The fabulous walking tower of the Hermit made its way through the twilight and fog of the Swamps of Axxos zigzagging around lakes, hills and ridges. Slowly making its way through the wooded areas, wherever there were no lakes or streams it was an overgrown morass. Stefan of Meteora, Gralum the Rogue trader and their retinues were onboard, the katafron servitor of Stefan’s swamp explorator team was following outside. The Hermit sat in his throne of roots and cables and slept, a strange sensation of drowsiness came over all of the party, they would often fall asleep. Their sleep was interrupted more and more frequently by the psychic screams which grew more and more intense the further the further they went. Gralum would often look sleepily out the window, constantly nervous that someone might be following…
If you haven’t read Something brewing in the swamps, Prelude, In search of the Hermit and Interlude, you should before continuing 🙂 Then you should sit down in a comfortable chair with a cup of coffee or whatever refreshment you prefer, cause this will be a long one!
Now we are drawing near the end of our saga in the Swamps of Axxos. We played the last game saturday February 4th. It was a mammoth game, which took most of the day, in reality two games in one, they have a tendency to develop like that. We borrowed the swamp table in our club Rogue Trader, kindly modified with a lot of waterholes by our friend Sonny, so it would fit the needs of our game perfectly.
It took some time before Gralum and Stefan realised that Inquisitor Job was missing, maybe because of the strange drowsiness they felt onboard the walking tower. The Hermit denied any knowledge as to where he might be, but saying that nobody should snoop around in his tower, it could be dangerous, especially in the workshop and laboratory area. “But don’t you think that he has aborted the mission, he was after all after treasure or some such, there is nothing of value here in the swamps.” Stefan and Gralum found that hard to believe, but they had not seen the Hermit move from his throne during the travel, so lacking any other evidence they had to take his word at face value for now…
“You’ve seen anyone following us?” asked Stefan
“No” Gralum said “but I have a bad feeling, something is amiss, I just can’t put my finger on it”.
“Now we are almost there” said the Hermit “I have some equipment you might find useful.” He showed them to a pile of old equipment he had gathered from people coming into the swamps from time to time. Some of the things looked like the trash the swampgrubbers would be carrying around. There were spent shell casings, empty ammo clips and a guardsman’s field ration which must be at least a hundred years old. There was a frayed rope, which was so eaten up by moist and rot that it couldn’t have supported a kitten. There were old backpacks and an old flash light without its battery. With a shudder Stefan thought about the many different aged servitors installed in the walking tower, was this what happened to travelers finding their way into the swamps of Axxos? Gralum and Stefan was just about to give up finding anything of use when they found a pair of imperial guard issue first aid kits, which wasn’t even old or used. “Maybe these come from the retinue of Lord Aurelius” Stefan muttered. “Who cares, these can save our lives in a pinch, we’ll take them and ask questions another time” said Gralum, grabbed one kit and tossed the other one to Stefan. They rummaged through the rest of the mess but found nothing further of use.
They came to a slight rise in the land, in the middle of a rust red hill some rusty ruins rose around a kind of pillar made of cables, wires and pipes. The flimsy looking pillar just continued up and up until it disappeared in the fog and shadows. At the bottom of the pillar was something that looked a little like an ancient cogitator unit, operated by a skeletal servitor.
“Behold the central pillar” said the Hermit. “This is a databank and power hub for this whole place. This is where the back up is, with which I can reload my memory. This is also where you can get your answers.
“great, let’s get at it” Stefan said.
Then he noticed the beastmen prowling about the central pillar “more of your children Hermit?” He said “Do you think they will be hostile, or will they leave us alone?”
“I am not sure, don’t attack unless they attack first” said the Hermit. “It is impossible to tell, sometimes they just attack unprovoked, at other times they can be reasoned with, it is really a question of how influenced these are by the bad men I told you about. Though so close to the central pillar, they are probably guarding it.”
Tentatively they exited the tower. They were very careful not to seem threatening to the beastmen. To begin with, the beastmen seemed almost indifferent to the new arrivals, if anything just a little bit wary.
