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Dark Heresy: The Oremor Affliction IC

Game Master Rookseye

On the agri-world of Oremor, at the very fringes of the Malfian sub-sector, acolytes of the Inquisition and their allies must confront a sinister conspiracy that threatens to shake the very foundations of the Calixis sector.


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Arbite Investigator

At least I now know I can drop pretenses. The malevolence dripping off Trizo is unsettling, but regardless I meet his gaze. Would love to try and run off the Yellowbouros this hand. Less chips for him would be better for Thul. But Leprade is on the run it seems.

Ahmazzi wrote:
"I am well aware, perhaps we can find out together just what the consequences will be, given our shared vocation."

"Do you really believe that, Leprade?" I look down at the stack of chips. "Prove it."

Wardja will go ahead and use the Intimidate against Leprade and hope that Trizo's aggressive draw was fruitless.

Thinking I oversold my bluff. Hopefully Lady Cinzia will win if I don't.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Drawing forth the power-blade, Vincent steps forward and in a single fluid motion brings the blade down on the creature's neck.


Male Human Outlaw

Mostly doing this as a bump so the game doesn't get deleted from the message board.

Taking advantage of not being in the current hand. As a leisurely scan the crowd as I wonder if Maia or Sunshine hide within it. What will they look like. Would I even recognize them if they stood right in front of me? Thinking of the makeup that stains my skin. I know how easy it would be to hide a facial scar. So I will not be able to identify Sunshine that way. My gut does tell me she is here. As it Maia. She was wolf kissed though. That wound is deep and fresh. I can use that as an identifier. Most importantly I know her eyes. I stared deep into them when Emrit stitched her up, and she screamed for life. I know her eyes. Doesn't matter what lense, or color they hide behind. I will know them.

As for Maia. Instead of three years dead, and atrophied. She is three years alive and grown. No longer a little girl. How would I know her?

As for the killers that wait. Iacton and Sigmut, if they are here they would have made me before I entered. They will reveal themselves when it is time.


Male Human Outlaw

An other IC bump of the page.

Another thought crosses my mind, and its a dangerous one. I am sitting across from the man who ordered the killing of most of my friends and family. Bloodkin one and all. Even if it meant certain death I know I have enough skill to crush his windpipe. Remember self control Sav. Besides killing him quick would be to good for him. Maybe I should have the Daemon have him... Another dangerous thought. Clear your mind Sav, and focus. Where are the hidden faces in the crowd? Think it best I join in the next hand before I let my idle thoughts wander to far. I don't want to end up like Johnny....


Male Human Outlaw

Bump


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Wardja pushes the fifty-nine chips into the middle of the table with as much false confidence as he can muster, and this confidence is then matched by Lady Cinzia, who only briefly seems to consider the merits of staying in the hand, before passing her forty-three remaining chips over to the pot and going all-in.

Trizo's certainty in the strength of his own hand is readily apparent when he simply pushes the stack of markers forward as if the outcome is no longer in doubt. His serpentine eyes blink slowly as he stares down Wardja, assessing him in a cold-blooded way that is disconcerting for its bizarre calm. He seems mildly amused by the scathing give-and-take between the two arbitrators.

The dealer then turns to Leprade.

Wardja's Intimidate test against Leprade is successful.

Swinthosa Wardja wrote:
"Do you really believe that, Leprade?" I look down at the stack of chips. "Prove it."

Wardja's words, absent any of the pretense that has modulated his tone throughout the tournament thus far, finally give Intelligencer Leprade pause. The corrupted arbitrator's mask of implacability momentarily slips, and his jaw tightens ever so slightly at the bald-faced challenge. Perhaps the dawning realization that he sits, finally unmasked, at a table with a warp-dabbling gang-boss and a serial-killing daemon that possesses the body of his one-time contemporary has an effect, because he sneers in contempt at Wardja, the venom in his words as vitriolic as any irredeemable heretic that Swinthosa has ever uncovered.

"It matters little, your end will come, soon enough."

Leprade tosses his placards to the table with a feigned nonchalance he clearly does not possess at this point in time, folding his hand.

With Leprade leaving the game as First Player, the dealer signals a cessation of bets, and turns his attention to Jeremiah Blitz, whose self-satisfied grin stretches from ear to ear. With no chips of his own remaining, he shakes his head in a passable imitation of a man who cannot believe his own luck. With a theatrical flourish that is by no means unintentional, he lays down yet another Greater Array, a nearly impossible hand to beat, ironically championed by the Rogue Trader placard, one of the highest value cards in the game.

A hush falls over the entire casino, with both Wardja and Lady Cinzia knowing in that moment that they are beaten, the latter unceremoniously eliminated from the tourney despite an excellent hand.

As the dealer moves past them, Savalos watches as the Changeling smiles, casting his trickster's gaze over to Trizo, who drops his cards in disgust. Another Greater Array, but one well short of the value present in Blitz's miraculous hand. His silent rage unnerves even the dealer, who rather nervously rakes the two-hundred or so markers toward the rogue trader. Where there were none a moment ago there now rests a pile in excess of Trizo's current stack.

The crowd's stunned surprise turns to loud applause and raucous cheers at this game-changing development.

A stunning reversal.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #4:

First Player: Intelligencer Leprade

Current Stakes: 220

Gambling Skill Results:

  • Intelligencer Leprade: Folded.
  • Keramiah Tor: Folded.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: 12, four degrees of success, Conservative Draw.
  • Wardja: 41, one degree of success, Aggressive Draw.
  • Savalos: Folded
  • Lady Cinzia: 30, two degrees of success, Aggressive Draw.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Folded.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 19, three degrees of success, Aggressive Draw.

Remaining Chips:

  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 169
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 192
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 15
  • Keramiah Tor: 9
  • Jeremiah Blitz: 223
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Wardja: 32
  • Savalos: 260

Winner: Jeremiah Blitz


Male Human Outlaw

Seeing Trizo's anger at the turn of events. I decide to take advantage of the situation and deliver a barb to the Yelloback. As well as try and cement potential alliances between Lady Cinzia, and Jeremiah. While the Lady is out of the card game. She is definitely not out.

