"Okay Jervis, proceed with your update."
"Yes, Lord Commandant. Not surprisingly, the results of the raid were inconclusive. Although the target was apprehended, his subsequent escape..."
<interrupts> "Lord Commandant, I strenuously object! The prisoner did not "escape". We've all seen the vid cam footage, the interviews extracted from the guards on duty, various sensor tools in operation, as well as resulting data analytics, I repeat, the prisoner did not escape!"
Jervis smiled, "So then...Commander...how would you explain the circumstances of his disappearance?"
"The prisoner left of his own volition by means that are still under investigation."
Jervis replied, "And when do you think you'll conclude your...investigation Commander?"
The Lord Commandant stepped, "That's enough you two. The circumstances around the prisoner's disappearance are bothersome in that it seems to indicate capabilities we are currently unfamiliar with. As a result, I have requested additional support from the Ordo Xenos to assist us with this troubling matter. Now continue Jervis."
Yes sir. As you can see from our situation chart, we have more questions than answers at this point. We are aware of the name of the cult we are hunting, they refer to themselves as "Children of the Dragon". We do not know at this time what the Dragon refers to, whether it is a person, an organization, or something even more threatening. From what we can tell, the cult has infiltrated the Crime Guilds, which is a usual entry point for these sorts of movements."
Nodding at Jervis to continue, the Lord Commandant pitched his fingers steeple-like in front of his face.
"As you can see, we are hunting down persons of interest that seem to associate with one of three trails leading to someone referred to, rather reverentially I might add, as the Emissary. He or she does not seem to be the Dragon themselves, but as purported to be the "emissary" of the Dragon. There is also mention of someone or something referred to as Prime, though we are not sure if this is a person or a rank. We have also collected references to someone known as "The Prophet", though that is fairly typical of cults, there needing to be some sort of messenger to bring forth the message. This prophet does seem to be associated with the cult however and not just another enemy of the Imperium. Regarding the Cing Crime Guild involvement, their existence obviously predates the arrival of this cult, though they appear to have fully embraced the cult's beliefs, providing plenty of bodies to flesh out its ranks. Perhaps the Cing are just being opportunistic, making a move that would shut out the other guilds. We don't know enough at this point as there just isn't enough data yet."
The Lord Commandant continued to scan the chart and asked, "Who are the images of? They look rather seedy."
Jervis filed through his tablet notes, then responded, "These images were rendered by informants working with precinct imagers. Unfortunately, precincts have reported significant losses in their informant infrastructure for reasons unknown. Our plants just seem to disappear, which then erodes our capabilities at capturing intelligence. We've resorted to snatch and grab tactics when we identify someone suspected of cult associations, but so far we've been unsuccessful. Not in capturing anyone, but in keeping them alive long enough to extract any information from them."
'What? Why is that?", asked a startled Commandant.
Jervis swallowed, then replied, "An explosion. In their cranium. Not extremely powerful, but as one would expect, it doesn't take a lot of force to render the target...unusable. The only clue we have to what is going on is that when we had enough of the head remaining after an..., um explosion, a small entry wound was observed on the back of the neck, close to the base of the skull. To date, we have no idea what is causing the wound, but there are enough...samples in the remains for us to believe that is a definite correlation between the results and our target selection. One other item to note, the targets when taken into custody do not put up any resistance and in fact appear to be quite docile."
Jervis closed his tablet and said, "That's what we know at the moment sir."
The Lord Commandant was quiet for several minutes before looking Jervis in the eye and speaking forcefully, "Get to the bottom of this Jervis. Do not leave any stone unturned. This is serious threat and I want it dealt with quickly, violently, and thoroughly. We are in something extremely deep and it will be the end of us if you don't get a handle on this right now. Is that clear? NOW! Is there any doubt in your mind as to what I am asking for?"
Jervis, somewhat shaken by the Commandant's outburst, replied "N-no sir. By your will My Lord."
At this point, you the reader should assume that the Children of the Dragon cult is starting to gain some traction and therefore are gaining new capabilities. I won't be spelling everything out as I like to portray larger stories, using many small parts, much in the tradition of X-Files.
So, to give my little force some teeth for our recent games, I decided to build a Chimera, equipped with an autocannon and what was intended to look like an infrared light and represent the searchlight upgrade. I was striving for a Russian BMP-2 look with the turret.
I also wanted a slimmer looking vehicle, yet still have the chassis convey a motley appearance ala Vraksian Renegades, so I left off the outer boxes on the tracks and put on makeshift extra armor. The brace for this armor was came from the model's sprue. Undoubtedly, the engineers out there are wondering "Where are the engines on this beast?"
All I can say is, "No clue. This is 40K and we don't need space for no stinkin' engines!"
Next I will start adding some "dragon" weaponry in the form of Gauss guns to some of my squads. Nothing over the top and I'll point them out as Plasma equivalents, which will allow me to field three guys with gauss rifles in a "Disciples of Xaphan" squad (from the Renegades list in IA6, Vraks Pt. I), who shall be referred to as "Disciples of the Dragon".
