Fate 40k: Ink and Blood

Operation Monocle
Mission Briefing
== EYES ONLY ==

Operation MONOCLE

THEATER

Emperor’s Landing, Meridia, Pitya

ASSIGNMENT

21st RAGNAROK RAIDERS, Special Task Force

SITUATION

21st RAGNAROK RAIDERS are currently stationed aboard supply transport PHLEGMATIC MAIDEN. Diplomatic complications have prevented the 21st from establishing a presence on Pitya. Force projection impossible at present, due to lack of atmosphere and landing capabilities. Diplomatic avenues are “being explored”.

According to data from the Administratum and Departmento Munitorum, expect planetary defense forces (the Meridian Fencibles) to be poorly trained, feudally organized, and with limited supplies. Basic infantry are equipped with lasgun and flak armor. Some may be motorized with “Ironback” Chimera support (vehicle capabilities unknown).

Orbital scans show a fortified emplacement (codename POUND) near the Dover settlement, believed to house a planetary macrocannon. Tech-Priest Linnaeus believes it likely for the weapon to have range on most orbits, if it is indeed functional.

MISSION

Unknowns on Pitya’s surface present a probable threat against the safety of the Bizmuth diplomatic envoy. It is our duty to the God-Emperor to do our utmost to safeguard one of His Representatives, and to see their mission fulfilled.

INTENT

Perform reconnaissance in the capital city of Emperor’s Landing. Assess the military capabilities of Lord-King Melba in the event of military intervention.

Planetfall by conventional or covert means are not possible. Alternate insertion by subterfuge has been made available by our contact RAVEN BLACK, via the luxury passenger vessel PRINCESS DARLING.

The forces of Pitya are to be treated as non-enemies until further notice. Due to the diplomatic nature of the envoy, all possible caution must be taken to avoid prematurely antagonizing Pitya nobility. Live fire action against loyal citizens of the Imperium are to be avoided if possible.

OBJECTIVES

ONE

Assess the aerial artillery capabilities of Pitya. In particular, discern whether EMPLACEMENT POUND near Dover is operational and effective against capital vessels. Possible defenses against aerial light craft and transport should be noted as well.

Tech-Priest Linnaeus advises the fortification may be under the jurisdiction of the local Adeptus Mechanicus chapter, and strongly advises against hostile actions taken against them.

TWO

Orbital augury identified CONVOY BALE, comprised of slow moving transports and beasts of burden traveling north from Emperor’s Landing. Time lapse shows they departed shortly after our arrival, and Command has deemed its activity suspicious. Investigate the convoy for suspicious content. Report or continue surveillance as needed.

THREE

Augur arrays also identified WAREHOUSE DREY, which appears to be a heavily fortified and well guarded location in the slums outside of Emperor’s Landing. Command believes that the warehouse may contain potential threats to the safety of the Bizmuth Envoy. Investigate this possibility. If the threat is confirmed, eliminate or continue surveillance at your discretion.

SECONDARY OBJECTIVES

Of secondary priority during this operation, ascertain the strength, disposition and loyalty of Melba’s forces. Any intelligence on the local political climate may be valuable as well, as the loyalties of regional leaders to their lieges and to the God-Emperor may be in conflict. The task force is given reign to leave mission zone in pursuit of these goals, at the discretion of the commanding officer.

SUSTAINMENT

Command is currently securing means of resupply and reinforcement. Communications with the task force will be limited. The team will be provided with a Lexigraph device, which can receive and decode text from Command, but can only transmit by tapping into regional vox stations.

EXFILTRATION

There are no means of extraction available at the moment. Pending updates when options become available. Should conflict erupt, the task force is to go to ground, engage in asymmetric warfare, and attempt to reestablish contact via Lexigraph or other means.

MAY THE EMPEROR WATCH OVER YOU.

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Lt. Tsunade: Pitya Travel Log (day 0)


Dedicated to master Shiro:

Sensei, should these words ever make their way to you, I hope they find you alive and well. You will be pleased to know that my path to perfection is still lit by your teachings. It has taken me on board the Phlegmatic Maiden and, as you will come to understand, the path is paved with unexpected challenges.

I took the chance to write down the following events in case I will no longer be able to reach you – death or imprisonment just being two of the possibilities. Let posterity judge my actions, I do not care. May the Emperor protect us all!

We have reached the planet Pitya two weeks prior before schedule – this was planned, according to official reports which have not yet been made public to the crew members. You have always taught me that the truth is best spoken in hushed words, as if made into a lie, for only then it will be taken as such. I fear that this is exactly what I am requested to do in the following weeks, perhaps months. The nature of my current mission is something akin to novelty for me and I strive to be up for the task. It will require lies and truth in equal amounts. I am sorry I cannot say more.

I understand that the planet we will visit this time is ruled by a certain Lord-King Miklus Melba, planetary governor. There are already voices from the Adeptus Ministorum (raised voices!) speaking against this governor, demanding bloodshed on its people. It may be my calling to help avoid an open conflict, which is why I did not refuse the mission appointed, despite its double-edged nature.