"Congratulations Jeremiah, excellently played! I see Master Trizo as well as myself can learn that Lady Luck and Skill are both Mistress's that must be given equal attention."

Not giving pause for Trizo to give a rebuttal.

"Lady Cinzia, I am sorry at the turn of events. I hope you will do me the honor of gracing me with your company after this game is concluded?"

Doing a quick count of the active players at the table is seven. It gives me pause and concern knowing the number gives power to the other adversary. Seeing who is left I wonder if he has already been eliminated from the immediate game, or we will now see the strength of his hand....


Arbite Investigator

Didn't run off near as many as I thought I would with my bet. Knew then I would not take this hand but am surprised by the winner. At least Savalos is the new chip leader. Maybe he can throw his weight around a little bit more.

Hearing Savalos' words to Tor, I too give a nod of congratulations in his direction.

Hoping Leprade's words are not prophetic, I take a sip of my faux-amasec. The heretic will pay, even if it does cost my life.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

The stroke that severed the head of the frenzied maulchups and allowed Vincent and his companions to continue their desperate retreat along the seemingly endless drainage culvert feels like it happened months ago. As the senior of clerk of what was once Ylesium claustrum looks up at the hazy, bloody colored bruise that is the Unduz II sky, he cannot help but wonder if he is trapped in some awful purgatory, or perhaps an unchanging precursor to hell, Throne knows it is oppressively hot enough.

It takes all of his meager physical conditioning to endure the clinging discomfort of his bodyglove. The suit's environmental controls are gamely trying to regulate his body temperature in the overwhelming humidity, but are largely failing just the same. He finds himself longing for nightfall even knowing that with the dead walking unopposed throughout the plantations this likely is a fool's prayer.

As Ryuk, stealthily prowling at the point of their little band, halts at the edge of the next jog in the zig-zagging trench, he finds his hand going again to the small sabre at his belt. It seems the filigreed ivory of the hilt is the only cool thing in this sweltering, stench-ridden apocalypse.

The young tech-priest stops just behind Vincent, his own labored breathing belying the myth that the Mechanicus never truly tire as normal men.

From somewhere nearby comes again the percussive tattoo of massive, explosive ordinance detonating, and both men flinch involuntarily as they wait for the psyker to signal that all is clear.

Vincent, please attempt an Awareness test.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

While Wardja and Savalos can guess at the seething rage flowing through Trizo upon losing the hand, Uriah effectively feels it, the barely contained frustration and welling anger rising from the Yellobouros kingpin like a black geyser of malign psychic energy.

It takes him a moment to clear his head, wondering just why the presence of the She-Wolf's latent psychic shadow is heightening his sensitivity to such things.

It is ultimately the lilting laughter of Tikeen that quickens his recovery.

The astropath chuckles to herself, a look of admiration and incredulity on her smooth features.

"I told you it would be folly to anger my master."


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Jeremiah Blitz winks roguishly for the benefit of everyone at the table, and lowers his head slightly, spinning the forefingers on each of his hands in slow circles in the sitting approximation of a theatrical bow.

Without looking at the glowering Trizo, he replies to Savalos,

"I have found in my travels that Fortune favors the bold, Master Thul."

The Yellobouros boss says nothing as the next hand is dealt, but both Savalos and Wardja take some satisfaction from Leprade's quiet muttering to himself.

Savalos Thul wrote:
"Lady Cinzia, I am sorry at the turn of events. I hope you will do me the honor of gracing me with your company after this game is concluded?"

Contrary to his expectations, Savalos finds that Lady Cinzia does not appear defeated, or even disappointed at her sudden reversal. She simply smiles a sincere smile that only seems to fall into the demesne of expression possessed by fantastically wealthy widows, gently patting his hand, as if it is he who requires reassurance and sympathy.

"It is alright, my young friend, it merely means the cards have a different story to tell today. When their tale is finally finished, I would be truly grateful to continue our conversation from earlier."

She demurely slides her chair back, slightly away from the table, and commences fanning herself primly with an elegant half-circle of polished ivory, watching as the cards begin to fall for round five.

Savalos Thul wrote:
Doing a quick count of the active players at the table is seven. It gives me pause and concern knowing the number gives power to the other adversary. Seeing who is left I wonder if he has already been eliminated from the immediate game, or we will now see the strength of his hand....

As if reading his thoughts again, the Changeling smirks knowingly, sliding the placards dealt to him into hand, one by one.

Savalos, Wardja, please make a Gambling skill test for round number five.


Male Human Outlaw

Gambling Test (1d100=12)


Arbite Investigator

Gambling Test (45), 1d100 ⇒ 57


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Awareness = 44

Roll : 1d100=100


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Vincent, Awareness test failed.

As Ryuk peers around the bend in the culvert, Vincent tries to focus his eyes on his surroundings, but the sweat from his brow combined with the nauseatingly dull red haze of the skyline make it impossible to focus. This, coupled with the ringing in his ears from the bombing nearby, completely dull his senses to the point that Ryuk withdraws from his position to come back to where he and Launce wait.

It is only then that Vincent realizes the psyker-clone was trying to say something and signal to him.

"There are sounds ahead, las-fire, the voices of desperate men. We are not alone here."


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos, Wardja, and Uriah all hear Dunkan's gravelly voice in their microbeads as the new round begins.

<'Gereos is still working, but it's going to be a near thing. Try to stall for time if you can, it looks like the intermission's entertainment at the conclusion of round five is going to be the tech-priests and Einhardt's comm officer against that monster from earlier.'>


Male Human Outlaw

Hearing Dunkan's words, I know the best way to stall for time is keeping everyone at the table.

"So Jeremiah, I heard you won your Warrant of Trade at a table like this?"


