Emperor Preserve

THE BRIEFING ABOARD THE INQUISITORIAL CUTTER

Well, there they were, all summoned to the Emperor’s service. You wonder sometimes if most citizens might not doubt the Holy Ordos even exists – and here they were going to work for it. Not that they applied for the job. The door to the cutter closed with finality and there they were.

Phaedros Drenn was very surprised to see that he recognized some faces & then started the introductions. Eugentes Doson & Crucius Magnus, it was years back now & the names meant nothing but he knew who they were. The albino Lexxicon he didn’t recognize – should he? Once pleasantries were finished he told them to get comfortable so he could tell them why they were there. That got their attention. He started from the beginning and carried the tale right through to that cutter door closing. The account lasted just long enough for the cutter door to be opened again, this time at a Scintilla planetary low orbiting station. The door was open just long enough for one man to enter, Gaiseric, the Interrogator for Inquisitor Globus Vaarak.

None of them really even knew the Inquisitor that had summoned them, Inquisitor Elena Vilhelmina Kholettis, much less the one they answered to now, Inquisitor Vaarak. It was all somewhat fantastic…and somewhat disconcerting since, after all, they hadn’t been given a choice. But to serve the Emperor was a privilege…and for the Inquisition…surreal.

Interrogator Gaiseric was a sizable man and stood straight as a ship’s plumb line. He gave the impression he was used to his orders being followed. Save for a small lapel pin, he wore unadorned carapace armour, smooth and formidable. It bulged somewhat at the back of his neck and shoulders, probably indicating the ability to extend over his head and be sealed. He walked in holding a shotgun and wore a bolter pistol at the hip. Slightly above and behind him hovered a Skull Servitor, apparently watching for what its master might miss. It seemed unlikely Interrogator Gaiseric knew what small talk was.

The Interrogator briefly explained that their team had been summoned by Inquisitor Kholettis and were therefore part of her group but, due to her current incapacitation, answered to Inquisitor Vaarak, just as he did. He alluded to a rather grim view of the sector’s status and that the Inquisition was stretched painfully thin in countering the Emperor’s legion of enemies in the region. Unsettling – wasn’t the Inquisition supposed to be all-powerful with the Emperor’s vast might at their call? Due to the veritable siege that the sector was under, Vaartak was in need of fresh feet for this investigation he was charged with. Kholettis had already assembled this group and he decided to trust her judgment. Gaiseric was point man for the investigation on Scintilla and in charge of this new team Vaarak was sending to Sepheris Secundus.

A key to the gates of Gorgonid Mine had been found around the neck of The Pale Throng cell’s head mutant and they were to look for a connection. However, their primary mission was to get the Gorgonid mine reopened. An uprising, not previously thought to be connected with The Pale Throng, had stopped production in the mine. Gaiseric stressed how Sepheris Secundus is economically critical to the sector and so a detachment of Imperial Guard were quickly sent to put down the rebels, which they made short work of. However, in pursuing the rebels deep into the mine the Emperor’s soldiers ran into warp spawn they suffered terrible casualties against. The Commissar of the force withdrew, sealed the mine & sent for the Inquisition.

SEPHERIS SECUNDUS

They arrived in the Imperial Guard encampment. It looked fresh from battle. Many dead bodies dotted the landscape along with burned out vehicles and other wreckage of various kinds. The team noticed that most of the visible soldiers were looking at them, which continued throughout their stay. A young soldier, Jurtz ran up to them introducing himself and asking which one of them was the Inquisitor? The recruit’s commanding officer, Sargent Raynard, arrived reprimanding Jurtz and not hiding the fact the he wasn’t impressed with what the Inquisition had seen fit to send. He led the team to the Commissar’s office, a large red hab-block with the Aquila on the side.

Commissar Nihilius, in his late thirties with coal black hair/eyes and a craggy face, who appeared to be no-nonsense gave the team a briefing of what had transpired so far. The Guard had put down the uprising quickly & were ready to ship out. However, the Commissar discovered a sheaf of papers on one of the rebels that he deemed to contain proscribed text. This prompted him to have his troops go in to clear the mines in case many rebels had fled there. That went fine until his forces arrived deep in the mines known as The Shatters. There his squads, under the command of Sargent Raynard, suffered numerous casualties from what they described as “twisted mutants, daemons and worse”. The Commissar ordered his troops out, sealed the mine & sent for the Inquisition. The Commissar gave them a map of the mine that was marked to get them to the troubled area of The Shatters &, urging all possible speed, suggested he leave for the mine forthwith to start getting the large seal moved and meet the team there. The team at that point asked to see the proscribed texts and for some equipment. The Commissar assured them that he was the only one who had seen the papers, that he had securely locked them away & would bring the Acolytes to it. Lastly that his Quartermaster would have some equipment for them.

The Commissar took them out to a locked storage locker and gave them the box the text was in and left them ordering all troops to keep their distance. Doson kept his distance but the rest of the team opened the box and without touching it examined closely the sheet on top. None of the Acolytes had the knowledge to make sense of it…but that top page contained some very disconcerting drawings that seemed to be a warning for what was inside. Lexxicon through her powers ascertained that the document had a warp presence and was fairly strong. The team had the text locked back up without delving any further in it.

