All those other games Pt 2

Rogue Trader: “The Darkfall Vale

It started long before it really started. The Line of Saro and the O’Verlan clan had always been at odds, but it was when the Line of Saro discovered the secret that it all erupted into violence. The O’Verlan clan had been infiltrated by Genestealers, but finding the information out and using it to wreck the clan are two different things. Talis Saro heir to the line was forced to flee the destruction of his home-world as the O’Verlan’s forces attacked and destroyed it. Taking the evidence of their genetic befoulment (a pure strain Ggenestealer in a stasis bubble), and everything of worth he could load into the Seleucaemi Treasurer, he fled to the other side of the galaxy ending up in the Angaman sector, carrying pilgrims from one part of the sector to a newly reclaimed world. It was a job to get money, but it went HORRIBLY wrong.

About halfway through the trip suddenly their Primaris Navigator began to scream about their being two of something, and the whole ship heeled over into raging tempest they were passing. The anomaly, like a whirlpool in the warp called the Tempest of Graves, was dangerous but they had chosen the route as it was a short cut to the colonists destination. Worse still however was the fact that as the ship entered the tempest the Geller fields groaned and flickered.

All across the ship people were changed into things, and demons rampaged on board, but due to the influence of Talis Saro, his Arch Militant Ichigo, the missionary Macharius Quintus, the Techseer Luna, the Astropath Omar and finally the Secundus (and now Primaris) Navigator Loka the demons were beaten back, the settlers saved, and the ship brought back under control. Father Drake the leader of the Settlers also proved himself fairly capable in the fight with the demons.

They found they had passed through the tempest into a new part of the warp and so moved back out of Warp-space to the Real Universe. Reappearing in a debris field was less than satisfactory, as was slamming the end of their ship directly into another ship. Having slammed into the Fall of Dorn and locking together they soon found out that the other vessel was full of tribes left over from the previous crew. The also realised that within a month the two vessels would impact into another nearby agglomeration of ships, forming a space hulk and hurling them unprotected into the warp. Talis and his officers began to try and form alliances amongst the leaders of the largest factions The Megiddo Armourers, the Fuellers, the Greenshots, The Tick-Tock men and finally the Hull rats. Originally they planned to kill the leader of the Hullrats Von Hells to get the Greenshots leader Captain Jalasas on side, but having fought side by side with the Hullrats against a demonic foe they came to like Von Hells and eventually made him their Provost (now known as Iron Hand Von Hells in honour of the arm he lost fighting demons).

They, with the aid of the Sensanarion leader of the faction in charge of the Fall of Dorn’s sensors, did manage to find another intact ship just outside the wreckage field (which they were now calling the Graveswarm) seemingly parked, and when they finally got over to it the ship found to every single door and airlock open. The Murder-Servitors on the other hand were not and dead in the centre of the ship they found one room their control room still sealed with an ancient plasma generator keeping them on. Taking the new ship (the Corvax Ascendant) they shipped over their remaining crew and the crew of the Fall of Dorn, but took the precaution of checking them for demonic influences. They were less than impressed to find that there were twelve of the crew carrying demons, but these possessed crew were happy to hand themselves over and remain in the brig. Their “guests” were quick to point out that they actually did not intend to harm Talis or his people and in fact wanted to help him achieving his aims. No not ominous at all.

Having made the Corvax Ascendant liveable they decided to scan for inhabited worlds nearby, the scans were performed by Bosphorus however not the Sensanarion who was quite literally “on Ice” having tried to force Talis Saro to treat him as a special case in his command structure. Bosphorus put him into suspended animation where he actually remains to this day. They found three, one giving out Orkish signals suggesting that an Ork ship had crashed on a human planet, one giving out 20th century levels of emissions, and the final one giving out three transmissions. The transmissions drew the crew as the first was an intermittent encrypted signal, one was a Mechanicus signal asking for aid or a pick up and the other said “I am the Machine God Eumencius, Land Here and Die”.

So they headed there and found an exceedingly damage ship in orbit above the planet, one of its plasma engines seemed to have detonated melting 40% of the ship. When they investigated further, they found that the ship was a Mechanicus vessel but seemingly had been attacked by scrap servitors who had overloaded the engines.

They turned their eyes to the planet below and found a few things. The planet had once been a technological world, but it seemed that at some point in the past it had been overtaken by a nuclear war. Most of the cities were radioactive craters, but the message referring to Eumencius was coming from one of the more intact cities. The other two messages were actually coming from a Mechanicus lander that was about 100km from the city, and it turned out that the lander was seemingly being dragged away from the city by a tribe of humans with a stone age level of technology. The message from Eumencius changed to invite them to land in the square in front of the tower in his city. However when their Lightning fighters flew over the square they were very nearly shot down by anti-aircraft guns.

