Voices in the Shadows

Trooper de Lupa Log

Day one in service to the Holy Ordos.

I sit in the back of the shuttle carrier, listening to the thrum and whine of the engines as we enter the atmosphere. The deck begins to shake with the pressure of re-entry. I glance at the figure standing across from me chatting easily with the men around him. The self-proclaimed ‘Rogue trader’ Murat. He was young, too young to be a captain of a ship. I guessed his height to be around 6’1" – much taller than myself. He was flamboyantly dressed, with a main of yellow hair cascading down past his shoulders. A self assured smirk seemed constantly fixed to his face. But beneath this facade I could see something else. A slight subconscious lean into the metal surface of the hangar wall, away from the large open space between us. This is indicative of low level agoraphobia typical in hivers from the sub-hand. His narrow hips and broad shoulders revealed that he favoured fighting with a sword. When he spoke, his eyes narrowed slightly as if searching for leverage, an ideal trait in a pirate. He was precisely the type of person I would usually avoid. I figured he or someone he dealt with owed the Holy Ordos and he was here to make good on that. I can understand now why I was called in.

I was honoured of course. To be called upon by the inquisition was an opportunity few in the God-Emperors Imperium would ever be given. I had to wonder why me though. I was a trooper for run of the mill arbiter contingent. Sure, I was a good shot and a good trooper, but a trooper nonetheless.

Upon landing at camp bulldog, we were briefed by a gruff, grizzled guard sergeant referred to a ‘Mongrel’ an unflattering, but apparently fitting moniker. He explained the situation on the ground and that he’d been asked to provide us with the necessary pilot and carrier that would be able to slink us closer undetected to our target: a forge complex where a high ranking Ordos member was stranded. After the brief Murat made his leave to go and inebriate himself on the local mess hall, while I headed for the armoury.

Comments

Intel on the planet indicated dense and aggressive flora and fauna. My assessment of this information led me to believe that I had to procure a standard mark flamethrower and a few canisters of promethium. The quartermaster was happy to oblige but not without my parting of a decent amount of thrones. It appears agents of the inquisition get no specific benefits in an active war zone. I met Murat in agitated converse with the camp Sergeant. I arrived just as Murat made an ill-judged attempt upon the sergeants person. I intervened not so much for the sake of Murat, who was squaring up to a veteran officer of about his height and a good 20 kilograms heavier by my estimation. No, I intervened because we had a mission, and Murat being in the cells would slow down progress.

After this altercation I asked Murat as to why he felt the need to try and strike down an officer. Murat merely responded that the sergeant had been ‘uncooperative’ and headed off to the hangar. It is here that I will take a short break in my prose to explain that I am a loyal servant of the Emperor. I joined the local PDF as soon as I could, and although I come from a rather privileged background, I took it upon myself to do more for my beloved imperium. I worked hard as an arbitrator, filled all my quotas and passed all exams with flying colours. I spend my life protecting the imperium from its more unsavoury characters. This is why I am now at a loss to explain the next few minutes before our insertion. All I know is, Murat procured some extra, exotic arms and munitions, two eager if not entirely presentable pilots, and went off to explain the complicated workings of his rather outlandish side arm to the camp sergeant. Murat assured me that this was all above the board and legal. For the sake of the mission, I chose to believe him.

The insertion point was, for want of a better word: a fug-hole. The dense foliage ahead of us made visibility and spatial awareness down to minimum, and the essential but rudimentary harsh environment gear compounded this. I, Murat and our two pilots forged our way through the canopy in the direction we were told that the forge lay. After a short, slightly impeded treck I caught sight of a flickering light in the jungle. As I approached, I could see that the path diverged. One fork continued in the direction we were supposed to follow, the other led in the direction of the strange luminescence. I signalled to Murat who sauntered over, flanked by the two pilots. I outlined my plan to approach the light, with he and his men providing cover. I think that the subtler nuances of tactics may have eluded him, judging by the faintly bored expression he wore. Regardless I hoped he grasped the situation and a general understanding of what I expected from him. The hope turned out to be in vain.