Suddenly, right after they had left the tower, a death cult assassin leapt out of the fog! Indeed Gralum had been followed, she was just too good to be seen. She had a spider-like servoskull, which could serve brilliantly as a scout, so the assassin never would have to move within sight of her prey until it was time to strike.
She came out of nowhere like a lightning strike, she swung her sword and nearly beheaded poor Gralum. He fell unconscious to the ground, severely injured in the head, a hair’s breadth from death. He was bleeding heavily, it was a matter of minutes. Gralum’s two rat skin henchmen Tarn and his nephew Rusty Nails started firing their guns at the assassin but she was lightning fast and dodged all their bullets. Stefan dove under the tower and ran to aid Gralum. He came up and drew his bolt pistol, and the assassin jumped upon the ridge, she dodged the first few shots he fired. She ran, the target looked dead, she could always come back and confirm the kill or finish the job if necessary. As the assassin passed Stefan, she fired her needle pistol at him with a dose of blood fire poison. She wounded him but the poison didn’t take hold and Stefan fired back, wounding her left arm. Without missing a beat, she vaulted over the stream and kept running, Stefan shot her again, wounding her sword arm again, so she dropped her sword. She kept running and ducking out of sight.
Stefan rushed to Gralum’s side and started to help patch him up and stop the bleeding. Between them Tarn, Stefan and Rusty managed to stabilize Gralum and stop the bleeding.
The beastmen on the hill seemed at first a little startled by the commotion, then annoyed and in the middle of all the chaos of the fight with the assassin, that advanced on the group. They did not look friendly. The Hermit started to edge back to the tower door.
With the use of one entire imperial guard issue first aid kit and a whole lot of luck, Stefan and the rat skins revived Gralum and with a groan he regained consciousness and started ever so slowly to get back on his feet.
Now the beastmen started to attack. One of them flanked the group, another one started to lob grenades at them with a grenade thrower. Bob the Imperial guard veteran in the swamp exploratory unit swung his autogun like a bat and knocked the first grenade away, lucky bastard! Now things were heating up quickly. Among the beastmen was one of the big fearsome slug things, the katafron fired wildly at it, at the same time Stafan was helping Gralum back on his feet. Tarn the rat skin needed another trophy for his collection apparently and ran off after the assassin, to pick up her sword. The pregnant beastwoman was closing in on Bob and he fired a burst at her with his autogun, she was wounded severely and started to retreat. The big antlered one with the grenade launcher started a veritable rain of frag grenades on the swamp explorator unit and the Hermit who was trying to get into the tower and relative safety. This provided cover for the wounded pregnant one to retreat and the smaller antlered one to close in. The katafron was damaged quite heavily b the rain of grenades, it just barely managed to stay on its tracks. The big gun of the katafron boomed again this time practically sawing the big slug thing in half and wounded the other snail thing a bit as well as it let rip on full auto.
Rusty attacked the snail creature and got an electrical shock for his pains, nothing too severe though. The big antlered beastmen had rather unwisely fired all of his grenades and was now frantically reloading his grenade thrower. The other one with antlers closed in on Bob and got shot up pretty badly. Stefan and Gralum fired at the snail and finished of the slug, Stefan almost hit Rusty Nails with a bolt round. Gralum could have killed him for it if it weren’t for the fact that Stefan just had saved his life. Tarn came back with the assassin’s sword. As the katafron started to fire again, the last of the beastmen lost their nerve and retreated. The Hermit rushed up to the central Pillar closely followed by Stefan and Gralum, everybody were curious now as to what wold happen next.
The Hermit produced a set of old rusty keys and inserted them one after another in different keyholes in the cogitator unit. With a hum it came to life, the ancient servitors shivered and started to operate levers and buttons with jerky and clumsy movements, a faint green light started to shine in its eye sockets. The Hermit digged up an old cable from the mess of cables in the ground before the Pillar. He inserted the cable in a socket in the back of his head and with a groan and a sigh he froze up completely as the flow of data started.
Tarn started to range ahead and look for traps, always concerned about everyone’s safety. Hi did not get far before he stumbled upon a boobie trap, that needed dismantling, he happily set to work.
As the Hermit stood there with a green light flickering in his eyes reloading his memory, the screen on the cogitators cane to life and the servitors started to print out paper after paper frantically. Gralum and Stefan started to read and an incredible story started to unfold.
