Aurealogi Belsepanium > Anni Aureum > Beneath Portae on Sign of the Starry Order

On the Trail of Squig-Seed and War

[Vox-record :: signo temporis 3.300.806 M41
Cellula scriptus :: Seven Hall Manse :: Hive Voltis :: Scintilla
Savant-Archivite Torvallus of Prol]

Yes, squig-seed, which he insists can be found in the filth levels beneath the Portae Interdictus of Hive Tarsus. If he knows that already, why does he take my valuable time from validation of the Indexus Erratus? Hn? Erros Gyfund is ever demanding the most unreasonable research.

I have not the slightest idea. Do I look like a Centurist, eyes maddened by the lust to hoard? That information is irrelevant, of yesterday. Done and gone. How does it help me to know what unsavory endeavor Gyfund will undertake with his xenos material?

Look! Indexus Arbites from fifty years since the Tarsus Underhive War. Here, an impromptu dataslate of slang for hive squig. Old Toothy. The Green. Greenytooth. Legbiters. Dataslates from the Legio Portae Tarsus for the same period. A pict terminus to the Hive Tarsus Administratum cogitatis vaults - I am a plague upon their days already. Did you know that squig-hunter is not an Approved Profession, and therefore there are no squig in Hive Tarsus? Only vermin. Big, toothy, green vermin sometimes, but vermin.

Such power, the Administratum archivists of Scroll Vault Tarsus Prime, to vanish what they are told to vanish - slide a word right underneath another word. We archivists control the galaxy, would that bodyfiends like Gyfund realized their lesser role.

Here, Mortalis and Carta Permissus lists for vermin-hunters of Hive Tarsus, twice as large as for Hives Sibellus and Voltis combined. Even granting the Tarsus solution to the low-hive - seal it and place a legion atop it - that is excessive, is it not? This, look! The Learned Treatese of the Orkoid Xenos by Magos Biologis Ambiveen. Did you know that squig flesh will grow up through vents and block them solid rather than form a viable beast? Look, ritual maintenance screed-crystals, for decades, from the Spine Brethren and Reactor Priests. Do you know what a plasma coil housing looks like wrapped in squig flesh? Now I do, and I am not the better for it, I assure you!

No, far from enough! He wants squig-seed, and I will localize it for him to the very cubic meter of space, or not at all!

[Vox-record :: signo temporis 3.302.806 M41
Cellula scriptus :: Seven Hall Manse :: Hive Voltis :: Scintilla
Savant-Archivite Torvallus of Prol]

I wouldn't dream of asking that vulgar low-hiver. Grambald is Hive Voltis serf-stock, not Tarsus, and this all took place a decade before he was whelped into filth and bulkhead rust. What insight could he possibly have of the Underhive War? I will not have his coarse and ignorant anecdotes diluting my search.

But what of origins? Clearly, by the Eternal Golden Throne and my untiring labor, there were no squig vermin in the Tarsus Interdictus levels prior to the Underhive War. Not one iota, one shred, one datum. Nothing! After Inquisitor Tor crushed Vault-Lord Xercos, here the reports, there the slang. Squig in the vents, squig eating children, squig-seed sold by gang-masters in the spoil lands.

Yes, our very own vanished Inquisitor Almus Tor, who taught Inquisitor Belsepan all he knew. Look, here - from Belsepan's own librarum, Tor's view of the Underhive War, hand-scribed in Oxis Black upon silversheaf by Savant Mercus.

Of course the squid-seed came from Kulth! Obviously. But this is not a seal-vault. Are we correlators? No. Is this the Principia Compositus? No. Only the proven, recorded fact and truth do we admit to our research. Correlation is a shabby, second best approach, suited to lettered scribes of little rigor, better suited to a life behind the pict-terminal. Here, I have made an inroad into the movements of Imperial Guard between the Malfean and Golgenna subsectors, and a sketched Indexus of possible routes for squig-seed from Kulth to Scintilla in the year that Xercos the Ugly rose to Vault-Lord.

An impossible task! To find corrupt Windriders who brought squid-seed to sell to low-hivers fifty years past? Impossible! Thusly I shall discard this effort. To the fires with it, to the furnace with my notes! Thus is the rightful Pyratic way - no clutter, focus the mind.

