Faith and Betrayal

"Desolation of the Dead"- A Pestilent Heart

“You can fear some far-off, mythical Inquisition and what might happen in the future. Or you can look again at the chainblade at your throat, and think upon what it can do to you right now.”

-Vornas Crimson, leader of the Red Walk4D33D96A-647B-4C1B-A085-CB69E1F13653.jpeg As the acolytes are preparing to head out to the downhive, they are approached by Oath-Captain Nils, accompanied by another individual dressed in a flak cloak and the mundane clothing of some of the better off citizens of the underhive. Nils explains that her forces have been requisitioned by the authority of Inquisitor Rykehuss to assist in the hunt for a rogue psyker and she is under strict orders to not open the Purity Gate unless Rykehuss gives the authorization. With the intention of the acolytes to continue their investigation downhive, Nils is providing one of her men to act as a guide to bypass the Purity Gate and to assist in their investigation. She explains that this is the most assistance she can provide without drawing Rykehuss’ scrutiny.

The acolytes accept this help and make their way through winding passageways, vents and shafts for several hours before they emerge in the tumbled and hazardous downhive. The constant shifting of the mega-tons above them and infrequent collapses of parts of the superstructure as the hive settles is a nerve-wracking experience. The conditions in the downhive are worse than those in the underhive and the acolytes are constantly alert for the various environmental hazards and the presence of people watching from the shadows but never approaching. It takes until evening before the party reaches their destination, the Gantry, a bundle of twisted metal and cabling that hangs down over a massive river of sewage and runoff from the hive’s upper levels called the Wash. The Gantry serves as a major settlement in the downhive and is ruled by the Red Walk gang. 2B46ACB3-0A16-4DA0-89B0-074D79F004C5.jpeg After navigating their way upward to the bridge that connects the Gantry with the rest of the downhive, the party finds the entrance to be barricaded with a high wall accessed a reinforced doorway. Several members of the Red Walk guard the area supported by manned heavy stubbers strategically positioned along the wall. Large signs proclaim that firearms are not allowed inside Gantry and the party sees the Red Walk securing firearms from those that seek entrance. They also see those who attempt to sneak guns in and are caught being thrown off the bridge to land in the sump river hundreds of feet below. With the exception of Dume (who manages to successfully sneak his bolt and auto pistols in), the party relinquishes their firearms and gets directions to the only bar in the Gantry, the Sanctionary Gallows, which the party finds out is an appropriately ghastly name due to several decaying bodies in Sanctionary armor hung upside down from the ceiling.

After finding a table, and spending Throne on some crappy beer, strange narcotics, food and information, the acolytes learn that the Red Walk gang is led by a man named Vornas Crimson. Members of the Blessed Flesh (the individuals that bear a myriad of festering piercings on their bodies) have been seen in the Gantry but no one knows where they reside or where a “Temple” can be found. Attached to the Sanctionary Gallows is a trading post owned by Omar Endish, the most successful merchant in the Gantry who is a business partner of Vornas Criimson. Silvain goes to this shop in an effort to obtain information about the Xenos artifact that Gunn lost and the suspicious clerk tells him to return in the morning. Deciding to get some much needed rest, the party rents some squat accommodations behind the bar where they get fitful rest.

The next day, Silvain meets with Omar and is able to learn that Ferrue Fayne is currently in a business partnership with Omar and Vornas, though apparently, Ferrue has recently been deficient in honoring his end of the bargain. Omar wants to move against Ferrue but will not do so unless Vornas authorizes it because Vornas rules the Gantry and Omar’s successful position is only due to Vornas’ generosity. Omar asks the acolytes to deliver a message from him to Vornas about Ferrue’s failure and hoping perhaps Vornas will authorize Omar to act against Ferrue. The acolytes agree and make their way to the far side of the Gantry where the Red Walk has made their home base in an ancient sky ship that hangs suspended from the Gantry and is accessed by a heavy bolter manned checked point of Red Walk gangers who search visitors for firearms prior to admittance. Dume decides not to press his luck with a second search and returns to the Sanctionary Gallows to await the rest of the party. Checked in by a massive ganger, who is ironically named “Clubber” for a gang that prefers the use of knives and swords, the party is escorted inside to meet Vornas who is holding court in his throne room, which was converted from the ship’s command bridge.

After delivering their message, Vornas is not entirely trustful of the party and their reasons for being interested in Ferrue and the Xenos artifact. He asks that they participate in some entertaining games to prove themselves. Vornas brings forth an individual that has recently come to the Red Walk requesting to join the gang, bragging of his prowess with the sword by displaying Facebiter’s sword. The party is stunned when they see Gunn enter the throne room and acknowledge to Vornas that they are acquainted with this individual. With this extra drama pleasing to Vornas, the Red Walk leader takes the party outside to the upper deck of the sky ship where before an audience of the Red Walk he tells the party they must participate in three potentially deadly challenges of skill, one of them must compete against Gunn in these challenges.

