Post by brutusaurelius on Jun 13, 2017 13:49:38 GMT
This thread will be to document a campaign played between myself and Kris DETERMINATION over roll20. The campaign will be his Battle Sisters versus my Soul Snatcher cult. In addition to battle reoports, this thread will be used to document the warbands and their progress, and will host write-ups for each mission written after the fact, from in-character perspectives.
In addition, we will be calling wraithshards, which are the points used to win the campaign, Planetary Influence. We will also be using a houserule, where the first time normal characters roll a Dead or the Lad's Got Talent results when checking for casualties, they get to roll on the Injury or Talent table instead, after this they can die or get extra XP as normal. This is mainly because we want this campaign to be narrative and for the characters in the warband to each feel more unique, not just the Heroes.
Post by brutusaurelius on Jun 13, 2017 13:49:53 GMT
Setting and state of Calaxia:
Calaxia is a large population center in the God-Queen's Queendom. It is close to its sun, and as such tends to have a higher average temperature than that of Old Earth. The vast majority of its billions of faithful souls live in the far latitudes, where the temperature is more forgiving. The equatorial regions are home to vast solar arrays, soaking up the energy pumped out by Calaxia's home star, powering most of the world. Just outside of the equatorial regions are large rainforests, with trees and species native to Calaxia and Earth alike. In the subtropical areas, the consistant warmth and sunlight make agriculture easy year round, and supplies most of the food for the massive city sprawls in the farther latitudes.
Calaxia was first settled when humans first came to the Sirius sector, it has grown to be home to billions. Notably, it was one of the first worlds to declare seccession from the God-King's rule to join the God-Queen's side. Because of this willingness to follow her, the faith of its people, and the efforts of the Psychic Lyceums in providing trained psychics for the her forces, the God-Queen had personally visited the world, and the site of her arrival has since become a temple and place of pilgimage for many. However, recent reports of psychic disturbances and people going missing has warranted a visit and investigation from the God-Queen's Inquisition.
Unknown psychic energies have cut off all external communication. Unknown number of defensive garrisons have turned traitor. Naval ships are firing on one another in orbit. Calaxia is now under marshal law.
Traitor garrisons and cultist forces have seized several large hab blocks and disappearance rate of citizens in unoccupied hab blocks has increased. Curfew is in effect. Still no word from offworld military forces.
Recent reports show that the Battle Sisters have opened up a much needed new front, blasting their way into the undercity tunnels, and slowly but surely gaining ground against fierce resistance.
Vera fired a burst at the now moved Astrid, rolling 5, 6, and 2 to hit, scoring 2 hits. A 6 and a 4 to wound against a 5+. One of them strikes true, and stuns Astrid.
Lucelia moves up to take the point Astrid now can't hold for a bit.
Vaxios casts a spell on a roll of a 3 to give Jarus fast, and then holds.
Hex moves up and gets closer to VEra.
Jarus then charges Lecuelia, rolling a 2 and 3, with a 3+ to hit. He succeeds, and rolls a 5 on a 3+ to wound. Lucelia is stunned.
Mother activates, getting 3 on her Psychic Roll. Using Psychic Speed, she charges Jarus and rolls 2, 5, 1, 4, and 2 with a 3+ to hit. She then rolls 3 and 4 on a 2+ to wound, and Jarus is knocked out. Mother scores a Knock Out (2 and 3 Injury Rolls)!
Xan moves up to shoot at the stunned Lucy, and manages to hit on a 6, knocking her out.
Marianna moves up and shoots at Xan, rolling snake eyes.
Markus and Elizabeth both move up a bit, ending the turn.
A Storm Trooper comes out of nowhere to help the Cult! Rolled a 6 to trigger a random event, and rolled 34 for a result. The Cult won the roll off (3 to 2) and get a friend.
Laura ambushes in with a roll of a 5, being close to some vunerable Sisters.
Laura charges mother, but rolls snake eyes. Mother swings back with a 3+ to hit, and gets 6 and 2. Her 2+ to wound comes through with a 5, and Laura rolls a 6 and gets Stunned.
Astrid Idles to get back up on her feet.
Vera then fires on the now standing Astrid with 5+ to hit, but rolls 1, 1, and 3 and misses.
Elizabeth flies over with Agile (+1.5" Movement) and shoots at Markus. She rolls 12 shots with her flame pistols, and hits 6 times. She then wound 4 times and Markus succeeds one Regen Roll. Then Markus gets 5, 1, and 5 for his injuries and is knocked out. Elizabeth Scores a Knockout!
Vaxios gathers his psychic powers and rolls a 2, giving Xan a speed boost. He then shoots at Elizabeth with his pistol, but rolls a 3 on a 4+.
Mother activates, but gets a 1 on her Psychic roll. So, instead of fighting Xan, she instead kicks Laura while she's down and knocks her out. Mother scores a knockout!
Xan charges Elizabeth, and with a 2+ to hit, manages to get a 1 and a 2. He rolls a 6 to wound on a 6+, and Elizabeth rolls a 1 on the injury and is knocked out. Xan scores a Knockout!
Hex charges the Cult's new friend, and rolls 2 on Furious, and 3, 3 on her CCW rolls. She manages one wound with a 6 and a 2 against a 4+. The Merc rolls a 1 and is knocked out! Hex scores a Knockout!
Marianna fires at Xan, scores 2 hits with a 4 and 6 on a 4+. 4+ to wound and she gets a 5 and 2. Xan rolls for injury and gets a 2, getting Knocked Out. Marianna Scores a Knockout!
At the beginning of the round, a random event occurs with a roll of a 6. 65 was roll, random free Planetary Influence. We rolled off, and the Cult won with 6 to 4.
Vaxios passes his 4+ Rout Test on a 5, and Vera does the same with a 4+ and getting a 4.
Vera moves and shoots at Hex with a 5+, getting 3, 2, and 5 to score a hit. With 2+ to wound, Hex is down with a roll of a 3. Hex gets 5 on her injury roll, and is stunned.
Astrid moves up, and misses with a 2 with her pistol.
Vaxios activates, and gets 3 on his Psychic roll. He casts Psychic Might on himself. He fails his fear check, getting -1 to melee rolls. Thanks to Ferocious, he still swings with a 4+, and rolls 4 and 4. 3+ to wound, and he gets 1 success. Astrid is knocked out.
Mother gets a 5 on her Psychic roll, and gets Psychic Speed before charging Vaxios. She swings with a 3+ and gets 2, 4, 3, 2, and 6. With her 3 hits at 2+ to wound, she manages three wounds, and injures Vaxios. He rolls a 1 and is knocked out. Mother Scores a Hero Knockout!
The Cult concedes.
Elizabeth and Lucy roll a 5 and 2 respectively for their post battle injuries. Both are fine.
Jarus gets a 6 and then 5, getting the special skill Sneaky. Markus also gets a 6, and gets Sure Foot. Both now can't get new skills this way, only +1 XP.
Sisters roll 2 on their Planetary influence, maintaining a 1 point lead over the Cultists. Then a gain of 10Pts for the objective to 50% of the army active.
Cult gets 50Pts for their secret objective, casting a spell every round, and losing.
Hex activates first, charging Jarus. She rolled 3 to wound with Impact(1), to which Jarus got a stun. However, her Furious check of 4 got her another hit, but failed to wound. A 2 and a 6 to hit got her another wound on a 4. Jarus got a 2 and was knocked out. Hex scores a knockout! Sisters Secret Objective (6) achieved.
Markus then charged Hex, and while failing a fear check, he managed a hit with a 5 and 6, and wounding with a 2 and 6. Hex rolled snake eyes and is knocked out. Markus scores a Knockout!
Mother gets 5 on her Psychic roll, and flame breath's Markus, hitting 3 times and wounding once, causing him to be stunned. Then a well placed charge automatically knocked him out. Mother scores a Knockout!
Vaxios casts a spell with a 1 and 2, casting Fast on the freshly upgraded Xan, preparing to charge mother Next turn. He positions on the point.
Astrid rushed forward towards Vera.
Xan charges Mother, roll on a 3+ and getting 6 and 1, hitting his Rending on a 4. Mother goes down to 0 and Xan scores a knockout!
Lucelia rushes up with Astrid.
Vera moves and fires on Astrid, scoring a hit with a 5 but not penetrating the 6+ armor. Vera also grabs the treasure chest.
Marianna moves up towards her Sisters, and Elizabeth grabs a point and rushes Vera.
Round 1 end Vaxios goes first, getting 4 and 6 for his Psychic rolls. He gets Elizabeth to fire on Astrid, scoring 4/6 hits with the flamethrower, and wounding her not once but twice on Def 6+ rolls. She managed to get a 3 and 5, and only gets stunned. He then shoots Astrid to try and knock her out while stunned, but misses on a 4+/1/0 (Tohit/rolls/successes).
