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Raith

Campaign Diary: The search for victory [New Entry: May 28, 2013]

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THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 20: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, "Overhive" Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 161.799.M41 to 162.799.M41

Despite the sudden flash of light taking down over half of the attacking horde of hive-primitives the rest seemed to simply ignore the effects with an almost religious fervour falling upon the Acolytes with long knives of sharpened metal wrapped with sinew for a hilt.

Nari-ann and Ashram took the brunt of the attackers, knives flashed but were turned away by the superior armour of the guardsman though several lucky blows snuck past the Assassins defences finding weak points in his protection and drawing blood.

Arl moved to support Nari-ann while Arn took his hammer to those assaulting Ashram, a single blow from the blessed weapon sent one of the primitives flying back and the priest had his shotgun out in a flash to deliver the finishing blow.

With so many of the attackers beginning to recover from the blinding effects of the grenade the Sisters of Battle turned their guns on them, shells from Narla’s slayer wrought havoc on the fallen while Trauma took turns firing her laspistol at those on the ground and those attacking the guardsmen.

Despite the furious assault of the primitives the Acolytes were soon victorious and the scum fell back in panicked retreat throwing themselves over the barricade as their leader fled further down the passageway. The acolytes took stock of their situation as quickly took off in pursuit clambering over the barricade and hurried onwards.

The short corridor led into an open space, an old manufactorum space from the rusting chains and gantries dangling from the ceiling. The space was scattered with the ramshackle huts of the primitives crafted from discarded iron and tin. The primitive dwellers of the village took to their heels scattering swiftly down ancient vents and conduits, the acolytes gave pursuit firing at the feeling people but quickly gave up as the population ran in too many directions. The chase brought the group to the centre of the community where a massive statue stood its form of person in robes, hands to the side but stretched out palms upward. Its torso shattered and lost making its gender indeterminate.

Around the statue sat three stone and metal plinths, atop each lay a figure, the first clothed in robes of scarlet, the second wearing the uniform an carapace shell of an Adeptus Arbites the third was also similarly attired though he lacked the helmet and a ragged wound in his neck identified him as the figure the Acolytes had been in pursuit of and who had fallen through the floor.

The second Arbite was also dead, a puncture hole in his chest, wrists and ankles showing his exsanguination and subsequent evisceration, the extracted organs adorning the feet of the overlooking statue. The third figure still lived, it took only a moment to identify the figure as an adept of the Mechanicus though only one of its junior members.

With a moments work the Adept was free and introducing himself as Hack an attaché to the Adeptus Arbites, his associated squad was following some terrorists from the hive uprising and was drawn into the Overhive where they had quickly become lost and them ambushed by the primitives residing in the labyrinth. The small Arbite squad had been overwhelmed by a sudden attack after a floor collapsed beneath them. Some of the Arbites had been able to fight their way free while others including the Tech-priest were captured for use as sacrifices.

With no time to escort the Technomancer from the tunnels the Acolytes gave him the option of fending for himself or following them, a simple choice for the logically minded adept who quickly agreed to follow the group.

After a quick recheck of their position within the general coordinates of the Hive and the suspected location of their destination the Acolytes confirmed they were still heading in the correct direction and once again moved off through the labyrinthine tunnels and hallways. Hours passed as the acolytes crawled up crushed tubes, scurried over chasms of twisted metal until the geo-positioning data from their locator beacon echoed that of their quarry and the group marched out into a massive space.

Torch light played back and forth off ancient Imperial buildings, bulky and standardized pre-fab units stacked atop each other and into necessary shapes. The are was cavernous over a kilometre in size with a massive hulk of adamantine dominating the space, one of the massive black pillars that held up the hive structure pierced the center of the area.

The pillar was over 200 meters in diameter and had been found on Scintilla prier to the Imperium’s arrival The Mechanicum had welded vast platforms around the structures and the Hive had grown from there. Now centuries later one of these platforms remained largely intact the Hive having long abandoned its lofty position for the cooler shadows of the lower sections but the basic infrastructure of its initial use still remained, Administratum facilities, had-stacks, water-recyc systems, Ecclesiarchy buildings and nestled right up against the side of the immense pillar the massive edifice of a Mechanicum depot.

-Raith

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THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 21: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, "Overhive" Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 162.799.M41

The abandoned Adeptus buildings loomed large in the grey light provided by insufficient torches as the acolytes examined their surroundings. Having been awake for over 36 hours much of which had been filled with combat against cultists and abhuman primitives as well as the simply pressure of anxiety as they had worked there way into the abandoned Hive sections had finally caught up to the group and they searched for a defensible spot to rest.

An old Munitorum building seemed the best candidate, its bunker like structure devoid of windows and equipped with a large and heavy door. A quick inspection of said door showed that without power restraining bolts had locked it closed, but thankfully Hack the groups newly rescued Tech-priest was able to restore enough power through an auxiliary lock to release the bolts.

The small building contained a large administration office at its front with a heavy vault-door leading into an armoury tunnel and another corridor flanked by rooms for housing, self-contained power generator and private offices. The group briefly considered examining the passageway beyond the large vault door but quickly dismissed the idea as fatigue caught up with them. They closed the vault, established a quick watch rotation and bunked down in the ancient facility while Hack keep himself occupied trying to restart ancient machine-spirits within the buildings independent power-system.

About four hours after there impromptu camp was located Hack awoke Arn for his turn at watch reporting he was unable to revive the plasma-spirits successfully so the priest grabbed a lumen-stick and moved into the front room. It didn’t take long until Arn realised his was not the only source of light, the area beyond the bunkers front entrance was lightening and soon distinct traces of torch light and a rhythmic clunking noise could be heard.

Swiftly waking several of the nearby Acolytes the priest poked his head out of the buildings door. Almost instantly he was blinded by a surge of light as a torch beam swept over his position, but the glimpse was enough to spot a small unit of men armed in flak armour and equipped with lasguns marching through the area. At their head trundled a mobile weapon platform, its tracked wheels similar in design to a thunderfire weapon of the Adeptus Astartes rattled against the metal of the Overhives floors.

The group of armed men drew closer to the acolytes resting place, quiet conversation between the group was cut off by curt orders to keep alert for any movement. Hoping to get a better estimate on the number of potential opponents Ashram slipped over to the doorway and tried to peek out but the movement was spotted and a shout raised in alarm. Lasgun drew a bead on the doorway as Ashram pulled his head back. The acolytes raised their weapons to the opening and waited hoping the movement might be overlooked.

A terse order from the newcomers sent the weapon platform rumbling up to the opening, the group had previously ran into some of the Overhives denizens and where unwilling to take any chances. The noise of an ignition switch chimed as the weapon moved into position and the scent of promethium filled the air.

The Acolytes raced for safety rushing down the bunkers corridor and into the bunk room slamming its door shut a few seconds ahead of the weapons discharge. Flames filled the complex igniting and incinerating any combustibles, flooding through any opening.

The Inferno last a long minute with the Sisters of Battle learning against the rooms door to keep it closed and the deadly fire out. The surface of the door warped in the heat and it took a few moments to pry it from the lintel when they felt the heat diminish.

The Acolytes picked their way through the blackened corridor of their sanctuary. Anything that could burn had been consumed. The flames had been so intense that the entrance to the Munitorum depot glowed orange where the flames had entered. Carefully the acolytes checked the door and then the open area beyond. The squad and its support weapon continued to march through the area apparently satisfied that they had killed or driven off any hostiles, their line-of-march heading across the area towards an ancient Mechanicum facility abutting the massive support pillar.
Not wanting to risk a confrontation with such a heavily armed group the acolytes declined to send Ashram to follow closer despite the encompassing darkness of the location, the squads lights made tem a visible if monotone target and the group simple followed at an extreme distance.

The armed squad stopped before the ancient Machine-cult building, the massive edifice rested about a hundred meters from the Acolytes over destination. A pair of the armoured figures took up a post with the heavy weapon by the facilities primary entrance while the rest vanished within. While the armed men were not in their direct path the Acolytes dismissed the idea of trying to work around them, leaving such a threat behind them could be disastrous so again they waited, lights out, in the dark.

An hour rolled by and it was clear the inactivity of the guards had finally caused them to relax, they wandered about barely bothering to pay attention to their dark surroundings confident their heavy weapon would be a suitable deterrent. Before the acolytes could even begin to take advantage of the situation a subtle flicker of movement drew their attention to the Ministorum building they needed to reach.

The massive doors of the church slowly opened a slim gap and a pair of figures clad in tightly fitting black leather slipped through the space. They glided on silent feet towards the nearby guards, racing down the steps of the church and across the open ground as the men chatted to each other. Spotlights from the weapon platform flashed on blades wielded by the figures and the first man was transfixed by a pair of blades silently with the second man unable to release the gathered scream from his chest as he choked on the second figures blades.

The gruesome deaths occurred without hesitation and a moment later the Acolytes were alone as the assailants vanished into the Mechanicum facility. With no better opportunity and little time to think over the appearance of the silent killers the Acolytes raced towards the Church. Half way to the buildings sprawling steps Technomancer Hack and Trauma Bles changed their heading moving towards the abandoned Flamer Platform. The tech-priest freed the systems controls and quickly trundled it towards the church while the acolytes watched in confusion from the steps.

Initially hoping to traverse the weapon to the top of the steps it was quickly apparent it would only topple over on such a steep incline and Hack abandoned the machine but not before using his knowledge to safely disable its control-spirit. The group would use the device on the way out if necessary.

Briefly the acolytes paused on the threshold of the once gold-inlayed church doors, the room beyond hidden in total darkness aside from a single pillar of light. Weapons were checked and the group raced inside intent on finding the object of their foray as quickly as possible.

Eyes scanned the ancient pews and faded murals of the church before settling upon the rooms single source of light provided from a single still functioning spotlight in the churches rafters.

Hunched within the circle lay a body draped in black shell-like armour. The acolytes recognized the uniform of an Arbitrator and moved to its side throwing caution to the wind to check if the figure was still alive.

That had been all that was needed to make the ambush complete. Four figures dressed in from fitting black leather dropped from the rafters. Each was armed with twin swords, silver rapier-like blades flashed in the low light seeking the acolyte’s vitae. The cultist’s leather suits were sticked together in random patterns, the bindings a scrawl of debased language almost mind-numbingly complex in its sadism. Despite the profanity Trauma yelled out a call to the God-Emperor as her faith took hold, the Sister reacted alone among her stunned companions meeting the ambush head on while they rallied.

Within moments the church echoed with the sounds of conflict as blades rang against blades, shotguns blared out at exposed bodies and flesh was parted by metal. The assailants fought with a quiet fury quickly distracting multiple acolytes while one of the assassins closed on Sister Narla.

Blades flashed, biting deep into the Sororitas’ thighs, first one then the other. The savage blows felling the Battle Sister in a single flourish. With one of their number down and several others bloodied the fight took on a desperate pitch as the apparently unconscious Arbitrator laying on the stone floor beneath the fighting acolytes rolled onto his back and fired his shotgun...

- Raith
 

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THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 22: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, "Overhive" Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 162.799.M41

The Assassins danced around the Acolytes striking at them with blades of polished steel. With one of their number lying on the floor the group quickly stepped to taking revenge laying out one or the Assassins with a point black blast from a combat shotgun and injuring the rest with a flurry of blows and bullets.

Despite their renewed attempts the group still felt itself being pushed back and back. Arn turned away from the combat and knelt down beside the bleeding form of Narla. The Piest had no skill with which to treat her injuries but spoke a benediction over the fallen Sister. As the words echoed over the battle a single source of flickering light appear, illuminating a ragged old man in a black leather Cassock.

The newcomer choked out an order in accented High Gothic and immediately the assassins leapt away from the group. Both sides cautiously stood down as the old man hobbled into the church, hands still clenched around triggers and hilts but the violence was stalled.

Struggling over to the kneeling priest the old man leant upon a battered stave of wood and metal. HE croaked out another sentence in High Gothic towards Arn but the Novice only knew the holy words by wrote and could not understand him.

Luckily others could, Ashram and Nari-ann had learned the dialect while growing up amid the wealth of their families while Trauma had studied the holy language at the Scholum. Even with their understanding the mans words were heavy with accent. He spoke that he was the guardian of the temple and the figures in black his chosen protectors. They had not realised that one of the Emperor’s holymen had come to bless their home.

Quickly the old man ordered his guardians to gather up their fallen and the injured Narla they then escorted the Acolytes from the chapel and back into the convent attached to the rear of the church.

While a matron attended to the wounds of the Sororitas the old man told his story, of how his people had remained behind as the Hive grew following the scriptures that maked the church as the site of a holy rebirth and that they had spent the centuries making sure the unclean infidels of the tech-cults could not intrude upon their home like they had in the past. It was only through the repeated reassurance of the acolytes that the old man let the Tech-priest Hack, who he considered a demon of the machine to remain alive though he insisted the “demon” be locked up for the night.