Besides my team, on which I do not want to make any comments yet, there are several public figures involved and minor authorities. You may remember Major Garou Satoshi from the festivities held in honor of our beloved Emperor, back on Ragnarock. I feel like I can trust this man with my life and in certain ways we follow the same objective, perhaps in different manners. I find myself reluctant to follow direct orders from the one we are tasked to protect as part of his Honor Guard, but as a soldier I will do my best to cast away personal opinions. I fear it is the same when it comes to the accompanying Seneschal and two members of the Ministorum we have on board (even now I am grateful for listening to your advice and not joining the Ecclesiarchy) which is why my path proves difficult. I do not know yet who to trust besides myself and where to seek council. Once you were there to offer it, but now I am alone.

A unique and interesting item came into my possession and I hesitate to make a decision regarding it. For now I keep it by my side all the time out of fear of losing it or being taken away. I can’t afford to let it go until I know what it is. Curiosity eating on my better judgment? Perhaps, yet I don’t believe in rumors and tales. Yet for what it’s worth, there must be a reason for why those higher than me desperately seek to retrieve it. Please do not judge me yet, it is you who taught me to think for myself before doing what’s right.

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Einherjar Postmortem Followup
Commissar's Log

Shipboard Subjective Date: Year Fraction 393

Re: P. M. security troopers.

Following up with Pvt. D. Johnson’s report of warp hallucinations (see prev). Debriefed personally. 12 hour sensory dep treatment, with veritas serum. Confessed to seeing familial relations from Krieg (231st, 412nd, 502nd; now separated). No taint suspected. Cleared for immediate active duty.

Debriefed Pvt. R. Handel. Indicated visions of shambling deceased comrades. Taint suspected. Summary exec s.d. ~392.

Pvt. P. Vics still comatose. Taint uncertain. Summary exec s.d. ~390.

Re: 21st Ragnarok

Debriefed Pvt. H. Stoen. Reported reliving avalanche. No taint suspected. Unfit for duty due to frostbite. Requesting amputation, bionics.

Debriefed Lt. C. Tsunade. Confessed to seeing deceased mentor. Communication in local dialect. No taint suspected. Observation continues. Delegated debrief of subordinates (see attached). Cleared for immediate active duty.

Debriefed Pvt. A. Agnor. Visions of shadowy primitives moving through trees. Visions persist despite self removal of eyes. Taint suspected. Summary exec s.d. ~392.

Re: Gellar Field

Cp. Nazaire (P. M. actual) indicates warp reef at ca. s.d. ~390. Ad. Mech. corroborates. Gellar Field relay damaged on deck 43. Attribute to non-indigenous fauna activity. See attached report from Tech-Priest Parthos. Fixed s.d. ~390. No further hallucinations reported, except aforementioned.

Emperor protects.


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Latrines and Nightmares


With almost an entire lifetime devoted to the Machine, Parthos never imagined that his extended knowledge and dedication would take him on the path of… scrubbing filth in the latrine area.

In the middle of this noble activity, Parthos suddenly has a vision, a flashback taking him way into the darkness of his own past. Nevertheless he welcomed such nightmare to replace the one he was currently living in.

The vision takes him on the battle of a falling fortress where the outcome was about to be decided between the combined forces of the Imperial Guard and the Sisters of Battle, or the forces of Chaos. The walls of the fortress are crumbling, allowing the legions a clear path for their slaughter.

Parthos has his face in the dirt, bleeding and burning when he sees a chaos space marine, full in an armor decorated with spikes, and a fearsome voice giving commands. The moment the fallen space marine gazes upon Parthos, he knew he was dead. Starting to yell, Parthos raises the moral of the retreating guardsmen, grabbing the foot of a retreating guardsmen who soiled her pants. A nearby sergeant is inspired by Parthos and starts yelling for an attack with his last breath, a command to take down the chaos space marine is responded to by great gouts of fire. Sisters of battle join in the fray and flame engulfs everything.

The nightmares shifts to a forest with immense spires and unrecognizable spires… and a small girl with pointed ears and black hair… holding his hand.

After walking a while, shadows begin to draw close. Parthos puts the girl on his shoulders, and tries to run, but ends up stuck in quicksand. He instigates one of the shadows who comes nearer. The figure does, the shadow dissolving away to reveal… Naders! She grabs the girl and lets Parthos sink.
Parthos wakes up with his head in the toilet and there an alarm with the Gellar Field Generator fault that Parthos goes to fix it. The relay room was deep in the disused bowels of the ship, but the repair rituals were routine. He fixes the relay, but finds himself face to face with a monstrous hellboar.

He sits by while Naders and Hosvic dodge the boars flame breath. In the chaos, Tsunade commands trooper, Private Johnson to lure the boar into the chains while the tech-priest operates pulleys to trap the beast there. In the confusion, Helstag fires a single shot from his sniper rifle, somehow taking the boar in both eyes, before finishing the beast with a second round through the throat.

The whole event was apparently watched by the Ragnarockers, and celebrated afterwards, Parthos resumes his cleaning duty, before being summoned by Lieutenant Tsunade to discuss private matters.