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

After the placards are dealt face down, one after another by the solemn dealer and the initial ante is made, he turns to Keramiah Tor, who sits still as a stone, oblivious to the gazes of all at the table. Finally, after what seems an interminable silence, the soft-spoken dealer prompts the weathered old cleric for his decision. The red-robed old man with the hollow eyes, unflappable despite all that has thus far transpired only raises one bushy eyebrow, never lifting his eyes from his cards, before soundlessly signalling a call. He remains impossible to read.

Savalos Thul wrote:
"So Jeremiah, I heard you won your Warrant of Trade at a table like this?"

Savalos decides to broach a subject with last round's winner that could buy his allies more time just as the dealer turns to ask if the Rogue Trader will elect to raise or call.

Sav, please attempt a Charm or Blather skill test, your choice.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #5:

First Player: Keramiah Tor

Current Stakes: 7

Gambling Skill Results:

  • Keramiah Tor:
  • Jeremiah Blitz:
  • Wardja: 57, failure by 1 degree
  • Savalos: 12, success by 3 degrees
  • Johnnie/The Changeling:
  • Trizo dol Soulard:
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Folded.

Remaining Chips:

  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 169
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 192
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 15
  • Keramiah Tor: 9
  • Jeremiah Blitz: 223
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Wardja: 32
  • Savalos: 260

Bidding to Jeremiah Blitz after Tor's call.


Male Human Outlaw

Doing a Charm Test. Spent a Fate Point for a reroll

Charm Test (1d100=5)


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Vincent mutters a silent curse and motions the other to keep moving.

"We do not have time for this, say in cover and keep moving. Those poor bastards are on their own."


Arbite Investigator

Throne alive. More lettuce for a hand and I'm out another round.

I watch as Savalos attempts to slow down the game with banter and table talk. Wondering what those men are going through in the slave pits. A day must seem like a solar year down there.

Will nurse my drink scanning the table and crowd for the moment.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

As Jeremiah Blitz collects his cards, he gives Savalos a knowing look, suggesting to the inquisitorial agent that he has more than an inkling that there is something more afoot in the Heretic's Wake tournament than a spirited game of cards.

"I see my reputation precedes me a bit with the, eh, Upspire nobility of your fair world, Lord Thul. Perhaps the past hand will serve to further enhance the heretofore unknown interest in my personal mythology on Oremor. I can honestly say, that if my hunches prove correct, as they usually do (he pauses dramatically, while looking over at each remaining player in turn, saving a grudging glance at the Changeling for last), I may well be the least interesting of the remaining players when the tales are told of this day."

Not seeing his taunting mirth returned by any reaction from his fellow players, he continues.

"You are correct, my Warrant of Trade was more or less won in a game of chance. You see, when you best a Sector Lord of the Adeptus Terra at a high-stakes round of cards, you do not presume upon such a grand and awe-inspiringly powerful personage to immediately render his wager in full, especially if he is at his wit's end with cold fury for losing in the first place."

Seeing that he only fully possesses Savalos and Wardja's attention from those remaining at the table, he directs his gaze to their side.

"So, being the good winner that I am, I took my leave of him and was later notified through intermediaries of said powerful man that he had made good on our contest's results and that I was to proceed with all due haste to high orbit over the sector capital, Scintilla. On my arrival I was greeted by said falsely magnanimous Sector Lord, who shall go unnamed, and presented with all pomp and ceremony a Warrant of Trade endowed by Holy Terra, itself. Being a man of little outward ostentation, I surmised that the ship provided to me by his lordship was his means of a subtle revenge, as I suspect he was something of a sore loser, for the Ordained Destiny, overly gilded as she is with her all-encompassing sheen of gold, towering dorsal ridge of saintly statues and Ministorum-influenced decor would likely be perceived as something of a poor fit for such a scoundrel as I."

He pauses, feathering his cards in hand.

"Not so."

"This man had just bestowed upon me a gift that will become a birthright to my lineage and enhance my wealth to levels that I once could only dream at from my lowly beginnings as a Chartist captain. I respectfully accepted his half-hearted blessing and feigned just enough disappointment to make him believe his absurdly misguided attempt at 'vengeance' was successful. After all, what did I care if my trillions upon trillions worth of warp-capable cruiser and future income should look like some space-capable Ecclesiarchy cathedral?"

"My travels and travails have since brought me to the Koronus Expanse and beyond, and I find the lifestyle suits me especially well. But, as you can no doubt perceive, I still like my occasional game of chance, Lord Thul."

Charm test successful by multiple degrees, Sav. Your stalling has given Dunkan and Gereos, and more importantly Kaltos, Ivaanov, and Private Kotts more valuable time which will be reflected soon.

After all this, the rogue trader waves his hand casually, declining to raise.

Raise or Call to Wardja, no one has raised thus far.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

No sooner has Vincent pronounced his intent, does the sound of las-fire and shouting fill their ears from the lip of the culvert just behind them, punctuated here and there by the hoarse, ululating moans of the risen dead.

As the panicked cries draw closer, it is followed by the sudden appearance of a green and gold clad guardsman, falling rather awkwardly into the culvert with a dull thud and cry of pain. He rises to his knees, alternately grabbing at his injured shoulder and scrabbling for his dropped lasgun, his features obscured by his respirator mask. Another guardsman, a larger man bereft of his helmet, arms wrapped protectively around his light stubber, drops in just behind him. Although the newcomer lands on his feet, he topples over on to his back just the same after slipping and losing his balance in the polluted water. If the continued shouts from above are any indication, it sounds like still more Oremor Penal Legionaires are retreating toward the trench.

The first guardsman, his face and intent hidden by his gas mask, turns his insectile eyes toward the companions, and frantically redoubles his efforts to pick up his las, shouting a muffled warning to his partner.

Seeing this possible new threat, Ryuk further confirms his staunch loyalty to the man who freed him from the Oubliette by stepping in front of the senior clerk and tech-priest and brandishing his witch-blade.