Stepping up for the first challenge against her best friend in the group, Luck accepts to take on Gunn in a bladed melee combat where the opponents are attached by a length of chain. The combat is not to the death but victory is won by the first opponent to make two successful strikes on their opponent’s head or torso. After some back and forth maneuvering, faints and parries, Gunn is able to take the advantage and secure a win (much to the dismay of Vornas who lost a side wager to Bishop after betting against Gunn).

In the next challenge, a race along the rusting tangle of cables and metal that hang off the Gantry above the Wash, Bishop steps up to race his teammate. Both of them are known by the acolytes to be fast runners and it seems to be an even match-up. Unfortunately, after a stumble at the start, Gunn is hard-pressed to catch up and overtake Bishop who races to victory leaving Gunn and Vornas (who bet on Gunn winning this time) to lose.

In the last challenge, Luck steps up to face Gunn again. It is going to be another bladed melee, but this time it will take place in the precarious tangle of twisted cabling above the Gantry where the chance of falling to your death is more dangerous than the blades of your opponent. In a dance amongst the cabling, the two opponents jock for positioning, sometimes losing their grip and falling a short distance before getting twisted up in the cables. The fight proves to be an entertaining one and Luck emerges victorious, giving Gunn the final slash with her knife after she saves Gunn from a tumble to his death when he passes out from his various injuries.

Satisfied that the party are trustworthy enough, Vornas answers their questions. Explaining that he, Omar and Ferrue are in a business partnership. Where Ferrue has been bringing dead bodies from the underhive and storing them downhive. Vornas does not know why Ferrue is doing this but tells the party that Ferrue is a worshipper of Chaos and leads a cult called the Blessed Flesh. Vornas also tells the party that he knows that Ferrue has the Xenos artifact they have been seeking back in his possession, but he has not seen Ferrue in several weeks, and if Omar has failed to see Ferrue, and not yet received the payments Ferrue owes him, then it appears that their partnership is at an end.

As the acolytes and Vornas talk, a thick foul-smelling mist begins to rise from the Wash, a phenomenon that has never occurred before. Some of the acolytes and gangers seem concerned about this while Vornas just sees it as just a nuisance. With their talks concluded, the party is dispatched to return to Omar to report Vornas’ decision and they start making their way back to the Sanctionary Gallows, all the while the strange mists gets thicker and thicker, hindering the ability to see more than a few feet away. They then start hearing screams of pain, the sound the gunfire and stumble over what would be the first of many freshly deceased bodies and some that are not so recently deceased.

The strange mist has penetrated throughout the Gantry, including the Sanctionary Gallows. As the patrons get concerned and start locking the doors, Dume slips outside into the mist-shrouded streets hoping to hook up with his comrades. He can hear the sounds of screaming all around him, and sporadic gunfire and fighting. Stumbling out of the mists and charging at him, Dume sees what would be the first of many reanimated corpses. Unconcerned about violating the Red Walk’s rules on firearms in the Gantry, Dume draws his bolt pistol and takes off half the thing’s head with an explosive round. The thing continues to bite and claw at Dume, deeply gouging his flesh before another bolt round takes the creature down. As more corpses stumble out of the mist, Dume and the rest of his party link up near the Sanctionary Gallows fighting their way through a mob of the undead. When there is a moment of respite, they decide to make their way through the mist-shrouded Gantry to Omar’s manor near the top of the settlement. The twists and turns of the Gantry are confusing enough without the thick mist to navigate and it takes several hours, punctuated by battles with the undead, before the acolytes are able to make it to the manor. The entire Gantry is under assault by this supernatural threat.

At the manor, the party makes contact with Omar, and passes on Vornas’ message. Omar tells them that Ferrue betrayed him and Vornas, and has doomed them all. Omar goes on to tell the acolytes that he has been storing dead bodies for months on his estate for Ferrue as part of their business arrangement but now all of the dead are coming to life and on the verge of breaking out of his manor. He asks the acolytes for help stopping the dead from breaking out but they refuse, telling Omar the manor is a lost cause and they have to get out of here. After a heated discussion, the decision is made to proceed to the main gate of the Gantry and retrieve their weapons. Even with Omar’s assistance in navigating, and the combat support of his servitors, it takes the party several hours to get to the gate; they become lost in the mist several times and have to backtrack making them encounter more and more mobs of the undead. They eventually make it to the gate, still alive but wounded and tired.

