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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Warband's Third Mission: Ingress

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

Report begins after the departure of the mounted Missionaries from the nomad ambush site.

With D’Layne unwilling to part from his prized vehicle and the days of repairwork it required, the warband gathered their resources, steeled their resolve and proceeded on in the nomad raider truck, this time with no guide and no experienced driver.

Fortunately, keen intuition and patience would see the acolytes through the acid pitted landscape in roughly the right direction, coming upon the smuggler camp on the horizon by nightfall. Well lit and bustling, the sentry towers and huge stablights did not notice the warband’s approach, giving them time to assess the landscape. Positioned on an island surrounded by a noxious acid lake, the settlement seemed untenable regardless of its high walls.

Before Vel could finish proposing buddy travel through the lake in their new void suit, Stav noticed that the lake continued into the distance on the left, but came to a shore much closer on the right, and a quick circumnavigation of the lakeside plotted steady incline of land wrapping around to the back of the camp, revealing its true nature as a peninsula rather than an island.

The slope would rise to a rocky peak before sheerly dropping to the level of the smuggler camp below, itself not very high above the lake’s resting height. From the raised position, the acolytes were afforded an informative view into the enwrapped compound, roughly identifying buildings (including barracks, offices, motor pool and bizzare bone piles and small ruins), and patrolling guards.

A brief but careful overview of the site revealed some of the guard numbers and patrolling patterns, forming the basis of the impending incursion. Vel would remain on the clifftop, using the position and her talent for sniping to provide cover, overview recon and target elimination, as well as the operation of Stav and Lox’s means of ingress. This means would be a roughly applied use of rope and vehicle winch to improvise a descending rope that would require no climbing skill and minimise both risk of falling and noise creation.

The descent would prove successful, with both Stav and Lox reaching the lightly guarded walls on the cliff-side of the compound and opting to climb quietly over the most convenient scrap assembly, rather than loudly break through. Meanwhile Vel would act quickly to eliminate nearby guards patrolling outside the walls, going remarkably unnoticed.

As Stav and Lox moved through the compound they explored the suspicious tents and ruins, eliminating two apparent cultists and securing another black stone artefact. While proceeding, Vel would eliminate guards on the walls to varying success, some of the dead landing inside and outside the camp. Moving to secure and hide a fallen guard, Stav and Lox would discover improvised cells and one captive tech priest.

Clearly in need of maintenance, the tech priest could provide little intel without some hope of freedom, but attempts to release him would require force, and Stav’s attempts would be heard, raising the alert of the compound and flooding it with light. Two more cultists and roughly eight smugglers would emerge from buildings within the compound to fall upon Stav and Lox.

Vel, relaying information on the moving threat, split her attention with selectively targeting threats to the other two acolytes. This would see Vel pinned down under wild heavy stubber suppression from the wall. Meanwhile Stav and Lox would exchange but a single volley before falling into close combat with almost all the opposing forces.

The melee and gunfights would last minutes before the acolytes would emerge victorious: Lox narrowly avoiding grievous wounding as per tradition, Stav and Vel each largely untouched. The tech priest, now freed, refused to exit the cell until the compound is absolutely secured, relaying observations from a three month imprisonment, including the frequent movement of indeterminate resources from the compound, and the begrudging cooperation between the smugglers (of the trade sable) and “the inheritors” (likely the cult encountered thus far). A large contingent had departed the camp roughly an hour before the acolytes had made their incursion, explaining the lighter resistance. The tech priests own count of smuggler and cultist forces were inconsistent with the 15 dead by the warband’s hand.

Concerned that their work was not yet complete and that the offices may hold long range communication vox suitable for calling reinforcements, Lox moved quickly to enter the building, running defiantly through gunfire from the barracks buildings to do so.

This reckless disregard for her own safety, her serious wounds, or another unforseen factor, would leave her microbead unresponsive upon entering the office building. Informed by Lox’s actions, Stav would quickly move to the motor pool, dodging fire himself to enter the drivers’ seat and plough the vehicle directly into the front of the barracks from which the fire came from, crumpling the entry for any retaliation.

Satisfied with his response, Stav would move carefully to the office building, still experiencing some gunfire, before rolling inside. Expecting danger, Stav’s dramatic entry would save him from a surprise shock maul attack, before entering the combat proper. Despite valiant efforts and actually managing to wound his opponent, Stav’s microbead too would fall silent.

