Dark Heresy - Paths of Faith

ACT ONE - The First Steps

This story begins aboard the Ecclesiarchy Transport Ship ‘Flight of Ten Thousand Angels’ in low orbit around the War World Protasia. As thousands of pilgrims, clutching religious fetish’s, survival gear and a huge array of weaponry, board ancient drop ships another, far smaller, group is embarking.

High above the noise and squalor of the main hanger decks, Zachariah, Ghisliane and Atallus, waiting alongside Atallus’ Shuttle, take charge of Agent 6-11-14 from his Arbites minders. Agent 6-11-14 is currently suspended in a drugged stupor but he is expected to quickly rouse from this once the taskforce’s mission is underway. After carefully checking his shuttle and performing blessings to fortify the little ship’s determined machine spirit Atallus, with the taskforce aboard, takes off heading for Protasia’s North Continent Theatre.

After only a short trip, during which time Agent 6-11-14 awoke and ‘introduced’ himself to the rest of the task force, Atallus touched down in the Imperial HQ and was there greeted by Colonel Cortez, who was to be their liason with the Imperial Guard forces, and Lt Xanthia, a mercenary and the fifth member of the task force. The Colonel quickly ushered them to a small suite dedicated to their needs with 5 private rooms, a large, shared conference room and a smaller dedicated intel room including a compact cogitator. Colonel Cortez allowed the team a short while to make themselves at home before giving them a briefing as to their mission;

“Over the last few months a number of specialist Imperial Guard units have gone missing, deserting their posts with no warning or signs of combat. This has occured in three different locations, here in the main barracks, a small landing facility about 50 miles North-East and a forward observation bunker about 10 miles North. You have been tasked with locating these units and uncovering the reasons for their desertion. I should also warn you that the Commissariat team who was previously investigating the missing units went missing about 2 weeks ago. Finally, the Imperial Guard is stretched thin in this theatre and the lack of these specialised units is really hurting the war effort here; any assistence your team could provide would be appreciated.”

After a lengthy question and answer period lasting some hours the taskforce decided to focus on gathering evidence from the three sites that the squads occupied before their dissappearence, hopefully the missing Commissariat team had the same idea and thier whereabouts would be revealed as the investigation got underway. After putting in a request to Colonel Cortez for permission to fly Atallus’ Shuttle out to the landing facility, the barracks was decided upon as a good starting point for the investigation.

After interrogating the watch officers in command of the barracks the taskforce quickly uncovered a few key clues;

- The previous watch officers dissappeared along with the units stationed under thier command - Those same officers had been assigned to the barracks only weeks before they dissappeared - The units who went missing did not put up any resistance

Utilizing his Administratum privilidge Zachariah also managed to obtain copies of the survailence equipment footage from the barracks. The taskforce, armed with this information, quickly determined that locating these Rogue Officers was of paramount importance. Unfortunatly there were hours of video footage from dozens of camera’s to trawl through and the personel files for the officers was also not within their security clearence.

In order to get access to the secure personel files Agent 6-11-14 was given carte blanche to gather intel however he could. After using the air filtration and power lines to move about the Imperial HQ unseen he soon realised that the officer’s quarters themselves were too heavily guarded for him to access without resorting to lethal force (which Atallus had forbidden). Instead he found and hacked an out of the way cogitator, using a stolen data-slate to copy the files pertaining to the Rogue Officers and installed a back-door programme that he could utilise at a later date.

With his past career in the Administratum, Zachariah was given the camera footage to assess. He performed his role admirably as, intrigued by the challenge, he worked through the night using a stimulant cocktail mixed by himself. Although his self-medication would take its toll, by morning he had uncovered several facts pertinent to the investigation. As Zachariah slept the rest of the team began to piece together the events in the barracks.

A handful of Imperial Guard units had been stationed in the barracks awaiting deployment when their barrack commanders (the Rogue Officers) gave them new orders. The officers of the stationed units did question their orders, which were given in the early hours of the morning, but were silenced by the arrival of an Imperial Commissar. As the units gathered their gear and headed out the Commissar was approached by a Commissar-Cadet also stationed in the barracks. The two spoke privately and their discussion seems to have become heated before the Cadet backed down and left. The Rogue Officers and Commissar left with the units.

