Monday, 21 May 2018

Cultwar Shadow War Battle Report Part 2

So for game two of our Shadow War double bill we moved the setting to a more traditional Necromunda style industrial board. The scenery came from Wargame Tournaments (reviewed HERE) and did a decent job of doubling up for Necromunda Scenery, i must put some time into getting it all painted sometime.

This would be a straight up gang fight. no scenario, just fighting till one gang bottled. This would also be the last game of Shadow War. The game's limitations and flaws are becoming steadily apparent and without a decent progression system or campaign narrative its getting a bit stale. Hopefully Kill Team will be an improvement.

One last thing: We suck at remembering to take enough photos. Sorry about that.

On with the report!

Lee: Turn one.

Lee began the game by downing the Ochre Prince with Ulo, Oh. Not to be outdone Ulk shot down Larz removing the threat of my heavy stubber. Thankfully the cultist kept his footing and was saved from a painful fall.

Elsewhere the two Autogun boys Lek and Hesh were pinned. With the upgrades for inquistorial henchmen Lee's shooting was pinpoint, often hitting on 2+. He'd hit my gang hard, i'd struggle to deliver much of a response.

Al: Turn One:

First thing was to head forward with Karl, his flamer had done great things last game and here he delivered too, taking Ulo straight out of action. Seb, having sat out the last game, headed toward the Inquisitor and wounded the Imperial agent though his armour prevented him from real harm.

Cid managed to pin the Squat which was handy and the best part of the turn was saved for last as the Ochre Prince recovered to a flesh wound. He still had flesh to rend.....

Lee: Turn Two:

Lee started with more precision shots as Ulk downed my Leader Skarn, now that WAS a problem, not far off bottle tests already, good thing the Genestealer had recovered. His Deathwatch Marine threw a grenade but missed, bouncing the explosive off of a stanchion and into the path of the Inquisitor. Thankfully the Inquisitor wasn't harmed by the storm of shrapnel.

Al Turn Two:

The Genestealer charged the Crusader, even with a reduced weapon skill the Crusader should be toast, thinly shredded toast. Seb continued to make up for his absence in the last game by pinning Ulk, and Karl repeated the feat on the Inquisitor who was clearly fire retardant.

Lek pinned the Deathwatch marine with a lucky shot. Jaq opened up on the Inquisitor and managed to wound him, but with two wounds remaining he was going to be tough to get rid of. Somehow the Ochre Prince only managed to land a flesh wound on the crusader! Larz went out of action, ensuring that I would have to do with out my heavy stubber this game.



Lee: Turn Three:

Thankfully Lee's turn was mostly him standing his dudes up. Deaths Head did pin Brother Seb but not much else happened. Elsewhere the Ochre Prince was REALLY making a meal of the Crusader, only managing another Flesh Wound.

Al: Turn Three:

My turn was an array of missed shots, my guys arent as well trained as Lee's. I did land one important shot though as Lek repeated his shot on the Death Watch marine. This time though the impact was enough to knock the Space Marine off the ledge and plummeting to the ledge below. It's OK it wasn't that far only three inches, should be nothing to a mari....what's that? He's wounded? He's DOWN???

Oh dear....



Elsewhere the Genestealer failed to wound the Crusader, something was wrong, they are normally much more deadly than this....


Lee turn Four:

Lee started by passing his bottle test. He wasn't out of this yet. Ulk pinned Lek but he was running out of guys to impact the game. Things were made worse as I remembered that Genestealers have Rending Claws and the Ochre Prince's combat effectiveness improved significantly, the Crusader was promptly shredded.

Okay NOW Lee might be in trouble



Al turn Four

First things first.... Karl tried to toast Drakkensson but sadly his flamer ran out of fuel, the Squat ducked anyway and was Pinned. Karl was now pretty much holding a paperweight though. Need to get that boy a reload.

Cid and Jaq both shot the Inquisitor but missed. Seb, did better managing to hit and wound the inquisitor. He fell one story to the floor but suffered no further damage, he got up again with one wound remaining. He was dangerously close to the Ochre Prince though. Thankfully the Genestealer stuck around to get rid of the Crusader (yes we were still playing that rule wrong i know....)

Lee: Turn Five:

Lee wasn't running. He was very much running out of dudes though. Inquisitor missed the Genestealer, that might be fatal. Ulk pinned Seb and knocked him off the edge but he bounced well and suffered no further ill effects.

