Thursday, 26 June 2014

Dark Heresy Episode 1.2

I'm a week behind in the write-ups, as we've just finished playing episode 1.3. Just before we started last session, Stuart realised that he had already played the original Call of Cthulu campaign on which this Dark Heresy campaign is based. Before the start of the session, we briefly discussed our options as a group (carry on with the campaign, play a different published campaign with the same characters, or switch to Legend of the Five Rings). For the time being, we decided to continue playing and decide what we would do next week.

The Acolytes:
  • Cadence: A Tech Priest CyberHound handler. Played by Ali.
  • Grimoire: Potent Void-Born Psyker. Played by John.
  • Gunner: Down-Hive Gun-Slinging Scum. Played by Fiona
  • Ishtari: Novice Sister of Battle. Played by Caroline. 
  • Lemantz: Penumbrae Hive Enforcer. Played by Niall.
  • Zane: "Squat" Flamer-wielding Cleric. Played by Stuart.

Outside the door of Chamber 401, the Acolytes begin a hurried discussion, first determining (after a brief word with the ship's captain) that they are standing outside the only exit. The immediately instruct the captain to withdraw to the next bulkhead and seal both it and the one on the other side of the room.

Once "safely" locked in to a very confined space with an unknown foe on the other side of the door, Cadence easily bypasses the lock.

Inside, the once-stateroom is in disarray. Three naked human figures, "clad" only in bloody war-paint stand around a small, metallic letter bin (the sort you might find next to any scribe's work-space) throwing in documents, books and other artifacts. An odourless, colourless steam rises from the bin. Meanwhile, on the bed, lies a headless, mutilated corpse. The three intruders reach for their weapons while the door hisses open: each carries a sharpened human thighbone, carved with strange runes and already stained with (presumed) human blood.

The Acolytes gun them down before they can even move.

Entering the cabin, the Acolytes quickly begin an investigation. Cadence and Ishtari immediately move to rescue what documents they can, particularly those already consigned to the bin. Inside the small metal receptacle, they find not flames, but a strange, purple goog that appears to be slowly dissolving any non-metal objects placed within. 

They rescue a number of documents from the flames, including a hard copy of an astropathic transmission, a formal "chop" of the sort used by Rogue Trader and noble houses in the Crone Sector to announce themselves, a metal jho-stick lighter (on the carpet next to the bin), a trade receipt and (rescued from the bin itself) a partially dissolved, grainy pictograph of a star-ship.

[Handouts 1-5 from the previous post]

Meanwhile, Grimoire reaches out with his less natural senses. The temperature in the room immediately drops slightly, but no-one seems to notice. Grimoire's senses detect a dispersing warp nimbus, with a similar "taste" to the one he experienced in the Surgeon' lair [Episode 0.4] immediately following their quarries escape. It's only similar though. Not identical.

Meanwhile, Zane examines the dead "painted men". He can find no clue as to their identity as individuals, but notes that the war-paint is indeed blood (very fresh blood) that has been painted atop a pattern of swirls and jagged lines carved into their flesh and long since scarred over. He also gets a closer look at each of the three thigh-bone clubs and confirms that they did indeed once come from a human being. He can make out a number of runes carved into each, but they mean nothing to him personally (or, indeed, to any of the Acolytes). Each painted man wears an identical white mask, seemingly carved from a large piece of ivory (a shoulder bone perhaps?). The masks are worked into a rough oval, featureless except for two triangular vision holes and a long "mouth" from which protrudes a long, bloody (and somewhat rotten) animal tongue of some kind. Similar to that of a grox.

Gunner looks around the rest of the room, carefully checking for anything the painted men might have dropped or missed in their search. He finds a hand-written letter on the carpet beneath a dresser [Handout 6] and a small hard-bound book beneath the bed [Handout 7]

Meanwhile, Lementz, the most forensically-aware member of the group, examines the corpse on the bed. It's a man, with an appearance anywhere between mid-to-late thirties, although it's hard to be sure for two reasons: the relative availability of rejuv treatments in the Crone Sector and, most significantly, the fact that the body has been horribly mutilated. Lementz can tell that the marks carved into the body were made while the victim was still alive, all the more horrible given the extremity of the mutilation. The head has been severed from the body by a number of down-word strokes from a crude, sharp object, leaving a ragged wounded and a series of puncture wounds to either side of the point of separation. An especially large rune [Hand-Out 8] stands out among the smaller wounds on the body.

The group briefly confers after their sweep. They briefly discuss the various clues they have found. The central issue for the group seems to be whether or not the corpse on the bed is Jeremiah Elias. After all, they have no-way of identifying the body as yet. After a brief discussion, they step out of room 401 and close it behind them. They they summon the captain.

Prudently, the captain returns with a fair-sized Securitor team at his back. The ship-board guards are wearing full flak armour and carrying boarding shotguns. The captain, looking relieved, leaves his escort at the bulkhead and approaches the party alone. The relieved look soon vanishes from his face (replaced with near-panic) when Cadence, who's understanding of Geller fields is somewhat sketchy, instructs the Captain that he will need to have the ones onboard ship checked immediately. The Captain (assuming that the occupant of room 401 was killed by Daemons who boarded the ship while it was at warp) immediately orders a full sanitation sweep of the ship and an inspection of it's Geller Fields.

Although the Captain clearly wishes to return to the bridge to coordinate these efforts, the acolytes use their authority as Throne Agents to keep him where he is. They escort him into the room and ask him to confirm if he recognises any of the corpses. As it transpires, he claims he can't. He never met Jeremiah Elias in person and does not recognise the three painted men as being among his crew. But then, given that there are around 1400 crew onboard, that's not surprising. 

"It's difficult to give an exact figure," the Captain admits, "We regularly conscript fresh bilge-scum from the prisons at every stop we make. In-fighting and disease amidst the lower deck crew insures a high-turnaround. We don't even bother to keep track of who lives and who dies anymore. Haven't for centuries, in fact."

The other acolytes are not pleased (nor especially convinced) by this, but settle down a bit once the void-born acolytes, Grimoire and Zane, confirm that this is fairly common practice among warp-capable vessels of all kinds. Even a luxury transport such as this.

The Captain is them grilled about possible ways for an outsider to come onboard. Grimoire in particular is convinced that warp-craft or teleportation was used but Cadence argues that without the protections of the Blessed Omnisiah and possession of certain powerful machine spirits, the painted men would have been destroyed by the denizens of the warp mid-transport.

At this point the captain is dismissed with instructions not to leave Penumbrae Space Dock until released by Inquisitorial Authority and with even stricter orders to permit no-one save the Inquisitional Forensor teams the Acolytes will be summoning to access this chamber.

