Emperor Preserve

Solomon - Hive Gloriana
Hope is the first step on the road to disappointment.

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Tilusch Kaunitzer, Ordo Xenos; Hive Goriana, Solomon System
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate
MESSAGE FORMAT: Pict Recording submitted by Acolyte Kaunitzer

When we last left the Sciscitatio Task Force, they acolytes came upon Tilusch Kaunitzer and his colleague Iacopo Salucci in the old manufactorum in Three Stakes’ Rest, where the Kaunitzer and Salucci had been imprisoned weeks before. Kaunitzer and Salucci were a little more worse for wear psychologically if not physically, but after being rescued from their captivity and armed with weapons looted from the dead, the two security guards aided the escape back to the Arbites stronghold. It can hardly be said that the two acquitted themselves well, apart from being able to help carry the wounded and some accidental gunplay on Kaunitzer’s part, but sometimes quantity can make up for quality. Kaunitzer and Salucci were later drafted into service by Inquisitor Karkalla. While the two men simply knew too much and silencing them would be expedient, it was deemed more use could be made of them to further the cell’s cause; Emperor knows there are always uses for meat shields.

Following the leads that have been uncovered, the cell has now been split into two groups – Odessa and Salucci leading further efforts in Hive Gloriana, and Arion, Intios, Karpath, and Kaunitzer making their way off world. En route to Sinophia, Kaunitzer has been tasked with giving a status report to Inquisitor Karkalla. The following is an excerpt from the transcription of the pict recording of Tilusch Kaunitzer’s report to the Inquisitor Karkalla, Ordo Xenos.

-PICT RECORDING TRANSMITTING——-

Kaunitzer appears nervous, and smooths his robes before sitting at a barren desk. Spartanly furnished but almost hospital clean, the room behind him sports plasteel walls with metal studs and not much else. A pict recorder sits on the metal table before him, its machine spirit gently humming with life. Kaunitzer takes a seat and starts to speak.

Uhh, is this thing on?

Kaunitzer’s face gets closer to the camera as he inspects it. There is a brief tapping sound on pict recorder, and then a clearing of his throat before he returns to his former position. Kaunitzer pulls a slightly crumpled sheet of paper from his pocket, and smooths it out on the desk before starting to read it out loud.

Hi uh, your excellentness? As instructed I will be recording my report of recent events – I understand that you’re supposed to get one of these from each of us. Intios tells me there’s an official format to these things, so if you’ll just let me read from this paper one second…

You hear the rustling of paper as Kaunitzer pulls a worn note from his pocket. It is partially crumpled and partially folded.

To Inquisitor Nozeth Karku La…

Kaunitzer winces as he butchers the name Nazauth Karkalla.

…from Acolyte Tilusch Kaunitzer, greetings.

Kaunitzer pauses briefly as his chest puffs up dramatically at the word acolyte, which causes his paunch to jiggle slightly. This doesn’t last long, and he allows his shoulders to slouch back down.

Subject: Mission update, Priority low, format pict recording.

Kaunitzer none too carefully crumples the paper and looks down as he returns it to his pocket. Returning his gaze to the pict recorder, he continues.

After escaping from the building, Karpath was able to navigate the hive terrain and drive us away from the fighting gangers we encountered on the way out. I mean, i’ve seen some squabbles over territory before, but that one was a doozy. This didn’t seem like no turf war!

Kaunitzer’s eyes continue to grow larger and larger, a bit of frantic agitation creeping into his eyes.

Men were dying all around. Larger guys fighting little guys and gunshots and swords and [section redacted by order of the Inquisition. See Inquisitor Karkalla for clearance.…and…and…

Kaunitzer takes a long pause to visibly collect himself. He is shaking and a sheen of perspiration has formed across his brow, which he doesn’t seem to notice, but it is clear even in the grainy image of the pict. Kaunitzer tries to continue as if nothing happened – the madness hasn’t actually left his eyes, but he seems slightly more focused.

Uh, a couple of wrong turns and false starts later, we were able to make it safely to what I later understood was the Arbites headquarters. Karpath hastily parked our vehicle into what I would guess is the staging area for Arbites before they go out on patrol. It seemed like Karpath didn’t show credentials because we made it through security very quickly, but I may be misremembering because…well your greatness, I was scared. I guess they knew to expect us, because the Arbites were ready to help carry the two unconscious folks, who I later learn are named Intios and Arion, and we got them loaded into an ambulance with “Munitorium Labo Hospital for the Greater Emperor’s Glory” stenciled on the side.

Despite being gravely injured Karpath waved off assistance and walked into the ambulance by himself. I was amazed. The Arbites even throw everyone’s gear in with them, untouched, which I guess makes sense ‘cause who wants to rifle through the stuff of an inquisitorial acolyte right? That weird box – the one Odessa carried out – goes with them too. Damn thing still gives me the willies and i’m nowhere near it right now. Right? I’m nowhere near it right now?

Kaunitzer:’s eyes grow slightly more wild and frantic, but then refocus more quickly than before.

So anyway, the three injured go off in the ambulance, I don’t know where the creepy woman has gone, and Salucci is sitting on the curb dazed…

Kaunitzer comically wags his finger at the pict recorder and makes a stern face, changing the pitch of his voice for the next sentence.

…At that point i’m thinking to myself, ‘Tilusch, you just get home to your wife this instant, she’s probably worried sick!’

Your exquisiteness, pardon me for saying so but the thoughts of my wife were what kept me sane all those days in captivity. No one seemed interested in me anyway – not the Arbites , not the acolytes, and not even Salucci, and never in my wildest nightm…

Kaunitzer coughs to cover what he was about to say.

…err, dreams did I expect to come to your attention, so I exited the complex and made the 3 hour trudge downhive to try to get home. To be honest I felt guilty about it what with them saving me and all, but they all seemed busy doing their own things. I’m a nobody – i’m just a line cook and a part time security guard and Emperor knows i’m not a even good at either of those things.

His eyes suddenly harden, and gone is the non-assertive, self-effacing Kaunitzer of before. It’s almost as if the slight insanity coalesced into something…else…leaving you to wonder what may have just been born before your eyes.

I found my wife with another man when I finally got home. Sufficed to say I was…displeased.

