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    Default Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    (OOC thread here)

    Chapter I
    Ignorance Is A Virtue

    The hold of the Arvus lighter was cramped and dingy, the tooth-rattling whine of the craft’s engines and the heavy drumming of rain against its battered hull making conversation near-impossible. Strapped into their seats, the five passengers regarded each other circumspectly through the gloom.

    The hatch to the cockpit banged open – leaning through, the co-pilot gestured expressively for the passengers to put on their headphones. One by one, they complied, the thick ear-pads muffling the racket of the battered aircraft as the man heaved the hatch shut once more. There was a crackle of static, and the flat, metallic voice of the pilot greeted them from their headsets. He sounded bored.

    “Making our final approach to Hive Sibellus, cliff-side. We should have landfall within ten minutes.” The lighter lurched as it hit a pocket of turbulence. “Weather conditions continue unfavourable – bear with us, gentlemen. In the mean-time, Inquisitor Al-Subaai has transmitted some in-flight entertainment for you.”

    There was a loud electronic hum as the pict-caster on the forward wall of the hold came online – white noise drifted across its screen for a few seconds, before clearing to reveal the image of a dark-skinned man with a short beard and a shaved head – cranial implants creased his bare scalp, running down beneath the black monastic habit that cloaked his glossy carapace armour.

    “Greetings, Acolytes,” came the Inquisitor’s voice. “I apologise for the short notice: you are no doubt wondering why I have brought you here. I am regrettably unable to attend to this matter myself: I am engaged in investigations of my own in the Lucid Palace.”

    “Two days ago, a shuttle entered Hive Sibellus airspace: its authorisation cleared, and so it was admitted to the hive. This incident would have gone unnoticed if today we had not received a delayed astropathic transmission from the Navy Frigate Light of Vengeance, warning that any craft bearing those same authorisation codes was to be impounded, and its crew arrested. The shuttle belonged to the heretic Megaera Merrick – she escaped the Light of Vengeance’s custody in the Quaddis system, and has clearly made her way to Scintilla.”

    The Inquisitor scowled, his image flickering.

    “Merrick is a dealer in darkness – she trades in nascent psykers, stealing them from under the noses of the Black Ships and selling them to those who would use the powers of the Warp for their own ends. She is wanted on counts of treason, possession of forbidden technology, consorting with Xenos and heretics – and resisting arrest.” There was real rancour in the Inquisitor’s voice at those last words.

    “Your mission is to retrieve Merrick – preferably alive, but dead will be acceptable – by any means you deem appropriate. She is known to be armed and dangerous, and accompanied by at least two similarly armed associates. You have been selected for the skills that will allow you to bring her to justice. However, there is a complication.”

    The screen buzzed, and the Inquisitor’s face disappeared – instead, a 2D schematic of Hive Sibellus took its place. One sector on the seaward side flashed, and expanded to fill the screen.

    “Merrick’s shuttle entered the hive at Port Tabernos, in Sector 963. Sector 963 and the adjoining sectors are the territory of an emergent sect known as the Star Children. They are pending investigation to be accredited as an official branch of the Cult Imperialis.”

    “In ten years, the Children have turned Sector 963 from a den of scum and villainy into a productive shuttle-port and manufactorium. Their success has been so dramatic that I have had an Interrogator in Sector 963 for some time now, observing the Children for any sign of unusual activity.” The screen crackled, and the Inquisitor’s face re-appeared. “When I was informed of Merrick’s arrival in the sector, I immediately attempted to contact him, to no avail. He has, apparently, vanished off the face of the Hive.”

    “Your orders, then, are twofold – to locate Interrogator Phobos, and with his assistance, to capture or kill Megaera Merrick. The Interrogator should be able to provide you with all the intelligence you require on Sector 963 – you are to defer to any orders he gives you.”

    “One last thing – Merrick is no fool. Her presence on Scintilla so soon after her escape implies she is on the trail of a prize worth the risk – in all probability, a high-grade psyker. We have had no reports of any such activity from Sector 963 or those nearby, but Merrick is known to employ detection methods based on Xenos technology, which may be more sensitive than our own. If you should discover such an individual, it is your duty to the Inquisition and to the God-Emperor to preserve them from Merrick, and bring them in for immediate removal to the Black Ships – or, should they fall into the traitor’s hands, to bring them the Emperor’s absolution.”

