Of Great and Terrible Things

By ThenDoctor, in Dark Heresy Play By Mail/Email

((No, I already rolled their test to see of the armsmen noticed the weapons, and she reported it in, so they know you're armed.))

((If nobody moves to challenge us, we'll keep walking towards the meeting point.))

((You are unattested to the meeting room, I just wanted another round of dialogue.))

As they walk through the crowds and pass a particularly loud procession of chanting tech-adepts, Balthazar ducks a whirring censer bearing servo-skull. Once among somewhat quieter crowds, he turns to address the two Sisters.

((I'll make a Common Lore (Adepta Sororitas) check to see how much Balthazar knows about their order. Target number is 40 with Infused Knowledge. Rolled a 67 for 3 DoF.))

"I must confess that my knowledge of your order is limited. A small delegation of Sororitas once visited Thaur to pay their respects to a fallen ally, but I did not have a chance to speak with them. Few Sisters seek burial on Thaur; I presume your convents have tomb complexes of their own?"

Ariel's eyes narrowed slightly at the priest's harrowing tale. Certainly, the body was but a shell, with a person's immortal soul ascending to join the Emperor, yet still the remains of people were to be treated with reverence -- especially when it was done to honour their achievements in a life dedicated to the Master of Mankind.

As if on cue, a servo-skull darted by, trailing a plume of incense. A perfect example of how the Imperium rewarded its heroes, servo-skulls, Ariel knew, were often fashioned from the bones of Guardsmen who died in the line of duty, allowing them to continue their service even in death.

The cleric's question refocused her attention.

"Many heroes of the Sisterhood are buried on Ophelia Seven, stretching back to the formation of the orders", she explained dutifully. "I believe it is customary for each convent to have its own burial grounds. Even on Holy Terra."

She emphasized the last words with a hint of pride, for space on mankind's overcrowded cradle would certainly come at a premium. Of course, the novice could merely recite what she was being told by others.

"Still, many of our Sisters are buried elsewhere, too. Worlds where they were martyred for the Creed", she ended.

Edited by Lynata

The rest of the trip to the meeting room is uneventful, as you move out of the throng of people moving to leave Kappex the hallways thin themselves and eventually you are only passing servitors and tech wrights moving to and fro along with the occasional armsmen on a round.

The door to meeting room C is completely innocuous, in fact, it is just like the rest of the meeting rooms of Alpha through Zeta. A mat grey door with a simple enough looking locking mechanism towards the right of it allowing for it to swing inwards.

The group find themselves at this door at 0645, and from behind the door they hear what may be discerned as a conversation and the faint singing of a Sororitas hymn.


((Another concurrent scene.))

We see a view screen from the eyes of various recording devices.

"So what do we have on room C?"

This is a male voice and it would appear to be coming from the visage that is viewing the silent pic screen, however we are viewing it from their back so their face is not visible.

-"I will retrieve the schedule at once m'lord." A calm and monotone voice replies in a fairly androgynous manner.

Estelia glances at Ariel before knocking three times in the door to Meeting Room C.

((If either of the other characters wants to stop her they can))

((Nope, go ahead.))

Neither interfering nor raising her voice, Ariel still shoots a disapproving glance at Estelia before eyeing the priest. The ordained cleric did not seem to object to the other novice taking the lead, however, so she mentally prepared herself for what may await the trio behind the metal door.

The group hears the singing stop mid hymn, the conversation had ended before the prayer began and a shuffling is heard to the door. It is opened a half inch and a gleaming pink eye leers at the group behind a pale white face.

Recognizing the group she opens the door staying behind it to allow you in.

((Forgive me for making your characters do something, but i"ve a family reunion to go to this evening and tomorrow as well so I want to give you something to discuss.))

As you shuffle in you are greeted to spartan meeting quarters, a rectangular table sits in front of you and along its length are 3 chairs on one side, and one on the other with a few dataslates and the remains of the breakfast we saw earlier.

In front of each seat is a simple breakfast.

"I took the liberty of procuring a breakfast befitting something you'd be used to. Please have a seat, we have plenty to discuss."

((What is the breakfast that is sitting in the chairs for you?))

This woman closes the door behind you and walks over to the single chair on the other side of the table.

We see her now as before in simple Ministorum robes with short cut white hair, she is clutching a Chaplet Ecclesiasticus. We notice now that she has a red fleur-de-lis tattoo under her left eye.

Both Ariel and Estelia can recognize right away that this woman is Sororitas but not much more specific than her general appearance.

Estelia makes the sign of the Aquila to the senior Sororitas, and moves silently to the table. Before her is a small loaf of coarse bread, a cup of water, and a Ministorum-issue ration bar. The same breakfast she had been eating every day since she left the Schola.

Knowing her place, Estelia sits at the table and looks to the Sister, waiting for her permission or further instruction. She had lost too many meals at the Convent to risk being anything but attentive and courteous at a time like this.

Edited by Servant of Dante

Balthazar's place at the table has a bowl of porridge and some bread with a glass of water. There are a few fresh bloodberries on the top of the porridge, just like there were during berry season on Thaur. Priests of his order allowed themselves few luxuries, since most of their efforts focused on tending to the dead. The berries were their one indulgence, and they bring a slight smile to Balthazar's face.

