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.
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.
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.
Session 15: The Wild Jungles of Ukulam [Dec 2nd, 2021]
The heroes decide to check out the Qabarat Port Authority to see what they know about the group that kidnapped Dr. Solstarni and passed through the aiudara to Ukulam. They confirm that the group contained 15 people, a kasatha (likely Dr. Solstarni), a shirren, two humans and 11 lashuntas (one of which must have been the fake Eyrub Paqual). It seems their gear was not adequately searched or the records have been altered.
The heroes chat again with Professor Muhali and find their visas are approved and they are set to go to Ukulam that evening through the aiudara. The heroes make some last minute purchases and head back to the Gate Port Authority and join up with Whaloss. They go through the stringent customs and searching of their gear before enter the magical gate and whisking away in an instant to the other side of Castrovel.
On the other side, at the Turhalu Point outpost, they are greeted by Dr. Khair al-Nuaf, who helps coordinate with the Starfinders, showing them maps of the region and preparing them for the journey with last-minute supplies. Whaloss brings a datapad as well that contains all the notes of Alabiens 21:2 and Dr. Solstani concerning Halqueem Zan’s original expedition. Between the notes and the maps, the heroes have a good idea about where to go. Dr. al-Nuaf tells them that the other group is only a day and a half ahead of them.
The heroes set out immediately as the noon-day sun burns overhead in the muggy heat. The heroes are driven out 10 miles from the Turhalu Point outpost before they must travel on foot. They set out into the wild fields of tall grasses, many of which rise over 8 feet tall, shimmering with pale green and hints of violet at their tips.
Shiiga begins to reflect on predator-prey relationships, so open and bare in this wild expanse. It reminds her of her youth and her early teachings of her mind-breaker training.
Shiiga: The Soulbreaker
The heroes travel for a full day, enjoying the environmental protections of their suits and the extra protection of their purchased thermal regulators. They camp for the night and gain some relief from the hot sun. The next day they set out again, but find themselves lost in the wild tangle of tall grasses, finding it hard to see which way to proceed towards the jungles. The eventually find their way again, but soon find themselves near a large herd of yaruks, huge six-legged herbivores with long necks.
The heroes try their best to avoid them, keeping their distance and trying not to anger them. Once the heroes are nearly past the herd, a loud bang rings out through the field. Drozen and Shiiga see a muzzle blast in the distance trees deeper in the jungles ahead. Someone shot a sniper rifle at one of the yaruks. It goes mad and the whole herd goes into a mad rush towards the heroes to protect their young.
The heroes begin running for their lives with Whaloss alongside them in a frantic rush. Shiiga tries to lead the way through the tangle of trees as the heroes reach the jungle’s edge, Drozen tries to pulls yaruks after him through betwen trees and other tight places, Zaeo tries to distract them away from his friends, and Vashon does his best to stay out of their way. The heroes eventually get ahead of the herd and find themselves standing before a large 40-ft deep crevasse where a small river runs through the land. They see an ancient Elven bridge spanning the gap and they rush across it, just as a yaruk gains on their tails. The heroes make it across the bridge, but it cannot hold the yaruk’s weight. The bridge collapses and the yaruk plummets into the river, howling in pain. The other yaruks stamp their feet and huff towards the heroes, but eventually turn around and return to the grasslands beyond the jungle’s edge.
The heroes catch their breath and look about them, now within the darkened expanse of the jungle canopy. They see a large monument in the distance, it seems like a monolith or obelisk of some kind. Whaloss realizes it must be the Rune Obelisk mentioned in Zan’s notes.
The heroes approach the obelisk cautiously, realizing it must have been part of a larger structure and Zan simply misidentified it as an obelisk. The heroes then find numerous fruits upon the ground, ralyrian figs, an edible fruit. The heroes then find a troop of small monkey-like creatures that Zan referred to as ‘stingbats’ in his notes, but Zaeo recognizes as kaukarikis, named for their call, “kau-kar-eeee-keee”.
Zaeo tries to feed one of them and they all get a little closer. Whaloss then shouts as a few of the kaukarikis have taken his datapad and his laser pistol. The heroes watch the creatures place the items into a hollow in a nearby tree. Drozen climbs into the tree to retrive the items, but as he does so the kaukarikis seem to get upset. Four of the largest of them then attack the heroes leaping down from the branches and striking at them with their poisonous stingers on their tails.
Drozen scrambles out of the tree and everyone pulls together trying to defend themselves. Shiiga, Zaeo, and Drozen are each stung and the poison begins to run through their arteries. Vashon keeps his distance and blasts them with spells. The others fire weapons and strike back, but the creatures now surround them…
Session 16: The Jungle Bites Back [Dec 16th, 2021]
The heroes continue firing at the outraged kaukarikis, blasting them with their pistols. Shiiga throws the heads of their fallen kin back at them with her mental strikes. Eventually, the four larger kaukarikis that attacked them are slain. This causes all the remaining creatures up in the canopy to pull up to higher branches but they still scream at he heroes and occasionally throw figs at them.
