Annals - Autochtheria

+++Psychiatric Log+++
+++Patient: Husk Radavar+++

[Begin Recording]

Is this thing on?



*scuffling noise*

Frakkin piece of Emperor forsaken techno-babble shit!

*grunt* Eh…

This is Husk Radavar, but you already know that. You quacks asked me to keep a vocal record of whats been going on lately, I dunno, you said something about being able to "assess my disposition" just by listening to me talk for 10 minutes. Whatever, hardly frakkin matters anyway.

*clears throat*

*sound of a lighter striking*

Ahh… better. Now where was I? Oh yeah! So we cleared out of Sinophia Magna, what a shit hole that was. Whole placed outa be burned to a cinder if you asked me. Of course, no one asked me, no one ever does. The rest of the new team are a bunch of asshats and clowns, except for Valtar, I think me and him have an understanding you know? Theres this preacher guy, I think Judas was his name? Bald-headed, bad-tempered, god-bothering sonofabitch, I dunno, walks around like he owns the shop. Frakkin let him for all I care. Then you got this Cog-boy, Dragos or some shit, as bat-shit insane as the resk of his ilk. "Ohh, machine god this. Praise the Omnissiah that" Atleast I can hear him comin from a mile away, bag of bolts… And to top things off, they even teamed me with a frakkin witch. Those freakes give me the god-damned creeps I tell ya. You can just feel 'em, like their souls are damaged goods or something. I mean, I know murderers, theives, assassins, cold-blooded killers like myself. But this guy… Frakkin steering clear of him. Atleast until I figure him out.

*lho-stick drag*

Eh… So yeah, we cleared out of Sinophia, mirror in tow and headed off to Scintilla. Everything was going peachy until we were woken up about 2 weeks too early into hyper-sleep. Frakkin bastards didnt even bring me a drink to start the day. The team went off this way and that, armed to the teeth, all the bells and whistles, anyone woulda thought they expected a war to be on or something. I followed 'em, naturally. We found Golspire talking with some Janissaries, frakkin ice-men those buggers are. Apparently we were forced out of the warp early by the Ordo Malleus, they wanted jurisdiction on the Daemon Mirror, or… Frak, I dunno. Like I said, hadnt even had a drink to start the day. This hobbled old man claiming to be a Malleus Inquistor shows up, with a cohort of cog-boys and tech-heads and starts bagging out old Golspire. Shoulda seen the look on his face! HA! Whats left of it anyway. The Malleus prick, called himself Ahmazzi, took us all to a conference room and started gabbin on about the mirror and the shards and shit. Valtar an I wern't on Sinophia for that little adventure, so we just let the other plebs do the talking. Then this big rust-bucket stands up, claiming authority over the ship cause apparently we're in Mechanicus territory. Golspire tries to argue, but the big guy just shuts him down with a few choice words about Gols' questionable augmetics. If you ask me, I cant tell the difference between one bionic arm and one bionic frakkin dildo. Ahmazzi and the rust-bucket take off to the holds to claim the mirror, and Wrex calls us all together to discuss the situation.

Frakkin hell…

*shuffling sounds*

There ya are. Come here you little beauty

*lighter striking*

So we decided to go down to this Forge World we're in orbit around, try and steal back our masters shit. Belongs in the right hands blah blah blah, couldnt care less if you frakkin paid me in Strank hookers. We steal aboard the Mechanicus vessel that was docked with ours, cutting through an available service entrance. Didn't mind the space-walk, clears ones head you know? I think some of the others took a bit too much 'nothing' in and went a bit green around the gills. Frakkin pussies… Hid in the bilges till we made orbit, then snuck onto a drop-ship dressed as menials. Frakkin Forge Worlds, tech-heads and cog-boys everywhere, clanking and weazing and spilling oils and that frakkin chatter they keep spewing up every 5 god-damned seconds! They're all frakkin loonies! Anyway, we're in the space-port, when we spy a blacked-out drop ship belonging to the mechanicus vessel making its entry. It musta tripped some defence grid, because a pair of Hunter-Killer missiles took that thing apart about 200m above ground. Frakkin spectacular! Things were starting to look up. Then these purple-sparky-fairy frakkin princess's come out of the crowd, all augmetics and corroded parts, more machine than man, making headway for the fallen drop-ship. I wait till their good and close before toasting 4 of the bastards, boiled their bionics into pools of frakkin slag! Caught a few civvies in the cross-fire, but frak, there are no civilians in the battle for survival right? The others make a good account of themselves too I think, Valtar knocked one off defending a chunk of the wreckage, the witch took down this big bastard thing. I think the preacher and the cog-boy got stuck in too, but I couldnt quite see 'em through all the fire.