Vincent, what will you do?


Male Human Outlaw

I am glad Jeremiah obliges me and tells me his story. Giving much needed time. Hopefully it is enough, but I plan on buying some more. Waiting for Wardja's call. I already know I am going to raise looking at my hand. I will burn every chip I have if I need to if it means I can save the rest of our teams lives.

I also take measure that Jeremiah is starting to see the game behind the game, and hope he is an ally we can rely on. He showed me one of his cards. The fact that he openly called himself a scoundrel. The name of his reputation; like myself as a Hive Ganger. The reputation of station not the man.

I nod respectfully at the conclusion of his story.

"I hope Lady Luck will smile upon me as she did you that day."

Now that the seed has been planted. The question remains... can I trick Trizo into giving up Sunshine? Remembering Johnnies words before the Hitchhiker took over. And watching there actions at the table. My gut tells me that Trizo still has Sunshine. I just have to figure out a way to sweeten the pot and draw him out. And for the life of me I have no idea how to do it.


Arbite Investigator

The rogue trader's story reminds me of some of the high-stake games I witnessed back home on Baraspine. Once saw a Sultani lose his office and land titles to a lowly court-eunuch.

I give an admiring grunt and quietly say to Blitz, "The Concordium states, 'Turn a seeming disadvantage to your advantage. The greater the seeming disadvantage, the greater the possible advantage.' Well done, sir."

He does not need to tell me that appearances can be deceiving. In my line of work it's expected.

With this lousy hand I decline to raise as well. The best I can hope for is a free draw. Or that Thul ends up with my chips so he can stay at the table longer.


Male Human Outlaw

Seeing Wardja let the hand slide I take the initiative, and toss in 20 chips for the raise.

"Care to join me Master Trizo? Or has the last hand blunted your bite?"

Time to strike while his temper and pride have the better of him.


Somewhere Dark

Kotts squats on the filthy floor of the dome-shaped chamber, checking the chipped hilt of the old chainsword he found in his prior detention chamber, while Ivaanov stands mutely at attention checking the leads and makeshift wiring on the improvised antenna the two tech-priests created using some of his liberated vox-components.

No further signal has come from the arbitrator's tech-priest or anyone else for that matter for several long minutes.

With a sudden grinding lurch that nearly throws Kaltos to the floor, the chamber begins to rise again, the faint sounds of the machinery outside of the half-dome reverberating through its walls.

For Kaltos it feels as though the interminable waiting is nearly at an end.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos raises, and without any hesitation at all, the Changeling follows suit, the same smug, knowing, grin still an alien expression on the face of the acolyte's possessed friend. He turns mockingly to Trizo, eager to see his reply to Thul's barb.

The ganger's golden, augmetic arm methodically counts out the chips and stacks them with the rest of the ante.

"I think I will, Savalos. Tell me, how is your mother these days?"

"I do hope she is doing well."

Trizo dol Soulard bears his teeth in a smile that would seem almost endearing or companionable were it not for the cold-hearted subtext of his words.

The Changeling's gaze flicks back to Savalos, one eyebrow arched curiously, eager to see the if the goading words have any effect on the ganger.

Leprade, who seems to have regained his composure somewhat, adds his final 14 chips to the pot, without any hesitation at all, suggesting he is either very confident in his hand, or is orchestrating a very convincing bluff.

Keramiah Tor calls, dragging one hand across his final eight chips, adding them to the ante, betraying even less emotion than Leprade in the act of offering up his final wager. Where he not so blankly impassive, Savalos and Wardja would guess he was almost uninterested in the tournament at this point.

Blitz politely declines the hand he has been dealt, folding instead of calling.

"Not my round, it seems."

The dealer then turns to Wardja to see if Odo Wimarc intends to follow in the rogue trader's footsteps, or match Thul's bid.

Raise of 20 to Wardja.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #5:

First Player: Keramiah Tor

Current Stakes: 89

Gambling Skill Results:

  • Keramiah Tor:
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Folded
  • Wardja: 57, failure by 1 degree
  • Savalos: 12, success by 3 degrees
  • Johnnie/The Changeling:
  • Trizo dol Soulard:
  • Intelligencer Leprade:

Remaining Chips:

  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 148
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 171
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 0
  • Keramiah Tor: 0
  • Jeremiah Blitz: 222
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Wardja: 31
  • Savalos: 239

Raise of 20 to Wardja


Male Human Outlaw

Not taking my mind off the game. I still attempt to read the cards as Trizo returns his barb toward me. While I can tell he suspects. His barb is still vague. He is still fishing to see who I am.

Start with a misdirect, while telling the truth. Use what K'lei-eth taught me.

"Oh I never knew your kind traveled off planet."

"The Venerable Dawnstar is doing well I suppose. Always doing what she chooses. Travels a lot. I suppose that is how you met her aquaintance?"

"How about yourself Lord Trizo? Reading the gossip vids I understand you are loosing a lot of your street 'reputation' recently as well as a number of your soldiers? Must be very frustrating for you."


Arbite Investigator

Not wanting to disrupt the exchange Thul is developing, I simply wave off the dealer and throw in my cards for a fold.


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Placing a calming hand on the clone's shoulder, Vincent musters up his most commanding tone for the guardsmen.

"Situation report trooper."


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Vincent, please attempt either an Ordinary [+10] Command skill test or a Challenging [+0] Deceive test to convey a perceivable air of authority over these men. Solid role-playing in the process will, of course, improve the results of your roll.

The first guardsman, his panic evident despite the concealing mask of his respirator, stumbles to his feet, filthy water filled with stinking chum splashing all around him. He brings his soaked lasgun up to a guarded position, his labored breathing and frantic body language showing that he only wants to continue his flight from whatever chases him.

As the screaming above intensifies, Vincent and the others can hear the groans of the living dead beginning to drown them out.

