Lancer: Shots in the Dark- Mission 3

“Powerful things lurk in the darkness and it is a sin to forget them”

-A Modern Catastrophe

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Players

Body Count LL: SSC Monarch 3- played by Insuling

Duke LL: HA Sherman 3- played by Pyro

Spao LL: SSC Mourning Cloak 3- played by Marlow

Gear Head LL: SSC Dusk Wing 2, SSC Death’s Head 1- payed by Impking

Dvoretski LL: HORUS Lich 3- played by Dr. Hobo

NPC’s

  • Rashida Talib: Union Administrator. Overworked Union personnel, it’s almost all this poor woman can do to deal with the nonsense and dumb asses on the Dunsany, to say nothing of what happens outside of the station. Something Angrboda is no doubt aware of, to the point where it is wondered if she is either on the take, or Angrboda is sending dissidents and troublemakers to keep her off balance so she won’t focus more on them
  • Tomiko Miyazawa: Smith Shimano Corp representative. Prime example of a corporate exec. Ambitious, cut throat, and almost completely incompetent, having risen to her position by a combination of nepotism and sheer dumb luck. You know, like most corporate execs. Tends to use mercenaries as her go to for most problems. Taken a shine to Body Count. Tall statuesque Asian woman with super model looks and almost too thin. Sounds like Hedonismbot from Futurama
  • Wolfgang Bachman: Harrison Armory representative. Believes he has ‘precognitive’ dreams from the cutting edge brain augmentations he had installed. Wary, detached, thin, prematurely aged, and paranoid. Wears rumpled suits and smokes a lot. Sounds like Hunter S. Thompson
  • Molly Razor: former Red Dog Pirate and drug addict. Now free agent. Still a drug addict. Trained in the Karrakin Trade baronies, she later joined the Ungratefuls for a period of time before finally leaving after some disastrous event. Stubborn, surly, favors undercut and a tactical-punk look. Really good with a knife, keeping quite a few monoblade knives on her person.
  • “Tank” Mickowski: Space biker with the Mongols GC (Gravcycle club). Looks for fights after he argues with his husband, but decent when he calms down
  • Jebediah Harrington: crazy old glass miner and dock manager on a Shatterdome on mung. Sounds like a crazy old prospector, constantly laughing, which is actually his sobs, as his tear ducts were burned out from the harsh conditions of Mung
  • Simon: High Priest of the Followers of Nod. Nihilistic but polite. Not entirely human

Locations

  • The Dunsany space station: if anything can be considered the capitol of the Pegana system, it is the Dunsany. Sitting in orbit of Mung, the Dunsany is a massive cylinder spinning around a central control shaft. A crossroads and often first stop in arrival in the Pegana system, the Dunsany is a melting pot in the wild frontier of Union space. Nominally owned by the Angrboda, the station has been leased by the Union and houses the current system Administrator and all Union personnel. While the upper levels maintain a modicum of law and order, the lower levels are a bit more… lax in their policing, a side effect of the rough and tumble mixture of pirates, mercenaries, miners, and ne’er-do-wells seeking their fortune
  • Mung: the second planet, Mung is named for the ancient god of death. A fitting name, as Mung is a deathworld. A barren wasteland of a planet, the only break in the perpetually sun bleached wasteland is when terrible storms rage across the planet, strikes of lightning turning swathes of the desert to glass, while acid rains scourge the rest. Despite this horrid environment, the planet hides a great amount of natural wealth in the form of rare earth metals and fractal glass. A uniquely difficult place to mine, workers must wait for breaks in the storms to quickly strip mine as much as they possibly can before evacuating. A few permanent settlements dot the surface of the planet. Massive domes with concrete several feet thick that hold the heavy machinery and miners watching for their chance to gather what they can.

Events

Convening several days later, the team must now decide what to do. Their contract ostensibly complete, the mercs need to find a new employer if they wish to stay in the system. With that the team decides to shop around, using their new found status as a bargaining chip with the representative of Harrison Armory, Wolfgang Bachman, the representative of Smith Shimano Corp, and finally the Administrator, Rashida Talib. Despite some of the perks and technical support offered by the corps, the Team decides to sign on under Union, taking advantage of the broader executive power and jurisdiction of Union. Their employer secured, the team spends some time building up their relations with some of the larger factions, some with more success than others, while Duke hires the nascent Molly Razor as the newest addition to their budding mercenary company. A fortunate thing this, as the team is soon privy to the information that someone has put a hit out on them, intending for it to look like an accident. Seeing this as an excellent opportunity to test his new employee, Duke puts Molly Razor on the case, a task which she accepts with relish, even though they did put her old boss in lock up. Not long after, the crew is joined by Dvoretski, Duke’s former butler and manservant form his time as a noble, now returned to serve his former master and keep him safe. After a few more run-ins with some of the local color, including a brawl with a gravcycle club that was barely avoided when Body Count threatened them with a rocket launcher Duke shot a man in the knee cap, but they had beers after so it was cool.

