Faith and Betrayal

"The Soul Reaver"- Maelstrom of Souls

“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.
Hellions.jpg 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.

Untitled.pngUsing 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.

DE_Reavers.pngWhile 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.
Soul.jpg 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.

haemonculus_txt_by_depingo-d879g9w.jpgAfter 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.
Kabalites.jpg 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.

"Johari Window"

The forest fire was one of the largest in the planet’s recent historical record. The entire valley filled with an abundant amount of fallen autumn leaves from the numerous trees available on the undeveloped land proved to be an excellent source of fuel for the flames. Early estimates have noted the fire consuming at least 2.5 million acres and counting. To the east of the town a huge column of gray black smoke and a few other smaller pillars, rose into the sky- the smoke so thick that the wind carried it and ash to the surrounding areas and the sky looked hazy despite the bright cloudless sky. Noble House Vermillion was mustering as many personnel and resources as they could to the area so that the fire could be contained before it decimated population centers and valuable crop land.

autumn.jpgCorporal Draggi watched the shuttle lift off in the hazy sky, departing with Father Lupus and his one-eyed bodyguard, Flak, to the orbital above Hilarion where the duo would no doubt catch a ride aboard one of the passing void vessels to their next destination. Good riddance was what Draggi thought as the Catachan medic lit up an Ilho-stick and took a drag despite the ashy smelling air that had sent most people seeking shelter indoors. Normally Draggi would have been seeking the company of one of the local ladies (he had certainly vetted a couple since his arrival), but the recent events and the lost of all but one of his squad had put a dampener on his mood. Draggi was not a stranger to losing comrades- he had seen more than his share of combat on planets throughout the Imperium and beyond, and had lost more brothers and sisters in arms than he could count, but this mission had been different.

Draggi realized that something was amiss when his squad had been tasked with escorting a priest through the remote woods of a loyal and compliant planet to ensure there was compliance with the Imperial Creed, not to mention having the squad led by Lieutenant “Colonel” Braxton- a tough as nails hard case officer that had been busted down from the rank of Colonel to Lieutenant for disobeying an order from high command (or at least that’s what the rumors said). On face value, this assignment could have been something that the local militia handled, and certainly wouldn’t have required an elite squad of Catachans and a Lieutenant to prosecute. The woods they were sent to were creepy, there was no doubt about that, and Draggi had been to a lot of creepy places and there was definitely something strange about the backwoods Hacklin family that lived in them and claimed that their patriarch was a prophet of the Emperor that had tasked the family with fighting their backwoods neighbors, the Runols family, and protecting humanity from the “taint” of invisible supernatural beings that were infected by the forest.

thumbnail_Catachan_sniper_1.jpgThe danger was certainly real, that could not be denied for no one but Draggi, the Lieutenant, Lupus and Flak, survived the final assault on the cave that the “Prophet” stated was the source of the taint. After his eyes had been bathed in animal blood, Draggi saw the horrific nightmares walking and tearing through his comrades and he remembered the Lieutenant convincing Private Sasha to throw herself into the dark pit while Lupus recited something from the scroll that the Hacklins’ “Prophet” gave them. But none of that matter much now- it was all a vivid nightmare as far as Draggi was concerned. The rampaging forest fire (unintentionally caused by his squad’s liberal use of flamers in an early encounter before going to the cave) had consumed the entire valley- the Runols and Hacklin farmsteads, the cave and even the hilltop cabin of the “Prophet” should all be ash now.

Maybe a drink and some companionship was what he needed Draggi suddenly thought. He had some time to kill while the Lieutenant worked on getting them a ride out of here. He didn’t have any money but he did have that silver trident that the Hacklin guy had gave him to fight the “tainted.” Perhaps he could sell it to a local and get a hefty amount of Throne Gelt merely for its silver content. Its craftsmanship was certainly exquisite Draggi thought looking at the trident where it sat propped next to his seat and the prongs were extremely sharp he noted feeling one with his left hand.

He quickly jerked his hand back and his Ilho-stick fell from his mouth as he felt an intense cold on the spot where he touched the trident prong- so cold that it felt like he was being burned. He studied his hand for injury and saw nothing out of the ordinary. Strange, Draggi thought to himself. He touched one of the prongs with his other hand and there was no strange reaction. Puzzled, Draggi reached down and grabbed his Ilho-stick. He couldn’t think of anything that caused the strange reaction. Maybe it was just an adverse reaction to the ointment that Draggi had put on his hand after he got that insect sting as they made their way back to town.
*GM’s Note: This mission was modified for Dark Heresy from Ethan’s Trail of Cthulhu Scenario “General Order 11." Listen to his great actual play session with his friends at RPPR. It can be found “here.”

"The Fall of Solace"- Binding Contracts

With the capital hive of Solace still reeling from the cataclysm caused by the crashed Imperial cruiser and the awakened Necrons, Inquisitor Sand creates two teams made by combining members of Kill-Team Kronus with some of his available acolytes. One team is tasked with hunting down and exterminating the Genestealer threat while the other is tasked with locating and terminating prominent and highly dangerous criminals and heretics.
Planetary officials provide Inquisitor Sand with three persons of note whose termination would assist in quelling the rebellious activities taking place amongst the populace- an unsanctioned psyker named Lericet Slaus, a behemoth mutant, and suspected Chaos worshipper, named Grens Scadegung and a heretek named Magos Vorrenius Corosz. With Brother Angelos chosen as Kill-Team leader, Chaplin G’heirnat, Palatine Ruby, Magos Hadrian, Father Lupus and Flak are successful in the locating, and terminating Lericet and Grens, but fail to terminate Magos Corosz. When the Kill-Team makes contact with Vorrenius, Hadrian and the heretek enter private negotiations and at their conclusion, Hadrian informs the team that Corosz is not an immediate threat and actually provided information on a threat of grave concern regarding a war band of Chaos cultists, that included several traitor Space Marines, that attempted to gain his assistance in conducting a ritual to summon a daemon in the upper hive spires.
Departing from Corosz’s domains to investigate this potential threat, the Kill-Team is able to use the Arcadia’s powerful augur arrays to locate a building up of strange energy wave lengths in the estate of a prominent nobleman named Lord Nereus. A search of Nereus’ manse brings the Kill-Team into contact with a Chaos war band, which includes traitor Space Marines from the World Eaters, Red Corsairs and Alpha Legion. A bloody battle ensues, but the Kill-Team is able to vanquish their foes and stop the ritual with the termination of Nereus before he is able to complete his incantation.

* GM’s Note: This mission was created by the GM and borrowed heavily from Fantasy Flight’s Black Crusade adventure Binding Contracts by John Dunn with the addition of parts borrowed from The Heart of the Vortex adventure found in Fantasy Flight’s Black Crusade book, The Tome of Decay, the Vigilant Sword adventure in Fantasy Flight’s Deathwatch book, The Emperor Protects, and the New York section of the Call of Cthulhu adventure Masks of Nyarlathotep.

"The Fall of Solace"- Salvaging Solace

Mid-level in what remains of the capital hive city of the planet of Solace following the impact of the Imperial cruiser the Ardent Crown.

“…my priests inform me that the lower spires are in complete anarchy and there are barely enough enforcers, arbites and military personnel from the PDF and Cadian forces to secure the main transit lines that remain intact, let alone the general…”

Deacon/Acting Planetary Governor Coleridge was still droning on. The man was definitely pious (there was no doubt about that) but he was certainly no leader and his complaints and concerns of the various plights currently facing the hive world of Solace, especially the calamitous state of the planet’s capital hive, were constant and ongoing. Inquisitor Sand had long since lost interest in Coleridge’s words and feigned interest in a status report that sat on the meeting table in what he hoped would be a polite hint to the Deacon to finish. Sand reflected on the popular theory circulated about Lord Inquisitor Caidin wearing masks to conceal his true identity, and suddenly thought of another reason how wearing a mask could be useful at this moment.

