Sunday, 15 April 2018

Cultwar battle report

So we'd already played two games of Shadow War and Lee had taken a beating in both. Despite this he had still got a fair few advancements and the support of a Deathwatch Marine so its not all bad. He still wanted to stamp out the Xenos Cult they had discovered.

Of course he would be playing game three without his Inquisitor who had somewhat suffered at the hands of the Ochre Prince, the Purestrain Genestealer I had taken as an operative who had actually been a bit crap at combat. Still, he'd done enough to ensure the Inquisitor's absence and that gave me the idea for a nice narrative scenario. Although Lee had failed to access the data in the last mission I decided that he had managed to access SOME of it (remotely or something, I dunno, Machine Spirits are inscrutable things) and they were now retreating with the data and the wounded Inquisitor. This would be a simple get three models off the far board edge mission, with Lee having to traverse about 30" in total. My Cult would be trying to stop him and I wouldn't have the whole team at once, I would have a reduced starting force and more would turn up later.

Lee had added a Squat to his warband (another suspiciously diminutive model) and I had added a Seismic cannon to mine (scavenger FTW)

Lee would start just between the two small buildings on the right. 


Lee deployed everyone except his Injured Inquisitor:
Deathwatch Marine: Death's Head
Savant: Andrukas McCuan
Imperial Guard Veteran: Lt Dolf Luminak
Squat: Grummond ‘Tinpot’ Drakkensson
Short Range Pug Mutant: Ulo
Long Range Pug Mutant: Ulk
Crusader: Aurelius Leuker

My force was split up into 5 teams:

Tarn with his Seismic Cannon and Larz with a Heavy Stubber.
My Leader Skarn and the Flamer Karll
The two Autogun Toting Cultists Brothers Lek and Hesh
The two with Lasguns Brothers Cid and Jaq
and The Ochre Prince, a Purestrain Genestealer.

I'd start with D3 of these on the board and naturally rolled a 1. Great. I decided on the heavy weapons as I didn't want them moving anyway. We decided to roll for deployment. 1-3 they would set up behind Lee at the far table edge 4-6 they would be ahead of him. I rolled and duly set them up in firing positions ahead of his fleeing  tactically withdrawing force.

Turn 1:

My remaining groups would come on each turn if i rolled a 5+ 4+ 3+ and so on, you get it.  I went first as I was doing the ambushing, and with a lucky roll got both Skarn and Karll AND the Ochre Prince, who's claws were sharp and ready to rend.....

I set them all up in cover and hiding (GSC can do that) close to Lee's units. Hopefully I could stop him in his tracks here and with some supressive fire stall him before he started making headway towards the escape point.

Sneaky Genestealer Cult being Sneaky. 


The only real action of the turn was Tarn putting Down Mutant Ulo with a seismic blast. Larz couldn't really see much with his Heavy Stubber so bade his time (I completely forgot about the Overwatch rule)

Lee's turn 1:

Lee started off with a fairly cautious advance, I think I would have chanced it and run the gauntlet while most of the opposing warband were not on the table. At least then he would have got the -1 to hit.  His Deathwatch Marine aimed his Boltgun at Tarn but the cultist spotted the red dot and dodged to the side. Sadly he moved right into the dot of Long Range Pug Ulk who luckily inflicted nothing more than a flesh wound. Tarn was still in the fight, but pinned.. Elsewhere Lee had got a bit close to the Hidden and skulking Ochre Prince, that was going to cost him. Grummond had also wandered in view of Larz and failed to hit the Heavy Stubber toting cultist. Looked like I wouldn't need the overwatch after all.

Turn 2:

The Lasgunners Jaq and Cid turned up and took up firing vantage points. With a malevolent hiss the Ochre Prince pounced from cover onto the hapless Guard Veteran, I knew from experience how dangerous he could be and he was a priority target. Larz sighted the diminutive Grummond gunned down the Squat in a hail of Stubber fire. Skarn looked to Web Aurelius, another dangerous foe but missed the Crusader! That could be very bad. Karll was advancing towards the Deathwatch Marine and Pug with his Flamer. They were already causing me problems and I wanted them on Fire, people on fire cause less problems on the whole.

In the combat phase, despite a few deft parries, the Guardsman was taken down by the Ochre Prince who stayed crouched over him ready to finish the veteran off. (I messed up the rule that said it would have been OOA and thought that the Stealer had to stay there another turn to take the Guard out.)

The Ochre Prince vs Dolf


Lee turn 2:

We decided that Lee was immune to Bottle Tests, after all he was already running away. He started the turn by pinning the Ochre Prince with the Deathwatch marine. This actually lead to a bit of a conundrum. The rules for Purestrain Genestealers say that they are immune to pinning from all but High Impact weapons. Problem is none of the weapons in Shadow Wars seem to be High Impact, certainly not in the summary or weapon profiles. After a bit of discussion we decided that a Boltgun WOULD be a high impact weapon. After all it is technically a miniature rocket launcher so the Ochre Prince was duly Pinned.  The Savant went to shoot Skarn but missed.

Still, Mutant Ulk did Down Tarn, who had just got to his feet so it wasn't all bad. His Squat had had enough though and went Out of Action.

Turn 3:

Time to twist the Knife. My Autogunners Lek and Hesh turned up and deployed where all the action was going on. They managed to pin the Andrukas and Aurelius with accurate but weak shots. Karl, who had obviously remembered to fill his Flamer took down both the Marine AND Mutant Ulk. Lee's rolls were pretty bad at this point and his entire remaining warband was pinned or down.

Lee Turn 3:

Lee spent his entire turn getting to his feet. Well Ulk didn't, he went out of action.

Burninating the Inquisitors lackeys.....


Turn 4: 

The Ochre Prince was free to murder again but instead of finishing off Dolf I charged the Crusader, he was the only real threat left and I wanted him out of the way. I had completely failed to web him so I would have to Rend him asunder instead. Most of the rest of my turn was relocating, or getting up from being pinned, though Karll did douse the Marine in Promethium again for good measure. Larz dropped down from his perch, he couldn't see anything and I honestly didn't see Lee making much more progress towards me.  The Ochre Prince managed to get ONE hit on Aurelius and Lee managed to fail his 3+ Invulnerable save! The Crusader went OOA and Lee's bad luck continued. Still,, Tarn went OOA so there was one silver lining for him I guess.



Lee: Turn 4:

Not. Much. The Savant Pinned the Stealer, the rest of his Warband were very very still.

Turn 5:

I think this was about it to be honest. Karll Charged his burning Marine and it was night night yes?
Lek took Andrukus Out of Action with a precision shot between the eyes and with the Prince Pinned Skarn Shivved the Guardsman, taking him out.

We called it there. It was all over and all that remained was the aftermath.



The Savant Andrukus DIED. apparently having a hole burned through your brain is fatal. Who knew? Dolf suffered a head wound and would miss the next game. I was happy about that. Everyone else was fine and Ulk had the cheek to learn a lesson! On top of that he was really the only one who achieved much so we decided he could be MVP and Level as well. So he ended up with Nerves of Steel and Iron Will. For me it had to be Karll with his flamer. Karll became a medic which was handy. Lee could have used one of those for his Savant.

The last game we played was a straight up Gangfight scenario as Lee looked to regroup and have one last crack at the Brotherhood of the Yellow King before we move on to games of 40k. Look out for that report soon!


Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Cult War month 3

Aaah month three: At the mid point –ish of the month my completed models? Three. And they were all neophytes.

Yet I wasn't perturbed by this. Why? Well, there were a few reasons actually.

Firstly, although only three Cult models were completed there were a LOT that were half completed. In fact only about 30 out of the original 168 are now bereft of paint beyond primer. Many are at that annoying ‘almost finished’ stage and indeed it very much looks like I might be left with nothing but Acolytes (shudder) to paint in the latter stages of this project.

The second reason for my lack of concern is that I had been painting some other stuff basically. A world away from the dingy cult I have been painting some Silver Tower Models, particularly the heroes that myself and my Girlfriend are using as we work our way through the Gaunt Summoner’s trials. I have to confess though, these also are half painted. I am VERY unused to painting over white undercoats, in fact i hate it.



The third reason for the complete absence of any consternation is that Lee and I actually played a couple of games! Officially launching the Cultwar! We played two games of Shadow War, the first being an Ambush as the Inquisitor and his forces infiltrated the Brotherhood’s territory.



Alas, this game did not go well for Lee as his forces were shot to pieces from higher positions, (a good thing as many of his models are suspiciously small, making it easy for them to hide behind cover –scale creep he calls it, citing their age. Hmmm ) my Cult forces precision shots putting the majority of his Inquisitorial warband on the floor or out of action in swift order. One bug in the ointment was his Veteran Guardsman who managed to cut apart a couple of my cultists (including chopping down my leader!) before being felled by Autogun fire. Worse, he advanced regardless thanks to Lesson Learned on the serious injury chart making him even more dangerous for future rounds. I also had the worst Flamer in the world, either that or I had accidentally filled it with something other than Promethium, couldn't even cook a sausage with it.

