Ghost in the Shell

Session 16

Write-up by Jason (jymmijamz)

Game – Rogue Trader

(Run by) GM – Chris

Altius (Astropath Transcendent) – Jason (jymmijamz)

Victris (Navigator) – Will

Gnothics Sexxophin (Explorator Tech Priest) – NightUlf (Darren)

Chapter 16

Systems start to come back to life, cognitor backs and logic engines click and clatter back into action. Looking out of the cathedral like gothic style forward observation window, the crew can see that the ice planet is now an ocean world, the precious minerals now easy to obtain.


Admiral Winter storms onto the bridge. “What the hell is going on in here?” The Lord Captain bellows. Looking around the assembled crew she lifts her right arm, the once healthy arm now replaced with a cybernetic appendage. Rubbing her robotic hand across her now heavily scarred scalp she continues her tirade. “I have been trying to contact you for nearly a day. My door would not open and why the throne did three tech priests attack me?” Stopping briefly she runs her hand over her semi-healed scars once more, before continuing. “And while I’m about it. What’s with our medics, I went in to see them because one of the throning priests managed to nick my leg. Those bastards took my arm and replaced my skull with metal.” As everyone present looks around, heads start to turn towards Gnothics. Taking the hint the Explorator steps to the fore. “Please do not evict me from the ship I have grown to love! But I think I may be to blame.” Gnothics pauses to gauge the Captains response. When she says nothing, the engineseer continues. “An entity I inadvertently brought aboard, managed to take control of a large portion of the ship. As we combated it the ship fired on the ice planet, releasing a plague into the area.” On hearing this Marcus steps away from the door frame he had been leaning against, a grim smile on the Seneschal’s lips. “So where do we stand on this at the moment?” Victris takes up the tale, trying to remain upbeat under Winters withering glare. “Well, um. We seem to have regained control of the Boadicea’s Wrath, but all life has ceased to exist on the verdant planet.”


Suddenly a red cloaked tech priest sitting at a nearby cogitation unit pipes up, interrupting Victris’ report. “A standard construction template number one, two, five, seven, six, four, slash, one, oh, nine, has been identified. Operating at grid reference twenty one minutes fifty one second north, by twenty six minutes forty seven seconds west.” Looking at the cognitor display, Gnothics identifies the location as that of a dam and hydro-electric plant. As the ice is melting, water is once again starting to flow through the plant’s turbines, producing energy. This energy is in turn slowly bringing the hives systems back to life.


Meanwhile three down and towards the bow a crewman cracks open an illicit, ship brewed gut rot and takes a gulp. Suddenly he starts to cough, fluid running down his chin. As he wipes it away with his hand, notices that there is blood mixed in with the gut rot and sputum. Running his tongue over his teeth, he can feel that the gums are receding. With a shrug, the doomed crewman raises the bottle to his lips and takes another slug.


Elsewhere a female worker going about her duties snags her sleeve, as she tries to pull it free she catches the flesh of her arm. With a hard tug she finely frees she arm, the sleeve ripping and a chunk of skin comes away. Seeing this, another member of the work gang realising that the worker showed no sign of pain, and recognising the signs rushes over to slam her hand to the door stud the actuation prayer tumbling from her lips, sealing the room.


Back on the bridge Marcus raises a hand to his vox-bead, a frown appearing on his face. “Okay people we have patient zero. From what we know or can surmise, we have around two hours. I suggest that we make this our top priority.” As the numbers start to rise and fatalities are reported, the senior officers argue and debate their options. Suddenly a light starts to blink on the logic engine at which Gnothics is seated. Flicking a nearby switch, the senior tech priest activates a phono unit. “Statement… It is of no benefit to see you die… Statement… Help is offered… Statement… Do you wish assistance?” Gnothics thinks for the briefest of moments. “Yes!”


While everyone else is busy trying to decide their next course of action, Marcus sidles over to stand beside Altius. “Listen I’m not an expert in your ways, but I have the vaguest idea of what you can do. I’ll be a lot happier on this ship if we had a solid base of faith, and we are currently without a head of the Ecclesiarchy. Now, the last I heard we are down to two competitors for the big role. You’re able to tell how people are feeling aren’t you, any way you can speed things up a bit, if we can get someone declared head the entire Ecclesiarchy will stop all it’s in-fighting.” Thinking through the actions required, to achieve the required feat, Victris nods and then settles into an empty work station.


Focusing on his totem, the astropath send his mind sweeping throughout the ship, gently brushing the surface of each crewmember’s mind. He soon comes to realise that the crew is pretty evenly split, but an endorsement from the Lord Captain will likely swing the vote in favour of how ever she selects. Victris now tightens his focus, seeking out more information on the two candidates. Firstly there is Deacon Dionysus, who used to be a member of the Inquisition. His methods are brutal, but through interrogation and intimidation he will drive the faith of the Emperor into the crew’s hearts and souls. Next there is Canon Archlight, most recently serving on the Vengeance of Saint Drusus and is a true Drusian believer. He is likely to lead groups to arms, but in both of them their faith is unquestionable.


