The Emperor Protects!

"Broken Chains"
Saint Ulbrexis, saviour of the Harrow

<<<[Awaiting Censure]>>>

...

Vittorious’ bolt round sounds impossibly loud within the confines of Arbites precinct fourteen. It hangs in the air like an exclamation mark upon the page of time.

Assod Morrir. Mutant, arch-heretic, chaos sorcerer, leader of the Broken Chains – stands utterly still. A bright, crimson flower opening across the chest of his saffron robes.

“Were we ever so different Havalir, you and I?”

“Yes, Assod. Unlike you, I have never let the ends justify the means.”

There is sadness in the baron’s voice. Morrir shudders, and falls to his knees on the plasteel grating.

The Warp Zombies are still.

The dying mutant looks up at you all through distant eyes.

“Your master, Eloeholth, cannot run forever. The Query…will have its answer…soon enough! HAIL TSYIAK. LORD OF CROWS!”

With his breath spent, Morrir pitches forwards, and is still – air rattling from his lungs.

There is a moment of utter silence that seems to paralyse each and every one of you – before The Warp Zombies, with one voice, unleash a deafening scream that reverberates throughout the harrow.

And then they too are still, crumpling as one. Puppets without strings.

...

With Morrir dead, the warp zombies ended, and the Broken Chains plans’ in tatters – you have won the battle. But can you yet even see the shape of the war?

Looking out over the sea of carnage, the swathes of corpses that fill the Harrow’s depths, you comprehend just how close Assod Morrir came to unleashing complete devastation upon Sepheris Secundus. And perhaps more besides.

Several days are spent picking up the pieces, burying – and in some cases reburying – the dead. All seventeen Arbitrators that perished in the actions at Hazael’s Cross and within the Op-centre are given a burial with full honours. No such death toll has ever before been recorded upon the snowy world, Proctor Rotlan is stoic and utterly pragmatic throughout.

Messages arrive from Icenholm ,demanding an explanation for what has occurred within the Harrow. On the same day, and without warning, Inquisitor Vaarak arrives ahead of schedule; eager to discover what has taken place.

He listens to your verbal report within the Op-centre’s briefing room, face stern and unreadable. An uneasy silence falls. After what seems an eternity, his scarred face breaks into a broad smile – and he solemnly congratulates you all on your survival and audacious victory. It is clear that, had the Harrow been allowed to suffer the full extent of its grisly fate, not only would the planet’s tithe have been crippled – but the entire sector would have faced terrible consequences as well.

This is truly an heroic moment

Without preamble, Vaarak then orders you to execute Baron Havalir Saerton Ulbrexis; as his ‘service to the Imperium has come to a satisfactory conclusion’. Despite his invaluable help in defeating the terrorists and ending the threat from Morrir – it would seem that he is, ultimately, a condemned man.

As you approach him in his cell, the baron looks up -and smiles at you with all too knowing eyes. “Do what you must, servant of the Emperor – you think that I did not know this day would come? You are so young, all of you, in the ways of your organisation – to the path you all have yet to tread. Come now, do not flinch when the path is hardest. I tender to you no blame. Do what you must: without guilt, without fear. For indeed, my friends, The Emperor will know his own… at the end”

A shot rings out.

Your innocence is dead.

View
"Baron Hopes"
Of Ulbrexis and Morrir...

Report of Arbitrator Belcarius Lex:

Acolytes assigned: Belcarius, Vindex, Vittorius

After the Twilight mission everyone spent some time getting healed up at the Inquisition’s secret moonbase. We were unable to leave for the entire 6 months of downtime which is pretty suspicious but it doesn’t seem to be related to the current mission.

We met with Globus who gave everyone some upgraded equipment and some plot rewards; Vittorius was given official backing to re-establish the noble house Logos. Since medics removed the bottom half of his body after the fight at Strophe’s house we’re hoping they kept it on ice somewhere. Vindex was given the option to have the mind cleansing process partially reversed. He decided not to do so for the time being. Belcarius found out he had a previously unrevealed sister in the Adeptus Sororitas. I sent her my ancestral sabre so now I’m using the one we took off the dead Eldar pirate last session. Fraser informed us that a Psyker would pick up bad vibes from the sword but since we don’t have one at the moment Belcarius is blissfully unaware.