A slight glitch in the manner in which Kaunitzer was sitting alerts you to the fact that a section of the pict recording seems to be missing, almost as if it was rewound and taped over. Kaunitzer’s face is flushed, much like one’s face would get if one had been screaming or ranting for a while. He leans back, crosses his arms, and sneers – an ugly look that seems out of place on his otherwise placid features.

So. No wife, no chef job, and when I go to check in on my guard job, the Arbites grab me, take my gear, and take me back to the precinct where I get put in a holding cell. The guys that detain me don’t tell me why i’m held, only that it’s an “inquisitorial matter” and that I could get restrained or killed if I attempt to leave.

At the same time my life is turning to shambles around me, it’s my understanding that Karpath and Arion were bedridden and on their way to full recovery in the hospital, though Intios barely scraped by due to some malpractice by the attending chirurgeon. By the way, Inquisitor, whatever he may tell you, Intios is still weak from being on his deathbed – since the doctor’s malpractice almost killed him, we’ll have to watch him to make sure he doesn’t overexert himself.

Throughout the soliloquy, Kaunitzer’s demeanor slowly returns to what you think of as “normal”, and a he cracks an affable smile…something that is completely at odds with the Kaunitzer of a few minutes before.

I do have to commend your acolytes, Inquisitor. Emperor alone knows how I would react in a similar situation – but after 5 full days of getting patched back together, your team did not rest and they jumped immediately back into the investigation. The next part of this report I do not know first hand, but this is my brief impression of what happened after having spoken to the rest of the crew:

Intios, Arion, and Karpath reunite after being hospitalized, and seek out scribe Anita Arsette who they believe will have information about a Zach something-or-other. Ms. Arsette gives them information about the platform and public pathway at which he was seen, and further questioning leads them to try to track down visual pict footage from the security cameras of the area. This unfortunately is a dead end, so they go to seek out more information about Salucci and I, regarding the Trade Sable Hangars – which, by the way, was hangar 246 – where the two of us were abducted.

When I heard this, I was originally flattered – I thought that they were pursuing revenge for your newest acolytes…

Kaunitzer’s face falls.

…but it turns out they were following up not so much out of concern for us, but rather for what I’m guessing is the contraband that might be in the hangars. Frankly Karpath, Intios, and Arion probably could have just asked Salucci and I for this information, but they went to the management company and spoke with Ortiz Holstein. Mr. Holstein let them know that Salucci and I were guarding 246, which is a short and long term storage facility for off planet items.

The acolytes learned that three traders were using the hangars at the time in question: Oneida Kerst, Zax Holthan, and Jeina Melchert. The manifest turns out to be a dead end, and the pict feed just shows Salucci and I doing our rounds until we strangely disappear – my understanding is the tech priest Antee Lewkooz…

Kaunitzer shrugs as he does a terrible job with the name Antilochus.

…that was looking into it called it a “hiccup” in the feed. Long story short, turns out there’s this guy named Khouron Bellar who has a cousin he gave access to the pict feed, and this cousin cut out the portion where Salucci and I were taken captive.

Kaunitzer tilts his head to one side, scratches it, and scrunches up his face in confusion.
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Now here’s the thing…all the acolytes, even myself and Salucci, eventually end up in the same place, at the Arbites precinct – significantly higher uphive that i’ve ever been to before. I’m given these fancy new robes…

Kaunitzer makes expressive gestures to his clothing with his hands, and smooths an imaginary wrinkle.

…and you meet us there, telling the crew that Salucci and I are joining. Why? What makes me…us…stand out? Why did you send Salucci and the scary woman on one mission, and the rest of us to board the Fortune’s Path with captain Bizzerat? We are on the ship now, bound for the fringe world Sinophia in the Calixis Sector. I have been trying to make friends in the spare time that I have between Karpath‘s physical training regimen, but that doesn’t seem to be the lot of an Acolyte. I am afraid I am making a poor impression on the void born.

It is my fervent hope that I can meet your expectations. I honestly don’t feel I have anything to offer, but, by the Emperor’s toenails I am your man.

Kaunitzer looks suddenly humbled, except for a maniacal glint in his eye.

(in a small voice) When can I see my wife?
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Karpath's Flashback

As Karpath is lying down on a bed in the Munitorum Dominatus Labo Hospital for the Greater Emperor’s Glory he begins to have flashbacks to his time on Graia. In particular to when he lost his arm.

The sky was a dark color of red and black. With Orks ships streaming through the atmosphere by the thousands. So many of them it looked like ants in a frenzy. The Orks had taken control of the planetary defense cannon disabling any support for the 89th. But none of this broke the resolve of Karpath and his squad mates. They knew that the Emperor was with them.

He was on the front line against the ork invasion. He had been sitting in the same place for the last four days not leaving his foxhole or coming out from behind his heavy stubber. To his right was the squad psyker Canto Zarkov. To his left was his childhood friend and loader Tyruss Partheos. In the foxhole was also the squads medic Erioch Zarath and the riflewoman Acadi Rhia. Everyone else in the squad was dead. His mission here is to hold the line at all costs and to prevent the Orks from getting access to the Titan factories behind him. Karpath knew that the Orks would be attacking soon. He made sure that his heavy stubber was loading and ready to fire. From out beyond he heared the loud shouting of Orks as they charge. WAAAAAAAAGH! Karpath pulled back the cocking handle on his Heavy Stubber as the charging Orks come into sight. He began dispensing the Emperor’s Justice to the foul xenos by the form of large stubber rounds. For what feels like an eternity Karpath is laying on the trigger killing Orks by the hundreds as they charge into the killzone. But the Orks begin making headway, there is just too many of them. As the Orks get closer he pulls the trigger firing at a larger than normal Ork. The two seem to lock eyes after the burst from Karpath, and that is when Karpath hears that terrible noise. Click Click. Out of ammo. He looks over to the loader who gives him the sign that there is no more ammo left. The Nob sees his chance and charges the foxhole aiming for the pskyer who is fighting as if he was the Emperor himself incinerating Orks everywhere. Karpath grabbed a lasgun nearby and begins firing away at the Nob but is unable to drop him before he gets to the foxhole. As the Nob dove for the psyker about to tear him in half, Karpath jumped in the path of the diving Nob taking the swing to his left arm heavily damaging him. But in a remarkable show of strength and toughness Karpath begins fighting with the Nob seemingly ignoring all the hits the Nob gave out. Karpath gets the upper hand on the Nob and finishes him off with a few well placed shots from his trusty laspistol.

