Emperor Preserve

Storage Lockers & Oracles
Be quick about your looting

We rejoin the Cell in the middlehive of Hive Sibellus on Scintilla. They are performing reconnaissance on a storage locker facility traced from a number found in a bag sitting on the bed of the room presumed to be Theodosia’s in The Alabaster Court in the Spire of Hive Sibellus. Finding nothing amiss, they proceeded to the specific locker that the number led them to. The Mech-Wright of Acolyte Raneiro Bassi, Bautistum de Cespedum, had cut the power to the facility as planned. Odessa sensed the faintest of warp traces somewhere in the vicinity while Arion, using the lock-pick set he was given by Septimus Dexter, defeated the mechanical lock holding the door fast & rolled the metal articulated door up into the ceiling. The assassin identified a box just inside the door that was almost surely a communication node capable of sending messages – probably that the door was open. It was dark now from the lack of power, but he worked at permanently disabling it.

The psyker examined the wall of metal shelves just inside the ~2m wide opening – it was lined with what the sanctioned warp maven immediately recognized as Witch Cages. It was an item she had only been told about & seeing one for the first time caused a shudder & chill throughout her.

Tripwire.jpgIntios, mesmerized by what knowledge & wealth the small storage room of the heretic might contain, stepped inside forthwith. A few feet within, however, he felt the lightest of touches on his leg lasting only an instant. He looked down to discover his fears realized, the thinnest of filament wire laying on the ground…tripwire.

To their relief, finding themselves all still alive a moment later, Arion investigated what turned out to be some type of Promethium incendiary device that had a keypad and timer that now read three and a fraction minutes. The acolyte wasn’t versed in explosives, but it looked like a lot of the highly volatile substance in gel form. The others quickly stripped the room of all contents, while Arion worked at quickly disabling the explosive that would soon have more than the room encased in burning hot flames. Not having enough time, he told them they only had a couple minutes left. Odessa found a metal box that later tests would reveal to be the charred remains of Apollyon Matum, a retired physician on Hesiod’s Wake, one of the individuals that security footage had shown boarding the Dark Heart with Jaleb Samtoll. Odessa immediately realized the body was the source of the warp trace.

Taking it all, they hurried towards the gate, drawing stares from storage locker owners – the assassin yelled an obscure warning over his shoulder as they passed through the fence opening. The expected explosion occurred and, glancing back, saw a surprising amount of the roof already covered in Scene_-_The_City_of_Ambulon.jpgintense flames. They fled into an alley to regroup and take inventory of the room’s contents. They holed up there for the night.

In the morning, Intios made the journey back into the Spire and to Acolyte Dexter’s office at the University of Sibellus. A quiet pickup of the body and some other goods was arranged. After receiving word on the identity of the body they’d found, they returned to House Strophes and had Laurent begin preparations for their visit to the ever-walking city of Ambulon.

Lord Strophes prepared their Ambulon papers, providing them the cover as his commercial agents & arranged for their ornithopter ride there. Many hours later they were treated to a site that no description can fully prepare one for – a giant walking city. After arriving & being approved by Ambulon’s watchful Magistratum, they set out to find the renowned gem cutter by the name of Kronis Estrun in the Red-Gold Quadrant on the spine and “headward”.

Due to Lord Strophes’ trust in Estrun, the acolytes confided in him hoping he would be able to provide them information pertaining to this strange city and the quarry they sought. While not personally knowing much of value, besides the general whereabouts of The Joyous Choir Temple, he pointed them to a strange purveyor of information indeed, the Ocular Oracle.

Estrun’s grandson led the Cell to a courtyard, rare in the packed city, rarer still for being empty – and a hole in the ground big enough for them to walk down into. They were immediately hit with heat, humidity, smell of lubricant & sound of machinery. Deep inside the tunnel they came to a room filled with thousands of hanging silver chains, whose seemingly random tinkling contact with one another was somehow playing the familiar refrain from an Imperial hymn. Pushing past these chains was a doorway, behind which was a strangely shaped room filled with clusters of devices, the majority of which appeared to be in various states of disrepair or completely broken. The remains of once sophisticated cogitators lay among data-slates and dozens of other unrecognisable machines. In the center of the room, on a slung chair made of intricately braided electrical wires, sat a man of indeterminable age. Ocular_Oracle_1.jpgAn augmentic servo harness encased his body and a series of bionic data-jacks were connected to several of the machines about the room by long cables plugged into his skull and along his entire spine.
The ensuing “conversation” left them with far more questions than answers about the Ocular Oracle himself…but the Oracle had a number of interesting responses to their varied questions. There was mention of a human people called the Adranti, that the Oracle claimed was responsible for the xeno tech found in the broken taro card. The hooked sickle, a question mark formed from a blade, was the symbol of an ancient group of cut-throat black marketers known as the Serrated Query. Their master he referred to as the Faceless One, whose location he did not know. He offered that The Joyous Choir was simply a front for “the questioning mark that cuts”. The acolytes eyebrows raised when the Oracle told them that this xeno tech was used to destroy a diviner…an Inquisitorial diviner named Aristarchus the Seer. Adding a final stroke to this already extremely unique experience, the Ocular Oracle pointed them to the bottom of a pile in the corner of the room, where they found a decorative plate with the symbol of the Serrated Query on the back.

The Oracle having gone silent, the Cell emerged from the tunnel to find Estrun’s grandson waiting for them. He led them to a student’s inn near the Magnopticon, the University of Ambulon that the grandson had pointed out to them earlier, where Estrun had arranged accommodations for them & where they stayed the night.

