Thousand Dying Suns

More on the cave of Wonders
Carter's Vlog

Still not much to say. We headed back to Diamond Lake to meet up with Alistair and a bit of R&R. We discovered the new portal lead to the tomb of Icosal during our conversation. I was also able to make him a very happy scholar by sharing my recording of Thorne reading the ritual plaque – khiron was able to bodge together an interface between my PDA and his ‘betamax’ thing. The end result was some sort of archaic reel-to-reel recording on magnetic tape. Which means regardless it won’t last overly long so I’m not worried to much about it getting lost and falling into the wrong hands.

The next day we returned to the Whispering Cavern. Thorne proceeded to teleport away the cave in around the new portal so we could hop in and give it a go. This triggered a series of unfortunate events; everyone else was attacked while portaling by some sort of interdimensional foozle (it couldn’t smell me as I was not bothered during the transit). Worse, there were…. .sentient air beasts on the other side of the portal who wanted to see the fire inside the mud people (us). As you can imagine, fire extraction is not exactly a peaceful process.

Much confusion, chaos and conflict ensued – resulting in us driving off or destroying the beasties. Now on to the next thing….

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Mad Max and The Cave of Wonders
Carter's Vlog

This will be a quick update as I stand in a cavern, amazed at what the current ‘civilization’ has obviously lost.

Bayonetta landed her black helicopter at Fort Lloyd after the bombing of Klono, murdered the crew, and then wandered into a bunker. That’s where things stand with that thanks to Venture’s surveillance.

We decided to drive overland to Fort Lloyd from Yellowtail. Naturally broke down, hacked a fix, then continued on until we met Khabri at a crossroad. He pointed out we were nuts. At his suggestion we diverted to Diamond Lake city as he had seen to blue jade before. In fact, he was the one who found the artifact initially.

• From the second epoch, the Anhoren civilization, who called it scry stone.

He took us to town for a night of debauchery, and then to the Whispering Cave Mine. The mine is from a Third Epoch civilization called the Gnair.

Lots of funky graffiti. Eventually found an odd cave with a stand and the shard remnants of a mirror which was evidently a portal. Still need to figure out how to unify thorns perceptions with ‘mainline’ physics which is apparently how this all worked. No inspiration yet.

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Getting exploded is not fun
Carter's Vlog

Here we are, poking our noses into the random underbelly of the underworld of this Empire of Man.

We’ve been following the shipments of the ‘Blue Jade’ found by Marga Treva, which has lead to a continuous series of increasing escapades.

In short I’ve

  • Done a bit of B&E at a warehouse to find data on the Blue Jade shippers
  • * Sister Magyar is who signed off on the shipment manifest.
  • Got exploded when tailing Thornetta when she was interrogating an working for info.
    • A merc squad lead by an enhanced woman interrupted Thorne. Their goal was to cover the tracks of the blue jade shipment.
  • made it out to Kolono, and from there Dogitch only to find out the mine was destroyed by black helicopters, lead by the enhanced woman.

Which leads us to now – driving across this mega desert in ‘Utes’ (Land Rangers really) headed to Fort Loyd where she was headed next.

I’m not certain what we hope to accomplish but it certainly will be exciting!

Perhaps as part of this we can Rescue the Fair Maiden Archeologist from the Clutches of the Evil Corporations! Excitement! Thrills! Pow! Crash!

We’re staring in our own pulp novel.

Our fundamental problem is we are a good three steps behind whomever is responsible for all of this – and we have no idea what their goals are (other than covering the tracks to the meta-material)

I hope we find Ms. Treva and I hope we understand who and what we are meddling with soon.

I could really go for a spot of tea.

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Psionic Blue Shit and Cyberpunk street brawls
KindleNomicon Audio+Text entry - Thorne

So, fuck… so It’s been a long while since we felt this close to death. A certain arrogance comes from believing oneself is on “the correct path.” It’s a thing we’ve always envied in the religious. It feels very uncomfortable to recognize it in ourselves. It took staring our death in the face, in the form of a terrifying cyborg samurai woman, to realize that just because we feel buoyed by the “will” of the multiverse doesn’t mean we can’t be casually murdered. Free will behind guns and swords is a bitch.

So we’ve found out that the blue glowy stone that Marva “discovered” has exciting properties. After carter handled it, it “phased” through a table. Luckily not through the hull of the venture. We hypothesize that it took on some of his properties? It also serves to enhance Khiron’s psionics. It doesn’t do fuck-all for us, but we suppose that’s fair. Not everything is magic. We slightly understand how Carter feels when we accomplish these amazing things with magic and they don’t even register for him. After all these discoveries it is casually mentioned that they saw a whole sarcophagus(!) of the stuff waiting to be loaded into a train, guarded by scary church knights. This while everyone is hemming and hawing over what to do next, which didn’t include the sarcophagus. Fuck, lets do that then?!

