I shall copy the entire thing here, if only to guarantee that it cannot be lost from the internet, which would be a most grievous and terrible event. The system takes place in Warhammer 40k: Dark Heresy. WH40k:DH is an INCREDIBLY lethal system. It's entirely possible for the PCs to be killed in one hit from a shot to the toe, if their bones decide to explosively sublimate and detonate like a grenade or some such.
The story is long, and will take several hours to read. It is worth every second. Continued after the jump.
Part IParty is at level 2 (only just, highest has spent 650 experience)
Campaign had them investigating a small cult that was trying to summon a daemon, wreck up part of Ambulon for Khorne, etc. Anyway, the party (Psyker, Scum, Arbitrator, Adept, Tech-priest, 2 Guardsmen and an Assassin) had been investigating the rumors of the cult, and generally mucking about.
Anyway, they mess up horribly on trying to find the cult, and don't even stumble upon them until after the summoning ritual has started, but come with some local administrators in tow. What follows is a massive bloodbath, resulting in 23 bloody as fuck deaths (2 being party members, the Scum and the Assassin). This was all DURING a summoning ritual to Khorne, who is just so pleased with the impromptu slaughter that instead of sending in some pussy lesser daemon, he sends in a fucking Charnel Daemon. So, it was at this point that in theory, the only way for the remaining acolytes to accomplish this mission was for at least some of them to escape long enough to make an exterminatus call and MAYBE make it back to a transport.
The very first person who got to act after the Charnel Daemon appeared was the Adept. He decides to charge the daemon, and hopefully buy a scant moment or two for the rest of the party to get a head start (noble sacrifice and all). So, he charges it with his knife (he had opted to trade in his staff for a knife earlier, just for flavor reasons). He successfully hits it (impressive, when he has a weapon skill of 27) and proceeds to roll a ten. We were all impressed, and then he successfully confirmed righteous fury, so he got to roll again. Ten. By this point we have started roaring, as we find this hilarious, and joke about how crazy it would be if he killed it.
He kept rolling. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Ten. Nine.
A level two adept one shotted a Charnel Daemon with an ordinary knife with room to spare.
Oh yeah, he also had a strength of 24, so he was both weak and had no talent for swinging things, and yet still killed a super monster in one hit. The GM already gave him a full 1,000 bonus xp (no one objected, fucker earned it) but still has no idea what the inquisition would have to say to a confirmed report from a batch of newbie acolytes that the bookworm absolutely curb stomped a daemon that can eat space marines.
Anyway, we have finished talking with the GM and the player of Grendel, and here is what has been decided he will get, in addition to the bonus xp and adulation of Ambulon: The custom Talent Contempt(Daemons) which allows him to flat out ignore the fear rating and daemonic presence of daemons.
Additionally, Grendel's Knife is now Sanctified and Mono, and can re-roll a missed attack once per round if the attack is made against a daemon. It is now called Grendel's Claw.
Grendel is now that which daemons run in terror from. And he is still nothing more than a bookworm.
Oh yeah, forgot this, but some funny things about Castus Grendel:
He has not bought a single Sound Constitution, and rolled a 1 for starting wounds. He still has a wounds of 8 and a TB of 2 and no armor.
He is from a forge world and rolled the Demesne background. I would say he proved his right to survive via superiority.
He has not bought a single remotely combat related skill.
He rolled his build off of Hive World, and rolled Stocky. He is a fa/tg/uy.
He has an Agility of 28.
He is essentially an fat, physically incapable fuck who still pulled this shit off.
Anyway, the party interaction is as follows: Both the Guardsman are new players, one from Volg Hive, one from a Feral world, and both have crazy toughness (both have over 40) and thanks to this, do not do much in the way of strategizing or being diplomatic. However, as new players they defer to the more verbally minded characters when it is time to decide what to do (basically they are muscle, as they should be)
The Tech-priest (me) has been serving as a sometime leader, trading out with the arbitrator periodically as he has better training at most verbal interaction. The tech-priest is played as being quietly scornful of the beliefs of the other acolytes and role-played as being a bit standoffish to the party, as ultimately, they have different beliefs.
The arbitrator is from gunmetal city and duals shotgun pistols (even though she has no talents to make dual wield worthwhile yet) and loves following right behind the charging guardsman to get of some point blank scatter shooting goodness. She HAD been flirting with the assassin who was a great shooter, but he blew up in a pile of gore, so that is done.
The psyker is a vanilla psyker role-played as being completely subservient to the whims of those he is told to follow, and flagellates himself when he manifest phenomena for being 'unclean'. He has a rebuilt skull, which is awesome.
And then there is Grendel. He (up until the event) was a strange sort, both largely ignored by the party for his lack of combat ability (he frequently just ran from it before for obvious reasons) but his expanse of knowledge (tech use, common/scholastic/forbidden lore, you name it) He has made a habit of laboriously transcribing notes both in and out of game on what happens, and is basically the guy the party defers to when it comes to clarifying what has been learned.
The Assassin was role-played to be like LIIVI (another fa/tg/uy) and was all around awesome. He was going along with the flirting because it was pretty close to Love Can Bloom in that the two met while trying to kill each other (long story). He LOVED his Long Las, and had pulled off a couple awesome headshots. His new char will be a Cleric, and Monodominant, so the interactions with the Psyker should be awesome, as the Psyker will probably agree and flagellate himself more.
The Scum wore one of those exploding collars and had previously been part of the cold courier guild or whatever it is called and had a fake lung (player refused to run or charge too, which I thought was an awesome choice to reflect having one lung) and was an asshole and reluctant ally to the party. His new char will be an Assassin with the Moritat background, so he will be a slice and dice fucker.
That cover them good?
Part IIOkay, so here's what happened last session in the wonderful world of Grendel. The group of acolytes had been dispatched to Solomon, as there were rumors that something might be afoot in the lower parts of the hive. Over the last several weeks, disappearances named as sacrifices to the 'Beast of Solomon' (widely believed to be a myth by majority of the inquisition thought up to give the people living and working there a sort of mental release, a reason that their lives are so terrible) Have risen dramatically, to the point that work is slowing drastically. Grendel and Co get sent in to find out what's going on and get the lower hive back to normal, or order a massive purge on it, whichever is necessary to prevent the taint from spreading to the upper hive, as their inquisitor owes some favors to Nobles in the upper hive there, who called in their markers to get this shit resolved.
Oh, and for future reference, the other characters have the following names: Volg Hive Guardsman: Bruul Dakka. Feral World Guardsman: Grak Hak. Imperial World Arbitrator: Acadia Inez. Forge World Tech-priest: Barbosa Cromwell. Imperial World Psyker Able Bones. Noble Born Cleric (prev. Assassin): Alaric Nihilius. Dusk Feral World Moritat Assassin(prev. Scum): Roth Garm.
Anyway, on the travel to Solomon, we get accosted by pirates shortly after exiting the warp (GM randomly rolls each time). They get past the batteries and dock with our transport, and send in a boarding party, and since they docked in the hallway outside our rooms (we got BAD rooms for the trip) we are the first thing they run into. Thankfully, the blaring sirens and sounds of shouting invaders did wake us, and we had time enough to set up cover and make the hallway something of a deathtrap, and after killing sixteen pirates who tried to rush us, the rest are bunkered down, and we have ourselves a stalemate. After a few rounds pass with only an occasional trade of potshots, Grendel (who had not hit a single pirate with his stub revolver) has an idea. He confers with our new Cleric Nihilius (who had taken the Firebrand redemptionist background) for a bit, and then after fiddling a bit, walks out into the open (he was made to take a fear test to walk down bullet avenue, but failed by less than a degree, so after spending a bit of time whimpering, he went).
The pirates, seeing this, get ready to turn him into a pile of bullets, before a few of them pass an awareness check to notice Grendel had strapped twelve flamer fuel canisters to his chest, and was holding a firebomb in one hand and a molotov (quick and dirty conversion of rotgut using a piece of cloth) in the other with a lit Iho stick in his mouth. The pirates who passed the check proceed to frantically prevent their less observant compatriots from opening fire. So Grendel walks until he is pretty much right in the faces of the pirates, and proceeds to try and threaten to blow himself up and kill all of them if they don't get off the ship. GM makes Grendel roll an intimidate check(he is unskilled in intimidate). He rolled a 99. GM rules he stands there stuttering and gibbering for a moment, at which point Grendel spends a Fate Point to re-roll. He rolls a 1. The pirates flee for their lives, leaving behind their fallen comrades.
Grendel, before the campaign even truly began, pulled a Gran Torino-esque crazy old man moment, and made pirates run away from one fat guy.
So, thinking we are hot stuff after looting the fallen pirates, the Captain and the other passengers/crew members show up, and congratulate the acolytes. The Nihilius decides to try and charm the captain into upgrading their room and board, maybe even pay them for services rendered, in light of their actions. He rolls to charm, and rolls a 100. Nihilius insults the 'lesser beings' that are all those not of the Nobility, and turns the admiring masses into bitter and angry fucks, who proceed to think of us as racist, assholic dicks. Way to go Nihilius. We are advised to stay in our piss poor rooms until we arrive at Solomon, and we do. Nihilius is convinced it is the psyker Able's fault, and Able morosely agrees, and flagellates himself in the corner, crying about what a repulsive mutant he is.
The rest of the trip passes without incident, and we land on Solomon, and get down to investigating. We hit up the Administratum, the local law enforcement, and briefly speak with some of the nobles who strong-armed our Inquisitor into doing this. Pretty much all we get is generic legends about the Beast of Solomon, and how things sound like they got worse in the underhive. Rather clearly we will have to investigate there. So we head down to the underhive, and start asking around. Pretty much every time we mention our topic of interest, people get scared shitless and run the fuck away. Understandable, as fluff presents the Beast of Solomon as being a terrifying legend. So, we are getting nowhere, and decide to call it a day after meeting back up and heading to a seedy hotel in the underhive to spend the night.
During the night, Able is awakened by a group of robed and cowled individuals trying to bodily spirit him away from the hotel. In panic, he manifest Warp Howl, and manages to fuck that up with a Psychic Phenomena, and now everyone is floating up onto the ceiling. Predictably, this manages to wake up everyone, who proceed to Able's room, to find Able alone, who proceeds to start apologizing profusely for not catching any of his abductors. Nihilius calls him warp tainted scum not fit to breathe, Able cries, and the Tech-priest Cromwell punches Nihilius in the gut and tells him to stop being a cunt to his teammate, there are more important things to do (Cromwell really only punched him just for a chance to hit a cleric, what with the whole opposed faiths thing). Squabbling commences, and then everyone goes back to sleep with a watch order established.
Morning comes, and the Acolytes have a new topic of inquiry: robed abductors. For a while they get nowhere again, but the Arbitrator Inez actually finds someone who recognizes this, and after some cajoling he tells us that the cowled people took his sister around the time that the sacrifices to the Beast started drastically rising. Interesting. Another day spent inquiring reveals many people have had family members just vanish, and some have also seen these robed strangers taking them away, all taking place during the rise in sacrifices.
Quick backstory, the Beast of Solomon is an open ended horror legend from Disciples of the Dark Gods, and underhivers sacrifice members of their own family and friends just so that it doesn't kill them. These abductions are markedly different.
We even run into someone who had the balls to follow the abductors for a time, and saw them vanishing into the same parts of the underhive the Beast of Solomon is claimed to inhabit. We go back up to the overhive, and contact the Nobles who tasked our inquisitor (and us, by proxy) with this mission, and the cleric and arbitrator converse with them, saying how it would be far easier and expedient to solve this problem if they could help us get some local Arbitrators as backup. Some good charm and blather rolls later, and several of the nobles reluctantly agree. Simultaneous to this, the rest of the party has entered the Inquisitorial holdings in the hive, and after presenting their credentials and introducing themselves, explains how, if they could get some degree of backup, they can most likely make the local inquisitors look responsible for both ending the disappearances, resuming work levels in the underhive, and dispelling the Beast of Solomon myth in one fell swoop. A 1 and a 2 are rolled during this, and lo and behold, some acolyte trainees are sent to get experience with us, and a few Inquisitorial Stormtroopers. Awesome.
