Campaign of the Month: December 2013

Fate: Warhammer 40,000

Personal Log of Tiberius Numicius
Amaroks


Waylon had that thousand yard stare back in the truck. I’d seen it a thousand times on Cadia. It was the look of a man who’s seen something he can’t explain. Something from the other side. Changes a man. Sometimes physically.

Ramirez came back to the truck a few minutes later, and tossed the sack of sniveling guardsmen in the cargo hold. The truck’s suspension buckled under his weight, but held, and we drove a while in silence, following our own tracks back the way we’d come.

Finally, I broke the silence as we reached the two wrecked chimeras. Suggested that we ought to check them out. Ramirez agreed, and we even convinced Waylon to snap out of it, and come with.

Snow was starting to coat the Nyxian pudding that lay round the vehicles. The storm had broken at last. Waylon had a look at the trailer. Seemed like something had torn it open from the outside, with immense claws. I took the Colonel’s sword to the rear door, and in a few minutes we had it open.

The inside was relatively clean. Seemed like they were missing a few engineering kits, and the crew compartment was torn up. Ramirez figured something had broken one of the drive shafts, and they’d been attacked while trying to patch it up. Gave up searching, and headed on toward the relay station.

The evidence of a small battle was apparent in the Nyxian pudding around the entry gate. I shouldn’t have to keep seeing this kind of stuff. Like civilian militias everywhere, these were just a bunch of kids, maybe with a few older guys to rouse ‘em up. From the look of it, they died screaming, some of ‘em with their guts hanging out. That’s about par for the course when civilians take up arms. Odd though, unless Adys had a couple of bolters in there. Some of them looked cut, not lazed. Maybe those things with the claws made it up here too. The parameter fence seemed secure, but dozens of Borer bodies were spread in the snow. A couple of trucks were parked off to one end of the fence. Waylon insisted on checking out the trucks, but Ramirez and I opted to stay behind.

Adys and Ramirez shouted back and forth over the fence for a while, but they weren’t opening up. Needed us to come over. Ramirez and was talking about carrying me, when suddenly, three trucks came into view in the distance. More Borers! Waylon came sprinting back toward our rover, and without another thought, I hopped in the passenger seat. Say what you will about that man’s penchant for deception, but he might be the best driver I’ve ever seen. In a single smooth motion, accelerating the entire time, he pulled the car in a tight loop. Somehow, he could tell that snowdrift had something underneath it, maybe he saw a ditch that I couldn’t, but between the bouncing balloon tires, and the impromptu ramp, we were airborn! Crash landed inside the compound just before Ramirez came over the fence himself, and got inside before the trucks arrived.

While Adys and Ramirez set to talking about whatever was wrong with this damn array, I tried to organize a party for the defence of the station if these Borers wanted the same thing as the last group. It was a sorry lot – just one real guardsmen, and he barely lived up to the title. His lasgun wasn’t even loaded! The rest were civilians. One of them was waving around a loaded, unsafed lasgun. The others hand their fingers on the triggers with the safeties on. I wasn’t sure where to begin with these guys. Gave them a little speech, and led them out into the barricades. Somewhere in this, Waylon disappeared.

The Borers had pulled up in front of the gate, and disembarked into the pudding. They did not look happy. Guess they knew some of the constituents. Some old timer got on a truck’s intercom, and started shouting at us. Wanted some kind of relic or something. Didn’t make a bit of sense to me, but before I could tell him as much, Waylon appeared on the roof of the truck. The sneaky bastard had gotten around behind them somehow, and started into this crazy story about how he was sent by “Red Scar”, and how we weren’t the Borer’s enemies. Totally unbelievable. I thought he was about to get mixed into the pudding with the hammers some of the men were waving, but incredibly, the Borers bought it! I got up, and walked to the gate, as a wolf’s howl sounded in the distance. Quickly, we opened the gate up, and started to let the Borers inside.