So, we found a burly fellow who worked at the station, Gwolp, and applied the sort of pressure we’re best at. We didn’t need to take things as far as we did with him. There was no reason to share with him the full range of our talents, but once we get going, the tendency is to take things as far as they’ll go, and he was a much better partner than we might have guessed. A very open minded fellow, with stamina and self-control. He was in a daze after, very pliant and open to suggestion, but we feared he might protest a bit too much when we made our inevitable exit. Sadly, we never got the chance to find out.

sharp intake of breath and a pause

Gwolp led us to the office where the shipping manifests were filed and just as we were making a copy, some stealthy villain turned his fucking head into a meat canoe with a very non-Valis future gun. We ran, diving behind the copier and then worm-holing through the wall. We didn’t have time to close it after we’d passed through and a monstous woman followed – about 7 feet tall and gaunt, with scary tech hanging off her and a cyberpunk trench coat. So we fought back, lashing out with the considerable force of our mental strength. She was unphased and she actually fucking shot us! More than once. It’s been a long time since that happened.

Our psychic assault having failed, we opted for one of the classics. Fire! More fire than we’ve ever created. It blotted out the alley and the tram-way overhead, it nearly blinded us with it’s brilliance. But somehow, the amazing cyber-cunt dodged it; dodged an entire alley full of fucking magical fire. Fuck. Unfortunately, the explosives her crew had placed inside the office nearby did not have her movie-ninja knack for impossible acrobatics, so they promptly blew the fuck up.

Say what you will about the Thorne siblings, we know when we’re beaten. So we teleported the fuck away from that madness, back to the hotel room and our waiting companions. Everyone except Carter, who had been attempting to rescue us when the building blew up. We hate to admit it, but we’re starting to like him a bit. He’s pretty good at this captain thing (although, we’ll certainly take the credit for causing that to happen) and he didn’t have to come after us. For future, we shall have to be a bit more particular about the contingency plan, although who knew they would be trying to blow up the building we were trying to steal records from? Happy news though, he didn’t die! All the bitch-thugs did, though, so that’s something. We patched him up, and ourselves, and that was the end of a shit day.

Oh, did we mention? The original manifest and our copy were blown up in the fire. However, we did get a good look at it beforehand and we discovered that the blue shit came from a place called Kolono and was being shipped to Port Horwald. Oh, and it was being guarded by knights from the church.

So we sort of ran out both ends. We started with Port Horwald because it was closer, but we didn’t find a lot out. Only that the file that should have listed who had taken posession of the goods was missing, the whole day was, in fact. A So we elected to try the point of Origin, Kolono. It turned out that Kolono wasn’t exactly a tourist destination. A fact made evident by its absence on any of our maps. We eventually located a cartography enthusiast who knew of it, and pointed us in the direction of a place called “Dog Itch.” So we set out. On the way, more and more folk got off the train until we were essentially the only passengers. The conductor questioned our destination, suggesting that we were ill equipped for dog itch and it’s surrounding desert. We needed water recycling suits and the like. So we made the decision to travel on to Yellowtail. The nearest city with an economy robust enough to actually exchange goods and services for currency. On the way there, we noticed a vast explosion in the distance. Venture confirmed the site of the explosion as the mine at Kolono. Fuck.

So, what do we have? A shipment of psionically active blue shit being hauled out of the earth at Kolono. The only reason we’re aware of it at all is because Marva, who is missing, found a chunk of it herself and then we happened to see some of it at the station. Then it was shipped across the planet to the spaceport and all points of record along the way are destroyed or removed. Oh, and the church is involved. So, this is a cover-up, and it’s big and important and we need to figure it out and take it away from the church before they use it for something nefarious.

The black helicopter headed to a place called Fort Loyd. So it seems like that’s where we’re going next.

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Ka-Boom!
Olis recordings; these cleaners take pride in their work

Carter and Arden reports that the blue jade appears to take on properties of whoever is touching it. As a result, it was able to ghost like Carter. Later when they come back from Venture, Khiron tries to use the blue jade. I had no idea he had powers! He’s able to move the blue jade with his mind! He’s also able to make mental links, similar to Thorne. He also reveals that normally he has to touch the person to form the link but the blue jade can act on his stead. He calls it a psionic amplifier but I have no idea what that means.