They obtained some equipment from the Quartermaster, including some Flak Cloaks, Laspistols, knives, cold weather gear, electric torches, rations & quite a bit of rope.

On the way out of camp they stopped by the prisoner containment area they’d noticed earlier. One claimed their innocence when they tried to speak to them. The Acolytes tried to parlay with him but to no avail.

The team arrived at the sealed mine entrance going through throngs of locals who were huddled around fires. The crowd had many deformities and were terrified of the Acolytes. Recruit Jurtz was there and asked the Acolytes if they could keep their eye open for his mate Hastus. The team was surprised to see that the seal was moved back and forth by large local beasts harnessed to the seal. The Commissar warned them not to be in a hurry to get out because it took about 30m to get the beasts harnessed up and the seal to be moved enough for them to egress. As the team prepared to proceed in the Commissar said he almost forgot, his forces were attacked repeatedly deep in the mine by flocks of strange crows – a bird that is not indigenous to the planet. Lexxicon exercised her Psyniscience while standing next to the Commissar & detected a faint taint of the warp in the area. The mine was opened enough…and the team went in.

GORGONID MINE

Once inside Crucius donned his armour, which up until that time he had carried with him. The team noticed they were in a pretty big obviously machined space, with water running down the side of many of the tunnels proceeding outwards. They then noticed a pile of dead Imperial Guard in this area they were in and scavenged available equipment off of them.

Following the map the team headed down one of the tunnels for several hours. Eventually, down the tunnel quite a bit they could make out a mound of something with some movement on top. Eugentes used his hunting rifle’s scope to identify the mound as dead bodies and the movement was from strange crows. The team proceeded cautiously towards the bodies, watching to see what the birds would do. Crucius decided to follow 45 meters behind the rest of the team with his weapon ready. When the Acolytes got 65 meters from them the birds sat up and stared at them. When the group got to within 25 meters the birds flew off. They had been eating the mutant bodies. The party agreed that there was something odd about the crows; Doson having gotten a bit better look through the scope thought it perhaps their eyes. Crucius decided to continue to trail the rest of the party by 45 meters. He takes some of the rope the party has and uses it to tie his axe to his wrist.

The Acolytes found at one point that the shaft had, for reasons unknown, dropped down 10 meters. A number of the party were uncomfortable with what might have caused it. They would have to descend a nearly sheer surface to get down to where the passage continued. They tied one of their four 15-meter segments of rope to a beam and began to climb down one-by-one. Phaedros made it down fine and guarded the bottom. Eugentes, however, soon after getting on the rope lost his grip and, failing to recover, fell the 10 meters to the ground below suffering significant injuries. After that Crucius rejoined the group from behind. At that point, the group decided to tie the rope around the party member and lower them to the ground below. They did that until Crucius was the only one left above. He tied another rope to the same beam and tied it to himself for a safety harness. It turns out he needed it as he also lost his grip and was caught by the impromptu safety line. Taking his time he eventually made it down without harm.

Much farther down into the mine they came across a metal door with a wheel closing mechanism and a window covered in blood on the inside. It took the whole team to try and open it but finally Doson got the door unstuck. They found a slew of Imperial Guard who they figured had been badly wounded and locked themselves inside for protection from something but had then bled to death…there was blood everywhere. The Acolytes picked the equipment off of the the bled-out guardsmen bodies.

THE SHATTERS

Finally the team arrived at a door blocking their way with the map indicating that this was the entrance to the deep area of the mine known as The Shatters. The door itself was scrawled with this in blood and the window covered with it from the inside. The door opened easily revealing to the Acolytes massive carnage just inside: dismembered bodies, organs and copious amounts of dried blood. The lighting appeared to be working but flickers with an eerie green glow creating a generally shadowy ambiance. There’s a number of passageways and a door visible from where they stand.

Phaedros & Eugentes proceeded down the closest passageway on the right, the rest of the party securing the hallway near the entry door they’d just come through. They first found a pile of human heads and Eugentes gleefully dug through them to see if there was anything underneath, but to no avail.

The two of them had failed to hear a hulking mutant making a dinner out of guardsman bodies in a cave next door. Hastus-turned-beast suddenly attacked Phaedros out of the darkness. This was a grisly jowly grotesque creature with 8 eyes pocking it’s “face”, over-sized fists and was wearing a tattered Guardsman uniform. Despite this desecration, both Acolytes stood firm under the mental assault of what they were seeing. The creature & Phaedros traded swings and then Phaedros attempted to make his way out of the passageway to hopefully bring the beast into the hallway. The mutant had other plans, though, turning instead to attack Doson, who was among the aforementioned pile of human heads. They traded several swings. Members of the group proceeded into the passageway and attacked the beast from behind while Eugentes dealt with it from the front…until finally it was dispatched. Doson was collecting all dogtags he could find and discovered that this was Hastus, Jurtz’ mate he had asked them to look for.

