The Cabal

M41.819-823 A Tumultuous Time: Known only to a select few, the year of 819 in the 41st millenium was filled with chaos the like of which Askellon had rarely seen. The year drew to a close with the assassination of the Lord Inquisitor of the sector, Witch-Hunter Sprion Hark, by a rogue Inquisitor on the run from justice. The sudden death of the face of the Inquisition resulted in a swell of heretical behaviour from all corners, plunging the sector into a new era of uncertainty. Arbite and PDF forces are bolstered by funds from the Adeptus Administratum to combat these newly unearthed threats, with many civilised worlds turning into miniature warzones the like of Necromunda.

After the death of Lord Inquisitor Spiron Hark the Askellon Sector falls into disarray. The events of recent years has lead to massive militaries operating across the sector and with the death of the sector's most famed Inquisitor these are soon put to work putting down thousands of heretical cults and schemes that pop up, emboldened by the loss.

During this time the few Inquisitors that remain in Askellon have their hands full, destroying heretics where they can be found and struggling to maintain order. The warband of Inquisitor Grendel spread out to try and piece together the information they have about the Patternari Cabal, the group of Inquisitors said to be behind much of the system's recent strife. Cell Medusa go their seperate ways to follow leads, dealing with the unstable sector as they do so.


M41.820


War Wounds

The Fury Untold rests after the battle above Gregorn

Lacking the hustle-bustle of 19,000 souls the hallways of the Fury seem empty. The odd armsman patrol makes their way around but with most of their crew on shore leave for the better party of six months the ship seems an empty shell of her former glory. Only the Hub has activity, the acolytes and agents of Inquisitor Grendel still working away at the mystery that had plagued them for the better part of five years.

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After nearly a year of constant warp travel the Fury Untold settles into the shipyards above Juno. For a standard Terran year the ship stays in high dock as it's crew receive some well earned rest. The wounds from the battle above Gregorn are patched by teams of void-servitors and work crews, whole massive armour plates replaced and holes covered in a process that takes months. The crew are given leave on the planet below as the command team rest in the palaces and spires of the Askellon Capital. New crew are recruited to replace losses and fresh bridge crew undergo the extreme psychic and mental vetting processes. The armoury is repaired after the Mek-Ork explosion under the watchful eye of Rune-Priest Artikos, replacement to the late Armello who was lost during the Ork attack on the Fury. His is accompanied by Quartermaster Quartermain, a jovial man who finds everything except jokes about his name funny.

As the year draws to a close the Fury Untold prepares for combat status once again. Crew are recalled from the planet surface, often at gunpoint by the ship's bosun, and drills begin aboard the ship. New crew undergo training alongside their veteran colleagues and in the medical wing Tonya Chevar gives all crew their fugue shots. As 820 draws to a close the Fury, wounded as she was, is ready to serve once again.


Recruiting

Gallach returns Cell Medusa to full strength

After the Ork attack above Gregorn, Gallach sees to returning Cell Medusa to full strength. Void funerals for Doc, Patrick and the Enginseer had robbed the cutter of its crew and Gallach of many of his assets. As the Fury Untold makes anchor high above Juno and begins repairs he sets to recruiting allies. First he seeks a new pilot from among the Imperial Navy and an Enginseer from the planet's surface. The pilot, Ensign Nimm, he finds serving as a lower officer aboard a defensive platform and offers her a chance to fly again. The ambitious young woman accepts with gratitude. While inspecting a medicae facility dealing with a minor outbreak of the Killing Smile virus he finds an Tech Adept, Cil-848, who agrees to come on as a private medicae as well as take responsibility as Enginseer of the gun-cutter. During this time Gallach also attempts to recruit an Imperial Guardsman to form his personal retinue. Failing to find an appropriate candidate in Juno's sovereign guard regiments he searches among the shock troopers of Vouxis Prime when the troop carrier Emperor's Benediction docks above Juno. An assault trooper named Tarl Zarath is picked from among the troops, as much for his feral world loyalty as his combat abilities. He swears an oath to protect Gallach and serve him as best he can. Finally, the null Ludek who was recruited on Gregorn is also formally inducted into the Inquisition. He is given training and equipped to serve as part of Cell Medusa.


Jaundice

The Cell unites to hunt down a lead

The hired gun-thugs stood perfectly still, autoguns and stub rifles raised and aimed as the three figures walked right past them. Nearly a dozen men perfectly frozen while their eyes dart and panic. One of the three figures peels off to maintain his control over the men, his duster coat flipping backwards as he pulls out a lho stick and begins to smoke.

The two figures move forwards as Summoner Laevin plays his final card. Pulling forth a glass orb filled with a menacing green smoke he smashes the orb on the ground, stepping backwards as the smoke begins to manifest. The green smoke solidifies into a creature of nightmares. Green-brown skin is thick with red wounds that ooze pus and give off a repulsive odor. Yellow teeth fill a gaping maw that smiles like a desecrated baby. The daemon manifests, the room going cold at its presence and the food for five blocks spoiling in an instant. And almost as quickly as it appeared it is gone. Fire so bright it hurts the eyes erupts where the foul creature stands. As Summoner Laevin staggers back from the light the figures walk through the ash where the daemon stood so briefly.

One stops as reaches the ash, hand still grasping a glowing Aquila, while the other continues. Drawing an ornate bolt pistol, he puts a single round through Laevin’s leg as he tries to flee. The Summoner cries in pain as the last figure approaches him, pulling off a black carapace helmet and looking into the fallen man’s eyes.