Drozen returns to the tree and is able to retrieve Whaloss laser pistol as well as the datapad, he also finds a few healing serums, likely stolen recently from the other expedition. The heroes take a moment to gather their strength, before moving closer to the obelisk. Drozen and Vashon search around the ruined structures as Whaloss moves into read the ancient Elven writing. However, a great plant-like beast, called a vracinea, comes to life and enchants Zaeo and Whaloss with its hypnotic flowers and paralyzing scent. The beast has numerous fly-trap-like heads snapping with bony teeth.
The heroes try to pull back, but one by one, they are overcome by the scent of the flowers. The creature pounces on them, taking ferocious bites that tear into their armors and flesh. Vashon blasts the beast repeatedly with magical flames as Drozen gets a few shots off. Zaeo fires at it desperately, trying to coordinate the teams attacks as Shiiga finds her psychic-spells of little use on the mindless plant-creature. The heroes take many wounds, but the beast is eventually felled.
After another rest, the heroes continue their explorations. Drozen and Vashon learn that the obelisk is really a support pillar for a larger observational deck. Whaloss then finishes translating the ancient Elven, it reads: “Loskialua, monastery of starsong, embassy of the spheres, and Temple of the Twelve”.
The heroes continue their journeys. They get lost the next day, but manage to recover on the fourth day of their travel. Additionally, many of them begin to recover from effects of the kaukariki poison. However, during the fourth day, Shiiga thinks she sees a creature in the distance. But it disappears. The heroes continue on, resting for the night again.
On the fifth day, the heroes lose their way a bit again, but get back on track that afternoon. Earlier in the day, Zaeo is hit by a large thorny dart. Shiiga points out the direction it came from and Drozen runs after it, but is unable to find the source. Shiiga and Vashon determine that the dart is filled with plant spores for reproduction. Thankfully, Zaeo was not infected. That evening, the heroes are accosted by the creature again. Another dart slams into Drozen, who is infected this time. Shiiga get a good look at the beast and the strange plant creature charges forward to attack.
The heroes move into defensive positions, firing at the beast. It sends another thorn into Zaeo, who is also infected by the spores. It then quickly closes the distance and its tentacles lash out at Vashon. The color of the creature then strangely takes on some of Vashon’s colorations, turning somewhat blue. Vashon is nearly killed by the attack, but manages to scramble away. Drozen draws his plasma kukri and charges the creature, summon his holographic images to blur his location. Vashon supercharges his weapon, but fails to make contact with the overloaded projectile.
Session 17: An Unlikely Ally [Dec 30th, 2021]
The heroes continue to fight the ksarik as it attempts to thrash them with its many tentacles. The heroes maintain their composure and take the beast down quickly.
They gather their breath and attempt to continue onward. However, after a few minutes, they come across a lashunta woman calling out to the jungle, “Devourer take me now!” The heroes approach the woman, who is bloated and seemingly near death. There are strange undulations under her skin and at one point ksarik maggots burst forth from her face and climb down to the jungle floor. The heroes see the same ksarik thorny dart in the woman’s leg, giving a hint at the fate that awaits Zaeo and Drozen. She introduces herself as Ralkawi and begs for a quick death.
However, the Starfinders stop and set up camp near the fallen Devourer cultist. Shiiga reluctantly treats the woman’s infection alongside her companions. Ralkawi then relates what she knows about the group that kidnapped Dr. Solstarni. They are led by a lashunta named Tahomen who leads the Devourer cult sect on Castrovel. Tahomen arranged the expedition and kidnapped Dr. Solstarni once he understood the language link between the Elven ruins and the footage of the broken Drift Rock. He believes that a great weapon might be found in the Elven ruins, one that could wipe out all life in the galaxy as per the Devourer’s wishes.
The next day, the heroes find their travel stymied by an impending moldstorm as pink clouds of fungal spores descend upon the land like pink snow. The kaukariki’s climb into flower petals above to shield themselves. Shiiga expertly creates an air-tight shelter and everyone climbs inside to ride out the storm. The Starfinders learn more about Ralkawi, how her debts in Qabarat left her alone and wanting death before she found the Devourer cult, which seemed to line up with her nihilistic views. However, now that Tahomen and the others left her for dead, she has misgivings about the cult and her place within it. She promises to help the Starfinders catch Tahomen to extract some revenge on him.
Later that day the heroes continue onwards after the moldstorm subsides, enjoying the enchanted landscape covered in pink dust. However, the heroes are soon accosted by a beast, a whiskered renkroda, who’s mind had been infected by the mold spores.
The Starfinders span out and hide behind trees and bushes, forcing the renkroda to choose a new target frequently. Drozen continues to fire his sniper rifle as Zaeo and Whaloss fire their laser pistols. Shiiga tries to slam it with telekinetic objects and Vashon blasts it with fire and shards of metal. Eventually the beast falls and the Starfinders are victorious.
That night, the heroes reflect on their experiences and realize they have come a long way since joining the Starfinder Society. The next day, the heroes continue their journey. Thanks to Shiiga’s medical aid, both Zaeo and Drozen have beaten the infection and Ralkawi is well on the way to recovery.
The heroes then find the ruins of Loskialua, a massive stone plaza that once was the center of an Elven village. Laying aloft on the plaza is a massive statue of an elf peering up to the stars.
As the heroes move towards the massive monument, two things happen. First, a blast is heard as a gunshot grazes Drozen from some unseen sniper. Second, a great beast with many tentacles come flies down from the ruins seeking out prey. The heroes realize they are in another dire situation.