Pages: [1] 2
Author Topic: Spaceships, Sixguns, and Cylcopean Horrors Log  (Read 10859 times)
Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« on: November 01, 2011, 03:54:01 PM »

Spaceships, Sixguns, and Cyclopean Horrors
Adventure Log

Once Upon a Time in a Strange Aeon


You and the rest of the Demoiselle d’Ys (a decommissioned Squamous Class frigate which saw action during the War of the Unfathomables) are bounty hunters, roaming the fringes of known space and tracking down outlaws, brigands, and other miscreants.  Your current contract has brought you to the Grey Gulf, a favoured refuge for criminals on the run: reality-fissures and Dislocation storms wrack the region of space, impeding search efforts.

Your target is a mad devotee of Nyarlathotep, a dangerous man called James N’Gai whose reverence for the Crawling Chaos knows no bounds.  This crazed occultist has stolen a data disc containing one of the Pnakotic Fragments from the New Salem Library of Forbidden and Blasphemous Works on Dunwich, fleeing the Miskatonic System in a one-man Effulgent Class ship, Tsathoggua's Daughter.

Apparently operating alone, N’Gai has traveled to the edges of the Betelgeuse System.  You have tracked him to the Mooncalf: a petrified cosmic being adrift in space, one of the many casualties of the primordial war between the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones.  Resembling a very large, malformed asteroid, the Mooncalf has long been the preferred hiding spot for Byakhee-rustlers, smugglers, poachers, bandits, heretics, and all manner of other ne’er-do-wells.  These villains have sheltered in the Dhole-infested bowels of the slaughtered Old One, shoring up the meandering, non-Euclidean tunnels with stolen building supplies and scavenged space debris.  These ramshackle additions have made the twisted insides of the Mooncalf semi-habitable.

N’Gai is wanted dead or alive; you’ll be paid so long as the data is recovered.

The Crew

Captain Gideon Carter – played by Xathan

A grizzled veteran of the War of the Unfathomables, Captain Gideon Carter is haunted by the memories of uncanny battlefields where demoniac monstrosities summoned by the Xothic League’s military obescenemancers gnawed half his platoon from the inside-out and phlegethon grenades consumed the rest with living fire.  His left arm – lost during a boarding action on a Xothic space station – has been replaced with a fungal prosthetic grown by Mi-go chirurgeons: a flexible, polymorphous thing which responds to his thoughts, twisting into virtually any shape he can think of.  Apart from this appendage Gideon is rather ordinary in appearance: a scarred, rather grim man in his early middle years, customarily clad in a purple duster, with a wide-brimmed hat shadowing his pocked, perpetually stubbled features.  His weapon of choice is a Headsman Model 7, a metaplasma-coil six-shooter – puissant cartridges being too bulky for a single firing cylinder, modern weapons technology (reverse engineered from Yithian weaponry) has reverted to a revolving chamber design.

Gideon is a dour, rather humourless fellow.  A staunch libertarian, he generally maintains a “live and let live” philosophy with regards to the various species and creeds of the galaxy – “I don’t care if it walks, crawls, slithers, or scuttles, so long as it isn’t trying to lay its eggs in my brain” – but he reserves a special hatred for the Polypous race after seeing the aftermath of their hideous specicide of a Mi-go colony during the early days of the War.  In his words, “The Tch-Tcho, Shan, Deep Ones, Ghouls – they may not look pretty, but they think like men, got a sense of right an’ wrong, even if it’s strange to you an’ me.  They got a soul, if you believe in that sorta thing.  Li’hee syha’h n’ghft, the Polyps got no souls to speak of – no guilt, no remorse, no reason.  There’s no dealing with things like that save with a loaded gun.”

After the War, Gideon dug the Demoiselle d’Ys out of a scrap heap and refurbished her by selling spoils he gleaned from the sack of Thuggon.  For awhile he attempted to find work as a trader, but gradually he drifted back into mercenary work, then into thief-taking.  Despite his bloody profession Gideon has a strict code of ethics to which he inflexibly adheres.  In essence, he refuses to kill innocents but shows no mercy against lawbreakers; he believes that all beings (with the exception of the Flying Polyps) are entitled to their own place in the galaxy; and he believes unflinchingly in the importance of freedom, provided it is not abused.

Gideon’s preferred drink is terrestrial whiskey (a flask of which he always keeps on his person).  He has a phobia of cats, and subsequently finds Ulthari rather unsettling.  Though not a religious man he occasionally mouths a prayer or two to Nodens, Lord of the Great Abyss.

Ramsay Olmstead - played by Ghostman

One-quarter Deep One, Ramsay Olmstead is a mercenary employed by Captain Gideon Carter.  A hulking brute in appearance, Ramsay is something of a gentle giant: when not pursuing criminals he is partial to chess (playing countless games of it with Father Blake) and cooking – especially shellfish.  Ramsay is well over six feet and has a belly to match his height; though at first glance he looks human enough, closer inspection reveals that he possesses fully functional gills, slightly webbed digits, and rather protuberant eyes with large pupils, as well as a slightly greenish-grey skin tone.  A proficient brawler, Ramsay prefers pugilism and wrestling to ranged combat, though he is quite skilled with the Enoch & Curwen Combat Shotgun he typically carries – a rather antiquated weapon which fires solid shot rather than metaplasmic projectiles.

Unlike many “half-breed” Deep Ones, Ramsay is extremely proud of his aquatic heritage.  Openly worshipping Father Dagon, Mother Hydra, and Great Cthulhu (even going so far as to keep a small shrine to the these deities in his quarters, complete with clay figurines), Ramsay bears a tattoo of the Sleeping God’s mantra – Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn – round his right bicep and a symbol of the Esoteric Order of Dagon on his chest.  Often he can be heard croaking ritual prayers in his cabin, imitating the burbling intonation of purebred Deep Ones.  He goes swimming at every chance; during the long voyages through space, when swimming is impossible, he spends hours in the bath, using up much of The Demoiselle’s hot water in the process (to Gideon’s perpetual annoyance).  During these marathon dips he incessantly blares Deep One heavy metal, which he claims to find soothing.  His favourite band is called Idh-Yaa: posters of the all-female Deep One punk-metal thrashers, ironically clad in shredded retro swimwear, cover his walls.

Born in a Deep One reservation on Whatley’s World, Ramsay left to make his fortune many years ago, but he still keeps in regular contact with his grandmother, sending frequent hyperspace messages to her.  He met Gideon in a saloon: a pair of xenophobic humans, members of the Unsullied Brotherhood, had been tormenting him, mocking his drink of vodka and brine, threatening him, and taunting him with racial slurs.  Ramsay broke the nose of the first Antidegenerationist and was about to deal with the second when the sneering man pulled a Harlequin Metaplasma Derringer on him, insisting that he leave immediately.  Gideon – who’d observed the entire affair from a shadowy corner of the bar – simply shot the bigoted man in the foot.  While Ramsay retrieved the Derringer the scarred aethership captain proceeded to stride across the bar and stick his gun down the wounded man’s throat, warning him that if he ever hassled any “subbies” (subhumans, as the Antidegenerationists term Ghouls, Deep Ones, and the like) in his hearing again, he’d blow the man’s brains out.  Since the incident Gideon and Ramsay became fast friends – even if Gideon can’t stand Ramsay’s taste in food or music.

Apart from his odd friendship with Father Blake, Ramsay has a definite crush on Sthena, the ship’s Yithian-possessed mechanic and tech specialist, though she is totally oblivious to his interest.

Father Blake

Perpetually clad in yellow robes and a pallid mask and bearing a silver flute, Father Blake is a lama of a beneficent aspect of Hastur.  The priest pays his own way on Captain Gideon’s ship; though he claims that his funds are derived entirely from alms, he seems to possess unusual wealth and has, in certain emergencies when the crew’s funds were especially short, paid for repairs to the ship or covered medical expenses for other crewmen.  He follows the bounty hunters of the Demoiselle in order to scrawl the Yellow Sign on the foreheads of criminals killed by the group, consigning their souls to the care of the King in Yellow with a tune from his flute.  He often converses with captured criminals being brought by the bounty hunters for trial, apparently in an attempt to reform them.  These sessions are intensely private, held in the Demoiselle’s holding cell: Father Blake calls them “confessions.”

Despite worshipping what many regard as a deity of madness and unspeakable horror – an interpretation Blake obviously regards as extremely skewed – the good Father seems to be a kind, reasonable man.  He is partial to the occasional game of chess, a taste he shares with Ramsay; the two often have intense spiritual debates over these games.  He gets along passably well with Sthena but is mercilessly teased by the sardonic pilot of the Demoiselle d’Ys, Richard Xu and distrusted by the ship’s sawbones, Doc Tenebrous.  He spends most of his time in his own quarters studying from the small library of theological texts and grimoires he keeps with him.  At times strange lights emanate beneath the cracks of his door, and he seems to be speaking with someone.  When pressed about this he claims to simply be recording messages for his fellow lamas at St. Haita’s Monastery on the third moon of Haddath, or listening to their messages.

Though Father Blake prefers not to kill unnecessarily he is a decent enough shot, wielding a pair of Strigoi M13 Micropistols.  He always carries with him a copy of the New Carcosan Bible (which includes the controversial play The King in Yellow as one of its scriptural books), whose eldritch formulae he sometimes invokes when witchcraft is required, though he is somewhat reluctant in the role of “miracle-worker,” Captain Gideon’s wishes aside.

Sthena – played by sparkletwist

Six years ago, Sthena “Naughty Angel” Murdoch was an exotic dancer on Cythera, living paycheque to paycheque and making her living in the fleshpots.  While giving a client – a wealthy sulphur-refinery owner, in fact – a private dance, Sthena collapsed into unconsciousness, her eyes rolling into the back of her head.  The owner was alerted and, believing Sthena to be suffering from an overdose of the highly illegal pleasure-drug known as Ishtar’s Tears, conducted her into a backroom, where she shortly revived.  Upon awaking from her stupor, however, Sthena was oddly changed: her voice, mannerisms, body language, and facial expressions were all subtly but distinctly altered, and she seemed to have no memory of her own past.  Looking down at her risqué outfit and raising an eyebrow, she informed the club owner that she would no longer be requiring employment at his establishment and briskly walked out, still unclothed, into the street.  Shortly after, she departed Venus to explore the rest of civilized space.

Sthena is, of course, no longer Sthena: she has been possessed by one of the Great Race of Yith, a being projecting its consciousness forward through time in order to record future history and make certain observations regarding the shape of events and the development of culture.  While this phenomenon is now well-documented, Yith-possessed individuals are often rounded up by many of the galaxy’s governments and research centers, locked in phase-cells to prevent their consciousness’ return to its own time, and then interrogated (sometimes forcibly) in order to extract valuable technological and occult knowledge – knowledge the Yith are reluctant to surrender, given their time travel protocols (what they refer to as “Chronological Etiquette”).  Wishing to avoid this fate, Sthena has fallen in with Captain Gideon Carter and his crew – what better way to experience galactic society than with a crew of vagabonds?  While Gideon and the rest of the crew know her true nature, they conceal this secret from others.  Since Sthena possesses incredibly extensive knowledge of Yithian technology (the very technology on which modern hyperspace drives are modeled) she makes a perfect mechanic and engineer.  The engines of the Demoiselle d’Ys run with perfect smoothness, and in fact Sthena has made a few small but significant alterations to the vessel to improve efficiency.

Physically, Sthena appears as an extremely attractive human woman in her early twenties.  She cut her host’s long red hair and keeps it very short.  Erotic tattoos cover most of her body, including a pair of prominent black angel wing tattoos on her back, quotes from the Song of Solomon along her right inner thigh, and a R’lyehian “tramp stamp.”  She has swapped the contacts her host used for a pair of very large horn-rimmed glasses.  Intellectually, Sthena is a genius by human standards, fully versant in over fifty languages and adept with almost any form of reverse engineered Yithian tech, which seem as children’s playthings to her.  Insatiably curious and wry of wit, Sthena sometimes makes embarrassing faux pas, as she is still not fully versed in the niceties of modern etiquette.  Though the Yith have an extensive knowledge of history, their accounts are incomplete, and so Sthena frequently makes anachronistic references.

Sthena is also a capable martial artist.  Her weapon of choice is a “lightning gun” which she built herself out of miscellaneous bits and pieces; though it takes several seconds to charge up, its effect is devastating, though it is not capable of pinpoint accuracy.  Aboard the ship her closest associate is Doc Tenebrous, whose stories she finds fascinating: often she can be found in the medical bay, pestering him for tales of the past.

Richard Xu – played by Ghostman

The curmudgeonly pilot of the Demoiselle d’Ys, Richard Xu is an old friend of Captain Gideon Carter.  During the War of the Unfathomables Richard worked principally as a drop-ship pilot, ferrying troops into battle, including Gideon’s platoon.  During a disastrous engagement on Shohni Richard heroically remained behind after other pilots had retreated, waiting to pick up Gideon’s squad.  Gideon and half a dozen men appeared out of the miasmic mists, slavering monstrosities in hot pursuit.  Richard managed to collect the remnants of Gideon’s squad but was hit in the abdomen by a festershell, an infectious bullet which releases necrotizing bacteria into the wound it creates.  Richard stoically returned the ship and the wounded soldiers within back to the Righteous Leviathan in orbit over Shonhi – without informing Gideon or anyone else that flesh-eating bacteria were rapidly putrefying his body.  By the time they arrived at the medical bay it was too late: Richard’s internal organs were on the verge of disintegration.

Fortunately for Richard, the Righteous Leviathan had a Mi-go medic aboard.  The chirurgeon scooped the pilot’s brain from his skull moments before the gangrenous infection could reach it.  While the emergency surgery permanently damaged Richard’s brainstem in such a way that his brain could never be transplanted into a new organic body, it did save the pilot’s life.  Richard Xu’s brain was placed in a Mi-go canister fitted with the requisite mechanical accoutrements necessary for speech and sensory input.  Because of his sacrifice Richard was decorated with almost every medal of bravery the Sovereigntist military could award and given an honourable discharge.  When the War ended Gideon sought Richard out and found the former pilot testing simulators for a major software company, having been rejected for employment as an actual pilot due to disembodiment prejudice, an unfortunately common perception that the bodiless are irreparably handicapped.  Offering his old war buddy the chance at actually flying again, Gideon brought Richard aboard the Demoiselle d’Ys.  His brain canister was wired directly into the ship’s circuitry, allowing Richard to pilot it by thought.

When the crew of the Demoiselle are out on a mission, Richard “accompanies” the group using a remotely controlled automaton while his brain canister remains on the ship.  This heavily customized android, dubbed “Mr. Rusty” by Richard, vaguely resembles a mechanical humanoid crossed with a spider (six arms, two legs) and is fully equipped with audio/video receptors and even basic weapons (a taser and a small metaplasma-coil pistol).  It also contains a selection of tools, allowing Richard to jack into any computer systems the group encounters, sometimes enabling him to disable security systems or unlock doors.

Temperamentally, Richard is an extremely grumpy individual.  He possesses a snarky, caustic sense of humour and an incredibly foul mouth, and can swear fluently in three languages.  Only Gideon gets along well with Richard: the other crewmen tend to find him exasperating in the extreme.

Doc Tenebrous - played by Sabrwolf

The sawbones now known only as Doc Tenebrous was born on Rhode Island in 1882; born into a prosperous middle-class family, he following in his father’s footsteps to become a skilled physician, eventually serving as a volunteer combat medic during the First World War.  After being critically injured by a stray German bullet and left for dead in the middle of a storm, he crawled into a cave (its walls scrawled with strange cave paintings) somewhere in eastern France and fell into unconsciousness.  When he awoke he found himself deep underground, surrounded by bizarre, vaguely humanoid creatures with horrible dog-like faces and pallid skin.  Though these beings – Ghouls – nursed him back to health, they refused to let him leave the caverns: he might alert the upper world to their presence.  The Ghoul warren was deep beneath the surface: there was no way the he could find his own path through the labyrinth of lightless tunnels.  Though at first he longed for his old life, eventually the man who would become Doc Tenebrous resigned himself to a subterranean existence.

As he recovered from his wounds, he realized that a curious change was overcoming him.  His nails were hardening and elongating rapidly; his skin was becoming pale and rubbery, almost cadaverous; his ears were becoming pointed, his teeth sharp, his eyes bloodshot.  When he pressed his healers about this alarming transformation they confessed the truth: his wounds had been so severe that he required a blood transfusion.  With no human blood available, the Ghouls had substituted their own.  Fed on a diet of Ghoul food, with Ghoul blood now flowing through his veins, he was slowly becoming a Ghoul himself.

Centuries later, when the greater human population became aware of their troglodytic cousins, Doc Tenebrous emerged from the dark corners of the earth with his Ghoul brethren.  The assimilation process was slow and fraught with violence – as it continues to be.  Doc Tenebrous sought solace in the depths of space, serving as a medic on a variety of ships.  Eventually he was hired on by Captain Gideon Carter after the veteran saw him operate on a shooting victim in the aftermath of a duel on Mars.  Suitably impressed with the Ghoul’s skills, Gideon offered him a position aboard the Demoiselle d’Ys on the spot, and Doc Tenebrous has served with him ever since.

In appearance, Doc Tenebrous resembles a typical Ghoul: a hybrid of slouching proto-human and hairless dog.  He has immaculate dress sense, usually wearing a waistcoat and trousers (cut to accommodate his hoofed, bowed legs) and a bowler hat.  A superb shot, second only to Captain Gideon himself, his preferred weapon is a Lloigor Mk VII metaplasmic revolver, which he claims reminds him of the old Webley service pistols employed at the turn of the nineteenth-century.  Cerebral and rather stiff in manner, the Doc keeps to his small medical bay when not out in the field with the rest of the crew.  His reserved demeanour is balanced by his intense courteousness and chivalry.  He is, of course, well over four hundred years old, and so has extremely extensive firsthand knowledge of history.  His favourite poet is Alfred Lord Tennyson, whom he is fond of quoting.

Ashley Crow

Once a well-respected, even legendary lawwoman with the New Arkham police force, former Sheriff Ashley Crow was dismissed from service after shooting an undercover Delta Viridian agent.  At the time she believed Agent Aleistor Crucian to be a Shan-possessed fanatic attempting to open a multidimensional gateway to summon Xada-Hgla, an avatar of Azathoth, when in fact he was on the verge of exposing a major witch-cult.  To this day she suspects that she was set up, that someone wanted her off the force for good.  Whether or not some conspiratorial faction engineered her downfall, the incident cost Ashley her badge; she turned to bounty hunting since catching criminals is all she knows.  Some on the Anti-Aberrance Squad (Crow’s old squad, which deals with occult crimes) have suggested that Crow saw too much, that the job drove her mad: they insist that the entire Delta Viridian incident was the result of Crow’s paranoia getting the better of her.

Originally a rival of Captain Gideon Carter’s, Ashley Crow fell in with the seasoned thief-taker after temporarily pooling resources with him to apprehend the notorious serial killer Gilbert Martense III, the “Cannibal of Kingsport”: the two realized that they made an effective team, and Ashley has been a member of the Demoiselle’s crew ever since.  A tall, statuesque woman in her mid-thirties with prematurely silver hair and hard, slate-grey eyes, Ashley Crow is striking, but she carries herself as if unaware of her appearance.  She frequently fidgets with the Anathema M-23 eight-shot pistol at her waist, though her weapon of choice is a Bugbear Model 5 metaplasma carbine.

Stern and rather curt, Ashley has had a huge chip on her shoulder ever since her dismissal.  A naturally suspicious woman, Ashley is a staunch maltheist and considers any form of religious worship foolish and potentially dangerous.  For this reason she frequently quarrels with Father Blake and Ramsay, constantly insisting to Gideon that their reverence will one day “get everyone onboard mind-raped, mutilated, and killed – possibly not in that order.”  Richard Xu constantly makes obscene sexual comments regarding Ashley as well.  She does, however, get along passably with Doc Tenebrous and Sthena, and she seems to share some kind of largely unspoken bond with Captain Gideon.

Apart from being an excellent gunfighter, Ashley Crow is a skilled criminologist and has contacts throughout the occult underground.  Her police intuition is superb, her observation skills excellent, and she is highly resourceful in dire situations.  Her sole hobby is jigsaw puzzles, one of which is almost always half-completed in her quarters.

Sakhr – Created and played by Coyote Camouflage

Sakhr is a name from ancient Earth Arabic which translates to "Solid rock". This moniker is quite apt, for Sakhr is a being composed entirely of Taconite. At a glance, Sakhr is easily mistaken for a golem-- he is a large being, his shape highly reminiscent of a winged, humanoid canine. His eyes appear to be peridots. Due to the nature of his form, flight of any kind is impossible-- the wings exist only as an apparent vanity, and Sakhr claims that he wears them by choice, despite their limited functionality.

Sakhr is tight-lipped about his real name, claiming that such knowledge is dangerous, and also part of the reason he is here. Anyone both curious and capable of civil discourse learn that Sakhr is from somewhere within the Dreamlands, though precisely what he is remains an enigma he is more than pleased to perpetuate for his own entertainment. He claims that he was rudely summoned by a being that wished an appropriately capable and ferocious guardian. Sakhr apparently fulfilled this role, except that he did not desire to do it, proving that he was more inclined to have a polite discussion and tea than he was to rend someone into small pieces. An error in judgment led to the vain summoner failing to understand the difference between capability and desire.