Vel, perched above with no view on her enemies or allies, remains as the only chance, confronted with the dreadful decision on how to proceed.

No notes are attached to the report. Only the rocks are witness to the profanities whispered on the clifftop.

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Warband's Third Mission: Wasting Away

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

Report begins hours into the journey through the ash wastes:

Despite the assistance of two seasoned natives of the ash wastes, the acolytes are sorely underprepared for the inhospitable conditions of the landscape. Each of the acolytes in turn slip into fits of unconsciousness from exhaustion in the harsh conditions. Fortunately the first 10 hours beyond the Imperial Guard forces prove to be much less eventful, and D’layne announces the need to make camp for the night.

During the night, Vel as first watch is unable to stay awake, and within a few hours Vel and Stav are awoken by the talkative Lano who is scrambling to a hiding spot underneath the Sand Lynx. Lano warns of the approach of a “Kraytex”, though Vel and Stav each struggle to spot the foe in their dazed state. Thrown glowglobes and blind gunfire led to Vel and Stav each cautiously climbing atop the Sand Lynx. Attempts to spot the Kraytex are fruitless until it follows the acolytes up the side of the vehicle and mauls Stav’s leg deeply. A response with his greatsword followed by Vel’s rifle sees the end of the surprisingly diminuitive creature.
Lox sleeps through the entire event and is put on watch while Vel tends Stav’s wound and they return to sleep.

The acolytes are awoken to find the camp already packed away and D’Layne and Lano both ready to depart. The journey continues as harsh and unbearable as before, with the approach of a glass storm proving the only major obstacle for many hours. Vel’s attempts to seal the vehicle from the elements and insistance by the acolytes that D’Layne bring the vehicle to a halt prove to save the procession from disaster.

Further in the journey the warband cross paths with a waste-wandering trader by the name of Hashian Trells, to whom Vel is able to trade her spare weapons for a stub automatic of unique design and a void suit, much to the confusion of her fellow acolytes.

The warband is making good time when, despite delirium from the heat, the acolytes notice Lano directing D’Layne off of their expected path to the nearing smuggler camp. Before a query about this change of course can be answered, the Sand Lynx is violently collided with and tipped over.

The acolytes survive the impact largely unscathed and carefully exit through the top hatch where the area appears clear. Behind the tipped Sand Lynx, a nomad raider vehicle, remarkably unaffected by the crash, opens on either side as approximately ten nomads exit the vehicle. Exhausted but weapons ready, the acolytes wait as Lox pursues a diplomatic approach.

The Nomad leader is not so reasonable and despite the ousted traitor Lano’s pleads for the acolytes’ surrender, another gun battle ensues.

As Vel faces a brutal physical charge and 4 armed foes (less one from a quick starting shot), Lox applies her hand flamer to great effect, lighting many of her foes aflame. Followed by Stav’s heavy weapon fire, the opponents’ shaman and strongest warrior each are dispatched before they can even act. As the nomad leader and his fellows fall upon Stav, he is ready, weapon drawn.

Vel, knocked to the ash below, desperately fires a semi-automatic burst, scattering her opponents to cover and buying her time. Lox falls in with Stav, fighting off the survivors of her first burst of flame. Wounds are taken from the nomads’ lethal close-combat weaponry.

Vel is able to push through her fatigue and pursue her opponents, firing a jet of flame from her own Exterminator mod, rendering it useless, but keeping the pressure on the warband’s foes.

The tides begin to turn slowly in the favour of the acolytes as more nomads are killed and within minutes the battle is won, including the warranted death of Lano.

Before the warband can even collect themselves, they are approached by a small group of missionaries, mounted on glass steeds native to the Desoleum landscape. The leader of the missionaries, G’Harn, makes their peaceful intentions known, describing his concern at the warband’s imminent ambush and his surprise at the effective response to the threat.

G’Harn and his missionaries are the most recent of many attempts to bring Imperial Creed to the lawless wastes, a victory necklace made from the symbols of his predecessors returned to him from the corpse of the Nomad leader. The banf had been responding aggressively to all efforts by the ecclesiarchy, and death was inevitable for their kind.

