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ASN24: Absalom Station Newsfeed 24 - 5th DAY OF ERASTUS 317 AG
ASN24: Absalom Station Newsfeed 24

5th DAY OF ERASTUS 317 AG

Since entering Absalom Station space 72 hours ago there has been station-wide speculation on the fate of the crew of the prospecting ship Acreon, and the mysterious nature of the socalled drift rock asteroid it was hauling. Here is what you, the loyal readers of ASN24 have been telling us in your comms-uploads:

• Reckon the crew found something out they were not supposed to. SOMETHING Secret like. BIG corps took them all out: Tainted air, poisoned food or operative wetworks… who knows how they did it? I’m telling you That ship out there is just a mass grave now. No one but pharasma’s faithful should be boarding it.
– @kolo_BAD_Kismet

• No idear wut happin to da crew. All I do no is dat drif rock is phat wit minrals an ore. Val-u-ble dont come close! Man could retire on credit like dat. Moth’r rat’s teeth! If I hadn’t lost most o’ my site on Akiton I’d be hiring a shuttle n tappin’ dat rock mahself.
- @jeb_jakk’orastro-miner


• The drift rock is just a shell. It is that which resides inside we need to unearth. At the heart lies the ancient anvil of torag and his might will reign anew in the coming age.
-@torag4ever

• Was in my shuttle-cab finishing up a 48 hour shift taking a high-profile client to king curney’s Kasbah for a little hush-hush R&R when the Acreon arrived. First thing I clocked: her airlocks were open! Then the Bodies started drifting out her like debris from a garbage chute! Got me the helL out of there! My client refused to back me up on account of their status – but they saw it all too. Security blamed all the kaffinestims I’d took, but frak it I know what I saw!
– @tel’teccYirr


• Heard tell that the Acreon was actually testing military spec tech – teleporters and the like. Heard tell the Experiment went bad and now they are all lost in the drift somewhere.
– @burg

• I just got here but if it were a level in freebooters it looks like a life-gobbler. Power-ups aplenty needed, but worth every bit-cred. Oh The crew? Game over I’d say.
– @aiko mack


• i hear them voices in the void they call for justice
- @galaxa_tuuvall

ASN24: YOUR STATION. YOUR NEWS.
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ASN24: Absalom Station Newsfeed 24 - 4th DAY OF ERASTUS 317 AG
ASN24: Absalom Station Newsfeed 24
4th DAY OF ERASTUS 317 AG

• Quarantined derelict ship - the Acreon claimed by both Astral Extractions & Hardscrabble Collective. Ship’s missing crew still unaccounted for.

• Station security report largest ever haul of trans-dimensional pesh [street value of over 28M cr] recovered in Downside bust.

• Stewards bastion building latest to be targeted by uerrilla las-graffiti artiste Databanksy.

• Starfinder society confirm ongoing recruitment drive in wake of Scoured Stars incident, which saw 80% of personnel numbers lost.

• Life innovations corporation’s holo-gaming division announce new Pact World-wide talent search for their elite pro team: l.i.c.h.

• Synth-pop collective bubble-DIRGE17 select Hamisfore Theatorium as venue for maiden date on pact-world tour. Absalom’s own Gleep Wurp & the Eyebiters to support.

• Salvage union agrees to terms with Syndicsguild management after 15-day strike. Daily Botscrap collections have now renewed station wide.

ASN24: YOUR STATION. YOUR NEWS.
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Session 1 - Flashbacks
ALEXA

We zoom in on those glowing blue eyes and the scene shifts. We’re inside a room, the walls made of some thin material and the floor is dirt. A human walks into the tent through a flap on one side, a nasty expression on his face. He dressed for the jungle, and his boots are thick with dirt and grime.

He tosses a handheld device onto the table—a biometric scanner with a slurry of information on its screen. The android looks up from her work and picks it up quickly, ignoring the man but enthralled with the device. She taps the screen quickly and then groans, a sick expression coming over her metallic features.

She drops the scanner on the table and turns to back to her work, heedless of the man who’s now staring bullets toward her. We see now that she’s working at a terminal, thick organic wiring connecting it to a pod with a clean white base and a clear hood, smeared with some viscous substance. Inside the pod there is a creature with vibrant blue fins that flutter languidly in an unknown gesture, a hard shell with orange and black streaks running down its length. The android inspects the creature with a forlorn expression. As we watch, the creature twitches and the terminal signals out an alarm. The android quickly shuts it off, glaring at the screen. Ten seconds pass, then ten more. The man—who’s stood in silence—abruptly walks out of the room with a grunt; a moment later, the android smashes its fist through the screen of the terminal and the scene goes black.