In the morning they set out for the Joyous Choirs’ temple, which they had been told was at the rearward end of the Spine, on the other side of the city. It was a slog, for the city was so short on space that all travel that they’d so far seen was over the top of the mishmash of abodes that its citizens lived in. Near the end of daylight they grew close to their destination and started to ask around. They were told of an inn they could get a room at and that the temple was just a couple of rows down. They proceeded just far enough to be able to see the small courtyard in front of the temple & the frontage of the temple itself. They weren’t impressed, though it was notable that, unlike the vast majority of structures they’d seen so far, the buildings nearby didn’t press in on it. A bit of reconnaissance revealed that a few of the seemingly passers-by outside the front of the temple never really left the courtyard.Joyous_Choir_Temple.jpg

The Beating of Tiny Wings
Nature's exterminatus

The lone remaining figure in the room, besides the assassin, had just blasted away a panel of the tank nearest the open doorway…and the buzzing was now nearly deafening. Sensing that what had just been freed were not the honey bees of Holy Terra, Arion without hesitation bolted for the other door in the room, which was on the opposite side of the damaged tank. Close on his heals the figure followed. Relieved to find the door unlocked, the acolyte rushed through and his shadow Xothic_Blood_locusts_3.jpgunsuccessfully tried to push past him. Arion efficiently cleaved down his unwanted companion. He then closed the door & pushed the body against the door, in order to delay the ingress of the small uncaged creatures.

He found himself in a corridor with three doors, only one of them open. The first door on the right he noted was different, like a laboratory door that looked possibly capable of being sealed. Inside were multiple humanoid skeletons, long picked clean. The next door on the left was a normal interior door but had a crude wooden guard nailed to the bottom of it, as if to perhaps reinforce the lowest one foot of it. Inside the 10×6 meter room were multiple large mounds of branches, bramble, leaves & dirt…of far more interest though, was these mounds were moving. Actually, they were more trembling, as if something – perhaps many somethings – were moving inside them. The acolyte closed the door and quickly moved on.

At this point, he noted that a few handfuls of the small creatures were attached to the body pressed against the door, presumably feeding on it. They Xothic_Blood_Locusts.jpgwere Arion’s first clear view of the creatures. One of them was perhaps about 2-3 inches long & had teeth, as well as fangs, on their hairy many eyed face. Their fangs were embedded & the body already appeared slightly smaller somehow. He also noted three large bags, of some composite plastic material, hanging on the wall in the hallway.

He checked the last room on the right, the only door that was already open. It was another laboratory-like door with more bones inside. Noting the buzzing was getting louder & more stray creatures were starting to appear in the hallway, Arion stuffed the first two of the hanging bags into the third and then climbed into it himself and zipped it closed. Near the zipper was a micro mesh that thankfully allowed air into the bag, but did not afford seeing out of it. He could feel the small creatures alight on the bag and began rolling around to at least dislodge them, with hopes of perhaps smashing a few…though it was impossible to be sure of anything outside of his body bag.

Back outside, Odessa & Intios were battling a fresh wave of foes that had come in through the building’s main doors. They were taking fire from the large anteroom in the direction of the street outside. The warrior adept let fly with a grenade that landed true and freed the pair of acolytes from the shotgun fire from the large room’s nearest corner. Intios was ignored minor injuries, and the two advanced to that corner themselves trading fire with more human Underhive vermin that was using the rubble in that room for cover. Intios was lighting up the room with lasfire & the Emperor’s warpish maven creating flares of bio-lightening…forcing their foes back. Forty seconds, gunfire & a few grenades later and the foes were driven back out of the office main doors.

Back in the feeding zoo, Arion had struggled to his feet, still inside the bag and was awkwardly hopping/waddling his way in the direction of his compatriots. He somehow managed to make it to the closed door with the body against it. Unzipping his bag a few inches, however, he saw that it was now just loose skin draped over bones. He reached his arm out of the bag enough to open the door and it was attacked by a dozen tiny fangs. They failed to find purchase, however, through his armored bodysuit and he flung open the door. He brushed off the fanged pestilence, zipped his bag back up and waddled back into the room with the tanks – the creatures in the other still intact containers seemingly quite agitated. Arion updated his colleagues on his position & situation. Intios & Odessa together grabbed a body from their handiwork in the hallway & carried it to the closed door that separated them from the assassin. Odessa quickly opened the door & they heaved the body inside as far as they could & reclosed it. Their toss wasn’t everything they dreamed of but it did the trick. The creatures descended on the fresh meat enmass. Arion, knowing he didn’t have long, artlessly lurched inside his bag towards that door to freedom. There was just enough time, as they drained every drop of liquid from the body, for Arion to leap out of his now unzipped bag, out the door and slam it closed.

Knowing the small creatures could make their way under the door, they all sprinted for the truck, where Terlian was keeping an eye on it. In the truck, they managed to lure the swarm out of the town so they could go back and inspect the lair more carefully. Arion found papers in the desk with the tanks that confirmed that the man he’d cut down there was Rolando, as well as an encrypted dataslate. They were also rewarded with a dead sample or two of them on the floor inside, which they scooped into bags.

Now having gotten several looks at the buzzing creatures, though at somewhat of a distance, Intios shares with the group that he believes them to be Xothic Blood Locusts. They’re a proscribed xenos species accidentally discovered by a Rogue Trader named Xothic, who unknowingly spread them to several planets, which were subsequently consumed completely after they quickly bred into the millions. After the Inquisition executed Xothic these planets were purged of the buzzing curse from orbit & it was hoped all were accounted for. Intios had heard rumors that there was black market trading in them, since they were essentially bio-weapons…nature’s exterminatus…and from what he understood, the Cell was enjoying the Emperor’s blessing to have come away virtually unscathed by their encounter with them. He suggested that Rolando seemed to be breeding them.

The Cell made their way out of the Underhive, dropping off their local “friends” on the way. They returned the truck, but were taken into custody by the Magistratum at the portal after a mandatory search turned up the dead xenos samples. The Cell maintained their cover claiming they’d driven through a swarm without incident and had picked up a couple dead ones off the windshield. The Magistratum was dubious of Arion’s story and contacted the Inquisition.

Shortly thereafter, Acolyte Raneiro Bassi of the Ordo Xenos arrived at their Magistratum with his clerk Valentijn. The Cell, without yet revealing themselves, insisted on a private conversation away from the Magistratum. Bassi warned them that if they were wasting his time, he would have them interrogated & summarily executed – but arranged for their transport to an Arbitrator’s precinct in the Middlehive. There they revealed their true identity to Acolyte Bassi & told him their Underhive story including the now confirmed Xothic Blood Locusts. He thanked them for the information & released The_Barking_Saint_-_frontage.jpgthem.