His Guardsman gained +1 A as did one of my Autogun guys (helpful, NOT) and his Crusader, who I did manage to Web for the entire game got +1 movement, the irony!.My leader also learned a lesson (don't charge people with power swords) and got the skill Destined for Greatness meaning he could reroll future advances.



We decided to play a follow up game, as the first one didn’t last very long before Lee conceded. We both added specialist Operatives, Lee opting for his Deaths(head)watch Marine and my self with a Purestrain ( The Ochre Prince) putting some Genestealer into this Genestealer Cult. The Scenario was Raid, with Lee looking to steal some information from a data terminal, however the searchlights that my Cult are packing made spotting him easy work and the alarm was raised swiftly.

In addition his Inquisitor had deployed far too close to danger and found himself being leaped on by the Ochre Prince from a munitorum container!

So I shot down a few of his models. He shot a few of mine and inflicted some casualties, Thankfully none fell from their high vantage points. My Purestrain totally fluffed his rolls (seriously, VERY bad) but thankfully the Guard Veteran was too scared to charge in and help the Inquisitor, a lucky escape?

Eventually the stealer was able to wound the Inquisitor but not finish him off and was itself taken out by the Guardsman who finally plucked up some courage! I flamed the Inquisitor to put him out and with the Webbed Crusader (again) Lee Bottled. Lee’s Deathwatch marine got a few shots off but spent most of the game pinned. For some reason his rules don’t list ATSKNF! This is patently ridiculous so we decided in all future games that he would have this ability, after all if Scouts do….

I also said that Lee’s Inquisitor couldn’t die as the whole thing is kind of pointless if he does. He ended up hating my Purestrain and missing a game due to his rather non specific injuries. My leader rerolled his advance but got a skill regardless, thankfully I got Scavenger which would come in handy when it comes to reinforcing my Warband.

Another of Lees models got +1 M, he was getting swift! This may well come in handy for the scenario I have in mind for our next game.

We aren’t going to play a full campaign, only About 4 games, before we start building to full armies. We decided that any spare promethium stocks can be used for bonus points in the bigger games of 40K. At this point I have 5. Lee has one ( I presume he’ll take his DW marine again. )

So a couple of rough run ins for Lee, His Pugs sent with their tails between their legs ( im well aware they wouldn’t actually reach though) and i'm sure he will be more cautious in future for the next time he ventures into my territory. He’ll need to play one game without his Inquisitor and I have the perfect narrative for this.

***********************************************



So, back to the painting. As we got towards the end of the month it became clear to me that I was not going to hit the target i'd set myself last month. For a start I still only had about 8 models done. Secondly I had been working on some themed scenery for my cult, thirdly my work life had been turned upside down and i'd been in no mood for hobby.



Nonetheless with a last maximum effort I ended on 24 for the month and a good chunk of those were Acolytes! More to the point there were lots of models that were 'nearly finished so I have a head start for next month. I've very nearly hit 100 finished models and I estimate there are another 20 half painted so hopefully with the addition of some armour this army project will be done soon and Lee can have a chance to catch up. There is one problem though and its name is Forgebane...... I can hear the Omnissiah calling.....

This months efforts



LEE:


Grah! Another disappointing month of painting and gaming. The latter only because those insidious xeno have yet to be crushed beneath the righteous authority of the Inquisition. Shadow War has definitely been working in the Cult’s favour but from next month we will be shifting to games of 40K proper and I suspect that the extermination shall begin in earnest!

Painting wise I’ve only managed seven models. My guard veteran was the first to be completed. He is painted in his Cadian livery but with one arm kitted out in Tempestus armour painted in the colours of the Vertaxi Eagles, the regiment commonly employed by Inquisitor Quint Van Kleef when he absolutely, positively must exterminate all the xeno on a planet. I’m particularly pleased with his camo cloak which was painted, shaded and highlighted in the base green and then had splotches of camo brown added to it.





My second model was Grummond ‘Tinpot’ Drakkensson, an ab-human squat mercenary who like all the Squats in the Ferdinand Cardinal sector have a grudge against all Tyranid related organisms after the Hive Fleets all but exterminated the Holds of the Ferrous Deeps. The model is the first ever Squat produced by Games Workshop as part of their Rogue Trader preview line, quite a vintage. I’ve gone simple with the colour scheme as I was in a rush to finish him so bronze with deep green flexible parts. I’ve imagined his gun as a modified piece of mining equipment so have given it a fierce melta glow at its tip.



The final five models are me jumping ahead a bit. A combat squad of five Dark Angels based on the marines included in the 40K second edition starter set. With these five I have now painted the entire set! These join ranks with the other 15 I’ve already painted which gives me two tactical squads I don’t have to paint later in the year. Ultimately the good Inquisitor will receive forces from the Dark Angels to help fight back against whatever horrors Allen has up his sleeve.



Half painted and smothered in good intentions is my Taurox Prime. I hope to have this finished soon and start on my Scions Squad and their accompanying Commissar. Looking a bit further ahead Inquisitor Van Kleef needs to muster a force of 1000pts for our inaugural game of 40K. I had been going back and forth over what units to paint up, do I go Imperial Guard, Adeptus Mechicus or some Dark Angels. In the end I looked towards our narrative to decide for me, hence the Inquisitor shall be aided by forces provided by his good friend, the Rogue Trader Grand Admiral Luc De Havilard. Admiral Havilard’s forces contain a number of mercenary bands as well as a contingent of house militia. On the board this means several Squat units appearing along with some converted guardsmen to represent the house militia.

As at the time of writing I have received some upgrade parts for a twist in our tale I've not detailed to Allen, it's going to be a surprise. I shall be working on these units alongside my declared monthly models but you won't know what they are until they are revealed in a scenario I am writing for us to play


Monday, 9 April 2018

Brotherhood of the Yellow King: Chapter Four

IV: Into the depths.

My first impression of Endomaw mine was that it was a lot smaller than I had expected, much like the above surface complex. Whereas I had, especially given the size of the city that was supposed to only be a town, expected a vast subterranean chasm full of industry and noise, instead there was only a small chamber with a few carts of ore and a trio of tunnels with a smattering of stooped workers in mining suits processing and digging. I tried to hide my disappointment and perplexion and instead followed Jerrod as he strode down the right most tunnel. His shadowed form appeared intermittently as he passed the halogen lights that dotted the passageway and I hurried to close the distance lest I lose my guide and become lost, I noticed that there were junctions at irregular intervals but no signs for navigation and resolved to not stray from Jerrod again as i could see no markings of guidance nor direction. 

Presently, after a few minutes walking and a couple of changes of direction we came to another small dimly lit chamber. Here, Lek awaited us, somehow looking simultaneously both bored and nervous. He greeted me in his soft tone and explained that we needed to progress even deeper, that this original network of tunnels was little more than the earliest parts of the excavation, created primarily for the logistics of earth moving. A trial and error attitude towards finding the best seams and digging areas. I stepped into the small cage that he was indicating and he followed me, a heavy tread signalling that Jerrod would also be accompanying us. Lek hit a small switch by the side of the cage and with a sharp jolt and anguished squeal the cage started to descend. 

For a few moments we were surrounded by rock as the shaft the cage occupied was closed in and barely wide enough for our conveyance to pass undamaged. I felt claustrophobia closing in and gripped the rail of the cage tightly, trying to control my breathing and not think about the megatons of rock above me. Then the walls of rock gave way and we emerged into a large cavern much more in line with my expectations of Endomaw mine. Though still not gargantuan in scale there was at least a lot more activity and progress apparent. The cavern was dotted with further tunnels from which wire cables were suspended with ore being constantly moved from tunnel to tunnel. As I looked over the railing below me I could see that this mine was deep indeed, the bottom being well beyond my sight, and a sudden movement and shuffling of feet behind me convinced me to step back, even as I put the paranoia down to the remnants of my earlier feelings of claustrophobia. 

"Impressive isn't it?" Lek breathed, seemingly oblivious to my discomfort though i noticed that Jerrod suddenly seemed angry. I nodded, stepping further back from the railing and making a show of taking my communicator from my satchel. I checked the signal and was gratified that even this far down the Machine Spirit endeavoured to deliver a reasonable quality of signal, I breathed a prayer to the Emperor and subconsciously touched the chain around my neck, feeling the golden Aquila against my chest. I looked up at Jerrod who was positively glowering at me and quickly looked away, busying myself with the innards of my satchel. In silence we continued to descend, the cage juddering from time to time and preventing my fears from being completely allayed. In time our downwards journey reached its climax and the cage halted at what i estimated to be 600 metres below the entrance of the cavern. Below us the chasm yawned and the bottom of the mine was still out of sight. I saw all this through the grille of the cage floor, being unwilling to approach the railing again, somewhat perturbed by the expression on Jerrod's face. I must confess my legs were a little unsteady as I exited the cage but with solid rock beneath my feet I swiftly regained my equilibrium and started to turn my mind to work once more. 