All of the officers were quickly matched up to the files obtained by Agent 6-11-14 with the exception of the Commissar and the Cadet whose personel files were stored seperately. It appears that the Rogue Officers are part of a larger conspiricy as they were not questioned leaving the Imperial HQ and “The Commissar” seems to be in league with them. However, their whereabouts are unknown and, without more evidence, nothing can easily be proved yet.

At this point the taskforce decided to cast a wider net in their search for clues, Agent 6-11-14, Lt. Xanthia and Zachariah decided to locate and interrogate the Commissar-Cadet who spoke to “The Commissar” in the hopes of uncovering more information. Atallus and Ghisliane headed to the Chapel to try and obtain Ecclesiarchy clearance to use Atallus’ Shuttle.

Agent 6-11-14 found his way back to a hidden cogitator to try and obtain the secure files in which were stored the personel details of the Commissariat officers on Protasia, whilst he sucessfully copied the files he noticed that his access had been noticed by the Imperial Intelligenciers. He would have to be far more cautious in the future. With these files in hand Zachariah and Lt. Xanthia worked through the personel details trying to match up the grainy pictures from the Barracks with the descriptions stored on file, trying to cross-reference orders issued within the last few months. Finally, they ascertained that the Cadet was one Commissar-cadet Fawn, attached to the Imperial HQ whilst awaiting deployment with an active combat unit. However, they could not match up the pictures of “The Commissar” with any Commissariat officers, the man must be using the disguise to deceive officers conditioned to obey any orders given by an Imperial Commissar! Putting their hunt for “The Commissar” to one side for now they quickly found Commissar-cadet Fawn’s personal billet, resolving to pay him a visit later that night…

Meanwhile, Atallus and Ghisliane explored some of the less militarised areas of the Imperial HQ, they wandered through the market which, whilst not actually run by the Imperial Guard, was heavily policed. As they walked around they could see dozens of stalls selling everything from second hand flak helmets, las-packs, shoddy grenades to brass plated plasma pistols. As the stalls started selling religious trinkets and icons they found themselves approaching a large section of the station walled off for the Ecclesiarchy‘s use. Inside they found a huge nave capable of seating many hundreds of worshippers echoing with the constant melodies of hymns offered up to the Emperor. As a recognised member of the Ecclesiarchy Atallus was able to peruse some of the esoteric and specialised items stockpiled or seized by the church on Protasia. Whilst he bought nothing he noticed a few things he was interested in. Despite speaking with one of the ranking priests they were, unfortunatly, unable to secure a special dispensation to use Atallus’ Shuttle as the clearence to fly across the North Continent Theatre was tightly controlled by the Imperial Navy. Empty handed, they headed back to thier quarters.

In the early hours of the morning, Zachariah, Agent 6-11-14 and Lt Xanthia headed out to meet Commissar-cadet Fawn. After locating his room Agent 6-11-14 employed his abilities as an infiltrator and contortionist to drop into the locked room via a small ventilation shaft. Once inside he easily unlocked the door from within and allowed the others to gain entrance. Quietly waking Fawn Lt Xanthia, who keenly understood the military mindset, interrogated the terrified cadet about his dealings with “The Commissar”;

“I thought it was strange moving troops in the dead of night and the Commissar with them, he didn’t look quite right, if you catch my meaning m’am. I confronted him and he grew agitated, I was about to raise the alarm when he drew his sidearm. It was an odd weapon, I distinctly remember that I had never seen a weapon like it, it was hard to tell if it was even Imperial in design. Well, he threatened my life and, to my shame, I capitulated and left. I should have raised the alarm but I thought it might be some kind of top secret operation, why else would an Imperial Commissar threaten a Cadet? What was he like? Well…”

After grilling Commissar-cadet Fawn about “The Commissar”’s description and manners Zachariah swore him to secrecy and advised him that the taskforce may call on him again if required.

