Of Great and Terrible Things

By ThenDoctor, in Dark Heresy Play By Mail/Email

It is indeed the grim darkness of the 41st millennium, and for countless years the Imperium of Man has waged endless wars from all the enemies the galaxy is prepared to throw at them.

Enemies Without, the vile xenos species that would deny humanities manifest destiny.

Enemies Beyond, warping the reality that Mankind rightfully shapes with mind snapping terror.

But this particular tale, is of the Enemies Within. Those vile pustules that would deny the glory of the Emperor of Mankind's light and seek glory for themselves through darker means.

We begin this tale upon the Kappex Orbital Station, which orbits around Desoleum the manufacturing powerhouse of the Askellon Sector.

It is 3.911.867.M41 the time is 0600 standard Imperial.

Our three acolytes have been dropped off from the rogue trading vessels they were previously on for transport to the planet on their way to meet a liaison for their inquisitor to receive their first, of hopefully many, briefings of the mission they are going to be set on.


((This is a scene that is happening, but not one you are a part of.))

"Madame Inquisitor, I'm simply curious as to why you chose these three individuals."*

We see an albino female in simple ministorum garb eating a bit of corpse starch rations and drinking from a cup of recaff. She is speaking to a view screen in the chest of a servitor that is wired into some arcane machinery.

-"Well, the two are sisters, they'll be able to keep one another on their perspective paths, and Balthazar should be a...different point of view for them."

The view screen is incredibly dark, and so the features of the speaker are very difficult to make out, but the shape seems feminine, as the voice would betray as well. She is speaking impeccably perfect High Gothic in return.

"A witch hunter is a bit different than a Sororitas member, if you'll excuse my saying."

-"I do, that's the point, there's a fury and fire that they've yet to see. The...unpurified hatred that humanity can bring to the fore is different than what the white hot hatred that a Sororitas is demanded of creating. They will do well to be exposed to it. Forged by it."

"It's just that...well with what they'll be encountering. They haven't even completed their training yet, and the Order of the Watchful Eye is already weary of your involvement in this. The Imperium would benefit if this contract goes through."

-"Inellia, you must have faith...a little fire never hurt the nobility."

This last line is said with a tinge of regret in the voice.

The woman nods, understanding that the conversation is over, the viewscreen goes black, and she turns back to her recaff.

If this were a television show then the camera zooms into the recaff's black smooth surface.

*Translated from High Gothic


Both Ariel and Estelia's dataslates chime with the passing of the hour and the new thought of the day "Hope is the beginning of Unhappiness.".

How do we find our three acolytes? What are their morning routines?

((Now these double parentheses if you missed it earlier means that this sentence is Out Of Character, try to keep them relatively short. Secondarily still working out XP rewards, but I feel it will be best to reward them based on the ending of scenes like this one, and the difficulty encountered within them. As for spending, we'll wait until there is a narrative chance for downtime to relax and think back upon the experiences had and put them to use. Lastly I'd like one post from each of you before we get any double posts, that way I know we are all on the same page before we burn ourselves out in conversation.))

Estellia picks up the tablet and reads the thought of the day. Then she reads it again. Mustn't hesitate when Sister Superior . . . oh right. The girl put the dataslate down and knelt before the small shrine to the Emperor beside her bed. Even though she was not as supremely devout as Ariel, Estelia began each day in prayer. Well, except for that one time, but she had been so excited . . . and I suppose there had been that other time . . . and then there had been that one field training exercise . . .

Estelia began most days in prayer.

Next, she reverently lifted her shining twin Nanteik-pattern Laspistols - gifts from Sister Superior Helnea herself. The elderly Sister had given them to Estelia at her last live fire straining session before she had left the Convent Sanctorum. She began to carefully dissasemble and clean the weapons - oiling the firing mechanisms and making sure that she could see her reflection in the power pack's electrodes. She had not forgotten to clean her pistols every morning since she had got them, but, she reminder herself, she had remembered all of her prayer times since leaving the convent as well. She hoped Ariel had noticed that.

Today they would meet their Inquisitorial contact. Estelia felt a twinge of unease as she belted on her pistols. She was wearing sturdy nondescript clothes, tight fitting enough as to not be an impediment should she need to move quickly. The Inquisition was an organization to be feared, but she could already hear Ariel's admonition, something about trusting in the Emperor. Well, Estelia did trust in the Emperor to watch over her, but she could still feel the uncertainty in the pit of her stomach as she slid her Kendachi-pattern mono-knife, a gift from the head drill-abbot at the Schola Progenium where she had been raised, into the sheath on the outside of her right boot. She had gone back to wearing nothing but her combat boots as soon as she had lost sight of the Convent.