To his credit, Lek fielded many of my questions adroitly, only a few of my queries proving beyond his knowledge. These, he assured me, another would be able to answer. To this end he led me down another tunnel, one that curved often and sharply. Eventually however, and after a slight incline which I estimated had put us about 80 meteres closer to the surface, we came to a large metal door. Activating a comm panel Lek spoke some pass phrase which was beyond my hearing and the door slid open. Stepping inside I was taken aback at the change in surroundings, metal walls and rooms surrounded me and corridors and other such familiarities of internal architecture abounded. After some time traversing rock and tunnels it was quite jarring but I quickly recovered and turned to face the tall character that was approaching me. He had thin, pinched predatory features and a high pronounced forehead which lent him a regal and imposing air. He introduced himself as Ganvan Seris, a senior figure among the hierarchy of the mine, though he neglected to divulge his exact title. 

Ganvan spoke in an almost hypnotic low and mellifluous tone, clearly enunciated and in the manner of a master orator. I found myself compelled to look at him and he had my complete attention. Unable to look away I swiftly assessed him as best as I was able. Clad in a rich yellow robe, he carried a staff of ebony topped with a four armed figure. He too wore a mining suit, though it seemed to be heavily customized, lacking many of the bulky accouterments and lights that adorned my own outfit. Furthermore his suit featured a tall cowl which only added to his stature. His face was gaunt and he was completely bald, in fact so were Lek and Jerrod, not just bald but completely hairless. It was at that moment that I resolved the nagging feeling that I had been experiencing. Every single individual I had seen in Endomaw Mine was bald, completely bereft of any hair at all. A chill ran down my spine as I realised that even back on the journey in the limousine every denizen of Endomaw I had seen had been cowled or hooded. Suppressing the tremor from my voice, I raised this point with Ganvan. His smooth answer that it was prolonged exposure to the ore seemed to ring false to my ears but his tone was soothing and I felt somehow compelled to believe him. He also reassured me, with a disarming smile, that I was safe and it took many months continuous exposure to see any effects. I queried if the hair grew back once the individual was removed from proximity to the ore and Ganvan airily replied that he didn't know. Thinking back to Geriok and citizenry of Endomaw it seemed unlikely but even as my brain tried to work through the sudden haze it was experiencing to argue that the citizens I had seen had surely had minimal, if any, exposure to the ore, I found myself unable to reason or cogitate and indeed the fog became denser the longer Ganvan spoke to me. 

Desperately trying to regain some sense of control and mental faculty I took a Stimm pill from my satchel and swallowed it. Maybe I was just tired and needed to clear my head. I started repeating my earlier questions to Ganvan, more to break his monologue than anything else, and he answered them immediately and to my satisfaction, though again I couldn't profess to having any real capacity of clear thought at this time. Ganvan gave me a short tour of the facilities, speaking at length about what had been accomplished in Endomaw. The Stimms had perked me up enough that I was at least able to make notes based upon his words and I trusted that they would make sense to me later when it came to preparing my report. After a few hours I was fatigued and requested that the day's activities ended and I be allowed to return to my guest quarters to absorb and compile the data I had captured and more importantly rest. Lek and Jerrod accompanied me and I barely noticed their taciturn silence on the ascent so tired was I. As we approached the room I was occupying I noticed them talking but couldn't make out their conversation as they were a good few metres ahead of me. I had no idea of the route back to my room so was allowing them to lead me though I must confess I was actually ruminating on the days events rather than focusing on navigation. 

Returning to my room I removed the heavy and now dusty mining suit with some difficulty and locked the door, once again bolting the door as well as an afterthought. I spent a few hours or so working on my notes and recording observations and submitting a short Vid-report to Narthley before sleep took me into its comforting embrace.

My dreams were most discomforting though, as my unconscious mind attempted to sort and process the days experiences. Twisted dream logic aside the sequence of events were largely accurate (reality contains less bubbles and spiders). As I descended down to the mine in the cage I could hear guttural snarls and sibilant hisses behind me, getting closer and closer. I leaned over the rail looking into the darkness below and recoiled as yellow tentacles rose from the depths, undulating and writhing as they reached for me. I stepped back, but suddenly Lek and Jerrod were either side of me gripping me firmly by the arms prohibiting my retreat. I struggled as the tentacles approached but could not move in their vice like grip. The tentacles reached my face as Lek urged me not to resist. Within seconds my head was enveloped and I was suddenly pulled over the railings my captors released me. Falling down into the depths, my scream was muffled by the oily grip of the yellow tentacles as I was dragged into the darkness. 

I awoke with a start, sweat pouring from my body despite the relative coolness of the environs. All was still, silent. No. There was something, a quiet shuffling and scraping, i strained my ears to pick out more but struggled with the competition from my hammering heart. Then I felt the cold all too well as the door handle scraped and turned and the door was tried. There was some muttering and then I heard the shuffling and scraping recede until it passed the reach of my hearing. I listened for a while but heard nothing else before sleep once again overtook me and I fell into a thankfully dreamless slumber for the few hours I had till first rise. 

The recording ended once again, and Carn opened his eyes. Though far more detailed the logs were proving less insightful than he had hoped. That there was something untoward was clear but the only one that could provide the information he needed was locked in an asylum and far far beyond any use. He rubbed his face and reached for the bottle of Skee on his table before remembering it was empty. Damn, perhaps some still remained in his hip flask. Just as he got up to rifle through his overcoat's pockets he noticed the wall comm flashing red. He didn't remember muting the chime but it was easily enough done and he'd probably done it without thinking. The insistent red pulse continued and he walked over to it, shaking the worst of his fugue off before hitting the acknowledgement rune.

"yeah, who is it?" His throat was dry, his voice hoarse, Throne but he could use a drink! Besides, he knew who it was going to be. Exactly who he didn't want it to be...

"Carn? Where the hell have you been, do you have any idea for how long I've been trying to contact you? What are you playing at? Throne, you'd better get your arse in gear, I've been voxing you for hours!"

The words came in a torrent, Ralscon's reedy yet bellicose tone bleeding into Carns ears, far more than he could take, especially in his current state. He only heard half of his supervisors rant, tuning out the rest as white noise. He blearily interrupted Ralscon with an irritable growl.

"Ralscon, in the Holy Emperor's name, what do you want? It's late and i'm tired. It can't be that important"

"Oh? How would you know Carn? I'm surprised you are aware of anything at the bottom of that bottle of Skee. Now shut up and listen. It's Endomaw. They've started responding to our communications, said they've had technological problems which they've now sorted. I though YOU should know this as it might help you with your half arsed investigation, Emperor knows why I bother though."

Carn's eyes widened as the salient information from Ralscon's diatribe filtered into his brain. This was the last thing he had expected. He shut Ralscon off with a terse thanks, advising he was coming back into the administratum, He fumbled for his flask, feeling the cool metal at his fingertips. He pulled it out and was gratified that it seemed at least half full. He allowed himself but the faintest of sips though. He needed his head clear and he would also need to save what was left for later. There was one other place that he could get the answers he needed and he could return Larkarsky's charm at the same time. Besides, he was almost out of logs and definitely out of options. There was nothing else for it, he was going to have to go to Endomaw.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Brotherhood of the Yellow King: Chapter Three,

III: Prayers and unease.


It was dark when Carn awoke, though that was no real indicator of time given that his office had no exterior windows. He'd never minded, there wasn’t really anything worth looking out on anyway. Nonetheless it was dark, the Illuminator Servo skull hovering nearby having deactivated the light after detecting a prolonged period of inactivity, or perhaps picking up on his soft habitual snoring. Carn didn’t know or care, the spirits of these machines were inscrutable at best of times, primitive though they were. He reactivated the servo skull’s illumination function and rubbed the back of his neck, massaging the crick from his awkward sleeping position and working his jaw, trying to rid himself of the sour taste and numb mouth associated with excessive Skee consumption. Checking his chronometer he could see that several hours had passed. It was best sleep he had had in an age though his dreams had as so oft of late, been infiltrated by Larkarsky’s mutilated flesh. In this instance however it had been whilst visualizing much of the ill-fated Adept's logs that he had read. Fading swiftly as dreams were wont to do, he struggled to recollect what he had absorbed before slumber overtook him.

Pallas, (after reading so many of his thoughts, Carn felt he knew him in a way he never could in real life) had awoken a short distance from his destination and noted that there was some change in his surroundings with banners and pendants of a golden yellow hung everywhere along with repeated occurrences of an odd symbol, again rendered in yellow. An odd aesthetic choice to his mind, especially stark against the drab environs of Endomaw. He noticed too that the tanks and troops that were even more prevalent this deep in the city (for a city it indeed seemed to be despite all reports and available information) were similarly emblazoned with the same logo. When his luxurious transport had stopped Pallas had been escorted by his driver, (who had supplied him with another mask as the Adept had left his on his seat) into a large and strangely architectured building, crenelated with gargoyles and statues of a type that Pallas was wholly unfamiliar with and yet filled him with an unaccountable trepidation.

