The Emperor Protects!

"The Madness of the Wastes"
Battle for Stern Hope

- After a few rather embarrassing failed attempts, the supposedly agile Assassin Vindex reached the top of the scree slope from which the rocky outcrop rose – along with Aristarchus. The remainder of the group, having seen Vindex’s difficulty, decided to remain behind and watch the truck.

- A crude pictograph of a bird of prey clutching a skull in it’s talons is found burned into a large flat table of rock near where the shadowy figure was spotted. The rock is still hot to the touch. Aristarchus seems moved to awe by the discovery, but remains tight-lipped.

- The group head on towards Stern Hope, rising through increasingly craggy hills and rocky slopes – and eventually passing into the great rift valley just after sunset. Stern Hope looms ahead against a crimson sky, it sits upon a hillock – pressed up against one of the valley’s great cliff walls.

- The team are met at the wall gate by a rather gruff Brother Severus – Stern Hope’s Intercessor (a kind of church Enforcer), a veteran ex-guard sniper of the infamous Sythewind regiment – hailing from the deathworld of Mortressa.

- They then meet Brother Lamark – another ex-guardsman – on the way into Stern Hope. He greets them heartily and leads then to the Crying Clota Inn and accommodates them there. Aristarchus is distant, and seemingly exhausted – he cannot take his eyes from the dusk silhouette of the great cathedral on the hill… Lamark insists that that Abbot Orland Skae – the man they have come to meet – will be free in the morning, for this night he stands vigil over the sick bed of a young girl.

- After a failed attempt to socialise with the locals by Vindex, the group sleep.

- Next morning Aristarchus gathers the group – again looking tired – and begins a group discussion, going over and analysing what they have seen so far. They then set off to meet the Abbot at the priory. The meeting goes ahead and Skae appears a tough, honest old man – pleased with the Cathedral’s progress and eager not to let anything get in the way of it’s consecration. He informs the Acolyte’s of the latest goings on, and lends them brother Lamark as a guide – to take them into the hills around Stern Hope, to some of the sights of strange disturbances. He then retires to continue preparations for the ceremony. Aristarchus returns to his room in the Clota, after beseeching the group to investigate in his absence.

- The crew leave Vittorious to sell the ammunition stash purchased aboard the Brazen Sky – and to glean any gossip from the locals in the meantime of course!

- Titus enters dramatically in a military drop-pod. Nice.

- The newly reinforced group then hike up into the hills around Stern Hope – Brother Lamark in the lead. Titus, having been on terra-firma for five minutes, is irked by the ever present and seemingly sinisterly blind Shale-Crows. He takes a shot at one, believing it pulverised. The rest cease to bother the travellers.

- Suddenly, the group is ambushed by a great predatory lizard known as a Hexalid, four times the size of a man. It goes for Gaius – and savages Lex’s legs before it is finally taken to pieces by the groups weight of fire. It is then clear that the thing has been dead for weeks, and its body grossly distorted – It’s eyes have been seemingly torn out by crows; and a strange psychic residue remains around the beast, worse than it’s corporeal stench.

- The group carry on, reaching their destination: a group of bandits at camp dismembered by an unknown adversary. Very little is left (most having been cleared away by Stern Hope scouts days before.)

- The party decide to return to Stern Hope before darkness descends, after briefly considering staking out the hills and waiting for phenomena – as tomorrow is the day of the consecration.

- They reach the Crying Clota, only to find Aristarchus absent, apparently in deep discussion with the abbot and not to be disturbed…

- The party sleeps. The watches are uneventful.

- In the morning Aristarchus does not come down for breakfast, and the party are beginning to become concerned when war horns are sounded around the camp – Warchief Kos’ke and his escort have arrived for the consecration ceremony. crowds line the main thoroughfare, as eight Ashleen – mounted on Dust-Dogs (great bipedal, hound-headed, long-furred and tailed beasts three times the height of a man and well-muscled) Parade East towards the Warriors’ camp. With the six warriors an their lord rides a rather different figure. Swathed in black and purple robes, with a long dark veil – an obviously elderly woman dismounts beside the priory, and motions for Kos’ke to continue on. She is Esha Raine – the Death-Singer: highly regarded folk-healer and respected Ashleen elder.

- Aristarchus joins the group then as the crowds disperse. He has dark rings under his eyes, and looks more haggard and exhausted that ever before. However, his mood is animated and excited – he commands the Acolytes to put on their choicest gear and attend the morning part of the consecration service in his stead. He must rest further, but will attend the evening service.

