Only In Death Does Duty End

Under the Hammer

.begin: document
.coding: ClxStd “StegFour”
.priority: diamondTwo
.date: 364904.M41
.path: CLX091870-IXN5a80j-CLX010712-CLX471093

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+ From: Inquisitor Hekate
+ To: cellThrysus

+ Within the upper habs of Hive Tarsus an auction of minor heresies, blasphemies and other contraband is scheduled to take place on 372. By the time of your arrival my agent will have cleaned the exact location and acquired invitations for you. The agent knows of your arrival and will identify himself as Nexus Sion. You are to follow his instructions precisely.

+ Once the auction has begun your task is twofold:

+ First, observe the other bidders. Make note of what they buy and who they are or appear to be. Those who come here will likely bring themselves to the attention of the Holy Ordos in the future and it is well to see the start of things.

+ Second, should any lot of significant interest to the Inquisition you MUST purchase it. To that end a credit chit linked to a blind account holding 250,000 Thrones has been provided to your Alpha. In the event, however unlikely, of being outbid on such an item you are to acquire it by other means.

+ Discretion in this matter is key.

+ Additional equipment has been readied for you in the lander “Saint Angefel”. Be aware that the resource of the Inquisition, while significant, are not limitless.

+ The Emperor protects.

.signed: Inquisitor Inya Hekate
.auth: sigmaSix-alphaTen

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Thought for the day: A closed mind is a secure mind.

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Episode 1
Part-Time Jobs and Inventory Management

The party landed at Tarsus and made their way to Carnodont’s Foot, having been contacted by Nexus Sion.

Once there, Maza scouted out possible entrances and exits, while Rezrel offered card-readings to passers by. Zak and Severus wandered off to a nearby gun market and spent the remainder of the session managing their inventories and dickering with a shopkeeper.

Rezrel foretold the future of an enigmatic woman who later turned out to be Nexus Sion, the party’s contact. She provided the party with the location of the auctions, invitation chips, as well as rooms in the Carnodont’s Foot. The auction is to be held the following day at noon, level 17, section A – following the green lights.

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Episode 2
The Ordo Malleus is all about fiscal responsibility!

Having rested and refreshed themselves, the acolytes set out on their journey to the scalding, parched surface. In order to survive the exposed parts of Hive Tarsus, they required resources and provisions. Having not had enough exciting economics in the previous session, they quickly hit the market, attempting to purchase their necessities from the lowest possible bidder.

Since nobody wanted to be the lowest possible bidder, they attempted fraud and threat by psyker to get a merchant to lower her prices. When even this failed, they staged a fake arrest to shake down the vendor until she agreed to sell them everything they required for a single throne rather than four or five.

Paying careful attention to their expenses, they made sure they got a receipt, showing that not a single throne of the 250,000 they had been entrusted with had been spent frivolously.

Next, they found a blind man selling cloth, and attempted to threaten, cheat him, doubt the veracity of his blindness, and claim that the goods they wished to purchase were damaged when they were not, all in order to minimize Ordo Malleus expenses. Unfortunately, nothing in their arsenal of grifter skills managed to get the old blind man to lower his price of 5 thrones, seriously impacting their operating budget for the whole mission, since they now carried only 249,994 thrones, not counting the 6 Rezrel had conned out of their contact the day before.

Again, a receipt was prudently acquired.

Thus prepared for their journey, the party set off. On the way, the techpriest Maza tried and failed to probe the secrets of the dataslate they carried, and Rezrel the Psyker somehow managed to get himself acclaimed the leader of the group, and convinced the others that he speak for them all and be the only one allowed to bid at the heretical auction.

No protest was raised.

Finally arriving at the auction, the group got their first look at the people they (or more specifically, Rezrel) would be bidding against.

These foul heretics were, from left to right:

  • A solitary man in a gold robe with an animate bird mask. It blinks.
  • An ancient man on a life-support system built into his throne, with entourage of all ages, some just as old as he.
  • An exoticoffworlder in a refrigerated white suit, with face concealing goggles and rifle of unknown design and origin.
  • A member of the Red Priesthood of Mars whose robes have seen better days. He has been blessed with the gift of four mechadendrites and caterpillar tracks for legs.
  • A man wearing the robes and carrying the staff of a Cardinal of the Adeptus Ministorum. His face is concealed by a device that spews forth black clouds to conceal his features.
View
Episode 3
Never get into a soul gaze with a wiza...Psyker.

And so the auction began!