Presently he was introduced to the administrator of Endowmaw, a hunched and berobed individual called Geriok Mkawas. The Adept described him as ‘an unwholesome sort with a sibilant speech and exotic perfume.’ After exchanging banal pleasantries they had got to work and Larkarsky had noted their conversation in exhausting and brain numbing detail. Much of it was to do with quotas and production levels, statistical and baffling with percentages and very long figures which Carn really had no grasp of at all. After all, it wasn’t his job, ivestigating what had happened to Larkarsky and Endomaw (it was still silent) was. Suffice to say for every point that the Adept raised Geriok seemed to have a counter argument, none of which warranted further investigation. In fact Geriok seemed somewhat put out and surprised that Larkarsky had been sent at all. Insisting that nothing was unduly awry and no further action was required. Nonetheless Pallas Larkarsky had dutifully requested to inspect the mining operation itself. This tallied with the first brief report which Pallas had submitted back to Narthley in which he had indicated that he had met the administrator and following a lengthy discussion was now going to inspect the mine. In this report all seemed normal and no sign was shown of the unease that was omnipresent in later communications.

The journey to the mining site was relatively uneventful though Pallas did remark that his host became ever more garrulous, presumably in an attempt to deflect Larkarksy’s insistent probing. For his part, the Adept noted that the second journey was unremarkable though he found that he was noticing more and more as time went on, including furtive movements in the shadows that had previously gone unseen. Half conversing with Geriok and half analyzing the passing scenery he noted that as they headed towards the mine there were increased signs of building and construction and an higher military presence. Merely for security and deterrence, Geriok assured him with a disarming yet false smile. Nonetheless Pallas noted that Endomaw seemed prepared for conflict and more than capable of defending itself. He surmised that the city was only eclipsed by Narthley in terms of scope and capability. He recorded that there was something else that bothered him but he couldn’t quite put a finger on it and in any event was quickly distracted and enamoured by the vibrant purple foliage that appeared as the limousine left Endomaw city and headed toward the Endomaw Mine.

And that was as far as Carn had got before he had fallen asleep. It seemed that he had made some notes of his own before he had lost the battle for wakefulness and he tidied these up briefly, submitting a short report of his own so as to keep Ralscon off his back for a little longer. He marveled at how someone as seldom spoken as Pallas Larkarsky could be so amazingly verbose when it came to the written word. Every little detail and thought was captured and recorded and seemingly much of it was from his own recollection as unless Carn was missing something, the shorthand scrawled notes contained only very basic information and statistics. Indeed it seemed that Larkarsky may well have had an Eidetic memory such was his power of recall. Carn chided himself for thinking about the Adept in the past tense but then reflected that given his current condition his memory may well be best referred to as a thing that was rather than is. Rising from his desk he stuffed all the slates and notes into the satchel, resolving to take them home with him. As he did so the Aquila on the golden chain fell from its pocket and he caught it, looking at it for a moment in his palm as it caught the soft light from the Servo skull which dutifully hovered nearby. He resolved to return this charm to Larkarsky if he got the chance, it was the least he could do.


***************************

On his all too brief return to his residence Carn checked his messages, he deleted any from Ralscon and replied to one from an acquaintance that he had socialised with pleasantly a couple of weeks ago. There were also the ubiquitous commercial messages which he ignored and erased. Well, all but one that purported to tell of a miracle Emperor Blessed Hair restorative. He ruefully rubbed his own thinning scalp, before deciding that this too was charlatan in nature and consigning It too to digital oblivion. He knelt briefly before the altar in his living area, closing his eyes and making the sign of the Aquila over his chest as he heartfeltedly recited a couple of prayers to the God Emperor of Man, beloved by all. He added a prayer for Larkarsky as well, knowing that the Adept would be unable to make his own genuflections. Carn was far from the most pious of individuals but it seemed only right. Rising from the small shrine he activated the wallscreen and took in a propaganda programme before catching up with the latest newscast and assuring himself that all was right, or at least no more wrong than usual, with Worth. Except something was. He couldn’t identify it, but something definitely was. Like hairs raising on the back of his neck there was an unease about him and he glanced about swiftly and furtively before deciding on a small glass of Skee to settle his nerves. The bottle sloshed reassuringly as he picked it up though in reality barely a few days remained, perhaps less given his current consumption levels.

Pouring himself a more hefty measure than he had first intended he nonetheless sank it in one gulp, immediately pouring another. He found himself initially sipping it appreciatively before once again draining the glass in one swallow. He sat in his most comfortable chair and held out his hands in front of him. They were trembling, only slightly but there was a tremor there nonetheless. Throne, what had befallen him? A quick medi scan (another luxury afforded him by his status) that assured him that physically he was ok failed to reassure him. A shower and food also failed to remedy the uncharacteristic and unfathomable dread that he was feeling. He even resorted to lighting and taking a few drags on a lho-stick he had tucked in a drawer before he felt nauseous and remembered why he had quit the narcotic in the first place.

His eyes flickered to the satchel which sat where he had deposited it by the side of his altar. Still open and lit, the faux candlelight cast distorted shadows across the floor and his richly embroidered rug. The shadows flickered and twisted and formed into writhing tentacles and he shuddered and squeezed his eyes shut. It was the Lho, he told himself, nothing more. It had been a while after all. Opening his eyes again he was gratified that the shadows seemed more quiescent though they still moved slightly and unsettlingly. Rising, he shut the altar and the faux candles were snuffed out as the shrine registered the motion. Another glass of Skee was probably the last thing he needed but he poured one and knocked it back anyway, followed by another. The barest trace of alcohol remained in the bottle so he raised it to his lips and drained it. It didn’t help. Worse still, he didn’t really enjoy it, what a waste of good liquor. He tried to distract himself further but no matter what he did he couldn’t stop thinking about Endomaw and poor Pallas Larkarsky. It was with a half drunken air of resignation that he opened the satchel, retrieved the half read dataslate and powered it on. He would know no peace till he got to the bottom of this it seemed. He scrolled to the last read entry and then selected the succeeding log and read with bleary eyes before giving up and accessing the audio settings, connecting it up to his terminal and setting it up to read and record the logs. The equipment dutifully started copying the logs and the machine’s spirit started relaying Pallas’s writings in a dull, scratchy monotone:

"Presently we left the intriguing flora behind and approached Endomaw mine. Still, I found myself marveling at the near luminescence of the vibrant plants, pondering their botanical makeup and how they survived such harsh environments. Were they endemic to this area? Were they native to Worth? Colour aside they seemed unremarkable, perhaps the most intriguing thing about them being how they could propagate in Worth’s harsh and unyielding earth. The Purplish ash dust that covered our home must have some hitherto unknown nutrients that enabled them to flourish, but if that were the case why were they not more widespread? What was the Catalyst that provided them with such a foothold in this area in particular? I must confess that I allowed Geriok to continue his conversation somewhat one sided as I mused the possibilities. Not that I would have needed much of a reason to do so, continued interaction with the man left me feeling decidedly uneasy and unclean though there was nothing specific that I could attribute those feelings to.

Nonetheless, before long we approached the mining complex proper and my thoughts were taken from exotic flora back to the Administrator's prattling
(Oh the irony! Carn thought with a sardonic smile) which I again deigned to indulge. Geriok was going out of his way to be accommodating, talking in that sibilant way, his words dripping with a honeyed hiss. I noticed that he reclined somewhat awkwardly and unnaturally and found that I inexplicably loathed this man. His bald pate, pale skin, overly white teeth and crocodilian smile all disgusted me.(Carn had no idea what a Crocodilian was but inferred that it was non complimentary) The machine droned on heedless of his ignorance. I smiled in return and nodded attentively to his banal small talk but my head was overwhelmed with the wrongness of the situation and I resolved to make another Vis report to HQ as soon as I disembarked. Carn had reviewed this report, seemingly made in a shelter or lean to at the edge of the mine. Larkarsky had been agitated, tense and fidgety but advised that he had reached the mine proper and was descending to carry out his inspection and audit. He suggested that preparations were made to send additional adepts as the scale of the operation was much more than had been initially surmised. This aside, the report was ordinary short and to the point, with the promise of a full written report to be prepared and provided at a later time. As we approached the mine complex I was taken aback once more, not by how large the installation was but rather the opposite. Endomaw mine was tiny, nothing more than a few buildings and inactive drills and smattering of earth moving equipment. The limousine pulled up and I got out, remembering my mask this time. though the driver seemed to have one prepared anyway. I noticed that Geriok wasn’t wearing a mask, and hiding a flash of annoyance he breezily explained that he had become inured to the air, at least for short distances, the driver on the other hand had not removed his once and it occurred to me that the grunt I had received when trying to engage him could have been somewhat muffled. My unease grew and I excused myself to make a quick communication back to Narthley in a sheltered spot. This done I returned to the small building which Geriok and the driver had entered.

