Mission Log

Codename Market Entry Protocol

Gallus Dolor Mission Log.

Entry A:

The call to serve has come once again and the Emperor's servants are compelled to answer. The events on Kreutz had left me bitter and a want to prove myself to Vulpus since first meeting him has settled heavily upon my mind. The man himself was impressive, an ideal balance of fatherly affection and the cold calculation of an Inquisitorial agent. My mission bag in tow I board the Frigate Taurus in high orbit above Tigress. My new allies, whom I am informed have come from much further afar than myself, stand idly in our quarters. Icharus Ventium I recognise from the previous work with the Inquisitor we shared, although he had since replaced his missing limb. He puffed calmly on his Lho but I know behind his apparent ease was sharp mind and well worn trigger finger. Besides him sits in a man in massive furs, the clothes beneath which surprisingly fine considering the outer garment. He wears a chainsword upon one hip and a chainblade the other, a strange combination for a duelist (as his dossier identifies him) but he wears them as if they belong there. He gives me a warriors shake as I enter in a sign of greeting, giving his name with some flourish as Edrik von Hellstrom. The final figure I barely notice, his blue robes almost camouflaging him with the blue-grey of the ship walls. He sits in the corner and seems to take in the entire room with a single glance, his piercing eyes picking up every detail almost subconsciously as he fingers the fine blade upon his hip. Our greetings complete we are led by a ship's Ensign to a comms centre, where the shimmering holo-form of Inquisitor Vulpus is beginning to form. True to form the Inquisitor wastes no time and introduces us to our destination, the jungle world of Fervious.

Data Packet Loading…

DESTINATION - FERVIOUS

1.jpg

Reference 1.1
Only settled world in the Fervious system
Imperial Classification: Feral World
Culture: Savage/Feudal
Population Level Unknown. Approximated at 600,000,000
Tithe Class; 50 year rotations, Agricultural/Chemical. Rubber, Lumbar (Heartwood), Anesthetics.

Other Notes:

  • Frontier level technology
  • Dangerous local fauna.
  • Overdue for Tithe Ship/Black Ship visit.

This public record of Fervious is supplemented by a data packet transferred to my data-slate detailing the elements of Fervious that are not common knowledge. It is unofficially accepted that Fervious might once have become a great agriculture power in the region, had the Adeptus Mechanicus not completely abandoned it some decades past. Apparently the locals slighted the Mechanicus in some way and have since completely lost their support, slipping back to a near Feral world with a tiny tithe. In the past 10 years the tithe has been overdue, an investigation into which has revealed the same backhanded legal manipulation that caused Kreutz to be blanketed under ash for so long. Just as the terraforming of Kreutz was delayed to help the cult of the Archoform to find the Thule before orbital interference was cleared so too is Fervious' return to the Imperial tithe being delayed. The same conglomerate - Hett-Forge - now contests the rights of passage through a Mechanicus system that cuts nearly 6 months off the Tithe-Ship journey. Of course, the legal battle over their injunction will take years to conclude. The method has worked before. That they have used it again is our connection. How the Inquisitor picked it out from thousands of incidents in the sector I do not know. The Inquisitor has been on Graff Priori's tail for several years, so he would best know the signs of the heretic's handiwork.


Entry 1:

+In our roughly two weeks aboard the Tauros I look over the case files from Kreutz, Icharus using his trained eye to assist me. The cleanup had gone well, the entire moon brought back under Imperial control by the Tigress PDF landing en masse. I am surprised to read that House Krin has not been brought with any formal charges. Apparently their part in the whole affair was "circumstantial", although I believe they were not nearly the unknowing pawn they had apparently claimed to be. Attached also is a data pack on The Passage of Thule, the lost ship that seemed to be the goal of the cult on Kreutz.

The Passage of Thule:
Owner: [RESTRICTED], Mandragoran Mechanicus
Ship Designation: Gigacruiser, Mandragoran Alpus Shipyards
Additional Information: Went through the sector 800 years ago but never stopped. Apparently was attempting to gain a crusade fleet or flotilla due to it's semi-religious importance ['Thule' being a saint of the Mechanicus].
Operation was funded by key shipping and agricultural interest in the region, The Cestelle Alliance. Cestelle also have interests on Fervious.

+In our time on board we also secure some items of interest, the Inquisitor having set up an account in our names. We are informed of this by none other than Doc Enoch, the medicae we saved on Kreutz. He looked fresh faced and happy compared to when I saw him last. He greets me as an old friend. Our robed psyker, Marius Wolfe, acquires a mono-edging for his naval blade from the ship's quartermaster, although the armourer refuses to apply the edge without additional costs. I offer to assist him, earning some of Marius' trust as I apply the upgrade to his fine blade. In the under markets of the ship I acquire a localised forgery kit at discount price, the up to date codes and chips should help us access what civilisation remains on Fervious without incident. I do however receive a complaint from the ship's quartermaster about the swordsman Edrik causing a fuss when a blacksmith would not re-pommel his chainsword. I must remember to remind him of the surreptitious nature of our business on Fervious.

+Our arrival in the Fervious system is abrupt, as Warp jumps are wont to be. We quickly ready ourselves in the orbit-breaker the Inquisitor had purchased for our use. Despite my hopes, it seems the Warp has thrown off our arrival time. With roughly 12 hours of travel, we will arrive mid-morning. We have a brief discussion in which Icharus questions why Doc is coming with us before our servitor, 'Hijack', takes us out of the shuttle bay and towards Fervious. Hours later a green dot in the far distance becomes visible and in the coming hours it grows and grows until the lush jungle world fills the entire front viewport of the small lander. We punch through the upper atmosphere, the verdant mass of Fervious rising to meet us. As we scan for a place to secure and hide the lander, we receive an unexpected vox transmission. Apparently the planet sill had functional atmospheric scanners. The voice on the other end identifies itself as 'Swordpoint Space Port' and rather abruptly questions our intentions here and names, to which I respond by answering falsely to both. There is a pause in contact and the link drops off, before we are cleared and invited to land. However, warning klaxons fire to life, warning of a missile lock. Hijack does his best, weaving through the jungle valleys and mountains of the planet, but the missiles followed us at every turn. Realising we can’t break the lock, we load up with grav packs and haul ourselves out of the back of the ship towards Fervious’ green sprawl.

+I see the rest of the squad out before I jump, trying to calculate their trajectories even as I fall myself. I should have perhaps paid more attention, as I failed to deploy the pack in time and roughly land after it’s emergency override deploys. Pride damaged but alive, we reestablish vox contact and set off to hike towards the crash site. Hijack had continued evading after we dropped, but was hit cleanly with a missile and was not responding to our hails. At the crash site we find the servitor heavily damaged and near death. A quick memory and navigation wipe and a manufactured electrical fire should hopefully distance us from the ship when the site is eventually found. We strip a survival kit from the wreck and continue off into the jungle.
1%20-%20crash.jpg
[Pict Cap: Crash-site. (Hijack, our loyal servitor, died on impact)]

+Luckily Icharus spotted a settlement not far off as he fell, and he leads us through the forest towards it. Fervious is a tangled mass of vines, foliage and temperate trees, almost impossibly diverse and difficult to navigate. Camping for the night we hear roars and hoots off in the forest, giving an additional edge to the weary sense of danger that hangs over our situation. It takes us nearly a day to reach the first sign of civilisation, a high arched bridge across a fast running river. Atop the bridge sit a group of men, armed in the banded armour of Fervious and wielding worn M36 Lasguns. Beneath the bridge hangs a rough painted banner: A circle split horizontally into red and yellow. After a few minutes of observation we approach them, seeing up close that their armour seems to be stylised Imperial Guard flak armour. The identify themselves as ‘Sanctionaries’, a common name of feral or feudal worlds for militia sponsored by the ruling power. We share some rations with the men in return for some local tabac and begin to talk casually with them. They accept our story about being wandering warriors, which Edrik refers to as “Ronin” and the locals call “Bloodless" or "Grey Warriors”. The men claim to serve a Lord Taijing and give us directions to the next town along the road.

+Around an hour later we reach the aforementioned settlement, Cherryholm is a small rural village at the centre of which stands a large Imperial style cathedral. This seemingly idyllic village is marred by the heavy watchtower at the village outskirts, where a flak armoured guard sits behind a mounted heavy stubber and scans the surrounding forest. On the watchtower sits a larger version of the earlier flag, now visible as the banner of the Cestelle Alliance [dossier attached]. We are guided towards the local Warrior’s Lodge, apparently a travel house of sorts for non-locals. Those giving the information eye wearily our offworld clothes and the chainblades Edrik carries. We find the lodge to be none other than the chapel, outside which a small crowd was gathering. A priest was standing before the crowd, lecturing in High Gothic a sermon that I doubt any of the locals could understand. Nevertheless they grasp their icons of worship and nod along under the watchful eye of a dozen women in heavy plate armour. The women carry on their backs the infamous Fervious Longsabre and have the appearance of Ecclesiastical sisters. They introduce themselves as ‘Swordwives’ and some brief questioning both allow us access to the Lodge and information on their order, apparently a descendent of Sororitas who landed here centuries ago.

+Our entry into the lodge is interrupted as Marius flinches and turns to us. He simply states, “violence is coming” before walking off towards the outskirts of town. Mere moments later I get a scent of burning wood and see a half dozen figures dashing down the central avenue towards us. The appeared to be local men, disheveled and covered in warpaint. They shot wildly with antique autoguns while lobbing burning brands in the roofs of buildings. Edrik draws blades while Icharus and I start snapping off las-shots at the saboteurs. Marius points at the lead raider and makes a fist, the man’s head and upper torso crushed to a bloody pulp. He casts out a hand towards the rest of us, and we all begin to flicker somehow, our position masked by psychic distortions. A formation of Grox-riders are thundering down the muddy street towards us, but as we melt into cover, their charge falters. Icharus is quick on the draw, shredding the tightly-packed riders from their saddles with a blast of scattershot. As their formation breaks up, he pumps out shots that cut them apart.

Contact Report:

  • Enemy Forces: Miscellaneous forces numbering 12 [6 Saboteurs, 6 Cavalry]
  • 11 Enemy Deceased. One Saboteur escaped, one in Swordwife custody.
  • Ammunition expenditure: [Low]
  • Casualties: Light wounds.

Edrik chases the fleeing saboteur into the jungle as the townsfolk and Brides turn to us. Not in gratitude however but fear and anger, the locals having noticed Marius’ psychic nature during the attack. Icharus and I attempt to talk down the Sisters and manage to convince them that we are transporting the psyker to the capital for punishment but the locals will have none of it, and summarily chase us out of town.

+Edrik contacts us, having lost his quarry in the green maze, and we establish a rendezvous point. After another night in the jungle we make our way to the next settlement in the area, downriver from our current position, Snowfall.
settlement.jpg
[Pict Cap: Snowfall, outermost settlement of House Taijing and the Cestelle Alliance]

+Snowfall is once again owned by the Taijing family and is larger and more urban than any other settlements we've seen on world. Warriors in red or grey walk the streets with swords of all sizes while serfs skitter between them. Outside the noble’s compounds stoically stand men in green cloth and body enclosing armour that seems to be made of bone. Unlike the rifles of the militia or the swords of the warriors these men seem to be armed with ceremonial glaives. At the local Warrior’s Lodge the matron identifies these men as Gardeners, the noble guards. It would seem the colour red identifies a warrior who serves a lord, while grey or black means a commoner. We get rooms in the Lodge and set about purchasing items in the local market place. Marius and Edrik go to the local blacksmith to purchase some less exotic weaponary while I purchase local clothing in the commoners grey. The others follow my lead and purchase some clothing and weapons so as to blend in a bit more.