Meanwhile, the Acolytes wait for a number of the "Zorias'" to arrive to retrieve the bodies and begin a more in-depth investigation of the scene. In the meantime, they again discuss whether or not the corpse on the bed could be Jeremiah Elias or just some dupe. After a time, they realise that speculation is pointless and instead decide to attend the planned rendezvous at the Irridium Guesthouse. Partly in the hope that they will find Jeremiah there alive and well. Partly to see who else might turn up to the planned meeting.

They thereafter turn back to the other clues and identify some leads that they can pursue without having to leave Penumbrae:
  • The Trading House
  • The Hand-Bill for the Lecture
  • The Librarian
  • Lady Eika Coriolanus herself.
They are still debating long after troupe of  stitched-face Zarius serfs arrive to take custody of the bodies and chamber 401.

[In fact, they won't decide which lead to follow up after the Iridium Guest-House until well towards the end of he next session.]




Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Dark Heresy Hand-Outs Session 1.2

Clues found in the rooms of the deceased Remembrancer, Jeremiah Elias.
Item 1

A hard-copy of an astropathic communication. Dates of transmission, rebroadcast and reception have been expunged. 

To: Lord Coriolanus
From: Jamal Nazir

Gracious Lord, I am informed you desire knowledge of our world of Pharos. In my possession are singular curios which I believe to be of interest. These I shall willingly display to you for your edification and gratification. Naturally, they are ancient and priceless beyond compare. I will arrange matters to your satisfaction when your agent calls upon me in the street of Jackelis, Old Quarter.

Item 2: 
A folded piece of hard-copy, embossed  with the chop of a prominent Rogue Trader family, House Penhew. Beneath the chop can be found the name Evard Gavigan along with his title, "Seneschal, Tabula Rosa

Item 3:
A metal jho-stick lighter, made from cheap pressed metal. It is stamped with the words: " Shambling Tigura, Shian City."
Shambling Tigura Lighter
Item 4:
A pictograph -very dark and grainy- depicting a massive merchant vessel of some kind. The ship orbits a generic looking space dock to which it is attached by umbilicals. The star-field is partially obscured by the grainy quality of the image. Three letters are visible on the ships bow. "D-A-R".

Item 5: 
A trade receipt from an establishment calling itself Imassa Imports, located in Penumbrae City close to the shuttle port. The receipt mentions unspecified "services". On the back has been scrawled the words " Silas N'Kwane".

Item 6: 
A handwritten letter addressed to Jeremiah Elias, care of Prospero House. Return address is: Miriam Arrarat, Universitat Penumbrae. The letter seems quite old and travel-stained. It reads:

"Sir, the text of which you enquired is no longer in our catalogue. The information you seek may be located in other volumes within our collection. If you contact me upon your return to Penumbrae, I will able to assist you in locating such volumes."

Item 7:
A small sheet of hard-copy, inserted between the pages of Gideon Ravenors: " A Mind in Darkness". It marks the beginning of chapter 11, "Fetishes in pre Imperial Cults." It is a handbill advertising a lecture on "Pre-Imperial Cults in the Crone Sector" delivered by a Signeur Antonius Kowlis, a fellow at Penumbrae's Eschkatonic Universitat, speaking as a guest lecturer at the Universitate Penumbrae. The lecture was several years ago.

Item 8:
Symmetrical marks have been carved onto the corpses chest, which has also had it's tongue ripped out. The marks resemble two bloody crescents with a round object in the centre.

Symbol carved into Elias' Chest

Dark Heresy Campaign: Episode 1.1a

PCs:
  • Cadence: A Tech Priest CyberHound handler. Played by Ali.
  • Grimoire: Potent Void-Born Psyker. Played by John.
  • Gunner: Down-Hive Gun-Slinging Scum. Played by Fiona
  • Ishtari: Novice Sister of Battle. Played by Caroline. 
  • Lemantz: Penumbrae Hive Enforcer. Played by Niall.
  • Zane: "Squat" Flamer-wielding Cleric. Played by Stuart.
NPC's:

  • Explicator Sand: Seneschal of the Sanctum Invigilus. The PC's immediate superior within the Inquisition.
Session 1.1

Within hours of the Surgeon's escape, Coscorla is overwhelmed by a massive Inquisitorial presence. Inquisitional Storm-troopers, Mechanicus Skitarri and Adeptus Arbiters are moving from hab-block to hab-block, rounding up dregs and inhabitants at gun-point. A few of the orange-garbed gangers are stupid enough to resist, and pay dearly for it. Bloody scraps of orange cloth flap pitifully in the gentle breeze of the air recyclers. Boss Luntz is furious, loudly calling out to all who will listen that he is an ally of the Inquisition. He pleads with the acolytes when he is led into an armoured prisoner conveyance, hands bound in electro-shocks cuffs before him. Lilly Arbest is also led away, weeping tears of bewilderment and betrayal. The last the acolytes see of her is her face peering forlornly through the rear window of a prime-mover marked with the ominous words: Adeptus Mechanica Vivisection Node 361.

Inquisitor Sand oversees it all, relishing the cruel scenes before him. He congratulates the acolytes on their successful defeat of probable Logician cell. He expresses disappointment at the “Surgeons” evident escape, and seems surprised at the lack of fatalities among the acolytes. He implies that he had expected that Coscorla “thin the herd” somewhat, but admits that while survival of the fittest is certainly an operational truth within the Inquisition, it is certainly not an inefficient way of managing the Sanctum's wage bill.

The Explicaor carelessly throws each of the acolytes a small ersatz-leather wallet containing their new Acolyte Rosettes and reminds them of a useful procedural loop-hole: while it is a capital offence to impersonate an Inquisitor, there is no requirement to correct anyone who mistakes them for one. Indeed, such mistakes only add to the Inquisitions mystique as an omniprescient force within the Imperium. He scoffs openly though at the notion that any of them might be mistaken for a member of the Ordos' higher echelons, however. At least, not yet. But he does advise them to announce themselves as "Throne Agents" rather than "Inquisitional Acolytes" or the "Inquisition." Purely to take advantage of the ambiguity. 

With a few final, parting barbs, he instructs Cadence and Sister Ishtari to report to him for surgical treatment as soon as he returns to the Sanctum Invigilus. He expects the remaining Acolytes to personally bring their written reports to his Reclusiam at the beginning of first-shift.

Cadence and Ishtari undergo a horrific experience, bound to surgical tables in the same room where Sand conducts his forensic examinations. Surrounded by half-decayed, mutilated corpses, he gleefully explains that he is somewhat short of anaesthetic. The procedures will have to conducted using local anaesthetic only. Thus, both acolytes are wide awake as Sand tears them open and pokes around in their insides with blunt, remarkably filthy, surgical instruments. Fortunately, both somehow manage to pass their toughness tests and avoid contracting nasty infections while under the knife of their somewhat sadistic employer.

