Dark Pursuits

Warband Returned: From the graveyard to the void

=== The following report appears corrupted, with key but vague elements able to be extracted from the compromised data:

-The thousands of dead pilgrims are stacked and burned under direction from Lox, guarded by armsmen from the Oath Unspoken.

-Stav and Lox collect Vel and return to the oath unspoken, leaving brief and complex orders to the armsmen and Rector Pyre respectively.

-Morrinoe was on board the returning craft, discussion with acolytes full of mystery.

-On Oath Unspoken, Vel is treated and recieves a bionic arm. Report regains completion from this point.===

Aboard the bridge, the warband met with the Lord Captain, who described their destination (an unaligned flotilla for Rogue Trader parley, replenishment and exchange) before offering the services of his Astropath for Lox to contact Davris Wolfe. A number of decreasingly edited reports would be sent to Wolfe, who, concerned, would insist on a meeting on their flotilla destination.

Many meals, storytellings with the captain and requisitions in the drunnels would follow.

Beneath greater encryptions, Vel’s personal notes follow:

“Lord Inquisitor Jocasta, I fear for the purity of our warband. Stavros is showing blatant and virulent mutation, Loxley secrets away knowledge, personal demons and loses moments of time during which many of the Emperor’s loyal followers die and I fear the energies on the periphery of my senses are signs of the first emergence of the psyker within me.

Though I feel our efforts and methods are becoming more skillful and successful with time, the toll on our bodies and minds is increasing. I hope a merciful, cleansing hand is ready when our potential for disaster completely eclipses our capacity to exert thr Emperor’s will.

A sanctioned Eldar in Lord Captain Anzaforr’s crew could see this conflict within our warband clearer than we could. I would heed more of the subtle warnings behind the xenos’ barbs, but all that we know as acolytes says the xenos cannot be trusted. I know of no greater presence of Eldar in the sector, and yet I cannot explain this xenos woman’s movements or purpose.

I feel I must face the inherent risks of opening my mind and eyes to knowledge beyond my station, and learn more of psykers and xenos, if I am to continue to successfully serve the Inquisition to greater and greater extent.

I plead that you see through these many reports that knowledge has been our greatest ally against heresy, and that it may yet unravel more of the smuggling trade that is central to our efforts."

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Warband upon Thaur: A Plinth Over Troubled Paupers

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, currently within days plasma travel of the planet Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken upon Thaur itself.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable, and their connection to various heretical cults. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of greater population at risk is now of primary concern given the payment of life necessary for the attainment of the heretics’ goals.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Moderate. While overtly Inquisitorial behaviour may accelerate heretical plans, the warband is to operate under the assumption that there is diminishing time to prevent the completion of such plans and the likely damnation it means.

Report begins immediately after the decimating assault upon a newly summoned daemon.

Sparing a moment to gather themselves and confirm Lox’s safety, the acolytes agree that while the beast before them was driven back to the warp, the heretics’ ritual may yet still proceed, as no mass of lives had yet been taken as all leads had insisted.

Giving chase to Arch Rector Renthear through the distant catacombs with all haste, even more strange phenomena, eerie moments of darkness, could not cease their pursuit, with the echoing noises ahead combined with Stav’s augmented hearing and survival talents closing the distance quickly.

Emerging from the tunnels unto the raised parapet of Saint Merusaad, the warband quickly note the Arch Rector standing on a plinth, chanting fell words to a terrified and petrified audience of pilgrims below. Though guarded by four heretics, the real opposition the warband would immediately face would be the re-emergence of the Daemon they defeated, bursting from the bone and stone below before the eyes of thousands of faithful.

The battle would see the hasty dispatch of the guards, but the searing hate of the Daemon returned tenfold. Brought low again, the warband quickly identified a dark skull artefact upon Renthear, assuming it as a key component of the Daemon’s relentlessness. When Renthear inevitably met his grisly fate, Vel approached the artefact to destroy it with burning plasma. Unfortunately, already injured Vel was not prepared for another return of the Daemon who, acting quickly, lanced Vel’s right arm to cinders and collapsing her in shock. At the sight of their ally’s likely death, the Acolytes administered retribution to the beast and the artefact in turn, with the final cleft from Stav seeing the true banishment of the Daemon come.