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Warp Visions - Snowy Echoes

Naders opens her eyes and founds herself in the middle of a blizzard. As she looks up, she sees her twin sister Spades, dragging her towards an all too familiar concrete bunker. They are dressed in the heavy fur coats of Ragnarockers, a sword was at her sister’s waistline as she encourages Naders: “Just a bit closer, just a bit closer.”

They were running away from something, though Naders couldn’t remember from what. As they reach the bunker, her sister forces the door with her power katana and drags Naders in the center of the room.
“Wait here, I’ll take look around and see if there’s something we can use from here.” She takes her fur cloak and wraps it around Nader’s shoulders before disappearing into the darkness. All alone, Naders starts hearing whispers and thoughts, realizing it’s her sister’s voice. “Gotta get outta here…leave her behind…” but then she returns from another side and the voice becomes silence, a growing worry, a feeling that wells up in Naders’ stomach. Looking horrified at Naders, Spades draws the sword slightly and places is it front of Naders. “Take it, use it..” With teary eyes, she goes back into blizzard, abandoning Naders.

Lt. Chikako Tsunade finds herself in the snowstorm, but she’s no longer in the bowels of the ship. She’s wearing something else, a silk fatigue, Sensounian, and a thick fur cloak stolen from Ragnarockers, she has her sword, without shoes and she remembers going after the psyker Spades.
Entering the darkened bunker she turns the flashlight, looking around. Naders spots her flashlight and tries to hide behind a concrete bench, looking for where the weapon’s locker should be, holding her breath. Slowly around the corner, Lt. Chikako creeps in, dressed in the Ragnarokian cloak, looking like one of her peers. Naders spots the sword at her waistline and realizes she’s not one of her own. She tries to escape past her. She takes cover behind some pillars as Chikako takes a turn. There’s the rumble of an engine coming from inside the bunker and out of the darkness creeps Spades riding a landspeeder.

She stares at Naders, overwhelming her sister with the idea that she must survive no matter what and drives off. Chikako spots Naders standing there, near the exit. She unrolls a silk type of lasso and lashes out at Naders, but the bolt of cloth bounces off the wall and coils around Naders’ arm, not keeping her bound tight enough. She slips out of it and prepares to run, but Chikako tackles her and using the silk lasso ties her hands to her back. The blizzard outside is too big to walk through and the cold envelops both of them, then everything turns white.

Lt. Chikako finds herself back in a familiar room and spots the hellboar ready to charge Parthos.

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Warp Visions - A Menagerie of Echoes

Two subjective hours earlier, the Sergeant Hosvic and Corporal Helstag arrived at the snow covered bottom of the same cavern within the Black Holds, armed with power fist and sniper rifle. A quick search of the area revealed the unmistakable tracks of the giant boar. They fell in step as they began to follow the tracks, when it is joined by a second set of footprints… then by a third.

All the while, Helstag begins to his voices in the distance. At first they were indistinct murmurs, much like the sound of the warp beating against the Gellar Field… if one listens intently for too long. But then, one distinct whisper asserts itself over the others.

“Your friends will betray you… Your friends will betray you…” it murmured over and over again inside the corporal’s head.

So when Sergeant Hosvic stops to look at the ominous third set of tracks, powering up his power fist as he turns to ask Helstag what to do. The only words that came out were, “BLOOD FOR THE BLOOD GOD!”

Wide eyed, Helstag turned and ran, encouraged by the whispers in his head. He dashes behind the old cargo container, wading through snow drift as the voice encourages him further, “Run. Run now! Run faster…”

Before long, he finds himself drawing closer to a pulsing red glow at one end of the cavernous room, its very presence seemingly pushing back the darkness. As he approaches, he could hear other voices now, chanting in unison, “blood for the blood god, skulls for the skull throne”. As he rounds another corner, he finds himself staring at a rend in reality, a portal seemingly set against the ship’s curved hull. Beyond it, a sea of blood… no, a sea of teaming masses of demonic faces.

A pair of clawed hands, giant compared to the size of the rift, clasps onto the sides of the portal, seemingly beginning to wrench it open. Helstag backs away from the portal and turns to find Commissar Valerik behind him, bolt pistol in hand. She points the weapon at him.

“Seal the rift, guardsman. Do your duty and die.”

Fear and courage fought in the guardsman’s soul. He knew what he must do, and throws himself at the portal as a searing light engulfs his vision.

“Disappointing,” the voice in his head whispers.

Helstag finds himself in the converted festive hall. But there was no sign of festivities now. Not even any sign of occupation. Just an oppressively empty room.

He is also on his knees, his hands bound behind him. He sees comrades beside him, all kneeling as well in a line, but he couldn’t make out the faces. A robed figure — a priest — approaches the furthest guardsman. He bends down to whisper something in his ear. The guardsman hesitates but shakes his head. The priest retreats and a commissar — Commissar Valerik — steps up, plants her bolt pistol against the man’s head, and fires.

The grim ritual continues, until they are standing before Helstag. The priest says something, but it is hard… painful, to make out the words. Only the last sentence was clear, as he opens his palm to reveal a blue gem, its hue and shape seemingly shifting without changing, “… do you take salvation?”