Sakhr likes this realm, however, and he is not quite so eager to return home as most other summoned entities often are. The reason for this is very simple, but also peculiar: Food. Sakhr-- whatever he is-- has no genuine need for sustenance in his home, but here, he is forced to ingest substances to maintain himself. He has taken quite the fancy to the delicacies he has tried-- finding very few not to his liking. Most such examples were either of completely inedible things, or so putrid and rotten that no sane creature would try to eat them. Sakhr has, however, demonstrated a natural skill towards cooking. And bartending. Were his appearance not so innately terrifying to most normal beings, he would most likely have little difficulty finding employment. Despite the fact that Sakhr functions well as a garbage disposal of sorts, he appears to have no small skill in a kitchen, capable as he is of providing exciting and intriguing delicacies. When Gideon can afford to keep the galley well-stocked, at least.

Sakhr was brought to the ship-- and Gideon's attention-- by Sthena, who had found something "really neat" that she didn't know about and wanted to show off. Despite his initial alarm, Gideon's policies meshed well with Sakhr's own temperament, and the two quickly found respect for the other. After a short discussion and demonstration of his uses, Sakhr was brought on board as both cook and occasional bullet-proof shield. Sakhr set himself up in the ship's galley-- working himself to add in a reliable bar to the mix. He functions as the ship's cook and bartender, and, if truly needed, another hand in a fight. Sakhr finds violence crude and unpleasant, despite being singularly capable in hand-to-hand combat. He has no ability with firearms at all. Instead, he prefers conversation, be it casual or formal in tone or material, and there is a kind and eager listener behind his fearsome face.

Sonam "Sonya" Choden

Though she does not look it, Sonam Choden – or "Sonya" as she prefers to call herself – is of pure tcho-tcho origin, able to trace her ancestry back to the original terrestrial tribes of Central Asia and, ultimately, to the primordial Miri-Nigri themselves.  Raised in a traditional tcho-tcho household, Sonya became disillusioned with her culture after her twin older brothers were killed in a turf-war between two rival Tongs in the Chauchatown of Moloch City.  She ran away from home, stowing away on a hyperfreighter heading to the frontier and becoming a pickpocket, burglar, and con artist, wandering from town to town, planet to planet, system to system.  She cut her nails and kept them well-pruned; she let her hair grow out of its original bowl cut and dyed it blonde; when she could afford to she had a chirurgeon replace her filed teeth with regular ones; she renounced worship of Chaugnar Faugn, Atlach-Nacha, the Twin Obscenities, and the other Great Old Ones revered by many of her people.  She ate synthetic human flesh coded with double alleles in the HMGA2 gene and suffered excruciating growing pains as her tcho-tcho metabolism assimilated the DNA and pushed her height from 4'3" to 5'1".  With agonizing slowness she transformed herself from a fanged pygmy into a still-petite but unremarkable young woman.  When a con required her to change herself further she would consume the appropriate genetic material, adopting a temporary visage to alter her genetic makeup.

Some years ago Captain Gideon was bringing Sonya in after the skilled thief stole an extremely valuable electromagnetic pulsed microwave weapon from a private collector.  On the way back to the ship the Captain was ambushed by a group of Ghoul thugs in the warrens of Nova Stygia.  Having disarmed Gideon, the Ghouls prepared to divest him of his valuable possessions: his weapons, clothes, money, skin, and vital organs.  Ignoring the handcuffed Sonya for the time being two of the slavering creatures approached while the third kept watch.  Though Gideon had handcuffed her with her hands behind her back, Sonya's tcho-tcho flexibility allowed her to easily reposition her arms round the front.  She crept up to the Ghoul standing guard, strangled him quietly using her chains as an improvised garrotte, picked up his weapon, and shot the remaining two Ghouls through the backs of their heads.  During this time Gideon reclaimed his own weapon; the two now faced a Mexican standoff.  Complimenting Sonya on her skills and thanking her for saving his life Gideon offered to tell the authorities she'd been killed during apprehension – if she joined his crew.  After a brief moment's hesitation Sonya accepted Gideon's proposal.

Since that day Sonya has been an on-again-off-again crewmember of the Demoiselle d’Ys.  She has her own hyperspace-capable ship, the Cacodaemon Class vessel Dream of Hyperborea, which she typically docks in one of the Demoiselle's spare shuttle bays while she is aboard.  Often she will come aboard the ship and work a few jobs while on the run from lawmen in another system (usually unbeknownst to Gideon), then leave once she grows bored.  Stealthy, nimble, and well-versed in the dynamics of the underworld, Sonya can be a valuable addition to the team.  She has an extensive array of criminal contacts and is a decent shot with the Morella Model 4 Pocket Pistol she always carries, though she prefers to dispatch foes quietly using knives and garrottes when she has to kill anyone, and further prefers to sneak past, trick, or otherwise disable enemies rather than killing them.

Hadrian Saxon-Sorne - created and played by The Meanest Guest

An ex-corporate marine formerly in the employ of the Thiessen-Suwei Corporation, Hadrian has extensive combat experience. He has participated in excess of two dozen boarding actions, been dropped in five orbital landings, and served aboard ship in two fleet-scale engagements during the Inner Lane War. Hadrian is rarely separated from his black plasteel suit of Thiessen Advanced Encounter Armour, being accustomed to its wear during long space voyages. His eyes are slate grey, and he keeps his blond hair cropped short in a military style. His complexion is unmarred by scar or burn in spite of all the battle he has seen, thanks in large part to the excellent aesthetic surgery package offered under Thiessen-Suwei's corporate health plan. Hadrian has been regarded as an exceptional marksman throughout his career, often serving as the designated sharpshooter in the various units he has been assigned to. He downplays his own contribution to his unerring shot, instead lauding his 5S MPR: a battle rifle from Suwei's back catalogue, it's design over two centuries old, and so archaic that it relies on magnetically accelerated solid ammunition. Apart from his rifle, Hadrian only carries an 8” Henrick V-Edge vibroknife, and a single NCORE fusion grenade that he refers to as his 'party favour'.  In addition to his skill with weapons Hadrian is an accomplished operator of terrestrial vehicles, having driven assorted tanks, APCs, and a myriad list of other military and civilian vehicles both under fire and in all kinds of inclement weather conditions.

Born in Providence City in the Betelgeuse system, the third of three children. Hadrian's parents divorced soon after he was born. He never knew his father, and he grew up largely ignored by his mother, Anne-Elizabeth. The task of raising him fell to his two older sisters: Theodora and Valentine. Hadrian loves his sisters dearly, and to this day maintains near-constant contact with them. The once-great cities of Yarnak were already mostly deserted by the time he was born, and only continued to empty and decay as he grew up. At the conclusion of his second year studying politics at the Royal College of Providence, his education was cut short. The university was forced to close its doors due to insufficient enrollment. His family's ancient fortune now dwindled to near-nothingness, finishing his studies off-world was not an option, and so, Hadrian stumbled into gainful employment in the ranks of the Thiessen-Suwei Marines.

Relaxed and generally cheerful, Hadrian gets along well with most people. The horrors he has seen do not seem to bother him, or he at least hides it well behind his easy smile. He has a passion for classical music, and can often be found with a guitar on his lap strumming out the songs of old Earth. He's surprisingly well read for an ex-corporate merc, and if he isn't playing guitar you can bet there will be a book in his right hand, and a glass of Martian bourbon in his left.  

Since the expiration of his six year contract with Thiessen-Suwei, Hadrian has found himself sporadically employed by Ptolem AG, one of the few private security firms still based out of Yarnak. Most recently he was assigned to provide shipboard security for the notoriously draconian Tasty Fruit company aboard the Wallowing Rex: a hauler carrying over three million tonnes of sweet plantains. Surrounded by an eery crew of Ghouls that didn't seem to speak a word of English, and enjoying the oh-so-pleasant conversation of the two obsolete SparTech Warhawk combat drones that Ptolem had sent with him, it was probably the only time in his life that he really wanted to kill himself. He almost found it relieving when the crew mutinied, tied him up in his sleep, killed and ate the ship's officers in front of him, and dumped him wide-eyed and bewildered in the middle of the back-end of nowhere: some rancher's field on Mandra-fucking-gora. But really, the fun was just getting started.

Down the Gullet

Most of the crew has gathered at the bow parlour of the Demoiselle d'Ys as the ship phases back into real space.  The Grey Gulf materializes around you, the scarred surface of the planet Yarnak looming in the distance.  Fragments of space debris float all around the Squamous Class frigate, a few smaller bits of scrap bumping against the ship's hull.  To either side, derelict vessels drift forlornly through space, many of them shorn in half, missing whole sections: the terrible results of Dislocation storms.  Others are strangely mutated, warped and twisted or covered in eerie growths, half-transmogrified by reality-fissures, unscarred spatial wounds suppurating chaotic energy which date back to the primeval war between the Great Old Ones and the Elder Gods.

The ship's valiant pilot, Richard Xu, is of course ensconced in his brain canister in the cockpit.    Navigating through the minefield of Nightmare Pockets, aetheric eddies, and other hyperspatial effluvia was challenging, but compared to the hectic piloting he did back in the War of the Unfathomables, it was a leisurely stroll in the park.  He zeroes-in on the Mooncalf's coordinates.

Sthena, down in the ship's engine room, soothes the M-drive with whispered Yithian words, adjusting the transdimensional filters and settling the Demoiselle back into real space.  Such primitive technology... like venturing out into the ocean in an inflatable raft.  Still, with her help, the ship stayed in one piece.  She hefts her lightning gun and heads for the bow.

Father Blake and Ramsay Olmstead are finishing a chess-game in the bow parlour as the ship unfolds back into real space.  The pieces are modeled after the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones, a carved, wooden, microcosmic replication of the titanic battle that once raged here.  The priest of Hastur, his face inscrutable behind its pale mask, has just moved his Queen - shaped into the semblance of the Elder Goddess Bast - to take Ramsay's rook, carved in the elephantine semblance of Chaugnar Faugn, and checkmate his King, the Daemon Sultan Azathoth.  The lama of the King in Yellow shivers almost imperceptibly as they phase into the Grey Gulf, sensing the eldritch emanations that suffuse the place.  Ramsay, frowning at the board, feels only annoyance at being bested once again by the enigmatic priest.  He absently scratches at his gill slits.

Seated in a corner of the parlour, Ashley Crow habitually checks and re-checks her weapons, obsessively going over every inch of metal, her eyes narrowed.  Doc Tenebrous watches her, his dog-like features contorted into an expression of mild concern.

The being known as Sakhr enters the parlour from the galley, a tray of fortifying drinks and snacks in hand.  Captain Gideon Carter enters the parlour from the cargo hold and places a large crate on the floor.  He is garbed, as usual, in his flowing purple duster and hat.  His bulky Headsman revolver glints in the lamplight.

Richard Xu's avatar, the vaguely arachnoid android "Mr. Rusty," clanks into the parlour.

Sakhr proceeds to see to the needs of the crew - however, he pointedly takes a wide berth around the chess players. He will eventually attend to them, of course, but they will be his last stop for those who wish food or drink.

Sthena strolls into the 'bridge', or whatever passes for it on this scow, unable to quite abandon the habitual sauntering, hip-swaying gait of her former self. She has foresaken her typical attire, on the other hand, clad in a simple tight uniform, or thing that resembles a uniform-- call her genre-savvy. She runs a finger through her short red hair regarding everyone with mild disinterest.

Richard, there's an old Mi-go derelict up ahead; the Mooncalf should be just beyond it.

Richard Xu announces through the ship's integrated speaker system: Got some damn warpers on the way but nothing I couldn't handle with one side of my brain shut down. Shouldn't take too long 'fore we reach the Mooncalf.

Sakhr turns to see Sthena enter. She is not as disliked as the chess match is, so Sakhr moves to her, serving platter in hand. His rocky steps thud across the deck, his wings tucked behind him.

As the Demoiselle d'Ys steers around the malformed hulk of an old Mi-go battlecruiser, its chitinous hull riddled with holes, the Mooncalf comes into view: a pallid monstrosity of stone, its bizarre, hideous surface dotted here and there with access ports.  It is hard to make sense of the petrified being's anatomy: you get a vague impression of vast, segmented cilia writhing out into space, of bulbous domes that might be eyes or glands or boils, of intricately knotted ganglia and gaping orifices, of strange membranous extrusions.  The god-corpse seems roughly ellipsoid and is pocked with hundreds of small craters.

As you watch a flickering red light flashes near one of the access ports and a door silently opens.  Out flies a tiny ship - Yakubian, judging from its spiky sensors and nacreous, windowless hull.  The ship squirms round a small asteroid and jackknifes into the esoteric dimensions of hyperspace, appearing to fold up like an origami bird, vanishing into some miniscule aperture of the spatiotemporal skein.  Within the ship, of course, nothing would have seemed to have changed, the interior physics of the vessel sustained by aetheric manifolds and dimensional compressors.

"Fresh rockfish roe, served on moonwheat crackers," Sakhry says.  "Care for some? I also have some fresher raw lemonstalk, if you would favour something lighter."

Sthena politely waves him away.  "No, not now." Well, maybe not that politely.

"Right," Gideon says, looking over the crew.  "Here's our plan of action.  We'll divide into two squads.  Each squad will take one of the shuttles.  Those on the Cybele will enter via the main entrance of the Mooncalf, called the Gullet, and head to Gorgetown to begin looking for N'Gai.  Those on the Sphinx will take, shall we say the "lower road" - what the inhabitants of the 'calf affectionately call the Demon's Asshole - and comb the hideouts in the Gutstone Tunnels.  The Demoiselle d'Ys will remain outside to ensure N'Gai doesn't slip away from the other exits; Richard, you'll have to hack into the docking networks and make sure you seal the access ports if you pick up Tsathoggua's Daughter trying to leave.

"Once we're any depth inside, we'll be out of radio contact with one another and with the ship - Mr. Rusty's wireless signal should be strong enough to get through but there's too much interference inside to maintain a proper radio signal.  We'll also need these -" here the Captain taps his foot against the crate - "Gravspurs, to anchor us in those parts of the 'calf that don't have artificial gravity.  You can disengage them if need be, but they'll damn useful down in that ebumna-nghft.

"A few words to those who've never been inside the 'calf before.  First of all: the folk there are real lampreys, a bunch o' hupadgh'Shub-Niggurath.  Don't trust them.  Assume everyone you see is armed and a potential threat.  If you can help it, avoid a firefight.  You'll probably be outnumbered if one occurs.

"Second: the dimensionality in there is unstable in places.  We're going into the innards of a dead G.O.O.  Things won't necessarily always make sense.  The deeper inside the thing you do, the weirder it gets.  Don't let it faze you: just stick together, and retrace your steps if you get lost.

"Third: watch out for the Dholes.  The 'calf's inhabitants have rigged shields to deter them from inhabited areas, but outside of those, the things can show up at any time, burrowing through solid rock.  If one's coming you'll feel a tremor similar to a small earthquake.  If that happens, run until the ground stops shaking.  Dholes can reach seven hundred feet in length and feel a metaplasma slug like a bee-sting.

"Fourth and finally: if you see N'Gai and aren't in a position to subdue him quickly and safely, do not hold your fire.  This bastard turned half of the New Salem Library's security guards inside-out when he made the theft.  He's a fanatic: there's no talking him down, no reasoning with him.  If he so much as whispers the beginnings of a spell, blow the nyth-shogg's brains out.

"Any questions?"

Sthena raises an eyebrow. "Why not simply ensnare him in a polyhedral transdimensional chaos-tesseract?" she asks, as though everyone should've thought of this.

"Uh... we don't have that kind of tech at our disposal, Sthena."

Sthena sighs, slightly disappointed.

"Do you wish us to attempt to subdue him first, or kill him on sight?" Sakhr asks.

"Subdue if possible, but kill him if he looks like he's got any chance of getting off a shot or a spell."

"Well I for one have no wish to have that son of a Voormi onboard the Demoiselle," Richard says through Mr. Rusty.  "Alive that is."

Sthena shrugs. "Will we paid more in the case of a live capture? If not, I see no logical reason to not kill him immediately."

"No logical reason," Father Blake interjects.  "But surely there are other reasons for sparing a man's life."

Doc Tenebrous, despite his general distrust of the priest of Hastur, mumbles in agreement.

"Oh, I bet you'd like some quality time with this one, Blake," Richard comments.  "Just to pass the time..."

Blake ignores the android avatar's jibe; Ramsay chuckles.  Sakhr observes. He smiles thinly at Richard's retort.

"Alright, enough horsing around," Gideon says.  "Let's split into teams.  I'll take Sthena, Richard, and Sakhr.  Blake, Doc, Ramsay, you go with Ashley."

Sthena straps her lightning gun to her wrist with a click. She whispers a few lisping locutions to it, the void-capacitors making a high pitched whine as the device energizes itself. She joins her team.

"My team will take the Cybele," the Captain continues.  "The other will take the Sphinx."  He clicks open the crate, gesturing for everyone to strap on a pair of gravspurs.

The Sphinx team strap on their spurs and head off to their shuttle.

Sthena examines the 'spurs, smirking a bit to herself at the primitiveness of it, but figuring any suggestion is likely to be met with a similar response, simply puts them on.  Richard sets the ship on a stable orbit whilst directing Mr. Rusty to equip itself and charge it's zero-point energy batteries to 100%.  Sakhr finds a same place to deposit his serving tray, lamenting the waste of food and drink on it. He then proceeds along to retrieve the gravspurs. He studies them suspiciously, first.

Gideon straps his own on and gets up.  "Alright, let's head out."  He makes his way from the parlour down to the starboard gallery, towards the Cybele's shuttle-bay.

The Cybele is a small craft scarred with old laser burns, a Rugose Class short-range interceptor.  Painted along the hull is a pinup-style image of a voluptuous woman tattooed as if writhing tentacles were exploring her lush contours.  The shuttle's single metaplasma cannon is marked with little shapes like black squids, worms, and skulls, signifying Cthonian, Flying Polyp, and human craft shot down.

"Richard, if you're not to busy hacking the docking network we could really use your piloting skills for this one," Gideon says to Mr. Rusty as he gets into the shuttle.

"Just leave it to me, cap," Richard replies.  "You know I could fly one of these birds through a Vulthoomic wormhole and sustain no more than half a percent in hull fractures, tops."

Sthena goes to give the metaplasma cannon one last inspection, of course, to make sure it's operating at peak efficency.

It looks in good nick.  Unbelievably simplistic, but perfectly operational.

Sthena smiles a bit to herself. Primitive as it is, she always found a certain quiet elegance in these weapons, and was amazed at the things that primitives could manage to do with them despite their enormous limitations. The same way someone from our era might have a certain reverence for a bow and arrow, really!

Sakhr thumps behind, cautious with getting used to the presence of the spurs. He observes the others, attempting to mimic, in some form, the collective calm they are displaying.  He folds his wings in tightly in order to properly fit within the ship's confines. Not for the first time, he silently curses the useless appendages.

Inside the Cybele is a cramped, rusty chamber with steel benches and firing slits sealed off during spaceflight.  A heavy metal door admits access to the cockpit.

Richard has Mr. Rusty take his seat in the cockpit, extending an appendage into the Cybele's control panel.

Sthena takes her seat, crossing her legs and busying herself monitoring the shuttle's operations.

The shuttle's controls flicker on and its engines flare.  The airlock seals and the shuttle drops into space.

The Mooncalf's main entrance is "The Gullet" - a puckered orifice set with a metal access port.  As the ship nears the port the door dilates open, revealing a winding tunnel extending deep into the slaughtered godling.

Richard Xu navigates into the opening with practiced ease.

You fly into the shadowy length of the tunnel, a curving passage about sixty feet in width.  Fossilized jags that might have been rows of fangs jut like stalactites and stalagmites from the walls of the tunnel, suggesting a gigantic maw.  As the Cybele slips into the calcified organic chamber the door it entered through shuts and small mechanical equalizers adjust the pressure.  A door at the fair end of the tunnel, nearly lost in the gloom, dilates open, and air rushes into the void.

Beyond the orifice the tunnel widens to several hundred feet and descends at a sloping angle, deep into the stony depths of the Mooncalf.  This oesophageal abysm is lined with ramshackle buildings connected to one another through a series of bridges, catwalks, and stairways, criss-crossing the pit and encircling its edges.  The settlement is built out of scavenged bits and pieces, converted derelicts and pieces of metal siding.  Dozens of arc lamps as well as candles and oil lamps illuminate the eerie gloom; there are also strings of electric lights, zigzagging across the cavernous space along with numerous cables and wires.  A large xenon sign fixed into the far wall above the crude settlement declares the place "Gorgetown."

Ringing the top level of the strange throat-town is a circular landing bay where many ships are evident.  There appears to be no protocol for landing procedures or docking safety: pilots have just set down wherever they can.  Most of the craft are cobbled-together aether-ships or short-range vessels without hyperspace capability.