After some meagre food and more discussion the Old Man requested that if he could would Arn provide a benediction for the church and lead the morning service. Arn agreed through the translation of Trauma and in returned inquired if the Congregation had seen a small crystal like object hidden somewhere in the church. Shaking his head the Old Man informed the group that the only objects of beauty were located in the chapel but that no such item resembled the Data-crystal they had been sent to collect.

Somewhat frustrated with the sudden lack of progress most of the group turned in for some much needed rest. Not wanting to sleep so quickly Trauma and Arl took a look through the convent. It was clear that most of the facility was barely habitable. Rooms were filled with the extended families of the faithful or shelves of rotting ecclesiastical texts considered unimportant to the Ministorum when it had moved from the place.

Only the room shared by the Guardians was relatively well kept. The remaining trio of black clad figures had taken off their disturbing outfits only to reveal their ruined flesh scored by marks of flagellation and ritual flaying. Arl and Trauma quickly ceased their wandering after stumbling over the sight of the assassins weeping wounds and hurried back to their beds and a restless night.

- Raith

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Well is been a little time since my last update but I decided to wait and do two updates in one as the first part wasn’t particularly exciting.

THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 23 & 24: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, "Overhive" Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 163.799.M41

Having had the chance to rest up the Acolytes where awoken by the sounds of the abandoned churches faithful preparing morning meals and getting ready for their “dawn” service. As he had promised the night before Arn readied himself to lead this wayward congregation.

With fiery rhetoric, chanted by wrote from High Gothic, the priest intoned his benedictions from the chapel which only a few hours earlier had been a battleground. Most of the gathering carried small lumen-devices or simple candles, the illumination gave the rest of the acolytes a chance to examine the chapel in detail.

The wall behind the altar was dominated with a massive stylized carving of the Imperial Aquila, the wings swept away turning into the walls of the chapel while the twin eagle heads towered high above looming out from the wall in an ever silent cry. The Aquila had obviously been embossed with gold-leaf in the past but the coating had either worn away or been removed when the hive abandoned the elevated levels.

The rest of the Chapel was in similarly abandoned state, the walls showed signs of past grandeur where paintings had once hung leaving lighter impressions on the wall, alcoves stood empty rather than holding reliquaries or Icons of faith. It was also clear that the chapel had seen some significant violence in the past, scorch marks littered the walls while faint traces of brown stains hinted at violent bloodshed.

After the ceremony Old Man Cantor hobbled up to the Arn and thanked him (with the aided translation of Trauma). He then went on to show the acolytes what he had promised the night before. With creaking joints Cantor moved to stand behind the altar where he intoned a benediction in High Gothic before bending slowly down to kiss the surface of the cold stone plinth. As he did a crackle of static raced through the air and the stench of ozone greeted the group drawing their gaze towards the chapels ceiling.

As they watched a cloud of darkness seemed to just appear among the support columns and arcs, it quickly grew until it spread out across the roof. Hands reached for weapons briefly before Old Man Cantor started screeching in fury and waving his walking-staff at the sight. Beneath his thick accent Nari-ann and Trauma were able to sort out that the dark cloud was suppose to have contained the radiance of the Emperor, showing all he lorded over but it had been stolen by the infidels of the temple of metal.

A quick quiet conversation between the Acolytes and few more questions clarified the matter, a number of Servitors had removed something from the open eye of the Aquila a few months prior a device which should have projected stars onto the black sky, and they had taken the device into the nearby Mechanicus facility. Since then Old Man Cantor and his faithful had attempted to regain the Emperors Light but had only suffered greater and greater losses.

With their objective apparently close at hand the Acolytes promised to free the Emperors Light from the heretics of metal, they quickly gathered up their gear and retrieved both Narla and Hack who had spent the night having their wounds tended to and being secured behind a locked door respectively.  They then turned to the Abritrator they had rescued the night before, the man identified himself as Gaius, like Hack he had been sent into the Overhive following the Hive Uprising to track down several wanted fugitives, his detatchment had been ambushed and slaughtered leaving Gaius to stumble into the Chapel only a few hours- before the Acolytes arrival where he had passed out from exhaustion.

Feeling the need for additional support the Acolytes quickly identified their mission and recruited the Arbitrators assistance.

The Mechanicus facility was as expected, large, imposing and very orderly. A pair of bodies still lay at the entrance from where they had fallen a day earlier. Stepping over the corpses the group found themselves inside a vehicle hanger. The two-storey room had several doors leading away on the ground level and from a raised gantry, picking a door marked as “Workshop” the acolytes moved deeper into the facility.

Even with the guidance of Technomancer Hack the group quickly began to realise that they were becoming lost, the endless ordered and featureless corridors may have been beautiful to the Mechanicus but were a pain to navigate effectively. The further they went the more confused things became. It was clear that the Mechanicum had abandoned the facility stripping out most of the components and technology but the area was obviously being maintained somehow, the floors were clear of dust and in several places even seemed polished.

The riddle was soon solved as the group rounded a corner and was confronted by a slowly moving servitor its long arms ending in a series of quickly moving cleaning devices as it walked down the passageway.

Lowering their weapons the Acolytes pondered why the Servitor was still operating, this section of the hive had been abandoned many centuries before and even a servitor would decay given time. Carefully moving past the man-machine the group back tracked its polished path hoping that it would lead them some explanation, between the unit of guardsmen, servitor and the story of an attack from Old Man Cantor it was clear the facility was far from forgotten.

After several hours of fruitless searching indistinct sounds forced the acolytes to a halt and sent Ashram forward as a scout. The assassin quietly padded down a corridor and around a pair of corners before carefully sliding up to a doorway illuminated by a bright light. Not wishing to risk being spotted the assassin simply listened to a pair of voices commenting on the slow progress of their mission and the casualties suffered so far. Before Ashram could even consider trying to take out the two patrolling men they responded to an unheard command and hurried away.

Quickly falling back to gather up his companions Ashram outlined what he had overheard. Assuming that ths unidentified guard unit was most likely present in the Mechanicus facility for the same reason they were the Acolytes quickly raced to catch up.

Weapons at the ready the Acolytes moved into the illuminated room. A single all-purpose Lumen lamp had been hooked up to the wall adjacent to a charred hole. A quickly inspection suggested a high-yield explosive had been used to cut through a reinforced wall and into a secondary corridor. This hidden area was completely at odds with the rest of the facility, the walls hummed with power and lights filled the area with a steady glow a blast door to the west showed that the corridor had been sealed from the rest of the facility.

The group moved past rooms filled with strange devices of Mechanicus design or recharging and maintenance bays for servitors guided by Ashram who shadowed the wandering patrol, eventually their path brought them up to a large multi-storey room. The group gazed down from a corridor that ran around the top of the three storey workshop. Massive glass observation windows afforded them a unobstructed view of the room and a half a dozen men standing in its center, they crowded around a work-bench atop of which lay a figure dressed in the robes of the Mechanicus.

Unable to hear what was happening in the room the Arl quickly outlined a plan, they could see two access points into the room, two doorways and metals stairs descended to the floor of the room from opposite sides. Ashram, Nari-ann and Arn would stay up in the observation passage and track the figures on the floor below with covering fire if necessary while Narla and Gaius would head to the right hand entrance, the rest of the group, Trauma, Hack and Arl himself would head to the left door.

Once in position Gaius would head carefully into the room and try to negotiate with the guardsmen, it was a risky endeavour but the group still had no clear knowledge on who the armed men were or what their intention was.

Spreading out as planned Gaius moved into the room and descended to the floor, now inside the area the Arbite could clearly see the men attempting to interrogate the recumbent mechanicus. As Gaius approached the bench he was seen by one of the men whose hurried command had a number of large calibre las weapons flourished in his direction.

The apparent leader of the group demanded the enforcer identify himself and the Arbitrator swiftly did informing the man - who introduced himself as Sergeant Simmons of the 122nd Malfi Irregulars - that he was acting as an agent of the Inquisition but had become lost amid the Mechanicus facility.

The sergeant looked somewhat surprised at the mention of the Inquisition but quickly recovered inviting Gaius to assist him. The Sergeant and his unit had been dispatched to secure the Mechanicus facility which had apparently been taken over by a wanted criminal and that the individual in particular had managed to seal itself beyond a massive blast door at the far side of the room. Knowing that both the Adeptus Arbites and the Inquisition were renowned for their interrogation abilities they hoped that he might have better luck retrieving information from the captured Tech adept.

Cautiously accepting the Sergeants offer gaius stepped forward to look at the captive, it was clear than the guardsman had already inflicted extreme damage to the Tech-Priest one of his arms had been partially flayed and a foot had been lopped off with a circular saw. As the Acolytes newest recruit leant down to speak with the Tech-Adept the retort of a gunshot echoed through the room.

The shot from Hack only nicked the guardsman closing on Gaius from behind but it was enough to distract the mans attack and the knife he held missed its target. A Moment after the tech-priest had fired from his elevated position the sound of breaking glass filled the room as the rest of the Acolytes opened up in support.

Gaius leapt into cover with his assailant close behind, the pair crashed to the group tussling about in a deadly melee while the rest of the armsmen scattered into what cover was provided by workstations and benches. Better equipped than the Acolytes the guardsman quickly staged a covered withdrawal across the room dragging their captive with them. Suppressing fire directed at the acolytes kept their heads down long enough the Sergeant Simmons to finally force the blast doors release codes from his captive and order his men through the opening.

The Acolytes raced into the room as Gaius struggled to his feet, his assailant had fled under covering fire with the rest of the group. Moving over to check on the discarded Tech-Adept they were able to convince him to aide them in opening the secured hatch. With his dying breath the Tech-Priest interfaced with the door control triggering it open once more so the Acolytes could follow his killers.

A short corridor ran deep into the support pillar of the Hive, the air was heavy with the press of ancient metal. The guardsmen had obviously pressed on quickly, a pair of bodies rigged apart by a volley of heavy calibre shells where still holding their weapons, nearby a pair of smoking craters in the walls held the remnants of gun-sentries destroyed by grenades.

Stopping only long enough to ****** up the D’laku Hellguns still half-strapped to the corpses the Acolytes ran down the last of the corridor and into a room illuminated by dozens of floating hololithic screens. The last six guardsmen of the Malfi 122nd hunkered down behind machinery and workbenches about the room avoiding the sniping fire from a massive combat-servitor which strode through the rooms middle, one arm of the servitor ended in the roaring teeth of a chain-axe while the other carried some sort of massive heavy auto-weapon. Across the room sealed behind massive paned of thick armour-glass reclined a figure whose form was obscured behind hundreds of interconnected conduits and the remnants of a red robe, bright dots of blue light shone from the Magos’s eyes and where echoed in the sensors of the Servitor as it turned towards the Acolytes.

- Raith

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THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 25: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, "Overhive" Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 163.799.M41

Guardsmen scattered hunkering down behind the maze of workbenches and cogitator stations as the Servitor scanned for a target. With a deep thunk the ammo hopper on the servitors back fed rounds into the twin-linked Heavy Stubber dominating its right arm. The barrels swept to the right as the monstrous Mechanicus servant fixed on a target. A short hail of bullets fired with the precision only afforded by the greatest technology of the Omnissiah ripped through the room turning a guardsman into a bloody pulp.

The bloody violence of the weapons discharge ran through the Acolytes as they ducked into cover within the circular room or back down the entry corridor. Such a destructive weapon would mean certain death if it targeted them.

Arl quietly offered the opinion of letting the battle-servitor to kill off the guardsmen figuring they might then have a chance to negotiate with the recumbent Tech-Priest embedded across the room behind an armoured glass wall but Hack was not listening. Still enraged at the treatment of a fellow Machine Cultist by the guardsman, the Technomancer advanced into the room and snapped off a shot from his lasgun, the discharge thudding into the flak armour of the guardsmen’s sergeant from behind.

Gaius sunk deeper behind his cover within the room as Sister Trauma boldly raced across the room making towards the distant glass wall. Arl moved to follow the Sororitas a moment later as Ashram set up within the entry corridor, breaking out his Hunting Rifle and loading a clip of armour penetrating bullets.

The Praetorian Battle-servitor strode through the withering fire from the guardsmen who could spare only a few hurried shots in the Acolytes direction. Grenades flew through the air and occasionally from the squad’s heavy weapon specialist though his launcher seemed plagued with duds and misfires.

With a savage roar the Servitors implanted chain-axe swept out towards another guardsman biting through a machine-station but missing the guardsman as he threw himself to the side.

Through the detonating explosives and swathes of las-fire it was clear that the Servitor was simply shrugging the worst of the damage. A shower of sparks exploded from the Servitor as Ashram plugged a round into it, striking between the still flesh quarters of the machine-mans face. A second shot quickly followed the first, precisely striking the same location as Ashram rolled to the side avoiding a sudden retaliatory strike as the assassin moved to the head of the queue on the Servitors threat list.

