The Inquisitional soldiers-at-arms, accompanied by two Strictionist officers, decided to ensure the Emperor’s light still illuminated the Temple of Recompense. All seemed in order until they came upon a sign identifying a room as restricted for Living Saints only. Suspicious of the heavy reinforced door they faced, the Hereticus soldiers, with the help of a local builder named Harden & his assistant Phend, gained entry by going through a neighboring wall.
Before long, Harden had knocked a hole through the rock plaster. Following a brief surveil by Trantor’s optical mechadendrite, Arion boldly utilized the improvised ingress. Besides a small open tome on the counter & a pile of Ecclesiarchal robes on the floor, there seemed little amiss in their enemy’s haunt. That is, until the assassin peered into the half-open vestiary against the far wall…where he was met with incorporeal serpentine physiognomy.
The sight of this malefaction turned Arion’s blood to ice , causing his legs to heedlessly carry him away at speeds testing human bounds. He fled past his comrades in the neighboring room wide-eyed & less than articulate. The vile visage exited the now exposed vestiary, causing the watching Mechanicus Acolyte to suffer a severe overload in his cogitation centrifuge…and now reeling…followed the footsteps of the fleet assassin acolyte as quickly as his locomotive flange would permit.
Those still in that access room noticed that Phend yelled out as his head tilted and his eyes rolled back, causing his boss Harden to turn at the sound. The rest of the room emptied in the direction of Arion and Trantor as they realized the horror they faced. The last out saw Phend take Harden to the floor in a cacophony of rending flesh sounds.
As the Acolytes recovered from their terror, a running combat with the vile apparition ensued. It could move through walls, blade strikes & ballistic rounds but was able to envelop and crush those who were close and lash out with sharp extensions of its amorphous form for those at range.
Odessa engaged it with her warp-induced powers but which seemed to have insufficient effect. Arion attempted to attack it with a holy symbol, even going so far as leaping into the dark abyss of the closet of where it was first discovered – gravely blackening his spirit…but to no avail. He also attempted to quickly research ways of its possible demise in what turned out to be the taint-filled journal of Talus, lying open in the Living Saints lair. As his soul darkened, his frantic skimming uncovered suggestions of Hesiod’s Wake’s secrets…but he did not discover the specific secret he sought.
The Cell, unable to find a weakness in their foe, finally determined escape the better part of valor. They soon returned with flamers obtained from the Sworn Protectors, the planet’s PDF, as well as a Fire Team of flamer-wielding SP infantrymen. The horrific visage was not to be found and they torched the vestiary and the Living Saints room it was located in. When they burned the door an odor filled the air, a smell that the Protectors identified as resembling a poisonous plant native to the planet. When the embers began to cool, they observed that the unnatural darkness had seemed to recede & they determined they had done what could be.
They ordered the Temple sealed & guarded and set out to locate Ignis, a name that had surfaced repeatedly in their investigation. Flying in the shuttle to the frontier of farmland, their discussions revealed a number of adolescents who professed to know Ignis, but claimed she had bid some of them a permanent farewell in the last 48 hours, her destination undisclosed. One girl also claimed that Ignis was leaving with her best friend, Esta Fartumm.
The Cell returned to The Emperor’s Light meeting Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, of the Ordos Xenos, for the first time. He had received an update from Captain Jerak & were reviewing the evidence amassed by the Acolytes. He explained that interrogation of the captain of a smuggling ship, the Profitable Chance, intercepted in the Scintilla system by the Imperial Navy, led him to this system. He’d learned that the smugglers had been hired by an unnamed organization for periodic cargo runs. The route was mainly between Hesiod’s Wake and Scintilla, but included others including between Scintilla & Iocanthos. Smuggler Captain Berwic Fintel also “volunteered” a passphrase used by his employer, that Inquisitor Karkalla thought might be useful: “Sonum efficit, qui excubant in Infernus est, et vultus illius” (Low Gothic-“Watch for the sound that makes none and the visage that is faceless”).
Indeed, it unlocked the hard drive the Cell had recovered from the forest base, adding more light to past shadows:
- Footage showing Adept Kerred Smyk putting the previously discovered wooden box containing psy-foci in the base storage area.
- A memo intended for “A.H.” regarding keeping an eye out for the Inquisition, who continues to interdict their shipments (Inquisitor Karkalla commented upon viewing that, besides the recent single captured smuggling ship he is unaware of any past interdiction)
- Footage of five individuals boarding a ship, the Dark Heart, in the forest base, dated in the dark very early morning of the same day the Acolytes discovered the base. The 5 were Jaleb Samtoll, Kerred Smyk, an older man in local garb and two females, possibly in their 20s, in local garb.
- Footage of restrained humans in the forest base cargo area dated a month ago. Some were manacled and others had strange solid metal boxes, covered in glyphs/runes, affixed over their head; a item Karkalla identified as a “Witch Cage” that is used to restrain psyker powers.
Karkalla said he was going to the planet’s surface to view things for himself, but suggested they all soon reconvene on Scintilla, along with their master Inquisitor Vaarak. The Cell filed their report via the ship’s Astropath & returned to Scintilla.
Upon arrival they were ordered to a meet in several days aboard the Verdant Glory, an Imperial Naval ship in orbit. There they joined Inquisitors Vaarak & Karkalla. Vaarak asked questions about the Cell’s report. He remarked on his respect for Inquisitor Karkalla, a personified backbone of Imperial strength. He ordered them to continue to run to ground every possible lead on the corruption of his trusted senior acolyte Aristarchus. Vaarak told them he would be dealing with the continuing developments on daemon infested Iocanthos – so he was seconding them to the authority of Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla. He remarked it unusual, most especially so outside of ones Ordo, but Karkalla was a trusted ally with similar beliefs to his own & this investigation came before any questions of jurisdictional details.
