Tempest Reach

Chapter 1: The Underhive

Sector: Caeladeus Sector

World: Alcolyn

Hive World – Population 33 Billion

Location: Galth City, 5th Spire, Mid Hive

It began with our Acolytes hot on the trail of a rogue noble from the Upper Spire. Named Jean-De-Gross this “noble” is suspected in the murder and ritual mutilation of an unknown number of mid-hive citizens. As night falls across the hive and good and loyal citizens are going to their sanctioned rest cycle Jean-De-Gross slipped out of his 756th story apartment and into the middle hive. The Acolytes followed.

De-Gross was slippery and made several attempts to elude pursuit. The Acolytes lost track of him for a time as they approached the Under-Hive. The militia manning the checkpoint into the middle hive were using elicit chemicals known as “speed sticks.” After threatening to expose the militia as chem-addicts the Acolytes learned that their quarry had indeed crossed into the Under-Hive and had been met by one of his retainers who gave him a large container that he dragged into a sewage duct.

The Under-Hive is inhabited by all kinds of dangers. Ganger leaders offer the only form of law, corpse-starch merchants sell the only available food. Below the Under-Hive lie dark and forbidden regions where only mutants and worse can survive. The Acolytes checked their weapons and followed their target into the depths.

After much searching they found a pack of mutants consuming the bones of some hapless victim. Disgusted by the mutants appearance and knowing their very existence was an affront to the Emperor the Acolytes opened fire. The mutants charged and battle was joined in the dark and dreadful silence beneath the hive.

One mutant stabbed an Acolyte through the neck with a shattered human thigh bone. Another mutant fought a sniper’s duel with another Acolyte. Eli Cromwell the III through several grenades, shattering the Mutant’s ranks while Serghar blasted them with the power of his mind. One mutant was so confused by psychic attacks that he accidentally blew the head off one of his companions.

As the mutants lay in pools of their own blood and ichor, Jean-De-Gross stepped out into the rubble of the street, his body encased in dark black-metal carapace armor. This Xeno-suit was equipped with two vibro-blades on the back of his right hand. His visor was up and his lips covered in blood and partially consumed flesh. He snarled and charged Cromwell only to be met by Cromwell’s blessed blade.

Heretical Noble

The two fought in hand to hand combat for over a minute, Cromwell parrying every blow as though he was on the practice-room floor while the Acolytes fired again and again at Jean-De-Gross’s armor, searching for a weak point. Shell casings rolled across the ferocrete as clip after clip was emptied into the heretic. Finally his armor broken and his body riddled with bullets Jean-De-Gross was gunned down.

Behind him in the dark lair of the fallen noble and his mutant allies the Acolytes discovered a dark shrine to forbidden gods where humans were sacrificed and their bodies consumed. They burned it and returned to the middle hive to await a transport back to their Inquisitor to report success.

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Chapter 2: Dark Horizons

Sector: Caeladeus

Ship: Dark Horizons

Location: Warp Space, exact location unknown

Files:

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.

Mutant 300x175

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Chapter 3: Husk

The acolytes arrived as the world of “Husk.” This was not their original destination. The Rogue Trader vessel “Dark Horizons” was headed for Sybilus, an affluent hive world with twenty-five-billion plus citizens and vast wealth and political influence. By setting up a base on Sybilus the acolytes and their master Oldavai Skane would be able to investigate heresy over the entire sub-sector.

But the Dark Horizon miss-jumped and instead found itself floating near a salt-desert world on the fringe of the Reach known as “Husk.” With three days needed to prepare for another jump Oldavai sent his most trusted team of acolytes down to the surface of the barren world to “Bring the light of the Emperor” to this desolate and forgotten place.

Desert world

The accolytes boarded a shuttle and headed to the surface along with a dozen missionaries who were going to spend the rest of their (probably short) lives on the miserable salt world preaching the word of the Emperor. As they descended a malfunction in the shuttle’s throttle controls caused the craft to accelerate to a 3G burn through a high velocity dust storm. As the accolytes prepared for the end the missionaires enthusiastically sang their praises to the Emperor and prayed for deliverance. Only by shutting off the engines and executing a few quick rolls to dislodge sand and dust from the engines was the pilot able to regain control of the craft and land at “Drop Zone City.”

In Drop Zone City the acolytes found that the planet was largely ungoverned. A single passenger with a fifty year old travel ticket tried to board the shuttle and was granted passage by the acolytes off world after he offered them what information he had about Husk. A single Sherriff presided over the town with a “citizen committee” to perform the basic types of government. Smugglers are the only remaining people to visit the world and the deal exclusively with slavers to get the best prices on salt-acids that the planet exports for industrial purposes.

The acolytes also discovered alien monoliths all over the planet and even inside human settlements. They were apparently left behind by a long dead alien civilization. The acolytes also found that there was a certain amount of acceptance of mutants as the towns mechanic “Urial” was a mutant and was not outcast as a result. The planet is also inhabited by an indigenous human tribe from an ancient colony called “mummies” by the locals.