The medic came over to look at Karpath who is on the ground slumped over the Nob. The medic determines that he has to take off the arm if Karpath is to survive. The medic quickly removes the arm with skill and precision but causing a great deal of pain to Karpath. Karpath screams out as his arm is taken off and then cauterized by the Psyker instantly waking him from his near sleep state.Karpath proceeds to continue fighting with only one arm firing his laspistol at whatever moved fighting with the fury of the Emperor. The squad astonished that their squad leader is continuing the fight after losing his arm begins fighting on with renewed vigor.

Karpath looked behind him and saw three hulking figures wearing blue armor. With a cheer he shouts out that the Emperor has saved them. The Space Marines have arrived in the form of three UltraMarines fighting with the strength of ten men. The sight of the space marines begins stemming the tide of Orks. But just as the tables had been turned an Ork fired as rocket into Karpath’s foxhole knocking out the already wounded Karpath and killing the rest of his squad.

The next thing Karpath remembers is waking up two weeks later on a ship. He remembers the look of shock on the medical staff when he wakes up way sooner than was thought possible with someone as injured as Karpath. After a while he regains the strength to walk around and learns the fate of his squad and his unit. Karpath unable to cope with that his brothers and sisters were dead cries and slips into a deep depression. Karpath is regarded as a hero to those on the ship, but they are unable to chear up the depressed Karpath. During the trip Karpath is promoted to Lieutenant and is told that they are going back to Sepheris Secundus. It takes a very long time for Karpath to finally accept the fate of his unit. He eventually accepts it and knows to himself that he owes his life to the Emperor for it seems that the Emperor has bigger and greater things destined for the young Karpath.

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Tilusch Kaunitzer: A 40k Love Story, or How Kaunitzer Ended Up With Salucci in a Cage
There's no happy ending among the stars, only the laughter of thirsting gods.

Tilusch Kaunitzer was in love. It wasn’t a story slate romance love, where two sweetheart lovers are torn apart by fate and circumstance only to come back with fierce kisses sealing an enduring love for the ages. Neither was it an action adventure vid love, with an intrepid guardsman hero saving the damsel in distress from a hideous xenos creature, all the while making witty comments and keeping perfectly coiffed hair. You couldn’t even call it a steady, comfortable love, made of everyday moments stolen in between catching snippets of rest while working two downhive jobs and hustling the local card players, just to make the payments on the “efficiency” hab capsule.

In sad truth it was an incredibly unequal and one-sided love, where Kaunitzer supplied all the sweat equity, adoration, and pampering while his money-hungry shrew of a wife took complete advantage. It was a painful love – torturous and cruel, its days filled with a thousand shallow, sharp injuries to his heart like the tenderest caresses of a slaaneshi daemoness to its new favorite plaything. It was a love where pride was swallowed and hectoring was stoically borne in the hope that love might someday be returned, with the desperate tinge of bitterness at the back of the throat that came with knowing deep down it likely never would be. And it was this love that landed Tilusch Kaunitzer nearly naked, shivering in fear, in a cage with another prisoner. Completely unfair, to be sure…but nothing in this grimdark universe ever is.

The day started out like any other, with Tilusch rising to get ready for the day at 0400 from the sofa, where he had been banished to by his wife the night before for some unknown infraction. A quick shower, a bite to eat, and a generous helping of recaf saw him to his morning shift job as a line cook. After completing this 8 hour shift preparing vat cakes and grox bacon (with only two robbery attempts, a rarity in the poorest part of the hab), a 45 minute trudge further uphive then got him to his second job at the Port Gyre hangars, a part time security guard gig that he worked on Tuesday and Sunday evenings to help finance the costume jewelry his wife put on layaway.

Though the pathways he took from job to job were dimly lit and littered with refuse, the hangars were clean and well lit by comparison. Harsh white lights illuminated the perimeter fencing around the hangars, revealing razorwire strung both along the top of the fence and in the open ground between the hangars and the rest of the hive. Groundskeepers clearly kept the terrain clean, and this allowed chevroned floor lights to conspicuously mark the entrance and the subsequent pathway to the main administration building where the guards made their headquarters. It was to here that Kaunitzer made his way.

Changing into his uniform in the guard locker room, he greeted his fellow guards with a polite nod, asked after their families, and listened with a polite but disinterested air as they went through the motions of lying about how great things were. Behind him, Kaunitzer heard his partner Salucci cracking jokes in his familiar accent. Kaunitzer made eye contact, and with an upwards head nod to Salucci, Kaunitzer placed his right hand over his heart and extended three fingers while making a circle with his thumb and pointer finger in the universal sign of the half aquila. Together, Kaunitzer andSalucci headed over to read the night’s assignment roster slate. “Looks like central dispatch has us on that strange private hangar again,” Kaunitzer said, raising an eyebrow at Salucci. “I wonder what’s in there?”

With a shrug, the two linked up and headed out to execute the security circuit of their assigned hangar. Twenty three boring circuits on their predefined route saw early evening come and go, and though the night reached the witching hour the overhead lighting’s machine spirit still lit the hangars. It felt comfortable and safe, and with that came mind-numbing boredom, so Kaunitzer began to babble about his wife. “I met my baby on MinistrorumMingle.com, you know,” Kaunitzer told Salucci. “She’s the light of my life, and i’m working this job to get her something special. I mean, I know we have our issues some times, but she’ll come around and let me sleep in the bed again if I can get her this jewelry, you’ll see!” The rolling of Salucci’s eyes in complete disbelief of that statement was the last thing Kaunitzer remembered before waking up caged.

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Back to the Mid-hive
I wonder if they put me in a body bag?

From: Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

The last thing I remember about Three Stakes’ Rest is running down the catwalk toward the stairs down. As I ran down the stairs, I passed the shotgun wielder I was trading fire with. I pass him by a couple meters and took a point blank shot at him. To my surprise, my shot did not kill him outright. He was able to wheel around and shoot me with a shotgun blast. I don’t remember if it was my own screams ringing in my head but I did feel the sensation of falling down the stairs and hitting the floor below. All went black after that.

