Only War Episode 4

Tea of the Session: I. Forgot. To. Make. Tea. The pain. The agony. I drank Dr Pepper. It wasn’t the same.

 Recording: Recorded but I struggled to hear the players, let alone the recorder catching it all.

This time I had the map with me, first however there was the little issue of the Prisoner Jellin had tranquillised at the end of the fight last episode. Considering their options they bound his wrists to his ankles and dragged him, still unconscious to the Cathedral of the Emperor, and began to work him over.  It took them a short while before they checked with the medic and found out that beating him wasn’t going to work as a method to wake him up as the drugs were pretty powerful. Also they were running a considerable risk of killing their best source of information.

They started again this time having pumped the guy with a dose of stimm; he began to harangue them about their pride in the corpse-emperor. This didn’t last too long before the heavy gunner Vyn smacked him in the face, dazing and confusing the chaos cultist. Then the Commissar began to question him, but as it turned out had an even shorter temper when it came to the ranting’s of Heretics.

Players have an endless ability to surprise me, from coming up with amazing plans, to… well this.

They decided to chop off his… um… manly credentials.

On the graduated scale of “enhanced interrogations” you tend not to go straight from beating to mutilation because what happened next tends to happen. The cultist immediately began to expire from massive blood loss. Luckily, Jellin turned out to be a top notch medic, and quickly leapt on the man sealing off the ruined veins and stopping him from dropping dead immediately. He did tell them that any further damage to their captive would result in immediate death.

They went on with questioning and found out to their horror that the Hunter of Bayle was a little surprised at the weakness of the army that had been arrayed against him, as there was no way that they could hope to stand against their foes. He believed it was part of a pattern which he was intending to do a ritual to discern. More worryingly however, the Hunter himself had dispatched this squad to test the resolve of this particular squad.

This was not good news, but relatively certain that they had gotten all they were going to get out of the man; they took him behind a building to execute him. Hefting his Chain sword the Commissar asked for his last words. He managed to get “The Hunter Will…” out before Vyn slapped him again killing him instantly due to the massive previous damage.

That done they returned to their duty stations, and spent an entire 20 seconds before the Techpriest Liana suddenly realised the rising whine he could hear was actually incoming mortar fire. He grabbed the Comm unit and dived for cover, as the other scattered and Vyn moved slightly further into his Pump house Heavy Machine Gun post. The Sentinel was not so lucky, and was struck in the back as the operator tried to get it under cover, causing it to explode and catch fire. The operator stood no chance from the direct hit (not least of all because the player had dropped out of the game!) but the players reacted quickly to try and put out the front of the sentinel so they could salvage the Multilaser. After a few minutes they managed to put the sentinel out, and the Techpriest took the Multilaser off to tend to its machine spirit.

The Commissar and Byarl the Meltagunner were joined by Argatha the “storm trooper” (i.e. the guy who got lumbered with the squad combat shotgun) as they reviewed the damage the Mortar fire had caused. For the most part the damage was negligible, but one of the shells had hit the cracks caused by the impact of the Warhound titans passing, widening it, and providing another entry way into the tunnels which were currently their fall-back position.

The Commissar set Byarl, Argatha and Jellin the Medic to go and check the tunnels to ensure the infiltrators hadn’t made their way inside, and that no other openings in the meantime. At the same time he took some of the Promethium and he and the others stripped their own dead of equipment before moving them into the Cathedrals crypt, and then doused the enemy dead having piled them in the Tithery and set them alight. Thick black choking smoke started billowing out of the ruined front of the building, obscuring the view from Vyn’s machine gun post that had, while the Techpriest was busy, also sprouted a Multilaser. If the enemy attacked now, the heavy bolter would be useless.

Down in the tunnels the group checking them found that only the one hole had been blasted open and there were no hidden chaos cultists down there. However by the wall underneath the Sacristy of the Paupers now had a hole in it, revealing another room underneath the Sacristy that they knew nothing about. Having quickly asked for permission they proceeded to breach the room using Krak grenades. The floor of the room beyond was covered in a thick layer of dust that almost came up to their ankles. Above them was the floor of the sacristy, obviously added afterwards as the stairs in this room lead directly up to a solid roof.

Inside they found four sarcophagi, one of obsidian with an obsidian statue of an Inquisitor (with a line of red Porphyry across his neck), and three Porphyry sarcophagi in a more plain style. The Obsidian one had a name plate of Inquisitor Daran, while the others were and Adept Taranus, Sister Emaselene, and a Varr Drekk. Realising this might be important they reported back, and suddenly everyone started trying to find a reason to go down there. Being well positioned the first to take a look was Vyn who actually opened the Adepts sarcophagus and saw that he had a huge hand cannon loaded with unpleasant looking fragmentation rounds. He considered for a moment but left it in place. The Adept seemed to have taken a horrible strike which cleaved through his helm, head and deep into his torso. Before he could search any further he and the others were recalled as the Commissar was coming for a look.