After sleeping late to catch up on a few lost nights sleep the Taskforce brought the facts in their possession so far together. Whilst they had a number of possible theories and suspicions they did not yet have any hard evidence so, since they were still unable to fly to the landing pad, they decided to take a troop train north to the imperial Forward Base and investigate there. After speaking to Colonel Cortez they were to take the next train and meet with Deacon Eli, an Ecclesiarchy representative and their contact in the Forward Base.

The train was a heavily modified civilian model with the previous seats and upholstery stripped out to make room for utilitarian metal benches. The taskforce was given a small, private cabin usually reserved for officers or clerics and they settled in. Having been warned by Colonel Cortez they were expecting long delays in an otherwise short journey. The train could travel no faster than about 35kph to allow the rudimentary minesweeping auspex built into it to pick up any traps laid by partisans. Whilst the taskforce discussed their mission the train slowly trundled through the city, stopping three seperate times whilst engineers removed possible bombs as well as repairing support struts. After over 6 hours aboard the train the taskforce finally stretch thier cramped legs and disembark onto a makeshift station. The bulk of the station is set up to receive the new guardsmen and the shouts of the troopers, officers and harried logistical adepts drown out almost all other noise. The troopers are formed into units and march away. The taskforce head through a large, stone archway and into the Forward Base itself.

Greeting the taskforce is the sight of a sprawling tent city, formed of thousands of pilgrims and citizens; here to bring death to the mutant and the traitor. The sounds and smells of thousands of fervous civilians destroys any semblence of order in the camp, groups of pilgrims have formed small enclaves seemingly at random, preachers and confessors stand on boxes and scream exhaltation at passers-by. The smells of incense, mud, sweat and cordite are heavy in the air. Units of guardsmen try to cross the camp whilst being molested by the faithful desperate to touch the troopers for luck, whether that it luck for themselves or for the troopers. Other, more mercenary souls, try to sell ‘blessed’ trinkets to the soldiers heading for the front. The taskforce stand aghast, unsure of where to even start looking for Deacon Eli when the man himself approaches them, shouldering past a mumbling man whose only covering seems to be a huge, matted beard. The deacon has to shout to make himself heard over the noise of the camp;

“Welcome to the most northerly Imperial position! Colonel Cortez sent word you were coming, i’ve set aside a small chamber for you in the Chapel over there. We’re using the chapel as our base until we move on again. Unfortunatly we can’t hold services…as you can see there probably isn’t a single building on the planet that could hold this many of the Emperors faithful!”

As the deacon escorts the taskforce across the camp they are almost immediatly set upon by the crowd, Atallus and Ghisliane in particular are singled out. They are grabbed, touched and both have gaudy and low quality icons and trinkets pushed into their hands. As gently and politly as possible they push through the crowd following behind Lt Xanthia who has considerably less patience for the surrounding crowd, using her armoured shoulders to shove through. Once inside the chapel being used by the Ecclesiarchy the thick walls block out the smell and noise of the chaos outside and the taskforce slump onto flakboard pews with relief. As Deacon Eli hands out water and some food they discuss the situation at the observation bunkers. The bunkers overlook a network of roadways from the top of a low bluff some 25m high with a steep slope facing north. The south side (facing the Imperial lines) is a far more gentle slope. The position itself is comprised of three fortified bunkers, a pair of small gun-pits and an earthwork outer wall. Unfortunatly, following the desertion of the units stationed there a small rebel infiltration team seized the bunkers and were able to move in a few squads of re-enforcements in before the guard could stop them. The bunkers are now held in enemy hands and the taskforce will not be able to investigate there until they have been retaken. After a short break to refresh themselves the taskforce decided to head for the bunkers to assess the situation themselves and see what, if anything, could be done to secure the bunkers.

Here follows the Battle for Hill 216

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Battle for Hill 216 - Side Mission

Arriving at the observation bunkers on the far north-west edge of the Forward Base the taskforce are met by Cpt Valrios, the commanding officer of the base’s defences and one of the highest ranking field officers in the region.