[ Posted by Reason on March 22, 2008 | Permanent Link ]

Principia Summaris: Historia Portae Interdictus, Hive Tarsus

I. Gapped Portae Seals

Prior to the War of Vault-Lord Xercos, Xercos the Ugly as he came to be called, the hereditary Portae Guard had become corrupt and lax. Promissaries changed hands, and the vault-lords, gang masters, slavers and the Exiled Below had traffic with their betters.

Over the years, the loathed taint of underhive and outland crept back once more into Moanlith Processional levels, low servatory habs on the Tullen Flankwall, the Square of Saint Hess, and the noisesome spiral-cage bazaar. The Noble Houses of Hive Tarsus, whose edicts created the Portae Interdictus centuries before, cared not for the suffering of the least of their servants. The Tarsus Arbites, who cared greatly, had no influence upon Noble House and Portae Family.

II. Half a Hive, Laid Upon Half a Hive

The railheads of Hive Tarsus vie for space a kilometer above ground with shuttle-ports and House Mechantalis cargo plazas, all above the Portae levels. Ceramite rails arc up high over the outland ruins, upon great pylons marked with the crest of Fallen House Yonu, as if echoing Yonu disdain for the wretches below.

Beneath the manufacturing and servatory levels, below the internal Portae, great hive gates stand corroded open, or fallen to the cratered ferrocrete. Any vermin who care may enter and leave; lines of the poor and wasted line the poor paths between looming wreckage linking polluted outland to collapsed hive layers.

Tarsus proper stands atop Tarsus Interdictus, the foundation made outcast.

III. Petty Wars of Vault-Lords

Over the centuries since the Portae Interdictus sliced the hive in two, the underhive barrens birthed vault-lords of statue great and small. They warred over fresh water, over pride, over scraps of impure food. They enslaved the Exiled Below and the low-born, and built paltry armies from hive-gangs that were the only strength in the lowest habs before the Portae.

The greatest of the vault-lords occupied the Flankwall and Inner and Crush sectors of Tarsus Interdictus, whilst the weak and their followers were ousted to the fog-choked outlands of wreckage, manufactory ruins and pollution-choked waterways of the Hive Establishment era.

As the Portae Interdictus became porous with the passage of time and greed, vault-lords warred over control of the Black Paths of smuggers, deserters, narcolords and outcasts. Forbidden wealth seeped down into the underhive from above, slowly, and every glint fought over bitterly. Some vault-lords became rich, building small fortresses within the Crush sectors of Tarsus Interdictus and setting treaties with narcolords as though their equals.

IV. Xercos the Ugly

Xercos the Ugly was as none of the the vault-lords who came before. No-one knows from whence he came to Tarsus Interdictus. His first act was to seek out the most renowned of the petty vault-lords, and slay him for his title. In the years that followed, he slew many more, gathering an army of outcasts to bring harsh order to the underhive sections beneath Slope Gamma and inward to the Triple Spine.

Xercos declared himself Vault-Lord Maximus, and plotted the destruction of those vermin and refusers who yet held the crush-mazes and ducting vaults against the forays of his raiding parties. All the while, he extended his reach ever upward, corrupting the Portae Guard families Dreffus and Ibfis completely. Their taste for slaves and narcoleptics made from pollution-sinks in the Low Crush brought weapons, devices of the Mechanicum and goods from the mid-hive, further ensuring Xercos' dominance.

[ Posted by Reason on March 22, 2008 | Permanent Link ]

Making Ready: Erros Gyfund and Bothe Ume

[Vox-record, servitor auscultavus :: signo temporis 3.316.806 M41
Armorium Alpha :: Ordo Missio Fortress :: Hive Voltis :: Scintilla
Adept-Psyker (Somafocal) Erros Gyfund]

I asked a simple question, and received a monomanical thesis on the history of disrepute in Hive Tarsus. This is why I use Toll where I can; Torvallus is but one step from a librarum servitor. At the very least, the question was answered by the end, after letting the Correlators at it. Irony as it is: we need to be searching about the old Shrine of Saint Drusus in Crush Beta Radix off the Triple Spine, pushed down a way below ground level now.

No maps worth using, and that multicannon would be worse than useless in a Crush. Take a matched Hektoris-B pair, or a flamer if you're up to it. Short range precision and speed, or something that makes corner-cover useless. Overpenetrator rounds and that old Magna Vis large-cal? Your subtlety has not grown in the years I've been away.

I'm no correlator, but it feels right. You have to learn to follow your instincts, Bothe. The Emperor has a way of seeing fate to come in circles.

