The Flight of Wellington


A crew is formed
It is a strange group that boards the elevator down to the ship auction. A human stands at their fore, his hand rested on the fine sword at his hilt and a look of perpetual disdain cast upon his face. Behind him towers a Troll, uncommon outside of their home-flotilla, clad in robes and leaning heavily upon a gnarled wooden stick. At the very back of the elevator lingers a female Elf, leaning casually against the back wall while casually flicking bursts of mana between her hands. Easy to miss the Gnome lurks far below eye height, his flight goggles and woolen coat marking him out as a pilot, while the tools at his belt imply less savoury work. The Dwarf who meets the now opening elevator is a different matter, impossible to miss in his padded red coat and fiddling idly with a small drone that floats alongside him.
They had come from far and wide, ranging from the priesthood of Dust to the home-ships of the Troll flotilla. They had all been summoned by a mutual associate, with the promise of forming a crew for a ship just come into his possession. For as disparate as their histories may be, the lure to become a Gravity Jack was always the same. Cash in hand, no questions asked…

Part I: Keys to Infinity

Disembarking in New Osaka

Chapter I: Tugboat

Security responds to a disturbance in the Spar 17 Megamart

When a spindly troll whipped past him, robes flapping and arms laden with a drizzling soft-serve machine, he thought he must have mis-seen. Next came a dazzling elf, her beauty somewhat spoiled by a thick coat of what was apparently fishy tar and a dusting of sherbet. Magrup the delivery-orc was a simple fellow, who had scarcely spared a thought for the affairs of the wider universe in his short life. Thus he was quite unprepared for the day that he found himself looking down the barrel of a supermarket aisle - a bellowing dwarf hurtling towards him with a fully-loaded trolley - as the shelves around him shredded apart in a storm of lasers.

[The group gains a ship]
In the vast metropolis of New Osaka the would-be crew meet their associate at Barrett's coffee house and auctioneer. Their contact, Whisker, is a Goblin, with the usual hard-to-trust expression of his people immediately commented upon by the Troll Alver. He buys the group a round of drinks and sushi, which eases tensions somewhat, before getting to the matter at hand. He has noticed a ship come up for auction that he thought could use a crew such as theirs, a newly vacated transport he refers to as "the Tugboat". The Gnome and Dwarf are swiped a holo-pack and after a few minutes of contemplation inform the others that the vessel is old, damaged, but reliable. A flush of relief comes across the Goblin's face, as he begins to discuss details with the group.

The ship was vacated by it's old captain after his criminal organisation was compromised by an internal leak, and contained all the components needed for a Gravity Jack crew to operate. That is, bar their namesake. A ship of this sort needs a 'gravity jack', an item that can shut down the mageotech on a ship to allow its salvage. Whisker comments that he knows the location of a 'jack', but that other problems were more pressing. There were two other buyers present for the secret auction: One, a scientist by the name of Dr Leon, seems a stressed man running from something and strikes up a friendship with the Dwarf, Driv. The other, the enigmatic "Mr Brown" rebuffs all attempts to engage him in conversation, particularly scornful of the advances of the elf Syrinx. The private auction began, and with Driv assuring the alliance of Dr Leon the group was able to purchase the ship, albeit while emptying most of their personal savings. Dr Leon agrees to pay his share of the ship on the condition he is given free no-questions transport whenever he requires it, a deal that is appealing to the newly formed Jack crew. The group is joined by a gleeful Whisker, and negotiations take place that arrange the Goblin as the crew's manager and seneschal, with the acceptable cost of 15% of all future profits.

The gravity jack that Whisker knows of is not a jack per say, but rumours of an Airfolk Bard who was gathering the items with which to create one. The Bard had gone missing near an asteroid collecting Diamondstar, one of the core ingredients of a gravity jack. The group accepts Whisker's contract, having their personal possessions sent to be loaded aboard their new ship. In the meantime the ship needed to be supplied, and the crew took to the local Mega-Mart to purchase the needed items. Food and other provisions are easily acquired, while the camping section is boonful in the form of mag-lamps and other survival equipment. The store is pitifully short on Void-Suits however, with only the human Briar able to acquire one by cashing in a personal cred-stick. Trolleys packed with useful equipment, and one largely broken and discounted holo-graphic regicide kit, the crew move towards the Mega-Mart cashiers. It is then that the overweight security guard on the front desk looks up from his holo-slate. In front of him, clearly marked with a "[Wanted]" sign in red script are the faces of the crew. He wipes the donut dust from his chin and raises a shaking finger to point at the crew…

Driv notices the guards pointed finger first, and in response raises his auto-catapult, hosing the entrance to the shop with bullets. More private security guards come running at the sound of gunfire, these men wearing kevlar vests and wielding laser pistols. The guards are outmatched, as the crew returns fire and cause them to fall back, with Briar cutting down any who tried to move into the aisles of the shop with his sword. Bullets splatter across the store, throwing all manner of bizarre splashes and splooshes onto all parties involved as the firefight intensifies. Eventually more guards arrived and the crew was forced to fall back. Driv dragged the trolleys full of gear as Alver finds a back entrance through the shops frozen storage. At the rear of the store they find Whisker waiting in his grav van, concern painted across his face at the nearby sirens and evident las-scorches on the armour of some of the crew. The grav-trolleys are bundled aboard the van, as well as some items looted from the store during the firefight. Driv drops some erotic holo-mags onto the floor of the van, which are soon joined by a pair of laser rifles and a longer barrelled huntsman's las rifle. In the corner of the van sits a hastily detached ice-cream machine, in relation to which Alver gives a shrug and a smile. As sirens get closer the van swoops off down the alleyway in a smoke of mana-fumes.

The hover van burns through the streets of New Osaka, pursued by a trio of private security forces on bikes. These guards do not mess around, hosing the back of the van with laser fire as it swerves in and out of traffic on the N65 freeway. Briar and Syrinx smash out the back window of the van with the butts of their rifles and return fire, clipping one bike. He veers off into an oncoming bullet train, vanishing in a buff of blood and fire. The van narrowly misses the train, pulling off the freeway into a nearby park. Dodging trees and shrubberies the second security bike is dealt with as Alver throws his robes onto the mans helmet and he careens into a small decorative lake. The final biker stays with the van, passing through a school and the filming of the teen-drama 'Osaka High', before eventually being shot off his bike by the laser volleys of Syrinx. Their pursuers dealt with, the Gnome Thinkfinkle drove the van at speed to the ships dock.

At Spar 17 the ship is waiting, broad and metallic it is not conventionally attractive, but for the freedom it represents. Whisker backs the truck straight into the cargo hold, before leaping out and high-tailing it towards the end of the runway. As Thinkfink bundles towards the cockpit Driv begins to run the ship through it's take off procedures, mumbling under his breath about having to entirely overhaul the engines. Pot shots from Syrinx and Alver keep the private security mercenaries away from the ship as fuel lines are detached and mag-clamps disabled. Then with a might roar and burst of mana-flare the ship takes flight. The ship's resident AI "Voodoo" introduces himself, and proves to be a helpful and unobtrusive guide to the functioning of the ship. Some hours later the group gathers around the slightly las-ridden ice-cream machine, sharing a frosty treat in their dented metal bowls. A vote is held, and after some heated but friendly discussion the name of the ship is declared to be the Wellington.

Chapter II: Occupy

Terraforming Arcs on a sanctuary moon

A sanctuary resort has been severely damaged, and nine guests are in a critical condition following a suspected eco-terrorist attack on Shangri La. The perpetrators, believed to be members of an extreme environmentalist group, fled the scene after triggering a series of explosions during a botched stick-up. Officers on the scene described the attacks as "cowardly," saying the extremists had engaged in a "crime-spree" prior to the attacks.

"The suspects are thought to have terrorised local children, assaulted and burgled a security officer, set loose a known troublemaker from the stockade, and burned down the revolving restaurant. We have also recovered remains of one animal and at least three individuals who were fatally assaulted with improvised weapons including cutlery."

Authorities are questioning witnesses, but have dismissed initial reports that the group was linked to offworld ice-cream merchants.

[Stick-up on Shangri La]
The joy of freedom is short lived for the crew of the Wellington, as a grave faced Driv informs them they ship was only half fueled when they took off, and would need to stop if it was to reach the asteroid where the Airfolk bard is thought to be. The nearest port is Shangri-la, a terraformed moon famed for it's archaic yet extravagant resort. Shangri-la is idyllic, with holidaying families picnicking on the shoes of the shining blue lake and vast green hills of lab-grown nature. Below the twinkling silver-white resort the town of Barton-Barton is carved into the surface of the moon, and it is amongst these rusted metallic formations that the Wellington rests down. Syrinx and Briar don their upper-class garb and head to resort via auto-carriage to gather information about the Airfolk bard, thinking that he passed this way. Meanwhile Alver has received a vision that instructs him to go looking for a man held captive in the lower city, and he ventures down there with Thinkfink and Driv.

The city of Barton-Barton is a far cry from the resort above, burrowed into the moon and obviously aiming for function over form. It is occupied by mainly staff from the resort, and the group pass through unremarked. They find the man from Alver's vision in a makeshift stockade in the centre of town, with a group of children throwing comically large rotten cabbages at him accompanied by bouts of laughter. Driv gets an increasingly familiar look in his eye and begins to threaten a nearby security guard, tasked with protecting the prisoner. As he attempts to convince the guard that he has a gun in his coat Alver stands to the full of his Trollish height and scares away the children with a roar. The guard, unsure of what exactly is going on begins to run back to his guard-post, shadowed by a sneaky Thinkfink. With the observers gone the group frees the man in the cage, who introduces himself as Preston, a priest and mercenary. In thanks for freeing him he offers the party the pay from his last mission, which the cash-strapped group gladly accept. He also offers to accompany them on their mission, payed at the normal rate, which Alver and Driv agree to. The Barton-Barton group soon find themselves at the 'Can of Worms', a bar and machine workshop where the drinks and engine fluids are one and the same. Preston buys a round for the group, and they use their newly found money to purchase an engineers workbench for the Wellington. Alver finds himself the subject of a lengthy rant by a group of Elven environmentalists about the dangers of terraforming, and spends almost an hour listening to the well rehearsed rantings of the dreadlocked hippy. Meanwhile Thinkfink manages to sneak his way into a tent occupied by more of the dissenters, and engages in a rather intense mana-leaf smoking session, the purple smoke filling the sealed tent and engaging the Gnome for hours to come.

Elsewhere Briar and Syrinx discuss matters with the resort customers in a drinks lounge far above. Many remember the Bard passing through this area 3 months ago, as the passage of the famous tree-singer Zioli would warrant. Rumours persist of him singing a large oak tree into existence down in Barton-Barton, and despite many people knowing he was heading for a comet he apparently shared little more information with those present. It is revealed however that the Bard met with a representative from Lightning Dynamics, a magical engineering firm, and had a human apprentice, which is most uncommon. With little more information to be gained Syrinx and Briar mingle with the rich resort residents, drink fine wine and enjoy their night away from the rust and general stink of the Wellington.

Both parties meet back on the ship in the afternoon, and Driv gets to work setting up his new work bench. Alver confines himself to his cabin and comes out an hour later covered in sweat, having performed a seance. He reports having seen a vision of Briar ducking behind a table as gunfire spewed overhead. The group seems to take this warning very seriously, going to increasingly ridiculous lengths to attempt to hide weapons about their person for their dinner with Dr Leon up at the resort. The Doctor had found alternative transport back to Earth, and had offered the group dinner to thank them for their help. Never willing to turn down a free meal they had accepted, but some had refused to shed their armour, despite the higher class establishment they were attending. This paranoia did not stop when they were at the restaurant, with the newcomer Preston electing to stay outside and Thinkfink palming a steak knife from the table as a makeshift weapon. Their suspicions are proven correct when from outside the facility is heard a siren wailing, Preston having spotted approaching hostile figures and activated his loud-hailer.

The men approaching the restaurant appear to be the environmentalists from Barton-Barton, now wielding a mixed assortment of rifles and shotguns. Alongside them pad giant komodo dragons, grown beyond the size of nature by byomantic magic. The would-be bandits move into the restaurant, firing shots into the air and shouting for everyone to hand over their valuables. By the time they realised how poorly they had planned the attack it was too late. From behind one group laser fire spits into their backs, Syrinx having concealed herself and now firing upon them from behind. As they dash forward they are met by Driv standing behind the bar, having fashioned himself molotov cocktails out of expensive alcohol. As Driv flings flaming bottles at one group the other is met by Briar, who emerges from the kitchen with a large cleaver and proceeds to drive it into the skull of the first bandit he meets. With their morale completely broken the bandits begin to flee, many trailing smoke from their flaming forms. One stumbles blindly, not realising until too late he had staggered into the gas-tanks for the industrial ovens in the kitchen. The tanks ignite in a massive burst of flaming pressure, completely incinerating those closest to it and blasting the others off of their feet. As the smoke clears the crew of the Wellington flee, knowing they would be blamed for this catastrophe.

