Starpath: Scoundrels of the Interstellar Highway is the second installment in the Starpath series. Initiated by Facepunch user K0mori in February, 2016, and borrowing heavily from plot concepts contributed by Deathgrunt, it is set two years after the events of the original game.
A side-story, named Codex of Sawark, is currently being written by Viper123_SWE, a player and contributor to the first two Starpath adventures. The events of this story will be concurrent to those of Starpath II.
The year is 2385. Just over two years have passed since the Oracle controversy reached its staggering conclusion, leaving the galaxy in a state of fear and uncertainty. The United Galactic Community, once the premier force of diplomacy among the stars, has been rendered powerless as the great states which comprised it are now retreating into guarded isolation. With law enforcement and security becoming increasingly-difficult to maintain, criminals and mercenaries witness the dawn of a new golden age. This includes the fledgling Terika-Belladonna Company, a pack of dangerous rogues lead by a former Archius crewmember, which begins adding to its ranks in preparation for a wild, vindictive crime spree.
On January 8th, 2385, the Muramasa, a ship belonging to the Terika-Belladonna Company, docked at the lunar trade port of Virtue in the Sol system. Under the directive of the company's first lieutenant, Rask Vor'Pangn, the ship took on a rookie crew and departed for the eastern border planet of Itara, an isolationist agricultural state which has recently been occupied and placed under control of the Kanad Collective's Black Fleet. Their unmet employer, Yanim Terika, supposedly awaited them there, having stayed behind from a previous mission in order to assassinate a public figure named Kupro Kupra. However, en route to the planet, the new crew was informed that Yanim had not reported on the success of her mission, and had likely been captured.
The rendezvous soon became a rescue mission, and Rask was forced to lead an away team to assault a city police department in an effort to locate Yanim. By the time her location had been determined, the local authorities were already in the process of turning Yanim over to the kanads, who wish to prosecute her as a terrorist. Rask then lead the team to intercept and recover her. Meanwhile, Neasha Kyral, the company's second lieutenant, lead a ship-based crew into combat against the Black Fleet itself, helping to delay Yanim's extradition and clearing a path of escape for the crew. In the end, the new crew recovered Yanim and escaped the planet with only a single casualty, inflicting severe losses on the kanads and the native tetrian collaborators who assisted them.
After a brief stopover at the Albitsky Asteroid Field, the Muramasa crew traveled to Prospera, a gambling Mecca in human space. Yanim had learned that the kanads were using a security agreement with the tetrians to manipulate the flow of the interstellar food trade in hopes of causing a shortage in vulnerable border states. The human factions had boycotted tetrian goods out of suspicion of this intent, but the kanads were successfully skirting regulations by selling to the human crime syndicate "the Mafia," whose throwback aesthetic shaped the resort planet Prospera into a corrupted cyberpunk Las Vegas. The crew was ordered to find a way to sabotage the F-Max Grand Prix, a major sporting event that the Mafia was attempting to fix for a massive profit. Yanim hoped that the syndicate would negotiate if brought to heel, but the reality was far messier.
After bribing and assaulting key racers and Mafia figures, the crew entered its pilot, Owen Jackson, into the Grand-Prix. Owen, a former race driver, managed to pull off an upset victory despite rampant Mafia efforts to cheat the race in favor of their patsy. As a result, recently-ascended Mafia leader Donatello was assassinated, and two of his sons became rivals in a mob war. Meanwhile, Red, the mysterious Argos contact with which Yanim has worked in the past, appeared on Prospera to offer the crew a job. Richard Briggs, an YsCom official who sought war against the flagging trade conglomerate Tri-Enterprises, was due to be assassinated. The killing was meant to look like an accident, but after Tri-Enterprises' Asset Protection PMC intervened, kidnapping Briggs, the crew was forced to assault them directly and killed Briggs in the process.