So I replaced his head with a head from a wraith. Then I was going back and forth with what arms to give him when I kept looking at him and thinking, "He's actually creepier walking around with no arms", so I left out the arms and added some green stuff sleeves that basically flap in the wind as he moves.
I have no idea what he's going to be or do, but I am very drawn to him and what part in the story he might play. More on him later.
Finally, listed below are the scenarios for our next set of battles. These will all occur in space, so FW's "Blood in the Void" rules will be used to supplement base 40K. We'll be fighting with 500 point forces, no HQ's yet, but the Heavy slot will open up and there is one troop choice required. I'll post the full set of rules for the scenarios later, but for the time being the following games will drive the story into the next phase.
Also, since the games are small, we'll all play at least two rounds apiece and possibly three.
Scenario 1 "A Stain Upon Our Honor"
Combatants: Astartes vs. Tau, 500 pts
Background: The Astartes wrath has been unleashed. The death of 30 warriors and confiscation of Astartes geneseed cannot go unpunished. The precious geneseed must be recovered. An Astartes Rapid Reaction Vessel has located a Tau ship in Imperial space and immediately launched Boarding torpedoes.
Scenario 2 "Hunting Dragons - Shadow War"
Combatants: Inquisition/Astartes vs. Children of the Dragon, 500 pts
Background: The Inquisition has commandeered local Imperial Navy resources to search any space craft entering and leaving the Persephone Prime Star Port. Astartes have also begun their own prosecution of the cult, unbeknownst to the Imperial command. Suddenly their efforts bear fruit.
Attacker: Inquisition or Astartes
Scenario 3 "A Card is Played"
Combatants: Children of the Dragon vs. Tau, 500 pts
Background: The Tau have decided to accelerate their efforts to acquire any "Dragon" artifacts that they can get their hands on. Recognizing the advanced technology that it represents and what an influx of new technology could mean to the growing Tau Empire, no effort will be spared to acquire any items within their grasp.
Scenario 4 "An Enemy Revealed"
Combatants: Inquisition vs. Tau, 500 pts
Background: Whilst on a routine patrol, Imperial Navy resources uncover a small Tau inter-system transport. The larger Imperial vehicle launches assault craft to board the Tau vehicle and take prisoners.
Scenario 5 "Rumors and Whispers"
Combatants: Children of the Dragon vs. Inquisition, 500 pts
Background: An informant has discovered that someone circulating in the higher echelons of the Dragon hierarchy is being transported to the orbital colonies, presumably to recruit more members and establish another base of operations. Inquisition resources have intercepted a craft on a stealthy course to the colonies.
Scenario 6 "In Search of Water"
Combatants: Tau vs. Astartes/Inquisition/Imperial Guard, 500 pts
Background: In the event of a Tau loss in either Scenarios 1, 3 or 4, the assumption is that the Tau will manage to put the leading Water Caste member on board into an escape pod. This pod will land on the planet's surface and begin to signal its location. Both the Tau and the Imperium rush forces to the pod's location.
Attacker: Inquisition/Astartes/Imperial Guard
"One last thing Commander. Here's a rather odd report that I pulled down from the vox nets. It's reporting an incident that took place three days ago in Sector11-A, over by the Star Port."
<scans readouts> Ok, so lots of noise...no obvious source...so?
"Initially, I didn't think too much about it either sir, as the local Arbites section house had closed the report as "Causes Unknown". After doing a little more checking though, I sent a forensics team to the general area and this is what they came back with."
"Ok, some metal fragments...what appears to be significant amounts of "blown" dust, whatever the feth that means...a few large depressions...roughly oval shape...except for some...hmm...three toed depressions? What the feth do they mean by that?"
"Exactly that, sir. If you look at the pic, there appears to be three slight depressions, approximately 50 cms across. At this point, the cause still remains unknown, though Priestly was adamant that they were not a result of natural processes or left by some type of unknown animal. The other thing I would like to point out is the second pic."
"What am I looking at, that doesn't look like anything."
"It's an enlarged image of the original item sir, it's a metallic fragment."
"So...why is that interesting?"
"Well sir, they are fragments of a bolter round, multiple rounds actually. That wouldn't necessarily mean anything except for the fact that we are quite certain that they are of Astartes manufacture."
"Astartes? Do we have any Astartes contingents in the system that we are aware of?"
"No sir, there is nothing formally declared and a little less formal checking with my sources indicates that currently we should not expect any Astartes to be in system."
"I don't suppose the...rounds were fired sometime in the distant past?"
"No sir, in fact, they were fired quite recently. One other thing that doesn't fit. I happened to check with the Atmospherics Group and they informed me that there was no storm activity within 75 kilometers of the reported location, yet residents in the area clearly recall the skies growing dark and then several bursts of thunder that shook the buildings they live in, all within a short period of time."
"Except you're telling me we have no atmospheric conditions that could cause that."
"That's correct sir, none at all."
"Then what the feth happened, how could thunder just happen reason?"
"I suspect they were sonic booms."