Valdane's Chronicles

Standing in the Shadow - Part 5

Out of the frying pan…

The acolytes scour the wreckage of the smugglers’ Viator Desert Crawler in search of any ammunition, xenos artifacts, or clues regarding their mysterious foes. Well armed and well equipped, the acolytes’ adversaries are clearly more dangerous and better connected than simple mercenaries.

Unfortunately, Amador finds the Viator too badly damaged to recover anything of value. With the fiery wreck smoldering under the night sky, the acolytes prepare themselves for any forthcoming patrol.

After a few quiet hours, the acolytes decide to return to the smugglers’ camp and to take a better look at the compound.

The party slowly makes their way around the ridgeline nestled behind the camp. Upon a close inspection, two different parties man the camp – the well-armed smugglers they have seen many times before, and an odd group of individuals clad in black robes. The second group seems to remain in close proximity to some bizarre looking structures. Without any magnification tools, the acolytes are unable to make out what purpose the structures serve.

Regardless, the party confirms that the camp is still well armed. Four sentries patrol the wall in a clockwise fashion, alternating routes between four equally spaced machine gun nests. High in a watchtower near the front of the camp, a large spotlight traverses both the wastes outside as well as the interior of the camp.

After a thorough period of observation, the acolytes form a plan.

Tybs will don the newly acquired void suit and infiltrate the base by crossing the caustic lake and climbing the wall near the guard tower. Once inside, Tybs will lower the compound’s drawbridge. Once Tybs lowers the bridge, Travers and Amador will arrive with the Sand-Lynx’s pintle-mounted Bolter for heavy fire support. At the same time, Grax and Uziel will descend the ridgeline onto the peninsula, attempt to cross the open ground, and once they hear commotion, scale the rear wall of the compound and sew confusion and chaos at the smugglers’ rear flank.

The group separates and begins to put their plan into motion.

At the shore of the bubbling lake, Tybs suits up and begins his dangerous crossing. Less than half-way across, the void suit begins disintegrating around him. Tybs begins to swim at a frantic pace as he feels the chemicals start to eat through the suit’s material and into his exposed flesh. Tybs’ visor fogs up with his heavy breathing and the painful vapors pouring in through the suit’s dissolving seams. With the volatile fluid creeping into the suit and beginning to pull him under, Tybs barely makes it to the far shore. He strips himself quickly of the compromised suit and kicks the remnants away to finish dissolving in the bubbling and sizzling lake. Knowing now that he’s on his own, Tybs readies his weapons and begins a slow crawl toward the compound’s walls.

Resting against the walls closest to the gatehouse and watchtower, Tybs listens and watches through the ramshackle defensive barrier. He makes out some crude, but roguish conversation. The mercenaries are making jokes at the expense of the other group inside – what they are calling the “Bone Folk”. Shortly after, another one of the smugglers tells the men to get back to work and resume their patrols.

Tybs seizes the moment, quickly scales the wall, and drops safely inside the cordon. With a quick dash, he slips past a guard and into the base of the large watchtower. Inside, he finds a small guard room, thankfully empty. Tybs decides to forgo the ladder stretching up to the watchtower’s roof, opting for the staircase wrapping around the outside of the structure. This way, Tybs believes he stands the best chance of surprising the spotlight’s crew.

Reaching the top of the platform, Tybs finds two guards unaware. One slowly pans the large spotlight out into the wastes while the other slowly scans the surrounding through the telescopic sight of a sniper rifle. Tybs lines up his silenced Oath Keeper with one of his targets.

The Oath Keeper barks a muffled thump-puff as one of the men’s head explodes into a grey-pink mist. As the brain-vapor slowly drifts into the bright illumination of the spotlight, Tybs quickly adjusts his aim. Before the man holding the rifle can act, another face evaporates behind the silenced report of the ornate pistol.

Tybs scans his surroundings, confident that he has executed the first part of the plan unnoticed. Now, he takes at the drawbridge’s winch mechanism. With hands shaking, numerous rounds go wide, punching into the dirt ground. A lone guard eventually notices the commotion, raking the tower with automatic weapons fire.

Eventually, Tybs strikes the chock, causing the drawbridge to falls quickly and with a tremendous crash

In the foothills surrounding the camp, Amador hears the exchanges of gunfire and sees the bridge fall. Travers brings the Sand-Lynx to life and begins roar over the silicate dunes, closing the distance to the camp. Smashing into one of the guardrails, the Sand-Lynx crosses the bridge. Travers slams the vehicle into the still-closed front gate, wedging it between the unseated bars and the camp’s prefabricated plasteel walls. With the ‘Lynx extremely damaged and Travers potentially gravely injured, Amador begins chattering off explosive rounds from the pintle-mounted bolter into groups of the hapless guards found within the compound.

Meanwhile, having scaled quietly down the ridgeline and crossed silently across the open ground, Grax and Uziel wait in the twilight shadows of the camp’s rear wall. Hearing gunfire and hoping to create a much-needed distraction, they light the chemical lake ablaze. The fire quickly ripples outwards, surrounding the compound. With toxic, noxious smoke climbing into the night sky, the pair scale’s the compound’s wall. Grax and Uziel ambush and kill one of the sentries and seize one his machine gun nest.

Turning the heavy stubber inward, they try to pick out friend from foe amid the chaotic, smoke-covered buildings and enclosures.

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