The Account of a Lifetime

September 13, 2010

Phase Change

Filed under: Bolthole Game — xisor @ 10:55 pm

“Inquisitor Pitgober has furnished us with further information regarding the possible foes we shall face,” said Talon. At around this point the magnitude of what you faced readily became apparent.

Foremost: Mara itself. It is a haunted, cursed and unforgiving place. If the cold doesn’t get you, you’re over the first hurdle. Beyond that: the warp itself leaks into reality. Expect the improbable.

“The Psycheneuein,” explains Acolyte Calium casually as if presenting a Monday morning departmental report. He has prepared a series of diagrams and slides for the purpose. “A psychic vermin; they can infect and plague psykers. Warp use near infection summons them. They are like daemons insofar as they are terrible manifestations of pure warp potency. And yet…they are unlike daemons. Their behaviour is predatory, animalistic. It obeys more sensible patterns. They are theorised to originated from calmer, albeit more concentrated breaches in the warp. A spiralling interplay of reality and unreality wherein the vague notions of ecology and species progression are imposed on the very warpstuff; they are a plague and a terror. I have faced them and I have survived them. I hope never to face them again, but it is with calm resolution that I consider it a certainty.”

He switches the slide to a picture of himself in psykana garb.

“The final stage infection is a psyker acting oddly. Typical signs are distractedness, social negligence, forgetfulness and unprecedented intellectual retardation. Conversely, the potency of their powers is enhanced in final stage, making this infection not only dangerous, but an heretical temptation to use unholy power. Final stage infected are notoriously difficult to subdue and have proven highly resistant to psychic probing. Mr Nicodemus, I strongly recommend against using your powers on such suspects unless it is as a diagnostic aide.”

The slide transfers to a pictogram of a single word: Larva, with lots of pictures of evidently non-Psycheneuein larva.

“Killing a final stage infection releases the larva. They are, being composed of pure warpstuff, nonetheless terrifying spectres. Killing them is simple and recommended. There is, however, a danger that they will transform into fully formed adults if they are ‘killed’. Banished is, I believe, a more appropriate term, so when I say killed you can understand the intricacy of actually ending these threats is not…simple.

“The ‘adult’ psycheneuein most closely resembles a vespiform. It has a flowing, inconstant appearance accompanied by a horrific psy-buzzing. Expect the sight of it to addle your mind. It is tough and a fearsome psychic foe. Defeating it is not easy, but it is possible. Concentrated weapons fire, blessed weapons and psychic attacks are of some potency. It should be noted that certain successful attacks, mainly of the psycho-physical form, against non-psyker targets have led to non-psyker infections. On the bright side, it is noted that if the adult form does not directly infect others, killing or banishing it *will* end the individual threat. Unfortunately there tends to be alot more than one. To reiterate: psychic threat akin to possession. Killing the psyker typically spawns larvae though sometimes adults. Killing the larvae usually stops them, but also sometimes precipitates metamorphoses into adult. Adult forms are exceedingly potent psycho-daemonic foes, but killing them promptly will end their threat. I’m afraid that’s essentially all I can give you,”

He clenches his hands, answers a few questions from the Janissaries and the other acolytes. The answers are typically helpful yet worrying.

Explicator Talon takes the floor.

“We are well acquainted with the foes of Inquisitor Pitgober. Our previous master, the heretic Sale, is a noted Occularian, a sect of industrious seers obsessed with divining or otherwise obtaining foreknowledge of the future. It is expected that due to Theta Cell’s previous involvement in matters Haarlockian, peers of Sales within this sect will most likely have pieced together sufficient knowledge to ascertain that Mara is a site of prime importance; we expect powerful psionic or malefic opposition from them, but we can bolster our expectations by the fact that such concentrations and obsessions have as yet proven largely fruitless.

“A second more insidious threat is now well-known to us. The Pilgrims of Hayte, a cult devoted to the ruinous powers, inspired by the Haarlock’s machinations in the past year, are undoubtedly in pursuit. From what Pitgober could extract from the vaults on Scintilla, they too are thought to possess immense malefic prowess. More particularly it is expected that they are to use more potent, aggressive techniques than the Occularians, certainly not baulking at the possibility of the use of their own daemonhosts or abominable mutants. Their threat is likely erratic and though formidable we also expect it to be increasingly disorganised due to their lack of proper infrastructure or direct resources.

“Though it may come as a surprise to you, Inquisitor Marr has furnished us with some extensive information which I had been instructed to conceal from Inquisitor Pitgober. I believe I failed in this task, but that Pitgober recognised the Imperative of Marr upon my actions and has reconciled them. Nevertheless, the woman who rescued you from Quaddis is rumoured to be (and in Marr’s eyes, factually is) a senior Logician agent. The Logicians are a further heretical sect closely allied to many branches of tech-heretics,” she cast her eyes squarely upon Petr at this point. Though he remained motionless, everyone was sure they read deep ire, almost enraged embarrassment. “They believe in sacrificing the religious orthodoxy of the Mechanicus in favour of some oddball, wild philosophy pushing naive investigation in favour of relentless, rigorous application of sacred lore. You may recall the Churgeon of Coscarla, she was a fellow Logician agent. We have reason to suspect that Uriah Tahr was involved with Logician lore, but feel this is a side point. They are known to be in possession of sufficient facts to lead them to Mara, therefore we expect their presence. In what number and with what forces we do not yet know, their resources have been minimal, but their heretical capital is perhaps enough for them to have secured the aide of others.

“Given the nature of the devices we have seen of the Haarlock’s estates so far, two bound daemons, an infernal astromantic engine of unspeakable power, the apparition of the Tyrant Star, a future-scyring automaton and a proliferation of chronometric anomalies, not to mention the overwhelming number of enemies and heretical allies known to have been made by agents of the Haarlock line, I can cynically expect no shortage of opponents. One unifying factor in all these threats, be they the mutant, the alien, the heretic or the infernal machine, all are under the purview of the Inquisition and, if Inquisitor Sale’s actions are any example, any Inquisitors associated with the matter are viewed as suspect and unreliable.

“If I might infer some speculation of my own, I would not be wholly surprised if we found Inquisitors Marr and Pitgober breaking the cordon to pursue the Blind Tesseract themselves. I believe it was you, Petr,” said Talon. She motioned at the Sollexan priest, carefully observing his reaction. “Who indicated that we may well be bait. I concur, though enormous weight rests upon our shoulders and I will not see us fail, I cannot countenance the fact that we are possessed of complete knowledge of the situation. We will be surprised, we will face foes of no unsubtle power. I would therefore raise the point that we may find ourselves in direct conflict with Inquisitors who are neither Pitgober nor Marr. I ask that you steel yourselves for this possibility and carefully consider your loyalty to the God-Emperor on Earth before committing yourself to a particular plan of action. For now, we have our orders and despite the terrifying prospects we face, I attest that our greatest fear is failing Him.”

She nodded silently, closing her eyes in prayer-like fealty.

Sergeant Childre took the floor next, dressed in shipboard pre-deployment fatigues. His voice was stern and largely monotone, the dreary attributes of Maccabeus Quintus clearly portrayed in the absence of inflection.

“It should be noted that we will be making planetfall with a party precisely equal to the largest known successful expedition to Mara. Consider your gear and your equipment, we shall be making planetfall as soon as Captain Xail deems it feasible. He has asked me to relay that his Navigators indicate mere hours to breaching realspace. We have our tasks and the Emperor protects.”

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