Lost in the Labyrinth
We followed an Eldar star map to the hive world of Solace. The details are strangely fuzzy but things clear up at some point while we’re lost in some kind of labyrinth. It’s odd…it’s as though my consciousness was gone and yet my physical body remained with my crew mates.
Regardless, we found ourselves lost in a labyrinth. Our astropath Brother Lazarus Krinch was able to determine that this structure was built by some ancient race called the Necrons. Following Divis we searched for a way out when we stumbled upon someone. Guns drawn, we encountered a missionary by the name of Brother Maleo. It seems he was exploring a temple on some other planet, discovered a set of ancient tunnels and as far as we can tell, he was teleported to the same structure we found ourselves in. I’m not sure what to make of him as I know nothing of his faith and beliefs. For now, I’ll be keeping my eye on this Maleo character. I don’t yet trust him.
As we explored further within this labyrinth, we eventually came across a massive chamber filled with ramps going in all directions, including up and down. Scattered throughout this chamber were structures of various geometric shapes that the ramps led to. The seneschal scouted ahead and from a distance back, the main party followed. Eventually, we caught up to the seneschal as he begans climbing up one of the geometric structures. We couldn’t quite fathom why he began doing so. Since these structures were all around us, above and below, we could look down onto the roofs of these structures and didn’t seen anything out of the ordinary. It seemed to me that climbing to the top of one of these structures wouldn’t provide any new information.
Regardless, we stood at the base of the structure and watched as the senschal proceeded to climb up the relatively smooth, slick exterior. He actually did a pretty good job scrambling up the wall. I was impressed. Down on the ground, we started taking bets on how far up he’d get. But about halfway up the wall, I think he realized continuing was a bad idea because he started to climb down. A little bit into his climb down, he lost his grip, slipped, scrambled to find some kind of handhold but failed. He fell quite a ways and once he hit the ground, it looked pretty bad. He was lucky though…somehow Brother Maleo managed to patch him together enough that he could get back on his feet and keep moving. It was somewhat miraculous and perhaps there is something to this Brother Maleo after all.
As Brother Maleo attended to the seneschal, Divis worked on finding a way to open an entrance into structure itself. After a bit of examination and testing, he discovered that certain hand motions did the trick, granting us access to the interior of these rooms. On the inside, we saw an armory. It. Was. Beautiful. My first inclination was to take one the hundreds of guns racked up on the wall. I could also see Divis’ interest was piqued – he called them gauss guns. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Brother Maleo’s reaction was the opposite. He wanted to destroy it all. What I called beautiful art, he called heresy. The Lord Commodore, however, advised us all against touching anything. As much as it pained me and the missionary both, we left without touching a thing.
Outside, we saw some kind of airboat appear and dock with one of the structures. We could vaguely make out some movement but did not have a good view. Eventually the airboat undocked and descended into the depths below us. We saw as it descended past us that the airboat was loaded with a large number of robotic soldiers. So those are Necrons. They hadn’t seemed to notice or react to us. We concluded the structure the airboat was docked to was either some kind of barracks or perhaps a teleportation nexus. Either way, with Necron soldiers coming in and out of that structure, we decided to avoid all similarly shaped buildings for now.
We moved on. Divis was able to determine with his auspex that down below was a power source, possibly the power source that keeps this entire place, whatever it is, running. On our way down, we came across another structure with a shape different to the previous ones we observed and decided to investigate. Divis opened it up and we headed in. This time, we came across an entity that didn’t ignore us and actually responded to our presence.
Debates With a Xeno?
I’m a man not much good with words. As words often fail me, I prefer to communicate with my actions. And typically, the actions I find myself taking most often is drawing a pistol and pulling a trigger. The Lord Commodore tends to talk a bit more with fancy words and flowery language. Moreover, he often uses words that defy comprehension. But this new missionary we’ve met…he is a new species unto himself. God-Emperor help me, the way Brother Maleo goes on makes the Lord Commodore look like a deaf and dumb orc who can do nothing but suck on his own thumb all day long.
Inside the chamber, we came across a massive beast. Imagine a long multi-limbed centipede but with each leg ending in a claw, mouth full of razor sharp teeth, the entire thing large enough to take up an entire ship bridge. Now imagine this beast made of metal – more machine than flesh. In a flash, I tactically sized up this monstrosity and it was clear it possessed many offensive strengths and few defensive weaknesses. As with the tyranids on the Mortis Thule, we were outclassed…we are not prepared. Nevertheless, may arms twitched, ready to draw upon my meager weaponry and open fire as this Necron beast slithered up from behind some cover to observe us and stared us down with it’s red, glowing mechanical eyes. It appeared ready to strike at us and I was determined NOT to go down this day without a fight.