Near death, the acolytes revived Vel, who guided Lox’s hand through the first aid procedures despite the pain, saving her life.

The warband were then left with a difficult task. With minimal assistance, Stav escorted Vel to greater medical facilities in a nearby encampment, while Lox remained with the thousands of unresponsive and potentially tainted men and women below.

Though Vel would find appropriate care and successfully send word to the Oath Unspoken in orbit for assistance, Stav’s return to the Ossuary of Saint Merusaad would reveal towering piles of bodies, dead by unknown means with Lox unable to reveal their fate except for her lack of participation in it.

The fate of Thaur as a whole is yet to be determined beyond the salvation rendered by the warband.

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Warband Upon Thaur: Inaction expediates heresy

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, currently within days plasma travel of the planet Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken upon Thaur itself.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable, and their connection to various heretical cults. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of greater population at risk is now of primary concern given the payment of life necessary for the attainment of the heretics’ goals.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Moderate. While overtly Inquisitorial behaviour may accelerate heretical plans, the warband is to operate under the assumption that there is diminishing time to prevent the completion of such plans and the likely damnation it means.

Report begins immediately after the skirmish with 6 hostile corpse-crawler victims. The warband quickly identify the corpses as typical denizens of Thaur, whose faithful grief could not protect them from parasitical influence. Further traveling through the sprawling forest, the warband come upon ravaged humanoid figures, who have upturned some earth to feast upon corpses. Though not immediately seen, the acolytes determine the cannibals’ practice detestable enough to ambush them. Stav’s superior stealth skills close the distance with the distracted eaters.

Unfortunately, Stav’s lone attack method performs terribly, flinging two frag grenades, the first of which proves to be a dud as it collides with one of the cannibals, while fumbling a second, causing it to land and explode short of its target, harming nothing but the landscape.

As the cannibals react and slip into the forest, Vel follows their lead, taking a distant and covered position. The cannibals leave their cover to surround Stav, which Lox takes as an opportunity to create a distraction and join the fray. Her plan has mixed results, taking the attention of three cannibals but also taking grievous injuries from their gruesome flails.

Vel’s position, despite the dense tree cover, allows her good angles to execute two of the cannibals, while Stav eliminates 3 of his own in direct combat and Lox herself tears a foe down. Lox’s injuries treated, the warband proceeds into the forest.

As the hour grows late the acolytes approach a walled village whose gate is strangely unlocked. Within it becomes swiftly apparent that all citizens share a delusion that they are dead and experiencing an afterlife within this village. Unclear of the source of the shared delusion and general disconnection of the villagers, but too exhausted to continue on in the dark, the warband accept accommodation in the local inn, eating their own rations and water supplies and sleeping in shifts. Night terrors and sleep walking are the worst of the events that occur during the night and the warband depart the afflicted village only a couple of hours beyond their expectation.

Many hours later the acolytes near a large area densely built with statues and tombs. The bustle of reverent pilgrims makes finding their destination simple, with hundreds of eager souls gathered around the Statuary of Saint Merusaad. With no clear sign of cultist activity, nor access to the catacombs possibly alluded by the Eldar Ranger, the acolytes scan the crowd for anything suspicious. After some time they notice black cloaked figures, not dissimilar to those in the area, gathering and moving away from the Statuary and down the winding paths of tombs.

Following the cultists, the acolytes watch as they enter an ossuary tomb, guarded by two of their kind. Whatever the cultists use to identify themselves and gain entry, the acolytes are unsure. But presenting the vile of purple ichor and a few clever words from Lox get the warband in. Within, an obviously oversized stone sarcophagus, showing recent recent activity in the disturbed dirt hides a staircase descending into the catacombs.

Between Vel’s talent for navigation, Lox’s careful scrutiny of the strangely reactive artifacts in their possession and Stav’s instinct for survival, the acolytes quickly navigate the winding tunnels of the catacombs from Imperial bone structures to strange xenos architecture. Through their travels the warband is frequently visited by bizarre phenomena, such as fell winds, instant darkness and ill feelings.

The acolytes finally enter a vast chamber, at the other end of which approximately 50 cultists stand in banks before a large purple pool, casting artifacts into in and basking in reverence. At almost 400 metres away, the cultists are beyond the acolytes immediate means to attack effectively. Unsure whether to act at such distance or attempt to close it quickly, a leader amonst the cultists emerges, fitting the description of an authority on Thaur, Renthear, who had been passed over for the position Pyre attained.