Odessa and Karpath were able to make it out of Three Stakes’ Rest and bring Arion and I back to the mid-hive. Apparently we able to obtain help from a couple of prisoners who were held in the manufactorum. I woke up in some sort of infirmary. It must be related to the Arbites stronghold as I see a fair amount of Arbitrators around. Karpath walks in and says, “Glad you’re awake. Here’s a dataslate containing a debriefing transcript of one of the prisoners we picked up in Three Stakes’ Rest. His name is Iacopo Salucci. It’ll make for interesting reading while you’re recovering.” I asked, “Did Odessa kill this person while getting this info?” Karpath just gives a wry grin and says, “That psyker will be the death of us. Get your rest but we need everyone on their feet soon.”

[In the words of Iacopo Salucci]

…I have known Tilusch Kaunitzer for a little while now. We were hired by the Trade Sable to be night guards at the Port Gyre facility. We were captured and put together in a cage within what we discovered was the manufactorum in Three Stakes’ Rest. I don’t know why we were thrown into the cage here. Maybe we got too close to the Trade Sable’s private hangar we were guarding?

After the first night in the cage, Kaunitzer would not stop talking about his wife. I told him that if we got out of here alive, I would strangle her myself. We were given meager rations and water during our detention. The armed guards in the manufactorum never spoke to us but kept on referring to someone as the boss. It must have been two weeks or so after arriving that Kaunitzer and I were awakened by gunfire nearby. These armed guards would often fire their guns in a further part of the manufactorum, but this new gunfire was very close by. Now we can clearly hear the guards running around and a fire fight of some sort around us.

After the gunfire settled down, I see a woman with an abnormally large head looking into our cage. She later introduces herself as Odessa. She quickly disappears and at that point, I see something I have never seen in my life. A portion of the manufactorum begins to rain blood. When the blood rain ceases, a blue twisting cloud appears before us. Kaunitzer and I have nowhere to run so we just put our heads down and hope everything goes away. All of a sudden, the door to our cage is thrown open and we are being pulled out by a tall man dressed in Imperial guard armor. He identifies himself as Karpath but insists that we call him Lieutenant. Odessa steps up and tells us that we are free but we must first serve the Emperor by assisting them with carrying two of their companions out. While I’m still stunned by what we saw earlier, Kaunitzer seemed to be in total agreement to help but still kept talking about wanting to see his wife.

Kaunitzer and I are quickly given some clothes, similar to the ones that the guards are wearing. We are also each given an autogun and stub automatic pistol. While I am helping with the two bodies we notice that the blue cloud starts to move slowly about. An instant later, to my unbelieving eyes, the blue cloud floats over a dead guard but the guard is dead no longer. What I can only describe as an undead being of grotesque appearance starts to run towards Kaunitzer. I hear a volley of automatic fire and Kaunitzer’s scream. The next second, he’s running away. I also take a shot at this undead creature but it is Odessa and the Lt. that put it down. We are then given instructions to get out of this area quickly.

With the bodies in tow, we follow the others through a series of hallways and even had to swing across chasms. In one of the narrow hallways, Kaunitzer whispers that he may have heard something down the passage ahead of us. Then he muttered something about being afraid of the dark. I told him maybe he shouldn’t have left the autogun behind. As we got further down the passage, there were definitely sounds of some sort of struggle. As I’m pulling the bodies along, I see the Lt. take the forward position. It’s obvious to me that we need to get through this crowd of people in front of us. I hear a grenade go off but just as I am getting the ringing out of my ears, Odessa steps forward and seems to concentrate on something down the hall. An odd and almost grotesque bulging of the veins on her neck was the last thing I saw before a ball of lightning formed around her and blasted me off my feet.

I’m not sure how we got out of the manufactorum but next thing I recall is being in the back of the vehicle that the Lt. was driving back towards the mid-hive. Upon arrival to a local precinct, I thought we were going to be let go but the others insisted on more questioning. Maybe they want to know what we saw and why we were thrown into the cage in the first place. I just want to get out of here and see my family.

[End dataslate transcript.]

It looks like I am going to have to get the rest of the transcript from Karpath. I did read some of Odessa’s notes stating that she found some dataslates in Zax Holthane’s office. There was even a note regarding the Rogue Trader auction but still no clue regarding time and place. As soon as I get on my feet again, I want to take a closer look at the data collected.

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Evacuation of Three Stakes' Rest
A good exit is one where there's functional members to evacuate the infirm

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TO: Inquisitor Nazauth Karkalla, Ordo Xenos
FROM: Acolyte Karpath Rommulus, Ordo Xenos; Hive Goriana, Solomon System
SUBJECT: Mission Update
PRIORITY: Moderate
MESSAGE FORMAT: Submitted to Inquisitorial Locus in Hive Gloriana, Solomon

After vanquishing the foul servitor Odessa and I proceeded to search the offices for the information we needed. I failed to find anything relevant but Odessa discovered some documents and a few data slates that we shall inspect at a later date to determine the contents. She also found a strange weapon magazine that I expertly determined was a shotgun magazine. Odessa also searched under the rugs, in the plants, and between the couches finding a few mags for an autopistol and a key to an unspecified door.

We continued to look around until we found a corridor with a large hole in it we determined that it would be best to go back and check on the other acolytes. Coming back to the main room we learned that the warp whirlpool thing was growing bigger. We decided that letting the two poor schmucks out of the cell would be advantageous to use seeing how Intios and Arion were down for the immediate future. After a short conversation we discovered that they were Port Gyre hanger guards and had been there for a few weeks. One was named Iacopo Salucci and the other was named Tilusch Kaunitzer.
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Just as we were unlocking the two in the cell and arming them, the void whirlpool moved over a body and created this foul zombie warp monster. The zombie chased Kaunitzer after he put a full auto burst into the monster and Kaunitzer decided it would be prudent to run away. As Kaunitzer ran away Odessa and I fired on the monster until we downed the creature. Odessa identified the whirlpool as a direct portal to the warp. We decided that it would be best to evacuate the unconscious acolytes before the warp whirlpool got worse. On our way out Odessa discovered a strange box that showed obvious signs of the warp taint. We decided that it would be a good idea to take it with us.