The swarthy newly minted protectors of the Emperor’s Kingdom proceeded down the main hallway to an opening on their left. Here they were taken by surprise by a pack of four mutated miners. These vile beings had heard the combat outside and so laid in ambush opening fire when the Acolytes showed themselves. Three of the mutants missed but the fourth fired a round from its Stub Revolver striking Phaedros. Phaedros responded by throwing a grenade down the short passage they were dug into. His toss was true with the fragmentary device landing right in their midst. The blast instantly released three of the mutants from the lives they no longer deserved, but the fourth was able to dive for cover down a side passage. The fourth returned to his corner to resume firing only to find another grenade bouncing off the wall of his passage, this time from Eugentes hand. Eugentes aim was off the mark, the grenade landing just far enough away from himself but with his target just in the range of its blast. The fourth was riddled with shrapnel & the Emperor’s will was done.

Just as this happened, back in the main hallway, Crucius’ attention was captured by what sounded like an enormous swarm of flies coming from the unexplored section of the hallway. In the next instant, the ex-Guardsman saw the outline of…a foul creature indeed, but not quite close enough to make out the details other than around its deformed head was a very large swarm of flies. Crucius quickly hurled a grenade its way, missing the mark but close enough to blow the vile form back…where it lay still. May the Emperor be praised.

Phaedros at this point is heavily wounded. Lexxicon offers her warp-based assistance to any who suffered injuries. She tries to settle her mind with her training and using the psy-focus issued to her but is unable to reach the state she seeks. Nonetheless she attempts to access the warp to knit Phaedros’ wounds but fails in her attempt, losing focus. Phaedros is disappointed by the result and urges her to continue the effort, if possible. Lexxicon explains the significant pain as well as risk of Phaedros’ flesh rebelling against the extended intrusion of warp energy. Phaedros, feeling the burden of being heavily wounded, accepts the risk and insists on another attempt. Lexxicon doubles her efforts and succeeds, dipping into the warp and knitting some of Phaedros’ wounds.

The Acolytes gathered the mutants stub revolvers and ammo. Then Crucius & Lexxicon guarded the main hallways, Intios stayed in the passage with the dead mutants while Phaedros and Doson explored deeper down that passageway. They came to the edge of the map that the Commissar had provided & decided to turn back.

Phaedros & Doson rejoined the group to decide where to head next in all the unexplored passageways. They cleared a number of short passages, keeping their head on a swivel. Crucius and Doson took point with Intios some meters behind them and the rest securing the rear. Checking one passage, Crucius disturbed a couple of hulking mutated vile abhorrences. The sight of these multi-eyed slobbering vaguely human vile warp spawn had Crucius frozen in terror. Seeing & hearing that Crucius had happened upon something, Doson sped the short distance to the front. Upon viewing these horrendous faithless monsters he faints dead away, hitting the ground with a thump. Phaedros focused on Crucius, who he was looking on from the back – not quite able to see into the passage that Crucius could. The creatures attacked but are not able to land a blow on the stunned Guardsman. Doson regains consciousnesses and, though still shaky, commences to attack. Phaedros soon after realizes that Crucius is in shock and, grabbing his shoulders, hauls him back from the front line. The grotesquely mutated guardsmen rumble out of their passage into the hallway engaging Intios & Lexxicon. Both Phaedros & Intios are badly startled laying eyes on the unnatural former humans and are temporarily shaken. Lexxicon is at the corner of a side passage when the beast engages her – them both having half their bodies in cover from the corner of the passage. They trade attacks unsuccessfully.

At this point Crucius has snapped out of his terrified stupor. Still somewhat shaky, the Guardsman steps into the tight melee combat and opens up with his lasgun. Unfortunately, in the close confines his laser shot strikes Lexxicon in the left leg instead, injuring her. All the while, she continues to trade attacks with the foul desecration of humanity. Intios has been doing the same with the hulking mutant that engaged him. Crucius switches targets and lets loose with his lasgun on Intios’ opponent. Unfortunately, his laser fire is off target again and strikes Intios in the back of the head, where thankfully enough is absorbed by the hood of his Flak Cloak that he is able to shrug it off.

Lexxicon now backs up into the passage she’s in letting loose volley after volley of laspistol fire. At one point, she focus’ her mind and reaches out to the warp to have it guide her aim. Her focus is true and the warp unnaturally guides her shot to its target. The laser shot lands, burning a wound in the mutant’s left leg. After trading several swings & the close call with the laser headshot, Intios retreats and Phaedros steps into the breach. The beast previously engaged with Lexxicon steps up now and engages Crucius. Phaedros’ trades multiple swings with his opponent and the mutant monster is able to power his large meat-hook through the Arbitrator’s defenses and lands a blow.

While this is going on Doson, from behind the creatures, has fired off a number of shots from his hunting rifle, scoring at least once. He decides to change tactics and attempts to get his comrades attention with hand signals and shouting in order to have them run from the creatures so he can engage them with grenades. Unfortunately, the side-by-side hulking beasts fill the hallway between Doson and the rest of the party. The non-existent sight lines, the attention absorbing melee combat and the volleys of laser fire ensure that the fog of war is thick and he’s unable to communicate his plan to the group….

Emperor Preserve!

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