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Alexei

The Harrowing | Kadia Event

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The horde came onwards, like a force of nature unleashed. A thousand seething beastmen, fresh for the bloodletting.

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The Force Majeure evacuated in disciplined order. The Kadians first, then the Guardians. James, Tenkai, and the Greatswords held the very rear of the retreat up the vessel’s ramps while the airship’s heavy weaponry flared overhead, providing cover. Guns barked, blades flashed, until at the very last, there were only two Custodes left on the ground. A brute riding upon a daemonic steed of brass and steaming blood bound through the overlapping fields of fire and cut them off in a furious charge. A fresh throng of minions followed this intrepid foe, and it was only with the greatest effort that both militants managed to fight their way back to the airship’s ramp, back-to-back, bludgeoning, hacking, and shooting their way through the thick ranks of the enemy.

On the horizon, fresh daemon engines had arrived. Two more Tower of Skulls was cresting over the ridge, joining the one already on the field and advancing towards the airship. A multitude of other horrors arrived as well, true vanguards of the Chaos Blood God, infernal Juggernaut steeds and tank-sized mechanical Brass Scorpions, being driven by equally large six-limbed Defilers. Shells rained down upon the Imperator Bellum, light and inaccurate at first, but building with each passing second.

The Juggernaut hell beast and its rider barred the Greatswords’s Path once more. Undaunted by this fearsome foe, both Custodes worked in concert, splitting the attention of rider and mount. One of them fired directly into the beast’s mouth as it charged, staggering it to the ground with precision shots to vitals while the other ducked a sword sweep that would have taken off his head, retaliating by carving a hissing gouge through the juggernaut’s haunch with his vibroblade as it passed. They struck again together as the daemonic rider toppled from his fallen mount, spearing the beastman through its chest and the hellbeast through its eye-socket, bypassing the thickly armored plates it possessed. Cleanly done, but it took time all the same. Time that they no longer had as the rest of the horde surrounded them with not a moment’s respite to spare.

Go!” was the only word shouted. Grabbing his comrade, one of the men all but hurled the other onto the ramp with his suit’s augmented strength, where other Custodes awaited, providing covering fire as long as they could. They grabbed him onto the warrior in his heavy armor immediately. One of the beastmen made an intrepid jump to try and pull the Greatsword down, but was clipped by a burst of rounds from the former Custode, who then had to turn and face an axe screaming for his face. The weapon tore off a portion of his helmet as he twisted away and body-checked the new beastman aside, emptying the rest of his rifle into it and another one coming up beside it before the firing chamber of the gun slammed shut on empty.

He was surrounded. It mattered not. Tossing the firearm away, the Greatsword hefted his vibroblade up in both hands, the large weapon humming as he parried a new strike and clove the offender in half in a spray of gore. He fought on. It mattered not. The sheer weight of numbers pressed upon him. Every sweep of his sword drew blood, and culled an unclean life, but soon there was no room to swing. He was not even able to turn. He was left behind. It mattered not. The Imperator Bellum could not stay any longer on the ground, vulnerable. He was left behind, a single solitary blood-soaked golden light in a sea of madness and bloodshed. He died hard. That was all that mattered. The strength of the beastmen was telling, blows coming in from all angles, cracking his formidable armor, and driving him to his knees. An axe found itself buried up under his rib-cage, and he coughed blood. Somehow the Greatsword found the strength to thrash the attacker across the face, breaking an infernal nose with his gauntleted fist. It was the last action he would take as a war maul smashed him flat onto his back and his vision dimmed. The world fell mercifully black as the final blow was struck, and the Greatsword would feel nothing more, not any of the blows that followed after that, as the horde hacked and tore him to pieces.

Edited by Fierach

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A hum resonated into her mind.

Alexa barely opened her eyes, the white lights of the Imperator's medical bay blinding her like a sun upon her eyes, the psyker covering her faces weakly with a hand. A large gauntlet held it, however, the concerned face of Lena softly putting it back to rest.

"Don't move too much Inquisitor... You suffered many injuries and the other psychics say you strained too hard on that last burst. You really saved many lives out there..."

Indeed, perhaps among the fighting she didn't notice the amount of injuries. Her jacket was off, leaving her only with her bra protecting her top. Medi-gel and gauze covered what appeared to be several stab wounds and slashes, adding more to the already many scars among her torso. Ironically, the tattoo of the scholastica psykana appeared to be covered as well.

The psyker girl became restless. She couldn't keep her mind quiet for long, and it seemed to become harder to focus. She could feel the huge pull of the chaos hordes approaching... And the lights lagging behind in the approach back to the Imperator Bellum.