I approached with caution, pump action mkIV ‘diomecles pattern’ shotgun held at the ready, however I was so absorbed by the light that I was approaching that I lost my footing, Miss Fired and then swore loudly. Rookie mistake. The Grotz in the clearing heard my stumble and panicked. One of them managed to graze my left knee with a wild shot, unbelievably followed by Murat and his men, stumbling behind me, opening fire and catching me with a searing bolt of las in the same leg! This time I am not ashamed to say that I hit the dirt, in considerable pain. Regardless, I remembered my combat training, took a deep breath and opened fire upon the gretchin. A few shells and scattered goblinoid limb parts later and the area was clear. It was then Murat finally bumbled up behind me and after seeing my singed leg he hurriedly called one of the pilots with a medi kit to apply a field dressing. Fugging gak head.

Limping into the clearing I could see the prone form of a guardsman. I approached and checked his pulse while Murat went about scavenging the corpses. I couldn’t tell if the guardsman was breathing or feel any pulse, so I called the pilot with the medi kit to inspect. Eventually the guardsman was sat upright, blearily looking up at us. He was slightly taller than myself, I could see by his build that he had served in the guard for several cycles, but the dirty coveralls alluded to his profession as a field medicae. Beneath a dirt encrusted rebreather I could see that he was entirely bald, with piercing blue eyes that stared out distrust fully, from a handsome, if slightly starved face. Wherever he had come from, he’d been travelling alone for quite some time, and not without nourishment. That would mean it wasn’t a planned journey. I offered my hand and he took it, standing and introducing himself simply as ‘The Doc’. It was to my surprise that when I identified myself as ‘trooper’ Flavian De Lupa, he recoiled slightly. This and previous information led me to believe that he may have been a deserter but before I could inquire further, Murat swaggered over, apparently satisfied that the Grotz bore nothing of value and began blathering away at the injured guardsman. Fugging Gak head.

Trooper de Lupa Log
 

After a brief discussion as to whether or not we should return to the path and follow the other fork or cut straight through the dense foliage, we moved on. Taking point, I crept down the path. It soon became clear that we were not alone. Dropping to the ground and rolling, I caught sight of the large reptilian creature looming behind me. Local mission intel indicates that is was a Saurian whip tail: genus: reptilus mandragoras, exceptionally vicious, with multiple prehensile whip-like tails, in summary – terminal target. One shot to its exposed chest cavity is enough. An alarmed shout from the Doc alerted me to a second Saurian whiptail who had attacked him. Doc’s shot grazed the creature, Mine didn’t. The creature collapsed, missing half it’s face. To my surprise, the Doc took this badly, confronting me for stealing his kill. He reeked of sweat and fear pheromones, so I attributed his strange response to the adrenaline. We were shortly joined by a disheveled Murat and his two shaken and injured compatriots. From there appearance I assumed that they had been set upon by several of the beasts, Murat replied that there had been only one of the beasts. Fugging Gak head.

After a short while silently gliding along the path, we came to a yet another fork in the road. The right path was clearly less trodden than the left, so I advised the team to head left. Half way down the path I realised I was no longer being followed. At the sound of gun shots, I raced back down to the fork and took the right path, forcing my injured leg to carry me as fast as possible. A few yards down the path I found my team. All of them had been ensnared by the indigenous ‘snare vines’ plants similar to the ‘creeper’ which would snake tendrils around unprotected limbs and haul the victim up into a waiting maw to be digested for several months. Deciding that this was an ignorable fate even for this bunch, I drew the Flamer I had brought in from the camp and doused the vine in promethium. With a horrible screech, the vines burnt and released their grip on the team. Indicating that we should follow the initial path that I had indicated, I head off once more in what I was sure was the correct direction. Once more the team did not follow. Fugging Gak heads.

Trooper de Lupa Log
 

Day two,

We were attacked by an Ork in the later hours of the evening, much to our dismay. The thing came howling, as big as a sapient from outer Hesperra and twice as ferocious. Matted hair clung to an enlarged face, tusks sprouted from a mouth that reeked of rotting mushrooms. We had been warned of the possibility of seeing a fully matured ork this close to the main battle line, but even with the mission brief, we were ill prepared. It’s charge carried it into our group, smashing one of the pilots into the undergrowth and halting Murat’s heroic countercharge with a crushing backhand. In sheer desperation the last pilot let off a hallucinogen grenade, i don’t fully understand what the effects must have been but its a fair comment to say that both the pilot and the ork were incapacitated. I found the former giggling to himself in the undergrowth while he Doc planted three shotgun rounds into the downed Orks chest before seeing to the wounded. Both were alive but both had broken ribs, the pilot had a punctured lung. Hopefully Murat has learnt the price if his hubris. Fugging Gak head.

