The RimWorld Bacta War
Part VII: “Sometimes the Worm Eats You”
12 July 02
After defeating the Labor Droids on Iktotchi, we took off from the planet and escaped the system patrols, aided by an astrogation virus that was blocking pursuing ships from getting into hyperspace. We still haven’t figured out why our ship isn’t affected.
Three days later, we arrived at system M13.
From the droid we’d recovered, we learned of the assassination of the entire Black Sun leadership, and how a Black Sun faction (apparently housed at a monastery on M13) could, if sucked into the Black Sun civil war, “disrupt pharmaceutical supply chains.”
Sharess had to be intensively treated for injury, using up most of our remaining medpacks; when done, only Corva had any left (two). He always seems to have some extra supplies.
We landed some distance away, under cover, and made our way overland to the monastery, which was some sort of ferro-crete landing platform/multi-level complex suspended over a lake on long sweeping legs. On the way, we were attacked by a long but very narrow snake/worm that seemed almost metallic and dove through the earth as though it was water. It injured Simon pretty badly (as it went through him with the same ease). Gan (the jedi padawan traveling with the Senator that we’d somehow picked up at Iktochi) slice-and-diced it. It was only after the battle that we realized that, as a metal-based creature, it would likely have been susceptible to ion guns.
With binocs, we surveyed the monastery. It all looked peaceful until we noticed the blaster-riddled monk hanging out one window. We sprinted the rest of the way to the stairs leading up to the landing platform, hoping to avoid more worms. It was desserted, save for the blasted ruins of a ship lying mostly under a movable cover. We headed down the stairs, which were formed out of cement to resembled carved stone, with old metal doors. It really felt like a primitive monastery in some places.
We exited at the first level to find the site of what looked like a major battle, all civilians (though armed), lots of bodies. We were able to recover a number of ion pistols and rifles, and proceeded onward.
On computer terminals we found a map, which listed an infirmary on the third main level and in sub-level 3. Level 1, where we were, was communal areas. Level 2 would be the monks cells. Level 3 would be the offices, as well as the infirmary.
The computer revealed records of some sort of enterprise the monks were into, and made reference to units of production and had inventory counts, but seemed vague about what it was all about. Simon was convinced the evasions were intentional.
We found much the same — both vague journals (“our distributors have arrived”) and carnage on level three. There seemed to be multiple parties that had fought there, and lots of bodies and weapons left behind — none of which boded well. The journals warned of potential dangers of the conflict — noting that the “unrest” was “very disruptive to our herd” that “the fighting is getting worse” and “the last shift never reported back.”
The infirmery at that level was ransacked. Lots of bodies, evidently taken out by a thermal detonator.
We found the office of the Abbot, Kostel Lo. Again, the notes in his computer were vague. There were references to ther temples in their Order, and how the Black Sun used them (or was used) for redistribution of “the product”. More references to “the product” and “the herd.”
We descended further, down a spiraling stair, encountering more bodies evidently caught by a trip wire trap.
Down at the bottom of the stairs, we found a freight elevator back up to the landing platform, as well as barrels of bacta, spoiled. Beyond was the door to the lower level. There we found various locked doors and impromptu welded barriers of debris, none of which made us feel any better. Beyond one such set of barriers (short work made of by the Jedi) and door, we found a (very) small sentry droid. Its memory showed it had been patrolling for about 10 days, and hadn’t seen any humans for five days. It was not triggered to attack by our entry, though. A review of its programming indicated it was there to protect against worms, of the sort we’d fought outside the complex, only much bigger.
From there we found the control room, much the same as what we’d already found save that the bodies were skeletons stripped of all flesh. There were big holes in the floor, too. As Simon put it, “Why are we here, instead of a huge army of people who know what they’re doing?”
Peering through the holes in the control room’s floor, we could see only that the large chamber below was … moving. More worms. Lots more worms. Agitated worms. Dag and Simon got the lights running…
The control room overlooked a vast chamber, filled with the worms. In the center was a large extraction tube, to pick up the … bacta that the worms produced (vomiting it over their eggs).
Looking through the computer records, we discovered that a few of the worms had escaped into the outdoors and subsequent explosions (from two competing factions of the out-of-control Black Sun fighting for control of the base) had ruptured their retaining walls. The worms would reproduce quickly with “robust” food sources — like the native animals beyond. Or, on an inhabited planet, the populace, which is why they were being raised on this un-colonized planet. Electricity, the records indicated, would kill them quickly. The worms were sensitive to psychic emanations, too, which is why the monks had been so well-suited to raising them, using their monastic calm to good purpose.
We made a note of the locations of the three other monastaries in the same Order (who were all apparently working on the “ends justify the means” philosophy, figuring that by keeping the bacta production secret and distributing it via the Black Sun, they were doing the most good while protecting the larger sentient galaxy from it’s own greed, bad luck, and stupidity).
Learning what we’d needed to learn, we prepared to depart, first we securing some cannisters of unspoiled bacta, and using the freight elevator (checknig the shaft for traps first) to bring it up to the top, where we could use a grav skiff to get back to the ship without having to walk over worm-ridden terrain.
It was around then that it occured to us that there had been multiple Black Sun factions fighting, but only one ruined ship. Which meant … the sound of an deorbiting ship we heard was Not A Good Thing. We headed back to our ship quickly, and took off just in time to miss encountering the assault cruiser that was landing.
Back in orbit, we fired up the new hypercom that the Senator had had installed for us. We learned that about eighty percent of the Trade Federation leadership had been assassinated during the talks on Eriadu (killed by their own security droids, of all things). The Nemoidians were now basically in charge of the Traders (since their representative in the Council was the only member who hadn’t been there when the droids had gone berserk — how convenient).
As a result, the Trade Federation had declared a state of emergency and cancelled any talks with the Rim World Consortium. Interstellar trade was creeping to a standstill due to the astrogation bug (which was apparently spreading) — which the Consortium was taking credit for, holding space travel hostage until they got more bacta to distribute to the outlying worlds.
We headed back to Iktochi to provide Bayle with some of the bacta we’d obtained. We figured the bacta would also be a useful trade tool with the government there when we turned ourselves in over the trumped charges of attacking the Rim World Consortium.
By the time we arrived there, though, we’d changed our plans. Nayda, Simon, and the Jedi would head down to the planet with bacta for the Prince, while the rest of us would try to find the Rim World Consortium to negotiate with them regarding the bacta sources we’d found.
You see, one of the canisters we’d picked up didn’t have bacta in it; it contained dormant worms. With that to ‘seed’ a new hive and contact with the monastic Order to train them, the RWC could begin production of their own bacta supply.