Over her clothes, Estelia draped a long heavy pilgrims robe. It would at least keep her from being instantly recognized as a Sororitas, and would conceal her weapons, though she would need to shed it should any fighting start. Finally, she tied the bag of dirt from the Convent gardens to her belt, the rope one on the outside of her vestments. She could feel the shard of ceramite in the dirt. That was a fragment that had fallen from the armour of a wounded sister as she was being rushed to the Convent's surgical facilities that she had picked up off the ground in the Hospitallers' wake. Drawing strength from the holy soil of Ophelia VII and the strength and bravery of a fallen Sister, Estelia walked out of her quarters with her head held high.

Clutching her prayer beads in her hand till it turned red.
Edited by Servant of Dante

((I realized I needed to make a new post to make the thread be marked as unread for you guys . . .))

Edited by Servant of Dante
In a small room not far away, another girl lazily rolled in the bed that had been provided, clutching a cushion of clean white linen with a slim arm the colour of milk chocolate -- not that she had ever eaten anything like it, just like she was not used to the almost decadent comfort her current accommodation offered, atl east when compared to the novices' simple dormitorium in the Convent Sanctorum. She was used to being waked by the sound of other aspiring Sororitas climbing out of metal-framed beds, talking, getting dressed. In the absence of noise and movement, replaced by soft bedding, the unthinkable had happened: Ariel overslept.

Certainly, it was not even an hour, but the novice - for the first time in her life unsupervised - felt shocked and guilty; an almost physical sense of dread as if any moment the Mistress of Novices could charge through the metal door, filled with righteous anger at her charge's neglectful attitude. Sitting up, Ariel tried to regain control of her feelings. What's done is done; she would face her punishment like a Sororitas and redeem herself later. Just like the two of them always had.

Her mind wandered to Estelia, a constant companion in her life as far as she could remember. She was not used to sleeping in a different room from her, and for a brief moment felt unusually alone. Banishing the thought, the still-naked girl stepped away from the bed and moved to a tiny shrine set up for guests like her, kneeling down for morning prayers. She was never truly alone, she reminded herself. The Emperor was with them, always.

Minutes later, Ariel began to dress, slipping into a rubberlike bodyglove. The reinforced synthetic material was not only waterproof but also offered minimal protection against kinetic and thermal shock. The suit was standard issue for the Sisterhood, worn by novice and Battle Sister alike, though usually in combination with dress robes or powered armour. As she pulled the zipper up to her neck, her hazel eyes glanced at the wide duster hanging from a hook on the wall. It looked old and dirty. Part of her recoiled at the thought of donning such a filthy piece of clothing, to hide her purity from the gaze of other Imperial citizens, but from the beginning she had known this assignment was unlike anything she had survived in the convent or the schola.

With a soft sigh, she donned her combat boots before retrieving a small casket stowed under her bed. Opening it and briefly scanning its contents, she first took a knife - a quality blade produced under license from an Askellion Forge world - before using both hands to lift up her true prize, a heavy Arbites III Lawgiver combat shotgun that seemed almost too large in the lithe girl's arms. Sitting down on the bed, the Lawgiver on her lap, she placed the tip of a booted foot on the case and tugged it a few centimeters closer, before leaning down and retrieving a piece of cleaning cloth as well as a small brush on a chain.

As she cleaned the weapon's chamber and barrel, a sense of pride returned. Estelia and she were allowed access to the convent's armoury to pick a weapon of their choice. Of course, Lia had denied outright, declaring her intention to honour Sister Superior Helnea by wielding her gift. Ariel on the other hand had taken her time walking the convent's arsenal, admiring the holy instruments of retribution put on display. Of course she was not as presumptuous as to ask for a weapon of the Holy Trinity, not to mention one of the rarer (and undoubtedly even more powerful) relics kept in shape by the attendant Sisters Pronatus, but she could not help but use this opportunity to step into an area usually off-limits to mere novices.

In the end, she had opted for the shotgun, appreciating its sturdiness and versatility -- not to mention the impression it would leave with any supposed heretics they might encounter on their sacred mission. Gently beginning to pick up a series of pellet rounds larger than her thumb and pushing them into the magazine tube, she wondered when her services would be called upon ... and exactly how.