Balthazar returns the sign of the Aquila and sits down at his place. He says a prayer of thanks to the Emperor after the three Acolytes are seated, then begins to eat.

Edited by Covered in Weasels

Noting the tattoo as well as the icon, Ariel's eyes widen slightly in recognition and puzzlement, though she does not give voice to her puzzlement. As always, she would listen and look for further cues to ponder, provided the strange woman would not explain herself within the next few minutes anyways. It seemed obvious that their host had a background in the Sisterhood, yet her garments missed the usual combination of utilitarian shape and graceful ornamentation that would otherwise provide an explanation as to a Sister's role. In the convent, she had heard whispers about a secretive branch of the Sororitas working in the shadows, forced to deny their true identity in pursuit of their mission -- perhaps, Ariel wondered, this woman would be one of them?

Following the other two into the meeting room, the dark-skinned novice proceeded to first set down her shotgun, its bulky barrel now leaning against the table. She'd never admit it, but the weapon was just as heavy as it looked, and part of her regretted not having opted for something lighter like Estelia did. Of course, hardship was part of the Sisters' way of life, so it was well that she'd tax herself in this manner. Besides, this was nothing compared to what they had to endure in the Schola.

Eyeing the other novice, Ariel had apparently decided to wait with touching their nourishments as well -- though her eyes wandered further to study the priest's meal, a treacherous expression of curiosity and longing flashing over her face.

((I may just not be describing the robes well. They say Vestements on her sheet, and she's a Sister Superior, but my knowledge fails at that point. So if they should be looking different let me know and I'll edit the post appropriately.))

The woman gestures with her hand to the two novices.

"I am not your superior here, well not in the way a convent works, you don't need my permission to eat. That's something you'll have to get used to." She says with lightheartedness in her voice.

"I hope the berries are to your liking Father Thorne, they were a bit difficult to get ahold of our here, even on the trade routes as we are." She smiles a bit mischievously to the novices and draws out a small bowl with some more of the berries, "There are a few more, if you're curious. I must say, I was as well"

She does not seem overly worried either way and leaves the bowl on the table to anyone who might have some of them.

((What does a Bloodberry taste like Thorne?))

"Now, first and foremost, I'm sure there are some baseline questions you have for me, I'd rather handle these before we get into the crux of the matter. Introductions, my name is Inelia I am a Sister Superior of the Order of the Valorous Heart, I have been in the service of the Inquisition for a time, and will continue to be for the time being."

Edited by ThenDoctor

Estelia looks from Inellia to the berries to the Priest, and back to the berries. Then, shrugging, she takes a few and puts them before her before she starts eating.

She was certainly still very curious about the Sister Superior, but did not want to ask imprudent questions, at least, not until she was sure the Sister would not anwser it without her asking.

As she ate, Estelia could not help but look at Inellia. Her pale features where strange, almost unnerving. Where had she lost her arm (or however much of the arm was cybernetic, for the Sisters robe covered all but the hand)? She looked rather young, and her eyes -

Estelia quickly looked away from the Sister, a small shiver running down her spine as she continued her meal.

Glancing once more towards the other novice, Ariel indulges her curiosity and reaches across the table to pick up a single berry. Her arm, still half-extended, pauses for a moment as the woman introduces herself, before finally retracting to the girl's chest.

Rotating the berry between thumb, index and middle finger, she seems to await further explanations, her eyes resting on the Sister Superior's face -- or rather, her mouth and nose, for she did not dare make eye contact out of respect for the other Sororitas' rank.

((Bloodberries are deep red, ovoid berriesabout a centimeter long. They taste something like a combination between raspberries and cherries.))

Looking at the trio expectantly she nods understandingly.

"I see, well, I could always demand questions of you, but I'm sure what we will be discussing can provoke enough thoughts as it is."

She shuffles through a couple of data slates and pull a particular one out.

"Upon the planet Juno there is the Order of the Watchful Eye, a detachment of the Ordo Famulous. As is their duty they've spend the past few years setting up a marriage between two factions of power that will prove beneficial to the Imperium as a whole.

Rogue Trader House Luftius, and their Lady Captain Hesiah Luftius, and Consortium Merchant Magnate Tyras Rosa of House Rosa are set to be married. Provided these last few things are smoothed over.

Lady Hesiah has gone missing, but this isn't going to be your purview, she frequents the Xenos Ruins within the wastes of Desoleum, and is likely spending her last bit of time being single on her own.

Your concern is Tyras, House Rosa has been under the Inquisition's eye for some time. Their rise to prominence has been subject to many rumors, particularly those concerning the fall of Skydock 4/4.

Any questions so far?"

She waits patiently and takes a sip of recaff.

Most of what the Sister said made little sense to Estelia. She of course knew of the Orders Famulous, but she had only a superficial understanding of how they operated. Xeno ruins? That sounded unpleasant to say the least. She decided to focus on what Inellia had said would be their assignment.

She realized that she had no idea where to begin, but there where a few things she could ask.

"Um . . . who are House Rosa? What is Skydock 4/4, and what happened to it?"