- The Acolytes do as they are bid, donning dress uniforms, ceremonial garb, and clean clothes respectively. They are greeted at the great, obsidian cathedral’s door by Skae himself and his attendants. He leads them to the front row of pews; a place of honour. Gaius and Vindex hold-back, uneasy and suspect. The building’s interior is even more impressive than it’s darkly glittering exterior façade – the central dome being dominated by a vast mural of Saint Drusus, sword and Aquila in hand – standing astride a shadowy, defeated opponent.

- Kos’ke and Esha Raine are led in by Skae and the Ashleen warlord’s honour guard. Organ music and sung prayers begin the service – and then Skae stands to speak. He speaks rousingly of the long struggle the pilgrims have faced to construct so beautiful a place of worship – and calls this day a day of deliverance and celebration, justly deserved. As he is about to continue, Stern hope’s warning klaxons begin to sound – their shrill wails failing to overcome the chatter of solid munitions and the high zip-crack of las weaponry echoing around the great temple through the open doorway. Skae’s look of surprise quickly hardens, and his gaze finds the acolytes as he states with great final emphasis – “For blood, is the sacrament of the Imperium…”

- Kos’ke storms from the church with his men ready to do battle. Brothers Larmark and Severus swiftly follow, gathering armed pilgrims as they go.

- The acolytes too are swift to respond, making a stand on the cathedral’s steps as a troop truck, crudely augmented with a dozer blade, breaches Stern Hopes steel mesh gate – and yellow garbed zealots are disgorged from within – hacking, slashing and firing wildly. A large fanatic wielding a crude chainsword and pistol leads a group of Voicers towards the cathedral. He is the first to fall to the Emperor’s divine fire. His dozen companions soon follow – mown down as they approach the Acolytes, or cut down in a short, vicious hand-to-hand combat, where their crude cleavers and clubs avail them little.

- A second group of voicers are slain by their own explosive device as they seek to destroy Stern Hopes only generatoria (plunging the settlement back into the dark ages…) – as Titus’ well aimed shot punches through the bomb – detonating it.

- Then, the battle begins in earnest. Fanatical Voicers swarm over the defensive wall – overpowering the few pilgrim defenders. Severus, Lamark, Kos’ke, and his men lead a counter-charge – bolstered by several dozen brave pilgrim-settlers.

- Vittorious (as a NPC) grasps a banner from the priory and, hanging it atop a pole, exhorts the loyal throng into a religious fervour – sending them raining down upon the equally fervent enemy.

- Howls are heard as dust dogs – maddened by the violence around them – break free of the warriors enclose and begin to slay indiscriminately.

- Several groups of Voicers break through the defenders thin line, and begin to hunt and kill the weak nad the innocent among Stern Hope’s sea of tents. Screams rise and are silenced by falling cleavers, as oaths of hated and religious zeal and spat and shouted in the din…

- Vindex leaps into the sea of tents, seeking to defend the innocent. Lex rushes to aid the defenders at the gate, seeking the centre of the scrum at Vittorious’ side. Titus and Gaius – both practitioners of very different offensive techniques – settle down upon the steps and begin to pick and pop targets with their hunting rifles.

- Vindex comes upon a group of three Voicers who have cornered a young Ashleen woman and over a dozen terrified children. Without thought – he attacks, his murderous mono-blade coming down in glittering, crimson arcs. the blade of the righteous spills the blood of the lost.

- Lex, reaching the melee at the gate, begins to force his way forward – drawing men after him as he blasts with his Ironclaw and slashes with his sword. Eventually he links with Vittorious – who, bellowing a rousing soldier’s song leads the phalanx forward over the enemy. Without warning, Vitt is injured in the arm by a flung blade and can no longer hold the banner – Lex gathers the standard from his wounded comrade and, with a tremendous charge, bowls the voicers away from the truck and gate – standing atop the vehicle with inspirational defiance. The Pilgrims of Stern Hope fling back the enemy in response; their fighting wedge cutting through the enemy’s ranks and sundering them decisively. Now separated, and hard pressed by men defending their homes, the Voicers begin to fall.

- Titus and Gaius eliminate all resitance on the walls – both the rigorous battle-acumen of guard marksmanship and the twisting paths of the warp end men’s lives with the punching report of a rifle round. As Voicer riflemen, a flame trooper and a crank cannon crew, struggling to get into position, are all exectued with cold efficiency. Gaius even has time to step forward and turn off the late Voice-leader’s chainsword, as it clatters and tears at the earth.

- The battle for Stern Hope, seems almost won…

View
"Illumination"
Aristarchus the Seer

On the road again.