At a lost for words, Helstag could only nod. Forgetting his arms were bound, he somehow reaching out with to grasp the gem as a cold chill flows up his arm.

“Good, my son,” the priest whispers in an all too familiar voice.

But there was no time to think, as a pulsing red rift opens up behind Commissar Valerik and a demon stalks out from it. Helstag shoves the Commissar out of the way and charges the demon, screaming “For the Emperor!”


Corporal “Helstag” has gained a Severe Corruption Consequence :
An Tz-inister Tenant in my Mind

Naders remembers being chased by the fiery hellboar, dodging down a narrow corridor to try to escape the beast. But it hardly seemed to notice as it barreled after her, tearing iron and steel like flimsy paper. She remembers the cold air as she fled onto a catwalk, following by screaming metal and falling.

And now she awoke, cold and in the snow. She found herself in a snow drift, deep enough to cushion her fall. The winds of the warp howl and scream outside. She could hear the voices beyond, calling to her. Her head throbbed, not only from the fall, but also the vibrant feeling of psychic presence. She feels a thick, warm liquid against her arms, seemingly dripping up from her fingers. She looks down to find her hands clean, but the sensation persists, dripping down against her face. Unsure what is happening, she curls up into a ball, too scared to move, or even make a sound.

Then the headache recedes. The voices recede. And she finds herself atop a hill overlooking rolling fields, and under the gaze of twin moons at twilight. A battle had raged here, and now in the aftermath, shadowy figures slaughtered and executed men in red and gold armor.

She turned her gaze away from the field, and saw five massive stone stood before her. Beside it stood a tall, thin man clad in dark robes, seemingly made of blades of shadow. She knew he was important, somehow, and she knew his name as well, Prince Gvir Zhakel.

Cautiously, she approached, drawn by chill of his presence.

“Come forth, my pet,” his voice is thin and dangerous.

Naders tries to run away, suddenly noticing she was unarmed. She wasn’t in her uniform either, dressed instead in the same robes of shadows.

“Take the portent,” the man says again with edged patience.

She hears herself replying as she holds up a piece of parchment, feeling the ink surging through her veins:

“When resolve unyielding falls in burning glory…”

Naders tries to pull away again, stumbling out from where she still stood. She looks around in a panic, and catches the man’s eyes. They were dark pits as he turned to focus his gaze on her. She feels his gaze scrutinizing her soul as the world goes to black.

Dank acrid rot assaulted Naders’ nostrils as she awoke again. Warmth flowed up her arms again. She forced her eyes open to find herself in a dark room with heavy masonry. She knew she was underground… in some sort of dungeon. There was also a man suspended above her in red and gold armor. He was also cut open, twitching, mouth open as he tries to scream as his blood dripped down onto Naders’ face. The sensation fills Naders’ with an odd sense of calm despite her rising panic.

The enshadowed figure, Prince Gvir Zhakel, appears in an open doorway. “You are ready now, my pet,” she knows he is smiling even though she cannot see his face, “Let us take the portent again.” He seems to beckon her with his eyes, and Naders feels herself walking through the door to the tortured soul of a psyker beyond.

… And then Naders wakes up again. She is hiding, inside a kitchen cabinet. She felt frightened, and someone else was too. Naders turned to find a little girl whimpering, cowering in the corner of the cabinet. Long, dark hair covered her face, but a pair of pointed ears were visible. Naders tries to comfort her and wash the streaks of orange paint from underneath her eyes.

“She’s still out there… she’s still out there,” the strange girl murmurs.

“Who?”

“… you’re still out there!”

There’s the sound of someone breaking furniture and Naders hears her own voice saying, “Come out Aethiel.”

“Save me, save me please!” the girl pleads desperately. But before she could respond, a pale arm tears open the door of the cabinet and yanks the girl out.

She sees now that they had been in her old home on Ragnarok. But through a window, she could see a foreign vista of rolling grass under twin moons. A single burning star plummeted toward the ground. And figure holding the girl… was another Naders.

As the girl cries and flails in her arm, the twin-Naders turns to look out the doorway, and smiles in satisfaction, “That is the portent.”

In that moment, Aethiel tears a gem of deep green from her neck and lets it fall to the ground. “Keep it safe,” she cries as she is dragged away by the duplicate. Meanwhile, Naders reaches out and collects the gem, feeling a strong presence within.

Hosvic quirked an eyebrow as Helstag seemed to suddenly lose his nerve and ran into the maze of cargo containers. He would never catch up to the fleet footed scout if he tried, and so he turned his attention back to tracking the footprints.

Hosvic is facing the orks that he had once dealt with. Two orks stood in his way as they decide which way to go “Blood? Skulls? Blood! Skulls!!” They turn and notice Hosvic and charge! A bloody fight ensues. He dispatches one of the green skins, but the other gets in a nasty blow, hacking off part of his arm. The ork pounces on him but Hosvic turns at the last moment and impales him on the chainsword. Badly wounded, he turns and makes a run for it…

… Some time passes, and he wakes up in a pile of bodies, hearing the sound of the Waaag! falling away. He’s in great pain, missing an arm, the sound of an approaching Valkyrie transport is vaguely familiar. He sees the worst and best sight of his life: Helstag approaching him, rifle in hand. Everything fades and they are in a forest.