While G’Harn described the acid lakes that would be found ahead before the smuggler camp, the acolytes idly scrounged the fallen for other valuable claims. These included a hand cannon of xenos origin and another more familiar pattern weapon of the same type, hidden away before the missionaries could claim heresy. While the missionaries had no interest in the blasphemous artefacts of their foes, or to eke out any retribution on the fallen, they happily obliged the task of uprighting the Sand Lynx before departing.

D’layne would reveal that he would need three days to repair his vehicle sufficiently.
The acolytes would have to proceed on foot.

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NO SUBJECT

Looking back over your previous log entries, you notice something strange. A message you don’t recall ever seeing, yet marked as read. It contains no date or sender tags, and is heavily corrupted. It reads as follows:

+++++++++ENCRYPTION FAILED+++++++++
=][=
Received by $#^%^#$)^
+++++++++0000000.M00+++++++++
READ:
They have made it far further than I ever expected. They should have been long dead and forgotten, yet it seems the Emperor truly watches over them. The Emperor or something more sinister anyway. As discussed, they should be [DATA MISSING]

[MESSAGE CORRUPT]

If they are not destroyed, there could be an issue. Tread very carefully, Jocasta has taken a personal interest in the investigation, she is reading and examining all logs. I’m not certain if she has had direct contact with #$%Q#$%^&%* #%&$#%& #$%#$^&% $^&%^ !^&$%#%#$^ #$^$&%

+++++++++
++++++++
+++++++
=][=
+++++++
++++++++
+++++++++

Do not take this warning lightly, they are far more deadly than I have ever seen before, or could have imagined. Please distribute the following call codes and redundancies:

There are several pages of corrupted data

Emperor protect
Wolfe
+++++++++MESSAGE END+++++++++

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Warband's Third Mission: Smuggler Ambushes

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.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: High, maintain forged identities

Report begins after the encounter with Krum during the tracking of the gunbattle survivor:

Beyond the encounter with Krum, the trail led through ever quieter parts of the hive, ones more strewn with piles of detritus than bodies and human waste. Entering a clearing, it was Lox’s instincts alone that were piqued before the ambush occured.

From behind three separate stacks of machinery and trash, two las weapons fired upon the acolytes while another loudly jammed. Not caught flat footed, Lox stepped towards the target closest to her and fired her hand flamer, attempting to flush her opponent from his cover. Unfortunately to no avail.

Two of the three shooters continued their attack, doing negligible damage to Vel but serious retaliation to Lox. Stav, finally able to identify a target, charged towards his prey, doing significant damage in a single swing. Lox, livid from her injury, entered close quarters with her opponent, chain axe drawn. Vel, noting the source of her own aggressor, had calmly unhooked her sniper rifle from her backpack and readied it.

Stav, unabashed before the ineffectual butt of his opponent’s gun, cleaved the man to the floor. Lox, receiving grievous injury from her target, defied death itself and contined the exchange. Vel, calm and readied, fired two shots, quickly downing her opponent.

Stav, impeded by the surrounding rubble, struggled to join Lox in battle, but did so in time to save her from a coup des grace.

Barely moments beyond the battle, the warband is approached by an armed group led by a familiar face. Vornus Crimson, leader of the Red Walk, reveals he has been following this intrigue from the opposite direction: interrogating smugglers to identify the cult that was ambushed. Their interests aligned, Crimson shares that the information he gleaned gave leads to a smuggler stronghold in the wastes, but noted that the information came suspiciously easily. With the Red Walk pursuing the cultists, the acolytes were clear to pursue the trade sable and all persons and artefacts connected upon Desoleum.

With a clearer heading, the warband soon reach a freight lift to desoleum’s main surface level. But they are not the first to arrive. 50 metres ahead, at the control panel for the lift, five unknown figures are visible. Clearly impatient about waiting 15 minutes for servitors to complete routine maintenance rituals, the warband identifies that at least one of the number is injured while another is carrying a boltpistol and is dressed to a station above his peers.

Adopting their best roles, Vel dons her chameleoline cloak and stalks into a dark and covered position to watch over the scene, Stav maintains an air of quiet combat-readiness as any good bodyguard should, and Lox obscures her patched wounds and become a dutiful Adepta Sororitas missionary.