- Once more on-board the Merchant Navy sprinter known as the Brazen Sky, our companions were once again met by the fawning purser – Sebek. The voyage to the feral world of Iocanthos passed without incident, taking four weeks – in which time the party researched and recuperated, trained and purchased; to arrive at their destination two boltpistols, a blessed mono-sword and three-hundred rounds of ammunition closer to chaos.

- Upon arrival, the party were shipped down (minus Titus and Ignis who remained aboard to run operations and keep an eye out…) the the Imperial bastion of Port Suffering – where, after being accosted by a group of young Ashleen (indigenous locals who make their home in the inhospitable shale-wastes of Iocanthos), they met their contact: Aristarchus the Seer.

- Aristarchus told the party of their mission – To aid the Abbot Orland Skae in his consecration of Iocanthos’ first Imperial Temple, at the small settlement of Stern Hope – a hamlet that had grown up around the temple during it’s construction. The ritual would take place in five days, and must neither be delayed nor prevented. Strange disappearances and warp-spawned incidents had plagued the temple since it’s recent completion. These were to be investigated and resolved – on formal request of the Abbot. Aristarchus would lead the team.

- And so, at dawn the next day, armed with heat-resistant gear and outdoor equipment – the acolytes began the two-day drive to Stern Hope aboard a cross-country flat-bed truck. Vindex, as driver, was overjoyed.

- The first day passed without incident, the barren, battle-blackened Shale-Wastes yielding nothing of interest – nor concern. Only the ever-present Shale-crows were of note – and these eyeless creature seemed always be near from then on…

- However, on third watch of the first night, a humanoid figure approached the camp – stopping just short of the firelight and refusing to answer any hails. On investigating, the figure crumpled to the ground – and was found to be the long-dead corpse of an Ashleen tribesman, that had obviously suffered a violent death weeks earlier. Unfazed, the overly-weary Aristarchus told the acolytes to get some more rest, and to ignore the mind-warping emptiness of the wastes to get any further under their skin…

- On the morning of the second day, another strange happening dogged the party’s journey. As the trackless desert met the rugged foothills before the mountains in which Stern Hope nestled, a shadowy figure appeared on an outcrop not a hundred metres from the road on which the party travelled. With the sun behind it, the figures appearance was not to be discerned; and only moments later it vanished behind the rocks.

- Ordering the truck to halt, Aristarchus prepared to lead the party up into the scree to investigate the fleeting figure further. Using his innate Psyniscience as the group left their vehicle, Gaius felt that the fabric of reality was weakened in this locale – some terrible dead was committed upon the outcrop many aeons before – This known, what will the party find…?

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"The Worm Turns"
At the old sky-mill

The Floating City of Olrankan – Acreage

- After detonating the foul Slaugth “maggot-man” with a well-placed shot to the heart, Titus and Ignis found the xenos toxins in their bloodstream too much to take, and collapsed into unconsciousness.

- This left the rest of the team (Belcarius, Gaius, Vittorious and Vindex) with a Dilemma – Fight, or flight (with or without their comrades!)

- A desperate dragging of bodies became a fighting retreat from the Old Sky Mill, as a dozen Ripper hounds tore down the stairs towards our acolytes. Vittorious made the brave decision to stand by the fallen – the others agreed.

- As the skirmish raged – Vindex surprised and slew a larger Hound in a round, the others blasting away at the group of predatory beasts, stopping several in their tracks. A second, robed, Slaugth then appeared at the top of the rotten stairs and watched with apparent interest.

- As more hounds arrived and the party started to become overwhelmed, Gaius began firing upon the distant Slaugth in abject rage, whilst Lex tore grenades from Titus’ webbing and hurled them – with some accuracy – at the swarming forces opposing them. Then, two more of the vile xenos creatures were spotted descending the outer surface of the mill – coming upon the party from above with horrendous ease – all seemed lost.

- Fortunately, the team of Imperial agents contained a rather singular individual: Vindex – The Moritat Reaper from Hell. Believing the blood running freely down the Mill’s rotten walls to be a divine signal from He On Terra (The blood having been a side-effect of Gaius’ earlier use of a psychic power…) Vindex clove his mono-blade deep into the timber, incandescent with righteous fury – and proceeded to run along the wall, cleaving the very structure of the building with every stride.

- Two rounds later, and – with the help of a grenade and a final groan – the South-Eastern side of the Sky Mill collapsed under it’s own mighty weight – sending the two Slaugth still upon it to a very splatty grave.

- Not content to slay just two of the creatures (impressive considering that the entire party struggled to lay a lone slaugth low last session…), Vindex took it upon himself to engage the third creature mano-y-mano. It shot him point-blank in the chest with a hand-held Ripper ray.