With the Servitor sparking and twitching from the rounds to its cranium Trauma slide to a halt forgetting her efforts to communicate with the isolated Tech-Priest returning her attention to the Guardsmen who suddenly ceased to fire at the Servitor. Arl ducked into cover near the Sororitas sighting up one of the guardsmen as they took better firing positions. It was clear that only the well timed shots by the Assassin where having any effect and both sides where ready to renew their attack once the Servitor was dealt with.

A blare of heavy fire filled the corridor where Ashram fired from tearing up the metal walls and floor showering the Assassin in debris. Only the sharpened reflex of the Shadesman kept the damage inflicted to a minimum and gritting back the pain Ashram fired a third time his bullet smashing into the Servitors knee, severing a vital fluid conduit and causing the weaponized servant to topple to the ground.

- Raith

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THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 26: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, "Overhive" Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 163.799.M41

Silence filled the circular room for a moment as the Praetorian Battle-servitor twitched with the last processes and was still, around the room the acolytes and the Guardsmen of the Malfi 122nd Irregulars eyed each other, weapons carefully trained. The bulky sergeant stepped forward, hellgun lowered but covered by his men. In a stern tone he offered a truce to the acolytes. They where here on a mission which had seen enough casualties and rather than batter away at each other they would simply retrieve what they were after and then be on their way.

A quick discussion had the acolytes standing down, if the guardsmen where here for the same crystal the acolytes where perhaps they had a better idea where to find it, if not then the acolytes weren’t really in a good form for further conflict with Ashram barely conscious and Narla still suffering from her leg injuries.

With a curt order the guardsmen backed towards the section of the room partitioned by the arma-glass while the acolytes regrouped near the exit corridor. Sergeant Simmons turned to a soldier called Klaus who quickly produced a small box like device trailing a series of wires, within moments the brass object was interfaced with a console in the glass wall and a barely perceivable door slide open with an audible gassing of different pressures.

There was no perceptible movement from the enmeshed Mechanicus figure behind the glass as Simmons and Klaus poked about the cogitators, conduits and support systems, minutes ticked by with the acolytes quietly watching, Arl whispered to his companions to stand ready and reached towards his belt thinking that the soldiers had clustered up just the right amount for a grenade but reconsidered as the width of the room was a bit to long.

Klaus quickly located what he was after and removed a portion of machinery from the armoured room, the glint of a crystal caught NAri-ann’s eyes and she conveyed her insight to her gather companions. Having been waiting for the moment Arl gripped his salvaged hellgun and ordered the attack.

The uneasy ceasefire had both groups on such alert that surprise was non-existent and they opened fire in a singular moment, full-auto lasfire flashed back and forth accompanied by the crump of a shotgun as Enforcer Gaius raced into the room cutting down the intervening distance. Figures scattered towards cover on both sides and as the first soldier fell, Simmons ordered an ordered advance intending to escape rather than duke it out in the enclosed space.

Hellguns flashed in suppressing fire and men ran forward, Gaius fired almost blind over the top of a workbench catching on of the guardsman in the face staggering him before he was blown apart by more fire. Hack and Trauma manoeuvred into cover keeping their heads down under the volleys of las-fire but still managed to snap off the odd shot.

The fight ended swiftly following the fall of Sergeant Simmons and another blast from Gaius’s shotgun. The remaining two guardsman dropped their weapons, fell to their knees and offered their surrender, stating their names and ranks and that they where only following orders. The acolytes gathered up the guardsmen’s weapons, stripped them of ammunition and grenades while Trauma rifled through the pockets of the fallen sergeant. A moment later the Sororitas located the data-crystal and the acolytes collectively relaxed.

- Raith

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Well its been a few weeks so here are two updates rolled into one, session 27 was pretty free form and then a lot of levelling while session 28 involved a lot of shopping and talk time so the update might seem a bit thin despite so much being covered.

THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 27 & 28: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 167.799.M41 to 169.799.M41

The trek back through the cluttered and crushed hallways of the “Overhive” took two more days of careful moving and hiding out when they crossed the paths of abhuman and mutant scum. The Acolytes fled with the data-crystal not even stopping to inform the lost worshippers that they had completed their mission, they simply had Hack access some of the Forges reluctant Machine Spirit and retrieve a schematic showing them the most direct way out of the facility before negotiating their way back down to the inverted levels of Hive Tarsus.

Battered, bloodied and in some cases suffering extreme blood loss the group managed to return to the site of the temporary Imperial Guard outpost where they had acquired their guide almost a week before. Under the watchful gaze of a Autocannon emplacement the group sent forth Sister Trauma to identify herself and secure aid in the form of a transport.

The armoured car gave the group the first chance to relax in some time and most let themselves go to fatigue on the ride through the hive and back to the Mansion commandeered by Inquisitor Abidan. It was a surprise for those awake enough to think when the villa stood empty, its security seals still alive and functioning but with no sign of the Inquisitor. To tired to question those events the group turned in.

The following day the acolytes gathered to access their situation, they where apparently alone. The house showed no sign of the Inquisitor. The cogitation stations and portable data-stacks refused to give up any information requiring a higher degree of knowledge to operate than even the Tech-priest Hack possessed. With the Data Crystal in hand the group pondered their options. It seemed clear that Abidans failure to return meant he may still be in danger or worse, perhaps lost in the “Overhive” possibly captured by the warp-skeleton. Needing further information the group agreed to follow Hack and Gaius as they reported in to the Arbitrator Fortress, perhaps Marshal Blac would have some answers and at the very least the Fortress would have better Medicae facilities than the rough first aid the group had currently received.

Unfortunately the Marshal had little to offer, he knew of no significant cult or heretical activity nor had he seen the Inquisitor. Again the acolytes discussed their options, while most where on the mend, Sister Narla was still gravely injured and under constant care in the Fortresses Infirmary along with Gaius and Hack who would be returning to their official duties, the rest quickly considered the possibility of taking several castigator squads of Arbites and proceeding on a rescue mission into the “Overhive” but Marshal Blac soon pulled the plug from that idea informing the group that he could no authorise such an expedition seeing as how the Acolytes had no proof one way or the other on the Inquisitors status and location.

Hope for official support stymied the group left the Fortress to plan. If they could not gain support from the Adepta they would simply do it themselves. With Nari-Ann in tow Arl ventured back up into the “low hive” in search of some soldiers-of-fortune, soon locating a group called Habib’s Hellraizers a small group with specialities in sapping and demolitions, something the acolytes considered a must have skill given the semi-collapsed passageways of their previous expedition. The negotiations concluded with ten men signed to a contract (after having received a retainer) and awaiting the word to begin while the Ex-guardsmen returned to the Mansion to report in on their success.

With the beginnings of a plan in hand the group reequipped and rearmed themselves, las-packs for the looted Hellguns where recharged, bullets where bought in bulk from the myriad markets of Tarsus along with staples such as ration packs, climbing gear and even a few grenades. Satisfied that all was nearing readiness for the venture a stray though lodged in Arl’s mind. While they were preparing to go to Abidan’s rescue there was n unanswered question. The acolytes had gone into the “Overhive” with an Inquisiotrs knowledge to retrieve the Data-crystal, why had a group of mercenaries been on the same mission?

The thought quickly displaced the preparations for the rescue, perhaps finding out who was hunting for the same item as the Inquisitor was a better use of their time. While Arl went out to tell Habib and his men to stand down for a few days the rest of the Acolytes began to dredge up what information they could think of about the 122nd Malfi Irregulars

- Raith

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Its been a while since the last session of this campaign, we where distracted by playing Death Angel last time.  This session really didnt take much time, I started out by doing so research into the background of the noble houses for Gaius and Nari-ann, seeing as I have three Nobles in this game and three vendetta's to look after I figure I really should get on with bringing them in sooner than later.

THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 29: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 169.799.M41 to 175.799.M41

It had taken a week for Arl to locate Habib and his mercenary group, for injuries to heal from the previous adventure in the "Overhive" and fresh supplies to be gathered but now the plan was on hold in light of new information.

Despite the refusal of Marshal Blac to assign Arbitrators to hunting through the warrens of the “Overhive” for the groups missing Inquisitor he was not completely unsupportive of the acolytes. Seeing as they had already spent time working alongside of each other the Marshal dispatched Tech-Priest Hack and Enforcer Bolter to aide the acolytes as best they could, marking them as on detached duties for the interim. The pair arrived, orders in hand at the Acolytes base of operations within the outskirts of the Noble district in the company of Sister Tzarine who while still injured was no longer completely out of action.

After some discussion with the new allies the acolytes determined that they had two courses of action, the first, go to one of the local PDF outposts within Tarsus and still active enforcing the post-riot curfew and see if they had any knowledge of the 122nd Malfi Irrregulars. Secondly look into official Administratum and Munitorum documentation and see what was there on the same subject.

The group decided to split up, Arl and Nari-ann being ex-Imperial Guardsmen would try to talk to the soldiers while Hack and Gaius would proceed to the Munitorum facility within Tarsus’s mid-hive levels. After a little more discussion and clarification the plan was altered, rather than proceed to any PDF base and start nosing about they would take a more subtle approach and simply head to a local bar that catered to off duty soldiers and ask their questions there. With plans settled the groups split up. While Hack and Gaius moved off on their own Arl and Nari-ann where joined by Sisters Bles and Tzarine who believed they may be able to persuade any sinners to confess whatever knowledge they might possess.

The bar in particular was called the MRE, situated a half dozen blocks from the nearest PDF encampment it was close enough for the soldiers to quickly return to duty while being far enough away to avoid the ire of Command. The bar was mostly a converted warehouse with a long bar running along a single wall with a few requisitioned and repurposed objects as table and chairs on the bottom level where the general infantry gathered and a more orderly and high quality layout located on a open space second floor for the low ranking officers.

The Sisters of Battle could do little but sneer at the assembly of semi-drunken soldiers rambling about the dive especially when Bles was mistaken for a different type of “Sister” one of more negotiable affections, though the pair managed to keep their ire in check.

Arl moved about the room doing his best to listen in on conversations while Nari-ann parked herself at a rowdy table and began spending money on drinks as quickly as she could. Little information was to be found about the bar even with alcohol loosening lips and as the hours dragged on Arl and then Narla left the MRE to see what information the others had collected.

While Nari-ann rifled through the pockets of a number of drunk guardsmen she had been drinking with Sister Bles had managed to find some interesting information from an overly friendly officer. It seemed that the Malfi Irregulars who had been manning a watch-station close to the border between the low-hive and the Over-hive had suddenly an inexplicably been redeployed off the planet. The entire force had shipped out within two days in an impressive logistical effort. Rumour said that the unit had been re-tasked by the Imperial Guard to other duties.

While Trauma berated Nari-ann for looting drunken soldiers of their dog-tags, Hack and Gaius had managed to negotiate entry into the Munitorum archives. The process had taken several hours of busy paperwork but finally they had managed to secure access to an information cogitator. The ornate terminal sat outside a viewing window through which the pair could see servitors moving about in an artificial void amid massive data-looms. Dismissing the hovering clerks the pair began what limited research they could with Hack operating the cogitator while Gaius suggested search queries.

Within the hour the pair was joined by Narla and Arl who where able to offer some insight into possible information requests thanks to their knowledge of military organisation. Finally after five hours of toiling the group had some information. According to local records there was no Munitorum listing for the 122nd Malfi Irregulars as an Imperial Guard detachment instead they wee listed as a detachment of the Malfi Planetary Defence force.

The Malfi PDF was organised by local tithing, specifically, all units of guards where raised by the planets various noble houses and assigned a duty on Malfi. In the case of the Irregulars they where supplied, raised and equipped from the household guard of House Syreen. A search on that house showed little overt activity within the general records available to the acolytes behind a six hundred year old news report claiming House Syreen was in the running for planetary governor of Malfi back when their was some discussion of moving the Sector capital.

Back at their residence the groups gathered to compare notes. It seemed that the Malfi Irregulars might only be posing as Imperial Guard units, perhaps at the bidding of House Syreen. That would make their presence on Scintilla and within Hive Tarsus illegal and their expedition into the “Overhive” suspect at best.

Once more the group discussed their options. They could still go searching for the Inquisitor within the “Overhive” though the chances of finding him safely where slim, they could also pursue the Malfi connection by themselves, if someone had sent the Irregulars to appropriate the data-crystal that Abidan was also interested in then most likely there would be something of interest to the Inquisition going on. Finally they could take what they had discovered back to Marshal Blac, perhaps he might have an opinion.

It was soon decided that options two and three where not mutually exclusive so using the vox-relay in the mansion and private codes provided by Marshal Blac they called the arbitrator and offered up the information they had gathered. The Marshal agreed that the Malfi connection could use some further investigation if the Irregulars where indeed pretending to be Imperial Guard forces then that fell within the auspice of the Arbitrators authority. Marshal Blac proposed to send a group of Arbite Investigators to delve into the information more thoroughly while the Acolytes would journey to Malfi. Blac would send an astropathic communiqué to his equal on Malfi with any information uncovered and would provide the group with identification for the local branch, while it would not give them any true authority it would help establish some sort of credentials.

