++++++++++++++++++From the data slate of Quintilla Mola++++++++++++++++++
In the Emperor’s Name! We assemble to once more pluck out heresy root and branch. The past three months have treated us all well, I observe as we run equipment checks prior to boarding the Valkyrie-class dropship. Franz, Grimm and Jahr seem much the same. Zarkov has at last found some head protection. And are those gauntlets or they part of him? He hands out stim-dispensers. In return, I hand round de-tox doses, though I did not buy enough to equip Franz. I check that they got my memos regarding nose-filter plugs and flash/darkness lenses. They all have the plugs, but not all were able to afford lenses. Grimm hands me the visor he bought to my specification: reminds me of our deal: I have renounced my claim to the bolter, I announce. We all have a fine new vox-bead, through which we can communicate with each other, and no doubt through which the heretical mumblings of some among us can be monitored. Jahr, be warned.
++++++++++++++++++Some stats – not from the GM’s screen++++++++++++++++++
Franz: Smiling Assassin, NPC but around because his player may turn up. Has moderate armour, good BS, a range of social skills.
Grimm: Judge-tastic iron-jawed Arbitrator, played by the chatty guy in our group. Heavy armour, great BS, a couple of really powerful handguns – a bolt pistol and a hand cannon. Poor social skills.
Jahr: Barbaric Guardsman, played as a true backward barbarian. Player owns a rulebook. Heavy armour, lots of big weapons. Lousy social skills and low WP.
Mola: Orthodox Adept, played by yours truly. Good armour, good BS and tends to be lucky with shots. No special social skills, but fair Fellowship. Great WP.
Zarkov: Urbane Tech-Priest, often played for laughs. Good tech based skills, obviously, and fair WP, but low everything else.
++++++++++++++++++++end of stat bit, back to the story++++++++++++++++++++
Troopers check their weapon loads as we drop into Thrungg’s estate. Vaarak has ordered the heretic noble Thrungg to be detained, and evidence of forbidden items in his possession gathered. Captain Scipio, the officer of the Scintillan Protectorate Army (SPA) commanding the ground raid, tells us we will drop alone into the chapel while his boys work on the main wing. We nod. The dropship rotates lower. Heavy bolters open up from the dropship doors, shattering the glasteel chapel roof, and we jump.
Battle layout: the chapel is rectangular, north-south oriented, with the north wall being a truncated elliptical apse, and the south wall an abbreviated radiating chapel. There is no choir or chancel: the transept divides apse from nave. Solid metal pews are arranged in double-ranks in the nave, and a large altar dominates the apse. A servitor and two uniformed guards are stationed in the transept. Characters drop into the southern chapel end of the nave. The nave is around 30m long. The transept is closed at its western end by massive doors, and the eastern side of the apse is open to a tunnel leading north. A third guard is just visible through the glasteel, coming from the north.
Agility checks for the drop: Grimm and Mola OK, others fall prone. No surprise either side.
Round 1: Franz Jahr and Z roll to cover. The servitor’s autogun targets Grimm: he dodges. The guards wear a brown uniform with blue flash – and no headgear! One’s shotgun blasts wildly, the other narrowly misses Mola. Mola accelerates off her jump-point, east then north all the way to the transept [she has sprint, which pushes her run to 36m] and into cover at the north-easternmost pew, ready for the third guard who is advancing from the north. Grimm ducks into cover.
Round 2: Franz half-rounds to his knees, shoots but misses. [We have standing instructions for him to use suppressive fire but this requires a full round.] Jahr has a grenade but the distance is extreme, so he lets fly at the servitor with his laz-gun, missing. In reply the servitor misses. Zarkov also misses the servitor. Guards 1 and 2 shoot at Grimm and Jahr, both missing. Guard 3 [Perception check to notice Mola, fails] moves into the transept and shoots at Z, missing. Mola shoots him in the head. [5 wounds, he is close to crit territory.] Grimm takes half-round aim, and shoots, missing.
Round 3: Franz now targets Guard 3, scores a shot [3-point crit] that takes the man’s nose off: he is blinded and screaming. Jahr and the servitor exchange semi-auto bursts: Jahr scores with a couple of shots that do virtually no damage. Z runs across from his cover further up the centre aisle. Guards 1 and 2 are reloading. Guard 3 drops prone. Mola shifts to the east end of the pew, so as to stay in cover from all enemies: shoots at G3 but misses. Grimm repositions closer as Z has done.
Round 4: Franz holds his shot. Jahr also zigs closer: the servitor shoots at him accurately but he dodges (both shots)! Z moves closer again: he is slower than Jahr but is now within about 6m of the servitor: he believes he knows how to find the kill switch these units have. G1 and 2 finish reloading their shotguns. G3 has finished clearing blood from his eyes and shoots at Z, missing. Mola misses. G misses [on reroll].
Round 5: Franz misses. Jahr readies grenade, takes full-round aim. The servitor’s next semi-auto burst is on-target again with one round but is again dodged! G1 and G2 pop up from reloading and fire at Mola and Jahr: Mola is missed and the pew takes the shot for Jahr. G3 draws a knife and charges Mola [half-round up, half-round advance]. Z takes the shot afforded by this and misses. Mola misses [reroll] and backs away back south, rapidly. Grimm gets G3 with a called shot to the head, blowing his head off. Blood sprays everywhere and G1 and G2 are freaked. They begin attempting to surrender.