And then it happened. Brother Maleo opened fire with his greatest weapon – his mouth.
I cannot begin to repeat what was stated, but it was a sight to behold. That missionary launched into an oratory the likes of which I had never witnessed. “You inferior heretical being! You have no right living! Humans and the God Emperor himself are the only true lifeforms that deserve to exist! You Necrons as well as ALL other forms of life in this universe shall BOW DOWN to humanity! You believe you’re a threat to us? You poor, delusional mole-rat! If you cling on to your silly, naive notions of superiority over US, you shall BURN in FLAMES and if you’re LUCKY, you’ll barely live long enough to see the truth and perhaps feel a tinge of regret for your heretical thoughts!” And so on.
The tirade was actually quite impressive and I find myself surprised that Brother Maleo managed to avoid using too many expletives. It seems this Necron lord was amused as well. Once Brother Maleo opened fire with his words, the Necron lord seemed to become amused. I could see it’s body relax from its previously stiffened posture, letting its guard down somewhat. If I didn’t know better, I would almost guess that it was even laughing inside at Brother Maleo.
And so the creature responded, arguing with Brother Maleo, stating that it, as a Necron Lord, could destroy Brother Maleo in the wink of an eye. Stating that all the technology we observed during our jaunt prior to entering this particular chamber, if fully mobilized would wipe out humanity more easily than the effort it would take for us to step on an ant.
Well, Brother Maleo didn’t like the retort at all and pretty much proceeded to repeat his opening diatribe with a few additional words and expletives added in, but mostly at a greater volume than before. Right. That would surely work, Brother Maleo. What was he thinking?
I glanced over at Divis, the Lord Commodore, and Brother Lazarus. They watched Brother Maleo, shifted their gaze at the Necron Lord, then back to Brother Maleo as he continued shouting. One by one, they caught my eye, read the confusion on my face, and shrugged their shoulders at me, as though saying, “I don’t know man, don’t look at me, I don’t know what the f*ck is going on!”
After a few back and forth exchanges, however, the Necron Lord declared, “Enough!!” and resumed a threatening posture poised to attack. The Lord Commodore’s tactical assessment matched my own and saw little chance of success in battle with this creature. He ordered a withdrawal away from this chamber and the Necron Lord. Despite the hopelessness of a fight against this thing, I found myself disappointed at not having the opportunity to engage. There is some glory to be had with going in guns blazing against a superior foe. Or, more likely, all these useless words hurled back and forth just really made me want to shoot something.
The Necron Lord did not give chase and we escaped out of the chamber. We continued our journey downwards into the depths in search of the power source Divis had detected.
Xeno and Missionary Finds Common Ground
Following Divis’ auspex scans, our party eventually comes across a massive structure that appears to contain the power source for this entire installation. It has become clear to us that this Necron installation is a transportation nexus and barracks for Necron forces. An untold number of Necron soldiers are held and repaired here along with massive armories. Some of these structures operate as teleportariums able to transport troops to a target destination in an instant, but it appears Necron teleportariums allow for transport over much longer distances and with equipment for less large and clunky than what is commonly used by humanity.
And finally, we have arrived at the power source for this entire facility. As we made our way to the building that housed the power source, the Necron Lord once again made his appearance before us.
Unsurprisingly, Brother Maleo opened fire with his words. Again. I admit. I relaxed and resolved to enjoy the show. It was amusing to see who would win the war of words and make the other appear the fool. Even Divis who is more cold machine than man seemed to find humor in the situation. The Lord Commodore didn’t appear so amused though, and personally, I thought he would suffer a stroke at the frustration of seeing the missionary and Necron Lord go on and on with their debate regarding who is the superior species. Clearly, the Lord Commodore just wanted to get away from this place and move on with other, more profitable endeavors.
Eventually, Brother Maleo said something about humans having so much power superior to the Necrons that we could easily snuff this entire installation out of existence. Now, it was obvious to all of us that this wasn’t true, but I wasn’t going to correct the missionary on the finer points of military reality…not when he was providing us all with such entertainment. I rather wished I had snacks to consume at that point and I developed a strange craving for popped corn.
Anyways, the missionary’s statement about destroying this facility induced actual laughter from the Necron Lord. He invited us to try and destroy the installation, welcoming us into the power source structure. Once inside, we caught sight of the power source. It was a large crystal emanating a bright, green light. Beside the power source, was another of this facility’s teleportation apparatus.
