Only War – RPG/TRPG Session
Run by Will
Baine Bravith – Jason (jymmijamz)
Father Deimos – Chris (alcoholandaphorisms)
Hans ‘Loki’ Lokisson – Me
Odetta – Tanja
(Write-up by Chris)
It has been one month. One month since the penal colony Hadean 013 gained what appeared to be a new moon in the form of the miles long recruitment craft. One month since hundreds or thousands of souls were scooped up,willing or unwilling, by “Recruiters” and pressed into service. One month. Each day just another day in the Imperial Guard, where every meal is a banquet and every night sleep in the clasp of the god emperors arms.
One month repeating by rote the rituals of arming and unleashing of the violent machine spirits of their las carbines under the distrustful eye of the tech priests. The machine men watching to ensure no misuse of their holy charges or heretical dissemination of knowledge. One month of running the endless decks, of learning how to fall from space, how to burn the xenos and how to sustain oneself on pure hate.
This is the Imperial Guard. The same dull rote monotony that they faced mining upon their penal planet, but with better food and less likelihood of death in acid lakes. That is about to end.
Two weeks ago the rhythm, the heartbeat of the craft changed. The shambling flesh an bone layered over pure steel, the servitors that maintain the ship now roll and hiss with renewed vigour under the tech priests eyes. Arcane rituals repeated throughout the ship with the hum of static prayers to the machine god. Numerable teams of bureaucrats of the imperium break and wear away the archaic pens with florid handwriting over meter long sheets of regulation paperwork, wrapped in scrolls and stored in the info tombs at the depth of the craft. Cargo is dragged day after day from one end of the craft and back. The rumours rise. War is coming. A battlefield awaits them.
The days are filled with rumours, but the nights are empty of dream. Exhaustion from the days drills gives no such luxury. Klaxon’s therefore break the troops from oblivion of sleep, snapping them awake. Stacked in tiny holes one above each other in the barracks. A heaving mass of humanity that staggers, jumps and rolls awake ready for inspection.
Hans Lokisson and Father Deimos are the first to the ground, standing to attention. Hans Lokisson, weapons specialist and notably scruffy amongst the guard. Black hair shoulder length and a day of stubble against regulations, even in a regimented line up he manages to slip into the background watching without betraying intent. By comparison Father Deimos, the squad priest is an overt sight, garbed in ecclesiarchal robes, despite the best efforts still speckled with dried blood from self flagellation before the emperors shrines, scars upon his blade shaved head, and marks up the arms from self inflicted knife cuts to purify his flesh, his eyes instead burn to reflect his inner fire.
Moments later the two are joined by third squad member, Odette, Squad Medic. She holds herself with quiet confidence against the two squad mates. Professional, tidy, medium build. No element standing out, a slick trained conformity. Finally, slow, a muscled grey mass rolls from the sleeping hole thudding onto the floor. Big, muscled, grey and mean. The mutant Ogyrn Baine Bravith shuffles slowly to his feet just in time to come face to face with the entering Captain Atheas. Finally standing to attention the Ogryn looms over the unimpressed Captain. For a moment Captain Atheas looks like he is going to scream in the Ogryns face, bawling him out, but he holds back. That is not his role, it would demean him to show such a response.
Instead the Captain smiles “Bravith. What is your drill sergeants name?”
The Ogryn looks confused for moment then grunts “Sergeant Vorgyn”
“Private Bravith” the captain says, hard emphasise on the first word “Be good enough to march over to Sergeant Vorgyn’s barracks right now and call him a useless shite waste of space”
The Ogryn blinks twice as thoughts try to line up in its head
“THAT’S AN ORDER PRIVATE!”
Finally comprehending Bravith shambles from the room to where Drill Seargent Vorgyn is preparing in his quarters
“Erm. Seargeant” the giant Bravith mumbles “Captain Aethis has a message for you sir. Says you’re useless sir sergeants sir. Sir.”