The bunkers overlook a network of roadways from the top of a low bluff some 25m high with a steep slope facing north. The south side (facing the Imperial lines) is a far more gentle slope. The position itself is comprised of three fortified bunkers, a pair of small gun-pits and an earthwork outer wall. Unfortunatly, following the desertion of the units stationed there a small rebel infiltration team seized the bunkers and were able to move in a few squads of re-enforcements in before the guard could stop them.
The bunkers themselves are currently held by only a handful of squads from the Protasian Free Army who, whilst heavily outnumbered, have the advantage of the formerly imperial defences. They also have a pair of man-portable lascannons and at least one auto-cannon.

Cpt Valrios has a full platoon at his disposal, some 50 guardsmen, but this comprises his full compliment of reserves and he is unwilling to expend more trained soldiers than is required as this might undermine the defences in the base itself. They have man-portable special weapons but, as elsewhere on Protasia, ammunition is very limited.

The taskforce and Valrios, aboard his command chimera, bring together a simple plan of attack. Lt Xanthia and Agent 6-11-14 will circle the camp. Meanwhile Cpt Valrios’s men (accompanied by Atallus) will launch a diversionary attack. With the rebels engaged on the southern walls, Xanthia and Agent 6-11-14 will scale the northern slope and attack the rebels in the rear, hopefully destroying their gun-pits. Ghisliane, not being well suited to long range fighting, will use her psychic powers to get inside the rebel’s perimiter and then disrupt their defence however she can. Zachariah will await behind the main line of attack to take charge of the inevitable wounded and act as comms officer.

As the plan unfolds more rebels than expected remain on the north wall of the bunkers and fire on Agent 6-11-14 and Xanthia as they ascend. The two agents draw half a dozen troopers away from the battle and destroy a heavy stubber nest with a fire bomb but are unable to reach the top of the slope until the battle is almost over.

Attalus uses his long las to eliminate a heavy weapons team and seriously wound a rebel officer but mortar fire from the rebels hinder his shots. He escapes serious injury however.

Ghislian, using her biomancy power, tunnels underneath the bunkers and emerges in the middle of the rebel position. Seeing that the outer earthworks are still well defended she ducks into the rebel command post and proceeds to kill the rebel commander and his command squad.

The guardsmen are able to press their attack once the rebel heavy weapons and officers are destroyed. The rebels, realising they are under attack from north and south as well as within begin to fall back under fierce fire from Agent 6-11-14 who destroys a rebel troop truck and kills a dozen rebel soldiers as they retreat.

The battle is over quickly and with remarkably few Imperial casualties. However, there is a disagreement between the taskforce, especially Lt Xanthia, who want to claim some of the weapons left in the bunker for themselves. With Cpt Valrios still in his command chimera there are no officers amongst the victorious guardsmen willing to stand up to the taskforce. Claiming ammunition, some armour and a man-portable lascannon for themselves the taskforce scour the bunkers for evidence.

Other than some logs which mention “The Commissar” and make it obvious that the units stationed here left of their own will they are disappointed.

It appears that “The Commissar” and another of the Rogue Officers arrived and convinced Gretta’s Rifles (the scout unit stationed at the bunkers) to abandon their posts. It seems likely that this was accomplished using fake order papers, easily obtainable by one of the logistical officers who appear to be assisting Lt Gallus.

With little new evidence the taskforce return to the Forward Base. Cpt Valrios is grateful to them for their assistance but his gratitude soon cools after he learns about the taskforce’s ‘requisitioning’ of one of his heavy weapons.

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Finding Commissar Rendat - Side Mission

Despite having been given Commissar Rendat’s case files and personal journal early in their investigation it was several days before any real progress was made on deciphering Rendat’s notes. On the way to the Forward Base Zach had been studying the journal and worked out the cipher pattern Rendat was using, after hours of careful checking he had also managed to find all of the cipher words and phrases as well.

It was not until the Taskforce was on their way back to Imperial HQ that Xanthia could find time to translate the military code words to gothic and help Zach put the words in the correct order to unlock the information within.

Rendet had interviewed those officers he believed were involved with the missing units, speaking to the commander at the garrisons as well as the security teams at the landing pad. Like the taskforce he believed that they had been successfully fooled, which means that the orders shown to them for the transfer of the troopers were either excellent forgeries or genuine. He had, through inquiry and intimidation, spoken and interrogated anyone in the area capable of creating forgeries of such quality. He believed that they had not created the duplicate orders although he did arrest most of the forgers on other crimes, one of whom (a man named Lapis Gren) is still being held in the Commissariat cells.