In another room nearby, Balthazar Thorne knelt in prayer. He was a man in his early forties, and his black hair and close-trimmed beard were speckled with grey. He wore black robes adorned with silver embroidery and religious charms made from human bone -- the ceremonial garb of a priest from Thaur. Soft choral music issued from a small servo-skull in the corner, and the only illumination came from some candles and the early morning light. A small portable shrine constructed entirely of human bones lay before him, his copy of the Imperial Creed resting on its surface. It was opened to Catechism of Hate, Verse 1, but Balthazar did not need to read it; he knew all his catechisms by heart.

"What is the purpose of humanity? To carry out the Emperor's Will.

"What is the Emperor's Will? To unite the galaxy and spread the light of humankind to every dark place between the stars.

"How is humanity united? By standing together against the Heretic, the Alien and the Minions of the Warp.

"How must we stand? Unflinchingly, with weapons ready and minds unclouded by doubt or mercy. For there may be no peace while a single soul defies the Emperor's Will."

Balthazar finished his prayer and rose to his feet, grunting and stretching his limbs. He removed this ceremonial robe and donned a more austere black coat, its insides lined with protective flakweave. He checked his sturdy stub revolver, ensuring that each round was properly blessed before sliding it into his hip holster. He hefted his warhammer and slung it across his back, the grinning skull on its head gleaming in the early morning light. Finally, he hung the Imperial Creed from a short silver chain in its customary place at his left hip. He brushed his teeth quickly, then gathered his remaining belongings into his backpack. The servo-skull ceased its droning and hovered into the air beside him as he strode into the corridor.

Estelia closed the door to her wuarters behind her. The corridor was empty, except for an older man locking his door a couple dozen feet down the hall on the other side - oh! Estellia turned and locked the door to her room. It was an unfamiliar action. There where no locks within the Convent, one simply did not go where they should not be. When she turned back toward the corridor, the man was walking toward her. He to was wearing a black robe set with silver embroidery and bone . . .

Estelia pulled her dataslate from beneath her robes and checked it. The man was Blathazar Thorne, the priest assigned to her and Ariel. She had expected someone younger, but she could see a hardness in the man's eyes, hinting at a great strength which his form belied.

She walked to meet the man, making the sign of the Aquila, and saying,"Father Thorne, I am N. . . Estelia Dolan."

((I need to know if Balthazar returns the sign))

Edited by Servant of Dante
A few meters further, another door closed, and another young woman stepped onto the corridor. Her form was largely hidden beneath a wide, beige coat that seemed to be ten times its owner's age. Beneath its dirt-crusted fabric, a matte black suit, more closely clinging to her form, was barely visible in the dim lighting, with perhaps more equipment hidden beneath the outer layer of her clothing. More than her clothes or even her face, however, the heavy auto-shotgun in Ariel's arms would likely be the item drawing the most attention given its size.

Slowly but surely, each step subconsciously pre-calculated, the agent moved closer to the pair she had spotted in the corridor; an aged man carrying himself with the air of a warrior, and fellow novice Estelia. Once their novitiate was up and they would travel to Holy Terra to take their vows, their long path of companionship was likely to come to an end; the newly-made Sisters despatched to different convents depending on the Sisterhood's need and their own abilities. In a way, Ariel quietly enjoyed this assignment. It seemed like one final opportunity to stand with one another, and perhaps slay the Emperor's enemies together for the first and the last time. One should be thankful for small favours.

She did not speak as she took position about a meter behind Estelia's back, only the sound of her heavy boots betraying her presence -- in addition to what Balthazar's eyes could see.

Edited by Lynata

((Balthazar returns the sign of the Aquila. Dante, I'll write a detailed response post later, you can develop your dialog a bit more if you want))

Nodding as the Father returns her greeting, Estelia says, "There isn't much here about you, except that you are from Thaur. You have devoted your life to the Emperor, as any true Imperial should, and for that you have my respect. You are of the Ecclesiarchy, and so I trust the purity of your purpose, but, Father Thorne, I do not know you. Please, why are you here? For what reason have you been chosen?"

Hearing footsteps behind her, Estelia looks over her shoulder to see Ariel standing behind her. Looking from the girl's face to her weapon and back, with a smile, said, "I thought you would be the one telling me to hide my weapons. No one is going to buy that you're a pilgrim when you're holding that." Gesturing to her own cloak, she continued, still smiling, "If you're not going to at least try to hide it, I'm burning this thing right now. There's no way I can fight with it on."

