CthulhuTech - Once Were Men

The Heart of the Worm
If the doors of perception were cleansed...

While the Professor researches some of the notes that Sweep found inside the Miri Nigri anatomist’s desk, Byte and Sweep decide to scout out the three other tunnels they’ve seen. Each tunnel radiates out in opposite directions, with 120° angles between them on a flat plane. Sweep almost resists looking into the shifting, smoky walls of the tubes that form the tunnels, and sees inside the glassine gel a congeries of weird little bacteria and algae lifeforms, and some massive, shadowy figures that he doesn’t want to think about too much.

They take the down-tunnel while walking on the ceiling, and adjust fairly well to the reverse force-dynamics of the Templeship, and soon find themselves in a triangular room that has three passageways leading out; it seems the tunnels follow a geometry that Sweep figures to be a tetrahedron, or trilateral pyramid, with them being on the outer faces of said pyramid. This room is filled with the influent tubules, valves techno-organic machinery of the Shan.

The next tunnel is a trap filled with mechanoreceptive nematocysts (good thing they never came across the chemoreceptive tunnels), sort of like glutinous worms forming from the walls, each filled with coiled-spring-like traps (see Ecology of the Shan Templeship). In a harrowing battle the Tagers overcome the poisonous nematocysts, but in order to move further into the tunnel they have to slow their movement to a crawl to avoid further attacks.

Arriving at the Phantasmagoria of Flower Views – a room filled with bioluminescent, polydimensional shifted creatures and a huge gravity furnace pulsing with N-radiation. Sweep suddenly feels the dysjuncted left half of his body pulled into a higher dimension, wherein the consciousness of the Ta’ge symbiont extends into a vast fruiting body of a hundred different organs, propellers, appendages and sub-forms, one of which is a puny little skeleton with meat wrapped around it…that being Sweep (the human). The Miri Nigri in the room demand that the Phantom Ta’ge divest itself of the “contaminating unimatter” (as they refer to Sweep’s human body), but Sweep refuses and maintains most of his sanity. Meanwhile, his left half is pummelled by the noetic (graviton and tachyon) radiation backwards in time, seeing himself moving through the previous tunnels. Eventually Sweep forces his halves back together and returns to simple reality. Phew!

The rest of the team decides to rejoin Byte and Sweep after the Prof finds some interesting info about the templeship in the notes; apparently the ship exists in multiple times and dimensions, and the gravity furnace is controlled by mental energy, probably directed from the apex of the pyramid. Brushing Young Jeffrey’s suggestion of explosives aside, Glass leads the civilian part of the team into the nematocyst tunnel.

Halfway through the tunnel suddenly fills with a strange toxic ooze which almost eats Jeffrey and only Glass’s gravewind power slows it down enough to allow the team to reach the Phantasmagoria room. A dazzling display of martial arts and quill-strikes from Byte finishes off the last of the cysts even as the black ooze infiltrates the walls of the templeship and begins to corrupt it. Moments later it reforms into a obscene humanoid shape formed from black congeries of bubbles and inky tentacles: that of a shoggoth lord, intent on devouring the pyramid and everything in it. This was the “poison” provided by Dr Adams and injected by Sweep into the tubule system in a previous episode, and it’s grown into a huge monstrosity.

It lashes out at the team and the Miri Nigri while they attempt to hurl themselves at the tunnel leading to the gravity furnace, and manages to snag and eat Young Jeffrey before the team can protect him. Grieving, the Prof makes it to the door in time. Sweep barely avoids a charge beam from the shoggoth, which, incredibly, has incorporated a mecha into its shell. Glass phases into the shoggoth’s head, exploding it in a shower of obsidian goo, but to little effect.

Sweep cracks the protective diamond-glass doors into the tunnel ahead and Byte opens the triangular doors, and hurling themselves towards the gravity furnace they find themselves in a wash of brilliant white light, like a supernova of radiative purity…

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Unto the Breach, My Tagers
Through the Looking-Membrane

After injecting the subversive Shoggoth Matrix into the Templeship, the team still had an angry Gale powered armour to deal with. The smoke screen made things difficult but eventually Sweep managed to cut into it with his eye beam and Byte’s needles inflicted enough damage to the pilot that the Insect controlling him decided to high-tail it out of there. At that moment the trap was sprung and our heroes captured a Shan inside a Box of Light.

Returning to the Professor they noticed the sounds of battle coming from Terminus Station. Scouting around, Byte saw that a new train had arrived, with air and artillery support. An assault force of NEG mecha was storming the island from the East, but getting mashed by the Shan-controlled defenders. Apparently the NEG hadn’t quite figured out what was going on, but was applying excessive force regardless. When the team was strafed and bombed by several Werewolf assault dropships they decided to flee through the dimensional membrane straight into the hideous techno-organic bowels of the Templeship itself.

On the other side their little world was immediately cast upside-down, literally. Gravity was reversed, as was force-momentum and acceleration, and it took quite a lot of skill to adjust to it. The experiece is so unsettling that both the Professor and Sweep become emotionally upset. Entering a huge spherical chamber our intrepid Tagers found a desk and a wooden anatomical dummy in several pieces. The walls of this place are made from a smoky-black semi-transparent material that looks like glass but feels like skin. Floating around in the new environment they attract the attention of a Miri Nigri, a creature that looks like a lot of giant leeches stuck together, with six darkling eyes concealed in its chest cavity. The thing spoke to them and then tried to vivisect Sweep. Fighting back, the team managed to overcome it (Glass’s freezing touch seems to have congealed it thoroughly), but not before Sweep’s intestines were removed and his whole body split into two parts!