Approaching the five smugglers, Lox and Stav are addressed first, strongly suggested to move along, lest her training be used to heal his injured ally. The leader’s tone affronts Lox’s sensibilities, and benevolence quickly twists to subtle threats.

As the diplomacy slowly fails, Vel is possibly spotted in her position, and Lox gives the signal to put down one of their number. At precisely the same moment, Vel places an expander round within the head of one of the smugglers, as the smuggler leader drops a grenade upon the acolytes and clambers up to the lift above with three of his followers, using the lift’s own cogitator interface to prompt the lift to ascend.

The grenade proves to be strongly hallucinogenic, penetrating through Lox’s filtration plugs to produce visions of vicious dessicating insects in throngs around her. Stav, unaffected, assesses the lift mechanism for a way to stop the lift’s crawling climb, but is unable to do so, or to follow his opponents the same way they did.

Vel, whose distance affords better targeting, eliminates another of the smugglers as he attempts to further manipulate the lift. The survivors dive for cover and another hallucinogen grenade rolls over the edge and upon the acolytes. Lox shakes off the effects just as Stav is beset by them, and she quickly tries the lift recall button from below. It works.

To pinned to reverse the descent, two of the smugglers leap off of the lift, swinging shock mauls, but are swiftly dispatched by Lox and Stav in turn. Finally, the leader descends, firing explosive bolts at Stav to great effect. But the leader is brought low by a final shot from Vel.

Upon the bodies, the warband scrounge jewelry and a scrap of paper with planetary surface coordinates. With little else the warband ascended to the surface level.

Here, the acolytes use their recently claimed valuables to bribe their way outside, before searching for suitable transportation from the shanty town surrounding the gateway.

The warband’s search and inquiries lead to a short, mad character named D’Layne who drives a large, black and yellow striped vehicle known as the Sand Lynx. Able to offer his services, the acolytes are informed that travel to the coordinates requires a map maker, and thus Layno is recruited as well.

The warband begins their 2 day journey into the inhospitable wastes, and within an hour are assaulted by Imperial Guard artillery practising live fire exercises. The acolytes are able to use their titles to gain the necessary reprieve to cross the area, but are given more warning fire before their journey can reach its next leg.

Vel’s notes are shakily chalked on a thin piece of metal plate:
- Not Holthane :(
- Surprise attacks :(
- I yield to the heat :(

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Warband's Third Mission: Hand of the Sable
Second Extension Days 1 and 2

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.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: High, maintain forged identities

Report begins after the banishment of a grotesque daemonic being and its cultist followers, in the deepest pits of the underhive:

The dissolution of their filthy scion, as well as the bloodthirst of the warband’s own forces, saw quickly to the conclusion of The Blessed Flesh cult. The fate of their temple, however, was unclear. After deliberation, and no small amount of preaching by Lox, the Warband claimed the black cubic artefact before scorching the ritual site itself.

The remaining warriors of Gantry busied themselves with ransacking the temple for its worth, while the warband searched for value of a more purposeful nature. Ferrue Fayne’s bifurcated corpse carried documents pertaining to dealings with the trade sable beyond his own, documents suggesting the Blessed Flesh was a splinter group and a pict of three men. Scrutiny and some assumption suggested these men were the brothers Fayne before apparent corruption. Darnis, likely the youngest, differed little from his grinning corpse, while Ferrue had bloated and twisted grotesquely from his once lithe form. The last, and likely oldest, was Tormus, whom the warband recalled seeing as a clean, unassuming patron of the Sanctionary Gallows.

Hoping the events that befell Gantry had kept the older Fayne brother within its swaying streets, the Warband cut their search short as to board the barge for its return journey sooner. Fortunately the return trip would be much less eventful than the first.

Returning to Gantry, the warband found no sign of Tormus at the Sanctionary Gallows, and inquiries suggested he departed the lawless sprawl before the fog rolled in. Where he went from there is currently unknown but is not restricted to Desoleum. Instead of justice the warband returned to Vornus Crimson to both corroborate the identification of Tormus Fayne and show his gratitude through an evening of debauchery. While Lox and Vel comported themselves admirably, Stav fared poorly by the following day.

