Thursday, May 7, 2009

Frother Clans: Czaria

The Czarian cossacks are a nomadic breed of Frother who travel the surface of
Czaria. They have very few permanent settlements and their history is mainly
spoken word nothing is written down. They are a harsh and unforgiving people,
much like their icy world of Czaria. their spoken language sounds like a dogs
bark being played backwards and is very difficult to understand and learn
(x2 points cost to learn).

They are very much like the Mujahadiin crossed with Afghanistanian nomads of
today.Every year they have a gathering where they hold a a great story telling
contest.


SKILL VARIATIONS
All cossacks have Survival Rank 2 instead of Streetwise and
Storytelling Rank1 instead of Rival Company.


CLAN STRUCTURE
Czarian Frothers honour their parents and elders. They listen to the words of
the story-tellers and learn from them. Clan Structure is simple, The elders
of the clan form the council, and all the rest of the clan follow their
decisions.


COSSACKS AND DRUGS
Cossacks use drugs all the time, in battle and recreation. They are a large
part of the community.


NEW ITEMS

Czechya Atrocity Blade
This is a heavy bladed powered knife (It size is more comparable with a short sword!). Flat and plain on one side and serrated on the other. It is hefty, unwieldy and down right nasty!

DMG 8, PEN 4, AD 4
WGT 2.5kg



Kalashin Long Rifle
This is the great hunting rifles used by the cossacks of Czaria to take down the Carif (a huge camel-like beast but carnivorous).

CLIP 1, CAL 15mm, ROF 1/3, RCL 12, RNG 300m
WGT 7.6kg

15 mm STD - DMG 12, PEN 9, AD 17
15mm AP - DMG 14, PEN 18, AD 11
15mm HP - DMG 7, PEN 6, AD 12



Kuriya RPG Launcher
This is a rocket propelled grenade launcher which the cossacks use to destroy vehicles, Thresher Suits and some of the larger and nastier inhabitants of Czaria.

CLIP 1, CAL n/a, ROF 1/3, RCL 16, RNG 150m
WGT 8kg

DMG 50, PEN 25, AD 15
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The Johannas

by Morton T. Smith


Something that hasn‘t been touched a lot in SLA are the street gangs. A couple of years ago I ran some adventureswhere players were gang members in the Johannas one of the biggest gangs in DownTown. This stuff is in no way concrete but I thought some people might want to throw it into their game (I would like it to be noted that a lot of these ideas and characters were not all mine).


The Johannas base their gang heavily around a kind of heirarchy that is controled at the top by a man named Prince Jasper. Under him are some very dangerous individuals indeed called ”Bone Shakers• these are the Johannas feral Ebbons who act as Generals for the gang. There are roughly 200 Bone Shakers alot of which might control their own "micro" gangs.As you might be assuming the Johannas are an incredibly powerful gang, in-fact if they pulled their resources you could class them as quite a dangerous soft-company. These shear numbers keep the Johannas Feral Ebbons safe from SLA‘s clutches, because the havoc the gang could start if they became upset makes SLA wary of interfering (for the moment, the gang bears no direct threat to SLA and they also help to keep the smaller gangs under control).

The Boneshakers base a lot of their power around what you might call a kind of Voo Doo cult, taking a mish mash of Ebb beliefs and DownTown cults to make up their own muddy beliefs. Bone Shakers primarily use Glyph cards that they either create or buy from the black market. As I said they have their own way of interpreting things so it is unlikely that a SLA Ebon will be able to understand a Glyph Card a Bone Shaker has made.

The Cafe Royal itself is the Johannas headquarters (if you can call it that). The Cafe is actualy quite a small place (by SLA standards) being only three stories high and only able to hold about between about 1500 to 2000 people. The Ground floor is exactly what the sign says outside a cafe. This is where the Bone Shakers and other personalities from the gang will meet to socialise and discuss plans. There is usualy a stream of messengers going to and from the cafe, it is full of smoke and if a character can get in she will find some of the best drinks and drugs in DownTown.The Second floor is the official meeting place for the gangs leaders, but generaly it‘s used for overspill from the cafe below. The third floor is Prince Jaspers ”throne• room, which is kept dark (sight gets reduced to about 10') and hot. This is where members will come to have sex, do dangerous drugs or pay their respects to Jasper. The Cafe itself is guarded by feral Ebons and well equiped foot soldiers while the throne room will be guarded by two or three of Jaspers most trusted and powerful Bone Shakers.


ORDINARY GANG MEMBERS
The foot soldiers of the Johannas are different from most DownTown scruffs. For a start they are well fed and consequently reasonably fit. The gang is kept well informed at all levels and so it can be very hard to try and bluff even the lowest gang member. All members of the gang are given a fair share of anything they get, but a lot of the better or rarer equipment and effects is offered to the core gang as a mark of respect. This makes the core gang quite formidibal because all the cool stuff like Fen ARs and the occasional Blitzer end up at the Cafe Royal (its rumoured that someone sits on the roof with a Fen 400 Surekill although thats just a rumour of course :) Your standard Johannas gang member will have lots of trinkets and fetishes on their clothes, either sewn on, worn or painted on to their clothes. All members take tattoos and scars very seriosly with the most prised being the ”skull• a DNA hallmark granted by one of the Bone Shakers upon joining the gang. These can be found anywhere on the upper torso, but most members will have them on their knecks. These are also used to show rank in the Johannas (more=better) and many will refer to their ”necklace• as a symbol of respect and loyalty. Most will carry small fire arms and edged weapons. Nearly all Johannas will carry a serated blade somewhere on their person. The foot soldiers see themselves as superiors to all other civilians and rival gangs. They walk tall and have the bravado and swager of the ruling class.


BONE SHAKERS
The Johannas have a lot of Feral Ebons in their ranks and they base a lot of their culture around these individuals. SLA OPs refer to all Johanna Ebons as Bone Shakers, but within the gang itself it is a title of leadership. A Bone Shakers ”skull• will cover their whole face like a mask. This symbol is taken almost religiously by the Johannas and to mock it is to invite a grat deal of trouble (usualy a great deal of death too).
Of the roughly 200 ”true• Bone Shakers about 20 will be members of the central gang (usualy the most powerful) while the rest will control their own micro gangs. Bone Shakers try to carry their Glyph Cards as decks of cards. The ones that are created within the gang could be considered works of art and as much time will be spent over the aesthetics as the power itself. A common symbol found on them is that of a crow. Bone Shakers will dress in most clothes, but a great deal of their legs and arms (especialy hand and fingers) will be tied in black bandages. Theres no real reason for this, it just helps to control muscles and stray fingers (like a gymnast might do). Bone Shakers sometimes wear top hats or bowlers which they treat like their crowns and adorn with crows and black cock ferathers.


PERSONALITIES

Prince Jasper (the Prince)
Prince Jasper is a very viscious and dangerous character. He has a great love of ”making examples” of those who do not bend to his will and at times this will even stretch to SLA ops (although he is careful to leave his mark, but little evidence). A common practice is to strip the offender, tie them to a sewer entrance and slit the soles of their feet from toe to heel, scatter black feathers (then leave them to whatever comes out).
The Prince is very charismatic and will can run rings round most in a conversation. He is a warrior by nature and would rather die than relinquish his position. Jasper will allways turn up to fights that have some personal effect on the gangs territory or respect.

Residing in the Cafe Royal, Jasper rules the gang like a king. His word is law and the Bone Shakers see that it is respected. This aside it is Jaspers fairness that keeps him in power, he knows that there is enough for all and greed on his part would eventualy see him overthrown. Every member of the gang is free to do as they wish unless Jasper states otherwise.


Hate

Hate is considered the most powerful Bone Shaker in the Johannas she holds position as one of Jaspers two body guards. Standing nearly 7' high she makes quite an impressive figure. Hate is quiet and contemplative and has respect from all the Bone Shakers, she, like Jasper, treats those under her with respect and fairness. Hate spends the majority of her time resides in the down stairs cafe, gathering information that can then be passed onto Jasper. If trouble seems to be on the horison (and Hate is usualy the first to know) she will be found in the Throne room.


Bim
Bim is Jaspers second bodyguard, but standing at only 5'9” he can seem a little comical next to Hate. Bim is also quiet, but he is to the point where not even the other Johannas know him well. Bim is secretive, but also dangerous. If Bim looses patience and consequently his temper the out come can be devestating. Jasper is more than a little cautious of Bim, but the terror he holds with everyone else makes him a very useful stick to swing. Bim and Hate both trust each other implicitly, a fact that Jasper is unaware of from both their cold natures (if he did know, it would make him very nervous). Bim actualy has a few other secrets, for a start he‘s an ex SLA op and his real name is Arial. If invistigated it will turn out that Arial disapeared from SLA after going mad in a street and killing anything (men, women, children) that moved. Arial worked for the Johannas as a Prop before joining the gang.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Last Post

by Morton T. Smith


I am old and my memory fades. For over 1000 years I have watched this place grow and now I watch it die.