Withdrawing his mind from the crew, Altius make his decision and raises, and wanders over to the Captain. “Captain, if I may speak candidly.” He whispers in her ear. “A thought has occurred to me, we need to focus the mind of the crew, we need the church settled, and might I suggest that Archlight may by the best, the appropriate candidate at this time. I think he would best focus the crew on our current external difficulties.” Winter looks at the Astropath. “I agree, but is this not in the hands of the Ecclesiarchy it’s self, we do not have influence over such things.” Altius gives a smile and a slight shrug. “But I believe that an endorsement by you will sway the minds of the crew, and potentially the members of the Ecclesiarchy aboard ship focusing their minds on this one candidate.” Admiral Winter returns Altius’ smile. “Well I do have a way with words. I will do this!” she says slapping her hand to the hilt of her power sabre.


Across the room, still seated at the logic engine, Gnothics is staggered under a wash of information. A massive surge of data comes at the Engineseer at speeds that make the usual rituals of data retrieval seem redundant. Sifting through the data as best he can, Gnothics manages to snatch information on the disease from the terabytes of ancient data. It is obvious that the plaque is not wholly natural, bares marked similarities to other recorded outbreaks. But luckily this strain does not seem to be the most virulent form, but given a foothold it will soon gain in straight. But at the moment, like all forms of bacteria and most forms of virus, it is still susceptible to fire.


A plan is hatched to flood the infected areas of the ship with promethium vapours, ignited, and after a set length of time the areas would be opened to the void to put the fires out. It would most certainly be a horrific death sentence for any crew trapped in those affected areas.


While Gnothics occupies the Lord Captain with his report, Victris clandestinely contacts the cult of the navigator, asking them to start the necessary rituals in the hope of boosting his warp sight. Opening his third eye, Victris can feel the live being snuffed out in his name. He feels like he is riding the eddies of the warp, not in a craft but as himself. And he soon realises there is warp taint in the disease; it is as people thought a corruption disease. It is only down to the cleansing preformed by Victris and Marcus earlier that the plague is so weak. The warp corrupted crewmembers were to be the first targets, already susceptible to the warp element of the disease, thereby giving it a foothold on board the Boadicea’s Wrath.


As Victris closes his third eye, he sees the Lord Captain Admiral Winter activate a vox panel. It is very clear that she is communicating with high up members of the Ecclesiarchy, switching channels she ends each conversation with. “… and of course do not allow me to alter your opinion, but I need a decision made and I need it made now. So whichever decision you come to of your own accord, if you could let me know I would be most grateful. I understand that these things take time, so if we say you have twenty minutes… what, you can’t do that. Really I would have thought that people with such faith in the Emperor would know already in their hearts. Unless of course you are not sufficiently pious and I will not have insufficiently pious Ecclesiarchy on my ship, if you understand?… Thank you; I will await your answer.”


Finally it is announced that Canon Archlight has been raised the head of the church, and a frenzy of cleansing and casting out of heresy gets underway as the church sets about re-establishing control over the faithful aboard ship.


As all this is taking place, Gnothics is distracted be an attempted communication coming from the hive world below. Passing the signal through a cognitor unit the Engineseer can tell that this is no ghost signal, but is without a doubt being sent from the once uninhabited hive right now. Activating the cognitor unit’s display, Gnothics positions his considerable bulk to block the pict-viewer as he opens a channel to the signals sender. A head is displayed on the screen, a very simple image, almost just a green outline against a black background. The angular, bodiless face greets Gnothics. “Gre. Gr, greetings. Gre, gr, gr, greetings.” The head exclaims, jerking as it does so. “Re, re, requesting for help. I am stu, stu, stuck here alone on this hi, hi, hi, hive planet.” Gnothics contemplates the strange image, whilst quickly double checking that he had turned off the pict-caster at his end. “Gr, greetings. This is Maximus Crainiumspace, requesting, re, re… This is Maximus Crainiumspace. The, the, there ha, ha, has been items placed upon the main cogitators. Some, so, so something is trying to act through the, the, them. Requesting assistance th, thi, this is not st, st, sta, standard alterations.” Gnothics soon comes to the realisation that this is no human, but more likely some kind of advanced artificial intelligence. An AI of this level would be more than capable of causing the kind of damage they had seen on their visit to the hive, sealing areas and starving the inhabitants of oxygen and the like. It is quite likely that Gnothics is talking to a sociopathic AI.


Using the signal as a carrier, Gnothics sends a portion of his mind steaming down to the hive. Hoping to ascertain exactly what he is dealing with, and do what he can to contain it. As he head down towards the AI Gnothics can sense that something has already connected, and is copying the AI. Connecting directly with the AI, risking the possible effects of corruption, the Engineseer sets about trying to stop the copying from completing, throwing up blocks, adding subroutines and false trails in the hope of delaying the recording long enough to sever the connection.


