Retcons and Reputation
The team has arrived outside Blinding Gulch, an under-Hive settlement of Gunmetal City. They rescued a ganger named Breshk, of the Cadavers gang, and look to take that advantage into their search for Venomskin the forger. And maybe recoup a few Thrones while doing so – they are close to being broke.
Mola and Jahr begin this session fatigued from the long uncomfortable journey in low-priced transport.
Rep on entering town (or once the rumors about us circulate) is +1, which is not a benefit when dealing with the under-hive. The positive is due to Grimm’s being an obvious Arbitrator.
The settlement sprawls in and around a depression between rock formations. The main street is multi-story buildings of a variety of metal and native materials while the bulk of the other buildings are shanties. As we pause to discuss the layout with Breshk, the ganger wretch we rescued, we can glimpse a lava flow not far off.
Breshk has explained that at least part of the living eked out by the under-hivers here is lava-farming. The remainder of somewhat-honest folk toil in the Hive-fall, picking over the Hive’s castoffs.
He takes his leave of us, after recommending the Spent Shell as a reasonably safe public house or taberna. The other taberna is the Call to Arms.
Once Breshk is out of earshot we decide on a “play.” Zarkov and I will once again be bosses (Relic hunters since we still have those IDs) while Grimm and Jahr will be guards. Franz will rely on his low profile.
As we swing onto Main Street we can see the Hive Fall clearly, against which the town seems just more scattered rubble. Close by the fall outskirts can be seen a dubious-looking place named the Pain Pit and not far from that, some sort of medicae center.
The Spent Shell
The patrons are junk farmers. A portly hippo of a woman named Gert allows us to pay her a vast sum of money in exchange for a complete lack of privacy and comfort. Deciding we would rather stand, we return to the bar area where Gert recommends a woman named Kayala when I ask discreetly about exchanging valuables.
It seems trouble is brewing between the two gangs, Skarit’s Dragons and Cadavers. An old codger – of which this place has an over-supply – wheezes “the name’s Old Skurg” and offers information in exchange for “a piece.” Grimm offers his throw-down Stub and he relates an incident where he witnessed Skarit’s Dragons engaged in some dark ritual, out north below a rock spire shaped like a swooping eagle.
Franz warns us we have been spotted by a Skarit’s Dragon, so shaking out into battle order we head out onto the dusty street, Jahr the giant barbarian swaggering with his fearsome array of weaponry, Grimm the tall, broad Arbitrator in his imposing armor, myself keeping in cover behind Jahr, andthe muffled form of Zarkov clanking in the rear.
Only three Dragons are approaching. The leader hails us and tells us he bears us no malice for ridding the world of his colleagues. He offers work. I reply that we will think about it.
Disappointingly the offer is not of Thrones (we could expect to beat the next offer skyward) but merely a promise to supply us with whatever we need.
We head out north.
Feeding Time at Dusk
The lava flow is closer to the north. We’ve passed busy lava-miners in their heat-proof bodysuits, but now it is quiet and still. The distant flares of the Hive begin to glimmer like evening stars.
The landmark eagle-like spire stands near others, sheltering a glassy-stone hollow. Franz, who has been scouting, waves us forward. “I can see a corpse,” he voxes.
As we draw near, strange quadrupeds bearing signs of mutation bound out from around the spires. Perhaps they wish to contest an easy meal, or perhaps they prefer live prey!
Battle layout: This is a fairly open area around 10-20m deep though the beasts can all seek cover back where they sprang from. Ricochets may be dangerous as the area is all hard volcanic stone. Combat begins at 10m range.
Round 1: Mola looks with jaundiced eye at the not-very-terrible beasts. “I’m thinking suppressive fire,” she says. Franz opens up with suppressive fire from his Autogun and all beasts flinch down close to the ground [WP failed, pinned]. Zarkov takes aim and snipes at the brain-spilling bulge of a particularly mutated beast, but it ducks out of the way [1/2-rnd aim, head shot, dodge succeeds]. Z’s mecha-las zaps it in the body [10 damage]. Mola blasts it with an Autopistol, which is loaded with dum-dums: the beast explodes messily across the dell. Jahr flips up his own special-snowflake autogun (the one with three magazines) and his autofire slays two more of the beasts. Grimm shoots the second-last beast in the head: ithe beast scurries back into cover. Its comrade does not.
Round 2: Franz aims carefully at the exposed and presumably crazy beast and [reroll] deals a terrible wound to its head. Zarkov’s las-gun injures its leg [Rk 3 crit] and Mola’s Autopistol shreds it. Jahr blasts the rock around the injured, in-cover beast, hoping for a ricochet kill. Grimm sidles around to where he can sight in on it…
Eventually the beast moves and is killed.
While the lads patiently wait for the beast to move, Zarkov and I examine the corpse and make a first search of the area surrounding it. It was definitely a Skarit’s Dragon and the young man appears to have been stabbed multiple times in a frenzied attack rather than slain in an execution or ritual. Surprisingly he still has his belongings on him, including a rather valuable-looking antique flintlock pistol. The butt is inscribed “to Col, with Pride, your Father.”
A wider and more detailed second search uncovers a demonic icon, or pendant. Grimm has unearthed it some distance away. I judge it to be sacred to the Khorne heretics. It doesn’t link to the dead man, but may suggest something about the inner circle of the Dragons.
By the time we return to Blinding Gulch the lava, cascading down from the Hive, burns the horizon bright and the lava harvesters are busy. We flop in our quietly uncomfortable bunkhouse.
I am cursed by inability to sleep deeply. A light scratching as a parchment is thrust under our door wakes me. Thrusting the incompetent on-watch pair out of the way I sweep it up and open it. It’s a wanted notice, of one “Ghor” but in crude characters on the reverse is an invitation to meet outside the “6-finger hand” in an hour.