After an uneventful night camped under the looming shadow of our destination, we packed up and approached the forge where Inquisitor Constantine was said to be. The entrance to the forge itself seemed to be comprised of an annexed cathedral. I took point again and pushed open the fractured main door. Inside there was gloom and smallest sound of machinery blinking in protest somewhere further in. I rounded the corner into the main chapel and saw the remnants of a once proud celebration of the God-Emperor, blessed be He. It was small, evidently used for the forge workers who must have lived and worked in the forge before the invasion. To my left were the decayed and rusting remains of two servitors, who had apparently collided in mind lock and been left to rot. Rows of pews in scant better repair drew our attention to the main altar where an effigy of some sad, forgotten saint stood defiantly against time and disuse. My attention was drawn by two robed figures huddled over a console at the back of the chamber. I turned to the team and saw that Doc had already seen the couple and signalled for the two pilots to flank our position. I raised my stub pistol and called out to the robed figures, hoping that we were not about to find ourselves in another fight.

Trooper de Lupa Log
 

The two figures turned out to be a Cleric and Tech-priest, the latter was working on a console whilst the other hovered nervously over the Tech-priests shoulder. As I invoked the Emperor, the Cleric spun round, his agitation plain. He was well dressed, obviously wealthy, of middling height and weight, dark hair, swathed in tatty robes. lines around his eyes and mouth indicated he hadn’t slept well for a while, and the sallowness of his skin suggested he hadn’t eaten properly for a while too. he was immediately suspicious of our band, and I regretted holding the loaded pistol aimed at his chest. As I lowered my weapon, Murat took his chance to swagger in and unleash a diatribe on none-specific but vehement insults. The Cleric obviously took offence and I spent the next moments trying to mediate with my band and people I had only just met. The Tech-priest seemed ignorant of our presence throughout this, and I wondered whether or not he had been somehow rendered down to nothing more than a vaguely autonomous servitor, or if he was just some exemplar of his castes perpetual disdain for the more ‘fleshy’ denizens of the Imperium.

It seemed that both of the survivors had need to enter the inner forge; the Cleric had a personal shuttle designed for the now former Pontificate or Abbot of this world to be taken into orbit for safety, whereas the Tech-priest merely seemed curious as to the inner workings of the forge. As Murat tried him charming, democratic best to coerce the Cleric into his service, the Tech-priest walked away from the console to a hidden alcove, retrieved some items including an older mark Chainsword and then settled back down infringing of the terminal. The Doc saw this behaviour and attempted to barter with the Adept. Whether this would be successful or not had to wait as Murat had seemingly insulted the Cleric’s person, or faith, or personal hygiene or some other cutting remark which had enraged the Cleric to the point of drawing a weapon. Murat and his hired guns did likewise and at this point, I got a little incensed.

The boom of a voice carrying the authority of those born into it, and the weight of a drill sergeant eyeing up another batch of recruits into the PDF all but knocked the group to the ground. I stood over them, fairly glowering and explained that we had a mission to enter the centre of the forge and that these good people of the imperium, who so far had not offered us any real threat would like to gain entrance to the forge too. That both of our objectives were the same led me to conclude that two more bodies on our mission would cause no irrevocable ill, and that we should head out together. At this precise moment, as if on queue, the Adept Tech-Priest cracked the code to open the door leading to the forge and swept inside. The Cleric, and mercenary pilots followed, suitably cowed and Murat sauntered sulkily after them. The Doc turned to me, stood mere inches from me and jutted his lower jaw forward in what was unmistakably a challenge. I was having none of it. I simply glowered him until he took his leave. Sighing, I followed them inside. Fugging Gak-Heads.

Trooper de Lupa Log
Khollen

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