Something terrible has happened. My patrol had been operating within acceptable parameters of the expected result. The minions of the Queen of Chaos had been active along my route, requiring a moderate amount of hunting. Once I had completed the destruction of a cluster of demon touched creatures and the infestation they revered, I proceeded towards the station along Cubic Three. Then when I stepped out of the gate I found myself confronted by a mixed band of humanoids in a disheveled cave by a malfunctioning cubic gate. It was also approximately 100,000 years after I had stepped into the gate.
The whole situation proved to be full of enigma and confusion. After some discussion with these savages, I pieced together the following approximation of events. The humanoids had had some sort of conflict with even more primitive humanoids. Eventually they uncovered the gate and got it to activate. That released me from whatever happened to the gate.
One race of them, the elves, was at least familiar. With my translator, I was able to establish effective communications and adjust to the debasements which they had applied to the language we gave them. The others were Lizardmen and Humans. The former resembled large reptilian animals which had been incapable of speech before I entered the gate. The latter were unfamiliar. They are overall somewhat bigger and more crudely made than elves. Lacking the pleasing angular qualities of the elves, they are ruled by rounder symmetries. More disturbingly, they are even more given to irrationality and emotional reactions.
The nature of these primitives merely hints at the more fundamental problem. The order of the universe is shattered. The celestial spheres do not intersect and align in beautiful and eternal cycles. The gates are in disrepair, the Vaati are unknown, peoples wander from world to world venerating strange creatures they call Gods. Reality itself is easily suborned by ritual manipulation of energies. The power to do so is granted to an alarmingly large subset of these humanoids by powerful beings. What those beings get out of it is unclear to me, but it seems not too dissimilar with the pacts that Lords of Chaos make with their supplicants. Perhaps these “Gods” are merely servants of the Queen in another guise. To my eyes, the war with Chaos has not gone well, perhaps not entirely lost, but certainly not decisively won. It is everywhere.
Despite their inadequacies, and they are too many and varied to list, the humanoids who repaired the gate have apparently been operating on the side of order. Well, more on the side of order than disorder. In any case, they are the only remotely reliable creatures I have discovered so far in this shattered place.
Several of the humanoids have agreed to accompany me on my quest to Vale of Aaqa, so I can report my findings to the Council of the Vaati. They are Andra, a rude and curmudgeonly man skilled in magic; Nicholas van Rijn, a more well mannered man who uses both magic, sword, and gun; and Orixia a mostly civilized elf who uses magic and a bane sword similar to that borne by our people in war. After they had recuperated from their prior battle with the giant humanoids, I led them through through the Cubic Gate. The others stayed behind to guard the area, for we had to leave the gate open for fear that there would otherwise be no way back due to the gate’s malfunction.
Cubic Three Station
The station proved to be in severe disrepair. Empty of the Vaati, it had been infested by crude automatons. Hostile crude automatons. After defeating several of them, we were able to activate a different variety which had hidden itself from the others and self deactivated. My translator unit was able to convert its light signals into speech, so we interrogate it for a time. It called itself Silversann Unit 1. It, like the other automatons, had been made by The Master, whom we eventually discovered to be the Wizard Trobriand. This unit had achieved sentience and rebelled. Finding itself alone, it hid and shut down rather than be broken down as parts for a new kind of automaton.
We won it over to our side and discovered that it had remarkable facility with improving tools. It was able to make its own speaker unit, upgrade my translator, and improve some of our weapons. Silversan then guided us through the disheveled and ruined base to the Master’s lab.
The Lab was well guarded by a variety of powerful automatons and Trobriand himself. Though he had transplanted his head onto the body of an Iron Golem and shielded himself from reprisal behind a dome of glasssteel. It was a terrifically difficult fight. My Hound valiantly gave his life to assault them and give us a moment of respite. In the end, we were victorious, but it consumed many difficult to replace resources, including the bulk of my healing accelerator charges.
We spent a few days searching the base, resting, and watching Silversann Unit 1 assemble more Silversann, and the heavy duty maintenance Farragom units which serve them. We were able to recover some healing charge replacements from the fluid that had housed Trobriand’s body. For he had raided and corrupted the supply station’s charge complement to make the suspension fluid.
