Party Status: Zarkov, Mola, Jahr, Grimm and Franz have now acquired one-third of the McGuffin – a circular plaque bearing a Tech Priest sigil – and have dealt with the revenant of Gustavus Hekate. Franz is lightly wounded and all others are fine, thanks to Bobby the medispex. Other than the McGuffin they have looted only lightly, deciding to leave items such as cutlery for later.
+++++++++++++++++From the data slate of Quintilla Mola+++++++++++++++++
We now re-establish our “corridor detail” and check the two untested doors in the long corridor, one at the far end and one far right. The latter leads to the last resting place of one Hadria Hekate, an astropath who was apparently murdered by Gustavus. His power-sword still pins her skeleton to her bed. Zarkov pronounces the weapon defunct but speculates that he could repair it. Jahr grins broadly and exclaims gleefully in his barbaric tongue, but Grimm and I caution the Tech Priest to wait until conditions are ideal. Jahr does not yet have the skill to wield such a weapon. Hadria’s diary is found, a last testimony to Gustavus’ growing madness. The diary implies that all the cursed victims we are finding were all crew for a Rogue Trader, Barabus Zanatov, who carried a ‘great secret’. I cross-reference this with the catalog EH#120 that accused the Hekates but draw no great insight. It certainly does not relate to the founding of the Gilded Cathedral, nor its artifact. Hadria also mentions Vorkas and Bellica. No mention of Nikaea Hekate.
The far door leads to the Cathedral’s Nave, an enormous space dominated by a heavy cannon, a clock that still bears accurate time, and a stair circling the cannon. It seems the cannon is emplaced ready to fire out across the sea. For now we leave the nave, as we have yet to satisfy ourselves about the “self-locking” pair of doors back down the corridor.
The second-left door (viewed from the refectory) is easily unlocked and leads to a trophy gallery, a window at the far end, under the window a desk and a long-arm on the wall. Leaving Franz as sentry we try the first-left door. Jahr kicks it open as Zarkov cannot unlock it. It leads to a portrait gallery, the remains of a woman (so Zarkov tells us) on a viewing couch. An encased stone plinth once held the Warrant of Trade for the Zanatov, but the case is smashed and the plinth vacant. Zarkov pries second piece of the skull-and-cog sigil out of the corpse’s hand. I speculate the woman may have been Bellica but there seems no means of knowing that and nothing more we can do here. We return to the trophy gallery.
The long-arm, according to its neat little plaque, is a Scapula 4. I leave the lads to drool over it and examine the bone-tesserae desk. It is a writing desk. Inside is a sealed letter and a stub revolver with 12 spare rounds. Grimm takes the rounds, and after checking its condition, the revolver. I break the letter’s seal and find that it is written by Vorkas, who writes of Koronath’s suspicious behavior. Nothing useful as to what transpired or where Koronath went.
It is time to search up the tower opposite. It was once a librarium of sorts but the elements have done their work and nothing useful remains. The only mystery is that a number of clocks – none accurate – are still working. Above, a trapdoor lets from the stair-top through the ceiling. Jahr pushes it open and we discover a large but decayed conservatory. Investigating the higher parts, Franz falls and is seriously injured. Zarkov and Bobby make him as comfortable as they can and he remains willing to stay the course. We search thoroughly enough to assure ourselves that a third piece of sigil has not simply been left there, and return to the Nave.
The clock that, other than the cannon, is the dominant feature of the nave, chimes the quarter. Grimm checks again: it is still fairly accurate. Zarkov investigates, seeking what powers it. There is a sizeable power pack for it. Behind the clock, a depression matches the sigil’s size and shape.
Plaques around the Nave aid navigation. There are three more wings we have not explored, one named the Sanatorium wing barred – literally – by a heavy, barricaded door; the other two leading to towers. One tower has fallen the other proves much more significant than any so far!
A red door at the top of the second-floor stairs to that tower leads to an orrery or planetarium, complete with a telescope. The Barsapine system is modeled in clockwork and plas-encased servitors. A little comedy ensues as Grimm and Jahr wind the roof back and take turns looking into the sky. More practically, Zarkov winds up the clockwork model: I suggest aligning the planets with the Cathedral.
