni in winning this race. Show our detractors that even the least of our Society is not someone to be trifled with.”

Radaszam gives them directions to the race’s location in Botscrap and hands them badges marking the PCs as Laboni’s official pit crew. E.D. and Iron were both familiar with the races and Ratrod but neither of them had ever seen or been to the races in Botscrap. They immediately started to plan how they could fix the race to Laboni would win. Radaszam reminded them that they are not to bring shame or have the Society shown in a bad light. They nodded in approval and left the Lorespire Complex. They talked over what they might be able to do as they walked to Botscrap.

Ratrod’s racing circuit is a hollowed-out section of a mountain of spare parts in Botscrap, the track specifically sanctioned by the ysoki-dominated Salvage Union that controls most of the yards. As E.D. Iron and Bas Nov arrived at the competitors’ entrance, a small robot informs them of the basic rules of the race: racers and their pit crews are to build and improve their vehicles from the available scrap around the racetrack. Vehicles built at previous junkraces can return. Racers can fire upon other competitors during the race, but firing into the audience is grounds for immediate disqualification; racer weapons must be nonlethal and may affect only opponents’ vehicles.

Laboni was easy to find in her paisley clothes and wearing a bright white lab coat. They introduced themselves and said they were there to assist her in the race. She is in her late teens and sheepish about the whole debacle, not really saying much about what happened at first but as she warmed up to them the story came out. She had only been repeating opinions of her superiors and got a carried away. She does not want to apologize until after the race, which is plans to win. She is grateful that they have shown up to assist her and she leads them to the junk-racer she has put together. Turns out she is quite the mechanic and has put together a decent racer. But E.D. can instantly tell it does not have the same adjustments on it that the other racers that have been worked on and tinkered on for many races.

They have a limited amount of time before the race was set to begin so they decided that Iron and E.D. would spend their time looking through the scrapyard for parts to improve Laboni’s racer while Bas Nov would scope out the other racers and try to Intimidate them which was something he is good at. He would rely any information back. E.D. and Iron focused on increasing the racer’s speed and to the modifiers it had to piloting. Laboni not being a good pilot nor a great shot had installed a remote control on the racer. E.D. would pilot and Bas Nov would be the gunner. Bas Nov returned and gave them some info on the other races.

Lemgem was a female feychild gnome covered in piercing, tattoos and augmentations. She also had blue hair. She raced just to get more augmentations. She was not receptive to his Intimidation and asked him to leave.

Nyizin was a female ryphorian covered in scars. Bas Nov gathered she was a solider of some kind before she raced. She wore a lot of black and her racer was also various shades of black. She ignored Bas Nov completely.

Orsis was a male damaya lashunta. He looked stoic with dark hair and dressed entirely in black and gold. As Bas Nov approached Orsis yells out “Don’t even think of cheating. Just go on now. I have work to do.”

Velocity was a beautiful android with silver hair andskin. They have self-modified to have both masculine and feminine attributes, and have decorated their clothing, eyelids, and lips with bright, colorful patterns. They are talkative and Bas Nov learns that they have never won the race. Today may be their day!

Ratrod was a ysoki with mottled gray-and-white fur. He has a showman’s personality to match his icon status. People in the Spike consider him something of a hero to theysoki-dominated Scrap Union. People were bringing him drinks and food. It seemed he had his own entourage.

Bas Nov was not sure how much his intimidation tactics worked. He told all who would listen that he was betting a large amount of money on Laboni and that the other racers had not shot to win.

The junkracers were led out to the racecourse. The course was 3000 feet long. With the speed of some of these racers the race may not last too long. Laboni and Ratrod were on the front row with the others set behind them. And the starting gun was sounded and they were off. Ratrod fired his weapon at Laboni but missed. Bas Nov shot back at Ratrod hitting but it didn’t seem to affect him as he took an early lead. The other racers fired their weapon at each other and only Lemgem was able to actually get moving off of the Start/Finish line behind Ratrod and Laboni. Ratrod fired another shot but it did not affect Laboni who raced ahead and never looked back. Lemgem fired once at Laboni and then focused on Ratrod the rest of the race. Bas Nov never fired another shot as Laboni’s racer sped around the track. At one point she was most of the back straightaway ahead of the other racers. Her racer slowed down some as she crossed the finish line in first place.