So, with allies everywhere, we proceed into the underhive, and start searching near the area the guy had led us to. Sure enough, we find a locked room with lots of noise behind it, and what Grendel identifies as cult symbols on it. It's GO TIME. The Inquisitorial stormtroopers blow the door off with charges and charge in, spraying bullets everywhere. We opt to let the Arbitrators charge in next, and go in last with the trainees, imparting the greatest possible words of wisdom to them: Let other people take the bullets for you.
Funny thing, as we charge in, we notice a great deal of brass and red colors. In fact, looking to near the back of the room, we see some weird lights and the Psyker gets some feedback from Psyniscience. We look at the grinning GM and realize he did it again: We just made a bloodbath out of a Khornate summoning ritual. Fuck. Double Fuck. A goddamn Bloodletter RIDING A JUGGERNAUT OF KHORNE pops in to say hi, and after about two thirds of our forces fail their willpower tests, charges us. What proceeds is a Scooby Doo chase sequence, with us running away from the beast, until the corridor branches. We all split and go different ways, because fuck this scares us. The Daemons charge after the two Guardsmen, Dakka and Hak, and everyone tries to navigate the labyrinth. Grendel and Cromwell make their way back to the cultist room first, and finds that the Inquisitorial stormtroopers and the arbitrators had cleaned up, and all the cultist are dead, and it reeks of blood everywhere in that room.
The four trainee acolytes with Grendel and Cromwell gag at the smell, but one remarks 'At least this proves the Beast of Solomon isn't real!'
Remember how the disappearances are different from the Beast sacrifices, and how the abductions are recent whereas the beast is not? GUESS WHAT SQUEEZES THROUGH THE VENTS TO SAY HI. Yeah, BEAST OF SOLOMON TIME. CUE MORE SCOOBY DOO FLEEING. So now pretty much everyone (stormtroopers, arbitrators, acolytes and trainees) are dashing around, both trying to keep away from the daemons (and the beast for those who know it is here) and trying to find each other. The Beast decided to follow Grendel, because all that fat makes for a savory meal I guess, and so Grendel and co are running like hell to get away. Eventually they reach a broken bit of underhive where on one side there is no wall, just a drop the whole way to the surface, about a mile down. And just as we are about to flee out the other pathway, here comes the rest of the party and helpers, chased by the daemons. Good times.
So, we are trapped and terrified, when Grendel and Able devise a plan. Able tries to cast a modified Psychic Stench, one to make something smell highly desirable instead of repulsive, and succeeds in casting it... on Grendel. Grendel charges forward, trying to get in between the monsters, while everyone else tries to get into the tunnels. Both the Beast and the Daemons charge Grendel, but there is a slight problem: Grendel is equidistant between them, and one awesome untrained dodge roll later, they have collided, with the Bloodletter getting thrown onto the Beast, who then tries to eat it's new friend, and the Juggernaut temporarily dazed.
Grendel declares he is going to try and climb and ride the Juggernaut. He is made to roll two difficult agility tests, one to climb it and one to mount it. He rolls a 9 and a 12. He then uses Grendel's Claw to goad the Juggernaut forward, and after making some awesome suggestive stabs, encourages it to charge, ramming some of its spikes into the Beast, still entangled with the bloodletter. He tries to turn the Juggernaut, and rolls a 2 on this attack, and gets the Juggernaut, Beast of Solomon and Bloodletter pile to all be moving at ramming speed straight at the broken part of the wall. He attempts to leap off the pile of bodies, rolls a 87 and fails miserably, and spends his last fate point to try again. He fails by one point.
Grendel leaps off the now plummeting pile of bodies, and Burns a fate point, and manages to wrap a hand around an exposed piece of rebar, as behind him a Juggernaut, a Bloodletter and the Beast of Solomon all plummet to their deaths. FUCK YEAH!
And, drum roll please, WHAT HAS GRENDEL WON FOR HIS BADASSERY TODAY!
1 new fate point, with that fresh point smell!
750 bonus experience, for doing the impossible!
+5 permanent Agility for his acrobatic prowess! (bringing the total to 32! He now is a fast fat guy!)
The Sprint Talent (for running away so much!)
1,000 Thrones from the nobles for doing so well at restoring work efficiency amongst their serfs!
A batch of fanboys made of trainee acolytes, arbitrators and a few Inquisitorial Stormtroopers!
BONUS INFO: He had still not bought any Sound Constitutions or armor by this point. Recognizing the folly in this, he bought ONE WHOLE WOUND and SOME MESH ROBES. AP 3 all, TB 2, 9 Wounds. HE IS NOW UNKILLABLE!
He also added a kill counter to his robe (It has caricatures of a Charnel Daemon, A Juggernaut of Khorne and a Bloodletter on one side, and a the Beast of Solomon on the other, which looks like a giant worm with teeth and scales)
AMUSING INFORMATION: The GM has now forced Grendel to take Forbidden Lore(Daemons) because he has been responsible for killing three different types (All with Malleus Majoris threat ratings) and RODE A JUGGERNAUT OF KHORNE LIKE IT WAS HIS BITCH. Grendel reluctantly agreed to actually learn something about the things he kills so easily.
Part IIIOkay, so Grendel and crew, after giving their report on the awesome shit they pulled off last time, got some downtime, both to go do their real jobs, and basically not have to worry about excessive probabilities for dying for a few months. Nice boring life for everyone, and a decent amount of money for working. Sounds great. But then our Inquisitor calls us in, and tells us 'Oh wait, that awesomely non-fatal lifestyle you were just living? kiss that shit goodbye, you are going to a warzone on a hive world rumored to have a severe amount of cultists on it, and have to try and rescue an Inquisitor who may have gone insane and might attempt to kill you rather than come with you. Okay, have fun.' Shit.
Okay, so we head out to Cantus, now mostly home to potential cultists, PDF and IG forces and a shit-ton of Orks. And MAYBE the guy we are looking for. So we get a transport, and fly out, making some passes through the atmosphere (the Orks as of yet have not gotten ahold of any aircraft, so high altitude flight is mostly safe) Huh. Our pilot actually picks up the Inquisitor's distress signal. This might not be so bad after all. Except the beacon is in the middle of an abandoned hive city that the Ork Warboss has made his home. Fun. So we land well behind the battle lines, and arrange a meeting with the nearest Commissar, a Commissar Russ, and present our identification and explain our purpose here, and then ask if he or anyone else can give us some maps or potential locations of Ork forces within the city so we can try and be sneaky. We also made sure to be unfailingly polite and NEVER interrupt him, because our GM has a hard-on for the parts of Commissar fluff portraying them as being psychopathic murderers that make the army work solely out of fear. Thankfully, we get some maps, and after a bunch of discussion and thought, establish a route that should hopefully get us to the beacon without having to fight anything more than small groups of orks, to thusly avoid being made the target of a WAAAGH and thusly die.
So, we commandeer a flatbed truck, and are about to set off when two things happen:
1: Dakka suggests we 'Orkify' the truck to hopefully get past a patrol or two, which the party wholeheartedly supports, and I get to work on, and
2: A small group of Sisters of Battle approach us (three) and inform us that their Legatine (or whatever the sergeant equivalent for SOB is) got orders from the Ordo Hereticus (the one our inquisitor belongs to) to give us some support, and these were the volunteers. One sister in particular stands out, since it matches exactly the fake sister cultist I had rolled up to present to the GM as a cultist of Khorne that tries to get close to Grendel, either to kill him or protect him from all non-Khorne-caused deaths.
I smile maniacally, and thankfully the other players think I am smiling at NPC helpers. Which I am, sort of.
So Nihilius is, for pretty much the first time, not an arrogant dismissive snob, as he lost a finger and got a vicious scar on his arm as a result of previously being snide to a SOB, and so presents a respectful exterior to prevent further damage. He does become even more malicious to Able, to such an extent that even Garm, someone who grew up on Dusk, thinks he is being a bit extreme. He causes a level of fatigue and five wounds of damage to Able, who all through the beatings is sobbing about how this is all a wretched mutant like him deserves, and he only calms down and heals himself after Grendel assures him of how capable he is and helpful to the party, and he heals and removes his fatigue, right as rain again....mostly. Except he rolls Psychic phenomena at the end, and gets Memory Worm. Our GM rules that Able actually forgets he got phenomena, and I (Cromwell) falcon punch Nihilius when he is about to berate him for it, so that Able actually gets to believe he just performed a chain of powers without incident, and is genuinely happy for the first time as an Acolyte. Inez d'awws, and messes his hair while congratulating him, and he beams.
Happy moment over, we pile into the now Orkified Flatbed (spikes nailed on everywhere, painted red, with barbed wire everywhere) and Grendel and the Cultist (named Benedicta) end up in the back together with most everyone. To pass the time to the city, Benedicta asks us to regal the sisters with tales of the accomplishments of members of the inquisition(us). Grendel starts to talk, but Dakka and Hak both interrupt him and fight over who gets to tell them about all the shit they have seen Grendel do. The two maybe real sisters are most impressed, and murmur prayers of thanks to the God Emperor for so blessing one of his children to do his will. Benedicta smiles and talks about how powerful he must feel, having felled so many powerful foes in battle, to which Grendel reluctantly agrees, making her smile all the wider.
We arrive at the city, and immediately a real ork vehicle pulls up alongside us, and shouts out a challenge to a race, since they believe that their red truck is faster. Rather than responding, Dakka (the driver) guns it, and the orks take this in stride and we start to race to the city versus a truckload of orks. Nihilius finds this to be most unseemly of a noble, and tosses an entire belt of grenades into the ork truck, and commands Dakka to ram them after they go off. The grenades go boom, the orks LAUGH and Dakka does a drive check to ram them, and rolls a 2. The ork truck veers and starts flipping, and by the time it has flipped all it will, it is mostly pieces. They got an orky death, at least. Okay, so we actually get in the city now, and have to ditch the truck, so it is time for sneaky stuff. We are doing good, and several hours pass very uneventfully, until we get about three blocks from where the beacon is coming from. It is at that point an awareness test reveals something very strange: A symbol of Tzeentch on a steel wall with a giant X gouged through it by some mammoth weapon and a symbol for gork and mork crudely carved in next to it. Able gets weirded out, and rolls psyniscience. Guess what, clear indication that bad shit went down right in the direction we are heading.
We get to the beacon, and there is no inquisitor left. But then the entire building with the markings EXPLODES, and a giant ork in Mega Armor (presumably the warboss) is thrown out of the building, and nobs and orks aplenty boil out to follow him. Now what the hell could have done that? Out of the smoky rubble, an (Grendel rolls forbidden lore daemons and passes) UNBOUND DAEMONHOST floats out, clearly engorged with biomantic powers (fucking huge muscles, metal-like skin, etc. enough so it could cold clock a WARBOSS). But wait, that's not all, down a side-street boil some bloodletters and cultists (presumably of Khorne), heading into this clusterfuck. We decide to back the fuck away, as this shit looks ridiculous. The two sisters charge the daemonhost, warboss, orks, bloodletters and cultists, like good little zealots, and are EATEN by the daemonhost who now looks over our way. WONDERFUL. SCOOBY DOO, DO YOUR THING. We run like little bitches, which surprises the crap out of Benedicta, who was expecting some Grendel badassery. FUCK YOU, WE RUN. Besides, pretty much everyone but Grendel and Benedicta failed their fear test in such a manner that makes them want to run.
So, we flee, and thankfully the warboss finds the daemonhost such a damn good opponent that it bodyslams it and tries to chop it up right and proper. We do not stay to see the end, and somehow we lose Benedicta while run away. And when we round a corner, several of the cultists and two bloodletters round the corner for some HAPPY FUN TIME. Initiative is rolled, Grendel gets a one, the Bloodletters (acting as a duo) get ten. They both charge Grendel. One hits, and Grendel makes his dodge. The other hits Grendel in the head with his giant fucking axe, and we all think grendel's story has ended. the daemon rolls two ones for damage, and grendel gets a bloodletter axe in the face without much incident. This is the first time Grendel has ever been wounded by a daemon, and apparently that unlocks his nerdrage as when his turn comes, he announces he wants to try and kill them both. I guess the player wasn't really feeling like he would live long, so he decided to go for rule of cool. The GM rules he must make a -20 agility test to try, and then must try and hit both with a -20 to weapon skill to each attack. He rolls. 2, 2,1 He rolls damage (GM said roll once, it is the same hit.) Rolls a ten, confirms still with the -20 penalty by rolling a 4, and then rolls ten, ten, ten, nine. Grendel just disemboweled two bloodletters in one strike.