- Raith

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I'm not a big fan of splitting the party but this session involved a lot of solo interaction and turned out not to bad.  I'm also slowly getting my players to think for themselves rather than just someone making a single idea and then everyone trying to test on things for the same reason, but its difficult going.

THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 30: Calixis Sector, Scintilla Sub, Hive Tarsus, Scintilla 175.799.M41

A trip to Malfi without the support of Inquisitor Abidan was going to cost the acolytes dearly, simply getting from Scintilla to the Malfi Sub would require passage via a warp capable vessel and one that could make the journey in a reasonable length of time. Luckily for the acolytes they had an inside line. Ashram was able to learn that an ally of his parents family called the Mersearch Combine had a vessel that made the run between the two worlds on a regular basis and after some influence peddling learned that the factors for the Blessed Remembrance where currently trading for supplies at hive Tarsus.

Armed with a new objective the acolytes left the safe-house and headed up to the Goldenhand, the massive trading complex at the heart of hive Tarsus’ mid-levels. As the acolytes approached one of the many entries into the area they where struck by a wall of noise generated from the thousands of screaming traders, vox-cast trade statistics and the constant background hum of Imperial hymns and catechisms.

The previous visit by the acolytes to this portion of Hive Tarsus had only been to one of the most remote corners where the Administratum and Munitorum ruled with an iron grip and kept things far more civil, here on the general trading floors people milled about endlessly shouting for attention, buying and selling goods and services of endless description and otherwise manipulating much of the Calixis sectors wealth.

For a moment the acolytes stood on the edge of the market place dazzled by the sights and sounds before Narla plunged into the crowd and was swiftly engulfed expecting the rest of her companions to simply follow along. Seeing the Sister vanish so quickly and apparently at random the rest of the group agreed that should they become separated they would return to their current location in an hour and wait for the rest.

The plan was an excellent idea as the acolytes tried to press their way through the area, it didn’t take long for the crowds to spilt them up. All around the group they could see small groups of armed guards escorting trade factors or wealthy nobles while servitors trundled by bearing trade goods or data storage units. Over head servo-skulls and cherubs flittered on errands hunting via spoor trace or scanning the crowd with augmetic eyes seeking out targets to deliver messages and missives to.

The surging press of humanity pushed at Narla who kept trying to spot some form of sign that would point her in the direction of the trading houses that dealt with extra-solar trade, while the Sororitas couldn’t see any she soon spotted another sign being held aloft by a pair of servo-skulls. Twisting her way free of the crowd Narla stood within a small area of calm, a Merchant called Culsi had set up a small shop where he rented out hunter-servo-skulls. Each of the Mechanicum blessed servitors could be programmed to find anything located within the Goldenhand and after some quick negotiations Culsi agreed to assist the Sororitas for a later payment as part of his civic duty to the Ecclesiarchy. Thanking the merchant for his beneficence NArla instructed on of the Servo-skulls on the identity of her quarry as best she could given the second hand description the acolytes had learned from Ashrams contacts. With a zigzagging movement the skull flew off with Narla close behind.

Arl and Trauma managed to stick together in the dense crowd by staying close to the wall of the cavernous trading floors, after an attempt to find some sort of guide had resulted in Kit having her purse lifted and loosing almost fifty thrones the pair managed to get some general information on their targets location from several of the local vendors though most simply brushed aside their questions once it became clear they where not looking to trade.

While the guardsmen inquired with the locals Gaius found himself drawn away from the main group of acolytes and into a section of the Goldenhand set slightly apart from the rest, the atmosphere of the area was quieter as adepts and factors moved around small semi-private areas, in hushed tones men and woman discussed business ventures and after overhearing some of the sums of money being discussed Gaius trusted he was in the right place to find a contact with the Mersearch Combine. After a few quick inquires the Enforcer was directed to the end of a queue kept under close watch by armed guards. A quick word with one of the guards assured Gaius that he had located the place where one could arrange for off-world transportation.

As Gaius waited his turn in line the arbitrator chatted with his neighbours only to learn that the queues true purpose all those lining up where seeking employment with starship crews as ratings or indentured servants hoping to start a new life away from Scintilla and whatever pasts haunted them. Suddenly the presence of the overly armed guards made sense, the line was not for booking passage but rather for signing on to a ships crew and the guards made sure that no one had any second thoughts.

The rest of the acolytes managed to remain near to each other, following the lead of Technographer Hack the group searched the local area to find a servitor so that he could access any pre-programmed data highlighting what areas of the Goldenhand were used to conduct what trade. It didn’t take long for the inexperienced Tech-Adept to question a servitor and download a portion of its machine-spirit into his data-slate acquiring the data they needed.

The servo-skull continued to lead Narla through the crowds of the Goldenhand until it hovered before an access point leading out of the area. With a slight feeling of apprehension the Sororitas followed along in the machines wake silently wishing that she was dressed in her full battle-gear and carrying her heavier weapons rather than the drag habit of her order as the passageway she walked down grew darker and more poorly maintained.

A scrape of a boot behind her cause Narla to look over her shoulder where a man dressed in outlandishly riotous clothing stepped from a small access hatch, at his side he held a curled whip, near his other hand was a stub revolver sitting in its holster. A chuckle from before Narla brought her attention back towards the darker are of the tunnel into which the servo-skull vanished. A brutish man with hawklike features and a bald head strode towards Narla stopping a dozen meters away from her holding a glo-stick that shed a pale blue light.

As the men gloated over how rare it was for a member of the ecclesiarchy to be presented to them as a gift from Culsi, Narla reached into her cassock and drew out her Autopistol levelling it at the man before her and snarling out a threat, thumbing the safety off on her weapon. Humorous superiority quickly stilled and the thug raised his hands slowly, at this range the autopistol was likely to cut him in half, slowly the big man apologised claiming he was only speaking in jest.

Carefully Narla moved past the men back the way she came keeping the pistol trained on the pair until she was out of the corridor and back in the crowd of traders. Despite the urge to kill the two muggers for their heretical actions Narla was only one woman alone and under-armed, not wishing to press her luck further the Sister moved off towards where she had parted from her companions.

The line grew shorter in front of Gaius and he could see a desk where a dozen savants carefully recorded the names and other vital data of those men and women looking to join a new career. Not willing to be torn from his new role as an Acolyte for the Inquisition, Gaius took a chance, with a deceptive cry at the nearest guard the Enforcer slipped from the line and raced from the area. For several minutes the armsmen followed but once the Arbite reached the milling horde of the open trade areas his pursuers fell away.

Stopping to catch his breath after the sudden sprint Gaius looked about for several of the landmarks he had noted on his wanderings, though the line was not what he had been looking for the general area seemed the most likely point to find people related to the Mersearch Combine and he would have to guide his companions back once he had returned to them.

It took almost three hours for the Acolytes to all gather at their rendezvous point. Nari-ann and Arl had been the quickest arriving so early that they ventured out again to partake of some local produce in a nearby taphouse. Hack and Co had turned up a little over an hour after they had departed with Narla storming out of the crowd soon after and Gaius arriving last having covered so much ground. With a quick comparison of notes the group agreed they had a place to search and set off again with Gaius in the lead.

- Raith

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“For all those who came in late...” - Lee Falk

This report will be my final update to this thread for 2010, I am on holidays for a while but new entries
should start appearing by February. Anyway on with the show...

THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY
Session 31: Calixis Sector, The Wrap, en-route to Malfi onboard the Blessed Remembrance
177.799.M41

A young bursar by the name of Leonard guided the Acolytes to their mid-decks quarters. After their
search of the Goldenhand for transport they had met with a factor from the Merseack-Combine.

Following some swift negotiations Ashram had used his families influence with the Combine to secure
passage for the next vessel heading for Malfi. Two days later and after a deposit of several hundred
Thrones the group was steaming out of Scintilla’s orbit and heading for the jump point into the empyrean
beyond the gravity well of the system.

The journey to Malfi was slated to take three weeks, a week each climbing out of Scintilla and in to Malfi
with a week in transit, the forecasts from the Combines navigators reporting the route to Malfi stable and
free from any immaterial-storms.

The trip away from Scintilla introduced the Acolytes to a number of other passengers, they were given
the run of several mid decks ranging from deck 10 to deck 15 with those above and below out of bounds
and any other places where guards where on post such an Engineerium and the lateral cargo holds.

Within those bounds were housed the higher class of passengers, minor nobles, important factotums
and other members of the Imperium’s wealthy elite who could not afford to simply commandeer a vessel
in its entirety or simple use a personal transport.

A day after translation into the warp Sister Bles wandered the corridors following one of the scheduled
meal times, there was little to do aboard the Blessed Remembrance and while prayer and fasting would
normally fill the sisters time she found simply walking to be more restive. Sister Bles was about to begin
another circuit of the hallways surrounding the Acolytes rooms when a door opened and a man and a
woman fairly fell into the corridor.

Both where clearly some people of import given the quality of their clothing, the woman had her temper
up lecturing the man at finger point. Bles quickly saw to the center of the argument, apparently one of
the couples servants had vanished and the woman expected the girl was involved with the man. Before
Sister Bles could intervene as a moderator the woman landed a hefty slap against the man and stalked
off.

Half way through their trip Gaius found himself wandering the groups assigned decks when a sudden
scream of terror echoed down the ships passageways. Setting off at a sprint the Arbitrator quickly
arrived at the source of the shrill cry to see a noblewoman sitting pressed up against a wall pointing
fearfully at a short corridor branching off to the side.

Gaius raced forward and looked where the woman pointed, the corridor was barely 10 meters long and
dead-ended at a sealed Bulkhead. Moving carefully the Enforcer searched the area, wishing that the
ships protocol had not called for all passengers to turn over their weapons for the duration of the
voyage. The area revealed nothing and the Arbitrator returned his attention to the screaming woman
who resisted his efforts to calm. It didn't take long for a small crowd to gather and for several members
of the ships security complement to arrive and perform a quick assessment of the scene before calling
for some trauma specialists to take the woman to Sick-bay.

Though Sister Bles had been content to simply walk the hallways SIster Narla had enjoyed a more
productive time during the voyage. After consulting with their steward the Sister was allowed to look in
on the medicae staff of the ship, hoping to offer her meagre talents as aide and in turn to broaden her
knowledge of medicines and chymystry.

Narla was on duty when the hysterical lady was brought into the medicae facility. One of the facilities
attendants quickly ordered a servitor to administer a does of sedatives and the woman's raving quickly
subsided. For several minutes ships security tried to question the woman but all she could say was
something had sprang out of the dark corridor and seized her husband dragging him away suddenly.

The following day another incident occurred as Nari-ann wandered about the guardswoman had been ill
at ease without her weaponry and had taken to fashioning a crude shiv out of a dinner utensil. Finally
feeling a little less unarmed the woman found herself on the edge of a small gathering. A little way
ahead a trio of security personal stood keeping the onlookers back while a pair of medics tended to a
barely conscious man. Above the group a portion of the ceiling hung open where an access panel to a
service conduit was positioned. After a quick word with some of the onlookers Nari-ann learned that the
man had apparently been seen in the company of a young woman at dinner who now seemed to have
vanished.

Something was clearly happening on board the Blessed Remembrance and the Acolytes soon found
themselves asking questions. It quickly became apparent that all three incidents had occurred within
the lowest of the decks they had access to and all within a hundred meters of one of the guarded
access-ways to the low-berths where the vessel housed thousands of pilgrims.

While the group had previously been informed that they were not allowed access to the low-berths
Novice Arn was able to talk his was through the restriction. If the faithful of the God-Emperor were
traveling the paths of Saint Drusus then as a priest of the ecclesiarchy it was within his right to tend to
the needful flock.

The ploy seemed to work and soon the group were asking question amid the thronging horde of
penitents, postulants and pilgrims. The mysteries of the mid-decks were not unique to that area, in fact
they seemed even more prevalent, many people had been reported missing almost one an hour,
enough to cause many to become suspicious.

Trailing after rumor and half glimpsed activities the acolytes found themselves in the lowest decks of the
star ship where the well maintained hallways and holds for the pilgrims turned into waste-recyc and
infrastructure areas. Amid a towering stack of water renewal systems the group made a grisly
discovery.

The tattooed elder screamed furious hate at those before his ramshackle tabernacle, several dozen
men stood in rapt attention. Off to the side of the congregation five men with lasguns stood over almost
fifty men and women, most wearing homespun robes while a few where clearly nobility dressed in the
latest Scintillan fashions.

As the acolytes watched a pair of men turned away from the screaming preacher and grabbed a woman
from the covering mass, despite her struggles they dragged the girl over to a massive series of gears
turning one of the massive water aerators. With a callous disregard the pair threw the woman onto the
giant gears where she was dragged screaming into their crushing motions lubricating them with her
blood.

