Friday, 26 September 2014

Dark Heresy: Tattered Fates - Session ??? - The Last Rays Of The Thirteenth Hour

It's been some time since we've last tackled an RPG session, and I do apologise for this. Truth be told I have tried to write this a good four or five times to keep things going, but i've been running into the same problem again and again: There was too much going on but the story was ultimately meaningless.

Allow me to explain, since the last Shadowrun campaign we have had another member join our merry band of roleplayers. The quality of these recorded sessions was bad enough as it was, many desperately need a re-write, and I honestly have great difficulty noting everything down during the three hour sessions we have each week. Adding one more character, one more voice to keep track of, has started to cause things to fall between the cracks, especially with the group near endlessly splitting off to do their own thing. 

The other problem is that Tattered Fates seems to be an exceptionally badly told campaign. While our GM has blamed himself for badly explaining it, I honestly cannot see how it would work well. The party was treated like chumps, having all our equipment stolen without any tests to resist knock-out drugs, and we're then thrown into a plot we cannot hope to effect. The entire story revolves around two heretical groups wanting to use the Steel Clock for themselves, and the party can do nothing to actually stop them until the end. Just about the entire campaign is spent learning about Erasmus Haarlock, a character who never bothers to put in any kind of appearance, and the few times we did try to go after the villains it amounted to nothing. One was completely invincible and could apparently teleport to wherever he wanted to go in order to avoid us, the other would occasionally show up in crowds, laugh evilly and then disappear up his own arse for the next several sessions.

Ultimately this just resulted in our group pointlessly meandering about the building, picking up useless information on Haarlock's past which did not help us in the slightest, and occasionally getting into fights. As such, we're just going to skip to the end of this storyline, AKA the only bit of this tale which actually mattered and we could have any impact upon. The only bit you really need to know about is this - The party pillaged the living feth out of a number of artifacts from the building's trophy room. Upsetting security, the party managed to walk away with a few items of note from high quality kine blades to a legendary Space Wolf axe.

Okay, with that done, let's finish this damn thing!

As the Steel Clock slowly ticked towards the thirteenth hour, the ensemble of nobles, guests, dignitaries and rogue traders began filing into the towering antechamber where it was held. Surrounded by timers each gradually ticking towards the fated hour so many had come to experience, the Steel Clock's hands inched ever closer to that fateful moment where the heretics would make their move. Among the crowd, many were rather less than subtly readying concealed weapons, preparing to finish one old feud or another in a fleeting period where all laws would be rescinded and blood would flow through the streets. What better time was there for this Chaotic cabal to make its move, or to begin some unholy ritual involving the arcane machine.

Scattered among the crowds, the acolytes were in position. Dwr's massive form could be seen towering head and shoulders over a few frightened nobles, Bardason lurked close to the Clock itself with his new-found weapon of legend barely concealed beneath his coat, and Cromwell was ready to decapitate the first man to mention the Ruinous Powers. The only exception to this was Guilliman, who had opted to head for the upper terraces of the room. This had been in part to help the psyker pin-point the Widower or members of the cult upon appearing, but more pressingly a few precious blades just happened to be preserved in glass cases on that level. Hey, with all crimes being rescinded, who was going to object to him pillaging a few goods and start laying down the Emperor's justice.

Well, slowly but inevitably every clock hit thirteen and a deafening roar echoed throughout the building. The chimes from before had been loud enough to burst a man's ear drums or make him temporarily deaf, but these had some unnatural edge to them. Something was clearly wrong with the clock itself and this was only reinforced as a shadow cloaked man bearing an animal mask took to the stage before it. Right on cue our heretics had revealed themselves, but before we could storm the stage something terrible happened. 

The Inquisitorial agents had expected the worst, they had expected daemons, perhaps even traitor astartes among their ranks, summoning circles and the like. It was at this point that they truly learnt why the Steel Clock had been so important to their plans. The room, perhaps even all of Gabriel Chase, was flooded with some unnatural blue light of an alien sun as reality itself seemed to crack open around the clock. Charged with the force of the Warp the light of an alien sun, an unnatural star, was unleashed upon the astonished populace as the cultists had begun firing. A few of our group, those more knowledgeable about such subjects realised the true magnitude of what Haarlock had chained within the Steel Clock: A fragment of the Hereticus Tenebrae. By some unknown means, Haarlock had managed to lock rays from the terrifying Tyrant Star within the construct. If we did not halt them here, if we could not find a way to destroy this baleful light, every living thing on the world of Quaddis would be gone within the hour. 