What follows is a brief summery of the events that have brought me to this place. Later I may detail that which I can remember or have learned.

The year, as we count it now, is 157 AE, by old standards that would be 1062 SD. The AE part was a throw away tag that stuck. It stands for After Exodus. It’s funny, Exodus. You would think it meant some vast migration of races and yet it refers to only a handful of people. But those people, entities or whatever they truly were held this place together in a way nobody could understand.

The presence of the Kilneck was the first to go, even though most never knew all of them their presence was still felt across the galaxy. They left on Fold and Ion ship or by other means for places unknown. Wherever they went it was out of the sensory range of the most powerful Bound Necanthrope, those born of the White on Mort. Even the incredible power of the Free Born Necs, those of the Mandrake bloodline, couldn’t detect them. Slayers body disappeared from his crypt and to this day has not been found. Some still search for him on the edges of known space… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

After the Kilneck and Slayer had gone came the Bio War. This lasted for all of three weeks as Stormers from all over the WoP arrived on Mort by whatever means they could find. The space born fleet of the Black Chapter defended to the last man, but probably caused more damage than they prevented. For every ship they crippled attempted to crash to Morts surface and many succeeded, burning away vast portions of the atmosphere in the fusion explosions. Loyal SLA operatives and militia troops fought all across Mort to stop the Stormers from destroying what they had left of their world.

The Black Chapter had seeded Bio chambers on Mort to create loyal Stormers to fight on their side, but even those turned against their creators. The main thrust of Stormer insurgents came from the Ion cruisers from Artery. Their leader, it was later speculated, was Maxon Hagen or at least the genetic double of Hagen as the original was assassinated on Artery. This has never been proven and the body, original or clone, of Hagen was never found. Perhaps it still rests on some street or in some ruined part of Mort City.

As the war raged Stormers that could, made their way to Cannibal Sector One, more specifically to Salvation tower. Necanthropes that were on Mort at the time told of a massive sense of death and lose emanating from the sector, but could not tell what the source was. Most believe it was Digger and those of sufficient knowledge knew it was. The Manchine had become a beacon to all those of soulless birth, it had become their messiah.

Black Chapter, Stigmartyr, Internal Affairs, every department fought side by side to defend Mort, to defend SLA Industries. Unfortunately the Stormer force was greatly underestimated both in number and in skill. Huge numbers of divisions died for the cause. In the end they died for nothing.

Mort was lost. The planets biosphere was crippled beyond repair; even with the atmosphere processors the damage would take centuries to repair. The evacuation of Mort started a few days after the last Stormer was seen entering the Cannibal Sector. Every ship that could escape Morts burning atmosphere did so, rendezvousing with whatever ship was leaving the system. Almost all of the civilian population was left to perish on the planets surface.

A few civilians did survived, this was discovered years later when finally communication with the Shaktarian Home worlds was re-established. The Shaktars had been poised to strike at Mort in the event of Teeth getting out of control, but they had withdrawn when the Stormers devastated the planet.

The Shaktars mounted several rescue missions to Mort before the complete breakdown of the bio sphere.

A few years after the evacuation an old Foldship was recharging just outside the Mort system and is rumoured to have been contacted by something on Mort that claimed to be Digger. This was impossible as the communication was made telepathically to the ships navigator. But if there is one thing I have learned it is that nothing is impossible.

Rumours and hearsay have given Mort a new mystique since it’s destruction. Tails of creatures still wondering the planets ravaged surface abound, stories of the vast wealth that awaits the brave soul that would venture onto the planets surface and the bed time story to scare children, the return of Slayer through the portal that once created Necanthropes.

Once more I digress. The remnants of Morts populace made it’s way to the closest of the SLA held worlds. New Paris was a port of call for many of the refuges. For time, normality returned or at least as normal as things could ever be again. The command structure of SLA had taken a hefty blow. With Slayer dead and central command on Mort destroyed the various departments where left leaderless. Most decisions where made by rather argumentative and disorganised committee. Internal power struggles were rife, from the lowest operative to the highest corporate. To begin with these were settled by discussion, negotiation and compromise, on the surface things ran smoothly. Diplomatic talks began with Thresher and Dark Night and non-aggression treaties where quickly drawn up, signed and broken frequently. This was aggravated by the aggressive and xenomorphic attitude of the Shaktar race to all other races in the New WoP.

The struggle for dominance within SLA came to a head in 17 AE when actual fighting broke out between divisions of Black Chapter and Stigmartyr on New Paris (the new central command centre for SLA). The civil war was quick and bloody as both sides fought for control of the company. Thresher and Dark Night took this opportunity to take control of contested worlds on the edges of WoP space including the old War World Dante’ which was destroyed totally when Thresher destabilised the planets mantel using huge fusion guns on board their Ion attack cruisers, all that remains now is a small asteroid field. In the end none of them would win.

The Shaktarian armies took the opportunity of internal conflict to attack SLA Industries and the Soft companies using every means at their disposal to gain control. The war lasted for three years. In the end the Shaktarian Clans took control of SLA Industries, Thresher and Dark Night.

The exception to this and to all other events in the twenty years that followed the collapse of Mort was Static and the Ebon race. Throughout this time of struggle they had hidden their ships, their worlds and their race from the eyes of SLA and have continued to do so since then. Now they to are beginning to pass into the stuff of legend. Although there are still a few Ebons around their numbers dwindle each year. They have become mystics and travellers that wonder the galaxy hunting down the Mandrake Bloodline and eradicating it where they can.

For as the Shaktars brought order to the WoP, which was broken into clan protectorates and inducted into the Shaktar religion, the Foldship Yung returned with generations of vengeance on the mind of its crew. The Yung had been gone for almost 1000 years and had brought with it the progeny of that 1000-year exile. They brought hundreds of Foldcraft of all sizes and classes from super dreadnought to fast attack frigates and the most terrifying force of all, the Free Born.

In all my years I have never seen a sight as horrific as a Free Born Necanthrope. These creatures manifested as from hell itself where given life in the depths of space. With no White and no control of the Ebon council the Ebons on board the Yung evolved at an accelerated rate as did their powers. These beings, after centuries of control by Intruder and the council, could at last harness the true power of the Ebb and warp it into their bodies.

They harnessed their power… the power to burn worlds. The Shaktars, the humans even the Wraiths fought bravely, but in vain. Slayer would have been proud. The Ebons, to the surprise and relief of the other races, came out of hiding to face what they considered an age-old enemy. As did the Bound Necanthropes.

Teeth and his forces, believed to be destroyed on Mort, were among the first to attack Mandrake. The battles fought by Teeth’s forces were among the fiercest in recorded history and surprisingly one sided. The Yung and its fleet tore the Bound Necanthrope apart in a matter of hours. I witnessed the destruction of the fleet, all the pain of the Foldships as the burned and died. A few Bound Necanthrope ships escaped and hide in the outer-reaches of the WoP.

Then the invading fleet made their way through the rest of the systems that constituted the New WoP. Mandrakes decimation of the WoP was thankfully quick and stopped when they reached Mort and found it already destroyed. As if bereft of purpose the Mandrake fleet broke up and dispersed throughout the galaxy. Making their homes on whatever world they could control. The remnants of the other races also dispersed.

SLA Industries was no more. The mighty empire that had lasted for centuries took all of 25 years to be left in ruins. There are those that still live in the old WoP clinging onto whatever they can. Most species that populated the WoP can be found around the galaxy, the occasional colony here, a few scattered systems there life goes on. Even some of the old divisions of SLA survive. These are now roving bands, gangs and small armies that hold onto the ideas of SLA in a twisted form of ritualistic worship of all that has gone before.

Which brings me to now. With most of the original habited worlds of the WoP destroyed by war the only other place left to go was the Black Stump. This area of space was a forbidden zone in the time of Slayer but now was a chance to start again for those that had survived the holocaust. There was found a myriad of new races and life forms some hostile but most congenial by WoP Standards. Even the feared White Earth was still. Only the remnants of a pre-industrial civilisation remained, crying for their long lost god.

The Shaktars have faired well, with the founding and control of several resource rich worlds. They now are very wealthy as they control the majority of the shipping lanes in the Stump. The new empire has grown and keeps in constant contact with the original home worlds in the old WoP. They have also become the major information brokers and govern over trade and territorial disputes with the various races of the Stump.