Before Vel can line up a shot at the betrayer, the ritual completes. From the broiling pit a great purple daemon emerges. The mere sight of the being sends almost all the followers instantly mad, though the acolytes’ own experiences harden them against the shock and terror. Renthear and a handful of cultists flee through another exit, with Renthear narrowly saved from a rifle shot from Vel by the sacrifice of one of his followers.

The daemon, the same being freed from his fleshy prison by the acolytes on Desoleum, is greeted by a hellstorm of Stav’s Autocannon fire. In response, the beast tears into the wimpering servants before him, consuming artefacts to heal his wounds.

As Stav and Vel continue to lay righteous hate into the daemon, it is Lox that truly summons its attentions by presenting an artefact mockingly. Teleporting instantly upon her, the daemon strikes her through and snatches the artefact for absorption. Now but metres away from Stav, his next volley is devastating, but it is Lox’s gout of sanctified flame that sends the daemon swirling back to the warp.

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Warband Upon Thaur: Scrutiny and Distrust

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, currently within days plasma travel of the planet Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken upon Thaur itself.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable, and their connection to various heretical cults. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of greater population at risk is now of primary concern given the payment of life necessary for the attainment of the heretics’ goals.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Moderate. While overtly Inquisitorial behaviour may accelerate heretical plans, the warband is to operate under the assumption that there is diminishing time to prevent the completion of such plans and the likely damnation it means.

Report begins immediately after the gunbattle on the bridge of the Oath Unspoken. The acolytes, comfortable in the safety of the immediate surviving crew, proceeded to investigate the heretical forces, all of whom appeared to have fallen. Only the psyker carried artefacts of note, beyond the resources for ritual.

In his possession was some charcoal rubbings of text and artefacts, explaining the ritual one again and with some scrutiny revealing another contingent of heretics already on the surface of Thaur, busily preparing for the sacrifice in the event the Oath Unspoken refused to fall. Such preparations would complete in a matter of days. Also in his possession was a topographical map likely of the surface of Thaur, given the few clear landmarks and characteristics, but completely lacking any identifying marks beyond that for greater specificity. The Captain and his Seneschal would later be able to give the Acolytes a better idea of the map’s approximate location, including a portion deliberately circled over a Great Saint’s burial site, where thousands of faithful pilgrims are expected to gather in celebration.

Finally the psyker’s corpse revealed a holographical vid recorder which, after some careful consideration on the parts of the warband, they decided to view privately. Aside in a corridor, an image of another escaped heretic, the Heretek Somnius Helbrel, concluded a transaction with the reciever of the message, having traded assets and intent with one another. Though expecting to be far away from Thaur, Helbrel wished the heretics good fortune in their endeavour.

With little precious time to spare, the acolytes took the transit days to Thaur to recover and resupply before approaching the Lord Captain to ask a for a portion of repayment of the debt he owned for his bridge and crew: The earliest shuttle departure for the surface of Thaur. He obliged, with his Eldar companion suggesting the warband “Look Below” when they reach their destination.

Upon the surface of Thaur, amongst the sprawling trees and bone altars, the warband are immediately approached by local enforcers of order who insist the acolytes surrender their weapons and be escorted to Thaur’s key authority. A tense moment passes before the party narrowly avoids conflict with the Mournful Guarf and heed their instructions.

Within a stone and bone palace, the authority of Thaur, a cunning but faithful man, detains the acolytes until they reveal their status as Inquisitors. At this point he becomes compliant and accommodating, providing the necessary directions for the acolytes to make their departure. He also assures the acolytes that his knowledge of the goings on upon Thaur are extensive and that The Inheritors are a small breakaway faction of the world’s religious practices, the Eulogis Askelline, and that they are well controlled. Sparing little time, the acolytes depart on foot, their journey through the dense forests best served off the primitive steed-drawn carriages of Thaur.

A short travel into the wilderness saw the acolyes assaulted by 6 locals, befallen an apparent illness of aggression and corrossive expulsion. A brief conflict revealed the implantation of parasitical entities within the people, their condition as either alive or dead being unclear under such foul influence. The journey continues.

