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Rogue Trader - Exodus
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Lt. Commander Zarkov
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Montresor wrote:
Lt. Commander Zarkov wrote:
"You say that no argument survives if it wants for clarity. Then clarify. Why are you traveling in the direction of the Templum?"


Helmont smiles, while taking a seat upon a heap of vines. 'The same reason you are, Zarkov'. The scholar's smile stays upon his face for a few seconds longer and he slowly closes one eye, in a deliberate parody of a wink.

The men watch Malachi and Zarkov awkwardly for a few quiet minutes while Helmont chews on some dried grox meat, offering some to his new companions. Within very little time, the scouts return.

[The scouts are three men dressed in the same enforcer armour of the other two. Helmont briefly explains your presence and suggests that everyone moves on immediately. The scouts claim that the vines are much thicker ahead, and display disturbing traits. They refuse to explain this, for fear of sounding foolish, but insist it is best if Helmont sees this for himself. The men are marked with the same slightly unusual styling of Heale's livery. Zarkov had a natural 01 success on a test, and he is convinced that the livery has been imperfectly copied from samples of Heale's own markings. Unless someone wants to do something, I will assume you procceed, and my next post will detail this]


Zarkov smiled thinly at the "scholars" response, and declined the offered grox meat. The copied markings on the men's uniforms disturbed him. Perhaps these were brigands and pirates, posing as Heale's agents. But for what purpose? Here to snatch the valuable tech from under her nose?
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 10:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With a new-found and uneasy alliance having formed, the explorers set off with Helmont and his five men. The camp temporarily abandoned, the party presses onward, through the humid, vine-choked underground.

Half an hour along the tunnel, the explorers begin to notice that the clear sap from the vines falls more frequently here, and that mis-shapen fungus grows in almost every conceivable space of wall. Parts of the soft, pulpy vines are clumped with sick looking growths of a red and yellow bark.

[Both Zarkov and Malachi succeeded in Perception tests. They notice that some of the growths have definite shape to them, undeniably resembling parts of malformed visages. The effect is both surprising and profoundly disturbing]

Helmont stops to examine some of the growths, either oblivious to what he is seeing, or unaffected by it. 'Fascinating! This whole underground is a treasure of unusual flora. Literally. Yes. Did you know that these are the growths which have been feeding the narcotics trade on this asteroid? How wondrous life is, that it may proliferate even in the depths of this place, amongst the ruins of an ignorant faith'.

Helmont coughs awkwardly. He shakes his hands vigorously and tries to smile. 'I meant no offence, Malachi. I do not say that all Mechanicus are ignorant, just that the faith is. Well, I cannot apologise now, even if I have offended. Let us carry on, yes?'
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Please, Helmont. I'm an Explorator. I wouldn't be out here if I were a zealot."

Malachi looks at the growths.

"How do these plants get processed into narcotics? And what do they do?"
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 11:36 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Helmont nods politely, without a trace of mirth or good-humour. 'The sap that you see dripping from the vines creates these fungal growths. These are collected and dried, usually under rudimentary heating systems, for several days. The resulting, hardened matter is ground into a fine powder - the narco-tribalists often employ outcast children for this purpose, as over exposure has been known to lead to mutation.

'The powder is spliced with other refined substances, and often with many unrefined ones, to create a highly addictive drug. It's called Delta, unsurprisingly. Delta induces extreme heights of pleasure lasting for up to eighteen hours. Profound hallucinations occur while the Deltite is in a more-or-less soporific state. These have been known to be fatal to psykers'.

Helmont catches some sap on a finger tip of his void suit. 'Known side effects - malaise, depression and . . . in extreme cases, insanity, mutation. The last side effect has yet to be proven, but I have no doubts that it is true.

'The central garden district proliferates with fungal growth, and it's a hotly contested district amongst the tribes. This is probably where Heale's troops . . . by which I mean, the gardens will be where my Lady's soldiers shall launch their main assault. An end to this trade would be a good thing. Put the asteroid to better use'.
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Lt. Commander Zarkov
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 12, 2010 12:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Montresor wrote:
Yes. Did you know that these are the growths which have been feeding the narcotics trade on this asteroid? How wondrous life is, that it may proliferate even in the depths of this place, amongst the ruins of an ignorant faith'.

Helmont coughs awkwardly. He shakes his hands vigorously and tries to smile. 'I meant no offence, Malachi. I do not say that all Mechanicus are ignorant, just that the faith is. Well, I cannot apologise now, even if I have offended. Let us carry on, yes?'


Zarkov bristled visibly at the comment. He was on the verge of saying something rash when the Explorator cut in. Cooler heads prevail, he thought. Malachi was obviously keeping the peace, lying to the men, biding his time. If the time came, Zarkov knew, he would make Helmont die slowly for his slight. Grotesque images of violence flashed through Zarkov's mind, and his characteristically thin smile gained teeth.

