Prelude: Lurtor and Grim and the least "Secret" Secret expedition


Part 1: Of Ids and Egos

The expedition set out from the Colony of Dusk. A group of expedition hovertrucks defended by a merc hover tank would take the long trek across the Nightmare Moors and across the mountains and then across the Glacial Wastes.

Originally the Banking Guild had paid the Cyborgs of the Wastes to defend them and allow them passage north to where the mountains naturally opened. It would have been a longer journey overland, and the expedition leaders Lurtor and Grim decided they would instead move directly east. It was relatively faster, but gave up the protection of the Cyborgs of the Wastes and put them directly into Uthvelor territory.

They were safe most of the way across the Nightmare Moors, avoiding Uth Raiders and Nightmare packs. Eventually they reached the mountains that separated the red sands of the Nightmare Moors with the cold North.

The mountains they reached were not random it seemed, because they found in the foothills one of the Krato General Tharr’s many labs hidden across Refuge. Inside it they found a place where the former Warmonger Cultist had been bringing through demonic warriors during the height of the Border Wars. Demonic servants he sent southward to help the criminal Uth Warchief Zar’cos overcome the Aerie of the Weeping Wings which he had failed to conquer year after year.

Grim and Lurtor didn’t realize the ancient mess they had stepped into, but they did realize they weren’t the only ones who had stepped in it. At the Lab they found Boriel I’tash, the leader of the traditionalist I’tashi slavers who had fled the Northern Kingdoms at the end of the Border Wars.

Boriel used an artifact known as Ring of Abraxas to see through the obscurements of Lurtor, see him using the forbidden and usually illegal Technomancy, and realize he had an opportunity. He charged the Olgog and lifted him up. The baribur was shapeshifted enough to be strong as a giant, and clenched Lurtor long enough for the Ring of Abraxas to doppelgang the VLAD agent.

Boriel transformed into Lurtor for a few moments enjoying the rush of feeling technomancy, and enjoying a look through Lurtor’s private memories. Inside the Olgog’s head Boriel learned the Olgog knew all about a secret mission to restart the earther base at the Glacial Research Facility. A secret mission to find the missing body of an ancient and powerful dragon of doom known as the End of Worlds.

A mission so important, the new I’tashi Alliance, Fort Lendill, the EEF and the Banking Guild were working together to cover it up as a Merchant Caravan opening up new markets. Quickly negotiating his way out of the situation, Boriel fled, leaving Grim and Lurtor feeling the victors now in charge of Tharr’s laboratory.

While Lurtor favored passing the lab over to the EEF, Grim didn’t trust them fully and instead detonated a Zela bomb. They left the lab, and it detonated destroying every artificing and artifact that Tharr had hidden in there. Many hidden weapons of war, and demonic traps were wiped out by that bomb but unfortunately one important artificing was also destroyed.

Before the border wars began, Tharr had used the blood of the entity He-who-is-known-as-I-AM to punch a hole into the Hell Dimensions controlled by Warmonger’s Demonic Princes. He used this hole to bring back demons, soul takers and others, including the monster turned traitor known as Dr. Wormwood.
He had only been able to stitch this hole closed with a patchwork of artificings and wards. When the Zela metal severed the artificings, the hole split open. And into that hole fell the mountain, as entire sections of stone were disappearing into the hole.

Uriel the ascended tried to contain the mess, but the expedition followed it up by calling a set of Damoclese strikes down upon the I’tashi vessels. Once again their secret expedition drew attention to themselves, and their connection to the EEF leadership.

Boriel was no fool and his artificers were able to use the Earth Leyas to reverse the metal of the Damoclese strike, sending it back towards space to disable a Damoclese platform. The platform was pulled into orbit, and would have been destroyed in a crash if the expedition heroes hadn’t added levi-crysals stolen from the wreakage of the I’tashi vessels to the Damoclese platform at much threat to their own lives.

With a levitating platform to tie their hovertrucks, the “secret” expedition took flight across the mountains and towards the Glacial Wastes. However during their exploration of the mountains they had found an Uthvelor true vampire, and bound her with Zela hoping to deal with her later.

She had been an Uth struggling with the curse of Vampyrism when the I’tashi slavers had come upon her. Their ministrations had killed what little was still alive in her and left only an undead being, who slayed her slavers and ran for it.