Pressing his smoking bolt pistol against Laevin’s temple the man speaks. “Two months ago you sold an amulet of protection to a man named Jaundice.”
Stunned Laevin looks up at him in confusion. “An amulet?”
“An amulet.”
“This is about an amulet?”
“You’ll die for your dozen other heresies ‘summoner’ but this is about an amulet. Tell me what I want to know and I’ll give you a bolt round now. Lie and you’ll meet the flesh-smiths of the Inquisition”.
Laevin’s blusters and cries as he tries to drag himself away from the man, blood oozing from his stump leg. The final figure, bionic eyes showing no emotion, steps forward after him and raises his pistol…

In the underhives of Juno Gallach chases a lead on the whereabouts of Goldspire's unknown acolyte. Believing the man to be operating under the alias 'Jaundice' Gallach follows leads deep into the underhive to a man named Laevin. Laevin is a heretic in his own right, a daemonologist who sells his services to the highest bidder. In a dilapidated manor house below the hive he sells trinkets and weapons of a heretical nature of cold traders and arcanists across the sector. And, most notable, had recently sold an item to a man named Jaundice.

Having only arrived on Juno months earlier, Gallach gathers Cell Medusa from their allocated leave and hits the Summoner with force. Obliterating his mercenary army and dispelling his conjured daemons they interrogate the man and discover the location of the man they call 'Jaundice'. Jaundice is a minor noble in the Desoleum elite, a warp peddler of very little significance and certainly not Goldspire's mysterious unknown acolyte. Gallach passes the investigation to Interrogator Castus who infiltrates his household and passes down charges in the early part of M41.822. A heretic is brought to justice but the servants of the Patternari remain evasive.

From here the agents of Cell Medusa would splinter, following their own leads to try and determine the goal and location of the Patternari Cabal.


Faith Found Wanting

Hayl uncovers hubris and heresy within the Ecclesiarchy

In the ancient and rotting archives on the capital world of Juno, Lazarus Hayl committed himself to a full year of red-eyed research into the Angel of Thule. Alas, such was not to be. Embolded by the passing of Lord Hark, the Arch-Cardinal Harus of the sector synod had renewed his proselytising to a significant degree - his once warnings of the end becoming unrelenting proverbs of doomsaying and heresy against the Imperial Creed. Across the Basilica of Valerius Risen the voice of Harus pierces the weak and frightened minds of the masses, turning millions from the light of the God-Emperor. Unable to let such a gross miscarriage of justice to exist a moment longer, Hayl abandoned his research and made for the Basilica at once, a prayer to the saviour of manking upon his lips. Utilising his superluminal knowledge of the Ecclesiarchy Hayl is able to easily enter the ranks of the Synod, joining the stave-wielding Ardentii Zealots who round up the unfaithful and herd them to captive sermons in mighty chambers. Safely within the Basilica proper, Hayl waits for his chance to strike out at the wayward Arch-Cardinal…

Prostrate before a gilded statue, Harus touches his forehead to the cool, marble floors.
"Grant me strength, oh founder, oh father, oh faithful - grant me the strength to lead them from the false-light of Terra and into your welcoming bosom."
Raising his head, Harus observed the mighty edifice before him. A full 50 feet tall, cast entirely in resplendent gold, the towering statue of Saint Valerius holds aloft a spear in one hand and an open scroll of parchment in the other. The Faith and the Fury, muses Harus. One must be prepared to met out both if one is to be truly divine. The large-bodied Cardinal touches his forehead to the floor once more, mentally going over his prepared sermon for the evening address. The faithful had managed to break into the vox-casters of Vesuna Regis, the capital hive of Juno, allowing his message to reach a billion more lost souls seeking guidance. I shall convert them all, he promises the effigy of Saint Valerius. Together, we shall cast off the shackles of the false-god and embrace the new.
Standing to his feet on creaking knees, the Cardinal hobbles over to his lectern, speaking aloud the open passage on the thickly bound tome it holds.
"And so it came to pass that Valerius, Saviour of Askellon, Founder of Faith, and Father of the Synod, was declared Saint. Not by the assumed powers of Terra, but by his own volition and innate divinity."
A voice from the shadows of the chamber causes Harus to start, spluttering on his own words.
"Thou shalt have no other saviour but I - thou shalt worship none other than I - for I am the God-Emperor of Mankind, and my word is divine."
"Who speaks!" shouts the old man, his cataract-strewn eyes searching the gloom. He gropes under the lectern for the concealed bolt-pistol.
"Looking for this?" enquires the voice, as the pistol is carelessly tossed from the shadows, it's frame melted and twisted beyond use.
"Show yourself, villian!" demands Harus, his voice stuttering and catching in trepidation. "Face me! Who dares address me thusly?"
"I dare"
Striding from the darkness comes a figure dressed in a broad-brimmed hat topped by a thick black belt of grox-leather, casting shadows over a long brown duster which reaches almost to the ground. Calf-high boots clack against the stonework as he treads towards Harus, his icy gaze never breaking, locked onto the Cardinal like a hawk. With a gesture the figure summons a nimbus of roiling flame in one hand, the fire illuminating his face. Harus wails and steps back, turning to flee but tripping over his own robes and sprawling on the marble. Tears streaming down his cheeks, he comes to his knees and clasps his hands together, pleading.
"Please. Tell me what you want. I… I can give you thrones, or… or blessings? Please, spare me, spectre!"
Reaching the blubbering cardinal, the figure reaches out with his un-engulfed hand, grasping the man by his jowls.
"I'm going to ask this once: Do you repent all that you have done, and disavow any utterance of heresy you have made?"
Wailing pathetically Harus answers "Yes. Yes. A thousand times yes. I repent. I disavow. Please. Grant me mercy."
Cradling the fat man's face, the figure leans in closer.
"Fear not, Harus. The Emperor forgives you"
The cardinal sobs, a moment of hope in his eyes, dashed the second the figure raises his enflamed hand over Harus' face.
"I do not"
Hours later, when the Ardentii arrive to escort the Arch-Cardinal to his address, they find Harus bonded to the now melted statue of Saint Valerius, runnels of gold dripping down the blackened and charred corpse of the heretical agitator. Meanwhile, Lazrus Hayl returns to the archives, his mind clear to pursue the coming calamity which faces Askellon…


A New Life

Gavriel goes undercover to hunt

After assisting Gallach with the Jaundice investigation Gavriel Zane would set off on a secret mission. Decided by the old friends during many hushed conversations aboard the Fury Untold Gavriel would go on Gallach's orders to hunt a target who had thus far eluded even the most daring and talented of the Inquisition: the mysterious Awoken - lost Inquisitor of the Ordo Xenos and confidant of Caprican Malachi.