Departing Gantry for a more welcoming environment and to debrief Acolyte Davrus Wolfe, the warband travelled more hours through the trackless labyrinth to the Purity Gates, encountering no risen dead, perhaps suggesting their complete de-animation. Greeted at the purity gates by Oath Captain Kaytian Nils, the warband felt satisfied with Nils’ loyalty to preface their retelling of the events at and below Gantry by privately revealing their true titles as Acolytes of the Inquisition. Apparently impressed, Nils agreed to keep their station a secret, maintain their forged identities and facilitate any communication between the warband and the relevant channels.

Returning to the Apex of Desoleum, the warband made efforts to recouperate, requisition supplies and send the appropriate debrief to Wolfe. Their next mission would again be delivered by Nils, directing the acolytes to a bloody crime scene in an underhive warehouse, at which another black artefact shard was found.

Studying the scene and the investigative picts, Vel utilised some passing knowledge of detection to retell the events as the evidence portrayed them. 2 downhivers and 3 lightly armoured guards were ambushed by 4 robed assailants similar to the Blessed Flesh members. 9 blood stains suggested all were wounded fatally in the conflict, though a tenth participant may have survived injuries to escape with an artefact. Following blood trails to track the survivor became increasingly difficult due to wet conditions and poor guidance, ultimately being abandoned.

Physical evidence from the scene, including bodies and equipment, had been taken to the nearest mortuarium for autopsy. Once there, the warband scour the evidence for actionable leads. Vel identifies currency from the shrine world of Thor, Lox checks the voxes for comcodes and Stav finds sand on the boots of the armoured guards that matches samples found at the scene.

As the mortuarius-chirurgeon on duty begins the first autopsy on a presumed cultist, the corpse rises and attacks, proving to be a fast, tough and formidable foe. Experienced with reanimated bodies the warband successfully downs the abomination, and while Stav beheads the remaining corpses as a precaution, Vel takes to the task of autopsy in the chirurgeon’s stead. Little is revealed beyond the inconsistent colour and calcification of the cultists’ flesh and cause of death being precisely fired, low calibre bolt shots, likely from a bolt pistol. Upon reflection the warband recalls no bolt damage at the crime scene and that Zax Holthane was both equipped with such a weapon and had a reputation for extreme accuracy and skill.

Before the conclusion of their investigation at the mortuarium, a vox crackles with interference and a voice stating “Being followed, heading for lift”. Using the remnants of this signal and the comcodes, Lox is able to determine distance from the signal and the acolytes hope this can be used to complete the search for the survivor of the gunfight.

Back on the trail, the acolytes encounter a figure maintaining the appearance squalor who states that the warband are “on the right path”. When questioned the man gives the obvious pseudonym of “Krum” and a plain metal band the size of a ring, to be delivered to a certain landing pad beyond the wastes. Unwilling to divulge further to the acolytes, the warband continues on the trail ever further towards the outside of the hive and the desert beyond.

Vel’s notes are stuffed into a coin pouch with the currency of Thor:
- Tormus Fayne may have come to Gantry to see us. Arrogant.
- Stav can be drunk under the table by girls.
- I grow tired of the undead.
- I hope Zax Holtane is involved. I need more crosses on my ledger.

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Desoleum, Day Indeterminate Plus One
I hate the sump.

Thought for the Day: Where blood, bone and steel fail, faith remains everlasting.

An unnatural fog had settled over Gantry, leaving us almost unable to see more than a few metres at a time, though the sounds of combat and terror carried all too well. With Veleda visibly panicking about her unarmed state I led our team through the twisting streets towards the bridge, reasoning that if she were armed she would at least ferret away to a corner somewhere I didn’t have to hear her. The guards at the bridge were already almost swarmed by the rising undead, and all but one swiftly fell to the undead, who fell in turn under my axe and Stavros’s blade. The torch-bearing stanchions along the bridge shed enough light to reveal an oncoming horde of even more undead, advancing as though called upon by a darker power. Vel was able to kickstart the an engine that forced the main gates closed, neatly sealing us away from the advancing hordes. Stavros meanwhile wasted a box of stubber ammo atop the gates, shooting at the trapped dead. Still, he helped.