Ariel allowed a brief frown to flit across her face. She probably would be able to hide the weapon beneath her duster, but not for long. At least at this moment, the novice did not appear to intend to do so. Instead, she lifted the heavy barrel a few inches before letting it drop again, the gesture accompanying her words.

"The Pronatus removed the Arbites' sigil", she explained, highlighting the weapon's lack of ornamentation before offering an alternate interpretation of her alias. "Perhaps I am a paid guard."

Her eyes now wandered from the other girl to the Thaurian, before she nodded her head in a deferential bow, acknowledging him. "Father."

The group hears a trundling of wheels upon the metal floor of the station, and the smell of machine incense floats stale upon the recycled air. A servitor wheels around the corner.

It is a torso transplanted upon a small set of treads. Within its torso cavity sits a variety of parcels, envelopes, and dataslates.

It rolls a respectful distance away from the group (around 3m) and states through a vox communicator that is behind a grill replacing its jaw.

"Illustrious guests of Kappex Orbital station. A missive has arrived for you."

It perfectly picks out an envelope of pristine vellum sealed with black wax. It holds it's hand out with the envelope in it awaiting one of you to take it.

((If one of you takes it the servitor will wait until dismissed.))


The seal of the envelope is an Inquisitorial "I"

The envelope reads as follows (assuming one of you picks it up and reads it.) in High Gothic.

"Meeting Room 4.10.C, 0700.

Burn after reading"

Glancing at the Father, Enelia takes the envelope from the servitor and reads its contents. She then hands it to Ariel and turns back to face the still silent priest.

The recipient slightly narrowed her brows as she accepted the missive, hazel eyes quickly scanning its contents. Passing the paper on to the priest, she raised her left arm and pulled back the duster's wide sleeve to reveal a bulky black chronometer slung around her wrist. It was an electrical apparatus inlaid with a maze of small wires; four small tubes featuring nine numericals each , the chrono's machine spirit causing the wires to glow a tangerine red in just the right combination to show an approximation of the current time. Ariel had synchronised the device with the station's terminals just after they had arrived.

"I suggest we leave for the meeting point right away", she remarked. "For is it not said: He who hesitates, is lost?"

Balthazar replies, his voice deep and smooth. "Indeed. The Emperor's blessings come swiftly to those who act decisively." He scans the letter, then places it within his robes to burn at the earliest opportunity.

"Let us heed our master's summons and make haste to the meeting point." He looks at Estelia with a slight smile. "And you are correct, some may find our weapons disconcerting. On Thaur, this hammer is the badge of office carried by some members of the priesthood, but to other Imperial citizens it looks like a large warhammer. I shall take measures to conceal it if required."

Edited by Covered in Weasels

Estelia nods to the Father and moves off toward the meeting place indicated by the letter, glancing behind her to see if Ariel is following her.

Edited by Servant of Dante

Balthazar returns Ariel's greeting as the group beings their walk. "You are Ariel, I presume. I am pleased to be in the company of devout Novices like yourself. I take it you two know each other?"

Edited by Covered in Weasels

The Kappex Orbital station is arranged into quarters, and those quarters divided into thirds. These thirds are numbered 1-12.

The first thing easily noticed on the station is simply the variety of languages that you don't pick up on. The cacophony is baffling to your ears, having only ever been exposed to High Gothic for your lives in the Ministorum or in attachment to the Adeptus.

The second thing noticed is simply the variety of people. Balthazar picks up easily on pilgrims, but even on the vessels you took to get to the station there weren't that many different people (proposing you exposed yourselves much to the new environment.) from the dregs of society to the upper crust of the nobility this stop gate to Desoleum is a slice of the variety the Imperium has to offer.

Then the smell, the recycled air of your cabins was merely stale, but now this is mingled in with the teeming masses of humanity. The smells that assail you are...interesting to say the least. Unwashed masses combined with perfumed royalty mingles and is regurgitated again while being lightly dusted by incense from Ministorum briers and Servo Skulls accompanying various tech wrights on their way about the station to the next work order's ritual.

Lastly we find the naval armsmen stationed to guard the orbital station both here to protect the passengers on the station and the station from the passengers if necessary. They scan the mass incessantly looking for anything out of the ordinary, while elsewhere in the station they interrogate for purpose of stay and proper identity verification.

((I'd like you all to roll a Sleight of Hand test (+10 for your various methods of concealment) to determine the difficulty of how the station armsmen might notice the weapons you are carrying.))