The Wraiths have not been as fortunate, the home world Polo was stripped bare by the Mandrake forces and the majority of the Wraith clans were completely obliterated. The remnants of the race now wonder the galaxy as hired assassins and scouts. Those that chose to settle live on the polar caps of various worlds throughout the Stump.

The Brain Wasters are all but a memory, hunted to extinction by the forces of Mandrake and some of the few remaining Bound Necanthropes.

As for the Necanthropes little is seen or heard of them. Teeth is known to be dead as are his most trusted Unions, all lost at the battle with Mandrake. Those that survived the massacre hide in the darker areas of the galaxy or have found sanctuary among the Ebon people.

The Frother clans were decimated during the Bio War and never recovered their strength. They are now all gone save a few who still hold onto the traditions of their great, great grandparents. Without the constant abuse of their bodies by SLA drugs the genetic traits that identified the Frothers will soon be diluted and they may well become part of the human race again.

The humans, as is their way, adapted and now populate at least 50 worlds I know of in the Stump. With various factions of the Humans still fighting for supremacy it is possible that one day they may again rise up and take control of a New World of Progress. But without the leadership of one such as Slayer, this is a long way off and I doubt I will see that day.

The Ebon race is still the greatest mystery to many. They all but vanished during the destruction of SLA Industries, and with the exception of a brief return to try and stop Mandrake they have remained the “invisible” race. Stories abound as to the whys and wherefores for their self imposed excommunication from the other races but few will ever know their true purpose. Popular belief holds that they are manipulating races and armies of the Stump from their hidden places, but few if any can say to what end.

Through all this destruction, struggle and rebirth a darker cloud hangs on the horizon. From deep within the Black Stump is a race of evil creatures that are hell bent of killing all other living things that do not fit their genetic ideal or at least ‘changing’ them to fit their needs. This race could still rise up and take away all that has been done to rebuild… if they do, if that is their will we are all doomed.

I have seen their plague bombs destroy planets in hours, their ships ‘eat’, for want of a better description, Foldships and their armies fuse, bond and consume races in gruesome planetary assaults, using the blood and bone of their enemies as weapons.

I grow tired and the suns are setting… time to rest.



Information laid down by

Virgil, Bound Necanthrope Scribe
Royal Court Records (Personal)
Halo

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SLA 950 - The Fall of SLA Industries

By Morton Smith


"The year is 950SD. SLA Industries has been decimated by a universal catastrophe. There is little left to live for except to kill. Mort is in chaos and the rest of the World of Progress lies in ruins. From his headquarters in central Mort Slayer surveys the destruction of his empire. What's left of the streets are controlled by serial killers and monsters of all descriptions. There is nothing to do but wait to die… or is there? What follows is a short account of some of the events that took place to bring the World of Progress to where it is today."


THE LAST DAY

The largest Sammhaine, the new title for the old Gore Zone, ever organised, broadcast to every planet of the World of progress. The largest collection of killers both sanctioned and non-sanctioned made more enthralling by the participation of the newly returned Kilneck. Every serial killer, psycho, and want to be media darling had gathered to be part of this mass slaughter. No one could have expected what would happen and the consequences of one individuals actions, of one killers deed, of one mans words.


DAY ZERO
Wave of Mutilation

As the World of Progress watched Hallowe'en Jack go toe to toe with the most psychotic Stormer ever grown no one could have dreamed of the hellish nightmare that was about to unfold before them. Jack unmasked and reciting Integration 20 in front of the largest captive audience in the history of SLA Industries. Later estimates state that 80% of the population died instantly that day, 750,000,000,000 lives snuffed out by a few words. Across the universe the shockwave was felt. As far away as Static torturous deaths were recorded in there millions. In deep space Foldships melted, Ion cruisers, carriers and capital ships of evey Shaktar House exploded like super novas the skies illuminated by thousands of new stars that flickered then died.

Integration 20 was devastating. The truth, the truth about everything. The walls of what everyone thought was reality came crashing down one by one.

Mort bore the worst of the apocalypse. Death came in many forms, some just vanished others melted into pools of boiling blood, some burst into flames others exploded in showers of crimson rain. Of those that survived the majority had been deformed beyond recognition mentally and physically. Some where lucky and missed the broadcast others seemed to be unaffected by the whole thing. Even this didn't stop their deaths as the psychotic and deranged butchered those they could find.

Central Mort was sealed off by Stigmartyr agents the corporate sector and central HQ became a killing ground as anybody, regardless of SCL, who attempted to enter were killed. For the first time in centuries the high pitch wine of Decimator fire was heard as Stigmartyr agents held the defensive line and the command "None shall pass." This night became known as "The Ring of Blood".

As night fell on that first day an uneasy calm washed over the city. There was no power to anywhere outside of Central that night but the city was bright as tens of thousands of fires raged unchecked throughout. Kilcopters prowled the skies killing anything moving on the streets.


DAY ONE
On the first day…

As dawn broke over Mort on that first morning the true extent of the damage could be seen, the city lay in ruins. Fires blazed across whole sectors, thousands of residential blocks had collapsed falling through dozens of street levels creating huge craters in the cities structure. The metropolis of Mort City had been completely destroyed in a day. For the rest of that day reports of Shiver and Operatives units fighting desperate battles in Downtown flooded into Central as they attempted to reach the believed safety of HQ. Kilcopters and other airborne transports ran sorties into Downtown all day and night to airlift as many Operatives as the could, but they were hindered as roving gangs of civilians would attempt to highjack the rescue missions.

As, what could only be termed as, all out war raged though the city Central was a hive of activity as construction teams reinforced foundations and building structures to better defend it from the rest of Mort. Prefabricated huts where put up all over the streets and whole tower blocks where given over for medical, tactical and storage purposes, much to the distain of the corporate employees who had moved into their offices.

Again as night fell Mort City was silent. Silent but for the screams and gunfire that reverberated round what was left of its streets.


DAY TWO
No more heroes

The Stormer population had been hard hit by the catastrophe almost all had perished on Day Zero. Those that had survived had gone trough massive mutation most into crazed killers that would destroy any living thing they encountered. Of the rest these abominations wondered the streets filtering towards Cannibal Sector One and more specifically to Salvation Tower and Digger. The reason for this baffled most but not even the Kilcopters would venture that far from Central to find out the true nature of this exodus.

The Brain Wasters had also changed. On Day Zero they had become fused with their Deathsuits and became literally living armour. This had altered the physical state of these creatures to the extent they no longer registered as ebb users by any form of detection. The Brain Wasters turned on anyone not of their kind especially Ebons. It is reported that these creatures even attempted to kill Necanthropes.

The Necanthrope Society had remained unnervingly aloof throughout the first few days. And few were seen although the Preceptor Teeth did spend several hours a day talking to Slayer.

Stigmartyr had effectively defended Central for two days and not one of their number had left their post since Day Zero. As night fell heavy fighting was reported on the south perimeter. Stigmartyr agents rushed to reinforce the defences only to find they were fighting elements of the Black Chapter. Only after personal intervention by Slayer did they stop fighting and the Black Chapter were permitted into Central. Field Marshall Daidler and the rest of the Black Chapter Operatives took up residence in the SLA HQ building and sent their technical crews to The Pit.

Although people had always queried the architecture of The Pit none had ever envisaged the true purpose of the night club. Over the next few days The Pit was stripped of everything that could constitute entertainment and was refitted with all manner of military hardware and effectively became a command bunker. All Operative and military organisation was now controlled jointly from HQ and The Pit.


DAY THREE
Into the light

The construction of 16 meter high gated walls around Central was well under way. All entrances to Central were sealed and mined.

The population of Central was increasing daily as more and more Operatives and Shivers arrived from all over Mort. Reports of other cities came with them. Of particular note were Orienta and Meny. Orienta itself was completely decimated with few survivors those that had reported monsters of myth and legend, probably mutated Stomers, taking control of Fort Chimera and a strange portal that had opened up in the bowels of the prison.

As for Meny the bubble had truly burst. Massive damage to the domes structure had caused it to collapse, crushing most of the city and killing almost all of its surviving residents. A few of the students and lecturers managed to save a fair percentage of the Meny data cores and transported them to Mort City.

By now what was left of the once large SLA fleet had arrived at Mort. This was hindered by the fact that the Ebon Beacon had ceased transmitting due to the massive disturbance in the ebb caused by the catastrophe. Slayer was infuriated to find the majority of this force was made up of Ion ships partially crewed by humans and that most of what was left of the Fold Fleet had made best speed for Static. With interstellar communications still ineffectual Slayer personally contacted the Primus Navigator and demanded to know why so many ships had disobeyed orders. Slayer was further enraged when the Primus Navigator couldn't give him a satisfactory answer.

