Ring of Tyrants

Meeting Captain Luske

2 April 2011 Recap

The party had been contracted by Imperial Outreach Project (an exploration and survey company) as part of the team to find a new planet for colonization. The minor noble family House Sarkana is seeking to reestablish themselves in a new sector due to oppression from the mighty House Kalmarr to whom they owe fealty and it is Sarkana who hired Imperial Outreach Project, or IOP.

House Kalmarr sees the Sarkana as barely qualifying for noble status and this has put definite limits on Sarkana’s ambitions. Kalmarr does not seem overly concerned at this diaspora and has even helped partially fund the venture.

The party has arrived on as close to a free trade station as is allowed in Kalmarr space where they are awaiting the arrival of Calypso, a ship chartered by IOP to take the party into the nearby sector. While waiting, Rylios received an email from an old acquaintance named Captain Reeman Luske. The email was erratic, poorly punctuated, and hard to follow – very unlike the character of the normally very military and proper Captain. Rylios, Rolf, and Consuela set out to the poor section of the station where Luske indicated he lived.

A well-armed merc guarded the shoebox sized apartment and Luske looked wild, unkempt, and lived in squalor while he gibbered and appeared frightened. Luske asked the party to recover an idol from his ship that he had set adrift and escaped from a few years ago but he would not (or could not) give specific information due to his mental state. Somebody named The Countess desired the idol and Luske was frightened of her and had hired security to guard himself. Luske seemed convinced if he gave the idol over to her all his problems and nightmares would disappear.

The party agreed to recover the idol as Luske promised to turn over his bank accounts and real estate in return claiming he would have no need of such possessions in the near future.

The party was briefly harassed by Kalmarr Secret Police before they departed to the nearby gas giant where Luske’s military transport Hound was orbiting. The ship showed signs of damage and as the shuttle approached, the ship’s running lights began to activate but the computer system could not be remotely contacted.

The airlock was very dirty with mud, discarded shells, and other such trash. The party inferred the ship must have made planet fall and there was significant movement in and out of the ship. Upon entering the main hallway they found the internal lights were malfunctioning and there were oily slicks, ripped clothing and human bones strewn across the floor. The door leading to the fore of the ship had been partially pried open with tools and there were fingernails and blood on it as well. The party easily found the manual override and opened the door. Whoever had tried to open it prior must have been in a panic or had no knowledge of modern star ships, the party decided.

While exploring the area the party found a path, as if something had been habitually drug on the ground, between two doors. Consuela used clairvoyance to see inside the room which had been overgrown by mushrooms (some bio-luminescent) with a small area cleared away with several pots, ladles, and upside down helmets. The party entered and soon a strangely mutated human with blind eyes emerged from filthy blankets; it spoke a strange chittering clicking language and prepared bowls of mushroom gruel for the characters it heard and pushed helmets full of the food towards the characters before returning to its bed. The uniform it wore identified it as Petty Officer Jensen.

Confused and a little unnerved the party exited and soon entered the officer’s meeting room. A great mass of papers had been compiled here and set ablaze but the fire suppressant system had activated and covered the room in foam. The party searched but they could only find ruined pulp and nothing readable. Rolf did manage to pull up some records from the computer (he concluded an EMP weapon had severely damaged most of the computer) and found evidence that Petty Officer Jensen had been part of the crew manifest. He also recovered partial coordinates of where Hound had been and the location was well distant from Kalmarr controlled space or any of their many enemies’ territory.

Next they came to the Captain’s room which had been altered to mirror the Captain’s room back on the station. This mirroring was very rough and imperfect though. Instead of actual books, rectangular objects had been setup on the shelf with titles written on them in permanent marker. All the cans of mushrooms that covered the floor on the station were reproduced here mostly by cut sections of round metal tubing and so forth. Consuela used post-cognition and could feel the same sense of confusion and terror Luske had exuded in his room. She also received a vision of the mutated Petty Officer Jensen entering the room and writing a note eerily similar to part of the conversation the party had with Luske.

Entering the bridge the party found a black idol made of shiny stone or metal sitting in the captain’s chair. Rylios touched it and immediately experienced a bizarre sensation of life flashing before his eyes going back to his meeting with Luske on the station; at the end of this vision/hallucination he saw an identical idol made of white material in his mind’s eye.

Rolf worked on the computers here which were in much better shape than others on the vessel. He played part of an audio record wherein Captain Luske, sounding confident and clear-headed, spoke of locking the door to the rest of the ship after moving the other idol as far away from the black one as possible. He lapsed into the same chittering clicking speech as Jensen used in mid-sentence before returning to speech the party understood. Luske spoke of leaving the ship and escaping.

Rolf also found evidence of a course having been plotted to the same sector where IOP was sending the characters. The session ended with the party looking out through the view port to see the sickly green gas giant glowing in the distance.

Further exploration of HMS Hound

After leaving the bridge of Hound, the party explored more of the fore section of the ship. A storeroom off the kitchen had been barricaded and the party found the remains of three humans who had starved to death inside. A partially eaten journal was found on one body and the party gleaned these three had been locked away because they were not “changing” with the rest of the crew.

The party also ran across some maps and logistics files in an officer’s room detailing plans a raid against a small village on an unknown planet using a large military force. The transport ship the party is on could only have held a fraction of the assault force. Dates on the files are three years old but the party was unsure whether this was a plan or the raid had already occurred; nonetheless the party took all the paperwork and rolled up the maps for future perusal.