Helstag: “This is very familiar.”
Hosvic: “Will you get me the fuck out of here?”
Helstag: “Again?” He picks him up and makes a run for the Valkyrie. They are safely in and they are off. They are on the planet with two moons, the fireball coming on the sky, a ship going down like a comet.
The pilot of the Valkyrie takes them back to where they are supposed to be, and Hosvic inexplicably has his bionic arm again, they’re back in the snowy planet, the pilot suddenly looks like a much older, wizened man.
“Our future has brought you here. The child you bring will bring us doom.”

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Warp Vision - Echoes of Mastery

As Lt. Tsunade descended into the thickening darkness of the Black Holds, things began to feel very wrong. Carnage met her at the bottom of the elevator: an open cage, scorch marks, and a trail of torn walls and wiring leading away from the elevator. It seemed clear that the others must have come this way as well, following or followed by a rampaging hellboar, and so she entered as well with her four troopers in tow.

As they venture into the darkness, lights in hand, the temperature begins to plummet, and before long, they found themselves trampling through a layer of snow, following the tracks of humans and hellboars, along with an ominous trail of blood. The torn corridor opens into a wide cavern, stretching hundreds of meters in each direction, possibly along the entire keel of the ship. Snow drifted down from the ceiling, invisible above, but an faint light seeped in, seemingly without source. The floor seems as a maze of endless cargo containers. Who knows when they had last seen the light of humanity.

The corridor continues out onto a catwalk for several meters before the walkway shatters. There were fresh blood smears on the jagged metal, so whoever fought a pitched battle here likely fell to the ground below. And so Chikako and her troopers set up lines to repel down to the floor. And that was when madness struck.

Private Handel was the first to go. But the moment he touched the ground, he seemed fixated on the shadows, the light from his torch whirling frantically as he muttered to him self, “No, no… you should be all dead.” He would have gone off if Lt. Tsunade had not shouted him down. But even as she did, Private Romeo turned and fled down the crate maze, shouting after a loved one. He was never heard from again. A third trooper, Private Vics was =REDACTED=, and the lieutenant decided to send the three of them back topside, leaving only Private Johnson to accompany her deeper into the Black Holds.

The humanoid tracks split after a time, and the two decide to stay together. Eventually, the footsteps lead into the darkened entrance of a cargo container. After a cautious inspection, the two step inside…

… and sudden Chikako was elsewhere. It was small room. A room from her childhood. Calligraphy and brushstroke paintings hung from walls, and a rice paper door was closed behind her. She suddenly realized she was no longer armed, and in place of her flak vest, she wore a simple, traditional kimono. And in front of her, an elderly figure sat patiently behind a table. His face was so familiar… It was Master Shiro! — once her mentor… but had passed away many years ago…

He gestures her to sit with a wave of his arms, and she complies. He asked, in his signature, patient way, about her life — how she felt about leadership, about her troops, about the changes in her life. The scenery begins to change. The wall behind Master Shiro falls away, and she could see the landscape outside. A war raged over a rolling twilight landscape. Twin moons glowed in the dying light, and a bright star began to fall from the sky, burning.

On a hunch, Chikako searches for Parthos’ medallion and, finding it in her kimono, shows it to Master Shiro. The old man smiles, “You must keep it safe. You must bring it to the planet.” She pleads him to elaborate, but his response only puzzles her further, “All futures bring you here to me. The child you bring will doom us all.”

A dull roar begins to rumble through the room, growing louder every moment. It begins to drown out all other sounds, all other thoughts. Wind picks up, and the walls of the room begin to tear away, as if taken by a hurricane. Master Shiro seems unperturbed as the room begins to fall apart. Chikako remembers falling, flying, and then all is black.

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The Festivities


After a brief discussion, it was decided that Hosvic, Naders and Helstag would go down blow to hunt the Hellboars for the festivities, while Lt. Tsunami provides extra incentive in the form of double rum rations and a dinner at the officer’s mess for whoever brings in the head of the beast. Even before the discussion is over, Naders was gone. Disappearing into the throng of excited Ragnarockers and nervous deck hands, to track the caged beasts even as they are hauled to the Black Holds to be released.

The meeting ends unceremoniously as Chikako receives an urgent call on vox. However, it turns out that it was only orders from Lord-Chancellor Bizmuth III the Younger, orders for an supplement of ketchup to be brought up to his room that was being bounced down the officer core. She decides to send the disgraced Parthos to personally see to this most important task, and sends Hosvic and Helstag to look for, and look after Naders.

Unlike the cramped and grimy quarters allocated to the guardsmen, or the slightly more spaceous, grimy quarters for the Sensounin officers, the Lord-Chancellor had insisted on accommodations that befit his station. Located behind gilded corridors and under a mural of an embellished star system, the Lord-Chancellor’s quarters were nothing less than luxurious. Naturally, he had retired to his room to enjoy the company of his female entourage, along with copious helpings of cake, cream and fudge.