Axcorp starship manufacturing facility and research laboratory
During the dark age of technology Axcorp rose and became the biggest and most important manufacturer of starships. During the first millennia of mankind’s expansion into the universe most of the starships used was made by Axcorp.
For thousands of years Axcorp managed to stay in the forefront of starship technology, manufacture and development of faster than light propulsion systems. Axcorp ships used many other and often better means of interstellar travel than the now common warp drive and all the risks that involves.
During the early years of expansion representatives of Axcorp came upon the Alfa system, a virgin starsystem, much like the Sol system. The second planet of the Alfa system; Alfa Secundus had a climate almost identical to that of Terra. The planet was uninhabited. During those times it was not a problem for a big and important company like Axcorp to buy a newly discovered planet or even the whole system. So they did.
The Axcorp company made their new and biggest production and research facility upon Alfa Secundus. It became the biggest factory ever in the history of mankind. Here they could produce many more and much bigger starships than before. After about a century Axcorp moved all their production and research to the Alfa Secundus facility and it grew even bigger. Close by the factory a new city arose to accommodate the many workers flocking to the titanic factory, Mondus Centurium. The city quickly expanded into a thriving community of more than a billion and the factory gained a work force like no other. When they built their new main hall for production and research it turned out to be the largest single structure ever created by man. 50 by 100 km production hall for serial assembly line manufacture of ever larger starships.
Axcorp devised a special system of satellites, that transferred sunlight wirelessly into the lamps of the factory halls. Thereby they saved a lot of power, which could be used for production and it created a much healthier environment for the countless workers, toiling away constantly day and night. So everybody living in Mondus Centurium and working for Axcorp would lead a much healthier life than everyone else living in polluted darkness. This system was built to last, it could practically last forever as long as the sun burned, providing power for the satellites and sunlight for the lamps,
Making larger, ever faster, smarter and more starships than any other, Axcorp was the largest manufacture company of mankind, also gaining some political influence.
During this time Mars had long been populated by man. The Mechanicum of Mars arose and ever so slowly became a major player in the research, development and manufacture. In time Mars and Axcorp became competitors for the market of starship manufacture. Fortunately for Axcorp The Mechanicum of Mars had many other interests than just starships and beyond speed of light technologies, so the competition was not that hard or hostile, but it was there. On many occasions Mars and Axcorp would work together in development of new technologies. It was a frugal relationship for several centuries, though always a little competitive as well. For centuries Axcorp grew, the Mechanicum grew and the city Mondus Centurium grew into a regular hive city. At some point, later classified as the end of the dark age of technology, an envoy from Mars came to the Axcorp facility at Alfa Secundus. He was part of an exchange programme, where Mars and Axcorp helped each other out through the exchange of knowledge and experience. This was the techpriest Beta 100011010 among the countless workers of Axcorp he was better known as the Foreman. The Foreman was a technical genius and quickly gained influence on the general manufacture and made several leaps in faster than light traveling technologies and the business of Axcorp thrived even more. In exchange for the Foreman, Axcorp send several of their own chief researchers to Mars as envoys to work together with the Mechanicum.
Alas, the bliss and prosperity was not to last.
The Mechanicum of Mars started production of starships in the void, thereby gaining a severe edge in the competition with Axcorp, since such void production was a lot cheaper, once the production facility was in place. The envoys from Axcorp sold many production and research secrets to the Mechanicum and suddenly the Mechanicum was ahead in the competition. They standardized warp travel, not because it was the best way, but because it was the cheapest way to mass produce faster than light transportation.
No matter what they tried at Axcorp, they could nor surpass Mars anymore. Much of the reason was the fact that Mars was able to fill the market for faster than light starships faster and much cheaper than Axcorp, but they were also privy to Axcorps most secret and most groundbreaking research, so they managed constantly to stay a little ahead. This ushered in a long and inexorable decline for Axcorp. They even started the construction of a void production facility but they never managed to finish it. Suddenly constantly behind and with extremely big money on the line, because of the titanic cost of starships, Axcorp was forced into making haphazard and cheap solutions instead of providing the best product on the market, that was the Mechanicum of Mars’s privilege now. The decline was slow at first, but it accelerated exponentially and after 124 years there was nothing left! Axcorp was forced to close down, they went bankrupt! The factory was closed the billions of workers were sent home, their livelihood gone.