On the other side of the room Victris turns to a nearby tech priest. “What can you tell me about the standard construction template? You know the dam and turbines that have become active on the hive planet?” The red cloaked priest remains focused on the cognitor unit in front of it. “Your ignorance is your shield.” As Victris opens his mouth again to repeat the question, the priest turns to him. “Shield!” It says more forcefully, before turning away, effectively closing the discussion. As Victris turns away from the truculent tech priest, Gnothics seems to have finished whatever tech-magic’s he was performing, and is looking quite pleased about something.


Altius, who has spent the last few minutes trying to clear his mind of the dying screams of the unfortunate infected, is suddenly very aware of another mind. The mind is that of someone in great pain, calling out to the Omnissiah and desperately crying out for help. The psychic SOS call is coming from a part of the ship he has never visited before. Focusing his mind on the agonised soul, Altius can sense that it that of a tech priest. Something has ripped the man’s guts open, he is doing his best to hold them in, but knows that his time is short. Shifting part of his contentiousness’, Altius connects with Gnothics. [I think I have located one of your kind, he is at location alpha 224.6. He is in a lot of pain, you may wish to try and connect with him.] “This may be just an echo or even something worse, do not try to contact it.” Gnothics says. But Altius is very sure he has made no mistake. His suspicions raised, Altius severs his connection to the explorator and instead attempts to connect with the two medicae techs. To his surprise he can’t locate them, in fact, apart from Gnothics and the dying priest; he can’t locate a single living being that is also a Tech Priest. Which is strange as there are at least two sat at work stations, not more than ten feet away.


Eyes snapping open as the Astropath rapidly returns to himself, Altius telepathically connects to all present members of the senior crew. As he connects with Lylith, he gets the sense that she is not happy. [If that damned witch does that to me again, I swear by the Emperors throne I’ll put a round through his skull… Um, I hope he didn’t catch that.] With a sly smirk, Altius delivers her a mental goosing, just to let her know that he did hear her thought. Suddenly he can feel the barrel of a combat shot gun pressed to the base of his skull. “Do that again. I throning dare you.” Altius, sensing that he has established connection with the whole team, informs them of his finding. [Lylith, you may want to redirect that weapon of your.] [Really, because I have a good reason to be pulling the trigger right now witch!] [Oh you have, but just not at me. I have just done a sweep of the whole ship; I can only sense two tech priests aboard the whole vessel. Two active living minds that are tech priests, one is in this group, the other is elsewhere.]Lylith looks over to the two seated tech priests, still working diligently at their stations, before turning back to the Astropath. [On three I take it?] [Yes.] Lylith slowly lets her shot gun drop around so that it is pointing towards the closest Tech Priest. [One. Two. Three.]


As all hell breaks out around him, Altius suddenly realises that the Lord Captain was not in on the connection. In fact now that he thinks about it, although her body appears to be on the bridge, there is just an empty space where her mind should be. Allowing the pain and anguish of the burning masses to once again wash over him, Altius musters a psychic scream and releases a focused blast at the Lord Captain, Knocking her staggering backwards. As the rest of the group lay into the unsuspecting tech priests, Altius sends out a telepathic warning to the group. [The Lord Captain is one of them.] As he unleashes another psychic scream. Psychic winds swirl around the room as Admiral Winter is once again staggered, her flesh starting to peel away under the force of the blast, revealing parts of a metallic endoskeleton. As Captain Winter shacks her head to clear it of the stunning effects of the blast and once again start to advance on the Astropath, Altius musters a third psychic scream.


Something goes very wrong, with a wave of nausea Altius suddenly finds himself looking out of someone else’s eyes. For the first time in decades the psycher can see, actually see. Across the room Altius, looking very confused, holds his hand in front of his face. “I’m blind. What’s going on, I can’t see a throning thing.” Victris, now in Altius’ body, find himself under attack from the thing that was once the Lord Captain. Seeing the Astropath assaulting Winter, Lylith makes a grab for him. But at the last moment Victris stumbles to one side, narrowly dodging Lylith’s attack. Altius starts shouting nonsense and obscenities in rogue trader cant, in an attempt to distract the Lord Captain. Seeing Winter trying to murder his body, Altius looks for a means to stop her. Looking down, he finds that he is holding a hell pistol. Maybe I can stop her long enough to find out what is going on if I take her legs out with this. Taking careful aim he unleashes a hell round, but misses. Marcus, seeing that Victris is now also attacking Lord Captain Winter, hesitates, not sure who to fire his weapon at. Meanwhile Winter turns to attack the Navigator. Seeing her coming swords swinging, Altius ducks and the swords sweep through the area where his head was just moments earlier. As he straightens, Altius fires the hell pistol again, this time at point blank. But he hadn’t taken into account just how destructive a hell round can be, as the Lord Captain is suddenly engulfed in flames. Her immolated corpse drops to the floor.


As the conflict wind down, the tech priests and the Lord Captain nothing more than smoking wrecks and metal and flesh. Seeing the Lord Captain slaughtered by the Navigator. Lylith, crying out, “Victris, you murdering traitor. Die you throning piece of shit.” But the thick pale off foul smelling smoke, hanging in the relatively confined space of the bridge throws her aim, and Victris is witness to the rounds whizzing past his head as he snaps back into his own body.

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