This is the third scenario of the Crown of Bones Inquisitor campaign. It’s another Annex mission, similar to Dust-up at Distro-19, and not as plot-critical as Chapter missions like last week’s No Souls On Board.
Despite it being a side-step from the core drama, the moon of Skathi had its fair share of drama. In this scenario, Explicator Stigg and his entourage get a tip-off from a Mayweather Guildmaster and meet him at his secure compound on Skathi to secure the information. Unfortunately for them both, Genetor Vacillus had different plans for the Guildmaster.
Setting the scene
The moon of Skathi is little more than a large asteroid, picked by Mayweather Borers as one of many forward bases around the system. It has a breathable atmosphere, but little in the way of life beyond clusters of spiky plants. The only environmental feature of note is its rapid day-night cycle, meaning sunsets can happen very quickly.
Sunset: Visibility starts at 50″. At the beginning of every round, visibility is reduced by 5″.
The Mayweather compound is a standard pattern – thick walls surrounding functional buildings that can be dropped from orbit. They have to work under all manner of conditions, often against native fauna or local rivals, so armed guards are needed around the clock.
There are three mercenaries present – one by the landing pad to welcome the Explicator, one by the gate, and one on the wall above the gate.
Fortunately for Genetor Vacillus, some routine maintenance is being carried out on an unprotected section of the boundary wall. Some labourers loyal to House Dacien have been planted in the compound. Vacillus knows he’ll be getting help from the House Dacien tracker, but he didn’t know the extent of the setup…
Guildmaster Von Horne is holed up in his private bunker, surrounded by ‘advisors’ and his personal guard. He knows he might not make it through the night and has drunk himself into a stupour, much to the annoyance of his guards.
The shipping logs are contained in a datslate carried by his valet servitor. It’s protected by sensor bafflers and EM shielding, so it can’t be accessed or wiped remotely.
Explicator Stigg is back after his run-in with Crowblade’s pit fighters at Distro-19, now with an actual model! He returns with Rogue Trader Phaelon, an uneasy alliance of convenience more than anything else, and one of Phaelon’s crew – an “industrial servitor” called Evee.
Despite what you might suspect, Evee is of course a helpful automaton and not abominable intelligence. Remember, always look for the Aquila.
Explicator Stigg’s arrival is expected by the compound guards, and his goal is to meet up with Guildmaster Von Horne and receive his data in exchange for Stigg’s protection.
Genetor Vacillus is on Skathi thanks to the careful pathfinding of his House Dacien tracker, a kroot named Omar Anoke. Vacillus was tipped off to this meeting by a contact inside House Dacien, and for personal security has brought along his prototype arco-flagellant X-206.
Vacillus is planning on stealing the shipping logs for himself. Unfortunately Anoke has orders of his own – silence Von Horne before he can spill his secrets. The shipping logs are supposed to fall into enemy hands…
Vacillus’ warband sets up hugging the outer wall of the compound, near the breach at the edge of the board. They’re expecting to hop through and head straight for the bunker.
Stigg’s warband deploy on the landing pad after being dropped off by shuttle. They’ll have to find an alternate way off the board once they’ve secured the data.
The sun dips low in the sky. Anoke had been dragging his two charges for some distance, and he was frustrated at how little urgency they seemed to have. He was relieved to be at the compound – he could finally move at his own pace, do the job, and leave.
He gestured at Vacillus to follow him to a breach in the wall. On the other side were two labourers performing some kind of maintenance. Anoke stood in clear sight of them. The welding stopped.
“Ash and bone” he croaked in human-speak.
Without any kind of acknowledgement, they simply downed tools and left. Anoke knew they were off to sabotage the Guildmaster’s escape vehicle, but he’d keep that to himself. Vacillus would only be a liability if he knew Anoke’s real mission.
The shuttle dusted off, leaving Explicator Stigg and his retinue looking a little lost on the landing pad.
“Identification!” Shouted a mercenary in a yellow overcoat.
Stigg flashed his rosette.
“Explicator Stigg. This is Rogue Trader Augustus Phaelon and our faithful automaton Evee. I believe your boss is expecting us.”
Vacillus was surprised at how well orchestrated this infiltration was. The Kroot had only exchanged a few words with these labourers and they immediately left their posts. No matter. They needed to move on the target.