She nearly escaped if not for a WarWalker the expedition had reactivated which shot her from the sky. Now bound and held by the Expedition and nearly forgotten she was left in the rear of one of the hovertrucks as they made their five day journey.

Flying on their re-appropriated Platform they watched ice storms in the distance, and approached the Glacial Research Facility under cover of snow.

When they arrived, the expedition dismounted the platform, and began setting up tents and under former EEF Officer Wells McIvinson. McIvinson worried about their location, about an hour hike from the entrance to the Glacial Research Facility, but orders were orders and he set up the camp in the middle of the icefield. At least the expedition leaders made a set of trenches on each side to prevent a full overrun by ground forces.

Grim, Lurtor, Biff, Little Thorn, and McMurphy prepared to enter the Glacial Research Facility. Their mission might be compromised, but it was not a failure yet.


Part 2: Of Super-Egos and Supermen

Grim had noticed back at their camp, and again now that they were being watched. The scouts seemed to be small white furred Olgogs, armed with spears made of wood and bone. Back at the Base Camp, he had only seem a handful of the Olgogs. Enough that they seemed suspicious and curious about the Camp with its artificed tents designed to camouflage and its strange WarWalker defender.

Yet here at the main metal blast doors of the Glacial Research Facility there were an army of the little white furred Olgogs out there, all watching waiting hidden in the snow. Grim found it fascinating. The little Olgogs were hiding their presence and they were moving the snow around them using Air and Water Leyas to manipulate it directly. As the white furs moved they smoothed snow, leaving not even a worm track of their passage.

There was a flash of golden light as Uriel appeared to join them. He looked annoyed at the demonic hole they had created, but when he noticed the Olgog army around them he held that information to himself.

Grim bounded over to the Olgogs and introduced himself in High Falos. Seeing only a single among Grim’s friends looked remotely Earther and that was Biff, and he approached at Grim’s side, and smelled firmly like a K’iorn, the Olgogs assumed these were Falosini or their representatives as had come in days of old to help their mighty chieftains live forever.

As Grim chatted with an Olgog who introduced himself as Lost Icicle, the olgog revealed they were of the Tribe of the Hobtla Mag’Ol. They were cute cuddly white fur Olgogs with razor sharp teeth, and talk of eating their enemies.

He also learned that a week beforehand an army of larger southern Green Fur Olgogs had come. Asking questions as they did Biff and Grim learned the Army of Green Furs were made up of clones of Olgog the Olgog, Lurtor and the Old Vlad Compatriots. They had come, but the pair forgot to ask if the army had gone.

Instead they thanked the Olgogs for the information. Especially the information that the Tribe of the Hobtla Mag’Ol considered wood more precious than gold. Seeing an opportunity, Biff and Grim were able to create sixteen trees which were more Katheron than trees.
Had they wanted they could have used these as an endless supply of wood for building, but Grim was worried about the long term repercussions and pruned the new species back into stumps with his void blade. Gifting the mighty trunks of now dead wood, Grim noted the extreme greed and glee of the Hobtla Mag’Ol olgogs.

The Olgogs left with their army, and finally the expedition could actually enter the Glacial Research Facility safely.

McMurphy had a few dark memories of his first time here, when the first fleet had prepared the Two Domes Project on Refuge. Over two thousand five hundred years ago, that ancient starflight had taken the original McMurphy from Earth to Refuge, to start a brand new colony under the rule of Colony General Glypson and his Comissar Enric Von Glomhammer.

Yet he swore he had two sets of memories arriving here. One the official one, where he arrived with the first starfleet officially and landed finding the Facility as empty and frightening as now. Then another where it was filled with the life of its small crew of sixty EEF soldiers and scientists.

At first he chalked it up to a flicker caused by a cloning error… after all he knew his original, Interplanetary Gunship Captain Reilly P. McMurphy, had been a quite a bit taller than him.

McMurphy and team reactivated a dormant A.I. at the doorway. Originally the A.I. of a Cherub Mek, it had been uploaded to replace the original A.I. that ran this place. Biff named the A.I. Ze and asked Ze to help them make their way through the facility.

Ze led them to the main hovertram station for the Facility. Despite miles of surface facility which were mostly habitation units and storage facilities for gear for thousands of EEF soldiers that never ended up getting assigned here, the real meat of the facility went underground.

The surface level tram station had a metro station at 1) the Hab Zone North, and 2) Hab Zone South
then it dropped a level to basement 1 and metro station 3) Officers and Essential Staff Hab Units. These seemed like they had been used during the original colonization efforts.