If all this was not enough Preceptor Teeth then high jacked all available Fold ships and proceeded to evacuate all Necanthropes from Mort. Fighting between Necanthropes and Stigmartyr agents was fierce as Necanthropes defended the Mort Central Space Port from attack. More than twenty senior Necanthropes lost there lives as they bought time for Teeth and his minions to escape and more than sixty agents died attempting to stop them.

Only a few Necanthropes still loyal to Slayer remained as the rest of Society effectively vanished from the World of Progress.


DAY FOUR
The prodigal return

The first communication from off world came from Artery. It simply said "Stormer population on route. Consider them extremely hostile." It takes a full month for an Ion ship to reach Mort from Artery and four days for a standard communication. The message from Artery had been sent on a third class signal generator which meant it was two weeks old.

The second communication came from a Foldship crippled by the catastrophe. It was almost out of range of ebb communication but managed to relay a message by bouncing it off of the beacon on Static. It was also short and more terrifying that the one from Artery. "Contact with ForceFoldship. Magnitude Nine Displacement. Carrying the sign of Mandrake. Foldship name Yung." The largest ship that had ever served in SLA Industries Fold Fleet was magnitude Four Displacement.

On hearing this communication Static declared itself an alien free zone and forbid any non Ebons from setting foot on the planet without the express permission of the Department of Transport on Static. All non Ebons on planet were given two months to leave. No easy order to obey as transport off world was sparse to say the least.

Most of Slayers senior advisors and department heads felt that the situation was spiralling out of control and demanded that Slayer do something to protect SLA Industries assets from danger. In particular the perceived inactivity of the Kilneck angered the department heads. They wanted the Kilneck to repeat their valiant efforts of the Conflict Wars and return SLA to the power it was. Slayer was quick to point out that most of the reality that people perceived was a fallacy and the Kilneck were not to be used as some kind of herald of a new age. They were at his command, nobody else would hold authority over them.

The Kilneck didn't seem to be too enamoured with this idea although none spoke out directly against Slayer, at least not publicly.


DAY FIVE
Once in a life time

At this point the general consensus was that nothing could stop the total breakdown of society. A dark age faces the World of Progress. Slayer was now showing physical sings of stress and mental exhaustion. As a result he delegated many of his duties to subordinates and new hastily organised divisions, these in turn would argue and bicker amongst themselves and achieve very little in the process. The organisation of the once mighty SLA Industries had spiralled into chaos.

At this point the existence of two, hitherto unknown, organisations came to light. The first was not so much a department or division but a group of people trained by Slayer to manipulate and distort reality. These 'Reality Engineers' were a mixed bunch of characters that seemed to have been taken from every walk of Mort life. The one thing that linked them was the fact they seemed unaffected by the catastrophe or perhaps affected the most. Their abilities were bizarre and bore no relation to anything past or present in the World of Progress or beyond. Ebons seemed to fear or at least be uneasy about them and refused to have anything to do with them. Their talents ranged from mind control through telekinetics to the total warping of reality, its time frame and people or objects in it. The ebb avoided them like the plague or rather they pushed it away. An area that a Reality Engineer walked through could take half an hour to recover its ebb flow. Over the course of the next few months Slayer would integrate some of these people into position of power and control in the various departments of SLA.

The other organisation was a new division created by Slayer to counteract any and all White Earth activity. Needed now that Stigmartyr were occupied with the defence of Mort. The SLA Investigation Division (SID) was made up of Operatives from investigative backgrounds. The SID were given a wide range of powers to aid in investigations. Helped by the fact that Slayer had effectively scrapped the SCL system the SID would be quickly hated by Stigmartyr and despised by the rest of Slayers remaining Operatives. Although they had a much more acceptable public image than Stigmartyr only the civilians seemed to accept and appreciate what they did.

With the scrapping of SC Levels and the breakdown of most monetary systems almost all of the World of Progress was very quickly reduced to a barter system. Operatives in Central could no longer buy weapons, ammunition, drugs, armour or equipment. Instead they where issued with what they required depending on there department, assignment and mission. High level Operatives felt insulted at being told to stand in line with the rest for their share and a few dozen resigned on the spot taking what was left of there equipment and weapons and disappeared into Downtown.


DAY SIX
The meek shall inherit…

The influx of civilians to Central was causing a massive logistics nightmare to ease this Slayer ordered all non-skilled civilians expelled from Central. Any trying to return would be shot. This tore apart families and caused riots when the Stigmartyr units moved in on the shanty towns to start the expulsions. These riots where short lived as any disagreements were settled at the barrel of a gun.

By now the rest of Mort City had calmed somewhat as most had been killed, found shelter they could defend or made the trip to Central. Serial killers that had survived the catastrophe were running free in Downtown. Even though SLA had spent the last few years thinning out their numbers quiet considerably hundreds perhaps thousands had a free killing ground. Some reports indicated that cognates had set up safe houses in the lower areas of Downtown where they offered protection to civilians in return for weapons equipment and services. Of course some of these services would include death.

What was left of the Shiver forces outside of Central barricaded themselves in their Shiver stations waiting from orders from Central or Commander Cradle. What they didn't know was that Cradle was dead, killed by Slayer on the day before the catastrophe after he resigned when Slayer refused to cancel the Sammhaine.

Slayer ordered that anybody that was not within the confines of Centrals walls by midnight would be considered an enemy of SLA and shot on site. This resulted in a barrage of radio communications and ebb communications to Central from all SLA employees still outside protesting at the order. This caused Slayer to do something almost unheard of in his time as controller of SLA Industries, he rescinded the order. Instead all employees attempting to enter Central would be vetted for skills, training and abilities before a decision was made as to their eligibility to enter. All entry applications where to be controlled by Stigmartyr.

By This time Stigmartyr agents were at braking point. In the space of a week they had been reduced from ultra-clandestine Operatives to immigration officers. Some applied for entry into SID, some disserted and others took out their frustrations on the civilian population.

Slayer seemingly in a fit of range disbanded Stigmartyr instantly on hearing their protests. Reassigning them to SID, Reality Engineering and the Black Chapter. The last order caused even more problems as the hatred between the two organisations, kept secret for decades, became very public and in some cases resulted in fighting and the occasional death.

The Black Chapter took over control of the wall defences and immigration.


DAY SEVEN
The last day

Given the chaos of the last seven days most had quickly settled into their new world. Those that could not cope and went insane were either put out of their misery or expelled from Central.

The rest of Mort City and Mort as a whole was left to smoulder, rot and die along with the World of Progress. Or at least that was what it looked like.

The first reality wave hits Mort. These phenomenon where like mini catastrophes although causing much less damage than the original. Some were localised to areas no more than 3 metres square while others would affect whole regions of space or planets. Their duration also varied from second, to hour to days. Reality waves lasting days were seldom bigger than three or four square kilometres. There frequency would fluctuate between two hours and two or three weeks. Later this time would increase until months would pass before a wave disturbed any where.


WEEK TWO
All's quiet

More communication from off world indicated that what remained of SLA forces on Dante' had left on whatever transport they could find and had set course for Mort.

No more sightings of the Foldship Y√ľng were reported.

More ships arrived at Mort, most carry no cargo but some are still loaded. Of these the most important is the Pah-Jarkost (Gods Ghost) with a manifest of 7000 cubic tones of medical supplies, food, construction materials and weapons.

Slayer sends three Ion drive carries to Dante with orders to bring back as much military hardware as possible.

A report from a small Ion frigate on route from Fiddlers Green informs Slayer that Red Rebel Four research facility has been overrun by enemy forces, affiliation unknown. Later reports and information from Mitzz of the Kilneck confirm the enemy force to be that of the Black Church. For the first time RD4's location is general knowledge, three planets distant from its sun in the same system as White Earth.


WEEK THREE
Life is but a dream

Field Marshal Daidler requests permission from Slayer to take an expeditionary force to RD4 to rescue any survivors from the Black Chapter units stationed there, Slayer refuses. Instead Daidler is ordered to make the Ion battle cruses "The Cross" space worthy. The Cross is an ancient ship, over 800 years old, and is considered to be at best an antique and at worst scrap metal even though it is rated as a Magnitude 3 Displacement vessel. Most see this as a diversionary tactic by Slayer to keep Daidler occupied.

Reports of White Earth activity in Downtown increase. With no Stigmartyr agents to keep this in check Downtown is believed to be nothing more than a playground for White Earth demons and acolytes. In addition to the chaos that is now Downtown all perimeter walls of the Cannibal sectors have been breached in several places. Carrien and other abominations including several failed Karma experiments are now hunting in the lower Downtown areas of Mort City.


WEEK FOUR
Into the valley of death

The Ion transports from Artery arrive in orbit. With little atmospheric defences SLA are helpless to stop the Stormers ferrying to Cannibal sector one on whatever shuttle craft they have. Some crash as a result of repeated Kilcopter attack of these several hit and destroy large sections of CS1's perimeter wall.