As the smoke still pours atop the resort the group reform at the Wellington, and with the ship fully fuelled begin preparations to leave as soon as possible. Driv sets a course for the comet the Bard was rumoured to be heading towards, and Thinkfinkle takes the ship out of dock, sirens once again ringing from below them. Syrinx sees to the wounds of Briar and Preston, both heavily burned by the explosion that destroyed the restaurant. Some days pass without incident, Driv managing to get some of the damaged old void-suits functional and a chess tournament taking place, before the Wellington arrives at the comet. It is a silver streak in space, it's tail streaking kilometres backwards as it makes its way through the void. On one side of the comet sits an odd sight. A giant tree, surrounded by field of blue grass swaying in the non-existent wind. Suspecting this to be the location of the Bard the group dismounts the Wellington and makes their way towards it on foot.

As silver-dust crunches beneath the shoes of their void-suits the group makes their way towards the tree, Alver recognising up close that the swaying blue grass represents the edge of a mana-field around the tree, apparently containing oxygen and Earth standard gravity. Within the field the group remove their suits to conserve oxygen and armour up, proceeding through the root system of the tree into the hollow beneath. Luminescent fruits secret silver ooze as they fall from the branches around the group, and vines lash out at them from hidden roots as the tree tries to stop the interlopers gaining access to it. It's final weapon is in the form of hallucinogenic spores, causing the group to fall to the ground spasming or swing wildly with their weapons. Eventually the ingenuity of Thinkfink pulls the group out of their stupor and they pass through the sung wooden door at the base of the tree into the facility beyond.

Chapter III: Diamondstar

The interior of the Comet

The silver-dust of the comet blossomed upwards in the wake of the heavy boot treads on its brittle surface. The void suit clad group moved slowly along its surface, pushing a grav trolley ahead of them. The front of the trolley, barely visible after minutes of exposure on the comet, is the stylised 'MM' logo of the New Osaka Mega-Mart, a long way from home and now turned to a strange new purpose. The group heft lanterns as they move across the silver surface of the comet, and on the back of each a void-sealed bag of supplies and equipment. They look every inch the salvage crew they were trying to become.

[Delving a Comet]
Flickering lamps of magical flame illuminate the vast root system spiderwebbing through the comet. The group continues downwards, struggling to find their footing on the slimey tree roots until they pierce the crust of the comet and march on to where the leaves of the roots have rotted to compost. It becomes apparent that the roots were used to burrow through the comet at an incredibly fast pace, and that they continue deep within the comet.

Far below the surface the crew of the Wellington discover a crystal pedestal from which springs a shimmering hologram. Driv manages to get to pedestal to stabilise for long enough for the hologram to form into a robed human but the influx of power overloads the system and the light within the crystal fades. Nearby Alver keen senses smell a rotten corpse, and he finds a pile of decomposing bodies, many showing signs of laser wounds. The group continues onwards, discovering a large cavern riddled with vines and crystal growths. Crystal buildings seem to crumble beneath the roots assailing them, and more deceased humans in orange work-suits are discovered. These bodies appear to have been dead for months however, having been killed gunshots or crushed by crystals falling from the crumbling roof. Alver finds a broken amulet nearby, and with a flash of insight informs the others that he had a vision of them falling into darkness. Thinkfink stumbles upon a nearby map program, and with a concept of the layout of the facility the group heads towards one of the elevators, despite Alver's warning.

At the elevator Briar dons his void-suit and continues down the power-less chasm. Many minutes later the power returns, Briar having navigated the air-vents and tunnels of the facility to repower the elevator. The elevator swings downwards into a large cavern, above vast mining rigs are visible far into the distance, some having collapsed from lack of maintenance. Alver manages to spot a mysterious figure far above, and the group moves cautiously onwards. The path downwards is powerless again, but with the aid of some discovered climbing gear the group reaches the power source and restarts it. They board a funicular to take them deeper into the facility, passing more mining areas and crystal buildings. The funicular leads to a darkened hanger, only dimly lit by odd orange flames. It is barely recognisable as a hanger, a tangle of crystal columns and shards the pierce the chamber. At the centre of the room sits three obsidian pillars, each marked with arcane runes and glowing with a strange malicious energy. As the group enters the odd gravity-less chamber they spot a giant round crystal door at the far end of the room. Even as they begin to attempt to cross the room a nearby corpse stirs, claws bursting from beneath it's orange suit as the rotting jaw of the creature open in a rictus grin.

The undead workers launch themselves at the group, bounding over crystal growths with unnatural swiftness. The group responds quickly, with Thinkfink leaping atop Briar's voidsuit before the man launched himself across the cavern with his grapnel-gun. Alver and Preston launch themselves at the undead in mid-air, engaging them in a swirling melee that seems to defy the laws of physics themselves. Arriving at a central pillar Thinkfinkle begins to tap away at a keypad present high atop the pillar, while back at the entrance Driv and Syrinx begin to fire on the mass of oncoming undead with their catapults. Thinkfinkle manages to activate the pillar, returning the air to the room, just as Preston's suit is punctured by the claws of an undead, but this activity causes even more of the orange corpses to return to life. As Alver and Preston launch themselves across the room from pillar to pillar Briar draws his sword and engages the raising dead, holding them off while shouting to the others to escape the area. Driv makes his way to the another pillar, re-activating the power in the room and causing the giant crystal doorway to swing open. Driv, Thinkfinkle and Alver fly through, while Syrinx takes pot shots backwards with her mana-pistol as she floats backwards through the opening door. As Preston limps through Briar disengages from the dozen or so undead around him, shooting his grapnel into the doorway and pulling himself free from the group in the still gravity-lacking cavern. As the door swings closed behind them the group hears a loud voice, calling them to come further into the facility. As they make their way further into the facility Driv kills a nearby undead with his oversized spanner, an event that causes some laughter amongst the group.

Beyond the crystal door the hallway is long and dark, and led only by their mag-lanterns the group continues towards the source of the transmission. There they find a battered looking man in military fatigues, wearily aiming his modified laser rifle at the group as they enter his vision. He shows disdain for the meta-humans present, and introduces himself with barely contained rudeness as Corporal Drummond. When questioned he recites a story about the power dropping out, and workers starting to turn to the undead monstrosities experienced in the previous area. He claims that of the 150 workers on the base almost all turned, and the group begin to discuss with him a way of making their way out of the facility alive, as well as recovering the gravity jack…

Chapter IV: Neogi

The disintegrating Matrix

Snowy, ashen matter sloughed off the floating Matrix, burned free by the violent electrical build-up within. Standing atop the slowly degrading cube, Driv hurriedly detached the depleted fuel canister, wrestling with the weighty gyro-bolts. With a hiss of air and the flash of a welding torch, the immense cell finally toppled free, impacting the distant floor and throwing up a cloud of crystal particulate. As his comrades strained to lift the heavy replacement cell into place, the ominous chitter of mewling insectoid voices reached his ears. Wiping away sweat and lowering his welding visor, he muttered to the others. “This might take a minute.”

[Salvaging a Gravity Jack]
Corporal Drummond leads the group further into the comet, carefully keeping his protective barrier between him and the group. After some distance he drops the shield, necessity overcoming paranoia as the group nears the outer research lab. There they meet with the contact Drummond had promised, which turns out to be none other than another of the holograms Driv had damaged earlier. This functional holo-projection introduces itself as Neogi, apprentice to the Airfolk Bard. In a research pod overgrown by vegetation and crystals the hologram informs the group that he is merely a projection of Neogi, the apprentice having locked himself within a cryo-pod at the centre of the facility. He implores the group to rescue him, promising to aid their escape and assistance in capturing the Gravity Jack.

By this time utterly lost despite their maps the crew of the Wellington diligently follow Corporal Drummond towards the research station and the power core of the facility. The crystal caves seem to become denser, the once glass-like material now obsidian and sharp enough to draw blood, should one be careless enough to brush against it. The party descends the razor sharp slope slowly, reaching at last the welcome metal halls of the facility proper. But this relief turns to apprehension when turning a corner they are met by a half dozen hulking shapes. The Airfolk are alien enough with their back jointed legs, long elongated forms and strange feathers, but these creatures were something else. Their normally pearlescent skin was marked with the signs of decay, their eyes dulled with the glaze of the dead and yet somehow retaining a spark of intelligence. As the party readies their weapons to attack one of the creatures steps forward, his black robes sway against his elegant form: "I am Beak-of-Many. I am glad you have come".

The Airfolk address the group, explaining that they are the assistants and crew of the Bard, trapped here upon the unleashing of the darkness in the comet. They had been turned into the undead, but had kept their minds through the natural magic of the proto-phylacteries they carried, that had retained much of their souls. The leader of the group, Beak-of-Many, suggests an arrangement with the party. He informs them that the comet would destroy itself soon, the mana backlash from the rituals performed to control it unable to be contained much longer without replacing the power-cells of the device containing it. He offers assistance in this task, for the survival of his people aboard the comet. The crew considering his offer, balancing it against the urgings of Corporal Drummond to simply destroy the cursed comet and be done with it. They argue amongst themselves but eventually agree to help the Airfolk, with an agreement of non-aggression to be decided beforehand. To this end Preston and Drummond return to the only intact hangar in the facility, instructing the AI Voodoo to pilot the Wellington to the hangar for easy escape. The Airfolk go with the two, offering to show them a collection of supplies and valuables as payment for their rescue. Meanwhile the rest of the crew would go deeper into the comet yet still, installing new power-cells to the Matrix within in an attempt to contain the oncoming destruction of the facility.

Within the centre-most chamber of the comet the party finds the Matrix, a vast prism of pulsing crystal, marred only by the metallic scaffolding and elevator that been erected around it. Once atop it Driv begins to replace the spent fuel cells, a lengthy process that seemed to make the Matrix pulse with light. As he does so the group moves toward the cryo-pod containing Neogi, slowly as Alver notices a dark liquid pooling from the container…

"I was a prodigy you know", the voice echoed from within the capsule and all around the chamber. "The best human byomancer that has ever lived, some said…but he was always better." The strange voice grows bitter. "The greatest human is no-where near the power of an Airfolk you see. But I had a friend that would allow me to equal my master if not surpass him. Neogi understood. He knew what it was like and he could give me the power I desired. My master was a fool to ignore his pleas, but I listened. Neogi gave me all that I could ever want. The comet talked and I obeyed…"

With a crash the front of the cryo-pod collapsed to the floor, the desiccated form of the Apprentice barely visible beneath a mass of writhing black forms. From the pod burst horribly six legged beasts, chitin clad monsters with clicking pincers that scramble towards the group. As Driv begins to install the power cells with a frantic pace the group engages with the beasts, slaying them with laser fire and sword blow in their dozens. But despite the onslaught the creatures keep on coming, crawling up the sides of the Matrix and swarming over the crew.

Briar's sword is knock aside by a leaping creature and he lays out him with his fists, pulverising the creatures in bursts of black ichor, Syrinx fires her carbine in short controlled bursts, downing a beast with every shot until her rifle runs dry and all the while Driv worked. As sweat beads down his hairy face he begins welding the final cell. Alver squashes the beasts beneath his feet, unwilling to let go of a chunk of diamondstar he had discovered earlier. Even as the creatures seemed ready to overwhelm the group Driv pushed the last cell into place, the shining light pushing the bests back for long enough for the group to board the elevator to the ground. Hundreds more of the creatures meet them there but met by Thinkfinkle, and the hover-trolley filled with a gravity jack, they ignore the beasts and begin to run through the steadily collapsing crystal tunnels towards the hangar, and the awaiting Wellington.