As a result he concluded that the orders must be genuine. Only high ranking officers or members of the logistics corps could possibly have created those orders. He then performed extensive background checks and non-intrusive surveillance on the handful of officers of high enough rank in this theatre. None flagged any suspicions so Rendet moved on to the logistics corps. He called on his network of informers and observers to keep a close eye on the logistics officers then started interviewing them one at a time in the hopes of flushing out his traitor. He gives a list of several officers who started acting strangely but notes that their activities seem to centre on the logistics CO Lt Gallus. Rendet strongly suspected Gallus of involvement but without any tangible proof or a confession he is unable to act as Gallus is a long standing member of General Volstoy’s staff and his personal friend. Two weeks ago, Rendet got a lucky a break, one of his informers (Hershal Mink), reported that Gallus has been seen heading to the mercenary market and entered a known criminal hideout (The Strangled Noble) with a half dozen minor criminals. Feeling he was about to catch Gallus in the act Rendet gathered a team (a half dozen Commissar-cadets and an Arbitrator) and set off for the market to bring Gallus to justice. The journal ends there.

The taskforce decided to pick up Rendat’s investigation where it ended, hopefully finding out the fate of the missing commissar. Heading to the Strangled Noble they discovered that Hershal Mink is dead, killed by a gang called Hargod’s Hunters. After some interrogation and a quick scuffle in the bar the proprietor ‘recalls’ seeing the commissariat team enter a series of abandoned storage chambers. Hargod’s Hunters then followed them very shortly after. Rumour has it that there was a fight in the abandoned tunnels and Hargod has been gloating about a new bolt pistol for the last fortnight.

The taskforce jumped to the conclusion that Commissar Rendat had been set up and ambushed by Hargod and his gang who then also killed Hershal Mink to cover up the scheme. This seemed to indicate that the conspiritors had learned of Rendat’s investigation and had taken steps to stop him.

Following into the abandoned tunnels the taskforce easily found tracks in the thick dust and followed them. They found a small camp deep into the tunnels from which they could hear shouting and cheering. The taskforce quietly eliminated a pair of sentries and then attacked.

They found a fighting ring surrounded by baying mercenaries and petty criminals. They shoved to the front and saw an obviously wounded and exhausted Commissar Rendat fighting for his life against some kind of xenos creature. The taskforce sprung into action! Attalus fired on the xenos creature to drive it away from the Rendat while Ghisliane leapt into the pit. Enraged at the interruption of their entertainment a group of criminals moved to attack the taskforce wielding crude melee weapons and pistols. Agent 6-11-14, Xanthia and Zach soon found themselves fighting in melee, although their superior weapons and training gave them a considerable advantage. In the fighting pit Attalus and Ghisliane made short work of the xenos creature although the handlers, a quartet of ork boyz, had moved in to attack Ghisliane. Seeing that Rendat was too injured to climb out of the pit himself Attalus leapt down as well, using his pistol to drive the orkz away from the, now unconscious, commissar.

Before long the taskforce had slaughtered the xenos and scattered the remaining criminals. Stopping only to kill a handful of captive xenos creatures held in some back pens they headed back to the mercenary market with Rendat in tow.

While they learned little to help them in their investigations the taskforce had managed to rescue a loyal Imperial servant and make a steadfast ally in the process.

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Faith and Fire - Side Mission

The taskforce, with no new leads at present, decided to follow up on a report that several of the Rogue Officers frequent the nearby town of Rillin. This could easily be a dead end as almost all the Guard officers in the North Continent Theatre use Rillin as an R&R spot. However, the Taskforce had nothing else to go on.

Rillin is also near a noted holy site, known as the Emperor’s Face. The site is a 40m tall carved statue of the Emperor and is rumoured to be a near perfect likeness of His holy features, however the head of the statue is almost permanently shrouded in mist. It is said that for one in a thousand pilgrims who make the climb and are pure in their faith, the mists part and the pilgrim catches a glimpse of the Emperor’s benevolent face.