Going the only way we thought we could get out we went to where the large gap in the floor was. As we looked down the corridor at the very edge of our vision we spotted a large hammer from those large hammer gangers. Deciding that I would be the best for crossing the gap alone due to my past training I hooked up to the grapnel and line and made the jump across. After landing on the other side I unhooked and sent the harness back over. I proceeded to check around the corner finding only the hammer and not the ganger that usually carried it. Taking turns swinging across the gap we got the entire cell across the gap but unfortunately we had to leave the magnetic grip of the grapnel and line behind. We carried Intios and Arion down the hall and sent Odessa forward to scout ahead to make sure we didn’t run into any unexpected surprises while we carried the other acolytes to safety.
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Odessa reported that she heard sounds of a melee going on ahead in the path. Odessa and I scouted forward and saw that the large hammer guys were fighting with these very shady characters. Taking advantage of the fight between the two groups we took the unconscious acolytes down the hallway until we encountered a group of five people two of them hammer guys, the other three were the other gangers. They were in our way and we don’t tolerate people that get in our way. I threw a grenade down the hallway into the middle of them killing a few of them and kicking off combat. I tried to stop one of the gangers from running away and maybe see if they weren’t hostile but they failed to heed my commands and ran anyways. During the combat Odessa exploded out in a huge wave of electricity disabling my weaponry and arm. Soon enough I regained the use of my arm and weaponry and we made our way out of the manufactorum.

I remembered my way back up to the Arbites stronghold and after some careful navigation we managed to escape the manufactorum with everybody intact and some of the information that we needed.

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In Control of the Three Stakes Rest Manufactorum...for Now
Can't an Acolyte loot in peace?

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From: Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

When we last left our Sciscitatio Task Force, Arion had taken a snipers bullet and Intios had taken a point blank blast from a shotgun. Karpath only hearing their last muffled screams through the vox decided to investigate after taking care of his immediate foe. Odessa was guarding the roll-up door entrance.
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There were multiple Deathskin gangers at the entrance but Odessa was keeping them at bay. Karpath was able to reach Intios’s last position where he spotted one more attacker. Karpath took him out with a few careful Las shots but not before seeing a mysterious figure escape through a trap door in the ground. Karpath deciding that it may not be a good idea to go down the trap door alone, he proceeded to gather up Arion and Intios’ bodies. He then started looking around the manufactorum and discovered a body count of 10 attackers.
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One of the snipers had an ID named Arbalon Cusher as well as a key card. The other sniper had a tattoo on his neck saying Grygiel. A micro bead was taken off of the sniper but there seemed to be no current communications. Another ID was found on an autogun carrying attacker with the name of Garret Biever. While Karpath was taking inventory of the bodies, the blood from the grates was still pouring out. He also discovered a cage with two live prisoners in the north east area of the manufactorum.

Karpath then sees a small passage leading away from the east side. He takes a quick look and first smells food and then what appears to be an area with multiple sleeping cots. Again, deciding that searching this area on his own may not be the best idea, he steps out and relays what he discovers to Odessa via their vox line.

Moments later, Karpath sees what he describes as a blue funnel cloud appear 30 meters away from him. The cloud is about 3 meters wide and maybe 4 meters tall…and appeared to be growing. As this unusual cloud starts to make Karpath uneasy, he quickly calls Odessa for her opinion on this possible warp phenomenon. Karpath and Odessa soon switch places, with Karpath guarding the door while Odessa investigates the cloud.

Odessa discerns that the cloud is of definite warp nature but with her sanctioned training, she is able to resist any effects. Odessa quickly questions the two prisoners before heading into the east tunnel. Neither Odessa nor Karpath were able to use the controls to close the roll up door. As Karpath did not want the Deathskin gangers interrupting their investigation, he throws a couple of grenades and along with a few well-placed Las shots; he is able to collapse the roof of the entrance.
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Karpath quickly joins Odessa along the eastern tunnel. With the key card found, the two were able to open a door that lead into what seemed like a private office. There were documents detailing older Trade Sable transactions. Some of the documents even had a few names, with Lans Guljian being one of them. Moments later, a lone combat servitor comes to life. Unable to deactivate it, the servitor charges Odessa with its chainaxe. Odessa is able to run out of the room and find cover. While doing so, Karpath unleashes a semi-auto burst of Las fire into the servitor. While effective, it does not stop the servitor. The servitor wheels around onto Karpath and connects with its chainaxe.

Unable to keep his feet, Karpath reels back and drops his Las gun. Odessa is able to summon her bio-lightning and hit the servitor square in the body. Still the servitor is up. With Odessa being the only cell member on her feet, she knows she needs to put an end to this servitor and get out alive.

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The Battle in the Old Manufactorum
The Emperor requires much from his servants

Symbol_-_Red_I_black_background.jpg The unofficial Sciscitatio Joint Task Force continued its battle with the heretics in the vast dark reaches of the old manufactorum located in Three Stakes’ Rest…an underhive region masquerading as the midhive.

The brave killer that separated Emperor’s foes from their life-giving fluid had fallen to a sniper’s round just a minute or so prior. His fellow Acolyte was trying to convey his still form, mangled blood-soaked leg and all, off the scaffolds & to relatively safety. Determining to move Arion with all of his gear, the best Intios could do was to lift Arion’s torso and drag him while walking backwards towards the nearest scaffolding steps…which was slow going. One of the denizens of this old forgotten place, who had heard the firefight had run for these same stairs. Reaching the top before the Acolyte duo, he peeked over the top of the steep stairs and commenced firing with shotgun blasts directed at Intios’ approaching back.

The Adept dropped prone, unslung his sniper weapon of choice & returned fire. The two filled the air with potential death, the Adept having the superior skill & weapon, but his shotgun-wielding foe having the tactical advantage of cover. With both the smell of gunpowder & the peculiar burnt oxygen of lasfire hanging in the air, the shotgun suddenly disappeared from sight over the edge of the stairs. After pausing a handful of heartbeats Intios boldly rose & charged. The Acolyte crested the top of the stairs at a run to find his foe having crawled just a few meters below the edge to reload. Intios deftly maneuvered past & hit the brakes a couple meters below his target on the steep stairway, wheeling to fire. The darkness, however, is not so easily defeated. As the Emperor’s warrior-Adept was spinning, his foe had just chambered his reloaded weapon. After the concussive shriek of their weapons subsided, Intios’ leg was shredded, as the point blank shotgun blast ripped the flesh off the bone & blew the Adept off his feet. Intios could be heard screaming as he careened down the steep metal stairway twenty meters to the ground below, turning them red with the spray from his mangled leg.
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Elsewhere in the manfactorum’s dark depths, Karpath Rommulus was dropping foes with precision Guardsman shooting from his backpack powered lasgun assault weapon.
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Odessa charged into the fray, letting the warp course through her & boiling the very blood of multiple heretics. At one point, the trails of her warpish attentions passed close to a grate in the floor…and suddenly an unending torrent of blood fired through the grate, shooting up in the air and causing a red downpour for twenty meters all around. After dispatching multiple foes via flame & smoke, she was struck & knocked unconscious.