They formulated a plan and contacted the stone age tribes, finding out that the Mechanicus had visited long ago but while originally they were friendly suddenly they turned violent and started to capture members of the tribe and turning them into the metal demons (i.e. the scrap servitors). Through various machinations Talis Saro was able to weld together a force of the warriors of the tribes, and through a series of covert actions managed to blind Eumencius’ sensor net in certain areas. Even better they managed to find squadron of buggies in the cargo they had transferred from the Seleucaemi Treasurer, and combined with an MIU they had stolen from Eumencius’ troops launched an attack into the heart of his city.

As Talis, his officers and Armsmen assaulted from one direction, the combined tribes army attacked from the other direction. The attack was intended to lure out a large number of his Scrap servitors which would then be destroyed in an orbital strike from the Corvax Ascendants Lance batteries. However this bombardment went horribly wrong, wreaking a terrible toll on the forward elements of the Tribal army. However the buggies very swiftly penetrated the city and proceeded directly to the main square where they set about taking the AA guns apart. Both Ichigo and Macharius took a horrible toll on the Scrap Servitors, but this drew the eye of Eumencius who set out to destroy them. Re-tasking two of his Lascannon servitors he hit both of them, Ichigo was shot through the chest, and eventually died of his wounds, Macharius however was saved when the blast hit his cog-wheel amulet. He picked himself up and found himself unwounded. With the AA guns destroyed the Corvax was able to land Armsmen using the bulk lifters.

Talis and the Officers plunged into Eumencius’ bunker fighting their way through Scrap Servitors and traps. As they passed through however they realised that the bunker was incredibly old. Luna located a weapon from Ancient Terra, a gun that massively increased the gravitational field in an area, while Loka found something far more interesting, a small chunk of a power armour plastron white with gold edging. The Relic gave him a strange sense of peace when he viewed it through his Warp Eye so he decided to keep it with him.

When finally they burst into the inner sanctum they found Eumencius was some huge technological monstrosity that had used to be a Techpriest before he began grafting parts of other Techpriests to himself. They found he was examining some strange crystalline doorway that disobeyed some fairly fundamental rules of physics. Eumencius was obsessed with working out what the “door” was and how it worked, and Omar felt the thing singing to him, and indeed felt other doorways on other worlds above them.

Eumencius didn’t relinquish it without a fight however, but against Saro and his officers he never really stood a chance. The door was secured and transported to the Corvax, and the remains of the tribal armies were also transported up to replace the lost crew. Even better they seized the Mechanicus Lander which was revealed to contain an intact STC wafer containing the design of some form of scout motorcycle.

Bosphorus by now had located what he believed was a system of five inhabited systems all fairly close together. Tempted by the promise of higher tech and real trade Talis Saro could not resist. They set off but before they reached the area known as the Sycelids a huge warp storm blew up and the ship was buffeted in the strange currents of the warp. Which is when Saro had his first meeting with the “guests”, who offered to deal with the warp-storm in return for first refusal on who they gave the Door to. Saro agreed and almost instantly the storm abated.

Bosphorus was able to give them some information on each of the five planets. Parcellis had been a high tech world but had been bombed in its past. Bodom’s Loss was definitely some form of Death World, and Omar was able to say without a shadow of a doubt that there was one of the Warp-doors on the planet somewhere. Omdurran seemed to be a high tech world and had several orbital platforms above it. Gravin meanwhile was most likely a Forge World, but at the same time there were signs of a fairly lively war going on. The final planet Kellak seemed the best option, and it was to here that the Corvax headed.

The crew soon realised that they had walked into a difficult situation. The Sycelids were controlled by a trade guild called the Domvarr Hilesh. They controlled all trade between the five planets, to the point that they were the only people allowed to transship goods between the planets. They were not unwilling to make their ascendancy obvious either, in the initial meeting between the officers and the ruling class of Kellak known as the Masked, the Domvarr Hilesh representative spent much of the time posturing. Up in orbit their ship spent a lot of time scanning the Corvax Ascendant despite the fact that this was a step away from declaring all out war.

To make matters worse dealing with the Masked was not exactly straight forward. The Masked seemed to be trying to express their interest in trade while at the same time trying to express their disgust at having to deal with a foreigner. There was a great deal of brinkmanship as they attempted to not be the first to approach the outsider. Talis Saro, with the psychic aid of his Astropath was able to give a good show of himself however, especially when the last but one representative slapped him in the face and told him to get off his masters planet. He was not expecting to be punched in the face but the Astropath was able to tell that this action actually earned him a great deal of respect.