Deeply encrypted: “Being suspicious off all that I encounter is no new feeling for me. And yet, it is almost as if energies exist around me at times, moreso on this world than any yet. I cannot tell if these energies are to be used or denied, but I am certain they are not to be trusted.”

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Warband Offworld: Holding the Bridge

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, currently in multiple-week warp transit from Desoleum to the planetary system of Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of population at risk is an auxilliary concern to the discovery of conspirators and extraction of technology.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Absolute. Exposure as extension of the Inquisition will result in extreme endangerment of warband members and attainment of mission.

Report begins during preparations against the Inheritors’ plan to take the Oath Unspoken’s bridge. With the Lord Captain’s limited security measures, the acolytes moved to acquire intelligence on their amassing foe, and tactical resources for the looming battle.

True to their usual behaviour, details of the inheritors’ numbers and assets were limited. Lox’s contacts could only determine that a minimum of 15 cultists were still active on the void ship, that at least half a dozen mercenaries had accepted employment on board, and that an indeterminable number of underdeck scum were bragging of their important mission (the honesty of which is independently dubious).

Vel had each of the acolytes’ weapons delivered for sacred inscription to bolster their determination in combat. Vel also acquired extra munitions for their current complement of weaponry. Days before the Oath Unspoken’s scheduled return from the warp, Stav rightly proposes a thorough assessment of the bridge as a platform for combat. Unfortunately any plans to bolster the defenses of the bridge were insisted against by the Rogue Trader’s representative bridge crew.

The acolytes ensured their readiness on the bridge as the Oath Unspoken left the warp. As sounds of gunfire roared up and quieted beyond the heavy bridge doors, moments of silence passed. As expected, an explosive breach through the doors was greeted by a phalanx of ship security with shotguns and a readied Stav; the captain, his retinue and Lox secure atop the Captain’s chair podium, and Vel in an alcove aside with rifle raised.

The first wave fell quickly, a small incursion of underdeck thugs shot to pieces. The second wave, backed by charging mutants, closed the distance. A portal opened at the opposite end of the bridge, spewing forth Inheritor cultists. Even with Vel and the Sanctioned Xenos (perched above the navigator’s alcove) eliminating key targets, the ship security forces quickly began to fall. By the arrival of a second unit of guards, the enemy forces had numbered 18 cultists, 7 mercenaries, 1 psyker, 11 underdeck thugs and 4 mutants. All but 4 of the 20 available guards died forcing the heretics back, many falling to frag grenades, but the captain, his retinue and the acolytes would cut the last heretic down with no casualties.

The damage to the bridge and advance to Thaur remain to be determined.

Vel’s personal notes, absent from recent reports as she prepares a more complex and effective encryption algorithm, are buried deep within the report under the same encryption:

“Lord Inquisitor Jocasta. I am not in possession of means to provide you with these reports, nor the means to decode this purposefully hidden text. This may be one of many messages not included in the official reports that you will read when a means to do so is found.

During the assault on the Oath Unspoken’s bridge, I sensed an unfamiliar energy moments before the filthy psyker’s portal opened. At best, I am simply becoming sensitive to the immaterial energies. At worst, I fear, I am become that which I despise: a psyker.

If the former, let my sensitivity serve our righteous work. If the latter, I will deny the witch within. I know little of the procedures of the black ships and the testing of psykers, lest that it takes a great deal of time. The many heresies of man do not rest, thus the only rest I will see is death in duty."

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Warband Offworld: The Clinging Cold

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, currently in multiple-week warp transit from Desoleum to the planetary system of Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of population at risk is an auxilliary concern to the discovery of conspirators and extraction of technology.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Absolute. Exposure as extension of the Inquisition will result in extreme endangerment of warband members and attainment of mission.

Report begins as the warband decide to make their way to the corpse holds. A quick conversation with ship Seneschal H’len provides the warband with a list of recent disappearances reported from the corpse holds. After brief scrutiny, Vel determines a pattern localised to a certain area of the holds and the acolytes begin their journey there. Armed and ready, the acolytes make short work of the locks on the heavy corpse hold doors. The densely stacked bodies, dimly-lit corridors and frost-bitten workers would only slightly hamper the warband’s ability to find their destination. Moments after finding a stash of narcotics sewn into a number of corpses down a particular corridor, the acolytes spot an Inheritor Cultist moving swiftly into another chamber.

