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 Jud continues

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Number of posts : 773
Registration date : 2007-04-26

Jud continues Empty
PostSubject: Jud continues   Jud continues EmptyWed 24 Apr - 8:34:00

Jud continues
So whilst we contemplate the likelihood of treachery on the part of Captain Swine and Colonel Sanders (100% according to the unpleasant Vizral), we plan the expedition to seek out the raiders in their den, destroy their infernal ship and rescue their prisoners. Our cannon fodder, sorry the gallant levies and handful of elite guards, will undertake a march of many days to reach the objective, whilst we bravely go on ahead in our partially air conditioned hover vehicle, cunningly steered by my own fair hand (or hands when Manny starts looking out the window through his fingers and babbling prayers of safe passage to Kobe).

Anyway, before we set off on our completely safe journey, Belrond and Manny stock us up a little on provisions for the trip and look for someone who we can use to set up the chimeras. These we intend to use to spy out the situation before blundering in like we usually do.* We find one John Michael, and attracted by the pope-ish name Manny immediately hires him.

*But see later on before you congratulate us on our prudent caution too much

We visit the Ducal spymaster Long John, sorry John Long who agrees to finance JM as our video consultant at 100 a day (we’re in the wrong business clearly). He also offers a couple of scouts although turns out when they turn up that they are woggle and badge free. Vizral meanwhile sloped off somewhere and whilst I always like to see the best in people, I tend to find myself re classifying Vizral as something other than people. I happened to notice that he picked up a slight injury overnight and seemed a little richer than he had the previous day when he had grumbled about his meagre contribution to the provisions pot, in fact he even had to be subbed by Manny.

He definitely had more money in the morning than he had the day before, and I happened to hear of a gruesome murder overnight. The militia theorised a local man with his throat ripped out and his sexual equipment relocated to his mouth, was probably a statement by a local pimp about what happens if you mistreat his girls, at least that’s the theory doing the rounds. Classic misdirection I call it. When I asked Vizral about his injury he just gave me that look he does and in his raspy whisper said ‘Just a nick shaving love.’

John Michael turns up when we are ready for the off wearing body armour and casts a critical eye over our stash of tech. He clearly seems to know his stuff which is encouraging. During the first days travel Vizral proves a surprisingly quick study on the gear and John says he is good to set up the system. Belrond… not so much, as he says he’s more photographee than photographer. (Yeah right)
We camp some 50 miles from Mudflats and the night passes without incident. Until that is, Vizral, on guard wakes us. He claims he can hear whispering and then we realise the scout on guard duty is missing. I look carefully at Vizral to see if he has cut himself shaving again, but he seems genuine enough. I think.

A couple of others can hear the whispering too which is the only reason I don’t think Vizral has something to do with the disappearance of the other guard. Belrond, or Bellend as Vizral continually refers to him, says the voices are off world languages, maybe telepathy of some sort? The same sort that hypnotises victims taken by the slavers? Are we under attack? How could they have found us in the middle of nowhere? Is it just some generally broadcast thoughts we are picking up?

Checking around the campsite we pick up the trail of the scout who has wandered off it seems – no other tracks. The ‘lured away by our psychic nemesis’ theory rapidly gains credence. I remain with JM in the vehicle or pope-mobile as we now call it whilst the rest follow the trail. On the theory that I now present a tempting target for the opposition and a moving target is harder to hit, I drive off back the way we came with as skilful a piece of flying without lights as you would care to see, or would see if I had switched the lights on.

Vizral, using my night vision goggles meanwhile leads the team to a clearing where they find the missing scout, hung and nailed to a tree with a sign round his neck. Vizral unsurprisingly cannot read, but Bellend, sorry Belrond reads the offworld script: ‘Smiert Spion’ which apparently means ‘Death to Spies.’*

*With thanks to the estate of Ian Fleming

When I circle back to pick up the group this causes universal concern. (I may be overstating this of course as very little of the universe is aware of this situation, and part of it that is was very happy having created said situation). That Pr*&X@*k Vizral tries it on about returning my night vision goggles. He’s going to wake up dead someday if he tries anything else on me. More pressing concerns though – the whispers are still going.

Manny tries to read Vizral’s mind in some sort of religious mind melding technique but he can’t get through Vizral’s thick skull, probably just as well, who knows what’s going on in there? We move on and after a few hours the whispers end as suddenly as they started, which to those who could hear them seems just as unnerving, and several are left complaining of headaches.

We camp on a small plateau where I park expertly. We are in the foothills of the mountains, probably eighty miles short of our destination. We have been thinking about how we might be being tracked and JM carries out a thorough search of the vehicle, looking for transmitting devices that could apparently send our exact location to the enemy. He finds nothing but that’s no guarantee that we’re clean. He also tells us there are detection beams that can show our position to the enemy with echoes, but he thinks it less likely that is being used because we fly very low.