    “Transport will be waiting for you at Port Tabernos to take you to Phobos’ last known place of residence. The Emperor protects.”

    There was a resurgent crackle of static, and the screen shut off, the after-image of Al-Subaai’s face fading slowly from their retinas.

    “Coming in for landing now,” came the pilot’s voice again. “Brace yourselves, back there.”

    The passengers felt a lurch in the pit of their stomachs as the lighter dropped, engines protesting – the little craft shook as its landing-gear grazed the ground, skipping once in the buffeting wind before settling more firmly onto the landing-pad. The whine of the turbines slowly decreasing in pitch, the engines shut off – the hydraulic bolts in the rear of the hold fired, dropping the lighter’s access ramp with a metallic bang and letting in the elements in a rude shock of rain and wind.

    Unbuckling themselves, the passengers staggered out onto the landing pad – above them, the metallic heights of Hive Sibellus soared, an impossible mountain of stone and steel that vanished into the swollen clouds. Stretching out beneath them, black granite cliffs rose sheer out of the gunmetal-grey sea, vast waves crashing against the crags – metal gantries clung to the cliff-face in an intricate spider’s-web, framing the black mouths of tunnels that led back into the depths of the Sibellus under-hive.

    Port Tabernos protruded from under the umbrella of the lower hive’s steel skin, landing-pads and heli-ports standing proud of the cliff-edge in a forest of metal struts. Thanking their pilot, the acolytes hurried towards the shelter of the hive proper, the driving rain making the guide-lights of the landing pad behind them seem to swim and glitter like a swarm of fireflies. True to the Inquisitor’s word, a black-painted car was waiting for them, standing out starkly against the wind-blasted ferrocrete frontages of the hab-blocks abutting the port.

    Their driver was a quiet man, with a bald head and close-set eyes. Admitting them to his vehicle in polite silence, he took off into the depths of the sector without a word, his eyes fixed firmly on the road the whole time. Despite its stylish exterior, the car was old – its engine rattled and roared, once again stymieing any attempt among the acolytes to talk among themselves without having to shout.

    At last, they found themselves pulling up outside a weathered old hab-block, the glow-globes on the street outside casting long shadows in the lower-hive gloom. The paint on its wooden door was cracked, the sea air that breathed in from the port seeming to scour and corrode everything in this part of the hive – leaning out of the window of the car, the driver held out a key, speaking for the first time in their journey.

    “This is the place I was told to take you. They said to give you this,” he said, dropping it into the hand of the nearest acolyte. His duty done, the car’s engine coughed back into life – the vehicle roared away, turning a corner and vanishing from view.

    For the first time since they had boarded the lander, quiet descended. It was just them, and the waiting door.
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-02-23 at 06:49 PM.

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    Red clenched his hand about the item the driver handed him and took a moment to breathe in the smell and tastes of Sector 963.
    Another hive. Another Emperor-blasted Hive.
    The trooper stood with a wary stance, blue eyes constantly flickering around like candle-flames in the wind. It was quieter than he was used to, at least. Less people, too. Only four others. Maybe the water in here wasn't recycled through the systems of millions of others first. Maybe the air wasn't recycled farts.
    Maybe. This was an Inquisitor's residence before, right?

    Red was wearing a half-hearted black-and-gray pseudo-camouflage pattern on his uniform. He was from a hive unit, after all, and the best you could hope for as camouflage in a Hive was it being too dark to see you, anyway.
    He glanced at the item in his glove, revealing it openly enough for his companions to get a good look at it.
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    Too many buildings, too many people. How he longed for the harsh wilderness of his home. But he had left that behind, along with the last few remnants of his past. He was an acolyte, now, and he had a job to do.