The hollows, confusing and winding before, were a literal maze now. Falling crystal and collapsing corridors made passage perilously difficult as the crew sprinted back to the hanger bay. They dodged past clawing undead, toxic spores and unstable mine shafts, split apart in the chaos and often running alone through the long dark corridors. Syrinx arrives first, and psychically guides Alver to the ship. They begin to assist Preston and Corporal Drummond to get the ship ready for takeoff. Minutes pass as the crew begin to arrive one by one as the hanger becomes more and more unstable. As the Wellington is buffeted by collapsing crystal from above the crew wait, engines prepped, for Driv and Thinkfink, lost in the warren mazes of the comet…

The 'Wellington' sailed peacefully through the void away from the quickly self-destructing comet, the ship trailing smoke but their prize intact. The exhausted and wounded crew enjoy a few weeks of peaceful travel, as wounds are tended and possessions repaired. Corporal Drummond transfers off the boat at first opportunity, keen to be away from the Airfolk that he blamed for the loss of so many lives. Beak-of-Many also departed, eager to return to his people. His strange ways would not be missed by the crew, who quickly fell back into their usual traditions of chess tournaments and strangely flavoured ice-cream.
Eventually after weeks of travel the 'Wellington' dock at New Osaka, returning to Spar 17 after a few coins from Whisker under the table removed the capture-or-kill order out on them. The ship would settle in for repair and the crew set about selling the salvage from the comet, eager to spend their hard fought and well earned coin.

Part II: Venture

The Shipyards at Starforge

Chapter V: Den of Thieves

The open frontier

The saloon in Old Osaka bustled with activity, despite the early hour. Behind the bar a serving robot poured precisely measured drinks to slovenly bar patrons, many sporting the crude bionic limb replacements needed to work the local ore mills, and nearby a smoking room dispensed mild hallucinogens to those willing to pay. Every few minutes dust rolled in from outside as the swinging gates admitted a new patron, or the hired muscle expelled the few foolish enough to cross them. The Gnome drank a thick clear liquid as he watched a fight break out, the fun only dispersed after the bleeding distracted the plump and flustered singer in the corner. Despite his hand lurking near the gun he held below the table the Gnome allowed himself a smile. It was good to be home.

[Prospects in Old Osaka]
As Driv set to repairing the Wellington the rest of the crew dispersed into New Osaka, spanning the districts of Hull, Uptown and Scrap City. The Dwarf had managed to acquire at the 'Starforge', the Dwarven military-industrial complex in the city, due to a fledgling friendship with Karlear, a heavily augmented Dwarf with whom Driv shared a love of mechanics and hard liquor. It took the better part of three weeks to repair the Wellington, as a rent hull and damaged landing gear were repaired by the expert team of robots and Dwarven crew at the Starforge. Work stopped only for priority repairs to be given to the Wyvern Industries and Lightning Dynamics ships that arrived, those massive corporations with the currency to gain preferential treatment.

In the meantime the rest of the crew had met with their Goblin associate Whisker and received payment for the goods looted during the previous endeavour. Whisker assists the crew in officially registering themselves as a Gravity Jack operation and pockets heavy with coins they head out into the markets and tech-forges of New Osaka. New quarters are purchased for the Wellington, as well as a well needed repair to Driv's work station. Within the Starforge the Dwarf constructs himself a set of combat armour, while Briar has the Diamondstar he took from the comet fashioned into a mighty crystal claymore. Thinkfinkle undergoes surgery as an implant that allows him to directly connect with Wellington is inserted. During this time members of the crew are contacted by various associates in the city, and a plethora of job opportunities manifest.

Syrinx travelled to the Cathedral of Death, within the upper district to meet with Rabiyr the Endless, a Bloodhound of the Church of Dust. They discuss Syrinx' mother, Nigela, a mage-scientist who had vanished under mysterious circumstances decades ago. Rabiyr had recovered a missive from Nigela, and believes she was studying Malignite, a type of anti-magic soaked Diamondstar. The transparent skin of the ancient Rabiyr pulls tight in a frown as he warns Syrinx of others moving against the church to secure this source of Malignite. Meanwhile in Scrap City Briar meets with Duncan McKenzie, an old monster-slaying associate and now Bloodmaster of the Unshaven, a group of burly sword wielding mercenaries. These slayers had been hired by Lord Ransom, Mayer of Osaka, to join a posse to investigate disappearances out on the frontier. A night of drinking and boasting ensues, and Briar prepares to take the mission back to the party to gauge their interest. In the lower districts Thinkfinkle meets with Sheriff Mars and his hulking robotic deputy at the Tattoine Bar. It turns out his childhood friend Tweedlewack Springsprocket had come into some trouble with the local Yakuza, and in particular a thug called "Crocodile". Briar and Thinkfinkle catch up with Tweedlewack, nickname TW, and the diminutive creature informs them of his plan to pay back Crocodile, by looting the remains of ruins within the frontier. He gives them a device for removing valuables from the remains before waddling back to his hiding spot in the lower-city.

Back at the Wellington the group gathers and discusses the job offers they had received. Alver mentions that he has heard rumours of groups of strange mercenaries within the city. Whispers had been spreading about a squad of Ghool Knights, their characteristic spines just poking out of their sealed steel armour. Rumours were also abundant about a squad of Drow Rangers in the city, led by a 'Deathdealer'. Putting together the three offered missions they group realises that the strange groups were present for the Mayor's posse, who was none other than the competition for the Church of Dust's mission to the frontier. Seeing that they could accept the Unshaven bounty, assist the Church of Dust and solve TW's problems with one mission the group contacts their various associates and accept the bounties.

As Preston, Driv and Briar return from their meeting with the Mayor Preston notices a group of three hooded figures following them. They lead the stalkers into an abandoned alleyway near the Starforge, voxing the Syrinx and Thinkfink at the ship for support. Ambushing the group they are revealed to be Yuan'ti, snakelike bounty hunters clad in armoured flight suits. The group yells at the party in their strange tongue, and despite Driv's best attempts to communicate the situation escalates, as the Yuan'ti draw strange bladed rifles from beneath their robes. Briar barrels towards them, their rounds pinging off the armoured bodyglove beneath his clothes, and begins to attack a pair with his sword. The last would-be attacker draws a pair of vials from his robes, smashing them upon the ground to reveal two shimmering Efreeti, armed with fearsome two-handed blades. Preston and Driv engage with the Efreeti, blasting at them with pistols and narrowly dodging their swinging blades. They pair manage to drive off the Efreeti with focused fire from hand cannon and miniaturised flamer.

Arriving on the scene Syrinx and Thinkfinkle got to work assisting the party. Syrinx began to lay down covering fire, pushing the Efreeti once again towards Driv and Preston while Thinkfinkle pulled from his coat a powerful anti-armour grenade. With a grin he tossed it towards the Efreeti attacking Preston, but this glee soon turned to horror as the grenade passed straight through the apparition and into Preston. The priest, midway through a sermon about the folly of aliens, simply ceased to exist. The explosion engulfed Preston's flamer tanks and the alleyway was washed with flame and debris. As the fire settled the attacking Yuan'ti were burnt to a crisp beneath their armoured suits, and Driv sat in the corner coughing blood over his singed beard. Briar, protected from the blast by the Yuan'ti, surged towards Thinkfinkle and began to shake the Gnome. His anger was only stopped why Syrinx ran forwards and read the mind of Thinkfinkle, determining that his murder of Preston was an accident.

Driv spends the day in the Starforge surgical wing, his lungs set to be replaced by a pair of bionic respirators. A small ceremony is held for Preston, with what remains could be recovered being burnt in a furnace. A local priest said the words of passing and the group hung their heads low, their regret at his loss apparent. Understandably, Thinkfinkle was absent.

Chapter VI: High Noon

A town called Crater

Syrinx began to coalesce magical energy around herself, as she had hundreds of times before. These Ork raiders did not know what they were in for, messing with the crew of the 'Wellington', and her magic would be the final nail in their coffins. Her wry smile turned to a frown as the magical energy began to swirl outside of her control, changing colour and pulsing sporadically. She frantically tried to control the maelstrom, fully aware of what this was. She had heard rumours, legends even, of the fate befalling mages who drew too much power. She had barely a moment before the monsters were upon her, enough barely to mutter "Oh fuck me…."

[The Frontier]
Leaving the Wellington behind the group meets the rest of the Mayor's Posse outside his walled palatial estate. From the old armoured jailhouse nearby the Deputy leading the posse exits, pinning on each member present the small silver star badge of a sheriff's deputy, before instructing them to mount up. Nearby the sniffer-grox are brought forth, large scaled beasts already loaded with saddles and days of supplies. The Ghool, heavy in their dull-metal armour, do not mount the beasts, having arrived in an armoured carrier. The mayor steps out onto the balcony of his estate and sends the posse on it's way with a stern and to-the-point speech, and with a plume of dust the convoy sets out into the frontier.

The diminutive Thinkfinkle grips the back of Alver's grox as the beasts stride through the desert plains, but despite their lack of familiarity with the beasts the posse makes good time. Briar scouts ahead with the Unshaven, peering through his magnoculars to assist the boisterous lead scout "Firebeard". An incident with a stampeding herd of beef-grox withstanding the posse makes good time, most of the party staying well within the formation and socialising with other members of the posse. Most are tightlipped, although the leader of the Ghool Knights introduces himself as Sir Cottas. Even for the frontier the area seemed quiet, and with heavy hearts the party comes across the burnt out remains of a farmhouse. The owner stands outside, apparently bitten to death by his now-rabid dog. Syrinx informs the others that the dog has been enchanted, and with regret the animal is put down. Picking through the wreckage of the farmhouse Alver detects life far below, revealed to be a Drow buried beneath layers of collapsed building. He introduces himself as Jaezred Helviiryn, nicknamed "Jazz", and informs the group that he was trapped here by the Drow Death-Dealer leading the posse scouting party. He has sworn vengeance against this Death-Dealer, and the party agrees to have him accompany them until his mission is completed.

The next morning the posse rides into the town of Crater, a wall and fortified town building of plasteel and wood. On the exterior walls bodies swing from nooses, hung for showing signs of insanity. A priest named Grayson leads the town, his dirty black and white robes slightly marred by the bandolier tied across his barrel chest. He greets the posse and the party dismounts, intending to stay in the town for two days. The grox are brushed down and packed away, and the local saloon 'Serpent Saloon' opens its doors to the newcomers. Syrinx, Thinkfinkle and Driv gladly accept this hospitality, indulging in the local alcohol; XXXXXXXX. Meanwhile Briar talks to the locals and discovers that they don't know much about the Orks in the area, nor the Robotic barbarian tribes nearby. He is informed that a man named Mars knows more, a reclusive gunslinger who lives in the nearby foothills. As the others carouse at the local saloon Briar and the newcomer Jazz begin to plan a journey out to the hills to visit the gunslinger Mars.

The next morning the party members capable of walking emerge and remount their grox, heading out as the sun rises to find the Gunslinger in the foothills. Driv remains behind, moaning and retching into his beard in the saloon toilet. The group moves into the hills warily, fully aware of the Orks that regularly raid the area. It is Alver's keen nose that alerts the group to the would-be ambushers, and with their Grox safely secured on a nearby tree the group moves up on foot. Thinkfinkle and Jazz move steathily through the underbrush as Briar hefts his crystal claymore and charges straight at the beasts. As the creatures begin to draw their weapons they are struck down; bursts of blinding light from Jazz's rifle, invisible force from Alver and swings of Briar's greatsword utterly destroying a hand-full of the Orks. But the creatures, vast grey skinned monstrosities in scavenged leathers and wielding rusted and ill-maintained weapons, respond in kind. Alver is push down by a large net fired to contain him and even as the net-wielder is felled by Jazz's rifle the Ork chief arrives. Riding atop a fearsome furred beast he goads his warriors onwards, wielding a fearsome axe of scavenged metal. As he does so Syrinx raises her hands, beginning a magical incantation…

The magic in Syrinx' hands seems to manifest as a large swirling vortex of overlapping colours, a wind that batters amongst those present. Alver faints dead away as the magical energy is released and elsewhere unnatural beasts manifest from the rampant mana force. From the vortex swoop winged beasts, claws dripping with viscera and pustulant boils covering their furry torsos. The nightmare beasts swipe at the party with their claws, cutting deeply into Thinkfinkle and Syrinx, who had unwittingly summoned them. Far behind the creatures Jazz freezes, overcome by his fear. As the plague harpies attack Thinkfinkle and Briar retaliate, downing two with targeted grenades and measured sword blows. But the creatures are too many. The Orks begin to flee back the way they came, the beasts picking them off one by one in deadly dives that leave them with deep gauges. Now attacked by another creature Thinkfinkle begins to flee, his beast now flying towards the prone Alver. Behind him Syrinx flees back towards Briar, who is busy fighting against three of the beasts. As she reaches him her arms raise once again to cast magic, but before she can start her incantation the master of the harpies appears. It steps out of unreality itself, sagging green-brown skin covered in excrement and blood. The smell overcomes those present, emptying their stomachs at the sight of the hideous beast. It raises its hand to Syrinx's cheek, caressing it with the slightest touch. And in an instant Syrinx rotted away to nothing. Her flesh dropped from her bones and crumbled to dust, her organs boiling and rotting away almost at once and her armour and weapons are melted as her blood turns to acid. And with that the creatures disappear, leaving the valley with no sign of the hell-scape that had moments ago occupied it.