- After these events, the combat was a forgone conclusion – the last Slaugth, lamenting the loss of it’s comrades, made a tactical retreat – the remaining hounds being dispatched as they attempted to flee from the hail of gunfire the party were now supplying.

- Dragging the still unconscious duo, the party headed back to the transient safety of Olrankan-proper, and it’s bastion wall.

- Arriving at the wall – the party saw a beam of green energy strike the Sky Mill’s pinnacle, perhaps the Slaugth had fled by teleport? Meeting a Plume officer on the approach – the party were lead to a Medicae station behind the main wall, where their wounds were treated and they appraised the local authorities of their tussle at the Sky-mill – and it’s consequences.

- After some words were shared between the group and the sturdy Plume officer Lexus, the unconscious comrades seen to, wounds healed, Xenos equipment examined, and a the wish for a gift from Vindex to Vittorious expressed – The party were approached by Mid-Marshall Shelding, chief of Artillery, who promised six cannon to the destruction of the Sky Mill and it’s tainted contents.

- After relieving Officer Lexus of what he saw as his sacred duty to accompany them, the group headed back to the Sky Mill; and – after some scouting – found their presence unopposed.

- After ascending the one-hundred and fifty meters of groaning stairs to the sail deck above, the party found yet more corpses – bloated and festering – sorted into neat clumps and piles, apparently at random. Many were partially consumed. A lengthy search amid the pungent environs revealed a xenos casket – within were a host of maps, warp routes and written materials, all alien in manufacture. Enough to show that the Slaugth presence in the quadrant, let alone on Acreage, was far larger than any could have guessed before.

- Armed with this evidence the party left the Mill, and gave the order for it to be destroyed. After a fusillade of cannon fire, the mighty construction collapsed – the ruinous remains were then immolated with tar and pitch hurled from mighty siege Onagers, so that no taint of the alien would remain on the Emperor’s blessed soil.

- Once back in the city, Vindex made true his intentions and purchased a cavalry sabre for his companion Vittorious; whilst Belcarius and Gaius sought out ways in which to subdue the renaming Slaugth cells on the planet.

- Before any plans could be put into action, a mud-spattered courier delivered a communiqué to the party, requesting they return to the Brazen Sky immediately – as they were being transferred to another location.

- Returning to Emperor’s Island via Olrankan’s docks and the six hour barge trip they’d sailed in on, the group sped to the Port Authority in order to relay their findings to Interrogator Zayl, and request action be taken to combat the Slaugth on Acreage. Whilst transmitting the evidence and scanning the atmosphere for possible Xenos craft – an Astropathic transmission came through from Zayl, congratulating the Acolytes on their progress and accomplishments, and detailing their next assignment.

- As they left the Port Authority to board the atmospheric lighter bound for the Brazen Sky in orbit, Lex took the opportunity to download ship log data from the Authority’s mem-banks – to aid him in the search fro his parents.

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"Maggots In The Meat."
The worm that walks has come for us all!

Sequence of events:

-Evac-ed and debriefed/psychometric tested over the Coscarla incident.

-Given two weeks convalescence. First monthly salary. Group heals up, goes shopping (grenades and guns are the order of the day…)

- Called to Starport, short stratospheric exit flight to the mercantile system-sprinter “Brazen Sky”

- Met by the fawning purser ‘Gleb’ once on-board. Who promises to see to all of your earthly needs.

- 2 week warp hop. Group trains, exercises, and reads up on their destination: The feudal world of Acreage.

- Arrive in orbit. Aquila lander descent to Emperor’s Island (space-port/oil-rig/floating city/imperial presence on Acreage.)

-Fall over. Meet Tiplis (a strangely prophetic name) the guide – who, once intimidated, begins to lead the group through the treacherous flotsam and jetsam of the Bilges to the lower docks; in order to gain safe sea-passage to the besieged coastal city of Olrankan.

- Group have fight picked with them by Krass and his bored mercenary cronies. Krass bottled by one of his own men for 20 thrones from Vittorious. Brilliant. Belcarius tries to arrest the baying mob. Enforcers arrive, arrest Krass (once Lex has flashed his Arbitrator’s Insignia), and leave.

- One stays to lead group to his brother’s ship.

- Team travels safely to Olranken. Vittorious looses lunch spectacularly on deck. Causes fellow passenger to imitate him, all over Vitt’s back. Ignis breaks all pre-determined social boundaries and actually talks to the ship’s captain. In Low Gothic. Crumbs!

- Ship passes thorugh cannon barge blockade unmolested, docks – passengers disperse.