“…food and water stocks are not adequate at all. The upper spire nobility have flooded my Office’s vox-networks and I have personal assistants, attaches, and secretaries lined up for miles to talk to me and my staff…”

It had been a week since Inquisitor Sand arrived at Solace, and three days since he and his acolytes were successful in boarding the crashed Genestealer-infested Imperial cruiser, the Ardent Crown, and shutting the ship’s massive engines down before they self-immolated with catastrophic results. Sand pondered how the planet might have been better off if the Ardent Crown’s engines had completed their Rite of Self-Immolation and detonated taking the rest of the crippled hive city and surrounding area with it. Reports were constantly flooding in about fires, flooding, suffocation, structure collapses, food and water shortages, mass rioting and criminal activities. And then there were the reports that really concerned Sand, Genestealers loose amongst the populace, confirmed Chaos cult activities, and even more concerning, reports of strange attacks and raids all across the planet whose vague descriptions lead Sand to believe they were related to the Necron (at least that was what he believed the Xenos species called itself) tomb complex hidden deep underground. Of course, Sand did not speak of the Necrons to any of the planet’s leadership, and had not even sent a transmission out to his peers and superiors about this unheard of threat, deciding that more information would be needed to compile an adequate report. The continued investigation of Quint and the Logicians that initially brought Sand to this planet had taken a back seat to more immediate concerns.

“…and we have not even broached the subject concerning the planet’s trade stocks…”

Solace was very much like a dying animal in its death throes, hemorrhaging all manner of plights- civil unrest, resource shortages, and Xenos, heretical and Chaotic infection. Unfortunately, the needed political, military and law enforcement personnel and infrastructure to restore order was basically non-existent. The ionization in the atmosphere had only two days ago cleared up enough to allow off-world communication and the reports coming in were just as bleak as those on-world. Many of the commerce ships that were in orbit had fled the region to safety after rumored sightings of Eldar ships and the reports of what was going on planet side.

“…Inquisitor Sand? My Lord?”

Coleridge had finally stopped talking and was looking at Sand, as were the other meeting attendees that were the highest-ranking officials that could be located for their respective offices. The meeting room of the mid-hive Arbites precinct that Sand had requisition as his new command center was packed shoulder to shoulder with people wanting to know how he, the Inquisition, was going to fix things.

Inquisitor Sand settled his unflinching gaze on Coleridge for several long seconds before turning it to the faces of the rest of those present. "Do not view this challenge as a crisis. Consider it an opportunity to demonstrate your faith in the Emperor.”

Sand’s micro bead chirped quietly in his ear signaling an incoming message on his secure vox-channel and he held up a hand to hush the meeting attendees. “I’m still in my meeting,” the Inquisitor told the person on the other end.

“My apologies Inquisitor Sand,” Melua’s voice replied, “but this could not wait.”

Sand could hear the barely contained excitement in the Rogue Trader Captain’s voice and this peaked his interest. “What do you have to report Captain Melua?”

“Space Marines my Lord. Well, technically five Space Marines and one Sister of Battle. We just pulled them into one of the Arcadia’s docking bays a few minutes ago. Found them orbiting the planet in a boarding torpedo.”

“Really, Adeptus Astartes here? This is good news for a change…”

*GM’s Note: This mission was modified by the GM from the Fantasy Flight Only War adventure of the same name. It can be found “here

"The Fall of Solace"- Shedding Light


• Log Number 327:22V:GB5:Gac
• Work Station Location: Lumin12

Please enter your authority code> * * * * * * * * * * * *
Thank you, Inquisitor Sand.

You may proceed…

• Date: 815.M41
• Transcription: Inquisitor Sand, Ordo Xenos, Rogue Trader Cruiser the Arcadia, in orbit over the hive world of Solace
• Subject: Discovery of Unknown Xenos Race and Interrogator Quint’s Status

Nearly a year has passed since I dispatched Interrogator Quint and acolytes Pullo and Rylak to the frontier world of Faldon Kise to recover a stolen exterminatus weapon, and nearly three months has passed since I dispatched acolytes Bishop, Jez, Luck, Silvain and Jak into the Eldar Webway to attempt to rescue Quint and Pullo after I received information that they had been captured by the Dark Eldar and were slaves in a city called the Nexus of Shadows. Surprise and concern do not even begin to describe the feelings going through my mind when during an investigation into what was originally presented to me as the suspected location of a lost cache of Dark Age Technology on the prosperous hive world of Solace, I find an excavation operation being conducted by operatives of the heretical tech-cult known as the Logicians that is being overseen by Interrogator Quint and a heretek, and known Logician agent that has been designated exocummincate traitoris by the Inquisition and Adeptus Mechanicus, named Magos Caerivus.

Operating in secret using Rogue Trader Melua’s Writ of Trade to facilitate the sale of war stocks to support the combat operations going on in the Spinward Front, I made my way down to the planet’s surface accompanied by my ever faithful Crusader bodyguard, Red, and acolytes Flak, Hadrian and Lupus supported by three combat servitors. The location of the cache was easily found using the coordinates that my sources provided- housed in the interior of one of Solace’s many unremarkable mountains and accessed by an opening that the Logicians had excavated.

We breached the well-guarded security perimeter the Logicians had set up at the cost of the combat servitors we had brought with us and proceeded into the mountain’s interior. What the Logicians had uncovered beneath the desolate wasteland of Solace was no cache of Dark Age Technology, but a subterranean realm of precisely machined fluorescent-lit corridors and rooms decorated in geometric patterns and symbols.

One of these antechambers the Logicians had turned into a scientific laboratory in which to study the ancient ruins and its denizens- strange metallic humanoid beings that looked like advanced robots, which initially appeared to be in some type of stasis or hibernation. Despite their bipedal human-like appearance, there was something so utterly alien about the creatures that I have no doubt they are of Xenos design. I have never heard or read of creatures such as these in any of the Imperial records I have accessed, with the exception of the report that Red turned in many years ago documenting Red Cell’s deadly encounter with similar beings in one of the alternate timelines he visited while investigating Rogue Trader Eramus Haarlock’s Blind Tesseract on the planet of Mara; it was unsettling when Red confirmed that these indeed appeared to be the same type of creatures.
Our presence did not go unnoticed, and immediately after entering this research area we were attacked by Logician forces led by Interrogator Quint and Caerivus. Quint showed no remorse or hesitation as he fired on my party nearly immolating Red with a deadly shot from an inferno pistol. During the battle, a sudden and violent earthquake shook the area and collapsed the passage that we had used to enter the mountain. Fortunately there were other passages leading out of the room that could hopefully be used to return to the surface but the earthquake brought more than just the danger of being trapped in a subterranean tomb. It appears that the earthquake triggered something which caused the inanimate robots to “awaken.” They rose from their evaluation beds while hundreds of metallic beetle-like constructs began pouring into the room from circular orifices in the room’s walls.

