Ever since facing down the Rak’Gol on Egaria Omega, Sigmund felt like he had been living in a fugue state, without his usual sense of purpose, devotion or commanding presence.
That has changed – when the mono-edged daggers of a mysterious assassin flashed out of a dark alleyway in the habs of Footfall, Sigmund realised he wanted to live. Ducking out of the way, he grabbed his chainsword from his belt and thumbed the ignition. Her surprise gone, the assassin warily watched for an opening. Seeing Sigmund’s practiced stance, she knew it wouldn’t come unless she made it: she threw one of the knives and charged, following the blade to her target. Sigmund stood his ground, taking the flying blade into his arm and swinging his chainsword in an arc of death. Blood sprayed and the chainsword bucked as his assailant was stopped with her dagger a handsbreadth from his heart.
Yes, he was ready to live again. But first he needed to stop those who wanted him dead…
Looking over the “obvious clue” of the hab key, and ignoring the other clues, Sigmund and a rag tag band of volunteer pilgrims located the hab-dwelling of his would-be assassin. Searching the home, they located a sniper rifle and some evidence of the assassin’s life: her name “Jalla Tyroth”, her workplace at the “Dull Grox Saloon” and a church group to which she belonged. They also took a moment to interrogate a “curtain twitcher” and to steal all of the Assassin’s clothing.
Heading out to the Drunken Grox, the pilgrims went to question the barmen. Their attempts did not go down well, as they haphazardly revealed Jalla’s recent death while the barman noticed that Orla was now wearing Jalla’s clothing. The barkeep, backed up by the stocky doorman, told them to leave but was willing to share the location of Jalla’s church group, provided they don’t ever come back to the Dull Grox.
Arriving just in time for evening service, the pilgrims decided to see what the sermons would be like at such a place. Meeting the Pastor on the way in, and taking a seat at the back, they soon found the room filled with congregants. Following the sermon, the Pastor spoke of Jalla’s unfortunate murder on the streets of Footfall, and he also made the request that the study group remain behind for a private discussion. After a tense exit from the meeting hall, the pilgrims waited outside, with Sigmund and Roth circling around the building, and Trix finding herself rudely ejected face-first.
Following the service, the pilgrims watched as people began to leave, including the Pastor and his bodyguards heading down to a warehouse beneath the Chapel and collecting two robe-swaddled figures which he lead via a chain leash. Following inexpertly at a distance, the pilgrims began to realise that they were also being followed.
Sigmund moved up to confront the Pastor, and after a short and tense conversation, the Pastor was uninterested in further discussion, telling Sigmund that if he is interested he should attend service tomorrow. Sigmund, looking over the pilgrims, backed down… for now. To sate his righteous fury, the pilgrims cornered the pursuers in a nearby alleyway, where Sigmund quickly burned one. The pilgrims attempted to take the other alive, escaping miraculously unharmed (well, Roth took a bullet to the arm) from two point blank full-auto bursts. Knocking the man’s autogun from his arms caused him to reappraise his situation, draw a stubgun, and blow his own brains out.
Heading back to the warehouse-chapel, the pilgrims ransacked the place. Blowing in the door using Roth’s shotgun, they searched the warehouse, finding an odd selection of mechanical tools, and a room that appeared to be a makeshift surgery. Smashing a window to get in upstairs, they inexpertly hacked into a cogitator using rusty tech skills, and expertly hacked into a safe using a chainsword. They found records indicating that the church leader was watching visiting Rogue Traders and their key personnel quite closely, was having various things delivered to the warehouse downstairs, and was expecting an important visit at some point in the next 6 months. In the safe they found some ready cash, a small weapon, and a piece of paper with the words “Damnatus”, “Purifactur” and “Vandire”.
Through a discussion, they managed to deduce that these people were possibly misguided Imperials, worshipping the Temple of the Saviour Emperor. Believing themselves to be “the True”, they wished to sweep away the last 4,000 years the Ecclessiarchy. It seemed that here on Footfall, where they could worship more freely, they have been attempting to kill passing missionaries and preachers, perhaps to ensure that the only faith that spreads in the Expanse is their vision.