While the injured acolytes recover from their ordeal, the others present their reports to the Explicator at first-shift. All fail to mention the initial blunder that led to a succession of fire fights with the local Coscorla crime-lord and his gangers. Luckily, Sister Ishtari has been excused from providing a written report due to her wounds. Sand would be unlikely to forgive the acolytes for submitting selectively edited reports and the naive young battle sister doesn't have a deceptive bone in her body.

At the meeting, Sand informs the acolytes that he has another task for them. One of their master's sometime informants, Jeremiah Elias, has contacted the Sanctum Invigilus via astropath. Sand speaks of this agent as a remembrancer fond of chasing ludicrous conspiracies and clearly thinks little of him. However, he does admit that Elias has occasionally provided useful information amongst all the dross. Clearly, the Remembrancer thinks he has found something big- astropathic communication is not inexpensive and nor, for that matter, is warp-travel. As such, Sand will be sending the acolytes to meet with Sand when his ship docks in six days. When asked, Sand states he does not know what ship the informant will arrive on, only that the acolytes are to contact Elias at his hostelry when he makes land-fall.

Sand provides only three useful pieces of information:
  • The informant has information concerning the doomed Coriolanus Expedition.
  • The astropathic message originated somewhere in the Shian sub-sector
  • The informant is Jeremiah Elias, a Remembrencer who specialises in writing sensationalist non-fiction concerning ancient, pre-Imperial heresies of the Crone sector.

With six days to burn, the acolytes set about finding as much information as they can about Elias and the Coriolanus expedition.

From their recovery cots, Cadence and Sister Ishtari set about finding out as much as they can concerning Jeremiah Elias. However, while they have no trouble accessing Inquisitorial files with their new security clearances, they find that every second word in the man's file has been “<redacted>”. This strikes Cadence as being somewhat odd. Why would information concerning a mere informant -and an unreliable one at that, according to Sand- be above their security clearance?

Gunnar, meanwhile, hits up his old street level contacts in return for information. It seems that Elias' investigations have left very few footprints in the Penumbrae underworld. Only the lowliest -and craziest of Gunnar's various contacts have every heard of him – and these contacts are themselves among the most rabid conspiracy theorists. The sort of rambling, junk-addled lunatics than even the worst of drunks steer clear of. Zane likewise speaks with contacts among the local ecclesiarchy, but none of his scholarly companions have even heard of the man or his theories.

Grimoire has much better luck. As a fellow pysker, he has no qualms about visiting the Sanctum's Telepath, Erazmus Kensin. Kensin is a wasted, emaciated fellow, left paraplegic by the soul-binding process and permanently plugged into the Sanctums astrotelepathica array by dozens of thick cables. Suppurating pink flesh, badly infected, rims each connection where the cable enters his thin body. Starved for company, Kensin is only too happy to share what he knows about Jeremiah Elias. Elias, it seems, is actually one of Inquisitor Schardes most valuable and prised informants. Although not a member of the Inquisiton himself, the remembrencer's research has frequently uncovered high level conspiracies throughout the Crone sector. Elias' tips have resulted in a number of successful prosecutions. At least one corrupt Planetary Governor has been exposed and executed thanks to Elias' research. While the scholarly community largely considers him to be a “hack”, Inquisitor Scharde thinks very highly of him. So highly, in fact, that Sand has standing orders to forward any communiques from Elias to the Inquisitor immediately.

Which, Erazmus muses, is odd considering that the message arrived three days ago and Sand has yet to return to the astropath with clearance for him to re-transmit to the Inquisitor. Erazmus even shares his original transcript of the transmission with Grimoire. It clearly shows that the informant is travelling on a ship called the Silver Majesty. Moreover, the transmission was clearly sent from Shian itself, not merely from somewhere within the Shian sub-sector.

Troubled, Grimoire shares this information with his fellow Acolytes. Clearly Sand has been deceiving them, but that is hardly unusual within the paranoid ranks of the Inquisition. Despite this, their hackles -and their suspicions- are raised. They decide they would prefer to meet Elias at the docks rather than at his hostelry as Sand has requested. Zane openly wonders if there is anything else they need to do in the mean-time. He's clearly tired from a long day of voxing dry, rambling old scholars for information. Ishtari helpfully points out that they have two more leads to chase down: the Coriolanus expedition itself, and the planet Shian.

Shian is easy enough. Gunner explains that the world is the capital of the Shian sub-sector, the last part of the Crone sector to have been conquered by the Imperium. Although Shian itself was absorbed only a few generations ago, it has already earned a reputation as a shady trade hub where anything can be bought or sold for enough credits. The world itself is almost entirely underwater. Most of the actual land-mass is only a few metres above (and in some cases, under) sea-level. It is crowded, dank and musty and overall a very, very dangerous place to do business.

The Coriolanus Expedition is another matter. Cadence spends much of the second day trawling through Inquisiorial data bases on the subject. She quickly determines that it was an exploratory expedition sponsored by the mighty House Coriolanus of Penumbrae in partnership with House Penhew, a Rogue Trader dynasty bound to the Adpetus Mechanicus Explorator fleets by a treaty of indentured servitude. The entire expedition was reported lost some years back

[See the previous  hand-out post for transcript of various hand-outs concerning the expedition. The final entry is the transcript of the astropathic communication sent by Elias.]

The acolytes briefly consider contacting Erika Coriolanus, the sister of expedition leader and socialite Rogal Coriolanus. However, it's clear from Cadence's research (as well as the acolytes own local knowledge) that Erika Coriolanus is a very powerful, very influential individual. It's even commonly believed that she has the Planetary Governor's ear. She may, in fact, be something of a power behind the throne. Although they have Inquisitorial authority to speak to whomever they like, whenever they like, they decide it would be better to speak to Dame Coriolanus after they hear from Elias. While they do not fear making an enemy of her, they realise that contacting her with vague questions concerning her brothers fate would be impolitic. They may need her cooperation later, when they have uncovered some concrete information.

Talk turns to planning their meeting with Elias. Cadence tries to locate a pictograph of the Rememberancer to make approaching him at the Space Dock Terminus more feasible but finds nothing in any Inquisitorial or public data-net. The acolytes spend the new few days planning the Space-port operation, training and requisitioning more gear.

When the Silver Majestic docks at the Penumbrae Terminus five days later, the Acolytes are waiting. Cadence has already interrogated the Terminus' machine spirits and found that the Majestic is due to disembark 173 passengers. She attempts to persuade the Majestic's machine spirits to reveal an image of Elias, but finds that Elias' file has been mysteriously corrupted. The Tech Priest does, however, find Inquisitorial finger-prints all over the seemingly “innocent” data corruption. Incensed at this disrespectful treatment of so ancient and wise a machine spirit, she conveys this information to the rest of the Acolytes via Vox.

The acolytes decide that the Inquisition is doing a magnificent job of covering Elias' tracks. But Zane wonders openly if this is the work of their Inquisitor trying to protect Elias, or if someone else within the Inquisition is trying to kill him. Either way, their plans remain unchanged.

