ACT 3: Mysteries of the Ancients

Session 12: The Sunrise Maiden [Oct 21st, 2021]

Shiiga rushes to Zaeo and stabilizes him before he dies. Drozen floats over and forces Zaeo to drink a healing potion, which helps return the pilot’s intestines into his body. The heroes look at the destroyed garggakal and celebrate their narrow victory over the deadly beast. The Starfinders continue to explore the eastern cavern, looking over the art they found. It appears to have come from numerous civilizations and is likely worth a small fortune.

The Starfinders then approach the large white-metallic starship cramped in the cavern. As they approach, an automated turret activates and targets them. An A.I. greets them and the Starfinders are able to prove their ownership of the new ship. The A.I. introduces itself as the Binary User-Sensitive Translational Emergent Register, or BUSTER. It greets the new owners and introduces them to all the features and comforts of the Sunrise Maiden, a well-modified exploration vessel. The new crew gets comfortable in the ship and sleep for the night in their own rooms and enjoy the comforts of their own bed.

The next morning, the Starfinders gather the artwork, the broken robot, and the garaggakal’s corpse for storage. They then are able to find the hangar doors and get the Sunrise Maiden out of the Drift Rock. They then dock with the Acreon and gather the noqual, the crate containing the elebrian, and other items. With the help of BUSTER, Vashon is able to identify the elebrian’s uniform as belonging to the Corpse Fleet.

The Starfinders then take their positions on the bridge and head towards Absalom Station. Before they leave, Zaeo places a large set of fuzzy pink dice on his captain’s console.

Zaeo: Going Places

The Sunrise Maiden flies towards Absalom Station, but is soon intercepted by another vessel. It is identified as another Eoxian vessel, a larger freighter, a Thaumtech Cairncarver. It imediately blasts them with its weapons. Zaeo takes evasive manuevers as Drozen begins firing off rounds from the particle beam turret. Shiiga is able scan the ship with her mystical sight, and they find themselves against a formidable ship, with a complete crew. Vashon tries to keep the shields active, diverting power wherever he can.

The evasive maneuvers prove to be not enough, as the Cairncarver has an experienced crew. They blast the Sunrise Maiden‘s forward quadrant with particle beams and numerous plasma torpedoes. Many of the Sunrise Maiden’s systems begin to glitch or malfunction. The Starfinders manage to get a few well-placed shots on the Cairncarver as well, and both ships take heavy damage as the fight continues. In the end, both ships nearly destroy each other, but they are disabled at the same time, floating helpless in the void of space.

Soon, another vessel appears and hails the Starfinders. It is a ysoki wrecker ship. As soon as it approaches, the Cairncarver explodes, seemingly having self-destructed upon seeing another vessel approach. Zaeo bargains with the ysoki and they agree to tow them to Absalom Station for 400 credits.

The crew is a bit demoralized after the battle. They nearly lost their new ship and the damages are extensive. Vashon is all over the vessel trying to hold things together until they get to Absalom Station, and Drozen is helping where he can. Shiiga heads to her room and begins to meditate, and she ponders about how her life took this turn and how she came to find herself.

Shiiga: Abandoned

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Session 13: The Drift Rock Explorers [Nov 4th, 2021]

The heroes slowly make their way to Absalom Station via the towing Ysoki freighter. During the hours it takes to return to the station, they have some time to reflect on everything that has happened. Drozen finds himself thinking about his past and how he got to where he is now. He recalls how it was working for his mentor, Draxar, the infamous crime boss of the Diaspora.

Drozen: Once a Slave, Always a Slave

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Sunrise Maiden, Vashon works to restore power and function to the ship’s broken thrusters. While he works, a faint, and old memory resurfaces. He recalls how two scientists worked over him, seemingly doing something to him that gives him his magical powers.

Vashon: The Weapon

As the memory distracts Vashon, BUSTER tries to help the android. Together, they are able to restore power to the thrusters. Zaeo pays off the ysoki scrappers and they are able to approach the station on their own. As they near the station, station traffic control contacts them and soon learns that they are the so-called, Drift Rock Explorers. BUSTER scans the station’s infosphere and quickly pulls up video footage of a live news feed as a giant crowd of fans and supporters eagerly await the arrival of the Starfinders, now known as the Drift Rock Explorers.

Vashon searches the infosphere and finds the videos that were dropped, it seems most the heroes’ exploits upon the Acreon and the Drift Rock were recorded and shared with the entire Pact Worlds. The news comes as quite a shock as the heroes have become suddenly very famous. Only Zaeo seems to be enjoying the attention, as Shiiga wishes to remain in a low profile for her covert mission, Drozen is trying to avoid being killed by the smugglers and thieves who wish him dead, and Vashon is weary about his own safety as he learns who he might have been in a past life.

The footage also depicts no mention of the crate Ambassador Nor was asking for. Additionally, it portrays Vashon in a bad light, as it shows him brutally burning Clara-247 to death. Vashon tries to trace the source of the videos, and finds that the original drop was quickly overwritten by a second drop minutes later, likely containing the modified footage of Clara’s death.