The Cell next went back to their favorite Middlehive watering hole, The Barking Saint, Arion looking for his contact Mergildo. They didn’t find him but received a message left there by him for the Cell, acknowledging their success with Rolando’s demise, informing them that Theodosia was a “holy man” on Ambulon & that they should definitely stay in touch, listing a contact #.

Acolyte Bassi quietly sent them a message that he’s learned that they’re associated with Inquisitor Karkalla & to let Bassi know if he can be of assistance in the future.

The Cell went to Septimus Dexter’s university office to report in, where they recounted their tale, all of them sifted through the information, new and old, and they asked him to look into some of the information they’d brought back. Something about Mergildo’s name obviously had him in thought.

Not long after, he contacted them with results of some quick inquiries:

  • Mergildo is an anagram for Odlegrim, the name of an Inquisitorial Acolyte that was believed killed in action; he didn’t have any more information about him than that at this point.
  • The Golden Hand accounts they obtained from Orday’s body had been drained of all funds, so Dexter has closed them.
  • Likewise for the bank account #s that had been found in Theodosia’s bag.
  • The contact # that Mergildo had left with the message was simply a place to leave messages that could be checked from anywhere on the planet.
  • Rolando’s encrypted dataslate – still working on it; found evidence Rolando doing business with unnamed organization & it includes the ship name The Profitable Chance
  • There was one number from Theodosia’s bag that traced back to a rented commercial storage room in a somewhat down & out neighborhood in the Hive Sibellus middlehive. The bill was paid up on it.

The Cell brainstormed on how to access this storage room while not revealing that the Inquisition had been involved. They decided to take up Acolyte Raneiro Bassi on his offer of assitance and contacted him from Dexter’s office. Bassi’s given them the technical services of one of his staff, a Tech-Priest named Bautistum de Cespedum. The Cell instructed Cespedum to shut down the power to the storage unit at a precise time.

Hunting in the Underhive
What's that buzzing

Magistratum_office_roof.jpgMembers of the Cell had just swept the Magistratum office roof of opponents and, finding the roof door now unlocked, proceeded down the stairs forthwith. As they descended, the buzzing began anew.

In the dull enhanced lighting provided by his light enhancing goggles, the Adept noticed aged pictographic scrawl on the walls of the stairway. Having some familiarity with such writing from his exposure to the Valoda Akadēmija, where he was first stationed with the Administratum, he offered the group what he thought it meant. This was being claimed by someone by the name of “Diris”, one of the only actual words on the wall. What “this” was, was anyone’s guess – the building perhaps, but there was no further definition of what was meant. There seemed to be there the story, probably quite dramaticized, of how Diris came about possessing it. There was also a “Coretta” involved – girlfriend perhaps? Mother?

Finding an ajar door the only available path at the bottom of the stairs, the Assassin ventured through to scout ahead. He explored an empty hallway, which featured one direction closed doors & open doorways – while the other, towards the street, opened up into a room that was the entry hall of the Magistratum office. Arion listened at doors that wouldn’t open & viewed prisoner intake rooms, some with cells and others with showers. Then he spied several inhabitants sitting at desks & beckoned his colleagues to quietly join him. One of those in the office, unaware of his presence, exited the room, where Arion waylaid him with his blade. The man cried out in his final moment, alerting his comrades, who grabbed their shotguns & took immediate cover behind desks.

Intios, not one to miss many opportunities to employ anti-personnel ordinance, hurled two grenades inside. One got away from him, landing harmlessly in the middle of the room. The other, however, dropped just behind the desk that appeared to be the cover for more than one of those inside – and exploded right where he wished.

Around this time, the door at the end of the hallway slammed open & the buzzing sound filled the air.

Inside from their angle, they could see it was a room containing a table, chairs & the far wall seemed to be a window. Arion, judging that the Cell’s flank was now exposed, ran for the door. From his new vantage point, just before slamming the door closed, a glance revealed the room’s wall on the right, which had a large tank of some kind against it. The side was too opaque from there to see what was inside…but it was reconfirmed that the noise, now quite loud, was coming from that room. He slammed the door.

About that time a shotgun blast rang out, taking out a piece of the wall near Intios. Odessa darted out from her cover to engage this new foe in a nearby doorway. She promptly lit him up with warp-derived strands of bio-lightning, leaving him smoking but still standing. This was more thanOdessa_Smiting.jpg he bargained for – he bolted into the hallway & sprinted towards the exit into the street outside. However, Intios dropped the fleeing foe from behind with a loud crack from the las weapon he wielded.

That same door at the end of the hallway slammed open again…and Arion fleetly dashed down the hall to it once more. Odessa ran down to join him and then stretched out her fingers to fire warp-lightning at any foolish enough to show themselves. As if on cue, the Cell witnessed a robed figure dart right-to-left across their viewpoint through the door. The bolts lanced out from Odessa’s fingertips but instead scorched the table the figure ran behind. Arion charged into the room & was hit from automatic ballistic rounds fired by someone crouched behind the same desk where the robed figure had taken cover. Intios joined his fellow acolytes at the doorway. Wounded but undaunted, Arion continued his charge. He saw the robed figure, now seeing she was female, saying something and raising her hands towards him. The assassin chopped her down with his sword. Intios fired his las pistol at the man still crouched behind the desk, striking the wall behind; he then ran back down the hallway to retrieve his dropped Lasgun.

Somewhere in this brief window, the Cell took notice that the walls of this room was lined with these large tanks that were packed with highly agitated slightly oversized insectoid creatures. They also became aware that this was obviously the source of the overwhelming buzzing sound…and that there was something frighteningly unsettling about them.

The man behind the desk adjusted the aim of his longarm & fired a burst at the tank nearest the doorway, shattering one of its panels…the buzzing was now near deafening….

Assault in the Underhive
Not much hospitality down here

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

My Investigation Notes
With Terlian behind the wheel of the truck, Odessa and I were on the back with one of the vagabonds. Arion told us through the vox that he had spotted multiple figures within the ruins but could not pinpoint who was shooting at the truck.

Another sound of gunfire rings out from the ruins and hits the truck’s windshield once again. This time we hear Terlian say, “I’ve been hit!” At that very moment the truck speeds up once again and Odessa and I both fall off the flatbed. We pick ourselves up and I noticed that the vagabond has also fallen off a few meters behind. We start walking forward and tell Terlian to stop and pick us up once again.