Following Stav’s stealthy lead, the warband follow the cultist into a trap. Beset by inheritors, mutants and a psyker, each of the acolytes comports themselves with valour, striking down many foes while taking minimal damage. Here Vel is first exposed to the influences of the psyker she so dreaded.

The warband move through the ambush site to a network of ancillary chambers that the cultists had been using for resting and ritual, the walls caked with indistinguishable, shifting runes of an unknown origin in an unknown substance. Gunfire was heard in a chamber serving as a mess, but on first arrival the warband found only the dead and dying. A smuggler of the trade sable, rueful of the inheritors’ doublecrossing, cursed them with his dying breaths, revealing a plan to take control of the Oath Unspoken and give it to their god, Izumat. A young, hiding inheritor, more arrogant than afraid under duress, revealed their intent to take the ship’s bridge after it drops out of the warp on approach to Thaur.

Acquiring appropriate evidence and testimony, the warband return to the upper decks. The next day they meet with and inform the Lord Captain of the revelations and insisting that, beyond a greater ship security presence on the bridge when returning from the warp, he do nothing to expose their knowledge of the Inheritors’ plans.
His Seneschal, H’Len, passes all scrutiny and is no longer suspected of involvement in this activity.

A brief visit to narco smuggler Jarrad Cincayd strongly suggests his part in the narcotics stash in the bodies within the corpse holds, though any word of co-conspirators or employers is not forthcoming and Jarrad seems largely unintidated by the acolytes.

Preparation for the impending Cultist attack is the agenda for the following week, including gathering intelligence on the volume and nature of the opposing force.

Vel’s personal notes, absent from recent reports as she prepares a more complex and effective encryption algorithm, are buried deep within the report under the same encryption:

“Lord Inquisitor Jocasta. I am not in possession of means to provide you with these reports, nor the means to decode this purposefully hidden text. This may be one of many messages not included in the official reports that you will read when a means to do so is found.

Something is happening to me. Perhaps it was through the direct action of an ill-willed psyker or from proximity to the cultists’ profane language and obscene unguents.

Whatever the source, I feel ailed. As if the air is just a slight thinner with breaths today than yesterday, to make room for energies I have never felt before. I know not what or why but something in me has changed.

Regardless of this, I pledge my continued service. That I will continue to excel beyond my capacity and station, continue to lay waste to the enemies of the Imperium. Continue to enforce the will of the Inquisition in your name."

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Warband Offworld: Aboard the Oath Unspoken

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, currently in multiple-week warp transit from Desoleum to the planetary system of Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of population at risk is an auxilliary concern to the discovery of conspirators and extraction of technology.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Absolute. Exposure as extension of the Inquisition will result in extreme endangerment of warband members and attainment of mission.

Report begins at the start of the second day in the void, after the warband has recuperated and recovered. Intending to proceed to the Basilica Unspoken, the acolytes immediately encounters a contingent of Ship Security at their door, who insist the warband be escorted to Captain Anzaforr himself.

Erring caution towards the ship’s most powerful occupant, the warband prepares their story and then agrees to be escorted to the ship’s spire. In an art filled banquet hall the acolytes are invited to sit and partake of a meal with Lord Captain Anzaforr and his closest crew-members. Before the acolytes can explain themselves Anzaforr makes his knowledge of their true titles clear.

The acolytes’ begrudging honesty is rewarded with the promise of Anzaforr’s complete cooperation in their investigations. Through this, the warband has some questions answered. The Oath Unspoken is making the lucrative corpse-transport journey from noble populations to the Thaur Shrine world, to refill the Anzaforr dynasty’s coffers during an expensive conflict with another dynasty. Amongst his bridge crew is a sanctioned Eldar named Morrinoe who has a long history with the captain and may possess divination abilities. His seneschal, H’Len, is the facilitator of all his orders and is of inevitable suspicion to the acolytes. Any large deposits of weaponry on the ship are to be more carefully guarded given the cultist activity, but Anzaforr will do his best to maintain the acolytes’ dwindling anonymity. The following meal is uneventful

On return from the spire a malfunction in the gellar field allows a warp incursion within the ship, one room behind the acolytes. The sight of the beings that breach forth, two flighted beasts called furies, is enough to incapacitate Stav and grip Lox with overwhelming fear. Vel, the only willing combatant but not equipped with her signature weapon, puts Lox to the task of hauling their unconscious ally out of danger. Their swift efforts allow their escape to a side chamber without being noticed by the marauding furies. Once Stav and Lox are safe from harm, Vel joins the Ship security flooding the hall to face their fear. With their assistance Vel is even able to eliminate a fury herself.