After speaking with the townsfolk the acolytes learned that the Sherriff was missing and had been missing for several months. The acolytes then decided to break into the Sherriff’s office. Here they found that he kept meticulous notes and a log book which showed his last trip (over a year ago) took him to a place called “Far Town” where he said there was trouble with the mummies and people were disappearing. The Sherriff was obviously a loyal imperial servant though and had done his best for the people of his town as a lawman and protector.

Deciding that finding the Sherriff was a task they could accomplish in the two and a half days remaining to them on Husk the acolytes hired a hovercraft and Urial, the town mechanic, to drive them the few hours to Far Town. On the way the hovercraft was attacked and Urial was killed by the so called “Mummies” who ambushed the vehicle with a clever trap that tangled and disabled the hover-fan.

The acolytes killed the four ambushers but could learn nothing about their enemies. Only that their weapons were primitive and they were still human.

Traveling on the acolytes arrived at Far Town and met the Mayor and the Sergeant at Arms. Both told the same story that the Sherriff had passed through about a year ago but had moved on and had “probably been killed by the mummies.” The acolytes became suspicious of both and didn’t like either of them but couldn’t figure out what was going on or what might have happened to the Sherriff.

Investigating further the acolytes discovered that the Sergeant at Arms had a “Mummy” prisoner. They agreed to interrogate the prisoner for the Sergeant. They bribed the Sergeant with some alcohol to get rid of him so they could privately interrogate the prisoner.

They began with kindness and it almost cost Crasus his life. As he offered the prisoner water she moved quickly and grabbed a knife from his belt and put it to his throat. The acolytes quickly subdued the prisoner but not before Crasus lost a little blood.

The mummy told the acolytes that she and her people attacked Far Town to kill the “White Haired Devil” who was an inhabitant of the town. The White Haired Devil was “disturbing the stones” by which she meant the alien obelisks. She also venerated the “Star Father” which the acolytes took to mean the emperor. In the end they believed her but feared that if they released her it would cause a disturbance in the town. They manhandled the now drunk Sergeant back into the barracks and questioned him at gunpoint about the “White Haired Devil” and the location of the missing Sherriff.

The Sergeant claimed that the White Haired Devil was an archeologist called “Aegis” who had been living in the town for several years, but he was harmless. The Sherriff he still claimed came and left a year ago.

The acolytes went into town and found Aegis living in the nicest house the town had to offer. He was a the 6th son of a noble house of Sybilus. He claimed to be here at the far end of imperial civilization to study the alien artifacts and he claimed to have found nothing. But the acolytes caught him in several lies. He said he couldn’t wait to leave the planet but when offered a trip off he backed down. He claimed to be fascinated by the Xeno monoliths but then he claimed that after more than five years of continuous study he had learned nothing.

The acolytes agreed to spend the night but wanted to see Aegis’s notes. The acolytes hung around outside his study and talked with Aegis through his door as he was gathering his notes. Finally becoming convinced that Aegis was somehow up to no good they broke down the door only to find that Aegis had been using a high quality communication device to pretend to be in his study and he had already fled the building.

Searching his study the acolytes discovered that he Aegis knew a great deal about the Xeno Monoliths and had made some kind of enormous breakthrough in the last year and a half at “Site 3.” The aliens were ancient sea-creatures. They had destroyed Husk, turning it from an ocean world into a salt-desert in a great war they fought with one another. They had great powers and Aegis seemed to think he was on the verge of discovering alien secrets that would grant him power and possibly immortality.

Using a map of the area found in the study the acolytes pursued Aegis to Site 3.

Here they discovered a massive alien ruin filled with hundreds of pod-like sarcophagi. Inside Aegis, the Mayor, the Sergeant and another cultist were busy draining the blood of two slaves onto one of the sarcophagi. As the acolytes watched in horror the sarcophagi began to open and a dark purple-black tentacle began to snake out from inside, all while Aegis screamed with joy that “the secrets of the universe would soon be his.”

A firefight began as the acolytes attempted to purge the cult and the object of their worship, the alien that was now creeping from its ancient stasis-pod. In a desperate attempt to prevent the alien from leaving his sarcophagus Elli ran forward and tried to throw a grenade inside. But the will of the alien was too great and he just stood still with the grenade in his hand, unable to overcome the will of the Xenos. Nicademous charged forward, grabbed the grenade, pulled the pin and tossed it into the stasis-pod while pulling Eli to the ground.

There would be no escape. The alien was still trapped inside the tiny sarcophagus and despite it’s awesome psychic powers its body was shattered by the grenade.

The acolytes killed the rest of the cultists and captured to the Mayor who they took back to Far Town and executed in the street for all to see. As the acolytes returned to orbit and the Far Horizon they made their report to Oldavai who ordered an immediate lance-strike on the ancient temple and Far Town. Both were annihilated in a single flash of light.

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