Even better directly afterwards a man calling himself Quinn Ramirez approached them and suggested that they might want to work with him as he knew about trade in the Sycelids and particularly how the Domvarr Hilesh operated. Sensing the possibility of profit once more they agreed to meet him in his personal tower in the capital city of Kellak. They parked the ship in orbit above the city, albeit with a nervous eye towards the defence laser on the outskirts. When they visited him they found his tower was practically a fortress with several units of armed guards around. He told them that he was willing to act as their agent in the region in return for 5% of the profits they made. It was quite a hard deal but as he was quick to point out they were somewhat out of their depth here.

The Domvarr Hilesh had taken the Sycelids from a line of Rogue Traders called the Line of Monmouth way back in the past. His story went that they had originally been in a more lucrative area but had been pushed out by other Rogue Traders and had travelled here. They at first traded but slowly started to take over, trading between the planets on known routes that did not require a navigator. Eventually however they turned on the house of Monmouth destroying their ships and bombing their capital planet Parcellis, leaving it a ruined wasteland with the exception of one valley which was kept under their control and used to grow exotic foodstuffs. The Domvarr Hilesh had left the Line of Monmouth’s ruined space station in orbit with one of their warships permanently on station.

They however made their home on Omdurran, and used their nine trade vessels and six warships to keep the rest of the Sycelids to themselves. While nominally they were not the rulers of any of the planets in truth they were the most powerful force in the region. Even the forge-world of Gravin was forced to deal with them if it wanted to transship goods, and the DVH were very careful to show no favouritism to either of the two factions who were currently engaged in a civil war. Even the Masked of Kellak had to deal with them although Quinn was at pains to point out that this was not to their liking.

A plan formed in the Officers minds, and soon was put into action. The Domvarr Hilesh needed to be removed if Talis Saro was ever to make a profit in the region. To do so they would need an army and they set about procuring a basic force and a base on Kellak with the intention of choosing a side in Gravin’s civil war, drawing them into Talis Saro’s force. Finally they would begin taking on the DVH ships one at a time.

They purchased an army from one of the Masked, and an island onto which they deposited Father Drake and his settlers and their proto-army. However it became obvious that they were not alone on the island, as any patrols they sent towards the central mountain range did not come back. The Officers decided to investigate and they only just survived being ambushed by Eldar. However when the Eldar realised they were not dealing with the forces of the masked they were much more willing to deal. Their leader Jui (plus a lot of other letters that they couldn’t pronounce) was willing to offer the services of himself plus five of his Rangers if they could guarantee that the rest of his forces in the central mountains would not be harmed or harassed. The other option was that the Eldar would do their best to wipe out Talis Saro and his troops. Knowing that going up against the DVH with Eldar Snipers would be a good plan, and not wanting to get horribly killed, they accepted.

Their army began to grow by leaps and bounds under the command of their General Carver a man with a past… who steadfastly refused to talk about it. They managed to procure a trio of Leman Russ Tanks, but only two arrived with their guns, the third being refitted with some form of dual howitzer. Named Ichigo by the army after Saro’s deceased Arch-militant the weapons may have been low tech but they were also effective. Leaving the proto-army on the Isle of Idrisk to train up an elite core that they would then add extra green troops to.

The officers had determined that the next step was to hit the DVH, harassing their trade vessels. Handily they knew where some of their Trading vessels would be heading towards as the Death World Bodom’s Loss had sent an Astropathic signal reporting that the harvest was starting.

While the DVH had to travel the stable warp routes which where slow but safe, the Corvax Ascendant had a navigator so could take a straight and faster route. Although the Navigator reported some strange effects from the chunk of white ceramite he was carrying, they arrived well ahead of the merchant ship and hid themselves in a nearby asteroid belt. They were surprised however when two merchant vessels arrived and began moving into the system, but they were obviously merchants and The Corvax Ascendant was a raiding vessel designed to prey on such. The battle began and although one of the ships had to be battered into submission, leaving it a broken burning wreck, the other ship surrendered. Ever the humanitarian Talis Saro ordered the survivors of the other vessel be picked up however it soon became obvious that the project would take too long. To obfuscate the evidence of the attack the remains of the damage ship was rammed into the meteor swarm.