A third guardsman then drops into the trench just behind the others, his landing the least awkward of the three as he takes the time to cling to the edge of the culvert before leaping. The look of complete surprise on his pale, dirty, countenance at encountering the living blocking the escape route he and his companions hoped to follow would be almost comical under other circumstances.

His mouth works as if he is chewing something unexpected, trying to find the right words, but nothing comes out.

His shaking hand slowly reaches for the las pistol at his belt as his frazzled mind tries to make sense of what Vincent is saying.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Wardja tosses in his cards, leaving the round, as the give-and-take between Trizo and Savalos intensifies.

The gang-lord seems somewhat amused by the man called Dawnstar's posturing, and his thick, golden, augmetic fingers stroke the edge of his placards as he looks over them at Savalos with a withering gaze.

Savalos Thul wrote:
"Oh I never knew your kind traveled off planet."

"Ahh, yes, you'd be surprised the places I've traveled to, 'Dawnstar'."

"The things I've seen... your lovely mother could only hope to be as well-traveled as I, despite her own inclinations into such things."

He favors the hooded woman sitting just behind him with a knowing smile.

Savalos Thul wrote:
"The Venerable Dawnstar is doing well I suppose. Always doing what she chooses. Travels a lot. I suppose that is how you met her acquaintance?"

Rather than directly answering Savalos' question, Trizo dol Soulard changes tack, engaging in some banter of his own.

"Why yes, although it was very long ago. I believe it was during your dear, departed father's funeral services. We were, as it happens, introduced through a mutual friend."

Trizo subtly glances in the direction of the daemonhost, and it appears he is beginning to truly enjoy the game.

"As a matter of fact, I suppose you could say that I was the one responsible for her having the recent opportunity to reunite with this common friend of ours. I trust she enjoyed the surprise?"

As neither the Changeling or Trizo choose to raise further, and Leprade is all-in, the dealer turns toward Keramiah Tor as these words fall from Trizo's lips, with leaden hate, upon the ears of those who fully understand the truth behind them.

Everyone is then stunned into silence when the hollow-faced, unreadable old man speaks, his first words of the tournament.

They do not seem to be directed at anyone specifically, and are delivered in a dry, raspy voice, stilted and careful in inflection, as if he is remembering as he goes along how to form sounds into coherent words as a result of having not uttered anything in a long, long time.

"One... should always... be careful... about the friends they choose."

He gestures for the dealer, and takes an Aggressive Draw.

Looking past Jeremiah Blitz and Wardja, who have folded, the dealer inquires as to Savalos' intentions with his own Draw.


Male Human Outlaw

Gambling Test (1d100=27)

"I raise Twenty. Two cards for the draw."

Ah well cover is blown. And I find it liberating. This round gave me all the information I needed. Its not enough that Trizo killed most of the Duct Wolves, and most of my friends. Now I know he is the one responsible for the killing of both my parents.

He forced most of my cards onto the table. Lady Cinzia knowing my family line, and in turn me telling her of my Mothers passing. Also knows that Trizo murdered her, as well as my Father.

Jeremiah now seems the game behind the game. All the facade is lost.

The unknown variable. The Old Man... Keramiah Tor. His voice. My gut tells me he is an ally.

I take the mop off my head. No sense hiding when the ruse is over. Wolf taking the sheep skin off. Already marked by my enemies. May as well make it easier for my allies to spot me. Srina the Smile Girl is probably watching. Hopefully Iacton and Sigmut are in the crowd as well. Maybe this show will take all eyes off Wardja completely and allow his cards to be played freely and secretly. Time for me to up the game.

"Powdered wigs don't suit me much. Neither do fools. You should be careful Trizo you are almost out of cards. And the ones you have left are collapsing around you."

Saying that I then turn my gaze away from Trizo and stare into straight into the Changelings eyes. And speak in a low voice directly to it.

"We are enemies you and I. Nothing is going to change that. Just who we are. Ying and Yang as they say. But there is a level of respect between us. So know this my honored enemy. Before I am done with him. I will let you have your turn."

I take a shallow drink to wet my whistle.

Turning back to Trizo.

"Your problem is that you don't respect anything or anyone. And that will be your undoing."


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Ahmazzi wrote:
Vincent, please attempt either an Ordinary [+10] Command skill test or a Challenging [+0] Deceive test to convey a perceivable air of authority over these men. Solid role-playing in the process will, of course, improve the results of your roll.

Deceive = 30

Roll : 1d100=59

Vincent does his best impression of Sgt. Einhardt as he addresses the stunned guardsmen.

"Are you all fecking deaf or just fecking stupid? I need a situation report before whatever it is out there gets its ugly arse in here."


Arbite Investigator

Realization precedes Thul's actions by mere seconds. It's all I can do to keep from shouting out or standing up as I feel my heart leap from my chest. Golden Throne! Sure our cover is blown with Leprade and Trizo but who else is out there?

I relax the death-grip on the glass I'm holding and take a swig, wishing it were real amasec. Ah! If I did betray any emotion no one hopefully noticed since every eye is focused on Thul right now.

As Thul speaks I scrutinize the reactions of both the abomination and Trizo. Is the leash fraying?


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Deceive test failed.

Unconvinced by Vincent's shouting, the lead guardsman raises his lasgun to take deadly aim at Ryuk, who, despite remaining silent at Vincent's request still brandishes the eerie-looking blade in a defensive stance in front of the senior clerk.

The larger, bare-headed guardsman with the stubber fumbles the culvert-slimed weapon in his slick grip, nearly dropping it again.

The moment balances on a knife's edge, a heartbeat away from violence when the last man into the trench speaks in a commanding voice normally accustomed to being respected, now strained to the point of fraying completely from the ongoing apocalypse surrounding him.

"Hold your fire, guardsman!"

