The Emperor Protects!

"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…

View
"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…

View
"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.)

View
"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.

View
"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.

View
"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!

View
"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…?

View
"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.

View
"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…

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.