Patch

We zoom in on his brown, rodent eye and the scene shifts again. We’re in a dirty room with concrete walls, mud on the floor, rags piled in the corner and a single, flickering lightbulb hanging crookedly from the ceiling. We see our Ysoki—looking only slightly younger—facing a Vesk of immense proportions. The Ysoki is puffing out his chest a bit, feigning confidence. “I’m not sure what we’re doing here,” he says to the Vesk, who just stares at him, his reptilian eyes glimmering in the dim light. Moments pass as the two stand in uncomfortable silence. “Is he even coming?” the Ysoki prods, trying to keep the nervousness out of his voice.

“He’ll be here,” the Vesk grumbles, typing something into a mobile terminal on his wrist. A few uneasy minutes later, the two turn toward the sound of approaching feet. A handsome Lashunta male walks casually into the dim room, his sparklingly clean dress a stark contrast to the filth all around.

Patch, old buddy! Thanks for meeting me on such short notice.” He says this with a genuine smile, but he’s looking at the sleeve of his coat, brushing away unseen dirt.

“What’s this about?” asks Patch hurriedly, failing to sound calm. The Vesk steps back a few paces and scans the surroundings with his eyes as he pulls a device from a pocket on his chest. The device beeps and bloops as he turns it toward the room. At the question, the Lashunta stops fidgeting with his clothing and settles his steely green eyes on the Ysoki. “The gig is up, my friend. They’re on to you, and who knows what else they know.”

Patch’s eyes widen and he takes a step back reflexively, bumping into a concrete pillar. “What do you mean? How? No, no, I was too careful. We were too careful. They can’t know.”

The Lashunta is shaking his head at this. “They know. I don’t know how they know, but they know.” A few moments of silence pass between them, only the beeps from the Vesk’s handheld and the faint hiss of steam through pipes fills the air.

“What am I going to do?”

“You have two options, as I see it.” The Lashunta pulls a note from his pocket and passes it down to Patch. “Here’s my contact. He can get you off of this rock. Once you’re safe, you can either turn yourself in and serve your time, or you can run for the rest of your life. Either way, keep me out of it.”

Patch looks down at the note in silence and nods slowly, resigned. The Lashunta speaks quietly now, almost a whisper. “If you get caught here, they’ll kill you. Out here in the Diaspora, they don’t call for the authorities.”

At that, the Vesk’s handheld chirps a new tone and he steps forward, putting a hand on the Lashunta’s shoulder. “We have to go” he says, and the scene goes black.

Eugene

We zoom in on his eyes and the scene shifts to the small cockpit of a well-equipped cargo transport. Buttons, switches and screens litter the surroundings, and a large, curved view screen stands in place of a window. Displayed there, along with statistics for the ship, is a vast sea of stars. In the bottom right of the screen blinks the phrase “Maximum Zoom.” In the center of the display we see a green X with a square around it and a label: “Unknown Source.”

“What am I doing here?” mumbles the pilot, to no one in particular. We see the name “Eugene Mason” plastered on his flight suit, and the unmarred face of a young man. Time passes and the distance marker on the unknown source counts down the kilometers. Silence fills the cockpit, though a popular Vesk metal band is queued up on the cockpit audio system, the title “Pact This, Mother Fucker” next to a pause symbol. Suddenly, alarms sound on the screen to Eugene’s left and he jumps in surprise, looking over to see the problem. “Oh shit…” he whispers a moment later, his face paling as he deftly types commands into the guidance system. The cargo transport whips around and Eugene is thrown sideways against his harness as the ship accelerates in a wide arc. On the screen, three red markers trace from the green X, still labeled “Unknown Source.” Eugene is thrown back against his flight seat as the cargo ship completes its arc and burns away from the red markers. Two more markers appear on the screen as Eugene types frantically on the console.

“If anyone can hear this, may day, may day, I’m being attacked by unknown aggressors. This is cargo transport Abstraction Gamma in sector 193. I repeat, mayday, mayday, I’m—“

Eugene cuts off suddenly as the red markers near and he realizes it’s too late for any help; a claxon blares throughout the small cockpit, numbing in its intensity. He freezes for a moment, uncertain of what to do, knowing that there’s nothing he can do. Then, slowly, he types in a command as we zoom out of the cockpit. We see the cargo transport for the first time, a grayish metallic ship with a red logo stenciled on the port side reading “Astral Extractions” and “Abstraction Gamma” in smaller blue letters just below. Suddenly, the back 80% of the ship dislodges from the command module as it ejects its cargo. A moment later, three missiles strike this ejected mass and the view fills with a blinding white light. As the light fades we see the face of an older, scarred Eugene and we’re back in the transport shuttle.