The Driver was nowhere to be seen but Geriok was animatedly remonstrating with another pair before glancing over at me and then back to his compatriots. He beckoned me over, smiling blankly in that reprehensible way. He introduced the two newcomers as Lek and Jerrod, explaining that he had important business to attend to nearby and would return in a while, it was nothing to worry about he assured me, merely an administrative matter that couldn’t be avoided. He left through a large double door to the side through which I very quickly spied a loading area with additional digging machinery and cargo vehicles. As the door shut it locked with a green rune flashing to red. I could only assume that Geriok carried a biometric key that had allowed him to open it. Turning back to Lek and Jerrod I introduced myself and my assignment, how long I expected it to take me (a couple of days to be thorough but I had overestimated the size of the operation as drastically as I had underestimated the size of Endomaw itself). and what I would require from them in order to complete it. They nodded and advised that they would need to take me down into the mine itself and therefore I would need to don a mining suit, similar to the garb they both wore. Fully understanding the importance of health and safety and standards to be adhered to, I readily agreed. As I was looking to be staying at least a few cycles they hastily arranged quarters for me and said they would take me to these first so that I could prepare for my first sojourn into the depths of Endomaw mine.

We went down some steps and into a dank passage with dripping pipes and flickering lights which cast strange shadows on the walls, unnatural and pulsating. I tried not to look at them instead filling mymind with quotas a nd statistics. Presently we came to a series of doors and they swung one open revealing a spartan room with a locker, a desk and a bunk. Lek, the more softly spoken of the pair (Jerrod’s tone was nigh on guttural) gestured into the room and bade me enter and prepare myself. They would return, he said in 30 minutes and then we could continue our journey into the mine. They departed down the corridor and I watched them leave and turn a nearby corner before I closed the door behind me and engaged the electronic lock, I was gratified to see that there was also a secondary bolt as well and I pushed this across to further secure the room. I looked around and was perturbed to note the absence of a shrine or anywhere to pay obeisance to the Emperor. A panel in the far wall next to the bunk slid up at the touch of a dimly lit rune to reveal a wash basin and dirty mirror. I made a mental note of supplies and amenities I would need to request and disrobed and cleansed my body as best as I could.

The mining suit presented me with some problems as I was unfamiliar with its configuration. I put on the tunic and heavy mining boots but the over suit was more inscrutable and cumbersome. I donned it as best as I was able and shortly after there came a rapping at the door. Unbolting and unlocking it I was greeted by Jerrod, the larger of my two erstwhile guides and certainly the less approachable. He gruffly informed me that Lek awaited us and gestured for me to stand still so that he could adjust my suit. I felt no small pride as I noticed that his adjustments were minor and few and accompanied by a semi approving grunt. Properly dressed and equipped I bent to retrieve my satchel and immediately smashed into the bunk with the bulky suit’s mining lamps. I flushed and grabbed my satchel, mustering as much dignity as I could. If Jerrod noticed he made no sign and had already started down the passageway as I exited the room. More stairs beckoned and as we descended into the lower levels it occurred to me that I was losing sense of placement and direction and without guidance would struggle to return to the surface. Before too long the stairs ended, leading to a small room filled with equipment and tools as well as some workstations and terminals. We exited this room through a grinding and stubborn sliding door and I took my first steps into Endomaw mine.


The machine stopped it's intonation and a dull hiss issued from the speaker grille. The terminal flashed, indicating that it had finished copying the files; it had probably finished a while ago patiently signalling the completion of its task till prompted. Carn got up and disconnecting the data slate, instructed the machine to continue with the next entry, pausing it for a moment whilst he went to empty his bladder. Returning, he stopped just before he hit play, the selected file was flashing on the screen and at its increased size he could more easily see the file name. Unusual to say the least it conformed to no system or pattern that he could see, Dismissing it as another of Larkarsky’s idiosyncrasies he pressed play before settling back down. Nine logs down, six to go, and he was out of Skee and afraid to look into the shadows, Emperor save me, he thought.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Cult War: Month Two

February is a short month but also doesn't have the post New Year hangover that January is lumbered with. With this in mind I was curious to see if I could match last months output. Thankfully (kind of) continuing health problems (both mental and physical) meant a fair chunk of time off work, silver linings and all that.


First up was some more Imperial Guard Neophytes. I had these guys down colour scheme wise and they were real easy to get done so I wanted to crank out ten ASAP. That would put me a third of the way towards target. With those out of the way I did a Mortar Heavy Weapons Team, Nice.



Next up was to finish a few bits i'd started the previous month. 4 Abberants and a couple more Acolytes. I could already tell with this army that the Acolytes were going to be the biggest pain in the arse to paint. There are so many in this army too, I have about 40 more to do. That's a lot of yellow.



I also grabbed a couple of Sentinels and these were a blast to put together and magnetise. Really nice kits and i'd be tempted to grab another couple. I probably will if the army needs it when I finally start playing. These had a bit of paint slapped onto them but I wasn't sure I'd get them finished this month.


.
Except I did, once I had the Camo worked out the first one came together really quick. I left the second half finished for the moment. Next up was something about 569% more colourful, some Metamorphs. Painted just like the Acolytes but with a bundle more magenta and purple to make them stand out. Quite possibly the brightest thing I have ever painted.



At this point we were about half way through the month. Necessitating a brief break ( I have a girlfriend now) for Valentines day. Still, after that it was back to the Brotherhood of the Yellow King.



Some Neophytes were up next. I really was putting those acolytes off, even going as far as to convert some more to Metamorphs using some spare bits. I also have five Metamorphs to construct from the kit so I think I have about twenty all in. About half way through the Neophytes I started to get batch painting fatigue and decided to grab a Chimera, utilising the camo scheme i had created for my Sentinels. I got it mostly done but didn't finish it as it was only meant to be a distraction from the infantry.



Juggling quality time with my awesome GF Kirstie (lots of Board Games) with some painting Saw me half painting some more stuff. Coming up to the last few days of February I had about 8 Neophytes and a Heavy Mortar Team and a Sentinel sat in my 'get these done by the end of the month' pile. A load of snow the likes of which I haven't seen in about six years gave me the opportunity to paint the majority of it and the last evening was spent painting right up to midnight while half watching a couple of movies on Netflix with the last thing being finished actually being the second Sentinel.

So, the final count for Feb:

3 Metamorphs
2 Acolytes
4 Aberrants
10 Guard Neophytes
13 Cult Neophytes
2 Mortar Heavy Weapons Teams
2 Sentinels.



36 Infantry and a couple of Walkers. Not a bad effort! I also grabbed some bits and pieces to make a couple more squads i'll use as Neophytes to balance out the Acolyte heavy force.

So, looking to March, I aim to paint the following.

Chimera
7 Metamorphs
10 more Neophytes
Primus
10 Guard Neophytes
and yes, 8 more Acolytes. Sigh.

I have to be honest though, I AM starting to feel a bit of Batch painting fatigue though and I wouldn't be surprised to see my resolve waver and something else get attacked with a paint brush at some point. Maybe some board game models or some scenery.

The main thing to do though is arrange a few games with Lee! We are starting with Shadow Wars as he has only painted a squad or two so far but he is aiming to ramp this up with a couple of Start Collecting boxes so we can start playing bigger games.

In the meantime i'll also be working on chapter 2 of my background short fiction so keep an eye out for that and the fate of Larkarsky and Alistae Carn as the mystery deepens.....

*******************************************************************************


Month two was pretty much a continuation of month one in that I am still painting my first month’s allocation of models. I don’t know how Allen has been able to get so much finished but that’s the nature of cults I suppose. I didn’t get anywhere near enough stuff done for various reasons and I consider it, and by extension myself, an abject failure. Despite this, I am well pleased with the items I did complete.

My Inquisitor, Crusader, Savant and Freelance Peacekeeping Agent (don’t call him a bounty hunter) are all finished with my Guard Veteran started. Unfortunately, I did not get any more scenery painted though I got some more put together.



Allen and I played a couple of games of Shadow War to cap off our second month and on the table top both forces looked quite handsome. Allen’s minions of festering xeno corruption are suitably dark whilst my eclectic bunch are a veritable carnival of colours by comparison. I did take my time in picking the colour schemes and it was effort well spent. (more on this game in Cult War Month 3! - Al)



My Inquisitor is painted to match Clint Eastwood’s outfit in the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. The Crusader is standard Crusader colours as I quite liked those as they were. The Savant is mostly metal but with a few colourful flushes.



My favourite model to paint this month was my Death Watch Marine stand in model. It started as a Marvel universe era Deaths Head Heroclix figure. I’ve given it a new base to match the rest of the warband and repainted him in his Transformers era colours. I imagine he is taking a detour during his adventures through space and time to earn a few more Shanix before hopping to the next franchise. He’s suitably imposing standing next to the rest of the gang so fits well into the role of a Death Watch marine.