+Edrik however balanced his subtle purchases with a flamboyant display of archaic bravado, stepping in to defend the matron of our Lodging when some local roughs besmirch her honour. A duel commences between Edrik and the man and both draw blades. A low-tech blade is far lighter than Edrik is used to working with and it takes him a few blows to get warmed up, even taking a deep wound to the arm, but eventually he cuts cleanly through the challengers leg. Claiming his blade as a trophy Edrik sets off to the nearby sparring yard to learn to use his new weapons while the rest of us settle into the lodge for the first good rest we have had in days.


Entry 2:

+While we are keen to continue on towards the spaceport we are weary of doing so without more information on the potential conspiracy here. With this in mind we endeavour to stay in Snowfall for a few more days to get a lay of the land, so to speak. Edrik uses his connection with Phirenze, the local mercenary, to acquire a job in his company. Hopefully whilst out in the countryside he can gather some information from his fellow warriors. Icharus wanders amongst the locals, gathering information like only a seasoned Arbite detective can, whilst Marius and I try to find a data-node for me to access. Unfortunately the only administratum building in the town also serves as the Imperial Guard garrison and the telepathic relay. This easier line of investigation denied we get rooms at a local private lodging and settle in for a longer play. While Marius and Icharus do the rounds with the locals I try and scout the local library for information.

Investigation:
Canvass: Icharus Ventium & Marius Wolfe: Snowfall Market District
Snowfall Town, Fervious

  • Nearby town of Jewel is reasonable for us to come from; Imperial bloodlines intermix with locals there.
  • Some locals are unhappy about the opulence of the church and nobles, while the serfs work harder and harder to meet their demands.
    • Local serfs are wondering why nobles are immune to Harvest. Church is holy but nobles are not, in their eyes.
    • Nobles have burnt down a holy tree two towns over.
      • Apparently this tree is of grave importance to the local traditions and religions. The locals are emotionally destitute at it's destruction.
  • Some unrest about the Church's increase in Harvest (Tithe) demands
    • Discrepancies between scripture and the Church's behaviour have been noted by commoners
    • Rumours the Church, who set Harvest levels, are controlled or influenced by an "Oracle".
    • The tithe is not being collected by the Imperium, so why is the Church increasing the amount they are taking.
      • Furthermore, where are they taking it and for what purpose.

After being rebuffed for an entire day I gain access to the House Taijing library and set myself on their data-stacks for the remainder of our time in town.

Investigation:
Data-Stack search: Gallus Dolor: House Taijing Librarium
Snowfall Town, Fervious

  • Political Powers on Fervious:
    • Lord Governor: Patriarch of Taijing Family. 'Edo'
    • Leader of Castelle Alliance on world: Forestries Minister, sister of the Lord Governor. 'Emiline'
    • Quartermaster General: Workers representative. 'Balon'
  • Tithes:
    • Based on seasonal divinations and meditations.
    • Tithe has increased past the required amount since it's isolation.
      • Now closer to that of an agri-world, a change that seems deliberately manufactured.
    • World hasn't been resupplied since the last tithe ship.

+Edrik returns from his hunt midway through Marius’ morning meditations, a routine he has picked up since being in town. While the psyker sits peacefully Edrik regales us with his tale. The beasts he was sent to hunt, called “Ogres” by the locals, he describes as huge scaled and multi-eyed beasts. He set off from Snowfall two days prior, joining a party of grey-armoured warriors in advance of a highblood safari party. Nobles from banking house Mori, courtesan house Shingen, and of course, the ruling warrior-house Taijing, enjoyed the journey above Fervious' dense, misted forest from the comfort of their Sky-Yachts. It would appear these men, armed with fine, antique needle-rifles, engaged these hunts for sport and prestige, using the local mercs in a similar function to hunting hounds on other worlds. Edrik tells the tale of his personal defeat of an Ogre, while the nobles killed the other two. He is obviously exaggerating his story slightly but based on his wounds and the look of respect he is getting from sellswords in town I believe at least some part is true. In the creatures cave, while the mercs were destroying the Ogre eggs, Edrik claims to have found a corpse, which had been reduced to ash; ash that I recognize as the same narcotic substance as we found on Kreutz. The Ogres had apparently been consuming the necro/narcosubstance, and although we consider trying to track the creatures back to the corpse’s origin we dismiss this option as too difficult. After I touch the ash with bare skin I experience strong euphoria before a crippling down of extreme fear and horror. Unfortunately though the drug brings me no revelations and we decide to head for Swordpoint spaceport after all.

+We gather our gear and purchase rations and riding grox for the journey. After Marius offers to teach me the sword while we are traveling I purchase a sword, a local sabre of a fine quality. It is unseemly for me to not know how to use a blade so I hope to be proficient by the end of this investigation. It would appear that while hiring a guide for the journey Edrik had picked up a young urchin to carry his things, a position the swordsman refers to as a ‘blade-squire’. We travel for many days through the thick forests of Fervious, grey ruins from the planet’s prime littered amongst the verdant mass of the jungle.
shortcut_by_takumer-d5isdyv.jpg
[Pict Cap: The Cadre depart Snowfall in a Grox-convoy, bound West for Swordpoint.]

+As night drew to a close on our fifth day on the road as we spotted sparks of light ahead. Before a black stone settlement built straight out of the cliff face of the canyon, feral natives are burning a dozen or so straw effigies. The human-shaped figures burnt with a high flame, casting the darkness away with light that flickered and chased away the shadows. At the deep-set gate behind the effigies stands a heavily built man, tattooed and baring the grey skin tone of a Fervious mountain clansman. He introduces himself as the town’s Warden, apparently a military position, and is actually quite helpful once we get past his deep-seated mistrust of outsiders. The village is called Freesprings and is made up primarily of the less civilized mountain folk, living off the sustenance that their canyon provides. The effigies are to ward off “Shamblemen”, a local myth according to Edrik’s new page, Han. But the Warden swears by their existence and gives us a stern warning about going into the forest after dark. It seems like local superstition at most but we still readily accept his offer to stay in the town for the night, eager to be out of the cold dark. We swear no violence in an outdated blood oath and enter the stoney township.

+The town is built vertically, with cutbacks leading their way higher and higher into the cliff. Dark black stones pepper the ascending stairs and grim stone doors show images of skulls and death omens that give evidence towards their original purpose as barrows. The locals are wild types, with bloodsport and honour killings occurring a number of times in only our first night. Despite their backwardness we spend the night in the Caretaker’s barrow without incident. When we arise to leave, however, we note the sky seems to be stuck in some sort of perpetual gloom. The Warden informs us that this is ‘Long Night’, an event that occurs every few months and is a precursor to the attacks of the Shamblemen. His eyes dark with fear he informs us it is not safe to venture out and that to do so would be to be considered impious and dangerous. Although I give little credence to his paranoia we have no reason to upset the locals and decide to wait out this Long Night. And it is well we did. For if we had not we may have never found the witch.

+I first noticed her on the third day in town as she walked between the idols outside the town walls, praying before they were lit. She was described to me as a "Saaya", translating roughly to medicine woman or priestess. It was not until Marius spoke to me that night that I realised just what she was; an unsanctioned and dangerous psyker. He had been observing her all day and had come to the conclusion that she was casting protective psycana to ward away the Shamblemen. He estimates her skill as a low Gamma level, if untrained. A few questions to the locals reveal the Saaya is a local tradition, with each outgoing matron giving her position and training to her daughters. Marius and I sit and discuss the lady and our options relating to her. He discusses the dangers of untrained psykers and the necessity of the sanctioning, which I corroborate with my knowledge of the Ecclesiarchy’s dealings with psykers. I inform him of our Inquisitor’s personal history on the matter, with our focus turned to how our master would respond to whichever action we choose to take. We also discussed our attempts to maintain a cover on this world and how killing a local matriarch would impact our attempts at subtlety. In the end on the balance of facts we decide to gather more information before deciding. To this ends we inform Edrik and Icharus about needing to investigate the witch’s barrow at the top of the cliff. I decide for simplicities sake to not tell them she is a witch, but based on the skeptical looks Icharus gives me I believe he had gleamed as much from Marius and my behaviour. In the oppressive gloom of Longnight we slip between the rough structures undetected, approaching the walls of the witch's barrow and bypassing it's rudimentary locks. Within we find the usual implements and activities of a mortuary but something feels wrong and we continue inwards. Within we find where the removed organs from the bodies were, with the straw effigies packed full of the organs of the deceased. Marius actively recoils, stating fervently that this is dark and forbidden warding magic. I do not need to be informed. I have read of the Witches of Balmoral, the organ harvesters of Selephas and many other heretical and blasphemous cults that had used this method to ward themselves from the light of the Imperium. Marius and I share a look and we inform our companions that we are in fact dealing with an unsanctioned psyker.

++Accessing Pict-Vox Recording:++
Acolyte Gallus Dolor Mission pict-capt
M41.907: Freesprings township, Fervious

Gingerly fingering the safety of his pistol Icharus turns and begins to speak: “I am upset you did not tell me the truth my friend, you know what the witch’s fate must be. The law leaves no room for leniency.”
“Leniency is surely deserved when the hag does good? Her magic’s keep these 'Shamblemen' at bay, they could be a greater evil for all we know…” Edrik trails off under glares from the others in the room. Crouched in the corner his piercing eyes show intensity despite his faltering words.
Gallus and Icharus both start talking at once, their voices ripe with indignation. “Suffer not the witch to live has no conditions friend, the law is clear on this”- “Unholy is he who takes up the weapons of the enemy.”
Edrik interrupts hurriedly, raising his hands in his own defense: “Holy Throne I meant not to harness the witch but to ignore her. At least for now. Surely the danger she poses is less than that she protects from.”
A silence grips the tomb broken only by the whirring of gyros as Icharus uses his bionic arm to lift himself from a crouch. He sighs quietly before speaking:
“Listen to the words you speak and observe their impurity Edrik. It would be wise of you to quiet your tongue”.
Gallus puts his grey robed hand on the Arbite’s shoulder and turns to the fur clad man at the receiving end of the verbal barrage.
“Just as you trust your sword Von Hellstrom, I trust my mind. I would have you trust it as well. If you cannot trust the judgement of we three who know more of these matters than you then I would have you relieve yourself”.
“It is not a matter of trust but utility Gallus. I would not have us die with our duty not done. It is -“
Marius’ head whips up as he interrupts his companions discussion:
“Quiet…Did you hear that?”

Static
++Vox Ends++


Entry 3:

+They came upon us from all sides, their eyes burning ice-blue with rage at the intrusion to their domain. Descending from the shadowed portals above, the Wyrd's blasphemous offspring assail us, their hands ending in black talons that reach from beneath ragged robes. Their jaws distended with numbing psy-shrieks as they advanced. At the far end of the chamber an armored figure hauls himself free of a corpse-pit, shouting and thrashing as foul, cat-sized worms swarm all over him. Firing wildly, he blasts at them with a heavy-gauge pistol. In my moment of distraction, one of the Witches slashes me deeply across the chest. Marius viciously beheads one creature while Edrik guts another. As we engage, the Warp Witch emerges from the dungeon below, surrounded by a miasma of dark energy. The thin, spidery figure of a Lobotomotor - a mortician servitor - skitters at her side, it's baroque las-cutter spitting. Behind it it draws a leashed mutant brute covered in sores, it's child-like head enclosed in a goat-headed helm of silver. The beast lays about with an immense mace as Icharus deftly avoids it's blows. The melee spills out across the crypt, the roars of the brute deafening in the echoing chamber. Lighting rakes across the party, scorching and blistering the flesh it touches. Edrik engages the Arch-Witch, a blurring sabre-strike carving one eye from her face. Leaking brackish blood, she flees deeper into the moss-covered tunnels, the swordsman at her heels. We break free of combat to follow, but a fresh nest of the creatures are roosting in the caverns below. Edrik is beset, pierced and torn by hellish talons. In desperation, I throw a photon flash grenade, and the witches cringe away from it's blinding light. Dragging our bloodied companions, we stagger back out of the black-walled dungeon and into the stirring village.