The Necron Lord operated a nearby console and the Necron teleportarium blinked to life. He declared, “If you are foolish enough to believe you can destroy the power source, I bid you, go ahead and try, you foolish humans. However, I have set this teleporter to take you back to your hive world. You are lucky today, humans, for the majority of my peers would have instantly struck you down dead upon entering our transport nexus. I, however, am amused by your kind and kept an eye on you as you blindly wandered around like rats in a maze searching for cheese. Because of the humor you have provided me,” the Necron Lord shifts its gaze to Brother Maleo in particular, “I have decided to spare your lives and send you back from where you came. After all, I have glimpsed the future, and it is you who will bring about the end of your kind. To let you live now will only hasten the end of humanity!”
Ignoring the Necron’s words, the Lord Commodore started heading towards the portal and the way home. But no sooner had the Lord Commodore taken a step did the seneschal draw his storm bolter and opened fire at the crystalline power source. The crystal appeared as though it might have taken a minuscule amount of damage but otherwise came out unscathed. The Lord Commodore turned bright red with anger and yelled, “What are you doing? That is our way out of this place!” The Necron Lord immediately smiled, chuckling in amusement. The rest of us looked on in shock.
A split second later, I recovered from the shock and dived at the seneschal, attempting to tackle and restrain him without hurting him. I grasped at and made contact with his leg, but didn’t manage to get a solid enough grip on him to grapple him down to the ground. The Lord Commodore drew his sword and attacked the seneschal, his anger goading him on to attack with lethal force. However, the wiry senschal dodged the Lord Commodore’s swings. Brother Lazarus appeared to try performing some kind of mind trick on the senschal, but apparently failed because the senschal did not alter his behavior in any noticeable manner. Divis, not wanting to engage the senschal in combat, stood between the seneschal and the power crystal, arms up and yelled, “Wait! Stop shooting it!” All our efforts were to no avail, however, as the renegade seneschal took another shot at the crystal, causing no damage but only narrowly missing Divis.
Ironically, whereas before, we all stared and shook our heads at the Necron Lord and missionary spouting nonsense at each other, it was their turn to stare at us in disbelief. While we were tumbling about, looking like fools trying to take down our fellow bridge crew member who was intent on destroying the only exit we had back home, I overheard the Necron Lord say to Brother Maleo, “Ummmm…does all of mankind act with such stupidity?” And instead of the typical staunch fire & brimstone oratory we typically hear from Brother Maleo, he instead meekly replied, “Well, yes, I admit, there are times when individual members of humanity aren’t exactly the best shining examples of our kind.”
Finally, I was able to tackle the seneschal down to the ground and with me holding him down, the Lord Commodore knocked him unconscious. Naturally, I confiscated the senschal’s rather rare storm bolter, which continues to reside in my personal armory today.
As we finally prepared to exit this place, the Necron Lord stated, “Because you have provided me endless entertainment during your time here, I have a gift to bestow upon each of you prior to your departure.” I do not recall what he gave to my fellow crew members, but he gave me a gauss gun. Admittedly, receiving this xeno gun was a rare treat and to this day, I still value this possession. On that day, however, I remember the missionary looking on at me with disapproval as I took hold of the gauss gun. Pfffft….whatever. It’s a gun!
Finally, we were ready to depart and as we stepped through the portal taking us home, the Necron Lord’s final words rang in our ears, “You WILL bring about the downfall of humanity!”
We emerged back on the surface of the hive world Solace, not far from our landing craft. We made our way back to our flagship and received word from the hive world’s military that chaos forces had overrun Solace’s population centers. Assistance was requested to bombard portions of Solace and we gladly complied. It was far, far too long before I had a chance to shoot anything and a bit of destruction did wonders for my mood. We were thanked and we moved on back to Footfall.
Divis told me later in private conversation that the Necron Lord had an additional offer for Divis prior to our departure from the transport nexus. The Necron Lord offered Divis the chance to transcend his mortal nature and become a full artificial intelligence within the Necron hive mind. I asked Divis if he really considered it, to which he replied that he was. Divis believes that if he had integrated as offered by the Necrons, he would have accessed vast stores of knowledge previously unknown to humans. In addition, he believes that his presence would also serve to disrupt the Necron hierarchy. Individual Necron soldiers who currently act as drones would actually become sentient and develop free thought of their own. The top-down tyranny of Necron Lords would be disrupted and who knows what the implications to Necrons as a race would’ve been. But alas, Divis chose to continue journeying with us instead.
As as for the senschal, he was placed under arrest and a court martial was scheduled. The court martial date came and went. No one paid heed nor questioned it. As far as I know, to this day, the renegade seneschal is still imprisoned in the brig…forgotten and ignored.