Monday, 16 June 2014

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."

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