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Cynical Cat

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  1. Sindar Extos stepped over Steban's headless corpse. She immediately saw the gaping hole in the window. "Throne of Earth!" She turned her head. "Jexan! Get in here! Now!" The stooped shouldered man hustled into the room. He was pale and slim, with a completely shaved head. He wore carapace armour under his heavy brown robe. "There is only one psyker left and he is rapidly leaving," the Sanctioned Psyker said. "I know that!" she snarled. "He jumped out of the thrice damned window! Can we follow?" "What?" "Can you fly me down after him before the heretic gets away?" she shouted. "Y-yes." "Then do it!" She activated her vox. "Inquisitor, target Dask appears to be escaping. Engaging in pursuit down the side of the hive." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jolan Gix glided down towards the landing pad. The space port projected from the side of the termite mound shaped hive in order to accommodate the traffic. Huge pads sprouted from the hive's side allowing transports and orbital shuttles to land and then off load down the broad walkways. Customs inspectors and others would be there as well, but that couldn't be helped. It was vastly easier than trying to fight through an Arbites assault squad and whatever back up they had. Jolan neared a shuttle as cargo was being off loaded from its belly. Several workers or ship's crew noticed him and pointed. Heads turned his way. The inquisitor landed on the edge of the pad on bent knees. Workers scattered away from the witch in their midst. Jolan ran down the causeway towards the hive. And that's when he felt the power. He turned his head and looked up as he ran. Two figures were descending towards him, one robed and the other wearing the armour of the Adeptus Arbites. Apparently a two kilometer fall had been insufficient. He wrapped himself in a telekinetic cocoon and launched himself down the causeway with a burst of telekinetic force. A shell burst against his shields as he neared the two guards near the entrance to the hive's interior. They were raising their lasguns as he swooped past, but were not fast enough to track him. He hit the ground and continued running, pushing into the lines of cargo handlers. The entry corridor was big, to accommodate large amounts of men and cargo. Midway along the length was a security station that observed the flow of men and goods. One labourer tried to stop him. Jolan pistol whipped him in the face and then knocked his legs out from under him. Men broke out of the way of his advance. He heard shouts from behind him. "Inquisition! Stop that man!" Throne! Not merely Arbites but the Inquisition. Men in front of bolted or hesitated. Jolan didn't. He raised the Hevucar and put two rounds in the chest of the closest man. He fell, blood gushing from his wounds. He sent forth an impulse of crippling pain in wave in front of him, dropping men screaming to their knees. Behind him came the boom of the combat shotgun. Pellets and a slug were deflected by his force shield. Behind him men screamed as they were struck by Executioner rounds aimed in his direction. He half looked back as he ran and fired several shots back. They didn't dissuade his pursuers. He felt a lance of psychic force slam into his shields and then crack them apart, leaving him naked against the enforcer's weapons. He struck back with a blast of telekinetic force, knocking the Arbiter over and sending her gun spinning back down the corridor. A manifestation of pure malice erupted from his forehead, a many fanged warp eel formed of dark light. It flew through he air and struck the psyker. He screamed and fell, convulsing. Jolan turned back and continued running. The guards from the guard posts had their laspistols drawn and were trying to get a bead on him as direct line of sight was blocked by a cargo raft in front of Jolan. The inquisitor moved to the left and shot at the man he could see. He fired six times, hitting him twice in the chest. The man fell. A las beam missed Jolan's face by centimeters. No time to mess around. Jolan boiled the guard's brain inside his skull. The inquisitor kept on running. The hive was a very big place, easy to hide in for a man with his skills and resources. He just needed to not use his powers to give himself away to auspexes and psykers and get enough distance. He just needed to get a little further and then this would be over. Sindar Extos activated her vox as she rose off the floor. "This is Extos. Target is loose at the spaceport level. Jexan is down. I have lost contact." "Understood," a strong female voice replied. "A lock down of the entire hive section is underway. Reinforcements will be en route. Hunt him. Yardilon out."