At the gate the party finds a fierce battle taking place between the Red Walk and a tide of undead streaming through the open gate. Even with the heavy stubbers in action, the amount of undead cannot be stopped and the pile of bodies at the gate and the counterweight switch are evidence of the efforts that have been taken in an effort to seal the breach. Rushing into action, Dume takes a position to offer covering fire while the rest of the party makes their way to the counterweight, which is blocked by the undead. Alone, Dume is taken down as a mob of undead swarm him and lies incapacitated under a pile of undead. The rest of the party stalls in their advance as they cannot bring the undead down fast enough. One by one they fall, but Nils’ Sanctionary liaison is able to activate the counterweight causing the gate to seal shut before he too is brought down by the undead. Silvain remains the last one of the party standing and he fights desperately to survive the encroaching undead mob. Luckily, the party’s efforts have paid off, and with the gate now closed, the gangers can concentrate on dispatching the undead without being hindered by the undead reinforcements streaming in. They are able to rescue the acolytes and after providing medical assistance, it comes as a relief that all are still alive despite the wounds they have sustained.

Around the Gantry, it becomes apparent that with the gate sealed, the remaining inhabitants of Gantry are able to rally and after several hours the Gantry is secure as the undead are finally dispatched. This event generates an emergency meeting between Omar and Vornas, which the acolytes attend. Vornas is enraged at what Ferrue did to his city and wants the Chaos cultist dead. He tells the acolytes where Ferrue’s Temple is, several hours upriver in the Wash, provides one of his boats as transportation and gives them the support of Clubber and his men. Luck asks Vornas to allow Gunn to accompany the party on this mission, noting that this would be a good way to test this new initiate. Vornas agrees, and despite the injuries he still has from his bouts with Luck, Gunn arms up and joins the assault force.

The trip upriver on the scrape barge is uneventful. There are potential dangers on the Wash as the boat passes ramshackle settlements on the Wash’s banks or on the river populated by mutates or downhive dregs. The large well-armed party is too much of a threat for the Wash’s inhabitants and they scurry away, especially when the gangers take potshots at them for sport. There is only one threat of significance when the tentacles of an unseen behemoth rise from the Wash and grabs a couple of gangers, pulling them under the polluted waters.

FC4DBCDD-B6E9-48CB-AC19-D16175543EC2.jpegEventually the assault force makes it to the Temple, a large rusty metal edifice rising from the Wash built up with walls, watch towers and multi-levels by scrap metal and wood. With the exception of Dume, everyone can feel a sensation of strangeness in the air. Gunn, who is more attuned to the Warp, tells the others that he can feel a gradual intensity of the Warp originating from the rooftop of the Temple. Clubber knows a blind spot they can exploit to approach the Temple and a plan is enacted to have the scrap barge drop off the acolytes, Clubber and Nil’s Sanctionary and then circle around in an obvious manner committing to a full-frontal assault on the Temple to cause a distraction so the others can make their way to the Temple roof. The plan executes flawlessly and, with the exception of one fight with cultists, the party is able to make their way to their destination. Enroute they are puzzled when they come across the bodies of several recently deceased cultists that appeared to have been savagely beaten to death but there is no sign of their assailant.

On the roof of the Temple, the party finds Ferrue, surrounded by several of his followers, engaged in a ritual. Hoping to stop whatever the Chaos cultist is planning, the party immediately attacks and an intense and bloody battle is waged. Several cultists die to fire from Silvain’s flamer. Clubber beats several others to death with his fists and the other acolytes add to the cultist body count but there are too many to get through to reach Ferrue in time to stop his ceremony which brings forth a daemonic entity of Nurgle. The foul being radiates an aura of corruption and decay and those nearby can feel their flesh sicken. Seemingly to be nearly resistant to all matter of mundane damage, Silvain ignores the daemon and concentrates his focus on bringing down Ferrue who shows himself to be a formidable psyker and resilient as well from the boons of Nurgle. 4C7085F1-990E-4A33-9A1D-46DA7F906CEC.png

Still outnumbered, and now with the additional enemy of a powerful daemonic entity, the acolytes and their associates start to fall one by one. The Sanctionary succumbing to supernaturally fast decay. Clubber and Gunn wracked by pain and falling unconscious in their efforts to fight the daemon. Luck falls unconscious dying, a victim to the mass firepower the cultists bring to bear. With only Dume and Silvain remaining in a desperate fight for survival against seemingly impossible odds, they become aware of a lone figure approaching from the opposite end of the roof slaughtering the cultists with its bear hands. The black-clad figure wearing an unsettling mask in the shape of a skull gives off a palpable aura of unease. After tossing a grenade into the melee between Silvain and Ferrue, which kills the Chaos psyker but leaves Silvain unaffected, the figure turns his attention on the Nurgle daemon, which futilely tries to slash at the agile figure with its rusty sword. There is a blast of dark energy from the strange gun on the side of the dark figure’s skull helm and the daemon is vanquished back to the Warp. Without a word, the dark figure slips away leaving the surviving acolytes to drag Luck and Gunn away. 8E2A1621-5F91-41B5-BDEC-AD78BAC6EB27.jpeg

* GM’s Note: This mission was ran with modifications from The Dark Heresy 2nd Ed. adventure of the same name by Owen Barnes and Jordan Goldfarb. It can be found on the Drive Thru RPG website “here”.


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