The first lot for sale was a beautifully carved stature of two legendary primarchs, Lion’el Johnson and Leman Russ engaged in something this Psyker certainly won’t admit to understanding as congress. Made by the sculptor Samnian this hot piece of fanXfic was purchased by the priest for an immense amount of 25,000 thrones.

The team did not publically announce an interest but this psyker does wonder about Severus’s….predilictions.

Coming up next was an old xeno skull from an unknown species at least 20,000 years old. The Techpriest purchased it for 15k establishing his penchant for the Xeno. Once again the acolytes stood apart from the precedings.

THEN! DRAMA!
A PAMPHLET!!!!!

Pertaining to the dealings and bargains made by The Saint Drusus with the dark powers, the party acquired it, although doubting it’s veracity for an appropriately solvent amount of 1,000 thrones, a fraction of their borrowed wealth. No competitors for that little number.

The next item for sale was a copy of the Voices from the stars, written by the prophetess A’lea and whilst Rezrel attempted to purchase it at the starting price, it went for thirty thousand thrones, the man in the full body glove hesitantly buying it and seemingly relieved to get it. Said man left himself with approximately 90,000 thrones worth of gems after this exchange which, your friendly narrating psyker notes, puts him out of the action as far as serious fare goes.

BIG THINGS AHEAD!
Well aware of fiscal responsibility and the fact that their commanding inquisitor can actually throw a tank with their mind, Rezrel decided to stay out of the bidding for an old data vox/pict disc pertaining to an old xeno dig site. The tech priest continued his lust for xeno lore it seems purchasing it at teh steep and expensive cost of 100,000 thrones despite stiff competition from the man in the Susthrone. It seemed reasonable to then assume that the tech priest was somewhat out of funds now and the man in the susthrone had probably little more than 100k to bid, leaving merely the cardinal and the man in the bird mask a serious risk to the more…heretical malefic items upcoming.

After a short break in which the group do very little but watch the sixth item was placed on the block. A star map, without coordinates, yes. Valuable? Extremely. In an incredibly clever(stupid) and brave(risky) ploy Rezrel engaged in the bidding at 115,000 thrones in order to inflate the cost and test the measure of the bird-masked man, the true contestant in what was to come. Having read the other auctionees well the item went for 125,000 thrones to the man in the susthrone, his entourage buzzing.

The final item. A book. Stood in a glass case throbbing with an odorous ill-ease. Reaching out into the fabric of the warp itself Rezrel saw the power of the man in the bird mask, flexing and strobing from his mind, certainly stronger than Rezrel and well aware of the books true nature, much like he.

The bidding began…and escalated quickly. After some brief repartee Rezrel struck a confident chord of 200,000 thrones. They met eyes and in that instant the measure of men was tested. But nobody wants to look at a dirty psyker anyways and the opponent backed down, turning his gaze away from Rezrel and allowing the bid to stand, the acolytes obtaining a clearly tainted book for 200k.

After some slight…wrangling on who puts the book in the box and eventually a servitor made to do it the auction emptied, one party at a time with 10 minutes between each group. Having purchased the most valuable and risky item, and now leaving last the group wonders exactly what ambushes and plans await them in the darkness of their journey back to the Lander.

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Episode 4
Home improvements, get 'em while they're hot.

On leaving the auction. Certain members of the group SURE WERE JUMPY. After a brief consultation with a map the party headed off through winding corridors. A sense of unease grew until somebody noticed that this was in fact not the way they had arrived. Unfortunately this revelation was a little too late as an explosion ripped through the walls and ceiling. Zak and Rez, their extensive combat experience showing, leapt and rolled to the side whilst the “sturdy” and “studious” members of the party were caught in the rubble. Whilst Zak kept watch Rez hauled the adept and eventually the tech priest out of the rubble.

Unfortunately a servo got a little knocked about in the poor little Priesties cogitation circuits because he decided that he had a good idea. He didn’t. He did it anyways. After communing with the data slate in certain acts that can only be described as vaguely sexual he led the party on, convinced that his route would lead them to safety. Safety is apparently a dead end. And a grenade.

The anti tank grenade ripped the wall into shreds, opening up a doorway for the party, and killing or injuring pretty much everyone on the other side. Loyal, innocent, non heretical citizens(probably). The priest burst through and the party attempted some basic damage mitigation by foisting a story upon the injured belleagured and confused denizens of section BLASTZONE. The adepts of the inquisition burst through the scene like blood through a bullet hole towards the sector level elevator, hoping to return to their ship before anything else goes wrong.