She tried to stand up, Lena trying to hold her back.

"No, Alexa. You are heavily sedated, please remain in the bed..." The Custode said, trying to keep her from standing up.

In her stupor, all Alexa could answer with was by shaking her head. Struggling, she unplugged everything from her and climbed out of the clinic bed, Lena right beside her trying to help her.

"I... Want to... Save them." She whispered.

The Inquisitor walked back to the loading bay, every step harder than the last... But it was too late. She raised her hand, trying to use her powers to stop the ramp from closing, but her eyes merely flickered for a second before going back to normal. In a last effort, she tried to run, able to make it to half way before the ramp finally locked and the Imperator began to lift off the battlefield.

She fell to her knees.

"No... I can still... I can get him up just..."

Lena held the psyker and lifted her up, holding her on her arms. The golden light of that last Greatsword shone brightly, brighter than anything down there... Before dimming down to nothing. Outside the observation window, scores of dead bodies laid, the fresh horde stepping over the cadavers like they were nothing but obstacles. Among those bodies, gleaming armors laid as well, motionless.

As Lena carried her back to medical, Alexa could only hold close to her chest, her eyes filled with weak tears.

All she could think of, was that she couldn't save them all...

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And with that, it was finished.

The Imperator Bellum unleashed its fury upon the infernal siege engines and the forces surrounding them, utterly obliterating them in a storm of light and ordnance. The beastmen roared with implacable fury in the face of their own defeat as they were blown to pieces and vaporized much too far away from their enemy to satisfy their ever-burning desire for glorious combat. For the devotees of the Khorne, victory was not nearly as important as blood, and although the Blood God cared not for how the blood flowed, his ravenous faithful would be undoubtedly spurned by such an ignominious end. Always thus to the lost and the damned.

For a moment, it almost felt as if the Order had won the day. 

And then they arrived.

Like a flood washing over the Warp-blasted landscape, reinforcements arrived to bolster the ranks of the Khornate beastmen. Truth be told, “reinforcements” was probably not the most appropriate term, for the roving warbands of mutants and daemonspawn were not so much interested in aiding their fellow devoted as they were wetting their blades with fresh blood. They’d sooner fight amongst themselves if necessary in order to keep the realm of Khorne drenched with gore. To Tenkai’s spectral sight, they were as a sea of red, a boiling cauldron of rage that would completely inundate the Order if they did not make their retreat.

Their efforts had bought enough time to repair the Imperator Bellum’s engines. James gave the call to retreat, and there would be no objection from Tenkai. The monk quickly pulled back, forced to draw his Muramasa once again in order to literally cut a hasty retreat. And beastman that sought to impede him was swiftly cut down. The swordsman did not waste any time ending them in such a thorough fashion as the soundly defeated chieftain. There was no time for that. A single well-placed cut, severing a blade-wielding arm or relieving them of their torsos and heads. Not a single wasted movement as Tenkai carved a path back to the ship.

The Custodes fought hard to make their way back to the ship. Invariably, there would be those that were cut off, but such could not be helped. Those who could delay the enemy with their sacrifice would do so for the sake of several others of their comrades in arms so that most of them would live to see the next day. To reach the next battlefield. It was a sacrifice they gave not out of blind loyalty, but a willing commitment to what they chose as their solemn duty. It was as it should be for all true warriors. 

Tenkai finally made it back to the ship as the engines were already burning, ready to make the jump back into the Aether. Truly, he was glad to quit this accursed place. Every moment they spent here was a blight upon the soul. Yet even he had to accept that they were only going from one hell into the next.

There would be more battles to come. And today, the Order would live to see them.

Edited by Tenkai Matsumoto

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"To your stations !" James roared over the din just inside one of the primary embarkment ramps. "Move!" Outside the din of battle became muted, but they could still hear the endless bellowing of the chaos horde. A sharper sound came, a screaming that grew in intensity immediately before it terminated in an abrupt jolt, the vessel shuddering. One of the Towers had gotten within range and was lobbing fresh shells at the airship. The void shielding held, but the impact could be clearly felt. James stretched out an arm to steady himself, and then helped up a slumped Guardian, foisting him off on a comrade. “Get the wounded to medical, now!” he glared over at Lena and the inquisitor Alexa, the former who quailed under the battle-fury still present in his eyes.

One job, Guardian! Get Ms. Caelestia back to the infirmary!” his voice was no less thunderous when he turned to Alexa, “Inquisitor! You are wounded. You will desist from using your psyker powers in your condition aboard my ship before you lose control in your weakened state and tear an opening in the shielding from the warp!” It was not a request, more like a statement of fact, as if the Daemonslayer’s own indomitable will could change reality to fit it.