*long lho-stick drag*

Turns out that piece of wreckage had a box with the frakkin Daemon Mirror in it! We knicked it and headed to the under-city, hid in some abandoned and condemmed hab. The preacher and the witch asked to be left alone with the box, frakkin power to 'em, wont find me consorting with those from beyond the warp. They told Valtar and I to keep watch, which we've been doing for, oh..

*sound of clothes shifting*

20 minutes I guess? Set a trap on the front door too, got bored…

*voices from off-microphone*

What? You twists done in there selling your souls? Hey Valtar! We're heading back to the living room. Where the frak is the off butto-

[Recording Ends]

Sessions 2 + 3

Spotted a black government vehicle lingering around the hab where the daemon box was opened. Established a "safezone" inside the security system of a nearby commercial-district warehouse. Judas and Dragos infiltrate the Auto-cracy offices in the Trade Vanes. They discover the nature of the "Apostates" being religious terrorists against the Omnissiah. Tiberius performs divinations to locate the extremists. They inhabit a ruined land-ship at sublevel 3. Husk almost provokes a firefight with local colonists. The party follows clues deeper into the Core, where they locate the Apostate fortress suspended over a slickfall. The party is accepted as skilled recruits to the cause and are allowed to examine the "holy relics" - the Eggs stolen from the shuttle wrecks. One cannot be opened - the other contains an old team-mate, Dr Dante Cyprus. The team question Dante and discover; a) Daemonhunter Amahzzi is interested in the Deamon's nature and history b) he is searching for further relics of the Daemon c) the Daemon is merely "pinned" to this reality rather than trapped - it is too powerful to be fully contained. The team puts Dante into an artificial coma, and resume the ruse of membership in the Apostates. Before long, they discover that the Autocracy has followed them to the fortress, and have begun an attack. Lower members of the cult are found ground up in the city's giant internal cog-work. When the attack stalls, Preceptor Orichalcum orders that the fortress be blasted off it's supports and sunk in the Oil. The team fights a running battle through the innards of the Fortress, escaping just as the cables are cut and the whole structure is drowned below the Falls. Tiberius remains behind to kill the psychic pursuers. He kills several of her guards, and wounds her, but dies in the return volley.

Session 4
Recordings subpoenaed into evidence in the Trial of [CENSORED] at [CENSORED] the [CENSORED] [CENSORED] matter of [CENSORED] [Transcript] - Dr Dante Cyprus

My Lord Golspire. Since my release from the clutches of our most unpleasant Ordo Malleus counterparts, I have come to learn a great deal in respect to their goals and affairs. I must report that the cost has been high – the Acolyte Primus Judas Refaire was killed last night in a vicious battle. Another man, a mysterious adept whom I do not doubt was your agent, has also succumbed to a violent death in the course of this mission. Yet might the cost be proportionate to importance of the venture? We shall see.

My Lord Golspire, despite the cost, this may be a career making find. Evidence here is of a deep seated corruption reaching to the very pinnacle of the Ordos structure. Inquisitor Requa Ahmazzi, favored servant of the Lord Malleus Calixis himself, is deeply enmeshed in the affairs of the House of Haarlock – despite his assurances to the Lord’s Cainan and Zerbe that his investigations centered on a Tzeentchian cult in the Mandragoran Reaches. It is my belief that Ahmazzi has taken a step over the precipice into Radicalism. Forgive the term my Lord, as I know it is one that has been unfairly ascribed to your honored self –I refer to the sort of Radicalism which no true servant of the Emperor forgives. I am building a case that will prove it; at every turn we find more hints of his apostacy. Allow me to give account of the tragic events leading to Judas’ death – they provide context to my fears.