Almost visibly chewing upon an imagined cigar in his mouth the muscled drill sergeant squarely matches the Ogryns eyes, unimpressed “Is that what my captain said?”
“I believe so” The mass of muscle across Bravith’s back rippled in a shrug “He said to come across to you with the message…that you are a useless piece of excrement”
Neck muscles tensed, and veins bulging upon his forehead the Drill Sergeants face slowly runs from the pale white of a void born to beetroot red, arms tensing and flexing. Lungs filling ready for release. “ARE YOU TRYING TO UNDERMINE MY CAPTAINS COMMAND MAGGOT? WHAT DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING YOU WASTE OF UNIFORM? JENKINS! GET TWO DRUMS OUT ‘ERE. BIGGEST DRUMS WE GOT. WE ARE GOING TO CRUCIFY THIS MOTHERFUCKER.” Spittle flies and two uniformed men run out, dragging metal drums which they set up nearly three meters apart. The Ogryn obediently lies out upon the drums, muscles taut, arms outstretched by the side
“Right. You are going to stay there. You are not going to move a muscle. If one muscle moves you will have wished to had been granted the emperors mercy rather than incurring my wrath. Do you understand maggot?”
Gritting his teeth to keep straight Bravith replies “Sir. Yes sir”
Meanwhile the morning inspection continues, the wailing klaxon finally silenced. The soldiers are teamed in pairs, with only the Ogryn’s minuscule parter left standing alone in Bravith’s absence. A single servitor, metal skull head staring blankly, it’s rib cage wired expanded open, wires over steel to accommodate a massive vox caster build into the exposed cavity, echoes the captains words to all assembled.
“You may have been wondering what has been happening on this ship the past week. We have been descending to a solar system, to maintain its safety for the emperor’s loyal subjects. I do not have either all the information or the clearance to give you the full information on what we will face. That is the job of the ships commander. You should prepare to drop onto a planet filled with the enemies of the emperor. We will be making the drop in two days. During this time your squad should prepare for its likely role in securing the landing grounds for arriving imperial forces. As a drop squad we expect you to act as the shock troops, landing where the enemy leasts expect it and destroying what is in your way. Present yourself to the quartermaster, and address any queries to him regarding available kit. Dismissed”
Elsewhere, the returning drill sergeant’s face twitches momentarily with disappointment,a grunt escaping as he spies the Ogryn Baine, aching but unmoved still balanced painfully over the heavy drums. It may be a trick of the light but a mocking smile may have ran across the muscles of the hulking mutants face.
“Right” mutters Sergeant Vorgyn, before raising his voice again “Seems like we got a smart one on our hands. Someone who thinks they can do what they like. Boys, ere, bring those weights. No, not those, the big ones. You’ll need both of you to carry them. Higher. Lift ’em higher” The Ogyrn sags momentarily as something cold and metal sinks into its lower spine before pushing back, proud and braced against the pain once more.
“Right, lets see how it does with all this” Vorgyn says before leaving the room, empty once more.
The quartermasters area is sill nearly empty. A skinny, lean muscled man in open chested fatigues and sweat stained string vest, dog tags upon his chest mans the area, more interested in the innumerable meter high stacks of paperwork than any visitors. Hans Lokisson glances at the area as he waits, spying chattering difference machines spooling out sigil covered sheets that collapse onto the paperwork piles, adding to the drudgery to be done. Eventually the quartermaster looks up
“First of the new lot are you? Bit keen.”
“What’s wrong with that” Hans says as he looks down his nose at the quartermaster in contempt. “I came early as I want your best stuff”
“Really?” The quartermaster says, before coughing with heaving chest “As good as that? Name and rank then son”
“Private Hans Lokisson of Hadeon 013”
“Fresh from fourth barracks huh” The quartermasters sniffs “No problem, general issue then. Right, one micro bead, don’t forget to set the right frequency. One uniform. One grav chute. One batch Frag grenades. No primers yet do don’t get cocky son. One set krak grenades. No primers again, not that we don’t trust you before the battlefield.” The quartermaster goes down the list, piling them high upon the arms of Lokisson “Right. That’s it. Any thing else you fucking need?”