In contrast to his words, he levels his las-pistol at Vincent, finally freeing it from his belt. Clenching his jaw, grime and filth smeared down one cheek, he shouts again,

"We can all see that you're not infected, but the rules have kind of changed over the last few days. Now, before we're all eaten alive by the pack of flesh-hungry penitents that just chased what's left of my squad into this hole, you better tell me what a tech-priest, a fecking lunatic swinging a sword, and a civilian clerk asking for a sit-rep like he's the Warden himself are doing here!"


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Savalos, Gambling test is successful on a Conservative Draw, degrees of success increased to four.

Savalos takes the cards passed by the dealer and feels the burgeoning rage that is growing within his heart at the revelation of Trizo dol Soulard's words threatening to overwhelm him utterly. The impulse to draw forth his father's scerrido and vault across the table at the Yellobouros gang-lord is almost a visceral need.

It is only when he sees the cards he has drawn; The Witch and The Scoundrel, that the feeling finally subsides. Another Greater Array...

The fury is replaced by a cold detachment and a feeling of purpose now that the charade is ended. He tosses the powdered wig unceremoniously aside, revealing himself to a collective gasp by the wealthy patrons of the Pinnacle of Pearl, a gasp quickly followed by the susurrus of countless whispered conversations as the elite of Oremor try to piece together what has just occurred.

As the dealer turns his attention to the Changeling, the daemon signals distractedly for an Aggressive Draw, not even glancing at his new cards. Instead, the cerulean blue eyes of the creature, still so strange couched in Rico's face, swivel to follow Savalos and Trizo's exchange.

Savalos Thul wrote:
"Powdered wigs don't suit me much. Neither do fools. You should be careful Trizo you are almost out of cards. And the ones you have left are collapsing around you."

The gang-lord of the Yellobouros calmly takes a Conservative Draw himself, showing little reaction to Savalos' dramatic act, making it a certainty to Wardja that this was no revelation to the old snake.

Thumbing the cards disdainfully, he looks directly at Savalos and folds.

"You should not allow yourself to be so easily read."

"I'll have you know, pup, I'm still holding the deck, and there is nothing that I fear, as my hands are already dip't in gold."

He holds aloft his gleaming, inordinately strong augmetic hand to drive home the pointed reference to the one-time fate of those found with the proscribed Heretic's Wake decks.

Intelligencer Leprade swallows once, and declines any additional cards, standing pat. Conspicuously silent.

Savalos Thul wrote:
"We are enemies you and I. Nothing is going to change that. Just who we are. Ying and Yang as they say. But there is a level of respect between us. So know this my honored enemy. Before I am done with him. I will let you have your turn."

Savalos' softly-spoken words can only be heard by the Changeling with Lady Cinzia's chair pulled away from the table now, but the Dowager-Marcheza seems as surprised at the unexpected revelation as the rest of the audience, despite her one-time marriage to the enigma that is Desius Krade.

As the opportunity to raise is declined by Tor, possessing no remaining chips, Savalos makes his raise. When the dealer turns to the Changeling, the thing inhabiting Thul's friend and fellow-acolyte smiles, folding his hand.

It answers just loud enough for Savalos to hear it clearly, the unsettling grin that is not in any way Rico's still forced upon his face.

"Do not worry, when this house of cards falls, there will be time enough for everyone."

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #5:

First Player: Keramiah Tor

Current Stakes: 109

Gambling Skill Results:

  • Keramiah Tor: Unknown strength of hand.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Folded
  • Wardja: 57, failure by 1 degree. Folded.
  • Savalos: 12, success by 3 degrees, Conservative Draw, now success by 4 degrees
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Folded.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Folded.
  • Intelligencer Leprade: Unknown strength of hand.

Remaining Chips:

  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 148
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 171
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 0
  • Keramiah Tor: 0
  • Jeremiah Blitz: 222
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Wardja: 31
  • Savalos: 219

Savalos has a final raise of 20 to the remaining players, this folded Trizo and the Changeling, however Leprade and Keramiah Tor have no chips remaining, so no further can be ante'd.

I'll resolve the round after everyone has a chance to respond or make final skill checks related to the game.


Male Human Savant Militant (Rank 4)

I look at Tikeen, "Now things are going to be truly interesting. The masks are coming off and sides are being chosen."


Male Human Outlaw

The Daemon's words ring true. Which I find unsettling as I know it is talking on a greater scheme than Trizo's little empire. the Hive? Oremor? the entire sector? Who knows what it has foreseen. By the Throne I hope we can stop it.

Looking in my hand I see the cards still talk to me, and accept them for what they are worth.

I wonder how many cross hairs are now pointed at my back. Likewise I hope by these revelations I have made allies I can count on. Maybe unseen ones now taking action in the crowd. If I am wrong I won't make it out of this pleasure palace alive.

One thing is for sure Leprade isn't sitting so comfortable. I am sure he has read all the report of Yellobacks dead in the streets. Corrupt Arbites dying by my order by Iacton and Sigmuts hand. But he I am sure he also read the reports of what happened in Aebena's hab block. The the Yello's butchered there. He knows full well what is capable of that carnage. What sits next to him. Even if the Daemon decides to stay loyal for now. I planted the seed, and I am betting Leprade is going to be the first to crack. The first card to fall.

I ignore Trizo for now. Everything comes down to the fall of the cards, but more importantly how the long game now plays out around and beyond the card table.


Arbite Investigator

Continuing to track any potential interplay between Trizo and the abomination. Scanning the crowd for anything out of the ordinary. Keeping an eye out for Beij as well.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Uriah Trantor wrote:
I look at Tikeen, "Now things are going to be truly interesting. The masks are coming off and sides are being chosen."

Tikeen shakes her head in disbelief along with the rest of the balcony audience as Savalos doffs his wig.

"You friend does have a certain reckless confidence, I will give him that."

Uriah and Wardja scan the mezzanine level and the main floor below for any signs that this revelation has changed the behavior or disposition of the security contingents attached to the various factions below.

Awareness tests please, Uriah, Wardja.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

Once again, a hush has fallen over the Tournament's spectators, and the dealer motions for the players to reveal their cards in turn, beginning with Keramiah Tor.