A weak vox-signal from the Red Skyship gave us a warning that more of the undead were crawling up the Ratlines near the sump lift, with Endish’s warehouse overrun with his erstwhile stock; an unknown number of enemies attacking our only other egress from the city was more dangerous to my mind than a controllable assault from within a secure warehouse, so I led us back down to the lowest levels of Gantry. Looking out over the rusting pathways we saw that although most of the lines had been pulled back up, there were five large chains hanging from the dock for the sump lift that had to have hundreds of the creatures climbing relentlessly to the platform we now stood on. Stavros and I were able to easily dispatch the vile creatures for long enough to slice through the massive chains, with some small amount of aid from Veleda perched up above, manning a rotary cannon mounted in Crimson’s Skyship.

With the incoming hordes now unable to breach the city, we lead a charge towards Endish’s district, finding that his ‘stock’ were kept in check by a half-dozen combat servitors, though the small mountain of brass shells at their feet left no illusions that they could hold out for long. A scan from my auspex revealed no signs of life, the telltale signs of fyceline, and indicators of failing structural integrity along the edges of the district where the building clung like a desperate limpet. With that, we formed a desperate plan; if the undead could not be contained, then we would sever the supports and drop the entire building into the sump far below! We found the explosives nearby the entrance without much difficulty then left Veleda to the delicate work of the detonation, doing our best to contain the creatures as they began to escape the withering fire of the servitors. It didn’t take long for the thump of the detonation to set Gantry itself swinging from the Tangle above as Endish’s now-former home fell away, taking the remaining zombies with it.

Crimson and I reached an arrangement a short while later, granting us access to a group of his best fighters and any Gantry residents that would come with us to the temple of the Blessed Flesh and end this once and for all.

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Warband's Second Mission: Desoleum Final
Extension & Final Day: 8

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 the first report entry for an extended Inquisitorial mission on the planet of Desoleum in the Askellon Sector.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into xenos or archeo technology located at scene of high body count skirmish in a charnel house 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.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Escalated

Report begins after the successful defense of the Main Gate of Gantry and the Ratlines, against the tides of undead.

With haste the Warband proceeded to Endish Manor, finding the main premises within the district with infrequent resistance from the risen dead. Beyond the double doors of the manse, the main atrium was an endless conflict between streams of corpses and Omar Endish’s battle servitors. An auspex scan of the building quickly revealed no readable life signatures other than those identifyable as battle servitors and the shambling dead. With no sign of Endish himself or any non-hostile presences within, the warband weighed their options between sealing the building and managing to destroy it. The decision that sealing the building did not eradicate the heresy led to the discovery of obvious structural vulnerabilities in the mansion’s overhang from Gantry. Without an explosives kit in their possession the warband has little option but to enter the manor itself, knowing the building is likely to contain the necessary resources.

Appearances suggest the battle servitors were beginning to fail, so the warband proceeded swiftly despite the dangers, with Lox alone suffering minor wounds at the hands of the dead. The battle servitors were finally overwhelmed as the warband left the building, forcing Lox and Stav to continue to fight off assault from these enemies while Vel placed the explosives. The installation was successful and the remote detonation saw the whole mansion and storage complex slide off of Gantry and into the Sump below.

What follows is the systematic cleansing of all animated dead from Gantry, a task made significantly easier by the efforts of the warband. Vornus Crimson recognises their direct saving of Gantry and offers the assistance of his men on the inevitable assault on Ferrue Fayne’s temple. These 10 Gang members (1 of which is the main gate guard who distinguished herself in combat before the warband) are joined by 12 locals driven by revenge and desire for battle.

The warband and strike team use the sumplifts to descend to a dilapidated barge and drift down the sump river. The viscous depths, crumbling tunnels and mutated settlers in turn threaten the barge, but it is an attack by an unknown, tentacled beast from the river itself that does the most carnage. By the time the beast is fought off 6 local fighters have been crushed or drowned, and Lox has to drag herself back onto the barge.

Despite obstacles and hours of drifting, the warband is largely unharmed and their strike team still fired and ready when the barge nears the temple compound. The temple, an archeotech construction of multiple floors, is equipped with search towers, lights and a frontal dock. Opting against a loud and immediate assault, the warband attempts to ingress in secret by climbing the closest, darkest side of the compound.

The barge is spotted by the search lights before the ingress can begin and the barge is guided to the dock. Whispering orders to the strike team to hold positions and not engage until either they hear heavy stubber fire or are themselves attacked, Lox attempts to gain the warband safe entry into the compound by insisting a miscommunication about a delivery has brought the group there. While the deception holds, avoiding scrutiny by the many Blessed Flesh Cultists within the levels of the compound as the warband ascends it, Vel notes 6 groups of 7 cultists.