Armed with destructive energy weapons that seem to strip away flesh, and even more resilient materials, such as that found in carapace armor, down to their basic molecular components, and eventual nonexistence, the constructs attacked Logician and Inquisition Agent alike- their movements efficient and precise and seemingly eerily coordinated at times. They seemed to be impervious to all but the most powerful weapons and demonstrated the fascinating ability to self-repair damage at times and rise up to continue fighting. My team barely survived the encounter while Quint and Caerivus escaped during the fighting down one of the room’s other passages. Of the metallic constructs, no evidence remained- their broken and destroyed bodies seeming to have disappeared when they finally sustained sufficient damage.
We continued in pursuit of our quarry, as well as searching for a way out, with the various corridors and rooms introducing us to more variants of the horrific metallic constructs. We fought many of the creatures, including ones that appeared to resemble strange armed serpents that could phase in and out of existence allowing them to pass through walls. Later we encountered a huge hovering spider-like construct tending to a large green gem that was inscribed in various symbols, which I suspect must be the written language of these Xenos creatures. This spider-like construct was accompanied by a huge centipede-like construct, as well as a humanoid construct that appeared to be a leader figure. This figure spoke in emotionless Low Gothic as it inflicted pain on the heavily injured form of Caerivus, who was laying at its feet, while Quint watched from the doorway of what was later discovered to be an exit; Quint decided to flee, leaving Caerivus to his fate.

I suspected that the large gem would be valuable in learning about this previously unknown foe, and dispatched my team to secure it and escape down the corridor used by Quint. Despite the devastating energy weaponry and regenerative properties of our foes, my team was able to secure the gem and flee down the corridor with the huge metallic centipede-like construct in pursuit. I am pleased to report that prior to leaving I was able to administer the Emperor’s justice on the traitor Caerivus with a point-blank inferno pistol blast to the face.
We were lucky to find that the corridor offered a way out in the form of a large crevasse, most likely created by the recent earthquake, that exposed the corridor to the open sky above. As we clambered out onto the planet’s surface, we were greeted by a guncutter (which I suspected was occupied by Quint), which sent a volley of missiles in our direction before flying away toward the nearby hive city capital. Luckily, my team and I were able to avoid the main blast zone of the missile strike, and injuries were limited to a few broken ribs and minor cuts. This same strike appeared to obliterate the centipede-like construct and collapse the crevasse leading to the underground passage. My team and I started back toward our lander not realizing that the worse was yet to come…

* GM’s Note: This mission was modified by the GM from the Fantasy Flight Rogue Trader adventure of the same name. It can be found “here.” *

"The Fall of Solace"- Falling Star

“Our task is solemn, and our purpose final. This is no matter of raucous glory, but of duty alone.”

-Watch-Captain Hrolth Fangtaker image.jpg

Several months have past since the events that took place on the Perihelion. The story of the daring rescue of their Battle-Brothers and the termination of Species-Seven has circulated the ranks of the Deathwatch and Inquisition, and the members of Kill-Team Kronus have found many who praise and respect their combat prowess and duty to the Imperium and the God-Emperor. Most of the Kill-Team have spent their time tasked as advisors, messengers, and inspectors dedicated toward improving the various war efforts in the Jericho Reach, while Brother G’heirnat chose to embark on the difficult path of becoming a Space Marine Chaplin.

A sudden summons of import has the members of Kill-Team Kronus dropping their current tasks and making haste to Watch Station Erioch; luckily, Brother G’heirnat has just finished his Chaplin training and is able to join his Kill-Team for this mission. Watch-Captain Hrolth Fangtaker, a loud and boisterous Space Wolf Long Fang well-known for not playing well with Space Marines of other Chapters, issues the Kill-Team their orders, but not before Brother Aoner of the Space Wolves and Brother Dante of the Dark Angels fulfill the tradition of their rival Chapters and participate in a duel to celebrate the great bout between their Primarchs. The bout seems to start out evenly matched but Brother Aoner is finally able to gain the upper hand and subdue his Dark Angel opponent much to the satisfaction of Watch-Captain Fangtaker. With honorable tradition fulfilled, Watch-Captain Fangtaker briefs the Kill-Team on their mission.

Over two centuries ago, an ancient relic revered by both the Space Wolves Chapter and the Deathwatch called the Halo of Providence was lost when the Imperial cruiser, the Ardent Crown, transporting the Space Wolf Librarian in possession of the item and his fellow Kill-Team members failed to return after initiating a Warp jump on a routine mission. The Halo of Providence is psychic hood of legendary power created by an Inquisitor over a millennia ago. It was thought to be lost until recently an Astropathic Choir received a vision that the Ardent Crown would soon return near the heavily populated hive world of Solace but would bring an unspecified disaster, possibly involving multiple breeds of foul Xenos, with it.

Selecting Brother Aoner as the team leader for this mission, the Kill-Team makes haste to the war torn Spinward Front to locate and intercept the Ardent Crown before it’s too late. After two weeks of Warp travel, the Kill-Team’s ship transitions out of the Warp into the Solace sector and begins its search for the lost ship. Augars soon pick up the vessel drifting derelict in space under only emergency power with no signs of life. The Kill-Team gathers their arms and equipment, strap into a boarding torpedo and are promptly shot across the void toward their target. Things appear to be proceeding without complications until an Eldar Nightshade escort frigate materializes in their path and begins to engage in battle with the Deathwatch ship that brought the Kill-Team to this sector. Fortunately, the Kill-Team’s boarding torpedo glances off the hull of the Eldar ship, spins out of control but still manages to crash into the Ardent Crown. After some minor setbacks that costs them precious time, the Kill-Team is able to breach the ship’s interior and begin their search for the relic. There is concern when they realize they are unable to send or receive communications with their ship.

Walking the ship’s desolate and damaged interior it soon becomes apparent that the ship’s crew is most likely long dead and even worse, deadly genestealers now stalk the corridors. Both Brother Aoner and Brother Vectis are able to confirm through psychic and technical means the likely location of the Halo of Providence in the ship’s fore weapons bay and direct the Team in that direction. Not long after, they finally meet the enemy as several genestealers ambush the Team from their concealment near the corridors’ ceiling. Brother Dante goes down as several of the foul Xenos gang up on the Tactical Marine, but his teammates are able to dispatch the creatures and administer aid.

Ever wary of additional threats, the Kill-Team proceeds cautiously, and with the exception of a moment of concern when the whole ship appears to briefly shudder and shake, they make it to the Ardent Crown’s fore weapons bay. Upon forcing open a set of blast doors, the Kill-Team is surprised to find a huge battle taking place inside between genestealers and a force of Eldar comprised of a squad of Warp Spiders and a squad of sharpshooting Pathfinders led by a Farseer and a Warlock. Amongst the ancient stockpile of munitions and other debris, the Kill-Team sees that near the Eldar fighting position are the bodies of four Adeptus Astartes whose power armor is painted in the black color of the Deathwatch.
The Kill-Team advances toward the Eldar position fighting their way through the genestealers, which are between the two forces. Shortly after the three-way battle begins, the Warp Spiders and the Farseer vanish leaving only the Warlock and the Pathfinders to continue the fight with their enemies. The psychic might of the Warlock proves to be particularly effective against his foes as he compels both genestealers and Space Marines to battle their own forces. Brothers Vectis and Angelos engage each other in devastating melee combat and come close to killing each other before the Warlock’s psychic power fails and he is promptly smashed to bloody pulp by Brother Vectis’ thunder hammer. The Kill-Team is able to dispatch the last of the remaining Xenos and secure the area.