Al turn Five:

Time to put the knife in, Literally. Lek charged the fallen Deaths Head, looking to take him out of the game. Karl moved towards the Inquisitor and triumphantly squeezed the trigger on his Flamer only to have it spurt and spark. I'd completely forgotten he was out of ammo! Ooops.
A few of my guys stood up, Lek shivved the Marine and The Ochre Prince moved malevolently toward the Inquisitor.

Lee: Turn Six:

Do or die for Lee now. The inquisitor shot the Ochre Prince but failed to wound. We decided that a shotgun wasn't high impact enough to pin him though. Thankfully for Lee the Squat was hefting a boltgun though and this certainly was. The Ochre Prince pinned, Ulk pinned Lek from up high. Hitting his target wasn't a problem for Lee, putting them down was.

Al Turn Six

The Ochre Prince, recovered from being pinned easily (high initiative) and charged the Inquisitor. Karl joined in too, weilding his heavy but useless flamer. Hesh shot Ulk and lee failed his initiative check, plunging the Pug mutant off of the roof and falling a long way down. He didn't bounce and went Down.

Drakkensson was in heavy cover but Cid hit him anyway on a 6 and pinned the Squat.

Time for the Title Fight.

Ochre Prince vs Inquisitor (with Hatred)

The Genestealer has lots of attacks but the Inquisitor has a sword and can therefore Parry. Parry is a really powerful ability that has the potential to drastically change a combat roll. That is what happened here, but the Genestealer still got in one hit which stripped the last wound from the Inquisitor and put him down. Karl then bludgeoned him with the flamer putting him Out of Action.

Even better, Skarn, the GSC leader finally decided to recover to a Flesh Wound after being on the ground all game!

Unsurprisingly Lee gave up the ghost and finally conceded. The Brotherhood of the Yellow King had comprehensively defended their territory and repelled the invaders. But the inquisitor would be back, he had many resources to call upon....

End game action:

Bit pointless really becuase we weren't carrying on but we rolled anyway for shits and giggles.

The biggest upset was that Ulk DIED! He was the best performer of the game. It was probably a good thing we weren't carrying on, it was a crippling blow for Lee's warband.

Lee's Inquisitor hated Karl
The Crusader hated The Ochre Prince.

Larz, who had done nothing all game, being put down in the first turn had apparently learned a great deal (presumably about lying on the ground) and advanced gaining Marksman.

Drakkensson got to reroll Ammo tests and Lek, who took down Deaths Head yes? got an extra wound.

In total I won the campaign 7 promethium to 2. This would benefit me in some way in a future game.

This mini campaign highlighted for me the main problems inherent with the Shadow War Armageddon rule set. I'm gonna bullet point them.


  • Despite using the original Necromunda Ruleset the very best part, the post game sequence, has been absolutely butchered. There is little sense of advancement, kills make no difference and this can heavily skew the progression of your warband. The equipment that you can take is very basic and SWA really feels like a hybrid game rather than having its own identity. Consecutive games throw in stark relief the fact that SWA was nothing more than a stop gap. A chance to sell some new scenery and keep people buying kits in the sales lull during the lead up to 8th edition.
  • The lack of a 'gang rating' means that there can be no underdog system. This can often mean that one gang can get on a roll and the warband taking a beating can find it tough to recover. 
  • Another problem with porting over the Necromunda rules is inherent to the rule set itself. Lee found himself pinned far too often, unable to respond. In Necromunda you would nearly always have at least 8 models some of which were juves so if a few got pinned it wasn't the end of the world. Lee had a much smaller group even with his Special Operative so, especially once he had taken a few casualties he could quite literally spend his entire turn standing his guys up just to get shot down again. Pinning is far too powerful. Given that some armies will by necessity have very few models the case can be exacerbated.
GW are also clearly unconvinced as ANOTHER version is coming out this year, Kill Team. With a completely unique ruleset (different polygonal dice for the first time in a long time) hopefully this time they will deliver a rule set that will do justice to the idea of an elite squad operating over the course of a campaign. 

Time will tell. 



