It was this scene that Parthos finds himself entering, bearing the requested chalice of ketchup (now also infused with a dose of mechanical spittle). As he enters past the pair of primly dressed guards at the door, he noticed a peculiar medallion on the table. Wanting to take a closer look, he pretends to admire a painting on the far wall, where he casually flicks off the room lighting. There is a moment of panic as several of the women cry out. The doors open as the pair of guards enter, hellguns in hand. In the commotion, Parthos manages to steal the medallion. Needing a distraction, Parthos spills the ketchup on one of the women. Suddenly, cake and fudge and fake “blood” is everywhere. The guards rush in to help, and the tech-priest manages to escape into the hallway.

Back in the converted cargo bay, and not 10 minutes after sending Parthos on his way. Lt. Tsunade receives a general call for security to the Lord-Chancellor’s quarters. She calls for the aid of Cpt. Yarou, who is seated with his posse of officers at their own table, and the group rush up toward the Lord-Chancellor’s room. They encounter Parthos on the way there, and Chikako knows beyond a doubt that the tech-priest was responsible, even if no one else seems to have figured this out yet. After a terse discussion, Chikako decides to assign him to latrine cleaning for now, with further discussion later.

Staying to the shadows, Naders actually manages to shadow the troop ferrying the caged hellboars quite a ways, until they reach a rust covered holding area that look like it hasn’t been used in decades. Aged and broken down machinery surround the room, and crowds of naval security troopers surround a freight elevator shaft that opens into pitch darkness at the center of the room. A chain gang operates a set of heavy pulleys, hoisting the elevator platform up and down by human power. Distracted by the sight, Naders almost fails to notice a pair of troopers taking a Lho-break, coming around the machine blocks. She slips away quickly, only to find herself clinging to the underside of the hellboar cage.

The beast, perhaps agitated by the smell of food on her clothing, starts to become rowdy and temperamental, scaring the troopers as they push the cage onto the elevator to begin their slow and rickety descent into the gloom of the Black Holds. Suddenly scared of the prospect of being abandoned in the Black Holds, Naders reveals herself by climbing out from under the wheeled cage, scaring the troopers half to death. Angry and indignant, and equally scared of the hellboar, they order Naders to open the cage herself, at gun point, after pushing the cage off the elevator. She hesitantly approaches, the beast sniffing and snorting, and growing increasingly agitated.

Undoing the latches, she flings the cage door open and makes a run for the elevator as the troopers whistle for ascent. She manages to catch a hold of the ledge as they rise, but the angry hellboar snorts and lines up behind her, huffing several times before releasing a gout of fire at the elevator! Fire engulfs the platform, chimneying up through the open shaft as Naders lets go, falling back down to the floor with superficial burns and an irate hellboar right on her tail.

Down on the cargo deck, the search for Naders goes fruitlessly. Hosvic checks around the festival hall, becoming briefly distracted by a buffet table with plates of some sort of exotic shellfish. Helstag wanders through the kitchen area, stumbling across Grot-Grot, cowering behind soe counters as armored naval troopers rush toward the rear corridors. There’s the smell of burnt flesh which can only mean that one of the hellboars is lose. He rushes to the scene to find the chain gang bringing up an elevator full of burn and injured guardsmen. A brief interrogation reveals what he fears, that Naders is somewhere down in the Black Holds already, still alive, but alone with the beasts.

As Lt. Tsunade and Tech-Priest Parthos make their way back to the Lord-Chancellor’s room, he confides in her about the trinket he had pocketed. Showing it to her, it is a medallion set with a gem of dark, vibrant green, seemingly sparkling in a variety of hues while remaining a deep, dark shade of green. She doesn’t know what to make of it, although Parthos insists it is of Chaos origin. She takes it from him and as they make their way upstairs, they see medicae techs, orderlies and naval troopers on either side of the hallway. In the center, there’s the Lord-Chancellor, accompanied by a tall dark haired man dressed a crisp military jacket. He seems to scan the crowd, cybernetic eye locking gazes with everyone, seemingly scrutinizing and analyzing their every motion. Chikako bows before them and forces Parthos to do the same. They have not met him before and he does not realize she’s hiding something. Instead, his attention seem focused on Parthos, pulling him forward by the collar and drags him to one of the guards, the woman who has seen him earlier in the Lord-Chancelllor’s chamber. The man orders “search him” and Parthos is frisked by two women, but they find nothing.

Chikako knows that he is looking for something specific. As she looks around the room, there’s cake and ketchup and (real) blood everywhere. She asks him, “What were you hoping to find on the Tech Priest? Is there anything missing?”

“Nothing of consequence,” he replies smoothly, leveling an even stare at the tech-priest, “I just want to make sure he’s not a spy.”

Managing to back down out of the confrontation without starting a major diplomatic incident, Chikako confronts the tech-priest in a secluded area of the enginarium. He relays the story of a battle he and Sister Birgitta fought against the Black Legion, where he could have sworn he saw not one but many of these gems upon the avatars of the Ruinous Powers. Chikako, however, has no reason to believe that he isn’t telling the truth, and decides to start an investigation as he suggested on the nature of the item. The next time she finds an item that doesn’t belong to him on him, however, she’ll send a detailed report the Mechanicus.

