Echoes in Darkness

And the Rabbit Hold Goes Deeper...

Resurrection, cultists, and ancient ruins, oh my!

The party’s previous trip to the northern end of town left the group with a couple of lines of investigation, as well as a burning desire for extra psionic protection gear. The group makes arrangements for anti-psionic head-gear, which will take about two weeks to complete. As the custom gear cost a significant amount of money, the group decides to try and find a job to make up the funds. The party ideally wants to find a delivery job with a decent Xavier goes to talk to the concierge about jobs. On his way, Xavier catches a glimpse of someone in the elevator. The person’s profile seems to be familiar…but he doesn’t get a good enough look to fully recognize the person. The TAS concierge attempts to locate a job, but as the concierge isn’t as “liberated” as the last one the group encounters, the concierge isn’t able to find the party a job.

After Xavier’s return, the group begins several separate threads of activity, based on the output from the Mall area. Hat hits up the local area infonet for information on the Cult of the Ancients, as Hat wants to get to the bottom of the strange influence he encountered during the Mall trip. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information available on the net about the specific version of the Cult that Hat encountered. Hat does learn that the Cult is very decentralized, and that what he saw at the Mall must have been either a travelling band or a very rare cultist gathering. Hat asks the TAS concierge to keep an ear out for information on local Cult activities.

Xavier begins researching the Ancients themselves, as the news of the Cult has awakened his old archaeological interests. Unfortunately, the planet the group is on isn’t known for archaeological interests, or even scholarly interests in general. However, Xavier is able to find long-running rumors about undiscovered Ancient ruins in the Maya sub-sector. Xavier realizes that the pawn shop dealer the group bought equipment from recently might be aware of some delivery jobs of questionable legality that might just be what the group needs. Unfortunately, Xavier has one of his trademark “stumblings of the tongue” while talking to the proprietor, which gets him promptly kicked out of the shop with nothing to show for his time or trouble.

Rav and Khuil head out to a nearby spacer tavern to take stock of the rumor mill. Rav in particular is looking for essentially “space folklore” in order to try and understand the events on Gath. Rav does hear one particular rumor from multiple people. It seems that multiple starships have detected “odd” energy readings in some of the trade routes in the periphery of Athame. There is no particular property associated with the readings, other than the facts that the readings were picked up in areas where there really should not have been energy reading, and that the energy readings match no publicly-known source. Rav decides to make an investment into the future by planting vague rumors of the incident on Gath into the crowd, in the hopes that the interest created by the rumor will lead to new information about the Gath incident at later date.

While Rav and Khuil are preparing to head out of the tavern, Rav overhears a somewhat-familiar voice. Circumspectly looking that direction, Rav seems what appears to be the back of Chuck Finley’s head!. Chuck is meeting with a group of extremely similar-looking military-like individuals. Rav is not able to overhear much of the conversation before the group leaves, but from the tone of the conversation, Chuck is very much the leader of the group, and does not seem to be engaging in the eccentric, academic persona he had used during the trip to Gath.

Phineas, meanwhile has better luck finding the group a job, albeit with some interesting clients. The band of cultists from the Mall want the team to act as bodyguards for the cultists trip to the Brotherhood capital world of Athame.

The group gathers back up and discusses all of the various findings and options. The team decides that barring some extreme reason to do otherwise, the team will take on the job. This job will get the team some needed cash, get them to Athame without having to pay for the trip, and give the team the chance to investigate the cultists. In the meantime, the team will investigate Chuck’s presence on the planet, as the incident at the spacer bar indicates new depths to the Gath case. Since Xavier saw a familiar profile in the elevator at TAS, the group operates on the theory that Chuck and his companions are staying at the TAS. The team decides to set-up a recon patrol of the entrance of the TAS building, to try and catch Chuck and his team as they leave the TAS building, so that they can be followed and further investigated.

Xavier and Phineas go off to call the cultists and arrange for the details of the job. Meanwhile, Rav and Khuil set up recon posts for the day, with Xavier acting as coordinator from inside the building. Rav loiters around the street entrance, while Khuil sets up shop at the top of a nearby tall building, using his sniper rifle scope to monitor the building from afar. Khuil attempts to observe the penthouse suite of the TAS building through the balcony windows, but isn’t able to observe anything that would indicated the identity of those staying there. The first attempt at recon of the TAS building doesn’t yield any results.