Elizabeth moves up towards Vera, with her dual flame pistols. She gets 3+/6,6,4,4,3,2,1,1,5,2,1/6 on her rolls, and 3+/6,2,3,1,1,5/3 On her wounds, scoring a Stun on Vera who got a 5 on her injury.
Xan then moves up, and rolls 4+/5/1 with his pistol, scoring a knockout against the prone Astrid. Xan scores a Knockout!
Lucelia then moves up and fires on Vaxios with her flamthrower, rolling 2+/1,6,4,4,1,3/4, with 3+/5,5,1,5 /3to wound. Vaxios manages a 5 on his injury roll and is stunned.
Vera activates to get out of Stun and idles.
Marianna then fires on Xan, with 4+/4,1/1 to hit, and 5+/6/1 to wound. Xan rolls and gets stunned with a 4. Round 3
2 on Random event, nothing happens. Laura fails to ambush on a 2.
Marianna, very headstrong as she is, rolls morale to avoid routing, and fails. 2+/1/0 and routs.
Lucelia stays with a 4+/6/1.
Elizabeth stays with a 3+/6/1.
Vera fires on on Elizabeth with a 5+/6,6,4/2. To wound, she manages 5+/5,4/1. Elizabeth is knocked out with an injury of 1. Vera scores a Knockout!
Lucelia charges the stunned Vaxios and knocks him out. Lucelia scores a knockout!
Xan idles to remove his stun. Round 4
Laura manages to ambush in automatically, and Sisters roll 5 to scatter her.
Lucelia holds on with morale of 4+/4/1.
Xan routs with 4+/1/0.
Vera holds with 4+/4/1.
Laura routs with 4+/2/0.
What ensues from here is a silly bit of Vera and Lucelia exchanging blows for two rounds, before Lucelia finally manages to secure a Sister's victory.
Calaxia. It was a familiar sight. In the years that she'd been gone, it had not changed much. The dense cities had expanded little, relative to her astronomical view of the planet. She was sure there were kilometers upon kilometers of new streets, dense apartment complexes, and millions of new people. The residential skyscrapers pierced through the cloud cover in many places, while the tropical jungles looked at beautiful as ever. The glossy blackness of the solar arrays had grown the most, with nearly half of Calaxia's deserts overtaken for the hefty energy requirements of the populace.
More familiar than all of this was the gentle psychic buzz that permeated the area. This brought a smile to her face. The Psychic Lyceums of Calaxia were a boon to the God-Queen, one of the few sources of proper psychic education in her small domain, and had been one of the first planets to follow her leadership after her defection from the False King. After one of the God-Queen's personal visits to thank the Lyceums for their faith, it had even become a place of Pilgrimage for God-Queen worshippers.
To the Inquisitor, however, it was home. She had been born on the planet below her; from its people she had come forth, and in the Lyceums she had been forged. At an early age, she was selected for the God-Queen's Inquisition, and thirty years ago, had made her leave from her home planet and ventured into the stars to do her duty.
Much blood had been spilled in her wake; from human, demon, and alien alike. She dutifully vanquished the God-Queen's enemies wherever she went, routing out threats to their burgeoning empire and putting an end to blasphemers wherever they might spring up. But it had not been all bloodshed. No. She had three daughters and two-step daughters to attest to that. They lost their father at an early age, but despite her duties, she had taken the time to raise them properly. Proper believers in the God-Queen.
"Mother, we're ready to make planetfall."
Mother turned, and spotted one of her daughters. After taking on the God-Queen's enhancements, all of her daughters had grown to be a head and a half taller than her, but Lucelia, her eldest, was the largest of the bunch.
"How long until we make for landing?"
"About an hour, according to the pilot, Mother."
"Good. Please inform your Sisters of this, Lucelia, and have them report to the shuttle. We have much work ahead of us."
Lucelia bowed to her mother respectfully, and turned to fetch her Sisters. If only it had been under different circumstances that she could show her children her homeworld. Reports of an unknown cult and strange psychic disturbances had brought an order to her doorstep. She was to bring her daughters with her to find the cause of this, assess the danger, and if possible, eliminate it, or at least report back for reinforcements.
A sigh escaped her lips as she traveled towards her shuttle. The God-Queen's work was never done.
The smell of burnt incense filled the underground temple, with the smell of burnt wax and open flames filling in the gaps of the first smell. Vaxios, the newest priest of the Church of Renewal, had just finished his morning prayers, along with some of his brothers and sisters. One of the older priests had led the service, where they had offered up their praise and thanks to the Patriarch and his fellow divine messengers.
Calaxia, as a whole, had yet to know the divine nature of the Patriarch and the Star Gods he represented. The heavily populated world was one of the False Goddess’s domain, and a visit by the False Goddess had made the people of this world especially fanatic. However, with every day the Church grew. New members were born, or were converted by their agents in the “holy” site that millions visited every day, and yet more were divined by the older Priests to be important in some way, and sent junior priests and others of the Church to retrieve the future member.
One of the senior priests had told Vaxios the night before that he was to retrieve one of those future members, with some fellow Acolytes of the Church, who had been blessed by the Patriarch and his fellow messengers a few years before. Acolyte Jarus and Acolyte Xan were blessed with angelic features. Cool purple skin, an extra arm, and the beautiful bladed tendrils that extended from Xan’s left and third arms were all gifts of the messengers of the Star Gods. Xan, being the senior of the three of them, was also bestowed the additional honor of carrying the Church’s emblem, raised high on a banner that was strapped to his back. Finally, Markus would be sent along with them. The hulking man had been a miner, before the cult freed him and his fellows of their backbreaking labor, and bestowed the gifts of the Star Gods upon them. His might and his hammer would be instrumental in the eventual struggle to liberate this world. For now, however, he was pleased to serve in any way he could.
Soon, they would depart to undertake their holy mission. They would depart under cover of night, and another face would join the Cult, and as with every new member, they would grow closer to being able to liberate Calaxia, summon the Star Gods, and be reborn as Star Gods themselves.
The investigations were revealing something... troublesome. Reports of vile mutations and cult-like behavior had made its way to the Inquisitor's ears. While she was not so religiously incensed as to dole out punishment for a missed sermon, she knew the dangers that could come from these sorts of practices. It was up to her and her daughters now to properly assess just how much of a danger this cult was, if it even existed at all.
The sound of a rocket engine alerted her to an approaching presence. Looking up, she saw her youngest, Elizabeth, descending from up above.
"What have you to report?" She asked, looking up at her daughter.
"It seems like the reports from the commoners are proving true. I witnessed a conversion by a strange, mutant man. It escalated into an abduction when one of the converts chose to remain pure. There were too many to risk engagement." The superhuman reported.
"You chose your action wisely. Where did this happen?"
"A recreational area. A park, I believe it's called."
Had she forgotten such practices of commoners to fail to teach her daughters? Perhaps she had. "Very well. Astrid and Sigrid are guarding the shuttle. Fetch them. I will meet you at the park. Bring your armaments."
"As you command, Mother." Elizabeth bowed before flying off towards the shuttle.
-------------- "We are arriving at the park. Spread out." She commanded, and her daughters obeyed.
Elizabeth, who despite being the youngest, had proven the most capable with her jetpack among her sisters, and Lucelia, the eldest and largest among them, made their way towards an outcropping of bushes to the west of some small buildings that literred the edge of the park. The brush was dense, and would provide cover should it be required if their quarry came upon them soon. Lucelia, however, did not anticipate that thse same areas would hold more of the rainwater that had showered before their arrival on the planet, and she slipped, nearly falling to the mud. If not for Elizabeth catching her, that is exactly what would have happened. The taller Sister grumbled, knowing she now owed her little sister a bottle.
Sigrid, one of the stepdaughters, twin sister to Astrid, took the position of rearguard, securing their main line of retreat. Rare was such a thing to occur, but it was still vital in the circumstances that called for it. Astrid, meanwhile, took to some of the bushes to the east, keeping silent and ever vigilant.
Marianna took a close look inside of one of the nearby hovels that dotted the edge of the park, and upon noticing the insides abandoned, smashed the lock with the butt of her precious Storm Rifle and went inside, seeking out any signs of their enemy. The barest hint of a putrid mass of flesh through the window was her only warning to the presence of the enemy before they assaulted her. She supressed a scream of agony as her mind was assaulted with images of vicious mutants meant to drive her mad. It had almost worked, too, until she found her focus on a single image: The face of the God-Queen herself. A single, pure focus that overrode everything else, and cemented her in the realm of sanity. Her fury mounted as the back door of the hovel burst open, showering the room with splinters, and a disgusting mutated form attacked her with a shimmering blade.