Gavriel would begin his investigations in a most unconventional manner, acquiring official papers of discharge from the employ of Inquisitor Grendel and the Inquisition. The records would show that Gavriel Zane was found wanting in ability and subject to mind-erasure by his former Inquisitor, cast-out from the Ordos to live a life of servitude to the Astropathic Choir on the mining world of Pellene in the Stygies Cluster. In truth a surrogate took the place of Gavriel - an Astropath of minor note acquired by Grendel and imbued with an artificial recreation of Gavriel's personality and memory. Freed from his bonds, Gavriel would undertake months of training, moulding his flesh for far longer than even the most mad of biomancers would dare. A new man with a fabricated past hand-crafted by the mind of Interrogator Castus stood where Gavriel once did, shortly thereafter inducted into Inquisitor Sabela's warband as a new Acolyte.

The closing months of 820 were spent acquainting himself with his new life and position, acquiring contacts and trust with agents of the Ordo Xenos across the sector. Finally a name surfaced, plucked from heavily redacted Ordos reports detailing a cache of xenos-tech gathered in M39 - Inquisitor Klor Durran, a veteran alien hunter who had gone off the grid in the early 800s, castigated by his fellows for his mad prophesying of the lost and ancient xenos who threaten to return and claim Askellon for their own.

A clear target in his sights, Gavriel would take to the stars in 821, seeking any and all who had contact with Klor Durran in his final days.


M41.821


The Forraliss Curators

Gallach's attempt to squash a Faceless Trader leads to worrying realisations

With the death of Lord Inquisitor Hark criminal elements all across Askellon wriggled out of the woodwork. After rebuilding his strength Gallach spent the better part of M41.821 stomping on the bugs that appeared. Dealing with a few minor heretics on Juno he discovered a larger organisation during interrogation. The pleading screams of lesser xenos dealers and Cold Traders led him to a lead on a Faceless trade organisation operating on the garden world of Forraliss.

Taking passage aboard the transport liner Lewitz he soon arrived at Forraliss, a green paradise world attended by the absurdly wealthy and privileged. Reviewing Ordos Xenos logs opened by his rosette he finds that a woman named 'Dempsey' appears to be the primary source of the xenos relics coming off Forraliss, and lands on the planet with intentions to lure her out of hiding. Meeting with a number of her associates Gallach soon sits face to face with Dempsey in the bath springs of Forraliss. Posing as a mercenary intending to sell xenos weaponry he soon infiltrates her organisation, Mr. Askander becoming a core part in her distribution plans for a new shipment of xenos weapons. Not long after 'Askander' is taken on a mission into the jungles of the world to recover artefacts.

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Accompanied by a contingent of Curator mercenaries and adepts Gallach and Tarl make their way with the group into the jungles. Gallach notices the group being tailed but says nothing, waiting until they reached their destination for his chance to do something. It is here that their pursuers struck. From the foliage razor sharp rounds rip through the mercenaries, sending them retreating back into the cavern that contained their prize. Gallach remains behind, speaking to the strange camouflaged creatures that emerge from the jungles around him. On closer inspection they are revealed to be Eldar, the ancient guardians of this place who had come to remove treasures before some great catastrophe. He convinces the Eldar warrior to let him go into the ruin to pursue Dempsey.

Moving into the ruins Gallach happens upon the mercenaries and depts of the Forraliss Curators, killed by the many traps laid in this place. He eventually finds the group amidst a massive group of stone statues. On closer inspection these statues are carved of a strange bone and set with gems that catch the light. Dempsey's adept, Reed, studies the statues and informs the group that they are automatons of some kind, able to be activated and controlled remotely. Dempsey's eyes light up with glee, intending to use Gallach to ship them off world to the highest bidder. Setting up a watch the group rests, Dempsey having called from backup from her "benefactor". During the night Gallach and Tarl kill the mercenaries and adepts, interrogating Dempsey during the night. She reveals that her benefactor is none other than Rogue Trader House Vor, the rulers of Forraliss. Putting a bullet in her heart and carving an Inquisitorial 'I' into her head Gallach and Tarl prepare to leave.

Outside they find a strange sight, the House Vor reinforcements butchered to a man by a much larger force of Eldar than the one that guarded this place before. The xenos are hostile at first but the camouflaged xenos from earlier talks his commander down, agreeing to let Gallach and Tarl escape. Before he goes Gallach asks about the doom that is set to befall Askellon that the Eldar are fleeing from.

"It is an ancient doom which will befall Askellon - the seers have foreseen the death of the sector, commanding that the Eldari reclaim that which was lost, and abandon man to their fate."
"An enemy of those who came before the Eldari - the immortal foe of the Old Ones. They are eternal - unforgiving, undying, unrepentant, and unrelenting. Heed this warning, mon-keigh, tho you do not deserve it. Flee, while you still can. Your false-god cannot save you from those who have consumed true-gods from before the counting of time"

Leaving the endless green of Forraliss behind Gallach returns to the Lewitz. An astropathic message is sent to the Fury Untold informing Grendel of the events on Forraliss. A second message is sent by Gallach to his contacts in the Ordos Xenos, the man who had given Gallach the tip to investigate the garden world. The contact is informed of the House Vor influence in the trade of xenos artefacts. An investigation is established that would see dozens of Vor officers in Imperial prisons or killed over the next years but no link to the Rogue Trader himself would ever be discovered.


The Great Libraries of Juno

Hayl plies the libraries of Juno for information

The business with the Arch-Cardinal dealt with Hayl returns to his research. Granted access to many of the libraries of the oldest and most secretive Noble Houses of Juno by Interrogator King, he pours through ancient volumes and archeotech data-slates. He moves from house to house, collating dates and looking for any reference to the 'Angel of Thule'.