The Hollow Priest barely makes an effort, turning over his cards with his withered, yellow-nailed fingers while seated as rigidly as when he began the contest.

The hand is a good one, a Lesser Array led by The Pariah, but it is not enough to best what Savalos finds himself holding.

When Savalos reveals his own hand the assembled audience begins to whisper in excitement amongst themselves again, pict-screen's throughout the Pinnacle of Pearl flashing the fan of cards while the accompanying text states that this most recent Greater Array has now set the record for most in the history of the Tournament. That with possibly four more hands to play!

Keramiah Tor scarcely acknowledges his own elimination, never looking once at Savalos to concede defeat or even show the faintest hint of emotion. The strange priest simply pushes his chair slightly away from the table and begins to obsessively shuffle the midnight blue deck of cards the acolytes observed him with earlier. His hooded gaze then falls upon the Changeling and his eyes do not leave the creature masquerading in Juan Rico's body as the dealer gestures for Leprade to reveal his hand.

The announcer for the Heretic's Wake Tournament continues to blather on over his vox-hailer in the background, his excitement matching the crowds own enthusiasm, but Thul has eyes only for the sole remaining player standing between him and what could be a back-breaking victory against his remaining competition.

The flicker of relief that passes over Leprade's eyes is followed by a taunting smile, whip-thin and quick, but it tells Thul all he needs to know before the cards are even revealed.

The corrupted Intelligencer's own Greater Array has saved him from elimination, with the The Conspirator and The Heretic just barely beating Savalos' own cards on strength of hand.

The crowd erupts in resounding applause, punctuating what has turned out to be a breathtakingly exciting round prior to the scheduled intermission. Leprade gathers the chips to himself, now the entirety of his stack, after they are raked over by the dealer, and the cards are then collected.

Trizo dol Soulard inclines his head ever so slightly to the side, lips pursed in smug satisfaction at Savalos' abrupt reversal, saying nothing, while his eyes speak volumes.

The game has changed.

Again.

Heretic's Wake Tournament Round #5 Final Results:

First Player: Keramiah Tor

Current Stakes: 109

Gambling Skill Results:

  • Keramiah Tor: 55, straight failure, Aggressive Draw, 9, three degrees of success.
  • Jeremiah Blitz: Folded
  • Wardja: 57, failure by 1 degree. Folded.
  • Savalos: 12, success by 3 degrees, Conservative Draw, now success by 4 degrees.
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: Folded.
  • Trizo dol Soulard: Folded.
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 7, success by 4 degrees.

Remaining Chips:

  • Lady Cinzia: Eliminated
  • Johnnie/The Changeling: 148
  • Trizo dol Soulard: 171
  • Intelligencer Leprade: 109
  • Keramiah Tor: Eliminated
  • Jeremiah Blitz: 222
  • Jashar Dol Geim: Eliminated
  • Wardja: 31
  • Savalos: 219

Winner: Intelligencer Leprade

I will allow any reactions, dialogue and skill tests prior to moving forward with the Intermission that you require, just post below.


Male Human Savant Militant (Rank 4)

Awareness(55) = 1d100 ⇒ 93 spend fate point
reroll = 1d100 ⇒ 4
Made it 5 degrees.


Somewhere Dark

With a shuddering of the plated flooring and a final, straining, squeal of overtaxed lift conveyors, Kaltos, Ivaanov, and Private Kotts feel their bell-shaped prison come to a halt, the already dim lights flickering with the arrested ascent.

As they watch, a pale, red rune begins to glow over one of the sealed doorways leading out of the holding area.


"Well it looks like our wait is finished." I look to my 2 companions in arms. "We will have to work together, with Ivaanov not able to speak..." I look to the Private " We will need to keep an eye on him if we are fighting a group. May the Emperor and the Messiah look over us and provide us strength and intellect to over come our foes."


Arbite Investigator

As the crowd gasps and claps I try to see past the immediate game before me. There is something much, much bigger going on.

Awareness 50, 1d100 ⇒ 2


Unduz II, Oremor 7th Legion Penal Claustrum, Designate Ylesium, Plantation 7, Husbandry Barn Cluster 177, Drainage Culvert 4M

Vincent stares down the guardsman, not giving an inch.

"Perhaps you should ask yourself the same question. Ignorance is a virtue for a reason. I give you that answer you cannot unhear it."


Male Human Outlaw

Seeing Leprades winning hand drop to the table I actually laugh out loud. While it would have been nice to win that round in reality it meant nothing. Not my money, or my chips sliding over to the other side. Just a loan to the loyal Arbites from the front of the house. I accomplished what I wanted to and wrote those chips off before I picked up my first card. Bought more time for Dunkan to save the others. Hopefully it was enough. Got what I needed out of Trizo. My only goals for the night is to make it out of hear alive, and in the process to keep irritating the man.

"Well played Leprade."

I hope my attitude makes it clear that I don't give a slime rat's tail who won the last round. Or any round for that matter.

Glad that my Father's Scerrido is on me. Now that the round is over and the next intermission is starting. I have to be the most alert. At the table I was safe. Many a time I have watched people get dropped by a hidden blade in a crowd.

Awareness (1d100=47)

Now that card game is over. The real game begins. Will be interesting to see if I get approached, or if the assorted crowd has already marked me as a dead man.

Then the brief exchange words from the Changeling hit me.

Do not worry, when this house of cards falls, there will be time enough for everyone.

My laughter breaks into a warm and confident smile. I still have a few cards left to play.

Rook

Spoiler:
Will try to get you a write up in the next few days. Have a lot I need to flesh out for Sav's reasoning.


The Gran Pallazzar Casino, The Pinnacle of Pearl

As Wardja and Savalos rise with the other players from the table, the tension in their bodies does not subside in the slightest. Far from it. Intelligencer Leprade and Trizo dol Soulard retire from their side of the table as well, but neither takes their eyes from the acolytes as they move into the protection of their respective entourages of bodyguards. The pair begin to move with their groups over to the roped-off circumference of the Vermillion Ring's fighting pit.