Inspecting the power armored remains, Brother Aoner is able to confirm they are the lost Deathwatch Kill-Team long since dead-their precious geneseed no longer recoverable. In addition, Brother Aoner’s inspection shows that the deceased librarian’s psychic hood (the Halo of Providence) is missing. Suspecting that the Eldar Farseer had taken the item prior to her escape, Brother Aoner psychically scans the ship and is able to locate a strong psychic signature, which he believes is the Farseer. After plotting a course through the ship to intercept the Farseer, Brother Aoner tasks Sister Ruby and Brother Vectis with preparing a boarding torpedo that they found in the fore weapons bay for launch while he takes the rest of the team to recover the artifact.

Unfortunately, it appears that Brother Aoner’s calculations are off and his team fails to find the Eldar, or the Halo of Providence; a psychic scan supports that the Eldar are no longer aboard the Ardent Crown. He orders the team back to the fore weapons bay where the boarding torpedo has been successfully prepped and loaded with the remains of the deceased Kill-Team.

Their mission a failure, the Kill-Team departs from the Ardent Crown- their boarding torpedo shot from the derelict vessel into the unknown since communications with their transport ship have still not been re-established. As the torpedo speeds away from the Crown, the Kill-Team gets a brief view through the torpedo’s small viewing window of the Eldar frigate dematerializing from view and the Ardent Crown plummeting into the upper atmosphere of the heavily populated hive world of Solace.

* GM’s Note: This mission was slightly modified by the GM from the Fantasy Flight Deathwatch adventure of the same name. It can be found here.*

"The Soul Reaver"- Blood, Sand and Steel

“They are a scourge upon our galaxy, the most vile and sadistic of all our xenos foes, and a peril to any who would ply the void in search of profit or gain. Whatever happens, should the shadow of their ships darken your path, pray you die fighting at the helm of your vessel, lest ‘fortune’ favors you and they take you alive…”

-Magos Domos Agnelain, Explorator

Using his connections with a Dark Eldar named Akirvas, Inquisitor Sand has discovered that acolytes Quint and Pullo were captured and sold by a Dark Eldar Archon named Salaine Morn. Through Akirvas, Sand secretly contacted Morn and a deal was brokered that in exchange for safe passage from the Dark Eldar Webway city known as the Nexus of Shadows, the imprisoned acolytes would secure a Dark Eldar ship for Morn called the Soul Reaver, which is the flagship of the most powerful Archon, and current ruler, of the Nexus of Shadows, Archon Zaergarn Kul of the Kabal of the Splintered Talon.

Of course, conducting negotiations with Xenos, especially the Dark Eldar, is highly proscribed and most in the Imperium would declare Inquisitor Sand a traitor and request his immediate execution if they knew of these relations. Regardless of the danger, the Inquisitor has went forward with the rescue attempt, though those that know of the operation suspect that there is more than just the safe return of Sand’s acolytes in play here as whispers speak of valuable information that Archon Morn will provide to Sand once she receives possession of the Soul Reaver.

Inquisitor Sand has tasked acolytes Jak, Bishop, Jez, Silvain and a young teenage girl named Luck to prosecute this mission. This group has been given orders to locate and rescue Quint and Pullo, and then secure the Soul Reaver and turn over possession of the ship to Morn. The acolytes reach their destination by being transferred from Rogue Trader Captain Melua’s ship, the Arcadia, to Archon Morn’s ship, the Promise of Agony. Morn then takes the acolytes, in the guise of slaves, to the Nexus of Shadows where they are sold to the Wych Cult of the Withered Blade under the leadership of Succubus Anyalra.

Commorragh.pngTheir lives as slaves of the Withered Blade in the Shadowspine Pits begins with torment and pain as the acolytes join other captured slaves and proceed through a number of trials that test their fighting abilities and physical and mental fortitude. Many of their fellow prisoners are killed or maimed in the process and those that survive quickly lose hope as they realize there is no escape from their predicament.

Shortly after their arrival, the acolytes make contact with Quint, Pullo, and their new acquaintances- a squat named Kelson, Magos Domos (a most surely insane tech-priest that has been a prisoner of the Dark Eldar and served in the Shadowspine Pits for over two centuries) and a fellow slave named Gunn. With the additional manpower, Quint and Domos begin working on a plan to escape the Pits that is based on the recruitment of notable slaves to join in facilitating an uprising; a plan which has little chance for success, but provides the only option of hope at the moment.

In addition to the complications of enacting the escape plan, the group must also try to stay alive in conditions that are less than optimal. The acolytes quickly find that life is a commodity that is quickly spent if one does not have the skills to survive the arena fights, or the luck to avoid being selected to participate in them. Arena fights with wyches, murder servitors, Xenos creatures from across the galaxy and fellow slaves are a constant obstacle that they endure, and so far they have managed to survive (some owe their lives to the seemingly supernatural Medicae skills of Domos the Bloodsmith). Months pass by and the acolytes, and their allies, continue their work on solidifying alliances and planning their escape. Many that the acolytes approach are skeptical about the success of any escape plan. They are wary of a possible trap or question the resolve and dedication of the acolytes toward this endeavor and request that the acolytes perform an act to prove themselves.

In a strange twist of fate following an arena event where Quint and Gunn attempt, but fail, to turn the tables on their Dark Eldar captors, Interrogator Quint meets with a sultry ship captain named Coronnia who works for the crime bosses of the Kasballica and is heavily involved in the Cold Trade; she knows of Quint through his cover identity of Quartiz- a malifixer with ties to several criminal organizations, most notably the heretical tech-cult called the Logicians. Captain Coronnia’s meeting with Quint sets in motion events which lead to Quint’s release from the Dark Eldar and into the custody of Coronnia who has been tasked to transport him back to the Calixis Sector and turn him over to his superiors. Some of the acolytes voice discontent over this ironic turn of events that has allowed Quint to be freed while the rest of his party, including those that were purposely enslaved to rescue him, remain trapped as prisoners.

The remaining acolytes and their allies continue to fight for survival while pursuing potential alliances. Slowly their efforts begin to pay off and they are able to bring several powerful prisoners to support their cause, such as a powerful psyker named Nieja and a massive Ork Warboss named Gob ‘ard Head Green. Others await a suitable display of the acolytes resolve and power and word is put out to set up an arena bout between Jak and Succubus Anyalra’s wych champion, Hekatrix Bloodbride Unarlan. The fight is approved and many eagerly await the match up. Regardless of the outcome, the acolytes plan on beginning the slave uprising at the conclusion of the match.

Domos informs the acolytes that the Nexus of Shadow is built on an ancient human construct from the Dark Age of Technology called the Gaelan Sphere. Though it is unknown how the Sphere got positioned in the Webway, Domos and Kelson find that the Sphere’s machine spirit is still clinging to life deep in the Sphere and they are able to use it to manipulate limited parts of the construct, such as opening doors and turning gravity fields on and off.

On the day of the titanic battle between the massively strong Jak and the quick and skilled Unarlan the stands are packed. The moment the match begins Jak realizes that he is outclassed- Cult_of_the_Cursed_Blades.pngthe wych is too fast and easily evades Jak’s powerful but sluggish strikes while delivering precision strikes of her own that artfully and playfully cut away at her opponent. Unfortunately for Unarlan, the hekatrix makes a slight misstep and Jak seizes the opportunity to deal a savage blow that stuns the wych and then proceeds to savagely tear apart her body with his bare hands and fling the pieces into the stands. A roar of approval, shock and anger comes from the crowd, which soon finds themselves fighting for their own lives as savage beasts and Xenos creatures that were in holding pens enter the stands courtesy of Domos and Kelson’s manipulation of the Sphere’s machine spirit. The slave uprising has begun…

* GM’s Note: This mission was modified by the GM from the Fantasy Flight Rogue Trader book “Soul Reaver.” It can be found here.

