Dark Pursuits

Warband's Third Mission: Rescues and Escapes

If you are reading this then you have acquired and decrypted a dataslate intended for an Inquisitor, the dangers of which, if they are not already apparent to you, are incredibly dire.

What follows is a report entry for an extended Inquisitorial mission on the planet of Desoleum in the Askellon Sector.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable. Source of newest lead located at the scene of a gunfight in a warehouse of Desoleum’s lower hive. Safety of population at risk is an auxilliary concern to the discovery and extraction of technology, as well as the destruction of any further dispersal of the material in question, and cleansing of all associated with it. Investigations direct attention to smuggler caste in the ash wastes.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: High, maintain forged identities

ADDENDUM: Portions of this report are corroborated recounts sourced from others, not recounts by the author themselves.

Report begins at the turning point of the assault on the smuggler base, with only one Acolyte still responsive.

Vel, still positioned overwatching the smuggler camp from the clifftop, recieves no clear microbead responses from either acolyte for a number of minutes, realising the severity of the situation and assessing options and approaches.

Before any action can be taken, the smuggler camp descends into sudden and complete darkness as all lights deactivate simultaneously. Moments pass as Vel’s eyes readjust to the darkness, finally spotting movement of a small group crossing the complex towards the motor pool. Stav is conscious enough to whisper the group’s current heading into his microbead, but Vel is sufficiently able to identify her targets and allies from one another, with Stav being dragged behind and Lox being carried nearby. Opting for minimal risk, Vel attempts to slow the procession by firing at the lead figure. The shot rings true, taking a leg out from under the smuggler, but the shot gives the troupe the clear direction for Vel’s location, and a large stablight is quickly activated and pointed to blind the clifftop once more. Ducking her head for a moment, Vel returns a shot through the light source itself. The last Vel sees of her targets in the darkness suggests a destination in a nearby building.

Her position definitely compromised, Vel improvises a plan, loading the empty Void Suit into the driver’s seat of the nomad vehicle with a lit glowglobe in its lap. Vel hastily pressed the heavy suit onto the vehicle’s accellerate input and leapt from the vehicle. Vel’s hope that the vehicle would fall with enough momentum to roll through the settlement walls was not rewarded. Instead the vehicle remained on all four wheels, now severely damaged, and slowly come to a stop up against the outside of the wall.

When it appeared her attempt at a brightly lit distraction would present no further firing options, Vel decided to descend the cliff wall as soon as possible. Firing her grapnel securely into the rocks nearby, Vel unspooled some line, attached the harness and descended the cliff. To her own great surprise, the descent was successful, with a sudden stop causing a light bruise. Likely the darkness itself obfuscated the fearful height and athleticism of the action.

Climbing swiftly over the vehicle, now a make-shift ladder, Vel dropped inside the compound walls. Still in her cloak, Vel moved with cover towards the back of the large makeshift mess building. Moments after entering the compound, a loud whistle and crackling explosion rang through the air. Following the sound Vel lokked back to see the cliff face she had been positioned upon had erupted from a direct missle hit. Aware of her fortune at avoiding an inevitable death, Vel attempted to follow the smoke trail of the missle but could not determine the exact position of the firer opting instead to continue on her path. Expecting only the prison container holding the tech priest mentioned by her fellow acolytes, Vel instead rounded the corner into 3 equally surprised smugglers posted on guard.

Vel ducked back behind the wall as the three raised their weapons and fired. Firing back her own burst of suppressing fire, Vel then retreated towards the front of the building, moving as quickly as able towards the suspected departure point of her captive allies.

The utility shed did not reveal an entrance to a holding chamber, nor did the large supplies storage building nor the mess, though Vel was able to spot and eliminate a smuggler equipped with a missile launcher on the other side of the compound.

Grasping for leads, Vel determined that the smugglers guarding the Tech Priest may also be guarding something else, or know something else. Attempting to surprise attack from her original position, Vel was again spotted too soon. The resulting firefight would be brief, as the three smugglers would close with Vel to subdue her with shock mauls. Outclassed, Vel would manage to kill one of her opponents before finally being subdued.

Some time later, Stav and Lox would return to consiousness within a cavern. While the cavern was equipped with wall mounted manacles, the acolytes had been stripped of their possessions, an especially dire turn for Stav, whose armour had long since bonded with his skin, replaced by raw tissue and obvious signs of careless surgery.