Slayer orders all remaining Frothers to prepare for a tactical assault on Cannibal Sector One. Even the Frothers know this is suicide and protest. Slayers calls all Clan heads to discuss the mission. The Clans agree to take the mission only after Slayer promises the assistance of all seven members of the Kilneck.

Almost 3000 Frothers, in full battle dress, are transported to CS1 along with the Kilneck. Along the rubble of the sector wall they stood with full ceremonial battle banners. The attack was supposed to eliminate what was left of the Stormer population that had emigrated to CS1. As the Frothers advanced on Salvation Tower a multitude of creatures, some estimates report their numbers as high as 6000, swarmed towards them. They seemed to appear from everywhere, buildings, streets and even from under ground. True to their nature the Frothers ran headlong into battle and paid the price for their typical bravery. Hundreds died on the first advance more on the second. By the third the Stormers had encircled the Frother Clans and the battle was lost. Even the mighty Kilneck found it difficult to hold off against the Stormer army. It is reported that one member of the Kilneck almost had their head severed from their body by one of the creatures blows. When the retreat was sounded only five Frothers and the Kilneck were able to escape. The rest were butchered by the Carnal Stormers. The Frother clans were no more. With only a few dozen left on Mort and a similar picture on other worlds the Frother was official extinct as a race.


MONTH TWO
Born in a storm

The weather of Mort had changed drastically since the catastrophe. Storms raged constantly causing havoc as lighting strikes became a daily hazard. Flooding took its toll on the majority of the city with Central being the only area able to withstand the flash floods and rising water levels. The geography of Mort city had totally changed as large parts of it were washed away. New rivers and lakes had formed throughout leaving what was left of the Morts road structure destroyed. The underground network and the city sub structure were totally under water but rumours abound of areas that still could sustain life.

All of Centrals defences where now in place and the perimeter walls finished. Communication off world had been restored and a full assessment of the destruction of the WoP got underway.

The assessment of the World of Progress made grim reading. Few had survived untouched with most planets and races as a whole were reporting huge casualties on a species wide scale. The Shaktar home world was one of the few places no contact could be made and the only information came from an Ion pilot gone insane. He spoke of the gods walking the earth as they did eons ago, laying waste to whole regions of the planet. Not that it mattered as almost 80% of the Shaktar race had been lost in the catastrophe. Along with them went 70% of the Wraiths, 85% of the human population and at least 65% of the Ebons. As part of some kind of twisted irony the Brain Wasters had suffered the least actual fatalities as far as anyone could tell, but the mutation they had went through meant that they could no longer be considered the Brain Waster race. They had become something far more terrifying and deadly. By now any Stormer that wasn't in CS1 was dead or lost somewhere on the outer rim of the WoP. In total only about 0.01% of the Stormer breeds were physically unaffected by the catastrophe and of then at least half were insane and subsequently destroyed.

New Paris was rebuilding some semblance of order and had secured most of its cities. But with few natural resources it relied on other worlds for its supplies of food, medicals supplies, the majority of its clean water and weapons. Its systems proximity to that of Morts hindered this as Mort claimed the lions share of any supplies in that area of the WoP.

Static's alien expulsion program had gone unchecked by SLA and almost all had been transported off world. Any alien left on Static was there by permission of the department of Transport and Immigration. Still with much of its natural resources untouched Static was more or less back to normal but much quieter. The only problems they had in the first few months was with the eradication of the Brain Wasters on planet. This was dealt with swiftly by the Ebon Guard.


MONTH THREE
Came the brave and the bold

Ion ships from Dante' arrive at Mort. Only 18,500 troops had made the trip from the war world. Department of War records stated at the time the total number of personnel on Dante was around 76,000,000.

With this influx of personnel came new problems. Most of these troops where carrier military and adjusting to, what to them was, civilian life was not easy. No rigid military controls, no routine and a much reduced chance of death by Thresher cannon.

The SID began to extend its sphere of influence over the WoP. Now with sufficient numbers to conduct field operations the first of the SID agents left Mort for various worlds still under control of SLA Industries. Operating in two man teams these agents, charged with the suppression of all Reality and White Earth activity, became known as The Watchers. With powers to equal those of the old Stigmartyr units and with no jurisdictional boundaries the SID quickly became feared, hated and suspected by everyone as they carried out their witch hunts. Of course the large percentage of these agents did actually follow the letter of the law but some used their power to settle grudges or for petty pleasures. Most cases that the SID handled resulted in torture, incarceration and then death for the guilty parties or simply death as the work load of the agents was such that they had little time to arrest and interrogate prisoners.


Disclaimer:
All refrences to material published or in development by Nightfall Games is © Nightfal Games all other material © Morton Smith 2000.

Continue Reading

Stigmartyr

by Morton T. Smith


Something that should be said before this is read is that the work contained in this file belongs 101% to Morton Smith. It was originally distributed privately, to avoid the "Truth" being widely known among players. I am reproducing it now due to its propogation on the SLA List, as I feel that it can do no harm to have it more easily accessable.
If either Morton (who allowed me to put up his previous work but who I could not get in touch with recently), Jageeda or any of the Nightfall crew want this removed, it will come down immediately. My intention is to reduce my mail traffic to those new SLA-L members who so often ask "Can someone mail me the Truth?".



STIGMARTYR
(SCL 1 Classified)

"Stigmartyr is there to protect you from the truth! No more questions."
-- Mr. Slayer 901SD

Stigmartyr is more of an unknown quantity than even the ultra-clandestine Internal Affairs. This group spring up subdue the strange and bizarre happening of the World of Progress and then disappear just as fast. Although billions each year go into their budget none of it is ever accounted for and is written off as Slayers personal expenses. So what is this organisation, why do they answer only to Slayer, what do they do?

From the very beginning of the World of Progress, Slayer knew that there was a real threat from the forces of White Earth and other such entities so as a counter measure he set up the Stigmartyr department. This organisation would deal with all those incidents that Slayer would deem unfit for standard operative investigation. As the effects of controlling such an organisation could not fall to any of Slayers subordinate commanders at the time, he ordered the creation of Guidance to run Stigmartyr.


GUIDANCE
Guidance is, at first glance, merely a giant bio-genetic super computer housed deep under the Ebb beacon that shares it's name, but is much more. Guidance was the result of the largest collaboration between what was to become Karma and DarkLament. Guidance is much more than just bio-genetic flesh in a tank, it is a living thinking organism that is in contact with the natural as well as the ebb world. The technology that created this anomaly was released to the technicians that built both the Beacon and Guidance by Slayer. Where the advanced tech came from is still a mystery and all records of its design vanished as did all the personnel that worked on the project.

Guidance is in constant contact with every department of SLA Industries with full access, Guidance effectively has a SCL 1 clearance, to every computer database and mainframe evaluating the events of the World of Progress. Scanning to detect any incident that might require the use of Stigmartyr agents. Any communication that Guidance has with it's agents is through fax, e-mail or a telephone call.

Stigmartyrs base of operations is also under the ebb beacon, but no agent knows what really lies in the bowels of their HQ. This complex is under 300 levels of disused factories and power plants that SLA abandoned centuries ago. Only agents know how to get to the Stigmartyr complex although a squad of operatives did stumble on it once by accident and paid the price of knowledge with their lives.


STIGMARTYR: A BRIEF HISTORY
Although this organisation has been well established for the last 900 years or so their carer has been a rather uneventful one. The main reason for this being the nature of their operations do not call for massive acts of valour or large battles.

The bulk of all Stigmartyr missions or clandestine and covert to the extreme only a select few of their actions go noticed. The first of these is in 300SD when Salvation Tower fell. Within hours of the accident that caused the crash of the tower and chaos rained over hundreds of sectors of Mort Stigmartyr mobilised over 170 elite troops to the very "center" of the devastation and prevented the whole sale invasion of Mort City by Carrien and other monstrosities by performing a suicidally brave holding operation while the rest of the SLA operatives and Shivers were left in a state of blind panic. No official recognition could be given for this, but Slayer did give them his personal thanks which, for Stigmartyr agents, was more than enough.

The next time Stigmartyr would be called to the aid of Mort City in such a large scale would not be for 400 years, but again they were ready. A large Chien cult of over 300 members had entered into a mass 'suicide to summon' pact. While the followers, one by one, killed themselves the Priest summoned a collection of truly hideous creatures that should have caused enormous amounts of carnage in Mort. Sensing the start of this ritual ten agents where dispatched to stop this atrocity from taking place. When the agents arrived at the location of the disturbance they quickly found themselves outnumbered by the remainder of psychotic followers that had not yet killed themselves. these followers through themselves directly in the path to the Priest stopping the agents from killing him and ending the ritual.

