Legerdemain - Mission Log

Prologue

“Are Raptor ready?”
Inquisitor Grendel lounged in his private offices above Desoleum, his de-facto home after the events below. Three months of after-action reports and lodged paperwork had kept him here chasing leads, performed by his personal scribes, and Interrogator King knew he was eager to move on as soon as possible. She stood slightly straighter as she responded:
“Last report has most of them still in Port Aquila. Coldo I believe is still here on Desoleum, assisting the Admech in cleaning up some heretek gangs and Silens has spent the whole six months with her private confessor. I do believe she killed the man, as well as many of his bodyguards, after discovering some indiscretion. Davrus has recovered from his injuries and as you well know has just returned from the ‘Emperor’s Song’. Gallach and Gavriel are still unaccounted for, will those three be enough?”
The Inquisitor looked over the somewhat depleted roster on his data-slate before nodding.
“They’ll have to be. Have Davrus informed of his private assignment.”
“Yes Inquisitor. Now my pardon but this mission-“
“It is odd there is no doubt”, interrupted Grendel curtly, “but Inquisitor Fallon is of importance to my work in Askellon and I would cede one hundred acolyte cells to him if it gained me his allegiance.”
King bowed slightly out of deference and apology: “Of course Master, I will gather them at once. I’m sure they will relish the chance to serve again.”


Mission Log


Entry 1: Many Masters

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[The Cell search the crashed lander]

"Check it," said Davrus, levelling his rifle at the corpse. Exposed to the airless surface by a broken visor, the body had been turned partially inside out, like a deflated soufflé overflowing it's pan. Flipped from it's face-down position, the withered body pulled free clumps of earth, frozen into the solid puddle of decomposing flesh. Faintly visible beneath the grit, a Rosette stood out among the the faded filigree.

[Forming Alliances]
Kappa Station reverberated under the sonic pressure of starship traffic, the thunder of orbit-breaker slipstreams shuddering through the steel underfoot. Moving innocuously through the crowds at passport control, the operatives of Raptor Cell shuffled towards their meeting point, summoned by an urgent message. Davrus, Coldo and Silens would reunite for the first time in months, still notably missing their comrades Gavriel and Gallach. Reconvening at an out-of-the way square in a disused quarter, they were surprised to meet Interrogator King in person. The grim-faced King dispatched them to an outlying system, a research colony attached to an abnormal star. There they would seek the favour of the reclusive Ordo Malleus researcher Fallon, one of only a handful of Inquisitors in the entirety of Askellon.

Cruising the established warp-routes aboard the Emerald Heart, their untroubled travel provided ample opportunity to furnish their identities as Grox-product traders. It was a deception each operative fully embraced, and was duly accepted by the Port Authority when they arrived appropriately attired at Juno. Transit to the distant XKG-530 would prove more difficult, and they reluctantly accepted passage with the worryingly curious Captain Zhou. His 100-soul vessel Ebony Spear is a tiny sprint trader, able to divert its course by a few days. But the lesser-known space surrounding XKG-530 is turbulent, and the Cell are often shaken awake in their bunks. On one such evening, emergency systems flickered suddenly to life, bathing the cabin in red light. Peering through the porthole into the corridor, a slouching figure shuffled ever closer to the cabin door, it’s features distorting as it rasped Davrus’ name.

The heavy door jarred inward under its fists, splitting and corroding before their eyes. Their weapons clutched tightly, the acolytes unloaded into the widening gap, splattering innards and bodyparts back into the corridor. But the creature came on, more flesh sliced loose as it jammed itself through the jagged cleft. Drizzling blood and bile, the ragged skeleton clawed across the room towards the newly-bound Astropath, but was struck into sizzling halves by Censura. Moments later, peering wide-eyed through the rusting breach, Captain Zhou appeared from the bridge, and invited the victors to dinner.

With little appetite after the gristly display, the acolytes pick at the lavish food and evade Zhou’s insistent questions. Though frustrated, he consents to continue the journey and they soon arrive at XKG-530. The stations’ doors hang open to the void, its exterior defences and systems idle and power reduced to a low ebb. Advancing through the corridors, they edge around a slew of decomposing bodies, riddled with bullets or with stab wounds to the back.. At the security centre, records reveal that roughly half the station’s security officers had slain their fellows, plundered the station armoury and pursued a small group in shuttles to the surface of the airless planet below. Several of the mutineers had exhibited sagging facial features, and the Cell concluded they had been in disguise.