The group leaves the area without speaking, fervently muttering prayers under their breath and supporting the wounded Alver. A small cross is raised on a nearby hill to honour Syrinx, although her remains were in no state for burial. It is only a short way to the Gunslinger's house, and the group finishes this journey in silence. At the front of his house, a small shack nestled in the brown hills, the old Gunslinger sits on a rocking chair cradling a fine shotgun. Thinkfinkle talks to him in a strange local dialect that appears to be an intentionally incorrect version of the common tongue and the group is welcome inside. The moustachioed old frontiersman sees to their wounds, patching up their deep wounds with an old medical kit he fetches from his kitchen. As the group gathers for a finger of whiskey they meet the Gunslinger's other guest, an agent of Ravyir the Endless and associate of the late Syrinx. His name is Kael, and he has come to the house to research the nearby Vulcan Peak, also the target of the Mayor's Posse and the investigations of Ravyir the Endless. As the group removes their armour to relax Kael begins to spin them a tale, as told to him by the Gunslinger Mars.

About 27 years ago a lady and her warband asked about the Gunslinger's visit to Vulcan Peak, and the word “Penumbra” was used. The Gunslinger had told them he’d been hired 27 years earlier as part of a posse who rode in to the Peak. The posse had snuck past the tribes with magic and used an ancient technological telescope. The mages had been happy with their findings, and the group had set up camp outside a set of open glass doors. The Gunslinger wouldn't walk of what was within, but he recalls death and destruction wracked the posse. 27 years later he told the lady, Syrinx's mother Nigela, the same tale and gave her information to go on her way. Kael reports that Nigela was researching Vulcan peak, and the gates that were said to guard the "Earthmother". It is said that the Earthmother weeps when the Skyfather goes past, a comet with a 28 year passage cycle. The events were occuring out of season due to the Malignite falling into the atmosphere from the destruction of the comet-facility by the crew of the Wellington. The Gunslinger recalls Nigela returning from the glass gates, and bringing with her an artefact from the Iron Barbarians. From his pack the old Gunslinger brings form a crumpled piece of paper, informing the group that it was a translation brought to him by Nigela, taken from the pyramids of the robot tribesmen. The piece is written in Deep Speak, and read aloud by Thinkfinkle.

And there shall be Six Heralds of the descending dark, and by their deeds and their mark shall they bring about the break of Old Night.
For there shall come a silence that follows a song cut short, and he shall be know as Skybreaker.
And there shall come a Sailor, who shall sail unwordly seas, and he shall be known as Seabreaker.
And there shall come a Delver, whose stride will cleave the earth, and he shall be known as Earthbreaker.
And there shall come a Seeker, whose quest will end in shadow, and she shall be known as Starbreaker.
And there shall come a Lover, beloved in despair, and she shall be known as Manbreaker.
And at the end, the Betrayer will come, and he shall wield Penumbra and be known as the Breaker of Faith.

The group sets up camp outside Gunslinger Mar's hut, sharing ice-creams that Alver had brought along from the Wellington. As they set watches and dozed off, many could not help but think that this job was turning into more than they had bargained for.

Chapter VII: Typhontrifex

The Veil weakens

The figure walked alone on the surface of Osaka. Nearby plants withered and died as he past, the corpses of long dead frontiersmen rotting away to ash as he cast his gaze upon them. The sky above was the sickening yellow of pus, and the ground below grey-brown mud. Everywhere he looked there was death. Just as there had been for the decades he had walked upon this tainted earth. He did not walk to discover or trace any particularly path, merely to pass the time. Although after a while the years began to blur into one another. He did not need to discover, he had seen it. He knew why the planet had fallen. After all, Kael had been there the day the creature was unleashed…

[Outbreak at Vulcan Peak]
The stay at the Gunslinger's house had rejuvenated the spirits of the crew of the Wellington, and bidding fairwell to the crew haired recluse they set off on grox-back back towards Vulcan Peak. The next morning they would meet up with Driv, on his way from the town of Crater. The flustered dwarf tells the group the posse headed out a day early, passing this point near twelve hours ago and heading at speed towards the Peak. Weary of the treachery of the Deputy leading the posse the party hurried to follow them. The Drow Jazz tracked the group for a full day, through the vast plains of Osaka's frontier and into the mountains around Vulcan Peak. Within one cave system the group find the Ork raiders, seemingly killed by some local wildlife. Although Briar and the newcomer Kael attempt to search the deep pool of water in the cave for the slayer of the Orks their efforts are unrewarded, and the group moves on.

They find the posse at the end of a long and winding ravine, already engaged in battle with the local Artificial Tribesmen. Behind makeshift cover they trade fire with the bronze-metal figures atop steel pyramids, the whole affair framed by the moaning of a strange horn wielded by the Tribe Chieftain. Briar spurs his grox towards the chief, the reluctant Thinkfinkle leaping from the back and sneaking behind a rocky outcrop. Dismounting, Alver and Driv start returning fire with the Tribespeople, ducking into cover as the robots fire strange energy bolts from their metal bows. Jazz begins to line up targets with his sniper rifle, a robot exploding in yellow mist every few seconds as his lasers take them clean through their power sources. As the tribesmen grow near Alver casts stones at them, ripped from the sides of the canyon with his mind. At one stage, as the tribesmen threaten to come near, Alver gives out a moan and a pulse of magical energy. But the magical mishap aside the forces of the tribesmen iare not enough and the missiles fly towards the attackers ever faster. Atop the pyramid Briar holds up the head of the robot chieftain, causing the remaining tribespeople to holler and flee in terror. As the artificials flee the posse finishes of the last of the enemy wounded, their way to Vulcan Peak finally clear. The Deputy in charge calls the crew of the Wellington forward, ushering them to move forward into the pyramid and the Peak beyond.

Their real job now at hand the group attempts to disarm the technomagical traps within Vulcan Peak. Some minutes pass and despite the expertise of Driv and Alver they are unable to confirm the safety of the room. This is tested when moments later a pair of Lone Star deputies enter the trapped chamber, bursting to flames as the magical traps are triggered. The Deputy Marshall remounts his grox and begins to flee, now unwilling to enter the cursed Peak. Now lead by the Ghool Knights, having taken command after the death of the Deputies, the group travels into the ruins of the Peak, past strange architecture unlike any they had ever seen and into a large circular chamber featuring an odd bronze-metal tree. From the tree droop fruit, made from the same liquid metal as the tree itself. Caution thrown to the wind Thinkfinkle eats one of the fruits, with no ill effects. The Ghool begin to set up a device to destroy the tree but are quickly convinced by a driven Alver to instead create a ritual to harness the energy of the magical device. As Alver and the Ghool begin to prepare the ritual Kael watches on with interest. The rest of the crew, less interested, leave the cave to rest and play dice on the steps outside. Within the chamber lines are drawn in white paint fetched from Alver's grox, vast carvings placed on the walls and arcane runes summoned on the dark stone of the chamber floor. Kael watches with interest, growing concerned as the ritual preparation reaches its climax. With a gasp of memory Kael realises Alver's arcane ritual is set to destroy the entire facility, unleashing a terrible force on all present. Stinging with betrayal he lunges towards the Troll, weapon raised.

With a lurch Alver steps away from the charging Kael, ducking below his axe with inhuman speed. He spits through brown and rotting teeth; "Foolish mortal, I am Typhontrifex. Plague King. Dust Lord. And this world is mine". The racket inside brings the rest of the party, Briar hefting his greatsword as he bellows a warcry. But Jazz beats him to it, a hot-shot round from his long-las taking the creature that was once Alver clean through the head, blowing away his helmet and splashing his bubbling brains against the wall behind him. A moment of calm fills the room, broken only by Thinkfinkle's mad dash to the door, muttering "bad bad bad". The form that was once Alver explodes outwards in a blossom of pus, blood and flesh, writhing and swirling into a cloud that eventually takes form. Standing well over five metres tall the creature that manifests is that of nightmares. His body is bloated with corruption, even beyond that of the grossest corpse Daemon the party had encountered. From his yellow-brown flesh fat and disgusting maggots wriggle forth, plopping to the ground and wriggling towards the living. The massive Daemon's many blood-shot eyes fall upon the group and he raises a single rusted metallic fingernail to point at the Ghool. The Knights drop dead instantly, the seams of their armour seeping viscera and pus far beyond what their bodies could have contained. As his flesh-maggots wriggle towards the corpses of the fallen the beast begins to stumble forwards, decay and death following him…

With nought a second glance Jazz and Briar begin to sprint from the room, their armour and weapons rusting and degrading even as they fled from this evil made manifest. Driv, too slow to react to the summoning, begins to retch and vomit from the foul stench that now fills the air. Kael, proud chain-axe in hand, attempts to charge the Daemon, only to fall to the ground himself, his mind broken by the pure evil he was witnessing. As the creature walks past the two prone forms their skin begins to boil and slacken, falling off or rotting away as the creature drew closer. When the last life is drained from the two writhing figures Driv rises again, mind gone but rotting husk body ever willing to do the bidding of the Daemon-Prince. Alongside him walk the Ghool Knights, even their mechanically augmented minds no match for the will of the creature. Hundreds of metres ahead Thinkfinkle reaches the Ghool transport and begins to hot-wire it, shouting into the vox for Jazz and Briar to hurry. The two figures waste no time, sprint past the remaining posse members and Unshaven. The Unshaven, beserkers and warriors to the last man, life up their armoured kilts and charge the creature. Their claymores swinging they barely reach the beast, falling as their bones become brittle and skins rots from proximity to the creature. By the time it's massive feet pass them they join Driv and the Ghool as mindless servants of the Daemon, chanting his name as they shamble forwards: "Typhontrifex. Typhontrifex. Typhontrifex".

The Colony of Old Osaka was lost to a viral outbreak, and the planet Osaka declared quarantined by the highest authority. Media outlets speculated about the reason behind the abandoning of such a large settlement, but with the survivors held in medical facilities for years to come they quickly rotated on their quick news cycle. Even those high up within the Founding World's governments are simply informed that a rogue mage must have summoned a magical curse on the world, and the primary suspect a Troll. Those foolish enough to travel to the surface of Osaka reported toxic clouds of miasma, flies the size of cats and vast hordes of the walking dead. Most consider these reports myths at best, and those who venture to the planet soon find themselves in mental asylums or the cells of the Elven Bloodhounds. Few know of the fate of Osaka. Fewer still know that just before the quarantine was established a small ship passed out of orbit. The crew of the Wellington would scatter to the winds, leaving the Gnome Thinkfinkle as sole owner of the ship.

Part III: Under New Management


Galugthrammon, the Storm that Burns, has secured the White House for a second term, defeating his Republican rival, businessman John Cortez. Galugthrammon, the United States’ first Draconic President, scored a comfortable victory by framing the election as a referendum on his planetary defence and extra-terrestrial policies.

Galactic events played a central role in this election, with approval of the President’s strong, military response to Ghool annexations denying Cortez momentum from the outset. During the campaign, Imperial encroachments were halted by Foundation voidstrikes, prompting widespread media speculation about Earth’s true military capabilities.

In his victory speech, President Galugthrammon told supporters he would defend the Earth’s holdings “with fire and steel and water,” leading many to doubt his confidence in the peace-talks currently underway with Ghool, Drow and Dunefolk leaders.

“Let the Earth rouse,” he boomed. "Let it's children stand astride the stars."

Chapter VIII:The Naughty List


The cleaning lady stopped dead as she entered the alley courtyard. She had walked into a stand-off. To one side was a scruffy man in a long dusters coat, brandishing a pair of pistols. To the other, a Gnome hefting a sub machine gun with a large black silencer. Caught in between was a robed Orc figure; though not the target of either gunman, he was visibly displeased with his position.

An armoured man passed her by, giving her a casual glance. "May want to step back indoors darlin'," he drawled. "There's a mite of business here needs doing."