"Fearful Symmetry"

It has been five months since Tyranid forces from a tendril of Hive Fleet Dagon advanced on the Imperial station in the Salient Orpheus known as the Perihelion. Just prior to the station being overrun, Kill-team Kronus departed the station with the fleeing Imperial fleet, but left behind two of its members- Brothers G‘heirnat and Angelos who volunteered to remain behind so that their team could complete their mission in extracting a high value Inquisition prisoner on a shuttle with limited space available.

Death at the hands of overwhelming Tyranid forces is the fate that many expected for the left behind Deathwatch Marines, and the notion of entertaining even the thought of a rescue attempt could not be done while the beleaguered Imperial forces were struggling to merely survive being routed. Since then, the battle line has moved far past the Perihelion and the station now lies deep in Tyranid territory. Deep scans by probing Adeptus Mechanicus vessels show that the station still appears to be intact, though its condition and structural integrity is in question as the monitors for many of its critical systems are no longer transmitting. Speculation, supported by biometric augurs, is that the station is infested with Tyranid organisms and a small force of capital-class Tyranid ships stand guard nearby.

Recently, a window of opportunity arrived when a desperate counter-assault by a combined force of Imperial Navy, Adeptus Astartes and Adeptus Mechanicus ships stalled the Tyranid advance. A bloody stalemate has ensued and the call for reinforcements from both sides has gone out. Amongst this carnage, petitions for a rescue attempt of the stranded Battle-brothers of Kill-Team Kronos have been made, backed by the support of various Deathwatch and parent-Chapter Space Marines, as well as a few members of the Inquisition and Adeptus Mechanicus. Enough support came forward that a desperate plan was approved to send a small, but formidable, combined force of Naval, Astartes and Mechanicus ships to make a concentrated strike into the Tyranid battle line closest to the Perihelion in an attempt to draw away as much of the nearby Tyranid fleet as possible so that a sole Deathwatch cruiser, the Argent Crusader, could penetrate to the Perihelion and deliver Kill-team Kronus (consisting of Brothers Aoner, Vectis and Dante and Palatine Ruby) and Veteran Sergeant Agamorr (a legend amongst the Deathwatch and Adeptus Astartes) to rescue the lost Space Marines, carry out a variety of sub-missions and destroy the Perihelion.

Brother Dante was chosen to lead Kill-team Kronos, while Brother Agamorr would operate solo to complete his mission objectives. It was also decided that two Deathwatch relics would be beneficial in aiding the boarding party with mission success- Sergeant Agamorr armed himself with the famed Hammer of Balthazar and Brother Aoner wielded the legendary Shard of Bekrin.
After an uneventful transit through the Warp, the Kill-team reached their destination and it appeared that the Imperium’s plan to draw away the Tyranid ships from the Perihelion was a success. Using a Thunderhawk gunship for insertion into one of the Perihelion’s massive landing bays, the Kill-team and Sergeant Agamorr disembark into a fighting boarding action against a formidable Tyranid force of Carnifexes, Termagants, Hormagaunts and Warriors. With supporting fire from the Thunderhawk’s various weapons, the Space Marines and Sister of Battle met their foes head on using bolter, flame and melee attacks to decimate their Xenos opponents. During the battle, Brother Aoner tapped too much into the dangerous Warp energy used to fuel his psychic powers and inadvertently summoned a daemon prince called Vargash the Black (who Aoner had mistakenly summoned before on a previous encounter, which resulted in unfortunate results). The enraged daemon prince sought the librarian’s death, and it was only through another fluke of Warp intervention that Aoner was saved and Vargash returned to his domain.

With the Xenos in the landing bay destroyed or scattered, the Kill-team and Agamorr proceed deeper into the station, splitting up to prosecute their individual missions, and planning to link back up later to enact the protocols to destroy the Perihelion. Not sure where to locate their missing Battle-brothers, Kill-team Kronos wandered the station looking for clues. The Perihelion was in a decrepit state- lack of maintenance and the Tyranid presence has left failing or non-operational utility systems, a damaged interior and no sign of survivors. Eventually a scan by Brother Vectis picked up a faint distress signal Imperial in nature being broadcast from the bridge area and the Kill-team made haste to locate the signal’s source.

Proceeding down one of the station’s many corridors, the Kill-team found their way blocked by an unresponsive door. As Brother Vectis and Sister Ruby used their technical skill to attempt to revive the door’s machine spirits, the rest of the Kill-team enacted a desperate defense to buy Vectis and Ruby time to complete their work as a massive horde of Tyranid organisms flooded the corridor intent on terminating the Kill-team. Termagaunts and Hormagaunts attack the Kill-team’s position with razor sharp claws and organic weapons that fire armor-boring beetles. Brother Aoner unleashes psychic death while Brother Dante stoically stands his ground to bulwark the corridor against the enemy.

On the brink of being overrun, Vectis and Ruby are successful and the sealed door opens to reveal their missing Battle-brothers on the other side. Brother G’heirnat motions the team through the door while Brother Angelos charges into the Tyranid horde to buy his teammates time to retreat to safety. Once all of the Kill-team members are safely through the door, G’heirnat seals the door to keep them safe from the relentless Tyranid assault.

A short exchange of pleasantries follows and the Kill-team learns of the hardships that Angelos and G’heirnat have endured for the past five months. With no ammunition left and their armor battered, G’heirnat and Angelos are grateful to receive the weapons and ammunition that the Kill-team has brought for them.

After utilizing the semi-operational augur array on the bridge, the Kill-team investigates a warning rune at some stasis chambers near the bridge and discover the Perihelion’s Chief Astropath, Mardon Arlarnt, who requests that the Kill-team escort him to safety so that he can relay a priority message that he was in the process on receiving when the station’s evacuation was taking place. The Kill-team agrees, and with the astropath under their protection, the Kill-team decides to make their way to the Adeptus Mechanicus section of the Perihelion to complete one of their objectives- to retrieve a valuable archeotech item called the Lucius-pattern Vision Hood.

On the way, Brother Vectis becomes aware of multiple contacts on the auspex rapidly approaching the Kill-team from two different sides. This message is relayed to his teammates and the Kill-team decides to form a defensive position in a room housing several of the station’s sub-generators. This room can be easily defended- a pile of rubble and debris partially blocks one corridor, a small hole in the ceiling allows limited access on one corner and there is only one long corridor that is entirely open. Brothers G’heirnat and Aoner position to hold the long corridor with flamer and psychic powers, Palatine Ruby and Brothers Angelos and Dante act as a ready reserve to assist where they are needed and Brother Vectis watches the partially blocked corridor and the hole in the ceiling in a position where he can protect the Astropath.

The kill-team does not have to wait long until the enemy is upon them. A large group of Genestealers rushes down the corridor at G’heirnat and Aoner and they unleash their weapons in an effort to push them back and reduce their numbers. Calamity strikes the Kill-team from the onset as Aoner taps too much into the Warp and his psychic Smiting power backlashes onto himself severely wounding the Librarian and hurting his comrade Dante; the Black Templar G’heirnat is unharmed as his Chapter’s distrust of psykers has developed methods of protecting them from the Warp’s foul energies.
There are too many Genestealers to keep at bay with the weapons at the Kill-team’s disposal and battle is soon joined as Genestealers nearly overwhelm G’heirnat and Aoner. Brothers Dante and Angelos rush in to assist their battle-brothers while Vectis holds his section as best he can when Genestealers start emerging from the rubble and the hole in the ceiling. Overwhelmed and starting to sustain serious wounds, the Kill-team takes some desperate, but tactical measures- Palatine Ruby sends cleansing flamer fire to engulf Genestealer and Space Marine alike and all of the Battle-brothers, except Vectis and G’heirnat catch on fire with some of the Genestealers. Covered in flames, both forces fight on.

