Caught in the Crossfire

Caught in the Crossfire

May 10 Craig  

After receiving a vid-message from Duravor Kreel telling them that their applications to join the Starfinder Society were successful our would-be heroes eagerly awaited the arrival of the shuttle ship, Okimoro which would ferry them to Absalom Station for enrolment. The journey to the station was uneventful with each of the potential candidates scanning the other passengers to determine who else on board was answering Duravor’s call.

Feiyue, the Vesk soldier. Shodorah, the Lashunta Technomancer, Eniac the Android Operative and Boock, the Ysoki mechanic. Names and faces that neither knew yet but soon would, as the unlikely quarter were soon to be swept up in intergalactic power struggles and gang warfare where they’d need to learn to rely on one another to survive.

Before docking at Absalom station the Okimoro’s pilot was quick to point out the large collection of ships just outside the docking bays. The so-called ‘Absalom Armada’ – a vast collection of merchant ships and trade rigs where many savy traders would offload their goods without going through the ordeal of docking, unloading, and reloading at the station proper. Whilst still under Absalom jurisdiction and governed by the same laws the Armada was convenience many merchants used often. On the opposite side of the Okimoro and further out in space was a small vessel surrounded by Absalom security craft. The Acreon. A prospecting ship that recently returned from deep space trailing a large and mysterious asteroid but missing an entire crew.

As the Okimoro came in to Docking Bay 94 the required safety measures were carried out before everyone was permitted to disembark. The brightly lit docks of Absalom Station were abuzz with activity as travelers bustled by, preparing to board or disembark from starships bound for dozens of worlds. Brash and swaggering starpilots, scurrying Ysoki mechanics and expectant colonists mingled 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 met friends, loved ones, or business contacts – quickly whisked away into the humming activity of daily life on the vast space station. Just beyond the newcomers ground crews tended to docked ships and dockworkers in mechanised cargo lifters loaded and unloaded freight and baggage from across the Pact Worlds. A sharp tang of ozone hung in the air – a byproduct of electrical discharge from the docked ships – but underneath, the station’s atmosphere had a slightly used aroma. The docking bay’s deck plates thrummed beneath their feet, though whether from the passage of innumerable people or the vibrations from the station’s power conduits and air recycling systems was impossible to say.

Looking across the swathe of life the newcomers were quick to find a Duravor from his vid-message. A Dwarf with a shaved head, grizzled face and long bristly beard. He waved at them whilst looking to and from a datapad containing their profiles. As he made the approach toward his new recruits it was Eniac’s advanced android senses that detected strange behaviour from two groups in the north-east and north-west of the docking bay. It looked as if they were taking up strategic defensive positions amongst the scenery but before Eniac could digest this information the groups opened gunfire at one another causing a mass of panic and screams as onlookers scrambled to safety.

The chaos made it hard to tell who was shooting at who but one thing was clear. Duravor had been hit and had fallen to the cold steel-plated flooring before even having the opportunity to introduce himself. The new recruits opened fire and began attacking at both groups before Shodorah called out telepathically to a Lashunta gunman who told her that the group on the north-east were called the Kings and they’d come here to take out Duravor. With firm enemies confirmed the group of newcomers turned all of their attention the group who bore a symbol of an upturned crown – dispatching of them with the help of their new found allies. Only a few moments had passed when the Station Stewards arrived, sirens blaring. The group identified as the Kings were down and the other group fled before the Steward got any closer.

After a few veiled threats from the steward in charge, Griff McCree, statements were taken both from the newcomers and from the witnesses that remained on the dock which all confirmed one anothers’ stories. Fetching the datapad from Duravor, Boock discovered the address of the Starfinder Society headquarters and the group decided to make their way there to relay the bad news.

The Lorespire was an impossibly tall building trimmed with gold metal and alight with blue holograms depicting the Starfinder Society emblem. Inside they were greeted by a teary eyed receptionist who had already heard the news of Duravor’s death thanks to the overly efficient news reports that took over every vid-screen and billboard before his body was even cold. After explaining the situation the group were greeted by a young functionary who led them upto the 37th floor – the view from the glass fronted elevator treating them to the picturesque garden district of the station, carefully cultivated under Absalom’s artificial day/night and weather cycles.

Lead down a long, carpeted corridor the group were shown to a frosted glass door that had the names “Chiskisk & Kreel” etched into it – a hover drone had already begun lasering off the “& Kreel” portion of the brand adding a cold finality to the earlier proceedings.

Inside the room a figure stood silhouetted against a large window shaded by long, horizontal blinds – the only light coming from a large series of neon blue and pink billboards on the building opposite, cutting lines of colour through the otherwise smoky office. A ceiling fan span idly above as the spark of some form of smoking device bathed the figure in a brief orange glow, revealing them to be one of the bug-like Shirren. With his back still to the group he spoke to them by way of telepathy.

Duravor was a good man. I worked with him for a long time, I regret never getting to know him better. As a partner, I couldn’t have asked for better. Please. Come in. Have a seat.

The Shirren spoke with the gruff, urban twang of someone who had spent far too long on Absalom station. He too sat and offered his apologies and condolences before introducing himself as Chiskisk. After a brief history lesson he explained that Durvaor usually had a process for new recruits where they’d be sent to prove themselves on a series of missions, having no such knowledge of these missions himself Chiskisk gave the newcomers one quest. Find out what happened to Duravor. Why he was targeted. Why he was killed and what his involvement with the gangs was. If they could dig up some answers they would become full fledged members of the society.