Both Arn and Hack were enraged by the corruption of their respective faiths and the group retreated to
plan. If some form of cult was sacrificing people to the machine they needed to be put down, but that
would require either help from the shipboard security forces or access to the acolytes own weapons.
The group quickly decided that they would be far better off dealing with the threat themselves rather
than trust others who might be in on the activities.

To accomplish their plan the group first approached their bursar Leonard and after an unsuccessful
attempt to convince the young man that the Acolytes where better equipped to deal with the problem.
Unfortunately the steward was loathe to let armed guests and promised to have some of the ships
personnel look into the matter and to even take it up with the First Officer after the Acolytes tried to
impress upon the young man the heresy of the situation.

With their first attempt to gain aide a failure the group moved to plan be. Nari-ann moved as a
distraction making a brush-by pass on one of the guards stationed near the arms locker holding the
groups equipment. The man screamed out as the guardswoman’s make-shift shiv sliced into his leg, his
agonized scream drawing off the other men-at-arms attention long enough for Hack to get past them
and disable the lockers security-protocol retrieving some of the groups armaments.

Feeling more relaxed once in the possession of their equipment the group bullied their way back down
to the lower decks with Arn leading holy-warhammer at the ready. From a small walkway less than five
meters above the deck the Acolytes could see that the heretical slaughter had not abated. With
righteous anger Arn hurled a catechism of hate down on those gathered below while his companions
spread out around the room selecting targets of opportunity.

The righteous cry from Arn drew the attention of the men below who turned to gaze at the intruder.
Arn’s heretical compatriot screamed a hysterical order to his men who raised their weapons and
sprayed fire in the priests direction. Despite the fuselage of las fire Arn stood unharmed and with a
wave from his hammer his companions began their slaughter.

All told the battle was one sided, the Acolytes held superior positions with Arl, Nari-ann, Hack and
Trauma Bles firing down from on high while Narla and Gaius moved to close range where they made
good use of their shotguns. Finally Arn leapt of his perch and charged into the enemies line slaying the
leader and crushing the heretics morale.

Two days later the Blessed Remembrance broke the warp and steamed for the orbit of Malfi, there was
no sign of any further cult activity aboard the vessel and the news of the Acolytes rescue had spread far
enough through the trip to attract some attention from the vessels command staff though the group tried
their best to continue maintaining as low a profile as possible.

- Raith

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 "For all those who came in late..." - Lee Falk

Hi all, on March 3 my family was struck with a tragedy, my Mum passed away in an accident.

Since then I have moved home to help take care of things, unfortunately my home is quite a hike from my regular haunt and as a result it will be some time before I will be back to running any games for this campaign or my others.

Thank you to everyone who has been keeping up with these Diaries, I hope to get back to them someday.

- Raith

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"For all those who came in late…" - Lee Falke

Hi all, its been a very busy 18 months and pretty much 2 years since I last  ran this campaign, but after juggling some things and pushing some others I am getting back into running my campaign.  With the amount of time between this and my last post I figure it is time to begin a new chapter and a new session count.  So far we have had 1 short session as people become re-familiar with their characters and while some will probably be fading away (the players have moved on) I will be bringing in a new player in Session 2.

THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY

DarkHeresy_SFV.jpg

Chapter Two: By Tooth and Nail

Session 1: Calixis Sector, Malfi, Starport to Hab-Block 401-15-A “Hern’s Hab” 229.799.M41

Crewmen scurried around the Blessed Remembrance as cogitators clicked over calculations. A week-long trip covering hundreds of light years had taken a total of 52 days to complete planet-time according to the communications from the Malfi orbital controls.

To the hail of thanks from the pilgrims they had saved from certain immortal doom the acolytes gathered their gear and disembarked via a much more private shuttle than the massive and rickety bulk transfer-vehicles that the nearly 250,000 penitents would take.

A blanket of dark grey storm clouds and belting rain obscured any view the Acolytes might have had as they descended to the planet-side dockyards. Safely enclosed within a strangely underpopulated hanger they proceeded from their transport and into the long line of passengers slowly worming its way through customs checkpoints staffed by local enforcers who clearly were fleecing the new arrivals for whatever bribes they could.

The Acolytes had spent what little time they had aboard the Remembrance preparing themselves for the ordeal ahead either through personally refining their fighting styles and checking over equipment or even beseeching the ship’s crew for assistance as did Enginseer Hack currently bedecked in the most unobtrusive Mechnicum robes rather than displaying his newest badge of approval, granted by the Remembrance’s Enginseer Prime following the standard 36.45 hour qualification trials.

The rest were similarly down-dressed, though some more than others. The group’s limited experience with running their own investigations left them a little directionless as they closed on the transfer point.

Just as they began to worry if their over-abundance of arms and equipment would somehow either cost them more than they could afford or attract undue attention a thin tanned woman in a rumpled grey overcoat pushed through the cordon of enforcers flashing her identity.

The newcomer passed her gaze of the queue and settled on Sister Tzarine. Striding over she identified herself in High Gothic as Giovanna Arico, the black armoured body-glove beneath the rain-coat clearly that worn by Arbitrators when not clad in full carapace.

The woman surreptitiously teased the appropriate pass-phases given to the group back on Scintilla by Marshal Blac from them using the more formal language of the Imperium to provide an additional level of protection from any eaves droppers. Cutting any questions short she marched the group out of the starport and into a waiting grav-transport, their luggage stowed into a second smaller servitor controlled vehicle to tail them.

Ensconced in the rear of the armoured car Giovanna answered what questions she could explaining how almost everything on Malfi was the property of the decaying noble houses and that with the decline of the planet so to had the resources of the Arbites. Similarly this slow decay of the planets society combined with a decreasing population as various imperial tithes were leveled but never offset had led to a perpetual abandoned feeling all throughout the hive. Despite the massive eight four-layer highway the group traveled and the previous sprawling dock the traffic was light and the crowds obviously thin.

Arl questioned her as to their destination when it became apparent they were not heading for the primary Precinct Fortress. With the location under constant surveillance the detective had instead elected to house the group within one of the more run-down Hab’s of the hive, a little four room apartment with enough beds to keep the group comfortable but with little to distinguish it as a place agents of the Inquisition might be discovered at.

As the grav-car sped through the driving acid rainstorm lashing the area the group could glimpse the Solar hive that would in the morning become their new hunting ground. Massive hab-blocks reached skyward making the divide between the rain forest, which had regrown quickly once the planets industry had ground to a near halt, and the city abundantly clear as organic trees reaching towards the elevated highway suddenly gave way to towering man-made edifices of steel and glass, the sky-scrapers packed close together but sprawling for endless miles ahead.

Soon after the grav-car took an off-ramp doubling back around beneath the highway to wind through various lesser arterial streets and roads, what little grey daylight existed strobed as the car passed through the ravines cast by the looming buildings.

Finally at ground level the Acolytes and their contact arrived at their apartment and with a warming from Giovanna not to wander to far the detective bid the group a pleasant evening, promising to return on the morning to begin their investigation into House Syreen.

- Raith
 

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THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY

Chapter 2: By Tooth and Nail

Session 2: Calixis Sector, Malfian Subsector, Malfi, Hive Malfi, District 216, 230.799.M41

Heeding the caution from Giovanna, the Acolytes stayed close to home that night, at Arl’s urging, Sister Tzarine stayed in the Safe-House while he went looking for some more discrete clothes than the bright red robes of Enginseer Hack and the Sororitas’ emblazoned cassock.  With the tech-priest and assassin in tow they headed out down to the lower floors of “Hern’s Hab” which were given over to the local sustenance market.

While Arl went in search of clothing, Ashram kept a practised eye out for suitable munitions for his weaponry.  The events on the Blessed Rembrance and earlier on Hive Tarsus had reduced his stockpile of special rounds.

Alas the limited market could only offer the more common calibres of ammunition, though they had that in copious quantity.  Hours wore by as Hack made a diligent search of the market after a purveyor indicated he had just sold a working Auspex to a client.  In a similar lack of progress to Ashram the robed tech-adept walked around in circles, returning back to their temporary quarters during the small hours of the morning having discovered the item he had been chasing was not an auspex but a Chrono.  To top the evenng of shopping off by the time Arl finally located some suitable clothing someone or ones had managed to make off with the majority of his cash, his rural senses not detecting the skilled hands pilfering his wealth throughout the evening.

Giovanna barged into the small 4 room complex early the nex morning a Arbites summary-dossier in her hads.  House Syreen was a major stake-holder in the Hive as well as several smaller holdings in nearby star-systems and a number of ancestral pacts with several Rogue Trader dynasty’s, their primary tithe for which the Arbites concerned themselves was the manufacture of a particularly powerful matriculation-engine for use in Cogitator cores, specifically those for deciphering complex equations and ciphers.

Still clad in her rumpled grey overcoat and black bodysuit the Arbite explained how the House very carefully made sure to keep an iron grp on the technology loaned to them from the Mechanicum and made doubly sure to meet all the required tithes and taxes levelled by the greater Imperium.  In short their was little out of place in te Arbitrators files, nothing to warrant a bigger investigation.

Still even with the official word, Giovanna knew of a man to speak to about any underhanded dealings the House might have and the group set out in the womans armoured town-car, keeping to the under-streets and tertiary roadways, not bothing to deal with the congestion of the Hives main roads.

Two hours later the group parked at a small satellite prescient manned by a dozen Arbites and walked the last 10 minutes through the border of House Syreen’s territory and into the chaos of a massive open air distribution hub.

People and vehicles where everywhere, along with loading servitors and buzzing servo-skulls while midst the crowd units of guardsmen from house Syreen patrolled and Arl kept an eye out, hoping to spot a unit badge of some kind while Giovanna lead them through the milling activity.

Their brisk journey ended at a point of relative calm in the organised chaos.  As previously agreed Giovanna approached a bear of a man seated behind a trestle table dotted with scrolls of paper and plates of food, around him workers circled moving crates onto the back of mass-haulers or unloading them in turn.  It didn’t take much to notice that for every crate packed another came off in short order, the cycle clearly just for show.

Giovanna’s conversation with the seated man was quick and familiar, with a feeling that the stevedore wished he could lay his hands on the buxom official in a less than professional manner while the Arbitrator kept him at arms distance.  For a few moments the conversation seemed about to break into violence as the Investigator unleashed a powerful open handed slap at the man staggering him before he grunted in laughter and returned to his seat rubbing his jaw.

The man was called Nader Al-Effendi one of the primary stevedores of the distribution-hub and a well-known informant with significant criminal ties.  The type whom made sure they never broke the laws of the Imperium but was more than happy to ignore any local authority.  He had answers for the group, explaining that House Syreen and the Malfi 122nd irregulars were definately up to something.  The license they held was for a STC data-pattern something normally protected by the Mechanicum in person rather than simply leased for such public use.

Nader went on informing the group that while all the surrounding area was controlled by the Household troops and sponsored PDF units of House Syreen, they kept the 122nd close to home, guarding a single large manufactorum.  The troops and their officers where carefully screened and well paid to be unfortunately nigh-incorruptible to Nader’s earthly ways.

The recidivist went on to describe how unlike many of Malfi’s houses they had somehow managed to retain a shred of their former power, mostly through close ties to several Rogue Traders and the high quality goods they produced.  When Arl asked if the house might have any ruinous connections the fat man scoffed at the notion saying that while Malfi was commonly known as such a corrupt place, he did not believe in man needing to blame the supernatural for the state of the planets decay.

Begging for a few minutes to confer with his companions Arl assessed what they knew.  In their possession, back on Scintilla, were two data-crystals each containing a third of a star-chart.  One recovered from a house slaughtered to the last man by apparent psychic means, the other recovered from a long abandoned Mechanicus facility were they had encountered the false Imperial Guard imposters of the Malfi 122nd.  It was still unclear what was happening with House Syreen’s involvement, but it was possible that there were links between the House and the Cult of the Skull.

The Acolytes agreed they needed to meet the information broker known to Nader, who could in turn get them access to the well-guarded manufactorum of House Syreen.  The payment requiered the Acolytes to deal with some opposition to Naders activities, another group like his was making too many waves in the local area and his business worked best when everyone was convinced to ignore their presence, just like the roving patrols which Nader made a point of waving outlandishly toward.  Too many times this new organisation had been heavy handed in making sure the members of their guild stayed in line or that they weren’t bothered.  On top of all this they were not even local to the area, having moved in from off-world.  Nader of course could have the problem settled on his own, but he did not want the action to be traced back to him and he had been considering his options when the Acolytes arrived to offer him a perfect solution.

Their meeting concluded Nader offered once more for Giovanna to quit working for the Emperor and to join him before informing the Acolytes to return home, he would send a guide the next day to show them where this troublesome guild operated.