In the bridge of the ship, matters were no less hectic. Captain Clavis displayed his mastery of the frigate’s abilities and his command of the crew and coordinated the vessel’s escape. More shells rattled off the Imperator Bellum’s shields and the ship responded in kind, lancing out and devastating many of the smaller daemon war machines on the ground as they made good their escape. Two miles away from the battleground they made their exit, the experimental engine opening a new tear in unreality for the ship to pass though, to continue on their path within the Harrowing.

The battle was over.

The war went on.

Edited by Fierach

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The days in transit after the Battle of the Desert Sea, as the engagement was coming to be known for now was filled with rest and recuperation, repair and rearmament. In particular, Force Majeure engineers became ever more effective at extorting the esoteric and experimental engines to efficacy. They all but guaranteed that such a malfunction that led to their grounding would never happen again.

Alexa would spend a few days in the medical bay. Most of it was at the Master Knight's behest, sternly enforced by the Guardian Lena Drachenberg. The health of the Kadians, particularly that of the psyker was very important. It was especially important to Lena's own health and career as James so emphasized to her in private. 

Whilst the Inquisitor was there, she would also be accompanied by a few others who were healing. One of them was a man, heavily scarred by actions from past and present. He was seen carving a small statue out of wood with a heavy-set combat knife. He was a reserved man, and it would only be with the greatest care that Alexa would be able to find out what he was doing.

He was carving a memorial for his friend, his fellow Greatsword, the one who had fell on the blood-soaked plains they left behind. Nobody knew when the venerable aspect of Greatswords began this custom, rumor being that the first Greatsword that started this tradition was a lone survivor of his squad from some apocalyptic event in the city of Sigil, but for every one of their fallen, a Greatsword's comrades would craft a small statue and epitaph for them.

The Custode sat solemnly, his own face wreathed in bandages, for he had suffered from a powerful overhead swing that cracked his helm during the battle, breaking his nose and fracturing his cheekbones. His name was Davath, Davath Melenin, and his friend was Dastan Begum. Even amongst the elite, Dastan was renown as a prodigious warrior, a swordsman of such ability he was originally tapped to help train the new aspect of Vanquishers, but brotherhood led him to decline. He had been satisfied being where he was amongst the killing vanguard of his fellow Greatswords, bolstering their morale with his sheer skill at arms, besting them in training matches and buying many rounds of drinks afterwards to celebrate.

Davath put his mediocre skill at carving to form, sculpting out a likeness of his fallen friend. Together, he and the other Greatswords of the squad would give Dastan his due whenever, if they returned to the Komturie at last. 

If Alexa looked closely, she'd be able to see the epitaph they had decided upon, written down on a nearby piece of paper.

"Dastan Begum.

He never failed to take our drinking change after the sparring mats. 

Our livers might not agree, but we give our thanks for your passing. 

So here's to you. Save us a cup where you're heading brother."

Edited by Fierach

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The weight of command fell upon James. Five were dead, one Greatsword and four Guardians. Another Guardian would not likely survive his wounds, and almost half the others had been injured in some way. Statistically speaking, they laid waste to the enemy, but their numbers were few enough and each loss was keenly felt. It was with a weary heart that James finally retired to his quarters aboard the ship, finally done with the burdens and responsibilities of command, and ensuring everybody else was settled and recuperating, and looking forward to a brief nap before the next crisis reared its head.

Of course, things were never so simple. This time, next crisis came immediately, tailored just for him. There was a figure in his commander’s quarters, well-known to him, a lithe woman who tossed her blonde locks in irritation. Selene Belfreid had been waiting for him, out of her armor now and outfitted in a set of Kadian service dress. “James. I am warning you. I am not some damsel to be pulled away from combat!”

Oh good, Selene wants to address this now” he. Ignoring the Kadian knightess at first, James stalked past her and began the tedious task of removing his armor. She followed after him. “This is my home and I will fight for it! I could’ve still fought. We could have won! Do not try to control me on the field of battle ever again!

This is your home. You will fight for it” he repeated back to her, accenting certain words, then turned his head in her direction with a scowl. “But this is my operation, Selene, and my ship. So you will do as I tell you to”. He didn’t have to even address the absurdity that they were going to win that, a battle with the second horde when they had barely managed to turn back the first. It was bravado, they both knew it, but he understood that this was her home. Used to be her home. Falling back probably felt like failing. But they had not failed yet, far from it.