The merchant ship remaining was moved to another system to which there was no stable warp route, one of three the navigator had surveyed. However the journey went terribly wrong due to the difficulty of a fleet jump. Many people saw visions and the one week trip stretched out and out and out. Eventually they reached a system but not the system they were actually heading for, and left the ship in orbit, effectively stranded, but with a promise that they would let someone know where the ship was in case their fight against the DVH were not to go well for Talis Saro’s forces.
Having left them there the next part of the plan was put into operation, they once again returned to the Sycelids and sought to attack the single Warship in orbit above Parcellis, which would both be a heavy blow to the DVH and also a symbolic one. This time however it would be a straight up fight, there was no real way that they could ambush a stationary vessel. Instead they warped into the system and then proceeded directly towards the ship who attempted to hail them several times, but remembering the way the Captain of the ship they had been forced to destroy had treated him Talis Saro was unwilling to talk to them.

Battle was joined, although it was fairly obvious from the start that the enemy ship did not stand a chance, its macro-batteries were able to strip the shields from the Corvax but it struggled to actually put any damage on them. Meanwhile the Corvax had to do a great deal of manoeuvring to manage to bring both its dorsal macro-batteries and the prow lance to bear. During these manoeuvres they came rather close to the remains of the Line of Monmouth’s space station and were set upon by hidden macro-batteries. It was not difficult to take them out but the distraction allowed the warship to turn on them and actually do some damage, although nothing too serious.

The enemy captain was still attempting to hail them but despite Omar’s insistence that it was worth talking to him Talis Saro was resolute, turning to face the enemy ship and then firing all weapons, aiming to open the crew quarters to hard vacuum. The Lance easily opened the hull of the other ship, spilling crewmen out into space unprotected. They fired again lighting the ship afire. Finally Omar demanded that they accept the other captains communication. As it turned out the man was not intending to launch a tirade instead he was attempting to set the rules of war, and specifically set out what would happen if a surrender was offered. Having heard Talis Saro’s terms, he fired one more volley and then with his ship nearly reduced to scrap surrendered. They then received a communiqué from the planet two in fact, one from the DVH fortress on the planet demanding to know what was happening and the other claiming to be the Parcellis resistance and asking them to land their troops to aid their struggle. With no army however Talis Saro was unable to take on the heavily armed fortress that also held the only food production on the planet other than the exotic foodstuffs. He told them he would return then set off to the captured vessel.

Which is when the Officers found out the ship had been parked here as it was the training vessel of the DVH. None of the crewmen they had killed had been over 25 years old. Once again they Fleet Jumped the captured vessel to one of the three warp route-less planets again leaving them stranded there. This done the Officers decided to return to Kellak to continue raising his army to return to Parcellis. However he was very aware that by now the DVH would know their Merchant ships had been attacked even if they didn’t know their warship had been destroyed. So rather than appear right at Kellak their Navigator landed them somewhat short, allowing them to move more stealthily into the system.

They were surprised to find that the DVH ship which had so far remained in orbit over the planet was no longer present, even more worryingly the moment the Masked became aware of their presence they sent a message which was worryingly devoid of their normal bluster and consisted solely of “We did not do it, and had nothing to do with it”.
The Corvax orbited the planet at speed and were shocked to find the Isle of Idrisk on fire. The mansion was destroyed, the Colonists village had been burned to the ground with the colonists and Father Drake trapped in their church. Their army meanwhile had somewhat survived spreading itself out over the island before the attack came. There were a few tense minutes as they tried to reach General Carver and Jui spoke to the remaining Eldar. Luckily the General had survived and together with Jui’s people they told the story of an attack by the DVH who had assumed that Talis Saro was to blame for their losses, and during his 3 month absence had moved to punish him even with no evidence. Given the crew had been away only for one month, they realised that the warp had played a cruel trick on them. The Eldar had however destroyed their attack ships before they could complete their napalm attack.

Worse still they could not raise Quinn Ramirez on the communicator, and so set off back to the main city in their landers with some of General Carver’s killers, while the rest of the army was loaded onto the Corvax as fast as possible. They could not take the ship itself as the Masked had banned them after an incident where Talis Saro had made his point by firing his lance battery at the planet. If the Covax Ascendant passed over the city the Defence Laser would fire upon them. Instead they attempted to land in the heavy lifter, but were nearly shot down by AA guns. Making a hard landing at the Space-port they could already hear the sound of heavy weapons being used in the area surrounding Quinn Ramirez’ tower. The officers set off immediately with the Killers to relieve him.

Finding the tower under siege by tanks, heavy weapons and troops they waded into them finally managing to drive them off and relieve the battered garrison. The DVH had tried to assassinate Ramirez at the same time as they attacked the Island. When asked why he revealed that he was the last of the line of Monmouth who the DVH had kept him around to allow them to claim the legitimacy of his families letter of Marque. However now they had moved against him directly he realised that they would not stop until he was dead. Saro agreed and they decided to evacuate him, but first they would need to destroy the AA guns which Luna had now located.