Saturday, 19 May 2018

Cult War: Month 4

Another month and another tale of wanting to get shizz done but quite managing it. Despite the lack of concrete results plenty of stuff has happened. Listen good reader as I tell you a tale…

 


So I have managed to paint something and it’s a vehicle which is a bigger than normal model so that’s something, yes? After ruminating over which style of red, black or red and black official colour schemes found in the Tempestus Scions codex, I went with blue, like the Volpone Blue Bloods from the Gaunt’s Ghost’s novels. This particular model is a Taurox Prime, it’s a transport for my ten men but also packs a punch with a variety of weapons. I’ve gone anti-infantry as the majority of Allen’s force is infantry but have magnetised the turret so I can swap between a Gatling cannon or a mini Battle Cannon.



Now, there is a lot to recommend the Taurox model visually, just not the tracks. I get that GW wants to standardise the Militarum’s vehicles as tracked tanks but the model looks ridiculous built straight out of the box. That is why I forked out for the replacement wheels from Victoria Miniatures. You can see the difference they make, much more attractive. I’ve just ordered another set for my second Taurox.



Also this month I’ve put together the full 50 power points Allen and I agreed on for our first game. It is a Guard army, including all the models for Start Collecting: Tempestus Scions plus my Inquisitor and a few of his retinue along with a Militarum force comprised of Squats. Yes, Squats! I received GW’s first official squat model in over 20 years this month too so I don’t want to hear any eye rolling.

I am not using all these models in my list, unfortunately I couldn’t fit the Ogryns in but it has three full squads of infantry to yell obscenities at Allen’s lines. The off road quads I am proxying as Sentinels and I have an order for some new Mantic models that I shall be proxying as other Squat scaled Militarum vehicles.

I also received the parts for my secret units for later down the line. I’ll be working on these at the same time as my regular units, this month’s being the Scions ten man squad and a Commissar. Now I have the colour scheme down the infantry should come along quickly.



In other hobby news I have purchased my first bar of hobby soap. It is amazing. I shall not be painting any more without it. My brushes are pretty grotty and the difference the soap has made is noticeable, some of them have regained their points! I have some new brushes as well and will be maintaining them properly from the start, I hope to see an improvement in the longevity.

Pictures have emerged of the Eldar Webway gate that is being released this month. Finally, plastic Eldar scenery! I’ll be having one of these to go along with my mdf Aeldari pieces. It does mean I have to buy the Harlequin codex on release so I have the full rules but having the ability to bring in any Eldar unit close to the enemy as I assume it does is worth it.


Also, Warhammer Fest. There were a number of interesting things announced but only one really matters, the Return of Adeptus Titanicus. It’s not far off now either, August.So expect to see my Cult progress be surrendered to my love of Titans and epic scale, new or old, in general.

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

Man April was a tough month. And it's had a significant effect on my output, no less than four trips to hospital and several other upheavals have meant that not much got accomplished.

I DID manage to get work started on the characters at least. After several months of solid batch painting and nothing but troops it was a pleasant change of pace. They aren't finished but they are on their way. After all what is a Brotherhood without it's Yellow King?



Speaking of yellow, the Broodlord/Patiarch is the yellowest thing I have painted so far and ergo probably the biggest challenge. I look forward to getting it finished.



Alas, pretty much all painting ceased as two things happened in swift sucession.

1: Forgebane was released. Hello Adeptus Mechanicus army!

2: The Dark Eldar finally actually got a decent and characterful codex! Hello Dark Eldar Army!

The Admech were new, Forgebane was the core and then I bought other units to go on top. Pretty much everything is assembled.

The Drukhari on the other hand I have had for YEARS, I got them when the range was revitalised by Jes Goodwin and they've sat there ever since  new on sprue waiting for a decent book. Sadly they had some wait and sat their for entire editions as they suffered garbage book after garbage book. A shame.



So, lots of assembly, not so much painting. It's still technically cults just machine cults and Wych cults  (i have over 70 Wyches.)



But other than that, the month has been a total bust and I cannot deny that progress has stalled. Oh well, Lee and I have a game scheduled soon and that should give me some impetus to get more done, i'm still way ahead. We are starting at 50 Power Points to keep things nice and simple.

Then it's a mission to get a decent Cultwar done by August, for the Titans are a-coming....


Monday, 14 May 2018

Brotherhood of the Yellow King: Chapter Six

Chapter VI: Discovery and Destruction

Carn nudged the mug of Recaff in front of him, it was still warm, though barely. He contemplated drinking the beverage but he had no taste for it and frankly he just wanted to leave Hyrk as soon as possible. He had been delayed quite enough already.