Contact Report:

  • Enemy Forces: Miscellaneous forces numbering 9 [6 Witches, Arch-Witch, Lobotomotor, Mutant Brute]
  • 6 Enemy Deceased. 4 Witches, Lobotomotor, Mutant Brute.
  • Ammunition expenditure: [Low]
  • Casualties: All Heavily Wounded.

+I patch up Edrik as we hurry to the grox, intent on fleeing town. The armoured man has joined our flight, thrown in with us by circumstance. He identifies as Dalton Greaves, and wears altered guard flak in the colours of a Scintillan regiment, it's markings long since worn away. We find that the ever-loyal Doc Ennoch has prepared the grox for our escape, and mustering our courage, we gallop toward the edge of town. The feral-worlders are gathering to make a pursuit, summoned by the haunting wails of the Warp Witch. Impaired by her wounds, her spells appear to falter, the clear yellow light of the burning effigies turning fitful and brown.

+To our horror, figures do indeed await in the dark of the forest. Held back by the sputtering light of the witch's warpcraft, 'Shamblemen' form a thin enclosing ring around the mountain village. Unnaturally thin, their flesh blackened as though by a scorching flame, they perpetually bled an oily smoke. At first we falter at the nightmarish sight of them, but with a shout, Marius spurs us forward, our grox frothing in terror. We attempt to charge through them at speed, but they moved like liquid in the shadows. Icharus and Edrik suffer deep, ripping wounds as we burst through their lines, iron-handed grips tearing at hide, metal and skin. We ride hard for hours, not stopping until Edrik sways and falls from the saddle. Stoic as ever, he had ridden on despite horrific and undeclared wounds, his left arm completely missing from the bicep down. Our new companion finds us a hidden cave where we can rest for the night, out of the downpour that begins to fall in the jungle. Doc and I minister to the many grievous wounds the party has taken, managing to stem the bloodloss from Edrik’s limb as he falls in and out of consciousness. Doc pulls me aside and informs me that the swordsman had suffered a more critical wound, as his left lung had been completely torn and deflated by the witches talons. Only a chest full of biofoam keeps him alive and a more permanent fix is needed if he is going to live out the week. As Doc and I work, Icharus questions our new associate in a typically paranoid fashion, ferreting out his identity:

Person of Interest: Dalton Greaves Fervious

  • Lithe but muscled man wearing Imperial Guard flak armour altered to match the local traditions. Skin tone still betrays his hive upbringing despite the tan of Fervious threatening to conceal it. Augmented eyes and scarred skin hint at a life of battle.
  • Employed as a scout by noble hunting party. Party was ambushed and captured by the Freesprings witches. (All others deceased).
  • Before his time on Fervious, he served as an Imperial guardsman with the 2nd Recon 66th Scintilla Guard from a young age. Was honourably discharged after the loss of his eyes. Spent his pension on replacements and moved to Fervious for work.
  • Icharus has suspicions he is lying about something but cannot pinpoint what.

+As we have need of an extra hand and this man seems loyal enough, if to currency, we take him on as a mercenary.

+The journey to Swordpoint is treacherous and uncomfortable enough under normal circumstances says Han, but with Edrik’s life ever-fading we make double time through the harsh, mountainous terrain. For a nearly a week we travel, beaten down by fitful rain, slogging through mud and hacking a path through dense, tangling undergrowth. At night, the roars of native beasts keep us all on edge. None sleep restfully in the wilderness of Fervious. Exhausted to a man, we finally crest a rocky bluff and behold the city of Swordpoint. Only then do we realise how little we understand of this planet's affairs.
new%20sworpoint.jpg
[Pict Cap: An unexpected view of Swordpoint, capital city of Fervious]

Above the sprawling feral city stand half a dozen towering metal structures, the lights and shuttles from which display a level of technological advancement not mentioned in any of the reports I had accessed. 60 years ago these towers simply did not exist. As the Imperium had not supplied Fervious in this time, the locals could also not have built them.

+We gain access to the outer city unchallenged, finding it awash with a blinding variety of locals. The streets bustle with a riot of activity, from trade to the casual bloodshed we have come to expect. Stabling our grox, we find an abandoned building on the outskirts and begin to turn it into a feasible base of operations. Dalton secures the area while Doc sterilises a room for Edrik’s surgery. Some time later Icharus returns, having canvassed much of the lower city for information.

Investigation:
Canvass: Icharus Ventium: Lower City, Godspire IV
Swordpoint IV, Fervious

  • The city itself is accessible to all, and is a melting-pot of Bloodless, serfs and wildlings.
  • The "Pillar Cities" sit upon the stumps of the Godwoods that once grew here, and were constructed by the Cult Mechanicus.
    • Pillars are regularly accessible only by Mechanicus, as entry requires a weighty fee. The Cestelle Alliance, Imperial Guard, the noble houses and Churchmen travel within in large, infrequent trade caravans.
  • The Cestelle Alliance was called in to assist in a shift of designation on Fervious from Feral to Agricultural World classification.
    • The Lord Governor and ruling family believed they were abandoned by the Imperium, due to the Adeptus Mechanicus boycott.
  • The Mechanicus returned roughly 50 years ago, shortly after the Alliance moved in.
    • The tech-priests and Skitarii wear heavy, coarse, hand-sewn robes that seem to signify rank. Their augments are proudly displayed, against Mechanicus convention that calls for them to be concealed.

In the following days, Edrik’s condition worsens. I venture out into the city to find a replacement limb and internal systems for him, leading me to a muddy Reclaimator yard at the base of Pillar-City IV. The illegal salvage crews are led by a de-registered Tech-Priest, who digs out a serviceable bionic arm and lung for sale.

bottom%20of%20the%20pillar.jpg
[Pict Cap: The Reclaimator salvage operation, beneath Pillar-City IV]

+I assist Doc in the technical elements of the surgery and despite our resounding successes, Edrik will be bedridden for some weeks hence. As he recovers, the rest of the group spread out into the city. Dalton goes to the local armorer, here known by the archaic title “blacksmith”, to acquire Edrik and himself short blades to carry around the city. Whilst out he also finds for himself two small holsters, designed to help assassins hide blades. Interrupting his revelling at the find I remind him we are supposed to be incognito and that such a specialised pair of items might draw attention. Meanwhile Icharus managed to grease enough palms to enter the Pillar-City and came back bearing interesting news:

Investigation:
Canvass: Icharus Ventium: Pillar-City IV
Swordpoint, Fervious

  • The lower levels of the tower are a bustling industrial settlement with a heavy Mechanicus presence.
    • Serfs are branded with the mark of the Cog and the area is heavily patrolled by Skitarii.
  • The Imperial presence is only visible at Taijiing Manor, a vast castle in the local style that sits above the industrial district.
  • The locals believe the Imperium is ineffecient and that the Mechanicus saved them by increasing productivity.
  • Possible employment at House Shale: Tech-scavengers and indentured serfs mainly.
  • Leader of the Mechanicus on Fervious is Arch-Magos Paracellsus.

In his investigations Icharus meets the same reclaimator who supplied Edrik's augments, who offers a way into the upper tower more permanently. The Tech-Priests who pass through the gates are microchipped to allow them access and if we bring the man the corpse of such a priest, he could replicate and implant these chips for our use.

+We meet in our ramshackle base at Edrik’s bedside to discuss the implications of Icharus’ information, as Dalton keeps watch in the fog outside. It is the general consensus that we should not stoop to murdering Tech-Priests, not least because it draws attention to us. It is also agreed that these Pillars are suspicious and Edrik suggests they may even be skyhooks, to assist the docking of spacecraft. If these are indeed landing points, the gathered tithe could feed a large army. A troubling thought. Our next move uncertain, Icharus and I travel to the local cathedral, a towering castle now dwarfed by the metallic Pillars. The building must have truly been awe-inspiring to the local populace when it was first constructed but now it stands as a monument to the overshadowing of Imperial power on Fervious. We witness the Arch-Bishop, Trantor, giving a sermon surrounded by guards and strange hooded figures. Could these be the Oracles the commoners spoke of? Marius is visited by a vision of massive, falling trees, waking him from a fever dream. With Edrik still crippled, I volunteer to stay in Swordpoint to mind him while Doc, Marius, Icharus and Dalton take a boat upriver to the nearest Godwood. Hopefully the Arbite can ream some information from our new acquaintance during the journey.


Entry 4:

Team 1: Days 5-20 in capital Edrik and Gallus

+On the first day since the departure of the others, my study is disturbed a frantic knocking at the door. As the noise persists, I am forced to eventually answer. I am greeted by a gaunt and muddy local lad of perhaps ten standard years. The boy had heard a doctor was living here and sought help for his sick sister. Hoping to maintain the secrecy of our base here, I agree to attend her elsewhere. The boy leads me further into Low Town where a makeshift hospital is set up in an old ramshackle chapel. It is run by a weary old Ecclesiarch who tends to them as best he is able, wandering between patients pasting prayer papers to their wounds and muttering words of scripture. The lad leads me to his sister, Lia, and I begin to assess her situation. The sister had returned from a nearby lumberyard some 5 days past with a group of laborers suffering similar symptoms. The symptoms themselves are primarily neurological, with muteness and slowly reaction time being among the most obvious impediments. I speak to the old churchman who runs the hospital, which he refers to as his “mission”, but he proves to have little medical knowledge. However, during his religious ramblings he does comment that the Church sponsors patrons of sick children to enter the Pillar City for treatment. Playing the part of the caring patron earns me the churchman's offer of introduction at the nearby Cathedral of the Harvest. In exchange, I spend a few days purchasing food and medical contracts to supply his mission for the next six months. He is very grateful and we depart the next day.

+The Cathedral is an awe-inspiring sight, though I now realise it represents the Imperium’s faltering control of Fervious. Within it’s halls I meet Deacon Titus, who greets the ecclesiarch from the mission with some joy calling him “Friar”. Although this is a low rank it becomes apparent that the Friar enjoys the respect of the more conventional churchmen. I am introduced with many kind words for my deeds at the mission and the Deacon agrees to sponsor my transit into the spire the following week. In the course of our discussion, the two men dither over the matter of 'wise women'. Apparently factions within the church have taken issue with local medicine-women, calling them witches. Several have been killed, others driven out into the wilds. If these wise women are anything like the last we met, they may bear further scrutiny once our mission is complete.

+On my return to the hideout I pass a group of red robed figures bearing a sigil of a sun. They are accosting a local child, whose crime apparently was receiving medical attention. It would seem medical attention without prayer papers is proof enough to these men of witchcraft. Knowing that extreme religious groups often revere the sun motif, I appealed to their spiritual side by claiming to be from the Friar’s mission. They seem to buy that I had healed the child myself, even offering me some deference and allowing me to take part in his Questioning. I carefully steer the interrogation to avoid any unpleasantness, and watch as the fanatics - identified as the 'Axes of the Sun' flagellate themselves for their failure to elicit a confession. Using the added leverage of having saved his life, I interrogate the boy and learn the location of an "Old Agie", a healer-woman who lives in the nearby mountainside. Reluctant to go alone, I make a note to return to the issue of Fervious' "witches" at a more opportune time.

+Five days later I join an Ecclesiastical convoy into the lower Pillar-City. A procession of robed figures travel slowly through Low Town, the crowds parting in deference to the gold-robed, censer-bearing figures at the head of the column. The sponsored individuals clutch their wards as they pass through the giant glowing gates and into the towering Pillar. Within, a tangled industrial district is packed tightly into the confines of the tower. Despite having studied these structures with interest from afar, the contrast to the feral culture and wild landscapes outside make for a jarring transition. The Mechanicus has set up a medical station for ailing outsiders, and the sponsor-priests soon scatter to the local markets in search of supplies. I suspect that is why they are really here. I guide young Lia to the tech-priest, who performs a cursory auspex and med-scan rite. As she remains unresponsive, I take the readout he produces.

