tagSci-Fi & FantasyStarfinder: The Jade Regent Pt. 10

Starfinder: The Jade Regent Pt. 10

byDragonCobolt©

Ravenscraig loomed over the party as they stood at the lip of the crater that kissed up against the edge of chaotic terrain that made up Ravencraig's foundation. The ancient seeming stone and steel edifice rose almost fifty feet upwards, after itself being placed on the edge of a craig that loomed over the surrounding countryside, giving it a slanted, dangerous appearance. Light shone from several windows, and the faint shimmer of a life sustaining field hazed the vacuum around the place itself - indicating that one wouldn't need an airlock to step into breathable air.

Ami stepped forward through that shimmering field and to the base of the corrugated metal stairs that went up the side of the craig - switchbacks coming every twenty feet to create a series of landings.

She looked back at the party, unfolding her helmet back, then breathing out a fog of steam from her mouth. "The air's breathable, but it's fucking cold!" She said, her teeth chattering as she almost immediately tugged her helmet back up to give herself some warmth.

"You're t-t-telling me-me," Rakain chattered. "Being c-c-cold blood-blooded isn't the b-b-b-best idea out here. Can fell this sh-shit through the suit."

"I just learned to toss fireballs, I can warm it up for everyone!" Hana said, snickering slightly as she headed into the station with the others.

"Thanks for the warning." Sam teased as she elected to keep her life support active as she followed the group. One benefit of it was climate control after all.

Ami laughed, quietly. "Well, that's comforting..." She said, putting her boot up on the edge of one of the metal stairs - knocking some snow ice from both her boot and the stair. She looked at the others. "So, ah, who wants to take the lead? Since I'm too sexy to allow the fangs of vicious death near..." She smirked. Sam gave a chuckle and stepped ahead of the group, her eyes scanning their path from behind the visor in her helmet.

Hana snickered, "I figure one of our melee badasses might want to take that."

"So long as you don't focus on the 'ass' part of that too much." Sam teased.

The eerie quality of the setting was overriding Xata's Banter functions. She took it all in silently, her violin case over one shoulder and a hand on her sword hilt. Rakain cranked his suit's limited climate controls all the way up, warding off the worst of the chill, but he still felt uncomfortably cold.

They started up and up and up - and as they walked, they found that the stairs were rough and poorly maintained. They creaked and groaned with every step, the metal threatening to give way in some places. But they came to the first landing and found nothing amiss - and then Sam started up the second, moving steadily forward.

"Be warned, looks like an oversized spider ahead, it is watching us." Sam whispered over the comm as she tried to approach the landing in manner to keep herself between it and the rest of the group.

"Good," Rakain said, his tread growing heavier. "Maybe a good scrap will warm me up."

Xata pulled her sword free of its sheath and prepared herself. Be careful, she messaged Sam quietly.

Ami shook her head. "Freaking spiders..." She whispered as the group became aware of the large, dark shape that Sam had noticed. As they watched, it shifted from side to side, restlessly.

"Hey, um.. do you guys want to try something nuts? I got a Wildwise implant before we left Absalom, which lets me talk to animals and magical beasts. I could try and talk to it?" Hana said curiously.

Ami blinked. "That's freaking cool..." She said, laughing quietly.

"That would be wise-" Sam started, her grin coming out in her tone. "See if it will let us pass?"

"That sounds amazing," Xata said, impressed.

Hana nodded, "So, I'll head up, you guys wait here so at least I can distract it and give you an ambush." She snickered slightly, slipping past the others, heading up to the spider. Once she was far enough away from her group, she called out "Hey there! Can you understand me?"

The spider stood, and hissed back - and thanks to Hana's connection to their com units, the rest of them were able to overhear the spider's comments, even if they wouldn't be able to speak to it unless they asked Hana to translate.

"Yesss, oilthing..." the spider hissed. "But you bear no jade, and sssso the conversation must end with...yess...delicious..." It clicked forward, revealing that the hideous thing was an amaglamation of a spider, a fly, and a scoripain, with buzzing wings and a huge, curving tail. Venom dripped from its mouthparts as it churred, quietly. "Those who bear no jade...are food..."

"Whoa, whoa, whoa!" Hana raised her hands, "You never even asked if I had any jade! For all you know I have it and you're totally going to piss off your master by trying to make me food."

"True..." The spiderish creature clicked, and seemed to be as if she was waiting.

