Combat is just ending: Sgt. Fordan has fallen messily dead beside the mind-blastingly hideous corpse of an ancient Daemon. Nothing to do with him or the acolytes who just killed him as the dirty traitor he was: it just happened that the sainted corpse of holy Adorjin was attached to the accursed grimoire he wanted and also attached to the daemon corpse. By the relic-sword that Jahr now bears.
Grimm, Lady D and even Molochan make a grab for Fordan’s stub-auto: Lady D is naturally the faster and with the stub-auto in her fist she and the other pair follow on after their allies, who in turn are following Ishtan Vogel’s ghost.
“The escape pods are up, from here” – Vogel
“Back the way we came then – fast!” – Mola
+++++++++++++++++the Characters for this shakeout+++++++++++++++++
Grimm: Judge-tastic iron-jawed Arbiter, reduced to his backup stub revolver.
Jahr: Barbaric Guardsman, carries a grenade launcher and the relic sword.
Mola: Orthodox Adept, down to her last two handguns.
Zarkov: Urbane Tech-Priest, has only a Mauler bolt-pistol.
Trempan: Tech-scholar, has a bolt-pistol.
Molochan: Tech priest, has lost all his weapons.
Lady D: Scum, has just looted a stub auto to go with her las-pistol.
And having lost touch with:
Skold Greypelt, Ordos Astartes, last seen attempting to hold off a Warp horde.
++++++++++Quintilla Mola’s data slate resumes++++++++++
As Zarkov and Molochan attempt communion with the long-nascient powers that ward the escape pods I have plentiful time to record our safe rescue of both the liber daemonicus, which I bear still in its chains of adamantium, and the holy blade Luminous Reproach, hefted in Jahr’s grip. Tragically the safe salvage of these treasures relies on the ghost of an accursed Psyker, Ishtan Vogel. At least the revenant appears to feel due reverence for the Throne, and is assisting us.
“You may need to power up the bays from the bridge” – Molochan
“Yerrss, just coming to that conclusion” – Zarkov
Having agreed that we should all move to the bridge, we set up a new marching order. Grimm, who has only a stub revolver, is rearguard. We move at the pace of the slowest, Zarkov as usual, encountering only one obstacle of any sort. A few dozen metres from our goal, the ship’s bridge, the broad spinal passage is cleft. Some metres of wall has collapsed on either side, affording an eerie glimpse of other parts of the ancient Black Ship, and even rock faces or suggestions of other craft, warped together in this weird Twilight body.
From my position mid-formation, I notice [Awareness 4 raises] a small object, spined like a sea urchin or virus, appear along the passage, where the footing forms what is effectively a bridge over the crevasse. Vogel has not failed to note it, and exorcises it with no ceremony – merely a twist of his hand.
“They are coming” – Vogel, who has been watching too much LOTR
But the corridor footing is still firm and we cross without incident.
Zarkov and Molochan plug themselves into the bridge interfaces while the rest of us stand guard. A flicker of green light interrupts the blackness of the rift back down the spine corridor, and a servitor drone, or some such apparatus, floats toward us.
Grimm raises his revolver but the drone halts and the hologram of one of those accursed xenos, an Eldar, appears. His tattoos and gaudy armour mark him out as a Corsair. This is Akirvis, leader of the Eldarin Corsairs that Vogel had so wished us to rid the Black Ship of.
++++++++++data slate paused++++++++++
“I do so wish that you would rid us of the Corsairs, but if you still prefer to flee then I will assist you” – Vogel
“It’s academic. When the Imperial Navy destroys the Twilight and this ship with it, you will be rid of them along with everything else” – Mola
++++++++++data slate resumes++++++++++
Akirvis asks for someone that is qualified to treat with him. Reluctantly I step forward. Zarkov is still whirring and clicking, and I cannot in all conscience leave the job to Grimm or Jahr.
“You are beneath our notice. And thanks to that we are willing to let you walk. All that we ask is that we select one thing from each of you, at our discretion” – Akirvis
“That seems reasonable. I do have one caveat though. Any one thing that is a personal possession, you may take. But those things whose possession is undetermined or that belong not to us but to the Throne, you may not” – Mola
“If that’s your decision then so be it” – Akirvis
“What is your counter-offer?” – Mola
“There is no counter-offer… or should I say, this is!” – Akirvis, triggering something
BOOM! The servitor explodes, driving flechette shrapnel across the bridge! Most of the party are in cover but Mola is right in front of the servitor and Zarkov and Molochan are exposed across at the bridge console. Ishtan Vogel is also exposed, though in his case it is immaterial.
Mola throws herself behind Jahr and somehow the tech-priests also duck the shrapnel! [Great rolls all round, esp for the tech-priests who are rolling half Agility!] Vogel watches all this calmly.
The power comes on – Zarkov and Molochan had succeeded in communing with the ship’s energies – and we can clearly see over a dozen Eldarin corsairs scrambling in from the rift! At their back, two beasts flank Akirvis!
- Lady D/Mola/Trempan/Zarkov
Jahr raises his grenade launcher and lobs a round accurately, into the crush at the rear of the Eldarin. One Eldar catches the full blast and his exploding body adds to the injuries of those nearby. But Akirvis dives back to safety in the rift.
Most of the Acolytes pick this out (lighting is adequate now) and mock Akirvis and the Eldarin in general. After all, they expect to die: they may as well trash-talk the Xenos!