Quote:
"This is probably where Heale's troops . . . by which I mean, the gardens will be where my Lady's soldiers shall launch their main assault."


There was no doubt in Zarkov's mind now. These men were impostors, not to be trusted.

Trying to put the thought out of his mind lest it find voice, he occupied himself by examining one of the disturbingly malformed growths more closely, as Helmont ranted about the fungus.

[Another test (Scrutiny/Per). What malformed shapes does Zarkov see within the fungus?]
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lt. Commander Zarkov wrote:
[Another test (Scrutiny/Per). What malformed shapes does Zarkov see within the fungus?]


[Success. Zarkov stares closely at one knot of shapes. There is something bestial in a face that Zarkov perceives in the yellowish bark. A hooked mouth just pressing against the surface, and the hint of reptillian, slanting eyes. A chill gathers down Zarkov's spine and his head reels a little. He tears his eyes from one shape to the next, and a grotesque series of wicked contortions, some of which suggest repellant copulation, assault his sight]

Zarkov staggers back with a shudder, catching the heel of his armour on some vines, and he falls backward. The vines soften his fall, and he imagines he feels them welcoming him. An impulse of pleasure courses through the First Officer, and he cannot help but exclaim in horror.

[Zarkov gains 1 Insanity Point]

Helmont and his men look at Zarkov with surprise. 'Are you alright?' the scholar asks.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 9:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarkov pointed with a shaky finger to the malformed bark. Now that he recognised it he could easily make out the shape of the mouth, even at this distance. "Creatures, reptilian beasts. Below the fungus. Look."
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[If Malachi looks at the bark, he sees nothing in particular. Shapes which may have been misconstrued, though no concrete images]

The soldiers look about themselves at various chunks of bark, prodding the vines with their autoguns. Helmont holds the portion which Zarkov is pointing to in white-knuckled fear.

Looking between the bark and Zarkov, Helmont shakes his head, though he is not mocking. 'There's nothing here, Zarkov. Just some oddly shaped growths. Have you never stared at a cloudy sky and seen all manner of things within? Come now, let us move on'.

[As far as Zarkov is concerned, the vile faces and forms are still as visible as before]
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 13, 2010 10:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The men began to walk off, some shaking their heads. Zarkov got to his feet, still staring at the apparition. Unsure what to do, he drew his sword and stabbed the hateful monstrosity in the bark through the eye.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 16, 2010 4:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As they were walking, Malachi asked Helmont "How much further to our destination?"
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Clear, viscous sap coats the tip of Zarkov's sword as he plunges it into a bark protusion resembling the lump of a bestial eye. Nothing else occurs and, rather than being left alone amongst the vines, Zarkov carries on, though he sees faces and twisted limbs everywhere.

Malachi wrote:
As they were walking, Malachi asked Helmont "How much further to our destination?"


'A few hours or less,' Helmont replies simply. He motions with his hands to his retinue, his fingers describing unknown loops and symbols that evidently have no military origin. The men nod silently and fall into an advanced position, leading with all but two men who take up the rear.

Trudging through the thicket of vines becomes taxing work which exerts heavily upon the explorer's endurance. At points the vines have grown so thickly that they need to be clambered over. Thumb-sized beetles dart amongst the fungus, and clumps of hardened eggs and nests can be found in the dampest spaces.

[Both Zarkov and Malachi passed Toughness checks and, thus, are not fatigued]

Eventually, the party reaches the end of the vast transit tunnel, where they clamber onto an overgrown loading platform. The humidity here is almost unbearable, and the rythmic beating of once distant generators is now clamorous. Helmont motions to press on, stepping over large depressions of crushed vines and fungus.

From above, another sound is just audible, and what dust that is not entirely smothered by vines is periodically shaken from the ceiling. A distant and echoing boom boom boom reverberates.

The explorers move on, through another tunnel to where a network of broken cog-vaults seem to honeycomb the rock. Everywhere, the vines have overgrown stone and metal.

'We haven't much time,' Helmont says, a little involuntarily. 'And it's best for us if we make little noise and do not loiter. The central generators are at the end of this tunnel, through the final cog . . . let's not waste time anywhere else'.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 1:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Montresor wrote:
Clear, viscous sap coats the tip of Zarkov's sword as he plunges it into a bark protusion resembling the lump of a bestial eye. Nothing else occurs and, rather than being left alone amongst the vines, Zarkov carries on, though he sees faces and twisted limbs everywhere.


Zarkov grimaced and wiped the ooze from his sword. He felt distinctly uncomfortable and avoided the vines at all cost as he walked. His mind tried to accept that what he was seeing was an illusion, but could not. Keeping his sword drawn, he took to casually stabbing the walls and floor along the way.