Selene was having none of it. “Then I demand to be let off”, she snapped impetuously. The Daemonslayer barked a laugh in reply. “Let you off? Where? You wouldn’t survive. And besides…”, he uncoupled his sword sheathe, placing it on a nearby table before facing her and striding up right before her and leaning in for full effect. ”I. Won’t. Let. You”.

The young woman’s eyes could have popped out of her skull right there and then in her indignation. “You won’t let me? What right have you?!” she shouted right back at him, going so far as to lay a hand on him as he turned back away to make him face her again. Her features were flushed with barely suppressed emotion. “You can’t order me around James. You don’t have the right to do that!

I HAVE EVERY RIGHT SELENE”, he roared, rounding on the knightess, provoked by her gesture. “MY MEN LAY DEAD ON THE FIELD. I WILL NOT SEE YOU AMONG THEM. I WILL NEVER SEE YOU AMONG THEM! I CARE ABOUT YOU TOO DAMN MUCH!

There it was. The moment stretched out in long agonizing seconds as Selene Belfreid gaped wordlessly, her mouth opening and closing like that of a fish. She knew of course. This moment had been building, in its pieces and histories, in the crossed blades and crossed words, subtle smiles and loud actions ever since they had first met in that dark land of Yh’mi so long ago now. They had implied as much many times before of course, there had been instances where “almost” had occurred, but “almost” was not good enough. There was a clock between them, its hands frozen in time as they went on with their lives, responsibilities and the weight of duty stifling all else.

He set his jaw hard. "I'm not here just for Kadia…" James whispered thunderously. Duty was not the only reason he was here. He could not, would not, let the knightess walk into the maelstrom of the Harrowing alone. There was another reason yet of course, one that Selene finally managed to give voice to. It was a small seed of doubt, a drop of inadequacy that was like poison, nestled unknowingly from a foolishly told tale years ago. Expunging it was a soft sob as she laid bare her thoughts, tears filling her eyes even as she looked him defiantly. “I’m not… her”. She was not. She was nothing like the woman James had lost so long ago, and she refused to be lost… and yet, like her, Selene Belfreid too would be gone and adrift without him.

They gazed at each other, the seconds slipping past in silence. Feelings had built up slowly over many hard days and long weeks, turned to months, and the weight of those matters prior always left unsaid finally broke the clock's spell, turning time on once again.

You are not” he replied steadily.

The hurt in her eyes came like pain.

She didn’t need to be.

James pulled Selene to him with a hunger and he kissed her. Her feelings warred openly across her face, shock, relief, and acceptance clashing all at once before she submitted, the knightess pressing herself against him instinctively, melting into his arms, and then she broke away and slapped the man sharply. “Y-you are a scoundrel, Sir Eredas!” she spat, quivering from head to toe. “A scruffy rogue! H-how dare you!” How dare he breach that final barrier of propriety. How dare he take advantage of the fervor of a young woman. She glared at him, and he glared right back, the corners of his mouth turned upwards in challenge. Her expression was akin to a force of nature, a tidal wave from the sea, framed by the gusting of her stormy eyes. Abruptly her quivering stopped and she reached up to latch her arms around his neck, pulling him down with greater force then he might’ve expected as she gave into the swell of her own passions, her teeth catching, and pulling on his lower lip. The challenge was accepted.

Suddenly, she shoved him over onto the bunk. "As if you can order me around James" she murmured intensely, a cross pout gracing her features wickedly before she descended upon him. 

And so, their fates were forever intertwined.

Edited by Fierach

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"Do we know what caused it?" 

"Malfunction, sir. There was an anomaly with--"

"I meant the malfunction. What caused the malfunction?"

"We don't know. This is experimental technology, any number of factors could have contributed."

"I guess I should have expected as much."

Tenkai pinched the bridge of his nose. Only James would have forged ahead with a mission already so fraught with danger using means that were equally as risky. It wasn't enough that they were venturing through a very unstable segment of time-space, where the Immaterium itself was bleeding into reality and their every move carried the risk of leaving them cast off into the very Warp itself. No, they had to do it with experimental tech meant to travel through the Warp itself like a submarine under unimaginable pressure, where a single malfunction could lead them to goodness-knew-what blasted plane of existence tied to this accursed abyss. Tenkai was starting to believe that James did these sort of things on purpose. 

Admittedly, Tenkai was no scientist. It had been relatively recent since he made an effort to educate himself further in matters of technology, purging whatever ignorance he may have held in the past. This was reflected as much in his wargear and personal attire, making use of several bits of advanced technology and magitek apparatuses. Yet even with all that he had learned, he knew that there were some areas of study that took decades of diligent study to fully understand. It was time that he did not have, so he was thankful to have the OFM and Kadian engineers there to break things down into terms he could understand.