  2. The two Arbites stood by the door of the luxury suite in the upper tiers of Hive Aronax. The black armoured enforcers held suppression shields and shock mauls in hand. Behind them was another pair, with suppression shields a autopistols sporting long magazines. Sindar Extos raised her fist to signal readiness. The vox was pulsed twice. The shock mauls swung, smashing the hardened plas door to scrap. The enforcers entered, followed by the pair with autopistols. Bullets were flying in both direction. The giant Kauth and Sindar went through next. Both of the Aribiters were armed with combat shotguns. Sindar's alternated heat seeking Executioner rounds with anti-personnel shot. Every member of the raiding team was equipped with a techward on their fighting harness that would command the Executioner rounds not to target them, making heat seekers much safer to use in a close quarter brawl. Three dead men were sprawled in the antechamber of the apartments. They were dressed in the synth leather coat over synth silk clothes of high priced muscle. One had had his chest staved in by a shock maul, the other two had been gunned down. The four leading enforcers were already pushing into through the door and into the next room, bullets and las beams smacking against their suppression shields or glancing off their armour as they advanced. Sindar pushed forward into the sprawling living room and fired at the big man by the minibar, who was blazing away with a heavy slug thrower. The Executioner round took him in the shoulder and almost severed his arm. She splattered red all over his chest with the shot cartridge and he fell. She fired at the gun men hiding behind the disintegrating sofa as she advanced into the room. Where were the cultists? Not the flunkies and bodyguards, but the men Inquisitor Yardilon had wanted to take. The men who were meeting with Sevran Dask. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The walls were nowhere near thick enough to obscure the boom of the Arbites combat shotguns. Jolan's foretelling had struck moments before the raid and the inquisitor had bolted suddenly to the side room. Not ten seconds latter the Arbites assault had begun and the hope of brokering a deal with the regional leaders of the Golden Dream had gone up in smoke. "Move!" Jolan ordered. Let the heretics slow down the Arbites while they attempted to buy their leaders an opportunity to escape. Jolan knew better. Escape was going to be **** near impossible. Steban, a big, violent man Jolan had recruited on Steaderstrad lead the way. The thug wore armour underneath dark billowing silks and kept his hair shaved and his beard trimmed short. He knew nothing of the true mission, being merely the kind of expendable asset any good chaos magus always had nearby. Danell Keys took up the rear. "**** boss!" Steban snarled. "No way here." And indeed there wasn't as the room Steban had found was merely a bathroom the size of a small apartment, with a ceiling almost four meters above the floor and a water fall running along the far wall. It seemed to be mostly marble and gold leaf. Jolan extended his psychic senses. Extensive practice in the art of farseeing had made certain formerly impossible efforts merely strenuous. There were no hostile souls above. He gathered the power of the warp into two terrible rending claws and ripped through the ceiling. Metal and plas parted under the telekinetic impulse, pipes burst and floor above was torn open. The talons closed on Keys with great care and carried him to the floor above. "Us next?" said Steban nervously. "No," said Jolan. His efforts here must have registered on a psi tracker or on the mind of a sensitive. One, or both, would be along on this operation. Keys carried with him what he needed to evade and survive. Jolan Gix would betray the assassin if he attempted to follow. Jolan rushed from the room and towards the window on the outer wall. "Boss?" asked Steban. The fight had died down now as the Arbites had not needed long to overcome the cultists. Jolan took another exit from this room, which lead to a bedroom with a glorious view of the smog laden lower levels of Hive Aronax and the ravaged earth beyond. The leaders of the Golden Dream had commanded considerable wealth, enough to own luxuries spire edge apartments. The windows were massively thick slabs of transpex armour, but they were still windows. "Hold the door," Jolan ordered. Shouting and the sound of heavy boots came closer. Steban hesitated, a long barreled laspistol in his hands. Jolan didn't wait for a response. He drew upon his power and bored through the window with a blindingly bright lance of blue-white fire. Steban was firing out of the room, his laspistol making a cracking sound as each bolt seared air. Booms answered and Steban's skull exploded, splattering blood, bone, and grey matter over the carpets and walls. Jolan's hole was now about two meters in diameter. Good enough. The inquisitor stepped through the window and into space, gliding down and around the spire on wings of telekinetic force. There was no way that they would fail to detect this display of power, but he would soon be well out of their range and it was unlikely that they possessed the means to follow him. His flight path took him out of line of sight of the window as he circled part of the hive city. Not far below him were the out thrust landing pads and docking ports for the starships that regularly anchored in high orbit, shipping good to and from the hive. He altered course towards one the nearer pads. Once he landed it would be an easy matter to exit his arrival point and vanish into the hive's teeming millions.
  3. Melina bent over the table, pointing to line on the contract. She smiled and made eye contact with the middle aged man across the table from her. "If you would just sign here, honoured," she shifted her finger over, "and place you seal here." In his younger days Rojon Hersk might have been called heavy set but now could only truthfully be called fat. The layers of brocade velvets, heavy with threads of precious metals, could only disguise the extent of his bulk, not hide it. He picked up the stylus, smiled back at the most attractive woman he had ever met, and signed. He touched an inset on his signet ring, activating the heating elements and plunging it into the the piece of wax on the contract. He slid it across the jet black Vitrian glass table. She smiled. The pale woman behind her chair did not, but then again she never did. "It is done," he said. "We are in business honoured. May both our houses prosper from it." Melina raised her hand and made gesture. A demur young woman brought a tray with amnesic and glasses. The girl filled the glasses and put one before Melina and three in front of the head of the Hersk Consortium, his most favored son, and his right hand man. Melina raised her glass in salute. "To