On the day the factory was closed down, the disgruntled workers rounded up the Foreman, thinking that it was all his fault, thinking that he had sold them to Mars, but he was in fact innocent. They beat him up, some say that they tore him apart, they were many and no single person ever went forward and admitted the crime. In the end when the workers were finished with the foreman, they locked him in a closet and left him for dead.
This ushered in an age of techno barbarism. The society of Alfa Secundus and in particular Mondus Centurium collapsed totally! Their whole foundation of civilization was gone from one day to the other. The whole hive city collapsed into crime and violence, there was lawlessness on every level.
Quite ironically at this time warp travel lost its feasibility. The great warp storms, that set in during this period, isolated the star systems from each other. This was later known as the Age of Strife. The great intergalactic society collapsed and it was all systems for themselves. Axcorp would have provided alternative methods of interstellar travel, but Axcorp was no more.
The hive city of mondus Centurium was cast into an age of medieval barbarism for the next two millennia, crime lords rose and fell controlling a ruthless society of violence and crime. After about two millennia things found a sort of equilibrium and society slowly started to rebuild itself, but it was a very poor one and at this point Axcorp was forgotten. The factory was covered in waste and slags. A mountain range of about 3 km’s height, made of refuse and slags, rose around the city during this period totally covering the whole facility, no one knew what was out there, only that certain parts of the lowest levels of the hive city ended in an ancient wall.
Axcorp was eventually forgotten.
Everything in the vast factory hall deteriorated over the millennia. The coolant systems leaked, practically flooding the place. The sewage systems clotted up and stopped working. The great cranes and machines turned into shapeless mountains of rust. A room of this size does not just develop a micro climate, but turns into a regular climate and ecosystem if left unchecked. The satellites providing sunlight for the lamps were still working, most of the lamps as well, not perfectly but enough to sustain life. In this moist, relatively well-lit environment plant life started to come forth. Such organic matter as wooden floors and panels turned into soil nourishing fungal growth. The amount of soil grew and more plants sprang forth, bushes and small trees, their life cycles constantly adding to the amount of soil, so the ecosystem grew more fungus, more bushes, wines and trees. Over the millennia the entire factory hall was turned into a vast, moist overgrown swampland. Covered with many oily, polluted lakes, full of more or less mutated fish, snakes and amphibians. The landscape was dotted here and there with hills, small mountains and ridges of a special rust red color. The ground would sometimes yield rusty old mechanical parts, like sprockets, axles or oddly electrical circuit boards. The soil would always have a certain rust red color. Water could constantly be heard dripping, everything was always moist, there was a perpetual fog all over the place obscuring vision, shortening view considerably. Moss and fungus grew everywhere.
In time underdeveloped mutants and outcasts of the city found their way through a gate in the ancient wall. They found a refuge in the moist overgrown land beyond the gate and was able to escape the survival of the fittest society of the underhive. They called the place The Swamps of Axxos, maybe through some obscure racial memory of there being something else here once.
The foreman who was left for dead, was not quite dead…
He was not really a tech priest in the traditional way, he came from an age of higher enlightenment and much more refined technology. There was so little human left of him, that his exosuit was able to save what was there and preserve it.
His redundancy systems kicked in and put his human part in a coma, all the while preserving them and healing his human parts ever so slowly. The redundancy systems healed themselves, repaired their damage, ever so slowly, there was no expiry date on the systems, they took their time.
Many of the foreman’s technological systems were damaged beyond repair, they started to regrow over time. At some point several millennia after the incident, the foreman awoke from his coma. He had become something else, an amalgamation of ancient technology, rusty metal parts and wood. Such parts that could not be repaired had been replaced with plants, which somehow managed to compensate for what was missing, he would for now on and forever be part human, part machine and part plant.
The factory hall had turned into one vast overgrown swamp. The foreman was the only intelligent being in this place, it took him quite some time to figure out that it was his own old work place.