Zaeo exists the ship eagerly into the arms of fans and sycophants. The others sneak out a back exit with the help of station security. Bunny appears and pretends that her and Zaeo are together and in a perfect, happy relationship, seemingly happy to see him returned safely. Zaeo, despite the obviousness of her actions, falls for Bunny’s lies and is eager to reconnect with her.

The heroes manage to return to their hotel and rest for the night after a fine complimentary feast. The next day, they head over to the Lorespire Complex and speak with Chiskisk. The shirran Starfinder is quite excited to talk about the heroes’ findings upon the Drift Rock, especially the ancient technology. However, he informs them that there is now a race to find out about this ancient machine and where it originiated, since everyone can see the footage from the Drift Rock. He shows the heroes that he was able to trace the ancient language as being seen once before. However, the source is a questionable ‘archeologist‘ and explorer named Halqueem Zan. The human entered the forbidden continent of Ukalam on Castrovel and noted several ancient ruins that contained the same language that the heroes found. He wrote his findings in trashy adventure books that lacked any scientific rigor.

Regardless, Chiskisk asks the heroes to head to Qabarat on Castrovel, particularly the Qabarat University of Xenoarchaeology and Xenoanthropology. He pays them a stipend and asks that they find Zan’s original notes from his expedition or even visit the original ancient sites. He asks them to learn anything they can about the ancient language as it may lead to the rest of the Drift Rock’s missing structure. He instructs them to meet with a postdoctoral student named Whaloss.

The heroes then head to Ambassador Gevalarsk Nor’s office, trying to dodge the crowds eager to get autographs. They head to the Ambassador’s office and speak with him. He is quite delighted they were able to recover the crate aboard the Acreon. He has discretely retrieved the cargo from the Sunrise Maiden. He pays them for their work, and apologizes to Shiiga for not finding any reference to the black crystal she seeks. However, he does tell her that images of the crystal once appeared in the notes of Halqueem Zan. Ambassador Nor also discusses that he did indeed release the video footage of their expedition, ensuring to hide any references to the crate he sought. However, he says that he did not alter the footage in any other way. He tells them arbitration between Astral Extractions and the Hardscrabble Collective will likely continue for quite some time, but he thanks them for all their hard work.

The heroes head outside, where large crowd has gathered. Drozen takes the form of a ysoki and tries to distance himself from the others, while Zaeo gleefully signs autographs and chats with his fans. Drozen then notices a shot was fired at him with a sniper weapon. Thankfully, it misses, but perhaps it was only to distract him. Moments later, a young man leaps at Drozen trying to stab him with a syringe of some volatile substance. Drozen manages to defend himself and knock the man out before he is hurt. Station security then hauls the man away and escorts the heroes back to their hotel.

The heroes then speak with the new office of Bruthedar, the famed gold dragonkin reporter. The producers ask the heroes to be on the morning show the following morning. They agree and get some sleep. The next morning, the heroes find themselves on live broadcast throughout the Pact Worlds. During the interview, Bruthedar asks a few softball questions, however, Drozen steps up to the camera and threatens the criminal organization that likely tried to assassinate him. Only Zaeo seems to be enjoying the interview. Bruthedar then asks Vashon about the killing of Clara-247, and Vashon has a chance to claim that the footage is false, however, his fame as a ‘badass’ seems to override the public’s opinion.

After the interview, while the famed Shirren singer, Sting, performs, Drozen stages a distraction and Zaeo helps. Shiiga and Vashon sneak into the control room and are able to hack into the news station’s computers. They learn that the news station only had the doctored video files, and likely unaware that this was not the original footage. Satisfied, Vashon grabs the others and they leave. On the way out, Bunny meets with Zaeo and they go for a walk. After it becomes clear that Zaeo’s fame is already fading, Bunny breaks up with him and tells him that she was using him to get sponsors for the Grand Prix race. Before she leaves, she tells him to meet with Grogbar Thickfingers.

After avoiding some tabloid photographers, who are highlighting his break-up, Zaeo meets with Grogbar. The old dwarf tries to convince Zaeo to join the Grand Prix, but to fix the race again. Zaeo lies and says he’ll do it in order to get his old ship back. Zaeo then finds the Blinding Zephyr, and docks the ship in another hold on the station for safe keeping. That night, Shiiga and Vashon head out to the clubs for another night of fun before leaving for Castrovel.

The heroes then regroup the next morning and take off into the Drift. It takes them four days before they reach the blue and green orb that is Castrovel. They dock at Qabarat station and after a thorough line of questioning and searching of their vessel, receive papers to enter the city. They then meet the postdoctoral student, Whaloss, who is quite eager to meet real Starfinders.

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Session 14: University Kidnapping [Nov 18th, 2021]

The heroes speak with Whaloss as they walk from the starport in Qabarat. During the walk, Zaeo recalls the last time he stepped foot on his home planet and the fallout between himself and his father.