Jumped by arachnoid xenoforms nesting on the flight deck, the acolytes battle towards the last remaining shuttle and take up the chase. They are buffeted by grit as they descend, forced to land the damaged flier and disgorge it’s buggy onto a mazelike surface of volcanic fissures. After many days of fruitless searching, they finally discover Inquisitor Fellon – his arcane treasures stripped, his defenders slain, and his lifeforce utterly drained by a biomantic attack. Puzzled, they contact Interrogator King who reveals that Inquisitor Fellon is reportedly alive and active on Burrard II, an Imperial world recently troubled by civil war.

Their only clue is the shuttle’s registration code, linking it to one of several suspect vessels the Kuon O'Lor, Knight of Lillies and Kingdom of Light voidships. Yet the pressing need is to investigate the impostor on Burrard, and Davrus agrees to place Captain Zhou on retainer to his family in exchange for passage. In the face of what they knew would be close scrutiny at the naval blockade, the acolytes are also forced to trade away their newly acquired shuttle and buggy, agreeing to play along with Zhou’s usual cover-story of a regular supply run carrying luxury goods. Donning foulweather coats against the winter winds, the acolytes watch sleet beading in the portholes as their conveyer descends onto Burrard.


Entry 2: Fog of War

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[The assault begins]

The Acolytes dropped the last foot or so from the shuttle door, splattering mud over their heavy boots. With a crisp hiss, they broke the seals on their helmets, breathing deeply of air that was thick with the fumes of gunpowder, jet fuel and unwashed soldiers. The staccato crack of firing squads, the sizzle of promethium cookfires and the growl of distant artillery surrounded them, gusting back and forth on the sleety winds. Surveying the landing site, Coldo nodded slightly, an uncharacteristic outburst of approval. "This," he said cautiously, his expression stony. "This is good place. Is like home."

[False Inquisitor]
Having changed hands frequently during Burrard II's war, the spaceport is weathered and scarred by many battles. Orbital control is a sunken structure, protected by enclosing bunkers and trenchworks with the surrounding camp spilling off the edges into the war-torn city. The Acolytes are met on the windswept airstrip, hustled out of the open by a Squire of the Juno Sovereign Guard. Led through the camp by the recruit, the Cell skeptically eyed his regiment, noting well-glossed boots, clean gold breastplates and factory-fresh rifles. If these were the Capital's reinforcements, they remarked to themselves, the war could prove a good deal longer.

Reaching Central Command, they were led into an underground facility and brought to report before General Fethrop. The jowly career officer alluded to an ongoing tension between himself and the Supreme Commander of Burrard's forces, and clearly hoped to rope them in to his political games. But Davrus was ready with his cover-story as a Munitorum Quaestor, and the General's eyes glazed over in disinterest. Shooed out of the bunker, the Acolytes walked the camp freely, protected by their fresh Munitorum passes.

The Munitorum cover enables them to access shipping records and manifests from a dingy office, quickly confirming the arrival of the Knight of Lillies with an unrecorded cargo. Less welcome is the discovery that the false Inquisitor had been privy to strategic intelligence, attending war-council meetings before commandeering a Valkyrie for enemy-controlled territory. Their questioning brings them to the attention of Supreme Commander Altius, who has been briefed by Interrogator King on the Cell's arrival. Unaware that Fallon had been an impostor, he 'continues to assist the Inquisition' by providing the Cell with a Chimera and re-ordering his assaults to mask their passage northward.

Days later within a chimera nicknamed 'Iron Coffin' the Cell stands side by side with members of the Burrard PDF. The blue chimera trundles forward as part of a massive offensive as dozens of armoured vehicles and thousands of men rush towards the secessionist trench lines. As artillery soars overheard and air units trade fire overhead the Iron Coffin smashes through enemy lines, burning those who stand in its way with its heavy flamer. The armoured assault utterly breaks the defensive line of the enemy and while the rest of the tanks circle around to assist the infantry assault the lone chimera holding the Cell moves on towards no-mans land and their target far beyond it.