Not alone, Stav and Lox were briefly interrogated by the smuggler leader. An unfamiliar character, his method of execuction proved far more memorable. The entire encampment, situated within an acid lake, was prone to flooding. As such, the chamber itself half fills with an acid was, highly corrosive to flesh, less to metal and mineral. To demonstrate, a lieutenant used heavy gloves, tongs and a stone cup to scoop some acid from a small pool nearby, splashing it on Lox’s midriff. Her screams were loud, but went unheard beyond the chamber. The leader insited that they would soon be dead, just like their fellow warband member (presumably Vel).

Awaiting their fate, as the smugglers dismissed the acolytes and departed the chamber with their possessions, Stav attempted to play on their paranoia, dropping the name of the landing pad the acolytes suspect is the smugglers’ offworld departure point. Unfortunately the leader is unfazed and Lox and Stav are left alone behind heavy metal doors.

Determined to not ever die in a cage, Stav went through great pains to lift his bodyweight onto his wrists, there swinging and twisting until the rusted and corroded fittings against the chamber wall wrenched off. The simultaneous break made landing easier, and despite dragging chains, Stav was now free to move around.

Assessing their surroundings Stav noticed a small device on Lox’s cybernetic arm, disabling it completely and keeping her from using it to easily escape as well. After brief discussion, Stav took the tongs and used them to pry off the device. Fortunately this did not damage the arm in any way, and Lox quickly used it’s durability and strength to pull her chain from the wall, accidentally hitting Stav with the dangling chain. The other arm would come free soon after, Lox avoiding a fall with Stav’s help.

Turning their attention to their only clear means of escape, the large metal doors would not push open as they did for the smugglers. An attempt to pry the door open, quickly combined with the narrow tip of the tongs, revealed the delicate lock mechanisms within the doors themselves. Using raw strength to keep the door open, Lox delicately collected a cup of acid to pour into the door apparatus. With minimal splashing, the task was completed, and mere seconds later the doors fell open, both Stav and Lox not falling upon themselves or the cup of acid.

Beyond the doors stretched a long corridor of ancient stone brickwork, strung with glowglobes. The hallway met a spiralling staircase at the end, capped with a metal hatch door. Pushing it slightly open, Stav identified the interior of a barracks, clearly evactuated and empty of life. Pushing the hatch open a quick search found no equipment to improvise with and the acolytes were forced to proceed bare.

Returning to prior points of conflict, Stav and Lox each acquired small arms and armour, albeit not their familiar patterns and models. While there was no sign of Vel or the captive Tech Priest, newly dead smugglers suggested further conflict matching Vel’s methods. This included the acquisition of the missile launcher and a raiding of the camp’s heavily stocked armoury.

Noting the camp’s drawbridge still being up, the acolytes erred on the side of caution, quickly and carefully checking the offices and specifically where the imminent acid flood would not reach: the second floor. Within, instead of a lone smuggler left as an outpost they found the smuggler leader’s personal effects, with a second room including sleeping quarters and a large, bolted trunk. Shooting the lock, within Stav and Lox find the effects of the captive Tech adept, including a shock staff and an inferno pistol.

Snatching dataslates and documents for later reading, the acolytes quickly retreat to the motor pool, with Stav pulling around a motorbike as Lox improvises a solution to the unresponsive drawbridge mechanism. The damage causes the drawbridge to drop hard to the ground, breaking from it’s guiding lines and landing bent and unsteady but still crossing the expanse.

Taking off at high speed, the acolytes follow the tracks in the sand that they believe belong to the recently departed smugglers, to reclaim their equipment, continue their mission and avenge their lost ally.

Within a crawler, moving at speed towards Port Gyre, Vel quietly comes to consciousness. Noticing her present company of Smugglers, their leader, and the familiar Zax Holthane, she attempts to keep her awake state unnoticed. Unfortunately , driving off the compressed track, the crawler hits a hard dune, knocking Vel to the floor and involuntarily giving her status away.

Taking the lead, the smuggler leader berates Vel on the ground, insisting on the foolishness of such a small team assaulting a full complex of armed, seasoned criminals. Vel, exhausted, wounded and experiencing flashbacks to times she had been held captive before that fill her with shame and fury, antagonises in return.
Adopting the roles of her allegedly late allies, attempting both untouchably arrogant and intimidatingly overbearing, Vel’s bitter quips see her tied by a length of rope to the back of the crawler. When adrenaline enables her to keep up and chew at her restraints, the vehicle speeds up to outstrip her pace.

Whether she will survive the ordeal is unclear at that time.

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Gir Adamania

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