Into the Lion's Den

The crew reach out to the two disgruntled ex-cult members that they had watched get escorted from the Church grounds the previous day. Xeus determines that there is a very low budget monitoring program watching their message flow and intercepts it. The cultists were unaware of any of the rumors Dr. Argonine has heard about human trafficking, but they are able to give the crew a very detailed map of the inside of the cloister.

Xeus hacks into the administrative section of the Church and forges a set of high clearance access cards for the cloister. Dr. Argonine reaches out to a personal contact who happens to be connected to the clothier for the Church and has three maintenance outfits and one acolyte outfit delivered. Dr. Argonine shaves his head and dons the robs of an acolyte while the rest dress like mechanics. There is much discussion regarding attire.

Disguised so, the crew march fearlessly through the front door of the cloister after a not inconsiderable amount of deliberation. They see that the neural-cranial harness is being applied to over 50 monks in a grand chamber in the center of the building. Glowing lights and flickering images illuminate a crystalline lattice at the top of the chamber as the thoughts and dreams of the acolytes are piped through the system. Fokker notice that a set of tubes and wires make their way from this lattice into the rear-facing 2nd floor wall. Xeus makes his way for the computer room and learns that 9 suspicious packages have been delivered into the cloister and 8 have been delivered out to points unknown. He also finds the location of Thadius’ private quarters. Fokker heads to the machine room and rigs the power source for the neural-cranial harness so that it can be disabled from afar. Dr. Argonine flirts with an acolyte using a pick up line that does not prove effective and learns nothing. Leyland makes his way into the armory and leaves with a couple of non-lethal projectile pistols under his maintenance garb.

The crew head to the second floor of the cloister where they break into Thadius’ private quarters. Xeus reviews his communications and finds that he has expressed some concern over “the project” and “the subjects” to the head monk whose name is Varus. Varus has responded back by re-enforcing the urgency and importance of the church’s mission, and reminding him that the ends justify the means. Fokker notices a strange gadget in Thadius’ quarters which is revealed to be a piece of Svarogian weaponry; some form of power glove. He takes it with him…but at what cost!? Xeus checks Thadius’ calendaring program and learns that he is currently in the research center so they head that way.

Our heroes enter the research room with guns, fists and power gloves at the ready. They see four monks gathered around a variety of computers and monitoring equipment. Solar is strapped into a large metal throne-like seat with an enormous helmet attached to her head. The thick tubes and conduits coming from the neural-cranial harness network are feeding directly into the helmet. In the middle of the room is a fist-sized piece of slipstone which seems to be decaying into slipknot particles at such a high rate that it is visible to the human eye as a thick purple fog. A monitoring panel is set beyond that, apparently to detect the amount of particle discharge coming from the slipstone.

Varus seems to have been expecting Dr. Argonine and implores him to join them in their research. Dr. Argonine is having none of that shit and soon enough fisticuffs commence. A Svarogian cyber-panther leaps out from a storage room and puts itself between Solar and her would be rescuers. The crew defeat the monks which causes the cyber-panther to leap into action. Leyland hops astride the cyber-panther and with guiding from Fokker about its weak spot manages to deliver a stunning blow.

To be continued…

A Delayed Denouement
or Of Monks and Razor Monkeys

Time seems to come to a crawl as a tense battle ensues in the secret research facility of the Church of Humanity Ascendant. Xeus dives through the writhing tentacles of the out of control slipknot vortex to rescue Solar in seeming slow motion as Fokker and Dr. Argonine re-wire the quantum receiver at the far end of the room to become a slipknot magnet. The quantum effluence emanating from the slipknot begin folding in on themselves and pouring into the quantum receiver staving off disaster for another action-packed moment that feels like it stretches for hours.

A horde of cyber-enhanced monks pour into the room in a frantic riot. They split into two groups, one which bars the door and one which seem intent on capturing Dr. Argonine. Dr. Argonine finds himself pinned by one monk as another starts firing rapid strikes into his midsection, breaking ribs and nearly rupturing internal organs. Seeing their companion in grave and imminent danger, Fokker heads to the back room to look for potential explosives while Leyland focuses on the one monk not attacking Dr. Argonine. As Dr. Argonine is pummeled to the ground by the monks Xeus is momentarily distracted as one of his hacker exploits goes viral across the Cluster’s social media network. The monks brings out a menacing looking syringe and plugs it into Argonine’s heart, injecting a nano-tracker which will ensure that Svarog always has a means of tracking him down. Dr. Argonine goes unconscious from the pain and a searing sense of abandonment.

Meanwhile, Leyland finds an exit that would allow the team to circumvent the never-ending hordes of incoming cyber-monks but decides that dying is the better part of valor and decides not to use it. Luckily, Fokker and (arguably) his razor monkey find a couple of spare cyber-panther batteries and uses them to blow out the back wall of the research facility. The crew grab Solar and the unconscious Dr. Argonine and drop down into the alley behind the Church and make their way into the black of night.

They learn that through Project Epsilon, the Svarogians have engineered a small number people like Solar who have the ability to manipulate quantum interactions with their mind. This has allowed them to generate exponentially more slip particles from a mass of slipstone, which in turn has allowed them to start opening previously dormant slipknots into uncharted solar systems. The crew realize the importance that someone with this power could have across the entire Cluster, and especially on the conflict brewing between Svarog and Aurix. They use the ships medical bay to put Solar into a medical death state and generate authentic medical documentation of her demise. After reviving her and safely securing her they head back to Folly’s Pucker to report back to Quandos Vorn. They use the death records to show that Solar is gone but otherwise truthfully share what they have learned. Quandos falls for the ruse and returns Xeus’ hacker friend to his custody. The crew sail off from Folly’s Pucker with arguably the most important and powerful person in the Cluster sleeping quietly in their hold. What adventures will the crew of the SS Smell of Success SS find themselves in next? And what will come of the Cluster as the stability that it has known for centuries comes to a crashing and chaotic end? And what role will the great, powerful and stunningly handsome Shah Habi play in the future of the world to come?


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