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Hayl spends months looking for the 'Angel of Thule' and in the end discovers it nearly by accident. Having researched all the ancient houses of Askellon he had moved on to the Navigator houses, hoping that something here would give him any clue. And he would find it in books aboard the Fury Untold taken from the Blacksky Observatory in Terminus. House Ursa's ancient records are more thorough than any kept by Imperial records and in their dust pages Hayl finds what he is looking for. The Angel of Thule is not a person, nor a ship or even a story but a system. The Angel KZ-8 system within the Thule subsector had been discovered 500 years earlier by the mysterious navigator house Auriga. Auriga had all but disappeared from records 500 years ago and the system they discovered was added to no known Imperial maps. House Ursa only had record of it from a deal done long long ago, when Ursa were a minor house who contracted to Auriga.

Angel KZ-8 had been abandoned since its discovery, House Auriga vanishing along with it. Only the Rogue Trader Serena had tried to find the system again. A single scout sloop went to the system, The King of Crowns, but none of the 10,000 souls aboard returned. The Lady Serena is said to have received a single astropathic communication from the ship and never sent another ship. Whatever she heard in that message was horrible enough to dissuade her from even the lure of profit.

Gallach joins Hayl after a time, returning from Forraliss and searching the ancient libraries for any mentioned of the doom foreseen by the Eldar. He travels between the library on the Fury Untold, where he buries himself in Eldar lore and eyewitness accounts, and the libraries on Juno searching for any mention of the vast threat facing Askellon.


Two Hunters

Gavriel tracks down a long-vanished Inquisitor

Tracking the path of Klor Durran was no easy task, for every Inquisitor worth their salt were more than adept at covering their tracks from any dogged pursuers. Nevertheless across Askellon did Gavriel travel, picking through blacked-out reports and drunken ramblings in equal measure, seeking even a fragment of information as to the whereabouts of the lost Inquisitor. Returning to Kalto for the first time in half a decade, Gavriel learned of Durran's investigations into those who came before mankind - shadow beings which would pluck the unsuspecting from their beds in the dead of night and wisk them away to dungeons in the netherworld. Or so, the story goes. It was on Kalto that Gavriel fell upon his first solid lead: an Acolyte of Durran's resided still upon the agri-world, tho it remained under martial law. A game-hunter of advanced years, Gwilherm was reluctant to speak of his past life under the yoke of the Ordos, until Gavriel revealed his own credentials in the surreptitious organisation. Over many nights Gwilherm recounted tales of adventure alongside Inquisitor Durran: described as a paranoid man, but lacking not in fire and courage when it came to dealing with the worst xenos-diabolis the sector had to offer, Durran had always maintained that mankind's doom came not from within, but without, with particular attention paid to the ancient alien ruins which dotted the worlds of Askellon. Through studious study of the past, Durran believed he could prevent a calamitous future. To this end he had travelled to an isolated system in the Thule Sub-Sector, known only as Research Station P3482XW. It was the last Gwilherm had seen or heard of his Inquisitor, and fearing the worst, the hunter had decided to quietly slip into obscurity on the little golden world of Kalto. Gwilherm reveals one more thing to Gavriel before he leaves, a last gift given to him by Khlor Durran. The Jokaero are strange xenos breed with uniquely advanced skills with technology. Gavriel has the creature modify his T'au pulse pistol before he leaves, turning the potent xenos weapon into something altogether more powerful.

Renewed with purpose, Gavriel set for Thule, unsure of who or what he would discover.


Temptation

Hayl's purity is tested

Among the libraries and data-stacks of Juno Hayl would find many heresies large and small. Most are turned over to the Adeptus Arbites, the odd xenos trade or minor psyker discovered by accessing familial histories. But among the books he finds far darker things. The nobles of Juno had long dabbled in strange and arcane research and Hayl follows these leads as much as he can. He learns about the rituals of the past heretics and the book used to implement them: The 'Liber Malleus Accersito', currently stored in the library of the Fury Untold.


M41.822


The Writings of Johas Zadok

Information about a calamity that will befall the sector leads to a heretic's notes

Months into their research on the great threat that faces Askellon, Gallach and Hayl happen upon some information. Johas Zadok is a heretic who wrote a treatise on the ancient Lords of Askellon, criticising them and revealing truths about them. The Ordos Hereticus had deemed these truths impossible to know for someone who is not touched by the warp. They determined in his century of writing Zardok had revealed too many truths to not be a diviner of some kind, a witch who promptly vanished after this declaration. In his latest writings, released recently just after the death of Lord Inquisitor Hark, he spoke of a great catastrophe that would befall Askellon. He linked it to the sins of Hark and to the 'original sins' of all the Lords of Askellon. Pouring through his notes Hayl happens upon a link between this downfall and a system designated Euclid 13 and the planet within Gamma Euclid 13.

Euclid 13, a system bereft of name, notable for the eight geologically identical worlds which orbit a single yellow star. Of these only a single world has ever been visited, designated Gamma by the adepts of the Mechanicus centuries before. Reportedly the world is dominated by distorted terrain formations that appear twisted out of shape as if by the whim of some made architect. Few who travel to Euclid 13 survive and those who do speak of fearsome guardians who banish flesh from bone with coruscating emerald light. Reviewing Arbites records Gallach discovers that members of the Cult of Zadok have travelled to Gamma Euclid 13 recently, their goal unknown. Knowing Zadok's prophetic writings may hold the key to the mystery of the fate of Askellon the pair look into the cult known as the 'Herald's of Zardok'. The cult had followed reports written by Zadok from a privateer, Johansen, who had landed on Gamma Euclid 13 many years ago. Johansen left detailed accounts before his death, recounting his mistaken venture to the world and the death of many of his men at the hands of strange beasts that unleash emerald flames. Matching this description against the dream reported by Gavriel years before Gallach decides to investigate Euclid 13. Surely the ancient evil prophesied by the Eldar was the same Zadok claimed to live on Euclid 13.

