Our intrepid Explorers had defeated Killian’s Bane in the basement vault of the capital city on False Hope. Upon returning to the surface with a piece of the beast, Captain Harvlesk informed Governor Bosch that the vermin had been cleared out of the palace and some servitor teams would be along to clean up the mess. Bosch was most grateful for his assistance. Silas, Quell, Cornelius, and Dmitri returned to the Voidwalker’s Salvation in the Aquila while Vir took the chimera back towards the tech priest bunker. The Captain stayed behind to oversee the retrieval operation and spend some time talking to the Governor.
On the flight back, Quell received a telepathic communication from Sebastian.
clunk… clunk… Quell, you wanted me to inform you if Inessa awoke. She is awake. I can sense her. Clunk… clunk…
Yes, yes, alright. Tell Cornelius. I’m sure he’ll want to administer to her soul.
clunk… clunk… Very well…. Clunk… clunk…
CLUNK CLUNK… MISSIONARY CORNELIUS. QUELL HAS INFORMED ME TO TELL YOU THAT INESSA IS AWAKE IN THE MEDICAL BAY. SHE WILL REQUIRE YOUR ATTENTION. CLUNK… CLUNK…
After Cornelius was recovering from the sudden headache that communicating with Sebastian caused, he told Quell that he would be happy to look after Inessa.
Upon arriving at the Voidwalker, the command crew went their separate ways. Silas checked on the bridge and reported to the Captain that all was nominal, then went to bed. Dmitri went to check-in with his network before heading to his bed chambers in the Navigator section. Quell told Cornelius exactly where to find Inessa and then went to bed. Cornelius felt the burden of his duty to the Emperor and chose to visit Inessa before resting.
Dmitri learned that three things had been happening on-board since you’ve left 1) some kind of strange cough is taking to some of the crew and 2) people have started regularly saying “I can’t say” instead of “no.” Its becoming a ship-slang figure of speech. Dmitri then wrapped his affairs and went to bed.
Cornelius arrived at the medical bay to talk to the Chief Medical Officer and quickly learned that about 5% of the crew had this strange cough but he was treating their humours correctly and expected they should be well soon. Then Cornelius asked him…
“The psyker, Inessa, is she here?”
“She was discharged not too long ago.”
“Who discharged her?”
“I can’t say.”
“What do you mean? Where is she now?”
“I can’t say.”
“Crewman, you will answer me. It’s a yes or no question. Do you know where she is?”
“I can’t say.”
Cornelius smacks him across the jaw.
“Sir! Why did you strike me?”
“You are being insubordinate. I only want a yes or no answer to this question. Do you know where she is?”
“I can’t say.”
“Cornelius to security. Kalus get a detail down here to arrest the Medical Officer for insubordination and have him flogged. He is a possible heretic.”
Kalus – “Right away.”
“But-… But, sir! I answered your question directly. You said it was a yes or I can’t say question and I answered you with ‘I can’t say, sir!’ How else can I answer you?”
The security detail arrived in seconds. “Men, this man is a heretic. Don’t listen to his lies. Drag him to the brig and flog him.”
As he was dragged away, he screamed, “I CAN’T SAY! Sir! Please I CAN’T SAY! Don’t make them do this! Sir!!”
Cornelius moved through the medical bay and determined that she had been released less than an hour ago. He quickly contacted Quell to notify him and headed towards Quell’s quarters. Quell for his part contacted Sebastian.
clunk… clunk. Yes, Quell.
Is everything alright? I have a report that Inessa is free and there may be trouble.
clunk… clunk… No, everything is fine here.
Have you seen her?
clunk… clunk… No, she hasn’t come by the astropath quarters…
Be wary. She may be dangerous. Contact me as soon as you sense her.
Quell thought it was strange that Sebastian would sign off without his constant finger tapping. In fact, he’d never heard that before. Quell decided to check for the Damarus inferno pistol in his safe and sure-enough, it was gone. He contacted security and asked them to check the recordings for around his room. Security responded that he had entered his room over an hour ago, but that didn’t make sense because the other records showed him off-ship at that time. The video logs had a strange switching motion… almost like the track was skipping every few milliseconds. But, they couldn’t isolate the cause or explain what was happening. Cornelius arrived at Quell’s quarters and Quell informed him that the last time there was this kind of trouble it was happening on the Observation Deck. So they quickly headed there.
Upon arrival at the Observation Deck, Quell saw that it had been completely cleaned. No furniture was present yet, but the whole place had a faint antiseptic smell. As they stood and looked around the darkened quiet location the light from the pulsar faintly washed over the deck. Cornelius noticed the faint image of a naked, glowing woman standing in the middle of the deck. They discussed it and Quell believed it was some part of Inessa that was left here. Quell contacted Security and notified Kalus that the guards who were watching Inessa should be considered compromised. Kalus ordered all squads to shoot them on-sight. The captain was notified of the situation and he and Vir began making their way back to the ship. Dmitri and Silas were called while Quell and Cornelius made their way to the Astropath quarters.
In those quarters they quickly discovered that something was VERY wrong. First of all, the security detail that had been sent to investigate screamed and then went silent. The two-man detail was sitting on the floor of the hallway outside the quarters nearly catatonic. Secondly, there were clearly astropaths there but they felt distant or not present somehow. Upon further investigation, Inessa’s room was empty except for some random drawings along the walls. The next room held a horrific sight… Winston, one of the lesser astropaths, was laid out upon his bed his kidneys removed and placed over his eyes, his hands severed and crossed where his feet would be, his feet severed and crossed above his head. The whole room reeked of Chaos ritual murder. The captain enacted the Emperor’s mercy upon the security detail such that they would no longer have to witness such horror.
Then, in Sebastian’s room, they found him sitting sat with his back to the door clearly locked in some kind of mental struggle. Dmitri broke his connection to the warp and brought him back to his senses. Sebastian informed the crew that Inessa had run amok and had braced all of them in their quarters. Upon checking on the other astropaths, they found Regilus similarly murdered while Holt and Kennoch remained locked in mental battle. The crew shepherded them to the Navigator’s quarters to get more help and asked security to check on the video files outside the astropath quarters. A similar flicker was noticed. The captain and Vir ordered them to follow it… and it flickered straight to the Observation Deck.
The crew successfully got the remaining astropaths to the Navigator quarters. Dmitri turned over his watch of Sebastian to his companions and they were able to rouse Kennoch as well, but Holt remains locked in mental battle even as some navigators watch him for signs of changes. A security detail was assigned to stop anyone from entering the hallway that leads to the astropath quarters.
Security and Vir traced the flickering camera anomaly down the corridors and to the Observation Deck. The command crew quickly made their way there. Upon arriving, they saw Inessa, or perhaps what was once Inessa. The figure was floating half a meter above the floor with her arms stretched out to either side. She glowed with a sickly light and all over her body were wrappings of some kind of cloth or thread. As she looked at the command crew, her mouth opened wide and light emanated from her mouth and eye sockets in all directions……… (to be continued next time).