Chikako returns to the festival hall, and meets with Grot-Grot and several naval troopers to find out that her team have gone down into the Black Holds in search of the hellboars, after one of the beasts had gotten loose and rampaged through the handlers. Deciding to go after her team, she takes command of four of the troopers and descends into the pit herself.

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The Einherjar


After the Xanther diplomatic envoy went missing in action on the mining world Pitya, Lord-Chancellor Bizmuth III the Younger was sent in their wake, accompanied by his Honor Guard, the 21st Ragnarok Raiders. The Regiment consisted of two completely different cultures who came to peacefully coexistance as inhabitants of the same planet, Ragnarok. The majority of the population – which unsurprisingly also made the majority of the Regiment – consisted of Ragnarockers, raucous warriors of little finesse, yet born and bred for the heat of battle. Their bravery and fondness for loud displays of their skill was only matched by their appetite for frivolity and celebration. The ruling class was a whole nation in itself on planet Ragnarok. Descendants from an honorable clan of warriors, the Sensounin were different from the Ragnarockers in every aspect. They valued the arts as much as they did technological ability, and possessing the unique talent of combining the two to create something greater. Conflicts between the two nations were as natural and as frequent as the rain and the snow falling on their planet. Following the same hierarchical divide, the officers from Major Satoshi’s Regiment were Sensounin like himself, while the Ragnarockers filled the numerous ranks of grunts and soldiers.

Major Garou Satoshi, commander of the regiment, allowed both Sensounin and Ragnarockers to accompany the diplomatic mission of Lord-Chancellor Bizmuth III the Younger. But for the moment, aboard the Phlegmatic Maiden everyone was under watchful eye of Commissar Valerik, at least until their soon-to-follow landing on Pitya. It was in one of those fateful nights travelling through the warp, that the commander allowed his Ragnarockers to celebrate their Einherjar, a festivity to which both Sensounin and the ship’s crew were invited. The party would prove a disaster by Sensounin standards and a total blast by Ragnarokian ones.

Sharing a drink with Captain Katashi Yarou and watching the fighting ring from one of the darkened corners, Lt. Chikako Tsunade seemed displeased with the whole affair. She knew that officers like her were there mostly to keep an eye so that the celebration would not degenerate into a mess which could stain the Regiment’s honor. Chikako also knew Satoshi’s reason for allowing such a feast. The Ragnarockers needed their short sessions of fun and brawling to release their pent-up emotions. As for the Sensounin, they needed some common ground beyond the upcoming battles to share with their planetary neighbors. None could blame the commander for not trying to keep the two conflicting cultures under the same banner.

The conversation between Lt Tsunade and Cpt Yarou was a brief one. Both of them agreed that the Einherjar was just a pretext for the Ragnarockers to keep praising their borderline-heretical demi-deities, instead of offering proper tribute to the Emperor. Katashi Yarou, a thin tall man, with dark hair drawn tightly into a pigtail was of noble blood, as was Chikako. He did not hesitate to speak aloud his conviction that the ‘Rockers were mere animals that had to be kept in line. Overhearing their conversation, Corporal Gheorge Avar, also known as “Helstag”, thought it was only natural to pass on the information to one of his most respected fellow Ragnarockers. He did it quickly and in his own way, twisting Yarou’s words so as to sound like a personal offense directed towards Sergeant Brezi Hosvic. Towering over most of his comrades, Hosvic was enjoying a front row spot at the fighting ring. As expected, he didn’t take Yarou’s words well and determined to receive at least an apology, if not an explanation from the Captain, he approached the two officers. Within that short period of time, Lt. Tsunade had her own incident with the Tech-Priest Parthos, called “Sisterbane” for various reasons. Truthful to his nickname, the tech priest was drunk beyond recovery and already ‘scouting’ female members of the crew.

Stumbling at Chikako’s feet, he thought it wise to puke on her white ceremonial outfit, earning the tip of her sword shoved under his chin and the right to detention. He hadn’t been dragged out the room before Sergeant Hosvic approached their group, demanding an apology from Captain Yarou for his words. The minor conflict between them soon degenerated into a major brawl, surprisingly between Hosvic and Helstag, the latter deciding to encourage his mate with a very uninspired heretical phrase. As soon as he leaned to whisper “Blood for the blood good” in Hosvic’s ear, Gheorge whirled on him, ready to pounce. The arrival of Commissar Valerik at the commotion put a quick end to the brewing conflict, and demanding Hosvic and Yarou apologize to each other. It was at her suggestion that Brezi and Gheorge took it in the fighting ring, with Brezi’s undeniable victory. Making use of his powerfist (albeit un-powered), the combat medic proved once more that even Helstag had to watch his tongue around him.

The general commotion and the powerfist’s effect were entertaining enough to shift everyone’s attention to the fighting ring, including that of the guardsmen who were supposed to drag Parthos into detention. Being left like a ragdoll on the floor, the tech priest soon fell into a coma-like sleep, probably dreaming of his most desired Sisters of Battle. In truth, he had missed most of the fun.