The rock formation so denoted is close by so even after re-arming ourselves we arrive in good time. A heavily tattooed man in battered stud-leather emerges from hiding. It seems Breshk has recommended us to the Cadavers. We are offered a job. Disappointingly, it’s the same terms as the Dragons offered. Once again I reply that we will think about it. We have two days, it seems, before the grudge between Dragon and Cadaver becomes open war.
After sleeping in, we make some effort to pick up intel. Over a truly nasty meat-based dish, Grimm talks to Old Skurg again. He gets [reroll on Inquiry] an address for Col’s family residence. Continuing to talk about numbers in the gangs, he also learns [reroll, 02 on Inquiry] that the Dragons are led by a “Lord Sunderbone” who sports red-dragon-intaglio armor; the Cadavers are assumed to have an underground lair; and an estimate of perhaps two dozen each side.
Grimm and I walk up to “the Face” as that section is known, and locate Col’s house. I hand over the pistol. His parents are sad but unsurprised to learn that their boy is dead. They allow me to search the lad’s belongings. I find a diary which mentions the Lair of the Crawlers and gives enough landmark information to find it.
Voxing the remainder of the team, we rendezvous outside town, and walk over to the Lair. The ground seems to shake and a sinster grating sounds is coming from a deep-throated cavern. As we draw near, a vast Worm emerges!
But something seems “off” and I call for fire to be held [Mola makes Awareness with 5 raises]. With difficulty, Jahr restrains himself. Then it hits me: there’s no stench, as there should be from such a behemoth. And the light is refracting through the thing slightly.
After we (well, I) brave the entrance we find vox-hailers and a holo-scriber slaved out of a servitor. Zarkov shuts it off. We can still feel tremors but I conclude [reroll] they are natural, a result of geothermal activity.
Exploring the unlit inner cavern, we discover a full shrine to Khorne, its altar drenched in blood and gouged from many sacrifices. A pathetic heap of body parts and ammunition lies atop it. An impressive dragon-embellished red suit of armor stands nearby.
(Waste not want not. Using some of our drinking water I ensure I’m not going to catch something nasty and retrieve 12 dum-dum rounds. Franz has already donated a full clip, so I’m better off than I was before the beasts emptied my clip.)
Mustering the lore of our divine master [reroll on Imperial Creed] I sanctify the shrine. The offerings burn away and the armor loses any powers Khorne granted it.
We depart, but not before Zarkov sets a charge-pack boobytrap [03 on a -20 test] on the servitor. We switch the ward back on. With luck and Emperor willing the cultists will blow themselves up when they switch it off.
We have a deal
The shrine has decided us. Back in town, I send Jahr to make friendly contact over dice and booze with the Cadavers. He shambles over and appears to get on really well with them [07 on Fel]. Later, he weaves back to the taberna and invites us to meet the Tattooed man again.
Mulkan is his name, and we render a demand for information – and money – and he agrees.
With a day to kill, I decide to gather chit-chat and rumor. Even though this is an under-Hive of the refuse of the Imperium there seems to be plenty of old coots with time on their hands. I learn:
- There’s a fair on the town outskirts, known as the Hidden Sun.
- Survivors of the wreckage of a factory that tumbled off the Hive have emerged generations later as crazed feral predators.
The latter rumor sounds like an easy way to
harvest xp retrieve valuables from a bygone year so – after detailing Franz off to sniper duty near the Worm Cavern – we head in the direction indicated and before long, Jahr and I spot the marks of unshod feet.
We work at keeping concealed – after all we are stalking wild game, of a sort – but Grimm and Zarkov are not very subtle, and we disturb half a dozen ferals squabbling over the corpse of a sump-hound. We follow them as they withdraw. By the time we are in clear sight of the tumbledown block of factory their leader, a hippo-like matron who I fancy has an ancestral resemblance to Gert, has rallied eight with primitive bone clubs. She bellows her challenge and they charge us!
Battle layout: a ravine, not too narrow, leading to the broader canyon the fragmented factory is wedged into. Grimm and Jahr are the lead tanks, Mola tucked in not far behind Jahr, with Zarkov in the rear. The ferals rush from 20m distance.
Round 1: Jahr bellows an intimidating counter-challenge without effect [missed by 1!]. The ferals charge [run, ending at short range from Jahr and Grimm]. Grimm targets Big Mama’s head and his lawgiver round [RF, 19 dmge] blinds her. Zarkov also hits her in the head, his las-gun finishing her off or at least rendering her unconscious. Mola opens up on another with her Autopistol and [4 raises] the dum-dums tear it apart.
Round 2: Jahr is now mobbed by four ferals while the other three mob Grimm. Jahr wields his Mono-ax in devastating arcs, felling one with head and arm near-severed [Rk 5 rending crit]. The blows of the ferals, on the other hand, bounce harmlessly off the armor of the two front-rankers. Grimm gets an arm free of the scrimmage but the feral he targets twists out of the way. Zarkov aims his las-gun into the ferals around Grimm and hits one [8 damage]. Mola cold-bloodedly fires into Jahr’s group, her dum-dums splashing harmlessly off the giant’s armor and destroying two ferals.
Round 3: The feral left in front of Jahr misses: Jahr does not, dropping him with two quick chops. The three still on Grimm pound harmlessly on his armor. Grimm manages to get his lawgiver in line with the previously wounded feral and the shot breaks his arm. Mola switches her aim to Grimm’s group and [5 raises and a RF] mows all three down with her final burst.
And on that cynical piece of xp harvesting we pause for now. We judged that we have enough ammo to make earning some xp worth the attempt. If it turns out there are another hundred or so ferals we were wrong. Stay tuned!