In the city of Vega, far below the occupying Ghool Gunship in high orbit, a strange crowd fills 'Bulgruup's Cantina'. At one table sit two humans, clad in the greying brown duster coats of frontiersmen. They discuss in hushed voices the purchase of a ship, the Wellington, with a buxom and beautiful female Orc, covered in tattoos, who taps away at a complex holo-screen in front of her. It seems a previous owner was with-holding his shares in the vehicle, and the Orc was assisting the pair in discovering his identity. In the corner of the bar, convinced of their subtlety, two men survey the room. Both bearing the sigils and runes of the Wild Elf world Mehiko as well as bulging weapons bags, one is clearly an Elf of those lands and the other human. They are representatives of the Wild Hunt, Elven secret police tracking a man named Rudolf, charged with stealing a series of stolen corporate documents referred to as "the Naughty List". At the back of the room, resonating a strange glow, sits an Orc in the crimson robes of a Magic Academy graduate. He keeps to himself, a fact that seems to please the bars other inhabitants.

The usual hustle bustle of the bar turns to outright chaos in short order. Noticing a Vox-Thief drone hovering nearby their table the two humans begin to leave, their Orc companion packing her belongings and quickly striding out the swinging doors of 'Balgruuf's Cantina'. The Wood Elf and his Human associate stand to follow, mirrored by a group of thugs who had moments before been sitting casually across from them. It is now that all hell breaks loose. The two humans turn and confront their pursuers, and a pair of thugs drop to the ground with bloodied faces. The Wild Elf agents respond in kind, pulling rebreathers from within their coats before dropping gas grenades at their feet. As the choking yellow-brown gas fills the tightly packed bar the pair begin to lay in around them with shock mauls, apparently uncaring of the identities of their victims. As the two rugged humans leave the bar a voice calls out to them from scaffolding far above. A Gnome sits there, grenade launcher in hand, face obscured by a comical highwayman's face scarf. For a moment the standoff holds, the pair frozen in place by the heavy weapon pointed directly at them. But not for long. The pair of Wild Elf agents swung through the doors from inside the bar, hefting captured locals and manacling them against a nearby wall. The Gnome re-addresses his aim, but the humans are long gone, burning down the busy street in a rented motor-carriage. As they zoom off into the distance the Gnome comes down from his perch, moving to meet the robed Ork. After a short discussion they move over to the Human and Elf who are now busying themselves with a field interrogation of the capture thugs…

At a hotel room rented by the Wild Elf agents introductions are made. The Elven agents are Maeleth Nightsong, a tall and intimidating Elf, and Pablo Quent, a human who works for the Wild Hunt as an interrogator. The Orc mage is Fenrir, a pyromancer and psyker who seeks Rudolf for his own reasons. He had agreed to work with the pair to find this elusive man. The Gnome is Thinkfinkle, past crew-member and owner of the Wellington. He has a separate contact to find Rudolf, his sharp and deceitful mind always looking for ways to gain advantage. The four share knowledge of their target. Rudolf is an operative for Wyvern Industrial who was working on the 'Naughty List', a techno-magical device that contains a list of Ghool spies in other Corporations. A valuable asset given the current blockade. As the four begin to interrogate the captured thugs from the bar a pair observes their building from across the street. The two men from Balgruuf's earlier sit lazily in the Kaf house across the road. One rifles through a bag at his feet, pushing a medical kit underneath a heavy combat shield as he reorganises his pack. Creg was a mercenary first and a medic second, a fact the heavy blade upon his waist represents. Still observing the hotel across the street is his comrade. Elias polishes a long barrel laser weapon on the table, but his eyes never leave his surroundings, flicking from face to face as he scans the passers by.

The groups meet in the alleyway behind the hotel at gunpoint. The matter of the ownership is raised, Thinkfinkle and Elias arguing at length over the exact ownership of the vehicle. As it appears payment had gone through, but Thinkfinkle had been unable to accept it due to the ensuing Ghool blockade on the world. With this disagreement buried the group begins to align their two goals. Creg, Thinkfinkle and Elias wished to retake the Wellington and escape the world. Maeleth, Pable, Fenrir and Thinkfinkle intend to find Rudolf and his 'Naughty List'. To achieve either of these objectives they would need help, and so the group finds itself in the Lotus Gardens, waiting outside the offices of Buzz. Buzz is the boss of the local Yakuza, although obviously far too important to actually meet with the group his second in command Vain was within the bathhouse. The Lotus Garden is primarily a cred-chip casino, although it also functions as a bath-house, restaurant, brothel and the base for the Vega arm of the Yakuza. Vain is a handsome Elf surrounded by scantily clad women and heavily armed bodyguards. He puts the group into contact with a hacker who can help release the Wellington, promising them the location of Rudolf if they take some illegal goods off world for him. The group agrees, and depart with the co-ordinates for both Rudolf and the cargo.

The Sink is a collection of open sewers, sluice ways and residential areas far below the city proper. It's inhabitants lock their doors and pull shutters closed as the rented van goes past. Within the van the group gear up, pulling suits of armour from duffles and loading weapons. Their goal is Vault 48, the Yakuza holding facility far within the lower regions of the Sink, and their militarisation is not without reason. For outside the Vault they find a group of figures, low-lifes wearing rags and packing heavy pistols upon their belts. As the group dismounts their vehicle the waiting figures leap into action, jumping behind the shipping crates and waste bins that line the street. Two of the gangers leap to all fours, giving off bestial cries as fur bursts from beneath their flesh and they begin to transform. Hefting weapons the party moves to engage them. Thinkfinkle and Elias begin to trade pot shots with the locals taking cover down the street, the well placed grenades of the Gnome and the overcharged Las bursts from Elias' duelling pistols easily ripping through the poorly armoured enemies. Meanwhile the others move to engage the Were-beasts that lope towards them. Pablo pulls one to the ground with a running tackle, drawing his power maul and beating it to death as Maeleth pulps a nearby ganger who was attempting to transform himself. A group of hidden assailants are pushed to the ground by Fenrir's magics and set alight, the Orc watching passively as the pinned men burn slowly in his crimson flames. Nearby with sword and shield in hand Creg engages another creature, tacking it's heavy blows upon his shield and replying with short sharp jabs. Within no time the would-be assailants are laid low, although one fleeing enemy is pursued through the nearby sewers by a vengeful and zealous Pablo. As Elias and Thinkfinkle search the gang members for weapons and cred chips Maeleth begins to skin one of the were-beasts, pausing only to allow Creg to extract some of their blood with a long needle from his medical kit.

As the bodies are piled and burnt with a click from Fenrir's fingers the group moves towards their prize. The vast dulled metal of the gate dirty from proximity and rusted in parts, but none-the-less sturdy. A wave of the access-wand provided be Vain opens it with a digital beep and Vault 48 creaks open with a loud squeal. Hundreds of boxes and shipping containers fill the large storage area, in the centre of which sits a man frozen in a block of solid adamantine. His face is locked in a rictus grin and clearly visible in his hand is a manilla folder marked "Liber Malificum"; the naughty list.

Chapter IX: Valentine

Wellington runs the blockade

The boom of race-callers and the thundering crowd reverberated in Elias' chest, thrumming down his legs and spine as he crossed the open tarmac. Under the blinding flash of cameras and neon holo-ads, he casually idled the multi-million credit jetbike up to the starters line. High overhead, the haughty features of Ash Valentine stretched across the stadium's mega-screens, plastered with the words "Favourite: 2/1". With a glance at the executive box, the frontiersman spied a black-suited Yuan-ti, eagerly watching the odds roll down the display. Creg chuckled in his helmet-mike.

"Alota folks gonna lose money tonight."

"Recon so," Elias muttered in reply. "But gamblins' a filthy habit anyhow."

[Smash-and-Grab on Raceday]
The frozen form of Rudolf loaded into the back of the rented van the group begins to make their way out of the Sink district of Vega. Their mission in the Sink completed Vain gives them the location of the Wellington and has his goods delivered there, a series of non-descript metal crates bearing falsified Vega Port logos. For Thinkfinkle it is a return home, but for the rest it is the first time they lay eyes upon the Wellington. For many it is underwhelming, the ship rusty and run-down from it's time under blockade. Elias and Thinkfinkle begin to make repairs to the ship, while Fenrir stows his possessions in the surprisingly fine crew quarters, taking down the pin-ups and pictures of engines of the previous owner of his room. Meanwhile Creg and Maeleth make their way into the city to turn in the outstanding bounties on were-beast pelts and blood, making good money in the process. But despite this extra income it becomes apparent to the group that they would not be able to run the blockade with the ship in its current condition. Discussion of a new engine, weapons or armour plating takes place, all requiring funds far beyond the pittance residing in their collective bank accounts.

A call to Vain would organise a deal with a local armourer and shipwright, Dara, with an account set up in the name of the crew of the Wellington. Dara runs a repair shop in the upper reaches of Vega named 'Robo & Friends', and has many fine weapons and ship parts on hand should the buyer have the coin. Vain's associate Leroy forwards the needed money and a new engine is installed within the Wellington, the vastly superior and more powerful Mk. 88 Panther. With that the ship should be able to outrun any pursuing blockade ships. But the blockade was orchestrated by Lone Star, a mercenary company paid by the Ghool to enforce their trade ban on Vega. Posing as a member of Dara's repair crew, and with her permission, Elias sabotaged the Lone Star Fighters responsible for rapid response against blockade breakers, installing on their ships haywire devices to be activated remotely. Their ship ready for escape there was but the debt with Vain to be paid, and he had just the job in mind for the group to repay him.

Valentine is a famous hover-bike rider on Vega, a 10 time world champ in the local race course and scoundrel of some renown. Importantly he is also an associate of the Triad, enemies of the Yakuza. Vain's wish is for Valentine to be relocated to another planet, where he could race for the Yakuza. This was not Valentine's wish, and so a kidnapping was to take place. While Creg visited the local Mega-Mart to purchase some chemicals with which to create a sedative Maeleth and Pablo put their impressive detective skills to work, visiting the sports bars and gambling establishments of the city to gain more information about Valentine. It would seem the rider lived at the race course, his apartment high above the stands in the presidential suite of the attached hotel. His handler, a Yuan-ti by the name of Sleepyhead, was also a target for the Yakuza, and the price on his head would be paid out in full if Valentine's kidnap also resulted in his death. Thinkfinkle facilitated the purchase of some raceway crew uniforms and Elias constructed a series of false ID's to allow them entry to the facility. Within the Wellington living quarters, and ice-creams in hand, a plot begins to form.

The next day a van approaches the gates of the raceway facility. Marked with the brand of the Dwarven Thisenkrupmt Engineering it is waved through by the guards. The driver, one Omnibus Falcone, checks out and the security are too busy for a thorough check. It is such that a Thisenkrumpett van backs into the Thiseknkrupt facility within the raceway, and several heavily armoured figures emerge. Swinging their power mauls and shouting terse commands Pablo and Maeleth quickly surpress the cowering Dwarven mechanics while Thinkfinkle lowers the view-shield on the far side of the pit-lane. A single human crewman gives issue to the armed men, but his unconscious form is quickly bundled in a nearby cupboard. Half of the Dwarves are locked in a storage room while the rest cautious don their face obscuring helmets, now matched by 5 similarly clad new figures. The plan was in motion. Valentine's bike is prepared and taken to him by a disguised Elias. Although overwhelmed by the crowd and the roar of thousands of personalised advertisement holograms he manages to spoke Sleepyhead in the corporate box far above. He voxes their co-ordinates to Maeleth who forwards them to two Elven snipers laying in wait. Many strings had been pulled to access these elite marksmen, but the bounty on Sleepyhead was more than worth it.

As the race begins the crew of the Wellington bundle into the race management area of the pit lane, watching the race on a massive screen alongside hundreds of readouts and data streams coming from Valentine's bike. On the second lap, as agreed, the leader of the Dwarven mechanics called Valentine into the pit. Although furious about losing his second placing in the race Valentine acquiesced, knowing the mechanic would only call him for repairs if the problem was serious. But Hans had made the call with a gun to his head.

It was footage that would be shown over and over again in the coming weeks. A group of helmet clad figures grabbing Valentine and bundling him into a van. Figures with faces obscured injecting the superstar rider and carrying him to a waiting vehicle. A different angle, where one could see the famed bike wheeled into the very same vehicle. Footage of that vehicle bursting out of the raceway in a cloud of yellow-brown gas, the guards helpless to stop them as they choked and weezed on the floor of their pillbox. Many would speak of it as the heist of the century, or the decade at the very least. Some see it as overshadowed by the assassination of the Yuan-ti known as "Sleepyhead" in the executives box, some mere metres from the envoy from Fortress Earth. But for all the drama surrounding the event all would agree that this was the day the name Wellington became etched into the consciousness of the people of Vega.