Next we got down to the mission briefing. We are off to the mining planet Sepheris Secundus. 14 years ago an organisation of mutant terrorists called the Broken Chain were put down but they’ve become active again in the last 3 years. The leader, Assod Morrir, who was killed at the time, is back in charge and seemingly immortal. They’ve been using some sort of ‘warp bombs’ and other heretical tech. They’ve got ties to the Serrated Query so who knows what other shit they’re into.

In our corner we have the Baron Ulbrexis, the previous leader of the Broken Chain from before Morrir took over. They started fighting for improved workers rights and supposedly avoided killing anybody. It’s possible that the more altruistic agenda was largely an attempt at a power grab by the Baron, but since coup d’etats are much more imperial than the minimum wage that would be a good thing. Anyway, the Inquisition have had him locked up for 14 years having faked his execution for just such an eventuality. In exchange for his help we are going to insert him back into his former position as heir apparent to the planet’s crown.

It takes us a few weeks to get where we’re going on board the trader Pax Behemoth. Once there we meet up with Proctor Noles Rotlan, the planet’s chief Arbitrator and the man who sent for us. There are about a hundred Arbites on planet and maybe half of them are stationed in this big mine called the Harrows where the BC has been staging their attacks. We also meet Captain Movern, leader of the Scourges. These are the forces of the Queen Lachryma. They are a combination of military and law enforcement and behave like they are waiting for an opportunity to ride down some striking textile workers with cavalry sabres. While Rothan and his crew know we are acolytes everyone else just knows us as anti-terrorism experts from off-world.

Using the computers at the Arbites precinct we identify a spiral pattern to the terrorist attacks and determine a likely next target. The Baron also identifies an old BC safe-house from his time with the organisation that may still be in use. We visit a sort of black market in the slag heaps surrounding the mine. The Baron is able to make contact with one of the leaders of the mutants who live in deep mine workings called the Hard Vaults. Mutants are a sort of accepted minority on this world because they mine areas with toxic chemicals or radiation. They trade ore for other supplies at markets like this one.

The mutant leader, Olion, is against the BC agenda because he fears a crackdown on the mutants. He has a man inside, Morgan, and tells us that the next attack is expected in 3 days. We also learn about Morrir’s inner circle and that he has apparently broken off contact with the Query.

We have been assigned some digs on one of the upper tiers of the mine complex. It is so loud you have to make WP checks to sleep so each of us only got a few hours and are dangerously close to suffering fatigue. We decide to look for the mutant safe-house on day 2. Even if we don’t find anything useful out we might be able to sleep there.

The Baron leads us into the depths via a rickety wooden elevator suspended from a single rope. We then have to climb up a pipe to a landing outside a door with classical music playing on the other side. This causes Vindex to have some sort of acid flashback but he gets over it. When we open the door we see that the room on the other side is built using the same Tardis technology from the Farcosia factory on Ambulon. This causes Vittorius to lose his mind and run away, but the occupants don’t hear anything ‘cause of the music and we just wait for him to snap out of it and come back. We note that Vindex is now just the right amount of insane to auto pass level 1 fear tests but without any all effects.

Inside the room are 8 mutants sitting around with weapons nearby. We storm in and arrest them. They were going for their guns so we are forced to brutally murder everyone. Vindex does most of the work with his swift attacks. Fortunately he just makes a perception check to notice that one of the mutants is Morgan before offing him too. Session ends as we stand among the carnage having taken no damage at all.

...

View
"Shades on Twilight"
The Heart of the Hulk

[DATA EXPUNGED]

...

As the warp ghost of Ishtan Vogel, Acolyte of the inquisition, ejects your saviour pod from the wreck of the Black Ship on a telekinetic bow-wave – all those of you still conscious hear his voice within your minds: “The Emperor Protects…”.

From a safe distance you watch the ultimate destruction of the Twilight by the guns of the Imperial navy, and are all strangely moved by the knowledge that the warp ghosts within it’s holds have, finally, been put to rest.