ArtStation - Sci-Fi Bar, Maxim Dadinlink

Settling on their next plan of attack, the sets their sights on the death world of Mung below to throw a wrench in project Hel. Perusing the Sons’ data, the team finds the passage, “We have plumbed the depths of the ancient city of Neraka that sleeps below the surface of Mung. There we found the Darkstar, a battleship of singular purpose, a gift of the dark ones. It was there we opened the Gates of the Dead and the Dying, bringing forth the death of mind and body to awaken the Heart of the Darkstar itself. With the power of the Gates and the Heart, we shall raise the Darkstar, and with it, the potency of the singularity shall be within our grasp.” Further reading indicates parallels to the Kathenist-1 entity, Andthoth Anglhoazatel, the Black Consuming Maw. Able to decipher coordinates to the entrance of “Neraka,” the teams makes preparations for their mission, procuring environmental plating for traversing the inhospitable terrain of Mung.

Departing the station, the team lands on one of the many shatterdomes, large domed bunkers scattered across the surface of the planet, used by transient glass miners as staging points to harvest the rich mineral resources of the planet in between ion storms that regularly scourge the planet. Quickly going about their preparations, the mercenaries befriend the dock manager, Jebediah Harrington, who warns them about the hostile planet while seemingly laughing the entire time. Turns out he burned out his tear ducts back when he was a miner. Oh well, them’s the breaks. Anyways, the team is able to get geared up and heads out into the desert, hopping between massive steel covers set up along the surface. Eventually attracting the attention of a roving band of sand pirate raiders, the team engages in a short but brutal fire fight with the enemy mechs, eventually reducing them to more slag left to rot in the wasteland. Continuing on, the team arrives at a massive fissure leading deep into the crust of Mung. Venturing down, the opening leads into a massive cavern, the rough earth giving way to massive walls of worked stone, covered in bizarre statues of ancient jackal headed warriors. Petrified trees dot the cave, as Duke and Gearhead move to examine them. Closing in, they find these “trees” are not trees at all, but petrified bodies all running together. Even more unsettling is that the bodies are in fact human, albeit approaching a billion years old. Not quite sure how to take this, the mercenaries decide to head towards the opening in massive biomechanical looking wall. Upon their approach, an enormous glaring red eye opens above, casting its baleful gaze upon the Lancers. With the opening of the eye, statues of the stylized warriors pull themselves from the alcoves in the wall, drawing blades that burn with a cold radiance, more awakening by the second. Springing to action, the mercenaries counterattack with laser, missile, and blade, felling the Maw Draugr even as more awaken to replenish their numbers. Through Spao’s keen observation, the team sees the lids of the glowing red eye slowly, almost imperceptibly, begin to close with each enemy slain. Redoubling their efforts, the Lancers continue their slaughter as the eye eventually closes, its appetite sated. With that, the way is lit and the path is clear as the team ventures into the bowels of the Darkstar.