Strangely, Sweep is alive and feels quite well, but his disjointed body pieces are look quite frightening to the rest of the group, and neither Tavia nor the Professor seem to be taking things well, unaccustomed as they are to the weird world of the Mythos.

What strange vistas will our anti-heroes encounter next?

Xp: 5 for Wes, 4 for Drew.

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And a bioweapon in every pot
The players put some poison in their enemy's ear

Now that the team has been beefed up with the addition of Glass, a Spectre Tager from the destroyed K Cell, the party decides to use her knowledge of Fort Nishima to acquire some weapons and info. In particular, Sweep wants to acquire something poisonous to infect the Templeship’s tubule system, which is in the process of deconstructing and assimilating everything on 9JO.

Since the base is two branches over from the part of the city they’re in and that’s not far, they decide to investigate the military base. Initial scouting by Byte shows that the centre of the island has phased with the Shan Templeship and an interdimensional membrane is in place. Avoiding that area because of its possible dangers the team swims into the ocean, avoid some gelatinous waters and submerged cilia, and arrives at Fort Nishima.

The base is devastated, with signs of internecine warfare between the soldiers everywhere. Obviously the Shan targetted the military structure here first to sow chaos. Mecha with signs of explosive and plasma weapon damage litter the armoury, and the corpses of many military personnel foul the waters (though the Shan organic collection tubules are making short work of them). Byte hacks into the military network and with Glass’s help locates a secret bioweapons lab in one of the sub-basements. Sweep uses his Tager’s Cauterizing Beam to cut through the security doors and decontamination chambers within, but barely avoids setting off a massive trap rigged with chemicals. Investigating the storage and freezer areas of the lab KQX Cell (as they are now known) finds Dr Adams.

The man’s right arm is a mass of tentacles and claws, identifying him as a Duo-Sanara Dhohanoid, and he immediately makes a demand and an offer to the team. He holds a red container with a potent mixture in his left hand, and in his right tentacles he holds a deadly plague virus. He knows the team are Tagers, and that they would love to rip him to pieces, but he’s offering the Shoggoth Matrix mixture in exchange for freedom. But to seal the deal he wants Sweep to become infected with the plague, because only the Doctor knows the cure. Sweep agrees to the Faustian bargain. The team leaves the bioweapons lab and heads for Dr Adams’s escape capsule.

Enroute they are intercepted by a Gale Nazzadi Powered Armour controlled by a Shan. The Ward of Seclusion conceals Byte and Sweep but Dr Adams is spotted while attempting to inject the Shoggoth Matrix into a tubule, resulting in the rather incongruous situation of two Tagers trying to save a Dhohanoid’s life (because it’ll take him some time to administer the poison). The Gale throws up a smokescreen and almost fries everyone with a massive charge beam, but just in time Dr Adams finishes his procedure and makes a run for it! Sweep chases the doctor fervently, knowing that he holds the cure to plague he’s infected with. The Doctor almost manages to escape, but at the last second is stopped by Byte’s paralytic needles. Sweep finishes him off, and finds a treasure trove of lab equipment in the doctor’s tentacles.

The Shoggoth Matrix has been injected into the Templeship’s system, and that’s probably not good news for the Shan. Sub-mission accomplished! Though there’s still the little problem of the Gale PA to deal with…

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Preparations for the Assault on the Templeship
Looking glass must wait

Wherein our doomed heroes futilely strive to rescue some innocents, fail to entrap a Shan and meet a new comrade.

After convincing Professor Rompuy to begin the ritual to activate the Ward of Seclusion upon the party, Byte and Sweep are ambushed by organic-dissolving tentacles that infiltrate their hotel room in the Novotel. Using homemade implements (butcher’s knives and pipes) they fend off the attack and manage to rescue two civilians in a room down the hall. One runs off but the other, a woman named Tavia, loses a leg, goes temporarily insane and has to be stabilized. Turns out she was a mechanic at Fort Nishima when the Shan hit the fan.

Once the ritual is complete the group moves under cover of the concealment spell towards the centre of the island. Young Jeffrey has recovered enough by now to move slowly despite his wounds. Wolf loses his lunch and almost loses his sanity when he cuts open some of the biological tubing/tentacles that are assimilating the buildings into the Templeship.

Encountering a wandering Shan-controlled Borealis powered armour, Byte attempts to use the Box of Light on it but can’t get seem to get it to work. Realizing the Ward of Seclusion may be preventing them from utilizing their best weapon the group argues about their next course of action.

Scouting ahead, Byte see a Blizzard NEG mecha (Shan-controlled, no doubt) but too late realizes the pilot has gotten out and pierces the ward. Returning to his cockpit, the pilot fires the Blizzard’s charge beam, then a veritable missile massacre of rockets. Byte barely escapes. When the team turns to run (obviously outmatched by the mecha), a mysterious Spectre Tager materializes into the cockpit of the Blizzard and shreds the insides in an explosive fashion.

And that’s how Q-Cell met Glass.

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Terminus on 9JO
Time to step through the looking glass

After defeating, or rather shredding, the Chrysalis Corporation's latest experimental Dhohanoid known as the Shrike, the two-man Tager pack of Byte and Mr. Wolf stumbled upon a dying man. Mistakenly letting down his guard for a second, Mr. Wolf is almost possessed by a flying Insect from Shaggai and it's only the intervention of Young Jeffrey that saves him. Jeffrey's use of the Box of Light to trap the Shan monstrosity in a multidimensional manifold allows the party to escape fratricide, but it's when the Trans-Pacific Express finally arrives at 9JO's Terminus Station that things really start to get hairy.

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