“Never trust what you have observed observed when dealing with the Dark Eldar. The only certain truth is that you saw exactly what they wished you to see.”
-Relhadhar Antariel, Eldar Corsair
While Jak was entertaining the arena spectators by dismembering Anyalra’s Wych Champion, Unarlan, and Kelson and Magos Domos had just initiated their manipulations of the vestiges of the Gaelan Sphere’s Machine Spirit to teleport and release the imprisoned Dark Eldar slaves and deadly creatures of the arena unto their captors, the rest of the party had been rounded up for interrogation after a fellow slave, Obedhiaus Fyst, told the Dark Eldar about the group’s plan to start a slave uprising and escape. Fortunately for the group, while the chaos and carnage caused by the actions of Kelson and Domos were taking place, some of their newfound allies, fellow slaves Relhadhar (an Eldar Corsair), Rucker and Doomonue (two humans), and Nashrik (and the remnants of her Kroot clan), were able to free them. The Cult of the Withered Blade are hard pressed to contain this sudden release of thousands of prisoners and beasts, which had them outnumbered, and they tried unsuccessfully to contain the outbreak, which eventually broke out of the Shadowspine Pits and into the city proper.
The Acolytes, with the exception of Jak (who has decided to join up with Captain Anja Shen and her crew to fight to reclaim the Captain’s void ship, the Hostile Transaction), and their allies grab what weapons they can from the numerous dead and join in the fight to break out. Wyches, Grotesques and Kabalite Warriors from the arena try to stand in their way but are brutally dispatched and, under Magos Domos’ direction, the slaves are able to break into the Wych and Kabalite armories and further increase their fighting capabilities.
After linking up briefly with Magos Domos for a status update, and to pick up their ally, a rogue psyker and fellow prisoner named Neija, the group takes a remote and little used route in the Shadowspine Pits with the objective of opening up a non-defended access way into the Dark Eldar city. They are surprised to find Succubus Anyalra and a cadre of her elite Hekatrix Bloodbrides waiting for them. Interestingly, Anyalra has accepted that she cannot contain the slave uprising, but wants the acolytes to pay for their role in facilitating it. She challenges to fight each of them, one at a time, and should they succeed in defeating her, her retinue will let them pass. The challenge is accepted and one by one the acolytes, and their allies, take on the Succubus. From the onset it is clear that Anyalra is a master of melee combat and she doesn’t even break a sweat as she easily flips and somersaults away from attacks, parries strikes and lashes out with her own, sometimes in a playful manner but with vicious results. Each of the acolytes and their allies are defeated, and only Bishop manages to actually wound the Wych with a lucky close-range shotgun blast.
Luckily, before Anyalra can take them back as prisoners, the group is saved by an unexpected explosion on the nearby wall, which was caused by demolition charges set by another one of their allies, an elderly Scintillan nobleman named Heneris who represents an unnamed patron who is interested in acquiring the Soul Reaver and the services of Neija for reasons unexplained. The blast collapses the wall and part of the ceiling onto Anyalra and her retinue and the acolytes join Heneris and his entourage into the Dark Eldar city where they assist in the slave uprising against their former masters. The slave population in the Nexus of Shadows vastly outnumbers the Dark Eldar, and the losses that the slaves sustain are quickly replenished as they start to liberate the slaves that serve the various Kabals of the city. It would be here that Jez would start to demonstrate her leadership abilities by periodically taking command of both her comrades and groups of slaves, and directing them forward in several victorious assaults.
Initially slow to respond because the forces of the various Kabals were taken by surprise by the slaves’ sudden revolt, the slaves are able to gain momentum and territory as the Dark Eldar throw forces piecemeal at them while they muster their armies and battle fleets. Scourges, Hellions and Reaver jet bikes attack and harass the slaves from the skies, while Kabalite warriors on foot and mounted in Raider and Venom skimmers set up blockades and assault forces. This provides Archon Salaine Morn with the perfect time to start her initial attack on the Nexus of Shadows and her infiltrated ground forces begin their assault on holdings of the Kabal of the Splintered Talon while she moves her ships into position to bombard enemy forces from afar while waiting for the acolytes to bring down the city’s deadly anti-ship defense grid, the Razor’s Web. Some of Morn’s ship captains appear too eager to close the distance with their rivals and the Razor’s Web goes to work unleashing devastating barrages of lethal energy to push them back.
Using makeshift vox-casters that Magos Domos and Kelson were able to covertly construct, the group is able to maintain contact with the Magos, as well as make contact with Archon Morn who instructs them to meet her on top of one of the city’s towering spires for further instructions and support. The group breaks off from the main army of revolting slaves and breaches the structure- taking on its Kabalite guards and fighting their way to the roof. Luck appears to have been deeply influenced from her imprisonment by the Wyches and has taken to trying to emulate their dress and fighting-style; donning Wych armor and even wielding Wych weapons. The Kabalite Warriors put up a fierce defense, but the acolytes and their allies reach their objective despite being seriously wounded. On the roof, Archon Morn provides the group with Raiders and Venoms for transportation to Archon Zaergarn Kul’s palace (where the Soul Reaver resides), additional weapons, explosive charges to free the Soul Reaver, a “severing” device to deactivate the Razor’s Web and Xenos medical treatment that heals their various injuries but leaves their bodies feeling tainted and corrupted; Silvain turns down this offer of treatment and elects to manage the rest of the mission with his battered body.