  • Diagnostic Analysis:
    • Female, Fervious local, 8 years of Age
    • Hippocampus constriction, ischemic stroke. [Patient is colloquially "braindead"].
    • Occurred 5 days ago, free floating embolus caused by apparent frailty of blood vessels in brain.
    • Prognosis - Candidate for repurposement as a servitor.

My heart sinks a little at the news. Even though the girl was just a ploy to enter the city, I am not without empathy for those who suffer. The Servo-Chirurgeon offers me some petty thrones for the girl, but I decline. He notes that if I had more “subjects” like this one he would be willing to purchase them for his forge. He offers me another passage chit into the city with two groups of patients and I reluctantly accept. The ability to study the passage chits is too important an opportunity to pass up. The Friar is similarly reluctant to give up on his patients but acknowledges passage into the tower for supplies would be beneficial for other, more saveable members of his flock. As I return to the safehouse and begin remove the last of Edrik’s stiches, there is chatter on the microbead. Icharus, Marius and Dalton have returned to Swordpoint.

Team 1: Days 5-20 Marius, Icharus, Doc, Dalton

A written recording of Marius’ verbal account.

+The rusty but sturdy riverboat made a number of stops as it wound slowly upriver through the dense jungle. It was a merchant’s vessel by trade, selling technology to the outer towns for vastly increased prices. After a few days of travel, the boat makes a stop at a small riverside village built right into the towering trees. It seems to be mainly occupied by orchard-workers harvesting the local fruit ‘Ploin’. Icharus and Dalton later both warned me against the fruit, a dark look in their eyes that speaks of a bad experience best left unexamined. As they departed, the Cell observe several skeletal locals being lashed by the boatmen. Apparently they have been caught stealing by the local overseer. It is evident that they are starving and desperate; in Fervious' cloying climate their lash-wounds will certainly become infected. The men must surely have known they risked death to gorge themselves on the pungent, purplish fruits.

godwood.jpg
[Pict Cap: The surviving Godwood for which Twin Oaks is named]

+The journey to the first Godwood takes a few more days, the jungle giving way to sprawling farmland and cleared plains surrounding the massive stump of a fallen giant. Astride the docks stands a dusty lumbermilling complex, above which looms an immense blackened Godwood stump and an attendant town of workers. Sactionaries walk to and fro bearing the symbology of the Cestelle Alliance. The town is called Twin Oaks after the two Godwoods that used to stand in the region, one now reduced to a ruin picked over by the locals like vultures on a corpse. Closer to the stump, very few men actually work; rather lumber servitors employ giant chainblades to hack strips off the roots under the watchful eyes of Cestelle adepts. The Cell gains entrance through an enterprising but not entirely believable lie about being members of a local wood smith conglomerate interested in off-cuts. The guard at the compound doesn’t entirely buy it ,but Icharus’ natural skill for falsehood manages to get them past the gates. Purchasing accommodation and clothes to match their cover story, they meet with the local Cestelle Envoy, the leader of the town, and are offered a tour of the stump in an antique powered carriage.

+Even under the scrutiny of a Cestelle adept and two Sanctionaries, the party manages to gather some information about the mighty tree. First, a dissonant psychic feedback bleeds off the ruined stump, manifesting as a grating tinitus to those of us without psychic talent. Marius bears his time beneath the stump only with considerable discomfort. Secondly, the Alliance have been frustrated by the unwillingness of local workers to work on the stump. Those that do report various symptoms of distress, from insomnia to migraines and depression.[Workers on Kreutz had similar symptoms from working within the pocket ecologies - GD]. Instead, Industrial Servitors are utilized in large numbers to process the rare and valuable lumber. The Alliance viewed these medical concerns as simply the religious discomfort of the falling of the trees, but the psychic resonance of these tree cannot be overlooked. The inside of the stump is filled with a viscous sap [see pict cap] that Marius identifies as the source of the psychic fallout. It would seem that the tree was growing on a vast deposit of this biological resource and with the tree’s absence it was now open to the world. The psyker also informs us that the sap gives off a strong echo of pain and discomfort. Icharus takes a sample despite the Mechanicus apparently having a contract to all of the remains of the tree.

sap%20spill.jpg
[Pict Cap: Tele-conductive sap spills from the fallen Godwood's root system, causing a barely perceptible psycho-dissonance]

+Finalising their false proceedings at the stump the party moves upriver once again to the surviving Godwood of Twin Oaks. This one towers above the nearby mountaintops, casting an immense shadow over the small, grubby village in the plains at it's base. Upon their return they visit the Cestelle Envoy, their entry disturbing his conversation with a holographic projection of a regal man in military attire. For the briefest moment, Marius' witchsight reveals a horrifying vision of the Envoy’s true face, a hideous, twisted visage of ghoulish flesh and dead black eyes. Leave takings were in motion however and the party hurried on to the surviving Godwood.

+The tree is baffling to behold, the very fact something this large can be alive is as unlikely as it is awe inspiring. Marius reports that the psychic resonance here is more akin to a pleasant bell chime than the anguished cry of the fallen tree, although on closer inspection this tree also contains the same vicious sap as its humbled twin. Although some discussion is had on the prospect of Dalton climbing the mighty tree, they wisely decide against it. Marius is plagued by troubling dreams in the night, returning over and over to a robed figure stalking the halls of a ruined, overgrown lab. He is also haunted by the terrible 'true face' of the envoy. troubling dreams regarding the terrifying true face of the Envoy. On their way back through Twin Oaks the psyker manages to perform a surreptitious psyniscience on the Envoy, discovering a complex weave of psychic distortion. Justly suspicious of the man but loathe to investigate further without Edrik and myself, the Cell leaves Doc to watch the Envoy while they return to Swordpoint.

Day 20+
+Team 2 returns on the 11th day since their departure and I greedily record Marius’ account of their journey. I reciprocate, regaling them with the events in the city. None share my interest in the witch I may have uncovered, with Icharus uncharacteristically claiming, “she will be here when we come back”. I agree that the Envoy is of greater interest and after Dalton and I procure a vox caster with which to receive Doc’s transmissions we travel back upriver towards Twin Oaks. We receive sporadic transmissions from Doc, primarily focussed on the Envoy’s daily routine and his lack of strange behaviour. The journey through the dense green forest, dotted occasionally by outcrops of wild ploin trees is a claustrophobic one, which we spend overlooking the investigation notes I had gathered thus far. Dalton grows more suspicious by the day, always seeming to keep an eye on our comings and goings. I do not know what lie Icharus and Edrik fed him, but Marius reports his attempts to ferret out more information on our mission and identities. I have faith the psyker will not crack under his interrogation.

+When we arrive in Twin Oaks we find that both the vox-caster and our personal microbeads are receiving the characteristic clicking of a set on the same line turning off and on. I am suspicious that someone is listening in on the line but Dalton informs me that this is an old guard technique to warn anyone listening of “trouble”. We also find a crude painting on the outermost building of town, a grey ball orbiting a larger red one. To the untrained eye this could simply be graffiti but I recognise it for what it is; a pictorial representation of Kreutz orbiting Tigress. Doc is in trouble. We send Dalton to search for his camp, but a few hours later he reports a scattered and empty site. He deduces that Doc’s campsite had been hastily abandoned, with his microbead jury-rigged to turn off and on left behind. Preparing for a lengthy hike, we set out to meet Dalton in the mountains. The Scout has lost Doc's trail, but with a little assistance from Edrik, who is raring with pent-up energy, we soon recover it. Doc seemed to be running parallel to nearby road, upon which a tracked vehicle had been heading away from town. Icharus and the others report to have not seen a half-track in town during their time there, so we find ourselves following our faithful medic's steps into the wild overgrowth.

+The tracks take us up into the forested peaks along what is clearly an old abandoned road. Eventually the tracks leave the road and head through an old chainlink fence that has been collapsed in a number of places. Within the fences' perimeter, Edrik and Dalton scout out a radio dish atop a vine-covered bunker-complex. Guarding the dish are two patrolling combat servitors, huge mechanical beasts armed with stub cannons and vicious chain axes. The scouts return to the party and a consensus is reached that we need to investigate further. After observing the patrol path for some time a plan, is quickly formulated and enacted. Edrik and I sneak past the patrolling servitors, masked by otherworldly powers of our psyker. The others take aim concealed in the foliage. I quickly bypass the dish’s security system and rewrite the servitors' communications frequency. Unable to call for help, they realise something is wrong too late. A barrage of las fire from Dalton and Icharus’ lasguns hurl one onto it’s back and decimate it’s chest section. The other is impaled from above, as Edrik hurls himself down into the patrol trench chainsword first. His flurry of blows grate heavily against its subdermal plating before the ruin of it's head falls smoking to his feet.

Contact Report:

  • Enemy Forces: Two Heavy Duty Servitors
  • Both enemies deceased.
  • Ammunition expenditure: [Minimal]
  • Casualties: None.

+Dragging the heavy bodies into the tree line around the dish we load and equip weapons and prepare to head deeper into the facility.


Entry 5:

+While I assemble the lasgun from my pack Dalton and Edrik pull open the now powerless heavy metal doors. They creak as they scrape against the metal walkway, vines snapping off as the doors they are attached to are wrenched apart. As the rest of the party draw their weapons we head into the moss-covered facility. The facility seems to have been abandoned for some time, vines and undergrowth having found their way in here from the dense jungle outside. Emergency lights flickering at close intervals are the only source of light, the facility apparently without power for some time now. At the first data-port we come across I download a map of the facility to my data-pad. I can now see that we need to turn on the backup power in order to get the primus generator back online. Once this is achieved I should be able to access the data banks further into the facility and solve the puzzle of this strange underground facility.
tree%20in%20lab.jpg
[Pict-Cap: The Cell gain entry to the Twin Oaks facility]

+Our first signs of “life” occur when we enter the lab proper, a sealed door leading us out onto a gangway above a research centre. The room was flooded with murky green water and a large fungal tree had sprouted in one ruined corner. In the centre of the room stood three Shamblemen, their blackened and smoking skin visible from beneath lab coats featuring the red cog of the Adeptus Mechanicus. Unfortunately the creatures hear the hiss of the opening door and begin to lope towards us through the sludge. Dalton puts down one with an expert burst of lasfire while Edrik leaps from the balcony and slices clean through the other two with his whirring chainsword. The creatures insides spill into the water and from within a large gassy cloud emerges, causing Dalton and Edik both to fall to the ground coughing and wheezing. Seeing this I am glad Icharus and I equipped our respirators before entering the complex, although the others are not so lucky and will no doubt suffer some lung damage from the toxins. Dalton seems to notice something up ahead and dashes through a set of powered doors voxing in with “observation drone” as he disappears from view.
+His vox lights up moments later with contact reports, the alarm I had managed to silence minutes earlier apparently having alerted the facilities security. Two defense servitors suppress him with hard rounds as he leaps back down the passageway towards us. The rounds of the servitors go wide however, shattering the glass of the containment tanks in the room Dalton had rushed into. As we rush through the waste deep water in the previous room to assist him we see a cloud of darting forms emerging from within the broken containment tanks. The creatures are worms the length of an arm with a face of concentric teeth that gnash at Dalton as he tries to fend them off with the butt of his lasgun. The flying swarm threatens to engulf the guardsman as Edrik rushes past into the next room. Lasfire from Icharus and psychic energy from Marius finally scare the beasts off as a number of them fall blackened and charred to the floor. From the next room we hear a war cry and the revving of chainswords before Edrik reports in that the servitors had been dealt with.
Contact Report:

  • Enemy Forces: Two Defense Servitors, 3 Shamblemen 'Spitters', 1 Recon Drone, Escaped Lithopeed Swarm.
  • All enemies destroyed.
  • Ammunition expenditure: [Minimal]
  • Casualties: None.