The crew then traveled to Mars, entering into another contract with Argos to retrieve a pair of unexplained devices from the planets Sirgas and Voyak, where war is in the process of breaking out at any moment. Although the crew has just saved the east from a food crisis, they will have no time to rest as they take their guns directly to the front lines.
By January 18th, the Muramasa had arrived at Voyak in pursuit of one of two mysterious Archives. The crew had taken a vote to decide whether the sanghvi or the kanads would be better collaborators to recover the second of these devices for Argos in a complicated quid pro quo deal, and had chosen the sanghvi. Their job was to destroy a missile defense base operated jointly by the UGC and Black Fleet forces at Dyatiq, which would signal the sanghvi on Sirgas to capture and return an Archive. The crew would then assault Yovek Airbase, a Black Fleet stronghold, to recover the second Archive.
The activities of the first day ended in failure- Frosty, the crew's resident starfighter pilot, was shot down over the planet's capital city, and two away-team members, Amy and Valkyrie, were taken out of action during an assault on Dyatiq which was ultimately aborted, and which required Yanim to hastily purchase another ship and crew to rescue the first. A second away-team, meant to recover Frosty's body, instead encountered a strange mystic named Moloch, apparently belonging to Frosty's unknown race who had recovered the body instead, and restored it to life. After bringing this stranger back to the Muramasa, a standoff between Captain Yuga Shuur and Moloch resulted in a crew mutiny and Yuga's replacement with Taylor Caine, a human mercenary.
Meanwhile, Rask used the opportunity to increase his power within TBC, becoming the operational leader in charge of the Muramasa's mission while Yanim was busy courting buyers for the company's new weapons division. Rask worked with Checkered to develop a new plan: the crew would use airstrikes to disable key radar stations around Dyatiq which would leave the base unable to distinguish a real attack from a false one. The new sister ship, the Cataract, would carry out the false attack. This plan required special bombs produced within the capital's industrial district, which were driven out in a dangerous high-speed chase on the freeway. After the crew's harrowing escape from authorities, they learned that the Archive at Yovek had been stolen.
The thief was another human mercenary, Jason Bradley, fresh off the allied ship Sparrowhawk, whom had been captured by the Black Fleet while attempting to locate the Muramasa crew in search of a new job. Jason escaped imprisonment and stole the Archive after overhearing of its importance. The Muramasa crew thus only had to rescue Jason to recover the Archive, but this was no small task as he had attracted the fury of the Black Fleet preemptively. The crew achieved this aim and then bombed the radar stations, successfully executing the arrangement made with Argos. Upon fleeing the planet, however, the crew was attacked once more, this time by the Death Vigil, which also wished to obtain the Archives. However, despite practically destroying the Muramasa, the Vultures weren't able to locate the Archive, as the device had been handed off to the Sparrowhawk for delivery in a shell game gambit.
The crews now return to their leaders, aboard the massive carrier Aurikha, which had been gifted by Argos as partial payment for the operation. Things have changed- Yanim is secretly suffering from a terminal nerve disease which had previously urged her toward violent acts, but she can no longer bare the immense guilt that her decisions have leveled upon her. Rask views her as a liability, and wishes to be rid of her. The crew has suffered immensely from poor leadership and lack of resources, and the ship has been torn to hell. All of these critical factors have converged as a result of the great rush to recover the Archives, and yet no one within the company knows exactly what they are...
But they will, and soon.
With the Muramasa having seen its last battle, the crew was reassigned to the Cataract, conveniently available after the angry departure of the latter ship's original crew. Only two stayed behind, including Arkadam Sidikan, a former Collective State Security officer with a history of romantic exploitation and near-deadly revenge from Yanim. Having disturbed a hornet's nest by interfering in the now-catastrophic Second Kanad-Sanghvi War, the Aurikha and all of its occupants traveled to the northern fringes to do various small jobs and build connections. While there, Yanim worked tirelessly to find information about the Archives. As she would discover, there were three Archives in total, with the third being held somewhere on Oltanis, a remote world devoid of civilization. After some discussion, the crew came to acknowledge responsibility for their role in whatever happens with the mysterious boxes.