There had been questions, of course there had been questions. He had endured them, the endless repetition and mind numbing monotony of standard enquiries around poor Larkarsky's demise. Carn had informed them that he had no idea why Larkarsky had done what he had, and that he had no previous contact with the Adept apart from his previous, documented visit. The thing is, he was lying.

Of course he couldn't tell them the truth, they would have detained him even longer and he needed to journey to Endomaw as soon as possible as per Larkarsky's message. For one thing had become abundantly clear to Alistae Carn, over the last day. He might have feigned ignorance, pretended that he knew little to nothing about the events in question, that he was nothing more than a witness to the tragic aftermath of Larkarsky's untimely death, but he knew the reality that lay behind the veil he hid behind. Larkarsky had been a Psyker.

Not just any Psyker either, to send a message such as Larkarsky had done, (for Carn firmly believed this is what had happened) he must have had no small degree of power and control. However, something much more potent had been hunting him and he had finally been bought low. But not before managing to contact Carn through his subconsciousness. Carn had ruminated over the experience while nodding with a blank expression to the continued probing. Though he maintained his facade of ignorance his professional mind was racing and analysing all of the information at hand. To tell of Larkarsky's true nature would only complicate matters, especially here. Such revelations were not likely to be well received in such a place.

A weary Doctor Speltz appeared from a door on the left, fresh from her own interview, and sat down opposite Carn.

"Hell of a night" she offered.

Carn just grunted, he couldn't disagree, even if he was sticking to his policy of noncommittal ambivalent interaction.

You drinking that? Speltz asked. She indicated the full cup of recaff, with a hopeful expression. Carn pushed it toward her and she accepted it gratefully, draining it quickly and letting out a satisfied sigh while visibly sinking into the chair.

"I've seen some things" she confessed. "when you have been doing this as long as I have it's inevitable, but I tell you, tonight is beyond my experience. Words in blood, that smile, not in 40 years have I seen anything quite like it. I'll not forget this night in a hurry and Emperor preserve me, I hope I never have to again.

He was fine the last time I checked you know, only a couple of hours before" she continued when no response was forthcoming from across the table. "Sitting there as usual, muttering. What could have happened within such a short space of time to drive him to do what he did? Don't think it escaped my notice that you happened to turn up around the same time, with that charm. What is it? I heard that noise you know, that keening from it, I know i didn't imagine it." Her words were coming faster and faster now as the recaff hit her system and did it's work. Her eyes blazed.

"There is something you aren't telling me, something about this whole situation that you are keeping to yourself. I can feel it, you KNOW something." She slammed a fist into the table with as much force as her aged frame could muster. "Tell me you bastard! what are you hiding?" Her voice rose in pitch, becoming strained and shrill. The guards over at the door looked over suspiciously and Carn reached out and grabbed her arm in an effort to silence her. Their eyes met.

"Trust me Doctor, when I say you are better off not knowing." Carn reached out with his other hand and placed it on top of the one holding onto the Doctors arm, turning an aggressive and restricting gesture into a comforting one. "I mean it" he added earnestly, "I could easily just say it is classified but in actuality I am sparing you by not telling you. Suffice to say, it is my burden and mine alone, the reason for me coming here is now clearly null and void and it is time for me to leave. I shall say no more." He looked at her earnestly, "You may voice your suspicions if you so desire but time is of the essence and I have much to do. I swear in the Holy Emperor's name that my motivations and aims are pure. I would ask you not to cause me any further delay. I do the Emperor's work and have tarried long enough." He released the Doctor's arm and sat back, clearly indicating she was free to act. He saw indecision and suspicion war in her eyes for a moment before she made her choice.

"Fine", she snapped. "I dont care, like I said, i've seen enough shit. Go, walk away and get on with whatever you think it is you have to do". the chair slid back with a screech on the tiled floor as she got up and stalked off to speak to some orderlies clustered in a corner.

"Thank you" Carn breathed, though he wasn't sure who he was thanking. He thumbed the Aquila in his pocket, it felt warm, comforting. "Thank you."