Angelos sends several Genestealers to their death with sweeps of Vectis’ power axe. G’heirnat takes on the enemy armed only with his Storm Shield and a Combat Knife. Vectis’ servo-arm reduces Genestealers to bloody pulp. Palatine Ruby’s hand flamer keeps the enemy burning. Bolstered by the defense of his Iron Arm psychic power, Aoner cuts at the Genestealers with the Shard of Bekrin. Dante yells defiance at the enemy and drives his comrades to a battle fervor that guides their attacks in a way that the Genestealers find difficult to avoid.

The Kill-team slays the remaining Genestealers, but have sustained numerous wounds and Brother G’heirnat administers aid to his battered comrades. Their time on the Perihelion facing the Tyranid threat is starting to take its toll on the Kill-team- the stock of pain suppressants in their armor is slowly being depleted, their apothecary’s supply of medications has long been used up, and it is only through G’heirnat’s medicae skills and the grace of the Emperor that the Kill-team is still in fighting condition.

Finally arriving at the Adeptus Mechanicus section of the station, the Kill-team makes their way through a devastated section where the Tyranids have used brute strength and numbers to smash their way through the security protocols and physical barriers- the remains of combat servitors litter the corridors and heavy reinforced doors have been torn asunder. The exception to this devastation is the area where the Tech-Priests house their high-value secure storage. The Kill-team finds that the Tyranid advance has not penetrated this far into the section and Brother Dante decides that he and Brother Angelos will scout ahead of the rest of the team to check for an ambush.

Ahead of their fellows, Dante and Angelos find that the area is still under guard by active combat servitors. The heavily augmented guardians rush at the Space Marines with deadly whip-like appendages crackling with power. Calling to his team for aid, the two Space Marines are engaged by the servitors and Angelos becomes a whirlwind of death destroying his foes. By the time the rest of the Kill-team arrives, the few remaining servitors are easily dispatched and the way to recover the Lucius-Pattern Vison Hood is clear.

Using the authorization codes provided to them by the Adeptus Mechanicus, Brother Vectis unseals the vault where the Hood is being stored. A marvel of archeotech, the Vision Hood gives it wearer the ability to detect life signs through a variety of barriers and cloaking devices, detect radiation and contaminants, and note flaws in structural integrity. Hoping the device will assist them in combating the Tyranids with chameleon abilities, Brother Aoner dons the Hood for the rest of the mission.

While evaluating the abilities of the Hood, the Kill-team gets a distress call from Veteran Sergeant Agamorr. The Sergeant’s mission in recovering the geneseed was successful, but the famed Deathwatch Space Marine is being attacked by overwhelming Tyranid forces and requests the Kill-team’s aid. With haste, the Kill-team navigates the Perihelion’s corridors (the Vison Hood assisting the Kill-team in evading Tyranid forces) and arrive at Agamorr’s location too late for battle and find the Veteran Sergeant’s bloody and broken body atop a small mountain of dead Tyranids.

Sustaining grievous injuries, the Sergeant’s body is slipping into suspended animation to preserve his life until advanced medical aid can be given. G’heirnat revives the Sergeant for a short time so that they can question him about what took place. Agamorr still has the geneseed intact, but reports that a rare and classified Tyranid-strain creature known only as “Species Seven” attacked him. While the rest of the Kill-team are lost with the reference, Agamorr and G’heirnat know of the creature and the apothecary briefs his brothers on the rarely seen and reported (some don’t even believe in its existence) Tyranid creature that is simply described as a Hive Tyrant with Lictor abilities. Records to date indicate that there have been no survivors of a suspected Species Seven encounter.

Before slipping back into suspended animation, the Sergeant tells the Kill-team that Species Seven is stalking them even now and they must complete their mission before its too late. While Brother Vectis secures the Sergeant’s body, Brother G’heirnat takes possession of the recovered geneseed and Brother Dante stows his chainsword to wield the mighty Hammer of Balthazar. The team then makes haste to the Engineerium to initiate the station’s auto-annihilation sequence.

Kill-team Kronus arrives at the massive plasma reactor that powers the entire orbital. Stretching up through several levels and crawling with thousands of Tyranid organisms, the Kill-team starts their long approach to the control room located in the center of the massive chamber. Leaking radiation slowly starts to affect their bodies but their Melanchromic Organs are able to protect them from permanent damage for the time being. Vectis drags the body of the hibernating Sergeant Agamorr as the team makes their way to the closest catwalk that travels through the arcing plasma streams to the control room.

Their progress is soon noted by the nearby surrounding Tyranids and a warning flashes through the Hive Mind. Hundreds of Hormagaunts and Termagants’ under the direction of Tyranid Warriors make haste to the Kill-Team’s position. Some of the Tyranids are fast enough to intercept the team before they make it to the center of the chamber and a blood battle ensues between the two forces.

As the battle continues, the massive numbers of the Tyranids starts to give them an advantage. While decimating a horde of Termagants, Brother Angelos goes down and is swarmed by the creatures. Brother Dante and Brother G’heirnat are able to get to their critically wounded battle-brother in time to treat his wounds. Many of the Kill-team have sustained numerous injuries as they finally make their way to the catwalk that leads to the reactor’s central control but inside they find that the battle is still not over as yet more Tyranids wait for them within the control room itself. With time ticking away, the Kill-team charges into the enemy crossing into the inner control chamber of the reactor core for the Perihelion. While Brother Angelos acts as rearguard against sporadic advancing Tyranid organisms, the rest of the team takes on the enemies waiting inside.

With the enhanced visual assistance of the Lucius-Pattern Vision Hood, Brother Aoner is able to see two more Tyranid Warriors hidden on the other side of the control room and he advances ahead of his Kill-Team towards these targets. When he arrives, he does indeed find two more Tyranid Warriors, and realizes almost too late when one of them sends a powerful beam of psychic power at him that one of them is a psyker Tyranid Prime. The two psykers, Librarian and Prime, begin a duel hurling psychic energy at each other.

Calling for his Kill-team to push forward, Brother Dante leads a charge that results in the death of one of the Tyranid Warriors and inspires the rest of his team. After dispatching the other Tyranid organisms guarding the control chamber, the rest of the Kill-team converge on the Prime. Outnumbered and trapped, the Xenos synapse creature is quickly slain.

After setting up a security perimeter, and tending to the wounded, the Kill-team searches the control room for the Sacred Scroll of the Rite of Auto-Annihilation. Palatine Ruby braves the radiation danger and locates the scroll and immediately heads out to a protected area while Brothers G’heirnat and Vectis complete the Rite, which is executed flawlessly. With the safety barriers disabled, the massive plasma reactor becomes unstable amidst the sound of warning klaxons. The countdown to the destruction of the Perihelion begins, and with only a short window of opportunity for escape, the Kill-team makes haste to the nearest hanger bay for extraction. With the station’s structural integrity failing, the Kill-team must maneuver past obstacles of falling debris and collapsing corridors, as well as fight past scattering Tyranids caught in the destruction, to reach their destination.

