We descended to the planets surface.
The ride down was bumpy at best and the gravity was soul crushing. 1.3 is significantly over Terran standard and not something I enjoy. It felt like I was wearing hull plates with every step.
However when we breached the entrance and travelled down we discovered some unnerving things. The security detail we took down was deeply unnerved.
The main chamber was round with massive hermaphroditic statue that was blessedly ruined by weapons fire, the features unidentifiable, whilst around the outside of the chamber were 6 alcoves, containing 5 statues between them. One alcove was empty. The statues, seeming to have escaped damage presumably due to their unholy construction, were beautiful and enticing, in a slightly sickening fashion, they looked almost human except for the pointed ears and inhumanly lithe forms and at the foot of each was a bowl. However the main concern was that the majority of the survey team were here along with their gear. All dead from clean precise cuts from some manner of power weapon.
Everybody but the expedition leader was accounted for. Lord Captain Marcone set me to investigate and decypher the murals along the walls, which depicted lavish and hedonistic depravities. The story was simple enough, a fall into depravity and excess lovingly documented. With reference to a ritual performed before the statues, in which one pours out their blood and in return they are granted their fondest desires.
There were also 2 chamber doors, one with a trail of blood leading through it and 2 sets of foot prints.
As I would later discover, one was the Captains and one belonged to the statue.
Our first expedition was a short one, simply following the trail until we got the message about the Captain performing the ritual depicted. He was then assumed dead and Colonel Walker advised us to depart and bomb the site from orbit. Not a bad idea in general.
There was an armoury looted and overturned, but which had in one corner a hidden compartment that had been overlooked. Inside were a pair of weapons protected in a rarified atmosphere. We retrieved them and took them back to the Lord Captain, by the glint in his eyes, a valuable haul. A blade called a Ghost Sword
We all retreated to the ship where Lord Captain Marcone began earnest negotiations with Sub-Commander Bale via the Astropath. The figures I overheard in passing were enough to make my head spin. With increasing rewards depending on how much we are able to uncover.
We made plans to return to the planets surface, I noticed that the security detail were already gossiping about their new Lord Captain. They were a mite uncomfortable with a leader who allowed himself to be moly-coddled by the Colonel. It made him seem weak and the rumours were already spreading fast and thick, hitting the ships morale like a lance battery.
I secluded myself in the Librarium vaults and studied what few records we had on the Eldar and their runes. The only think I could tell with any certainty was that the ruins were old, Horus Heresy old. The runes seemed to be an ancient form of the Eldar language.
When we got down we took a larger security team and briefed them on what to expect, so when their boots hit the dirt, they were considerably better prepared and less unnerved than the first team.
We set-up base in the main chamber, expecting a protracted investigation.
I went with Colonel Walker down the right-hand passage that we had not yet explored.
There was a room with a cage half-submerged in a sea of now-frozen metal that must at one point have been molten. There was something in the cage, and I am glad that its remains are now unidentifiable, merged with the metal of the floor.
We tried experimentally breaching some of the strange airlock doors, with little success. It appeared that we were far from the first to try it. My research suggested and my attempts confirmed that only a touch by an Eldar would open the door, possibly only one specific member of their race like a palm scanner.
Then we retraced our steps, the Lord Captain finally telling the Colonel that he had had enough of her nannying, taking the lead personally for further investigations. It was just as well because beyond several other sealed or broken chambers