- Group find’s local enforcer officer (known colloquially as a ‘Plume’) and asks about ‘Murdurs strayenge and fowle’

- Plume leads them to a recent scene of carnage, dodging incoming cannon balls en route. Lex surpasses himself with a search test. and – with Titus and Vindex’s help – tracks a group of Xenos predators through the city.

- 1st sets of tracks lead to a warehouse in the fabricator’s district. Group sneaks up. Vindex brutally murders first corpse farmer smeed without warning. Smoot surrenders – is interrogated, and subsequently mugged by party. Then handed over to Plume officer for processing.

- Party ambushed by five large canine/ursine Xenos predators en route to the Sky Mill – location where other tracked were headed. All wounded except Gaius (as usual). Xenos venom takes its toll.

- Party approach and enter two-hundred metre high Sky Mill. Find hundreds of putrefying corpses. Looses minds. Find Slaugth Infiltrator (a “Maggot Man”) chowing down inside mountain of rotting human flesh. Promptly loose grip on reality.

- Remaining ‘sane’ (word to be used sparingly) members of party open fire on foul denizen of the void. To no avail.

- Slaugth rips and tears at puny human flesh-bags – absorbing grenades and bullets like candy (TB 10. Armour 3. Regen 1d5 wounds a round. Ha…and it failed all of it’s dodge tests.)

- Acolyte’s continue withering hail of fire. Chipping it down. Finally, after discovering the magical wonders of accurate hunting rifles, Titus ‘Trigger’ Khan fires he last round of his magazine and strikes the vital control node cortex deep within the gestalt creature’s foul heart. It Explodes horrifically. Showering the remaining party members with corrosive gore. But victory is not long celebrated. Keening screams of rage and sorrow thunder from the sail-deck far above the acolyte’s heads. The sounds of three similar creatures. And more than a dozen of their pets.

The story continues. Next week…

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"The Edge Of Darkness"
<The Coscarla Incident> - Heresy, revealed.

Welcome, Acolyte … [Ref: Arbite-Enforcer Belcarius Lex. Angelae Naraciss]

[<<<//Ref:Sibellus.L-4617-Ups ilon.TheCoscarlaIncident>>>]

WARNING. SEQUESTERED FILES ACCESSED.

Code: [*]

...

[Code-Cipher and data-string, accepted]

...[Accessed]

[<<verbal>>]

[Excerpt as follows…]