((I don't have my physical dice with me at the moment, so I'm using the following to roll a d100: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/dice/dice.htm

Let me know if I'm doing this wrong.

Target number: 35 (Ag) - 20 (untrained) + 10 (disguise) = 25

Roll: 43 (fail) ))

((I don't have my physical dice with me at the moment, so I'm using the following to roll a d100: http://www.wizards.com/dnd/dice/dice.htm

Let me know if I'm doing this wrong.

Target number: 35 (Ag) - 20 (untrained) + 10 (disguise) = 25

Roll: 43 (fail) ))

((Reads correct to me.))

((Rolling Sleight of Hand check, untrained with +10 bonus. TN 30-20+10=20. Rolled a 36 -> test failed with 2 DoF.))

As to be expected - as always - Ariel was not far behind, and indeed quickly closed the remaining distance to take up position next to the other novice as they walked. She felt the weight of her massive weapon with every step, but it felt good, reassuring, especially once the trio ventured into a more crowded passageway and found itself assailed by all sorts of sights, sound and smell. Outwardly maintaining her usual calm self, part of her wondered just what would await them in the days ahead, for it was virtually unheard of for a novice to leave the convent for a mission before her training was complete. As far as the novices knew, anyways.

The black-clad cleric walking with them chose this moment to address her, and the reminder that she was not to face this challenge alone seemed to calm her. Or perhaps it was just the distraction offered by Balthazar's question.

"For as long as we can think", she replied, then eyeing Estelia as if to see if the blonde girl wanted to add something.

Unaware that the authorities could possibly disapprove of Imperial citizens being armed for self-defence, Ariel made no attempt to conceal her weapon.

((Target Number: AGI 35 - 20 = 15 -- feel free to roll for me and bake the result into the next GM post))

Edited by Lynata

Distracted as she was by the strange sights and smells of the station, Estelia noticed Ariel's glance, and so said to Father Thorne, "Yes, we where raised at a Schola together, practically from birth. We've been together ever since, though sometimes Ariel doesn't like to admit she even knows my name . . ." The Novice trailed off as she watched a Tech-Priest float past them in the other direction, his legs replaced with mag-levs.

By way of response to Ariel's earlier question, Balthazar said, "Until our new master found me, I spent my whole life on Thaur. I laid the honored dead to rest among the tall trees and ossuaries of my world. Some believe this to be a grim task, but I never saw it that way; I rejoiced for the dead, because I knew that each soul returned to the Emperor in death. Granting a proper burial to His loyal subjects always set my mind at ease." He seemed lost in a happy memory for just a moment before returning to the present. The Sisters can tell that the cramped metal halls of the orbital make him uncomfortable.

Balthazar's face darkens as he continues. "But some do not allow the dead to rest easily. They seek to dredge up the remains of heroes past and use them as components in foul Warp-calling rituals. The most sanctified remains give heretics the greatest pleasure when desecrated.

"I discovered such heretics while performing my ordained duties, and when I brought their foul works to light I gave them no quarter. I rallied a throng of faithful citizens to arms and brought the Emperor's Wrath down upon the cultists. But I had acted too late, and by the time we brought the heretics to justice their foul Warpcraft had already defiled the bones beyond recovery. Cremation in the Kilns of Purification was the only option, and that night I swore never to rest as long as such heretics drew breath. I have never rested since that night, and I do not intend to rest until the Emperor calls me to his side."

Edited by Covered in Weasels

The acolytes pass easily enough through the station's masses, now out into the fray the station seems almost filled to capacity away from the staying rooms.

We see the party pass down towards the fourth quarter of the station, but as the party passes we notice (the audience) one of the armsmen looking very closely at the group when their backs are turned.. The armsmen is female dressed in trim grey flak armor that has the Askellon naval insignia on, a combat shotgun is strapped to her back and upon her belt are a few grenades whose purpose are currently unknown.

She whispers sub vocally into a microbead, "I've got eyes on a trio of armed individuals Ministorum by look, one combat shotgun and a hammer with some form of pneumatic enhancement, the other pistols I think under her robes. Heading to Quarter 4. Advise."

We don't hear a reply, but we do see her acknowledgement, and her eyes pass back over the other passengers making their ways elsewhere.

((I say another round on your guys end and we'll end up at the meeting room.))

((I'm not sure if we're supposed to roll for Slight of Hand again, but just in case: Target = 25 (like last time) Roll = 41 (fail) ))

"It is unfortunate that such defilers exist, but since they do, the Imperium is indebted to you and others like you who seek out and destroy such heretics."