Squill

We focus in on his rodent eyes, a few gray hairs sprouting up here and there, and the scene shifts to a dusty room. The walls are made of a red clay, long worn by the passage of time. A few ornamental carvings can be made out in pieces, geometric shapes punctuated by complex symbols of a long-forgotten language. The images fade in and out where the surface is worn and crumbling. The ground appears to be more clay, but a set of small footprints leads from the only door in the room, brushing away the dusty clay to reveal a dark granite floor.

In the center of the room we see a young Ysoki, hunched over an arcane machine with rotting treads, articulating arms riddled with rust, and an otherwise pristine central section that might operate as the core of the device. Wires protrude from the central section and connect to a modern-looking console sitting on the floor. The Ysoki makes a connection to the hulking machinery, then hops down and crouches in front of the console, tapping away on the screen. Suddenly, sparks pop from the machine and it twitches to life for a moment, rising up a few centimeters before settling back down with a mechanical groan and a low pitch whine.

The Ysoki sits down on his rump and sighs, a contemplative expression on his face. A few moments pass in silence, only the sound of a distant wind blasting the surface of the structure outside. The Ysoki begins to tap away on the console again, and is about to move back to the machine when his ears prick up to a noise, something close, alarm sounding in his mind.

He has only a moment to notice his obvious footprints in the clay before a stream of red ichor shoots from the darkness of the doorway in a stream, blinding the young xenoarcheologist for a moment. He yells in surprise and smells the coppery scent of blood; a moment later, a vile, red-scaled lizard animal pounces through the open doorway bearing massive claws down on the small Ysoki. Instinct takes over and the Ysoki leaps randomly to the side, narrowly avoiding the attack as the creature flies by to his left. He whips around, pulling out a large hunting rifle from his back — almost dwarfing him with its size — and fires blindly into the room, wild panic in his bloodstained expression. The lizard-creature — the deadly rivener form of an ikeshti — spins around with unimaginable speed to face his prey as the rifle shot misses wildly, striking the ceiling of the ancient ruin. Heedless of the ineffectual rifle fire, the rivener pounces, reaching out the massive claws of his left hand just as a 2-meter boulder of granite and debris smashes down from above, pulverizing the creature in a sick cacophony of gore — but not before the tip of one claw traces a slanted scar of fabric, fur and skin across the torso of the young Ysoki. He screams in pain as he jumps back reflexively, avoiding more collapsing rocks, and scurries from the room on all fours in a cloud of dust.


JJ

As this man strides sullenly down through the ship, we zoom in on his eyes and the scene fades once more, this time into the loud chatter of a busy tavern, synthetic wood lining the bar top, metallic bar stools filled with patrons of all types, and music playing from a console on the back wall—a familiar country tune about two lovers who can’t afford much but they can still afford their love for each other. Upon closer inspection, we see that many of the stools are dented and broken, the bar top has chips in it, as do most of the drinking glasses. There are no frilly, vibrantly colored drinks from Castrovel, no slushy yellow concoctions from Verces, only the dark brown liquid of ale—and more ale. There’s only one tap at the bar, and its manned by a single soul: a rough-looking half-human, half-vesk with scars on every quadrant of his face. He slams a drink down aggressively, spilling 30% of its contents onto the sticky bar in the process, and nods to our human from the transport ship. He grins, lifts the drink to his mouth to take a swig as he turns to assess the bar.

He finds his contact in the throngs of people and moves through the tables carefully, knowing that tonight is not the night to run into trouble. He sits down in a booth, his pants sticking to the shiny fabric as he slides in across from another man. This human is in his 60s, drinking the same as everyone else. They lean in close and talk quietly with one another while the noise of the bar masks their conversation. We can’t decipher their words over the noise of the place.

A few minutes later, they lean back—business concluded—and relax. They each take a long pull from their drinks and sit in comfortable silence. Maybe a minute later, a Kasatha approaches their table unsteadily, his four arms each holding drinks of various measure. He leans down, half falling onto the table—spilling the two lower drinks onto the floor—and stares our man in the eyes, too close for comfort.

“Don’t I know you?” he slurs, his alien head swaying a bit.

Our man puts a hand on the Kasatha’s chest and pushes him back slowly, his teeth gritted in irritation. “You don’t know me, pal.”

“No, no, I know you,” he says, brushing the hand aside with a slight stagger as he straightens up. “You’re June, right? June Johnson?”

The Kasatha considers him a moment as June—JJ to his friends—starts to rise in his seat. The Kasatha drops his other two nearly-full glasses and moves for two weapons at either side. JJ jumps him and disarms his top left hand, but the bottom right hand pulls up a laser pistol from his back which fires wildly into the wall. Everyone in the bar begins to scream with surprise and a moment later the bar is in uproar, patrons running for the door, knocking over tables, stools, other patrons. JJ’s partner slinks out of the way quietly and makes for the door. JJ grapples the Kasatha and is able to disarm the drunk man as the scene fades into black.
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