"Do we have any way of making sure this doesn't happen again?" Tenkai asked.

"We can make no guarantees other than redoubling our efforts to keep the engine stable," said one of the engineers. "However, we are conducting an analysis of the events leading up to the malfunction. That could provide us with some further insight."

"I know very little of this sort of technology," said Tenkai, "But I know enough about the Warp to know that it tends to throw off calculations in the most fantastically unexpected ways. Be careful when trying to frame it with logic, lest you end up going mad."

With that, Tenkai departed from the engine room to leave the crew to their duties. Each person aboard the ship had their own task to see to. Whether or not the engineers could prevent another anomaly from sending them wildly off course was something only they knew how to do. It was Tenkai's task to make sure they were prepared in the event that they could not. 

 

+1 Maintenance

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Airship Conversation: Aboard the Imperator Bellum:

James sat in the war room aboard the airship, putting the finishing touches on the reports regarding the battle. Some of the Custodes were already calling it the Battle of the Desert Sea. James let the name stick for now, for it was as good as any he'd come up with. More important was taking the inventory, of gauging morale, ammunition, and supplies. Many of those wounded in battle would survive, and they had few losses. His engineers had assured him that the vessel and its Aetheric Slipstream Warp Drive would hold up to the continued stresses of travel through the warp rift. Of equal consequence were their harmonic shield generators, proved up to the task of withstanding siege-class weaponry such as that carried by the corrupt Tower of Skulls, although the chief engineer would countenance against repeating the feat against the bombardments of multiple weapon batteries of equal power.

Detailed record-keeping was a trait and skill he learned very early on in life, taking notes for his tome and for his clan, a record of his travels. He proceeded to do the same here, for the information gleaned in their trials amongst the Harrowing would be of great use to future members of the Order of Force Majeure. He currently awaited Tenkai Matsumoto. The monk had said he wanted to talk to James regarding something that was very important.

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It wasn't long before Tenkai entered the war room, having just departed the engine room after consulting with the engineers. All things considered, he did not look much worse for wear. The battle had been taxing, but he could not say that he had gotten off poorly when there were several others who were badly wounded, or worse. Of course, much unlike the Custodes, the monk was not wont to lose himself in the glory and valor of a hard-won battle. Just because he was far quicker to resort to more direct solutions to conflict than he used to be didn't mean he learned to enjoy it. It was good that he did not, for pride was a terrible thing to have when you were surrounded by enemies who knew how to use it against you.

He had told James he wanted a word with him, and with the Master Knight still busy with his own duties, it was best that Tenkai came to him rather than the other way around. After all, the war room was better suited for private conversation.

"I want you to tell me everything you know about that experimental warp drive that we're currently betting our lives on," he said, getting straight to the point without skipping a beat. He had entered the room at a pace just shy of "storming" in, not quite furious but certainly displeased with the latest turn of events. "Who made it and why did you decide to undertake such a dangerous operation using tech of such tenuous reliability? Was it the only way to get us through the rift?"

Whatever fury Tenkai would have had was tempered by an acceptance of his own ignorance. After all, the nature of airships and starships and everything that went into them were all relatively new to him. Even the hours he spent going over the Susano'o with Dr. Ishiyama had only told him so much. But if there was anyone who understood the dangers posed by just traipsing through the Warp, Tenkai had assumed it would be James. Why didn't he seek a more reliable way to get through the warpstorm and into Kadia? Was this just all they were capable of, or was it just another example of "heroically" reckless abandon?

That much, at least, Tenkai needed to know before they went any further. And yet, in the end, what choice did any of them have but to keep going all the same?

@Fierach

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James raised an eyebrow. Is that what he wanted to talk about? "These are questions you probably should have asked before getting on the ship" he replied mildly.

"The Aetheric Slipstream Drive is based on portal magetech pioneered by an enterprising company called the B9 back in Sigil, and is designed by one of the most prominent mage guilds in conjunction with psionic engineers from Predator's Keep. It works in concert with the ship's harmonic shield generator to pierce through the unreality that is the warp, or any other planar phenomenon we might need to pass through."

He looked back down at the reports he wrote. There was a typo on one page. Damn, he would have to fix that.

"Field tests have been conducted before, but not with anything the size of the Imperator Bellum. I'm told that the stress tolerances between the variable shield frequencies and the engine grew too great and were not corrected in time and that was the cause of the malfunction."

He looked back up at Tenkai. "It is, infact, the only way I know of to get us through the Harrowing rift safely... unless you have an alternative which I would be happy to hear".