+Free finally to explore the facility we find a service elevator upon which had recently stood a tracked vehicle, possibly the one Doc was tracking. I poke at the flying beasts with my knife before identifying them as Lithopeeds. Commonly called “Corpse Snakes” they are native to the corpse fields of the Tomb World of Sentinel and have been known to form a collective consciousness and possess dead bodies. What they are doing on Fervious I do not know although this may explain the Shamblemen in the mountains. Further into the facility we find the lab where the backup power is located amidst tank after tank of dormant Lithopeeds. Realising the beasts need either the warmth of the tanks or the warmth of a corpse to survive I flush them with cold air, killing the creatures. Marius’ eyes glaze over for a second before simply muttering “the Mechanicus brought them here as a weapon, they killed their own scientists”. Not questioning his divining abilities we put this down to another mystery that needs to be solved on Fervious. The power returned I sit down in front of the primary data-stack and begin to study it’s contents while the others go and search the area. I hear them joking about “Ploin Snakes” but do not understand the humour.
+The security of the data-stack is minimal but the pure amount of information present means I am in that dimly lit room for many hours.

Investigation:
Localised Hack: Primus Dolor: Twin Oaks Facility Data-Stacks
Twin Oaks Research Facility

  • The base was originally constructed as a research facility to study the blue sap from the Godstrees, identified as 'Brintholium'.
    • Constructed by the Adeptus Mechanicus.
    • Used to store Brintholium and study it. Stores [100 units] were removed 34 hours ago. This lines up to the arrival of the tracked vehicle.
    • Staffed by 30 Mechanicus researchers, no noteworthy names or ranks.
  • Dish has been repurposed to communicate a signal to a location referred to as "Old Swordpoint", somewhere in the far north of here. [Not the same as 'New' Swordpoint, although we have not heard this one referenced during our time on world]
    • Dish is passing on signals from beacons all over the planet. Seems to be receiving and resending from multiple points nearby.
      • One of these points is the alive Godtree.
      • Points marked as 'Amplifiers', 'Relay's and 'Dishes'. Many dish locations match with known locations of Godtrees.

+Marius comes to join me and notes something strange about the signal, citing a similar feedback back in Twin Oaks. He taps into the signal with his mind by, as with many of his abilities, meditating. And it is well he sat for the procedure, for mere moments later he collapses in a fit. Recovering a few seconds later he turns wide eyed and tells me of the psychic resonance of the signal; of being one with 600, 000 people’s agony. He experienced visions of the planet’s inhabitants flagellating themselves and of the Godswood. Our shock and apprehension is simultaneous. The trees, with their psychically reflective nature, naturally collect the emotions given up every day by Fervious’ inhabitants as they flagellate themselves. It seems that this dish, and the many like it dotted around the planet, harness that psychic signal and forward it to the location known as Old Swordpoint. The implications are troubling indeed with that amount of latent psychic energy easily harness able by any number of malcontent or heretical causes. Marius remembers well the many rogue psykers who had used the agony of others to manifest greater powers while I mentally run through the daemon summoning on Ilrad and the cult of the Devourer who tried to call back their Xenos masters with mass torture. Not to mention the non-human enemies who might harness this power. Thinking of these past heresies gives me an idea and I open my mind fully to the information, letting it pass through me at a phenomenal rate as I look carefully for any signs of symbols I recognise. Finally and with a gush of nausea I find one. The jagged and horrific sign of the Cult of Misrule sits hidden time after time within the signal, where only someone who knew where to look could find it.

Reference 1.2
Cult of Misrule:

  • Crimes:
    • Suspected responsibility for Tranch rebellion (manipulation and armament of mutant population).
    • Known association with some dozen other lesser rebellions and acts of civil unrest [See attached references].
  • Suspected connections to heretic known as Graff Priori.

+Calling Edrik and Icharus back into the room on private vox we discuss the implications of our findings; Marius and I both weary from the magnitude of our discoveries. We are unanimous that this heresy must be halted and that Old Swordpoint must be our new port of call. Calling Dalton in I try and convince him to let Marius mind scan him, knowing that we must be sure of his loyalty before this final chapter of our investigation was to take place. He is reluctant at first but Icharus plays to his mercenary nature, offering a large sum of thrones for this particular mission. He requests that Marius do this alone and although fearful of betrayal we accept. The Psyker returns some minutes later to inform us that Dalton is, of all things, a member of the Inquisition. It seems that an Interrogator Forseith sent him here some ten years earlier to lay the groundwork for an investigation. As Forseith had been killed during the [REDACTED] incident of M41.898. Specialist Greaves has simply been on Fervious since then waiting for orders. Returning to the room Dalton has his weapon trained on us. An action both Icharus and I take opposition too before Marius mediates and explains the situation to Dalton. In return for his continued loyalty we will organise passage for him off world once our investigation is complete. It is an imperfect plan but short of killing him the cleanest we have at the present time. Our group newly united we leave the dead facility and head back into Fervious’ forests towards the nearest ‘Amplifier’ point marked on my map.

+We travel on Groxback out of the heavily forested mountains down into an agricultural district, harvest-servitors driving back and forth in golden fields as far as the eye can see. We continue following the river towards the amplifier, coming across a dead and poisoned area of the jungle downriver from the dead Godstree. It would seem the Brintholium runoff is poison for some local flora. After another few days travelling through heavy forests we to a waterfall, the location of the nav beacon. In the centre of the falls sits a strange fungal pillar, a strangely intense amount of strange plants in one location even for Fervious. Dalton attaches a climbing rope and I crawl across the connecting roots to the pillar. Within the fungus I find a strange flesh-like sack at the centre of which sits a pod of the now familiar blue sap Brintholium. I note that the vines on the outside of the pillar had been slashed repeatedly. Realigning the vines it becomes clear that the vines were cut numerous times in the exact same symbol; an occult symbol of sacrifice. With a shock it becomes clear that the thing amplifying the signal through this location was regular and horrible human sacrifices. The others are equally shocked at this discover, Icharus spitting on the ground with a growl of “foul heresy”, and we consider burning this unholy place to the ground. However the conclusion is reached that it may be pertinent to uncover more of the conspiracy first. We mark this point on our maps, eager to return with a firebomb when the time is right.
Brintholeum%20Font.jpg
[Pict Cap: The Array is dotted with cultivated 'amplification nodes']

+The next location of note is a relay station some days ride from here. It sits within an abandoned agricultural district, the fields of ploin and vegetables now rotted away from neglect. In the centre of such a field sits an abandoned agri centre, now repurposed as a relay. Dalton suggests disabling the device and ambushing or observing those who come to fix it but the idea is vetoed by Edrik and Icharus. Another goal for us once we visit Old Swordpoint then. Near the relay station we find an old cement road leading north and begin to pick up the pace atop our reptilian mounts. The agricultural area gives way once again to jungle that threatens to engulf the winding road but with Dalton’s knowledge of Fervious terrain we manage to follow the grey streak further towards our goal.

+Some days later Dalton raises his hand to halt us as he hears characteristic roaring from up ahead. Further up the road is a tipping over vehicle with two of Fervious’ mega fauna ripping parts off it with their razor sharp teeth. The vehicle itself is a suburban traveller that seems to have it’s back tires shot out judging by the bullets holes. As we try to formulate a plan from the nearby bushes Edrik rides back down the road, returning on foot some time later. The creatures, smelling the spilt blood of the Grox Edrik had just butchered, rushed past us towards the easy meat. Now free to approach the vehicle we approach hesitantly, finding within a robed figure almost entirely turned to ash in the now familiar manner. Marius identifies this as a possible result of excessive force used during a psychic power of the biomancy discipline involving the blood. I ask whether this power could be use to drain ones blood, remembering the ash sacrifices performed on Kreutz, and he confirms this. So if this was the ability used on the Skyblooded on Kreutz to take their blood could the Cult of Misrule have been responsible for those events as well? The ash corpse wears the robes of the Adeptus Telepathica although we can see now sign of the usual squad of guards such a figure would have on Fervious. This combined with the days of rations in the boot of he vehicle and the lethality of his assassination lead us to believe that he was fleeing from something with great urgency. Could he, as a telepath, have discovered the same secret signal that Marius had?

+As we prepare to mount up again towards Old Swordpoint Edrik exclaims that he will be claiming a mega fauna egg from the jungle. He begins to cover his skin with mud and debris and walks off into the forest, ever-loyal Han in tow. He voxes some minutes later that he will meet us in Swordpoint and although confused we decide to ride on towards our objective. After a few more days along the road we break the forest and come across something none of us expected. Before us lies a large Imperial style city, ruined from years of neglect. It spreads as far as the eye can see, towers and motorways now crumbling and slowly being overrun by the immense Fervious jungle. At points the city shows signs of orbital bombardment some century earlier, making me wonder how a city of such size could simply be forgotten on a planet with a living and thriving population. I am reminded of the fact we had avoiding mentioned the Mechanicus feud with Fervious, assuming that it was a taboo subject amongst the populace. Could they have been responsible for the attack on the planet’s capital city? Marius detects a psychic resonance coming from the large pre-hive structure in the centre of the city. It is common practice for such a structure to be built when a city reaches this size to facilitate it’s conversion into a hive but I did not realise Fervious ever reached that point. Finding an abandoned building and making camp on the 1st floor we plan to explore the pre-hive building the following morning.
+We rise at the light and are greeted by bells tolling just as they have wherever we have gone on Fervious. Dalton goes to investigate the noise, although is augments apparently have some time picking out the frequency.

Recon and Observation:
Specialist Greaves: Old Swordpoint

  • Bells coming from an old Ecclesiarchal bell tower some hour south of party position.
    • Tower is covered in banners and the bones of mega fauna and is surrounded by armoured figures.
  • Figures are Fervious barbarians of similar colouring and armament as those of Freesprings, the mountain town we encountered earlier.
  • Just as in other population centres bells seem to be the signal for locals to flagellate themselves.

+Grateful for the day of rest while Dalton camps we stay put in our ruined building, Marius meditating while Icharus and I discuss the peculiarities of the case like we would any other. There seems no doubt that someone is manipulating the natural psychic power of the Godtrees of Fervious to harness the agony of its inhabitants. But for what purpose we can only speculate at this point. After Dalton returns with his report at dusk we have a camp fireless night, all filled with the same feeling that something is amiss in Old Swordpoint.


+Our investigation of the pre-hive structure in Old Swordpoint is delayed a few more days, as Icharus has come down with some sort of fever from the forest. I give him what medicine we have but with no proper medical facilities we are forced to simply wait it out. Dalton resents the delay but with only three of five of the party present or combat capable we are forced to wait in our makeshift base in the ruined city for a few days longer. Dalton's patience does not last however and he marches off towards the structure alone, hoping to finally find a way off this planet.


