Entering The Mortis Thule
We’ve set off into the void, my first journey with this crew. We’re heading to the Processional, a collection of space hulks. Seems like this could be a profitable endeavour as there must be endless archeo and xeno tech to be salvaged. With luck, there will be some interesting weapons as well. One strange note, though. We’ve been “requested” to investigate a specific hulk named the Mortis Thule by space marines, of all people. I don’t understand why, but the rogue trader was wise not to turn down this “request.” My relationship with the Adeptus Arbites is already complicated, I don’t desire additional complications with the Adeptus Astartes.
We’ve encountered a genestealer infestation on the hulk and barely survived. We were engaged by multiple swarms of genestealers as well as a large monstrosity. The rogue trader’s personal guard were ripped to shreds as we continued fighting. Just as all appeared to be lost, several space marines broke through the hallway hull, found us, and engaged the monstrosity, allowing us to focus on the swarms.
The battle progressed and although our navigator, Zoltan, fought admirably, he suffered grievous injuries. Tactically, however, it was his own fault. I still fail to understand why, but during the firefight, he broke formation, ran through a swarm of tyranids and made his way into the distance down the hallway until all I can see of him was a shadowy outline. Why he would run off on his own rather than stay in formation to fight side-by-side with his fellow comrades is beyond my comprehension. Moments later, a flash of light shot through the hallways from around the corner, the source of which we could not see, but we did see the navigator crumpling to the ground.
Soon after, and again, I cannot comprehend why, Divis yells out “I’m a medic!” and proceeds to run through a swarm to the navigator. Predictably, we saw another flash of light and the tech priest goes down.
By this time, the three space marines had dispatched the monstrosity at the cost of one of their lives. The other two approached us and asked the rogue trader if the navigator, the tech priest and the rest of the rogue trader’s crew were idiotic fools. This very same question rang loudly in my head. The rogue trader sighed and simply said, “Apparently.” Two thoughts flashed across my mind. First, I’ll need to have a word with Divis and Zoltan soon about basic combat tactics. My second thought is: What the fuck did I sign up to?
The two marines proceeded to engage the remaining genestealers and told us to retreat. We did not question and did so. The marines mopped up the remaining nids at the cost of another marine’s life, but the last surviving marine recovered the bodies of the navigator and tech priest. The navigator’s leg was severed and the tech priest had lost an arm. From this point forward, the space marine carried Zoltan. To the tech priest’s credit, however, it did not take long for him to regain consciousness. He is both, a tough bastard and has some amazing healing tech running through his veins. I’m coming to realize that the tech in his body is also possibly the cause of his less than sane state of mind. Given the option, it’s a trade-off I may not have taken.
Into The Warp Aboard The Mortis Thule
After making our way to the bridge, we discovered two key pieces of information. One, this hulk will be entering the warp and two, there appeared to be a single operational gellar field deep in the core of the hulk. With little choice, we marched on.
As we neared the location of the gellar field, a group of armed but haggard looking men descended on us and ordered us to stand down. I prepared to draw and open fire. We faced nids and survived…marched for hours…encountered fluctuating gravity and were thrown about…I was in no mood to be ordered around by a group of ragtag sewer rats. But as I was about to draw my weapon, I saw the Lord Commodore complied with the shouted commands. This gave me pause and I reconsidered. Perhaps starting a firefight in our condition would be rash and the Lord Commodore’s decision proved to be a wise one for the moment they saw the space marine behind us, the sewer rats themselves immediately stood down.
What we discovered was a group of several hundred men, stranded on this hulk, huddling under a single operational gellar field array in what may have been a cargo hold. A large portion of this mass of humanity were chanting and praying, especially now that a member of the Adeptus Astartes has made an appearance. Oddly, the Lord Commodore just sat down on the ground, shut down his comms, and stared off into space. This crew gets stranger and stranger.
The gellar field flickers on and the hulk enters the warp. I look over at Divis as he stares at the gellar apparatus above us. It appears rickety to me but nevertheless, as far as I can tell, it seems fine. I hear him mumble a few things under his breath, something about a scrutiny and tech use check? Clearly mad. Suddenly he snaps out of it and declares to the rest of us that the field will fail and he needs to climb up there to fix it.
To support him in this suicidal plan, our rogue trader and navigator began throwing men from the masses around us out of the gellar field to distract the demons and horrors that have now materialized outside of the gellar field now that we’re in the warp. The rest of us open fire upon the demons.
Divis runs out and climbs up the ladder to the gantry over to the gellar field apparatus. Along the way he passes out several times, but always seems to manage to wake up and continue his suicidally heroic sprint. At one point, while on the gantry just short of the gellar array, he passed out for an exceptionally long period of time. At the same time, a strange man amongst the crowd yells out “I’ve got to die to get back to normal! I don’t have any weapons!” He then proceeds to run out of the gellar fields straight into the welcoming maw of some demonic horror. The moment that poor sod is ripped to shreds, Divis wakes and makes his way to the apparatus. What an odd coincidence.
Divis repairs the field then jumps down, falling many floors back to the ground of the cargo hold protected by the field. However, his self-hrorepairs did the trick. He also yelled out something akin to, “Yay! I’ve been awarded two fate points!” I’m getting accustomed to his mad rantings.
As a side note, Divis later confided in me that the malfunction was due to two loose wires that had come apart. Once he identified the problem, all he had to do was twist them together and secure them. TWO LOOSE WIRES!! That was all that stood between us and a hopeless battle against an overwhelming demon horde!
Beam Me Up, Divis
After dropping out of the warp the more technically inclined amongst the crew determined that not only had we exited the warp in the same position where we entered, but had also located a teleportarium deeper within the Mortis Thule. We quickly determined that our best hope for survival was to march further into this monstrosity, located the teleportarium and use its arcane secrets to teleport us off the hulk and back to our own awaiting ship.