As you pass out of the Gullet airlock you feel artificial gravity kick in, about terrestrial standard: while you're in the town itself you won't need to activate your gravspurs.

"Set her down wherever, Richard," Gideon says.

Richard Xu looks for a spot suitably away from the busiest sector of the platform, both to minimize attention drawn to the Cybele and the probability of a collision should any less capable pilots make use of the port.

You bring the Cybele in perfectly and open the doors.

Gideon steps out.

"Not a good place for extended visits," Richard says.  "Let's get on with our hunt, shall we."

Sakhr follows closely behind, both in order to clear his bulk from the shuttle's frame, as well as to potentially assist Gideon in case his very presence causes a disturbance.

You step from the Cybele out into the noxious air of Gorgetown.  The place smells of dust, old leather, rusting metal, ozone, gunpowder, oil, exhaust, and the eldritch tang of metaplasma.  Distantly you can the murmurs of the town below, accessible via a stairway leading downwards.

The docking bay, such as it is, is devoid of people save for a Ghoul and her Gug slave loading up a Proboscidean Class vessel in preparation for take-off.  The Ghoul, a female in a leather coat with an eye-patch and a brace of wicked-looking Susurrator pistols, shouts orders while her obedient four-armed thrall, shock-collared and muzzled, hauls a cart full of scrap into the cargo hold.

Sakhr grunts disapprovingly of the slave, but says nothing.

Sthena muses, "Lovely," to herself, taking a few general 'science-y' readings of the area with some sort of device that looks like a piece of pickled meat wrapped in a crystalline sheath, wires and such poking out in various directions. Probably best not to ask what it is and what she cobbled it together out of.

"Hmm.  I'll comb the docking bay to see if Tsathoggua's Daughter is here," Gideon says.  "You guys can ask around in town, see if N'Gai came through here.  We'll meet up later."

Gideon tips his hat and stalks off with long strides.

Sthena nods in acknowledgement, going off with her own group. From this 'vantage point', such as it is, she at least surveys the town without having to be in the midst of it, looking for the sort of place their target would likely have gone.

You spot a few likely places: a saloon and an occult shop of some sort on the first level, a slave-dealer on the third (sacrifices?).

"I have learned that bars are where people often speak of potentially important matters," Sakhr suggests.  "Perhaps we should start there."

"An occult shop would be closer to the tastes of N'Gai," Richard notes. "Then again, I doubt the local librams could offer much to interest one of his calibre."

"If he has tastes, would he not have sated them on food and drink?"

Sthena smirks a little to herself. "I vote shop as well." How much of that is just because she wants to have a look at the wares in the shop, well...  "We may check both locations. Let us see to the shop, then. We do not know when it may close."

"They're right next door anyway," Richard notes.  "So might as well."

Gorgetown consists of roughly three levels.  Apart from half a dozen rickety residences this level includes a shop advertising eldritch tomes for sale and a church - a small temple of Nodens with Nightgaunt gargoyles fashioned out of twisted metal and holy symbols of the Lord of the Great Abyss graffitied on its walls.  A bit further on is a saloon haphazardly constructed out of sheet siding, brick, and other bits and pieces.  Loud music emanates from within, and the neon sign on the roof proclaims the place "The Outsider."  Flickering LED letters over the batwing doors urge patrons to "Pass Beyond the Walls of Sobriety!"  As you descend the steps into the settlement a drunk staggers out of the saloon and vomits noisily into the abyss below.

A swaying bridge of metal cables and wooden slats leads from one side of the level to the other, and a spiralling ramp leads down to the level beneath.

Improvised shelves stuffed full of books and data discs line the walls of the occult shop, along with various charts displaying esoteric astronomical phenomena and the anatomies of strange creatures.  A bald man covered from head to foot in tiny, crabbed tattoos of obscure arcane formulae is the proprietor.  He regards you from behind a pair of spectacles with a built-in data display.

"What can I help you folks with?" he asks, letters and images streaming down his lenses, controlled by certain blinks and eye-movements.

"Greetings upon you in myriad ways," Sakhr says.  "We are seeking an individual who may have entered into your establishment."

"One of your recent customers, that is," Richard adds.

Sthena begins inspecting the various merchandise of the shop, looking for incomplete information or inaccuracies in the occult data. There's always something, and it usually gives a good deal of bargaining leverage. More than mere coin, anyhow.

There's a lot of incorrect stuff here, Sthena - mistranslated texts, faulty astronomical data, etc.

"That so?  Some of my customers prefer to remain 'nonymous.  What you want this fella for?"

Sthena glances over her your shoulder. "That's not your concern. What should be your concern is that your tables of gy'th particle densities are all wrong."  Sthena steps forward. "Perhaps we could arrange an... exchange of information?"

"Hmm?  What you babbling about you throdding sll'ha-nglui, my densities are wrong!?"

Sthena motions with her hand. "May I have a scrap of paper and a writing implement?"

He grudgingly obliges.

Sthena starts doodling on the paper, handing him something that looks like a cross between a medieval alchemy text and a well-used physics class blackboard.

The occultist raises a brow as he watches you.  "Huh.  Tart has a brain on 'er!"

"Yes, much to the surprise of many, she does," Sakhr says, completely serious.

Sthena simply smirks. "Provided these calculations are not beyond your capacity to comprehend, you'll see the mistake in the charts quite clearly." She points at the result of the proof she has scrawled.

"Selling faulty data here, are we?" Richard adds.  "I bet your customers have more to worry about than their 'nonymity if they've been relying on your products. I bet they'd like to hear you explain why that was so...

He grunts and crosses his arms.  "Alright, alright.  So, who's this grah'n you're lookin fer?"

Richard produces the picture of N'Gai – a gaunt man with sallow flesh covered in ritual scars – from a sealed container integrated on Mr. Rusty's shoulder.  "Ring any bells?"

"Why would he ring bells, Richard?" Sakhr asks.

"It's an archaic expression, you bat-brain.  Maybe for you, Richard. I am not from here."

"Oh, that guy.  Yeah, I seen him in here.  Bought a couple o' wards.  I can tell you where he went... but it'll take more than a few scribbles for me to part with that phlegeth."

Sakhr is too busy trying to form a conversation with Richard to pay attention to the information they were after in the first place.

"How about this: you tell us what you know about this motherfucker and we'll not tell anyone about the particle densities you've been selling as genuine," Richard threatens.

Sthena taps her fingers on the counter.

Sakhr 'hmphs' discontented, at Richard before looking back to the actual matter at hand.

"Who're you gonna tell?  Folks I sell this fm'latggh-‘bthnk to are in an' outta the Mooncalf, they don't stick around."

"We can get word on that all over the networks. Nothing a few well-crafted adbots couldn't handle."

"This one we are after may turn you inside out if he thinks your wares are suspect," Sthena adds.  "We would like to remove that potential danger to you, no charge beyond his whereabouts."

He grumbles and curses a bit. "Fine!  Fine... he came here after wettin' his throat in The Outsider across the way, and afterwards he went to the scrap-shop down a level below."

Sthena starts doodling on the back of the piece of paper.  She smiles sweetly. Only for an instant, though.

"With that, I think we're good to go," Richard says.

"You folks better not say a peep bout my data on the nets.  You got what you came fer."

"Oh don't worry about that," Richard assures the man.  "We don't really give a Gug's ass about your business.

Sthena hands him the paper. "A few words from the Great Race. Should make you a tidy profit to the right buyer."

He looks surprised.  "Thank you kindly, miss!"

Richard exits the shop without further ado.

Sakhr waits for the others to leave. Once they do, he turns back to the merchant and leaves a small bit of currency on the counter. "My apologies, this is not much, but please accept it as some recompense for Richard's behavior. Good day to you." Sakhr bows and departs.

Sthena smirks a bit. And here she thought she was being generous. Well, she was. The Great Race really does make delicious cookies. Shame they're usually stuck in bodies that can't fully appreciate the crunchy, chewy goodness.

Gideon scowls at the crew as he walks towards the crew. "Li'hee-syha'h-n'ghft, I hate these things. Found the throdding ship, but the door's warded."

"Well, we got a clue to our target," Richard responds.

"We know his next steps," Sakhr tells the Captain.  "It is too much to hope he is still there, but his steps from there may be visible as well."

"Glad something's not going wrong," Gideon says.

Sthena follows behind. "We are on our way to the scrap-shop below. Would you care to lead the way, captain?"

"Sure. Let me know what you've found out on the way.  Oh, and he drank before buying the wards."

"He bought wards," Sakhr continues.  "Then he went to a scrap-shop. That is all we are aware of at this impasse."

Gideon heads towards the scrap shop below. "So we're hopin' to find the next step of this grah'n at either the scrap shop or the bar?"

"Well, we hope, yes. It depends on when he went there.  Richard failed to extract a timeline from his victim."
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 01:28:59 PM by Steerpike » Logged

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #1 on: November 01, 2011, 03:58:58 PM »

"The Outsider" Saloon

The second level of Gorgetown is infested with phosphorescent lichen, giving the place an eerie, bilious glow.  A gunsmith and a laundry feature prominently here, as well as a Blasphemer Class transport ship, the Alhazred, that's been converted into a scrap-dealer's shop, the holes in hull - left by reality-fissures in the Gulf, no doubt - boarded up with planks of wood and corrugated metal siding, its smashed windows covered in boards and iron bars..  The buildings are covered in graffiti: R'lyehan glyphs, the Yellow Sign, obscenities in English and Arabic, blasphemous quotations from the Necronomicon.

Sthena examines the grafitti. "This phrase is mistranslated," she points out helpfully. "It is a common error, caused by the misuse of the preposition a'gh..." She notices everyone else has probably just kept walking.

Sakhr actually pays attention to the linguistic lesson...

Gideon glances over his shoulder at Sthena. "That translation at all useful?"

Sthena smirks. "It may be, considering this crew's love of new forms of obscenity. But for the mission, no."

"I'm sure Richard would be delighted to learn new ways to express his distaste for all others," Sakhr snarks.

"We can get to that after we nail this hlirgh," Richard declares. "Business before leisure."

"Normally I'd be all for it, but we're on a time crunch," Captain Gideon muses. "Since we don't know where the nyth-shogg got to, we gotta move. Richard and Sakhr, take the Scrap-Shop. Sthena, you're with me for the bar."

Sthena frowns a bit, rather hoping to scavenge the scrap-shop. But then again, that was probably the best reason to keep her out of there. They do have a mission.

"Yes, Captain," Sakhr assents.

The expansive interior of the scrap-dealer's shop is cluttered with mountains of detritus: engine parts, rusty weapons, M-drive components, spatiotemporal stabilizers, metasplamsa coils, shield generators, pieces of ship-hulls, computer arrays, lumps of asteroid ore, broken monitors, coiled masses of cabling, antique lamps, scuffed furniture, the stuffed heads of many-eyed beasts, discarded bionics, bones, data-cards, voxiferators, paintings, silverware, and a hundred other bits and pieces, including a fully operational security automaton something like a mechanical squid which rather alarmingly waggles its tentacles in welcome and makes ominous squawking sounds as you enter.  The sound alerts the owner, who appears from out of a side-door: a tall, wide-set woman with green hair gathered back into a series of long, serpentine braids.  She wears a pair of massive goggles and carries a welding torch in one hand.

"Iä!  What now?" she demands, one hand straying towards the bulky sixshooter at her waist.

"Good day to you, Miss merchant!" Sakhr greets the woman. "Please let me talk to her," he says aside to Richard. "I don't think you trying to blackmail this one is a good idea."

"Yeah yeah, you do the talking if you want. I'll just busy myself looking for any spare parts."

"What'd you want?"  She looks a bit suspicious, considering she's being addressed by a gargoyle, essentially!

"Hello, yes, we seek a problematic person of perilous proportions in the public's eye. We understand he proceeded down into your establishment recently, and we hoped you might spare us a moment of your valuable time in order to assist in procuring him."

"That's a lotta fancy words there fella. You gotta picture of this "person o' perilous proportions"?

Richard rummages through the scrap shop's wares, the six arms of Mr. Rusty picking and moving various items with mechanical haste. He audibly snorts at many of the specimen. "Useless junk!"

The scrap-dealer looks over to Mr. Rusty.  "Hey, careful with that!"

"I'm careful enough. Not that some of this stuff isn't already broken, you know."

"My apologies," Sakhr says. "He is a callous closeted curmudgeon of a companion."

At least I got more brains than you, mnahn'-gof'n!" Richard mutters.

She looks at the picture, frowning at Richard's comment.  "Yeah, I seen this throdder.  He was in here earlier lookin' fer a tok'l-detector.  Dunno where he went after that."

"Did he find one of those... things... uh... what does it do?"

"Yeah I got half a dozen o' the old things.  It sniffs out tok'l - there're some deposits and old Yith-tech made o' the stuff deeper into the 'calf, prospectors and scavengers sometimes go lookin fer them."

"Aha, thank you. Do you know if anyone may have made maps or surveys of such supposed deposits? Either in truth or for scam, in the hopes of ripping money from people?" Sakhr glances to Richard. He wants to say something, but bites back his tongue and maintains pleasant discourse with the junk-monger.

"Ye can't map the 'calf.  Dimensionality's too unstable, and the Dholes make new tunnels all the time.  But if yer after tok'l, i can sell you a detector of yer own."

"I bet he's got some occult use for tok'l in mind," Richard observes. "We should hurry and get on his trail before he finds some."

"I appreciate the sentiment," Sakhr sasy. "But my only quarry of concern is the person of interest. My thanks upon you for your assistance - if you do not mind, I will remove my companion from your shop before he provides either of us with undo grief."

"You try and 'remove' me and I'll remove your wings," Richard grumbles. "Now stop being so uppity. We got a job to do here."

"Happy trails."

Sakhr leaves, hopefully with Richard close by, and progresses in the direction of the bar to reconnect with the Captain and Sthena.

Richard leaves the shop with Sakhr.

"Have you considered being more polite?" Sakhr asks Richard. "You are certainly a well-learned and intelligent person, so why must you waste your talent on belligerence and uncouth, barbaric remarks, often about ones parentage?"

"I have. Once. For half a microsencond. Then I got over it."

Sakhr is intrigued. "What did you think was wrong with it?"

"It doesn't pay off. Wasted effort, like radiated heat into the ether. It may win you a fake smile or two, but nothing of substance."

"What does belligerence and crudity earn you?"

"Nothing much. But doesn't really take any effort either, when it comes natural to you."

"Hmm. I see. You make use of your available resources as efficiently as you can. Hmm. That is... respectable, and saddening."

"Don't waste any sadness on me," Richard says. "Anyway, enough of this talk. We got to get on with our hunt.

"Very well, if that is our desire, I will abandon this line of discussion," Sakhr says. "Let us inform the Captain of our new knowledge."

Meanwhile, Sthena and Gideon head to the saloon, "The Outsider"...

Sthena frowns a bit, rather hoping to scavenge the scrap-shop. But then again, that was probably the best reason to keep her out of there. They do have a mission.

Loud music emanates from a jukebox in one corner of the busy saloon, crowded with every variety of riffraff.  The bartender, an enormous man infected with some kind of creeping fungal parasite that makes his skin squirm and rustle with budding polyps, eyes you with beady, bloodshot eyes as you enter, while one of the waitresses, clad in a crimson corset and flouncy skirts, curtseys at you lasciviously, briefly exposing a R'lyehian glyph tattooed on her inner thigh.  The principal drinks for sale seem to include the house rotgut, peyote tea, absinthe, fungus wine (you pray not cultivated from the bartender!), tequila, and a brand of beer called Cadaverous Toad.

The clientele are a ragtag, unsavoury bunch.  A pair of Uranian Ulthari - hairless feline humanoids like anthropomorphic sphinx cats, their ears jangling with gold rings - sit near the door playing cards and muttering to one another in their meowing language; judging from their leather jumpsuits, cutlasses, and heavy pistols, they're probably brigands or space-reavers of some variety.  A Deep One in a shabby top-hat and tails plays pool with a pair of scrawny painted trollops, pausing to puff on his cigar or grope one of the girls with a webbed, scaly hand.  In a corner a greasy-haired man in a frayed poncho tries to perfect a knife trick and succeeds only in bloodying the table while an obese human woman with a Mohawk haircut and a suit of chitin armour tries to drink a Ghoul prostitute in a fishnet bodysuit under the table.  A drunk in scabrous leathers loudly brags about recent his exploits in the Thyoph Chain to a bored-looking mutant with cloven feet; two toughs with sawn-offs and unpleasant masks harass the waitress; a scarred Mi-go, missing its wings, sips nectar from a cracked champagne flute and watches the saloon's television, which seems to be playing The Magnificent Seven without the sound.  A dozen other scoundrels of similar ilk fill the place, and a Ghast is chained up near the bar, chewing on bones and whining periodically.

Sthena steps into the bar, glancing about. Of course, there's nothing familiar about this place, but, yet, it's all too familiar, being the kind of place in which she initially found herself.

Gideon glances at the bartender, then says to Sthena "Look, bartender's prob'ly gonna respond to you better 'n me. Why not chat 'im up, see if you can get a lead."

Sthena saunters up to the bar, leaning forward, attempting to make use some of her host's considerable sex appeal. "Hello," she says in a soft, sultry tone.

The bartender squints at you and smiles horribly, revealing teeth thoroughly colonized by fungus.  "What'll it be there, sweetheart?"

Gideon grabs a seat where he'll be in earshot of Sthena and the bartender.

Sthena has fortunately confronted far worse in her travels, and probably even manages not to wince. "A bit of your house speciality, if you please. And perhaps a moment of pleasant conversation, if you can be spared. A man like yourself is no doubt quite popular."

Gideon settles into a seat, trying not to show his frustration at having not ordered a throdding drink before sending Sthena up to the bar.

The bartender pours you a glass of the house rotgut.  Its smell is palpable.  "Whadya wanna know?"

Sthena licks her lips, unbuttoning the front of her 'uniform' slowly, procuring a picture of N'Gai tucked away in an inside pocket, or perhaps inside her corset itself. "I'm looking for my worthless grah'n of a boyfriend." She quickly adds, "I'm going to finally break it off with him." She adds, a fetching little smirk, "I'll be a free woman." She flips around the picture. "You wouldn't happen to have seen him, would you?"

"This fella?  Yeah I seen him in here.  Why would a sweet thing like you be hanging around with a lamprey like that?"

Sthena raises an eyebrow. "The question I asked myself, precisely." She realizes she's slipping back into her usual manner of diction, and tries to slut it up some more. "I decided I wasn't going to, anymore. That's why I want to break it off..." She takes a sip of the drink, attempting to hide her distaste.

The bartender flashes his greenish grin again.  "I saw yer boyfriend speakin with Scurby Pete over there.  Dunno what they were talking 'bout, though."  The bartender points out the Deep One, Sthena.

Sakhr and Richard enter the bar.

Sthena nods and smiles, pretending to take another drink of the drink, but pouring the rest of it into her weapon's fuel repository when the bartender isn't looking. "Thank you," she says, handing him a bit of money for the drink, procured from the same location as the picture.

"On the house, love," the bartender says, refusing the money - qhile, of course, eyeing you lewdly.

Sthena smiles sweetly, again for an instant. "Thank you so much." She then goes to meet her associates, telling them the same information that he told her. "We're apparently to speak to 'Scurby Pete.'" The way she says it makes it clear she put it in quotes when she talks, too.

Gideon just to be on the safe side, scans the bar one more time in case N'Gal happens to still be here. "Since ya ain't seem to got terra whisky, I'll take a tequila straight, less I'm wrong on the first count."

The waitress comes back with a shot of tequila for Gideon.

Gideon nods to the waitress, putting extra money on the table. "You got a name?"

"Ye can call me whatever you want, hun.  But I usually go by Lilith."

Gideon gives Lilith a smile. "Well then, darlin', wondering if ya could help me. I've got this problem - this lampry" - pulling the picture of N'Gai out - "Owes me a whole lot, on account of him betting it all when I had four Yog's. You seen him? There's a cut for you if you can help."

"Yeah I seen him.  Mordiggia spoke to him awhile, tryin to get a date, I think."  She nods to the Ghoul in fishnets.

Gideon will catch up with the rest when he finishes up with the waitress. He gives Sakhr a look, hoping to convey "Wait a second" with a glance.

Richard Xu approaches Gideon, but doesn't interrupt his conversation.

Sakhr freezes in place, quite literally, when he catches Gideon's look. He waits exactly like one would expect a rock-creature to wait.

Gideon gives Lilith a smile, and plunks a bit more money down. "Assuming I catch this son of a sll'ha-nglui, I'll be by with a little more for ya. Unfortunately, gotta go talk to my associates. Nice meetin' ya, darlin'." He heads over to the rest, motioning them to a seat out of the bartender's earshot.

Richard takes a seat next to Gideon.

"Learned anything interesting?" he asks.

"I've learned of a new type of fungal skin disorder that I have not yet catalogued," Sthena reports.

"How about useful things?" Gideon asks sardonically. Sthena repeats the information the bartender gave her about 'Scurby Pete.'

Sakhr joins the group. He opts out of a chair, given his bulk.  