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

Two hours later the transport lifted into the air. Carn sent another quick message to both Ralscon and Endomaw, there was no point in secrecy. He had little hope of infiltrating Endomaw in any case. He said nothing of the psychic message to Ralscon and nothing of Larkarsky at all to the contact at Endomaw, instead only informing them of a rough ETA and making a number of small requests for his arrival. Best to keep his cards close to his chest he thought. He would offer up as little information to them as possible whilst gleaning as much as he could in return. In any event he had seven hours till he reached Endomaw (it was pretty much on the other side of Worth) and a lot of  work and investigation to do. He pored over the dataslate, analysing all the text, replaying the vidlogs and trying to find a pattern in the data. He even refrained from drinking any Skee, (though he confessed to himself that that might have been a different matter had it not been the synthesised stuff) in order to keep a clear head. He accumulated a ream of papers writing down algorithms and potential codes and ciphers that might have been used to encrypt vital information but to no avail.

"Useless," he muttered, casting the papers down on top of the dataslate. He reconsidered his abstinence, frustrated beyond belief. No, he needed to stay focused. He cast his eyes to the ceiling of the transport and exhaled deeply. A prayer to the Emperor came to mind and he closed his eyes and recited it reverently. Upon completion of the benediction he opened his eyes, calmed and centred. He looked down at the dataslates and his jaw dropped. He rubbed his eyes, not quite able to believe what he was seeing. No, it was, it had to be, there was no other possibility.

Through chance or divine intervention the papers had fallen across the activated dataslate in a way that showed exactly the first digit from each entry, what had seemed a nonsensical series of numbers and letters was suddenly revealed to be a sequence and a word.

619519 - HEART

There was no chance this was a coincidence, this had to be what Larkarsky had been referring to, but what did it mean? He wracked his memory, he had to be missing something, something that he had seen but had not grasped the significance of, but what? Time was ticking down and he was only getting closer to Endomaw, it was important that he got to the truth before he landed, he could feel it. The analytical part of his mind worked overtime as he worked on the puzzle.

"619519 - HEART, 619519 - HEART" he repeated to himself, as if each repetition would bring him closer to the solution. "Dammit Larkarsky, why did you have to be so obtuse?" even as he said the words, he knew the answer. Larkarsky had been paranoid, and with good reason, he had been compelled to hide the information as deep as possible in order to keep it from the wrong hands. Now it was up to Carn to find the answer. 619519 HEART... what did it MEAN?

Before long, the strain of analysis overtook him and he fell into a restless slumber. Inevitably thoughts of Larkarsky infiltrated his dream. A kaleidoscopic array of images and sequences rushing through his subconsciousness too fast to decipher. Too much, too much, a tidal wave of information that he could  not hope to process.  The bombardment continued as his unconscious mind attempted to compartmentalise and filter the information. Then abruptly it ceased and Larkarsky's face appeared in the darkness...

Alistae....Alistae....he taunted, his voice ethereal and lilting. Carn struck out in his dream, thrashing through Larkarsky's face which dissipated like mist, fading into the darkness and leaving only his voice....

"I thought i might write a book about this one day...."

Carn snapped awake as if he had been shaken roughly. His mind was crystal clear. He checked his chronometer, 16 minutes till arrival at Endomaw. He must have slept through the pilot's announcements, he had little time left. 'I thought i might write a book about this one day,' could it really be that simple? He rummaged around in the satchel by his feet, pulling out the other dataslate, the one full of literature. Was it pure luck that he had bought it with him? Or something else? He put such ruminations from his mind and powered up the slate. He scrolled through the meticulously organised entries, his excitement growing as he noted the filing format matched the code hidden in the indexing on the other slate. After accessing various subfolders and files he found the match. 6.195.19. Heart of the Imperium by Maximillian Vos Brynd. He stopped a moment, heart pounding as anticipation filled him, and then thumbed the access key...

Suddenly the dataslate was wrenched out of his hand as the transport was violently hurled to one side with a deafening boom.  A second followed scant moments later and Carn was launched from his seat as the shuttle lurched crazily. An alarm began to blare and red lights flashed as yet another explosion rocked the craft. A sudden loss in altitude resulted in a moment of weightlessness and he saw the dataslate lift for a moment in front of him, the text tantalisingly illegible to his blurred eyes. Then the moment passed and he crashed to the floor painfully as the shuttle plummeted in an uncontrolled spiralling dive. He groggily crawled toward the comms panel on a nearby wall, calling up the pilot's recorded log. The pilot itself showed as uncontactable, so either it had been irreparably damaged or was fully devoted to the preservation of the shuttle. Slaved into the craft's systems it could quite easily be either. Carn scanned the entries, noting with gratitude the exceptional evasive maneuvers that the pilot had performed to escape certain death. And the cause of the pilots endeavours? A missile lock, from Endomaw. So that's how it was to be, he thought. He didn't have time to think much else, a shrill tone indicated that the altitude was bottoming out and he barely had time to grab both the dataslate and the Aquila in his pocket before the shuttle hit the ground and tore itself apart in a storm of twisted metal.