With this event, the tide of battle turns very sharply, and Grendel and co proceed to curbstomp the cultists without major incident, and after thoroughly checking for any other pursuers, hastily grab some loot and retreat to regroup. Even when running away, Grendel decided to bitchslap Khorne. And oh so mysteriously, Benedicta shows up again, covered in gore and blood, with a glowing smile, and after being told of Grendel's feat, embraces him, blessing him for his prowess (thanks made to the emperor are decidedly absent, but most everyone is too busy trying to make Nihilius stop kicking Able for not taking a bullet that, after being dodged, hit Nihilius. He thought it very unseemly for such a noble personage as himself).
So, we are celebrating our luck, both with the combat and getting back one of our NPC 'Helpers' and getting some decent loot, and times look good. Oh wait, we only got a block or two away, and not ALL of the orks following the warboss can be engaged with the daemonhost. So right as we are getting ready to retreat a safe distance and wait for the battle to either move, change or maybe call the PDF/IG for some artillery support, a few dozen orks plunge towards us, with three nobs leading the way. This starts looking bad, but wait, The orks are rolled as three groups and roll 1, 1 and a 2 as initiative, and Nihilius AND Benedicta have flamers and training in them, and both open up while everyone else unloads full auto (except grendel, who has a revolver, and misses terribly) By the time the orks get to act, so much devastation has been lain on them that only the three nobs (two on fire) and four 0 wound orks are left. The orks just got out-orked. This is compounded by them now failing tests versus pinning and hiding while WE FUCKING CHARGE THEM. the battle is decidedly one sided (they are still on fire) and is ended by Grendel putting a bullet through the skull of the last nob (the one not on fire who had been hit the least) in the second round . We are feeling pretty awesome from tearing our way through so many enemies in such a short time without suffering severe wounds, but wait, all the noise we have made has made even more orks, nobs, and some gretchin and squigs come our way. Retreat sounds good.
So, we scooby doo ourselves out of there, and get away pretty well since Benedicta has hip shooting and while fleeing puts out some full-auto suppressive fire back at our pursuers alongside Hak and Dakka lobbing back a few firebombs, and enough foes fail the pinning test/get set on fire so as to clog the pathways for them and allow us to escape. So we regroup several blocks away in an abandoned facility, and there are enough rooms that everyone has a place to bunker down/scrounge for stuff to use. Grendel is all set to use some down time to peruse a few tomes on Orks he had gotten from some Xeno-Archivists when they came to scout him (he is still thinking on it) when Benedicta comes into the room. She starts up a conversation, asking how someone who is essentially a librarian found themselves fighting daemons and xenos, that sort of thing. Grendel explains he happened to read a forbidden book by mistake when checking it to see where to catalogue it, and had then turned himself and the book in to a local arbitrator he knew (Inez) who brought his story to the Inquisition, where both eventually got recruited. It certainly beat getting mind-cleansed or purged for knowing it. Benedicta perks up at this, and ask if Grendel can share any knowledge about it. He says it's fine for him to admit knowing it now as a member of the inquisition, and relates that it was documentation of some strange Daemon or Xenos that had terrorized Valhalla for decades before a squad of Space Wolfs came, pursued it into the nearby mountains, and the leader of them slew it in single combat. (FYI while this stuff is going on most of the rest of the party are getting field treatment from Cromwell or trying to make the location defensible)
Benedicta sidles closer, asking if Grendel thinks he might have been able to kill the beast, to which he quickly responds he finds the idea laughable. Benedicta reminds him that he has by all accounts killed things that even space marines can fail to defeat, and did so as nothing more than a man, not some genetically augmented and supremely trained super soldier. He tries to play those events off as simply being the divine emperor's protection, but Benedicta will have none of that, saying victory in battle goes to the stronger and more determined, always and forever. Grendel frowns, questioning this, as did not Benedicta's own sisters fall before Xenos and Daemons? She shrugs, only a hint of melancholy on her face, and wonders what choice would two people have in the face of such foes. She shifts closer still, and leans towards Grendel, and then proceeds to say, and I quote
"Yes, again and again men have died fighting enemies of the imperium stronger than them, more implacable then them, and only through the strength of numbers and the strength of technology, be it the Navy or that which turns men into Space Marines, does the imperium still stand. And yet you, a lone man, as bereft of power as one could find in the inquisition, you stood against foes stronger, more fierce than you, perhaps more powerful than any servant of the imperium, and did not die. You flourish in the face of that which strikes down others, and always emerge alive and whole, and stronger for it. I question whether you are simply a man, or something more."
At this, while Grendel fumbles for something to say, Benedicta embraces him, saying that a child born of such blood would truly be a warrior and conqueror by birth, destined to crush his foes, and goes on to say it is her duty, no, her privilege to bear it, if he will serve the Imperium in such a manner (please note the GM specifically avoided having her say the child would serve the imperium, and no one noticed. Awesome roleplay). The GM has Grendel roll to resist seduction, and he rolls a flat 100. Thankfully, the GM skipped going into the act because that could have been creepy. Afterwards, Grendel tries to rationalize what happened, which is made easier by Benedicta simply stating he did his duty. So anyway, with this done, the party regroups, everyone none the wiser to what Grendel and Benedicta just did, and discuss their options. While Benedicta is still advocating wholesale assault of the Orks, the remaining Khornate cultists and the presumably Tzeentchian Daemonhost, pretty much everyone else vetoes the plan as being a suicide job. But wait, Nihilius actually says something useful! He suggests trying to rig this building to collapse via undermining key parts of the foundation, support beams etc. with both brute force and explosives. After rigging it, he suggests we attempt to lure the opposed forces into the building, exit out one of the other ground floor entrances on the other side and blow the building on top of them, thusly avoiding soiling our hands. We all love the idea, and the GM lets us start setting it up, since both Guardsmen have demolition, we have plenty of grenades, and several firebombs/flamer fuel canisters to turn the ground floor into a flaming deathtrap around or potential pursuers. We all agree that, assuming we pull this off, even if we don't find the inquisitor we will sure as hell have accomplished something.
So, some time passes, and right about as we finish rigging the place to explode in just the right manner, a slight hitch appears in the plan: The three-way fight is heading our way. Even better: there is no way for us to get to the first floor and leave before they get inside. We are trapped in a building we just set up to explode. After quickly appraising the potential to jump to a nearby building (not happening) or find some rope (none left, we used it all securing the traps) We hit on an idea. We have exactly three frag grenades left, and are on the fourth floor. If we use the grenades to blow a hole through the floor, drop down and then leap out the third floor window, we have a relatively decent chance to survive the fall. We run this by the GM, who rule we must cause at least 30 explosive damage to the floor with said grenades for this to work. We pull the pins on the grenades and drop them in a little circle we made out of rubble to prevent them from rolling around and hightail it to get behind cover, all the while hearing the sounds of fighting growing closer. BOOM BOOM BOOM 24 damage, six short. Hak spends a fate point, and his roll of 4 for damage transforms into a 9. 29 damage total. Dakka spends his only point to re-roll, and gets a critical, but doesn't confirm. 3 damage has been exceeded, and the floor caves in on the far side of the room with a mighty crash. Assuming this is going to attract unwanted attention fast, we spring up and run over, Grendel getting there first because he is sprinting like a motherfucker. We all jump down, and thanks to the short distance, no one incurs damage. Grendel pops off a few shots with his stub revolver at the window, bursting the glass just before he reaches it, so Grendel explodes out the side of the building amidst a shower of glass, gun in hand, and about eight meters off the ground.
He proceeds to start rolling agility tests to see how far he counts as having jumped down before starting to fall. HE MAKES ALL EIGHT ROLLS, and is then rolls one final test to avoid damage from the falling glass, which he also makes. Definitely a smooth exit. Everyone else is right behind him, and thankfully no one dies from the fall, but the party is re-injured (especially Cromwell and Able). A quick glance at the building shows that our flashy exit has attracted attention, and a large number of orks and cultists, while still fighting each other, start charging our way. Dakka presses the button, and suddenly, the entire ground floor (where all of the enemies are) is covered in fire, and mighty explosions begin the collapse of the building. Several hundred tons of concrete and metal descend into the swirling inferno where all our potential foes are fighting. We all fail the agility test to remain standing, and are thrown back by the massive gust from the rapidly changing nearby structure, now a giant pile of rubble. As we regain our feat, a bit worse for wear, we are still smiling, as this looks like we might have done in our foes. The thought doesn't last very long, as with a screech of grinding gears, a massive slab of concrete is hurled aside as the warboss, battered but still alive, regains his footing, and is looking right at us. We have to roll surprise (things usually don't survive a burning building dropping on them) and all fail. The Warboss pulls out his snazzgun, and unloads on us. Or tries to, but it overheats and he drops it to the ground. Before we can really do anything, two things occur simultaneously: We start hearing distant explosions but see nothing happening, and another slab of debris is pushed aside as the Daemonhost gets back up, still infused with biomantic power, and charges the warboss.
As they continue pummeling each other, refusing to budge from their final fight, we hear high-pitched whistles that swiftly grow louder, and seconds later explosions start blooming all around the city. The PDF/IG forces apparently decided the explosion we set off meant something bad had happened in the city, and decided to capitalize on it by shelling it. The way to the truck (to flee) is right through the warboss/daemon fight , and the rubble from the collapsed building has rendered any other path toward the truck a no go. We could retreat away from the fight, but it would likely double the amount of time it takes to get to the truck, and with the shelling, that could be just as fatal as trying to get past the fight, if not more so. But as we are trying to figure out what to do, Grendel announces he is charging over to pick up the warboss's dropped snazzgun, now cool again, and wants to attempt to discharge it on the ork. As he charges in, we finally hear the few aircraft from the PDF/IG forces overhead, dropping more bombs. Everyone else runs after grendel, as anywhere is better than where they are. Grendel has to roll concealment while running to be able to pick up the gun while so close without getting noticed. He succeeds. He fires the Snazzgun, and unfortunately, the hit is in the body, and Mega Armor give 14 AP to the chest. We all think his cool idea is going to fizzle, but wait! He rolls damage, and rolls TWO TENS. He confirms the critical, rolls again and gets a nine and an one. He spends a fate point to re-roll the one and gets another ten. He then rolls a nine. that is 10+10+9+10+9= 48 energy damage to the chest. Not only does he kill the warboss by blowing a whole clean through his chest with a beam of energy, he also accidentally ignites the ammunition there, which proceeds to explode. The GM rolls the blast radius, as 3m, so while the rest of the party is fine, Grendel has to worry about more damage while at 5 wounds.
BUT WAIT, HE MAKES HIS AGILITY ROLL, AND NOTHING HITS HIM. We are all feeling pretty happy for Grendel, when the GM abruptly announces he is rolling for the Daemonhost to dodge, as he was also in range. The daemonhost fails. He rolls the damage (1D10+5 X) and we all watch as he rolls a ten. After thinking for a bit, he decides that righteous fury, or something similar, should apply here, and has the daemonhost roll to dodge again as the means to see whether it is confirmed. The daemonhost fails the roll. The GM rolls damage again. HE ROLLS ANOTHER TEN. He slams his head down, and scoops up the dice and rolls again. Nine. Grendel just killed an Ork Warboss with his own gun in one shot, and killed an Unbound Daemonhost with the ensuing explosion, but came out of it without a scratch.