The Acolytes had followed a lead into the depths of the Tectostructure. Opening the final Stasis Cube had revealed a heartbreaking figure – a young Null, crudely and severely lobotomized for use as a sort of living container field for nefarious artifacts. It clutched an arcane tome, whose writings, though indecipherable to me, we recognizably a debased sub-gothic. The Acolytes struck upon the idea of pursuing the language to its root culture – a primordial tribe of pre-omnissian humans. They requisitioned equipment and information and set off on an expedition to locate the tribe close to the “True-Earth” – the planet’s actual surface. Hitching a ride down a boredrill site, they travelled for some hours before encountering a smuggling ring run by a man named Amos. He led them to a Mutant settlement called Heartbeat City, which sat upon the former tribal capital. They met with a rumor-monger named Zeus, who sent them to a hermit living beneath a plasma disused reactor. He revealed the following;

• The Daemon of the mirror is the tribes’ original deity. It was called the Voice from Below, a knowledge beast.

• To protect their god from the encroaching Imperials, the tribesmen hid its “true essence” in a place called the Barrows. – ref Adamantium Librarium Vaults?

• Authoctheria was actually discovered by Solomon Haarlock, contrary to Imperial histories. The tribe makes reference to “the Old Spider” dressed in gold, descending from sky-chariots and giving gifts in exchange for ritual tomes. The star charts included in the volume place the date at roughly 100M39 – several centuries before its settlement by the Cult Mechanicus! It’s a truly historic discovery that – well I realize it’s beside the point my Lord, forgive my distraction.

• Erasmus Haarlock himself had returned to Autoctheria ten years before his disappearance. It is my suspicion that he found the Daemon’s true essence and captured it for questioning. We are still unsure of his purpose.

• The Wealth of Haarlocks estate on this planet was concealed in his forefather’s fortress – a place obliquely referred to in the tome as “the Spider’s Nest “. Its location is not mentioned.

Their victory was short-lived however. The Apostates had arrived at Heartbeat City – possibly by means of some sort of massive tunneling machine. The tribespeople attributed it to “Wyrmquake” a sickness of their planet’s body. Several Apostate cultists had activated vast machines, powered by the ground meat and bones of humans. They had an affect not dissimilar to the Silicus Anima Wave, animating the dead flesh with a limited sort of possession. The spirits could not maintain their form once the machines were destroyed. The Cell engaged in combat, which triggered what I believe to have been a trap. Upon activating his psychic powers, your Scintillan agent was immediately possessed. An unbound daemonhost manifested from his corpse, setting the area aflame. It took the form of a humanoid body, composed entirely of oil-slicked limbs. It lashed out with its’ powers and immediately fatally wounded Judas. It is my professional opinion that it was sent there by malefic powers for that specific purpose. Judas appeared to blur in some way as occult forces acted upon him. Blood spat from his nose and pores and he collapsed. Yet that was not the end of him. Though his skin was blistering and sloughing, Judas managed a last great effort in his holy work. As the creature turned to destroy Dragos (I note, the second most senior Acolyte present), Judas hauled himself back into the fray. He plunged his blessed chainblade deep into its torso, blasting barbed fingers and smoking fluid back down the borehole. Both forms plunged into its endless depth, grappling to their last fatal moment. The Daemon’s vital fluids were left aflame in the form of a blazing aquilla where the fatal blow was dealt.

Radavar has not been seen since he fled the scene at the borehole. At our last communication, the Cell had retreated to Heartbeat City to plan their next move. I will work to divine the truth behind the business of these daemons. There is a conspiracy here- and I mean to root it out. That concludes today’s account. May the Emperor guide the souls of his fallen servants.