About half of the masses decided to join us, believing that the space marine would lead them to salvation. The other idiotic half decided to stay, believing that they are being punished and to join us would be to act against their proper fate. We did not care much, either way. We are searching for a way back to our ship and the lives of these masses presented little value or profit so to us, it mattered not if they marched with us or stayed behind. But obviously, any chance at survival would mean coming with us.
The space marine tired of carrying Zoltan and rightfully so as doing so hindered the marine’s combat effectiveness. The marine suggested Zoltan’s other leg be amputated. This would make Zoltan a much smaller, easier package to carry. I wholeheartedly supported the idea as the space marine was obviously the most combat effective member of our party and if we need anything at this point, we need combat effective party members. The rogue trader and navigator, however, were not fond of the idea. Instead, they looked to those who joined us on the march to the teleportarium, amongst whom were some engine feeders. Their brawn led handily to carrying our crippled navigator on a makeshift portable platform.
And we set off deeper into the Mortis Thule, searching for this teleportarium before it jumps once again into the warp. After hours upon hours of marching, we emerged into a massive, open space. We continue searching for the teleportarium until we come across a horde of, for the lack of a better description, zombies. Some kind of powerful psycher comes up and addressed us. This psycher seemed to have some limited control over the zombies, but himself was simply the mouthpiece of a darker power. This darker power did not yet show itself to us and was willing to allow us pass if we engaged in a trade. We’d be provided safe passage to our destination in exchange for Zoltan. Presumably, that dark, unknown power saw Zoltan as a tasty snack. The rogue trader refused but offered up the masses that marched with us. The trade was refused and the zombies attacked.
For reasons I cannot begin to fathom, the psycher helped us by focusing on suppressing the dark power from manifesting in our reality. While he was doing so, the psycher told us to run and the zombie hordes attacked. Now make no mistake, I am all for destroying hordes of zombie monsters the hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of zombies outnumbered us three or four to one, including the masses of non-combatants that followed us. So we pursued the only option open to us – we ran. We ran through the zombie hordes towards a structure that, according to Divis’ auspex, housed the teleportarium. Our crew members got through mostly unscathed thanks to our superior armor. The masses behind us, however, succumbed to the zombies. A few managed to scrape through but the couple hundred had been reduced to mere dozens.
Onwards we moved and Divis led us to the teleportarium entrance, located behind a locked, secured door at the center of a three-way intersection. As Divis worked on getting us through the door, genestealer hordes tracked us down and attacked. Amongst the hordes was another large nid that Zoltan recognized. It was the nid that fired off a beam of energy that ripped Zoltan’s leg off. For Zoltan, this was personal and he put his entire being into taking down that nid. The battle raged on as the space marine, rogue trader, and navigator focused on the large genestealer while I rallied the remaining non-combatant survivors against the hordes bearing down on us.
Then it happened.
A beam of energy shot out from the large genestealer, directly striking Zoltan. The navigator was hit and was hit hard. We saw in his face…in his eyes that he fought to live, fought against succumbing to his wounds. But that nid had finished what it started weeks earlier when it took off Zoltan’s leg. This time, it took Zoltan’s life.
In a rage, Ulysses charged the nid and engaged in melee combat. I had not expected the rogue trader to go face-to-face with the horror and it became clear to me he is far more proficient with a sword than a gun. The civilians and I continued to fire upon the hordes but wave upon wave came and they made their way closer to our position. If only we had some grenades or flamethrowers dammit! Just as we were about to be overrun by the hordes, the rogue trader dealt a death blow to the large nid. As soon as it went down, the swarms withdrew into the distance. From somewhere deep within the ship we heard a fierce, ungodly roar. We had to move fast before the next set of nids set upon us.
Divis gained us access to the teleportarium, shut the door and began frantically working on activating the teleportarium. The genestealers banged on the door…dents appeared. Whatever was on the other side of that door, it was far larger than anything we’ve yet encountered. We yelled at Divis to hurry but as usual whenever he concentrated, he uttered nonsensical garbage. Then the room around us blurred and de-materialized. Colors and light sources slowly swirled together, mixed and merged, then after a moment separated back into recognizable objects and surroundings. We were back on the bridge of our ship! Divis had done it! But…..where was Divis?
Divis later recounted what he saw after he teleported us off the Mortis Thule. After he activated the teleportarium and beamed the rest of us to safety, he realized that while at the controls, he was not standing on the teleportarium pad. “Oops, small oversight!” His words, not mine. He searched for some way to set a teleport time delay. Meanwhile, the nids continued to bash the door and cracks were starting to form. Divis found the activation time delay, initiated it and ran over to the teleportarium pad. He saw the nids crash through the door just as the room swirled apart around him. At that moment, on the bridge of the Zelos, Divis materialized in front of us. We had all escaped the Mortis Thule
Mortis Thule Conclusions
This was my first journey with this new employer and it has taught me a few lessons. The primary lesson is we are wholly unprepared. During our marches, we lacked basic gear – we didn’t even have something as basic as rope! How can the crew of a wealthy rogue trader with enough resources to acquire planets NOT acquire something as simple as rope? And worse, aside from the lack of basic gear, we are also under-gunned. At the very least, we require arms with area blast capabilities – flame throwers, grenades, grenade launchers and so on. Moreover and worst of all, I vastly under-performed in combat situations. Not an occurrence I am accustomed to and I loathe the memory of those encounters. I have made it a point to seek additional equipment (gun sights, motion predictors, cybernetic implants, etc.) to improve my marksmanship as well as spend more time at the firing range. If I am unable to bring the force of arms to bear when needed, what is the point of my employment?