'The History of the Spaceship Wellington', Chapter 8: We are good smugglers…as it turns out

The van burns through the streets of Vega, pursued unsuccessfully by security cars from the raceway. Burning into the hanger Valentine and his priceless bike are quickly stowed aboard the Wellington, new Panther engines purring loudly as the ship makes ready for take off. As Elias crowbars the docking pod off the side of the ship a warning light begins to flash on the central console. 'This ship is not cleared for takeoff'. It was now or never, and Thinkfinkle punches the engines to full burn. Flocks of Ptera-Squirrels scatter as the ship swoops through the high-rises and skyscrapers of Vega, passing the busy sky traffic of late afternoon and leaving the planet-bound police sirens far behind. In the mess of buildings and mining platforms above Vega the Lone Star fighters wait. They swoop in like birds of prey, firing upon the Wellington with heavy laser turrets. Nearing the edge of the civilian space traffic a few of the fighters fall away, Elias having triggered his traps aboard their ships. But the rest continue pursuit. Hands plugged directly into the AI core of the ship Thinkfinkle redirects the ship, moving away from the blockade ahead into the heavy mining cloud surrounding the asteroid facility above Vega. Weaving between mining ships and chunks of ore he loses the the pursuing ships, ducking beneath the final sentry turrets that mark the edge of Vega airspace. Warnings blink as the Ghool warship flags the illegal vessel but punching their slipstream drives the Wellington leaves their pursuers long behind them.

The journey to the Bower system takes around a week with the new Panther engines, a troubling but ultimately uneventful week for the crew. After many months of disrepair the ship is cleaned top to bottom, a strange chunk of metal removed from the hold and jettisoned and the broken holo chess set slowly repaired. Within his quarters Valentine complains constantly, but a steady dosage of tranq keeps his cries quiet at the very least. Most time is spent in solidarity, each crewmember minding their own business and seeing to their jobs aboard the ship. But at a meeting on the final night of slipstream travel a decision is made. Those gathered presently would continue to travel as the crew of the Wellington. The disturbing fact is not lost on Thinkfinkle that this is the second such declaration he had been part of in the past year.

Half a dozen ships orbit the moon of Bower IV, voidships many kilometres long and bustling with thousands of crew. The Challenger is the largest, military vessel bristling with weapons and surrounded by combat air patrols. It hovers above the Siren, a diplomatic vessel bearing the sigils of Fortress Earth. Some distance away a broad vessel named the Typhoon blinks with hundreds of lights, the civilians aboard the transport going about their daily lives despite the threat of the Ghool blockade. The three newcomers keep their distance from the moons usual garrison, three mining ships that call Bower IV home; the Huntress, Fade and the New Beginning. The group meets with the Quartermaster of the Challenger, a grizzled but handsome woman by the name of Aria, and pass over beaten and dishevelled Valentine. She seems impressed by the group, at the very least their gusto, and promises them future work if they find themselves in the area. The transfer of the Yakuza goods takes place aboard the Typhoon, a crew of port workmen bearing the appropriate pass phrases taking the boxes with little ceremony. The frozen form of Rudolf is turned over to Thinkfinkle's contact Dr. Leon Powell, a previous traveller on the Wellington and a member of the Fortress Earth delegation aboard the Siren. He pays handsomely for the prize, and the crew spread amongst the markets and armourers of the assorted ships spending their well earned pay.

Chapter X: Stakeout

The Typhoon and Free Moon of Bower IV

"It's a faerie-king's lost hoard, cast onto the vinds of fate. Or else a ghost-ship, fat vith pirate plunder, seeking it's vanished captain. Or, perhaps supplies for a new colony, claimed by a greedy Dragon still livink in it's midst"

Corvic snarled at his Scoutmaster, downing his vodka in frustration. "I send you out for intel on this target Orgo. You bring bek only fishwife's gossip."

"I hear this from Port Authority Boss! And from Ares Security! Nobody's story metch up, nobody knows the truth!"

"Somebody does," spat the mercenary, eyeing the surrounding crowd. His head whipped around as loud voices rang out, complaining of the meagre spoils of the fabled Archwizard.

[Rumours of a Treasure-Ship]
The mercenary bars and drinking holes of the moon Bower IV were abuzz with rumours and speculation. Grizzled warriors and sly criminals alike whispered over cups of alcohol concentrate, the many privateers, mercenaries and gravity-jacks of the small moon all talking about one thing. The treasure ship Archwizard was set to return. And the crew of the Wellington, only recently come to Bower, were not the type to ignore treasure of any kind. Maeleth makes his way through the dive bars of Bower trying to find information about the ship, finally stopping at the table of one Skaaro Gromriltooth, a Dwarven techno-barbarian of some repute, a Thane to the great Chieftain Attilus Gromriltooth. But Skaaro is interested in more than being a thane, and plans to slay a great space Wyrm aboard the Archwizard should it appear. Maeleth spends many hours drinking the with the Dwarves, earning their respect and their place as a potential ally in the raid on the treasure ship.

Leaving the bar-hopping to other folk Elias makes his way to a matrix jack port, entering the data-stream on a rented console within a branch of Solomon's Kafhouse. He sorts through rumour, speculation and the rantings of the deranged, spending many hours splitting fact from fiction concerning the ship. Days later he returns to the Wellington, eyes dark from days of little rest, and presents to the crew a holo-slate detailing his findings about this mysterious treasure ship.

The Archwizard:
The ship was launch 260 years ago, during the start of the expansion. It was a colonisation vessel, built by industrialists 'Mage Avionics' and home to an experimental mageo-technological device. The device was a dimensional transport object, stepping the ship through time and space to travel great distances more quickly.
At some point during it's maiden voyage the Archwizard fell beyond the bow wake of the universe itself, the tail end of reality, and transported into true non-space. This was the last that was heard of the Archwizard as a colonisation vessel, it became something else entirely.
Since that time the ship has returned every three years like clockwork, surfacing for a few days before casting itself once again back into the ethereal plane. During this time explorers and adventurers of all kinds flock to the ship, eager to find the treasures and wonders said to be held within. The ship has long since becomes infested by fey creatures and magical energy, not to mention the bodies of the thousands who have fallen trying to conquer the vessel. It is all at once a game preserve, salvage yard, fighting pit and warzone. And, if rumours are to be believed, the home of wealth beyond measure.

Slightly tipsy from days of drinking Maeleth also returns to the ship, and combining the information gained by both parties the crew begin to set a plan in motion for raiding the treasure-ship, becoming wealthy beyond measure and renowned the galaxy across. One step at a time.

Maeleth leads Cred, Thinkfinkle and Pablo to a local beer-hall, 'The Tap', with a series of goals. Firstly they would discern the knowledge of other groups in town for the ship, secondly they would sow disinformation in these groups and finally they would attempt to sabotage these groups. However, true to form, these well laid plans are thrown out the window when Pablo and Maeleth start a brawl with a group of locals. These men are Neo-Russian mercenaries, muscled and tattooed with the sickle and rifle sigil of their people. They had taken a disagreement with Pablo, who had spoken loudly about having already raided the Archwizard and returned with nothing. And as is often the case terse words eventually lead to blows. The crowded bar parts to allow the fight to take place, each member of the crew pairing off against an opponent, while their fellows cheer them on. Creg's elite skills prove too much for one man, his leg swept from beneath him and his head slammed into the hard floor of the bar until through broken and bloodied teeth he begs for mercy. Pablo and Maeleth do not fair so well. Pablo takes a brutal beating from his bearded opponent, eventually rising covered in bruises and putting down his opponent in a single expert punch. Maeleth is laid into by the leader of the group, his back bulging with the tell-tale signs of bionic reinforced muscles. He is beaten substantially until the leader is pulled off by his fellows, returning to their table with the unconscious form of Creg's opponent. Supporting Maeleth between them and sporting scrapes and bruises of their own Creg and Pablo leave the bar. The distraction had been successful. Nearby Thinkfinkle sorts through a bag of weapons, taken from the bars weapons lockers while the fight took place. Some of those exploring the Archwizard would find themselves woefully without weapons.

Back at the Wellington, salves and bandages covering their wounds, the group is approached by another group of mercenaries. The 'Razorwings' are a small band, and having heard of the abduction on Vega are eager to work with the Wellington on the treasure ship. Their second in command Theos sits down with the crew of the Wellington, as well as the Thane Gromriltooth, to make a deal. The Wellington will attempt to sabotage the Lone Star forces on Bower IV and in return will have the support of the Razorwing and Gromriltooth groups on their approach to the Archwizard. Eager for the support of actual warships in their endeavour the crew accepts, and a ceremonial cup of ice-cream is enjoyed to celebrate the alliance. Lone Star is a private military corporation of some clout, and the crew of the Wellington have tangled with them before. On Vega they operated the Ghool blockade, and long before on Osaka they led the Mayor's Posse to Vulcan Peak. That night Thinkfinkle and Elias leave the ship with a hooded object, returning hours later empty handed. Aboard the Lone-Star warship Bulldog ammunition is loaded into their main cannon battery. The guards nearby, resplendent in silver carapace armour, fail to notice that one of the rounds loaded aboard does not match the others. A melta warhead, deposited by Thinkfinkle minutes early and set to explode remotely is loaded without notice into the ammunition cache of the Bulldog, set to sail for the Archwizard the very next day.

Dozens of ships line up at the edge of Bower IV air space the following morning, waiting for the magical anomaly heralding the Archwizard to appear. The Wellington lines up next to the Razorwing III and the Longship, vessel of Skaaro Gromriltooth. As the cresting wave of warp energy starts to appear in the far distance the ships throttle out of Bower and towards it, groups breaking off and weapon fire flashing from amongst opposing salvage teams. Far above the Bulldog begins to burn towards the ship's arrival point. But not for long. Within the Wellington a switch is flipping and the melta-warhead within the Lone Star vessel set off. When the ships would pass the vessel minutes later they would find a hull burnt half away, and bodies spilling out into the void. The Razorwing ship passes wordlessly but Gromriltooth gives out a whistle over the vox, "remind me not to fuck with you fellows". But the sabotage was not the only plan in play, and the three ships are soon harassed by a trio of hacker drones. These small unmanned vessels send corrupting data into the systems of the ships, attempting to stop them from reaching the Archwizard. The Razorwing III and Wellington easily fight off their attackers, crushing the offensive coding and destroying the drones. But the Longship is not so lucky, caught behind it is attacked again and again by the hacker drones until eventually an excellent piloting manoeuvre from Thinkfinkle rams the drone out of the sky with the bulk of the Wellington. Their threats handled the three ships go their separate ways, pushing towards the purple storm that represents the arrival of the Archwizard into real-space.

The Wellington attaches to the Archwizard at what was once an escape pod area, but the long dark corridors little resemble any ship known to the crew. Rocks and metal are intertwined in the arches of the abnormally tall and high hallways, and small motes of bio-magical energy float like jellyfish in an eerie cloud. Fenrir pushes the orbs away with telekenisis, unsure of their effect if touched directly. Some corridors are collapsed, crumbled stone or fallen steel barring passage, but within one dead-end the crew find a series of crates containing a strange fungus like device. Unsure of their origin they are returned to the Wellington, on the off chance they are valuable. A strange crystal skull scans those present, but as it starts to glow red and emit a warning tone it is swiftly crushed by Creg's boot. He shrugs and the group continues. Through a corridor of glass the group happens upon a strange orange orb, floating in mid air above a series of glass shelves. Fenrir surmises that this is a magical interface port, and extends his magic into the device. With a strange hum the device powers up, allowing the mage access to security footage from throughout the Archwizard. Nearby he spots a group of Dwarves, constructing a crude barricade and carefully watching the opposite entrance to the room. These Dwarves are strange however, with sharp quills in the place of hair and cracked stoney grey skin. Armed with long glowing spears and heavy black armour, these were clearly creatures of the Archwizard. With the press of an activation key he releases one of the locks on the room, revealing a transparent wall of light hiding those within from the room beyond. Within the room the Dwarves continue to guard the opposite direction, and with quick ammo checks the crew of the Wellington burst into the room.