Round 6: Franz’ shot bounces off the servitor. Jahr tosses his grenade – badly [awkward couple of minutes while Jahr’s player uses increasingly foul language as fumble tables are searched out – apparently we are supposed to know the rules better than he does, and he owns a rulebook. Roll again for error, dud grenade.] The servitor misses Jahr. Jahr zigs closer again. Z runs around back of servitor but can’t spot the access panel he was expecting [Perception failed]. Mola orders G1 and G2 to push weapons away and lie face down; and runs to cover in northern tunnel. Grimm covers the guards.
Round 7: A stupid round as Franz shoots at the servitor (with Zarkov right behind it) missing and Jahr draws his mono-axe and charges, failing to get to the servitor. Servitor misses Jahr even on full auto. Z uses tech ability to find the panel, pops it open and switches the servitor off.
Grimm demands [Inquiry/Intimidate] where the museum of artifacts is. Museum of Apostasy, I correct from my covering position. They don’t know. While Jahr ties them up (with leggings/bootlaces) Zarkov looks around. The altar holds the body of a grizzled priest missing his arm. His other hand clutches a Chapter-book. Zarkov leafs through it and comments that the annotations seem to point to heresy-oriented sermons. This is good evidence!
Jahr has found a few thrones on the guards, and more importantly a set of estate keys.
Zarkov now notices [02 on search, GM regrets offering the check] that the priest’s blood has drained off the altar and away under the floor somewhere.
Before we can decide how best to shift the altar, our voxes hiss to life: Captain Scipio tells us that Thrungg needs to be winkled out of the menagerie to the west!
Jahr and Grimm heave the doors open: a fire rages along the broad tunnel connecting chapel to menagerie. We check our filtration plugs and run as fast as Zarkov’s ped-limbs can carry him, which is not fast at all. Halfway along, we spot a cabinet has been shoved across a doorway. But we push on. A blast door at the far end is opened by Jahr’s keys, and we enter the menagerie.
The domed enclosure is full of escaped birds, panicked by the shooting and fire. Cages stand all around, mostly empty. A low rise in the middle of the enclosure is occupied by Thrungg, dressed in his noble finery, and he holds the leashes of two large quadruped reptiles, their skin bristling with scaly armour. His other arm is deformed with a bony cannon-like device! He laughs and bids us lay on!
Battle layout: a very large octagonal enclosure, littered rather randomly with large cages that offer light cover from fire, but no significant ground cover. Paths form a cross-shape intersecting atop the mound. We enter from the east; Thrungg is about 50m away on the mound.
Round 1: Grimm scurries to cover behind a cage and switches to bolter. Z moves to cover, takes a called shot to Thrungg’s leg, and hits! [Needed 19, rolled 19 – 12 pts damage!] Both beasts rush the main body, down the path, covering around 2/3 the distance. Mola rushes left around cages and up, intending to cut Thrungg off from any retreat. Thrungg shoots a huge bone-shard cannon off his deformed arm! Z dodges [1/2 Ag]. Franz uses suppressive fire, driving one of the beasts back cowering [and with a wound – he rolled an 02, easily enough to permit hits being scored] but not stopping the other. Jahr pumps up on Frenzon [like a chemical Rage and immune to fear] and readies his axe.
Round 2: Grimm drills the oncoming beast with his bolter: its armour is not as tough as it looked. He regrets selecting the bolter. Zarkov misses. Beast closes on Grimm but cannot charge as he is in cover against it. Jahr [jawbones the GM into allowing his ready action to be carried into this round;] leaps in behind the beast, attacking all-out and chopping deeply into its hindquarters [14 points with 2AP].
Up towards the mound Mola continues to advance using cover and snap-shoots Thrungg with a chest hit: his armour takes it. Ignoring her, Thrungg aims at Z but misses. Franz also misses, and beast 2 now swings around, eager to renew the fight [makes WP check].
Round 3: Grimm backs off a step, drills the beast again. It’s not looking well. Jahr misses, and the beast misses its attack on Grimm. Beast 2 closes on Franz, who shoots it but barely hurts it. Franz backs away as best he can. Z hits Thrungg without noticeable effect and Thrungg misses Z. Mola shoots Thrungg in the wounded leg: he staggers [fatigued] but stays upright.
Round 4: Grimm shoots into melee, and in spite of the danger to Jahr manages to hit the beast, blowing much of its chest scales away [crit advises that armour is blown off, GM decides this can apply to natural armour]. Beast 1 has wheeled on Jahr and bites him, but Jahr laughs [7 damage, soaked easily]. But Jahr’s return swing misses. Beast 2 misses Franz, who continues to back off, missing his return shot. Z targets Thrungg but misses.
Mola advances to point-blank range and shoots Thrungg in the head, and then demands his surrender! Although he seems little hurt the overdressed noble breaks down whimpering and begging for mercy – but then something black and hideous flows out of his xeno gear – and he dies horribly!
Round 5 and following: Grimm blows beast 1 apart, then all down below concentrate on beast 2, killing it over the next couple of rounds.
Up on the mound Mola searches Thrungg for evidence, recovering 300 thrones, a laz-pistol and a sword, and some very expensive mesh armour disguised by fancy robes, which cover arms and body. If Zarkov can alter its outward appearance he will finally own some decent armour!
This was a great shakeout session, especially for Zarkov’s player, who dodged everything, hit with the first shot and several times after that, made some excellent non-combat rolls and stands to end up with decent armour. We ended around 20 minutes late but no-one was checking time. We’ve been told this adventure is investigation-heavy but that’s comparatively speaking, I guess. It all ends with ‘I shoot him in the head!’