Meanwhile, Phineas and Hat call the cultist leader, who reveals that his name is Hamilton Alexander. There are twelve cultists, who wish to leave in two weeks. The pay is 10000 credits plus fare for each person. As the deal is finalized, Hat overhears Xavier working with Khuil to recon the upper penthouse. Hat discreetly uses his clairvoyance powers to try and check the penthouse psychically, but does not detect anything either.

The next day, Rav and Khiul set up shop for recon again. While observing the street, Rav gets quite a shock when he sees Jason Thumbrill and Leslie Lawrence walking down the street together! As members of the BIG operation on Gath, both individual should be free-floating atoms right now, not walking down the street, looking more fit than they did on Gath! The group follows Jason and Leslie, with Khuil taking the lead, as Jason and Leslie have never seen him before. Jason and Leslie head towards the spaceport, getting in line for a ship headed to Athame. Rav also observes what appears to be one of Chuck’s military companions in line for the same ship.

Phineas buys ticket for the outbound ship and heads inside. Since he wasn’t with the group on Gath, he can investigate the situation onboard without being detected. He manages to overhear Jason and Leslie drinking together. Jason and Leslie are now referring to themselves and “Jimmy” and “Sallie Mae”, former members of Blue Sun Research. According to the conversation, the two are headed to Athame to see the sights on the capital world. Having confirmed that Jason and Leslie are not planning to leave Athame immediately on arrival, Phineas leaves the ship before it takes off, and lets the group know what he found out.

Two weeks later, the group receives their custom head gear, and boards the ship with the cultists to Athame. The cultists have taken up quarters near the main cafeteria area, with the team nearby. The days start off uneventful,with the only thing of note being that Rav gathers a group of rumors during one gathering session in the cafeteria. However, one later night, while on his usual guard post, Xavier is accosted by a member of the cult named Susie. While Susie is definitely not the brightest tool in the shed, Xavier is able to get some information from her, including that Hamilton Alexander, the cultist leader, is a scholar and a researcher. Xavier gets invited to dinner with the cultists.

Xavier decides to accept the dinner invitation, and even more interestingly, decides not to use his anti-psionic headgear during the visit. After a meal of cold lentil soup, Xavier and Hamilton have an extended discussion about the Cult and Hamilton’s background. Hamilton’s belief is that the return of the Ancients is imminent. He points to the time when the “Stars are Right”, which is this case is not when a set of stars physically align, but is instead when a set of cosmic energy fields align. Hamilton’s current project is to identify the local area conditions necessary for such an alignment. He mentions in the course of his research that it would be theoretically possible to artificially create this alignment using a series of wide-scale (interstellar scale) energy disturbances. At this point , Hamilton brings out his notebook, which contains all of his current Ancients research. The contents of the notebook appear odd, as they are an eclectic collection of scientific and magical theory that does not seem to align with the organized nature of the man himself.

Xavier then draws Hamilton into a conversation about Hamilton’s background. Hamilton was once a professor at the University of Massandra, a prestigious university on Massandra, an Imperial Core world. After a number of years teaching, Hamilton chose to leave the university due to it’s focus on “minds” as opposed to “hearts”. Hamilton also explains the crown jewel of his research, which was a journey he took with some other academics while he was at the university. Hamilton and his colleagues visited a “red-core” sector, located galactic-east of the Imperial core. On one of these worlds, the group found a fantastic machine, located under a quarter-mile long plain of marble-like material, located in the middle of a jungle. The machine was an amazing mix of electronic, mechanical, and biological components, though the group was not able to discover what purpose the machine had. The machine was powered, and the underground area was artificially climate-controlled. Hamilton does note that the team did not see anything in their starship scans that would indicate why the Imeperium had designated the sector a restricted-travel “red-core” sector. The team left after their initial survey, intending to return for a follow-up visit. However, now-visible and active Imperial military patrols made a return difficult, and the death of Hamilton’s assistant sapped his interest in returning. Very strangely, Hamilton claims that he cannot remember the name of the star system, only that the planet orbited a blue-spectrum sun. Such stars do not normally have habitable worlds in their systems.

As the conversation draws to a close, Hamilton invites the entire bodyguard group to a later dinner. He also give two drawings supposedly drawn by Susie after she had visions. The first is a picture of Xavier, which Susie supposedly drew 3 months ago, long before the team met the cultists. The second is what appears to be a picture of Hat, with a portion of his head missing in a spray of gore. Susie has apparently drawn three copies of the picture in the last week…

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kingfrog368 Umr_Cocomonk

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