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#1 Alekzanter



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Posted 03 March 2013 - 04:53 PM

Sometimes; and only sometimes; no one is trying to kill you.
In the quiet pre-dawn, there is only latrine duty.

Several fire-teams have not come back from the night patrol. Of course there has been the occasional snap-whip of a far-off las-rifle, but nothing significant to indicate they fell afoul of recon infiltrators. In fact, chances are very low they could have encountered any opposition elements; Tacticae Plotters are certain of this.

The squad is tasked with tracking down their compatriots. Their last known coordinates (during vox check) put them approximately 15 kilometers out, verging upon an expanse of reed-forest (these trees resemble birch trees, but with the biggest trunks only 10-12 centimeters wide, very tall with the foliage clustered near their tops, and spaced irregularly…as plants are wont to grow…no closer than 2-3 meters). Extremely heavy rains fell through most of the night, and these men may have taken refuge from the elements, perhaps even cut off by flash flooding. This doesn't explain their vox silence, however.

Rather than empty/burn half-drums of piss and feces all morning, the squad are happy to take the assignment.

Approaching the forest, the PCs can see the trees in the distance; white flakey bark, broad leaves a pale ochre color. The surrounding landscape is moderatedly flooded to a depth of 20-30 centimeters, a result of the previous night's rain. Things are quiet. Too quiet. No buzzing insects, no chirping morning birds, no crackling gunfire in the distance. Even with the use of amplivisors, the PCs can make out no sign of the missing fire-teams. There's not much else around, except the forest of reed-trees, nowhere to hide except in the shallow flooding. Perhaps their comrades found a mound in the forest, and are now flooded in.
Still, nothing on the vox.

As the PC near the verge they think they can hear voices, tinny and indisticnt, coming from somewhere deep within the forest. Only bits of words: "…peror…", "…desti…", "…oming assau…". As the PC close upon the forest boundary, one of them notices a swath of snapped trees, their trunks bent and broken about a dozen centimeters above the water line. An AFV has been through here, bending the boughs low and snapping the trunks, their lenghths laying in a tangled mass and pointing toward the center of the forest. Perhaps their comrades have been penned in/trapped by a unit of enemy armour… Yet…the fallen trees are long, long dead.
The squad's vox pips. No amount of dialing clears the wash of static…except for a moment or two of indistinct, tinny voices, and in the unnatural silence of the surround they echo with a hint of a word, maybe two; "…ith you you oo oo…".

(Depending on their approach; stealthy, blundering; the PCs may glimpse figures darting through the trees, moving to flank and surround them. These are their compatriots, though the GM is encouraged to play up and drag out the ruse of enemy recon infiltrators. They withdraw if approached, and flee if pursued, always maintaining a lead if possible, but always toward the verge of the forest, never toward its heart. The farther away from the heart of the forest the PCs move, the less their vox pips and tings with half-heard voices… Their unkown "foe" are seemingly leading the PCs away from the vox source, but don't say that, let them figure it out on their own. The GM might have the PCs make appropriate Tests for vox operation; perhaps if the roll is particularly bad the vox burns out; or Navigation, things meant to distract and/or disorient the PCs, but make them Difficult [-20] Tests, do not give them the benefit of close rolls, and let them choose to spend Fate on re-rolls or not, all this to increase tension and suspense, a sense of "what the fek…?" When the PCs are high-strung and their trigger fingers are good and itchy…)

Note: It is possible a "friendly-fire incident" could ocurr here; if so, don't let it derail the encounter. In fact, the man you just shot in face has survived the attack with nothing more than a slightly bloody nose…

A vox horn, like those mounted on the hull of an AFV, squeals loudly, vibrating the leaves on high and setting the PCs' teeth on edge. There is a wash of mid-range static, and a voice fades into hearing; the voice is deep and sonorous, yet comforting, commanding and confident, not like the Commissars, more like the perfect father all men wished they could have. The voice is so powerful the vox horn strains to carry the lows, and there is an occasional buzz that washes the words, but…

"…en en en men that are of Man, hear me, heed my words, and trust in my knowing owing owing… i i i I am your Emperor, your savior or or or… oo oo oo you are destined for glory ory ory and and greatness, you must forget your fears and have faith in my guiding hand during the coming assault ault ault ault…"

There is more…but…is this real? Stealing forward through the trees, the PCs finally manage to glimpse the bulk of the AFV. It sits at the base of a small hill, its path through the trees at an end. It is old, obviously long abandoned, collapsed upon its frame and splitting with rust, and its pattern is barely recognizable. Its cracked and sagging vox horn vibrates to the cadence of the otherworldly voice.

The hulk is surrounded by the missing fire-teams, listening intently to the words echoing through the reed-forest. The PCs feel…scared, on edge, not becuase there is a perceivable danger, but because the setting is implausible. The voice fades away to echoes, and echos fade to silence once more. The missing fire-teams welcome their comrades-come-looking. Questions are asked; why have you not returned to camp? What just happened here?

The fire-teams were worried the PCs might be enemy scouts, and attempted only to lead them away from this blessed place. They claim their voxes burned out when they tried to zero-in on the "transmission". They all claim to have followed the sounds of static into the forest. It is the divine voice of the Emperor, and the men are comforted by His words, His attention, and they do not want to leave this "holy" glade. It is quiet and peaceful here, and the Emperor speaks to them from His Throne On Earth. And they are affraid. The voice spoke of a coming conflict, and they do not want to die. They are waiting for the Emperor to tell them what they must do.

Any PC climbing into the hulk of the AFV can easily confirm that it is a complete wreck, and nothing is salvagable, including its vox.

Is this the real deal?
Or is it a trick of the Ruinous Powers?

You, the GM, must decide.


I intentionally left the pattern of AFV vague so GMs could choose something approrpitae to their setting.

Perhaps there are no bodily remains of the crew, or perhaps only the vox operator remains, his desicated husk slouched in his seat, vox headphones on his hed…and if the PCs lift these for a listen, maybe they hear the voice more clearly?

The missing fire-teams may be split in their assessment of the situation; half (or more) of each team wants to stay and hear more, the others think it's an enemy trick. Is there a Ministorum Priest in the PC's squad? What does he think? It can be a very delicate  situation, and the PC may find themselves split as well.

The big questions: Does anybody tell Command? Will they think everybody's gone bazonkers and put them in straight capes? What are the long-term implications of this event. Are the missing squads (and the PCs) now "lucky" talismans of the Regiment? Is the squad assigned to hold the area against enemy encroachment until the Imperial Cult can send someone to investigate? Will there be a desperate stand against an overwhelming enemy in the presence of the God-Emperor's sight, or is it all a hoax?

Or is it battlefield stress finally catching up with everyone?







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