Session 5
+++[Subpoenaed evidence cont;] - Dr Dante Cyprus

After the battle of Heartbeat City, Kill Cell Iscariot was once again sorely depleted. Secutor Dragos was determined to persevere with the mission, and turned his mind to the challenge of reaching the Daemon’s true essence. Though some time was spent in search for Husk Radavar, he could not be found. Somewhere in the darkness bellow the capital, he may have spent his last breath. As for myself, I hold hope that he yet lives.

Dragos and Firenze retired to the Watering Hole, the Cell undertook to strategize with their allies Amos and Zeus. Over a glass of rotgut scotch, they were introduced to a pair of specialists - operatives with skills to aid in the next phase of the mission. Nathaniel “Bull” Bullock and Executor Cassius joined the effort to gain entry to the vaults of forbidden knowledge known as the Barrows. Nathaniel and Amos laid out a plan for a train job; the Cell would perform a tactical insertion, seize control of a controlled-cargo train, and gain covert entry to the deep freeze. To give effect to their plans, they would need information.

With the help of the smuggling ring, the Cell was returned to the central Tectochamber. They collected Dante and the Stasis Cubes and moved into a safehouse kept by Bullock in the middle city. Cassius was able to coordinate a data heist at the central control station of the Rail Department. Posing as a maintenance crew, the Cell wrangled access to the relevant datatowers, hacking the valuable info right under the noses of the watchful security forces. I am told some masterful deception was done. Regrettably, a number of bystanders were necessarily sacrificed as distractions and scapegoats.

+++Ref attached [CCTV footage of civilian “disciplinary action” No 343, Security Outpost A6] [Demotion report - Supervisory Security Coordinator Jarrah – redistributed to Serf grade designation]

Having located the Gravtrain, the Cell asked me to engineer a means attain entry. They called in a favor to secure the materials, which left aside some rather satisfactory bits and bobs from which I have been constructing myself new limbs. Using my design the Secutor and Executor were able to fabricate a pair of bungee chute-harnesses which would absorb the impact of the bullet trains momentum. They could then freely rappel down the line onto the train’s roof.

The operation was a success. Dragos and Nathaniel fired the hooks from an overhanging bridge in an isolated industrial district. The party gained a forceful surprise entry and overwhelmed the train’s armed protectors by funnelling them into a kill-zone. Firenze’s powersword set a part of the carriage, and most of his enemies fatally ablaze. The final blow was dealt by Cassius in a devastating lasvolley. After neutralizing the guards, Dragos blew the connection to the damaged carriage. The Cell released their chutes with a valuable cargo of designs and artefacts for the use of their Heartbeat allies. They then took the long journey into the deep freeze.

Below the city lay the Barrows – an ancient stonework castle whose frozen archways were flanked by carven figures of Omminssian saints. The castle was held suspended in an infinite black abyss, guarded by a blind Monastic order. To the Party’s surprise, there was no evidence of modern technology present; merely clockwork bronze and moss-covered stone. By deciphering a set of strange hieroglyphics, the Cell unlocked a rotating runic doorway to the deepest of vaults. At the very bottom they found the Voice of the Earth.

I am given to understand that the technology containing the creature is rather beyond the most modern innovations of the Mechanicus today. It was described to me as something akin to magic. A sacrifice of vital fluid was made to awakeN the Daemon. It fountained like a jet of oil from a deep black pool, strange featured creatures writhing in it’s depths. Some debate was held by the Cell as to the wisdom of dealing with such a creature – as it spoke though, each found reason to listen. It is my belief that very little of this is attributable to the known seductive effect of chaos. The Beast - unlike it’s more simplistic offspring the Mirror fragment - was a cool and logical presence, finding the words to convince each person present.

It freely gave the information we sought, revealing Ahmazzi’s interest in Haarlock, Orichalcum’s interest in the Spider’s Nest and critically, the imminent return of the “Traveller”. Apparently Haarlock had prepared a secret chamber on Autoctheria’s lunar satellite, a place to which he could “freely step from whatever dark place he has dwelt these past decades”. I take particular note of the fact that even a major daemonic deity could not predict the exact time of his return. The imputation I suppose, is that Haarlock has reached such a mastery of warp and archeotech that he is literally beyond the gaze of the gods. Though we have long speculated on this matter, it is clear that the Old Spider represents the most powerful sorcerer and tech heretic to threaten this sector in a generation. In my view, should the prophesised return occur, a Conclave of expert Inquisitorial Lords should be convened to deal with him.

