Cracking the Code
The mission started with the puzzling enigma of the Map. When woken up he just sat their and spoke and spoke and spoke. All meaningless gibberish as far as I could hear, but Octus and Thaddeus got very excited, especially when he started repeating himself after 3 days. They say it was some code, but all I saw was a poor man who was less enjoyable company than Solonius and couldn’t even keep himself alive.
Octus reliably tells me the code is very similar to the one used at Solent house. We used Thaddeus’s skills at manipulating the Data Ark, Octus’s natural logic skills and my moral support to crack the code in short-order. It turns out to be the coordinates for a location on ‘Auchus’ the 2nd moon of the 7th planet in the Naevus system.
Our mission was now clear, Masters called us onto a interstellar vessel called the ‘State of Play’. What a vessel it was, I have seen many a warship but this was something else. The top-deck was given over to a huge pleasure garden and hotel with bubbling brooks and soaring trees. Even weirder – their were absolutely no servitors, apparently due to the captain, Vigo Linden. Thaddeus was fuming about inefficient design, but such beautiful inefficiency should be commended.
Unfortunately we didn’t have time to enjoy it before being bundled off into a tin can Plebian and sent on our way. The area we had identified was a crystal mining operation, that looked to have fallen on hard times. The noble family that owned it were looking to sell it. Our cover was for the Baron to pose as potential buyer and we were his men sent to inspect the place.
A week followed in very tight confines, being forced to learn the space-suit at 2am,3am,4am,5am,6am….
Once we arrived – we were met by a thoroughly overenthusiastic boy – called First Officer Livius and his very capable Head of Operations – ‘Marcus’ and after resting started a tour of the facility.
To cover the main items we found on our investigations:
- Yields were down – this was why the site was less profitable
- The crystals they produced were unique to this moon and formed on the seams between hard rock and light rock.
- Their was no reduction in personal, yet the mine was under-worked.
- Everyone we met was tired and over-worked
- The men were dirty, skilled and honest (may the emperor have mercy on their souls)
- Their were tremors that had increased since the mine operation has started
The break-through occurred when Maxim quizzed the doctor. Breaking from her subordinates instructions she told us of the strange illness that had affected over half of the work-force. Over the course of the last 3 months, the victims bodies had degraded slowly. They had had one death but more importantly not one had ever got better, this slowly destroying the effectiveness of the workforce. The closest the doctor could think of was Radiation poisoning (if only that been true).
With the primitive equipment they had available on the moon – their was no chance for a cure or to even be able to figure out what was wrong!
After spending the next week trundling through every darn pit in the place and finding nothing. We needed a bigger picture. Masters astro-pathed us for a report (I must admit I didn’t show Masters the proper respect with the report, I have of course heard of the astro-paths but to use one is disconcerting). Masters sent funds to do a scan of the area using their consumable surveying equipment and enquired why hadn’t done it earlier.
The Man in the Moon
The survey started with the help of the now very enthusiastic Marcus. After a week we hit what at the time felt like the jack-pot. All the 11 seams met in one central place, this was now our objective. Taking a crew of 50 miners we foolishly dug.
In the centre we found a small ship, after much fretting by Maxim, we made our way inside and started exploring. Thaddeus powered up the doors and the ship using his magglow and we queried it computer. Apparently this ship was:
- From the Golden age – telling my the murals on the wall
- Shot-down and crashed here over 8000 Years ago
- Carrying one passenger in stasis called Balchoth – who was just about to wake up!!!
Running into the passenger hold, we found a sight that will haunt me forever. The room was wrong the moment we entered – the emperor wasn’t in the centre of the mural in its place was another, displayed as a trophy was a Dark Angels head but this all faded as waking up was a juggernaut of depravity armed with ancient power technology and covered in demonic armour.
This was the ultimate test of our faith and I am happy to say every acolyte dealt with it in their own way and over-came their dread at least enough to think. I can’t say the same for the other poor saps who were with us. Jael shot it with the incendary gun, but that only marked its armour, before being pulled out by Thaddeus. I let off a shot to the head at point-blank with my Plasma pistol and that managed even less than Jael’s Mark
We RAN, until we got caught at the scaffolding. Where Blobs came out of the walls and sprung onto the miners, taking them over. The scaffolding wasn’t going to hold for long as its supports were taken out by the possessed and smashed by the quakes. Getting to the top and wrecking the other vehicles we high-tailed it to the mining homebase, finding the astro-paths head had exploded. Thaddus and Maxim repaired the communication enough to send the message ‘Hellfire’ while I repaired the ship and we ran.
We didn’t stop running until we had left orbit where the mine operation crushed in and a huge squid-like creature broke out from the ruin. Its tentacles reached out to space, as it tried to break out from orbit. But then we saw a awe-inspiring sight – A black ship silhouetted against the sun was deploying my favourite child-hood toy – The Thunderhawk gunship. A whole company of the Ghost Raiders had arrived. On the left we looked and Ophelia’s Light swung out.
We couldn’t see anything but cheered as the most awesome firework display started, as Ophelia’s light broad-sided the moon and eradicated the squid. Little did we know that the display was just a sign of our own idiocy.
The Sting in the Tail
When we arrived back on the State of Play – Masters was beyond angry, even Maxim chose to be quiet, as Masters explained how we had fallen into their trap. Ever since the bomber-factory we had been following a fake lead.
We had given away that:
- That we have the Book of the Seven Sisters
- That we have cracked their code
- Our supporters in the Senate and the arbiters
As well as given them 4 weeks unobserved and unhindered on Ostia while we chase a red herring.
Masters grabbed the map and started concentrating and the maps eyes started to bleed but he throws him aside – “Flensing is too good for you, space him”