the prosperity of both our houses." Lightning flashed in the window behind her. "It appears the storm is worsening honoured. May I offer the suggestion that you depart swiftly before it gets even worse or abandon travel all together and take advantage of my hospitality." "Your words are courteous as always," replied Rojon and he rose from the couch, "but I have appointments later in the city." Melina rose and embraced Rojon, kissing him lightly on the trip. "Then be swift and be safe." He blushed slightly and bowed, before retreating from the room. Shala waited until he was gone. "That was cruel." "It was effective," said Melina, cold as ice. "He'll rut with a half dozen whores who look like me and we have our gold plated contract. You're in a bad mood. Is it playing bodyguard that doesn't agree with you or being cooped up when the weather like this. Or something else?" The commissar shrugged and turned toward the full length windows. Melina signaled the assassin playing servant girl to leave them. The killer bowed and retreated from the room. Melina put her fingers on the commissar's shoulder. Nofield almost jumped. "It's me, isn't it?" Nofield pulled away. "Is it the role we must play or something else?" Shala opened her mouth to say something and then the door slid open, spoiling the moment. Hethor D'eckor walked in. Melina recovered quickly. "I thought you would be busy training the men." "I am," said the Guard veteran. "Sort of. Decided to check on you." "Help yourself the amnesic," Melina said as Nofield took the opportunity to drift away. "I will," he said. He walked into an adjoining room and returned with a glass mug, filling it full of amnesic. He sat down on the couch with a grunt and then sipped. "Nice." "It should be," Melina replied. "Don't worry, its not goin' to waste," said Hethor as he took another drink. "How'd it go?" "They signed. On my terms. They'll still make money." "Just not as much as we will," Hethor finished. "Doin' your job well." "And what about yours?" "Testin'." "Testing?" "Seeing what my under officers will do with me gone and without a schedule but having been told earlier my general expectations." "You're monitoring them?" "And have a few spies." "Clever. And here I thought you were just a dumb brute," Melina said with a smile. "Yeah, full of surprises, that's me. You should have a drink commissar." "No thank you," said Nofield. "If I'm not needed?" Melina inclined her head. Shala strode across the room and out the door. Hethor let out a long whistle. "She's in a mood. She needs to get laid bad. Hell, I need to get laid bad and I ain't even close to that." He took another drink. "You?" "Me?" "Yeah, you. Need to get laid?" "That a proposition?" she asked raising an eyebrow. "If you want it to be one," he said. She laughed. "I'll consider it. Do you really think that's her problem?" He shrugged. "Could be. That or doin' all the things that a commissar isn't supposed to be. Or both. Or maybe somethin' else." He shrugged. "So the cash will really start flowin'?" "Yes," she said with a smile. "Inside of a year we'll be big players, locally." "Then we should celebrate," he said, laying his mug down and standing up. He grabbed her and pulled her to her with the deceptive speed he had employed to kill countless men. He kissed her firmly on the lips as she squirmed in his arms and then she returned it. He broke the embrace. "Now did you like that or should I be goin' somewhere else to celebrate?" "Somewhere else," she said frostily and then smiled. "My bedroom is just over there." She took his hand and led the way.
  4. Jolan Gix did not linger long on Terex's World. The cultists had one more task they wished for him, a murder of a high official. They unknowingly gave themselves to him with that request for it was not hard then to find out what interests would benefit from that official's death. They had their own murderers, some of whom might have been able to execute the job cleanly, but they wanted surety of the trail not leading back to them. So Jolan gave the order to Danell and the official died in what appeared to be random street violence. The identity of those who had ordered the murder was carefully remembered, to be forwarded to those few who knew Jolan Gix still lived. For a time they were be permitted to live, to grow and spread the word that Sevren Dask could be relied upon to get things done. So it was they left, along with certain valuables, aboard the trader Silver Heart and traversed the warp until they reached the world of Veridius. There, surprisingly, Mikal Camron made contact with a chaos blood cult. The young lieutenant was not quite as young as he once was and was able to find them by tracking the patterns of murders and suspicious accidents. They were wary at first, but they were awed by Jolan's power and the brutal deaths he executed upon their membership when they sought his life. Jolan instructed them in new arts and pushed them into a more ambitious, and reckless, path. Soon enough the cult would come to the attention of the Arbites and the Inquisition and be inevitably destroyed, but for now they provided a new cult tattoo and further proof of Sevren Dask's skill and devotion. On Tamil IV he met with the decadent sons of prosperous shippers and minor aristocrats. Gard Vikal provided entry into their ranks with knowledge on how to produce pleasurable new drugs for them. Supplied with counter agents by Gard and protected by his own growing skill at biomancy Jolan imbibed potent liquor and narcotics at parties. His list of names to be forwarded grew and he acquired a new cult mark just above the elbow on his left arm. He joined an expedition with one of the prosperous merchants sons he met on Tamil IV. They embarked upon a world not marked on any Imperial chart and descended to its surface. They fought their way through a horde of savage, red skinned humanoid xenos, matching slugger and lasgun against bow and spear. After a titanic slaughter they breached the xenos grand temple and took from them great riches, including psychoactive crystals. The crystals were far too dangerous to leave in the hands of cultists, but Jolan could not act directly against them. Instead he arranged for a rival faction in the cult to hear about the discovery of the crystals in time to disrupt the grand working. Blood flowed in the streets in sufficient quantity that the Arbites could not help but notice and then the Inquisition came. The surviving cultists scattered like bugs, some to other stars. Most of them carried the name of Sevren Dask with them. They were not the only ones. Those who screamed their last in black Inquisition cells named names. One of those names was Sevren Dask. And so it was, a little more than two years after Jolan Gix's presumed death, the name of the dangerous heretic and agent of chaos Sevren Dask was entered in the Inquisition's record.
