Monday, 16 June 2014

Dark Heresy Campaign Journal Episode 0.3

...and Lemantz finds herself staring down the barrel of a las-pistol for the second time that night. 

A brief stand-off ensures, exacerbated by the presence of the "gangers" that have caused so much trouble that evening. However, the various bodyguards present quickly lower their weapons at a soft voiced command from a new arrival.

Boss Luntz walks into the bar from a back-room, still belting a night-robe around his ample frame. Despite the late hour and the unexpected nature of his guests, the plump bellied, hairless gang-boss seems entirely unruffled. He takes a seat in a corner booth and motions for his visitors to approach.

The half dozen or so bodyguards adopt relaxed postures, leaning against various walls, tables and even the bar itself. They're not fooling anyone though.

Luntz begins with some genial conversation, offering each of his guests a glass of amasec and staring with some mild interest at the near-catatonic girl in their company.

"If she's meant as a gift," he adds archly, " I prefer them a little livelier". 

They soon get down to business. Luntz mentions what a pleasure it is to finally receive a visit from Enforcer Lemantz, but he rather doubts that the "tight-assed" young Enforcer is here to solicit bribes. The group allow Lemantz to do the talking. She explains that she brought in a group of Bounty Hunters to help her investigate the disappearances when it became obvious that she couldn't rely on her superiors for help. She apologises for the earlier misunderstanding and realise now that she should have paid Boss Luntz a courtesy call to appraise him in advance. Luntz seems impressed, even going so far as to state he never would have believed that "tight-ass Lemantz" would have the balls, or the initiative, to do something as audacious as hire bounty hunters on her own. He doesn't ask where she got the funds, but he's clearly curious.

At this point, Zane steps in and adds that they have uncovered sufficient evidence to believe that it would be wise to call in "more guns". Luntz agrees they may be right and offers to let the group use his comm system if they do him a small favour: it seems that someone at the Alms House has been muscling in on his territory, selling drugs on his streets. He couldn't been seen to move against the Almshouse himself, since it keeps so many of "his" people fed, bu the characters......

The group try to persuade Luntz to let them use the comms first and investigate the alms house later. But then Cadence convinces the group to play their trump-card. At this, Cadence asks the guards to open to door as an associate is coming. The door is opened, and there stands Threnady, dragging a moving sack behind her.

When the group opens the sack to reveal what's been making the locals disappear, Luntz suddenly becomes much more co-operative. He lets the group use his connection to the hive data-net and moreover, he reveals that he was originally in partnership with the junk-dealer using the almshouse to distribute drugs.  Moreover, he suspects that his mysterious silent partner might have a hand in the disappearances, since they began shortly after Luntz concluded the deal. 

Luntz turns over his table and there, underneath, is a high-specced, highly illegal, military grade date-net terminal. Cadence rubs her hands with un Tech-Priest like glee and plugs herself in....
and screams almost immediately.

She manages to unplug herself before the scrap-code can take route, but she's hard to burn out the code hard-wired into several of her servos and sub-systems to do it. Luntz is angry to find out his system is completely corrupted, but horrified when Cadence explains that the corruption goes beyond that. The few nano-sections in which she was connected were enough to see that the whole district data-net, everything from the day/night sub-routines to the streetlights to the panic buttons scattered throughout the district and linked directly to the Precinct House are corrupted. In effect, the acolytes have no way to contact the rest of the hive.

They will to do this themselves. Shaken, Luntz agrees that if they can find proof of the Almhouse's involvement in the disappearances, he lead an assault on the place himself. The acolytes agree to his terms. Leaving Lilly behind, they set off in the direction of the almshouse, coming at it from the rear entrance.


As they approach, the acolytes finally notice something odd about the hab-block containing the Almshouse [They've been failing perception checks every time they look at the thing] Only the first three floors of the hab-block are showing any lights. All the other hab-blocks nearby have dozens of floors, with scattering of lights on in each, despite the late hour. Only this block does not. All of the floors above the third are completely dark. Not a single light. Cadence hazards a theory that something inside the hab-block is drawing away a great deal of power. No one disagrees or suggests an alternative theory. Grimoire tries to get psykers impression of the place, but from this distance he can tell little except that there are a number of living beings within the Almshouse block, but none above the third floor. This strikes the group as very ominous. Even with the decline in population since the plasma leak, there should be dozens, hundreds of life signs present within a building of that scale. Instead, there is nothing. As they creep down the alley at the rear of the building, Grimoire tries again and discovers a cold, empty place inside the buildings. Somewhere near the third floor, he thinks.

Cadence is unwilling to interface directly with the machine spirit's that reside within the lock of the loading bay door but manages to open it successfully the old fashioned way. They find themselves in a green-tiled room, mouldy and dank smelling, with kitchen utensils stacked neatly on shelves (each with a thin patina of grime) and a rack of three, deactivated kitchen servitors hanging from the ceiling. Blood splatters the walls and tables, but it's old blood. Dried to a dark, almost black, shade of brown. A number of walk in storage units line one wall. Freezers and pantries most likely. A brown, syrupy goo leaks from under one of the freezer doors. It's undeniably the source of the odour of decay that permeates that corner of the kitchen. A pair of light blue swinging doors with two circular windows leads out of the room, along with a dumbwaiter big enough for Zane or Ishatari (without the armour) if they were inclined to squeeze. Gunner and Zane quickly move to the swing doors and peer out into a large refectory hall. The lights in the hall -and those in the kitchen- are still one. But there is no sign of anyone home. Just beyond the refectory, the two Acolytes can make out a small reception desk at the front of the building, with a dividing staircase and a pair of elevators.

Cadence and Lemantz open the leaking freezer. Inside they find a chamber of horrors -dozens of transparent beakers and jars containing a foul smelling amber liquid with various body parts and technological augmentations suspended within. Gasping, they quickly close the door and announce that they appear to have found the missing persons.

A brief conversation ensues (although all the acolytes are careful to keep their voices down) in which a consensus is quickly reached: this is not sufficient evidence to go back to Luntz. For all they know, they've simply stumbled upon an illegal chop shop. No one wants to think about the implications of finding all these raw, dead meat in the kitchen of a Almshouse. But Cadence points out it's the only place they'd be able to find a big enough freezer nearby. The fact it's in an almshouse could be coincidence.

The acolytes creep quietly through the refectory hall and into the reception area. They notice keycard slots by the lifts and a small cogitator unit built into the reception desk, beside an automated lexograph unit for printing data onto hard-copy. Cadence is reluctant to interface with the cogitators machine spirit directly, but is able to access a number of files using the slower and less-sublime means of her meat-body. She uncovers a number of disturbing files including a complete change of personnel in the days leading up the to first disappearances and a virtual notification from Tantatlus dated 28 days earlier that food shipments would cease immediately and the almshouse would be closed. Only a skeletal "caretaker" staff would remain to prevent looting.

Unwisely, Cadence decides to print these files to hard-copy. The result is a rucus. The Lexography machine whirs to live with a loud, grating grinding noise. Cadence works quickly , failing to switch it off but the damage is done. Although the acolytes can hear nothing over the infernal noise, Threnady warns Cadence of an approaching energy signature. The acolytes scrabble for cover. When the perfectly formed muscular man, naked  but for a pair of briefs, stalks down the staircase and into the reception desk, several things about him stand out. Firstly, he is armed with a very expensive looking auto-pistol. Secondly, he clutches something indistinct in his left hand. Third, there is no way a normal human footfall should make the metal staircase shake like that.

At once, the acolytes open fire. The noise of the lexographer drowns out the sound gun-and las-fire, and the stranger is riddled with solid rounds and las-fire. Yet he does not go down. The acolytes can see the gleam of augments -expensive augments-beneath shredded skin. Without a sound, the stranger returns fire with startling accuracy. Zane is forced to duck back behind a door, fragments of shattered green tile erupting around him. A second round of fire finally manages to stagger the stranger, but it takes a third burst to finally put him down. Meanwhile, the lexographer goes about it's noisy work. Putting their faces close together over the body, the acolytes can just about have a conversation while Zane watches he staircase for any late arrivals.

Cadence is clearly impressed by the quality and expense of these augments. All the more so because of the cosmetic modifications made to them to keep them subtle. She identifies the dead man as having been outfitted with augments normally provided only to the highest ranking Skitarri bodyguards. After explaining that Skitarri are the Tech Priesthoods equivalent of the Imperial Guard, the others look suitably worried. They quickly loot the dead Skitarri's autopistol and the keycard from his left hand. 

Suddenly, the racket from the Lexographer rattles to a stop. Cadence briefly peers over at the layered sheafs of printed material, but takes no other action. Taking advantage of the silence, Grimoire again reaches out from the warp. He confirms that the "blank spot" is on the far side of the building, and on the third floor. He describes it as cold and empty. He also confirms the presence of two more life signs on the second floor. The party cautiously climbs the stairs to find themselves in a long hallways running the length of the buildings. Doors alternate left and right all the way along the corridor, which terminates at ether end with another door. Adopting a suitable formation, the acolytes move along the corridor towards the end beneath the psychic blank spot. The first few doors prove to be empty cells such as that occupied by menial staff. One, however, contains a still warm bed with the sheets thrown back. Searching the room, they find an empty gun case under the bed along with a suit of carapace armour and a few overalls in the locker.  The room is otherwise empty of personal possessions and contains nothing to hint at the personality of the occupant. They continue moving down the corridor.

As Zane reaches for the handle of the fourth door however, it opens.

Beyond stands a clone of the stranger killed below. Save that this stranger is fully armoured from neck to toe in black carapace armour. Before the stranger can act, Zane presses the barrel of his shotgun to the strangers head and gives him both barrels. Zane (and the room) are splattered with gore, brains and splinters of metal. [No point rolling to hit or damage. Given the close proximity, the advantage of surprise and the two shotgun blasts to the head from an inch and a half away, the guy was dead. Skitarri or not.]

The noise of the gun-fire triggers the opening of the door terminating this end of the corridor however, and two of the tracked Servitors race out and into melee with the group. Sister Sihtari goes down, hard [negative wounds] and is quickly followed by Gunner. Zane drops his empty shotgun and starts pouring autopistol file into the Servitor nearest him while Lementz gamely tends on the second servitor with her nightstick. Grimoire pulls the unconscious Gunner out of the melee and uses his psychic healing. The ganger quickly regains consciousness and starts blasting at the Servitors with his pistols from the floor. Zane fines a soft spot in the Servitors skull with his autopistol while Gunner and Lementz tear the second apart.

Grimoire is silently debating whether or not to risk Ishtari's wrath by healing her without permission when the door at the other end of the corridor opens behind them.

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