One of the reasons for my lack of progress is that I was side-tracked painting one of my all time favourite models, Trish Carden’s metal Great Unclean One. I used this in a game against an army of Custodes all mounted on jet bikes and he did well slicing through a fair few of them.



So, for March I want to catch up. I have put together the contents of a Start Collecting! Tempestus Scions complete with wheel upgrade for the Taurox from Victoria Miniatures and my aim is to get most if not all of these painted. They are the first line of reinforcements my Inquisitor has called in to help him eradicate the cult. If they are complete, then I plan to repeat the feat by completing a Start Collecting! Adeptus Mechanicus who I’ll expand in May. Forge World have indicated we will be getting rules for Mechanicum units in 40k and I already have some painted who would make for free additions to my force and allow me to diversify my forces without having to buy anything else. Once I’m satisfied I’ll start adding Dark Angels. (Clearly a radical Inquisitor then ;) -Al) 






Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Brotherhood of the Yellow King: Chapter Two.

2: The futility of Procrastination.

Carn got back to Narthley some time before Larkarsky's effects. He probably could have taken them with him and reviewed the Adept's notes on the return journey in the transit shuttle but quite frankly the experience at the asylum had left him rattled and in no mood to concentrate on anything. He had simply wanted to get back to familiar surroundings and have a very large drink.

In fact he had had several drinks, a routine that had continued in the days since his return while he waited for the material he was to investigate. Even now he had a tumbler containing a generous measure of Skee sitting on his desk. This was the good stuff too, old stock imported from Celias IV. Smooth and rich, smoky and fiery at the same time. Being a Prefect on Worth had it's perks, few though they were.

He picked up the glass and swirled the amber liquid round the glass noting with satisfaction the way the liquid clung to the side of the tumbler, a sure sign of the superior quality of the alcohol. He raised the glass to his mouth and drained it in one quick motion, savouring the burn as the Skee went down his throat. Even by his standards he had been drinking more than usual recently. His supply of Skee was nearly depleted and it would soon be time to put in another order, a substantial but worthwhile, borderline necessary, expense.

And one that could be partially mitigated if he could get off Worth. By far the poor cousin or runt in the Celias system, the Ironically named Worth had not even been considered being named as part of the Celias sequence. Celias I was a Forge World, a minor contributor in the grand scheme of things but one that nonetheless produced a valued line of Sentinel Walkers, Chimera Transports and Leman Russ Battle Tanks. In particular the Plasma weaponry of Celias I was highly regarded even if the limited size of the world inhibited the scale of output.

Celias II was dead. It had always been dead as far as anyone could tell, with surveys showing no signs of past life or civilizations, alien or otherwise. It was however, a source of vapours and chemicals prized as poisons and oddly enough as agents in purifying the byproduct from industrial manufacturing. So it transpired that even this dead world had some value to those brave enough to risk exposure to the noxious and corrosive atmosphere and harvest it's deadly riches. A small dark world, it attracted small dark operations and nearly all of the output from Celias II came from Black Market sources as no one in their right mind would journey there, no matter the bounty. The criminal and desperate however would make periodic raids, often dying horribly as they captured the chemicals they sought.

Celias III and IV though, were settled worlds. Celias IV was the more heavily populated and developed. Celias III was actually the smaller more verdant world and had a problem with unwanted migration from Celias IV as people sought more land to exploit and pillage and stopped just short of all out invasion. Celias IV's population was killing it, there were far too many humans breeding too much and living too long. Choking to death on its own advancement Celias IV was almost used up and people were desperately trying to leave the world and get to its sister planet. In fact Celias III was in a constant state of the brink of war with Celias IV, though in reality it boiled down to little more than Sabre rattling as Celias IV was by far more the capable and militarily potent world, They distilled some damn fine Skee though.

Besides, Carn mused. Even Celias IV, dying a slow choking death, would be better than Worth. Anything would be better than this wretched ball of ash and rock. Well almost anything. The Celias system was completed by two more planetoids in outer orbits that were little more than orbs of methane and ice. They were so far away and small that no one had bothered naming them, though they likely had Imperial Designations. No one went there, no one cared about them and if they disappeared no one would miss them. The only noteworthy thing out there was some listening and relay outposts which kept the Celias system (barely) in touch with the wider Imperium. Contact was seldom made though and it had been years since the last message from outside Celias. Even contact between Worth and the rest of the system was sporadic, cargo transports regularly arrived empty and departed full of ore but messages were far more seldom. Visitors were practically unheard of.

No, the majority of people on Worth were born there and the majority of people would live their hard lives and then die there. Numbering a truly pathetic 400,000 worldwide, the population of Worth toiled and strove and lived their empty little lives and nothing they did really mattered. They were but tiny little cogs in a very big machine, a machine that cared nothing for them and was truly too vast and convoluted to be impacted whether they turned or not. Such was life in the Imperium of Man under the Aegis of the God Emperor of Man, beloved by all.

Carn sighed and rubbed his eyes, yawning loudly. The Skee, satisfying as it was, often prompted melancholy and caused his thoughts to become maudlin and his mood morose. It was worth it though, totally worth it to numb the monotony, and more recently the horror or Larkarsky's self mutilation which intruded upon his mind so often of late. Sleep was no relief and indeed he had not slept well in days for any rest that he did manage was broken and of little real benefit. He yawned again and contemplated another measure of Skee before deciding against it. Instead he reached for Larkarsky's satchel which had been sat on his desk for the last few days defying him to ignore it. He'd been putting this off for as long as he dared but he could delay no longer. The thrice damned Ralscon had repeatedly tried to contact him for an update to his investigation, attempts that Carn had studiously ignored or avoided thus far.

"Come on then you poor bastard" he said to no one in particular "let's see what happened to you". He unlatched the satchel, and opened it, emptying it one item at a time. He removed a number of data slates and sheaves of paper. In one of the internal pockets was a small golden Aquila on a chain. There was also a wrist chronometer, some rations (Larkarsky was the kind to take a working lunch) and a small holoprojector loaded with pictures of people that given the vague resemblance Carn assumed were Larkarsky's family. Replacing all but the papers and the dataslates Carn carefully put the satchel down by the side of his desk, struck by an uncharacteristic sympathy for Larkarsky and his horrible fate. He spread the dataslates (four in total) and pages in front of him and reviewed the material.

The dataslates were encrypted but he used his security override and unlocked them. One was full, one was half full and the other two were empty. He discarded these latter pair and concentrated on the full Dataslate. Opening the directory he saw a number of entries. Scrolling through he discovered that they were all literature rather than logs, both fiction and non fiction with titles meticulously organised and categorised. He opened the one called research but quickly established that there was little of interest to him it mostly being information on mining practices, quotas, and safety standards. He tossed the slate aside without closing the file and picked up the half full slate. Comparing it to the sheaves of paper he saw many duplications and beckoning his illuminator Servoskull closer concluded that the pages were rough notes in an unorthodox shorthand from which Larkarsky then prepared his actual log entries. Discarding the scrawled notes, he focused on the pad; The entries were ordered by date with multiple entries per day. He opened the first with a tap of the screen and started reading.

I arrived at the small landing port at 3:06:58, enduring a bumpy landing for no discernible reason. My momentary ire at the seeming incompetence of the pilot was diffused as I looked outside of the viewing portal at Endomaw. I had never had the need to visit the mining town previously and this initial impression was such that I had never beheld before. Far from the ramshacke and dare I say primitive, habitat that I had expected instead I was treated to a sprawling industrial complex, bustling and imposing. Further than I could actually see smoke stacks and cyclopean edifices towered and stretched into the distance. This was far from the modest installation that I had expected from studying and researching the available information. 

Disembarking from the shuttle I was struck by the noxious if not quite toxic fumes, heady and disorientating. At the foot of the ramp a slightly hunched figure in a mining suit handed me a filtration mask which I donned with a grateful nod. I looked at the other end of the landing pad and saw a sleek low slung limousine which I assumed was my transport further into Endomaw, certainly they could not expect me to traverse any distance by foot. I approached the vehicle, which I noticed was coated with a thick layer of dust ash and soot, and was gratified when the rear door swung open to reveal a shrouded yet luxurious interior. 

I stooped and entered the limousine, noticing that the fellow that had offered me the mask had followed me and appeared to be entering the drivers compartment. Inside i was pleasantly impressed by the level of opulence on offer. The passenger compartment was empty so clearly the driver had activated the door by remote. I opened a small door built into the partition between compartments and noted the copious refreshments that lay within as the limousine purred into life and started its journey towards my destination, though i must confess I wasn't sure exactly where that was.  