It seems to work: the shade of Koronath appears. At first, I assume it to be a hologram-recording but soon change my mind. Koronath interacts with me, and I engage him in discourse. He explains that he imprisoned his relatives, all of whom fell prey to madness, and conducted experiments on them. They are imprisoned in the Sanatorium. I persuade him that seeking the Eternal is his best option now and he departs, leaving the third segment of the sigil.
A further search of the workings reveals an encoded book named Prodigious Events of the Barsapine System; a small ancient pistol likely to be a plasma weapon; and vials of yellowish fluid. Taking this cache, we depart back to the Nave. We have decided that the Sanitorium must be cleansed before we can take Franz and our information and loot back to the Gilded Cathedral.
Having looted and stacked our truck with the spoils, we ready ourselves for work and break down the mortar and knock the bars off the Sanatorium doors. Deciding that caution is best, Franz blasts a hole in one door and Zarkov probes through. He reports a cell-lined passage, wet and decayed.
Readying our weapons and opening the doors we are challenged by someone that assumes we are Koronath, which makes sense except for the decades-long survival. I respond in the Blessed Emperor’s name, and hideous decaying creatures rush out of many cells and at us! Their screams pierce our very souls…
Battle layout: The attackers emerge so rapidly, the party is still grouped around the entrance to the Sanatorium. Jahr is near the front, Franz off to one side of him, Grimm is near the back, and Zarkov and Mola in the middle. There is plenty of room to retreat and the passage into the Sanatorium is plenty wide enough for all mutants to rush, as they can scramble along walls and ceiling at full speed. Mutants are effectively fast zombies, with no armor and low Toughness. Each gets two attacks in a full attack round.
Fear test: Mutie screams act as Ghoul screams, WP saves:
Mola OK on reroll, Z OK on reroll, Grimm and Jahr fail on reroll, Franz OK.
Effects at 20 penalty:
Grimm: minor distraction, -10 all.
Jahr: debilitating fear, drops babbling and clawing at self, 6 Insanity, 5 rounds out of action.
Round 1: Mola fires catching a mutie solidly in the chest and withdraws. The muties all rush: two or more finish their rush adjacent to Franz and Jahr. Z jabs Jahr with Frenzon and withdraws. Grimm targets the wounded mutie, blasting it again in the chest and bowling it back dead, knocking two more down. The Frenzon takes effect and Jahr (who is prone) begins working himself into a fury. Franz opens up on full auto but disappointingly only catches one and does not put it down. The couple of muties nearest him retaliate but miss.
Round 2: Mola snap-shoots one on the lintel above Franz, blowing its head off [RF 25] and as skull fragments and brain matter spray widely those nearest are staggered. [A frag effect on all within four meters: Ag save, Grimm and Zarkov are -10]. She withdraws further. The eight remaining muties attack, pouring over the entire group: only Jahr and Mola are actually hit, and their armor resists the claws [double armor against primitive]. Z withdraws and shoots the mutie that Franz wounded, stunning it. Grimm has to deal with an adjacent mutie, wounding it. Jahr leaps to his feet, whips his axe down – and misses. Franz backs out and shoots the stunned mutie, dealing rib-breaking damage.
Round 3: Mola backs away from her attacker, shooting it in the body. The muties close again, this time catching Grimm Mola and Zarkov, whose armor resists the damage. Jahr is caught with a massive blow that penetrates even his armor, but he resists the impact [Armor+Tough=damage]. Zarkov withdraws and misses. Grimm targets the previously-stunned mutie, eviscerating it [RF] and flinging it back as well. Jahr plows into one of the two muties fighting him, shearing its arm off with his axe. Franz drops back again, missing.
Round 4: Mola steps back again and blows her wounded mutie away with another well-placed body shot. There are now five muties left, none wounded, and they keep attacking, concentrating around Grimm Jahr and Zarkov. Grimm’s armor is pierced and he is lightly wounded: the others escape harm. Zarkov steps back again and misses again. Grimm shoots his nearest attacker, wounding it. Jahr misses. Franz, with no need to withdraw, opens up on autofire and two muties drop in a hail of bullets.
With only three muties remaining and Franz Mola and Zarkov all available to maneuver, the combat is called there.
Grimm calls for Zarkov to check his wound [Fate point to recover, Zarkov adds the remaining one] and Zarkov swiftly disinfects and patches his wound. Franz has escaped with no further harm so we are ready to search the sanatorium to ensure it is truly purged, before we make a final decision:
Head back to the Gilded Cathedral for research on the sigil, or try plugging it into its socket behind the clock!