The Acolytes were offered an insight into the matter. The Voice made reference to the slipperiness of certain facts; it claimed that some secrets could slide from a listeners mind if they did not have a perfect understanding of it. "I could tell you the truth of all this, little mortal - but you would have forgotten every word by the time you reached the antechamber." In pursuit of perfect understanding then, each member of the Cell was convinced to step through an inky portal. I was shocked to hear of what lay within.

+++[entry ends]

Session 6
+++[Subpoenaed evidence cont;]

The Cell fell into a black sea of oil, dragged down by the weight of their equipment. They surfaced, apparently, 1800 years in the past. So it appeared at any rate.

Before I go any further, it is probably necessary to expand on some simple Gellar Theory. It will make the subsequent discussions easier to follow.

I recall that when I was nineteen, in my 5th year of Scholam, Acretia lent me a scientific journal penned by Albert Eisenstein – a leading scholar and Lord Inquisitor of the long-vanished Ordo Chronos. At the time I never questioned how she obtained it – I was a voracious reader – but I now suspect that she stole it from his descendants. Apparently it had sat unremarked in a storage crate for many years. Anyway – He described the flow of time as a finely woven ribbon. At either end, threads explode in every conceivable direction; the unknowable chaos of the future, the obscurity of the past. The threads represent the energy of souls on the mortal plane. Such energy is inherently stable due to its interaction with the physical realm; the interaction between threads creates a stable construct – that is- a steady flow of time.

The relationship between time and the Warp is little understood, and is a matter for a later date – I recall that I wrote a monogram on the topic in my 6th year. What is important is this – the Voice in the Earth had access to the splayed threads of the past. It is by no means time-travel; more alike to an interactive fragment of memory or hallucination. But the events are “real” insofar as the Cell could easily have “died” – either stranded forever in the endless loop at the end of an extinct timeline, or simply dropped whole into the Warp. Equally, if they attempted to change events so much that the bubble reality could not accommodate, the thread would have dissolved to the same effect. I dread to think what would have happened to them if anyone tried to kill Solomon Haarlock.

The first vision was of Sleef – at that time a verdant, forested world. The outermost planet in the Sector, it was the first to feel the tread of Imperial boots. The party found themselves in the role of mercenaries employed by Haarlock to explore the planet, and discovered a strange culture of alien refugees. Led by the Daemon in the form of a raven, the party investigated a strange makeshift city constructed out of rubble. The population, which appeared to be slowly rotting, were in fact a disguised alien lifeform currently uncatalogued in Ordo records. They took the form of a strange, viscous, oil-like substance, and were capable of living inside other organisms like parasites. The process apparently degenerates the host however; they were unmasked when the party happened upon a stockpile of dead flesh. They revealed that their race was fleeing an ancient terror from outside the known galaxy. They described it as the “Death of a Thousand Worlds” or simply “The Traveler” and called Haarlock it’s Herald. Haarlock was more interested in the deity they described – a font of unlimited knowledge. I believe this is the first allegorical reference to the Voice of the Earth.

The fragment of time dissolved when Haarlock discovered the machine the aliens used to empty the soul from the host bodies. My research suggests that Haarlock later undertook an extermination of that race. Current day Sleef is a lifeless rock, bearing a naval beacon warning of dangerous Warp radiation levels.

The next fragment took place deep within a temple of Balthomael. Unfortunately, the Cell did not manage to discover their precise location, as I believe it may have been the site of Balthomael’s origins. The Malleus would give much for that that information. They did discover that they were on Scintilla, indeed they witnessed it’s naming.