- Raith

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THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY

Chapter 2: By Tooth and Nail

Session 3 + 4: Calixis Sector, Malfian Subsector, Malfi, Hive Malfi, Refinery Complex Excetur-1Y, 231.799.M41

Nader’s contact was to meet with the acolytes in the middle of a busy market place sprawling between three Hab-Conglomerates outside of the Manufactorum into which the group would soon descend.  The guild-masters description combined with additional Pict recordings provided by Giovanna narrowed down the search to a single man, lounging just outside of a small confectionary shop.

Arl, standing a head above the clustered mob of humanity, drew the rest of the teams attention and directed them closer just as the retort of a powerful weapon discharge set the crowd screaming, men and women pushing their way to safety, the epicentre of the attack a small circle of space, Nader’s man, faceless from a close range shotgun blast, lay slumped against the shops front window, his assailant trying to rush their way through the panicked crowd.

The Acolytes gave chase as best they could shoving people out of the way, not willing to loose someone they assumed related to the Gang-war they were attempting to stop, all except Ashram who clambered free of the throng up onto the pedestal holding aloft a representation of the Emperor.  Working methodically the assassin set up his hunting rifle and sighting down the barrel.  He fired once hoping for a disabling hit but was forced to concede as the crowd perpetually spoiled his aim for another attempt.

The young pimple-faced youth soon disappeared and the Acolytes returned to their dead contact, the local scavengers already eying off his clothes and boots.  A quick check revealed little to identify the man or those he was supposed to lead the acolytes too.  After a quick discussion the group agreed to pursue the only lead they had, a rather general heading from the fleeing assailant.  Once they forced themselves through the press of humanity and out into the quieter stretches of the Conglomerate the group soon detected another following their trail.

While Ashram pulled a “Cheshire Cat” routine, the rest prepared to confront the tail as he boldly stepped into the light.  Dressed as an outlandish fop the green-eyed man gave the assembled Acolytes a slight bow and introduced himself, claiming that for a modest sum, he would gladly lead them to their quarry as he knew whom the man represented.

The modest fee of course was insanely outrageous, 100 thrones which made Arl choke in disbelief as Ashram slipped back into the alley and turned over the money with little a thought.  An hour later the guide was threading his way through low, conduit lined corridors of Refinery Complex Excetur-1Y Hive Malfi’s one and only in-city Promethium-Works.

The air stank of fumes and the guide cautioned the group about discharging weapons with a reassuring pat of the knife strapped to his waist.  After pressing deeper into the Manufactorum’s labyrinthine hallways it was clear that some investigation would need to occur.  At several points the group had bypassed clusters of workers, usually in groups of six, five worked and an armed lookout, demonstrating the local crime-hangs control of the facility.

Arl suggested if they were to accomplish their task without open warfare they would need to track down the leaders of the controlling gang.  With the assent of their guide Arl acting as hired muscle simply walked up to one of the various foremen scattered around the complex and demanded an interview with the local recruiter.

It didn’t take much more negotiation than the group’s guide cutting down the youth with the shotgun while he reached from a pointed length of steel on the ground and the foreman known as Jeorge was congratulating the pair on their new job and talking about introducing them to a man named Kal Araya who was the groups second in command and previously the head of volatile bottling.

Kal had the look of hard working man dressed as he was in stained work-clothes, were clearly out of place against the backdrop of a busy secretary and accounting office near the bottom of the refineries primary bottling floors.

Kal expounded upon the introduction from his friend, he and the people working at the refinery had taken control of the facility for themselves when their controlling house Kristiansen had fallen silent three months before.  Now they held the facility not for furthering the wealth of any nobles but so that the “simple man” could once again take control of their destiny and work to make a living solely for themselves.  This had in turn forced Kal to proactively protect much of the interests of the Refineries workers by hiring armed guards and equipping the work crews to defend themselves.

Kal took his leave and moved back out into the primary bottling-room to speak with one of the other foreman desperately begging for his attention leaving the pair to mull over their situation just as all hell broke loose.

Ashram whispered into his micro-bead.  He had been on watch keeping an eye on the rest of the Acolytes olt-hole in the refinery was groups of armed professionals infiltrated the complex.  They moved with a precision the Assassin had witnessed before but could not place, dressed in dark blue flak armour and carrying modernized crossbows so as not to risk accidently igniting the atmosphere of the Promethium Works, they swept through the sporadic response aimed at stopping them.

When the first group broke out onto the elevated gantry running around the upper level of the bottling room Kal called out a warning, a attempting to summon resistance.  Arl took his opportunity racing in to support Kal as deadly quarrels lanced through the air smashing through workbenches and skewering those to slow to take cover.  For a few moments Kal stood his ground before the ex-Guardsman convinced the worker to quit the room and see to his leader’s safety in person.

Kal agreed indicating that the group’s chief was deep below monitoring the underground promethium extraction devices.  Arl looked around quickly seeing no sign of his guide before sprinting after Kal into the next room and then through a hatch followed closely by a pair of the attackers.  They raced down passageways and ducked through a blast door slamming it closed in their wake before entering a service elevator, Kal yanking on the descent leaver to activate the counterweights.

In another part of the refinery Ashram unleashed precise shots with his hunting rifle at a small group of the armour assailants attempting to attack Sister Narla and Enginseer Hack, holed up in a small dormitory.  Their choice to use firearms kept the attackers pinned down despite the fue filled air igniting at several points leaving Ashram and Narla lightly scorched.  Bullets and a blazing las-shot gave way to close quarters combat before the Acolytes managed to wear the last opponent down and they breathed a sigh of relief.

The lift rattle down through the bedrock of the promethium factory, as quietly as possible Arl manoeuvred himself into position behind Kal.

The Dusk born savage raised the pommel of his sword and struck a viscious blow aimed at the back of the foreman’s head…

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HI all, sorry for the lack of updates, its good to see that some people are still reading this.  Here's a long post summarizing whats happened over the past three play-sessions.  Enjoy!


THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY

Chapter Two: By Tooth and Nail

Session 5, 6 & 7: Calixis Sector, Malfi, Hive Malfi, Refinery Complex Excetur-1Y to Sector 139-A:Level -4 231.799.M41

The elevator rattled to a halt at the bottom of the shaft and Arl cautiously stepped out sheathing his blade, there was no sign of hostiles.  The struggle against the foreman had been short, his first strike not been delivered cleanly but a second and third blow had put the man down.  Arl had then stooped the lift and dumped out his body at a small maintenance level.

Now the ex-guardsman stood inside an airlock donning a set of protective chemical warfare clothing, using his familiarity with Guard procedures to make do in the absence of more skilled guidance.  Once attired he stepped into an airlock dominating the passageway stretching away from the elevator and stepped out into a tunnel complex swirling with aerosolized promethium once the cycle completed.

Proceeding ahead Arl kept alert choosing passages at random and following what little crude signage he could see.  Up ahead the corridor bent suddenly and a shadow loomed against the wall.  Flattening back in a poor attempt to hide Arl watched as a pair of servitors slowly manoeuvred past.  The barely human height machine-men equipped with several tool arms posed no threat as they disappeared back the way Arl had come.  Wondering where they were going the Dusk Worlder kept pace behind them until they turned down a corridor leading past another large airlock.

Cautiously Arl entered the second facility and quietly divested himself of the rugged environment suit, with sword at the ready he waited till the all-green lights winked on over the internal door before stepping into the dark beyond.

***

Hack, Narla and Ashram spoke in conference with their guide who reported how Arl had been chasing one of the foremen into an old elevator as the black-clad infiltrators had arrived.  The quartet agreed that they needed to regroup and hopefully Arl had found something that might lead them to the personal ultimately in charge so they could continue with their true mission on Malfi.

With Asharam in the lead the Acolytes carefully picked their way down through the sporadic fighting to the main manufacturing level and then into the same elevator that Arl had previously used with only a minimum of swift and silent killing.  Hack got the elevator moving and they followed the same path that Arl had a little less than an hour before.  Once at the bottom and fearing pursuit from above Ashram ordered Hack to disable the lifter but the Tech-priest replied that any such attempt might only serve to strand them at the base of the “well”.

In intimation of their companion the group donned protective gear at the first airlock and followed the hasty marks left by their companion, scarped crudely into mine walls.

It didn’t take long for the Acolytes to locate the second facility.  Hack noted the extensive cabling lining the walls leading to the second airlock and surmised that the location was probably the chief extraction facility, or at the least a place for mine workers to use rather than returning to the surface for what weary breaks they were assigned.

In short order the Acolytes removed their gear and used what little time they had while the airlock finished cycling air to prep for whatever awaited them in the corridor beyond, as Narla stepped into the area beyond Ashram cried out a warning as the safety of a Heavy Stubber was released.

***

A slap to the face brought Arl around and he could taste the hessian sack over his head, there were three voices in the room, two men and one woman.  A fact he confirmed with his eyes as he blinked away tears, the concealing hood torn from his head carelessly.  The man closest to him was a large brute who cracked his knuckles in delight looking at the bound guardsman.  The woman learned over a table examining his equipment.  Whomever she was, she was clearly a professional clad in full carapace plating, her short brown hair curled close to her scalp and her eyes expertly appraised his confiscated weapons, testing balance and hair-triggers in precise order, she was also the most heavily armed with a chainsword sheathed across her back and a Stub Automatic positioned low on her hip.

The final man looked appraisingly at Arl from beyond the first.  This one was much older and looked tired despite the glimmer of something hopeful in his eyes.  His work-vest and slightly better fitting outfit identified the man as someone of importance able to wear more than just hand me down work-wear.

Arl spoke up to this man’s questions identifying himself as a newcomer to the facility, one sent down to alert the Facility Chief that the structure above was under attack.  From here Arl wove a story of how he had witnessed Foreman Kal being cruelly shot and imparting the Chief location with his last breath.

The chief looked concerned at the news of the attack above while the large thug scoffed with a grunt.  From the armoured woman there was little response.  In response to his companion’s unspoken assessment of Arl’s story the older man thanked Arl for the news and reported that he had been aware of the attack.  For a moment Arl panicked wondering if his murder had been witnessed but the man continued thanking him for his efforts before properly introducing himself as Elias George the leader of the facility and his crews best hope for a brighter future in the Imperium.

Arl listened in horror as Elias suggested that the ways of the Imperium where not those of the Emperor and that mankind could have more freedom than what it was allowed, the choice of what job to have or perform even.  For a moment as the conversation continued Arl began to relax before a warning tone rang out of a speaker in the corner of the room.  Elias looked darkly at his thuggish companion before stepping out of the room and into the corridor beyond, snatching up a large communications-receiver from a port near the door.

Using the open door to access what lay beyond the room Arl could see a long corridor, similar to the one he had witnessed right before being captured.  At the far end stood a blast hatch which the guardsman hoped might lead to freedom.  Elias walked back into the room and signalled to the armed woman who quickly nodded and exited the area heading down the corridor.  The chief then turned to the other name and instructed him to learn what he could from their captive before leaving as well, shutting the rooms door behind him.

Arl looked up and grinned as the thug drew back his fist.

***

Light flooded the length of the corridor, it was nearly forty meters long, at the far end just inside of a blast door was a small stack of sandbags, behind the sandbags worked two men, the first making sure he had a firm seat while the second checked an ammunition feed.  Individually two men in overalls might not represent a threat to the Acolytes but the squad suppression weapon they maintained was an entirely different creature.

Hack shouted in alarm and dived back into the airlock hoping that the rim of the hatchway would provide much needed cover while Ashram and Narla dashed forward aiming for a point a little over half way down the corridor.  As the heavy weapon barked in fury they each shoved themselves into tiny maintenance alcoves.  Bullets raked the walls and an interface-control unit exploded in the alcove Ashram cowered within.

The Hospitaler and the Assassin glanced at each other.  Ashram motioned upwards to where several conduits hung suspended from the ceiling.  Making a gesture about crawling along them, Narla raised her weapon and fired covering shots back towards the emplaced Stubber while the Assassin reacted.

Not quite used to taking fire, the worker assigned to loading the heavy weapon cringed and ducked for cover.  Seizing the moment Narla rushed forward throwing herself to the floor beneath the traverse of the weapon while Ashram shinnied along the overhead pipes.

The gunner cursed and yelled at his companion who drew a sidearm and shot down over the wall of sandbags forcing Narla to roll aside from the bullets, spinning on her back the Sororitas fired her shotgun the blast taking the head off the gunner but in her fury she had neglected her rites of firing angles and Ashram hurriedly curled up into a ball to avoid the ricochets  lashing the pipes he was crawling along, the action causing him to lose his balance momentarily, though he recovered enough to turn the fall into a graceful landing face to face with the loader.

Before the assassin could take out the unfortunate man cleanly the blast door opened and chainsword roared through the opening.  Ashram ducked the swipe as a woman followed the weapon through the door.  Narla levered herself up from the floor only to face the muzzle of a Stub Automatic pointed at her chest.