As the howls sounded closer, I drew my sword, and started running headlong toward the rear truck. This didn’t sound good, but maybe I could delay whatever it was with a rear guard action, long enough for the trucks to get inside. As I ran out the gate, I saw Ramirez setting up the ridiculous multilasers he keeps where his liver used to be, and Adys lugging a search light up to his position. I was just passed the gate when the rear truck went up. I can see it happening even now. Two gigantic wolves, 3 or 4 meters tall, bounding across the snow. Amaroks from Vallis Augustana! I saw the eyes of the truck driver as he started shouting over the radio. One slash at the back, and the fuel exploded somehow. Fire everywhere.

The blast stunned me for a second. There was commotion all around me. I could Waylon shouting as he got out of the lead vehicle, and ran toward us with some of the Borers. Before I had time to react, the White Wolf was upon me. Bounding across the snow. It was the size of a Dreadnaught. Whether it was my reflexes or the beast’s overconfidence, born of chasing green recruits, I’ll never know. It lunged lazily, with foot long claws. I moved to the side, and lopped off its forearm in a single stroke, already beginning to circle. On the other side of the truck, I could here Waylon and the Borers moving up, and Ramirez directing the spotlight. The other wolf was after them, and there would be no help.

We circled for as two predators, eyes locked. The beast was losing blood. It had to move first, and we both knew it. A lunge again, faster, and more direct than before. Had the wolf kept its paw, that could have been the end of me, but it stumbled, fatally. I leaned outside its swipe, and then redirected the momentum into a double handed overhead chop. The wolf’s head had just slammed into the ground as I swung – the worst possible place for it to have fallen. The end was swift.

On the other side of the burning wreck, I could hear the Borers, fighting the black wolf. More precisely, I could hear their screams, and the crunch that could only be bones snapping. Lasfire lit up the sky, and I jumped headlong into the flames, pushing through toward the other side. By the time I stumbled out, it was over. Apparently the wolf had some kind of adaptive camouflage, but Ramirez had thwarted it through his quick thinking, and direction of the spotlight. Waylon had even managed to jerry rig one of the mining lasers, and burn the wolf with it!

Ramirez repaired the station’s landline, while the rest of us went through the compound looking for the Borers’ artifact. As expected, it wasn’t there. We did find a room in the basement though, and I wish we hadn’t. At first all seemed well – a tech priest’s lab, Ramirez getting along famously with the guy (Thalossian). But I swear his camera footage showed us being killed! Just for an instant, but Waylon saw it too. As we tried to walk down the corridor to investigate, it seemed to stretch, becoming longer and longer. We heard him speaking to Ramirez of “the gods”, and Waylon drew his meltagun. The priest just looked down the barrel, and spoke some ritual words before walking past. Waylon squeezed the trigger – and gained some respect in my eyes, you don’t shoot at the servants of Chaos unless you really mean it! – but to no avail. The man floated away, faster and faster, and even the valiant efforts of one of the Borer chief’s sons were for naught. Before we could move, he’d vanished up the stairs. No one else even saw him. I fear for this planet, and for what may come, whether the inquisitor roots out the evil or no.

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From the log of Waylon Quin
A taste of insanity

Date: 314.999.M41

I landed on Nyx - this fething, throne-forsaken, dump-of-a-planet - in the early hours of morning. Who’s brilliant idea was it to colonize this oven, anyway? Irrelevant, I suppose. The fact is, there are people here. Lots of people. Lots of money to be made around people. Or swindled from ‘em. There’s also usually some trouble or other on Nyx… Certain folk pay well to learn about other folks’ troubles.

In any case, I paged von Schwaben to let him know I’d arrived (figured I might as well start my stay on this over-sized ice cube the right way - in a good old-fashioned tavern), and then boarded the next spaceport train to the Nexus Station.

As I made my way through the train cars, I spotted a top hat on the seat next to a lonely snoozing passenger. Without a second thought, I pinched it from atop his briefcase where it lay and practically skipped to next empty car. Yup: so many unsuspecting people. Perhaps not as rich as the folk on Vallis Augustana, but who am I do discriminate? Coin is coin. Funny that the train should be so empty on such an overcrowded planet.