Your pod is collected by the Magnus Ecthelion a mere four hours afterward. Lady D, Engineseer Molochan and Calculus-Logi Trempan have all have their wounds stabilised by the tireless Brother-Sergeant Agamorr. He has also tended your wounds as best he is able… though he does not believe that Brother Vittorious’ eyes can be saved.

On your arrival, the Luminous Reproach and Liber Daemonica are collected from your care by none other than Interrogator Gideon Zayl. He commends you for your sterling work, and gives his word that your deeds will reach many ears within the conclave. Not least those of you master: Globus Vaarak.

Agamorr parts company with you there, in the hangar bay, along with the surviving members of Soldevan’s team. Agamorr grants you his respect, and leaves with words of friendship. Some would say that the friendship of an Astartes is a gift beyond measure or value.

Whilst in the battlecruiser’s medical facilities Interrogator Zayl debriefs you before allowing you to rest… and the Magos-biologi gather above Vittorious’ cot once more.

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"Return of the Tide"
Cell Reactivation: Code Obsidian. Code Obsidian

<<<[Uplink node engaged]>>>

<<<[Encryption beginning. Standby…]>>>

<<<[Time-locus: 14hrs 28m 42s]>>>

<<<[SECURE UPLINK ENGAGED]>>>

<]I[> INQUISITORIA CONCLAVA CALIXIS <]I[>

Welcome, Acolyte … [Ref: Arbite-Arbitrator Belcarius Lex. <angelae-naraciss>]

[<<<// Ref: Ambulon.K-5947-Omega.The-Serrated-Query>>>]

[<<<warning>>>]

Code: [^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^]

...

[Code-Cipher and data-string, accepted]

...[Accessed]

[Incoming communiqué {Ref: Interrogator First Class Gideon Zayl} [Nephilim Naraciss] for Acolyte Cell <scintilla-upsilon-alpha>. On the day of our Emperor 210.84.999.M41]

[De-crypting…]

[Decryption complete]

“Acolytes. You have done well. Globus is pleased, and proud. Scourge teams have been deployed throughout the sub-sector during the last few months in order to facilitate mission clean-up. The fiends that you have uncovered will not slip away into the night, our beacons are too bright this time.

I hope you have enjoyed your rest. Though I am sure that it will give you great joy to understand that your services are required once again. The encrypted data-packet within this missive contains your brief. Follow its instruction without delay – the current issue does not allow us the luxury of time.

Prepare yourselves. And remain ever-vigilant.

The Emperor protects”

[Transcript Ends]

AVE IMPERATOR!

Goodnight, Acolyte.

<<<[Session Terminated}>>>

<<<[Node Re-crypting…]>>>

<<<[Severing Uplink…]>>>

---O----—-

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"The Faceless One"
Ambulon Showdown, and the room that should not be...

Arrival on Ambulon, posing as jewel merchants – que ridiculously long names of faux european origin.

Meeting the Orcacle Oracular. Listening to him say strange things.

Heading to the only Joyous Choir facility on Ambulon, and staking it out – the house across the street from it is home to a talkative elderly couple. That was amusing.

Theodosia spotted too-ing anf fro-ing from the Choir house.

A heinously complex multi-vectored assault of the church ensues. People fall in off of the roof, some sneak about Vindex tries to duel Theodosia – thinking he was a ‘ranged dude;’. Promptly has his ear sliced off by duel power blades implanted in his opponents forearms. Nice.

Farcical chase ensues, with shots flying All over the show.

Finally, after a prolonged and lethal fire-fight, Theodosia is taken down by combined fire, among the pews in the nave of the church building.

All falls silent.

As the acolytes approach their mortally injured foe… he begins to cackle manically. The rising wine of a plasma-coil over-loading fills the nave, and drowns out Theodosia’s laughter.

As our heroes flee the building, a scream reaches their ears milliseconds before the entire structure is razed in a towering explosion of plasmic energy – “THE FACELESS ONE SHALL RISE!! – “

Blackness.

