‘To have faith is to have purpose, and purpose in life is what defines a man, and makes him steadfast and resolute. Faith keeps him true and, even in the darkest hours, illuminates him like a candle flame. Faith guides him surely, from birth to the grave. It shows him the path, and prevents him from straying into the lightless thickets where insanity awaits. To lose faith is to lose purpose, and to be bereft of guidance. For a man without faith will no longer be true, and a mind without purpose will walk in dark places.’
-The Spheres of Longing, II. Ix. 31.
The Acolytes of Cell: C2 are sent by Inquisitor Sand to the mining world of Pellicuda IX tasked with a two-part mission that is inter-related. The first mission is to enforce the conditions of a Puritas Warrant that was issued by the Inquisition on the nobles of House Culden- a wealthy and prominent family whose holdings include several adamantine precursor ore mines that are responsible for supplying a large portion of the demands needed for the Adeptus Mechanicus of the Lathe forge worlds. The warrant was issued one-hundred and eighty-nine years ago against the family when it was discovered that the then master of House Culden, Sabent Culden, suffered from a genetic defect. This defective trait, since named the Senecai Syndrome, is a rare condition that prevents those it affects from being able to use life-extending treatments, such as rejuvant treatments and synthflesh graphs. This is not considered a malign mutation, but it does mean that the family members of House Culden are limited to only a lifespan of thirty to forty years, which is unfortunate for the Culdens, and the public disclosure of the genetic trait actually cost Sabent his bid for planetary governorship; following which he died shortly afterward. Since then, Senecai Syndrome has plagued all Culdens with a short life span causing sudden death with conditions similar to a stroke. The Acolytes must test the current House Culden members, Lothar (the current head of the family), his brother, Roboute, and Lothar’s daughter, Valia, to see if the Syndrome is still present, as well as see whether or not it has mutated to a level of concern.
The Acolytes’ second charge is to investigate the product loss of precursor ore, which has been the result of attacks on the shipping convoys by the local hill tribesmen over the recent years. The reason for this behavior is unknown and while taking on the normally primitive-armed nomadic tribesmen would not be a problem, the tribesmen have somehow armed themselves with lasguns and rocket launchers, which have made them an equal, if not more of, a match for the convoy guards. Who is supplying the tribesmen with weapons and the reasons for attacking the convoys are unknown, but Inquisitor Sand has unsubstantiated Intel that the tech-heretic cult the Logicians are involved.
Acolytes Vern, Pullo, Rasar and Quint make planetfall on Pellicuda IX and meet with Lord Roboute and House Culden head of Security, Commander Ennet. At the meeting they learn that on the day prior Lord Lothar has died and Lord Roboute has taken charge of the House since Valia (only seventeen years-old) is not of age to take over the House yet. Despite the unfortunate timing of the Inquisition’s arrival, Roboute understands their authority and cooperates with their investigation, which Vern wastes no time in starting the autopsy on Lothar. The rest of the Acolytes converse with Ennet and learn of the ways that he has tried to fight the tribesmen. Quint and Rasar decide to have Ennet set them up undercover as convoy guards to see the attacks in action.
Vern’s tests on Lothar confirm that he had, and die of Senecai Syndrome, and he also confirms that Roboute is a carrier of the trait. Puzzling though, tests confirm that while Valia is indeed the daughter of Lothar, there is no sign of the genetic defect present. Meanwhile, Quint and Rasar are not having any luck with observing the tribesmen; convoys are still being attacked, but only ones that the Acolytes are not accompanying. Rasar and Quint do find two pieces of interesting information during the investigation of a recent convoy attack. They discover that little of the ore on the convoys is actually being taken and the tribesmen seem to be after something that is stowed with the ore containers. Also, the main reason for the product loss is due to the fact that Commander Ennet has ordered against salvage operations of attacked convoys due to the manpower and the time that it would take to conduct an operation, which would give the tribesmen a tempting target.
Later, the Acolytes’ investigation at the starport warehouses where the Culden ore is kept waiting transport off-world, they discover an empty null-box (a stasis protected shipping container used to store and protect perishables and valuables) amongst the ore crates. The null-box is empty, but its interior is bloodstained and analysis of the blood shows that is a match to Lothar. A trip to the Culden morgue confirms that someone has taken several body parts from Lothar post-autopsy.
While Quint and Rasar decide to set a trap, without Ennet’s knowledge, for the tribesmen by placing a null-box equipped with a tracking device on a convoy they accompany, Vern conducts the tedious task of cross-referencing the personnel with access to the starport warehouse and the morgue. Vern is able to track the most-likely suspect as Commander Ennet who had recently accessed both facilities and was the last one to access the morgue. Vern and Pullo request Roboute, Valia and Ennet for a meeting and when accusations are made against Ennet the Commander’s takes on a blank stare and attacks. Vern cuts down the Culden head of Security in a hail of autogun fire and prepares Ennet’s body for a medical examination.
Quint and Rasar, still disguised as guards, find the convoy they are accompanying attacked by tribesmen. Out-numbered and out-gunned, what at first appears to be a massacre of the convoy turns into a full rout of the tribesmen as the convoy guards, bolstered by Rasar’s valuable fire support with a heavy stubber, forces the tribesmen to disengage due to their losses. While they were not able to use their tracking device, Rasar and Quint are able to follow the fleeing tribesmen back to there camp in the mountains and get word of its location back to Vern.
Acolyte Red arrives on scene (being summoned from a location further away from the rest of his team) and is briefed up on the situation. Vern’s examination of Ennet’s body reveals that he has been implanted with a more advanced version of a mind-control device that Vern encountered on a past mission while investigating a Logician operation in the Coscarla Division of Hive Sibellus on Scintilla. With the location of the Hill Tribesmen base now known, the Acolytes coordinate with forces of the local PDF and the Culden House Guard to initiate a full-scale attack.
The attack on the hill tribe encampment is messy and deadly and while the tribesmen make their attackers pay dearly they are too out-number and have no where to escape; most are killed and the rest of taken prisoner. During the attack, the Acolytes notice an STC prefabricated bunker guarded by gun servitors. Deciding this to be an odd construction amongst the tribesmen tents and ramshackle huts, they make their way to bunker. Accessing the bunker reveals it to be medical lab of sorts occupied by heretical tech-priest, an assassin and a human abomination that has been constructed of a mixture of human body parts. A deadly battle ensues that brings both Pullo and Quint unconscious and near death before all the enemies are terminated. True to Logician modus operandi, the bunker goes up in a fireball explosion to destroy evidence and all make it out with the exception of Red who is still inside when the bunker goes up. Luckily by the grace of the Emperor, Red survives the explosion, critically wounded but alive- his armor in tattered ruins having soaked up the brunt of the damage.
With the area secure, the Acolytes are able to salvage through the wreckage of the bunker. From the little evidence left intact they learn that the man made up of different body parts was Sabent Culden (who apparently did not die) and he was being kept alive, with the assistance of the Logicians, who were replacing dying parts of Sabent with parts from his late family members. In addition, partial files reconstructed show that the Senecai Syndrome was not a natural-occurring mutation but a virus-like organism specifically engineered to affect members of House Culden; it appears that Valia did not have the condition because she had not been infected. For what reasons the Logicians were keeping Sabent alive and what their plans were for engineering a virus targeted to a specific genetic make-up remain unknown at this time.
- GM’s Note: This mission was ran with modifications from the adventure of the same name but I don’t know who the author was and I am unable to locate it on the net anymore (shame because it is a great adventure).