The strikes came a hair's bredth away from skewering her, but a well timed backstep saved her life. With the back of her gun, she swung hard, and while the blow failed to connect, it did give her the much needed distance she needed to loose a volley of shots into her attacker, with one of the rounds striking a vital area. The sound of a familiar, familial jetpack alerted her to an encroaching ally, but she could not let this distract her. There were the God-Queen's foes to slay.
A gout of flame alerted her to more approaching enemies, one attempting to roast her alive. But by the God-Queen's will the weapon malfunctioned, saving her from a painful stay in a hospitium. She would pray doubly tonight. With her attention toward the flame, another of the vile mutants, with terrible whips and a flag bearing blasphemous idolatry rushed toward her. As the thing raised its horrid appendages, with a reaction provided by her genetic enhancements, she smashed the end of her rifle down upon the creature's head, withering its attempted strike.
But all was not over yet, as yet another beast thought to assault her. Staying fast, she raised her rifle to fire, but the twisted third arm the creature bored also carried a crackling hammer that she was a fraction of a second too late to notice. The first strike knocked her gun aside, and the second finally struck. Her armor barely held as the energy hammer sought to devasted her innards, and she was filled with a deep sense of nausea as her organs sought to right themselves. But she was still alive.
Mother had watched in grave fury as her daughter was assaulted, but felt a point of pride at how well she was handling herself. As she should. Psychic might coursed through her body, and the purifying flame of the God-Queen sprang into existance, searing against the flesh of the one she could sense a mutated psychic presence. Once her psychic assault abated, she launched herself at him, but despite the numerous wounds he now suffered, her blow was parried, and his sword dug its way through her armor and deep into her abdomen.
She clenched her teeth as the blade was retracted, and its psychic enegies refueled as he came at her with another swing. But she would not allow it. Her own combat knife lashed out and deflecting the incoming blade and chipping her weapon. In the same motion, her free hand let loose, and a power armored fist slammed into the magelings stomach, rendering him inert for the time being.
"My daughters, hold fast! We are driving them back. Relent not in the face of our enemies!" She shouted into her broadcaster, earning the sounds of war cries from her children.
Her form started to buzz and shift as her psychic might flowed through her form. Ignoring the pain as much as she could, she rushed at the mutant toting the flame pistol that she had seen before, her now serrated blade striking true. Shallow gouts in his flesh spawned from her vicious assault, and a pommel strike acted as the finishing blow. She raised her blade, ready to strike down the fool, when a hammer entered her vision.
Elizabeth landed on a nearby roof just in time to see the Inquisitor being smashed aside. For a moment, she became blind in fury and rushed the heavy handed mutant, sword drawn up and ready to strike. Her blade swung, but he was ready for her. In an instant, she too knew the kiss of that hammer, and crumbled to the ground.
"Elizabeth!" Lucelia cried out, and then went silent, as the brute brought his hammer down upon her mother's prone form. "MOTHER! YOU BASTARD!" Through a hail of gunfire from her sisters trying to seek vengeance, with only the God-Queen's protection keeping her from getting hit in the crossfire, she charged him. She barely registered as her blade sunk deeply into his flesh, her blade twisting as she tried to make him suffer. She would have her vengeance!
But, alas, their collective revenge was spoiled. A small army of digusting looking tunnelers sprange up before any of them could finish off the mutants, and opened with a fusilade of gunfire against the Battle Sisters. Instinctivly taking cover, they waiting for a calm in the firing, taking shots of their own, felling a few of the smaller minions. As suddenly as the firing began, it was over. In an instant, their heads were up, rifles and pistols pointed towards the tunnels.
The explosion was blinding.
"Are you certain that you are alright, Mother?" Astrid asked, holding the Inquisitor's hand as she lay in the hospitium.
"I will be fine, my child." Mother replied, her stomach wound already being tended to nicely by the machines. "I am much more worried about Elizabeth and the fate of this world. Tell me, is she alright?"
"She has had little to heal, praise the God-Queen. She was heavily rattled, but she will be fine. Marianna was scanned as well, and she is faring well."
Having seen Marianna still fighting before being felled, Mother had not thought to ask. "Then I am glad. What news have you about the beacon?"
Astrid frowned. "Sigrid is currently speaking to the local militia officials. We have found little, other than any and all psychic communication with the ships above, and forces beyond, are impossible. We should not expect much in the way of support from the ships that are in orbit, either. They are engaging the meager protective forces of the planet, while anti-air batteries in control of the filthy mutants make planetfall difficult, at best."
Mother frowned at this news. "We must keep vigilant then. We must end this threat before the plague of their existence spread too far. We may be few, but you are Battle Sisters, the elite of the God-Queen. We will prevail."
Vaxios lead his brethren through the tunnels under the city, until they had reached their destination, a hab block filled with thousands. Of the many sleeping humans and the ones still walking around in the cool evening light, they sought only one woman. Vaxios and his brothers stuck to the shadows, where their odd appearances could be explained as tricks of the growing darkness. Within a few moments, they found their destination.
The shop was small, by Calaxian standards, but it still bustled with people during the day. This close to closing, however, it was nearly deserted. Perfect.
Stay here my brothers. Watch for authorities while I speak to our friend.
With his psychic gifts, Vaxios did not need to speak aloud to his fellow Church members, rather he issued his orders through their shared bond.
The Mage-Priest approached the shop, but drew few glances due to his almost normal appearence. He approached the woman, young and somewhat beautiful, even in the dim light. He spoke gently to her, asking her questions.
"Do you desire more in life? A place where you would truly belong, where you would have a family that will always be there for you?"
Unfortunately, the girl did not take kindly to it. He had not yet developed his gifts as some of the senior priests had, some of which could entrance a convert with a single glance. And on top of that, the girl did the stupid thing, and ran. Vaxios grabbed her, unaware of the whine of engines above. Before he could signal to Markus to grab the woman, a shot rang out from above, where a cursed Battle Sister hovered using a jetpack of some kind.
Brothers! We must retreat. The Church must not yet be discovered!
The four of them bolted from the shadows, heading towards the park, and the tunnels beneath.
Vaxios swore under his breath. Somehow, the False Goddess’s inquisitors had discovered his little group before they could snatch their target. The closest entrance to the underground catacombs that would let them escape was on the other side of the park. They just had to slip through the buildings and they would be safe. Vaxios stopped, and used his telepathic bond with his brothers to signal them to halt. They did so, taking up cover by the small buildings at the edge of the park.
Vaxios reached out with his psychic powers, feeling for the presence of the enemy.(edited) “There you are,” he growled.
He locked on to the mind he sensed inside one of the buildings, surging psychic energy through the temporary connection, but whoever it was had some degree of training in defending against the likes of his attack. Whoever it was had shrugged off the assault. Luckily, he knew where they were now. Vaxios readied his blade, which crackled with the psychic energy he channeled into it, and rushed for the building. His boot kickied in the door, only to reveal a Battle Sister, taller than him and wielding a heavy rifle. He swung the blade, but the Sister was quicker than him, and dodged. She attacked in kind, whipping the butt of the heavy rifle at Vaxios, who stepped back to avoid the blow. However, the distance had given the Sister a chance to fire, and pain burned through him as one of the rounds struck true, penetrating his flesh, toughened by the gifts of the Patriarch. Jarus moved closer, hissing in glee as he aimed the flame pistol in his hand. The open window of the building would allow for a decent shot. However, when he pulled the trigger, the pistol malfunctioned. Instead of the heavy cone, the hungry flames sprayed out in a useless cloud. Jarus hissed in anger and smacked the side of the weapon, as if to punish it for its failure.
Xan followed the lead of his brothers, charging at the low concrete building, avoiding any spots or angles that could expose him to fire from the enemies surrounding them. He swiped his twisted tendrils at the Sister inside, but was stopped cold when she brought the rifle down on his head. Swaying in pain, Xan collapsed into a heap in the dirt.
Markus shouted in rage as he watched his brother collapse, thoughts of revenge swarming his mind. He swung his mighty hammer, crackling with the energy that sheathed the weapon, at his foe. The first swing of the hammerhead met with air as the Sister took a step back, but the second struck true. The blow met with the tough power armor around her abdomen; it winded her, but the armor held firm. A shot rang out and concrete exploded in a spray of shards as another foe fired at him.