Minutes later, incident teams and reinforcements arrive on the scene. All Acolytes are revived. The elderly couple make a little tea. For everyone. Even the inquisitorial scourges…

Belcarius bravely leads the group into a secret room discovered beneath the building’s foundation.

Inside is not as it should be. Space-time warps around architecture that no human mind can resolve. Strange symbols from a long lost and forgotten empire skitter and crawl over golden, metallic cladding. Almost all of our heroes feel their grip on reality slip. Forever.

The tardis room turns out to be the main Farcosia production facility on Scintilla, if not the sector – a drug created from the rendered brains, spinal cords and neuro-vascular systems of psychic individuals: it is classified as Hereticus Extremis.

The corpse of the young and beautiful Saia Strophes is found operating as a mono-task servitor within the room that should not be, along with dozens of other missing individuals.

The Farcosia case is closed, and the Joyous Choir purged – But it seems that this is just the tip of the iceberg. For who are the Serrated Query? The question that cuts… And who is this Faceless One? That the killer Theodosia would rather die than speak of. Too much is not known, and a little knowledge, is a very dangerous thing…

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"Digging Too Deep"
The massacre at the Barking Saint

So Gents, to summarise this week’s session:

lots of chasing down leads – uphive, downhive and all-about-the-place-hive, bit of a run-in in the Barking Saint (leaving destruction in your wake as ever), and the introduction of Vanermus (Pronounced ‘Venomous’) the dual handcannon wielding kleptomaniac scummer… joyful. He even patted down the fourteen or so bodies of innocent bystanders slain in the Barking Saint before following the two purer servants of the Imperium after their quarry! What a scoundrel…

And now, arrival on Ambulon, The ever-striding city ,via Laurent Strophes’ Ornithopter…

...and, perhaps, one step closer to the mystery of the ‘Red Sickle’; and it’s sinister tie-ins with the potent – warp-signatured – narcotic: Farcosia!

Oh. And Vittorius tried to use his new ‘metal go-go legs’ to run up a vertical wall in pursuit of a certain villain, shouting “Two can play at that game Theodosia!”. Hilarity. Needless to say, it didn’t work. Belcarius and Vanermas couldn’t stop laughing for 2d10 minutes…

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"Only In Death, Does Duty End"
The road to recovery...

Nineteenth day of our Lord Drusus’ Fall, in the nine-hundred and ninety-eighth year of the Forty-first millennium since man’s ascension to the stars.

Several weeks have passed since the violent and harrowing events in the house of Strophes. None off you have had much rest or emotional respite. As investigation has followed fruitless investigation, and all leads seem to have run void-cold. The pale, blank face of Theodosia still haunts your waking moments, and the implications of recent events dog your footsteps – even in the depths of private sleep.

The remains of your brave companion, the Electro-priest known as Ignis (Ref:10010100011101001011), have been returned to the Mechanicum mechanisti High-Mortuarians of the Lathes system via Omnissian Ark-Ship, along with any personal effects that the group did not wish to cherish (loot). You cannot fail him. You must not dishonour his most-ultimate sacrifice.

The valiant Preacher, Vittorious of noble House Logos, has undergone a fantastic transformation under the vigilant data-probes and dexterous, scalpel-tipped digits of the Magos Biologi of hive Sibellus. His soul has been saved – drawn back from the brink of oblivion, and elevated above the feeble mortality of the flesh. He has been wreathed in TRUE flesh! And ALL shall know that he was reclaimed by the glory of the Machine-God; even the dark, shrouded masters of your self-righteous ‘Inquisition’. Praise be the Omnissiah! Hence… He may not be as you remember him. (This shall be discussed and elaborated upon in-game)

In game terms, four weeks have passed. All those injured (Everyone apart from Gaius and Titus – as Titus was delivering evidence down-hive in person, and Gaius was knocked unconscious via Psyk-out dart; a deduction you have since only made via thorough investigation) will have had that time to recover as much as is possible. The medical attention you have received, and the facilities in which it has been provided, have been of incredible quality – just as Strophes promised.