A week has passed and no sign of Marva. What to do next? Thorne goes to track the shipment I saw on the platform. Carter decides to tail Throne. Probably a good idea since he has a way of attracting trouble.

Well, I guess there was trouble. We hear an explosion in the distance and Thorne suddenly appears in our midst, all smoldering, in the literal sense. He’s slightly panicked and babbles about cyborg ninja bayonets. What? Get a grip on yourself, man… or, uh, woman since Thorne is distinctly feminine at this point. We get the short version which is s/he managed to seduce a platform worker into showing s/him the records and found that the blue jade came from Kolono. However, the worker was killed by an assassin. Thorne tried to retaliate with mind control only to find the assassin immune to it. S/he then tried his blast power, which is also nimbly dodged but leads to a massive explosion. S/he’s also been shot in the firefight. S/he managed to portal her way back to us. Uh… so where’s Carter? That’s when we get the call from Carter. He is severely injured and requiring assistance. Khiron and I go fetch him. He is not a pretty sight. I manage to bandage him up a little, which gets him on his feet. Aware that there could be eyes on us, we bring him back to the hotel.

Carter and Thorne require rest. The next night a much healed Carter scouts the local warehouse where the blue jade was stored. There is no evidence of such a shipment. To be accurate, there is a chunk of information that is missing. Someone has been busy cleaning up.

We decide to check Kolono. It’s not listed on the railway map. We are introduced to Digby who really likes trains and everything about them. He finds out that Kolono is a mining site way out there, and the closest railway town is Diggage, which is in the middle of the desert.

We take the train to Diggage. The conductor asks a lot of questions. We pretend to be prospectors but it’s clear that we have no training and no equipment. The desert is apparently a lot harsher than we thought. I’m going to have to ask Venture about these places I’ve never experienced. Anyway, we’re on the train when we notice a giant smoke column rising in the distance. Carter asks Venture for information. There has been a giant explosion and Kolono has been destroyed. These people are really trying hard to remove all traces of the blue jade. Venture detects a black helikopter (it’s a flying vehicle) flying away from the explosion, heading towards the direction of Fort Loid.

I feel we are always a step or two behind these cleaners. Our current plan is to disembark at Diggage and rent/hire utes and drive overland to Fort Loid. It’s the best we can do.
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Blue Jade
Olis recordings; where is Marva Tregga?

The others speculate that the Gargoyle was probably created by the ancients who also created the gate system that allows travel between the stars. They were called the Wyyfendovi.
As we get up close to the Gargoyle, several things happen. Thorne fades from view. Gabriel is in ecstatic convulsions. We keep him comfortable. Arden gets a gleam in his eye and touches the artifact. He falls over unconscious. Carter and Khiron appears to have visions, as they look dumbstruck with glazed eyes. Suddenly I am overwhelmed by my own vision.

It is the dark of space. There is a dark spaceship. It does not look like the Venture or Crucifix or any other ship we have come across. It looks more like a rock, what Carter calls an asteroid. There is a chamber inside. There are many gate keys. One in particular catches my attention. It is the central key, ancient, with patina and tarnish. The key leads to somewhere important. I cannot hold onto the vision. I am falling away from it. The last bit I get is the ship’s name, Scion.

We gather ourselves and head back to Marfos, the capital city. We contact Gromes and are told the Inquisitors came around asking about us. Time to move (damn Gabriel). Marfos is a canyon town, built along the sides of the cliff face. The higher you go, the better the view, and obviously costlier. Nobles always want to look down upon you. When our train rolls into the station, I notice something a little odd. There are stacks of coffins on the platform, except, they are also guarded. Why would dead bodies need guards?

We decide to track down the geologist Marva Tregga. We visit her office at Kastamir Associates. We learn that she came back a week ago, spoke with the senior partner, and left in a hurry. Arden and Carter turn on the charm and the man mentions that her office is not locked. Hmm… In Marva’s office, Carter finds a mislabeled blue jade stone. Would she really have made such a mistake. It’s a clue so Carter pockets the stone. We find nothing else so we leave.

I get a sense that we are being watched, and sure enough there is a watcher. Arden uses his timey wimey powers to observe. The watcher is Grey Squirrel and he calls someone named Big Daddy. We decide to split up to get rid of the watcher and the trackers he called in. I manage to give them the slip after pretending to shop in the market area, then bolting away.

I meet up with the rest of the group and head to Marva’s domicile. Turns out it’s also being watched. What has this girl gotten herself into? Carter scouts by doing his ghost thing, and Arden and I slip in from the back door. The place looks tossed. We leave a message for her, just in case she returns, for a secure meeting location, her favorite food place.