He started to create company for himself to ease his loneliness. He was quite unhinged.
The beings he created or grew for lack of a more fitting description, always got the image of animals. Some were big beasts, but the majority were beastmen, though in reality cyborgs with an animal visage, this was probably due to his hatred of humanity…
Since the Foreman was living all alone in the middle of the swamps and the population living on the fringes sometimes crossed him, he became known as the Hermit. He would never suffer any human company, always staying alone in the middle of his swamps, like some sort of custodian of what once was, though forgotten by all.
This drew him mad and eventually, the Hermit deleted his own memory, but he kept a backup in the databank of the central pillar.
Starship production templates and blueprints.
Database of development of starships
Database of earlier production
Faster than light interstellar travel:
Plasma super drive
Multiverse spike method
Worm hole travel
The last bit of the story, was not just a list of templates for construction and faster than light means of interstellar travel, but an actual directory of the actual research results. gralum’s eyes lit up, “this information is worth more than any archeotech I could ever have dreamt of finding here, now I can pay of the do without any problems”.
“This can revolutionize space travel, if this works, we won’t need navigators or warp travel anymore! This is fantastic!” Cried Stefan.
Suddenly the screen went black and the printing stopped! The katafron had ejected all the memory coils containing the research information and was now speeding around to the other side of the Pillar as fast as its tracks could carry it. Bob moved in between to cover his escape. “What?” Gralum sputtered “hey wait a minute!” Stefan yelled
“sorry boss, but you’re not really our boss, he is right over there on the other side. Nothing personal see, now take it easy and no one will get hurt” said Bob as he kept himself between the katafron and Stefan.
Stefan of Meteora took it very personally! The betrayal really got to him, he got very angry! He drew his bolt pistol.”Stop in the name of the Emperor and his holy Inquisition!” He yelled. “You disobey my orders! You will return to me immediately or I will kill you both!”
Bob just fired his gun at Stefan and a regular firefight broke out between Bob and Stefan, Gralum came running as fast as his short legs could carry him. In the end Stefan won, his bolt pistol being the heavier weapon and he gunned Bob down! Stefan and Gralum ran after the katafron, trying to stop it, until they passed by the central Pillar and came to an abrupt stop as they saw what was on the other side!
There was Ezekiah the psyker crucified! He was nailed to a cross made of Rusty old iron beams. Above a charnel pit set into some obscure old machinery, filled with human body parts and blood. Ezekiah emitted a pitiful wail and the psychic scream cut through everybody’s minds like a knife, now they had found the source of the psychic screams. A band of chaos cultist stood chanting some nefarious ritual,they were led by a psyker, who was marked by Nurgle and looked like death personified. They had clearly tortured the poor Ezekiah, he was hurt and emaciated as he hung there on the cross. The dark psyker or sorcerer for lack of a better description was evidently torturing him with psychic powers now, hurting Ezekiah’s soul now. The psychic screams were his and they were somehow fueling the ritual of the chaos cultists. There was a shimmering in the air and a feeling of static ran up Stefan’s spine, their ritual was close to completion, it looked like they were opening a portal to the warp, so they could unleash hellish creatures and daemons on the innocent.
Stefan thought, this must be Jobs cultists, the ones who got away from him, what better place to disappear, hide and perform such perverse unholy rituals without being found out! You should have stayed with us until the end, old fool, this would have been you’re one and only chance of glory.
On one side of the cultist stood what looked like a tech magos of Mars. Or rather he was
hovering carried two feet above ground by a bunch of mechanical tentacles in place of his legs. There was hardly anything human left of him, yet he was clad in a cloak of what looked like stitched together parts of human skin. Almost as if he missed his own humanity, or maybe he wore the difference between himself and humans as a badge of honor. “He must of the dark Mechanicum” Gralum sneered!
“This is not for you humans!” The dark magos yelled in a flat, synthetic voice from his vox caster. His voice was laced with static, yet just clear enough to be understood. “These data are for my master the Doctor! You can just forget all about it!”