He tapped a few instructions into his datapad. X206 had been hovering behind them near silently, but sparks now snapped from its electro-tentacles as power surged through its body.
With House Dacien’s blueprint data, Vacillus entered target information into X206’s subroutines. X206’s orders were to sneak up on the bunker and await activation.
Swimming through the air like a deep-sea creature, X206 pushed passed the labourers and glided into the compound.
Anoke watched the murderous machine flow through the breach and past the labourers. It moved like something that knew it was at the top of the food chain. He expected Vacillus to show a little restraint with his murderous mechanical companion, but perhaps he midjudged him.
Anoke took up position on a nearby silo, clearing several storeys in a single effortless leap. He checked his weapon and took up position, overwatching the empty stretch of road between the bunker and the escape vehicle.
He watched the electric predator swim lazily towards the bunker. Wasp nest, meet stick.
The guard in yellow whistled a message across the compound, receiving several whistles and hand signals in return. He seemed satisfied at the response, and gestured at Stigg to approach the bunker.
The Guildmaster’s bunker was alive with coloured lights and thumping music, with sounds of merriment coming from inside. The Guilder guards looked particularly angry at this arrangement.
Stigg and Phaelon approached, Evee following behind with surprisingly delicate footsteps. Phaelon stayed outside, making ineffective compliments about the guard’s fashion choices, and Stigg entered.
“Inquisitor!” The Guildmaster roared and threw his hands in the air, knocking over a bottle of something bubbly.
“Explicator.” Stigg corrected to deaf ears.
Von Horne continued, as his ‘advisors’ giggled and fawned. “Come in, come in! I’ve been waiting for you! Come, we have time, pour yourself a drink, we have much to discuss.”
Von Horne reaches for a new bottle, but a guard leans over and plucks it from his grasp. “No sir, we do not have time for another drink.”
X206 had moved into position, finding an open window on the bunker. It was the perfect size for slithering in. He pressed close to the wall, waiting for his activation.
Sticking to the growing shadows, Vacillus took cover in an alcove by the foot of the stairs overlooking the bunker. It was a satisfactory overlook. He tapped his datapad and opened up a vox channel to Anoke. “Fire on my command.”
He didn’t require a response from Anoke, nor would he receive one.
He tapped his datapad again, changing channels. “X206. All organic targets except the valet servitor are viable. Activate.”
What happened next appeared in slow motion.
X206 slipped into the window, and in a heartbeat turned from sluggish sea predator into the blazing heart of a star.
Barely-contained energy crackled from every limb, charring everything it touched.
X206 became a hurricane of metal and fire. It lashed out at the nearest viable target, turning one of Von Horne’s advisors into strips of flesh with a flick of the wrist.
Chaos reigns. The murderous assailant lashes out indiscriminately, punctuated by screams of confusion and fear. Some guards leap forward to attack, throwing themselves between the machine and their master.
It is a bloodbath.
Amongst the violence, Stigg manages to place himself between X206 and the Guildmaster, dragging him outside to relative safety. The Guildmaster finds the energy to tell Stigg about the escape vehicle waiting outside the compound, while thick red gobbets of his bodyguards rain down around him.
Completely paralysed by shock, Von Horne finds himself being scooped under the arm of another machine. This time a towering industrial automaton. It speaks to him in soothing tones.
“You are being rescued, please do not resist.”
While all this violence is happening, the two turncoat labourers have made their way towards the escape vehicle.
They easily convince the guard to help defend the Guildmaster, leaving the truck completely undefended.
The sounds of gunfire mix with the thumping tunes from the bunker. Stigg’s laspistols are in his hands in the blink of an eye, and he opens up at point blank range.
Half a clip of ammunition barely scratches the arco-flagellant, and it turns its rage towards him. He shouts at Evee to get Von Horne to safety.
With the Guildmaster in his arms, Evee makes a break across the courtyard, right into the crosshairs of the waiting Kroot assassin.
With a sharp crack, the Kroot rifle punches through Evee’s protective casing and into the gut of the Guildmaster.
Waiting in the wings is Vacillus. He was surprised by the Kroot’s actions, but given the rapidly evolving situation, made a snap decision to roll it into his own plan.
He raised his organic cleanser at the incoming automata and fired.
The organic cleanser is a weapon of his own devising. It’s a single-shot weapon with a one turn recharge that acts like the Blood Boil psychic power. Its base function is to strip faulty biological components from broken servitors while keeping the cybernetics intact. It’s an extremely messy affair when used against a living target, of course.