Once past that they saw the Solar Plant that converted and stored the energy drawn by the miles of solar collectors on the surface protected by a layer of surface ice which magnified the power. The Solar plant converted the energy into heat energy for the main line of sub-basements along the tramline going further down into the ice below.

At each stage the tram would bring hot air with it, keeping the occupants warm, while airlocks behind and in front of the tram prevented the heat from escaping until the tram slid forward and backwards.

They reached Tram station four on Sub-basement 3, and it opened up into a wide chamber used by the security forces assigned here. On the right side of the room there were about thirty cubicles, each with their own small holocomputer stations and an array of security scanning gear.

On the far wall of the room, they could see a giant holographic display with multiple high level outputs. The power couplings attached to the computer had been hacked away using a fire axe made of composite materials.

Biff was first into the room, and was nearly blasted by the automated cannons. But some quick thinking and a simulacra allowed him to redirect its targeting long enough for Lurtor and Uriel to fix the security systems and disable their desire to kill everyone.

Inside the room, they also found the bodies of fifteen security officers. Little more than skeletons and their EEF uniforms, the pile was being used as a cocoon for an intelligent nightmare. They quickly ascertained that the nightmare was in hibernation. It had never absorbed enough Shadow Leyas to make the transition into a Nightmare Lord.

Uriel had learned of one previous case of this, where a Nightmare had been under Baronade for centuries being fed and gave birth to the Nightmare Lord Bry. This time, the nightmare had failed gaining enough food, and it was just hibernating. In that moment they could have killed the beast, but instead they argued and as they argued, it was Grim who stepped forward and pumped as much of his own shadowy lifeforce into the half-formed egg-sack.

It jumpstarted the effort, and the nightmare burst revealing a fully formed nightmare lord child. Her skin was like shadow, and her eyes were violet within violet. Her hair was long and looked like porcupine needles, and her fingers and toes ended in claws.

Naming her Bliss, Grim raised the strange child from the now melted pile of corpses and ice.

Uriel was quick to act, knowing none could be trusted with such a child, and he took both child and Grim away to the Ty’ani’s main library where he could meet with Martin their leader. The leader of the Tyr’ani entreated Grim and convinced him to allow them to train and raise the child.

Meanwhile back in the Glacial Research Facility, McMurphy, Lurtor and Little Thorn were argueing over the computer systems they had discovered. It seemed the Security room had an early EEF security system with a backdoor into the modern EEF, VLAD and even the OVC databases. It was a security system that could call upon the orbital defense network and the Damoclese Strike system.

McMurphy and team gopped at the security system’s reach. Checking its system, they could strike anywhere on Refuge from this console. And from what they could tell, the Old Vlad and his snakes had used it to make strikes upon a Sea Kings fleet, and upon three different population centers on the far continent.

Two Sites of Rule had been targeted and a religious site had been targeted at the height of a ceremonial time of year. The main government had been destroyed, and everyone had been thrown into chaos. The entire government of the Sea Kings was now gone, leaving only outlying warlords and the lesser Illuminated with desires for Pharonic worship left.

Releasing how dangerous this computer was, McMurphy’s team forced him to reveal it to the EEF High Command and Field Marshall Strykker himself. Yet McMurphy was hesitant.

In that time Uriel and Grim returned to find McMurphy had authorized Little Thorn to launch a ballistic missile strike from a hidden submarine offshore at I’tashi vessels making their way towards their location. . And while they watched the head of the new VLAD agency in this strange frozen location, they all began to wonder about his mental state. McMurphy seemed agitated.

This agitation seemed to grow as they entered the Tram once again, and took it down a few more floors to the Comms Center. The security system showed all the cameras in the room had been disabled, and the life support had been disabled internally as well.

Entering the room, they saw clearly they were the first here since the original colonization efforts.
The room was much as the victims above in the Security room, all the flesh had been stripped from bone, but the uniforms were still intact.

They checked the room, and found the cameras had been carved out by a screwdriver. The same screwdriver had disabled the lifesupport controls and damaged the airlock control to trap everyone in here. The poor folks had spent their last few moments of life screaming on all comm channels trying to reach anyone to save them from being trapped in the freezing room with no air.