After some digging on his terminal, the group discovered Kreel’s home address and had figured out the names of the two gangs involved in the shoot-out – The Downside Kings and the Level 21 Crew. They also discovered that Kreel was a big union man, involved heavily in a mining union called the Hardscrabble Collective. How this tied to the gangs was a mystery the group would soon have to unravel.

The first port of call for the group was the Two Moons Inn where they arranged boarding for the night before heading to the hotel bar to talk with some of the locals. After a brief scuffle between a young woman named Mia and a couple of men in suits the group discovered that the Hardscrabble Collective were currently embroiled in a bureaucratic battle against a large mining conglomerate known as Astral Extractions. The boardroom war seemed to be over the ownership of the deserted mining freighter outside of the station. The crew that found the asteroid were members of the Hardscrabble Collective and thus they believed the asteroid (and whatever it contained) belonged to them. Astral Extractions’ belief was that the asteroid was found whilst the crew were under contract to them, so the asteroid was their property. Nobody had come to a solution and thus the two groups were at loggerheads.

Getting some rest for the night the group set out the following day to find Duravor’s apartment down on level ten of the spike. The apartment was located in a nicer part of the neighbourhood and the group ran into no issues gaining access not only to the block but to his actual apartment – large thanks to Shodorah finding his spare keycard back in his office. Feiyue kept guard at the door whilst the others explored the apartment proper.

The apartment was a mess with beer bottles and take-out food containers littered everywhere. An unmade bed sat opposite a large vid screen that was frozen on a video sent from a female dwarf. Once they played the video the group discovered the female was Duravor’s niece, she was sending him a video message excited to be on her first mining mission. Behind her a ship emblazoned with ‘Astral Extractions’ sat idly whilst over dwarves unloaded it’s contents. Strewn across a coffee table were numerous cut outs and documents detailing a failed mining operation fifteen years ago thanks to shoddy safety protocols from Astral Extractions. Using Duravor’s computer it wasn’t before too long that the group discovered that Duravor’s niece was one of the casualties of the aforementioned operation and that Duravor had held a grudge against Astral Extractions ever since. Further exploration of the apartment lead the group to find a strange receipt in one of the take-out boxed leading them to level 21 – a link to the Level 21 Crew perhaps?

Exhausting all of their other leads, the group made their way down to Level 21 and soon found the take-out Duravor seemed to order so much food from. Mama Fats. A large noodle bar in the center of a busy crossroads run by the enigmatic Mama Fat herself, a portly halfling woman with a thick, exotic accent. After making some casual chit-chat the group pondered over the meaning of the receipt and ordered the suspiciously named “Special 21” which lead Mama Fat to eye the curiously before disappearing into a back room and finally inviting them inside. Unsure what they were getting in to the group entered nervously and made their way down a dark set of stairs to a cool, windowless basement where a Ysoki sat around a table playing cards with a group of humans.

He introduced himself as Jabaxa, leader of the Level 21 Crew and his henchmen immediately drew the weapons and trained them on the group. After some diplomatic bartering back and forth the group learned that members of the Hardscrabble Collective had come under attack by the Downside Kings – a violent street gang in the employ of Astral Extractions, used to put pressure on the miners union to get them to hand over rights to the asteroid and the Acreon. In retaliation, the Hardscrabble Collective had sought out the Level 21 Crew for protection thus bringing the gangs into the political war. Loathe to help them further, Jabaxa gave the group the whereabouts of the Downside Kings’ headquarters – a nightclub named the Fusion Queen and the name of their current leader, Ferani Nadaz. Thanking him for his hospitality the group set out for the nightclub, sure that they were going to have to employ more violent means before this came to an end.

Scouting the club, they came up with a plan for Shodorah to infiltrate it unarmed and create a distraction once inside to lure the doormen away so the others could rush in with their weapons intact. The plan played out with pinpoint accuracy and the group soon found themselves amongst the thumping electro music of the Fusion Queen and it’s drug and drink fueled patrons. Scouting a door marked ‘Staff Only’ the group made their way inside under the guise of exotic dancers but unlike their previous plan this quickly fell apart and the group found themselves once again embroiled in a gunfight.

The first of the three guards were easily dispatched but the back office where Ferani made her devious plots was harder for them to infiltrate as the giant Vesk bodyguard, Hatchbuster, threw countless grenades and used his Assault Hammer with deadly accurate precision. Thinking all was lost the group made a quick recover and were able to turn the tides of this close battle. Though worse for wear the group made it out alive and with the evidence found on Ferani’s datapad they had all they needed to prove that the Astral Extractions had used the gang to put hits out on numerous high ranking members of the Hardscrabble Collective – Duravor included.

All that was left was for the station newcomers to report their findings to Chiskisk and accept their positions amongst the Society.

About Craig

Dungeon Master / Jedi / Nerd

One comment

  • Shodorah
    May 10, 2018 @ 19:29 pm

    Awesome account of the nights events. Shame my azimuth laser pistol fell out of suit as I was attempting my exotic dancing 😂😂😂

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