Hana reached into her backpack, pulling out one of the jade ravens they'd found on the ninja, "This something like what you're looking for?"

The spider bobbed, then hissed in frustration. "Pass, pass..." It scuttled backwards into the shadows, clearly more than a bit ticked off that it hadn't gotten a chance to eat.

"Is no one gonna mention that that thing called Hana 'oilthing'?" Rakain said as the spider went away.

Hana waved over the others, "Come on guys. This is one of those guardian creatures, be sure to show it your raven because I'm sure it wants to take time and verify each and every one of us has a jade token. Nothing boring at all about that!" She said cheerfully.

Ami snorted. "Well, if it goes for the blood, that would be what it notices most about her..." she muttered to Rakian, walking forward as the spider watched them go by. They started up the stairs - feeling a bit relieved at having evaded that potentially awful fight.

"Not that bad as these things can go," Xata told Rakain as she passed by the spider warily.

"You guys aren't oilthings," Rakain protested as they walked. "You're like...sexy pervbots."

Xata grinned. "I like that designation better."

Hana snickered slightly, "To be fair, I don't usually assume spiders to be the most politically correct beings."

As the group walked up the next level, they heard a soft sound of voices speaking.

"I don't trust that Wodes..." the first was muttering. "He claims these adventurers are on our tail, but I've not seen anything that's more than just shadowrunners being shadowrunners - that tall bastard had enough enemies."

"Shut up, Tenzig..." the other voice said. "You're ordered, we stick with the orders..."

They came up to the very lip of the final landing and peeked over at the balcony leading to the inside of Ravenscraig. Lounging there were three humanoid ravens - their fur black, their feathers black, their beaks long and narrow. Unlike the dire corbies of the Rineice asteroid, though, they were lean and muscular and spoke in elegant, slightly Tian accented voices. They wore sleek ninja-suits, similar to those as the boarding party that had attacked the funerary shuttle.

"Keep an eye out for any intruders," the third tengu said, shaking his head.

"If any were coming, that horrible spider eater would have sang out. Likely eaten them too," the first, bitchy tengu muttered.

"We dodged a bullet there at least," Rakain muttered.

Xata telepathic messaged the others. We can sneak attack them if we move quickly.

Hana nodded to the other robot, sending her own mental message, Sounds like a good idea to me. I figure we take them down.

The directionless hum in Xata's throat was subvocal, the music all internal as she activated her magic and moved toward the group of Tengu. She flickered and vanished. As the group started to move forward, the Tengu looked over at a faint creak - Sam's weight on the ground. "What the fuck!?" One of the Tengu squaked - and it seemed battle was joined. Save that none of the bird-men knew that Xata was there. So there was that!

The tengu darted forward. Their blades were in their hands as they rushed forward, moving utterly silently. One slashed out with their curved blade, catching Sam on the forearm with a spray of sparks, while another back flipped and landed on the stairs behind Ami and Hana. The third leaped over and landed before Rakain - all of them moving to disrupt the formation of the party!

Xata Sang in her throat, imparting an extra vibration to her blade as she struck out at the nearest Tengu. She felt the shock of impact in her arm as her blade hit home... but sensed instantly it hadn't cut deep enough to kill.

Hana looked at the tengu who'd rushed her and grinned, "Did you know I'm part dragon? Which part? Why this part!" She said, opening her mouth and spitting a gout of flame into the raven's face.

Rakain didn't mince words. He lunged at the raven in front of him, his fingers snapping and sparking with electrical discharge. His fingers brushed the bird's arm, and there was a loud zapping noise as volts of electricity jumped into the raven's body. It squawked in pain, but wasn't dead yet!

Metal and forcefields repelled the raven's weapon in a shower of spark, and Sam turned the choice on form of her armor to her advantage. A twist of her parrying arm had one of the larger rings catch on the tip of that curved blade, bind it as her armored fist grabbed the edged steel. Her follow up was to snap her own sword free of it's sheathe and with a hard thrust run the raven through.

Nora had elected to take up the rear with her rifle and keep an eye on things from a distance, which came in handy. Shortly after the battle began she had taken aim, waited, then fired. Her drone did as well, and they both struck their targets with the last two Tengu taking a bolt of piercing hot energy to the head. They dropped without ceremony to the ground.

As the tengu thumped to the ground, Ami shook her head. "Flanking attacks rarely work if you don't have surprise...and numbers..." She said, shaking her head slightly.