Only Rogue Traders and the Adeptus Mechanicus go to the Euclid 13 system, the dangerous planets devoid of resources and considered cursed by those few who have heard of them. Gallach returns to the Fury and contacts his old ally Gnaritas Seculis. Gnaritas is a tech-adept of prestigious skill who fought alongside Gallach in the investigations on Kalto. Currently employed by the Ordos Xenos Inquisitor Sabela in a research project, Gnaritas' curiosity is peaked by Euclid 13. He organises transport for Gallach, Hayl and himself aboard the Explorator Cruiser Rhodin Delta, due to travel to Euclid 13 for a geographical survey in a few weeks time. The cutter is loaded with supplies and meets the Delta above Core Theta, preparing to sail into the Rubicon subsector to Euclid 13.


Ghosts of Gamma Euclid 13

Study leads Gallach and Hayl to a world of nightmares

The Explorator Cruiser Rhodin Delta takes months to reach Euclid 13. It's mostly servitor crew do not disturb Gallach, Hayl and Gnaritas, who spend most of their days at work in their private quarters. Eventually the massive ship arrives in Euclid and makes orbit above Gamma Euclid 13. Of the world the Adeptus Mechanicus know little, scans unable to break through the massive cloud cover that seems to perpetually coat the world. They do mineral scans from orbit and move on after ground teams failed to report back.

As the gun-cutter breaks atmosphere it is assaulted by a lashing of thick oozing black rain, auspexes and augurs useless in the vast storm. Landing in the coordinates given they find enormous spirals, arches and limbs of rock towers that reach far into the sky, seemingly unaffected by the normal laws of nature. As the landing sinks into brown mud the group board an amphibious vehicle provided by the Mechanicus and set off.

Strange stone pylons reach up to the sky, each covered in ancient glyphs and bearing a strange statue at the peak. Gallach takes a statue for study and the group move further into the pylons, finding that they get thicker and thicker as they approach a central pyramid. Deciding they have had enough for the day the group try to return to the cutter, finding that they are unable to make their way across the massive murky sea. Trying to find their bearings they run into a group of mutants plying their own water craft. Discussion with the subhumans reveals that they are the remnants of the ship Beckoning Call, vanished in these parts 500 years earlier and assumed lost with all hands. Seemingly mad, they roam the sea now looking for signs from the Emperor. Leaving them behind Gallach decides to take the craft into the centre of the pylons, where the mutants claim the followers of Zadok went some year earlier.

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Weaving through the increasingly crowded pylons the group soon arrive at a massive stone pyramid, the black rain falling here creating a strange series of waterfalls that rush down its sides. Donning extreme environment gear Gallach, Hayl and Gnaritas move up the pyramid, clambering over massive stone blocks carved so perfectly it defies belief. At the top of the pyramid lie strange ruins and an opening that allows travel further in.

Moving within the group find the remains of both the followers of Zadok and the Privateer crew massacred here a century ago. Charred bones show little of what killed these men, while their expended weapons show they at least put up a fight before they died. A charred data-slate promises some insight once it can be repaired and Gnaritas clambers back down the pyramid to take the evidence to the vehicle. Gallach and Hayl continue on, finally finding a room filled with massive stone sarcophagi. Stopping to search the room the pair are surprised by the sound of heavy steel footsteps coming closer. Preparing their weapons a figure rounds the corner.

A Skeletal-steel hand glimmering in the light of the glow-lamp grips the edge of the furthest sarcophagus. Drawing itself erect rises a towering steel figure, clasping in one hand a mighty staff topped by shimmering green blades which seem to ebb and flow. With a great heavy footfall its armoured feet crash down onto the basalt stonework, a malignant emerald glow building behind its rictus skull-face. Almost immediately Hayl summons forth holy energy to blast the creature asunder but finds himself unable to manifest. The null effect on this place robbing him of his powers he draws his las pistol and begins blasting away, soon joined by Gallach's storm bolter. The blasts knock the creature back and blow chunks of it, throwing off its aim as it shoots a beam of emerald energy from its bladed spear. The blast destroys a half dozen sarcophagi and the creature begins walking towards the group. Suddenly the creatures injuries seem to heal, liquid metal swelling up to repair the parts of it that had been damaged. Realising there is no victory to be had here the pair begin to retreat, Gallach blowing out the creatures legs as they flee the winding corridors of the necropolis.

Returning to the boat outside the group begins to head back to the cutter at pace, Tarl having locked on to its signal in the storm. Reviewing the footage of the encounter Gnaritas confirms something Gallach had suspected since back on Forraliss. The great threat that looms below the surface of Askellon is the rise of the legendary and terrifying Necrontyr.


Research Station P3482XW

Gavriel follows his leads of Klor Durran into dark places

The world known to the Cult Mechanicus as P3482XW is a recently revealed, volcanic planet in the Thule Sub-Sector. Cut off from discovery by localised Warp storms for some time, the planet’s sudden reintroduction to the sector just under a century ago had caused a stir amongst Rogue Traders, Explorator Fleets, and others who seek out riches amongst Askellon’s uncharted reaches. This world is not sought after for any known life or resources, but for the lack of such things. P3482XW, commonly known as Dark Echo, is a barren world—home only to sprawling ruins of a long-lost, unknown, and utterly alien civilisation. The planet has only the barest traces of an atmosphere, barely breathable for humans. Tectonic shifts produce daily quakes ranging in scale from slight tremors to long upheavals that topple features across an area. Magma flows and other volcanic activity are also present, as the world undergoes changes reminiscent of a planet in the final throes of life.