So it transpires that when the Majestic's passengers disembark from their luxury lander at the Terminus, Cadence is waiting for them, complete with a sign bearing the name “Jeremiah Elias.” Not because the acolytes actually expect Elias to approach them, but in the hope of provoking the informant into making some sort of furtive gesture than will give himself away. Lementz and Gunnar are standing nearby, watching the richly-dressed arriving dignitaries for just such a sign. Meanwhile Cadence counts the new arrivals. 172. One short.

Around the corner, Ishtari, Grimoire and Zane are waiting. Heavily armed and fully armoured in their newly acquired gear, they are a truly intimidating presence. The perfumed and effete dignitaries who have left the ship are too intimidated by the rosette badges they openly wear to utter even a gasp of protest. Buxom, somewhat elderly ladies swoon and blush when a dashing young man purporting to be a lord is pulled from the crowd by the acolytes. But it's not Elias. It is instead a somewhat infamous impersonator and thief named Eidipus Flynt whom they drag into the back of the Inquisitorial Chimera brought along for this purpose. Though he is not their real target, his presence does give the Acolytes the pretence they need to board the Majestic.

The ships captain is an ancient and dignified figure whose double-breasted ships-uniform is festooned with medals, ribbons and precious metals. When he acolytes suggest they must interrogate the crew to determine if Flynt has any accomplices among them he blanches and protests that there are almost 14000 indentured crewman aboard the ship. One of the acolytes wryly observes that the interrogations will clearly take some time. The Captain tactfully points out with as much dignity as he can muster that, while the Inquisition has the authority to impound his ship and crew for as long as they like, there are a number of very influential passengers travelling to other destinations who might take umbrage at the inconvenience of an enforced delay. The acolytes acknowledge this but seem unconcerned (they hadn't really been planning any such thing, after all). Instead they require the Captain's assistance in another matter. They observe that 173 passengers were due to disembark, but one remains unaccounted for: Jeremiah Elias.

The captain thinks for a moment, but eventually seems to remember the man. It seems that Elias snubbed invitations to dine with the captain an unprecedented three times during the journey from Shian. Three! The captain is only too happy to lead the acolytes to Elias' cabin door.

When they arrive, they cannot fail to note the blood seeping under the door -or the noxious odour of warp-taint eminating from within.

Monday, 16 June 2014

Dark Heresy Campaign Journal Episode 0.5

As soon as she recovers her wits, Ihstari shoots the poor, ruined piece of humanity on the slab. before her through the head.  Lementz proclaims the vile surgeon to be bound by Imperial Writ and skips a beat when Zane adds "and by the Imperial Inquisition."

If the surgeon hears, it does not react. It slowly, and without any apparent race of concern, flicks the corpse from it's slab and begins sharpening it's tools against a whirring grind stone. It does no turn to face them. It does no acknowledge them in any way. Even when Zane recites the list of it's crimes and explains their authority. It simply cleans it's tools and waits.

[Meanwhile, unbeknownst to the rest of the party, Cadence (via Threnady) risks scrap-code infection to establish a secure link between himself and the Surgeon. Using tight-beamed codes of binary burst codes. Cadence starts to offer the Surgeon a deal. The Surgeon does not reply. But then, it does not sever the connection either]

After a few seconds, the acolytes hear a familiar hum behind them. The swing around and duck just in time to see the Mechanical claw deliver another human torso. A woman's his time. The claw deposits the woman on the slab and the Surgeon slowly, with great patience and dignity, returns to work.

[Cadence continues to praise the Surgeon's work in the meantime and offers to broker a deal with the Inquisition]

This time, it's Gunner who puts the half-dead woman out of her misery. This time, there is a subtle reaction from the surgeon. I leans forward against the slab, it's back seems to heave under a small sigh -and the mechanical spider drops from it's back, scuttling forward to attack the acolytes. At that same moment, two Servitors burst from their cryo-tubes and engage them in combat. The Surgeon itself, meanwhile, simply summons another torso to work on.

Ishtari, still wounded from before, screams out her permission for Grimoire to heal her even as she steps forward, flail in hand, to engage the Spider. Despite her combat training, she's down in seconds, cut to shreds by the flailing surgical limbs.
[Second fate point of the evening]

Zane and Gunner turn upon the Servitors while Ishtari attacks the Spider-Servior with her nightstick and shotgun. Grimoire empties his autopistol into the thing even as he pulls Ishtari clear, but seems to do little damage. His attempts at Psykic healing fail dismally in the noise and terror of combat, frost spreads out in a wide circle around him, coating all the metal objects nearby. Fortunately for him, in all the confusion of the fray, none of his companions  notice this grievous lapse in control. Meanwhile, Threnedy seems to be frozen in place, unable to move.

[Still communicating with the Surgeon]

In a few frantic moments of combat, Gunner goes down again but Grimoire heals him enough that he can continue. From the ground he places his hand guns against one of the Spider-things many green, mechanical eyes and rattles off a burst. The hard rounds finally manage to pierce it's shell and rattle around inside, doing untold damage to it's various circuits. The thing collapses in a tangled heap.

The Surgeon responds by activating a control on it's arm. Still with it's back to the acolytes, the surgeons slab and the platform on which it stands begins to rise. The ceiling above it parts, a hatchway opening up to reveal a machine-room above containing eight, small, technological pillars arranged in a circle.

Threnedy leaps onto the platform. The surgeon ignores it. 

Down below, the acolytes concentrate of fighting off the servitors. Grimoire and Gunner take pot shots at the Surgeon but the rounds simply ping off it's mechanical back. It still has not turned to face them.

As the last of the Servitors fall, the platform disappears into the chamber above.

Cadence perceives a bright flash of blue light and then static. Threnedy -and her connection to it- is gone.

By the time the acolytes reach the chamber above, the Surgeon is long gone. The small chamber has no visible exits, and apart from a great deal of cabling and machinery, is featureless save for the eight small pillars arranged in a circle around them.

Dark Heresy Campaign Journal Episode 0.4

The party turn, expecting to see another Skitarri (or even more Servitors) what they don't expect to find is a skinny, naked man with obvious poor quality augmentations raising his hands in the air and begging them, "Don't shoot".

He has the look of an adept or scriviner about him. A simple data clerk.

Gunner and Zane stalk down the corridors towards him, guns raised, while Grimoire helps the injured, groggy (and unhealed) Ishtari to her feet. Lemantz meanwhile puts a solid round into the head of each fallen Servitor. Cadence meanwhile sets the dog on the skinny adept with the command to "hold". The adept is clearly terrified and does not resist when the cyber-hand clamps it's vice-like jaws around his arm.

The six acolytes push their way (and the adept) further into the room. Inside, they find a bank of cogitators along one wall, a simple desk with another built in cogitator and a simple coat. A foot looker looks like it might contain the adepts meagre possessions. A few motivational posters on the wall proclaims motto's such as "Blessed is the mind too small for doubt" and "From thy Labour: Joy".

