Fading Suns: Wooden Souls

What Has Come Before

In the fall of the year 5000, six individuals set out on a quest, each for different ends. Godfrey Hawkwood, questing knight, Alexius' bloodhound, was in search of a murderer; a violent felon that had terrorized Byzantium Secondus for mysterious ends before fleeing across Hazat space. Tien Mactiernan, mendicant monk of an heretical order, left in the hopes of finding his former master and friend, kidnapped with his wife from the house of the Hazat. An-hetep-f Griffen, Reeve financier, went off to prove his mettle to the Hazat in the hopes of convincing them of his worth. Maria Eduardo, baby daughter of the Hazat, left on a quest that would remove her from use as merely a bargaining chip for her father, a hand in marriage for a useful alliance. Lan Maningzhoue, master apothecary, went to see the wondrous species of the universe and learn about the incredibly addictive Selchaka drug that was killing Hazat householders. Saburo El-Sabeh, muster mercenary, went with those he was paid to guard and support, even though it meant journeying to a place where his skin was worth more dead than alive.

It all came down to one man, or so it seemed. Bastion Cruze: mastermind behind the drug trade on Aragon, contact of those who had taken Ricardo and Eldritch, and quite possibly the murderer of the priests in the Holy City. They whys could wait, and the party pursued the fugitive from Hazat space, across the jumproads, and into the Severan city of New Milan in the late winter of 5001.

Welcomed by the baroness into a city of industrial nightmare, the party was left to their own devices but watched by enemy forces. Finally, they tracked Bastion to a Jackovian facility deep in the city and broke in to speak with him. Cyrille van Geldar was his real name; a genetically augmented spy, an elite mastermind with the ability to take on any number of appearances, kill who needed to be killed, and retrieve items for his masters. Yet he was quite mad, driven slowly to pieces, possibly by the artifact that he had stolen from the Holy City, an ancient Soul Shard of the Ur. He was given mercy, and left the world as the band left to hopefully solve the last of their mysteries and retrieve the shard.

But this was not to be. Surrounded by Jackovian enforcers, the odds were far against even the competent band. Godfrey was offered the chance to leave, his mission finished and no crime attached to his name, and he departed promising that the Emperor would hear of their fate. Things looked grim, battle was joined, and chaos erupted as the Changed from beneath the city attacked their hated foes and made a diversion for the escape of our players.

Yet Maria had been taken.

Amidst the wreckage of their goals, the party met the leader of the Changed, Meredith Hawkwood, and her guest, Ricardo Eduardo Hazat. The skulking clan of mutants had all received their alterations at the hands of the Jackovians' research facilities, seemingly the test subjects in the Decados' heretical research into how to create better spies and soldiers like Cyrille and Eldritch. Their mutations were quite similar to An's. They hated their tormentors with a passion, but each was hunted on the surface and had to live underground in their obvious alterations.

And so the party was five. On the verge of uncovering the secrets that the Decados had been hiding, with knowledge of the location of the prize that the Decados had risked a well-trained asset to obtain, and fully aware that their missing friends were the captives of cruel and sadistic bastards.

What Has Gone Since

Weeks have passed, though exact amounts of time are hard to determine underground. Severus, in the midst of the jungle, begins a rainy season that threatens to drown those on or beneath the streets. Brief forays to the surface have met with little success, and each of the members of the party find that their descriptions are well known amongst the police, both overt and secret. Even An's shapeshifting is of little help, as it seems that several Jackovian agents have cameras or cybernetic eyes capable of registering the x-ray signature of metonymic muscle shifting. Thus, each trip above ground is a great risk, and so far little has been gained. The soul-shard was recovered but no word has been found of Maria or Eldritch, no contact has made it out of the city, and no audience has been gained with the baroness.

Times are growing tough. Ricardo and Saburo spend longer on the surface, risking more than the others, reporting back in less and less as they become disillusioned and angry in their helplessness. The numbers of Changed refugees are growing as successful raids are performed, but nothing useful has gotten back but more mouths to feed in the less and less habitable sewers. The Ascorbites that share the warrens have begun harrying the under-dwellers for reasons known only to their alien minds. Lan and Tien have spent much of their time tending wounds, malnutrition, illness, and malcontent amongst the Changed, many of whom have genetically fragile immune systems much like An. For An's part, continued helplessness and the absence of Maria, surrounded by clues to his past but no answers, has strengthened a tendency to argue with himself, muttering and mumbling at voices that no one else can hear. Only the warm glow of the soul-shard seems to return him to a normal frame of mind.

Yet change is happening. New word has filtered into the sewers of different subjects. A new ally has appeared. And the rising flood waters grant bravery that can only come from the fear of death.