The chimera travels across no mans land, dodging enemy patrols and driving over the skulls and defensive positions abandoned in the years of war. The men don respirators as the tank passes through clouds of virus gas and the odour of disease fills their nostrils. After a full day of travel the chimera runs into trouble, an undetected anti-tank mine heavily damaging the treads and letting out a resounding boom that echoes across the silence of no mans land. The Cell sets up defensive positions, assisted by the Burrard PDF scout that accompanied the tank. Sure enough in a few minutes the enemy arrives, red stained clothes worn beneath heavy iron armour. Coldo opens up with his heavy stubber, slaughtering dozens of the enemy as they rush forward and sending the rest into cover. Silens rushes forward with her powersword crackling, cutting down enemy leaders as they charge forward with their heavy chain axes. Vox units are silenced by Davrus as he uses his psychic powers at range to crush priority targets.

But the traitorous forces of Burrard are not entirely kept out of the fight. The Iron Coffin pintle gunner is cut down by las fire and her tech-adept blown away by a frag grenade tossed when a squad rushed the chimera from behind. The Cell falls back to the chimera and as the remaining PDF soldiers repair the tank they burn away from the massing forces of the enemy. Travelling for the rest of the day the tank stops once again, the surviving crew holding a quick funeral for the three members of the crew who died in the attack. The driver's senses were entirely burned out by the anti-tank mine and he too is buried after succumbing to his wounds. With only three Burrard PDF soldiers remaining the Cell steps up, Coldo manning the top stubber and Silens operating the heavy flamer on the front of the tank. Battered and on a skeleton crew the Iron Coffin pushes onwards through the sludge of Burrard's six year war towards the False Inquisitor.


Entry 3: Splinter

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[The ruins of Burrard Prime]

Crouching in the tree-line surrounding the 'Diadem Museum for the Bizarre' in the highest mountains of the Silverpeak range. They watched figures moving about below unaware that they were being surveilled.
"Coldo. Whats the plan?".
Hefting his heavy weapon Coldo feigned thought for a second, rubbing his broad chin while sniggering to himself.
"I think we shoot it. Shoot it until dead".

[Behind Enemy Lines]
Onwards. Leman Russ.

Blast through patrol. Past horrible shit.

Climb up mountain, arrive at museum.

Try to kill guards, they are spawn. Kill them, Coldo gets ambushed inside by False Inquisitor.

Kill False Inquisitor and enemy psyker. Find sliver of space hulk that had corrupted the governor.

Back to army camp. Contact King, Altius is stoked. Imperium is gaining ground. Leaving on Ebony Spear back to Juno to meet with King.

M41.816 After almost seven years of war the secessionists on Burrard are brought to heel. It's new Governor Fethrop declares the planet part of the Imperium once again before conscripting most of its surviving population into the newly formed 'Burrard Penitent Legion' of Imperial Guardsmen.

Epilogue

Nearly a month later at Juno the Cell meets with Inquisitor Sabela, the pupil of Fallon. She is taking over the case of the 'Skinmolder' as well as the evidence collected on Burrard II. Sabela gives to them a series of antique knives, a gift from her former mentor, and agrees to meet with their Inquisitor when he arrives at Juno. The weeks pass quickly after this, Davrus earning standing with his family after the Ebony Spear is turned into one of their primary sprint vessels. It's small size near unique in the Askellon sector it is seized from him immediately to be used by the family, but the Patriarch knows who secured the vessel. Coldo meanwhile accepts a job from General Altius of the Burrard PDF, forming into the core elite regiment of what would later become the Burrard Penitent Legion. Some weeks after their arrival on Juno the Cell would reform.

