The rescue of the Order of The Hammer from the attack by the Captain LePonce earned the Ironmine Syndicate the favour of the Ecclesiarchical branch, but sadly little in terms of profit factor or re-sellable goods. Though they did get a line on the location of the last resting place of Nicodemus Keefe – the planet of Vaporious. Father Pagni of the Order requested an alliance with the Ironmine Syndicate in order to find the last resting place of Keefe, as well as in rebuilding their wayfarer station. In exchange for re-crewing their vessel and the information, this bargain was struck.
Though their next destination was fixed, the Syndicate still had to return to Lucin’s Breath as per their arrangement with the Nobilite. The Navigators were annoyed that the journey had not as yet produced any profit, but a combined negotiation effort from Captain Ironmine, Mr. Snrrub, and Pilsner Oldenhaüs, coupled with Father Pagni’s testimony as to the actions of the Syndicate convinced them to continue to sponsor the search for Saint Cognatius, and a destination for Vaporious. Their vessels still required repairs from the battle, and by managing to successfully dip into some Hos Dynasty funds, as well as negotiations with the Order of the Hammer, repairs were secured for the Black Adder, and the Cobra Kai. Coupled with the repairs needed from Shazzy Law got their vessels operational.
With most of their nascent fleet repaired, the course was laid in for Vaporious. The Navigators’ alliance produced another smooth journey, and the arrival was met by a small planetary guard fleet swearing allegiance to Calligos Winterscale. The fleet was small, but outnumbered the Ironmine forces enough that a confrontation was not advised. Fortunately they saw no problem in allowing a trade operation, and contact was made with the Priest-King city of Djenessey.
Met there by a local Missionary named Lanate, an audience was granted with Priest-King Anansai whose advisor greeted them in his name and offered them a taste of the water summoned from his planet. Drank by all except Jian, the water was found to be incredibly refreshing and calming, and put the Syndicate at their ease. Though records were sought concerning the history of the planet, private access would only be granted to those who proved their worth – in this case through a hunt of the fabled Sand Tigers of Vaporious.
Zacharya Caine managed to successfully locate a Sand Tiger after a few days, time which was spent with the Priest-King’s advisor Zahur telling them verbally the history of Djenessey, and regularly doling out water again to all but Jian, who had his own supply. Upon locating the creature, it attempted a sudden ambush by creating a brief whirl pool in the sand, but its primitive tactics were no match for Eckhart, who simply held the creature still in its mind while Jian then used his flamer to slowly roast the creature to death. Caine then successfully skinned the beast, and the skeleton was ready as a gift.
On their way back to the city, both Eckhart and Caine grew suspicious of the water and began to try to wean themselves off it. Despite an urge to keep drinking it, they were both successful – though Caine took a little longer to shake it. Upon presentation of the skeleton, they bore witness to Anansai’s power. Moving to the pit at the centre of the city, he managed through sheer force of will – or so it seemed – to summon up a massive geyser of water seemingly from the centre of the planet, which was distributed to Hos, Law, and all who were willing to drink it. Though Hos was too enraptured by the thought of more of that precious water, Eckhart realised that there was a strong Psychic force coming from deep within the planet – where the water originated from.
Hos and Law by now were completely unwilling to leave or sabotage the city. Though they didn’t seem changed, they were very much opposed to doing anything that might mean they couldn’t have the water of the planet – though didn’t seem conscious of their refusal. Bringing down Shazzy Fire, and an up-and-coming piilot from the Cobra Kai to serve as a shuttle pilot, the three still-lucid members of the Syndicate made their way down the shaft, and despite a rough landing, explored deep in the depths of the planet, along the path the smooth tunnel the water had come from.
Whatever they were expecting to find, a vast underground jungle in the bowels of the planet was not it. Making their way through the jungle, they bore witness to a vast psychic emanation collecting the condensation from the forest and sending it up to the surface of the world, presumably explaining where the water came from. Heading for the rough “centre” of the jungle found a crashed Imperial void ship, a heavy dose of radiation, and a creature formed from the very plant matter. As Eckhart read its mind, learning it was a centuries old life form that had been growing all this time, it read Caine’s to learn how to communicate with the Dynasty members.
Solomon, as Caine named it, meant no ill will towards the Dynasty, and admitted to regularly feeding those on the surface in order to care for them akin to how one would care for a pet. He had no objection to exploring the vessel – the legendary Lux Salvationist of Nicodemus Keefe – with the caveat of avoiding his “heart” inside of it. The Syndicate recovered many aged but significant relics of the crusade, and even discovered Keefe’s inner chamber with the body of the missionary, his legendary power hammer and his writings from which they hoped to decode the message of Saint Cognatius.
Solomon admitted that he was putting something in his water in order to pacify the people and make them stop fighting, presumably explaining the drug addiction suffered by those on the surface. Caine, through an amazing act of reason and empathy, convinced him to slowly wean the people off of the dependency to let them act for themselves again, and then let them go. Once recovered, Hos demanded to meet with this creature, and managed to convince them to allow Caine to go and view its heart, as his augmetic body could withstand the radiation. Inside the vessel was a legendary piece of archeotech known as the Ubertas device, suitable for terraforming worlds. Solomon appeared to have grown around it, and it was very clearly damaged, but Hos immediately seized on the possibility of salvaging the device.
Caine, Fire and Law all seemed against it, and Jian espoused simply killing the creature where it was stood. Hos instead negotiated with the being to ask it to help him grow crops if they were provided, which was agreed to. The people of Djenessey, now freed from the mental compulsion to be calm were starting to show signs of discontent with their monarchy, and so the Ironmine Syndicate left, aware that if war were to break out it’s possible that those down there would again fall to the creature’s mental influence, but many of the Inner Council believed that might be for the Greater Good, at least for the time being.
With some profit, and priceless relics, a course was laid in to return to Lucin’s Breath, where then the next step on the path of Saint Cognatius could be taken…