We do some more digging around. Ralston K was mentioned before. It’s where she shipped equipment before. At first the shipper knows nothing about it but it turns out that it’s a secure site for Vrestag Industrial. It’s unlikely that Marva headed back there.

We decide to split up. Arden and Carter head up to the Venture. Carter needs Venture to analyze the blue jade. He also really wants to go into mercantile trade. He’s going to have Venture make things to sell. Meanwhile Khiron is gathering up local salvage and busy repairing things. I get sentry duty as I watch the food place for any sign of Marva. Good thing I have a partner I can talk to at any time. “So Venture, tell me more about your security protocols. What kind of external threat assessment do you do when you first encounter another spaceship? Internally, what do you do when a ‘guest’ arrives?”
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We stick out too much
Olis recording; miners, explosions, conspiracies, and super-golems

We head into spaceport town to explore. Immediately, and I mean immediately there is trouble. Thorne informs us that a Knight of St Hrond (heavily armed and armored) is tainted by the Unlife. And of course we are accosted by one Knight Maug (secret? Champion of Unlife?). How did he know? Sure, we look strange but no stranger than others. I have my suspicions. If Thorne can see them, they can see back. I will ask Thorne this. We manage to talk our way out of this, but we are clearly in their sights. The handgun and knife feel so small compared to the heavy plasma rifle and greataxe.

We come upon a gathering of people. They are complaining about House Arcturi and the rumor that we heard about the House betraying the miners. Suddenly, an explosion rips the place apart. The building is heavily damaged. We move to help. Of course, Gabriel calls upon powers beyond. I shake my head as yet again what we do attracts attention. He glows with the holy power and people notice. Meanwhile Thorne uses his surgeon’s skills to help the victims. It is utter chaos. I try to impose some amount of control over the situation and have some minor success. Arden informs us that he has peered into the past and found the bomber. Only, there were two attempts. The first, hidden attempt was the real bomb. The second, clumsy, identifiable attempt was meant to point the finger at the miners. Later, Gromes has secured us lodging. We decide to anonymously inform the Miner’s Union about the set up and real culprit.

We travel from the spaceport to Moorpoint, the seat of power for the Archbishop of this planet. There are many “tourists” as Arden calls them but I think many are pilgrims. They come to see what we have come to see, The Gargoyle. I had no idea it would be that big. It is, in essence, as tall as a small mountain at a thousand feet tall. Then the others tell me it is not a statue but an artifact. It is or was at one point a golem. I, I don’t even…
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Oh Look. They have a Voltron.
Carters vlog

We successfully made planet fall on the planet Bureaucratopolis where the System Baron and his lackeys Lackey about. Also there is a chapter of the Church militant – whom we ran into before we even left the space port. They adhere to galactic standard grumpy traffic cop demeanor. It is good to know that some things are universal. We managed to avoid fleeing from the gaze of their Authority as we presented our papers ( literal paper! Nary a biometric to be found! What an odd bunch of neoBarbs these are ).

Anyway. Knight Chaplain Maug evidently found us suspicious and felt the need for a once over. We made it through that gauntlet without incident, but I am concerned how he zeroed in on us from the get go.

We did the tourist thing for a bit whence we came upon a Miners Union todo where they were protesting Arcturi for their role in worker exploitation. It seemed a rather festive affair until a bomb went off. Much harried running about and scanning for follow on attacks ( I guess I’ve seen to many terrorist affairs in my day as my first impulse was to look for the follow on attack against the first responders ) as the group pitched in to help. We managed to discover the entire thing was a set-up, with the bomber very obviously trying to make a show of being an anarchist. Straight out of the Propo handbook. The more things change I suppose.

Venture was able to pick out the site of some planetary com nodes that were active during the bombing. After dealing with the locals’ idea of analog encryption she was able to pin down military traffic, Church traffic and the tail end of something from the Eminence saying they should follow up about us. I suspect further visits from Maug and his cohort.

Eventually we made it to Moorepoint, the seat of the Church ( a huge tourist location ) and “the gargoyle” which is clearly some sort of powered down, radiation absorbing Apocalypse Voltron.

Right.

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Initial exploration of Caliban system.
What do you mean it's all bloody analog?!

This is the first official vlog of acting Captain Carter Hamilton-Smythe of the Venture.

We’ve made it to the Caliban system by hitch-hiking and propelling on the mega-derelict. Douglas Adams would be proud. One of the first things we did was to sort out a crew manifest of temporary assignments. The ship recognized this expediency until we could once again come under the Command Authority of the Admiralty. Thus, me as acting captain. These are tremendous shoes to fill and I will do my upmost to serve The Vessel and to represent The Dominions to the best of my ability.