As we all get ready to continue running, the GM says to roll an awareness test. Garm passes, and notices a rosette of the inquisitors on the daemonhosts remains. Well, we found the inquisitor, but no chance of bringing him back now. Garm quickly pockets the rosette as proof, and everyone hightails it, fleeing as fast as they can. Occasionally, a bomb drops nearby, and the party has to roll to avoid shrapnel. A few cuts and scars-to-be later, we are almost at the truck, when a shell strikes a nearby building, and it starts to collapse on the path. Everyone is running as fast as they can, but Benedicta got hit in the leg previously pretty hard, and can't hobble along as fast as everyone else. Seeing this, Grendel picks her up (succeeding on the strength test with a roll of ONE) and sprints along, just getting out from under the building in the nick of time. Benedicta stares up at him with wide eyes and a parted mouth, and the GM tells Grendel that his chivalry counts as a Charm attempt with a modifier of +30. He rolls a 1, seven degrees of success. The GM rolls for Benedicta to resist Seduction, and rolls a 99. In that moment of Gallantry and Badassery, picking up the wounded SoB while fleeing a city being shelled, Grendel made Benedicta fall for him (sex didn't count, that was mostly the job to her before)
They all pile into the truck and tear away, riding into the sunset (which happens to be behind the PDF/IG Camp), tearing off the barbed wire and spikes as they go. When they arrive, they are greeted by a WALL of cheering and joyous Guardsmen, as apparently some of the aircraft had had cameras on Grendel's moment, and know he killed the warboss and some monstrous daemon. The party, and Grendel in particular, are showered with cheers and thanks, and get to be the heroes of a giant party as the PDF is pretty happy that the Orks got almost completely wiped out (they are still shelling and dropping bombs, since they aren't so stupid as to not try and prevent spores from getting loose). As the party winds down, Benedicta approaches Grendel while he is away from the rest of the party, and while blushing faintly thanks him for saving her. Grendel stands there awkwardly for a moment, and Benedicta continues, asking him if he sees how he is different from other men, how the middle of a warzone seems to be his place to flourish. He responds that he doesn't honestly know, and she smiles for the first time he has seen, and asks him to simply think about what he could do if he were to embrace his talents. With that, she promptly kisses him (much to Grendel's surprise) and turns around, departing into the crowds with only a single glance back, the smile and the blush still adorning her face.
Oh yes, the Kill counter on Grendel reads as follows now:
Left Side (Daemons) :
Charnel Daemon Caricature
Three Bloodletter Caricatures
Juggernaut of Khorne Caricature
Unbound Daemonhost Caricature (eyes everywhere, claws for hands, snakes everywhere and had scales)
Right Side (Xenos) :
Beast of Solomon Caricature (mini dune worm with more scales and teeth)
Ork Nob Caricature
Ork Warboss Caricature (complete with Mega Armor)
Additionally, for pulling off the whole 'killed a warboss with his own gun and killed an unbound daemonhost at the same time' and for killing two bloodletters in one hit simultaneously, he got:
1 more fate point
1500 XP for crazy badassery (this is in addition to the experience everone got for all the fights and building collapse and such)
Custom talent 'Fearless of Orks' (Ork fear ratings are ignored)
Grendel's Claw got upgraded for more daemon blood and putting down a few orks, and is now:
A Best Quality Mono Sanctified Knife That can re-roll a missed attack once per round against any foe, and gets another re-roll once per round against Daemons (meaning he needs to miss three times in a row to miss a daemon) and Daemons cannot parry the knife due to its extreme anti-daemon history.
And the love of YET ANOTHER planet. That makes Solomon, Ambulon on Scintilla and Cantus that all know Grendel's name and face and find him awesome.
The GM also said we will soon be having a mini session where Thorians come to investigate Grendel between normal missions, which is only natural considering the shit he pulled off.
Part IVAlright, so, after the last mission, there was pretty much no way to deny that Grendel was ever so slightly different from the usual Acolyte, what with being a librarian that kills big-ass daemons and xenos like little bitches. So, after we came back and got debriefed from our last mission, we got summoned to the Inquisitorial Holdings on Scintilla, for 'Further Debriefing'. We did not like the sound of this, and were getting paranoid. But we went, since the request was delivered by a full platoon of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers and no less than THREE Inquisitors (we did not know any of them by reputation or name). But once we got there, we were split apart and put in individual rooms, all of which had, among other things, a chirurgeon, a tech-priest, an Interrogator and various mechanical implements, some of which were recognized as Pict Recorders and Excruciator Kits. Oh damn, this did not sound fun.
So, the GM plays the role of the Interrogator and crew for each player one by one, and the questions are both relieving, partially expected and at least partly disturbing in focus: Grendel. They just keep asking questions about Grendel, whether there were any details of his exploits we failed to mention, whether he evidenced signs of corruption and such. We answer truthfully, most of us erring on the side of giving more support to Grendel than is strictly necessary (he did save our lives multiple times, after all) with the exception of Cromwell, Nihilius and Inez. Cromwell just answered the questions as accurately as possible (other than a general dislike of the ecclesiarchy, he does not go in for having strong emotional investment in others), Nihilius was snide and tried to be dismissive of Grendel's accomplishments (the way he is about everyone other than himself), and Inez was getting pissed off at the potential accusations of corruption and by proxy heresy being levied at her old friend.
So, we make our way through all these dialogue sections, with only the occasional roll being used (Dakka trying to intimidate his Interrogator in to letting him leave on the basis of him 'looking scrawny and therefore weak' and getting bitchslapped, etc) until finally we get to the last interviewee: Grendel himself. Now while all the rest of the party got pretty much a batch set in terms of rooms and 'interviewers', Grendel got slightly different treatment. He was in a much larger room, all three of the new Inquisitors present, our ACTUAL Inquisitor, and two Psykers. They initially start off with the same line of questioning that was applied to the others, asking if what was in the reports was true, etc. After a bit of time, someone knocks on the door, and shortly informs the Inquisitors of what was said in the other rooms (almost exactly the same as what Grendel had been saying).
Upon hearing this, our Inquisitor (Gerrod Russio, of the Ordo Malleus), gets into a quiet argument with the other three Inquisitors. After a few minutes, it becomes clear that the combined authority of these three far outweighs Gerrod, who pauses to tell Grendel 'I did what I could for you, and still find you to be the finest Acolyte I have had serve me. I was going to transfer you to my personal retinue for a few missions, and Emperor willing put you forward as a potential Inquisitor, but our Thorian friends have 'loftier goals' for you, and as such I am ordered to relinquish all claims on you.' He leans in closer while gripping his shoulder, and whispers 'try to not die' before departing. How exceptionally reassuring.
So now the Thorians advance, and sit at the table across from Grendel, who at this point is pretty out of his league. Daemons are one thing, but being the target of singular interest by MULTIPLE Inquisitors, that is something slightly different. Anyway, they begin a little cooperative speech/lecture amalgamation that does nothing to put Grendel at ease.
'Acolyte, based off the reports and documents on your service in the last several months, you have performed... exceptionally well. Too well. In all honesty, what your are recorded as having accomplished is simply impossible, and yet every investigation that has been launched has turned up nothing but further evidence to support that you have in fact accomplished what has been claimed in the reports.'
'Quite simply, what you have done is possible only to those who have become so infused with chaos as to be monstrous abominations, or those blessed by the God Emperor. You have been screened repetitiously and exhaustively, and it has been decided that you are not tainted by Chaos. Hence why we are here. You could say it is our purpose to seek out those... like you. Servants of the Imperium who have performed.... too well to be feasible.'
'Hence why you are no longer under Gerrod's jurisdiction. You now will answer to us, and we already have a mission, of sorts, for you to attempt. We will bring you to meet the existing group of individuals that have been selected, and you shall then leave for your mission the next day. Timing is critical, and the mission data is highly sensitive. For now, all you may be told is that if you complete your mission, we will have more to say to you. That will be all. Dismissed.'
Now this sounded crappy to the rest of us, as we were all wondering what the hell we would be doing during Grendel's little caper, but wait! Our GM had already prepared new temporary characters for us all around Grendel's level. All of them had accomplished some decent stuff, (a couple guardsmen who held off part of a Warboss' assault alone for three days using terrain and trickery [Hak and Dakka's new chars], a commissar that strangled an astropath when he became a daemonhost [Inez's new char, complete with cybernetic everything, as the daemon did not go quietly], the tech-priest that somehow got the ship mostly safe and sound back out of the warp after the death of its astropath by temporarily taking control of the whole thing via interfacing[had good quality cortical implants and a shit-ton of talents related to machine interface, Able's new char], A cleric that burned a tau scout party to death alone [Garm's character] and two Scum who survived rescuing lo-hivers from a burning building for an hour unburnt [Nihilius and my new char's respectively])
So, we all read over our new characters, get used to them, and find a lot to like (they all have some nice quirky history, both shining moments and personal failures, etc) Only two of them were already acolytes before this mission (Inez's commissar and Nihilius' Tech-Priest), but Grendel still outdoes them in terms of number of missions completed (with an incredible THREE WHOLE MISSIONS, WOOO). So anyway, we fast-forward to the next day, when all the new characters and Grendel are meeting each other, and introductions are made, we share confusion as to what this mission could possibly be, the brand new acolytes desperately try and get some form of advice on what to expect, only to be met with silence by their elders (a mission from three Inquisitors where all the acolytes were picked for being 'special'? Does not sound very run-of-the-mill)
So we are nervously socializing in the hangar (we were told to report there) when the three Thorian Inquisitors show up again, and gather us up. We are handed a dataslate, and told to get on a transport ship, and read the dataslate after taking off. Okay, a bit secretive, but it's the Inquisition, that's their thing. We get on the transport (a fairly large one, at that) and are told we are heading to Cantus (for Grendel, this place is familiar to a degree, not so to the others) So we strap in and wait for departure. The engines start firing up, and then falter for a minute, during which time we exchange troubled looks, and Able's Tech-priest starts fidgeting with his implants, muttering about potential problems that could be assailing the ship, when the door to our cabin opens, and who rushes in claiming to be a 'last minute addition?' BENEDICTA IS BACK. Quick introductions are made as the engines wind back up to full speed, and Benedicta quickly squeezes in next to Grendel, who looks somewhat nervous at this development, and glances up to see her staring at him smiling for a moment before looking away.
And then the ship is in the air, and we have time to bust out our data slate, and review our mission, simply titled: Crucible. Apparently the IG sent to Cantus and the PDF both have fallen to chaos with incredible speed, and there are accounts of a space marine being seen in each force, which have now abruptly begun fighting each other (the dataslate confirms that the Astartes have sent no one to Cantus). Benedicta proffers that she was sent with them as one of the few people who had been serving with the combined army in the previous skirmish, and as such has some knowledge of their armaments, troop strength etc. that should prove useful. The Mission? Destroy the two traitor legions. We will not be the only forces sent to accomplish this goal, but we will be receiving no officially ordered backup, just any that we can scrounge for ourselves. It is preferable that this get accomplished before the imperial navy gets there (approximately three weeks after our arrival), since they have orders to perform an Exterminatus if the situation is not either resolved or severely changed by the time they arrive.
Great. This sounds like it will be a cakewalk. Oh, and in case this isn't enough of a challenge, we get attacked in the warp mere hours before we were scheduled to exit by a bunch of Hullghasts that, coincidentally, also chased out a few vagrants and a few Cultists of Khorne. Okay. So the cultists of Khorne start going mad (why did three of them have flamethrowers? WHY? And two had Chain Axes, the last had a Best Mono Great Axe), the Hullghasts are tearing into the passengers, and some of the vagrants were wanted men, as they decided to start firing wildly and capturing passengers to hold hostage. And just to clarify, when I say a bunch of Hullghasts showed up, I mean 46 Hullghasts plus 6 Cultists and 11 Vagrants (I guess a dreg or something similar). So anyway, we are getting SWARMED and a bunch of these enemies are actually pretty damn strong. So we blockade the central corridor, start using suppressive fire and liberal firebomb use to thin out their ranks. It is working pretty well, until the Cultists of Khorne breach the barricade after they all pass their willpower test to avoid pinning (I suspect the GM fudged the roll, but it certainly was thematically appropriate and kept the combat brisk).
Anyway, the three Cultists of Khorne (hereafter referred to as Cok) with flamethrowers go before the melee CoK, and open up with all three flamethrowers. Cover protects some of us (Grendel being one, along with Hak (Dakka does not like cover, as he fears it lowers his chance of being shooty), Garm's Cleric and Able's Tech-priest. Inez's commissar (bravely firing away as a commissar should, all while cursing both out enemies and our allies for not having killed the heretics already), Dakka and Both Cromwell and Nihilius' Scum (they did get nominated for actions involving fire, and we had great agility) are the ones that had to deal with fire to the face. Dakka somehow survives three separate agility checks and does not get burned at all (he is apparently a fire ninja), Inez's Commissar got burned, but only gets set on fire once (uses a fate point to re-roll, which negates it). The two scum under Cromwell and Nihilius' control, however... both get burned all three times and set on fire(that is with spent fate points for re-rolls). And of course, it is now time for the three melee CoK to charge. Fun.