The DVH troops defending them were powerful, but against the Officers they stood no chance. Omar blinded their Sentries while Talis and Macharius put them to the sword. Luna used Ichigo’s storm-bolter to great effect, wrecking their AA gun and ravaging their troops. They rejoined Quinn Ramirez and attempted to leave the planet, however as they left they heard some DVH vox traffic that seemed to be talking to an enemy squad known as “ghosts”. They were busy trying to work out what this meant when the answer presented itself in the form of a sniper attack. They managed to escape the ambush and returned to their ship.

There they discussed their options. Quinn Ramirez explained his standing in the Sycelids as the most direct heir of the Line of Monmouth. It was obvious that the DVH had not only infiltrated his information network, which had been comprehensively destroyed the moment they attacked him, but also they had obviously decided that Talis Saro was responsible for their recent woes. Quinn was not willing to leave the people of Parcellis to their fates however, especially as he knew that the DVH controlled the food supply. Saro agreed, and they speeded up their transshipment of the troops. However they were not able to finish before Loka felt a huge bow wave approaching through the warp. Fearing an approaching enemy fleet, the left a large amount of the army behind and headed to Parcellis.
On the way there the Demons in the brig (or as it turned out Demon singular as it had devoured the others for power) asked for a meeting. When Talis Saro visited the Demon was swift to ask him what his plan was with regards to Parcellis, what was he intending to do with the remnants of the population. If he liberated them now they would stay liberated until the DVH returned and most likely massacred them. Talis returned to his officers and discussed the plan. Quinn was able to tell them that the population was no more than probably 10000 with maybe 500 well armed DVH troops stationed in the fortress at the head of the valley.

They decided to try and carry the population with them in their vessel, although this would stretch the limit of the Corvax Ascendants life support system, so these people would be left on one of the Warp Route less planets, while the ship went on to a space station known as Sliceflesh station. Sliceflesh was originally a Mechanicus outpost, but the Kroot had taken it and made it a base for Mercenaries.

First however they had to free Parcellis, and they were glad to find that when they arrived there was no defence ship, although the Fortress now boasted a void shield. They spoke to the rebellion, landing in the outermost village, finding that in the weeks since their initial contact it had not gone well for the rebels, several villages had been destroyed by the DVH, and the populace was being forced to subsist on Yorran weed, a somewhat poisonous plant that could only support life for so long before killing those who ate it. The officers came up with a plan, they would land the army in the outskirts, while taking one unit to an area currently under attack hopefully liberating it and meeting up with the rebels there. Using the Army as a distraction they would then infiltrate the Fortress and disable the Void Shield exposing it to fire from the Corvax and hopefully forcing its surrender.

With the Fortresses artillery taken out they would then be able to take the populace onto the ship unmolested. With this in mind they planned their attack. It turned out that One of Talis Saro’s antecedents had hidden 3 hydra battery guns in the hold of the Treasurer and they had been moved over to the Corvax. These along with the vanguard of the army would drop onto the village right on the outskirts of the valley which they had already contacted. They knew that the DVH would respond with bombers, as they had to the few villages who had eaten the Exotic foodstuffs to survive the enforced starvation. While this was acting as a distraction Talis Saro the Officers, with a force made partially of Armsmen, and partially of Von Hells and his “provosts” all of which were dosed with combat drugs and carrying their original Hull Rat weapons. As they expected Tanks they also borrowed Quinn Ramirez’ Heavy plasma team.
As Carver began dropping his troops in and worked on taking out the DVH Air support, the officers landed on the last rebel strong point which was under attack by DVH ground units at that very time.

The battle was short, and although the troops under Talis Saro took some casualties they drove off or killed most of the enemy and saved the Village. Von Hells led at least one shattering charge into a DVH Murder squad, many of his men fell to their flamers but soon afterwards they were surrounded by Chem-crazed Hull Rats and none of them survived. The Officers survived unwounded, with Omar managing to take control of a rebel unit by telling them that they had been sent by “The Ramirez”. The enemy tanks were wrecked by the Heavy Plasma Cannons, with only one managing to retreat from the battle.

The initial stages of the plan achieved the Army moved up to a defensive line along a river, hoping to trap the DVH army into mirroring them and stop them retreating back to the Fortress. Unfortunately it didn’t work with the DVH troops retreating at speed back to the fortress. Fearing what would happen if he allowed them to reach the fortress before he launched his assault Talis Saro took his officers and a few other troops such as Jui and the Eldar Rangers, some of the Parcellis Rebellion and Quinn Ramirez and launched his infiltration of the Stronghold…

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