As the Inquisitor herself charged Vaxios, he could feel the swirling psychic energies directed against him, singeing and burning his blessed flesh. Despite the pain, he was able to parry the swing of the Inquisitor’s blade and returned the attack with one of his own, managing to bite through her armor and flesh, the psychic energy wreathing the blade forcing the blade through the protective gear. Vaxios then gathered more of his psychic power, channeling it into the blade’s already strong psychic field, and swung again. He missed, and left himself open to a counter attack, which the Inquisitor took, hitting him in the gut and knocked the wind out of him. Jarus meanwhile, found himself under assault from the same Inquisitor a moment later, who was moving nearly as fast as the Blessed Messengers. Within a moment, Jarus was down on the ground, unconscious.
Markus, turning in time to see another brother fall, was bolstered in his rage as he charged the Inquisitor, who still shimmered with psychic energy. His hammer swung fast and true, his right and third arms gripping it tightly, and he smashed it into the Inquisitor, knocking her to the side. He raised his hammer again, ready to cave in the skull of the woman, but was forced to turn away when another, jetpack wearing, Sister, lunged at him. He sidestepped her high speed attack, swinging his hammer down where he had been a second before, and knocked the Sister to the ground, hearing little more than a wounded groan. More shots caused holes to appear in the ground and walls around him, with one even striking deep into his flesh. However, his blessed flesh twisted and regrew around the wound, and as the other Sisters approached closer, Markus swung at the battered Inquisitor as she was trying to stand, striking a nigh fatal blow that rendered her unconscious. He could see and smell some of her blood, but there was no time to do more damage. The encroaching Sisters forced him to move into the building for cover. One of the Sisters, fury in her eyes, charged and cut into him, leaving him swaying in pain.
Vaxios, meanwhile, had recovered his breath. He realized that they could not win this fight. His mind reached out, seeking his salvation, and sensed more of his brethren beneath the earth. The tunnelers had almost reached the other side of the park! He called to them through their psychic link, ordering them to surface so that he and his brood could escape. While Markus furiously fought the encroaching Sisters, the tunnelers reached the surface, and Vaxios scrambled into the tunnel. With a shout and mental signal, he called for Markus to follow. Markus’s blessings had already cleared the damage caused by the Battle Sister, and he heeded the call of the Mage. He smashed the wall of the building, splinters flying as a distraction towards his foes, grabbed his fallen brothers with his left and right hands, his hammer in his third arm, and scrambled for the tunnel as fast as possible. The tunnelers, several former miners like Markus, opened fire with a fullisade of rounds, forcing the Battle Sisters into cover while they retreated into the tunnels. The moment they were safely inside, a demolition charge collapsed the tunnel, ensuring the Cultists could not be followed in their escape.
Vaxios sat still, his wounds being bandaged by one of the healers. Thanks to Markus, their entire group had been recovered safely. Xan and Jarus would both be fine, praise be to the Patriarch for that. They had been given medical treatment after assesments with stolen equipment. The catacombs they called home might not be sanitary, but the gifts of the Patriarch and His Blessed Messengers had made his chosen resistant to diseases. They would be fine.
Later, while he was resting and meditating, he was summoned by one of the senior Priest-Mages, Darius. The other junior Priest-Mages, about 3 others, had been gathered as well.
Darius rasped in his warm, wizened voice to his apprentices.
"My children, it has been decided that with the information Vaxios has brought to us, that drastic measures must be taken to protect our goal. With the blessing of the Patriarch, praise be upon Him, the other High Priests and myself will join our powers with his. We will create the beacon, and maintain a psychic ward to prevent the False Goddess's forces from knowing what is happening. Our brothers around the planet shall know what to do. Calaxia will be ours, and the Star Gods will come. It is only a matter of time."
A cheer went up from the gathered apprentices, along with praises and excited words.
--------------------------------- Lucelia & Elizabeth ----------------------------------
Thunder rang out in the firing range. Casing after shell casing fell to the floor. But above the roar of the gun was a roar of rage, bellowed from Lucelia’s enhanced lungs.
A click signified the magazine emptied. Before the gun could make a second click, the empty cartridge was ejected and was replaced. Three shots fired before the old magazine even hit the ground.
The door to the firing range opened up, a large, armoured hand swinging it wide. Elizabeth watched her elder sister pour her fury into the targets at the end of the hall, mere scraps of at this point. Sweat made her brown hair hand limply on her cheeks. Lucelia had apparently contented herself with simply firing at the far wall. The younger Battle Sister frowned; this had to stop.
Lucelia swung the butt of her rifle around with rage in her eyes as she felt a heavy hand on her shoulder. She struck air and red strange of hair. Elizabeth had her hand raised, where she had expected to catch the incoming strike. She wasn’t expecting a miss.
“You missed. You’ve never missed like that before.”
Lucelia clenched her fist, and glared daggers at her little sister. “Shut up! Do not doubt me!” She roared, sending a gauntlet at Elizabeth.
Stepping back, the red-headed warrior dodged the blow, and moved in, kneeing the brunette in the stomach and bringing a power-armoured fist across her face, a blow that would kill a normal human, knocking her to the ground. “Your rage is blinding you, Lucelia! Calm yourself.”
“How can I calm with that THING still out there! That monster... I had a shot... if I had... if I had just... Mother might...” Lucelia’s rage gave way to grief and shame.
Understanding and pity filled Elizabeth’s eyes, “That’s why you were using a rifle instead of your sword.” She sighed, “I know how you feel, sister, we all failed Mother. Your shame is not yours to bear alone. We are a family, and we are the God-Queen’s soldiers! We will learn from this day, and we will fight on.” She held out a hand, and picked her elder sister up off of the floor. “If you wish to avoid missing that mutant traitor next time, I have an offer.”
Lucelia looked on curiously as the redhead stepped out of the firing range briefly, and returned, carrying large and hefty weapons crate. “What have you there?”
“We did not fail everyone this day, dear sister. Some of the populace was thankful to us, and bestowed some gifts salvaged from previous wars.” With a snap of the latches, Elizabeth opened the crate.
Inside was a bulky, standard issue flamethrower, with bottom mounted fuel tank. Below that, were a pair of flame pistols, with wrist-mounted fuel tanks. The younger sister picked up the flamethrower, and tossed it to her elder.
Lucelia examined the weapon with almost a sense of reverence. This was a weapon that did not, could not miss. Her resolve steeled as she thought of that monster burning. Noticing Elizabeth coming up to the range with the pistols, she knew a similar thought crossed the other woman’s mind as well.
Side by side, the sisters lit up the range.
------------------------------------ Sigrid & Astrid -------------------------------------
Sigrid sat in solemn silence inside of the temple to the God-Queen. As a Battle Sister, it was easy to secure access to a private prayer chamber for as long as she wished, which was now bordering on the eight hours mark. Eleven hours since the skirmish in the city sector.
A bust of the God-Queen looked down upon her as she kneeled. The pedestal was high enough that only a Battle Sister could look the statuette in the eyes, but only just. Before her lay a standard issue Battle Sister sword, crafted from tempered metals that slew many of the God-Queen’s foes. A heavy pistol, one too large for a normal human to hold, but a perfect fit for her gauntleted hands.
Hands that now held a Helm of Contrition.
Her power armour was not only an excellent piece of protective gear, but provided a myriad of other functions; keeping her awake and alert, feeding her nutrients through a small external casing to provide long weeks without eating, and even converting waste into fuel and refilling her nutrient and water tanks. Indeed, a Battle Sister never had to leave her armor if she did not wish to, but most still did. Many did not do this, however, choosing instead to enjoy the sensations of life outside of war made possible by their Goddess’s efforts, the life that they fought to achieve.
But others chose to take on the Helm of Contrition.
The helmet provided additional protection, but to some, it felt like a lack of faith in the God-Queen’s protection. To others, it was a punishment. Once donned, the helmet would lock into place, sealing a Sister inside of her own armour until such a time as she earned forgiveness from a High Sister. The taste of food and water, the tough of a soft bed or a family member, it would become a foreign, long forgotten concept to those who wore the helm. Quite often for the rest of their lives.
They would offer themselves completely as warriors of the God-Queen until, through a High Sister, they had found penitence in her eyes.
This was the helmet that Sigrid held in her hands. Shame fueled her choice.
She did not raise her head as her twin sister, Astrid, entered her supposedly private prayer chamber.
“Sigrid, why are you praying alone?” Astrid asked, slipping into their native tongue. They always prayed together.
“...I disobeyed the order to retreat.” Sigrid replied calmly. This got her twin’s attention.
In an instant, Astrid was beside her sister, eyes locked on the Helm. “Sigrid, no, you cannot!” She pleased, reaching to snatch the helmet away.