Xata whisked the blood off her sword with a Samurai Gesture trid-style and sheathed it. "Excellent shooting, Fellow Adventurer," she complimented Nora with a solemn nod.

"Still an easy scrap, though," Rakain said. He turned and gave Nora two thumbs up. "Nice shooting, Nora!"

Hana gave Nora a thumb's up, a slightly expectant look on her face as she bent down to frisk the bodies.

Sam nodded to Ami's comment, going through her normal routine of cleaning her blade, less of a flourish and more wiping it off on something otherwise clean, before returning it to it's sheathe. With that she went about checking the dead.

Nora waved back in return and started marching down, clad in a light environmental suit with the helmet done up to keep her head warm. She wore a heavy pack instead of her usual toolbag.

"Anyone want a potion of Disguise Self or Blur?" Hana said, "Or some rope with a grappling hook?" She said, putting one thing of rope and the hook in her bag.

As she spoke, Ami smirked. "Is that silk rope?" she asked, shaking her head slightly.

Sam shrugged. "More rope is always good."

The mechanic responded with a clunky but effective looking pneumatic gun that she grabbed from her bag, "Got this grappler. Should help too."

Hana snickered at Ami, shaking her head, "Just wanted to know if we want to split it up or not."

Ami grinned. "So, uh, should we call you Noragirl now?" She asked. "Dark and terrible stalker of the night and all that. And I'll take a potion."

"Either one or one of each?" Hana snickered at Ami.

"I can carry what we aren't dividing right now." Sam offered.

"One of each!" Ami said, grinning. "I'm pretty, even out of focus after all."

"If I want a goofy name I'd rather GearGal," Nora said with a snort, fiddling with the device now.

"Can I be Dragon Stud?" Rakain asked, grinning like a doofus.

Hana gave two potions to Ami, slipped one into her bag, offering two potions of Disguise Self, one potion of Blur, two sections of fifty feet of silk rope each with a grappling hook and three swords to Sam.

"Brash will fight you for that, you know..." Ami said, shaking her head. "Should we head in through the front door?" She asked.

"Also a better name for the eventual porn parody." Sam teased, "RearGal would be a mega hit."

"And we are mostly without alternative paths. They don't seem to have a staff entrance, so front door it is."

The mechanic groaned and nudged Sam hard while shoving the grappler back into her bag. "Front door it is."

"Also, our sneak attack wasn't quite as subtle as we might have hoped." Hana snickered.

As they walked forward towards the front entrance of Ravenscraig, the tower looming overhead. The door opened with a hiss and they came out of the cold, into the large main hall. There was a broad table at the far end, with six doors spread about the room - three to the left, three to the right. There were a pair of stairs nearby, and two more stairs farther away.

The ceiling was vaulted and gloomy, with guttering, low blazing lights that seemed to barely illuminate the chamber enough to see clearly, casting dark shadows here, there. The table at the end of the great hall had several chairs for sitting in - but also what was clearly a PDA, abandoned there by its former user.

"Charming place..." Ami muttered as a raven fluttered down from the darkness, landing before them. before they could freak out, they saw it was a regular sized raven - no cybernetics, no strange feathers. It watched them curiously, cocking its head to the side.

Rakain glared at the bird, unslinging the new laser rifle he'd bought before they'd left for Ravenscraig off his back.

Hana focused, ready to fire off a spell if the bird did anything odd, focusing and summoning the PDA from the table to her hand. The tablet flew through the air and thumped into Hana's hand. Then the bird cawed loudly, flapping up!

Sam's eyes scanned the room over, looking for anything out of place.

Hana's hand twitched and she fired off a trio of flares of blue light that slammed hard into the bird's body. The bird exploded - but as it exploded, dozens of other ravens came flying down through hidden slots in the walls and ceilings, soaring towards the party!

Rakain reached out with his magic for what little heat there was around them, plunging the area around them in temperature a few degrees. He thrust his palm skyward, a rippling wave of heat shooting up and into the swarm. The searing heat put a dent in the swarm, but still they dove!

Sam let out a curse as ravens started to swarm around, the noise pretty much killing what little was left of the element of surprise. Her hand fished out one of her handcrafted metal tubes, pulled back the spring loaded guard on it and pressed the button in. A soft red light glowed angrily from it as she aimed and gave a casual toss up into the cloud of birds.