"Our quarry purchased a tok'l detector from the scrap-shop," he tells Gideon and Sthena.  "Apparently, there are deposits of tok'l and Yith-tech further in."

Sthena perks at the mention of Yith-tech.

"I got us a lead, apparently that ...woman"  - he nods towards Mordiggia - "talked to him too. Sthena, you get to use your charms again on Pete. Richard, you think you can hold your temper long enough to keep her talkin', or should I do the honors."  He looks at Sakhr.  "Other than making Sthena happy, that give us an idea of where he might be?"

"I do not know where he went after the shop," Sakhr responds.  "But his collection of items in town suggests he progressed further into the structure. Possibly for tok'l or Yith-tech, but that may not be all."

"He may be be looking for the stuff as we speak," Richard speculates.  "As luck would have it, the depths cannot be mapped."

"From what I can tell, this place is even more dangerous beyond the town," Sakhr continues.  "If he left it, then we would face a much higher chance of finding him given the difference in population we would encounter out there."

"Well throd," Gideon curses.  "Sthena is prob'ly best for the tech, but I doubt Pete will open to us - and Richard, I don't want ya startin' a fight. Alright."  The Captain thinks for a moment.

"I'm not starting anything. Damn, you should know me better than that, cap."

Sthena doesn't particularly relish the idea of going to chat up Pete, so she waits a moment to see what the captain decides, on the off-chance she gets to go look at the Yith-tech instead.

"Sthena, get the info out of Pete as quick as ya can," Gideon insists.  "He's slow, make him think you want to sgn'wahl and we'll try the old fashioned way, and I do Richard - was remindin' myself. Richard, try the stripper. Sakhr and I'll wait - as soon as you two are done, as fast as ya can, we're all goin for the Yith-tech.  Can't risk losin' these leads, but can't risk not bein' able to find each other again in the unmapped depths.  Fm'latggh--‘bthnk, it can't ever be simple..."

Sthena saunters over to Pete, same little sway in her hips, leaning over to him. "Hello," she says fetchingly. Assuming she is able to get his attention, she tells him the same story about a boyfriend that she told the bartender, again making sure to emphasize her single status once the matter is concluded.

The Deep One ogles you with bulbous fish-eyes, releasing his hold on the skinny girl he was previously fondling at the chance of fresh meat.  He places a scaly, webbed hand on your thigh.

"Maybe I seen yer boyfriend.  Maybe I haven't.  What's it worth to ya, darlin'?"

Sthena smiles, sliding a little closer. "As I mentioned, when this is over, I'll be single. On the rebound. Lonely, as it were." She does her best approximation of a cute pout.

Sakhr begins scanning the local establishment's selection of alcoholic drinks, trying to decide if any of them are worth stocking up on.

"Excuse me, tender, may I witness the bottle of absinthe you possess?" he asks.  "I would like to examine it, please."

The bartender gets out a bottle for you Sakhr.

Sakhr assesses the bottle with a careful, practiced eye, observing it in every way possible to me. Finally, he decides that it is more than suitable for the ship, despite its apparent presence in this sinkhole-to-be.

"I will take this bottle - how much?"

"Fifty credits," the bartender grumbles.

Sakhr obliges with the payment, too busy with his transaction and acquisition to follow the intrigues of espionage happening around him.

Meanwhile the Deep One's revolting hand slides higher up Sthena's leg.

"My kind may live for centuries but we're not renowned for our patience.  I gotta room downstairs.  Whadya say we go down there and have ourselves a private chat?  I'll tell ye everything I know bout yer boyfriend.  Even got myself a hot-tub... maybe we could take a little dip."  One of the harlots he was caressing earlier looks like she's getting a bit jealous, shooting Sthena a dirty look.

Sthena is glad she's wearing the tight but quite well-covering uniform, rather than something that would involve him touching her bare skin. She hides such discontent, though, simply smiling as best she can and getting a little closer. "A swim... how utterly fitting." She does her best approximation of a giggle.

Pete takes your hand firmly and leads you towards the door at the back.

Gideon stands up and heads after the two of them.

Sthena saunters along with him, flashing Gideon a very cold stare when she glances his way.

The Deep One leads you down a flight of carved steps and into a set of tunnels carved into the Mooncalf's fossilized flesh.  He opens a door with an electronic lock and ushers you inside.

Sthena glances around at the quarters, taking note of escape routes, possible improvised weapons, and so forth, in case things get ugly.

There's a repeating rifle on top of a battered chest of drawers.  The room is filled with dirty clothes and empty glasses and bottles.  There's an adjoining bathroom with a hot-tub and another adjoining chamber as well.

Gideon, you hear someone coming from behind you - sounds like high-heels.

Gideon turns around, silently cursing his chance to interrupt the door locking.

Sthena puts her hand on his, stopping Pete from locking the door. "Oh, don't. The thrill that anyone could walk in at any time... mmm. Besides, what if one of your other friends wants to join us?"

"Those hussies?  I've had my fill of em.  We wouldn't want to be disturbed - all sorts o' unsav'ry folk here in Gorgetown."

Sakhr looks around, grinning with his new bottle in hand. It is right about now that he realizes that Sthena and the captain seem to be missing. "Uh oh."

Sthena runs her hand down Pete's front. "But nothing a big, strong man like you couldn't handle, right?"

Gideon, you see one of the harlots Pete was with before.  She's heading towards you with a very big if crude pistol in her hand.

Pete gurgles horribly with lust and grabs you, Sthena.  The door is still unlocked...

Sthena at least managed to keep him from locking the door! She falls backwards, squirming away. "Oh, but I'm still taken... I have to find him and break it off, first, and then I'm all yours..."

Gideon attempts to draw his Headsman pistol and aims it directly at her head. "Stop right there, darlin'"

The harlot raises her pistol, aiming at Gideon.  "I am not in the mood you throdding mnahn'-gof'n."  She says, a look of cold fury on her face.

"Ya got a problem with Pete or his friend?" Gideon asks in a low voice, so that Pete won't hear.

"None o' yer business," the girl says.

"Sure is. You gotta probl'm with Pete, I'll happily help you deal with that mnahn'-gof'n."

The harlot with the pistol nods.  "Fine.  Just don't get in the way."

"Just let me ask 'im some questions first, then he's all yours."

"Ye can ask questions later, mister," the girl says.  "I'll put a bullet in his belly, not his brainpan."  She steps towards the door.

Gideon follows the girl towards the door. "Kinda' in a hurry here, so mind if I ask while you're hurtin' him?"  He makes sure to stay behind her so he can deal with her if it looks like she's a threat to Sthena.

Back in the room, the Deep One, Pete, grunts and releases Sthena.  "Well, ye won't object to takin' a little dip, at least."

Sthena smiles. "Oh, my sweet Pete, I would not. But... should he not know it's over... you know he can be dangerous." She runs a finger down his side, attempting to seem affectionate. "And I wouldn't want him to hurt you!"

"Like you said, I can handle myself," Pete croaks, beginning to disrobe, revealing his pallid, hairless, clammy flesh.

Sthena gives a passing approximation of a smile. "I just don't want anything bad to happen..."

Pete ignores Sthena and attempts to remove her clothing, groping with webbed hands.

Sthena pushes him away again, motioning at the hot tub. "Please, get comfortable." She winks. "Why just tear them off? I'll give you a little show."

He burbles with barely restrained enthusiasm and heads over to the hot-tub.

Richard Xu, meanwhile, has approached the table where the ghoul prostitute is drinking with the chitin-armoured woman

The Ghoul seems to be winning the contest, despite her slimmer frame.

"Hello there ladies. Mind if I sits down with you? I could pay for some of those drinks...

Mordiggia pulls out a chair.

Richard sits on the chair.  "I'm looking for this man."  He places the picture on the table.  "Would you happen to know anything about him?"

The Ghoul looks at the picture closely.

"Yeah, he was in here.  I went an' talked to him see if I could get a date.  He seemed interested... but only if I'd come outta town with him, into the warrens.  No way I was going in there."

"Did he name a particular place?"

"Yeah.  Said he wanted to take me to the 'calf's heart.  Romantic-like, he said..."

"'Calf's heart?"

Sakhr begins wandering around the bar, trying to figure out where half of the crew went off to.

"The center o' the Mooncalf.  Middle o' the warrens."

"What's so romantic about that?"

"My thoughts exactly.  Fella was a bit creepy, truth be told.  He said something 'bout finding a slave-girl instead, then went to talk to Pete."

"Figures that he'd be some kind of perv. Well, thanks for the information. Maybe it'll help me find him."

Richard orders a round of tequilas to the table, on his pay.  He then departs, looking for the crew.  

Downstairs, the jealous harlot kicks open the unlocked door to Scurby Pete's room, pistol in hand.

Sthena is, fortunately, still on the floor, so she just rolls out of the way.

Gideon steps into view, still behind the girl.

"You low-life nyth-shogg!"  The trollop shouts, aiming at Pete, who is now nude and visibly aroused.  The Deep One lunges for the repeater on the chest of drawers.

Sthena comes up to one knee, giving her lightning gun a slap and bracing it with her other hand, aiming it into the room.

"Iä!" Gideon shouts.  He takes a shot at Pete's kneecaps, then attempts to put the pistol to the back of the girl's head.

You hit Pete in the kneecap and he stumbles.  The harlot's shot thus goes over his head.

"Alright, everyone stand still!" Gideon instructs.

Upstairs, Richard finds Sakhr within the bar. "Hey. Where're the cap' and Sthena gone to?"

"I don't know. They disappeared."

Richard, Sakhr, you hear shots!

"Oh, that must be them now."

"Oh crap!  We better go find them right quick!"

Sakhr sighs heavily, then begins to head in the direction of the shots - he won't be too worried until he hears more.  Richard immediately sends Mr. Rusty toward the source of the gunshots.

Back downstairs the harlot, seeing Sthena, aims her weapon at her, ignoring Gideon's warning!

"Mnahn'-gof'n..." Gideon curses, pulling the trigger of his Headsman.

Sthena isn't going to discharge the lightning gun with Gideon so close. Hopefully he's got this one.

Sthena, you duck aside and the harlot's shot hits the bed.  Gideon fires, and the top half of the her head is vaporized in a burst of metaplamsa.  Pete, yowling and limping, lunges for the repeater again.

Sakhr and Richard burst into the room.

Gideon shouts "Stand still you nyth-shogg or I'll put the next one through your head!"

Pete gulps and freezes.

Sakhr observes - despite his worry to the contrary, everything seems to be OK, for now.

"Finally, a grah'n with some sense," the Captain says.  "You want to keep that skull, why don't you real fast-like answer the question this nice lady was askin' ya earlier."

Sakhr, Richard, you see a couple of the bar's bouncers heading your way down the corridor, weapons in hand.

"We have company coming," Sakhr warns.  "They do not look polite and mild-mannered."

Sthena stands, turning the lightning gun on Pete as well.  She turns to them. "That door locks. I suggest you do so, quickly."

"Lock the throdding door," Gideon orders.  "We'll deal with that in a moment."  Gideon doesn't take eyes off of Pete.

Sakhr locks the door.

"Alright, alright," Pete relents.   "He wanted to know about the heart of the 'calf.  I told him what I knew about it - go through the Dhole-warrens into the 'calf's guts, then just follow the Yith-glyphs.  They'll lead ye straight to the heart, but if ye get lost, use a tok'l detector to find yer way - there's some old tech hooked up to the 'calf's ticker.  That's all I know, Cthulhu take my hide for lying!"

Sthena does take her eyes off Pete, but only to watch the door occasionally as well.  Gideon Gideon gives Pete a winning smile. "See? That ain't so hard. There another way out of this throdding ebumna-n'ghft you call a home?"

There is a click as the bouncers unlock the door.  Unless you barricade it or hold it closed, they're going to open it!

Sakhr uses himself to barricade the door.

"Vulgtlagln-syha'h," Gideon curses.

Richard grabs the door with six robotic arms, holding it closed.

"There's a door in the other room," Pete indicates.  "It leads to the next apartment over.  It's locked though!"

"Thanks. Now get down before I decide to take your head. C'mon, let's get out of here!"

Pete obliges.

Sthena smirks. "So much for private quarters. Ah well, I did say it was a thrill to not know who could walk in."

The door buckles and an arm forces it way through!

"I fear the integrity of the door is insufficient," Sakhr observes.

Sthena goes where Pete indicated. "Let's hope the other door's integrity is equally insufficient."

"A damn sll'ha-nglui kicked it open," Gideon says.  "I'm sure you can manage."

Richard uses Mr. Rusty's taser on the hand.

The hand withdraws!  The bouncer on the other side curses.

"Let's scram!" Richard says.

Sakhr starts running, taking up the rear of the group.

There's a door in the chamber, locked.

Richard hurries after Gideon with all haste.  Gideon wraps his arm around the bed, hoping to pull it as a barrier between this room and the next.

You haul the bed into place.

Sthena quickly appraises the lock.  Meanwhile Richard plugs into he doors, attempting to hack it

Sthena begins whispering the proper modulation into her weapon, in case Richard's attempt fails.

The door clicks open.  The code was extremely simplistic.  Beyond is another small room, fortunately devoid of occupants.

Sthena knew that. Of course, everything is extremely simplistic to her.

"Ha! so much for that crappy security," Richard cackles.

As you enter, the bouncers force their way past the bed-barricade!

Richard waits for everyone to pass through the doorway, then closes and locks it, changing the code.

"Sthena, can you fry that lock shut right quick?"

Sthena nods, changing the modulation back. "Stand clear."

Your blast from the lightning gun overload the lock and it sputters and sparks.

Sthena turns to Richard. "The security of this facility have some sort of universal access code. Your measures would not have been sufficient."

"Only if they can hack my code quick enough."

You hear muffled curses as the thugs try the door.

"Less patting ourselves on the backs, more moving," the Captain orders.  "The mnahn'-gof'n will just come into the front of this apartment."  Gideon heads towards the front of this apartment.

Sthena follows along, smirking to herself at the humans' confidence in their silly locking algorithms.

You make your escape.

"Y'hah," Gideon mutters.

Sthena listens for the hum of the void-capacitors, feeling much better about herself when the weapon is once again in firing condition.

Back up in the bar, most people have fled or overturned tables.  The bartender has a nasty-looking sawn-off shotgun.  Gideon, you only get sprayed by a small scattering shot as the man fires; most of it is absorbed by your duster and the layer of light armour you wear beneath it.

"Cthulhu take you, let us leave and no one else gets hurt!"  Gideon shouts.

Sthena comes bursting upstairs second, discharging the lightning gun once again at the source of the shot.

Richard rushes forth from behind Gideon and opens fire with metaplasma-coil pistol.

"Iä!" Gideon swears as his companions shoot.

The shot from Sthena's lightning gun reduces the bartender to a charred husk almost instantly.  Richard's shot takes down the sole remaining bouncer, who was about to fire his own weapon, catching the thug in the gut.

"Alright," Gideon grumbles.  "Let's get out of this ebumna-n'ghft."

"I would be glad to leave this place now," Sakhr agrees.  "Please."

You leave the saloon hurriedly.

"Looks like we're headin' towards the...what did that nyth-shogg call it?  The heart," Gideon says.

"The 'calf's heart," Richard affirms.  "It's definitely the right place, he had tried to talk this hooker to go there with him."

"I ate something of a similar name once," Sakhr interjects.  "I thought it was quite good."

"We can get us a detector in the scrap shop," Richard adds.

Sthena shakes her head a bit at the display, and then heads out with her companions.

"Glad to hear he wasn't lyin'," Gideon says.  "Alright, let's get us a tok'l detector and get to the 'calf's heart."

You head back to the scrap-dealer.  She will sell you a tok'l detector for two hundred creds.

Sthena browses the scrap shop.

There is a lot of valuable tech here, Sthena.  A lot of it is in poor condition, but there are some quality parts here.  The green-dreaded owner reappears from a back-room with the detector.

Sthena momentarily forgets all about the mission and begins loading a cart. No way she'd be able to carry all that around.

Sakhr watches Sthena with a worried expression. "Sthena, perhaps you should shop on our way back. It ill be difficult to take all of this with you, now."

"You're going to spend a lot of time fixing up that fm'latggh-‘bthnk," Richard comments.  "But it's your money, so whatever."

"You don't understand, they have a poly-oscillating necromatrix coil with a functional t'lsho emitter," Sthena replies.  "Do you know how long I've looked for one of those?"

"Um. It's been here awhile," Sakhr notes.  "I am sure it will be here waiting for you upon our return. We do not have time to return to the ship presently."

"Hey if you want it that bad, go right ahead, Richard says.  "Just don't cry a river if one these parts blows up in your face."

"I can hold this stuff for ye," the scrap-dealer says.

Sthena smiles in that faux-sweet manner. "Thank you so much. I will return for it once our business has concluded."

"Anyway, let's head over to the Dhole-warrens," Richard suggests.

Sthena seems reluctant to leave the scrap shop, but she follows along eventually, too.

The third and lowest level of Gorgetown includes the settlement's apothecary shop - built from the ruinous hulk of a Gambrel Class frigate - and a small slave-market where a shrill Ulthari woman auctions Ghouls, humans, and others taken in raids.  There's also an exit to the innards of the Mooncalf.  A gaping hole in the wall of the cavern winds away, leading to a heavy reinforced door fixed with jury-rigged shields.  A pair of guards toting shotguns guards the gate controls.

"Li'hee-syha'h-n'ghft, but I'm betting that detector is tellin' us to go through that," Gideon says.

"Hmmm... the quarry purchased a slave, did he not?" Sakhr says.

"He was plannin' on it, sounds like," Gideon says.

"I guess he needs one for a sacrifice," Richard adds.

"A sll'ha-wahl," Gideon says.

"Maybe we should inquire with the Slave-master," Sakhr suggests.  "Any key features of a slave he obtained could identify some of his plans."

"Sounds like a plan. Better that than causin' a bunch of lw'nafh-shogg.  Again.  Sakhr, your plan, you want to do the honours?"  Gideon is not looking directly at the Ulthari.

Sthena adds, "Hopefully, this time without me having to fend off the amorous advances of yet another creature."

"Sorry about that, Sthena. But it worked alright in the end."

Gideon mutters to himself. "Cats. Why did it have to be cats."  Gideon is not following Sakhr any closer than he has to.

Sthena follows behind, staying about halfway between Sakhr and Gideon.

The overseer looks Sakhr up and down.  "Can I help you...?"

"Yes. I had a query regarding one of your clients. Recently."

"Indeed?" the creature purrs.  "And what would this information be worth to you?"

"This man."  Sakhr proffers the picture.  "If you know of him, then we may be able to deal."

Gideon takes a draw from his flask, looking at the gate for an alternate way past.

The gate looks pretty tight, Gideon.  The only other way out of Gorgetown is to fly further down the Gullet.

"They wouldn't bother guarding this one so well if there was any easily found alternative way, cap'," Richard notes.

"Can't blame a man for hopin'. Think they'll let us walk by if we ask real polite-like?"

"No. They'd just laugh at our faces. I you want something from people, you gotta play on their greed - or their fears."

Sthena motions for the flask, as though she wants a drink.

Gideon hands Sthena the flask. "Their greed. Like I said. Polite-like."

Sthena pours a bit into the ethanol repository of her weapon. She was running a bit low after discharging it twice. She then gives him back the flask. "Thank you."

Gideon takes the flask back, gives Sthena a look, opens his mouth for a second, and then shuts it.

The Ulthari squints at the picture Sakhr handed her.  "Humans all look the same to me, but I think I remember this one, yes."

"Indeed? And what do you believe to be fair recompense for taxing your mind - and your time - with questions of him?"

"Hmm... your little group seems capable enough.  Perhaps you could help me reclaim some of my property.  A slave escaped recently and has taken sanctuary somewhere in the town.  I have not had the time to track them down yet.  They are penniless, so unless they stowed away aboard a departing ship, they should still be in Gorgetown somewhere."

Sakhr considers he cannot speak for the crew - though he is hardly amenable to slavery in any form, it is still a difficult way to handle the matter.  "What can you inform me of your property to help me divine its location, then?"

"The slave is distinctive.  Human, but a brand on his face marks him as chattel."

Sakhr nods politely.

The Ulthari points out the glyph on another slave.

"In that matter, then, should we discover your property, we will return here for a discussion regarding our own missing associate."

The cat-creature nods.

Sakhr bows politely and excuses himself.

"Iä," Gideon mutters.

Sakhr approaches the group, then speaks up once he is certain that he will not be easily over-heard.  "The Ulthari will share information of out quarry in exchange for returning a fled slave. I am not inclined to accept the deal, but I did not turn it down, in case any of you wished to support it."

"We can't afford to waste much time getting sidetracked here," Richard points out.  "I doubt N'gai will be staying long in the 'calf's Heart."

Sthena doesn't care about the morality, but agrees it's probably a waste of time. "It seems by accepting this deal we've just merely doubled the number of people we need to hunt down."
"Perhaps," Sakhr says.  "We do not know his plans. Though I do not wish to fulfill the Ulrathi's deal, I am still confident that seeking it out and querying it was a wise decision.

* Gideon thinks.