So the first melee CoK charges Dakka, Chain axe just grinding towards his head. Dakka parries it with his gun with a chain blade bayonet, and then stabs the cultist in the face. Where he had no armor. With a Best Chain Blade Bayonet. He rolled a two and a ten, confirmed, and rolled a 4 and a 7. He skewered the CoK's head and plucked it off his body, and this was not even during his turn. Next melee CoK's turn. This time Inez's is under attack. The CoK misses, and Inez is fine. The final CoK charges in, and also charges Inez (apparently CoK hate Commissars, who knew), and successfully hits thanks to ganging up. It is now Grendel's turn, and he decides to grapple one the the two CoK on Inez. He succeeds, but causes no damage in the grapple. Dakka's turn comes up, and he proceeds to shoot off the CoK's face with his autogun, full auto. He rolls a 2. There is now just one melee CoK left. Inez goes next, and does a called shot at one of the flamethrowers the other three CoK are carrying, and hits. With a bolt gun. KABOOM. The PCs not behind cover have to roll agility to avoid getting knocked prone and roll agility again to avoid getting hit with shrapnel. The lone surviving CoK has to roll as well, and makes both.
Hak and Able both lob firebombs into the inferno, hoping to hit some of the charging Hullghasts, hopefully either killing or halting them long enough to turn some attention towards the Vagrants taking other passengers hostage and shouting demands (keep in mind about six seconds have passed since the fight started) The firebombs do wonders, setting several Hullghasts on fire that then set their compatriots on fire. The choke point is clogged with fire and corpses, and we deem it defensible enough that we can worry about the vagrants with hostages. Nihilius charges a vagrant with a hostage that has his back to him and grapples him, freeing the hostage and setting the vagrant on fire in the process. The vagrant burns to death as Nihilius strangles him, grinning maniacally. Cromwell (Got put out by the blast from the explosion) pulls out his Nomad Rifle (apparently richer than the average scum), and aims a called shot at another vagrant's face. Oh, he also had learned crack shot (the one that removes called shot penalties) in his past at some point, and rolled a 7. With 51 ballistic. With an accurate gun at less than half range, and we play with the errata 2.0 rules on accurate weapons for single shot.
So, the one vagrant's head explodes, showering blood everywhere (I imagine the hostage is not feeling too good right now), but then the GM frowns, and pulls out a ruler, fiddles with the map a bit then smiles. Apparently another vagrant/hostage combo was directly in the line of fire, and I have to roll a d10 to see which of the two I hit. Even for vagrant, odd for hostage. I roll a four. Cromwell just de-skulled two vagrants with hostages with one bullet. Well, the battle continues for a bit, us picking off vagrants for about a round as they grow increasingly frantic as they watch their comrades die (we only lost one hostage to an itchy trigger finger) when about a dozen BURNING HULLGHASTS jump through the inferno, set the one last CoK on fire, and all of them (Including the CoK) charge straight into us. At this point Grendel and Able both are hiding behind opposed pieces of cover, and are right next to the rushing hordes of Hullghasts. Grendel uses a reaction to toss an end of rope from his clip harness (which he compulsively wore ever since buying it after the warboss and burning building incident) and grab hold of some table legs and such to brace himself. Able's Tech-priest was a Mechanicus Secutor, with the Machinator Array which tripled his weight, and he pulled the rope taught.
The entire pile of Hullghasts and one CoK all end up in a big tangled burning heap, which Dakka and Benedicta burn to cinders with their flamers. For once, Benedicta is not smiling while killing (potentially knowing the fallen CoKs). Anyway, with that dealt with we go back to dealing with the remaining trapped hullghasts behind the barricades and finish up the fight, and start organizing the passengers and few crewmen present to help start cleaning up, hauling bodies to airlocks, and pilfering the dead. (Two new chain axes and a best mono great axe, aw yeah!) Dakka starts trying to convince Able to try and find some way to mount the chain axe on his Vanaheim (a full auto capable shotgun, fyi), to which the GM and Able agree, based on the inherent orkyness of the act. Able somehow manages to bolt it on, and Dakka is now armed with a fully automatic shotgun with a chain axe.
So as everyone is congratulating Grendel on his exploits and jokingly celebrating their new esteemed leader, Benedicta sidles off, wandering into the halls alone. After spending a bit more time with the new crew (Until a few got out some bottle’s of Rotgut, and after a few drinks the guardsmen had spiked the Commissar's drink with Stimm and Slaught and he wandered off to yell at a pipe and try to throttle it while violently twitching) Grendel also wandered off, looking for Benedicta.He found her the chapel (appropriate for a sister of battle), leaning against a back pew smirking at images of the God Emperor, occasionally looking at the statue of Saint Drusus with respect. As Grendel entered, she started talking, maybe to him, maybe to herself.
'A consummate conqueror, a warrior who led to glorious war on planet after planet, and he fell against something stronger on a small planet called Iocanthus. It was no surprise, his foe was stronger, more determined. And yet, he rose back up, pulled back from death, and resumed his fight, eventually killing his foe in brutal combat. And this man, this conqueror, murderer and warrior, is sanctified and exalted, for something that others might reward more. After all, he was only awarded a scant amount more time before he was returned to death, not enough time to fight at all.’
At this she turns to Grendel, and says, 'I fear you may be faced with a future not unlike Drusus, and I fear the Emperor is not as… watchful as he was during the years of Drusus. What will you do, Castus Grendel, if you were to fall before a stronger foe, and be doomed to die, your last sight being watching your slayer continue on. How would you feel, knowing you could not struggle further against your foe, an enemy of you and the Imperium? And better yet, how would you feel, abandoned by the power and miracles that have brought you so far?’
Grendel ponders these words for a moment, before replying, ‘If I knew the creature would die regardless of my failure, then I think I may be able to accept it. But if I were to know that my foe would continue on, to destroy more, to kill-‘ Grendel pauses now, to stare into Benedicta’s eyes, before glancing towards the floor again. Benedicta smiles an entirely different smile than before, far more gentle than the smile she showed to Drusus, and her cheeks rose slightly.
‘-If I were to be faced with that, I don’t know that I could feel so content at death.’
‘Still,’ He continues, ‘While hullghasts and vagrants are no uncommon sight on a ship this size, seeing some cultists, of Khorne no less, is another matter. I find it strange how frequently I have seen Khorne during my short career as an acolyte. I wonder, do the Adepta Sororitas run into so many? I have only seen one other example of chaos, that Inquisitor turned Daemonhost, and I find myself thinking there has to be some reason Khorne has been so… Present.’
(He has Forbidden lore Daemons, warp, and cults, all +10 or higher. He knows his shit)
Benedicta looks conflicted for a moment before speaking, her words much more hesitant than before.
‘As to the cultists on this ship, I would imagine that such a world as Cantus holds many enticing events, with the recent war against the Orks and now the legions turning traitor. Blood and skulls are cheap on Cantus now, and I imagine that appeals very much to Khorne and his followers. As to why you have seen Khorne so much… wherever there is slaughter, Khorne is there. Every bloodbath, every gory death, Khorne is there and watching. I imagine you feel you have seen him so much because you seem to end up in such situations again and again, death and killing all around you. As to the Daemonhost we saw,’
At this she pauses, grimacing, before going on, ‘I know not why Tzeentch would be there, but I doubt it is unrelated to why the IG and PDF after turning have fought each other. Gods do not take well to others treading on their machinations, yet Tzeentch seems compelled to do so. I find it likely we shall run into Tzeentch upon returning to Cantus.’
She looks as if she wishes to say more, but our ship shudders and jerks, as we return to real space. She get ready to resume speaking, but the ship begins to shudder again, for an entirely different reason: We are under fire.
Apparently we dropped right out of the warp next to space pirates, as soon the familiar sound of connectors breaching our ship could be heard echoing about. Inez starts bellowing orders as the drugged commissar exits our rooms, and when some now roaming pirates round the corner, he grabs one in each cybernetic arm, and starts slowly crushing their faces as they scream and plead, all the while looking at them with a face of hate and drug-induced mania. The rest of the party groups up with Grendel and Benedicta, and after sparing a glance to see they really didn’t want to bother the commissar right now, headed down the corridors, hoping to find the main group of pirates. Sure enough, a few corners turned and there they are, shouting and shooting as they pour in from a massive breach caused by their ship. We quickly hide behind cover, and are trying to lay down enough fire they pay attention to us without hitting them so hard they scatter throughout the ship in search of weaker prey. One of the times Grendel pops up his head to take a pot shot, He says he wants to do an awareness test to see if he can observe anything useful about the marauding pirates. He rolls and 11, four degrees of success, and the GM rolls on a table of his own (I asked him later, he actually made a D100 table of different ships of pirates, and had been using it since our first campaign months ago)
The GM rolls, consults the table, does a double take and starts laughing from the gut. Interested, we demand to know what he finds so funny, to which he responds, ‘They are the same group of pirates Grendel scared off on the trip to Solomon!’
We all start laughing, when Grendel announces he is going to grab some Flamer canisters, firebombs and a bottle of rotgut, and do a repeat performance. We start to mock him, then realize that it actually makes sense, as those pirates should sure as hell recognize this guy. We quickly rig him up, and then once again he heads out, smoking a Iho-stick and holding a firebomb and a Molotov with a dozen flamer canisters clearly strapped to his chest. Once again the GM rolls awareness for the pirates, once again the ones that pass stop their compatriots from shooting this man, and once again the pirates are faced with what appears to be a suicidal and scary as hell fat guy. At the same time, while they are staring in Grendel’s face, several pirates run screaming back into the main area, followed by Inez’s commissar, his face twisted into a snarl with bloodshot eyes and a foaming mouth, covered in blood and carrying two severely mutilated pirates (they were an entirely new set of pirates, not the ones he had grabbed before).
At this, the pirates decide fuck it, the Emperor hates them, and decide to flee. As they do so, the guardsmen both start lobbing hallucinogen grenades and fire grenades after them, and right as they start to disengage the tech-priest fires off an electrical burst at them for good measure. So their ship detaches, its crew burning and hallucinating and scared out of their minds, all while their ship malfunctions. Our ship takes potshots until they go boom. So we are once again greeted and thanked by the Captain, crew and passengers, when a shipman runs up to the captain, blurting that their sensors detected an Eldar ship heading towards Cantos before them.
And it was here we ran out of time. So next session, we will have to deal with a planet with two sets of traitor legions, potential orkish remnants and now apparently Eldar, and we will have to do it all before three weeks have passed, and do it without official backup. AWESOME.
Oh yeah, and I know this session wasn't that action packed, but it sure as hell set the mood for the clusterfuck we are heading to, and introduced us to some crazy new characters (I love the Commissar).
Part VOkay, so we resume play, and are once again in transit to the planet Cantus, after getting attacked in the Warp, and attacked again immediately thereafter, and surviving both incidences. The only issue left before we reach the planet is calming down the still hallucinating and psychotically murderous drugged up Commissar, Inez. This situation is solved by Able the tech-priest temporarily convincing the machine spirits in his cybernetic arms to stop working and locking him in a closet for the remaining few hours of the trip, which we blithely assume Inez will weather without much incident (After being taken out of the closet, we found the commissar had eaten part of his tongue, cracked a few teeth grinding them, and now constantly drools. Good thing they were not the charismatic party member, but the intimidation based one) Anyway, on to Cantus, the clusterfuck that will probably wipe our whole party.
So, as we get into low orbit over Cantus, looking for some sort of safe landing place relatively near the fighting (keeping our time limit in mind), our Astropath abruptly starts clawing his face open, screaming 'CHANGE COMES FOR YOU, SERVANTS OF THE CORPSE KING!' before his body becomes liquid. I don't mean that he transformed into a new material, but that his bones, organs, skin and all gained the consistency of water, and... flowed. Messy. So our astropath is dead, and it has been spelled out that Tzeentch is here, and most likely a damn powerful sorcerer. Great. But wait, it gets better. Apparently, either Tzeentch weakened our ships defenses, or the Chaos gods love topping each other, as several crewmen go berserk, clawing out throats and popping skulls barehanded with berserker frenzy, screaming about blood and skulls. One of them rounds the corner to where the Acolytes are, checking on the astropath's remains, and charges straight at Grendel... then abruptly turns and leaps on another crewman.