With a forceful grab, Sigrid stayed her sister’s hand, “No! I disobeyed an order, and maybe, just maybe, I could live with that if I had actually succeeded in what I had remained behind to do. But... that monster... those civilians... Mother... I couldn’t...” Her hitched as she neared her final words, biting back the tears of her failure. Her large hand hid her face as she tried to hide her shame.
“You are not the only one!” Astrid shouted, “We all failed those people, we all failed the God-Queen... we all failed Mother. You alone should not bear this guilt!”
“I must! You know this! I must do this... or how could I live with myself?” She asked through tear filled eyes.
“I...” Astrid began, her eyes wandering around the room for an answer. First, she looked to the bust with hope, but the stare of the God-Queen told her only that penitence was required. Next her eyes turned, and she saw Sigrid’s weapon chest, the one they shared. Her sister had carried it here, to portray her shame to the world should she fail to don her helmet, a way to keep herself from backing out. “...I said that you alone should not bear this guilt.”
Astrid walked over to the chest, and opened her half. A sword, a rifle, a pistol, and a Helm of her own, one that all Sisters kept with them in the event they chose, or were told, to wear it.
“Astrid, what are you---”
“We have shared many things over the years, sister. A womb. A father. A mother. A step-mother. On this day, before the God-Queen... I will share your guilt, your failure, and your shame. We are Battle Sisters in arms as much as we are sisters in blood.”
Astrid knelt beside Sigrid, who could only reply with silence, with sword and Helm in hand.
They both knew the motions. Each grabbed their swords. Each gripped their hair and cut. Each tied the blonde lengths with metal string, and secured it to their belts. Each reached over and grabbed the other’s hand with a grip that could crush bone. Each looked at each other, the last glimpse without a visor. Each placed the Helm of Contrition upon their own heads.
With a click, the twins became sealed.
And they prayed.
------------------------------------ Mother and Marianna -------------------------------
The steady beeps and whirs of the auto-doctor were the only sound to be heard in the hospital room. The still form of Marianna loomed near the medical bed. Her gaze was affixed on the machine’s work, watching the steady motions of the needles and pincers as they did their job.
“There has been word of the mutants recruiting in the city. I believe that these are at least some of the same ones we have faced before. This will be an easy task. We are to head out immediately. Understood?”
The Battle Sisters brought a fist across their chests in affirmation, and moved out.
The Battle Sister took a deep, calming breath. Her nerves had to calm right now.
Weapons fire exploded outwards from a nearby window. The mutants had somehow found a heavy weapons cache, and had been making good use of it. The attacker was perched up in a window, just barely seen behind the large gun. She could see the thing, deformed skin, mutated flesh and... a woman. Her brow furrowed deeply. A traitor!
Marianna raised her storm rifle and fired, but her shot went wide. She could only look on in horror as the traitor mutant ignored her shots and fired ahead. Her eyes tracked the round and---
Marianna’s eyes clenched hard at the memory. Another deep breath. She had to stay calm.
The spray was inaccurate, but one round. That was all it took. One round from the heavy machinegun flew to its intended target. She could only watch it as it sailed across the battlefield, and her mother’s leg exploded.
She remembered screaming, for the first time in as long as she could remember. With Elizabeth, Lucelia, and Mother all down, she was next in command. She called for a med-evac. She called for retreat.
Her breath hitched.
A soft click brought her back from her thoughts. Her eyes refocused on the auto-doctor. It had just finished inserted the last piece of metal into the leg it was working on. The stitching process was beginning.
Marianna reached out and took her mother’s hand, so small and fragile looking compared to hers. She turned to look over the other woman, covered in anesthetic needles and oxygen tubes. Her strong, proud mother... reduced to this. She could feel a hatred building inside of her. Her eyes turned back to watch the machine repairing the leg, setting metallic replacements for the blasted bone. Even with all of their technology, she was told Mother would have a limp.
She grit her teeth. She would be ready for them next time.
The low hum of voices in prayer reverberated throughout the small underground room. There was only room for 50 or so people. But the space was filled past capacity. Some held candles, augmenting the poor lighting that had been rewired and replaced many times over the years. Others held small prayer icons, medallions, booklets of hymns, or carved wooden symbols, all bearing the sigil of the Patriarch, which depicted his angelic visage in a stylized way, with his four arms holding Calaxia in his grasp.
At the head of it all, leading the prayers, was Vaxios. Like the other Priests, his sermons included using his psychic powers to reaffirm the bonds between the congregants. As most of them had been given the blessing of the Patriarch, their minds were all receptive enough to become bonded. Through Vaxios and his fellow Priests, the members of the Church of Renewal were able to sense each other’s thoughts, communicate without spoken words, and some would show powerful potential, and be inducted as Priests as well.
Vaxios knew most of the congregants here. This base of operations had been recently established under the hab block that he and his companions had seized from the Battle Sisters, and one of the Divine Messengers had been dispatched by the Patriarch and High Priests, still maintaining the beacon, to give their benedictions upon the newest converts. Those who didn’t convert willingly, were given a private conversation with Vaxios. With the powers of his mind, they were shown the wonders of being a member of the Church, the righteousness of the Patriarch, and the glory of the Star Gods. Many of them would then choose to join, and would be welcomed as brothers and sisters.
The sound of heavy equipment breaking rock echoes throughout the tunnels as the work crew endeavored to clear the debris from a collapsed tunnel. Some groups operated heavy cutters and drills, breaking up the rock, while others cleared out the rubble. Markus and two others that had been blessed in similar ways to him worked to break the largest pieces of the rock and metal. With each swing, the crackling hammers crushed everything in their path, allowing the others to clear the now much smaller pieces. Unlike the others however, Markus’s swings were much more powerful, almost pulverising the rock into dust with every other swing. He would also grunt and yell with his swings, sounding almost like a wild beast. After only a few more swings, Markus had worked himself into a frenzy, almost carving a small tunnel for himself into the rubble. He would have continued going, perhaps even continuing through to the other side, had Jarus not patted the lower of Markus’s three arms.
“Wait a moment brother. Take a small break, I want to try something.”
With that, Jarus produced a bulky looking device from his tool pouch, covered in wires and topped with a small switch and valve. He signalled to the other workers to move back, then approached the rubble. He looked over the pile of twisted metal and rock, then placed the device against what he deemed the weakest point, and fiddled with the switches, then backed up with the others. After a moment, the thundering boom reverberated throughout the tunnel, and when the dust settled, most of the rubble was gone, replaced with gravel and melted slag.
Jarus then pointed the work crew to the next obstruction, and returned to his workbench to build more explosives.
Xan sat in the shrine, praying and polishing his battle standard. His morale had taken a blow recently. He had been defeated by the enemy not once, but twice in melee combat. His blessed tendrils could not cut through the toughened armor of the enemy. It was difficult for him. He had always been thought to be especially blessed, but recent events had made him doubt that he was as special as his brothers and sisters had insisted. He prayed and meditated in the shrine, contemplating the battles he had fought in, hoping to find answers.
In the center of the newly captured hab block, the towering building’s lowest level was a hive of activity. People and machinery moved around the caverns below, moving weapons and munitions into the building’s basement, and from there to the various strong points in this building and the surrounding structures. Troopers, formerly of the 344th Infantry Regiment, moved the stolen crates of material under the supervision of Major Vera. The entire regiment had once been one of the numerous parts of the local HDF garrison, under command of the Battle Sisters’ planetary garrison. Now they had shown their true colors, or rather, Vera had. Her troops had been given the blessings of one of the Priests, and they had been shown the truth of the Church, with her ordering them to listen to the Priest. Later that day they had helped lead the assault on the hab block they had been charged with defending, helping seize the territory from within.
She put her hand on the shoulder of one of the passing troopers, grabbed a couple belts of heavy rounds from the crate, and strapped them to her armor. They were the kind that the heavy machine gun leaning against the wall next to her devoured as it spat death at the enemies of the Patriarch. Then she got back to work, helping fortify the newest holding of the Church.
A tremendous blow to the Cult has been performed this day. They had found an entrance into their catacomb network, and with the help of the HDF, they were able to properly form a beachhead into their lair. This would let them dig deep into the heart of the Cultists, and hopefully eradicate them in short order.
But under the rain, that didn't matter to five women, staring at a pedestal of wood. Upon it lied the body of one of their own, garbed in a simple robe, and a shawl over her face to hide the wound.
One of their own lie dead.
“My daughters... Battle Sisters. One of our own has fallen this day. What was gained was immense to the safety of this world, and keeping it in the God-Queen’s light. But with victory, comes sacrifice...”
The push through the woefully under-defended entrance was quick, efficient, and deadly. As the God-Queen demanded. In but the first moments of battle, even the mighty beast with the hammer was brought low, made weak from many blows before it fled the battle. Indeed, all of their supposed opposition had been felled quickly and made to flee.