Edited by Fierach

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On 11/3/2019 at 11:30 AM, Fierach said:

James raised an eyebrow. Is that what he wanted to talk about? "These are questions you probably should have asked before getting on the ship" he replied mildly.

"Don't play that game with me, James," Tenkai replied curtly. "I didn't think I needed to second guess your preparations considering how intimate your knowledge of our enemy already is. If I had asked you then and this was all we had, what else was I supposed to say? Would you have allowed this gods-forsaken rift to go unchecked? You know as well as I that you would've gone anyway."

It was the truth. What choice did they have? This was not a problem they could simply ignore just because their means of travel wasn't absolutely stable and their charted course completely certain. This was the Warp. Nothing was absolute or certain. But if they had done nothing and left Kadia to its own fate, this entire star would have been in peril. So then why did it matter to Tenkai if the outcome would have been the same?

It all boiled down to the particulars. Where did they get this technology, and was it really their only option?

When James explained the experimental technology involved, Tenkai found himself lacking in surprise. Who else but one of James' benefactors from Sigil would be behind something of this sort? If anyone had any knowledge of technology that involved traversing the fabric of reality, it would be someone who did their business frequently in the City of Doors. Even Tenkai's own benefactors responsible for his bits of magitek wargear and other advancements used to be part of the Merchant's Guild. Seeing the involvement of Predator's Keep was also to be expected. But technological and magical pedigree only meant so much to Tenkai when the substance was in what the so called "Aetheric Slipstream Drive" actually did. Thankfully, James had enough of an understanding to oblige him.

"So in other words, we're basically 'tunneling' through the Warp itself, with this shield as the bit?" Tenkai asked, trying to put it in simpler terms. "If the factor was the size of the ship, based on what you're telling me, am I correct in assuming that the size of the shield is making it more difficult to attain an even distribution of condensed aether across its surface? If the warp drive works in concert with the harmonic shielding, then I'm guessing that a breach in the shield's variable frequencies, caused by the 'thinning' of the shield, is what triggered the drive to shut down?"

The technology behind it may have been foreign to him, but the concept of aether and the way it flowed was something he was far more familiar with. That was not to say he was correct, however. After all, James was the one with all the notes reports with relevant information. Tenkai could only go by what he was being given.

On 11/3/2019 at 11:30 AM, Fierach said:

He looked back up at Tenkai. "It is, infact, the only way I know of to get us through the Harrowing rift safely... unless you have an alternative which I would be happy to hear".

"You know very well that I don't. But perhaps we can find a way to prevent this from happening again. Isn't there some way to enhance the throughput of the generator for an even harmonic resonance?"

Tenkai wasn't even that sure himself if he had hit upon anything the engineers hadn't already thought of first. But if he was indeed onto something, then perhaps they would be able to find a more stable route through the warp rift and effectively lessen their time of travel moving forward.

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Alexa's wounds were healing well, though her exhaustion was more attributed to her extended use of her powers more than anything. It had been a rough few days, Lena dutifully looking after her and not letting her jeopardize her health further. Observing her surroundings, the pristine white walls of the medical bay were a shocking contrast to the metallic gray and black of a black ship, or even the regular staff corridors of the Imperator Bellum.

"How are you feeling today Alexa?" Asked Lena in a peppy tone, bringing her a little juice carton. The inquisitor smiled and took the juice with gusto, her hands still a bit stiff with bandages all over.

"You don't have to pamper me so much Lena, your job is making sure I don't die, not being my personal caretaker." Alexa answered, giving the Guardian a puppy wide-eyed gaze. The warrior lady waved her comment away, enjoying a juice herself.

"Oh yeah... Imagined if I all of us had that kind of protection on us..." A booming voice would break the peace from another corner of the room. It was another guardian, this one with bandages and a patch covering what appeared to be a now rent eye socket. His expression was borderline angry.

"You are gonna run your mouth today Barret? Is that what you really want to do in medical leave?" Lena answered, her voice instantly changing to a stern tone. Alexa dropped her gaze slightly, wanting to avoid the confrontation entirely.

"I'm just saying... Imagine if the Kadians had sent something more than just this... Child. Are all inquisitors like her? A one shot match that breaks after the first use?"

"She kept your ass alive out there did she? Or do you think those beastmen suddenly keeled over because they were afraid of your shitty blade play?" Lena lashed back out. Alexa held the Guardian's arm, like begging her to drop it.

"What are you now Drachenberg? A guard dog? Are you going to run away with her and frolick in a field like an obedient little puppy?"