When we get to the truck, I get behind the wheel and tell Terlian and Odessa that I will drive slowly towards the bonfires and stop right about 40 meters from the towers. As we get closer, I tell Odessa to light up whoever she sees. From my vantage point, I see multiple lightning blasts fly out from the back of the truck towards the first tower behind the bonfires. Afterwards, we do not hear anymore gunfire. We decided to drive up to the first tower and investigate on foot.
As we were in the truck, Arion was able to sneak up on a rooftop combatant and ascertain that we are in Rolando’s territory and that there are approximately 15 people total. That interrogation did not end well for the combatant because the next time we saw him, he had fallen off the roof with a large sword wound in his back.

With Terlian at the roof the truck watching the street, Odessa and I go and investigate the interior of the tower. I immediately spot someone within and opened fire with my laspistol. Before this combatant could react, I see his eyes go wide and he starts running the opposite direction. From my previous experiences with Odessa, I can accurately assume that one of her warp powers has gone awry and was affecting everyone within sight. It takes all my willpower and experience to not look in Odessa’s direction. Since I did not feel any warp like powers tugging at me, I start running after the combatant I shot.

My target runs into a larger room and then jumps through a large hole in the wall, which leads outside the building. By the time I get outside, he has a bit of distance on us. I pull out my lasgun and score a direct hit to the same arm I hit before. At this point, he climbs on top of a large pipe and stumbles off the other side. As I am approaching the fallen combatant, I can hear who I believe is Odessa following me a couple of meters behind. Without looking at her, I say, “Are you ok, Odessa?” Her simple response, “Yes, I’m going to flank him on the left.” Odessa, who seems to be back to normal now, and I see the lifeless body of a combatant on the other side of the large pipe.

Arion checks in and tells us that he is shadowing two more combatants that are heading towards to towers. Odessa and I get back to the first tower and climb the stairs to the top. We discover a body that seemed to have three ears on his head. He is badly charred by what looks like lightning blasts and the solid projectile weapon he was using was rendered useless from Odessa’s attacks.

We signal Arion to return to the rooftop because he wanted to record evidence of our team’s handwork via his pic recorder. He told us that he discovered a locked dwelling with people inside. Since he was alone and did not have a lock pick, he decided it would be more prudent to have backup. Knowing that Arion had also spotted people around the old Magistratum building, we decided infiltrate that building first before hitting the dwelling.

With Terlian guarding the truck and looking out for anyone on the street, Odessa climbed back up the first tower to get a higher vantage point of the town. It would be up to me and Arion to get into the Magistratum building. I was originally going to climb the wire ladder up the building but we discovered that whoever was on the roof pulled the ladder up. So we had to infiltrate through the adjacent building and slowly climb up the near crumbling stairway. I gave Arion one of my grenades and the plan was to have Odessa suppress the rooftop combatants while Arion and I snuck in from behind.

As soon as Odessa’s lasgun roared, Arion was up the stairs. I heard a grenade blast and climbed up the stairs after Arion. It looked like the grenade was on target because when I got to the roof, Arion was disposing two combatants at once. I saw a third combatant by the end of the roof towards my left. I quickly grab cover and open fire with a semi auto burst from my lasgun. By this time, Arion had snuck behind the rooftop stair way and was going to flank the last combatant from the right side. He quickly made work of the last combatant. With no one left on the roof, we started to tally our body count and take inventory of any equipment

Underhive Roadtrip
They need more road signs

Scene_-_Headlights_in_the_dark.jpgThe Cell drove past the military-like checkpoint down into the near darkness of the Underhive. These lowest reaches of the hive are notoriously difficult to navigate, typically lacking reliable geographic landmarks. It wasn’t long before the Emperor’s hunters felt unsure as to their whereabouts. Multiple lights in the distance were elusive, sometimes two appearing & sometimes three.

They came across half-eaten bodies & what appeared to be large swarms of what might have been some kind of rodent-like creature…onwards they drove. The acolytes came across a couple of wanderers, who spoke what seemed to be some primitive and guttural version of Low Gothic. Fortunately, Intios’ familiarity with languages enabled him to usually decipher what they were trying to communicate. The Cell “hired” the duo as guides promising them food in return. Terlian established a rapport with the one, who quickly felt like he was part of the team.

At times their new geographic counselors seemed as confused as their employers. Arion seemed attuned to the semi-rancid smell of the stale water of the nearby marshes. They found this wet sodden land they had been smelling and followed its edge, remembering that their desired destination was near it. After a short detour avoiding what appeared to be a thick opaque mist, and traversing quite a ways westward and then south by their reckoning at least, they started ascending a large bluff. One of their guides seemed to recognize it, repeatedly stating, “Esmer. Esmer.

They saw fires in the distance & reached a wall of stacked stones that the fires were atop. Arion negotiated with someone behind the wall for directions…but they couldn’t come to terms.

On the way around the bluff they ran into a man on foot, who tried to run from them, but whom they chased down in the truck. They came to terms withScene_-_man_in_headlights.jpg this man & he told them what he knew of the surrounding area. He told them he’d never heard of “Noma”. The marshes they’d been smelling were the Althea Marshes. The Crumbling Tower lay on the other side of it some 15km North of the Midhive portal. At the top of the bluff lay the Esmer ruins. The settlement the acolytes had run into on the bluff didn’t have a name, that he was aware of, but he traded goods with them from time to time. There were some ruins located near the marshes to the Northeast. There was a good sized settlement near the marshes to the SouthEast that went by the name of Holt, which was also the name of the guy in charge there. If you kept going East around the Marshes there was a narrow valley that would take you between the marshes and an area known as “The Hole” – literally a deep cavernous hole that spanned for kilometers to the South.

The Cell decided to first check out the ruins to the Northeast. From a distance they could see two lights there. Upon approach the light turned out to be two fires, seemingly maintained at the mouth of the only road still identifiable of the ruins there. They stopped the truck some three hundred yards from the Scene_-_bonfire_in_distance.jpgfires, figuring they’d been obvious spotted due to their headlights. Arion determined to scout ahead, creeping around from West to see who was watching to those watchfires. Terlian & one of their locals stayed in the cab, while Intios, Odessa & the other local were on the flatbed.