“…By the time we’d breached the outer zones and peripheral urban areas of The Southern Coscarla, reports were already coming in that the action was all over. So much for catching the main attraction eh? One of the orderlies in Tech-reconnaissance said that plasma ball lit the hive from sump to gakking spire! What a sight that must’ve be-[Interviewing Explicator coughs gently] ... [Pause] ... [An edge of terrified professionalism enters the subject’s cadence] ...Ah Yes, apologies Interrogator for my tangency, where was I… [Subject clears his throat] We approached the district around mid-morning, three squads of riot ready Executors, tough lads all of them, led by yours truly. We found the arteria gates shut tight at o-nine-thirty, but a couple of Melta charges put paid to them in short order and we breached swiftly. Once inside we headed straight for the enforcer sub-station but, by the throne, that block was totalled. Looked to a couple of the boys who’d seen guard service off-world like anti-tank rocket propelled munitions… but the fire was still so intense we couldn’t tell for sure. Several bodies were recovered after the Op, an apparent mixture of local enforcers and narco-ganger heavies – 14 subjects in all; though by the way they were dispersed, ordered and by what were clearly their mortal woundings – I’d put forward that they didn’t snuff it at each other’s throats. A third party was most definitely involved, almost certainly in separate time-frames, but whether it was your boys? Not a spark on Dusk. We poz-I.D.’d the Warden [District Warden Jonas Locan], but the rest are still being processed. Damn impressive stuff though, to be sure, – whoever the fethers were that did for them. The squads then divided, with Alpha cutting through the market square and angling towards district central, Delta looping West past the railhead and team Omega and myself checking on the Templum and the District’s eastern peripherals. As your team gave no indication of where they were headed last, it seemed the most sensible sweep to start with. But this part was the best – everyone found something, and some found far more than they’d bargained for! Delta were the first to report. They’d spotted an enforcer HRV [Standard pattern Heavy Riot Vehicle] bullet-pocked and on its side under the rail-lines and, upon investigation, decided they’d never seen the remains of such a brutal scrap. Six subjects, all deceased – four of them obviously ab-human; like you’ve NEVER seen – taken apart by small arms fire and close combat weaponry, and then seemingly just left. Well, they weren’t there to gawp and gripe, so Delta logged the lot, torched the corpses, and then moved on towards the district’s Tantalus Combine alms’ house. With Omega I entered the Templum but didn’t find much. One of your operatives [Guard-Conscript Titus Kharn], a real big guy, was K.O. on a cot bed, and we saw to him, but it looked as though Preacher Fayban and an unknown other had fled hours before we got there. A mite suspicious, yes – but who could blame them, bearing in mind what was going down in the district a few hours earlier? Delta chimed in shortly after – they’d reached the Third Worker’s Union; and found a massacre. Just as they’d arrived the building had gone up like a ‘tomic; throne knows what set it off but we all felt it. Outside the main entrance was a charnel house – a lake of drying blood, dotted with limbs, digits, discarded weapons. Someone had tried to tarp it over, but that got blown off in the blast; truth be told it nearly turned my stomach, sir. Again, after the Op – and the holocaust inside the place – we found more stiffs. Or what was left of ‘em. Forty odd, all laid neatly in the basement of the union bar. Even before the fire got down there, it was obvious they’d literally been torn apart. I wouldn’t like to have met whatever they frakked off, but it looks like they got a couple back; Same pseudo-form and vis as the bogeymen that Alpha torched under the rail-head. The plot thickens. By this time there were a few Civs about – but we warned them away and didn’t have to detain any of them. We eventually converged on the only place as yet unchecked – and the source of that earlier plasma-flare: the alm’s house. What a crater. We found your guys then, just moseying around outside – cool as Voidthaw. A couple looked in pretty bad shape and I had the team medicae give them a look over and a little TLC. I’ve seen some things in my time Sir, but I’ve never met a group like them, varied and colourful to be sure. Sacred Feth but they looked like they’d been through the Warp and back. None of them had much to say as things went , even after I’d informed them who we were and that we needed to be debriefed – I understand now that was standard Inquisitorial procedure; my apologies for any offence I may have caused. Only the big arbitrator [Arbite-Enforcer Belcarius Lex] and the booky looking cleric [Brother-Initiate Victorious of the Noble House Logus] chose to spare a few words. The cleric was charming enough, but I didn’t like the look of the other two [Sanctionite Gaius, and Shadesman/Reaper Vindex]. They BOTH gave me the creeps – and I’m not an easy man to un-settle! That gun-hand had the touch of the Warp about him… And the swordsman. Well. I’ve seen more welcoming eyes on a Verdigian Carnosaur. Anyway, as for the alm’s house, that place trumped everything else we’d seen so far. The plasma reactor going crit had vaped the top two floors – but I’m not sure I’d care to repeat what we found in the kitchens on record. Suffice to say – whoever this ‘Churgeon’ that your guys kept going on about was, I’m happy as Angevin that they sent her back to The Eye before we rolled up. Sounds like it all went a little Klybo in there; but, going by the facts, they were playing it down if anything. The Emperor protects us is all I can say. The Emperor protects…”

[Transcript Ends]

<<[Legate Langar and his eighteen men were summarily executed with honours on order of the Divisio Immoralis and Sibellian Commisariat due to operation sensitivity protocols dictated by the Calixian Conclave.]>>

AVE IMPERATOR!

Goodnight, Acolyte.

<<<[Session Terminated}>>>

<<<[Severing Uplink]>>>

---O----—-

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"The Coscarla District"
Lets see how deep the rabbit-hole goes...

Sequence of events:

- Debriefed in the Medicae-bay by Interrogator Gideon Zayl. Trooper Lex heals miraculously utilising fate points. Sanctionite Gaius sent for bio and psychometric testing after his near possession last session… Group meets Conscript Titus “Trigger” Khan (Pete) and Vindex (Mario) who will be tagging along for needed extra muscle.

- Sent to follow the lead (Suspicious death of Hab-prole Saul Arbest downhive in the Coscarla district), and finally meet Medicae-Interrogator Sand in the Commercia district’s Templum Mori (Mortuary). He briefs you, equips you and sends you on your way.

- Trip downhive on the inter-rail to the Coscarla district. Arrive, accost elderly woman, meet Warden Locan, travel to Saul Arbest’s Hab-stack (#7-17) and find his sister Lili cowering in the corner. After a tense, terse discussion with her and the Ex-guard-come-mercenary-next-door-neighbour “Dave” – the situation is diffused by Trooper Belcarius Lex’s impeccable table etiquette and recaf-brewing encouragement skills.