And so they chased, into the catacombs with the HDF guarding their backs.
And so she killed the foes of the God-Queen.
Her pistol roared death, and her blade sung a hymn of demise. Traitors to the HDF and the Queen were all trying to mount some semblance of a fighting retreat, their rounds pinging uselessly on her armour. As many tunnels were blasted shut, they took and held, paving the way for loyal HDF forces to secure behind them.
She chased a group deep such a tunnel, the mutants within setting their explosives. She charged at one she found familiar, one she’d faced before.
She rushed the flame-pistol-wielding mutant, fear filling his eyes as she bellowed out the God-Queen's prayer through her enhanced broadcaster. Her blade struck like lightning, embedding itself deep into its chest.
She did not see the tendril from behind.
The monomolecular edge of the organic whip found a seam in the armor, and like a foul disease spread through it. The front of her helmet exploded outwards in a spray of viscera. Her blade loosed itself from the mutant's chest and spun around, decapitating a misguided HDF trooper in the motion. Her swing cut deep into into tentacled monster's belly, but still it writhed its limb inside her head. She reached out with her armoured hand, mind growing weak from her wounds, and gripping onto the cultists throat. Her hand gripped hard, but it flailed harder. She could see the life starting to drain from its eyes as her own vision swam.
Her hand gripped harder still. She could hear its neck starting to snap. Just a little more.
“Today, we honour the rites of my daughter, your sister, in her death. Astrid. Please.” Mother said, motioning to the still living twin.
Through her helmet, Astrid commenced the short eulogy. “There is little that need be said this day. My sister died as any Battle Sister should. Surrounded by the corpses of the God-Queen’s enemies. She fought to the end... and she will be avenged.”
The other four spoke their agreement.
Borrowing Lucelia’s flamethrower, she set the funeral pyre ablaze. The secrets of Sigrid’s genetic modification burned away from the enemy. Her soul free to be by the God-Queen’s side.
Each one of them stood in silence as they watched the pyre burn away their sister’s corpse, each in a stark silence.
Once the pyre had grown, the fuel bricks they placed burning through the rain, each present placed their armoured hands into the fire. It did not stay long, but enough for the blackened soot to burn itself into their armours. Bringing up now blacked limbs, they drew the symbol of the God-Queen on themselves, so that they’re sister may still fight by their side.
As the fires burned down, they each left in turn; Marianna first, as if she had heard something. Then Elizabeth, then Lucelia, and finally, Astrid herself.
Mother alone watched the pyre burn into ashes. With her blackened hands, she scooped some into a simple, glass vial.
Tears muddied the ashes.
“A mother should never have to bury her daughter...”
Marianna trudged through the raining streets, with murder in her eyes. Not only had she lost a sister this day, but someone had the gall to interrupt the funeral ceremony.
That damnable laughter.
She had heard it before. Sometimes it bode good tidings, but other times... Her journey was punctuated by the sounds of musical laughing. Whenever she thought she might lose the trail, she heard it again. She was being lead somewhere.
The citizens in the streets gave the large woman a wide berth. While Battle Sisters were not known for smiting people in the streets, Marianna had an aura of anger about her that was shown clearly on her face, and many did not want to be in her way for fear of being trampled.
A giggle in an alleyway announced her arrival at her destination. Stepping out of the shadows, she was met with a familiar face. Or rather, a familiar mask.
“Hex.” She hissed dangerously under her breath.
The Elven Jesters. A very strange people that inhabited the stars. A splinter faction of the High Elves that roamed from planet to planet, taking sides in wars without rhyme or reasons, or simply trying to entertain the populace. They were a strange bunch, and the one standing before her was stranger still.
A theatre mask adorned her face, gripped in a still smile. “Marianna! What a pleasant surprise.” She cooed, leaning up towards the giant in front of her. A hand swept over her face, which changed to a mask with pouting lips. “It has been ever so long, my dear. How about a kiss for our lovely reunion.”
An armoured hand shoved Hex away, “I have no patience for your games, alien! We may have fought together in the past, but I have lost a sister this day. You have no right!” She shouted, eyes pricking with cold tears and hatred.
A hand swiped to reveal a mask in a pained expression, as if struck by a blow. “Marianna... I...” A swipe to a solemn mask. “I am sorry. The Laughter. It is powerful at times. I apologize. I am deeply sorry for your loss.” She bowed, not a stage’s bow, but one of respect. It was due in the moment. When she raised back to standing, her mask bore a tepid smile.
“What are you doing here?” The Battle Sister asked.
“I am here because the Council of Fools demands it. The Seers have spoken, and something is coming. Something that will be devastating to all life in the galactic sector. As such, some of our Jester’s have come to... take part.” She said diplomatically, dancing a little with her words, her bells ringing jovially.
Marianna narrowed her eyes. The Jesters were never as they seemed. “You are oddly forthright with this information. Why should I trust you in this?”
A wave of a hand brought on a cocky, smirking face, “Oh, now don’t you worry about that, my dear. Leave that to me. I’m mostly here to ask you a question.”
“What is it?” The Sister asked impatiently.
Suddenly, a pleading look, somehow eye level to her, entered her vision. “Please, oh pretty please ask everyone not to shoot at me when I come to help? With sugar on top?”
A fist swung at the face intruding in Marianna’s personal space, but was met with air. Somehow, Hex was gone, replaced only by that echoing, musical laughter.
-------------------------------------------- The tunnels in the distance, once home to members of the Church, now only echoed with the sounds of gunfire and the occasional explosion. The storm above still raged loud enough to be heard in the catacombs. Boots stomped in a hurry as HDF forces loyal to the Church moved to reinforce the new fortifications, hastily built upon the remains of collapsed shanty huts and rubble. Major Vera directed them, barking orders with a practiced ease, before heading for the makeshift command center.
Inside the command center, maps of the tunnels, most of them hand drawn, had been plastered up on the ancient brick, while a few other HDF officers and Church higher-ups sat discussing the current situation in heated whispers. Upon her arrival, one of them stood up and looked at her. It was the Primus, head of the Church’s military arm. He nodded at her in greeting, the bulbous, purple head bobbing in the familiar gesture.
“Major Vera, what can you tell us about what happened at the tunnel entrance?”
Vera spoke quickly and concisely, explaining what had happened.
-------------------------------------------- The rain poured down in thick sheets, with thunder and lightning booming and flashing in the sky. The Battle Sister squad had come out of the night in a surprise attack, explosives blasting open their entrance into the tunnels. This particular entryway was hidden by a shanty town of those loyal to the church, and so was only lightly guarded. Vaxios’s group had been on watch that evening, and had stood their ground when the raid started. They held valiantly to give the faithful of the village time to escape.
By the time the people had fled, and reinforcements from the Church could be called, it was already too late. The reinforced grating had been blown away by high explosives, and the Battle Sisters, led by the crippled Inquisitor, charged in. Without any choice, they staged a fighting retreat, hoping to move deeper into the tunnels. There, they could hold them back with the heavy machine gun batteries and plasma repeaters set up at the defensive chokepoints. It was only a matter of getting there.
Vera’s heavy machine gun sounded like a heavy cutter as it spat out rounds without end, but in the darkness and the rain, none of her fire had hit its mark. With the storm, and the encroaching enemy, she was forced to retreat. On her way, out of the corner of her eyes, she managed to catch sight of a trooper squad retreating down a tunnel she had never seen before. She called out to them, demanding to know where they were retreating. A reply was shouted back; they were off to secure and relocate a much needed munitions cache that they had acquired. She made the decision to join them quickly, the battle below having moved well past her line of fire.
Meanwhile, the others had engaged in a close up brawl with the Battle Sisters, but it was not going well. The enemy had the advantage of surprise. Two of them bore heavy loudspeakers mounted on their armour, blaring prayers to the False Goddess they worshipped, adding to the confusion of the fight. Markus and the Inquisitor traded blows, sword and hammer clashing loudly, with the enemy blurred in psychic speed. Her blows came with a vengeance, striking deep into his flesh, but gifted flesh it was, and not one, but four blows that would have killed a lesser man, each, had simply left him tired from rapid mending.
The others fell one by one, but Xan was nowhere to be seen.
The Morph crept through the shadows, his tendrils twitching and bobbing as he moved. He had a perfect line of sight, and he had his opportunity. One of the helmeted ones, bellowing sound, was trying to kill Jarus. Xan charged her, springing at her with inhuman strength and grace. One arm grabbed at the foe’s gun, wrenching it away and rendering it useless.