With a flash of grenades and a spray of las fire the crew of the come upon the Dwarven forces from behind. A few of the targets drop to the ambush, but most shrug off the fire in their heavy black plate armour. From their hiding spots Creg, Maeleth and Pablo rush to meet the dwarves, hefting swords and maces and shouting battle cries. From within the Dwarven ranks two figures emerge. One, a robed figure with a glowing staff, begins to fire beams of molten light at the party, forcing them to duck for cover. A beam makes contact with Fenrir, blasting him off his feet and back through the hidden wall. The second figure wields a sword twice the size of his stout Dwarven form, a black blade with crimson and gold runes that glow with malice. He holds off Pablo and Maeleth's shock-maul blows with unusually deft parries. The Dwarven wizard begins to send out ebbs of dark energy, pushing Creg to the ground and burning the flesh on his face. Drawing his shield Creg dashes towards the wizard, deflecting blows of harmful magic upon the plascreet buckler before eventually running full pelt into the diminutive robed figure. As he smashes his shield again and again into the skull of the wizard magical energy is cast across the room, swirls of chaos that smash into the minds of those present and reveal to them horrible truths and better unspoken horrors. Eventually with a final slam the wizards skull spills across the ground and the spirits are banished, turning into cool blood that rains upon all those within the room. A darkness falls across the room as the glowing medallion around the wizards neck dulls. A voice is heard from across the room: "Thank you my dear. He kept me out for some time".
The new figure gracefully walking down the steps at the other end of the room seemed at first an Elf, a Drow but for the unnatural beauty and needle sharp teeth. With a roar and cries of "anathema" the remaining Dwarvens charge the strange woman, their spears raised high. Taking advantage of the distraction Maeleth draws his shock whip, pulling the Dwarven Swordsman to the ground where he is slowly and brutally bludgeoned to death by Pablo's maul strikes. As their leader dies the Dwarves reach the strange lady, their spears finding only thin air as she dodges their clumsy blows deftly. She retaliates with her bare hands, felling the Dwarves with sharp blows from her elegant fingers. Taking advantage of the distraction Maeleth charges the creature, but cannot land a blow. In the corner of the room Thinkfinkle hurriedly assembles his new weapon. Purchased from the black markets of the ships orbiting Bower the weapon is a prototype, and Thinkfinkle had bought it from it's designer at great expense. It was sold as a 'G33-r.12. Mark 7 Anti-material rifle', but the Gnome referred to it fondly as his "melta gun".

A burst of light arcs across the room, vaporising the barricades, Dwarves and corpses in it's path and slamming straight into the strange lithe woman. All caught before the weapon simple cease to exist, naught but ash falling to the ground where they once stood. As the dust settles a figure kneels before Maeleth, her pearlescent skin burnt and scarred by the powerful weapon. Flesh flakes from her skin as her unnatural regeneration attempts to counteract the powerful wounds she had received and the she-monster extends a hand to Maeleth. The daemon ignores him and turns to the rest of the party, regrouping wounded and exhausted for a final attack. Words spit from her blood splattered lips; "The rest of you bore me. But I will take this one." And in a burst of light and a whiff of sulphur the pair disappear, leaving the crew of the Wellington to behold the bodies and strange silence around them.

Chapter XI: Treasure-Hunt

Exploring the Archwizard

A call from Voodoo would break the silence, the AI calling from the 'Wellington' with panicked tone. He had reported a contact moving near the ship, and was requesting someone come back to inspect the disturbance. Creg, heavily wounded from his fight with the Dwarven Flamecaster, volunteers for the task, limping back to the ship with blade and shield in bloodied hands. Their numbers heavily depleted at the loss of Maeleth and Creg the group never-the-less pushes further inwards into the mysterious vessel, intent on making their sacrifices worthwhile.

[Dungeoneering & Dragons]
Path blocked by the Archwizard teleportation grid, and unwilling to experiment with the strange device the group backtracks and heads through the rocky tunnels nearby the Wellington's docking point. The tunnels represented all that remains of an asteroid mine, long ago merged with the hull of the ship by magical energies. The party finds themselves clambering through these rocky caverns and tunnels, swaying mining bridges a far cry from the advanced technology of the rest of the ship. Within one such chamber the group finds the rotting remains of a human sage, his arms barely visible beneath a boulder dropped from the ceiling above. In his firmly grasped hand is a notebook, the Sage's hurried notes detailing his purpose in the Archwizard.


The Sage's final words lay heavily upon the minds of the crew, and they begin to realise the Archwizard may represent more than just a dangerous treasure ship. The motivations of this "Morgoth" must be investigated, and if necessary stopped. Moving through the caverns the group comes back into the ship-proper, deftly avoiding a trapped corridor by way of a cartwheeling Thinkfinkle. Disarming the trap the group finds its previous victims, men dressed in the same manner as the crushed Sage and carrying many strange magical items, including a rusted but salvageable holo-slate. The trapped corridors give way to hulking stone pillars, reaching from the carved stone floor farther than the naked eye could see high above. The pillars seem to glow with an otherwordly light, and for all of Fenrir and Elias' knowledge they could not discern their original or purpose. Their study is interrupted by a fearsome roaring echoing through the chamber, and expecting trouble the group pushes on towards the sounds. In the dark room beyond the burnt ruins of mining outposts sit in a rocky chamber with vaunted roofs. From behind the ruins lurk a pair of massive dragonlings, their chests glowing with green flames. But the creatures were not natural, flesh hung from their bones and their bodies smelt of the rot that covered their forms. With an unholy roar the undead dragonlings leap from the ruins and surge forwards.

Two of the dragons swoop upon the party, unleashing bellies full of green flame and scattering the figures below them. Pablo takes the brunt of the flame, blasted onto his back and streaming grey smoke. One of the creatures is forced onto his back by a melta blast from Thinkfinkle, and kept down as it's form is smashed by blasts from Elias' laser pistols and Thinkfinkle's melta-gun. The second beast rounds on Pablo, but is held off by swings of his vast sword, plucked from the hands of the Dwarven Paladin he slew only hours earlier. He cuts deeply into the rotten flesh of the creature, removing it's wings and finally plunging his blade deep into it's glowing magical heart. Meanwhile Fenrir is assaulted from beneath the sands, smaller undead dragons nipping at his robes and breathing smaller green-flame bursts at him. He eventually sees them off with blasts of magic and swings of his staff. Screaming at the deaths of it's fellows a final creature dives from where it had nested on the rooftop, but with the others dealt with the combined shots of Elias, Thinkfinkle and Fenrir easily turn the beast into a smouldering wreck.

Drawing his hunting knife Elias begins to cut the rotting flesh off the bones of the fallen dragons. Eventually the bones of the three dragons fill the Wellington's grav-trolley, and the acid-fire ruined knife is tossed aside. Nearby the group finds a pile of golden jewels and coins, and these ancient valuables are bundled into a sack and tossed in the trolley to be sorted later. Amongst the piles Pablo finds three casks marked with a stylised heart. Against the urgings of his peers he takes a swig from one, and remarks that he feels much better. Unsure about whether the casks are magical or Pablo is a good liar they are stored with the other valuable items.

Moving further into the caverns the party finds a room identical to the transport chamber they had found earlier. After a few minutes of investigation Fenrir informs the others that the chambers are in fact identical. A series of rooms that exist in multiple places aboard the ship simultaneously. The chambers operate as a teleporter, moving their occupants from place to place within the Archwizard. Fenrir likens the purpose to an ancient train, with multiple stations. Albeit one that transports through the ethereal realm of meta-magic, rather than on iron tracks. As the Orc swipes through different rooms the group sees forested plains, ancient metal ships and even a room flooded by luminescent liquid. Eventually they come upon a room with a single Dwarf within, sitting with his back to a barricade and clearly watching a series of crates. Bursting through the false-wall of the teleportarium the party comes upon the unsuspecting Dwarf, capturing him before he can even react. Elias takes from his possessions a heavy-bore pistol, marked with the runes of the strange arcane-Dwarves they had encountered. Pablo questions the captive, but can make out little from the Dwarves slurred and strange language. His existence ends at the end of Pablo's sword.

Chapter XII: Mexican Standoff

Rival Gravity Jacks falter in the beer-flood

"Getting rather sick of you pointing that gun at me Elias."
"Gettin' rather sick of you trying to kill members of this here crew Gnome."
"I will tell you again, it was a perfectly innocent mistake."
"It always is…"

[Party politics]
The dragonlings and Dwarf dispatched, the crew of the Wellington return to their vessel to deposit their valuable hides and bones. There they find Creg, his blade bloody and eyes locked on three motionless forms stacked against the walls of the Wellington hold. He had arrived to answer Voodoo's emergency call, but found himself running into the ship's would-be raiders. Blocking the bullets from an automated turret on his heavy metal shield Creg engages the group, slaying a combat drone and a heavily augmented man in robes with heavy blows from his sword. The final target, a man in an armoured voidsuit in the form of an actual formal suit, begins to flee back towards a nearby docking pod but is easily knocked unconscious by a backhand from Creg. His heavy boot crushes a vox-blocker held by the group and he has Voodoo send out a distress to the others. It is only after the hail is sent that he realises with a shudder that it was the same audio that called him back to the ship. The Archwizard was playing havok with reality, as it prepared to re-enter the ethereal plane.

The crew returns to the Wellington, meeting Creg and picking through the possessions of the team that attacked the ship. The attackers were a sabotage team from the Nylese forces, the same who had sent the drones to attack the ship on the journey to the Archwizard. They are humans, mercenaries in service of the Dunefolk in an attempt to capture the ship and the recovered treasure. Their vox now unblocked the ship starts to receive panicked reports from the Razorwing forces, the mercenaries allied with the Wellington in the salvage of the treasure-ship. They were reporting heavy attacks against them in the refinery district of the ship and requesting backup. The bodies piled and the security of the ship re-established the group heads back to the teleportation array. Fenrir fires up the system and the group finds themselves stepping out around a kilometre from the refinery.

Moving through the metal corridors the group stumbles upon a strange scene. Shoulder high mushrooms are cultivated by hulking Trolls bound by iron collars, the massive creatures pulling the fungi from the ground and dropping them into large crates. Mingled amongst the slaves were their minders, Dark Dwarves holding command wands and shock lashes. Seeing the group enter the Dwarves drop their lashes and draw heavy laser pistols, firing off shots of yellow fire. The party engages, returning fire and rushing towards the slavers. Many of the Trolls cower away from the trouble, but one lurches forward. Taking his chains between his hands he loops it around the neck of his enslaver. As the last of the slavers are cut down the Troll pulls the chain tight, snapping the neck of the Dwarven overseer. He approaches the group, introducing himself as Girt, "a mighty warrior" who has been held captive by the Dwarves. He collects heavy plate armour from the Dwarves possessions and kneels before the party. He utters a simple "you save me, me fight for you" and hefts a massive rusted flail over his shoulder. Elias attempts to negotiate with him, but he repeats the phrase; "me fight for you", until reluctantly the party lets him fall in alongside them.

Following the passages from the mushroom harvester, Thinkfinkle leads the group towards the Refinery. At one stage they come upon a strange brewery of sorts. Thinkfinkle notices Goblins crawling along the brewery machines, operating and monitoring the strange items. With a snarl and a giggle Thinkfinkle removes the command wand he looted from the Dwarven overseers and sets the status to active. As one the explosive collars around the necks of the Goblins explode, instantly vaporising the heads of the slaves and sending blasts out into the brewery. As the brewing tanks empty their foul smelling ingredients the wash of Dwarven beer down the corridor, draining down the stairs to the floors below. The sounds of the brewing machines now quiet, gunfire can be heard from the floors below, the location of the Razor wing teams needing assistance revealed. Hurrying down the stairs the group finds a pair of Razorwing troops huddling behind a destroyed armoured vehicle. Shadowed figures fire upon them scaffolding across the room. They sit on buildings surrounding strange glowing ice crystals many stories tall and fire strange rifles at the huddled Razorwing troops.