At that point Vaarak asked Karkalla to inform the Acolytes of the latest developments. Karkalla said he’d received a communication recently from an old contact, Laurent Strophes, regarding xeno-tech discovered during Strophes’ quiet inquiry into his missing niece, Saia. The device had come from an Imperial cult called The Joyous Choir. The Inquisition had found that the xeno-tech Strophes turned over was eerily similar to that found inside the broken tarot card discovered in the cathedral of Iocanthos settlement at Stern Hope. Nobleman Strophes was open to assisting the Inquisition in penetrating this cult to investigate the proscribed device (and hopefully Strophes’ niece). The Acolytes were ordered to go undercover as the Strophes visiting off-world noble cousins. Their remit was to investigate the Joyous Choir and to run to ground on the planet all leads thereby discovered and to report back to Inquisitor Karkalla within a month’s time. This was a fact finding mission, however, clear heresy should be dealt with at their discretion. In the interest of maximizing their information gathering, they were not to expose themselves as agents of the Inquisition to anyone other than the Strophes unless they have absolutely no other choice.
Vaarak informed the Cell that Ordo Hereticus had received a formal request from High Sorteliger Lethe Tarriacta of the Adeptus Astra Telepathica for an investigation into a continued unexpected decrease of psykers on Scintilla; a very unusual development for the sector’s capitol. Such a request required prompt attention; since their investigation had them operating on Scintilla and involved psykers, they were instructed to keep their eyes open for answers to the High Sorteliger’s inquiry.
Lastly, Vaarak told the Cell he had looked into reports of any landings of a ship anywhere in the sector by the name of Dark Heart. He received word much sooner than expected, for the ship landed on Scintilla itself several days prior. The ship name was immediately identified by the spaceport for it suffered a severe fire soon after landing that spread to much of the hanger. Eleven burnt husks were discovered, of which five were identified as hanger crew from their dental records on file.
[Intios: With the help of two Strictionists, we entered the temple to investigate further. There were two doors in the back corner. The first door led to a storage room. The second door was labeled “The Sanctuary of the Living Saints” and had the word “Halt” on it. The door seemed reinforced and our psyker, Odessa, told us that she could feel warp presence around the room.
Instead of going through the second door directly, we decided to get the construction master to punch a hole through the wall of the first room into the second. Master Harlan with the help of his assistant was able to use his pickaxe to bore a hole through the wall.
Arion crawled through the hole first and a few seconds later, we heard a scream from Harlan’s assistant, Phend. This was followed by Arion running out of the room and Trantor just behind. The two would not stop running which could only mean that there must be some malevolent force within the Living Saints sanctuary.
With my lasgun drawn, I took cover behind one of the pews. The next thing I saw could only be described as a vile ethereal shape. This creature seemed to walk through walls and solid objects. I could instantly feel the corruptive nature of this creature but was able to fight the urge to run away. I hit the creature with multiple shots from my lasgun but it appeared to pass straight through it. Odessa even tried to invoke her warp powers onto the creature but to no avail. This ethereal being would try to suffocate us in melee combat, but it also was able to lash out at us with some sort of tentacle attack from a distance. With its attacks, it was able to rip through the front plating of my flak cloak.
When Arion and Trantor were able to snap out of their stupor, the two joined Odessa and I in confronting the creature. Arion ran back into the Living Saints Sanctuary to try to find more clues while the rest of us kept the creature distracted. Arion ran out of the room with what we discovered to be Talus’s diary. We hastily retreated back to the Strictionist precinct to get more help.
We returned with eight flame weapons to try to close the portal of this vile creature. We set fire to the original closet it was hiding in and also the front door to the sanctuary. By this time, there were no more signs of the ethereal creature. We had the Strictionists lock down the temple and to allow no one in until further cleansing was done.
With the clues we found in Talus’s diary, we decided to head to the frontier to find Sampson’s bluff and Ignis, a possible psyker. While some local youngsters said they knew Ignis, we could not locate her whereabouts. With our leads exhausted, we flew back to the Emperor’s Light to meet with Inquisitor Karkalla.
After a detailed debrief, Karkalla said he was able to decrypt the remaining portion of the hard drive we recovered in the forest base. Apparently psykers were being transported through Hesiod’s Wake from Scintilla. Karkalla also informed us that the tithe on this planet will be turned over to the Cestelle Alliance.
From previous readings regarding the Cestelle Alliance, I know that they were founded on the Agri-world of Regulus in the Hazeroth Abyss Sub-sector. Now they are in charge of tithe collection across a wide band of planets within the Hazeroth sector. While I am sure that the tithe under Cestelle will remain the same or even increase on Hesiod’s Wake, I would like to see for myself if rumors of their traditions are true. I will do my part to make sure that Hesiod’s Wake does not disappear from the Administratum records in the future.
We adjourned from the debriefing and were told by Karkalla to meet him and Inquisitor Vaarak within orbit of Scintilla aboard an Imperial naval vessel. Upon arriving in system, both Inquisitors briefed the group on our next mission. We were to go undercover on Scintilla to look into a new cult calling themselves the Joyous Choir. Nobles and highborn being infiltrated by a possible heretical cult? Sounds like my kind of investigation. When do we begin?]