Mistakenly thinking that the cultists now firing into the crowds needed human blood for whatever ritual they planned, Bardason drew two laspisols and began picking off the heretics. The barbaric Guardsman was rewarded with a few kills, but failed to make any real impact on the slaughter, save for drawing some of the fire to himself. As he was dodging bullets, Cromwell opted to get in on the fighting himself and charged a cultist near the portal, starting a fight with him and a few other mooks. This unfortunately didn't go in his favour and the Tech Priest was soon on the back-foot.

With two members engaged against cannon fodder, Dwr opted to simply charge the one leading the cult, and bloody murder soon followed. Despite being an ancient practitioner of the powers of the Warp, a psyker beyond all reckoning, Dwr had the advantage of complete immunity to his abilities and being built like a brick shithouse. Cue the cultist being repeatedly punched across the room as the arbites officer shrugged off bio lighting, pyrokinesis and the odd summoned daemon.

I'd say this villain's name but quite frankly he was not important. He was featured so little in the campaign besides cameo appearances once in a blue moon, and is killed off by the GMPC, so he really didn't matter in the end.

What did matter was the sudden emergence of the Widower. Coming completely out of left field, the xenos creature was screaming obscenities, butchering its way through everything in sight as it charged towards the Clock. Even as Guilliman dropped down and entered the melee himself, things were going badly. Along with a rampaging creature bearing down upon two members of our group, Cromwell was losing his fight against one cultist badly. For all his enhancements and augmentations thanks to his power armour, the cultist he was brawling against was the more skilled warrior. 

Punched backwards again and again, the Tech Priest swung a multitude of punches before realising the clock was open, exposing its internal mechanisms. Something within it hung at the end of the pendulum, a solid core of some unknown crystalline material of deepest black. The only thing it seemed to resemble at all was the Widower. Even as he noticed this, Cromwell was slammed from behind by another foe and sent tumbling into the machine's inner workings. Desperately grasping for the object, Cromwell managed to yell a fleeting warning before he was torn to pieces. As the flesh was stripped from his bones and metal warped beyond all recognition, within mere seconds the Magos was ripped to pieces by the arcane machinery and unknown forces within the creation.

With a yell of denial, Guilliman and Bardason both charged the clock even as the Widower arrived before them, leering at the two humans and hungry for combat. Unhooking the Axe of Baldr, the legendary weapon he'd looted, from across his back Bardason stormed forwards, hacking again and again at the creature's viscous skin with the power of fate itself. Even as he did, Guilliman charged from the other side, both of his psychically charged weapons humming with the force of his mind, slashing through the creature in a blinding storm of spinning blades. 

Between them the two inflicted enough damage to kill a space marine twice over, and yet it was not enough. Within moments it reformed, completely bereft of all damage and slammed into Bardason. The Fenrisian staggered back, barely avoiding the same fate as Cromwell before spotting the same crystalline object within its centre. Reeling from one of the Widower's blows, Bardason spun, dropping the axe and lunging out with his bionic arm. Punching it towards the crystal, its outer casing warped by some unknown force of time energy within its centre, Bardason's metal fist closed about the object. Even as the Widower screamed in denial, striking him again and again, Bardason fell back, ripping it free of the Steel Clock's housing.

The effect was instantaneous. Still screaming, the Widower began to boil away, its form collapsing into little more than a graying puddle of whimpering alien matter as the fragment binding it to the Steel Clock was removed. At the same time, the light shining through the building abruptly ceased with a roaring thunderclap, the Steel Clock itself grinding to a halt within seconds of its pendulum's removal. As quickly as it had begun, the crisis was over, leaving no sign of the calamity which had almost befallen Quaddis save for the the corpses littering the room. The panicked moans and yells from beyond, far into the city, suggested that this was hardly isolated to the building itself, and worse had befallen those beyond Gabriel Chase's limits.

With nothing left of their companion, unwilling to accept blame for this incident and with no way to prove their connections to the Inquisition, the band bravely fled the scene of the crime to hide within the city. Only after looting a few valuable gems on the way out of course. By the time Van Graff and the rest of the Inquisition caught up with them, the band had been toasting Cromwell's memory with the expensive bottle of fine wine he had stolen from the Inquisitior's office.

Another task had drawn to a close, but with in far more solemn manner than usual the band drank to their victory. More conflicts would await them in the weeks to come, more aliens would threaten humanity and worse things awaited them in the cold void between worlds. Even as they drank their last, the bottled remnants of the Widower chillingly whispered the same words over and over again: "He is coming."

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