Valdane's Chronicles

Belly of the Beast - Part 2

A new friend and dark places.

Before proceeding, the acolytes decide to inspect the station’s small security station, hoping to get a better understanding of what exactly has transpired. Brenner informs them that it should be found a few decks up.

Calidus propels himself into the elevator shaft, checking to see if the passage is safe to travel through. Scanning quickly high and low with his stablight, he swears that he spots movement up among the pulleys and chains at the very top of the shaft. For just a split second he feels something staring back, before it rapidly slips away.

Voicing a warning to the party, he continues up, propelling himself gently up to the correct level. The rest of the party follows.

The small security station sits at the end of the hall, the door open, leading to what appears to be a small waiting room. Inside, a handful of chairs and benches are scattered about. A small counter is built into wall on the far side of the room. Its armored window and locked door separates the guard’s station and armoury from the waiting room itself. Like the docking bay’s control room, the armoured window has been sheared open and pushed inwards.

Calidus disassembles the lock, making his way inside. Globules of congealed blood, scraps of flesh, discarded equipment, and a few bodies dance in the zero-gravity. Additionally, in the corner, a small holding cell is separated from the rest by large plasteel bars and a closed cell door. Inside, a man floats dead, gripping the holding cell’s keys. His vacant eyes remain wide open, his lifeless mouth stuck in a frozen scream.

Through a crude vision, Ishamael sees the security team’s desperate last moments – panicked fire at someone, or something breaking through the armoured glass. After a sound of crashing, the guards scream a bloodcurdling scream and the vision slips away.

Gathering what meager equipment they can, the party presses back downward toward the generatorium – knowing that if they can restore power to the station, perhaps they can recover the station’s logs.

Calidus, Caradoc, and Taeric lead the way, gliding down the elevator shaft past roughly twelve of Tertia’s seventeen decks.

The group eventually reaches the bottom, a large engineering corridor leading to the mighty generatorium – a massive, cavernous chamber dug deep into the heart of the asteroid. Half of the chamber is bare rock, a dark brown, porous substance. In the middle of the room, the massive plasma generators sit idle and cold.

On the generatorium’s control deck, Caradoc, Calidus, and Brenner find the cogitators and control panels destroyed, shredded, or blown apart. At the base of the ruined controls is another body. His figure slowly drifts back and forth in the gravity-free environment – his stiffened, bloated fingers holding the metal grating. Congealed blood floats freely around his colossal wounds.

Utilizing a schematic provided by Arkady, Caradoc and Brenner set to work repairing the damaged systems.

Meanwhile, Felpox examines the body. Like the one found in the docking bay control room and those found in the security station, this body has been completely eviscerated by some sort of extremely sharp blades. Furthermore, he determines that this man’s soul departed some seven days ago.

After Brenner and Caradoc finally patch and splice around the major damage, the room is filled with a tremendous roar and a deep glow as the ancient plasma furnaces come back to life. The lights and machines flicker alive and gravity slowly pulls the acolytes back to the deck plating.

Now, the party begins a long ascent to the station’s control centre. With the lift inoperable, they are forced to snake back and forth through the heart of Tertia-12. Eventually, they pass through a few decks that appear to have been the scene of some heavy fighting. Much of the power and lighting in this section is still inoperable. Calidus, scouting ahead, sees a figure dart across the dark hallway from one room to the next.

The party takes positions while Calidus sneaks ahead to gain more information. Suddenly, a blinding stablight turns the corner, the figure yells numerous threats, raising some sort of weapon and claiming that he’ll “take them all with him”.

Arkady calms the man, declaring that they are part of the Inquisition, sent to ascertain what happened to the station and to rescue any survivors. Hushed, the man quickly ushers them out of the corridor, ducking into a hab, and proceeding through a series of vents. The acolytes follow.

The man is a survivor – Bann Kaur – who leads them to his “safe room”. The chamber features a small, dirty bed and is stacked high with empty food rations. Armed with a rivet gun and lascutter, Kaur is on edge, clearly having lived through a nightmare over the last few weeks.

Kaur explains that three weeks ago, “something” began killing the crew. At first, just a few members went missing, then chunks of bodies started turning up. A lock down and curfew were instituted. He notes that he’s heard stories of things like this before, but he thought it was just rumours – a simple myth that prospectors called the "Beast of Praxos”.