- Endowed with fresh leads and information, the group head back to the Inter-rail as darkness approaches, escorting Lili to the last rail uphive – whilst Conscript Khan slips here a throne or thirty (gaining a Fate Point). They allow Dave to tag-along as a muscular local-information repository. After putting Lili on the train, and watching the night cycle arrive, the Acolytes approach the Enforcer station nearby – knock – enter – are ambushed – and promptly slaughter 9/10 of the corrupt ‘enforcers’ within in several rounds of utterly terrifying brutality… Khan with Frag grenades, Vindex with a sword, Lex with his shotgun. Sweet. God. Emperor. The last enforcer fails a shock test (by seven degrees) and spends the next few minutes screaming and vomiting uncontrollably. Precinct searched – Hard-line Vox identified/logged, Cogitator memory-coils scanned, current data and investigation progress sent encrypted uphive, Warden Locan found (apparent suicide), Bodies searched/looted (Logician insignia discovered), Survivor interrogated (coldly executed…), Khan finds a new-ride… Arteria exit gate control rigged to the new wheels. The Team gear-up and jump into Conscript khan’s freshly confiscated HRV (Heavy Riot Vehicle) – Heading for the Alm’s house! Following the vox-leads and transmissions identified by Technographer Ignis. The plot, thickens…

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"Over The Edge, And Into Darkness..."
Our adventure begins. For the Emperor!

Dramatis Personae

The Players: Trooper Belcarius Lex, Sector-D Mid-Hive Sibellian Arbites (Tom’s Schola Progenium Arbitrator), Novice-Brother Vittorious of the Noble House Logus (Will’s Noble Born Cleric), Sanctionite Gaius (Gary’s Mind-Cleansed Sanctioned Psyker) and B_rother-Technographer Ignis_ (Steve’s Forge World Tech-Priest).

Salient NPCs: Interrogator Fabian (Agent of the Inquisition and Member of the Angelae Naraciss). ‘Vimes’ (Redemptor-Initiate Vimes).

Um. I think you shot everyone else…

Ahem.

_Our tale begins within the black ousilite and obsidian halls of the Bastion Serpentis, upon Lachenisis – a barren, lifeless void moon in orbit about Scintilla, sector capitol and beating heart of the Calixis Sector, located in the galactic North-West – and sequestered between the neighbouring Iaxianiad and Scarus sectors.. and the fathomless void between the Halo stars. The Bastion is a fable, a falsehood, an un-place. It is a location of which there is no tangible – or official – imperial record. But it is there, none-the-less. It is the central operations hub and high-command of the ordo Calixis. The coven of Inquisitors tasked with the safe-keeping of the whole of the Calixis Sub-sector of Imperial space, it’s first, last and sometimes only line of defence.

It is a dark place.

Within its endless hallways and echoing corridors agents of the inquisition are indoctrinated, trained, tested and ultimately forged into living weapons of the Emperor’s will made manifest…

After successfully completing their eight weeks of inquisitorial basic training upon Lachenisis, and whilst officially swearing their oaths of moment before Interrogator Fabian and being given their Acolyte’s holo-rosettes, Our protagonists met, face-to-face, for the first time. Being given little opportunity to converse or explore, they were briefed for redeployment to Hive Sibellus, planetary capitol and seat of Lord-Sector Marius Hax, on the pearly planet below.

On arrival, following a stealthy shuttle insertion, the group found themselves mid-hive, equipped with a data-slate issuing them with simple instructions leading to a rendezvous with the agent to whom they had been re-assigned; Medicae-interrogator Sand. After a somewhat uneventful, if revealing, journey to the designated hab-block – and after discovering the subterranean complex’s concealed entrance (and overcoming their well-honed paranoia). The party descended, only to find their contact to be none-other than the rather smugly-smiling Interrogator Fabian.

Apologising for Medicae Sand’s required absence, and his sudden appearance, Interrogator Fabian proceeded to de-brief the party on a selection of incredibly boring subjects – just to pass the time. Before any character could succumb to his droning wiles – faint, yet alarming, sounds were heard from the corridor beyond. High-powered las-weapon discharge. In moments it became clear that whatever underground complex they were in, was under attack. In the short minutes that followed this realisation, the two Inquisitorial Stormtroopers posted outside of the inner-complex’s blast doors were mutely (and messily) over-powered – a melta-weapon began to eat away at the metre thick metal-doors, and subsequently a Melta charge was placed and detonated to expedite their opening. These facts, being barely grasped by the acolytes within the complex, Belcarius Lex was far too close to the ensuing explosion, being suddenly and seriously injured in a bright actinic flare of plasmic, molten metal. As the crete-dust settled, several canisters of a strange, blue-tinged smoke were lobbed from the darkness into the ruined corridor – their contents proving to be a potent knock-out gas, which instantly overpowered poor Gaius, and within moments Brother Ignis – despite his tech-blessed respirator. In contrast, Brother Vittorious was not only swift but also well equipped, and, donning his re-breather mask, he set to administering to his fallen comrades as best he could – and preparing for the worst.