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

"An accident", Persi Ralscon repeated as the screen flashed off and his dulled reflection stared back at him expressionlessly. The Endomaw Chief Administrator Geriok had been abject in his contrition, explaining that a guidance malfunction on the defence system had resulted in Prefect Carn's shuttle being erroneously targeted and destroyed. There were no survivors. Throne's sake, this was the last thing he needed. The resulting administration alone would be a nightmare, to say nothing of sending additional investigators to follow up on Carn's vague suspicions. Frankly it was becoming more hassle than it it was worth. Larkarsky had gone out there, something had happened and he had gone crazy, big deal. Carn? No big loss there, the man was an insufferable drunken arse, he'd not be missed. Ralscon could comfortably draw a nice thick line of finality under the whole thing and not have to think about it again. Yeah he could investigate further but he had no desire to, no one was going to thank him for it anyway, and he didn't want any plaudits in any case. He had no aspirations, no ambitions and no interest than doing anything more than he had to,  his mid level bureaucratic existence would do him just fine.

"Screw it", he muttered and put all of Carn's materiel and reports into a file, a quick jab of a button and it would no longer be his problem. He prepared a cursory report and sent it off to his superiors on Celias IV. It was someone else's responsibility now, good riddance. As it was he had to fill Carn's position and he hadn't even got a replacement for Larkarsky yet. Shit, he should have added the personnel requisition request to his report, now he would have to send another. His mood soured even further, if there was one thing that he hated it was unnecessary work. Day ruined, and it was all Carn's fault. He was glad the bastard was dead.








Sunday, 6 May 2018

Brotherhood of the Yellow King Chapter Five

Chapter V: Screams in the night

Once again, Carn found himself in front of the door of Larkarsky's cell in the labyrinthine Hyrk Asylum for the Demented and Insane. Wordlessly the same Doctor as before, Speltz! That was her name! unlocked the door and opened it, stepping back and fading ethereally into the darkness. Carn stepped forward into the Adept's chamber, pulling the Aquilla from his pocket and holding it in front of him. Even  though he could barely see the crouched muttering figure of the Adept ahead of him in the gloom the Aquila glinted and shone as if light were falling upon it. Carn also fancied that he heard a keening from the dangling charm but that was impossible.

Or prehaps not, for Larkarsky's head snapped up instantly. He stood, cocking his head like a bird and advanced on Carn, emerging from the gloom. Carn stepped back but the door had closed behind him. He wanted to turn but couldn't take his eyes off of Larkarsky, stepping jerkily toward him with his arm outstretched like some kind of undead horror. He backed up against the door holding the Aquila charm ahead of him like an offering whilst steeling himself to defend against any attack.

Instead, Larkarsky stopped just in front of Carn. His eyeless sockets glowed like burning embers, and he straightened, regarding the pinned Prefect. He reached for the dangling charm, still shining in Carn's grip but instead of taking it, pushed it back towards Carn's chest.

"Keep it Alistae, you will need it more than I" Larkarsy's voice resonated in Carn's skull, permeating his very mind and echoing through his brain. "Much work lies ahead of you, you must discover the truth, the truth of the Yellow King" He smiled beatifically, stepping back and dipping his head before raising it again. The embers blazed with new fury.

"They are coming, I can feel them, in my head, in my soul. They scratch and scream and writhe."  His mouth approximated sorrow. "I was too weak, Emperor forgive me. I was too weak at the time. Now I am more prepared. Yet, even now, my time grows short. I wish I could tell you more, but they are listening, they have been since the start. They are in my head you know, did I mention that?" He tapped his temple for emphasis

Carn, could do little more than nod dumbly, he gripped the chain tightly, his knuckles white as Larkarsky continued;

"I have faith in you Alistae, i know you will succeed. You are looking in the right place, the answer is there. I believe you will find the answer before you reach Endomaw, I was so close, too close. I have left clues in my logs, find them. Find them and save us all. You MUST uncover the truth about the Yellow King! I have faith in you" he repeated. "I know you will succeed, the Emperor Protects, Alistae. He protects us all."