Lady D uses her las-pistol and hits a front-ranker, Mola hits the same. The Eldar rankers have no head armour, we realise. Zarkov, who is now in cover, shoots the same ranker [Righteous Fury] and it expires. Molochan searches around for a usable device or even primitive club.
“I have three grenades over here – run to me!” – Mola
The Eldarin seem in some disorder, though they have shaken out to deep ranks quickly. The three remaining in the front rank open fire on Jahr, with short-range flensing autoguns known as splinter guns. Jahr is lightly wounded [he dodges with raises, reducing autofire effect] and forced to cover. Grimm replies with a called shot to the head, wounding another ranker.
Jahr rapid-reloads his launcher, sticks his arm round the bridge entry and lobs a round: it bounces off one side wall onto the other flank, wounding two rankers back there. While others are shooting and missing, Molochan scuttles to Mola’s side. She offers two grenades.
Akirvis, now safe in cover in the rift, snarls for his rankers to keep to their drills: the front rank kneels and fires and the second rank fire over their coiffures. Some rounds rip through Jahr’s partly-exposed armour and leave him heavily wounded. Grimm also takes multiple hits, leaving the arbiter reeling. He pulls back to heavier cover, behind Molochan.
Vogel intervenes: he gestures and a previously-unwounded Eldar ranker has its neck snapped!
Jahr charges out of cover, into melee with a wounded Eldar. As various acolytes duff their shots, Molochan secures two grenades and unjams Mola’s gun.
The Eldarin formation eddies: on one flank an Eldarin races out of Jahr’s reach and another, unnerved by Vogel’s attack, flees. But on the other flank remaining rankers fire into the cover around the bridge, wounding Zarkov.
Grimm still has some line of sight and makes another called shot to the head of a ranker. But just as importantly he mutters the outline of a vital change in plan.
“Mola – the book must get clear – take your chance down the open flank and run now!” – Grimm
Jahr’s forward momentum continues as he crashes into the next rank of Eldar. He may not be actually cleaving but the holy brand is terrifying! Lady D further wounds the Eldar Grimm just wounded: Trempan finishes him off.
Mola sprints out of the bridge, past Jahr, past the Eldarin rear ranks and over the passage across the rift! Unknown to her, Akirvis’ attention is elsewhere and her flight goes unremarked in the general chaos. [Mola’s Sprint is 48 metres, and Akirvis’ Awareness check is 100.]
Zarkov’s Mauler finally takes toll, smashing a ranker back into the rear rank and pinning a couple more under it. Akirvis stamps forward, sending his beasts forward into the bridge to seek the book! Molochan runs forward towards them, clutching the grenades. Ignoring him Akirvis and the beasts sweep into the bridge.
“Run if you can – keep hiding, Mola!” – Grimm
Zarkov maintains his cover but Grimm runs in Molochan’s wake, looking back for any chance of a shot.
The other Eldarin cannot shoot for fear of hitting their comrades or leader. The pair in melee with Jahr draw mono-blades and attack: one immediately has its blade destroyed by the Luminous Reproach as Jahr parries, but the other drives his blade through the guard armour.
“Is that all you got?!” – Jahr
Jahr attacks both, knocking one down. Lady D, seeing allies running, glides easily around the beasts and Akirvis and to the passage, shooting at a disengaged ranker. Trempan holds his ground but misses; Zarkov hits Akirvis in his body-armour, the Mauler shot hitting hard, leaving the Corsair chief heavily wounded! Akirvis returns fire, savagely wounding Zarkov with a weird toxic round! [Damage causes a Toughness test, 2d10 extra damage. Z is lucky to be still on his feet.]
“Find the woman! Find the book!” – Akirvis
[Off-scene: Mola arrives at the escape pods, finds them powered, and correctly judges how to operate one. She waits with the hatch open for either the ship to be blown apart or her comrades to arrive. As she waits, she hears growling and closes the hatch.]
Molochan moves clear of Jahr’s flank and tosses his first grenade into the piled-up Eldarin, wounding most and killing one. Grimm peels off and joins Jahr’s melee, affording the guard an advantage now he is fighting only one Eldar.
Jahr takes full advantage, knocking the active Eldar down and killing the helpless one. He hands Grimm Luminous Reproach and draws his grenade launcher again. Lady D runs past the pair, en route to the body-littered rear of the Eldarin formation. Trempan reloads and moves out of cover at last, away from Akirvis and towards his allies.
Molochan uses his second grenade to just as good effect. There are now only two Eldarin capable of moving at all. The way seems clear for all except perhaps Zarkov.
Back on the bridge, Zarkov remains: his right arm has gone numb from the toxin but he manages a border shift and fires his last round, missing. But he grins behind his respirator mask: because he has seen something arriving.
A battered but mighty form strides towards Lady D and Molochan. With ambidextrous flicks of power-claws it contemptuously fells both remaining active Eldarin.
“Xenos wretches – die and be forgotten!” – Greypelt
The Astartes hero, armour in shreds, missing an eye and bone shards showing through a gaping skull wound, makes straight for Akirvis, who has only his beasts to assist him. Then Jahr swivels and fires a Krak grenade, ruining Akirvis’ right hand. In any case, Akirvis seems to have been affected by Vogel’s powers: his limbs are no longer lithe and he can hardly move. It is a short fight.
The acolytes make it back to the pods and as the Imperial fleet destroys the Twilight, pods float free to be gathered up by friendly scout vessels.