  5. Jolan brushed the sink taps with his telekinesis, turning them on. The inquisitor grabbed a small scrub brush and stuck his hands under the flow, scrubbing away at the caked on blood. He began to scrub rapidly. He had known that he would have to do this, sooner or latter, but that knowledge had been no comfort. He had not merely been a participant in a sacrifice to one of the Ruinous Powers, but had wielded the knife. He had cut the flesh, spilled the blood, taken the organs, and ended a life and done it not in the Emperor's service, as he had done so many times, but in the service of Chaos. That his devotion was a lie, the victim doomed anyway, and that his presence was a future death sentence for every cultist there was not much of a comfort. He scrubbed harder. More flakes of dried blood came off and circled the drain. It, and Keys's assassination, had cemented his status among the heretics. They had talked favors, plans, and payments and Jolan had gained a very good understanding of how far their network extended and what resources they commanded. He had also agreed to one more task for them. "Sevren?" a voice asked from the bathroom doorway. Jolan stopped in mid scrub and turned. "Yes Gard?" Unlike the rest of them, Gard Vikal didn't require a new identity. Decades spent as a underground technologicist made that unnecessary. "Are you alright?" "No," replied Jolan, "I'm not." "Can I help?" "No, its just something I have to work through." He scrubbed harder. This was a necessary step, he told himself. He had killed hundreds when necessary. He had sentenced thousands of acroflagellation. He had even ordered Exterminatus when required. One death, in the Emperor's service even if dressed in a lie, was nothing. But it wasn't. It was the first of many deaths that would be committed in the name of the Great Enemy and would aid him in the short term. It was treason and murder by almost any reckoning. Only one thing could justify them and that one thing was success. A crushing, long term victory over a vast heretic conspiracy. "Then I had better win," Jolan said softly. "Gard," he said louder. "Get everyone together. We have one more thing to do before we leave this dirt ball." "As you wish," said Gard. Jolan looked down at his fingers. They were red and raw. He flexed his fingers and curled them into fists. Images of Maladar gutting the gold masked cultists with his lightning claws as they feebly tried to flee or fight back danced in his head. That would have to be enough, for now. He turned off the taps, put the brush back on the counter, and dried his hands. Duty called. Just one more atrocity to commit and then he would be finished here. Better sooner than latter. The impulse to burn them all was strong and giving into would waste all his work here.
  6. Jolan approached Kajan's booth. His hammer men let him pass. The heretic was wearing a gaudy suit of white and lemon yellow silk that was, in Jolan's opinion, in terrible taste. The witch was with him, as always, and wore a broad brimmed black hat and veil over a filmy black dress. "Sevren," Kajan said with a smile. Jolan smiled back. The heretic would stab him in the back in an instant, of course. "I bring good news," the inquisitor said with a smile. Kajan nodded. "I heard. Vancour recently suffered a fatal bout of bullet to the head disease. You get things done fast." Jolan shrugged. "When I see opportunities, I take them." In truth, he hadn't. The local thugs may have been impressed by Vancour's defences, but Keys hadn't been. He had surveyed the area for several hours and then made the kill. It had not been, in Keys's opinion, a notable accomplishment. Kajan smiled and nodded at Jolan's remark. "I'll cover my end, don't worry about that. What are you up to next?" He gestured for Jolan to sit and the inquisitor did so. The witch poured him a glass of the local whiskey, which was vile to be polite about it. "Maybe do another job or two, collect more money, maybe learn something, see if I can find a likely looking lad or two, and then back to the stars." "Leaving eh?" "I have ambitions," said Jolan with a shrug. "I have to take them a step at a time, but I intend to take those steps. If Fate or some Divine Architect were to grease my way, I would have no objections, of course." "Of course. There is going to be a . . . . . private gathering soon. A few select members. I would like for you to participate. You might be able to make some new connections or find some work there. You know, grease the way." Kajan raised his glass and Jolan raised his in solute. The two were smiling like maniacs and then downed the liquor. Smile, thought Jolan, smile while you still can. Your path ends in an Inquisition cell with every strand of information being torn out of you and your entire heretic cult being purged. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The night black aircar came for Jolan alone. Inside was Kajan, his form hidden inside a black robe and his face covered by a golden mask that depicted a sinister, laughing fat man. His witch and one of his thugs was also present, the girl wearing a domino mask over form fitting black leather. The car rose and flew out of the city, over the vast herds being driven to slaughter, and into the endless expanse of pasture land that was now somewhat vacant. The car descended, landing next to five other similar ones. Three men shrouded in long coats stood guard. Their faces were covered by targeting unit that allowed them to pierce the darkness and use their weapons with absolute precision. Two of them carried long lases, the third carried light weight missile launcher of greater sophistication than that used by most Guard units. Kajan took him past these sentinels and towards the two rings of chaos worshippers. The outer ring was made up of guards and retainers. Their faces were obscured and some of them openly carried weapons. The witch and the muscle stayed at the outer ring. Jolan followed Kajan up the hill toward the inner ring. It wasn't much of a hill and its only notable feature was the dead tree atop it. A meter and a half long slab of bloodstone hovered half a meter off the ground, courtesy of suspensor units on its underside. There were five other members of the inner circle, each one wearing black robes and a golden mask depicting a sinister caricature. "This is Sevren Dask," said Kajan. "He is brother from off world and has been of some use to me, and by extension, to our order. I believe he and his followers are capable of assisting us with several of our long standing problems." One of them spoke, a woman with a smiling crone mask. "He is an outsider. He should not have been brought without approval." Kajan replied. "He knows only me here. He cannot betray anyone else. He can, however, help us." A man with the mask of a chubby child spoke. "You seem sure of that." "I sense the Architect's hand in his coming. And again, he cannot betray you." "Very well," said the crone. "Let us commence. Our guest will do the honours." The others nodded. Two thugs emerged from the air car carrying a large travel bag. They grunted as they hauled it up the hill to the altar and then dropped it on the ground. They stood panting for a moment and then opened it. Jolan was not surprised to see an adolescent boy inside. His face and limbs were marked with red pustules, probably the result of some kind of local pox outbreak. His symbolic significance as a sacrifice was obvious. He boy was securely bond with plastic ties and gagged. The thugs placed him on the altar stone and then struck him with a shock wand. The boy gasped and convulsed and while he did so the thugs slit his bonds, drawing blood as they did so and then resecured his limbs around the altar block. They did so with the ease and routine of long practice. The chubby child turned to him. "Brother, will you do the honours?" Jolan reached into his jacket and pulled out a wavy bladed dagger with a golden hilt. "Your knife or mine?" he asked mildly.