“How about a woman for tonight? “Hans says with raised eyebrow under his non regulation length fringe
“From what I hear there’s plenty in the barracks…charming..man like you should be fighting them off with sticks”
In the aforementioned barracks Father Deimos has yet to leave. Blood spatters on the cold metal floors as he drags a scarification blade across the back of his arms , muttering prayers to the holy god emperor and spittle spilling from his lips “We have been led by our Captain” he say to the watching crowd “Shown by example as he cast out the mutant from amongst us. Sent the beast to insult out honest, pure, human drill sergeant so to raise his hatred for the other, and then forced the mutant to be cast down before that pure human hatred. Remember this example as we set upon the Xenos below, that hatred shall keep you pure as we purge the xenos with holy flame!”
Odette rolls her eyes at this, but the blood of the rest of the barracks raise in fire. Chants to the god emperor echo amongst the vaulted racks where they had been sleeping but moments before. As Odette slips out towards the Quartermaster, Father Deimos watches distrustful. She seems insufficiently pious, almost heretically open minded maybe. She must be watched lest she leads other to temptation.
Odette finds the stock quarters busier now, Bionic eyed corpses mounted upon tracks shuffle around. Buzzing from vox casters and pumping sheets of computational data from typewriters mounted in their sides as they distribute equipment to the waiting squaddies. A warm oily smell oozes from the one nearest Odettte as she waits, tapping her foot impatiently.
“Hold out your arms” Comes the Servitors hissing vox tones. As Odetta complies, it shifts placing item after item upon her arms “Do you require any other equipment?”
Odetta lists a complex set of medical kit that would be of aid. The simple machine spirit of the servitor whirs, and looks blankly before rolling off. Moments later it returns an presses a sledgehammer upon the top of the pile. Ignoring Odetta’s objects it then rolls off to process the next waiting serviceman,
After long hours of waiting Father Deimos finally reaches the front of the queue. His arms filled with his official robes and chainblade of purification.” Anything else you fucking need?” the quartermaster mutters.
“Yes.” Eyes still filled with the energy of his recent speech Father Deimos continues “I need the emperors purifying flame. Prometheum to fuel my flamer. The planet will be riddled with Xenos scum and I shall not be denied the chance to send them back to whence they came in his name!”
The quartermaster shrugs and makes a minimal attempt to look for prometheum canisters. He is about to turn back with unconvincing apologies when he spies two directly beside him Still surprised he presses the two canisters to the top of Deimos’ arms. “Huh, our supply line is barely set up, didn’t think we would have that”
“The emperor provides flame to match the fire in my heart” Deimos says, before departing to the weapons chapel cathedral to prostrate himself before the effigy of the emperor in thanks for this bounty.
Hours later the Ogryn, muscles taunt and burning, collapses to the ground. Barrels, heavy though they are, bouncing away from under its bulk. Their metallic clang echoing around the cathedral like room.
“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU’RE DOING?” The Drill Sargent booms, satisfaction finally in his voice after the lengthy wait he has had “What do you think this is? A girls camp? Sleeping on the job? GET UP SOLDIER!”
The Ogryn pulls himself slowly up, expression attempting for nonplussed despite the pain.
“Well? What are you just standing there for? Have you no work to do?” The sergeant shouts
“But, you told me to stand?”
“Your entire regiment has gone to the quartermaster already and you just stand here. You going to just stand there when shooting starts? MOVE YOU WASTE OF SPACE!”
Unquestioning Baine shuffles off to the quartermasters. The crowd is dispersing now and the quartermaster turns to go back to his chair, instead coming face to chest with the massive Ogryn. Taking several steps back the quartermaster looks up. “So, you been in this game long?”
“We’re playing a game?” Baine smiles
The quartermaster sighs “Name and rank..”