The structures had been razed on both sides but the one street had standing structures – though in terrible shape with no visible walls intact. Taking his time, Arion carefully snuck up to the structure at the end of the road from the West and made his way into a hole in the wall on that side. He spotted a small pinprick of light through some buiilding wreckage near the corner nearest the fire. oh so quietly snuck towards the pinprick of light…but just as he was one interior building corner away from it his foot errantly stepped on a sliver of wood, which audibly cracked under foot. With that, he crept back the way he’d come, waited & listened. His trained assassin ears detected someone walking from his right to left, farther into the town probably on the street. He again snuck in the same way he had & this time viewed where he’d seen that pinprick of light. There was nothing there now but a small pile of discarded Lho-sticks.

Peering out a gap in the ruined building he saw the back of an individual, some distance away now, hugging the walls of the building going away from Arion farther into the ruins. Arion trailed him, seeing the figure duck into what turned out to be an alley. Adjoining this alley was the most intact building of the ruins and it looked to be an old Magistratum office. Arion, seeing no sign of who he was following, checked the two doors in the alley and then proceeded past the front of the building to the next one. There he egressed in the hole in the wall and climbed up the delipidated structure to its roof. He jumped to the roof of the Magistratum building which was half intact and half somewhat ruins. He tried a door he found there on the intact side, but it was locked.

Further search turned up a crawl hole with a light at the end. Exploring it, he found himself looking into a crack in the ceiling above a corridor in the Magistratum building. No one was visible but there was a strange low-level steady humming noise he couldn’t identify. Just then he could see through the crack two individuals run down the corridor. He noted they weren’t wearing uniforms. It wasn’t possible to go farther in the crawl space & there was the crackling of initial interference in his microbead, probably from the structure. So he crawled back out and reported in everything he’d see to his comrades.

Terlian scooted behind the steering wheel, honked the horn and blinked the headlights – so as to make absolutely certain he didn’t startle anyone with his approach. Then he started the truck forward towards the fires. A shot rang out and a bullet pierced the windshield but hit no one. None of the acolytes Bullethole_in_windshield.jpgsaw exactly where it had come from among the ruins. Terlian punched it and the truck suddenly lurched towards the mouth of the street some 250-300 yards ahead…but he quickly lost control of the truck as it pitched violently going across the deep ruts of the on the broken choppy dirt. Fortunately, he was able to get the car back under control and he brought the speed down to ensure that would continue to be the case…but another shot was directed at them. From the back, Intios couldn’t identify the shooter.

From the ruined part of the Magistrate roof Arion witnessed a figure, armed with a longarm, climb up over the lip of the roof on the South side, go to the edge overlooking the roof and start to keep watch. The Inquisitorial swordsman left his cover and sloowly crept towards this lookout, who was fully alert but whose back was to him….

Finding the Rolando Trail
The one where everyone became a cyborg at the same time

The 12-month survival of a campaign is nothing to sniff at – an atta’boy to all acolytes of the Emperor, past & current!

From: Terlian Cascius; Adeptus Arbites & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

My Investigation Notes
Scene_-_reloading_shotgun.jpgTaking a defensive position in the room of Inquisitor Karkalla’s group, I reloaded my shotgun. I was bleeding heavily from grenade shrapnel, but the will of the Emperor drove me forward. Blessedly, the lights had returned in House Strophes just in time for us to make a stand. The door crashed open, and Arion quickly ran into the hallway, weapon in hand, and the sound of the striking blade echoed in the room. Trantor lay dying in the corner, as two intruders edged around the doorway, exchanging gunfire with Intios, Odessa and myself. At some point in the melee, Odessa was struck down by a shot to the chest, and I ran out of shotgun shells. I ran toward Trantor and grabbed the autopistol off his seemingly lifeless body, but never had time to use it. My last recollection was seeing a grenade land in the room as I covered my eyes with my arm. While Odessa, Intios and I were mortally wounded, Arion dispatched the remaining intruders with his quick blade.
I awakened in a hospital room, with my right arm replaced by a seemingly well-crafted mechanical substitute. I soon learned that Odessa and Intios had received similar accoutrements. While we were recovering from surgery in the hospital, Arion recovered more information to plan our next move. He learned that the intruders were likely from a mercenary group known as Pressure Point, but we were unlikely to find out who had hired them or for what purpose. He had also learned that Laurent Strophes would likely be able to provide us cover stories as facilities inspectors should we choose to pursue our lead to Ambulon.
Rather than make the arduous journey to Ambulon, we chose to follow a closer lead that Arion had investigated. He had a contact with additional information on the black-robed figure, Theodocia, but who wouldn’t provide the information until we’d dispatched a figure named Rolando, who was down in the underhive. We traveled to the underhive, with me traveling separately so as to arouse minimal suspicion as to my connection to them.

In the middlehive, we procured a flat-bed vehicle by promising to return it in good condition, with only a little bit of coercion on my part. We also procured a weeks worth of provisions, including food, water, batteries and ammunition. We knew that our target was in the Noma quarter, 50 miles west of a location called the crumbling tower, and began our journey through the darkness.
I couldn’t find a warp daemon blowing out the cake for Emperor’s Preserve

The Assault on House Strophes
It has been said in Inquisitorial quarters, that acolytes without enemies are useless

Man_with_stablight_in_dark_room.jpgThere were noises in the still early hours in House Strophes. They roused Arbitrator Terlian Cascius, who rose to investigate. He found the power out in his room so, grabbing his service stablight & shotgun, he left his room to investigate. Seeing that the power was out on the whole floor, he entered an unlocked room across the hall in search of staff. He woke & instructed the one he found to awake the noble from Fenksworld & his retinue. The servant reluctantly complied, preferring to awake his colleagues to see what the trouble was with the power. Arbitrator Cascius followed the man, not knowing where the acolytes’ rooms were but wanting to be joined with them. Las_fire_in_dark_room.jpg

Upon egress from the servant’s quarters Cascius came under las fire from the darkness off to his right. Sustaining a wound to his torso from the searing bolt, he raced back into the servant’s room that he had just left, looking for cover. The wounded Arbitrator took cover behind a dresser cabinet in the back of the quarters & there ensued a gun battle between he & two unknown foes armed with las weapons…and grenades. Despite a heated exchange of fire & multiple small explosive devices tossed in his direction, the heavily injured Terlian held his ground.