"At least we know that we probably track two figures - and probably he wishes vile things upon the other to travel with him," Sakhr observes.  "I imagine he is attempting to exercise a matter of arcane ritual. For what purpose is only speculation by me."

"The purpose won't even matter if we get him before he can finish it," Richard notes.

"He wishes a sacrifice, I think, for his designs here. His ends are beyond reckoning at this juncture of time."

"How sure are you of that?" Gideon asks.  "The sacrifice bit?"

Sakhr stops and thinks.  "I see no logical reason as to why else he would need a slave," Sakhr points out.  "As Richard said, he also tried to lure a woman there on a 'date'. I believe he needs another live being present with him.  As he seems to be making use of the lowest order of individual, I imagine he intends to expend them at that location."

"It seems to me that he needs a sll'ha-nglui, specifically," Richard says.

"Then there's no reason to get more from that slave dealer. We already know at least what kinda' person he was tryin' to use - the convenient kind - and why he got the slave. Doubt she can tell us more than that.  The ritual might involve throddin' instead of killin'. Either way, looks like we gotta get past that gate."

Exactly, captain," Sakhr replies.  "We do not need to fulfill the terms of her deal, which is why I did not agree to it.  Shall I ask them?"

"Good thinkin'. As for askin..."

Sthena interjects, "Perhaps both. Not necessarily in that order."

"I think the cap's the better talk for their likes," Richard says.

Gideon looks at Sthena for a moment, clearly considering something, then mutters. "Yeah, Richard's prob'ly right."

"I thought they might prefer to retain their brain matter within their skulls, is all," Sakhr says.

"Hey, I tried to not blast the bartender.  But still, time's wastin'."  Gideon heads over to the guards, doing his best to look nonchalant. "Evenin', gents."

"Our cap here was so courteous, he let the man shoot first," Richard says.  "Doesn't get more restrained than that!"

"Evenin'.  You want through the gate?  There's a toll – seventy-five creds apiece."

Sthena follows along with Gideon, doing her best to look like a piece of arm candy he's dragging along.

Richard looks for any ATMs conveniently placed nearby but out of direct line of sight from guards

Nothing stands out, Richard.

"Damn," Richard mutters.  "There's never an exploitable cash-machine at hand when you need one...

"Why is a toll required?"  Sakhr asks.

"We gotta keep the shields running and the blast-door maintained.  Those things aren't cheap!"

"Oh. That makes sense."

"True, they ain't. I can understand the problem here, but we're a bit short - fifty creds each work for you?"

"Hmph.  Sixty each and you gotta deal, I guess."

"Deal." Gideon pays up

Sakhr pays, though he is exceptionally protective of his bottle of absinthe.

"If we nail our quarry we won't have to worry about the bills," Richard says.

"Alright."  The guards hit a few controls and the door grinds open; the shield flickers, allowing you to pass through.

Beyond the door, a tunnel bored out of the rock winds away into the gloom.  The tunnels here have been air-filled, but the gravity-generator isn't active: as you enter the tunnels you feel suddenly weightless, and are no longer pulled downwards towards the ground.  The tunnel is massive: at least fifty feet in radius and near-circular.

Sthena tries to catch the guard's eyes and fiddles with her uniform buttons a bit and tries to see if she can't slip by without paying at all. But she pays if they're not quite that easily distracted.

Richard Xu activates his gravspurs.

Gideon steps through. "And if we don't, we're on short rations this month. Best play it safe."  He activates his gravspurs.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2012, 01:42:54 PM by Steerpike » Logged

My name has nothing to do with internet gaming.

View Profile
« Reply #2 on: November 01, 2011, 04:52:46 PM »

This is like the Cadaverous Earth, in spaaaaaaaaace...

Which, I must say, is amazing.

Let's go teach these monkeys about evolution.
-Mark Wahlberg

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #3 on: November 01, 2011, 05:22:59 PM »

Thanks!  I'm going for a real mash-up feel.  Ideally I want every area and character to have the three generic elements somehow integrated, so that if you jump into any one scene it feels simultaneously like something out a western, something out of a Mythos story, and something very science-fictiony.

There are some parallels with CE... I think there are just certain motifs that appeal to me.  Weird tattoos and graffiti; bizarre creatures and grafts/biotechnology; old-school witchcraft with grimoires and sigils and all that jazz; archaic firearms; a certain run-down, derelict feel to everything.  I think my NPCs also tend to gravitate towards certain archetypes, maybe.

EDIT: BTW Sthena's Yith lightning gun might look a little like the weapon in this video from 1:45 onwards (a bit earlier there's also a bit of Yith architecture visible).
« Last Edit: November 01, 2011, 05:35:47 PM by Steerpike » Logged

Gelatinous Cube

View Profile
« Reply #4 on: November 01, 2011, 05:53:59 PM »


Father Blake and Ramsay Olmstead are finishing a chess-game in the bow parlour as the ship unfolds back into real space.  The pieces are modeled after the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones, a carved, wooden, microcosmic replication of the titanic battle that once raged here.  The priest of Hastur, his face inscrutable behind its pale mask, has just moved his Queen - shaped into the semblance of the Elder Goddess Bast - to take Ramsay's rook, carved in the elephantine semblance of Chaugnar Faugn, and checkmate his King, the Daemon Sultan Azathoth.  The lama of the King in Yellow shivers almost imperceptibly as they phase into the Grey Gulf, sensing the eldritch emanations that suffuse the place.  Ramsay, frowning at the board, feels only annoyance at being bested once again by the enigmatic priest.  He absently scratches at his gill slits.
Oi Steerpike, you put so much work into these things laugh.

I am also checking out the music listening list.
« Last Edit: November 01, 2011, 05:56:36 PM by Light Dragon » Logged

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #5 on: November 01, 2011, 06:27:45 PM »

Yeah I tend to get a little carried away.  This is probably why I couldn't run two sessions yesterday!  On the plus side we got sparkletwist`s excellent session instead!

Gelatinous Cube

View Profile
« Reply #6 on: November 01, 2011, 07:41:35 PM »

re: "nacreous" hm. The words you use steerpike... the words you use... (Such an ugly word for such a beautiful image).

[insert witty statement here]
Gelatinous Cube

View Profile
« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2011, 08:38:29 PM »


Gideon scowls at the crew as he walks towards the crew. "Li'hee-syha'h-n'ghft, I hate these things. Found the throdding ship, but the door's warded."

For the record, that's when I joined in. It was fun reading the logs and seeing what I missed - I loved that game Steerpike, and hope we can do it again soon - I want to see what happens next! laugh

AnIndex of My Work


It's llitul and the brain, llitul and the brain, one is a genius and the other's insane
Proud Receiver of a Golden Dorito

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #8 on: November 08, 2011, 02:33:53 PM »


Sakhr looks for signs of further hostilities from any source. Close proximity to a gateway is more than likely the best place for the disreputable types to stage ambushes.

"Alright everyone, best stick together," Gideon says.  "This throdding place is supposed to be unmapped. Hopefully the grah'n is in the main drag."

Sthena amuses herself for a moment by placing her scanning device in midair and letting it hover there momentarily, giving it a bit of a spin before grabbing it and continuing along with the group.

Richard latches Mr. Rusty on the side of the tunnel and scans the passage ahead.

"Richard, Rusty's got point," Gideon orders.  "Let's get this throdding show on the road. Follow the bouncing tok'l."

Your tok'l detectors tick furiously inside the tunnel, indicating a deposit somewhere up ahead.  Mr. Rusty's scans also indicate a residue of exhaust, such as a vehicle might exude.

"We must press forward," Richard agrees.  "Watch out for the Dholes!"

"Yes," Sakhr adds.  "Short rations are terrible to cook with."

The tunnel brachiates and divides, some passages running "vertically," others at a "horizontal" - such terms meaning little in the depths of the Mooncalf.  Some of these tunnels seem to be Dhole-made, based on the rough, gnawed, pocked texture of the walls.  Others - smoother and covered in fossil cilia or ribbed with organic extrusions - are clearly the bowels of the Mooncalf itself.

You can use your gravspurs to reorient yourselves as needed - they will zero-in on the nearest surface as "down," so if you reactivate them and shove off, then reactivate them, you can walk on the "ceiling" if you wish.

Gideon, when needed, turns off his gravspurs and grabs onto surfaces with his Mi-go prosthetic to pull himself to the right surface.

Following the tok'l detector's signs you continue deeper into the Great Old One's petrified bowels.  The passage twists, wrapping round sharply.  You continue along the curve, expecting it to slope up or down or cease curving - at this rate, you should soon have described a perfect circle.  Instead the passage continues to loop, without tightening into a spiral.  You must have walked 360 degrees several times over before the passage levels out again.

You all carefully ignore the irrational implications of the route you just traversed.

Up ahead, round another twist in the tunnel, your detectors indicate the presence of a large amount of tok'l.

"Looks like we're getting close," Gideon notes.  He draws his Headsman Model 7.  "Rich, which way does the detector point?"

Richard pauses but shortly, temporarily deactivating Mr. Rusty's gravspurs to operate the tok'l detector.  "Just up ahead," he responds.

Sthena moves in quickly and quietly behind Gideon, ensuring that her lightning gun is also charged at ready to fire.

Sakhr finds himself desiring to sample his new absinthe more and more as the mindless trekking continues. No one appears inclined to talk, either, further dampening Sakhr's mood.

A ball of glimmering metal seems to be lodged in the Mooncalf's fossilized tissues here, like a behemothic gallstone or a bezoar.  Two Dhole-made tunnels intersect with this organic passage from "above," "below," and diagonally.  As you near the deposit you hear a sound of beating wings accompanied by the drone of an engine.

The next nearest deposit can be found somewhere "below" you and to one side.  The sound is coming from "above."

From the "vertical" Dhole-made tunnel above a pair of Byakhee with riders appears, flanking a rickety-looking hovercycle.  The riders are armed with crude metaplasma carbines, while the hovercycle's nose includes a small Gatling laser.

"They're stealin' our tok'l!" you hear one of the men shout.

"Throdding fm'latghh! We don't want your damn Tok'l!" Gideon shouts, aiming his gun at the Byakhee, ready to shoot if needed.

Sthena shakes her head. "We have no interest in such things."

Richard immediately reactivates gravspurs, spinning Mr. Rusty agilely as he "lands."

"Likely story you thievin' lampreys!" the other rider cries out, levelling his weapon.

Sakhr flares his wings out widely, trying to use the large stone-like appendages as cover for the rest of the crew.

Sakhr is hit with a metaplasma slug and a beam from the Gatling laser; the other shots go wide.

Richard continues evasive manoeuvring even as he opens fire with his small metaplasma-coil pistol.

Gideon takes a shot at one of the Byakhee from the edge of Sakhr's wing.

Your shot clips the Byakhee's wing and it swerves.

Sthena pops out from behind the wings, letting the lightning gun loose as well.

Sakhr howls in anger as the plasma burns a hole through his wing - yet the attack is deadened and dissipated when it strikes him, protecting any others from any further harm.

The lightning-blast hits the hovercycle squarely and fries the rider, instantly killing him as electricity courses through his body.  The cycle continues forwards, engine roaring!

"Sakhr, get down! Don't get yourself throdding killed!" Gideon shouts.

"Then I shall duck the next time someone shots at you, Captain!" Sakhr responds.

Richard focuses his shots at the remaining Byakhee.

The Byakhee screeches as your metaplasma slug grazes its head.  Ichor squirts from the wound in droplets which hover weightlessly in the air.

Sthena momentarily bathes the tunnel in blue light as a coruscating beam extends from her lightning gun. She raises an eyebrow at the reaction. "That was not my intent," she muses to herself, and moves to avoid the riderless cycle.  

She shot at the cycle because she could not bring herself to shoot at such a majestic, fascinating creature!  The Yithian-possessed mechanic is going to put her preternatural dexterity to use and attempt to commandeer the rampaging cycle.  She disables her gravspurs and leaps into the air, flipping around and landing neatly atop the charred corpse, kicking it away with one foot while she positions herself in the seat of the cycle with the other. She'd reflect on the distaste of what she's probably sitting in, as she couldn't fully kick the corpse away, but there are more pressing matters!

Sakhr is right in front of you – you're about to slam into him!

Sthena swerves as Sakhr dodges aside.

The hovercycle grazes the Dreamland creature, sending him careening!

Sthena calls out, "My apologies!" as she scuffs Sakhr, though it probably would've been worse had nobody taken control of the thing. Naturally, she brings the cycle around to attack whatever enemies remain.

Gideon shouts "Ysl'haog N'gha!" and kicks off the ground, attempting to grab the Byahkee with his Mi-go arm while taking a shot the rider.

You grab the Byakhee with your fungal prosthetic but the rider nimbly dodges your shot, jerking his head aside just in time.

Richard curses and prepares to deliver a metaplasma slug to the face of the Byakhee the very moment it's passing near.

The Byakhee's brains explode out of its head.  The beast hits the edge of the tunnel, its rider cursing and firing his weapon randomly.  Your hat is blown off by a metaplasma shot from his carbine.

"That's my flathing hat, you mnahn'nw!" Gideon snarls.

Sthena catches the hat as it floats by, smirking.

Sakhr has been shot twice with plasma, and has just been nearly run-over by Sthena's driving, yet somehow the large rock creature remains on his feet, cracked, charred, and missing chunks of himself, but still apparently 'living', assuming he meets the technical requirements for that condition in the first place.

The remaining rider attempts to extricate himself from the dead Byakhee.  He heaves - weightless, the Byakhee corpse is easily pushed off.

"Let's try to capture him. He might have valuable information!"  Richard shouts pointing at the shot-down Byakhee rider.

Gideon is too distracted from holding onto a Byakhee in flight and trying to aim at the rider to comment on Richard 's idea.

Sakhr disables his Gravspurs and pushes himself off the ground, throwing himself towards the Byakhee Gideon is contending with - he hopes to offer assistance, or, at the very least, swiftly hit the creature as a large, heavy, quickly-moving object.

You collide with the Byakhee!  Ripping at the monstrous creature's flesh, it screams horribly, flapping its wings and slowing.

"Thanks for the hand!" Gideon shouts to Sakhr.  "Go for the rider now, we could use the bug!

Sthena chases down the rider attempting to escape on foot using her much faster vehicle. She decelerates when she starts getting close. "I highly recommend you drop your weapon and sit on the ground peacefully!"

The unshaven man snarls and looks like he might resist, but he releases his weapon and it drifts in space before him.

Richard dashes after Sthena and the surrendering rider to confiscate the man's discarded weapon.

You grab the floating carbine, Richard.

Gideon tries to pull himself on the Byakhee's back, attempting to shoot the rider again.

The man, seeing you approach, kicks off from the Byakhee into space, avoiding your shot!  He returns fire with his carbine.  The recoil from his blast blows him backwards, towards the tok'l deposit.

"Flathing throdding peice of fm'latggh-'bthnk!" Gideon curses.  The Captain sits on the Byakhee, attempting to steer Sakhr to where he'll have a shot at the former rider.

Sakhr kicks himself free of the Byakhee, opting to free himself from it to keep from hindering the Captain's abilities. Sakhr, however, is not one overly pleased with firefights. He prefers melees, himself, and with most of the initial difficulty ameliorated, opts to withdraw himself form the fight, and toward someplace to take cover.

Sthena notices that a charred boot with a bit of charred ankle and a blackened leg bone sticking out from it still remains in the vehicle. She kicks it out to land in front of the man, as if to remind him what happens if he doesn't cooperate.

"Sthena, if Carter should need help with the last nyth-shogg, go lend him some aid will you. I can keep watch on this one," Richard assures the erstwhile stripper.

Sthena has already turned the hovercycle around (ignoring Richard completely) and is zooming down the corridor to assist the rest of the group.  The Yithian-possessed woman fires the Gatling laser, but doesn't attempt to hit the remaining armed assailant. "I recommend you surrender as well!" she calls out, slowing down when she approaches him.

The man twists around to face Sthena.

Gideon lines up a shot and fires.

Gideon's shot takes the man in the back of the head and exits out his face in an explosion of bone, cartilage, and brains.  Bits and pieces of the dead Byakhee and the dead rider drift through the tunnel, blobs of blood swimming through the air, ionized gunsmoke forming eerie wraiths.

Sthena extends her arm to push away the disgusting, drifting corpse as she rides by. "Well, so much for that. At least we have one."  She smiles at Gideon. "Ah, I see you have secured transit as well." She says that like he showed up with a cup of coffee and a danish.

Sakhr reactivates his gravspurs and begins to approach the group. Despite the many cracks, chips, burns, holes, and other grievous injury present on his person, Sakhr's expression lacks the notable expression of pain that most would expect to see in someone under his condition.

Gideon gives Sthena a brief grin, then flies over to Sakhr. "How're you holding up?"

"I... could use a mason, I think.  That was an unfortunate occurrence over a matter of mistaken opinions. A delay we could ill afford at this juncture," the creature says, poking at one of the newly burned holes in his wings.

"Throd," Gideon swears.  "Anything we can do to help now?

Sakhr ponders.

"Alright you son-of-a-Gug, start talking," Richard says whilst aiming at the rider.  "Do you know anything about an occultist that came this way very recently, heading for the 'calf's heart?"

"Occultist?  Some hlirgh with a slave ya mean?

"Yeah, that's him," Richard replies.

"Yeah we saw him, bout half an hour ago.  Throdding bastard threw up a ward 'fore we could blast him.  He's headin' to the heart, ya say?  Why'd he go there?  Place is sealed up tight.  No one can get in."

"Sealed?" Richard says.  "What the throd do you mean by that?"

"Big throdding door!  No one can get in, there's some sorta code.  Old Yith-tech, I think."

"Yith-Tech?" Sakhr muses.  "Interesting. Perhaps... he understands Yith tech?"

"We have to assume the worm can get in, he planned too much. What's the fastest way to the heart?"

"Just follow the glyphs.  First are over yonder."  He points down a nearby tunnel.

As you speak, you feel a vibration in the floor.

"Vulgtlagln-syha'h!" Richard swears in alarm.

"Sakhr, on the bike with Sthena!  Rich, get Rusty on this thing we me!" Gideon barks.  "We have to move!"

Sakhr pokes at part of his left bicep.  A fist-sized chunk of mineral falls free and clatters to the ground.  Sakhr frowns.  A few pebbles dislodge from his forehead.  "I would... never mind. We shall be running now."  He hurries to the bike with barely seconds to spare.

"What about me!?" the captive screams.

"You can throdding walk and be glad I'm not killing you myself!" Gideon shouts.

Richard immediately tases the rider and begins evasive manoeuvre to get Mr. Rusty the hell out of way of whatever's coming.

In an explosion of dust and fragments of fossilized tissue, a massive Dhole bursts forth from "beneath" you, barrelling upwards and into the tunnel, boring its way through the Mooncalf's stony flesh like some cyclopean tapeworm.  The being is immense in size, its behemothic maw gnashing massive teeth, its pallid bulk gleaming with viscous slime.  Fixing you with a cluster of beady, insectile eyes, the beast squeals with unspeakable hunger and worms towards you, a probing tongue hanging from its fanged mouth!  With a snap of its haws it devours the electrocuted man.

Sthena pulls up alongside Sakhr, hoping the bike is able to handle his rather considerable mass (though Sakhr has much less mass now, thanks to plasma and being run-over by said bike!).

Gideon moves his mount to fly away from the Dhole, if it's not already trying to flee itself.  Richard deactivates gravspurs and leaps toward Gideon's Byahkee, latching onto the creature.

The Dhole pursues you, squealing hideously!

Sthena goes zooming off down the tunnel with Gideon, trying to get as far away from that as possible.

You roar ahead, putting distance between yourself and the horrid creature.

"Towards the heart, and pray to Cthulhu that throdding grah'n doesn't follow!" Gideon yells.

You pass some Yith-glyphs carved on wall.  Sthena, you quickly scan over them - they indicate a Yith research station up ahead.

Sthena is intrigued. But perhaps not for very long.

The tunnel swerves upwards sharply ahead of you – you're going to have to pull up sharply or be smashed against the wall!

Sthena brakes and tilts the hovercycle upwards.  Gideon wheels his mount about.

You both pull up and the Dhole crashes into the wall, burrowing into it.

"Iä.  That was close<' Gideon sighs, relieved.  "Hope we shook that grah'n. "

"Y'hah!" Richard agrees.

"Alright, follow the glyphs to the heart," Gideon orders.  "Sthena, can you get anything useful from them?"

"...We should increase our velocity more," Sakhr suggests.

There is another rumbling, and the Dhole bursts through the wall ahead of you, having curled round!  It ploughs into the tunnel at a perpendicular, so that it blocks the tunnel off!

Sthena notes the irony of Sakhr's comment just as that happens. She rapidly slows down. "I do not concur."

Gideon, your Byakhee plows straight into the thing's bulk!  It screeches and pulls back, badly bruised.  It looks like some sort of viscous slime got on its skin and is now eating away at it!

The Dhole disappears down the tunnel it created.

"That's why you stop, you fm'latggh-'bthnk!"  Gideon pushes off the Byakhee since he doubts he can stop that slime.