A tendril wrapped around her shoulder, and in tandem with his twisted feet, he grabbed onto the larger warrior. The second tendril stabbed at her in the blink of an eye. The speed of the blow, combined with the unnatural sharpness of the tip and the ridges that covered the tendril, allowed it to pierce the armor protecting the warrior’s neck. He could feel the heat of her blood as it stained his blessed limb, feel the spasm of pain from the muscles around it, and he pressed deeper.
More blood was drawn out, and he could feel the armoured figure beneath him falter. Her arm loosened its grip on Jarus, who fell, limp and unconscious. A moment later, the mighty Battle Sister died at his hand.
Xan hissed in victory, a wide grin full of sharp teeth on his face.
A moment later, he heeded the psychic call of his brothers, and fled deeper into the tunnels.
After the command staff meeting, Vera was speaking with Vaxios, who, like all the others was being treated for his injuries. All, that is, except for Markus, who had taken no lasting injuries and was helping build fortifications. No foe so far had managed to land a hit that had done more than slow him down.
A new figure, a woman, walked into the infirmary while the pair talked, and approached them.
“Major Vera?” The woman inquired.
“Sergeant Laura, of the 56th Rangers at your service. After we were brought down here to slow the enemy advance into the tunnels, I was ordered to transfer to your command effective immediately.”
Vera looked at the soldier. That unit was famed for its ambush and sabotage operations, striking behind enemy lines and devastating them from the rear. A plasma pistol and energy sword hung from the woman’s belt. She was a veteran Ranger then.
Vera smiled. “Good. We could use a Ranger.”
Vaxios smiled as well, and reached out with his psychic powers, binding the Ranger to the link his team shared.
“Yes, welcome. I look forward to seeing your handiwork in the field.”
Mother stood before the hospitium. The largest on the planet. She had thought long and hard about this, as she stared at the funeral pyre of her lost daughter. Her gaze turned down towards her crippled leg. The useless thing has slowed her down. Maybe... maybe if she had been fast enough.
She walked into the hospitium, the doors sliding open at her presence. Nurses flitted about, tending to patients from the populace, care in their purpose.
All of them stopped when she entered.
A brief stillness, not quite a fear, but an awed respect, washed over the room. It thankfully, for the patients, did not last too long, as one brave man amongst approached.
“W-what brings you to our humble facility, Inquisitor?” He asked
Mother stood silent for a moment, regarding him. Her mind sensed a brave soul, one that supported the God-Queen’s intentions, if not particularly pious. A suitable servant of her Queen, and suitable to her current needs. “By the power given to me as an Inquisitor of the God-Queen, I hereby seek an audience with your finest cybernetic surgeon.” She commanded.
Hearing those words made many gulp, a command from an Inquisitor was no ignorable thing. The man before her quickly nodded. “Right away, Inquisitor. Please, follow me.”
Mother was lead through the halls of the sick, the worried, the recovering and dying alike. The nurse kept pace with the crippled Inquisitor, not daring to advance too much in front of her. Deeper still into the hospitium they traveled, entering into what was presumably a research wing, with various doctors and scientists alike working with chemicals and machines that would boggle the mind.
Before long, they were at their destination. “She is inside.” The nurse that was leading her said.
She nodded to him, “You may go.” She did not bother watching him leave at a more than brisk pace.
Entering into the room, she glanced around. Machines of all sorts donned the walls; mechanical arms, syringes, tubes of various chemicals, and even a production line for custom cybernetics. Her gaze soon loomed over to the doctor she sought, a woman with dull brown hair, glasses, and a white coat that signified her status. She was tending to a patient, another woman who---
Mother raised her pistol.
It was an innocuous thing to most. She barely even noticed it herself. Upon the right hand of the patient was a small, whip-like protrusion wiggling pathetically.
She was a mutant.
The sound of the pistol fire echoed loudly in the room of glass and steel walls. The patient landed in a heap on the floor, most of her head missing.
The good doctor was understandably shocked.
“Securit---” She cut herself off, almost making a mad dash for the security call, but still herself upon seeing the Inquisitor with a smoking gun. “What... what did you do!?”
“This planet has been overtaken by mutant cultists, and I am here to kill them all.” Mother simply put.
“She was trying to get it remove! I was going to replace her hand with a prosthetic!”
“You dare to question the judgement of an Inquisitor?” Mother replied dangerously.
This cowed the doctor, “N-no. I’m... I do not, Inquisitor.”
“Good. Let the servants clean up the mutants wretched body. You am I shall discuss the procurement and installation of a new, psionic graft.”
The doctor’s eyes widened a little. “Those are rare, even with the Lyceums.”
“Will it be a problem to attain one for me?”
“...no, Inquisitor. It will not. Though I must advise, the process will take time to... adapt to you. And it will be a painful process. We will have to keep you awake during the procedure to attune your mind to it.”
“I will endure. You will procure this for me, and perform the surgery. A Battle Sister will be standing guard as to ward off spies and traitors. Understood, doctor?” It was a question, but from the Inquisitor, it was but a command in disguise.
“Of course, Inquisitor.” The doctor obeyed, trying not to glance at the corpse that had once been her patient.
The plan was to make a decisive blow against the cultists. Word had reached the ears of the loyalist HDF and had been passed on to Mother, as had all news about the ongoing conflict on the planet. The mutants were trying to take the solar arrays of the desert, which were desperately needed to avoid rationing what power came from the reactors. If the Cult managed to get their hands on it, not only would they have more than enough energy to supply their war efforts, but the rationing in the hab blocks would leave to civil unrest and even most converts to the enemy.
And so it was that Mother marched with her daughters ahead of the HDF vehicle convoy and supply line to clear the way.
Her new leg was still giving her trouble, the psionic component of the prosthetic taking time to adjust, but she was getting used to it just a little more with every step she took. Brushin off some more sand from her hat for the thousandth time, she spoke, “Any sight on the enemy?”
Her daughters replied negative, save for Marianna. The soldier looked about, hearing a familiar laughter in the winds of the desert...
The trooper stood in the shadows of the desert outcropping. He had owed Vera a favour, and intended to pay it back with the ambush against the Sister’s advance. His Carbine was held aloft, and he waited for them to get into position.
Having been camped out in the shadows of the outcropping for hours, and hearing nothing but the blowing winds of the desert, he felt safe not looking behind him.
That was a mistake.
Out of the shadows, a figure emerged. The Elven Jester Hex leaned out of the shadows, ornate blade in hand. Her mask was one of grinning mischievousness. Her gaze turned towards an unseen audience, a finger raised to the the lips of the face she wore.
Her dagger hand rose in the air, passing over her mask and giving her a visage of red, glowing eyes and a gleefully snarling mouth.
Thirty-seven stab wounds later, the trooper’s blood stained the sands, and Hex’s laughter echoing through the wind.
The war had been raging for months, but held at a stalemate for some time now. The Cult had a solid grip on the Hab Blocks they had captured, and used the tight spaces and tunnels to ambush and retreat, wearing away at the loyalist forces that tried to push into the block. However, the Church lacked the overt strength to push back against the powerful HDF vehicles and perimeter defense. In the twisting tunnels below, the Battle Sisters and loyalists paid for every meter gained with blood, and copious amounts of it. Every advance was blunted by traps, mines, and a dozen varieties of ambush and concealed weapon.
“The decision has been made,” rasped the Primus, “to send a small force to secure the solar arrays. With them under our control, we can deny the enemy vital resources, and secure more recruits from loyalist territory. Vaxios, child, your team will clear the way and hamper any enemy forces sent to do the same. This will be vital to our plans.”
Vaxios nodded, rising from his position at the table in the makeshift command center.
“It will be done, my lord. The solar arrays will be ours.”
It was a long ride, into the desert. They had a transport, but no armed vehicles could be spared, so it would be no use in a fight. The engine rumbled powerfully as it ate up the miles of desert. The heat was oppressive, but the blessings of the Patriarch had toughened them, body and mind. They could ignore the worst of the heat for now.
Laura sat in the driver’s seat, as she had the most experience driving military vehicles, while Vera had rigged her machine gun onto the roof, to use as a makeshift turret. Markus sat in the very back, his bulk and hammer taking up a whole row of seats. Jarus and Xen were playing a card game together, something that they enjoyed doing to make the time go by. Vaxios meditated, practicing drawing in his power and shaping it, before letting the energy dissipate.
Soon, the vehicle came across a stretch of flat terrain, broken up by a few rocky outcroppings. On either side was a range of large rocky outcroppings, too high and rough for any vehicles to pass through. As Vaxios looked, he had an idea.
“We shall ambush the enemy here. They will have no choice but to move through the pass. And we will wait for them.”