Everything presented is Ogryn sized. A massive reinforced microbead. Bulky ripper gun. A tent like length of cloth that counts as a uniform dragged by three privates into the Ogryns waiting arms”Oh god….”Mutters the quartermaster “Wet weather gear’s next….”
Confused at the seeming despair at such normal kit the Ogryn grunts “Got a bigger knife?”
After a lengthy search that turns up nothing, a large weighty stick is dumped onto the top of the Ogryn’s pile and the staff depart quickly before they are asked to provide anything else
Now equipped the squad return to barracks. Lokisson sat apart from the other, polishing the las carbines barrel. Father Deimos, flak armour now strapped over his ceremonial robes, wraps his rosaries through a relic from his home planet, finger bones of children who died before they could serve the emperor. Wrapping them around the barrel of his las carbine, around the purity seals on the weapon, Deimos gains the attention of their Captain who strides amongst them
“What are they?” Captain Aethis says, pointing at the relics, distaste in his voice
“How observant sir” Deimos smiles with disconcerting glee “These are the relics from my home planet, the finger bones of those who never had the chance to pull the trigger on a weapon. Their purity now set to war?”
For a moment the Captain is wrong footed by the response “Relics? Like that of Saint Drusus?” He shakes his head clearing the thought. This is no high ranking member of the ecclesiarchy, but a common penance world priest. “LISTEN YOU TWERP!. YOU MAY BE A PRIEST BUT YOU ARE STILL IN THE GUARD. TAKE THAT TAT OFF!”
“Sir. Yes sir” comes the reply. Deimos slipping the rosaries and relics into his pockets for later. The Captain is no different to any other warden, and when they are out from under his eye the relics can float free again in the emperors name.
The rest of the day is taken up with soul wearying exercise and sleep numbing rote repetition. Klaxons again break them from dreamless sleep in the morning. Hans Lokisson on deck and saluting before he is even fully awake, ready for inspection. Deimos moments after, then Odetta. Finally the Ogryn slumps down again, sluggish and still unsure of where he is. It is inspection time, new weapons and uniform have been issued and if they are not polished and shining then the men are ordered down to do hundreds of press ups. Spared punishment this time, Baine leers a sarcastic grin at the Captain’s departing back mockingly.
Finally the Captain settles at the end of the room, Drill Sergeant by his side and a warped servitor, vox unit breaking from its chest and carried upon two withered leathery arms. As the Captain speaks his voice booms out from the servitors grill amongst hissing and static
“Today. Today men and women of the Imperial guard. Today events have moved up. You will be proud and honoured to know that your time of service is soon at hand. Each of you will now make your way in orderly and correct fashion to the antichamber to the left of these barrack. You will make your way in an orderly fashion right now!”
In lines the troops wheel out the door, merging in with the precision of a processional march. Lokisson hesitates a moment, unsure if he is following correctly, but quickly joins the line, Deimos, led by the emperors hands steps in fluidly, part of the machine, leaving Baine stood blinking and confused momentarily before just following those in front to wherever they may go. The procession of bodies goes smoothly, no showy flourishes, just a natural rhythm of progression.
The mass of human bodies fill the designated room. An empty void of a chamber, vast and unadorned. No few remember the fighting pits of their penal home world. Though those chambers were more acrid with the drippings of acid from their daily toil. Here servitors shamble and more experienced guard watch from railings and guard ways high above. Teams of servitors in ragged unison heave forwards, wrapped in chains around their bionic limbs, each step dragging a vast tablet from the ground, an image flickering across its surface On each side more chains wrap giant vox casters that hum and spit. The wrath of the machine spirits within evident in their discordant feedback.
Upon the railings above, and simultaneously upon the screen a uniformed man appears. Embroidered bespoke uniform, double breasted jacket hanging over his shoulder, pocked by medals of past campaigns and adorned blade by his side. The Regiment Commander Casmirre himself. As he starts to speak the vox casters let out a high pitched whine of pain that falls to a rumbling groan that echoes with the commander’s voice.