Please refer to the equipment found after the battle for any swaps or equipment upgrades you wish to perform. Titus (and anyone else who is interested), the body armour worn by the mercenaries who attacked House Strophes is not actually mechanically any better in game (i.e. AP wise) – but may be of superior quality when compared to your Guard issue Flak suit in detail. It’s matt-black, insignia-less, has a full-face tactical combat helmet incorporating good quality micro-bead vox, respirator and photo-visor. Body plating backed onto a flack-weave vest, shoulder guards, greaves, bracers, heavy-duty gloves, flak-reinforced boots, elbow and knee protectors, thigh and upper-arm plates etc. May give advantages in certain situations over the protection currently afforded by all the standard ‘Flak’ pieces you guys currently tote en masse. Also – the Lasguns they were using come with attached Red-dot laser sights and Combat attachments (counting as a spear in close combat). That’s not bad. Ignis’ equipment is also listed there. Any takers? Pete, you wanted a good Las pistol as you cannot currently use SP or Bolt? Take a look at the Steel-burner… Anything not taken specifically by a group member, or sent back to your stores/armoury in the commercia district hab-block will be lost. (sold, traded or given away by Strophes to pay for your medical treatments, utilised by the inquisition for re-distribution/as evidence, or sent with Ignis for interment in the Lathes’ system catacombs.)

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"Ruins Of The Hoble House Strophes"
We can rebuild him, we have the technology...

The aftermath of the battle for House Strophes… Firstly, sorry Gaius didn’t get any kills Gary. I had to have him knocked unconscious pre-fight by a psy-blok dart… It would appear they were hoping to take you alive. (!)

And Pete – Titus was sent down-hive with some Farcosia samples and the bulk encryption data / evidence you lot secured off of Vorlin Orday in the Hustle. he was the only PC trusted with the job. That’s why he wasn’t kicking seven shades outta’ these posers in the Strophes’ mansion. Pfffft it’d been a cake walk with “Trigger” Khan there… (Can we call him “Shakka” Khan from now on? Please?) Though none of the dead appear to have been OBVIOUS mutants…

On the corpses of your many assailants were found a total of (Will, or whoever is keeping track of items, may want to make a note of this) :

- Twenty-three full body suits of customised matt-black flak armour – high grade. A total of seventeen suits are still remotely salvageable. [Counts as Guard Flak Armour] (Bolt rounds mess with this stuff pretty bad)

- Twenty-three Drusus (standard) pattern lasrifles, with attached silencers and under-slung bayonet close-combat attachments. Nineteen are serviceable to some extent [lasguns with silencers that count as spears in close-combat. Primitive, but with Pen 2] (Turns out parrying a Mono-Shock-sword wielded by a baying homicidal maniac also known as a Moritat Reaper can ruin these too…)

- Twenty-three guard issue combat knives [See Combat knife in the Inquisitor’s Handbook – Warzone equipment section. Not bad. Bowie knives.]

- Forty-six MkV (Imperial standard) Basic lasweapon clips [All rechargeable. Standard 60 shot capacity]

- Twenty-three military stlye micro-bead vox headsets.

- Twenty-three sets of military grade Infra-red goggles. Two have been rendered to bits of red-tinged lens by head-shots.

[None of the Mercenaries’ equipment bears any manufacturing marks or forge ID’s of any kind that could be traced to a specific origin point. It has all been meticulously stripped. All of the equipment also appears to be brand-new. Specifically mission bought most likely]

- On the sombre body of your comrade, Ignis, and in his apartment you find: A “Steel Burner” heavy laspistol with red-dot laser sight (Nice) and five charge packs, A standard issue Skitarii lasgun (from the forge-world Hett) and five charge packs, a secondary laspistol with five charge packs, a looted Combat knife, a combat shotgun of unknown provenance and a box of twenty shells, four data slates – choc-a-bloc with various data – a Flak jacket, a glow lamp, good quality Adeptus Mechanicus Elecro-Priest’s robes, a dozen assorted spare machine parts (useful with the tech-use skill), a phial of (rare and expensive) Sacred machine oil, a wrist-chrono, an expensive micro-bead (purchased for him by Vittorious – left on his bedside table before he went downstairs…), a new advanced armoured bodyglove – unworn – purchased from inquisitorial funds, A Coblast Assay cover identity, a personal credit-cypher key opening an account containing four-hundred and seventy-six Imperial Thrones, and – finally – his Inquisitorial Acolyte’s Rosette. ...”We hardly knew him.”