Ratrod came over to her and congratulated her on her win. Laboni apologized for what she had said earlier. Her actions and her racing impressed Ratrod so much he had the Salvage Unit give her extra prizes for winning the race. She in turn passed these onto E.D., Iron and Bas Nov. She gave them a set of graphite carbon skin armor and 400 credits. Radaszam contacted them and thanked them for helping Laboni win the race and save face for the Starfinder Society. He deposited another 200 credits to each of them in appreciation from the Society. Laboni was hooked on racing and talked about doing this full time. She did realize that she would need to learn to pilot and to shoot but she felt confident enough to go for it.

E.D., Iron and Bas Nov then spent some time shopping and upgrading their gear. They had the option of reporting to Venture-Captain Arvin, a no-nonsense leader within the Society or go to see Duravor Kreel, a dwarf mechanic and member of the Starfinder Society who liked to meet new members and show them around the Society in a less formal way. They decided to meet with Duravor Kreel first. He had just finished several days of vacation off of Absalom Station and would meet them at Dock Bay 94.

They headed to the Docks.

The brightly lit docks of Absalom Station are abuzz with activity as travelers bustle by, preparing to board or disembarking from starships bound to or from any of dozens of worlds. Brash and swaggering starpilots, scurrying ysoki mechanics, and expectant colonists mingle with enigmatic kasatha mystics, hard-faced asteroid miners, imposing vesk mercenaries, and more, creating a microcosm of the abundance and variety of life in the Pact Worlds. New arrivals meet friends, loved ones, or business contacts, and are whisked away into the humming activity of daily life on the vast space station. Beyond them, ground crews tend to the docked ships, and dockworkers in mechanized cargo lifters load and unload freight and baggage. A sharp tang of ozone hangs in the air—a byproduct of electrical discharges from the docked ships—but underneath, the station’s atmosphere has a slightly used aroma. The docking bay’s deck plates thrum beneath your feet, though whether it’s from the passage of innumerable feet or the vibrations of the station’s power conduits and air recycling systems is impossible to say.

As soon as they arrived they knew something was up. They spotted Duravor wearing overalls with a Starfinder Society symbol. He was looking around for them and checking a datapad. He saw them and gave a wave for them to come over to him. That was when the laser blasts filled the air. Bystanders scream and flee in terror, diving for cover or milling about frantically. Kreel freezes, paralyzed with fear. A blast hits him in the throat and he falls. Iron, E.D. and Bas Nov look at each other and scramble to take cover from all of the laser blasts. It looked like they and Duravor had been caught up between two groups that had opened fire just as they had arrived. They were shot at once but the two groups focused on each other and mostly ignored everyone else. Iron and Bas Nov took care of the one that had shot at them and then began to escort bystanders away from the fighting. E.D. assisted as well. Several of them fell and once there were two left, presumably from the same gang, they ran off and disappeared in the crowd.

E.D., Iron and Bas Nov came out and went over to Duravor. It didn’t take much to know he was dead and they could do nothing to help him. Shortly thereafter station security and emergency medical services finally arrived. Witnesses agree that E.D., Iron and Bas Nov didn’t start the fight, so they were free to go. When asked, the security officers identified the two groups involved as two of Absalom Station’s most infamous street gangs: the Downside Kings and the Level 21 Crew. They had been in an on again, off again turf war for year but it had only recently flared up to the levels they saw today.

Iron took Duravor’s datapad. He saw where all of his and his companions information was on the pad. They also saw a contact person for the Starfinder Society, someone named Chiskisk had asked Doravor to meet with the new Starfinder members. Iron found his contact information on Duravor’s personal comm unit and gave him a call. A male voice answered on the other end apprehensively. Hello. Who is this? Iron told him what had happened and he replied I saw. I am not 100% sure that this line is secure so please come to the Lorespire Complex so we can talk further on this matter.”

They went back to the Complex and were greeted by Guidance. She said that Chiskick was waiting for them on the second floor of the complex in his office. They made their way there and saw a host shirren seated behind polished and unadorned plastic desk. He was wearing understated business clothes and was nervously flexing their antennae from side to side. He seems to be deep in thought.

“I am sorry that I cannot welcome you under better circumstances. I am pleased that none of you were seriously hurt, but I grieve for Duravor’s death. He was a valued member of the Society, and a friend. May the Lady of Graves be kind in her judgment of his soul.” The shirren bows their head momentarily, then looks up, their compound eyes glittering. “What puzzles me is the reason behind the attack.” Chiskisk taps a few commands into their computer. “According to the incident report just released by station security, two gangs were involved in the attack: the Downside Kings and the Level 21 Crew. Gang wars are not uncommon on the station, but they usually confine themselves to the more lawless sectors like the Puddles. It is rare for street gangs to battle openly in public areas like the docks. I cannot help but wonder whether all is as it seems. There must be a reason why those two gangs were at Docking Bay 94 at that time—the exact time of your arrival, coincidentally. But was it coincidence? Were you and Duravor just innocent bystanders caught in the crossfire, or might you and he have been specifically targeted? And if so, why? “My understanding is that you are interested in becoming Starfinders, and since you were witnesses to the attack, I would like to ask you to investigate the incident on behalf of the Society. Find out exactly what happened and why. It may simply be a matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time—I have no doubt station security will rule it so—but if Duravor was murdered, I would like to find justice for my friend. At the same time, this will give you the opportunity to demonstrate your own skills and abilities and show the Society that you are worthy of the title ‘Starfinder.’ Good luck.”