Lounging about in one of the train cars, I pulled the top hat over my eyes to shield them from the glare of the ever-present sun and settled in for the bumpy ride. At least, I like to pretend it’s a bumpy ride. Damn magnetic monorail is smoother-than-smooth. And fast. Beautifully fast. The whirring of the train was mesmerizing.

I was awoken hours later from my half-stupor in the middle of a bustling station by none other than von Schwaben. He had that over-sized can opener, Ramirez, with him. What an odd one, him. He prattled on about some broken relay or other, said we had to go fix it or someone would be upset with us. The Machine God, I think. As if I care about his tin can gods. But Ramirez would have to reprogram the relay, and as a most trusted confidant, I might be one of the few privy to the new codes. Nyx: you never let me down. There’s always something happening.

So the three of us set out to find transport to the relay. As fate would have it, the next train out of the station was to be commandeered by a sorry group of callow louts posing as soldiers. The captain, whose name I later learned was Konrad Stolz, seemed to be having an argument with a butch-of-a-lady in red power armour. Von Schwaben slinked away as we approached. Makes sense; I doubt he’d be pleased if any of the officers recognized him. Especially if their allegiance lay with Mehmed.

But I digress. Point is: we had to board the train. And a group of storm troopers and some girl scouts were in the way. Of course, that left only one course of action. I can’t help but grin as I think back to it. I marched up to the red lady, who seemed to be content to let those children march off to quell some rebellion or other single-handed, and ordered her to turn around and board the train. I must have been awfully convincing, despite being close to hysterical laughter, for she spun around and did as I said. That seemed to be enough to convince Stolz that I was someone important: he accepted my authority and filled me in on the situation as we boarded the train. Who’d have thought: if you sound commanding, people will accept that you’re in charge. In fact, I had to throw around my new-found authority to get my trusty, can-opening side-kick aboard; he was sputtering about busted communications and an angry god. Sometimes I wonder about his sanity.

As it turned out, some rebels had attacked and occupied a nearby rail station. The sorry-looking boys-for-soldiers had been ordered to take it back. Gods bless them.

I learned that the storm trooper squadron was led by Sister Aedessa Jorens (a.k.a. the red lady) of the Inquisition. Stoltz informed me that she and her ilk had been terrorizing civilian outposts for the past few weeks, seemingly at random and unopposed. I figured I’d press my luck and see if I couldn’t extract just a little more information from the red lady. All that I discovered was that her activities had thus far been unsuccessful, but alas, my charm wore off before I could learn much more. I’m not sure if she fully uncovered my truth, but she certainly gave me a tongue lashing that I’ll not soon forget. Mildly embarrassed, I left before my facade completely unraveled.

I rejoined Stolz, buried my face in some fine off-planet whiskey, and watched as von Schwaben finagled his way past the “officers” to join us. He knew better than to blow my cover and instead focused on reminiscing with the good captain; apparently they knew each from Sisigmund’s days in the military. The smell of whiskey must been enough to bring him out of hiding. Good man.

Shortly thereafter we came to an abrupt halt (most of the “troops” fell over like bowling pins; only Ramirez appeared impervious to the massive deceleration of the train). Apparently there was to be a battle ahead. Damned if I go storming into gunfire alone; instinct taking over, I hastened to the second car and “ordered” Aedessa to deploy her troops. Von Schwaben, in true drill sergeant form, began organizing the ladies off the train, planning, I suppose, to assault the station from the ground. Ramirez, the great hulking frying pan, was prying open doors that had locked shut due to the train’s emergency stop.

The troops emptied the cabin, and with barely a thought, I wrestled control of the train from the servitor. I’ll be damned if I leave the cover of this train to join Sisigmund in taking open fire on the battle field. Better idea: I’ll drive the train right past the station.

With a lurch, the train kicked into high gear and we were speeding forth once more. That is, myself and the storm troopers. If anything goes wrong, they’ll provide enough diversion for me to slip away. I glanced back; turns out Ramirez was still aboard.