Richard likewise leaps off the Byakhee, toward the bike

The creature whimpers pitifully as the acidic secretions of the behemoth dissolve its flesh.

Sthena fires a shot from her lightning gun to put the Byakhee out of its misery.

The Byakhee fries.  The air now smells like roasting meat and ozone.  Your tok'l detectors indicate another concentration of the metal up ahead.  Glyphs carved into the wall indicate the path.

Sthena recharges the gun and shakes her head. "A shame. Such majestic creatures." She then goes to examine the glyphs.

"Sthena, think that bike can carry Rusty too?" Gideon asks.  He forms his fungal arm, pulling it against his back and splitting it into two large, flat panels shaped like the Byakhee's wings and attempts to use them to fly, pulling his human arm against his chest for balance.

"We're in zero gravity here, anyway," Richard says.  "So long as we don't go too fast there should be no problems."

The glyphs indicates a Chakra-Engine up ahead. The Great Race constructed several of these devices in an attempt to tap into the aetheric or "subtle" bodies of extinguished cosmic beings which still linger even when the brute physical manifestation of the entity is dead.  Though several attempts to harness these phantasmal energies were successful, a number of accidents (in the present timeline's distant past, aeons ago) occurred in which Chakra-Engines overloaded; the resulting burst of numinous radiation often had unpredictable, even disastrous results.  The project was thus discontinued.

Sthena informs the others of the meaning of the glyphs, assuming she's the only one who can read them. Well, sort of. She doesn't really talk about the part where they messed it all up and had the nasty accidents.

"Now we know what he's trying," Gideon mutters.  "N'gha h'geb if he manages to pull it off."

"That bodes ill," Sakhr says.  "How likely is it that he can succeed at anything but a galactic disaster?"

Sthena nods. "If the Great Race could not bring such energies under control, his chances of doing so are very limited. However, the failed attempt will likely have... dangerous results."

"So either way we're throdded if we don't stop him," Gideon says.  "Let's get moving!"  He flaps his new wings to follow the others.

You enter a tunnel webbed with membranous wefts of fossilized tissue - some ancient artery or vein of the dead Mooncalf.  The passage twists "downwards."  More glyphs have been carved into the once-living walls of the place.

A huge circular door or seal of yellowish metal bars your way round the bend, covered in more glyphs.  Some form of alien lock is evident at the center.

Sthena hops off the bike, either walking or floating (depending on the walkability of the surfaces here) over to the lock.

"Well, this looks like a real challenge for a change," Richard declares, approaching the lock to examine it.

The lock consists of a complex series of intricate polyhedral tumblers manipulated by a console covered in Yith-glyphs.

Sakhr decides to wait on the hovercycle, in case they need to make another fast get-away.  Gideon hovers nearby, staying on wing.

"Can you two open it?" Gideon asks.

"Unlike N'gai, we lack the key," Richard replies.  "We'll have to try and hack it, which may cost time - assuming we succeed at all.  Better get on to it."

Sthena slides down next to Richard . "It is a complex quadridimensional mechanism based on non-Euclidian polyhedra. Your talents will be insufficient without certain insights."  Sthena does assist him, but she's more than a bit condescending while she does so.  She understands this mechanism very well.

"Damned if I know what all these glyphs here mean. Brute-forcing won't cut it, so stop being smart-assed and provide some of that insight already."

Together you manage to hack the lock.  The door-glyphs glow, and the door opens in sections, the tok'l metal retracting into the walls...
« Last Edit: December 24, 2011, 03:48:12 PM by Steerpike » Logged

[insert witty statement here]
Gelatinous Cube

View Profile
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2011, 08:47:57 PM »

Is it weird that I was there yet still can't wait to see the logs? I take an odd enjoyment from reading over games I played in. >.>

AnIndex of My Work


It's llitul and the brain, llitul and the brain, one is a genius and the other's insane
Proud Receiver of a Golden Dorito

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2011, 09:01:20 PM »

Yeah, me too!  sparkletwist commented that it's enjoyable to read the logs without having to worry about what to do next as one does when playing.

[insert witty statement here]
Gelatinous Cube

View Profile
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2011, 09:08:39 PM »

That's hilarious - I said the same thing to her maybe yesterday after reading over the Asura logs. It's nice how that works, and it is enjoyable to be able to go through the action at your own pace as opposed to game-pace.

AnIndex of My Work


It's llitul and the brain, llitul and the brain, one is a genius and the other's insane
Proud Receiver of a Golden Dorito

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #12 on: November 18, 2011, 08:32:16 PM »

The Heart and the Tongue

Past the door, artificial gravity kicks in.  You find yourself in what must be a ventricle or atrium of the Mooncalf's heart.  The walls have been reinforced with metal supports, however, and the floor is also metal; at the center of the chamber an impossibly complex machine of inscrutable purpose stands, a thousand wires and pumps extending from it and into the walls of the organic room.  A platform reachable via a short ramp extends round the machine, giving access to a console glowing with more glyphs.  Hunched over the console is your target, N'Gai, a hand-held computer in one hand; his other hand flickers over the glyphs, rapidly manipulating the controls.  The machine is making ominous noises, and you can feel the hairs on the back of your neck rise as eldritch currents fill the chamber.

As he hears the door open, N'Gai twists around.

Gideon does his best to make his fall to the ground look graceful as his wings can't support him in gravity.

"This is not a god time, is it?" Sakhr asks sardonically.

Richard remembering the briefing, is not going to take any chances. Mr. Rusty opens fire and charges forth into the hall.

Your shot pings off a wall.

Gideon opens fire as well.

Sthena hisses. "Watch where you're shooting! Don't hit the machine!"

Your shot hits some kind of shimmering, previously invisible forcefield surrounding N'Gai; the ward flickers and dissipates.  N'Gai flashes an awful grin and slams his fist down on the machine defiantly.  Components of the machine move rapidly, and a central crystal begins to glow.

"You're too late!" the crazed cultist crows.  "The Chakra-Engine has already begun to collect the Dead God's essence!"  He dashes round the machine, already muttering the syllables of some abominable incantation and drawing a hideously serrated knife!

"Sthena! What happens if we blast the damn machine?!"

Sthena smirks. "Concisely, you likely won't have to worry about short rations."

"Angle your shots then." Gideon grimaces at the prospect.

Sakhr takes cover and begins assessing options.  "Sthena, can you shut down the machine?" he asks. "Or at least tell us how to disable it without destroying us in the process?

Gideon moves to follow N'Gai. Richard charges after the occultist

Sthena looks for something on the machine she can fry with her lightning gun without the risk of blowing up everything. Or, a console she can use, but that could take longer.

A slave branded with glyphs marking her as chattel is tied up and gagged on the other side of the Chakra-Engine.  A fresh mutilation mars her forehead - a strange sigil carved into her flesh, bleeding freely.  An improvised altar made from a slab of rock sits nearby, candles melting upon it.

"Nyarlathetop fhtagn!"  N'Gai shrieks, a sacrificial dagger in hand.  "With this whorish female's unclean tongue, filthy with the spittle of a thousand kisses and the seed of a thousand fornications, I summon your avatar!"  He pulls the gag free and prepares to cut the slave's tongue from her mouth.

Gideon shoots at N'Gai.

Your bullet takes the cultist in the chest.  He vomits blood and staggers.

Richard dashes forward to intercept the cut, not caring if Mr. Rusty might take damage in the process.

You stop the knife from descending, grappling with the wounded cultist.

Sthena goes to the console, attempting to see what she can do to shut down the machine.

You think you've figured out the controls and can begin aborting the process, but it'll be time-consuming.

Sthena examines the controls. "Ah, a pleasure to use some technology that is not merely childrens' toys, for once." She calls out to her cohorts, "And how are you holding up?"

N'Gai, still somehow alive, spits a vile hex at Mr. Rusty.

Gideon's response is a string of curses "Throdding ilyaa'hrii hafh'drn-hrii nafl-hupadgh! Just die!"

Richard screeches, blathering words of gibberish, but continues to wrestle with N'gai, the six arms of Mr. Rusty raining punches.

Gideon takes another shot at N'gai.

N'Gai wrests free of Richard  and snatches up his knife.  With a vicious swipe he removes the slaves tongue.  He sets the tongue on the altar and sets it afire with one of the candles, still chanting blasphemous incantations.  A strange prickling feeling sweeps over you.

Gideon, your bullet passes over N'Gai's head and hits the Chakra-Engine.  The machine makes a strange whining sound.  Ancient Yithian alarms begin wailing like banshee screams as parts of the machine spark and flicker; there is a small, iridescent explosion and a series of lurid flashes, and bits of hot tok'l are blown across the room.  The crystal in the middle of the machine throbs; the whining sound intensifies, building to an ominous crescendo.  The petrified, organic walls of the room begin to glow with an eldritch light.

Gideon moves to grab N'gai when the shot misses.  "N'gha h'geb," he swears.

Sthena sees the damage indicators light up her console, of course. "This is why you don't shoot the machine."

"I was trying to shoot the throdding Grah'n!"

Meanwhile, a figure begins to congeal, to coagulate out of the ether, rupturing space/time with a grotesque, mind-wrenching susurration as of some squelching, slime-throated choir hissing in fiendish disharmony.  The being which coalesces before you is a creature out of a madman's nightmare.  Stamping forth on hoofed feet it comes, its bony torso cadaverous and shadow-skinned, its hypertrophied limbs monstrously clawed; most hideous of all is its tentacular head, a single writhing tendril, utterly featureless, and a monstrous maw, toothed like a lampreys, which gapes on its belly, dribbling caustic spittle.  The abomination's flesh is black as the depths of space save for its head, which is a bloody crimson.  Its foul, membranous skin is slick with glistening ichor; the very sight of its tenebrous, flickering form drives a thousand jagged splinters into your mind, its abhorrent, muculent, faceless visage seared with terrible permanency into your synapses like some blasphemous cattle-brand!

Gideon reiterates in almost reverent tones. "N'gha h'geb."

"...Well you missed!"  Sakhr snarls.  "Now shoot that thing!"

Gideon tries to shoot the horrific nightmare.

The monstrosity is hit.  It shrugs off the metaplasma shot and stamps towards you.

Sthena, something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.  The Chakra-Engine is no longer merely gathering energy from the Mooncalf's ghostly subtle body, it's redirecting that energy back into the Mooncalf's physical body itself!   The machine is overloading: instead of a battery, sucking power from the ether and storing it, it's becoming a defibrillator, pumping that power back into the dead god's cadaver!  Merely destroying the machine won't stop the overload - that will just release the energy in an uncontrolled burst, probably tearing open space/time on a cataclysmic scale.

Sthena reiterates. "This is why you DON'T SHOOT THE MACHINE."  She busies herself frantically with the controls.

You desperately begin shutting down the process, Sthena.  Richard, the sight of the being is too much for your already bruised mind to take.  You are filled with an impulse to escape at any cost.

Richard falls into a maniacal fit, Mr. Rusty thrashing and crashing randomly around.  Gideon begins to gibber about cats clawing at him.

The beast moves forwards.  Its tentacular head writhes towards Gideon, wrapping around him and lifting him into the air.

"Nyarlathetop!  My Master!" N'Gai cackles, blood streaming from his lips and pooling below him as he dies.  "Howler in the Darkness!  God of the Bloody Tongue!  I beseech you, destroy these mortal interlopers!  Soon the Engine will have harvested the essence of the Dead God, and you can suck its power from this shattered hulk, and ascend to your rightful place amongst the Greater Outer Gods!"

Sakhr barrels into the creature, clawing at it and taking it by surprise.

It drops Gideon to the ground.

"I hope you have a plan, Captain!" Sakhr shouts.  "I did not think this through entirely!"

"You throdding think?!"

"It seemed prudent from over there!"

Sthena frowns. "As usual, it's up to me to fix everything." She steps away from the console, noticing that shutting down the machine, however useful it may be, won't deal with the pressing problem. She fires her lightning gun at the lumbering monstrosity.  Her shot arcs sideways. She curses her choice to refill the ethanol reserves with the bar's rotgut.

The lightning-blast misses and is deflected off the side of wall.  It rebounds and hits the crystal.  Cracks fissure the Chakra-Engine's central crystal, beams of bright light spilling free from them, streaming into the Mooncalf's flickering, quasi-petrified flesh.  The process cannot be aborted now - too much numinous energy has filled the crystal.  If the energy isn't redirected, refracted into some other object, the Great Old One itself, the Mooncalf, will revive!


Already the walls continue gain colour.  They flutter and flush, beginning to turn from stone back into living flesh; moisture fills the air, and light ripples beneath the being's skin; and then, echoing throughout the chamber, you hear it - the colossal, unfathomably loud, unmistakable thud of a heartbeat.  All of you are immediately reminded of that most famous Necronomicon quotation:  "That is not dead which can eternal lie. And with strange aeons even death may die."

Sthena returns to the console. She attempts to redirect the energy into the lumbering beast.  Either it'll get what it wants as a result of her actions, or it'll get what it wants anyway if she does nothing, so, no big loss.

In your haste you hit the wrong glyphs.  You'll need to try again.

"Fm'latggh-‘bthnk! The Crawling Chaos!" is the only coherent thing Richard manages to utter now in his state.

"The plan is to survive long enough for Sthena to do something with that machine!" Gideon orders.

Sthena snarls. "What kind of idiot uses a dvor'k glyphmap?" She tries again.

Sakhr grapples the Bloody Tongue, keeping it a bay.  "You are pretty ugly, you know - have you ever considered taking on a shape that's actually NICE to look at?! Then you might get followers that aren't insane."

Gideon takes another shot, catching in the creature in the body.

The avatar stumbles backwards.  The being whines horribly, a huge hole blown in its torso.

Sthena initializes the sequence properly.  The beams from the crystal focus with Sthena's efforts, concentrating on the avatar.  She pushes the big red button. "This is going to be quite interesting."

At first it cries out in hideous ecstasy - but then, as the energy continues to stream into its horrific form, its flesh begins to glow from beneath.

Sakhr does his best to hold the avatar within the beams, doing whatever he can to keep it from escaping.  "Rook to King. Checkmate."

It flails and seizes, tearing at its own skin, light spilling free from its claw-wounds and the bullet-hole in its body.

Gideon attempts to grab N'Gai while shouting "Run!"

N'Gai, coughing blood, is pulled along with you.  Richard, you abruptly regain your composure.  Everything becomes clear once more.

"SAKHR! GET OUT OF THERE!" Gideon orders.

Sakhr starts running as fast as his thunderous footfalls can carry him.  "I heard you the FIRST TIME!" He scoops the bound slave-girl up as he goes.

Richard feels surprised and disoriented, but somehow manages to direct Mr. Rusty on course out of the hall

Sthena makes sure the process is beyond the point of no return, and then joins her compatriots for a hasty departure. "Please join me on the cycle."

The Mooncalf reverts to lifeless stone. As you get on the cycle and more light spills from the creature's body and it squeals with unholy jouissance.

Gideon grabs onto the back of it, keeping his fungal arm wrapped around N'Gai. Richard grabs at the bike with all of Mr. Rusty's limbs, holding on tight.  Sthena rides away at high speed.  

You flee the chamber as the crystal fragments, the last of its energy spilling into the avatar of Nyarlathotep.  The Bloody Tongue staggers.  There is a blinding light from behind you as the creature explodes, sending pieces of black viscera in all directions.

Richard applies Mr. Rusty's integrated tazer on the captive N'gai.

"Throdding y'hah!" Gideon says in relief.

Sthena just drives the getaway car.  Sakhr produces the bottle of absinthe once the matter seems to have calmed down.

"Let's get the throd out of this ebumna-n'ghft" Richard exclaims.

"Apologies. I lack the cubed sugar or proper glasses. Would anyone care for a stiff drink after that unpleasantness?"

Gideon is holding onto the mark and the back of the bike, so has no way to drink...much as he wants to.

Sthena saved the day and got through the whole thing without a scratch on her. Naturally.

Your mark in tow, the threat of the Crawling Chaos and the Mooncalf's accidental ressurection averted, you speed off through the petrified bowels of the great Ole One, back towards Gorgetown and your ship.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2012, 01:50:17 PM by Steerpike » Logged

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #13 on: December 06, 2011, 12:05:56 AM »

A Fistful of Tentacles


After completing a small contract in the system of Zhuque on the edge of the Homunculus Nebula - the very fringes of settled space - you received a proposition from a man named Samuel Crofton, mayor of the nascent colony of Menhir on the rugged, recently settled planet Mandragora.  The settlement's cattle have been going missing and Crofton believes that rustlers are making off with them.  The local sheriff, Phillip Burke, took a party of armed men into the nearby wilderness, hoping to find the stolen cattle and capture the rustlers.  Only Burke returned, raving insensibly, slipping in and out of catatonia; the other men never emerged from the shadowy depths of the forest.

Crofton has contacted off-world law enforcement agencies requesting further investigation, but the response has been unenthusiastic, and by the time the interplanetary police send someone to look into things the town will have been bled dry.  Private security agencies are far too expensive for the town to afford.  In desperation Crofton has asked the crew of the Demoiselle d’Ys  to look into the matter, promising to pay them as much as he can scrape together.  With the money from James N'Gai's capture and other recent jobs beginning to dwindle, you have agreed to help the citizens of Menhir if you can.

You will receive your pay either upon return of the stolen cattle or if you arrest, kill, or otherwise dispatch the rustlers.  In addition, the families of the men who joined Sheriff Burke will pay a bonus for the return of their relatives - or, if they are dead, of their loved ones' bodies.


The crew of the Demoiselle d'Ys sits around the table in the galley, playing a game of Black Faro, cards adorned with images of mummified beasts (face cards instead featuring various sphinxes). Captain Gideon Carter serves as the Banker; Doc Tenebrous Ramsay Olmstead, and Ashley Crow are the other players.  Sthena - who has been banned from games of chance aboard the ship after proving herself capable of calculating probabilities with frightening precision - sits to one side, scrutinizing the cards as they are turned and unintentionally distracting Ramsay with her ample cleavage.  Father Blake sits by the bar, leafing through the New Carcosan Bible and occasionally muttering a passage under his breath; the rules of his order forbid him from gambling.  The eldritch gargoyle known as Sakhr does dishes in the background.

"... so the oafish bartender with the fungal infection shot at Gideon as we returned to the bar; I returned fire.  It was a most regrettable death," Sthena says, in the middle of the story of James N'Gai's capture.  "Horribly unnecessary.  But we had to escape the saloon in a hurry."

"Sthena!" Father Blake says, looking up from his reading.  "I do believe you may be developing a conscience after all, Hastur be praised!  To show such respect for life..."

"Yes," Sthena nods seriously.  "Being forced to obliterate such a fascinating fungal culture was most aggravating!  If only I'd been able to kill that imbecile without damaging his parasites."

The priest opens his mouth to respond, then closes it again.

"This time you guys better not steal all the fun for yourselves," Ramsay says.  "While you were having bar-fights and wild adventures the rest of us got stuck in the bloody airlock for six hours when the godsdamn doors broke down.  Six hours in that tiny piece of fm'latggh-'bthnk the Captain calls a shuttle."

"Believe me, Ramsay," Sakhr says from the kitchen.  "There was nothing 'fun' about fleeing from gigantic worms through the bowels of a petrified god.  There was nothing 'fun' about being shot full of holes by a pack of inbred bandits.  There was nothing 'fun' about wrestling with the avatar of a cosmic demon from the outermost dark!  I'd much rather have been stuck in the Sphinx."

At this moment Mr. Rusty clanks in.  "We're in orbit around Mandragora," Richard reports through the quasi-arachnoid android.  "Ready to make our descent, cap?"

"Aye," Gideon responds.  "Everyone get your equipment together.  We'll meet down in the hold in ten."

"Hmmm, gravity well," Sakhr murmurs. "I must put the dishes away before Richard's flying breaks any more of them..."

Ramsay puts away his cards and heads to his quarters.

Ramsay's quarters are plastered with posters of the band 'Idh-Yaa' - an all-female Deep One group whose standard stage constumes are retro swimwear.  A small shrine to Cthulhu, Father Dagon, and Mother Hydra is evident in one corner.  On the walls are Ramsay's various weapons - including his trusty Enoch & Curwen Combat Shotgun.  Ammunition is in a trunk at the foot of his bed.

Ramsay grabs the shotgun and begins cleaning it almost lovingly. After ascertaining that the weapon is in top condition, he loads up on ammunition and assorted miscellanea. He emerges from his quarters in a noticeably good mood, feeling ready for anything.

Sthena has been banned from playing games of chance, so instead she's scrawling formulas on a pad of paper, the result looking like her usual cross between a physics class's blackboard and a medieval book of curses. She puts the pad down and gets ready, as well, which involves changing from one tight catsuit-like garment to another, probably. The options for a decent looking woman in space opera are somewhat limited.

Dozens of half-assembled machines and intricate devices cover the long, low tables of Sthena's room.  The bunk in the corner seems almost an afterthought, most of the space being taken up by tools, bookshelves, an unusually large computer console, and inchoate projects.  Blueprints and other technical drawings paper the walls.

Sthena affixes her lightning gun to her right wrist with a click, making sure that it's functional and such. In particular, she ensure that the additional capacitors she installed for a new low-powered firing mode as well as the additional particle emitters are all functioning properly.

