Valdane's Chronicles

Glass Houses - Part 3

The fall of House Archibald

From the basement shrine, the acolytes slowly make their way up into St. Lucia’s Cathedral.

Tybs, sneaking up to the top of the stairs, finds a small secessionist command post. It appears that three enemy officer-types are crowded around a makeshift command dais. After exchanging a large amount of automatic fire and a decently placed hand grenade, the acolytes finish off the cultists and find their way to the cathedral’s ramparts and the now-silenced air defense batteries.

They find the remnant of some intense fighting. Many imperial soldiers lay dead and many of the anti-aircraft guns have been destroyed or heavily damaged. Among the bodies, they find an air-defense officer still alive – Tyranius Archibald III. Amador stabilizes the unconscious and heavily wounded heretic so that their interrogation can begin.

Although he tries to feign ignorance, Archibald’s lies are easily discerned.

Tybs’ questioning reveals that Archibald’s source was actually a large smuggling collective that specializes in xenos artifacts and weapons. Furthermore, the entire organization is compartmentalized in a cell-like structure – no one member or organization has information about another.

Not content with the extent of Archibald’s answers, Grax begins probing his mind. Through intense mental and physical pain and anguish, Archibald reveals that Sorgoth has joined the collective in the Askellon sector. It seems as though a large amount of smuggling is happening on the hive-world Desoleum. Having retrieved the necessary information, Grax crushes Archibald’s skull, turning his brain into a wet, pulpy mess.

Tybs radios Corvath, attempting to figure out his location within the hive. Corvath responds that he has already reached ground level, and that he is making his way to one of the hive’s main transit hubs. From there, they can take the high-speed tramways out to the hive’s voidport. Hopefully, they can all secure passage off-world.

The acolytes make their way back out through the belly of the cathedral, not risking venturing into the square. Using the private guilder cargo-lifts, the acolytes make it to ground level and the transit platforms. They find Corvath lying in cover with his heavily injured co-pilot.

Additionally, a chaos patrol is slowly making its way across the platform. The acolytes silently move to Corvath. He informs them that the last remaining trams are without power and that he couldn’t get through the doors.

Amador manages to disassemble the door’s locking mechanism, and sneaks his way into the car. As the rest of the acolytes try to cross the platform unnoticed, the cultists see Grax and begin opening fire. The acolytes dive into the rear car, and Amador awakens the tram’s machine spirit.

The tram speeds away from the platform, but the secessionists have taken chase on a parallel line. After a few minutes spent speeding across the wastes, the two trams approach an arteria rail junction. The two trains slam together, shattering all the glass windows and showering the injured acolytes in a rain of sparks and shrapnel. As the trams pull apart again, the mangled, twisted metal walls of the cars are ripped open.

After a brief firefight from tram to tram, they approach another junction. The two trams slam together again. This time, as the cars pull away, the acolytes see a few cultists making the jump across from the roof of their cars. As the distance between the trams grows again, one misses his jump and falls between the trams. He falls directly under the wheels and is ground into a paste.

Moments later, the roof of one of their cars is blown open by some kind of crude breaching charge. Knowing that the secessionists are on the roof, Amador engages the emergency break, sending two cultists tumbling through the roof hole, and one off of the side of the tram. The culstists’ tram continues to speed forward toward the voidport.

In an instant, another hulking mutant brute drops down through the roof hole, unleashing a terrifying, bellowing roar. With the hulking war-beast in such close proximity, many of the acolytes are paralyzed in terror. Corvath, Uziel, and Grax immediately lay down fire. Grax’s living lighting ripples through the tightly-grouped enemy force. Autogun rounds fire through the car, striking the downed cultists.

Grax attempts to unleash the devastating power of the warp once again. Due to his own fear, his fatigue, and his injuries, reality tears open for a brief instant. The secessionists and their hulking mutant recoil in fear as Grax takes on the crude visage of a horrific warp demon.

In this moment, the acolytes firmly grasp the upper hand, punishing the enemy force. Finally managing to tap into his well of arcane energy, Grax cooks the mutant beast from within. Amador unleashes a few devastating rounds from his hand cannon, obliterating one cultist’s head and blowing off the hulk’s massive arm. The mutant slowly chokes and bleeds to death, his charred body laying smoking in the middle of the car.

Uziel steps forward and unleashes a full auto burst pointblank into the remaining cultist’s face, turning it into a pool of blood, brains, and bone.

The acolytes resume their tram journey, making it to the voidport – the last remaining part of the planet held by loyalists. The cultists’ tram is a burned out wreck at the station, likely destroyed by the many imperial troops stationed in this marshaling area.

One lander remains. A huge crowd has gathered, trying to push their way into its already over capacity, swollen cargo bay.

A blast of light emits from the hive spire in the distance. A massive piece of the upper apex has blown out into a billowing smoke cloud and begins collapsing down the side of the spire. The sound of the explosion hits a few seconds later and is followed by a massive shock wave of dust and ash ripping across the wastes.

The acolytes quickly identify themselves as members of His Immortal Majesty’s Holy Inquisition and push their way up the cargo lander’s rear access ramp. As the large door begins to close, the crowd panics. Shots are fired as the civilians fight their way up the ramp, overwhelming the Zetarian PDF troops. Murco, one of their fellow acolytes, moves forward, unleashing devastating incendiary shotgun blasts into the helpless masses.

The acceleration of the vessel causes others to tumble back down and out of the door ramp. As the ramp begins to close on the unfortunate souls trapped in the mechanism, the acolytes see the remnants of the hive detonate and collapse upon itself.

Zetah VII is no more.

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