Meanwhile, further down the corridor, Lex found he had in fact survived the horrendous blast and, pulling himself groggily to his feet, he sought to escape the spreading gas. When, Looming suddenly from the wisping smoke before him, a figure clad in an armoured syn-suit and dark-visored mask lunged at Lex with a shock maul. But our brave Lex would not go down with a fight. Struggling valiantly until the noxious smoke o’ercame him, Trooper Belcarious – despite his wounds – landed a blow upon his opponent with his family’s ancestral blade, in exchange for not a scratch. Brother Vittorious fared little better. Screaming a muffled prayer to the Throne-Lord as more shadows approached him through the smoke, he emptied his sidearm’s magazine at the central target – and struck him! – before two brutes closed with him, and tore the protective re-breather mask from his face; and, as with the others, the void rushed up to meet him.

...Darkness. Black-masked men. Voices. Cold Steel. Silence. Then the klaxons blared…

Waking groggily to find themselves imprisoned within three-walled brushed steel cells, Vittorious and Ignis become dully aware that the pulsing in their ears is not solely the after-effects of whatever blacked them out. Active emergency klaxons are screaming out a warning. Suddenly, following a distant, rumbling explosion, all power is lost – red-lighting kicks in – and their cell bars slide smoothly into the ground before them. Their comrade, the slightly singed Belcarius Lex, lays unconscious in the cell opposite their own. But Gaius, the psyker, is nowhere to be found. Inviting their rather distrustful fellow prisoner ‘Vimes’ along for the ride, these acolytes of the Emperor’s inquisition – dressed only in plain grey overalls , and with nothing useful to their name – prepare to assault the unknown … Perhaps they should look for an exit? _ Now, a summary of the events following the above – by Brother Vittorious

_Ignis and I awoke in cells, also occupied by Belcarius, who was semi-comatose and remained so for the remainder of our escape. Shortly alarms and klaxons sounded and the power was cut, opening the cells. We escaped and found another prisoner (Vimes I think his name was) who was unhelpful and uncommunicative; we allowed him to tag along. We then subdued two guards in the cell area (killing one) and acquired various batons and shotguns. We then found and released Gaius, who was being sedated (it took him some minutes to recover), whilst being aware that the entire complex (wherever it was) was being assaulted by some forces unknown. We continued exploring, carrying Belcarius on the medical gurney that Gaius was found on, until we came across a cell (which we’d previously seen on the video monitors) where Fabius (the Interrogator) was being tortured. We surprised and slew the torturer (nice shooting by Gaius) but were too late to save Fabius; he whispered a cryptic word to us before expiring.

We then continued to explore, finding the armoury sometime later, which had been emptied of heavy weaponry, but had some light weapons and armour remaining. We killed four guards who arrived just after us, presumably to arm themselves.

The rest of the complex showed signs of heavy weapons fire and fighting, but we eventually found an office of incongruous design which contained our confiscated equipment and badges, though nothing else of interest, before coming across an ongoing fire-fight between factions supporting the emperor (Redemptionists we believe) and Logician cultists. Here Vimes revealed himself to be with the former. We aided the Redemptors, and prevailed in the ensuing firefight, though not entirely successfully, as two cultists escaped deeper into the complex through a heavily reinforced hatch. But not before setting a self-destruct charge. We legged it, fleeing to the exit we’d found previously. The Redemptors did rather badly keeping up and fell behind, and Gaius and I both began to tire, running the gurney into the end of the corridor (the gurney by this stage was filled with an arsenal, topped by Belcarius and Ignis, who had succumbed to fatigue whilst trying to hack a trapped electronic lock); we managed to recover and turned the corner, to be engulfed by the firestorm from the explosion behind us…

We awoke in hospital, lightly wounded, and learned that the Redemptionist cult had apparently learned the location of the underground complex and assaulted it. We found evidence of some sort of heretical genetic/mutatgen experiments that had been successful and were about to be expanded to include a larger number of test subjects. We now have about two days (we spent the first in hospital) to have a chance of attacking the next base, whose occupants may not be aware of how much we now know. Belcarius has the problem that he is severely wounded, and will probably not be able to go on the next mission unless it is as walking-wounded. We shall see.

Brother Vittorious, of noble house Logos._

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