Participants: Jordan Fox, Stephanie Fox, Billy Eagleclaw, Ellsworth Lloyd, Gerald Trent, Cookie, Rusty Knuckles, Tom Sunderland
NPC's: Martin Lloyd (Elsworth's Father), Marilyn Lloyd (Elsworth's Mother), Father Il'Ikril, Joseph Smith, Momir Haresh (Pax, researcher found in the cave)
The Crusader arrived in system piggybacked on a bulk cargo carrier. Immediately after detaching from their "ride", Billy fired up the ships systems and logged onto the Dorlass grid for navigation instructions. Much to his surprise he found a message waiting for the team. It was from Joseph Smith, the Mormon religious warrior they'd meet on Tol-in-Gaurhoth during episode #19. It gave a grid box and asked the team to contact him when they arrived in system. This they did and made arrangements to meet at the New Salt Lake, orbital station, circling Dorlass. Meeting with Joseph, he inquired why the team had come to the Dorlass system. Upon hearing Stephanie's explanation, that she was here to meet a Father Il'Ikril, a Fraal priest residing at the Abby of St. Jerome he also expressed an interest in travelling there, saying he had some business to attend to with the monks.
At the Abby, Elsworth discovered possibly the last thing he expected to see. He was shocked to discover his Mom walking through the corridors with a group of nuns. After a tearful if stunned reunion, he found out that his father was here as well serving the order in some sort of security/investigatory capacity.
At the meeting with Father Il'Ikril, Stephanie asked why she was directed to seek him out by Father William Leary. Father Il'Ikril's only thought was that perhaps the Lord had sent you all here was to help with the work of the order, after all, the Lord works in mysterious ways. It turns out that the work of the order is fighting Demons. Similar to the work Joseph Smith says he does for the New Mormon Protectorate. After the disbelieving looks he received the good Father patiently began to explain to the team.
"These externals, as they are most often referred to, where do they come from? How do they move among us
unseen? How can they have penetrated every Stellar Nation? How can we account for the fact that there are documented
accounts of these creatures throughout recorded history? The answer is simple. They are not aliens, they do not
come from some distant planet or Galaxy. They are Demons. They are the fallen angels spoken of in the Holy Book.
They move among us unseen because they manifest where they will, coming from another dimension, one which we Catholics
call Hell! They have been the bane of mankind, and I might add of several other intelligent species of which my
own is one, for all it's history. These creatures you call Greys or Gardhyi, and there are numerous others, they
are servants of Satan. They are demons."
Father Il'Ikril then made a gift to the team of a cross. He said it was an ancient artifact originally from Old Earth, and would provide some measure of protection against Demons.
The next day, Martin Lloyd approached his son and his team as well as Joseph Smith (who he seemed to know quite well) about joining him to go and check out a border dispute some Catholic ranchers were having with the PAX Combine. Arriving at the scene the team found a few ranch hands threatening a group of PAX ISD (Investigative Services Division) personnel. The PAX operatives were tearing down a security fence erected by the ranchers on the supposed border between the ranch's property and PAX Combine property. The ISD personnel had a court order that said the border should be placed on the opposite side of a nearby gorge. The order was very recent and it all appeared appropriate and legal upon examination by Jordan Fox, however it was under appeal. A grid check of the case revealed that a stay of the order was issued even as the check was being made. However sometime during this period, "things went to hell", and quickly. Shots were exchanged and the PAX ISD personnel suffered badly as a result, being significantly outnumbered by the ranchers reinforced by the team and a small group of security men from St. Jerome's. The PAX force retreated and was followed into a nearby gorge by the team. There they discovered that the PAX force had retreated into a cave at the bottom of the gorge.
Following the PAX employees into the cave, they were shortly confronted with the survivors. Volleys of hand grenades were exchanged. In the end, there were no PAX survivors. The team continued on into the cave complex which quickly changed character from a natural cave into a worked stone construct.