The Adeptus Mechanicus had established a research station on the southern continent, and it was here that Gavriel would travel in his pursuit of Klor Durran. Posing as a Xenographer seeking hidden lore, Gavriel was met with open hostility by the presiding Magos, Kiralon Burla, and warned against meddling in the works of the machine cult lest he experience an unfortunate "accident" in the miles of sprawling alien ruins. His curiosity only deepened, Gavriel gathered what he needed for an extended expedition into the uncharted and set off for the unknown, chasing any sign of the wayward Ordo Xenos Inquisitor. Deep within cavernous ruins utterly alien to one of the Imperium, Gavriel encountered a squadron of Astra Militarum under fire from an unseen foe. Unwilling to let loyal servants of the Imperium fall, Gavriel leapt into action, his twin pistols flaring brightly in the darkened corridors below the planet's crust, revealing his targets to be reanimated servitors armed with a variety of mining tools and cutters. When the smoke cleared he was heartily thanked by the stricken guardsmen, members of the Terminus Watchdogs, explaining that they had been tasked with recovering lost servitors in this section of the ruins. They had been caught by surprise when the missing tech-slaves turned on them. Believing that this clue would lead him closer to his prey, Gavriel decided to accompany the soldiers in their task, holding to his story as a Xenographer in the service of House Roth as cover.

The new alliance forged ever downward, following a trail of desiccated servitors which would sporadically springing to life through unknown means and give fight unto the soldiers and Gavriel. Spelunking into a yet-undiscovered chamber, the alliance found it occupied by a hulking creature of flesh and steel. "Kanjir Ix!" cried one of the Guardsmen, before the hideous monstrosity lunged towards them, weapons sprouting from its body like weeds. The battle was fierce and bloody, leaving but Gavriel and two others standing over the rapidly melting pool of sludge which had once been the notorious Faceless Trader, Kanjir Ix. Inspecting the machinations of the heretic revealed much to Gavriel, finding stacked data-slates with detailed notes on research conducted on Dark Echo by Inquisitor Durran and another, an Inquisitor Tortane also of the Ordo Xenos. Piecing together the story, Gavriel concluded that the two Inquisitors had spent many years on Dark Echo seeking answers to the doom which would befall Askellon, before being driven off by the infected Kanjir Ix, forced to abandon their research. Only a single clue suggested where they had fled to in the aftermath - the prison-world of Nexum VIII, coreward of the Asphodel Depths Sub-Sector. After delivering the surviving guards safely to their barracks, Gavriel returned to the void and made for Nexum - he could feel his investigation into Inquisitor Durran drawing to its conclusion, although what shape that conclusion would take he could not presume.


Ordo Malleus

Hayl's research continues

Inquisitor Fallon, Hayl's old master, was a daemon hunter of some renown. Indeed Hayl's primary purpose as a member of Fallon's cell was the dispelling of daemons. The research on Juno and events on Euclid had led Hayl to believe that in order to defeat this growing threat he would need to further his research, to delve into territories dangerous for lesser men. Aboard the Fury Untold he retrieves the 'Liber Malleus Accersito'. A book bound in still-living human flesh found on the corpse of the witch Ruto Berenk, leader of the Silence. He replaces it with a faximile and begins to study it. Heavily warded he begins to ply the secrets of the book, listening as the tome speaks of terrible creatures locked behind the veil of reality.


M41.823


Watch Station Achilles

Gallach visits the Deathwatch for help

Knowing the doom that threatens Askellon is greater than the Inquisition alone can manage Interrogator Gallach turns to an old ally for help. During the battle against the T'au on Kalto Gallach fought alongside a mighty Astartes, Brother Albrecht of the Deathwatch. The Deathwatch, Astartes trained and outfitted to battle xenos threats wherever they may appear, are the militant arm of the Ordos Xenos and maintain a Watch Fortress within every system in the Imperium. Gallach sends an astropathic message to the Watch Fortress and is given a series of coordinates. Aboard the Fury Untold he is dropped at the edge of an unnamed system in the Stygies Cluster Sub-sector, flying the gun-cutter inwards with only Gnaritas for company. Gnaritas, scholar of xenos that he is, insisted he accompany Gallach, intending to learn much about the Necrontyr to return to his mistress, Inquisitor Sabela.

Arriving at the daunting dark-steel fortress Gallach is surprised to find few Astartes present. Walking halls guarded by venerated combat servitors and a few ancient chapter serfs he finds less than a dozen Deathwatch present. Most operate in facilitating roles only and only one Kill-Team is available for the entire sector. This Kill-Team is led by Brother Albrecht while operations at the Fortress are run by Brother Edmund, a veteran of the Eastern Front and an ally from investigations on Kalto. Edmund informs Gallach that he and Albrecht has resolved to stay behind after events on Kalto, their base in the Jericho Reach too far away and the needs of this sector too many. They were attempting to rebuild the Deathwatch to their proper strength, recruiting from the few Space Marines present in Askellon to help protect the system against the innumerable threats that assail it.

Gallach's request for aid is denied, the strength of the Deathwatch simply not enough to help. Brother Albrecht is away with the fortress' one active Kill-Team quashing a xenos hybrid cult on Vanth. In his absence Brother Edmund does make an offer to Gallach. He offers Gallach the training facilities of Watch Station Achilles, which mould the already mighty Astartes into Deathwatch.


The Surge

Hayl tries to determine the nature of a warp storm threatening to overwhelm Askellon

Surge.jpg

In the early weeks of M41.823 across Askellon reports build of a monumental warp storm brewing within the Pandemonium. The Navigators of the sector dub this storm 'The Surge', heralding it as the largest and most damaging warp-event in Askellon's recorded history. A full third of the sector's Astropaths expire in the earliest months of 823 due to the tumultuous roil of unfettered warp-energy. Minor psykers in their thousands manifest and are killed by their powers in the already tumultuous underhives of Askellon. Once-stable warp-routes are severed, and even the shortest of void journeys are fraught with danger. Trade of all but the most urgent goods fall to a standstill and wars fought on Laran 9k and beyond begin to turn as reinforcements fail to arrive.

One by one the choirs of Askellon fall silent, rendering the sector nothing more than a clutch of disparate worlds completely cut-off from the Imperium. Soothsayers and doom-heralds preach on the streets of hives; the faithful lock themselves within their gilded chapels; mutants, recidivists and worse still leech up from the underworld to gnaw on the sector's foundations; the guard turn insular, violently striking out at any who show deviance.

