Monday, January 3, 2011

On Acolyte Adventures (The Shadow War Chronicle #1)

Inquisitor Howitzer sat at his desk, dwarfing the sturdy naalwood office set surrounding him.  He reached for the large mug sitting next to the recaff machine on his desk before deciding to simply grab the pot instead.  As he sipped the near-boiling brew, he began to open the package on his desk.  It had been delivered by a cleverly rewired servitor, which had immediately self-terminated after bringing the message to one of his aides.  A bit theatrical for his tastes, but effective nonetheless.  His Tech-Priests had been unable to trace its origin.  Now, to see what was so important that someone would go to all this trouble to put it in his hands.  From the package’s size and weight, it was obviously a data-slate, and he slid it out of the wrapping and activated it as he took another swig of recaff.

“To my dear friend, the Inquisitor Howitzer,
Contained is a small sample of a report one of my sources has collected on the Acolytes you recently put planet-side on Candor.  I recognize that you have not likely heard from them yet, and I wanted to make sure that you had all of the best information available at your disposal.


One with watchful Eyes and vigilant Ears trained on the Black Box.

The new meat acolytes sent by Inquisitor Howitzer arrived on Candor auspiciously.  Which is to say they nearly crashed their Arvis Lighter, a flaming deathtrap called the “Luprecal,” into the landing bay they had been assigned at breakneck speeds, which would no doubt have saved various local rebels (and me) a great deal of time.  Alas, from what I could gather from my observational position, the bald Acolyte (with crazy eyes, though I couldn’t see those at this distance, even through my scope) bolted into the cockpit and pulled the lander up at the last second, so they merely landed ungracefully, instead of in a fireball.  When they exited their rocket-coffin, I got my first good glimpse of all of them through the rain that this tropical death-ball is so gracious to provide, often alongside carnosaurs the size of a Chimera.  They seemed to match the files well enough.

According to the files I had received from [REDACTED], this team had been cobbled together from various Inquisitors who Howitzer could convince to lend him an expendable acolyte or three.  He had apparently given them some special-issue equipment, too, but I couldn’t identify any of it at this distance.  First off the ship was Charyl “The Pebble” Rockwell.  For a moment, I thought there was a very small Astartes in the squad, but upon checking my information, I recognized the symbol of her order.  Then Han Uno, looking every bit the smuggler his files say he is.  He was followed by a Tech-Priest, Leopedoptera Philliskirk, whose name I will henceforth leave to the savants to auto-correct in any future drafts of this report.  The adept of the Omnissiah began to look over the damaged ship, and announced that it could be repaired within a few hours – probably with parts from the ship crashed next to them on the runway, that apparently did not otherwise warrant a second glance.   The next man had slipped out before I even noticed him, apparently behind the Tech-Priest – Dario Lichtus.  Marcus Diomedes Winnifred Somethingorother the Fifteenth came off the vessel next, lighting his cigar with the pilot-light of his flamer as soon as he was off the vessel, where he had assuredly been banned from smoking.  Then came Castus Eisen, a taciturn man of indeterminate age, and finally Nithroc Abletor, rain bouncing off the hat he had pulled on to cover his hairless head, nervous eyes scanning.  Castus and Nithroc both seemed ill at ease, and for a moment I could swear they turned in unison to look right at me, but the moment and the accompanying paranoia passed.  Even psykers don’t have unaugmented eyesight that good.  I hope.

The group approached the door to get inside (a very logical plan of action, given the rain, and one I very much wanted them to follow, so that I might get out of it as well), but they found themselves unable to open it.  After resorting to violence against the innocent and unarmed portal in the form of a Hellpistol shot, they apparently got the attention of those inside.  At this point I fervently hoped I might be able to get out of the rain and move to a drier post, but they insisted on dallying with the bureaucrat, Administrator Crayke, who had been sent to meet them (along with his armed guards).  Han Uno’s acolyte sigil failed to provide the proper code, an argument broke out, and once again it looked like I might be free of my duties early as Charyl proposed something that must have been a violent solution, given the reaction of the guards.  However, the situation was “resolved” when a number of carnosaurs broke through the outer barrier and began to move towards the inner wall at disturbing speed.  Unfortunately, this necessitated that I shift my position, but as I performed my “tactical reassignment of relative locations,” I noticed that several of the acolytes had opened fire upon the carnosaurs, as had a number of local gun-Servitors.