The bomb flew up - and then exploded. And a few moment, feathers and bits of blood and muscle fell down on the party, chunks of bird meat thumping onto the ground. One splatted against Ami's hair, while a wing slapped into Nora's little ferret drone, as the smoke started to clear. "...ew..." Ami whispered into the ringing silence.

"...Great minds, I suppose. Good one Sam," Nora said, kicking the wing away. She was really happy the mask of her suit was up right then.

Hana waved her hand, muttering and cleaning the chunks of bird off of Ami as well as the blood. "So.. the bird on the table said Die, die, die. So.. I'm still going to say I didn't over-react..." She said, biting her lip. Rakain brushed bits of bird off his shoulders.

As she spoke, the door to one of the adjoining rooms burst open and four men in sleek ninja outfits emerged, their swords drawn - clearly drawn themselves by the explosion!

"I don't think anyone will be against cooking that raven if we see it aga-", Nora began before sighing, "Seriously?!"

"This whole place is going to be like this, isn't it," Xata grumped.

"Yeah, sorry for going loud but I don't think it mattered at this point." Sam said as she brushed bird giblets off of her shoulder. "So, more fodder for the slaughter?" She asked the ones that jumped in.

Hana walked up to the guards and spat out another gout of flames at them, setting their uniforms on fire and scorching their skins. Xata let out a kiai and charged, cutting down one of Hana's still-smoking targets.

The three remaining ninjas gaped at their fallen friend. One of them leaped away, throwing down a pellet of smoke - vanishing with a poof. Though, each of them remembered that the vanishing pellets weren't actually teleportation tools. They had identified them. The ninja was still there, just invisible.

The remaining two, though, rushed at Xata, one slipping behind her and stabbing the android into the back, the blade twisting viciously, while Xata parried the other, the two ninjas taking advantage of their flank.

Xata cried out as the blade twisted inside her but gritted her teeth, persevering.

Once more Nora and her drone both aimed, taking a careful moment to line their shots up. A crack of laser bolts and both ninja fell to the floor with a searing hole in a vital spot.

Rakain clapped his hand to his spell cache, directing a pulse of magic inward. It zipped to his eyes, and when he blinked, he saw the invisible ninja, visible as a shimmer as he crept around the edge of the room. "Sam, there!" he said, pointing at the ninja.

"Noted, thanks." Sam offered to Rakain before launching herself in a leap to the point she was directed to. As she sailed through the air her blade was freed from it's sheathe and she brought it down in a heavy overhead chop against what appeared to be nothing but air.

A moment later...the air shimmered and the ninja staggered back, the sword transfixing his heart. then he thumped into the ground. Ami tensed, then waited.

Waited.

And after a minute had passed, Ami nodded. "Okay...I think that's all the local bad guys..." She said, casually.

Rakain pumped his fist. "Am I awesome, or am I awesome?"

Hana snickered, "Let me test it by cleaning someone up. That seemed to upset them before." She giggled, giving Rak a thumb's up, "You Rak, Rok." She said playfully, moving to loot the bodies.

"Yes, you are the best enemy radar." Sam teased.

Ami snorted, quietly, bumping Rakain's hip.

"Hey, we kept running into things that can turn invisible, so I read up on how to use magic to see invisible shit," Rakain said, sticking his tongue out at both of them. "Came in handy, didn't it?

He looked at Ami. "What's up, Ami?" he muttered.

"More swords for Sam, and who wants an extra Vanish grenade?" Hana said curiously, pocketing one for herself, sending everyone some credits. (200 credits each

Xata cried out jubilantly for Rakain and Sam's exploit... then cried out in pain from the wound in her back. Ami grinned. "Just giving you a congratulatory bump!" She said, cheerily as she looked around. "So, which rooms do we try first...the first level rooms or the stairs?"

"Ami, can you check Xata out? After that, I'd say we check the bottom floor first so we don't get f'ed in the A," Hana said.

Ami nodded, walking over to Xata, touching her back with a wince.

Sam winced in empathy for Xata, having known that pain before. "First floor gets my vote, the room these bozos came from in particular."

Ami nodded, then gestured. "You want to check it?" She asked, grinning. "Big swordy lass and all."

Sam shrugged. "Might as well." She said and moved toward the room.

Xata steadied as she felt the healing energy of Ami's touch. Smiled gratefully at the Princess and said: "Thank you, Miss Woodwise. Adventure can be taxing."

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