An explosion brought my attention back to the tracks. Some bastard just launched a rocket at us! So much for driving by without incident. Thinking quickly, I called to Ramirez: “The magnets! Let’s take this baby off road!”

I guess he caught my meaning, as he plugged into the system and began chanting. And then like magic, we were airborne. There was, of course, no immediate sign that we had left the track. No lurch. No groan. Only my instincts as a pilot told me that we were sailing. That, and the fact that within moments we were atop the platform, watching as bodies slammed into the windshield and were either hewed by the force of impact or squished beneath the train.

As we came to a screeching halt, I took in the scene. Some big, fething monstrosity of a man - was it a man? - stood atop a balcony, brandishing a massive hammer. He directed two las cannons in our direction. That’s my queue: exit stage left. I told the troopers to stay put and stay alive, turned off the lights, and then like smoke, I disappeared. At least, that’s how I like to picture it.

The ensuing altercation was mostly uneventful - for me anyway. As I hid, Ramirez managed to quickly dispatch of one of the canons by launching his pet servitor (that is, the servitor from which I took control of the train) at a nearby platform with controls for a mining crane. (The servitor, using the crane, lifted and threw a canon and its operators from the balcony). Von Schwaben showed up shortly after, sprinting as though in a race. Right into the incoming las fire. Idiot man. But battle hardened. He immediately dropped to cover and managed to escape the gunfire unscathed. Not so lucky were the new recruits. From my vantage point, I shed a small tear as I watched them drop like flies.

More weapon fire was exchanged. I continued my navigation of the battlefield, never revealing my position, but suffering a few close calls whenever caught in crossfire. I set my sites on the crane control platform; that servitor wasn’t going to last long before being picked off. As I glanced back, I saw von Schwaben locking swords with big foot. Ramirez seemed to be brandishing a massive las canon of his own. That tin can never ceases to surprise me.

I looked back to the crane ledge and made my jump, landing softly. Still hidden, I stifled a groan as the platform came under las fire. To my left, the servitor was fried. But fortunately, I took fire only circumstantially; still hidden, I began operating the crane in the servitor’s stead. The las fire ceased; good ol’ Ramirez seemed to have unleashed his fury on the enemy. I’ll have to thank him later, maybe buy him a drink. Or an oil can.

Our numbers thinned, but the casualties were mostly the new recruits. Von Schwaben seemed to be besting big foot quite handily; Sisigmund had barely a scratch, while big foot appeared to be staggering. Time perhaps for me to reveal myself; manipulating the crane head, I swung the hook towards the battlefield. Sisigmund managed to shift his weight so that big foot sidestepped right into the massive hook as it swung down like a pendulum. It sheared his head clean off. Under different circumstances, the decapitation might have been comical, but the blood that gushed forth from the standing torso, fueled by the giant’s still beating heart, put a damper on the comedy of the scene. Moments later the body fell, finally admitting defeat.

The aftermath of the battle was as most are; lots of mourning for the loss of fellow souls. The remaining survivors were in shock, save for the troopers who seemed largely unfazed. Just another day in the office for them. We gave our condolences and issued a few standing orders, and then at Ramirez’s prodding, we slipped away to search for a vehicle that would take us the rest of the way to the broken relay.

In a garage beneath the station, we found exactly what we were looking for. I don’t know what it’s called, but I do know that it looked expensive. And exclusive. And fast. So, naturally, that’s the vehicle we took.

Out into the brewing storm we drove, testing the limits of the vehicle’s speed. It felt good to be driving. Calming after the adrenaline rush of battle. Even if I didn’t do much battling myself. Despite the incoming storm, the first hour passed uneventfully. Mostly. Sisigmund was more irritable and aggressive than normal; it soon surfaced that the fool had injected some unknown stimulants he found hidden on big foot’s body. Ah well… nothing for it but to put up with him until the drugs wear off.

As we drove, Ramirez intercepted and deciphered an SOS signal. After a short argument - should we continue on course, or go investigate? - I decided to do some off-roading. We turned and headed in the direction of the signal.