The Hospitalers carapace breastplate turned aside the shot and a brutal melee broke out as the newcomer engaged both the Assassin and the Sister in a whirling twisting fighting style of sword and gun.

***

Arl brushed his hands together as he spat out a loose tooth.  The chair he had been bound too was a twisted ruin discarded on the broken form of the thug.  Gathering his gear and checking his weapons the ex-guardsman sprinted from captivity, hustling down the long corridor toward the only other exit.

Consoles dangled from the ceiling of the room into which Arl peaked, the circular chamber easily half the length of the corridor he had just rushed down or more in diameter, its space dominated by three concentric rings of computation machines with a forth ring lining the wall.  The console-monitors depicted numerous pict-thieves spread throughout the mining works and the facility above.  Over by the center console with his back towards Arl worked Elias who nervously looked towards another hatch on the far side of the room.

Glancing about Arl counted eight exits including his own, each spaced around the large central area.  Slowly the guardsman lifted his weapon, he thumbed the safety off, sighted down the barrel, and breathed out to relax before taking a shot at the unaware man whose back was facing him.

Whether a poor shot or by divine providence Elias turned at the last moment and the shot blew apart the console he worked out sending the old man scurrying for cover.  Arl in turn dashed into the room, briefly sticking his head out of cover only to pull it back as the roar of a large calibre pistol echoed in the enclosed space.

The pair exchanged fire as they threw themselves around the room hunting for cover, Arl cursed his luck with his lasgun and discarded the weapon in favour of his sword while the Mining Chief drew a long knife and levelled a vicious stab at the Duskman’s guts.

***

The woman in the armour looked briefly away from her combatants and took a glancing shot as a reward, a scream had echoed from the central room behind her.  With a deft flourish she holstered her sidearm and retrieved a grenade with a single smooth action before dropping the explosive at her feet as she leapt backwards through the hatchway.  Ashram and Narla raced away as the metal sphere bounced and rolled along the floor, sighing in relief as the grenade only emitted a blanket of choking smoke.

Cautiously the pair waited for the fumes to disappear before they moved to check on their companion, during the fight Hack had attempted to intervene only to be clubbed down by the woman in short order.  Dazed the tech-priest mumbled to Ashram who looked confused until the group realized the airlock back where there had come, had sealed as was now cycling back to read once more.

Dragging the barely mobile Tech-priest into the room beyond Ashram and Narla looked across the control facility at Arl who was lowering his weapon, while the woman named Ashely frustratingly shook her head at her dead employer lying on the ground.  Ashram quickly appraised Arl of the situation with the airlock and Ashely rushed to the door slamming the hatch shut after lobbing a second grenade into the corridor.  The bounty hunter gestured to the injured Tech-priest and demanded if he was capable of manually controlling a lift as she knew of an alternate route out.

Narla assured the woman that the Tech-priest would pull up with a little chemical help as Ashram handed over a vial of Stimm and a hastily alliance was forged.  Ashely pointed to one of the other exits from the room and with the help of Ashram and Narla pinned down their pursuers, each taking turns to race down the length of the hallway, identical to the other two and into yet another round room, this one filled with the discarded odds and ends of decades of workers coming through the facility as well as a large freight elevator, apparently in need of serious repair.  The group struggled aboard the elevator as their pursuers closed inflicting injuries to Ashley and Hack before the Tech-priest managed to get the ancient device functioning, its systems groaning into life.

The ancient freight-lifter rose slowly upward, its path a halting journey as the tech-priest manually triggered the release of various emergency hatches sealing the shaft above.  At the top was an abandoned and sealed warehouse.  Huge containers lay in the loading area along with a large cargo-hauler, the massive vehicle silently awaiting an operative that may have not have come over 300 years before or so Narla theorized from the few remaining crates of goods left in the area.

Arl set the group moving into cover as he heard the approach of someone whispering down a vox-link and the group dashed across the warehouse for a massive rolled door and smaller exit.  Both seemed locked and while Hack reported he may be able to repower the roller door and its comatose machine-spirit Arl looked at the large tracked Cargo-hauler and grinned.

***

Investigator Quintus of the Adeptus Arbites stood on the roof of a twenty-five story building overlooking the sprawling refinery complex within the heart of his city.  He grimaced bitterly as the sounds of the gathering behind him reached his ears.  Judge Huges sat with Sallid Magenisum a Rogue Trader and provider of the small but opulent pavilion that they reclined beneath.  Five other Arbites also waited on the roof, one looking out from each angle of the building and two on guard within the pavilion itself, though the two closest to their superior seemed more concerned with partaking of the Rogue Traders largess.

Concentrating on his work and trying not to dwell on who he had rubbed to get saddled with such demeaning work this time the Arbitrator reviewed the brief of his mission.  The Promethium facilities tithe quota had fallen to an unacceptable level following the take-over and destruction of House Kristiansen by House Syreen.  Already involved in several larger acquisitions Syreen had “requested” their allies in the Magenisum Dynasty who had a vessel in orbit to retake the facility on their behalf.

More laughter cause Quintus’ jaw to clench tighter, Magenisum would effectively control an Imperial facility under their charter and from the sounds of the negotiations behind him the Emperors Quota might be in some doubt.

Before Quintus could even consider making sure the Emperor’s laws were still respected amid the rampant corruption of the Malfian Arbites a warehouse door on the bottom street level of the refinery he was observing shattered outward as a massive cargo-hauler ripped apart the door, its caterpillar treads pulling over the rubble as easy as a tank’s would.

The Investigator called out an alert to his companions who closed to witness the vehicles escape.  Judge Huges enraged that something might be disrupting his work turned to Quintus and order him with making sure no interruptions to the Emperor’s tax was to be tolerated.

Dashing from the roof Quintus called for reinforcements, a pair of Enforcers on riot-bikes would be dispatched and a Rhino used to carry him and the other Arbites along with the Judge was assigned to his direct control.   As Quintus climbed onto the Arbites transport-carrier the chase was on.

***

Arl, Ashram, Narla and Hack abandoned the cargo-hauler bidding farewell to Ashely who took off at a fast pace, not wanting to trust their shaky alliance a moment longer than necessary.  As the group moved away and into the under-streets, levels of Malfi’s solar-hive which where only illuminated during specific portions of the day thanks to the skyways overhead, the group was soon forced to stop as Hack revealed several severe injuries to this biological components.

While Narla did her best to patch him up and give the Tech-Priest another dose of Stimm, Ashram caught sight of a man on a nearby rooftop observing them.  Reporting it to the group the assassin unslung her hunting rifle in preparation for something going down only to hear the blare of a loud-hailer from the distant figures armour demanding that they stand-fast and await judgement at the hands of the Adeptus Arbites.

For a moment the group considered doing just that, trusting that Giovanna would be able to help sort out any misunderstanding of jurisdiction, until Ashram looked sheepishly down at the bloody jacket she held and its gruesome contents, the severed head of the former Miner Chief, taken as proof for Nadar Al-Effendi.

Cursing their luck the group broke into a mad dash as a second Arbitrator dashed around the corner at the far end of the street and a loud rumble signalled the arrival of the Enforcers’ tank-transport.

Sprinting down the open alley between a pair of towering buildings Arl and Narla separated from Ashram, leaving the killer with the severed head, trusting that he would have an easier time if they split up.  Within moments Ashram was sqeezing into a small space between a pair of buildings and silently making his way apart from his fellows.

Trying to raise as much attention to themselves as possible Arl and Narla raced for safety in the sub-levels backstreets.  They rounded a corner into a maze of pipes and ventilation tubes, hastily avoiding the determined pursuit of Quintus and his allies.  Narla cried out as foot slipped on a damp pipe, the s=accident nearly spraining her ankle.  Hoping to slow his pursuers Arl tested several of the conduits hoping to find something loose he could topple in their path but there was nothing easy at hand.

Onwards they fled, moving through a busy intersection and down an empty mall until they were within sight of a packed bazaar, the myriad stalls and vendors attracting a huge riotous crowd filled with colour.  Feeling their pursuers closing Arl forced his way through the crowd while Narla tried her best to blend in to the surroundings.

Ordering the Enforcer after the Sororitas, Quintus continued after Arl, sprinting through the bazaar to witness the Dusk-born climbing into the back of a servitor-powered rickshaw, before the ex-guardsman could finish waving farewell to his pursuer as the carriage pulled away down the road, Quintus was hastily yelling into his vox-link.  Within seconds the power transmission to the sector was interrupted and Arl cried out as the Rickshaw wobbled and toppled over, the long metal rod connecting it to the overhead power-lines falling sideways with a clang, the suddenly unpowered vehicle spilling him into a small stand of good belonging to the Cab’badge Company.

Up the guardsman leapt, sprinting across the darkened street just ahead of pursuit, spotting an access to the storm water system beneath the street Arl levered aside the worn grate and dropped into the tunnels below the street, rushing thorough the enclosed space as Quintis again yelled into his uplink, this time the Mechanicus representative for the sector unsure of following his orders to reroute the city’s water systems.

Arl grinned brightly as he turned a corner hoping to get a few streets away from his pursuer before heading topside before his ears caught the sound of oncoming water.  In a rush he headed for the nearest exist and as the water completely flooded the tunnel he heaved aside another grate and stumbled into the street panting for breath.

Closing his eyes for just a second the guardsman frowned as the loud echo of a riotbike engine growled up to him.  Opening his eyes he found himself nose-to-shotgun with an Enforcer.

- Raith

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It's been a few weeks… month, maybe 2 tops… since I last posted, so here is a HUGE update.  Sorry intended to post these one at a time, I had it all prepared but went on a business trip.  Sessions 8, 9, 10 are breifly summarized, thier was a lot of back and forth with players including my new Arbitrator.  The last section though is what happened in this weeks session (11).

THE SEARCH FOR VICTORY

Chapter 2: By Tooth and Nail

Session 8, 9, 10, 11: Calixis Sector, Malfi, Hive Malfi, Holding Precinct 28-A to Under-level Sy-R33-Nu 233.799.M41

Arbitrator Quintis finished filling in the paperwork on his captives, consigning them to immediate transfer to Hive Malfi’s primary precinct courthouse, satisfied that the local judges would soon determine the full guilt of the parties he had arrested.  Despite the obvious recidivist nature of the dark skinned man, the fact that the other captive seemed to legitimately belong to the Adeptus Sororitas greatly concerned him.  After some discrete questioning and placing the Sister into a less confrontational holding cell, the Arbitrator left to try and figure out just who the people he had arrested were.

***

The news of several off-world prisoners filtered through the bureaucracy of the Arbitrators with surprising alacrity, but is was a short vox-call that brought the arrest to the attention of Intelligencer Giovanna.  The dark haired woman was quietly monitoring the Hives local information-net keeping an eye out for her contacts, sensing their relative inexperience with clandestine operations and knowing that the men she had introduced them too where likely to consider turning against them.  Her brown eyes glowed as they red streams of intercepted communications as she waited to disguise any information that might lead to their presence becoming public.

Sealing the data-reports with a private cipher, Giovanna responded quickly to the vox-call authorizing a transfer order and quickly retrieving the prisoners from the holding location before the interrogators could set to their blessed work.  Once it was clear that there was little permanent damage sustained by the captives, Giovanna returned the Acolytes at their safe-house encouraging them to pack up and move out, it would only be a few short hours before someone noticed her tampering with the feeds and the change of orders.  While that change was not outside of her authority, the authorization in itself would create questions and demand answers.

***

Having easily slipped his pursuers Ashram had taken the time to return to the safe-hab assigned to the group in order to rearm for his next errand, the severed head of the factory-foreman and revolutionary sitting silently in the complex’s rickety fridge.  Despite his professionalism the Assassin was concerned enough about his companions to send a quick message to Giovanna alerting her to the chase through the under-streets.  While Giovanna employed her authority, Ashram spent the time gearing preparing rendezvous with Nader Al-effendi while making sure that there was little evidence of the group left in the apartment. 

Late in the evening Arl, Ashram and Narla slipped out of their temporary refuge, reunited once more to head into the streets of Hive Malfi, picking their way across the city towards their contact and hopefully the next part of their investigation.

***

Within the monolithic halls of the Judiciary House, Arbitrator Quintis confronted the woman who had commandeered his prisoners.  Giovanna paced before the massive black-oak doors of the Conclave de Veritas, the inner court of the Arbites where lesser Judges and Enforcers were called to report on their Sentencing and explain any rulings that the High Justice and the tribunal deemed concerning for the laws of Malfi.  The waiting was always the worst part, for while the tribunal was expedient in their ruling, it was in this place that all members of the Arbites could face the justice they in turn handed out to the masses.

Quintis was his usually gruff self, demanding answers from his senior on why the prisoners had been released, but no matter how he asked, and denied of the opportunity to properly interrogate his subject, Giovanna met his questions with a seemingly endless stream of stern rebuffs citing superior rank and insufficient clearance levels. 