While Archon Morn departs back to her ship to wait for the deactivation of the Razor’s Web, the group heads out with their allies in a small convoy of skimmers toward Archon Kul’s palace. The trip to the palace is a fast and treacherous one as the skimmers navigate at high speeds through other skimmer traffic and stationary obstacles, as well as volleys of lethal gunfire unleashed from the Razor’s Web, capital ships, Hellions, skimmers and jet bikes. Despite struggling to keep up with Relhadhar’s expert piloting skills, Gunn’s newfound proficiency in operating the Xenos craft is good enough, and with only the losses of a couple of Heneris’ men, the convoy makes it to the palace where it lands on the roof near Kul’s Deathworld Gardens. Relhadhar assures everyone that the garden has a secret passage that leads down into the palace where they can then make their way to the Soul Reaver’s berth. Defended by an elite cadre of Kabalite Trueborn Spire Guards, the group becomes engaged in a brutal battle where Gunn attempts to crash a Raider into the ranks of the guards but misses his target and crashes into an elegant staircase instead. Luckily, he is able to jump free of the wreck before it bursts into flames and manages to catch some of the guards in the blast.
With the guards vanquished, and more on the way, the group makes haste into the Deathworld gardens to brave the dangers inside. Ever alert, the group makes it through the deadly flora and fauna with only a few minor injuries and finds the door leading into the palace. Luckily for the group of intruders, the Dark Eldar are more concerned with mobilizing their forces to fight the slave rebellion and the rival Kabal outside the palace walls than with internal security. With Relhadhar leading the way through the maze of twisting corridors, stairs and rooms, and bypassing Kabalite patrols, the group is able to make it to the massive chamber that houses the Soul Reaver.
Anchored by massive gantries and a tangle of cables, the Soul Reaver is actually a massive Eldar battleship. Its hull is corrupted and pitted and it does not appear to be void-worthy. There is an eerie unexplained feeling that emanates from the ship and Relhadhar again, states his belief that the ship should be destroyed for the betterment of all. No one openly agrees with this, with the exception of Gunn, who tells the Eldar Corsair that they can explore that option once the ship is free. The massive chamber is patrolled by roving squads of Kabalite Warriors and the group breaks up into four smaller groups to better avoid detection and to carry out their mission- three of the groups will set up the three explosive charges to free the ship and the last will enter the ship to plant the “severing” device on the Soul Reaver’s bridge.
Responsible for setting up the explosive charges, Kelson, Jez, Pullo, Rucker, Nashrik, Neija and Heneris and his followers split into groups. Each group is successful in locating the proper place to set up the charges and insuring they are placed correctly, but Pullo’s group (also containing Heneris, Neija and some of Heneris’ followers) are noticed by the Dark Eldar guards and are attacked; during the battle Pullo is seriously wounded but their task is successful.
Meanwhile, Gunn, Luck, Silvain, Doomonue, Bishop, and Relhadhar proceed into the Soul Reaver to set the “severing” device. They find the Soul Reaver deserted, but note the strangeness of the place and its deteriorated interior. They reach the ship’s bridge and find it to be a huge empty chamber with only a gem encrusted pedestal of crystal in the center. An examination of this pedestal shows that there is a Dark Eldar figure laying on top who is well-preserved, but appears to have been dead for some time. The crystal of the pedestal has encased the figure, like a cocoon. Relhadhar identifies the figure as Archon Zaergarn Kul and suspects that this is why no one in the Nexus of Shadows has seen the Archon for quite some time.
After placing the “severing” device, the group is attacked, via Webway portal, by Haemonculus Drecarus (the interim leader of the Kabal of the Splintered Talon in Kul’s absence) and some of his Wrack disciples. What follows is a desperate and brutal battle where the Dark Eldar unleash pain and agony from a variety of weaponry that utilize toxins and corrosive properties. Drecarus, an expert gunslinger, fires his dual stinger pistols with uncanny precision and one of his shots tears out one of Luck’s eyeballs and pins it to the crystal pedestal. Relhadhar goes into a rage upon seeing his longtime torturer and his twin swords cut down several Wracks before confronting Drecarus himself. Relhadhar’s fury and swordsmanship is not enough to kill the Haemonculus, but he seriously wounds him before Drecarus sends twin stinger shots into the Eldar Corsair’s body that contain toxins that cause Relhadhar’s body to expand and explode in a gruesome fashion. With the Soul Reaver’s blood-splattered bridge containing only the dead or dying, only Doomonue and Bishop remain standing against Drecarus and one remaining Wrack. A carefully aimed shot from Doomonue’s hand cannon glances off the Haemonculus’ skull and stuns the Xenos as he tries to regain his bearings. Seizing upon this opening, Doomonue and Bishop unload their guns on Drecarus and the volley of gunfire is too for even the altered physique of the wounded Haemonculus to handle and he collapses to the floor while the remaining Wrack flees back through the Webway portal.