Uriah:

Uriah Awareness test successful by five degrees.

One success:

From above, it is obvious to Uriah that Leprade and Trizo's bodyguards are on a higher alert, the corrupted arbitrators mouthing words into their own microbeads, while surveying the casino floor with attention now to one and all. The brutish Yellobouros thugs keep a tight circle about their gang-lord and his pet witch as well, their natural belligerence keeping the Upspire folk at a distance by itself.

Two successes:

Uriah also notices that one of Leprade's enforcers breaks off from the group and moves to better position himself at the top of the sole entry and egress to the Pinnacle of Pearl, the massive nautoloid-shaped spiral stairwell in the center of the casino floor.

Three successes:

Keeping his attention on the movements of the various security contingents on both sides, the psyker notes that it appears that Jashar dol Geim is receiving discreet medical attention from Gran Pallazzar staff, who even now place a clear plastic oxygen rebreather over the mans ruddy face. His pudgy hands rest across his expansive midsection as he reclines uncomfortably on his spacious sedan chair near the tournament table.

Four successes:

The rogue trader, Blitz, moves off from the table as well, not toward the fighting pit, but instead to his retinue, consulting with the armsmen and speaking in hushed tones to the leader of his own bodyguards. The psyker sees the man surreptitiously pass something to his captain.

Five successes:

It is as Uriah's eyes move away from this scene that they detect a faint flicker from somewhere far above on the nacreous-hued ceiling of the casino. Where once there was nothing at the very pinnacle of the pearlescent chamber, there now floats a single white taper, far out of reach, suspended in mid-air by some unseen force. The light of the candle dances and twists in disconcertingly rainbow colored hues, like the sheen of an oil-slick suspended in the fractal dreams of a madman.

Wardja:

Wardja, Awareness test successful by four degrees.

One success:

It is clear to Wardja that their cover is largely blown. Leprade and Trizo's bodyguards are on alert, the corrupted arbitrators mouthing words into their microbeads while the Yellobouros thugs keep in close proximity to their gang-lord. He watches to make sure his own agents are in place should anything unforeseen arise between now and when the game begins anew, and wonders how Dunkan and Gereos are making out with freeing their allies below.

Two successes:

He also notes that one of Leprade's corrupted arbitrators breaks off from the phalanx walking over to the fighting pit, moving to position himself at the top of the sole entry and egress to the Pinnacle of Pearl, the steep spiral stairwell in the center of the casino floor.

Three successes:

He observes that Keramiah Tor does not rise from his seat at the edge of the Tournament table, but instead proceeds to shuffle the midnight blue deck of Heretic's Wake placards in his hands with deft alacrity. His lips moving, and muttering in time to the impossibly agile ministrations of his fingers on the playing cards.

Four successes:

Jeremiah Blitz converses with his own security detail, and something passes from one of his armsmen to him in a subtle sleight of hand that only the most paranoid would note.

Savalos:

Awareness test failed by one point.

Too preoccupied to note anything more than his immediate surroundings, Savalos finds his attention drawn to a slight, nondescript man clad in the dark mauve jumpsuit of the Gran Pallazzar's maintenance staff standing by himself at the perimeter of the room. He looks back in Thul's general direction, eyes concealed by mirrored glasses, one hand leaning casually on a hand sweeper. Seeming to sense Savalos looking back it him, but never drawing attention to himself, he moves forward a few paces, his limp pronounced despite his easy grace. Sigmunt Vendangio allows himself a small smile to signify that he knows that Savalos has seen him, and then proceeds to clean up some of the litter discarded by the wealthy elite.

As Savalos walks toward the fighting pit, Dowager-Marcheza Cinzia dol Vingere moves to intercept him, flanked more closely than ever now by her own subtly dressed bodyguards. She strokes the eager head of her small lap-pet distractedly, her face pursed in an expression that is part vexation and part curiosity. She hands the small creature off to one of her affable security detail when it persists in its affections, and straightening her violet gown, she tugs upon Savalos' sleeve.

"What game do you play at then? More than just cards it seems! Who are you really? I am nearly certain you are a Dawnstar by your familial resemblance to that line, but what troubles me more is that I had sensed when I showed you the Marchez, my late husband's picture, you clearly recognized him, almost as if he were a contemporary. Enough with this masquerade, who are you?"

As she says these things to Savalos, the Gran Pallazzar's most senior gaming concierge again speaks from atop the low podium adjacent to the tournament table. His richly-accented, slightly lisping voice proclaims triumphantly for all to hear through the brass laudhailer,

"Gentlemen, ladies, and guests of the Pinnacle of Pearl, one and all, we hope that the first five rounds of this season's Tournament of Cassilda has exceeded your loftiest expectations of entertainment and intrigue. We at the Gran Pallazzar again thank you all for your august patronage, and direct you to the libations and delicacies available during our Intermission."

He takes a theatrical pauses after gesturing at the various hospitality staff on hand, and their assorted beverage and dining stations.

"Now, as promised, we present the second of our featured bouts, a grand spectacle bringing the excitement and gladiatorial majesty of the Vermillion Ring direct to you once again!"

The velvet-rope cordoned circle surrounding the gladiatorial pit begins to grow crowded, the guests jockeying for position now that they know what to expect. With a sibilant hiss, the seven-meter in diameter disk begins to slide away into the floor once again, revealing the darkened shaft below. Dull red lights blink on from two sides of the pit.

"The Gran Pallazzar is proud to again present to you one of the finest bloodsport combatants of the Sector Calixis, pitted in glorious battle against three unrepentant heretics and recidivists of the foulest ilk! I give to you, once again, Dohor the HAR-VEST-ERRRR!!!"

More raucous applause reverberates through the casino drowning out any other sound for a several seconds until one of the doors slowly grinds open below.

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