The agents fought franticly to reach the Priest, but with each follower killed the more horrors would appear from White Earth. Soon finding themselves level with the Priest and the dozens of creatures summoned the agents knew that they could not succeed in a task of this magnitude. Not willing to commit more forces the ten agents swore their oath to Slayer for the last time and detonated several 'Hot Fusion' grenades vaporising themselves, the Priest and the fowl denizens of White Earth.


AGENTS & STIGMARTYR EMPLOYMENT
There are no standard requirements for actually working for Stigmartyr. There recruitment is from the everyday ranks of operatives that have had contact with one or more of the various anomalies that Stigmartyr cases deal with. These operatives are watched and if they seem to be stable and strong enough they are pulled into the department. Stigmartyr service is not compulsory, but if refused it may result in a seriously deep investigation into the operative.

The agents responsible for the recruitment of these individuals or squads are often mistaken for Internal Affairs as they flash their SCL 2f badges and ask a lot of rather threatening questions before telling the operatives that their services may be required by 'a department within the interstructure of the SLA Network' pick up their briefcase and leave.

Stigmartyr operatives are the most frightening aspect of the organisation as their powers are granted by Slayer himself and more often than not can be questioned by no one unless they have a serious death wish. This does not mean that these agents are not untouchable as the nature of their investigations and the mystery of their true identities often makes them fair game for SLA Ops on BPNs that are connected to Stigmartyr missions. Rumours and tales of the exploits of Stigmartyr agents are wide spread, but none seem to give any clear detail as to the whys and hows of their operations. Most stories are of the white armoured assault style troops that lay waste to anything that gets in their way. These are the front line shock troops of Stigmartyr, their military wing if you will. Almost all other Stigmartyr agents are never spoken of as they hold other positions within SLA and are called on only when somethng close to them catches the attention of Guidance. Some Stigmartyr agents will die without ever being called upon to perform and action for their department. Those that do are careful enough to cover their tracks so well that DarkNight and other soft companies have often been blamed for assassinations carried out by Stigmartyr agents to the extent that BPNs have been issued on the incident and operative squads assigned to the mission finding themselves on the receiving end of Stigmartyr agents authority.

Agents are employed from all areas of Operative society and cover all races with the exception of bio-genetic races. There are a few Stormers, but the are not often used on important or extremely dangerous missions. A large amont of Necanthropes work for Stigmartyr and seem to make the best agents. The largest single race employed by Stigmartyr is human with Ebons and Brain Wasters coming a close second. There are few Shaktars in the organisation as it is seen as going against their gods to try and find answers to the 'unknowns' of the universe.


STIGMARTYR RANK AND FILE
The organisational structure of Stigmartyr is one more akin to a quasi mystical military division of SLA Industries rather than a department of the corporation. The religious order aspect of Stigmartyr was introduced by Slayer when they were founded and it has been a great success as the agents of Stigmartyr see themselves as crusading Knights protecting the World of Progress from the ravages of chaos. Even their motto is a reflection of this "To Blindly Serve". Many traditions and rituals have been introduced to further strengthen this belief. One of the most important is 'The Oath'. Each member of Stigmrtyr must be unquestionably loyal to Slayer and SLA Industries. Each goes through several tests of loyalty at the hands of Stigmartyr Necanthropes. These involve the Necanthrope looking through every aspect of the mind of the agent to make sure that they are suitable to enter the employ of Stigmartyr. If they are not their mind is rewritten and theyare placed back in their old life with no memory of ever coming into contact with Stigmartyr in any shape or form.

The organisation structure within Stigmartyr is unique in the World of Progress and is designed to reflect the crusading religious knight aspect of the department. Each rank has no baring or meaning outside of Stigmartyr and acts as an independent system out with SLA Industries. Regardless of SCL status the rank of a Stigmartyr agent is the true measure of their position within Stigmartyr.

The Department of Stigmartyr is referred to as 'The Order' by those that are part of the organisation. Almost all of the control of Stigmartyr is handled by Guidance and any Rank that people hold is of a purely symbolic nature to make them more at ease. If any of them were to find out that they are actually under the control of a computer there would be disastrous consequences.


Master of The Order
Slayer holds this title and power that comes with it. He has total control over the rest of the department, including Guidance, but does little to effect the day to day running of Stigmartyr. Most decisions are left up to Guidance. All members of The Order believe that Slayer gives every command and deals with each case they are assigned to personally.
Patriarch of The Order

Always a Necanthrope, the Patriarch deals with all the ceremonial aspects of the order and is also responsible for reporting to Slayer as to any failed missions or other problems within the order.


Grand Inquisitor of The Order
To ensure that the order is as pure as possible with no outside (White Earth) influences the Grand Inquisitor performs regular screening programs of the Order. Commonly known as The Inquisition or The Veracity Army the Grand Inquisitor and his men are most feared within the Order. Although technically the subordinate to the Patriarch the Grand Inquisitor is very much an independent body within the order. Many arguments flare up between the two, but are normally quickly settled by Slayer.
Inquisitor of The Order

These are those members of The Order that conduct the screening programs under the watchful eye of the Grand Inquisitor. As with their commander these Necanthropes are feared and respected within the order. The Inquisition are seldom called upon to work outside the Order, but cases of rouge members do crop up from time to time. These are dealt with quickly and in most cases violently. The Inquisitors are among the elite of The Order as any conflict they are likely to encounter is with other members of the order.


Lord of The Order
These are the generals of Stigmartyr and command anything up to fifty Knights and their retinue. Many Lords are Necanthropes.


Knight of The Order
A Knight of The Order is an Agent that has performed acts of extreme valour. These individuals normally have at least five years service with the order and have successfully completed numerous missions. Once given this rank they are also given command of seven Agents and two Initiates as their retinue to aid them on any further missions.
Agent of The Order

This rank makes up the bulk of Stigmartyrs manpower working as solo agents, part of a group or under the command of a Knight. These are the real workhorses of the organisation and deal with all manner of operations that are part of a working life within The Order. Necanthropes joining the order always enter as Agents as their loyalty is garneted by Preceptor Teeth.
Initiate of The Order

For the first year of an Operatives life working for Stigmartyr they are referred to as 'Initiates'. This represents their junior status in the order. They are watched closely by The Inquisition for this first year to ensure their loyalty.


THE ENEMIES OF STIGMARTYR
There are many cults and sects in the World of Progress and Stigmartyr have to deal with all of them on a daily basis. The single largest cult that Stigmartyr investigate are those that involve White Earth. The biggest of these is the Chien (she-an) cult. This is the single largest White Earth cult in existence. Their followers are spread throughout the known universe. Find a planet with a human civilisation and you will probably find a Chien cultist. It is rumoured that there are even Chien cultists among the Shaktar Priests on their home world Kn'nth, but their High Lords deny this most vehemently.

The Chien cult is a blood cult that use ritualistic magic, for want of a better word, to summon demons and other creatures from White Earth to cause chaos in the major cities of the World of Progress. They also use this form of magic in a very similar way to the various powers of the ebb especially the healing arts and kinetic force abilities. Using their own blood and sometimes body parts in these rituals Chien cultists are among the most disfigured and yet powerful sect in the World of Progress. The nature of these beasts are only limited by the imagination of the summoner and how much of their body they are willing to sacrifice. Creatures up to the size of a Stormer can easily be summoned with the loss of about a pint of blood or three fingers. Body parts used in this way take a while to heal and other sources of blood have to be found to heal them, normally provided by one of the cultist followers. Stigmartyr have had to deal with all manner of monsters that these cultists bring forth into the world and often take heavy casualties in dispatching them. Ebb using Stigmartyr operatives that come into contact with these creatures and their controllers can find no trace of the ebb in these beasts or the rituals that are used to summon them. This has lead to an in-depth study of the cults 'powers' by the more senior Necanthropes working for Stigmartyr. Their findings so far seem to indicate that the 'magic' used by Chien cultist is to all intent and purpose anti-ebb. A direct opposite of the ebon powers.

The majority of other cults that Stigmartyr investigate on a regular basis are no where near as powerful as the Chien cult and in may cases are just weaker factions of the former. The structure of the Chien cult is very simple, one priest or True Believer and their acolytes which can number anything from as low as ten up to 100 or more. The True Believer is the only one that has any for of magical power that they use to subdue and control the followers as well as summon demons..

There are thousands of priests on Mort alone each controlling their own followers and having little if any contact with other True Believers. In fact on the few documented occasions that two or more True Believers have met the resulting battle has been a very bloody one. As well as their ritualistic magic the Chien cultists have a great number of 'trinkets; and pieces of jewellery that hold power of their own. Recovered samples of these indicate that they are from White Earth. The powers that these trinkets impart on their owners vary, but in the main are amulets of protection that enable they wearer to withstand huge amounts of physical damage.