Lena stood up like a missile, approaching the other Guardian with her fists balled up. "You question my loyalty... I might just decided to even up your other eye!"

Alexa stood up as well, holding Lena's hand back in an attempt to stop her friend.

"Please Lena... Just let it go..." She said almost in a whisper.

"Both of you, that's enough..." Another voice cracked the tension, like a hammer banging against an anvil. It was Greatsword Davath, now standing and seemingly towering over all present.

"Would it have mattered if we had a battalion of Kadians at our side? Would it have mattered if the Inquisitor had an unlimited supply of power?"  Davath spoke to the other two Custodes, who had fallen silent at the words.

"This war is not about power, or about numbers. We do what we can, with what we have, as we have always done... This bickering is as pointless as asking for 'What ifs'"

The Guardians looked at each other begrudgingly, each going back to what they were doing before. Alexa followed Lena back to her bed, Davath going back to his carving.

"Don't scare me like that..." Alexa said to Lena, rather serious at the moment.

"Tensions are running high... I'm sorry." Lena answered, rubbing her neck embarrased.

Alexa looked up to the ceiling, feeling a bit cold. Her mind focused on their situation for the moment, an energetic "Tug" as it may, being what discovered their current path through the warp, and what little power she could put towards it was at least enough to keep them safe... For now.

 

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@Tenkai Matsumoto

"Tunneling is a good analogy, although the ship size is not the only factor. The trials also mostly tested on incursions into other, much less volatile planes." James looked to the side gesturing, "I did not approve of trials into the actual immaterium until the last, and the sanitized, sterile conditions where that testing took place is nothing like that of the real thing." In fact, the place where the scientist and engineers did test the principles behind the engine to actually enter the warp had been laden with so much security and armed forces at the time as it was if they had expected a small war to break out right there and then. 

It was the only sensible way to go about it.

"The warp is an ever shifting thing, constantly putting pressure on the shields, tasking certain sections more than others, and our shields change their "frequency" to match. This affords us greater protection then ordinary shields, and is even capable of withstanding artillery-rated weaponry, but it draws a great deal more energy to achieve the type of precision attunement needed. It could be that in the moments leading up to the malfunction that the shields demanded energy enough that a limiter was broken. It could be perhaps the power conduits overloaded during the strain of several days of warp travel, harder on the components than any other test set prior. It could be that a warp entity smacked us right in the nose and that’s why we were forced into realspace, and we didn’t have the instruments to detect their presence in the maelstrom outside. At this point, we don’t know for certain.

James shrugged. It was not a sign of surrender or resignation, but stoic acceptance of facts. "But I trust in the engineers I have aboard the ship. They will inform me of any updates, measures taken, and will see us through."  He then gestured at a seat near him. “Take a seat anyway, I'll have food brought up from the mess hall. We need to discuss contingencies”.

It was clear to the Daemonslayer that things were pretty bad within Kadia, if what they had been through was reflective of the wider state of the nation. Warbands of mutant beastmen and corrupted machines roamed a blasted land far unlike any from the nation that he could recall before. The malign influence of the warp certainly had something to do with it, and they would have to be ready for any case, be the grind of war long or short. Together, both Knights would outline contingency plans for retreat, measures to salvage supplies safely if necessary, detail battle-strategies if they were vastly outnumbered, and a myriad other circumstances of war that might have to be considered. James was a confident man, some would even say arrogant to the extreme, but he was not stupid.

 

Edited by Fierach

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At the noon of the 8th day came the call everybody was awaiting. Receiving the communications from the Imperator Bellum’s captain in his quarters, James received word that the navigators were beginning to sense a calmness in the Harrowing outside. Sensors were beginning to reflect ghosts of realit;, the Immaterium was thinning. They were approaching their first destination. Still, the Master Knight was a wary.

How soon until we leave the Harrowing, Captain?”

Estimate is ten minutes at our current bearing, Lord Eredas

Understood. Sound ship-wide battle-stations. Request Tenkai and the Kadians to meet me on the bridge in five minutes”.

---

As the leadership of the Force Majeure and their allies gathered on the bridge, Captain Clavis commanded his bridge and provided constant updates on their current status, until at last he motioned that they were about to arrive.

"Everyone standby, we are transitioning from warp… in-!"

 

Five.

 

Four.

 

Three.

 

Two.

 

One.

...

 

All aboard the ship would feel a lurch in the pits of their bellies as the vessel exited the Empyrean. Outside the bridge, the violet hues of the dimension they had been traveling through gave way to more violent hues, the flash of warp-spawned electricity, and the view of war in full swing.

siege_by_chuanzhong.jpg?token=eyJ0eXAiOi

They had arrived at a city under siege.