Strophes, though expecting no compensation from your organisation for the wrecking of his home – despite the knowledge that Vaarak would grant it without a moment’s hesitation, believes at least that he can find a lucrative and low-key way of disposing of this veritable mountain of equipment. it won’t even begin to recoup his costs – but every little helps. He, of course, says that first “Take anything that will aid you in your mission to the God-Emperor; but you probably won’t want to have to lug about too much junk.”

Any personal items of Ignis’ – or your own surplus equipment – Strophes is more than happy to hold for you, or send on to a location of your choosing. He can even send it through Inquisition routes (he has IMMENSE postage).

The mission is not yet over. You have yet leads to follow (Ambulon, for example) and so the equipment purchased with inquisitorial funding is still yours to utilise. For the time-being (damn Zero-One rolls on Synskin enquiries…).

After the conflict and before the clear-up – Strophes urgently summons medicae teams to see to your grievous wounds. In the rubble and ruin – Vittorious is found to be alive. Barely. Eighty percent burns, vaporised right arm and left leg, extensive internal injuries, vital organ heat-shock… the list is grave and long, and it is a mercy much of the wounding is cauterised. Mere bionic replacements for his lost limbs may not be enough to sustain him. As it is – only his will to survive holds him to life… and this tenure may not last forever. (22 damage past death dude! From three las impacts!!)

Perhaps… another route is the only viable option. A darker route. A route Robo-Cop would be proud of. The cowled tech-medicae’s, bio-sculptors and Magos Biologi of the mechanicum are gathered in a quiet hospital room to inspect the subject… and to see whether the machine-gods’ aid can be off use to this poor unfortunate warrior of the Emperor…

Will – you may want to see Option 1 of the Cybernetic Resurrection elite advance in the Inquisitor’s handbook. If you really don’t fancy it, something else can be worked out – but it may be messy indeed .

Tom, Mario – both Lex and Vindex are also receiving the best medical treatment money can buy and social standing can provide. You even get gourmet meals instead of the hospital trolley – and the bedside holo-phone is complimentary. Plus the nurses are… well. To die for. Thought hopefully not in a literal sense.

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"Rejoice! For You Are True..."
Enter, the Serrated Query

We had a session before the one laid out in detail below.

In it our heroes:

Travelled from Iocanthos to Scintilla. Made planetfall. Met the members of house Strophes. Attended a soiree where they met the whole cast of noble characters. Witnessed a Spurred stage-kill. Became aware of both the psycho-active drug Farcosia, and some of the operations of the Joyous Choir.

Now…

The Alabaster Court, base of the Joyous Choir.

- The events at the Alabaster Court: Vindex sneaking eleven Hive levels above the action and rappelling down over the stormy ocean in pitch-darkenss for a full game hour; fully kitted out with his Inquisition bought Synskin, Cameleoline cloak, Drop harness and grapnel… Whilst Vittorious and Belcarius hobb-nobbed as best they could with the rarefied group of hive noble elite invited to the Soiree alongside them. Belcarius narrowly avoiding a blood duel with Elsergi Krin – after taking due offence regarding the casual murder of an underhiver ‘actor’ in front of the assembled audience by Elsergi’s hand.

Breaking and entering in the lair of the Devil: Vindex’s silent entry and subsequent room-searching above the throng of guests in the cathedral-like main hall below. Vittorious’ soaring imperial hymnal; utilised both as a distraction for Belcarius’ noisome door-bashing as well as a lesson in morals to the debauched audience there-in. Belcarius’ discovery of Theodosia’s private chambers (The tech-augmented hitman that slew Vorlin Orday in the Hustle and had seemed thwarted by a head shot…), and the team’s sterling work in uncovering a secret, and unopenable, hatch beneath the bed in bedchamber four… Inscribed with xenos circuitry comparable to both Aristarchus’ Emperor’s Tarot deck and the Joyous Choirs’ confiscated harmony meter. Drag marks lead inside. The plot thickens.