Flying his shuttle, the Noble Endeavour, to the town Attalus landed on a small, private landing pad next to the far larger commercial shipping pads. As the rest of the taskforce headed into the town to find accommodation and contact the local enforcers Attalus checked the status of his ship. He got talking to one of the service crew and, once some thrones change hands, found a mechanic capable of discreetly jury-rigging the taskforce’s acquired lascannon to the Endeavour’s power core. The mechanic agreed to begin at once, saying the modifications will take about 2 days at most, during which time the shuttle will be unable to fly. Attalus would also need to find a tech-priest willing to bless the new work, as luck would have it the tech-priest attached to the shuttle port is very accommodating…

Pleased with his deal Attalus rejoined Lt Xanthia at a nearby hostel. She informed him that the others seem to have dispersed throughout the town following their private agenda’s.

Agent 6-11-14 bought several local and regional newspapers and disappeared. Unbeknownst to the rest of the taskforce Agent 6-11-14 was using the papers to look for coded orders from his death cult masters and was hiding amongst the rafters of the town chapel to do so. After many hours he’d managed to piece together a list of possible targets but local events were to disrupt his actions.

Ghisliane had decided to visit the chapel as well, though she was there to pray and converse with the local cleric. The cleric reported some strange activity among some of the local population but hadn’t noticed anything strange about the Imperial Guard officers visiting the town. When questioned about the locals the cleric said that several of the men were disappearing from their homes in the dead of night, returning just before dawn. Some of their wives were worried about their husband’s nocturnal activities and had confided in the cleric. At first he assumed infidelity but as more wives came to him he became concerned and raised the issue with the local sheriff, Jackobin. The cleric suggested that Ghisliane speak to Jackobin if she wanted more information.

Zachariah, meanwhile, had already used his Administratum privileges to gain access to the sheriff’s files and evidence locker and was perusing the information when Ghisliane arrived. Jackobin had been looking into the missing men and reported that they gathered somewhere in the small industrial park on the town’s western edge. They always posted lookouts though so he and his deputies could never find their meeting hall. They had managed to search one of the men’s homes and recovered a chest containing worrying items, the enforcers didn’t know what to make of it so sent a report to Imperial HQ but had not heard anything in reply yet.

Examining the items in the chest for themselves Zack and Ghisliane found candles, powders, a ritual dagger and a collection of extremely suspicious paraphanalia including a hand written journal. Zack, with his knowledge of the occult and cultist activity soon saw a pattern, imagining what dangerous and blasphemous rites could be performed with such items. With access to a highly detailed local map he was able to pinpoint locations that could hold ‘mystical’ significance, including one within the industrial estate mentioned by Jackobin. Stealing his will, Zackariah delved into the heretical contents of the journal for more information. The descriptions of sorcerous formula and unholy communions shook him to his core but he was able to glean an inkling of the cult’s plans. They appeared to be planning on enacting a specific spell and the opportune time for this casting was due any time in the next 48 hours!

Although wary of acting of intelligence gained from such a source Ghisliane and Zachariah warned Jackobin to be on his guard and gathered the rest of the taskforce to warn them of the impending danger, Agent 6-11-14 reappearing in the early evening. They felt that the timing of this cults actions were no co-incidence and assumed that the cultists must be working in concert with the conspiracy they were trying to uncover. It seemed likely that Lt Gallus, or one of his allies, had tipped off the cultists about the taskforce’s movements.

The taskforce followed Zach’s directions to the site in the industrial park, arriving at an empty warehouse. After forcing entry they conducted a detailed search and found nothing but a scattering of coloured powder. However, Ghisliane, using her psychic ability found several stains in the warp that could signify sorcerous powers being enacted so the taskforce could be fairly certain they were in the right place. They decided to hide nearby and simply wait for the cultists to appear.

