Ship: Dark Horizons
Location: Warp Space, exact location unknownFiles:
The acolytes traveled on the “Dark Horizons” a rogue trader vessel as part of Tempest-Alpha-1, an expeditionary fleet into Tempest Reach. While on board the PCs were ordered by their Inquisitor to do manual labor to help the ship survive a few minor technical difficulties, including the roasting of an entire cargo hold when a logic engine malfunctioned and decided it was too cold and the hold should be turned up to 500 Celsius for 3 minutes.
The ship was put on food rationing and the PCs were ordered along with teams of ratings to clear the hold of burnt foodstuffs. The acolytes were invited every night by their Inquisitor to dinner for reasons the acolytes could not determine. He never joined them but a break from the rating-grade slop dispensed by the auto-cooks was welcome.
One night at dinner Oldavai actually came and showed the acolytes a request to an Arbitrator on the ship to investigate a murder of a Lt. Colonel of the 5th Tarskan Light Infantry (a guard unit on the Dark Horizons). The Arbitrator in turn requested help from Oldavai after he learned of a possible occult connection with the murder.
The acolytes went immediately to investigate the murder scene, found the body had been moved around to “protect the dignity of the deceased.” They got an autopsy report from an acolyte on the ship who had run the size of the wounds through a logic engine and had decided that the wounds were caused by a ritual dagger used by a death cult from a world a 1,000 light years away.
Our investigators also learned that the deceased (Lt. Colonel Garth Valor) had many enemies on the ship. The 76th Uldun Mechanized hated him for leaving some of their men to die on a battlefield years ago and there had been at least one friendly-fire incident with his own men that had resulted in a summary execution. The acolytes quickly noticed that the deceased was missing his side-arm. They also found a piece of discarded paper on the floor with a bunch of lines on it. They asked Harmin Vain, an acolyte assigned to the Arbitrator to help them try to decipher it.
Interviews with Commissar Darm, Lt. Markus Santhom (both of the 5th Tarskan) as well as Brother-Sergeant Tiberius (Black Templar Space Marine Chapter) painted a picture of the victim as a brave, curious loyal soldier who had made (perhaps through no real fault of his own) many enemies over the years. Searching his room turned up some contraband and some borderline heretical materials but nothing that marked him as a servant of the ruinous powers.
An interview with Private Kashif of the Uldun 76th revealed that a Private Shay of the 5th Tarskan was very angry with the deceased and had sworn revenge after the deceased had confiscated (stolen) a weapon of some type. The acolytes immediately assumed it was the missing bolt pistol.
At the same time, Helen, the acolyte in charge of Oldavai’s archives finished her analysis of the scrap of paper found at the crime scene and had determined it was a map of deck 15 (where the deceased was found dead) along with extensive mapping of the ventilation and duct systems. The auto-cooks were also clearly marked with “Xs” on the map.
The acolytes decided to explore the vents. Inside they found the partially consumed corpse of a ship-rating who had been missing for a week and a trail of blood that led deep into the bowels of the ship.
Emerging in the mysterious “Deck 37” the acolytes found a part of the ship that had been sealed off for decades since the warp inhibitors had failed. The acolytes had several terrifying hallucinations as they searched through the forbidden and ruined deck of the ship. The floors were covered in old ration containers and they came upon places where the walls were marked with hand-drawn star charts as well as a shrine to some distant world called “Bahmut” that was in a different Segmentum, thousands of light-years away.
As the acolytes searched the forbidden deck they were attacked by three mutants. A desperate struggle began in the dark ruined deck as apparitions of the warp plagued the acolytes. In the end the acolytes destroyed the mutants and identified Lt. Colonel Garth Valor’s killer among them. They recovered his ration card and bolt pistol.
After some investigation the acolytes determined that the mutants were three algae farmers forced to join the ship thirty years ago. They were conscripted against their will form a world called Bahmut and they had thought to gone AWOL almost thirty years previously but instead it seems they had escaped their work group and hidden on the ship. When Deck 37 lost its warp inhibitors and was shut down the three escaped ship ratings had used it as a home, always hoping that the Dark Horizons would way day again return to their home world so they could try to get off.
Instead as they waited for decades on the forbidden deck they were exposed again and again to warp space and their bodies and minds slowly mutated until they became abominations of men, their shapes cruely twisted by the forces of chaos. When the ship’s food stores dropped because of the logic engine failure the crew was put on rationing and the mutants had no easy access to food. They tried to steal food but failed and finally attacked Lt. Colonel Valor and stole his ration card as well as the ration card of a ship rating.