The soiree ends with Theodosia arriving. Recognising the Acolyte’s. Hearing they are staying with the Strophes, and taking Caros Shoal into a private chamber for some more in-depth ‘discussions’.

The Acolyte’s make a quick exit – as the Alabaster Court is chock-a-block with well trained security personnel…

- The Night of the Red Sickle’s Revenge – An Attack on House Strophes: The Acolyte’s awake in the night (after an evening of long discussion as to their next move regarding the joyous Choir, Theodosia, and the summation of their evidence) to find the house of Strophes infiltrated and their lives in most immediate danger. Jumped in their beds by black armoured assailants wielding silenced las weapons – Vittorious is badly injured in moments. Belcarius is hit, but retaliates with ‘Lawgiver’ – exploding his attacker in the doorway with a well-placed bolt round. Vindex is also seared by laser bolts but, having slept in his prize new Synskin (for the duration of the mission – or his life – at least, whichever is shorter.) he is better protected than the others, and proceeds to begins his whirling dance of bladed death. In all, twenty three such assailants are faced down by the three man party – along with a little help from the master of the house: Laurent Strophes himself – The aged naval officer resplendent with bionic “Crusha” arm, elegant plasma pistol and crackling refractor field! (Picks up an opponent with his bionic arm, peers at him intently, before quietly pronouncing: “I don’t remember inviting you into my home”... He then crushes the man’s larynx. [And also] “I shall not surrender my home to blood-soaked cowards that come in the night without honour!”) All combatants take at least five kills a piece. Belcarius’ bolt pistols prove particularly effective, and Vindex holds several assailants at bay on one of the two wrought iron staircases that lead to the second floor guest apartments – twirling his blade and dodging thrust bayonets as best he could.

But, all battles come at a price. The house of Strophes is a charnel house. Corpses lay sprawled across three floors and in a dozen rooms. The walls are bullet-bored and, in places, blown to pieces by las-bolts, solid ammunition and the odd bolt pistol shell. Vittorious of House Logus, the Seraphim’s song, lies near death in the splinters of his guest chamber – his body a las-burnt and blackened ruin. Only his faith in the God-Emperor, and the twist of fate kindled by his indomitable will, hold his thread to life… but his right arm and left leg are still irrevocable ashes on the blood-soaked carpet beneath him. Belcarius Lex, respected Arbite-Investigator of mid-hive precinct fourteen, sits slumped against one scorched wall, deep wounds in his arms, chest and legs. He may never regain his previous might. Vindex, the Silent death, Reaper of the Moritat – and Reaver of a hundred souls, is too grievously wounded. Rivulets of crimson drip from a dozens stab wounds to his torso, head and limbs. But now, at least, his sword can sleep easy… The combat was epic. Sleep-shocked, unarmoured, out-gunned, low on ammunition, out manoeuvred and horrendously outnumbered… the Acolyte’s proved themselves true servants of He On Terra. Though, most sadly, one servant of the Emperor made the ultimate sacrifice that night.

Ignis, Initiate of the Divine light of Sollex, Apprentice to the hallowed Mechanicum of the Omnissiah, Lays tranquil in the Stophes’ study; eerily calm below the maelstrom of conflict above. A spent las-clip from his Steel Burner side-arm still smokes lazily in the carpet by his side. He did not have a second. The perforated bodies of three assailants fill the two doorways to his final resting place. He sold his life dearly. Let us hope, when the time comes, that his comrades will do the same.

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"Dancer At The Threshold"
The Crow Father revealed

Kindly provided by Belcarius Lex – as the GM was on holiday.

We broke the back of the attack on Stern Hope last time so we were just clearing up the stragglers at the start of the session. Once the danger was over we were brought to the Cathedral by Koske to witness an argument between Aristarcus and Esha Raine over the fate of one of the captive insurgents. It turns out these guys were members of an Emperor cult and totally maddened. Raine wanted to find out what was going on but Aristarcus summarily executed the guy for heresy. By this point it was fairly clear that our superior was going nuts.