Biomechanical Anubis by chanyy | 3D | CGSocietylink

Traversing the deep labyrinthine passages, the team cannot help but notice the scale, their mechs moving through the twisting halls as though this place were made for giants, the architecture a Giger-esque nightmare. An eerie green radiance permeates this place, as the walls and ceiling are shot through with veins and piping that resemble no architecture of man, but rather that of a living body, though one made of metal and wire. Walking for minutes or hours, the team emerges in a large open area with curious supports resembling an enormous rib cage. Within, dark robed people scurry about, working and tinkering upon vast cybernetic pieces and advanced machinery strewn about the room. Curious, the team warily moves forward, still in the lookout for an ambush. The workers continue their tasks, undaunted by the towering mecha, though hooded individual’s separates from the pack to entreat with the towering machines. Speaking a calm, quiet voice, the individual introduces himself as the High Priest, known once as Simon, while his fellows are the Followers of Nod. Inquiring after the motives of the team, Simon asks if they came here to kill them, summoning his followers to a central location and having them kneel, with the intention of making it easier for the Lancers to end their lives. A bit taken aback, the team debates whether or not to kill the cultists, as Simon explains that they were the ones who awoken the Heart of the Darkstar, and now create machines to augment more creatures of the Void as they have done so already. The Followers of Nod are worshippers of entropy, of the dark still perfect end. Nothing matters and annihilation is inevitable. One of many groups within the Sons of Atum, the Followers of Nod will not raise a hand in their own defense, but will create cybernetic augmentations for the Demons to hasten the final end and the Darkstar will rise to put out the light. Recognizing the insane ramblings of the cult but not willing to slaughter people that will not defend themselves, the team inquires after the gates of the Dead and the Dying. Simon indicates tow large openings, one to the left and one to the right. The right hand path, he says, is the Gate of the Dying, the death of the mind, of the Lord Hypnos, while the right hand path is that of the Dead, the death of the body and the Lord Thanatos. Still unsure of what to make of these morbid, if helpful cultists, the team decides to leave them be for now, instead heading to the right hand path, the Gate of the Dying and the domain of Hypnos. The party enters into an enormous room, interspersed with platforms and walkways over a massive chasm where sparking lightning crackles in the depths. Flitting about the room are what looks like cherubs, though horrifically disfigured, dead graying flesh shot through with circuitry and machinery. In their hands they carry spikes of some heretofore unknown black metal while each flap of their vulture wings throws off an asbestos dust, kicking a slow poison into the very air. At the far end of the room is a rent in creation, a point of vantablack that drinks in the grey light of the chamber. Emerging as though from the shadows is a tall, rail thin figure that floats inches from the ground, pieces of it periodically phasing in and out of existence. Metal, cables, and wires twist and whorl like flesh to make up the body of the Lord of the Dying, while its away and mouth are yawning pits of pure black like portals into the void onto themselves. Letting out a horrific mechanical screech, Hypnos directs its cherubs towards the mercenaries, who respond in kind, smiting the otherworldly monstrosities, their arms spewing flame and destruction. Eventually the Demons fall, Hypnos, the Lord of the Dying blasted into oblivion, spewing blood that hisses like television static. With the death of the Lord, the mercenaries feel rather than see the portal to the Void close before them as the oppressive atmosphere lessens. Just as they begin to leave, the teams spots Simon kneeling besides the remains of the Lord of the Dying. As the pilots move past, Simon calls out to them, telling them what they have done is meaningless, that in the end, entropy always comes. Disregarding the cultists, the team moves, heading back to the central location and making for the Gate of the Dead.

7171C226-CB18-4033-8683-818C1B99A988link

Similar to the Gate of the Dying, the Gate of the Dead is shot through with the same grotesque biomechanical architecture, though here the design is more condensed, shot through with pipes and covered in stylized skulls and blasphemous symbols. Rising like a cyst from the far side of this room is a fleshy mass, like that of a massive tumor in the flesh-like metal of the ship. Guarding it are more of the Maw Draugr the team encountered on their way in, supporting the Lord of the Dead, Thanatos. Large and imposing, the Lord of the Dead is covered in necrotic flesh as massive bone blades spout from one arm, vicious maws drips black liquid as they open and close across the Demon’s body. Wasting no time, the mercenaries give no quarter, nor do they expect any, as Spao skirts away, hunting down stragglers from the main body and carving them apart. Not to be outdone, Duke and Monarch pound away at the monsters with laser and missiles respectively, supported by the Veil Rifle shots of Gearhead and the vicious code of Dvoretski, causing more than one of the Maw Draugr to bleed black oil like fluid from their mouth and eyes. Eventually, the team brings down the Lord of the Dead, that same tv static blood pooling out from the corpse. The fleshy mound rapidly decays upon the death of Thanatos, though when the party begins to leave, they again spot Simon, standing before the massive corpse of the Lord of the Dead. Telling them again that their actions are futile, that they are nothing before the inevitability of annihilation, the party again dismisses his words for the ramblings of the insane.