Within all this time, Private Naders Icles was certainly present in the events. Not quite in the middle of them, more likely just close enough to be part of the scene, she remained mostly unseen and unheard. Lt Chikako failed to spot and recognize the woman she had once followed into the icy tundra, yet she knew for a fact that Naders was certainly part of the Regiment. True to her ways, Naders tried several times to snatch Captain Yarou’s blade without success, but she had managed to pilfer the power cells to the weapon prior to the would-be duel. Perhaps it has been for the best, since both he and Chikako never did view the ‘Rockers as an honorable people. It was with Cpt Yarou that Chikako talked about her past training with Sergeant Hosvic without diminishing his skills in any way and perhaps giving the Captain a different perspective on the ‘Rockers, if only just slightly improved.

Spotting the fallen Tech Priest, Chikako ordered that he be taken out of the room without much fuss. It was within a few minutes later that Parthos returned at the celebration using another entrance, just in time to catch the start of the main event. After a brief speech by Sergeant Venirus, large cages were brought in, housing vicious Saehrimnir, or Hellboars as they are known throughout the Imperium. The beasts thrashed and hit their massive bodies against the steel bars, shoving their tusks between them in a failed attempt to break free. The fun, it seemed, was just beginning.

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Battle does good for the soul


Aboard the battle barge Unyielding Resolve traveling at high speeds through the Warp, Kergar Miyamoto, the soon to be newly appointed Governor General of the planet Ragnarok was preparing for his “coronation” ceremony.Security was tight, as this was the first time when the planet would have a Governor General that hailed from both bloodlines of the world.The battle barge’s grand hall was alight with millennia of military traditions and rigorous drills solely for this day. Imperial and local banners were held high, the braziers burned with a haunting glow and smell of incense, and the sides of the room all the way to the center were filled with Imperial Guardsmen hailing from the feudal world. Ranking officers down through to lieutenants were up front each holding a beautifully designed banner, followed behind by company veterans, and so on — A lavish and opulent gathering to say the least, some would even go so far as to name it decadent in its grandeur.

Among the officers attending — in perfect-fitting and finely arranged uniforms, it might be added — was Lieutenant Chikako Tsunade, an officer with impeccable etiquette, battle conduct, and near flawless field performance.

In the further back rows stood an imposing figure clear for all to see as he was nearly Astartes sized due to his cyber implants, a veteran of many battles and survivor of all, Sergeant Brezi Hosvic, dressed in a leather jacket over a flak vest.Some would argue that this was due to the fact that none of the uniforms fit him, but those who knew him better understood his complete disregard for social events and others’ opinions.

Further down the seemingly endless rows of faces stood a sudden gap in height, Looking down you would see a woman, small of frame and very petite in her bearing. Known as Naders Icles, she was either loved by those who knew her, or completely despised.She was quickly pushed at the back as to not break the rank and file of horned helmets.

As silent as a shadow, with eyes glowing from the dark, atop a balcony, stood Corporal Gheorge Avar, one of the most distinguished scouts and marksmen of the regiment, concealed but ready to jump at the first sign of trouble.

The ceremony was underway, the guard was in place and extra security against psykers were brought in, ironically in the form of several psykers who were to detect the first signs of warp sorcery.These defences seemed pointless to most, who would dare attack such a large gathering of Imperial Guard backed up by psykers?
Suddenly the alarm sirens go off “Breach in the Gellar Field generatorium” the voice announced. It only took a second for the psykers to go mad, several of them died on the spot, bursting into flames, a few exploded in bursts of warp energy, but one of them survived just long enough to become a gateway for a daemon, an unholy denizen of the Warp. It clawed it’s way through the frail humans, who were armed with ceremonial weapons and armor, making it through the doors and vanishing into the immensity of the ship, leaving a trail not very hard to follow.

In quick response Sgt. Brezi took up an Imperial banner with a sharp spear like end and chased after the beast, followed closely by Gheorge on the high ground. Naders was visibly shaken by the sight of the monstrosity, her mind close to snapping, she huddled in a dark corner of the grand hall shaking and whispering “Not again, not again”.Coming to her senses Lt. Chikako gave chase to the beast as well. The three Guardsmen caught up to the beast just as it was feasting on the head of the ship’s captain. Brezi charged the beast with his post-human body, his strength barely keeping up with the beasts and pierced it through the chest with the Imperial holy banner, to little effect .Gheorge laid down a quick succession of sniper rounds emptying 4 magazines into the creatures’ skull also to little effect. Lt. Chikako was barking orders left and right whilst charging the beast with her power sword, dealing some damage to it, but not enough without the backing strength of an Astartes arm wielding that sword. When all hope seemed lost the room filled with light, a warm holy light, not so much blinding as it was protective. Priest Adventus came forth to battle with the daemon. The three blacked out from exhaustion and psychic fatigue. When they came to, they saw Sergeant Marcel with a grim face “You three are in a world of trouble, did you know that ?”

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