    Phrez grunted slightly as he made sure his gear was situated properly, weapons ready to be drawn at a moment's notice. Deciding it was dark enough out, he carefully removed his sunglasses, and stuffed them into his backpack. Glancing at Red's hand, he tried to make out the object that was being held.

    "What is it?" He inquired, his already gruff voice distorted slightly by the respirator he wore over his face.
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    The youngest member of the group was the third one to exit the vehicle. Having taken the time to go back to the Trunk and recover a rather large staff of some sort, which he proceeded to clip over his shoulder using an equipment harness.

    His black body-glove armor melded with the darkness, but his pale skin struck out. His eyes, concealed behind a slim photo-visor, give but a passing glance to his surrounding, focusing instead on the remainder of the squad.

    He remains stoic: saying nothing, he turns his attention to the keys in Red's hand then to the door to which they belong to.
    Last edited by Saldre; 2010-02-23 at 08:46 PM.
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    OOCly: I missed the fact that it was a key. >.>

    "Key." Red replied simply, immediately tossing them in an easy, underhand arc to his fellow guardsmen.
    "Still don't trust the residence. Some people in the Hives can bypass security, just like everywhere else."
    The hiver then took a moment to ready his lasgun and stacked up on the hinge side of the door.
    "Whenever you're ready."
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    Phrenz easily caught the key, and nodded. Holding the key in his left hand, he drew his axe with his right. No sense going into an unknown situation unarmed. Not if you wanted to live, anyway.

    Fitting the key into the lock, Phrenz glanced around to make sure the others were ready. When he was sure they were, he unlocked the door, and gently pushed it open.

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    If the door is stuck, Phrenz will attempt to kick it down. Rolling Strength, just in case it's needed.
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    Jericus studied the rest of his group with interest. Slightly concerned at the threat of combat this early into their venture onto the planet, he pulled out his lascarbine and made ready for combat.

    He remained silent, staring at the door with a bizarre interst.

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    The inside of the hab was almost pitch-black – Phrenz didn’t seem to mind, stepping over the threshold with axe held ready. Following him, one of the others felt for a light-switch – there was a click, and a few weak ceiling-lamps flickered half-heartedly into life.

    They stood in a narrow entrance-hall, a vacant coat-hook the only object adorning its otherwise bare walls. Three square openings led into adjoining rooms – a pokey kitchen, a similarly cramped bedroom, and the largest of the three, what looked like some kind of study. From the thin layer of dust on the floor, it seemed no-one had been here for at least a week.

    Kitchen
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    The kitchen is basic, but clean and tidy, and contains all the necessity amenities – opening the refrigeration unit reveals some of the food within is spoiling. The cupboards are full of dry foodstuffs and mass-produced crockery. In one corner, there are a few packets of cheap recaf, and a percolator – behind them is a bottle of amasec, of a rather good vintage. The inside of the oven is still dirty from whatever it was last used for.


    Bedroom
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    The bedroom contains a narrow bed and a single wardrobe: the Interrogator seems to have rather Spartan tastes. There are some clothes of reasonably high quality in the wardrobe, and a dressing gown and slippers hanging against the back of the door: there are no shoes, however.


    Study
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    The study is dominated by a large desk – a tall stack of papers that was originally on one corner has slipped sideways across its surface, covering it in a mass of parchment. A few of the articles have fallen to the floor around it – picking one up, you can see they are leaflets and handbills proselytising for the Star Children. Some of them bear annotations in red ink, although the writer’s handwriting is something of a scrawl.

    Apart from the desk, there is a comfy chair in one corner, and a cheap, old-fashioned vid-screen in the other, its control resting beside it on its pressboard stand: it has a slot that takes data-slates. Its power is still on – a small green light indicates that the data-slate slot is currently occupied. Finally, there is a sturdy-looking metal safe in the wall behind the desk: it is controlled by a key-pad.

    OOC: A Literacy test can decipher the unclear handwriting of the annotations on the Star Children’s literature. With a successful Security test, Jericus can interface with the safe & override its locking mechanism: alternatively, a Difficult Strength test with an appropriate tool (i.e. Phrenz’s great hammer) will bust it open. The Trade test can only be made once; the Strength test can be repeated indefinitely, but will make a lot of noise.