Arkady is aware of the myth – a common ghost story spread throughout Port Aquila’s many taverns over the last few years.

Whatever it was, Kaur notes that the beast took out Tertia’s entire security team on its own. Although the facility sent distress calls, no help arrived. Brenner notes that the Combine had never received any distress communications.

Kaur recounts how another week passed as more crew disappeared. Then, about a week ago, Tertia-12 received word over the short-range vox that a Mechanicus repair envoy would be landing soon. The crew was told to ready the docking bay for a single small shuttle.

Kaur describes how the “Tech Priest” and his men killed most of the remaining crew and then ruined the rest of the station’s systems and sole shuttle. Any survivors scattered into hiding, but Kaur believes that he is the last one remaining.

Seeing Kaur’s fragile mental state, the acolytes decide to return him to their Arvus and have Corvath secure him. Felpox administers some sedatives in order to render him unconscious.

The acolytes explain the current situation and their plan to Corvath – if they fail to check in regularly, Corvath should leave without them.

The party makes their way up to the control room. Through the open double-sized blast door, they see the chaos inside. Control consoles have been blown or torn apart. Las rounds and concentrated scorch patterns mark the walls all over. Some bodies lay around the floor, others, including servitors stay hunched over their consoles, dead.

Once again, Caradoc and Brenner set out to repair the main control terminal. After some time, they gain access to the station’s log. Both the station’s surveillance logs as well as the docking bay logs have been removed. The remaining logs match Kaur’s account.

Furthermore, among the personnel logs, they find out that the first disappearance was a crew member who had transferred on from Praxos Station outside of a normal crew rotation. Soon after, many more workers started to go missing.

Lastly, the acolytes find that one of the station’s servitors is still active, Makron-12b. Although damaged, it is still operable. Its location is Deck 16’s secondary maintenance conduit – part of what Kaur had noted as the “beast’s” hunting grounds.

Before attempting to locate the servitor, the acolytes decide to vent most of the station’s atmosphere, hoping to possibly kill whatever is stalking them from the shadows. After an hour, they restore life support and set out to recover Makron-12b’s memory log and then quickly leave Tertia – clearly feeling under-equipped to deal with whatever may still be aboard.

Eventually they find Deck 16 – it too shows signs of conflict. The sounds of flowing water fills the lonely hallway. Reaching the maintenance conduit, they see why. Water pours down the shaft to a flooded corridor below. A slightly damaged ladder seems to be the only way down.

Taeric readies his grapnel and is followed down by a leaping Caradoc. Landing at the bottom, they set up overwatches and secure the dark tunnel extending in both directions. The rest of the party slowly climbs down. The freezing fluid comes up waist high.

They eventually find Makron-12b, charred and badly-damaged, splashing around in the deep water. Its remaining bionic eye flickers as its vox grille emits a low, crackling ramble of numbers. Thankfully, the memory core is in tact. Brenner and Caradoc remove it.

They recover a vid capture recorded from right before the servitor was damaged. It keeps repeating the same thirty-seven second loop:

From its perspective, they see Makron-12b walking down Deck 16 toward a group including what looks to be a Tech Priest clad in his typical crimson robes. The figures he’s talking to are hunched over, with oddly long appendages. Human, but with something not quite right about them.

The Tech Priest talks with a raspy hiss: “Gather the brothers and destroy the pertinent logs. We’re done here. We’ve gathered all the information I require. This strain’s life cycle is even faster than the last”.

The tech priest notices the servitor and from his wrist fires a blue bolt. The servitor stumbles back, tumbling down an open maintenance shaft before the video cuts out.

The acolytes store the memory logs and prepare to retreat back up the shaft. Just then, Calidus sees movement through the dark water ahead, approaching rapidly.

A living nightmare of talons, powerful muscle, and exo-skeleton bursts from the waist-deep liquid. Atop two legs, the creature stands roughly seven feet tall. Its four arms are tipped with massive, razor sharp claws. Chitinous armour plates cover the creature’s elongated head and hunched back. The horrific creature’s glossy black eyes pierce the soul as it leaps towards the group with lightning fast speed. It utilizes all of its limbs on the few strides forward, tearing holes through the heavy bulkheads with ease.

It is death, incarnate.

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