They party are tired, hurt and confused. They're in no mood for stalling. They make it clear what will happen if the adept does not cooperate. Threnaday wrenches the man's arm back and forth a bit to reinforce he point.

The Adept spills, in more ways than one. The acolytes take a step back as a foul smelling puddle slowly grows around their feet.

"You don't know what you're doing!"The man wails, "You'll kill us all. You'll kill everyone. She can't know you're hear" Zane is only just making head-way calming the man down when Cadence notices an auspex unit on the nearby wall whirr.

"Oh no!" the Adept says quiely.

When the Acolytes turn to look, the Adept frantically lunges for something beneath his desk. Lementz shoots him, a single shot to the chest and the little Adept collapses with a scream. Cadence meanwhile, lunges for the desk herself, terrified of what she might find....

It's a bomb of some kind. Two arm-length transparent cylinders, linked by a valve at the neck with a metal-plugged nozzle pointed towards the rooms only window. Wide-eyed and terrified, the Adept reaches for it pathetically. The two liquids starts to mix in the valve, giving off a colourless steam. Cadence screams "Get out!"

While the rest of the Acolytes (with the exception of Lemantz) scramble for the door, Cadence reaches under the desk and tears the cables connecting the valve and the two tubes together. As she does so, the vari-coloured liquids drip down onto the wounded adept. In moments, his skin begins to bubble and melt, his mouth opening in a soundless scream.

That's when Cadence notices her hand start to bubble and turn yellow."Out! Out Out!" she creams a game. Meanwhile Lemantz tries to scrape the stuff off of Cadence with a gauntleted hand. "Out" she screams again, pushing Lemantz towards the door and  ordering Threnady to hold the dying adept in place.

With the others scrabbling back downstairs, Lemantz and Cadence run towards the kitchens. Cadence is gambling that the preservatives in the jars combined with her own mechanical augmentations will be enough to keep her alive. Cadence stumbles and runs as fast as her weakening organic form will carry her, leaving pools of dissolving flesh in her wake. Lemantz, trusting in her carapace to protect her from infection, supports the dying Tech Priest as best she can as they race down the stairs. Frantically, Lemantz begins splashing preservative over Cadence as soon as they reach the kitchen., noting as he does so that the gopey liquid on his gauntlets began to steam the very moment he started scooping water.

"It works" she shouts, and Cadence is already lowering her fully body into the jar, pulling it closed behind her. She collapses against the cool glass of the jar, allowing the liquid within to fill her lungs even as the organic part of her brain starts to panic and thrash. She switches off her organic mind, allowing pure logic to take over and feels her organic parts relax.

Dispassionately, over the vox, Cadence has just enough strength left to remind the others that they need to to cover her trail of dissolved body parts with the preservative before the organic part of her brain gives up an slides into blissful unconsciousness. 

[In game terms, Cadence was in negative wounds by the time she reached the kitchen and lowered herself into the jar of preserves. Her character burned a fate point and I allowed her to survive. In fact, it was burning the fate point that led me to decide that the preservative gambit would work. Cadence's logical mind continued to play a part in the rest of the adventure, by taking control of the Threnady unit entirely for the rest of the adventure. Foreverafter, however, Cadence's "organic" flesh retains a plastic, rubbery look. As it were a poor quality synthetic substitute. Which it is. Ali seems pleased as it only serves to make Cadence look even more unnatural and disturbing than she does already]

The acolytes spend the next hour cleaning the kitchen and stair well thoroughly with preservatives to prevent another disaster in the Hive. Zane guards the stairwells and the lobby the hall time. [The party seem convinced that their enemy is just waiting for the perfect moment to strike, but despite my dropping in a few false alarms], nothing happens].

Eventually, the acolytes are confident that they have cleaned up Cadence's trail of decay sufficiently. Afterwords, they make their way to the adepts office again. Cadence orders Threnedy to open the door and he acolytes flood the place with preservatives, causing all the cogitator banks to short out. At this point, Cadence rejoins the adventure while occupying the freshly decontaminated body of Threnedy the cyber-hound.

The Acolytes, sill expecting yet another ambush at any moment, return to the second dead Skitarri, claiming his armour, weapons and key-pass. They then proceed into the room which the Servitors emerged from and find it to be an auditorium complete with a projector unit and huge, off-white blanket acting as a make-shift screen. Zane and Lemantz go looking through the various titles on offer for anything incriminating, but simply find the usual motivational films such as "Work is Worship" and "Together we Serve the Emperor in our Toil". They even hit on the idea of checking the film currently in the projector, but it turns out to be yet another grainy recording of men at toil wearing fixed "don't shoot me, I'm really smiling" grins while they scrub radioactive waste from a plasma turbine.

Grimoire again reaches out with his witch-sight and confirms that the cold, dark void is directly above their present position. If possible, the acolytes become even more wary and alert at this news.

This is when the Acolytes belatedly realize there are no stairs to the third floor. Instead, they make their way back down to the elevators on the ground [first] floor. For the first time, they examine the locks pads on either side of the elevators closely. Cadence quickly determines that both key-cards need to be passed through the locking mechanisms at the same time to access the lifts safely. She communicates this through Threnedy's inbuilt vox-unit. 

The Acolytes (wisely) are somewhat reluctant to use the elevators, recognizing them for the  potential death traps they are. However, after thoroughly examining the lift car for signs of traps (wishing aloud for some explosives to blast their way in through the second floor roof) they take up position in he elevator, which they all decide to ride in the prone position.

This is wise indeed. No sooner does the elevator stop moving at he third floor than a series of blades cut through the car itself from outside (the blades are built into the shaft itself, rather than the car which is why they were not detected during the inspection) at waist height followed thereafter by a visible laser beam, auto-fire and even a blast of flame. [Okay, I laid it on a bit thick for the players here. There was really just autofire but since they'd taken sensible precautions and none of them would be hurt, I added in the blades, the flames and the lasers on the fly. It got a few laughs so I'm glad I did. That being said, in retrospect, it probably defused the tension more than I would have liked. I had to work overtime on my descriptions to build it back up again before the final confrontation].

"The lift doors open to reveal a darkened chamber, pitch-black save for the eerie green glow of display screens, keypads and thin strips of underfloor lighting reflected from cold, dead steel. Hundreds, possibly thousands of organic and machine components -arms, legs, eyes, myomer cables, tendons, nerve bundles and muscles, dangle from hook on the ceiling, dripping slowly congealing blood or greenish-black ichor to pool on the floor with an ominous "drip-drip-drip". Metal runners like mono-rail tracks run across the ceiling, dividing the enormous room. The ceiling seems to extend for some hundred feet in the direction of the cold void Grimoire described but you struggle to see more than ten or fifteen feet ahead through the detritus of human and mechanical waste suspended from the ceiling.