Elias rushes to join the Razorwing troops, returning fire with his many pistols at the enemy figures, while the rest of the party advance under fire. Creg pulls his medical kit from his pack and rushes to the wounded Razorwing troops, trying to save those he can, while Pablo and the Troll Grit draw their heavy weapons and rush towards a pair of figures emerging from the buildings ahead of them. Pablo clashes his sword against a tall lithe figure wielding a two-handed scimitar, the pair locked in a swift and deadly duel. Meanwhile Grit butchers his way through the enemy Gravity Jack's, laying them low with single swings of his flail as he marches through their ranks. High above the enemy snipers are pushed from their perches by ball of magical force by Fenrir, falling to the ground far below or burning to ashes on the magical ice pillars. Thinkfinkle, having avoided sight until now, begins to fire on the remaining enemies from the side, blowing them apart with expertly aimed krak grenades from his launcher. As the final enemy is slain Girt hefts his flail and looks around, a mad look in his eyes. He looks to the Razorwing forces, strangers in his eyes, and screams in rage. Two metres tall and weighing nearly a tonne in his full armour he barrels towards the bewildered allies…

Elias and Creg step out of Girt's way as he blunders towards the Razorwing, his mighty flail swinging wildly. Fenrir, standing amongst the Razorwing troops, sends a burst of magical energy at Girt, pushing him back a few steps. The rage in the eyes of the Troll intensifies and he begins to walk towards Fenrir. The Orc casts magical bolts at the Troll with immense force, but the Troll simply shrugs them off, beying for blood. He reaches Fenrir and with a single swing of his flail entirely removes the Orc Shaman's legs from his body. Bones crushed and lifeblood flowing on the metallic floor Fenrir begins to crawl away, Girt standing above him and howling maniacally. It is at this point that Thinkfinkle, notoriously interested in his own survival, draws from his pocket the exploding collar master wand. Seeing Girt round on the rest of the party, madness in his eyes. As he charges towards the group the collar around his neck clicks, and his head and torso vanish in a mist of gore and steel. Caught in the blast Creg is thrown backwards, and the Razorwing troops are peppered by the shrapnel of Girt's armour.

As the smoke clears only a few figures still stand amongst the carnage. Elias points his pistol away from the site of the explosion, where twenty metres away the Gnome Thinkfinkle stands, his melta-gun aimed dead on at Elias. Nearby Pablo stares on in amazement, unsure of what to do or who to side with. A wounded and scorched Creg sits nearby tending to the wounds of the remaining Razorwing troops, the others he had saved now killed by the explosion. He shouts at the top of his lungs at Thinkfinkle, accusing him of being a murderer, betrayer and of having performed certain actions with his mother. Listening intently to his friends tirade Elias' aim doesn't waiver. The two stand, guns aimed, for near twenty minutes, arguing about everything from the cause of the explosion to the justification for murdering the Goblin slaves and everything in between. It is only the voice of the sole Razorwing survivor, voice barely a whisper, that breaks the deadlock. "Would it be possible for you to wait until we escape this place before settling this? Since my men just died to find you Morgoth's location?" The two acknowledge the logic of escaping the Archwizard before settling debts, and guns are lowered. Morgoth has barricaded himself on the lower floors of the ship, and they would need all their strength to reach him before the ship drops back into the warp.

Chapter XIII: Showdown

The Genetorum Passage

The air seemed to shimmer around the crew of the 'Wellington', the walls crumbling and reforming in pulses of magical energy. Technology turns on and off over and over, and the lights flash brighter, before burning out. The group, overladen with salvage and loot from hours of combat aboard the 'Archwizard', pause and share questioning looks. The Gnome, swathed in a dark cloak, turns back to his comrades…
"What the bloody hell was that?"
"Morgoth I guess…"
"That fucker needs to die."

[Shortcut to Morgoth]
Unable to operate the Archwizard's internal teleportation grid after the death of Fenrir, the crew of the Wellington find themselves with no direction to choose but forward. They know that the enigmatic Morgoth awaits at the heart of the hulk, and the surviving Razorwing scout warns that chaos has broken out across all levels of the ship. Huddling around his tac-display, the scout points out territory being seized by different factions aboard the ship, from rival Jacks, to Nylese saboteurs and the Genasi crewmembers. At the bottom-most level, rebel Duregar led by an Ironblood fought a desperate retreat against their loyalist kin. As the battle raged, the crew's true options became apparent; they could either hedge their bets and fight free with their current takings, or seek a final end to the villain in the depths of the Archwizard. Whether driven by an inflated sense of duty or outright gold-lust, they settled swiftly upon a plan. In their final push for the genetorum chamber, they would ride a loading elevator down through the swirling battle. The freed trolls and Razorwings would create a distraction overhead, whittling away at the mutated crew in control of the upper floor. This would halt their rampage, enabling the Wellington crew to reach and reinforce the rebels in their drive towards Morgoth. As if to urge them on their way, the rippling gravity flux blossomed outward from the villain's sanctum far below. Steadying their courage, the heavily-armed group set out for one last effort.

Bullets, lasbolts, and elemental blasts shrieked and snapped in among them as the elevator whooshed down the shaft. Sheltered by wreckage, the crew were spared the worst of the waiting fire, which soon petered out as Trolls burst into the ranks of the enemy. Watching haphazard scenes of battle playing out on each floor they whistled past, the crew spread out among the beleaguered rebels pinned among the glowing nutrient-tanks. The shock of their counter-assault drove deeply in among the loyalist Duregar, with the scarred Ironblood leading a sally through the birthing suites in support of the unexpected aid. Surrounded by row upon row of slumbering Duregar clones, the battle was cast in eerie green light, with the howls of the dying echoing through the tunnels below. Morgoth's lieutenants - another band of adventurers long enslaved to his will - were brought to battle as they sought to lead a retreat. Caught at the mouth of the long, rough-hewn tunnel to their master's lair, their torrent of fire was borne upon Creg's shield as he waded through the smoke-strewn wreckage. Dodging sniper fire and blurring scrapcode-blasts, Pable sprinted into grips with a lumbering security robot, pummelling it with relentless blows. His pistols blurring, Elias snapped off pinpoint shots that beheaded each sniper as it emerged to take aim, enabling Thinkfinkle to reach a high point of vantage. As Creg struck low the gold-armour Quaestor leading the loyalists, the Gnome placed a neatly aimed krak grenade at the feet of the fleeing commander. In a flourish of pink mist and white light, the Technocrat vanished and the way to Morgoth was opened.

As they reached the tunnel-mouth, a huge detonation shuddered through the walls and hurled them from their feet. Several floors above, the Nyelse had triggered their failsafe device, sending a blast through the ship to deny rival teams their prize. Tonnes of rock and sundered steel plunged down into the bowels of the ship, smashing through the vital birthing rooms and slaughtering the remaining Duregar. Gravely hurt by the eruption, Pable was separated from his team-mates by a fallen wall of rubble. Staunching his wounds, he limped back upward, hoping to find signs of survivors.

Plunged into darkness by the failure of power, the last three crewmen of the Wellington followed their guttering mag-lamps towards a mesmerising break in reality. Stepping through the shimmering skein, they passed from the airless tunnel into a cool, weightless realm at the edge of the feywild. Metal, stone and plastic moved like water beneath their touch, as they approached a crystal throne drifting before an immense shard of crystal. Here was Morgoth, revealed as a languishing figure in hellforged armour, his cruel claws resting on a black-bladed greatsword.

With a sepulchral calm, Morgoth revealed that he had once been an adventurer, one of the first Gravity Jacks to ply the stars. He had counted among his companions Rabiyr the Endless, and Ziolo, finest Bard of the age and other mighty heroes he recalled. He knew them by other titles, which the party recognised as legendary names from childhood fables. Morgoth had a special hatred however for 'The Betrayer', a Ghool cleric whom he said had spurned the companions' friendships in order to steal the components to unlock 'Penumbra;'. This was a weapon, once used by mortal heroes to kill the Gods of the Ghool. In his thirst for revenge against the Betrayer, Morgoth was steering his vessel inexorably towards Fortress Earth, which he claimed was the cradle of all civilisation. To spite his former friend, he would erase the planet which was thought to have seeded the Ghool as a species. Though taken aback at these revelations, the crew were further stunned at Morgoth's final offer. He would make them his servants, he claimed, and in exchange for their betrayal of all civilisation, they would be granted boons and powers to reflect their new service. Listening to these words, Elias' thoughts turned to his homeworld of Osaka, rendered a putrid wasteland by the attentions of just such a creature. At his side, Ironblood thought of his foundling race, already spent and now near extinct in service to the hateful Morgoth. But as they simmered towards violence, Thinkfinkle and Creg stepped greedily into the light of the Crystal: "What would you want me to do?" they asked in unison. Gunfire sparked off Morgoth's armour as Elias loosed, and a molten bar of flame licked against the intervening crystal. A terrible voice boomed out from behind the smoke, shuddering through their bones. "Kill your companions. Prove your loyalty," it said. Emerging from the darkness, Thinkfinkle aimed his antimatter gun at Ironblood and muttered. "I accept." Seeing his former crewmates turn glowing green eyes towards him, Elias bolted into the darkness, the charred remains of the rebellious Duregar turning to ashes in his wake.

So Long, Cowboy


The Free Port of Bower was still scarred by the crash of the Lone-Star vessel Bulldog, whose ammunition-stores had apparently exploded mid-flight a mere day of so beforehand. The violent scramble to reach the treasure-ship had cost many in the station dearly, as the fallout of looting and sabotage by competing forces was left to them to clean up. But they were a tough bunch, living at the edge of what you would deem "civilised space." When the battered mercenaries came limping back from the disastrous race, so many of their ships and crews depleted and bloody, few were in a mood to deny the gun-toting mob of merchants and townsfolk what they were owed. Among the half-hearted celebrations and recriminations, a soot-stained pair limped towards the Starforge, trailing a group of war-weary Thanes. The dwarves sombrely bore an ironwrought sarcophagus, around which the crowds hesitantly parted.. At a wary distance from one another, Pablo and Elias followed Skaro Growmriltooth, Quencher of Dragonflame, on his last march of honour. As they walked, hair prickling on the back of their necks, they studiously avoided looking at the still-visible slipspace rupture far overhead. Through the grimy atmosphere of Bower's moon, it looked for all the world like a wild, accusing, green-lit eye.

Campaign Appendixes

Dramatis Persona:
Crew of the Wellington:

  • Thinkfinkle Puddleneedle Gnomish Pilot & Demolitionist - stubborn troublemaker.
  • Elias Frontiersman Sage; canny and methodical.
  • Creg Mercenary/Criminal Hospitaler; brawny, cavalier.
  • Pable Quent Intelligence Contractor & Sleuth; dogged and clinical.

Former Crew-members

  • Syrinx the Meliad: Elven cleric from the halls of Dust, warrior-mage.
  • Briar: Human from Fortress Earth, swordsman.
  • Dryw: Tech-tinkerer from the Forge-Worlds of the Dwarves.
  • Alver: Troll Seer from the roaming Troll home-flotilla. Academy of Magic graduate and mage.
  • Preston, the Radiant: Human priest with a predilection for fire based weaponry and of questionable sanity.
  • Jazz Terse Drow Ranger, seeking revenge on the leader of his former Deathdealer unit.
  • Kael Elvish Paladin, agent of Ravyir the Endless.
  • Maeleth Nightsong Wild-Elf Sentinel; eagerly dispenses justice.
  • Fenriir Orc Battlemage; patient and focused.

NPCs & Associates:

  • Skaro Gromriltooth Enhanced Dwarven Space-Viking, Cpt of the Longship
  • Theos 2IC of Mercenary Company the Razorwings.
  • Dr Leon Powell: Foundation geneticist, favoured passenger of the Wellington. [ES Siren]
  • Quartermaster Arya Foundation military & Yakuza agent. [FSC Challenger]
  • Bulgruup Orc bar-owner. [Vega City]
  • Kitty Yakuza hacker. [Vega City]
  • Whisker: Goblin junker, rumourmonger and handler for the crew of the Wellington. [Whereabouts unknown]
  • Beak-of-Many Ravenwatch Revenant. One-time passenger.[Whereabouts unknown]
  • Corporal Drummond Operative of Wyvren Industrial. One-time passenger.[Whereabouts unknown]
  • Crocodile Mysterious Osaka Yakuza clan Boss.[Whereabouts unknown]
  • Ravyir the Endless Elven Church Bloodhound, Quest Giver.[Whereabouts unknown]
  • Duncan McKenzie Champion of the Unshaven. Quest Giver.[Deceased]
  • Tweedlewhack Springsprocket Gnomish thief and fence. [Whereabouts unknown]
  • Sheriff Mars and Deputy One Osaka Enforcers, Guild of Judges. [Whereabouts unknown]

Maps and Relics:

[1]: Deep Speech carving

And there shall be Six Heralds of the descending dark, and by their deeds and their mark shall they bring about the break of Old Night.
For there shall come a Silence that follows a song cut short, and he shall be know as Skybreaker.
And there shall come a Sailor, who shall sail unwordly seas, and he shall be known as Seabreaker.
And there shall come a Delver, whose stride will cleave the earth, and he shall be known as Earthbreaker.
And there shall come a Seeker, whose quest will end in shadow, and she shall be known as Starbreaker.
And there shall come a Lover, beloved in despair, and she shall be known as Manbreaker.
And at the end, the Betrayer will come, and he shall wield Penumbra and be known as the Breaker of Faith.

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