  7. The club wasn't exactly private, but it was mostly filled with a certain kind of clientele. Drug dealers, fences, thieves, thugs, and underworld soldier or hammer men in the local cant. Jolan had taken enough time to learn that. Two of them bore mild marks of mutation, one a huge mountain of blubber and muscle with patches of scales on his skin and the other a man with fused fingers on his left hand. He controlled his instinct to recoil. A worshiper of chaos would be neither shocked nor disgusted to see them so he must appear to be unmoved. Keys took a seat at the bar, away from the stage where a red head with a bad breast augmentation and no clothes writhed unconvincingly in a success full quest to liberate hard currency from criminal scum. Jolan proceeded further into the club without him. One of Kajan's enforcers, no hammer men, directed him toward the back booth. The witch was still there, staring through him with her sky-blue eyes. She wore a spiked leather collar and a gauzy black dress over black underclothes. Another hammer man was by the side of the booth. "Sevren," said Kajan. Jolan nodded in acknowledgment, resisting the idea to unleash Keys on the club and drag the heretic to the darkest cell he could find and begin a thorough and brutal interrogation. For Jolan's plan to work this heretic must not only survive, but prosper. In the short term. "Kajan," said Sevren. "Thanks for agreeing to the meeting so quickly." "Sit down. What do you wish to discuss?" The heretic took a sip of an amber coloured liquid that was undoubtedly grain alcohol of dubious quality. "I was attacked the night of our meeting," said Jolan as he slid into the booth. "Oh?" "By men working for Vancour. A rival of yours, I take it?" "Yes. Serellia here is my good luck charm against assassinations." I'll bet, thought Jolan who merely nodded. "A spy of his in the crowd must have seen you and tipped off a team of hammers who were looking for an opportunity." "Convenient." "An advantage of having our particular patron." He traced the squiggle rune of Tzeentch on the table. "My advantage since his men proved to be unable to do the job. I take it you are here about formalizing an alliance." "Not exactly," said Gix. "Then what?" "What is it worth to you for Vancour to disappear forever?" Kajan laughed. "You've got a big sack, I like that in a man, but you won't be able to touch him." The witch Serellia just gazed at him with her big blue eyes. "You may think that, he may think that, but I can assure you that's not the case." "You're one crazy son of a grox, but you may be crazy enough to pull this off." The witch still hadn't blinked yet. "You won't be paying me until after, so what do you have to lose?" Jolan said. Kajan's smile faded. "What is it you really want?" Jolan hesitated and then spoke softly. "Power. Knowledge. Allies. All those things that are necessary for victory. Spectacular victory. I want what every man secretly dreams of. The Eye of God." The witch continued staring. "You really think that will come to you?" said Kajan. "I will make it come to me." Kajan smiled. He gestured for the bartender to bring another glass. He refilled his own and then filled the other pushing it towards Jolan. "The Eye," said Kajan and downed his glass. "The Eye," said Jolan and then downed the firey liquid in one gulp. "About Vancour . . ." he said as he put the glass back on the table. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Gard's apparatus hummed as the savant finished his sweep. "Clear," he said. "Good," said Jolan. They were holed up in dingy apartments typically occupied by bottom lower management or foremen in the factory complexes. "Situation?" "Medical tests continue to be green zone," said Gard. "No sign of delayed complications. I am still in the process of renewing my smuggler and underworld contacts." "Minkal?" "A lot of sitting around and waiting Inqu-" Mikal Camron began and then stopped at Jolan's glare. "Sorry." "Not as much as we'll be if you slip up again in public. The work I'm going to ask of you will be damned hard. This is the easy part." "Drav?" Danell Keys was serene. "Yes?" Jolan handed Keys a slip of paper. "This is where Vancour's holed up. Some kind of virtual fortress. We're going to take him out for a substantial payout, and more importantly, a reputation boost with the local cultists. Recon." The assassin nodded. "Opportunity?" "Take it," said Gix. "Vancour is one heretic we don't have to keep around." Keys gave no indication he heard but opened the door and walked out. "Sevren, this is wrong," said Camron. "I understand why, but this is going-" "As far as we have to. We risk much, even our immortal souls. This enemy assists in the damnation of billions. It is worth the risk. Remember, it can only **** you if you give in to it. If you submit." "To assist them, even temp-" "If a heretic participates in a mass, he is still a heretic. Such is his nature. The Emperor is greater than these mad chaos gods, who fear to challenge him unless they are united and shielded by proxies. Faith in Him, in His mission, is our shield. What is forbidden to others because they are weak is demanded of us because we are strong. We must hide ourselves among the enemy so we can find his lair and burn him out. We embrace risk to do so, but the burden of knowledge has always been carried by the Inquisition. With knowledge comes the possibility of error, of misjudgment, of choosing poorly. As always, we keep our faith and shoulder the burdens that we alone can bear." "As you say," said Camron, not entirely convinced.