As the night wore on it became increasingly apparent that the taskforce might have made the wrong call. While they watched an empty and silent warehouse they started to hear some kind of disturbance in town, though they initially dismissed this as unrelated trouble or even an intentional distraction. After an hour had passed and with gunfire becoming clearly audible from the town centre the taskforce realised they were in the wrong place and scrambled to reach the landing pads as soon as possible. Attalus, Agent 6-11-14 and Ghisliane, being fleet of foot, quickly sped off into the darkness, leaving Zach and Xanthia to commandeer a local’s private vehicle. As they tore through the outskirts of the town they found the stolen tuk-tuk to be practically uncontrollable at high speed and they tipped the vehicle over twice before reaching the centre of town. They found a wounded Jackobin sheltering behind a heavily damaged enforcer vehicle with Attalus. Across the roadway Ghisliane and Agent 6-11-14 were attacking what appeared to be dockworkers in melee. The dockworkers were fighting back with a motley assortment of lasgun’s, autoguns and shotguns but generally getting the worst of it. Xanthia quickly joined in, sending frag grenades from her launcher at a small group of enemies trying to flank Ghisliane. While Zach tended to Jackobin’s wounds the rest of the taskforce routed the insurgents outside the dock buildings.

Once Zack rejoined the others they pushed into the landing pads. Finding several locals, including the resident tech-priest, dead the taskforce was out for blood and was not disappointed. A fierce gun battle developed across the main commercial landing pad and it soon became obvious the insurgents were invoking sorcererous powers as the fighting turned against them. The taskforce showed no mercy to the cultists and had soon killed them all. Jackobin reported from the comms room that his deputy had rallied a group of local militia and off duty guardsmen to kill a smaller group of cultists who had seized the town hall, though not before the town hall had been set ablaze. A group of cultists had also been spotted in a convoy of stolen civilian buildings heading out of town, the only landmark for miles was the Emperor’s Face and Jackobin feared the heretics would be trying to strike at the Holy site in some way. The taskforce rushed to The Noble Endeavour to give chase only to find that the mechanics had already dismantled part of the engine block and it was unable to fly! Desperate for a way to catch up the taskforce found a bulk hauler big enough to carry all of them; over-rode its control systems and soon took off in the stolen craft.

Travelling as fast as the rickety ship could manage Attalus soon realised that this hauler was barely flight worthy and could easily crash with no help from the cultists. His concern for the schemes of the cultists outweighed any potential danger from an old ship though so he pushed the engines to their feeble limit and tried to contain the damage as best as he could. Agent 6-11-14 soon announced that they were catching up to the cultists who had started firing on the pursuing taskforce. Unafraid of small arms at such long range Attalus did not stress the engines any more by taking evasive manuevers. Unfortunately this left him something of a sitting duck to an RPG launched by the cultists which caused serious damage. With the hauler loosing fuel and more than one of the engines close to outright failure the taskforce decided to overshoot the cultists on the road and head straight to the Emperor’s Face. After a very tense 15 minutes the rocky outcrop atop which stood the Holy statue came into view. Rather than risk crashing into the statue they were here to protect Attalus aimed to ‘land’ at the base of the slope.

Although the taskforce survived the crash with only minor wounds the hauler was destroyed. Looking around, the taskforce noticed a couple of quad-bikes and a large truck sitting idle nearby. Clearly a small group of cultists head arrived here even while their comrades were attacking the town. Bullets started to fly as a cable car full of cultists started descending the slope. Deciding that they did not have time for a prolonged gun fight Agent 6-11-14 drew his mono-sword and started to hack through the thick cable controlling the car’s descent. The rest of the taskforce leapt aboard the quad-bikes and started up the slope at far more than a safe speed. The cable soon parted under Agent 6-11-14’s blows and the cultists hurtled into the small stone shack at the bottom of the slope, Agent 6-11-14 quickly slitting the throats of any survivors. He used his comm-link to advise the others he was going to guard the road in case the larger convoy arrived, drew his rifle and disappeared into the night.

Moments later the others reached the summit, seeing a trio of cultists heading into the small chapel nearby Attalus ran on to prevent any harm coming to the priests there. The other three spread out and advanced on a dozen cultists standing in a circle around a blazing fire. Through the flames a tall metal figure could be seen; assuming it to be a symbolic representation of some dark god or daemon Zach and Xanthia opened fire on the chanting cultists while Ghisliane ran forward to attack with her glaive.