Passing his Ballistic Skill test by 40, Vacillus liquifies all of Guildmaster Von Horne’s innards in a manner of seconds. He becomes a lifeless sack of bones and mush, flopping around in Evee’s arms.
Evee holds up his charge to examine the extent of the damage. It appears irrepairable.
As confusion and violence ripples across the compound, some of the guards looking for answers have just spotted a giant machine carrying the limp, lifeless body of their master. In a panic, they open fire on Evee.
The compound is a battleground, with skirmishes raging all over. Anoke drops down from his perch. His work complete, he slinks away through the breach.
At the bunker, X206 has murdered or grievously wounded every guard inside. Stigg and Phaelon pour gunfire into it, stunning it and slowing its advance, but failing to stop it.
Near the gatehouse, Evee moves to engage the Mechanicus adept who liquified Von Horne. He slams him against the statue and raking Vacillus’ arm with his servo claw, burning it to the bone.
Staggering back, Vacillus takes stock of the situation and decides discretion is the better part of valour. He orders X206 to destroy anything interacting with the valet servitor and slinks off through the entrance. He’ll have more luck picking over whatever X206 leaves in its wake, and there’s little his organic cleanser can do against this huge automaton.
On top of all this, guards are still firing at X206 and Evee. One mistakes Vacillus for a labourer, and shouts at him to get to the extraction vehicle while they cover their retreat.
The panicked surviving advisor runs through the compound, covered in blood.
The sun is gone, the compound lit only by its fading corona. Visibility was down to 15″, and everyone was making their last plays of the game.
Stigg runs over to the valet servitor and snatches up the data-slate. “We need to move!” he shouts at Phaelon.
The Rogue Trader makes a move towards the truck, but sees the guards still bouncing bullets off Evee’s armoured shell.
“Cease fire! The servitor’s with us!” he yells, hoping to get the guards on side, “We’re trying to protect you!”
The guards pause. The gunfire subsides. The quiet is interrupted by the sounds of arcing electricity. X206 has powered back up.
With frightening speed it beelines for the valet servitor, hell-bent on carrying out its new orders. It lashes out at the person nearest the target, and no matter how hard Stigg tries, he can’t dodge the electric storm of lashes that rains down on him.
Explicator Stigg goes down, bleeding from multiple wounds, his pelvis a bloodied pulp.
Without missing a beat it turns its attentions to the next closest – Phaelon. Energy arcs from its limbs as it prepares to spiralise the Rogue Trader, but suddenly stops short.
Evee has returned! He had grabbed X206 by its locomotive tentacles, and with a crackle of his own powered servo-claw, pulls the lower half of the combat servitor clean away.
X206 flickers and dies in a pool of machine oil and sparks of electricity.
With no more antagonists left on the board (Anoke was long since gone, and Vacillus was in retreat), the game was called to a close.
What remained of the Guild bundled the Explicator and his team into the back of the truck to evacuate. Stigg was barely alive, but they had secured the shipping logs of the Ius Soli. What additional secrets the Guildmaster had unfortunately died with him.
Explicator Stigg’s warband makes off with the data-slate and earn themselves 1 Resource, putting them on 4 in total. Given Stigg’s critical groin injury, it’s highly likely that fresh Resource isn’t going to be sticking around too long!
Vacillus’ team score nothing, and are likely going to need some extra help repairing X206. Vanth won’t be pleased that his plausible deniability failed to come up with the goods, and will be taking to the field personally in future.
Easily our bloodiest game yet, and it’s hard to see how that level of slaughter could be topped! Dropping X206 in a secure bunker was like dumping piranhas in a pool and taking away the ladder.
The shipping logs were an unclaimed piece of evidence from Chapter 1: No Souls On Board. They show that the last activity of the Ius Soli was a trade taking place between Novator Hypatos and a group of xenologists. Hypatos was bringing a recently unearthed artifact codenamed “the circlet”. It appears this meeting was set up by the heir-apparent Mistress Dacien – the veracity of this claim is now a liquified sack of bones rotting on the surface of Skathi.
An exciting and deadly game of which giant monster will hit the other first, with a sprinkling of intrigue on the side. Let’s see what Stigg does with this information in the future…
See you next week!