“For many of you, this is the first time you have seen me, and for many of those, also the last. For those of you who have taken your training aboard this craft seriously, who have the emperor in your heart, you shall see me again many times. Of that I have no doubt.”
“Our mission, sent from the high lords of Holy Terra itself, is to defend but one planet from Xenos scum. This planet, this one small planet, is a great and powerful necropolis world, part of the imperium and its right to claim all that it lays its eyes upon. The honoured dead of the imperium are buried here. The foul creatures have attacked this place and it is our duty to defend it!”
“You will be glad to hear, that we are not the only regiment against this force, we are merely the shock troops. The forefront of the assault. The regiment colloquially know as “Tommy’s Scouts”, a mopping up regiment, will be here soon”
“They will arrive after you have caused absolute chaos amongst the xenos scum,. Have no illusions, the Tommy’s are fine warriors, but also vain glory seeking boy scouts and farmers from a fat and weak world. They would take all the glory from those who truly earned it”
“I for one, do not intend to let them take one single ounce of glory or pleasure of the kill from my men! Your allies in this war will be here soon with their fancy weapons and hellhound tanks. Here a full week after you are dropped to the planets surface.”
“I don’t intend to give them anything to mop up.”
“We shall destroy every stronghold. Every foul Xenos. Every being that stands before us before they even arrive.. They shall parade and prance as they dance around, but shall they have the glory?”
“SIR NO SIR!” comes back the cry. In the midst of the screaming Lokisson shows less enthusiasm, fading to the back, away from sight. As the commander steps aside, he allows the Captains below him to meet the screaming hordes of Imperial guard, to give them their orders for the coming war. Sargent Vorgyn steps up to the squad “our task is to outfit and man drop pods 18-43. Get moving lads”
Chanting psalms of the saints of the imperium and the holy war against the Xenos Deimos is first to the drop pod, a cramped ball, barely big enough for the group. Red hot pipes running though the gratings above, and ice touched shafts amongst the enclosed floor. As the men approach the metal affixing the drop pod to the ship creaks and groans, the pod itself rattling disturbingly.
The squad quickly goes through the motions, ignoring the flickering led sigils and technological runes that are etched into the drop pod, items that are under the purview of the Tech Priests. They strap themselves into the cramped alcoves that await them. Calming his mind, and that of the squad Father Deimos recites a psalm of the joys of ignorance and how it shields you from temptation. A single figure however has not joined them.
Paused hesitant at the entrance to the cramped chamber the bulky Ogryn Baine shakes its head. The space is too small, some primal part of its brain refuses to move into what could easily become a cage. Servitors shuffle around him, moving into the craft, matching dials and gears in auspicious alignment for the crafts release. Still The Ogyrn just stands looking in.
Finally Father Deimos snaps “Get in you mutated filth. The emperor has granted you a chance to redeem yourself in death. Get in here! Do not succumb to cowardice in the face of the xenos”
Confused the Ogyrn looks on
“GET IN NOW OR WE SHALL CHARGE YOU WITH DESERTION AND BURN YOU AT THE STAKE”.
Baine nods. Whoever is thinking of deserting is obviously bad and Deimos should shout at him. He, however, is still just standing here outside the tiny death trap. He’s not dumb enough to go in such a small place, not dumb like whoever has annoyed Father Deimos.