Proceeding into the complex the team was confronted by a bipedal horror that seemed to be composed of all claws and teeth. It attacked and was brought down with a massive application of firepower. Martin Lloyd identified the thing as a Jerusalem Demon, Joseph Smith called it a type II3e. Other discoveries of note included an abundance of stone monoliths, all inscribed with strange symbols, no two alike. A mangled body, of which all that really remained was a torso. Beside it they found a mangled data pad, but it contained an intact data crystal. Subsequent examination revealed it contained some sort of partial translation of the symbols inscribed on the stone monoliths. An alphabet of sorts. They also found one Momir Haresh, a PAX researcher hiding in a closet. He was hysterical and kept mumbling "they couldn't control them". He was eventually rescued from the site by the team.
Proceeding deeper into the complex, and near what appeared to be its end, they were attacked by two more of the Jerusalem Demons, coming at them from different sides. After inflicting some serious damage on several team members, the Demons were dispatched. However during the battle the rear of the party was approached by what could only be described as a translucent whirlwind, which appeared to contain within itself various human body parts and other debris. It attacked the rearmost party member which was one of Martin Lloyd's security team from St. Jerome. The entity engulfed the man and in a matter of a few seconds seemed to peel his flesh to the bone. The man's blood curdling screams ringing in their ears, the party turned to face this new threat. It did not however advance upon them, remaining in an adjoining room, and seemingly changing shape in to all sorts of unusual creatures at will. Finally using the cross given to them by Father Il'Ikril, Stephanie managed to force the entity back and then hold it at bay while the team made good it's escape. Martin Lloyd later identified the entity as a greater Demon.
Standing on a windblown balcony on the forth floor of St. Jerome, Billy and Elsworth looked out over the rugged
mountainside that the monastery was perched upon. Huge Cynafea trees, looking more like some kind of giant houseplants
than trees, dotted the distant plain like stepping stones making their way towards Whispering Gorge, obscured in
the distance by the horizon. They both just stared for a long time, trying to come to grips with what they'd just
witnessed. Finally Billy spoke: "I don't mean any disrespect, but I really can't abide what I just saw. I've
no love for the PAX Combine, but no man should be treated like that."
Billy shook his head remembering the images he feared where now seared in his brain, of Martin Lloyd taking a scalpel and slowly pealing the skin from Momir Haresh. He was the PAX man they'd rescued from the monolith complex. Martin had asked questions that Momir had been reticent to answer. Like, what were you doing down their? What did the symbols on the monoliths mean? What do the translations on the data crystal mean? Momir's reluctance had quickly been overcome under the skilled hands of the elder Lloyd. Billy feared the mans screams would haunt him for years. All that said he did have to admit the answers obtained were important. Maybe vitally important. He just wasn't sure it was worth becoming the thing you were fighting in order to win.
"I know", Elsworth replied. "I grew up in the church, and although I have haven't always practiced it faithfully, I'm pretty sure that wasn't anywhere in the handbook. I know…I know Dad didn't like what he was doing, …still he was doing it …and he was damn good at it. I guess I know where I get the surgeons touch. He told me as we walked out that it was necessary, and all the Knights at Saint Jerome where prepared to make the same sacrifice. I was amazed, sacrifice? I said. What the hell kind of sacrifice was that? He told me he was putting his immortal soul at risk in the defense of the faith. For that action alone he expected to spend at least a millennium in purgatory." Elsworth paused staring out towards the plain. "If Momir's right though we could be in big trouble. Why would a company like PAX want to be able to summon Demons? What good would it do them? I'm still not sure I buy into this magic bullshit either! They might be able to tap into some other dimension, but I'm a scientist, I don't believe in magic." A half smile crossed Billy's handsome face. "Oh it exists all right my friend. It may be some strange form of science we don't yet understand, but it exists. I jut hope that it isn't all evil."
GM: Michael Cross (e-mail)