Zaeo: Forefathers’ Path

Whaloss brings the heroes to the Qabarat University of Xenoarchaeology and Xenoanthropology. However, when they arrive in the reception hall, they find the receptionist, a male lashunta named Ikimsi overwhelmed by reporters. Whaloss is able to learn that one of the professors, Aliabiens 21:2 gave a inflammatory lecture the previous night, the press wants to speak with him and the dean. It seems the Starfinders will not be able to get passed them as the receptionist doesn’t want any of the press sneaking up with them.

Zaeo moves in and uses his fame as a Drift Rock Explorer to get the press to cooperate, he has them all write their questions down on paper and leave them for the receptionist and the University’s publicist. This clears the crowd as some reporters leave and others begin to wright down their queries. Ikimsi thanks the Starfinders for their help and manages to book a meeting with Professor Muhali for them.

Whaloss takes them up to Professor Muhali, the head of the linguistic anthropology department. However, when they find her in the office, it seems she is overwhelmed by the public fallout of Professor Ailabiens 21:2’s comments. Zaeo offers to help and she asks them to convince Ailabiens 21:2 to give a public apology. The heroes head over to the professor’s office, and find a floating contemplative.

He is quite rude and overly logical, and quickly points out the heroes’ psychological flaws as if he is doing them a favor. They learn he suggested that during his lecture last night, he said that the lashunta armies could have wiped out the formians had they not been so empathetic with their enemy. With a peace treaty between the two species being only 30 years old, it was quite a sore subject. However, the heroes are able to convince him to make the public apology if they can convince Professor Muhali to remove this incident from his tenure record. In return, the contemplative offers to annotate Halkueem Zan’s notes on his travels in Ukulam.

The heroes speak with Muhali and make the deal. For helping her, Professor Muhali offers to introduce them to Dr. Olmehya Solstarni, an archaeologist specializing in archeoastronomic validation, the study of how ancient cultures viewed the cosmos and expressed it in their architecture, artifacts, and writings. However, she is puzzled, because it seems Dr. Solstani left on leave 2 days ago, even though she had a trip for Ukulam scheduled in 2 months.

When the heroes and Muhali arrive at her office, they find evidence of a struggle and a half-packed bag. Muhali rushes to call the police as the heroes investigate. Vashon is able to hack her computer and learns that she was communicating with a man named Eyrub Paqual who wanted to talk to her about some artifacts at a local café, called the Five Arches. However, she seems to have refused. Additionally, Vashon learns that Eyrub is likely a fake identity. Vashon finds that Muhali signed approval of Solstarni’s leave two days ago. But further investigation reveals it to be forged.

Meanwhile, Drozen, Shiiga, and Zaeo find evidence of a struggle in the office like she was kidnapped. She seemed to have printed out the offer by Eyrub to meet him at the Five Arches. Additionally, they find numerous print-outs of Halkueem Zan’s original notes, annotated by Dr. Solstarni as if she was trying to retrace his steps. After campus police arrive, they are able to view the camera footage and find that it had been tampered with, showing three lashunta wearing Qabarat Gateway Port Authority uniforms enter the building but never seeming to leave.

The Qabarat police Detective Zerran is quite eager to catch these guys. He asks the heroes to head to the Five Arches and Zaeo agrees to wear a wire. When they arrive, they find a crude café where the android proprietor makes cuisine that clearly demonstrates her complete lack of taste. Zaeo learns from the android owner, Uilee, that a man had been hanging out at the café with a laptop and could have been Eyrub Paqual. Shiiga and Vashon dance at the jukebox, which bring two men over to chat with them. Zaeo then chats with a shady looking lashunta man named Twonas in the corner and is able to bluff the man to pretend he knew Paqual. It seems the criminal sold Paqual doctored travel visas to Ukulam. Zaeo makes a deal for passes for himself and the others, and Twonas asks to meet them in the alley outside in an hour.

The cops want to catch Twonas En and asks the heroes to hold tight before they can come in. However, when the heroes meet with Twonas, the criminal draws a weapon, saying he recognized them as Starfinders. A quick battle takes place and the heroes take out the criminal gang and knock out Twonas En. The cops arrive and arrest them and the heroes go with them to ask more questions of Twonas about Paqual. They learn that Eyrub Paqual had fifteen people with him, three with approved academic visas to visit Ukulam. They brought a lot of firearms, heavy gear, and a large comm system for interplanetary communication. They also had to secure special forms for transporting fungal spores.

The heroes ponder on the new information and rest for the night. The next day they speak with Ailabiens 21:2 who provides them with extensively annotated versions of Halkueem Zan’s notes that shoudl help them retrace the explorer’s steps, especially combined with Dr. Solstani’s notes. Professor Muhali speaks with them and offers to connect them with Dr. Khair al-Nuaf who can help them get the equipment they may need for an expedition across Ukulam. She also queries about an Elven translator for when they find the ancient ruins. Zaeo suggests Whaloss, and the post-doc somewhat reluctantly agrees to accompany them on the expedition.

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