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Those of us familiar with the city of Parime would see it reflected in the sight below, but familiar landmarks were blasted and scorched or else rebuilt and fortified for battle. Hordes of figures swarmed across the land, assailing the high city walls in barbaric fashion while spires of light and fire shot out from the tops, signifying spots of resistance. The Kadian defenders were stubborn and brave, but they were giving under the sheer weight of the enemy advance, the disenfranchised led by the daemons they had sought to control and bend to their will. Far off to the left, a battery of daemon engines, Towers of Skulls, laid waste to a section of wall, collapsing it and letting more daemons flood into the new entryway. Upon one of the wall barracks, a formation of Kadian soldiers made a last stand, cut off from all others, holding the beastmen and daemons back from their position with steady, if dwindling volleys of fire. Scenes of valor, heroism, defeat, and bloodshed played themselves out all over the city, repeating many times in an instant, but James disregarded them in favor of the largest problem, clear and present to almost everybody on the bridge. The reason why the city was being overwhelmed was not the unending horde, or their firepower, or the tenaciousness of the Khornate host... but a class of aerial warship more monstrous then any other previously seen.

weihao-wei-necroship.jpg?1540431346

As James looked upon the giant vessel in the distance of the bridge view, he knew instinctively that "it" was the true problem. Floating above the city was the changed carcass of a grand Kadian airship. Once proud and mighty, and among the largest vessels in its class, the sight that they saw more was twisted horrifically, almost beyond identification. Large ivory bones jutted out from its sides, as if its metal framework had been twisted into that of a warp-beast, and the prow was changed to match, the snarling face of an obscene daemonic entity. Great cannons lined its sides, and the "jaws" of the vessel fitted an even larger gun that beamed a devasatating blast across the landscape, striking one of ther farther Kadian warships and crippling it in a single blow. It dwarfed all other airships in the vicinity, including the Imperator Bellum, and was single-handedly turning the tide of the battle in favor of the forces of Chaos, keeping the Kadian airships even further away from reinforcing the city with tremendous broadsides of firepower, whilst disgorging more forces into the heart of the city itself like a fell rain, disrupting any attempt to organize and lead an effective defense. It seemed to even be suppressing the power of the Kadian obelisk that used to guard the city from metaphysical incursion, hence the hordes pouring into the city.

Well… that needs to die” James murmured under his breathe, almost too low to hear. A decision needed be made immediately. He glanced at Tenkai. None of their plans had accounted for anything like this, but thinking fast, the Daemonslayer was already formulating a strategy.

A strategy that he was certain nobody was going to like.

Thoughts, but make them quick.” he solicited advice, even if only to stave off the stratagem he was about to order.

Edited by Fierach

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Tenkai did not know what to expect once they pierced through the Harrowing. After all that time spent surrounded by a warp storm, it was bound to be blasted beyond all recognition. Yet try as he might to picture in his head what could have been, nothing seemed to come close to the true vision of Chaos that finally stretched out before them. It was far more than just the corruption of the land itself and the myriad perils of the Warp running rampant. It was the anarchy and unrest that followed in its wake that struck Tenkai the most. Ever since that day when Tenkai first set foot in Kadia, exposed to its strict laws and customs and the uncomfortable tenuousness of an exceedingly pious society, he knew that eventually things would end up poorly for the nation. But he could never have imagined just how bad it could possibly get. The Harrowing itself was the sum of all the worst possible outcomes.

"How terrible..." said Tenkai as he looked upon the ruins of Parime with a cold feeling of disquiet upon his features, "To think that things could have gotten this bad..."

Such was the horrendous awe of the Warp.

Yet clearly this was not the worst of it. No, the worst possible thing would be for Kadia's own vaunted military technology, the very same that the Order itself now used, to become corrupted by Chaos as well. Such was the case with that massive, mutated ship that burst forth from the smoke and ash like an atrocious whale breaching the surface. It was a truly massive thing, the sort of ship that could break a siege with a single salvo of its weapons batteries. James was absolutely right; it needed to die. 

"If we attack it head on with the ship, we'll be obliterated. We're completely outgunned," said Tenkai. "I say we use evasive maneuvers to get around its weaponry and commence a boarding action. Get me inside that ship and I'll send it to the ground."

Had the ship been smaller than the Imperator Bellum, Tenkai would have opted to just cut it down himself, but such an act would have required them to get closer anyway. It was also not a very practical use of energy, especially when odds were good that it wasn't the only ship. Gutting the ship from the inside was a far better choice.

 

@Fierach

Edited by Tenkai Matsumoto

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