Huh, so both Tzeentch AND Khorne are here, as we suspected, but Khorne passed on a chance to throw foes at Grendel? What's up with that? Anyway, what with the chaos spawned mutiny, the ship is not flying too well, and it starts plummeting through the atmosphere. Able tries to take over the ship and guide it in safely, but he gets rather violently thrown out of the system, an image of a blue and gold mask staring impassively at him burned into his mind, and the ship shook violently as the course changes, aiming us right at an inhabited hive city. We madly scramble through the ship, trying to get to the escape pods, and find out that apparently, the passengers and crew who were not killed or rendered psychotic killers are much more adept at scooby doo flight than we are, and all the escape pods are gone. Great. So we rig up some explosives and let the tech-priest go crazy in the hangar as we keep eyeing the viewports, seeing the city getting distressingly close.
Oh wait, the city is opening fire on us. Apparently they don't want a ship to hit them. So explosions are going off everywhere on the ship, rocking about as debris and fire start gouting throughout, and all the while we are speeding towards a giant spire on the upper level. The ship explodes, mere dozens of yards away from the spire, showering hunks of metal and other detritus on the hive. One particular piece of debris is the cargo bay door, with a stabilizing rudder and a small engine quickly welded on. We are surfing through the sky away from an exploding ship a mile up on a rocket propelled metal surfboard. Well, most of us are. Grendel missed his agility roll to stay on the makeshift surfboard, and is plummeting rapidly. Or was, before he took off his voluminous robes and made them into an impromptu parachute, letting all his possessions drop to reduce weight (except Grendel's Claw, which is clutched in his teeth). So a naked fat guy with a monocle using his robes as a parachute with a knife in his mouth is descending on the city, pissed off that he lost his wallet.
So, the party minus Grendel plow into the ground, chucking them all rather violently about, but without causing any genuinely severe harm (a couple wounds is getting off light as hell for getting out of an exploding ship a mile up in the sky), but concerned about the fate of grendel. Now that they aren't speeding towards impending doom, they get a chance to really look at the city, and can tell it is... off. It is inhabited, no doubt on that, but the lower hive seems strangely quiet. And Grendel's Micro-bead (still in his ear) is detected as being in that general area (the GM has been rolling and having Grendel roll for a while on their own as we ponder this, but have done so quietly, so we don't know for what purpose). So, we set out to recover our lost daemon-murdering guy. Anyway, as we enter the lower hive of the city (name still unknown), we start to figure out why the lower hives seem quiet. There are bodies of dregs and workers to be found all around, with the occasional Ork dead among them. As we get closer to Grendel's proposed location, we hear a heavy grunting sound, and muffled curses. We draw our weapons, round the corner and find... Grendel naked atop a pile of freshly dead Orks, knife in one hand and hauling another orkish body in his other. Upon seeing us, he points at an exposed piece of rebar just out of his reach, upon which his robe is draped. Apparently in his descent, it got caught and torn out of his hands, and so when he got to his feet he had to fight a dozen or so Orks alone and naked. After murdering them, he set about piling them up so he could reach his garments. Benedicta is grinning at this, but whether it is at his plight or his rather bloodthirsty way of solving a problem is unknown.
So anyway, they help him get his clothes (not wanting to have to deal with a naked fat guy for any longer than is absolutely necessary), and are now headed up the spire, since as far as they could tell it was still operating and had people in it, and assuming that these people did not try to murder them (I know, a ludicrous assumption) a potential source of information/aid in accomplishing their impossible mission. So, with the exception of the occasional small batch of a few Orks, progress up is easy, until we get to the middle hive area. We are met with hastily thrown together barricades and a FUCKTON of guns pointing at us, and apparently whoever is on guard duty right then is either mentally deficient, scared out of their mind or a heretic, as they all open fire on us, screaming that the traitors have come. Apparently, the people manning the barricade are some retired guardsman who live in the hive as well as some arbitrators, just trying to guard their home. Still, bullets flying at us are somewhat disconcerting, and we are bunkered down behind some cover, thinking.
We want them to stop shooting at us, but we don't want to kill them either, as they seem to be just doing their duty and protecting their home from what they perceive as heretics. We can't talk to them, as the noise from the gunfire and walls makes it impossible to shout to them from our location, and there is no cover close to the barricades for us to dash to and then re-attempt to reason with them. We are mulling over ideas for a bit, but none really seem feasible, until Able's tech-priest starts to swear violently, and starts fiddling with some diodes and whatnot on his body. Shortly the firing ceases, accompanied by confused and frightened curses as our would be assailants try to clear their weapons, and Able is moaning about having hurt machine spirits, good cause or no. So we try and establish dialogue with them, and are met with limited success, until Grendel is recognized, and we are let in an account of being his groupies.
Alright, so there is that, and what kind of other ships have been arriving on the planet recently? Well, a ship that identified itself as the Imperator Zealous landed yesterday, carrying dozens of space marines and thousands of SOBs, and have engaged the enemy in skirmish action. They are not taking the time to share intel or plans with anyone, so what they are planning to do is unknown. There are no nearby IG forces, as they already came for the Ork problem, but have since decided to stay and KILL MAIM BURN. Other than that, no ship traffic at all since the arrival of the CSM. And when we inquire as to whether the residents want to help destroy the traitors, they ask why Grendel can handle it himself. To which the Commissar responds by blamming the Guardsman who said it. Cowardly and flippant remarks are not tolerated, not now. While the execution is mostly accepted, the point still remains that the Nobles won't commit troops that they feel are vitally required to keep themselves safe. So, the two thousand odd active soldiers, the thousand plus arbitrators and the thousands of retired guardsman are sitting pretty useless.
We look at our options and time limit, and come to a conclusion: Unless we can get these troops, there is no way we can really try anything against the traitor legions, they are simply too big to feasibly assault, ambush or otherwise damage appreciably enough in a few weeks. So we talk for a bit, and then hit on an idea: the inquisitorial holdings in the city is most likely stranded, since no ships are coming or going from Cantus anymore. As such, Grendel's position as senior acolyte and previous protector of Cantus, coupled with our impressive backing of three inquisitors might net us some more clout, with which to bully the nobles into committing their forces (we can't tell them about the exterminatus, we would just get a panic in the general populace and nothing would get done). So we head to the office after getting some directions. It is not a particularly large holding like on Scintilla, but it is still staffed with close to a hundred inquisitorial stormtroopers and dozens of clerks and trainee acolytes (The senior acolytes and interrogators already fucked off, as resourceful people should in times of trouble).
So, we talk with them, establish credentials, and inform them of the exterminatus (by them I mean the senior officials and the stormtroopers, people who have been in the inquisition for a while). Several of them had already figured out that all the shit going down on this planet right now is worthy of it, so it isn't TOO much of a surprise. We then suggest that if they help us get the Nobles off their asses and get all the forces in the hive city mobilized, we should have an appreciable chance of successfully damaging the chaos forces, hopefully enough so that we can get the fleet called off and deal with the problem more realistically, rather than using common grimdark tropes. We talk it out, and due to circumstances and staying in roleplay the whole way through the conversation, we manage to convince them to throw their clout behind us (Behind Grendel specifically, an Inquisitorial Stormtrooper here worked with him on Solomon before getting a rotation to Cantus, and two of the low level acolytes (level 3 we guessed) also did so, and are on leave and debriefing after their first mission. So, Grendel is now the de facto leader of pretty much all the remaining Inquisitorial forces in the hive city.
Well, that is great and all, but we still need to actually convince the nobles, people who think it is their god-emperor given right to tell others what to do and always get their way. So we immediately walk up to the HQ (set in the house of the most opulent noble) and jam our guns in their faces (while the stormtroopers put their guns in everyone else's face) and present them with a simple ultimatum: Either help us, and only die if we fail, or don't help us, in which case not only are you guaranteed death, but we will get your houses stripped of nobility and funds (a complete lie, we do not have anything close to the authority to do this). We are tasked to roll opposed intimidate vs. willpower tests against each respective noble we threaten. We pass all but one with ease, thanks to having some intimidate oriented characters and the nobles not being particularly hard-willed. The one remaining, however, smirks at us, presses a button on his belt, and disappears. We whip out an Auspex, but there is no trace of the individual. Even stranger, when questioning the other nobles, they say that on reflection, they have not seen that noble before a day ago, and just assumed he had been hiding in his manse until then.
Huh. So someone has micro-sized teleportation technology, a strong will, and bugs out when he can no longer take part in controlling the armed forces in the city. And no one knows this individual. Awesome. We are about to start forming a chain of command that insures the nobles can't pussy out when we get an urgent call to the vox in the house saying the Astropaths are under attack, before abruptly cutting out. Wonderful. So, we dash over, leaving about two thirds of the Stormtroopers behind to make sure none of the nobles have second thoughts. As we get close to the area in question, we see out of a viewport a strangely shaped red ship of clearly xeno origin. We skid to a halt right outside the door to the Astropaths, and as we start using signs to communicate a plan of attack, we hear strange noises coming from inside the room, like some eldritch language so old it can't be known. Oh wait, Grendel recently became a Xeno Archivist, and can speak Eldar. Nevermind.
So he listens in, and the gist of what is said is that eldars are conversing with each other, one of them clearly in a position of command lamenting that they can no longer have as much fun in the city as before, and saying the only way to salvage this is to ensure the residents stay disorganized (presumably accomplished by cutting off extra-planetary communications). So, having heard enough and not wanting to risk letting the eldar escape to their ship (and thus undermine our tenuous authority) we have some stormtroopers blow the door with breacher charges and about a dozen of them charge in. Sadly, the eldar are slightly faster than them, and their shrunken catapults dice the fuck out of half of them before they can even act. Not a great start. Good thing we had the bulk of the stormtroopers place charges and blow the whole fucking wall open as an entry point, through which the other stormtroopers and us acolytes charge through, preceding ourselves with grenades and fire, which usually makes for effective entry.
While some eldar are dropping fast from the two-tiered ambush from a larger force, most are still standing, and taking cover. Except for one, who is dodging grenades, bullets and fire with ease, laughing while cutting up stormtroopers with his sword. He shouts out something in eldar while gutting a stormtrooper, which Grendel translates as the individual mocking our inability to effectively perform an ambush, and proclaiming that Ulthyr Ellarion can certainly survive our feeble attempt. To which Grendel shouts back (in Eldar) 'Your name and prior accomplishments are irrelevant. Grendel has come for you!' Ulthyr looks shocked, apparently not used to running into mon'keigh that can speak eldar fluently. While we are all enjoying the awesome turnabout, Grendel BREAKS COVER AND CHARGES ULTHYR, AN ELDAR MASTER SWORDSMAN WITH HIS DAGGER. We are all surprised by this, especially when Ulthyr fails to dodge the blow and gets a dagger in the face. So, while we and the stormtroopers are fighting the other eldar, Grendel and Ulthyr are duking it out, running around the room as they do.
While we were impressed with his good fortune at the beginning of the fight, we were still expecting a bad end for Grendel, who usually fought bested foes this strong by being a lucky asshole, not by actually duking it out with them. And yet, as the rounds pass, he keeps dodging the attacks of Ulthyr, and putting his dagger in his face, again and again. Ulthyr keeps looking like he wants to try and taunt us, but getting stabbed over and over in his head seems to be making that difficult. Eventually, Ulthyr gets in a good hit, and smashes Grendel back, who slams into an overturned table. with blood coming out of his mouth, he rattles of a quick command in Eldar, then leers at us, and says in High Gothic 'A nice attempt, but I doubt the 'mighty' Grendel can fight our ship. Goodbye, mon'keighs!' And he retreats to his ship and the breach in the wall they made to kill the astropaths. Ulthyr was going to get away right after taunting us. What a dick.