Ahead, in the direction of the void, you can just barely make out a stronger, green illuminance emanating from the other end of the room. A faint mechanical whirring noise comes from direction as well. As you leave the elevator car, a shift in the cloying, moist air of the room alerts you o something approaching from behind. You duck just in time as a mechanical claw travels along an overhead rail at speed, a severed human torso dangling in it's grasp. As it passes, you are just barely close enough to see it's mouth open and close pathetically like that of a landed fish. I seems to reach out to you for assistance as it vanishes into the press of metal and steel viscera before you."

The Acolytes advance further into the room, weapons held at the ready. As they stalk forward, they feel the fluids drip from the ceiling to run down their backs, their necks. Into their eyes. The metal limbs tink quietly against one another as they are pushed aside to allow the Acolytes their passage. The noise made by the severed human limbs, for that matter, is not worth thinking about.

"At last, you push into a cleared space at he end of the vas chamber. Before them they find a surgical table, not that dissimilar from the one operated earlier in the day by Sand himself. Strapped to it is the human torso. It reaches out towards them pitiably, begging for mercy even as it spasms under the surgical attention of the creature which stands before the acolytes, it's back to them. It's long, spindly form (far taller than is natural for an unaugmented human) is dressed in the badly soiled red robes of a Tech Priest. A strange spider-like apparatus adorns it's back, with dozens of thin, spindly arms bearing surgical tools, shears, pliers, wirecutters and spot-wielders orbiting around it's centre mass, occasionally swooping down like a striking snake to perform some function on the twitching mass of once-humanity strapped to the table below. As you watch, a relatively human seeming hand (human save for the twelve sharp, serrated copper blades that serve as fingers) hold up a human liver to the flickering green light above it. It examines it briefly for a moment, a green linear strobe playing over its surface, before casually tossing into a heap of similar organs in a small, rounded bucket to one side. A dozen, similar buckets, each overflowing past full capacity surround it. The creature, the vile, twisted.... surgeon before you does not acknowledge your presence in any way. I does not even seem to care that you are present."



Dark Heresy Campaign Journal Episode 0.3

...and Lemantz finds herself staring down the barrel of a las-pistol for the second time that night. 

A brief stand-off ensures, exacerbated by the presence of the "gangers" that have caused so much trouble that evening. However, the various bodyguards present quickly lower their weapons at a soft voiced command from a new arrival.

Boss Luntz walks into the bar from a back-room, still belting a night-robe around his ample frame. Despite the late hour and the unexpected nature of his guests, the plump bellied, hairless gang-boss seems entirely unruffled. He takes a seat in a corner booth and motions for his visitors to approach.

The half dozen or so bodyguards adopt relaxed postures, leaning against various walls, tables and even the bar itself. They're not fooling anyone though.

Luntz begins with some genial conversation, offering each of his guests a glass of amasec and staring with some mild interest at the near-catatonic girl in their company.

"If she's meant as a gift," he adds archly, " I prefer them a little livelier". 

They soon get down to business. Luntz mentions what a pleasure it is to finally receive a visit from Enforcer Lemantz, but he rather doubts that the "tight-assed" young Enforcer is here to solicit bribes. The group allow Lemantz to do the talking. She explains that she brought in a group of Bounty Hunters to help her investigate the disappearances when it became obvious that she couldn't rely on her superiors for help. She apologises for the earlier misunderstanding and realise now that she should have paid Boss Luntz a courtesy call to appraise him in advance. Luntz seems impressed, even going so far as to state he never would have believed that "tight-ass Lemantz" would have the balls, or the initiative, to do something as audacious as hire bounty hunters on her own. He doesn't ask where she got the funds, but he's clearly curious.

At this point, Zane steps in and adds that they have uncovered sufficient evidence to believe that it would be wise to call in "more guns". Luntz agrees they may be right and offers to let the group use his comm system if they do him a small favour: it seems that someone at the Alms House has been muscling in on his territory, selling drugs on his streets. He couldn't been seen to move against the Almshouse himself, since it keeps so many of "his" people fed, bu the characters......

The group try to persuade Luntz to let them use the comms first and investigate the alms house later. But then Cadence convinces the group to play their trump-card. At this, Cadence asks the guards to open to door as an associate is coming. The door is opened, and there stands Threnady, dragging a moving sack behind her.

When the group opens the sack to reveal what's been making the locals disappear, Luntz suddenly becomes much more co-operative. He lets the group use his connection to the hive data-net and moreover, he reveals that he was originally in partnership with the junk-dealer using the almshouse to distribute drugs.  Moreover, he suspects that his mysterious silent partner might have a hand in the disappearances, since they began shortly after Luntz concluded the deal. 

Luntz turns over his table and there, underneath, is a high-specced, highly illegal, military grade date-net terminal. Cadence rubs her hands with un Tech-Priest like glee and plugs herself in....
and screams almost immediately.

She manages to unplug herself before the scrap-code can take route, but she's hard to burn out the code hard-wired into several of her servos and sub-systems to do it. Luntz is angry to find out his system is completely corrupted, but horrified when Cadence explains that the corruption goes beyond that. The few nano-sections in which she was connected were enough to see that the whole district data-net, everything from the day/night sub-routines to the streetlights to the panic buttons scattered throughout the district and linked directly to the Precinct House are corrupted. In effect, the acolytes have no way to contact the rest of the hive.

They will to do this themselves. Shaken, Luntz agrees that if they can find proof of the Almhouse's involvement in the disappearances, he lead an assault on the place himself. The acolytes agree to his terms. Leaving Lilly behind, they set off in the direction of the almshouse, coming at it from the rear entrance.

Cadence


As they approach, the acolytes finally notice something odd about the hab-block containing the Almshouse [They've been failing perception checks every time they look at the thing] Only the first three floors of the hab-block are showing any lights. All the other hab-blocks nearby have dozens of floors, with scattering of lights on in each, despite the late hour. Only this block does not. All of the floors above the third are completely dark. Not a single light. Cadence hazards a theory that something inside the hab-block is drawing away a great deal of power. No one disagrees or suggests an alternative theory. Grimoire tries to get psykers impression of the place, but from this distance he can tell little except that there are a number of living beings within the Almshouse block, but none above the third floor. This strikes the group as very ominous. Even with the decline in population since the plasma leak, there should be dozens, hundreds of life signs present within a building of that scale. Instead, there is nothing. As they creep down the alley at the rear of the building, Grimoire tries again and discovers a cold, empty place inside the buildings. Somewhere near the third floor, he thinks.