Another major part of the Stigmartyr operation deals with tracking down and killing rogue Stormers. The incidents of these creatures going on berserk rages has increased dramatically over the last ten years and there is still little indication as to why it happens. Some trigger in the Stormers mind just seems to set them off on a killing spree that ends always in the death of the Stormer. Stigmartyr agents always make sure that there isn't enough of the Stormer left to examine. Stigmartyr justification for their 'with extreme prejudice' order on these cases is that making the cause of this insanity common knowledge would lead to subversive forces utilising this information to send SLA Industries into chaos as Stormers all over the World of Progress go insane.


STIGMARTYR ETHICS
A more unsavoury side to Stigmartyr operations is the use of the general public and inmates of various insane asylums that are found on Mort. Through chemical conditioning of these citizens and patients Stigmartyr are able to extend their field of operations to those areas that would send agents mad. These 'Drummers' as they are known are given chemical supplement to their normal medication that allows Stigmartyr agents to control them enough to use then in operations. Agents also employ Ebb mind control and possession to use the Drummers in mission unsuitable for standard agents. These make up a large percentage of the kills normal operatives make involving Stigmartyr cases. As roving lunatics are fare game for most operatives.

There are a plethora of drugs that Stigmartyr use to control and subdue the Drummers. One of the most potent is 'Trithol'. this is a powerful hallucinogenic that opens the patient to any for of suggestion up to and

including killing themselves. Trithol is so dangerous because it is equally as potent in any form gas, liquid or solid. As a gas it is orderless and completely invisible. As a liquid it looks just like cloudy water and tastes slightly salty. In solid form it is crystalline in nature and can easily pass as low sodium salt.

Another favourite method of Stigmartyr is to reward the efforts of the insane Drummers by allowing them to act out their various perverse fantasies when they have completed a mission for them. Some of the more intellectual insane have managed to gain themselves the freedom of the various asylums they live in and in some extreme cases they have been set free back into society. This counts for quiet a number of standard operative BPNs being repeated as insane criminals are captured by operatives and then released again by Stigmartyr.

The general public are manipulated much in the same way as those inmates, but Stigmartyr also have another powerful weapon in their arsenal, television. The manipulation of the digital signals that are beamed into peoples homes, places of work, and just about anywhere else are also carriers a hypnotic suggestion signals that leak into the subconscious of the public and change the way they think for the benefit of Stigmartyr. SLA's use of this technique is quite wide spread, but on a more commercial level "You will buy the new Captain Contract toys.", but no where else do they target specific commands to individual citizens to the same extent as Stigmartyr. Add this to the extensive use of mind control drugs and Stigmartyr have a powerful, disposable, task force at their command. At short notice Stigmartyr could mass a small, if slightly docile, army of about 500,000.
Continue Reading

The Journal of Nikita Oblong


by Jared Earle


Stigmartyr internal memo:

Read the following. She may or may not be of the enemy but she‘s still alive. Read and learn. We are currently trying to interpret the sentences.

Survival tips:
  • Don‘t rely on technology.
  • Respect him but don‘t serve him.
  • Learn to predict the shifting dunes.
  • Carry Water.
  • Goggles are a good idea.
  • Never trust a compass and forget a navamap or inertial locator.
  • Distance doesn‘t always work the way you expect it to.
  • Wear local clothes: They wear them for a reason.
  • Expect to die.

(taken from notes scribbled in the margins of an early volume of the journal.)

Journal continues...

When I walk on the shifting terrain, I almost miss the stability of Mort‘s roads. Almost. I still don‘t know how I survived there. After my breakdown, I did some thinking. I think he puts up with me, as an observer. If I take sides, I‘m dead. I must go back, she needs me. At least he has good tea. It‘s funny how his accent seems in contrast with his surroundings. He has that pure Killan accent like the Kilneck. Where do you get an accent like that? What am I saying, I‘ve been there. I must remember to get some water.

I really don‘t like that velouria and she doesn‘t like me. At least he makes her life hell. I met the politician last week. He wants me to do things for him. I said no. I said no to a shard as well. I so hope I get time to sit down and clean up this book. I hope I have time and my mind is good enough to remember it all. I‘m happy I got the DNA done, it would cost a lot to maintain it hear and it would go wiry and get in my eyes. I would have to get it cut and I would look like them. I need to look different or they think I‘m predator or prey. I just watch and he keeps me alive. He wants me, I can tell. He‘ll never get me. Look what he did to Zoe. That was him being nice. I don‘t think I could handle that. Besides, who would get to write it down for him. He thinks he‘s going to win and he wants me to tell his story. I wonder how the shards fell about it. Do they even feel? He speaks with a forked tongue. He scares me when he upsets her and licks her misery of her face and she doesn‘t like it but she‘s trapped. She looked for it and got what she wanted but found out it wasn‘t what anyone could want.

I occasionally need to return to Mort and remember. It‘s all to do with perspectives. I‘ve still got my handle and I can open the door with it. I hope no-one‘s gone in my room. Apparently, a DD got out. I think it was dealt with but you can never tell.

I remember first arriving here and it rained blood. Not red water but blood. It congealed. I think I was the only one not to flip, considering I‘d already flipped before. I think I must have flipped back. I don‘t think of my friends much. Well, I think of her of course but she‘s here, safe. I feel hungry as well. Is that man with the funny, smelly horse going to be around? I hope so, he‘s funny. Who was it who finally found a use for my contraceptives? He put them on his rifle. I told him not to trust in technology but he seems to cope. Scares the locals, I suppose.

I‘m worried when people from my old world come. They don‘t survive and I can‘t help them. Well, not when he‘s watching. Some of them try to kill me thinking I‘m of this world. Only the locals know not to have a go. He‘s very protective. He‘s so unhappy, I wish I could make him happy.

To be continued.....

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Halloween Jack

Written by: Dave Allsop
Edited by: Morton Smith
Thanks to: Carol May


Prologue

"For years you searched for truth. How does it feel as it enshrouds you before all others? Does it sting like a cruel world, or clutch you in a lover's grasp? Do you remember? Do you remember when I found you lying in the ashes, and I gave you what you asked for? And god, how you cried because it wasn't what you thought, was it? Poor child, you, the lover of life, the protector of the downtrodden, did you not see what havoc you'd have brought to Slayer if you were to succeed? What is truth? Truth is hope my friend. But you know what the problem is? Nobody really wants it, not deep down where it hurts. That is why you are here with me this moment. You and I have a great deal in common. We both cared and wanted change yet society chose to betray us. As a result we have indulged in that which does not become us. We kill. Carve our hatred in flesh, and increase loss, sickness.......death. Does that make one...god? No? Then why do you live when others fail to destroy you. Their positive action, even goodness cannot touch you. Each soul controls it's own fate, that's what separates belief from doubt. We practise self religion. We are united under a common cause, are we not? Tell me what it is, that thing in itself which you despise?"

Halloween Jack slowly raised his hands to peel the mask from his head. The amber skin creaked and moaned as he pulled. It had been so long since he'd first put it on, years had hidden his true face from the world of progress.

At once the warm air buffeted against his bare face and he shields his eyes from the glare of the sun, his vision obscured and secluded for a lifetimes grief. He couldn't dare face the one who spoke of old matters. His mouth was dry and painful, retarded from lack of use "S...Sl....Slayer" he croaked

"Yes, Slayer. Do you hate him now as you did then?"

There was a long pause.
"Why.......won't you let....me....die?"

Walker smiled and looked into the wind averting his eyes from Jack

"You don't want to die, we're just getting to the good part"

"I'm....tired... Walker"

Walker drew him a maddening stare that made Jack pale

"I'm tired too, but there's no point in stopping now. You're going to help me settle this score, whether you like it or not"

"Why?"

"Why? Why?! Because you wanted this, didn't you?! You poked your nose in and got caught up in something you couldn't handle. That's why you're Halloween Jack. That's why you're here and that's why your going to do whatever I goddamn tell you to do!"<>

Jack put his hands over his face and bent over, the mask falling from his lap

"Don't do that! Don't cry. Don't cry in front of me! I've cried enough for everybody including you! You should have thought of this before you took it upon yourself to write that bloody rag all those years ago....."

Jack looked up hesitantly

"My god....what have I done?"

Walker knelt down in front of him and ran his hand through his ginger hair. "It's not what you've done. It's what you nearly did"



1. "Should be home by nine"

Wave Lindsay put on his coat and pulled the collar tight around his neck, the cold breeze of fear ran through him before he stepped outside. Today, everything went into action, too late to turn back now. Wave was with so little regret for findings but he knew that what he had, what he knew could bring great suffering upon the World Of Progress. Wave hoped they could cope with the truth, tomorrow would bring war and hope, hand in hand. Together they would walk steadily into an unforseen future.