I thumbed the intercomm and it crackled to life, the amber rune flashing green intermittently and unconvincingly.  I asked how long it would take to reach wherever it was we were going but no response was forthcoming, though I thought I heard a noncommital and dismissive grunt. Convinced that I would get nothing more from this strange driver, I deactivated the commlink and looked around my immediate surroundings. The passenger compartment was spacious and could easily have accommodated a further half dozen individuals with a degree of comfort. There were a few panels and screens that were presumably for entertainment purposes and I ignored these as I was not here for recreation. The windows were tinted heavily and I couldn't see outside though I could discern that the transport was moving at some speed. Studying the array of controls and buttons I established that one of them would change the opacity of the windows and activated it. Immediately the exterior became visible and I was regaled with the sight of dirty walls and scaffolding as we made our way through the tight streets of Endomaw. Few of the denizens of the town were visible, those I did spy were swathed in cloth, stooped and furtive. More noticeable were the defence forces and within scant minutes I saw myriad tanks and troops either in defensive positions or patrolling. I thought for a moment to ask the driver about this but given our earlier interaction decided against it and resolved to simply further enjoy the comfort that my conveyance afforded, helping myself to sweetmeats and cakes as well as a large measure of some nondescript yet obviously alcoholic liquid. 

Sipping the potent yet sweet liquid I reclined in my seat and watched the scenery, such as it was speed by as the limousine wound it's way through the streets of Endomaw. Just by the length of the journey thus far it was obvious that Endomaw was far bigger than anyone had suspected and far more equipped and prepared. Prepared for what I couldn't possibly say but I was sure that there was much more beneath the surface than could be seen and that was even accounting for the fact that Endomaw already was more than I had ever suspected. I pulled my notepad out and made some quick notes, prompts for when I finally reached my destination and got to work. For now, I just put my head back, closed my eyes and dozed for the rest of the trip. 

Carn set down the dataslate. He could take no more, inside he was screaming. He had heard tell of Larkarsky's legendary capacity for writing reams without actually saying anything but without actually experiencing it he had really had no idea at all. He reclined, titled his head back and exhaled loudly and slowly. There was SO MUCH still to review, this was but the first of over a dozen similar entries. He now regretted his earlier procrastination, starting reading Larkarsky's notes earlier might have actually kept thoughts of the horrific experience at the asylum. Cursing himself for a fool and leaning forward again he reached for the remainder of the Skee, he was going to need another drink after all if he was going to carry on reading...


Thursday, 1 March 2018

Shadow War Armageddon - The Rescue Mission

Bit of an oddity this one. You may remember our battle report for Shadow Armageddon almost a year ago. If not you can familiarise yourself HERE. Lee's Orks got pretty much shot off the table, resulting in me capturing a couple of his Orks, this automatically made the next mission a Rescue Mission.

This is where the problems started.

Firstly we got a bit carried away and didn't take enough photos during the game. Not the first time we have done that! I think we need to set an alarm clock/stopwatch countdown!

Secondly I took two pages of hastily scrawled notes, making sure I captured the important events. I promptly then mislaid the first page. Bugger. That seemed to be it, I have fairly good recall but the details of the game would be beyond me and I would only be able to remember a few of the most exciting bits. Plus normally Lee does half the report to give his perspective and without notes there was no chance of that.

It was about eight or nine months later that I stumbled upon page one in a sheaf of papers, thankfully I hadn't thrown away page two. After a frenzied search I found it and now had all the notes from the game. Thing was I HAD deleted all the photos (all four of them) from the game. This presented a new problem. After all this time though I wasn't prepared to give up!

I decided to stretch my narrative muscles and write it as all out fiction. The previous report had incorporated a fair bit of that as an intro so I just picked up from that and expanded it. I wrote all the Marine stuff first and then went back and did the Ork stuff after (just a couple of weeks ago), trying to  inject a bit of the fun and character that comes to Lee so naturally. It was so far after the event that I didn't think that it was fair to make Lee try to remember game parts from nine months ago and also I hadn't left much wiggle room after writing Apollyon's part.

So, here we go! Hopefully you will get an idea of how the game went and if not you will at least like it as a short story. Feel free to comment below either way!

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Apollyon snarled as he kicked the slumped Greenskin, hard. It grunted and looked up, shooting him a belligerent look of pure hate, low animal cunning reflected in its eyes.

“Come on Emperor damn you! Tell me! Tell me how you and your friends keep getting down here “

He cuffed the bound alien for good measure. Blood drooled from the corner of its jutting jaw from the blow and it grinned maliciously before uttering a series of grunts and bellows.  Apollyon could discern little from them but did pick out what sounded like the words ‘oomies’, ‘skragged’ and ‘lads’, the rest was little more than bestial roars.

“Useless wretch” he muttered, turning away from the Ork. He thumbed his vox and it crackled into life, a low buzz of static hinting at the interference that had plagued communications in recent weeks. Whether a result of the damage done to Armageddon’s infrastructure or some xenos influence he was unsure, he wasn’t even sure he cared. He just wanted to get this Greenskin back to base so that it could be probed psychically by the Librarius. To that end, he reflected, he probably shouldn’t damage it too much. He quelled the temptation to kick the xenos filth again and spoke into his vox

“Base Rho Alpha Three Six, this is Apollyon requesting Landspeeder Storm extraction with high value cargo from Sector Two Four Beta, respond!” His words were greeted by a squeal and then a hiss of static. He resisted the urge to smack the comms device, partly because it was attached to his skull but mainly because he didn’t want to anger the machine spirit within. It was not wise to antagonise such things, no matter how frustrating they were being. Throne, but he was in an ill humour! He couldn’t see his mood improving anytime soon either. Not till the Greenskin was delivered and they could get back to normal operations. He switched to the Squad channel, even that bore a low hiss of white noise. 

“Caeon, report, any sign of them?”

The Sniper lookout scanned the area in front of him with his scope. The visibility was terrible and no matter the setting, his view was obscured by gloom and smoke and other toxic vapours.  All of their equipment had taken a battering in the operations of the last few weeks and none of it was functioning at full capacity. He was thankful that it was working at all.

“ Nothing here Sergea…” he stopped as a shot rang out in the dark, another shot sounded and to his left Orosius grunted and fell from the gantry, tumbling into the gloom, a dull thud signalling his impact below. “Contact, Contact!” he roared “Orosius is down! They are here!” Another shot whistled past him and he ducked into cover, "Contact!" He yelled again, "they are in the Mortarium, back towards the residential sector!”  He braced himself and fired over the barrier on the gantry, gratified to hear a savage bellow as at least one of his shots hit home.

Apollyon whirled towards the sudden activity, he activated his vox and once again was assaulted by static. He ignored it. “Base Rho Alpha Three Six! We have engaged! They are right on top of us! Extraction required now dammit, NOW!” He ripped the vox system from his head, Machine Spirits be damned, he’d been looking forward to a fight. Activating his chainsword, with a mighty frenzied roar he charged into battle. 

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Boss Snikbang! snickered (a total coincidence, it wasn't how he got his name. It was actually from the 'SNIK' sound that his knife tended to make as it slid into one of his countless unaware victims - besides he didn't know what snickered actually meant) as he watched the Scout tumble from the gantry in the gloom. Steady Baz always been a useless shot and now the not-beakies knew they were there and were on alert. It had been up to him to show da boyz how it was done and take the sentry out, he might not have hit him but the not-beakie had fallen anyway (that was the bang! part of his name.)  Not the way he liked to do things, no, not at all. Blood Axes was all about  the stabbing and not the Dakka. Oh well, he was starting to think most of these lads weren't going to cut it anyways (again, the irony of that statement would have been lost on him).

One of the new yoofs, Sneak, had shown some promise. Shame he'd been under the scout when it fell. Snikbang had heard the muffled grunt from his shadowy position, being a Kommando meant excellent hearing on top of being dead sneaky. Now the whole covert nature of the operation was Squig crap. Worse still, now all the boyz were opening up, to little effect. Once again he gave the order to advance, with a bellow rather than all those nice proper hand signals. He missed the days when his squad was proper cunning but brutal. Those boyz was proper Orks, true he'd got most of them killed but 'that's wot soldiers did, died'. He couldn't see much being different here to be honest. Problem was, he was running out of volunteers, hence actually running this rescue mission. Word must be getting round, recruits were getting harder to come by.

This mission was unlikely to change things either. He sank his face into one meaty palm as Zug went down in a hail of fire, less Happy Zug, more unlucky Zug. This was turning into a disaster, again. He lifted his head to witness  Hatz and Wobbles cowering from precision sniper shots spanging from their mausoleum cover. At least Stretch was heading for the scout that had fallen, with any luck he might get Sneak up again too as he dispatched the hapless not-beakie. Right, there was nothing for it, Boss Snikbag was going to have to show them how it was done. Again. Typical, he mused (well, as much as an Ork is capable of musing - which isn't much) you wanted something done you had to do it yourself. Grabbing his knife in one hand he started sneaking forward, Zog it, at least his ladz would make a decent distraction if nothing else.