  8. Jolan traced the eight pointed star of chaos on the table with his right index finger. Kajan's eyes followed Jolan's motions. "Interesting. How do I know you're not a Throne agent?" "Because I wouldn't be here if I was. A platoon of Arbites would be. Suspicion is more than enough." "True," said Kajan. "That doesn't mean I should trust you." "I'm not asking for that," said Jolan. "I'm merely suggesting we could help each other." "I'm listening." "I'm new on world. Only have a few faithful followers, but we know our business. We could be very useful." Kajan studied Jolan. "Perhaps you could. Your name?" "Sevren Dask." "Sevren Dask. I'll be in touch." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jolan, Mikal, and Danell walked through the darkened maze of corrugated metal sheds and equipment huts. It was a fair distance to their apartments and not a safe trip either. The combine enforcers often engaged in extortion as a way of enhancing their pay packets, criminal gangs and opportunists often lurked in the shadows, and the danger of over dose triggered psychotic rampage were ever present risks. "Is it really that easy?" said Mikal. "I thought it would be harder." "We aren't in yet," Jolan replied. "And yes, there are so many cults everywhere that they can't possibly know each other. That and the fact that the Imperium doesn't try to infiltrate them. We just exterminate them where we find them." "And this world is worse than most," said Keys. "Lots of interstellar commerce, lots of tolerated illegal vices, the ranks of the enforcers riddled with corruption and laxity. That's why this world was chosen." "Everyone needs to start somewhere," said Jolan. Something skittered across the edge of his psychic awareness. "Trouble," he hissed. Camron dashed and took cover to the right, Keys to the left. Jolan followed the no longer quite so young lieutenant. "What is it?" whispered Mikal. In other circumstances an auspex would answer that question but their archeotech gear had been left behind on the Eternal Will. "There," Jolan hissed. Men darted through the shadows. "I don't think they're friendly," Mikal hissed back. Shots from Keys's gun shattered the darkness. The assassin was using a long barreled Hevucar 10-X, a gun with a big bore, and in this case, tungsten carbide tipped fragmenting rounds which will penetrate flak armour and mangle flesh. One of the shadows fell. The others opened fire. A stream of bullets and a volley of lasfire converged on where Keys had fired from, but the assassin was already gone. Brilliant ruby beams and unseen bullets tore through sheet metal and riddled that side of the shack. The tracer effects of the lasers helped Jolan find the shooter. His growing skill with biomancy could be combined with his well honed mastery of pyromancy for deadly effect. The shooter twitched, screamed and collapsed, steam rising from every orifice, as Jolan boiled his blood. The inquisitor stepped away, around the other side of the shed as he wrapped himself in a telekinetic shield. Keys was advancing with his dark glasses on. They were engaged in light amplification and flash suppression mode, an expensive and exotic piece of kit but not one beyond the means to acquire in Helopolis. To him, night was almost as good as day. He raised his gun again. Target was thirty meters away. He fired three times in rapid succession. Target slumped. Keys vanished back into the darkness. Camron didn't have the benefit of night vision nor Jolan Gix's psychic powers, but he was far from easy meat. He reached into his long leather coat and drew a cut down riot shotgun. He flipped out the folding stock, shouldered the weapon and put ten sprays of pellets in the direction of one of their attackers in four seconds. He then dived away, rolled, and disposed of the magazine as return fire ripped through the shed. The souls of his attackers blazed clearly through the warp in Jolan's witch sight. He inhaled deeply and then performed blasphemy, unleashing a psychic attack which drew upon the energies associated with the Ruinous Powers. His eyes glowed gold and his attackers screamed and writhed, struck down by the power of the Withering Gaze. The fell to the dirt, their hands curled into claws and clutching at their own flesh as the awful power of Tzeentch overwhelmed their minds and crippled their bodies. Jolan walked among them, a Hevucar 10-X in his hands. He briefly stopped at each body and two shots rang out as he put a double tapped each one in the head. He stopped at the last one, a burly man who had half recovered from Jolan's sorcerous attack. He looked up to see Jolan standing over him. "Magus, please, mercy." "Why?" said Jolan as he prepared more terrible sorcery. "Magus, I can serve you. Serve you well. I can aid you against your enemy." "Name him," said Jolan "Vancour. His man saw you speaking with Kajan. He and Kajan are rivals. He wanted-" "Yes, I get the picture," said Gix. "Thank you." He shot the heretic twice in the face. Jolan turned back to his retainers. "Lets get out of here before we have to bribe our way through an army of enforcers."