Quote:
From above, another sound is just audible, and what dust that is not entirely smothered by vines is periodically shaken from the ceiling. A distant and echoing boom boom boom reverberates.


Zarkov listened curiously to the booming sound from above, trying to place its origin.

[Is the sound rhythmic or not? Can Zarkov tell if the sound is consistent with heavy weapons fire, shipborne artillery, or something else he would be familiar with?]
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lt. Commander Zarkov wrote:

[Is the sound rhythmic or not? Can Zarkov tell if the sound is consistent with heavy weapons fire, shipborne artillery, or something else he would be familiar with?]


[The sound is rythmic, and consistent with a sustained and deliberate barrage. It is unlikely to be batteries from any vessel, and is probably artillery or armoured fire. Whatever it is, it has been going on for at least ten minutes]
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As Helmont's men increased their pace, Zarkov took his opportunity. Hanging back slightly with Malachi, he beckoned the explorator closer. With the unrelenting clamour it was unlikely the men would hear them talking, let alone decipher their conversation.

"That noise from above; it sounds like heavy weapons, armour perhaps. The invasion may have already begun." He paused, watching the troops as he spoke. "But I do not think these men are part of Heale's advance force; their insignias have been copied, badly at that. They are frauds."
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Malachi thinks upon this for a moment.

"Well spotted. It makes me wish I'd thought of that... we could have saved ourselves a lot of trouble back at the docks."

After another short pause, with a regarding gaze, he continues.

"Let's keep working with them for now. I'm hoping we have a common enemy in Heale. As long as we work together, we have a better chance of making it out of here alive."
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 23, 2010 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Zarkov nodded curtly.

"As you will, brother."

He sheathed his sword and drew his lasgun, habitually checking the magazine. The action served more to calm his nerves than anything, as he knew it was nearly fully charged. He rammed the magazine home, hurrying to catch up with Helmont's men.
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 24, 2010 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

boom boom boom

Dust shakes free from the vines, and a low rumbling can be heard from far above.

The party procceeds along the access tunnel, past sap-pooled recesses of vines, crushed down by some great weight.

boom boom boom

At the end of the tunnel a large, broken, cog-vault leads into the main generator complex. Lights dimly glow from beneath fungal growths, which almost intend to blasphemous shapes. Vile hues of colour clump and spore like nodes of sickness. Generators humm while entwined in loops of vines, which merge at their base with coolant cables, data lines, and fuel regulators - almost as if the machines built here by the Mechanicus have grown into something else. The whole chamber is large enough to hold a market, yet the place appears more like a jungle than a Templum.

Only the summit of one generator tower is free of the thicket. A black, compact machine, glowing with a baleful colourless stone is perched where numerous coolant cables are fixed into its own machinery. The device looks small, and appears to be more of a plaque than anything of ancient tech origins.

'This is it . . .' Helmont exhales. He runs his gloved hand through his wiry hair and staggers forth. 'This is it. How wonderful . . . how intact . . . pristine . . . unspoiled by all this technology'.

Clanking suddenly like a chain set in motion, a noise rises from a dark recess in the chamber. Metallic whirring, like a servitor whose machine spirit is sick, clicks and clangs from beyond. And there is something else. A vent of air or gas, sighing out, then in. Almost like the sound of something sick breathing.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 25, 2010 9:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

With Helmont's men ahead and Helmont himself wandering forward, Zarkov felt the hairs rise involuntarily on the back of his neck. The noise he had heard was nothing natural...

Beckoning Malachi to stay back, he put the men between him and the dark recess. Peering from behind cover, he struggled to discern the source of the sound.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 10:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

[Malachi expended a Fate Point on a roll to discern the nature of the noise]

The Explorator listens, with a growing sense of disquiet. The metallic clicking reminds him distinctly of a servitor's augments, or the mechadendrites of a tech-priest. Yet, the awkward groaning of the sound could be nothing less than the sickness of a machine spirit. The raspy, breath-like gasps are absolutely not the sounds of a ventillator. Something vast and living lurks in the chamber. Something unnatural.

Helmont presses on, while his guards fan out in the room, watching the darkness. The Servo-skull bathes vines and fungus in a sphere of light but, where the light does not fall, the sounds of insectoid crawling are everywhere.

One soldier heads towards a darkened corner, attracted by the sounds of breathing. He shines his torch upon the darkness, hunting for movement, yet finds none. All around the chamber stand towers and mounds encased in vines, while the baleful glow of the stone permeates the darkness.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 30, 2010 10:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Holding back with the tech-priest, Zarkov managed a whisper.

"What happened to this place?"
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