Or he would, if his ship didn't start getting bombarded with rockets and shells. We had had six stormtroopers hang back with most of the demolitions and explosives that all the stormtroopers carried, and get set up to attack the eldar ship with rockets, as well as radio back to the stormtroopers staying with the nobles the need for artillery fire on the ship. So right as Ulthyr is about to escape, the third prong of our ambush cuts off his escape and isolates him as he watches his prized ship and whatever treasures were contained within burn and break as it plummeted to the ground. And as he turns around, preparing to do something, find some new crafty way to survive, Grendel smashed into him, shoving a firebomb in his mouth and pulling the pin, and then shoving him off the edge of the building. We got to see his body plummet several hundred feet, its head bursting into flame midway down.
Well, killing the last few Eldar was easy from here, but we were still bereft of astropaths, and needed to destroy two forces larger and stronger than ours in less than three weeks, so fun killing eldar aside, we were still in a bad spot. And so we regroup with the other stormtroopers after looting the fallen eldar and retrieving the fallen stormtroopers, and start discussing options. I say start, because about ten minutes into discussing, the meeting is interrupted by soldiers screaming that the traitor legions, BOTH OF THEM, are advancing on the city from opposing directions, apparently intending to make the hive city the home of their next conflict. Great. So we get to choose between trying to somehow wage guerilla warfare in a city absolutely packed with non-combatants with nobles who are very likely to try and bail to either save themselves or their wealth (or both), or trying to escape the city, which would mean damning the civilians, as there is no way to complete an evacuation in a timely fashion. And to make matters worse, any action has to deal with the lower hives being stuffed with Orks, which cannot be avoided by a group as large as ours.
So while we are thinking, Inez's Commissar slams his fists on the table (a loud act, what with breaking the table with his cybernetic limbs) and declares there is no choice but to stay and fight, and try and drag the heretics down with us. Dakka and Hak's guardsman mostly agree, but figure their talents at holding against superior numbers should behoove them. Able's tech-priest has hopes of being able to use the pict recorders around the middle and upper hives to keep an eye on any infiltrators, and suggests that if we keep the legions pinned in the lower hive with the Orks, we can potentially catastrophically thin their numbers. And even if they do damage the supports in the lower hive, they will just collapse the hive on top of themselves, which while likely to inflict severe losses on us would almost guarantee their complete annihilation. Not ideal, but workable enough that it sounds worthwhile.
Seeing our time rapidly running out, and having several emphatic supporters of staying and fighting, Grendel (who still has to act the leader to get the Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, clerks and acolytes and by proxy all the other forces following the PC's orders) commands that the barricades be strengthened, and all elevators rendered completely inoperable and stair blockaded as much as possible. Our goal will be to keep the top of the hive too prickly for the traitor legions to be able to attack us without exposing themselves too much to the opposing traitor legion, as well as to do what we can to keep the attention of the Ork remnants on the traitor legions, and away from thinking about assaulting the upper levels in earnest. We are like a monkey in a tree with three tigers beneath us, trying to provoke them into killing each other rather than simply climbing the tree and eating us. Or at least that is the analogy we want to believe, but we get rather thoroughly disabused of it by the second day of traitors and Orks fighting in the lower hive.
Apparently, that many traitors and cultists in the lower hive is not very good for the mental health of non-chaos inhabitants, and we have a cleric spontaneously go insane, and start murdering praying citizens, tearing out their throats with his teeth and other fun stuff. He gets put down pretty fast by some off duty stormtroopers that were nearby to get some food, but he still killed about a dozen people. Later that same day, some luckless bastards found a flamer of Tzeentch just wandering about, and proceeded to get burned to cinders. It was only fifteen minutes before it was found by some guardsman, but it still killed plenty. And while all this is going on, all of us acolytes are busy checking on the barricaded front lines, ensuring that there is no unknown access from the lower hive to the upper hive, managing the placement of the troops and basically being crazy busy. We have to rely on the troopers to deal with the bits of chaos getting through, but it worries us a great deal, and makes us partly wish we had a Psyker right now (although seeing how fucked over we are, he would probably explode into enslavers).
So, about a week passes, with the daily chaos incursions getting worse and worse, to such a point we have the civilians traveling in giant groups with armed guardsmen at all times. No one is allowed to wander around alone, and most homes are temporarily abandoned in favor of larger communal areas. Not pleasant for the already frightened civilians, but hey, it beats having to run for your life from a nurgling for thirty minutes before you find someone who can kill it. And while the situation in the upper hive has been having issues, so has our plan for the lower hive. While the Khornate traitor legion is all for fighting, and if they had their way would have either killed themselves or the other legion by now, the underhive has so many rooms and corridors, and is just covered in things to use as cover, the underhive has essentially devolved into a giant pile of guerilla warfare and lightning raids. As such, from everything we can tell the two traitor legions are relatively untouched by the fighting, losing only a few thousand each.
This is bad, as they still have around eight times our fighting force between them, and have sorcerers and space marines. Our hope that they would thin themselves enough we could actually make a dent in them is starting to fall apart, as at this rate there will be no time we could do anything other than a pointless suicide rush prior to the exterminatus deadline. We are completely out of options, until we finally see exactly one good thing happen: Space Marines drop-pods descending outside the city (we cannot tell which chapter, as no one present knows enough heraldry to be able to figure out who has grey blue suits and fur cloaks). After a tense few minutes, we establish vox contact with some of their number, and communicate that we are still alive and resisting in the upper hive, and fill them in on the extra intel we have (namely, that there are CSM in the traitor legions, which apparently our thorian inquisitors kept to themselves, the dicks). When the space marines respond, identifying themselves as being Space Wolves, and ask who is in charge of the survivors. A bit of two way communication, and we have a plan: All the inquisitorial stormtroopers and combat-capable acolytes and whatnot will be coming with us as we charge into the fray below with about four thousand assorted guardsman.
You may be wondering: How the hell will the Space Wolves tell friend from foe? We are all tying red scarves to our arms (generously 'donated' by several nobles), and using that as a distinguishing characteristic. Not the greatest plan, but in a time sensitive and scarce resource situation, what the hell else can we do? So, we charge down in two groups, taking two of the biggest stairwells, laying waste to the few scouts and stragglers nearby. Along the way, we run into a healthy number of Orks, but still, enemy forces are too spread out to be all that effective against our concentrated firepower. So we make great progress, inflicting sizable casualties with minimal losses on the way to the lowest level. It is at this point that things get slightly harder. Apparently all the scouts and observers and whatnot suck at counting, because there are a full dozen World Eaters, one of them in Terminator Armor with two giant chain axes with pulsing eyes and teeth covering them, and with chaos having warped his armor to be more sinister, with razored blades flexing and whipping out from it, and baleful screaming maws jutting out to try and feast on those opposing him. The guy looks like a daemon prince and is a goddamn nightmare, and is the first thing to ever make Grendel fail a fear check.
Now when I say Grendel failed his fear test for the first time, I do not mean to say he was alone in his fear. OUR ENTIRE ARMY AND EVERY PC failed. The guy is a goddamn daemon prince standing on top of a pile of dead soldiers with no less than SEVEN DEAD SPACE WOLVES in it, having fun fighting about a dozen more space marines alone WHILE HIS ARMOR IS BUSY DICING AND EATING BOTH FALLEN COMBATANTS AND CURRENT CHALLENGERS. The guy is a living engine of destruction, and sure as hell has a special place in Khorne's heart. And apparently the fight with the Space Wolves is pretty easy, as he turns and looks right at Grendel. Oh, and in case a goddamn daemon prince of Khorne isn't bad enough, also visible nearby are two Thousand Sons Sorcerers summoning up eldritch fire and foul daemons while smiting their foes with their force weaponry. Who also look at the new combatants with decided interest. What an awesome development.
Well, while both the Khornate Daemon Prince and the Two Thousand Sons are exceptionally dangerous, the point remains that they are by far the most dangerous things in both traitor legions. If we remove them, all that is left is a few generic world eaters and some regular sorcerers. Not pushovers, but relatively easily beatable by a combined Space Wolf/Inquisitorial Stormtrooper/IG/Acolyte force. Well, that is great that we know we have to beat these three individuals to make it possible to turn the tide, but every player controlled or influenced force is spazzing out at the insanely dangerous Khornate Daemon Prince, and with good reason. But it thankfully has only melee weapons and is far enough away that we have a few rounds at least to get our shit together and go on the offensive again. So now the question is, what do we attack first, the Khornate traitor legion's commander, or the Tzeentchian traitor legion's commanders? FUCK YOU CHOICES, WE PICK BOTH. After a round passes, at least half of our forces and all but Nihilius are again able to act, and we split up, Grendel, Inez and Benedicta taking most of the Inquisitorial stormtroopers and a thousand IG at the Khornate Prince, and everyone else mobbing the Sorcerers.
So, as the presumed captain of the Space Wolf force that came is fighting (and losing) against the Khornate Prince, about three tons of bullets come flying at the terrifying asshole from our forces, accomplishing a very slight bit of wounding and getting him rather pissed at us. As he is reorienting on his new assailants, Grendel, Benedicta, Inez, a couple low level melee oriented acolytes and eight Inquisitorial Stormtroopers all charge into melee with him, adding their bulk to the Space Wolf commander and his three nearby Space Wolves that are fighting the monstrosity. FUCK YOU SUPER MONSTER, OUTNUMBER RULES ARE HERE. While they charge in, all the rest of their forces are busy trying to free up every Space Wolf from combat they can, so they can go help their captain/chapter leader/whatever, as well as trying to keep the rest of the world eaters from regrouping with their commander. As such, all Grendel and co have to do is last several rounds in melee against someone who has been tearing space marines apart. No biggie.
So while this is going on, the rest of the PCs are trying to shoot the ever-loving fuck out of the two thousand sons and their followers. Now, while our attacks are making short work of everything unlucky enough to be near the two thousand sons, the damned sorcerers themselves are either predicting the placement of the shots or using the warp to deflect them. Either way, they are still standing pretty. And the moment they get to act, they summon up around a hundred flamers of Tzeentch. Now this may not sound that bad, but they summoned them in the middle of our IG forces, so SURPRISE, OUR ARMY IS ON FIRE. Well, this is bad, especially since the pansies kept running into their non-burning compatriots and setting them on fire too. But fuck it, they can either figure out to stop drop and roll on their own or are too stupid to be of use anyway. So we continue our assault, and while we don't actually cause pinning or serious wounds to the two thousands sons, our dm rules that enough bullets are hitting them that at the very least it is hard as hell for them to do any more summoning style sorcery. They do throw balls of warp fire and mind bullets at us and our troops, but thankfully no PCs die yet.
Back to the Khornate Prince, Grendel is badly wounded, Inez's commissar has lost an arm, five inquisitorial stormtroopers are dead, only three NPC acolytes are still standing, and two more space wolves fell. In three rounds. However, we held long enough, as eight more Space Wolves have joined the fray, we gave their leader a chance to breathe, and prevented all but one world eater from joining with the prince, and the one that joined him fell to one of the other Space Wolves. So the Khornate Prince is still alone and outnumbered in his little spot, much good that it is doing us. He is a goddamn blender of living knives, teeth and possessed chain axes. Thankfully, he can only target a max of four people a round, averaging twenty damage to each, no biggie. Well, he seems to be having the time of his life, in his own little eye of a maelstrom of blood and gore. Grendel and co are in a tenuous situation, there is no doubt on that, but the Khornate prince seems more interested in trying to kill everyone than the acolytes in specific.
Finally the Space Wolf leader gets in a solid hit with his thunder hammer, causing some solid damage to the Khornate Prince, and attracting his singular attention. The Khornate Prince slams him back THROUGH a wall, stabbing the crap out of him with his living razor blades in the process, and charging off after him. The next person to have their turn come up? Grendel. His response to this? HE CHARGES THE KHORNATE WORLD EATER PRINCE, JUMPS ON HIS BACK AND TRIES TO STAB HIM IN THE NECK. AND ROLLS A SIX ON SAID CALLED SHOT, STABBING HIM IN HIS FACE. AND THEN ROLLS A TEN. He confirms it, just barely, and rolls damage again. Rolls a 2, spends a fate point, and rolls ANOTHER TEN. Rolls again, gets a 1, spends another fate point (one left unspent now) and gets ANOTHER FUCKING TEN. Rolls one more time, and gets a nine. Just to put this in perspective, Grendel just hit the Khornate Prince with a knife just a bit harder than the Space Wolf leader did with a giant ass Thunder Hammer.