The acolytes return to legwork, their inquiries discerning that two different cults that they have already encountered, are at war with one another. “The Songers” are native to desoleum and are garbed in red while “The Inheritors” are from Thaur and wear black cloaks. All leads point to the corpse holds of the ship, where the two cults are in open conflict.

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Warband Offworld: Lurching into the Warp

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, currently in multiple-week warp transit from Desoleum to the planetary system of Thaur. Occuring aboard the void craft Oath Unspoken.

Updated Mission brief: Continue investigation into proliferation and trade of xenos or archeo technology by Trade Sable. Source of newest lead located aboard Oath Unspoken, between the ash-covered ruins of Desoleum and the hallowed spires of Thaur. Safety of population at risk is an auxilliary concern to the discovery of conspirators and extraction of technology.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: Absolute. Exposure as extension of the Inquisition will result in extreme endangerment of warband members and attainment of mission.

Report begins within a lander shuttle as it docked aboard Oath Unspoken. The warband, weary and ignorant of their situation, departed the lander and attempted to gain their bearings. The lander pilot proved a poor source of information, with signage and ship structure also largely unfamiliar. Of note, despite being immaculately maintained, the large cargo hold was remarkably absent of supplies and had a limited complement of lander craft. Unattentive servitors busy themselves with other tasks, taking no note of the warband.

In an attempt to find shipboard security and better intel, the warband departs the bay through one of the few person-sized doorways. Beyond the warband are drawn to a chant, identified by Lox as a psalm to the Emperor’s glory. Led to the source, the warband enter a large storage hall, clearly converted to an improvised cathedral, with over a thousand singing souls (identified by Lox as probable pilgrims). A priest leading the sermon and song from the presbytery catches Lox’s interest as an honest figure of sworn duty to the highest power, thus a reliable asset and confidant of the acolytes’ mission. Crossing the cathedral however, Lox’s few subtle symbols of faith shine like the Astronomicon to the pilgrims, and the braver of their number begin to crowd around her. Demonstrating her genuine belief and revealing her intent to speak with the head priest, Lox is escorted by mob to the door to a side chamber, the priests’ personal sanctuary.
Vel and Stav are comparatively swamped within the crowd and elect to stay within it.

Lox is joined in the sanctuary by the priest, a man of advanced age who introduced himself as Nessiah Lazarun, and who appeared to have little to his name but his title and faith. After making clear her own fidelity known as well as her reverance of those of his position, Lox is able to procure some information, such as the name of the vessel (Oath Unspoken), the name of the Rogue Trader dynasty (House Anzaforr) that commands the ship, the intended destination of the vessel (Thaur, revealed just as the plasma engines audibly ceased, the gellar field rose and the vessel lurched into the warp) and that the Rogue Trader Captain Anzaforr himself was on board, suggesting that this is his flagship and is charting a regular pilgrimage route through Imperium sectors.

Before leaving Lazarun’s presence, Lox unilaterally gambled the knowledge of the warband’s Inquisition employ by sharing it with Lazarun. Her goal in doing so was to procure assistance from him and his pilgrims in the holy (if wholly secret) task of gathering intelligence on strange goings-on aboard the vessel, as even the crew of the Oath Unspoken are under investigation. Lazarun agrees to assist with the investigation in full, while also maintaining the acolytes’ measure of anonymity.

Lox filled Stav and Vel in on proceedings before suggesting the warband head to The Drunnels, as suggested by Lazarun, to seek medical assistance and supplies. Following instructed routes the acolytes reached the Drunnels quickly, finding an expansive, sprawling bazaar of exotic and ecclesiarchical wares and services. Vel swiftly recognised the entertainers plying their talents amongst the stalls from extensive requisition requests during her time in the administratum. She warned that these entertainers charge to be viewed, voluntarily or not.