The debate over the company's role produced deep divisions. Rask, wishing to wash his hands of the Archives and seek out wealth instead, sharply criticized the crew for contemplating their moral obligations. He was overruled, however, and the crew traveled to Oltanis. After they retrieved the final Archive, Yanim interfaced directly with the machine through her neural implant and spoke directly with a powerful, ancient being, known as Starvis- in truth a moon-sized sentient computer system embedded within the planet of the same name. Starvis explained that it was originally designed to contemplate the physics, implements, and strategies of war, but that it soon achieved a higher understanding and wished to end war entirely. Its three Archives were the key to ending its imprisonment, and once assembled at the pole of the planet, the being's plan could be set into motion to bring immortality and tranquility to all beings.
However, if only two of the Archives were to be brought forward, the bearer would be able to control Starvis and unleash its great destructive powers. To avoid this calamity, Starvis promised to prevent Argos from learning the same secrets from the two Archives it possessed, giving Yanim plenty of time to devise a way to arrive at the same moment and deposit the third Archive, preventing disaster. Yanim was initially conflicted by the sudden revelations, but after speaking with Taylor, Hariim, and Bucky about the implications of Starvis's release, the group decided that a better course of action would be to destroy at least two of the Archives. They then travelled to speak with Red on Athens, where Argos held its headquarters. In the midst of communicating her unwillingness to work with Red any further, Yanim was interrupted by a surprise attack by the Death Vigil, which recovered one of Argos's Archives.
The Aurikha fled from Athens, now enemies with Argos as well as the Vigil. The sudden turn of events caused Rask to fly into a rage, attacking Yanim for spoiling plans he had been making for after he supplanted her. Arkadam arrived and defeated him in the nick of time, having been inspired by Yanim's attempts to make up for years of troubled interactions. As it would later be revealed, Yanim had always secretly desired to develop a relationship with him, as she had once seen his potential. The two quickly fell in love. However, all was not well on the crew. Maddox, having been exposed as a spy for Sol, had a psychotic lapse and was placed into the Aurikha's brig, permanently. There, he would team up with Rask in an effort to escape, betray, and ultimately destroy the company.
Using the company's money in his role as operational leader, Rask bought and bribed his way for freedom, and enlisted Maddox's help in escaping from the Aurikha. Meanwhile, Yuga, now an officer of the Ayr Imperial Fleet, arrived with Vakarus as her ally as well as a detachment of kanad vessels in a massive effort to halt and board the Aurikha. Instead, the Terika-Belladonna crew fought fanatically, eventually landing hard in the wastelands of Rigel, where, with the help of the Boome Marines, they killed Rask and Maddox and drove the ayr and kanads back in a heroic stand. Now, they seek a means to escape again, as their enemies will no doubt find them before the Aurikha is fixed. They must purchase a new ship to truly replace the Muramasa. For now, they take refuge in Stalnazyp, the home of Yanim's dear friend and former crewmate, Iska Volgrim.
In the midst of all the fighting, the crew has been shaped by extreme pressure, becoming an unbreakable diamond, with the same courage and heart which once defined the Archius crew. The beginning of the end is coming as "Frosty," now Chemosh, Moloch, and Valkyrie all plan their futures outside the company, and Yanim, no longer hiding her illness, seeks a future for her friends that will outlast herself. Arkadam has secretly promised to marry her before she dies, fulfilling one of her final wishes, but one glaring problem remains- Starvis. The entire crew is now aware of the menace, but can they gather their strength in time to stop Argos and the Death Vigil from unleashing disaster?
