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.