Grim bounded forward and went to the first body he saw with a high rank. It was the lieutenant in charge of the Comm Center. The skeleton still had its sidearm, so Grim removed that before resurrecting her using a technomantic nanite slap bracelet. When she revived she first leapt back in horror yelling, “Who strapped all those bombs to that child?”

Pointing at Grim of course having never seen a Bastard before or in fact any alien kind, she thought him some sort of child suicide bomber. She reached for her sidearm which luckily Grim had already disarmed.

Her eyes swiveled toward McMurphy and widened in recognition. Then her eyes fell upon the Olgog form of Lurtor, all massive muscle, and green fur. She fainted away. Lieutenant Ionna Tsipolos, EEF Communications Officer, had only been awake for a few moments and already the cold had stolen her breath and life again.

McMurphy strode forward as the rest argued about reviving her and slammed his hydraulic fists into her unconsicous head. Without a chance, her beautiful face was pulped like a melon.


Little Thorn was shocked and appalled. After days of arguing about how the settlements out here in the frozen wastes would be ruled, they had all agreed upon colonial law. And one EEF agent killing another was the worst sort of crime in his own eyes.

His rifle trained on his superior officer, Little Thorn had to be talked down by the rest of the team. They watched the guilty looking McMurphy stage her body back at her desk, wiping up blood and

They also fixed the vents and it was during this process that McMurphy recognized the mark made by sabotaguing the hatch as the same mark on his own personal screwdriver. As he tried to place how his mark had happened he suddenly had another of those double memories. This time the second memory had him here, in this room after hours, disabling the cameras one by one. Then disabling the vent and lifesupport. He stopped, staring at the blood covered rag, wondering what sort of memories this place had opened up in his cloned brain.

He stumbled back, dropping the rag.

They went back on the Tram, and it raced past Metro 9 where Lab 1 had been set up to convert space suits into Cold Weather Heavy Lifter Suits. McMurphy started having more and more memories as he saw the tram race past the Lab. He remembered back the security room, the images he saw of Metro 14 and Lab 2, where Cloning had been done.

It was the place where this specific McMurphy had been “born”. In fact it was the place where the Old VLAD got his first set of stolen Cloning Vats and began his first set of experiments outside the view of Glomhammer or the EEF administration.

He wondered what new memories that chamber would unlock.

But first they were going to check the Metro 12, down deep below the ice. There they found the Biome Units, three fullsize gardens full of Earther fruit trees and other edible plants. All served by an entire biosphere of insect pollenators. McMurphy could not help but notice all the plants and insects were exclusively those from Earth.

Past the plants in Biome 1 there was a crack in the wall large enough for a human in power armor to pass through, and four large power cables ran through the hole. They walked through and beyond the hole and out into the Frozen Cavern beyond.

At first they saw the lights and scanners and Earther Medical equipment. Then beyond it they saw a Dragon. It was big, but then again big seemed such a small word compared to this specific dragon. Its neck and head were as long and wide as the tallest skyscraper you had ever seen. And if you looked beyond it, you saw its shoulders extend into the darkness of the ice. If you could see its tail it would be so far away it would be flicking the glacial wastes themselves. And tunnels were cut into the ice around it, leading deeper into the darkness. And some had lights, at least seventeen different medical stations recording the vitals of this massive doomwyrm.

And as End Of Worlds, the doomwrym they saw before them, continued to sleep, they came closer. Its neck bore wounds from scything metal and dripped a nanite slurry from toxins implanted by its fight against the Dragon of Unity.

It was in a state of sleep, and each breath it would expell a small puff of black corrosive gas. That’s when Uriel noticed the body by its mouth. It was an EEF technician. His lower half was a smooth skeleton right in the path of the puff coming from the dragon’s maw. His upper half was a partially frozen and partially decomposed corpse. The only naturally decomposing corpse they had found so far in the facility.

It seemed the dragon had been studied by someone here during the formation era. A vent tube had been pushed in front of the dragon’s mouth at some point, pushing that gas through the facility and resulting in the rooms they had found so far being devoite of any flesh on the skeletons. Even in the Comms Rooms where their initial death had been suffocation, had it been this breath that stripped flesh from bone? Uriel wondered.

The Dragon was quite asleep, and didn’t seem to be stirring anytime soon…

Lurtor and Grim looked at the Doomwyrm that had now become their responsibility and felt truly the weight of the universe on their shoulders.

And worse yet, the I’tashi Slavers would be coming soon enough.