Stefan had heard about the doctor; some insane old dark tech magos who tried to take over power and bring back Kelbor Hal and the martian civil war of the time of the Horus Heresy. He was said to have unleashed a sort of mechanical disease in hive city Numenon right here on Alfa Secundus! What was his name? Stefan thought Epsilon 1110101 It had been right there in front on him all along! There was an old worn out marking on the side of the katafron’s tank, it said E1110101!
Whatever caution Stefan had left was thrown overboard as he charged forward, firing his bolt pistol at the katafron and the magos. He screamed his fury at the katafron “You betrayer, you’ll get what is comming for you!!” He shouted at Gralum “You help me stop this thing and retrieve the data and the Inquisition will pay off whatever crime lord is after you!”
Gralum went forward as well, Bolter blazing!
I wonder if arch interrogator Cisnerro would be as free with the Inquisition’s coin as Stefan said, but that remains to be seen…They sped away as fast as they could, the katafron was damaged, but the tracks were still working and it tried to reach the table’s edge and escape with all its might. As a rule in the game, the katafron and the magos only had to cross the table’s edge to escape, they would then be out of sight, have the land in between and have made it into a small shuttle, be out of reach. They literally made it to the edge, but not across!
In a hail of bolt shells the katafron sped away as fast as its tracks could go, just before it reached safety it took a severe hit in one track unit and fell over, not making it! It too even more hits, got damaged pretty bad and lay prone loosing consciousness. The magos desperately tried to retrieve the memory coils and make his own escape with them, but he was shot to pieces as he tried to remove the coils from the downed katafron.
At this point everything seemed to happen at once, pandemonium broke out!
About the time that Stefan and Gralum saw Ezekiah on the cross and realized what was going on, the Hermit finished downloading his memory. With a scream of anguish and hate he found himself back in the world of moist and green solitude! Another scream of hatred for humanity, those he had selflessly helped out only to be almost killed and left for dead in a rotting world for his troubles!! These simple creatures never understood even the simplest notions of loyalty or logic, and of course had taken out all their misplaced anger on him. The full impact of his own change, the change of the world around him and the amount of time that had passed left him reeling for a moment. Then he realized where he was and the fact that some people were actually helping him solve the problem of the cultists and the horrible screaming of their prisoner!
As I had stolen Stefan’s henchmen from Lazar, to betray Stefan, I gave him control of the Hermit as a henchman instead… That worked out great as a gaming mechanism.
The Hermit was only armed with an old revolver, a puny weapon for such a battle as he suddenly found himself in. “I must be stupid without my memory” he thought bitterly. “My weapon attachments must be in the tower.” He started to run back to the tower. On his way back to the tower his thoughts cleared a little bit more “There is that turret on top of the tower with the big heavy plasma gun, I can control it all from my command throne inside, I hope I haven’t let it deteriorate too much when I was without my memory.” The Hermit sprinted as fast as he could back to the tower.
On the other side of the cultists stood a space marine! A foul creature of the Death guard, he was there as protection for the cultists. so they could continue undisturbed with their ritual even if someone would come and attack them. As the katafron chased by Stefan rounded the pillar, he realized what was going on and started to move up the enemy’s opposite flank in a bid to hit them from behind.
Tarn the ratskin sprinted back to protect Gralum, that was after all what he was hired to do. He did not realize that his nephew Rusty had range ahead on their right flank and moved directly into the path of the death guard!
When Rusty saw what was coming for him he dove for cover, hoping in vain that the space marine had not seen him. The Death Guard space marine just kept striding ahead! Rusty dared a peek over the ridge and the Death Guard shot at him with his bolter, fortunately the shots only landed in the ground, so he was only pinned.
Just then Ezekiah let out another of his psychic screams, everybody passed their nerve tests, but nor Rusty, he was stunned as the space marine got closer and closer. Rusty was just about to make a narrow escape when the space marine was upon him. Then he decided to take a dose of slaught instead! Influenced by the drug, Rusty attacked maniacally but only managed to make a few scratches in the paint of his armor!
Then the Death Guard attacked with his powerfist! At first Rusty managed to dodge and keep dodging the attacks, driving the space marine crazy with anger.
In the end Rusty ran out of luck and the Death Guard grabbed him with his powerfist! With a single powerful squeeze he crushed Rusty’s head and ended him!