As the ‘Ebony Spear’ pulls into orbit around Burrard II far away two men face each other in an abandoned street. Dust blows past, a ball of local spiked vegetation drifting along on the breeze, unaware of the events taking place around it. The two men are perfectly still, each with a hand inches above a holstered heavy barrelled pistol. Beneath respirators, a necessity in the sands of Hrax, the two men frown. They had both come to the world with support, one with hired mercenaries and the other psyc-enslaved criminals. They were long dead now, put in the ground days ago as the two groups clashed beneath the baking sun. And now the two men face each other. As fast as the eye can see the man wearing a worn and tattered naval coat goes for his pistol, while his duster coat clad opponent draws from his cloak a small black object…

At Juno weeks later Interrogator King waits in a dingy rented room to meet with Silens and Davrus. At her side stands Gallach, wounds still fresh from the surgery he sustained a month past. The Interrogator pulls three dossier from her embroidered coat and lays them on a nearby table.
“Your active leave is over, the Inquisition’s work needs doing”.


Appendices

Persons of Note

The Cell:

  • Interrogator King: Noblewoman who rose to prominence in the assets of Inquisitor Grendel after betraying her family's potentially heretical business dealings. Transferred to Askellon alongside Grendel as one of his only Interrogators.
  • Davrus Octavius: Born to a noble house of divining information brokers, Davrus and his family have been under scrutiny by the Inquisition for decades making his candidacy as an Acolyte an obvious choice. After the departure of Gavriel he stepped up to become the leader of Raptor Cell.
  • Coldo: Former Naval Spetznaz from wartorn Terminus, specialises in brutal close-quarter tactics and understated humour. Has recently developed a taste for heavy weapons.
  • Silens Iras: From the feudal world of Hrax, Silens was once under the tutelage of the Adeptus Soritas before falling in with the Inquisition. A null, she wears the plate amour of an ancient Soritas and wields her sanctified sword with prestigious skill.

Imperial Authorities:

  • Inquisitor Grendel: The Inquisitor in charge of Cell Raptor, a mysterious and powerful man who has only recently arrived in the Askellon Sector. No-one in Cell Raptor has ever seen or spoken to Grendel, doing most of his work through his Agent Interrogator King.
  • Inquisitor Fallon: An ancient and reclusive Inquisitor who has been in Askellon long before the rest of the segmentum began to pay close attention to it. He is a known expert of daemonic matters, and is considered an oddity as an Ordo Malleus inquisitor who asks questions first.
  • General Fethrop: A noble from Juno and second in command of the forces on Burrard II. Generally unpleasant to all those he considers below him and some above.
  • General Altius: A career soldier who made a name for himself as the leader of the Burrard II resistance during the Summer Uprising. He wears a simple unadorned uniform and the scarred face of a man who has made violence his life’s work.

Persona:

  • Captain Eckhert: Young lady who commands the ‘Emerald Heart’. Forty standard Terran years old, how she gain captainship is a mystery to many of her crew.
  • Captain Zhou: A tall and thin older man with a long and whispy white beard. He wears a gold plated scimitar on his hip from his long career in the navy. Zhou used his navy retirement and a generous stipend from a former commander to purchase the Ebony Spear.
  • Father Killervo: A War-Priest serving on Burrard II.

Organisations

  • 'The Ebony Spear': A crew of about 100, the Ebony Spear's crew are fanatically loyal to their captain, Zhou, and almost all ex-navy officers or armsmen.
  • The Juno Sovereign Guard: Made entirely of nobles from Juno, the Sovereign guard are considered a joke by less refined combat units, but their prowess on the battlefield is no joke.
  • Burrard PDF: Veterans of the five year 'Summer Uprising', the Burrard PDF are grizzled veterans hardened in the fires of civil war.

Locations

  • Port Aquila: A series of asteroids and space stations loosely held together as 'Port Aquila'. A centre of commerce in the Askellon sector, this is where most of the Acolytes has spent their generously allocated three months of Active Leave.
  • Kappex Orbital: The systems main spaceport and source of much of its underhanded dealings and smuggling. It is a massive space station that sits in geostationary anchor above Desoleum Primus.
  • Juno: The sector capital and seat of ancient power in the Askellon sector. It is a planet of lime green oceans and glittering towering hive spires.
  • XKG-530: A desert world of little interest to almost anyone. With no atmosphere or natural life beyond void-worms the planets only point of interest is a small space station in orbit above it.
  • Burrard II: Second planet of the Burrard system, it was a civilised world before in M41.810 a civil war known as the "Summer Uprising" began. After 5 years of civil war Imperial forces landed in M41.815 and have been fighting a battle against the secessionists ever since.
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