Carn nodded again, he tried to say something but could not form the words. Why could he not speak? This all seemed so unreal.

Larkarsy turned his head abruptly, sensing something. "We are out of time Alistae, I knew it would not take long, but I had to take the risk, you understand?" Carn didn't but Larkarsky continued regardless; "It is up to you now, this task falls to you, and with that, I am free. Thank you Alistae, thank you for coming back for me, may the Emperor watch over you." The beatific smile returned and suddenly there was a knife in his hand. He drew it across his throat sharply. The light in his eye sockets went out.

Carn flinched, but instead of the gush of bright arterial blood there was nothing, just a yawning expanse as Larkarsky's head tilted back. He was still smiling. Carn stared in revulsion as yellow writhing tentacles emerged from the ruin of his neck, expanding and writhing and reaching. Now Carn found a voice, and that voice was a scream.

He was still screaming when he awoke. He was reclining in a comfortable chair on the shuttle. A glass rested on its side on the table from where he had upset it when he started. The remnants of its contents tricked onto the floor via Carn's leg. Carn ignored it, it was the cheap synthesised stuff anyway. The dreams were getting worse. There was no denying it. Always the yellow tentacles, not only in his dreams either. The nightmarish images were infiltrating his waking thoughts too. It was getting stronger the closer he got to Endowmaw. He pulled the compact Autopistol from his chest holster and checked that it was fully loaded. It was a high powered custom model, packing more stopping power than a standard issue Autopistol at the cost of a slower firing rate. In actuality, it was more like a mini bolt pistol than anything else, finished in a brushed dark gunmetal with crimson finials and etched grip. Like all good guns it had a name and this was etched along the casing 'Furore Imperatoris' Emperor's Fury. It was a good solid gun and it had been a long time since it had been fired.

Carn had retrieved it from his desk drawer upon his return to the administratum building. Deftly avoiding Ralscon, (though he had left a conciliatory message updating his earlier report) he had feverishly grabbed as many supplies as he could, casting furtive glances at the shadows. He had then booked a transport shuttle and left, charting a route via Hyrk to Endowmaw. Now he was no more than an hour from the Asylum and as the monotonous tones of the cybernetic pilot confirmed this fact he sat up and reached for the satchel at the side of his seat.

It had seemed so REAL, more so than any other dream. His head still swam and he was dizzy and disorientated. He also had a headache, a pounding pressure in his skull that made him wince. Worse, still, he could feel something trickling from his nose and wiping his hand across the liquid saw it was a deep crimson. That couldn't be good.  Shakily he withdrew the dataslates from the satchel. He'd already reviewed the final log. It had contained nothing of note, just more of Larkarsky's exhaustively detailed prose and further meetings with Ganvan Seris which had left the Adept even more unsettled than before. His final audio log had similarly suggested little more than a more defined unease, though he would not specify the source of it. He'd ended the vidlog with a comment that something was very wrong in Endowmaw and that he should write a book about it some day. A somewhat more sardonic comment than Carn had expected to be honest. He put this down to Larkarsky's state of mind. The man was clearly extremely disturbed and agitated, his anxiety was clear to see

Even so, there was no denying that there was something he was missing. Perhaps his dream was his subconscious telling him this, he had certainly been rattled of late. Maybe his mind was playing tricks on him. There was so much still to do, so many mysteries still to be solved. He went back over his notes and the latest few logs, both written and video. However, despite analysing each passage and even going over the videos frame by frame he still could discern or glean no further information. He  went as far as to watch one of them backwards in the hope of uncovering a hidden message even as he chided himself for being so naive. Nothing.

He sighed and abandoned his studying as he noticed the drone of the engines turn into a pitched whine, indicating that the shuttle was beginning its descent. Right on cue the pilot announced their imminent arrival at Hyrk. Carn hastily gathered up the dataslates, stuffing them back into the satchel before fastening it. He just about had time to tidy himself up a little before the shuttle landed and he swiftly chartered a ground transport to take him to the Asylum. He became lost in thought as the coach proceeded up the rickety darkened path the the asylum, recalling his bizarre dream and Larkarsky's words. He was suddenly jolted from his reverie as the coach ground to a halt at his destination. He hadn't noticed that it had started raining and he was quite soaked by the time he reached the large door. His approach had not gone unnoticed however and he was greeted before he had a chance to knock. He smiled to hide the unease he felt when he saw who was behind the door.

