After a brief discussion, it was decided that Hosvic, Naders and Helstag would go down blow to hunt the Hellboars for the festivities, while Lt. Tsunami provides extra incentive in the form of double rum rations and a dinner at the officer’s mess for whoever brings in the head of the beast. Even before the discussion is over, Naders was gone. Disappearing into the throng of excited Ragnarockers and nervous deck hands, to track the caged beasts even as they are hauled to the Black Holds to be released.
The meeting ends unceremoniously as Chikako receives an urgent call on vox. However, it turns out that it was only orders from Lord-Chancellor Bizmuth III the Younger, orders for an supplement of ketchup to be brought up to his room that was being bounced down the officer core. She decides to send the disgraced Parthos to personally see to this most important task, and sends Hosvic and Helstag to look for, and look after Naders.
Unlike the cramped and grimy quarters allocated to the guardsmen, or the slightly more spaceous, grimy quarters for the Sensounin officers, the Lord-Chancellor had insisted on accommodations that befit his station. Located behind gilded corridors and under a mural of an embellished star system, the Lord-Chancellor’s quarters were nothing less than luxurious. Naturally, he had retired to his room to enjoy the company of his female entourage, along with copious helpings of cake, cream and fudge.
It was this scene that Parthos finds himself entering, bearing the requested chalice of ketchup (now also infused with a dose of mechanical spittle). As he enters past the pair of primly dressed guards at the door, he noticed a peculiar medallion on the table. Wanting to take a closer look, he pretends to admire a painting on the far wall, where he casually flicks off the room lighting. There is a moment of panic as several of the women cry out. The doors open as the pair of guards enter, hellguns in hand. In the commotion, Parthos manages to steal the medallion. Needing a distraction, Parthos spills the ketchup on one of the women. Suddenly, cake and fudge and fake “blood” is everywhere. The guards rush in to help, and the tech-priest manages to escape into the hallway.
Back in the converted cargo bay, and not 10 minutes after sending Parthos on his way. Lt. Tsunade receives a general call for security to the Lord-Chancellor’s quarters. She calls for the aid of Cpt. Yarou, who is seated with his posse of officers at their own table, and the group rush up toward the Lord-Chancellor’s room. They encounter Parthos on the way there, and Chikako knows beyond a doubt that the tech-priest was responsible, even if no one else seems to have figured this out yet. After a terse discussion, Chikako decides to assign him to latrine cleaning for now, with further discussion later.
Staying to the shadows, Naders actually manages to shadow the troop ferrying the caged hellboars quite a ways, until they reach a rust covered holding area that look like it hasn’t been used in decades. Aged and broken down machinery surround the room, and crowds of naval security troopers surround a freight elevator shaft that opens into pitch darkness at the center of the room. A chain gang operates a set of heavy pulleys, hoisting the elevator platform up and down by human power. Distracted by the sight, Naders almost fails to notice a pair of troopers taking a Lho-break, coming around the machine blocks. She slips away quickly, only to find herself clinging to the underside of the hellboar cage.
The beast, perhaps agitated by the smell of food on her clothing, starts to become rowdy and temperamental, scaring the troopers as they push the cage onto the elevator to begin their slow and rickety descent into the gloom of the Black Holds. Suddenly scared of the prospect of being abandoned in the Black Holds, Naders reveals herself by climbing out from under the wheeled cage, scaring the troopers half to death. Angry and indignant, and equally scared of the hellboar, they order Naders to open the cage herself, at gun point, after pushing the cage off the elevator. She hesitantly approaches, the beast sniffing and snorting, and growing increasingly agitated.
Undoing the latches, she flings the cage door open and makes a run for the elevator as the troopers whistle for ascent. She manages to catch a hold of the ledge as they rise, but the angry hellboar snorts and lines up behind her, huffing several times before releasing a gout of fire at the elevator! Fire engulfs the platform, chimneying up through the open shaft as Naders lets go, falling back down to the floor with superficial burns and an irate hellboar right on her tail.
Down on the cargo deck, the search for Naders goes fruitlessly. Hosvic checks around the festival hall, becoming briefly distracted by a buffet table with plates of some sort of exotic shellfish. Helstag wanders through the kitchen area, stumbling across Grot-Grot, cowering behind soe counters as armored naval troopers rush toward the rear corridors. There’s the smell of burnt flesh which can only mean that one of the hellboars is lose. He rushes to the scene to find the chain gang bringing up an elevator full of burn and injured guardsmen. A brief interrogation reveals what he fears, that Naders is somewhere down in the Black Holds already, still alive, but alone with the beasts.
As Lt. Tsunade and Tech-Priest Parthos make their way back to the Lord-Chancellor’s room, he confides in her about the trinket he had pocketed. Showing it to her, it is a medallion set with a gem of dark, vibrant green, seemingly sparkling in a variety of hues while remaining a deep, dark shade of green. She doesn’t know what to make of it, although Parthos insists it is of Chaos origin. She takes it from him and as they make their way upstairs, they see medicae techs, orderlies and naval troopers on either side of the hallway. In the center, there’s the Lord-Chancellor, accompanied by a tall dark haired man dressed a crisp military jacket. He seems to scan the crowd, cybernetic eye locking gazes with everyone, seemingly scrutinizing and analyzing their every motion. Chikako bows before them and forces Parthos to do the same. They have not met him before and he does not realize she’s hiding something. Instead, his attention seem focused on Parthos, pulling him forward by the collar and drags him to one of the guards, the woman who has seen him earlier in the Lord-Chancelllor’s chamber. The man orders “search him” and Parthos is frisked by two women, but they find nothing.
Chikako knows that he is looking for something specific. As she looks around the room, there’s cake and ketchup and (real) blood everywhere. She asks him, “What were you hoping to find on the Tech Priest? Is there anything missing?”
“Nothing of consequence,” he replies smoothly, leveling an even stare at the tech-priest, “I just want to make sure he’s not a spy.”
Managing to back down out of the confrontation without starting a major diplomatic incident, Chikako confronts the tech-priest in a secluded area of the enginarium. He relays the story of a battle he and Sister Birgitta fought against the Black Legion, where he could have sworn he saw not one but many of these gems upon the avatars of the Ruinous Powers. Chikako, however, has no reason to believe that he isn’t telling the truth, and decides to start an investigation as he suggested on the nature of the item. The next time she finds an item that doesn’t belong to him on him, however, she’ll send a detailed report the Mechanicus.
Chikako returns to the festival hall, and meets with Grot-Grot and several naval troopers to find out that her team have gone down into the Black Holds in search of the hellboars, after one of the beasts had gotten loose and rampaged through the handlers. Deciding to go after her team, she takes command of four of the troopers and descends into the pit herself.