Making it to the nearest landing bay with only a short amount of time left, the Kill-team voxes their awaiting Thunderhawk for extraction and gets to work preparing to exit. It is decided that splitting into teams would be best. One team to finds a suitable void suit for Astropath Arlarnt, so that he may survive the void when the landing bay doors are opened. One team, which includes Brother Aoner wearing the Lucius-Pattern Vision Cowl to scan for incoming Tyranids, including Species Seven. And the last team, consisting of Brothers G’heirnat and Vectis, who have been tasked with manually opening the massive landing bays doors, which are no longer responding to electronic controls.

With five minutes till their Thunderhawk arrives, Palatine Ruby and Brother Angelos are able to locate, and get Arlarnt secured in a void suit just as several large groups of Tyranid creatures converge on the landing bay from several directions. Brother Dante quickly requests the assistance of the Alpha Scars Chapter Tactical Squad under the command of Sergeant Riesus that has been waiting on standby to assist. The squad teleports into the center of the landing bay with weapons ready to support the Kill-team’s exit. With the clock ticking away to destruction, Brother Aoner’s Lucius-Pattern enhanced vision notes a fast moving group of three Tyranids heading toward the landing bay concealed by the walls.

What happens next unfolds in a matter of seconds. The Alpha Scars Tactical squad brings the Emperor’s vengeance down on the foul Xenos, decimating many Genestealers and Hormagaunts with bolter fire and frag grenades before being joined in melee combat where all but their Sergeant would fall to the deadly claws of the Xenos. Angelos charges into the midst of the Xenos hordes, and later joins his remaining Chapter Battle-brother to finish off the remaining attacking hordes of Tyranids. G’heirnat proves that his strength is indeed legend when his mighty armor-enhanced strength easily turns the massive wheels that manually open the landing bay doors, while Brother Vectis’ powerful servo-arm struggles to do the same. Brother Aoner takes on Species Seven and its duo of Lictor companions as they enter the landing bay. A blast of psychic might reduces one of the Lictors to a smoking carcass and catches Species Seven in the blast. Showing no signs of distress, the massive Lictor-like creature continues past the librarian toward the Space Marines at the landing bay doors while the remaining Lictor assaults Brother Aoner. The advance chameleon effect of Species Seven makes it hard for even the augmented senses of the Space Marines to see its location and the Tyranid creature is able to initially engage the Space Marines single-handedly and cause serious injuries, especially to Brother Dante. Eventually the Kill-team are able to locate the hidden creature and bring their combined numbers to bear (Brother Aoner joins the fight against Species Seven after a perfect blast of stormbolter fire from Palatine Ruby kills the Lictor he is in close combat with). Brother Vectis is able to deliver the killing blow against the deadly creature by boring a massive hole into the creature with his Breaching Augur.
With their escape route clear, the Kill-team (carrying the bodies of their wounded and deceased Space Marines), board the Thunderhawk and make haste to the safe zone of the Perihelion’s explosion. The Tyranid space assets have since returned after hearing the synaptic cry from Species Seven, and the Thunderhawk desperately maneuvers the gauntlet of debris and Tyranid interceptors. Finding themselves on the edge of the safe zone when the Perihelion’s plasma core finally explodes, the Thunderhawk is buffeted by the massive energies released in the blast wave. Adrift with no power, the Thunderhawk is eventually picked up by the Imperial forces, though all the Kill-team members have suffered critical injuries, including severed limbs and Astropath Arlarnt perished in the blast wave. Despite the damage to their bodies, the Kill-team returns to Imperial-controlled space hailed as heroes, their mission a success.

* GM’s Note: This mission was created by the GM and inspired by events in the Deathwatch adventure, “The Ark of Lost Souls,” by Fantasy Flight Games and the Warhammer 40,000 novel, “The Death of Integrity,” by Guy Haley.

"The Dying of St Margaret's"

Continuing the joint investigation that started with the strange tainted black birds that were found in Hive Sibellus at the Colleges of Hetaireia Lexis, Inquisitor Sand and Inquisitor Baspherone have yet to locate Chaos cultist Stefan Seiger, but have uncovered information about some time the cultist spent in the disguise of an Imperial Priest working at the isolated island Schola Progenium of St. Margaret’s on the world of Pellicuda IX. The long-established schola had a reputation for producing quality progena, but over the past couple of decades, the numbers of quality graduating progena has declined and the schola has been plagued by personnel issues, deaths and training accidents that are far above the norm for such an institution; analysis shows that these deficiencies appear to have started after Seiger’s time at the schola.
Initially, Inquisitor Baspherone dispatches a team of his acolytes to St. Margaret’s in an overt investigation into the matter, but the team disappears with no explanation after a week on site. Concerned about hidden Chaos agents amongst the schola’s population, Inquisitor Sand dispatches a team of his own acolytes led by Legatine Uriel, whose cover story is that she is has been assigned as the new head of the schola’s medicae facility to address the unusual number of deaths and injuries taking place. Flak accompanies the team assigned as Uriel’s bodyguard, Bishop takes the cover identity of a pilgrim and Lupus is assigned as the schola’s new choir teacher. These various appointments should allow the acolytes to investigate all ranges, from the upper administration to the lowly pious servants, of the schola’s population.

Upon arrival, the acolytes quickly adapt to their cover identities and the strict puritan way of life that the schola functions under. Three Imperial services and three humble meals a day, corporal punishment of students by Drill Abbots and the constant sound of Imperial hymns in the background are just some of the conditions the acolytes endure during their investigation, which they conduct in-between the duties of their assigned cover identities.

While no hidden cultists or malevolent individuals are found, there is definitely something strange going on at the schola. All of the staff and children appear to be in a state of constant weakness and fatigue, and Uriel is perplexed when her studies of patient records show that everyone, even young children, are suffering from various degenerative medical conditions. The people, the structure of the schola, and even the land itself seem to be aged and in a decrepitated state with no explanation. The acolytes soon find after their first night of sleep that sleep offers no rest and fatigue is a constant condition that plagues everyone no matter how much sleep one gets.

Uriel suspects some type of contamination affecting everyone and starts looking at ventilation, food and water as potential causes. The other acolytes question some of the staff but no leads are made until Bishop breaks into the secure theater that the previous Inquisition team was using as a base of operations. Inside the acolytes find a wealth of research material that the other team complied, and analysis leads the acolytes to believe that the other Inquisition team found evidence to support that something emanating from a meteor that crashed long ago into the beach of the island is responsible for the maladies taking place.

After finding evidence that the other Inquisition team acquired spelunking equipment, the acolytes decide that there must be a cave near the beach and set out to investigate the possibility. Their hypothesis proves correct, and they do find a small cave mouth concealed on the boulder-strewn beach. Using Bishop’s expertise from his upbringing on a frontier world, the team takes hours to navigate a cave system that is lit by a strange phosphoresce from an unknown source. The trip through the cave eventually leads the acolytes to the remains of the other Inquisition team. Some are just piles of rapidly decomposed bones and equipment, but others appears to be alive until, to the horror of the acolytes, a mere touch causes their forms to rapidly fall apart as dust.

The cave ends in a cavern with a large glowing rock of a strange material that is surrounded by a dense shifting fog that the acolytes soon discover is actively sucking the life from them. With the sudden appearance of daemons of Tzeentch called Horrors, the acolytes begin a desperate fight to destroy the meteor before they succumb to the life-draining fog and its daemonic guardians. With the group on the brink of death, Uriel finally sends the last shot that shatters the meteor and banishes the daemons and the life-draining taint from the schola.

* GM’s Note: This mission was ran with modifications from the Trail of Cthulhu adventure, “The Dying of St Maragret’s" by Graham Walmsley. It can be found on the Pelgrane Press Ltd website “here.”