And within the Fury Untold Hayl gathers the finest of Grendel's savants and adepts. Sabela provides a logic engine and with an entire off-limits hanger provided to him the Agent prepares to determine the source of the Surge. Taking in reports from astropaths across the system he tracks the rise of the swarm of warp energy, from earliest reports of flares to the outbreak that brought the system to his knees. He consults arcane texts, data-readouts and begins entering the data into the vast logic engine. The humming machine takes up most of the hanger, a work of pure genius by the Adeptus Mechanicus and hopefully the thing that can determine the source of the Surge.

Through his study Hayl learns that this is a natural warp storm, a surge in the Pandemonium like many recorded before it. Only this one appears to have been bolstered. Storms above Vanth, Desoleum, Laran 9k, Temperance, Gregorn and Hulee V had amplified the storm in the perfect positions to force it to grow. It is now that Hayl comes to a startling revelation. The machinations of the Patternari Cabal had until this point seemed random, a collection of events that sowed chaos but had no larger impact. Hayl realised then that chaos was the point. Death, bloodshed and anger draw the warp like flies to honey. And everywhere that the servants of the Patternari had been put down by the Inquisition bloodshed had arisen. The pacification of Kalto, the uprisings on Desoleum, the war above Gregorn. The fire was always coming and the Patternari had thrown fuel on it at exactly the right moment to keep it burning. A warp storm blown into something else by years of meticulously planned heresy.

As he sent through his findings to Gallach Hayl wondered what kind of mind could predict events across an entire sector to this degree of certainty? What kind of mind could even predict a random warp event to begin with?


Ordos Xenos

Gallach trains at Watch Station Achilles

Under the stern gaze of Brother Edmund Gallach accepts the rare honour of taking part in the Deathwatch training program. It takes months of drills and training before Edmund will even allow him access to the training facilities, perfect scores in bolter drills and simulated firefight training exercises taking up 20 hours of the day for months on end. Prayers and mock combat against servitors are Gallach's life for months on end before Edmund allows him access to the Necrontyr training module.

Hardened combat servitors stand in for Necrontyr targets, overpowered stun rods serving to mimic the power of the 'gauss' weaponry. At night Gallach studies the creatures with Gnaritas in the Watch Fortresses secret library, learning of their ancient war with the gods before mankind was even born and their millennia long war with the Eldar. He learns about past encounters, Imperial losses and victories across the Imperium and the tactics undertaken by the Deathwatch to defeat the xenos. Melta weapons were a must, the only weapons potent enough to stop the mechanical regeneration that brings the Necrontyr back from horrible injury. But more than anything the key to defeating the threat is sacrifice. Even the Deathwatch expect to lose brothers fighting the Necrons, they are simply too deadly and too adaptable a foe to formulate a strategy against. When the Fury Untold picks up Gallach nearly a year after dropping him off he is prepared to stop the rise of this ancient evil or die trying.

"Again"
Wearily, but without hesitation, Gallach slammed a new twin-magazine into his storm-bolter, his chest heaving with exertion. Above him a klaxon sounded, rousing to life a clutch of Level 10 combat servitors. The dummies jerked to life, aping the slow and unbreakable movements of the Necrontyr. Gallach drove forwards, diving for the nearest cover as faux-Gauss blaster beams lashed about him in an emerald haze. Rising from cover, Gallach recalled the words of Brother Edmund.
The Necrontyr are nearly unstoppable when faced with conventional weaponry - even perfectly placed shots to the head or torso will not drop them like it will more conventional-xenos. We have had success in destroying their limbs to slow their movement and reduce their offensive output, which can often trigger their retreat protocols. Exactly how the Necrontyr are able to vanish from the field of battle has not yet been unearthed, suffice to say that one-less xenos will always sway the odds in your favour.
Carefully taking aim the grizzled veteran of the Inquistion squeezed out controlled bursts of bolter fire, severing legs and arms in sprays of gears and gore. In what seemed like an eternity but only lasted a handful of heartbeats, the servitors lay broken and dying on the cold floor of the battle-room.
"That is a new personal best, Initiate." spoke the voice from before, the unseen figure moving up to beside Gallach.
Brother Edmund walked with a slow and steady stride, not through choice but by design, his superhuman body still growing accustom to his implanted bionic locomotion. The towering Astartes nonetheless cut an imposing figure, even dressed in his simple black robes of the Deathwatch he was 5 times the mass of a normal man. Gallach, no small man himself, seemed dwarfed by comparison to the giant.
Sensing tension in Gallach, the giant offered "Does something trouble you, Initiate?"
"Is it enough, my Lord? I've trained for 7 months already, and yes I can slay an imitation of the Necrontyr, but I have yet to actually destroy one in battle. My only encounter with the xenos ended in a retreat - it pains me still to admit it."
The giant's face was impassive, conditioned as he was to show no hint of emotion beyond taciturn gravitas.
"You are as prepared as any can be, Initiate. Even the Astartes lose brothers in battle with the Necrontyr, tho we do not allow such realities to affect our resolve. They are a threat to mankind and must be eliminated no matter the personal cost."
In reply Gallach nodded grimly, his mind already casting ahead to what awaited him in the Thule Sub-Sector.
"I fear no personal cost, my Lord. I was granted life by the God-Emperor, and I can only hope to expend it in service to Him."
At Gallach's words the giant's face broke into a rare grin, just the slightest upturning of the corners of his mouth.
"I must echo the sentiments of Brother Albrecht: You would have made a fine Astartes, Gallach. Should you survive what lies ahead, you will always have a place amongst the Deathwatch."
Pausing for a moment, Brother Edmund pondered his next words carefully.
"As before, whilst the Deathwatch will not aid you directly in your endeavour, for we cannot chase every wild suspicion of xenos within the Sector, should you discover immutable evidence of the Necrontyr I would implore you to utilise the gifts of your Astropathic comrade to sent for aid from the Watch-Station."
"My Lord - the distance to travel would be great, more so with the recent storms in the Pandemonium. I fear my allies and I would be beyond saviour by the time you arrived."
"Undoubtedly, Initiate, but if you have fallen that means that the enemy has likely not. The Deathwatch will complete the task in honour of your glorious death."
Turning to walk back to the observation chamber, Brother Edmund keyed into his data-slate, a fresh batch of servitors trundling into view in the battle-room.
"Again!"