Returning to the central amphitheater, the team makes some repairs to their mechas before asking Simon where the Heart of the Darkstar is. While warning them that their quest is in vain, Simon leads them towards a far wall in the chamber which begins to tesselate away, opening into a passageway leading deeper in. eventually emerging into a vast pyramidal chamber, the team now stands before the object of their search. The entirety of the room limned is limned in a black radiance, a slight incline leading to a central platform, upon which stands the Heart of the Darkstar. A massive being, towering over even the largest of the mecha, the Heart is covered in razor sharp ridges of obsidian like armor shot through, the ridges of one arm continuing down into what appears to be a bone whip. Sickly pale grey flesh can be seen underneath the armor as it moves, while a ghostly apparition, a pale phantom with a distended mouth and eyes that stare into the void hangs off the neck of the armored figure in a perverse likeness of a lover. Malice and sheer abhorrence for life radiates off the monster in waves, provoking visions of the Void, of the emptiness that lies beyond the stars, the complete and utter totality of extinction. This thing, this demon, the physical manifestation of death stands before the mercenaries arrayed before it. What then, is the measure of a man before a god? As the creature strides down from its pyramid, it appears time to find out.  Just as the monster bears down on the mercenaries, the measure of men is found as Duke unleashes the full fury of the Mk. IV SOLIDCORE, in one shot vaporizing both the phantom and the flesh underneath, leaving only the cybernetic shell to fight on. How do you like them apples? (Ok, I gotta break this one down. I tried to make a boss character by combining an elite berserker, monstrosity with the commander tag, and an elite witch into one thing, essentially giving the players three “points” to target. The thing would move as one unit, but would be easier to target with AOE stuff, which I thought was a decent trade off. Well when you have a guy shooting a fully charged MK IV. SOLIDCORE and gets a crit with the brutal tag, well it turned my fucking boss into mush. Sometimes them’s the breaks.) The shell falling in short order, the mercenaries are again met by Simon, kneeling next to the corpse of the demon. Not even stopping to listen to the priest, the team laughs him off, telling the cultist that apparently death is inevitable, just look at the big guy. Went down like a bitch. Laughing to themselves the team leaves the chamber, the Heart of the Darkstar slain.

Back in the central chamber, the team debates what to do with the cultists. Despite the cultists gathering together for easier slaughter, the team is loath to kill them. Rather, Body Count suggests that they call in some favor from Union to get a transport ship to take the cultists into custody and deprogram them rather than kill them, as a team of cybernetics experts like these would  come in handy. The rest of the team agreeing, Simon informs the mercenaries that they will carry on their holy work, building weapons for the apocalypse. Unsure of how to take this but unwilling to simply kill them, the mercs agree to put a pin in this for now, vowing to send a team to retrieve the cultists. Finally departing the unholy place, the team crosses the desert to return to the shatterdome, their trip mercifully quiet. Finally back, the team reports their success to the Administrator, deciding to get some sleep and celebrate with their new friend, Jedediah Harrington. Breaking out some moonshine made from engine coolant and some back-alley amphetamines, the party toasts to life and its continuation.

Entities

Alien – Giger | Luce Nella Tenebralink

Kathenist-1, Andthoth Aglhoazatel, the Black Consuming Maw: the closest the Void Princes can have to a leader, Andthoth Aglhoazatel is the first and the mightiest of its brethren. The speaker of the void itself, the Black Consuming Maw is annihilation incarnate. It is the end when all life ceases, the headlong pitch into the black hole, nihilism personified. When the others have gone forth and despoiled the world, only Andthoth Aglhoazatel will remain to pitch existence head first into the all-encompassing nothingness. Andthoth Aglhoazatel is commonly represented as a titanic 3 armed bipedal worm with an enormous black maw. The rest of his body is covered in mouths which babble profanities and blasphemies, while it wears monk’s robes of flayed skin and prayer beads of black iron containing the trapped souls of heroes. In his right hand he holds the Dark Star, a candle that pulls luminescence in towards itself, giving off the irradiated nega-light of the black hole. In his left he holds the beating heart of Caranol, the first Sun, slain by his hand for daring to raise a hand against the encroaching dark. The central arm holds nothing, merely dripping with the viscera of slain victims and is always reaching, grasping for more. He is attended by an entourage of the dead, their souls consumed directly by the Black Consuming Maw and reanimated by his dread essence. The Void Hounds are his children, and they go before him, sentient pieces of the Black Star, always hungry and always hunting. Andthoth Aglhoazatel makes his domain in the Void Mouth, the last layer of the Abyss, where lays a blackened and corrupted tori gate seated on the Lip of Oblivion that leads to the End of All.

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