The disgruntled Investigator’s questions were cut short as the Praetor Justicar drew open the massive doors leading into the shadowy inner sanctum, beckoning Giovanna inside while denying Quintis entry.  With a glare at the black-clad guards Quintis spun on his heels and stalked away, if Giovanna would not answer his questions, perhaps her office would.

***

Nader gleefully accepted the bloody severed head as proof that the Acolytes had done the favour he had asked, the grisly display doing little to upset the big man’s appetite as he feasted amid the turbulence of the crowded storehouse around them.  True to his word the Stevedore-Cime-Lord provided the trio with the agreed upon fee, an address to a rundown hab as well as a letter of introduction and payment to it’s “lord” a man called Anaton.

Sticking to the back roads and under-ways meant the journey through the streets of Malfi to their destination ate up all the day, the group arrived just as sundown peeked through the ever-present clouds above the Hive, joining the throng of workers returning home, blending in thanks to the concealing local garments they had organized the previous night.

The bab-block was like most, it stank of unwashed bodies and ruptured sewerage conduits, graffiti covered every flat and accessible surface, wiring lay exposed where semi-illegal tech-hackers tapped into vox-lines and power-feed.  Slowly the Acolytes made their way up through the multi-level building, ascending a dozen floors till they arrived at an unassuming doorway.  It looked like ever other hatch into the homes on that level, its exterior pitted, chipped and rusting. 

Arl knocked first and a muffled voice called out from the otherside.  For severa moments the Acolytes conversed through the door with the irritated voice, exchanging threats and pleasantries while Narla and Ashram kept a watch to see if any of the locals strayed too close.  Finally, as the group began to feel nervous at such an exposed position, the door to the habitat opened revealing the stuble covered face of a sneering ratling guard who ushered hem inside briskly

Behind a heavy door reinforced with ablative blast tamping material the hab belonging to “Anaton” was clean and well maintained, though a stain here and there in the foyer suggested a terrible end to something daring to breach the outer limit and confront the emplaced weapon-servitor within.

With a grunt and a shove the ratling slammed home the door and guided the others into a central room lit in drab colours.  A pair of unshaven men lounged about the room sampling narcotics and looking glassy eyed at the newcomers.  Through a beaded curtain in another room the sound of an accountant at work his abacus clattering away.

Leading the group into the kitchen area, the ratling ushered out the bookie and demanded to know just why the group had come looking for Anaton.  Apparently satisfied with their answer the guard was about to respond when an angry voice echoed through the closed blast-hatch into the hab.  Cursing his neighbours the ratling chivvied the group into another room with the accountant as the two stoners suddenly produced a pair of well-used assault rifles, discarding their inattentive air for that of professional soldiers in a heartbeat.

***

Two Enforcers stood outside the entrance of Intelligencer Arico’s office, they chattered to each other distractedly as Quintis walked up to loom over them demanding to know why their attitude was so lax.  The Enforcers quickly smartened up and replied to Arbitrator, indicating their services had been dismissed by the rooms current occupants.

Intrigued Quintis walked into the room, stopping in the doorway as two pair of eyes suddenly transfixed him.  The first pair belonged to a man ransacking the draws of a mahogany desk.  The man dressed in a white shirt, black vest and well-worn pats grinned lopsidedly and went back to work.  The second where a startling blue pair belonging to a lithe woman, clad from the neck down in a black armoured bodysuit worked with an intricate design of swirling glyphs, a low-riding Bolt Pistol sat holster to her shapely right thigh.  The woman’s gaze was unsurprised piecing out from a fringe of pale blonde hair as she demanded the Arbitrator’s identity.

Quintis replied, his gaze appraising the final figure n the room, man or woman the figure was indistinct clad in a floor length dark navy cloak and hood with a featureless polished metal mask covering the face.

When the arbiter in turn demanded identification the woman looked at him quizzically for a moment, the robed figure turning to regard the floor to ceiling stack of law-books dominating the western wall of the room, before answering that her authority was of the absolute tugging free a fine length of chain from her bodysuit, the light from the Pict-window on the far side of the room glinting off the delicate Inquisitorial Rosette facsimile hanging from it.

As quickly as he entered Quintis was dismissed, assured that all was as the Agents needed and that the guards loitering outside would provide any assistance the Throne Agents needed. 

Just as he left Quintis shuddered, feeling the expressionless mask turning to regard him, a strange odour sitting on the air.

***

When the ratling returned he quickly made it clear that me was Anaton and that he knew ways through Malfi that neither Arbitrator nor Slum-lord did, explaining that he was once a sapper for the Imperial Guard and that there were thousands of miles of tunnels, abandoned hab-levels and other stranger ways beneath the Hive, most from whatever had existed before the Angevin crusade had ever approached this sector and made Malfi their initial staging ground.

Quickly the Acolytes explained their needs.  The ratling listened intently before agreeing to show them into House Syreen’s territory unnoticed.  After some last minute assurances and perpetrations Anaton ushered the group from his residence, unwilling to wait before making the journey necessary, nightfall would aid them in their initial foray.

The first step of their journey took the group to an abandoned cathedral on the outskirts of the rain-soaked hive district Anaton lived in, the shrine to the God-Emperor was ancient, its roof crumbling and windows shattered with neglect, the holy-site hidden at the base of a massive pair of Sky-habs. 

Anaton lead the group up to a boarded up side entrance, while Arl worked to pry the boards loose the ratling quickly briefed the group on what lay ahead.  The immediate danger was from the locals, a vicious sub-human group that used the cathedral as a home.  Motioning for silence the ex-sapper slipped through the wing of the cathedral and slunk along the wall of the main basilica.

***

Arl stood guard, an easy job given the limited paths from their current location.  Nearby a pool of fluids cast scant illumination around the tunnel from where the mag-rail that had once born a rocket-tram was buckled and severed.  Anaton had been right to warn the group that the path was dangerous.  The first thing they had encountered were flesh eating mutants, an incautious movement by Narla had alerted the sub-humans to intruders sneaking through there lair.  The fight that followed had only been stopped by a barrage of covering fire from Anaton, the heavy protection worn by the Hospitaller and the hunger of the mutants outweighing a desire to continue fighting as they dragged their fallen back to the cook pot.

Narla had done her best to patch up Ashram who was still breathing heavily with cracked ribs one of the mutants had landed an unnaturally strong blow.  They had fled into a storm-water system and then down into a strange generatorium chamber, braving the pulses of discharging energies running down the cylindrical room which threatening to knock them off a thin walkway and into the spinning water-propelled turbine a dozen meters below.  Finally they had entered a massive labyrinth of tunnels, each a four meter wide conduit dominated by a single slightly raised railing on which in ages past strange elongated trams had run propelled by exotic forces at sound-breaking speeds.

The Hospitaller finished checking the group’s fresh injuries, moments before they had been assaulted by a wave of iridescent rats, sightless creatures which had been living off the luminous-blue liquid spurting from the damaged rail.  The creatures had been twisted to unnatural proportions in the dark but judicious automatic fire had run them off, though Arl could still smell and hear them in the dark.

Thankfully Anaton had called an overnight rest in the tunnel, feeling a break might help to alleviate some of the Acolytes suffering and now they were again ready to press on.  By the sappers estimate they needed another half a day of marching to see them out of the tunnel with its unnaturally smooth lines and strangely spacious terminal and back into the familiar gothic territory of a collapsed hab-level.

As promised the unnatural surroundings fell away and the familiar smells reached the group.  Anaton quietly informed the acolytes that his guidance would soon end, but after some pressuring by ashram and Arl, the ratling agreed to introduce them to a local who might be willing to assist them in blending in to the indentured workforce of Syreen,

Pressing on they passed into abandoned rooms, the floors buckled and offset at random with the forces from above or below.  In places they crawled or squeezed through gaps but in others they marched quickly down corridors that seemed cleans and well repaired where it not for doors closed tight with pressure of shifting walls.  Despite the fatigue that pressed at his injuries Ashram kept glancing over his shoulder, a niggling feeling causing him to examine their path, something familiar was dogging their steps.

***

Again and again Ashram kept catching glimpses of their pursuer, a figure in white, female, familiar.  But each time the Acolytes and their guide stopped there was only stillness.  Anaton spoke quietly warning the group that he had seen things on past forays down here but would not clarify what that was.  Just as he turned away Arl shouted in surprise spotting a woman in a white medicae-gown racing across the passage ahead of them.  Ashram had been right, the figure was the image of Solaria, the psyker who had accompanied them while on Scintilla investigating the over-hive of Tarsus, though the similarities ended as the newcomer was much younger, possibly Solaria’s sister.

Before the group could pursue, the woman vanished.  While Ashram suggested following the figure, Arl cautioned that they had a mission to which Anaton motioned they should continue.

Their path was slow going and as they travelled Anaton called back to Narla as he scrambled over a wedge of collapsed ceiling asking if the Sister knew any good marching Hymnals, the ratling voice carrying a hint of nervousness.  For a moment the Sister considered the question before launching into an elegant song, startling her companions with her trained voice.  Anaton recognized the Hymn and carried the tune as best he could, Arl and Ashram soon mumbling along as they moved.

About to step around a corner Anaton snapped his las-carbine up, bracing it to his shoulder in caution.  Swiftly the group stepped around the corner with weapons at the ready, before them a pair of men dressed in matt-black Carapace armour and mirrored helms dragged away a barely moving woman dressed in white.  Arl glanced at his companions searching for recognition, the woman indeed looked like a younger version of Solaria, but Narla cautioned the group indicating the warriors as members of the Adeptus Telepathica, specifically soldiers of the Blackguard, men whom worked aboard the Black Ships of the Inquisition collecting the Emperor’s harvest and returning them to Terra.

The men dragged the unconscious woman out of sight, paying no heed to the newcomers for which they in-turn were thankful.  They turned back to their journey as Anaton suggested they disable the limited lights they carried, the corridors they walked down possessing a flick of remnant energy, enough for long abandoned emergency lighting to still feed off.

Passing up a short flight of crooked stpes Arl called out noticing a small breach in one of the walls of the corridor a flicked of harsh white light spilling from the hole.  Kneeling down the Duskborn Guardsman took a quick peek into the gap, beyond the wall was a room filled with all manner of machinery that put him in mind of a Medicae-station he had once convalesced in during his soldiering days.  Waving Narla over the Soriritas checked through the gap and confirmed the appearance of the room, noting the equipment looked especially well-maintained.

As they spied into the room a man clad in a crimson doublet and a dark coloured cape moved around the dimly lit area, a small golden insignia of the Holy Ordos hanging from his neck.  The figure was diligently monitoring various pieces of equipment as he fetched a large gage-needle, filling it with a viscous green liquid.  As he worked he rattled off medical observations to the air an auto-scribe chattering away somewhere unseen from the Acolytes limited perspective.  What held their attention was the sight of the young woman they had previously witnessed.  She lay strapped in the centre of the laboratory to a metal crucifix.  Clearly sedated her cries of denial were barely more than a mumble as she flopped uselessly against leather restraints, the woman’s white robes had been cut open signs of recent medical experimentation across her body.

 Ashram sat back from the opening and looked at his companions, the figure in the room had mentioned the words Project: Ra, for a moment the others looked blindly at the assassins words before it clicked, Rah was the surname of their Inquisitor.  First a woman who looked like a young version of a past companion, then Blackguard who are normally never encountered off the ships they serve aboard and now a coincidental reference to their missing Inquisitor, at the very least the area appeared like it may possess supplies they could use to speed along their recovery.  All in agreement the Acolytes quickly renegotiated a deal with their guide to delay the journey while they investigated the laboratory.

Half an hour later (and 100 thrones poorer) the Acolytes stormed into the medicae-facility, barging into a scene of utter destruction.  The crucifix was a nearly unrecognizable mess, its twisted spars lying in a heap on the floor.  Cogitators and medicae-equipment lay scattered everywhere, beakers were strewn about the floor and a portion of the roof had tumbled down across the far side of the room, a gaping hole in the ceiling pointing to where the weight of the hab-above had shifted.  Of the restrained woman there was no sign.  Arl looked at his companions wondering if this was the same location or a different part of the facility.

While Arl scratched his head pondering how they could have missed hearing the level of destruction needed to reduce the room to rubble, Narla searched for anything salvageable.  Poking through the room at his own pace Ashram broke Arl from his reverie, calling him over to where the rubble from the collapse roof lay, indicating a skeleton lying crushed by the debris but still held somewhat intact by its once-fine cloths, now tatters left by rats.  The guardsman knelt to check the corpse for anything of interest pulling free a golden pendant from around its desiccated neck, holding it up to the light of their lumen-globes the illumination winked off a twisted gold rosette. 

Slowly the ugly truth dawned on the group, the ratlings words about seeing things, the apparently younger appearance of their ex-companion and the advanced age of destruction in the lab all pointing to a strange warping of time.  The room they were in was what they had witnessed, though they had not witnessed its current state but some point of the rooms past…

- Raith

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