Cadence is unwilling to interface directly with the machine spirit's that reside within the lock of the loading bay door but manages to open it successfully the old fashioned way. They find themselves in a green-tiled room, mouldy and dank smelling, with kitchen utensils stacked neatly on shelves (each with a thin patina of grime) and a rack of three, deactivated kitchen servitors hanging from the ceiling. Blood splatters the walls and tables, but it's old blood. Dried to a dark, almost black, shade of brown. A number of walk in storage units line one wall. Freezers and pantries most likely. A brown, syrupy goo leaks from under one of the freezer doors. It's undeniably the source of the odour of decay that permeates that corner of the kitchen. A pair of light blue swinging doors with two circular windows leads out of the room, along with a dumbwaiter big enough for Zane or Ishatari (without the armour) if they were inclined to squeeze. Gunner and Zane quickly move to the swing doors and peer out into a large refectory hall. The lights in the hall -and those in the kitchen- are still one. But there is no sign of anyone home. Just beyond the refectory, the two Acolytes can make out a small reception desk at the front of the building, with a dividing staircase and a pair of elevators.

Cadence and Lemantz open the leaking freezer. Inside they find a chamber of horrors -dozens of transparent beakers and jars containing a foul smelling amber liquid with various body parts and technological augmentations suspended within. Gasping, they quickly close the door and announce that they appear to have found the missing persons.

A brief conversation ensues (although all the acolytes are careful to keep their voices down) in which a consensus is quickly reached: this is not sufficient evidence to go back to Luntz. For all they know, they've simply stumbled upon an illegal chop shop. No one wants to think about the implications of finding all these raw, dead meat in the kitchen of a Almshouse. But Cadence points out it's the only place they'd be able to find a big enough freezer nearby. The fact it's in an almshouse could be coincidence.

The acolytes creep quietly through the refectory hall and into the reception area. They notice keycard slots by the lifts and a small cogitator unit built into the reception desk, beside an automated lexograph unit for printing data onto hard-copy. Cadence is reluctant to interface with the cogitators machine spirit directly, but is able to access a number of files using the slower and less-sublime means of her meat-body. She uncovers a number of disturbing files including a complete change of personnel in the days leading up the to first disappearances and a virtual notification from Tantatlus dated 28 days earlier that food shipments would cease immediately and the almshouse would be closed. Only a skeletal "caretaker" staff would remain to prevent looting.

Unwisely, Cadence decides to print these files to hard-copy. The result is a rucus. The Lexography machine whirs to live with a loud, grating grinding noise. Cadence works quickly , failing to switch it off but the damage is done. Although the acolytes can hear nothing over the infernal noise, Threnady warns Cadence of an approaching energy signature. The acolytes scrabble for cover. When the perfectly formed muscular man, naked  but for a pair of briefs, stalks down the staircase and into the reception desk, several things about him stand out. Firstly, he is armed with a very expensive looking auto-pistol. Secondly, he clutches something indistinct in his left hand. Third, there is no way a normal human footfall should make the metal staircase shake like that.

At once, the acolytes open fire. The noise of the lexographer drowns out the sound gun-and las-fire, and the stranger is riddled with solid rounds and las-fire. Yet he does not go down. The acolytes can see the gleam of augments -expensive augments-beneath shredded skin. Without a sound, the stranger returns fire with startling accuracy. Zane is forced to duck back behind a door, fragments of shattered green tile erupting around him. A second round of fire finally manages to stagger the stranger, but it takes a third burst to finally put him down. Meanwhile, the lexographer goes about it's noisy work. Putting their faces close together over the body, the acolytes can just about have a conversation while Zane watches he staircase for any late arrivals.

Cadence is clearly impressed by the quality and expense of these augments. All the more so because of the cosmetic modifications made to them to keep them subtle. She identifies the dead man as having been outfitted with augments normally provided only to the highest ranking Skitarri bodyguards. After explaining that Skitarri are the Tech Priesthoods equivalent of the Imperial Guard, the others look suitably worried. They quickly loot the dead Skitarri's autopistol and the keycard from his left hand. 

Suddenly, the racket from the Lexographer rattles to a stop. Cadence briefly peers over at the layered sheafs of printed material, but takes no other action. Taking advantage of the silence, Grimoire again reaches out from the warp. He confirms that the "blank spot" is on the far side of the building, and on the third floor. He describes it as cold and empty. He also confirms the presence of two more life signs on the second floor. The party cautiously climbs the stairs to find themselves in a long hallways running the length of the buildings. Doors alternate left and right all the way along the corridor, which terminates at ether end with another door. Adopting a suitable formation, the acolytes move along the corridor towards the end beneath the psychic blank spot. The first few doors prove to be empty cells such as that occupied by menial staff. One, however, contains a still warm bed with the sheets thrown back. Searching the room, they find an empty gun case under the bed along with a suit of carapace armour and a few overalls in the locker.  The room is otherwise empty of personal possessions and contains nothing to hint at the personality of the occupant. They continue moving down the corridor.

As Zane reaches for the handle of the fourth door however, it opens.

Beyond stands a clone of the stranger killed below. Save that this stranger is fully armoured from neck to toe in black carapace armour. Before the stranger can act, Zane presses the barrel of his shotgun to the strangers head and gives him both barrels. Zane (and the room) are splattered with gore, brains and splinters of metal. [No point rolling to hit or damage. Given the close proximity, the advantage of surprise and the two shotgun blasts to the head from an inch and a half away, the guy was dead. Skitarri or not.]

The noise of the gun-fire triggers the opening of the door terminating this end of the corridor however, and two of the tracked Servitors race out and into melee with the group. Sister Sihtari goes down, hard [negative wounds] and is quickly followed by Gunner. Zane drops his empty shotgun and starts pouring autopistol file into the Servitor nearest him while Lementz gamely tends on the second servitor with her nightstick. Grimoire pulls the unconscious Gunner out of the melee and uses his psychic healing. The ganger quickly regains consciousness and starts blasting at the Servitors with his pistols from the floor. Zane fines a soft spot in the Servitors skull with his autopistol while Gunner and Lementz tear the second apart.

Grimoire is silently debating whether or not to risk Ishtari's wrath by healing her without permission when the door at the other end of the corridor opens behind them.

Dark Heresy Campaign Journal Episode 0.2

PCs:
  • Cadence, Tech Priest Cyber-Handler
  • Gunner, Under-hive Gunslinger
  • Grimoire, Precocious Psyker
  • Ishtari, Novie Battle Sister
  • Lemantz, Hive Enforcer
  • Zane, Squat Cleric
NPCs:
  • Thrandy (Cyber-Hound)
  • Lilly Arbest (Witness)

The acolytes rendezvous on the second floor, with Gunnar, Ishtari and Cadence each covering one of the stairwells. Meanwhile Zane and Cadence try to figure a way out of their predicament. Luckily, Cadence manages to spot a tattered looking mattress lying on top of a dumpster in the street outside when she peers out one of the windows at the top of a stairwell.