The Ashleen departed in a huff despite our attempts to get more info out of them. I then spent the afternoon trying to get the truck wedged in the gates out of them so we could repair them while Vittorius organised triage. Shortly before the consecration ceremony was due to commence, the Abbot was apparently attacked and wounded by a shadowy female figure. Attempts to investigate the inside of the Cathedral were rebuffed and we were sent to bring Esha Raine in to be tried as a witch. We weren’t too happy about this but given that it was a direct order and we wanted to talk to her anyway we set off in the truck through an unnatural dust storm. On the way I left a data slate with an account of the investigation so far in the drop pod since I didn’t fancy our chances of survival.

At Raine’s stead we were greeted by Koske and six armed dust-dog riders. While we related the strange goings on to them a great flock of Shale crows attacked us in the shape of a giant crow. When our firearms proved ineffective we bundled Raine into the truck with the three surviving Ashleen and made a break for it. Due to the dust storm we couldn’t outrun the crows and they wrecked the truck, but the flock was eventually dispersed with shotguns and blowing up one of the spare cans of petrol. We returned to the stead where Raine showed us an old book with an account of the conquest of Iocanthos. We learned that St. Drussus banished a Daemon (the Crow Father or Dancer at the Threshold to the Ashleen). Turns out that the Cathedral was built on an ancient Indian burial ground / site of demon banishment. Also the eyes are the Crow Fathers weak point. We hoped we would not need to use this information.

Since our truck got wrecked Lex, Vittorius and Gaius had to hitch a ride back to Stern Hope with the 3 Ashleen survivors. It was when we got back and saw bodies in the streets and crazy shadows coalescing over the Cathedral that we remembered we’d left our only anti-Daemon tech an hour’s ride away with Vindex. We swiftly searched the priory and the inn, both of which had seen fighting. In the former we found Lemarque and Severus. We managed to save Lemarque thanks to Gaius but Severus was already deceased. In Aristarchus’ room at the inn we discovered his journal. The Crow Father had been appearing to him as a vision of St. Drusus and claimed he would become a vessel for the saint reborn.

We left Gaius with Lemarque and instructed him that if we weren’t back in 10 minutes to get off world with the rest of the party and order Exterminatus. Lex and Vittorius then entered the Cathedral. Since the Cathedral faces West and the ceremony takes place at Sunset we were framed in a cool hero pose by the doors. I don’t know if that is an intentional part of the scenario but it’s a nice touch. I announced my presence. I think you all know how that goes by now. Vittorius began to chant the liturgy of banishment.

We saw Aristarchus floating over the alter surrounded by his Tarot deck. Seems Abbot Skae was in on it from the start and used the gift of the cards as a vector for Daemonic possession. I was blown away by this revelation since all the clues were right there but I didn’t pick up on it. A swirling vortex of warp energy reached towards him from the ceiling. The entire population of the town was in the surrounding pews.

As we got closer to the alter Skae emerged from the shadows. He was moving like something out of a David Lynch movie and the shadows clung to him. Also when Fraser started doing the voice it became clear he was played by Ian Mcdirmid doing Palpatine. If we’d had this information earlier we would have pegged him as a wrong’un.

He did a villainous monologue (Grim: This was one of the coolest speeches I have EVER cobbled together. Seems like it was well remembered(!)) and battle was joined. Lex failed his willpower test and was dominated by the Crow Father into dropping his gun and stumbling forward. Fortunately he also failed a fear test that stopped him approaching any further. Vittorius went for the eyes with his tricked out Carnadon hand gun, but those things aren’t easy to hit. Lex managed to snap out of his stupor, retrieved his bolt pistol and managed to jam the thing on the first shot. By this point the thing that used to be Skae was on top of me and the rest of the fight consisted of me getting beat on while Vittorius took out both eyes at point blank range with his super gun.

Long story short, we capped the Daemon host, the tarot deck blew up taking our erstwhile commander with it and the roof of the cathedral blew off. There was much rejoicing and with proper medical care Lex should be up and about again in no more than a month. Huzzah!

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