The sound of the las fire was notably muffled but the explosions and shotgun fire of Terlian was far more difficult to sleep through. Down the hall some distance, the various members of the Cell awoke. The acolytes were not aware of Terlian’s presence in House Strophes & eventually, over their micro-beads, seemed to find their numbers accounted for unharmed in their respective rooms. They variably prepared defensive positions or began strapping on armor.

Sensing he could not hold out forever in his current position, with his stablight in one hand & shotgun in the other, he made a sudden break for it, dashing out of the room past surprised foes. A foot chase ensued down to the next level & then, using another staircase, quickly back up to the very same level. Abitrator Cascius managed to stay in front of them long enough to find the room that the Inquisitorial Cell had holed up in.

Simultaneous with the Arbitrator’s efforts to stay alive, two invaders overcame the simple interior lock of Trantor Severus’ room & began a feverish automatic-fire firefight at 3-4 meters. The Omnissiah’s servant acquitted himself bravely but before long fell to his attackers’ onslaught.

Arion, Intios & Odessa all followed the sounds of combat through the darkness of the hallway to Trantor’s guestroom, in time to see their comrade fall. Arion cut down one of the foes and the other, now badly outnumbered, raced out of the room.

Stablight_in_dark_room_2.jpgThe Cell’s warpish maven, Odessa, very shortly thereafter stepped out into the hallway. It was pitch dark, except for a stablight some 15 meters (45 feet) away pointed at her, or at least in her direction, and being held by an individual running down the hall at her. Emperor be praised – she introduced the fleeing gunner, who was behind the individual sprinting at her with the stablight, to two crackling bolts of bio-lightning…sending his sprawling form into the stairwell a few meters in front of him.

That happened just as Terlian, staying just ahead of his multiple persuers, ran up the stairs back to that floor and rounded the corner into the hallway where Odessa had unleashed her destructive energy. The Arbitrator seeing allies, headed for the room Odessa was standing just outside of & ducked inside. Odessa, undoubtedly greatly surprised at seeing the Arbitrator run past her, then steps back inside the room herself, but peers out into the darkness in the direction Terlian came from.

The acolytes in the room administered first aid to the unconscious Trantor and any others that needed it. Others tried to find cover, anticipating an attack. At that point a frag grenade settles & explodes just outside their open doorway, fragments hitting both Odessa & Terlian. The acolytes slam the door close & lock it.

Several handfuls of seconds later they hear activity on their door from the other side. Not too long after the door swings open hard, hitting the wall, with no one visible in the doorway. Almost simultaneously a grenade lands & explodes in the middle of the room, catching Terlian & Odessa in its blast radius. Terlian tries but fails to gain the top of the table in time before the grenade, at ground level, explodes. Intios was quicker & heaved himself on top of the table before detonation, affording himself its cover. They both suffered injuries from flying metal fragments.

Arion ran out of the room, past their attackers and sprints down the corridor towards his own room. One of the attackers in the rear was watching with gun ready for anyone charging their way & let go an errant las bolt at the running assassin, as he passed by.

The Alabaster Court
Their hospitality left something to be desired

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

My Investigation Notes
I receive my invitation to the Alabaster Court after paying our 20,000 throne fee to Counsellor Cort Abroag. The invitation was for me and one guest and it was decided that Odessa would accompany me. We are in line to the Alabaster Court when we start to chat with Octavia Nile, who is in line in front of us. As we are chatting, a member of the choir holds a harmony meter in front of Odessa and immediately announces her as “True”. A nearby noble hears this and steps towards us and introduces himself as Eldagizio Glaive, from Sirus Volpa. He congratulates Odessa and tells her that he has been working on being True for 4 months.

As we enter the Court, Odessa is immediately feeling suppressed from within the hall. We are greeted by Lady Borella and Siprit Daneen. She tells us that entertainment will be arranged by Elsergi Krin this evening. A masked figure steps onto the stage and the crowd goes silent in anticipation of the performance. His mask lights up and he says, “Call me Chorus, prepare for a tale of woe.” There is an emaciated man staggering on stage. The masked actor yells, “Hail Cyperen!” The play goes on until the masked actor says to Cyperen, “What fate is suitable for such as you?” The staggering man says, “The Emperor will punish you.” The actor pulls out a power sword and impales the emaciated man from behind. Intios is taken aback from this apparent spurring that just occurred. [Aside: Intios takes two insanity points from this display. Really? A member of the inquisition is appalled by seeing someone stabbed through the chest?]

The actor takes off his mask and is revealed to be Elsergi Krin himself. The crowd applauds while Elsergi approaches me. He says to me, “Never seen such fine acting on your backwater world of Fenksworld?” I respond, “I’ve seen this play and your acting is the same as that on Fenksworld.” My response is calculated and meant as a mild insult. Nevertheless, I am challenged to a duel within the Bloodsquare by Elsergi. By this time, Odessa is feeling her powers suppressed from the floor and an intense disturbance from upstairs and to the right of the stage.

My idea was to have Odessa search the premises while the nobles are distracted by my duel with Elsergi. The duel is non-lethal and to the first wound. Elsergi is able to get the first hit but not necessarily a wound. I respond with an all-out-attack that hits Elsergi in the body and the nobles that seconded the duel immediately call for an end. We return the dueling blades to the aiding nobles and Elsergi says, “Not only do I need acting lessons, but dueling lessons as well!” The crowd of on-looking nobles applaud and cheer. As the duel is winding down, a member of the choir, named Quinto, approaches Odessa and hands her two pills and says that these will make you feel better.

Once the duel is over, we ask the serving staff to take us to our room. We are escorted to room 260. In the meantime, our new contact, Terlian, is weaving in and out of the party disguised as a member of the staff. He stops by our room with room service and then hands us a map of the various floors of the Alabaster Court. We tell Terlian to contact the rest of the team and have the two of them head out. As Odessa and I head back to the main hall, we see Caros Shoal being escorted in. He is obviously the man of the hour and the rest of the nobles settle in to hear him speak.