    OOC: Read whatever your character looks at. If you want more information on anything, just ask.
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-02-24 at 01:24 PM.

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    The final member of the small group was an unlikely looking one. He towered over the others, all 6'9" of him, shipboard life and tall parents having allowed him to keep growing well beyond the average. A shipboard Provost's uniform with the ship insignia patch torn off clung loosely to his frame, a slight bulging around the torso indicating some sort of armour padding worn underneath it. He remained silent, head down, checking and rechecking the double barreled shotgun held in his hands. His only other weapons were a small holstered pistol and a battered sword. For all his spindly height, though, he looked as if he had the muscle to use that sword.

    Hieronymus finally looked up just as the door clicked open. Looks deserted. He declared before going to take a look in the kitchen. Definitely deserted, he added a moment later. Some of the food in here has gone off. While he was talking, he took the bottle of amasec off the counter, as if to declare that he now laid claim to it.

    After all, he doubted the original owner had any use for it anymore.
    Last edited by Destro_Yersul; 2010-02-24 at 05:48 AM.
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    Phrenz kept his axe at the ready as he entered the study. After making sure no one was lying in ambush, he hooked said axe onto his belt to get it out of the way. Stooping, he picked up one of the discarded papers and regarded it for a moment before discarding it once more.

    Noticing the vid-screen, Phrenz made his way over to it, and hit the button to initiate playback.
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    No doubt the last to enter, Olympus shuts the door and leans against it.

    He ponders the Provost's opinion for a few moments. Then steps away from the entrance and enters the study. There being little he can do at this particular time, he finds a corner to wait for the more Tech-capable members of his squad to handle the machinery in here, while keeping an eye on the Vid-screen.
    Last edited by Saldre; 2010-02-24 at 10:24 AM.
    "Have You seen the Yellow Sign?"
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    Originally Posted by shadow_archmagi

    DM says: WHY!? WHY!? WHY?!
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    Player hears: GOOD JOB PLAYER! DO IT AGAIN AND AGAIN!
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    In the Study

    The vid-screen sputtered into life – the image of a man’s face resolved itself on the screen, lit against a backdrop of clean stonework. The high dome of his head was bald and smooth, a trimmed moustache and short, pointed beard framing his mouth. Black, expressive eyebrows rested above the man’s dark eyes – there was something curiously compelling about his gaze. The recording had clearly been stopped mid-play.

    “- We need no saints, no high confessors to tell us this. We are all the children of the Great Father – one family. Can it be surprising that He has closed his eyes to us, to man’s inhumanity to man – when we have robbed and slain our own brothers?”

    “He is waiting to return to us, to a time when we can nourish and restore His Imperium to a state fit for His presence. Only then will His Children have earned their place at His table. It is our task to bring about His dominion.”

    The man smiled.

    “It is better to die for the Emperor than live for yourself. How much better, then, to bring a new life into the world to serve its Father? The human body is the greatest sacrament to Him – go forth then, and multiply, that the Family of Man may grow to command the stars once more.”

    “The love of the Father is the measure of His Children.”

    There was a click, and the recording reached its end – with a fuzzy crackle, the screen went dark.
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-02-24 at 12:12 PM.

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    When the recording burst to life again, Jericus ran through into the room. He caught most of the recording.

    Jericus ignored the visored man, and set about attempting to locate a time stamp or chronomark on the recording to give some indication of when it was played and recorded.

    Tech use, right?
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    Well. Bad roll.
    Last edited by Etcetera; 2010-02-24 at 12:24 PM.

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    Ejecting the recording's cartridge from the machine, Jericus could find no indication of its age - it had the appearance, however, of something manufactured for mass distribution, a serial number stamped on its casing. On its other side, there was a yellowed label: it read "Calling to the Stars: The Doctrine of the Great Father."

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    Jericus placed the dataslate back in the vid-screen, and pressed the play button, with the intent to watch the whole recording from the beginning.

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    The screen flickered again, and the man’s face reappeared, lit and framed in exactly the same way it had been before.