We have hired a local guide named Gromes. His new salary is evidently 1000 solarian credits per month. An intriguing tidbit in of itself. This leads me to wonder, is this an alternate Empire of Man? Where is Terra? Is this the far future of what we were building? Or some sort of twisted disaster produced by the infinite mutability of the multiverse? Either way, the entire situation exudes absurdity.

On his advice we are masquerading as explorers from the Second Republic. Evidently it is not unheard of for entire clusters of lost stars to reappear now and then.

It turns out that Caliban is ruled by a combination of aristocratic satrapies and medieval style guilds who create monopolies around certain techs. Evidently they’ve lost democratic institutions here. In any event, we will endeavor to join the ‘Spacefarer’s guild’ as soon as reasonable.

As such we made for the System Capitol where we set up a line of credit were we could purchase innumerable permits, licenses, and tax fees for everything under the sun (confirming this is a human system at the very least).

We did find out that while the natives were shocked by our method of travel via Einstein-Rosenburg bridge, the authorities rapidly lost interest when they discovered Venture is not ‘jump gate’ capable.

Amusingly, the natives use a very similar method of FTL jump travel as the Venture, but their analog (!) computers simply aren’t capable of performing the required calculations. This opens up an opportunity. The native system economy seems to revolve around resource extraction (animal protein and minerals) as well as relic mining. So it is quite possible that we could hop to a nearby system and set up auto miners to produce alloys or minerals they find rare here in order to pay off of debt to the Guild and bureaucrats.

Long term we need to figure out how to make Venture gate capable (which should hopefully require only modifications. We need to do some analysis of how their keys and gates communicate, and then how the physics interact. Perhaps some packet sniffing probes are in order), and then resume fixing the Skip Drive so we can become dimensionally capable.

Outside of that make ourselves useful to the locals and not get so into hawk that the tax assessors or the local church inquisition decide to seize Venture. Reminder to the team; let’s not oversell our competency. As such, skin suits are to be covered by utility overalls when mingling. The FAB and Venture’s AI are to remain on lockdown as much as possible when the locals are about. (this also includes the Food prep area. Let’s start a chef of the week / day rotary. Last thing they need to see are FABbed pho, lamb vindaloo and such things). No need for them to get interesting ideas about the shiny bits. I would hate to have to space Gromes because he decided selling info about Venture was in his best interests.

Memo so self: FAB some pans, spatulas and other miscellany when Gromes is sleeping.

Further note: enquire with our Esotery Officer to see if he can put up ‘this is boring’ fields around certain parts of Venture.

Final note: Train Olis on Security spaces and procedures as well as making certain he has correct access to the security and anti-boarding systems.

I need an even more final notes field. Training for Arden on ship processes and capabilities ASAP.

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Even in space, there are still nobles and peasants
Olis recordings, arriving on Valles

I chat with Venture. She has a lot of information. For example, the sun here is A3V white main sequence star named Caliban. I have no idea what that means. Therein lies the problem. Too much information can cloud a command decision. In addition, what she tells me often does not mean anything to me. It’s like asking a question in Hrondene, and the reply is in Dolmnic. She needs to use words I understand.

The others return from the Conger Reef. Apparently they have hired a local guildsman to guide us. His name is Gromes. I’ve dealt with his type before… greasy.

He gave us a run down on the power structure:
The Baron runs the system and is the local representative for the Empire.
There is the Guild which controls stellar commerce.
There is an Archbishop representing the church.
There are three major Mining Companies (Rockannon, Teledyne, Vrestag). Mining is the lifeblood of this system.
There are some other noble houses.
Then there is everyone else, including the Miner’s Union.

He also gave us a brief history lesson:
4993 First Emperor Contantine Hawkwood
5568 Rain of Fire and closing of Hammadryad
5715 Atrulinos line founded by Dârsax the Fair
6036 Ibanzag line founded by Ubaros the Despot.
6317 current year, current Emperor is Alunos the Black, fourth Ibanzag Emperor

We make contact with the red planet Valles. Under Gromes guidance, we pretend to be Second Republic survivors that are reestablishing contact with the Empire. This gets us through the border. Good. I think we need a gate key of our own if we are to travel the stars. We can’t be hauling that derelict Crucifx everywhere we go. How to get our own key? That is the question.

Some rumors we picked up:
Tensions between the mining companies and the miner’s union is rising.
Kooj piracy continues to plague the shipping lanes.
House Arcturi implicated in Teledyne kickback scandal.
Geologist claims new crystal found but has since disappeared.

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