At that moment Tarn looked over his shoulder and saw what happened. “Noooooo!” He shouted and started of towards the death guard. “Revenge, you killed my nephew!!” He screamed. Gralum hed to physically restrain him “Don’t do it he’ll only kill you too” He said.
The Death Guard kept marching around the pillar unperturbed. He did not see Tarn or Gralum as threats, only something to be removed later. He made for the tower into which the Hermit had fled.
The Hermit made it to the tower, dove inside and slammed the door! He rushed to his command throne and sat down, letting the cables and roots enfold him. The manifold started to work immediately and he gained vision through the lenses on the turret and the eyes of the outside servitors. He got feeling with the tower and started to walk forward and power up the plasma cannon on the turret. “Still working” he thought with a sigh of relief.
From the vantage of the eye lenses of the turret atop the walking tower, the Hermit could see most of the battlefield. He saw Rusty dodging the space marine’s attacks. He saw the cultists torturing the psyker and making him scream inside everyone’s heads. he started to walk forwards to get a good line of fire. The Hermit saw Stefan and Gralum shoot madly at the katafron and the dark magos eventually downing them. Tarn was with Gralum.
The cultists were desperately trying to finish their ritual. They looked like they were in a trance, not really noticing what happened around them. Their chanting reached a crescendo static flared light was coming up out of the charnel pit, the crucified psyker screamed both with his voice and in everybody’s heads. The portal started to open.
The Hermit fired a blast from his plasma canon.
He hit the sorcerer right in his midriff almost vaporizing him, he was instantly killed, those who stood closest to the sorcerer were also hit by the blast and severely wounded. The ritual was fouled. the cultists looked around numbly, started to fire their guns at Gralum, Stefan and Tarn, just as they started forward. The Hermit saw the space marine crush Rusty’s head then start towards him.
He turned and fired. The Death guard kept marching straight towards the tower and the Hermit. He hit the space marine in the head with a blast from his plasma cannon yet he kept coming!
When it dawned on the cultists that their ritual was fouled, their leader was dead, their dark tech helper was dead and their space marine bodyguard was nowhere in sight and a bunch of powerful representatives of the Inquisition was bearing sown on them ,they lost their nerve. The cultists turned tail and fled.
The Hermit fired and fired and fired his plasma cannon at the space marine who just kept striding purposefully towards the tower. In the end he hit the space marine in the head again and killed him. It was very close, if the Death Guard had made it inside, he would have torn the Hermit apart.
Then suddenly everything went quiet. Stefan and Gralum did not try t stop the cultists fleeing, they rushed to help Ezekiah down from the cross. The psyker was hurt bad, dehydrated and famished. He could not talk nor walk. They helped him, provided first aid and put him in some decent clothes after hanging half-naked on the cross.
They retrieved the memory coils from the katafron and the dark magos. Tarn came up to Gralum and presented him with the assassin’s sword. “I kept this for you master ’tis the blade that nearly killed you, maybe it can protect you in the future.”
Gralum was speechless “Thank you” he croaked.
Tarn went up to the dead space marine and spat at him. He bent down with the intention of getting a trophy from a real chaos space marine. When he looked closer and saw beneath the armor plates, he recoiled in discuss, the stench was overpowering, the mass of bloated and diseased flesh inside was just too much. Filled with disease, flies and mutations, Tarn vomited! “How could this thing even have been alive?” he sputtered once he had finished retching. “Such are the followers of Nurgle” Said Stefan
Tarn went over to Rusty’s body and continued grieving for his nephew.
Stefan of Meteora searched the bodies of the dead cultists. On the sorcerer he found an inquisitor’s rosette, “It could be Aurelius’ rosette, maybe this one have kept it as a trophy” With a shudder he looked into the charnel pit “That’s probably where Aurelius ended” he said with a sigh “we’ll never know, let’s get back to the city.
Ugg and Mamma Norma stood together and looked out over the lake as they so often did. “The water is not so foul anymore” said Mamma Norma “The wind has changed, it does not stink as much anymore, I think the big people did it” Ugg said with a smile. “It’s been a while since the screaming stopped, maybe there’s hope for us after all” said Mamma Norma.