Haarlock was able to drag the souls of the temple’s dead guardians back to their bodies, using a crystal chalice to collect the black soul-fluid. The party interrogated the fallen priests, learning that the walkers of Ambulon were the offspring of the Voice. Balphomael himself was a simplistic creature. Enraged at being summoned without a blood sacrifice, it unleashed a pack of fleshless dog-daemons on the party. Haarlock performed a powerful counter-ritual, allowing their easy destruction. Balphomael finally submitted, revealing the location of Ambulon.

The fragment dissolved again, dropping the Cell on an insertion aboard legendary Ambulon, the walking city. They infiltrated its halls to discover the secrets of its manufacture. As they escaped with a cache of critical data however, they ran across a culture of techno-barbarians already negotiating with the Mechanicus Cult. The diplomatic party included a bright young Tech-Adept named Orichalcum. Displaying his famous intemperance, Haarlock fired the lances of his Cruiser to destroy all trace of his search. The smallest installation, Ambulon 6, avoided his notice. We now know why there is only one remaining Ambulon walker.

It is now clear that Haarlock’s search across the stars was started by his famous ancestor. By harnessing the technology of an alien race in exile, now extinct at his hand, Haarlock Snr was able to distill the essence of a living being in a black liquid form. I am concerned by the implication – this would be an unprecedented tool in the persecution of high-level sorcery. Though given his easy mastery of Balthomael - perhaps the Sector’s most infamous Daemon -that much should be evident. We also know that "The Traveler", though now used to refer to Erasmus, is in fact an entity older than the family. It exists in xenos folklore, a primordial destroyer. I wonder at the meaning of this revelation; is Haarlock himself become the Traveler, object of prophecy? Or was this creature the object of his search? What use could he have of such a thing, being no worshipper of chaos? And what part does the Voice in the Earth play? So much revealed, yet more questions arise. Even as instructive as these visions were, what the party learned next was to be more remarkable still.

+++[entry ends]

+++[final entry]

Left behind, as I was, in the hostile capital of Autochtheria, I felt that I ought to offer as much assistance to my more combat able- comrades as I was able. As their absence wore on, I saw to the construction of a more suitable chassis, in order that I might be restored, at least, to some semblance of mobility. To maintain the security of the Mirror and Tome, I secreted the Cryo-Eggs away in concrete beneath the warehouse where we had made our temporary home. I also falsified an injunctive order restricting traffic in and out of the district; it kept the area clear of civilians for several months as the matter progressed through court.

I recall that some days after the Acolytes had departed on their mission to hijack the bullet-train, I began to despair of their return. Nevertheless, the case remained unsolved, and there was, I reasoned, one servant of the Ordos yet alive in the tecto-city. I began my inquiry afresh in the restricted section at the State Datacore. My latest lead was the revelation that the Haarlock family had settled and built here long before the arrival of the Mechanicus. This seemed a worthy starting point. Indeed, I was rewarded immediately, and to my lasting astonishment. Within a few hours of settling into my research, I had recovered a reproduction of a painting in which the artist had captured, replete with uncomprehending expressions, the image of my 4 missing companions stepping onto the surface of Sleef, alongside Solomon Haarlock Snr … circa M39 201. My shock was compounded, as it became clear that throughout his life, Solomon had been accompanied by 4 unnamed staff, including a mechanical giant, an inscrutable swordsman, an emissary and a gunslinger. Yet they seemed only to appear at moments of distinct importance, like the breaking of The Red Host and the Grounding of the Oscillator. The concept of ‘time-travel’ had always seemed to me an absurdity, product of the most ridiculous science-fiction; yet I recall the words of my late mentor Acretia Vane – “when all logical possibilities have been ruled out, one must turn to the impossible, or supernatural, to find the truth”. It was clear to me that somehow, my companions were fighting a campaign across the pages of history, leaping from event to event in pursuit of our mission.