Entry 6:

+As we ready on the second day in Old Swordpoint, Icharus’ illness having abated the night before, there is a clicking on the microbead as Edrik comes into the city. With some direction he stumbles to our hideout, nearly unconscious from his many days of journeying through the jungle. Han carries his prize, a torso-sized mega-fauna egg, and seems to be kept upright by pure unwillingness to let his master down. The collapse upon entry and I begin to administer their many wounds. I inform the others that Edrik will need at least a days rest and Marius and Icharus decide to complete the observation mission without me as I tend to the weary travellers. As Edrik starts vomiting again they head out into Old Swordpoint.
Old%20Swordpoint.jpg
[Pict Cap: Old Swordpoint]

+Edrik tells of his journey through the jungle and avoiding techno-barbarians throughout Old Swordpoint. He does so through gritted teeth between streams of dark grey vomit and to my horror I notice within the vomit wriggles small worms. Could Edrik be succumbing to the Shamblemen virus? Wary I begin to clean and assemble my hellpistol, determining the time had come at last to use it. Meanwhile Icharus and Marius make sporadic reports as they make their way through the city towards the pre-hive structure. After some hour of walking they report a group of a half dozen females in feudal plate patrolling the area. The women seem to have sanctionary issue weaponry and one even wears an Imperial Guard vox-pack. The women talk in whispers in a void cant Marius claims to half understand. Determining these women to be the Swordwives we had previously encountered and compelled to at least find out what they are doing here Icharus steps out and greets the women, much to their surprise.

+Vox contact ends here but based on Marius’ later reports I can infer what occurred. The women point weapons at the party and shout in their void cant. Luckily Marius understands enough to spout a lie about being Mechanicus treasure hunters, which seems to make the women only more suspicious. They claim to be working for the church against the Mechanicus in the city and arrest Marius and Icharus to take to their leader, whom they refer to as “Celestian”. The group leads them further towards the outskirts of the city to a series of still standing Imperial structures. In the centre sits what was once the cities cathedral, now crumbling from disrepair. Within is a large group of armoured females of different stages of armament is what is quite clearly an ops centre of some kind. Marius also notes the presence of another psyker in the church; a small and timid looking female is Adeptus Telepathica robes sitting in the corner. The leader of this band is none other than a member of the Adeptus Sororitas in full powered battle plate. She identifies herself as Celestian Scythier and demands to know the reason for the intruders presence in the city. She is a woman of some bearing and not purely due to her age and fearsome battered power armour. Icharus convinces the Sister to allow a private audience and upon achieving said privacy identifies himself as a member of the Inquisition.

+It is at this point that I receive a call on the vox-unit from a bashful Icharus, informing me of their capture and the eventual cooperation of this Scythier. I demand to talk to the Celestian herself and after some to-and-fro testing of knowledge of the Imperial Creed determine her to be who she claims to be. She sends a squad to pick Edrik and myself up from our hideout and we reluctantly agree. As we travel to the cathedral Mechanicus search drones whirr overhead, primarily ignored by the Swordwives leading us. Scythier meets us at the gate to the cathedral, grasping my hand within her armoured gauntlet by way of introduction. Within the building I note off-world mercenaries littered amongst the mercenaries and the odd robed figure dashing back and forth. I inquire as to a surgeon amongst them and as his condition worsens Edrik is taken off on a stretcher in the care of a pair of Sororitas Hospitalier sisters. Sythier is grateful for our presence and allows us access to all of their facilities while we wait for the following day, when a meeting of the enclave she had assembled would take place. Laspacks are recharged and hot food eaten for the first time in weeks, significantly increasing the mood of the cell as we sit surrounded by loyal Imperials for what seems like the first time on Fervious.

+True to her word the next day a runner from the Celestian fetches us from our beds to a backroom of the cathedral where a meeting of sorts is taking place. The room is abuzz as we enter and one by one the important personalities of the room introduce themselves.
Group of Interest: 'The Exiles' Fervious

  • Celestian Scythia
    • Leader of the Soritas convent here ('Our Martyred Lady'). One of the few true Soritas left, most are younger Swordwives.
    • Noticed corruption amongst the leaders of the planet, including the Forestries Ministrix and Cardinal.
    • Took in Ulrica when she fled her post and was shocked that the Cestelle Alliance attacked her church. Left her post to investigate the corruption further and formed The Exiles.
  • Colonel Trell Taijing
    • High ranking member of the Fervious military and Taijing family.
    • Noticed politicking and infighting in the house that had never occurred before.
    • Given command of a company of Cestelle Alliance guardsmen.
      • After some missions noticed some of his men were suffering braindeath when near Godstrees.
        • His complaints fell on deaf ears and when he attempted to contact someone offworld an attempt was made on his life.
        • Had heard of rebels hiding in Old Swordpoint and fled here to meet up with the Celestian.
  • Assessor Eli
    • Mechanicus R&D scientist
      • Main work in researching the properties of Brintholium.
      • Witnessed his fellows being killed by a biological attack (Lithopeeds).
    • Returned to capital where more accidents occurred around him. Eventually realised the Mechanicus was attempting to silence him.
      • Similarities noted to the tactics used by the corrupted Frumentarii on Kreutz.
  • Initiate Telepathica Ulrica
    • Young female telepath, came here with her twin brother to serve in the Adeptus Telepathica outposts.
      • Brother appears to be the dead telepath we found on the road.
    • Saw the true visage of the Envoy and fled after her superiors attempted to silence her.
      • Fled to Scythia's church where the Cestelle Alliance followed and attacked.
      • Instructed her brother to meet her here.

+Once introductions are made the discussion starts. Although the individual stories piece together some of the story of these ‘Exiles’ the true basis for this groups formation was the knowledge that the cardinal of Fervious was compromised by the conspiracy. We are told of the cardinal being given a mighty gift of an augmented choiress by the Cestelle Alliance. His love of this gift was to grow and grow until he was given an entire choir of the mechanical songbirds. Soon he began behaving erratically and increasing the required tithe, despite the fact the Forestries Ministrix knew the tithe was simply rotting in the Godspires of New Swordpoint. We impart our knowledge of the conspiracy, from the psychic signal to the manipulation of the Adeptus Mechanicus and House Taijing itself. The listeners greet most of our revelations with expressions of shock, showing that despite our failings the cell has at least the skill to rip the truth out of murky situations. We inform the group of our intention to stay with them for a number of days to rest up before infiltrating the pre-hive structure, now confirmed to us as the centre of Mechanicus and cult activity in the ruins.

+Colonel Taijing, no doubt filled with shame at the implication of his family, offers some of his men for a distraction to allow us entry to the structure and we willing accept. The next day is spent planning as Edrik recovers from surgery, Marius, Icharus and I spending most of the day around Scythier’s map of the local region, planning our infiltration. We are also given access to the base’s armoury and Icharus and I find an antique hellgun and suit of Imperial Guard flak armour respectively, apparently the possessions of a recently deceased guard veteran. We are also gifted four krak grenades, for any demolitions that may need to take place. The Exiles had been saving the gear for any future assault missions and gladly give it up to our cause. During the day the Celestian asks if we wish to interrogate a suspected Mechanicus spy and eager for more information we accept. Within the makeshift prison below the cathedral we find a beaten and bound Dalton, flesh purple from days of torture. The Celestian informs us he was detected by auspex shadowing a patrol and subsequently killed two Swordwives after discovery. She would not release Dalton to us and nor would I ask, his blackened form in no state to join us on the coming mission. Our business completely we are assigned a Swordwife to guide us into the central district, a young lithe woman by the name of Alisa.

+The infiltration begins in earnest the following night, Alisa hefting the vox-pack that would call in our distraction when we needed it. Han had stayed behind in the cathedral, guarding the ever-growing pile of miscellany that Edrik was gathering on this planet. Approaching the facility with Edrik and Alisa scouting in the lead we find the structure bares striking similarities to the Godspires of New Swordpoint, if one replaced the sprawling city of New Swordpoint with refineries and military encampments. Search drones and shuttles fly out of the towers many access points at random intervals and spotlights sweep the surrounding area. Even as we watch black armoured mercenaries shoot bursts of flame into the surrounding overgrowth to keep it from approaching the tower’s base. The searchlights and guards sit on a high wall at the base of the tower, four entries into the refinery area under the careful watch of two armoured figures at all times. It does not take me long to analyse the path of the spotlights and plot us a way through, leaving Alisa on the outskirts to receive our micro-bead transmissions if necessary. Our run is so well timed it seems that we manage to find the guards on shift rotation and the path into the refineries clear for us to proceed.

+The area within is a stark contrast to the bleak militarism of the outer wall, with scientists in hazmat suits bustling to and fro between the many pre-hab structures that inhabit this area. We slink through the shadows to the entrance to the tower, observing the haz-mat suited men entering under the careful gaze of more armed guards. Up close the armour the men wear is clearly the same strange Xeno-mesh as the mercenaries on Kreutz, a sure sign we are nearing our objective. Edrik sneaks off into the facility and returns some twenty minutes later with a plan. A timed krak grenade in the local generator and one dead security officer secured us four identity obscuring haz-mat suits. Unfortunately the explosion had caused heightened security as guards begin swarming out of the tower to investigate the disturbance. A quick micro-bead of “valkyrie” to Alisa and our distraction begins, the sounds of explosions and gunfire from within the city causing even more movement as the security force mobilised and mounted up to deal with whatever problems Colonel Taijing had thrown at them. Amidst the confusion four haz-mat suited figures pulling heavily laden trolleys slipped through the checkpoint and into the tower.

+The inside of the tower is like nothing I have seen on Fervious, a chrome white walled science facility of the quality I have not seen since my time at [Redacted]. On the first level we find the refined Brintholium being fed into a generator of sorts, at a glance a reactor that seems to power the facility. A quick hack allows me a map of the facility. The next two levels are listed as R&D and host countless experiments and procedures, all conducted under the watchful eye of the Cestelle Alliance Envoy from Twin Oaks who stands on a raised platform at the back of the floor. In the centre of the room Bryntholium is injected into a struggling man, whilst around it sit scientists taking notes feverously on their data-pads. Around this skin is etched with Brintholium inks, rats are fed the blue liquid and augmented limbs are powered exclusively by the stuff. The substance is being researched with such an intensity and disregard for rules that I am surprised they do not know all there is to know about the stuff. Research aside the Envoy is now our target and we follow him surreptitiously to the lift, where we notice he pushes the bottom two unmarked buttons that the map informs us leads to basement 1 and 2. The map gives those floors the nickname “The Hatchery”, which has an ominous nature the entire party cannot deny. We take the next lift down and have our suspicions confirmed, with a large underground room filled with tanks of horrible xenos breeds filling our vision. The tanks seem to glow with the faint blue aura of Bryntholium as the creatures are soaked in the stuff.
predictible.jpg
[Pict Cap: The Hatchery at Facility 00]

+Our observation is cut short however as a sharply dressed man turns and inquires as to our purpose here. A quick lie and we are back on the lift, although I fear the man’s suspicions must be aroused. Back on the generator floor we find a quiet area and change into our combat gear, ready to assault the foul facility below. On our way out we are spotted and accosted by some scientists and unwilling to waste precious time we kill and dispose of their bodies in a nearby utilities storeroom. Whilst the party disposed of the bodies I rig our spare micro-bead into my krak grenade, utilising the devices signalling capabilities to rig a makeshift remote activated bomb. Planting the device deep within the generator we descend on the lift once again, only to find the Hatchery now devoid of the suited man from earlier. Many levels below us we spot movement, the figures seemingly packing boxes into vehicles ready to abandon the facility. Marius and I continue down the winding path that rings the Hatchery while Edrik and Icharus reboard the lift ready to ambush those waiting below.