Before Vaxios could exit the vehicle, a shot rang out and the sand nearby exploded.
“Who goes there?” A voice rang out. “I will not hesitate to shoot. Identify yourselves!”
Vera poked her head out of the transport. “Jones! Is that you? Get down here and talk face to face! Unless you are too scared of me?”
The voice, Jones, swore and slid down the rocks. A man in heavy military armor stood there, a rifle in hand, and a grin on his face.
“Sorry ma’am. Didn’t know you were in there. You need help with anything?”
“As a matter of fact…”
That night, they nursed their wounds around the campfire. The Sisters had eventually pushed through their ambush, but it had cost them time and resources they couldn’t spare. Vaxios and his kindred had done their job. They had eaten their rations quickly, as they were all tired, but before they went to sleep, Vaxios led them in prayer.
The members of the group all focused on their prayers, chanting and saying the ritual hymns. Vaxios led them, chanting and praying. However, something was... different about this prayer session. Vaxios felt something distant, something powerful, press against his mind. It felt like the Patriarch, but much more powerful than the blessed messenger. It was only a hint of the power of the Star Gods, but it was there. The power poured out of him, like a cup filled with too much water.
It snaked, invisibly, towards Jarus and Xan. Both grunted in pain as the power reached them. They dropped to the ground. Xan’s tendrils writhed and twisted around each other, while Jarus’s arms hit the ground, the soft and giving way with soft thumping sounds. As soon as it had started, it was over. Jarus and Xan’s affected limbs had been twisted into new, sacred forms. Jarus’s weapon hand now looked like one of the tendrils that Xan had sported, while his other arms had twisted into one, ending in a long blade of bone and chitin, wickedly sharp, and flexing with muscle. Xan sported a similar blade, but his weapon hand remained unchanged.
Meanwhile, the power that had been pouring out of Vaxios had continued to do so. It pulsed and writhed like a living thing, before pooling and congealing in a flash of purplish light. Leaving a small humanoid figure, no more than a meter tall standing next to Vaxios. It looked like a small Acolyte, with three arms ending in razor sharp hands, with a face that was bulbous and housed sharp, keen eyes, and razor sharp teeth. It was a Familiar! The Patriarch had two that followed and tended to him in their lair.
As Vaxios looked upon the changed forms of Jarus and Xan, and at the tiny form of the Familiar, a joyous shout issued from the Mage.
The blazing sun set in the Calaxian dessert, leaving nothing but shadow and a chill in the air. The only thing disturbing the quiet of the night was the roar of the engines as several armored personnel carriers and rough terrain rated civilian vehicles moved across the sands. The vehicles were all emblazoned with the same symbol, painted over existing unit markings in some cases, the interlocking tendrils and fanged visage of the Patriarch glowering from the side of the stolen vehicles. Inside, hybrid cultists and traitor HDF troopers prayed or prepared their weapons as they moved to take one of the largest solar arrays on Calaxia. If they could take it, they would be able to convert more of the non believers to their side, and weaken the Battle Sisters and loyalists.
Meanwhile, Vaxios’s warband had made camp near one of the entrances to the tunnel complex that would lead them to the solar array. They had tried to open the door, but the code fragment they had managed to obtain before being forced to retreat would not work. The door remained firmly sealed, and the group lacked explosives enough to open the damned thing. As the others prayed or ate their rations, Vaxios called upon his psychic powers, which had grown considerably since his contact with the Star Gods, much to his delight, and reached out to his counterpart in the convoy heading towards their location.
Yes brother Vaxios? What is needed of us?
Brother Therus, we require some troopers with a heavy weapon. A sealed passage must be opened.
We will dispatch a squad at once brother Vaxios. Blessings of the Stars upon you.
And the same to you brother.
With that, Vaxios settled in to lead prayer and meditation for the others. The light of the luminators glinted off of the metal beads that the Mage-Priest waved around, invoking the blessings of the Star Gods, coming to elevate the worthy to godhood. The others intoned the proper responses, sang the hymns, and prayed with fervor. They had been able to keep the enemy from completing their objectives, making them pay dearly for every meter of ground they took. They were blessed to have been able to do that to a superior force. It was clear that they had the power of the true gods behind them, and that the False Goddess had no power here anymore. After the prayers and meditation, the group prepared for sleep, posting Laura and Vera for the first watch.
As morning neared, one of the small civilian vehicles, faster and more agile than the APCs, had made the trip through the night to reinforce the squad. The leader of the group, a larger brother wielding his rifle with practiced ease, stepped forward. “Brother-Priest Vaxios, Bravo Squad reporting. I am Corporal Cantus, and my fellow soldiers are Xander and our weapon specialist, Sister Jinora. We are here to assist you, as per your request.” The three were human looking, but to a well trained eye, or to fellow cultists, they were clearly part of the Church. Their psychic link was weaker than that of some of the more blessed brothers, but they still had it. Their armor was HDF grade, probably stolen, while the Earthquake Cannon showed that Jinora had worked in the mines or a demolition crew for a while.
After meeting the rest of the warband, Jinora moved towards the door, aiming her Earthquake Cannon at the door, then with a pull of the trigger, a thundering boom shattered the ancient metal and stone, leaving a gaping hole for the group to enter through.
With a grin she turned and spoke. “Shall we get moving? The Patriarch has given us a holy task. Best not to dawdle.”
Mother ran a hand over her artificial leg for the fiftieth time since they’d made camp in the desert, just fifty kilometers from their destination. As the good, disgruntled doctor had told her, it had taken some time to get used to it, but in the end, it proved useful. She was at her full range of motion once again, maybe even a little faster. But the bastard limb still suffered from phantom limb syndrome, the psychic ties enabling more fluid motion also aggravating the imaginary pain her mind conjured. Once the mission was over, she would have to attend a few therapy sessions to rid herself of it.
She looked out at the cadre at the camp they had made. Loyal servants of the God-Queen, one and all. The convoy of HDF that had been following them were making good time, despite being beset on all sides by the foul mutants. Whatever they were doing, they were growing ever more powerful. In her mind, she could sense their power bubbling, and the beacons in the Lyceums has told her of an encroaching darkness, that threatened to swallow the planet whole. She could not allow this.
Their path had been beset by ambushes every step of the way, and while troublesome, scouting ahead with her daughters had proved them capable of dismantling many of the cultists’ way points. Heavy ordnance had been found, mines and the like, designed to slow down their approach, but the worst of it had thankfully been averted due to their efforts.
The vile mutants were growing ever more formidable as time went on, while her own supplies were lagging behind considerably. The only saving grace was the sheer skill of her beloved daughters, who grew ever fiercer in combat the longer things lingered. A touch of pride filled her whenever she witnessed their fervor in combat.
But she knew they were quickly becoming outgunned. The vile mutants were becoming more wretched by the day, gaining all new manner of terrible alterations to use in combat, while she was still struggling to get what few armaments they had.
She took a deep breath. The God-Queen would deliver them to victory.
Post by brutusaurelius on Jun 16, 2017 0:02:35 GMT
Alright, so everything has been updated with the aftermath of the first skirmish. Calaxia is cut off from the rest of the God-Queen's domain, and the Cult is going to press the attack on the planet's forces
Post by brutusaurelius on Jun 22, 2017 13:02:38 GMT
Battle 2 updates are finished. A close battle in the narrow confines of a hab block has resulted in Battle Sister forces being pushed back from controlled hab blocks, and the Cult forces have begun to fortify their new territory. In addition, All of the Battle Sister warband has leveled up and geared up, while the Cult forces only had Markus level up.
Post by brutusaurelius on Jun 27, 2017 20:51:03 GMT
Updated for battle 3. The Cult lost pretty badly, being stomped in the first round. However, they all leveled up, had gained enough points to recruit a new warrior, and dealt a killing blow to one of the Battle Sisters. Now both warbands are neck and neck.
Post by brutusaurelius on Jul 4, 2017 23:20:08 GMT
Updated for Battle 4. The Cult made a daring ambush in the desert, attempting to slow the Battle Sisters down on their way to secure the solar arrays. They lost the fight, but they managed to get some lucky events, including a free point of Planetary Influence. The war continues to rage across the planet of Calaxia, and seems to be sitting at a steady stalemate.
Post by brutusaurelius on Aug 24, 2017 22:06:57 GMT
The aftermath of battle 5 has been added after our hiatus! The Cult of Renewal's members took a beating in the fight to gain access to the essential solar arrays, but they came back stronger than ever. The Inquisitorial Task Force has been gaining a lead, but they will have their work cut out for them in keeping it. The Calaxian loyalists and the Cult's forces fight for every meter of ground they gain, all while something sinister approaches in the distance...