Bleak in Body and Spirit

Gavriel discovers the fate of Inquisitor Durran

A brittle, rocky world, Nexum VIII is a penal colony which lies on a stable but neglected minor Warp route less than eight months’ travel from a cluster of civilised Tributary systems coreward of Snope’s World. For millennia, the system’s inhabitants have known that their star is doomed to collapse someday under its own tremendous weight and explode into a supernova, obliterating Nexum and devastating or irradiating every star system within a dozen light years. Spinning through the cold, outer reaches of its system, lashed by the occasional streams of pure plasma blasting from the dying monster at its heart, lies Nexum VIII, its seven planetary siblings having already been consumed by Medea. Nexum would be utterly ignored by the wider Imperium were it not for the presence on its surface of certain rare and precious minerals and elements which, when properly processed, are essential for the production of ceramite. Ceramite is a complex compound of great resilience and used in a variety of functions, most famously as a component of Adeptus Astartes power armour. Nexum is dominated by the vast prison-fortresses which define its value to the Imperium. Each prison is a world in and of itself, cloistered away from the eyes of outsiders, its masters left to run their affairs as they see fit. Although formally an Imperial domain, and as such subject to the oversight of the Adeptus Administratum, Nexum is nominally ruled on that organisation’s behalf by the High Warden, an official selected from among the prison warders based upon the profitability of his facility.

Aboard a prison-barge destined for the bleak and radiation-blasted world, Gavriel would do-away with his weapons of war, donning the dull orange jumpsuit of a common criminal and instead relying on his wits to survive the harsh year ahead. While Nexum was home to hundreds of millions of prisoners, a man matching known descriptions of Inquisitor Durran had been processed some years back and shipped to the penal colony - information which Gavriel had alighted upon on his journey through intimidation, bribery and psychic trickery. Assigned to Gen. Pop. Procession One, the largest prison-district on Nexum, Gavriel began his investigation in enerst, working his way into the twisted gang-culture of the prison-industrial-complex. Of the deeds he commited while under confinement, to this day he does not speak of, his mission report signed with the simple entry "…what must be was done so…". Suffice to say he rose quickly into the ranks of the Nexium Gangers, acquiring a small band of loyal and cowed followers to aid him in searching for Inquisitor Durran. In under a stellar year he had amassed enough clout to locate his target, delving into the Moral Deviant wing of Camp IV, a place reserved for those criminals of frighteningly unconventional proclivities.

Among the padded cells of screaming madmen, Gavriel found the man he had chased for almost 4 years: Inquisitor Durran was a relic of his former self - a wasted man addicted to the local narcotic Snake, a drug which induces a hallucinogenic trance state characterised by alternating lassitude, mania, and sadistic thought patterns of the darkest kind. Utilising his prodigious skills as a telepath, Gavriel dove into Durran's broken psyche, seeking any scrap of the former Inquisitor's lucid mind and drawing out what yet-unscrambled information he could. Inquisitor Durran had travelled to Nexum some years past after the events at Dark Echo, hoping to use the locally-concocted narcotic to enlighten his tortured mind as to the true threat which faced Askellon and believing his will strong enough to resist its darker temptations. Alas it was not to be. The Inquisitor fell to the narcotic like so many others, a lost soul in a brutally uncaring system, his translucid and sometimes violent state of mind eventually attracting the attention of the prison wardens who were swift to deposit the raving madman into the Moral Deviant wing despite his wild claims of serving the Holy Ordos. A scrap of memory which remained unaddled and unfogged showed one of the Inquisitor's meetings with the other Patternari Cabalites - several of the faces were blurred by his poisoned mind, all in fact but the Skull-faced image of Inquisitor Caprican Malachi.

Your work thus-far has been commendable, Klor. Tho we will soon part ways, know this: despite the terrible and tragic fate which will befall you, through your actions you will save Askellon, or at least, allow it's saviours to come forth. Some years from now you will find yourself questioning the future I have foretold, and you will seek out your ruin in a misguided attempt to stave-off the inevitable. When the blind-man finds you in the fog, know that your role with be fulfilled.

His psychic connection suddenly severed, Gavriel realised with a heavy heart that the Inquisitor had expired. No heretic was he - simply a man in search of salvation, lashing wildly against the coming of the night. A final fragment of thought, perhaps the last lingering shred of consciousness as Durran's soul fled for the golden light of the Astronomicon, drifted into Gavriel's psychic mind.

On the Fifth Angel of Thule will you find the Ring through which death stalks the empire of Man


Burdened with Purpose

And so after years of investigation and study Cell Medusa would reunite to travel to the Angel of Thule. They knew that the Patternari Cabal were there, their purpose unknown. But whether the Patternari's plan to stop the rise of Necrontyr was the only way to stop that ancient and terrible threat was yet to be seen.

M41.823 The Surge: Across the sector reports build of a monumental warp storm brewing within the Pandemonium. The Navigators of the sector dub this storm The Surge, heralding it as the largest and most damaging warp-event in Askellon's recorded history, a full third of the sector's Astropaths expiring in the earliest months of 823 due to the tumultuous roil of unfettered warp-energy. Once-stable warp-routes are severed, and even the shortest of void journeys are fraught with danger. One by one the choirs of Askellon fall silent, rendering the sector nothing more than a clutch of disparate worlds completely cut-off from the Imperium. Soothsayers and doom-heralds preach on the streets of hives; the faithful lock themselves within their gilded chapels; mutants, recidivists and worse still leech up from the underworld to gnaw on the sector's foundations; the guard turn insular, violently striking out at any who show deviance - truly it is the Time of Endings.
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