  9. Near the slaughter factories lie row upon row of sheet metal walled storage buildings. A few guards patrol this area of the fields, insuring the security of the combine's property. One of the buildings is not like the others. A burly guard in combine security uniform waits at the door. Men and women in shining silks and glossy leathers pass by him and went inside. A few are refused admittance. Several of these argue and some of those are let in. The rest give up and leave. Not all of those who enter wear the glitzy clothes of bored young aristocrats or the bombastic and aggressive clothing of the crime lords and their retainers. Some wear the more subdued style of professional retainers, shepherding their charges through the underworld or flamboyant styles of concubines. The last group of exceptions are heavily covered and shrouded. They are the reason that places like this exist. The Vice leads Gix's party in. Jolan and his retainers wear long leather coasts fashionable among minor criminals with delusions of toughness but disdained as summer wear by the truly deadly men they wish to emulate as drawing too much attention and being too **** hot in the summer. The Vice is known; he and his men are let in without question. The inside is noisy and brightly lit. Lights hang from the ceiling and men and women were arguing and laughing. A dirt ring was in the center of the floor surrounded by tables and standing space. Several rising rows of collapsible benches allowed even more customers to be packed in. Stands at the side take a continuous stream of bettors. Blood sports aren't illegal on Terex's World, but are strictly the domain the Princes of Blood who frown on extra legal competition. The Princes are conservative in the extreme when it comes to forms of combat allowed and there are many who hunger for novelty. Thus places like this exist. Aping the behavior of their social betters, the crime lords and gang chieftains often settle their disputes through the performance of champions in the ring. Such settlements do not always hold, but to go against it costs face and so is not lightly done. The Vice leads Jolan, Mikal, and Danell to a table near ringside. In this place, it is the crime lords who are the privileged elite, not the blood hungry scions of noble blood. The taboo nature of the inversion is another reason to come. Here and there a haughty aristo girl flirts with a gang leader, an unthinkable activity in other places. Such liaisons never lasted, but were a staple of this place. "I upheld my part," said the Vice. He wanted to be paid and leave. These off worlders were trouble, he could smell it. He just wanted their money and their departure from his life. "Not yet," said the man who called himself Sevren Dask. "After the introductions." The Vice might turn on them then, but the Mikal Camron had proven himself to be a capable fighter and Keys was always utterly lethal. A violent demonstration would help, not hurt, him in establishing a favorable relationship with those he wished to meet. A bell was rung. The lights dimmed, all except one focused on the center of the ring. A slim man with speaker box in hand stepped into the spotlight. He wore tight fitting pants and a gold embroidered tunic of red silk. "Greetings honoured. Our first fight is a status bout, between Bedevore Smesh and a new comer, Truden Vor. No weapons, to surrender, unconsciousness, or exiting the ring." The last rarely happened unless the loser was literally hurled or kicked over the dirt line. The first fighter was a scarred brute, naked to the waist, with hands wrapped in leather strips. The second was shorter, but broader, with a often broken nose and a look of fierce desperation on his face. He too was stripped to the waist and wore leather strips on his hands. Both of them had the olive skin that was the most common shade on this part of Terex's world. The fight was over quickly. The shorter man was strong, but had little skill at defending himself. The taller rained blows upon his chest and abdomen. The shorter man blocked many of the strikes, but not all of them. The outcome of the fight was rapidly becoming clear. Jolan wasn't paying any attention to the fight. "There," he said. He pointed. "Who's that?" he asked the Vice. The Vice squinted at the direction Jolan was pointing. A lean, dark man was being attended to by two girls, one dark skinned, the other shockingly pale. Two big leather clad guards insured that their employers personal space was undisturbed. "Kajan. He's involved. Lots of middle man stuff." And what better way to meet influential people and acquire all sorts of items with no questions asked than as an underworld middle man and vice peddler? "How well do you know him?" Jolan asked. His gaze was focused on the white skinned girl. She was blue eyed and black haired and rather pretty if one preferred petite women. Jolan was much more interested in the haze of psyker static coming from her. Her control wasn't as good as his, but it was better than most. "We don't operate in the same circles. His . . . . . . clientele is more important." Jolan nodded. "Then you are just about done." The inquisitor got up and walked around the ring as the taller fighter continued to beat the shorter to a pulp. Moving through the crowd wasn't easy, but he managed to force his way through. One of the guards glared at him as he closed in. The witch tapped Kajan's arm. The crime lord was wearing a long, deliberately ripped jacket of sky blue silk over a half open shirt of white silk with billowing sleeves. Three bejeweled rings glinted on his hands, which by crime lords standards was tasteful restraint. His dark eyes met Jolan's sky blue ones. He motioned for his guard to let Jolan approach. "Who are you?" the crime lord asked. "I've come a long way. I'm looking to for like minded men." "What kind of men?" "Those who understand that there true interests don't lie with orthodoxy." "And why would you think I am such a man?" "The unregistered psyker sitting next to you," replied Jolan. "That's enough for you to burn." "And how would you know that?" "She's not the only psyker witch in the room," said Jolan with a smile. "I could be very useful to you . . . . brother." "Maybe we should talk."