The acolytes had taken a car to the Duke’s palace by the time I caught up with them.  Fortunately, my painstaking efforts to place of several small vox recorders in the vehicle before-hand paid off, and I was rewarded with all sorts of valuable and worthwhile information, such as that none of them had realized that Charyl was a woman up to this point.  They too had apparently been under the misapprehension that she was a miniature Astartes.  Castus and Nithroc complained of a presence darkening the warp, which Nithroc called “a shadow,” but I suspect that it such ambiguous but menacing statements are in fact psyker code for “let’s screw with everybody else for once.”

I was unable to observe them in their meeting with Duke Friedrich, but presumably he informed them of the current political situation with the local anarchists, and then made all sorts of nebulous offers to help that he had no real interest in following up on, and his servants would certainly not recognize in a way useful to the acolytes.  They did manage to requisition a vehicle, however, and they headed to Site Gamma-Eighty-Four, also known as the “spooky abandoned train-yard.”  According to my files, their colleagues had examined this site in association with rebel movements.  They were easy to follow, since given the bad weather they drove quite slowly, and I had little trouble finding a position from which I could safely observe them.

Once at the train-yard, they harassed a derelict who was definitely less than sober.  They then moved on to another inhabited storage container, and this time spent several minutes arguing with the occupants for access before breaking in to find a pair of very fresh corpses and a large hole in the wall.  For important reasons, I had to shift my position considerably at this point, but when I managed to get a better vantage point from the top of a building some distance away, I saw Leopedobeara fiddling with a damaged data-slate that was still fresh with blood and Charyl running towards the next storage container, apparently following the killer.  Unfortunately for her, she was rewarded for her enthusiasm with several inches of plasteel through the shoulder, attached to a long chain.  She collapsed under the hit, but still tried to free herself by hacking the chain apart, albeit unsuccessfully.  Her party fell into position to support her, and I thought I heard one say something over the vox network about firing on the fuel tank attached to the building as soon as she was freed.  Nithroc moved up and fired on the chain with his autogun, shredding it and nearly hitting the fuel tank, but miraculously a monstrous fireball was averted.  Then, suddenly, I was blinded by a flash of light, and when I could see again, Nithroc appeared to have been left in the oven too long, while Marcus had apparently been removed prematurely.  Having seen such weapons discharged before, I suspect that the shot was made with a variant of a lascannon, directly through the wall of the storage container if the smoking hole was any indicator.  At this point, the party courageously began falling back, impaled and incinerated comrades in tow, when the drunken derelict decided to see what all the fuss was about.  Apparently believing the party to be caught in a clever pincer-movement, Han opened fire with his Hellpistol, which made short work of the man menacing their escape with half-bottle of rotgut and total lack of sense.  They then retreated to the vehicle, and subsequently to the Duke’s manor.   At this point I stopped tracking them, instead attempting to hunt down a hot meal and a bed, but one of my sources informed me that they passed the night in groups, barricaded in their rooms at the manor.

In summary, I do not believe our particular objectives on Candor are threatened by this group of acolytes.  After a single attempt to investigate the rebels, two of their number are injured, one likely fatally, unless the hand of fate itself stepped in to shield his vital organs from a direct hit from an anti-tank weapon.  They may have found some information of value on that data-slate, but even if they do not continue to drop at this current rate, we have no reason to worry about their presence.  I will continue to observe as long as you see fit, of course.”

Inquisitor Howitzer finished his recaff slowly, the liquid now merely scalding.  Putting the empty pot down and pressing the activation rune on the recaff machine, he reached into his desk, pulling up a canvas bag.  From it, he withdrew a lacquered regicide board, and began setting up the pieces.

“Captain, do you read?”
“Aye, Inquisitor.  The Blood of Saints awaits your command.”



  1. Holy Emperor if we're in the modern setting a whole nalwood office set would be RIDICULOUSLY expensive. Using it for a table was even considered a lot of wood used.

  2. He's an Inquisitor...?

    There are a lot ways he could have come by it without paying full modern-day price. Offhand:

    -Inheritance from another Inquisitor
    -Picked it up on the cheap(er) 300 years ago (we have no idea how old Howitzer is)

    If you're implying that you think we should steal it and hawk it on the black market, though, I totally think you should try. Aristide knows a guy who deals in antiques, and he'd be happy to introduce Han to him for a small finder's fee...

  3. Hot damn, nice work dude. Interesting perspective to take.
    I'm sure all this "wont disrupt our plans" stuff is just friendly banter between a near-omnipotent Inquisitor and one of his many unnamed spies. Surely unimportant to our overall mission on the planet.

  4. Oh no, I wasn't saying it was unreasonable for him to have it, it was more a "Woudja lookit all dat juice!" type moment. And even 300 years ago while it was still being produced it was considered luxury wood even within the Sabbat worlds, much less in an entire other sector on the other side of the galaxy.

    And I'm intrigued by your idea.