Applying her commercial and logical talents, Vel quickly gambled a supply of ship-board scrit and searched out resources for the warband, including highest quality feudal-world plate from a proud smith, and a crude replacement nose for Stav. While Stav carefully acquired a quality biotic ear to replace the one he lost, Lox sought extended medical care from the sororitas and chirurgeons of the mission. Careful surgical work would see the successful reattachment of her arm. Had the warband acted with less medical caution and speed, Lox would’ve needed another biotic arm.

With Lox undergoing major surgery and recovery, Vel and Stav attempted to gather intelligence on the inner workings of Oath Unspoken. With little initial success, the acolytes spotted familiarly garbed figures negotiating with an arms trader in a quieter area of the Drunnels. An attempt to eavesdrop on the conversation revealed the cultists attempts to procure large quantities of weapons on the ship. Stav’s inconspicuous new armour could only go unnoticed for so long, and agitated questions about his presence led to bloody conflict. Stav coming through wounded but alive, a large transaction of ship scrit bought the trader’s agreement that the random attack could have been caused by anyone. No additional details of the cultists’ presence could be determined.

Departing the scene quickly, Stav and Lox asked for directions from security to resolve an “accommodation issue” for the acolytes. A long journey and longer wait at the appropriate offices was rewarded with a much more fruitful accommodation error, as the warband were escorted to one of the highest level rooms aboard the vessel. A night of recovery would see the warband recombined at the room, ready to return to the investigation.

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Entry #001

“…All ships of the Imperium have a particular hum, one that you can feel right through to your bones. A rather pragmatic enginseer I managed to get drunk once told me that it’s an oscillation of the primary plasma baffles. I’ve heard that hum for eighty years now, aboard dozens of vessels, and I know the truth. It’s a hymn, a prayer of loyalty and gratitude from the heart of the ship itself to Him on Earth.
—Fleet-Captain Rodriquez Castellan vi’Ortega, personal correspondence. "

So. My journals were destroyed by the clumsy attempts of my captors on that benighted world and I have little desire to relive what happened out in the desert, so I’ll start anew. As assets of Inquisitor Thallia Jocasta, we’ve stowed away aboard a pilgrim-ship dubbed the Oath Unspoken. I’m told we are headed for the shrine-world Thaur, pursuing the root of the Sable Traders infesting Desoleum.

I led our small party out into the ship’s corridors, following the faint echoes of a hymn I knew as well as my own heartbeat; we emerged from the oppressively-tight corridors into a converted macro-hold, almost completely filled with throngs of the faithful, a withered old man leading the prayers from the top of a shipping container that had been converted into a prayer lectern. Though I had taken care to hide the physical emblem of my soul’s armour beneath my borrowed clothing, its radiance was enough to draw the attention of those around me as we made our way through the room. I hung back behind the others, offering benedictions and words of kindness for the pilgrims until I encountered a junior priest, allowing me to request an interview with his superior in a more private setting.

Stavros (and Velada?) remained outside as the withered priest made his way into the room. We discussed matters for some time, and I don’t doubt that my companions would be offended at my decision to reveal our identities so soon after meeting him, but I felt… safe, around that man. I chose to trust him with knowledge of our purpose, and he promised to aid us as best he and his followers could.

With the priest’s goodwill assured, I joined back up with the party, explained all that I had learned so far and led us towards the Drunnels, the ship’s unofficial marketplace. Vel and Stavros wandered off to do something or other, while I found myself here, in the care of Sisters Hospitaller. Though Velada’s medical knowledge is surprisingly capable for a scrivener, even the cavernous depths of her medkit had come up short of being able to truly re-attach the arm I had lost back in the desert. The nurses tell me I’ll be able to leave in a day or so, while a messenger from Vel assures me we have already acquired suitable lodgings close to the officers decks. For now I can rest, and heal.

I’ve always hated travelling on ships. There’s a hum that gets right into your bones.

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Warband's Third Mission: A warband bloodied. A warband unbound.

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 operating offworld.

Need for anonymity by acolytes: High, assume roles as cartel members.

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

Report begins during ash wastes crossing to Port Gyre.

Vel awakens, manacled and chained at the back of the same transport vehicle, surrounded by the same group of smugglers. Her legs are severely wounded and bandaged with little care out of material from an armoured bodyglove. While awake, lying prone and frequently shaken by the bumpy ride, Vel overhears a vox conversation between the smuggler leader and an unknown authority, possibly very distant given the static. During the conversation the smuggler leader is identified as “Hresk”, reports the assault upon the smuggler camp, mentions the recipient of this report by name as a known and anticipated element and describes Vel’s alive capture and delivery as highly valuable.