Even as she was only halfway to the cultists the metal figure came to life! The cultist’s chanting turned suddenly to panicked screams and they attempted to flee, some even falling to the ground in terror. Clearly this summoning was not part of their plan. This was confirmed when the figure reached out a hand and sent a torrent of fire towards Ghisliane, engulfing a pair of cultists as well. Marshalling their own terror Xanthia and Zach turned their fire on the greater threat but, lacking heavy weapons, their attacks did little to mark the daemonic, metal form striding slowly towards them. Rolling on the ground to extinguish the fire clinging to her robes Ghisliane summoned psychic power of her own. As she drew the warp close a fierce storm erupted, lashing the summit in howling wind and conjured shards of ice. Staggering to her feet she readied Ignis Angelorum and charged into the daemonhost who was starting to notice to torrent of bolts being fired by Xanthia and Zach.

Inside the chapel Attalus had quickly eliminated the cultists and had gathered the clerics together, asking them to pray for deliverance. Sensing the dark presence outside the chapel Attalus wracked his brain for a way to assist the others. Remembering the Catchecism of Exorcism he started to pray for the Emperor’s light to turn his way more desperately than ever before.

Even while Ghisliane battled the daemon’s borrowed physical form the creature was assailing the taskforce with a mental attack and was able to project a terrifying kalediscope of images.

Speaking of it days later Xanthia described this mental attack;

‘I saw a blasted and flaming landscape, possibly Protasia. Blackened ruins and destroyed vehicles were everywhere. Bestriding this was a vast entity, roughly humanoid in shape but cloaked all in shadow. The ground on which it walked blackened and shadow curled around it. I saw it confronted by battle tanks and it sent forth waves of darkness which engulfed them. I felt a great wave of helplessness and knew, I know not how, that if this vision came to pass it would mean the end of all free life on this world…’

In the face of mental attacks for which they had no way of being prepared Zach and Xanthia finally recoiled from the beast. Ghisliane had been trained for years to resist the whispers of daemons and remained unaffected as did Attalus, though this was due, in no small part, to his standing on hallowed ground. As the other clerics joined his prayers Attalus realised that he had managed to glean a tiny scrap of the daemon’s True Name and could possibly use this against the creature, although, with no way to employ this safely, he risked his very soul in invoking even a sliver of such blasphemous knowledge. After a moment of doubt he decided the risk was acceptable and spoke the Name aloud, attempting to drive his banishing home.

On the summit, still lashed by etheral winds, a beam of sunlight radiated from the clouds and illuminated Ghisliane and the daemon. The Emperor’s statue seemed to loom over the battling warriors, distracting the daemon who looked over his shoulder, seeing His Holy visage glaring down. Ghisliane used this opportunity to drive her glaive into the daemon and blast its physical form with psychic energy which shattered under the blow. Simultaneously, Attalus and his impromptu conclave screamed the final rite of a banishment and sent the daemon’s immaterial being back to the Warp. The remaining pieces of the metal statue fell, smoking, to the ground utterly inert.

With the battle done Zach rushed forward to tend to the wounds sustained by Ghisliane, Attalus and the clerics. Xanthia headed back down the slope to find Agent 6-11-14. As it turned out he had fought a running battle against two score cultists in the darkness. Nearly invisible in his camo gear he had stalked them for over an hour, covering nearly 2 square miles as they attempted to locate him. During the fighting Agent 6-11-14 had eliminated 41 cultists, fired 67 rounds of ammunition and sustained only one minor wound from a stray enemy shot. Though he had no memory of the events his Arbitrator minders were later very pleased with his performance.

The taskforce was to spend a further 5 days in Rillin as they were interviewed by representatives of the Ecclesiarchy and Commissariat to determine if they had been exposed to corruption. Luckily they were all found mentally fit to continue their duties and they even learned a new piece of information;

While they had been battling the Rillin Cultists and Paaselkasulo the cult’s magus had been floating in a luxury yaught with a hand-picked bodyguard. The magus had been eliminated that same night by an unknown party, though it is not known if this was the work of Paaselkasulo or disgruntled cult members. It could even have been some ritual suicide once word of the attack’s failure reached the magus. Whoever was responsible it seem the cult in Rillin had been totally destroyed, although the town would require weeks to recover.

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