Vizral and Manny are on watch when our next incident occurs. Sadly it’s not the disappearance of Vizral, but the Reverend starts hearing shrill shrieks off in the distance. Eventually Vizral hears them too and they wake the rest of the passengers. Using my non lendable night vision goggles I pick out a giant humanoid maybe a thousand metres away.
We saddle up for a quick getaway, I estimate it is 15’ tall and it appears skeletal, but as I get a better view it seems to be more of an exoskeleton. Oh and did I mention the wings? Yep it’s flying. JM recognises it as something he has encountered in space. We are increasingly nervous but then suddenly without ever noticing us with another of its characteristic piercing shrieks, it flies off south rapidly. Guess which way we are headed? Absolutely right.

Now the Rev has been in touch occasionally with the Spymaster and he receives a startling message: Our target spacecraft is under attack and lifting off. Under attack from ‘something big’? Are you thinking what we were thinking? Then you are also correct. As a (slightly suspicious) aside, nice to know that the spymaster is monitoring the site, just as well we didn’t bother to bring out a lot of surveillance equipment so that we could know what was going on. Oh, wait…

We head south at speed hoping to catch the show and either use the battle as a distraction to rescue slaves, pick over the bones of the battlefield after both sides have destroyed each other, or attack the victor whilst they are weakened and licking their wounds. As we near the action at full speed we can see the ship trying to gain height, slightly impaired by the attached skeletal angel we witnessed earlier. Flashes of laser fire and explosions light up the sky and it’s unclear who has the upper hand.

We can see the slavers’ compound buzzing with activity on the ground, and I kill our running lights. As we approach there is a larger flash from the duel in the sky: some kind of heavy energy weapon fired out of the ship, possibly through one of the many burning holes in its fuselage, does serious damage to the unwanted passenger, which plummets some thousands of feet to the forest below. Dead? Maybe.

The ship continues to climb, and burn. Is it on autopilot? Maybe. Is it spaceworthy? Maybe. Is it coming back? Well, you know the answer by now. We are focussed on the compound. We can see around a dozen slavers running about the place, there is panic on the ground and some of the buildings are burning or damaged or both, it looks like the ship lifted off leaving behind anyone not quick enough to scuttle aboard.

There are three rows of cages, two clearly full of slaves, one row shrouded for some reason. There are three currently unoccupied gun platforms atop low towers at three corners of the compound. Each one mounts heavy machine guns on swivels, enough to mow down any attackers or escapers as the situation requires.

We quickly hatch a plan: I will drop Vizral and a scout on one platform, covered by the evident panic and confusion currently reigning in the compound, whilst the still climbing ship provides a handy diversion for any hostile eyes. Interestingly at this point Vizral revealed a little something he had kept dark: He can teleport. Astonishingly Belrond, sorry Bellend then announced that he too could do that. Small world.

So after I dropped the first two off, I gunned it and got to the second tower as quickly as I could, landed and then got teleported by Bellend to the gun emplacement. All was going well as we seemed undetected. The rest of the team disembarked whilst I checked over the ammo belt and cleared the breech of the machine gun with a satisfying kerching. I could just see movement with my goggles on the other tower, the signal to fire would be mine as the first team had already had a minute to get set up.

My heart felt like it was in my mouth (hopefully not a teleport malfunction) as I did a final check and picked my targets. Bellend stood ready to watch my back if anyone tried to storm the tower whilst I concentrated on the compound. Out of the corner of my eye I could see the Reverend sneaking along the fence ready to start opening the cages. I depressed the trigger and half a second later Vizral did too. We hosed the courtyard from both ends with suppressing fire that left no cover for the luckless warders.

It was all over in seconds and moments later the slaves were swarming through the compound, some gathering round the Reverend for his blessing, others kicking the corpses of their former captors or stripping their bodies of weapons and gear. Most of the prisoners were from Mudflats and we found eight of the town militia who had disappeared under our command. Not all was sweetness and light though; some grumbled at the time it had taken the Baron to send rescue and one guy was unhappy when the Rev tried to appoint the militiamen we had liberated as team leaders, in fact the Rev’s oratory was a bit of a let-down after that heroic assault.

The covered cages contained several of the demonic angels complete with wings and razor sharp talons, the only difference being they were miniature versions and angrily alive. We left them locked up, concerned that Mommy might be back for them. We headed out from the compound, the burning ship now a speck overhead, still apparently set on leaving the atmosphere, but we didn’t want to wait to see if it came back. The scout took some men ahead to look for food and water. The good news was that the big beastie had fallen to the south and we were now headed north.

There were some 80 freed slaves with us, mostly men, but some women and children too so quite a crowd to marshal, but we were still in touch with the spymaster (hopefully our friend) so with any luck we will meet up with the relief column in a few days. Even as we begin to feel we are clear of the danger zone a setback: We lose the scout.

Now some cynics* amongst us are very suspicious; the hunters report that the scout has been swept away trying to swim a river. We are slightly concerned that one of the hunters is proficient with the comlink, and that they return with his pack but not his weapon. (Almost as if they have robbed him and are keeping the weapon hidden from us.) They also bring back some wild boar which is better news, but I search unsuccessfully for the scout downstream, be real nice to find a non-murdered body to set certain minds at rest.

*OK you got me, Vizral

But after all why would they kill him? Unless one or more are slavers in disguise. We’re just paranoid I think, after all one or more couldn’t be ringers, the rest of the slaves would know and it would take a real powerful psyker* to control so many minds.

* Like the one we suspect we are dealing with

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