Back to the other group for a bit, Hak is dead, but managed to pull the pins on a few of the grenades strapped to him as he went, and since he had charged one of the sorcerers, it did not end well for him. Concentrated fire and liberal application of explosives dropped him, leaving us only one Thousand Sons left. Seeing the battle turning on him and being mostly isolated from the rest of his forces, He decides this shit isn't worth it, and bugs out, vanishing into the warp, taking with him the battered armor that houses the fallen thousand son. So while a great deal of the IG forces following these acolytes are busy, a few hundred around the acolytes are still unmolested, and follow as the acolytes head to help Grendel with the Khornate Prince. If he can be put down, that would mean all that is left are some severely outnumbered world eaters, and regular enemies, busy killing each other and orks, and too spread out to mob us. So, onward to try and bury the Khornate Prince under so goddamn many bullets that he can't move. Or so the plan goes.
Funny thing, between the solid hit from the Space Wolf leader, and Grendel introducing the Khornate World Eater Prince to Grendel's Claw, he just dropped from being a terrifying monster of incredible proportions to a very killable if still exceptionally lethal monster. Only thing is, it is said monster's turn now, and Grendel is on his back. He can't hit him with his super axes, but he can direct EVERY SINGLE BLADE AND GAPING FANGED MAW GROWING FROM HIS WARP MUTATED ARMOR AT HIM IN ONE GIANT MASS. But wait, no, fuck you daemon prince, Grendel dodges all of them while still clinging to your back, and you stab yourself with your own living knives. How does that feel, asshole? And now Grendel, immediately after dodging all that, tries to stab him in the face again. And rolls a 92. But wait, Grendel's knife gets a re-roll, and he rolls... 12, success! Damage.... Ten! Confirmation roll... 59, no dice. And with the crazy toughness the guy is sporting, the hit did nothing but distract him.
Which is enough, since another Space Wolf stabs him with a power sword, before getting hacked apart by the Khornate, leaving his sword embedded in his chest. When Grendel's turn comes up, he swings around to the front, hanging with one hand clutching the sword jammed in his shoulder, and tries to slam Grendel's Claw into the rent in the armor (treated as a called attack) before he gets hacked into bits by the giant fucking chain axes. Roll to hit... 99, whoops. Re-roll… 87, oh god. Spends a fate point, re-rolls…. 13, made it!. The GM has Grendel roll a strength check, which he rolls a goddamn one on. He is prompted to then roll an agility check thereafter, but not told why yet. He rolls an eight. Grendel slams his knife into the Khornate World Eater Daemon Prince's chest, straight through the rent in his armor, doing so with such force he yanks the power sword out, widening the rent in the process, and proceeds to narrowly dodge the two giant chain axes coming straight at him before falling back and landing on his feet, holding Grendel's Claw and a power sword while blood fountains out of the prince as he staggers back, dropping his weapons. The Space Wolf leader and the other Space Wolves get ready to charge him, but he does not pick up his weapons, instead falling to the ground in a massive puddle of his own blood.
So, the tide of battle is now turned, Awesome fighting has been performed by all, and we get ready to start mopping up the much larger but self-destroying and thinly spread enemy forces. Or we would, if a SHADOWSWORD COVERED IN BLOOD AND SYMBOLS OF KHORNE, RIDDEN BY KHORNATE CULTISTS DOING A SUMMONING RITUAL BURSTS THROUGH THE WALL. OH FUCK, there has been so much killing these last few days, a great deal in the name of Khorne, and the last hour or so has seen thousands die in an area infested by Khorne. Apparently, Khorne likes all the shit that has been going on here so goddamn much that A FUCKING BLOODTHIRSTER POPS IN THROUGH THE PORTAL. OH GOD. Even the fucking Space Wolves are scared of this shit, and several of them just stand there when it appears. Not so for Grendel, who tries to rally the stormtroopers and IG, and fails miserably, as everyone is either frothing at the mouth or going insane. Seeing a regular human doing fine, the Space Wolf leader charges the Bloodthirster, along with every other Space Wolf not currently fighting the few remaining World Eaters.
Okay, so while they are having fun trying to hurt the super daemon, Grendel reunites with the other surviving acolytes while trying to get people functional. Or at least, that is what is being attempted, until they realize oh hey, the tank is still here, and is turning towards us. And firing. Yay. So a giant shell smashes into our ranks, fucking up a bunch of guardsman and a few dozen stormtroopers, and somewhat snapping our troops out of it, as conventional ballistics is something they can deal with. So Grendel leads a charge on the Shadowsword, followed by the other PCs, and the gutsier stormtroopers and guardsman, with a simple plan: Big enemies require big guns, and the Shadowsword has a fucking big gun (a goddamn volcano cannon). ITS LOOTING TIME! We did kinda forget that Shadowswords have other guns than the main cannon on them, though, and are getting shot at quite a bit. But thanks to our obscene number and initial close proximity to the tank, we reach it with only Garm and some NPCs dying (Garm took a rocket to the chest, not the most survivable thing), and proceed to swarm it, crawling up to the entry hatches as quick as we can. A few bullets and krak grenades later, and we have commandeered a Shadowsword.
Back to the Bloodthirster and the Space Wolves for a bit. About a dozen of them have dropped already, and they have only made a small dent in the daemon's hide (not many of them have power fists or other melee oriented load-outs), but they are not giving ground, and are prepared to die fighting it (which is looking pretty fucking likely right now). Until the re-appropriated Shadowsword rams the Bloodthirster and fires its volcano cannon into its chest point blank. The shell doesn't even explode, it just goes straight fucking through the Bloodthirster. And while it is reeling from the blast, Grendel, who had been commanding the Shadowsword from its open hatch, dashes across the barrel of the cannon (making his agility rolls to not fall) and stabs into the gaping hole in the Bloodthirster with the space marine sized power sword, draws his grappling hook attached to his clip harness, and declares he is going to try and hook it on one of the bloodthirster's horns and climb up to its face. the GM rules he has to make a hard ballistic skill test to latch the grappling hook on, and then will have to make three difficult agility tests in a row to winch himself up before the Bloodthirster can recover from the blast.
Grendel just barely makes the ballistic check, and rolls the first of the three agility checks. He rolls 67, failing abhorrently, and now is being flung about by the rope as the Bloodthirster reels about, spilling ichor and gore all over the place. It grabs at Grendel with its free hand, and he tries to dodge the meaty hand in midair while being flung about. HE ROLLS A 2 TO DODGE, AND DODGES A GIANT DAEMON HAND MIDAIR. The space wolves redouble their assault, but since the commander of our army is essentially a rag-doll attached to the monster, our forces can't really shoot at it. Able's turn comes up, and as the pilot of the Shadowsword, he thinks the best use of the tank is to charge forward again, ramming the gun barrel THROUGH the hole in the Bloodthirster's torso and pinning it to the wall. Grendel's turn comes, and he hauls his ass up the rope, and has to try and avoid getting chomped on for coming up to say hi. He narrowly gets his fat ass out of the way, and proceed to try and stab the Bloodthirster in the eye. The GM says fine, you can try, and if you succeed you bypass armor and toughness, but you have to make a called shot while being flung around, so you take a -30 to the test.
Grendel rolls. We all stare. He rolled a 2. He just sank his knife and whole fucking arm into a bloodthirster's eye while hanging from a clip harness anchored to one of its horns. It topples back, dying, as Grendel wrenches his arm free, and releases the clip, falling back onto the Shadowsword. While most of us fought the Bloodthirster, the last couple world eaters got murdered by the space wolves, so there is literally nothing but generic enemies left. They do not do well against their own biggest tank, space marines and stormtroopers, and shortly start attempting to surrender in droves. Anyway, Grendel and the surviving PCs have a little field meeting with the Space Wolf force leader, who is currently being whined at by the nobles. After seeing that the person the nobles are whining about is Grendel ('He messed with our right to do whatever we want, boo hoo'), the captain backhands the nearest noble away, and ignores the rest as the stare at the now dead noble as he walks up to Grendel.
'You Castus Grendel?'
'...Yes, honored Astartes.'
'Feh. You fought hard, and carried the day, you don't need to bow your head to me.' The Space Wolf looks Grendel over a bit, and frowns, continuing with, 'You don't look like you fight for a living,' He pokes him in the stomach with a finger 'and you don't look too fit'
'I was a chronicler in a data archival unit until a few months ago, when I was rather abruptly made an Acolyte in service to the inquisition.'
'A Librarian? HAH! How did you end up in the inquisition with a boring duty like that?'
'One of the texts I was to read was a forbidden tome chronicling a xenos or daemon attacking Valhalla, which was defeated by members of your chapter. I was offered the choice to serve or have my mind wiped.'
The Space Wolf leader looked stunned.
'You read the Liber Beowulf? HAH! This is rich. I was the brother that killed that beast, and I ad my men get saved by someone who was only there because of that piece of the past.' He pauses for a bit, laughing to himself, before continuing.
'You took charge here, ousting those fops, and held steady for week with these bastards in the underhive? Huh, nice work.'
The two continue talking for a short while, all whilst all the other space wolves, IG and stormtroopers are rounding up the rapidly surrendering forces. They talk for a while, and the Space Wolf leader shortly offers to bring them back to Scintilla, as a small thanks for minimizing his losses and aiding his brothers. Damn, space wolves are awesome guys. So after finishing up dealing with the chaos forces (mass execution for everyone, YAY), we load up in one of the space marine drop pods, and head off back to Scintilla. Our trip on the Space Wolf ship is much less prone to attack by raiders, pirates and the warp, with good reason. We make our first warp trip in a long time without incidence. Anyway, as we are getting dropped off, the three Thorian Inquisitors show up, apparently not content to wait for us to arrive at the Inquisitorial holdings. They look ready to start some long speech or something, but our new Space Wolf friend (his name is Beowulf) just steps forward, and decides to make his own little speech.
'I heard about your little mission for these members of the Imperium, and I have a simple statement to make. Thanks to Acolyte Castus Grendel and the rest of these men, less of my brothers died than if they hadn't been there, so let me make this simple. I and my brothers would be happy to work with Grendel again, and as such I expect to see him become an Inquisitor. Hell, after what he killed, as far as I am concerned the man is a living saint, and I already forwarded his deeds to the Ecclesiarchy. Well, what are you standing there slack jawed for, if you have something to say to me say it, otherwise I have work to do. I only came here since I owe these men a debt.' Apparently these inquisitors are not used to getting chewed out, as they are standing there fairly slack-jawed. One of them snaps out of it, and responds, oddly enough, in a very respectful tone.
'..That is why we are here. Shortly after we received the mission report, we were contacted by the Ecclesiarchy, who wished to verify documents sent to them. As it stands, the Acolyte Castus Grendel is now awarded full status as an Inquisitor, if he chooses to accept it, we can have your prior comrades become port of your retinue, and you can choose whichever new acolytes as you will from those in training. Additionally, he is officially canonized as a.... Living Saint. .'
So thus ends the career of Acolyte Castus Grendel, and thus begins the story of Living Saint Inquisitor Adept Castus Grendel of the Ordo Malleus, traveling the stars with Grey Knights and frequently Space Wolves lead by Brother Beowulf, killing Daemons and adding more and more creatures to his robe based kill counter.
Also, if anyone wants the finalized stats to Grendel's Claw, after all the crap he did, here it is.
1D5+3 R PEN4
Re-roll one missed attack per round
(stacks with blademaster and fate point)
Re-roll one missed attack per round against a daemon
(stacks with blademaster and other re-rolls)
Cannot be parried by daemonic entities
Ignores warp infused armor (CSM, daemons, etc.)
Ignores TB of any daemon or chaos infused opponent
Grants bearer a Fear 3 against followers of Khorne
Also, While Grendel is retired from play now, we have all voiced two thoughts:
We want to play as new acolytes serving under Grendel some time in the future.
What happened to Benedicta?
To the last thought (Keep in mind the other players never found out who she really was), I hope to run into Grendel's son some time later. It may even be a point in time where Grendel is made a PC one last time.
So while Grendel's story as an acolyte is over, some time in the future he may return to play to wrap up a final loose end.