Terlian makes a call to House Strophes and tells Arion and Trantor to start their part of the plan to infiltrate the Court. They break into the lodge after hours and go through the access port in order to repel down to the Alabaster Court’s balcony suites. The two make it to the balcony and Trantor is able to bypass the security panel to get into the suite.

By this time, Odessa and I go back up to the suites to meet the rest of the team just as they exit the room and enter the hallway. There are various reinforced doors that we are not able to break into due to their high level of security. We start using las-cutters on some doors but are forced to halt due to various disturbances from servants and routine patrols of servitor skulls. It seems the guards may have seen one of our semi-cut doors and called for more help to investigate.

Our team heads down to the main hall and try to blend in. At this time, Arion decides to enter the door next to the Bloodsquare. He sees Shoal in a conversation with a hooded figure. When the Black Robed Figure turns sideways to look at Arion, there is instant recognition. This is the same person who assassinated Orday and got away with the data slate. Arion, knowing that he is not properly equipped for a confrontation, quickly steps out of the room.

After Arion quickly informs the team of his discovery, we get Terlian’s attention and ask if he has heard anything today about this BRF. Apparently the BRF entered through the kitchen earlier today. He is from the interdicted planet of Tranch, where the Pale Throng are fighting the Imperial Guard. He also heard Shoal say to the BRF that he has made the others a fortune on Ambulon.

Knowing that we may have been identified by the BRF and this may be our only chance to investigate the Alabaster Court; we leave the main hall and try some of the secured doors within this level. The only door we are able to break into seems to belong to the BRF. We find autopistol clips and a fueling receipt for an orlothoptor. Within the room we find various fuel bills, papers with code numbers and a rag with fresh oil drops within a drawer. Inside a small dresser was a tube of ungents.

With the Joyous Choir guards increasing their security sweeps, we decide to make our way back out through the balcony suite. After an arduous climb, especially for Intios, we all make it out and back to House Strophes.

Staying One Step Ahead of the Magistratum
Alabaster Court - The Hottest Ticket in Town

FROM: Trantor Severus; Adeptus Mechanicus & Acolyte of the Holy Inquisition, Ordo Hereticus

Laurent_Strophes_big.jpgLaurent thinks that the sword used by the black figure was a power sword.
Laurent can’t fix the Magistratum if they come after us, but has a contact in the Arbites (which don’t get along with the Magistratum).
We got permits for our weapons with fake DNA and fake names. When arrested we used our fake names. They collected us in The Spire later, but I wasn’t smart enough to clean my weapon before turning it over.

Chastener Castel Vizcania is the Abites contact. We tell him that we’d been contacted by Orday with a claim that he Arbitrator_-_Chastener_Castel_Vizcania.jpghad information related to the missing niece on an encrypted dataslate, and in going to meet him we saw him assassinated and pursued the attacker (the truth, etc.).

I am currently -10% to everything as a consequence of drinking warp juice at the party.

The shotgun people were from the Dailoth neighborhood (next to the Hustle).

I meet with a former associate AM (2 ranks of success) maintainer of HVAC in The Spire, give him a photo of the BRF, and ask him to look into whom/when the modifications were made. I will contact him in the future to retrieve results.

We’d hoped to be invited to a lecture at the the Alabaster Court, but we’re told that after the shenanigans in the marketplace our invitation will not be provided.

We make our way to The Alabaster Court anyway, and Intios meets with the Councillor, who tells him to make a Counsellor_Cort_Abroag.jpgdonation and come back in 3 days when Poobah Shoal is back. We don’t know where he is now. We can’t get in without paying/waiting.

Statue of woman from Flight of Fliteous, an ancient morality tale about Imperial Guardsmen who go AWOL and have trouble. His mother is the strong force, he denounces, leaves, but she is the unmoving, loyal, mentor. Wisdom of motherhood.

Intios met with a former colleague and asked for his help in throwing more paperwork at the local Administratum, a level 81/b2 requisition requiring that all contraband in the past 3 months be cataloged. Colleague wanted reimbursement, wavered for 5,000 Thrones. Wavered for introduction to Laurent. I left the room and a deal was struck that Intios would owe him a big one, no money, and no guarantee on how long the delay would last.

Arion investigates the Joyous Choir’s Alabaster Court employee entrance, but gives up without entering.

I ask Laurent whether his niece had any psychic talent. He responds that she seemed to be unusually lucky.

Terlian, acting as a servant of the JC at the AC, comes to Laurent’s home and asks for an audience with us, revealing that he is an Arbites working for Vizcania. We exchange information. He tells us that several ex-Magistratum are now doing security for the Joyous Choir, and the Arbites believe that the Magistratum organization is involved in protecting the Joyous Choir. Says that Shoals seems to live at the Alabaster Court. He was embedded 3 days before we made our complaint to the Arbites. Magistratum corruption is not his primary mission, neither is the missing niece, but he will not tell us what his primary mission is other than to say there may have been violations of Imperial law and a possible threat to the empire. He tells us that he believes we are in over our heads. He will get me a permit for the Deloss Auto Pistol. He estimates a handful of people at the employee entrance, same at front entrance, always servitors and skulls at both. There are patrols, but they tend to be discreet. There’s a huge court, alabaster marble, in the center with skulls. The rooms where the harmony meters tend to be near the entry, and he’s seen a couple of other kinds. Sizable meditation rooms, many offices (most of which he’s not been in), there are at least 3 levels. Bottom is employee entrance and food preparation. The main level has a blood square (dueling location) and main court and entrances. 3rd is presumably the living quarters some of which have balconies. Food prep suggests about few dozen to several dozen. Also a huge library on the main floor, which has gigantic windows on one side. Communications from inside to outside don’t tend to work. There is a rumor of a holoroom, but Terlian hasn’t verified it — he wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true. Commotion in the middle of the night sometimes, people coming and going very late, or the councilors doing stuff. He is especially interested in the drugs and xenotechnology.

Intios finds 2 access panels out of the spire which are near our goal, one in a hunting lodge, one in a service provider. We are given one climbing rig, and one tourist climbing rig, that covers 3 of us and Arion has his own. He also has an amateur version of a device which may overcome door panel security.