The Shrine was where Inquisitor Tor beheaded Xercos the Ugly for breaking his oaths to Tor and the Throne by bringing xenos filth into the underhive and using them in his war of conquest. Tovallus' Principia Summaris doesn't do the original justice; I had read the old silversheaf accounts a decade ago, and put them from my mind until this Mastican affair. Tor was livid; he and his retinue hammered the vault-lord's personal forces flat in a single day. There was little for Arbites and loyal Portae Guard to do but follow in his wake and put down the broken and fleeing.

After the old Familia Portae were purged and broken by for their crimes, the newly formed Legio Portae cleansed the Crush sectors numerous times. Scraps of orkoid vermin remains, however, in hidden sumps and unpopulated vents - and, it seems, about the old Shrine in Crush Beta Radix in recent years. Unmutated samples, or even a live beast, will be our key to entry into Narcolord Mastican's armormanse in the outlands - trade goods sufficiently unusual and local that we will be taken quite seriously.

I believe the Inquisitor had a special attachment to the Shrine in the underhive, but I do not know why. The Ecclesiarchs of the past were willing enough to abandon it beneath the imposition of the Portae Interdictus. I imagine its vaults have suffered since beneath the weight of neglect and a hundred hive levels. There are other shrines, other relics, but this must be a wrong in the eyes of the Emperor.

I never thought I would see it with my own eyes. I will ask Pater Monomus for an aquila before we leave, blessed from the fortress font. Little enough, but it is a act I can take that others would not. That is what makes us more than the beasts we hunt in Tarsus, Bothe.

[ Posted by Reason on March 22, 2008 | Permanent Link ]

Ten Days Returned from Hive Tarsus

[Data Crystallum :: Archived 3.400.806 M41
Servitor Calvaria 43-b-tef :: Seven Hall Manse Vault Medicae
Adept-Militant Bothe Ume]

Ah, I don't want to talk about the Shrine in the Crush. Took us two days to get down there, two days to get out through the Fallen Gate into the pollution-fog, and we had the squid-seed. It was just ... you know. Erros is the Emperor's own, but he has something for the old places. It gets into his head and makes him, I don't know. Makes him different. More different.

Wasn't clean, that's what it wasn't. Xenos flesh all over the aquila, half the vault was crushed in. The viles were running and snapping, and Erros is laughing. Laughing, with his hand in a maw to the shoulder, and it's trying to chew him but it can't - and he's making the skin on my hands sweat blood by furrowing his brow.

No, I don't ... no, it just wasn't right. I should have taken the flamer like he said, and burned the place clean.

Look, I had to kill seven scum of twenty who'd have ambushed us with black powder and dart-throwers half a kilometer down from Porta Seventeen, right where the secondary spine strut spindles into the Crush. That was tight for a while, given they knew the overhangs and backways, but I've had worse back in the pollen fields. I nailed the last of the vault-followers through two bulkheads with a Magna Vis auger round, and she ran a hundred meters before it killed her. Scared the rest away, and bad news spreads fast. That was the last we saw of anything human until the outlands, though there were plenty of signs. Dumb lucky shot, just meant to keep them thinking, but don't tell that to Erros.

War stories. It's the rest of it sticks in a way I don't like. Pass the tranc, and ask Erros for the rest of what happened inside Tarsus Interdictus.

[Ordo action vox-record :: signo temporis 3.356.806 M41
Librarum Arcanus of Inquisitor Hrald Belsepan
Adept-Militant Bothe Ume]

Pollutants fogged up thick as you like about the hivebase beneath the verticals - like pollen flurries back in the warfields, you couldn't see ten meters in the worst of it, but it topped out a hundred meters up the hivewall. Burned too, closed in like that, a real pleasant grimy promethium scum feeling. Rebrethers or filter augmentics are how you know the players from the slaves and outcasts. The lines of Emperor-fearing underhivers with prayer-stones, coughing up blood every ten steps, they're the nobodies, no choices, no prospects.

The Fallen Gate wasn't much of a gate anymore, more like a Crush spilled out of the Shadowverts base and onto manufactory ruins. The way down into the pollution fog was a collapsed railhead platform, rail and pylon, just like we spotted it from a kilometer up with the magnigoggles. Steps are hammered in to the thing, and chains for the steep sections. It's a big mess, and about halfway down the better equipped vault-followers and narcolord vat muscle set up shop to stare at each other, stop the other side interfering in the traffic.