Estelia waited for the Sister's response, obviously uncomfortable with the questions she asked.

For the moment, Ariel was patiently nibbling on the berry she had picked up, enjoying the rare, succulent taste. A part of her felt guilty for indulding in such decadence, but the Sister Superior's permission helped a great deal to assuage her anxiety.

As she ate, she listened intently to the conversation unfolding before her eyes, which would continue to switch between the present company depending on who would speak at a given moment. Ariel herself remained quiet for the time being, silently thankful for Estelia to voice the questions she herself would withhold. She trusted the older woman to relay all information they would need to accomplish their mission, but at the same time she saw the value in explaining contextually sensitive information right away.

The last of the berry disappeared between her lips, briefly followed by an index, then a middle finger, before she reached for the water cup.

Balthazar eats his food slowly, paying attention to the conversation. "I am also curious about Skydock 4/4. What exactly happened there, and does anything indicate that there was malicious intent behind its fall?"

((Can't post at the moment, works busy and I need my notes to answer the questions. Hopefully something tonight but it's Tuesday, sorry for the bad timing.))

Edited by ThenDoctor

"Um . . . who are House Rosa? What is Skydock 4/4, and what happened to it?"

"Very good questions Estelia." She inclined. Such curiosity could be dangerous, but such is the way of things in the Inquisition. A narrow mind see far, but a wider gaze sees threats.

"To explain who House Rosa is, it is indeed easier to begin with what Skydock 4/4 was and it's fall.

For untold centuries, Desoleum Skydock 4/4 served as a trading hub utilised by the numerous merchant concerns operating across the sector and beyond, in particular those that would sooner deal with trade brokers than directly with the Consortium.

It offered the numerous services such wealthy clientèle highly valued, from null-chambers in which the most secret and delicate negotiations could be conducted without fear of intrusion, to stasis vaults in which any treasure imaginable could be deposited for a day, a year, or a century.

Eventually it became known as the destination for criminal concerns eager to provide every luxury or vice the wealthy visitors could demand.

One day it simply closed its void locks, purged its seals and silenced its beacons."

"I am also curious about Skydock 4/4. What exactly happened there, and does anything indicate that there was malicious intent behind its fall?"

"All witnesses state it appeared for all the world as if it had suffered a catastrophic reactor failure, or some other such disaster.

All who raced, for loot or help, found that the armored hull could not be breached and the airlocks appeared sealed from within.

Later when the hull was breached it was discovered that the Skydock had been purged and sealed deliberately, and not a single life remained within. No bodies have ever been found.

Common explanations are a rogue machine spirit, but no senior tech-priests that inspected the issue (never stepping foot there) agree with this summation.

All agree that the best course of action was to let the station’s orbit degrade normally and burn up in the atmosphere. This should’ve taken around 30 decades."

She looks to Ariela pointedly.

"That was fifty years ago, and Skydock 4/4 remains in the exact same orbit."

She sighs looking down and moving the data slate she is holding picking up a new one.

"It has become active again in an unofficial capacity, and there are many rumors as to who is in command.

Namely that the exact date the trading house of Rosa received its charter ro operate in Askellian space was the same date many rival houses unknowingly lost a fortune in assets that were in Skydock’s stasis vaults.

Recently investigations reveal that House Rosa appears to have made legal claim to the charter under which Skydock 4/4 operated. The claim has been lodged with the Consortium of Desoleum, and is therefore impenetrable to those unfamiliar with Desoleum’s mercantile idioms.

Attempts to insert acolytes into positions to be able to learn something of the truth have been made and none have proven fruitful, and many have not returned at all."

She finishes off the recaff that she is drinking, after having spoken so much.

"This is where you come in. The Ordo Famulus is very...interested in getting this marriage to go through for a few reasons, but we have to quell these rumors hanging over House Rosa first. There is another team handling the Lady Captain.

Are there any questions at this point?"

Ariel blinked, lowering the cup after having taken a sip of water. The liquid was cool and pleasant to her throat.

"This means...", she probed cautiously, "that this claim prevents an official investigation? The Adeptus Arbites cannot simply quarantine a station with such an ominous history?"

It seemed the girl already knew or at least expected to know the answer to this question, but was interested in how this situation came to be. Certainly, to one such as her, unaccustomed to life outside the convent walls, such details of local politics must appear rather disorderly, missing the firm guidance that had so far dominated her entire life.

Another question, one of doubt, began to form in her mind, though she did not lend a voice to it yet. Just how in the Emperor's name were they supposed to enter this place if so many other missions had already failed? The novices had no experience with pretending to be an unassuming local, much less with covert operations into what sounded suspiciously like a den of villainy. She was beginning to see the problem with those rumours.

Estelia nodded as Ariel spoke, curious to hear the answer.

At the same time, the girl was confused. Those on the station where either heretics or they where not, right? If they are heretics, they are to be purged, if they are loyal, then there is nothing to be worried about, but the rumors . . . Regardless, the Novice added her own, "and how do we go about . . . investigating . . .such rumors?"

Even before Inellia began her response, Estelia realized that their assignment would not be as simple as she had assumed it to be.