But it did. Go wrong that is. Of course it did. Damn tech priest.

On the other side of the elevator crowd, 4 goons with a strange tattoo’d symbol on their faces opened up into the crowd. Fortunately for the group, the panicking dying crowd providing some form of cover as the thugs approached. This cover allowed Rezrel to pick one off at 45meters away with a headshot, downing him in the first seconds of combat. Unfortunately the rest of it did not go so well. The adept fled like the coward he pretty much almost definitely is, Maza, Zak and Rez however held their ground amidst the fleeing crowd and managed to take another out…but not without casualties. Many civilians were struck by the lasgun toting zombielike deathsquad and Zak herself took a couple painful impacts in the fray…but not without vengence. As one good got close she eviscerated it with her ironclaw. After all, intestines look better coming out of your back, right? Right.

The combat was quick, deadly. Brutal. Zak lays injured, but to which extent noone knows, 3 of the thugs lay dead and another probably mortally wounded. The group stand amidst the dead, unsure of whether to press on, seek aid or to go to ground.

Their first combat lay behind them, now.

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Episode 5
And they say the heart of a star has no soul.

The combat ceased, suddenly. Where there was fire, fury and chaos there was only silence, silence and racing hearts. Rezrel barked orders immediately, his strained voice echoing across an area unused to the voidness of post panic hysteria. The priest and he checked the bodies for information, resources, weaponry whilst the adept helped and assisted Zak to her feet. Injured, but not mortally so, for now.

Normal service was resumed. The level elevator arrived with people decanting, bodies fearful but not panicing like the crowd before as they looked upon the site. The party hurried to the lift and attempted to mingle, concealing weapons, adjusting clothing. Unfortunately the tech priest had taken with him 4 lasguns…Oh well.

After some debate on the journey back to the core, of Carnodont’s foot and the spaceport the group decided to attempt to secure the cargo and then attend to Zak’s injuries. Whilst they were unable to properly get the book to safety they were able to get their launch window active and their ship prepped to go. They had 87 minutes. not the tightest of windows but not one with room for error so they hastened at once to the medical facilities of the weapons market. After all, accidents do happen. Some brief discretionary funds later Zak was patched up, not healed but well enough to walk mostly on her own and the team returned to their ship. Nervous, Anxious. The fear of ambush surrounding them. They approached the launchmasters office and whilst nothing seemed off, senses were heightened.

They received their directions. Their path was set. Their way clear…and it led into a supernova.

Upon arriving at the dock where their ship will arrive, faces and bodies melted out of the shadows around them. Heavily armed and armoured men, weapons pointed at them, their intentions inclined towards the man standing before them. The bird masked man.

He wanted the book, and did not want our corpses. He offered a deal. Three objects of heretical value for the book they possessed. A good deal. Despite the clear imbalance of power the man seemed intent on negotiating on equal terms. He could of killed the party with a flicker of thought, a gesture for his men to fire but he did not. Rezrel conducted business but ultimately decided that the man’s word would be tested, for he would not deal. Of course, this was after he received a somewhat overt confession of possesion of heretical items from the man.

It was suggested that some property of the book itself is what kept the man from taking it, rather than any much more palatable reasons for the group itself, however the man left. Leaving us to debark from the hive, mission successful.

The adept was not pleased. Severus intoned clearly his displeasure at the mission, his feelings towards the psyker made clear and whilst several threats may of have innocently been made, a compromise was made between the pair. Peace for survival. Unfortunately Zak was not inclined to such a deal and as they entered the sheer bulk of the Scourge of damnation she challenged the priest. His actions. His recklessness had killed innocents and she of the Arbites would not ignore this. Severus however disagreed declaring them as acceptable losses.

As was his foot.

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Rock and a Hard Place

.begin: document
.coding: ClxStd “StegNine”
.priority: diamondFour
.date: 551904.M41
.path: SR152-intComm-cellBarr907

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+ From: Castellan Xianqo
+ For: Inquisitor Hekate
+ To: cellThrysus

+ The Inquisition thanks you for your weeks of service in Hive Sibellius. Handing the matter over to the Magistratum when it became apparent that the conspirators were mere criminals as opposed to agents for the Ruinous Powers was the precisely correct action.

+ The output of the mining habitat Tithe Station Iota has reduced over the last year by an eighth. Reports from the station suggest that worker unrest is to blame. An audit team from the Departmento Munitorium is being sent there from Scintilla to investigate the matter.