We sleep that night and in the morning I was pleased to find my shaking had stopped [succeed in Willpower and Toughness Tests].

Our plan is to leave the hive via the hunting lodge access port, rappel down to the balcony, then I will be Arion’s bodyguard and we’ll walk boldly through the halls. My helmet is in a bag I carry. Terlian will map out where the forbidden areas are. As a pair of nobles, with a pair of bodyguards, we will investigate the forbidden areas.

Terlian calls and gets ahold of Arion, there’s going to be a big event tonight at the AC, and the founder will be giving a speech. I leave them to decide whether they will use the invitation to avoid climbing outside The Spire, and I go check in with my buddy. My buddy has ascertained that the BRF’s augmentation was not done through approved Adeptus Mechanicus means on this world. In exchange for a favor, my buddy gives me access to the huntsman lodge’s 26 digit security code for a single use.

I bring 2 autopistols (from the fight), silk gloves, 2 sacred ungents, microbead, backpack, 8 frag grenades, auspex scanner, lascutter, and no respirator. My armor is the bodyglove and noble bodyguard garb.

Terlian will be working the event tonight. Intios and Odessa go through the front door with their invitation. The 20,000 Thrones is transferred, a receipt given, then they head to the Alabaster Court courtyard with its big stage and singers. Odessa seems to be more suppressed the closer she gets to the Court. They meet several people, one of whom seems confused about where he is and what’s going on, but Lady_Tanae_Borella.jpgthinks there will be a duel, though he doesn’t know between whom. Siprit and Lady Borella are there also.

Purge_the_Unclean_-_Elsergi_Krin_big.jpgOn the stage is a masked figure who is cloaked in gray robes, the mask flickers to life and seems to be a hologram projector, and “call me chorus and prepare for a tale of woe”. The play begins and there is a strange emaciated guy up there too, but it’s not clear if he is part of the play. Lady Borella says she thinks he’s part of it, but there’s ‘probably going to be a spurring’.

1. Missing niece.
2. Xeno-tech, harmony reader.
3. Psycher connection (suppression of)?

Purge_the_Unclean_-_Vorlin_Orday_big.jpgOrday’s loot:
2 data keys
a) magnetic key, probably for the data slate case
b) bank account from Golden Hand Bank, with ‘a couple thousand Thrones’
Pattern-7 Steelburner Heavy Las Pistol (to Intios)
Deloss Auto Pistol (to me)

The Scrutiny of the Magistratum
Taking shotgun-wielding thugs into custody is part of her act

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

My Investigation Notes
Purge_the_Unclean_-_Vorlin_Orday_big.jpgAlthough “nobles” do not usually enter the mid-hive, I decided to accompany the rest of the cell for our meeting with Vorlin Orday. We had made arrangements to put the money he wanted into a locked briefcase. We were to make an exchange for Orday’s data slate that he found containing information regarding the Joyous Choir.

We arrived at the Hustle a bit earlier than scheduled so that we could get an idea of the layout of this marketplace. We explored the surroundings andhustlemap.png prepared for Orday’s arrival. As we spot Orday turn the corner toward our location, we hear a shot ring out and Orday takes a direct hit to the back of his head. Orday drops to the ground with a briefcase clutched in his hand. Just as this is happening, a Black Robed Figure drops to the ground and picks up Orday’s briefcase.

I draw my laspistol and was able to hit the BRF with a shot to the body. He seems to have augmented legs and torso because as he speeds away, Black_Robed_Figure.jpghe is clearly running southwards but is able to face his torso west as he is running. The BRF runs up the wall of the marketplace and jumps down to the other side. Arion and Trantor give chase. I take a quick glimpse at Odessa and it seems that during the conjuring of her powers, something may have gone wrong and I see her collapse to the ground. Figuring that I will come back to Odessa later, I also run after the BRF.

In the chaos of the chase, I hear multiple shots fired by Trantor and can hear Arion saying that he is giving chase to the BRF. Arion was able to somehow dislodge the secured case with Orday’s data slate. I yell into the vox, “get the case and get out of there!” I decide to run back towards the initial location of Orday’s attack. As I am running back, I see Odessa pass me by. Whatever condition assailed her must be gone now.

I reach Orday’s body to see if he is still alive and possibly receive medicae treatment from me. Alas, the gunshot Weapon_-_Autopistol.jpgwound to the head was fatal. I was able to find a Pattern 7 Steel Burner Heavy Las Pistol on him as well as a data key and some documents. A couple of meters away, I was able to pick-up the weapon that the BRF dropped, a Deloss high quality autopistol. By this time, Arion was actually engaged in combat with the BRF. The BRF was able to disengage from Arion and some other thugs wielding shotguns came onto the scene.

When I get to their position, I can see Odessa engaged with one combatant wielding an autopistol and another one peaking around the corner. I take out the combatant around the corner with a couple of laspistol shots. When the smoke cleared, we discovered what looked like oil/grease trails that came from the BRF. Odessa was also able to apprehend one of the surviving combatants.

We started to follow the trail of grease around the Hustle. The trail went cold in a southern part of the market next to a construction site. By this time the local Magistratum had arrived and were trying to put order into the situation. One of the officers had spotted Odessa along with the apprehended combatant. From a distance I saw a couple of officers escort Odessa away. I decided to follow to see where they were taking Odessa while Arion and Trantor were investigating the trail of grease.

Odessa was eventually taken to the Magistratum precinct apparently for some questioning. I told the others that we should head Laurent_Strophes_big.jpgback towards to the Stairs because Odessa will probably be released back to the Strophes estate. We make it back to the Strophes estate and detailed our findings to Laurent Strophes. We show him the data key that we found on Orday. A short time later, Odessa was escorted in by some officers.

The officers decided to question each of us in regards to what we may have known about the commotion within the Hustle. I told them that I was visiting the mid-hive because my constituents on Fenksworld wanted all the information that I could gather regarding the Joyous Choir before donating a sizable sum of resources.

After our interrogation, we were told not to leave the planet and were also ordered to surrender our sidearms. We assumed they took our weapons to do ballistics tests on them. Now we just need to find an excuse to why our weapons may have been fired recently….