The most worrying thing we discovered was an ancient disassembled automaton. Of elegantly simple design and lethality. Simple enough that it was probably capable of making copies of itself. Lethal enough to be very dangerous in quantity. Ancient by current time keeping standards, it is possibly of only slightly lesser antiquity than myself. It is possible that this enemy was what overwhelmed the station and left it in a state suitable for Trobriand’s misappropriation. We made some notes regarding its design parameters and destroyed it.
We also recovered a number of devices whose subtlety was beyond Trobriand’s skill. Especially the control structure for his Golem. They were not familiar to me, though that is unsurprising for I have no need of such knowledge as a Hunter. Nonetheless, the quality and style seemed on par with the work of our people.
They packed up Silversann Unit 1 into an extra-dimensional space with a movable opening in the guise of a container to protect and hide him from whatever lay beyond. The container was in the form of a sack, for some inexplicable reason. Then proceeded through the hexahedral gate using the key we had recovered from Trobriand’s effects.
Through the gate we found that the Gate area was guarded, the guard had been set long ago by the higher orders. His only concern was that we should not proceed past him through the octahedral gate. He was dubious about my companions and concerned that the town below was too full of disorder. We negotiated a sort of understanding that he would let us pass if we fixed the issues in the city of Hest.
The city of Hest proved to be a very peculiar place. Its police force was comprised of Daemons, led by an Arcanaloth. Its people forced to make obeisance to the God machine, by bowing a certain number of times, apparently randomly chosen at random intervals. They were fed by basins which produced pablum, a highly nourishing and suitably bland food, several times daily. Furthermore its people were an odd assembly of humans, miscellaneous humanoids, and sentient clockworks.
Fortunately, its map and book vendor, Modron, was possessed of a book of the history of the Vaati, along with a number of maps interesting to my companions. The history book was somewhat disturbing in that it indicated that after an ancient and terrible war, the Vaati had retreated into the Vale and were rarely seen. It brought me hope in that it indicated that the Vale must still exist and my people may yet be found. It brought grief in the fear of what may have become of them to change their course from the way that I know.
Some Gith pirates assaulted us. Though not known to me before, they are of a kind with the lesser servants of Chaos. Similar in form to human and elvish kind, though singularly thin and lacking in moral character. The Gith roam the astral sea and take whatever they can by force. We destroyed the group who assaulted us, except for one who escaped. Anders was then assessed a fine for the damage his area magics caused to the surrounding shops.
Summoned into its presence, we made a deal with the Arcanaloth to destroy the Gith captain. It had an unspecified grudge. In turn it would give us the octahedral key. It also agreed to prepare us with its magics. We prepared an assault and had a largely successful battle against them, though they were quite skilled in martial and arcane matters of war. In the end, their captain chose to use explosive powder to destroy the back of the ship, along with most of the items they had purchased from the merchants of Hest. He was accidentally assisted in this by the hasty use of fire on Anders’ part. Anders was gravely injured, I only survived it by dint of the ring of fire resistance which we had the foresight to purchase in town.
Then we freed the hideously abused slaves of the Gith. In some cases it is possible that death might have been better for them than freedom, but it is not my place to make such judgements.
The God Machine
During our recuperation, especially Anders recuperation, we studied the God Machine. During one of its instructional dances, I noted a face staring out from within its eye. From this we deduced that it was hollow and that something lurked within to control it. Clearly the disorder of the town could only be solved by fixing the machine.
There was a great deal of debate about assaulting it from without, though no entrance was visible, versus my position of teleporting inside directly. Anders had a very great fear of teleporting into solid matter. Though being displaced to another place in the astral did not seem like such a terrible inconvenience to me. He persisted in opposing this idea until he recalled that he had the capability to view the area remotely. Once he engaged this ability, he found it to be a large hollow space with more than sufficient area for all of us to teleport within. However, in doing so his viewing was detected and set the God Machine into some kind of alarm reaction. This roused the town who were confused and tried to determine if it was setting a new obeisance ritual.
We used the ensuing confusion to teleport ourselves, and the Silversann and Ferragom units within. The machine summoned a series of demodands to assail us, but we persisted in protecting the automatons as they repaired broken parts of the machine. Oddly, they chose to do so by incorporating themselves into its workings. In the end they settled the machine and returned to Hest to rest and prepare.
We have not approached the octahedral gate, for it is not clear that the God Machine is operational. Its defensive matrix is not obviously active. It makes no motions. It sets no laws. The Daemons have fled, so the town lacks even their arbitrary protection. It is not clear that we have set the situation to rights.
- Hunter Wendeam of the Vaati