Minutes pass and the dark interior of the drop pod suddenly is filled with new shadows cast by the dancing light of flame and the echoes of the rush of gas pouring loose. “Very well” mutters Deimos, unlatching himself from the drop pod, his flamer ready and primed in hand. “I should have expected nothing more from a mutant”
Deimos strides from the craft, lifting the bulky flamer with both hands “Final chance.. get in or I will burn you were you stand for defying the emperors will!”. Moments pass, Baine staring, realising finally the meaning. He looks to the flamer, and ruminates that he is fairly sure that Deimos won’t pull the trigger. Fairly sure. The Ogryn flexes its muscles and the priest finger slowly tightens on the trigger. Finally Baine looks at him, blinks, then sinks to his knees and then slides prostate to the floor. The priest is momentarily impressed by the Ogyrns piety until he spies a servitor behind the creature, a now empty syringe at the end of its mechanical arms. A sedative syringe enough to put out an elephant, recently emptied into Baine. Disappointed , Deimos returns to his place in the drop pod, blowing out the Flamers primer, and returning the pod to darkness. “See, this is why no succour must be given to the mutant. Their very existence spits at all that is pure in the human form”
From outside the pod, the drill sergeant speaks “What about those who would not help lift their drugged colleague to their seat”
Father Deimos hides a frown in the darkness, then places the flamer pack by his side, and returns to the Ogyrn “I am just ensuring the sacred Prometheum is not spilled by the filthy mutant breaking its casing”. His college Jools runs out to help him drag the Ogryn in, but even between the two of them they barely manage to drag the bulky creature to the doorway. Exhausted Deimos looks in at the sat Imperial guard. “Am I to castigate this creature myself. Come lay your hands on the mutant and punish him for his failure?”. Their battle squad-mates, Stoo and Jops disengage from their seats and help drag the bulky creature to the wall, putting the odd boot in on the way.
With everyone strapped in, more servitors come in, lights shining from bionic eyes, encompassing the room and confirming its state. Tech priests follow in their red robes of the Adeptus Mechanicus, sacred unguents puffing from their mechanical limbs that refract as rainbow slick oil against the lights. Chanting the rituals “Turn the affixed gear sixth way, strike twice with the ritual spanner. Place the activator in the slot of entry” they run through the final preparations of the drop pod. Finally done, all but the squad depart. Chains dragging down the metal slab to shut them in. Isolated and alone.
Runes appear, counting down from a hundred. Lokisson stares into the middle distance, calm as he can in this strange and exotic machinery. Acrid steam fills the chamber as the pod rattles and disengages, a sudden shock of movement, harnesses tight against their bodies, falling through the void. Smooth movement settles in for moments, before turbulence signifies their entrance to the atmosphere. The runes the Tech Priests had been administering turn red, one by one. A red light fills the pod, growing brighter and brighter. The machine spirits moan through the vibrating shell of the craft.
“Though we walk through the valley of death we do not fear. We follow the example of our emperor and take the lives of the impure, adding their lifespan to our own “ Deimos mutters in the glare.
A hiss of static warps into a vox synth voice “The buckle and holy retention valves must be released at this time”. No one responds, the secrets of the Adeptus Mechaicum are not for them to know and the words mean nothing. Long seconds passed followed by the same synthetic voice “The weakness of the flesh is to remove itself at this time. By decree the doors and holy portal of drop pod 843-793 are to be opened. Release the holy doors at this time”
Lokisson glances to the door, seeing a set of numbers glittering above it “Detonation countdown initiated”. Releasing the catch on his harness Lokisson pushing himself across to the portal. The sacred rituals of opening are a guarded secret of the tech priests, but he pushes against the door, trying to move it through strength and will. The shaking of the door stills in response, the portal jamming fast and the countdown runes quickening.
Eyes still down, Father Deimos mutters “Do you have Krak grenades my son? Those idiotic tech priests have not taught their insubordinate machine spirits their place in the plans of the god emperor. Do the emperors will and destroy them to show that his will shall not be defied and the Mechanicum be damned”
Hans Lokisson nods, bringing two of the small and focused explosives from his satchel, afixing them to the door. Moments later their senses blink out. Eardrums recoiling, and eyes blinded. Wind slams them back in their harnesses. As their senses slowly return from the blast they see the success of their actions. The door ruptured to clear sky, and rapidly approaching ground.
Lokison, braced against the wall, glances over to where Baine still slumps, the drugs still leaving him unconscious. Before he can move to aid his comrade Father Deimos stands, robe billowing in the wind.
Without a second though Deimos casts himself through the open hatchway into the air, activating his grave chute as he falls to the ground, the words shouting from his lungs
“FOR THE EMPEROR!”
Below awaits for them, only war.