+We manage to avoid attention descending the winding ramp and with a quick vox burst to Icharus the doors of the lift open and we launch ourselves at the figures below. The area seems to be a mustering post for the above facility, with vehicles and dark tunnels leading to the outside giving credence to ideas of a secret entrance further off in Old Swordpoint. In the centre of the room gather the co-conspirators of Fervious’ misfortune. The suited man from earlier is barking instructions to four black robed figures, who hold about them large chainswords and flamers and have in their eyes the fever of fanatics. Off to the side the Cestelle Alliance Envoy has a heated discussion with a blue robed figure, the odd grace of which identifies him to me as The Archoform. A large crate of Brintholium is attended to be a red robed tech priest, the widest and largest man I have ever seen who seems to be almost entirely augmented.
+Marius and I engage the Archoform and suited cult leader with our sidearm’s as they rush towards our concealed position. Simultaneously Icharus and Edrik engage the others, the Envoy revealing himself as the enigmatic psyker as he hurls foul warp energy at Edrik. As our combined fire drops the four cultists Marius engages the Archoform blade to blade, the foul creature wielding a graceful sword of xenos manufacture. Seeing his minions flee the cult leader tries to escape but a well thrown photon flash grenade sees me execute him in the seat of his would-be escape vehicle. Meanwhile Icharus and Edrik had been driven back by the tech-priest, who had pulled from his robes a fearsome inferno pistol. Luckily in his inexorable advance the tech-priest had stepped over the bodies of the fallen cultists. Upon the belts of the dead were four heavy duty incineration grenades and with expert precision Icharus put bursts of las fire into all four. The resulting explosion was all consuming, burning the Envoy and tech-priest into blackened masses where they stood. It also lit alight the Archoform, the distraction allowing Edrik to step over the now unconscious Marius and rip his chainsword through the creatures chest. However our enemies were not the only people being immolated by the fire bombs unreasonably wide blast radius, the Brintholium packaged for transport now erupting round us.
Contact Report:

  • Enemy Forces: Fervious Misrule inner Conclave [4 Misrule cultists (Chainswords and Flamers), Unknown Tech-Priest (Inferno Pistol, Combat Augments), Archoform Warrior (Xenos Pistol, Xenos Sword, Xenos Chitin armour), Misrule cult Principal (Hand-Cannon, Sword), Misrule Chameleon Envoy (Psyker)]
  • All 8 deceased.
  • Bodies of Archoform Warrior and Misrule Principal recovered. Xenos weaponary recovered.
  • Ammunition expenditure: [Medium]
  • Casualties: Marius critically wounded. Edrik heavily wounded, Gallus and Icharus lightly wounded.

+The bodies of the Cult Principal and Archoform bundled into the back of the truck and Marius’ unconscious form watched over by Icharus we burn out of the escape tunnel away from the now raging inferno behind us. As we reach micro-bead range limit I detonate my homemade bomb and the facility behind us shakes, the Brintholium in the tanks and pipes immolating almost instantaneously as the entire facility begins to crumble. As the tunnel collapses behind us we crash through a concrete barricade and burst forth into Old Swordpoint, the site of the Prime Godspire collapsing and burning behind us.


Final Entry:

+Our jubilant escape from Facility 00 is cut short as we leave the false collapsing concrete escape tunnel when our vox crackles back to life. The line is swamped by numerous voices, the sounds of gunfire and the screams of the dying. I filter the reports as I drive, eventually distilling the messages to three main sources of distress calls. The most succinct was from the Celestian, who was apparently under fire from valkyries and needed heavy weapons support. She seemed surprised but pleased to hear we were alive. The second is an automated distress call from the Cathedral informing all units that they are under attack and the final a personal message for the cell from Initiate Ulrica, the panicked young woman whispering that the enemy mercenary forces were closing in on her. The decision is difficult but consensus was made that Ulrica was the priority, as her telepathic abilities may be our only chance of getting a message offworld.

+We burn through the abandoned city all thought of subtlety given up in the all-out war that had broken out amidst the abandoned buildings. Mechanicus search drones and Cestelle Alliance valkyries soar overhead as the sound of gunfire echoes throughout the empty streets. Arriving at the coordinates we find no trace of Ulrica and Alisa, but a slew of dead mercenaries leading into a long overgrown greenhouse draws Marius and Edrik’s attention as Icharus and I secure the area. Within they find the cowering forms of the Ulrica and Alisa, but not alone. Towering over them stands one of the creatures from the hatchery, alive and very much no longer in stasis. The creature lets out an unholy cry that chills the very souls and charges towards the newcomers. As Marius secures the women and leads them towards the truck Edrik kills the creature, cutting off it’s limbs with his whirring chainsword before planting it deep into the creatures brain. Satisfied at having slain yet another of Fervious’ foul beasts he takes the drivers seat and speeds off towards the Cathedral as I tend to Alisa’s wounds in the back of the truck.

+Arriving at the cathedral we find an unhappy scene. Some dozen mercenaries in their characteristic black armour pour las fire into the building with a valkyrie circling overhead and adding it’s heavy multi-lasers to the suppression of the buildings few defenders. Sporadic las and solid projectile fire flashes back at the mercs but the battle is clearly one sided. As the valkyrie pulls back into position above the road and begins deploying more troops via fast-line makes a beeline towards the newly deployed men. Although most jump out of the way one is caught beneath the mass of the front of our vehicle and crushed to a pulp, popping our tires as he does so. We careen past the cathedral and into an adjacent building, the surprised mercs holding fire only long enough to realise what was going on before starting up again at our newly arrived vehicle. As Edrik and Icharus grab the two women and run with them inside Marius and I concoct a plan for dealing with the valkyrie. As it makes another pass I throw the party’s two remaining flak grenades into the air and Marius controls them with his telekinesis. Psychically sending one into the cockpit and one into an engine causes enough damage for the valkyrie to fly off, trailing smoke and leaving us the opening with which to duck under the oncoming fire and enter the cathedral.

+Within we find the last of the swordwives putting up some semblance of a defence with their mismatched solid projectile weapons. The line only holds due to the influence of the two skitarii warriors that stand to either side of Accessor Eli, their inbuilt hellguns almost matching the firepower of the mercenaries outside. The desperation of the situation apparent we leap into action, each taking a roll in the defence of the cathedral. I join the firing line, adding the little ammunition I have to that of the swordwives, while Marius gets a full report from the Accessor. Meanwhile Edrik dons his respirator in search of a way out through the gas filled tunnels beneath the cathedral and Icharus starts riling through the cathedrals armoury looking for something with which to take out the valkyrie. He comes out minutes later with a frag grenade and stick of industrial dynamite and Marius selects the later. Edrik has found a way out through the tunnels and as he leads the scientists and non-combatants who had been cowering at the back of the room out through the lower levels we enact our plan. Icharus and I sprint beneath the the valkyries oncoming fire, the pilots swinging the vehicle around to track us as we dart back and forth between cover. The airship distracted Marius arms and psychically hurls the dynamite into the already wounded wing of the valkyrie, destroying it utterly and causing the ship to careen out of the control into a nearby building. The disheartened mercenaries begin to flounder and we take this opportunity to flee back into the cathedral, sealing Edrik’s escape hatch behind us.

+The ancient sewer system runs under most of the city and it is many hours before we see daylight again. Edrik leads the way once more, still limping from his wounds suffered in the Hatchery. With us we carry the Archoform, the cult leader and the unconscious form of Dalton, still purpled from the beating the Celestian gave him. Eventually we break air once again to a Swordpoint that is vastly quieter than the one we left. The odd crack of a rifle can be heard in the distance and the droning of aircraft is ever present but the all out battle of earlier had abated, not doubt not in our favour. Nevertheless we are relieved to make contact and meet up with the Celestian and her ten remaining Adeptus Soritas, wielding their mighty bolters with underslung flamethrowers. Their power armour clad forms are surprisingly lithe and do not slow us down as we sneak out of the city, intent on the relay station we passed in the country side. The Celestian and I trade reports, both expressing gratitude at the other’s survival but fear for Colonel Taijing, who was last seen fighting with three companies of Imperial Guardsmen at his side on the outskirts of the city. As no-one had heard from him for a number of hours the situation looked bleak, although we had not given up hope. Marching double time our strange group of scientists, tech adepts and plate armoured women trudges into the forest at the outskirts of Old Swordpoint and towards the relay.

+Our march to the relay takes the better part of three days and although she is carried much of the way by the Sororitas Initiate Ulrica’s condition is worsening. Although she has been healed of her physical wounds she seems to be suffering a maladies of the soul and mind, rocking back and forth and muttering to herself when left unattended. If this is the psychic backlash of the creatures being bred in Installation 00 that she refers to as “Carcophanixes” I dread to see their ability to cause havoc on the battlefield. As we reach the station the Accessor and his assistants get to work repairing and repurposing the relay, although doubts are raised at Ulrica’s ability to use the facility alone. Marius is suggested as a possible candidate for psychic linking with her but he informs us that in his weakened condition he would be unable of maintaining the link. There seems only one other option and with a heavy heart I inform Edrik to take the ten Sororitas elsewhere, under the proviso of burning one of the corruption amplifier nodes nearby.

+With the sisters gone the Accessor can get to his true work; preparing the relay for an astropathic message sent by a brintholium aided Ulrica. With Edrik’s feudal sensibilities unable to interfere the party had come to the conclusion that although horrible, this was the only path we could take. The manipulation of the relay itself constituted a sin against the God Emperor, let alone the use of illegal and heretical psychic stimulants to aid in Ulrica’s sending our message. I can only steel my heart and hope that our master will understand this indiscretion in the service of the greater good. As Edrik reports the amplifier node has been destroyed we begin the transmission, the frail Ulrica glowing a faint blue as the brintholium courses through her veins. Icharus has taken the remaining Swordwives and scientists outside, lest this heretical ritual tarnish their souls. Indeed as we observe the event I feel a stretching upon my soul, as if the actions being performed at my command were putting a stain there I may never remove. Nevertheless with a scream from Ulrica the message is sent, a magenta level distress signal specifically coded to our inquisitor. In a moment of flair we added an unofficial phrase: “Scalpel has finished incision, bring the hammer”.

+With the message sent Icharus sends the scientists back into the room and calls Marius and myself to a council outside the relay. He asks me whether I consider the brintholium inside to be enough to destroy the entire relay and after my confirmation he hefts the remaining krak grenade; “Those who blasphemed here cannot be allowed to live”. The grenade tumbles towards the brintholium tanks and erupts with a mighty burst of light as the substance turns to fire in an instant. The Accessor, his skitarii and all his personnel are burnt to ash in an instant as the party is flung clear of the blast in a gush of hot air. The Swordwives rush to the scene but Marius and I do not interfere when Icharus tells them a lie, understanding the necessity of what just took place. Leaving the burning husk that was once a relay post behind us we head once more back into Fervious’ immense jungle.

+Meeting at a distinguishable location beneath an old oak tree the Sororitas seem to buy Icharus’ lie as much as the Swordwives, although the necessary brutality of Ulrica’s death continues to bother me. I share with the Celestian our plan to head to the research facility we cleared some weeks earlier and use it’s advanced signalling dish to make contact with both Colonel Taijing and any ships that make it in system. In theory every astropath within a large area should have received our encoded signal, bringing at least the attention of our inquisitor. As we march through the forest, led by the Fervious locals, we hear the buzz of overhead vehicles but thankfully the dense foliage above shields us from both their sight and sensors. Could this be the Fervious PDF re-establishing order or even an uncharacteristically quick example of Imperial justice arriving? Either way we are powerless in this God Emperor forsaken jungle and trek on towards our objectives. Some hours later we reach the nearest Godstrees and all our assumptions about the true matter of Fervious seem to be insignificant, as a horrifying sight fills our eyes. Above the now blackened and destroyed trees hover clearly alien craft, overlooking an army of Fervious locals attaching large tubes to the broken Godstrees.
burnt%20stumps.jpg
[Pict Cap: Stryxsis dealers descend on the Brintholium quarries]

+I recognise the craft from my deepest memories as Stryxis, intergalactic traders and dealers in forbidden goods. They are declared xenos horribilis and their presence here at least explains the manipulation and hoarding of brintholium. In the hands of a xenos trading group who knows how far this psychic stimulant could spread. Unfortunately against such a large force we are once again without proper option, and leave to secure the communications dish. Back at the underground facility we clear the lithopeed corpses with fire and begin setting up the station as a base of operations. Some days later we come into contact with Colonel Taijing and he leads his remaining 100 guardsmen to our makeshift base for some well-deserved rest. As the pillaging of Fervious takes place overhead we discuss our next move and contemplate the Inquisitions response to our hail.