  10. There's no need to change the stats used by Niman and Soresu. No class uses just one stat and the saber forms reflect this. Consular is called Consular for a reason. It's a social class as well as a knowledge and force use nerdery and its skills and abilities mostly use Willpower, Intellect, and Presence. Mystic does the same. Sentinel uses a lot of Cunning but also uses Agility and Intellect and so on and so forth. Guardian uses just about everything. So stat wise it's unnecessary. When we look at flavor it is a negative. While one can make various arguments with good reason that style x should use stat y, each Lightsaber Talent Tree has been built with one particular stat in mind. Makashi uses Presence, Ataru agility, and so forth. The trees are built with abilities like Makashi Flurish and Strategic Form as both useful talents which are closely linked fluff-wise with the baseline attribute for those styles. So change that and you're going to have to do rebuild some trees. As for Niman's place among the lightsaber styles, the fluff says it is generalist foundational style that was incorporated the use of telekinesis to supplement it's arsenal. That makes it an excellent choice of a first style before learning more specialized styles and an excellent second choice after learning one of said more specialized style. Niman's poor combat reputation arose from the fact that it tended not to place too much emphasis on blade work and that it was frequently used by less combat orientated Jedi who invested less of their efforts into mastering the saber in favour of developing their other skills. This leads to three observations: (1) A determined student can put the time into honing his blade work, (2) A more combat orientated Jedi would put more time and energy into developing his or her blade work, and (3) both of these qualities applied to Exar-Kun. Lastly, the highly lethal dual and double blade using Jar'Kai style (more Exar-Kun) is a Niman derivative. In other words, its good to have it as part of your arsenal and it can be utterly devastating if you put enough work into it.
  11. Mainstream society considers treating droids as property acceptable, but mainstream Trandoshan society is cool with hunting other intelligent beings for sport and that doesn't get a Trandoshan Jedi off the hook if he scalps Wookies so neither does the legality of droid ownership get Jedi off the hook. It's not the law or society we're talking about, it's the Jedi's relationship to the Force. The higher level Star Wars droids are clearly intelligent beings while the lower order ones are clearly more questionable or subsapient. As for how much Conflict is appropriate for destroying droids, that's going to depend on the situation. Is he defending himself or others? Are alternatives to violence workable or impractical? What are the likely consequences to leaving the droid intact. Is he dealing with a higher order intelligence or a rote processing war machine? The answer can be complicated. A rogue assassin droid is a threat to everyone around it and the Jedi (and the GM) may feel his obligation to safe guard innocence mandates that he attempt to destroy it rather than sneak away. Similarily, tearing apart stupid battle droids because it's amusing is worth Conflict because its motivated by cruelty even if the victims are lower order droids.
  12. But if they don't have personalities they you can't have psychotic necrons with delusions of godhood, armed with malfunctioning Clarketech, and cackling madly while they chase your players through eldritch cyclopean tombs on worlds that were dead before mankind took their first trembling steps into space. And that would be wrong.
  13. I don't ever recall reading anyting definitive about the minimum size for a warp capable craft. In the older fluff there are several examples of small warp capable craft, but that's very old fluff. Small warp engines might not be archeotech. There's lots of reasons not to build them that small. The engines are clearly expensive and made in limited quantities. Making a small ship warp capable is, even if it is not archeotech, an flagrant expenditure of vast amounts of wealth for little return. Far better to make them for a freighter capable of hauling megatons of cargo or a warship capable of projecting the Imperium's might than a glorified landing craft. Only an absurdly powerful individual or institution could have it done and such a vessel would be good for only a limited variety of uses. As for the vessel in the Abnett story at the beginning of DH2, it's clearly refered to as a landing craft. Which is good for the characters because it means that they have a way off world besides their wrecked dropship and however their metal faced boss arrived. Edit: You also want to be in vessel large enough not to go stir crazy and with a very well equiped galley if you get stuck in the warp for any length of time.
  14. Yes the Jedi gains the 10 Conflict for being immersed in the Dark Side from the evil resurrection (not my favorite rule, but I understand why it's there) but not any Conflict for heinous murder unless he's a willing participant. Conflict is there to represent choice and its consequences in a universe where there is a Force which has a Light Side and a Dark Side. It shouldn't not be a tool for GM's to beat their players with via railroads.
  15. 0 Conflict. Being tortured doesn't give you Conflict, unless you give into the Dark Side. A darksider murdering someone to save you doesn't generate Conflict unless you somehow cooperate in the act. Saying you'll join a darksider also generates 0 Conflict if you're playing for time or trying to trick them. The real issue is what comes next when the darksiders test the Jedi's commitment and that's going to be next on the agenda. The typical choice in these kinds of situations is something you can't come back from. Palpatine had Anakin slaughter the younglings in the Jedi Temple and while there may not be a bunch of Jedi kids lying around to conveniently murder, whatever is asked for is going to leave blood on the lightsider's hands. This is where Conflict happens.
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