    “Hello,” he said, addressing the camera. “My name is Alexei Lysenko, and I am here to tell you about the temple of the Star Children.” He smiled a beatific smile.

    “You may have heard many things about us – our works in the Sector, our creed and our members. To better spread our message, we have distributed this recording free of charge across Sector 963. We hope you will heed our word – for every man and woman on Scintilla has their part to play in our vision.”

    He launched into a list of the sect’s works – apparently they operated an infirmary, an orphanage, and a hospice.

    “Some people have expressed worry about our approach to our followers’ children. Let me assure you, these fears are groundless.”

    The picture changed to an image of a large room – its walls were clean and white, its floor carpeted and littered with various toys. A multitude of small infants were laughing and playing within.

    “The children of those who choose to accept the doctrine of the Great Father are raised together – the better to understand the bonds of family that connect us all, the all-encompassing Family of Man. But they are not separated from their parents – indeed, the love of parenthood is one of the purest expressions of our faith.”

    The video cut to a woman nursing her child, a look of radiant motherly love on her face.

    “We do not seek to undermine your families – we see their strength, we honour it, and we wish to extend it to combat the ills of our society.” The man’s face reappeared. “When I arrived in this sector, I saw for myself the moral degradation of Sibellus Hive. Crime was rampant, and that crime was based on gang warfare – gangs formed around ties of blood and childhood friendship. Since we have begun preaching the Great Father’s word, gang violence has plummeted – because our followers are all tied by those same bonds.”

    From that point, he segued smoothly into the statements of faith that he had been paused in the middle of when they first played the recording back: what preceded what they had already heard did little to clarify it, seeming like a rather strange re-interpretation of the Imperial Creed. The Emperor was clearly identified as the Great Father, but Lysenko seemed to prefer to use the latter name at every possible instance. At every turn, there was constant reference to family – the over-arching Family of Man, which, when all men were truly brothers, would call to the stars for the Great Father’s physical return.

    Playing back to its end, the recording clicked off once more.
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-02-24 at 01:21 PM.

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    Phrenz snorted, then turned away from the vid-screen. "Just another crazy cult. Violence is a good thing. Weeds out the weak and useless."

    With that, he moved to the safe and began to fiddle with it. "Hey, Tech boy. Think you can get this open? Or should I give it a go?"
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    Red, with his lasgun still shouldered and at the ready, made a quick sweep of every room, beind double sure to check his corners.
    As soon as he was satisfied that the hab was, indeed, clear, the lasgun returned to its resting place across his chest.
    The Hiver then makes his way back into the bedroom, and drops his pack, bow, and arrows on the bed, swinging his lasgun to a more comfortable shoulder-carry afterwards.
    The first thing he did was check all spaces within easy reach of someone asleep on the bed for a weapon, moving any he finds to the centre of the bed with the rest of his gear.
    Then underneath the bed for anything remotely interesting (Or a good pair of boots), which he again pulls out into plain sight before lastly rummaging through the closet for anything that might catch his eyes, paying special attention to any decent clothing that would fit him.
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    Red's search under around the bed yielded nothing: examining the wardrobe, the clothes within seemed of a better make than he would otherwise be able to afford - although their previous owner had been a little taller than him. Shirts, trousers, one set of understated but smart formal wear - no sign of a coat or boots, however.

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    Setting the formalwear aside, the Guardsmen rummages through the rest of the bedroom.
    Assuming nothing is found, Red moves to the Study.
    "Well, at least we have a base of operations whilst we're here." He says semi-brightly.
    "Dibs on the bed."
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    The youth maintains his stoic facade throughout the entirety of the recording. Though his smile remains unwavering, he subconsciously drums his fingers on his staff.

    When the video finally ends, he speaks for the first time. His voice is jovial and his tone polite, reinforcing his good humor.

    "Very wise mister...." He says to the feral guardsman, pausing a moment to get his name. "There is, after all, no bond greater then the one between the truly devout and the Emperor." He nods politely to the man then, turning to the rest of the group he continues.

    "If he stopped the recorder midway... I'd say he was interrupted." He taps two fingers over his forehead.