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The UnderHive Masquerading as the MidHive
Precious little rest in Three Stakes’ Rest

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The unofficial Sciscitatio Joint Task Force have been pursuing an investigation of dangerous warp-tainted xenos artifacts in the Solomon System of the Markayn Marches. Such an item had cost the life of a noble, Lans Guljian, who had obtained it from a dangerous midhive gang known as the Babyfaces. The Cell, after having delivered some of the Emperor’s justice, had obtained through interrogation the name of their source. Zax Holthane was a purveyor of offworld goods for a trading house called the Trade Sable, and operated out of an area located in the lowest levels of the midhive known as Three Stakes’ Rest.
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This level of Hive Gloriana, as they’d been warned, was essentially the Underhive masquerading as the Midhive. The acolytes had successfully avoided any unwanted dangerous entanglements getting there through the canny navigating of Karpath Rommulus, his Guardsman basic training coming in handy. However, now deep in the thick of their destination, dealing with the lawless refuse of the vast Hive above was unavoidable.

The Cell tangled with a group Acolyte Arion believed to be a group of gangers of the “Deathskin” ilk. They were huge males in essentially loincloths, their skin covered in what Acolyte Intios identified as a lard of some kind. They weren’t too fast, but they swung huge mallets that looked like they could pulverize in a single blow. There was evidence there that they were cannibals. It looked like they had set up shop in a few rooms of the area & didn’t take well to the Acolytes visit. The superior armor & armaments of the Emperor’s soldiers proved victorious, but not before Odessa had some ribs caved in by one of the giant clubs.

The Cell came across some crates that appeared to be rerouted shipments. Much was already removed, but there was some ammunition, Ecclesiarchal holy oil & various food stuffs.
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The acolytes found a large abandoned manufactorum. It had a structurally unstable look to it & they found it to be full of rusted equipment & machinery of all shapes and sizes. Crates, chests and lockers were there…most of them empty, but showing signs of recent use. Acolytes Odessa & Karpath were assigned to guard the large entrance the Cell had used, making sure that none escaped, while Acolytes Arion & Intios explored the huge warehouse. They had made their way through perhaps half of it when a shot rang out & a ballistic round struck near Intios. Lighting was low here; their optics allowed them to see reasonably, but the cavernous darkness of this old manufactorum made it hard to know where precisely the shot had come from. Arion & Intios determined the attacker was above on some catwalks that criss-crossed the area. Another shot came their way & both acolytes sprinted for the nearest stairs they could see that would get them up there.

The assassin’s speed was on full display as Arion, in a blur, was suddenly running at full speed on the catwalk thirty meters above. Intios followed behind and took a shooting position at the top of the steep metal stairs. The second sniper on a neighboring catwalk targeted Intios, but the shot hit the scaffolding. The Cell’s assassin is quite difficult to target, especially when at full speed. However, this sniper Arion was charging kept his cool and put a round on target…Arion was badly bloodied, but did not fall. He stepped to the side, knowing that Intios was behind him, waiting for his view of the target to clear. Intios’ shot goes wide & Arion completes his fifty meter charge, striking down the sniper foe with his sharp hungry blade.

But alas, the second sniper had repositioned himself where the catwalks connect and, like Intios, was waiting for a clear shot. When Arion struck down the sniper’s comrade, the sight did indeed clear & he fired…badly disfiguring the swordsman’s leg, bone jutting out and blood erupting like a fountain over the catwalk all around. Arion collapsed to the ground, involuntarily yelled out & clutched his wrecked limb…instinctively trying to stop the gushing red liquid escaping from his body.

Through the Cell’s circuit, Intios called for Karpath to rush to the catwalk’s stairs on the opposite side of the massive chamber. Odessa dashed across the nearby open expanse and took the cover of some crates still very near the entrance the Cell had come in. She strained to see up in the darkness but couldn’t manage to see the action, while still being able to ensure none escaped through the door. Intios & the sniper exchanged errant shots, while Karpath raced to a flanking position – the ex-Guardsman noting how unstable the stairs were. Soon Karpath & Intios had the sniper targeted from both directions. Karpath hit the scaffolding near his target. The already old, rusty platform gave way when the las bolt hit, sending a few meters of it – and the sniper – plunging to the darkness below.

Another foe opened fire on Karpath from a neighboring catwalk, putting an autogun round in Karpath’s midsection; but his armor blunted its penetration & the injury was a flesh wound. Karpath returned fire, the accurate lasbolt setting his doomed opponent aflame.
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Down to the Lower Levels - Down to Three Stakes' Rest
Leaving a mark on the Babyfaces

Skinner__2_.jpgWhen we last left our defenders of the Imperium, they were trying to make their escape from the Screaming Wheel with their prisoners from the Babyfaces gang, the most notable being Skinner. The smoke had cleared on the Causeway above, where Intios & Odessa had fought a couple of Babyfaces gangers who had individually come to the scene. The crowd at this point had, for the most part, succeeded in getting out of the way of the suddenly erupting deadly skirmish.

Arion sent up a prisoner & followed closely behind. In the meantime, Intios saw the smoke & dust of the midhive swirling far down the causeway, indicating a rapidly approaching vehicle in the distance. The Adept took the opportunity to do a bit of quick looting…err, rather, checked the bodies of the felled foes. The vehicle arrived even faster than he anticipated, causing he & Odessa to grab Skinner & drag him as quickly as they could to the nearby alley mouth.Babyface_Vehicle.jpg

It was a sedan, painted in the bright colors of the Babyfaces with a large skull on the hood. It came in at velocity & screeched to a halt in front of the alley that Intios & Odessa had dragged Skinner.