I don't know how we got past without having to butt heads like a beremoth with one side or other; just born lucky, I suppose. Maybe they were as sick of it as they looked by that time of day, standing guard over filth and the hated, or some quiet voice already whispered we were bad news.

From right around there, you could see Mastican's armormanse - or at least the lookout spire, sticking out above the fog. It's an old template megamover of some sort from the Hive Foundation Era, corroded down into a slump, tunneled out and sealed up tight. Now here's the way I would have had it; none of this digging around in the rust and sending in two hard cases to talk their way through soldier's work. A company of the Ordos Black Troop 1, split three ways in three Vastigans, a fourth with a pair of the Stug Compact Versions for armor support and breaching. We'd have dropped in right from the Shadowvert lift platforms twelve hundred meters over their heads, and rolled them over before they know what hit them.

For good measure, I'd wager you can depress the point defense arrays at mid-hive low enough put a couple of softening holes through something even that close to the hivebase. Captain-Designate Balx would have gone for that plan, argued the case if I'd dragged him into the planning. His suit should have lasted that extra second down on the Well - that's all it would have taken, just another second. Now he's another voice I wish I still had by my side, Emperor rest him.

But it was Erros' call, and the Blacks were scattered about in a dozen raids in all the hives, searching for these data crystals and whatever else has the Ordo Hereticus so worked up. A lot of killing still going on under the covers, and it's making the Arbites real angry. A nasty feel to the air out there in the low hive, like a few years back before the riots. I'll be happy to see this all buckled up, sealed and done sooner rather than later.

So the soldier work was all for cleanup after we were done digging for the delicates, and it was Legio Portae, rather than Protectorate we had waiting on our call. No armor support either - we were the breachers, the both of us.

[ Posted by Reason on March 22, 2008 | Permanent Link ]

The Fate of the Aquila

[Vox-record, servitor auscultavus :: signo temporis 3.316.806 M41
Circulium Aspectus Lapilli :: Ordo Missio Fortress :: Hive Voltis :: Scintilla
Adept-Militant Grambald]

Nah, now it's not arrogance, putting on the glint, if you says your going to do it, you know you can do, and then you rething go and do it. You ain't been with Inquisitor Ru-Tariy more than a year, so you wouldn't remember Gyfund from before he was flying off around the arse-end of the sector. That's just the way he is.

See them seers, poking around in the datastacks, ten levels down and past the transceptus? Pretty view from up here. Needs must, and if I'd thought to bring a las, I could take the fancy headgear off any one of 'em. That's not glint, neither, no more than Gyfund saying he and Bothe is going to knock on the door-steel of some narcolord, all polite and proper, and then put the boot in until the rether gives it up.

I've wondered what there'd be to see if you got a picter-skull to follow Gyfund around. Lot of surprised-looking corpses, like as not. Rething hard case.

This stuff? Didn't get the benediction right, the Prayer Ignius for one of those half-size plasma torches. So much for a steel arm giving me the touch with the machine spirits. Still, could have been my other rething hand half-melting, and the screaming, and the medicae. This way it's just a day or two to set things straight, and I didn't feel a thing.

Nah, nothing you'd be wanting to know about. Come on, rething leave it out. Nothing like that. Right, but Gyfund hears not the first whisper o' this from you, understand?

So Gyfund and Bothe had some old shrine on their route through Tarsus, and Gyfund has an aquila from the chapel to leave there. But the place is tainted, overrun by xenos seed, says Bothe. So Gyfund leaves the aquila, and Bothe picks it up when he's on his way out. I say he's in the right - you can't leave a blessed aquila in a place like that. It has to be done rething proper, with prelates and the incense, chanting and all the rest. Consecrated, that's the word - good and holy in the Emperor's eyes.

So Bothe says to me, when he's back and patched up for the flesh wound, he says "put it on Balx's mortis plate. It's a better place for it." That's the old Captain Balx, who bought it in that rething mess on Bitrith's Well. He's a plate up in the Vault Mortis now, reth, I mean the Honor Vault ... rething Bothe has me calling it mortis now. You should take yourself there one of these days; a ferrosteel plate for every one of us who died in the service of the Throne, great and small.