Sakhr has little need for equipment the same way that the others do. Instead, he begins to make preparations for landing - ensuring that all dishes are safety put away, and that all seats and tray tables are in their upright and locked positions.

Sthena meets the team in the hold in exactly ten minutes. She's always punctual, of course. Except when she's working on something, but that's important.

Outside Mandragora fills the ship's windows: a planet a little larger than earth but somewhat hotter and drier, with no sizeable seas unless one counts the vast prairie of sallow, impossibly hardy grass, or the seemingly endless salt flats where primordial oceans once stretched across half the world, till ancient solar fluctuations boiled them down to a series of shrunken lakes.  At the bleeding edge of the Zhuque system's Goldilocks Zone, Mandragora is a desiccated world, its few habitable, semi-arid regions outnumbered by the enormous deserts that dominate its surface.  Distantly, beyond the planet itself, one can glimpse the distinctively bulbous mass of the Homunculus Nebula, surrounded by a simmering blood-red halo of debris.  Somewhat nearer the large moon of Mandragora hovers in orbit round the planet: a pallid orb the off-white of old bone called Ereshkigal and more affectionately known as the Pale Lady.

Richard Xu, the ship's curmudegonly pilot, takes the Demoiselle d'Ys down towards the town of Menhir, at first nothing more than a dark spot in a vast greyish-yellow emptiness.  As the vessel nears the settlement you can make out its details through portholes as you head to the hold: a few dusty streets and some outlying ranches and scabrous fields, with a blotch of gloomy forest and bald, patchy hill-land visible nearby.

The hold of the Demoiselle is fairly modest in size - this is an ex-military vessel, not a cargo ship.  Large doors provide access to an airlock; beyond that is space.  Right now the only things in the hold are a few crates of spare ammo and the battered hovercycle Sthena liberated from the brigand-prospectors in the Mooncalf's innards.

Captain Gideon leans against a crate.  The Captain's shoulder and chest are patched up with gauze from where he took a metaplasma bolt during a barfight-turned-nasty with a couple of Xothic League veterans half a week ago.  Doc Tenebrous, Ashley Crow, and Father Blake descend from their quarters, armed and ready.

Sthena raises an eyebrow at the Captain's condition. "It's likely we will encounter adversity. Perhaps you shouldn't endanger yourself."

Gideon nods.  "I'm gonna sit this one out.  My flathing shooting arm is still stiff."

There is a loud clunk as the ship touches down.

"Who's going to hold the command out there then?" Ramsay asks.

Sakhr hopes it's not Sthena. Elsewise, they'll likely find a scrap-shop and never leave it.  "This is irregular, but for the best, Captain," he says.

Sthena doesn't particularly want to be in command. Even though everyone knows that she's the most qualified. By far.

"Well, Ramsay, tell the truth I was thinking of letting you take the lead on this one," the Captain says.  "You've been a valuable part of the crew for a long time now.  It's about time you had a taste of leadership.  That alright with you?"

Sakhr nods silently, agreeing wholly with the decision.

Ramsay smiles, a bit surprised but happy of the trust shown by the captain. "As you wish. I won't let you down, Carter."

"I'm sure you won't."  The Captain tips his hat, then goes over to the door controls and manipulates them awkwardly with his good arm.

The cargo bays doors open and searing sunlight streams in.  The air is hot and dry.  Ahead of the ship a flat plain of stunted grass interspersed here and there with the occasional twisted shrub or tree stretches up to the small town of Menhir, visible in the distance.  Many of the plants here are modified terrestrial imports genetically tweaked so as not to upset the ecosystem, though the grass itself is indigenous.  While it looks like the grass of Earth it somehow doesn't sound like it: when a scorching wind whips across the plain like the breath of Cthugha the whispering rustle of the grass seems subtly wrong, like the planet itself were murmuring in an alien tongue.  The gravity here is ever-so-slightly greater than standard terrestrial gravity.  You feel a little sluggish, as if you were carrying a burden on your back.

Ramsay, the air here is torture for your skin.  Your Deep One blood makes you uncomfortable at such dry conditions.

"Alright," Gideon says.  "You lot go into town and meet with Mayor Crofton.  Richard and I will stay here and keep an eye on the ship.  You need any supplies or anything, come on back.  You can radio if you need backup."

Sthena is idly tuning her lightning gun during the discussion. Abruptly, she lunges forward, her hand and arm enveloped in blue arcs as she falls in the dirt. She snaps it back, and quickly stands up straight, dusting herself off, and then proceeds like nothing happened. "Shall we?"

Ramsay grunts as he steps out onto the planet's surface.  "We'll do well to not spend too much time admiring the landscape. Let's move out!"

Sthena nods, and then goes with the group, sauntering into town. She really can't help but walk with a little bit of a provocative sway in her hips. Muscle memory and her former occupation and all.

Father Blake sniffs the air and shakes his masked head, mumbles something under his breath.  Doc Tenebrous grins wolfishly and follows Ramsay out of the vessel, along with the inscrutable Ashley Crow.

Sakhr plods along behind them. He does not find the flora at all unsettling or alien. He himself is quite alien to nearly everything present anyway, and he finds the distorted perception of the grasslands oddly comforting.

The town of Menhir is built around a curious obelisk of stone rising out of the landscape: perhaps the monument of some elder, long-extinct civilization, perhaps nothing more than a solitary rock.  Five streets radiate out from this primeval monolith like spokes from a wheel hub.  Down one you can see the signs of a general store, a grocery store, a laundry, a livery stable, and a garage for powered vehicles; down another, a couple of taverns and dice-halls, a hotel, and a small theater; down a third, a stately if weathered Town Hall, a jail, and a bank; down a fourth a school-house, a healer's clinic, and a barber's shop; and down a fifth a farrier, a tannery, a butcher's shop, and a gunsmith.  On the outskirts of town, next to a primitive road which winds away in either direction to other small settlements on Mandragora, stands a chapel dedicated to Belenus, one of the Elder Gods, with a cemetery adjacent; you can also make out a water tower and, more distantly, a series of turbines spinning in the dry wind.

A small crowd has gathered at the center of the town.  One of their number waves to you as you approach.

Ramsay waves back at the crowd but carries on his way without stopping to chat with them.

Sthena stops at the obelisk, studying that for a moment.

There are no obvious runes or markings, but you'd guess that this was placed here deliberately.  By whom or for what purpose, you cannot say.

Sthena cannot say, but she certainly can speculate! "Fascinating. It's clear that this monument is deliberately placed. The architecture, such as it is, is reminiscent of the Old H'thla civilization of the..." She goes on for quite a while, even if nobody's listening.

A stern-faced, weather-beaten man of distinguished bearing but rough appearance steps out from the crowd and greets you with hat in hand.  They are all human; plain-faced folk in simple country clothes, the women in skirts and button-up blouses, the men in faded shirts and dust-coloured pants.  Almost everyone wears a hat of some description.

"Are you Captain Gideon's crew?" he asks.

"That we are. The Captain's staying back in our ship, so I am leading the group.  Name's Ramsay Olmstead."

The sun-browned man extends his hand.  "I'm Mayor Samuel Crofton.  Pleased to meet you.  You have my thanks for comin' to Menhir so quickly."

Sthena hurries to catch up with the group when she realizes they're all talking to the Mayor.

Ramsay shakes the Mayor's hand, his firm grip betraying his considerable strength.

Sthena joins in. "Sthena," she introduces herself, offering her hand as well, a little half-heartedly.

The other crew-members likewise introduce themselves.

A few of the locals murmur and stare at Sakhr and Doc Tenebrous.  You hear someone mutter the word "subbies."

Sakhr ignores whatever comments he overhears. After wrestling an avatar of the Great Old Ones, a bunch of superstitious peasants hardly damage Sakhr's own sense of self-worth.

Ramsay glares but very briefly at those comments. His smile wanes a bit.  "Good to meet you, Mayor. Shall we get down to business?"

"Yes indeed,"  Mayor Crofton says.  "As you know, we're having a problem with rustlers.  At first we thought cattle were just wanderin' off more'n usual, so to be safe we had a roundup and got all the beasts in their pens.  But the rustling didn't stop then, even with armed men patrolling the fences.  Can't be wild animals - the fences would keep 'em out, and besides, most o' the bigger critters on Mandragora went extinct a long time ago.  We lost another pair o' vortlups and a handful o' cows last night.  Worst hit was the Horn family ranch, not far from the Gibbet Gills and the Reekwood.  Might be you should take a look for yourselves.  The ranches nearest the wood seem to be the ones sufferin' most.  We reckon that's where the rustlers are hidin'; that's what poor Sheriff Burke thought, anyway.  You can find him recoverin' at the healer's.  We ain't got a proper doctor here in Menhir, just a sweet lass named Judith knows a thing or two 'bout tendin' the ill; she ain't been able to do much for the Sheriff, I'm afraid."

"Perhaps I might be of assistance in that regard," Doc Tenebrous offers politely.  "I've had some medical training."

"We might want to have a word with Burke. Doc here could take a look at him too, if that's alright with you."

"Of course."  Crofton nods to Ramsay.

Sthena thinks a moment. "I recommend you set up a tachyon matrix detection grid at the periphery of your land. A standard Class III transvoidic emitter should suffice, provided you have the space-warp coefficient properly calibrated. I could assist you with that."

He turns to look at Sthena.  "That's a lot of five-credit words there Miss Sthena.  I'm afraid we don't have access to that sort of thing out here, sad to say."

Ashley Crow fidgets with her gun.  Sakhr shrugs.

"We should speak with the sheriff," Sakhr suggests.  "Then I suggest we examine the ranches hit - they are on our way to these forests, and they may reveal clues to the means of this 'rustling'."

"These good folks here" - the Mayor gestures to the crowd - "are the relatives of those brave men who went into the forest searchin' for the rustlers and our missin' stock.  They got a few photographs of them that's missin'.  I don't need to tell you those men mean a helluva lot more'n some stolen cows.  Now if there's anythin' else you need, you can find me at the Town Hall."  He gestures to a dusty wooden building of two stories that might once have been white.  "Oh, and you might also want to have a chat with Miss Jane Williams, the waitress down at The Long Tendril.  She's what some might call a 'sensitive'... she tells me she's been dreamin' o' the men lost in the woods.  Visions, like.  I don't hold much stock in such things, usually, but who knows?  Perhaps she'll be of help."

The kinsfolk of the missing men shuffle forwards with photographs in hand and sombre, sometimes tearful expressions on their faces.  There are a total of sxiteen photographs, each with a man's picture - sometimes, in group shots, the individual in question is circled or otherwise marked.  On the back of each photo is a name.

Sthena examines the photos carefully. Of course, in the back of her mind, she's considering if any of these faces have had any historical relevance to her in her travels across space-time. Well, probably not, but you never know. Maybe she's going to go rescue space-Einstein.

No one noteworthy Sthena.  Except that one guy - isn't that the fellow Julius Caesar, who forges a giant space-empire that rules half the galaxy?  Or wait, was he an emperor on ancient earth... sometimes you get fuzzy on the details.  It's hard to keep all of time and space straight, even in a mind like yours!

Sthena will err on the side of caution and assume that he is the guy who forged the space-empire. This mission grows more exciting to her!

"Sakhr, you could take care of collecting the photographs," Ramsay suggests.

"Understood."  Sakhr begins to collect the pictures, taking a few seconds to look at each one he collects, if only to make it seem that he might be concerned about finding these men.

Sthena approaches Rasmay, speaking quietly. "I have noticed that female humans, particularly those in a traumatic or otherwise troubling situation, often prefer to speak to another female about the matter. Perhaps I should go speak to Miss Williams."  

"That might be wise. While you chat up with this miss Williams, we'll interview the Sheriff."

Sthena nods and goes to The Long Tendril. Hopefully there isn't a scrap-shop on the way.

"I almost forgot," Mayor Crofton says.  "Some o' the neighbouring settlements have also got hit.  One of 'em hired a fella to look into things.  He's over at The Long Tendril right now.  Might be you want to say hello."

Sakhr tilts his head in curiosity.  "Another? Interesting."  Sakhr heads after Sthena.

"Look into that as well Sthena, if you have the time for it," Ramsay calls after her.  He heads over to the healer's house, the rest of the crew in tow.

The Long Tendril is a somewhat dilapidated saloon that looks to be one of the older buildings in Menhir.  From inside the three-storey wooden building you can hear the crackling of an old radio crooning some dissonant country song:

Well I got me a girl/A little soft in the head/Whispers "The Old One's Coming"/When we're lying in my bed./Unseen forces push/From un-a-plumb-ed space/They get your mother and your brother and the whole damned race!/Spat up on a speck/In a great cosmic whirl/From the womb to the tomb/I tell ya man we're doomed...

Inside the bar only a small handful of patrons - probably mostly locals - sit smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and drinking beers or whiskeys.  The bartender looks like he might have a bit of Ghoul in his ancestry - his sharp, pale features have a certain queer doggish cast, especially around the ears.  He favours you with a rather sharp-toothed smile as you enter.  The waitress is a fleshy woman with flat blond hair and unsettling mismatched eyes - brownish-red and bluish-black, the latter a bit lazy.  She polishes a table with a rag.  The radio continues its warbling tune.

Hadrian Saxon-Sorne sits at the far corner of the bar, slowly nursing a glass of whiskey. By his facial expression, he does not seem pleased with it. He wears his blond hair short, a military cut. His corporate plasteel armour creeks as he looks over at Sthena as she enters The Long Tendril.

Sthena walks right up to the waitress. "Hello. May I speak to you a moment?" She does her best to look warm and friendly, which, well, that's not exactly the easiest for her. But she certainly makes an effort.

The waitress, Jane Williams, regards you with a bicoloured, wandering stare.  "Uh.  Yeah, sure, I guess.  Can I get ya somethin'?"  She glances nervously at the bartender.

Sakhr enters the building, and decides to do his best to stay out of the way but keep an eye on things. He decides to cozy up the bar, careful to make sure he has plenty of room between him and any locals. His wings take up a fair bit of space.

Hadrian raises both eyebrows at the appearance of Sakhr.

The locals eye you with curiosity and fear, Sakhr.

"What kind of creature in all o' the Great Beyond are you, then?" the bartender rudely demands.

"I am a... Gargoyle, to use your terminology. May I order a whiskey, or would you rather not serve my kind?"

"I'll serve any that can pay," the bartender grunts, and pours Sakhr a whiskey.

Hadrian sidles his stool up next to Sakhr as the gargoyle orders his drink.

Sthena shakes her head. "Nothing to drink, thank you. I am merely seeking information. We have been hired to recover the missing men and missing livestock, and I understand that you have some information about their possible whereabouts." She attempts another polite smile. Not a very good one.

"Um.  Not as such, Miss.  I... I get dreams that come true sometimes.  Ever since I was thirteen and became a woman grown.  The visions come when the Pale Lady's dark.  I seen all sorts o' things.  It's like I'm there, but no one can see me.  Like I'm a ghost.  I can pass through walls an' fly around too, if I try.  But it's like the dream wants me to see certain things... draws me on, like."

Sthena nods. "I see. And what have you seen recently, if I may inquire?"

The waitress' pupils dilate strangely.  "I been seein' red shadows'n black trees.  There's a dark cave deep in the woods, in amongst the hills.  I go down into the cave, deep down, into the earth.  It's warm down there, an' black as space, but I can see, somehow.  An' I can hear men screamin,' callin' out to the Elder Gods to save 'em, callin' out to their mammas.  I go in deeper, an' then I reach a wide-open space, an' this is where the men are screaming.  Now I know their voices, know they're the men who're missing.  Something stirs in the black, something big and hard to see.  There's another voice, too, not a man's voice but something between a woman's and a beast's.  It speaks an' the sound of it hurts my mind, an' then I wake up."

"Jane!" the bartender grumbles.  "I ain't payin' you to gab, you throddin' sll'ha-nglui."

The waitress flushes and looks down.

Sthena sees the exchange, and then bluntly asks Jane, "What is your hourly wage?"

"Five creds an hour.  Plus tips."

Sthena nods and puts five creds on the counter for the bartender. "This should more than cover her time." She then returns to speaking with Jane.

The bartender, taken aback a bit, grumbles something but takes the money and says no more.

Sthena continues speaking to the woman. "My name is Sthena." She offers her hand. Of course, the hand that she offers has some kind of weird fingerless, palmless medieval gauntlet-thing on it. "Please continue."

"Well.  Not much more to say.  Sometimes I see... I see this lady, in my dreams.  Black skin, not brown mind you, but black like tar or a moonless night... and yellow eyes.  Pupils're funny.  Sideways.  I think she's the one with the voice in the cave, the one that wakes me up.

Sthena nods. "Do you know anything about the whereabouts of this cave that you have witnessed? I am not local to this area, so even approximate geographical references would be helpful."

"I think it's up in the hills, if it's real at all.  Deep in the Reekwood, where the Mayor thinks them rustlers is hidin'."

Sthena nods. "While it could be a coincidence, I've seen far too much in my travels to discount such things as complete superstition." She hands the waitress a five credit note, the same as she put on the bar. "Thank you for your time."

The waitress nods, pocketing the note shyly.  "You folks take care."

"So," Hadrian says to Sakhr.  "You must be the crew that Menhir's hired to look into the... events."

Hadrian favours the gargoyle with a conspiratorial grin.

"Part of the crew, yes, I am," Sakhr responds.

Hadrian extends his gauntleted hand Hadrian Saxon-Sorne. Pleased to meet you.

Sakhr meets the brave man with a polite nod and an even tone.  "Sakhr. You seem... heavily geared. You are not a local?"

Hadrian frowns and lowers his hand as the gargoyle seems oblivious to it.  "Hah. No. Not by a few dozen light years.  Providence City. On Betelgeuse."

"Then you must be the 'fella' the mayor mentioned."

"I might well be. Seems you and I, maybe we could help each other out? See, I'd like to be out of here pretty soon, stuck as I've been on this rock for awhile. Took a job from the locals at Brantham down the road, looking into some missing livestock, and a missing ranch-hand."

Sakhr nods.  "Yes, essentially the same matter at hand. What is it you would propose?"

"Well. There's no reason we couldn't work to our mutual benefit.  I've been looking around. I know the terrain. Why not make it a bit easier for the both of us, eh?"

"In other words, you wish to work with us, using your skills to assist us in seeking our resolution. In return for...?"

"In return for the resolution of my own contract, of course. I have a sneaking suspicion the source of our ills is one and the same.  And... perhaps, passage off of this sun-blasted wasteland? Think we could swing that?

"Hmm. I concur in this assessment. I shall bring your proposal to my captain - or would you wish to speak directly to our... 'XO'?"

"Either or. As long as we're all happy, eh?"

A group of locals are gathering behind Sakhr.

"You," one of them says menacingly.  "I think it's best if you be on yer way, freak.  We don't take kindly ta your sort here."

Sakhr turns to look at the source of the voice. He tilts his head curiously.

The voice's owner is a tall, unshaven man with a beer gut and a few missing teeth.  He's got a tattoo on his left bicep with the words "ADL for Life" - "Anti-Degeneration League for Life."

Sthena quietly walks up near the back of the gathering group, not wanting to draw attention to herself.

Hadrian sighs and stands up. "Now come on, guys. I know you don't see too many off-worlders around here, but really? The man's just having a drink."

"This ain't none o' yer concern," the thuggish man says again.

"Very well. Please pardon my intrusion," Sakhr says politely.

Sakhr stands, favors Hadrian with a nod, and begins to amble towards the exit.  "They are correct, Hadrian, this is a common matter. Please allow it to end without undue necessity being brought to task."

"Hey, whatever, alright. Seems he doesn't have a problem with you assholes, so neither do I, I suppose."  Hadrian grins at the man.

The tattooed man spits on the ground.

"Know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, and know when not to bet at all, Hadrian," Sakhr continues. "This is one of those times."

Hadrian shrugs and walks past the thug, bumping into him with his armoured shoulder.

The local grimaces but doesn't say anything further, noting Hadrian's weapon and armour.

Sakhr wonders why these kinds of individuals need to prove their points in such... violent manners.

Sthena smiles cheerfully to anyone looking her way and then makes her departure as well, presumably with Sakhr not far behind.

The men leer at you as you leave, Sthena.

"Come, Hadrian. I have not the authority to grant your request, but I may introduce you to our team leader. His word will count for more than mine with the Captain."

 "Sure. Let's go. Who's your friend, eh? Maybe you could introduce me to her first?"  Hadrian nudges Sakhr.

"Oh, she is Sthena. Unless you are made out of rare archeo- or super-tech, she will no doubt find you very uninteresting. You may try, however."

Sthena hears her name and raises an eyebrow, turning around.

"Sthena," Hadrian says.  "Now what's a lady like you doing out here? Not the nicest place in the 'verse, I've found."

Sthena shrugs slightly. "I would concur. It is not. However, there are far worse places to be as well," she adds rather matter-of-factly. "And your name is?" she inquires. Nobody's told -her- yet, after all.

"Hadrian Saxon-Sorne. Looking into the trouble around here, same as you."