Meanwhile, with the “severing” device in place and the Razor’s Web deactivated, the ceiling of the chamber that houses the Soul Reaver collapses after several loud explosions are heard outside. With the ceiling now open to the void, a Stryxis capital ship can be see maneuvering into position to tow the Soul Reaver from its berth; per Bishop and Hobhyoos Gies’ agreement, the Stryxis merchant has arrived for the ship. Many grapnels and lines are sent down from the ship and a small army of voidsmen begins to attach them to the Soul Reaver. Gies sends a shuttle down to pick-up the group. With this massive breach in the Archon’s palace, Kabalite Warriors of the Splintered Talon respond in force and Jez steps up again as the leader to coordinate the defense of the theft operation- setting up fields of fire, calling out weak spots and warning of flanking operations. Her efforts are enough for the group to hold off the Dark Eldar while the Soul Reaver is properly secured. In an act of treachery during the ongoing firefight, Heneris and his followers ambush Pullo and Rucker so they can seize Neija and commandeer the shuttle sent by Gies. With Rucker dead and Pullo on the edge of joining him, the shuttle takes off leaving the acolytes and the rest of their allies behind.
Meanwhile, on the Soul Reaver’s bridge, the group inside the ship are tending to their wounded comrades and mourning Relhadhar’s death when they are approached by one of Archon Kul’s lieutenants, Dyrac Nyr, and his retinue. Taking in the scene, including his crystal-encased master and the dead Haemonculus, Nyr demands that Gunn (who he’s had interactions with previously in the Pits) explain what his group is doing aboard his master’s ship. Despite the concerns over what Nyr might do if he finds out what the group intends to do with Kul’s ship, Gunn decides to tell the truth about their plans to take the ship. Nyr listens to this without comment, and after a long uncomfortable silence, he and his entourage leave without further discussion.
With the ship finally secured, and no time to waste because of the Splintered Talon forces converging on the palace to stop the theft of the Soul Reaver, Gies’ ship begins lifting the Soul Reaver free of its berth and into the void above the palace. With death sure to follow if they remain behind in the palace, Jez leads her allies and comrades onto the Soul Reaver to join with the “severing” team. Rejoined aboard the towed ship, the groups are relieved to find that despite the decrepit state that the Soul Reaver appears to be in, it seems to be void-worthy. Pullo tells the group of Heneris’ treachery and follow-up vox traffic with Gies seems to indicate that Heneris and the Stryxis have come to some type of business agreement. With no other options, those aboard the Soul Reaver settle in for the ride out of the Nexus hoping the Stryxis can get them out of the battle zone with their prize.
Unfortunately, no one counted on Zaergarn Kul having plans of his own. With the battle for the Nexus of Shadows raging on outside, the Soul Reaver comes to life in a terrorizing cacophony of tortured screams, and spirit manifestations powered by the raw power of the Warp. Archon Kul rises from his resting place and screams his anger at the traitors that defied him and promises death for everyone. The sight is more than some of the acolytes can take and all choose to flee as the Archon directs its wrath through the Soul Reaver’s power. Gies’ ship is destroyed by lances of devastating energy and ghostly tendrils that appear to be made up of Warp apparitions of the dead. Many of Archon Morn’s ships who attempt to engage the Soul Reaver in hopes of crippling it so it can be captured also meet the same fate. Fighting their way through corridors filled with the angry spirits of the dead, the acolytes and their allies hope to get to a docking bay to secure a shuttle to escape. The ships of the Kabal of the Shadowed Thorns besiege the Soul Reaver with waves of assault boats packed with Kabalite Warriors, Wyches and Wracks to conduct boarding actions, and while these forces rush forward into the ship’s interior, the acolytes and their allies run away seeking passage off. Luckily, Neija is able to telepathically contact Bishop and tells him that she was able to escape her captors. By mind-controlling one of Gies’ men, she was able to secure a shuttle and leave the Stryxis ship before it was destroyed. Landing on the Soul Reaver with the Dark Eldar assault boats, the acolytes and their allies join her and head as far away from the battle as they can. Below, the city is on fire and the heavens are burning as the Dark Eldar forces and the uprising slaves tear the Nexus of Shadows apart.
Solace arrives for the acolytes and their allies as Jak makes contact with them as the new first mate of the Hostile Transaction. After helping Captain Anja Shen and her crew secure their ship, Jak was able to convince the pirate captain to look for his old friends, particularly his best friend Jez. After safely aboard the Hostile Transaction, the ship makes haste to the Webway gate leading out of the Nexus. The last thing they see before going through the portal is the destruction of the Soul Reaver by Archon Morn’s forces.
* GM’s Note: This mission was modified by the GM from the Fantasy Flight Rogue Trader book “Soul Reaver.” It can be found here.