Having deduced that these people were clearly heretics and schismatics, the pilgrims agreed that they needed to make their desecration of this chapel complete. The the pilgrims quickly returned to the corpses in the alley, and pinned them up outside the building, a warning to all.
Heading back to the pilgrim habs for a quick rest, they decided to return to the warehouse-chapel to lay in ambush. Taking catnaps during the day, they managed to stave off exhaustion.
Eventually, they spotted the approach of the Pastor, his two bodyguards, and the two shambling figures led via chains. The pilgrims lay, hidden and waiting in the meeting hall, while they heard the group search the warehouse downstairs. Sigmund took his place, behind the alter, ready to finally consecrate this chapel… with fire.
The group came upstairs, led by a burly bodyguard, and opened the door to the meeting hall.
“Finally come to convert?” asked the Pastor
“Convert you and all your followers to dust and ash”, replied Sigmund.
“Perhaps I should introduce you to our latest converts, Brother Gideon and Missionary Alvarez”
Seeing that Sigmund could not be broken, the Pastor uttered the activation words: “Damnatus!”, he cried out, “Purifactur!”. Suddenly, the two robed figures burst out of their concealing clothes, revealing their true nature:
Arco-Flagellants. An Arco-flagellant is usually a heretic deemed worthy of redemption, a method used to punish any heresy not terrible enough to warrant immediate execution. In arco-flagellation, the heretic undergoes extensive physical surgery and mental reconditioning, turning them into frenzied berserkers. The Arco-flagellant is fitted with a sealed pacifier helm containing implants that connect into the cerebrum and spinal cord, which keeps them in a calm, barely conscious state. When in this mode the Arco-flagellant’s mind is filled with sacred images and verses which enter directly into the heretic’s subconscious. The helm can be deactivated by means of a trigger word, releasing inhibitors and unleashing the full fury of the Arco-flagellant…
Witnessing what had happened to other people who had kept to their Imperial faith, and fearing the sheer killing power of these once-men, Roth quaked in his boots, Trix froze solid, and Orla broke and ran into the next room.
“Brother Gideon” charged across the room, reaching Sigmund at the altar almost instantly, and not suffering much from the shotgun blast to the side delivered by Roth. Gideon immediately began whipping his electro-flails and tearing apart the altar removing Sigmund’s cover. Blessed by the fates to act quickly, Sigmund unleashed a burst of flaming fury. While Gideon dodged out of the way, there was no escape for the others. The Pastor’s two bodyguards were aflame, and unable to do anything but claw at their flesh trying to douse the flames. Missionary Alvarez charged forward, on fire but seemingly not suffering for it, the combat drugs doing their work. Pastor Lothar has managed to avoid the worst of the flamer’s attack, hiding behind his bodyguard, and quickly ducked into his office. Over the next moments, Roth and Leman downed Alvarez with concentrated shotgun fire, while Sigmund and Trix attempted to fend off Gideon.
Roth took Alvarez’s whirling chainsword-arm to the chest, cutting a great rent in the armour, and churning up the flesh below, before the creature finally burned to death.
Orla, meanwhile, had pursued the Pastor into his office, driven by equal amounts of fear and loathing. Confronting him there, he pulled a compact laspistol and attempted to kill her – missing with two shots. Orla opened up with her stub-automatic that she had stolen earlier, hitting the Pastor in the leg, two in the chest and her final shot blowing off his lower arm. He slumped dead over his desk.
In the meeting hall, the battle to down Gideon was becoming desperate. Grazing Trix’s face, the electric spark stunned her, and she dropped to the floor. Gideon rounded on Roth, who had come up to support but had found his club ineffective against the creature. Flicking it’s razor sharp metal fingers, it impaled Roth through the neck, the crackling electricity burning his face. He fell to the ground, near death. Sigmund stood alone against the creature, but for every blow he dodged or parried it was able to strike at him twice more. Leman proved to be the man of the hour – hastily unslinging the hunting rifle that they had taken from Jalla’s apartment, he fired, not able to take time to aim. The Emperor must have blessed his shot, for it was carried, righteous and true, into some vital components of the beast that was once a man. It fell to the ground, dead.