+ Analysis of Iota’s logs has gleaned certain data that suggests there may be something at the root of this anomaly other than mere dissatisfaction.

+ There for you are to travel to Tithe Station Iota aboard the transport “Trudging in His Footsteps” and there undertake your own investigations. The Munitorium team do not know of your presence and should not be informed except in dire emergency.

+ The Emperor guide you.

.signed: Castellan Symon Xianqo
.auth: deltaFour-chiNine

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Thought for the day: No man died in His service that died in vain.

View
Episode 6
A place for everyone, and everyone in their place

This time, the chaff was sorted from the fruit of the good person, and the fisherman tossed it back.

The party arrived at a massive interstellar crucifix known as Tithe Station Iota, and received their assignments.

Unto the diligent Maza Blaska, the highly respected position of Techpriest, with the associated fame and fortune that shall assuredly follow. To the horrific hunchback, unskilled manual labor.

Also Pinn is a pilot cop.

The two are now at Estoc Barracks, having utterly failed to make friends with an antisocial neighbor.

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Episode 7
Maza reports: We can pack up and go home!

Imagine! All that concern and fretting, all for naught.

We were worried that something bad might be lurking in the darkness of the abandoned space station arm(it is), but it turns out our fears were unfounded(they aren’t). We requisitioned a void-pod, informing the guards that the qualified team of pilot and techpriest needed Rezrel along for a Basic Visual Inspection, which may be conducted by an untrained Mark I Eyeball, which happily Rezrel did happen to have two of in his skull(And a few more in his pocket).

Upon arriving at the Chalice arm of the station, which took almost an hour of spaceflight and during which Rezrel napped instead of actually performing the BVI, we found that the landing quay door was locked and would stay that way, there being nobody at the traffic controls. So we ventured through the Atmosfield port instead, usually reserved for asteroid intake.

The interior was freezing cold and the door was frozen shut with atmospheric moisture, but a (“)skilled(”) application of las-fire soon sorted out the problem. Thus, we gained access to the interior of the abandoned and quite well lit arm.

Nothing much interesting occurred inside. We found a pair of servitors carting more servitors, the latter inoperational. Inquiries made by Maza revealed that a group of unknown techpriests had only recently removed the cortical cybernetics from these units, for reasons equally mysterious. The group resolved to find out more, and Maza instructed the servitor to guide the group to the Biosculpting Theatre where the unidentified techpriests had last been seen.

Also, the psyker has been acting strangely lately. He threw a strange fit about some sort of pillar which nobody but he was allowed to look at(constructed from the polished smooth thigh bones of thousands of people, an active data node in which the essences of the arms inhabitants and workers had been…relocated). Well, he is Uninitiated(Sublimely suited in the realm of the horrific to save the sanity of those less able to manage), after all. Such people often act in irrational(messianic) ways.

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Episode 8
What happens in horrific cult dens of heresy and stuff stays in horrific cult dens...and stuff.

If I believed in a transcendental being with the furious wrath of a thousand suns1, I would have prayed to him as we walked down the strangely accommodating carpeted corridor. Of course I don’t believe, I know and my knowledge spread before me in two glorious beings of death, Hecuter and handcannon the third. I bet the priest thinks it’s silly that I name my guns2, what does he know about the elegance of firepower? He knows nothing of the fire3, of the righteous, of the glory of the Emperor. I have seen him, you know. I have gazed upon his throne upon my sanctioning and I knew then what must be done.

Death to the heretic, the xeno, the mutant.

So we followed, the decaying servitor led us down corridor after corridor. Shortly, another data “storage” room was discovered, a separate servitor entered and began working on the consoles embedded in the bone pillar. Fire. Fury. They protect only so far. The screams pierced my body, my mind, but not my faith, nor my companions, and with the aid of Zak and Maza we ascertained a direction forward, and comport to do so. We left the room, following the first servitor once more to Biosculpture and Recovery.