The storm continued to intensify, and we eventually came upon another vehicle. A modified, armoured Hauler-8. Von Schwaben and I went to check it out; it appeared deserted, but looked as though it had recently come upon heavy fire. The armour was rent clean through. Peeking through smashed windows, I discovered a makeshift vox, clearly constructed and used by someone in distress. Von Schwaben pointed out some silhouettes in the darkness that appeared to be human figures impaled on spikes. Without a word spared between us, we rejoined Ramirez in our transport.

The can opener desired a closer look at the vehicle himself. Before we could stop him, he leapt from the car. Neither of us wanted to chase after him, so we waited. When Ramirez return, he was trailing a flailing body in a sleeping bag. Apparently Ramirez found him in the trunk of the Hauler-8. The man was hysterical. He sputtered something about an attack and about massive wolves. Clearly gone mad from the cold. Sisigmund tried to calm him, but he was beyond consoling. I knocked him out.

The three of us decided further investigation into the cause of this destruction was warranted. We shelved the relay mission for now and instead followed some nearby Chimera tracks to a cliff. A horrific scene met us at the bottom of the cliff: the ruins of another Chimera, blood-soaked and surrounded by dozens of dead bodies. The side of the vehicle looked as though it has been sliced like a hot knife through butter and peeled back like paper. The whole scene made me uneasy; unable to continue looking, I turned off our vehicle’s lights and quickly drove back up the cliff. We resolved to continue our investigation, and with some trouble (due to an intensifying storm) managed to track the missing Chimera to a bunker in the middle of nowhere. The Chimera appeared to have pulled into a garage. We could see no lights from the bunker.

After much deliberation, we decided to continue our present course of action. Sisigmund blew a hole into the garage, and we waited for a quarter of an hour for any sign of life. Nothing. I decided to go scout it out.

Ever cautious, I peered into the blackness that emanated from the breach. Unable to see anything, I turned on my flashlight, but covered the light so as to not give away my position. In an attempt to stay hidden and fool anything that might lie in wait for me from within the garage, I threw the flashlight, spinning, into the room and dove the other way. No fire. No movement. Just a soft rattle as the flashlight came to rest. I approached the opening and, tentatively, peered inside. The light had landed to point at the far wall; as I looked, completely mesmerized, I felt some small part of me slip away. From the wall protruded two great crossbeams, and from those beams hung a great, blood-soaked skeleton. The entire garage was plastered with blood and human remains. As I peered, I felt the walls closing in. The walls seemed to creak over the howling of the wind. Was someone laughing? No… couldn’t be.

After an eternity, I broke my gaze and slinked away. I warned the others of what I saw. Von Schwaben asked if I retrieved my flashlight. Did I have a flashlight? Can’t remember. Without another word to them, I returned to our transport and got behind the wheel. I don’t know how long I waited, but eventually the others joined me. Ramirez handed me a flashlight. That might come in handy. Their arrival seemed to break my stupor, and the horrific site faded some from my mind. I turned on the engine, turned the vehicle around, and we drove off into the night. After all, we have a communications relay to fix.

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Relay to Nyx Infernus
Backstory


Initial adventure of Ramirez Illistrad.

Called to Nyx Infernus to bless construction of a new communications relay, inspiration struck on the long Warp voyage from Mars to Valis Augustena. The design for the communications satellite was a work of fevered genius, sketched out and mocked up in great detail before even setting down on the target planet; the final product included two servitors in orbit alongside it to continually chant in praise of the masterpiece into the vacuum of space. Work on the uplink was an unwelcome distraction from the interesting part, the resultant abbreviated rites raising some suspicion from the faithful that had seen many construction sermons before.
On route to Nyx Infernus itself, the pilot misinterpreted space traffic control and steered out of the planet’s umbra. The relatively light craft was not rated for full solar exposure, shorting out several sensors and overwhelming the pilot. The distraction provided by a passenger seizing the controls gave enough cover to entirely dispense with the liturgies and restore the ship to working order with the bare minimum of maintenance. When speed truly counts, Spare Me This Nonsense.