A frigate named the Durandal was chosen as the crew's next vessel shortly after arriving in Stalnazyp, but it proved to be a prize that money could not buy alone. The khergian militias, endlessly harassed by kanad intruders operating out of UGC bases on the planet's surface, refused to sell the ship unless the now-infamous Terika-Belladonna Company agreed to attack the nearby repair station of Vostokrebh and rescue around two dozen militia fighters being held by the GKVR. Yanim, eager to prove herself a reformed soul to her old friend Iska, confidently took up the job and demanded that khergians have the vessel painted in TBC livery "by Tuesday."
An elaborate plan to break into the massive base was put together, involving motorcycles, a lightning advance, and the element of surprise, came together over the course of two days. Iska lent her village's artillery to the plan as well, but soon things began to go awry. When the crew attempted to infiltrate the base, they were discovered, beginning a long, painful slog to the center, where an elite force was eventually brought to counter them, led by Kyrskada, the vengeful leader of the kanad crew which had failed to capture the Aurikha two days prior. Dio was killed in the onslaught, and Yanim and Arkadam nearly joined him. After isolating the captain from her crew, the Black Fleet and the Peacekeepers quickly overwhelmed and forced the remaining crew to surrender.
Meanwhile, in Stalnazyp, an unwitting clone of Ryvik Sidikan was dispatched to capture Iska, unaware of her involvement in the attack on Vostokrebh. Instead, he crossed paths with a highly-unwelcome intruder: the one variously called Killer-Gemini, Damya, and her preferred name, Beta. At first believing Beta to be a clone of his sister, Ryvik was horrified by her capacity for ruthlessness, and was nearly killed in the attack. Fleeing back to Vostokrebh without his crew, he returns to find the base on fire, and upon seeing his true sister in a feeble state, being tortured by his comrades in the SS, Ryvik feels more confused than ever about his place in life. When Beta arrives, seemingly unharmed from their fight from earlier, Ryvik finds himself protecting his former targets, as well as an old friend, Captain Vixe Sidikan, as they run to the heavily damaged frigate Viokhmar, where the rest of the crew has been imprisoned awaiting transport.
Unwilling to let their comrades be taken by the kanads, the remaining operatives within TBC, along with allies from the Boome Marines, made their own assault on the base at the last moment, rescuing the khergian prisoners in the process but barely missing the takeoff of the Viokhmar. Instead, a combination of the imprisoned crew revolting and killing Sergeant Kyrskada, the khergian artillery landing a barrage on the Viokhmar, and Beta's appearance on the lower decks was enough to convince Ryvik and Vixe to crash the ship intentionally and kill all on board. A last moment sacrifice from Owen Jackson, piloting the Cataract alone, was all that prevented total annihilation. In the aftermath of the crash, Beta found Yanim helpless, intending to kill her and take her place, but was stopped by Jag, who died protecting the Boss while Ryvik and Vixe attempted to escape.
Ultimately, the crew would survive the plummet, capture Ryvik, and stumble upon Beta's secret- that she was, in fact, Yanim from an alternate universe, brought about by the influence of Dwan, a being capable of moving between universes which had inadvertently broken Yanim's faith in others during the Archius mission, who had been tricked by Beta into believing in her goodwill. As a result of this encounter, Yanim left the field of battle carrying Beta's computer pack, and Beta with Yanim's, each an identical component of their YS-X neural implants. The crew returned to the Aurikha to offload the wounded, where Yanim would eventually die of her various wounds and illnesses, while Arkadam was found to be a shambling wreck after a horrific brain injury inflicted by his captors at the GKVR.
Neasha, now in control of the company, was forced to urge the crew onward, as it was unclear whether the Aurikha's location had been compromised or would be discovered. Those who were willing and able departed again for Stalnazyp, eventually collecting the Durandal, rechristened the Muramasa II, and set out for new horizons. But what they don't know is that Arkadam has ignored Yanim's wishes and turned to Starvis for help escaping his nightmarish predicament, and Beta has walked away from her encounter carrying conclusive proof that TBC is in possession of a third and final Archive, which she intends to bring to the Death Vigil's attention, setting the wheels in motion for a fateful moment in galactic history. But it will take time for all of the pieces to fall into place...