While the others hold off the advancing gangers, Zane and Lilly jump down to the Dumpster. By this time the gangers are clogging up the stairwells and have left none of their number outside. While Gunner and Ishtari wish for grenades, Cadence throws Threnady out of the window. In the ensuing combat however, both Gunnar and Ishtari takes wounds. Minor wounds yes, but enough to weaken them. They group stages a fighting withdrawal and soon only Cadence and Ishtari are left behind. However, at this moment, an enraged Ishtari charges into combat with her flail. Outnumbered, she is soon overwhelmed. Cadence drags her back and shoves her towards the window. The Sister escapes safely, but when Cadence follows, the Tech Priest injures her ankle. The group shuffle away as swiftly as they can, covering themselves with fire and maneuver, until they loose pursuit in the alleyways once more. 

For the second time that night, they bind wounds, reload weapons and check their gear.  Grimoire offers phyker healing techniques to the wounded. Gunner and Cadence accept, but Ihstari refuses to subject herself to the filthy touch of the Warp. Before she can say any more, Threnady lets out a long, low, mechanical growl. The acolytes ready their weapons.

Enforcer Lemantz of the Corcorla Precinct has been chasing gun-fire all night. While most of her colleagues had retreated back to the Precinct House to wait out the night-cycle in the same abject terror as they rest of the populace, she continued her solitary investigation into the disappearances. Or she would have, had she not received reports of a new gang trying to muscle into Coscorla. Though why in the warp anyone would want to take control of a dump like Coscorla was beyond her.

And that was what she was thinking when she rounded a corner to find a las-pistol pointed at her face.

A few minutes later, Gunner returned the Enforcer's weapon. Lilly had helped to facilitate an alliance by explaining that  Lemantz was one of the few possibly even the only) member of the Precinct House that wasn't corrupt. She went on to explain that when she had first reported Saul's disappearance three weeks previously the Precinct Chief, Locan, had warned her to keep her head down and not go asking too many questions. She'd left to work a contract uphive soon after and had only just returned earlier that day to find Locan had joined the vanished. Lemantz confirms grimly that Locan failed to report for duty one morning two days previously, and that when she had visited his quarters she had found the door broken down and fresh blood staining the bed sheets. Since then, her colleagues have taken to locking themselves and their families into the Precinct House at night. Lilly adds that after she heard about the Precinct Chief, she realised that help from up-hive wasn't coming. That was when she decided to leave. She's willing to tell them more, but only if they help her get to the mono-rail station. Lementz is able to confirm that Lilly is in danger. She hasn't been able to locate anyone who has filed a missing person complaint for several days. It seems that those who report their loved ones as missing disappear soon after. When Lemantz tried to contact Lilly several days ago, without success, she'd assumed that Lilly had been taken as well.

Shortly thereafter, the group makes it's way through the quite streets to the mono-rail station. They encounter no more gangers on the way, but several times during the short journey the still night air is pierced by shrill screams in the distance. Once, Threnady seems to pick up a strange energy signature nearby, but on closer investigation the signature appears to have been lost.

When the party climbs the gantry to the mono-rail platform, Threnady stops suddenly, her heckles raised. Cadence signals the others to stop. Allowing her consciousness to commune with the Cyber-Hound's machine-spirit, Cadence see's through it's eyes and other senses. She is able to detect a number of large, humanoid, metallic shapes shambling through the ruins of the Terminus' building. But each shape is surrounded by a strange, foreign looking energy signature that disrupts the hounds auto-senses. She is unable to tell exactly how many of these humanoids are present in the Terminus. As she turns to the others, Gunner and Ishtari spot an eerie green glow coming through one of the shattered, greasy window panes of the building.

Cadence and Threnady go forward to investigate. Once closer to the Terminus, she is able to ascertain the presence of an oosphere, an electromagnetic field, around each of the figures. Opening her nodes for communion, she expands her own oo-sphere, hoping to learn something about the strangers.

Instantly, her nodes erupt in agony. She can smell the stink of melting metal as the very touch of the humanoids oosphere attempts to corrupt her own. She hears numerous, binary voices in her head. Each of them foreign. Each of them subtly wrong. Illogical. Number and Character combinations that are mathematically and theologically impossible. 

Scrap-code.

She shuts down her oosphere within moment, managing to purge her system of the infectious code before it can take root. But while she rolls in agony on the filthy, cracked ferrocrete of the platoform, she hears bursts of binary static from within the terminus building. The platform lights wink out in showers of broken glass and blue sparks. Amorphous, shadowy shapes lit only by a myriad of greenish, electronic eyes erupt through the flimsy walls of the Terminus building towards her. Threnady grabs her by the collar of her robes and starts dragging her back while behind her, Cadence's colleagues open fire with everything they have. 

Cadence manages to get to her feet and reach the others just before the scrap-code Servitors reach her. With frantic blows and a flurry of las and auto fire they manage to escape back down the gantry, where the tracked servitors do not appear able to follow (leading Zane to wonder aloud how they managed to get up there in the first place). Cadence, although still shaken from her near-disastrous experience with the scrap-code, enacts a cunning plan involving a bewildering array of cables and using herself as bait that leads to the capture of one of the scrap-code Servitors. Or, more precisely, it's torso. The tension of the snapping cable cuts the thing in half, and it's tracked mid-section falls to the caverns metal floor.

Hauling a near catatonic Lilly behind them, the group discusses their next move. Trapped, they realise that they have to summon help from the Inquisition. They turn to Lemantz for suggestions on how to contact the outside world. Lemantz explains that the district has not had reliable, communications with the rest of the hive since the plasma disaster several years ago. Few of the residents and only a handful of local organisations have been able to afford private links to the inter-hive data network. She supplies the following options:

  • The Precinct House itself, which the acolytes deduce is likely to be under close watch. Lemantz reluctantly admits that there is likely to be at least one traitor among her colleagues, given that individuals who file missing person reports tend to vanish shortly thereafter.
  • The Union. Lemantz explains that "Boss" Luntz, head of the local workers union has his fingers in many pies and is, in fact, the leading figure in what passes for the local underworld. All the local gangs work for him. It's possible that he is involved in the disappearances but Lemanzt doubts it. He is losing a lot of face in underworld circles for not being able to keep his own house, small as it is, in order.
  • The Almshouse. Lemantz explains that after the Plasma leak, House Tantalus ceased all of it's operations in the district (a disaster given that the majority of the inhabitants were indentured to the House). Pressure from other trade houses looking to one-up Tantalus forced it to maintain an Alms House to feed the locals. Lemantz has never seen it, but believe the Almshouse must have some means of regularly contacting Tantalus to order new shipments of food and clothing.
After some debate, the group decides that Luntz and the Union would be their best bet. They need to get the local gangs off their back so they can focus on the disappearances and what better way to do that than by making an alliance with their boss.

Hurriedly, the small group makes it's way across the square to the Union building. It's locked up tight, but the lights are still on inside. It's Lemantz who walks up to the security door and bangs it a few times with her nightstick. When the auspex unit mounted next to the door whirs in her general direction, she identifies herself and tells the gang boss to open up.

The door slides open.....