Against all expectation the warband reaches the highest level of the compound, a landing platform, without being noticed. A final circle of 7 cultists surrounds the almost unrecognisable Ferrue Fayne, who is completing a ritual before a large, purplish-ebony obelisk, that Lox would accurately match to the twine-wrapped artefact.

Seizing their opportunity, the warband immediately fires upon the circle of cultists and their master. Vel’s singular shot successfully collects with Fayne’s shoulder, but despite apparent damage he continues his ritual unshaken. Stav’s opening volley of heavy stubber fire kicks wild but successfully begins the attack from the dock.

The gunfight that proceeds upon the landing pad is furious, with gouts of flame and gore, but as Stav splits Fayne in two, a void opens in his place, drawing in and consuming a cultist, twisting him into an enormous, grotesque Herald of Nurgle. This appearance incapacitates all combatants but Vel, who shakes off her fear to continue her attacks. The abomination itself proves to be practically indestructible using repulsive eldritch energies to decay the warband’s equipment, consume its allies for health, and all while cleaving massive attacks towards Stav. Were it not for the gore, Stav and Vel would likely not have survived, but good fortune slipped the Herald’s feet at a key moment, and while downed Vel and Stav were together able to banish the formidable foe and end the cult’s plans, just in time to assist their allies in the eradication of the remaining cultists.

Post-mission clean-up pending. The following are notes for future action by the warband:

-Identify exchange history of Ferrue Fayne’s artefact to track potental conspirators
-Interrogate, Cleanse & Destroy remaining Blessed Flesh cult members and “The Temple”
-Befriend Vornus Crimson as ally and contact
-Befriend Kaytian Nils as ally and contact
-Discern viability of peace between The Gallows Way and Gantry
-Continue search for Zax Holthane and Helbrel
-Begin investigation into Tormus Fayne

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Warband's Second Mission: Desoleum cntd. 2
Extension Days: 6 & 7

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 the first report entry for an extended Inquisitorial mission on the planet of Desoleum in the Askellon Sector.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into xenos or archeo technology located at scene of high body count skirmish in a charnel house 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.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Escalated

Report begins after the investigation of Gantry landmarks Sanctuary Gallows and Endish Manor:

Proceeding to the Red Skyship, the warband are shown no resistance when seeking an audience with Vornus Crimson. The leader of The Red Walk gang humours the warband’s apparent pursuit of employment as enforcers, revealing his knowledge of their killing of his lieutenant Facebiter. Vornus, demonstrating admiration, desperation and indignation volunteers the warband into trials for their employment.

Stripped of equipment, armour and weapons, Stav is cuffed to a knife-wielding Red Walk ganger, and forced to fight to the death. Grappled and slashed from behind, Stav took a negligible strike to the back of the head, delaying his response a few moments, before dispatching his foe with little apparent danger.

Lox, lithe and lightly equipped, is tasked with a race uphill along the highly precarious Rust Raceway. With only a hasty assessment of the track by Vel as an advantage, Lox enters the trial with valour and, despite dirty tactics by her opponent, she too is victorious.

Perhaps displeased with a lack of vengeance upon the warband, Vornus has Vel’s equipment taken, much the same as Stav, and placed upon an arena of a single balancing board resting on suspending cables and chains, over the enormous Sump pit itself. Tasked with her own fight to the death, armed with a dagger against a Red Walk thug equipped the same, Stav is able to combine the experience of his own trial, his history in the gladitorial ring and insight into Vel’s negligible combat talents, to coach her approach to the trial. Failing to fling her opponent into the abyss, Vel instead braves her opponent’s slashes to box him into concussion and a plummeting death.

Satisfied with their participation in the challenges, Vornus inducts the warband into the gang, and a night of carousing and careful inquiry follows. Lox is able to determine that the bodies within Endish Manor are the last of many shipments that were sent down the sump lifts and the river itself by guarded ferry. This last shipment has not yet been requested for transport and, as such, will remain there until Vornus sees payment. No forseeable transportation leaves the warband without a subtext to descend into the Sump and find the temple.