Bullets, grenades & las bolts flew. When the dust settled the gangers lay still & the Acolytes endured. At the end of the skirmish in an attempt to escape, a ganger had slammed the vehicle into the alley mouth. Despite the damage, the Cell loaded their prisoners & themselves inside and drove to the level’s stairway. It was going to be a few hours journey to the main Arbites precinct fortress in the upper level of the midhive, so here they saw to the wounded. Even their captive Skinner received treatment; can’t have him bleeding on the magtrains, much less dying on them before “Q&A”. Intios tried to diagnose their wheeled trophy’s smoking ills, but it was damaged beyond his rudimentary mechanical knowledge – so they abandoned it there.
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Some hours later they were in the interrogation room that Arbitrator Haug Godgrafen had provided for their use. Unusual for an Inquisitorial Cell, none of the acolytes were particularly skilled at the art of interrogation, but Odessa knew the basics…and she got to work. Without permanently scarring him, she gathered from their captive Lino that he worked with the Babyfaces in their extortion racket. While the gangers insisted on collecting the money, Lino kept up communications with many of the establishments in the Pasterkamp area that purchased “protection insurance” from the gang. Odessa was satisfied that he didn’t know anything about the gang’s Cold Trade activities.

Next subject for her exceptionally strong will was Skinner. He clearly wasn’t happy about revealing his xenos source, but after some effective persuasion he told the psyker the name & “address” of where he got his most expensive wares. Zax Holthane of the Trade Sable, who maintained an office of sorts in the lowest reaches of the midhive. Skinner told them Holthane tended to conduct business in Three Stakes’ Rest. It was the unofficial name given to an ill-delineated area of forlorn, decaying habs, forgotten chambers and structurally unsound passages and roadways. He helpfully offered that, though it lied above the generally accepted boundary, Three Stakes’ Rest was in many ways an extension of the lower hive. Skinner had met Holthane there once, when they were starting to do business together. The acolytes had Skinner leave the Sable Trader a message, to try to schedule a meet, to which Holthane was amenable. The acolytes once again contacted GlorAuthority Captain Gaston Bernotas to see if he’d ever heard of this Three Stakes Rest. That lower level of the midhive is thousands of square kilometers large, with countless regions & areas – practically none of which are well defined or officially named. However, to Captain Bernotas’ surprise, it did ring a bell. He confirmed what Skinner had told them about Three Stakes’ Rest. What Karpath, the only member of the Cell with any navigational abilities, really wanted was some kind of directions – something that can be quite elusive when talking about levels that low. Bernotas had never been there, but after a few calls he was able to sketch a poor map of where it should be. They were looking for a waterfall, one that came out of a monstrous piece of forgotten tech known as “the Consolium”. While Karpath focused on the ‘where’, Intios worked on the ‘how’, by persuading the Arbites to lend the Cell a vehicle for the lower midhive. He also asked Godgrafen to provide for the storage of the dangerous xenos statuary they had obtained in the Screaming Wheel. The Cell’s tally to the Arbites continued to grow. Acolytes with las weapons took the opportunity to charge them using the Arbites equipment – and off they went once again to the midhive’s lowest reaches.

Several hours later, Karpath was hopefully driving them towards the Consolium in an unmarked Arbites sedan with decent wheel clearance. The ex-Guardsman’s sense of direction surprised even him and it was no more than three hours after they’d reached this level of the hive that they started to hear an avalanche of falling water. This huge tech landmark was quite a sight – as advised, you couldn’t miss it since it was the size of a large building. The machine & surrounding area was covered with the rich verdure that copious amount of water can bring – but Arion’s keen sight spotted movement to the right of the giant machine, as the Cell approached. They circled the area, for they’d been told there was rumored to be more than one portal, all of them near the Consolium.

Off a ways on the opposite side of the giant device from which Arion had seen movement a bit earlier, they spotted a lone individual who then reentered the treeline disappearing from sight.

The group then investigated the area Arion had seen movement earlier, driving right into the encampment they found there. There was a ruin in a clearing & a few individuals showing obvious scars and wearing skins went into the structure upon their vehicle’s approach. The Cell dismounted and asked for directions to Three Stakes’ Rest. They wanted to barter for any information, but the Cell decided they didn’t really have anything they were willing to part with – and so drove on.

The acolytes went in search of the lone individual they’d seen & came upon some tracks they presumed to be his. The assassin tracked these human footsteps to the base of one of the huge pylons around the perimeter of the Consolium. There he saw footpegs leading up about five meters, where there was a rope, hidden in the foliage. Up he went, finding markings of a path of sorts all they way up to the giant mouth of the machine, where the water came flowing over the edge. Back at the vehicle, the rest of the group removed a small part of the engine, worked to camouflage it & joined Arion. Inside the device’s huge orifice was the deafening roar of the waterfall & the darkness deep inside where the water was coming from. They also saw the reason why there were so many avians, that Intios had identified as scavengers, flying around the machine’s mouth. Some flotsam-looking material was hooked on some tendrils of foliage growing near the water’s edge & there were two corpses tangled in it. The avians had no head as per se but squirted out a liquid that seemed to partly emulsify what it hit; then the creature would hop over and slurp up the partly liquefied feast. There was a large brass plaque covered in wording along the top of the machine’s mouth, but none recognized the words. Lastly, there was a square shaft that descended into the darkness & a metal cable hanging down.

Led by Arion, one by one they climbed down deep into the blackness – some 70-90 meters was the consensus. The shaft descended further, but it was at this point that they came to a corridor they could walk out into, either North or South, and they egressed the shaft to the South. Odessa detected the stench of the warp wafting out of the shaft farther below.
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Task Force Sciscitatio Meets the BabyFaces Gang
The Acolytes show their expertise in aggressive xenos negotiations

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From: Intios; Adeptus Administratum & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

While in the Shiny Goblet, my conversation with Lord Gabriel Kantor went quite well. I inquired if he had a relative that may have fallen fromThe_Shiny_Goblet.jpg the ranks of the nobles and disappeared into the mid-hive. He started fuming and stating something about wanting to duel. I leaned in close and quietly said, “You do not want to do that. It will not be in your best interest to proceed with your rant!” Kantor stepped back, shaken. Arion then stepped in and said that we are just looking for some information and we are always discreet with information garnered. With his guard finally down, Kantor told us that his cousin, Varden, had recently disgraced the family name and disappeared into the mid-hive. He had someone look for Varden but did not find any information. Kantor suspected foul play. I asked for a description of Varden and then told Kantor I’d let him know if I see him.