What lay before us is not a scene I readily repeat4. For my sanity though I must5. Veins. Arteries. Blood vessels. These were the design of the place, twisted and manufactured in some hideous face of machine. Lining the walls, the carpet itself dried out capillaries, remnants of souls locked away in Gamma theta whatever the heretical fuck. Fire. Fury. A man. A thing. A victim lay upon a bed, an altar. Zak saw red. She moved. Mercy in her violence. His suffering ended instantly, I drew my blade and lay a mantra of respect upon his body as we triggered an alert. The report of the gun, perhaps? The mans death. Knowledge struck us then, Maza6 and I. We slipped backwards from sanity, sliding. Fear gripped us and whilst I know this cowardice shames us, to hide from it is to be ashamed. Zak…Zak was the best of us then. A techpriest7 in crimson robes and a face full of metal and heretical ideas stormed across us, demanding explanation, demanding to know what had become of his most promising subject, why had it become. In my fear I shot. I missed, mostly. A graze, Zak ended him. The best of us.

Time stretched then, in that room. Seconds passed slowly and in the haze of battle we pressed on. Answers lay here, lay behind us. Exploration, observation, spywork and inquisition. Fire and fury pressed on.

Down the way the priest had come we came to a much larger room, a hub of some sort. Inside many servitors worked on machines around the circular room. In the middle a projection of an immense warmachine, a titan8 of old lay, seemingly in a state of repair . Perhaps a progress report of kind and at the other end, 3 more of the priests. A quick setup of tactics and I slid in quiet and seamless into position, ready for ambush. Unfortunately as Zak and Maza moved they9 tripped something cutting off the projection. Two of the priests moved in to investigate whilst the third went to work on some unseen machine. Zak and Maza took cover, both their bodies and their senses shielded.

Heretics know much of the way of fear. They work it, they mould it, shape it to their dark design and their perversion of purpose. They know it…but they do not know of me. I strode then before them, I ripped from them bravery, courage. I left them knowing only me and the fury of the emperor behind me to see. One stumbled but steadied, stalwart in fear. The other I took time. Time enough for Maza.

Our priest is a humble man. Not a soldier. Not a warrior. Not a champion of the emperors light against the darkness10. He is but a man, but he is just. He is pure and he rose to meet them, the most vile and cursed techpriests11 I have ever laid eyes on…and he cleansed his will upon them, the d’kalu12 hellgun roaring between him and the unstunned man. There was fire, light, then darkness for a time…then a stench. As my eyes adjusted where stood two men stood one quivering child and death. Maza struck and the Omnissiah blessed him for he struck well.

I write this now in the heat of battle. Zak fires, the last man standing is hit, injured. Time for me stands still. We must continue, we must fight. We must kill and cleanse in his name.

But a nagging thought remains…why?13

annotations follow…

1 Frequently this entity is referred to as “the Emperor of Mankind”.

2 Merely presumptuous. What does the psyker know of the nature of the machine spirit? To suggest that a gun might not have a name is heretical, to name one yourself only arrogant.

3 The cleansing properties of fire may be exaggerated in popular mythology. Purification comes from exposure to a high-energy state, for it reflects the glorious power of the Omnissiah’s spiritual reactor, but fire itself is energetically inefficient for such a purposes, although, when the target of purification is of weak and treasonous flesh, fire may suffice.

4 Yet I sense he is about to.

5 Please note: I called it.

6 Please note: All actions, deeds and works wrought by beings here euphemistically termed “techpriests” by the well-meaning yet ill-informed author of this text are considered ANTI-CONFORMITATUS EXTREMIS according to sections #0-#86614 of the Abbreviated Codex of Standard Practices (External Distribution Ed.) of the Adeptus Mechanicum. The Adeptus Mechanicum does not sanction unauthorized modification of Standard Technological Practice. The methods in which the human body may be reused for industrial and computational purposes have been established for several deca-millenia, and to alter them is forbidden unto all.

7 CALL IT NOT BY THAT HALLOWED NAME. ABSOLUTE RENUNCIATION. CAST OUT INTO THE DARK. FOUL TWISTERS OF TECHNOLOGY AGAINST THE MEN AND WOMEN IT WAS CREATED TO SERVE.

8 It remains to be seen if the construct depicted is worthy of that illustrious name. One must take the very greatest of care when naming a device, for name implies purpose, and the purpose of the holy Titan is the Omnissiah’s work.

9 I am blameless.

10 Please note, a mis-characterization. The Omnissiah, praise His Body Of Works, is the very Light Most Precious and most worthy of protecting. What deed is there that could be more righteous than to preach the correct and safe use of the Omnissiah’s Bounty?

11 UNBROTHERS. UNPRIESTS. ADEPTUS ANTI-MECHANICUM!

12 The D’laku Hellgun is an abbreviation for the “D’laku Crusade pattern Hellgun” which was popularized through its use by several elite units in that conflict.

13 Because they turn foul what should be fairest.

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