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Apollyon charged straight at the Greenskin making a move on the downed Orosius. The wounded scout was crawling to safety on shattered legs whilst trying to stem the flow of blood pouring from his abdomen. He managed to glance at his Sergeant as he saved his life, blocking the blow meant for him from a mighty cleaver. Apollyon grunted as he bore the force of the blow. Orks were strong, very strong, and it took two hands just to hang on to his chainsword such was the brute strength of the strike, which surely would have killed the stricken Orosius.  He noted another Ork lying in the gloom from which Orosius had crawled. He had little time to dwell upon what had happened though.

“Not today, Filth!” He spat, the strain showing on his face as he glared at his opponent, “Today you die!” He forced the cleaver away and lunged with his Chainsword, the teeth cutting into green flesh. The Ork roared and swatted the weapon away, gouging itself further on the buzzing teeth. Still, it gave the creature time to disappear into the shadows. Apollyon, frustrated by his quarry’s escape snarled and drove his chainsword into the groaning Ork at his feet, silencing its bleating. Movement behind him caused him to spin and he only just dodged the cleaver aimed for his head, the blade glancing off his pauldron.

“You should have stayed hidden Ork” the reply from the Greenskin was incomprehensible but the feeling of malevolence was clear. He darted to the side as the Ork again tried to remove his head, bringing his blade up in a riposte that his training master might have actually congratulated him on had he been a witness. The teeth cut deep once more into the Ork, a mortal blow for most foes. But Orks are not most foes and the creature just cuffed him on reflex, nearly rendering him unconscious. Dazed, he barely managed to parry the creatures next few strikes and he knew that the longer the fight went on the more likely he would be struck down.

“Time to finish this” he snarled and dove under the next telegraphed blow. His strike was true and cleaved deep enough into the Ork to fell it. He had no time to make sure it was truly dead though, more Greenskin were approaching through the gloom, firing as they went and he was forced to dive to the ground to avoid being shredded by primitive ballistics. He looked up at the advancing aliens as one dropped its hammer as it was punched from its feet by Bolter fire, a cry of triumph from above identified the youthful Zakian as the shooter.  A steady rhythm of bolter fire echoed from above, punctuated with the intermittent hiss and snap of a Sniper Rifle. The roar of Nikkaeon’s Heavy Bolter was absent though, either he was down or he was biding his time, Apollyon hoped it was the latter, his firepower would be needed to repel this attack.

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Sneakily advancing through the shadows Snikbang! saw Klank crash to the floor, dropping his precious hammer as he clutched his right shoulder. Most of his other lads were pinned by disciplined fire from above but at least it looked like Zug had learnt his lesson and was skulking towards the captives having pulled himself back together (literally it seemed). The situation could be worse all things considered. He was still perfectly intact after all. Plus that crazy not-beakie with the whirring blade had been forced back into cover by one of the new ladz. Not all was lost. Not yet. He'd get a proper fight out of this or his name wasn't Boss Snikbang!.

Thing was there was a fair bit of open ground  to cover to get stuck in proper. Snikbang! wasn't a fan of open ground, very hard to be sneaky without proper cover. Seeing Hatz and Skrabble nearby, blind firing over a peice of rubble he roared at them to join him. More targets couldn't be a bad thing if he was going to to have to make a run for it. Thankfully the other lads that were still standing were doing a decent job of keeping the not-beakies occupied.

"right, you Zoggin gits!" he bellowed as Hazt and Skrabble joined him, "time to give it to them humies good! When I givs the word we charge right? Wiv all the Dakka we can give em!" he neglected to mention that he wouldn't be Dakkaing at all and was going to head for the nearest shadowed area as his brave boyz ran the gauntlet. "On the count of lots! WUN, TOO erm. FREE... MORE THAN FREE!! .. LOTS!"

As he got to the highest number that any Ork knew to count to they all burst from cover and started charging toward the Ultramarine Scout's position. Well, Snikbang! charged off towards a nice secluded section where he could flank the enemy but no one needed to know that. Suddenly the sound of the battle changed as a deep staccato thud joined the soundtrack of war. Snikbang! just about had time to ponder this with his excellent commando hearing before there were a number of dull explosions within him causing holes to appear where there had been no holes before. he managed a few more metres before even he had to submit to gravity and physiology and stumble to the floor which was rapidly becoming covered with bits of the Ork Boss that he would much rather were not on the floor and still in him. Zog it he thought, getting a bit sleepy, he'd skrag em good and proper after a breather.

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As the fire on his position lessened due to the Heavy Bolter's overwatch fire, Apollyon got back to his feet. The Ork warlord had been badly wounded by Nikkaeon’s salvo and was down on one knee and hands, there were closer, smaller targets though and he felt his frenzy rise as he thumbed his chainsword activation key and it roared into life. At the last moment he recalled one of his lessons from Master Tertius during a training duel back on Mcgragge many years ago...

“Apollyon, you are too impulsive, to follow the edicts of Guilliman and therefore the Codex itself one must always adhere to the theoretical and the practical”. The swordmaster casually knocked the duelling blade from the young initiate's hand and spun round with an entirely extravagant flourish, cracking Apollyon on the ribs with the flat of his own weapon. The bruise would serve as a painful reminder of the lesson, at least till further augmentation was carried out, then such a blow would barely be noticed and heal almost immediately. Apollyon staggered, weighing up his next move.  Breath streamed from him in the crisp cold air as he caught his breath.

"Analyse, strategize and defeat your enemy armed with this knowledge. Information is your greatest weapon, more so than your wargear, more so than your armour, more so even than the body with which you will be gifted. Until you realise this you will not be ready to serve the Emperor”
Tertius’s mellifluous tones, rich yet honeyed, rankled at Apollyon and he dove for his dropped weapon, wincing at the grinding of his ribs. He rolled and came up with the short sword, only to find his training master’s blade already at his throat.

“How…” he started, pausing as his vocal cords flexed on the edge of the Duelling Blade.

“How did I anticipate your move?”  Tertius smiled the patient smile of a teacher that has delivered the same effective lesson a thousand times. “That is simple, I used the theoretical and the practical” he turned the blade a fraction, to emphasize his point. “Theoretical, your impulsive nature drives you to attack, you would look to retrieve your weapon as soon as possible and make an immediate and rash strike. “ He paused for effect.  “Practical, from that it was possible to calculate exactly where you would be and what your movement would be. You are clumsy and telegraphed like an Ork.” The honeyed tone faded and his voice hardened, “ I expect better, the EMPEROR expects better, and if you cannot learn to be better then you will have no place here. Leave savagery and fury to the dogs of Russ or the blood drinkers. Courage and Honour are all you need here; brawn must be tempered by the brain.  This you must learn…”

The memory faded having taken scant seconds; Apollyon took a deep breath and steadied himself. “Theoretical” he mused “Killing the biggest Ork will cause the others to retreat, ensuring the quickest victory and minimal use of ammunition and casualties.” He paused and smiled nastily, “practical, ending that green bastard will feel REALLY good.” He slowly stalked towards the stricken Ork, ignoring the two other Greenskins to his side. Even down on its knees the Ork Boss was massive. As he approached it glowered at him but could not rise. The craters in its flesh from Nikkaeon’s heavy bolter still smoked slightly, any other foe would have been eviscerated.  He raised his chainsword to deliver the coup de grace.

The Ork’s hand shot out, inhumanly fast, nothing that big should be able to move that fast. Its meaty fist closed round his throat and lifted Apollyon from the ground, his chainsword clattering to the floor revving impotently.  A low guttural laugh resonated from the Ork, and despite the obvious pain etched in its face and predatory eyes it smiled, baring its yellow fangs. Hot feotid breath assaulted Apollyon’s nostrils.

“Theo—theoretical” he gasped, “ Target is extremely resistant to damage and diffi…difficult to kill.” He struggled for breath. “Further theoretical, vul..vulnerable point must be attac..ked in order to ensure lethal strike.” He smiled. The Ork, too dumb to realise what was happening, due to either blood loss or just general low intellect, just squeezed harder. Thankfully, wounded as it was, it was at a fraction of its full strength or Appollyon's neck would have snapped in seconds.

”Practical” He paused, thinking once again of Tertius, “pract.. ical…” He pulled his combat blade from its sheath at his waist and thrust it into the Ork’s arm pit ripping up with all his strength and severing the brachial plexus and anxilliary nerve in one movement.  “Practical, I…was hoping you’d do that” he finished. The Ork Boss’s grip loosed and Apollyon dropped to his feet in a crouch before jumping up and twisting, slicing the brute’s throat. Bright arterial blood jetted out as he span, covering his armour.  The Ork slumped to the ground and stayed still, blood pooling round its massive form. He heard the cries of shock and consternation from the other Orks and knew the battle was done. He strode away from the form of the Ork Boss to check on Orosius, noticing that at least one Ork had been freed. Hopefully they still had the other for interrogation back at base.