Alone in the tomb he realised that the statue of the Inquisitor was wearing a familiar looking ring. Opening the sarcophagus he found a headless corpse in power armour with a power fist and a bolt pistol, and missing a very familiar finger. He considered it for a moment but realised he had no idea what he was going to do so opened the other sarcophagi, luckily for Vyn not realising that the hand cannon had been disturbed. The Sister of battle was wearing fine Power armour and a jetpack that had a perfectly square hole straight through her, directly over where her heart had been. In her holsters still lay two bolt pistols. Finally the last sarcophagus contained a man with an odd suit of armour seemingly made of some form of alien material, a power armour helmet with a slice clean through the eyes, a bolt pistol, and to the Commissars joy a power sword.

There was absolutely a moral dilemma… for all of about 12 seconds after he confirmed it was indeed a power sword and still worked. He left his chain sword in its place and returned to the Line. The Techpriest then went down there, on the pretence of checking for structural issues. He noticed almost immediately that all the equipment was operational, but while everything was 1000 years old at least there was an incongruous Chain sword that couldn’t be more than 200 year old. He reported this to the Commissar immediately of course, but stopped when he was shown the Commissars new weapon, and informed that the Weapons of their forebears would strike down the enemies of the Imperium once more.

They settled back down to their watches and spent the next day in blessed ignorance of the battle their NPC squads could hear raging far off to the north. This fact caused the Commissar to call everyone to battle positions, which they held for an hour before they realised that the fight was not getting any closer. Not wanting them to suffer from fatigue he stood them back down and they went back to their watches.

The next day however both the Medic and the Techpriest were plagued by the feeling that someone was watching them. When they went inside it lessened but slowly began to increase again. Jellin had one particularly scary moment when as the sun went down it painted a red dot across his chest with a reflection from a window. They could not see anyone however despite looking very carefully. The medic mentioned it to the Commissar but the Techpriest kept it quiet not willing to risk a potential summary execution for such “feelings”.

As the day wore on the Techpriest began to scan for enemy transmissions, managing to locate some far off to the north. At first they sounded like just static, but after listening to it for a few seconds he realised there were patterns in the static and those patterns were attempting to lead him into further attention of the signal. Recognising the tell-tale signs of scrap code he cut the signal immediately.

Soon afterwards the sounds of a fresh combat to the north this time much heavier, and including the sounds of what could have been the weapons of the Warhound titans. The fighting got more and more intense, causing the troops to deploy to combat stations. The Multilaser, now mounted on a tripod was set up behind the command barricade was powered up and prepared and Vyn prepared his weapon.

This is when Byarl began to hear a skittering sound, like claws on rock. He pointed this out and everyone stepped up their scanning. Soon however the sound of claws was joined by a baying sound as if from many throats. At the far end of the square appeared two groups of strange mutated hounds, followed by four men carrying billhooks and metal whips and wearing iron masks with a snarling hound’s maw beneath it.

Seeing them the heavy weapons opened fire, the Multilaser fired at the eastern group but was wildly inaccurate having been taken from its stabilised mounting. The Techpriest leapt into action and bolted the thing down allowing it to fire more accurately. The Heavy bolter winged one of the hounds, but the burst was not well aimed and did not achieve much. Everyone else started running to positions where they could aim on the enemy, while the Handlers darted forward… Or rather the eastern group did. The Western group fell into the traps that had been set up across that entry point, setting off the frag grenades and seriously wounding themselves.

The hounds meanwhile baying for blood rushed towards the line, and the guardsmen were shocked as they covered the distance blindingly fast. Despite the shouts of the handlers, the eastern pack threw itself not at the command squad but at Squad 2, emplaced in the Primarcherie. One of the guards was knocked to the ground but the others held their own against the mutated canines. Bereft of their leadership as their handlers were stunned by the grenade explosion, the western pack headed straight towards the heavy bolter nest, easily vaulting the sandbags, and moving to surround him and his squad member Narine. Seeing this Argatha, Jellin, and the Commissar headed to the front of the pump house, with the Commissar actually reaching the door as he vaulted the barricade.

Over on the Eastern flank Byarl attempted to hose the handlers down with the newly secured Multilaser but still had not really gotten used to the weapon. Under the inaccurate but heavy fire, one of the handlers dived into the fountain to gain cover while the other, disdaining the fire shouted at the hounds mauling squad 2, trying unsuccessfully to redirect them into the command squad. The hounds ignored him as he stood in the open yelling at them.

Finding himself utterly surrounded by hounds and fairly sure that when they attacked him they would tear him apart, Vyn decided to deal with them all in one go. Yanking a frag grenade from his belt he pulled the pin and thrust it into the mouth of the first hound to leap at him. There was a boom, and Vyn and Narine were both blown back down the stairs wounded, but despite holding the grenade until it went off, Vyn’s only real damage was shrapnel wounds and his glove being blown to pieces. The Hounds fared much less well and the Commissar was forced to duck back round the corner, as a rain of shrapnel, bone fragments, and viscera exploded from the entry way.

Over behind the barricade however the Techpriest was hunched over the vox, checking for enemy signals. With horror he realised that there were signals, very close signals… The Hounds were only the First Wave!

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