The officer’s lounge was also explored (it was very hot and humid and smelled horrific) and was filled with fleshy man-sized cocoons. Bastardized cabling and machinery had been jury-rigged and ran from panels in the wall into the cocoons. The party cut one open to find a person in stages of partial mutation (similar to but not as severe as Petty Officer Jensen) who was breathing rapidly. The cables were cut on one body that immediately went into violent convulsions before finally frothing at the mouth and dying. The party decided to leave the others unmolested.

Moving into the rear sections of the ship the party came to a large open staging area with arcane symbols carved and painted in the floor with five crew members chanting in the odd dialect they heard from Jensen. The crew’s uniforms were painted in garish colors and their bodies were mutilated and tattooed. One spoke in a barking aggressive manner and the party showed the black idol to the group. Four crew dropped to a knee as if in prayer but the leader became enraged and seemingly ordered the others to attack.

One enemy was set afire with psionics and expired shortly afterwards but the rest closed to melee after suffering some minor wounds from ranged fire. They attacked furiously with knives covered with talismans and wielded their weapons with considerable skill inflicting moderate wounds to Rylios, Khan, and Rolf in the ensuing battle before finally being killed. The enemy never once showed interest in retreating or preserving their own lives when the battle turned against them and fought to the bitter end.

Things came to an end with the party deciding they needed to withdraw to a safer area to administer first aid!

Finding the second idol

The party went back to the shuttle to perform some first aid and cleaned up the worst of their wounds. Continuing through the rear of the transport they ran across a barracks room that would house around 40 soldiers but was the location of a battle and the room was destroyed and littered with bodies. Off the barracks was the main armory where the party acquired a rifle, some grenades, a set of manacles, and a satchel of plastic explosives.

On the opposite side of the ship, another barracks was found with the entrance covered in runes and talismans and all of the bunks moved to create a barricade. The party made their way inside to the back where they heard singing and saw some light. There they found the first human survivor on the ship who was malnourished, a little nuts, but otherwise in remarkably good shape.

After some talking he was reassured and introduced himself as Sergeant Simmons, a commando unit leader of Operation Hydra. The operation came into being when the Kurgan Barbarians began abducting citizens in large numbers and they were finally tracked to a very distant world where the people were all being sacrificed by a cult Simmons called Elhadites. The fleet reached the world and attacked the massive temple complex and suffered huge casualties from the psionic cultists but managed to eliminate the threat. Simmons had engaged in melee with a high priest and went unconscious when the priest grabbed his head. Later he woke up on back on the ship with the priest’s voice in his head constantly saying the attack was a mistake and that undoing the damage was of paramount importance. Many of the surviving crew had already begun to mutate by the time Simmons awoke and, following the priest’s advice, he barricaded himself in a room with talismans and runes to prevent entry by the mutated crew.

Simmons was terrified of the what the crew had changed into but it was difficult to determine if these mutated crew were the same cult or a different one. Simmons agreed to stay put until the party killed off the cultists so he could leave.

The party agreed and soon found the weapons and defense control room. Rylios managed to run a debug program and downloaded the battle records. In the records, it appeared that the fleet had battled itself but many of the ship IDs were identical but the computer insisted the data was accurate.

At the back of the ship the party found the engineering control room which had been jury-rigged quite ingeniously and there was a woman in robes sitting at the control station who greeted the party and introduced herself as the High Priestess. She was surprised Luske had not come himself and annoying answered the party’s questions with philosophical half-answers. Khan and Consuela went into the main engineering room where they found a large human in a work suit who began walking towards them. Once this brute was about ten feet away he began charging and Simmons also came charging into the room screaming and blasting away with his rifle.

Khan and the Brute began fighting hand-to-hand while the rest of the party was unsure as to what the real threat was (Simmons was charging the priestess). Consuela tried to contact the priestess’ mind with empathy but suffered a psionic shock in backlash and about that time the priestess began controlling Simmons who turned his fire onto the party. Rolf took a shot at the sergeant who was unarmored and physically weak and scored a nasty hit. The priestess dropped the illusion of being human and revealed herself as a giant snake and coiled around Simmons and began striking at the party with her massive scaly head.

The party was loathe to shoot at her since she was now holding a hostage (Rolf realized he should not have shot at Simmons) but using some carefully placed rounds managed to score hits on the priestess snake. Simmons began to regain control of himself and the priestess began to constrict him. Khan rushed forward at the party’s suggestion to remove the now mortally wounded Simmons and the huge Weren did so. Rylios shot the Brute who collapsed and Consuela blasted the priestess at point blank range and killed her.

The party noticed a shiny glint coming from one of the priestess’ many gaping wounds and found the white idol inside. Rylios took it and had another vision of Luske in his apartment being torn apart by gunfire, suffering wounds in the same places the priestess had been struck. They also found a book wrapped in plastic inside the priestess but could not make much sense of it.

The party left the ship whose orbit began to decay without the constant calibrations to keep the damaged ship working. Simmons was stabilized and the party returned to the station. Khan tried to hide the idols with a booby-trap but failed and blew up one of the idols, damaged the shuttle, and burned himself in the process.

On the station they discovered two assassins had poisoned the entire deck where Luske lived and killed dozens. When medical crews arrived, the assassins killed them and were systematically going from room to room shooting any survivors. Security forces arrived but the assassins took their own lives after killing fifteen of the guards. All of Luske’s mercs were killed as well.

The party recovered the key in Luske’s room and found bank cards going to three accounts (under different names) with a balance of 20,000 credits, real estate on a planet, and stock certificates that turned out to be a code the party deciphered with the code book they took off the priestess. Apparently Luske had been in contact with an archaeologist trying to get information on the idols. The doctor in question is actually one of the experts who is en route on the Calypso. The party sold the swag they found and prepared for the ship’s arrival.


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