Gyfund's going to find out. He always does - he's Erros rething Gyfund. So's I talked a Tech-Adept - the one always hooked up with all the devices on sublevel 13, with the name you can't say without a voxplant - into a loan of the plasma torch in the name of the Emperor and Balx's honor, went up to the Vault and welded the aquila to Balx's honor plate. Rething nearly welded my hand to it too, but what's Gyfund going to do about it? Burn it off? Likely burn Bothe's ears off, but that's about it, I say.

Balx was alright, wish I could have done more when it rething mattered. Had his head on rightways, man of the Emperor, 'side from knowing Bothe. Going to get us all killed sooner or later, knowing Bothe.

[ Posted by Reason on March 22, 2008 | Permanent Link ]

Epistola Astropathica, For the Eyes of Inquisitor-Minor Sertel Admar

[Epistola Astropathica :: signo temporis 3.420.806 M41
Librarum Arcanus of Inquisitor-Minor Sertel Admar]

Admar,

This pict-ciphered gabble of yours had better be important. I'll be damned and gutted if I'm going to explain another of your errant, off the record uses of the Choir Astropathica to Goston Tactica Oversight. Your continued presence - absent results that can be hung out bloody for all to see - is wearing the welcome even thinner than it was to begin with. Witchfinder Turquos would have your head if he could, but will settle for your ignominous return to Scintilla, and the Lord Fleet Commander is ten days from exiling all of you, authority of the Ecclesiarchy be damned.

So watch your back - and make something noteworthy happen soon, or be stowing gear for an early departure.

Lord-Captain Uttuk Var Nasevi

---

Choir Astropathica, Transit Irregular, Origin Irregular
Receipt Encrypted, Held by the Staff of Lord-Captain Nasevi

Inquisitor Admar,

I trust this missive reaches you and your retainers in a time of better spirit than our last meeting. You must give my regards to Master Frek, and tell him that unless he has advanced his count by two, I yet remain ahead in the Emperor's eyes.

Hrald informs me that you are the only member of his Conclave Sinister, as he is prone to call it these days, out towards the Periphery from the Golgenna Reach since the completion of my long return from Vaxanide. Might the wilder Empyrean treat you more kindly than it has I these few years.

I am afraid to say that I write to request a task of you, from my lowly position, spurred by your location at the time of your last report to the Ordo.

Signs of the Starry Order have been seen upon Scintilla. Proscribed End Times screeds have circulated in the hives, the Least Heresy of Denial has seen a sudden resurgence, and fiery Redemptionists have risen up to burn entire habs in the Lee Steps of Hive Voltis. Thousands have died, and Cardinal Secondus Rufello preaches on the Emperor's Narrow Path of Virtue from the pict-screens daily. Arbites and Ministorum resources have been strained, as you might imagine.

Remarkably, this all appears to be an accident, insofar as anything is accidental in the Materium. The original heretical crystaltomes were sourced to Black Paths of the narcolord Mastican, who laired in the outlands beneath Tarsus. The recently deceased narcolord Mastican, that is, and as I am pleased to report. The Emperor's hammer falls upon even those who work the Archenemy's will unknowingly.

After closer examination, I am now certain that the fingertips of Mastican's organization violently acquired the crystaltomes and a variety of artifacts from the transitory of Aberix Orbitus above Hive Tarsus. They had no idea of the true nature of the cargo, only that the the actions of its guardians demonstrated its value. The fingertips were duely lopped short for their error, and the taint of the Starry Order thrown to wastes and vermin, where, unfortunately, it did not remain.

The broader Ordos mission upon Scintilla continues to do the Emperor's work in cutting out this spill of the Archenemy's vile thoughts upon the Hives, you may rest assured, but that is not my primary concern in this missive.

The bloodstained cargo was destined for the Chartist vessel Beati Tineval, which departed for the Empyreal routes towards the Malfean sub before this trail was traced back from Redemptionist murders to the path of the Starry Order. You will find all I know about the vessel following this missive. It is barely more than a hulk, fused half-hulls from naval battles of the Pacification Age, its voidborn crew numerous and unorthodox, its adherence to the terms of its Charter dubious.

The Beati Tineval's designated route will cross the path of your return to the Golgenna Reach, and I ask that you employ such means as you feel best to hold and search the vessel well for signs of Starry Order heretics, artifacts and other taints.

The Emperor protects,

Adept Erros Gyfund

[ Posted by Reason on March 22, 2008 | Permanent Link ]