"Doctor Speltz, good evening" he nodded and was rewarded with a flash of a return smile as he was ushered in by the aged psychiatrist. The door eased to a close behind him and he stood in a small puddle as the rainwater dripped off of his overcoat onto the tiled floor. He removed it, grateful for the sudden reduction in weight, and hung it carefully on a nearby rack while grasping the satchel in his other hand. He ran his hand through his wet hair and gratefully accepted the towel that Speltz proffered. Drying himself he followed the Doctor as she headed for Larkarsky's cell with purpose and swift steps despite her hunched posture. Carn hurried to catch up, tossing the damp towel onto a nearby gurney. He left a trail of droplets as he walked, his boots squelching slightly in time with his hurried footsteps.

"So how goes your investigation Prefect?" she asked without looking back, "and what brings you back here? Surely you don't think you'll be able to get anything more from Mr Larkarsky?" Her voice echoed slightly, they were not yet deep enough into the asylum to hear anything of the inmates.

Carn waited till he had closed the distance to a couple of foot before answering, "Indeed no Doctor, I am actually here on a personal errand. A mission of conscience if you will. My visit will not last long  I assure you. I have urgent business in Endomaw that I cannot delay for long. As with regards to my investigation I am afraid that is classified. All I can say is it is proceeding. Endomaw is the next step. I can tell you no more." He paused as they negotiated a winding set of steps.  "How has Larkarsky been?"

"Calmer," she admitted, "I would hesitate to say improved, he is still mostly non responsive, withdrawn, but i have noticed a stillness about him that we have not observed before. I find it unlikely that he will ever leave. It is unfortunate but perhaps a mercy, the man inside is still very much lost." Her voice was drowned out by maniacal laughter, screams and wails, and nothing more was said until they got to Larkarsky's cell.

"What was it you wanted anyway?" Speltz asked as she fumbled through the heavy bundle of keys at the end of a chain attached to her waist, tutting as she sometimes missed a key in her search. Her hands shook slightly, making her task that much harder.

Carn opened the satchel and removed the Aquila charm, shaking it free of its chain and allowing it to dangle from his hand. "Just to return this" he admitted, "I felt that he should have it. I'm not sure why, it just seemed important. " He shrugged, "It's hardly going to help him, it just seemed the right thing to do" Speltz looked up as she finally located the right key, her face was sympathetic and sorrowful.

"You might be surprised", she said softly, just about audible over the backround soundtrack of the hopelessly insane. "I'm sure he will appreciate it, even if he cannot express it. As I said, he has been... " her words turned to a strangled gasp as she wrenched the door open and she crashed to her knees, bringing a trembling hand to her gaping mouth.

Wordlessly, Carn stepped past her. With careful footsteps he walked over to the body in the middle of the floor. Larkarsky was on his back, a beatific smile plastered across his features. His throat was raggedly cut, a sharp sliver of stone in his hand the obvious cause. Blood pooled around his body, sticky and deep crimson. Though sightless, his expression was one of utter contentment and peace. He actually looked happy. Suddenly the charm shone in Carn's hand,  glinting strongly despite the absence of a significant light source to cause such a reflection. In the increased illumination granted by the Aquila he could see that beyond the pool surrounding Larkarsy's body something was written, something red. He stooped and held the gleaming charm over the words. A chill ran across his body as he read the message in blood.

CARN FLAVO REX  VERUM

Carn, Yellow, King, Truth.

Below that was a crudely drawn Aquila, the bloody smears fading out at the wing tips. Carn stood up again and sadly regarded poor Larkarsky and his final message hastily scrawled in his own lifeblood. He fancied that he could hear a keening from the charm but as his shock faded and reality reasserted himself he realised that the noise was actually Speltz who apparently had remembered or discovered how to scream. Carn stood there reeling, as the Doctors despair and horror blended with the wails of the myriad patients. He recited a prayer for the dead Adept, and then turned and left the cell, passing the doctor without a glance. He leaned against a wall and stared intently at the suddenly quiescent charm as he was left with his own thoughts and screams in the night.













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.