I [the pilot] bought passage aboard the Trireme Tranquilus, since it was headed for Nyx Infernus and I knew that information about the new communications relay would fetch a hefty price on the black market. To the right buyer, the information would go a long way toward settling my Lorasian debt. During the flight, the pilot lost contact with Nyx Space Traffic Control and steered out of the planet’s umbra. Idiot! The vessel was not equipped to handle full exposure to solar flairs at such close range: the pilot quickly lost control, and the ship’s navigation and communication sensors were fried. I had no choice but to take over. Flying blind, there was nothing for it but to take the ship into a lateral spin. Miraculously, I managed to get it back on track for a safe landing on Nyx. Sometimes you just have to roll the dice and hope for the best.

I was walking the promenade when leviathan whispered to me of the inspirations in the dreamspirit tanks below. The shadowy corners housed furious addicts instead, and then followed my hasty retreat. I thought leviathan had betrayed me, but Sisigmund staggered squinting into the sunshine; swinging his steely fists in a spirited waddle. They beat him within an inch of a lessor man’s life, but his inebriated indomitability won through. Intriguing. Leviathan was right again.

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Last Straw on Orbus Istia
Backstory


Initial adventure of Sisigmund von Schwaben

After the Sergeant was ordered to shell an entire Istian city for sheltering rebels, he instead set off the ammunition dump, killing 600 guardsmen in the process. He was imprisoned for court marshal but escaped with rebel help, taking Colonel Mehmed’s prize chainsword to boot. With a new name, and a new ID to match, he now works for Andruscus on the inside.

On departure from the planet Orbus Istia, the sergeant’s attempts to lay low were complicated by the military-issue chainsword his baggage could hardly conceal. When pulled aside by a tech-priest he feared the worst and readied for another escape… only to look on in amazement as the Adeptus Mechanicus unveiled a sculpture of twisted metal and wire. Conventional hacksaws lay broken on the floor around as the madman carved away at the contraption with the weapon as tool. Conventional tools are not always available; sometimes you must use Whatever Is At Hand.

I [the Pilot] was on a smuggling mission to Gyokus Prime for House Lorasia. On this particular voyage, I had agreed to shepherd a fugitive sergeant to safety, providing he agreed to tag along on my current mission until I could dump him somewhere convenient. En route to Gyokus Prime, I left the flight deck, indicating to my co-pilot to keep an eye on the auto pilot systems and to page me when we reached the Gyokus system. I went below deck to learn more about the fugitive I now harboured aboard my ship. After far too many drinks, I managed to learn that he was responsible for 600 deaths on Orbus Istia, where I picked him up. Damn; I’m definitely going to pay the consequences of so many drinks tomorrow. Hopefully it doesn’t throw me off my game - Lorasia has a big payload to deliver on Gyokus. Alas, knowledge is power, and I’ll do whatever it takes to get the information I want.

Odd; there’s a man muttering to himself as he paces back and forth between tables…

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Escape from Vallis Augustana
Backstory


Initial adventure of Waylon Quintillus Celeritas.

House Lorasia pulled strings to get me out of the military in return for a 5-year contract to pilot a Lorasian starship transport. Officially, my decree was to transport Lorasian trade goods throughout the system to various Lorasian outposts (in particular, to and from the observatory moon of Melus Terus, and to and from Gyokus Prime); however, I soon discovered that Lorasia’s recent rise to influence and wealth was fuelled primarily by a profitable underground smuggling business on Gyokus Prime. During one of my Gyokus Prime excursions, my true purpose was uncovered and, in my haste to escape the planet, some of the Lorasian ship’s systems were irreparably damaged. I ditched the ship because I couldn’t pay for it; I’ve been on the run from House Lorasia since.

On Vallis Augustana, I was finally cornered by Lorasian goons while trying to make passage off planet with some hot uplink codes. The sergeant seemed to come from nowhere, and pulled me into a tiny alleyway. As the thus gave chase, we zig-zagged deeper into the maze. I was sure we were trapped at least a dozen times, but the sergeant always had another exit. We soon lost the goons, and took the Spiratus Marsanius off planet the next day.

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