Chiskick gives them his personal comm unit code so they can get in touch with him as needed. He also gives them each 200 credits as a signing bonus plus expenses. He then says if you are in need of a place to stay I recommend the Moons of Sleep a small hotel close by to the parks and towers of the Eye. They have efficiencies and suites available at reasonable prices. They head out to the Moons of Sleep and get a suite for a week for 50 credits. It included breakfast. They had three possible things to research, Duravor, Downside Kings and the Level 21 Crew.

They decided to see what they could find on Duravor first. The found that he was a midranking member of the Starfinder Society. Most of his work focused on mineral prospecting, but he also took an interest in mentoring new and prospective members of the Society. He was a native of the Diaspora, the diffuse asteroid belt between Verces and Eox, and was known to have ties to dwarves and other mining groups in the region. An outspoken champion of miners’ rights, Kreel was active in challenging large corporate interests that exploited individual miners and laborers, including Astral Extractions. He had personally invested money in the Hardscrabble Collective. In addition, one of his cousins was a member of the group, but she died in a mining accident—the result of safety violations perpetrated by her contract employer, Astral Extractions.

Both the Hardscrabble Collective and Astral Extractions sound familiar to E.D. and Iron. The two companies are in disagreement over the ownership of the Drift Rock, a mysterious rock that was towed in by an empty spaceship, the Acreon, to Absalom Station only a few days ago. Rumors are swirling around the ship and the rock. (We will discuss this more in game). They decided to check out the Hardscrabble Collective first.

Using the Infosphere and talking to a few members of the Starfinder Society they found the following:

The Hardscrabble Collective is a clan of stubborn asteroid miners that operates primarily among the scattered planetoids of the Diaspora. It has no offices or base of operations, but the clan members usually view the Armada—the ever-changing fleet of ships that orbit Absalom Station—as a central gathering place. Collective crews hire their ships out to a wide variety of business concerns, including Astral Extractions, which recently employed the Collective ship Acreon to scout for new mining prospects in the Vast. While the Hardscrabble Collective calls itself a clan, it is more of a cooperative business enterprise, a coalition of dozens of ships’ crews who have banded together for mutual benefit and safety. While some of the Collective’s members are related, most of them are individuals from a dozen different races: humans, dwarves, androids, ysoki, and more. Nevertheless, the Hardscrabble Collective is as tightly knit as many families, and members fiercely look after one another’s welfare.

Knowing how to get in touch with the Hardscrabble Collective they gave them a call. A woman answered the call and said that we are currently not hiring but we can take your name and contact information and we will get back with you when there are openings. Iron said no, we are looking for information about the Collective and one of its associates. The woman sighs and says “Pending arbitration and on the advice of our attorneys, we are not responding to any public inquiries.” Iron then says is there anyone else I can talk to about this? She repeats “Pending arbitration and on the advice of our attorneys, we are not responding to any public inquiries.”

E.D. and Iron search for what law firm is representing them. They come up against a firewall similar to what Historia-7 described was protecting the Bluerise Towers. They briefly thought of contact Ceren but they decided to wait. They turned their search to the Level 21 Crew.

The Level 21 Crew are a street gang that claims (unsurprisingly) Level 21 of Absalom Station’s seedy lower decks as its territory. Their known criminal endeavors include theft, fencing stolen goods, gambling, prostitution, racketeering, and smuggling. They may be a criminal gang, but they have a reputation in their territory (and neighboring levels) for promoting community empowerment, and many neighborhood residents tolerate or tacitly endorse their activities. The gang has also been known to hire itself out to defend marginalized and threatened groups or factions. A grizzled ysoki called Jabaxa currently leads the Level 21 Crew. They asked some of the Starfinder Society folks as well as some of the people at the Moons of Sleep and they found out that a bodega located on the 21st deck of the Spike called Mama Fats’ has been known to be a message drop and safe house for the Level 21 Crew members. After doing more research it seems that this rumor is true.

The next morning they head to Mama Fats’.