The pound ‘music’ was oppressive. It dulled every sense, but Kael’ion knew what it meant to stay focussed. She voxed Jaq and Arn, “You’ve been made. Don’t look, but you’ve got four on your six”. Someone stepped from the shadows directly behind the four. Two barely audible, almost simultaneous, shots, one from the shadowy assailant and a hissing whoosh of flamer outside announced trouble. The lights blinked out. There was a moment of silence and in the next instant Thermal Warning descended into darkness and anarchy.

The doorway was the only source of light, its frame engulfed with flames from the burning promethium accelerant. Silhouetted furniture and figures began to fly. Kael’ion knew she needed to extricate herself from this mess. Gliders engaged, she pushed off from the wall behind her. She ducked and leapt over falling people and cast aside furniture. A brawl had broken out, the neutral ground of Thermal Warning suddenly not so neutral. A large limb swung out at her, but thankfully she caught it in her augmented peripheral vision and swooped below it. She made the door… this was going to be a leap into the unknown. Her focus on exiting had been absolute. Her knowledge of what was outside was not.

Dark. Bright. Dull. Her augmetic adjusted to the light changes faster than her organic eye could. A flaming person, maybe one of Ulixes’, had fallen to their knees. Kael’ion shoulder barged them as she glided by. They wouldn’t be getting up again. Two others were down, she jumped to avoid tripping as she sped past. Arn stood there, flamer in hand. She skidded to a stop just behind him, pulling her long las from under her cloak and calmly patting out some flames licking its edge.

Since leaving the hauler behind, the journey had taken on a multidimensional aspect. No longer were the decisions just left or right, now they also incorporated up, down, under and over. Kael’ion was working the newly exloaded information on the dataslate expertly. This data that come from that strange man Arn believed was part of the Holy Inquisition, but it was accurate so far.

Their stablights and the green glow of the dataslate was the only illumination. The angular forms of moving shadows cast by the beams gave an impression of motion even when they weren’t moving. Every defunct pipe and derelict conduit offering strange shadows. Shadows in which anything could be hiding.

Jaq just wasn’t clear what the destination of this journey would be. A ‘temple’ was the word that man had used. What did he mean by that? At least Kael’ion seemed to think the data was high fidelity and that it had been created by a servo skull with a machine spirit of a type she wasn’t familiar. Its anti-grav motor had allowed it ingress through this environment that would have been challenging for reconnoitring humans. It was challenging for them to follow.

They moved in, over, under and through each obstacle they encountered in the pipeworks. After about an hour they encountered a wall, a literal wall of plasteel. Kael’ion paused. She tapped ruins on the dataslate, but she couldn’t seem to find the route. The servo skull seemed to have mapped a route that claimed fifteen yards straight up this sheer surface.

Jaq offered to help. Kael’ion handed the dataslate to him, somewhat exasperated. His pilot’s brain was used to navigating complex spaces. It took a few minutes, but he believed he saw a route. “This way”, he said in a low voice, conscious of the way sound travelled in this labyrinthine place. They followed him a short distance to another near vertical surface. Not quite as sheer as the last and corroded in some places that might offer handholds. It was a difficult prospect, but he engaged his magboots and made the ascent, a long rope in tow. This got them back on track, but Kael’ion didn’t seem all that pleased. Jaq had usurped her role as navigator, even if only for a short while.

This place was unsettling. The strung out people at the end of the hall, the profane carvings and defacement of the statues, the smells… it all put Arn on edge. His gift always kicked in at times like these. Others talked of nerves in the pit of their stomachs. Arn didn’t feel that. Instead he had the nervous ‘sight’. Darkness didn’t obscure and people took on an etheric shimmer. The wasted people glowed. Other’s nearby, but not in his eye line were similarly shown to him. Someone move in an adjacent room, their movements lithe and graceful. A shrill laughter emanated from there. They thought they were playing with him. He and his flamer knew better.

Trusting the others would have his back, he entered the room. It was a storage space of some kind, caches of Militarum rations, crates of ammo and other unidentified boxes were neatly stacked. The laughing opponent was silent now and they had adopted what they believed was a hidden stance, a secret place to ambush him from. He and his flamer knew better.

A gout of flame engulfed their hiding place. They were instantly aflame, writhing, screaming… it should have been the screaming of agony, and maybe it was, but there was also a disturbing timbre to the sound. A timbre that had a note of unsettling pleasure to it. He and his flamer put an end to it.

  • It looked as though Ulixes and three accomplices were about to accost Jaq and Arn, but they were ambushed, two simultaneous shots taking out two of their number.
  • Arn took care of a third with his flamer, while Ulixes attempted to flee. A las shot from Kael’ion and an inferno shell from Jaq’s combat shotgun took them down. He obsessively touched the textured fabric of his cloak as he and it burned.
  • A nearby drum of chemicals caught light and exploded, knocking Jaq to the ground.
  • They were approached by a calm stranger who hinted they were getting a bit close to his ‘business’ and offered help in the form of a map to where the Amaranthyne’s ‘temple’ was to be found.
  • He also suggested they hide the body, nodding towards a limp arm hanging from the door of the hauler.
  • It was the Vylathi Knife, their face caved in from repeated collisions with the hauler’s dash. There was no sign of Hortensia.
  • They decided to not to hang around as the crowds tumble from Thermal Warning.
  • They stop the hauler and dispose of the body in a darkened area of the Bowels. Lots of beady eyes catch the hauler’s lights as they drop the body into a pool of acid.
  • They follow the map on the dataslate, initially with the hauler and then on foot into the pipeworks. Navigation is tricky.
  • They arrive at a more open area, but hear the sound of metal on metal and some voices in the darkness. People dragging something maybe. Another sound, a rumble from above can be heard. Not a hive quake this time. It’s the onrush of cascading acid. The effluent of a caustic scrubbing of a level above. They fine shelter and the corrosive liquid flows in curtains past them. They’re fine… not so the two unfortunates who’d been salvaging scrap…
  • The ‘temple’ seemed to be a converted workshop; initially converted into an Imperial Shrine, but now co-opted for some other purpose.
  • A single guard was taken out by a silenced shot.
  • The creaking door betrayed their entry into the ‘temple’, but the three people they spotted were out of their minds on drugs (Gratis).
  • The disturbing sigils and defacements were hard to look upon.
  • Things kicked off; Arn flamed a room; Kael’ion shot another cultist; she was hit; Jaq (eventually) hit another cultist, clipping another; Arn finished one with his chainsword.
  • They found chemistry apparatus; it seems the Amaranthyne’s were trying to reverse engineer gratis… they obviously aren’t the source.
  • A voice visited their minds, one at a time. In turn it compelled Arn and Kael’ion to ‘leave’. The resisted individually and as a group, but as explosions were starting to erupt from the flaming store room they reasoned it was indeed time to leave.
  • Jaq glanced back as he left the ‘temple’, spotting a grinning figure with ritual scarring and a bulbous, throbbing forehead.

Until next time,