    "Could it have been someone at door? Someone he recognized perhaps, sent to bring him a message?" He asks, then slinks back against the wall, seemingly rather comfortable.

    His eyes drift from the group, settling his gaze on the black screen that moments ago displayed Alexei Lysenko's face, etching the latter into his memory.
    Last edited by Saldre; 2010-02-24 at 06:32 PM.
    "Have You seen the Yellow Sign?"
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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    The Provost finishes looking around the kitchen and joins the others in the study, still clutching the bottle of amasec. Find anything important? He asks the tech priest before going to take a look at the papers. This handwriting is terrible... He squints at them, trying to work out a few of the letters.

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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    "Just a bed and some mighty fine rags." Red admits to the provost. "His boots and coat were gone, and there were no weapons in the room. Theorise he was pulled away - possibly whilst reviewing this vid, as you just said," he nods to the youngest member if the group. "Whomever came calling was likely not explicitly hostile, even giving our mark time to get ready, though not much was probably needed. From there - likely scenario is an ambush.
    Anybody know if theres some way we can find out who came calling on our 'friend' recently?"
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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    He squints at them, trying to work out a few of the letters.
    Heironymous could not decipher the Interrogator's scrawl - however, the words "Great Father" in the printed literature had been circled several times. One line that appeared as the closing statement in several of the pamphlets had been underlined:

    "Multiply, for the Voice of the Father is waiting to be born."
    Last edited by LCP; 2010-02-24 at 07:16 PM.

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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    Jericus made his way over to the safe.
    "We could assume that when the interrogator left he was wearing different clothes to his usual ones. Cult robes, perhaps?"

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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    The keypad bleeped three times - there was a harsh, electronic buzz, and the narrow input-screen went blank, the metal door remaining locked. The locking mechanism was clearly more advanced than the safe's exterior implied.

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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    This might be a bit of a leap, but they call the Emperor 'the Father,' right? Here they say that the Voice of the Father is waiting to be born. You think they're expecting some sort of divine birth? An Emperor's Prophet, or something? If they are, it's no wonder they're being investigated.
    Last edited by Destro_Yersul; 2010-02-25 at 05:29 AM.
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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    "It's possible." As Phrenz spoke, he grabbed the large handle that was protruding from his backpack, pulling out his Great Hammer. Hefting it with both hands, he brought it crashing down onto the safe.

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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    "It's nice to know the safe is safe enough to stop people breaking into it. The inquisition obviously spends proper money on keeping its things safe."
    Jericus turned around just in time to see a hammer smash down into the safe.
    "Watch out, you might break the safe".

    Jericus turned to see if he could make more sense of the scribbled notes. And succeed on a skill check.
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    Apparently not.
    Last edited by Etcetera; 2010-02-25 at 10:38 AM.

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    Default Re: Suffer The Little Children [Dark Heresy] - IC

    There was a sharp metallic snap from within the safe – the door swung open, its corner crumpled and buckled by the hammer’s impact.

    Inside, there was a sheaf of neatly-stacked papers – written in the same hand as the annotations on the leaflets, but more neatly – and a small, ornate metal box, as might contain a ring or some other gift. Curiously, it had been repeatedly wound round with duct tape, holding the lid shut.

    Examining the leaflets, Jericus could make little more sense of them than the Provost – the Interrogator’s notes were written in some kind of idiosyncratic shorthand. It would take much more time and effort than he could spare to decipher their full meaning.

    Papers in the Safe

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    The papers seem to be some rather more formal notes on the Star Children, interspersed with some more general information relating to Sector 963. There are a lot of them, but if you look through them, you can recognise:

    • A timeline of the sect’s arrival and expansion, seemingly composed by the Interrogator himself.
    • Biographical backgrounds of Alexei Lysenko and other members of the sect.
    • Copies of the official documents for the Star Children’s holdings in the sector, including details of purchase and floor plans.
    • A reasonably up-to-date register of births, deaths and marriages in the sector.

    Last edited by LCP; 2010-02-25 at 11:38 AM.

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