Vel is then subjected to facial and body branding, as well as the removal of the trigger finger on her right hand. Any further torture is interrupted as Stav and Lox begin to near the vehicle, successfully following its tracks and closing the distance. One of the smugglers, armed with Vel’s sniper rifle, aims towards the bike-mounted acolytes. Lox spots the darting, shaking gleam of the red dot laser sight early and instructs Stav to jink immediately. A shot impacts with the ash behind them, missing them narrowly.

Brooking no insult, Lox carefully unslings the missile launcher from Stav, and despite no prior experience with weapons of its kind, braces the launcher on Stav’s shoulder and lets her rage do the shooting. Miraculously, her fury beats out inexperience and unsteady terrain at speed, the missile hitting the unsteady earth beside the truck’s rear right tire, propelling the vehicle onto its side, destroying the wheel structure entirely. Bodies, crates and other sundries scatter through the air as the truck comes to tbe ground.

Pulling their bike up, Lox and Stav check the fallen nearby, questioning the survivors and sparing them to a dry, miserable fate, wounded in the desert. Approaching the back of the truck, a plasma blast warns the acolytes back, and at Lox’s autogun point and Stav’s sword and shield, they wait for the firer to emerge.

The smuggler leader, shaken but seemingly uninjured, carries Vel out by her hair as a human shield, her legs dragging lamely in the ash while he points a plasma pistol at the acolytes. While Lox and the leader bicker through the stalemate, Stav hears movement on the other side of the truck, turning to quickly intercept more smugglers, dodging another warning shot from the leader. Then the fight begins in earnest.

Lox narrowly dodges another plasma blast, firing a burst of suppressing fire, intentionally spraying far wide of Vel and her captor. The effect is still the same as the smuggler leader drops Vel and ducks away for cover. Stav closes into melee with two smugglers, each armed with shock mauls, whose skills rival his own.

Donning both quality armour and Lox’s prized rosarius, the leader refuses to be harmed by Lox and Vel’s collective gunfire, closing with Lox and swinging a chain sword furiously. Even devastating bursts from Lox’s inferno pistol merely dissipates upon the shield. Fortunately a lucky shot from Vel collects with a weak point in the shield, overloading it. This chance at victory only redoubles their foe’s efforts, and Lox is grievously wounded while Vel is just incapacitated, suggesting Vel is needed by the smugglers for something of import.

After a long and vicious skirmish, Stav finally fells the second smuggler, before racing around the the other side of the fallen vehicle to assist his fellow acolytes. The warband is reunited moments too late, as a vicious plasma blast brings Vox low, before a sweeping chain sword swing removes her right arm. As if posessed by the will of her Emperor, Lox spits through the agony, watching with little mercy as Vel and Stav together bring the blood soaked smuggler leader to his end.

In the aftermath, Vel and Stav have their injuries treated well, Vel’s restraints are removed, most of the warband’s equipment is found within the upturned truck along with some extras and the crushed body of Zax Holthane (to Vel’s mixed satisfation of justice). Lox’s wounds, needing greater steadiness than the bike will allow, is strapped to a dropped plasteel plate from the truck, and tied behind as the warband continue on to Port Gyre.

Their arrival at the port is fairly routine given the return of their identification as acolytes, and a clumsy search for landing pad Omicron 7-2A succeeds. Approaching the freight craft waiting there, the pilot next to it takes barely a moment’s glance of their apparent disguise as two smugglers and a slave, that he was expecting anyway. He hurries them on to the craft before preparing its departure from Desoleum’s atmosphere.

Vel’s notes are scribbled in the margins of a ledger of names, of which Zax Holthane had been recently crossed off. Her handwriting seems unaffected by the recent loss of a digit.

- Well, Hresk had a 9 out of 10 shot of being right. He just got unlucky. Guess his man didn’t notice the way my custom grip and bolt were designed.

- More scars, more stories. Every one a reminder that they can take me but they can never break me.

- Once again, I submit that I am far less without my equipment. I will never take it for granted.

- Whatever happened to that young tech priest?

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