It is recorded by the Adeptus Arbite that 4 mysterious strangers rescued Elphias Marr from an assassination attempt in M39 900, shortly before burgling his mansion’s library. I discovered a report describing the rescue of a 6 year old Anton Zerbe from a suspicious fire in M41 566. Later the same year, Amahzzi met the future Preceptor Orichalcum, when they were assigned the same classes at the Schola Progenum on Kalf; I have examined copies of the allocation documents, and am impressed at the quality of the forgery. In M41 210, the Malfian Cult of Styfe was purged by Battle Sisters of the Shrouded Martyr, shortly before the planetfall of a fresh-faced Interrogator, Wrex Golspire . The Sister Superior writes that she had been guided to the site of their headquarters by a dream; I recovered a vox ghost from the directory of the Convent’s servitor staff, programming them to emit a subvocalisation containing several addresses connected to the Cult.

I had followed their trail from one century to the next, spinning out a vast mosaic of fortuitous accidents and mysterious benefaction leading the Calixis Sector inexorably down the ages towards the moment, I sensed, that Haarlock would return. Perplexingly, they left much tragedy and death intact; they nudged and adjusted the smallest events to avert seemingly harmless meetings and decisions. Perceptibly, their goal was the preservation of significant figures in the Ordos Calix. I believed at that time that they had discovered a pattern, a unique confluence of events which would engender a future in which Haarlock could be defeated. I imagined an engineered future, a conspiracy of circumstance that would undo the Dark Traveller before he could reap his revenge. In some respects I would prove to be right, save that I had misguessed at the architect.

The final piece of the puzzle fell into place some 6 months after the Acolyte’s disappearance. By chance, I uncovered a scrap of observation by the renowned Remebrancer Chee; he remarked upon Erusmus Haarlock’s peculiar boyhood affection for Autochtheria’s moon. Indeed, I learned later that he had named his daughter after the satellite. I could not imagine that it was coincidence that Solomon Haarlock had also made first footfall, not on the planet but on the lunar body. It seems Orichalcum was seized by a similar insight; he departed that morning to oversee a large scale excavation of it’s surface. That morning, a madman approached me in the streets. He raved at me, but in a brief moment of coherency, intoned in a hideous voice;

“I have imagined, in the very corner of my eye; a winged and laughing Thing. Appearing man and creature both, it seems to me composed of joyous, vicious rage. This is he, by beating drum, that slouch t’ward birth by light of black sun.”

My chrono chimed thirteen times and cracked. Riots broke out a few hours later. I knew that time had turned against me. I stowed away aboard a shuttle, carrying with me an Imperial salvation beacon. I was vindicated in the hope that Golspire would be waiting in orbit; he descended upon the moon accompanied by a ‘diplomatic party’ of 5 thousand Imperial Guardsmen. As we moved to capture the maverick Preceptor, the surface of the moon began to break up, revealing immense clockwork workings. The skies of Autochtheria darkened with storms, and a battle was fought to reach the Excavation site. At the end, we found the Acolytes in a pool of black fluid, before an immense, broken mirror. I could not be sure that my own reflection looked back from its spoiled surface. I fancied that I saw a raven alight upon my shoulder, but it was gone when I looked again. Having heard my comrades’ tale, I can no longer doubt that they have served the ambition of this creature, the Voice in the Earth. When we returned to to the pool we found it’s cradle empty. This may be the closest thing to a complete account of their journey; as the minutes past, so too did their memories slide from their minds. They were left only with the sound of mocking laughter and the sensation of drowning. In the wake of the attack, the Ordos withdrew from the Forge World, chased to the boundaries of Mechanicus space by a vengeful Skitari fleet. Orichalcum lays dead, somewhere in the void.

I stand by my earlier thesis; the Voice, the Mirror Daemon, was not an inherently evil thing. It was however, intensely selfish, powerful, full of wrath towards Haarlock and uncaring of the misery wrought in order to obtain its revenge. It sought to corrupt and manipulate, to a purpose so alien to our own as to be comparable to evil. Yet indisputably, it had tugged the strings of past and future lives in order to engineer events in conspiracy against the Traveler. By its artifice, we are furnished with that last clue to solve the puzzle; poor, dead Cassius held the answer in his scorched cerebral implant.

“As you were, you shall be again. The key turns, and all will be returned. Haarlock seeks the Blind Tessaract.”

I am informed that cursed Mara is our destination. God-Emperor help us.

+++[journal concludes]

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