+We hide amongst the research centre's crumbling halls as the desecration of Fervious occurs above. A few days after the emergency call went out we receive a reply, the frigate Excalibur now at systems edge with an escort of lesser craft. Passcodes are exchanged and with relief we discover the craft is in fact carrying out Master, come to bring the Imperium's justice upon Fervious. True to form he acts swiftly and without mercy as he enters system, downing the Stryxian vessels and forcing the rest to flee. We rendezvous with two out riders from the Piety 4th Imperial Guard regiment, apparently brought here with haste on the orders of the Inquisitor. We are escorted to the nearest pillar city, where the Excalibur had docked and commandeered the facility. Marched through the venerable vessel by the Inquisitor's personal guards we are brought before him in the ships audience chamber, bringing with us Colonel Taijing and Celestian Scythier. The Inquisitor greets us with brisk warmth, inquiring as to my mission statement and finishing writing I hand it to him.

encounter%20pillar.jpg
[Pict Cap: The Piety 4th deploy from Flotilla Excalibur]

Cult of Misrule Fervious Investigation Summary:

To the Lord Ordos Hereticus Calixis;

Lord Cyprus,

Here follows a summary of my affairs in the x expanse.  I am pleased to report that the matter has been concluded to my satisfaction, though the mastermind remains at large, as you foresaw. 

THE TARGET
A heretical conspiracy, now identified as the Cult of Misrule, which has, over successive decades infiltrated and controlled key commercial interests of agricultural concern the Cestelle Alliance. It has duped and exploited the holy Imperial Adeptus of feral-class world Fervious, and through sorcerous, techno-heretical and xeno-heretical means, used or manipulated the Arch Bishop, Lord Governor Taijing of Fervious and Archmagos Paracellsus of the Adeptus Mechanicus. I fear we are only now coming to appreciate the scale of it's activity. 

MISSION GENESIS
I dispatched Acolyte Cell Osiris to Fervious some weeks ago, when the Lathe Forges initiated a costly legal challenge to a long-awaited Chancellery Court decision that would have allowed the return of tithers to the remote feral-world. It is uncharacteristic of the Forge Lords to expend such effort over an obscure and unproductive corner of space, and  I soon reached the conclusion that their intention was to spare Fervious from proper imperial scrutiny. However, while pursuing a related inquiry on nearby Piety, I was unable to take up the matter personally. The mission was led by Gallus Dolor, whom I have since elevated to the rank of Interrogator. 

MISSION BACKGROUND
Fervious has languished for several hundred years, following a dispute with the Adeptus Mechanicus which saw them withdraw all resources and technical support from the world. Since M41 125 it has degenerated from an nuclear-capable civilization to a state of sub-feudal barbarism. While the ruling warrior class imposed some structure by force, much of the world was near lawless, roamed by megafauna and superstitious tribes. I can now confirm that this long-obscured dispute was between the fleet-based Archmagos Thule and the then-Dynast Tobias Mouri. It pertained to experimental technology developed by the Fervians in the area of cellular and DNA research, science that strayed into the blasphemous realm of bioengineering. 

Yet it was not religious rage that prompted Thule to orbit-bomb the civilization's capital, but spite that they would not share their secrets with him. The raids he undertook were vicious, but not rigorous. In his covetousness for knowledge - a trait yet exhibited by his Disciples - he smashed apart numerous labs and facilities to pillage their secrets, leaving open ruins in his wake. It is this wanton acquisitiveness to which we may ascribe the extreme biodiversity of Fervious; the megaflaura 'Godwoods' with which we have become concerned, as well as various species of megafauna-  from so-called 'ogres' to 'dragons' -are very likely the result of bio-accelerant spills,  escaped experiments and other 
 fallout from the casual destruction of Fervious' scientific infrastructure. Another possibility, discussed later, is that cells of Mechanicus researchers remained behind, using Fervious more-or-less continuously as a testing ground since the fall of Old Swordpoint. 

I suspect -though it is mere speculation as yet - that the remarkable pockets of ecological activity on Kreutz, that stubbornly persisted in spite of the all-encompassing atmospheric dust, is also connected. It would seem too drastic a coincidence for this Archeform creature, engineered from the genetic material of the Skyblooded, to not also have its roots in the stolen secrets of Old Swordpoint. 

GROUNDWORK
In M41 801, Lord Governor Edo Taijing embarked on a mission to change the tithe-class of his world. Having watched his family struggle for generations to bring structure to the trackless wilds of his home planet, he rightly concluded that only through the imposition of an Imperial order could his world be salvaged. He enlisted Archbishop Longdraw and an abundant population resource to vastly increase the numbers and influence of missionary orders on the planet. The resultant organization came to dominate Fervious culture, a rule enforced by a proto-Sororitas seminary, the Swordwives, and Redemptionist offshoots such as the Axes of the Sun. In close coordination with the Church, Taijing began coordinating agricultural development across the surface. 

By  846, his successes attracted the attention of the Cestelle Alliance, an organization that controls nearly two thirds of all agricultural production in the Sector. Through their intervention, the tithe output of Fervious has now been raised to productive heights exceeding nearby combustion-capable planets. 

When it became apparent on the last visit of the tithe ships that Fervious was to have it's status reviewed, the Mechanicus reappeared almost overnight. Sweeping harvest projects and trade agreements with the Alliance and government were coordinated in a few short years. At about the same time, legal disputes between the Forge and the Imperium at large began cropping up, and the rest you know. 

To all appearances, the drastic restructuring of Fervious from a feral/tribal to a near-feudal agricultural theocracy brought the Cult of Misrule back to the planet with such urgency, that they risked drawing the attention of the Inquisition. The obvious conclusion is that some ongoing operation here was threatened by such things as the logging of the megaflora.  On this basis, and in light of reports from my Acolyte Primus, I had made the following deductions. 

The Church
1) The Cult played some part in increasing the Church's status on Fervious. An already nature-focused religiosity was manipulated to include a self-flagellative element, which fueled the blasphemous tele-conductive bio-batteries being cultivated in the Godwoods. 
It is clear that this was accomplished psychophonic suggestion, subliminals embedded in the song of the augmented Choristers given as a gift to the Archbishop in 849, a few short years after the Mechanicus' return. 

The Cestelle Alliance
2)The Cult played no part in the arrival of the Alliance, but their resources were co-opted into the scheme. It was the rapid development enabled by their intervention that endangered the clandestine operation of the Cult, but they also provided opportunity, such as their purchase of several Pillar City facilities and Godwood sites. At least three of these were turned into into hideous incubators for the sacrilegious 'Cacophanex' breed, which could not have been accomplished without the complicity of Forestries Ministrix Emeline Taijing. 

The Lord Governorship
3) It was only  the ambition to better the situation of his homeworld that led Edo Taijing to his death. The drastic reforms he enacted to enable the transformation of Fervious brought about significant progress, but posed a significant threat to the Cult which had exploited Fervious as a testing and incubation ground for centuries. We're it not for his consistent failure to perceive the conspiracy coiling around him, I would be recommending him for posthumous commendation and elevation. The military and administrative wings of Imperial government remain without blemish of dishonour. 

The Cult Mechanicus
4) Against all appearances, the Mechanicus was not fully under the control of the Cult. The logging of Godwoods for example is a typical symptom of the insatiable industry of a Forge Fleet, but ran directly counter to the Cult's interests. That they were unable to avert this simple disruption indicates that they remained concerned about discovery by others within the Fleet, preferring to delay, obfuscate and obstruct rather than confront. This is typical of the loathsome Graff Priori, whose whereabouts remain a mystery. 

MISSION RESOLUTION
The Astropathic message sent by the late Initiate Ulrika at the behest of Gnosis was accompanied by a shockwave of psycho-kinetic agony. Reports from nearby worlds and fleets suggest a mortality rate among recipients of 9 -12%. Judging from the efforts of my Acolytes, it could have been much worse. 

I hastened from Piety aboard the troop-carrier Excalibur, accompanied by 2 light raiders of the Reach battle fleet. We arrived within 2 weeks due to favourable Warp-weather and made contact with the small enclave of Exiles my Acolytes had joined. 

Upon arrival we found a substantial flotilla of Stryxis slave-ships in orbit. I immediately ordered an attack, destroying  several vessels, leaving several to burn up in atmosphere and engaging the rest in a contest of tonnage. Some hours later, the Excalibur received the Celestian, Colonel Taijing and Gnosis aboard, where I learned that shiploads of tithe, refined bio-resources and Cacophanex creches had been steadily shipped away by the Stryxis over several days, apparently aided by Cestelle personelle, offworld mercenaries and deluded natives. It is apparent to me now that some deal had been brokered between the conspiracists and these disgusting aliens, the princely resources of Fervious in exchange for some unknown bounty. Following Conclave, I began issuing orders for the immediate pacification, purification and  reeducation of Fervious. 

ACTION REPORT

  • Scans revealed that three Pillar sites owned by the Alliance housed incubation and hatchery facilities. I ordered the sites destroyed from orbit, lance strikes to collapse the superstructure, then sustained melta-charge and megabolter bombardment to eradicate anything buried in the wreckage. 
  • This action prompted the declaration of a no-fly-zone over Swordpoint and angry warnings from the Pillar Cities. I entered a prolonged negotiation with Archmagos Paracellsus to avert open war between my pacification force and the Skitarii. 
  • In response to an attempt to send a message past our blockade, the decision was taken by Osiris to intervene with ground forces. An accord was negotiated with the Acting Archmagos, with members of the cell each spearheading an assault on an enemy stronghold;
  • The Government  Manor of House Taijing was quickly captured with the aid of the Order of Gardeners, under the direction of their former leader, Colonel Trell Taijing. Only a small but fanatical band of Sanctionaries resisted the final storming of the corridors, being necessarily slaughtered to a man. Edo Taijing was later discovered in a state of brain-death, likely the victim of a Cerebral Annihilator and a cunning clean-up crew from the Cult. There were no survivors to confirm this prognosis. 
  • The Cathederal of Swordpoint was heavily contested, first blasting us with shrieking, dissonant Choir-Song, then unleashing legions of frothing Archo-Flagellants to butcher swathes of Guardsmen as they assaulted the gates. The walls of the inner bailey are painted thick with the blood, its halls and corridors clogged with piles of tangled limbs and scorched bodies, captured at a heavy cost. The Archbishop, once a man of faith, is made small in uncomprehending senility. His obsession with the heretical Choirsong has rendered him imbecilic. nevertheless, he will face the full legal consequence for his neglect.
  • Finally, the Cestelle Alliance stronghold, seat of the Ministrix, was heavily manned, guarded with artillery and topped with anti-air defenses. Nevertheless, a smooth, by-the-book assault led by a heavy-gauge bombardment and arial support saw it's defenses crumble over many hours. The foot-battle was bloodier, and upon the revelation that a Cacophanex Silo was being protected within, I was called out of negotiations with Paracellsus at my side. We agreed that a lance-strike was the best option, and the remainder of the pacification was handled jointly.

SUMMARY

Fervious is in the care of its new Lord Governor, elder statesman Colonel Trell Taijing, and the Piety 4th detachment. The future engagement of the Mechanicus, Church and Alliance here will be subject to review by the Inquisition. At this time, all are being treated as suspicious, with a thorough process of purification will be undertaken presently. expect further reports as the reeducation process continues. I expect to uncover medium to low-level operatives of the Cult at best, but significant strides have been made in the review of available evidence of their activities here. Within a few weeks, I will advise you as to the next phase of my investigation into Priori's affairs, in what I hope will constitute the final resolution of the Thule Matter. 

Inquisitor Raphael Vulpus

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