"He has proposed a deal that Ramsay or Gideon may wish to hear," Sakhr adds.

Hadrian nods. "I've seen some weird thermals out near the woods at night."  Hadrian pats his rifle.  "Been scouting the terrain. I'll take you up there."

Sthena nods in return. "Gideon does not seem to be in any condition to hear any 'deals' at the moment. The man will likely get his head bitten off for no particular reason. Perhaps we should speak to Ramsay."

"Yes, he has been rather crotchety since being shot," Sakhr agrees.

"Men who've been shot can be a little testy, I've found," Hadrian says.
« Last Edit: April 19, 2015, 02:05:44 AM by Steerpike » Logged

Spawn of Ungoliant

View Profile WWW
« Reply #14 on: December 08, 2011, 08:14:17 PM »


The healer has only two patients.  One is an older woman coughing into a cloth.   The other is a rugged man in his early middle years who writhes in bed, forcibly restrained.  His skin is pale and sweaty, his features contorted in a grimace of utter horror.  A tube snakes from his right arm to an IV bag.  His torso is heavily bandaged.

"Roots and branches," the man babbles as he thrashes.  "Twigs and boughs and knotted trunks!  The trees!  The trees!"

A young woman with a dark braid and a slightly burn-scarred face seems to be the medical practitioner.

"Welcome to Menhir.  You must be the folks Mister Crofton brought in to get our cattle back.  I'm Judith.  I expect you'll have a few questions."

"Good day," Ramsay says.  "Yes, we sure would like to speak with the Sheriff. Doc here might be able to patch him up a bit, too, if you'll allow him to take a look.

"Certainly," Judith nods.  "But physically I've taken care of him already.  It's his mind that's the problem."  She walks over to the raving man.  "This is Sheriff Burke.  Or perhaps I should say, this was Sherrif Burke.  Man I remember was a strong man, a brave man.  Once some brigands came through town, started causin' a ruckus, botherin' us womenfolk and makin' threats, swaggerin' about like they owned the place.  Sheriff walks right up to 'em and tells 'em to move along quiet and no one will get hurt.  The men laughed, told him to go bugger himself.  Sheriff's draw is faster'n any I seen. In an eyeblink he had his pistol out, told 'em they'd better reconsider or they'll be joinin' the folks out in the cemetery by sundown.  One reached for a gun o' his own and 'fore you can say 'Azathoth's Arse' the Sheriff put a bullet through the nyth-shogg's murderous hand.  That man weren't afraid o' anything."

She turns to look at the struggling man in the bed.  "Least ways he weren't afraid of anything till now; he's been like this since he came back from search.  Sometimes he don't talk quite so much, just falls quiet and looks at the ceiling, barely breathing.  It's most unsettlin' - you'd swear the man was dead to look at him.  First time he went all stiff like that I thought he'd passed.  Had to check his pulse to make sure he was alive."  She runs a hand through her hair.  "He hasn't slept, though.  Not a wink.  When he goes rigid his eyes're always open.  It's been two weeks."  She shakes her head.  "If we weren't feedin' him through the IV there he'd would've starved to death - won't chew or swallow food.  When we found him, the first night he seemed to be lucid enough, but we kept him here to be safe.  Got hold of a scalpel and started cuttin' on himself, writing strange letters on his own body.  We stopped him and got him restrained."

 "That is unfortunate. Has there been any sense to his ravings? Or, for lack of sense, any kind of pattern?"

"The trees!" Burke shrieks, eyes rolling into the back of his head.  "THE TREES TOOK THEM ALL!"  He suddenly goes stiff as a board.

"Just talk like that," Judith says.  "Raving about the trees, the trees took them.  Nonsense-words, gibberish that sounds like R'lyehian but ain't quite."

"Have you ever seen anything like this, Doc? I suppose there's nothin' we can do to fix him up, here without much in the way of medical equipment and all."

Doc Tenebrous examines the man thoroughly.  "I've seen cases like this before.  Shell shock, or something worse, has triggered a psychotic break.  Not much we can do without the proper antipsychotics, and I don't have those on hand.  But... well.  It's a bit barbaric, a bit crude, but electroshock therapy might work.  If we hit him with the right modulation, it could induce a seizure.  Sometimes that can help the brain regain a bit of normalcy."

"Hm. That sounds pretty risky. Isn't there a danger of accidentally killing him?"

"Well, it's not risk free.  It could be he gets better on his own.  But more likely he'll only get worse."

"If there's a chance o' you helpin' him, I'm sure the Sheriff would want ta take the risk," Judith says.

Ramsay turns to regard Judith. "He's one of your people, so the choice is yours to make here."

"It's worth trying.  We can't keep feedin' him like this fer long.  We'll run outta fluid."

"Very well then. I trust you'll know how to handle this, Doc."

Sthena arrives at the healer's.

Father Blake steps forwards.  "You mentioned he cut some strange letters on his body.  Could you copy them down?"  The priest asks.

Judith shakes her head.  "No, but the wounds should've closed by now.  We can change his bandages and you can have a look."

"Yes. We should photograph those," Ramsay adds.

Sthena perks at the mention of strange letters.

Sakhr arrives at the healer's, pictures and new friend in tow.

Tenebrous looks over to Sthena.  "Sthena, I have a job for you and your little device."

"Sthena, you might want to have a look at this too," Ramsay says.

Sthena is in such demand! Well, she is the only competent member of the team.

"I need you to give this man a shock sufficient to cause a seizure, but not sufficient enough to otherwise harm him," Tenebrous instructs.  "Can your device handle that?"

Sthena smiles at Doc. "Fortunately, recent enhancements make such a thing eminently possible. Had you made that request a week ago, I would have found it difficult to do without incinerating him." She opens a small panel in her weapon, shunting away all but one small capacitor.

Ramsay turns to regard Hadrian. "Hello. Who might you be?"

Hadrian steps into the house, his booted footfalls heavy on the wooden floor.  "Hadrian Saxon-Sorn. Looking into the same trouble as you, they've had some problems down near Brantham too. I've been talking with your crewmates, seems maybe we could work an arrangement out?  To our mutual benefit, of course."

"Interesting," Ramsay says, considering.  "We've got a bit of critical work on our hands right now, so please try not to get in the way. We'll talk about this arrangement afterwards."

"Alright everyone, make some space," Doc Tenebrous urges.

Hadrian nods, and leans against a wall, out of the way.

Ramsay steps back, motioning others to do likewise.

Judith steps backwards, hands clasped.

Father Blake and Ashley follow her lead.  The former lawwoman eyes Hadrian suspiciously.

Hadrian favours her with a wink.

Ashley scowls and looks away, checking her ammunition for the thousandth time.

Hadrian breaks into a grin and puts his hands behind his head.

Sthena motions to Judith. "I need some sort of moistened rag. We need to provide conductivity while protecting the skin from burns."

Judith nods and gets a rag.

Sthena gives Doc an 'are you sure about this?' look. 

Doc Tenebrous nods.

Sakhr stands to the side, waiting to render any necessary assistance.

Ramsay whispers a quick prayer to Father Dagon and Mother Hydra.

Sthena places the lightning gun inches from the protective, but conductive rags, and discharges it at its lowest power level.

Sthena, it's still running too hot!  The man convulses, but his hair starts to smoke.  You need to decrease the power, now!

Sthena hurriedly decreases the power.

Sheriff Burke lies still for a moment, his eyes closed.  For a second you think you've killed him but then he opens his eyes.

Sthena shakes her head. "This is a weapon, not a piece of medical technology," she says when she thinks he's dead. "A rather versatile one, however, it would seem," she says, pleased with herself when he awakens.

"Where... where am I?" Sheriff Burke asks, looking around, taking in the straps holding him down, the bandages, the IV, and everything else.  "What the throd is this?"

Ramsay leans closer to the Sheriff.  "Sheriff Burke! You are safe in Mandragora.  Please stay calm. We would like to have a word with you."

Sthena sits there repairing the damage she did to the lightning gun in her hurried attempt to decrease the power. Probably reattaching the capacitor she ripped out, or the like.

Burke looks you up and down, noting your gill slits and fish-like eyes.  "Who the throd are you?"

"My name is Ramsay Olmstead. A mercenary hired by the mayor Crofton, to look into the troubles of missing cattle and men."

He trembles, as if you said something shocking.  "The cattle.  Throd... My brain feels like a sieve."

"Take it easy. You were lucky to have lived, from I've been told. Judith here has taken care of your wounds."

Sthena finishes her repairs and then speaks to Doc again. "Perhaps we could see about changing his bandages, now? I would like to see those characters."

Judith nods.  "We're just going to change your bandages, Phillip."  She begins unwrapping the bandages from round the Sheriff's torso.

"I must ask for your help, Sheriff," Ramsay continues.  "We need all the information we can muster before we head to the woods to look for the rustlers.  If you can remember anything that could steer us the right direction, we'd be grateful. And more likely to succeed."

"My memory... it's not working so well. Last thing I remember we were goin' into the Reekwood, that weird loam-smell the place is named for filling our noses.  Guns out, lookin' for tracks or droppings, any sign o' them rustlers took our cattle.  It gets muddled after that.  Movement, somethin' stirring out in the undergrowth, somethin' big.  Bigger'n a man.  We thought it might be some o' the cattle.  Ahead we go.  Then it all gets even fuzzier."  He shakes his head, as if trying to shake some vision loose.

As he speaks, Judith finishes removing the bandages.  Beneath them is a series of clumsily scrawled, scabrous glyphs - crabbed, still-oozing things, quite deep, but healing.  They look R'lyehian, but it is some ancient, primitive form rather than the modern script.

Sthena raises an eyebrow at this trail, too, leading to the Reekwood. Her eyebrow stays raised when she sees the glyphs, reading them.  She shakes her head. "Well, this is interesting. Quite the flair for the poetic, for hastily scrawled self-mutilation."

"We should get some photographs of this, for future reference," Ramsay says.

Ashley Crow gets out a small camera and flashes some shots.

Sthena reads the translation out loud: "Mother inexhaustible and incorruptible, creatures, born the first, engendered by thyself and by thyself conceived, issue of thyself alone and seeking joy within thyself! Oh! Perpetually fertilized, virgin and nurse of all that is, chaste and lascivious, pure and revelling, ineffable, nocturnal, sweet, breather of fire, foam of the sea! Thou who accordest grace in secret, thou who unitest, thou who lovest, thou who seizest with furious desire the multiplied races of savage beasts and couplest the sexes in the wood. Oh, irresistible one! hear me, take me, possess me, oh, Mother-of-All!"

Blake makes an interested sound.  "Fascinating!  That's almost identical to an ancient hymn to Astarte, a goddess of old Earth..."

"Astarte... isn't that the one also known as Ishtar?" Ramsay asks.

A moment after Sthena finishes the invocation, a strange expression of twisted rapture passes over the Sheriff's face and his eyes dilate.  "All-Mother!" he exclaims, bucking in the restraints.  "Yes, yes!  Press me unto thine multitudinous bosom!  Wife of He-Who-Is-Not-To-Be-Named!  Back into your womb I long to crawl!  I am yours, your child, yes, please, take me, consume me, do it now DO IT NOW DO IT NOW DO IT NOW DO IT NOW!"  He thrashes and flails, his muscles suddenly veined.  With near-preternatural strength he bursts free of one leather bond!

Sthena wasn't really 'invoking', to be fair. More like just reading.

Ramsay jumps at the Sheriff, attempting to wrestle his freed limb down.  Sakhr makes to assist, but sees that Ramsay appears to have everything well in hand.

Hadrian lets out a low whistle.

You barely manage to restrain the man, locked in a grapple.

"Doc, can you sedate him or something??!" Ramsay yells.

Hadrian remains leaning against the wall, a bemused expression on his face

Doc Tenebrous hastily fusses with his medical hit, scrambling for a syringe.

Sthena takes a step back. "This certainly has taken a fascinating turn."

Sakhr decides that one crazed Sheriff can't be any worse than Nyarlathotep's mortal play-things, and so steps in to provide assistance to the rest of the crew.

You force the man back down.  He continues to struggle and thrash, but Doc Tenebrous has got a syringe and jabs him in the thigh.  He begins to grow weaker, then lapses into unconsciousness.

"Well, at least we got something out of him," Ramsay grunts.

Judith's hands are pressed to her mouth.

Ashley Crow has her gun out, pointed at the Sheriff.  "I don't like what we was saying," she says.  "Not one bit.  That man is very dangerous.  Very dangerous indeed."

Hadrian chuckles.  "I guess you could say that. Stark crazy, seems to me."

Ramsay turns to address Judith. "It might be wise to strap him down more securely before he wakes up again"

Judith nods faintly, clearly horrified.  She goes to get more restraints.

"Blake, did you get that thing he uttered there, that 'Wife of He-Who-Is-Not-To-Be-Named'? What do you make of this?" Ramsay asks.

"Hard to say.  The title is used by a variety of cults for various deities.  Sometimes Hastur himself is known as He-Who-Is-Not-To-Be-Named.  The King in Yellow has had many dalliances, though, with gods and Old Ones alike.  He might have been speaking of one of them, or perhaps one of Cthulhu's mates."

Sthena attempts to reassure Judith. "His state is actually quite good given his situation. You should consider it extremely encouraging that he is capable of forming coherent sentences at all." That's reassurance Sthena-style.

"Either way, we must entertain the idea that our quarry is not entirely mortal," Sakhr says.

Judith nods, still shaken, but says nothing.

"Well, it does appear we have far worse on our hands than mere rustlers," Ramsay concludes.

The dusty lassitude of Menhir is suddenly broken by the distinctive crackling roar of metaplasma weaponry being discharged!  It sounds like it came from a street or two over!

Sthena continues with her 'reassurance.' "Indeed, the very fact that me merely carved runes into himself instead of cutting himself open and removing his own entrails in a..." Fortunately, the noise cuts her off.

Ramsay startles, snapping the shotgun slung over his back to his hands.  "Throd! We better take a look."

Judith drops the phial of medicine she was carrying.  Glass shatters everywhere.

Sakhr sighs heavily.  "This is just getting better and better."

Sthena charges up her lightning gun, back in its standard firing mode. She tries to peer out a window.

Ramsay hurries to the exit, looking out through the door whilst staying in cover.

Hadrian instinctively brings his Suwei 5S MPR up at the noise

You spot some smoke and metaplasma-distorted air coming from Henge Street, where the Town Hall, bank, and jail are located.

Hadrian balances his rifle on a window sill, flicks his thermal sight on, and peers down the scope .
You can a thin band of the adjacent street through an alleyway between buildings.  A body is lying in front of the bank, glowing white-hot in the thermal sight from the metaplasma burn that killed it.  The door to the bank is ajar.

Hadrian holds up one finger and subsequently flattens his hand horizontally.

Ashley Crow nods.  Her metaplasma carbine is out.

"Listen up! We'll investigate. Approach carefully, stay off the street," Ramsay orders.

Blake and Doc Tenebrous draw their weapons.

Sakhr doesn't use guns, so he hangs back, allowing the fine shots with the boomsticks to take point.

Hadrian moves out with Ashley, keeping his firing arcs clear.

Sthena follows behind Ramsay, making sure to stay in cover, hidden, and such.

Ramsay moves out, running from cover to cover.

You approach through the alleys.  A man lies in the street outside the bank stone dead, a large hole blasted cleanly through his chest.  Smoke rises from the gaping wound.  You spot a badge on the man's shirt - he must have been the deputy Sheriff.  You hear screams and shouts from inside the bank.

Hadrian flattens himself against the building to one side of the door, rifle poised.

"Throd," Ramsay curses.  "Looks like a bank robbery in action."

Hadrian, as you move towards the door you spot a hoverwagon parked out behind the bank.

"Vehicle to the rear," Ramsay says quietly.

Sthena nods. "Not particularly our concern. Perhaps we should make our exit before we are detected."

"We are newcomers to town and already disliked for being... subbies. This might get pinned on us if we just out and disappear now," Ramsay responds.

Sthena raises an eyebrow. "This might get pinned on us if we go into the bank shooting, as well. A difficult situation."

Mayor Crofton comes running out of the Town Hall and sees the corpse.  "N'gha h'geb!  Damn brigands must've heard Burke was out o' commission, knew that the only thing standin' 'tween them and riches was poor Deputy McGraw!"

Sthena isn't so sure about that 'not detected' bit with the Mayor over there yelling.

Ramsay approaches the Mayor.  "Mayor Crofton! We heard gunshots."

Doc Tenebrous kneels by the man, making sure there's nothing to be done.

"I'm so glad you lot are here!" Mayor Crofton exclaims.  "Might be the rustlers have turned to bank-robbing, too!"

"As you know, we are hired hands," Ramsay says.  "We work for money.  We could take on another job here, if the price is good.."

"Gods... of course, we'll pay you a fair fee, just stop these men!"

Ramsay nods and rushes back to the group.

Meanwhile, Hadrian creeps around the side of the building, rifle up.

You see a grizzled man in the front seat of the hoverwagon.  When he sees you he fumbles for a weapon.

Hadrian snaps to his target and takes the shot, letting off a burst of rifle fire.

Your spray of bullets take the man across the chest and neck.  Blood spatters everywhere as he slumps backwards in his seat, a pistol dangling from his fingers.

Everyone else hears the chittering roar of gunfire round the back of the bank.

"Hum. Someone started without us, it seems," Sakhr says.

Sthena cautiously skulks around to the back of the bank.

"Contact Gideon," Ramsay instructs Doc Tenebrous.  "We just found a way to increase our profits!"

"Profits are good," Sakhr notes.  "Gideon's whiskey is not cheap."

Doc Tenebrous radios Gideon.

You catch a snatch of Gideon's response: "Just kill the throdding nyth-shoggs!"

"Aye, captain! Don't need to tell us twice," Ramsay exclaims with a satisfied grin.  "You heard him. Let's take care of these bandits!"

Hadrian approaches the vehicle in a hunched over run.

Ramsay motions for the groups to approach and surround the bank.

"You do realize, Ramsay that 'kill the throdders' is a very common response from the Captain," Sakhr says.

Hadrian notices Sthena's approach.  "One. Get-away driver. He's down."  Hadrian spits.  "Fucking scum. Pirates piss me off."  He looks towards Sthena.  "Come on. Back around front."

Ashley Crow takes up a position by the door, carbine ready.  Doc Tenebrous and Father Blake keep their pistols trained on the door from the alleyway.

Ramsay leans on the bank's wall next to the door, takes a deep breath, then spins round and kicks the door open.

Three men with black cloths over their mouths hold up the cashier and a customer inside the bank.  The main room consists of a large wood-floored brick chamber with a barred grill behind which a bulky computer console can be seen; further back, through an open door, you can glimpse a large steel vault.  The cashier is behind the bars, currently shovelling cash and jewellery from a small lockbox into a bag.  Two of the robbers point their weapons at the cashier and at the hostage, a man with an impressive moustache and a look of terror in his eyes.  The third thief is carrying a heavy bag in one hand and a pistol in the other.

Ramsay dashes in through the opened door, shotgun at the ready.  He aims at the third thief and lets his shotgun sing.

You blow the man's head clean off his shoulders, splattering everyone nearby with blood.  The other bandits are momentarily dazed as bits of brain and skull rain down on them.  The hostage screams.

Ashley Crow heads in after Ramsay, firing as she goes.

Ashley's shot takes a second brigand right between the eyes.

Hadrian hustles back to the front of the bank.

Sthena is a bit surprised to find no back door. She shrugs a little at the inefficiency of these robbers' plan, but nods and, after one last check to make sure nobody's still alive back here, proceeds back around the other side.

The third and final robber frantically fires his weapon at Ramsay.  Clearly rattled by your attack, his shot barely grazes your arm.

Ramsay grunts from pain as the bullet grazes him, but grits his teeth and dashes for cover behind some furniture.

The robber swears and makes a dash for the door.

Ashley fires after him but her shot only clips his side.

Ramsay makes for the nearest window hoping to get a line of sight to the fleeing bandit.

Sthena is making her way around the side of the bank.

Sthena, you see a man run out of the bank with a pistol in hand.

Sthena takes aim and discharges her lightning gun.

With a sound like a thunderclap your weapon fires, and then man falls to the ground, convulsing as electricity courses through him.

Sthena didn't really hit him. She hit a flagpole next to him, but fortunately, it arced over. She needs to work on her aim, but hey, whatever works.
Ramsay watches with glee as the robber falls. Seeing that one taken care of, he goes to investigate the bank.

The hostages are alive, if a little dazed (and covered in blood).

"You all right? Did they kill or wound anyone in here?" Ramsay asks.

"I'm fine," the cashier says.  "Just a little rattled.  Thank Nodens you got here."

"Stay inside for now," Ramsay instructs.  "The bank should be the safest place. If there're more robbers left they're probably fleeing as we speak."

Hadrian steps over and shoots the electrocuted thief for good measure.

Your shots riddle the thief.  Blood pools beneath him.

Hadrian lowers his rifle and calls out.  "All clear."

Sthena notes how easy it was to shoot a man who was crawling along the ground. Well, she did have to make the shot easy for him. That's what you have to do when you're the only competent team member.

Pages: [1] 2
Jump to: