'The weak will always be led by the strong. Where the strong see purpose and act, the weak follow; where the strong cry out against fate, the weak bow their heads and succumb. There are many who are weak; and many are their temptations. Despise the weak for they shall flock to the call of the Daemon and the Renegade. Pity them not and scorn their cries of innocence - it is better that one hundred innocently fall before the wrath of the Emperor than one kneels before the Daemon. - The First Book of Indoctinations
The Arvus Lighter shakes from a patch of turbulence as it rumbles through the night sky. In the distance can be seen a constant steam of flashes and occasionally the rumble of ordinance can be heard above the noise of the ships engines. The interior is cramped and relatively uncomfortable, though accommodations had been made to make it more comfortable for the warriors who had left the front lines and answered the Inquisitor's call.
Soon those who had chosen to stay near the small windows on the craft could see the that the vessel was approaching the ruins of a city, broken and abandoned only recently in war. Soon the Arvus passed over the outskirts of the ruins and made for a square near the center where the only lights left the city were visible, marking out a landing site.
Standing near the landing site are a pair of individuals, one clad in power armor painted only in black, white, and shades of grey. The other wearing the rust red of the Adeptus Mechanicus. As the craft begins its approach for landing a light snowfall begins. Soon more details of the square are visible, many of the buildings looking burned or shelled. Only one has any light, the one nearest to where the pair are standing.
The snow fall thickens as the craft lands noisely. As the doors open the pilot calls back "Alright, everybody out! I've got a few more trips to make for the Inquisitor and it looks like he's already waiting for you. Good Luck!"
"Wha- din' nab it, was my cuz's I swear-" Says Kaylock, waking up with a start as the boarding aperture yawns open with a blast of frigid air.
The voidborn had somehow managed to doze off mid-transit, his flak jacket serving as a makeshift pillow. He stumbled out, his balled-up garment in one hand, rubbing the sleep out of his slightly oversized eyes with the other. Dressed only in light fatigues and a gun belt, without his jacket Kaylock was practically naked from the waist up, his lanky, almost stretched form corded with wiry muscle and patterned with a seemingly endless number of tattoos. Underdressed as he was the pervasive cold hardly bothered him; Fleet Remora hadn't been known for its onboard temperature control.
"Your high holiness," He muttered at the bulky blur he assumed was the Inquisitor, blearily taking in his surroundings. "'Pologies, think I slept through th' war."
After him, a woman left the Arvus. In stark contrast to him, she was somewhat short or rather, petite, with skin tanned by the sun and dark brown hair kept only slightly longer than the brutally short style common in most Astra Militarum regiments.
Under a scaly coat that seemed to change color ever so slightly, she wore simple, smoothly shaped flak armor in urban camouflage, a long curved knife on her left and a LasPistol on her right hip. Over her shoulder, she carried a LongLas, featuring a wooden stock just like the pistol.
"Corporal Fel Bando, reporting ready for duty, Sir", she said and saluted crisply once she stood in front of the Inquisitor and the cogboy.
Striding out of the Arvus Lighter came an Astartes bearing the heraldry of the Omega Knights Chapter of the Adeptus Astartes, a Chapter of Astartes helping fight off the Ork invasion in this Sector. Slung over his back was a Combi-Melta with an attached grenade launcher mounted on its side. On his his right leg he had a standard Bolt Pistol in a black-grey leather holster, and on his left leg he had a standard "Hell's Teeth" Chainsword in its scabbard.
His chestplate was unique as it had a gorget on it, usually reserved for Sergeants or Veterans. On the sides of it he had multiple pouches with spare Boltgun shells and supplies, as well as some additional magazines/melta cannisters, supplies, and grenades on his waist.
After taking up his position next to the Guardswoman and Voidborn, the Space Marine made the sign of the aquila to the Inquisitor before adopting a more casual stance. "Battle-Brother Waycrest of the Omega Knights 5th Company, reporting, Inquisitor." As he said this, he made a quick glance towards the other members of the retinue, before returning his attention to the Inquisitor and Tech-Priest.
Shoto was last one to walk out of Arvus Lighter, standing still for a moment taking in his surroundings as he took a deep breath.
He took this moment also to strech his neck and his arms, his tatoos clearly visable in his sleevless Armour.
He then walked over to the others, taking his place next to the Space Marine, not the first time he saw one but never one so up close.
Turning his gaze towards Inquisitor
"Shoto Kirigawa, at your service." Said Shoto as he adopted more casual stance.
The Inquisitor passed his gaze over the assembled group, lingering briefly at Waycrest. After about twenty seconds of the silence he spoke. "Welcome," he said in a calm voice, with only a hint of accent. "We will discuss the purpose I have gathered you more inside. In the meantime," the Inquisitor somehow snapped his fingers with power armor on and the Techpriest stepped aside and pulled up a cart he had been standing in front of. "Please leave you armaments with my tech-priest. He will examine them to ensure they are at full functionality." With that, the Inquisitor turned on his heel and walked towards the building with lights on, hardly making a sound in the gathering snow.
With obvious reluctance and apparent distrust towards the cogboy, Fel plucked the power packs from her weapons, first the Laspistol and then the unslung LongLas. She placed both of them, along with the spare power packs on the small cart. With a last measuring glance, she followed after the Inquisitor through the swirling snow.
Silently, she sent a prayer to the Emperor that the cogboy would have the common sense to leave the adjustments she made to the rifle well alone. After years with the weapon, she had it bit by bit attuned to her use in many ways that marginally but decisively improved her own performance with it.
Shoto wasn't so enthusiastic as he took of his Shotgun and Laspistols and slowly walked towards the Techpriest. He placed them in front of the Techpriest, and with that he took a serious glance at him and spoke, "Take good care of them."
He then started walking and followed the Inquisitor just few steps behind Fel, and as the snow swirled around him, "I hope he knows what's he is doing and dosen't go and break my adjustments." thought Shoto to himself.
Kaylock grinned, unclasping his ammo belt and dangling it in front of the Techpriest, charge-packs clustered along its length like fruit on a bough. Holstered was one almost obscenely large hellpistol, its boxy frame knotted with exposed cabling.
"Her name's Seneca," He drawled. "You two play nice, eh? Ave Deus Mechanicus an' all that..." An electtoo of a Cog-and-Skull flared to life briefly on his scrawny chest.
Not waiting for a reply, the voidborn placed the belt on the tray and swaggered off towards the Inquisitor, his jacket still tucked under one arm, his other pistol hidden within its folds...
Waycrest watched as the others approached the Techpriest, and one by one deposited their weapons with him. Somewhat reluctant to hand over his weaponry to an Adept of the Mechanicus that was not a Techmarine, Waycrest finally gave in when he remmebered he was here under the orders of his Captain.
Approaching the Adept and the cart, he stopped infront of him and gave him a long stare through his helm. After a few seconds that seemed like an eternity, he unslung his Combi-Melta nd deposited it in the cart, alongside his Bolt Pistol and Combat Blade. After this he deposited any other ordnance he had on him.
However there was one weapon he would not handover, and that was his Chainsword, each one given to an Omega Knight when he is a Neophyte, to serve him until he dies. His weapon was personally blessed by the Company Chaplain and Company Techmarine, Brothers Umbra and Markous, so as to ensure it does not fail him in this mission.
Parting with this weapon was not an option to the Astartes, and he made it clear when he deliberately stepped away and re-joined the retinue and looked at the Inquisitor, staring through the blue eyes of the helm, his hand on the pommel of the Chainsword, as if daring the Inquisitor to say something.
If the Inquisitor noticed Waycrest retaining his chainsword, he made no sign. Motioning to follow without looking back, the Inquisitor pulled open the large double doors to the building. Silhouetted against the light coming from the building were a pair of sentry guns flanking the path behind the doors. Following the Inquisitor into the building, the warriors could hear faint noises from behind them as the Tech-priest examined the weapons from every angle. Fortunately he seemed to have been told to avoid disassembling the guns and merely examined them with a number of lenses and tested the firing mechanisms.
Inside they found themselves in a large hall of what was apparently once a chapel of some sort. Scattered throughout the chamber was various piles of machinery, the only recognisable machines being a powerful vox caster and a generator in the center. Lighting the chamber were only a few groupings of candles and the machines themselves casting only a dim light and hiding most of the chamber. Only Waycrest with the nightvision from his helmet could see the entire room. In the far corner he could see two or three people moving around a table near what looked like a large mass of metal.
The Inquisitor moved around a large table covered with various papers and parchments. Looking at the group from across it the Inquisitor began to address them. "Let's see, your names are I believe, Kaylock, Waycrest, Shoto, and Fel brando." Without waiting for an answer he continued, "you've come here either because your the best, you're what your chapter could spare, or in one case because you didn't have much choice." With that last comment he looked at Kaylock with meaning, then continuing to look, reached up and pressed a button on the side of his helmet. After a second he spoke again, "While I may respect the care a space marine has for his weapon, you have no such honor Kaylock. Place your other pistol on the tray as well, you're on thin ice already." He said pointing at the Tech-priest's cart, just behind them.
Kaylock's smile widened by a few molars. He unfurled his jacket to reveal a second pistol, this one smaller and more compact but sharing the same ramshackle design as the first. Gingerly he set it down next to his other firearm.
"Most sincerest 'pologies yer holiness, ol' habit," He replied, sounding more mischievous than guilty. "Callista's me favorite, ne'er hit the hull without 'er."
Finally shrugging on his flakweave garment, Kaylock cast a lingering eye over assembled arsenal on the tray.
"Good kit, prime, in fact. Any you gentlefolk sellin'?" Several pairs of eyes stared daggers at the voidborn. "No? Slaggin' pity that..."
'Great', Bando thought to herself after watching the brief exchange between the plank and the Inquisitor. Like most soldiers, she had some experience at masking her thoughts in the presence of superior officers and while technically not an officer, there were few people who were above the members of the Inquisition in terms of superiority. 'At least we discovered the frak-head early.'
"It's Bando, Sir", was what Fel said out loud however, as the Inquisitor mistook her name.
Feeling it was out of her authority, and that the Inquisitor would probably do so if he saw fit anyway, she refrained from suggesting to shoot the Voider on the spot. If push came to shove and he'd become a liability...well. Cases of friendly fire happened, unfortunate as they were.
The Tech-priest took the pistol and gave it the same quick look over as the other weapons, before setting them down and turing to the Inqusitor. "You were right Inquisitor," he spoke, his voice clear, but with a hint of unnatural vibrations in it. "The Astartes weapon is excellently maintained with the same kind of fierce machine spirit that inhabits many of their weapons. The Guardsmen weapons show signs of much induvidual personailzation as well as full fuctionality, and the salavager..." A strong hint of distaste entered the Tech-priest's voice, like a guardsman having to eat rations that went bad upwards of a week before. "Well, they will function."
The Inquisitor nodded, "good, that personalization tells me that you must have suvived several battles prior to this so you may have the experiance I'm looking for," he said to Shoto and Fel Bando. "Let me catch you up to speed on what's happening on this planet." He pulled up what looked like a cheap globe of the planet and put it up on the table. "Kadjah, part industrial world, part agri world. Fairly self sufficent, pays tithes in form of recruits for local battlefleet and manufactoring household appliances or something. About a month and a half ago a Ork WAAAGH entered the sector and a spliter of it, rival warlord or something, came here. After three weeks of fighting the planet's defense force, Imperial guard showed up and beat them before most left to join the forces fighting the main horde. Only two regiments remain on world to burn out the remains of the Orks to prevent them from returning, an armored and heavy infantry."
He shifted around the papers on the desk and pulled up one that showed a section of the planet with 3 citites as well as a small town to the south. "We are here," he said pointing to the town. "This place got wrecked by the Orks, the remains of the horde as well as the guard forces are further to the south. The citites to the north are where the PDF held off the Horde to Imperial guard forces arrived. The western and eastern ctites are currently experiancing a large amount of civil unrest, riots and the like. The central city started to do the same before suddenly stopping." The central city was a good deal smaller than the other two cities, with the map listing that it had a population of 300,000.
The Inquisitor reached into the robe he had over his power armor. "Now none of this would be too suspicious or alarming if not for, this." He drew out a pair of items from his robe which he placed on the table. One was an artist's depiction of the upper half of an Astartes with blue armor adorned with a green hydra, the second was a blurry pict cap of what looked like a indistict blue figure. "A member of the traitor Alpha Legion. That pict cap is from the planet's main port city. I've been chasing him for nearly three solar years now, and I can tell through various diviantion means that he has not left the planet. Once you realize a Alpha Legionary is here a lot of things suddenly make sense. How did a planetary defense force fight off a Ork Horde for three weeks? He was co-ordinating them. Why would the riots break out in these cities and yet stop so suddenly in the other? He's using them as a distraction." The Inquisitor took another map, this of a city and spread it out on the table. "Your mission, what?" He put his hand up to his helmet. "Yes alright, I'll be right over." He looked up at the group, "my apologies, I'm needed away for a second. In the mean time, I suggest you familiarize yourselves with that map, Its where I'm sending you."
As he moved away, the Tech-priest moved up with the cart. "I've finished with my inspection, you may retrive your weapons, or whatever you call these things," he said giving a look of mild disgust to Kaylock. The group could see that while the tech-priest's face was clear of augments, there appeared to be metal on his neck over his trachea. Pehaps internal filtering. "I must say, you're the first group we've had through here with an Astartes. You're probably the one the Inquisitor expects to succeed."
Bando quickly went over and took her weapons back with almost inappropriate haste. Snapping power packs into both the Rifle and the Pistol, a faint, low hum could be heard as the power surged through the weapons' circuits. After a brief check, she noted that the sights were still tuned how she left them and her opinion of the cogboy improved considerably.
With the rifle slung over her shoulder and the pistol in the holster, Bando returned to the table and considered the map. Entering and leaving roads, train lines, water ways, shuttle pads, open plazas, dead ends and last but not least towers and vantage points.
While doing so, she occasionally shot glances at the Astartes. She had never seen one in her life, but the hulking armor and massive Bolter were matching the stories she had heard perfectly, if not exceeding them. If the same could be said about their legendary combat abilities, Fel wondered if the rest of the squad would even be necessary at all.
Kaylock retrieved his pistols and belt, cradling his firearms to his chest like a pair of newborns.
"He dinna mean it starshine, yer prime kit, now an' always." He whispered, before spinning both weapons with practiced ease into their respective holsters.
Sitting on the edge of the table, Kaylock took in his new "companions", such as they were. The contempt, bordering on hostility really, was nothing new; he'd been spending more time than he was comfortable with turfside lately and everyone down here seemed to have a driveshaft up their collective rear. Always so touchy about personal space, tone, possessions, and all that, the spoiled sods. As if they would ever last a day deckside with an attitude like that.
Take the Mamzel Bando: a stiff-necked Guard ramrod and no mistake. Easy on the eyes though, in an exotic, dusky sort of way.
The Space Marine was... big. Really big. Was it just the armor or was there an Ogryn-sized turfer under that helmet? Kaylock ran his oversized eyes over the curves and contours of the powered plate appreciatively. Stars and slag, if he could just get his hands on a pauldron he could pawn it off for a new freighter, easy.
The quiet one, Shoto Kiri-something? Kaylock didn't know what to make of him. He was inked, which was good: a man with no ink was a man with no history. That stare though. Same glass-dead eyes as those Darkholders from Fleet Lamprey, like they were planning to strip you for spare parts.
Well, like Pa used to say, Kaylock mused. Hold an' prospects stay bare 'less you put something innit. He glanced at the map, shaking his marble-smooth head despairingly. Turfer schematics never made much sense: how did they expect to get anywhere with that much open space?
He looked over to the Guardswomen pouring over the documents. "'Pose you ground-pounders prime-versed in strategems an' all that," He inquired. "You makin' stern-to-tails outta this?"
After a moment of confused staring, Kaylock sighed and reiterated, slowly.
"Do. You. Understand. This?" He gestured at the maps. "I. Do. Not."
Shoto walked up to the cart taking his weapons back, first checking the aim on his pistols before holstering them. He did the same with his Shotgun before putting to his back.
He then walked up to the tabel where the maps and documents were, and started closly inspecting it, every posible routes roads and anything that might be usefull to them.
In his toughts he ponderd on their target "An Alpha Legionare ehh, well thats a first time i'm hunting one. Thats ought to be intreasting."
"We should bring this map or a copy of it with us, it should br very usable to us." Said Shoto as he glanced over his teammates.
He stopped his glance on Kaylock as he asked his question
"Well there is ceartanly lot to intake here, but i got most of it now in my head, it shows the routes roads and other important things like enterances, sewers and so on that we can use to get to our target." Said Shoto still looking at Kaylock.
He then ponderd a bit more over the maps and documents
"But hunting a Alpha Legionare wont be an easy task that i know much. If the storys are true then we have quite a force to reckon with." Said Shoto still looking through the maps.
"Then you know much more than I do", said Bando as she turned towards Shoto. The giant seemed much more competent and oddly knowledgeable. Not to say much more approachable than the hulking Space Marine.
"What is this 'Alpha Legion'? I figure it is a sort of...traitorous Space Marine?" A concept that some of her more zealous comrades would have outright dismissed as heretical thinking. Followed by denouncing anyone spreading it to the nearest Commissar or the regimental priest.
"Well i know is from the storys and talks, i've never met one or fought personally. But as a bounty hunter i've heard a lot of storys talks and such things. From what i know they are just as tough, strong and resilient as our friend here. But there is a catch, they are bad guys, or as you say traitors. And that makes them even more dangerous in my book. Atleast that's the info i got from all the things i've heard through my job." Said Shoto as his gaze moved from the map to Brando.
"But maybe, Waycrest can tell us more if he is willing to ofcourse." Said Shoto as he looked in the direction of Waycrest, keeping his serious attitude and look.
"I hope i pronunced your name right." Said Shoto at the end.
Waycrest watched the exchange between the Inquisitor, Voidborn, and Tech Adept with amusement, though to the others it looked as if he was just staring at them impassively with those blue lenses of his.
He always enjoyed the presence of normal Humans, finding them to be much better socially than his fellow Astartes, Waycrest being abit more Human compared to the others in terms of emotion. He was impressed the Inquisitor found out baout th concealed weapon, something hidden to even Waycrest if it were not for his internal sensors detecting it.
After his weapon was given over to the Techpriest and giving a small nod to the Adepts appreciation of his weapon, Waycrest listened to the Inquisitors debriefing of the situation at hand. It seemed similar to the situation with the Orkz they dealt with at the Feudal World they liberated before coming here, however his eyes narrowed and his body tensed when he saw the pict of the Traitor Astartes, a touchy and very personal subject for him.
He stared at the pict while paying only mild attention to the rest of what the Inquisitor said, hatred burning in his eyes at the sight of such a traitor to the Emperor and the Imperium. He studied this foe and promised he would be laid low by his blade, giving his Chainsword a soft pat on the pommel.
When the Inquistor was interrupted and had to leave, Waycrest had retrived his gear and returned it all to its right ful places on his person, strapping his Combi-Melta to his back again and re-holstering his Bolt Pistol, making sure both were loaded.
"Me being an Astartes has nothing to do with it, Tech Adept. If the retinue is competent, skillful, and has faith in the Empeor and themselves, then success will be not far behind." Waycrest told the Tech Adept after him mentioning that his presence would increase the chances of success, though he did agree with it slightly as an Astartes was much more efficient at this than a nomal Human.
He then stood to the side studying the map himself and commiting it to memory as well as his helmets databank, all while listening to the others discuss the map themselves. He noticed the occasional glances shot his way, but brushed it off as them never seeing an Astartes up close before, and simply admiring him and his armour.
After hearing the question addressed to him, Waycrest turned to the other three individuals in the retinue as they all stared at him.
"Yes, Bounty Hunter, you did get my name correct. As for the Alpha Legion... they were one of the original eighteen Space Marine Legions back during the Great Crusade. When Horus Lupercal and his fellows betrayed the Imperium during the Horus Heresy, the Alpha Legion were one of the nine Legions that followed him, eventually splitting into multiple warbands following the end of the Horus Heresy like many of the others, continuing to plauge the Imperium to this day.
They are a very dangerous foe, masters of stealth, deception, confusion, chaos, sabotage, assassination, and mayhem. They rule the shadows and are said to be able to infiltrate any fortification and lay its defenders low with words alone. Even without their deception, they are as strong as any other Astartes, and just as deadly and intelligent.
They are not to be trifled with or underestimated in any way at all, as doing such a thing would lead to your death. Normally this is information not disclosed openly to those who do not need such information, but from my point of view, you would need such information to comprehend the foe we face." Said Waycrest, as he explained what the Alpha Legion was to his fellows, waiting to hear their response as he studied each and every one of them and their responses.
"Does this answer your question?" Glancing in the Bounty Hunters direction as he said it.
The map on the table is covered in notes taken, presumably by the Inquisitor. It notes that the city started life as a mining town though the mines are empty now. They had been in the process of converting the mines into a emergency shelter when there were multiple 'industrial accedents' only a day or two after the Inqusitor predicted the Alpha Legionare arrived and are now closed due to unspecified hostile wild life. Also on the map are a pair of red X's, one near the mine, one in alleys near the city hall.
"That was a fairly good explanation," the Tech-priest cut in. "I don't know how much faith will help though. It doesn't seem to have been all to useful to the past 15 groups." Looking around at the various expressions, the Tech-priest quickly clarified. "I don't mean to say all the other groups died or anything. Technicallly you're only the third group to be sent to this city. Most of the others went to either the other two cities, or are watching the planets ports. So far five have stopped reporting; two at the port city, one at the western city, and the two sent to the one you're going to."
"I think I can continue the debriefing thank you," the Inquisitor suddenly spoke, making everyone jump or flinch. Nobody had heard or seen him approach, he was just suddenly there. The Tech-priest nodded and moved off with his cart towards the corner where the others were. When Waycrest looked, he saw to his suprise that what he had taken for a mound of metal or machinery was moving. It was large enough to be either a Astartes, or maybe an armored Ogryn? It was too dim and there were too many things in the way to make out details.
The Inquisitor moved back to his position at the other side of the table. "As Nicolas was telling you, you are the thrid group I'm sending out to this city," he said. "Due to the reports I've recived from the other groups I'm certain this is where your target is hiding." He pointed with his index and middle finger at both the city hall and mines. "You may have noticed my notes on the timing of it all being all to suspicious. The City hall is the most central location in the city, but the mines are the most defensive. I would bet anything he is in either one, or might even have had a tunnel dug between them." He pointed again, this time at the red X's. "These are dead drop locations where the other groups hid all their findings before going on dangerous investigations. Part of your job will be retrieving their contents, they should prove most useful."
The Inquisitor looked up at the group and, to their suprise, took off his helmet. His head and face were astonishingly colorless, with his hair being the darkest shade of black you've ever seen, and his face the palest white. Only his eyes held any color, a dark gold. "The groups I sent before you were sent purely to gather intelligence," he spoke with a sigh. "You are going to act as a kill team of sorts. To be frank, if there was not a Space Marine among you I wouldn't dare send this mission. Against a traitor Astartes I would hesitate fighting even with my full retinue. Your mission in essancce boils down to finding where he's hiding, telling me where that is, and then helping Waycrest here kill him." He looked around at the human members of the team. "Much of this mission will require infiltrating this city and not drawing too much attention. That's what you are here for, even with a disguise Waycrest's sheer size will be enough to draw attention, though fortunetly there is a Ogryn population that had been brought in to help in the mines, so someone of his size isn't completely out of the ordinary."
Stepping away from the table, the Inquisitor moved over to a smaller table covered by a while cloth hiding whats beneath. seizing one end of the cloth, the Inquisitor removed it, revealing a large amount of food and bottles of drinks of varing kind, as well as some Vox beads at one end of the table. "You leave in half an hour. You'll find a truck parked out front, my Interrogator will drive and will operate the vox equipment installed in it. He'll be the one to report back to me. Until then, feel free to eat and drink, though be sure to save some for later. This is probably better fare than what you'll find in the city, there are bags under the table to hold anything you want to take. If you don't have any means of voxing already, feel free to take a vox bead." With that the Inquisitor himself took a plate and loaded it up before going to a nearby chair at an empty table and sitting down and started eating.
"Yes it doese Waycrest more then enough, and i think Brando's question also. And Waycrest i appreciate your explanation, even tough we probably weren't suppoused to know all that." said Shoto as he took in and processed all the new informations.
Flinching for a moment as the Inquisitor arrived again, he listend closely to what he said. In his mind he knew this is ways off from being a simple task, but that excited him also since he never had such a target before.
"So basically we are going into the beast's lair, to hunt the hunter. With those group missing i think we may also assume that he knows we are on his tracks, and that security mesures will be even more tougher. Since they are masters of stealth and other underhanded tactics we should be very catious and on alert at any moment." said Shoto as he walked to the table with food, taking a backpack and started filling it with food and drinks.
After filling the backpack with food assuring that it isn't to heavy or to difficult to carry, he then first took one of the Vox beads and place it so he can hear it good.
He then turned around taking some of the food and drink, moving to the side of the table so other can also take their share.
"Since they are so good at deception maybe we should also have some code or a mark or something like that so we can always recognise ourself even in some chaotic situation. Personally i don't want to end up dead with knife in my back or a bullet just because i couldn't recognise some of my teammates." said Shoto as he was eating slowly.
"It's Bando. Bando. No 'r'.", said Fel as her name was mispronounced once more. Secretly, she was fairly impressed by the Inqusitor's ability to sneak up on them in full power armor. However, her attention quickly shifted when the food was revealed and following the unofficial guard doctrine of 'eat whenever possible', she began to do just that.
"If I may say something, Sir", the sniper spoke up towards the Inquisitor between two bites. "I believe Brother Waycrest would ruin any attempt of going in unrevealed. Ogryn's are one thing, but Astartes...we'd stick out like a recruit with polished bayonet within minutes. Unless you have a plan to hide the armor and everything else."
Taking a comm-bead, the one she had used in service was technically property of the Munitorum and taking it might have netted Fel a tea session with the Commissar, she turned her attention to the bags next. Searching through their contents, Fel gave Shoto an acknowledging nod and followed his example of packing additional food, all the while still eating with fast, small bites, the manner of someone used to take their meals without the luxury of time or safety to savor them.
"Actually, he doesn't know I sent the others," The Inquisitor said. "The men I sent there were drawn from the planet and system administration. I even had them carry papers that said they were there on orders from system command." The Inquisitor set his plate aside as he finished eating what was on it. "As for the code, if you want one for local communications, go ahead. My Interogator and I already have one established for long range communications."
Standing up he replaced his helmet before turing to face Waycrest. "As for him, the back of the truck is covered and quite roomy. Also it is the cold season and ideally you'll mostly be operating at night when there aren't many people out. I've taken the liberty of having a cloak made that would even cover Waycrest in full power armor, and even Ogryn are smart enough to wear such things in the cold. Again, not exactly common place, but something." He turned to face the others. "Any more questions?"
Waycrest studied the new map and listened to his objectives, specifically the part about him masquerading as an Ogryn, before he removed his helmet, placing it to the side as he attached a vox-bead as a backup, he then re-equipped his helm.
"Three questions, Inquisitor. First, will the vehicle be large enough to accommodate the entire team? Second is this Traitor working alone, or does he have a warband with him? and Lastly, would it not be more prudent to call in more forces to deal with this matter? If it is truly a Heretic Astartes we are dealing with, then a larger force may be more successful than a small team." Waycrest said to the Inquisitor.
"Yes, it is," the Inquisitor said. "Second, as I said, I've been tracking him for nearly three years now so I'm quite sure that he is working alone, like many of the Alpha Legion. As for dealing with him with sheer force..." The Inquisitor stood up, he was tall but still at least half a foot shorter than Waycrest. "Don't you think that has been tried before? Every time in the past century my Ordo has been hunting him that I or some one else has tried that he has somehow managed to slip through our fingers. The problem with large armies is that they are quite slow and obvious. I couldn't get enough forces there fast enough."
Right, 'cause a turfside Decker, a Space Marine, a ramrod, and whatever-the-frak Shoto is just th' spittin' image of "inconspicuous", though Kaylock. He might have even stated his opinion out loud, had he not been focused on shoveling as much food as humanly possible into his gullet.
It was good grub, a far cry from the reclaimed proteins and metallic-tasting grains typically served in the Remora mess. That was one of the few upsides of hanging around turfers; a great many of them knew how to cook.
He took a vox-bead, and, after a moments consideration, took several surplus beads as well. Commtech typically was considered good salvage for the microcircuitry, electroconductive alloys also, which were useful in a pinch. Given that this was Inquisition kit, it was probably top-notch at that. Useful, especially where they were going.
Kaylock also selected the largest and most alcoholic of the beverages presented and, after a quick swig, secreted the bottle into his flakcoat. It wasn't Phage Rotgut, but it would do. Sometimes all the kit in the galaxy was no replacement for a well-placed firebomb.
"So, nab th' dead-thingies, slag th' Alpha-whatsit, pat on th' back fer a prime job an' back 'fore breakin' fast," The Voidborn declared. "Not so stark. Stars, I'va had Repo jobs more frakked than this."
As the Inquisitor answered the others, a sudden concern struck Bando. Still chewing, she turned towards the disciple of Omnissiah.
"Co-, I mean Tech-Priest. Since we are up against an Astartes, do you considers this", this referring to her Long-Las, which she patted to convey the meaning "sufficient? It blows the head off most things rather nicely, but I haven't tested it against a Space Marine."
It would be a shame to line up the perfect shot and then find out that it had been futile from the start.
The Tech-priest considered the weapon. "To be honest," he said, "I'm not sure, though from experiance maintaining the Inquisitor's own power armor, I don't know if it would penetrate most areas of the armor. I would aim for either head or joints, but really you should leave killing the Alpha Legionaire to the other Astartes." He told her pointing at Waycrest.
"Your Las weapon will only penetrate the soft joints of his armour and the eye lenses on his helm. Nothing short of repeated high-powered Las shots or special weaponry such as Plasma guns or Bolters will fully penetrate Power Armour, so pray that you can make your shot count." Waycrest said to the Guardswoman, staring at her weapon as he did so, before turning back to the map and going over the details again.
If they did come to the blows with the Traitor Astartes, and Wayccrest was not able to deal with him, then the others would have to count on explosives, heavy weaponry, or some extremely lucky shots.
"I didn't plan to take him on by myself. But it never hurts to know your options in advance." Not that she had planned to ever get into the sights with the Traitor Marine, unless it was from about a click away, through her scope and preferably from inside a bunker. Stories might just be stories, but any guardsmen either learned to take them serious or never got to tell any themselves. And these stories didn't paint a too optimistic picture of engaging Astartes with anything short of tank or artillery support.
The Inquisitor looked up at a large clock hanging on the wall. "Time for you to move out," he told them. "My Interrogator just voxed me that the truck is ready. You may take the map of the city, as well as the pictures of your target and anything else you may want from these two tables," he said, gesturing at the table covered in papers, as well as the table now laden with significatly less food. "You will find the truck out where you were dropped off," the Inquisitor pointed towards the door. "Oh and one other thing," he said, almost as an after thought. "You will find in the truck three boxes marked in blue, red, and yellow. The red box contains some ammo for bolters as well as two frag and krak grenades, the blue box has a portable charger for las gun powerpacks. Be sparing with both of those boxes as they will be all you will get unless you find more. Don't open the yellow box until you confirm the presence of the traitor." As he said this last part he looked over at Kaylock.
Turning to look at the full group he finished simply, "that is all. Now get moving, I want you there before dawn."
Now Kaylock really wanted to know what was in the box.
"Slaggin' love gratis work," He said, walking out towards the entrance, smile still present in his voice, though this time with an edge of exasperation.
The voidborn knew why he was here, just like he knew that the Inquisitor hadn't kept him around for his witty banter. Even if they managed to lop the head off of this particular problem, chances were he'd just be sent into the teeth of another Archenemy plot, and another, and another, until he either expired or outlived his usefulness. If he could just get off this damn mudball maybe he could link up with another Astrophage fleet, lay low in the black for a while. A warzone wasn't ideal but any Repo worth his clansigns could make a cent out of scrap.
That meant he'd eventually have to ditch the others, the poor sods. Kaylock was fairly certain he might be the only one in the Inqusitor's little coterie that had the slightest clue what they might actually be going up against. Throne, he'd seen frakking daemons up close. This plank wasn't keen on a second encounter.
He didn't bare them any ill will, really, but if it came down to them or him... Kaylock wasn't about to let Remora Fleet die with him.
Order to move out. Strange how this familiar feeling worked to calm her down even in this strangest of situations. Leaving the others to their own pace, Bando briefly saluted to the Inquisitor before heading outside again.
Finding the truck where it was supposed to be, she climbed into the back, leaving about one seat worth of space between herself and the hatch. Far enough to not suffer from stray fire, close enough to jump out should the truck get hit.
Thinking about it, she found the supplies rather meager, given what they were up against. An autocannon or two would have been nice.
While others discussed about theire mission and target, Shoto was running analysis on the info he got in his head, trying to figure out best courses of action in certain situations, and also how to best take their target out when they encounter him.
After the order to move out, he silently left the building and got into the truck, positioning him self so he can act quickly in case of emergency.
As the others were leaving, Waycrest commited the information both to memory and his armours internal databanks, he then double-checked his weapons before striding out to follow his fellows, looking to see what exactly that giant mound from before was but failed to see it again before he exited the building.
He then followed the retinue into the vehicle, taking up a seat close to the hatch, both to be ready to rush the enemy head on if they were engaged, and to better protect his fellows with his armour as theyw ere more vulnerable to small-arms fire than he was.
Waycrest felt some slight excitement at this mission. Despite longing to be with his Company fighting against the Orkz, Waycrest knew this mission was just as important, and that the Captain himself would be pleased with his success. Waycrest would not fail this mission, he would not fail the Inquisitor, he would not fail his Chapter, and he would not fail the Emperor.
As he finished his thoughts, Waycrest sat back and silently awaited the mission to begin, all while wondering what exactly that mound could have been...
The Truck proved to be massive vehicle, larger than a Chimera with a ladder to get into the cargo bay and with the drivers cabin directly connected to the bay. On the inside it was illuminated by a pair of light pannels bolted to the roof. A door led from the cabin to the cargo bay which was currently open. The walls were reinforced on the inside with panels of plasteel to make it more durable than it appeared, and had firm, padded benches on the sides. In between the benches were the three boxes, the red and blue striped ones were made out of a hard plastic and had what you were told was in them. The yellow box was made out of metal and had no apparent way to open it, there wasn't even a seem to show where it opened. Also in the center was a set of well used carapace armor and a pile that turned out to be heavy cloaks, one far larger than the rest.
As Kaylock was puzzling over the yellow box, a man came through the door from the driver's cabin. He was tallish and fair haired, with a vaguely unsettling air about him, similar to what some of them had felt near Astropaths and Navigators. Kaylock recognised him as the Inquisitor's Interrogator, Marvin or something. "Good to see you're still with us Kaylock," he said in a level voice. He looked over at Waycrest, "good to see an Astartes again, it's been a while since I've seen one. I hope Nicolas didn't swoon upon seeing you. He's been dying to tinker with Astartes equipment for as long as I've known him," he said to him. He was clearly trying to make light conversation but something about him still felt unnerving.
"Anyways," he said, his voice suddenly became more buisness like. "Name's Martin I'll be driving you guys to the city and operating comms. I'll be on your short comms that the Vox beads broadcast on and reporting back to the Inquisitor," he told them. He suddenly fumbled with something under his own coat and drew out a small box, inside which was three strange deivces resting on foam. Handing one to all the mortal members of the team they could see they were some type of sensor with a adjustable strap. "These are heartbeat sensors," Martin instructed them. "Just stick them anywhere you can feel your pulse. Waycrest we'll be using your armor's own biometrics to keep track of you. The yellow box holds a nuclear warhead that I'll turn on when you guys go to confront the traitor. Basically it's a dead man's switch so that if you all die without killing him, the nuke will probably get him, so try not to lose those. I'll be moving back up now to drive, should be there in two or three hours." With that he left, moving back up to the driver's cabin. Shortly they could feel the powerful engine roaring to life and the truck accelerating. For several minutes the ride was somewhat rough with bumps and shaking before whatever road they were on smoothed out.
"'Pologies, what?" Kaylock stuttered, looking at the yellow box, then Martin, then the yellow box again. He stood there for several seconds, even as the interrogator departed and the truck lurched to life, a stunned expression plastered across his face.
Eventually, the voidborn sat down, sat up for a moment as if to say something further, then collapsed back on to the bench, burying his head in his tattooed hands. He was silent for a good while.
Eventually, Kaylock found his tongue.
"So, what scrag does his High Holiness have on you gentlefolk," He eventually asked, glancing at Waycrest. "Well, prolly nothin' on you; all this is just another day in the biz I bet."
The voidborn's gaze, seemingly friendly if very, very tired, came to rest on Bando. "Wha about... no wait slag that, ramrod, right..." He turned to Shoto. "You though, you dinna fit. So what's the tale? Might as well share, seein' as we're all like to be sharin' a grave."
Kaylock looked back to Waycrest. "No offense big'un. You're like to outlive us all." An electtoo of a stylized Aquila, seemingly constructed of engine parts, sparked to life on his lower abdomen.
At the mention of nuclear warhead, Shoto's eyes widend clearly,a bit stunned and shocked as this thought echoed trough his mind.
"Nuclear warhead, ehh?" said Shoto before pausing for a moment looking at the yellow box.
"Well that certain changes some things. But not so suprising for an Inquisitor if i can say so." said Shoto as he took one of the heartbeat sensors, think where should he place it so it dosen't bother him in a fight.
Placing it on inner side of his arms, Shoto listened to Kaylock's question.
"The tale eh? Well as you can see my tatoos, i can bet you'll recognise them as they are Hive Gang markings. Been a leader of those myself. Then as with all other, when you get into a sort of war with other Gangs, you either destroy them or you are destroyed. Well after one of those and after long streak of winning, we runned into those damn Arbiters, a set up of a sort. Long story short, just few of us survived, too few to start anew. Everybody turned their way and i did so myself. Became a bounty hunter, and through countless deals, targets and so on became what I am today. A bit famous if i do say so myself, a known name around these parts of the sector atleast to those who wish to know." said Shoto with a hint of a smile on his face.
"I even worked for one Inquisitor already, and that's why i'm not so suprised with this warhead, altough i dont find it amusing or whatnot riding with it or carrying with me." Continued Shoto looking at Kaylock and how shocked he was afte finding out about warhead.
"And long story short, this guy contaced me looking a good hunter so to say. And as every bounty hunter, if the deal and price are good then you probably shouldn't refuse it. But about the grave mate, i dont know for you but i don't plan on laying in it just yet. And what about you mate, how did you got yourself in all this?" asked Shoto
"But i should have definatly asked for more when i could before all this mess." finished Shoto, trying to joke a bit with a smile on his face, to sort of ease the tensions a bit around them.
"The joke is that you're a bambling fool", Bando interjected, quite fed up with the void-freaks continued babbling. The discovery of the warhead had been equally relieving and unnerving, for as effective and efficient as it was, she had a feeling that if they were forced to use it, there would be little time to get to a safe distance.
"And the rest of us is probably gonna pay the price for it. Seen it happen before, will see it happen again", blackmail or not, taking someone like Kaylock on a mission was just asking for it to go haywire.
"I think we should ease of the agression here mates." said Shoto after Bando got mixed up in conversation.
"It's clear you dont like him, and i assume he dosen't like you either. And for all that matter Waycrest here probably isn't thrilled to work with simple humans, correct me if i'm wrong Waycrest." said Shoto as he glanced over to Waycrest.
"As skilled as all of us may be, we are nowhere near his level of skills and experties. And fighting someone of his level is a colossal task even with him on our side. So i would suggest you guys get your act together and as much as you hate it, start atleast trying to look like teammates. If we all want to get out of this alive and without this warhead obliterating every atom of our existence we need to work as a team." continued Shoto this time with a bit of a raised voice.
"After that do whatever the hell you want." finished Shoto.
Kaylock raised his hands obligingly. "Fair point, bounty, fair point. I'll be on me bestest behavior."
The voidborn then leaned back, retrieved his toolkit and a few of his "spare" vox-beads from the depths of his flak-jacket, and spreading the assembled kit out before him, began to tinker away, humming under his breath.
Bando said nothing more, for there was nothing to say. Leaning back and closing her eyes, she planned to catch a wink of sleep, as tiny as it may be and hoped that they'd be closer to being done with the mission once she woke up.
The drive went reletively smoothly and even became a bit boring. During the arguement between Bando and Kaylock, Waycrest's augmented hearing distictly picked up a stifled laugh from the cab. Bored Waycrest went over the interior of the tuck with the various photo-lenses in his helmet and noticed something that nobody else had, a miniature microphone right next to one of the illumination strips with a wire leading directly to the vehicles cab. It looked like their conversation wasn't quite as private as they thought.
After nearly two hours of driving, they heard Nicolas call back from the cab, "Cities just come into view gents! Got some good and bad news though, just got a winter storm warning that'll hit us in just a hour or so. One the one hand, nobody in their right minds is going to be outside tonight, on the other, well, It's going to twenty below and next to impossible to see more than five or six feet."
Waycrest turned to the Bounty Hunter and said, "My helmet does indeed have sensor equipment. Give me but a moment to check the area."
Waycrest then collected some extra ammo and pulled on the massive cloak designed for him, surprisingly fitting somewhat comfortably over his battle-plate, before he hopped out of the back of the truck, Combi-Melta at the ready as he began to use his inbuilt auspex to scan the area, as well as switching to thermal and night visions to check for any nearby contacts.
As he was doing this, he took the time to properly have a look at their surroundings, noticing the city nearby and the slight movements of people and Ogryns moving about. He then turned his head and noticed the massive snow storm incoming that Interrogator had just mentioned. From his best judgement it would indeedhit in about an hour or so. While he could survive in those conditions easily, he doubted his companions would also be able to last.
Concluding that they needed to find shelter soon, he called back over their vox-channel and telling them, "We must move quickly to avoid the storm before it hhits us out in the open. I suggest you move to find a loction to hunker down in, while i shall wait until it hits to move in more easily and track you via your vox signals.", all the while maintaing his vigilant watch over the surrounding area.
Bando slipped into a coat herself and leaped off the bed of the truck, taking a quick, sweeping glance around. Bad weather for Snipers. She had no objection to the Marine's suggestion. Waiting out the storm seemed preferable to stumbling around amidst the snow, waiting to be ambushed by the Legionnaire or his confederates.
(the truck is still moving so I doubt Bando jumped off the truck)
Even for the enhcanced vision of an Astartes helmet, the Storm was little more than a dark line on the horizon. From what he could see of the few figures outside at the city, all seemed to be dressed in heavy cloaks similar to the ones in the truck. Even as he watched, the figures in the distance dwindled in number till none were visible.
After another five minutes the truck got close enough that even the non Astartes could make out many details quite clearly. The city was made up of a tight cluster of skyscrapers getting taller the closer to the center. Around the cluster was at least a mile of smaller suberbs and in the back, barely visible, were a series of hills with factories and foundries on top. It was under those hills that the mines were located. Lights, both on streets and in the windows of buildings were few given the extremely late hour.
Soon the truck was passing through the suberbs. Smaller houses, some with personal vehicles parked nearby flashed by as the truck shot down the empty roads. Soon enough the truck came to bridge over a small river that seemed to mark the boundry of the main city. Crossing it the truck passed into the canyon like streets in between the massive buildings. Unlike the suberbs, a few vehicles still roamed the streets and Martin was forced to slow down his driving. Eventually he came to the edge of what seemed to be park of some sort, near the center of the city. On the other side of the park an enormous pyramid like building stood, of a distictly diffirent style to those around it. Parking the truck near the edge of a sidewalk Martin came back into the cargo bay of the truck.
"Well, here we are," he told them. Pointing out the windshield of the truck at the pyramid like building he told them, "That's the city hall. Unfortunetly there's a bunch of cameras and construction on the streets near it so I can't get any closer without drawing way too much attention. If you cut through the park however, theres no cameras and it lead you almost all the way to the alley with the dead drop. At most you'd need to avoid one or two cameras before getting into the alley." He moved past them through the truck and opened the hatch they had used to get in. "Oh yeah, I've got a message for for you Kaylock. From the Inquisitor, a kind of just in case thing." Reaching into his coat, he pulled out a folded piece of paper and handed it to Kaylock.
On the paper was a written note from the Inquisitor;
Kaylock, if your reading this then you're just as much of a cowardly bastard as I thought. My Interrogator is a psyker trained in Telepathy and I've instructed him to montior you all just in case some might be having second thoughts. Think of this as a reminder, do this job well and you'll get a new ship. Fail or try anything to get out of this and you'll wish you died with the rest of your fleet.
Shoto got out of truck and looked around taking in all of his surroundings.
As Interrogator was explaining to them the route they should take he wondered about the builiding. Even to him who didnt care much about style, the building seemed unusal.
"Well that's one unusual building there. And anything we should know about city hall or something we should be aware of there beside cameras." Said Shoto as he pulled out one of the maps from his backpack and carefully inspected it to see where they at and where shoudl they go from here.
"How about Shoto and me go secure the dead drop and the other two cover our backs? If we're spotted, we should draw less attention than the void-sider and Brother Waycrest. Not saying that I plan on getting spotted. Doesn't hurt to plan for the worst, though."
Her trained eyes scanned the surroundings for anyone else still out that wasn't ought to be. The night was less of an issue than the snow. Well, it would conceal them just as well as anyone else, so it certainly was some advantage.
At one point in his youth, Kaylock had been forced to crawl on his hands and knees through a septic pipeline in order to scrub away a particularly troublesome carbon buildup that was causing sewage overflow on board the vessel. Treating Martin to a very sour look, Kaylock started concentrating very hard on those particular memories of wading through unholy amounts of foulness.
That's right witchbreed, He thought. Get an' eyeful.
"We know th' local grid's whereabouts?" Kaylock asked aloud. "Gimme a few secs an' I'll pluck their peepers."
Nonchalantly, the voidborn passed one of his tinkered vox-beads to Shoto. "Here Bounty. Repo special. In case o' endangerment; flip th' switch, toss at the fragger, then clasp yer vox an' ears shut cause theirs is gonna get slagged."
"Be agreein' with Miss Ramrod, you lot to stern, this plank'll keep tabs on Big'n'Tanky." Kaylock rapped his knuckles on Waycrest's greave appreciatively. "Stars and slag, that plate powered? Damn prime kit."
Waycrest cast one last glance in the direction the truck was heading, the vehicle and the rest of the team entering the city moments later. After they disappeared from view Waycrest turned and started to make his way along the land just outside the city towards one of the dead drops located near the mines, his route marked on his HUD. By the time he had completed this objective, the cold storm would have hit the city, making it easier for him to sneak in and re-group with the others without being detected.
As he continued to stalk along his path, carefully moving into cover to evade detection from the occasional lookout in the distance, he wondered what he would find at this dead drop. Would it be simple locations of enemy forces in the city, travel routes, or perhaps some information on the blasted Traitor. Just thinking abut the Alpha Legionnaire made his blood boil, wishing to deliver swift retribution upon the Heretic and avenge all he has slain. With that thought in mind, Waycrest continued to power on to the mines.
Martin either wasn't trying to read Kaylock's mind at the moment, or he had seen worse. He started to pick up pieces of the carapace armor on the truck bed and fit them on. At Shoto's question he looked over, "far as I know," he said, "all the buildings in the city were going to be like that, then they found out how inefficent it was and changed their minds and no, I don't know where the cameras are other than not in the park. We passed some on the way in and they all appeared to be pretty high up though."
As Shoto looked at the map he found where the park and city hall were. Sure enough there were markings around city hall to indincate roadwork, and there were several paths that wound through the park. Each path appeared to start at one of the sides of the park and wind inwards till they all convered at the center where some sort of central plaza stood. Looking out at the park it seemed to stand quiet and empty. It was easy to make out the black tarmac path leading into it from the white snow surrounding it, even at night. No one else was visible from where they stood.
On the outside of the city Waycrest was finding that the main city was apparently ringed by the river, probably as a form of defense. For whatever reason, nobody built near the river itself with the nearest buildings being at least a quarter mile away. As he walked he saw there were lights on in some of the buildings but nobody was ever visible at any of the windows.
As he put the map back into his bag, Shoto grazed over the park once more.
"I dont like that all the paths are converging at the same point, cause its a perfect way to get ambushed. But i also see no other safer way to get to the dead drop. So i suggest we start walking now before we grow to much suspicious, who knows if anyone is watching us." Said Shoto as he pointed to one the paths in the park.
Having his weapons at ready Shoto waited so all others are ready to move out.
"So then eyes open and watch out for your surroundings." Said Shoto looking at his teammmates.
Waycrest noticed that no infrastructure was built near the river at all, and was a fair distance away from it. THough it was quite odd, he did not pay much mind to either it or the fact that most of the buildings that were lit up had no evident signs of people being within them. Currently his only goal was to retrieve the date at the mine which was now close by, and to sneak in and regroup with the retinue when the storm hit soon. With any luck he would avoid any contact with hostiles, and if that was not the case, well... he always had his combat blade ready.
Bando nodded, flipping the safety off on her gun and taking it in a stance that would allow her to quickly bring it to aim. The place was open enough to swing it freely, but she worried a bit about entering the mines or a too narrow street. As much as she trusted her aim with the Laspistol in those surroundings, its power did not compare to her beloved Longlas.
Swiping those worries from her mind however, she fell into step besides Shoto, giving him a nod as the sign to lead on while she covered his right. Through the lense of her scope, which she had put to nightvision, Bando scanned the shadows up ahead, knowing how easily a bit of light would make them blind to the darkness. After all, she had exploited this herself a number of times.
"Then i suggest we dont wait much longer." Said Shoto as Bando sliped to his side, before starting to movw towards one of the paths.
"Eyes and ears open. Watch for cameras or anything else unusual. I dont think anybody would be crazy enough to be in tje park with the coming storm but still keep all of your senses on high alert." Said Shoto continuing to move towards the path nearing the park.
Unlike the streets, the park had no lights to illuminate it at night making difficult to navigate the dark paths. Only the diffirence between the black tarmac and white snow made it possible to navigate. After a few minutes of walking the group could see a light ahead, at what looked like the central area of the park. Looking through her long-las scope Bando could see a stone plaza with a large platform in the middle. On top of the platform stood a small group of men, dressed in some kind of winter gear, white and covering most of their features. Each man seemed to be armed with some kind of las gun and theu were standing around a machine of some sort that, judging from the wavers above it, was letting of heat.
Waycrest was moving faster than the group, but he had a much greater distance to go. The only thing of intrest in the area he was going through was a series of train rails. He noticed that the tracks leading into the city appeared to have been heavily damaged.
Waycrest continued along his route, noticing some rail tracks in the snow that appeared to have been damaged quite extensively. How this happened was unknown, however it was not much of a concern to him, brushing it off as an accident or poor maintenance.
Turning his attention back to infront of him, Waycrest continued along his path to the Mines, where the cache awaited with all its hidden secrets.
Looking down her scope, Bando could make out six men, two were looking down the left hand path leading out of the square and hte other four were either looking at each other or the machine in between them. If they were talking it was impossible to tell as their heads were covered by their gear and were too far away to hear anything. The sound of engines can faintly be heard from where the left hand path led.
Before Kaylock could start moving, Martin's voice came over the Vox. "Team, a truck full of armed soldiers just drove past me. I had the lights and engine off so they didn't really notice me but there's something strange about them. They were wearing some kind of white, winter gear that was definately made off world. Whoever they are, they are not the planet's pdf or from the Imperial Guard. Until I can find out more, avoid contact and report any sightings of them to me. Copy?"
As Waycrest heard this, he was approaching the northern most road into town and noticed that the checkpoint was active with people manning it. Unusually he noticed that there was a sand bag fortification on top of one of the buildings which held some kind of heavy stubber. There were two of the white armored figures visible, one through the window inside the checkpoint, the other was manning the heavy stubber. A pair of spot lights illuminated the road for some distance.
Waycrest went to ground, adopting a proned position amongst the snow a fair distance aay from the checkpoint, a few meters outside the range of the spotlights. He proceeded to unlock his Combi-Melta from his back and aimed down the sights, using his HUD to help lock on to the two figures.
He contemplated taking them out before moving on, seeing as how he could not sneak past them, but decided against it for the moment. There may have been more hidden somewhere he would miss, and hey would then alert their allies of his presence. He chose to wait it out for awhile to see if any more show themselves, while making plans on how to possily capture one of these figures and interrogate them.
After this was done, he voxed in to Martin. "Interrogator, i have arrived at a checkpoint with two of these white armoured figures. Unknown if there are any more." He said, before returning his attention to the checkpoint.
Bando let her weapon sink down and instead used for a sewer entrance. In her experience, going underground was one of the best ways to avoid enemy detection, despite the risks it bore. If none should be available, for the didn't expect to find one as conveniently easy as she hoped, she looked out for cover. Shrubs, trees, park benches, anything that'd allow them get by the patrol post unnoticed.
While there were a good deal of power lines running under the ground in the park, the only point where they went above ground was the stage platform where the heating machine was plugged in and a small shack, just visible on the other side of the plaza. Meanwhile Bando found that the closest thing to a sewer entrance were small drainage grates. Fortunetly there was no shortage of bushes and trees ringing the central plaza, though the snow covering the ground presented dangers of it's own.
As they watched, an emaciated figure stepped into the light of the plaza from the west. As he approached the stage area the team could make out that it appeared to be an elderly man dressed in rags that looked woefuly insufficent against the cold. Once within ten feet of the stage, the white armored soldiers seemed to take notice of his presence, turning to face him, one even raising his weapon briefly before lowering it. Looking up at the figures above him the old man said something the team couldn't hear and raised his hands in an obvious gesture of pleading. After seeing this five of the soldiers looked at the last soldier who nodded briefly. At this two of the soldiers holstered their rifles and jumped down towards the man. One of them reached into a pouch at his belt and pulled something out, holding it towards the old man. Gratefully the old man shuffled forward, focused on whatever the soldier was holding out. As the old man got close the other soldier slowly moved to the old man's side before in one quick practiced movement, drew a knife and stabbed the man in the back of the neck while simulatinously putting a hand over his mouth.
The old man died almost instantly and the soldier drew out his knife while shifting his hold to catch the corpse. Looking up, the soldier who had baited the old man called out and the team could make out a few words, "makes...enough yet?". Looking back the one who had nodded called back while pointing back west where the old man came from, "should...close...soon enough." At this the two who jumped down started to move off in the direction he pointed, one dragging the corpse, the other drawing his lasrifle again. The remaining four went back to talking around the heater, though they now sent occasional glances around the area.
Meanwhile Waycrest heard Martin come over the vox as he watched the checkpoint. "Checkpoint? Hmm," he heard Martin mutter. "Two guards sounds too small, there may be more partolling the area, or a garrison a little further into the city." Over the vox Waycrest heard a thump and faintly a muffled shot followed by two more thumps and a dragging sound. Shortly he heard Martin speak again though he sounded strained as though engaged in physical labor. "Listen, I should have some more information soon, until then, act on your best judgement, but don't let them raise an alarm. Martin out"
As the Interrogator said this Waycrest spotted a pair of the white clad soldiers jogging south towards the check point from the other side. As they got to it, they called out to the soldier manning the heavy stubber. With both enhanced hearing and his helmets auto senses the marine heard, "Oi, Clarkson! Storm's coming soon, why don't ya stop blindin everyone within a mile of the hut and come and warm up with us! Let Basil and Jackson stop warmin their backsides and start their patrol." Sure enough the man at the heavy stubber stood up and switched the lights to a dimmer setting before climbing down a ladder on the other side of the checkpoint, making it to the doors of the checkpoint at the same time as the two who had been jogging and heading into some back room. Shortly another white dressed figure stepped out of the back room and joined the one who had been visible inside the checkpoint. Together they left the checkpoint and started jogging south, staight towards where Waycrest had concealed himself. While they didn't seem to have noticed him yet, in a few seconds they would be right on top of him.
Waycrest saw the pair of guards coming his way, and knew they would spot him when they got close enough. He had to take them down, but not kill them, seeing as how they may yield answers. Immediately nearly all his weapons but his combat blade were ruled out. Hopefully the others would not hear them, considering they were all indoors, and the fact they were at a fairly large distance.
So silently, Waycrest drew his blade and prepared to pounce on the two guards, quietly waiting as he planned to subdue them.
Shoto used the bushes and trees around them to move around plaza as stealthy as possible.
He was wondering what was in the making for the scene thez witnessed just now. Not being able to hear clearly what the soldiers had talked about, Shoto didnt let that lower his concentration or focus as theor goal was to bypass them an get to a more safer spot.
Having his weapons still at the ready, Shoto made the best use of cover that was around them.
Sinking to the ground, Bando crawled below the bushes, spreading her weight out to reduce the noise caused by the snow. The rifle was now over her shoulder and she kept her LasPistol in one hand, ready to bring it to bear should she be spotted.
When the soldiers got within about 2 meters, Waycrest saw one of them look his direction and begin to jump in suprise. The time to act was now or never.
Fortunetly for the rest of the team, the sound of the engine in the distance picked up, reving higher and higher, helping muffle the faint sounds of crunching snow. Strangely, they noticed that although the map showed that only four paths led off from the central plaza, (one in each cardinal direction) they found another smaller, unlit, tarmac path halfway between the southern path they were coming up and the eastern path.
When they were about half way around, one of the soldiers jogged back to the group. While the sounds of the engine made hearing the exchange between the returned soldier and the one who seemed to be giving the orders impossible, they could tell from the gestures that it was some kind of arguement. Eventually the soldier in charge threw up his hands and turned to one of the men near him and spoke to him. The soldier he spoke to, jumped down from the platform and started to jog down the path that was nearest to the team, forcing them to lay flat as he passed, fiddling with something on his helmet. After that they had to wait until the soldiers in the plaza were looking away before quickly crossing the eastern path to the bushes on the other side. Quietly creeping up the northern side they found another unlit path halfway between the eastern and norther paths.
Waycrest saw the soldiers react to his presence and knew the time to act was now. Leaping up from his prone position, blade drawn, he rushed at the closest guard and grabbed him by the throat, hoisting him into the air.
As he was doing this, he used his other hand which held his blade, and used the flat of the knife to wack the other guard in the side of the head, not hard enough to kill, but not so weak as to cause no damage. Either it would give him a good concussion or knock him out.
"Attempt to alert the others, and you will die quickly. Do you understand?" Waycrest said to the guards.
The guard smacked on the head collapsed into the snow, his gun discharging a shot as it fell from his hand. Although the light and noise were almost completely muffled, it melted a sizeable hole in the snow. The other guard dropped his rifle and tried to grab at Waycrest's hand, making a faint gurgling sound.
Wacrest cast a quick glance to the guard on the ground, happy he was down for the moment, luckily his shot was muffled and the light blocked. He then stomped on the lasgun with his foot, crushing it and preventing further use, before levelling his blade at the downed guard, as if daring him to rise back up if he was still conscious.
Waycrest then turned back to the guard he was holding up, who was currently attempting to free himself in a rather pitiful way, before slightly loosening his grip to allow him to breathe.
He then used his foot to yet again crush the other guards lasgun, prevnting it from being used either. Waycrest immediately followed up by saying "I will not repeat myself, attempt to alert the others and you will die. Co-operate and you may yet live, do you understand me?" in a rather forceful tone, making him sound like some kind of demon to the guard due to the vox-amplifier in his helm. That and the fact a massive Astartes had him by the throat, in the middle of the night.
Waycrest saw the thumbs up and took it as a yes, dropping the guard onto the ground and levelling the blade to his face.
Voxing in to the Interrogator over the teams Vox-Channel, Waycrest said "I have captured two of the guards patrolling near me. One is unconcious and the other is before me, i am about to start questioning him on who they are and why they are here. Do you wish to know of any further information i can extract?"
Before he got a response, Waycrest said to the guard, "Who are you and why are you here. You are not of the Imperial Guard, or this planets PDF, that much i can gather." Said Waycrest in a rather intimidating tone, still casting glances every so often to the other guard to watch for any movements.
Martin's voice came over the vox, "one thing might be how long till they are missed." There were some wet noises in the background. "Emperor's sake, the truck might be a bit, messy when you get back." There was silence for a second over the vox. "None of these foot soldiers know the whole truth, but they seem to have heard bits and pieces. Ask him what he does know and I'll cross refrence with what I got on my end."
The soldier, released by Waycrest knelt on the ground massaging his neck and began to speak somewhat horsely. "Half right lord, I mean, I was part of a PDF but that was a different planet. They picked me up near six months ago cause I was a trained field medic and I wanted to see the stars." There was nervousness in almost every syllable he spoke. "Name's Jackson lord, and we was hired by someone to come here and do something. Don't know rightly what or who cause they don't tell me anything cause I'm the fng but I've been listening to radio chatter on my down time so I've got some ideas if you want to hear them."
The wind was beginning to pick up and the snow started to fall a bit faster, Waycrests helmet reminded him about the incoming storm that would arrive in about an hour.
Waycrest gave the Interrogator a quick "Acknowledged" over he Vox before clicking it off and eurning his attention to the now idenified ex-PDF Jackson.
"When are you expected to report in to the others? I would rather not have any surprises during our talk. Also how many of them are inside the building currently and do any of them know any further information?"
The nervousness in Jackson seemed to be turning to something more like awe. "Well," he stammered, "our circut usually takes bout 'alf an hour but we sometimes take longer. Most of the checkpoints are shuttin' down cause of the storm though so I don't know." He glanced back at the checkpoint building, "back there is Clarkson, James, and..." He paused, "Can't remeber his name. Don't know if any of them would know more, cept maybe Sargent Basil." He pointed at the unconscious soldier.
After hearing the response, Waycrest went over his options. He couldn't kill them outright, they had information the retinue needed, and he couldn't just drag them away with him otherwise that would raise an alert with all the others throughout the city.
If he was being truthful, then there were only three guards left at this checkpoint. If he could get them unawares, then he would be able to secure this checkpoint and any information with ease. Though there was also the problem of what to do with them afterwards. If he killed them they would be missed sooner or later, and if they were left alive they would no doubt report him and destroy all sense of stealth.
Voxxing in to the Interrogator on the private channel, he informed him of what he was told, and asked a question on what to do with them, "After i gather the information from them, should i kill them, leave them be, or take them with me? All three will no doubt raise suspicion with the others before long."
Looking at the now identified SGT. Basil on the ground, then back to Jackson, he asked a simple question, "Are you loyal to the Emperor and the Imperium?"
Kaylock, Shoto, and Bando continued to make their way through the park, soon finding the north path. In the intrest of secrecy they decided to travel along it rather than on it, though they couldn't see anyone on it. Within a few minutes they could see the road on the north side of the park. They also noticed something strange about the path. Though it had been straight and even all the way, at one point it flared out before slanting back till it reached the normal width again. The parts of the path that flared out looked to be new and there didn't seem to be any real point to it flaring out in the first place.
After a pause, during which Jackson seemed to be thinking hard, Martin came over the vox. "The one you're interrogating might be useful to keep around if he really is a field medic. If you can get enough out of him, it might not be nessessary to interrogate the others within the checkpoint and you can just avoid it. The other soldier, this Basil, do with as you like. If you do kill him, the way the snow's coming down he'll be covered soon enough." There was another pause. "I'm going to try and search this medic's mind to see if there is any taint. I'll have to use you as a refrence to find him, but don't worry, unless he's a psyker he shouldn't even know I'm doing anything."
Jackson seemed to have come to a decision. "I'm loyal ta the Throne and ta the Imperium, but if you, one of the God-Emperor's own angels of death are against this outfit then I don't want any part of it." With that he reached to his shoulder where a badge in blue and white marked with a symbol of a frost covered blade and the name Ice Knives and ripped the badge off and threw it to the ground where the snow quickly covered it.
Standing tall Jackson gave the sign of the aquila and said, "Combat medic Jackson reporting for active duty Mi'Lord. As a loyal servant of the God Emperor I wish to report suspicious activity." He glanced back at the checkpoint, "oh by the way Mi'lord I should tell ye that when the checkpoint has no one operating the lights they switch to a proximity sensor. In this weather it reaches probably, eight, nine meters?" He shook his head, "anyway's as I was sayin earlier, I've been listening to radio chatter a load and most of it's weird. They keep referin to some 'Boss' or 'Big Blue' and keep bringing up somethin about construction that sounds like its goin on in multiple places, and." He stopped suddenly. After a second Martin came over the Vox.
"I can't sense any taint in him," he told Waycrest. "Also, he's not lying and he's currently feeling something between awe and worship. That's all I can tell from this distance, I'll see what I can find his fellow."
Jackson suddenly continued talking as if nothing had happened, "they recently started talkin about rounding up undesireables." Jackson shrugged, "that's not even the strangest thing though-"
Suddenly Martin came over the vox sounding alarmed, "Waycrest, watch out! Something's wrong with the other soldier!" As he said this Waycrest realized that, while the badge had been covered in seconds by snow, Basil was almost completely uncovered. At that moment Basil shot up with inhuman speed, drawing a hidden knife and lunging forward at Jackson. As he did this Waycrest could feel something trying to seize his armor, as if to hold him in place. Basil plunged the knife into Jackson's upper right leg bringing him crashing down before pulling the knife out and reaching for what looked like some kind of side arm.
Waycrest saw this happening and took immediate action. He couldn't let the loyal guard, Jackson, die as he had useful information with him, and a field medic may prove to be of use to the others.
Fighting against the mysterious force trying to hold him in place, Waycrest drew his Bolt Pistol and aimed it at Basil, firing a three round burst directly at him, while trying to lunge forward at him with his Combat Knife.
While the restraining force was probably strong enough to hold a strong man in place, it was only enough to slow an Astartes somewhat. The three bolt round hit him in varying parts of the torso, ripping huge chunks out and nearly tearing him in half. As he flew back from the impacts Waycrest thought he saw something fly out and disappear.
Jackson on the ground rolled over in the snow, the knife wound quickly turning his outfit red and starting to dye the snow. Waycrest could see that he had some of the cloth mask of his uniform clenched between his teeth to prevent him from crying out. With bloodstained hands Jackson reached for one of his pouches and withdrew a roll of medical tape which he wrapped around his leg before pulli out a needle with which he injected something into his leg near the injury.
Martin's voice came over the vox, "check out that body, I have a bad suspicion. And while you're at it you should probably keep an eye on that checkpoint to see if anybody heard that."
Waycrest strided over to Basils fallen body and nudged it, seeing that it didn't move he kicked it over, starting to examine it. He didn't need to be an Apothecary to know that he had to be dead. His body had been completely ripped apart by the bolt shells.
Noticing the side arm at his side still, Waycrest examined it and saw nothing out of he ordinary. Turning around he tossed it at Jackson, saying "Keep watch on the Checkpoint and alert me if the others come out. We will be moving there to question them when i am done with him." Waycrest said, pointing at Basil, before returning to his investigation.
Voxing in to Martin, Waycrest said "I am examining him now, and so far notice nothing out of the ordinary. If the others at the checkpoint are like him, then i do not wish to draw pursuers on my way to the Mine. They will no doubt notice the missing patrol and send a team to investigate. We will be moving to the Checkpoint to deal with the others. If theya re loyal then we should gain much more information, however if tehya re like SGT. Basil here, they will meet a swift death."
The pistol fell in snow near Jackson who picked it up and struggled to get up on his feet. Limping heavily he pulled his hood down and pulled the cloth and mask from his face revealing a round face and curly brownish-redish hair. "Bloody hell, of course he had ta get me in the one place I can't see well," he muttered turning his gaze to the checkpoint.
As Waycrest continued his investigation he pulled off Basil's hood. Underneath Basil was anything but ordinary, his face was a blueish color, his still open eyes had yellowish sclera and his teeth were a horrendus mix of molars and canines. Waycrest had never seen anyone like that in person but he had seen pictures of similar creatures during his training; a daemonhost. Jackson looked and flinched before immediately clutching at his leg in pain. "Wot the hell is that?" Jackson exclaimed. "Is that Basil? I mean he'd been keeping to himself ever since he went to that briefing for vetrans and officers but what the hell! God Emperor protect us!"
"Interrogator, the dead guard, he is a Daemonhost. Whatever this thing is, it ceased being human awhile ago. i am moving to the checkpoint. If there are others like him then it is best to kill them before they alert others of their kind, in the Emperors name they shall be purged. Could also gain some useful information such as Vox-Channels from them."
Raising his Bolt Pistol, Waycrest fired another burst into its face to ensure it stayed dead, before turning to Jackson and striding over to him, picking him up and putting him over his shoulder.
"We shall make for the checkpoint and search the others. If they are like your sergeant here, then their deaths will be swift, if not, i will decide what actions to take from there." Said Waycrest as he began making for the checkpoint.
"Okay we are getting close to our destination, finallzy." Said Shoto as he glance over the sky and then back to the road knfront of them.
"Still we need to hurry up, storm is just about to hit us." Continued Shoto, slightly wondering about flaring in the path they've seen.
"What do you guys think about that flaring in the path we have seen? Seems unusual to make it for now apparent reason. And it seems it was bulit after the other parts, quite some time later."
Said Shoto as he slwoly picked up the pace towards their goal.
"Somethin' ain't right..." Muttered Kaylock, pulling out his auspex and aiming at the strangely flared portion of the road. Cranking up all the settings on the heavily modified device, he sent out a localized "ping", a multi-spectrum readout that would (hopefully) detect anything out of the ordinary in their area. Granted, it wouldn't exactly be a perfect read: "pinging" was an old salvager's trick for scouting out the cramped confines of a void-wreck. Out here, in the open... well better safe than sorry.
The checkpoint was quiet as Martin's reply came over the vox. "Negative Waycrest, the dead drop takes priority and if that checkpoint does have a proximity alarm then it might give them time to send out an alert. If you don't find the dead drop before the storm hits you might never find it. You've done good so far, but I'll handle information gathering. A daemonhost though... I'll be contacting the Inquisitor about this. Fortunetly I didn't detect any form telepathy so I don't think it contacted anyone before you slew it." There was a pause in the vox and Waycrest saw Jackson stiffen before relaxing. "I'll handle the medic by having him come to me while avoiding other soldiers. Even at this distance I can do that for a single soldier." Martin told Waycrest.
As he said it Jackson turned to Waycrest and gave the sign of the aquila before moving off without a word towards the canal surrounding the city. "Don't worry," Martin said over the vox, "in this weather the water in the channel will be frozen over enough to support his weight. This way I can get him in the city and towards where I'm parked while avoiding the checkpoint."
Kaylock's auspex failed to pick anything unusual up about the flaring, though it did detect the presence of tunnels underneath the park. Probably sewers of some sort. As the group moved on they came to the north end of the park, city hall rearing up beyond the trees. According to the map the dead drop was in an alley 2 buildings to the west of city hall itself.
Looking out into the road cautiously they saw that the street infront of city hall did indeed have sighs up blocking access at intersections on either end, but most of the road was reletively clear and empty of any people. As they watched a truck with a squad of soldiers in the back drove down the street to the east followed by a covered truck. As they passed Martin's voice came over the vox, "got some news," he said. "Might have a new ally, a medic, provided I can pick him up undetected. Bad news though, the enemy seems to be using abominations hidden among their soldiers called daemonhosts. I don't expect any of you to know what that is so I'll tell you they are horrid warp born perverions of humanity that are far worse than any xenos. There doesn't seem to be any way of differentiating them from ordinary soldiers so avoid confrontation or discovery at any costs.
"Well that's just great, things are getting better by the moment." grunted Shoto after they recived news from Martin.
"Atleast that medic could prove usefull, when he isn't also that abomination or what not, or just a good trained spy." said Shoto looking over the street if there is any guards or anybody else watching the streets.
Ensuring it was safe after the trucks passed, Shoto looked to cross it quickly to their waypoint.
"Come now,quickly, dead drop is just few buildings from here. We have already taken to much time traversing the park." said Shoto to the others.
As Waycrest made his way to the mines, only one and a half kilometers away at this point, and the rest of the team crept across the street they heard a distant siren start in the suberbs outside the city and grow louder. Mixed in with the siren noise you could make out a voice speaking though it was too distant to hear the words. Martin quickly came over the vox, "don't worry that's not about us. The storms increased in speed and power and it's a warning to the suberb inhabitants to either take cover in a basement or the city. Good news is that the people coming to the city will actually help mask our presence, bad news is that the storm is hitting soon and hitting bad. Time's been reduced from half an hour to ten minutes and the storm's going to force me to park somewhere I won't get buried in. Also the storm might interfere with long range comms." There was a pause over the vox. "Something about this storm isn't natural, why would it suddenly get worse like that and I can feel, something, to do with the warp at work but I can't tell what. FInd your dead drops and get undercover quickly."
Waycrest who was on the north side of the city could actually see the storm in the distance, looking now like a white wall that was growing as he watched. With his power armor he likely wouldn't require cover but finding the deaddrop soon was now imperative.
As Kaylock, Bando, and Shoto crept across and down the road to the alley, they couldn't see the storm but could feel the wind pick up and even the pressure change. In the alley they found a fire blazing it what looked like a old trash can but no one in sight. There were signs that some kind of stuggle took place however like bags of trash being scattered from the huge pile against one of the buildings and even some traces of blood on the walls and ground. According to the notes on the map the location of the dead drop would be located was designated by an upsidedown aquila.
Watching as the storm encompassed the entire horizon and rushed forwards like a tidal wave of snow, Waycrest turned back to the direction of the dead drop and began sprinting to the location as fast as he could, dropping all sense of stealth.
With luck the guards would be busy seeking shelter or daling with the inhabitants to keep an eye out where he was, and finding that dead drop was of the upmost importance.
Bando followed the bounty hunter, not one bit eager to see the storm hitting their position. She made quick progress and didn't fall back, as guard training was nothing if not a stamina building exercise.
Kaylocks sprint would easily have left any of his companions in the dust and he was only prevented from slipping on the snow due to the sheer weight of his armor giving him incredible traction. As he ran a file uploaded to his helmet from the Interrogator that detailed how the deaddrop near the mine was marked with a particular radioactive isotope. As he got this information his helmet's auto senses automatically reconfigured to search for it.
In the city Kaylock's search was rewarded as he found a low basement window buried beneath the trashbags. Crudely painted above it was a mark of an upsidedown aquila. Pressed for time as well as cover they were forced to break the windows latch in order to slip into the basement which proved to be full of old wooden crates as well as cardboard boxes.
North of the city Waycrest reached the hills where the mines were. Connected by an old set of roads, many of the openings in the hills were long since closed off. With the white tide taking up the entirety of the horzion and little more than a mile away Waycrest's helmet detected the isotope beneath a large rock. The previous agents had probably had to dig underneath the rock, but the large stone was no detriment to an Astartes stength. Shoving aside the stone he found underneath a metal box, within which was two sets of notes, one of which looked scorched. Suddenly his helmet put up an alarm denoting a sudden pressure change. Closing the box he looked up just as the storm hit him.
In that shabbly basement there was no shortage of places where things could be hidden. Spending precious minutes the team searched every remotely openable box and crate until Bando noticed what looked like an envelope taped above the window they had entered. As she pulled it off the wall the Interrogator's voice came over the vox. "Brace you-" and then the storm hit. Even with the buildings around them, a startling amount of snow and wind blasted the window open, forcing the team to wedge the window shut.
In the hills the storm was much worse, even for one clad in power armor. Winds that would have lifted most men off their feet easily ripped away the cloak concealing his power armor and only his tight grip kept the wind from taking the box as well. White filled his vision as every auto sense hisa rmor had was blinded by the sheer fury of the blizzard.
Seconds after the storm hit, both Waycrest and the rest of the team heard a weak voice come patchily over the vox. "Hope...Medic made... static in the storm...Going to risk...communications...can...hear...over"
Waycrest, even with his gene-enhancements and power armour, struggled to fight his way forward past the rushing snow and keep his grip on the box and its contents. Each step was long and hard fought, his vision almost completely blind outside a few meters.
As he continued to make his way to the city and regroup with the team, he heard a patchy signal coming in over the vox-channel. Realizing it was the Interrogator, Waycrest made to contact him, saying "Interrogator-Martin, your signal is recieved on my end, albeit it is patchy. I am currentl enroute to the City and will attempt to regroup with the others. Will re-establish contact when i am done, out."
As he finished saying this, Waycrest mag-locked the box to his side, making sure it was properly sealed before pulling out his Combi-Melta and continuing his advance, paying careful attention to his sensors to keep on the lookout for any dangers.
As they searched through the boxes and crates,Shoto noticed Bando has found something.
"Whatcha, got there Bando? Found..." Shoto was cut off as the storm hit them.
"Well that's just great" said Shoto as they wedged the window shut.
"Now that's what you call a storm" continued Shoto as he cleaned some snow from his hands
After they heard Martin over the Vox, Shoto just shook his head a few times.
"Martin we got your message, altough it was interrupted, we will try establishing contact later." said Shoto over the Vox hoping Marting will get atleast half of it.
"So what we could have heard, comms are off atleast for now, and we are on our own. Well we are atleast inside, cause with all the snow and wind it would be a death sentence outside right now." said Shoto turning his sight to Bando.
To the suprise of everyone, they suddenly heard Martin's voice af if he was standing right next to them, "Listen up, I can't hold this for long," he said. "I can't use my telepathy like this for long since this storm is putting out some kind of psychic interferance as well as static. When it hit, it scrambled most of the Vox equipment, I'm trying to readjust it but I'm no Techpriest so it might take a while. I just contacted the Inquisitor and he's sending reinforcements from his retinue, but we can't expect them to arrive too soon. He also made mention of some other reinforcements on route to the planet, but who knows when they'll arrive? In the mean time figure out what's in the dead drops if you're in a position to do so." Martin's voice stopped leaving silence behind before suddenly returning. "One last thing, I let the Inquisitor know about the Daemonhost. Because we don't know how many there are, or how to tell them apart from other soldiers, orders are to avoid if at all possible. If not possible, shoot to kill all of them. No prisoners."
Waycrest heard the psyker speaking to him and thought about what he had said. Reinforcements would be good when dealing with a threat like this.
Continuing to march through the storm as fast as he could, he started to make out the familiar shapes of buildings in the distance. Needing to get in a secure location before examining the contents of the box, Waycrest made his way towards them faster, keeping the deadbox close to him at all times while also trying to keep an eye out for any hostiles.
Following the outline of the buildings, Waycrest found himself at the remains of the old ore refineries, abandoned when the mines ran dry. While the doors were locked, they proved easy enough for waycrest to force open. Inside the buildings there was little but dust, swirling up in clouds as wind found ways in through holes in the walls and roof.
Inside the envelope that Bando found was a map of the city with markings all over, a page with a hand written note, and a key. On the note was a letter from a member of the previous team. It read:
"As suspected, nobody on any of the recent ships to have docked here could have brought the illness that has spead through the governor's household. Somebody brought it deliberately from off world, someone who must have close contact with the planetary goveror. Looking into all these new 'construction' projects that started as soon as the governor fell ill, most are centered on the city hall or leading away north towards the old mines. During a tour of the city hall I managed to snag a master key and have a mould made of it. I'll leave a copy with this.
Rumors that the deputy planetary governor is bringing in mercenaries to make up for losses during the Ork invasion have been confirmed. We'll have to move fast to try and investigate before they arrive. After leaving this dead drop we'll be sneaking into the city hall. If you find this assume that we were found or that our planned entrance to sneak in at the kitchens didn't work.
After getting inside the abandoned building and out of the storm, Waycrest allowed himself a moment of reprieve before making his way over to a nearby table covered with old mining equipment and hard hats, covered in dust and cobwebs.
In one motion, Waycrest sweeped off all of the items with little effort and planted the deadbox he had spent so long to retrieve on it. He proceeded to properly examine it for anything unusual on its surface, and after being satisfied with his findings, opened up the deadbox to search through the secrets held within.
Within the box was a single sheet of paper and beneath it a bundle of parchment of which the top right corner was burned off. Also within the box were several blackish stains that Waycrest identified as dried blood. On the paper was written a note addressed simply to 'My Lord'. It read:
"My Lord, you were right, the mine is not being closed but still used. Everyday men come as well as some Ogryn to work in it, yet the work on sealing the entrance never gets any more complete. Yet for upwards of ten hours a day dozens of men do something within, they come out, dirty and tired, but nothing else comes out. With the mercenaries known as the 'Ice Knives' arriving, most have stayed within the city but some accompany the workers into the mine. Gavreil decided to go in see what he could find, os we found some local clothes similar to the workers.
He came back that evening with the packet I'm including. He said that they spotted him right off, but when he said he was just curious they were right welcoming. I couldn't get much out of him about what happened in there or what was going on. He just said they were doing a great work and gave him the packet to help explain what it was. I asked him what it was and Gavreil told me to read and I would understand. When I said I didn't have time for that and he should just tell me, he got furious, demanding that I read it. I realized then that he had turned and there was something in it that made him turn, cursed writing perhaps. I was forced to kill him and the struggle damaged the vox which is why I'm leaving this note. I burned the book a bit to hopefully make it safe to read, but I'm not taking any chances. Hopefully you'll know what to do with it.
Don't know how much Gavreil told them. I know you had things in place to prevent him form telling anyone about your lordship and hopefully they held. I know he told them about me though, they've been sending soldiers out searching, I can't make it to the city undetected. I'm not going to let them track me down like a rat though. I've stolen a load of mining explosives and I'm making my way into that mine. Hopefully I'll take them down with me, or at least do something about this 'great work'.
Bando looked around and saw the stairs leading out of the basement, ending in a metal door. She also noticed that the sound of the wind outside had dropped dramatically.
After finding nothing of use, Shoto leaned to read the letter alongside Kaylock.
After reading it, his gaze turned to Bando for a moment "So was the copy of the key there?? Its sure we could use it later on." said Shoto as his gaze turned towards their, looking if they missed something.
Waycrest read over the note, taking pict-captures of it with his helmet before placing it on the table. After that he looked at the parchment within, no doubt the cursed text that corrupted Gavreil. Choosing to hand it back to the Inquistors Interrogator, he locked the box once more before mag-locking it back to his hip.
After that he grabbed the note he had read, and crushed it. On the off-chance that the enemy did not know anything of the Inquisitors operations, Waycrest wanted to leave nothing for them to use if he was captured or killed, setting the data in his helm to terminate if his life-signs fail.
"Interrogator, come in. I have recovered the deadbox and have found a note and a burned piece of parchment, most likely tainted. Send pict-captures of the note to you now. i will hold onto the parchment and hand it to you for inspection when possible. It is obvious that whatever is within it, is something that should be investigated. I suspect it may be one of the reasons somany have been corrupted." Said Waycrest, transmitting to Martin over the secured Vox-Channel as the storm started to die down again.
"This *is* the copy. They took the master key with them if I read the letter right." Bando went towards the door and carefully checked if it was open, without actually opening it, though. As she did so, she held her pistol with her free hand.
Waycrest heard nothing but static on the vox. Listening intently he noticed that the sound of the wind and snow now sounded more distant and quiet.
As Kaylock read the letter, Bando answered Shoto's question by testing the door at the top of the stairs. Looking at it before testing it, Bando noticed the flecks of rust all over the surface of the door, but absent from the hinges which looked almost new, implying the door saw regular use. Testing the heavy metal handle on the door she found it wouldnt budge more than a few millimeters. Looking further she found the door had two locks, one on the handle, one nearly at head height. They looked reletively primative having no visible eletronic components.
As she was looking Martin's voice suddenly came over the vox lond enough to make the whole group jump. "-he hell? Shoto, Bando, and Kaylock, most of the interferance just stopped, but now I can't reach Waycrest. I can hardly even pick up his suit anymore, I know it's still active but that's about it." At this point his voice sounded a bit distant like he wasn't facing the mic or was farther away. "Jackson I'm going to peak my head outside and see what's going on with this storm. You're on vox, just write down what they say for when I get back. Shouldn't be more than a minute." There was a shuffling sound and then silence.
Waycrest at this point heard the Interrogator's voice in his head again. "Waycrest, whatever you were trying to tell me got cut off by this weird storm that's screwing with the vox. Just put your message at the forefront of your mind, say it out loud again if you have to. I'm still getting strage psychic reverberations from the storm so I'm going to see what's going on. What does it look like from the hills?"
Bando was about to simply blast the locks with her Laspistol before she reconsidered. She had no idea if someone else lived in this house and attracting attention seemed like something they should avoid at any cost.
"Kaylock" she called for the Voidborn, who seemed, in her eyes, like the most likely person to know how to open a lock without a key. "Take a look at these locks. Escaping the blizzard is pointless if we can't get out of this basement.
"But a'course, y'ladyship," Replied Kaylock, bowing exaggeratedly. "Surely, th' klepto plank's th' stiff for th' job, but a'course! As if ya ne'er met a shifty turfer..."
Removing a pair of miniature lascutters from his toolkit, Kaylock wedged the tool into the door seem, sliding it down to sever both of the locks' catches in a puff of acrid smoke. Their was surprisingly little sound.
Waycrest recieved the psychic message from the Interrogator, and brought the message he had sent just before to the forefront of his thoughts.
After he was sure the Interrogator got his message, Waycrest said "It appears that the storm is reaching an end from where i am. Apart from that, it would seem the area i am in is surrounded by abandoned buildings, most likely for mining purposes. I can see the city in the distance, am i to regroup with the team, or continue on my own?"
The locks, while sturdy, were little match for Kaylock's tools. Opening virtually soundlessly the door led into what looked like a building's lobby. It was empty with a receptionist's desk backed by a wall of mail cubbies and a pair of long couches against the walls. The glass doors were plastered with snow that seemed to be sliding down slowly. Kaylock, Bando, and Shoto could still hear the sound of the wind but it seemed much reduced, and in the distance other noises they couldn't quite make out.
Martin's voice returned to Waycrest's head. "Tainted writitng. Damn it that complicates things, especially depending on what Gav might have said. Under the Inquisitor's orders I set up some psychic safeguards in the last few team's heads that should have prevented them from talking, but if they had a witch of their own that complicates things." There was a pause for a moment. "Waycrest, I think I've figured out what's up with the vox. I'm outside and the storm and snow have formed a dome over the city. You said that from the mines it looks like the storms clearing up? This is some bad sorcery. They must be using some kind of ritual to influence the storm to do this. Getting in and out might be tricky..." There was another pause.
At this point everybody heard Martin's voice in their heads. "Listen up, this might be the last time I can do this, I'm getting a wicked headache. The storm has formed a dome over the city preventing long range communications. I'm likely going to have to tap into the citites electrical grid to get enough power to transmit out via the vox. The storms activity is likely due to a vile ritual preformed by a cult here in the city. This cult is likely where our target is. Find them, find him, kill them all. Unfortunetly Waycrest has found evidence of psycho-active writing, so don't pick up or look at anything written down if you can avoid it since it carries risk of corruption. Whatever this corrupt writitng, it must be pretty long or they would just be putting it up everywhere so signs should be ok."
At this point those hearing the Interogators voice began to feel tired in a strange way they couldn't quite understand. Waycrest guessed it was second hand exahustion from Martin. "The status of reinforcements is pretty bad. The Inquisitor has sent two more from his retinue to help us. They were dropped off outside the city just before the storm hit. Waycrest, the one headed for you should get in contact via vox. They are female by the name of Lexian Luithian, she'll give the code 'We are tools in his hands' and the counter sign is 'rightous fury unbound'. Once you meet up with her get in those mines, all targets are hostile. Kaylock, Shoto, and Bando, the one headed for you is a sanctioned xenos. You'll know him cause he's about the size of a ogryn. Not very stealthy but no one else could get through that storm. I'll co-ordinate over the local vox so figure out where you're going. Other reinforcements are the Astra Militarum regiments stationed here and their well over an hour out at best so we can't wait. Once again, all targets are hostile and we can't afford prisoners. If you can kill them quitely, good, if not, dead is all that matters. Martin out."
As far as Shoto could tell, they were in the lobby of whatever building this was. The only exits he saw from the room were the glass front door, and the hall leading off the left of the receptionist's desk, going towards the back of the building. As he looked, he, Bando, and Kaylock heard Martin again, this time over their vox. "Figured out where you're going yet?"
After waiting for several minutes, Waycrest's helmet picked out a heat signiture coming towards the building. As it approached the heat signiture stablized from a waver to a human figure. At this point, Waycrest could see the person withou thte helmets filters. Struggling through knee deep snow, they were clad in some sort of lightly powered armor sporting a scale pattern, likely female. In their hands was clutched a Bolter made for use by ordinary humans.
When the armored figure reached the bottom of the hill the abandoned manufactorum Waycrest was in, they stopped and looked around, raising a hand to their helmet. "We are tools in his hands!" Waycrest heard over the vox channel the team was set to, the tone indindcating that they were indeed female.
The only thing Shoto saw down the hall were a pair of doors. One, on the left, looked like the door to the basement, the other at the end of the hall was made of glass and had the words 'Emergency exit' printed on it in low gothic. On the upper wall near the glass door was a small box that looked to have a speaker attached. Probably some kind of alarm. Behind Shoto Bando could see the snow slowly sliding down the windows and doors.
Waycrest found it far easier to move through the snow than the other figure (likely because the snow was merely at shin height on him, not knee height). Half way down the slope they stopped, just a few feet apart. The armored woman looked Waycrest up and down before holstering her bolter on her back and making the sign of the aquila. Waycrest noticed a sword at her waist, a pattern he usually saw on the commisars of the Imperial Guard. "Good to meet up with you," she said as she made the sign of the aquila. "Name's Lexian Luithian, formerly a second lieutenant of the Imperial Guard, now bodyguard to his grace, the Inquisitor." Dropping her arms she retrieved her bolter. "You're Waycrest correct? Haven't worked with the God-Emperor's best since before the Inquisitor picked me up. What's the plan sir?"
Waycrest observed the woman before him for a few minutes, though to the woman it must have felt like an eternity being stared down by one of the Emperors Angels of Death. Once he was done, Waycrest adressed her, "We shall move into the City to re-group with the rest of the team, while attempting to avoid the enemy."
Shoto signaled to Bando and Kaylocke that he's going forward through the hall. Going through it carefully and slowly, Shoto examined every corner for anytjing that might jump him or anything dangerous.
Stoping before the door, Shoto looked up qt the small box to examine it better to see wxactly what it is.
Luithian nodded at Waycrest's order. "Right behind you sir."
The box was made out of a cheap plastic. Scrawled on the side in fading low gothic was the words 'pull cord for alarm.' dangeling from it was a thin rusty chain. This close to the door Shotoheard faint noises from outside. Bangs, sharp cracks, and a faint rumble.
Shoto raised his hand as he stopped before the door aftee he heard those noises, trying to signal others that they should stop also.
He then tried to peek slowly and see through the glass doors who or what is outside and possibly coming towards them right now.