"The Watchers in the Sky"

On behalf of Inquisitor Sand’s old alma mater, the College of Hetaireia Lexis on the planet of Scintilla, one of the Inquisitor’s old professors (and dean of the Lexis Maxima), Magister Loremaster Cornelius Wright, has requested Inquisition assistance in investigating a strange and perplexing matter in recent months in which standardized experiments on campus have resulted in abnormal results with no explanation; this phenomenon appears to be only limited to the Lexis Maxima campus in Hive Sibellus. The abnormalities are severely hindering research projects since known effects are no longer standard.

Interested in helping his old friend, but still preoccupied with his search for Interrogator Quint and other matters, Inquisitor Sand dispatches a team lead by one of his senior acolytes, Magos Vern (the rest of the team members include Lupus, Bishop and a newly acquired acolyte from the Penal Legion that goes by the nickname of Flak). In addition, Vern decides to take the added firepower of a gun servitor just in case.

Upon arriving at the Lexis Maxima, the acolytes are set up with quarters and the faculty extend whatever assistance they can provide to resolve this matter. Vern conducts some experiments of his own and confirms that standardized chemical reactions and other known results are not happening. The rest of the acolytes spend their time interviewing other faculty, including a Loremaster named Kale who is currently being treated in a sanatorium on campus that is run by an order of the Sisters Hospitalers. Kale proves to be suffering from some type of psychosis and he believes that the strange black birds on campus that look similar to crows are the cause of the anomalies.

flock-of-flying-birds-desktop-wallpaper.jpgThe acolytes note that there are hundreds of the black birds perched on buildings and trees throughout the campus and they always move together in a flock. Lupus and Bishop start getting the sickening feeling that the birds are watching their every move, and during the night, their dreams are filled with the ever watchful forms of the birds. The feeling of their constant gaze starts to wear away at their sanity and they each begin to subconsciously trace a strange spiral pattern with their hands, the same distinct pattern that they have noted the birds always using when they fly up into the sky.

Intrigued by this strange bird theory causing the anomalies, Vern tasks Lupus and Flak to secure a specimen for analysis. On the high roof of one of the campus’ buildings, the pair try to lure a bird with food with no success. It is only when Lupus decides to shoot one with his crossbow that the normally passive birds react violently and attack Lupus en masse. Despite being seriously wounded, and almost falling to his death, Lupus does kill one of the birds and brings it back to Vern.

Vern conducts an autopsy on the animal and finds a strange physiology inside- the bird is not of any known species, and more disturbing, some of its internal bones and organs appear to be from a variety of species, including humans and dogs. Even stranger is the absence of blood, and instead there is a black caviar-like substance that holds the insides together.
The group decides to each utilize their scholastic and forbidden knowledge to comb the source material in the libraries of the Lexis Maxima. In addition, they pay a visit to the College’s premiere ornithologist on birds across the galaxy, Loremaster Juliann Nott. Nott tells the acolytes that the black birds are not native to Scintilla (or any other known place) and were in fact brought to the College over twenty years ago as a pair by a previously employed Loremaster named Sieger. Sieger has since left the employment of the College and his whereabouts are unknown. It is believed that his pair of birds bred and the flocks on campus are their offspring.

Additionally research reveals the following: 1) Lupus recognizes Sieger as a Churirgeon that used to work at a manor house that was purchased by Inquisitor Sand; it was later found that Sieger was a Chaos cultist for the Eldritch Order of the Unblinking Eye and he fled Imperial authorities while the rest of the cult were being terminated. 2) The bird’ spiral pattern is similar to the symbol of the Chaos power of Tzeentch and there is a numeric significance present related to the number “9.” 3) It is believed that the birds are related to the Warp and a theory is developed that as their numbers increase, they weaken the veil between the Warp and realspace (thus the abnormal experiment reactions) and left uncheck, a tear in the fabric of reality will happen. 4) There are reports of similar types of birds near a remote frontier city outside of Hive Sibellus called Rydal.

The acolytes’ investigation is not without complications though, as a power play between Vern with his Inquisition authority and the Sisters Hospitalers and their Ecclessiarchy authority creates a situation in which both groups get higher powers involved. Inquisitor Sand and Inquisitor Baspherone both personally respond to ease tensions and negotiate a working relationship. The potential Warp threat that the birds create cannot be ignored and it is decided that Inquisitor Baspherone will oversee an operation to have Sisters of Battle Retributor Squads armed with flame weapons destroy the birds on campus while Vern and his team continue the investigation in Rydal.

After requisitioning a Valkyrie transport, the team secretly lands on the outskirts of the town of Rydal and approaches on foot. They find that the black birds are indeed present, in considerably more numbers than they were at the Lexis Maxima. They find the townsfolk to be quiet and melon collie and they are mainly miners that work the network of mines that surround the town. The team learns much from a local named Vincent who is not a priest, but is caretaker of the town Church; he tells Lupus that the Ecclessiarchy has not sent a new priest to take over since the last one drowned in the nearby lake over twenty years ago. The acolytes also learn that the town’s women are being plague by a madness in which they take their own lives, which is why there are few woman in the town and the area is shunned by travelers.

After securing room and board at a local inn called the “Green Man,” Lupus and Flak make additional inquires to people but find little useful information other than not many actively worship the Emperor in the area and the strange birds are in abundance but not dangerous. Lupus and Flak do get involved one night in helping Vincent save his daughter from taking her life on a strange stone that sits outside the town- a stone with strange occult engravings that has a local history as a suicide location.

pic1439028.jpgDeciding that the mines might hold the answer, the group makes inquires for a local guide to take them where there are reports of strange phenomena and a miner named ‘Ol Ned agrees to provide his services for hire. Early the following day, ‘Ol Ned takes the group to an old series of mines near a place called the Longhrigg Quarry. Inside is a maze of tunnels that ‘Ol Ned seems to know how to navigate that takes them deep underground in the dark. The tunnels appear to be a nesting place for yet thousands more of the black birds who lay asleep on the walls ignoring the group’s progress. Hours pass by as the group goes deeper and deeper into the earth, and eventually they arrive at a section where the barrier between realspace and an unknown Warp world is permeable. Strange sights and creatures can be seen on the ever fluctuating tunnel walls of the mines and further exploration leads the acolytes to a bright pillar of light in a dead end cavern.

The acolytes find out almost too late that they have been set up and local cultists open fire from the cavern, nearly killing Flak. The acolytes regroup, and using the cover of a tossed blind grenade, they conduct an assault. With the group momentarily split up, ‘Ol Ned, proves to be a cultist as well and launches a surprise attack on Bishop with his chainsword while Vern and Lupus are in the cavern attacking the cultists let by a rogue psyker that is a local shepherd. What follows is an intense battle between the acolytes and the cultists, who are supported by Tzeentch Flamer daemons that emerge from the pillar of light, which appears to be a gateway to the Warp world that is anchored by a strange inscribed stone in the light pillar.

Despite the daemonic horrors and psychic assault, the acolytes are victorious in terminating the cultists and destroying the Warpstone anchor, but the destruction of the stone unleashes one final surge of power as the thousands of birds in the mine attack the acolytes. The aftermath finds the acolytes barely alive and in serious need of medical attention (Flak lost his left eye to the birds), but all the birds in the mines and town are found to be dead and the taint in the area appears to be gone.

* GM’s Note: This mission was ran with modifications from the Trail of Cthulhu adventure, “The Watchers in the Sky" by Graham Walmsley. It can be found on the Pelgrane Press Ltd website “here.”