We went back to the Inquisitorial safe house to get fully loaded and geared up. I put a call into Arbitrator Godgrafen inquiring if he had any contacts with the GlorAuthority in the Tourachon & Pasterkamp neighborhoods in the lower mid-hive. Godgrafen gave me the name of Gaston Bernotas, who may have some experience with that area.

I then called Bernotas, who claimed that he hadn’t talked to Godgrafen in years. I asked him if he had any experience with the Pasterkamp area. Bernotas didn’t want to divulge any information to new “associates” of Godgrafen so I sent him our signed and sealed letter of Sciscitatio. The sealed letter seemed to be good enough for Bernotas. He asked how he could help. I told him that we were planning on visiting the Screaming Wheel and if he could provide any further information about the area or the BabyFaces gang. Bernotas confirmed that the BabyFaces controlled Pasterkamp and that they are quite violent. With directions in hand, we set off for the Screaming Wheel.

Through various modes of transportation, we made it to the Screaming Wheel cantina within 4 to 5 hours. We walked into a tightly packed bar with the distinct smell of Lho smoke and tinny music blasting from a speaker within the room. The bartender identified himself as Kruger and proceeded to take our order. We noticed a group of 4 younger and well-dressed men in the back corner of the bar. I noticed that they were talking and laughing at a man on his knees just besides their table. I draw the attention of my team towards the man on his knees. Then a solid projectile round goes off and the kneeling man suddenly collapses.

Arion then walks up to the four young toughs in the corner. I follow a step behind. Arion asks if one of them is Skinner. They say who’s asking. We tell them that we heard that Skinner is the one to talk to about obtaining rare artifacts. We also mention that we received this information from Lans Guljian. Whether they believed our story or not seemed inconsequential as the opportunity for them to do more business was too hard to resist. The one who identified himself as Skinner told us to come back in 24 hours.

Arion then went to take a look at the backroom and discovered that there was a ladder that led up to the main concourse area. Arion also spent some time following the four BabyFaces we talked to as well as another associate that later stopped into the bar. Arion followed the 4 gang members to some sort of restaurant and then to a communication den. Apparently one of the gang members sent a coded message to another communications den. Arion was also able to find out the possible dwelling of the fifth associate which was located in a twelve unit hab block.

We stopped by 24 hours later to find the BabyFaces waiting for us. They were quite jovial when Skinner pulled out a box from underneath the table and told me to take a look. I step in for a look as Skinner pulls the cover of the box aside. What I see resembles the statuette that Lans Guljian had unopened inside his doorway. I involuntarily take a step back as Odessa states she can feel the warp taint on the statue. I say to Skinner and the rest of my team, “It looks good.” Skinner said this was a new shipment but he doesn’t always have control of new products received. He said he could keep an eye out for particular items if we wanted. He also said the price of this statue will be 35,000 thrones. Since Skinner said he would prefer an untraceable form of transaction, I told him it may be a few hours to get that sum.
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Arion and I stepped away from the statue and returned back to where Odessa and Karpath were seated. The four of us debated on our next course of action. It was decided that we would take down the BabyFaces here and now. We each had our assignments on who to take out. Our plan triggered when Arion walked up to the BabyFaces ganger standing next to Skinner. Arion made quick work of him by slicing him in the chest. Karpath shot the confiscated web pistol at the fifth associate that was standing at the bar. Odessa unleashed her bio-lightning at the ganger standing at the opposite side of the table. A shot from my heavy las pistol ended the life of the ganger that Odessa hit.

Unfortunately at the same time Arion cut his foe down, Skinner was able to unload a volley from his autopistol. It seemed like four shots hit Arion. With Arion reeling, Odessa quickly acted and used her warpish powers on Skinner and stunned him. There were two more gangers at their table and they quickly fired off their solid projectile weapons at me and Karpath. Karpath was able to dispose of the ganger to the far south by shooting him under the table. The ganger I was trading fire with eventually got out of his seat, seeing that Skinner had Arion’s knife to his throat. This ganger ran up to Arion and put his pistol up to Arion’s head and said, “Let Skinner go or I’ll blow your head off.”

Seeing this, I squeezed my trigger and by the grace of the Emperor, the ganger’s head immediately exploded all around and onto Arion and Skinner. Arion tilts his head towards me and as I have become accustomed to saying to the assassins I’ve worked with, “You’re welcome.” Karpath notices that the one hit with the web pistol has now escaped. He didn’t get far as he was just behind the bar. I walk over to Arion to help him with his hold on Skinner. I then hear a woman scream and run towards me. I told her to stop and when she didn’t, I shot her once in the body but it didn’t drop her. She runs by me and yells, “Oh no, Varden!” She stops at the now dead body of the one that was cut down by Arion. I quickly remove Varden’s mask and take a quick photo for evidence. We quickly strip the gangers of their autopistols and their concealed mesh armor.

We begin to make preparations to take both Skinner and Lino out of the Screaming Wheel. Karpath says he has spotted a few people on the ramp leading into the front entrance. We decide to take the ladder up from the back room and onto the main concourse. I would be first to go with Odessa following. Arion is tying up both the gangers with just enough rope slack for them to walk and climb the ladder with their own strength.

As I am climbing the ladder, I can tell that there are faces looking down into our area. I get to the top and notice that there are a few people standing around the opening. They disperse when I climb through. As I look around, I see one figure around the corner with a similar BabyFaces mask on. I hear a burst of autopistol fire and one round hits me in the arm.
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I immediately draw my long las. The Inquisition finally found it prudent to agree to my requisition from 6 months ago and now I am eager to put it to use. With a smooth pull of the trigger, I see his right arm disintegrate. I run to the location of the gunman that fired at me. Moments later, I hear another round of autogun fire. I am hit again but I am able to return fire. I hit this second gunman in the leg but he is still conscious. After trading another round of las and autogun fire, Odessa reaches the top of the opening. I signal the direction of the second gunman and she immediately lets out a bolt of bio-lightning. The gunman is now lying face down on the pavement. I start to take out the ammo of the autopistol of the first shooter and then run towards to second shooter and also empty the guns of their ammo. I leave the guns aside but put away the clips into my backpack.

I now anxiously await our two prisoners as well as the rest of our team.

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