The following day, with relative acceptance by The Red Walk, the warband moves to reconnoiter the Sump Lift itself, but a rolling mist bodes ill for the warband, as the bodies typically left rotting in the streets begin to rise and attack. The decision between returning to the safety in numbers of the Red Ship, and their own more lethal armoury at Gantry’s main gate is met with fleeting debate, with Lox’s objections to the main gate cut short by attack from the risen dead.

The main gate of Gantry is being assaulted by less than a dozen animated corpses, with the Red Walk guards offering a brave defense in the face of horror. The warband, and a growing trail of foes, are able only to save one of the guards, who herself shows impressive skill. Vel and Lox close the main gate and attack the dead respectively, while Stav arms himself with a heavy stubber and demonstrates great skill in its use, cutting many down.

Preventing external attack to Gantry requires more than closing the main gate, as vox reports from the Red Skyship reveal that the Ratlines (cables into the sump) and Endish Manor itself are each flooding with walking death. Again the warband deliberates and agrees that large but finite horde at Endish Manor is more controlled than the unknown throngs ascending the Ratlines, and thus they head to the cables.

With Lox grinding away with chainaxe, Stav spitting fire with his new heavy stubber and Vel manning a mounted heavy bolter at the prow of the Skyship, the warband is able to sever the most overwhelmed Ratlines within a few chaotic minutes.

Endish Manor now looms before them.

Vel’s notes are rolled up and stuffed into a heavy bolter casing as if as a document reel:
- Flesh alone is weak, but give it an edge, a plate or enough force and it can humble even the greatest of men
- I do not like separation from my weapons. Nor do I like daggers as anything other than a tool of trade
- I owe Stav and Lox each a debt, in both wisdom in adversity and courage at my side

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Desoleum, The Gantry

Thought for the Day: Worthy are those who serve until death. Holy are any who carry on despite it.

Gantry, surprisingly, is almost a normal town. Law is enforced by the Red Walk gang, requiring that all firearms and flammable weaponry be ceded into a locker at the entrance-way. The town itself is remarkably easy to protect due to its unique structure, hanging suspended from the ceiling above like a stalagtite formed of colossal ropes; with only two major bridges connecting to the rest of the hive directly and a pair of drawbridges and barbicans protecting those, it would take a veritable army to assault it successfully. An army, for example, of plague zombies.

We made it down from the upper hive with little difficulty for once, though matters almost escalated to a lethal scale when Vel was forced to hand over her precious rifle to the gate guards, and could not be consoled until presented with the last of the Naval-issue recaf I’d been keeping in my pack for an emergency or opportunity to celebrate something of note.

Regardless, once we’d made it inside the town proper, we immediately sought out the trading residences of Omar Endish, the latest of our tenuous threads connecting events together. Endish himself, a bespectacled sage of poor grooming and worse taste in home decoration, proved to be as useless as expected. He could tell us only that he had been ‘hired’ by Vornus Crimson to store the corpses the Red Walk was delivering to the Blessed Flesh further downstream, and that the current arrangement had left his storehouses filled to the brim with slowly-decaying flesh.

Realising that Vornus was the authority figure we would need to consult next, we made our way to the Red Skyship. To my great surprise I recognised the prow of a void-craft, albeit one covered in vile graffiti and far removed from its original purpose. The guards out front of the boat proved only too happy to grant us entry to meet Vornus, though the reason for their cackling about ‘enjoying the show’ wasn’t clear until Crimson idly declared that we had incurred a blood-debt for disposing of the vile letch Facebiter back up in the Drains. Stavros and Vel were each stripped of their gear and forced to slay a member of the gang in hand-to-hand combat, while I was expected to outrun another ganger in the so-called ‘Rust Raceway, a treacherous series of rotten metal sheeting, twisted columns and sudden updrafts. In other words, a tamer version of the obstacle courses I’d been running through since I was seven.

I’m not entirely sure, but I think we’re now part of Crimson’s gang; at the very least, the party he threw afterwards was hardly a wake for the victims of my companions’ aggressions, and we seemed more or less free to come or go as we pleased. Unfortunately I was unable to get much of use out of Crimson, save that he was quite happy with the arrangement as matters stood, as he’d been paid already and only had to do half the job. Vowing to myself that I’d learn more in the morning, I turned in for the night.

At which point the zombies attacked.

Gantry.jpg

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