Behind him he could hear coughing coming from the bedroom. Mary, Wave's wife had been very ill since he had brought his work home with him.

"Wave?... Wave don't leave without saying goodbye" She called out weakly. Wave entered the room holding a glass of water. Quickly he hid the horror on his face, Mary was deteriorating rapidly. She was matted with sweat, knotted over facing the rainy window.

Wave sat the glass on the bedside table and sat beside her.

"Wave?"

He took her cold hand, and gripped it tight against his chest

"Yes, my dear?"

"The flowers have fading and died."

Mary looked wearily at the empty vase by the window

"There won't be any more flowers will there, my love?"

"I'll....I'll bring some home tonight, when this is done, I promise."

Mary closed her eyes, fearing the worst, they sounded like her husbands last words.

"Wave,....just promise me...promise me you'll try"

"Don't say that Mary, everything will be fine. Slayer won't risk a face off, everything's covered, I promise. I should be home by nine, at the very latest"

Wave left home without saying goodbye, by nine he wished he had. Wave never saw his wife again.



Mary raised the glass to her lips, the water was cold and painful on her palate. She tried hard not to think of the terrible things Wave had told and of what she'd read in his article. It was all so hard to believe, yet belief meant so little now. It would be so easy to just close her eyes and disappear from this terrible place.

The glass slipped through her fingers but never hit the floor. It was time, Mary was going towards the flowers and as she caught the scent of their sweet fragrance she remembered when Wave courted her in New Paris. His face so fresh and innocent, such high hopes of notoriety. He used to buy his wife flowers, then the dreams died and he greeted Mary with a pale kiss and a broken expression. The Downtown Phoenix was born when Wave realised that the flowers weren't real and the sweet scent was only petal deep.

Mary shut her eyes and the memory closed like a curtain. There would be no tear shed, no prayer said, no angel to take her soul away. The truth had seen to that.



Intruder followed Wave through the backstreets of lower downtown, forever looking over his shoulder in fear of being tailed. Wave wouldn't see Intruder, even if he was five feet away. It had taken intruder centuries to perfect the art, and he loathed every step and day of it. He hated the fact he was assigned to follow Wave even more.

Eventually Wave reached the backdoor of the downtown Phoenix, the lights were dim but nonetheless on. To an innocent bystander, this run down tenement could pass as a harmless storehouse, Intruder wished he was innocent and took a sheltered position by the window and looked in.

Wave headed for the back office, followed by a short, fat, middle-aged man. He looked tired and nervous. Wave didn't, not half as much as he ought to be Intruder thought. Looking down at the printing press Intruder could see the spinning sheets of tomorrows news - Integration 20, a lethal announcement at the breakfast table of every civilian and operative on Mort.

"Shit" Intruder looked away in disgrace, he knew this is what he'd find but some how he wished that Wave might get the fear and pull out at the last moment. He didn't realise that this meant so much to Wave Lindsay, did he really think he could go head to head with Slayer? Intruder never thought it would come to this, to stain his hands with the blood of a friend. He was surprised that the information hadn't killed him sooner but Wave was always a strong one. The thought of letting Wave go crossed Intruders mind but if it wasn't him, it'd be some other op or Necanthrope who probably make him suffer for his crimes. No, Intruder would do it just as Slayer had asked, yet quick and painless, which was not part of the agreement.

Slayer wanted his pound of flesh.

"Newton, what's the final word count? I wanted to... Newton!" Wave looked up from a draught copy of Integration 20 to find Newton was no longer by his side. The office had grown so awfully quiet. Wave had been so engrossed in his deadline that he barely noticed the silence that stole his dreams from under his nose.

Wave rose nervously and edged towards the door.



Intruder hadn't left much of the staff, a few dismembered limbs lay scattered on the floor. A spurt of arterial spray had hit the print run and danced through the roller, leaving a red ribbon across the sinister streams of text.

Wave felt a gun barrel press against the back of his neck.

"Turn around and step slowly back into the office"

"I..."

"Now!" Intruder pushed Wave through the door.

Wave fell back into the office and turned to find Intruder bearing down on him, spattered with blood from his fellow co-workers, pointing a Blitzer in his face. Wave was at a loss for words.

"It's over, Wave. I'm sorry." Intruder pulled back the hammer on the gun.

"No, Intruder don't. The public have a right to know." Wave stammered.

"Don't let them suffer anymore than the have already. The truth is just to much to bare, can't you understand that?"

"I never thought I'd hear this coming from you, old friend, I really didn't." disappointment in his voice.

"I believed in you, Wave. I always have. It was the one whose backing you, that's the root of the problem. Do you see?

Wave was silent, his lips trembled, but the will to speak, to live was gone.

"Was it all worth it, Wave?"

"I guess we'll never know, will we?"

The shot ran out above the din of the machinery.

Intruder sat and stared for a long time as his friends blood emptied out onto the floor. It brought back bad memories... time for back-up.

"Guidance? Send in Stigmartyr One. All clear." the voice, dejected and low.

Outside children still played in the streets, dashing through puddles. Everyone wore masks today. A day when all souls would rise.

Wave dead and glassy eye gazed at the pumpkin head on the windowsill. It's fiery face glistened and glimmered as the DarkFinders stormed the factory and set it ablaze.



The Walker looked down at Wave's lifeless body and smiled.

"The Downtown Phoenix burns in Slayers rage, but like it I will help you to rise from the ashes. I will grant your fond wish. You will be all that Slayer respects and yet despises. You will be like a brother to his clockwork killer. In time you will tread the same soil and while he guides Intruder, I will guide you as a Monitor. The price of such a reward? You needn't worry about that right now, it'll become apparent soon enough, yes?"

The Walker reached down and wrapped the charm around his neck. Like a hungry virus, it quickly slipped under his skin.

Immediately, Wave sat up coughing and retching. Then in a moment looked up and saw his master and was silent.

Then the screaming started, the warm fluid trickled down his leg and an unholy fear surged through him that drowned his sanity in a second as the truth came to bear down on him one last time.

Wave went silent as his conscious mind slipped away.

The Walker looked over to the window and saw the pumpkin head amongst the flames. The carved skull pattern grinned back at him.

"Samme Haine? Slayer, you old fool..." The Walker smiled.



"Alice. Wake up. I bring you a message and a task to undertake."

Alice Neral woke suddenly and looked up to find two figures standing in the shadows of her darkened room.

"Who's there?" she snapped perturbed at a rude and unannounced visitation.

"Get up now, Alice. It is I, Delusia."

Delusia stepped out into the pale light offered by the window. Even her appearance made Alice nervous and uncomfortable even after all this time. Delusia was a Monitor like Alice, but she was much, much older. Alice had overheard that Delusia was by her masters side during the first Reunification Age and knowledge had taken it's toll on Delusia, her eyes and wings had grown tired. Alice smiled inside herself, another to step on and over on her way to the top. Not yet though, there was still enough to learn from this ancient servant.

Delusia looked Alice up and down with her yellow compound eyes. Two faced. arrogant, greedy, misguided, abused, yes, there'd be hope for this one yet. We'll brake her in slow. hurtful and slow. Delusia revelled in the thought.

"Alice Neral, you will take this new servant out of Slayers domain and surround with the Monitor family. The Diamond Dogs, they will look after him from there. Beyond that. we will need you know more... for now."

The Diamond Dogs? What chance would a fresh acolyte stand in the company of these weirdos. They'll kill him the moment they get him alone. It doesn't make sense. Alice concealed her reservations and looked back at Delusia.

"How am I supposed to get there?" Alice said indignantly.

"The Walker bestowed you with gifts, did he not?"

"Yes."

"Then I suggest you use them, you ineffective whore."

Delusia snapped her fingers and the second figure stepped forward and loomed over Alice. In an instant she shrank away from the thing that stood before her. An overriding feeling of hatred and chilling lifelessness engulfed her from this new Monitor. The strange pumpkin like helmet had an unnerving way about it that set Alice's teeth on edge.

This is Halloween Jack. Do not attempt to make conversation with him for he will not reply. Do not attempt to kill him, you cannot win, I assure you. You will take him to the Diamond Dogs and return here for further instructions. Understood?"

"...yes."

Fuck you, old hag. Alice thought.

"Very well, don't fail us Alice Neral... though I hope you will. Farewell."

Delusia stepped back into the shadows and was gone.

Halloween Jack?! Yeah right... there was nothing special about this one. He'd just end up like the rest. Alice was determined to make sure of it.


-The beginning -

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