“The future is no more or less than the hell we fashion for ourselves in the present and gift to our children.”
-Inquisitor Arnulf Gentry, Notes on the Ninth Adrantian Trade War
Red Cell and Inquisitor Herrod and his retinue seem to fall for an eternity before finding themselves in a large thirteen-sided chamber enclosed with walls covered in closed archways that are filled with elaborately carved images. The massive ceiling is covered in huge glass windows showing a strange star and nebula-filled night sky and the center of the room is dominated by a strange mechanical contraption with a realistic statue of a young robed woman at its base.
After Mir places the keystone into one of the statue’s outstretched hands, the mechanical contraption goes into operation and the statue appears to come to life and speaks to the party. The statue confirms that the machine is indeed the Blind Tesseract and that she is the Iron Daughter (once a stepchild of the Haarlocks named Epiphany Belasco now enslaved to the Blind Tesseract). The Iron Daughter relays information and answers questions in a cryptic fashion, but the Inquisition Agents are able to gather that Eramus Haarlock built the Blind Tesseract to manipulate time. It provides an intersection where the paths of times past, future and present can be walked. The party must walk on these paths to see what did and may happen. Completing the path will allow them the chance to keep contained or free Eramus Haarlock, but they must make haste if they want a chance to decide because two people (Miss Book and Master Nonesuch) have already passed through the portal. Two of the thirteen archways become mirrored-doorways and Red Cell is directed to one while Herrod and his retinue are directed to the other.
Stepping through their portal leads Red Cell through a series of mirrored portals- each portal a scene from the past or possible future. While some of the scenes have the Acolytes acting as mere observers that cannot interact or be interacted with by their environment, others are very real indeed with pain and the possibility of death being all too real.
The Acolytes see many things of interest and cause for concern. Some are tragic, such as witnessing the murders of Eramus Haarlock’s wife and daughter and the betrayal he suffered at the hands of his family, while others are horrific and puzzling. There are two episodes in which the Acolytes witness the destruction of a large Calixis battle fleet from the Imperial Navy and accompanying Adeptus Mechancius ships over the world of Lathe Het by the Spear of Destiny and another showing a desperate boarding action by Inquisitor Herrod and Inquisitor Sand, with accompanying Acolytes, against a superior armed force in an effort to stop something that was set in motion after Haarlock was freed on Mara.
The scenes of destruction related to freeing Haarlock are equally offset by scenes showing the death and destruction caused for not freeing Haarlock. One of these shows the planet of Sinophia infested and under the control of a Genestealer Cult with no hope for salvation; a looming darkness has blocked out half the stars in the night sky. Another shows the war-blasted city of Hive Sibellus and the ruins of the Tricorn. Here the Acolytes are shocked to find the deceased body of Inquisitor Quint and a partial audio recording where he explains how not freeing Haarlock plunged the Calixis Sector into civil war and complacency and vulnerable to threats within and without. Just as the recording finishes, the Acolytes are attacked by a group of the city’s invaders- unknown humanoids that look like metallic skeletons armed with strange weapons that fire powerful beams of sickly green energy.
Disembarking from a skimmer transport, these metal abominations unleash massive amounts of firepower and many of the Acolytes are severely wounded. Mir cuts down several of the enemy and is horrified to see some of them repair themselves and rise again to attack. The Acolytes decide that the enemy is too powerful to fight and flee to the mirror doorway that leads out. They are assisted in their retreat by the convenient arrival of Inquisitor Herrod and his retinue on the opposite side of the battlefield and the enemy becomes distracted by this new threat. With the exception of Lazarus (who Mir forces through the mirror door), the members of Red Cell decide to leave Inquisitor Herrod and his acolytes to face the mysterious foes on their own.
Passing through the mirrored doorway brings the Acolytes to their strangest encounter of all- a battle against an opposing team of themselves. This opposing team is not evil or good, but merely the alternate timeline of the Acolytes making the opposing choice of whether to free Haarlock or not. In order to prevent this from happening, the opposing acolytes must be stopped. This results in an intense battle in which fellow acolytes face each other and themselves with deadly consequences. Every Acolyte will die in a matter of speaking and one of them, Lysandros will not survive the encounter at all- one of the Lysandros falls to his inner daemons and kills himself after losing all hope, while the other Lysandros finally finds hope only to be killed by the opposing Uriel.
The victorious team passes through the mirrored doorway at the completion of the battle and finds their team leader, Inquisitor Herrod, waiting for them. The Red Cell from the alternate timeline won and this changes some of the background for the mission. This Red Cell serves the Tyrantine Cabal in secret and were dispatched to Mara by the Cabal under Inquisitor Herrod’s command to locate the Blind Tesseract and Haarlock, and investigate their connection with the Tyrant Star. Arriving with a unit of elite Maccabean Janissaries, the group arrived over Mara and became involved in a massive ship battle with the Spear of Destiny and ships from other Factions. In a haste to make it to the planet’s surface, the group teleported into the station and proceeded to the Blind Tesseract facing enemies and the horrors of Mara along the way.
Passing through the final mirrored doorway brings the team, and their sole surviving Janissary, Cpl. Sufal, back to the present time on a feral swamp world that they later find out is Dusk. The mirrored doorway is still present- a standing doorframe on a shallow hill with the image of the Blind Tesseract and a weeping Iron Daughter seen through the doorway. Above in the sky, an eclipse is starting as Komus, the Tyrant Star, begins to block out the native sun and shed its dark corrupting light on the planet.
A group of the planet’s natives, accompanied by a powerful rogue psyker, approaches the group and leads them to the Dusk Hag- an ancient and powerful being that resides on the planet. The Dusk Hag tells the Acolytes and Herrod about how Eramus Haarlock came to her looking for answers and how he paid her the ultimate price for the answer, which could be found in the Tyrant Star. For hundreds of years Eramus was trapped in the Black Sun’s corrupting influence and he needed those on the outside to light the way out so he could come back to the here and now. The trials and murdering that the Acolytes and other faction members have done has lit the way and before the eclipse reaches its apex, the group must decide whether to allow Eramus release or keep him trapped. There are consequences for either choice with the future of the Calixis Sector, and possibly the Imperium, at stake. Has Haarlock been corrupted by Komus’ power of has his iron will bent the Star to his service? Will he bring death and destruction or will peace and prosperity be a possibility?
Though their personal reasons may differ, Herrod and the Acolytes unanimously agree to free Eramus Haarlock and with no fanfare or awe-inspiring display of power, Eramus descends from the Tyrant Star at the apex of the eclipse and walks through the doorway into being. With only a small gesture of acknowledgment, Eramus walks back through the doorway to Mara and the door goes inert. Standing on the surface of Dusk in the black light of Komus, Herrod and Red Cell ponder whether they have made the right choice.
- GM’s Note: This mission was ran with modifications from Fantasy Flight’s “Dead Stars” book by Alan Bligh and John French. It can be found here: